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Peak Oil

Peak oil is very broadly the theory that the worlds ability to produce oil has peaked and that from here on in, production levels will reduce. I'd heard of this theory before but not paid it much attention. Yesterday, I listened to a programme about it on Radio 4 and found it quite thought provoking. Several views from differing quarters were presented and the various scenarios put forward varied greatly.
I don't know very much about 'Peak Oil' and its possible affects on our society, has anyone else heard of, or got a view on it ?

Heres some information that I've found on the internet.

As I say, this is almost a new one on me but it seems to me, that its not a matter of whether we are going to be affected by this phenomonon but when.

I think we hit it a few years back.

Usage is still going up.

They are drilling in more & more risky places (just ask BP) & its costing more & more to get it out. They are also looking at places like the tar pits as they get desperate to satisfy our demand.

The world recession that we are currently experiencing is helping to mask the effect at the moment.

I think that it is high time the towns, city, regional, national and general transportaion managers and planners really need to start looking towards Amsterdam and Copenhagen as role models.

The fossil fuels are running out, and when it happens, it will not be just cars, lorries, trains and ships that will be affected by by the lack of fuel, but all agriculture, industry and commerce. It really is time that we start to treat Oil, Natural Gas and Coal as a commodity, and not a consumible.

We as a society must begin to move away from the car, and planning our towns and citys around the car, moving pro-actively towards alternative means of transportation. My positive stance upon the bicycle as personal and light frieght transportation is well known, but I also think that there is more than adequete room for a return to Horse drawn power, be it wagons & dreys, trams and barges, etc.

A nice thought Gareth, I wish that it would happen but it wont.

Rising populations and worldwide trade are both factors that will insure the final train wreck is a big one.  A world without oil is a scary thought,  My hope is in science and its ability to find some way to efficiently produce an alternative clean fuel as I am all to aware of the selfishness of humanity.

I think if science was going to find a way we'd be seeing some sign of it by now. The States peaked in the seventies and have been rampaging round the world pretty much ever since. The right to a car is almost as enshrined in their national psyche as the right to bear arms, and we're not much better. I've heard people say that 'they' have a plan and that they are simply waiting till all the profit has been made on oil before they roll it out.... Well, that doesn't add up to me. I'm pretty sure that if there was a solution waiting in the wings, it would have been rolled out by now as getting oil from abroad is expensive and unreliable, neither of which are terms that big business like to hear about their core product.

Our entire way of life is predicated on the assumption that we will always have cheap energy and that is clearly not the case. We have a huge problem headed our way fast and nobody seems to be wanting to face up to it. There is a fear of losing the way of life we have now, which is understandable but ultimately, not really very helpful. Bit like pretending you can't feel the twinge in your broken tooth because you are scared of the dentist.... You can either face your fears and go and get the problem sorted, or wait till it's two in the morning and you are in agony, can't get any pain relief, no 24hr dentists and all you have is a rather ancient bottle of clove oil that not only tastes repugnant but doesn't actually make a blind bit of difference....     Somehow, it's turned into a rant against clove oil???  Must get out more!

If you want to find out a bit more, then have a look at
Its a forum all about peak oil and a good resource for various ideas and very thought provoking. You might even find the occasional post by me.
The debate about weather we have hit peak oil yet is academic, we are rapidly running out of finite resources. If we don't change our ways soon, we are all going to hell in a handcart.

When talking about peak oil, oil reserves and trying to predict the future of world energy supply, it is imortant to realise that oil reserves are expressed as producable reserves. This means the amount of oil we can extract from the earth crust with our present day technology from the currently known wells and unexploited oil fields.

Oil is a liquid and as all liguids, can be compressed by approx. 15%. So as soon as 15% ONLY of the total amount of oil in a field is extracted, there is no more pressure on the well and the well will be closed (taken out of production) with 85% of it's original quantity of oil still being present in the field. This means that so far we have been able to fuel our economy for over 100 years with less than 15% of the amount of oil there is physically available.

In practice the well is closed well before 15% is extracted as, when the pressure drops, production speed drops too and at a certain point it is no longer economically feasable to keep producing, although there still flows oil from the well.

Over the past 25 years technology is developed to both increase production speed and to increase the amount of oil that can be taken out of the well by approx. 3% > This does not seem a lot, but it does mean that the produceable oil reserve increased by 20% ( from appr. 15% to appr. 18% ). And as we speak, newer technologies are being developed to extract even more oil from a well and also to produce oil from wells and sources that we were previously unable to exploit (eg. under deep water). But as adding technology also means adding cost, these technologies can and will only be applied when the oil price is high enough to cover the additional cost.

So, the conclusion of all this is, that there is still more than enough oil available to cover our needs for a very long time, but the more we consume, the higher the price will get. So alternative energy is not a matter of need, but a matter of cost, and as the cost of oil will rise, so will alternative sources become more available - but not a the low cost we are currently paying for our fossil fuel I can guarantee you that.

Thank you Dutch you have put it much better than I could   There are wells around even now being reopened up as things change. Also there is a lot of technology out there now but also a lot of reasons not to use it eg; hydrogen, how do you tax it's use? How do you set up delivery etc. Years ago here we were using natural gas in cars but not now a lot of it is burnt off at oil rig sites off our coasts

I'm just finishing reading David Mackay excellent book called Sustainable Energy without the hot air. Well worth reading not only regarding the consequences of peak oil but of energy use in general.

By the way the most likely source of future energy is nuclear fusion, which in contrary to present nuclear plants that split atoms, actually fuses atoms by the same process as the sun does. There is a near-worldwide research effort going on called ITER where a research fusion plant is being constructed in southern France near Nice. The facility is planned to start operation in 2019 and scientists believe that this will lead to commercial use of fusion plants in 30-50 years time.

Nuclear fusion is quite safe, clean and produces very little waste, and best of all it's feedstock is Hydrogen which is widely available on earth. The ITER plant should yield 10 times the amount of energy that it consumes, and expectation is that future commercial plants based on the ITER research results will have a better efficiency.

The biggest challenge for  the ITER project is to harness the extremely high temperatures that result from nuclear fusion.

The ITER plant is a joint effort of the EU, USA, India, China, Japan, Korea and Russia and will cost at least $ when finished, but most likely a bit of change more. So there are most certainly efforts being undertaken to "do something about it"

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