Peak Oil Passnotes: A Peak Oil Critique
By Edward Tapamor
We all believe in peak oil. Everyone believes in peak oil. Yes, apart from the whacko brigade that say oil reservoirs fill up again due to abiosis. Sensible people can stop giggling now please. Abiotic oil is sheer lunacy.
So, everyone believes in peak oil. Yes, even Daniel Yergin and his band of merry persons at Cambridge Energy Research Associates. They admit to an “undulating plateau.” Even Jeroen van der Veer, head of Royal Dutch Shell [NYSE:RDS-B] said there would be “many peaks.” In other words oil would be one of them.
The “undulating plateau” is also part of peak oil. It is not a magic moment when oil reaches a maximum then descends like a child’s drawing of a mountain. It will reach a maximum one day and it will descend but most likely it will have a long tail. A pleateauing, undulating kind of tail if you get my graphic drift.
Even Michael Lynch, the anti-peaker in chief, believes in peak oil. He does think that there will be a maximum level of production, he just thinks it will not be until next century.
Because what happens with peak oil is that everyone starts to argue about the date. It is now, last year, next year, in 2010, 2030 or in Mr. Lynch’s case 2130.
The arguments over peak oil are also thrown into doubt by some, or many, of its proponents. The Association for the Study of Peak Oil last year published an article by a neo-fascist – actually that’s too kind he was just a regular fascist – that rambled hysterically about some kind of Darwinist, eugenicist fantasy. Where the weak would die off in the peak oil tumult and some kind of stronger race of people would survive, without the aid of nasty liberal wishy-washy things like hospitals, medicine and social benefit. And oil.
Overnight it tarnished the name of a group who up to then had seemed relatively coherent and approachable. One TV reporter was telling me about a meeting with a man who has spoken widely on peak oil events – not an ASPO representative - who turned to him and said “you know six million didn’t die don’t you?”
I myself have had peak oil advocates telling me 9-11 was an inside job. One telling me how his “prophecy” was ignored by the mainstream media. Telling me the CIA are tapping their phones, using x-rays to view into their houses and so on.
Then we get people like James Kunstler who has to be the chief ranter of the peak oil movement. He really cusses a lot. That’s right … swears!! Richard Heinberg who just has a hopeless, you-are-ducked, smile about him. Matt Savinar the expert doomer who trained to be a lawyer. No!! Not a lawyer. Paul Roberts who was horrified that he saw a 30% water cut in one field or another. No not 30%!!
One thing unites those men. Publishing revenue.
Matt Simmons’ book Twilight in the Desert made some good points. But it also made some really bad ones. After people trawled through it, once again, we were faced with, well, conjecture.
So let’s look at these figures from this week. Real nice figures. No swearing, no trainee lawyers, no smug academic grins.
In May U.S. production fell 459,000 barrels a day year on year. In May U.K. production fell 292,000 barrels a day. Mexican data saw a 150,000 barrels a day slide and statistics from Norway saw a 226,000 barrel a day fall.
For 2006 as a whole production is down by 196,000 barrels a day in the U.K. and 503,000 barrels a day in the U.S., 229,000 barrels a day in Norway and by 24,000 barrels a day in Mexico.
French company Total [NYSE:TOT] saw production – which may well rise again it is true – fall 9% year on year. BP [NYSE:BP] said it will struggle to meet its targets for 2006, 4.2 million barrels a day despite 1 million barrels a day from its venture with TNK [OTCPK:TNKBF] in Russia. Shell [NYSE:RDS-B] produced more in 2003 than it does now and the only companies who have put on big production outside of Eni [NYSE:E] in Italy have done it by buying other companies, ConocoPhillips [NYSE:COP], Chevron [NYSE:CVX] and so on.
Everyone believes in peak oil. But maybe they could just stick to the figures.