18 August 2006

Improved Oil Exploration Technology for the Coming Oil Glut

Coming oil glut? How can anyone believe that, when all you read these days is "peak oil?" Supply and demand determines whether there is an "oil glut"--like the one in the 1990s that accompanied the great Asian recession. Another large regional or global recession would almost instantly create another oil glut. But I refer to a potential oil glut due to increased supply, not to reduced demand.

Oil exploration technology has been fairly stagnant for several decades now. Large, potentially huge, oil reservoirs are going undiscovered due to the lack of good discovery tools. Here is what Len LeShack, oil exploration maverick, thinks:

"There are still hundreds of reservoirs of conventional oil to be found in Alberta, and thousands to be found in the United States, but they are unlikely to be found with conventional exploration methods," says LeSchack.

The president of the privately owned Hectori Inc. of Calgary observes from his experiences.

"The industry is still basically using exploration techniques I learned at university in the 1950s. We geologists worked a lot on intuition, and then used seismic to back it up. Seismic is fine, but seismic can only find what seismic can find."

LeShack is the coauthor of a book that lays out several revolutionary new oil exploration tools that threaten to hold back peak oil for at least several decades.

MIT mathematicians are developing new algorithms to use for seismic exploration, which promises to give new life to that aging technology. This story is being recycled by tech news websites two months late, which gives you an idea of the laxity involved in reporting new oil technology.

Nanotechnology methods are being utilised to improve the yield at existing pumping sites. Such technology promises to extend the life of current wells for many years.

Here is a story that illustrates the potential of newer electromagnetic imaging for discovering new oil reservoirs quickly.

Oil is not the long term solution for human energy needs. Renewable energy is needed to allow the quality of human life to improve around the globe. But it is obvious that the traumatic shocks predicted by peak oil disciples would do no one any good, and set back the prospects for improved living in the developing world indefinitely. Only people who wish for a massive "die-off" of humans are wishing for huge peak oil shocks.

Realistically, the worldwide oil extraction infrastructure is not prepared to deal with huge new oil sources. Especially in Iran and the arab world, and other nationalised oil industries such as Venezuela, the oil drilling and pumping infrastructure is deteriorating rapidly due to neglect and lack of skilled engineers and technicians. The corrupt leaders of those quasi-dictatorships are neglecting the long term, for political expediencies of today.

In addition, low oil prices now would only set back the development of necessary long-term renewables. Even if huge new oil fields are discovered, which is very possible, their timely exploitation is most doubtful. They will exist in limbo, as a counter-weight to the peak oil limbo.

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Blogger al fin said...

I agree that peak oil hysteria is pretty silly. But you must admit that it is an excellent way for a catastrophist to sell a book!


Thursday, 14 September, 2006  

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“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

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