29 December 2010

Contrary to Peak Oil Orthodoxy, Oil Industry Reacts to Prices

Khaled Al Buraik, executive director of the government-controlled Saudi Aramco, announced that new technology could add as much as 2 trillion barrels of oil to global proved reserves.
Although the current global oil reserves in place are estimated at 14 trillion barrels, only about 1.2 trillion can be recovered, said Khaled Al Buraik, executive director of the government-controlled Saudi Aramco.

Speaking at a seminar in Riyadh, Buraik said the quantity of oil extracted so far worldwide does not exceed one trillion barrels.

"Advanced technology in hydrocarbon production could add around two trillion barrels to the existing proven crude reserves in the near future," he said in his address, published by Saudi newspapers on Monday.

"The real challenge for scientists and engineers is how to access to nearly 11.8 trillion barrels to meet the growing world needs of hydrocarbon in the future...what is needed now is more effort by scientists and specialists in this field to invent new methods and very advanced technology." _Zawya

Higher oil prices are spurring oil companies to increase their spending for exploration and production.

Brazil's rich offshore reserves keep growing larger

Brazil announces ambitious new underwater technologies to provide easier access to its vast undersea oil wealth

Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) is a growing component of national energy budgets from Britain to Japan, as a compensatory move against higher oil prices.

A new and ambitious approach to increasing the value of cheap, abundant natural gas, is being advanced by San Francisco startup Siluria Technologies.
Siluria has decided not to go after gasoline or diesel but instead to produce ethylene, a building block for plastics, fertilizers, pesticides, beverage bottles, tires and lots of other materials that are now made from oil. Ethylene can also be turned into alkanes, a class of hydrocarbons that are a component of gasoline.

A more important difference, though, could be the energy needed for conversion from the natural hydrocarbon molecule, methane, to the synthetic one, ethylene. In Siluria’s process, using a new kind of catalyst, that conversion gives off heat instead of requiring it. _NYT
I will present more information on Siluria in the future.

As you can see, advancing technologies will bring about both new proved oil reserves and production, AND new substitutes for crude oil in both fuels and chemical uses. Gas to liquids and LNG are certain to achieve traction for significant scaleup within the next 2 years.

It will take about 20 years for advanced biofuels and small modular fission reactors to get approved, licensed, and scaled up to provide significant quantities of energy and fuels. In the meantime, unconventional hydrocarbons such as shale gas, oil sands, coal to liquids, and heavy oils will scale up to ease the transition. If needed, oil shales and methane clathrates can provide more hydrocarbon energy than all other resources put together.

Taken from an earlier posting at Al Fin Energy

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Blogger Kinuachdrach said...

As the Al Fin summary shows, there is no technical problem about providing all the power the human race needs for a long, long time. We could do it with known technologies. We will undoubtedly be able to do it even better with new technologies when they are developed in the future.

The issue is political, not technical. The US Administration does not want oil drilling. Germany, Sweden, Scotland don't want nuclear power plants. Even Australia has a political class which hates coal.

The anti-technology movement is non-sustainable -- not unless a country wants to regress to the 19th Century or earlier.

Knowing that the Greenie anti-technology movement will ultimately self-destruct, should we oppose it? -- or should we encourage its excesses, to hasten its demise?

Wednesday, 29 December, 2010  
Blogger al fin said...

Kin: As of the 1st of January, the US EPA and other US agencies will be taking the green energy starvation agenda to a higher level of economic hazard.

The US economy is more energy dependent than any other except perhaps Canada and Saudi Arabia. Obama has openly chosen energy as his primary target. Destroy a nation's reliable energy sources, and the rest will topple on its own.

Friday, 31 December, 2010  
Blogger Sam said...

...only about 1.2 trillion can be recovered...
...quantity of oil extracted so far worldwide does not exceed one trillion barrels...

So we only have 200 Billion left with well known extraction processes? This sounds like a time to panic to me. Yes I read your blog most every day but I'm not sure I understand your optimism about energy supplies. Also read http://www.parapundit.com/
I like you both but you have opposing views on the availability of oil. I understand shale oil reserves and other alternative energy supplies exists but all cost more so far. I mean this as constructive criticism. You rarely go into exactly where these "low cost" energy supplies are coming from. Cost is the key problem. Reminds me of G.Harry Stines "The Hopeful Future". Is your stance on energy supplies based on the feeling tat humans will find a way? If the powers that be will not put resources into nuclear, drilling or any other way to get large low cost energy supplies it seems to me we will have a long period with constrained energy supplies until some sort of adjustment is made. Either finding more or using less. Once again this is not a flame or any kind of challenge. I'm interested in how you believe we can pull this off.

Monday, 03 January, 2011  
Blogger al fin said...

Thanks for your comment, Sam.

If you read the article again, you should see that there are 1.2 trillion barrels of reserves still to be recovered -- even though almost 1 trillion barrels have been recovered. In other words, there are more reserves still there than the number of barrels that have been recovered.

In place of reading the rest of this comment, you may want to read the words of someone who still believes in peak oil -- but not in peak oil doom. Robert Rapier is another rational peak oiler who disputes the "doomer" predictions.

I am more of an agnostic on the "doom" issue. There are certainly a lot of things we should be worried about.

Politicians have the power to foque the world very badly by choking off energy supplies -- whether in the name of climate hysteria, the human dieoff, or whatever. People living in democracies have no excuse for allowing that to happen.

Political peak oil is the only kind of peak oil other than peak oil demand that has a reasonable chance -- given the massive hydrocarbon reserves which are known to exist.

You may want to check out one of my other blogs, Al Fin Energy. It looks at a wide range of energy technologies.

Apocalyptic peak oil beliefs or climate catastrophe beliefs are very much like religious beliefs of doom.

It is true that significant amounts of work are needed to prevent very problematic energy shortages. But such work will pay a rich profit, so it will be done unless the political powers that be prevent it from being done.

No one who exists within a strong belief system can understand how someone outside of that belief system arrives at his conclusions, unless he is capable of stepping out of his beliefs.

Not everyone is capable of doing that -- of looking at the evidence from outside of their usual string of assumptions. Most people can't do it.

Try to tell a religious believer who believes differently than yourself, why he is wrong. You may as well be speaking a different language.

I've done some work in mental hospitals with schizophrenics and others with strong delusional systems. I understand how these belief systems work in people with mental illness as well as in so-called normals.

Monday, 03 January, 2011  

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

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