In the end, does the choice of words really matter?
The “Yes, we’ve reached Peak Oil” versus the “No, we have not” is a distraction—and I’ve done my part to contribute.
But without recognizing and accepting the simple truth that we’re drawing down a finite and depleting resource which necessitates almost unimaginable adaptations and transitions to Plan B, the limits of human ingenuity and technological prowess will inevitably be reached if we keep tweaking the one finite resource mankind has relied upon more than any other.
And thus the heart of the matter.
The wells won’t run dry next week or next month. The sky is not falling. But the peak rate of conventional crude oil production was reached a decade ago. That’s an important fact glossed over by those disputing the message about our future oil supply. For all the Happy Talk courtesy of fossil fuel industry cheerleaders picking nits, that fact alone is an enormous problem.
The higher production totals of recent years are a genuinely impressive achievement, and should not be discounted. But shale production has shown itself to be what peak oil advocates said it would be: a costly, time-consuming, technology-intensive effort with a relatively limited shelf life.
Today’s low, low prices and declining demand owing to current economic conditions, when combined with a less than enthusiastic investment climate and the high debt levels carried by most oil producing companies, is squeezing that pipeline. The “glut” spoken of is a reflection of these factors much more so than a testament to how much oil industry can produce with just a snap of the fingers.
The diminished funding has resulted in severe reduction in exploration projects. They won’t start back up overnight if or when economic conditions improve.
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