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The Shale Oil Revolution Actually Reflects a Nation in Decline


The Shale Oil Revolution Actually Reflects a Nation in Decline

Faster consumption + no strategy = diminished prospects

Here in the opening month of 2019, as the US consumes itself with hot debate over a border wall, far more important topics are being ignored completely.

Take US energy policy. In the US press and political circles, there’s nothing but crickets sounding when it comes to serious analysis or any sort of sustainable long-term plan.

Once you understand the role of energy in everything, you can begin to appreciate why there’s simply nothing more important to get right.

Energy is at the root of everything. If you have sufficient energy, anything is possible. But without it, everything grinds to a halt.

For several decades now the US has been getting its energy policy very badly wrong.  It’s so short-sighted, and rely so heavily on techno-optimism, that it barely deserves to be called a ‘policy’ at all.

Which is why we predict that in the not-too-distant future, this failure to plan will attack like a hungry wolfpack to bite down hard on the US economy’s hamstrings and drag it to the ground.

Shale Oil Snafu

America’s energy policy blunders are nowhere more obvious than in the shale oil space, where it’s finally dawning on folks that these wells are going to produce a lot less than advertised.

Vindicating our own reports — which drew from the excellent work of Art Berman, David Hughes and Enno Peters’ excellent website — the WSJ finally ran the numbers and discovered that shale wells are not producing nearly as much oil as the operators had claimed they were going to produce:

Fracking’s Secret Problem—Oil Wells Aren’t Producing as Much as Forecast

Jan 2, 2019

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Peak Diesel or no Peak Diesel? The Debate is Ongoing

Peak Diesel or no Peak Diesel? The Debate is Ongoing

In a recent post, Antonio Turiel proposed that the global peak of diesel fuel production was reached three years ago, in 2018. Turiel’s idea is especially interesting since it takes into account the fact that what we call “oil” is actually a wide variety of liquids of different characteristics. The current boom of the extraction of tight oil (known also as “shale oil”) in the United States has avoided, so far, the decline of the total volume of oil produced worldwide (“peak oil”).

Shale oil has changed a lot of things in the oil industry, but it couldn’t avoid the decline of conventional oil. That, in turn, had consequences: shale oil is light oil, not easily converted to the kind of fuel (diesel) which is the most important transportation fuel, nowadays. That seems to have forced the oil industry into converting more and more “heavy” oil into diesel fuel but, even so, diesel fuel is becoming gradually more scarce and more expensive, to the point that its production may have peaked in 2015. In addition, it has created a dearth of heavy oil, the fuel of choice for marine transportation. In short, the famed “peak oil” is arriving not all together, but piecemeal — affecting some kinds of fuels faster than others.

Turiel’s proposal has raised a considerable debate among the experts, with several of them challenging Turiel’s interpretation. Turiel himself and Gail Tverberg (of the “our finite world” blog) discussed the validity of the data and their meaning. Below, I reproduce the exchange with their kind permission. As you will see, the matter is complex and at the present stage it is not possible to arrive at a definitive conclusion. 

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Qatar peak oil

Qatar peak oil

Qatar announces it will leave OPEC


Qatar to withdraw from OPEC in January 2019
Speaking at a news conference in the capital Doha, al-Kaabi said: “The withdrawal decision reflects Qatar’s desire to focus its efforts on plans to develop and increase its natural gas production from 77 million tonnes per year to 110 million tonnes in the coming years.”

“They say it has nothing to do with the blockade on Qatar and that they have been thinking about it for several months now,” Bellis said, referring to a diplomatic blockade on Qatar by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates ( UAE ), Egypt and Bahrain.

Since 2013, the amount of oil Qatar produced has steadily declined from about 728,000 barrels per day in 2013 to about 607,000 barrels per day in 2017, or just under two percent of OPEC’s total output.

Qatar_CandC_liquids_Jan1994-Aug2018Fig 2: All liquids production with EIA data


Fig 3: Crude production and exports (Jodi data)


Fig 4: Qatari oil and gas fields (main oil fields: Dukhan, Al Shaheen, Idd el Shargi)


Fig 5: Crude, condensate and NGL production

OPEC’s Statistical Bulletin


…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…


European oil consumption after North Sea Peak Oil

European oil consumption after North Sea Peak Oil


On the streets of Paris: 24 Nov 2018

Fuel-protests_24Nov2018Fuel price protests on the Champs Elysees



20 Nov 2018: The “gilets jaunes” have a hard time to convince truck drivers to join their movement

They were more successful on the French island of Réunion in the Indian Ocean, where blocked roads and petrol rationing resulted in empty supermarket shelves, highlighting how vulnerable our just-in-time society is.

Reunion_barrages_25Nov201825/11/2018 Road blocks in Réunion

Reunion_fuel-shortage_Nov2018Petrol lines in St Denis, €20 rationing, shops closed, shelves emptying, medical supply disruptions

Oil statistics

European oil production peaked in 2000 at almost 7 mb/d, with a production plateau above 6.8 mb/d lasting for 7 years between 1996 and 2002. 17 years after the peak, production was around half of what it was at peak.

Europe_production_imports_1965-2017Fig 1: Europe oil consumption, net oil imports and production

BP’s definitions are as follows: “Oil production includes crude oil, shale oil, tar sands and NGLs (natural gas liquids – the liquid content of natural gas where this is recovered separately). It excludes liquid fuels from other sources such as biomass and derivatives of coal and natural gas.

Oil consumption is from inland demand plus international aviation and marine bunkers and refinery fuel and loss. Consumption of biogasoline (such as ethanol), biodiesel and derivatives of coal and natural gas are also included.

Notes: Differences between these world consumption figures and world production statistics are accounted for by stock changes, consumption of non-petroleum additives”

In Fig 1 and 3, net oil imports are calculated as the difference between production and consumption.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Low Oil Prices: An Indication of Major Problems Ahead?

Low Oil Prices: An Indication of Major Problems Ahead?

Many people, including most Peak Oilers, expect that oil prices will rise endlessly. They expect rising oil prices because, over time, companies find it necessary to access more difficult-to-extract oil. Accessing such oil tends to be increasingly expensive because it tends to require the use of greater quantities of resources and more advanced technology. This issue is sometimes referred to as diminishing returns. Figure 1 shows how oil prices might be expected to rise, if the higher costs encountered as a result of diminishing returns can be fully recovered from the ultimate customers of this oil.

Figure 1. Chart showing expected long-term rise in oil prices as the full cost of oil production becomes increasingly expensive due to diminishing returns.

In my view, this analysis suggesting ever-rising prices is incomplete. After a point, prices can’t really keep up with rising costs because the wages of many workers lag behind the growing cost of extraction.

The economy is a networked system facing many pressures, including a growing level of debt and the rising use of technology. When these pressures are considered, my analysis indicates that oil prices may fall too low for producers, rather than rise too high for consumers. Oil companies may close down if prices remain too low. Because of this, low oil prices should be of just as much concern as high oil prices.

In recent years, we have heard a great deal about the possibility of Peak Oil, including high oil prices. If the issue we are facing is really prices that are too low for producers, then there seems to be the possibility of a different limits issue, called Collapse. Many early economies seem to have collapsed as they reached resource limits.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

For Whom is Peak Oil Coming? If you own a Diesel Car, it is Coming for you!

For Whom is Peak Oil Coming? If you own a Diesel Car, it is Coming for you!

At the beginning, the idea of “peak oil” seemed to be relatively uncomplicated: we would climb from one side and then go down the other side. But no, the story turned out to be devilishly complex. For one thing, there is no such a thing as “oil” intended as a combustible liquid — there are tens, perhaps hundreds, of varieties of the stuff: light, heavy, sour, sweet, shale, tight, dumbbell, and more. And each variety has its story, its peculiarities, its trajectory over time. Eventually, all the oil curves have to end to zero but, in the meantime, there is a lot of wiggling up and down that continues to take us by surprise. Mostly, we didn’t realize how rabidly the system would deny the physical reality of depletion, much preferring to “legislate scarcity” on the basis of pollution.

Here, Antonio Turiel writes a fascinating post telling us how the peak is coming “from below,” affecting first the heavy fraction of crude oil: diesel and fuel oil. That’s already causing enormous problems for the world’s transportation system, as well as for the owners of diesel cars, and the situation will become much more difficult in the near future. The light fraction, the one that produces gasoline, seems to be still immune from peaking, but that will come, too.(U.B.)

The Peak of Diesel Fuel: 2018 edition. 

By Antonio Turiel (translated from “The Oil Crash“)
Dear Readers,
Six years ago we commented on this same blog that, of all the fuels derived from oil, diesel was the one that would probably see its production decline first. 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Kenneth S. Deffeyes’ HUBBERT’S PEAK: The Impending World Oil Shortage

This is the first of three books that the late geologist Kenneth S. Deffeyes, who passed away a year ago this week, wrote about the coming global oil crisis. The goal of these books is to provide readers a rudimentary understanding of oil, where it came from and what’s involved in finding and producing it, in order to raise awareness about the peril we face as oil depletes. All three books deftly achieve this aim courtesy of Deffeyes’ expertise, his gift for communicating science information and his great wit.

Part of what makes the books so accessible is that they’re almost as much autobiographies as textbooks, allowing us to get to know their author personally. Chapter one of Hubbert’s Peak tells of how Deffeyes’ career began at the prestigious Shell Oil research lab in Houston, Texas, in 1958. An oilman through and through, he felt at home in the field; but while at Shell, he met someone whose research persuaded him that the U.S. oil industry didn’t have long to live. The person in question was Marion King Hubbert, a preeminent geoscientist who today is best known for his theory of peak oil. In 1956 Hubbert accurately predicted that U.S. conventional oil production would peak between 1965 and 1970, then begin an irreversible decline. Based on Hubbert’s numbers, Deffeyes concluded that the U.S. oil industry would shrink drastically in coming decades.

A Novel

So, in the late 1960s, he decided to leave the oil business and become a geology professor at Princeton University. In 1997, after teaching there for 30 years, he retired, became an emeritus professor and commenced writing his books about oil. By that time, Hubbert, who had become a close friend of Deffeyes’, had long since passed away.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

What Is “Peak Oil” and How Can It Lead to Global Economic Collapse?

What Is “Peak Oil” and How Can It Lead to Global Economic Collapse?

Despite a steadily improving economy in the US, the same cannot be said for much of the rest of the world. And while there are strong and growing economies in places like China that can literally give the US a run for its money, there is one undeniable fact that many believe can and will eventually bring the world economies to a devastating state – we are using far more energy than the world’s oil reserves.

Dr. Stephen Leeb, who holds degrees in economics, mathematics, and physics, writes in his book, The Coming Economic Collapse, “The crisis is energy-related and will be brought about by the conflict between rising global demand for energy and our growing inability to increase energy production.” The supply and demand dynamics of oil are so out of balance that Leeb predicts it will not be long before we see crude oil at $200 per barrel!

In Dr. Leeb’s first book, The Oil Factor, which was written several years ago, he predicted the price of a barrel of oil would go to $100. It did reach a high of 113.00 in 2011. And while prices have dropped since then — largely due to stepping up in US production — they are trending back upward and are currently around 75.00 a barrel.

Professor Leeb’s concepts are still valid — oil is still a limited resource. He just may be off by a few years, just like Orwell. 2018 is right now looking a hell of a lot like his “1984.”

Most of us are woefully in denial about how much oil there really is remaining in the world’s oil reserves. We have been lulled into this ridiculous notion that the supply of oil is limitless.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Peak Oil, 20 Years Later: Failed Prediction or Useful Insight?

Peak Oil, 20 Years Later: Failed Prediction or Useful Insight?

Peak Oil by Campbell and Laherrere 1998
20 years ago, Colin Campbell and Jean Laherrere published an article on “Scientific American” that was to start the second cycle of interest on oil depletion (the first had been started by Hubbert in the 1950s). Their prediction turned out to be too pessimistic, at least in terms of the supply of combustible liquids, still growing today. Yet, it was a valuable warning of things to come, unfortunately ignored by decision-makers worldwide. 
The first cycle of interest in oil depletion was started by Marion King Hubbert in the 1950s. Although it provided successful predictions for the production of crude oil in the US, the interest in oil depletion waned in the 1980s. The same destiny of growth and decline awaited the second cycle, that went under the name of “peak oil movement” and that was generated in 1998 by a famous article published by Colin Campbell and Jean Laherrere on “Scientific American.”
Today, the second cycle is winding down and even mentioning the concept of “peak oil” is enough to be branded as a diehard catastrophist, unable to understand how the fracking revolution is leading us to a new age of prosperity under America’s energy dominance. Yet, there are symptoms that the great peak could be finally arriving and – who knows? – a third cycle of interest in oil depletion could be starting.
I published some considerations on this subject in an article that appeared on “Energy Research & Social Science” — it is “open access” and you can find it at this link. After re-examining the story of the peak oil cycle, I conclude that there was no solid reason to reject the peak oil studies, as it was done starting in the mid 2000s.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Are Claims Of Peak Oil Production In Russia Overblown?

Are Claims Of Peak Oil Production In Russia Overblown?


Russian authorities have announced that domestic oil production hit 11.36 million barrels per day (bpd), on average, in September (Vedomosti, October 2). This marks a new historic peak, rea­ched despite the often-cited poor shape of the Russian economy and negative impact of Western sanctions, not to mention the restrictions self-imposed on Moscow by the 2016 deal with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) (see Jamestown.org, March 8). Commenting on this fact, Vagit Alekperov, LukOIL’s CEO and principal shareholder, assumed the cur­rent out­put levels cannot be sustained, arguing that Russia has already reached the li­mit of its oil pro­duction capacity. On the other hand, Russia’s Energy Minister Alexander Novak strongly disagreed (Neftegaz.ru, October 3).

Alekperov’s estimate should be considered with at least so­me degree of skepticism. First of all, such bearish assessments have be­en made—incorrectly—many times in the past. Back in 2005, then–deputy prime minister Viktor Khristenko predic­ted that oil production, at that time at 9.6 million bpd, would definitely decline after 2010 (Versia, August 25, 2016). And four years later, Mikhail Krutikhin, one of Russia’s most respected energy analysts, told Western journalists, “We now see production peaked last year,” so, “I believe the decline will continue for quite a number of years” (BBC News, April 15, 2008). Several other notable examples of suggestions that the Russian oil output had peaked could also be mentioned. And until recently, the consensus forecast for 2020 stood at 10.2 million bpd—i.e., more than 10 percent below the rate recorded last month.

Could Russia’s oil output continue to grow in the years to come? Such a scenario is certainly probable, but it will only be achieved as long as several difficult conditions are rectified.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

What If There Isn’t Enough Energy Going Forward?


What If There Isn’t Enough Energy Going Forward?

We’ll be forced to live with less. Maybe a LOT less.

Currently the media is breathlessly cheering the record amounts of US oil production. Stories like this one get top billing on major news websites:

Texas Gulf Coast exports more oil than it imports for the first time (CNN)

It’s a big achievement that highlights a surge in US oil exports, and that shows how the shale boom can make America less reliant on foreign oil.

“It’s a definite milestone. Nobody saw this coming 10 years ago,” said Bob McNally, president of consulting firm Rapidan Energy Group and a former energy official under President George W. Bush. “It’s an unambiguously good thing. It diversifies our dependence from the volatile Middle East.”

Texas is the epicenter of the shale revolution, with soaring production in the oil-rich Permian Basin leading the United States to record output. Rapid technological advances in fracking, the process of unlocking oil and gas deep underground, have dramatically reduced the cost to drill oil in the Permian Basin.

Texas is now on track to produce more oil than either Iran or Iraq. That would make Texas No. 3 in the world if it were a country.

Sounds pretty wonderful, right? Technology advances in the fracking process have enabled the “shale miracle”, resulting in the US producing over 10 million barrels per day for the first time since the 1970s. Think of all the incremental GDP growth that excess oil will power!

If these trends continue, CNN goes on to tell us, the US will become an net energy exporter soon:

US on track to become net energy exporter

The United States still relies on foreign oil — but not as much.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Frank Kaminski reviews two peak oil documentaries from 2008

Frank Kaminski reviews two peak oil documentaries from 2008

BLIND SPOT: Peak Oil and the Coming Global Crisis

A Documentary Directed, Written, Photographed, and Edited by Adolfo Doring–1 hour, 26 minutes

and FUEL

A Documentary Directed and Narrated by Josh Tickell–1 hour, 52 minutes

These two documentaries on the world oil crisis came out in 2008, a time of growing concern over humankind’s energy future. In the decade since then, public interest in the issue has waned, but the relevance of these films hasn’t–they remain valuable, engaging portraits of the quandary we face at the end of the oil age. Blind Spot provides the proverbial 30,000-foot view of our situation, whereas Fuel gives a personal, on-the-ground account of one man’s activist crusade. Both films are far from perfect. One fails to adequately address how we should respond to our crisis, while the other is unrealistically optimistic about the responses it suggests. Still, both are important films, and they’re all the more compelling when viewed together, given their disparate but complementary perspectives.

A Documentary

Blind Spot is uncompromising about the realities we face as we leave the era of cheap, abundant oil behind. A formidable cast of geoscientists, physicists, environmental analysts, inventors and other experts details the essence of our plight. Our modern world, which requires ever-increasing quantities of easily obtainable oil, faces a future of ever-dwindling supply. Because oil is finite and the rate of new oil discoveries has been dropping since the early 1960s, logic and mathematics dictate that its production will eventually reach an all-time high, followed by permanent decline. The numbers indicate that the point of peak production, a phenomenon called “peak oil,” is imminent. And, sadly, alternative energy sources, for all the hype they’ve generated, are powerless to save us. They are nowhere near as energy-dense as oil, and we’ve already waited too long to invest meaningfully in them.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Peak oil in China and the Asia Pacific (part 2)

Peak oil in China and the Asia Pacific (part 2)

South China Sea: ‘Leave immediately and keep far off’


Fig 1: U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon reconnaissance plane overflying disputed Spratly islands



Fig 2: Subi reef location in the South China Sea


Fig 3: CSIS image of Subi reef low tide elevation (976 acres reclaimed). https://amti.csis.org/subi-reef/


Fig 4: USGS 2010 assessment of undiscovered oil resources

According the USGS there is not much oil in the South China Sea. China is securing its oil supply routes as future oil imports are going to increase after production peaked 2010-2015.


On average, Chinese oil consumption grew exponentially (!) between 1982 and around 2010 at 6.5% pa. In some years, there were huge variations around this trend. For example in 2004 oil consumption increased by almost 1 million barrels/day, 500 kb/d above the long term trend. This spike was caused by additional fuel oil needed for back-up power generators as there were wide spread power shortages. In the following (Katrina) year 2005 consumption growth dropped to just 150 kb/d as fuel shortages started.


Smoke and Mirrors in China’s Oil Statistics
June 2008
In recent years, oil product shortages in China have frequently caught the attention of the world. In August 2005, China’s southern manufacturing heartland of Guandong was plagued by closed service stations, fuel rationing and hours-long gas queues, and authorities were forced to send thousands of police to petrol stations in Guangzhou to prevent massive social unrest as drivers scrambled to fill their tanks (Wall Street Journal, August 19, 2005). In May 2006, a diesel shortage hit Guangdong again and lasted for half a month until a 270,000 ton emergency stock of gasoline and diesel fuel were allocated to the local market by China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation (Sinopec) (Xinhua News Agency, May 23, 2006). 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…



America The Insolvent


America The Insolvent

A reckoning is due. One the elites are already readying for.

Watching the world these days, I’m experiencing the same fury that rises up from my gut when the driver in the car ahead me is weaving drunkenly, endangering everyone on the road.

Fury is a normal and rational human response when threatened with unnecessary harm. Women who are groped (or worse) by a disgusting predator like Harvey Weinstein, pensioners whose funds are stolen by Wall Street shysters, everyone who is being fleeced by corporations in search of a few extra dollars this quarter —  all have the right to be infuriated.

It’s been especially hard of late for those of us who are “reality”-based; who value data, fundamentals and historical context.

I earn my living by reading, analyzing and making sense of the world, and then working to help orient people’s actions to align with both the current reality and future probabilities. But that’s become pretty damn difficult in a world where the financial markets are rigged and the main news outlets are unwilling (unable?) to cover the real issues, preferring instead to focus on distractions that mainly serve to keep us isolated and divided.

The trajectory our global society is on will not end well, and that infuraties me. And the fact that most of the coming suffering is unnecessary if only we’d make better choices — that really pisses me off.

Here’s just a small smattering of the threats we’ve created for ourselves:

  1. $247 trillion of global debt, growing exponentially
  2. Off-budget liabilities well over a quadrillion dollars globally ($220+ trillion in the US alone)
  3. Massively underfunded pensions mathematically unable to meet their future obligations
  4. A coming peak in world oil supply somewhere between 2020-2030 (and around 2022 for the US)
  5. A global economy that requires perpetual growth, but can’t grow for much longer due to planetary resource constraints

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

10 years after the oil price spike: Is peak oil a process rather than a moment?

10 years after the oil price spike: Is peak oil a process rather than a moment?

Ten years ago this week—July 11, 2008 to be exact—the price of a barrel of oil on the New York Mercantile Exchange hit an intraday high of $147.27, its highest price ever. By the following autumn the world economy was in shambles and the price of oil was tumbling. The oil price eventually bottomed out around $34 per barrel in mid-February the following year.

Oil prices started 2002 around $20 per barrel and then rose almost continuously until mid-2008. As they rose, the world’s best known critic of peak oil* prognostications, Daniel Yergin, began to look so foolish for having predicted ample supplies for decades to come that his firm finally reversed itself in mid-2008 and began to forecast higher prices. That should have been read as a contrarian signal; just two months later the oil bull market ended.

Peak oil thinkers at the time believed that their forecast of a nearby all-time peak in the rate of world oil production had been fulfilled. The official numbers seemed to confirm this. Petroleum geologist Kenneth Deffeyes’ had made a half-serious prediction that Thanksgiving Day 2005 would mark the all-time high for production. Production of crude oil including lease condensate (which is the definition of oil) was slightly more than 74 million barrels per day (mbpd) in December 2005, but thereafter declined.

Despite high and rising prices oil production failed to exceed that number for two years. In December 2007 production inched above the previous high mark and stayed there through July 2008, the month the oil price peaked. That month the world produced slightly more than 75 mbpd.

In August production fell by more than one million barrels and did not surmount 75 mbpd until two years later.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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