Monday, September 28, 2009

Fisking Scientific American on Oil

By Paul Kedrosky

My friend Gregor Macdonald has up a nice and intemperate comment debunking the recent Scientific American article on technology and oil supplies:
I have now read the Scientific American article. It is perhaps one of the more, if not the most insidious of the recent media pieces on peak oil, in that it leverages the truth about technological advances in oil exploration and extraction to create a falsehood: that these technological advances increase aggregate flows in world supply. It was bad enough that the NYT piece invoked Kashagan as an example--a howler of an example really--because of course Kashagan was discovered in 2000 and not a drop of oil will flow until 2014 (at huge expense and after many western oil cos have abandoned the project after huge losses). That the NYT would invoke Kashagan as an example of recent discoveries is almost absurdist. The Sci-Am article also trades on one of the most common, recurring misunderstandings and that has to do with scale. In other words, we are always finding new oil and we have to find new oil because we are losing at least 4 Mb/day each year to decline. So we have to not only find new oil, but we have to develop it and get it flowing each year to make up for existing decline. Sci-Am is reporting on technology advances that have been used for years, but, then very inaccurately runs those advances like a stupid battering ram against peak oil. Which is about peak flows, not peak reserves. It was a truly astonishing article. Any article that conflates reserves and flows is incompetent. The treatment of California and Alberta in particular in the Sci-Am article was so misleading as to be a textbook example of statistical and polemical obfuscation.

continue reading...

and a similar dissing from The Oil Drum:

Peak Oil Not a Problem According to NY Times; Scientific American - Our Response on the Financial Aspects

Recently, we have had two new articles aiming to put to rest people's fears about peak oil. One is from the New York Times:
Oil Industry Sets a Brisk Pace of New Discoveries
It talks about the many discoveries this year, and how, if they continue at the pace they have in the first half, they will be the best since 2000.
The other is from the October Scientific American, called
Squeezing More Oil from the Ground.
It is behind a pay wall (you can get it for $5.95). There is also a draft version available on line. Its premise seems to be that there are a lot of promising areas that we have not yet explored. When you put this together with advances in drilling and the promises of secondary and tertiary recovery, there is a good chance that oil production will not peak for many years.
In this post, we will look a little more at these articles, and see why peak oil, and perhaps the financial issues associated with peak oil, are still an issue, regardless of what these articles may suggest.

continue reading this one...

No comments:

Post a Comment