IEA Facts and Fictions

by Rud Istvan and Brandon Shollenberger

Comments on the previous Climate Etc post on Maggio and Cacciola’s paper, When will oil, natural gas, and coal peak? motivated an analysis of the World Energy Outlook produced annually by the International Energy Agency (IEA).

IEA is an autonomous Paris based organization sponsored by 28 OECD countries that was formed in response to the 1973/4 Arab oil embargo. Over time its charter has expanded from a focus on energy security to include economic development (“eliminate energy poverty”), environmental awareness (“options for tackling climate change”), and world engagement (“solutions to shared energy and environmental concerns”).

IEA puts out an annual World Energy Outlook (WEO) for all energy, not just oil. “The WEO projections are used by the public and private sector as a framework on which they can base their policy- making, planning and investment decisions and to identify what needs to be done to arrive at a supportable and sustainable energy future …

IEA also conducts original research. WEO 2008 reported a study of the largest sample of conventional oil fields ever done (according to them). The sample was 798 fields, including all supergiants (>5 Bbbl reserves), virtually all giants (>500Mbbl), and most major fields (>100 Mbbl). These fields comprised over ¾ of world conventional oil reserves and over 2/3 of oil production in 2007 (94% of world production comes from fewer than 1500 ≥major fields).

“The findings of a detailed field-by-field analysis of the historical production trends of 800 fields, set out in Part B of this Outlook, indicate that observed decline rates (the observable fall in production) are likely to accelerate in the long term in each major world region.”

Uh oh, especially since the production weighted annual decline in the sample was already 5.1% per year. Like the Red Queen in Through the Looking Glass, IEA pointed out the oil industry has to run harder and harder just to stand in place on capacity, since the low hanging fruit has already been picked. [1]


Decline in existing capacity happens despite reserve growth in discovered fields. Prudhoe Bay is an example. Reserves grew 40% over 30 years, yet Prudhoe production declined after only 15. This makes geophysical sense. Reserve growth occurs as the margins of the main field are developed, and as enhanced oil recovery (EOR) methods squeeze out the last drop.


There are numerous drop squeezing EOR methods,  which have been used for many years. Water flood of Ghawar began in 1964. Steam flood of Kern River began in 1965. CO2 injection into Permian basin fields began about 1980. MRC infill of Wayburn began about 1990. WEO 2008 provided an example for a typical heavy crude in a typical carbonate reservoir.


The ‘last drop squeezed’ is declining. WEO 2008 said its sample’s median production weighted recovery factor was only 35%. (The USGS uses 34%, IHS uses 36%.) This has to do with the geophysical viscosity, porosity, and permeability of oil fields. It is only 27% in a larger sample including many smaller fields. Future recovery factors will decline along with the larger producing fields.


Yet IEA WEO 2010 was quite sanguine about future oil prices over the next two and a half decades. (In sharp contrast to the IMF, whose recent working paper WP/12/109 forecasts oil at $200/bbl with declining post peak capacity by 2020.) [2] The IEA price projection is only a little above inflation (unless climate change policies sharply limit CO2 to 450ppm by ‘forcibly’ suppressing demand).


This is because WEO 2010 projected world oil production would keep pace with demand through 2035. This optimistic projection is about as factually sound as IPCC AR4’s climate sensitivity estimates. It contains more glaring inconsistencies than AR4 WG3 section 9.6 on ECS.


The figure predicts more than half of projected conventional capacity replacement is from fields already discovered but yet to be developed. This projection is based on the IEA inventory of discovered fields not yet in production (pp. 257-8): “Output from new conventional oilfields, not yet in production, makes the biggest contribution to compensating for this loss of capacity… The 257 billion barrels of yet-to-be-developed conventional oil reserves are distributed in 1,874 fields, 971 of which are onshore and 903 offshore” The average field from WEO 2008 table 11.2 was 103Mbbl for non-OPEC, and 203Mbbl for OPEC, both barely major. Since there are only 38 giants in this inventory, many of the other discovered but undeveloped fields are not even majors. They are minors.

Oil companies do not spend large sums discovering a field only to leave it sit fallow–except for some good reason. There are many minor isolated discoveries where adding production infrastructure isn’t economic at current oil prices. This has happened, for example, in Africa and in offshore. Since projected IEA prices don’t rise significantly above inflation, these numerous minor fields would still not be brought into production by 2035.

There are certainly major discoveries that await infrastructure construction to begin production. Prudhoe Bay waited 4 years for the Alaska pipeline. The 8  non-OPEC situations can be enumerated, and amounted to about 60% of the non-OPEC inventory. Supergiant Kashagan with 13 Bbbl was discovered in 2000. It has waited nearly 12 years for construction of the Kazakhstan-China pipeline at a cost (estimates vary wildly) between $46 and $116 billion. It comes fully on line during 2013, with planned maximum capacity reaching 1.5 mbpd in 2014 (and with planned abandonment after 2040). Similar to Prudhoe Bay. The other non-OPEC major discoveries awaiting full production in 2008 were the seven Brazilian deepwater subsalt fields found 2007/8 in the Santos and Campos basins. These fields include three supergiants (Sugar Loaf has 33 Bbbl TRR), and were all together about 62Bbbl TRR (Technically Recoverable Reserves). Since then, 26 FPSOs have been built and placed to produce about 3mbpd in 2013. 14 more are to be added by the end of 2014. These Brazilian fields will be on ‘full’ production at an estimated 4.5 mbpd by 2017. A Brazilian FPSO (Floating Production Storage Offload Vessel) is a really big, really expensive production platform/storage tank.

And then there is OPEC. OPEC stockpiles discoveries in order not to overproduce and lower the price of oil. OPEC’s share of the IEA inventory was 133Bbbl, about half. WEO 2008 (pp.273-274) gives a lot of seemingly comforting facts (pp. 273-274):

“There are more than 100 [major] onshore fields awaiting development, each holding more than 100 million barrels and with combined reserves of more than 50 billion barrels. The bulk of them are in just three countries: Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq. Two-thirds of those reserves are concentrated in about 30 giant fields (each holding more than 500 million barrels), including Sharar, Niban, Jaladi, Dhib and Lugfah fields in Saudi Arabia, Halfayah, Hamrin, Tuba and Ratawi fields in Iraq, and Hosseinieh, Kuskh and Kuh-I-Mand fields in Iran.”

Uh oh. 70% of the discovered/unproduced OPEC fields are only major/minor since 2/3 of their reserves are in just 30 giants.

Saudi Arabia is the most important producer. According to p. 274:

“Five major onshore projects, Khurais, Khursaniyah, Hawiyah, Shaybah and Nuayyim, which collectively hold 13 billion barrels of reserves, are all in the final phases of development and are projected to provide a total gross capacity addition of close to 3 mb/d by 2015.”

That means about 13mbpd of Saudi capacity. About confirming a 2011 wikileaked diplomatic cable that said,

“Aramco can reach 12 million b/d within the next 10 years, it will be unable to meet the goal of 12.5 million b/d by 2009. The former EVP added that sustaining 12 million b/d output will only be possible for a limited period of time, and even then, only with a massive investment program. According to al-Husseini, the crux of the issue is twofold. First, it is possible that Saudi reserves are not as bountiful as sometimes described and the timeline for their production not as unrestrained as Aramco executives and energy optimists would like to portray.” [3]

In Iraq, Halfayah (a 4.1 Bbbl giant) went into 2012 production with ultimate potential of 535kbpd. Hamrin went in production in 2003 (an IEA error) and is being expanded to 60kbpd. Tuba was producing 50kbpd by yearend 2011. Ratawi is a supergiant near Basrah with up to 10 Bbbl TRR. It was fast tracked to 250kbpd in 2012. Mismanaged Iraq produced 3.4mbpd in 2010. Iraq itself projects 5mbpd by 2015. The IEA projected 6.1mbpd by 2020. Iraq’s presently discovered but undeveloped future capacity is at most (6.1-3.4) 2.7mbpd.

In Iran, the Hosseinieh and Kuskh fields were discovered in 2000 and 2002. China bought a 20% production interest in 2004 when production was already 300kbpd—another IEA error. Kuh-i-Mand production began in 2008. Iran peaked in 1976 at 6.6mbpd. 2008 production was 3.9mbpd.  2010 was 3.7mbpd. Iran’s oil ministry forecast further decline to 2.7mbpd in 2015. [4] Additional Iranian capacity from existing discovered/undeveloped fields is a fiction.

This enumerates [1.5 (Kashagan)+4.5 (Brazil deepwater)+ 3 (Saudi Arabia maybe, 2 more likely)+ 2.7 (Iraq)+ 0 (Iran)] at most 11.7 mbpd by 2020, with little or no net additional capacity thereafter from 2010 discovered/undeveloped fields. That is only a third of the IEA fiction.

Another way to estimate discovered/undeveloped future capacity is the production to TRR ratio. The world has discovered about 2300 Bbbl of TRR. Production of crude has steadily ramped to a bit over 70mbpd per the IEA figure, or about 26Bbbl/year. That is (26/[2300-257]) about 1.3% of producing TRR per year. Alternatively, Ghawar at its 1981 peak was 5.7mbpd. Ghawar TRR (after reserve growth) originally held (65 produced plus 71 remaining in 2010) 136Bbbl TRR. The peak annual production rate from the world’s greatest oil field was (5.7*365/136000) 1.5% of backdated TRR. Annual production from 257 Bbbl  of discovered/undeveloped reserves would at most ever be (257*0.015) 11mbpd, about the enumerated estimate.

The figure’s other salvation is capacity from new discoveries yet to be found. Undoubtedly some significant ones remain, for example in Brazil’s deepwater Santos basin. Others will surely come from the Arctic. Russia discovered giant Sevastyanov (1.2 Bbbl)in eastern Siberia in 2010. In 2012, Russia announced five more giant discoveries above the Arctic circle in the Yamal region (of paleoclimate hockey stick infamey). The largest, Russkoe, has about 2.25 Bbbl TRR. But even with 4 supergiants and 4 giants, the 2000-2009 average discovery was minor.

afig afig

Production has outpaced discovery for three decades, and the gap has steadily increased.  Figure 3.19 implies that the quantity to be discovered by 2035 will significantly exceed the past three decades, since those did not prevent existing production decline by 2008. This defies the facts of IEA’s own figure 3.14. The yet to be found  miracle is worse than fiction. It is directly contradicted by IEA’s own figures in the same report.

What was really going on with WEO 2010 figure 3.19? A politicized adverse reaction to WEO 2008 figure 9.4, which just summarized historical reserves and production facts that collide with IEA agendas.


Given production significantly greater than discoveries, and declining discovered quantities with increasing production, the peak can not be far away. Extrapolation suggests around 2020. The IEA’s chief economist Dr. Fatih Birol gave an interview to the UK’s Guardian [5] concerning WEO 2008 during which he explicitly confirmed this:

“In terms of the global picture, assuming that OPEC will invest in a timely manner, global conventional oil can still continue, but we still expect that it will come around 2020 to a plateau [6] as well, which is, of course, not good news from a global oil supply point of view.”

This got much attention. For example, The Economist ran a story captioned:


For which the IEA caught hell in 2009. And then got ‘religion’ in 2010. The 2008 scientifically based indirect peak oil projection was disappeared, replaced by comforting fictions in a prettily colored figure.

Whoever wrote the WEO 2010 peak oil box (pp.125-6) courageously summarized the fundamental conundrum despite figure 3.19’s fictions:

“But if governments do nothing or little more than at present, then demand will continue to increase, the economic burden of oil use will grow, vulnerability to supply disruptions will increase and the global environment will suffer serious damage. The peak in oil production will come then not as an invited guest, but as the spectre at the feast.”

Serious damage to the global environment from oil consumption is debatable. But it sure looks like peak oil will be the spectre at the feast.

[1] Fredrik Robelius, Giant Oil Fields, PhD thesis (2007), Uppsala University Department of Earth Sciences.

[2] Benes et. al., The Future of Oil: Geology versus Technology, IMF working paper WP/12/109  released May 2012

[3] Cable dated:2007-12-10T05:54:00 C O N F I D E N T I A L RIYADH 002441

[4] Tehran Times 9/25/12 quoting Deputy Oil Minister Mohsen Khojasteh-Mehr. 12 new fields have been discovered since 2010. Total capacity could be 5.6mbpd by 2015 if these are developed at a cost of $32 billion. This depends on a resolution to the present nuclear sanctions. 1.3mbpd would be from ‘shared’ offshore fields in the Gulf. Iranian territorial production would be 4.3mbpd. Either way, it is still well below the past peak.

[5] Guardian’s Monbiot The online 12 minute video clip concerning this interview is rewarding.

[6] WEO 2008 (p. 235) makes a subtle distinction between post peak and post plateau. Plateau is defined as post peak, up to a 15% absolute decline. Post plateau production is less than 85% of peak. Plateau fields declined 1.4% annually. Post plateau fields declined up to 6.7% annually. The overall production weighted average annual decline was 5.1%, so most large fields are post plateau. See WEO 2008 table 10.11. This confusing distinction ‘hides the decline’ in a post peak ‘plateau’ with a downward slope.

[7] The Economist

JC comment:  This post is a guest post that was stimulated by Rud Istvan’s previous  post on Maggio and Cacciola’s paper, When will oil, natural gas, and coal peak?

363 responses to “IEA Facts and Fictions

  1. There is one potential ameliorating factor. Most of the very first oil wells had very low recoveries (5-10% of total oil). With modern methods, this could push the peak out to a plateau of about 10-15 years. At least giving us a little more time to act.

  2. Chief Hydrologist

    Hi there everyone.

    In economics, one way two or more goods are classified is by examining the relationship of the demand schedules when the price of one good changes. This relationship between demand schedules leads to classification of goods as either substitutes or complements. Substitute goods are goods which, as a result of changed conditions, may replace each other in use (or consumption).[1] A substitute good, in contrast to a complementary good, is a good with a positive cross elasticity of demand. This means a good’s demand is increased when the price of another good is increased. Conversely, the demand for a good is decreased when the price of another good is decreased. If goods A and B are substitutes, an increase in the price of A will result in a leftward movement along the demand curve of A and cause the demand curve for B to shift out. A decrease in the price of A will result in a rightward movement along the demand curve of A and cause the demand curve for B to shift in.

    Examples of substitute goods include margarine and butter, tea and coffee.

    Oil has many substitutes.

    • Bingo.

    • David L. Hagen

      Think logistics. Yes Hitler showed that coal could be converted to fuel, but not enough and not fast enough. Robert L. Hirsch shows that it takes about 20 years of war time footing effort BEFORE the peak, to bring other resources on line to replace oil without resulting in a major decline. Hirsch 2005 PEAKING OF WORLD OIL PRODUCTION: IMPACTS, MITIGATION, & RISK MANAGEMENT
      He then wrote the easier to understand: The Impending World Energy Mess

      We are now 7 years AFTER the peak of crude oil production, and we have not seriously started. Expect a major roller coaster ride.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        Logistics is the realm of the market. Austtralia is inceasing gas export by 6 times in the next 10 years. It probably has a 20 year life after coming on line – but still worth a buck or two. We got coal up to the kazzoo.

        I don’t believe that oil has peaked – and all liquids are increasing out to the limits of projections. As I said – we need to look to solutions rather than scary stories. Aces in the back pocket – rather than running on empty scenarios. To mix a metaphor. I am sure you underestimate industrial capacity. There are some things that we can throw a trillion bucks at and still make a profit. Admittedly – mostly drugs and gambling but still.

        The future belongs to the classic, enlightenment liberal – as long as we can frame a positive narrative for the future.

      • David L. Hagen

        Re: “I don’t believe that oil has peaked ”
        Lets go beyond “beliefs” to facts and science. Look in detail at the data.

        IEA 2012 shows global crude oil peaked in 2005

        See economist James Hamilton

        Oil Prices, Exhaustible Resources, and Economic Growth. This paper explores details behind the phenomenal increase in global crude oil production over the last century and a half and the implications if that trend should be reversed. I document that a key feature of the growth in production has been exploitation of new geographic areas rather than application of better technology to existing sources, and suggest that the end of that era could come soon. The economic dislocations that historically followed temporary oil supply disruptions are reviewed, and the possible implications of that experience for what the transition era could look like are explored.

        Especially see figures pages 42-53 for states and countries peaked.

        Look at the data posted by Mazama Science
        Energy Export Databrowser for oil production.

        See: Is Peak Oil Real? A List of Countries Past Peak 2009

        Only 14 of the 54 oil producing nations in the world are still increasing their oil production

        See a stacked graph of oil production of peaked countries.

        For an abundance of graphs see publications by Jean Laherrere of Total; and Gail Tverberg on oil

        Can you provide any offsetting data to make a substantial change to these facts?

        Note that logistics is constrained by the current availability of engineers. Show biz experience does not count when installing pressure vessels.

        PS What do you mean by “oil”? “Crude oil”, “crude oil plus condensates” or “all hydrocarbons”?

      • Chief, you are one of my all time favourite commentators on climate related matters.

        The future belongs to the classic, enlightenment liberal – as long as we can frame a positive narrative for the future.

        I could not agree with this statement more.

      • Great post again Chief. Loved your last para as did agnostic obviously.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        Hi Guys

        David – I find the contrast between ‘belief’ and ‘facts and science’ insulting. The science you refer to is voodoo science and can not possibly predict to the level of detail proposed. When was it Tuesday June 6th 2005 when oil peaked? It is just ‘logistically’ impossible.

        You imply that I have pulled it out of my arse – but there are many reputable people and organisations who disagree with you.

        But as I said with butter and margarine – or tea and coffee – although these seem especially poor examples – the important metric is that all fuels increase out to the limits of projection.

      • David L. Hagen

        No insult intended.
        As a professional research engineer, I deal in hard facts founded on physics, not “voodoo science”.
        Take a closer look at the “facts” you link to. Your link equivocates “oil” by including natural gas liquids in with “crude oil”. That only says the rising natural gas production has resulted in an associated increase in natural gas liquids or condensates. It says nothing about conventional “crude oil”.

        Look again at the IEA’s graph showing actual “crude oil” has already peaked in 2005 excluding natural gas liquids, tight oil, and “other unconventional”.

        Look again at the numerous graphs and facts of 40 of 54 countries having already peaked crude oil production.

        The decline in crude oil is due to insufficient new crude oil fields to replace current rapid crude oil depletion of 5%-6%/year.

        The difference between very small growth of total “liquids” and declining crude oil is now being made up by modest increases natural gas liquids (condensates), tight oil, and “other unconventional” including bitumen.

        Take another look at Tad Patzek’s paper:
        Exponential growth, energetic Hubbert cycles, and the advancement of technology
        See especially:

        Figure 7: Exponential rate of growth of world crude oil production was 6.6% per year between 1880 and 1970. . . .
        Figure 11: Between 1880 and 1940, the annual production rate of oil and, initially, associated lease condensate, in the US was increasing 9% per year!

        Contrast the IEA 2012 now projecting only 0.67% linear growth/year (16% growth over 24 years to 2035).
        Yet the developing world’s population is still growing rapidly.
        That >90% decline in oil production is the major cause of the high price of fuel and the consequent very low rates of economic growth.

        The radical environmental movement is contributing to this decline in fuel production and consequent high prices and economic decline by severely restricting access to Canadian Oil Sands –
        e.g., cancelling the Keystone XL pipeline –
        AND preventing rapid growth of solar energy which could eventually be used to develop alternative fuels.

        We have not yet reached the rapid decline in global crude oil production.

        Address these facts:
        1) Strong decline of crude oil production in existing fields.
        2) Lower replacement rates of crude oil production in new fields
        3) Unconventional & alternative fuels are not coming online fast enough to meed fuel desires and drop prices.
        4) The US EPA makes it illegal or very difficult to convert cars to other fuels.
        5) Ten fold lower projected total fuel growth than historic rates.

        We have trillions of barrels potential in other “hydrocarbons”, and plenty of nuclear fuel, fusion potential, and solar energy where we “could” provide abundant alternative fuel to replace the current peaking of crude oil and provide sufficient to abundant fuel for the developing world.

        Read closely what Robert Hirsch (2005) documented that with conventional hard engineering would take 20 years BEFORE the peak, just to shift to alternatives sufficient to make up for crude oil depletion, once we started a war time effort – and we have not yet started.

        However, we currently have neither the awareness, the logistics, the finances, or the political will to do so. Those are the real problems behind our current constrained production of crude oil aka “peak crude oil”.

        Show me by facts not equivocations where these trends are wrong.

      • David L. Hagen

        Correction: “That >90% decline in oil production growth rates

      • Chief Hydrologist

        As a professional engineer and environemntal scientist… I suspect anyone who starts with words to that effect of dissembling. Again – the point is economic substitution. Butter for margarine. Natural gas for oil. There are many substututes for oil and in fact the quicker the move to cheaper supplies of liquid fuels the better – oil really is too valuable a resource to be burning. It really is just economics and not so much science.

      • David L. Hagen

        The key issue behind “peak oil” (or “plateau”) is NOT the POTENTIAL for economic substitution, but the RATE at which fuels from other hydrocarbon, nuclear and/or solar sources can be brought online to replace depleting crude oil, their AFFORDABILITY,
        AND the RATE at which the existing transportation infrastructure can be adapted / changed to accommodate those replacement fuels.

        PS On expertise, see patents filed.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        As far as I can see it is the actuality of substitution – and the reality of industrial capacity.

        I just can’t see what the alternative is to markets operating in response to price signals. Markets do and will work – and any amount of money, expertise and personnel can be thrown at it if there is a buck to be made.

        And you keep rabbiting on about ‘expertise’ – seriously I find the expertise irrelevant and the insistence on it a rather silly logical fallacy of an appeal to your own quite negligible authority.

      • David L. Hagen

        I take your silence as unable to provide data rebutting the evidence presented.

        Markets have been distorted by politics of climate alarmisms misdirecting resources away from the very real imminent problem of depleting oil to an unknown and possibly insignificant issue of anthropogenic warming.

        See Matthew Simmons presentations
        He warns of graying /retiring engineering expertise with insufficient effort to rebuild it.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        My silance on what David. All the official and industry projections show ‘all liquids’ growing over the next few decades. I have given links to both. And you complain that I don’t answer your loaded qustions?

      • David L. Hagen

        You only appeal to “all liquids”, not “crude oil.”
        The latest data shows a continuing “undulating plateau” of global crude oil production. See economist James Hamilton
        Dude, where’s my cheap gas?
        Note particularly:

        Moreover, about a quarter of the 2 mb/d supply increase reported by the EIA over the last two years came in the form of natural gas liquids.

        The growth in “All Liquids” is in non-crude oil production.

        Contrast the about 1 million bbl/day growth in crude oil production every year for about 20 years from 1985 to 2005.

        Look at the data. I have yet to see you provide any data countering James Hamilton’s evidence that all US continental regions having peaked in crude oil production except North Dakota/Montana, nor the evidence of 40 countries having already peaked in crude oil production, including the USA ~ 1970.

  3. Well, for transportation fuels there are not. Which are also fairly inelastic with respect to price, as the last decade has proven. Specifically gasoline, diesel, and jet kerosene. Natural gas to liquids is possible (Shell Pearl) and economically viable today with free Quatar gas. Otherwise, means $180/bbl. Coal to liquids is possible (Sasol), again at substantially higher prices. (Exxon process current estimate is over $130/bbl.) Problem for both is that if Maggio, Patzek, Rutledge, Aleklett, and all the others are even roughly right, not much capacity will be built since those input fuels peak before the plants could be amortized.
    And even the IEA thinks biofuels (of all types) could contribute at most 25%. Three chapters of Gaia’s Limits are devoted to that. Fundamental energy density problem irrespective of cost, even assuming unproven KIOR process yields.
    Hydrogen comes from natural gas, the storage problem is not solved, and nuclear to make it from water is not a very palatable option.
    Electric cars are possible, but not agricultural, construction, and forestry equipment. Nor planes.
    So the more one looks at the situation in detail, the tougher the future transportation fuels problem becomes.

    • Coal peaks as a ‘stationary’ fuel simply because substitution costs for ‘alternative’ methods of generation kick in around $4-$6/MMBtu and coal is expensive to transport…I.E…it’s cheaper to build and operate a nuclear power plant in Georgia then it is to transport coal that can essentially be extracted for free from Wyoming.

      Transportation fuel commands substantial price premiums on the market. $16/MMBtu seems to be the going rate at the moment.

      I would find it extremely difficult to believe that the coal in the Powder River Basin would come anywhere near ‘exhaustion’ prior to a coal to liquids plant being fully amortized.

      Substituting ‘stationary source’ energy occurs well before the price point of transportation fuels simply because the energy density problem isn’t as pronounced.

      • I understand Australia has an estimated 700 years of brown coal and about 300 years of black coal at current production rates.

        The World could save a lot of oil if we stopped transporting coal. Replacing coal with nuclear power would cunt the oil used in transporting coal by a factor of 20,000 now and potentially up 2 million when Gen IV breeder reactors are used. To make that clear, it means one ship of uranium passing out of Darwin substitutes for 20,000 shippings of coal passing through the Great Barrier Reef. The oil use for transporting the fuel (coal) for electricity generation is reduced by a factor of 20,000.

      • Think you got a spelling mistake in your third sentence Peter.

    • Chief Hydrologist

      The American transport industy’s love affair with natural gas continues to gain momentum with the imminent completion of stage one of the country’s first major liquified natural gas (LNG) network.

      The network which will eventually cover the vast majority of the American interstate highway network is the result of the a partnership between natural gas supplier Clean Energy and Pilot-Flying J truckstops.

      Many of the initial LNG refuelling facilites have been installed at existing Flying J locations with the company owning and operating 550 truckstops across the US.

      Speaking recently at the American Trucking Associations (ATA) summit on Natural Gas in Trucking, Andrew Littlefair, Clean Energy’s President and CEO, says: “We have created America’s Natural Gas Highway to support the growing number of long-haul truckers and shippers who are deploying factory-built, heavy-duty trucks powered by natural gas fuel. LNG-fueled trucks can now travel the country and reap the benefits of fuel cost savings, reduced dependence on foreign oil, and the lower emissions profile that characterizes this abundant American resource.”

      So there are solutions already being deployed at prevailing market prices – chief amongst them are efficiency, natural gas and biofuels. Agricultural productivity can be improved 3 or 4 times in many places – and the crops used to produce biofuel and the residue used as animal or aquaculture feedstock.

      There are many potential technologies and the ones to succeed will be the ones that can be brought to the market at competitive price points. At some point we need to move beyond scary tales and plot a course for the future. We are all in favour of technological innovation – well apart from the AGW space cadets – and one question is how governments can promote a focus on the development of technology. One way would be to contribute to energy prizes – of which there are a number around the world. A billion dollar prize would focus attention. Another way is to provide cash incentives for good ideas – tendered and contracted in the usual way and performance measured against promises. Another way forward is to actually meet the Millenium Development Goal committments instead of government lying through their collective teeth and making all the right noises.

    • David Springer

      Actually IEA says 27% biofuel by 2050 and make no mention that’s an upper limit beyond 2050.,19818,en.html

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        I don’t see the value of worrying about whether the maximum will be 25 or 27% given that either value requires unrealistic assumptions be made since countries won’t follow the necessary plans for either to be reached.

        That said, whether or not it is a maximum at all is somewhat interesting. The press release above is for a report that considers one scenario (from a different, 2010 ETP report). While it doesn’t explicitly set a cap, it does strongly suggest ~25% is one due to land-use. Even with massive technological developments to improve the efficiency of biofuel production, reaching 25% would require significant amounts of arable land be devoted to biofuel production. What that suggests is even if we could reach higher than 25% after 2050, it would have downsides that could make it undesirable.

        That said, I don’t think any of these calculations will mean much. I suspect 40 years time will create so many confounding factors as to render them meaningless.

      • As an indication of the land area required, to generate eastern Australia’s electricity to meet the 2010 demand using biofuels from stubble from grain crops, would require twice Australia’s total annual grain crop area. And that is in an average year. It may require two to five times that area in drought years. Droughts can last a decade. So enormous amounts of storage would be required, either for biomass or for biofuels. On top of that you need to be able to transport biomass from areas where there are crop failures (dry seasons, floods, diseases and pest infestations) to the biofuel production plants. And this transport system must be maintained through years when not needed at all so it is capable of transporting at peak capacity in bad years. Ad farmers must be contracted to be ready and able to supply the grain stubble on demand perhaps one year in ten. The costs would be prohibitive. The whole idea of biofuels is another loony idea propogated by the Greenies. Biofuels will play a minor role in future energy supply.

        I realise that people are advocating various technologies, other crops, trees, and different ideas, but anyway you look at it, biofuels are not viable at the scale required. For Australia, stubble from grain crops has the most energy. Any other crop, or forest, can provide less of Australia’s energy need. Sure, you can add them . And, yes, I know about the latest CSIRO report for the AEMO “100% renewable electricity for Australia” study (the study is due to be released in April – in time for the election!). This study was one of many requirements demanded by the Greens as condition of forming an alliance government with the Labor Party to govern Australia. You can work out how reliable and unbiased it will be.

        This 8 minute video by Professor David MacKay, Chief Scientific Advisor to the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change, shows the area of UK and Ireland that would need to be used to supply UK energy requirements. That’s for wet, temperate, fertile UK and Ireland – in an average year! Imagine how this would scale up for places like Australia with long droughts, poor soils, floods, fires, kangaroos and sharks :)

      • David Springer

        The most promising biofuel doesn’t require arable land nor fresh water nor harvest and processing of biomass. It uses genetically modified bacteria in enclosed saltwater raceways. Algenol has achieved continuous production of 7000 gallons/acre ethanol and Joule Unlimited 15,000 gallons/acre.

      • David L. Hagen

        Any source for overall efficiency numbers of % of incident solar energy converted to net fuel energy?
        The underlying limit to cost is that conversion efficiency and the installed cost of the collector or tank in $/m2 ammortized on the same basis.

  4. Oil is found in the human imagination, reserves in the tax code.

    H/t I need a little help here.

    • OK, look, I’m a freelance writer. Not bad either, with a couple Pushcart Prize nominations (Ok, common enough, but still an indication I’m probably not a hack). I bring this up only to lend some credibility to my assessment. Don’t know if you consider yourself a poet or not, and I’m not asking. JUst want you to know that your sometimes brilliant posts are greatly appreciated and enjoyed.

      • Uh oh, positive feedback. We know what that can do. This one was brilliant, but not mine; I read it several month’s ago @ Judy’s, whoever she is.

      • Talent and integrity. A combination that is for the most past sadly lacking these days, especially among main stream climate scientists.

    • “Oil is found in the Minds of Men.” – Wallace Pratt (petroleum geologist)
      and “Reserves are found in the Tax Code.” – Stephen Rasey (in ClimateEtc.
      Oct. 22, 2012)

      Last week in WUWT “Conventional Wisdom, Unconventional Oil”, I located the more complete Pratt quote:
      “Where oil is first found, in the final analysis, is in the minds of men” (Pratt, AAPG 1952 v36 #12).

    • There was a sign above the door to the Department of Mineral Economics at the Colorado School of Mines.

      “ORE is a mineral that can be mined at a PROFIT”

    • Kim is one of my must reads when I look at the Recent Comments window but as Judith is unable to allow scrolling for a week of posts or so, I am sure that periodic visitors are missing out on heaps more.

      Kim is honest and it behooves everyone to be likewise as the web is full of nit pickers, trolls and other life forms who will pounce if given half a chance.

  5. Whee does oil from shale gas fit in (assuming the fracking scaremongers don’t succeed in putting a stop to it)? Depending on source of information, anywhere from 2 to 200 trillion bbl of oil may be recoverable from deep sources, and the US probably has many times more than Saudi Arabia. I don’t see any discussion of that here, except for the tiny layers of “unconventional” and “nartural gas liquids” in the graphs.

    Itn fact, it looks very much like the IEA may be trying to bolster the CAGW argument (aka lies), by saying we’re going to run out of oil soon anyway, so do as we tell you.

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      Chad Wozniak, if you read the WEOs (which I understand not doing given their length), you’ll see shale gas is accounted for as part of the unconventional oil. You’ll also see the reports acknowledge the large quantities of such (though nowhere near the 200 trillion you mention, a number I find highly dubious). However, what you’ll also see is there is no near-term plans that could recover large amounts of oil from oil shale fields.

      The IEA isn’t trying to hide anything here. There are a lot of resources. But large total values don’t automatically translate into high production rates.

      • ” is no near-term plans that could recover large amounts of oil from oil shale fields.”

        The Israeli’s are working on it.

        The biggest roadblocks are environmental fanatics.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        sunshinehours1, the Jordanian project you refer to (which is also mentioned in the 2010 WEO) aims to have a capacity of 38 kb/d in 2017 (and will likely come in late). That is a small part of the total unconventional oil projected for 2017, and it is tiny compared to the conventional oil production for any year.

        It’s a good project, but it doesn’t look to produce much rapidly.

      • Once the pilot projects work, it will be time to ramp up production. The oil is there. It can be accessed if needed.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        sunshinehours1, there are always limits on how much can be extracted from a field in a given amount of time. Suggesting they will “ramp up production” doesn’t do anything to make people believe the currently small rate of production will jump up by several orders of magnitude. It may well be they never break 100 kb/d.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        And more to the point, even if they decide to “ramp up production” to significantly higher rates, that will take quite a bit of time. If they wait until 2017 (or likely later due to delays) to see if their project is a success, it is almost certain any further projects will have a negligible impact by 2035 simply due to development time.

        So even in the most optimistic case, there are no near-term plans.

      • Brandon –

        I think you’re wrong on both counts: fracking is already increasing recovery rates dramatically and, as limited as it has been to date, has brought about a 60% increase in US domestic oil production within a five-year period. And it appears the we’ve only scratched the surface of the potential, There are shale formations similar to the Bakken and Eagle Ford under vast areas of the country. Some of them are considerably deeper than these, but it certainly wouldn’t require a quantum leap in technoilogy to recover these deeper deposits. Also, all you have to do is look at the graph to see what a small slice of it is unconventional and NG liquids,

        If there are no long-term plans to recover shale gas oil, that would only be because governments influenced by green extremists are standing in the way of those plans. As for the 200 trillion bbl, that probably is an overstatement (and not mine, merely some of the reports I’ve seen), but the actual amount is certain to be a large multiple of the present-day accepted figure for oil reserves.

      • Chad,
        There is a discussion on Bakken production going on at

        The numbers fit nicely on decline curves so that we know exactly how many new wells need to be drilled each year to offset declines of older producing wells.

        It’s up to the reader and the investor to decide if the rate is sustainable. They call it the race of the Red Queen.

        The climate scientist and geophysicist Raymond Pierrehumbert describes the situation in a Slate article that you can google for.

      • “sunshinehours1, there are always limits on how much can be extracted from a field in a given amount of time. ”

        Just start cooking the kerogen and drill wells. Well drilling is getting cheaper every day. The more wells for heating you drill, the more wells for getting the oil and gas out you can drill.

        40$/bbl leaves a lot of leeway …

  6. David Springer

    You boys need a summary so a person can determine if they care enough about what you want to show to read the whole enchilada.

    • David Springer, I don’t think the problem is a lack of a summary. The last paragraph works well enough for that. The fact we didn’t put a paragraph like that of the start of the post is probably a bad thing.

      That said, a lack of suave marketing isn’t a huge fault if you ask me!

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        I swear, my phone’s autofill feature is buggy. Sorry for having my joke account post here.

      • Sockpuppet duly noted. Every fake skeptic has one. Perceived safety in numbers, doncha know.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        While it’s nice to see me labeled a “fake skeptic” and “alarmist” on the same page, I have to ask something. Isn’t the point of sock puppets… deception? How does publicly associating an account with my name mesh with it being a sock puppet? For that matter, how does publicly stating I’m going to create the account, in order to keep serious contributions separate from a certain style of jokes, mesh with using it as a sock puppet?

        Or more to the point, aren’t I don’t the exact opposite of what you accuse me of?

      • Chief Hydrologist

        Yes of course – a sockpuppet is an identity assumed with the intent to deceive. Deception is the intention of webnutcolonoscope – when he has mind to it. He has a very shaky moral compass.

      • I am just pointing out that I have noticed this sockpuppet handle before in the context of gaining agreement on some issue. Look up astroturfing. You types are shunned in any normal situation, but in this crackpot palace, a sockpuppet can apparently do no wrong.

        They love sockpuppets here because they raise the level of uncertainty.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        Liar liar pants on fire. There’s that ole shaky compass again.

      • The alias is fine with me. Heck, the Chief has a couple and is open about them. Brandon, however, had to fess up because his phone autofill is buggy, but I don’t believe that he is devious.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        I can neither confirm nor deny that I am Captain Kangaroo – it is a secret of the climate war privy only to a few on a need to know basis – and a cowgirl with a lasso.

      • “Chief Hydrologist | February 12, 2013 at 4:58 am |

        Liar liar pants on fire. There’s that ole shaky compass again.”

        How can I be lying if the Google says that Brandon Shollenberger has used the sockpuppet handle “Vague Genie” multiple times on this site?

        The internet blogs are really a grand experiment in establishing credibility. I vaguely recalled the handle Vague Genie, so Googled it, and found out Brandon treats these topics like a big joke. BTW, the word “joke” is his word, not mine.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Peter Davies, for what it’s worth, I was open about it from the start. I joked about making the account, then I made it. And I’ve referenced the connection multiple times since. The point has never been to deceive. I just think it’s fun to see how intentionally vague/oblique I can make responses at times.

      • Ah,

        I recall Vague genie doing more than engaging in a certain kind of humour. Some due diligence will now be in order WRT the sock puppet chewbacca

      • Pissant Progressive

        You’re so vague, you probably think this post is about you, don’t you?

      • Chief Hydrologist

        Webby you have been caught out repeatedly in lies, prevarication, obfuscation and misdirection. This is just the latest.

        ‘Yes, it indeed looks like the chief invented his own set of units to describe S. It has the units of mass * length^2 / time.
        Never ran into that one before, perhaps Chief’s space cadets have seen it in some alternate universe.’

        The equation in question can be found here.

        Saying things merely for effect is evidence of bad faith – again and again.

      • That ain’t gonna work, Chief. Your mistake was quite obvious, nothing like the forensic work needed to figure out Anastasia’s equations.

        Your problem is quite simple. You choose one definitional equation which essentially describes a difference between two values and you couldn’t get the dimensions right, repeatedly, time after time. So you hang your hat on this one equation to try to establish your credibility and it is wrong. Thus your credibility is shot, and the more you post that same equation, your credibility as an employable civil engineer starts swirling down the toilet. We remember things here, like we remember there was a guy Vague Genie, and like we remember you and your sockpuppets with the simple equation that one of them couldn’t get right.

      • I will confirm that I am NOT a sockpuppet of WebHubTelescope.


      • Chief Hydrologist

        ‘The equation you gave is really just a definition of net power flow. Energy is a quantity, independent of time, whereas power is energy transferred per time interval.’ Such obvious nonsense that it beggars belief.

        The equation that I gave was a simple energy budget:

        dS/dt = Ein – Eout

        Where S is the planetary energy content and Ein and Eout are the rates of unit energy in and out respectively. To be hectored on power flux and energy by someone who cannot even correctly define the terms is a ludicrous nonsense. The terms of the equaton are defined precisely – and the units are a consequence of the definition of terms.

        The more interesting part is that ARGO, SORCE and CERES can be interrogated to look at the sign of energy imbalances and even to assign cause between albedo, IR and solar intensity – albedo is especially a critical problem in climate science. But in fact if you had a good estimate of S – you could close the budget fairly precisely.

        So it is not really the simple energy budget that is problematic – the formula is absolutely correct – based on the 1st law – and perfectly defines the energy budget of the planet. I am afraid it is webby that is the problem.

      • The Chief asserted again for the umpteenth time:

        “The equation that I gave was a simple energy budget:

        dS/dt = Ein – Eout”

        This is wrong. No rate will give E=energy. That’s like saying that something changing over time will give one a value of length.

        d?/dt = X1 – X2

        What measure that changes over time will give a length? I have no clue,, but it would have to be in units of length*time. Likewise with the unit of energy. There is nothing that is a rate that equates to energy. Maybe Einstein would know. Maybe you are Einstein. Like Super Dave is an Einstein. Like Albert Brooks is an Einstein. (Both true BTW)

        Why don’t you just admit that this is not an energy budget but a power budget, and change the E to a P and suck it up?

        Or you can change it to delta S by itself. But that is perhaps too embarrassing as that is the definition of a difference between two quantities, which any grade-schooler would recognize. And since you are the “Chief” Hydrologist, you wouldn’t want to demean yourself.

        Back in the day when I had to fail college students for their work, I didn’t spend a lot of time trying to work the forensics of where they went wrong. You marked it wrong and moved on, otherwise you would waste your time working through some convoluted reasoning from some student that was in way over his head. That is you Chief,always way in over your head.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        ‘The equation you gave is really just a definition of net power flow. Energy is a quantity, independent of time, whereas power is energy transferred per time interval.’ Such obvious nonsense that it beggars belief.

        1 Joule = 1 Watt x 1 second

        1 Watt = 1 Joule / 1 second

        By now you should have well and truly reviewed your understanding of these elementary concepts and admitted your error’ That you have not speaks volumes as to your intention to deceive in the service of ‘gamesmaship’. For which I have nothing but contempt.

        Let’s look at the SORCE TSI.

        The left hand axis is in W/m^2. If you multiply say 1361.1 W/m^2 – as an instantaneous power flux – by one second you get 1361.1 J/m^2. Which is the unit energy. If you add up all of these unit energies over a period you get a total energy in Joules. If you then divide by the number of seconds you get the average rate of energy transfer in Joules per second.

        As I say – elementary concepts at an elementary school level. As I say – I think it less likely that you don’t understand this than that you are treating everyone with disdain and outright lying about it. But hell – it ain’t lying if you believe it.

      • For Chief’s class project on writing a simple equation

        Grade: F-

      • Chief Hydrologist

        Let’s take a 3 second slice from SORCE.

        t=1 => 1361 W/m^2 x 1 second = 1361 J

        t=2 => 1360 W/m^2 x 1 second = 1360 J

        t=3 => 1359 W/m^2 x 1 second = 1359 J

        The total is 4080 J.

        The rate of energy transfer is 1360 J/s.

        I think the pseudo marking he indulges in is utterly juvenile. Posturing for an idiotic effect.

        This is such elementary stuff that it beggars belief that we can’t move beyond it. This is supposed to be a serious blog – but it is stuck in kindergarten stuff because of the ‘gamesmanship’ antics of webby in particular.

        The real purpose is in interrogating SORCE, CERES and ARGO data in context to answer questions of warming or cooling and see causes in changes in radiant flux at TOA. At TOA all energy transfer is radiative – so there is a simple energy relationship. Warming or cooling is due to an energy imbalance ar TOA.

        It is the outgoing energy that changes most and this changes most because of clouds and albedo. The trends in CERES anomalies will show warming or cooling with a drift of 0.1 W/decade.

      • I agree it is elementary stuff Chief. Amazing that you can screw it up so badly.

        To extend Chief’s logic we replace the quantity energy with the quantity of mass and say:

        dM/dt = M1 – M2

        According to chief, M1 and M2 need to be divided by one second, and then it is ok.

        It is impressive that he can multiply and divide by one, but that may be where his technical abilities end.

        No wonder he copies and pastes so much, as it appears he can’t do calculus on his own.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        Webby at the despatch box.

        We get back to the equation of hydrological storage – which is a mass continuity equation.

        dS/dt = I – Q

        Where S is the instantaneous rate of change in water volume in a storage and I and Q are the rates of inflow and outflow – all in m3/s.

        It is derived in the usual way and been used in hydrology for many, many, many years. I am pretty sure the profession would not endorse webby’s modification.

        The form is exactly the same as the energy equation only here we are dealing with conservation of energy.

        The question remains – is he that dumb or does he just think you are?

      • “We get back to the equation of hydrological storage – which is a mass continuity equation.

        dS/dt = I – Q

        Where S is the instantaneous rate of change in water volume in a storage and I and Q are the rates of inflow and outflow – all in m3/s. ”

        Live by the copy-and-paste and die by the copy-and-paste. Chief evidently blindly applied a hydrology equation to energy and forgot to change the Energy terms on the RHS to Power terms.

        I and Q are flows, which are rates. Energy is not a rate, but Power is a rate.

      • WHT,

        Power is instantaneous, e.g. a generator producws 200 kW at an instant in time, or a car produces 200 kW at an instant in time. If the power output remains constant for an hour it produces a 200 kWh. kWh is energy and is a rate.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        Oh – I did my honours thesis on this equation. Seeing just how close I could get with more and more advanced numerical techniques when compared to an analytical solution possible for a rectangular but infinitely wide storage. I still use it quite a bit for flood attenuation – the formula not the infinitely wide storage. No need to copy and paste- I know it by heart.

        By the 1st law of thermodynamics we have:

        S1 – S2 = Ein – Eout or equivalently –

        ΔS = Ein – Eout

        S1 and S2 are the energy content of the planet at t1 and t2. Ein and Eout are the total energy in and out respectively. You would obtain that by multiplying the power flux by 1 second to obtain the unit energy and adding it up over whatever time period you are interested in – t1 to t2 say.

        I trust you are having no problem thus far?

        Now to get the instantaneous rate of change of S we divide both sides by the time interval Δt to get –

        dS/dt = Ein/ Δt – Eout/ Δt

        Where dS/dt is the rate of change – and the right hand terms are obviously the rate of energy transfer in and out. Instead of retaining the Δt – we simply define the terms as the rate of energy transfer which have units in J/s.

        I and Q are flows, which are rates. Energy is not a rate, but Power is a rate.

        I and Q are also volumes in the mass balance equation – and they are transformed into rates by dividing by Δt. Radiant power is a flux – a flow. A flow of 1 Watt for 1 second is 1 Joule – the critical concept of unit energy. A flow of 1 Watt for 10 seconds is 10 joules, etc. The rate of energy transfer in that 10 seconds is 1 J/s.

        Just not quite got that idea of the time based relationship of power and energy have you?

      • blueice2hotsea

        Ch –

        Let’s take a 3 second slice from SORCE.

        t=1 => 1361 W/m^2 x 1 second = 1361 J

        t=2 => 1360 W/m^2 x 1 second = 1360 J

        t=3 => 1359 W/m^2 x 1 second = 1359 J

        The total is 4080 J.

        The rate of energy transfer is 1360 J/s.

        It look like what you have done here is to calculate average electromagnetic power. The thing to realize is that electromagnetic energy flux is power. This is not power flux (momentum flux).

      • blueice2hotsea

        CH –
        you did this:

        Pavg = 1/T ∫p(t)dt

      • blueice2hotsea

        Please google:

        power is the rate of energy transfer

      • blueice2hotsea

        CH –

        So the complaint about your global energy storage continuity equation is that it is about power, not energy.

        An analgous argument would be over measuring velocity or distance. Someone says dx/dt is the average distance, so just call it distance or you are a drunken idiot.

      • Chief Hydrologist


        Let’s call it the rate of change of x with t.

        Here’s some spacemath for you.

        ΔS = Ein – Eout

        That’s the statement of energy conservation we are interested in. The change in energy stored in the planet’s systems is equal to the difference between incoming and outgoing energy in any period. At TOA all energy transfer is radiative.

        Now we could leave it like that – but I am a bit stubborn and will divide both sides by delta t –

        dS/dt = Ein/Δt – Eout/Δt

        Both sides have units of J/s = W, they are interchangable. But it is my formula and I decide that I want to keep the units in J/s – to indicate that it is energy we are talking about – and define the terms as the rate of energy transfer = power. I want to keep energy in and energy out to keep the sense of what is important. But perhaps it is best to keep the delta t – so that you and webby don’t need to think definitions.

        We are looking for changes in rates of energy transfer – or trends – in the data.

      • Chief Hydrologist said:

        “Now we could leave it like that – but I am a bit stubborn and will divide both sides by delta t –

        dS/dt = Ein/Δt – Eout/Δt “

        Yet, he insists on taking the delta t terms out when he comments here, multiple times over the last year plus.

        Here is the Google search to verify his repeated posting of the incorrect formulation:

        Here we have a case of something that is clearly falsifiable. Yes, the math behind physics can be falsified just as much as the science. All the Climate Etc skeptics are such fans of Popper and Feynman, yet its pretty much crickets when The Chief does his schtick.

      • blueice2hotsea

        Thanks CH!

        These are your two equations:

        (1) S = Ein – Eout + S0

        (2) ds/dt = Ein – Eout

        I do realize this sort of thing is common practice in hydrology. So, as I have said, I am willing to cut you some slack. However, elsewhere this is necessarily screwy. Or worse.

      • blueice2hotsea

        I meant unnecessarily screwy.

      • blueice2hotsea

        CH –

        We are looking for changes in rates of energy transfer – or trends – in the data.

        In other words: dP/dt

        I wonder if looking at changes in frequency at TOA might help with that. Just speculation.

      • blueice2hotsea

        Oh. Translation:

        dP/dt = d2S/dt2 (2nd derivative of storage, acceleration analog, etc.)

      • blueice2hotsea

        CH –

        I have been engaging you because Webby is trying to gather evidence that you a fool whereas I believe that you are set in archaeic practice.

        Google this:

        power is the time derivative of energy


        (1) S = Ein – Eout + S0
        (2) ΔS = S – S0 = Ein – Eout
        (3) dS/dt = Pin – Pout

        In this form the eq. are consistent. Beyond that, will save for later.

        WHT shared the dimensional analysis with you. It is a sanity check which your equations failed. That should be reason to thank him. He may be nasty sometimes, but he is fearless with math, not reckless. And I believe he is honest.

        Another thing is that in this context S will be conflated with entropy. May I suggest using the symbol S (meaning storage, not entropy.)

      • Chief Hydrologist

        This I think is utterly bizarre.

        The physics is the physics of energy imbalance – more energy in than out in a period will result in planetary warming. Webby complains about leaving the delta t term off the rhs – when this is defined in the terms and implicit in the derivation of the differential. The lack of honesty and good faith is something that is evident again and again.

        Blueice goes off on some unphysical and weirdly unmathematical waffle about frequency and second derivatives.

        Here is a plot of CERES data from Toy Spencer.

        It show anomalies in W/m^2 on the left hand axis – although it actually doesn’t say so. The different colours are for different instruments. Watts (power) x seconds is of course Joules (energy). It shows less reflected SW in the CERES period – with outgoing longwave radiation fairly constant – to give a net increase in energy reaching the planet at the end of the period than the beginning. Net is warming up by convention. There is more energy in at the end of the period than at the start – warming the planet in the period.

        The CERES anomalies have a drift of 0.1 W/m^2/decade – so the results are not artefacts of the instruments.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        Roy Spencer I think that should be.

      • blueice2hotsea

        CH –

        We are talking about elementary calculus here. If I have made a mistake, then please SHOW it and I promise you I will profusely thank you for it inspite of my embarrassment. The reason I have not returned to the kiddie pool thus far is because from my perspective you have pooped in it and refuse to clean it up.

        your friend,

      • blueice2hotsea

        CH –

        Another complaint I have is that you bring up “drunken idiot” and honesty as a means to prove the worth of your mathematics. These sort of proofs are recognized as valid by a mathematically adept audience.

      • blueice2hotsea

        Oops. I meant name-calling is NOT a valid mathematical proof.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        I said that going around in circles with you was like a conversation with a drunk or an intellectually challenged person. My patience is not infinite.

        Honesty is not a trait I associate with webby – and making judgements about the good faith or otherwise in which statements are made is most certainly valid.

        The statement of energy conservation is –

        S1 – S2 = energy in – energy out

        The most simple of calculus is involved – so why don’t you do it? Remembering that W x s = J and that energy is work, heat, etc.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        blueice2hotsea, you seem to have a problem with typos causing you to say the exact opposite of what you mean. At least you caught it this time!

        Everyone, can we please tone down the name-calling? I can accept a lack of interest in this post (as evidenced by the apathy toward the questions I posted downthread), but I’d rather that kill the discussion, not provide a reason for petty insults. I’m not going to “name names,” but things are a bit out of hand.

      • blueice2hotsea

        CH –

        (1) S = Ein – Eout + S0
        (2) ΔS = Ein – Eout
        (3) dS/dt = Pin – Pout

        What is wrong with this?

        BTW, I have reworked some of the foundational hydrological equations so that they are dimensionally correct. And my versions get the same answers as traditional in the specific cases I have tested.

        That is why I say your way is not foolish, it is archaeic.

      • blueice2hotsea

        Hi Brandon –

        Ya, it’s weird. I hope my problem is only temporary.

        Regardless. I never felt that Vague Genie was a way for you to deceive. It seemed that Brandon was precise, while Vague was not. I suppose I could revisit this now that Google scholar has indexed the site.


      • Chief Hydrologist

        So blueice – you have rewritten some of the foundational equations of hydrology? Good for you.

        And yes Brandon – I am a little bored with the whole topic – and would gladly go elewhere and in fact have –

        The essential question boils down to the rate at which substitutes for oil come into the market. It is apparent that all liquids increase in all reputable projections over decades. There is time and there are technologies to make substitution in ways that meet environmental and social goals. Resources meet economics meet politics. Such is life.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        blueice2hotsea, I was more thinking of the typo just above here, but yeah… I think only a couple people believe there was any deception involved in the use of that name. I don’t think anyone else takes that claim seriously. Regardless, hopefully your future typos are more innocuous!

        Chief Hydrologist, I get being bored with this post, but I find it awkward it seems nobody has seemed to have offered any real response to it. The most anyone has done is hand-wavingly said we are wrong (sometimes with insults/accusations of dishonesty) for not examining unconventional oil. Not only do they not rebut the contents of the post (merely the conclusion, they also refuse to put any effort into showing their criticism matters. Heck, none have even said what they believe is an accurate projection.

        Apathy is one thing. Apathy combined with certainty is a whole other thing.

      • I kinda take a shine to curiosity combined with ignorance. Werks fer me.

      • blueice2hotsea

        CH –

        (1) S = Ein – Eout + S0
        (2) ΔS = Ein – Eout
        (3) dS/dt = Pin – Pout

        What is wrong with this?

      • blueice2hotsea

        CH –

        Note: I am not claiming that (1), (2) and (3) are correct. Just that they will survive a first pass low level sanity check.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        dangnabitness combined with insousiance? A terrible combination – irritable and going to bed without my dinner.

        Brendan – if substitututions are occuring and expected to continue many of us can’t see that running out of margarine is a problem. I don’t use margarine anyway.

        I use E10 in my cars by preference – and could convert to LNG at any time. The only reason I don’t is that my Pajero is the short wheel base version and I don’t want to take up space in the back.

        It is in front of my eyes. Major coal, gas, uranium and shale oil projects are coming on line in the next few years in Central Queensland. I work on sme of them. I work with Bechtel on Curtis Island. A major $100 billion LNG hub.

        You want to convince me we are running out of margarine? My response is to shrug which I have done.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Chief Hydrologist, you are free to just shrug at a post. People have no obligation to respond to any particular post. However, I am free to point out nobody has offered any meaningful disputation of the case Rud Istvan and I have advanced. I am also free to conclude those (on this blog) who would dispute it have little interest in actual discussions regarding it. That is my current impression.

        By the way, that makes a fourth unique misspelling of my name on this page. I wonder if that’s a record for a guest author.

      • Chief Hydrologist


        Sorry I misspelled your name – it wasn’t on purpose. My name is Robert I Ellison – which is well known – but I answer to Rob, Larrikin Bob, Robbo the Yobbo (to my mates), Chief or many less savoury apellations. Whichever you like.

        But I think the problem needs to be broadened as I have. All liquids are expanding over the next decades at least – and I would suspect projections past that more fantasy than science. The best way forward is for markets to respond to price signals – which it is. The alternative is nationalisation, quotas and price controls. Nonsense in other words.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Chief Hydrologist, no apologies needed. Typos happen all the time. I just find it interesting how my name seems to attract them. Even Judith Curry misspelled my name when creating this page (she has since corrected it), and she had several e-mails about this post from me.

        As for what you said, you claim:

        All liquids are expanding over the next decades at least

        Are you meaning all liquids, as in combined, or each individually? Your wording suggests the latter, but it seems hard to believe you’d mean that. Even if the total amount keeps increasing, some of the individual components are certainly not going to.

        As for broadening the problem, I don’t really see you doing that. You refer to coal, gas, uranium and shale oil projects. Three of those are covered by unconventional oil. They’re already part of the problem I’m trying to discuss. Uranium is the only one that isn’t, and I don’t know of anything that suggests it will have a notable impact in oil production/consumption rates.

    • blueice2hotsea

      Brandon Shollenberger –

      You long ago revealed the Vague Genie handle (unintentionally or not) as you. For that reason I thought everybody was in on the joke. Certainly I do think you a liar. Still, It would be best to stick with one handle and just preface certain comments as “trial balloons” – variations of ideas you want to explore.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        blueice2hotsea, I normally don’t bother pointing out typos, but… I don’t think you meant “do”!

        Anyway, I don’t use that name often for a reason. Like any joke, it gets played out. Plus the more I use it the more likely people not in on the joke would see it. I don’t mean to mislead people!

      • blueice2hotsea

        Brandon Shollenberger –

        Woops! Your’re correct. I did not see the Vague Genie handle as means to mislead. Sorry about that. My bad.

        As I say, I thought everybody knew it. On the other hand, I thought most knew Bart R.


        well here brandon its not at all clear. You make only a weak effort to correct people with a comment about autofill that doesnt clearly state who vague genie is. I think there are more examples because I’ve been wondering who vague genie is and in the previous case it wasnt at all clear. its clear now, only because I have a good enough memory to remember the thread where I last saw vague genie.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Steven Mosher, you’re right I didn’t always explicitly identify the handle. So what? The fact is I made a follow up comment to correct the name within a minute of the comment you cite. It may not have been explicit, but you’re wrong to say “its not clear at all.” I think it was clear enough most people could figure it out. And it’s ridiculous to say:

        its clear now, only because I have a good enough memory to remember the thread where I last saw vague genie.

        Seriously? You were posting on the page where I talked about creating the handle. Heck, you posted a mere three hours after I did so! And then, within 24 hours I had made several comments using the handle in the exact manner I had suggested I would. And as though that’s not enough, I just used Google to search this site for the handle, and on the first page of results:

        Since I’m the progenitor of the metaphor, I think I should make an alt named, “Vague Genie.” It could post seemingly on-topic comments with so …

        It’s not clear “only because” of your memory. All it would have ever taken you is a single Google search. And that’s assuming you didn’t remember me declaring my intention to make the handle a few hours before you posted on the same page.

        (It’s worth pointing out if you use Google to find comments made under that name, you’ll find I’ve complained about my phone’s autofill making me post under the wrong name multiple times, even close in time to the one Mosher refers to. The idea that it was a secret I post as Vague Genie is… silly.)

  7. David Springer

    You also need a link to IEA World Energy Outlook for people to go see the original of what you’re analyzing.

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      Footnote six has a link to the 2008 WEO, but it looks like the link to the 2010 one didn’t get included. It probably got lost in one of the revisions. It’s easy to find with Google, but I’ll see if it can get added to the post.

  8. thermageddon or fuelageddon it seems

  9. This post seems to present it’s subject matter rather well.

    There are certainly political pressures on IEA that affect what they write. Their reports have, however, gotten much more realistic since earlier years. Now they emphasize strongly that the level of investment may fall essentially short of what’s needed to get even close to the scenarios. The price of oil is perhaps not rising enough in the scenarios, but it’s not very low either as it was earlier.

    My impression at earlier time was that there was some kind of mutual agreement between IEA and OPEC that neither one rocks the boat too much and that made IEA exceedingly careful. The quality of the reports improved when Fatih Birol took over the main responsibility on the preparation of the reports.

    • Pekka, the essential issue is in two parts:

      1) the difference between resource and reserve (Kim’s post above glanced this). This difference is not trivial, people have gone to jail for deliberately conflating these categories. Istvan’s post is confused here. It’s very clear that he’s not a geologist/geoscientist

      2) hard estimates of both resource and reserve are classified as “in the National Interest” data by both OPEC and non-OPEC producers/explorers. You will have seen that Istvan used a Wikileaks cable to try and help here.

      My point is that such estimates as are released into the public domain simply cannot be trusted … politicians are heavily involved. Both Russia and the Central Asian countries are prime examples of this

      The same comments apply to coal resources, although these tend to be a little more transparent. Here, the issue is not so much the in-situ tonnages still in the ground, but rather reliable estimates of coal qualities still in-situ. These are generally poorly measured and anyway kept in close commercial-in-confidence

      Additionally, “peak” anything also crucially depends on estimates of future consumption and the rates thereof. Crystal ball stuff, much like “forecasting” global temperatures 100 years ahead

      • ianl,

        I have been following the resource estimates for more than 20 years, lectured about them, and written reports and articles on that, all this in Finnish, thus I haven’t any material to show here. Oil is not my main field but important enough to lead to the above. This is the background for my comment.

        I’m not peak oil activist and I don’t fully agree with them, but I have found out that I have had surprisingly little need to revise my views on the availability of oil. Those views are not far of what’s written in this post.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Where did this post confuse resources and reserves? As a co-author, I should take responsibility if a mistake like that slipped through.

      • Pekka Pirila,

        I have been following the resource estimates for more than 20 years, lectured about them, and written reports and articles on that, all this in Finnish, thus I haven’t any material to show here. Oil is not my main field but important enough to lead to the above. This is the background for my comment.

        The fact you followed something, written about it and lectured on it know what you are talking about. Many people are lecturing complete nonsense (renewable energy advocates are an excellent example). They believe everything they are telling their students, but it’s just their belief (often strongly influenced by their political ideology).

        There are many examples of such people who blog frequently on Climate Etc. One, a mathematician emeritus professor, reckons he knows all about energy matters and preaches about how economic and rational is renewable energy and especially his solar panels. But he hasn’t a clue what he’s talking about.

        We had an argument about wind power, costs, economics, Denmark’s production and how much of it is used in Denmark. You were absolutely confident you were correct. You called your beliefs “clear facts” but you couldn’t substantiate them. Then we found they were wrong.

        So the fact you have followed something and lectured in something is irrelevant.

      • Peter,

        Everyone can decide what’s the significance of that someone has followed a field for long. It has at least some relevance in relation to my earlier comment that was a little of historical nature.

        On the Danish wind energy case. I think that few who followed that discussion ended up believing that you understood much on that. It’s not always a dismerit to disagree with you.

      • Pekka

        You say:

        “I have been following the resource estimates for more than 20 years, lectured about them, and written reports and articles on that, all this in Finnish”

        Ditto for me, except the timescale is 40 years and I use English

        Sorry, but you failed dismally to address any single one of my points

        High horse puffery doesn’t cut it. You have disappointed me

      • Brandon Shollenberger


        Sorry, but you failed dismally to address any single one of my points

        Perhaps he has, but you have failed to address the very simple question I addressed to you. Given the severity of the issue the question is about, this seems peculiar.

      • Heh, there’s no dividing them, they are both products of the human mind.

  10. David Springer

    Totally excludes, by definition, biofuel from genetically modified cyanobacteria. This is by far the most promising biofuel process. It requires neither potable water nor arable land nor harvest and processing of biomass. Modified cyanobacteria grow in brackish water in enclosed raceways and excrete fuel that only requires separation from water.

    There’s no survey of future energy sources I can take seriously without the top contender in biofuel in the bullet list.

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      It may be promising, but I can find no serious projections to indicate it will be a notable source of fuel in the near future. As such, I don’t see it as being particularly relevant to the WEO.

      And it is really not relevant to this post. This post deals almost entirely with conventional oil.

      • I also looked and couldn’t find anything by a reputable, authoritative organisation addressing the key issues. And David Springer has failed to produce any reputable, authoritative reference on it either (addressing the key criteria, see the questions that need to be answered: ).

      • David Springer


        Fair enough. Photosynthetic bacteria are third generation biofuel. The problem is that any analysis going out to 2050 that makes no mention of an emergent technology in 2010 is deficient IMO. This is a big break from first and second generation biofuel with 10x improvement in production cost.

        Here is a rather long article on the science with many references to peer reviewed literature:

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        David Springer, I personally hold little interest in projections out to 2050. 2035 is about where I stop looking. ~20 years is fairly reasonable given the wind-up times necessary to go from design to implementation, but ~40 years seems too unpredictable.

        That said, I would like to see work done to reduce the cost of algae based biofuels. They seem a lot better than a number of their counterparts.

  11. Brandon Shollenberger

    For the record, there is no ‘c’ in my name. It’s not really important, but still…

  12. David L. Hagen

    Rudd and Brandon
    Thanks for your detailed post.
    I strongly recommend adding IEA’s World Energy Outlook 2012 Figure 3.15 World Oil Supply by Type as reposted by Aleklett.
    While IEA’s 2010 figure predicts flat crude oil production, the IEA 2012 now shows “crude oil” declining from a peak in 2005 – despite all the grief they got earlier.

    From their field by field analysis, the IEA is now giving better predictions. See Kjell Aleklett’s detailed analysis: “An analysis of World Energy Outlook 2012 as preparation for an interview with Science”

    In 2004 when I for the first time said that the WEO-2004 was wrong they were stating that crude oil production in 2030 would be 108 Mb/d. The IEA has lowered the scenario output for 2030 by 42 Mb/d down to 66 Mb/d. That is a change of 40% in 8 years! . . .
    Very few oil producing nations show an increase in crude oil production in the period to 2035. Instead most nations show a decline.  . . .
    To summarise my analysis of the IEA’s WEO-2012 report, I find it very hard to understand how IEA can smile and say “don’t worry, be happy”.

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      Thanks David L. Hagen! I looked into the 2012 WEO when examining things in this post, and I found a number of peculiarities. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a free copy of the report like I could the 2008 and 2010. I didn’t want to comment on things without being able to examine them in some detail, and I wasn’t going to pay (I think over a hundred dollars?) just to look into things.

      For what it’s worth, my impression is the 2012 WEO did a better job with conventional oil but a worse job with unconventional oil.

    • David L. Hagen

      Even North Dakota may soon be peaking. See:
      Is North Dakota’s Miraculous Boom Already Over?

  13. Did fracking get mentioned ?

    Then there’s nuclear waste, I think I read somewhere that only 5% of the energy was extracted from the Uranium and the other 95% is left behind in the waste which can be obtained using fast breeder reactors and has the useful side benefit of making the remaining waste much safer.

    Use electricity from wind, solar, uranium, thorium to make Hydrogen.

    Methane Hydrates or Clathrates.

    But ultimately mankind better get Fusion working. If they don’t, then there will be a real energy problem.

  14. “Government-affiliated Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp. has begun the world’s first offshore test mining of methane hydrate from seabed layers, in an effort to tap into a potential new fuel resource.

    According to the company, the deep-sea drilling vessel Chikyu departed Jan. 28 for the eastern Nankai Trough, 70 kilometers off the Atsumi Peninsula in Aichi Prefecture.

    Methane hydrate, known as “burning ice,” has been drawing much attention as a possible abundant natural fuel resource.

    The company drilled an offshore well last year at a depth of 1,000 meters to a methane hydrate stratum 300 meters under the seabed where the production testing is being conducted.

    It now plans to extract natural gas by inserting a pipe into the well and separating methane hydrate into methane gas and water. The extraction will begin as early as March, if the operation goes according to schedule.

    The company plans to extract up to 10,000 cubic meters of gas per day over a two-week period.

    It is estimated that Japan’s coastal waters hold 100 times the amount of natural gas that is used annually in the nation.”

    • On the one hand, that is proof that we will never run out of hydrocarbons. On the other hand, it is proof that hydrocarbons will get horribly expensive. Gas from offshore methane hydrates won’t come cheap. A Peak in producgtion volume will come. A peak in production revenue will come later. It is the shape of the decline that is in doubt.

      I don’t think there is any doubt of the overall trend in the price curve. Moving food from farm to mouth is going to be the ultimate governor.

  15. Chief Hydrologist

    ‘Conservation Agriculture is one of the most promising concepts and a set of principles in terms of maintaining acceptable profit as well as conserving and enhancing the resource base. Three interlinked principles of CA are: 1) continuous minimum mechanical soil disturbance, 2) permanent soil cover with plant residue and cover crops and, 3) species diversification in crop rotations and sequences. These when applied along with other good agricultural practices have been shown to have a positive contribution to productivity (yield) and profit, other ecosystem services such as reduced soil erosion and improved water resources, to lowering production costs, and to climate change adaptability and mitigation. CA is also called “no-till” or “zero-till” farming system. Currently, there is a total of about 117 M ha of no-tillage area worldwide, expanding at the rate of some 6 M ha per annum, and this trend is expected to continue.’

    ‘Increased maize yield after CF adoption was recorded among 65.7% of the respondents with a gain in yield amounting to 2 tons/ha on average, which is three times more than the yield from conventional farming. It is, therefore, concluded that CF constitutes currently one of the major keys to increasing crop yield and productivity in Zambia.’

    There are about 5 billion hectares of agricultural lands globally – so there is really quite some way to go. But we should probably expect exponential growth rather than linear. In Australia it is about 15% of farmers and expanding rapidly with productivity increases of 70% achieved. We need huge increases in productivity just to continue to feed the world greater amounts of the animal protein they want. The residues of feedstock for fuels can be used for animal and fish production – with the waste from that feeding back into the land based production cycle.

    It is of course – a major but not the sole approach to energy, food or the environment. Although for one thing an increase of 1% in soil carbon across all agricultural soils sequesters 500 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide. It comes under the heading of a no-brainer solution.

  16. Since oil companies don’t like to reveal what they know or what technologies they are developing, oil production forecasting may suffer from the same lack of good data that climate science does. Known knowns, known unknowns, and unknown unknowns, and all that. Nothing in the analysis makes me want the government to fund energy companies.

    • I might add, nothing in the analysis makes me want the government to fund energy companies any more than climate science results to date would make me want to stop burning coal.

      • I think it is folly to regulate coal out of the electrical generation business. Let coal and natural gas fight it out on price. But a regulatory preference for natural gas over coal based purely on CO2, particulates, and trace metals is quite short-sighted.

        I lived through natural gas shortages in the mid 70’s where a cold winter caused industry to shut down to have enough for homes. Our Energy Czar was John Love under Wage-Price-Controls Richard Nixon.. Because of the shortage, natural gas fired electrical power-plants were later transformed to burn plentiful coal.

        We can debate the shape of the “Peak Oil” Hubbert decline tail a lot. But who here will argue that we have the luxury of removing entire classes of energy sources from our list of options? Let price decide.

        If we now replace coal with natural gas by administrative fiat, we will set ourselves up for another totally-avoidable natural gas supply squeeze complete with industry shutdowns and brown-outs. It is as inevitable as sunset follows dawn.

      • Stephen Rasey,

        I agree.

  17. “This is because WEO 2010 projected world oil production would keep pace with demand through 2035. This optimistic projection is about as factually sound as IPCC AR4’s climate sensitivity estimates. It contains more glaring inconsistencies than AR4 WG3 section 9.6 on ECS.”

    1. this adds nothing.
    2. it’s unsupported by any detailed analysis of AR4
    3. If true it would add nothing. If the WEO projection is optimistic, actually showing that would make your case. Positing it, and comparing that posit to a different case ( Ar4) which you also havent made, is just the kind of marketing you apparently think you have avoided,but in reality have not.

    • Agreed. It can make the authors look like they are more interested in grinding their own personal axes than making a serious analysis of the issue in question. And it makes those of us who disagree with the authors’ views on CS but want to give this article a fair hearing less inclined to do so.

      Having said that, I still found it an interesting and informative piece. What slightly puzzles me about this subject is why it elicits such strong reactions from certain people, I mean I don’t personally have a horse in this race but oil is necessarily a finite resource so the question itself is surely a perfectly reasonable one.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        andrew adams, I agree with this criticism. Rud Istvan did the original writing of this post, and I don’t like some of the rhetorical devices he used. Most of what I disliked got removed in the editing process (compare the style of this post to his last one), but I didn’t worry about addressing all of them. I figure a couple stylistic warts aren’t a big deal.

      • throw the co author under the bus?

        Interesting move Brandon. have you considered taking your name off the piece. Remember the argument you make for future reference and for past comparisons

      • Brandon,

        OK, as an isolated example it grated a bit but wasn’t enough to put me off the whole article.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Steven Mosher, what in the world are you talking about? I said i don’t like a rhetorical device my coauthor used. Why would I take my name off the piece because of that? Coauthors can disagree over matters of style.

        andrew adams, I’m glad to hear it didn’t bother you too much.

      • Mosh, It seriously looks like they may have tried to throw each other under the bus.

        Remember that Rud promised Brandon that he would coauthor a piece with him in return for Brandon to fact check the article.
        This was a move to appease Brandon after Brandon made some trivial criticisms of the first post that Rid put up a week or so ago.

        But this is game theory in action, after all, and you can’t tell who is gaming who.
        We do need Willard here.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Huh. I didn’t realize Rud had promised me anything, ever. It’s a good thing WebHubTelescope was here to tell us what to remember!

      • Brandon,
        You are lying. These blog comments remember things.
        Check Week in Review 2/03/12, Feb 4, 2013, 12:50 am
        Where Rud makes you an offer to critique his work via a read-ahead copy.

        You obviously read it, made some comments and now Rud stuck your name on it.

        You are a also a bit naive in that you do not understand how these things work. That offer was made with an implicit promise that you would be co-author.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Fascinating. I’m both naive and lying at the same time. The mind boggles at how that works. That’s fitting given the “implicit promise” of coauthorship was made to, “Brandon,and [sic] anyone else.”

        I’d think an open offer to share work for review with anyone would be just that. I wouldn’t think it is a promise to one person they’ll be made a coauthor. But then, apparently I’m naive.

        And a liar!

      • We’re trying to make this debate as complicated as climate. You just got caught in a dust devil. Lie down and swim out.

      • You really can’t twist your way out of this.

        You are a co-author of a blog post which Rud has spent probably months or years researching yet you think you can get away with simultaneously preening that the contents are your responsibility while also claiming to dislike Rud’s writing style.

        You are playing people for chumps, Brandon.

        Mosh caught you criticizing Rud’s writing style, which to all of us looked like you were clumsily trying to throw him under the bus.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Again, fascinating. I am “naive” and “playing people” at the same time. I guess that makes as much sense as you will given your latest comment seemingly has no connection to the exchange immediately before it.

        Anyway, what is so unusual about what I said? I dislike a rhetorical device used by Rud Istvan. I acknowledged the use of that rhetorical device is a flaw in the post. Since my name is attached to this post, I take responsibility for the material included in the post. That includes the use of a rhetorical device I don’t like.

        Sometimes when you work with other people you don’t like every part of the final product. What is the big deal?

      • “Steven Mosher, what in the world are you talking about? I said i don’t like a rhetorical device my coauthor used. Why would I take my name off the piece because of that? Coauthors can disagree over matters of style.”

        here in case you missed it?

        ” have you considered taking your name off the piece. Remember the argument you make for future reference and for past comparisons”

        That is the topic. It is pretty clear. Pretending that you don’t get it is just another way of you saying “You make no sense” Nice try, but the ploy is the same.

        Let me spell it out.

        1. throwing your co author under the Bus. That was a question not a statement.

        2. I asked you if you have considered taking your name off the piece.
        That too is a question.

        3. I told you to consider your answer in light of past arguments and future arguments. That is all. You might consider checking all the things
        you have said in similar situations….

        So, Why pretend that you don’t know what I am talking about?

        Finally, I don’t think you can attribute this to a mere stylistic difference.
        There is a gaping argumentative hole in that paragraph that is papered over with a unsupported slam on the IPCC.
        It is both stylstic and substantive.. style and substance can’t be easily separated.

      • It’s a tarpit. Keep floating.

      • Brandon, I was the one that convinced Willard that your moniker should be Chewbacca. You’re like the Jackie Chiles variation of Johnnie Cochran, not the real thing but close enough to chuckle over your feigned outrage.

        But at this point, it’s just piling on. Chiles: “This is the most public yet of my many humiliations.”

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Steven Mosher, once you start relying on faulty mind-reading, I don’t see much reason in responding. I haven’t pretended at all in this exchange. You can say I am merely pretending as part of a ploy, but I think that’s stupid. Why imply dishonesty on my part?

        I didn’t act like I didn’t know what you were saying. I answered both of your questions. I just prefaced my answer with a rhetorical question to express disdain for the implications you made by asking those questions.

        Attacking people’s integrity based on your faulty (mind)reading skills is a good way to look a fool.

  18. Individuals solve problems,
    governments spend money )

    • governments put people on the moon. individuals wave their arms.
      might want to consider how your statement is easy to falsify.
      most generalizations are false. Note I didnt say all.

      • Governments put 12 people on the moon. 12. Then they realized that it was a pointless exercise and moved on to other things. What other things, I’m not sure but they certainly are expensive.

        The “arm wavers” created Wal-Mart, Exxon, Chevron, Conoco, Fannie Mae (oops — government gets the credit for this one), GE, Berkshire-Hathaway, GM (another government success story), B of A, Ford (didn’t need a government bailout), Apple, Microsoft, J&J, Intel, Coca-Cola, Google — you get the point.

      • “governments put people on the moon”

        Yep, John Glen rode an act of Congress into orbit. Neil Armstrong flew to the moon on an EPA regulation.

        Wet slobbering kisses to the all powerful government are so attractive.

        There was a reason our space program led to us becoming, and remaining, the dominant technological force in the world, while the Soviet Union ended up in the septic tank of history. And it wasn’t the U.S. government.

        The government is a customer of technology, like I am a customer of WalMart. Government deserves as much credit for what our free market has produced as I do for Sam Walton’s estate.

      • David Springer

        Government funded R&D with military application produced the internet, the nuclear power industry, everything launched into space as well as the launch vehicles, radar, jet engines, synthetic rubber… the list is endless. Mosher’s right. Anyone who doesn’t acknowledge it is clueless.

      • David Springer wrote, “Government funded R&D with military application produced the internet, the nuclear power industry, everything launched into space as well as the launch vehicles, radar, jet engines, synthetic rubber … ”
        Government funded R&D produced none of the above. The output of the R&D may have made the above possible a little sooner. An interesting example that disproves Springer’s statement is synthetic rubber …

        In 1879, Bouchardat created one form of synthetic rubber, producing a polymer of isoprene in a laboratory. The expanded use of motor vehicles, and particularly motor vehicle tires, starting in the 1890s, created increased demand for rubber. In 1909, a team headed by Fritz Hofmann, working at the Bayer laboratory in Elberfeld, Germany, also succeeded in polymerizing methyl isoprene, the first synthetic rubber.
        [ … ]
        B.F. Goodrich Company scientist Waldo Semon developed a new and cheaper version of synthetic rubber known as Ameripol in 1940. Ameripol made synthetic rubber production much more cost effective, helping to meet the country’s needs during World War II.

      • Sorry Speed.
        As one of the guys who worked with arpa net stuff it’s fair to say that the the government did play a huge role in the creation of the internet.
        government can and does solve problems. So do businesses, so do individuals, and sometimes a partnership of all three. It’s silly to argue otherwise. Go ahead and tell me what individual solved the problem of bin laden.. the problem of hilter.. the problem of hoover dam.. heck the chinese have all sorts of problems that their government solves.
        Note: I did not say government was the solution to all problems. Note I did not say government is the best solution or only solution.
        Individuals spend money. governments solve problems.
        Look at that I inverted the authors statement and its still true

      • Ahh the core of progressivism. The worship of government.

        The soldiers, intelligence agents and analysts who fought not just the jihadists, but the bureaucracy that stood in their, way didn’t kill bin Laden, the government did.

        The tax payers didn’t fund all those shiny new technologies, the pasty faced bureaucrats who taxed them did. The engineering geniuses and entrepreneurs who built the companies that built the technologies didn’t build that. The government did.

        We should dig up Arlington and just put a mock up of the Capitol Building in its place. All hail government!

        Our Government, which art in D.C.,
        Hallowed be Thy name.
        Thy kingdom come (like in China), thy will be done,
        In California as it is in New York,
        And give us this day, our daily bread (just like Julia)
        And forgive us our tresspasses
        As we forgive those who trespass against the awesomeness of
        And lead us not, into self reliance,
        But deliver us from responsibility,

      • Steven,

        Have you noticed that governments stopped putting people on the moon? Can you explain why?

      • Kudos to mosher and *cough,* *cough* Springer for a display of honest-to-god skepticism.

      • Of course all this stuff is ultimately done by individuals, but sometimes it needs governments to provide the conditions, the structures, the funding or whatever to enable it to happen. Bin Laden didn’t get killed because a bunch of guys though it would be good fun to go and do it. Likewise with the moon landings.
        To say that pointing this out equates to worshipping government and believing it can do no wrong is just a playground level argument.

      • Of course all this stuff is ultimately done by individuals,

        The whole discussion is pretty ridiculous, IMO. With the exception of some extreme examples, the very notion of some grand dichotomy between “government” and “individuals” is incredibly facile.

        Our “government” comprises “individuals,” and there are no “individuals” in our country or yours, whose success or lack thereof is not inextricably linked to “government.”

        This is yet another case of people using facile, subjective, Rorschach-like conceptualizations, to bang on their ideological drums/throw Jell-o.

      • Steven Mosher wrote, “As one of the guys who worked with arpa net stuff it’s fair to say that the the government did play a huge role in the creation of the internet.”

        Because of its government ties, certain forms of traffic were discouraged or prohibited. A 1982 handbook on computing at MIT’s AI Lab stated regarding network etiquette:

        It is considered illegal to use the ARPANet for anything which is not in direct support of Government business … personal messages to other ARPANet subscribers (for example, to arrange a get-together or check and say a friendly hello) are generally not considered harmful … Sending electronic mail over the ARPANet for commercial profit or political purposes is both anti-social and illegal. By sending such messages, you can offend many people, and it is possible to get MIT in serious trouble with the Government agencies which manage the ARPANet.

        It is obvious that in its earliest stages, the government had a clear understanding of what ARPANet would become.

      • That’s why I refer to people like GaryM as neo-Luddites.
        They don’t hate technology but their resistance to standard funding solutions make them indistinguishable from actual Luddites.

        They don’t like what Mosh has to say, then rebel against that notion and thus become neo-Luddites.

        By the same token, they can also become neo-Malthusians. Again this means that they aren’t exactly Malthusians but everything they do hastens that outcome

        A neo-cornucopian is someone who believes in resource limits only as long as it doesn’t occur during his lifetime. Then it is bountiful spoils for him and his close circle.

      • Progressive worship of government is now merely “standard funding solutions.” Socialism-fascism-the third way-social democracy-standard funding solutions.

        Hmmm…doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.

      • President Obama repeatedly declared that, with enough federal aid, we can put a million electric vehicles on the road by 2015. His administration has invested about $5 billion in grants, guaranteed loans — including $465 million for Tesla — and tax incentives to buyers.

        Yet Americans bought just 71,000 plug-in hybrids or all-electric vehicles in the past two years, according to That’s about a third as many as the Energy Department forecast in a 2011 report that attempted to explain why Obama’s goal was not preposterous.

        The 21st century version of 12 men on the moon.

      • Speed,

        President Obama repeatedly declared that, with enough federal aid, we can put a million electric vehicles on the road by 2015.

        This is similar to the claims of the renewable energy proponents. For example, solar power researchers like David Mills and Mark Diesendorf and others were stating in 1991 and ever since: “solar power is baseload capable now, is economic now and is cheaper than nuclear power now, if the stupid government and stupid bureaucrats would just give us more money to make it so”.

      • Don Monfort | February 12, 2013 at 12:03 pm |

        Have you noticed that governments stopped putting people on the moon? Can you explain why?


        I’ll take your admission that governments can solve problems as agreement with my proposition. If you want to explain why governments moved on to other problems, that would also confirm what I said. Go ahead

      • Steven Mosher


        “Government put people on the moon.”

        That was in a different time period than today.

        President Obama’s budget proposal for fiscal 2013 includes total expenditures of $3.8 trillion,

        But what’s that got to do with the moon?

        The thickness of a US dollar bill is 0.11 mm.

        So 3.8 trillion of them stacked on top of each other would be 418,000 km high.

        The average distance to the moon is 384,000 km.

        So the stack of dollar bills equal to the US budget spending would more than get us from Earth to the moon.

        With no rockets!


      • “It is obvious that in its earliest stages, the government had a clear understanding of what ARPANet would become.”

        Thats a nice 1982 document, but it says nothing about the original vision of arpa net. email, telnet and ftp where all done by 73. and the original vision, connecting big iron so that researchers could shared capabilities.. well you know what that has become.
        In the early 80s there was some friction because so many non military folks were using it.. that spawned separate nets, but the underlynig problem was solved and that solution ( TCPIP) is free and open today for individuals who want to take the vision beyond the cramped version that governments have. So yes, thanks for agreeing government solved the problem. They promptly failed to see how that solution could solve other problems.. but the core technology was freed.
        Freedom is a good thing. Standards are a good thing.

        hmm who builds proprietary stuff.

      • Manacker,

        So the stack of dollar bills equal to the US budget spending would more than get us from Earth to the moon.

        With no rockets!

        In fact, if you build the pile in the firm of steps, you could walk to the Moon. Fit people might like to run to the Moon. I can foresee competitions like the ones where people compete to be fastest to run up the stairs of the Empire State Building.

        In fact, give the USA a few more years of adding to its debt, and the steps could allow us to walk to Mars.

        What’s the probability of USA debt being large enough to build steps to Jupiter by the end of the century?

      • “What’s the probability of USA debt being large enough to build steps to Jupiter by the end of the century?”

        Near zero.
        Everything has a limit.

        For instance even a strong dollar bill has limit of compressive strength, so
        can’t stack dollar bills to the Moon. The height would probably be limited
        to somewhere around less 100 km high. Paper could be better than steel due it’s lighter weight.
        Now, if built it from the Moon, you might have a chance, but it needs to be a tapered construction, and the only hope is in the gravitational mass of the dollar bills:)
        And the Moon is moving and earth’s rotating- so the massive dollar bill structure could not extent to the earth surface.
        Plus the Moon’s orbit is not circular it’s distance from Earth varies:
        Distance at perigee: ~362600 km
        Distance at apogee: ~405400 km

        So at perigee, the structure could as close as say 500 km from Earth surface and at apogee: 43300 km from Earth surface.
        So at times went it was at perigee, you could do suborbital trajectory of +500 km and reach bottom of the stair. Such a hop would not require much delta-v. Probably about 1/3rd of delta-v needed to get to orbit.

      • manaker

        “That was in a different time period than today.”

        please note beths statement:

        “Individuals solve problems,
        governments spend money”

        Notice how it doesnt say anything about the past or future.
        Notice that it is silent on whether or not governments can solve problems.

        Note this:

        Individuals solve problems. Governments spend money and
        governments solve problems.

        Notice how my sentence is logically consistent with hers.
        Notice how I havent contradicted her.
        Notice that I never said government solves problems better than individuals.
        Notice what I said, not what you think I said.
        You and others think that you have to denegrate everything that government does. Well, you dont. Governments solve problems. Its silly to suggest otherwise. Governments solve problems, but their solutions are always second rate. you could say that if you like.

        Notice how almost nobody actually thought about the sentences.

      • Problems government has “solved:”

        Exploding government spending so we can tank the entire world economy.

        Not educating inner city children so they have no future and can grow up as permanently dependent on government.

        Taking over the student loan industry so the cost of a college education sky rockets. (This from someone who worked his way through college and law school, because it used to be you could actually do that.)

        Doing the same thing for the health care industry.

        Mandating ever higher minimum wages to make sure that the minority inner city children it doesn’t educate also can’t get an entry level job.

        Forcing banks to make loans to people who could not afford them, so the entire world economy was brought to the brink (and wizards of smart in the government are trying to do it again).

        Creating social security and medicare/medicaid ponzi schemes whose costs are rising the way Michael Mann’s hockey stick pretended temperatures were.

        Negotiating public pensions throughout the country with public center unions (aka Democrat Party campaign workers) that are bankrupting states, counties and municipalities across the country.

        Forcing religious institutions to choose between following their faith, or leaving behind the hospitals, schools and other charitable works that help people avoid total dependence on government.

        Prohibiting the exercise of free speech in the 90 days before an election, while forbidding any regulation of virtual child porn.

        Government, under progressives in both parties in the U.S., specializes in creating problems, so it can make people more dependent on it.

        But hey, the government solves problems.

    • Beth

      (to continue) …Governments spend money
      Provided by individuals, who earned it

      (And when they do this to protect the individuals from themselves by controlling and regulating the actions of these individuals…we have the beginning of a Kafkaesque problem.)


  19. J Martin, fracking was, very explicitly. And also in the last post which motivated this one by Beandon and myself.
    Nuclear is not in this post, which is even missing an important figure from WEO 2008 on oil.
    But nuclear is considered in detail in my book from which these ideas were extracted and condensed. There are three nuclear problems. First, fuel availability without spent fuel recycling. US Nevada politics about Yucca Mountain. Second, fuel security with recycling since involves plutonium, which Japan’s Rokkasho complex solved. Third, long term nuclear fuel availability without breeders. Compounds the first two. Better nuclear options are one of the many energy issues where climate change research would be better focused, rather than on the current fear mongering about ocean levels and extreme weather. Which was our unstated point.

    • Rud Istvan,

      I disagree with you on nuclear fuel availability. It is effectively unlimited for hundreds or thousands of years for a world population much larger than now and using much higher energy per capita than USA uses now.

      Nuclear fuel is effectively unlimited. It is silly to say that the known reserves are all we have. Uranium and Thorium are relatively common elements concentrated in the Earth’s crust and ocean (around the same concentration as lead tin ans zinc from memory). Exploration and mining methods are continually improving, just as they have done for fossil fuels extraction. We’ve hardly explored for uranium on the Earth’s crust yet, let alone at depth.

      And of course we will move to breeder reactors when it is economic to do so. A lifetime of energy in the palm of your hand: . A chunk of uranium the size of a golf ball contains all the energy a person needs for their whole life at the consumption rate of the average American (that is all energy use and all energy required to provide all the goods and services of a person at USA consumption rates).

      The argument about shortage of nuclear fuel is a furphy. Anyone pedalling this nonsense, IMO, is no different to those pedalling other scaremongering stories. Pedalling this furphy discredits all else the person says, IMO.

    • Chief Hydrologist

      There are four nuclear problems – 270,000 tonnes of waste sitting around in leaky drums and cooling pools. Solve this problem and the others melt away – sorry about the pun.

      New versions of old prototypes of high temperature nuclear engines promise to solve this problem. There is sufficient energy in these waste to power the world for hundred of years. The from these plants is toxic for hundreds of years rather than hundreds of thousands. They are small units that can be constructed in factories and tranported to a concrete bunker – where it can be left for 20 years. They provide both heat and electricity. Perfect and very cheap for areas without an extensive grid.

      There are many versions of these reactors – but General Atomics for one is spending $1.7B on this over the next 10 years. It is great to see a great American company stepping up.

      It is a lovely little proposal for a ‘travelling wave’ core.

    • Dear Rud,
      What is your opinion on thorium? It does not seem to have the three problems you mentioned. But I understand that the materials needed to constrain and withsthand the molten salt cooling agent / fuel are the criticial path. Conventional materials corrode too fast I read. I would like to learn more so I am interested in your thoughts. Or anyone elses of course.

  20. Chief Hydrologist

    The ‘problem’ was that the Russians got into space first – and look what happened there. The government plants symbols and private enterprise sells space tourism. Let’s see which one goes further.

    • “Well, I don’t know, but I’ve been told,
      The streets of Heaven are paved with gold.
      I ask you, how could it get much worse,
      If the Russians happen to get up there first?

      “By the way, pretty scary!”

      – the Bobster’s take on the space race, ca 1962

      • Chief Hydrologist

        With all this poetry around I am starting to feel a muse coming on…burp… no – sorry – it was just wind.

        I’m feeling a bit left out – no +1 from Beth for dystopian literature set in a post-apocalyptic America. The movie version will star Mel Gibson, Al Gore and Rud Istvan as themselves. In a world running on empty…

      • What – no Ehrlich(s)?

      • Faustino

        Another take on that was the old joke that went around Europe around that time.

        The Soviets have landed a manned mission on the moon, hours after the landing of the USA manned mission.

        US Moon Mission Commandant to Houston: The Soviets have just landed, and they are starting to paint the moon red. Please advise action to take. Over.

        Houston to Moon Mission: Observe Soviets and report activity. Over.

        US Moon Mission Commandant to Houston: The Soviets have painted around one-fourth of the moon’s surface red. Please advise action to take. Over.

        Houston to Moon Mission: Continue observing Soviets and report activity. Over.

        US Moon Mission Commandant to Houston: The Soviets have painted around three-fourths of the moon’s surface red. Please advise action to take. Over.

        Houston to Moon Mission: Continue observing Soviets and report activity. Over.

        US Moon Mission Commandant to Houston: The Soviets have painted the entire side of the moon’s surface facing Earth red. Please advise action to take. Over.

        Houston to Moon Mission: Paint the word “Coca-Cola” in white paint in script across moon surface. Over.

        [It’s what DeGaulle referred to as “la Coca-Colonization”.]


      • Chief Hydrologist

        Made me LOL cheers

  21. Touche, SM )

    We who shoot off our mouths are easily falsified.
    ( guess I should have said, ‘in many cases it is individuals who…
    ..governments are frequently observed to show a propensity ter..

    Er ‘individuals wave their arms,’ isn’t that a generalization as well?

    • I like my other formulation better:
      governments solve problems, individuals spend money.
      Gosh, that is true too!
      Look before you leap, because he who hesitates is lost.

      • He who sees is still blind.

      • Steven Mosher

        Governments can and should solve those problems, which the voting populace want them to solve – no more, no less.

        I like that one even better than yours.


      • “Governments can and should solve those problems, which the voting populace want them to solve – no more, no less.”

        Nobody wanted the government to solve the problem that arpanet solved.
        Does government sometimes oversteps its bounds? sure.
        Guess what one can have a position that government should be limited and STILL BELIEVE that governments can solve problems. They can. They do. Not liking that fact, doesnt make it go away.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        Government should provide those services that the people require – and that the the market is unable or unwilling to provide. The precise limit of this is arguable in a democratic setting but the obvious limit is bread (subject to welfare needs) and circuses.

  22. “Citi is bearish on Brent prices and thinks the oil market is in the process of normalizing
    Citi is bearish on Brent prices and thinks the oil market is in the process of normalizing

    2012 average year price:

    2013 average year price:

    2014 average year price:

    We’re seeing a “supply cornucopia” at a time of heightened geopolitical tensions. The American energy revolution also heightens geopolitical tensions, since it reduces dependence on West Africa, Middle East, Venezuela, Mexico and oil prices decrease. OPEC and other oil producing countries will see their fiscal breakevens – price at which oil contributes to balancing budget – rise.

    Source: Citi”

  23. “Production of shale oil could mitigate the drop in US oil production by producing millions of barrels per day for hundreds of years.”

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      Did you really just quote a nine year old piece?

      • I believe the 9 year old part of the “piece” is the figure. The web site is current as of 2013 … err … now, that is.

      • “n the long term, there is no doubt that oil production will peak and decline. We are using oil at a much faster rate than it is being discovered, as shown in the following figure*, and eventually, the dwindling inventory will preclude maintaining current production.”

        * Williams, Bob., “Future Energy Supply – 1: Oil Depletion”.Oil and Gas Journal, July 21, 2003

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Ah, it does seem more recent than I thought since it cites the 2005 IEA report. That report was terrible so I don’t know why any recent source would cite it, but it is at least a few years more recent than I thought.

        Anyway, that page is pretty much the empty hand-waving you’d expect. It’s not wrong, but it doesn’t add much.

      • Granted, the outcome of their efforts may or may not pay off. But currently, we don’t know and that’s the point. I don’t know and you don’t know either. There are other groups taking other approaches. AFAIC, the government can fund research, but shouldn’t be paying companies for production turbines, production electricity, production electric cars, production solar panels, etc. The government gives tax breaks to just about all businesses in the form of depreciation, etc. That isn’t what I’m talking about, although it wouldn’t be a bad thing to eliminate some real loopholes while lowering business taxes overall.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        jim2, but we do know. Or at least, we have estimates. The WEO reports cited in this post already deal with oil shales. And as you can see, oil shales won’t provide more than a couple percent of all oil we need. Your source doesn’t contradict this.

        If your source provided actual estimates or reasons to question the WEOs’, that’d be a different story.

      • Brandon Shollenberger,

        “And as you can see, oil shales won’t provide more than a couple percent of all oil we need.”


        “The Green River Formation — an assemblage of over 1,000 feet of sedimentary rocks that lie beneath parts of Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming — contains the world’s largest deposits of oil shale. USGS [U.S. Geological Survey] estimates that the Green River Formation contains about 3 trillion barrels of oil, and about half of this may be recoverable, depending on available technology and economic conditions.

        The Rand Corporation, a nonprofit research organization, estimates that 30 to 60 percent of the oil shale in the Green River Formation can be recovered. At the midpoint of this estimate, almost half of the 3 trillion barrels of oil would be recoverable. This is an amount about equal to the entire world’s proven oil reserves. …”

        Now, I’m no climate scientist, but it seems to me that even the lower estimate of 30 percent of 3 trillion barrels calculates out to…a lot of oil.

        And if roughly a trillion barrels is only a few percent of what we need, that would mean we need…oh never mind, if I try to think about it seriously I start to giggle..

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        GaryM, it is difficult to imagine how you interpreted my comment as you did. The discussion between jim2 and I referenced not total oil production, but oil production rates. In that context, it should be obvious I was still referring to oil production rates when I said “all oil we need.”

        Assuming my intended meaning was unclear, the sheer absurdity displayed in your interpretation should have given you pause. This should have made you wonder what other comments I have made on the topic. Had you looked, even just by searching this page for “oil shale,” you would have quickly found this comment where I referred to large reserves like you do then said:

        large total values don’t automatically translate into high production rates.

        Before mockingly responding to what someone says, I would advise you try to make sure you aren’t simply misrepresenting what they post in a fairly obvious way.

      • GaryM said:”Now, I’m no climate scientist, but it seems to me that even the lower estimate of 30 percent of 3 trillion barrels calculates out to…a lot of oil.”

        What has all this to do with climate science? The point seems to me is that “peak oil” is receeding every day.

      • Knowing and having estimates are two very different things. As I said before, you don’t know what technology might work economically for kerogen extraction or any other sort of shale hydrocarbon. You can claim to know, but I don’t believe you.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        jim2, I don’t claim to know much about potential technological developments. What I do know is such developments take time to happen and implement. There aren’t going to be any major increases in production rates from oil shales by 2035 because of them.

        If you want to start looking beyond 20 or so years out, things may be different. But I don’t claim to know anything that far out.

      • I would say making predictions concerning technological developments beyond 5 years isn’t possible.

      • Brandon

        There are more up-to-date estimates of “unconventional” oil potential.

        Citing an IEA study on shale oil, the NYT stated in November 2102:

        ”The United States will overtake Saudi Arabia as the world’s leading oil producer by about 2017 and will become a net oil exporter by 2030, the International Energy Agency said Monday.”

        Other estimates put U.S. recoverable shale oil resources between 1 and 2 trillion barrels (Wiki,,

        The WEC2010 study, which I cited, estimates global oil shale deposits of 4.8 trillion bbl (oil equivalent) in place, of which around 25% is estimated to be economically recoverable. This study estimates that 77% of the global shale oil is in the U.S.A.

        WEC2010 also has estimates of heavy oil (bitumen) at 5.5 trillion bbl OE, located mostly in Canada and Venezuela, of which close to 40% is estimated to be economically recoverable.

        So about half of the total inferred recoverable oil resource on our planet is from “unconventional” sources according to the data out there.

        Here’s how I got to the 5 trillion bbl total recoverable oil estimate:

        1.2 tb proven reserves (O+GJ, WEC2010)
        1.0 tb new discoveries (Arctic, Greenland, OCS, other O/S)
        2.0 tb recoverable OE from heavy oil/bitumen worldwide (WEC2010)
        1.2 tb recoverable OE from shale worldwide (WEC2010)

        But, hey, all estimates of “remaining economically recoverable inferred oil resources” out there are basically educated guesses – and what is “economically recoverable” at $80/bbl is a “no brainer” at $150/bbl.

        There is no question that oil (or all fossil fuels, for that matter) are a limited resource.

        There is also no doubt that humans will develop new energy sources as old ones gradually run out (nuclear is already there for electrical power, arguably the biggest slice of the pie).

        And, yes, there will be some local wind and solar.

        And petroleum-based motor fuels will eventually get replaced with something new.

        And that “something new” will be…………?


      • Brandon Shollenberger,

        “large total values don’t automatically translate into high production rates.”

        “Automatically?” You mean we might have to do something to get the oil out? Oh, the horror.

        And my tone is mocking because I find this whole “peak pil” discussion to be specious, because to even continue the conversation, you have to leave out all the “unconventional oil.” Oh, you mention it in a few words so no one can say you really ignored it totally, but the reality is, we are in no danger of running out of oil. Or more to the point, we are in no danger of seeing sufficient reduction of supply sufficient to fuel the world economy, for the foreseeable future.

        Peak oil? Seriously?

        Peter Davies,

        “What has all this to do with climate science? The point seems to me is that ‘peak oil’ is receeding every day.”

        I didn’t write the post or post it to this blog. I am just responding to the topic. But peak oil does have an impact on the climate debate, because if it were true, it would mean that there is no need for massive taxation and regulation to “decarbonize” the world economy. Which is why the CAGWers are becoming so anti-peak oil.

        And if by “‘peak oil’ is receding every day,” you mean that there is no danger we are anywhere near the peak, I would agree. Which was kinda the point of my comments.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        manacker, I don’t know why you discuss total oil reserves, but the point you mention about the 2012 WEO is worth discussing. As I’ve mentioned on this page, I couldn’t find a free version of that report. However, what I did find shows the US production in 2035 is projected to be ~10 mb/d, less than Saudi Arabia currently produces. That means the quote you offer depends on Saudi Arabia losing production (contradicting every earlier WEO report). I can’t make sense of that.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        GaryM, you made a mocking response based upon a misinterpretation of what I said. I pointed that out, and your response has been to ignore the point. You didn’t acknowledge your failing or dispute my claim. That does not bode well.

        As for unconventional oil, this post is about IEA projections. Those projections show unconventional oil having a relatively small role in the next ~20 years. That role is small in comparison to the issues of conventional oil discussed in this post. If you think focusing on conventional oil is something deserving of scorn, you should level your criticism at the IEA, not its critics.

      • Brandon Shollenberger,

        ” In that context, it should be obvious I was still referring to oil production rates when I said ‘all oil we need.'”

        One, that is not a fair interpretation of the actual words you used. Nor is it consistent with what you have said elsewhere.

        In the primary post there is my favorite: “… it sure looks like peak oil will be the spectre at the feast.” And elsewhere you wrote: “I don’t know if I believe throttling demand to some extent would be a bad idea.”

        And I’m still trying to figure out what you now claim you meant. Of course the issue of production rates, and the extent to which they meet demand? How does that answer or change my criticism?

        If you now want to claim that you are not an alarmist, and this post and your comments are merely critiques of the IEA’s, you probably shouldn’t have felt the need to talk about “throttling demand to some extent.”

        You are trying to be the Gavin Schmidt of peak oil. Play up the doom to come, but deny that is your purpose and avoid proposing the government solutions you want. There was a brief period when Schmidt was taking questions from all comers in a thread on Keith Kloor’s blog. So I asked him what solutions he proposed for global warming. His answer, “something along the lines of what James Hansen is proposing.”

        Peak oil is snake oil.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        GaryM, since you seem to bring up new points without addressing old ones, I’ll try only dealing with one point at a time. If we can resolve one point, then we can move to another. So please, without resorting to insults or comparisons to other people, tell me this:

        How was my interpretation of my own words not fair and/or inconsistent with anything else I wrote? Specifically, when have I ever discussed total oil amounts rather than oil production rates?

      • Let me try one last time. The thesis of the post you co-wrote, according to your co-author, is that the IEA has underestimated the imminence and risk of peak oil. Why else would we need to “throttle the energy economy?”

        And as for my not responding to your complaint that I misrepresented you, I quoted you. Directly.

        “And as you can see, oil shales won’t provide more than a couple percent of all oil we need.”

        Now I have seen your attempts to say you didn’t mean what you clearly wrote, but I think you have failed utterly to support that claim. The only way we might need to “throttle demand” would be if there were not sufficient oil, in total, from all sources, to meet the world’s energy demands.

        Again, in the primary post there is “… it sure looks like peak oil will be the spectre at the feast,” and you wrote: “I don’t know if I believe throttling demand to some extent would be a bad idea.”

        Then, in a response to a comment by manacker, you wrote:

        “manacker, I don’t know why you discuss total oil reserves.”

        Uhhh, maybe because the post is an alarmist claim that the IEA is has miscalculated both the imminence, and risk, of peak oil?

        You want to portray the post now as some technical analysis of the IEA report with no larger point. Nonsense. No one here that I see has read it that way, it is not written that way, and your and your co-authors’ comments do not make that case.

        If you were doing just a critical analysis of the report, you would not have singled out the one issue you thought would support your peak oil claims (overestimated production of conventional oil), and ignored the issue of unconventional (massive discoveries, which dwarf current conventional reserves). You dissect in detail the claims regarding conventional production, but just “assume” the report got unconventional oil right, because it wasn’t relevant to your premise? No, because only by ignoring the recent massive increases in known shale stocks can anyone even utter the words “peak oil” with a straight face.

        Now this was way too long a comment, and I have answered your complaint twice before, so you may now have the floor, and keep it. Semantic arguments bore me to tears anyway, particularly when they are used to divert discussion.

        My point is peak oil is no where near, and it is no danger to this generation. Your post is alarmist snake oil.

        Peak oil is not the spectre at the feast, it is the fool turning cartwheels for the amusement of the diners.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        GaryM, the only defense you’ve offered for your misinterpretation of my comment is the only reason governments might need to “throttle demand” is a limitation on oil total oil reserves. You offer no explanation for that claim. It’s wrong. Reducing the growth in demand would postpone any peaks that might happen. That is why it gets discussed in relation to peak oil.

        As a further note, as I said I would stick to one point at a time, but I feel I should point out you have misinterpreted me yet again. I have not attempted to portray this post merely as an objective analysis of the 2008 and 2010 WEOs. What I’ve said is we used the WEOs to represent one side of an argument.

        If a case made on your side of an argument is wrong, you should criticize it and present improvements. Until you do, it is perfectly appropriate for people to argue against the case they’re presented.

  24. I’ll believe peak oil hysteria when those promoting it put a large percentage of their assets in shorting oil company stocks.

    To me, talking about peak oil while focusing only on conventional oil is like discussing filing bankruptcy based on your checking account, while ignoring your savings account, IRA, home equity….

    Also, I wonder, were the above reports done before or after the extent of the Green River deposits were known?

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      GaryM, why would people who believe peak oil is a problem short oil companies? I can’t see what believing oil will peak in, say 2020 (earlier than I would ever expect), would have to do with shorting oil companies now.

      And how is conventional oil like a checking account? Conventional oil is, by far, the largest component in oil production. Unconventional oil is small in comparison. If anything, you have your metaphor reversed.

      As for the Green River deposits, why don’t you tell us what the expected production rates for them will be in, say 2020? Or 2030? How much of a difference will they make?

  25. RE: The End of Cheap Oil (Campbell and Leherra) Sci. Am, Mar 1998

    I bring to your attention the Hubbert curves in the the third chart (Global Production of Oil).
    Please compare the Hubbert curve for (USA and Canada) against the (Former Soviet Union).

    That USA-Canada curve is very broad compared to the others. Why should this be? USA is milking every last drop out of some of its fields. I’ve seen ultimate recovery factors above 90% (of oil in place) for Kern River (1900 discovery, steam flood started 1965, in earnest 1980s, still producing today at a 90% water cut). There is a company looking to drill for pockets of untapped oil at Spindletop (discovered 1900) in the Yegua.

    The issue is, why should the Former USSR have an ultimate decline curve shape different than the USA-Canada?

    Then, compare the USA-Canada curve with this projection of USA (plus unconventional). EIA Annual Energy Outlook 2013 Tight Oil (unconventional) is forecast to be 1/3 of total production and responsible for a 2 mmbo per day increase.

    • Rasey, You do not understand the history of oil accounting in the USA. To guard against speculation the SEC in 1933-1934 put in oil reporting regulations that required only proven reserves could be tallied. Alas, proven reserves are always an under projection of actual production, and so the USA has a long history of what is called reserve growth. Unfortunately, this meant that predictions can be a bit off in the USA, since predictions were made from the original discovery estimates.

      In other places, such as Russia, no regulations exist and the original estimate is closer to the actual value. Some higher, some lower, but the average is spot on. They see minimal reserve growth there and any growth is due to new finds.

      Btw, this is related to the idea of the wisdom of th crowds. If you let people decide what the actual value is and average that, it will be pretty close to the actual result. Those places are getting shut-in when they are finished and they match the original prediction.

      The point of the USA having a lot of wells is misleading as reservoir size follows a type of Pareto law whereby e cumulative volume of all small fields is small in comparison to the big reservoirs. Thousands of extra wells don’t make a huge difference, as the Bakken will once again prove out, and especially as they do not last long.

      The other situation is one of outliers. The Kern River field in California had specific properties that made it amenable to a large reserve growth. This clearly does not happen everywhere.

      Btw, this is all discussed in my book on oil depletion where I have references to all these facts.

      • Reserve reporting has little to do with the Hubbert cumulative production curves. As for the projected curves, why should USA’s+Canada reserve definitions create a shallower tail? The USA+Canada tail is making different assumptions about secondary and tertiary recovery than is the Former USSR. The USSR curve is declining too quickly because the USSR Contingent resources are not being added to future production in the same way they were on the USA+Canada curves.

        On the flip side, there are many areas in the USA that are currently off-limits to oil exploration and development. Someday Horizontal drilling in California’s Monterey Shale could make the Bakken look like just the overture.

        In the international realm, the SEC/SPE concept of Proved reserves still applies in many countries. Banks making international loans for field development capex insist on knowing Proved Reserves or (Proved Contingent resources) that are contingent on a development sanction. Internally within at least some state oil companies, Proved, Probable, Possible are categories used for accountability. I know this first hand. It might not apply in every country, but it is common.

        Btw, this is related to the idea of the wisdom of th crowds.
        You cannot be serious! The wisdom of the crowds was that “if God had meant man to fly, he’d have given him wings.” The wisdom of the crowds was the Eagleford and Bakken were non-commercial resources. The Wisdom of the Crowds was that we hit peak oil in in the 1980’s. Then 1990’s. The wisdom of the crowds was that LNG imports were in the USA’s future. Now the USA will be an exporter.

        Madness of Crowds is far closer to the mark.

      • Rasey, Starting on page 149, I go through an explanation of the “enigma” of reserve growth. Attanasi and Root of the USGS had called reserve growth an enigma, because they didn’t understand how it came about. My analysis essentially describes how the estimates slowly converge in a hyperbolic asymptote to give an impression of reserve growth. From the analysis, one can see the Kern River formation spikes and how those are simply glitches in the conservative estimates.

        So if you actually have a deep quantitative analysis, I would like to see it. Again I have my own analysis right here:

        On page 296 I show the reserve growth for UK and Norway and it is much smaller than the USA. The next page I have a reference to a Verma paper (a USGS colleague of Attanasi and Root) who studied Russia in detail. He says that in specific regions that all the growth occurred in the first 5-7 years after discovery.

        If you have contrary evidence, I would like to see the references, otherwise you are just pushing opinion.

      • Everything I have written about and all the original analyses I have worked out on the blog has not fundamentally changed as I aggregated the information. As far as I can tell, no one else has picked up on the direction that I have taken, and nothing has come out of the research literature that comes close to unifying the set of topics as well as this does. — WHT Blog

        What were you saying about the Wisdom of Crowds?

        BTW, in the oil and gas biz, “TOC” usually stands for Total Organic Carbon content, an important constraint on ultimate resources in place. Not the initials of your blog.

      • Rasey,
        Everything is open in terms of what I write about. That blurb was essentially what I sent my editor. Book publishers always want to know what is unique about the work, so you spell it out for them. Below that blurb is a list of innovative analysis approaches that are contained within the book. You can’t be passive otherwise they will think it’s not original.

        One of the interesting aspects was that the blog was used to capture the pieces that were eventually fleshed out in the book.

        I am not sure about the wisdom of crowds beef you have, as I am currently getting paid to work on a huge crowd-sourcing effort and understand quite a bit about the statistics of enhancing knowledge in these kinds of settings. That’s another massive tome that’s out there if you are interested.

    • The issue is not production estimates from proved reserves. It is about the potential growth of reserves from the Probable, Possible categories of known accumulations, the addition to reserves from Contingent Proved, Probable, Possible resources, the addition to reserves from the identification of new geographic plays and from new technology plays and new engineering plays and from regulatory and political changes (i.e. Offshore California, to name one). None of these lead to or from “deep quantitative analysis.”

      The concept of the Hubbert curve is meaningless without simultaneously considering the parts of the McKelvey Box from which the estimates come. I argue that the Contingent Resources of the McKelvey Box matter a great deal to estimates of future production. My proof: simply that the SPE spent many of man-years debating and codifying classification and treatment of Contingent Resources in during the past decade. Why should they do this? Because the concept of Contingent Resources is becoming more important, not less important, to the future of the industry.
      [Comparison of Selected Reserves and Resource Classifications and Associated Definitions – SPE O&G Reserves Committee – Dec. 2005]
      [Guidelines for Application of the Petroleum Resources Management System – Nov 2011 – SPE, AAPG, WPC, SPEE, SEG, 225 pg, 4.4 MB PDF]

      I am not arguing that “Peak Oil” isn’t a concern. All I’m saying is that the downslope from the peak has a lot more uncertainty than WHT implies because most future production will come from what are today Possible reserves, Possible resoruces, Contingent Resources (from a variety of category) and Unidentified Plays. Thanks to regulations, we don’t know how much oil is available under ANWR and promising horizontal drilling stimulation in NPRA is suppressed by other regs. Take that geographic uncertainty and apply it to Siberia. Heck, we know the West Siberian Basin possess the largest gas accumulation on earth. What else might be there? To add to the uncertainty, take a rising price of product eventually capped by a declining cost of a solar and fuel cell energy substitute.

      So, forgive me if I express the thought that there is much uncertainty in projected Hubbert curve tails.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        I have looked at the unpublished work by webby. It consists of the repetition of a power law for any of a number of unrelated subjects.

        This for oil – DD(t)=(1-exp(-URR/(B*((t-t’)^6))))*B*((t-t’)^6), URR=240,000 million barrels, B=2E-7, t’=1835.

        The parameters are freely invented so the results are more a product of invention rather than a serious attempt to quantify oil production into the future. The curve is hugely dubious.

      • Thanks for the plugs to my work, Chief.

        Quite the helpful literary agent and publicist you are.

        That is correct that power laws are ubiquitous in mathematics . Indeed any function, y=f(x), can be represented as a Taylor series, which is nothing more than a set of powers of x.

        But then again, what does chief really know since he can’t even get a first order differential equation correct.

        As far as Stephen Rasey the oil industry insider is concerned, perhaps he can fill us in on why not one book exists on the market describing the realities of oil depletion, which is specifically written by an oil industry scientist or engineer.

        That is the huge gap in knowledge that exists, and one that people like Rud Istvan and myself are trying to correct.

        Rud, do you know of a book of that sort?

        Deffeyes doesn’t really count as he is an academic. Same with Patzek. Smil no. Yergin no. Klare no. Heinberg no. Goodstein no.

      • Chief Hydrologist


        Well – I suggested that I had looked into it. And I will never get that time back. Just think of me as 1 of your 2 fans on your loser blog. The other being ‘the professor’ whose comments I noted you have deleted. Such disloyalty to the fans.

        You are a terrible sycophant – but I occassionaly wonder when you go into these rants if these people don’t have deep misgivings about your sycophancy.

        As for mass continuity equations – I have linked to one or two. Just google hydrological equation of storage and I am sure that your missaprehensions can be set straight. Well almost sure. Well 50/50. Well – it is a long shot but give it a go anyway..

        Yours as always
        Larrikin Bob
        Chief Hydrologist

        ps – my mates call me Robbo the Yobbo – but I think that’s a bit disrespectful. Larrikin is our noblest ideal of nationhood – as you are aware. Thanks for the sobriquet.

      • ” The other being ‘the professor’ whose comments I noted you have deleted. Such disloyalty to the fans.”

        I have two blogs, the one on oil which culminated in the book ->
        I spun this one off when I finished the book, and started a new one ->
        This one is climate+assorted oil topics, but very low posting activity.

        As it turns out, everyone who commented on the old blog was given the title “Professor”. I don’t delete anything, except for spam, which seems to be disappearing over the years,

        I always figured you for a romper stomper kind of yobbo.

      • Robbo the Yobbo Ellison said

        “Just google hydrological equation of storage and I am sure that your missaprehensions can be set straight. “

        So I Googled “hydrological equation of storage” and the only hit I get pointed to a comment that you made over a year ago on this same blog.

        You must use very archaic hydrology terminology for that particular phrase not to appear anywhere.

        Are you sure you do engineering for a living?

      • WHT: the oil industry insider …. can fill us in on why not one book exists on the market describing the realities of oil depletion

        There may indeed be such a book. I don’t run the SPE book store. Daniel Yergin’s “The Quest” might qualify.

        But a book on world-production decline is a topic for an economist, not a Pet. Engineer. An engineer is far more concerned with field management and development of new fields which are far more important tasks than prognostocating the end of the world subject to dozens of unknowns.

        I told ya, when a wagon breaks down,
        I want men who can fix it…
        …not bet how long it’ll take.
        How the West Was Won” (Act II)

      • “But a book on world-production decline is a topic for an economist, not a Pet. Engineer. An engineer is far more concerned with field management and development of new fields which are far more important tasks than prognostocating the end of the world subject to dozens of unknowns.

        I told ya, when a wagon breaks down,
        I want men who can fix it…
        …not bet how long it’ll take.
        “How the West Was Won” (Act II) “

        Petroleum Engineering is the only engineering discipline in danger of extinction. Given the fact that the discipline exists solely on the occurrence of petroleum, you would think that one PetE would actually write about the field’s certain mortality. OTOH, electrical engineers will never go extinct as long as an electron exists.

        One person that I could name would be Kenneth Deffeyes who worked at Shell and only started writing books after he quit and began teaching “Rocks for Jocks” classes at Princeton. That is all recounted in John McPhee’s classic book “Basin & Range”.

        Daniel Yergin is a political operative.

        The rest is cowboy corn-pone. Without a business plan, you have nothing.

        Two famous Deffeyes quotes:
        “Crude oil is much too valuable to be burned as a fuel.”
        “The economists all think that if you show up at the cashier’s cage with enough currency, God will put more oil in ground.”
        Notice his bash on economists. This is a topic for Natural Sciences and not exclusively Economics.

      • ” Chief Hydrologist | February 14, 2013 at 12:05 am |

        Funny – I got 1.6 million hits. Including this one I have linked to before”

        Funny — How you can be such a habitual liar.

        You asked me to “Just google hydrological equation of storage”. So I googled that phrase as written, which means to put quotes around it. Anybody with Google acumen knows to do that. And the only response Google replied with was from a year ago, where we had this exact same argument in a CE comment thread.

        So you are the sole source for using the phrase hydrological equation of storage and you have done it twice. Once a year ago, and once on this thread.

        It must be obsessive Copy&Paste disorder. You have certain things in your head that you obsessively need to repeat. Whether it’s quoting Tsonis, or writing that incorrect equation that you are so fond of, you can’t seem to stop. The problem is on your end, not my mine.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        Try taking it out of quotes dingbat.

        Or try storage equation – or hydrologic storage equation in quotes.

        ‘The fundamental hydrologic principle that governs this adjustment is the equation of continuity or hydrologic storage equation for a reach of stream channel…

        Look for synonyms –

        I can use hydrological if I f-cking like – I’m the f-cking expert.

        Or just look at the f-cking links already provided instead of being a freeloader, a fraud, a liar and a fool.

      • Chief Hydrologist said:

        “I can use hydrological if I f-cking like – I’m the f-cking expert. “

        You know what will get the Yobbo even more angry? If I mention that we are analyzing oil flow rates in a Bakken thread over at
        Using all sorts of hydrology-related equations that would be way over his head. Like using diffusion-limited flow rates of oil to predict production trends of the average hydrofractured well.
        Making some progress too.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        You mean like – duh – Darcy’s Law in groundwater? Flow through a porous medium? Another ‘effective diffusion’ coefficient you pull out of your arse? You are a complete idiot.

      • Yes, Of course I mentioned Darcy’s Law two days ago on that Oil Drum thread.

        Why don’t you go over there and make some comments. I am sure the TOD folk would be blown away by your hydrology skills Chief.

        We have 3 core guys doing the analysis with lots of fact checkers and data diggers supplying the latest info.
        Seems that everyone is riding the Bakken gold rush to watch it come crashing down. Sure, people will make money, they always do. My point is invest wisely in the future because its the only future we got.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        I am sure someone mentioned Darcy’s Law quite some time ago. Perhaps it was Darcy around the 1850’s?

        It is related to a whole lot of diifusion relationships – but when you use an ‘effective difussion’ to fit a curve to diffusion of heat from the atmosphere to the oceans – I just think you are certifiably insane.

      • Pure projection on your part, Chief. Projecting your inadequacies on me.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        ‘Yet Clare’s sharp questions must I shun
        Must separate Constance from the nun
        Oh! what a tangled web we weave
        When first we practice to deceive!
        A Palmer too! No wonder why
        I felt rebuked beneath his eye.’

        Walter Scott

      • And more with the copy-and-paste.
        I should copy-and-paste the characteristics of obsessive-compulsive disorder here, as I think you would qualify.

        Chief, please read this:
        Dimensional Analysis for Dummies

      • Chief Hydrologist

        We have decided to rewrite the formula for dummies like you.

        d(W&H)/dt = Power in – Power out

        W&H is work and heat and all the ‘dimensions’ are in J/s as before – because that’s how it is derived from energy conservation. Of course J/s = W – but thinking in terms of energy in the numerator helps. The real point is thinking about the data behind the terms – and the most interesting result there is that cloud cover is the major source of changes in W&H in CERES and with ERBS and ISCCP-FD.

        The Scott poem is a literary reference to your lies and deceit – but amusing in likening you to a Palmer – and evincing mock deference. An adroit use of a cultural reference well beyond random cut and paste.

      • @Chief
        d(W&H)/dt = Power in – Power out

        to make the units work, W&H, i.e. Work+Heat need to be Joules.
        d(W&H)/dt will be in J/sec or Watts.
        I think this was an inconsequential typo because this is consistent with the context of your comment.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        Yes W&H must be in Joules – and d(W&H)/dt is in J/s or W. Cheers

  26. OK, forget shorting oil stocks, just go buy up the next Solyndra-style IPO.

    “Conventional oil is, by far, the largest component in oil production.”

    “Is?” When predicting the future, the issue is…well..not the present.

    And as for my predicting what the expected production rates will rates will be for the Green River shale deposits, that is too typical of alarmists. No one knows what the market will do, what extraction technologies will be developed, what other recoverable sources will be found. So why would I guess?

    What I do know is that alarmists who want to tell us the sky is falling always seem to ignore a lot of contradictory evidence.

    I predict that no matter what happens, in the coming years there will be folks predicting one catastrophe after another. If CAGW falls, it will be something else. As oil continues to frustratingly refuse to stop flowing, the date will just be moved back. As the world fails to implode due to population growth (if it continues), ditto – just move the date.

    Ehrlichs, Hansens and Shollengbergers, like the poor, will always be with us.

    • This was supposed to be in reply to Brandon Shollenberger above.

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      GaryM, as an author of this blog post, I’m obliged to show a certain level of decorum. As such, I am going to refrain from mocking you like I normally would. Please understand I am still doing it in my heart and mind.

      OK, forget shorting oil stocks, just go buy up the next Solyndra-style IPO.

      This is as much of a non-sequitur as your original remark. You’re responding to a criticism of your non-sequitur with a non-sequitur of posting a non-sequitur. I think I got that wording right.

      “Is?” When predicting the future, the issue is…well..not the present.

      First, your metaphor involved “discussing filing bankruptcy.” There was no mention of “in the future” so it was perfectly reasonable to respond by discussing the present. As far as your metaphor was concerned, that’s what you were discussing.

      Second, conventional oil is going to be the largest component of oil production for the foreseeable future. The worst you can criticize me for is for saying “is” instead of, “is, and will be for the foreseeable future.” Oh noes. A comment I posted from my phone wasn’t worded in a perfectly clear manner.

      And as for my predicting what the expected production rates will rates will be for the Green River shale deposits, that is too typical of alarmists. No one knows what the market will do, what extraction technologies will be developed, what other recoverable sources will be found. So why would I guess?

      Any company investing in oil production will have estimates for how much oil it will produce with a given project for each each year at least a decade out. Expected production rates for 2020 are commonly published by companies and agencies. I have no idea how anyone could believe it’s an alarmist ploy to ask for information businesses commonly promote.

      What I do know is that alarmists who want to tell us the sky is falling always seem to ignore a lot of contradictory evidence.

      Ehrlichs, Hansens and Shollengbergers, like the poor, will always be with us.

      This was great for a laugh. Pretty much every contribution I made to this post weakened the “alarmism” it contained. I’ve repeatedly stated I don’t believe there will be any catastrophic effects from peak oil, have flatly stated I’m undecided what production curves will be in the future, and I’m often considered a denier/skeptic who refuses to admit future risks (granted, that’s primary in relation to global warming). You grouping me with Hansen and Ehrlich is the epitome of funny.

      Plus, you misspelled my name in a new way. So far I have “Beandon,” “Schollenberger” and “Shollengberger”!

      • Chief Hydrologist

        I am afraid you have Rud to thank for Beandon. Have you checked for sharp objects between the shoulder blades lately? No. It might just be a typo.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        I don’t know what you’re trying to say. “Schollenberger” came from Curry, “Beandon” from Istvan and “Shollengberger” from GaryM. They were all typos. Why would we need to point that out?

        I just find it funny how often my name gets misspelled.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        You will have to try for a little less ambiguity then. How about people keep misspelling my name – what fun. Something to make your meaning clear. Probably best to practice this before pressing the post button.

      • David Springer

        Beandip Scrotumburger writes:

        “GaryM, as an author of this blog post, I’m obliged to show a certain level of decorum. As such, I am going to refrain from mocking you like I normally would. Please understand I am still doing it in my heart and mind.”

        Your magnanimity knows no bound.

      • Brandon

        On an earlier thread I also made the mistake of misspelling your name (with an “sch” rather than “sh”). This is because where I live, there are a lot of Schollenbergers, so it must be a Swiss or southern German name originally.


      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Chief Hydrologist, I had just referred to “the epitome of funny,” I used an exclamation mark, and I didn’t say anything negative in the paragraph. I don’t see what was unclear. I certainly don’t see what would make one assume I attributed all misspellings to GaryM. Sorry, but I really don’t.

        manacker, I believe my family lived in south eastern Germany about a hundred fifty years ago. They took the c out of our name to Americanize is back around the first World War. All it accomplished was causing a lot typos.

      • Brandon Shollenberger,

        Oh, don’t hold back. Decorum? This is a blog. But I must say I think it’s funny that you don’t think what you wrote was mocking in tone. (Though I have absolutely no objection to it on that basis anyway.)

        “But it sure looks like peak oil will be the spectre at the feast.”

        That is the central thesis of your argument. At least you or one of your co-authors said above it should have been the introductory paragraph as well (which stylistically is the same thing.)

        You could have written a post that said – we are facing reduction in known “conventional” oil reserves, and we don’t know how quickly or expensively we will be able to exploit the massive “unconventional” oil reserve we now know to exist, so we don’t really think there is any serious danger to the economy, and we don’t know what the price of oil will be in five years but it is likely to be higher, though we have no idea how much, but over all we don’t think peak oil is much of a problem.

        Then I would not have bothered making any comment, probably would not have even read it, and it is debatable whether it would even have been posted to this blog.

        But you didn’t, you wrote (OK co-wrote) a post that said:
        “But it sure looks like peak oil will be the spectre at the feast” with all kinds of CAGW style scary graphs. It’s almost Mannian, the way you leave out of those graphs the data that conflicts with your thesis, because it wold detract from the image of imminent “peak oil.”

        Alarmism gets you attention. Just not always the kind you want.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        GaryM, I did not say I would refrain from mocking you. I said I would refrain from mocking you in a particular way. I don’t think my normal approach to mockery is fitting for a post I (co)authored, and thus I’ll use others.

        As for unconventional oil, that’s a canard. The IEA WEOs don’t project a notable role for unconventional oil so Istvan and I did not give it a notable role in our post. I’d say that means you should take things up with the IEA, not us.

      • Brandon Shollenberger,

        First you say that you are not an alarmist, you are just critiquing the reports prepared by the IEA as too optimistic. But the whole point of the post was the IEA’s underestimation of the threat of peak oil. Hence the “spectre at the feast” canard, and your own comment that government may have to throttle the energy economy…to some extent.

        Now you criticize me for taking your attempt to exaggerate the threat of peak oil, because I am not criticizing the IEA for leaving it out. They apparently don’t teach logic in science school. (How’s that for mockery?) You criticize IEA for underplaying the risk of peak oil, while not admitting the fact that recent “unconventional oil” (does oil extracted from shale, and refined, refuse to burn in an internal combustion engine?) makes peak oil a non-starter.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        GaryM, I tried reading your comment here several times, but I can’t figure out what you’re trying to say. As such, I’ll try explaining the situation.

        The IEA published projections which show a steady increase in oil production. These projections include a relatively small amount of unconventional oil production. They also included a large amount of conventional oil production. Rud Istvan and I looked at that part of he projections and found they appear exaggerated. This apparent exaggeration may be large enough to ruin the steady increase shown in the projections.

        Nothing in that is affected by unconventional oil production. The IEA’s projections for unconventional oil were accepted for the sake of this post. The only way unconventional oil would affect this post’s conclusions is if the IEA severely underestimated it’s growth rate. If so, that is the IEA’s fault.

        Rud Istvan and I haven’t ignored unconventional oil. We’ve simply accepted the IEA’s projections for it (for the sake of argument, at least).

      • Brandon

        A minor point, which I mentioned earlier, but which others have also brought up: I realize that the chart (Fig.3.19) you and Rud showed was not your creation and you have not concluded it is correct, but it does appear to me that the “unconventional” oil is underestimated at ~10% of the total by 2035. The ExxonMobil projection puts this at close to one third of the total at around the same time. If the oil shale boom really takes off in the USA (as some predict) and heavy oil/bitumens continue growing in Canada, it would seem that 10% is too low.

        This is not a critique – just an observation.


      • Brandon Shollenberger

        manacker, I can accept that as a possibility. I’d be willing to discuss reasons to believe one projection over another. But nobody has really given me any. Most comments I recall hand-wavingly mock us for (supposedly) not looking at unconventional oil.

        It’s possible the IEA made errors that counterbalance the errors highlighted in this post. If so, people should point out what those errors are. We could have a useful discussion on that topic. But until such errors are highlighted, I don’t see anything wrong with discussing IEA’s results as we see them.

      • “manacker, I can accept that as a possibility. I’d be willing to discuss reasons to believe one projection over another. But nobody has really given me any. Most comments I recall hand-wavingly mock us for (supposedly) not looking at unconventional oil.”

        I think supply depends on price.
        Both US shale oil and Canadian sand oil are expensive to extract.
        Apparently world prices of $100 per barrel translates to $60 barrel to
        oil sands due lack of infrastructure to ship the oil:
        “Brent settled at $107.93 in Europe on Wednesday which translates to an effective price for bitumen-derived oil from Alberta’s oil sands of less than $60 a barrel.”
        I had thought if world prices were above $60 per barrel it would economical to mine oil sand, but seems that due lack of market access [lack of market] world prices need to be around $100 per barrel.
        Brent Crude Oil Spot Price: 117.03 USD/bbl for Feb 5 2013
        I usually look at crude oil here:
        Which says it’s 97.61 USD/bbl
        So at current prices they should profitable and expanding operation, if
        they ship it [even with high cost of currently shipping]. Though there would certain bottlenecks in terms of shipping without having enough pipeline infrastructure.
        But anyhow according the Canucks the US is currently getting a good deal on price of crude oil, but I don’t agree. It seems to me that even if they get more access to world markets, it tend to lower costs and lower price.
        But anyhow, I think the supply of oil depends on demand- which means price. So if predict price of crude oil in future you predict supply.
        If think crude oil in real dollars will be above $150 barrel there will a lot supply. If you think crude oil is going to drop 20 or more per barrel, there
        will less supply for oil sands and US shale.
        And Russian, and middle east oil is abundant and cheap to mine- so world price could go lower and therefore we have less available supply.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        gbaikie, you are certainly right that price affects supply. The 2010 WEO actually had three different scenarios based on this. The middle scenario basically says things will continue as they have with no dramatic shifts. That’s what Rud Istvan and I have focused on. I would have added commentary on this point to our post except the difference in scenarios primarily affects unconventional oil. Conventional oil production is largely consistent across scenarios (due to differences in cost and preexisting infrastructure).

        That’s one huge risk for people citing projections of higher rates of unconventional oil production. Without pricing curves described/laid out, it is difficult to compare projections.

        By the way, this may go without saying, but be careful when looking at prices. Thanks to inflation, prices in one year are not directly comparable to prices in another. It is easy to get wrongfooted because of that.

      • “GaryM, I tried reading your comment here several times, but I can’t figure out what you’re trying to say”

        You make no sense was the uncharitable thing you meant to say.

    • Future catastrophes and moving targets

      I once knew the CEO of a mid-sized business consultancy group that hired executives with several years’ industrial management experience rather than bright young recent graduates, as many others do.

      This guy had a chart he used frequently with potential clients, which showed how the effectiveness of an executive increased with age until around age 55, when it began to decline with added years.

      Then, when this CEO himself turned 55, I saw that the chart had been changed – the decline in effectiveness now started at age 60.

      The guy is now in his early 70s, so I’m sure the chart has been “updated” a few more times.


  27. Use it all up, whatever it is. I stockpiled mast timbers, paraffin and whalebone when they looked like peaking. Now my back yard is full of stuff I can’t give away.

    Seriously, since peak predictions leave out the most important factor, human ingenuity, they’re not predictions at all. They’re just neurotically detailed frets over a future modelled on the past – to the expense of the present.

    • So you were one of those “doomers”, eh?

      Doomers are distinct from analysts and scientists who actually go through the bean-counting exercise and estimate future reserves of fossil fuels.

      That’s all that peak oil is, a fair warning to a change of BAU, consider alternative energies and move on.

      Same as Y2K scare, the software people didn’t run away and hide. They simply buckled down and fixed the problem. It is all about risk mitigation and its subset of adaptation to reduce risk.

      • Trouble is, you get clever fellows who count wrong, estimate wrong…and, my god, don’t they come up with some ill-considered “alternatives”!

        It’s like the climate. Nobody knows, but somebody is obliged to know. It’s called Publish-or-Perish, this business of having to know even when you don’t know. The spirit of Publish-or-Perish is best symbolised by a wind turbine: medieval stagnation resulting from medieval incuriosity and medieval dogmatism. (I’m being a tad unfair to the Middle Ages.)

    • +1

  28. These predictions are well below Exxon’s. In its annual energy outlook it shows oil poduction rising to well above 110 Mbpd by 2040.

    Dont take this wrong, but Exxon may be a more credible forecaster than IEA cause they put billions at risk based on forecasts

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      Buck Smith, appeal to authority isn’t an effective technique. Is it possible Exxon is correct? Sure. Does the fact the projections come from Exxon automatically make them better? Of course not. Not only is it fallacious to argue such, it could easily be argued Exxon has reasons to intentionally overstate its projections. That would make their investments a source of bias, not a source of comfort.

      To me, the proper way to examine who is right is to examine the underlying projections. As in, what does Exxon say will be different, and why should we believe they’re right?

      • Brandon says that Exxon could “intentionally overstate its projections”. They would get into big trouble with the Securities and Exchange commission if this behavior was discovered with regard to their own assets.

        The real issue is that there is limited transparency with the numbers. A FOIA in the USA would never work. The best you can do is to pay consultants thousands of dollars for a subscription to their database.

        OTOH, with a country like the UK, all the data is freely available. And one can predict the decline of the North Sea oil to a gnat’s eyelash.

        So what you end up doing is forensics with partial data and use the models to fill in the gaps.

  29. Jest now finding time ter read this thread’s comments:
    This @11/02 .03pm:
    ‘The future belongs to the classic enlightenment liberal – as long as
    we can frame a positive narrative for the future.’

    …ie not build moats, put on amulets, and adopt a seige mentality about the future. Before I relinquish me plus one power base I’m giving a gold-plated plus one ter this comment, The comment is calling on the
    humanism and considered optimism of Pericles’ Athens, Leonardo’s Renaissance, Gallileo and Newton’s scientific revolution, Adam Smith
    et al’s Scottish enlightenment.

    There be black swans out there but let’s show some confidence in
    human imagination, adaptability, ingenuity and courage to face
    and deal with problems that we meet.

    Why am I giving up me plus one franchise? Say, it’s not the money, )
    it’s jest because power corrupts, absolute power etc. etc. Next thing
    yer might start imagining yer opinion’s sorta special, yr might get ter imagining yr an expurt when yr jest a doofus or, in the contect of the
    divine right of kings, an emperor w/out clothes, or in the case of bureaucracies like the UN, the shamen on the hill with the mystical
    talent ter interpret the reality behind the goddam flux …
    so I’m givin’ it up.

    Beth the serf.

  30. Say, mosomoso, stock piling timber fer masts seemed like a good
    idea at the time. Moreton pine timber looked suitable fer ship’s masts
    and appears to be one impetus to settlement of the Austalian main-
    land in the 1780’s. ‘I’t is tough to make predictions, especially about the future.’ H/t Yogi Berra

    • Beth, I bought lots of sailcloth during the Peak Sail panic. I was able to offload some to hippies in the 60s, saying it was “pure organic hemp”. During the 1990s there was that marine-kitsch architecture fad, but people soon got sick of the filth and the flapping noises on their verandahs. No more peaks or predictions for me!

  31. Rud and Brandon

    The problem I have with “peak oil” analyses like this one (or the many that preceded it and have all been wrong) is that they are based on three false assumptions:

    – Oil, natural gas and coal are not fully interchangeable using existing technology (they are). The analysis should be made of “peak fossil fuels”. This would show that there is no looming shortage

    – “Unconventional oil” sources are minor (Fig. 3.19 shows only ~10mb/d out of 95 mb/d “unconventional oil” production by 2035); if “conventional” sources start to become more scarce, production from “unconventional” sources will automatically increase

    – Human ingenuity is limited (it isn’t)

    Finally, there is the underlying premise that “government” will provide the “solution” to the “problem”:

    “But if governments do nothing or little more than at present, then demand will continue to increase, the economic burden of oil use will grow, vulnerability to supply disruptions will increase and the global environment will suffer serious damage. The peak in oil production will come then not as an invited guest, but as the spectre at the feast.”


    Keep the “government” planners out of the mix. The dumbest thing we could do is to have “government planners” try to throttle demand today in order to avoid possible future supply disruptions.

    Get the “government” out of the way, open up new conventional and unconventional development to meet demand (while maintaining environmental standards), permit the construction of logistical infrastructure (pipelines, etc.) to get the resources from where they are to where they are needed, and allow the free market to develop economically viable alternate technologies, with some selected financial support for basic research work where this makes sense.

    And fer crissakes, no carbon tax (which will achieve nothing positive).


    • Brandon Shollenberger

      manacker, at least two of the responses to our “false assumptions” are false. First, increases in unconventional oil production will not happen “automatically.” Moreover, the implication unconventional oils can pick up any slack is untrue. Even if that were true on some timeframe, it isn’t true at any foreseeable point.

      As for human ingenuity, it is most certainly limited. I have no idea why anyone would say it isn’t.

      As for government involvement, I suspect Rud Istvan and I would disagree with what actions governments should take, but I think some will become necessary. I don’t think throttling demand is the only course of action as you portray though.

      • Brandon

        We agree that top-down government edicts to “throttle demand” are not a good course.

        Whether “unconventional” oil resources will be exploited more or less rapidly will depend entirely on the oil price. And it obviously cannot happen overnight as time-consuming permit procedures and major investments are involved. What looks good at $150/bbl may not do so at $80/bbl. But the (economically recoverable) resources are out there, and as long as they are “economically recoverable” and there is a demand, they will be extracted.

        The oil price is set today by a price-fixing cartel of national oil concerns that control most of the production. It is not based on recovery cost. But spending commitments and plain old greed will most likely keep the price high, which will accelerate the development of “unconventional” sources.

        Human ingenuity will not enable the impossible (a perpetual motion machine or the creation of matter from nothing, for example) but it is unbounded, especially when one begins to look at longer time frames. The things we take for granted today were unheard of and largely unimaginable 100 years ago.

        I may be an optimist, but (at the same time) I see the biggest problem in too much government involvement where it is not needed.


      • Brandon Shollenberger

        manacker, it is a bad sign when you start a comment by saying we agree about something I don’t agree with. I am largely undecided on how government’s should react to oil supply issues. I don’t know if I believe throttling demand to some extent would be a bad idea.

        What I know is it isn’t the only option, and it would take a great deal to convince me it is a good option. But I won’t rule out the possibility it is one.

  32. Attempts to make predictions 20-30 years forward, or more, are silly. Predictions can be made only based on our current knowledge and current technology. In 20-30 years time there will be other technologies. We can’t predict what they will be.
    Concerning oil, coal, gas – I understand that there is practically an unlimited quantity of these things underground. The question is only how deep, and do we posses the technology to extract them at an economic price.

    Technology changes and improves over time in ways we cannot predict now.
    All peak oil prophecies have failed so far, because new technologies rendered them obsolete. The same goes for all Malthusian prophecies.

    There won’t be peak oil in the next up to 20 years.
    Predicting beyond that is silly.

  33. Jacob

    I fully agree with you that it is silly to try to “make predictions 20-30 years forward”.

    We all know about the predictions made in the mid 19thC that London, New York (and even Manchester) would be covered by two meters of horse manure by the mid 20thC, as a result of the rapidly growing number of horse carriages.

    To use these “predictions” as a ruse for getting “government” planners involved in controlling and regulating resources today to avoid possible disastrous shortages 50 years in the future is not only silly, it is an attempted bureaucratic power grab that must be stopped in its tracks IMO.


  34. “- Oil, natural gas and coal are not fully interchangeable using existing technology (they are). The analysis should be made of “peak fossil fuels”. This would show that there is no looming shortage”

    This is an important statement which the market will not realize until some billions or trillions more are invested in Coal to Liquids, LNG and GTL. There is no energy shortage. There is a shortage of liquid fuels for transportation.

    • Buck Smith

      SASOL has been making liquid motor fuels (plus petrochemical feedstocks) from South Africa’s own coal resources for decades.

      Natural gas is used as a motor fuel (primarily for trucks and buses) in many locations, which have local natural gas.

      No “rocket science” or major investment is required to make oil, coal and gas fully interchangeable for motor fuels.


    • Buck, you write “. There is a shortage of liquid fuels for transportation.”

      I agree. This is why I am at a loss to know why there seems to be a complete lack of interest in the new Poet/DSM cellulose ethanol plant now being built in, I believe, Idaho. No seems to be the least bit intersted.

  35. Tomas Milanovic

    What most people don’t realize is that the time constant in the energy world is VERY large.
    Peak oil is just a point on a curve (and an ill defined one at that) where a maximum of something what is counted as “oil” is reached.
    But in reality when it happens we will need many years to realize that it really happened.
    Liquid fuel consumption typically fluctuates at O(1%) from one year to the other. It can go as well up as down.
    The overall supply system has a large flexibility that can deal with such fluctuations.
    There won’t even be a noticeable price signal because the plateau at “peak oil” will last many years and will still be dominated by the short term fluctuations and inventories levels which set the price.

    What will happen will be a rather slow process where more CTL (Coal to Liquids) projects will be studied. China has them ready and other coal producing countries will follow.
    These projects won’t materialize untill the oil price doesn’t cross a level where a good enough profitability is achieved (it’s somewhere around 150 $/bbl depending on coal quality and infrastructure).

    Then, again slowly, over decades the CTL (some GTL too) plants will be comissioned and will produce more and more liquid fuels.
    The only significant difference between now and then (anywhere around 2040-50) that somebody will notice is that fuels will be probably more expensive but there will always be enough of it.
    I won’t mention biofuels and non conventional hydrocarbons but they will accompany the movement too.

    Finally a “peak oil” will have occured and historians will probably argue in what year it happened but beside them nobody else will reallly notice.

    • Not with a peak, with a wind down.

    • Good, Milanovic. This seems the most likely path.

    • Tomas Milanovic asserts:

      “What most people don’t realize is that the time constant in the energy world is VERY large.”

      Tomas has evidently never looked at the data. Oil production is very sensitive to shocks to the system. Look at how much oil production fluctuated in the 1970’s, and in retrospect these have been proven out as due to real shortages in the USA as we passed through regional peak oil.

      “But in reality when it happens we will need many years to realize that it really happened.”

      Yes, worldwide peak oil discoveries occurred around 1961 as I recall. That was over 50 years ago! And we obviously know that really happened, and Hubbert figured it out before it happened in 1956.

      I always have trouble understanding your point. Your bringing up time constants as if these are on some sort of geological or glacial scale is very odd.

      • WHT,

        Some time constants related to energy systems are very large. Unfortunately that is more true for the time it’s likely to take to develop new solutions at the rate required by the changes in need for energy. By need I mean the amount and the price level that would be required to avoid severe detrimental outcome from difficulties in meeting that need.

        I didn’t use “demand” as that’s affected by the price as well, and as the price will settle at the level required for balance between supply and demand. If the required price is excessively high, then the needs will not be fully satisfied.

      • Pekka,
        The time constants associated with the oil production lifecycle are described best by the oil shock model. One can define average times for the fallow stage, the construction stage, the maturation stage, and then an extraction rate.

        Each one of these stages is on the order of several years and explains the time constant lag between the peak in oil discoveries made in 1960 and the peak that we are going through now.

        The math is essentially a multiple convolution of uncertain priors, one convolution per stage, which gives rise to the latency between the discovery profile and the production profile.

        The fast time constant that gives rise to shocks is that big suppliers can turn down their extraction flows very quickly,which can wreak havoc on the global economy.

        Something like 10 of the last 11 recessions are associated with oil supply changes. Those are the fast time constants that I refer to

      • WHT,

        Looking on what happens for oil production, we must remember that the statistics is about the balance of supply and demand. During periods of no shortages, we are seeing, how demand develops. Only in exceptional cases do we get directly information about supply, and even then, it doesn’t tell about the potential for supply, but rather on supply available on short notice.

        Price is the best single indicator of the balance between supply and demand. Periods of high price mean that there’s some shortage on short term. Persisting high prices tell similarly about longer term availability.

        Unfortunately the oil markets are not always efficient, the actions of OPEC have caused distortions in it, and speculating commodity investors have probably added to the variability over periods of months or perhaps up to one or two years.

        Analysis of the resource basis is a good approach, but it has also some deficiencies allowing people of different background reach and defend pretty different conclusions.

      • I agree that it is dependent on the audience. For the cornucopians, use the resource basis of the model as a bludgeon with which to beat them over the head with. For more sophisticated users, the model works as a means to do perturbation analysis, such as to explain how a plateau in production can come about.

        Only a few economists deal with resource constraints, as the old resource substitution ploy is always invoked by the majority. Harold Hotelling was the first to really explore and lay the foundation for nonrenewable resource economics.

    • David L. Hagen

      The industry appears very responsive to price in terms of effort (not production). Look at the dynamics of industry shifting from most rigs drilling for gas in 2008 to most rigs drilling for oil in 2012 etc.
      See: Oil Watch: Drill Baby Drill

  36. Rud and Brandon

    OK. Up-thread Jacob opined that making predictions beyond 20-30 years is “silly” (and I agreed).

    But let’s have a go at it, anyway.

    WEC2010 (which was cited) estimates that in 2008 we had over 5 billion bbl “inferred recoverable oil resources” (incl. shale and heavy oils).

    In addition, the study estimates that there are 2,500 Gt of “inferred recoverable coal resources” and 500 trillion cubic meters of “inferred recoverable natural gas resources” (excluding any from methane hydrates).

    If these estimates are correct, they represent a total of 85% of ALL the fossil fuel resources that were EVER on our planet (i.e. we have “used up” 15% of the total to date).

    Assuming these are fully interchangeable and at present consumption rates the remaining resource would last us well over 200 years.

    But won’t consumption rates increase?

    Population growth rates have already started to slow down from the rapid exponential rate of the past (1.7% per year), and they are expected to slow down even more sharply over this century (0.4% per year), from today’s 7 billion to around 10.5 billion by 2100.

    If we convert a large portion of future electrical power generation from coal to nuclear (economically equivalent today in most locations), we can hold per capita fossil fuel consumption to no more that 30% higher than today by 2100 (pc consumption grew by 20% from 1970 to today).

    So it is reasonable to project (without even getting into emerging new technologies) that the “inferred recoverable fossil fuel resources” will last us at least 150 years until they are theoretically “all gone”.

    So should we worry?

    [150 years ago the USA was just getting into the Civil War, there were no automobiles, no electrical power supply systems, no airplanes, telephones, radios, TVs or computers – could someone then have foreseen today’s world?]

    Now to CO2 emissions.

    How much atmospheric CO2 would it generate if ALL the remaining fossil fuels were used up completely (something that will most likely NEVER occur)?

    The first 15% got us from an estimated 280 ppmv CO2 (pre-industrial) to a measured 385 ppmv in 2008.

    So the remaining 85% could theoretically get us to:

    385 + 0.85*(385-280) / 0.15 = 980 ppmv CO2

    when they are all completely gone.

    That’s it folks. Ain’t no’ mo’

    So let’s stop worrying and get on with living.


    • Brandon Shollenberger

      manacker, I’m not sure why you addressed this to Rud istvan and myself. I’m not aware of either of us talking about emission projections, and we certainly didn’t do so on this page. Even if your calculations are correct, I don’t see how they’re relevant.

      • Brandon

        I realize that neither you nor Rud have written about CO2 emissions and levels.

        And the three of us probably agree that these are not likely to become problematic, even at the remaining fossil fuel resources as optimistically estimated by WEC2010.

        The rest of my post to you was a specific response to your earlier post to me, citing the estimates of remaining fossil fuels per WEC2010.

        Inasmuch as you have not addressed this part of my post, can I take it that you basically agree with the WEC2010 estimate of inferred remaining recoverable fossil fuel resources?


      • Brandon Shollenberger

        manacker, assuming you mean WEO, not WEC, I’m willing to accept your word on the figures. I didn’t look much into that aspect of the report. I can’t say I have much interest in it.

      • Brandon

        The report I cited is the “2010 Survey of Energy Resources” put out by the World Energy Council (WEC2010)


      • Brandon,

        manacker, I’m not sure why you addressed this to Rud istvan and myself. I’m not aware of either of us talking about emission projections, and we certainly didn’t do so on this page. Even if your calculations are correct, I don’t see how they’re relevant.

        What is the relevance of your post :IEA facts and fictions” if it has no relevance to climate change and GHG emissions? Is it a thread that is off topic for Climate Etc.?

        I am seeking clarification so please don’t take offence if my question is poorly phrased.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Oh, sorry. I thought you had said our post cited it so I assumed you had just mixed up your acronym. I probably just misread something. There are a lot of comments to keep up with!

        Anyway, I looked at the values given in that report, and they seem fine to me.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Peter Lang, you’d have to ask our host just what she considers the scope of her blog for me to know what is off-topic as a blog post. However, peak oil and climate change are related in a number of ways.

        In this case, I had no problem with manacker posting his comment. I just don’t see why he’d address it to Istvan and myself rather than the blog in general.

  37. Web

    I know that you are a proponent of “peak oil” predictions, and you have cited loads of statistics here and elsewhere to support them.

    The premise in all these scenarios is that demand will continue to increase exponentially while supply will peak, leading to a supply/demand imbalance and a “crunch”

    How valid is this premise?

    When did this happen in the past and what were the consequences?


    • Max, You are very confused on what my role is and I am not any kind of doomer. I am here to document the atrocities of bad math and science.

      There is a very apparent gap between those who prefer to use heuristics and the wide open field of stochastic modeling. Once you start to look at the statistics in that light, the horrors are exposed.

      As far as previous instances of crunches, one only needs to look at human-driven extinction events. Take the decline of the passenger pigeon population in the 1800’s. No one cared in that case because one bird species could replace another bird species. If we were all transported back in time, I would be the guy monitoring their plight and watching with disgust as they were dynamited out of existence so people could buy cheap pet food.

      Whales nearly suffered the same plight but were rescued by the discovery of crude. Incidentally, there is a story in the news about an Icelandic whaler who runs his ship on 20% whale oil as fuel. Talk about irony and the fact that you can’t make this stuff up fast enough to keep up with actual events.

      For oil, of course a crunch will happen, as there is no cheap substitute for liquid transportation fuel. That is pretty obvious and you don’t need to ask me. Like I said, documenting the atrocities is my deal. If you want to correct me on my math, that is fine to.

  38. Scott Basinger

    The report of oil’s demise has been exaggerated.

  39. The quantifty of oil from shale still unknown. To (over?)simplify, in the full history of the oil industry, oil has been produced from limestone and sandstone; now another sedimentary rock has entered the picture. Shale contains a lot of oil (and natural gas), but a tiny percentage of it is recoverable, with today’s techniques.

    • Correction, by historical standards it was found in very porous material which happened to be conveniently located under massive geological features such as salt domes. When the reservoirs were tapped the huge amount of pressure released allowed for rather efficient collection, with little energy invested. The liquid allowed it to flow through pipelines, another energy efficiency.

      Whatever accumulates in oil shales is highly dispersed kerogen, impregnated into material that needs to be cracked under high heat, etc. That is the transition we are talking about, and you marginalize it by suggesting it is just a different sedimentary rock.

      Well peat moss is just a form of coal then, and we would burn this planet up if we processed all the oil shale with a barely 1:1 efficiency return. Tiny marginal returns work for things like huge supermarket chains, but they aren’t so good for the environment.

      • When the reservoirs were tapped the huge amount of pressure released allowed for rather efficient collection,

        Early on, it was highly inefficient recovery due to lack of pressure maintenance. Many a great reservoir were ruined by dropping pressure below the bubble point.

  40. Realistic Joker

    Ahhh no worries. We’ll just put up a few more windmills, roll out some solar panels, add a few scoops of Hopey Changey and we can all drive home in our shiny new Volt and pray at the nearest Gaia shrine.

    The Gods love us and are on our side.

    Thus endeth the sermon.

    • The irony of ironies will occur when massive solar collectors are installed to heat and crack the oil shale in the Green River formation.

      It is already happening on a smaller scale.

      • Web

        If using local solar collectors to heat and crack oil shale makes economic sense, you can probably bet that it will be done.


      • WHT are you totally innumerate when it comes to working with $.

      • manacker – A small nuclear reactor would be a great energy source for the oil field. I wonder of molten salt would be beneficial …

      • David Springer

        David Hagen I believe is employed developing solar heat for tar sands.

      • David Springer

        Molten salt plays hell on the reactor. If you’re from anywhere where they salt roads in winter you probably know how it corrodes metal in vehicles. That’s salt at freezing temperature. Multiply the corrosiveness about a thousand times when the salt is hot enough to melt zinc. This makes molten salt reactors too expensive to operate. Stainless steel becomes brittle from high neutron flux so plumbing and pumps with stainless to resist corrosion get brittle and break along microscopic faults. Shutting down the reactor to inspect the stuff is hideously expensive. Other materials that resist corrosion like stainless steel don’t have the strength needed. So don’t hold your breath waiting for commercial molten salt reactors because a breakthrough in materials science is needed. Engineering jobs are ones where you know it’s doable and approximately how long it will take and how much it will cost. Jobs that require scientific breakthroughs can’t be scheduled or costed because you’ve no idea how long (if ever) it will take or how much it will cost. Private money shies away from that kind of uncertainty. Governments usually have to step in for risks like that. Fusion power suffers similar problems only worse. Wind power and biofuels are known quantities at reasonble price points and hold the promise, at least for biofuels, of rapid improvements because we know the chemistry we want, nature already has biological machinery that does what we need, we just have to wrap it together in organisms optimized for a single task that nature needed to optimize or combine in the past. Bacterial that sweat ethanol and diesel for instance get little survival value from it but these are rather byproducts of more important suvival functions. We just have to optimize the byproduct production then protect the modified organisms from wild competitors and viola – cheap transportation fuel made in one step from saltwater, CO2, and sunlight. This is the future. Barring almost inconceivable material science breakthroughs in fission/fusion reactors nothing else comes even close.

      • David L. Hagen


        Yes solar could be used to heat oil sands. No I was not actively working on that. The challenge is to first to overcome the extreme pessimism of solar in the northlands, and secondly to get the economics to work.

        Solar is being used to heat heavy oil to reduce viscosity in California. e.g.,

        GlassPoint’s boss, Rod MacGregor, thinks that taking capital costs and the lifetime of the plant into account his firm can produce steam at $3.78 per million British thermal units (btu), which is $3.58 a gigajoule. Steam from gas comes in at $5.79 per million btu.

        Mirrors in glasshouses……can be used to heat stones

        Solar energy (insolation) in northern Alberta is only a third to a quarter that in SW US.
        One enthusiastic professor estimates:

        1 m2 sunshine in southern Ontario per year = 1 m3 tar sand energy or 0.9 barrels of crude oil energy equivalent.

        I was hoping for a more promising desert latitude to start with!
        e.g. in the 30-35 deg latitude region in a desert.
        Did you want to put in sufficient $ to make solar work?

  41. Chiefio has a very nice write-up on converting Coal to Gas here

    • A C Osborn

      Interesting write-up on coal to liquid fuels.

      Here’s a blurb on a future gas to liquid fuel plant using SASOL technology.

      It says that at the current low natural gas price of $3.60 per thousand cubic feet, it would take a Diesel price of $4 per gallon at the pump to be profitable.

      It would seem to me that simply using natural gas as the fuel directly (rather than first converting it to Diesel) might be more economical.

      But I suspect the SASOL guys know something I don’t know or they wouldn’t be making this investment.


      • Max, you write “It would seem to me that simply using natural gas as the fuel directly (rather than first converting it to Diesel) might be more economical.”

        You forget volume. It makes sense to put large natural gas containers on big rigs, but they take up a lot of room on passenger cars.

      • Jim Cripwell

        Got it.

        Makes sense.


      • Farmers have used tractors powered by propane for decades. Many buses and garbage trucks run on compressed natural gas.

        A semi, a long-hual tractor and trailer, would require liquified natural gas. It’s being done now, but the rigs are very expensive.

  42. “Over the Outlook period, the growth in so-called
    “unconventional” supplies due to technology advancements
    is critical. ExxonMobil projects total liquids demand to rise to
    113 million barrels per day of oil equivalent (MBDOE) in 2040,
    a 30 percent increase from 2010. About 70 percent of this
    increase is tied to the transportation sector.
    Conventional crude production from both OPEC and Non OPEC
    sources will see a slight decline over time. However, this
    decline is more than offset by rising production of crude oil
    from deepwater, oil sands and tight oil resources.
    The successes of deepwater and oil sands developments
    are examples of how new technologies are key to delivering
    additional sources of liquid supplies to meet rising demand.
    Ten years ago, these supplies were barely on the radar screen.”

    “The same is true for tight oil, which is growing as a result of
    recent advances in technology that have enabled the energy
    industry to unlock the oil found in “tight” rock formations. The
    advances are very similar to the ones that have enabled the
    growth in “unconventional” production of natural gas, which is
    also producing a rise in natural gas liquids (NGLs).
    While the composition of the world’s liquid fuels is changing,
    one fact does not: the world continues to hold significant oil
    resources. Even by 2040, ExxonMobil estimates that less
    than half of the world’s recoverable crude and condensate will
    have been produced. Even with production, the resource base
    continues to grow due to the ability of the industry to find and
    develop new types of resources through improved science and
    technical innovations.”

    • Jim2,

      Yes. And it has always been so. In about 1963 we had 11 years of oil left!

      In about 1958, Australia did not have sufficient iron ore for its own needs.

      About decade ago the world had half as much uranium as it has now.

      Go figure!

  43. Max @ 10.38pm,
    Closed room syndrome?

    • Beth


      Old Charlie Chaplin was great, wasn’t he?

      The psychotic dictator he portrays is almost benign compared to the real article as it turned out.

      The saddest thing of all is that he got voted in by a generally well-educated German people under a representative democracy.

      It should be a lesson for us all.

      How ’bout another poem?

      (Need some inspiration.)


  44. The liquids mix forecasted by Exxon Mobil in 2040 (roughly from chart in previous pdf) in millions of oil-equivalent barrels per day:

    Conventional Crude and Condensate: 63
    Deep water: 13
    Tight oil: 5
    Oil sands: 8
    Nat gas liquids: 14
    Other liquids and biofuels: 8

  45. Max, I try…oh how try, now who said that, some comedy show?

  46. Re working from behind closed doors or stock pile mentality
    scenarios, who to inspire us? Who else but Robert Frost.
    Herewith Max and denizens of humanist, optimist open society:

  47. Note how signficant deep water is to Exxon’ total. Ths is a place Exxon and the other majors have big advantages over national oil companies, except maybe PetroBras, but not PetroMex nor the Mid-Eastern Oil Companies.

  48. As I understand the lead post and many comments to it, AGW is no longer posited to be the REAL potential future threat humanity faces.

    Good. One “imaginary hobgoblin” (Mencken) down.

    The potential threat is posited instead to be “peak oil”

    This posited threat has come and gone a few times already.

    It appears to me that this is not a real potential threat for several reasons:

    – oil, coal and natural gas are fully interchangeable with today’s technology: liquid fuels can be generated from coal (SASOL) or natural gas (or natural gas can be used directly, especially for larger vehicles) – so the REAL issue is “peak fossil fuels”.

    – the biggest part of the future fossil fuel load (electrical power generation from coal or natural gas) can be covered by nuclear fission (competitive in most locations today), which can be made more attractive with fast breeder technology using thorium (which already exists today) – and there is no “peak uranium” or “peak thorium” in sight.

    – human ingenuity and the profit motive are continuously coming up with new solutions to the projected future problems before they even occur (one current example: horizontal drilling combined with fracking; a possible future example is nuclear fusion or bio-fuels generated from algae)

    Over the past century or so, fossil fuels have been the principal source of reliable, low cost energy, thereby enabling humanity to pull itself out of the poverty and misery of the past and increase our quality of life and overall life expectancy. This has been a remarkable transition for most of the world.

    We now have no reason to panic about “peak oil”, since (if WEC estimates on remaining fossil fuels are correct) we have hundreds of years to get ready for a world where fossil fuels are no longer the principal source of reliable, low-cost energy, as they have been since the Industrial Revolution.

    That’s my take on the ongoing debate here.

    Correct me if I’ve got it wrong.


    • Max,
      This is the problem: Consider oil shale, not shale oil, but oil shale as in the Green River formation of Utah/Wyoming.

      If, as the USGS reports, that there are countless trillions of barrels of equivalent crude available to be extracted, then that is carbon that can go in the atmosphere. And if it provides extractable and equivalent oil, it can be extracted via its own energy, or in other words bootstrapped. But if it is indeed bootstrapped, the stuff may be so energy intensive to extract that most of the energy will be used in the extraction process itself. This will be energy that is essentially “wasted”, but will contribute carbon to the environment.

      So to maintain and increase the level of energy usage, will require a huge additional overhead in carbon emitted, And that will happen in a short time span. This is additional acceleration in carbon emissions in comparison to going the easily-extracted crude route. That is the fear. I suppose you do understand this, because this is ChemE 101, right?

      And if the oil shale remains in the ground, because it needs water or some other resource to process, we have to deal with the decline of fossil fuel reserves. And so we still have to risk mitigate and adapt.

      Invoke a No Regrets policy, eliminate dependence on fossil fuels.

    • pardon the weird characters in the name header, I am not applying for the Pope position and do not know Latin.

    • I think some of the peak oil posters here desire to leverage peak oil as a reason to move to solar and wind. This probably with lots of government money. Nuclear would suffice, but you don’t hear them say that.

      • Process oil shale with energy from nukes is an idea that has been pitched.
        1. This is really just transforming energy with marginal gain.
        2. Nukes need water to cool or more correctly to sink heat away.
        3. Little water in the arid west.
        4. Risk is to great to use nukes for marginal gain

      • In this case, I meant using nuclear for electricity and heat. That would save some fossil fuels for other uses.

      • Note also that many small nuke designs don’t use water.

      • Many businesses can profit on small margins. Large supermarkets make money by expending lots of cash and then skimming from sales. This is often a small percentage, nothing new in that.

        The same thing occurs with energy investments. With an EROEI of just over unity, the return is still positive.

        However, when you think about the process of bootstrapping from your own supply, the concept of marginal returns is stood on its head. Why would a producer worry about processing lots of free energy when all that is important is the last bit he can sell on the market? It’s not like a supermarket where you have to pay your suppliers and make profit on the markup. You are your own supplier with oil shale.

        And that is what makes it so scary. The potential multiplier effect is theoretically a huge number. Who isn’t to say that someone invents a process that burns 1000 tons of oil shale to create 1 barrel of oil? If this is all done automatically by some contraption, that would make it profitable. Of course the solid waste is a problem, but the gaseous waste of CO2 is as well.

        It is mind boggling to think how all this will pan out.

      • So, if a lot of heat is needed to extract liquid fuel from tight rock, use a small nuke that does not need water cooling. You could have a molten salt loop to heat the rock. Or some other sheme. Nuclear doesn’t emit a significant amount of CO2, so there you have it.

      • Or just use the nukes to make hydrogen fuel, skipping the shale step.

        Why release all that carbon which has been buried for hundreds of thousands of years if you can just as easily transition to radioactive and highly explosive materials?

      • Well, hydrogen isn’t a liquid at STP for starters.

  49. Chief Hydrologist

    Shale oil moves to commercialisation in Central Queensland,

  50. The numbers cited here do not seem consistent with, for example

    That paper projects 110 mbd worldwide by 2020, far below the sources you cite.

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      TGBrown, that paper was the subject of a blog post here about two weeks ago. Rud Istvan criticized the paper quite harshly. I disagreed with several of his remarks, and that led to the two us exchanging e-mails, eventually resulting in us coauthoring this post.

      While I was critical of several things Istvan said about that paper, after examining the paper in detail, I think it is as bad as he portrayed. It has a number of errors so bad (such as it’s assumption of decline rates for Bakken oil rigs) it is difficult to imagine how they were made. And that’s just a hint of its problems.

      If you want to discuss specific parts of the paper, I’d be happy to. Otherwise, I suggest just using Google to see what people have said about the paper. It’s easy to verify a number of problems with the paper.

  51. Brandon Shollenberger

    Let’s see if we can move the discussion forward. A number of people have criticized this post as too alarmist because it doesn’t account for large increases in unconventional oil production. Such an increase contradicts the WEO reports we examined, but that obviously doesn’t make it impossible. As such, let me ask everyone three questions:

    1) Do you agree, as this post claims, the IEA has projected unrealistically high conventional oil production rates?

    2) Do you believe the IEA has projected unrealistically low unconventional oil production rates?

    3) What do you believe would be a reasonable projection of unconventional oil production rates?

  52. As an outsider/observer, I can only go with the data I see published (for current trends) in production. Like other readers (and observers of technological progress), I am skeptical that there is a clear distinction between ‘conventional’ and ‘unconventional’ oil. The trends in total oil production seem to me to be more important and significant. What I observe is an abrupt slope change in US production at the end of the last decade. It is clearly a ‘phase transition’, not part of some long term trend, so any projections prior to that slope change are not going to be reliable. Now, one can ask whether the US is at the leading edge or the trailing edge of technology that would lead to such a phase transition. If the US is at the leading edge, one would expect a similar slope change to propagate throughout the world, resulting in oil production in areas that are not yet even counted in the older projections.

    So, to give a (perhaps unsatisfactory) answer to your questions: I think the IEA projections for total oil capacity are, if anything, on the low side. (Production vs. capacity depends, of course, on economic demand.)

  53. To All,
    PricewaterhouseCoopers has just released a report “Shale oil: the next energy revolution,” available here – . The entire report is worth downloading and reading, but the core conclusions about production, price and impact on GDP are strong. If accurate, they have huge implications (and generate enormous uncertainty) for economic, foreign policy and climate change trends. Note that the report addresses “shale oil” (AKA tight oil), and does not take into account any production, price or follow-on consequences from “shale gas.” Core conclusions in the PwC Report are as follows:
    Extrapolating from the available data (and drawing parallels with US shale gas experience) has enabled us to generate a number of scenarios which see shale oil production ramping up both in the US and around the globe. As shown in Chart 3,
    this analysis suggests that global shale oil production has the potential to rise to up to 14 million barrels of oil per day by 2035 in our main scenario, amounting to 12% of total oil supply at that date (using EIA projections for production other than shale oil).


    In both these scenarios, our model suggests a global real oil price that is significantly lower than the EIA reference case projections of around $133 per barrel in 2035 – by around 25% in our reference case, and by around 40% in our low case
    (see Chart 5). This corresponds to a real oil price fall of around $33-50 per barrel by 2035 compared to the EIA baseline projection.


    Different countries are likely to strike a different balance [among decarbonization, environmental concerns, energy security and energy development] here and this is reflected, for example, in our assumption that shale oil production develops more slowly in the EU than in the US and some other territories.


    We have used the National Institute Global Econometric Model (NiGEM) to help us understand the likely scale of these impacts. We have explored the consequences of a lower oil price across the global economy and for selected major national economies covered by the model (in particular the US, Japan, Germany, the UK and the BRICs – Brazil, Russia, India and China).


    We have used NiGEM to model the impact of the two different scenarios considered above – namely a decrease of either $33 or $50 in real global oil prices, phased in over two decades (the maximum time horizon of the model11). The model indicates that the level of global GDP could be between 2.3% and 3.7% higher at the end of the projection period (see Chart 6). At today’s GDP values, this is equivalent to an increase in the size of the global economy of around $1.7-2.7 trillion per annum. This could imply a rise by 2035 in average global GDP per person of between $230 and $370 per
    annum (at today’s prices) relative to the EIA baseline case with minimal shale oil production.


    Clear ‘winners’ emerge when considering the impact at a national level. India and Japan, for example, could under these scenarios see an increase in GDP of between 4% and 7% by the end of the projection period (see Chart 7). Other net oil importers such as the US, China, Germany and the UK could also see GDP gains of the order of 2-5% of GDP in the long term due to lower global oil prices relative to a baseline with minimal shale oil.


    I hope this is useful.


  54. ” This optimistic projection is about as factually sound as IPCC AR4’s climate sensitivity estimates. It contains more glaring inconsistencies than AR4 WG3 section 9.6 on ECS.”

    Ah yes, the sainted drive by, about as meaningful as Judith Curry’s Italian flags argument

  55. In addition to Rud’s book, a recent book by David Goodstein called “Climate Change and the Energy Problem” has slipped under the radar. Goodstein is a professor of physics at CalTech and a disciple of Richard Feynman, the AGW skeptics’ favorite quote-machine.

    This is the follow-on to Goodstein’s earlier book “Out of Gas” that ties together the hydrocarbon depletion challenge with the climate change problem. In interviews, Goodstein agrees that climate denialism at its root is a desire not to face the energy problem. He says that the people seriously working on peak oil are not at the margins but are at the forefront of change.

    Goodstein has serious credentials, and is one of the top thermodynamics and condensed matter physicists in the world. He treats the AGW problem as obvious:

    “Fortunately for us, that is not all there is to it. If the average surface temperature of the Earth were 0°F. we probably would not have been here. The Earth has a gaseous atmosphere, largely transparent to sunlight, but nearly opaque to the planet’s infrared radiation. The blanket of atmosphere traps and reradiates part of the heat that the Earth is trying to radiate away. The books remain balanced, with the atmosphere radiating into space the sonic amount of energy the Earth receives, but also radiating heat back to the Earth’s surface, warming it to a comfortable average temperature of 57°F. That is what is known as the greenhouse effect. Without the greenhouse effect and the global warming that results, we probably would not be alive. “

    And he is also formidable when it comes to dealing with crackpots. His true skeptical credentials are revealed in his book “On Fact and Fraud: Cautionary Tales from the Front Lines of Science”. This is a fascinating read as it deals with the Pons/Fleischmann cold fusion debacle as well as the Schon affair which I was well versed in.

    My cautionary take to all the climate skeptics that frequent Climate Etc : Do not take Feynman’s name in vain. Read Goodstein’s book “Feynman’s Lost Lecture” and you will realize that Goodstein is the real thing.

  56. Tomas Milanovic

    But I suspect the SASOL guys know something I don’t know or they wouldn’t be making this investment.

    Yes they do.
    And I have it here as first hand knowledge because I spent quite some time at Sasolburg working with the engineers at their plant.
    Probably the most important thing they know and this has been the engine of their business for decades, is the price alternatives.
    In the CTL business the process science is not so important – Fischer Tropsch synthesis has been known, well since Fischer Tropsch and that was a century ago.
    Of course Sasol refined the process and has much classified knowledge in catalysts but this is nothing that couldn’t be done by somebody else.

    However what nobody else can do (with the exception of the Chinese who are trying) is to master operating and investments costs.
    Having a competitive CTL Diesel depends in first rank on the ability to obtain a high production reliabilty with no uncertainty about the operating and investment costs.
    Coal or gas price and availability is not an issue. Everybody knows it and the projections are not so hard either.
    But if you want to design and build a new plant with, say 200 kbbl/day production, then you will be able to easily f…k up the operating and investment costs by a factor of 2 if you have not decades long experience and know how.

    They know that they are able to sustainably produce liquid fuels at a price X with little incertitude on X.
    They also know that the very long time constant in the energy business (e.g the time between the decision to study a project and a full producing plant is around 10 years. For nuclear more) is an issue because you don’t want to invest too early or too late.
    The amount of production is not an issue and that’s why these people who actually produce never listen to people like Webhub who never produced anything and are obsessed with irrelevant topics like “peak oil”.
    Btw they don’t listen to EIA either and rather laugh at them because the EIA’s inability to correctly predict anything became a legend.

    What stays is that this irrelevant moment on some curve that some irrelevant people would call “peak oil” will pass unnoticed for the simple reason that what matters, e.g liquid fuels, will stay available for a VERY long time.
    Of course nobody cares whether they will be made out of coal , gas, oil, microalgae or whatever.

    • “Tomas Milanovic” said:

      “The amount of production is not an issue and that’s why these people who actually produce never listen to people like Webhub who never produced anything and are obsessed with irrelevant topics like “peak oil”.”

      Well, you are the biggest poseur that I have yet to see on these internets. All the “skeptics” here hang on your every word as if you have some sort of tremendous insight, yet were somebody to Google Scholar the name “Tomas Milanovich”, it turns up empty.

      So maybe its not your real name, but why you didn’t pick up the typical nonsense handle instead of continuing this charade as a mysterious eastern European is beyond me. It doesn’t surprise me that your legion of gullible followers fall for this, as they are not the sharpest crayons in the box.

      And we should probably remind “Tomas Milanovich” that one of the first products to come out of the can is a business plan. Because without analysis and projections, you might as well be shooting in the dark.

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