Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Peak a Boo

Among the Peak Oil crowd, there are some pretty knowledgable and serious folk.

According to one commenter at a Peak Oil Site, Kenneth Deffeyes wrote perhaps the best petroleum geology book, Ruppert wrote the best oil geopolitics conspiracy book, Heinberg wrote the most thoughtful take on future options for society, Kunstler wrote the best rant on and obituary for suburbia,

And Simmons has written the best book on the Saudi oil fields.

Here is a new interview with Simmons in Grist Magazine.

Take a Peak
An interview with peak-oil provocateur Matthew Simmons
By Amanda Griscom Little
Grist Magazine
03 Nov 2005

Matthew Simmons has been stirring up a lot of angst in energy circles this year. This well-connected industry insider has concluded that some of the world's largest oil beds may be on the verge of production collapse -- and he's willing to bet his much-vaunted career on it.

Author of the recently published Twilight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy, Simmons is founder of Simmons & Company International, an investment bank that handles mergers and acquisitions among energy companies, and counts among its clients Halliburton, General Electric, and the World Bank. A graduate of the Harvard Business School, he served as an energy-policy adviser to the 2000 Bush-Cheney campaign.

Grist: Let's start with a brief overview of the premise and implications of Twilight.

Simmons: I believe we are either at or very close to peak oil. If I'm right, then we have to assume that five or 10 years from now we'll be producing less oil than we are today. And yet we have a society that is expecting, under the most conservative assumptions, that oil usage will grow by at least 30 to 50 percent over the next 25 years.

In other words, we would end up with only 70 percent of the oil we have today when we would need to have 150 percent. It's a problem of staggering economic proportions -- far greater than the temporary setback of a terrorist attack on energy infrastructure -- that could end up leading to more geopolitical fistfights than you can ever imagine. The fistfights turn into weapon fights and give way to a very ugly society."

Towards the end of the interview, Simmons says this:

"We need to think on a grander scale. We have to find, for instance, far more energy-efficient methods of transporting products by rail and ship rather than trucks. We have to liberate the workforce from office-based jobs and let them work in their village, through the modern technology of emails and faxes and video conferencing.

We have to address the distribution of food: Much of the food in supermarkets today comes from at least a continent or two away. We need to return to local farms. And we have to attack globalization: As energy prices soar, manufacturing things close to home will begin to make sense again."

Then, there is this story by Dale Allen Pfeiffer.

Oil Peak in 2005?

More evidence is coming in weekly to suggest that world oil production peaked in 2005. Within this past month, two notable petroleum geologists have produced statements to that effect. First there was Ali Samsam Bakhtiari, who said this past October. "In my humble opinion, we should now have reached 'Peak Oil'.

So, it is high time to close this critical chapter in the history of international oil industry and bid the mighty 'Peak' farewell...

At present, global oil output fluctuates around 82mb/d as some institutions try vainly to push 2005 statistics towards 83 and 84 mb/d (as they always do). But they will be obliged to back track as 'actual' oil supplies fail to follow their 'paper' ones."

This was followed by Colin Campbell's announcement at a conference in Rimini, Italy on October 28th that 2005 could be the year when world oil production peaks, to be soon followed by an irreversible decline.

According to Dr. Campbell, "the maximum peak of production as far as the normal so-called oil has come this year; after that will be a long decline. Meanwhile, for other types of hydrocarbons. the peak will occur by 2010."

Pfeiffer goes on with some advice of his own.

Personally, I do not advocate heading for the hills. Those hills are already occupied. And the residents there will be less and less apt to receive newcomers warmly. Nor will you, as a newcomer have the support system that you left behind along with your familiar surroundings.

Instead, preparing means taking stock of what is around you, limiting or eliminating personal debt, increasing your own energy sufficiency whereyou are right now, and building up a reserve of whatever items you feel might be most helpful either for personal survival or trade.

Most of all, it means getting involved in your own community. Possibly one of the most important things you can do to ensure community security is to get involved in your local food bank, or start one if none exists inyour area. Food banks can serve as a platform from which to launch community gardening programs.

And nothing will spell security for your community so much as locally produced food and a system for ensuring that none in your community must starve."

Now, this may seem a little out there.

And I guess it is.

But, both of these people are talking about food supply.

Simmons is talking about regional approaches,

while Pfeiffer is talking very local.


Here is one more.

Running on empty
The Guardian
Tuesday November 8, 2005

History shows that James Schlesinger, a former director of the CIA, is not a man to mess with. As secretary of defence during the first oil shock in 1973, he threatened to invade the Arabian peninsula if the Saudis didn't reopen the oil pumps they had shut down in ire over the October war, thus precipitating the crisis.

So it was with some surprise that participants in last week's oil summit in Rimini, Italy, heard Mr Schlesinger give a speech warning of a grave threat to the world economy from a coming peak in oil production.

Addressing a select audience that included oil ministers and senior officials from the oil cartel Opec, the energy watchdog International Energy Agency, and the UN, plus advocates of a premature oil peak such as the former British cabinet minister Michael Meacher, Mr Schlesinger offered a graphic analogy.

The peak-oil threat and the response to it are reminiscent, he said, of the rumbles under Vesuvius and the reaction to them of its hapless residents. "The peak or plateau is coming," he said.

"Political systems do not deal easily with long term threats, even if they have a probability of 100%," Schlesinger warned. "

We don't deal with it too well either.

Note....Matthew Simmons will be at this conference next Monday.


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

even though there is advice here, I can't imagine how to follow it.

7:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't buy this Peak Oil thing. There is too much deep oil and the oil companies seem to be using it make huge profits. There is plenty of deep oil and the tar sands in Alberta.

7:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

excellent post Oz. MS

9:29 AM  
Blogger Step Back said...

I don't buy this Peak of Pompei thing ...

(translated from an ancient clay tablet found under the ruins)

4:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a very astute and forward looking view of our current circumstance. It is imperitive we reduce unnecessary worldwide shipping, exploit the internet and conserve energy in all economies.

11:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Peak Oil...the first of several little tricks that Ma Earth has to put us in our place. We have to decide whether we will limit ourselves on our own terms, or let Ma do it for us. She will if we don't. We might not like doing it ourselves, but her solution is guaranteed to be unpleasant.

5:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Simmons story would make Bill Mollison, of Permaculture fame, proud.

It is exactly the model for creating a sustainable world. We have been living the other model for a long time and the only gain seems to be more and more shopping malls.

Not only would food production increase if we followed the Permaculture model, so would quality of life.

We will have to begin to build these sustainable communities soon or find ourselves..........I guess un-sustained.

Mother Nature will take care of the problem. She is definitely already threatening.

10:31 PM  

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