Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Peak oil.

  1. Sep 13, 2007 #1
    About 200 days ago i made a thread on this forum about peak oil
    the thread was called hubbert peak.

    in that post i asked if you realized that peak oil was coming and got by and large a negative response. things like "no peak oil is myth" and "we will find other energy sources"

    i personally belive peak oil has been reached and the oil prices causing poor countries to have power outages due to not being able to buy oil to fuel their powerplants due to high prices.
    further more the rapid growing chinese and indian economies are straining oil suply aswell.

    the question i ask is this.
    after 150 more days of evidence.. anyone still belive peak oil will not happen?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 13, 2007 #2
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2007
  4. Sep 13, 2007 #3


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Could you perhaps expound on this term 'peak oil'? I've never even heard of it. Is it ... an event?
  5. Sep 13, 2007 #4
    It was term first coined in the mid-1970's, a guy said we would reach the peak of good grade oil by 1990's. Which is true to some extent, many oil wells half to use water to pressuer pump the oil up now.And we can all saftly assume, that nothing lasts forever.
    There are several dooms day predictions floating around, some of which have already expired, but mostly claim the end of the world as we know it. Global wars, mass starvation ect.
  6. Sep 13, 2007 #5


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Do poor companies use oil to make power? China, for example, is almost completely coal, as I understand it.
    What new evidence do you have? Peak oil is a very specific predicition. Do you have evidence that directly addresses that prediction?
  7. Sep 14, 2007 #6
    Peak oil is a definition.
    in 1956 M. king hubbard a geologist working for shell analyzed the rate of exploration/development/production peaks of oil wells in the united states.

    he predicted that the united states would reach peak oil in 1970 and was laughed at by the media and geologists alike. 14 years later in the year 1970 the US peaked.

    he also predicted that the world as a whole would peak around the turn of the millenia. (2000) but political events such as the oil embargo in the 70's and some development in technology has pushed back the peak a few years. Most geologists invested in the peak oil theory think the world peaked in 2005. we have not been able to produce more then we did that year.

    basically peak oil means that if you analyze the rate of discovery against the rate of development of new fields. then do math about how big the field is and how fast it's producing you get an idea of how long the field will last.

    most of the oil fields in existance today are old and as such they have already peaked and are in decline. to produce more oil tomorrow then we are today we have to get new fields and develop them and have them produce enough oil to make total oil production in the world grow and take up the slack from old oil wells that loose production every day.
    we cant.

    once oil demand outgrows supply the world is in serious trouble.

    we rely on everything for oil.
    food, roads, fuel, heating, electricity, plastics, cosmetics, cars, industry etc etc.
    the list goes on forever.

    with the rise of huge economies like china and india we simply cannot produce enough oil to satisfy demand.
    china alone grows by 7% each year.. that means the economy will double in 10 years. realistically that means double oil consumption.

    china has been agressive in getting new oil supplies to fuel their growing economy for years and that in turn has pushed prices up aswell.
    they have secured oil rights in canada, venezuela, iran and some african nations.

    look up peak oil on the internet and you get over 2 million hits. last year it was down to 600k. for current info on peak oil check out this site
    http://www.energybulletin.net/ it updates every day with info about all aspects of peak oil and the coming worldwide energy crisis.

    the page that first got my attention about peak oil was this "www.lifeaftertheoilcrash.com"
    this page has been mentioned by a senator speaking to congress about peak oil and if you manage to read the entire thing and not be worried then you have a mindset i cant imagine.

    www.theoildrum.com [Broken] is also a good site for oil info and energy news.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
  8. Sep 14, 2007 #7


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    MYTH: The World Is Running Out of Oil
    We Might Have to Dig Deeper, but Researchers Say There's Plenty Left

    "The tar sands of Alberta alone contain enough hydrocarbon to fuel the entire planet for over 100 years," according to Peter Huber, co-author of "The Bottomless Well."

  9. Sep 14, 2007 #8


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    We gave you an overall negative response because you seem to forget there are other alternatives to oil. When the time comes its more probably that they will be implemented because doing that is easier than waging a global war for the last drops of oil. That war would just not be worth it. You tell us about peak oil. We point out possible solutions, and you say they won't work without offering any good evidence of that point. You do not offer an methods to solve the problem, you only tell us about the fire and brimstone that's on the horizon. Seriously, corra, what's the point of this? Do you just want to scare people into a state hopelessness and despair? Even if peak oil is true, your method of action isn't going to help fix anything at all. What's the point?
  10. Sep 14, 2007 #9
    That is mainly because of environmental politics not actual oil production. At least in the US.
  11. Sep 14, 2007 #10
    "The tar sands of Alberta alone contain enough hydrocarbon to fuel the entire planet for over 100 years," according to Peter Huber, co-author of "The Bottomless Well."

    well thats just super.
    too bad it takes alot of water to get the oil out.
    and the energy gain is virtually none. the amount of energy put into getting the oil out of the tar is almost as big as the energy you get from the oil.

    and no go1 the purpose is not to shock and awe people into a state of fear.
    the purpose is to get people mentally prepared for whats coming.
    there is alot the man on the street can do to prepare for what is coming.
    buy dried food, plant some nut and fruit tree's, get some solar panels, inform neighbors and friends and try to build a community that can be sustained after the peak.

    towns and cities in the united states have started this.
    towns like maiden head and many others. check link for info

    and by the way. oil does not stand for 50% of the total energy use in the world. it is closer to 80%
  12. Sep 14, 2007 #11
    found two articles you should read about the tar sands before you reply.
    http://canada.theoildrum.com/node/2915 [Broken]

    its a total of max 3 pages and if you cant be arsed to read that much then i really do not need a reply.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
  13. Sep 14, 2007 #12
    Depends who you ask. Statoil think we've already hit peak - but they work in the North Sea, duh!

    It's interesting, as the inventiveness increases more and more reserves are opening up. The actual knowledge is evolving. Although there have been plenty of studies in the mining industry that show that reserves are somewhat fractal in distribution (few bigguns, lots of little-uns). I'll get on to how it's evolving...(bear with me)..

    Did you know that well over half the worlds oil reserves were found in salt traps? That was true, but it was primarily cos that was where they'd all been found in salt traps cos thats where we knew to look (and more importantly, how to look!). It's a bit like saying: did you know that a meteorite has never hit the sea, there's no known impact site on the ocean floor, so it's never been hit (in fact, Finland has been hit the most according to this train of logic!). Anyway, recently people have been working on techniques to discover oil reserves in the deep ocean, and also beneath basalts, which were previously impenetrable to conventional exploration techniques. So now more options are opening up.

    The propblem is this EIEO thing, energy-in/energy-out ratio - once that gets top heavy you've lost, and it seems that it is getting there.
  14. Sep 14, 2007 #13


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    The way to cope with change is not to isolate yourself from the rest of the world. The world is not on the brink of collapse due to a shortage of fuel.

    "Today Alaska contains 18 billion bbl. of off-limits crude. We've embargoed at least an additional 30 billion bbl. beneath our coastal waters. And we could fuel many of our heavy trucks and delivery vehicles for a decade with the 20 billion bbl. worth of natural gas we've placed off limits in federal Rocky Mountain lands."


    There are huge oil resources that have been found in and around the Antartic, which luckily have a 50 year moratorium on drilling there. I'm confident we will have sufficient alternatives before then.

    Cora, if you want to do something with your time, lobby to get cruise ships banned, I heard about how much fuel they use on cruises and it's an outrageous waste.
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2007
  15. Sep 14, 2007 #14
    Demand is increasing gradually, and supply is relatively constant. IF supply is decreasing, production will drop off gradually as well. This means that prices will NOT skyrocket, as some would have you believe, but that they will gradually increase. As the market price of oil goes up, there is more incentive for the oil companies to go after the harder to get oil (like the stuff in the sands here in alberta, which is already $billion+ industry here). As these supplies decline as well, the price will continue to increase.

    As the price goes up, and people notice corresponding prices at the gas pump/purchasing oil for the car/cost of plastics/etc. people will use less and less oil products, and competing non-oil based products will become relatively more viable alternatives. At the same time, companies are spending tons of money on these same alternative products (already happening) and they are becoming cheaper and cheaper. When it becomes cheaper to use the alternatives to oil, demand for oil will drop off, and probably much faster than supply will drop.
  16. Sep 14, 2007 #15
    its not enough to know that there might be oil somewhere you still need to develop it and there are problems there aswell.

    currently there are virtually no new refineries being built. and drilling rigs are book for years in the future.. why is this?

    well.. why would anyone spend billion building an oil refinery when it will not have supplies to refine in a few years? the entire u.s refinery capacity is years past its "best before" date and should have been dismatled according to the originial designs... why has this not happened and why are they not building new refineries?.
  17. Sep 14, 2007 #16
  18. Sep 14, 2007 #17


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Yes, it is
  19. Sep 14, 2007 #18
    The 'fact' (according to your sources) that "virtually no new refineries (are) being built" could simply mean that the demand is "virtually" not increasing, i.e. it is relatively still/flat/level (if we assume that any wear and tear set backs to refineries are perfectly balanced by repairs/advances in efficiency). Is it not possible that old refineries could be maintained and even improved, why build new ones, surely this would spend energy?
  20. Sep 14, 2007 #19

    Chi Meson

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Annoying note from the middle again:

    It is every bit a myth to suggest that there is "plenty of oil" remaining. Even the rosy, most optimistic views from CERA (and their objectivity is dubious) put the peak of conventional oil around 2040. http://www.cera.com/aspx/cda/public1/news/pressReleases/pressReleaseDetails.aspx?CID=8444
    Fossil fuel demand is not increasing gradually, it is shooting skyward, thanks to China's Industrial growth spurt.

    We are at the end of North Sea oil, BP is desperately trying to redefine itself (you must have noticed that BP now stands for "Beyond Petrolium," It's in their own ads). We are either right now, or will soon be at "peak."

    It cannot be dismissed. Check out the home page for the upcoming wrold oil conference in Houston. http://www.aspo-usa.com/aspousa3/index.cfm [Broken]

    The second half is dirtier, harder to get, and more destructive than the first; but it is still there, and there will be time to adapt to the new situation, whatever it is. I think I'm repeating myself
    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
  21. Sep 14, 2007 #20


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    You don't think that we will have viable alternatives by that time? Sure, people have to continue to change their ways, price of oil will force a lot of that change The crisis isn't immediate so that we should start retreating into survivalist camps.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook