This forum is about wrong numbers in science, politics and the media. It respects good science and good English.
When are the "greenies" and masses going to understand that oil is hydrocarbon, and that hydrocarbons 'degrade'?
That is, hydrocarbons are part of the food chain? (BTW, so are the greenies, part of the food chain, albeit spoiled)
I find interesting that the complainers went as far as to say they are 'underwater oil plumes'!!! Isn't it not where they also say that all the heat from the 'masking' of global warming supposed to be hiding at as well?
I did a quick calculation to estimate the effect on the world's oceans in a hypothetical scenario where oil could not be naturally removed from the environment. Natural seeps of crude oil from the seafloor around the world are estimated as being 600,000 tons of oil per year. If this natural seepage has been going on for 100 million years (say), that would, if it didn't degrade or evaporate, have produced an oil slick covering all the world's oceans six inches thick.
This BP Deepwater Horizon incident last year was an interesting development. It seems to me to represent a step-change in the hostility of Big Green towards Big Oil, in which the Greenies appear to be making a serious attempt to drive up the costs of the oil industry. Back in 1979 there was a similar oil spill incident in the Gulf of Mexico at a well called Ixtoc I, but I don't remember that incident receiving the same hostile media coverage (hardly anybody can remember the Ixtoc I incident nowadays, whereas thanks to the Greenies nobody is allowed to forget a nuclear accident which occurred in the same year, Three Mile Island). I think Ixtoc I involved "Red Adair", some heroic oil rig troubleshooting figure hyped up by the news media of the time. The Deepwater Horizon well was capped much more quickly than Ixtoc I, and was a technically much more difficult operation in much deeper water, but in this incident BP were portrayed in the media as a bunch of buffoons rather than troubleshooters.
My interpretation of the reason for the step-change in hostility is that since the 1970s Big Oil seem to have generally co-operated with the Green movement in the "peak oil is just around the corner" bluff by setting up renewable energy divisions and generally talking up the somewhat strange idea that they are gradually making a transition to becoming renewable energy firms. But in the last few years the oil and gas industry is doing things which obviously deviate from the peak oil bluffing script. Deep water drilling may mean that many more decades of oil production are available, and people might even start to wonder whether oil really is a 'fossil fuel'. They've also produced this new source of natural gas, 'shale gas', which messes up the idea that peak oil means peak natural gas as well. The Greenies are I think getting nervous about these two new sources of oil and gas, and are starting to implement tactics which have previously been successful with the nuclear industry and coal industry, namely try to drive their costs up and raise faux safety concerns.
Okay, so massive oil spills are not the end of the world. That is not even the critical issue.
Peak Oil is not a kooky theory about the future, it is a historical fact. In their latest report of 2010 even the IEA could no longer conceal this fact. They used the term "peak" for the first time to describe the world oil production in Oct 2008. Please do try to keep up to date.
You may also want to ponder why Saudi Arabia, owner of the largest oil field in the world, have signed contracts worth tens of billions of euros with Korea and France to build over 7000MWe of nuclear power stations for "domestic electricity consumption". It doesn't matter that their real reason likely has less to do with domestic electricity demand and more to do with Saudi Arabia entering the nuclear fuel reprocessing and uranium enrichment business, what matters more is that by their actions they surely know the fossil oil supply business is a dead end game.
See also http://www.iea.org/index_info.asp?ID=1928 :
“Another 15 million barrels per day of oil-production capacity is needed to meet the increase in global demand. We project that it will come from natural gas liquids and unconventional oil [sources].”
Assuming for a moment your deep water oil fantasy exceeds your wildest imaginings and delivers one hundred years more oil, not just a few decades. This still means you have condemned our industrial civilisation to a lifetime totalling about 2500 years LESS than the ancient Egyptians managed. Congratulations, real forward thinking there.
"Peak oil" is a load of rubbish. In about 1940, it was reported in Life Magazine (I have that issue stored away) that any vegetative matter could be converted into the equivalent of "sweet" crude oil. Two pilot plants have long since been constructed which were doing so at least 20 years ago, at a cost of about $15 per barrel.
Along about 1950 (when I was a high school student), one of the "popular" science magazines ran a story about a high school chemistry teacher in Texas who made, in his garage, a device by which he was producing his own gasoline, lubricating oil abd lubricating grease, using newspapers for heat, and yard waste for a feed source. About 8 gallons of gasoline per week, all he needed at the time.
Here in the US of A, we have more equivalent barrels of oil, that is, coal, natural gas and crude oil, in known and workable deposits, than any other nation. Enough known crude oil deposits to last at least 400 years at any previous known useage levels before the present. This does not include shale oil deposits, which themselves are huge indeed.
Would you mind elaborating on
In reply to Andrew, in the interests of 'keeping up to date' I've checked EIA's website and I can't see anything about a near-term peak oil prediction on there. I found a document called 'Statement of Richard Newell, Administrator, Energy Information Administration, US Dept of Energy before the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, US Senate' dated Feb 3rd 2011 which gives their current position:
In this document Figure 4 indicates EIA expect oil production to keep going up at least up to the year 2035 (which is as far as the graph goes). This projection is based on 'unconventional oil' going up which is of course the sources of oil (like tar sands and deep water wells) that the Green movement is most intent on making sure isn't used. I suppose if you took out the unconventional oil, you might technically just about have peak oil (a peak in the global production rate), and the Green movement would then get whatever political advantages they think they get from that situation.
As I remember it, EIA was set up in the aftermath of a (failed) peak oil prediction by US president Jimmy Carter in 1977, given in this televised speech:
Carter, under the influence of some doomster called James Schlesinger and the emerging Green lobby, predicted peak oil would occur in the early 1980s. Later than he should have done, Carter set up the EIA body in 1978 so that there was an independent US government agency advising on energy issues.
Reading through this thread again, I've just realised that Andrew was talking about IEA (International Energy Agency) rather than EIA.
Out of the two organisations I'd say EIA is much more important than IEA. IEA is a reasonably well-respected body, but I'd say Western governments would generally rate the advice of their own national experts above international technical bodies like the IEA. The Green movement seems to have convinced itself that Western governments act solely on the advice of IEA, and have even got some 'whistleblowers' co-operating with them in IEA. The UK government did give a global peak oil prediction back in 1976 in a Department of Energy report by Walter Marshall (who was later made head of the CEGB) which was the year 2000, but after that one the UK government seems to have given up making any predictions public.
OK, I'll check IEA's website for a peak oil prediction. This seems to be the most current document, 'Key Graphs' from the World Energy Outlook 2010:
The relevant graph is on page 7 of the document, 'World oil production by type in the new policies scenario'. This graph is showing overall oil production going up from the current 80 million barrels per day to 96 million barrels per day in the year 2035, not as optimistic as EIA who were forecasting 110 million barrels per day in 2035. I'd say there's no imminent peak oil prediction there. The IEA graph presentation does play into the hands of peak oilers a bit in that it says crude oil production is going into a plateau for the next 25 years and it refers to oilfields that have not yet been discovered which a peak oiler will assume will never be found.