Thursday, August 30, 2007

Peak Oil?

Oooops. That one is for the peak oil folks. It looks like all that has peaked is the easy to get oil. Evidently there is an abundance with current technology and prices.

We're flying over the Gulf of Mexico, above some 3,500 oil production platforms, and Siegele is pointing them out with the verve of a birder — here a miniature oil rig known as a monopod; over there a drill ship almost as big as the Titanic; still farther out, platforms looking like huge steel chandeliers that dropped out of the storm-shaken clouds.

Siegele has reason to be giddy. He works for Chevron, and his team is sitting on several new record-breaking discoveries in the Gulf, a region that many geologists believe may have more untapped oil reserves than any other part of the world. On this trip, the 48-year-old vice president for deepwater exploration has come to a rig called the Cajun Express to oversee final preparations before drilling begins on the company's 30-square-mile Tahiti field.

Looming like an Erector set version of Hellboy — with cranes for arms, a hydraulic drill for its head, and a 200-foot derrick for a body — the rig appears at once menacing and toylike. But the real spectacle is below the surface: A drill is plunging down through 4,000 feet of ocean and more than 22,000 feet of shale and sediment — a syringe prodding Earth's innermost veins. That 5-mile shaft will soon give Chevron the deepest active offshore well in the Gulf. Some land drills have gone deeper, but extracting oil from below miles of freezing salt water and unyielding sediment creates a set of technical problems that far exceed those faced on terra firma.
OK. The technology is very interesting and there is much more on that and what it takes to do the job. What is the bottom line?
Even better, a recent discovery by Chevron has signaled that soon there may be vastly more oil gushing out of the ultradeep seabeds — more than even the optimists were predicting four years ago. In 2004, the company penetrated a 60 million-year-old geological stratum known as the "lower tertiary trend" containing a monster oil patch that holds between 3 billion and 15 billion barrels of crude. Dubbed Jack, the field lies beneath waters nearly twice as deep as those covering Tahiti, and many in the industry dismissed the discovery as too remote to exploit. But last September, Chevron used the Cajun Express to probe the Jack field, proving that petroleum could flow from the lower tertiary at hearty commercial rates — fast enough to bring billions of dollars of crude to market. It was hailed as the largest publicly reported discovery in the past decade, opening up a region that is perhaps big enough to boost national oil reserves by 50 percent. A mad rush followed, and oil companies plowed more than $5 billion into this part of the Gulf.
So now you know what the oil companies have been doing with their "excess profits". Working to bring us more oil. Whoda thunk?

Between new oil finds like that and recent funding for Dr. Bussard's Fusion experiments, I'm very optimistic about our energy future. Our transition away from oil will be difficult, but not excessively painful.

H/T Instapundit

Cross Posted at Classical Values


Reliapundit said...

it has maybe 15 billion barrels.

how big is that compared to iraq, saudi arabia , russia...???

Reliapundit said...

we also got gazillions of barrels off the coats of CA and FLA and in ANWR but the libs won;t let us get it. and these barrels are profitable to retrieve at 1990's prices.

Reliapundit said...

and NONE of the rigs in the gulf failed or leaked as a result of katrina: they are clean and safe.

Reliapundit said...

the higher the price of a barrel the more proven reserves there are.

a proven reserve is one which can be extracted at a profit with known technology.

add the sdnd and shale oil and the oil from coal to this deep oil; and it's easy to see we have no shortages looming in the foreseeable future.

like hundreds of years at the current rate of use and rate if increase.

M. Simon said...


Compared to Saudi Arabia's supposed reserves this is small.

However, the big deal is that we may find a lot more oil where we couldn't look before.

As you point out.

We have plenty of oil to get us through our next energy transition.

Reliapundit said...


which measn that Congress HAS to allow us to drill off the coast of FLA and CA and in ANWR.

tonemcd said...

"the higher the price of a barrel the more proven reserves there are."

So very very true reliapundit. Who would have thought that economics could affect the quantity of a physical value so extensively! And one which everyone knew was limited!

(sarcasm off)

Reliapundit said...


a proven reserve is DEFINED s oil which can be extracted at a profit with currently available technology.

lots more oil is discovered (and has been over the years)than can be extracted profitably at any particular time.

at today's prices it's possible to use more expensive drilling/extracting techniques which were either unknown, not worth pursuing or not worth using.

NOW THEY CAN BE USED. like the oil sands of canada.

as a matter of fact there is more profitably extractable oil in the world today than just a few years ago.


the history of humanity is not that one resource is used up, one after another.

history is filled with examples of NEW resources being discovered, or of old/known and preciously useless resources being exploited by new technology.

like silicon.

AGW and "running out of oil" are LIES of the left - lies they use as propaganda top promote policies they love: shackling industry and the freemarket with taxes, regulations and with redistribution schemes - like carbon credits, carbon taxes etc.



excerpt first:

Proved reserves
Although there is no single, commonly accepted technical definition of proved reserves, a commonly used description is as follows: "the estimated quantities of oil which geological and engineering data demonstrate with reasonable certainty to be recoverable in future years from known reservoirs under current economic and operating conditions".

Dave Lankshear said...

Come on guys, 15 billion is a drop in the ocean when one throws it across worldwide demand issues. It's like dumping a truckfull of sand on the top of Mt Everest and saying, "Look how much more oil we've found".

Take into account exponential growth in consumption. Remember that in the 40's and 50's and 60's oil use grew by 7% every year, which means it doubled every decade. If China and Indian economic growth continues, at this kind of rate we'd have to find AS MUCH OIL AS HUMANITY HAS EVER BURNED to get.... just 10 more years.

Fortunately, the exponential growth rate in consumption of oil is far less than the historic rise of the 50's and 60's but it IS still rising, and it IS still exponential.

So, let's not downplay the economic risks of peak oil until the Polywell's up and running, and we have electrified all of our transport, OK?

Ultimately I'm an optimist, and am looking forward to a renewable worldwide super-grid and electric transport (but hopefully we'll go back to trams and trains, because cars kill people and ruin creative city designs).

If we really do crack the Polywell, however, that would be... unimaginable. Amazing. A new golden era of terraforming Mars would open up.... wow. I'm still trying to get my head around it.

M. Simon said...


I think the find, although nominal in terms of rising demand, is important because it shows what is possible.

It opens a lot of previously unavailable area to exploration.

In any case it will help tide us over.


As to Polywell. We know it works.

The only question now is can it produce power.

The Dr. currently has a most excellent line up of physicist to help him (you will have to wait for the official announcement to find out who).

That insures continuity.

Second. He is already gathering his team (by informal commitments) for the 100 MW test reactor.

I also suspect that Congress will step in if the current experiments prove out and will go all Manhattan Project on the effort. That is only a guess based on hardly anything (more than nothing however).

Dave Lankshear said...

I hope you're right mate. A Manhattan Project on energy is exactly what we need. Keep up the great work.

Which is the primary blog I should subscribe to for Polywell news? You have quite a few blogs. :-)

M. Simon said...


The hot news stuff and commentary (politics) will be posted here and to a lesser extent at IEC Fusion Technology.

IEC Fusion Technology will focus more on the science and technology with some breaking news items.