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.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?
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.
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.
Cross Posted at Classical Values