• Arne Mortensen

Peak oil - a balanced view

The discussion about renewable sources of energy continue and will continue because energy is necessary for our life. Since the development of fracking, there is elation that the predictions of peak oil production have proved false ... time and again. But production is just one side of the coin ... a total view often gives a different picture.

See this article for a cogent explanation.

I took the below slide from this article. It summarizes the issue.

Stages of production

• Primary production (just produce -- real wells aren't pumped)

– initially, oil blasts out under own pressure (e.g., 3500 psi)

– main productive run as pressure slowly drops (2000 psi)

– as pressure drops, dissolved gas comes out of solution

• Secondary production (reinstate pore pressure by injection)

– pump water down underneath oil (Ghawar, Saudi Arabia)

– pump nitrogen down above oil (Cantarell, Mexico)

– pump natural gas (or CO2) down above oil (US)

• Tertiary production (extreme measures)

– underground pumps, detergents, explosions, "proppants"

– inject oil-eating bacteria (repressurize with bacterial gas)

• EROEI (energy return on energy investment)

– EROEI decreases with each successive stage until < 1.0

As a side note: A few years ago, I saw that the US Department of Energy had an annual budget of $20 billion and 100,000 employees. Given a reasonable fear for the future of our energy supply, having such a department seems logical. But, the facts are that it is as ineffective as most well intentioned programs (think Solyndra, etc.).

The market price of oil will signal the proper course of action.


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