« New Post On The Athenaeum | Main | It Is Beginning to Read Like Peyton Place--by Foresman »

12 November 2012


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


Here's an entertaining blog by a Professor of a few disciplines in geology and energy.

Idols of the Tribe are deceptive beliefs inherent in the minds of all humans. They are abstractions of error arising from common human tendencies of exaggeration, distortion, and disproportion. Thus people gazing at the production of crude oil over the last century perceive endless growth, and are not content merely to contemplate or record that which is seen. They extend their opinions, investing oil fields with innumerable imaginary qualities. In a short time these imaginings gain dignity and are mingled with the facts until the truth and fiction become inseparable. This statement would describe much of the current public debate about energy.

David Habakkuk

Professor Brenner,

"The last thing we need is another sudden 180 degree turn in the cyclical pattern of euphoria and dread that has marked American thinking about its place in the world."

Those are very wise words. Thank you.


I honestly don't know. It would depend.

There are lots of things in play here.

For example, with climate change and a greatly increased US population, will all our many millions of coastal residents still be able to live where they do today? And where will we put the 500 million Americans that we'll have in the not too distant future? Do we want to ruin land that we might need in 100 years?

I also wonder if it wouldn't be smarter to use up other people's oil for now. If we use up our own now and there's no new energy source to meet our needs in 100 years, then what? Wouldn't it be better to use up other countries' oil at a high price and still have lots here to be tapped when theirs is gone?

The only certainties seem to be that worldwide demand will continue to increase and that the amount of oil and gas in the ground won't increase to meet that demand.

Abu Sinan

Indeed Babak, the entire "Khalij" (Gulf), as it is known in Arabic is FULL of people who feel that their oil and the money that comes with it entitles them to be treated like royalty. They are racist, arrogant, and rely on others to run their countries. The drivers come from Africa and Pakistan, their doctors from Egypt and their maids from Indonesia.

As soon as the oil runs out these societies will completely collapse.


Abu Sinan

Yes. The Saudis like to say that it was not an accident that all that oil is under their land. pl

Charles I

All I know is when I stick my head up my ass it gets dark and thundery. Along those lines we might take a deep breath and conclude with Northrup Frye, scholar of The Great Code, that its all repetitive iteration of the the ideal - the mountaintop - from pagan fable to the King James Revised and the ineluctable inevitable human fall from that lofty and er, perfect, beginning, and, by the laws of gravity and God, down, down, down we all go. . . just those with their heads up their inerrant asses can't perceive the Fall in the sudden noisy gloom having just spent their lives staring at the Son, er sun.

I do believe there has actually been proposed, somewhere, mountaintop removal by nuclear weapons, I think Stalin wanted to use them to build some Azov canal, but the dead souls were cheaper. Course he wasn't the kind of Believer at issue.

Charles I

Agree entirely. Just political chicanery and damned easy business to set policy discussion this way, limit any actual consideration of anything outside the narrow range of lobbied jiggery that passes for governance, on every issue.

Charles I

Pat himself has been pretty consistent on this point the whole time I've been here.

Charles I

An argument in play since the Commons was enclosed.


The Desertec project (sun generated electricity in Sahara) is failing - recent pull out of two major participants, Bosch and Siemens, indicate this. Why? is it only the fear of dependance on good will of the Muslim countries and fear of potential sabotage in unstable countries, or is the enthusiasm about the US new fossile fuel resources causing the demise of this 'green' energy project?

Former 11B

I have no confidence in anything projected past next year. These wells are hidously expensive to drill and depletion rates are hinted at by those in the know to be higher than projected. This is like the Austin Chalk plays of the late 80s/early 90s. Investor driven. Another bubble waiting to pop.

Former 11B

In the late 80s there was a bitg boom in what is called the Austin Chalk. The wells would come in strong and then fade fast. This is when directional drilling first became practical. However the actual operaters knew it wasnt all that, but let speculation run rampent anyway. They were quite interested in taking all that nice investor money and paying themselves high saleries.

I suspect something similar here.

Former 11B

I need to correct one aspect of this. Condinsate is NOT distelled into oil but into gasoline. It is used instead of oil for this purpose. It has a lower BTU rating and so is less desirable. I got to typing and screwed this concept up. Everything else I stand by. I probably misspelled a few words too. Hope the grammer police dont get me!


IMO it's the lack of stability AND the lower projected energy prices.

You don't invest millions into a project which's profits are at the mercy of accident - i.e. will be at risk when some nut or the other decides it is the right time to start blow up your project infrastructure, or wants to extort you for its safety, or when your employees who do the engineering work aren't safe on site. Conoco, Shell and BP may have the nerve for that - Bosch and Siemens probably don't.

In the corporation that I work for they call things unprofitable when they only have a meagre, say, 30% profit. Lower energy prices may push profits below the threshold acceptable for shareholders, without making it unprofitable per se.

That'd be all reasons to shelve it. And thinking of it, Spain has desert, too. It's safer and has a shared culture and shorter distances, too.


I can't get Mr. Lang's comment out of my mind about that Sheik or whatnot who ordered his burgers be made from ground filet.

People like that have no appreciation of value, or of what he is actually eating. Pure decadence.


The Russians had their counterpart to the US "Operation Plowshare" - "Nuclear Explosions for the National Economy". The idea was to use nukes in large scale demolitions for infrastructure projects and have them completed faster and cheaper.

That was typical early nuclear age 'sky is the limit' spirit. Man was starting to fly into space at the time - everything was technologically possible. In a way, an enviable spirit.

The reason they sobered up on it was the same as in the US - the inevitable fallout that comes with detonating nukes at ground level.


The biofuel the Brazilians used is produced on farmland. That farmland is no longer available to food production. That has led to rising food prices, even though new farmland has been developed - by uprooting rain forest ...

Biofuel comes at a price, too.

It may just be that the price paid ecologically is pretty steep and that the Brazilians just don't bother looking at the net result because there just is too much money in not doing so. The consequences of such looking away is usually disaster ten to twenty years down the road.



He wasn't a sheikh. He was an entrepreneurial businessman and industrialist who had made his own fortune by hook or crook. He would have gloried in your description of him as "decadent" because that would have meant that you had noticed him. pl

Alba Etie

We have auctions any more -not elections . Maybe the whupping Rove just got handed changes that nationally - but down ticket the money is pervasive and corrosive to our comity .

Alba Etie

The Brazilians rotate crops on that acreage and are also developing other feed stocks for biofuels such as blue green algae. The real answer may lay with advanced batteries that can be made to recycle or have long life . Emory Louvins at the Rocky Mountain Institute is doing some very promising work with electric cars .


You underline my impression that accurate descriptions are often worse than insults.


Re. depletion. From what I'm reading it takes nearly exponential growth in wells to get linear increase in tight/fracked oil production and the new wells are producing less which implies a short blip and decline. If oil prices go up it'll make production last a bit longer but the rest of the economy will be suffering. Oil workers and waitresses still pay the same price at the pump.




"3. We used to get 100 barrels for every 1 we put in. We are down to about 10 barrels for every one. And its not going to get better."

Reality intrudes. I've read that pressure washing sand in Alberta to get the oil off of it results in an 8:1 EROI (Energy Returned on Energy Invested).

If the U.S. was awash in easy fossil fuels, would we drill in 5000' of Ocean water, killing 11 men and almost ruining the GOM in the process? Think people. Then go read theoildrum.com

Abu Sinan

From a religious standpoint, Muslims believe that wealth is given as a test. Much is expected of those to whom much is given. The test is often seen as something positive, but it is also a rope that one can hang oneself by. In the case of the Saudis, they have been given much, but it would be hard to find a people who have done so little with so much. In this case it is a rope with which the Saudis are hanging themselves with.

Norbert M Salamon

unfortunately many people rather have the HOPIUM then follwow theoildrum.com where oil and gas experts and geologists are the main presenters.

Even Forbes questioned the validity of this article cited above, by remarking that there was no mention of the fast depletion rate among the many other mistaken assumptions in the article.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

February 2021

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
Blog powered by Typepad