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23 July 2015


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--Confirming Iran believes its oil supply will run out in a few decades.

--We are going to have to be saved by "grey goo" transforming raw materials into paintable/flexible solar cells that cover all buildings/cars/roads with energy acquisition. The expended energy cost for this is going to have to be less than the energy gained. "Artificial photosynthesis" is a good place to start, using bio-engineered bacteria that can replicate themselves. The Diamond Age will also finally end up sucking the carbon out of the atmosphere. None of this will happen until people get desparate or entrepreneurs get greedy enough to make it happen. See Stephenson's "The Diamond Age" SF novel for inspiration.

--Oil is a complex hydrocarbon; current theory has it coming from prehistoric plants, not minerals. If oil were renewable, then all the other oil-beds would be renewing by now. And all the oil companies would not be sucking wind at $50/barrel. References to your theory that oil refills itself?

different clue


If that is true, then we will exceed the bio-physical ecosphere's ability to absorb or even tolerate carbon pollution before we run short of oil. In fact, that is already happening as seen in slowly rising carbonic-acid-driven acidity levels of ocean water ( "ocean acidification").


Someone tell me how crude is trading at around 50 bbl but refined gasoline is back up around/over $3.

And no, "summer blend" isn't an answer, or at least the whole answer. I've never seen summer blend double the price of gasoline.


you beat me to Peak Whale. Seconded. So I don't have to make analogies about "no need to worry about whales running out, 'cause we have an effectively infinite supply".

Humans are astonishingly creative when their butts are finally perceived to be on the line. We thought our way out of the last oil crunch by coming up with something unpredictable out of left field that worked. We'll do the same again.


May you make it through safely.


When I lived in Ithaca, NY I was asked at a cocktail party if knew anything at all about whitetail deer birth control. Predictably, I told the questioner that it was called a Remington 870 Express.


Materials written in 1977 and 1983?? I suggest looking at more recent data. EIA numbers show some of the renewables are quite competitive.



Ah, the ebb and flow of the oil patch, of which I'm a part of not by will or design but location and resources. Haliburton crews are fracking a well roughly a half mile from my place right now. It's not like the old drilling days where pipe dope was strung all over the place and one had to worry about one's cattle getting into and eating it (and croaking from it).

My heartburn with fracking is the injection of the poisonous goop back into the ground, but where they put it, it will take millions if not billions of years to leach anywhere important, by then the earth's natural filtering process will have neutralized most of the junk.

I loved the jimmy bond movie where he left the little guy a can of oil to drink when he got thirsty, still laugh when I think about that one.


Peak oil was the last time I filled my tank to brim fullness. A good six months ago. I've been looking pretty stupid since then. Now peak wood... what is with all this microagression flying around these days? Peak whale? It seems american women are riding that wave.

I always felt disappointed at the way in which Earth Science developed. It was much more guided by personality than true research. Not much different from social science, though it has reached a reasonable level, unlike the latter. Even then, there is very little certainty in much of what passes as surety in Earth Sciences.

Now peak credulity is indeed round the corner.


dc, if you are referring to my last sentence, I would tend to agree. Ocean acidification appears to be supported by observation and the science being done on it.

If I take your comment correctly you are saying we will have rendered the planet uninhabitable for the human race before we run out of oil. Certainly not what I would have wished for my great-grandchildren.


The Saudis have always used their position as low cost producer to manipulate the markets. In the 1980s the Saudis went about destroying high breakeven point North American tar sands and shale along with bankrupting most of the Southwestern US, Mexico, the Russians in Afghanistan and renewable alternative energy sources. It took the Russians and the renewables almost 2 decades to recover from the Saudi induced price variances.

Now the Saudis are doing it again, clobbering North American producers who remain, despite technology, at a relative high breakeven point, financially punishing the Russians who need at least $85/bbl for backing Assad, squeezing the Iranians who have lots of gas but are not low cost producers in oil and trying to crush off renewable alternatives which are ever vulnerable to price uncertainties.

The main differences between the 1980s gambit and today's is, first of all, economies of scale have been reached with wind and solar that are impossible to roll back. Second, I don't think Putin, ISIS, Assad or the Iranians are likely to put up with this again from the Saudis and third American support for the Saudis is not what it once was.

Frankly the world is a safer place politically at ~$85/bbl. People should remember that oil supply is dependent on world politics. Why would Putin or the Iranians for example allow themselves to be put into a financial noose without reminding the Saudis what real power looks like?



This is a finite world. Fossil fuel is the stored energy of sunlight that hit plants growing on the surface of the earth. It is finite.

My dad said my grandfather spent most of his free time trying to correlate the price of apples to anything else so he could predict what price they would sell in the future. He never could. It is propaganda that market pricing is based the outcome of rational deliberations. My opinion is that billions of dollars were spent to extract petroleum by fracking and off shore of Brazil is proof that most of the easy to extract oil is gone except for the Middle East. That Saudi Arabia kept their spigots wide open in face of a global economic recession shows their greed and the short term thinking that rules mankind. I even believe that the shortage of cheap oil now prevents further global economic growth because its price rockets up as the economy starts accelerate stalling the recovery. Throwing trillions of digital dollars at financiers and the end of economic growth are directly related to the rise of predatory capitalism that is now pillaging Greece and Ukraine and will go after the rest of us next.


Slightly OT, but since oil from Iran was mentioned, the Chinese have taken over the port of Gwadar, presumably to increase access to Iran's oil. How does that affect relations with India? Is there a separate pipeline planned for India?



There were significant logjams with the refiners. Been a year or so since I read up on this, but it was difficult getting oil to the East coast refineries. We have decent pipeline coverage north and south, but not so much going east and west. They were accelerating the government side of the equation in trying to get them built faster, but not sure where they are on it now. We have been relying on rail to do this. I suspect that is part of your answer, but not all of it.


Pete Deer

What is maddening about it? pl


Great post, however you're wrong on a key point - you don't need oil to make plastics; Hemp being one prime example of an alternative source material for plastics, and one that is renewable and biodegradable to boot.

Imo, this is another salient point in the debate- there are alternatives to petroleum based products that were muscled out of the market by many means, some economic, some political. Yes, it is cheaper to use petroleum, but perhaps the extra cost (perhaps a penny here and there), is worth it especially at this point. (viz the plastic 'gyre' in the Pacific, etc.)

I think it is a mistake to believe in the all or nothing fallacy that using less energy would 'solve' this problem. Realistically, conservation is of course not The Solution, but that doesn't mean it's not part of a solution.

Babak Makkinejad


The pipeline from Pakistan to Iran had to wait until the new set of the Masters of the Universe gave the Pakistanis permission to proceed.

Babak Makkinejad


I assume you meant wind and hydro-electric?

Wind does not have the scale to provide sufficient power; hydroelectric cannot and does not work in prolonged periods of draught - ask Iranian Energy Ministry about it.


"Peak oil enthusiasts"
Mr Lang it's bit sad to see someone as sharp and cold in their field of expertise as you to skip out into name calling to describe geophysical reality. "Peak oil enthusiasts Iranian oil is coming, you look pretty stupid now". Your statement is a non-sequitur.

Iran isn't the world any more than the Ghawar or Mckittrick oil field are.

Make a cogent argument .


It's this year. Conventional crude peaked in 2005 and QE Ponzi scheme fracked oil is peaking now.



"Peak oil enthusiasts" is name calling? It is surprising how sensitive you peak oil enthusiasts are about this. Is this a "rice bowl" issue? pl



"It's this year." Yes, maybe, maybe. We will see. pl


This is pretty damn simple Pat, look at the history of field discoveries and you will see the the largest number of big fields occurred in the 60's and declined thereafter. The super giants like Ghawar in Saudi Arabia don't keep popping up. They are fewer and farther apart in time. The media hypes prospective discoveries like the Monterey Shale or Brazil's deep water fields but the are expensive and hard to extract. Without high oil prices it stays in the ground. Depletion never sleeps.


I rather thought he was throwing down the gauntlet... and seeing who would attempt to pick it up ;)


An apple is an apple. Your response to NMS reflects an unwillingness to address pertinent facts as to what constitutes "oil". If you have a rifle that require a specific caliber and someone has a supply of misc. caliber you don't make them all equivalent.

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