Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Plenty of oil

Daniel Yergin, author of The Prize (probably the definitive history of the oil industry) and chairman of Cambridge Energy Research Associates, on peak oil:
...Careful examination of the world's resource base -- including my own firm's analysis of more than 800 of the largest oil fields -- indicates that the resource endowment of the planet is sufficient to keep up with demand for decades to come.
If this is correct, and man-made climate change ends up being a manageable, non-catastrophic event, then it would suggest funding for alternative sources of energy and the green tech fad is an absolute waste of money. It's the promotion of a more expensive way of doing things for no discernible benefit.

Update: Energy consultant Michael Lynch offers a similar assessment:
In the end, perhaps the most misleading claim of the peak-oil advocates is that the earth was endowed with only 2 trillion barrels of “recoverable” oil. Actually, the consensus among geologists is that there are some 10 trillion barrels out there. A century ago, only 10 percent of it was considered recoverable, but improvements in technology should allow us to recover some 35 percent — another 2.5 trillion barrels — in an economically viable way. And this doesn’t even include such potential sources as tar sands, which in time we may be able to efficiently tap.

Oil remains abundant, and the price will likely come down closer to the historical level of $30 a barrel as new supplies come forward in the deep waters off West Africa and Latin America, in East Africa, and perhaps in the Bakken oil shale fields of Montana and North Dakota. But that may not keep the Chicken Littles from convincing policymakers in Washington and elsewhere that oil, being finite, must increase in price. (That’s the logic that led the Carter administration to create the Synthetic Fuels Corporation, a $3 billion boondoggle that never produced a gallon of useable fuel.)
Oil is cheap, plentiful and effective.

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