Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Monbiot on Peak Oil

George 'Nuclear-Power-Isn't-All-Bad' Monbiot decides to further alienate his green tinged friends. Well, he certainly doesn't lack courage - there's nothing more vituperatively awful than an angered, outraged, betrayed environmentalist:
Some of us made vague predictions, others were more specific. In all cases we were wrong. In 1975 MK Hubbert, a geoscientist working for Shell who had correctly predicted the decline in US oil production, suggested that global supplies could peak in 1995. In 1997 the petroleum geologist Colin Campbell estimated that it would happen before 2010. In 2003 the geophysicist Kenneth Deffeyes said he was "99% confident" that peak oil would occur in 2004. In 2004, the Texas tycoon T Boone Pickens predicted that "never again will we pump more than 82m barrels" per day of liquid fuels. (Average daily supply in May 2012 was 91m.) In 2005 the investment banker Matthew Simmons maintained that "Saudi Arabia … cannot materially grow its oil production". (Since then its output has risen from 9m barrels a day to 10m, and it has another 1.5m in spare capacity.) 
Peak oil hasn't happened, and it's unlikely to happen for a very long time. 
A report by the oil executive Leonardo Maugeri, published by Harvard University, provides compelling evidence that a new oil boom has begun. The constraints on oil supply over the past 10 years appear to have had more to do with money than geology. The low prices before 2003 had discouraged investors from developing difficult fields. The high prices of the past few years have changed that.
Now, I'm in general agreement with Monbiot on this - while peak oil will happen, the hysterical predictions of a couple of years ago were obviously nonsense, then and now. But I do wonder why Monbiot immediately trusts this latest 'compelling evidence' as I'm sure he would have found all the previous evidence in favour of peak oil equally compelling. But I think he's right. There's plenty of oil sloshing about underground, and that's actually very bad news as it means we'll carry on happily burning it for decades to come.

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