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Unlimited Oil? Yeah right..

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  • enjax
    Just found this through Planetizen.. It s a Detroit News story written by a fellow from a libertarian think tank claiming we may never have to worry about
    Message 1 of 5 , May 31, 2002
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      Just found this through Planetizen.. It's a Detroit News story
      written by a 'fellow' from a libertarian think tank claiming we may
      never have to worry about oil again(as if the supply of oil were our
      only concern!).

      http://www.detroitnews.com/2002/editorial/0205/29/a11-500860.htm

      I question the science behind this article, especially considering
      they seem to believe that petroleum is extracted from the earth's
      core when in fact it extracted from the earth's crust(which is about
      30km thick). The mantle, much less the core, is the last place you
      would find petroleum. Incidentally the deepest wells ever drilled
      were about 6km deep. Typically most normal oil wells are drilled to
      about 3 to 5km. While its possible there are deep crust petroleum
      deposits, that's still far from the infinite supply of oil that this
      article infers.

      Even worse, there's a quote from libertarian poster boy Bjorn Lomberg
      at the end:

      "In short, even if the new scientific evidence about oil is wrong,
      one can still say the world will never run out of it. Higher prices
      will always bring new supplies to market. As Bjorn Lomberg points out
      in his new book, The Skeptical Environmentalist (Cambridge University
      Press), $40 per barrel oil will immediately increase world reserves
      from a 40 years supply to 250 years because vast known oil shale
      deposits will become economically viable."

      $40 per barrel is economically viable??? Currently, according to the
      article, it is priced around $15 a barrel. That means that in the
      U.S. that $40 a barrel would basically triple the cost of gas at the
      pump to around European levels. Extracting oil from oil shale may
      increase the supply of oil, but it does nothing to reduce how much it
      cost to extract the oil in the first place. Currently it costs
      around $1 worth of energy at today's prices to extract $1 worth of oil
      (again at today's market value). Not exactly a bargain. Oh
      nevermind Americans already drive twice as much as Europeans on
      average due to the sprawling nature of our cities. Cheap oil is what
      drives the American economy and what makes Wal-Mart Supercenters and
      suburban McMansions economically viable.

      Enough preaching to the choir..

      Cheers!

      -Matt Lyons
    • turpin
      ... No, I m sorry, but it doesn t. Because there are other components involved -- taxes, cost of refining, distribution, etc. -- a triping of the wholesale
      Message 2 of 5 , May 31, 2002
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        --- In carfree_cities@y..., "enjax" <mattlyons@c...> wrote:
        > $40 per barrel is economically viable??? Currently,
        > according to the article, it is priced around $15 a
        > barrel. That means that in the U.S. that $40 a barrel
        > would basically triple the cost of gas at the pump to
        > around European levels.

        No, I'm sorry, but it doesn't. Because there are
        other components involved -- taxes, cost of refining,
        distribution, etc. -- a triping of the wholesale
        price does NOT mean a tripling of the retail price.
        Oil went over to $30 barrel fairly recently. $40 or
        $50 is quite imaginable, and would cause a rise in
        retail prices. But not as much as you think.

        > Extracting oil from oil shale may increase the
        > supply of oil, but it does nothing to reduce how
        > much it cost to extract the oil in the first place.

        Well, yeah, it does. If production of shale oil were
        ramped up, the marginal unit cost of extracting the
        oil would go down. That's basic economics.

        A lot of people concerned about the transportation
        system and city infrastructure expect -- in some
        cases, dare I say hope? -- that the world will run
        short of oil, energy prices will rise as a result,
        and automobiles then becoming uneconomic. This is
        terribly misguided for two reasons.

        First, it reflects a fundamental misunderstanding
        of energy economics. The long-term trend of energy
        cost has been downward for centuries, and it will
        continue so. We may swap out the internal combustion
        engine for fuel cells or some future battery
        technology. We may shift from oil reserves to shale
        to hydrogen supplied by tidal or geothermal sources.
        Just as we previously shifted from wood to coal to
        oil. But a 100 years from now, there will be plenty
        of energy, and it will cost less per BTU than it
        does today. Energy is a basic commodity, and as the
        economy and technology progress, it gets cheaper.

        Second, this line of thought fails to point out
        the real problems of our current transportation
        system. The subsidized roads are NOT bad because
        cars burn a lot of energy. They're bad because
        they represent a misallocation of urban SPACE, and
        stemming from that, a terrible misdirection in
        construction resources, a waste of people's time
        getting back and forth on trips that are longer
        than necessary, and an impingement on people's
        sanity and safety. EVEN IF ENERGY WERE FREE, our
        current transportation system is misguided. That's
        very important to understand, if you want to think
        about how we should get about in the future.
        Because energy will be a lot closer to free for
        our grandchildren than it is for us. Count on it.
      • dubluth
        Matt That was a bizarre article, particularly it calling methane a mineral and one of the central building blocks from which matter was formed. The author
        Message 3 of 5 , May 31, 2002
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          Matt

          That was a bizarre article, particularly it calling methane a mineral
          and "one of the central building blocks from which matter was
          formed." The author seems to have escaped exposure to a basic
          science education.

          If the abundance of fossil fuels isn't too far off topic, maybe
          someone can answer a question I've had for some time. Earth's
          primordial atmosphere is believed to have been composed of a
          relatively chemically reduced mixture, with ammonia, methane, CO2,
          and water vapor. The evolution of organisms that photosynthesize and
          produce O2 as a bi-product eventually changed that, giving us an
          oxidized atmosphere we can breath. On the other side of the reaction
          that produces the oxidized product, O2, are the reduced products,
          which might consist of elemental metals as well as petroleum products.

          The bottom line is that
          1) if the original atmosphere was reduced and
          2) reduced chemical products haven't been selectively leaving the
          planet and
          3) oxidized compounds haven't been entering the planet
          then it should be possible to consume all the oxygen in the
          atmosphere with reduced chemicals stored in the Earths crust and
          perhaps mantel.

          In a mass balance sense, oxygen, not fossil fuels is relatively
          scarce. Economically, fossil fuels are scarce because they cost
          human and natural resources to extract. Oxygen, on the other hand is
          free to be combined with whatever flamable material one chooses to
          put a match to. That isn't a problem yet, but the unlimited fuel
          prospectors would eagerly take us to that point if they could. We
          would actually be dead from the toxic by-products long before
          asphyxiation could occur, presuming no perfect pollution cleanup
          technology.

          You stated that it currently costs a dollars worth of energy to
          extract a dollars worth of oil. For that to be correct, someone must
          be giving the oil companies the energy because they would elect not
          to produce if their costs exceed revenues under current prices.

          Bill

          --- In carfree_cities@y..., "enjax" <mattlyons@c...> wrote:
          > Just found this through Planetizen.. It's a Detroit News story
          > written by a 'fellow' from a libertarian think tank claiming we may
          > never have to worry about oil again(as if the supply of oil were
          our
          > only concern!).
          >
          > http://www.detroitnews.com/2002/editorial/0205/29/a11-500860.htm
          >
          > I question the science behind this article, especially considering
          > they seem to believe that petroleum is extracted from the earth's
          > core when in fact it extracted from the earth's crust(which is
          about
          > 30km thick). The mantle, much less the core, is the last place you
          > would find petroleum. Incidentally the deepest wells ever drilled
          > were about 6km deep. Typically most normal oil wells are drilled
          to
          > about 3 to 5km. While its possible there are deep crust petroleum
          > deposits, that's still far from the infinite supply of oil that
          this
          > article infers.
          >
          > Even worse, there's a quote from libertarian poster boy Bjorn
          Lomberg
          > at the end:
          >
          > "In short, even if the new scientific evidence about oil is wrong,
          > one can still say the world will never run out of it. Higher prices
          > will always bring new supplies to market. As Bjorn Lomberg points
          out
          > in his new book, The Skeptical Environmentalist (Cambridge
          University
          > Press), $40 per barrel oil will immediately increase world reserves
          > from a 40 years supply to 250 years because vast known oil shale
          > deposits will become economically viable."
          >
          > $40 per barrel is economically viable??? Currently, according to
          the
          > article, it is priced around $15 a barrel. That means that in the
          > U.S. that $40 a barrel would basically triple the cost of gas at
          the
          > pump to around European levels. Extracting oil from oil shale may
          > increase the supply of oil, but it does nothing to reduce how much
          it
          > cost to extract the oil in the first place. Currently it costs
          > around $1 worth of energy at today's prices to extract $1 worth of
          oil
          > (again at today's market value). Not exactly a bargain. Oh
          > nevermind Americans already drive twice as much as Europeans on
          > average due to the sprawling nature of our cities. Cheap oil is
          what
          > drives the American economy and what makes Wal-Mart Supercenters
          and
          > suburban McMansions economically viable.
          >
          > Enough preaching to the choir..
          >
          > Cheers!
          >
          > -Matt Lyons
        • J.H. Crawford
          I don t think we want to get very far into this. Gold published _Power from the Earth_ in the late 1980s, as I recall. It s a serious book that proposes a
          Message 4 of 5 , May 31, 2002
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            I don't think we want to get very far into this. Gold published
            _Power from the Earth_ in the late 1980s, as I recall. It's a
            serious book that proposes a thesis as revolutionary as plate
            tectonics. He believes that there is a lot of deep methane and
            that petroleum was formed when outgassing methane reacted with
            buried plant material. The thesis would tie up a lot of troubling
            problems in geology if it's correct, and I suspect that it is.
            If he's right, there's a fair bit of methane deep in the crust.
            I've never seen any kind of rebuttal to Gold's work--as far as
            I am aware, it's been ignored. (I'm no geologist, though, and
            don't follow this stuff closely.)

            The problem with any of this is, of course, that we have GOT to
            stop burning fossil fuels, and fairly soon. We've also got to
            stop killing our children, keeping them off the streets, ruining
            our public spaces, wrecking our societies, and turning our cities
            into garbage heaps. Whether the gas/oil is there or not.

            Regards,


            >That was a bizarre article, particularly it calling methane a mineral
            >and "one of the central building blocks from which matter was
            >formed." The author seems to have escaped exposure to a basic
            >science education.
            >
            >If the abundance of fossil fuels isn't too far off topic, maybe
            >someone can answer a question I've had for some time. Earth's
            >primordial atmosphere is believed to have been composed of a
            >relatively chemically reduced mixture, with ammonia, methane, CO2,
            >and water vapor. The evolution of organisms that photosynthesize and
            >produce O2 as a bi-product eventually changed that, giving us an
            >oxidized atmosphere we can breath. On the other side of the reaction
            >that produces the oxidized product, O2, are the reduced products,
            >which might consist of elemental metals as well as petroleum products.
            >
            >The bottom line is that
            >1) if the original atmosphere was reduced and
            >2) reduced chemical products haven't been selectively leaving the
            >planet and
            >3) oxidized compounds haven't been entering the planet
            >then it should be possible to consume all the oxygen in the
            >atmosphere with reduced chemicals stored in the Earths crust and
            >perhaps mantel.
            >
            >In a mass balance sense, oxygen, not fossil fuels is relatively
            >scarce. Economically, fossil fuels are scarce because they cost
            >human and natural resources to extract. Oxygen, on the other hand is
            >free to be combined with whatever flamable material one chooses to
            >put a match to. That isn't a problem yet, but the unlimited fuel
            >prospectors would eagerly take us to that point if they could. We
            >would actually be dead from the toxic by-products long before
            >asphyxiation could occur, presuming no perfect pollution cleanup
            >technology.
            >
            >You stated that it currently costs a dollars worth of energy to
            >extract a dollars worth of oil. For that to be correct, someone must
            >be giving the oil companies the energy because they would elect not
            >to produce if their costs exceed revenues under current prices.
            >
            >Bill
            >
            >--- In carfree_cities@y..., "enjax" <mattlyons@c...> wrote:
            >> Just found this through Planetizen.. It's a Detroit News story
            >> written by a 'fellow' from a libertarian think tank claiming we may
            >> never have to worry about oil again(as if the supply of oil were
            >our
            >> only concern!).
            >>
            >> http://www.detroitnews.com/2002/editorial/0205/29/a11-500860.htm
            >>
            >> I question the science behind this article, especially considering
            >> they seem to believe that petroleum is extracted from the earth's
            >> core when in fact it extracted from the earth's crust(which is
            >about
            >> 30km thick). The mantle, much less the core, is the last place you
            >> would find petroleum. Incidentally the deepest wells ever drilled
            >> were about 6km deep. Typically most normal oil wells are drilled
            >to
            >> about 3 to 5km. While its possible there are deep crust petroleum
            >> deposits, that's still far from the infinite supply of oil that
            >this
            >> article infers.
            >>
            >> Even worse, there's a quote from libertarian poster boy Bjorn
            >Lomberg
            >> at the end:
            >>
            >> "In short, even if the new scientific evidence about oil is wrong,
            >> one can still say the world will never run out of it. Higher prices
            >> will always bring new supplies to market. As Bjorn Lomberg points
            >out
            >> in his new book, The Skeptical Environmentalist (Cambridge
            >University
            >> Press), $40 per barrel oil will immediately increase world reserves
            >> from a 40 years supply to 250 years because vast known oil shale
            >> deposits will become economically viable."
            >>
            >> $40 per barrel is economically viable??? Currently, according to
            >the
            >> article, it is priced around $15 a barrel. That means that in the
            >> U.S. that $40 a barrel would basically triple the cost of gas at
            >the
            >> pump to around European levels. Extracting oil from oil shale may
            >> increase the supply of oil, but it does nothing to reduce how much
            >it
            >> cost to extract the oil in the first place. Currently it costs
            >> around $1 worth of energy at today's prices to extract $1 worth of
            >oil
            >> (again at today's market value). Not exactly a bargain. Oh
            >> nevermind Americans already drive twice as much as Europeans on
            >> average due to the sprawling nature of our cities. Cheap oil is
            >what
            >> drives the American economy and what makes Wal-Mart Supercenters
            >and
            >> suburban McMansions economically viable.
            >>
            >> Enough preaching to the choir..
            >>
            >> Cheers!
            >>
            >> -Matt Lyons
            >
            >
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            >
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            >
            >
            >


            -- ### --

            J.H. Crawford Carfree Cities
            mailbox@... Carfree.com
          • enjax
            ... must ... Bill, I was referring to the current costs of extracting oil from oil shale, which involves the additional cost of mining and extracting the oil
            Message 5 of 5 , Jun 4, 2002
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              --- In carfree_cities@y..., "dubluth" <dubluth@y...> wrote:
              > You stated that it currently costs a dollars worth of energy to
              > extract a dollars worth of oil. For that to be correct, someone
              must
              > be giving the oil companies the energy because they would elect not
              > to produce if their costs exceed revenues under current prices.
              >
              > Bill

              Bill,

              I was referring to the current costs of extracting oil from oil
              shale, which involves the additional cost of mining and extracting
              the oil from the shale. This additional costs roughly translates
              into $1 spent on extraction to recover $1 worth of oil at today's
              prices - not exactly a bargain. The extraction process isn't
              particularly environmentally friendly either as it makes drilling for
              oil in ANWR look benign by comparsion.

              Earlier I wrongly stated that the price of gas would triple in the
              United States if the price of oil rose to $40 a barrel. I didn't
              factor in the static costs such as refining, distribution, and taxes
              which explains the error. Incidentally, The last time we had
              sustained prices of around $40 a barrel in the U.S. was during the
              severe recession of the early 80s after the whole Iranian fiasco. The
              price of gas back then, adjusted for inflation, was around $2.50 a
              gallon or about twice what we pay today. Hardly insignificant if you
              remember the double digit inflation and interest rates of the era.

              -Matt
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