Peak Oil - True or False
By Stephen Lendman
Global Research (external - login to view)
, March 6, 2008
The German-based Energy Watch Group (EWG) believes peak oil is real. It's an "international network of scientists and parliamentarians" that published an October 2007 report with that view. It stated world oil production peaked in 2006, output is now declining by several percent a year, and by 2020 to 2030 global oil reserves will be substantially lower than today and a supply gap will exist.
Daniel Yergin's Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA) disagrees. Its analysis finds that "the remaining global oil resource base is actually 3.74 trillion barrels - three times as large as the (claimed) 1.2 trillion barrels by (peak oil) proponents." CERA argues further that peak oil reasoning is faulty and, "if accepted, (may) distort critical policy and investment decisions and cloud the debate over the energy future." It states as well that the "global resource base of conventional and unconventional oils....is 4.82 trillion barrels an
A Peak Oil Contrarian
F. William Engdahl once accepted peak oil analysis, but no longer does. He explains why in his writing, and this section summarizes his reasoning. It's based on the Russian-Ukrainian theory that oil originated from deep carbon deposits dating as far back as the earth's formation. It's not a fossil fuel or of biological origin, and its potential may be far greater than current hydrocarbon estimates.
According to Engdahl and others sharing this view, peak oil adherents believe oil is a fossil fuel, its origin is biological, its supply finite, and it's only found in areas where it was "geologically trapped millions of years ago....in underground reservoirs (around) 4-6000 feet below the surface of the earth." At times, large amounts may also be in shallow water offshore rock formations in places like the Gulf of Mexico, North Sea or Gulf of Guinea. In any event, prevailing reasoning is that it's running out, and it's a just a matter of deciding how much is left and when it no longer will be available in amounts needed to sustain world economies. Peak oil proponents believe the time is fast approaching.
In 1951, Nikolai Kudryavtsev proposed the first modern deep abiotic oil origins theory at the All-Union petroleum geology congress. He discounted claims about oil's biological origin and was joined by other Russian and Ukrainian geologists, including Vladimir Porfir'yev.
In 1956, Porfir'yev announced their conclusions that even now are largely unacknowledged in the West: that "Crude oil and natural petroleum have no intrinsic connection with biological matter originating near the surface of the earth." They're "primordial materials which have been erupted from great depths," and believing their supply is limited is a hoax to keep prices high at times like now.
The theory rests on the abiotic origin of oil. It's mirror opposite orthodox geology, and, if right, here's what it means - that available oil is only limited by deep earth organic hydrocarbon constituents at the time of the planet's formation, and technological advances will eventually tap them in ultra-deep reservoirs and from old fields believed to be barren.
The theory defies conventional science, but it's paying off. It let Soviet Russia develop huge oil and gas fields in regions previously thought unsuitable. In the 1990s, it was also successfully used in the Dnieper-Donets Basin between Russia and Ukraine in areas considered barren. Sixty-one wells were drilled of which 37 (60%) proved out. Engdahl compares this to US wildcat drilling that produces 90% dry holes.
Russia's success was largely unknown in the West until Pentagon strategists, just recently, considered a disturbing possibility - that the country's geophysicists might know "something of profound strategic importance." If Russian energy know-how exceeds the West, it holds "a strategic trump card of staggering geopolitical import." It also explains why Washington surrounds the country with military bases and targets it with anti-ballistic missiles and radar for offense, not defense. It's "to cut her pipeline and port links to western Europe, China and the rest of Eurasia" as part of a new millennium Great Game to control the world's resources.
In the 1990s, Russia extended its technology to the West, but its offers were spurned and then withdrawn after the US attacked Iraq. Nonetheless, ExxonMobil nearly got a $25 billion stake in Yukos Oil that only unraveled after its chief executive Mikhail Khodorkovsky's arrest and conviction quashed the deal. Had it gone through, Exxon would have had access to the world's largest resource of abiotic-trained deep drilling experts, now unavailable to their scientists and the West.
It now comes down to this. Western technology is built around fossil fuel development. If the future is abiotic, as Engdahl and Russian scientists believe, "Moscow holds a massive energy trump card." It also faces a hostile US and possible new Cold War confrontation for its advantage and unwillingness to be accommodative the way Boris Yeltsin was in the 1990s.
If abiotic theory proves false or overrated, however, and orthodox geology is right, then controlling world oil reserves is even more important. It means peak oil is real, cheap oil is running out, heavier oils are more important, and cornering what's left will be Priority One for all major world powers.
There you have it - peak oil or vast untapped amounts of the abiotic kind awaiting new technology to access it. Readers can weigh the evidence, find more on their own, and decide what's true or false. In the fullness of time we'll know, but for now we must rely on our best judgment with plenty of ammunition on both sides of the argument to consider.