Michael Klare and Oil Insuffiency

This rather excellent article can be found at:


Preparing for Life After Oil

By Michael T. Klare, The Nation. Posted November 8, 2007.

Welcome to the Age of Insuffiency: As oil prices hit new highs and supplies sink, our way of life will drastically change.
This past May, in an unheralded and almost unnoticed move, the Energy Department signaled a fundamental, near epochal shift in US and indeed world history: we are nearing the end of the Petroleum Age and have entered the Age of Insufficiency. The department stopped talking about "oil" in its projections of future petroleum availability and began speaking of "liquids." The global output of "liquids," the department indicated, would rise from 84 million barrels of oil equivalent (mboe) per day in 2005 to a projected 117.7 mboe in 2030 -- barely enough to satisfy anticipated world demand of 117.6 mboe. Aside from suggesting the degree to which oil companies have ceased being mere suppliers of petroleum and are now purveyors of a wide variety of liquid products -- including synthetic fuels derived from natural gas, corn, coal and other substances -- this change hints at something more fundamental: we have entered a new era of intensified energy competition and growing reliance on the use of force to protect overseas sources of petroleum.


This article gets all the numbers and facts on the record without been hysterical about it. That option is left to us. I think that we all know that we will not be adding major new production let alone replacing declining production, anytime soon. What has actually happened is that the declines have finally caught up to the oil companies' scramble to produce new oil. When a wolf pack finally runs down a deer, it is silly to think that there is anything left in the tank to fix the problem.

Astonishingly the public is still in total denial as are the political leaders. And perhaps why not. They will face a massive readjustment and it will be uncomfortable and there will be a real struggle to adjust priorities. But in practice it is going to mean that sooner or later, you are going to park your car and utilize alternative transportation.

Those who have followed my carping on the eminence of this painful transition can work their way through the five page article and get fully briefed. The bad news is that it is all true and cannot be fixed.

Everyone forgets that the first oil crisis came about with the peak of US oil production and was actually fixed because Middle East Oil could quickly match demand at $20.00 per barrel.

Today, it is theoretically possible to match demand at $100 to $200 per barrel but not quickly.
That is a huge difference from the seventies when OPEC was showing their strength but their capacity to produce was never in question. Today it is very much in question. In fact, they are likely lying to boot.

Strangely enough there is one possible way that we may be able to extend the age of conventional oil very quickly, although I am loathe to promote it to loudly. I am rather inclined to see the massive conversion to successful carbon neutral bio fuel technologies in my lifetime because it is important that this happens.

Readers are invited to read the recent disclosure statements of Petrobank(PBG.TO)

The company is operating a clearly successful pilot test of the THAI process on deep bitumen based oil. In a nutshell, it has become possible to use a well pair to consistently drain a reservoir at the rate of 1000 upgraded barrels per day. 7api is delivered as 16api which is a huge break. And all the process energy is produced underground with no significant additives.

The reserves available to this new technology is likely almost all the tar sands not now declared as reserves. Since the declared reserves are around 375 billion barrels out of a resource that is thought to be 1600 billion barrels, we are saying that over one trillion barrels needs to be reevaluated.

Since this type of production is not needing any additional natural gas or the like to be built out, the actual roll out can be almost as quick as conventional oil in Alberta. Recall that the three well pairs currently been operated have only been in the ground for about a year. The placement of proper sand handling equipment will allow capacity production. This is under way.

Thus a mere 1000 well pairs draining very small acreage can establish sustained 1000 barrel per day production each which is a million barrels per day. This is completely within the current capacity of Alberta's oil industry. And it can be done year after year displacing the anticipated 30,000,000 barrel global shortfall over the next thirty years.

Of course, at that rate of depletion, even the Athabasca tar sands can be fully depleted within this century. Of course we will still have the same type of resource in South America and there are many additional forgotten strat traps holding this stuff around the world. The method may even work on the Green River oil shales though I am not very optimistic. In the meantime, the tarsands will always be better, particularly since we are mastering them.

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