Tuesday, May 13, 2008

National Geographic reiterates the "crude awakening" theory about oil reserves and future production

The June 2008 issue of National Geographic runs a brief but particularly disturbing story on p 87 by Paul Roberts, “Tapped Out” with the byline “World oil demand is surging as supplies approach their limits.” This threat is something we have already seen in the Red Envelope film “A Crude Awakening” two years ago. The website is ngm.com, but the June issue is not available online as of today (May 13).

The article starts with an account of a calculation by Saudi geologist Sadad I. Al Husseini, that world oil production would level off in this decade, perhaps as early as 2004. As larger fields have fewer reserves, smaller fields must be found and they are much more expensive to develop and use. The article notes some disagreement among oil experts about this theory.

The article provides a brief but critical summary of alternatives like biofuels, coal to oil, and tar sands (and perhaps oil shale).

The article concludes with some startling sentences. “A peak or plateau in oil production will also mean that, with rising population, the amount of gasoline, kerosene, and diesel available for each person on the planet may be significantly less than it is today… Any meaningful discussion about changes in our energy-intensive lifestyles, says Husseini, ‘is still off the table.’ With the inexorable arithmetic of oil depletion, it may not stay off the table much longer.”

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