Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Michael Lynch's Pinheaded Column (Part Three)

(continued from yesterday)

"A related argument — that the “easy oil” is gone and that extraction can only become more difficult and cost-ineffective — should be recognized as vague and irrelevant. Drillers in Persia a century ago certainly didn’t consider their work easy, and the mechanized, computerized industry of today is a far sight from 19th-century mule-drawn rigs. Hundreds of fields that produce “easy oil” today were once thought technologically unreachable." -- Lynch

It would be more productive if Lynch followed a different drilling routine, and actually followed up his mixed assertions with ..... oh, I don't know, say a fact or two. But that's just it. That particular field is as oil-vacant as anything in Israel or Japan.

There are countless insiders, people with intimate, current knowledge of extraction difficulties, that can refute Lynch's outrageous claims of "vague and irrelevant", and I'm certainly not going to spend days posting a bookload of them here. But why not put up one, to start, from former head of Exploration and Production at Saudi-Aramco, Dr. Sadad al-Huseini? I don't know of a more unbiased source, and one more knowledgeable about the oil realities --past, present, and future -- than one in his position had and has. He says: "[World]Oil is likely to peak at a 95 MBD [million barrels a day] plateau by 2015." How about this from Dr. Shokri Ghanem, former head of the Research and Division at OPEC's Secretariat, now Libya's Oil National Co. head, : "Peak Oil is not very far away .... there is not much time left for a world economy to be driven largely by oil."

So we have an energy consultant (i.e. paid mouthpiece) trying to pull back the twilight a little longer for the billion$ + profitting oil companies to gather for the transition, one who has no direct knowledge of the situation on the ground, espousing unsubstantiated generalities. And we have scores of experts -- insiders and sober hard-working researchers, in many disciplines, who would have a better personal stake in maintaining opposite views -- who have a much different story. Hmmm, who to trust.

Drillers in Persia a century ago still had almost the entire millions-year-old black gold underfoot. That's been halved. The rest is an ongoing nightmare for engineers and drillers, with falling ERoEI ratios for the stuff they can recover. What about this does Lynch not comprehend? Drillers in Persia a century ago hadn't reached Peak in their country, as is now the case in approximately 54 of the 65 countries where oil is most plenteous. Whether or not the work is "easy" is beside the point, a ridiculous attempt to philosophize blunt millennial differences in non-existent theoretical status quo comparisons. Yes, technology has improved. So what? Where's the results? There's certainly a lot more oil being expended in looking for, and extracting, the rest. The "easy oil" today is gone.

"The latest acorn in the discovery debate is a recent increase in the overall estimated rate at which production is declining in large oil fields. This is assumed to be the result of the “superstraw” technologies that have become dominant over the past decade, which can drain fields faster than ever." --Lynch

This is an attempt to evade the deeper reality that decline in production in large oil fields are now permenent because they're, every one of them, over forty years old. Earth to Lynch: fossil fuels are finite. Those fields have been tapped constantly for a long time. The "superstraw" technologies have depleted fields quicker, but those fields have been newer and much smaller in volume. It's the relatively little that's there in the first place, rather than the technology, which depletes them much quicker than drilling-for-immediate-use urgency.

"But this declining return on individual wells doesn’t necessarily mean that whole fields are being cleaned out. As the Saudis have proved in recent years at Ghawar, additional investment — to find new deposits and drill new wells — can keep a field’s overall production from falling."--Lynch

More misrepresentation and bafflegab. No field will ever be "cleaned out". A lot of oil can be left in any field, but it's stupid to keep drilling if it's a sink. The rest of his "arguement" has been refuted several times. Expensive oil-soaked equipment and engineering + declining rates in existing fields does not equal a production norm. (I've seen the middling results -- not self-serving projections -- of the new niches in Ghawar.) And as I've also already mentioned, it's not even enough to keep the status quo. Production has to increase dramatically just to keep up with world population increase, and developing world usage, (unless we want a far different collective life, but that's another story).

"the peak-oil advocates tend to argue that today’s geopolitical instability needs to be taken into consideration. But political risk is hardly new: a leading Communist labor organizer in the Baku oil industry in the early 1900s would later be known to the world as Josef Stalin." --Lynch

Oh! My! GAWD! Who cares about 1900s Russia in this context? First off, oil exploration was a comparative dribble back then, anywhere. Secondly, the U.S. became a superpower because it EXported oil everywhere. Texas was "the promised land". Thirdly, how much trade was Stalin doing with the rest of the world? Fourthly, we're talking about volatile political situations NOW. Has Lynch ever heard of globalization? Do the New York Times have editors who know anything about this topic? Or are they that deep into the pockets of Wall Street and the oil-igarchy?


More to follow.

No comments: