[Ok-sus] Hammering nails into a coffin for the claims of fossil fuel abundance".
bwaldrop1952 at att.net
Mon Nov 5 15:42:42 CST 2012
The author of the blog entry linked below is Tad Patzek, who is --
-- the Lois K. and Richard D. Folger Leadership Professor and Chairman
of the Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering Department at The University
of Texas at Austin. He also holds the Cockrell Regents Chair #11.
Between 1990 and 2008, he was a Professor of Geoengineering at the
University of California, Berkeley. Prior to joining Berkeley, he was a
researcher at Shell Development, a research company managed for 20 years
by M. King Hubbert of the Hubbert peaks. Patzek's current research
involves mathematical and numerical modeling of earth systems with
emphasis on fluid flow in soils and rocks. He is working on the
thermodynamics and ecology of human survival, and food and energy supply
for humanity. His current emphasis is use of unconventional natural gas
as a fuel bridge to the possible new energy supply schemes for the U.S.
Currently, he teaches courses in petroleum engineering, hydrology,
ecology and energy supply, computer science, and mathematical modeling
of earth systems. Patzek is a coauthor of some 200 papers and reports,
and is writing five books. URL: gaia.pge.utexas.edu
I suggest we all pay some attention to what he has to say, and to
forward his info on to others who also need to hear this kind of plain
fact information about oil production.
Bob Waldrop, OKC
PS. One of the implications of this story is that we should boycott
gasoline blended with ethanol. Yes, this means paying a bit higher
price, but I've been doing that since I bought my Geo Metro.
Sunday, November 4, 2012
Peak, What Peak?
Before I discuss the logic behind negating a peak of production of
anything, let me sum up where we are in the U.S. in terms of crude oil
production. According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA):
The United States consumed 18.8 million barrels per day (MMbd) of
petroleum products during 2011, making us the world's largest petroleum
consumer. The United States was third in crude oil production at 5.7
MMbd. But crude oil alone does not constitute all U.S. petroleum
supplies. Significant gains occur, because crude oil expands in the
refining process, liquid fuel is captured in the processing of natural
gas, and we have other sources of liquid fuel, including biofuels. These
additional supplies totaled 4.6 MMbd in 2011.
Let me parse this quote. First, let's look at the history of oil
production in the U.S., shown in the chart below. The vertical axis is
scaled with a unit of power, exajoules (EJ) per year, very close to
quadrillion BTU's (quads) per year. To convert from EJ/year to millions
of barrels of crude oil per day (MMbopd), divide the vertical axis by
roughly two, so 20 EJ/year is roughly equal to 10 MMbopd.
Now, let's look at the refinery gains in the second chart. These gains
arise because petroleum products are usually less dense than the crudes
they are made from. Therefore, refinery gains are not really a
replacement of imported crude oil, and demonstrate only that since 1993,
the U.S. refining has been moving towards heavier crude oil feedstocks.
Corn ethanol comes next. I described the ethanol story completely in
2004, in my most popular paper
<http://gaia.pge.utexas.edu/papers/CRPS416-Patzek-Web.pdf> ever. There
is nothing new I would add in the intervening 8 years. Basically,
ethanol is obtained from burning methane, coal, diesel fuel, gasoline,
corn kernels, soil and environment. We destroy perhaps as many as 7
units of free energy in the environment and human economy to produce 1
unit of free energy as corn ethanol, and make a few clueless
environmentalists happier and a few super rich corporations richer. The
story is even worse for switchgrass ethanol
Production of soybean biodiesel in the U.S. is almost irrelevant, but
also highly environmentally damaging
most of the obliteration of the irreplaceable biota occurs in the
tropics, in Brazil, Argentina, Africa, and Asia Pacific, we really don't
care. Either way, the rate of biodiesel production in the U.S. is is
too low to write home about it.
In summary, of the 4.6 million barrels of the other "oil" produced in
2011, 1.1 MMbopd were refinery gains, and another 0.6 MMbopd was the
equivalent volume of oil corresponding to the production of roughly 0.9
MMbpd of ethanol. Biodiesel production was in the noise. I fear that
EIA simply added volumes of the various fuels without converting them to
oil equivalents based on a common oil density and heating value. The
rest of the other "oil", 2.9 or 2.6 million barrels of oil equivalent
(again I do not know how EIA made their conversions) were natural gas
plant liquids and lease condensate. All of these liquids are
significantly less dense than crude oil, and a proper conversion lowers
their volume contribution by 25 percent.
Needless to say, refinery gains do not inject new energy into the U.S.
economy, just add volume. Also, propane and butane are/not/ crude oil,
and ethanol is not a hydrocarbon. The only hard number here, 5.7 MMbopd
of crude oil production /is/ something to write home about. This level
of production requires an incredible amount of new technology and
technical skills that are available only in the U.S. My department
graduates each year about 150 petroleum engineers of all levels, who
make this huge effort such a smashing success. Their starting salaries
are in excess of three-four times the national average for college
graduates. And they all have jobs.
read the rest and view the charts at the link above.
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