[Ok-sus] Hammering nails into a coffin for the claims of fossil fuel abundance".

Bob Waldrop 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 
<http://gaia.pge.utexas.edu/papers/BiodieselFromSoybeans.pdf>. Since 
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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