[Ok-sus] Oil cornucopian economist on Living on Earth

Bob Waldrop bwaldrop1952 at att.net
Tue Oct 23 22:23:05 CDT 2012

Living on Earth had a CERA economist on this evening, claiming the US
was on the verge of energy independence, yadda yadda yadda.

I posted a blog entry at the Living on Earth site, below is the text.

Bob Waldrop, OKC

I was shocked to hear an economist for CERA interviewed -- uncritically
-- on LOE claiming that the US is on the verge of energy independence.
Shouldn't the LOE reporter have asked for some data? Maybe the CERA
fellow didn't provide any because the actual data are not much to brag

Allow me to provide some.

The CERA economist seems to think natural gas will save our bacon. Some
in the industry are claiming that we have a 100 year supply of natural gas.

The most prestigious source for estimations of natural gas resources is
the Potential Gas Committee. Its 2011 report identifies three kinds of
natural gas resources: probable, possible, and speculative.

If you add up all three categories, you get a total of 2,170 trillion
cubic feet of natural gas.

If you divide that number by the 2010 US domestic consumption of 24
trillion cubic feet, you get a potential gas supply of 90 years (not 100
as has been touted, I guess they round their numbers up).

But much of this gas will never be produced. It is too deep to be
economical, or stranded in small deposits that aren’t worth the drilling

A more likely prediction of what we have on hand is their Probable
category, which totals 550 trillion cubic feet. The Potential Gas
Committee says that it is likely that half of this will actually be
produced. We already have 273 trillion cubic feet in proven reserves
(found, tapped, producing or ready to be produced).

So that suggests a natural gas supply of only 23 years, not 100. And if
we do what the gas industry wants us to do -- convert out transportation
fleet to run on natural gas -- we will deplete our reserves even faster.

Oil production in the US has been declining since 1970-71. You can see a
chart showing the rise and fall at
http://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/hist/LeafHandler.ashx?n=PET&s=MCRFPUS2&f=A .
As you can see, it's not a smooth curve. It has little ups and down but
the long term trend is clear. The last three years have seen an increase
in oil production (both crude oil, and "crude oil plus natural gas plant
liquids" but we don't know if that will be a long term trend or just
another little blip in the long decline.

US oil production + natural gas plant liquids in 2011 was 2.9 billion

US oil consumption in 2011 was 6.9 billion barrels of oil.

Do the math. US oil production would have to increase 240% in order to
meet US oil needs from US oil production.

The world situation is even worse.

Worldwide, Crude oil production only increased .67%, 2005 to 2011
(that's less than 1%), while world oil consumption increased 3.9%.

"Total oil production", which includes natural gas plant liquids and
corn ethanol, rose 3.2% for that same period. Corn ethanol production
was up 187%.

Check my data for yourselves at the Dept of Energy's Energy Information
Agency -- http://www.eia.gov/petroleum/data.cfm .

So consumption is increasing faster than production, which is producing
a slow but steady drawing down of oil stocks worldwide.

I don't know where the CERA fellow gets his optimism. Fracking is not
new, it's been around for a long time. The horizontal drilling schtick
is new, but this sounded more like hype designed to boost the stock
price of oil and gas companies, and less like a sober objective review
of the facts from a sustainability viewpoint.

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