SocraticGadfly: Earth Day 50, Part 2: Peak Oil was true

April 22, 2020

Earth Day 50, Part 2: Peak Oil was true

I have blogged off and on about Peak Oil for a decade or so.

I was an active commenter on places like the old Oil Drum. Remember folks like Jerome á Paris and others.

Sadly, it eventually folded up.

That was in part over the Bakken find in North Dakota, followed by the Eagle Ford in Texas. After it folded, the new round of fracking in the Permian came along and many people said it had finally, totally disproven King Hubbert.

Had it?

Hubbert's whole idea was based on the rational exploration for new oil with new technology when old, conventional oil became too pricey for a variety of factors.

None of that actually happened.

We know now that a lot of the fracking, especially a WHOLE LOT of the fracking in the newest developments in the Permian, was underwater from the start, and drillers chased more wells for the same reason Aubrey McClendon did with Chesapeake. He was facing a giant Ponzi scheme. And, unable to avoid it longer, he committed suicide, cursorily investigated, and his wife got his life insurance.

Well, it's true that we have well exceeded our 1970 peak. On paper.

But, if I whack off 25 percent of today's production, a reasonable guess as to what percentage is underwater, and following Hubbert's sanity-based (always a short commodity in the awl bidness) reasoning, we haven't.

Now, it's true that there may have been the occasional well in the past that was not profitable. But, once the government started regulating prices, starting here in Tex-ass with the Railroad Commission really moving into oil (shipped on rail cars in the 1930s) over the "hot oil" fights, that's not been true until now.

So, no, if you're counting profitable oil, versus unprofitable oil that shouldn't be getting pumped right now, we haven't proven Peak Oil wrong.

And we won't in the future.

The Permian wells that have been cannibalizing each other? I suspect forced closures is going to affect some subterranean pressure issues. Reopening them on condition of refracking them in 2-3 years will just be more expensive.

Permian drillers, and the lying banks subsidizing them, have, to take a coronavirus idea that applies perfectly because of the steep production curve of a fracked well, have ramped up the curve of production, versus climate change, rather than flattening it and nudging the world more toward energy alternatives.

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