One Cubic Mile of Oil

Very interesting article over on Wired with a diagram that puts our energy consumption in perspective. Wow! Now I understand what Michael is talking about when he says the singularity has already happened and it was cheap oil. And I get a much better idea of the gloom and doom side of oil depletion Robin’s talking about. Humans consume 1 cubic mile of oil a year and as an example from the Wired chart- the equivalent is 52 Diablo Canyon sized Nuclear Power Plants running for 50 years!!!

2 thoughts on “One Cubic Mile of Oil”

  1. Hey J, I liked reading the comments on that article even more than the article!

    I agree with some of the responses that “cubic mile” is a little Ameri-centric, but heck, it’s us Americans that need education on this subject.

    We’re going to get it whether we like it or not. And from the man himself: “Education is war.”

    The main idea is EREI, energy return on energy investment. Oil has had the hightest energy return for a minimum investment of work-energy.  Everything else pales in comparison. There is nothing to replace it, except cold-fusion. Since our whole society has been built on the framework of cheap oil, there is no way we can continue to live how we’re living without it. We’re a long way from running our trucking system, by which 85% of the goods show up in your stores, on cold fusion.

    There are many geologists who believe we’ve mined about half of the available oil on the planet; and that would be the easy-to-get-to half; the half that’s just sitting on the top, under pressure, ready to gush forth with the tiniest prick. That easy half is “the cheap half”.

    The other half is deeper, in smaller pockets, and of a lower quality and therefore more difficult, and expensive, to refine. To get to this oil, drillers must inject gas, usually nitrogen, or water, to bring the oil up. Then of course, seperating the oil from this extra material is more time consuming and expensive, as well. Word is that the oil in the world’s largest oil field, the 50 yr old Ghawar field in Saudi Arabia, is now coming out 85% water. In other words, when they pump out of Ghawar, there’s 85% water and only 15% oil. It is just about at the mark where it it unprofitable to mine.

    So, evidence strongly suggests we are at the end of cheap oil. The decline in production and the rise in price are inevitable.

    Look at some of the peak-decline charts of production and you will find that most fields, after they peak, decline quite sharply. Worldwide, we’ve been plateauing, with a flat production for pretty much the past couple of years. Estimates on the decline of producation range from a rosy 1% annually to a dooming 6+% annually. Petroleum Review editor Chris Schrw…bowski once calculated 4% decline.

    I haven’t looked at the figures recently, so my numbers may be off somewhat. But once you get the picture, the details don’t matter as much (to me).

    I had to change my life in preparation for this time when oil is not available to me. It has been written that the mental preparation is half of it. I can’t say I’m prepared to live without petroleum and natural gas, but I’m moving in that direction.

    There is alot of sites on the topic of Peak Oil and you can talk to Eli about it too. He’s the one who turned me on to it.

    In any case, start making a plan!

    The best transportaion to get is a diesel pickup. I made a mistake getting that van, and I am hoping to sell it or trade it in on a diesel pickup.  Worse comes to worse, you can make your own biodiesel.  There is lots of biodiesel up here at present.

    Diesel will get you some decent mileage, and a pickup can be used for all kinds of things. You can put a camper on it and live in it. You can camp somewhere, take the camper off, and drive the pickup around. And the big plus, is you can haul lots of firewood out of the forest.

    If you are going to be in a place where it gets cold, then having a wood stove is going to be essential. Here in Ashland, I have a gas heater, which I’ve used profusely this winter. But if you research the picture on natural gas, it appears we’re in even bigger trouble, and may feel the effects of the peak sooner with gas.

    Thus, the need for firewood, not just for heating, but perhaps cooking too. Of course, you need to be in a place where you have some resources available, and luckily, here in the State of Jefferson, there are abundant resources.

    There is only about a million barrels a day difference between what we are consuming globally and what we are producing. Thus, any geo-political event, or weather event, could tighten supplies such that scarcity could come at ANY TIME.

    Prepare yourself!

    Signed,
    Spooked But Surviving

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