Richard Branson funded group warns peak oil as early as 2015.

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Richard Branson funded group warns peak oil as early as 2015.

Here is the website:

Here is a feed of news reports from the group:

On 10 February 2010 at the Royal Society, six UK companies - Arup, Foster + Partners, Scottish and Southern Energy, Solarcentury, Stagecoach Group and Virgin - joined together to launch the second report of the UK Industry Task-Force on Peak Oil and Energy Security (ITPOES).

The report, titled “The Oil Crunch - a wake-up call for the UK economy”, finds that oil shortages, insecurity of supply and price volatility will destabilise economic, political and social activity within five years.

The Task-Force warns that the UK must not be caught out by the oil crunch in the same way it was with the credit crunch and states that policies to address Peak Oil must be a priority for the new government formed after the 2010 election.


Based on the assessment, we might expect to see the following effects reflected in our economy within the term of the next government:

Markedly higher prices for all forms of travel (air, sea, rail and road)
Increased food prices
Increased general retail prices
Increased domestic utility bills for heating and power
The effects that peak oil may have on different sectors are laid out in this website

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maybe someone will notice

I felt some encouragement after gas prices in the US jumped to over $4 per gallon summer before last.  Maybe if they go up and stay up, we'll get our act together and move to more sustainable fuels.

Mind you, I have no opinion on whether it may be 2015 or 20015 when oil production peaks.  But you have to admit, fossil fuels are finite and one day there won't be enough to be worth mining for.

There are plenty of viable and more sustainable alternatives.

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Does anyone know anything about...

...the alleged existence of a *huge* supply of oil of some sort ( may be shale...)?  So the story goes, it's size is in the neighborhood of Saudi reserves.  This supply is said to be in the northern states (if memory serves, the Dakotas) and it is a recent discovery (no earlier than the past five years.)  I'm skeptical of its existence--it just sounds too good to be true--and I'm wondering if anyone has any solid info on it (as in, something that does *not* come from Mr. Limbaugh's radio program.)



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Yah Connor, the details of

Yah Connor, the details of the oil field that you have don't quite sound right to me based on what I am aware of. It may be true but a field that has only been known about for a very short time and probably has only had a couple of pilot tests run is not one that could be considered to be huge. Or at least it could not be known to be huge.


Consider the north Alaska field known as ANWR. How much oil is there? If you listen to the president of Exxon, it has enough oil to last the USA a century or more. If you listen to the moose huggers, it can't possibly ever produce enough oil to last the USA more than a couple of years before it runs dry. Certainly both stories can't be true.


Who you should listen to is the geologists who came up with the numbers. After all, they are the people who have actually tried to figure the matter out.


As it happens, what is going on is that nobody can ever really know what is underground until it has been removed. We will know how much oil had been there all along once it is used up. Before then, the best that we can do is come up with estimates and confidence levels for any given estimate. Basically, the larger the predicted amount of oil, the less confidence we can have in the prediction.


Perhaps the geologists have come up with a set of numbers. Say for grins that we are 99% certain that there is a year of oil, 50% certain that there is 50 years of oil and 1% certain that there is a century of oil in that field. Care to guess who is using which set of numbers? Heck but if word comes from a well funded group such as Green Peace, they may even have hired their own geologists to make sure that the prediction they run with was bought and paid for. Far from honest but at least the oil companies want predictions that they can use to decide if it is worth spending a few billion dollars in the area. The only thing that hippie tree huggers want is to leave the caribou undisturbed.




Another thing is that we will never really run out of oil. It will just slowly get more expensive until it is no longer worth trying to get more of it. By more expensive, I do not mean in terms of cash that is. The number that really matters is called the EROEI (energy returned on energy invested). Basically, as long as the oil is easy to get to and cheap to refine, then we have a stable and relatively cheap supply.


The closer the oil is to the surface, the easier it is to get out of the ground (more or less). The deeper the oil is, the cheaper it is likely to be to refine it as deep earth temperatures tend to cook the stuff into a lighter grade of product. Really, there is a trade-off between the two factors.


Saudi oil is fairly deep underground so the wells are expensive to drill out but the product has very little tar and other heavy components that need to be dealt with.


Tar sand on the other hand can be pit mined but it is loaded with heavy components that can be turned into lighter ones but at the cost of using some energy to drive the process.


In between the two extremes, there is a gradient where the two factors vary from expensive to get out of the ground to expensive to refine. Now I only skimmed the report in Brian's link but it seems to be fairly alarmist in tone and it is probably predicting a peak in production of known fields that have a fairly specific chemical profile.


Sure, what we have already found and started pumping will run out. Many fields only last for a couple of decades at current production rates. There are however, other reserves. Some have been explored but not yet brought into production (like ANWR), others are known but not practical to develop at current prices (Canadian tar sand comes to mind) and if that is not enough, we certainly have not looked everywhere. For example, there may be a reserve of what is known as methane hydrate at the bottom of the world's oceans. Or there is probably some useful resources unto the north polar ice. As that melts off, it will become cheaper to try to get at it.

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Peak Oil Production

The peak oil theory that I am familiar with deals with peak production, not peak reserves.  If there is a sea of oil somewhere, we still have an issue because we would lack the refinery capacity to make it into a usable product.  On the demand side, we have an insufficient number of refineries (or the wrong types of refineries) to meet growing demand.  On the supply side, we have had peak cheap oil for several years now.  When demand picks up (it is currently low due to the global recession), we start having to use and fund more expensive sources of oil, hence the large run ups in gas prices that we had.

"Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity. ..." -- Thomas Jefferson

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Well sure, there are at

Well sure, there are at least a hundred factors in between the well heads and the gas pump which serve to complicate matters. However, the usual definition of peak oil has to do with the geology of oil producing regions. The fact of the matter is that any resource must be finite in extent and this is where the discussion on peak oil hangs.


Granting that much, we certainly cannot put products out for sale faster than we can make them. However, there are some serious questions regarding the availability of the raw materials. In all honesty though, I don't think that anyone can know with confidence just how much oil remains in the ground.


One factor is that the rate at which new oil fields are found has been declining for about 40 years. However, there is an offset factor in that oil discoveries are the product of exploration and those doing the exploration are motivated by profit. As long as there is enough oil to meet the market demand, there is a reduced incentive to go out and find more. So the major driving force in oil exploration is the rate at which known oil fields tend to decline in production.


When the global economy declines as it has recently, demand also declines and producing oil fields are operated at reduced production levels to keep prices more or less stable. Complicating that is the development of major new economies such as China and India. That much being said, such growing economies cannot sustain enormous growth rates forever and a poor economy will slow them down as people buy less stuff in general.



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