Posted by Heading Out on May 26, 2013 - 5:28am
Tags: coal-fired power, electric vehicles, germany, heat pumps, hirsch report, lng terminals, russian natural gas, yamal [list all tags]
We have reached, I would suppose, a period of complacency in the perception of the coming of Peak Oil. We are in a period where, as recent posts have shown, the promises of bountiful supply are built on increasingly tenuous propositions. Unfortunately, the evolving story of the mess that we are heading into is at a point where the critical aspects of the problem rate minor paragraphs in articles that largely talk about something else. And the potential of the fossil fuels that lie within shale have commentators drooling over the benefits that will come from this abundant resource. Unfortunately, within this euphoria there are sufficient concerns that need airing, since overall, the situation has not changed that much since the Hirsch Report was published, just over eight years ago.
One of the points that was made in that report was that it would take some twenty years for new technologies to mitigate the foreseen shortages of liquid fossil fuels, made when gasoline prices averaged some $2 a gallon. Driven by concerns over climate change, there has been a significant effort to find alternate fuel options that can provide a renewable option. And the hopes for these producers lead to predictions of a different future.
The British Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has just released a report on the future of coal-fired power plants in Germany, Spain and the Netherlands. It notes that although Germany will open more coal-fired power plants this year than at any time within the past twenty years, the future for coal is not that promising. In rough numbers, Germany has a peak demand of 85 GW of electricity with coal and lignite capacity of around 47.6 GW in 2011. From then until 2015, an additional 10.7 GW of coal-fired plant will come on line. The DECC report notes that while an additional 2.7 GW of plant are in development they have not advanced and, it is suggested, they will likely be cancelled. Some 22 coal-fired projects have been cancelled, and four postponed in recent years. A new plant does not spring, like corn, fresh out of the ground within months of planting. Rather there are years of effort, and millions invested, before power starts to flow. The report brings these views to the following:
We conclude that further new projects to build coal-fired generation in Germany, the Netherlands, and Spain are all very unlikely.
Posted by Rembrandt on May 20, 2013 - 5:05am
Tags: conference, economics, edinburgh, electricity, energy, fossil fuels, global energy systems, nuclear, renewable electricity, shale oil, unconventional, united kingdom [list all tags]
Our energy system is evolving due to depletion of cheap fossil fuels and the need for carbon emission constraints. Government and business are under pressure to tackle the energy challenges of rising energy costs, energy security, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We witness rapid changes across countries as this evolution takes place, steered both by markets (investment decisions) and government (policy decisions).
It is essential for energy professionals to stay well informed with the latest insights in this evolving world. For this reason, Euan Mearns of The Oil Drum, myself and several others, are organizing the first three-day Global Energy Systems conference, which will take place in Edinburgh, United Kingdom from June 26 - 28 2013. The conference is meant to deliver key updates on the most pressing energy issues and challenges facing our energy system, as well as providing a forum for exchange of substantially different viewpoints. It is supported by several universities and research institutes including University of Aberdeen, University of Edinburgh, Oxford Research Group, Chatham House and others.
The scope is deliberately very broad, covering most primary energy sources, so that a global view of the current energy system can be presented. Session topics include “the limits to easily accessible fossil fuels”, “frontier fossil fuel technologies and basins”, “the viability of nuclear power”, “the costs and benefits of fossil versus renewable electricity”, and “the economics and policy of energy systems”. A few of our confirmed speakers include Michael Kumhof (IMF), Sir David King (former Head Smith School Oxford University), Friedrich Schulte (Head of Technologies RWE), Dr. William Blyth (Director Oxford Energy Associates) , Peter Jackson (IHS CERA), Lord Ron Oxburgh (House of Lords UK Parliament), Richard Stainsby (Chief Technologiest UK National Nuclear Laboratories), Alexander Naumov (Group Economics BP), Guy de Kort (Shell Vice President GTL), and Tatiana Mitrova (Head Oil & Gas Energy Research Institute Russian Academy of Sciences).
Read below the fold for an overview of the conference programme and confirmed speakers to date.
News of the future was, in my youth, something that one found by crossing the palm of a lady in a dark tent with a piece or two of silver (or the modern equivalent) at one of the fairs that came to town. Such opportunities still exist, with all the caveats that existed back then likely still being in force. However, projecting the future, whether of the weather, the likely corn crop this year in the United States, or the production of crude oil by the nations of the world has become a much bigger business with copious tables, graphs and theories replacing the rather worn pack of cards or crystal ball of my youthful experience.
Our part of the world underwent a drought last year severe enough to kill several trees in our yard, for example, as well as hurting the corn crop. This year, corn plantings have been severely impacted by the heavy rains and cold weather, so that decisions on crop plantings have become more complicated and delayed, with follow-on impacts on the ultimate yield in a number of Midwestern states. Corn yield apparently falls at an average rate of 2.3 bushels per acre per day of delay in northern Wisconsin. These changing conditions make it difficult to assess how much ethanol, for example, will be available to meet demand, although the latest EIA TWIP holds out some optimism for this year.
The impact of the drought on corn prices, and the consequent fall in ethanol production, as production costs rose, are directly visible from their plot of the two over the last year.
However, with the weather impacts still being assessed, it is already being concluded that the US corn crop is unlikely to reach the record level of close to 14.6 billion bushels that were earlier projected. It still, however, has the potential to reach around 12.3 billion bushels, which would satisfy the just under 5 billion bushel need for ethanol, as well as other demands of the market. By May 12 only 28% of this year's expected crop had been planted, in contrast with a normal year where 65% would be in the ground. Thus, even the relatively short-term projections of the EIA could yet be in trouble for this year.
Posted by Heading Out on May 12, 2013 - 1:20pm
Tags: bp energy outlook, citigroup, energy efficiency, exxonmobil, fuel efficiency, natural gas demand, shell, vehicle miles driven [list all tags]
Perceptions based on perhaps too small a collection of information can lead into opinions that, on investigation, turn out to be incorrect. Just recently a couple of friends had mentioned that charities that they are associated with were seeing a decline in donations. I built this into a picture of the general public being less able to afford earlier levels of giving, perhaps because of the continued impact of higher costs of fuel. However, the perception is as a general statement, wrong, and (via the National Park Service from The Giving Institute) I learned that:
Americans gave more than $298.42 billion in 2011 to their favorite causes despite the economic conditions. Total giving was up 4 percent from $286.91 in 2010. This slight increase is reflective of recovering economic confidence.
The greatest portion of charitable giving, $217.79 billion, was given by individuals or household donors. Gifts from individuals represented 73 percent of all contributed dollars, similar to figures for 2010.
In the perception that is becoming increasingly prevalent on the future of energy supplies, and particularly on crude oil, the current adequacy of supply is projected forward to anticipate no problems with supply in the future. Peak oil is now suggested to occur not because the supply is limited, but because with the increasing use of renewable energy, demand will peak, and then decline. Bloomberg New Energy Finance founder Michael Liebreich is quoted as projecting that the growth in fossil fuel use will almost stop by 2030, while Citi Commodity Researchers are suggesting that the increases in prices will drive increases in efficiency that will bring a peak in oil demand “much sooner than the market expects.”
On 18th September 2014 the Scottish People will have a referendum on their future within the United Kingdom where they will be asked the simple question: Should Scotland be an Independent Country? Yes or No.
Should the people say yes then this will not only have far reaching political and socio-economic consequences for Scotland and the rest of the UK but it will also leave the rest of the UK’s energy security in a parlous state since the bulk of the remaining oil and gas reserves of the North Sea and Atlantic margin lie in Scottish waters. Or is it that simple?
The University of Aberdeen will host a two day conference / debate on The Politics of Oil and Gas in a Changing UK on the 8th and 9th of May 2013. Entrance is free for all those who wish to attend.
Posted by Rune Likvern on April 29, 2013 - 3:40am
Tags: average tight oil well, bakken north dakota, bakken production forecast, decline rates tight oil wells, ndic, red queen, tight oil, tight oil production, typical tight oil well [list all tags]
In this post I present the results from dynamic simulations using the typical tight oil well for the Bakken as recently presented by the North Dakota Industrial Commission (NDIC), together with the “2011 average” well as defined from actual production data from around 240 wells that were reported to have started producing from June through December 2011.
This post is an update and extension to my earlier post “Is Shale Oil Production from Bakken Headed for a Run with “The Red Queen”?” which was reposted here.
The use of the phrase “Typical Bakken Well” by NDIC as shown in Figure 01 is here believed to depict what is to be expected from the average tight oil well.
The results from the dynamic simulations show:
- If the “Typical Bakken Well” is what NDIC recently has presented, total production from Bakken (the portion that lies in North Dakota) should have been around 1.1 Mb/d in February 2013, refer also to Figure 03.
- Reported production from Bakken by NDIC as of February 2013 was 0.7 Mb/d.
- Actual production data shows that the first year’s production for the average well in Bakken (North Dakota) presently is around 55% of the “Typical Bakken Well” presented by NDIC.
- The results from the simulations anticipate a slowdown for the annual growth in oil production from Bakken (ND) through 2013 and 2014.
Figure 01: The chart above is taken from the NDIC/DMR presentation Recent presentations “Tribal Leader Summit” 09-05-12 slide no 5 (pdf; 8.7 MB). The chart shows NDIC’s expected average daily oil production by year. The first number (on the y-axis) is the IP (Initial Production) number, and this is followed by the average daily production by year.
The well shown above has a first year total oil production of 156 kb (427 Bbl/d).
Similar well profiles may be found in other NDIC presentations.
Posted by Heading Out on April 28, 2013 - 5:13am
Tags: crude oil production, liquid fuels, momr, north american production, oil demand, opec, saudi crude production [list all tags]
Just this month, Saudi Aramco announced that production had begun at their Manifa oilfield, and by July would be supplying up to 500 kbd to the new refinery that is being built at Jamail with the collaboration of Total. The first oil from the refinery is expected to ship in August, and both projects are currently ahead of schedule. Manifa will further increase in production next year, to 900 kbd, with the additional flow going to the Yanbu refinery being built with the collaboration of Sinopec. Both these refineries are designed to take heavy crude, and can also accept oil from the ongoing projects to expand production at Safaniya. Collectively this is said to ensure that the company will be able to achieve a maximum sustainable production of 12 mbd.
The gains in available reserves are required as the current production from Ghawar and the other major fields in the Kingdom continue to decline in production, as was discussed last year. I remain relatively convinced that Saudi Aramco will not increase their crude oil production above 10 mbd, despite the wishes and projections of others that they will end up doing so. By the time that their domestic consumption reaches the point that it lowers exports to a level that would hurt the KSA economy at current prices, the shortages globally will have raised the price sufficiently that the available production at that time will continue to suffice to meet their needs. (This is, however, a projection only for this decade).
This month’s OPEC Monthly Oil Market Report continues to anticipate a significant increase in available crude over the next three years, although this is indirectly recognized through the growth in crude distillation unit (CDU) capacity around the globe in that interval.
Posted by Heading Out on April 21, 2013 - 1:10pm
Tags: 2030, asian pacific, bp energy outlook, china, coal production, crude oil production, natural gas production, north america, opec [list all tags]
I suspect I should apologize. Here I am talking about the future projections for energy production made by companies such as ExxonMobil and Shell, as though they were still the key and only players in the world. Yet in reality, Saudi Aramco (12.5 mbdoe), Gazprom (9.7 mbdoe) and National Iranian Oil (6.4 mbdoe) appear in the list before ExxonMobil arrives (at 5.3 mbdoe), and then there is PetroChina (at 4.4 mbdoe) before BP arrives (at 4.1 mbdoe), and it is only then that we find Shell, which lies 7th at 3.9 mbdoe.
So the projections of the ExxonMobil’s of the world are of somewhat lesser value than they might have been at one time. (For those curious, the list continues with Pemex (at 3.6 mbdoe), Chevron (at 3.5 mbdoe) and Kuwait Petroleum Co (3.2 mbdoe). This not only rounds out the top ten, it also closes out the list of those producing more than 3 mbdoe. (Abu Dhabi comes next at 2.9 mbdoe).
Yet with those caveats, and recognizing that Saudi Arabia now produces only slightly less than ExxonMobil, Shell and BP combined, let me review the BP forecast, having already completed that for ExxonMobil and Shell. While the latter two looked sufficiently far into the future as to obfuscate a little their shorter-term projections, BP is still focusing on the relatively short-term that runs to 2030.
Within that time frame, BP expects overall energy demand to grow by 36%, though like the ExxonMobil projection, BP expects that a “tremendous increase” in energy efficiency will continue to develop, thereby slowing the need for future resources. They point out that without this improvement in efficiency, global energy supply will need to double by 2030 in order to sustain economic growth.
This is particularly true for the United States, which BP sees approaching self-sufficiency in Energy, while it is the continued growth in demand from countries such as China, India and the Asian Pacific countries that provide most of additional need. Comparing their view from 2 years ago with the present there does not appear to be much change in the overall forecast. (Note that after the first two figures all the remainder come from the 2030 BP Energy Outlook).
Figure 1. Comparison of BP data and projections for population growth between their 2011 report (left) and that for 2013. (right)
Figure 2. Comparison of current and anticipated energy demand through 2030, from 2011 (left) and 2013 (right) BP reports.
The combined crude oil production of the five main international oil companies (Exxon, BP, Shell, Chevron and Total) hit an historic high in 2004. Since then, it has fallen by 25.8%, despite large increases in investments.
Click to enlarge
Recently, I explained how high oil prices can bring on financial collapse for oil importers. In this post, I’ll discuss the flip side of the situation: how oil exporters reach financial collapse.
Unfortunately, we have many examples of countries that were oil exporters, but are dealing with collapse situations. Egypt, Syria, and Yemen all have had political disruptions since 2011. These may not be called financial collapse, but they all took place as the country’s oil exports decreased and as the price of imported food rose. Another example is the Former Soviet Union (FSU). It collapsed in 1991, after a period of low oil prices, in what looks very much like a financial collapse.
There are several dynamics at work in the financial collapse of oil exporters:
- Oil exporters are often dependent on oil export revenue to fund government programs.
- The need for government programs grows as population grows and as the price of food rises.
- The amount of oil that can be extracted in a given year often declines over time, as initial stores are depleted.
- Exports often decline even more rapidly than oil supply, because of rising oil consumption as population grows.
In general, high oil prices are good for oil exporters (except the effect on food prices). At the same time, oil importers strongly prefer low oil prices. As a result, we end up with a price tug of war between oil importers and oil exporters.
One additional issue is declining Energy Return on Energy Invested. Countries often have the option of reducing their rate of decline by adding production in areas which are more expensive to drill (say deeper, smaller locations offshore Norway) or by using enhanced oil recovery methods. Such approaches add costs (and energy use), and further add to the price that oil exporters need for their product.
Egypt, Syria, and Yemen
Egypt, Syria, and Yemen are three countries that the press would say are suffering from the continuing impact of the Arab Spring revolutions, which began in 2011, or of civil war. The similarity of the oil production and consumption charts for the three countries (shown below) suggests that declining oil exports likely played a major role as well.