Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Fossil fuel withdrawal
The rise of industrialization is largely thanks to cheap fossil fuel. As I've said, it's as if our civilization discovered massive caves filled with batteries -- and for the next 200 years built an infrastructure plugging into that "free" energy.
To quote the pessimistic Mr. Anonymous ...
"The age of fossil fuel powered a meteoric rise in consumption, invention for consumption, and consumption for consumption's sake. Literally all aspects of our lives are contingent on the availability of inexpensive, concentrated, stable and readily transportable energy that it provides.
Our American mythology dictates that there are no practical limits to growth or consumption. However, confirmed by independent geologists, beginning with King Hubbert decades past, the life of an oil field has predictable patterns.
Further, time lines are finite. Touted technical 'innovations' (horizontal drilling, multiple drill heads, 'pumping') have only extracted reserves faster, often exhausting reservoir pressures, destabilizing strata, and leaving more oil trapped in the ground.
Mexico's aging jewel, Cantrell, is dying - with Mexico an importer in 2 years. (In '08 the US imported 11% of its supply from Mexico.)
The North Sea is spent. The UK has literally run out of national assets.
Saudi production figures have proven themselves over time a flexible fiction.
The House of Saud and Aramco are doing silly, desperate things at Khurais and South Ghawar and talk of leaving reserves in the ground for future princely generations.
As we're about to divine, without inexpensive, concentrated, stable and readily transportable energy, everything changes.