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The term “Peak Oil” was born in January 2001 when Colin Campbell formed the Association for the Study of Peak Oil & Gas (ASPO). Now, Peak Oil is used thousands of times a day by journalists, politicians, industry leaders, economists, scientists and countless others around the globe. Peak Oil is not the end of oil but it tells us the end is in sight. Anyone interested in food production, economic growth, climate change or global security needs to understand this new reality.

In Peeking at Peak Oil Professor Kjell Aleklett, President of ASPO International and head of the world’s leading research group on Peak Oil, describes the decade-long journey of Peak Oil from extremist fringe theory to today’s accepted fact: Global oil production is entering terminal decline. He explains everything you need to know about Peak Oil and its world-changing consequences from an insider’s perspective. In simple steps, Kjell tells us how oil is formed, discovered and produced. He uses science to reveal the errors and deceit of national and international oil authorities, companies and governments too terrified to admit the truth. He describes his personal involvement in the intrigues of the past decade.

What happens when a handful of giant oil fields containing two thirds of our planet’s oil become depleted? Will major oil consumers such as the EU and US face rationing within a decade? Will oil producing nations conserve their own oil when they realize that no one can export oil to them in the future? Does Peak Oil mean Peak Economic Growth? If you want to know the real story about energy today and what the future has in store, then you need to be “Peeking at Peak Oil”.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

Chapter 1. Introduction

Abstract
Our everyday lives are completely dependent upon energy. Normally, we do not give a thought as to how the food on our table, the comfortable temperature of our household, our daily travel, or nearly everything else around us can be related to different forms of energy. We started modestly, using twigs and branches to fuel fires for use in preparing cooked food. Modern celebrity chefs still use the heat from burning wood to cook food but more often they use heat from burning natural gas or from electricity generated in coal-burning power stations. Meals today are prepared from ingredients obtained from all over the world and transported to us using oil. We also need oil for our personal transportation, for heating our homes, and as a raw material for plastics and other chemical products. In fact, our dependence on oil for production and transportation of food and other essentials from far away means that we now cannot live without it.
Kjell Aleklett

Chapter 2. Peak Oil

Abstract
At the start of the new millennium, the expression “Peak Oil” was unknown. Nevertheless, a discussion about when the world’s rate of oil production would reach its maximum had already begun when the geologist M. King Hubbert presented his model for future oil production in the United States in the 1950s. At that time, Hubbert worked for the Shell Company and his model was discussed for the first time at a conference organized by the American Petroleum Institute (API) from the 7th to the 9th of March 1956 at the Plaza Hotel in San Antonio, Texas.
Kjell Aleklett

Chapter 3. A World Addicted to Oil

Abstract
A world addicted to oil was the title of my presentation on Capitol Hill on October 19, 2005. The Worldwatch Institute was host for the presentation. That was the day that the term “Peak Oil” was introduced to the corridors of power in Washington. There was standing room only in the seminar room packed with aides to US representatives, senators, and secretaries.
Kjell Aleklett

Chapter 4. The Global Oil and Gas Factory

Abstract
To discuss Peak Oil it is important that everyone have a similar understanding of what oil is and how the oil that is currently extracted from the Earth by large national oil companies (NOCs) and international oil companies (IOCs) was formed, but rarely, millions of years ago. In purely chemical terms, oil is a blend of molecules consisting of hydrogen and carbon: hydrocarbons. One can regard oil as the end product of a gigantic manufacturing process deep down in the Earth’s crust. The hydrogen and carbon in oil come from water and carbon dioxide that were in circulation in the living world many millions of years ago. It was primarily algae, plankton, and tiny marine plants that bound the hydrogen and carbon into molecules in their bodies and then sank to the bottom of shallow seas and lakes where they accumulated in thick layers of biological sediment.
Kjell Aleklett

Chapter 5. The Art of Discovering an Oilfield

Abstract
Many regard the 27th of August, 1859 as the day that the Oil Age began. It was on that day that Edwin Drake used a drilling technique previously used for mining salt to reach down to an oil fi eld 21 m below the surface of a little island in the middle of a river named Oil Creek near Titusville, Pennsylvania (see Fig. 14.1 ).
Kjell Aleklett

Chapter 6. The Oil Industry’s Vocabulary

Abstract
Sometimes the language used in the oil industry and related organizations can seem confusing. However, when we discuss the future of oil it is important to understand this terminology. The International Energy Agency, IEA, is centrally important in discussions of future oil production. In the IEA’s World Energy Outlook report for 2010, WEO 2010, it gives detailed definitions of various terms used in the oil industry [1]. We use these definitions when we discuss oil and the future:
Kjell Aleklett

Chapter 7. The Art of Producing (Extracting) Oil

Abstract
It is September 28, 2004 and the time has just passed noon. My mobile phone rings. Sweden’s national TV Corporation (SVT) is calling and they want to visit me for an interview. The price of oil has just passed US$50 per barrel so they want to record my comments before their evening news broadcast. At that moment I am eating dates in the office of Abdulla M. Al-Malood who, in 2004, was head of production for the giant oilfield Bab in Abu Dhabi of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Upon hearing this, SVT realizes it will be difficult for them to visit so they satisfy themselves with some comments via telephone. A few minutes later Sweden’s national radio broadcaster rings me with the same agenda. The reason for my visit to the Bab oilfield is to learn more about oil production.
Kjell Aleklett

Chapter 8. The Size of the Tap: The Laws of Physics and Economics

Abstract
Oil can be found underground in oilfields or above ground in storage tanks. When taking oil from a tank the rate of flow is limited by the diameter of the hole, pipe, or tap. However, when taking oil from an oilfield, it is not only the diameter of the oil well or the capacity of other infrastructure that is important. The rate of flow is also controlled by the physics of oil movement through rock.
Kjell Aleklett

Chapter 9. The Elephants: The Giant Oil Fields

Abstract
“Study the past if you would define the future” is a famous saying of Confucius (551-479 BC) (The illustration in Fig. 9.1 is based on a photograph of a carving in Xi’an). The analysis of historical trends is a common form of research. Sometimes, extrapolation of trends is the only way we know to make predictions about the future. Nevertheless, we must be aware that such methods are not precise and divergence of the future from our expectations is possible. When making predictions of the future we must always clearly indicate the conditions and assumptions upon which the predictions are based. By doing so we will be prepared to change our predictions if, for example, new political decisions are made or new facts come to light (Fig. 9.1).
Kjell Aleklett

Chapter 10. Unconventional Oil, NGL, and the Mitigation Wedge

Abstract
As I write this it is the spring of 2011 and if someone mentions “Black Swan” then most people would think of the recent film of the same name. Natalie Portman was awarded an Oscar for her role as the dancing black swan in that film. Those whose attention is more focused on the functioning of our society might think of Nassim Nicholas and his theory of “Black Swan Events.” This refers to unexpected events of large magnitude that are significant from an historical perspective. When I hear the expression “Black Swan” I am reminded of November 22, 2005 when Bruce Robinson and his wife Sue took me and my wife Ann-Cathrine to the Swan River in Perth, Australia, to show us real black swans. Having seen them, I can understand why the first British sailors who found them early in the nineteenth century thought they had arrived in the lair of the Devil himself where everything is black (Fig. 10.1). Their discovery of black swans is just the sort of unexpected event that Nassim Nicholas describes in his theory. After visiting the Swan River I experienced my own personal “Black Swan Event” later that evening.
Kjell Aleklett

Chapter 11. Peak of the Oil Age

Abstract
In late October 2003 The Economist published an article titled, “The End of the Oil Age” [1]. In the article’s introduction reference was made to a statement by Sheikh Yamani who served as Saudi Arabia’s minister of oil and mineral resources from 1962 to 1986, “The Stone Age did not end for lack of stone, and the Oil Age will end long before the world runs out of oil.” The article continued,
Kjell Aleklett

Chapter 12. Oil from Deep Water: The Tail End of Extraction

Abstract
It is the first week of September 2006 and the telephone rings. An enthusiastic reporter from Sweden’s national television network (SVT) tells me that CNN, Fox, the New York Times, and virtually the rest of the world’s media are reporting that a new gigantic oilfield has been found in the Gulf of Mexico. I am invited to visit Stockholm the next morning to participate in a discussion about the fantastic discovery. Of course, I will be asked whether the world can now stop worrying about Peak Oil.
Kjell Aleklett

Chapter 13. Peeking at Saudi Arabia: “Twilight in the Desert”

Abstract
Keynote speakers at the world’s first-ever Peak Oil conference held in Uppsala, Sweden (May 22–23, 2002) were Ali Samsam Bakhtiari from Iran and Matt Simmons from the United States. The Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas, ASPO, was interested to hear Dr. Bakhtiari speak because, in 2001, he had published a critical review of OPEC’s future production capacity which concluded that, “Relying on OPEC to provide the oil required for increasing world demand over the next two decades doesn’t seem justified…” [1]. In 2002 Matt Simmons led Simmons and Company International, a world leading investment bank serving the energy industry. At that time he was particularly interested in conventional natural gas production in the United States. Later (and partly inspired by his attendance at the conference) he became increasingly interested in future global oil production.
Kjell Aleklett

Chapter 14. Russia and the USA: The Oil Pioneers

Abstract
The volume of oil the world currently uses in 3 weeks, 1.7 billion barrels, is equal to all the oil produced during the nineteenth century. The first reported oil production—of 2,000 barrels per year—came from Romania in 1857. However, many regard the beginning of the Oil Age as occurring on August 27, 1859, when the drilling team of Edwin Drake reached a total depth of 21 m (69.5 ft). Near the end of the day the drill bit slipped when it hit a new formation so the team decided to stop and continue the next day (see Fig. 14.1). On the following day, Drake’s driller Billy Smith looked into the hole and was surprised and delighted to see crude oil rising up. Drake was summoned and the oil was brought to the surface with a hand pitcher pump. The oil boom in Pennsylvania had begun. By 1860 the United States had overtaken Rumania in oil production and it remained the world’s ­leading producer until 1898 when Russia took the lead (with the help of the Nobel brothers’ company Branobel, see the section “The Discovery of Oil Seeping Out of the Ground”, Chap. 5).
Kjell Aleklett

Chapter 15. China and Peak Oil

Abstract
In the mid-1950s there was a severe oil shortage in China. Fighter jets and tanks stood still and the buses on Beijing’s streets were fueled from large bags of gas on their roofs. Several drilling teams traveled northeast of Beijing to look for oil. One of those teams was led by the legendary “Iron Man” Wang Jinxi and was to drill in the eastern area of Heilongjiang province. The temperature in that area can drop to below −30°C during winter and just getting the equipment to the drilling site required heroic effort. However, they eventually succeeded and began to drill. The first two holes were dry but on their third attempt they succeeded in finding an oil-bearing layer. On September 26, 1959 they had discovered one of the world’s largest oilfields, Daqing (meaning “Great Celebration”) [1].
Kjell Aleklett

Chapter 16. Peak Transportation

Abstract
The historical path of petroleum, from an unappreciated and mostly inaccessible underground resource to its current status of lifeblood of our technological civilization, began in 1859 in the United States, when (as described in Chap. 14) “Colonel” Edwin Drake drilled his well at Titusville, Pennsylvania. Students of oil history can begin their studies at the Drake Well Museum that features a reconstruction of Drake’s original well and is sited near “Oil Creek” in Cherrytree Township a short distance from Titusville (see Fig. 14.1). As they continue their path of discovery, these students will probably want to visit the oil refinery of Engelsbergs Oljefabiks AB (literally “Engelsberg’s Oilfactory Share Company”). This is the world’s oldest preserved oil refinery that stands on the island of Oljeön (literally, “Oil Island”) in the middle of a lake named Åmänningen in Sweden. To visit this museum one can take the train from Stockholm to the city of Västerås and then change rail lines to travel to the village of Ängelsberg. The rail platform in Ängelsberg lies right near the shore of Åmänningen and if one follows the signs giving directions to Oljeön one comes to a small ferry that transports people to the island in summer. Why is the world’s oldest remaining refinery to be found deep in the Swedish forest on an island in a lake?
Kjell Aleklett

Chapter 17. Peak Oil and Climate Change

Abstract
For most people “climate change” is synonymous with the “greenhouse effect.” A critical factor in climate change is emissions of carbon dioxide, CO2. In this chapter we restrict our discussion primarily to the question of the volume of reserves of fossil fuels that can generate future CO2 emissions.
Kjell Aleklett

Chapter 18. Why Military and Intelligence Agencies Are “Peeking at Peak Oil”

Abstract
In the spring of 2003 I received a telephone call that was, to me, astonishing. A lady introduced herself and told me that she worked for MUST. She and a colleague wanted to come to Uppsala to discuss Peak Oil with me. MUST is Sweden’s Military Intelligence and Security Service (Militära underrättelse- och säkerhetstjänsten). My only previous interaction with MUST had been to watch actors portray its agents in Swedish films. It felt a little strange that someone from this organization now politely but firmly said that they wanted to meet me. On the Swedish Armed Forces website one can read the following about MUST [1]:
Kjell Aleklett

Chapter 19. How Can We Live with Peak Oil?

Abstract
Ernst Solvay was a famous Belgian chemist, industrialist, and philanthropist. Over 100 years ago in 1911, he invited a number of the leading physicists of the age to Brussels to discuss the “new physics,” the physics that would ultimately revolutionize our world and our understanding of the universe. Einstein had already presented his theory of relativity but the atomic structure of nature was still a secret. We did not know the source of the sun’s energy, but the new physics could explain how its energy was transported to our planet. Nobody had heard of the “Big Bang.” In 1911, Conseil Solvay became the world’s first international conference on physics.
Kjell Aleklett

Chapter 20. An Inconvenient Swede

Abstract
“Kjell Aleklett, a perky and persuasive physicist at Uppsala University, talks with characteristic Swedish candour,” is the opening sentence of an article titled, “An Inconvenient Swede” published in the business journal Canadian Business in 2006 [1]. The article was written by Andrew Nikiforuk whom I met in Vancouver at the beginning of that year, shortly after I had testified before a committee of the US House of Representatives [2] (see Fig. 20.1). Andrew and I had a long conversation about oil, Canada’s oil sands, why far too many people try to hide the truth about oil’s future, and why I am so determined to say what I consider to be true. Peeking at Peak Oil is not an autobiography but I have described how my personal experiences have influenced the research of the Global Energy Systems group and vice versa. My interest in Peak Oil was ignited while preparing teaching material in December 2000. Now, a decade later in August 2011, it has led to an invitation to the EU Parliament to describe the research of my Peak Oil-focused research group, Uppsala Global Energy Systems.
Kjell Aleklett

Backmatter

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