Oil and Overproduction

Mark Jones markjones011 at tiscali.co.uk
Tue Jan 14 06:11:56 MST 2003

Domhnall wrote:
>  I was very
> uncomfortable with Mark’s apparent outright dismissal of
> alternative forms
> of energy. If he could forward me details I would be very
> interested – I am
> about to start work on a paper on Energy and would be keen to obtain any
> such information. Louis Proyect also was very harsh in relation to
> hydroelectricity – something which supplies a large proportion of Irish
> electricity at present.

This is a huge topic but it has been covered a lot in fora like the energy
resources discussion list
and a zillion other places, including right here and the A-List (check the
archives). I don't dismiss alternatives, since they will one day make the
difference between life and death, but I say that any discussion of the
alternatives must begin with a working model of a human society using 90%
less energy than it does today. Otherwise the discussion is just vacuous.
No-one has yet managed to make a single windmill or solar panel using energy
from renewable, i.e. non-fossil sources. This is the problem in a nutshell.
How do you sustain in existence a large, ramified,densely-ntworked, highly
capitalised, highly entropic, massively energy using, science and technology
when you no longer have the energy? Unless you can answer this question then
you have no right to assume that the science and technology will even exist
which will help you develop 'alternatives'. People rarely address this
question. That is because they are in denial about what is happening: the
collapse of capitalism's energy-base, which means the collapse of
capitalism; and instead of following thru the logic, there is a tendency to
indulge wishful thinking about 'alternatives'.
> I also would be critical of the exclusion of any consideration of Natural
> Gas from an attempt at a worldwide analysis – and what about
> coal? Natural
> Gas is becoming much more significant to European consumers as it is much
> more available and relatively untapped. The possibilities of
> hydrogen-powered automobiles were ignored – okay so it costs
> about 6 times
> more just now – but that will come down dramatically with improvements in
> technology. Things do not have to be that bad, not necessarily anyway.

Natural gas will run out very quickly and already is in the USA and in
western Europe. Britain is about to become a major gas importer again. Coal
will case to energetically extractable within 50 years, i.e. any form of
energy-mining itself requires an energy-investment. The key thing here is
the Energy Return on Energy Invested (EROI). As oil extraction has got more
difficult, the EROI has declined. At a certain point there will be less
energy in a barrel of oil, or ton of coal, than the energy required to
extract and process it. That is the point at which the Oil Era will have
ended forever. It will happen in this century. Hydrogen btw is not a source
of energy, it is only a carrier of energy. Releasing free H2 from water
requires more energy input than is contained in the H2 thus released. Where
will this energy come from? No-one among the hydrogen-hypers is ever able to
answer this simple question. Conclusion: hydrogen will never happen as an
alternative to petroleum.
> I was very surprised by Mark’s linkage of oil production shortages in the
> USSR with the fall of 1991 – something I haven’t came across
> before. Perhaps
> he can point me to some details?

I've written a load of stuff on this, it's all in the archives.

> One point which I was surprised no-one raised was the alleged
> ability of the
> US to use all external supplies of oil up while conserving the
> bulk of that
> on their own territory. Is this true?

No, it's not true at all. US oil production has been in steep decline and
the US now has to import 60% of its oil requirements THAT is already enough
to explain everything that is going on in the world right now.

Mark Jones

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