[Marxism] Nader and Peak Oil

sartesian sartesian at earthlink.net
Sun Jun 8 07:50:19 MDT 2008

Clearly, I do not subscribe to peak oil theories.  Never have, never
will.  But if the theory is thought to explain current oil price
movements, can the theory answer these questions:

1. What makes oil different than other minerals? If Hubbert in his bell
curve is indeed describing the "natural" course of production of a
mineral, then is there a bell curve governing production of... coal?
copper?  tin?

2. Fair warning:  before answering (1)-- one of Hubbert's initial
studies was on the coming shortage of.... coal.

3. Prices for copper have doubled and tripled from "historic norms" over
the past few years: is this evidence of a coming shortage of copper?
And gold?  Are we now facing a looming shortage of gold?

4. Peak oil theory is based on a correlation of reserves to output-- 
with declining (or in JB's case--flat) output the product of depleted
reserves-- yet  several countries show  production has declined while
"normal" "usual" reserves (excluding super-heavy, shale, and sand based
reserves) have increased.  Venezuela being the most obvious case.  Prior
to OPEC 1, Venezuela was the world's largest producer.  Production rates
declined over the 70s and 80s while usual reserves of light crude

5. As a subset of  (4)--Actual production histories show that reserves,
actual reserves as defined by the SEC-- a quantity of oil that can be
produced in a defined period of time (usually 20-30 years), with
existing technology, and at a profit-- increase as production increases.
Peak oil theorists significantly revised their estimates of reserves
upwards during the 1990s.   How then, given the restrictions on capital
expenditure by the oil companies, and targeting of expenditures  on
development rather than exploration (thus limiting the identification of
new reserves), are we now certain that  this, 2008, is the peak?

6. If, has been proven, advanced technologies-- seismic imaging,
horizontal drilling, computer assisted exploration and production-- 
increase reserve estimates and maintain the life of fields long after
peak theorists predicted their end (North Sea fields being the case  in
point), why are further advances in technology incapable of repeating
this extension?

7. If, has been proven, current technologies are capable of  extracting
usable grade petroleum from super-heavy sources-- Athabasca, Orinoco-- 
why are the super-heavy reserves not included in peak oil theory
calculations?   If the answer is cost-- then that is no answer to the
peak oil theory which argues on depletion of the available, limited,
resource.   Cost is a social product, not a natural one.

8. If historically dramatic changes in oil prices have served to
redistribute profits, as in OPEC 1 and OPEC 2, and have served the
interests of the ruling strata of the ruling class (and clearly this has
been the case) economically (recycling petro-dollars, reducing standards
of living, driving austerity forward, etc.) and socially (placing the
Soviets under tremendous pressure), why are these price increases
different? (Sounds like one of the Passover questions, doesn't it?).

9. I thank all for their indulgence on this matter, and promise to
refrain from further argument on peak oil theory.

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