The Age of Cheap Oil & Gas Begins
Scientific American: Another 40 million barrels per day of global oil production looms on the near horizon. Geopolitics will never be the same.
A world of growing and geographically diversified oil supply will not only suppress prices, but also promote competition among suppliers and make it more difficult for producers to use energy sales in pursuit of political ends.
__ Scientific American: An Additional 40 mm bpd global production looms
John Shaw, chair of Harvard’s Earth and Planetary Sciences Department, recently observed: “It’s fair to say we’re not at the end of this [shale] era, we’re at the very beginning.”5
He is precisely correct. In recent years, the technology deployed in America’s shale fields has advanced more rapidly than in any other segment of the energy industry. Shale 2.0 promises to ultimately yield break-even costs of $5–$20 per barrel—in the same range as Saudi Arabia’s vaunted low-cost fields.
Advanced societies are lucky that inexpensive new sources of oil & gas are coming online. No other form of on-demand, high quality, affordable, and abundant energy is available to fill the gap. Nuclear fission energy has been neglected and spurned, with clean-safe-affordable new technologies ignored by Luddite policy-makers. Coal has been rejected, just as far cleaner methods for mining and burning coal have been developed. Nuclear fusion is still multiple decades from viability as a commercial power source. And green energy?
Green Energy is a Masochist’s Dream
Denmark and Germany are beginning to suffer from their cult-like devotion to wind energy. Industrial electricity prices are shooting through the roof, facing large employers with the need to move operations overseas if possible.
It is in Denmark that the wind energy cult has held sway the longest and deepest. Germany is not far behind. Both nations are beginning to pay the price for betting their energy and economic futures on technologies that cannot guarantee the affordable, high quality power on demand that modern industry demands.
Denmark’s Climate and Energy Lars Christian Lilleholt has just slashed support for offshore wind projects in an effort to cut billions of Danish kroner from the cost to power consumers of being forced to perpetually subsidise wind power.
Investment in green boondoggle companies drops whenever governments can no longer afford costly (and corrupt) subsidies and mandates.
The idiot US President Obama continues to squander many $billions of scarce resources on destructive — and soon to be bankrupt — big wind and big solar projects. Most investors in these projects just happen to be financial and political supporters of Obama, in a monumental coincidence too often ignored by mass media.
Cheap Oil & Gas Can be a Bridge to More Advanced Energy Technologies
More advanced energy technologies — particularly advanced nuclear fission and eventually controlled nuclear fusion — require decades to perfect. Fortunately, we have decades worth of cheap oil & gas. With newer technologies, coal can be cleanly used to produce affordable, high quality on-demand power. Abundant methane hydrates exist in quantities that dwarf other hydrocarbon resources.
With the use of nuclear process heat, massive resources of oil sands, heavy oils, kerogens, and other low-quality hydrocarbons suddenly become affordable, plentiful, and clean feedstocks for production of fuels, polymers, fertilisers, lubricants, and other high value materials.
The Ultimate Goal is Cheap, Clean, Scalable Nuclear Power
A brief examination of the energy density chart below will reveal that nuclear power is superior by orders of magnitude in energy density, to all other known forms of energy. Nuclear is already the safest form of large-scale power generation in existence, but much more needs to be done to make nuclear energy safer, cleaner, more affordable, more scalable, and more “fool-proof.” More efficient forms of nuclear fission could power advanced societies for hundreds of thousands of years. Nuclear fusion could power a trans-solar system human future into the indefinite future.
The Future is About Innovation and Disruptive Technologies
Dimwitted journalists and analysts talk about oil prices as if high oil prices drive prosperity. That is only true in corrupt patronage states such as OPEC, Russia, etc. Sustainable prosperity is driven by innovation and technologies that disrupt the established order. The brittle League states would not survive a future of disruptive innovation which would accompany an unleashing of the human potential.
Are we now “in crisis” and “entering an age of scarcity”? You can see anything you like in a crystal ball. But almost without exception, the relevant data – the long-run economic trends – suggest precisely the opposite. The appropriate measures of scarcity – the costs of natural resources in human labor, and their prices relative to wages and to other goods – all suggest that natural resources have been becoming less scarce over the long run, right up to the present. __ Julian Simon
A positive vision of the future built on far-sighted disruptive innovation, leading to abundant expansion of human possibility, is totally alien to contemporary culture. Governments, media, universities, foundations, think tanks, activist groups, government lobbies and parasites — all of those with the loudest microphones, in other words — are oriented toward scarcity and quasi-doom. The “solutions” to the problems foreseen by these corrupt institutions involves a continuous tightening of the hold on power by these power structures. At the same time, individuals are meant to cede power and control over their own futures to the interlocking centralised power hierarchies.
Fortunately, a large number of disruptive and potentially disruptive innovations are in the pipeline. These innovations will allow individuals and larger groups to bypass the central power structures, in order to develop parallel and shadow infrastructures of all types. This bypass operation will make underlying societies more robustly resilient and anti-fragile. The prevailing institutions of the power elite will not like to be bypassed. They will take whatever steps they can to maintain their positions at the top of the hierarchies.
Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst. It is never too early or late to have a Dangerous Childhood.
Venezuela: Drowning in oil, but suffocating on socialism. What we are seeing in Venezuela and to a lesser degree in Brasil, may presage Russia’s condition before the collapse and disintegration.