11 Jan 2006
Already Past the Peak?
Here is a report worth looking at. It is called “Alberta oil sands will be world’s largest source of new crude oil by 2010: CIBC”, and is interesting in that it is produced by a respectable Canadian bank, and sets out their concerns about the future of oil supplies. One quote from the article is “Alberta’s oil sands will become the most important source of new oil in the world by 2010 as conventional crude dries up”. If Alberta’s oil sands are the most important source of new oil by 2010 then we are in trouble. The end of the age of cheap oil has indeed arrived. Tar sands are extractable, but with a much higher cost, both financial and environmental. They also take almost as much energy to extract as we get from them (they have an Energy Returned on Energy Invested (ERoEI) rating of around 1.5). Tar sands are really scraping the barrel (so to speak).
The report adds, almost as a casual aside, that “conventional oil production around the world apparently peaked in 2004”. It is the thing that we’ll see with oil peak, it will be denied as we approach it, denied as we go over it, and then spoken about as though everyone had always known about it and it was just a fact of life once we are beyond it. It is an interesting article, an insight into nervous bank boardrooms the world over.