Fracking and peak oil


in Economics, Politics, The environment

The sudden abundance of oil in the United States in fact reflects a global scarcity. The shale boom bas been used to dismiss evidence of peak oil; in fact, the boom is its latest symptom. The era of easily accessible, cheaply produced, and ever increasing supplies of conventional oil that shaped the politics of the twentieth century is passing away. ExxonMobil, the world’s largest corporation, publishes an annual scenario, The Outlook for Energy, which lays out a picture each year of expanding populations, growing consumption, and the continually increasing demand for energy on which its own share value depends. But even ExxonMobil now acknowledges, toward the end of the 2013 report, that the supply of conventional oil has reached a peak and will gradually decline. [p. 38] The peak reflects the fact that oil firms have already pumped from the ground roughly half the world’s recoverable stores of conventional oil, and will produce the remainder at slower rates and with increasing difficulty.

Humankind has now consumed about two trillion barrels of oil since the rise of the modern petroleum industry in the 1860s. It is worth repeating that burning the first trillion took about 130 years, but we went through the second trillion in only twenty-two years. Estimates differ on how soon the peak in the supply of unconventional oil or other fossil fuels will arrive. But under any scenario, the rate of their depletion is astonishing.

Mitchell, Timothy. Carbon Democracy: Political Power in the Age of Oil. Verso; London. 2013. p. 259-60

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. July 10, 2017 at 4:27 pm

Peak Oil and the New Carbon Boom
Timothy Mitchell ▪ June 25, 2013

This essay is adapted from the afterword to the paperback edition of Timothy Mitchell’s Carbon Democracy, out next month from Verso Books.

. January 28, 2020 at 11:58 am

America exported more crude oil and refined petroleum products in September than it imported, the first time it has been a net exporter of oil for a whole month since records began in the 1940s. Boosted by production from lighter shale oil, America’s net exports averaged 89,000 barrels a day in September, the difference between the 8.7m it imported and the 8.8m it exported. American refineries still rely on heavier foreign crude oil.

. January 28, 2020 at 1:41 pm

Chevron said it would record impairments of more than $10bn in its fourth quarter. More than half of the write-down comes from shale assets in the Appalachian region. An abundance of shale gas has depressed prices, which are at their lowest in 20 years.

America’s boundless production in shale energy has also kept down oil prices. In an agreement by which they hope to shore up prices, opec and Russia agreed to cut output by another 500,000 barrels a day, extending a strategy started in 2016. Saudi Arabia wanted deeper reductions, which were resisted by Russia.

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