Peak Oil Myths
Michael Lynch, the former director for Asian energy and security at the Center for International Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, debunks some of the claims surrounding peak oil, in an op-ed at the New York Times. Here's a few of the highlights:
On the claim that oil companies are extracting increasing amounts of water instead of oil:
But this is hardly a concern -- the buildup is caused by the Saudis pumping seawater into the field to keep pressure up and make extraction easier. The global average for water in oil field yields is estimated to be as high as 75 percent.
On the claim that we're only discovering one new barrel of oil for every 3 or 4 that we pump:
When a new field is found, it is given a size estimate that indicates how much is thought to be recoverable at that point in time. But as years pass, the estimate is almost always revised upward, either because more pockets of oil are found in the field or because new technology makes it possible to extract oil that was previously unreachable. Yet because petroleum geologists don't report that additional recoverable oil as "newly discovered," the peak oil advocates tend to ignore it. In truth, the combination of new discoveries and revisions to size estimates of older fields has been keeping pace with production for many years.
Actually, the consensus among geologists is that there are some 10 trillion barrels out there. A century ago, only 10 percent of it was considered recoverable, but improvements in technology should allow us to recover some 35 percent -- another 2.5 trillion barrels -- in an economically viable way.