The future of oil

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The future of oil

Postby Giant Communist Robot » Thu Jan 11, 2007 3:52 pm

We're going to have a problem with petroleum supplies in under a century.


I don't think I'll be around to find out. I do think that with shales and sands, there will be plenty of oil for a long time to come. Just more expensive. Maybe advances in technology can help lower the cost.
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Postby bignaf » Fri Jan 12, 2007 12:03 am

we can lump this with "The Human Future" I think. much of the oil we have now, "didn't exist" 40 years ago. what I mean by that, is that as the price of oil went up, it became ecomically profitable to extract oil that was "unextractable." but this trend can only continue up to the point where the average won't be able to afford current quantities of oil. people will but less, causing a dynamic stasis in the price. which will stop the process we mentioned. the "under a century" figure is accounting for this trend, probably too much so, in fact, where is it from? it's too optimistic. "we'll have a problem"? we have a problem now. in under a century there will be no petroeleum for standard everyday use.
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Postby Shapley » Fri Jan 12, 2007 7:22 am

There are alternatives to oil out there now, and research is continuing on a regular basis to find others. The reason they're not finding their way into the mainstream isn't some grand oil-cartel conspiracy, it's simply that oil remains, even at todays prices, a bargain. As oil prices begin to rise to the point that alternative energy sources begin to look promising, energy investors begin to think about shifting their investment dollars from oil other markets, and the price stabilizes, consistent with market forces.

As the world economy grows, the stable value of oil grows with it. However, there is a price/barrel at which other energy sources will become the better value. When that price is reached and sustained, we'll see the market shift to other energy sources.

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Postby Giant Communist Robot » Fri Jan 12, 2007 11:10 am

this trend can only continue up to the point where the average won't be able to afford current quantities of oil. people will but less


So my guess was that as more serious inquiry into extraction from the other sources begins, more work will be done on the technology and the result will be a price that can sell. Does anyone think the oil companies will sit on their hands and do nothing while 'easy oil' runs out? That oil is there, and lots of it.

Shapley wrote:
There are alternatives to oil out there now


One can always trust Shapley to have an opinion. I see this happened in Brazil, a country without much oil and no economic interest in maintaining the industry. Maybe it could happen here, but hopefully after ethanol is less costly than gasoline.
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Postby jamiebk » Fri Jan 12, 2007 11:12 am

Well Shap...strangely, I find myself agreeing with your statements.

As to the value of oil though, I do not how we put a price on the human lives lost fighting over it. I suppose there is financial model for even that.
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Postby Giant Communist Robot » Fri Jan 12, 2007 11:16 am

bignaf wrote:
dynamic stasis


Interesting. Is this an economic term or something?
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Postby jamiebk » Fri Jan 12, 2007 11:18 am

Giant Communist Robot wrote:bignaf wrote:
dynamic stasis


Interesting. Is this an economic term or something?


seems oxymoronic
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Postby piqaboo » Fri Jan 12, 2007 12:27 pm

One way to bring the price of ethanol down is to make it from something other than corn!

C-4 plants are more limited in their growing region than C-3 plants - they are more specialized. They perhaps offer an advantage in lowered 'respiration' - they breathe out less C02, because they fix more of the carbon. However corn is a pesticide intensive pain to grow, and it seems we make the EtOH only from the grain, not from the stalks - thus wasting most of the biomass. These other plants are also C-4, so will grow in similar environments to that of corn. Tropical and well watered areas would do better making ethanol from one of the many many C3 plants than from a C4. They are much easier to grow. Also, Ethanol needs to be generated from the entire biomass, so that we dont have a ton of wasteproduct.

(Sugarcane does not strike me as drought tolerant, so the wikipedia list below puzzles me. )

C4 plants have a competitive advantage over plants possessing the more common C3 carbon fixation pathway under conditions of drought, high temperatures and nitrogen or carbon dioxide limitation. C4 carbon fixation has evolved on several occasions in different groups of plants, so is an example of convergent evolution. Plants which use C4 metabolism include sugarcane, maize, sorghum, Eleusine, Amaranthus, and Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum


If someone wants to do a bit more reading and shoot me down, have at it.
Prove that corn makes economic sense. Cause I'd feel a lot better about things if it did. (Right now the economics of corn seem to be driven by two things - animal feed and HFcorn syrup replacing sugar in many manufactured products. I sure wish Huell Hauser had drunk that mexican coke on the air, he'd have showed a happy surprised face indeed - that is stil lmade with sugar and the difference is obvious).
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Postby OperaTenor » Fri Jan 12, 2007 12:28 pm

What about switchgrass?
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Postby piqaboo » Fri Jan 12, 2007 12:49 pm

Some feller with a lick o' sense is working on that right now.
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Postby Selma in Sandy Eggo » Fri Jan 12, 2007 12:54 pm

I had to google "switchgrass", on account of I'd never heard of it. And, yes, there were several articles about using it as an alternative energy source.

I still think we need to figure out how to use kudzu and iceplant for fuels. We'd be set forever.
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Postby Giant Communist Robot » Fri Jan 12, 2007 1:35 pm

piqaboo wrote:
One way to bring the price of ethanol down is to make it from something other than corn


All those midwestern corn people are gonna push corn. They get excited when discussing ethanol. Some farmers have formed co-ops and built ethanol plants. Some of those plants were sold--to oil companies.

In Hawaii sugarcane has been touted. Clearly a better choice than corn. The plans made the front pages of the newspapers here. The problem they have to face is finding people to work in agriculture, a low paying career with a stigmatized history. People's grandparents worked for pennies in the sugarcane fields; no one wants to return there.

I read about their plans for the ethanol plant. One of the selling points to the public was it created more jobs, but the plans call for only about 30 people at the plant. I'm guessing thats about 22 jobs near minimum wage. So about 8 people and the owners will benefit. Hmm....who are the owners?

The other selling point is that ethanol in gasoline will reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Ethanol actually costs more than gasoline, partly because its anhydrous nature requires it be added to the gasoline at the tanker truck. Something else is ethanol has fewer BTU's than gasoline, so cars get reduced mileage. So putting it in our gas makes the price go up, we have to buy more, and just who really benefits from this? At least we'll be buying 8% or so less oil from those foreigners.
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Postby OperaTenor » Fri Jan 12, 2007 2:19 pm

Selma in Sandy Eggo wrote:I had to google "switchgrass", on account of I'd never heard of it.


Image

Selma, you of all people! Even GWB's heard of it.

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Postby Selma in Sandy Eggo » Fri Jan 12, 2007 2:30 pm

OperaTenor wrote:My image of you has been irrevocably shattered...

What? You thought I knew everything? The more I learn, the less I realize I know. :dunce:
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Postby OperaTenor » Fri Jan 12, 2007 2:43 pm

Selma in Sandy Eggo wrote:
OperaTenor wrote:My image of you has been irrevocably shattered...

What? You thought I knew everything? The more I learn, the less I realize I know. :dunce:


No, I knew you knew you knew everything.

:rolleyes:
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Postby bignaf » Fri Jan 12, 2007 3:32 pm

jamiebk wrote:
Giant Communist Robot wrote:bignaf wrote:
dynamic stasis


Interesting. Is this an economic term or something?


seems oxymoronic


I'm translating the term I learned into english. the term is general, used in biology and economics and others. it means thet it reaches a state of stasis in which counterbalancing fluctuations keep the essential stasis going. e.g. populations of animals should be in a state of dynamic stasis. when there are too many animals low on the food chain, this causes more food to be available for the ones higher on the food chain, so they multiply, resulting in a decrease in the population of the animals lower on the food chain, resulting in the decrease of the animals higher on the food chain, resulting in the increase of the animals higher on the food chain, resulting in an increase... etc. I hope that made my meaning clear. and let me know if there's a better english term for it.
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Postby jamiebk » Fri Jan 12, 2007 4:10 pm

perfectly clear! Thanks.
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Postby piqaboo » Fri Jan 12, 2007 7:21 pm

"it means thet it reaches a state of stasis in which counterbalancing fluctuations keep the essential stasis going"

aka equilibrium
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Postby GreatCarouser » Sat Jan 13, 2007 2:15 am

Here's a blast from the past http://www.beethoven.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?p=90293#90293

the link in the first line of the post has some good economic numbers re ethanol production.
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Postby BigJon » Sat Jan 13, 2007 5:23 pm

Piq, you can't be shown to be wrong because nobody has shown it yet. Corn based ethanol will get cheaper when bio-based diesel fuel becomes the prominent source of transportation energy in our economy.

We need to find the oiliest plant we can grow in our climate and turn it into fuel that is one grade above bunker to run our trains and trucks and start switching our cars over to it. Most of the (real) pollution problems from diesel are solvable now. Not true 5 years ago.
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