When the oil runs out … | TahoeDailyTribune.com

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When the oil runs out …

A new model predicting the production of the world’s active oil fields will decline sometime between 2008 and 2018 has rekindled the debate surrounding peak oil theories.

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The study, conducted by Swedish physicist Fredrik Robelius, analyzes oil contributions from small oil fields, as well as the 333 giant oil fields in use today.

Robelius’ study is unique because it examines oil fields from ground level supplies, rather than looking at big picture dynamics like past rates of total production, remaining oil estimates and steady rates of decline.

Debates surrounding the longevity of the world’s oil supply aren’t a new phenomenon.

American geophysicist Marion Hubbert introduced the bell-shaped curve commonly associated with the peak oil debate in a paper presented to the American Petroleum Institute in 1956.

“Peak oil theorists have cautioned – erroneously – for decades that world oil reserves are dwindling,” according to a recently released press statement from the CATO Institute, a Washington, D.C., based non-profit public policy research foundation. “But due to improved technology and the rise in oil prices, reserves that were once too difficult or costly to tap have become profitable – and as such, the world’s ultimately recoverable resources have actually grown over time.”

One South Shore resident isn’t easily convinced by peak oil detractors’ claims that technological advances are the remedy to a society dependent on a finite natural resource.

“New energy sources can’t be brought on-line fast enough to substitute for the rate of oil well depletion and increasing demand,” said South Shore resident and light-rail advocate Gunnar Henrioulle. “The rate of oil field discovery is about one-third of the current use. They’d have to discover them at three times the current rate to keep up.”

— By Adam Jensen, AJensen@TahoeDailyTribune.com

Peak oil: What is it?

Peak oil concepts state the demand for oil will inevitably outstrip supply, leading to dramatic shifts in the underpinnings of our petroleum-based modern society.

Film on Sundance Channel

“A Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash” winner of the Tahoe/Reno International Film Festival will be shown on Sundance Channel this weekend. Air times are 12:35 a.m. and 10:35 a.m. on Friday and 3:35 p.m. on Sunday.