Saturday, May 15, 2010

GOM Leak Hastens Peak Me Thinks

The magnitude of the consequences of the Horizon explosion and subsequent Oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico ("GOM") is really not to be underestimated.

I have been noodling this for the past couple of weeks. Initially I thought that these companies had contingency plans for just this sort of thing. Egh! Wrong! Thanks for playing.

The Horizon Incident will forever change the mentality of "Drill, Baby, Drill", at least as far as off shore drilling is concerned. For better or worse, Off Shore is where any significant Oil finds are left to be found. Geologists have covered nearly every square inch of land, and for the most part, there is nothing big, Oil wise that is Nat Gas is another story, left to be found On Shore.

This may or may not be the right thing or a good thing. I tend to think that in less than 1 lifetime from here, we will be essentially out of Liquid Petroleum, and in 20 years countries like the U.S. will be consuming only 25% or so of what we are now - so what is to be gained by pretending that we can solve our energy issues with "Drill, Baby, Drill"?

Oil has done a great deal of harm to humanity, and made life infinitely easier and more comfortable; a Faustian bargain if ever there was one. Industrialization has made it possible to mass produce goods and services as well as the assembly line murder of the Third Reich (kind of ironic that nuclear weapons have likely ended industrialized death manufacture.... well, for the most part).

This is likely the point that politics enters the Peak Oil thing with gusto. The slope of the decline in world Oil production could well be breathtaking if off shore exploration and production is hampered in ANY way. I cannot foresee a circumstance where this does not happen at some level.

More soon.


westexas said...

And in many cases, these fields are nearly as good as expected, a case in point being the poster child for deepwater GOM fields, the Thunder Horse complex.

Only one month after a BP press release touting the fact that the main producing structure was hitting a production rate of about 200,000 boepd (oil + natural gas), the main structure hit its peak crude rate of 168,000 bpd of crude oil in 1/09 and then went into catastrophic decline, falling to 64,000 bpd only one year later, along with more than a six fold increase in water production.

The North structure has partially offset the decline from the main field, but overall production is still down.

Basically, it appears that BP's thinking is that if they don't acknowledge the production decline, industry journals and MSM reporters won't report the decline, and so far it appears that they are right.

Here is an article:

bureaucrat said...

Oil is the most wonderful liquid we have at our disposal, short of water. We were lucky to find oil in the first place. It is packed with energy. And for that reason, we will never stop drilling off the coasts, deep water or otherwise, for oil. Price be damned.

We have no choice. While there was lots of action in Congress in passing laws to try "alternative fuels" in 1989 just after Exxon Valdez spill (and it looks like ethanol as the alternative won), that action will appear again in Congress. Where it will lead, I don't know. I do know that it will not hamper by much continued offshore drilling. There is nothing else as remotely as cost-efficient as oil.

I disagree that oil has caused a lot of harm. It causes wars -- all resource conflicts cause wars. Oil is only special in that you can't power your tanks and planes with coffee. :)

If they cap the Gulf leak this week, the Gulf spill likely will be long forgotten, except by those that pass the laws. As everyone knows, this country uses 20 million BARRELS (42 gallons per barrel) per DAY of oil. While the Gulf oil leak's size is disputed right now, it still would amount to less than 1% of our oil needs, even if it were already a producing well.

westexas said...

Should read:

"And in many cases, these fields are NOT nearly as good as expected,"

Anonymous said...


" will be long forgotten"

Laughable,if it were not so sad.

Maybe by you,however, BP will be ruined, coastly industry ruined, wild life ruined. If they cap this week,and a big if that is about 30 days and 150,000 barrels,at least. I beleive Valdez was 250,000 barrels. Just 20 more days beyond the 30 day mark to exceed Valdez. All we need know is a nice little hurricane to seal the deal. or even a big T-storm.

Oh, IF this gets in the Loop,say good by to the tuna runs in late Jan. along the Atlantic coast. To name a few. But I am not rushing this time will tell.


Stephen B. said...

Frankly, I'm kind of surprised that BP has struggled with this blow out as much as they have. I guess I've grown accustomed to all the happy, optimism of the past several decades that has conditioned us to think that things will always work out okay - that technology will soften the blow. Of course there was 9/11, and then Katrina. Yes, bad things DO happen and sometimes right along the time frames that the pessimists forecast.

Maybe I'll be proven wrong, but I don't think BP is going to get this well totally under control for several more weeks. 'Hope I'm proven wrong.

Even still, you just know we're going to trash the Gulf and every coastal area, getting the last oil out so as to continue our lifestyle as much as possible, the environmental consequences be damned.

PioneerPreppy said...

I am sure this will hamper drilling off the US coasts. Won't have any effect on other countries though and in the end will hasten prohibitive cost to US consumers.

kolchack said...

I'm in the middle on this. I do think this incident will hurt deepwater production. Imagine, for example, how much insurance rates on these rigs are going to rise. That plus stricter regulation will hamper production going forward.

It won't stop it, though. As the oil decline accelerates and the economy crashes along with it, the drill, baby drill cries from a spoiled and pampered populace will drown out all other concerns.

bureaucrat said...

Westexas can confirm this, but I don't think there is a lot of science to physically getting oil out of the ground, or stopping it. There are no sophisticated devices ready to help with the clean up/stoppage because such boats/rigs/tools don't exist, or if they do, they are, at any one time, halfway around the world.

An unexpected thing is just that -- unexpected.

Remember the Iraqis setting afire all those oil wells in Kuwait? How did they stop those fires/leaks? They held and detonated explosives at the well's mouth to suck all the oxygen up to kill the well fires. That was not a "traditional solution" :), and it took a while to get someone over there who knew how to do it.

In the 1990s, downtown Chicago flooded. Water flowed uncontrolled thru a maze of old UNDERGROUND tunnels that used to be used to deliver goods to buildings. Some contractor pile-driving in the river punctured one of the tunnels, and the water gushed in. The response to this "disaster" was funny at best. They had no idea how to plug this leak, which flooded nearly every downtown building. They were going to start throwing mattresses into the hole to stop it up! :)

So, you can't plan for everything, and sometimes you have to give off-the-cuff "let's try this" a chance to work. It is much more art than science.

Plus we are talking about 5,000+ feet of water. The pressure down there is enormous. All kinds of unseen things happen that far down.

PioneerPreppy said...

Remember the Iraqis setting afire all those oil wells in Kuwait? How did they stop those fires/leaks? They held and detonated explosives at the well's mouth to suck all the oxygen up to kill the well fires. That was not a "traditional solution" :), and it took a while to get someone over there who knew how to do it.

I am certainly no expert or even a novice but didn't John Wayne use this very technique in a movie years ago?

Dan said...

Have you seen the two posts by a retired petroleum geologist on the Deepwater Horizon Incident at naked capitalism? The key thing I took away from it was four BP executives were touring the platform when it blew, and all manner of corners were cut to complete the well. Anyone who has ever jumped thru hoops to prepare for a VIP visit will have no problem figuring out what went wrong.
Part one
Part two

On the future of offshore drilling I think this could have a silver lining in that once offshore drilling is stopped the price will spike wiping out the economy again and maybe, just maybe, we will collectively begin to realize the dire need to make alternate arrangements before it’s gone. Without a stop to offshore drilling the point of recognition likely will not come until after it is practically all gone.

Dan said...

If a warm sea causes hurricanes what happens when the water is black? Does that not cause added heat gain? Evaporated seawater causes rain, what does this do to the rain? Clearly the volatile elements in the oil are already evaporating. How much of it falls back with the rain? What do we call it, petrorain? What does it do to crops?

It also seems like the gulf coast economy is totally screwed. Fishing is not coming back for decades. This kills all the industries dependant on fishing; fish packing, shipping, boat building, marine mechanics, etc. Ditto for what’s left of tourism in the area, who wants to lounge on tar ball beach? Want to take a cruise on the oil slick, or go sport fishing in the anoxic sea? I reckon we can kiss all the industries dependant on tourism goodbye too. Throwing all that on top of a likely halt to offshore drilling, does this trigger the next leg down?

Is there some mitigating circumstances I am missing?

Dan said...
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