Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Death of Peak Oil

Good News On Two Fronts. Salute to the Western Confucian.

The story relates two things: first, how a Russian scientist, Vladimir Kutcherov, was able to manufacture methane and other hydrocarbons -- some much like petroleum -- by mimicing conditions of the Earth's mantle. He combined iron, water, and calcium carbonate (limestone) at about 30,000 atmospheres, and got hydrocarbons. He hypothesizes that oil and natural gas are the products of geological processes having nothing to do with dinosaurs or other fossils. This is supported by rumors that some North Sea and Gulf of Mexico fields once thought dry are producing again (see the comments on that post). The second part of the hypothesis is that fluid hydrocarbons make their way to the surface through deep cracks in the crust. Map those cracks, and you'll find petroleum and natural gas.

If he is right, what does this mean?

First, it means that we will not run out of oil and natural gas until the Earth's core freezes solid. The argument for deadlier, lightweight cars is at least partly a fraud, as are those for mass transit.

Second, it means that oil exploration will become vastly more efficient and widespread. Instead of 20% of exploratory wells striking oil, it will be more like 70%. And many areas once thought to have no promise could have lots of oil. We may well find oil on every continent except Antarctica ... and maybe there as well.

Third, it means the number one ally of violent jihadism is going to be the NIMBY syndrome. Make no mistake, the primary exporter of violent jihadism is Saudi Arabia's Wahhabi Muslims, and they are financed by petroleum. If energy independence is going to get much more widespread, their share of the petroleum market will precipitously decline.


Anonymous said...

Lighter cars are deadly? Not according to insurance company analysis or logic. Momentum equals mass times velocity squared, meaning the more mass a car has, the more energy it carries into a crash.

Indy racecars are light and go 200 miles per hour but drivers survive crashes better than NASCAR and much better than your or my cars going even half that speed. People are killed nearly daily by tractors that themselves are built like tanks.

The idea that a larger vehicle, especially one based on a truck frame, is wrong. Safety is a factor of smart engineering, not mass.

Arkanabar T'verrick Ilarsadin said...

Sure, if you have an unlimited budget, there's no reason to compromise. However, very few people are in the position of having an unlimited budget.

If you can, find me an engineer who will tell you that you cannot make up for cheap and crude materials by making things bigger.

Arkanabar T'verrick Ilarsadin said...

Apologies for rushing to reply.

Additional consideration: the important factor for passenger safety is "How much of the passenger's energy is dissipated in an impact?" All else being equal, would you really expect a larger car, with more materials, will dissipate that energy as or less effectively than a smaller one?

Power = force/time. If the car has 1 meter of crush space, the power of the impact can be less than if it only has 0.5m of crush space, because there is more time for me to decelerate.