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By definition, energy "sources" must produce more energy than they consume,
otherwise they are called "sinks".


Franco Bernabe, chief executive of the Italian oil company ENI SpA, correctly forecast the 1970s-style oil shocks starting this year! http://www.forbes.com/forbes/98/0615/6112084a.htm


Last scheduled BRAIN FOOD:  A MEANS OF CONTROL, 01/01/00 http://dieoff.com/page185.htm

The Best Kept Secret in Washington, October, 1999 http://dieoff.com/page173.htm
Los Sangre Es en Tus Manos, April, 1999 http://dieoff.com/page169.htm
"The Foulest of Them All", Jan, 1999 http://dieoff.com/page168.htm
"The Market" is simply "Too Cheap to Meter" http://dieoff.com/page166.htm
It’s the Money, Stupid! http://dieoff.com/page149.htm
TITANIC SINKS http://dieoff.com/page143.htm
LUNATIC POLITICS http://dieoff.com/page141.htm
REQUIEM http://dieoff.com/page181.htm


A six percent cut in crude oil supplies last year tripled the price!  WOW!


This email is to update my BRAIN FOOD subscribers on the news coming out of my "energyresources" mailing list. I have managed to attract several published experts, and this is a summary of the most important findings.

Home -- HTML Version with graphics -- PDF Version with graphics             (Permission to reprint expressly granted!)

Abstract:  Petroleum geologists have known for 50 years that global oil production would "peak" and begin its inevitable decline within a decade of the year 2000.    Moreover, no renewable energy systems have the potential to generate more than a tiny fraction of the power now being generated by fossil fuels.
In short, the end of oil signals the end of civilization, as we know it.

by Jay Hanson, Oct, 23, 2000 -- http://www.dieoff.org

"What becomes of the surplus of human life? It is either, 1st. destroyed by infanticide, as among the Chinese and Lacedemonians; or 2d. it is stifled or starved, as among other nations whose population is commensurate to its food; or 3d. it is consumed by wars and endemic diseases; or 4th. it overflows, by emigration, to places where a surplus of food is attainable."
-- James Madison, 1791

         ENERGY IS the capacity to do work (no energy = no work).  Thus, the global economy is 100 percent dependent on energy -- it always has been, and it always will be.

         THE FIRST LAW OF THERMODYNAMICS tells us that neither capital nor labor nor technology can "create" energy. Instead, available energy must be spent to transform existing matter (e.g., oil), or to divert an existing energy flow (e.g., wind) into more available energy.

         THE SECOND LAW OF THERMODYNAMICS tells us that energy is wasted at every step in the economic process. The engines that actually do the work in our economy (so-called "heat engines"; e.g., diesel engines) waste more than 50 percent of the energy contained in their fuel.

         ENERGY "RESOURCES" MUST produce more energy than they consume, otherwise they are called "sinks" (this is known as the "net energy" principle). About 735 joules of energy is required to lift 15 kg of oil 5 meters out of the ground just to overcome gravity -- and the higher the lift, the greater the energy requirements. The most concentrated and most accessible oil is produced first; thereafter, more and more energy is required to find and produce oil. At some point, more energy is spent finding and producing oil than the energy recovered and the "resource" becomes a "sink".


A "non-renewable" energy source is one that can only be used once.  Moreover, physical constraints limit how quickly energy can be extracted from a non-renewable natural resource. One can only extract it at a certain rate, the rate peaks, and as the source empties, the rate falls off (the "peak" principle).

For many years, geologists and petroleum engineers have published estimates of how much oil can be recovered from any given basin. This is known as "Estimated Ultimately Recoverable" (or "EUR") oil. Remarkably, estimates of total worldwide EUR oil have varied little over the past half century! http://www.wri.org/wri/climate/finitoil/eur-oil.html -- http://dieoff.com/eur.htm -- http://dieoff.com/eur.xls -- http://dieoff.com/eur.pdf

Forty years ago, geologist M. King Hubbert developed a method for projecting future oil production and predicted that oil production in the lower 48 states (the USA except Alaska) would peak about 1970. Hubbert's prediction proved to be remarkably accurate. Yields have risen slightly compared to Hubbert's original estimate, but the timing of the peak and the general downward trend of production were correct. Hubbert showed that oil production peaks and starts to decline when approximately half of the EUR oil has been recovered. . http://dieoff.com/hubbert.htm 

The petroleum industry itself has announced that global oil production will "peak" in less than ten years!

IHS Energy Group (formerly Petroconsultants) is the world's leading provider of data and analysis for oil exploration and production. The company maintains its headquarters in Geneva. It also has offices in London, Houston, Calgary, Sydney, Perth, Singapore and Hong Kong and a global information network. The backbone of the company is a staff of 300, embracing numerous nationalities, cultures and professions, specializing in petroleum geology, geophysics, petroleum engineering, economics, political science, petroleum legislation, cartography, computer science and information technology. http://www.ihsenergy.com

In 1995, Petroconsultants published a report for oil industry insiders titled WORLD OIL SUPPLY 1930-2050 ($32,000 per copy) which concluded that world oil production could peak as soon as the year 2000 and decline to half that level by 2025. Large and permanent increases in oil prices were predicted after the year 2000. http://www.forbes.com/forbes/98/0615/6112084a.htm -- http://dieoff.com/page116.htm

In November 1997, the International Energy Agency (IEA) convened an Oil Conference in Paris. Jean Laherrere and Colin Campbell presented three papers on oil depletion against Morris Adelman and Michael Lynch from MIT. Here are two of them: http://dieoff.com/page182.htm -- http://dieoff.com/page183.htm

As a result of this conference, IEA prepared a paper for the G8 Energy Ministers' Meeting in Moscow March 31, 1998. IEA rejected Adelman and Lynch's arguments, adopted Laherrere and Campbell's view, and forecast a peak in conventional oil for 2012 at 78.9 Mb/d and a decrease in 2020 at 72.2 Mb/d.

According to Richard Duncan, this represents a significant reversal of the IEA position: "This is a real stand-down for them because until recently they were in the Julian Simon no-limits camp." See the IEA site at http://www.iea.org/g8/world/oilsup.htm . Figure 9 shows oil production peaks: 2000 for world excluding OPEC Middle East, 2015 for OPEC Middle East, 2012 for world oil supply.

See Colin Campbell and Jean H. Laherrere's Scientific American article at http://dieoff.com/page140.htm . See Campbell's presentation to The House of Commons http://www.hubbertpeak.com/campbell/commons.htm . See one of Richard Duncan's paper at http://dieoff.com/page133.htm

Petroleum experts Colin Campbell, Jean Laherrere, Brian Fleay, Roger Blanchard, Richard Duncan, Walter Youngquist, and Albert Bartlett  (using various methodologies) have all estimated a "peak" in "conventional oil" around 2005. Moreover, the CEOs of Agip, ENI SpA, (Italian oil companies) and Arco have all published estimates of peak in 2005. So it seems like a reliable estimate.

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) is the second largest bank in Canada and one of the 10 largest in North America with assets of USA $182 billion and a market capitalization of USA $10.5 billion. CIBC relies on Petroconsultants' analysis for its energy research. http://www.cibcwm.com/About/ -- http://research.cibcwm.com/economic_public/download/Or28.pdf .

On Sep. 19, 2000, CIBC released a new report that concluded "After rising for 140 years, world oil production is about to peak." http://www.ottawacitizen.com/business/001006/4643011.html -- http://research.cibcwm.com/economic_public/download/Fcsep00.pdf .

Campbell and Blanchard say that Norwegian production (the second largest exporter after Saudi Arabia) is at "peak" now and set to enter long-term decline.

Colombian oil production appears to have peaked in 1999, but one can't be certain for a few years. Colombia obtains most of its oil from a few giant fields, which are now in rapid decline.

Venezuela's oil production has been by influenced world demand, OPEC quotas, and political events. Peak production occurred in 1970 but based upon data from Colin Campbell, the mid-point of EUR was 1998. The mature oil fields in Venezuela have gross decline rates of 20-25%/year. Conventional oil production in Venezuela can be expected to decline in coming years.

Mexico's oil production will probably peak this year at the midpoint of depletion.

The latest estimates by country can be found at http://dieoff.com/campbell.htm -- http://dieoff.com/campbell.pdf -- http://dieoff.com/campbell.xls -- http://www.halcyon.com/duncanrc/ .



In the 1950s, oil producers discovered about fifty barrels of oil for every barrel invested in drilling and pumping. Today, the figure is only about five for one. Sometime around 2005, that figure will become one for one. Under that latter scenario, even if the price of oil reaches $500 a barrel, it wouldn't make "energy sense" to look for new oil in the USA because it would consume more energy than it would recover!

Unlike oil, natural gas cannot easily be shipped by sea. It must be liquefied prior to shipment, and then shipped in specially designed refrigerated ships destined for specially equipped ports, and then re-gasified for distribution -- at an estimated 15 to 30 percent energy loss. Moreover, natural gas cannot be easily stored like oil or coal.

Campbell says that gas production is better described as a "plateau" followed by a "cliff" due to the high mobility and recovery of gas. Under declining pressure, oil declines slowly as it moves through the porespace of the rocks, but the decline of gas is a cliff -- not a slope. The gas market gives no warning of the cliff because it is no more expensive to produce the last cubic foot than the first.

When Canada signed NAFTA, it ceded total control of its oil and gas reserves. Canada currently makes up about 13% of the USA gas supply. North American production is at or near (< 10 years) its "cliff" now. http://tabla.geo.ucalgary.ca/NatGasCan/opipaper.pdf -- http://dieoff.com/nagas.htm -- http://dieoff.com/pp.htm

Campbell says it is not practical to make up the North American shortfall in gas by shipping it in from the Middle East (shortage of LNG facilities, tankers, and energy loss). However, the construction of a new gas line to Alaska and the Canadian arctic where there probably are large untapped deposits could temporarily mitigate the North American gas cliff.

On October 17, 2000 (Reuters), a top BP Amoco official admitted that there was a "dire need" for gas from both Alaska and northern Canada. Forecasts show gas demand could outstrip supplies from traditional sources by as much as 4 billion cubic feet a day within a decade!

Canada's conventional oil production peaked in 1973. By 1999, Canada's oil total production was about 2.6Mb/day of which 0.5Mb (20%) was from oil sands. The Alberta Energy and Utilities Board estimates that production from Canada's oil sands will be extremely slow (100 to 200 years for all of it). It is also worth noting that the processing of heavy oil and bitumen in Canada has used cheap, stranded gas. This gas is probably not going to be stranded or cheap much longer, which will reduce the economics of the heavy oil and bitumen extraction. According to Fleay:

"As far as Canadian tar sands are concerned, I believe the principal energy source (quite considerable) is stranded natural gas from the vicinity of the mines. Once a gas pipeline to the USA goes nearby that gas will be sold to the USA and probably will only be available to the tar sand operators at a price. That will probably push up the costs and the alternative fuels used, if available, will most likely reduce or even eliminate any net energy yield."

USA coal is expected to become an energy "sink" -- not worth digging out of the ground -- by 2040. [ J. Gever, et al., 1991 ]

The automobile industry is planning to put fuel-cell-powered automobiles on the road by 2004. But the new cars won’t be on the road for long because these fuel cells use hydrogen via methanol that is made from fossil fuel.

Hydrogen is not a "source" of energy -- it's an energy "carrier" (like electricity). About 95 percent of the hydrogen used in the USA market is produced by a chemical process known as "steam methane reforming". A carbon-based feedstock (usually natural gas or coal) is combined with steam under high pressure and temperature to produce hydrogen at about a 35 percent energy loss. Methanol is usually produced from natural gas or coal at a 32 to 44 percent net energy loss. http://dieoff.com/page175.htm

But how about hydrogen from water? The Schatz Energy Research Center recently built a hydrogen generation station for use with their fuel cell vehicles. According to Michael Winkler, hydrogen generation is about 80% efficient using electricity to extract hydrogen from water. The Center's fuel cells are about 50% efficient. This leads to a total cycle efficiency of approximately 40%. http://www.humboldt.edu/~serc/index.shtml .

Fuel cells are much more efficient that internal combustion engines. Hydrogen in an internal combustion engine is only about 15% to 18% efficient for an overall efficiency of 12% to 14.4%.

None of this includes the energy costs of producing the original electricity.  Moreover, no renewable energy systems have the potential to generate more than a tiny fraction of the electricity now being generated by fossil fuels.

Laherrere has provided a new paper that shows there is no evidence from all the worldwide research and extensive coring for any massive hydrate deposits. http://dieoff.com/page192.htm

The rising energy costs (increasing extraction effort) and rising economic costs of oil set up a positive feedback loop: since oil is used directly or indirectly in everything, as the costs of oil increase, the costs of everything else increase too -- including other forms of energy. For example, oil provides about 50% of the fuel used in coal extraction. Production from Canada's oil sands will be severely impacted by the depletion of natural gas in less than ten years, etc.


ENVIRONMENTAL ACCOUNTING: Emergy and Environmental Decision Making
by Howard T. Odum; Wiley, 1996 ;

From page 314, we find that in 1993 total USA fuel use was 4.78 x 10e24 sej (increasing about 2% per year ever since). From page 187 we find that total net solar radiation absorption for Alaska and the lower 48 was 4.48 x 10e22 sej. In other words, the USA is presently using fossil fuels more than 100 times greater than the total absorption of solar radiation across the entire USA!

So-called "renewable" energy systems are evaluated differently than "non-renewable" energy systems. In order to be "renewable", an energy system must produce enough net energy to reproduce itself.

Different kinds of energy have different "qualities". For example, a BTU of coal is fundamentally different than a BTU of wood. Coal contains more energy per pound than wood, which makes coal more efficient to store and transport than wood. Oil has a higher energy content per unit weight and burns at a higher temperature than coal; it is easier to transport, and can be used in internal combustion engines. A diesel locomotive wastes only one-fifth the energy of a coal-powered steam engine to pull the same train. Oil’s many advantages provide 1.3 to 2.45 times more economic value per kilocalorie than coal.

Directly and indirectly it takes about 1,000 kilocal of sunlight to make a kilocalorie of organic matter, about 40,000 to make a kilocalorie of coal, about 170,000 kilocal to make a kilocalorie of electrical power, and 10 million or more to support a typical kilocalorie of human service. So when renewable energy systems are evaluated, both inputs and outputs must be converted to solar eMjoules (or "sej") and compared. (There are ten different sets of equations to convert energy to sej: http://dieoff.com/emergy.pdf ) The difference between the sej input and sej output is known as the "net sej".

Calculations show that solar cells consume twice as much sej as they produce. http://dieoff.com/pv.htm So even if all the energy produced were put back into production, then one could build only half as many cells each generation -- they are not sustainable. Even if the sej efficiency of solar cells doubled, ALL of the energy produced would have to be used to manufacture new cells, which still leaves a zero net benefit to society!

Traditional measures of "net energy" for solar cells may be improving but "net sej" may be getting worse because there are ten different sets of equations to convert energy to sej. The only way to know is to DO THE MATH. http://dieoff.com/emergy.pdf

H.T. Odum's solar "eMergy" (eMbodied energy) measures all of the energy (adjusted for quality) that went into the production of a product. Odum's calculations show that the only forms of alternative energy that can survive the exhaustion of fossil fuel are burning biomass (wood, animal dung, or peat), hydroelectric, geothermal in volcanic areas, and some wind electrical generation. Nuclear power could be viable if one could overcome the shortage of fuel. No other alternatives (e.g., solar voltaic) produce a large enough net sej to be sustainable. In short, there is no way out.

The fact that our society can not survive alternative energy should come as no surprise, because only an idiot would believe that windmills and solar panels can run bulldozers, elevators, steel mills, glass factories, electric heat, air conditioning, aircraft, automobiles, etc., AND still have enough energy left over to support a corrupt political system, armies, etc.

[ If you are interested in more specific details, read the messages at http://www.egroups.com/messages/energyresources or write to me at mailto:j@qmail.com ]


Economic students are taught that banks "create" money every time they make a loan, and that the economy is powered by money instead of energy. The juxtaposition of these two data (the first is true, the second is false) leads even Nobel Prize-winning economists to conclude they have discovered a perpetual-motion machine!

No person has had a greater influence on the thinking of experts who have become government regulators of the world's oil and gas industries than economist Morris Adelman: "There are plenty of fossil fuels and no limit to potential electrical capacity. It is all a matter of money."

But Adelman -- and every government regulator he has ever influenced -- is wrong. It is a matter of energy! (The only source of energy in money is the medium itself, and a $100 bill contains no more energy than a $10 bill.)

Although economists treat energy just like any other resource, it is not like any other resource. Available energy is the prerequisite for all other resources. Moreover, universal energy laws tell us that the economist's perpetual-motion machine is impossible.

To lift 15 kg of oil 5 meters out of the ground requires 735 joules of energy just to overcome gravity -- and the higher the lift, the greater the energy requirements. The most concentrated and most accessible oil is produced first; thereafter, more and more energy is required to find and produce oil. At some point, more energy is spent finding and producing oil than the energy recovered. Thus, Adelman is wrong: it is not all a matter of money.

Empirical studies on Louisiana oil fields suggest that oil wells and fields are "energy losers" before they become "money losers" and are closed down. http://dieoff.com/page197.htm

It's important to note that the last 10% or 15% that is PRESENTLY BEING RECOVERED is losing energy. [Ref] Thus, if a typical field recovery is 33%, then only about 30% of a field probably provides net energy. If so, then no more energy can be produced from these fields no matter how high the price of oil!!

Neither capital nor labor nor technology can "create" energy (the first law of thermodynamics). Instead, available energy must be spent to transform existing matter (e.g., oil), or to divert an existing energy flow (e.g., wind) into more available energy. The engines that actually do the work in our economy (so-called "heat engines"; e.g., diesel engines) waste more than 50 percent of the energy contained in their fuel (the second law). Thus, Adelman is wrong again: there is a physical limit to potential electrical capacity.

Economists everywhere are wrong: perpetual economic motion is impossible! Imagine having an automobile with a ten-gallon tank, but the nearest gas station is eleven gallons away. You cannot fill your tank with a trip to the gas station because the trip burns more gas than you can carry -- it’s impossible for you to cover your overhead (the size of your bankroll and the price of the gas are irrelevant). You might as well plant flowers in your auto because you are "out of gas" -- forever. It's the same with the American economy: if we must spend more-than-one unit of energy to produce enough goods and services to buy one unit of energy, it will be impossible for us to cover our overhead. At that point, America’s economic machine is “out of gas” -- forever.

Nearly everyone in the world (all governments, and all but a handful of scientists, etc.) has accepted the economists' perpetual-motion machine. Even the Energy Information Administration (EIA) of the USA Department of Energy has no idea how much energy is required to produce energy ("net energy"). Nor does the EIA have any idea how long energy can be produced ("peak")!

But even a child can understand that machines do not run on money -- they run on energy ("Daddy's car needs gas!") -- and available energy is a prerequisite for producing more energy.

Once the truth is told, no one will ever believe that the energy experts in the Clinton Administration were just too stupid to see it coming; too stupid understand these simple energy principles that can be taught to a child...

The sudden -- and surprising -- end of the fossil fuel age will stun everyone -- and kill billions. Once the truth is told about gas and oil (it's just a matter of time), your life will change forever.

Envision a world where freezing, starving people burn everything combustible -- everything from forests (releasing CO2; destroying topsoil and species); to garbage dumps (releasing dioxins, PCBs, and heavy metals); to people (by waging nuclear, biological, chemical, and conventional war); and you have seen the future.

Envision a world utterly destroyed by a lethal education: 

"Should we be taking steps to limit the use of these most precious stocks of society's capital so that they will still be available for our grandchildren? … Economists ask, Would future generations benefit more from larger stocks of natural capital such as oil, gas, and coal or from more produced capital such as additional scientists, better laboratories, and libraries linked together by information superhighways? … in the long run, oil and gas are not essential."
-- Nobel Laureate Paul Samuelson and William Nordhaus

"The problem is, of course, that not only is economics bankrupt but it has always been nothing more than politics in disguise ... economics is a form of brain damage."
-- Hazel Henderson

[ More on economics at http://dieoff.com/page185.htm ]

[Ref] There are at least three ways an oil company can make money but lose energy: 1) financial subsidies (and thus, energy subsidies) upwards of $600 billion a year http://www.igc.org/wri/media/lash_paris.html ; 2) differences in energy "quality", and thus, price; 3) the fact that money always depreciates but oil can appreciate.

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