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Military Study Warns Of A Potentially Drastic Oil Crisis

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A study by a German military think tank has analyzed how "peak oil" might change the global economy. The internal draft document -- leaked on the Internet -- shows for the first time how carefully the German government has considered a potential energy crisis.

The term "peak oil" is used by energy experts to refer to a point in time when global oil reserves pass their zenith and production gradually begins to decline. This would result in a permanent supply crisis -- and fear of it can trigger turbulence in commodity markets and on stock exchanges.

The issue is so politically explosive that it's remarkable when an institution like the Bundeswehr, the German military, uses the term "peak oil" at all. But a military study currently circulating on the German blogosphere goes further.

The study is a product of the Future Analysis department of the Bundeswehr Transformation Center, a think tank tasked with fixing a direction for the German military. The team of authors, led by Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Will, uses sometimes-dramatic language to depict the consequences of an irreversible depletion of raw materials. It warns of shifts in the global balance of power, of the formation of new relationships based on interdependency, of a decline in importance of the western industrial nations, of the "total collapse of the markets" and of serious political and economic crises.

The study, whose authenticity was confirmed to SPIEGEL ONLINE by sources in government circles, was not meant for publication. The document is said to be in draft stage and to consist solely of scientific opinion, which has not yet been edited by the Defense Ministry and other government bodies.

Article continues here: -

http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,715138,00.html

Sort of reminds me of what Micheal Meacher said years ago: -

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4VhBEFthhEs

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Stop talking silly boy,

Billions of buckets sitting waiting under arctic ocean.

And as for Antarctic continent..................

Enough for another thousand years...............

But by then we will all be dead annyhoo :)

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Nothing new in this I think. As oil reserves run out there will be winners and losers.

The UK and particularly Scotland will become a net exporter of renewables with an abundance of wind, tidal and hydro electric power. Australia will do well with its Uranium mines also.

Not going to panic though. My Chemistry teacher from 20 years ago told us oil and gas would have run out 5 years ago.

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Nothing new in this I think. As oil reserves run out there will be winners and losers.

The UK and particularly Scotland will become a net exporter of renewables with an abundance of wind, tidal and hydro electric power. Australia will do well with its Uranium mines also.

Not going to panic though. My Chemistry teacher from 20 years ago told us oil and gas would have run out 5 years ago.

Unless there is a careful and well co-ordinated transition - there will be a LOT more losers than winners.

And of course, wars already began after 9/11 as a response to Peak Oil. We need to expose the lies and hold people accountable.

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The great transition (beyond carbon)

by Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed on October 8, 2010

If there is one thing that defines the 21st century, it is the end of oil. But not just oil. Over the coming decades, we face the prospect of terminal depletion of the world’s major mineral energy reserves, with major ramifications for the future of industrial civilization.

A survey of about a hundred of the world’s most respected petroleum geologists by the Association for the Study of Peak Oil found that the vast majority expected world oil production to peak between 2010 and 2020. Furthermore, it found that “the ‘peak’ is more likely to look like a bump on a long ridge than the classic bell-shaped curveâ€.

But the data suggests we may have already peaked. Until 2004, world oil production had risen continuously but thereafter reached and maintained a plateau all the way through to 2008. Then from July to August 2008, world production fell by almost one million barrels per day.

The plateau in world production over half a decade is unprecedented and suggests we have already started on the “long ridge†whose overall trajectory, despite fluctuations, will be inexorably downwards.

It is still falling. According to BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy 2010, in 2009 world oil production was 2.6 percent below that in 2008 (falling 2 million barrels per day), and is now below 2004 levels — indicative of a gradually accelerating decline rate.

This plateau in world production over half a decade is unprecedented and suggests we have already started on the “long ridge†whose overall trajectory, despite fluctuations, will be inexorably downwards. The outlook is likely to be worse, given that according to a new peer-reviewed study by the UK government’s former chief scientific adviser Sir David King in the journal Energy Policy, official estimates of world total oil reserves (including conventional, deepwater and unconventional resources) should be downgraded from 1,150-1,350 billion barrels to between 850-900 billion.

Does size matter?

Reserve size by itself matters only insofar as it practically translates into actual annual oil flows and rates of production. The problem, as noted by Australian peak oil analyst Matt Mushalik, is that “almost half of the current global oil production (45%) comes from a very narrow reserve base of just 190 gigabarrels (1,000 million barrels, or 1 billion barrels in US terminology) or around one fifth of the remaining reserves. It is depleting rapidly at a rate of around 7 % per annum with annual production declining consistently since 2002.†Remaining reserves, therefore, contribute to “little over half the global annual flows†and “at much lower production ratesâ€, most likely because they “are not able to increase productionâ€.

The problem is that almost half of the current global oil production comes from a very narrow reserve base of around one fifth of the remaining reserves.

Dallas petroleum geologist Jeffrey J. Brown’s Export Land Model projects a maximum of nine years between the time an oil-producer peaks and the reduction of its oil exports to zero. No wonder then that various experts warn we could see an actual oil supply crunch between 2012 and 2015, after which prices would rise inexorably as supplies drop and demand increases. The consensus is that this will be fuelled by industrial and population growth in emerging markets like China and India.

More than crude

Unfortunately, oil is not the only problem. Unconventional oil, coal, and natural gas may well be unable to compensate for the shortfall.

For the first time, in 2005 ExxonMobil’s own world oil production forecast showed no contribution from ‘oil shale’ even by 2030. Similarly, the Hydrocarbon Depletion Study Group at Uppsala University in Sweden investigated the viability of a crash programme for the Canadian tar sands industry between 2006 and 2018, and up to 2050. It concluded that even adopting “a very optimistic scenario, Canada’s oil sands will not prevent Peak Oilâ€. Another study commissioned by the investor coalition Ceres warns that production costs, market instability and low energy return on investment (EROI), less than a third of conventional oil’s EROI, are endangering the viability of investments in unconventional oil.

Of course, the Gulf oil spill has put to rest previously widespread (but misplaced) optimism about the potential of deepwater reserves, due to the moratorium on future deepwater exploration. In any case, even before the disaster, the data points to a sharply slowing and then flattening deepwater growth profile by 2011, amidst acceleration in the pace of deepwater decline. As Bob MacKnight, analyst at the Washington-based PFC Energy, thus concluded last year while talking to the Financial Times, “We are really approaching a peak production in deep water†and new discoveries will only “shallow the decline rather than move the peakâ€.

Unfortunately, oil is not the only problem. Unconventional oil, coal, and natural gas may well be unable to compensate for the shortfall.

The situation looks similar for the future of natural gas production. The interplay between prices and technological breakthroughs may permit deeper drilling of unconventional gas reserves for a longer period — 118 years at “current demand†according to one optimistic projection. But estimates of world demand project a massive 49 percent increase up to 2035 — fuelled again, particularly by China and India.

According to former Total geologist Jean Laherrere, who has conducted one of the most comprehensive surveys of the available conventional and unconventional gas reserve and production data, global natural gas production will peak around 2025 — consistent with Canadian geologist David Hughes’ projection of peak gas arriving in 2027.

As for coal supplies, an extensive study by the Energy Watch Group (EGW) warns that global coal production is likely to peak around 2025, at 30 percent above 2007 levels of production. US coal production in terms of energy will only remain at current levels for another 10–15 years. However, just this year the journal Science published a study predicting that world coal production from existing reserves could peak as early as 2011, and that it is “unlikely†future discoveries would ameliorate the decline.

In a separate study, EGW warned that world production of uranium for nuclear energy would peak between 2030 and 2035. This corroborates the International Atomic Energy Agency’s 2001 projections for uranium production up to 2050 that “presently known [uranium] resources fall short of demand†and that “future exploration will be more difficultâ€. It also fits with industry warnings, such as that in 2005 by Cameco — the world’s largest uranium producer — to the effect that global demand will “outpace existing supply over the next decade by more than 400 million pounds.â€

Although another element (thorium) has been advocated as a potential ‘magic bullet’ due to wide availability and potentially higher EROI, according to the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research in Washington DC, it still requires uranium to “kick-start†a nuclear chain reaction. Additionally, despite decades of research, no one has yet developed a commercially-viable thorium breeder fuel cycle, not even in India.

The other problem is simply that the mining, transporting, refining, milling, waste reprocessing and construction processes of nuclear power are still heavily dependent on fossil fuels. Indeed, an extensive study published in the International Journal of Nuclear Governance, Economy and Ecology finds that nuclear power is simply not efficient enough to replace fossil fuels in any case, requiring nuclear production to increase by 10.5 per cent every year from 2010 to 2050 — an “unsustainable prospectâ€.

The transition before us

The cumulative implications are unequivocal: industrial civilization faces multiple, converging shortages in the supply of energy across the spectrum of traditional hydrocarbon-linked reserves. These shortages are all likely to converge within the first quarter of this century.

The exponential demographic, economic and technological growth associated with the birth and expansion of industrial civilization we have experienced for the last century or so has been tied indelibly to the seemingly unlimited availability of carbon-based energy. The neoliberal doctrine of unlimited growth, however, overlooks the finite reality of the earth’s resources. We now face the fact that our traditional resource-base for continued exponential industrial growth simply does not exist. This suggests that industrial civilization in its current form simply cannot survive this century.

Given the scale of supply constraints across the spectrum of traditional energy sources, we may find it very difficult to scale-up a viable supply of energy to replace cheap, conventional oil in time to avoid the collapse of critical infrastructures. The converging complexity of major stresses including energy depletion, climate change, food insecurity, economic instability and violent conflict — combined with the increasingly obvious inability of states to keep up with and respond to these crises meaningfully – could create a perfect storm culminating in “synchronous failureâ€, leading to collapse. And a short-sighted reversion to traditional military solutions would more likely accelerate, rather than avoid, this collapse.

The economic model of an ‘ideal-world’ 100 percent, post-carbon renewable energy system is still only theoretical, but it is clear that it cannot be based on exponential growth for its own sake.

The imperative, then, is to work toward facilitating a comprehensive transition to cleaner, renewable sources of energy; while doing our best to downsize our current levels of consumption and increase resilience. As study, after study, after study, after study have proven, the mix of technologies to achieve this transition already exist — a major impasse, of course, is how fast the process of transition could occur.

Unfortunately, sheer social, political and technological inertia, if nothing else, could slow the transition process significantly (ecologist Vaclav Smil notes that historically, energy transitions have been a generations-long process). While we may be unable therefore to avoid catastrophic short-falls, these could be ameliorated by focusing efforts to radically reduce fossil fuel consumption through conservation and energy efficiency.

The economic model of an ‘ideal-world’ 100 percent, post-carbon renewable energy system is still only theoretical, but it is clear that it cannot be based on exponential growth for its own sake. This speaks to a new post-carbon civilization based on greater consciousness of human-embeddedness in our natural environment; of the significance of mutual cooperation rather than self-seeking competition as an evolutionary imperative for species survival; and thus of less-materialistic values oriented around health, freedom, education, and well-being as central to sustainable prosperity.

The 21st century may well signify the end of industrial civilization as we know it — but it also points to the unprecedented opportunity to envision, and work toward, a far more equitable, sustainable and harmonious post-carbon civilization.

http://ourworld.unu....-beyond-carbon/

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Excellent article you've posted up there PP, unfortunately either won't be read, or if read will most likely be dismissed as 'needless scare-mongering' by the ostrich hordes...........

(the piece in respect of uranium, and therefore nuclear power, is particularly interesting and neatly exposes the lie that nuclear power is any kind of answer, either to reducing emissions or to long term energy security)

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Well in terms of the need to reduce consumption, given that half of Net-wx members seem to turn their heating on when it drops below 20c then I think we're as likely to cut consumption as walk to the Moon in a wetsuit on Monday whilst whistling God Save the Queen. You all have my utter lack of sympathy.

I do think thorium is viable alternative despite what some catastrophists may wish to imply. It's main drawback is that it does not produce so much weapons grade uranium and is therefore rejected by big money.

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Well in terms of the need to reduce consumption, given that half of Net-wx members seem to turn their heating on when it drops below 20c then I think we're as likely to cut consumption as walk to the Moon in a wetsuit on Monday whilst whistling God Save the Queen. You all have my utter lack of sympathy.

I do think thorium is viable alternative despite what some catastrophists may wish to imply. It's main drawback is that it does not produce so much weapons grade uranium and is therefore rejected by big money.

Thorium is dependent on uranium and it's still part of the problematic centralised fossil-fuel dependent system. It should be on the table though as a strategic tool during transition, but it's not an answer in the long-term.

Sorry....couldn't resist :p

Go to 4 minutes 55 seconds in this video - he mentions the need for efficiency and cuts in consumption.

This is also worth a watch: -

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Thorium is dependent on uranium and it's still part of the problematic centralised fossil-fuel dependent system. It should be on the table though as a strategic tool during transition, but it's not an answer in the long-term.

Err, no.

It is an element in it's own right, and, according to here, a ton of thorium can produce as much energy as 200 tons of uranium, or 3,500,000 tonnes of coal, that the energy stored in the earth's thorium reserves is greater than what is available from all other fossil and nuclear fuels combined, and has advantages over a uranium fuel cycle including much greater abundance on Earth, superior physical and nuclear properties of the fuel, enhanced proliferation resistance, and reduced nuclear waste production.

The same source notes that there is enough thorium in the United States alone to power the country at its current energy level for over 1,000 years. They also note that a thorium power plant can be "designed to tap right in at the source of a current coal or uranium plant," without the need for laying a new grid, and also that the alpha radiation emitted cannot penetrate human skin (hence it's use in gas mantles)

If a thousand years is not long-term, then, I suppose, at least it buys the human race a little more time to breed a trillion hamsters to run around in wheels. Besides, it's much more fun to run to top of the hill and scream 'we're doomed .....'

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Err, no.

It is an element in it's own right, and, according to here, a ton of thorium can produce as much energy as 200 tons of uranium, or 3,500,000 tonnes of coal, that the energy stored in the earth's thorium reserves is greater than what is available from all other fossil and nuclear fuels combined, and has advantages over a uranium fuel cycle including much greater abundance on Earth, superior physical and nuclear properties of the fuel, enhanced proliferation resistance, and reduced nuclear waste production.

The same source notes that there is enough thorium in the United States alone to power the country at its current energy level for over 1,000 years. They also note that a thorium power plant can be "designed to tap right in at the source of a current coal or uranium plant," without the need for laying a new grid, and also that the alpha radiation emitted cannot penetrate human skin (hence it's use in gas mantles)

If a thousand years is not long-term, then, I suppose, at least it buys the human race a little more time to breed a trillion hamsters to run around in wheels. Besides, it's much more fun to run to top of the hill and scream 'we're doomed .....'

Read my source: -

Thorium is not actually a “fuel†because it is not fissile and therefore cannot be used to start

or sustain a nuclear chain reaction. A fissile material, such as uraniumâ€235 (Uâ€235) or plutoniumâ€239

(which is made in reactors from uraniumâ€238), is required to kickâ€start the reaction.

The enriched uranium fuel or plutonium fuel also maintains the chain reaction

until enough of the thorium target material has been converted into fissile uraniumâ€233 (Uâ€

233) to take over much or most of the job.

http://www.ieer.org/...09factsheet.pdf

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Yes, the affiliate of international physicians for the prevention of nuclear war, have said it as you state.

However, according to Wikipedia, you can kick it the reaction with waste fuel from the cycle since once Thorium is fissile it's by-product is an isotope of Uranium that be used to kick on the reaction. Also these chaps seem to have missed the point that the 232 isotope is contaminated by the 233 isotope and since these cannot be chemically split, it offers massive non-proliferation properties.

Thus, whilst accurate, your source is spin, based on a political goal. Indeed, your source states that proliferation is still a worry since 'in principle, the separation can be done'

I rather think a lot of things are possible in principle ....

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Yes, the affiliate of international physicians for the prevention of nuclear war, have said it as you state.

However, according to Wikipedia, you can kick it the reaction with waste fuel from the cycle since once Thorium is fissile it's by-product is an isotope of Uranium that be used to kick on the reaction. Also these chaps seem to have missed the point that the 232 isotope is contaminated by the 233 isotope and since these cannot be chemically split, it offers massive non-proliferation properties.

Thus, whilst accurate, your source is spin, based on a political goal. Indeed, your source states that proliferation is still a worry since 'in principle, the separation can be done'

I rather think a lot of things are possible in principle ....

How is the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research spinning those thorium facts? It's partnered with a political group, yes - but the nuclear industry is always going to have political and economic factors that need to be discussed too.

Somehow I don't think thorium can replace uranium reactors. It could greatly ENHANCE uranium reactors, however. I'll leave that to the experts to debate over and produce more reports - and will believe the "benefits" of thorium when I start seeing seriously mass-investments in it. Where is the UK's thorium-based nuclear plants in the UK governments' latest pro-nuclear initiative?

From what I'm reading - thorium appears to produce energy slower, have much more radioactive byproducts and thus end up more costly than conventional reactors. There has yet to be a commercially-viable reactor, and the costs from conventional nuclear developments are set to inflate. I did say, however, that thorium-based plants should be on the table as part of a strategic tool (perhaps for key essential sectors/services) during transition, but it's not an answer in the long-term. At least, from how I understand things now.

Until we change the way money works....we change nothing.

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