KarenRei
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Re: Peak Oil has Likely Come and Gone - Now What?

Thu May 06, 2010 10:02 am

evnow wrote:
KarenRei wrote:If you look at what different oil companies think, it's almost universally "no foreseeable peak" or "a demand peak".


Shouldn't be surprising at all. Afterall their share prices depend on their reserves. But what the company PR folk say and what the engineers know is quite different. BTW, you should checkout the latest statements by many of them - quite pessimistic.


I do talk to oil people behind the scenes. My father was a chemical engineer who worked his way up through refinery management positions to first be a president of the US trading operations a supermajor, to CEO of a subsidiary which is one of the largest refiners in the US. And he's not the only one I know.

Yes, there are oil people who believe in supply peaks, even Mad Max-style. But there are literally millions of people involved in the oil industry worldwide, hundreds of thousands of them in management roles, tens of thousands of them with prestigious-sounding titles. Statistically, hundreds or even thousands of them believe the moon landing is faked and Elvis is alive, too.

Note that oil companies have two counter incentives. One is to portray a rosy picture for investment, as you note. But the other is to paint a dire picture in order to open more land up for drilling, refineries, etc. They usually try to walk both of those lines at once.

Also, another thing worth mentioning: often in these sort of circles, there's this real demonisation of people who work in the oil industry. Here's some things that may surprise you. My father accepts anthropogenic global warming. He loves the wilderness, and has climbed Kilimanjaro and seen the retreating glaciers. He wants to visit Glacier National Park to see the remaining glaciers before they're gone. He's repeatedly said to me that he looks forward to the day that something better comes along and puts him out of business (not actually believing that such a thing is possible to happen soon -- and sadly, I must concur -- and either way, the oil companies would adapt and just invest in what comes next). I once overheard him in a discussion with my aunt over what sort of car their mother should buy next. My aunt was pushing another big ol' "grandmother boat" of a car. My father? A he was singing the praises of the Prius.

Pick any supermajor and you can point to a slew of accidents or abuses throughout their history, cover-ups, etc. Most people just assume that this means that the company planned this sort of stuff out and the top levels are full of nefarious plots. But the reality is that these companies are *huge*. Exxon-Mobil, for example, employs a good chunk of a hundred thousand people *directly*, and even more than that indirectly through contracts. Statistically, odds are they've even got some murderers and child rapists on staff. When you're that big, it's virtually impossible to guarantee that nothing bad will happen under your watch; there's always going to be some middle manager looking to make his operations look better who's willing to cut some corners. The key is looking for how frequently bad things happen relative to their size. In this regard, I think BP comes across in a rather poor light. One scandal is explainable, but when they keep happening this frequently, as has happened with BP in recent years, one can only assume that the management isn't cracking the whip enough. Even when you're not planning to cut corners or the like, it's still your responsibility to try to ensure that people under you don't, either. You won't always succeed, but you should be able to do a better job than BP has done.

Another thing that may surprise people is the salaries. Compared to how utterly massive these companies are (the largest in the world), the salaries of the top execs are surprisingly low. The CEOs of non-oil companies a tiny fraction their size make notably more than oil company CEOs do. Oil company CEOs are roughly comparable to the salaries of professional basketball coaches; the peaks are higher, but the average is lower. My father is anything but poor. However, he's not out buying private planes, either. He has to save up just to buy an RV. He'd have to refinance his house and delay retirement to buy something like a Tesla Roadster. My grandfather's cousin, however, that's a different story; he cofounded a company that grew to be one of the largest personnel firms in the country; *he* has private planes, multiple houses (one of which is nearly the size of a football field), his own ranch (so big it has a gift shop), a professional sports team, etc. That's what most people picture when they think of oil money, but the average oil company CEO (heck, even the biggest ones, which make way more than the average ones) just doesn't make that kind of money. My parents live in a modest two-story house with a small pool in a neighborhood with hundreds of houses the size of theirs.

Don't get me wrong -- I am *not* saying "pity the poor oil company CEOs", by any means. Especially the CEOs of the biggest supermajors. I'm just pointing out that it's not the "Richie Rich" situation that most people think of. Most of the money made by oil companies goes to shareholders (i.e., mostly mutual funds, I.e., 401ks, I.e., most people in this country). Now, there *are* a couple exceptions. The biggest example that comes to mind is the Koch family, who actually owns their own oil company. And to be honest, the Koch family is the sort of people that most people think of when they think of your average oil company executive. ;)

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garygid
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Re: Peak Oil has Likely Come and Gone - Now What?

Thu May 06, 2010 10:21 am

If a country has limited internal oil reserves, shouldn't it require saving that limited national resource for "later" use, as long as it can still buy enough from other sources at "workable" prices?
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LTLFTcomposite
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Re: Peak Oil has Likely Come and Gone - Now What?

Thu May 06, 2010 10:55 am

KarenRei wrote:Who said anything about batteries? All of mine are corded; it's no more of a hassle than vacuuming with a cord is. Less, IMHO, as you have a lot more room to maneuver. And my Iowa lot is probably bigger than your Florida lot ;) Also, how on Earth are you only using two gallons of gas a year on a lawn in Florida? In Houston, lawns had to be mowed weekly in the summer, and I imagine Florida is just as bad (up here in Iowa, it's closer to every two weeks) -- probably ~30 mowings a year. Two gallons of gas is, what, 2-4 hours of mowing? Lastly, you'll find that studies on almost any device that consumes energy find that the embodied energy is notably less than the energy consumed during its lifetime. For cars, for example, the average I've seen is usually around 3/4ths of the energy consumed and 1/4th embodied -- of which you can get a fair chunk back through recycling at end-of-life.

Honestly, with mowers, the big problem environmentally isn't so much the oil consumption or CO2 emissions -- it's the pollution. Lawnmower engines are appallingly dirty. This page quotes an EPA study stating, "One old gas powered lawn mower running for an hour emits as much pollution as driving 650 miles in a 1992 model automobile". And you're walking behind it breathing this stuff in! And any non-photocatalytically destroyed VOCs, PM, unburnt oil, etc is settling on your plants and soil.

All issues of pollution and oil consumption aside, I'd never go back to gasoline yard tools simply because electric is so darned convenient. No yanking on start cords, stop at a moment's notice to chat with someone and then start at a moment's notice again, lighter, quieter, and dare I even say, usually more powerful. That and I don't like coating my yard, garden, and lungs with toxic stuff, of course.

No, but kudos to you for being better prepared for hurricanes than most people in the Gulf that I know. :P I assume you also take the time to trim all of your trees of potentially dangerous branches before hurricane season starts every year? So few people do that, and it can cost you a roof. :P


I would estimate about 40 cuts a year, with intervals ranging from 5 days at the peak of the growing season to 5 weeks in the dead of winter. The mower runs about 30 minutes per cutting, and will do the lawn twice on one tank. I'm not sure about the tank size but I don't think it's more than a quart. Some crappy briggs and stratton from home depot would be inefficient and dirty, this is a honda OHV engine that never burns a drop of oil. I bet the stat you quoted is for an old 2-cycle lawn boy. People trying to make a point always jump on the most extreme case they can find. Now the 2-cycle trimmer and blower are probably another story. Those are migrating to 4-stroke engines, although slowly.

Two gallons is probably an exaggeration but I really don't think it's more than four or five tops. Compared to the 1000 gallons a year we use in the car it just isn't a consideration. Besides I like the smell of fresh cut grass mixed with exhaust. Everybody has to die of something.

Yeah the trees are all trimmed... didn't even have to use a chain saw, although I probably should have on the couple of hardwoods. The palms you just do with a saw blade on the end of a 30 foot pole. The coconuts can be like missiles in a storm :-)
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chijayhawker
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Re: Peak Oil has Likely Come and Gone - Now What?

Thu May 06, 2010 11:09 am

KarenRei wrote:The biggest example that comes to mind is the Koch family, who actually owns their own oil company. And to be honest, the Koch family is the sort of people that most people think of when they think of your average oil company executive. ;)


And the Koch family is pretty much concentrated evil especially considering they are in the same crowd as the Rev. Phelps and his nutbag followers.

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Re: Peak Oil has Likely Come and Gone - Now What?

Thu May 06, 2010 1:38 pm

LTLFTcomposite wrote:I can tell none of you live in Florida. Only manned space flight requires a greater energy density than keeping a St Augustine lawn at bay during the growing season. Besides, converting to an electric mower and replacing the batteries every couple years would require more energy (manufacturing and shipping) than the two gallons a year I am using now.


My yard's also spread with that horrible genetic mutation of crabgrass. :D

The battery mowers are good for maybe 1/4 acre on a charge, so not the best choice for a large yard unless one wants to practice their patience. But I can tell from your point of view on batteries that you're likely thinking 'lead acid' and not lithium. The Black and Decker I converted two years ago got three years from the Panasonic sealed lead acid pack. Lead should be good for 200-300 cycles. The LiFePO4 pack in the mower now will deliver at least 1500 hard cycles - and more the way we use the mower. I'll likely never have to replace the battery in the mower, since the 1500-2000 cycles is only until capacity drops to 80% of new - and that's still enough to do the entire lawn.

LTLFTcomposite wrote:Eliminating the lawn isn't an option. Some parts of the property are already in a semi-natural state and there are over 30 trees on what most would call a postage stamp sized lot. But letting it all go to pot would look like hell, not to mention the HOA would be all over me.

We haven't even talked about the 5kw honda generator sitting in the garage for hurricane season. Can I convert that to electric too? Plug the charger into itself and create a perpetual motion machine?


You need the genset. But you don't run it 24/7 or probably even monthly. Sarcasm aside, this isn't likely to be an environmental disaster, right? ;)

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Re: Peak Oil has Likely Come and Gone - Now What?

Thu May 06, 2010 2:00 pm

AndyH wrote:You need the genset. But you don't run it 24/7 or probably even monthly. Sarcasm aside, this isn't likely to be an environmental disaster, right? ;)


Since Wilma in 2005 when it probably ran about 100 hours, the only time it runs is once or twice a year when I wheel it out onto the driveway, put about a pint of gas in it and run it until the gas is gone. It annoys my wife a bit because I take her hair dryer and some small kitchen appliances out onto the driveway with it to put load on it.

Once they improve them a little more and get the prices down I'd like to convert all the bulbs on a lighting circuit to LED and rig up a little inverter/solar panel arrangement with an alarm battery.
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KarenRei
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Re: Peak Oil has Likely Come and Gone - Now What?

Thu May 06, 2010 2:13 pm

chijayhawker wrote:And the Koch family is pretty much concentrated evil especially considering they are in the same crowd as the Rev. Phelps and his nutbag followers.


Oh, come now, the Kochs are just normal people. They skin their kittens for breakfast one leg at a time, just like the rest of us.


;)

AndyH
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Re: Peak Oil has Likely Come and Gone - Now What?

Thu May 06, 2010 2:29 pm

Karen,

Thank you very much for your description of the oil industry and her people. I see a very real comparison with my military background. Not only are the groups made up of a very diverse assortment of people, but there's a significant disconnect between what 'is' and the public impression of the group.

Coming from a big-picture and information validity viewpoint, disconnects like this make it much more difficult for us to understand what's happening and how the pieces fit together. It's bad enough that we each interpret the information we receive differently. One example:

I was part of a number of exercise scripting teams - we wrote scenarios and managed the release of information to the upper management folks that were being evaluated. We were in our little room with our maps, timelines, and plan in place. They were in their room with blank tablets and blank maps. About 2 hours into the exercise there were small but significant differences between what we fed them and how they interpreted it then used it to create their view of 'reality.' By the time the exercise ended two days later we were in two completely different worlds. It was clear in the post exercise analysis that they reacted correctly to what they thought was happening, it was also clear that they failed miserably to solve the actual problem. (I'll have to check with Michio Kaku - I think we proved the existence of parallel universes. :D )

Some years later bits of the puzzle clicked into place when a researcher presented info on how our brain and senses work together to determine our perceptions. A person that believes trees are bad will feel good when they destroy a tree - they think they're helping improve the area for everyone and expect a big thank you from his neighbors. The neighbors that love trees will mourn the loss of the tree and want to string 'ax boy' up by his ankles for being such a moron. The third group that doesn't care one way or another don't see what the fuss is about. From within their views of the world, they're all 'correct'.

On top of this, we have intentionally bad or just moderately 'shifted' information - often due to someone's attempt at marketing.

Seems to me that if we choose to 'change the world' by declaring war on pollution, we're doomed from the start. We have plenty of examples of how not to fix a problem - how did prohibition, the war on drugs, and now the war on terrorism work for us? ;)

From an energy standpoint - and taking another look at the charts you posted - maybe we have time to start a slow walk to where we want to go.

Thanks again, Karen. My head's spinning. :D

Andy
Last edited by AndyH on Thu May 06, 2010 4:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

AndyH
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Re: Peak Oil has Likely Come and Gone - Now What?

Thu May 06, 2010 4:31 pm

Matthijs wrote:


"This shows the tension of the debate."

Yes! He communicates very clearly the disconnect between folks with different views and the communication challenges that 'disconnect' creates!

Vielen Dank Matthijs! Bloody brilliant!

Andy

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Re: Peak Oil has Likely Come and Gone - Now What?

Sun May 16, 2010 9:02 pm

Found these in a briefing in San Antonio's 'get ready for EVs' collection.

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