Tag Archives: Chris Martenson

Shale Oil & Gas: The Overhype

Richard Ha writes:

Art Berman says we don’t have as much shale oil and gas as we think we do. He feels that the shale oil and gas sector is largely uneconomic.

The first time I heard Art Berman speak was on a panel discussion at a 2009 Association for the Study of Peak Oil conference. He studied four thousand Barnett shale wells in Texas and found that the average well gave up 72 percent of its production in the first year.

He definitely had a different perspective than an oil company executive panel member, who said that according to his hyperbolic curve calculations, the average well would produce for 22 years.

I knew someone was wrong. I thought that the oil company executive was just blowing smoke, to sell stocks. I imagined that by the end of the 22nd year, the amount of gas production from his gas well would fill a balloon an hour.

Many thousand of wells later, several credible studies from other sources, such as by this Post Carbon Institutes study by David Hughes, support Art Berman’s initial observations.

We need to pay attention to this because we rely on oil for seventy percent of our energy, and this makes Hawai‘i especially vulnerable. It’s much better to be safe than sorry.

The Big Island is lucky to have an alternative to oil and natural gas to make our base power electricity: Geothermal.

As time goes on, and as oil and natural gas prices rise, future generations will have a competitive advantage over the rest of the world. We will be over our geothermal “hot spot” for 500,000 to a million years.

It takes energy to do work. No energy, no work done. But it is the net energy left over from getting the energy that society uses to grow the economy. And since two-thirds of our economy is made up of consumer spending, it boils down to how much extra money the rubbah slippah folks have that will determine the health of our economy.

So Kumu Lehua was right. He asked me: “What about the rest?” 

That is the key question. What about our kupuna on fixed income? The single moms? The working homeless? If they had extra money, they could spend it and everyone would benefit. Farmers are price takers, not price makers, and they would benefit. If the farmers made money, the farmers would farm.

Asking what about the rest will help us with food security. It all boils down to cost. That is to say, what are the combination of things that gives us the best net energy profile? This is more about common sense than rocket science. If we take our time to look for two solutions for every problem and one more just in case, we will find the solutions that make us competitive with the rest of the world.

This, in the final analysis, is about survival and adaptation. And it is about all of us; not just a few of us.


‘Peak Cheap Oil’ & Slaves in the Basement

Richard Ha writes:

Have you looked at the free Crash Course series I’ve been posting? It's from Chris Martenson's blog Peak Prosperity and it's excellent. This chapter by Adam Taggart is on “Peak Cheap Oil,” and you can watch the current video (19:30) or read this chapter.  

Here’s a random bit I pulled from it, but it’s all this interesting:

In order to understand why oil is so important to our economy and our daily lives, we have to understand something about what it does for us.

We value any source of energy because we can harness it to do work for us.  For example, every time you turn on a 100-watt light bulb, it is the same as if you had a fit human being in the basement pedaling as hard as they could to keep that bulb lit. 

That is how much energy a single 100-watt light bulb uses. In the background while you run water, take hot showers, and vacuum the floor, it is as if your house is employing the services of at least 50 such extremely fit bike riders. 

This “energy slave count” if you will, exceeds that of some kings in times past. It can therefore truly be said that we are all living like kings. Although we may not appreciate that because it all seems so ordinary that we take it for granted.

And how much ‘work’ is embodied in a gallon of gasoline, our most favorite substance of them all? Well, if you put a single gallon in a car, drove it until it ran out, and then turned around and pushed the car home you’d find out. 

It turns out that a gallon of gas has the equivalent energy of 500 hours of hard human labor, or 12-and-a-half 40 hour work weeks.

So how much is a gallon of gas worth? $4 $10? If you wanted to pay this poor man $15 an hour to push your car home then we might value a gallon of gas at $7,500.

Here’s another example. It has been calculated that the amount of food that average North America citizen consumes in year requires the equivalent of 400 gallons of petroleum to produce and ship. At $4/gallon that works out to $1600 of your yearly food bill is spent on fuel, which doesn’t sound too extreme. 

However, when we consider that those 400 gallons represent the energy equivalent of 100 humans working year round at 40 hours a week, then it takes on an entirely different meaning.  

This puts your diet well out of the reach of most kings of times past. Just to put this in context, as it is currently configured, food production and distribution uses fully 2/3rds of our domestic oil production.  This is one reason why a cessation of imports would be, shall we say, disruptive….

How easily could we replace the role of oil in our style of consumer-led, growth-based economy? Not very.   

We currently use oil mainly for transportation, sitting at right around 70% of all oil consumption.  The next biggest block is for industrial purposes followed by residential which means heating oil…. 

Biofuels and coal could potentially fill some of these functions but certainly not without a massive reinvestment program and not anytime soon….

Mostly hidden from us in plain sight is Key Concept #10: The amount of work that oil performs in service to the average person is equivalent to having hundreds of slaves…. 

The next key concept of the crash course is that oil is a magical substance of finite supply but of unlimited importance. This cannot be overstated. 

Transitioning from one fuel source to another is a devilishly expensive proposition posing enormous challenges with respect to cost, scale and time. 

Our species transitioned over many decades from wood to coal because coal was a better fuel source. 

And we transitioned over several decades from coal to oil for the same reason. In both cases this happened because the new fuel source was plentiful, cheap, and higher-yielding in terms of energy output per unit of weight compared to the older fuel.

Nobody has been able to advance any candidates as our next source of transportation energy that is better than oil on all three counts. 

A common pushback to this point is a firm belief many people hold that new technological breakthroughs will ride to our rescue here. 

I’ll explain in a future chapter why this is very likely to prove a false hope.

All I’ll do here is remind you that technology is not a source of energy – it may well help us to better exploit our existing energy sources by extracting them more easily, or consuming them more efficiently – but technology can’t create energy for us. 

Read the rest

Hawaii is no longer isolated from the rest of the world, and it’s important we know what’s going on out there. This isn’t rocket science, and there are going to be winners and losers.

We know that two-thirds of our economy is made up of consumer spending – so how about we set a goal of increasing the discretionary income of the rubbah slippah folks?

We can do this by advocating for cheaper electricity, and for affordable locally grown food close to home.  

The Big Island’s electricity rates have been 25 percent higher than Oahu’s for as long as anyone can remember. And yet we “curtail,” or throw away, many megawatts of electricity every day.  

Geothermally-generated electricity costs half that of oil, and the Big Island will be sitting over the “hot spot” for 500,000 to a million years. The flanks of Maunakea could hold as much geothermal heat as the entire East Rift. The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) sits on top of a large portion of that geothermal heat. If the DHHL chooses to act decisively, it could improve its beneficiaries’ lives, as well as the rest of ours, in unimagined ways.

The Big Island Community Coalition fights for lower cost electricity. Here is a Huffington Post article about one of its successes.

From a risk assessment point of view, the rising oil price is much more dangerous than perceived GMO dangers. Trillions of meals have been served without one negative incident that can be attributed to GMOs.

The reason we see so many young people hitchhiking nowadays is not because of environmental protest. It’s because of lack of jobs! The average age of farmers is getting older every year and it’s because young farmers are having a tough time making money.

Lower electricity rates will give farmers’ customers more discretionary income to support the farmers. Technology that helps farmers to farm will lower farmers’ costs. The effect of banning GMOs is to force farmers to rely more on oil for the production of food. We should know that this is a dangerous path and will not help future generations.

If we agree on our final destination, we can get ourselves to a place where our future generations are winners, and not losers.


Hawaii Needs to Show the Way, Not Serve as a Warning

Robert Rapier and I have an article in Civil Beat today. Read the article here.

Hawaii Should Show Way to Better Energy Future

Over the past decade, world oil prices have advanced from approximately $25 per barrel to more than $100 per barrel. Had the price of oil merely kept pace with inflation, the $25 barrel in 2000 would have been worth just over $30 in 2010. Thus, there was a fundamental shift in the oil markets.

By 2005, the idea that the price increase was being caused by oil depletion – commonly referred to as “peak oil” – was receiving widespread attention. While some dismissed the idea of peak oil, instead offering up speculation, OPEC, growth in developing countries, or other geopolitical factors as the primary factors behind the advance in prices – oil production remained flat despite record high oil prices. Read the rest

The world is changing, and our next 20 years will be completely unlike the past 20 years. We need to adapt to this change.

We can start by taking a triple bottom line approach to the problem. We need to put the needs of the people first and foremost, we need to consider the effect on the environment and we must make sure that the investment makes sense. It isn’t the strongest that survive; it’s the ones who can adapt that survive.

Chris Martenson’s YouTube video explains in a commonsense way how the world is changing. Economic growth requires energy growth. Energy growth has hit a plateau and so economic growth is slowing down. If net energy starts to decline, there will be serious, and unpredictable, consequences.
We have geothermal, the gift of Pele, to help us cope. We must change and adapt.
Also from the Civil Beat article:

Because of our heavy dependence on oil, it has been said that Hawaii is the canary in the coal mine for the rest of the U.S. But in warning others of impending danger, the canary dies. We do not want to serve as a warning to others; we want Hawaii to be the beacon for the world to see how we have achieved a better future.


Peak Oil Is Here; See This Video Overview

The International Energy Association, in their World Energy Outlook for 2010, says Peak Oil has already happened.

If you don’t have a good grasp on what Peak Oil is – or even if you do – here’s a great video for you to watch. It’s one that puts Peak Oil into context very nicely.

This video is just one chapter of a series of videos making up The Crash Course by Chris Martenson, and I highly recommend the whole series. They are available to watch on YouTube.

Watch this video, and then know that here on the Big Island we have the possibility of using geothermal as our source of “base power.” It is cheap, proven technology and easy on the environment. And we have it in abundance here.

Chris Martenson is no fan of hydrogen because he assumes hydrogen will come from depleting sources of input – but cheap electricity from geothermal is an exception. We can make hydrogen using cheap “off peak” electricity and run the electricity through water to get the hydrogen. We can use the hydrogen as is.

Or we can combine it with nitrogen from air to make NH3, which is more efficient an energy carrier than H2 by 30 percent.

Air, water and geothermal are all here on the Big Island in abundance. The less we depend on importing energy, the better we will make it for future generations.


Chris Martenson Interview: Prepare While There Is Time

Chris Martenson was one of the more influential speakers I heard at the Peak Oil conference last month in Washington, D.C. Take a look at this interview with him from the Energy Bulletin.

Interview with Chris Martenson: “Prepare for peak oil while there is time.”

 by Alexander Ac

ASPO peak oil conference held in Washington was an unique opportunity to meet Dr. Chris Martenson. Chris is devoted to finances, economics, energy and environment and connects together these separate fields. He says that the next 20 years will be very different from the last 20 years. Peak oil “will change everything” and there is never too soon for preparations. The key is resilience, self-dependency and versatility. He is an optimist and believes that many people will survive peak oil happily – if they prepare themselves. As all people researching peak oil and its impacts, he advises people to get out of debt.

Read the full interview here