Renewable Energy reaches the end of the beginning?

A positive view of renewables from an oil publication

In April, 2010, BP took the front page, and held it for months, as it struggled to plug the blowout on the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico that would cough up 3 or 4 million barrels.

The Deepwater Horizon disaster was a bitter reminder of the coming difficulties and risk involved in getting what is left of the world’s oil reserves up and out of places that are a lot harder to get at – deep sea, where pressures are extreme; the arctic, where conditions are even more challenging; tar sands, the poster child for too much carbon; and in thousands of small, disparate patches, where ‘tight oil’ comes from driving water, sand and a few chemicals into fissures miles underground. In the U.S., these wells average around 100 barrels a day (see chart below). Herding cats does not seem a likely way to make the U.S. the swing producer to knock Saudi Arabia off its perch.

Things got harder for explorers as 2014 came to an end, and the price of Brent, the international benchmark, was well on its way to a total 61 percent fall in under 12 months. The question is not so much whether the price of oil will be high enough to get the next trillion barrels out of the ground (roughly the current world rate of consumption for another 30 years); it is whether or not the climate can “afford” to have that happen. Peak oil, whether from insufficient supply or demand, makes for an interesting cocktail party discussion. It has even become a political litmus test. However, it is largely irrelevant. Sheik Yamani’s dictum, that the Stone Age did not end because we ran out of stones, should not be dismissed.

Read more: Oil Price

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