Peak oil? What peak oil?

An interesting article here talking about north America (including Canada)’s resurgence in home-grown energy, mostly from ‘tight oil’ — extracted with gas from shale rock formations, using the fracking process.

A few numbers:

  • By 2021 many analysts expect the US to pass Saudi Arabia and Russia in production of liquid hydrocarbons
  • Some estimate say the new gas reserves will last 100 years
  • This year petroleum accounted for 44% of the US trade deficit and these energy supplies hold the prospect of being able to reduce that figure by two thirds or more
  • In 2010 the US and Canada consumed around 22.5 million barrels of oil per day. If access is granted to new areas, production could rise to 22million b/d by 2035

All very compelling, and given these figures the outlook would be for more secure lines of supply, a greater amount of money recirculating in the north American economies, and an ability to maintain America’s position as world leader — against a China that will be “overwhelmingly dependent on energy imports”.

Environmental considerations are mentioned in passing, in the form of objections to the Keystone XL Pipeline that would take output from Canada to refineries in Texas.

Objections to the fracking process are also mentioned, though no detail is given of the negative impacts on animal and human health, through the poisoning of drinking water and water tables.

Similarly, no mention is made of the environmental impact of continuing to pump millions of tonnes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, with the resulting climate change, rainfall changes, negative impacts on agriculture and food production, creation of dust bowls, deaths from summer heatwaves, death of the oceans, and so on. (For a reminder of some of these click here.)

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