Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Latest Numbers On Arctic Oil and Gas Potential

Some interesting readings I came across on hydrocarbon resources and challenges over the last few days. has published a report by the Energy Information Administration on the latest estimates of undiscovered technically recoverable oil and gas resources of the Arctic basins.

And the number is large - about 400 billion barrels of oil equivalent or about 20 odd percent of the world's undiscovered resources. This is an estimate based on occurrence of geologically favorable conditions in various Arctic basins. These are resources or potential. They will be or rather a fraction of these will be added to reserves only when someone drills and more directly estimates the amount of hydrocarbons that can be economically recovered.

We won't be running out of oil and gas or other fossil fuels like coal soon,  geologically, and BP's chief executive officer Tony Hayward thinks that in 2030 fossil fuels will still be meeting 80% of the world's energy needs.  He explains his position in a speech given at the Oil and Money conference, London. The title of the conference conjures up images of greedy petro-oligarchs doing everything to maintain a vice-like grip on the supremacy of fossil fuels, but the changeover to renewables won't be easy given the enormous gap that exists between the contributions from fossil fuels and renewables to our energy mix. India for example generates 70% of its electricity from coal and has plans to build plenty of coal fired power plants in the near future. The contribution of solar and wind to power generation in India is currently negligible. The U.S generates about 46% of power from coal and the contribution of non-hydro renewables to power generation is just 3%.

If fossil fuels are going to be an important if slowly declining part of our energy mix for some time to come then Geoffrey Styles of Energy Outlook argues that we rethink our reluctance to pursue low emissions strategies like carbon capture and sequestration (CCS). He writes on not just the technological and economic challenges facing CCS but also a public backlash against it based on  - he thinks - a lack of education among the public about geological principles and the efficacy and safety of CCS.

Plenty to think about as the Copenhagen climate change summit nears.

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