Energy Return on Energy Invested

Thought I’d revisit this, particularly after questioning David Caygill a week ago – I don’t think he gets it, and I don’t regard him as a mediocre intellect…

If it took a barrel of oil, to push, pump, cack and produce a barrel of oil, then the net gain is nil. It’s not worth doing.

That is true whether the barrel is trading at $!, or $1,000,000.

This is where economists get it wrong.

We started with the likes of Drake and Titusville, or Reynolds and Kirkuk (F7, Masjid-i-Sulaiman, for instance) and an EROEI OF PERHAPS 100:1.

We are now water-cutting the likes of Ghawar (the biggest field of them all, started 1948, peaked 1980-81) using more seawater pumped in, than oil is taken out. We are in the deep ocean, we are horizontal drilling, contemplating coal (and worse, lignite, which is one better than peat) and we have cherry-picked the light sweet crude, and avoided the sours – much like the bikkies that remain from the Christmas assortment.

So the energy return, for the effort expended, is reducing. Caygill put it another way – unwittingly. He defended rising power prices, noting that the cheapest generating option was next, followed by the next cheapest, and the next…. So they get more ‘expensive’. I see it as taking more effort, so less energy return.

Physics – and Mother Nature – care not a fig for $$$$$. Things either are, or they aren’t. Energy ‘is’.

We are down to somewhere around 15:1, globally. Think of China’s coal conveyor-belt from Australia, for example. Cant be as efficient as a Beverly-Hilbillies gusher in you own country, can it?

It takes energy to turn coal/lignite into fuel, and to extract same.

The worst part, is that if the Climate Science is right, we will need to sequester the carbon – presumably from the conversion process, hard to see it happening from the exhaust-pipes. That will take a lot of energy – if indeed it is physically possible. It hasn’t been proven yet – a discontinued effort in the North Sea, and a trial in Aussie.

My guess is that the resultant EROEI of lignite to fuel, sequestered, would be below 8:1, and that is the best estimate of the energy content required for Business as Usual.

Note: that’s not for exponential growth, that’s just to tread water.

Until your supply peaks.

Unfortunately, they don’t teach physics in Econ 101.

this is the whole of it, better put:


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