Meanwhile we continue to see signs that fossil fuels are running out, and prices will have to rise to satisfy the industry’s need for cash flow to make the huge investments needed just to keep crude oil and condensate production at today’s 82 mmbopd real rate (the higher rates you read about are inflated with NGL, which are increasing as natural gas production rises, as well as the refinery gains which result from hydrogenation of the refinery feed).
I started writing about this subject in 2013, when I saw the RCP8.5 paper, and realized it had a huge mistake built into its logic because it didn’t handle the industry need for ever increasing prices to justify extracting oil, gas, and coal. For those who don’t follow industry trends, I can point out that oil prices have had to increase way beyond inflation over the last 20 years. I remember preparing a detailed budget for a business unit in 1998 which assumed the price was $14 per barrel ($25 in today’s dollars). That price constrained what we could do somewhat, but the fields we had were good enough to justify several hundred million in new investments and nearly doubling production. Today, new investments in most areas outside the Middle East require at least $50, and many are on line after being approved assuming the price would be $80.
Although it may be hard to believe, natural gas will see the same trend, but with a delay. In 2040 natural gas prices will be a lot higher (I anticipate the first serious uptick in the USA market will take place this fall). And coal will follow.
I also believe there are potential new technologies which allow burning natural gas and coal using variations of existing turbine technology which will allow easier CO2 capture. But I can’t visualize where all that co2 can be injected unless the requirement that it be kept sealed forever be relaxed.
There’s also the fact that some areas have rocks which make injection a risky proposition because it can trigger earthquakes. And these earthquakes can be caused by density differences which make the bulk rock density change and reactivate faults (this means rate control won’t be enough, this is a highly specialized field which climatologists and most geoscientists know nothing about, therefore they haven’t even considered it).
I guess I’ll close by writing that the RCP8.5 and siblings all share the same serious flaw, and that I realize I’m getting a bit of traction but the majority of the individuals dealing with this problem haven’t got the foggiest idea of what’s really going on, and how serious it will be if we don’t develop new technologies to soften the impact as we run out of fossil fuels.