I have already written a bit about the peak oil issue in the context of James Kunstler's prediction of the financial crisis. And I said I will return to it.
Right now, when oil prices have plunged from record highs, peak oil may not seem to be a big issue. But the price swings may be deceptive. The present downturn is obviously not due to increased production but rather to the expectation of a global recession and hence reduced demand. If advance stories on the World Energy Outlook 2008, due to be released by the International Energy Agency next week, are correct, even the previously optimistic IEA warns of a return of high oil prices and supply problems. Ironically, the current crisis leading to low oil prices may worsen the problem in the future. A UK industry taskforce also seems to be concerned.
However, there is still debate whether peak oil is a real threat. Somehow this reminds me of the debate about the reality of the climate change threat. I have written about some bogus arguments against climate change. Today I'd like to look at such an argument against the possibility of a peak in oil production.
The argument, which links to a previous post, is that oil in fact is not of biogenic origin and therefore severely limited, but rather of abiogenic, deep origin, and therefore present in vast quantities that we only need to tap. Does this argument stand up to a reality check?
Hardly. The foremost western proponent of the abiogenic oil theory is Jack Kenney, who indeed posts several anti-peak-oil articles on his website. I have already written about my weird experience with Kenney, based on which I certainly don't trust him. But his theory is also thoroughly refuted by many experts in the field.
Interestingly, the economic papers published on Kenney's website, which all refute the notion of limited oil supplies, mostly do not seem to refer to the abiogenic petroleum theory. They are authored by M. C. Lynch and P. Odell, which appear to be quite well-informed experts in the oil business. I wonder if these authors are aware of the fact that their articles are promoted on a rather dubious webpage. It certainly does not increase their credibility...