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The Bakken Formation

People who reject the peak-oil theory, like to point at the potential for extracting large amounts of fossil fuels by means of new technologies, first and foremost hydraulic fracturing (fracking). Many point at the Bakken Formation on the US-Canadian border as one of the most promising territories. This post presents arguments pro and con.


Richard Heinberg on shale:

1998, when the modern Peak Oil discussion was just hatching, the International Energy Agency, the US Department of Energy, and the US Geological Survey all issued forecasts that world oil production would grow steadily to achieve 120 million barrels per day by 2020, while prices would remain at the level of $20 per barrel (in 1998 dollars) even beyond that date… Neither the IEA, nor the DOE, nor the USGS, nor Daniel Yergin foresaw a situation in which crude oil production would flat-line for seven years beginning in 2005, or in which prices would whipsaw to record highs of up to $147 a barrel as they did in 2008… Still, there are a few observations that no serious energy analyst can dispute. Oil exploration and production costs are skyrocketing (Bernstein Research estimates that this year the industry needs prices in the range of $100 a barrel to justify new projects). The super-giant oilfields that still account for 60 percent of world crude production are aging, and so the more modest contribution of unconventionals, which are expected to be both expensive and slow to come on line, must push against a tide of depletion and decline. It’s only a question of when the overall global production decline begins, not if… Therefore, even if the number of barrels of liquid fuels delivered to market is still gradually increasing, the amount of useful net energy being made available by the petroleum and biofuels industries, when energy costs are accounted for, is probably already declining. And this is almost certainly true in the US—the poster child for unconventional oil production… As many peakists have been saying all along, we’ll know for sure precisely when global oil production peaks (in terms of rate of production in barrels per day) only when we can see a steady decline in the rear-view mirror. But by then it will be too late for society to prepare for the economic impacts of Peak Oil.

The American state of North Dakota is experiencing an oil boom. Using new technologies it is extracting oil thats previously been out of reach. Can this help solve Americas dependency on foreign oil? Spurred on by record high oil prices, North Dakotan farmers are going after hard to reach oil, and their land is finally making them rich. Dakota sits on the Bakken, a rock formation with huge potential oil reserves. With current technology, we can get 1% to 2% of the oil out of the Bakken, we may be able to collect 2 billion barrels, tells the President of North Dakotas Petroleum Council. Former oilman T. Boone Pickens believes America needs to end its reliance on foreign oil. Yet he doesnt think the oil reserves here are enough to fuel America, you can’t drill your way out he claims. Americas need for a new energy future looks set to bring yet more change, and wealth, to North Dakota.

The optimistic vision as promoted by the USGS.

Fracking sceptic Howard Kunstler about ‘peak fracking’.

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