Thursday, April 22, 2010

Will toe-to-heel air injection extend the oil age?

My latest column on Scitizen entitled "Will Toe-to-Heel Air Injection Extend the Oil Age?" has now been posted. Here is the teaser:

When the oil optimists say that new technology will extend the oil age for at least several more decades, they almost never discuss the limitations of technology, practical or financial. Nor do they like to discuss possible side effects that could render such technology unusable. But the discussion around a new method of heavy oil extraction called toe-to-heel air injection includes mention of both limitations and side effects. For that reason I give the patent holders a much better chance of developing a technique that could make a significant contribution to oil supplies while addressing environmental objections that could doom other methods....Read more

5 comments:

Weaseldog said...

I'm forbidden from viewing that article...

On a previous comment from RDatta, "When the decline in extraction rates sets in, that suggestion will become invalid."

The EIA is forecasting a paltry 1.5% increase in oil production for 2010. As they have a long history of forecasting higher numbers than actually occur, we shouldn't be surprised if we don't see a decline instead.

The EIA has had a 100% record of success in predicting growth. Because they always predict growth. But their success at predicting downturns is 0%. They've never predicted one.

Henry Warwick said...

so if you burn 10% of the oil in place, then how much of that gets turned into GHG and how much of the GHG will make its way to the surface?

Let's say they do this in Athabsca, and Orinoco.

Athabasca etc: 1.7 trillion barrels
Orinoco: 500 billion barrels

So, let's round it all off to 2 trillion barrels. 10% of that is 2 hundred billion barrels.

200 billion barrels.

Convert that into CO2, CO, etc. before you even burn the rest for fuel.

Methinks this is not such a good ideeeer.

Kurt Cobb said...

Henry makes an important point. I don't think all of the resource in either the tar sands or the Orinoco belt will be exploited for reasons I state in the piece. I'll be surprised if more than 10 or 20 percent is actually amenable to THAI. That said, it's still a lot of greenhouse gas, and as Henry suspects, the combustion gases rise through the production wells either to be burned or vented.

KLR said...

The EIA has had a 100% record of success in predicting growth. Because they always predict growth. But their success at predicting downturns is 0%. They've never predicted one.

Perhaps not a downturn per se, but in the 1982 Annual Energy Outlook they predicted US oil consumption at 18 mb/d in 1985, declining to 16.99 mb/d in 1990. AEO 2009 predicts a rebound to 20.27 mb/d in 2013, declining slightly thereafter, then rebounding. These are about the only instances in these forecasts of declines in the reference case.

Some have pointed out that EIA low growth forecasts often suggest contracting demand, however.

Anonymous said...

Would not it be really better to "extend the oil age", after all?
(kidding...)