Peak Oil Passnotes: CERA's Silly Season (Source: Mineweb)

By Edward Tapamor
18 Jan 2008 at 03:11 PM GMT-05:00

PARIS ( -- In the United Kingdom there is a time each year known as the ‘silly season’. It is when parliament has recessed so the poor downtrodden members of parliament can have their holidays. Back in the day before wall to wall 24-hour news channels sprayed our living rooms with infotainment people said the news was ‘sillier’ with items about skateboarding cats and so on.

These days we should have an oil ‘silly season’ because surely this is what the ‘analysts’ at Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA) have come up with this week, silliness.

They have placed their latest bit of anti peak oil ‘research’ in the media at a time when news is a bit slow in order to play their PR game, that is speak up for the oil industry. They start by claiming that their “analysis demonstrates that the aggregate global decline rate for fields currently in production is approximately 4.5% per year, and that annual field decline rates are not increasing with time.”

CERA believes that their figure is lower than the “8% rate cited in many studies and projections.” Well it is not. There is not a generally accepted figure. The figure they are talking about comes from those pesky meddling kids at the International Energy Agency (IEA) who reckon that 8% per annum is roughly correct. I mean who is the IEA when you have a load of industry consultants who make their money from oil companies?

“Some of the more gloomy, pessimistic ‘peak oil’ views about the future of oil supplies that are current today result from an assumption of high decline rates,” said CERA’s Peter Jackson. “This new analysis provides the basis for more confidence about the future availability of oil.”

So why are they even talking about peak oil? Why do they feel the need to refute it? Is CERA refuting the arrival of tonnes of oil from our new Martian overlords? Is it refuting the creation of oil by squeezing dry every last Big Mac? No, because it does not bother them, but they are bothered by peak oil.

CERA brought out another bit of free analysis – note the word ‘free’ - ridiculing peak oil ideas last year. Then they ended up by saying that there would be no peak in production but instead an “undulating plateau” last as long as decades, which would be fine apart from the fact this is exactly what many peak oil pundits think themselves.

CERA seems to have missed a small point that in order to consume 85 million barrels per day at a 4.5% decline rate each year means continually adding 3.8 million barrels of new production each year. Because even better is CERA’s brilliant notion that if you include condensates and gas-to-liquids there will be 100 million barrels per day of capacity – not production mind you – by the end of 2009. That is right, in under two years. Brilliant, you could not make this stuff up. Well, you could....

But let us not be flippant. We must of course bow down to the greater knowledge of CERA and await the arrival of those very same Martian overlords who will provide us with their new technologies. Because of course, if we get to 100 million barrels per day of capacity by the end of 2009, that is exactly what we will need.

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