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EIA IEO 2007 ... Great resource, lousy predictions?

by a siegel Thu May 24th, 2007 at 05:48:36 AM EST

The Department of Energy's Energy Information Agency released the International Energy Outlook 2007.  As with always, what a magnificent resource -- a tremendous amount of data that anyone interested in energy issues will be citing.

Their rearward look -- what's happened already -- invaluable.

Their forward look -- what will happen -- would be laughable if it weren't so sad.

from the diaries. -- Jérôme

Multiple sources have Saudi oil under serious threat (such as this opus, Depletion Levels in Ghawar), with serious concerns about the potential collapse of Saudi production.  EIA seems oblivious to this potential.  A comment from a former EIA employee, who is often supportive of the organization and who is not a big believer in Peak Oil:

"here's a huge problem with the EIA forecast: a projection of Saudi output in 2030 16.4 million barrels per day, up from 8.9 million barrels per day in 2010.  Although EIA has been lowering Saudi output projections for several years now (EIA used to forecast Saudi output at 22.5 million barrels per day in 2025!), this still appears WAY too optimistic, even if you don't buy into the "peak oil"/"Twilight in the Desert" school of thought.  The problem is, if the Saudis can't increase oil output as EIA assumes (and note that this IS a modeling assumption, nothing more), we're in big trouble."

In the face of every mounting predictions / warnings of Peak Oil, EIA is telling our political leadership that:

World liquids consumption in the IEO2007 reference case increases from 83 million barrels per day in 2004 to 118 million barrels per day in 2030.

Of that 35 million barrels/day (mbd) increase, roughly 10 million barrels s to come from "unconventional liquids" (oil sands, ultra-heavy crudes, biofuels, coal-to-liquids).

Continuing the fantasy, the "worst" (high oil price) case has oil up to $100 barrel in 2030, roughly a 50% increase from today and, in real terms, just 25% above 1980's level. For those concerned about peak oil, that is a rosy scenario.

And, well, production shows a linear increase, showing no sign of having problems keeping up with demand. Again, even in the face of growing evidence of Peak Oil.  (Note, it is interesting that the chapter on oil does not even have the words "Peak Oil". I guess that if you don't talk about something, it simply does not exist.)

Well, let's turn to another 'if you don't talk about it issue. Finally, EIA ignores An Inconvenient Truth with projections of carbon dioxide emissions growing from 25 billion metric tons/globally/year to 43 billion metric tons. This might be the case and, if so, that would mean that the world threw in the towel in attempting to do anything in regards to Global Warming.

Now, to be honest, the problem here is somewhat different. EIA is basically following Business as Usual (BAU) analysis. It would be inappropriate for them to put as the core case that the United States (and world) undertakes a revolution when it comes to GHG emissions and fossil fuel use. But, they lay out a rather distressing indication of where things are heading in terms of pumping out CO2. BAU ... will kill us. We can't afford to be stupid anymore is my reaction to this graphic. But, that is my reaction to the EIA forecast. We can't afford to be stupid anymore and this sort of forecasting, simply assuming that the energy will be there -- at an affordable price -- is stupid. As per Lou Grinzo at The Cost of Energy,

I've made no secret of my love/hate relationship with the DOE/EIA. For historical data they're indispensable, as they do a phenomenal job of organizing and presenting a medium-size mountain of data. But their projections? Not so much.

Well said, Lou, well said.

Cross-posted from Ecotality.

IEA 2007 ... Great resource, lousy predictions?

I couldn't agree more.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Thu May 24th, 2007 at 07:51:02 AM EST
would be laughable if it weren't so sad

For humor value CERA's written denial of peak oil coupled with predicting just that in their subsequent chart won't ever be topped. Long live the undulating plateau.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Thu May 24th, 2007 at 07:35:04 PM EST
What's even sadder is that there are only two comments, given that energy is the underlying issue to every social and political problem our "developed" societies face.

But it's not at all surprising that the EIA has been perverted just as the so-called Dept of Justice has been waylaid by power machiavellians masquerading as bible thumpers.  NASA can't have scientific discussions of climate change, and even the weather agency is subject to political review, though it doesn't seem to change the reality-based weather.

The question begging to be discussed is whether the amurkan system is broken beyond repair or not.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Thu May 24th, 2007 at 08:23:36 PM EST
Well, a number of people chose to recommend this ...

And, the truth is, this is not a new problem -- this has been the issue with EIA for years. This is just the latest installment of a series of predictions detached from reality.

And, I am not sure that I have the courage to wade through this, paragraph by paragraph, somewhat fearful that I don't have enough red ink in my pens to handle the read.  But, I expect to see those detailed analyses coming out.

Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart. NOW!!!

by a siegel (siegeadATgmailIGNORETHISdotPLEASEcom) on Thu May 24th, 2007 at 11:48:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Always remember that the IEA is an OECD organization and it's in its interest to keep energy prices down, as the OECD is an energy importer.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Fri May 25th, 2007 at 02:11:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This has been said in many different ways on this blog (and on similar places) that some of us can but nod in weary agreement. I front paged the story, but did not have much to add.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat May 26th, 2007 at 03:19:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
been quite explicit in acknowleding / stating that.  After all, you've written some pretty strong critiques of EIA work, with documenting how off they've been on issues.

Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart. NOW!!!
by a siegel (siegeadATgmailIGNORETHISdotPLEASEcom) on Tue May 29th, 2007 at 06:40:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
All this "ever exponential" progress is possible only because we tapped into the oil sea of cheap energy. Once energy availability starts to decline... growth addicts won't like it, to put it mildly.
by das monde on Sat May 26th, 2007 at 08:07:11 AM EST

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