In The Belly Of The BP

I was warned. And it’s true. BP are so protective of their company image that they live in denial. I should know. I’ve been inside the belly of the beast and spoken to one of their head sustainability honchos. Who had a total disconnect about the risks of Fossil Fuel depletion.

“Oil and gas will remain the mainstay of the “Energy mix”. We’ve said that publicly…”

So they’re telling the world what to believe, are they ?

“…The fact is, given that developing countries will develop as rapidly as they can, [and Fossil Fuels are the only option readily available], Fossil Fuels will remain a [large factor in the global economy]. Renewable Energy will probably account for between 5% and 6% by 2030. The real [opening] is for [Natural] Gas, the transition…cleaner burning fuel…new resources…shale gas in the US…”

I posed the question of falling EROEI to the representative of the UK’s largest company formerly known as British Petroleum :-

“About a Century ago for American petroleum, you invested one unit of Energy for every 100 units returned; this has slowly dropped until it’s about 30 units for every unit input. Shale gas is hard to mine. You put more energy in for the same return…”

The BP man did not understand. He thought I meant you put more Energy in overall for the Energy returned, which would be ridiculous. I explained I meant you need to use more Energy to get gas from shale than with “conventional” sources of Natural Gas.

BP Guy got the point, sort of : “The cost of supply is not solely down to a function of the technology. Yes, Energy is used as an input, to make the gas available to the market. Yes, we are going into more challenging technologies. [It’s like we assert] if you have an economic price of Carbon all these sorts of issues would then become apparent and Renewable Energy would become more competitive. [Carbon pricing would] help us all make rational decisions…the same argument as [critiquing the exploitation of] oil sands. Let’s say the price of Carbon is universally [applied] – then business will only invest in projects that are economically viable…”

Talk about skirting the issue. The issue is not cost, or even relative cost. The issue is : Fossil Fuels are depleting.

“Unconventional” Fossil Fuels are more energy-intensive to mine and could become unviable under peaking scenarios – especially if there were a Carbon Emissions rationing mechanism – so they should not be relied upon.

In fact, the very fact that the Oil and Gas “Majors” are diving into “unconventional” Fossil Fuels should be the clearest of indications that Fossil Fuels are depleting – past the peak of production, but also past the peak of supply in the Earth’s crust.

All the recent oil and gas wells are really, really deep. They’re scraping the bottom of the geological barrel.

The timeframe for Peak Fossil Fuels could be right upon us, staring us in the face.

We need to have a darn sight more Renewable Energy on-stream before 2030.

Yet BP continue to live in denial.

Instead of calling it for what it is : Fossil Fuel Depletion, the CEO Tony Hayward introduces us to his fantasy narrative of “Peak Demand”, just so the shareholders don’t get scared, I suppose :-

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/feb/04/tony-hayward-bp-interview

“I personally – and BP – have never believed we will see peak oil because of supply. We always believed we would see peak oil because of demand. There will come a time – I believe it is beyond 2020 – when because of the changes in the energy portfolio, because of the drive for energy efficiency, because of the introduction of biofuels, demand for oil will peak.”

Could it be that he’s started this line of argument because the Biofuels projects aren’t working ?

For years the large oil and gas companies have promised us they will do better. BioDiesel didn’t work out, so they’ve been promising us BioTechnology from Genetically Modified bacteria to make “second generation” BioFuels from non-food crops and food crop waste.

This green dream could well have imploded.

All we read in the Press is that the Biofuels projects have a fine and dandy future, but that could just be to keep the Carbon bean counters and the shareholders happy.

These new plants could well be merely showy window-dressing. Nobody can tell us about potential production volumes :-

http://www.businessgreen.com/business-green/news/2236895/bp-biofuels-grass

2 thoughts on “In The Belly Of The BP”

  1. Really, Jo? So now your 2:2 from Warwick University back in the 80’s makes you better qualified than all the petroleum geologists working for multi-billion-pound oil companies? Hard to square that with your spotty employment history. Have you ever considered that you might be a crank who wasted her life on a silly and wrong-headed obsession?

  2. Oh dear, looks like someone didn’t get enough attention from mummy and daddy when he was a baby.

    Funny that you should come here seeking attention though.

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