Oil System Collapsing so Fast It May Derail Renewables

Article subtitle: 
Oil and gas industries are cannibalising themselves as the costs of fossil fuel extraction mount
Article author: 
Nafeez Ahmed
Article publisher: 
Byline Times
Article date: 
9 October 2021
Article category: 
Our American Future
Article Body: 

A team of French government energy scientists are warning that the collapse of the global oil system is coming so rapidly it could derail the transition to a renewable energy system if it doesn’t happen fast enough. In just 13 years, global oil production could enter into a terminal and exponential decline, accompanied by the overall collapse of the global oil and gas industries over the next three decades.

But this is not because the earth is running out of oil and gas. Rather, it’s because they are increasingly eating themselves to stay alive. The oil and gas industries are consuming exponentially more and more energy just to keep extracting oil and gas. That’s why they’ve entered a downwards spiral of increasing costs of production

Energy Return On Investment (EROI)

The key to understanding all this is in how the new study, published in Elsevier’s Applied Energy journal, applies the concept of ‘Energy Return On Investment’ (EROI).

Pioneered by systems ecologist Professor Charles Hall (whom I worked with on my book Failing States, Collapsing Systems) EROI measures how much energy you must use to extract energy for a given resource or technology. , diminishing profits, rising debt and irreversible economic decline.... 

iN 1950, the EROI of global oil production was really high, at about 44:1 (meaning, for every unit of energy we put in, we were getting a whopping 44 out). Yet as the graph below from the new study illustrates, this value has undergone a shockingly steep decline. 
By 2020, it reached around 8:1, and is projected to decline and plateau to around 6.7 from 2040 onwards.

EROEI by 2050

By 2024 – within the next four years – the amount of energy we are using for global oil production is going to increase to 25% of energy production. In other words, the world will be using a quarter of the energy produced from oil just to keep producing that oil.....

By 2050, fully half of the energy extracted from global oil reserves will need to be put back into new extraction to keep producing oil. The authors have an interesting name for this self-defeating phenomenon: they call it, “energy cannibalism.”

Energy required to produce energy by 2050



Degrowth and the Great Reset, by Fred Elbel, CAIRCO, October 17, 2021.

How Much Degrowth is Enough? by Fred Elbel, CAIRCO, October 31, 2013.

Immigration, Population Growth, and the Environment, by Leon Kolankiewicz, Center for Immigration Studies, April 2015.

Why a Great Reset Based on Green Energy Isn’t Possible, by Gail Tverberg, July 17, 2020.

Book: Blip: Humanity's 300 year self-terminating experiment with industrialism. by Chris Clugston.

Book: The Essence of Oil & Gas Depletion, by C.J.Campbell.

The decline of industrial civilization - The Social Contract - Spring 2007. Collection of articles, including: