In meinem Artikel “Eine entscheidende Ursache der aktuell steigenden Inflationsrate in der Eurozone: `Peak Oil´” bin ich unter anderem auf das von Michael T. Klare so bezeichnete kommende Zeitalter der “Extreme Energy” eingegangen.
Michael T. Klare hat seinerzeit auch einen Film mit dem Titel “Blood and Oil” mitproduziert, der sich mit der US-amerikanischen Aussenpolitik seit dem Zweiten Weltkrieg im Persischen Golf auseinandersetzt, die nicht zuletzt von den strategischen Interessen der USA hinsichtlich der grossen Ölreserven zahlreicher Staaten des Persischen Golfs motiviert ist. (Saudi Arabien, Irak, etc.).
Michael T. Klare geht davon aus, dass wir uns zunehmend auf eine kommende weltweite technische und energiewirtschaftliche Phase der sogenannten “Extreme Energy” zubewegen: “Extreme energy is a range of techniques for the production of energy from unconventional resources which share characteristics of being environmentally damaging or risky. Examples include exploitation of oil sands and shale oil, deepwater drilling, hydraulic fracturing, mountaintop removal mining, petroleum exploration in the Arctic, and natural gas hydrates.“
Nun, zum Thema des extrem umweltschädlichen und jetzt schon massiven Abbaus der sogenannten “tarsands” oder “oilsands” (Deutsch: Ölsande) in der kanadischen Provinz Alberta habe ich folgende Blogeinträge verfasst: “Dirty Oil” (2009)”, “To the Last Drop: Canada´s Dirty Oil Sands (2011)” und “H2Oil” (2009).
Und was nun das sogenannte “deepwater drilling” angeht, so erinnern sich meine Blogleser vielleicht genauso wie ich an den aberwitzigen Unfall der Ölbohrplattform “Deepwater Horizon” im April 2010 im Golf von Mexiko.
Über die “Deepwater Horizon” erfahren wir im entsprechenden Wikipedia-Eintrag zu dieser Ölbohrplattform: “Von der Deepwater Horizon wurde am 2. September 2009 im Tiber-Ölfeld in einer Meerestiefe von 1.250 Metern die bisher weltweit tiefste Bohrung ihrer Art bis in eine Teufe von 10.685 Meter getrieben”
Eine Folge dieses Unfalls war die “Ölpest im Golf von Mexiko 2010” mit massiven ökologischen Schäden.
Hier habt ihr einen klaren und ausführlichen Artikel von Michael T. Klare vom September 2009 mit dem Titel “The Era of Xtreme Energy: Life After the Age of Oil” in der amerikanischen Online-Zeitung “The Huffington Post” (die als erste kommerzielle amerikanische Onlinezeitung im Jahre 2012 einen Pulitzer-Preis erhielt).
In diesem Artikel mit dem Titel “The Era of Xtreme Energy: Life After the Age of Oil” stellt Michael T. Klare unter anderem fest: “The debate rages over whether we have already reached the point of peak world oil output or will not do so until at least the next decade. There can, however, be little doubt of one thing: we are moving from an era in which oil was the world’s principal energy source to one in which petroleum alternatives — especially renewable supplies derived from the sun, wind, and waves — will provide an ever larger share of our total supply. But buckle your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride under Xtreme conditions.
It would, of course, be ideal if the shift from dwindling oil to its climate-friendly successors were to happen smoothly via a mammoth, well-coordinated, interlaced system of wind, solar, tidal, geothermal, and other renewable energy installations. Unfortunately, this is unlikely to occur. Instead, we will surely first pass through an era characterized by excessive reliance on oil’s final, least attractive reserves along with coal, heavily polluting “unconventional” hydrocarbons like Canadian oil sands, and other unappealing fuel choices. (…).
Don’t be fooled by the fact that this grim new era will surely witness the arrival of many more wind turbines, solar arrays, and hybrid vehicles. Most new buildings will perhaps come equipped with solar panels, and more light-rail systems will be built. Despite all this, however, our civilization is likely to remain remarkably dependent on oil-fueled cars, trucks, ships, and planes for most transportation purposes, as well as on coal for electricity generation. Much of the existing infrastructure for producing and distributing our energy supply will also remain intact, even as many existing sources of oil, coal, and natural gas become exhausted, forcing us to rely on previously untouched, far more undesirable (and often far less accessible) sources of these fuels.
Some indication of the likely fuel mix in this new era can be seen in the most recent projections of the Department of Energy (DoE) on future U.S. energy consumption. According to the department’s Annual Energy Outlook for 2009, the United States will consume an estimated 114 quadrillion British thermal units (BTUs) of energy in 2030, of which 37% will be supplied by oil and other petroleum liquids, 23% by coal, 22% by natural gas, 8% by nuclear power, 3% by hydropower, and only 7% by wind, solar, biomass, and other renewable sources.
Clearly, this does not yet suggest a dramatic shift away from oil and other fossil fuels. On the basis of current trends, the DoE also predicts that even two decades from now, in 2030, oil, natural gas, and coal will still make up 82% of America’s primary energy supply, only two percentage points less than in 2009. (It is of course conceivable that a dramatic shift in national and international priorities will lead to a greater increase in renewable energy in the next two decades, but at this point that remains a dim hope rather than a sure thing.)
While fossil fuels will remain dominant in 2030, the nature of these fuels, and the ways in which we acquire them, will undergo profound change. Today, most of our oil and natural gas come from “conventional” sources of supply: large underground reservoirs found mainly in relatively accessible sites on land or in shallow coastal areas. These are the reserves that can be easily exploited using familiar technology, (…).
Ever more of these fields will, however, be depleted as global consumption soars, forcing the energy industry to increasingly rely on deep offshore oil and gas, Canadian oil sands, oil and gas from a climate-altered but still hard to reach and exploit Arctic, and gas extracted from shale rock using costly, environmentally threatening techniques. In 2030, says the DoE, such unconventional liquids will provide 13% of world oil supply (up from a mere 4% in 2007). A similar pattern holds for natural gas, especially in the United States where the share of energy supplied by unconventional but nonrenewable sources is expected to rise from 47% to 56% in the same two decades.
Just how important these supplies have become is evident to anyone who follows the oil industry’s trade journals or simply regularly checks out the business pages of the Wall Street Journal. Absent from them have been announcements of major discoveries of giant new oil and gas reserves in any parts of the world accessible to familiar drilling techniques and connected to key markets by existing pipelines or trade routes (or located outside active war zones such as Iraq and the Niger Delta region of Nigeria). The announcements are there, but virtually all of them have been of reserves in the Arctic, Siberia, or the very deep waters of the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. (…).
Given the potentially soaring costs involved in recovering these last tough-oil reserves, it’s no wonder that Canadian oil sands, also called tar sands, are the other big “play” in the oil business these days. Not oil as conventionally understood, the oil sands are a mixture of rock, sand, and bitumen (a very heavy, dense form of petroleum) that must be extracted from the ground using mining, rather than oil-drilling, techniques. They must also be extensively processed before being converted into a usable liquid fuel. Only because the big energy firms have themselves become convinced that we are running out of conventional oil of an easily accessible sort have they been tripping over each other in the race to buy up leases to mine bitumen in the Athabasca region of northern Alberta.
The mining of oil sands and their conversion into useful liquids is a costly and difficult process, and so the urge to do so tells us a great deal about our particular state of energy dependency. Deposits near the surface can be strip-mined, but those deeper underground can only be exploited by pumping in steam to separate the bitumen from the sand and then pumping the bitumen to the surface — a process that consumes vast amounts of water and energy in the form of natural gas (to heat that water into steam). Much of the water used to produce steam is collected at the site and used over again, but some is returned to the local water supply in northern Alberta, causing environmentalists to worry about the risk of large-scale contamination.
The clearing of enormous tracts of virgin forest to allow strip-mining and the consumption of valuable natural gas to extract the bitumen are other sources of concern. Nevertheless, such is the need of our civilization for petroleum products that Canadian oil sands are expected to generate 4.2 million barrels of fuel per day in 2030 — three times the amount being produced today — even as they devastate huge parts of Alberta, consume staggering amounts of natural gas, cause potentially extensive pollution, and sabotage Canada’s efforts to curb its greenhouse-gas emissions.
North of Alberta lies another source of Xtreme energy: Arctic oil and gas. Once largely neglected because of the difficulty of simply surviving, no less producing energy, in the region, the Arctic is now the site of a major “oil rush” as global warming makes it easier for energy firms to operate in northern latitudes. Norway’s state-owned energy company, StatoilHydro, is now running the world’s first natural gas facility above the Arctic Circle, and companies from around the world are making plans to develop oil and gas fields in the Artic territories of Canada, Greenland (administered by Denmark), Russia, and the United States, where offshore drilling in northern Alaskan waters may soon be the order of the day. (…).
So let’s be blunt: we are not (yet) entering the much-heralded Age of Renewables. That bright day will undoubtedly arrive eventually, but not until we have moved much closer to the middle of this century and potentially staggering amounts of damage has been done to this planet in a fevered search for older forms of energy.
In the meantime, the Era of Xtreme Energy will be characterized by an ever deepening reliance on the least accessible, least desirable sources of oil, coal, and natural gas. This period will surely involve an intense struggle over the environmental consequences of reliance on such unappealing sources of energy. In this way, Big Oil and Big Coal — the major energy firms — may grow even larger, while the relatively moderate fuel and energy prices of the present moment will be on the rise, especially given the high cost of extracting oil, gas, and coal from less accessible and more challenging locations.
One other thing is, unfortunately, guaranteed: the Era of Xtreme Energy will also involve intense geopolitical struggle as major energy consumers and producers like the United States, China, the European Union, Russia, India, and Japan vie with one another for control of the remaining supplies. Russia and Norway, for example, are already sparring over their maritime boundary in the Barents Sea, a promising source of natural gas in the far north, while China and Japan have tussled over a similar boundary dispute in the East China Sea, the site of another large gas field. All of the Arctic nations — Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia, and the United States — have laid claim to large, sometimes overlapping, slices of the Arctic Ocean, generating fresh boundary disputes in these energy-rich areas.
None of these disputes has yet resulted in violent conflict, but warships and planes have been deployed on some occasions and the potential exists for future escalation as tensions rise and the perceived value of these assets grows. And while we’re at it, don’t forget today’s energy hotspots like Nigeria, the Middle East, and the Caspian Basin. In the Xtreme era to come, they are no less likely to generate conflicts of every sort over the ever more precious supplies of more easily accessible energy.
For most of us, life in the Era of Xtreme Energy will not be easy. Energy prices will rise, environmental perils will multiply, ever more carbon dioxide will pour into the atmosphere, and the risk of conflict will grow. We possess just two options for shortening this difficult era and mitigating its impact. They are both perfectly obvious — which, unfortunately, makes them no easier to bring about: drastically speed up the development of renewable sources of energy and greatly reduce our reliance on fossil fuels by reorganizing our lives and our civilization so that we might consume less of them in everything we do.
That may sound easy enough, but tell that to governments around the world. Tell that to Big Energy. Hope for it, work for it, but in the meantime, keep your seatbelts buckled. This roller-coaster ride is about to begin” (Fettdruck von mir).
Nun, um auf Michael T. Klares Konzept der “Extreme Energy” zurückzukommen: Michael T. Klare erwähnt im Rahmen seines Konzepts der “Extreme Energy” auch das sogenannte “hydraulic fracturing“: “Extreme energy is a range of techniques for the production of energy from unconventional resources which share characteristics of being environmentally damaging or risky. Examples include exploitation of oil sands and shale oil, deepwater drilling, hydraulic fracturing, mountaintop removal mining, petroleum exploration in the Arctic, and natural gas hydrates”.