Hirsch report

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See also Robert L. Hirsch
The Hirsch report, the commonly referred to name for the report Peaking of World Oil Production: Impacts, Mitigation, and Risk Management, was created by request for the US Department of Energy and published in February 2005. It examined the likelihood of the occurrence of peak oil, the necessary mitigating actions, and the likely impacts based on the timeliness of those actions.

The Lead Author, Robert Hirsch, published a brief summary of this report in October 2005 for the Atlantic Council.


[edit] Intro

"The peaking of world oil production presents the U.S. and the world with an unprecedented risk management problem. As peaking is approached, liquid fuel prices and price volatility will increase dramatically, and, without timely mitigation, the economic, social, and political costs will be unprecedented. Viable mitigation options exist on both the supply and demand sides, but to have substantial impact, they must be initiated more than a decade in advance of peaking."

[edit] Projections

A number of industry petroleum geologists, scientists, and economists were listed with their global peak production projection.

Projected Date Source
2006-2007 Bakhtiari
2007-2009 Simmons
After 2007 Skrebowski
Before 2009 Deffeyes
Before 2010 Goodstein
Around 2010 Campbell
After 2010 World Energy Council
2010-2020 Laherrere
2016 EIA (Nominal)
After 2020 CERA
2025 or later Shell
Never OPEC

[edit] Conclusions

  • World oil peaking is going to happen, and will likely be abrupt.
  • Oil peaking will adversely affect global economies, particularly those most dependent on oil.
  • Oil peaking presents a unique challenge (“it will be abrupt and revolutionary”).
  • The problem is liquid fuels (growth in demand mainly from transportation sector).
  • Mitigation efforts will require substantial time.
    • 20 years is required to transition without substantial impacts
    • A 10 year rush transition with moderate impacts is possible with extraordinary efforts from governments, industry, and consumers
    • Late initiation of mitigation may result in severe consequences.
  • Both supply and demand will require attention.
  • It is a matter of risk management (mitigating action must come before the peak).
  • Government intervention will be required.
  • Economic upheaval is not inevitable (“given enough lead-time, the problems are soluble with existing technologies.”)
  • More information is needed to more precisely determine the peak timeframe.

[edit] Three scenarios

  • Waiting until world oil production peaks before taking crash program action leaves the world with a significant liquid fuel deficit for more than two decades.
  • Initiating a mitigation crash program 10 years before world oil peaking helps considerably but still leaves a liquid fuels shortfall roughly a decade after the time that oil would have peaked.
  • Initiating a mitigation crash program 20 years before peaking appears to offer the possibility of avoiding a world liquid fuels shortfall for the forecast period.

[edit] Applicability beyond the US, critical remarks

The Hirsch Report urges a crash program of new technologies and changes in manners and attitudes in the US and as well implying more research and development. The report cites a peaking crude oil supply as the main reason for immediate action.

During the significant oil price rise through 2007, a theme among several industry observers was that the price rise was only partially due to a limit in crude oil availability (peak oil). For example, an article by Jad Mouawad cited an unusual number of fires and other outages among U.S. refineries in the summer of 2007 which disrupted supply.[1] The same article mentions a reduction in routine refinery maintenance made necessary by the need to operate near full capacity to make up for a loss in refinery capacity from the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season; deferred maintenance on refineries that escaped hurricane damage led to an increase in fires and accidents in 2007. However, later the article also cites rising demand from U.S. consumers which stretched refinery capacity to the limit, making the whole system more vulnerable to disruptions.

As for the global usefulness of the Hirsch conclusions, as of 2004 the US share of global oil consumption was about 26%, while the share of population was only 4.3%, Europe took 11% of global oil while having a population of about 6.8%. An average car in Germany uses about 8.1 liter per 100 km, the US consumption 16.2 L. In US terms 1 gallon delivers 44 miles in Germany but only 22 in the States.

Insofar a part of the changes ultimatively requested by Hirsch for the US have been already implemented in Europe (and cum grano salis in Asia). The difference had been much smaller at the start of the 70s. Europe adapted more after the different Oil shocks and enhanced the changes by introducing much higher taxes on gasoline. The differences now are not only a lack of energy saving technologies, in car building and usage, passive insulation of buildings in the US. The traditional significant differences in the setup and density of settlements, share of suburbs, use of public transport and consumer behavior have been widening. Taking this into account, a peak oil shock as outlined by Hirsch will have a much more severe outcome in the US compared to other parts of the world, especially Europe.

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

[edit] References

  1. ^ [|Mouawad, Jad] (2007-07-22), "Record Failures at Oil Refineries Raise Gas Prices", New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/22/business/22refine.html?_r=2&oref=slogin 
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