Peak Oil Politically Motivated Conjecture

Peak Oil Politically Motivated Conjecture

DNV GL has published Energy Transition Outlook 2018, consisting of two reports, A global and regional forecast to 2050, and, Oil and Gas Forecast to 2050.

(DNV GL is an international accredited registrar and classification society headquartered in Høvik, Norway, mentioned in the Wall Street Journal article, New Fuels Spur End Of Oil Era.)

DNV’s projections contain many conclusions, but few details as to how the conclusions were reached.

After reading 419 pages of DNV’s reports, it’s reasonable to conclude that the reports are political missives, dressed up as technical documents, whose purpose is to promote policies to cut CO2 emissions.

The Executive Summary explains: 

“Efforts are underway to decarbonize oil and gas components of the World energy system.” 

The DNV report is heavily infused with reasons why the world should cut back on CO2 emissions. Much of the information is politically rather than data oriented.

The introduction makes this clear when it says:

“The World’s energy system will decarbonize.” and,

“Even with a peaking of energy demand and fast uptake of renewables and electric vehicles, the energy transition trajectory is not fast enough for the world to meet the ambitions of the Paris Agreement.” 

DNV concludes:

“We expect global oil demand to peak in 2023.”

Pinocchio. Photo by D. Dears
Pinocchio. Photo by D. Dears

This, and other conclusions reached by DNV may have been generated by their computer programs, but that doesn’t mean the conclusions are valid. The conclusions are based on data and assumptions which could be biased or wrong. Computers are susceptible to garbage in, garbage out (GIGO).

Several times the reports say, ”Our model predicts.”

But DNV does not provide the data used in their computer models.

The following three statements provide the only published data in the DNV reports justifying their prediction that peak demand will occur in 2023:

  1. Half of all new cars sold in 2033 will be EVs

(The DNV report intermixes references to electric vehicles (EVs) and battery-powered vehicles (BEVs), but late in the report it says BEVs will prevail over Fuel cell electric vehicles, so this article will assume DNV is referring to BEVs.)

2. There will be an acceleration in autonomous vehicles and ride-sharing

3. BEVs use batteries rated 30 kWh

In contrast to DNV: 

The data and assumptions used for this article, and the preceding two articles, were itemized in the first article. This data is available for anyone to use to confirm or refute any of the conclusions or statements made in these three articles. See, Peak Oil Demand is Bogus and Meaningless 

With the lack of data in the DNV reports, it’s impossible to corroborate the conclusions reached in the reports.

The lack of data, coupled with extensive portions of the DNV reports being dedicated to political statements about climate change, allow the DNV reports to be likened to propaganda.

For example:

A: The word climate is used 160 times in the 419 pages of these reports.

B: The reports contain the following references to climate:

  • Climate implications for society, page 42 – 44
  • UN Sustainable Development Goals, page 45
  • Government Policy and the Courts, page 54
  • Cities Lead the Way, page 55
  • Shifts in Investor and Insurance Focus, page 56
  • A Planet Turning on Us, page 59
  • Economics, A Price on Carbon, page 61
  • Emerging and Enabling Technologies for Decarbonization, Pg 61 – 63 (Oil & Gas Report)
  • Insufficient Awareness [of climate change], page 62
  • Sustainability Goals [additional information], page 64
  • IPCC, Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSPs), page 69
  • Climate Change on the Global Arena, page 83
  • Connecting Climate and Sustainability Goals, page 84
  • The Visible Hand of Government, page 88
  • Carbon Pricing, page 90
  • Removal of Fossil Fuel Subsidies [e.g., lowering consumer prices], page 90 – 92
  • Climate Mayors Initiative, page 219
  • Progress on COP-21, Paris Agreement, page 287
  • Chapter 7, Climate Implications, pages 288 – 303
  • Chapter 8, Closing the Gap to 2 Degrees C, pages 306 – 310

As shown above, extensive portions of the DNV reports are dedicated to political statements concerning climate and climate change.

With respect to the only data provided by DNV, the following comments address each of the three DNV assumptions:

  1. Half of all new cars sold in 2033 will be BEVs

For this to be plausible:

Fuel efficiency must increase above 37 mpg and the growth rate of light vehicles must slow dramatically or turn negative.

For example:

  • Maintaining the 4% growth rate for light vehicles results in: 

140 million light vehicles being sold in 2033. Using the DNV assumption, half of them, or 70 million BEVs, would be sold that year. 

Or, alternatively;

  • Cutting the growth rate for light vehicles from 4% to zero results in: 

72 million light vehicles being sold in 2033, with half, or 36 million BEVs being sold that year.

Using a zero percent growth rate also results in light vehicles worldwide totaling 1.3 billion in 2033, compared with 1.8 billion if the 4% growth rate is maintained, a reduction of 500 million vehicles.

(DNV doesn’t indicate how many BEVs will be sold, merely that BEVs will represent half of all light vehicles sold in 2033, so there is no way to corroborate their claim.)

2. There will be an acceleration in autonomous vehicles and ride-sharing

  • Ride-sharing could result in reducing the growth rate of light vehicles, but ride-sharing is speculative. Since the DNV reports do not provide input data, it’s not possible to determine how ride-sharing affects their projections.

3.The DNV reports say that BEVs will use batteries rated 30 kWh

  • GM’s BOLT uses a 60 kWh battery with a quoted range of 240 miles. A battery rated 80 to 90 kWh is needed to obtain a range of over 300 miles.
  • A 30 kWh battery provides a range of 100 miles. The Nissan Leaf, a BEV, has not done well in the US marketplace because of its short range.

Conclusion

The DNV reports lack virtually any data other than conclusions.

As a result, it’s impossible to corroborate the DNV reports.

The DNV reports include; extensive information on climate change and global warming; multiple statements supporting the cutting of CO2 emissions to eventually conform with the Paris accord; conclusions based on unverifiable computer programs susceptible to the risk of garbage in, garbage out; thus justifying the conclusion that the DNV reports are merely political documents promoting a climate change agenda.

This begs the question:

Why is the DNV report used to promote the end of the oil era?

Moreover, why did the Wall Street Journal publish the article New Fuels Spur End Of Oil Era, without verifying that the various reports cited in the article were objective?

These questions will be covered in the next article.

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