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Eamon Keane

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  • Peak Oil and Higher Prices Have Disconnected in Public Awareness - For Now [View article]
    Great post, that graph is unbelievable. Oil projects take 5+ years to come onstream, so anything which hasn't started now will not be live until after 2015. Their graph is at variance to the UK Peak Oil Taskforce graph on page 20 of this pdf: ( Based on announced projects, Chris Skrebowski predicts 90.5mb/d of supply in 2015.

    Are we comparing like with like here, for example biofuels are about 1.5mb/d, are they included in Sweetman's graph? Demand could breach 90mb/d in 2015... if supply is only 80mb/d, then that's not good.
    Apr 13 08:37 AM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Debt/GDP World Map: It's Full of Debt [View article]
    Christ, I had to squint, I couldn't even recognise my own country - Ireland is massive on that chart! Unfortunately we can't print our way outu of this one & with ECB interest rate rises coming down the tracks, it doesn't bode well for those on 100% mortgages.
    Apr 13 05:35 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Peak Oil and Higher Prices Have Disconnected in Public Awareness - For Now [View article]
    Interesting article. The same trends as your graph are seen by doing a google timeline search for peak oil ( This suggests that it could be down to 'the meedja' not talking about it this time around.

    As to why them there MSM aren't talking about it, it's probably down to the rate of change as you suggested. Or else they're bored with it.
    Apr 13 05:23 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Peak Oil Investments I'm Putting My Money On: Part V, Algae [View article]
    Good article, I'm sure you're aware of the issues, but I'd have to disagree with your conclusion that "Algae has great promise for producing liquid fuels in sufficient quantity to replace petroleum".

    The first lifecycle assessment of (open-pond) algae was released in January and that showed that algae had an EROI of approximately 1, meaning you're just burning coal, natural gas and oil to make an oil substitute ( Photobioreactors require much more energy for the glass and other infrastructure, hence their EROI would be even less. This led Robert Rapier to say (www.consumerenergyrepo.../):

    "Because costs are about two orders of magnitude too high. More importantly, costs are tied to energy. That means that economic feasibility won’t come about if oil prices rise by one or two orders of magnitude."

    They also require copious amounts of fertiliser, thus competing with the food chain for phosphorus in particular ( There is some talk about setting up alongside a water treatment plant to mine nutrients. That's a good idea, but you will also need a CO2 source and lots of land, and even still you have to add lots of fertilizer to get production rates up.

    Here's RR's interview with an algae CEO (he makes micronutrients, not fuel)(www.consumerenergyrepo.../)

    RR: So how do you foresee the future of algal fuels?

    CEO: There is no future. Look, some of these guys are out there committing fraud with their yield claims. Nobody is making fuel except for small amounts in the lab. I just don’t see how anyone will ever make cost-competitive fuel from algae.
    Apr 11 08:49 AM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Will Rising Oil Prices Make the Solar Industry Shine? [View article]
    Eh, seeing how the max theoretical efficiency of silicon cells is 29%, I'd say look for 40% sometime next week.

    Although with some fancy and ridiculously expensive footwork you can approach theoretical low 40%s. Space or efficiency isn't really the binding constraint - it's the cost per peak watt that counts.
    Apr 7 08:27 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Could Offshore Grid Linking Wind Generators Power U.S. East Coast? [View article]
    Good stuff.

    They concluded what's long been know - that aggregating geographically dispersed wind turbines allows for smoother and more consistent power output.

    When they say 'power the entire east coast' I'm sure they mean 'provide a significant amount of the electrical energy of the east coast'. Working out how much conventional capacity can be displaced, the 'capacity credit', is a complex calculation, but it's probably about 20%. So you'll still need the 80% conventional backup, but that's ok.
    Apr 7 08:09 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Global Oil Pricing: As the World Turns [View article]
    If $150 broke the machine in 2008, what oil price will it be this time around?
    Apr 6 03:24 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Oil to Natural Gas Ratio [View article]
    Good point, rob. Re natural gas for transport, it's not actually 3%. The 3% the EIA uses for transport refers to the natural gas used in the compressors to push the natural gas through the pipeline. The actual use in road transport is 0.03tcf. That's about 0.15%.
    Apr 1 11:55 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Oil to Natural Gas Ratio [View article]
    The oil-gas ratio was more relevant in previous decades when there were more power plants capable of switching between oil and gas. Since each offered the same electrical output per MMBtu, there tended to be a correction if the ratio strayed too much away from 6.

    Now, though, oil accounts for only 1% of power plant energy, and that's just for peaking plant. Natural gas accounts for 17%. 70% of oil is used in transportation, natural gas isn't going to make inroads there, imo.

    Going forward, the oil-gas ratio may seem to apply, but that's only because if crude is going up it often is a proxy for broad-based energy demand. Natural gas may thus move up in price.

    On natural gas reserves, no it's still about ten years. The resource base has widened by about 30% because of shale, but reserves remain within the historical range:
    Mar 30 03:24 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Energy Anomaly: Look to Emerging Markets [View article]
    Perhaps you should tell the IEA and OECD that. Their just released study, 'Projected costs of generating electricity' can be found here:

    with some analysis here:

    The IEA & OECD state:

    "The study shows that no technology holds a consistent economic advantage at a global level under all circumstances. Conditions prevailing domestically matter, and the competitiveness of a generating technology will depend on a number of factors, especially the cost of capital and the price of carbon. Using a common standardised measure of cost (the levelised cost of electricity (LCOE) per MWh over the lifetime of a plant) and assuming a carbon price of USD 30 per tonne of CO2, the study provides results for two real interest rates of 5% and 10%. When financing costs are low (5% case), nuclear energy followed by coal with carbon capture are the most competitive solutions. With higher financing costs (10% case), coal-fired generation followed by coal with carbon capture and gas-fired combined cycle turbines (CCGTs) are the cheapest sources of electricity. Apart from interest rates, generation costs of renewables are heavily dependent on local resources and fast technological improvement. Today, where local conditions are favourable, hydro and wind are competitive generation technologies."

    Now it doesn't include the backup costs of wind, but these are not that significant - about $5/MWh - when the penetration of wind is low (up to about 20%).
    Mar 29 12:54 PM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Energy Anomaly: Look to Emerging Markets [View article]
    Good article. Just one quibble, unconventional natural gas is only about 23% of supply - 13% shale, 10% coalbed methane (

    The developing world's policy can be described as 'grow first, clean up later'. The developing world only consumes 1/6th the per capita oil of the OECD, so efficiency isn't paramount. It's about unlocking the personal freedom that a car affords. Efficiency comes later.
    Mar 29 08:29 AM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Greece R Us? [View article]
    Peak oil & peak cheap oil are two sides of the same coin. By necessity demand will be constrained by supply. The rationing mechanism in an ideal market would be purely price.

    However that belies the geopolitical realities of oil. You've got China securing oil supplies for their future growth. India also has a state arm which is trying to secure oil. There is no price rationing in OPEC. OPEC consumers are almost totally price insensitive. In fact, as the oil price goes up, they have more revenue, which fuels the domestic economy and hence domestic oil demand.

    So that leaves the OECD fighting over the net oil exports. Global net oil exports are about 45 mb/d, and have been declining for a couple of years.

    Will green technology save us, you ask? The question of scale and affordability is critical. For example, even if all the 8m passenger cars sold in America each year were EVs, it would take 18 years to replace the current fleet of 140m. Same applies for the 100m SUVs/Pickups. Market share penetration would take many years to reach a significant proportion of new sales.

    The same goes for just about everything. Improve the efficiency of new vehicles by 20%? 18 years to get a 20% fuel saving (assuming people don't just drive more). All the while the net oil exports are likely to ratchet down.
    Mar 28 12:09 PM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Greece R Us? [View article]
    As we emerge from under the sand pile in 2020, we won't have the cheap fuel to power our economies. Peak oil will have arrived by then.
    Mar 28 10:10 AM | 10 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Peak Oil Investments I'm Putting My Money On: Part III, Natural Gas Vehicles [View article]
    Hi Rob,

    I was looking at America mainly, but as you cite Thailand, let's look at that. You can correct me if your experience contradicts.

    From the Wall Street Journal (

    "Thailand also took a critical step that would be hard to duplicate in the U.S.: It pressed its state-controlled oil company, PTT PCL, to fix the price of CNG at roughly 25 cents, a kilogram....

    The cost of the subsidy, now roughly $150 million a year, is absorbed by PTT. The company also had to build a network of fueling stations for the natural gas....

    Not everybody is happy with the CNG-powered cars, though. Because of the size and capacity of their fuel tanks, they can't travel as far on CNG as they could on gasoline. And there still aren't enough fueling stations equipped to sell natural gas, so many users must wait in line for 45 minutes or more.

    "Now I'm feeling sad" about converting, acknowledges Napunchita Thaima, a 35-year-old construction-equipment saleswoman who had her Honda sedan modified three months ago. Her car is slow to accelerate, she grumbles.....

    But PTT's Mr. Chitrapongse doubts the U.S. will convert to natural gas as quickly as Thailand has. For Americans, gasoline, even when its price soars, is a much smaller part of the budget than it is for Thais, whose incomes are lower."

    Also, population density may be an issue:
    Thailand: 132 people per sq km
    America: 30 people per sq km

    I can't find any figures on the proportion of LNG trucks in Thailand, do you have any info?
    Mar 25 07:42 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Peak Oil Investments I'm Putting My Money On: Part II, Hydrogen and Vehicle Electrification [View article]
    Hi Ken,

    I actually did my undergrad thesis on getting hydrogen from aluminium. My focus was on generating hydrogen from aluminium pellets by the addition of water. This would get around the hydrogen infrastructure needed for hydrogen propulsion. I investigated a professor of engineering from Purdue's claims to have found a solution to oil dependence.

    It sounds too good to be true, and it is. The energy needed to recharge the aluminium into fresh fuel is huge, I worked it out to be 6 times as much energy per mile travelled as gasoline. It always has a higher CO2 footprint, also, even if you use say geothermal or nuclear energy to recharge the spent aluminium.

    Next there is the issue of these 'proprietary additives' AlumiFuel talks about to destabilise the hydroxide layer which builds up when the aluminium reacts with water. I can't find info on what they are, but there's a high probability they include gallium. The trouble with gallium is that worldwide production is about 95 tonnes per year. There are no gallium mines, you only get the gallium as a byproduct (from alumina production - bauxite contains about 50ppm of gallium). That would be sufficient for approximately 30,000 cars per year. That's to say nothing of the high cost of the aluminium-gallium fuel.

    AlumiFuel aren't making any bold claims about energy efficiency, although their website tries to convey a 'green' message, which I would take issue with. They may certainly be able to access niche markets like weather balloons and military where cost isn't an issue. I've seen numerous companies talk of getting hydrogen from aluminium, most of them seem to have vaporized.

    If you want to read a little more, here's a presentation:

    and a paper I wrote:
    Mar 22 05:39 PM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment