Post Carbon Senior Fellow Richard Heinberg was interviewed on ABC Australia's news program The Business.
From the transcript:
TICKY FULLERTON: So, when we have Mitt Romney recently saying that he's going to make America independent by 2020 because of all this shale oil that's been discovered, you don't see that as just continuing on with accessing more proven reserves?
RICHARD HEINBERG: No, it's not going to happen. The tight oil that's coming from North Dakota is in smaller reservoirs and wells deplete very rapidly, sometimes as much as 60 per cent in the first year. So if you drill a well in January, by December production may be down 60 per cent from its initial level. So that means you have to drill and drill and drill more all the time.
TICKY FULLERTON: Nevertheless, presumably it all depends on the oil price. And if the oil price is going up, as it has been doing, these less viable projects start becoming viable and on we go?
RICHARD HEINBERG: Right, but there's a limit to how many wells you can drill in a year and they're going after the sweet spots first. So as time goes on, the quality of the resource declines and also the energy return on the energy invested declines. It takes energy to explore for, drill, pump oil. And if you compare the amount of energy that we get back at the end of the day with these unconventional resources compared to the amount that has to be invested, it's pretty paltry, especially if you compare it to the glory days of conventional oil back in the 20th century.