The world goes from easy to use resources to harder to use resources and eventually goes into the low-quality field. That’s exemplified by the march from easy “stick a straw in the soil” oil to deeper, offshore, the Arctic, hard to process and then shale oil. But there is a march back towards more quality as well. Whats diesel or even gasoline – right, a blend of different hydrocarbon molecules in a certain melange that can be used for combustion. It’s a cocktail essentially and as any cocktail, its combustion is messy by nature. Whats Natural Gas or even more so LNG? Way more than 90% methane with very little in terms of nonhydrocarbon impurities. Its a uniform fuel at the molecular level often with 97% methane. Combustion is a lot easier to handle and a lot cleaner. And the rush for shale oil liberates vast amounts of shale gas – methane. Cheap and plentiful methane starts to eat into oils domain. Slowly, but inexorably.
Among the fear barrages of the past 50 years, “running out of resources” has been the most persistent. Here is why we won’t run out of minerals. As for other kinds of resources, that is a more complex story for another day. I first ran this excerpt in January 2011.