# Outrun Change

## More on the foolish Malthusian mindset that we’re gonna’ run out of everything

Here are three more stories in just the last week proving yet again the foolish of Malthusian thinking. The experts in a field have no clue, absolutely no clue, of the total amount of any resource available on this amazing planet. Whether it is water, crude oil, or helium, the experts don’t know what previously unknown field they will find next.

7/1 – The Million Dollar Way – Peak Oil? What Peak Oil? Huge Discovery For Hess, Exxon; \$70 Billion at Current Prices – This post points to an article at Yahoo: Exxon Might Have Just Made The Largest Oil Find In Two Years ExxonMobil and Hess Corp are in a joint venture that just discovered a huge field in deep water 120 miles off the coast of Guyana.

The new field, called Liza, likely has somewhere between 800M and 1.4B oil-equivalent barrels. Yeah, that’s somewhere in the range of one and a half billion barrels of oil. That nobody knew about. Until now.

To put this in context, there have been only five brand-new discoveries in the last four years with recoverable amounts of over 500M barrels. Only five? ONLY? To my little brain that is astounding.

The rate of new discovery is down in recent years to around one new field a year that nobody anywhere knew about until the geology wizards realized, oh, hey, there is half a billion barrels of oil right over there.

Lets’ do a little math on how much that find is worth:

• 800M barrels x \$50 current price = \$40B
• 1,400M barrels x \$50 current price = \$70B
• 1,400M barrels x \$65 cautious estimate over next 2 decades = \$91B.

Mr. Oksol calculates the new find has oil worth a point estimate \$70B. I agree with the point estimate and will add a range of somewhere between \$40B and \$100B. That produces an estimate of \$70B plus or minus \$30B.

Will likely take \$18B to develop the field. Will be well worth it.

7/1 – JH at The American Interest – Rediscovering Gaia’s Riches – Article points to other articles describing a new, never known before aquifer under California and a huge find of helium in Tanzania.

Author closes with this comment:

The Malthusians of the world are always right until they’re wrong. They’ll warn of impending resource depletion until they’re blue in the face, but time and again human ingenuity (and natural providence) has made fools of them. We’ve seen two welcome new examples of Gaia’s riches this week—what’ll we find next?

What’s next? How about something in the range of 1 billion barrels of oil-equivalent off the coast of Guyana?

I can’t wait to see what follows that.

The two reports:

6/27 – The Washington Post – California may have a huge groundwater reservoir that nobody knew about A report from Stanford researchers finds strong evidence of an aquifer no one knew about that could possibly, maybe hold 2700 billion tons of water.  The aquifer ranges from 1000′ to around 10,000′ below the Central Valley with most of the water less than 3250 feet down.

There are still questions about how good the water might be. It might be brackish, it may have some or lots of saltwater, and it is deep enough that there could be some seepage from underground oil. Typically groundwater is less than 1000′ down and thus exquisitely well insulated from oil.

Author of the article found two scientists who brushed off the report.  One said even if the water is usable it will not make a difference to the water crisis in California. Um, yeah, I guess two and a half trillion tons of water is trivial.

6/28 – University of Oxford – Huge helium discovery “a life-saving find” – Using new exploration techniques, researchers have discovered a huge find of helium.

Researchers estimate a probable reserve of 54 billion cubic feet (BCf). For context, global consumption of helium is around 8 BCf. In the US, total reserves are something in the range of 153 BCf. The new find is about one-third of the known reserves in the US and equal to something just under 7 years worldwide consumption.

Why is this a big deal?

As I just learned, helium is critical for high-end technology projects such as MRI scanners and nuclear energy. It is key for basic industrial work such as welding and industrial leak detection.

The volume of helium production has been dropping for a number of years. The American Interest article says the shrinking supply in the last 15 years has led to an increase in price by factor of four.

The find in Tanzania should turn things around.

I agree with the closing comment in the American Interest article that Malthusians are regularly proved to be fools. I disagree with one other comment:

Malthusians are always right until they are proven wrong, according to the article.

That is incorrect.

Malthusians are always wrong on every issue all the time. It just takes a while to gather yet another round of proof.