free html hit counter Peak Oil Debunked: 192. GIGANTIC COAL DISCOVERY BY STATOIL?

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


Jan-Willem Bats has a great futurist blog called Our Technological Future which focuses on nano, AI, robotics and biotech. The current lead article describes the latest upgrade of Honda's Asimo robot, and links to some mind-blowing movies of Asimo running which I highly recommend.

Today Jan-Willem found an interesting news item in Dutch.

The original article:
Noren vinden gigantische voorraad steenkool
Het Noorse oliebedrijf Statoil beweert dat het onder de Noordzeebodem meer dan 3.000 miljard ton steenkool heeft gevonden. Dat is genoeg om het verbruik in de hele wereld gedurende eeuwen te voldoen. De grootste voorraad steenkool ligt onder een olieveld voor de Noorse kust. Statoil brengt het gebied nu in kaart en onderzoekt hoe het deze vondst kan ontginnen. De Britse oliereus BP schatte 's werelds toegankelijke steenkoolreserves onlangs nog op 900 miljard ton.Source
Here's a machine translation (roughly corrected with Jan-Willem's help):
Noren find huge stock coal
The Norwegian oil company Statoil claims that it under the North sea floor than 3,000 billion tons more has found coal. That is enough satisfy the usage in the complete world during centuries.
The largest stock coal lies under an oil field for the Norwegian coast. Statoil now map the area and examine how it can develop this find. The British oil giant BP recently still valued worldly accessible coal reserves on 900 billion ton.
Update:Thanks to popmonkey for finding a confirmation of this story in the English media:
Norway Has Vast, Inaccessible Seabed Coal – Statoil

NORWAY: December 21, 2005

OSLO - Vast coal reserves beneath the seabed off Norway could supply world demand for centuries if scientists ever found ways to tap the deposits, an official at Norwegian oil and gas group Statoil said on Tuesday.

If the coal were ever exploited, Norway might become for coal what Saudi Arabia is to oil, said Olav Kaarstad, an energy adviser at Statoil who oversaw a review of geological records from 600 wells drilled off Norway.

"We estimate that there are three trillion tonnes of coal off Norway," he told Reuters.

The International Energy Agency reckons that the world's economically recoverable coal reserves are about one trillion tonnes, or about 200 years of production at current rates.

"Of course the coal off Norway is terribly inaccessible. None of the resources are economically retrievable with today's technology," Kaarstad said.Source
-- by JD


At Tuesday, December 20, 2005 at 8:36:00 AM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great. Now we'll put 3,000 billion more tons of CO2 into the atmosphere before we stop burning fossil fuels. :-P

At Tuesday, December 20, 2005 at 10:26:00 AM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hopefully the USA can find some way to take over this area of the world before our supply of coal runs out.

I mean, what use is it to a country that said it would lower CO2 emmisions? America has no problems ruining the environment, so we should be the ones to use it.

At Tuesday, December 20, 2005 at 10:48:00 AM PST, Blogger Jan-Willem Bats said...

The environment may get screwed up even more, but hey... at least we're done with the peak oil doomsday crap.

At Tuesday, December 20, 2005 at 12:12:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

we're done? It's over?
I can go eat my lunch now, and not wonder if it's the last time I can have Hot and Sour soup, from Imperial Hunan?
I always worry about peak oil denying me the simple tiny little joys of an as yet already pretty joyless life....
I have no girlfriend, I am an overweight chain smoker who lives with my parents and works a food service job, and in 3 or less years we're all gonna die???
I wonder if Savinar is a Balding virgin pushing 30 like I am?

At Tuesday, December 20, 2005 at 12:21:00 PM PST, Blogger Roland said...

Lol! Anonymous, you've got it in one. Do the nazi sympathy comments on really sound like the work of fulfilled, generous, hopeful people, or is it just an earth-pit for misanthropic no-hopers?

At Tuesday, December 20, 2005 at 12:45:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I prefer to err on the side of hope, because ultimately it's all we got...
my life may be a wreck, but who are these doomers to come in and tell me I was screwed before I was ever born? and that it's the fault of my way of life which hasn't really been very fulfilling anyway.......screw them, they made me almost suicidal for a while, and my doomer chatter ran off all the friends I did have for a while. I went on a 3 day fishing/camping trip and was forbidden from saying oil......
They can keep their pessimistic Apocophilia to themselves as far as I'm concerned. i drove around the countryside today for an hour thinking and I just don't see it. all I saw was beauty......doomers really need to get some fresh air and a new perspective or else their die-off prophecy will be self-fulfilled and limited to them.

At Tuesday, December 20, 2005 at 1:15:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Doom may end up happening but there's nothing we can do about that, so set your mindset that we can and will change - start with yourself.

Don't bother trying to convert friends to a more energy efficient lifestyle (except common sense things like saving NG by insulation), once gas hits $10 a gallon then bring your arguments back to them and they'll be more receptive (instant collapse seems impossible, the SPR is capable of providing 6 months of 4.4mbpd, even at the most catostrophic decline it should last ~year or more, it takes weeks to open up the reserve though, that week could be enough to open people's eyes and will probably send us into recession)

We don't need a car, move/whatever so you don't have to use yours to get to work.

People will completely ignore the above statement until gas is more expensive than they can affoard.

At Tuesday, December 20, 2005 at 1:55:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh. Shit.

There goes the happy notion that, due to peak oil, there is not enough fossil fuels to completely fuck up the climate.

I hope they will never manage to get that coal to the surface.

Damn, the Norwegians will get even richer, bastards!

At Tuesday, December 20, 2005 at 2:00:00 PM PST, Blogger Roland said...

I wouldn't worry too much about the impact on global warming, for three reasons:

1. The coal is underwater. It'll be quite a while before they get large portions of it out.
2. By the time they do, sequestration will be more common, hopefully. Nations are really waking up to climate change at the moment.
3. Coal is not the fuel of the future. It's as antiquated as one-use flashbulbs and crank-start cars, and after it helps cushion Peak Oil it will quickly become obsolete. Great quote from Australia's environment minister (yes, environment minister): "Coal will still meet a major part of our energy needs in 80 years". Not.

At Tuesday, December 20, 2005 at 2:04:00 PM PST, Blogger Roland said...

By the way, that robot walks like Jar Jar Binks.

At Tuesday, December 20, 2005 at 2:06:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Due to global warming, the Norwegians will be able to transport all this coal by barge over the arctic sea. This will ensure that it will arrive cheaply for the use of the Americans living in the tropical forests of Montana.

At Tuesday, December 20, 2005 at 2:41:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Exactly, coal is nothing more than a stepping stone off of oil

At Tuesday, December 20, 2005 at 4:03:00 PM PST, Blogger Roland said...

I mean, how long will it take us to mine 3000 billion tons of coal? From under the ocean? Do you think solar power will still suck in 500 years?

I am a bit bummed though that Norway is now the Saudi Arabia of coal. I thought Australia was going to be the world's richest country, but no, we won't be able to outdo all that gold-plated Ikea furniture.

At Tuesday, December 20, 2005 at 4:06:00 PM PST, Blogger Roland said...

(And Wagyu Beef Meatballs)

At Tuesday, December 20, 2005 at 4:06:00 PM PST, Blogger Roland said...

Ikea is from Norway, right?

At Tuesday, December 20, 2005 at 5:41:00 PM PST, Blogger James Shannon said...

Roland said:

"Ikea is from Norway, right?"

So close! They're from Sweden.

At Tuesday, December 20, 2005 at 7:26:00 PM PST, Blogger al fin said...

Coal is a lot more versatile than a lot of people realize. Outside of China, coal is also being used in cleaner processes.

Here is a little promotional from the Coal Association of Canada:

Coal can also be converted into liquid fuels (called synfuels) like gasoline or diesel by several different processes. The Fischer-Tropsch process of indirect synthesis of liquid hydrocarbons was used in Nazi Germany, and for many years by Sasol in South Africa - in both cases, because those regimes were politically isolated and unable to purchase crude oil on the open market. Coal would be gasified to make syngas (a balanced purified mixture of CO and H2 gas) and the syngas condensed using Fischer-Tropsch catalysts to make light hydrocarbons which are further processed into gasoline and diesel. Syngas can also be converted to methanol: which can be used as a fuel, fuel additive, or further processed into gasoline via the Mobil M-gas process.

A direct liquefaction process Bergius process (liquefaction by hydrogenation) is also available but has not been used outside Germany, where such processes were operated both during World War I and World War II. SASOL in South Africa has experimented with direct hydrogenation.

Yet another process to manufacture liquid hydrocarbons from coal is low temperature carbonization (LTC). Coal is coked at temperatures between 450 and 700*C compared to 800-1000* for metalurgical coke. These temperatures optimize the production of coal tars richer in lighter hydrocarbons than normal coal tar. The coal tar is then further processed into fuels. The process was developed by Lewis Karrick, an oil shale technologist at the U.S. Bureau of Mines in the 1920s.

At Tuesday, December 20, 2005 at 10:47:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

lets not get too excited. these reserves are being labeled as "inaccessible":

which is actually a great thing, imho. if it takes 5 years just to figure out how to get at them, perhaps carbon sequestration technology will be that much better and these new reserves won't kill us through climate change.

At Tuesday, December 20, 2005 at 10:57:00 PM PST, Blogger Roland said...

It's good to see they're inaccessible. After all, we don't need them now, since Peak Coal will not be for at least fifty years even if we dramatically increase coal use to compensate for oil decline.

If, in 50 years, we haven't worked out either how to extract coal from underwater or to power ourselves with solar, I'd be very surprised.

At Tuesday, December 20, 2005 at 11:15:00 PM PST, Blogger Omnitir said...

It’s amazing how advanced robotics is getting. It’s looking like robotics is undergoing a kind of Moore’s law like the PC industry did. At this rate, we’ll have robots out-performing humans in a few short years. This could prove extremely useful.

BTW, peak oil shouldn’t get you down; it should be your excuse to make your life better. Peak oil is the reason you need to eat healthy, local, unprocessed produce, and stop driving and start using your legs. I’m healthier and happier then I’ve ever been thanks to peak oil awareness and the resulting conservation efforts.

At Wednesday, December 21, 2005 at 12:33:00 AM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This isn't the last time there will be a coal discovery like this. No one has ever really prospected for coal, they just find it. I suspect that there are trillions of tons of coal yet to be found.

At Wednesday, December 21, 2005 at 1:47:00 AM PST, Blogger Roland said...

BTW, peak oil shouldn’t get you down; it should be your excuse to make your life better. Peak oil is the reason you need to eat healthy, local, unprocessed produce, and stop driving and start using your legs. I’m healthier and happier then I’ve ever been thanks to peak oil awareness and the resulting conservation efforts.


Sorry anonymous chain smoker, I didn't realise you were not being sarcastic. Don't give up hope. The short term effects of Peak Oil are worrying, but can be a starting point, as Omnitir said, to a much healthier and happier life. The long term effects, meanwhile, don't worry me at all. For some of the amazing stuff the future could hold, visit this website.

At Wednesday, December 21, 2005 at 5:57:00 AM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Al fin, no matter how cleanly you burn coal, it's still carbon. I hope this stuff really is nigh-impossible to get to (not only because of GW, but because I live in the US, which until now had the most coal... hehehe.)

At Wednesday, December 21, 2005 at 5:51:00 PM PST, Blogger al fin said...

This is remarkable. The entire world's reserves is only 1 trillion tons of coal. This one deposit off Norwegian shores supposedly contains 3 trillion tons! of coal. The estimate given is that this represents 600 years worth of coal for the world.

Yes, that is a lot of carbon. Given that methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas than CO2, and probably more difficult to scrub from the atmosphere--once the technology gets going--perhaps we should be worrying more about methane.

At Monday, December 26, 2005 at 1:06:00 AM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the problem of what to do with all the carbon in it has been looked at, and should continue to be looked at, but I would imagine there are a number of positive uses for it?

I heard somewhere they planned on using it to increase the yield of oil fields which had long since been in decline.

We just need a car that will run on CO2, then we burn the coal, collect the exhaust, and use it to run our auto fleet!!!

Seriously though the more I look into it the more I think peak oil is in no way shape or form a threat to human survival (human *reaction* to peak oil possibly, but not the problem itself), just another stepping stone.

As to coal, I'd always suspected there was more out there.

After all, how long has it been since anyone *really* spent money looking for coal? They spend *BILLIONS* of dollars looking for oil (and many consider current efforts insufficient!), with the latest possible technologies - but I would be extremely suprised if even 1% as much effort went into searching out new coal reserves.

At Saturday, January 14, 2006 at 1:07:00 PM PST, Blogger AustinElliott said...

We will need the robots to mine this coal. No human in his right mind will go into these subsea mines. If you think Appalachian coal mines are a drag, just imagine burrowing into the rock miles below the North Sea. Also, check out the engineers' discussions on Mining this coal seems to present almost insurmountable technical obstacles. It may be easier to mine an asteroid.

At Friday, December 8, 2006 at 10:44:00 AM PST, Blogger CO2from air said...

So CO2 cane from the atmosphere and was stored in plants that were buried to become coal. If we liberate that CO2 doesn't that help the environment by restoring CO2 to there normal levels?

At Saturday, March 29, 2008 at 10:20:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ever heard of under ground coal gasification. Why extract all the bad parts like ash and co2 when you can drill, heat, and draw of all the hydrocarbons and never send anything under ground but a drill bit, pipe,. and O2.


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