Scraping the barrel
DEEP-DIVE: We need to talk about energy return on energy investment (EROI)
Does the winter energy crunch mark the start of a much longer energy crisis? New studies into the oil industry’s diminishing energy returns (EROI) suggest we are slipping down a perilous energy cliff. If the models are to be believed, simply ‘producing more’ might not be possible, and would only make matters worse. Energy Flux delves into controversial EROI theory – and asks what it means for decarbonisation, peak demand, energy security and economic stability.
From oil gushers to energy cannibalism
At the dawn of the 20th century, a one-armed American mechanic and lumber merchant by the name of Pattillo Higgins identified a hilltop location near Beaumont, Texas, to drill an oil well. Having taught himself rudimentary geology, Higgins was convinced Spindletop Hill held vast amounts of oil. He persevered despite being ridiculed by investors, and his efforts paid off in the most spectacular way imaginable.
On 10th January 1901, a drilling derrick struck a high-pressure reservoir beneath Sp…