San Diego State University Department of Geological Sciences
Climate Change, the Future of the Oil and Gas Industry and Geopolitical Challenges
Ray LeonardAnglo Eurasia LLCAAPG Distinguished LecturerHost: AAPG Student Chapter
Monday, September 10th at noonCSL 422
The 20th century witnessed the greatest rise in living standards in human history, supported by the energy provided from fossil fuels. Now, however, we face the consequences; the great challenge of the 21st century, which may define how we live in the future; how to deal with a changing climate caused in large part by the emission of CO2 due to the burning of these fossil fuels.
The current atmospheric concentration of CO2 is at 411 ppm, rising at 2.7-3 ppm/year and by 2050 will be at a level not seen in the past 30 million years. The polar regions are warming at approximately twice the rate of the overall temperature rise. The Arctic Ocean has lost 70% of its late summer ice mass since 1980 and will likely be ice free in late summer months within 20 years, altering the climate in the northern hemisphere in ways that we are only now beginning to experience and understand. A realistic objective at this point is to formulate a plan that will limit the ultimate CO2 level below 700 ppm, limit overall world temperature increase to below 3.2 deg. C and avoid the eventual melting of Antarctic ice sheet, which would cause catastrophic sea level rise.
There is substantial difference in the amount of CO2 emissions depending on the type of hydrocarbons burned, with the lowest level of emissions coming from combustion of natural gas and ultra-light oils, including natural gas liquids. The oil and natural gas industries are undergoing a shift in much of the new oil produced due to the technical and economic breakthrough of “fracking” which produces 85% ultra-light (low GHG emitting) oils. Natural gas production is also rapidly rising due both to “fracking” of shales and many …