From Bureau of Economic Geology, The University of Texas at Austin (
For more information, please contact the author.

BEG Seminar, December 09, 2005

A New Meme for the Hydrocarbon/Energy Industry

Douglas B. Swift


U.S. domestic oil production closely follows the 1957 predictive curve of M. King Hubbert. Peak world-oil production will follow suit. Meanwhile, oil demand, particularly from China and India, grows. Never has the world encountered an essential commodity that cannot respond to classic supply/demand pressures. Potential severe economic problems include double-digit inflation coincident with large-scale fixed-income retirement, disruptions to a decompartmentalized domestic financial system, and national security issues.

Renewable energy sources must be developed. A viable infrastructure, nonexistent at present, must evolve. Current energy resources include oil, gas, coal, nuclear, biomass/biowaste, wind, hydropower, solar, tidal, and geothermal. All have strengths and weaknesses. Energy sources must be found that reliably deliver baseload/peakload electric production, have low environmental impact, and are deliverable to the end user. Geothermal is a superior resource, but it is currently limited by prospective terrains.

Utilization of deep, high-BHT, depleted gas fields as geothermal reservoirs (Deep Permeable Strata Geothermal Energy) significantly expands areas prospective for geothermal energy. Solar Augmented Geothermal Energy (SAGE) converts depleting oil and gas fields and comparable reservoir strata to “synthetic geothermal” reservoirs over even wider regions. SAGE stores/banks solar energy, using naturally occurring brines, for uninterrupted geothermal power generation, while enhancing tertiary recovery. Additional hydrocarbons are recovered, a new source of electrical power established, fresh-water resources developed, and hydrogen/oxygen generated for end-user power generation, delivered through existing natural gas/oil pipeline right-of-way infrastructure. SAGE converts oil-field liabilities to assets, while utilizing industry technologies, databases, and personnel.