Energy Headlines - Apr 29, 2005
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Jubak's Journal: Is there fraud in the house of Saud?
On April 22, Saudi Arabia made what appeared, on the surface at least, to be a dramatic announcement. Forget quotas, the Saudis proclaimed. They would pump all the oil consumers wanted up to its current capacity of 11 million barrels a day. And, to make sure that the world would have enough supply in the long term, Saudi Arabia would spend $50 billion over five years to increase oil production capacity to 12.5 million barrels a day by the end of 2009.
In the short term, the announcement isn't anywhere nearly as dramatic as it seems. The Saudis are already producing more than 9.5 million barrels a day. By long-standing policy, the country has kept a cushion of 1.5 million to 2 million barrels a day in idle excess capacity as a buffer against unexpected demand spikes. All the Saudis have really promised to do is to produce to full capacity.
But what about the long-term promise of increased capacity? Here, too, not everything is as it seems. To understand why, you've got a take a closer look at the structure of the Saudi oil fields and at the truly abysmal state of global energy-demand prediction.
(29 Apr, 2005)
Peak Oil UK: Entering the Age of Depletion
Self-published (via peakoil.com)
Chris Vernon reports on the recent Edinburgh conference on Peak Oil. Eight pages of notes and photos
(PDF - 181 KB)
(25 Apr, 2005)
Talk on Peak Oil to the Willits Rotary Club
Talk by plant taxonomist and Peak Oil activist Jason Bradford (slides and text)
(PDF - 1.75 MB)
President Bush's Speech on Energy
President Discusses Energy at National Small Business Conference (transcript)
The White House
.... Technology is allowing us to better use our existing energy resources. And in the years ahead, technology will allow us to create entirely new sources of energy in ways earlier generations could never dream. Technology is the ticket, is this nation's ticket to greater energy independence. And that's what I want to talk about today. I fully understand that many folks around this country are concerned about the high price of gasoline. I know small business owners are.
I went to Fort Hood the other day -- it's right around the corner from Crawford. (Laughter.) And sat down with some of our troops and we had dinner -- lunch, in Texas they call dinner (laughter) -- the noon meal, and supper the evening meal. (Laughter and applause.) I'm trying to standardize the language. (Laughter.) We sat down for lunch. (Laughter.)
And I was asking the soldiers, you know, what was on your mind -- what was on their mind. And a fellow said, why don't you lower gas prices -- gasoline prices, Mr. President? Obviously, gasoline prices were on his mind. I said, I wish I could; if I could, I would. I explained to him that the higher cost of gasoline is a problem that has been years in the making. To help in the near-term, we'll continue to encourage oil-producing countries to maximize their production, to say to countries that have got some excess capacity, get it on the market so you do not destroy the consumers that you rely upon to buy your energy.
We're doing everything we can to make sure our consumers are treated fairly, that there is no price gouging. Yet, the most important thing we can do today is to address the fundamental problem of our energy situation. That's the most important thing we can do. And the fundamental problem is this: Our supply of energy is not growing fast enough to meet the demands of our growing economy.
(27 Apr, 2005)
Bush Unveils Energy Proposals:
Industry Analysts Question Whether Initiatives Would Help
Industry analysts reacted skeptically to new energy proposals President Bush announced yesterday, saying they would do little to bring down soaring prices of gasoline and other forms of energy.
Bush, whose aides blame high oil and gasoline prices for his sagging poll numbers, made several proposals, including allowing refineries to be built on closed military bases and renewing consumer tax credits for hybrid vehicles. This was his second speech in two weeks devoted to energy. Bush is scheduled to hold a news conference tonight at 8:30 to press his energy plan and give specifics about his proposals for restructuring Social Security.
"See, we've got a fundamental question we got to face here in America," Bush said at the Small Business Administration conference in Washington. "Do we want to continue to grow more dependent on other nations to meet our energy needs? Or do we need to do what is necessary to achieve greater control of our economic destiny?"
(28 Apr, 2005)
US Petroleum consumption
The Oil Drum
Yesterday President Bush talked about his plans for energy. His speech was, I suppose, brought about by the increase in gas prices and the concerns that they will not go down....
Good stuff, but where's the beef? You go through the speech and it is hard to find what technological breakthrough, that relates to helping with the price of gas, we can anticipate. Remember that the problem is with gas supply and prices. We currently do not have, in the short term, a real concern with electricity generation (apart from the small fraction of oil and gas that powers some generators).
But the solutions given include changing the regulations on nuclear power; easing the regulations on building refineries (and the fact that we refine the oil here does not reduce the amount that we have to import, only that we import it as crude rather than as refined product); and expediting the licensing of liquid natural gas (LNG) terminals - which is only needed to increase the ability to import gas. None of these actually reduces, and it may in fact increase, the need to import oil and gas from abroad.
(28 Apr, 2005)
Energy Bill Alternatives
The New Standard (re-posted at Znet)
What if the energy bill that the House of Representatives just approved were completely rewritten to reverse the assumptions that have guided national energy policy for decades? Proponents of an alternative energy agenda say that idea is not as radical as it may sound.
In the wake of what environmentalists view as a disastrous piece of energy legislation, an alternative agenda based on clean energy is beginning to crystallize, buoyed by policy ideas to address emerging energy needs that have outgrown the current fossil-fueled based system.
From the point of view of Bracken Hendricks, executive director of the Apollo Alliance, a clean energy coalition, the House bill "fails not only from the environmental perspective but from a social justice and a security [perspective], and the perspective of the workers and communities."
Sustainable energy advocates, who now count among their ranks some organized labor groups and local governments, differ in their policy recommendations but generally agree that the country cannot maintain current patterns of energy consumption. They say the status quo of unchecked consumption derived almost exclusively from fossil fuel and nuclear sources is already undercutting the country's environmental health, economic security, and geopolitical standing.
(27 Apr, 2005)
Ed: These ideas about energy from the Left don't sound that much different from the "Geo-greens."
Bush's latest energy "plan"
Posted by Alan Durning
Approaching the summer "driving season" when gas prices often spike, President Bush has pumped up a new set of energy proposals. Even the mainstream media regard them as window dressing. (Witness the Washington Post.) But I'll take the proposals as serious and comment.
(28 Apr, 2005)
New Plan, Same as the Old Plan
Ezra Klein (blog)
So the new Bush energy plan (not, to be clear, the atrocious energy bill). It's not really bad, just kinda lame. I mean, yes, we do need to break through the impasses that are keeping nuclear energy plants and liquid natural gas terminals from being built. And the hybrid car subsidy is certainly a good thing. Neither am I really against constructing a few more refineries. But for a president who prides himself on bold strokes and towering ambition, this is kid's stuff. This is pecking your date on the cheek before drinking a warm glass of milk and going to bed. This ain't, in other words, shit.
The affordable oil's gonna run out, kids. Whether it's now or later, it's riding into the sunset as we speak.
(27 Apr, 2005)
Oil in troubled waters (Survey: Oil)
Prices are sky-high, with profits to match. But looking further ahead, the industry faces wrenching change, says Vijay Vaitheeswaran
“THE time when we could count on cheap oil and even cheaper natural gas is clearly ending.” That was the gloomy forecast delivered in February by Dave O'Reilly, the chairman of Chevron Texaco, to hundreds of oilmen gathered for a conference in Houston. The following month, Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez gleefully echoed the sentiment: “The world should forget about cheap oil.”
The surge in oil prices, from $10 a barrel in 1998 to above $50 in early 2005, has prompted talk of a new era of sustained higher prices. But whenever a “new era” in oil is hailed, scepticism is in order. After all, this is essentially a cyclical business in which prices habitually yo-yo. Even so, an unusually loud chorus is now joining Messrs O'Reilly and Chavez, pointing to intriguing evidence of a new “price floor” of $30 or perhaps even $40. Confusingly, though, there are also signs that high oil prices may be caused by a speculative bubble that could burst quite suddenly. To see which camp is right, two questions need answering: why did the oil price soar? And what could keep it high?
(28 Apr, 2005)
Ed: Long analytical piece showing that the short-term outlook for oil may be more complicated than up-up-up.
Gas-Drilling Permits in Rockies Outstrip Ability to Tap Resource
PINEDALE, Wyo. -- As energy companies and Bush administration officials have long told the story, lack of access to federal land is the primary roadblock for increased production of natural gas in the United States.
The Independent Petroleum Association of America made this familiar claim in February at a congressional hearing. Similarly, Vice President Cheney said last year that because of unjustified federal limits on drilling, "large parts of the Rocky Mountain West are off-limits."
The lack-of-access story, however, does not square with what is happening on the ground here at the epicenter of what is widely being called the largest boom in gas drilling on federal land ever in the Rocky Mountain West.
(28 Apr, 2005)
Global competition for future energy supplies heats up
Knight Ridder Newspapers
WASHINGTON - Soaring demand for crude oil in China, India and other developing nations has set off a scramble to secure future energy supplies that could undermine the economic and national security of the United States.
The United States, Europe and Japan increasingly will be forced to compete with developing nations, especially China and India, the world's two fastest growing major economies, which comprise more than a third of the world's population.
"The center of gravity in world oil is shifting," said Daniel Yergin, the chairman of Cambridge Energy Research Associates and an author of "The Prize," an award-winning history of oil.
"Last year, Asia consumed more oil than North America," Yergin said. He predicts an oil supply shift, too, as Africa, Russia and former Soviet republics compete with the Middle East to fill the growing demand for oil.
The developing world's growing appetite for oil is one reason gasoline prices have shot up for Americans. Over time, these emerging economies will also shape not just global oil flows and prices but also world events, said Anne Korin, the co-director of the Washington-based Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, an energy security think tank.
"A third of humanity doesn't want to ride bikes anymore," she said. "That has profound geopolitical implications."
(28 Apr, 2005)
Ed: Nice summary.
Will Britain go nuclear?
Lots of people think so - whichever party wins next week's election. Rumours and leaks abound this week of a post-election announcement by Labour of a new nuclear power programme; and the Tories have said they are in favour, in principle, of a new generation of power stations.
A brief mention in Labour's manifesto of the nuclear issue opened the door to a review, following the 2003 Energy white paper, which had put the matter on hold.
(28 Apr, 2005)
Chalabi Appointed Interim Iraqi Oil Minister
BAGHDAD () - Iraq failed to name an oil minister for its new government on Thursday and controversial politician Ahmad Chalabi was appointed acting minister of an industry plagued by sabotage attacks and uncertainty.
Chalabi, speaking to Reuters by telephone shortly after his appointment, said he might only be in the job for "a short time" but he pledged to work to ensure smooth exports and honor contracts struck by the previous government.
With the oil market anxious to see Iraq move toward stability and offer steady crude supplies, Chalabi said: "There will not be abrupt changes. My focus will be stability."
(28 Apr, 2005)
Iraqi Cabinet (Juan Cole on Chalabi's Selection)
More details of the new Iraqi cabinet are now out. The big and rather ominous surprise is that Ahmad Chalabi is the temporary Petroleum Minister. It has not in the past been easy to pry him out of positions once in them. And, in the past, whenever he has been around big money, a lot of it has mysteriously disappeared. Some are saying that at least he has the background to deal with foreign oil companies. But lots of Iraqis have such a background. The point is that Chalabi doesn't know anything about the petroleum industry and also has a poor business reputation to put it lightly.
(28 Apr, 2005)
Solutions and Sustainability
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