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Energy Headlines - May 24, 2005

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Peak Oil

Oil peak predicted
Some analysts predict irreversible slide for world's reserves

Matt Crenson, Associated Press (via SR Press Democrat)
Could the petroleum joy ride -- cheap, abundant oil that has sent the global economy whizzing along with the pedal to the metal and the AC blasting for decades -- be coming to an end? Some observers of the oil industry think so. They predict that this year, maybe next -- almost certainly by the end of the decade -- the world's oil production, having grown exuberantly for more than a century, will peak and begin to decline.

And then it really will be all downhill. The price of oil will increase drastically. Major oil-consuming countries will experience crippling inflation, unemployment and economic instability. Princeton University geologist Kenneth Deffeyes predicts "a permanent state of oil shortage."

According to these experts, it will take a decade or more before conservation measures and new technologies can bridge the gap between supply and demand, and even then the situation will be touch and go.
(24 May 2005)
Ed: Nice to see that PO has made it into an Associated Press story, which will be run in multiple newspapers.


Crude awakening

The Globe and Mail (Canada)
Two new stories for Tuesday in their week-long series on oil:

The great Caspian Sea adventure
One of the biggest pipelines ever is set to turn on the taps in Azerbaijan, says MARK MacKINNON. After years of hype, the question is: How much oil is there, really?

Hot Spots: Six emerging frontiers

(24 May 2005)


There is some good news

Heading out, The Oil Drum
...This is an area that is not often talked about, but in many of the plots of peak oil, there is the curve that goes up and then switchbacks down which is main crude oil production. Sitting like a rather large boil on the shoulder of the downside of that fold is an uptick that is called enhanced oil recovery (EOR) or tertiary recovery.

One of the more promising techniques for EOR is injecting carbon dioxide into a layer of rock that still has oil, but where it cannot easily be obtained normally. There are two benefits to using CO2. One of these is to strip some of the gas out of the atmosphere. The University of Texas recently showed that they could inject liquid CO2 into a depleted oil reservoir, and because the reservoir was a fluid trap, it would hold the gas and keep it from getting back into the atmosphere.

But the benefits extend beyond that.
(24 May 2005)


What Happens When the Oil Runs Out?
Interview with Deffeyes, others

CBS 5 (SF TV news)
What happens when the oil runs out?

If that seems like a far-fetched nightmare, you'd better put on your seatbelt. More and more, the experts are saying not only are we about to reach our peak in worldwide oil production, but some real conflicts -- including war -- could be on the horizon as we compete for oil with emerging nations.

We went to the campus of Princeton University to find one of the world's most sought-after geologists. Professor Kenneth Deffeyes has written extensively about when oil production will peak, and it's sooner than you think.

"Growth has stopped," Deffeyes says. "I've got the peak picked at this coming Thanksgiving Day."
(19 May 2005)


Lecture in Oregon By Michael Ruppert "Challenges For A Petroleum Dependent Civilization"

Medford News
Ashland, Oregon - On June 4, Michael Ruppert will offer a lecture, "Peak Oil - The Near-Term Challenges for a Petroleum Dependent Civilization" at Southern Oregon University.
(24 May 2005)


Energy-related News

Saudis pump more oil
Petroleum minister says kingdom seeks stability in prices

David R. Baker, SF Chronicle
Saudi Arabia has boosted the amount of oil it pumps and will produce more to meet surging world demand, the kingdom's petroleum minister said in a speech in San Francisco on Monday.

Ali Naimi said his government remains committed to seeking stable oil prices. But in response to questions, he declined to say where prices will level off.
...
Naimi's comments carry weight far beyond the petroleum industry. Sometimes called the world's "central banker of oil," Naimi has the power to stoke or stifle economies throughout the world. His comments can rattle financial markets as investors look for clues to his country's oil production plans.
...
He disputed the notions that global oil demand has outstripped supply and that reserves are running out. Although he said the world in general, and the United States in particular, need more refineries to convert oil into gasoline, he described petroleum supplies as adequate.
(24 May 2005)


Mixing left and right equals geo-green

Geo Beach, Anchorage Daily News
I think I'm turning green.

I'm not sure if it's jealousy, seasickness or an evolving ecology. Or which of those might be worse.

After years of being geological at the office and geophysical at the gym and occasionally geoducky in the Pacific Ocean -- I am now, according to Thomas Friedman, geo-green.

Well, at least a shade of green.

Friedman, who last spoke in Anchorage as part of the Governor's Millennium Lecture Series in 2001, is a columnist for the New York Times. He's acknowledged to be one of America's most insightful thinkers on Middle East politics, following his tenure as Times' bureau chief in Beirut and Jerusalem.

Earlier this year, Friedman began unveiling a "geo-green" strategy in his columns. In an interview last month in Grist magazine, he described how the idea came to him.
(21 May 2005)
Ed: Last October Geo Beach wrote another opinion piece which was published in the Anchorage Daily News: Balanced energy policy need work from Right and Left brains.
Access to the Anchorage Daily News may require registration.


Environmental neo-con job?

Bill Berkowitz, WorkingForChange
Neocons and Greens aim to 'Set America Free' from US dependence on Middle East oil, but nuclear power may be around the corner
...
The coupling of top neocons -- the architects of the Iraq War -- and environmentalists -- who are no doubt mortified by the devastating effects of the war on the environment -- seems to have materialized sometime during the fall of last year when, Bryce reports, "they jointly backed a proposal put forward" by the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, a Washington-based think tank tracking energy and security issues.
...
While there hasn't been a new commercial nuclear power plant ordered in the US since 1973, the issue has never really gone away. While one can easily picture neo-cons and mainstream environmentalists driving their Priuses down the pike, will that pike have a brand new nuclear power plant at its end?
(24 May 2005)


Apocalypse Arriving on a Very Tight Schedule

Gwynne Dyer, Arab News ("The Middle East's Leading English Language Daily")
The debate is getting as heated as the planet, but it has moved on. Outside the United States, where the climate-change denial industry still trots out its few tame scientists to question the reality of global warming, it is now about the best way to cut carbon emissions fast without bringing the whole structure of industrial civilization grinding to a halt — and the almost defunct nuclear-power industry is seizing the opportunity to make a come-back
...
The debate over nuclear power is highly emotional, and Lovelock has been vilified by his former supporters for advancing such a proposal. Quicker and deeper cuts in carbon emissions could be achieved, they point out, by just reducing our use of energy for nonessential purposes. It takes three average wind-farms, for example, to make up for the carbon dioxide emitted by one jumbo jet that crosses the Atlantic twice a day.

Lovelock and other like him are actually making the political calculation that deep cuts in energy use cannot be sold to reluctant governments and consumers until we are much deeper into climate change, by which time it will be too late. Whereas pushing nuclear power, despite all its problems, will attract allies in industry and demand no sacrifices from consumers who cannot see past the end of their SUVs. It is a counsel of desperation, but they think that these are desperate times.
(24 May 2005)


China's coal riches could ease oil insecurity

Emma Graham-Harrison, Reuters
BEIJING (Reuters) - Turning China's abundant coal reserves into oil to help close a widening supply gap might once have seemed little more than a Maoist dream, but synthetic fuels may soon be a key part of the country's energy mix.

Optimists say China could be making as much as 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) of liquid fuel from coal in 10 years, equivalent to more than a sixth of current demand, as high prices and a growing import reliance renew interest in the process.

Pessimists say uncertainty over the price of oil -- or that of coal, which has also surged -- will impede development.
(24 May 2005)


Coal shortage in China to hit 330 million tons by 2010

People's Daily Onlne (China)
Experts estimate that China will consume 2.2 billion tons of coal by 2010, causing a shortage of 330 million tons, Wang Xianzheng, vice director of the State Administration of Work Safety, said Tuesday at an annual exposition.

"The present size and scale of China's coal industry are far from being able to meet the country's future market demand. Insufficient supply will continue to be a major problem," Wang said. Wang addressed a high-profile forum on China's energy strategy at the ongoing Eighth China Beijing and International High-tech Exposition, which opened Monday.

He said China's current coal production capacity, with all types of coal mines included, is about 1.67 billion tons. Of the total, only 1.2 billion tons were produced by mines up to the country's safety production standards. By 2010, China's coal output may reach 1.87 billion tons, he said.
(24 May 2005)


Bolivian Capital Isolated by Protest Marches Demanding Oil Industry Nationalization

Alvaro Zuazo, Associated Press (via ABC)
Thousands of demonstrators blocked major roads in and around the Bolivian capital on Tuesday, isolating the city in a protest demanding the nationalization of the oil industry and opposing autonomy for an oil-producing region.

Police used tear gas and water cannons in the narrow streets to disperse the demonstrators, mainly peasants who had marched for several days to La Paz to press for their demands and who were later joined by miners, students, and teachers. Explosions could be heard throughout the city from both the police tear gas canisters and dynamite sticks traditionally used by Bolivian miners in protests.

There were no reports of injuries or arrests.
(24 May 2005)


Latin Oil Romance

Christian Science Monitor (editorial)
They're falling for it. Venezuela, Ecuador, and Bolivia - South America's three hydrocarbon gusher states - are placing high hopes for prosperity on petroleum wealth. That's risky enough in itself without them also moving toward more state control of oil and gas.

In Bolivia, street protesters are even demanding outright nationalization of the industry. Last week, tens of thousands of poor indigenous people and industrial workers successfully pressured the government to pass a law that sharply raises taxes on foreign energy companies. Bolivia's biggest foreign investor - Brazil's state-owned Petrobras - promptly announced it will scale back investment in that neighboring country.

It's no wonder, though, that the poor are demanding more of their governments. Oil and gas wealth is not trickling down to them.
(24 May 2005)


European economic sanctions against Iran could send oil prices higher

Matt Moore, Canadian Press via National Post
FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) - EU officials are weighing the possibility of sanctions as they try to contain Iran's nuclear ambitions - but any harsh move against Tehran could leave the world paying the price in more expensive oil.

Whether sanctions would force the country to agree to joint U.S.-European demands is uncertain, but - with Iran OPEC's second-largest producer - they would likely cause oil prices, still near $50 US a barrel, to rise again.

"The most severe sanctions that would affect Iran would be sanctions against their oil industry, that is, an international boycott on Iranian oil products," said Gary Sick, a senior research scholar at Columbia University. "That would mean basically taking three million barrels a day off the market which would probably cause the price to spike.
(24 May 2005)


Transcript of Alan Greenspan's May 20 speech

Federal Reserve Board
Over the past twenty years, the American economy has absorbed the major shocks of two stock market slumps, the terrorist attacks of September 11, and debilitating corporate scandals. But we have also been subjected to other shocks, the most immediately prominent ones being the oil and gas price surges of the past two years. Indeed, most analysts attribute the economic soft spots of the past two years to energy shocks. Accordingly, I will devote the rest of my formal remarks to developments in oil and gas markets, and I will endeavor to address broader issues of the world economy in the question and answer period.
(20 May 2005)
Ed: For an article on the speech, see US Fed Chairman Says Oil Uncertainties to Persist 'For Some Time' in Rigzone.


Oil to fuel U.S. job boom

Roma Luciw, Globe and Mail (Canada)
Costly oil and gas - long seen as culprits stalling economic expansion and job growth - will fuel a U.S. job explosion not seen since the high-tech boom in the 1990's, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.

“The quest for oil and natural gas, the construction of new power plants and refineries, and the development of alternative energy sources will lead to a job boom that could rival the high-tech expansion of the 1990s,” Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a Chicago-based outplacement company that also tracks employment trends in the United States, said in a report released Wednesday.

Canada's employment picture has already benefited from record high oil and gas prices, particularly in Alberta. The Canadian economy added 29,300 new jobs in April, while the jobless rate fell to a four-and-a-half year low
(19 May 2005)
Ed: The silver lining...


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