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Energy Headlines - May 26, 2005

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Peak Oil

Energy to drive Greens' election hopes

Newstalk ZB
The Green Party has unveiled an ambitious energy policy as its flagship election platform. It contains a raft of initiatives to cut household energy bills and develop sustainable generation. They include removing the fixed electricity price for homes and subsidising the installation of half a million solar panels for water heating.

Co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says the energy issue will be as powerful as the tax debate in the lead up to the election. She says New Zealanders are keenly aware of rising power bills and fuel prices. Ms Fitzsimons says the solar panels alone would save homes between $500 to $600 a year.
(25 May 2005)


NZ Greens offer brighter thinking on energy

Green Party press release
“Everything we do depends on energy, and if our energy supply is not sustainable, then neither is our economy or our way of life” Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons is delivering that message with the launch of the Greens’ 2005 Energy Policy, ‘Growing a Brighter Future’.

“The Greens are the only party with a plan to keep the lights on without compromising our environment or heating up the atmosphere. New Zealand is facing the combined threats of climate change, Peak Oil and the depletion of the Maui gas reserves. In that situation, wasting energy is dumb and burning more fossil fuel is stupid. We have to have brighter ideas than that."
(26 May 2005)
Ed: See also a summary and a full-text version of the NZ Green Party energy policy.


Seven more energy stories from Globe and Mail

Globe and Mail (Canada)
Wednesday and Thursday offerings from G&M's weeklong series:
Wednesday

Needle edging closer to empty:
A refinery shortage looms as investment gets scarce

Extreme engineering: pipeline edition
Gales, undersea terrain and remote locales are becoming the norm as the world grows desperate for new oil and gas supplies

Thursday

Clean coal: Soot gets another look
Juice for buses, and laptops?
Wind power: Taking energy from thin air
Auto industry steers course to trim the fat from vehicles
What's fuel cost? Depends on our wages

(25 May 2005)


Long Day's Journey Into Night
Grist interviews doomsaying author James Howard Kunstler

Amanda Griscom Little, Grist
"Check all of your assumptions at the door," James Howard Kunstler advises reporters before he commences an interview. "Don't assume that anything you think about the way we live today is going to be the same 10, five, even three years from now."

The author of the new book The Long Emergency: Surviving the Converging Catastrophes of the 21st Century, recently excerpted in Rolling Stone, Kunstler is an emphatic petro-pessimist who argues that civilization is about to enter a sustained period of economic, social, and environmental decrepitude triggered by the end of the cheap-oil era. He summarily rejects the possibility that renewable energy could forestall disaster, and predicts that spiking fossil-fuel prices will precipitate the collapse of the airline industry, the electricity grid, highway infrastructure, agribusiness, big-box retail stores, and suburbia itself. The majority of Americans, he says, will likely suffer bouts of violent upheaval and be forced to return to agrarian, small-town lifestyles. Understandably, his prognostications have raised some eyebrows.
(25 May 2005)


Is There Life After Oil?
Minnesota Interview with Kunstler

Brian Kaller, Pulse of the Twin Cities ("Your Locally Grown Alternative Newspaper")
ames Howard Kunstler is America’s version of an Old Testament prophet, a stinging social critic who warns of dark days ahead if we do not change the way we live...His latest book, “The Long Emergency: Surviving the Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century,” describes what may happen when the flood of cheap oil, which has sustained our society for a hundred years, begins to peter out—as experts predict it will in the coming decade.
(25 May 2005)
Ed: This interview is the cover story of the current issue.
The website also has an excerpt from Kunstler's "The Long Emergency.".


Town Hall Conference a Success [in Sierra Foothills]

The Town Hall Institute, Yubanet.com
Over two hundred people attended Nevada County's first annual Town Hall Conference on the subject of Peak Oil and Nevada County's preparation for the coming changes it will bring.
(25 May 2005)
Ed: This is how it builds, one town at a time.


Energy-related News
Pipelineistan's biggest game begins
Pepe Escobar, Asia Times
History may judge it as one of the capital moves of the 21st century's New Great Game: May 25, the day high-quality Caspian light crude started flowing through the Caucasus toward the Mediterranean in Turkey. The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline (BTC) - conceived by the US as the ultimate Western escape route from dependence on oil from the Persian Gulf - is finally in business.

This is what Pipelineistan is all about: a supreme law unto itself - untouchable by national sovereignty, serious environmental concerns (expressed both in the Caucasus and in Europe), labor legislation, protests against the World Bank, not to mention mountains 2,700 meters high and 1,500 small rivers. BTC took 10 years of hard work and at least US$4 billion - $3 billion of which is in bank loans. BTC is not merely a pipeline: it is a sovereign state.
(26 May 2005)


The Chinese Connection

Paul Krugman, NY Times
Stories about the new Treasury report condemning China's currency policy probably had most readers going, "Huh?" Frankly, this is an issue that confuses professional economists, too. But let me try to explain what's going on.

Over the last few years China, for its own reasons, has acted as an enabler both of U.S. fiscal irresponsibility and of a return to Nasdaq-style speculative mania, this time in the housing market. Now the U.S. government is finally admitting that there's a problem - but it's asserting that the problem is China's, not ours.

And there's no sign that anyone in the administration has faced up to an unpleasant reality: the U.S. economy has become dependent on low-interest loans from China and other foreign governments, and it's likely to have major problems when those loans are no longer forthcoming.
(20 May 2005)
Ed: For previously published columns by Krugman, see The Unofficial Paul Krugman Web Page (click on "Columns" button on left side).


Analyst sees surge in offshore wind projects

Editors, Oil and Gas Journal
HOUSTON, May 25 -- More than 2,300 wind turbines are expected to be installed offshore, primarily off the UK, over the next 5 years at a cost of $13 billion, said John Westwood of Douglas-Westwood Ltd.

High prices for oil and natural gas have greatly improved the comparative economics of offshore renewable energy, a technology that has been attracting considerable attention as onshore sites are used up, Westwood said at a meeting in Aberdeen.
(25 May 2005)


BP Reportedly Demands Advance Notice Of Press Mentions

Dow Jones via iWon Money & Investing
NEW YORK (Dow Jones)--Global energy giant BP PLC (BP) reportedly is now demanding that media running its ads notify the company in advance when news stories are slated to mention BP or its industry.

Citing a memo obtained from BP's ad-buying agency, WPP Group PLC's (WPPGY) MindShare, trade magazine Advertising Age reported Tuesday that BP has "adopted a zero-tolerance policy towards negative editorial coverage" which will require news organizations to notify BP ahead of "any news text or visuals they plan to publish that directly mention the company, a competitor or the oil-and-energy industry."

The reported move by London-based BP - which in recent weeks has been mired in controversy over a March explosion at a Texas refinery that killed more than 15 people - comes on the heels of Morgan Stanley's (MWD) move last week to pull ads from publications when they publish "objectionable" stories about the bank. Morgan Stanley had announced its new policy amid a raft of negative publicity surrounding a recent restructuring effort.
(25 May 2005)


China Coal Paradox?

Green Car Congress
If peak oil production occurs, as seems likely, sometime during the next few years, then nations endowed with rich coal resources will turn to variants of the basic Fischer-Tropsch process to generate synthetic fuels to fill part of the resulting fuels gap.

But given the increased demand pressures on coal not only for synthetic fuels, but also for electricity generation (a major problem for China), the second statement [about a coming coal shortage for China] is likely true as well. There just won’t be enough coal produced to go around.

The US is in a similar situation.
(25 May 2005)


Some concerns on Saudi production may be answered

The Oil Drum
I remember one time taking a bus up to the Arctic Circle in Sweden, and being cautioned on the way not to ask the local Lapp how many reindeer they had. It was considered impolite. Gerald Posner notes in Secrets of the Kingdom, that the Saud family feel much the same way when asked about Saudi oil. Which makes it a little more difficult to discern exactly what is going on with production over there at the moment. However, in a relatively unreported remark by their oil minister in San Francisco last weekend he mentioned that they planned on becoming more open.
(26 May 2005)


Norway sees injecting CO2 into oil fields as too pricey

Alexander's Gas & Oil Connections
Injecting carbon dioxide (CO2) into oil fields boosts production and even helps reduce emissions of the gas, but is for now too costly and too risky, according to a new study published in Oslo.
"At the present time, CO2 injection does not appear to be a commercial alternative for improved oil recovery for the licensees on the Norwegian shelf," said the report, which was commissioned by the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate.

The procedure of injecting CO2 into submarine oil fields, which has been tested on the offshore Sleipner platform in the North Sea, has proven to help push out more oil and at the same time limit emissions of the gas that causes climate change.
The solution has been regarded as attractive in Norway, which is the world's third largest oil exporter after Saudi Arabia and Russia, and which has signed the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.
(26 May 2005)


LNG fate decided sooner?

Jason Gewirtz, Press-Telegram
LONG BEACH — A City Council showdown over a proposed liquefied natural gas terminal in the port of Long Beach may happen sooner than expected.
(26 May 2005)
Ed: See also Mayor O'Neill Writes Senate Energy Committee Expressing LB Opposition To Fed'l LNG Supremacy.


Solutions and Sustainability
the oil plateau does not mean peak food
Dark Brown River Blog
oil is also a component of food production. but so is labour. as convenience food prices rose as a result of the oil component of packaging, processing and distributing, - the relative price of locally produced food would look more attractive. moreover, in a depressed or at least contracting economy, many would be unemployed or underemployed. the labour component would become cheaper and more available. this might also be in the form of family labour, as in the past.

so food production might shift its ground, rather than decline. quality might rise. obesity and food related ill health might decline. price, not principle, might shift meat eaters towards bread and cereals. the scattered suburbs might suffer horrendous hikes in commuting costs, but suppose that out of four families, three or four wage earners shared a car, while a fifth and sixth, underemployed and home bound, took to part time basic horticulture. those in city flats might suffer more.
(22 May 2005)


We can all save money on gas, even without a hybrid

Tim Woodward, Idaho Statesman
We've all complained about the price of gas, but what are we doing about it? We grump at the pump, fill the tank and keep right on going.

Bob Taylor is doing something about it. He's saving gas by changing his driving habits. A lot of gas.

Taylor drives a hybrid car. Nothing too unusual about that; manufacturers can't keep up with the demand. It's Taylor's enthusiasm for fuel economy that makes him unusual. He thinks we can all save gas by changing the way we drive, regardless of what we drive. And to prove it, he loaned me his hybrid to show how it's done.
(26 May 2005)


SUVs are losing their luster

Tom Incantalupo, Newsday
Market researchers say SUVsales have declined 22 percent so far this year
---
The hulking, gas-guzzling sport utility vehicle, bane of environmentalists and of drivers caught behind it, is starting to fade from the American road.

Rising gasoline prices and shifting consumer tastes seem to be doing what the likes of the Sierra Club could not — making SUV drivers think twice about whether they really need all that height, all that room, all that ground clearance, all that off-road performance and all that weight.
(26 May 2005)

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