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Energy Headlines - June 4, 2005

Click on the headline (link) for the full text.

Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage


Peak Oil

4th ASPO conference on oil and gas depletion - downloadable documents

Association For the Study of Peak Oil & Gas (ASPO)
Dozens of downloadable documents from the IV International Workshop on Oil and Gas Depletion held 19-20 May 2005 in Lisbon, Portugal. Also see biographies of the speakers


Lisbon ASPO Conference (links)

Chris Vernon, Vital Trivia (blog)
Whilst I was personally unable to attend The Association For the Study of Peak Oil & Gas (ASPO) IV International Workshop on Oil and Gas Depletion 19-20 May 2005, Lisbon, Portugal, the workshop material and coverage of the event is now available online.
(3 June 2005)
Chris has links to information both on and off the ASPO site.


Countdown to a Meltdown
America's coming economic crisis.
A look back from the election of 2016

James Fallows, Atlantic Monthly
A chilling scenario of the next decade: a Venezuelan oil embargo, oil shock, devaluation of the dollar, bursting of the housing bubble, a depression. Peak oil is mentioned. Unfortunately, the article is currently only available to subscribers. Aagh!
(July/August 2005 issue)


Oil crisis film takes market fears to living rooms

Deepa Babington, Reuters
Think $55 a barrel oil is bad? Wait till a hurricane knocks out a U.S. pipeline and a port at the same time that militants are killing hostages in Saudi Arabia, sending oil prices over $150 a barrel.

That's the premise of "Oil Storm," a television docudrama set to premiere in the United States on Sunday. The movie uses exaggerated real life events and fictional characters to examine America's dependence on oil and the havoc a major disruption in supply could wreak on ordinary people.

The movie depicts -- albeit in the extreme -- what energy markets have spent much of the past year fretting about: hurricanes that can rip apart oil infrastructure and war and turbulence in the Middle East, which have driven crude prices to record highs.

And the writers aim to show why the intricacies of oil rigs and oil reserves should be as much a concern for average Americans, with their taste for gas guzzling SUVs and summer road trips, as they are for traders at the New York Mercantile Exchange.

"Everything is so interconnected that anything that happens in Saudi Arabia or China will have an impact on oil, and therefore an impact on you or I in terms of what happens at the pump," said Caroline Levy, its British producer and co-writer.
(3 June 2005)
For details, see Peak Oil: The Movie! from Energy Bulletin.


Getting ready for the last oil wars ... writing on the wall

Andrew McKillop, VHeadline
Experts will forever discuss and dispute the causes of previous wars, both local and civil, either ethnic or religious, for resources or to deny resources to enemies, and will always disagree on the causes of ‘total wars’ such as those of 1914-18 and 1939-45.

But the now accelerating countdown to Peak Oil, or the ultimate peak of world production -- followed by annual and constant fall in amounts available to a hungry world -- will most certainly aggravate existing tensions, while creating new focii for Great Power rivalry and conflict.

Under any hypothesis, declining food surpluses, and ever-higher oil prices will severely test the ‘Teflon-coated’ New Economy and undermine the thrust of Globalization. World economic crisis, as in 1929-36, is always ‘the Mother of War.’(3 June 2005)
Also at NewsGateway


Peak Oil: Russian Style

Dr. Joe Duarte, Rigzone.com
The concept of peak oil is gathering strength. And evidence from Russia suggests that one way or another, the world's number two oil producer is trying to provide substantive proof that the days of rising production are a thing of the past.

Russia's recent political shifts have had a major effect on the country's oil industry. According to the Wall Street Journal "Russian oil production could stagnate for years, industry officials are warning, a shift that could help keep world prices for fossil fuels high." (3 June 2005)
Author Duarte gives investment advice about investing in the energy sector; this may influence his views..


Social justice and the path forward from peak oil

Dave Roberts, Gristmill
Part 5 of Kevin Drum's series on peak oil is out. In it, he turns from describing the phenomenon to considering what should be done about it. It's at once the most interesting and frustrating entry in what is, I should say, an excellent overall series. (If you know someone looking for an easily-digestible primer on the subject, you won't find better.)

Before I get into the weeds, let me say why I find this last entry frustrating.

As the era of cheap oil ends -- and it's already happening -- a great deal of power politics will be going on behind the scenes. There are lots of very large, entrenched financial and political interests involved in the oil game, to say the least. It is to their benefit that the transition to a post-oil world happen with as little disruption (for them, that is) as possible. If there's one iron law of socio-politics, it's that power's first imperative is to preserve power.

However, the path of least resistance for those powerful interests may not be the healthiest or safest path for the rest of us.
(5 June 2005)


Peak oil interviews with Kunstler, Shar on Australian youth radio

Steve Cannane, triple j's hack (ABC)
This half hour special looks at a topic that's crucial to the future of the planet - the future of oil supplies. Peak oil is when the world's oil supplies reach the peak of production. Many people are arguing we're there now, and that production is in decline. This will have a major impact on the economies of the world. Some people argue that it could lead us into recession and political instability.
+ Listen to Peak oil (mp3, 13.8MB)
(2 June 2005)
Says Big Gav: James Kunstler has popped up on the local national youth radio network to talk about peak oil and "The Long Emergency" - nothing new here but he speaks well (and notes he doesn't think he deserves to be called apocalyptic, though he doesn't mention apocaphilia).

They also talk to Sonia Shar, author of "Crude", local science pundit Dr Karl Kruszelnicki and Queensland state MP Andrew McNamara.


Oil's imminent decline will impact us all

Ron Forthofer, Rocky Mountain News
...Immediate steps: As a result of the irresponsibility of our political leaders, we are facing a highly probable catastrophe without a lifeline. We can try to reduce or delay the effect by saving as much oil as possible. One step in this effort is to make our families and communities more self-sufficient by developing and supporting local industries and co-ops. We need to work with city and county authorities to save local farms and to encourage more small organic farms. We must also live more simply and more cooperatively.

We must also pressure Congress to immediately:

  • Increase fuel efficiency standards for autos, including SUVs.

  • Increase funds for mass transit.
  • Continue tax incentives for the purchase of hybrid autos.
  • Provide tax rebates to people who purchase solar cells and get off the electric grid.
  • Provide tax breaks for renewable energy, energy efficiency and energy conservation.
  • Withdraw from the World Trade Organization. Everyone around the world must be able to meet their needs locally as soon as possible because global trade is likely to decrease dramatically.

The above steps won't prevent a catastrophe, but they can somewhat lessen its impact if we act now.

(Ron Forthofer was the Green Party candidate for governor of Colorado in 2002 and won 4 percent of the vote in Colorado's 2nd Congressional District in 2000. A Longmont resident, he is a retired professor of biostatistics at the University of Texas School of Public Health in Houston.)
(4 June 2005)


Energy-related News

Clinton on energy

Dave Roberts, Gristmill
I'm listening to an interview with Bill Clinton on public radio... In answer to a question about managing China's transition to global powerhouse, Clinton said it's crucial to (among other things) create a new generation of high-tech, high-wage jobs. What jobs? "Clean energy."

Ira Flatow then responded that he had 8 years to advance smart energy policy, and he didn't (though less bluntly put). Clinton had three responses:

* Energy issues had low visibility back then, because other priorities were intruding and oil was cheap;
* the Republican congress enjoyed the oil and coal economy, and still does;
* and he did actually do some stuff, tax credits and such, not to mention Kyoto.

Update [2005-6-3 21:22:14 by Dave Roberts]: A caller just asked him about the hydrogen economy. His answer, paraphrased: Hydrogen is great, and eventually we'll end up there. But it's a ways out. It shouldn't take money from more short-term achievable things like hybrids, compressed natural gas, solar, wind, etc. In general, we should spend far more on the emerging clean-energy economy.

The problem is that the old energy economy -- oil and coal -- is highly centralized, with access to influence, and very well-financed. The new energy economy is decentralized, entrepreneurial, under-financed, and lacking clear markets. The feds should help it along.
(4 June 2005)


The rising cost of oil
(Interview of IEA director Claude Mandil)- VIDEO

Stephen Sackur, BBC
In a HARDtalk interview on June 1st, Stephen Sackur talks to Claude Mandil, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency, about rising oil prices
(1 June 2005)


Thousands of Nicaraguans reject state of emergency

Raul Garcia Alvarez, Prensa Latina
Thousands of Nicaraguan workers demanded members of the Congress Thursday to reject the state of economic emergency decreed by President Enrique Bolaños Monday.

Delegations from different trade unions, organizations for consumer protection and human rights, and community movement members concentrated in front of the National Assembly, and their leadership declared they would remain there permanently because of the government"s escalating limitations of constitutional guarantees.

Participants in the protest held big banners saying: "No More Abuse of the Population," "Transnationals Out of Nicaragua," "No to Electric Power Prices Rise", "Bolanos, You Sold Out to Transnationals," and others.

Representatives of the Civil Coordinating Office and other organizations spoke on the plenary about the negative consequences of an increase of 11.83 percent in electric power tariffs for Nicaragua, the poorest Central American country.(2 June 2005)
Also see Electricity Hikes Spark Protests in Nicaragua from June 3.


The rebellion grows in Bolivia
TRANSCRIPT / AUDIO / VIDEO
Juan Gonzalez, Democracy Now
...All of this is aimed at forcing the government to take back control of the nation's oil and gas resources, which were privatized under I.M.F. pressure in the mid-1990s. And really what's happening is this is the end of a process that has been in motion for more than two years. This is the same issue over which Bolivia kicked out its last president, Gonzales Sanchez de Lozada, in very similar uprisings in October of 2003.

...traditionally the mineral resources of this country, silver, tin, have been in the highlands where the indigenous communities are strongest and most represented. The oil and gas -- and we're talking about a lot of oil and gas We're talking about 53 trillion (with a T) cubic feet. This is the second-largest reserve on the continent after Venezuela.
(3 June 2005)


Company wants to drill at Colo. nuke site

Judith, Kohler, Associated Press via The Guardian
DENVER (AP) - A company says it plans to drill for natural gas near the site of an underground nuclear blast nearly four decades ago, despite opposition from local residents and the concerns of Energy Department officials.
(4 June 2005)


Council Set to Vote on LNG Plant at Port

Deborah Schoch, LA Times
The Long Beach City Council is poised to vote earlier than planned on a proposed liquefied natural gas terminal, spurred on by criticism that council members have avoided taking a stand on the plan for more than two years.

The vote is shaping up as a referendum on the safety and economics of the terminal, which could be the first onshore LNG terminal on the West Coast. It comes amid mounting public concerns nationwide about the safety of building such terminals in urban areas. Recent safety reports have concluded that an accident involving LNG tankers and terminals could create a large fire, making such facilities potential terrorist targets.

Mayor Beverly O'Neill and council members infuriated local LNG critics last week when they unexpectedly delayed a vote until June 21 on whether to end talks with a Mitsubishi Corp. subsidiary that wants to build a terminal for imported LNG at the Port of Long Beach, the nation's second-largest seaport.
(3 June 2005)


Solutions and Sustainability

Japan squeezes to get the most of costly fuel

James Brooke, NY Times
TOKYO, June 3 - Surging oil prices and growing concerns about meeting targets to cut greenhouse gases produced by burning fossil fuels have revived efforts around the world to improve energy efficiency. But perhaps nowhere is the interest greater than here in Japan.

Even though Japan is already among the most frugal countries in the world, the government recently introduced a national campaign, urging the Japanese to replace their older appliances and buy hybrid vehicles, all part of a patriotic effort to save energy and fight global warming. And big companies are jumping on the bandwagon, counting on the moves to increase sales of their latest models.

On the Matsushita appliance showroom floor these days, the numbers scream not the low, low yen prices, but the low, low kilowatt-hours.

A vacuum-insulated refrigerator, which comes with a buzzer if the door stays open more than 30 seconds, boasts that it will use 160 kilowatt-hours a year, one-eighth of that needed by standard models a decade ago. An air-conditioner with a robotic dust filter cleaner proclaims it uses 884 kilowatt-hours, less than half of what decade-old ones consumed.

...Japan is where energy consciousness probably reaches the highest levels. The country has the world's second-largest economy, but it produces virtually no oil or gas, importing 96 percent of its energy needs.

This dependence on imports has prodded the nation into tremendous achievements in improved efficiency. France and Germany, where government crusades against global warming have become increasingly loud, expend almost 50 percent more energy to produce the equivalent of $1 in economic activity. Britain's energy use, on the same measure, is nearly double; the United States nearly triple; and China almost eight times as much.

...But Japan's flattening of industrial energy consumption has not been matched in the transportation and residential sectors, where energy consumption has more than doubled since 1973, roughly pacing Japan's economic growth over the period.
(4 June 2005)


Warming up to solar power

Keay Davidson, SF Chronicle
As costs fall, California increasingly is harnessing the sun (4 June 2005)


Pollution, poverty link on agenda

Jane Kay, SF Chronicle
Talk, rally to focus on inner-city minorities' plight (4 June 2005)


To eco-friendly eyes, no such thing as trash

Kelly Hill, SF Chronicle (4 June 2005)


To really go green, stop shopping

Lynette Evans, SF Chronicle (4 June 2005)


London's traffic tactic piques interest in S.F.

Rachel Gordon, SF Chronicle
Congestion eased by making drivers pay to traverse busiest areas at peak times (4 June 2005)


'Tattooed freak' a pioneer in recycling computers

Patrick Hoge, SF Chronicle
When Berkeley's mayor led an international group of mayors and dignitaries on a tour of recycling businesses Friday for this week's United Nations' World Environment Day conference, the last person they probably expected to meet was James Burgett, a self-described "350-pound tattooed freak. "

But Burgett, once a homeless junkie, works for one of 65 "garbage to gold" businesses that Berkeley officials were boasting about as they touted ways the private sector can be green.

Burgett, 41, founded the Alameda County Computer Resource Center, a pioneering computer recycling company, 11 years ago. The firm builds working computers for poor people and nonprofit agencies worldwide.

"I am a very weird guy,'' volunteers Burgett, a fast talker with many opinions who is prone to slip into technical lingo beyond the grasp of anyone but a computer whiz.

To Berkeley city officials, however, Burgett's nonprofit company is just the kind of recycling business they hope to attract.
(4 June 2005)


Rev. Billy warns of rampant consumerism's eternal price

Leslie Fulbright, SF Chronicle
A tanned reverend with a bleached-blond pompadour and a beige polyester suit blessed the offices of three San Francisco supervisors on Friday to protect the city from the "shopocalypse."

Bill Talen, more commonly known as the Rev. Billy of the Church of Stop Shopping, delivered a rousing sermon denouncing the evils of sweatshops on the steps of City Hall before he and his choir marched into the offices of Ross Mirkarimi, Aaron Peskin and Fiona Ma. None of the supervisors was present, but the Rev. Billy blessed their desks, chairs and computers anyway.

"We are in the office of exalted leader Peskin," the reverend told Peskin's stunned staff. "He is on vacation in Utah, but we know he will use San Francisco's taxpayer money to do the right thing."

New York's the Rev. Billy is a nationally known -- well, in some circles -- performance artist and crusader who travels the country to support local movements against big-box retailers and rampant consumerism. His collar may be fake, but he's got a true preacher's style. He and his Stop Big Boxes Gospel Choir are on a six-day Shopocalypse Tour of the Bay Area, to coincide with World Environment Day.
(4 June 2005)

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