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Peak Oil

Warning from Gore on future
S.F. speech focuses on global warming

Cecilia M. Vega, SF Chronicle
When former Vice President Al Gore gave a long list of doom-and- gloom statistics Saturday about global warming — warning people that rising sea levels could drown out parts of Florida, Louisiana and Manhattan — there were no loud gasps or headshakes of disbelief from a roomful of Bay Area environmentalists.

At the World Environment Day conference in San Francisco — a five-day U. N. gathering dedicated to adopting sound environmental practices for urban centers — he was preaching to the choir.
(5 June 2005)

Reader Jason writes:

“After the talk, an audience member asked him about Peak Oil. He admitted, point-blank, the reality of peak oil, and that we are on the peak now! This is the highest level US politician to do so that I’m aware (maybe the only other than Bartlett?”

So far, I’ve seen no news report that has mentioned the quote. Do we have a scoop? Can anyone else confirm this? -BA

A world gone mad

Dave Walker, New Orleans Times-Picayune
… Built as a backward look at events that are set later this year, the film [“Oil Storm”] combines stock news footage with scripted scenes. Together they tell the story of events that unfold after the storm makes Labor Day weekend landfall at scenic Port Fourchon, essentially wiping out the oil-and-gas distribution infrastructure that supplies the nation with a sizable percentage of its nonrenewable go-juice.

Calamity results, ranging from rising gas-pump prices and a coast-to-coast 50 mph speed limit at first to nationwide economic depression by Easter.

It’s not a comedy, in other words, grim from beginning to end. Plausibility aside — I suppose it all could happen just this way, though I sure hope not — the film’s gimmick is fascinating. Using the hyperactive visual lexicon of TV news, the tale unfolds via flashbacks from the future.
(4 June 2005)
Another review is Obscure Louisiana port linchpin for U.S. energy from Reuters.

Oil Storm – the good and bad news
“Heading out”, The Oil Drum
A quick note after watching the movie, and for those who are curious a couple of references. The movie begins with a hurricane taking out Port Fourchon , a major entry point for oil into the United States. That is feasible, as is the short term result of losing the supplies that flow through there from the deep waters of the Gulf, as well as the connection to the deep water mooring points of the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (Loop)…
(5 June 2005)
This post and the following one critique the accuracy of the movie “Oil Storm” which appeared on the Fox network Sunday night.

Russian production is worth a closer look

“Heading out”, The Oil Drum
…In the last entry I mentioned why we have a problem with Saudi Arabian ability to produce more oil in the short term. In my sandwich shop analogy, it was because they do not have enough shop assistants (oil drilling rigs and related infrastructure) to quickly expand production. However in getting to them I skipped over Russia. But since Russia contributes significantly to the world supply they need a closer look, which brings more worry.

…If I could briefly return to the sandwich shop analogy, it was somewhat the same as occurs when a new company takes over an old shop. They bring in new technology (bread slicers that get more slices per loaf), they find the old reserves of fillings and ingredients that were stored for a rainy day and sell those, and they spruce up the place, and for a while they do a greater business. And to an extent that is what happened in Russia. By bringing in Western investment they were able to enhance the recovery from existing wells, and get some oil out that was not being produced from existing fields. But in just the same way as, after a time, with increased business, the shop owner has to go out and buy more supplies in greater volume, so the Russian oil industry has to go out and find new wells and reserves.

…So with ageing fields that have now had production accelerated, so that they run out faster, and insufficient new fields being found, the hoped for help from Russia may well have been over-anticipated, and even the current hope for sustained production at current levels may be optimistic.
(5 June 2005)
Can the Russians save the day by shipping the US oil, as in the movie “Oil Storm”? Read TOD and find out!

Still Clueless

James Howard Kunstler, Clusterf*ck Nation
Cluelessness over the the world energy / economic predicament fogs the public discussion more than ever as we approach summer. The New York Times ran a big story in the Sunday news section about India’s soaring energy needs and its future plans (“Hunger For Energy Transforms How India Operates”). India is the world’s fifth leading energy user. Dig this: they import 70 percent of their oil. India’s government predicts that the country will have to import 85 percent of its oil two decades from now.

So what’s India’s plan? According to Energy Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar, the solution is “to persuade China to cooperate rather than compete.” Okay, and your bargaining chip would be. . .? Also consider this: The US, Japan, Europe and China will all have to import more than three quarters of their oil supplies. Does this suggest that the world is going to remain an orderly place?
(6 June 2005)

Suburbia, oil, and preferences

Dave Roberts, Gristmill
The other day I expressed disappointment at Kevin Drum’s fifth peak oil post — the one where he lays out his recommendations for oil policy. In my inimitably oblique and unfocused way, I was simply trying to say that I wish he’d been more imaginative.

If nothing else, peak oil is going to be a major inflection point in our collective history. It’s a sharp turn in the road, and we can’t see clearly around the bend. The stakes are huge, and call for a commensurate greatness of mind and expansiveness of thought.
(6 June 2005)

Part I: A Micro Peak Oil Model

M O B J E C T I V I S T (blog)
I recently got involved in a discussion about Hubbert Curve denier Michael Lynch and his latest article at the message board. In the past, Lynch’s disputes with depletion experts such as Colin Campbell had to do with a seemingly trivial feature of the oil production profile — in particular that the curves showed too much symmetry. I would argue that much of the rationale for the argument arises (in the first place) from assorted media people who refer to the curves as describing a Bell shape or having a symmetric Normal or Gaussian distribution
(4 June 2005)
Recommended by Jon S. at Peak Energy and PG of The Oil Drum, who writes: “Check out Mobjectivist’s post from yesterday on the derivation of the distribution function of the peak oil supply curve. I will warn you now, it is equation heavy, but for us quantitatively-disposed folks, it’s an important discussion, especially regarding the shape the curve post-peak.”

Energy-related News

A Well–Oiled Regime

F. Gregory Gause III, Foreign Policy
Saudi Arabia’s King Fahd is nearing his last days. His successor, Crown Prince Abdullah, has held the reins since 1995. Yet Fahd’s recent hospitalization put the kingdom’s security forces on high alert and drove up oil prices. What gives? FP asked veteran Saudi watcher F. Gregory Gause about succession in the House of Saud, explosive allegations in a recently published U.S. book, and political developments in the kingdom.

FP: What can the Saudis do to cut oil prices, and what are they doing?

FG: There’s not much more they can do in the short term because they’re producing near their maximum capacity. The oil minister announced a few months ago that, by 2009, they will expand capacity by 2 millions barrels a day to 12 million. The Saudis haven’t increased net capacity for around 20 years, so it’s good that they are increasing it. But if you consider the rise in demand from South and East Asia, you wonder if 2 million barrels a day over the next four years will be enough to meet demand, given that there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of new oil coming onto the market.

FP: Is there any merit to Gerald Posner’s allegation, made in his book Secrets of the Kingdom, that Saudi Arabia has rigged its oil infrastructure with an elaborate set of dirty bombs to ensure that the world’s oil supply is tied to the fate of the Saud family?

FG: I have no doubt that the Saudis have been thinking about contingencies involving serious internal threats. I understand the logic of tying the family’s fate to the oil supply, but I’m not convinced by Posner. His previous work on Saudi Arabia isn’t particularly well sourced.
(June 2005)

There’s No Oil Deal With US, Says [Saudi Arabia]

P.K. Abdul Ghafour, Arab News
JEDDAH, 6 June 2005 – Saudi Arabia has not signed any long-term agreement with Washington for supplying the United States with oil at fixed prices, according to Majed Al-Muneef, adviser to the minister of petroleum and mineral resources.
(6 June 2005)

Hunting for ‘elephants’ in Africa’s oil sector

Africa is being eyed anew for potential “elephants” in the oil and gas sector, riding on the back of soaring oil prices, the depletion of resources elsewhere and newfound stability in many countries, experts say.

Governments on the continent are opening up and even those which had been producing oil for decades are saying that new opportunities for investment are emerging, a four-day oil and gas conference in the Mozambican capital heard last week.

“It is my feeling that there is a new shift towards Africa, with a lot of projects… especially if you look at the healthy price of oil,” said Pierce Riemer, director general of the World Petroleum Council.

“Things are looking a lot more promising than they did in the past,” he told AFP on the sidelines of the conference, attended by more than 400 delegates from 40 countries involved in the oil and gas sector.

Often referred to as the “black gold” of Africa, the continent has become a prominent player in the global oil and gas market, pushing its production to some 8.04 million barrels per day, and accounting for between seven and 11 percent of the world’s total oil production.
(6 June 2005)

The True Costs of Petroleum

Ecology Center (Berkeley)
Our focus on The True Costs of Petroleum aims to expose the many ways in which petroleum and petroleum products affect us and the environment. Collect all four of the maps: World, Community, House, and Body.
(no date)
Four pages are included; see the entries below.

The True Costs of Petroleum: On the Body

Ecology Center (Berkeley)
Petrochemicals and their byproducts, such as dioxin, are known to cause an array of serious health problems, including cancers and endocrine disruption. Of the more than 75,000 chemicals registered with the Environmental Protection Agency, only a fraction have gone through complete testing to find out whether they might cause problems for human health. Many that are produced in enormous quantities have never been tested at all. Usually, it takes dramatic episodes of workplace injuries or wildlife poisonings, combined with rigorous scientific proof of harm and public outcry, before the government will act to restrict or ban any chemical. And that is no accident. The current regulatory system allows synthetic chemicals into our lives unless proven beyond doubt to be dangerous.
(no date)

The True Costs of Petroleum: On the House
Petro-Chemicals, Plastics, Solvents, Dioxins, and Death

Ecology Center (Berkeley)
Pesticides and fertilizers, plastics and synthetic fibers, solvents and fuels: These are just some of the many products derived from petroleum. Petrochemicals are used in the manufacture of everything from chewing gum to flooring, food to building insulation. By distilling or cracking crude petroleum into fractions, the gases butane, ethane and propane are obtained, as well as naptha, gasoline, kerosene, fuel oils, gas oils, lubricating oils, paraffin wax, and asphalt. From the hydrocarbon gases, ethylene, butylenes, and propylene are obtained; these are used to obtain alcohols, ethylene glycols, and a wide range of plastics.
(no date)

The True Costs of Petroleum: On the Community

The toxic effects of petrochemicals on Bay Area neighborhoods, waterways, and air quality are examples of the tragic consequences of our petroleum dependence. Refineries and petrochemical plants, military sites, and garbage incinerators have created toxic hotspots around the Bay Area. Urban development based on “car culture” and a food system that requires large petroleum inputs in the form of pesticides, fertilizers, and transportation fuel add to the true costs of petroleum.
Ecology Center (Berkeley)
(no date)

The True Costs of Petroleum: On the World

No corner of the world is left untouched by the effects of petroleum extraction and use. Many negative effects are well documented, such as global warming, habitat destruction, and political conflicts over oil supplies. But the petroleum economy extends its often hidden reach into many other aspects of life on our planet. Petroleum, used for transportation, industry, and mechanized agriculture, is the backbone of globalization. Institutions of global trade, such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), work hand in hand with oil companies, while militaries provide the armed backup to protect these interests. Examine this map to find the connections between worldwide militarization, environmental racism, and displacement of indigenous peoples, as well as the toxic consequences of extraction, use, and disposal of petrochemicals and plastics.
Ecology Center (Berkeley)
(no date)

Solutions and Sustainability

U.N. Conference: Mayors’ pact pledges cleaner, greener cities

Glen Martin, SF Chronicle
Mayors from the world’s cities convened in the capacious rotunda room of San Francisco City Hall on Sunday to sign a set of 21 urban environmental accords, marking the end of the U.N. World Environment Day conference.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom characterized the accords as a collective dream that pointed the way to a cleaner, greener future for the planet’s cities. “The challenge is to take these (accords) and manifest them,” Newsom said. “My expectation is that this is the beginning of our work together. We hold ourselves accountable.”

The signatories pledged to improve the environment of their cities in seven broad areas: energy, waste reduction, urban design, urban nature, transportation, environmental health and water. The U.N. conference was designed to address cascading environmental crises facing Earth’s urban areas — foul air, inadequate and polluted water, traffic gridlock, rampant development, unreliable and unsustainable energy supplies, and toxic emissions
(6 June 2005)

Bay Area’s open space tightrope

Peter Fimrite, SF Chronicle
The Bay Area’s hundreds of thousands of acres of parkland laced with forests, mountains and rugged seashore make the region a perfect petri dish for testing the concept of sustainable cities, some experts contend.

With other forms of open spacing bringing the total of preserved land to nearly a fourth of the region’s 4.5 million acres, it is still possible to keep a balance between wildland and development — to achieve the environmental goal of “sustainability.”

That can be done, however, only if the region gives up the “American dream” of single-family homes in suburbia and embraces dense urban development. If it doesn’t, the Bay Area’s large amount of parkland will contribute to driving up already high housing costs.

…The benefit of environmental preservation versus its social and economic cost was one of the most pressing issues facing the mayors and other luminaries at this week’s U.N. World Environment Day conference
(5 June 2005)

Possum Living
How to live well without a job
And with (almost) no money

Universe Books
Do you want to get out of the rat race but not drop out? Do you want to live a life of leisure without worry or guilt? If your answer is yes, Dolly Freed will show you how to live well without a job and without working very hard.

After discussing reasons why you should or shouldn’t give up your job, POSSUM LIVING gives you details about the cheapest ways with the best results to buy and maintain your own home, dress well, cope with the law, stay healthy, and keep up a middle-class facade–whether you live in the city, in the suburbs, or in a small town. In a delightful, straightforward style, Dolly Freed explains how to be lazy, proud, miserly, and honest, live well, and enjoy leisure. She shares her knowledge of what you do need–your own home, for example–and what you don’t need–such as doctors, lawyers, and insurance. And she has a lot of realistic advice about saving money, as well as practical information about

* buying a house cheaply through a foreclosure or back-tax sale
* raising and slaughtering rabbits
* catching and cooking fish and turtles
* distilling your own moonshine

Mainly, however, through her own example, she hopes to inspire you to do some independent thinking about how economics affects the course of your life now and may do so in the coming “age of shortages.”

If you ever wondered what it would be like to be in greater control of your own life, POSSUM LIVING will show you–and help you do it for yourself.

DOLLY FREED and her father have lived outside of Philadelphia in their own house on a half-acre lot for almost five years. They produce their own food and drink and spend about $700 each per year. Dolly is 19 years old and lists her occupation as “chief possum.”

Someone has put this underground classic from the 70s online. The funniest and most down-to-earth introduction to the simple lifestyle I’ve seen. -BA