Peak Oil

Innovation lacking in high-tech world of oil: New technologies needed to develop unconventional resources

Solid article detailing the drivers for technological development and why optimism can only be modest: “At a time when industry innovation is sorely needed and fattening oil prices are providing the super majors with funds to invest in R&D, innovation is being pushed down to their vendors, the oilfield service companies. Absent new technological innovation fostered by the oil majors, expect consumers and entrepreneurs to conserve and innovate – especially around conservation.”
(June 2005)

Oil and food: A new security challenge

Asia Times /Danielle Murray, Earth Policy Institute
From farm to plate, the modern food system relies heavily on cheap oil. Threats to our oil supply are also threats to our food supply. As food undergoes more processing and travels farther, the food system consumes ever more energy each year.
The US food system uses over 10 quadrillion Btu (10,551 quadrillion Joules) of energy each year, as much as France’s total annual energy consumption. Growing food accounts for only one-fifth of this. The other four-fifths is used to move, process, package, sell, and store food after it leaves the farm. Some 28% of energy used in agriculture goes to fertilizer manufacturing, 7% goes to irrigation, and 34% is consumed as diesel and gasoline by farm vehicles used to plant, till, and harvest crops. The rest goes to pesticide production, grain drying, and facility operations.
(3 June 2005)


James Howard Kunstler, Clusterf*ck Nation
…I’ve been on a long book publicity road trip around California, with a
side trip to Seattle on Thursday, and it’s hard not to feel hopeless about
this country after being here.
…I was invited to give a talk at Google headquarters down in Mountain View
last Tuesday. …Google HQ was a glass office park pod tucked into an
inscrutable tangle of off-ramps, berms, manzanita clumps, and curb-cuts. But
inside, it was all tricked out like a kindergarten. …
I gave my spiel about the global oil problem and the unlikelihood that “alternative energy” would even fractionally replace it, and quite a few of the Googlers became
incensed. “Yo, Dude, you’re so, like, wrong! We’ve got, like, technology!”
Yeah, well, they weren’t interested in making a distinction between energy
and technology (or, more precisely where Google is concerned, a massive
web-based advertising scheme — because it is finally clear that all this
talk about “connectivity” just leads to more commercial shilling, shucking,
jiving, and generally fucking with your headspace in the interstices of
whatever purposeful activity one may be struggling to enact on the
(12 June 2005)
Kunstler is in fine prophetic form today. href=””>Jon S. at
Peak Energy (Seattle) thinks so too. -BA

Peak oil jobs #1: The Dentist

New Era Investor
… When globalisation was coming to the fore, I thought that the job of dentist would be one of those localised jobs untouchable by workers in India and China. Now as I see a trending down in calorific intake mirroring Hubbert’s distribution curve, my advice to anyone assessing their careers is simple. Don’t go into dentistry.
(14 June 2005)

OPEC may increase production ceiling

Associated Press
OPEC is expected to raise its daily output quota by half a million barrels when it meets Wednesday, though analysts said the move would have little impact on oil prices, which are now about $55 a barrel.
The anticipated increase would bring the official quota to 28 million barrels per day a symbolic gesture, analysts said, since the cartel is already pumping that much. Including Iraq, which is not bound by the official quota, OPEC’s daily output was 29.3 million barrels a day in May, according to the International Energy Agency.
(13 Jun 2005)
Considering that OPEC’s output declined in May, you have to wonder what this is worth.

Oil rigs thirsting for Florida waters

Prices are high, and other sources are drying up, so more are pushing to open – or at least explore – Florida’s coasts. …
Congress used to consider a proposal or two every couple of years, but now drilling supporters are pressing for almost a dozen bills and amendments. Environmentalists, energy lobbyists and lawmakers say they’ve never seen anything like it, and they fear they won’t be able to stop them all.
(13 June 2005)


Oil prices cause paving costs to rise

Associated Press/Business Week
From New England — where the punishing winters leave roads rutted, cracked and riddled with potholes in the spring — to the Deep South, repaving projects are being canceled or postponed because of the rising price of oil, which is used to make asphalt as well as diesel for dump trucks, steamrollers and other heavy equipment.
Around Cabot, a seven-mile stretch of U.S. Route 2 northeast of Montpelier, a main route across northern New England, has been dropped from the state’s list of paving projects for the year because bids have been coming in higher than budgeted.
(14 June 2005)

Nuclear power not a solution

Harding & Denis Hayes, Seattle Post-Intelligencer (opinion)
In separate articles in Wired magazine and MIT’s Technology Review, Peter
Schwartz and Stewart Brand argue that the environmental community should
reconsider its opposition to new nuclear power plants because of global
warming. Both authors are respected futurists and longtime environmental
advocates. Both had a hand in the Pentagon study of abrupt climate change
that inspired the movie “The Day After Tomorrow.” They deserve respect and
consideration. But their arguments and recommendations have little merit.
(14 June 2005)
Also at Common

Politics and economics

An odd couple and the energy bill

Gail Russell Chaddock, Christian Science Monitor
After derailing in the past two congresses, the latest version
of a national energy bill begins debate in the Senate today with a momentum
that previous efforts missed – including new interest in taking action on
climate change.
It’s driven by months of sticker shock at US gas pumps, but also by a
partnership forged by New Mexico’s two senators – a Republican and Democrat
who hold top positions on the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources
Committee. …
At this time in the last energy bill cycle,
both sides were firing off attacks. Now, the committee’s top Democrats and
Republicans are appearing together to support a bill that passed out of
committee with only one dissenting vote.
(14 June 2005)

In search of energy security

Frank J. Gaffney Jr., Washington TimesThis week, the American people
will get a chance to see if their senators are prepared finally to go beyond
mere rhetoric and actually do something consequential about a problem 90
percent of those polled in a recent survey now regard as “serious”: U.S.
dependence upon imported oil.
The latest confirmation of the correctness of the public’s assessment comes
in a paper issued by the newly reconstituted Committee on the Present Danger
(CPD.) on the eve of Senate action on energy legislation. Its authors [are] former Reagan Secretary of State George Shultz and former Clinton Director
of Central Intelligence James Woolsey. …
Communist China and, to a lesser degree at the moment, India are becoming
increasingly assertive competitors in the global energy markets. Especially
if, as some believe — including lately several major oil companies — we
are at or nearing “peak oil” (the point at which supply of at least the most
valuable and most accessible oil begins declining), these competing demands
will surely translate into higher energy costs for this country and perhaps
even conflict.
(14 June 2005)
This is the first time I’ve heard peak oil mentioned by the geo-greens (the conservatives who argue for conservation and energy alternatives for nationalistic reasons).

Sustainability and solutions

BIO degradeable

For most of the non-petroleum-based alternatives proposed for our fossil fuel free future we will somehow have to get over a bunch of “humps”. What the “hump” means in every case I can’t really say, but I have tended to obsession over a few of the “mini-humps” I see in our immediate path.
At the top on my list, I place the issue of (for a lack of a better term) built-in obsolescence. BIO occurs for just about every modern gizmo, but it varies widely depending on how much the consumer tolerates it. In my opinion, BIO consists of two marketing strategies:
1. Newer technologies obsolescing older technologies
2. Fast wear and tear leading to frequent repurchases
… I really believe that we have to get over the BIO attitude for many of
our alternative energy strategies. We really should get in a good habit of
making and demanding quality products
(13 June 2005)