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Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage

Peak Oil

The sky is the limit

Editorial, The Guardian
…The pessimistic scenario is that the world is fast approaching “Hubbert’s peak”, the point at which the rate of global oil production begins to decline. In either case oil prices will keep rising. The biggest optimist cannot ignore the fact that the annual average increase in demand for oil was around 1m barrels per day from the 1970s – until 2004, when the average increase shot up to 2.5m barrels a day. According to the International Monetary Fund’s forecasts, total global demand will rise from around 82m barrels a day now to nearly 140m a day by 2030. Barring a technological breakthrough in the combustion engine – which could still lead to additional consumption, an effect known to economists as Jevon’s paradox – the increased demand will presumably be met by much higher prices and the exploitation of marginal reserves.

…For one reason or another, the reign of oil must come to an end.
(23 June 2005)

Report on 4th ASPO conference

John La Grou
My personal opinion on all this? I believe there will be energy available for
many generations to come, but at increasingly higher cost. Eventually (10
years? 30 years?), the cost of energy will force major lifestyle changes. Many in
the Peak Oil crowd tend towards a severely pessimistic outlook of the future.
They may be right.

I prefer to put a bit more confidence in the combination of free market forces
and human ingenuity. I personally don’t think our global civilization will come
crashing down any time soon. I have a hunch that coal-oil (coal gasifaction) will
play a much greater roll than is currently assumed, though it is a filthy
operation – potentially causing vast environmental damage via the scale of
capital required.

But just as James Kunstler entitled his recent book The Long Emergency, energy
depletion is an issue that won’t go away. The economic and ecological impact
of this and many other global issues will continue to worsen. A developed world
addicted to unlimited energy and economic growth will progressively realize
that the “party” indeed is coming to a close, and that new sustainable
paradigms of commerce and community must emerge.

Actually, the paradigms required are not “new” – unless an alternate source of
essentially “free” energy is developed, we will simply be forced to move back to
slower, localized (vs. globalized), rural forms of living. Simple in theory,
monumentally difficult in practice.

It’s that part about “monumentally difficult” that has many of us gravely
concerned, and propels us to continue researching this issue, looking for
solutions, and continuing to talk about it to whoever has ears to hear.
(June 2005)
An 11-page report on the recent ASPO conference in Lisbon. For those who want further information on the ASPO Conference, most abstracts and papers can be found here.

Waking up to Peak Oil’ – Tariana Turia

Press Release of The Maori Party, The Scoop (New Zealand)
“It is about time the Government woke up to the approaching energy crisis” stated Tariana Turia today.

“The Maori Party raised the issue about preparing a range of options to respond to Peak Oil on 4 May 2005” stated Mrs Turia. “We were concerned that the isolation of Aotearoa from oil reserves must lead us to take a serious look at the way that our future is planned in relation to energy and gas consumption”.

…“Ko tenei te wa: the time for action is now”.
(23 June 2005)

Peak Oil Mind: Juggling Two Realities

Kurt Cobb, Resource Insights
I nowadays feel as if I’m a passenger on the Titanic who knows about the fatal iceberg dead ahead, but who is too polite to bring up the dreadful subject at dinner. The usual questions arise each time a new venue for disseminating the word about peak oil presents itself: Who will believe it? Will I be considered a kook?

…Then, out comes a forecast from the world’s foremost oil forecasting firm assuring us we have nothing to worry about. The marketplace will take care of oil supplies and bring us substitutes just when we need them like an attentive waiter in an expensive restaurant.

Am I crazy? Am I missing something? Everyone around me seems to be living in a different reality. I’m the one who’s out of step with the world’s smartest oil experts. But, wait a minute! Should we really play at this prediction game as if it were only a contest about who’s right?

No, I say. There is too much at stake. There are many things we can and should do that are good ideas no matter what our energy future holds. The two realities I’ve been juggling meld into one again, and I return to my work.
(23 June 2005)

Boone Pickens: Famed Oil Tycoon Sounds Off on Peak Oil

Michael J. DesLauriers, Resource Investor
In recent months, legendary oil baron, T. Boone Pickens has become increasingly vocal about his view that peak oil is upon us and high prices are here to stay.
(23 June 2005)

Le pétrole entre choc des prix et spectre de la pénurie
Jean-Michel Bezat, Le Monde
Les prix du pétrole se sont rapprochés de 60 dollars le baril (59,29 euros), lundi 20 juin, à New York. Les marchés craignent une rupture des approvisionnements à la fin de l’année si les pays producteurs ­ notamment ceux de l’Organisation des pays exportateurs de pétrole (OPEP) ­ ne parviennent pas à répondre à une forte croissance de la demande au cours de l’hiver.

Mais la question lancinante, qui revient sans cesse, est à beaucoup plus long terme. C’est celle de la baisse inéluctable des réserves pétrolières, qui pèse désormais de façon quasi structurelle à la hausse sur les cours.
(23 June 2005)


Shell chief outlines plan to increase oil production

Heather Timmons, New York Times (via International Herald Tribune)
LONDON The chief executive of Royal Dutch/Shell Group, Jeroen van der Veer, said Wednesday that he planned to spend more on research, focus on big technology-driven projects, and possibly make acquisitions to increase oil and gas production 30 percent by 2015.

Van der Veer, who took the helm 15 months ago after Shell was forced to admit that it had massively overstated its oil and gas reserves, has said that the company plans to produce 5 million barrels of oil a day in a decade, up from about 3.5 million now.

Van der Veer presented his top managers with more details of that plan this week, and briefed journalists on Wednesday.

Most of the shift in strategy focuses on helping the company become an indispensable partner to oil- and natural gas-rich governments. Several of the world’s top energy companies are quietly following similar plans as easy-to-access oil projects dry up, and the balance of the world’s reserves shift to physically remote areas, or areas where governments are reluctant to cede control of their resources to Western oil companies.
(23 June 2005)

Bush: U.S. needs more nuclear power plants

Nedra Pickler, Associated Press via Sacramento Bee
LUSBY, Md. (AP) – Pushing for the construction of nuclear power plants, President Bush on Wednesday pressed Congress to send him an energy bill, though he acknowledged that even when he signs the legislation, gasoline prices at the pump won’t fall overnight.

Bush is promoting nuclear power as a way to take the pressure off fossil fuels – oil, natural gas and coal.

“It’s time for this country to start building nuclear power plants again,” said Bush, who noted that while the U.S. gets 20 percent of its electricity from nuclear reactors, France meets 78 percent of its electricity needs with nuclear power.
(23 June 2005)
So, that’s the answer: nuclear and LNG. Both are fossil fuels, both involve greenhouse gases (nuclear in mining, construction, and the disposal of radioactive waste). And the key point: both are highly centralized and fit in nicely with our current power structure. This story was covered in hundreds of other news outlets, such as The Financial Times -BA

Politics and Economics

European Industry Squeezed by Surging Power Prices

Stuart Penson, Reuters via Planet Ark
LONDON – Record power prices in Europe are squeezing industry and analysts say there is more pain on the way as utilities pass through soaring costs of complying with new limits on greenhouse gas emissions.

Anglo-Dutch group Corus said on Wednesday it may shut a German aluminium plant because of high power costs, echoing threats by other producers and sounding alarm bells across the continent as experts said electricity prices have yet to peak.

“High power prices are really killing energy intensive industries,” said Peter Claes, president of the European arm of the International Federation of Industrial Energy Consumers.
(23 June 2005)

Senate sides with Bush, defeats greenhouse gas limits

Associated Press via Star Tribune
WASHINGTON,D.C. — The Senate soundly defeated a proposal Wednesday for mandatory reductions in heat-trapping pollution that may be warming the Earth.

The proposal to cap greenhouse gases at 2000 levels within five years, lost 60-38. It was a victory for President Bush’s policies that focus on voluntary actions by industry to address the problem.

The debate was seen by some as a barometer of congressional support for his strategy.

Bush’s approach has come under criticism from environmentalists and some European leaders who say it does not adequately address one of the most pressing environmental issues.

Senators also agreed to give Washington clear authority to override states’ objections to the location of liquefied natural gas terminals.
(23 June 2005)


Charles Secrett: ‘We are killing the planet. That is not an exaggeration’

Charles Secrett, The Independent
The statistics released yesterday are a wake-up call to individuals and families that we’re all responsible for climate change. Too many people think: “Climate change has nothing to do with me – it’s the fault of government and industry.” But statistics like this show the cumulative effect of millions of people doing the wrong thing.

We can’t escape the link between climate change and our individual daily behaviour: how much we drive; what sort of fuel we use and what sort of car we own; whether we use public transport, walk or cycle whenever possible; whether we pile on board budget airline flights, the most irresponsible form of transport; whether we turn off the tap while we brush our teeth; whether we try to find local producers for our food, so that it hasn’t travelled halfway across the world to reach our dinner plate. And, of course, whether we turn off our electrical appliances.
Charles Secrett is environmental adviser to the Mayor of London and was executive director of Friends of the Earth from 1993 until 2003
(23 June 2005)
Also at Common Dreams.

Ecosystem valuation

Dennis M. King and Marisa Mazzotta
Welcome to Ecosystem Valuation! This website describes how economists value the beneficial ways that ecosystems affect people – ecosystem valuation.

It is designed for non-economists who need answers to questions about the benefits of ecosysytem conservation, preservation or restoration. It provides a clear, non-technical explanation of ecosystem valuation concepts, methods, and applications.
(no date)
Looks interesting and understandable. Recommended by Andy Brett at Gristmill. The site authors are two academics.

Solutions and Sustainability

Standby Britain: How it fuels our energy crisis

Ben Russell, The Independent
Appliances on standby pump one million tons of carbon into the atmosphere. Wasted energy of appliances on standby could power 400,000 homes. Up to 85 per cent of power used by a video recorder is consumed on standby. Government says Britain would save 240,000 tons of C02 emissions by switching off televisions
(23 June 2005)

Hopes for home power generation

Many homes could generate all their own power by wind or solar energy and sell the surplus, the government has said. Energy minister Malcolm Wicks launched a consultation paper on how to boost “micro-generation” by homes, businesses and public buildings.

The government is seeking ways to solve high costs. A solar panel system could take 120 years to save what it cost to install, government figures say.

But renewable power groups have called for clearer government policy targets. “Power generation has traditionally been about giant stations supplying whole cities, but the future may show that small is big,” Mr Wicks said at the conference of the Renewable Power Association (RPA).
(23 June 2005)

Make your list and check it twice

Ianqui, The Oil Drum
In the comments to this post, Rajiv pointed us to a Salon blog by Dave Pollard. In his post reviewing James Fallows’ Atlantic Monthly article called “Countdown to a Meltdown”, Pollard gives a list of steps we should all be following. I thought it might be a fun exercise to go through and annotate his list; you can also play along at home!
(23 June 2005)
Lots of links to investigate if you’re interested.