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Peak Oil

A Cartel and Its Snakeoil
The Saudis claim to have huge oil reserves. Do they really?

William Tucker, Wall Street Journal (opinion page)
…Across the oil industry, the uneasy feeling is growing that world production may be approaching its own “Hubbert’s Peak.” …

Before an uneasy feeling grows into full-blown pessimism, however, one must consider the supposedly vast oil resources lying beneath Saudi Arabia. The Saudis possess 25% of the world’s proven reserves. They routinely proclaim that, for at least the next 50 years, they could easily double their current output of 10 million barrels a day.

But is this true? Matthew R. Simmons, a Texas investment banker with a Harvard Business School degree and 20 years’ experience in oil, has his doubts. In “Twilight in the Desert,” Mr. Simmons argues that the Saudis may be deceiving the world and themselves. If only half of his claims prove to be true, we could be in for some nasty surprises.
Mr. Tucker is an associate at the American Enterprise Institute
(28 June 2005)

Oil forecasts ‘glib, futile and damaging’
Oilcast #13
In this Oilcast…Adam Porter looks at sixty dollar oil prices on the NYMEX, Shell shares, Iran’s pipelines, a CINOOC man in New York and more possible OPEC production increases.
Plus we take on board one of the harshest industry reports yet, from analysts Energyfiles and Douglas Westwood. They claim current forecasts, like resistance, are ‘futile’.
(28 June 2005)

Shell predicts two decades of rising energy prices

Michael Harrison, The Independent
Worldwide energy prices are set to rise over the next two decades as individual countries become more concerned about ensuring security of supply and governments take a more pro-active role in dictating energy policy and regulating markets, according to the latest global outlook from the oil giant Shell.

Its “global scenarios” report, the first to be produced since the twin shocks of the terror attacks of 11 September 2001 and the Enron scandal, also suggests that Shell in common with other oil majors will place more emphasis on developing renewable energy sources such as wind and solar than extracting more hydrocarbons through unconventional means.
(7 June 2005)
The rest of the article is only available to subscribers. Suggested by Jon S. of the Seattle Peak Energy blog.

Central banks fear slump as oil soars near $61

Larry Elliott, The Guardian
The world’s central banks expressed concern yesterday about the impact of rapidly rising oil prices on the global economy as the price of crude surged to a record high of $60.90 in New York trading.

Amid signs that the near-40% jump in the cost of oil since the start of the year has started to weaken demand, the Bank for International Settlements, the Swiss organisation that acts as the central bank for central banks, warned against the assumption that prices would quickly fall back to their previous levels.
(28 June 2005)

Snow says oil prices hurting economy-CNBC

Kevin Plumberg, Reuters
NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow acknowledged on Tuesday that record high oil prices are beginning to take their toll on the U.S. economy, but not enough to derail the economy’s strong recovery.

“Energy prices are way too high,” Snow said on CNBC television. “Clearly, it’s hurting.”

After hitting a three-month low in May, U.S.-traded oil futures have risen around 32 percent to a record high of $60.95 a barrel (CLc1: Quote, Profile, Research) on Monday. In early trading Tuesday, oil prices slipped to $59.25.

High energy prices often sap domestic spending, as consumers have to shell out more for gasoline and less for other goods. A consumer-led slowdown has the potential to dent U.S. economic growth, particularly since consumer spending makes up roughly two-thirds of the economy.

“Clearly, energy prices serve as a tax, they reduce the disposable income available to do other things and they take some oxygen out of the economy,” Snow said. “Energy is my concern. I think energy is the biggest concern,” he added.
(28 June 2005)

None today.

Politics and Economics

High-octane energy fight

Gail Russell Chaddock, Christian Science Monitor
The Senate passes a version of energy legislation long sought by Bush, but it differs sharply from the House bill.
WASHINGTON – Soaring fuel prices and concerns about a Chinese company buying a major US oil producer give a long-stalled energy bill its best shot at passage since George W. Bush took office.

The Senate Tuesday passed its version of energy reform by a bipartisan 85-12 vote, opening the door to tough talks with the House to reconcile differences over issues from drilling in the Alaskan wilderness to a controversial liability waiver for a gasoline additive that pollutes drinking water.

But with the price of crude oil topping $60 a barrel, the pressure on Congress to move an energy bill is all but irresistible.
(28 June 2005)


The Art of ‘Manufacturing Uncertainty’

David Michaels, LA TImes
To many scientists and policymakers in Washington, the revelation this month that Philip Cooney, chief of staff for the White House Council on Environmental Quality, had rewritten a federal report to magnify the level of uncertainty on climate change came as no surprise. Uncertainty is easily manipulated, and Cooney — a former lobbyist with the American Petroleum Institute, one of the nation’s leading manufacturers of scientific uncertainty — was highly familiar with its uses.

As an epidemiologist with a special interest in occupational diseases, I share a fundamental problem with the scientists who are studying climate change. Our ability to conduct laboratory experiments is limited; we can’t go out and intentionally expose people to carcinogens any more than climatologists can measure future temperatures. Instead, we must harness “natural experiments,” collecting data through observation only. We then build models from this data, and use these models to make causal inferences and predictions, and, where possible, to recommend protective measures.

David Michaels, a professor at the George Washington University School of Public Health, served as assistant secretary of Energy between 1998 and 2001.
(24 June 2005)
The same propaganda techniques used to deflect conversation on global warming will probably be used on peak oil.

Climate change ‘worries children’

Climate change is young people’s biggest concern for the world’s future, a government survey says.

Some 24% believe it is the greatest threat faced, while 19% think it is crime and violence, the Department for Education and Skills found. Of the 1,000 10 to 18-year-olds questioned, 18% nominated terrorism and 12% said it was lack of housing around the globe which concerned them most.
(23 June 2005)

Solutions and Sustainability

The Brits Can Teach Us Yanks How to Create Livable Cities

Neal Peirce, Seattle Times
Britain cares about its cities; the United States does not.

It was tough for Americans attending the Urban Land Institute’s World Cities Forum here last week to reach any other conclusion. And the Brits’ visionary urban-agenda setter, Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, made the point without a word of trans-Atlantic criticism.

Instead, Prescott simply described the amazingly broad set of activist initiatives that Prime Minister Tony Blair has allowed him to lead and champion — in housing, transportation, recycling abandoned industrial lands, revitalizing towns and using government power to force new malls and megastores back into downtowns.

All of this is rolling forward with tens of billions of pounds invested, pushed with little opposition in a national parliamentary system with few of the checks and balances of the U.S. system. But the listening Americans couldn’t help wonder: What if our federal government developed a vision of where American communities need to be headed?
(28 June 2005)

France Chosen As Site for Nuclear Reactor

Vladimir Isachenkov, Associated Press via The Guardian
PARIS (AP) – France beat out Japan on Tuesday in the race to host a $13 billion experimental nuclear fusion reactor that scientists hope will produce a clean, safe and endless energy resource and help phase out polluting fossil fuels.

…The project is expected to create 10,000 jobs and take about eight years to build. But fulfilling the long-term vision of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, as it is called, could take decades.

The six-partner consortium is promoting the future of fusion, which reproduces the sun’s power source and creates no greenhouse gas emissions and only low levels of radioactive waste.

If all goes well with the experimental reactor, officials hope to set up a demonstration power plant in Cadarache around 2040. Officials project that 10-20 percent of the world’s energy could come from fusion by the century’s end, said Raymond L. Orbach, the U.S. Department of Energy’s office of science director.

But France’s Greens and environmentalists in France, who generally oppose nuclear power, argued the project would turn the focus away from concrete efforts to fight global warming now.
(28 June 2005)
Also see Scientists expect go-ahead for nuclear fusion reactor in the Guardian; and France gets nuclear fusion plant from the BBC.

Critics say Thai energy plan lacks the whole picture

Connie Levett, Sidney Morning Herald
No need to turn off the television in Thailand – the Government will do it for you. Amid a continuing energy crisis, TV and radio stations have been told to shut down from midnight each night voluntarily or face compulsory broadcasting bans.

The TV companies say they will comply if the Government makes it compulsory for all, but warn the broadcasting blackout will not cut power use. The turn-off is just one of the recommendations released this week by the Energy Policy and Planning Office for voluntary measures to lower energy consumption.

Others include raising the temperature in government offices to 25 degrees and shutting the air-conditioning down at lunch and from 4pm to 9am; asking golf courses to switch off unnecessary lights; and urging people to use their cars less at weekends.
(25 June 2005)
Superficial analysis of Thai energy-saving proposals; one of the “critics” referenced is the CEO of a cable broadcasting affected by the measures. Hey, the Thais are starting to think about energy consumption! That’s better than most other countries. -BA