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Fossil Fuel Headlines - 30 June, 2005

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Peak Oil

World oil consumption hits record in 2004: BP report

Xinhuanet
BEIJING, June 29 (Xinhuanet) -- A statistics report on world energy consumption published by BP on Wednesday said that global oil consumption in 2004 hit a record high since 1976, with oil consumption increasing nearly 2.5 million barrels per day. The growth was twice the annual average increase rate over the past decade, said the report.

It said that oil consumption in all regions exceeded the average level in the past 10 years due to the rapid development ofglobal economy. Meanwhile, global oil output for the first time surpassed 80 million bpd, and that of the Oil Producing and Exporting Countries(OPEC) increased by 2.2 million bpd to reach 32.9 million bpd.

The oil production of Saudi Arabia reached 10.6 million bpd last year, a record high, while that of Britain and the United States, dropped 230,000 bpd and 160,000 bdp respectively.

The report also revealed that world natural gas consumption rose 3.3 percent last year, compared with the annual average growth rate of 2.3 percent in the past 10 years, with Russia, China and the Middle East reporting the fastest growth in natural gas consumption.

According to the report, world coal consumption reported a 6.3 percent rise in 2004. In Asia, the growth rate stood at 7.4 percent. World nuclear power consumption surged 4.4 percent, while hydropower consumption rose 5 percent last year. China's hydropower production grew 16.6 percent.
(29 June 2005)


Another shock may make us realise we've been living in a fuel's paradise
(opinion)
Hugh Saddler
The right response to rising oil prices is not less tax, but better public transport
----------
'TAX relief for motorists." Sooner or later, when oil prices rise enough, the call will be heard. This is one of the great certainties of public policy debate. On this occasion it has taken a little time, but reaching $US60 a barrel seems to have done the trick.

History is always a good starting point for considering the wisdom of any policy proposal. [Saddler gives a summary of oil shocks since the 70s and our response to them.]

...What [governments] need to do is help consumers to adjust to higher prices and use less oil, by using more efficient road transport and by changing their travel behaviour.

It is important to realise that road transport accounts for 56 per cent of Australian petroleum use and more than half of road transport fuel use is in private cars and light commercial vehicles in urban areas. So transport in our major cities needs to be the focus of policy change.

The Commonwealth should change its taxes which favour large four-wheel-drive vehicles over smaller cars, and private and road transport over public and rail transport. State governments should spend relatively less on roads, much more on providing effective public transport alternatives to private car use and explore other options to reduce people's dependence on individual use of private cars.

What will be good for Sydney will also be good for the country and the world.
Hugh Saddler is the managing director of Energy Strategies, a Canberra consultancy company.
(30 June 2005)


Bomb the suburbs
Bleatings of a reactionary environmentalist

Michael Manville, NY Press
...Kunstler, in his book The Long Emergency, skips the evidence and the policy and decides that the end times are upon us. The oil age will end, alternative fuels won't save us, and the planet will enter a period of strife and instability called the Long Emergency.

As is often the case, popularity rises as quality declines. Simmons is an expert who has been spent considerable time in Saudi Arabia. He and his book are obscure. Kunstler is a font of vitriol with a BA in theater. His book has been excerpted in Rolling Stone, he has written for the Atlantic, and he has a large following among urban planners and environmentalists.
(29 June 2005)
An attack on Kunstler because of his bad manners. Why can't he be calmer and more polite, like Matthew Simmons? Manville seems to agree with the gist of Kunstler's message, though. Reminds me of a Judy Collins song (written by Malvina Reynolds) during the Civil Rights Movement:

It isn't nice to block the doorway
It isn't nice to go to jail
There are nicer ways to do it
But the nice ways always fail
It isn't nice, it isn't nice
You told us once, you told us twice
But if that is Freedom's price
We don't mind.
Words and Music by Malvina Reynolds.
Copyright 1964 by Schroder Music Company
complete version


Our Declaration of Independence From Domination By Middle-Eastern Oil:
Developing a Sustainable Energy Policy

Tom Turnipseed, Common Dreams
As we travel to the beach for the 4th of July, we pay more for gas than ever before. This should be a driving force for us to end the dominance of energy and foreign policy by a destructive, rule and ruin cabal of corporate oil and war profiteers and to develop an eco-friendly and sustainable energy policy.
(30 June 2005)


IEA says OPEC, energy efficiency, investment key to oil price

AFX via Forbes
PARIS (AFX) - The world needs more oil, mainly from OPEC, but governments in consuming countries must also streamline energy investment regulations and boost energy efficiency to help bring oil prices back down, the International Energy Agency said.

IEA executive director Claude Mandil issued a statement saying that high oil prices of about 60 usd a barrel and 'possibly' more, posed 'significant' risk to the world economy and growth and that 'the poorer the country, the higher the burden'.

Mandil declared: 'More oil, more investment, more energy efficiency -- that is how market forces should react to market signals. However, sometimes this reaction is slow. If it does not happen soon, with government impetus when needed, it will happen later, more painfully.'
(29 June 2005)


World must come to terms with oil supply squeeze

Editorial, Independent via Seattle Post-Intelligencer
While the leaders of the industrial world bicker over energy use and how to control it, the oil market is forcing the pace in the most effective way of all -- by raising the price.

The remorseless rise last week toward the $60 per barrel mark has given a sharp retort to those who, earlier this year, said the price at $50 was a flash in the pan, the product of temporary circumstances that would soon be reversed by more oil and lower oil use. In fact, neither has happened.

The world demand for oil, particularly in China and the newer economies, continues to grow exponentially. At the same time, despite a series of declarations of intent by the oil producers of OPEC to raise exports to ease the market, it hasn't happened. There are certainly elements in the current situation that are squeezing supply artificially, in particular a shortage of spare refining capacity and the continued constraints on Iraqi oil output. That means the market for the time being is peculiarly vulnerable to short-term pressures, from hot weather to holiday movement.

But it is the underlying pattern that is so worrying. The simple fact is that oil production is pretty near capacity while demand shows no sign of pulling back. Far from being a temporary blip, the present squeeze could go on for a generation or more unless demand is curbed dramatically or unexpected new supplies are found.

If that is the case -- and oil experts as well as economists are increasingly coming to the view that it is -- then the world must come to terms with two serious consequences.

One is that, in the medium term, energy prices (and with them the price of gas and electricity) will hold back economic growth, with particularly painful implications for the Third World.

The second is that oil prices are likely to continue to rise until they force a response in terms of demand or supply. Over the longer term that may be all for the good. But in the shorter term it could mean a difficult passage. In real terms, energy costs remain fairly low. They may have to reach much higher -- as much as $100 on some accounts -- before they produce a counteraction in new energy sources and more efficient use.
(30 June 2005)


Some long-haul worries about fuel
Increasing cost of diesel has attention of truckers

Adeel Iqbal, Houston Chronicle
George Hadley has been making ends meet by driving his freight truck for the past 11 years, but he says he has had to cut back any extra expenditures on his home and family now that diesel fuel prices are on the rise.

For one thing, he has cut off his cable TV.

In the past four months, Hadley reduced his personal and living costs by 10 to 15 percent. The 81 cents to the mile he and a partner make is no longer cutting it.

...Ultimately, Petersen [who works for Waggoners Trucking] said, costs are going to be transferred to freight customers.

"If fuel prices are going to keep going up and up and up — which they are — then your rates are going to go up, or you're going to have to cut somewhere," he said.

"Trucks have got to move. If they don't, then people can't get their bread, their lettuce. Anything and everything you own was on a truck at some point — guaranteed. The fuel price is going to hurt everybody."
(30 June 2005)
Great article that pulls together the personal, the local and the national effects of rising energy costs. -BA


Non-renewables

Greenpeace: Nuclear fusion project senseless stupidity

Greenpeace, press release
Greenpeace deplores the agreement by the Representatives of the Parties to the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) (1) to construct one of the world's largest nuclear fusion experiments in Cadarache, Southern France. The project, estimated to cost 10bn euros, will not generate any electricity, instead it will need massive amounts of energy to heat up.

"With 10 billion, we could build 10,000MW offshore windfarms, delivering electricity for 7.5 million European households," said Jan Vande Putte of Greenpeace International. Advocates of fusion research predict that the first commercial fusion electricity might be delivered in 50 to 80 years from now. But most likely, it will lead to a dead end, as the technical barriers to be overcome are enormous.

Today, the nuclear industry presents itself as the solution to climate change in a massive green-washing drive. Far from being a solution, the nuclear option stalls real action to combat dangerous climate change. It is taking away the money for real solutions that are ready and economically available at a large scale, such as wind energy.

Fusion energy - if it would ever operate - would create a serious waste problem, would emit large amounts of radioactive material and could be used to produce materials for nuclear weapons. A whole new set of nuclear risks would thus be created.

"Governments should not waste our money on a dangerous toy which will never deliver any useful energy," said Jan Vande Putte of Greenpeace International. Instead, they should invest in renewable energy which is abundantly available, not in 2080 but today"
(29 June 2005)


Is it safe to put LNG terminals in populated areas?
(AUDIO & TRANSCRIPT)
Kéllia Ramares, Global Public Media
Is it safe to put LNG terminals in populated areas? In looking at this issue, it is important to note the difference between hazards and risks. A hazard is something that can go wrong with a project. A risk is the probability that the hazard will occur. Then there is a third factor: acceptability of risk, in other words: are the benefits of a project worth the risks of the project’s hazards?
(30 June 2005)


Carbon Dioxide for Sale

Peter Fairley, Technology Review
...Policymakers are increasingly looking to [Dakota Gasification's] technology as the potential key to clean domestic power in the future. The Bush administration has advanced coal gasification and underground storage of greenhouse gases as a long-term solution to a long-term problem. The U.S. Department of Energy is championing a 10-year R&D program, dubbed FutureGen, that is aimed at perfecting a task that Dakota is currently accomplishing with technology that dates from the 1970s.

...Gasification is again in the spotlight, and not just because of its ability to store away greenhouse gases. Today's record-high natural-gas prices show no signs of slipping, despite record levels of gas exploration in North America. And the technology is improving. Dozens of gasification plants have been built since 1984--most of which turn coal-derived syngas into ammonia fertilizers--and their cutting-edge power equipment costs less to build and operate than Dakota's. Major suppliers of the equipment, like General Electric, are taking orders for more. Dakota was not only lucky in its decades-long struggle to prove the viability of coal gasification, it was also right.
(30 June 2005)
Technology Review is associated with the Mass. Institute of Technology (MIT).

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