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Peak Oil

Powering the Planet: Where in the World Will Our Energy Come From?
Nathan Lewis, California Institute of Technology (Caltech)
In a Watson lecture, Nate Lewis, Argyros Professor and professor of chemistry at Caltech, discussed what it would take for the world to turn away from fossil fuels and switch over to renewable energy. He outlined the hurdles that must be overcome in order to power the planet with abundant, clean, inexpensive energy in the 21st century. 67 minutes
(25 May 2005)
We’re told that Nathan Lewis buys into the the more optimistic projections of the world’s international energy agencies regarding oil reserves. However, the perspective on renewables is supposed to be a real ‘eye opener.’ After seeing the first 40 minutes, I would have to agree with the recommendations — it’s good stuff, very dense. Lewis does not see an immediate problem with fossil fuel depletion, but instead focuses on the need to get develop carbon-neutral sources of energy in order to deal with global warming. Lewis has a webpage devoted to the talk, with a summary and downloadable transcript and slides. -AF and BA.

Bush: Kyoto treaty would have hurt economy
President condemns climate change treaty, dependence on Middle East oil

Associated Press via MSNBC
COPENHAGEN, Denmark – U.S. President George W. Bush said in a Danish TV interview aired Thursday that adhering to the Kyoto treaty on climate change would have “wrecked” the U.S. economy, and called U.S. dependence on Middle East oil a national security problem.

“We’re hooked on oil from the Middle East, which is a national security problem and an economic security problem,” Bush said in the interview with the Danish Broadcasting Corp. recorded Wednesday at the White House. Bush is to visit Denmark next week before going to a G-8 summit in Scotland
(30 June 2005)

Somebody spiked the punch

Jon S., Peak Energy
The ramifications of Peak Oil are absurd.

This explains much of the knee-jerk criticism to the well-established model of Peak Oil. It doesn’t mesh with our world as it has been experienced. People don’t have a cognitive frame of reference for “running out of oil”; it has never happened before. (As Jay Hanson pointed out.)

People in the U.S. can tell you what to expect if kidnapped by aliens (they’ll probe yeranus), but would have no idea what to expect if Iran blockaded oil traffic in the Gulf, using their cruise missile capacity. (Where are the frosted flakes???)

Adding to a general lack of knowledge is the angry criticism directed at individuals who stray towards negative scenarios. My sense of self does not include a tin-foil hat, but an outside observer might perceive one nestled on my hairy pate.
(1 July 2005)
With his tin-foil hat in place, Jon S. enters the competition for funniest angry P.O. prophet. Ahead of the pack, of course, is James Kunstler, but with Mark Morford in contention. (Morford interview)

Review: “Beyond Oil” by Kenneth Deffeyes

apsmith, Science News Forum (Sciscoop)
…Deffeyes has a new book out: Beyond Oil: The view from Hubbert’s peak. Read on for my review.

While studded with gems of information and insight, overall I found this book somewhat disappointing. As a former colleague of M. King Hubbert at Shell, geologist Kenneth Deffeyes gives an excellent account of the theory behind “Peak Oil” – in particular the compelling straight-line plots comparing current to cumulative production that are the surest foundation of the predictions. Deffeyes derives from these plots that the effective peak in oil production will be within one month of November, 2005.

But the insight after that point seems lacking – what does the peak actually mean, why does the decline happen?
(1 July 2005)

Bridging the Gap: Alternatives to Petroleum (Peak Oil, Part II

Ryan McGreal, Raise the Hammer
Oil’s three unique properties, combined with its sheer abundance, mean it’s unlikely any alternative, or combination of alternatives, can replace oil and allow our economy to continue its current course indefinitely

This is Part 2 of a three part series on oil peak production and its implications for Hamilton’s future development. Part 1 provided an overview of the “peak oil” theory; Part 2 explores the unique properties of oil and the limitations of possible replacements; and Part 3 will examine what cities can do to plan and prepare for the future.
(1 July 2005)

New Spanish-language edition of Oilcast

The Oil news and analysis broadcasters have launched the first Oilcast en Español.
Following the success of the English language Oilcasts, have moved to service the global Spanish language market. is currently in talks with traditional radio broadcasters and other energy-related publications to syndicate its material.

Oilcast en Español: Iniciamos una nueva serie de Oilcasts, esta vez en español, a cargo de Dani Gómez. En este primer Oilcast en Español, además de presentar el proyecto, Dani habla sobre las locas oscilaciones de los precios del crudo y que cabe esperar de estos. Además, echa un vistazo a la crisis energética en Centro América y el Caribe, las declaraciones de Claude Mandil de la AIE, noticias del ITER, etc.
(1 July 2005)

Shell escapes charges over reserves reporting

Mark Tran, The Guardian
Shell escaped criminal charges in the US today after a federal prosecutor decided that bringing the Anglo-Dutch oil giant to court over last year’s reserves scandal would not be in the public interest.

US lawyer David Kelley said yesterday that the world’s third-largest publicly traded oil company had cooperated with an investigation after admitting to an overstatement of its proven oil and natural gas reserves by 4.47bn barrels, or about 23%, from 1997 to 2002.
(30 June 2005)

Emergence of active citizenry prior to petrocollapse?

Jan Lundberg, Culture Change #102
If I have my finger on the political pulse of the nation right now, my sense of things is not centered around the plummeting popularity of George W. Bush. Rather, it is more the news from the sometimes arrogant U.S. Supreme Court that has been so illuminating. The Senate can act blatantly elitist as well, and such behavior exposes not only the fatal flaws of government but some fundamental contradictions of our society.

I am convinced, partly from occasional newspaper headlines, that there must be a reaction brewing at street level and in even in suburban McMansions: freedoms and decency are being stolen, while the people are expected to take it on the chin. At some point people do not wait for the next election, only to be fooled again. No, by god, they start depaving their driveways, planting gardens, riding bikes, and just saying no to corporate globalization. Or something less logical, at first?
(1 July 2005? – no date)
The original article has instructions on how to access a June 29 audio interview with Jan Lundberg.

Global Manipulators Move Beyond Petroleum

Susan Bryce, New Dawn No. 63
The Saudis have a saying “My father rode a camel, I drive a car, my son rides in a jet airplane – his son will ride a camel.”

…. If you listen to the propaganda, the oil and car companies are just responding to ‘consumer demand’ for environmentally friendly alternatives. But how many car owners have you heard lately demanding ‘clean and green fuel’? How many car owners do you know that are demanding cars that run on hydrogen fuel cells? Only a decade ago, inventors that said cars could run on hydrogen fuel cells were laughed out of town!

Has climate change spooked the major fossil fuel polluters into doing something positive for the environment? Do the oil companies want to capture a bigger slice of the energy market, hence their interest in renewables? Have they suddenly decided to take ‘corporate responsibility’? The answer to all of the above is a cynical ‘yes’. But there is one other overriding factor which has forced the global oil companies to look ‘beyond petroleum’.

Oil is a finite resource. The cup that the world presumed to be running over with oil has been revealed to be half full. “Beyond Petroleum” signals the beginning of the end for hydrocarbon man. We are entering the post-petroleum world.
(November-December 2000)
Contributor ldcdnd describes this essay as: “a bit of peak oil history.” Note that it was written almost five years ago!


“Is Natural Gas Peaking?”
David Appell , Technology Review (associated with MIT)
“David Appell has a discussion starting on at the Technology Review site,” according to EB reader Rajiv.
(30 June 2005)

Politics and Economics

Capitol Hill uproar could sink proposed Chinese takeover of Unocal Corp.
Brian Stempeck, E&ETV
As China’s demand for energy soars, a state-owned Chinese oil company is trying to buy Unocal for $18.5 billion. But members of Congress say the deal raises serious national security concerns and want the White House to intervene. Is the takeover going to happen or will the Treasury Department nix the plan? How could this affect U.S. energy supplies? And what does this controversy say about the state of relations between China and the United States?

Alan Hegburg, senior fellow with the Center for Strategic and International Studies and Patrick Mulloy, a commissioner with the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, discuss the contentious proposal.
(1 July 2005)

Many Oil Experts Unconcerned Over China Unocal Bid

Paul Blustein, Washington Post
The Chinese are coming — for a U.S. oil company. So should Americans worry, or shrug?
(1 July 2005)

Can we have a little reality, please?

“Heading out,” The Oil Drum
…there is one statement that I suspect is widely accepted, which while presently true may yet, in the near future, radically change. This is the idea that oil is fungible.

In other words it is a commodity where the resource goes into one global market and individual volumes are sold to the highest bidder. It is an assumption that appears in a number of discussions, and is currently relevant since it addresses some of the issues that are tied up in the bid of the Chinese National Offshore Oil Corp’s (CNOOC) bid for Unocal.

…We have seen in the past where countries in the Middle East have cut off oil to specific countries. What we may see in the future is that the production from certain countries or regions may be either politically or economically directed toward selected countries. There is a move afoot to do this in South America at present, with Venezuela promising to make supplies available at a lower cost to its neighbors.
(29 June 2005)

Foreign Suitors Nothing New in U.S. Oil Patch

Alexei Barrionuevo, NY Times
Members of Congress opposed to a Chinese bid to take over the California-based energy company Unocal built broader support yesterday for their campaign to block the deal on the ground that it could threaten national and energy security in the United States.

But China is not the first foreign country to seek American energy assets. Indeed, oil industry analysts say that the effort by the China National Offshore Oil Corporation to outbid Chevron for Unocal appears to pose less risk of generating domestic shortages or other energy-security headaches than other foreign acquisitions that have been approved by the government.

For more than two decades, the United States has not blocked acquisitions of energy properties by Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Russia, France, Norway and Brazil, among others.
(1 July 2005)