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Peak Oil

Says No to China Oil Deal

Maura Reynolds, LA Times

Voicing concern about national security and the U.S. economy, the House of Representatives passed two measures Thursday aimed at blocking the proposed takeover of El Segundo-based Unocal Corp. by a Chinese oil company.

In a strong bipartisan vote of 333 to 92, the House approved an amendment to a Treasury Department spending bill forbidding the administration from using federal funds to approve the bid by CNOOC Ltd., an arm of government-owned China National Offshore Oil Corp., to buy Unocal for $18.5 billion.
(1 July 2005)

Theft of gas rises as price goes up

William M. Welch, USA TODAY
Thefts of fuel from service stations are rising with the price of gasoline, and states are cracking down with stiffer penalties for pump-and-run pirates.

As the average price of a gallon of regular gas, $2.21, stands near record levels this holiday weekend, gas station owners say thefts are soaring. In response, at least 10 states have stiffened penalties this year or are considering it.

“Our drive-offs are up probably 100%” this year, says Jeff Miller of Norfolk, Va., president of a company that operates 88 gas stations and convenience stores selling gas. “We’re on track to lose about a quarter of a million dollars” in 2005.
(1 July 2005)

“Peak Land” and Sardines

The USA hit the milestone of “peak oil” around 1970.
Less well known but just as significantly, our nation reached “peak land” in 1810. This rather contrived concept describes the maximum average amount of land “owned” per citizen over time. For nearly two centuries, we have ridden the tail downward. Each successive year, the average citizen owns less and less land as the pie gets subdivided among a greater population base (from a maximum of 150 acres per person to less than 8 today). I graphed the following from census data.
(1 July 2005)

Dreaming of ‘controlled’ thermo-nuclear fusion – The ITER project and Peak Oil

Andrew McKillop, VHeadline
“Press and media comment on the ITER project has ‘generously’ included interviews with the well-paid scientific researchers who will staff the centre when it is built. These scientists, being aware and concerned about the economy, have not failed to explain that “We are close to the end of oil,” and therefore it is up to us, now, to start research into providing cheap energy for our descendants. Such asinine comments, which are well-coordinated and produced, using the same graphics and charts, are never completed with the real world facts and figures concerning ‘Our electrical salvation.'”
(29 June 2005)


‘Clean energy’ power station?

Big Gav, Peak Energy (Australia)
Questions about the “clean energy” power plant reported by the BBC yesterday. (Shouldn’t the BBC reporters be asking some of these questions?)
(2 July 2005)

Some long-haul worries about diesel

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. …
The nation’s average on-highway diesel fuel prices hit a record $2.34 per gallon this week, according to U.S. Department of Energy data released Wednesday. While fuel surcharges are the norm, trucking companies have struggled to keep up with an average price that is 64 cents higher per gallon than a year ago and is still climbing. …
“If you want diesel prices to go down, you’ve got to slow down the economy,” he (Bill O’Grady, director of futures research at AG Edwards & Sons) said.
(30 June 2005)

Oil Is Where You Find It

Byron King, The Daily Reckoning
Despite its proximity to the industrially developed regions of Canada, and certainly to the vast markets of the United States, exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence region is still at a “frontier” stage. It is not overstating the case to say that the biggest and best of the oil and gas prospects in this region are still waiting to be explored and drilled.
The good old days of just drilling the “bumps” are over. But just as in the days of Col. Drake, the oil and gas is out there somewhere. Somebody has to look in all the right places, drill a hole in the ground, and set up a well. If you have not figured it out yet, discovering and producing hydrocarbons on the back end of Hubbert’s Peak is going to be a lot harder than it was in the first half of the ride. And it has never been easy. You can lose your shirt.
Where in this world of ours is another oil boom in the making? You could do worse than to keep an eye on the Maritime Provinces of eastern Canada.
And who, figuratively at least, are the next Col. Drakes of the coming oil boom in eastern Canada? There are a number of oil-exploration firms heavily involved in the Anticosti and Magdalen basins. They have been conducting seismic work, performing ground mapping, leasing up the best acreage of prime oil patch, and drilling test holes “out yonder, where the wildcats live,” to coin a phrase. When the big-time drilling starts in the next few years, you will either be in on the action or on the outside looking in
(30 June 2005)

Pipeline protesters call for Shell boycott

Ireland On-Line
Five men jailed for their opposition to a gas pipeline today called for a public boycott of all petrol stations owned by Shell and Statoil.

The men, farmers Willie Corduff, Philip McGrath and Brendan Philbin, and retired school teachers, Vincent McGrath and Michael O’Suighin, spent last night in prison after refusing to give assurances to the High Court in Dublin they would not obstruct the construction of the pipeline for the €990m Corrib gas project in Mayo.

At a news conference hosted by their families, the men released a statement in which they claimed the people of North Mayo were being used as guinea pigs.
(30 June 2005)

‘Security Cooperation’ Bill Includes Mexican Oil Production Measure

Stephen Peacock, Narcosphere
The U.S. House of Representatives last week forwarded to several congressional committees a bill (H.R. 2672) known as the North American Cooperative Security Act, legislation that, in the words of its original cosponsors, seeks to establish “a framework for better management, communication, and coordination between the governments” of Canada, Mexico, and the United States.

Among its many provisions is a vague proposal to increase information sharing among the three nations; a slightly more detailed proposal to develop “national” biometric databases to track suspected terrorists, smugglers, and illegal aliens; and the suggestion to identify opportunities “to increase cooperation” in the detection of smuggled nuclear and radioactive materials.

Upon closer inspection of the bill is a segment focusing on a “security” issue that deviates from the usual terrorist/alien/smuggler concerns. That issue involves oil production.. Specifically, it is a plan to increase the level of oil drilling – and foreign investment – in Mexico exclusively.
(13 June 2005)

Energy cold war is on – China and India race to acquire PetroKazakhstan

Surjit Singh, India Daily
The fight for owning oil and gas resources is on between America, India and China. These three countries in the world are in need of huge energy especially crude oil and natural gas while they produce less than 50% of they need.

China National Petroleum Corporation, Sinopec and India’s Oil and Natural Gas Corporation were expected to make bids for PetroKazakhstan, the Canada-based oil producer, by Thursday’s deadline.
(30 June 2005)

India, Turkey to set up joint hydrocarbon sector working group

Staff/agency, (India)
New Delhi: India and Turkey have decided to set up a joint working group for the hydrocarbon sector. This will be set up within the framework of the joint commission constituted by the two countries.

Announcing this, the Petroleum Minister, Mani Shankar Aiyar, told presspersons here that the joint working group would be reporting to the joint commission. The Minister of Commerce and Industry, Kamal Nath, and the Turkish Minister for Energy and Natural Resources, Helmie Guler, are the members of the joint commission.

The two countries have decided to work together for acquiring stakes in third countries oilfields. Aiyar is leading a business delegation to Turkey and Romania. The visit gains special significance since Turkey is the gateway to West Asia, Caspian oil and Central Asia natural gas, generally regarded as the future energy reserves of the world.

Talking about Indian investments in Turkey, the Ministry said that, Indian Oil Corporation would be bidding for some state-owned refineries in Turkey including Tupras refinery. Meanwhile, the Indian Government has invited the Turkish equivalent of ONGC to invest in India. India would also be looking at third party investments together with the Turkish company.
(3 July 2005)

Driven by energy shortages, China races to expand nuclear power industry

Associated Press, The Star (Malaysia)
QINSHAN, China (AP) – The shadows of Chernobyl and Three Mile Island no longer reach to the pine-crested hillsides of Hangzhou Bay, where China is rushing to expanding a nuclear power station to meet soaring demand for electricity for its economic boom.

Driven by crushing fuel shortages, smog and ambitions to profit from its hard-won nuclear prowess, Beijing has embarked on a quest to more than double its nuclear power generating capacity by 2020.

The push for more nuclear power means opportunities for U.S., French and Russian technology suppliers that are competing for up to US$8 billion (euro6.6 billion) in contracts for two new nuclear power plants _ the biggest deals in years for the industry.
(3 July 2005)

Politics and Economics

Energy Adviser Who Solicited Enron to Help Write Nat’l Energy Policy to Be Named Chair of FERC

Jason Leopold, Common Dreams
The audacity inside the Bush administration never ceases to amaze.

The latest example of chutzpah from Bush and co. is the announcement that Joseph Kelliher, a former policy adviser with the Department of Energy who currently serves as a commissioner on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the agency that controls the country’s natural gas industry, hydroelectric projects, electric utilities, and oil pipelines and has played a critical role in the deregulation of those industries, will be named by the White House Thursday to chair FERC.

President Bush had previously picked Rebecca Klein, the former Republican head of the Texas Public Utilities Commission and a close friend of the president, to chair FERC but red flags were raised recently during a routine FBI background check on Klein which forced the president to choose a new chairman at the last minute. The White House would not comment on the FBI’s probe on Klein. Klein did not return numerous calls for comment.

Still, news of Kelliher’s appointment to chair FERC came late Wednesday as a welcome surprise to many industry lobbyists and energy executives who view him as a staunch supporter of the free-market principles of deregulation and an advocate for eliminating regulatory restrictions that interferes with the free-market, despite the fact those rules are in place to protect consumers from energy price gouging and market manipulation that took place prior to the Enron scandal four years ago and, to some extent, is still somewhat routine in various parts of the country.

However, what’s most troubling about Kelliher’s appointment to head FERC, a role in which his main priority will now be to protect consumers from the manipulative tactics of the very industry he enjoys a cozy relationship with, is the relentless lobbying of bigwigs in the energy industry in early 2001, as a member of Vice President Dick Cheney’s energy task force, to help write President Bush’s National Energy Policy in such a way that would be financially beneficial to energy corporations—at the expense of consumers.
(2 July 2005)

Japan and China face off over energy

Yomiuri Shimbun via Asia Times
Republished with permission from Japan Focus)
Note: This report is a condensed version of a series featured in the Yomiuri Shimbun, highlighting Japan’s resource anxieties in the context of rising China-Japan tensions over issues that include the struggle for scarce oil and other natural resources and the voracious quest for energy by Japan’s rapidly growing neighbor. The conflict is set within a global milieu in which oil prices are soaring above US$60 a barrel, the consumption of China, India, the US and a number of other powers continues to rise, and nations seek to secure access to oil and national gas supplies that show strong signs of reaching a tipping point at which demand exceeds supply.
Planning national strategies

Countries around the world are competing for natural resources. A dispute over maritime resources in the East China Sea, for example, is one of the reasons anti-Japanese demonstrators in China have criticized Japan. Japan, which relies on other countries for most natural resources, is now thinking seriously about the changes taking place.
The East China Sea is now called the “sea of conflict”. While China is exploring natural gas fields near the Japan-China median line in the East China Sea, Japan has asked Beijing to suspend exploration on the grounds that marine resources on the Japanese side could be accessed by China.
(2 July 2005)
The article originally appeared on Japan Focus

Energy ration cards for everyone planned in UK

Charles Clover, Telegraph
Every individual in Britain could be issued with a “personal carbon allowance” – a form of energy rationing – within a decade, under proposals being considered seriously by the Government. Ministers say that increasingly clear evidence that climate change is happening more quickly than expected has made it necessary to “think the unthinkable”.

Elliot Morley: ‘We should have an open mind’ They believe they need to start a public debate on energy rationing now if Tony Blair’s aspiration of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by two thirds by 2050 is to be achieved.

Under the scheme for “domestic tradeable quotas” (DTQs), or personal carbon allowances, presented to the Treasury this week, everyone – from the Queen to the poorest people living on state benefits – would have the same annual carbon allocation. This would be contained electronically on a “ration card”, which could be the proposed ID card or a “carbon card” based on supermarket loyalty cards.

It would have to be handed over every time a form of non-renewable energy was purchased – at the filling station, or when buying tickets for a flight – for points to be deducted. High users of energy would have to purchase points from low users, or from a central “carbon bank”, if they wanted to use more energy.
(2 July 2005)

Asians drive slower, shed ties to curb $60 oil hit

Staff, Daily Times
SEOUL: Asian nations are scrambling to curb energy use as oil hits $60, but a resilient US economy and subsidised prices at home mean these marginal measures will scarcely dent demand, analysts say.
Tieless Japanese bureacrats, slower Thai drivers and overheated Chinese shoppers may help save a barrel or two of oil or a megawatts of power, but they will not reverse the region’s powerful energy growth, which last year accounted for nearly half of global incremental oil demand.

“Overall, it’s doubtful whether they will have a significant effect in the absence of compulsory measures and a lack of voluntary moves,” said Moon Young-seok, an economist at state-funded Korea Energy Economics Institute (KEEI). The Asia Pacific region consumes nearly 30 percent of the world’s oil but produces only 10 percent, making it more vulnerable than other areas to rising costs. …
(3 July 2005)