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Peak Oil

Facing our energy predicament

Jim Morgan, Summit Daily News (US)
Steve Andrews’ business card says “consultant … focus on energy issues.” Perhaps “worrywart” might be a better word than consultant. …

“To help accelerate change in the face of this looming peaking in world oil, individuals can reinvent their buying patterns. They should place a premium on efficiency and durability in everything they buy, especially when making large purchases, and most particularly when buying cars. Tell dealers to call when and only when they have a more efficient vehicle that will provide the required transportation service.

Next, individuals can learn enough about our emerging new energy paradigm to challenge their elected officials to change ingrained habits. Changing the process takes time; the best chances for near-term change are at the local, regional and state levels. But without a mutual education process, elected officials will continue coming up with yesterday’s solutions to tomorrow’s problems – a match that simply won’t get the job done. …

Peak oil may lead to a heavy revision of the real-estate mantra “location, location, location.” Given the looming reality of peak oil, personally I have sincere regrets about building a highly-efficient, off-grid house at nearly 10,000 feet, about 14 miles from the nearest town; I built an award-winning home in a non-sustainable location.”
(2 July 2005)

Why We Need $60/Barrel Oil – Update

Andrew McKillop, Financial Sense Online
… (W)e are entering a new context, in which oil price rises are virtually certain, if there is no quick-acting and deep economic recession at the world-wide level. And we have the proof, on a daily base, that despite the somber warnings of ‘recession due to high oil prices’ current oil price levels, now evolving towards the 60 – 70 USD/bbl range, have done less than nothing to curb world oil demand. In fact the exact opposite.

High oil and energy prices quickly raise world solvent demand through increasing revenues from production and export of ‘real resource’ commodities (energy, metals, minerals and agrocommodities) by mostly low, or very low income countries. …
(2 July 2005)

Can Democracy Survive Without Fossil Fuels?

Resource Insights blog
Is it an accident that the great modern revolutions, both American and French, occurred shortly after James Watt vastly increased the efficiency of the steam engine? Recall that the steam engine’s primary purpose at the time was to pump water out of coal mines. Its perfection ignited an industrial revolution built on fossil fuels. Those fuels also indirectly ignited huge social and political changes that included modern demands for greater equality and democracy. Can those values thrive without fossil fuels?

Ancient Athens was democratic long before fossil fuels were discovered. In reality, democracy depends on some energy source that makes it possible for citizens to have the time to govern themselves. The citizenry must also enjoy a rough equality that doesn’t put some citizens so far above others as to threaten their solidarity. So, what was that energy source? Slaves. …
(29 July 2005)

Rail woes may bring US power summer of discontent

Steve James, Reuters
Nobody is talking about blackouts just yet, but a long, hot summer combined with railroad disruptions could spell disaster for U.S. coal-burning power plants.

With the steamiest days of the year still to come and with repairs on the rail track serving the coal mines of the Powder River Basin in Wyoming and Montana, some energy industry insiders warn that utilities could run low on fuel as demand for electricity to power air-conditioners hits its peak.

This at a time when many utilities had already let their stocks run down as prices rose. Some inventories are dangerously low — in some cases only 10 or 15 days supply, coal industry experts say. …
(1 July 2005)

Want trumps need in ’05 energy crisis

Roger Mezger, Cleveland Plain Dealer (US)
It is February 1974. Grown men strut about in plaid polyester pants that flare over high-heeled boots. Lawmakers take the first steps toward impeaching President Nixon. Cher dumps Sonny.

Worst of all, with gasoline selling for the outrageously high price of 50 cents a gallon, Americans are coping with an energy crisis.

Like millions of others, Joseph and Sally Miller of Akron decide they can no longer subsidize their gas-guzzlers. Sally parks her Cadillac and rides the bus to her teaching job. Joseph, a lawyer, abandons his Buick Riviera for two high-mileage Honda Civics. One, he explains, will shuttle clients to court if they cannot afford to fill their own tanks. …
(3 July 2005)

Are the Desert Kingdom’s foundations built on sand?

Heather Stewart, The Observer
Saudi Arabia is running out of oil reserves, and we should put ourselves on a ‘war footing’ to prepare for a future without the black gold, according to a new book by Texan oil banker Matt Simmons.

In Twilight in the Desert, which will be published in the UK later this week, Simmons argues that the Saudis have dramatically overestimated their potential future production, which he believes could peak – and begin to plummet – within a few years. ‘Saudi Arabia really is at high risk of a production collapse,’ he warns. …
‘The bottom line is that I still think that $60-a-barrel oil is a remarkable bargain,’ he says. ‘We need a pricing committee to start taking a “cold shower” look at what the real value is. My guess is that will be somewhere between $250 and $400.
‘The sooner oil users begin understanding what the real long-term cost of oil has to be, the easier it will be for everyone to cope with fast-rising prices for the world’s highest-volume and most expensive commodity.’
(3 July 2005)


New Study: Ethanol Not a Sustainable Path to Petroleum Independence

Staff, GreenCarCongress
A new study of CO2 emissions, cropland area requirements, and other environmental consequences of corn- and sugarcane- ethanol production in the US and Brazil concludes that despite the net energy and CO2 benefits offered by the fuel, using ethanol as a full substitute for gasoline is neither sustainable nor environmentally friendly once the ecological footprint values are factored in.

The researchers also concluded, however, that as part of a diverse energy and fuel portfolio of alternatives to petroleum, “ the ethanol option probably should not be wholly disregarded.”

The paper, “Ethanol as Fuel: Energy, Carbon Dioxide Balances, and Ecological Footprint,” is to be published in the July 2005 issue of BioScience, the journal of the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS).
(1 July 2005)
Many of the figures from the paper are available on GCC

Save 18c a litre in battle of the bowsers

Staff, The Sunday Telegraph
A PETROL price war saving customers up to 18c a litre has begun as small businesses try to lure customers away from major retailers.

Businesses ranging from home lenders to chemists, independent supermarkets and service stations are launching discount fuel offers designed to attract motorists struggling to cope with record petrol prices.

As supermarket giant Coles Myer upgrades its discount scheme from 4c to 8c a litre, a variety of discount offers is about to enter the market.

They have the potential to save the average family more than $500 a year.

From tomorrow, the Service Station Association, which represents independent stations, will run its own discount scheme offering 4c a litre to motorists making non-fuel purchases.
(3 July 2005)
Of interest for example of how oil price competition is increasing pressure on retailers and forcing innovation.

World’s First Purpose-Built Fuel Cell Motorbike Makes North American Debut

PEB, H2Cars.Biz
Intelligent Energy has unveiled the world’s first purpose-built fuel cell motorbike, ENV (Emissions Neutral Vehicle), at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood, Calif. This sleek-looking, hydrogen-powered motorbike is the first designed specifically with fuel cell technology in mind. The result is an innovative motorbike that emits only water vapors, making it an almost silent and completely nonpolluting vehicle.
ENV, pronounced “envy,” was engineered and purpose-built from the ground up, utilizing Intelligent Energy’s world-renowned CORE, a radically compact and efficient fuel cell, in order to demonstrate the everyday applicability of fuel cell technology. The CORE is detachable from the bike and is capable of powering anything from an ATV or a personal watercraft, to a small home.
(20 June 2005)
In order to be emissions neutral (as claimed), wouldn’t the bike need to sequester at least some CO2, in order to counter the emissions create during the manufacture of the bike? Similarly, the claim of ‘completely nonpollluting’ isn’t supported by any information on manufacturing processses, which must be truly unique to satisfy such a claim. – LJ

Politics and Economics

Experts predict energy crisis in Ukraine, removal of PM in autumn

Staff, ITAR-Tass
KIEV — Ukrainian experts predict an energy crisis in the country and the subsequent dismissal of Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko this autumn.

Experts from the Centre for Corporate Relations Studies on Monday presented their report based on sociological polls among 145 high-ranking government officials, parliamentarians, businessmen, and representatives of large companies conducted on June 14-25.

According to the reports, 53 percent of respondents believe that relations between Ukraine and Russia deteriorated in the last three months, about 33 percent saw no changes in bilateral relations, and more than 13 percent were undecided.

One-third of those polled expect an energy crisis in Ukraine due to “a breach of relations with partners”, “growing world prices”, including for Russian natural gas, mistakes in economic management, and the absence of a programme for the development of the coal industry.
(4 July 2005)
Interesting that the future of this supposedly healthy democracy is being predicted from a small survey of elites by the “Centre for Corporate Relations Studies”.

Leaving no oil source untapped

Wing-Gar Cheng, Bloomberg/IHT
BEIJING Zhao Zhongmin, a farmer in the northern Chinese province of Shaanxi, used to sell oil pumped from beneath his cornfield to a local refinery. That ended when the government reclaimed the village’s oil wells to ease China’s energy shortage.

“They all belong to the government now,” said Zhao, pointing to bright orange drilling equipment visible amid heads of corn on his field. “The government wants the oil.” Reclaiming the Shaanxi wells is part of China’s push to maximize domestic oil resources as it struggles to meet rising energy demand without adding to a swelling import bill. …
The government is enlisting outside help. Shell, Europe’s No. 2 oil company, agreed to invest in a Chinese venture that will extract oil from shale rock in the northeastern province of Jilin, the Commerce Ministry said in January. “There is potential in the longer term these deposits could contribute to meeting the country’s energy needs,” Nick Wood [Beijing-based Shell spokesman] said, adding that the value of Shell’s investment had not been determined yet. …
(5 July 2005)

Iraq tallies $11.4 billion in lost oil revenue

AUTHOR, Associated Press, MSNBC
BAGHDAD, Iraq – Iraq has lost about $11.4 billion due to damage to oil sector infrastructure and lost revenue since petroleum exports resumed after the U.S.-led invasion two years ago, an Iraqi oil ministry spokesman said Sunday.

Assem Jihad told Dow Jones Newswires that there had been 300 acts of sabotage against Iraqi oil installations between June 2003 when Iraq resumed exports and May 31. He said 70 acts of sabotage took place in the first five months of 2005.

Jihad said most of the sabotage took place in the northern oil installations preventing the country from exporting around 400,000 barrels a day from its northern oil fields to the Turkish port of Ceyhan. …
(3 July 2005)

Russia to help China oust the USA from Eurasia

Staff, Pravda
The rapidly developing economy of China pushes the country to search for sources of raw materials and sales markets abroad. The USA is China’s major obstacle in this respect.

China and the USA have been sharing their spheres of influence since 1979, when a semi-secret US-Chinese agreement about the strategic coordination was brought to light after Dang Xiaoping’s visit in Washington (the USA prefers to keep the document a secret). The significance of the agreement could be compared to protocols to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Treaty.

Bill Clinton prolonged the agreement in 1999. China has been consistently asking the USA to withdraw its presence from Eurasia. The USA, however, believes that it can refer to Russia and the entire post-Soviet space as its catch. …
(2 July 2005)