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Peak Oil

The Peak Oil Crisis: COG & Peak Oil

Tom Whipple, Falls Church News Press
In the Washington metropolitan area we have an organization called the Council of Governments. Known as “COG” to its intimates, the group attempts to coordinate the policies and actions of the 21 state and local governments that govern one piece or another of the region. Some of these governments are world famous, such as the nation’s capital. Others are rather large, such as Fairfax County with a million residents, and still others are village-sized.

The major function of the council is to study issues and make policy recommendations to its members that can be carried out in common. In peak oil circles, COG is remembered best as the folks who invented the odd-even system that linked license plate numbers with days of the month thereby cutting the gas lines in half during the gas shortages of the 70’s.

This week, COG held a public forum on the looming energy crisis entitled the “Impacts of High Gasoline Prices.” They certainly picked the right day, for as I left for the meeting, the price at my local station was $2.99; on the way home it had risen to $3.09.

For the discussion of gas prices, COG assembled a distinguished panel of economists and a senior analyst from the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA) to explain the origins of expensive gas and look at the implications for the regional economy.
(6-12 October 2005)

Back to the future: Peak-oil scenario fuels “go local” campaign

Kathryn Casa, Vermont Guardian
BRATTLEBORO — Good news! The world is fast approaching the end of its oil supplies. Their depletion will lead to a Malthusian catastrophe as oil-driven economies crash, petroleum-linked world food supplies shrink, transportation costs skyrocket, and industrialized urbanization reverses itself, sending people fleeing their SUV-dependent suburbs for a rural lifestyle.

It takes a real optimist to see opportunity in such a dire scenario. But, a handful of Windham County activists see the end of oil dependence as the beginning of a better way of life.

“I believe that there are tremendous opportunities embedded in this whole issue/crisis of peak oil,” said Brattleboro ecological engineer Tad Montgomery.

“I’m seeing a lot of people wake up. A lot of people who have wanted to implement alternatives for years or decades finally are saying this is the time to put up those solar panels or drive a biodiesel car. They’re insulating their homes, riding their bicycles, growing gardens, and preserving foods, finding self-reliance,” he said.
(7 October 2005)

Unraveling the Gas ‘Conspiracy’

Trevor Shaw, Raise the Hammer (Canada)
They are to blame. They are profiteering. They are gouging us. We need some price control. They have technology to allow us to stop using oil but they won’t let us have it.

Who are they? You have probably guessed it – oil companies. That’s right, the only industry in a free-market capitalist system not allowed to make a profit – at least from a consumers’ point of view.

I don’t hear anyone complain when Stelco posts a profit – Hamiltonians practically want to make it a national holiday.

The truth is there is no conspiracy, price-fixing, or gouging. Although there were a few gas retailers that made news headlines after Katrina and before Rita for charging what was perceived as excessive prices – welcome to capitalism.

The very word implies capitalizing on an opportunity and the system requires that people do. The same people that claimed “greed is good” in the yuppie late 1980s are now crying for regulation and making conspiracy accusations. The reason is that cheap gasoline is a sacred cow. You cannot mess with the people’s cheap gas.

Cheap gas and automobiles has been the great equalizer of North America. The road and highway networks are the result of the largest socialist program ever undertaken in North America: roads planned and built by the government with taxpayer’s money and shared by wealthy and poor alike.
(7 October 2005)

International Energy Agency Confronts “Peak Oil”: Part 1

Adam Porter, Resource Investor
PARIS ( — The International Energy Agency (IEA) report, “Resources to Reserves: Oil & Gas Technologies for the Energy Markets of the Future,” has broken step with other oil bodies by directly addressing the concerns of “peak oil” theorists.

In the introductory paragraph Claude Mandil, the IEA’s executive director, wasted no time in examining the subject.

He said, “soaring oil prices have again spotlighted the old question. Are we running out of oil? The doomsayers are again conveying grim messages through the front pages of major newspapers. ‘Peak oil’ is now part of the general public’s vocabulary, along with the notion that oil production may have peaked already, heralding a period of inevitable decline.”

Yet Mandil dismissed the idea that this situation is worrisome by stating, “the IEA has long maintained that none of this is a cause for concern.”

However not too far later on in the report, the IEA admits that most countries outside of OPEC “have passed their peaks in conventional oil production, or will do so shortly.”

They go on to paint a less than optimistic picture of future production in non-OPEC fields.
(3 October 2005)

International Energy Agency Confronts “Peak Oil”: Part II

Adam Porter, Resource Investor
Resource Investor has already featured the new International Energy Agency (IEA) report “Resources to Reserves.” The report took a long look at the ideas surrounding “peak oil” and concluded that “none of this is a cause for concern.”

But the report has drawn a stinging response the head of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil (ASPO) Colin Campbell, a former executive vice president of Total when talking exclusively to Resource Investor.

“It is an absolute masterpiece,” he stated. “ A masterpiece of telling the truth in such a selective manner so as to get the juxtapositions quite right. All in order to mislead and confuse the situation. After all the best way to lie is to tell the truth, just in a manner that creates a wholly false impression of what is actually going on.”

Campbell said the IEA’s report was really a way to protect its member governments.

“It’s basic thrust is to give the OECD countries governments a curtain behind which they can hide themselves,” he said.
(7 October 2005)

Will Oil Supplies Dry Up?

The Trumpet, The Philadelphia Church of God
Global oil demand is white-hot and getting hotter. Worrisome signs loom that supplies are peaking. What will happen when the long-feared oil crunch becomes reality?

Over the past seven years, the price of oil has skyrocketed.

For the first time ever, on August 29, crude oil prices on the New York Mercantile Exchange topped $70 per barrel. Only eight years ago, crude oil traded for just $10.50 per barrel. Goldman Sachs is predicting possible oil spikes to $80 over the short term and $105 over the long term.

Why are prices so high?

According to oil analyst Kenneth Deffeyes, “We are facing an unprecedented problem. World oil production has stopped growing; declines in production are about to begin. For the first time since the Industrial Revolution, the geological supply of an essential resource will not meet demand” (Beyond Oil, the View From Hubbert’s Peak).
(6 October 2005)
What’s unusual about this Peak Oil article is that it was published by The Philadelphia Church of God, a splinter group from Worldwide Church of God, the church started by Herbert W. Armstrong, the late religious broadcaster and journalist (the Plain Truth magazine had 8 million circulation in the late 80s). -BA

October ASPO Newsletter

Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas, Ireland
Each month, ASPO releases a newsletter which follows the latest peak oil related news and developments. The newsletter is written by Dr Colin Campbell of ASPO Ireland.

Articles In ASPO Newsletter 58 (October 2005)

* 607 The financial subtext of Conflict
* 608 Country Assessment – Qatar
* 609 Those with eyes could see it coming
* 610 The European Commission stirs.
* 611 France accepts Peak Oil
* 612 The wider significance of Hurricane Katrina
* 613 Reuters picks up the Peak Oil story
* 614 Control of pipeline routes
* 615 Reform or Decline
* 616 Another Oil Company Confesses
* 617 Four More Books
* 618 Britain considers cutting energy demand.
* 619 US Authority confirms Peak Oil
* 620 The IEA World Energy Outlook
* 621 The End of Cheap Oil
* 622 A new Peak Oil study from the Netherlands
* 623 Trend-lines
* 624 Revision of the Depletion Model
(October 2005)
Go to the original for links to individual articles or to a PDF of the entire newsletter.

Got Energy?

Mark Kiesel, PIMCO (investments)
At some point over the next several years, recognition of the coming energy crisis will reach critical mass-a “tipping point”-and when it does, the key competitive question investors will be asking countries and companies alike will be: Got energy?

That’s because energy is unlike any other commodity. Most commodities can be replaced: trees can be planted, food can be grown, consumer goods can be manufactured, and money can be printed. Those that can’t be replaced are often reusable, such as diamonds and gold. But energy is finite and irreplaceable. Once you use it, it’s gone.

So, when the tipping point comes and people fully grasp the magnitude of the impending energy crisis, those who don’t have energy will have to pay those who do. And perhaps pay dearly because, remember, there is a finite supply. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita illustrate how little room for error there is in today’s energy markets. However, the energy crisis itself is being caused by five long-term factors: (a) rising global demand, (b) changing consumer and investor preferences, (c) growing oil dependency, (d) under-investment, and (e) shrinking spare capacity.

For several years already, PIMCO has been bullish on the long-run prospects for the energy sector. Our portfolios have favored energy companies and selective emerging market countries based on our secular view that the price of energy should be supported by the
(October 2005)
Mentioned by Big Gav at Peak Energy (Australia) a long post with quotes and commentary. PIMCO is one of the big mutual fund groups, especially known for its legendary bond fund manager Bill Gross.

Greens call for inquiry into oil supply

AAP, Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)
The Greens have called for a senate inquiry into what they say is an inevitable collapse in oil supply.

Greens senator Christine Milne says an inquiry would be a first step towards addressing the challenges of an oil crisis.

“It’s clear to me on the day that the government is talking about global security and Australian security, that they should be talking about the intelligence failure to face up to the global oil crisis,” she told reporters.

“What we do know is that the day of cheap, plentiful oil are over and that what we can expect is a lesser supply and a higher price into the future.

“Nobody knows when peak oil will occur but we do know that is going to occur in the next couple of decades and there’s likely to be a steep decline.

“Australia must look at its security in terms of its transport options for the future.”
(5 October 2005)
Via Big Gav at Peak Energy (Australia)

M. King Hubbert

Ron Schuler’s Parlour Tricks
Geophysicist and mathematician M. King Hubbert was born on this day in 1903 in San Saba, Texas.

In 1956, M. King Hubbert, the head of Shell Oil’s research lab and a brilliant but cantankerous University of Chicago scientist, made a bold prediction that raised the ire of his powerful employer. Starting from the assumption that there is only so much oil in the ground, Hubbert designed a mathematical formula that could be used to chart the rate of consumption against the remaining reserves of any finite resource. The resulting curve, known as “Hubbert’s peak,” would roughly show the point in time at which the production of oil in the U.S. would peak and thereafter decline.
(5 October 2005)
Via Big Gav at Peak Energy (Australia)

Running on empty

Charlie Smith, Vancouver Straight
Two-and-a-half years back, author Richard Heinberg gave local residents a glimpse into the future. Heinberg, a California writer and instructor, had come to the Vancouver Planetarium for a panel discussion on energy. The price of oil was hovering at about US$25 per barrel, but he predicted a sharp increase before the end of the decade.

“At this point, we’re discovering about one barrel of oil for every three or four that is pumped and burned,” Heinberg said. “So, clearly, a production peak is inevitable at some point.”

This thin, middle-aged, and casually dressed intellectual seemed an unlikely prophet. Sure, he said all the right things. His car ran on biodiesel, which is a chemically altered vegetable oil. He also mentioned that he placed photovoltaic panels on his home’s roof to generate electricity from sunlight. But Heinberg was so unassuming, so cerebral, and so completely lacking in evangelistic fervour. He seemed hardly the type to trigger a cataclysmic change in the way people perceive the world around them.

But that evening at the planetarium, Heinberg had a profound impact on the audience. Two other panelists-UBC professor Bill Rees and Vancouver environmental philosopher Julian Darley-provided equally chilling commentaries. Rees noted that for more than 20 consecutive years, the world had consumed more oil than had been discovered. Darley, director of the Vancouver-based Post Carbon Institute, emphasized a looming crisis with natural gas.

“I call this the carbon chasm,” Darley told the audience.

Since that evening, the international price of oil has shot up by 160 percent. Vancouver motorists now routinely shell out $1.20 per litre of gasoline at the pump. The cost of natural gas has almost tripled.
(6 October 2005)

UTPB lecture series: Panel will discuss nation’s energy future

Mella McEwen, Midland Reporter Telegram (Texas)
Just how much crude oil and natural gas is left to be produced in the world?

Just what should the world’s next sources of energy be?

In these days of soaring energy costs and concerns about having enough supplies to meet the world’s thirst for energy, those questions have been increasingly asked and debated. A panel of experts will be discussing “Whatcha Gonna do When the Wells Run Dry? Energy, Economics and National Security” as part of UTPB’s John Ben Shepperd Leadership Institute Distinguished Lecture Series.

The event will be held in the University of Texas of the Permian Basin gymnasium on Thursday, October 6 beginning at 7:30 p.m. It is free and open to the public. Melissa Francis of the CNBC cable network will moderate a panel comprised of Dr. Kenneth Deffeyes, Dr. Amos Nur, Ambassador Thomas Graham Jr. and R. James Woolsey, a former director of the CIA.
(2 October 2005)
For more on the event, see next article.

Roundtable on energy, national security brings out experts

Ruth Campbell, Midland Reporter Telegram (Texas)
Like a mid-life crisis, fuel-hungry countries worldwide are beginning to panic that the oil supply is finite, said Amos Nur, a professor of geophysics at Stanford University.

Nur is one of several experts taking part in a panel discussion titled “Whatcha Gonna Do When the Wells Run Dry? Energy, Economics and National Security” Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in the University of Texas of the Permian Basin gym.

Melissa Francis, who covers energy and energy supply issues for CNBC, is the moderator.

“It’s kind of a moment of panic. The question is how are we going to handle it,” Nur said in a telephone interview. Without an investment from oil companies of 5 percent a year into finding sources of alternative fuel, “our panic will be justified,” he said.

Talk of alternative fuels is largely symbolic and there has never been any incentive or mechanism to conserve fossil fuels, Nur said.

R. James Woolsey and former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz have written a paper on America’s dependency on foreign oil and what can be done about it. It suggests the government encourage hybrid gasoline-electric vehicles, particularly battery developments needed to bring plug-in versions of the vehicles to market, and modern diesel technology.

They also suggest government encourage commercialization of cellulosic ethanol and biodiesel/renewable diesel.

“If even one of these technologies is moved promptly into the market, the reduction in oil dependence could be substantial. If several begin to be successfully introduced into large-scale use, the reduction could be stunning. For example, a 50 mph hybrid gasoline electric vehicle, on the road today, if constructed from carbon composites would achieve around 100 mpg É,” the paper said.

Along with Nur and Woosley, panelists include Kenneth Deffeyes and Thomas Graham Jr.

Nur, whose special interests include geophysical exploration, reservoir evaluation and geothermal resources, said he’s researched what to do about the finite oil supply for 10 years and given talks around the world on the subject.

In the early 1990s, the oil industry said the idea of a dwindling oil supply was far-fetched and there was no need for improved recovery of oil fields, he said.

“We’re heading toward a real difficult situation in the future when the rest of the world will begin to need more oil and demand more oil,” he said, adding this has been dismissed by Stanford economists and political scientists. He said the U.S. could find itself in conflict with China and India in the near future over oil consumption because of their growing appetite for the fuel.

Three signs of panic include the first Gulf War where the U.S. sent in 500,000 troops to free Kuwait, the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and the current war with Iraq, the consequence of American trying to make up the energy shortage here by importing oil, said Nur.

Instead of investing in alternative fuel sources, the U.S. went to foreign oil because it looked cheaper. “We haven’t really invested in alternative energy at all and now it’s biting us,” Nur said.
(5 October 2005)

Syriana: the next oil awareness movie

ianqui, The Oil Drum
Last night I saw a trailer for the movie Syriana. Much like The Deal and Oil Storm before it, Syriana is a movie in which bad things happen as a result of fuel shortages. Unlike those two movies, however, Syriana is a big budget Warner Brothers film starring George Clooney, Matt Damon, Jeffrey Wright, Chris Cooper and a bunch of other big names.

Perhaps more interesting than the movie itself is the fact that it’s affilated with a new movie production company called Participant Productions, which also brings us the website
(9 October 2005)