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Squeezing the last drop of oil

Steve Rosenbush, Business Week
Companies used to leave plenty of oil within wells and move on. Now technology is allowing adventurous outfits to get at what was once inaccessible

Until a few years ago, few oil companies bothered to extract every last drop from their fields. That might seem surprising, given the ever-rising price of what the theme song from TV’s Beverly Hillbillies so eloquently described as “Texas tea.”

Yet most oil wells still have a fair amount of life in them. That’s because it’s relatively easy to extract the first 20% or 30% of a field’s capacity. After that it becomes progressively more difficult and expensive to tap the remaining reserves. “That’s why for every barrel we produce, there are two more in the ground,” says Jeff Johnson, founder and CEO of Fort Worth (Tex.)-based Cano Petroleum (CFW).

…PEAK OIL. No one really knows just how much oil is left in the ground. Oil companies don’t worry about creating enough reserves to last more than a few decades, because they can’t plan their businesses that far in advance. “Oil companies are in the business of selling oil, not in the business of opening up reserves,” says Klaus Lackner, a professor at Columbia University’s Earth Institute.

But many people, Johnson included, believe that humanity has burned through roughly half of its oil reserves. This theory of “peak oil” suggests that a 200-year oil epoch is about half over, and that prices of oil will only rise from now on. Rising demand and dwindling reserves will keep prices well above the level that makes advanced drilling techniques worthwhile, Johnson says.
(30 January 2006)

Radio Ecoshock – net radio covers peak oil

Radio Ecoshock
Radio Ecoshock is a Net radio station that plays a lot of Peak Oil related audio programs. For example, today Radio Ecoshock had a one hour feature with Richard Heinberg (recorded by New Dimensions). Many of the Global Public Media peak oil speeches etc are also played regularly, and some material is available for download, See Audio on Demand, then “Energy”.

It’s free and commercial free, 24/7.
(20 January 2006)
Seems to have a lot of environment and climate change programs as well.

Oil Reserves discussed on Radio New Zealand
“Nine to Noon,” Radio New Zealand (via Global Public Radio)
Experts Jeremy Leggett, Otago University Geology Professor Richard Sibson and Mac Beggs talk with Anita McNaught about the future of oil supplies and how dwindling supply would affect New Zealand.
(26 January 2006)

The carbon economy (1st of 4+)

Stuart Staniford, The Oil Drum
One of my goals in my peak oil studies is to understand the whole system of planet+economy as best I can. I want to develop an informed opinion on what humanity’s options are as it faces these interlocking crises-in-the-making. That’s obviously an enormous task. The relevant disciplines include at least geology, petroleum engineering, economics, sociology, urban planning, international development, climatology, demography, political science, mining engineering, military strategy, archaeology, history, chemistry and chemical engineering, physics, statistics, biology, ecology, agricultural science, and electrical engineering. No-one can hope to master all these subjects to the point a specialist in them would know them.

And yet it seems to me that, while accepting this limitation, it’s worthwhile for a few generalists such as myself to attempt to try to understand the situation as deeply as possible in all aspects; it may be that new ideas and insights can only come from deeply integrating a number of the important perspectives. Only time will tell.

In that spirit, I’m trying to understand the carbon cycle and in particular the current carbon flows in the economy. I have two goals – one is to better understand the debate over the viability of biofuels. The other is to better understand whether we have any real options over climate change other than just suffering the consequences of our collective fecklessness. Either way, I can never make any sense out of any debate like this until I start to understand the relative sizes of the flows involved, and the trends in them.
(30 January 2006)
The first of at least four articles to be posted by Stuart this week. It’s too early to tell where he is going with this, but the attempt to understand and explain the subject is admirable.
Another in-depth report from The Oil Drum:
Surface mining of coal by Heading Out

Iran and energy news roundup
(“A flock of seagulls”)

Big Gav, Peak Energy (Australia)
Summary of the latest on Iran and the energy situation by our co-aggregator, Big Gav. As David Roberts of Gristmill says, it’s “insanely comprehensive”.
(30 January 2006)

Iran: Of nukes and oil

Joshua Frank, CounterPunch
Secretary of State Condi Rice doesn’t think the United States and European Union should continue talking to Iran about their potential nuke development. Diplomacy should end and the UN Security Council must now take action, she says. Rice admitted to reporters on January 23, that dialogue between Iran and the international community had come to a “dead end”.

“I don’t see much room for further discussion in any format,” Rice huffed.

Of course, the US’s true intentions for going after Tehran may have more to do with what’s hidden beneath Iran’s arid soil than their nuclear ambitions.

Currently the second largest untapped oil reserve in the world is in Iran. Iran has five times more oil than the US. The industry’s reputable Oil and Gas Journal in 2005 estimated 125.8 billion barrels were in the country just waiting to be pumped. Iran is also the number 2 producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

The majority of Iran’s crude oil is located in Khuzestan, which borders Iraq and the Persian Gulf is the home to two of Iran’s largest untapped oil fields — Yadavaran and Azadegan. So it really shouldn’t be a surprise that the oil boys in Washington want dibs on Iran’s oil-rich land.

But there’s a problem, and it could be a substantial glitch in the neo-con’s agenda if Iran’s nuclear dabbling is taken before the Security Council where it may well be vetoed by China and Russia. The only other alternative if the Council were to veto Iran sanctions would be to invade. The Chinese government already has its eye on Yadavaran. …Russia too has a stake in Iran’s oil-rich economy. …

The threat of UN sanctions has the oil speculators and markets worried sick. Prices have been in flux over the past few weeks as Iran has threatened to pull its huge foreign exchange reserves from European banks. If the Iranian government is anything, it isn’t stupid. Tehran knows the threat of yanking the country’s cash from Western banks will upset the US stock exchange, which in turn will damage the Bush administration. Iran is flexing what little muscle it has left in hopes that its nuclear agenda doesn’t go before the Security Council. The mullahs are just playing politics. But what’s worrying Washington more than Iranian nukes may be a much different WMD.

In March 2006, Iran is slated to open the long awaited Iranian Oil Bourse (oil exchange program). Currently the petrodollar is dominated by US currency, but Iran and other OPEC countries want that to end. When the bourse opens, Iran will be trading on a euro-oil-trading system, the first step toward an alternative petrodollar. That could be bad news for the US.
(29 January 2006)
The left has picked up on the Iran Bourse story. See:
Beating Bround the Bush By the Bourse by Ingmar Lee in Alternative Press Review

The guerrilla oil cartel
John Robb, Global Guerrillas
The control over the price of oil is in now in the hands of global guerrillas — the open source, system disrupting, transnational crime fueled, sons of global fragmentation covered by this author. These actors can now, at will, curtail the supply of oil through low tech attacks on facilities in Iraq, Nigeria, central Asia, and India. The amount of oil effectively under their control exceeds five million barrels a day, more than Saudi Arabia’s two million barrels a day of swing production.
(22 Jan 2006)
Global Guerrillas has several recent posts on similar themes.

Chavez on Peak America, seals alliance with Bolivia’s Morales
Javier Aliaga,
President Evo Morales marked his first day in office Monday by signing eight accords with Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavez, including a barter deal under which oil-rich Caracas will provide diesel fuel to Bolivia in exchange for foodstuffs. … Meanwhile, Chavez told university students and professors here that what he describes as the U.S. empire is nearing its end.

“The empire has entered the phase of desperation, like a vampire who sees dawn approaching and realizes that he still has not sucked enough blood,” the outspoken populist said Monday after receiving an honorary degree from San Andres University in La Paz.

Referring to U.S. talk of international action against Iran in response to that nation’s alleged aim to develop nuclear weapons, the Venezuelan said that Washington has Tehran in its sights “because (the Iranians) were capable of freeing themselves from imperialism” and recovering control of their natural resources.

“The United States invaded Iraq for oil; it doesn’t care about democracy or life. They are desperate because their reserves of gas and oil are running out,” Chavez said.

He went on to accuse the Bush administration of planning to invade oil-rich Venezuela for the same reason, but said that “capitalism and its ideologues” should realize an attack on his country would only accelerate the process of their own destruction.
(24 Jan 2006)
Original headline ‘Chavez, Bolivia’s Morales seal alliance with raft of accords’ -AF