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Inverview with Syriana screenwriter Stephen Gaghan
(“Worlds in collision”)

The Ticket, Irish Times
…Although Syriana has been widely praised, and picked up a couple of Oscar nominations (for Clooney’s performance and Gaghan’s script), the film-maker is incandescent with anger about American journalists who have branded the film too complicated and confusing to reach a mass audience.

“They’re all asking: ‘Who are we rooting for? Who do we want to see succeed at the end? It’s too confusing!’ And the point is, it’s not confusing. These storylines have beginnings and middles and ends. They’re simple. What the film does is it challenges the way you watch movies like this. It doesn’t tell you who’s the star of the scene. It’s shot to purposely challenge your assumptions of how you watch a film like this.”

And besides, film journalists just aren’t equipped for the task. “They can’t talk about the issues in the film because they don’t know enough, about Washington, about the Middle East, about foreign policy, about the oil business, lawyers . . . They don’t know anything about any of that. They only thing they can talk about in the US is that the movie’s too confusing for the middle of the country. They become these self-appointed protectors of the poor little lambs, the great unwashed. Well, I’m from Kentucky and I am one of the great unwashed.”

…The title Syriana comes from a term used by Washington think-tanks to describe a hypothetical reshaping of the Middle East. According to Gaghan, he is using it more abstractly, to refer to the “fallacious dream that you can successfully re-make nation states in your own image”.

…But the overriding impression one gets from Syriana is of a system of power which has been in place since the end of the second World War at least, but is beginning to collapse under the pressure of economic imperatives, political violence and global change.

“Exactly,” says Gaghan, rather gleefully. “I think you can feel it coming, can’t you? We’ve reached peak oil production, and the carbon economy’s going to change. You have this incredible fact that China has 10 million cars now and in 20 years they’re going to have 100 million cars. India’s on the same trajectory. What does that mean for oil prices? They’re not going to be within reach of the average person. There’ll be giant structural shifts. I think it’s exciting – and terrifying.”
(17 February 2006)

Cantarell – an omen?
(The Peak Oil Crisis)

Tom Whipple, Falls Church News Press
There are a lot of bad things out there waiting to bite as the world moves towards peak oil— Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Venezuela, China, globalization, and hurricanes to name a few. Last week a new bogeyman arose — super fast oil depletion.

Our story begins 65 million years ago when the Chicxulub meteor (or perhaps comet) crashed into the sea near the Yucatan Peninsula . This was one big bang, for it not only wiped out all our dinosaurs, but also took out 75% of the species living on earth.

As our 10 km wide meteor was tooling along at 60,000 miles per hour when it hit, there was not much left of the meteor but vapor after the impact, but for a few seconds, there was a monster hole in the earth 100 miles in diameter. I won’t go into all the terrible things that happened to our earth in the months after the blast, but few living things survived.

Our new hole promptly filled up with rubble (breccia, to geologists) pushed in by the rushing waters of the returning sea and landslides along the sides of the crater. Somewhere, between 65 million years ago and 1976, parts of this underwater rubble filled hole, filled up with about 35 billion barrels of oil. Making it one of the world’s greatest oil fields. It is now called Cantarell.
(16-20 February 2006 issue)

The Iran crisis & global peak oil, Part 2

Charles Whalen, EV World
After writing ‘The Iran crisis & global peak oil’ several days ago


someone emailed me a few questions which led me to want to elaborate and expand upon my thoughts and explain some of my conclusions in that blog. So here below are the questions (in CAPS) and my answers and further elaboration and explanations, which I will call: ‘The Iran crisis & global peak oil, Part 2’

…Q: You are the second person I know that is convinced Iran will Mine the Straits of Hormuz. (The other is Dr Mamdouh Salameh.).

I’ve read several analysts who also believe this. From there (i.e. from mining the Straits of Hormuz), it’s not much of a leap to launching missiles targeted at Ras Tanura, because it’s the same goal really and will have the same effect.

Q: But you go much further and suggest missiles flying etc, etc. Why are you convinced this will happen ?

…However, the $300+ oil and $10+ gasoline that will result from taking out Ras Tanura and shutting down the Straits of Hormuz will most definitely and very effectively accomplish that goal of crippling the economies of the US and the West (as well as that of China and the most of the rest of the world, the latter of which being what Ahmedinajad would probably call ‘collateral damage’, to borrow one of the Pentagon’s infamous euphemisms). With its key geostrategic location straddling the Straits of Hormuz and the entire Persian Gulf, with its Russian and Chinese advanced missile systems, and with its large, well-trained, highly-disciplined armed forces and Revolutionary Guards, Iran is uniquely positioned and poised to accomplish this feat quite readily and easily, and there’s not a whole lot the US military can do to prevent it short of nuking the entire country with large, strategic nuclear weapons (or alternatively, making sure that Israel doesn’t attack Iran in the first place!).
(17 February 2006)

Satisfying China’s demand for energy

Rupert Wingfield-Hayes, BBC
As part of the BBC’s Fuelling the Future season, Rupert Wingfield-Hayes looks at the factors fuelling growing demand for energy in China, and how the country plans to cope once the oil age is over.

The hair-raising amount it now costs you to fill up your car with petrol is apparently all China’s fault! Or so you might think to read some of the more alarmist reports in the western media.

China has, we are told, been running around the world signing oil deals with everyone from Iran, to Sudan to Angola. In the race to secure future oil resources China is prepared to deal with even the dodgiest regimes, and pay the highest prices.

Like all good stories they carry more than a grain of truth. China has been on a buying spree, and is prepared to pay top-dollar to get its hands on the oil it needs. But it is more than a slight exaggeration to say China is to blame for $70 a barrel oil prices.
(16 February 2006)
Part of the BBC’s excellent series, Fuelling the Future.

Do high prices mean we’re running out of natural gas?

Chuck McCutcheon, Newhouse News Service
WASHINGTON — Homeowners opening their heating bills to skyrocketing prices this winter might wonder if the world is running out of natural gas.

The short answer is no, energy experts say.

The natural gas industry argues that today’s shortages are driven by constraints on production, transportation and storage. Plenty of supply remains, they say, if only they can go after it.

But some theorists, drawing on the debate over “peak oil,” believe U.S. demand for natural gas is outstripping our ability to extract it efficiently from traditional supplies here and in Canada and Mexico.

“It looks like sometime in the last three or four years that North American natural gas production has peaked,” said Julian Darley, founder of the Post Carbon Institute, an Oregon-based environmental think tank. “By the end of 2006, I think we’ll be completely sure.”

Stephen Andrews, co-founder of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil & Gas-USA, a Denver research group, agreed.

“Natural gas prices have gotten a lot of ink, but the fact that we have peaked in North America in natural gas production is not drawing the same level of attention as the peak oil discussion,” he said.
(31 January 2006, but just posted)