Politics & economics - Feb 22
Click on the headline (link) for the full text.
Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage
Ex-CIA director Woolsey on oil addiction and alternatives (VIDEO)
Colbert Report, Comedy Central
To access, click on the photo of Woolsey on the second or third row down.
Recommended by "Free" at peakoil-dot-com:
Jim Woolsey interview on the "Colbért Repórt", talking about the SOTU-adress. Very interesting and a bit funny - he obviously is worried about financing terrorists through the oil addiction and believes in alternatives....
Good news: [natural] gas prices up. Bad news: they'll fall again
Polly Toynbee, The Guardian
It's not the fairest way to cut energy use, but a tax to keep costs high would also boost investment in green power generation
Gas prices leaping up by 22% in one jump, good or bad? It was greeted everywhere as unremittingly bad news - bad for consumers, bad for industry, bad for the poor and the old. Centrica, the owner of British Gas, was widely abused when it had the gall to say that its record £1.5bn profit was good news for pensioners since the company is 90%-owned by pension funds. But in the cacophony of indignation, not a green voice could make itself heard suggesting that, just possibly, this is very good news indeed for the planet. It is one of the old dilemmas for environmentalists. Price rises that might cut energy use are naturally unpopular, so any celebration by the greens only adds to their killjoy reputation.
Yet this price rise has finally brought the cost of wind energy into line with the cost of gas. The trouble is, prices are expected to fall again in a couple of years, once the EU regulator stops pricefixing in Europe, once the gas pipeline from Norway and terminals storing liquefied gas are completed. If only the government would declare taxes to ensure prices will not fall again, that guarantee would send private investment in green energy surging ahead.
(21 February 2006)
Pain at the Pump Doesn't Faze New-Car Buyers
Warren Brown, Washington Post
Survey finds not many Americans are willing to sacrifice anything that will in any way lead to their immediate discomfort or inconvenience or upset their sense of entitlement to the better life, especially in the matter of personal transportation. The consensus was sacrifice, the need for Americans to accept that sharing bounty and limiting resource consumption will be necessary parts of their future, if they want to live in peace.
The reality was something different, highlighted by panel discussions, news conferences and automotive executive interviews held in conjunction with the 64th annual staging of the Washington Auto Show, which ends tonight at the Washington Convention Center.
What about fuel economy? It finished dead last in the survey, with only 3 percent -- repeat 3 percent -- of those polled listing it as their "most important" consideration.
(29 January 2006)
It will be interesting to see if/when these sentiments change now that President Bush has come out so strongly on oil addiction. How long before SUV's become unAmerican? -LJ
Indian Villages For Sale
Devinder Sharma, ZNet
Harkishanpura is a non-descript village in Bathinda district of Punjab in northwestern India. It suddenly made its way into news when in an unprecedented move the village panchayat announced that the village was up for sale. That was in Jan 2001. Since than five more villages in Punjab - in the midst of the food bowl of the country - are awaiting auction. ...
The alarm bells had been ringing for quite some time now. For nearly a decade, agricultural production had almost stagnated, than began the downslide. All this happened at a time when high-chemical input based technology had already mined the soils and ultimately led to the lands gasping for breath, with the water-guzzling crops sucking the groundwater aquifer dry, and with the failure of the markets to rescue the farmers from a collapse of the farming systems. By ignoring the critical connection between agricultural production and access to food -- with the focus shifting to agro- processing linked to foreign investment and exports -- it was bound to happen.
While the input costs kept on increasing over the years, encouraging farmers to back up with more loans, the farm prices remained steady. The entire input-output ratio gradually went upside down, with a large number of farmers sliding into debt that kept on mounting with each year. A recent UNCTAD report that showed agricultural produce continues to be sold at 1985 prices. In other words, the price farmers were getting today is in reality the same at which they were selling their produce 20 years back. ...
(12 February 2006)
The rising prices of farmers fossil fuel derived inputs is a major element of their bind - demand destruction was always going to start at the bottom.-LJ
Interview with Russian Minister of Industry and Energy Viktor Khristenko
("The Need for Energy Dialogue")
Thomas Rymer, Russia Profile
Question: One issue of concern is investment in new production in the oil industry. What effect are the high tax rates on excess profits having on companies’ investment in new production? What role does your ministry play in promoting investment projects in the oil sector?
Viktor Khristenko: The differentiated rates of the mineral resources tax have been discussed for quite some time now. The Industry and Energy Ministry is actively involved in this process. The objective is to create a transparent differentiation mechanism for the tax that would rule out varying applications, without leading to large losses for the budget and at the same time encouraging the development of new deposits.
Our position is that we should resolve this issue by introducing a tax holiday period of 5-7 years for new deposits, where industrial production has not yet begun.
Above all, zero-tax rate would give companies an incentive to begin high-risk development in eastern Siberia, the Far East and offshore. The Industry and Energy Ministry also proposes introducing tax breaks for exhausted deposits. Various threshold levels of depletion are currently being examined.
One important point is that the longer we delay making this decision, the harder it will be to feel the effectiveness of the measure taken: the structure of the country’s reserves will continue to get worse and Russia could end up facing a real collapse in oil production. At the same time, we need to remember that it will be quite some time before any mechanism aimed at encouraging the growth of reserves will have a visible effect. This is another argument in favor of taking action as quickly as possible. I think that we will reach concrete results this year.
(6 February 2006)
Long interview giving the Russian point of view on energy issues, such as the confrontation with the Ukraine, energy security and state control.