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Plain Dealer wins national word for series on energy crisis

Cleveland Plain Dealer
…”Crude Awakening,” a weekly, six-month look at the energy crisis, won the National Press Foundation’s Thomas L. Stokes Award for 2005’s best energy and environment writing in a daily newspaper.

… “Crude Awakening” won $1,000 for the series that examined the volatile past, present and future of the world’s biggest industry, which has caused booms, busts, wars, pollution and political downfalls. The series began in May and continued through mid-November. Seven graphic artists, 13 reporters and various photographers and editors contributed to the series.

The foundation’s judges wrote, “This series was unquestionably the most comprehensive and informative of any of the entries. . . . Beyond the in-depth reporting, the graphics that accompanied the articles were extraordinary. The Plain Dealer is to be commended for devoting so much in resources and space to one of the foremost issues for our time and future.”
(26 February 2006)
Many of the articles in this outstanding series have been posted on Energy Bulletin, with the permission of the Plain Dealer. For access to the articles, see the Crude Awakening archives.

Peak oil prophets and skeptics

(Original: “Oil futures”)
Drake Bennett, Boston Globe
Some experts believe the age of oil is near its end. Others insist that there are trillions of untapped barrels left — and that the future of oil depends more on what happens above ground than below.
….Yergin, the founder and chairman of Cambridge Energy Research Associates, a leading oil consultancy based in Cambridge, likes to tell this story [concerning fears about oil supply after WWI] to people who are worried that we have entered the final, terminal phase of exhausting the world’s oil supply that we have passed the point of what experts call ”peak oil.”

A lot of people are worrying these days. In public appearances the famed former Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens has declared that supplies are dwindling. Arjun Murti, a Goldman Sachs oil analyst who spooked markets last spring by predicting that oil could in 2007 rise to $105 a barrel, recently said that forecast might be conservative if the peak oil model is correct. Even President Bush, another former oilman, has been hinting that the age of oil is drawing to a close, following up last month’s State of the Union speech in which he proclaimed that ”America is addicted to oil” with a barnstorming tour to talk up the benefits of wind and solar energy, ethanol, and a host of other alternative fuels.

And two weeks ago, Kenneth Deffeyes, a retired Princeton geology professor and leading ”peakist,” announced on his website that, according to his calculations, global daily oil production passed into eclipse in December and began an inexorable, accelerating decline. The fact that the chairman of Kuwait’s state oil company had conceded in November that the Burgan oil field, second-largest on the planet, was ”exhausted” only seemed to underline his point. As Deffeyes wrote, ”I can now refer to the world oil peak in the past tense. My career as a prophet is over. I’m now an historian.”

But for many oil industry analysts, Yergin among them, talk about an imminent ”end of oil” is both premature and deeply wrongheaded. The history of oil exploration, they point out, has been defined by an ever-improving ability to wring more oil out of the earth and, when necessary, to use it more efficiently. In that sense, the size of the world’s oil supply is shaped primarily by the interplay of geopolitics, economics, and technological innovation. As Yergin argues in an article in the forthcoming issue of Foreign Affairs, it’s these factors, rather than the limits of geology, that should concern us.

Yergin and other oil optimists concede that there may be very good reasons to curtail our use of oil climate change, for one, or instability in the Persian Gulf. But visions of dry wells should not be among them. As Michael Lynch, a fervent anti-peakist and the head of the Winchester-based energy consulting firm Strategic Energy & Economic Research, puts it, ”we’ve got enough oil out there to turn the planet into an Easy-Bake oven.”
(26 February 2006)

Interview with Ken Deffeyes

Ted Sickinger, Portland Oregonian
Few petroleum geologists qualify as celebrities. But Ken Deffeyes, a former Shell Oil geologist who is now a professor emeritus of geosciences at Princeton University, recently sold out Portland’s First Congregational Church, where he came to lecture on his latest book, “Beyond Oil.”

Before Princeton, Deffeyes worked as a researcher in the labs of Shell Oil and taught at the University of Minnesota and Oregon State University. At Shell, he worked with the now-famous petroleum geologist M. King Hubbert. Hubbert coined what is fast becoming a fixture in the modern lexicon — “peak oil” — when he predicted that U.S. oil production would peak in the early 1970s and decline thereafter. Widely criticized at the time, Hubbert has since been vindicated.

Building on Hubbert’s hypotheses, Deffeyes recently theorized that world oil production peaked Dec. 16, 2005, and has begun its permanent decline, with economic disruptions to follow.

Deffeyes sat down with The Oregonian last week to discuss his book and the peak oil phenomenon. His comments have been edited for length and clarity.
(27 February 2006)

Peak Oil in Turkey
(PDF, in Turkish)
Turkish Independent Industrialists and Businessmen Association
The Turkish Independent Industrialists and Businessmen Association (with 26 branches and some 2000 members) has released a report called “Energy Economics of Turkey and Future of Oil” on Februrary 20, 2006. The report discusses Peak Oil, alternatives, energy security, oil dependency in global level and its implications for Turkey. The report, the first to discuss Peak Oil in Turkey, also gives a long list of recommendations for Turkey. The report can be downloaded at [Turkish only].
(20 February 2006)

Profiting from peak oil: ‘A race against the clock,’ says Ottawa mayor

Jeff Esau, Ottawa Business Journal
We’re all in for a rough ride if global oil production dwindles as expected over the next 10 years, but the need to find alternative fuel sources creates huge business opportunities, experts say.

That was the message delivered at a forum last month hosted by the [Ottawa’s] Environmental Advisory Committee (EAC).

Less than a week before U.S. President George Bush told Americans in his State of the Union address they were “addicted to oil,” the 300 participants at the Crude Awakening forum were asked to consider how prepared Ottawa is to kick the habit when oil becomes too rare and expensive to fuel our economic and social structures.
(27 February 2006)