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Saudi Arabia: the sands run out

Michael T. Klare, Le Monde Diplomatique (English edition)
Last month’s foiled attack on a Saudi Arabian oil installation demonstrated yet again the world’s extreme vulnerability to any check on oil supplies. But what if the Saudi oilfields are running lower on untapped supplies than the kingdom, and the West, have estimated?
As concern rises in the United States and elsewhere over the future availability of oil, the global community of energy experts has split into two camps: the optimists believe that oil is abundant and will remain so for years to come, while the pessimists think supplies will become increasingly scarce. For both, Saudi Arabia, the world’s leading oil producer, has a pivotal role. The optimists believe that it will continue to expand its output, thereby satisfying ever-increasing global demand; the pessimists contend that its oilfields will soon decline, eliminating any prospect of expanding the world’s net oil supply. To reach any conclusions about world supply, we must first consider Saudi Arabia.

It is impossible to exaggerate Saudi Arabia’s importance in the global oil-supply equation. Not only is it the leading producer and exporter of oil, but it is also the only major supplier with substantial spare capacity, allowing it to boost output quickly in times of crisis. This was of decisive importance in 1990, when Iraq invaded Kuwait and both countries’ production was no longer on the market. By swiftly upping its own output, Saudi Arabia prevented another global oil shock like those after the Arab oil embargo of 1973-74 and the Iranian revolution of 1979.

Given its unique ability to increase output in times of crisis, Saudi Arabia has long been viewed in Washington as a vital part of US energy security.
(March 2006, Carrie at

Rep. Bartlett on C-Span Tuesday March 14

Congressman Roscoe Bartlett, C-Span
Washington, DC – Congressman Roscoe Bartlett will mark the first anniversary of his first Peak Special Order speech with his 16th Special Order speech on that topic. The estimated start time will be between 7:30 pm Eastern and 8:30 pm Eastern. C-SPAN will broadcast it LIVE on cable and the Internet. Streaming video on C-SPAN can be accessed on the Internet at . The C-SPAN toll-free number for copies of floor speeches is 1-877-662-7726.
(March 2006)

Country singer Charlie Daniels: People must work together to solve energy crisis

Charlie Daniels, Sidney Herald
In President Bush’s State of the Union Address he spoke about our addiction to foreign oil and the repercussions it had on our relationship with the Middle East.

It does seem that America really has an addiction to oil. We live in an oil-based economy and have for many years. There are numerous steps we can take to remove ourselves from the clutches of the despots and American haters who control the world’s largest oil deposits of fossil fuel and we’re making an effort.

For instance, more and more wind-powered generators are coming on line in rural America and automobile manufacturers are starting to build hybrids and experiment with other alternate fuel-efficient technologies. Science is also pursuing hydrogen fuel cells and the production of ethanol should someday soon reach parity with gasoline.

Now, that’s all well and good but the problem is, it’s all in the future. What about now? Why has America been so sluggish in ending our dependence on foreign oil?

…Have you heard any of the upcoming candidates say anything about actually doing something about our fuel dependence? … I’m talking about making some concrete commitments to action. We’ve heard enough empty dialogue.

This shouldn’t be viewed as a Democratic or a Republican issue. They’ve both had their chance and blew it big time. It makes no difference which side of the aisle he or she sits on.

This issue, at least in my mind, should play a major part in the mid-term elections.

Charlie Daniels is a successful country music artist and enjoys writing a weekly column.
(12 March 2006)
Good find, graeme at !

Matt Simmons in New Zealand
(“Peak oil is closing in”)

Rob Maetzig,
Matt Simmons might be small in stature, but he’s a giant in the worldwide oil industry.

Chairman of a specialised energy investment banking firm which has completed more than 700 investment projects for energy clients at a combined dollar value of at least $US70 billion, he’s also energy adviser to the Bush Administration.

So when Matt Simmons says the world is rushing headlong into an energy crisis the likes of which has never been experienced before, then people should sit up and take notice.

And that’s exactly the warning Mr Simmons issued at the New Zealand Petroleum Conference in Auckland last week.

…So where does that leave New Zealand?

It’s no secret that there has been only modest investment in exploration in this country over the past two decades, primarily because abundant and cheap Maui gas has been available for the past 25 years.

But now that Maui is running out and demand for energy is increasing, the heat is on to find replacement reserves. That was the whole point of last week’s conference – an oil and gas information-fest, organised by the Government, and aimed at encouraging explorers to get out there.

That might be easier said than done, however. Many attending the conference pointed out that exploration was becoming increasingly expensive and difficult, particularly in countries as isolated as New Zealand.

The cost of hiring drilling rigs – if you can get one, because there is a worldwide shortage – has risen at least 200 per cent in recent months, steel has increased 70 per cent in price, and the cost of crew has risen at least 35 per cent and still going up.

It all means that New Zealand, like the rest of the world, is likely to face rising crude oil prices as the explorers strive to stave off the spectre of peak oil, the conference was warned.
(14 March 2006, Carrie at

BP CEO: energy mythology and its reality

Dan Larson, Farmington Daily Times
Energy security, climate change, peak oil and industry profits are hot topics and the subject of popular myths.

Leading the list of popular mythology is the recent film “Syriana,” which, according to BP CEO Lord John Browne, may have earned Oscar nominations but wouldn’t earn a nomination for absolute truth.

Speaking Feb. 15 at International Petroleum Week in London, Browne said the film is entertaining fiction and will shape what some people think about the oil industry, but it only serves to add to the mythology “the cloud of misunderstanding” through which the public and political leaders see the industry. Unfortunately, the film is only one of several myths about the industry that, while not as dramatic, can be just as damaging since they are taken too seriously by too many people.
(13 March 2006, Leanan at
The author is Dan Larson of BP Public Affairs, Durango. Printing this article as a news article, as the Daily Times does on their website, is misleading. The author is a PR person and there is no attempt at depth or analysis in the article; it’s simply the point of view of BP. The article should be clearly labeled as opinion. -BA

Interview: Richard Douthwaite of FEASTA

David Room, Global Public Media
Richard Douthwaite, economist, author, and founder of the Foundation for the Economics of Sustainability (FEASTA) talks to David Room about his organization and The Ireland and Europe Alternatives to Neoliberalism Conference.
(15 February 2006)