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The world is waking up to new era of power politics

Daniel Yergin, Times (UK)
The institutions and policies set up after the 1973 Arab oil embargo can no longer meet the needs of energy consumers or producers
ON THE eve of the First World War, Winston Churchill, the First Lord of the Admiralty, made an historic decision: to shift the power source of the Navy’s ships from coal to oil. He intended to make the fleet faster than its German counterpart. But the switch also meant that the Royal Navy would rely not on coal from Wales but on insecure oil supplies from what was then Persia. Energy security thus became a question of national strategy.

Churchill’s answer? “Safety and certainty in oil,” he said, “lie in variety and variety alone.” Since Churchill’s decision, energy security has repeatedly emerged as an issue of great importance, and it is so once again. But the subject needs to be rethought, for what has been the paradigm of energy security for the past three decades is too limited and must be expanded to include many new factors. Moreover, it must be recognised that energy security does not stand by itself, but is lodged in the larger relations among nations.

Energy security will be the No 1 topic when the G8 highly industrialised countries meet in St Petersburg in July.

…World oil demand has grown by seven million barrels a day since 2000; of this growth, two million barrels a day have gone to China. India’s oil consumption is less than 40 per cent of China’s, but its demand will accelerate. The impact of growth in China, India and elsewhere on global demand for energy has been far reaching. In the 1970s North America consumed twice as much oil as Asia. Last year, for the first time, Asia’s consumption exceeded North America’s. The trend will continue: half the total growth in oil consumption in the next 15 years will come from Asia, according to Cambridge Energy Research Associates (Cera).

…Although talk of an imminent peak in oil output followed by a rapid decline has become common in some circles, Cera analysis indicates that net productive capacity could increase as much as 25 per cent over the next decade. Despite current pessimism, higher oil prices will do what higher prices usually do: fuel growth in supplies by increasing investment and by turning marginal opportunities into commercial prospects (as well as moderating demand and stimulating development of alternatives).

… However, current projections do show that after 2010 the major growth in supplies will come from fewer countries than today, which may accentuate security concerns.

…the past several years have highlighted the need to expand the concept of energy security in two critical dimensions: the recognition of the globalisation of the energy security system, which can be achieved especially by engaging China and India, and acknowledgment that the entire energy supply chain needs to be protected.

Daniel Yergin is chairman of Cera and author of The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power. He is writing a new book on oil and geopolitics
(1 April 2006)
Long essay.

A role for oil companies in setting climate policy?

Janus, Ethical Corporation
As the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is reported to be its highest on record, oil companies appear to want to steal a policy march on governments and NGOs.

…Shell and BP were the first to recognise climate change in their advertising. In the main, their advertisements sought to position themselves as responsible companies in so far as they a) accepted that climate change is a problem and b) have invested in a range of renewable energy technologies, and cleaner (i.e. lower carbon) fuels, like natural gas.

But when, as recently, BP calls on us all to put our “best carbon footprint forward”, one senses a challenge to governments as well as consumers. Is BP really saying that the time has come for oil companies, as well as other businesses, to routinely measure and report their carbon footprint?

…If, indeed, governments do want to prevent dangerous climate change, in the terms they agreed in the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, it seems inevitable that at some point, all of us will have to take responsibility for our carbon emissions, and that some form of consistent (and probably mandated) reporting is required.

More perplexing are the double-page-spread advertisements that Chevron has been running. One of these – apparently playing into the “peak oil” debate, reminds us that “the world consumes two barrels of oil for every barrel discovered”.

…What seems clear from these and related advertisements is that some oil companies see a “win-win” in sharing their dilemmas publicly. By taking up the issues of renewable and clean energy sources, and by calling for greater efficiency, they are essentially seeking to take the public-policy high ground from NGOs. By highlighting concerns about energy security, they raise real and increasingly pressing supply issues, and position themselves as responsible in this sense also.

However, unless they go the next step, and actually support regulation that responds to these challenges – without increasing fossil fuel use – whether or not they recognise climate change as a danger, the continued use of their products will only result in higher CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere.
(1 April 2006)

Iran still insisting on Persian Gulf oil bourse

Deutsche Presse-Agentur via M&C News
Tehran – Iran is still insisting on opening a Persian Gulf oil bourse with the southern Iranian island Kish as its base, state-television reported Saturday.

… [Economic and Finance Minister Davoud Danesh-Jafari] reiterated that the new oil bourse could also replace the dollar-based oil exchange with euro.

Iran argues that while 60 per cent of the global oil and 25 per cent natural gas need was covered by the Persian Gulf states, oil dealin in either New York or London would have no meaning.

Iran also wants to avoid the dollar-based oil exchange for not being target of economic problems of the United States and calls on a fair distribution of global economic interests.

The plan to open the oil-bourse in Kish was raised by the administration of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last year and supposed to be opened before the new Persian year which began March 21 but eventually postponed.
(1 April 2006, from Carrie at peakoil)

Woodside, Chevron to benefit from Asia LNG demand, analyst says

Angela Macdonald-Smith, Bloomberg
Asian LNG demand may surge 40 percent to 137.8 million metric tons in 2010, and gain 43 percent to 197.4 million tons by 2015, Wood Mackenzie estimates. Indonesia, the world’s biggest LNG exporter, said this week it won’t extend some contracts to sell the fuel after 2010 as the gas is needed within the country.

“Australia has to be the beneficiary of the situation in Indonesia,” Harris said in an interview in Sydney. “Australia is perceived as a blue-chip supplier with huge reserves upside, while all its key competitors in the Pacific Basin supply business have got some sort of issue.”

Malaysia may in future have difficulty supplying high- quality gas to its LNG plant, while Qatar has a moratorium on additional gas exports and Iran looks increasingly uncertain as a future LNG supplier, Harris said
(30 March 2006, recommended by BG)

Make your own Chevy Tahoe commercial

David Roberts, Gristmill
Check this out: Chevrolet has a site up where you can design your own commercial for the Chevy Tahoe. As Kevin Drum says, this one is probably not long for this world, so watch it while you can.

Here’s my commercial:

Hey, 2,325 U.S. kids have died, 16,653 have been injured, and up to $2 trillion will be spent to keep our oil supply safe. If you support the troops you’ll get out there and use some of it! Chevy Tahoe: Don’t let all that blood go to waste.

(29 March 2006)
Last gasp of a dying organization (ad recommended by Mobjectivist)
FUN consumer activism – Chevy Tahoe SUV ad comp, have a go! (peakoil-com forum)
“Notice what’s missing? (ad suggested by Ana UC)

Soon we’ll pay the true price of air travel

Leader (editorial), The Observer
Scarcely audible amid the storm of financial scandal last week was the sound of Labour overshooting its target on greenhouse gas emissions. The Climate Change review, a report on progress towards greener government, evaporated over Westminster like a vapour trail behind a jumbo jet.

In the review, the government admitted it would fail to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 20 per cent by 2010 – a pledge in every manifesto since 1997.

To be fair, Britain has a greener record than most of the EU. The UK is at least on target to meet its commitments under the Kyoto protocol. Gordon Brown’s budget and David Cameron’s speeches demonstrate that environmental zeal is now considered de rigueur for aspiring Prime Ministers. But neither man has radical policies to match the rhetoric. That is because the sharpest instrument for cutting pollution is a tax on polluters. Since we are all consumers of carbon-emitting energy, that means higher prices all round. No politician eagerly puts that in a manifesto.

Nowhere is the problem clearer than in aviation. As we report today, Britons will take more than half a billion flights annually by 2020, up from 189 million in 2002 and far in excess of recent government forecasts. Air travel is our fastest growing source of greenhouse gases and the most pernicious, since emissions at altitude have more than twice the impact of those on the ground.

Airlines, meanwhile, pay no VAT, no fuel duty and are exempt from the climate change levy.
(2 April 2006)