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Australian sustainability conference
McNamara & Lowe at the Power to Change Sustainable Energy Expo
Global Public Media
100km north of Brisbane in Queensland, Australia, The University of the Sunshine Coast this weekend hosted the Power To Change Sustainable Energy Expo. Presented by the Sunshine Coast Environment Council, the expo examined why it is imperative that we move towards sustainability and displayed practical ways for individuals, communities and governments to do so.

….Speaking about peak oil at the Sustainable Energy Expo was Andrew McNamara, Labor Party Member for Hervey Bay, Queensland. After his presentation he sat down with Global Public Media’s Andi Hazelwood for a brief followup to his August 2005 GPM interview. McNamara provided an update on the status of Queensland’s Oil Vulnerability Task Force report and talked about another related Parliamentary report, made a sobering prediction about the future price of oil and gas and took air conditioner retailers to task.

Another expo presenter was Ian Lowe, an Emeritus Professor of Science, Technology and Society at Griffith University in Brisbane, Queensland. He has held senior advisory roles for all three levels of government and has consulted extensively. In 1988, Ian was named Australian Humanist of the Year and in 2000 Ian received the Queensland Premier’s Millennium Award for Excellence in Science and the Prime Minster’s Environmental Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement. He writes a weekly column for New Scientist and received the year’s Eureka Award for Promotion of Science. In this brief interview with Andi Hazelwood, Prof. Lowe focused on solutions to the climate change crisis at a national and local level.
(8 April 2006)

Speculators pile into oil

Tom Philpott, Gristmill
If crude-oil production has peaked or is approaching a peak — an idea that has risen to the status of religious faith at Gristmill and other greenie blogs — one would expect the “smart money” (i.e., the speculator class) to snap up oil futures.

And that is precisely what’s happening, according to today’s Wall Street Journal.

The paper reports today that crude-oil futures leapt $1.35 a barrel yesterday, settling at $68.74, or just a bit more than a buck away from the post-Katrina high.

The rally is partly rooted in brute geopolitics: talk of a U.S. attack on Iran and ongoing strife in Nigeria. But the larger picture may be structural, the Journal reports:

In a phenomenon that could still intensify, big institutions and everyday investors around the globe are adding commodities to their portfolios, hoping the bull market in natural resources will continue. Many of the newcomers are investors who use index-based strategies to, in effect, buy and hold in a field they previously found too complex and risky. [Emphasis added.]

Hoping the bull market in natural resources will continue. Wall Street is signaling it thinks the “bull market” in crude is (in Street argot) “secular,” not “cyclical.” That is, that the price of oil is rising because of structural changes in supply and demand, not short-term oil-company or OPEC manipulation. Investors are snapping up oil-futures contracts because they believe oil is cheaper now than it will be in the near or mid-term future.
(11 April 2006)

Geological peak vs. logistical peak

From The Times, via UK TOD, this bit of wisdom from the chief of Total:

People are failing to deal with the reality of the price, which has nothing to do with speculators or even any lack of reserves, which are ample. ““It is a problem of capacities and of timing,” de Margerie says. “This is the real problem of peak oil.”

The commenters at UK TOD further deconstructed his statement by separating out the idea of a geological peak versus a logistical peak. We can defer the latter by throttling the production in an optimal fashion — a very business-centric way of thinking.

I prefer to distinguish the two types of peak as residing on different phases of the oil shock model. Essentially, a geological peak occurs during the discovery process; we hit the peak when we think we have made the most volumetric discoveries per year. On the other hand, the logistical peak only occurs when we start extracting the oil, having to wade through the fallow, construction, and maturation phases prior to that point.
(10 April 2006)

Stormy weather
Jeff Rubin, CIBC World Markets
An interesting set of slides about oil supplies and investment, with a Canadian focus. CIBC is an investment bank which provides research services. Author Jeff Rubin is chief economist and chief strategist. Suggested by reader WT.
(April 2006)