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Peak oil - May 4

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Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage

Simmons and Yergin on NPR
"Experts Ponder Peak of Global Oil Production"

Scott Horsley, NPR
Morning Edition, May 2, 2006 · Six years into the 21st century, the United States and the world remain heavily dependent on the fuel that powered the last 100 years: oil. President Bush has gone so far as to call that dependence an "addiction."

With crude-oil prices hovering at or above $70 a barrel, more people are looking for alternative sources of energy. Others are asking how long existing sources will last.

"By a show of hands, how many of you have ever run out of gas in a car?" Matthew Simmons asked at a California energy conference in February. "What I find interesting is that cars can run at 70 mph until the last second till they run out of gas. And the moral of that story is that energy shortages can happen instantaneously."

...Energy analyst and historian Daniel Yergin has heard these arguments before. He counts five different periods when the world feared it was running out of oil. The first was in the 1880s. Such fears usually gain traction when oil prices are high. But each time, Yergin says, the dire warnings have proved premature.
(2 May 2006)
Coverage like this on NPR is a start. After all, Simmons and peak oil are highlighted. Public radio, however, needs to go beyond the big names of Simmons and Yergin and dig deeper into the subject. -BA

Julian Darley at the Local Solutions Conference, NYC
Julian Darley, Global Public Media
Julian Darley's presentation at the Local Solutions to the Energy Dilemma Conference in New York City, 29 April 2006. Darley gives an overview of Global Public Media and Post Carbon Institute, talks about the Relocalization Network and discusses upcoming projects and strategies for relocalization.
(29 April 2006)

CRS Report for Congress: Oil Shale: History, Incentives, and Policy [PDF]
Anthony Andrews
Specialist, Industrial Engineering and Infrastructure Policy
Resources, Science, and Industry Division

Projections that peak petroleum production may occur in the coming decades, along with increasing global demand, underscore the United States’ dependence on imported petroleum. After Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the spike in crude oil price and the temporary shutdown of some Gulf Coast refineries exacerbated that dependency. With imports making up 65% of the United States’ crude oil supply and the expectation that the percentage will rise, proponents of greater energy independence see the nations’s huge but undeveloped oil shale resources as a promising alternative.
Oil shale is prevalent in the western states of Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming. The resource potential of these shales is estimated to be the equivalent of 1.8 trillion
barrels of oil in place. Retorted oil shale yields liquid hydrocarbons in the range of middle-distillate fuels, such as jet and diesel fuel. However, because oil shales have not proved to be economically recoverable, they are considered a contingent resource and not true reserves. It remains to be demonstrated whether an economically significant oil volume can be extracted under existing operating conditions.
(13 April 2006)
This report looks at some of the technical limitations to producting liquid fuels from oil shale and concludes that "Whether oil shale can be economically produced, even given the current high cost of conventionally recovered petroleum, remains unclear." If the report had considered the all important Energy Returned on Energy Invested (ERoEI) ratio, or greenhouse emissions associated with the process, I suspect the conclusion would have been far less optimistic again. -AF

CRS Report for Congress: Navy Ship Propulsion Technologies: Options for Reducing Oil Use - Background for Congress [PDF]
Ronald O’Rourke
Specialist in National Defense
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division

This report provides background information on options for technologies that could reduce the Navy’s dependence on oil for its ships. It is based on testimony prepared for a hearing on alternative Navy ship propulsion technologies held on April 6, 2006, before the Projection Forces Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee, which granted permission for the testimony to be converted into this report.

The report discusses four general strategies for reducing the Navy’s dependence on oil for its ships:
* reducing energy use on Navy ships;
* alternative hydrocarbon fuels;
* nuclear propulsion; and
* sail and solar power.
(12 April 2006)
Interesting to see the Navy considering a return to sail power! The report mentions Hubbert's Peak and a 2005 NRAC Study, see below. -AF

Future Fuels, [presented to] Flag Officers & Senior Executive Service, The Pentagon Auditorium [PDF]
Naval Research Advisory Committee (NRAC), Office of Naval Research
(4 October 2005)
This is a PDF of a powerpoint presentation, which presumably summarises a longer report. According to Ronald O'Rourke:

The 2005 NRAC study was sponsored by the Marine Corps Combat Development Command and was tasked to “Identify, review, and assess technologies for reducing fuel consumption and for militarily useful alternative fuels, with a focus on tactical ground mobility.... Two main focus areas to be considered in this effort are alternative fuels, and improving fuel efficiency (to include examination of alternative engine technologies).” The study recommended making a long-term commitment to manufactured liquid hydrocarbon fuels made from domestically abundant feedstocks. The briefing referenced “Hubbert’s Peak,” also known as the peak oil theory, and included a discussion of the German discovered Fischer-Tropsch (FT) process for converting coal into manufactured liquid hydrocarbon fuels.

Page 28 contains Les Magoon's Big Rollover graphic placing the median estimate of Peak Oil based on 11 authoriative sources at 2010. Presentation includes some photos of armour plated hybrid vehicles. The above three references were furnished by scotg -AF

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