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Peak oil - June 26

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Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage


Our Future(s) - Part 2: Scenario Coaster
(PowerPoint)
Bryn Davidson, Dynamic Cities Project
'Scenario Coaster' builds on the four futures developed in the 'Our Future(s)' presentation. It first looks at the implications of some of the mainstream peaking scenarios (i.e. Exxon vs. ASPO) and, second, asks the question "Can we agree upon which of these paths is most desirable?"

Thank you to everyone who has provided positive feedback on the 'Our Future(s)' presentation. As before, please post your comments to the DCP website discussion page.
www.dynamiccities.squarespace.com/our-futures-discussion/

Thanks, Bryn
(23 June 2006)
An attractive graphic presentation that communicates the social consequences of different peak oil predictions. The surprising conclusion is that the CERA's optimistic prediction of a peak more than 20 years in the future is actually the scariest possible scenario. -BA


PO group forming near Cleveland

Cleveland Plain Dealer
The future of oil and other energy-related topics will be the focus of a book discussion group that will meet the last Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m., beginning June 27, at the Borders bookstore, 17200 Royalton Rd., Strongsville. Norm Ezzie, a blogger and creator of www.storminnorm.com, is organizing the public discussion group as a way to promote public awareness of energy issues facing the nation. The first book to be discussed will be "The Long Emergency" by James Howard Kunstler.
(19 June 2006)


The United States and Peak Oil production: Does it matter?

Justice Little, The Daily Reckoning (UK edition)
Does it really matter that the United States has 2 trillion barrels worth of recoverable oil shale resting in the shadow of the Rockies? Not anytime soon it doesn't.

Before you spit out your coffee, let me explain. (If I'm too late, I apologise.)

In terms of the long run - we're talking decades here - Peak Oil is serious business. The same is true of that oil shale bonanza out in Colorado and Utah. Eventually, we might find the will and the way to tap it. But in the intermediate term - meaning the next five years or so - neither Peak Oil nor recoverable US oil shale will have any real bearing on the energy landscape.

While it may be playing an indirect role, the Peak Oil phenomenon has not kicked in as a direct price driver for energy yet, and may not do so for a while. It is true that Saudi fields are looking sketchy to some outsiders, and new replacement reserves are getting harder and harder for the globetrotting oil majors to find. But there are more factors there than meet the eye. The toughness of finding new replacement reserves, for example, is arguably more of a geopolitical issue - it has a lot to do with state-run energy behemoths muscling out the private players where the pickings are good.

...There are a number of problems yet to be solved before US oil shale can be recovered on any type of meaningful scale, let alone a mass scale. And getting the extraction technology right is only one monkey wrench in the works with US oil shale. There are others.

The editor of Outstanding Investments has worked with soybean farmers, cattle ranchers, energy consultants, currency traders, scrap metal dealers and everyone in between, including multiple hedge funds. Mr Litle also acted as head trader for a private equity partnership, and contributed to Trend Following, a popular trading book by Mike Covel (FT/Prentice Hall, 2004).
(22 June 2006)


Our only hope lies in forging a new energy world order

Michael Meacher, UK Telegraph
...Peak oil is the point at which oil production rises to its highest point before declining. Almost all expert opinion agrees that it is fast approaching, possibly within five years, almost certainly within 15, according to the former Saudi oil chief, Dr Sadad al-Husseini.

...The significance of this can hardly be over-stated. Oil is the fundamental underpinning of our civilization.

...There are three options to escape this dilemma. One, which the US is ruthlessly pursuing, is to grab by force of arms the lion's share of what remains.

A second is to shift into unconventional sources of oil - tar sands, extra heavy oils and gas to liquids processing. A third is to accelerate the switch out of oil altogether into renewable sources of energy, especially wind power, biomass, tidal power and solar.

What is so disturbing is that long-term global policymaking on this, perhaps the biggest decision this century, is virtually non-existent and driven instead by self-destructive short-termism.

The first option was the real reason behind the first Gulf War in 1991, to deter Saddam gaining control of the Saudi oilfields. ... above all, option one was the main trigger for the Iraq war. Of more than 80 oilfields discovered in Iraq, only about 21 have been at least partly developed.

An alternative strategy is to take advantage of the rising oil price to develop unconventional oil sources, notably the Athabascan tar sands in Canada and the Venezuelan Orinoco heavy oils.

However, the downsides in terms of cost, manpower, water shortages and, above all, CO2, are prohibitive.

...The third option is clearly the right way forward - a new energy world order. The potential for powering the world economy via renewables is almost infinite. Governments should now be switching to this option, far faster and on a far greater scale.

Michael Meacher, Labour MP for Oldham West and Royton, was Environment Minister from 1997 to 2003
(26 June 2006)


End of the oil age in sight?

David Howell, Japan Times
...There are grounds for thinking that this time, at last, we really could be at the end of the oil age. This hesitant optimism rests on the amazing and enormous coincidence of two forces, or trends, that have happened to come together at this moment in world history: growing preoccupation with energy security and growing concern about climate change.

...The good news is that steps to increase energy security, by cutting down dramatically on oil dependency -- and maybe in due course on all fossil fuels -- are also steps in the right direction with regard to climate change issues. Pursue one objective and you pursue the other. But the question is whether oil-thirsty societies are ready to take the further necessary steps, and that in turn depends on whether consumers really see, and demand, cheaper and better alternatives to heavy use of oil.

That such cheaper and better alternatives have existed for some years is not in doubt.
David Howell is a former British Cabinet minister and former chairman of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee. He is now a member of the House of Lords (howelld@parliament.uk www.lord howell.com).
(26 June 2006)


alt.brains

Jim Kunstler, Cluserf*ck Nation
The energy debate around the US has taken a definite turn this spring, since oil prices stepped back up to the $70 zone, but the thinking around these issues has only gotten worse. That's because there is only one idea dominating the public discussion: how to keep our cars running by other means, at all costs.

We're certainly hearing more about energy from government and business. President Bush made the "addicted to oil" confession in January. Chevron and British Petroleum (or Beyond Petroleum, as BP wishfully styles itself) have both run ad campaigns acknowledging the oil-and-gas crunch, and the mainstream media has joined the campaign to pimp for bio-fuels. But all the talk is driven by the assumption that we will keep running WalMart, Disney World, and the interstate highway system just like we do now, only with other "alternative" liquid fuels.

The more naive members of the environmental sector have been suckered into this line of thinking, too -- especially the college kids, who imagine we can just divert x-amount of acreage from Cheez Doodle production and re-direct it to crops devoted to making liquid fuels for Honda Elements. They need to get some alt.brains.

Nobody is talking about the much more likely prospect that we'll have to reduce motoring drastically, and make other arrangements for virtually every aspect of daily life, from how we get food, to how we do business, to how we inhabit the landscape. The more we resist thinking about the larger agenda for comprehensively changing daily life, beyond our obsession with cars, the more likely we will veer into hardship, political trouble, and violence.
(26 June 2006)

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