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‘The real enemy is not peak oil, it’s resource nationalism’

Jerome a Paris, Daily Kos
…or so said both Le Monde and the Financial Times, the two leading European newspapers, over the week-end.

Eric Le Boucher, the resident (neo-liberal) economist of Le Monde wrote his most recent Saturday column about peak oil. I barely had the time to enjoy the fact that peak oil was even mentioned as such (and given an appropriate definition: the moment when oil production will start to inexorably decline) that the column moved in a totally unexpected direction: the only apparent problem with peak oil is that it has given the idea to oil producing governments that oil is – gasp – a weapon, and that they are going to use for unconscionable policy goals.

Meanwhile, the FT tells us that “US military sees oil nationalism spectre“.
Adapted from a European Tribune story.

Le Boucher states that the West (consuming countries) have the choice between two attitudes: The first one is to wage wars of aggression to protect ‘our’ resource. He wisely notes that the recent Iraq war has shown that this option is now essentially unavailable as it failed to improve oil production in Iraq, it generated more terrorism and created hate for the West. The second attitude is to “count on the wisdom” of the producing countries to keep on selling us the resource, avoid politicising it, and keep on receiving Western know how and investment.

Sadly, writes Le Boucher, nationalist policies by governments that closely control national oil companies and use them for ‘ugly’ geopolitical purposes (read: hostile and/or detrimental to Western oil majors) play against their populations and ultimately make them poorer (he bizzarely gives the examples of Venezuela, whose production, according to him, dropped by 48% since 1998 – the real number is less than 10%, from 3.2 to 3 mb/d, and Iran, whose production, he says, has dropped from 7mb/d to 4mb/d – when its production was 3.6mb/d in 1998).

He makes his own the suggestion by Mandelson (the EU Commissioner for trade and a close associate of Blair) to have oil subject to OMC rules and arbitration, which would prevent it from being used for political purposes, and concludes, grandly:

L’or noir verrait sans doute son beau statut dégradé mais ce serait in fine protéger les pays producteurs, lisez les peuples, des sottises glorieuses du nationalisme.

Black gold would lose its importance, but that would end up protecting producing countries, and their peoples, from the follies of nationalism.

Yes, the best way to protect poor countries from the corrupting effects of oil wealth and power is for them to give up that power, and hand it over to the Western companies


No mention that we might need to reduce our consumption. No mention that it is our own wasteful habits that put us in the position to depend on oil producing countries and hand them that purported power over us. No mention that the money is actually being spent to a large extent (like in Venezuela and Russia) on the helathcare and education of the poor in these countries. No mention that we have been exploiting these countries for decades, interfered in their internal affairs for just as long, encouraged corruption and graft, so long as the oil flowed to us, and never care about their populations.
(27 June 2006)

Greenhouse gases, ‘peak oil’ ruled out of order on offshore drilling legislation

Ben Geman, E&E Daily
Sponsors of offshore drilling legislation made several key changes last night in an attempt to gain votes today on the House floor, reducing the amount of federal production revenues steered toward coastal states and scrapping plans to cut royalties on shallow water oil and gas production.

Undeterred, several Florida members will seek greater coastal protections when the House debates the “Deep Ocean Energy Resources Act of 2006” today. They will offer an amendment to block leasing 125 miles from their shores.

Some amendments were not accepted by the committee. Rep. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) sought to offer a plan that creates a cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gas emissions, but that request was rejected.

Udall and Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.) also wanted to attach a “Sense of Congress” resolution calling for quick action to address “peak oil” through faster development of renewable fuels and other steps.

Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-N.Y.) told the committee that they should not report a rule at all, alleging the bill was undergoing changes too late to allow proper review.

“Members have not had a chance to read pretty significant legislation,” Boehlert said. “This is not the way to legislate.”

Boehlert spoke in the process of seeking Rules Committee permission to offer a floor amendment to increase vehicle fuel efficiency standards, but the measure was not ruled in order.
(29 June 2006)
The original article is behind a payway.
Related on offshore drilling:
Offshore drilling plan OKd in House (SF Chronicle)
House Passes Bill Ending Ban On Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling (Washington Post)

Kunstler interview

Schmelzer and Vander, WorldChanging
…James Howard Kunstler, Interviewed by Paul Schmelzer, writer and founder of the blog Eyeteeth, and Nick Vander Puy of
Superior Broadcast Network, Saturday, June 24, 2006.

Nick Vander Puy: Last week on NPR, chief executive officer of British Petroleum says this business about peak oil is just a bunch of Nervous Nellies.

James Howard Kunstler: As I’m fond of saying, if we could harness the energy
produced from guys like that blowing smoke up the public’s rear end, then we could
probably run the interstate highway system, Wal-mart, and Walt Disney World.

NVP: When we were traveling here from northern Wisconsin, we had to go through this
panorama of destruction and emptiness, which is all over America now. You’ve written
some wonderful and some very critical books about surburbia, and what you call the
“greatest misallocation of resources the world has known.” How did we get into this

JHK: It’s not that difficult to understand. In America, we had this fantastic endowment
of petroleum which was fairly easy to get. We knocked ourselves out in a couple of world
wars and a depression, and after that we decided we needed to give ourselves a present.
And the present we gave ourselves was an easy-motoring utopia, and then we
commenced to spend the second half of the 20th century building it. And that’s what we
did. The problem was, we didn’t figure how it was going to run when we had trouble
with our oil supply. We started to in 1973 with the OPEC embargo, and at that tiem
Aemrican oil production had peaked and we were able eto muddle through by importing
oil from other countries. But now the world is reaching it’s oil production peak, and we’re not going to be able to go to another planet to import oil. So that’s sort of the
nature of the problem.

NVP: How do people break through this collective trance? I was at a Wal-Mart hearing last
week. Lady comes in with a petition with 800 petitions in favor of Wal-Mart.

JHK: “We want Wal-Mart! We want Wal-Mart. We want bargain shopping.” We want
to throw our community in the garbage. Well, it’s very hard, and I don’t know that
there’s a great wish to break through the fog of misunderstanding and destruction. It may
take a period of hardship for the American public to gird its loins and make some
decisions about our behavior, and what our behavior is going to be like in the future, and
what kind of behavior are we going to continue and promote and subsidize? Because the
kind of behavior we’re promoting and subsidizing now—like, building more and more
suburbia so that we can keep the homebuilders busy—that’s not going to be working

NVP: Why is local important?

JHK: Local’s important because you have some control over your economic and
ecological destiny. And other people in distant places are not running your life and
running your economy. As Wendell Berry pointed out, the word economy comes from
the Greek word for home management. And managing your locality, your community, is
something better left to someone living in your community. You certainly want
commercial intercourse with people elsewhere, and you want to have trade and you want
to have those kinds of things, but I don’t think you want people living 12,000 miles away
running your life and destroying your community, which is what’s happening.
(24 June 2006)
Yet another Kunstler interview at Cascadia Weekly.

Al Gore speaks on peak oil and climate change
Charlie Rose Show
TV interview between the Charlie Rose discussing climate crisis, Al Gore’s new book and film “An Inconvenient Truth”. He mentioned peak oil in regard of the reason for the failed military policy in the Middle-East.

Some samples of what Gore said:

44:50 “We are either at or nearing, so-called peak oil.”

31:07 “Cheney made speaches in which he said the coming of peak oil – he might not used the exact phrase but the coming strategic competition for oil reserves means that the United States has to find a way to secure a strategically dominant position in influencing the future of the Persian Gulf reserves.
And he made these speaches long before he became vice-president.”

46:10 “Like the climate system our political system is non-linear. It can appear that it moves at a snail’s pace but then it crosses the tipping point and suddenly shift into a high gear – and make possible changes that are so dramatic they seem completely incomperhensible now. And there are lots of examples like that.”

See the video in Google Videos:
(19 June 2006)
Submitted by reader HC.