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Peak oil - July 13

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Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage


Plenty of opinions about energy

Bill Virgin, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
For those hoping to make a lot of money quickly by writing a best-selling book and who figured that the market for "Harry Potter" and "Da Vinci Code" knockoffs was already tapped, here is some disappointing news:

You can also cross energy off your list of possible topics.

In a self-assigned reading project, your friendly neighborhood business columnist has spent the past few months sampling recent books about energy -- some read cover to cover, others perused or skimmed.

And after reviewing the assembled literature on one subject, one conclusion can be reached about books on energy:

There sure are a lot of them.

Given the volume of volumes, it's not surprising that they cover just about every angle and permutation of energy.

You can, for example, find a wealth of books that not only predict that we're all basically doomed, but also seem almost upbeat about the prospect, if it means a collapse of Western civilization and the loss of most vestiges of modern life. James Howard Kunstler's "The Long Emergency: Surviving the Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century" is replete with such cheery predictions as "the United States may not survive as a nation in any meaningful sense but rather will devolve into a set of autonomous regions" and "many of the suburban subdivisions will become the slums of the future."

In a similar vein, you could try "High Noon for Natural Gas: The New Energy Crisis" or "The Party's Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies" (cover illustration of a man holding a gas nozzle to the side of his head) by Richard Heinberg.

And if you think there's money to be made in everyone's misfortune, try Stephen Leeb's "The Coming Economic Collapse: How You Can Thrive When Oil Costs $200 a Barrel," which offers readers "your personal choice: insane wealth or pitiful poverty."
(11 July 2006)
It's a good sign that reporters are reading background material on energy. On the other hand, we need to avoid the mistakes the media made in covering climate change. In particular, we need to have informed coverage -- understanding the content of the opinions and making judgments about which are more reliable. -BA


Black Gold

Ed Bowsher, The Motley Fool
...I've been reading an interesting book which summarises some of the issues related to peak oil -- it's called Black Gold by George Orwel. Orwel isn't as pessimistic as Deffyes, he points out that big new fields are coming into production in Azerbaijan, Angola, Algeria, Nigeria and elsewhere. But he's not exactly optimistic either; he thinks the peak may come sometime in the decade following 2010.

If you think that's imprecise, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has said that oil production will peak between "2013 and 2037." So that's all clear then.

I think it's important not to get too bogged down in the peak oil debate. It's perfectly possible that geopolitical problems could mean that global oil production will fall in 2007 but then rises to a peak many years from now.

What's more, oil production could carry on rising but not fast enough to meet growing demand from China and India. After all, there doesn't appear to be much slack in the global oil marketplace right now. Global oil demand in 2005 was around 83m barrels a day (bopd) and production was only a bit higher at 84m bopd.

Political turbulence in, say, Venezuela and Iran could reduce production and only Saudi Arabia has significant spare capacity to make up the difference -- about 1.5m bopd, according to Orwel. Saudi may be able to raise production further from 2009 onwards, but some observers think that a big rise isn't practical regardless of what the Saudi government claims.

Orwel also reckons that oil demand is set to rise at quite a lick for many years ahead. He cites IEA forecasts which suggest that developing countries could push demand up to 121m bopd by 2030. China's demand is expected to double over 15 years to more than 10m bopd, half of current US demand. India's consumption is expected to rise nearly 30% over the next five years.

... If you'd like to make your own judgement, I recommend Orwel's book as an accessible starting point.
(11 July 2006)
An excerpt from Orwel's "Black Gold" has appeared in Energy Bulletin: Peak oil consequences: neglecting future problems is a failure of leadership.


Peak Oil and Energy Resources

Terry, Anarkismo
An outline of the main features of the politics of Energy Resources with a focus on the important issue of Peak Oil

...Well what you think happens depends on whether you are an optimist, pessimist or a realist. Unfortunately the realists tend to be hanging around the pessimists camp. The time to start and prepare was at least 30 years ago, but whatever we did can still have an influence. It has probably not gone unnoticed that the USA has gone for the oil grab and might is right technique. The trouble is the other superpowers like Russia and China are none too pleased.

An interesting general overview to consider is this: If in the collection of countries throughout the world, you wanted to raise the overall efficiency in the use of energy, then surely the best thing would be to remove the most profligate user of it from the picture. That of course would be the USA. Oil is traded in dollars and acts as subsidy to them and make oil cheap for them. Everyone wants to move out of trading in dollars and it is beginning to happen. Russia has already started, Norway is thinking of it. Chavez is thinking of it and Iran is ready but does not seem to have the staff of trader experience...

... the potential for widespread conflict and disruption is enormous and we have to be able to understand the situation in order to react to it. The history of the last century shows that the powers-that-be, capitalists, dictators, have proved to be extremely effective in herding their populations into war and getting them to fight them.
(13 July 2006)
From an anarchist website. So far in this article, the anarchist analysis of energy and peak oil does not differ much from other analyses. -BA


Independence Day 2006 – America's last fling?

Tom Whipple, Falls Church News-Press
The final reckoning isn’t in yet, but by early accounts we had a bang up 4 th of July this year. A record 40 million of us got into our cars, SUVs and pickups and went forth. We went to the beach, to the mountains, to grandma’s, to our national parks, to our state parks, to amusement parks. Anywhere there was a “destination” worth driving to, we went to it.

Three-dollar gasoline didn’t bother most of us one bit. Gasoline supplies were ample and so long as the pump still accepted the credit card, we had a great time. Here and there were a few dark clouds. Those lucky enough to own a large power boat with a 300+ gallon gas tank and a one-mile-per-gallon or less cruise speed, were reported to have been taken aback when boat fuel at the marina rose to $4 per gallon ($5 in Canada ). Many spent the weekend at anchor— just enjoying the view and pondering what it would be like to own a sailboat.

On July 5 we paid for our profligacy when the commodities markets, having learned we had gas-guzzled ourselves to a new consumption record and were showing few signs of easing up, sent the price of oil to over $75 a barrel— a new all-time high.

As we cross the halfway mark of 2006, it’s time for another quick review. Was this the last gas-guzzling 4 th or will Mother Nature let us get one or more under our belts before the inevitable year when many of us can no longer afford to drive in the manner to which we have become accustomed.

...Thus, the evidence seems to be mounting that from both the supply/demand/depletion perspective as well as several decaying geopolitical situations, Independence Day 2007 might involve much less freedom to travel than that one we just celebrated.
(13 July 2006)


Clinton gets peak oil and global warming
(AUDIO)
Original: "A conversation with Bill Clinton"
James Fallows, Minnesota Public Radio
Former President Bill Clinton was among the influential people to grace one of the stages of the Aspen Ideas Festival last week. He spoke on July 7 with "The Atlantic Monthly's" James Fallows.
(11 July 2006)
In this 54-minute video, ex-President Bill Clinton speaks strongly about peak oil and global warming:

3:30 - AIDS and Global Warming are two issues that look different to him than when he was in office.
5:45 - GW now appears more serious than it did to him earlier.
9:00 - 11:20 Peak oil and global warming

Spotted by Liatris at peakoil-dot-com.
-BA

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