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Financial columnist Scott Burns on peak oil

Scott Burns, Dallas Morning News
Question: What is your take on some recent warnings about a coming economic crisis due to the escalating price of oil?…

Answer: You’ve got plenty of company in that worry.

Readers who want to get up to speed on the issue should Google “peak oil” and follow the links.

My personal belief, backed by having a 20 percent allocation to energy stocks in my personal investments, is that oil and natural gas are in a long period of supply/demand imbalance, with great vulnerability to the Middle East.

While the “peak oil” debate may go on for years, the bottom line is that the value of BTUs is going up relative to the value of paper currencies.

And this will continue for the foreseeable future, barring a global collapse from some other problem.

That doesn’t mean “the world as we now know it” is ending.

The cost of energy plays a far smaller role in our lives and economy than it did during the 1973 OPEC embargo.

As we did back then, we will slowly, reluctantly, adjust to rising energy prices by changing the vehicles we drive and making other changes in our energy consumption habits.

Even the alarmingly large crowd of people who would rather show off than conserve will change their habits when energy consumption becomes an instant indicator of stupidity and social indifference.
(14 Sep 2006)
Scott Burns is one of the best American columnists writing on personal finance and investment. -BA

Geophysicist Klaus Lackner on Fueling the Future

peakguy, The Oil Drum/NY
Last night I attended a lecture at a nice Upper West Side Restaurant by Geophysicist Klaus Lackner as part of Columbia University’s Cafe Science series of science talks. He got right into by saying that that we are running out of oil, have probably hit the peak or close to it. But, he added, but there are plenty of energy sources around – specifically coal, uranium and solar. The trick is transitioning now in a responible manner. And he thinks that the best way to do so it by taxing or capping carbon emissions and developing a real plan for nuclear waste disposal.

This lecture was geared for the well educated lay person so he offered generalities on major subjects with only vague estimates of the numbers involved. Below is a brief outline of his lecture…
(13 Sept 2006)

Roscoe Bartlett interview

Marc Strassman, etopiamedia
Roscoe Bartlett represents the 6th Congressional District of Maryland, which he calls a “a bright red district in an otherwise pretty dismal blue state, Maryland,” in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Congressman Bartlett founded the Congressional Peak Oil Caucus and works tirelessly to raise awareness of this issue among his Congressional colleagues and the general public.

According to the “Energy Update” page on his Congressional website, which contains links to important peak oil information:

“Congressman Bartlett is discussing how the U.S. can overcome the threat to America’s economic prosperity and national security posed by growing world demand for oil and consensus projections of future declines in world oil production. The following are a few publications and speeches that might be of interest.”

Congressman Bartlett appeared today as a guest on the Peak Oil/Global Warming Channel to talk about the issue of peak oil and what to do about it.
(13 Sept 2006)

A simpler way to calculate global oil reserves?

Roland Watson, New Era Investor
As I recently re-read some articles on the debate about global oil reserves, a thought struck about how one could arrive at a rough estimate for such a number.

…So I was considering the oil life of the United States of America. Here we have a large region with a mature post-peak profile plus a consistent and reliable set of production statistics. From this data set we can calculate cumulative production to date and make a good estimate of its ultimate recoverable resources. Also (though I say this as a non petro-geologist) I would hazard to guess that a landmass this size has a good representative sample of the various types and distributions of oil deposits commonly found across the world. In other words, the USA is a mirror of the oil profile of the entire world.
(13 Sept 2006)

Some insiders reject ‘peak-oil theory’

Bhushan Bahree and Jeffrey Ball, Wall Street Journal via Mail Tribune (S. Oregon)
Saudi official says more than a century’s worth of oil remains
Leading players in the petroleum industry, including Saudi Arabia and Exxon Mobil Corp., are aggressively arguing that plenty of crude oil remains for world consumption, in an effort to counter critics who contend crude output is about to plateau.

That argument, known as the peak-oil theory, has provided intellectual backing for the boom in crude prices and sowed doubts among some policy makers about crude’s long-term reliability as an energy source. Such doubts, coupled with concern over sky-high prices, have added impetus to the search for oil substitutes–including in Washington, where President Bush this year declared the U.S. “addicted to oil” and sparked a boom in interest in ethanol.

Some in the industry now are keen to fight the threat posed by such fears.
(14 Sep 2006)
As others including Robert Hirsch have noted, the costs of preparing ‘too soon’ are tiny compared to the costs of preparing too late.

Oil supply conjecture grips industry

Mike Sexton, 7:30 Report, Australain Broadcasting Corporation
KERRY O’BRIEN: Motorists around the country are enjoying welcome relief from high petrol prices with the cost of fuel easing in the past week – still high, though. The price fall follows a drop in world prices of almost $10 a barrel after the announcement of a massive oil discovery in the Gulf of Mexico. While it is a welcome impact on the hip pocket, the great fear, of course, is that in the end it just postpones the inevitable for a finite resource. The theory of peak oil suggests that the planet already has used more than half the reserves and so in the near future demand for oil will inevitably outstrip supply. That Doomsday view was challenged this week by the Australian boss of Exxonmobil who believes there’s been an over reaction to high oil prices and that there are still enormous reserves of oil and gas. But the record high prices paid for oil this year have created an urgency within the industry, as companies big and small look to cash in. Mike Sexton reports.

MIKE SEXTON: Each day more than 80 million barrels of oil goes up in smoke. It’s estimated 1 trillion barrels of oil have been burnt since the first cars hit the road, leaving many to ask just how much is left.

DON HENRY, AUSTRALIAN CONSERVATION FOUNDATION: There’s very good science out there that says particularly for oil we may be at peak or we may be coming up to it.

MIKE SEXTON: The peak oil theory suggests at one point the world will have used more than half the oil and future demand will outstrip supply, leading to dramatic changes to our society. But big oil isn’t buying it.

MARK NOLAN, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, EXXONMOBIL AUSTRALIA: These peak oil theories have been around since the 1920s, particularly in times of high oil prices. Our view is that the world has abundant energy resources and that there is no peak oil theory of value. …

DON HENRY, AUSTRALIAN CONSERVATION FOUNDATION: Exxonmobil is a global vandal. They’ve invested millions of dollars in to trying to confuse the public and muddy the science on climate change. They’re a big global greenhouse polluter and they have ruthlessly pursued short-term profits at the expense of the planet.
(14 Sep 2006)
Don Henry draws the comparisson between ExxonMobil’s climate change denials and peak oil denials. Otherwise, not too much new here, except the question of what Mark Nolan might mean by “there is no peak oil theory of value.” How does a lack of a particular peak oil theory of value make peak oil any less relevant? Should value even be quantifiable? Actually there is one quantifiable theory of value which comes more or less packaged with peak oil analysis. It is more grounded in ecological/physical realities than monetary systems of value or labour theories of value – it’s called embodied energy. Said H.T. Odum, “embodied energy is a measure of value, in one of the meanings of the word ‘value'”. However, as the eMergy Wikipedia article points out, many people regard “the arts, qualitative aesthetics, and spiritual systems of value as incommensurable with rational scientific systems of quantitative value measurement and prediction.”

So Nolan’s comment is neither precisely true, nor I expect, even supposed to be particularly meaningful. By saying things which don’t obviously make sense but sound like they should, he may be using a rhetorical method of disempowering opponents, by alluding to a supposedly more sophisticated understanding, whether or not that understanding actually exists.

Video: Yu Koyo Peya

Tyler Kimble, The Anthropik Network
Jason Godesky wrote:

…Yu Koyo Peya is a really incredible documentary, featuring an original interview Kimble conducted with John Zerzan. It explores peak oil, collapse, and the opportunities that opens up in such a powerful way that we often point to it as the most succinct, stirring example of what Anthropik is all about that we could really ask for. All credit for the video has to go to the amazingly talented Tyler Kimble.
(14 Sep 2006)
John Zerzan is an anarchist and primitivist philosopher. The video runs for 23 minutes.