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Gazprom City – the new Ozymandias?

Steven Lee Myers, The New York Times
ST. PETERSBURG, Russia – Gazprom City, a proposed complex of stylish modern buildings that evoke, among other things, a gas-fueled flame, a strand of DNA and a lady’s high-heeled shoe, would sit on a historic site on the Neva River here, opposite the Baroque, blue-and-white Smolny Cathedral.

…And while the site is seven miles from the very center of the city, they argue that Gazprom City’s main tower would be visible from almost any point, destroying what Aleksandr D. Margolis, the head of the Charitable Fund for the Saving of Petersburg and Leningrad, said was an architectural harmony that had been largely unaltered for nearly three centuries.

…Gazprom, though, has certain advantages that make a skyscraper appear inevitable despite the public outcry. Not least are its ties to the Kremlin and the fact it is the world’s fourth largest company, with a capitalization of more than $250 billion.

…One irony, not lost on some, is that the city’s voters no longer have the right to choose their governor, since Mr. Putin abolished direct elections for regional leaders in 2004. Nor can they vote “against all,” a ballot choice eliminated from Russian elections this year.
(28 Nov 2006)
The photos at the original article are jaw-dropping – visions of modern-day Pyramids hastily thrown up, marking the end of the Age of Oil. One thinks of Britain’s Millenium Dome, the largest dome in the world, constructed just about the time that the UK was moving from an fuel-exporting to an fuel-importing country. Shelley’s poem “Ozymandias” also comes to mind:

I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said — “two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert … near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lips, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings,
Look on my Works ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

–Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)


Reflections on “The Prize”

Heading Out, The Oil Drum
The PBS Series based on “The Prize” was made in 1993, just after the first Gulf War. The final episode, which I have just watched, dealt with a look, from that time, into the future and the 21st Century. Some 13 years later it is interesting to watch that tape and see where we have, and have not, made progress.

The final episode dwelt much more on the impact of the oil economy on the environment than on the history of the industry, which was the original point of the book and the focus of the earlier seven episodes. A somewhat younger Jeremy Leggett discussed the threats that oil and the pollution that it caused held for the future of the world. (The burning oilfields of Kuwait provided a dramatic emphasis).

White Knights was the only Western Oil Company drilling in Siberia, to help the Former Soviet Union bring back it’s oil industry, one that was in truly bad shape. (And the cooperation of the native tribes of the Yamal Peninsula could be had for the price of 10 snow-mobiles. How times have changed !) And the then Chairman of Shell, the largest oil company at the time, promised that they would be around for a long time into the future.

There was just one, almost missed, reference to the fact that, as American oil had peaked, so would world oil production. It came from the past President of ARCO, and was given no real emphasis in the program.
(2 Dec 2006)
See comments at the original for a good discussion of the book, and further book recommendations.

Nate Hagens on “The Reality Report”
Jason Bradford, Global Public Service
Former Wall Street researcher and investments manager Nate Hagens discusses the recent Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas USA conference in Washington DC.

Nate Hagens is a former Wall Street researcher and investments manager and has an MBA from University of Chicago. He is completing his doctoral studies at the University of Vermont’s Gund Institute for Ecological Economics and he’s also a contributor for The Oil Drum, an online source for news, analysis and discussions about energy and our future. On this edition of “The Reality Report” Nate discusses the recent Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas USA conference in Washington DC. Jason Bradford hosts the Reality Report on KZYX&Z in Mendocino County, CA.
(20 Nov 2006)

Peak oil to peak gas is a short ride

Andrew McKillop, Financial Sense Online
Decreasing oil supplies and increasing gas supplies are interdependent and interlinked, but this is not a case of “One goes up if the other goes down”. The reason is Peak Oil and a rapid shift away from ‘conventional oil’ to lighter fossil hydrocarbons in the oil-and-gas mix: around 15% to 20% of world oil is today, in fact, gas-based and gas-related, described by terms such as NGL and condensates, that is natural gas liquids that are condensed, with the gas usually reinjected to maintain reservoir pressure or thrown away by venting or flaring.

…Peak Oil precedes Peak Gas, but the time interval between the two is not ‘canonical’ or fixed, exactly like the division of ‘associated’ gas and ‘unassociated’ or ‘stranded’ gas – the first being associated with oil production, the second not. How fast we arrive at Peak Gas, or a permanent decline in net total gas production and supply will depend on how gas/oil tradeoffs are made, driven by relative prices and other factors, especially the cost and time needed to build gas gathering and recovery infrastructures for ‘associated’ gas, and new, almost exclusively LNG or liquefied natural gas infrastructures for ‘stranded’ gas.
(29 Nov 2006)

Peak Oil Passnotes: We Were on the Money

Edward Tapamor,
As Resource Investor has been pointing out for some time a breakout in the crude oil market has had to come. Finally the data from the United States, combined with the cold weather in the northern Americas, has woken the market to the fundamentals.

That is that gasoline stocks in the United States – once presumed to at “record highs” – have slumped by 80% in just seven weeks. The momentum has all been about a draw down in the distillate stocks for the United States.

The power of the U.S. market to propel the rest of the world’s prices is now unquestionable. We can only wonder at why the United States has been using so much gasoline but it is no doubt in part down to the effects of global warming. Nice autumns mean more day trips, more visits to the zoo or the park. And more trips to the pump.

Pressure on refinery capacity in the United States is also without doubt. The country is short on gasoline and needs extra capacity it cannot or will not build. There are expansions coming on the market but the growth in demand is unlikely to be sated without a recession.
(1 Dec 2006)

UK oil production continues decline annual maintenance

Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA)
Britain’s North Sea oil and gas production continued its decline in September despite the completion of annual summer maintenance work.

According to the latest monthly index from the Royal Bank of Scotland, oil output was up 10 per cent compared with August to 1.3 million barrels per day, but was still down 17 per cent on the same month last year.

Similarly natural gas production, which is also in decline, fell by 16 per cent compared to a year ago to 6.9 billion cubic feet per day despite increasing by 28 per cent following maintenance.

In August, both oil and gas production recorded seasonal lows despite strong investment and increased activity caused by record prices.

Crude oil production alone, which has been in decline for the past five years, has now fallen by nearly 400,000 bpd, equivalent to more than 20 per cent, since the beginning of 2006.

Fears are also about the impact of the declining dollar, which has almost reached two to the pound, as oil prices have come down from recent highs of more than 70 dollars per barrel.

But while there is concern about the effect on oil revenues, which fell to Pnds 43 million a day in August, the bank report said that the falling dollar had subdued prices for the consumer much more in the UK than in the US.
(2 Dec 2006)