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Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage

Study Sees Harmful Hunt for Extra Oil

Carola Hoyos, Financial Times via Common Dreams
All the world’s extra oil supply is likely to come from expensive and environmentally damaging unconventional sources within 15 years, according to a detailed study.

This will mean increasing reliance on hard-to-develop sources of energy such as the Canadian oil sands and Venezuela’s Orinoco tar belt.

A report from Wood Mackenzie, the Edinburgh-based consultancy, calculates that the world holds 3,600bn barrels of unconventional oil and gas that need a lot of energy to extract.

So far only 8 per cent of that has begun to be developed, because the world has relied on easier sources of oil and gas.

Only 15 per cent of the 3,600bn is heavy and extra-heavy oil, with the rest being even more challenging.

The study makes clear the shift could come sooner than many people in the industry had expected, even though some major conventional oil fields will still be increasing their production in 2020. Those increases will not be enough to offset the decline at other fields.

…The increasing reliance on unconventional oil will require a substantial reshaping of the energy industry.

…the challenge is huge, said Matthew Simmons, an industry banker who sent shock waves through the oil world when he questioned whether Saudi Arabia, the most important oil source, would be able to continue to expand production.

“The ability to extract this heavy oil in significant volumes is still non-existent,” he said in a recent speech.

“Worse, it takes vast quantities of scarce and valuable potable water and natural gas to turn unusable oil into heavy low-quality oil.”

“In a sense, this exercise is like turning gold into lead,” Mr Simmons said.
(19 Feb 2007)

China’s liquid fuels future

Rembrandt, The Oil Drum: Europe
How are the 1.3 billion Chinese going to cope with their growing needs for energy?

Can the increase in Chinese liquid fuel consumption be maintained? Even in the face of a nearby world oil production peak? Or will China have to cope with a liquid fuel crisis in the near term future? This post focuses on whether China will or will not be able to meet their increasing demand for liquid fuels until 2015.

The increase in Chinese oil consumption in the past years is mostly seen as a recent development, supposedly driven by the industrial development of China. In reality, the growth in Chinese oil consumption has been the same in the past two decades. Between 1990 and 1999 annual oil consumption growth in China was 6% on average. Between 2000 and 2006 the average annual oil consumption growth in China was 7%. Also the 2004 anomaly of 13% growth in a single year is nothing new. In 1993 Chinese oil consumption growth happened to be 10%.

This misconception of Chinese oil consumption growth is a typical example of underestimating the power of exponential growth.

…From the look of things, it seems that China is in pretty good shape thanks to their aggressive coal to liquids program and foreign policy which has led to an increasing supply of imported oil. While this will come with an environmental pricetag to future generations, the need for liquid fuels in the short term is vastly higher than the environmetal damage caused by the usage of fossil fuels.
(19 Feb 2007)
I think I would dispute the last sentence. Just as in other countries, the growth in Chinese fossil fuel use is for for luxury goods (e.g. cars) and the construction of an unsustainable infrastructure. This is not need. In contrast, the costs to China from global warming may be closer and higher than previously though: Rising sea levels present China with ‘unimaginable challenges’:

Shanghai, Guangzhou and other large coastal cities in China could face “unimaginable challenges” if global warming continues and the oceans keep rising, state media has said.

A report released recently by the State Oceanic Administration has warned of a rapid rise in sea levels that threatens China’s densely populated east coast, the China Daily reported.

“The speed is astonishing,” said Lu Xuedu, the deputy director of the environmental division of the Ministry of Science and Technology.

“Coastal cities including Shanghai and Guangzhou will confront unimaginable challenges if the situation deteriorates,” he told the paper.


Homer-Dixon talk
Thomas Homer-Dixon, World Affairs Council of Northern California
The Upside of Down: Leveraging Catastrophe for Positive Change
From the rise and fall of the Roman empire, to the devastation of the 9/11 attacks; from the slums of the megacities in Latin America and Asia, to ground zero of the SARS outbreak in Toronto and Hong Kong; we are, says Thomas Homer-Dixon, on course for breakdown. Simply managing our problems is no longer good enough. As population, energy, environmental, and economic stresses build in force deep underneath our societies, as our technologies grow more complex and interconnected, and as events in one place increasingly cause effects that cascade around the planet, major system failure becomes more likely. But rather than giving up in despair, we must embrace this possibility as an opportunity for revolutionary change. By adopting a “prospective mind” – a mindset adapted to constant surprise and instability – we can create something new from the unexpected, and something useful from turmoil and crisis.

Thomas Homer-Dixon, Director, Trudeau Centre for the Study of Peace and Conflict, University of Toronto
(9 Nov 2006)
Homer-Dixon mentions peak oil several times. Hat tip to Dryki at The Oil Drum

Resilience and Civilization, Part 1: Long interview with Homer-Dixon. Part 2
Is the Deadly Crash of Our Civilization Inevitable?: Interview at Alternet
Managing the Future (good comments from TPM cafe on the previous interview at Alternet) -BA

50 peak oil videos online from Peak Moment TV

Janaia Donaldson, Peak Moment Television
Peak Moment Television now has 50 videos online to watch or listen at

Peak Moment: Community Responses for a Changing Energy Future is a television series emphasizing positive responses to energy decline and climate change through local community action. Some recent programs are:

42 Yes! Building a Just, Sustainable, and Compassionate World
44 The Small-Mart Revolution with Michael Shuman, author of Going Local
46 Business Alliance for Local Living Economies
48 A Defining Moment in Human History with David Korten, author of The Great Turning

Some energy- and peak oil-related programs include:
31 The Portland Peak Oil Task Force
41 San Luis Obispo’s Smart Energy Summit
47 The San Francisco Peak Oil Resolution
27 Learning from Cuba’s Response to Peak Oil with Megan Quinn of The Community Solution
29 An Island Eyes Energy Independence
10 Waking Up to Peak Oil

These half-hour video conversations and on-site tours highlight individuals, businesses, organizations and communities working towards sustainability and economic localization: How can we thrive, build self-reliant communities, and help one another in the transition from a fossil fuel-based lifestyle?

The series is cablecast on community access TV stations nationwide and are available on DVD. Peak Moment is hosted and produced by Janaia Donaldson and directed by Robyn Mallgren of Yuba Gals Independent Media, Nevada City, California, who gratefully acknowledge Global Public Media and YouTube for hosting media available on

Info: janaia-at-peakmoment-dot-tv
(Feb 2007)
More on the people behind Peak Moment Television. -BA

Peak Oil: need scriptwriters, video editors

ResponsibleAccountable, Daily Kos
We are putting together a documentary video on the topic of Peak Oil – have initial drafts with (with a good writer – not me – but we cannot do it all ourselves) – and I could do with adding brains on this. It is essential and consistent with the aims of this community that this message gets out there as effectively as possible… even if you don’t know much about it today – that’s fine.

So if you are interested in helping frame the narrative (again, we’ll bring you up to speed on the issues if you don’t already know them) or if you are experienced in video/sound editing – or if you are keen and prepared to do the grunt work of research (digging out clips, quotes and fact checking) please get in touch – simplest way is just to post below. If you have any thoughts or ideas to include, post below. Summary of the issue in main text.
(18 Feb 2007)