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When the Oil Supply Runs Out

Alfred Cavallo, Science Magazine
The article “The looming oil crisis could arrive uncomfortably soon” (R. A. Kerr, News of the Week, 20 Apr., p. 351 is far too equivocal in its discussion of such a vital topic, noting first that the most likely scenario is a resource-constrained peak by 2020, then that political factors must be taken into account in a discussion of peak oil production, and finally concluding that there is so much uncertainty that “predicting the peak may not be worthwhile.”

Much, but not all, of the political uncertainty regarding production rates can be captured by partitioning conventional oil extraction into OPEC and non-OPEC components. This has been done by ExxonMobil and others; ExxonMobil has concluded that non-OPEC production will peak by 2010. On the basis of this forecast, ExxonMobil has publicly stated that it will build no new refineries, presumably because the crude supplies needed may not be available from OPEC producers. The high and rapidly fluctuating U.S. gasoline prices currently being experienced are due in large part to a shortage of domestic refinery capacity, so that we are in fact already feeling the effects of an imminent non-OPEC peak.

Recently, Ecuador rejoined OPEC, and Angola has also become a member. Over the next two or three years, it will become clear that crude oil is indeed a finite resource, and we will be forced to adapt to much higher petroleum prices as India and China continue to expand their automobile and airline fleets. Fortunately, there are many ways to cope with this new state of affairs, first and foremost by embracing energy efficiency and conservation not as virtues for the elite, but as urgent and universal national goals.

Alfred Cavallo
Energy Consultant
Princeton, NJ, USA

A. Cavallo, Nat. Resources Res. 11 (no. 3), 187 (2002).
M. Rogers, Oil Gas J., 8 Nov. 2004, p. 16.
A. Cavallo, “World oil production: focus on non-OPEC supplies,” World Oil, April 2006, p. 103.
A. Shihab-Eldin, M.Hamel, G. Brennand, Oil Outlook to 2025, OPEC Review Paper (2004).
(18 May 2007)
The article discussed by Dr. Alfred Cavallo is online at Energy Bulletin: The looming oil crisis could arrive uncomfortably soon.

Review: The 11th Hour (Documentary)

Justin Chan, Variety
True to its doom-laden title, global-warming doc “The 11th Hour” presents the viewer with reams of depressing data, loads of hand-wringing about the woeful state of humanity and, finally, some altogether fascinating ideas about how to go about solving the climate crisis. Co-produced and narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio, this latest exercise in celebrity eco-activism lacks the personal touch that helped “An Inconvenient Truth” go green at the box office, but auds might warm to its layered insights and polished presentation, given careful nurturing by Warner Independent and effective showcasing as an educational tool.

DiCaprio and first-time helmer s1222111ist 33ers Leila Conners Petersen and Nadia Conners scripted the film’s text — an earnest, sometimes clunkily verbose set of warnings about the dire state of the planet, which DiCaprio more or less recites at the camera. Narration is supplemented by a rapidly edited flood of devastating images that show not just meteorological phenomena such as tidal waves and Hurricane Katrina, but also shots of more basic signifiers of human greed — deforestation, a bloody slaughterhouse, fishermen draining the ocean of its wildlife and rush-hour traffic in downtown Los Angeles.

Docu’s thesis, that mankind’s insensitivity to the environment, consumption of limited resources and over-reliance on fossil fuels will soon make the planet uninhabitable for future generations, should by now (hopefully) come as nothing new to viewers.

But the dizzying assemblage of talking heads (among them Stephen Hawking, Mikhail Gorbachev, science reporter Andy Revkin and heads of environmental orgs such as Lester Brown, Tim Carmichael and Wes Jackson), all well-spoken and at times prone to philosophizing, turn “The 11th Hour” into a ruminative essay on what it means to be human in a scarce world.
(20 May 2007)

Interview with maker Crude – the incredible journey of oil

Robin Williams, ABC National
Richard Smith describes the making of Crude – the incredible journey of oil. The television documentary [to screen on 24th May] charts the path of a typical carbon atom, circulating in the biosphere. It becomes trapped deep beneath the earth as part of an oil deposit, before being pumped out and burnt, returning to the biosphere.

The documentary looks at the consequences of humans burning the world’s oil supplies, with rising oil prices as demand increases and the resource becomes increasingly scarce, the effects on the economy, and the consequences of the extra carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere.
(19 May 2007)
Interview rambles through carbon cycle before asserting that we’re ‘clearly about half way through [oil reserves]’ and getting grim. Smith identifies climate and oil depletion as the major issues, heard no advocacy apart from alarm.-LJ

New PO newsletter from NL: Oilwatch Monthly

Rembrandt Koppelaar, The Oil Drum: Europe
To aid and inform interested people and especially analysts worldwide I have decided to start a monthly newsletter which tracks oil production and stock levels called oilwatch monthly. Many people have no clue about which countries have already peaked or which countries are still on the upslope.

I frequently meet people working in the energy discipline in the Netherlands who for instance do not know that production in the North Sea has been declining rapidly since 2000. This newsletter will cover as a basis monthly and quarterly data from the latest freely available Oil Market Report of the International Energy Agency, the Short Term Energy Outlook of the Energy Information Administration, and in future versions the Oil, Gas, Coal & Electricity – Quarterly Statistics of the International Energy Agency, in which a clear division between conventional, natural gas liquids and unconventional oil production is published. In the next edition I intend to add a better division between (conventional) crude oil and all liquids where possible.

For now, enjoy the first issue with 14 pages of graphs of production levels sorted out per region, the aggregrate production of the world and stock levels in Europe and the United States: (PDF size 3.5 megabyte). Feel free to use this newsletter in writing and communication as long as you cite me (Rembrandt Koppelaar), TOD, and ASPO Netherlands.
(20 May 2007)

ODAC News- May 20

Doug Low, Oil Depletion Analysis Centre

1a/ Central Asia: Russian, Turkmen, Kazakh Leaders Agree On Caspian Pipeline (RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty, Sat 12 May)
1b/ Russia: Energy Summit Gives Putin New Trump Card (RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty, Wed 16 May)
2/ Meeting the food security challenge through organic agriculture (FAO Newsroom, Thu 03 May)
3a/ Iran Gasoline Price Hikes, Rationing System Scheduled In May (Middle East Economic Survey, Mon 07 May)
3b/ Interesting headlines from MEES newsletter (Middle East Economic Survey, Mon 07 May)
4a/ Coalition to invest billions to save energy (International Herald Tribune, Wed 16 may)
4b/ Britain to Set Out Radical Energy, Planning Revamp (Planet Ark, Fri 18 May)
5/ UES Wants More Gas (FC Novosti, Tue 15 May)
6a/ Hamish McRae: Let us hope a 7 per cent interest rate is a bridge too far (The Independent, Thu 17 May)
6b/ Bernanke joins critics of ‘high-risk’ bank lending (The Times, Fri 18 May)
7a/ 350th North Sea field approved [UK] (Sustainable Energy Policy Network (SEPN) newsletter, April 2007)
7b/ Energy statistics (Sustainable Energy Policy Network (SEPN) newsletter, April 2007)
8/ Peak Oil and the British National Party (BNP, May 2007)

ODAC has some background on the recent spate of peak oil articles from the BNP:
Comment: The BNP (British National Party, far right political group) seem to have been triggered in to another bout of Peak Oil articles by the recent Peak Oil article in the Daily Mail. As of today, there are three Peak Oil articles:…

In terms of UK political parties, the BNP certainly are way ahead of the pack on the Peak Oil crisis. It is bizarre that the main political parties ignore the problem, while the BNP recognise the implications very clearly:
(20 May 2007)
See original for links and commentary.

Expert: “Peak oil” will force changes

Rob Zaleski, Madison Capital Times
Optimist that he is, Greg Pahl actually sees an upside to the latest jump in fuel prices: the growing realization among Americans that the gas crisis isn’t going away.

“And those who do think this is a temporary anomaly are dreaming,” the author and renewable energy expert said in a phone interview from his home in Weybridge, Vt. “They don’t understand what we’re getting into here. This is just the beginning.”

Indeed, Pahl maintains that the most critical — and under-reported — issue facing the world right now is that we’re approaching the time of “peak oil,” the historic moment when world oil production and reserves begin to decline.

Pahl, who will give a speech on the subject at 7 p.m. June 20 at the Madison Public Library, points out that nobody — not even oil company moguls — knows precisely when that moment will occur.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration continues to predict that oil production will peak around 2037. “But almost nobody takes that seriously anymore,” Pahl says.

…Fortunately, we do have some options, says Pahl, whose new book, “The Citizen-Powered Energy Handbook,” points out that many of the renewable energy systems and technologies we need already exist and are waiting to be rediscovered “if only we have the will, the courage and the wisdom to use them.”
(21 May 2007)