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Peak oil - Oct 3

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Slippery slope

David Strahan, The Guardian
More and more oil executives maintain that there are just a few years left before production reaches its peak, and that we are sleepwalking into economic catastrophe.
---
The Irish chapter of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil (Aspo) could hardly have wished for better. Last week, on the first day of Aspo's recent conference in Cork, the oil price obliged by striking a new all-time high. And in the following days it struck three more in a row.

This was no mere serendipity. The price has since drifted a little, but at the time of going to press remains around $8o a barrel. That is an eightfold increase in less than a decade, and several analysts now forecast $100 oil by the end of next year. All of which reflects not only the usual short-term vicissitudes of the oil market - hurricanes, Iran, trouble in the Niger Delta - but also the gnawing realisation that global oil production is approaching some fundamental geological limits.

For many years, the idea that global oil production will soon start to fall, with potentially catastrophic economic consequences, has languished on the fringes of the environmental debate, with nothing like the recognition of climate change, and shunned by the industry itself. But when the history is written, 2007 is likely to go down as the year the issue of peak oil production went mainstream. In Cork, the former US energy secretary, James Schlesinger, used his keynote speech to tell delegates that they were no longer a tiny minority crying in the wilderness: "You can declare victory . . . and prepare to take yes for an answer."

It was a bold claim, but true.
(3 October 2007)
Also posted on Strahan's web site.


The Oil Crunch:
The Other Monster Under Our Bed
(PDF)
Lou Grinzo, personal website
An introduction to our growing oil problem and what we can do about it.

[Slides to accompany a talk on peak oil.]

Lou Grinzo is an economist by training, programmer, technical editor, and writer by profession, and energy geek by genetic predisposition.
(20 September 2007)
UPDATE (Oct 4, 2007): Corrected typo - "profession" should have been "predisposition."


Randy Udall stepping down as CORE director

Sarah Gilman , Aspen Daily News
After 13 years of dedicated service as the director of the Community Office of Resource Efficiency [CORE], energy expert Randy Udall is stepping down to pursue his own projects.

"It's been fun," Udall said of his time with the local nonprofit, which promotes renewable energy, energy efficiency and green building techniques in the Roaring Fork Valley. "I've learned a lot and I feel blessed to have been able to work with the people in this valley that I've been able to work with."

During his tenure at CORE, Udall spearheaded several projects dubbed "visionary" by his colleagues, including CORE's recent purchase of 20,000 tons of carbon offsets generated by a system designed to collect methane, a potent greenhouse gas, venting from the Aberdeen Coal Mine near Price, Utah. That project, which backs the carbon offsets sold by Aspen's new zGreen tags program, will provide annual cuts in carbon emissions roughly equal to pulling 110,000 cars from the road, or building a $300 million wind farm, according to a CORE press release.

With the help of local energy expert Joni Matranga and Aspen's chief building official Steven Kanipe, Udall developed the Renewable Energy Mitigation Project and ferried it through city and county approvals in 1999. The "Robin Hood" fund created by that program, which draws fees from big energy users who install things like heated outdoor pools and driveway snowmelt systems, has provided millions of dollars in grants for hundreds of local renewable energy, energy efficiency and other projects over the last several years, including the purchase of carbon offsets from Aberdeen. The REMP program was recently a finalist for the prestigious Harvard Innovations in Government Award.

Udall was also instrumental in helping Holy Cross Energy develop its Wind Pioneers program, which allows locals to purchase wind power.

"Interest in climate change and energy has just exploded," Udall said. Roaring Fork Valley communities, and Aspen in particular, are starting to set aggressive goals for cutting their greenhouse gas emissions, but "it's clear we're not going to reach those goals unless we dramatically scale up our efforts. CORE is ripe for a second chapter," he said. "But I think someone else should lead that chapter."

... Udall said he will officially step down before fall ends. After that, he looks forward to taking on "odd energy jobs" and focusing on his work with the Association for the Study of Peak Oil-USA, an organization that he co-founded. He said he also plans to focus on writing projects on energy and energy policy, speaking engagements and possibly his brother, Rep. Mark Udall's (D-Colo.), 2008 Senate campaign.
(2 October 2007)


Peak Oil 2005? 2007? 2010? 2012? Who the Heck Cares?

Sharon Astyk, Casaubon's Book
Ok, I'm about to pick on ASPO again. I can't help it. First there was my reaction to the conference schedule, which looks exactly like last year's conference schedule, and (here I suspect I can save some people the cost of a flight to Houston) can be summed up as "Peak Oil is Real Soon Now." Then there's the conference theme, "A Time to React?" With a question mark on the end??!? Are these people out of their minds? I tried so hard not to pick on them any more - after all, we're on the same side. But that question mark pushed me over the edge...

...Looking over the list of panels, virtually all of them focus on one of three things.

The first is whether peak oil was Yesterday, is Tomorrow or next Thursday. Now this sounds like very important work, and is important if you have millions invested in oil wells, run India, or run Shell. To anyone else, it is largely a matter of complete and utter irrelevance. The reality is that real people are already experiencing the costs of peak oil - for example, it is the end of cheap oil that has led to the biofuels boom and to my grocery bill going haywire.

...The second thing ASPO focuses on is making sure that rich people get to stay rich in a volatile market. If you have a few million dollars to invest in oil wildcatting, ASPO is the place to go. If you want to know which big businesses will boom in solar technology and biofuels, check out ASPO!
(2 October 2007)


Crude awakening

Sarah Phillips, The Guardian
Sarah Phillips asks why aren't more people talking about the imminent oil supply crisis?
---
"2007 is likely to go down as the year peak oil went mainstream", predicts David Strahan on the environment pages in today's Guardian

Strahan's book The Last Oil Shock is likely to play a part in instigating such discussions about the impending oil supply crisis. As is A Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash, a powerful Swiss documentary on peak oil, which finally gets a UK cinema release next month.

In a similar vein to An Inconvenient Truth, the film, which is a collaboration between broadcast journalist, Basil Gelpke, and TV producer, Ray McCormack, and is both shocking and compelling.

Initially the pair worked on a film about global warming simultaneously. When they learned of Al Gore's project, they decided to stick with oil. The filmmakers have joked that all that is missing from their film is Gore himself. As McCormack explained to me when I met him in London earlier on this year: "It's a lot easier to bring a documentary to the attention of the public if you have a well known figure in front of the camera and sadly we don't have that, so we're at a bit of a disadvantage."

Taking part in the film for McCormack, a self-confessed "greenie", was a no-brainer. Already living his principles - he has not owned a car for 13 years and is a member of a 40,000 strong car pool in Switzerland, where he lives - this was the perfect opportunity to spread the word.

Nevertheless A Crude Awakening is an impressive documentary in its own right and has achieved a great deal already without a big name on the poster. It has been screened at numerous festivals, was seen on general release in Canada and Switzerland and is scheduled to be shown on television in several countries, including America.

Reactions to the film have been overwhelmingly positive.

...But despite there being an alarming lack of awareness about peak oil, there are an increasing number of people from varying sides of the political spectrum who are not only aware of the problem at hand, but prepared to speak openly about it. One surprise of A Crude Awakening is the amount of conservative voices gladly stepping forward to share their views on the debate. These range from a Republican congressman, an energy advisor to George Bush and a former Iraqi oil minister. The only eco-warrior is the hugely entertaining, Matthew Savinar, founder of lifeaftertheoilcrash.net

On the subject of Iraq, McCormack makes it clear that he feels peak oil is very much a political issue: "Most people now can see that one of the reasons for going into Iraq was to secure oil. When a country has only a few percent of the world's oil reserves and consumes 22% of the world's oil reserves, their decision to invade a country that is rich in oil has to be part of their geopolitical strategy and not purely to bring democracy to a country that will be impossible to democratise."

As the film proves, oil may be an intrinsic part of our present and future, but why aren't more people talking about it?
(3 October 2007)


Film review - A Crude Awakening: the oil crash

Emma and Mary, Environmental Graffiti
The consensus from our two reviewers is: go and see this film, it’s worth the trip to the cinema, but walk, don’t run.
---
Emma: Less of an awakening, more of a gentle nudge - with the possibility of a full English (and only then if the café’s still open).

Basil Gelpke and Ray McCormick present the history, and future, of the oil industry in just 83 minutes, alongside quirky archive footage and breathtaking landscape shots. Although not a film to stir one’s loins into an allotment, certainly a bleak enough take on the oil crisis to send the average punter screaming to the high street to open a savings account.

A Crude Awakening opens with the blood (oil) of the world on its hands. Emotive statements and a nostalgic look back at the naivety of human race leads us into shocking statistics, and a clear finger pointing to all of us. What follows is a grim, and irredeemable, image of the future - a future set to take hold within our lifetimes.

A Crude Awakening bats at a higher level than most environmental films, partly due to its heavy hitting talking heads. From a former Exxon consultant to the director of Shell, the men in the know finally talk candidly about the future of our love affair with the black stuff.

An informative and hard edged film, but not a unique or charismatic one...

Mary: It’s necessary to avoid thinking about certain problems, because they can’t sit comfortably with modern life. It’s clearly wrong that many people across the world are whilst those of us fortunate enough to live in an affluent industrial nation have more than enough to eat, but the scale of the problem is so overwhelming that it’s necessary to ignore it for a comfortable existence.

The world’s dwindling oil supply fits neatly into this category: we all know in the back of our minds somewhere that resources are finite and that our current oil-dependent lifestyles can’t last forever, but it’s far easier to push the thought aside and reach for another (plastic) cup of (imported) coffee than it is to engage with the problem.
(3 October 2007)


ODAC News - Wednesday 03 Oct

Douglas Low, Oil Depletion Analysis Centre
Rising Fuel Costs – Burma / Globally
1a/ Costly Fuel Is Never Far From a Match (NY Times, Sat 30 Sep)
1b/ The hardship that sparked Burma's unrest (BBC News, Tue 02 Oct)

Natural Gas Exports – Russia and Turkmenistan
2a/ Russian gas: Will there be enough investment? (Energy Publisher, Tue 25 Sep)
2b/ A massive wrench thrown in Putin's works (Asia Times, Sat 29 Sep)

BioEthanol in the USA
3/ Ethanol’s Boom Stalling as Glut Depresses Price (NY Times, Mon 24 Sep)

Big Oil - Buying Its Own Shares and Falling Production
4/ Slow, Steady Liquidation of the World Oil Industry: David Pauly (Bloomberg / peakoil.com, Mon 01 Oct)

Coal – Rising Prices
5a/ Newcastle Coal Rises a Third Week on Quota Reduction (Update2) (Bloomberg, Mon 01 Oct)
5b/ Record coal prices hammer power generators (Reuters, Fri 28 Sep)
5c/ China Raises Coal Prices for South Korea Above Japan (Update2) (Bloomberg, Wed 03 Oct)

Economy – UK and Spain
6a/ UBS job losses could be shape of things to come (The Telegraph, Tue 02 Oct)
6b/ Humiliation of UBS (BBC News [Robert Peston], Mon 01 Oct)
6c/ Crunch triggers higher loan costs for businesses and homebuyers (The Times, Tue 02 Oct)
6d/ Sub-prime claims Spanish developer (The Telegraph, Wed 03 Oct)

Russia – Car Sales
7/ Russia to Take Car Sales Lead in Europe by 2010 (FC Novosti, Mon 01 Oct)

Natural Gas Imports - UK
8/ UK Provides Hints Of Qatari Project Delays (Energy Intelligence [World Gas Intelligence], Wed 03 Oct)
(3 October 2007)
UPDATE. Just added. -BA

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