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Satellite O’er the Desert

Stuart Staniford, The Oil Drum
I interrupt the regular schedule to bring you some breaking news.

TOD editors and contributors have been privy for some time to some absolutely incredible work that TOD commenter JoulesBurn has been doing analyzing Saudi well sites in Google Earth. We’ve urged him multiple times to summarize his work in a guest post, but he’s been taking his time perfecting it – poring over every square mile of Ghawar, to the point where he has identified and classified 3000 well sites in that field – an extraordinary feat of diligence.

Happily, he is now sharing his work with the world on his own blog Satellite O’er the Desert which promises to be a major resource for students of Saudi oil supply. My favorite image was the one above.
(31 January 2008)
Images and links at original.

IEA refutes ‘peak oil’, points to lack of investment

Insufficient investment, political instability and blocked access to key oil and gas reserves have distorted the global fossil fuel market and driven up prices, according to the International Energy Agency, which has downplayed concerns about imminent oil shortages.

The comments were made during a conferenceexternal on the EU’s external energy relations organised by the Institut français des relations internationales (IFRIexternal ).

During his presentationPdf external , Ramsay noted that the majority of the world’s key oil and gas reserves are located in places either largely off-limits to investors – Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, for instance – or in places that are plagued by political instability and even violent conflict, such as Iraq or the Caspian Sea region.

…Proponents of the ‘peak oil’ theory, however, argue that the world’s oil supplies may simply be running out and that further explorations and supply-side investments can do little to correct this situation (see our LinksDossier).

EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs reflected these concerns during a 14 January speech before the Swiss Energy Congress, arguing that the coming supply crunch should inspire the EU to become less dependent on fossil fuels for its energy needs (EurActiv 16/01/08).
(1 February 2008)
EurActiv is a “peak oil aware” news site. See the original for links and other articles. -BA

Minnesota legislators will hear from oil expert Simmons

Alexandria Echo (Minnesota)
With oil prices around $100 per barrel and some predictions gasoline soon will cost $4 a gallon, an expert will appear before a joint legislative committee to share his opinions on peak oil demands.

Matthew R. Simmons, who served as an energy advisor to President Bush, is a prominent oil-industry figure and one of the world’s leading experts on the topic of peak oil.

Simmons is scheduled to appear at a joint Minnesota House and Senate Energy Committee meeting February 4 at the State Office Building in St. Paul.

…A House bill already has been drafted, urging action to prepare a plan of response and preparation to meet the demands of oil consumption. [Representative Torrey Westrom, R-Elbow Lake] said it is important for policy makers to research all the various theories and concerns and then sort out the best strategies for meeting Minnesotans’ needs for the future.

Westrom is seeking input from local citizens regarding this topic.
(1 February 2008)

Europe could make the Third Industrial Revolution’

Jeremy Rifkin, EurActiv
We are now in the twilight, in the sunset of an energy regime. Sunsets take a long time and we’re going to still have this energy regime for some time in the 21st century, but the externalities are building up quickly.

…The first thing that hits you about the third climate report of the United Nations (UN) is the speed and acceleration of this climate change. What is clear is that it is happening faster than the models can keep up.

… The other thing of course is peak oil. The peak should be about 2% of growth rate of energy by 2035. Now we had people saying in December that could have a supply breach by 2014. Some of the best geologists in the world have been looking at reserves figures with computer simulation and they say we’d peak between 2010 and 2020. Mexico peaks in two years, Russia peaks in two years… So, I don’t know who’s right, the optimists or the pessimists. But anyway, it’s will happen between 2010 and 2030; it leaves a very small window.

…We have to turn this from an adversity to one of the – probably – greatest economic opportunity in history. Even if we do that, it may not be enough. We don’t know. But then the question is: “How are the big economic revolutions in history made?”, how to turn this into an opportunity? Because we have a scientific diagnosis, but we don’t have an economic game plan.

…Q: Acording to you, the third industrial revolution relies on three pillars?

A: Yes. The first one is renewable forms of energy

The second one is storage capacity. The EU is investing in the renewable energies, 20%. Now when we’re dealing with renewable energy, we have to find a way to store it. … There is, however, one storage medium that is widely available and can be relatively efficient. Hydrogen is the universal medium that “stores” all forms of renewable energy to ensure that a stable and reliable supply is available for power generation and, equally important, for transport.

…then the question is “how do you distribute it?”. That’s pillar 3: the distributive communication revolution converges with the distributive energy revolution to create the third industrial revolution.
(31 January 2008)
Headline is in French, but text is in English. Jeremy Rifkin has been in this field a long time and is a strong proponent of hydrogen. Sadly, in this article he doesn’t mention efficiency or conservation, which many consider critical to any sort of response. -BA