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Forget about ‘peak oil’ and instead focus on ‘peak power’

Opec’s disappearing excess capacity is the root cause of oil above $100 a barrel.

The decrease in excess capacity started last summer after power shortages in the Gulf region. As the summer heat receded and some excess capacity again became available, it quickly vanished again.

Political and technical factors have reduced oil production in some Opec members. Others with excess capacity compensated by increasing their own production above their quota. Either way, excess production capacity has vanished.

Investors and speculators have taken advantage of the situation and lifted oil prices to new records. Opec [the oil producers’ cartel] blamed the runaway price on speculators and the US policies that have fuelled speculation, including lower interest rates and the weak dollar.

But blame also rests on some Opec members. As oil prices have increased, so have their revenues. Some of these revenues found their way into funds that speculate in oil futures. Ironically, “petrodollars” have helped drive oil prices to new records.
(2 April 2008)
May be behind a paywall. Sometimes you can access such articles through GoogleNews. Also at Metamute. -BA

State Oil Industry’s Future Sets Off Tussle in Mexico

James C. McKinley Jr., New York Times
A bitter debate over what to do about Mexico’s ailing state oil monopoly has dominated national politics here in recent weeks, tapping strong emotions on both sides and resurrecting the political fortunes of the leftist leader who narrowly lost the 2006 presidential election.

Revamping the oil company, Petróleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, is perhaps the greatest challenge facing the administration of President Felipe Calderón, a conservative economist who won the disputed 2006 election by a hairbreadth.

At stake in the debate is not only the future of the Mexican economy but also the supply of oil to the United States. Last year, Mexico was the third largest supplier of crude imports to the American market, after Canada and Saudi Arabia.

The government has neglected the public company for 20 years, siphoning off its profits. Now production is dropping, reserves are dwindling, and Pemex lacks the technology to go after undersea oil, the administration says.
(8 April 2008)

Chevron reportedly in talks to tap Iraq’s oil

David R. Baker, San Francisco Chronicle
Chevron Corp. and other international oil companies are negotiating with the Iraq Ministry of Oil to begin tapping into some of the country’s largest oil fields, according to published reports.

Specifically, the companies are negotiating for two-year contracts that would help Iraq boost production at existing oil fields.

For years, the companies have had their eyes on long-term contracts to find and develop new oil fields in Iraq, which is believed to hold the world’s third-largest oil reserves. The contracts under discussion are far more limited than that, but they represent an important step in opening Iraq’s oil industry to foreign involvement after years of state control.
(25 March 2008)