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Prices & supplies - Aug 8

Click on the headline (link) for the full text.

Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage


The great oil bubble has burst

Martin Vander Weyer, UK Telegraph
Bad news from the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline - an installation that may not normally draw much of your attention, but which is a throbbing artery of global energy supply, carrying vital oil supplies from Central Asia towards a tanker terminal on the Turkish coast. On some remote, sun-baked plain of Anatolia, an explosion sparked a fire earlier this week, temporarily cutting the flow through the pipeline.

But guess what? Here's the good news: the oil price did not zoom upwards in response, not a blip, barely a flicker. Actually the price of a barrel of crude has been falling: from a peak of $145 in early July, it came down to $117 and was trading yesterday at $120. That's almost a 20 per cent drop in little more than three weeks.

Oil barrels
A return to relatively normal oil prices would take the sting out of inflation

If the trend continues into September at anything like the same rate of descent, most of the inflationary spike of the past 12 months will miraculously have been sliced away. This is a dramatic reversal, and it is worth trying to work out why it is happening and what it
(8 August 2008)



The Coming Oil Supply Crunch - report from Chatham House

Press release, Chatham House

The world will experience a serious oil supply crunch within five to ten years unless there is a collapse in oil demand. This is the conclusion of a new Chatham House report, The Coming Oil Supply Crunch, which predicts a resulting oil price spike that could exceed $200 a barrel.

Investment in new supplies has been and will be inadequate. This is partly due to incentives for international oil companies to return dividends to shareholders rather than reinvest them. It is also a result of a resurgence in 'resource nationalism' and some governments starving their national oil companies of investment funds.

To ward off a potential crisis, the report recommends helping producers manage 'resource curse' issues, welcoming sovereign wealth funds and bringing OPEC into the International Energy Agency's emergency sharing mechanism.

The rise in price itself has continued partly because OECD governments are reluctant to intervene in energy markets. The market alone cannot necessarily provide sufficient incentives for conservation, fuel-switching or bringing more energy on-stream, so this laissez-faire attitude has failed to either constrain demand or increase supply. But, given the coming price spike, governments may well be forced to change tack.

Professor Paul Stevens, the report's author, explains the dynamics of current high prices in comparison with past oil shocks. The report argues that not enough money and expertise were invested in the 1990s to maintain excess capacity to produce crude oil if consumption continues along present trends. History shows us that whenever such excess capacity is run down, the oil price rises sharply.

Read The Coming Oil Supply Crunch >>

Paul Stevens is Senior Research Fellow for Energy at Chatham House and Emeritus Professor at Dundee University. He has published extensively on energy economics, the international petroleum industry and the political economy of the Gulf.

(7 August 2008)
One mention of peak oil in the Introduction:

The main hypothesis of this report is simple. Unless there is a collapse in oil demand sometime within the next five to ten years, the world will experience a serious oil ‘supply crunch’. This will be nothing to do with belowground resource constraints or arguments to do with ‘peak oil’. Rather, it will be the result of inadequate investment by international oil companies (IOCs) and national oil companies (NOCs) which means that below-ground oil resources will not be converted into producing capacity.



Surviving the Oil Crisis: Simmons and Lerch
(audio)
Business Matters via Global Public Media
Summer is here and with it comes high gas prices. However, when the pumps are already maxing out consumers' pocketbooks, what can anyone do except grin and bear it? We'll speak with Matthew R. Simmons, CEO of one of the largest investment banking firms serving the energy industry and Daniel Lerch, Program Manager for the Post Carbon Institute’s Post Carbon Cities program, in search for life after oil, and get the scoop from those inside the industry who have faith that we're still stocked for the future. For more information about and other episodes of the Business Matters program, see their website.
(12 July 2008, but just posted)



'Psychology Of Shortage' Remains In Oil Markets

Morning Edition, NPR
Oil prices are down from record highs that they reached earlier this year. But there's still a "psychology of shortage" in the oil markets. Renee Montagne turns to Daniel Yergin, head of Cambridge Energy Research Associates, to talk more about this concept.
(4 August 2008)
Attention, journalists! Please update your contact lists. Daniel Yergin is not the only expert available to talk about oil prices. Please note that his firm CERA has ties to the oil industry and that their recent prediction record has been very bad. In line with NPR's mission to be the Muzak of U.S. journalism, this interview doesn't mention peak oil or supply constraints. -BA



Researchers chart fuel-rich areas in Arctic for first time

James Meikle and agencies, Guardian
The race to carve up the Arctic for its oil, gas and mineral reserves has been charted for the first time in an attempt to alert international policy makers to serious territorial disputes that could result.

A new map (pdf) is designed to illustrate historical, ongoing and potential arguments about ownership in the competition to control areas rich in natural resources.

Its publication by Durham University researchers comes as a growing number of states including the UK cast their eyes towards polar regions and big slices of the ocean floors.

Countries must establish sovereignty over disputed territories if they are to exploit their undiscovered, technologically recoverable energy reserves.

The attempts to assert such rights have already alarmed conservationists who want better international protection for the poles as climate change melts the ice and opens up more land and seabeds for exploration.
(6 August 2008)

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