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Peak oil and supplies - March 12

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Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage

Water Issues Associated with Heavy Oil Production

J. A. Veil and J. J. Quinn, Argonne National Laboratory
The processes involved with heavy oil production often require external water supplies for steam generation, washing, and other steps. While some heavy oil processes generate produced water, others generate different types of industrial wastewater. Management and disposition of the wastewater presents challenges and costs for the operators.

This report describes water requirements relating to heavy oil production and potential sources for that water. The report also describes how water is used and the resulting water quality impacts associated with heavy oil production.
(1 November 2008)

Shell exec on coal, NCOs and peak oil

David Loughman, The Journal (Edinburgh)
There's no denying the urgency of the threat posed by climate change. But those who condemn private oil companies for their policies would do better to look at their own governments
... the global energy system is a mass of highly inconvenient truths.

Let’s just look at three of these, which are key to our current topic: firstly, coal is making a massive comeback. It is just about the biggest single energy source today, is the fastest growing over the last five years, and represents some 70 per cent of all fossil fuels on the planet. ...

Secondly, the privately owned, so called “oil super-majors"—companies like Shell and BP—are in fact not super majors at all. While their balance sheets, market caps, and bottom lines make them very large in comparison to companies in other sectors, the energy sector is not like other sectors: it is vast, and largely owned directly by governments or through their ownership of National Oil Companies (NOCs). The five largest private oil and gas companies own only a small percentage of the world’s oil and gas production and reserves. ...

My third and final “inconvenient truth” is the problem of so-called peak oil. Many believe that we are approaching the point of the world’s highest ever oil production, probably around the 100 million barrels-per-day level. They believe that oil prices will spiral up at that point as production will start declining, and they may well be right; but they are emphatically not right to conclude that we are “running out of oil." There are vast reserves of conventional oil remaining, and most basins which began producing in the 1960s will probably have more to produce in future than already has been produced.

David Loughman is a managing director at A/S Norske Shell
(9 March 2009)

A Risk Big Oil Companies Can Afford to Share

Derrick Z. Jackson, Boston Globe
In his 2010 budget, President Obama wants $31.5 billion from oil companies over the next 10 years with new taxes and by closing tax loopholes. This is a mere $3.15 billion a year, but the oil execs still say Obama is the creature stealing their black lagoon.

"With America in the midst of an economic recession, now is not the time to impose new taxes on the nation's oil and gas industry," said American Petroleum Institute president Jack Gerard in a statement. "New taxes could mean fewer American jobs and less revenue at a time when we desperately need both."

... Americans should be flabbergasted that the industry most in the black has the nerve to cry as millions of Americans are seeing pink and sinking into the red. Obama's proposal, if anything, is relatively modest.

... The industry did not get its preferred candidate for the White House, having given $2.3 million in campaign cash to the losing John McCain, compared with under $1 million for Barack Obama. But its tentacles are already reaching out to every Democrat in an energy-rich state to get them to dissuade Obama from his tax plan.
(10 March 2009)

Green Ink: A New Peak for Oil, and Curbing Nuclear Exuberance

Keith Johnson, Wall Street Journal
Crude oil futures kept falling Wednesday to about $45 due to weakness in Chinese demand and in anticipation of a probable build in U.S. oil inventories, Bloomberg reports. The fall might be steeper were it not for continued uncertainty over further OPEC production cuts.

Even though oil is cheaper, extracting it is still expensive, leading Chevron to pare its upstream budget in the hopes costs will come down, in the WSJ. Oh, and we have a new date for peak oil: Global production peaked in July 2008, not in 2005, coincidentally when prices were at their highest, at R-Squared. But this new record should stand for a while, given the grim economy and the push for alternative fuels.

The EPA will assemble a nationwide registry of greenhouse-gas emissions that will cover up to 90% of the U.S. sources of carbon emissions, but small businesses need not worry, in the NYT. That’s all part of the plan to force Congress to step up action on a cap-and-trade bill, notes Grist.

Which could be a boon to the economy, not necessarily a drag, argue a pair of cost-benefit gurus in Business Week. The Australians still aren’t convinced, and may delay their own cap-and-trade program two years due to the downturn, at Bloomberg. James Lovelock joins Warren Buffet in calling cap-and-trade a “scam,” in The Guardian. And Common Tragedies fears the WSJ edit page is muddying the waters on the cap-and-trade debate with some misleading stats on carbon production and consumption. ...
(11 March 2009)
David Roberts, Gristmill editor, praises the Wall Street Journal's Environmental Capital blog: a shout-out for what the WSJ is doing right

I don't know of a blog going that is more comprehensive and information-rich on the subjects of energy and the environment. I've come to take it for granted, but really it's somewhat odd that a mainstream paper like WSJ -- especially with its rightward leaning editorial stance -- supports writers like Keith Johnson and Jeffrey Ball who really get into the details of green finance, technology, and policy, and do so with accuracy and understanding (rare enough on any blog!).

I agree. The WSJ journalists have done some of the best reporting on the peak oil story. -BA

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