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Awash in fossil fuels

George Wills, The Washington Post
What city contributed most to the making of the modern world? The Paris of the Enlightenment and then of Napoleon, pioneer of mass armies and nationalist statism? London, seat of parliamentary democracy and center of finance? Or perhaps Titusville, Pa.

Oil seeping from the ground there was collected for medicinal purposes — until Edwin Drake drilled and 150 years ago (Aug. 27, 1859) found the basis of our world, 69 feet below the surface of Pennsylvania, which oil historian Daniel Yergin calls “the Saudi Arabia of 19th-century oil.”

For many years, most oil was used for lighting and lubrication, and the amounts extracted were modest. Then in 1901, a new well named for an East Texas hillock, Spindletop, began gushing more per day than all other U.S. wells combined.

Since then, America has exhausted its hydrocarbon supplies. Repeatedly.

…Keith O. Rattie, chief executive of Questar, a natural gas and pipeline company, says that by 2050 there may be 10 billion people demanding energy — a daunting prospect, considering that of today’s 6.2 billion people, nearly 2 billion “don’t even have electricity — never flipped a light switch.” Rattie says that energy demand will grow 30 to 50 percent in the next 20 years and there are no near-term alternatives to fossil fuels…
(22 Nov 2009)
related: EB contributor Roger Blanchard sent in this response to this article.

World oil demand growth to outpace supply in 2010: poll

David Sheppard and Joshua Schneyer, Reuters
Growing world oil use will likely outpace the rate of new supplies in 2010, eroding the huge stockpiles of crude which have mounted around the world since the start of the global economic crisis.

According to a Reuters poll of ten top oil-tracking analysts and organizations, oil demand is predicted to rise by 1.3 million barrels per day (bpd) next year to 85.9 million bpd.

At the same time, the rise in production from outside the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and output of natural gas liquids (NGLs) from OPEC members is seen growing by just 800,000 bpd in total.

“2010 is really a bridging year — if the economies continue to perform as well as they have been doing during the early stages of the recovery, then I think by 2011 we’ll be seeing the demand numbers at or above where they were in 2008.”

Non-OPEC output is seen averaging 51 million bpd in 2010, up from 50.8 million bpd, while OPEC output of NGLs — which are not subject to the producer group’s production quotas — are expected to rise to 5.6 million bpd, up by more than 20 percent since 2008.

If OPEC members can maintain current adherence levels to present output quotas, with group output including Iraq assessed around 28.9 million bpd, crude oil inventories could fall by almost 150 million barrels next year…
(24 Nov 2009)
sent in by EB reader Moshe Braner

US Economic recovery in the era of inelastic oil

Stuart Staniford, earlywarning blog
Ok, suppose you’d never heard of peak oil.

Or you didn’t believe in it.

What could you conclude from the recent history of price and global oil supply?

The figure below gives the key data – a measure of total global oil production and also of oil price (adjusted for inflation) over the last five years…

Global liquid fuel production, 2005-2009, left axis, together with spot oil prices, right axis. Source: Supply is average of EIA, IEA, and OPEC estimates. Price is spot price of West Texas Intermediate according to EIA, adjusted for inflation using the CPI to Jan 2008 dollars.

(23 Nov 2009)