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Oil, man! - Mar 27

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Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage


Washington considers a decline of world oil production as of 2011

Matthieu Auzanneau, LeMonde.fr blog
The U.S. Department of Energy admits that “a chance exists that we may experience a decline” of world liquid fuels production between 2011 and 2015 “if the investment is not there”, according to an exclusive interview with Glen Sweetnam, main official expert on oil market in the Obama administration.

This warning on oil output issued by Obama’s energy administration comes at a time when world demand for oil is on the rise again, and investments in many drilling projects have been frozen in the aftermath of the tumbling of crude prices and of the financial crisis.

Glen Sweetnam, director of the International, Economic and Greenhouse Gas division of the Energy Information Administration at the DoE, does not say that investments will not be “there”. Yet the answer to the issue of knowing when, where and in which quantities additional sources of oil should be put on-stream remains widely “unidentified” in the eyes of the most prominent official analyst on energy inside the Obama administration.

The DoE dismisses the “peak oil” theory, which assumes that world crude oil production should irreversibly decrease in a nearby future, in want of suffisant fresh oil reserves yet to be exploited. The Obama administration of Energy supports the alternative hypothesis of an “undulating plateau”.

... The prospects of the Washington Department of Energy on oil now sound far more pessimistic than the kind of analysis the DoE used to release not so long ago. In 2004, under the Bush administration, the DoE published a study in which oil production was supposed to be able to rise strongly at least until 2037.
(25 March 2010)
French version:
Washington envisage un déclin de la production de pétrole mondiale à partir de 2011

Matthieu Auzanneau is a professional freelance journalist Previous articles at Energy Bulletin:
http://www.energybulletin.net/node/32242
http://www.energybulletin.net/node/9073

He writes at his new blog Oil Man:

Le pétrole est la matrice du monde moderne, il pourrait devenir sa némésis.

Je suis journaliste indépendant, spécialiste d’économie et d’écologie (mais c’est la même chose, non ?) :

Le Monde, Terra Eco, Transfert, Philosophie Magazine, Le Canard Enchaîné, “Global” (Arte), “Envoyé Spécial” (France 2), BBC,…

C’est bien connu, en France on a pas de pétrole, mais on a des idées. Voyons voir ce qu’on peut faire…


The Oil Drum: Was That Really Five Years?

Prof. Goose, The Oil Drum
Dear readers, Monday, March 22 marked the 5th full of year of the existence of The Oil Drum.

Our durability is because of you, the readers. We wouldn't—couldn’t—do this if we didn't think people were listening, helping us spread the word, and participating in and advancing the conversation. So, I offer you, our readers, a sincere thank you from all of our staff.

In our fifth year, we had over 6M visits and increased our historical number of visits and views by 35%. While the traffic to a lot of the peak oil-related sites has waned a bit in the face of "stable" oil prices and an economy that seemingly makes no sense to anyone, we are doing all right. Much more importantly than traffic, while we have no easy way to measure the quality of our, or our readers’, impacts on policy or their own communities, we cannot but hope that we are a part of positive change.

At The Oil Drum, we have always tried to be the bridge between the doomers, the technopians and the cornucopians, to present as many sides of the myriad arguments as we can, so that we do not become too rooted in any mode of thought. This allows us to be nimble, to test raw ideas through your eyes and critical thinking in a way that doesn't happen most places. We really try not to tell you what to think, we just ask that you actually do so—and do so critically and empirically. As this post of Nate's points out so eloquently, WE DON’T KNOW, but we can learn. I remain proud of this site for its perspective and willingness to take on these immense topics.

This is not easy to do, folks. It is not easy at all. I have made mistakes, but in that I am only reassured by the fact that no one gets them all right; in the end, all we can do is try to do what we think is best as our inner spirit dictates. If one thinks about it, SO much has changed since we started: the oil run-up, hurricanes, the economic debacle, the dynamic climate debate all have added even greater complexity to an already overwhelming topic. It is hard to take it all in and digest to any comprehensive conclusion--which is why we keep doing what we are doing. Not only do we still aspire to make sense of it all, but we also know that it is going to take as many good minds dedicated to the task as we can possibly put together.

... I don't think many understand the cumulative toll that these people pay each day to keep this unique space up and running--and they do so with only the compensation of attempting to do the right thing. We are all fortunate for this.

I have never shared anything more than an email conversation with some of these people, but they have all joined together in this fight—all of them for their own reasons, all of them with their own perspectives. When oil was rising in price, it became a signal that conventional thinking could accept as an indicator of scarcity. Despite different skill sets, ultimate goals, pet concerns, etc., our union of purpose remains a shared one. In this period where demand for energy is outpacing geologic depletion, our interests, expertise and worldviews have become more disparate. And that's ok.

In this struggle to discuss energy and our future, the issues are likely to grow even more tense, more vitriolic, and tougher to handle, with all of the situations we face in this world, economic, political, energy, and otherwise. I therefore ask that you, our readers, make every effort to treat each other with respect and understanding when these polemic topics arise.

I am compelled to remind you of one of my favorite quotes from someone I think a lot of, Jerry Michalski; he shared a mantra with me a while back, which he learned from Quaker meeting: "Speak only if it will improve upon the silence." We thank you for continuing to improve upon the silence here at The Oil Drum.
(26 March 2010)
Happy Birthday, TOD! -BA




China, $165 Million, and Kazakhstan's Second Son-in-Law

Steve LeVine, The Oil and the Glory
Awhile ago, I received an email from an old source about some documents that could be had in London. They regarded a well-worn story, he said – the business dealings of the first family in Kazakhstan. I flew out, and walked into a conference room, where I was given a four-inch-thick stack of contracts, loan documents, and emails surrounding the country’s leading oilman, Timur Kulibayev, the powerful second son-in-law of President Nursultan Nazarbayev. The leaker was a former executive of a Kulibayev-controlled company who had a falling-out with the 43-year-old official. He asked not to be identified out of fear for the safety of his family.

Many of the documents involved Chinese oil companies, and the Kazakh portion of Beijing’s resource buying binge around the world. For years, China has swept up energy assets, paying tens of billions of dollars for prize oil and metals properties, including a half dozen Kazakh fields totaling 1.7 billion barrels of oil. This has provoked allegations of market manipulation and fears of resource shortages. But a transaction described in the documents illustrates one of the techniques in the Chinese arsenal – cutting locally powerful political figures into the windfall profits.

The details of the deal are labyrinthine in a way similar to those surrounding the freezing of Nazarbayev’s bank accounts in Switzerland. I broke that story in The New York Times in 1999. A few years later, Nazarbayev was declared an unindicted co-conspirator in U.S. federal court in what his opponents had dubbed “Kazakhgate.” James Giffen, Nazarbayev’s former American oil adviser, remains charged in the case in New York.

Steve LeVine covers foreign affairs for Business Week. He previously was correspondent for Central Asia and the Caucasus for The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times for 11 years. His first book, The Oil and the Glory, a history of the former Soviet Union through the lens of oil, was published in October 2007.
(27 March 2010)




U.S. to Reap Fruits of Deepwater Labor

Staff, Rigzone
The Gulf of Mexico is expected to increase oil production over the next several years, largely due to ultra-deepwater field development. The MMS believes oil production could reach 1.8 MMb/d up from 1.3 MMb/d in 2008, but gas production is expected to decline over the next four years.

"The Gulf of Mexico is one of the single largest suppliers of oil and gas to the US market," explained MMS GOM Regional Director, Lars Herbst. "With continued interest and activity in deepwater areas of the Gulf of Mexico, we anticipate that oil production will continue to be strong with a large portion of production coming from projects in deeper water depths."

In the last 10 years, significant discoveries have been made in the ultra-deep waters of the GOM. In 2009 operators announced 14 deepwater discoveries, 11 of which are in 3,000 ft of water or more. In the timeline below, we lay out some of the key deepwater discoveries addressed later in this report.
(26 March 2010)

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