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Energy - April 22

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

Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage.

Gas-price spike sparks U.S. probe of oil traders

Nicholas Johnston,Roger Runningen, Bloomberg News via SF Chronicle
President Obama said a Justice Department probe will examine the role of "traders and speculators" in oil markets and how they contribute to high gasoline prices.

... Obama faces political pressure over rising gasoline prices. Crude oil futures have increased 22 percent and gasoline surged 34 percent this year as Middle East unrest reduced supply, and the global economic rebound bolstered fuel demand. Both futures contracts touched the highest levels this month since the records reached in 2008.
(22 April 2011)

Guardian: Shale gas special report


Pennsylvania: shale gas 'ground zero' Suzanne Goldenberg visits a state that knows the danger – and profits – in the shale gas drilling boom

China takes step to tapping shale gas potential

Gas bonanza threatens green energy

Is shale gas as green as the oil companies say?

What is shale gas fracking? Q&A: Never mind the spin, what do we know for sure about the controversial process of fracking?

Abrahm Lustgarten: Crucial time for gas drilling

(21 April 2011)

Peak Oil – April 2011 Update

Gail Tverberg, Our Finite World
The US Energy Information Administration’s January oil production figures are out, and they show record oil production. Where are we headed from here?

While production for January is up a bit (219,000 barrels compared to December), the monthly numbers bounce around a fair amount because of planned maintenance. They are also subject to revision. Figure 2 seems to indicate that the production amounts are trending upward a bit, probably in response to the recent higher prices.

... Eventual Decline, but not Following a Hubbert Curve

It seems to me that the story about what happens in the future with oil supply is much more complex than what depletion and new supply alone would suggest. As I explained in a previous post (Our Finite World version and Oil Drum version), the actual downslope is likely to be steeper than what a Hubbert Curve would suggest, because economies of many importing countries are likely to be adversely affected by rising oil prices, and because demand (and tax collections) are likely to be low in countries that lose jobs to countries that use oil more sparingly.

Hubbert assumed that nuclear or some other cheap alternative form of energy would allow business to go on pretty much as usual without oil. We know now that we are close to the downslope, but no inexpensive alternative has been developed in quantity. Because of this, actual production is likely to be less than the amount that is theoretically possible. This happens because of indirect impacts of inadequate oil supply, such as recession when prices oil prices rise; riots when food is in short supply; and inadequate demand for oil because of jobs move overseas to countries using less oil, leaving many unemployed.
(21 April 2011)

Prof. David Rutledge lectures on "Hubbert's Peak, The Coal Question and Climate

David Rutledge, University of Adelaide via YouTube
Prof. David Rutledge's lecture "Hubbert's Peak, The Coal Question and Climate Change" delivered at The University of Adelaide on 18 April 2011.

The URLs for the 4 parts are:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Professor Rutledge is the Tomiyasu Professor of Electrical Engineering at Caltech, and a former Chair of the Division of Engineering and Applied Science there. He is the author of the textbook Electronics of Radio, published by Cambridge University Press, and the popular microwave computer-aided-design software package Puff. ...

From Dr. Rutledge's web page: Hubbert's Peak, The Coal Question, and Climate Change

An accurate estimate of the ultimate production of oil, gas, and coal would be helpful for the ongoing policy discussion on alternatives to fossil fuels and climate change. By ultimate production, we mean total production, past and future. It takes a long time to develop energy infrastructure, and this means it matters whether we have burned 20% of our oil, gas, and coal, or 40%. In modeling climate change, the carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels is the most important factor. The time frame for the climate response is much longer than the time frame for burning fossil fuels, and this means that the total amount burned is more important than the burn rate. Oil, gas, and coal ultimates are traditionally estimated by government geological surveys from measurements of oil and gas reservoirs and coal seams, together with an allowance for future discoveries of oil and gas. We will see that where these estimates can be tested, they tend to be too high, and that more accurate estimates can be made by curve fits to the production history. (Power-Point slides, reviewed paper and video are at the site).
(18 April 2011)
Suggested by EB contributor Michael Lardelli who writes:
"It's a great lecture and the audio quality is quite good. Very good handing of statistics. The title is the same but the lecture content has changed considerably since I saw the first videoed version in 2007 (I believe). There is more emphasis on confidence limits in statistics and a greater focus on the climate change angle including the recent email controversy and factors affecting the reliability of temperature measurements etc."

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