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

Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage.

Alaska’s Peak Oil Realities

Keith Kohl, iStockAnalyst
I know we typically look at the trouble our three largest oil-producing states are having with Peak Oil.

Today, let’s focus on just one: Alaska.

Because quite frankly, they’re having a lot more trouble than the rest.

Last year, Alaskan oil took a blow when the USGS cut their estimate for the amount of conventional, undiscovered oil in Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve (NPR) by 90%.

The NPR — once thought to hold 10.6 billion barrels of oil — is now thought to contain about 896 million barrels. The area is located on Alaska’s North Slope, where 97% of the state’s oil production is found.

As if the state didn’t have enough trouble with Peak Oil…
(5 May 2011)
Suggested by EB contributor William Tamblyn. -BA

Iraq halves oil output (target) as reality replaces ambition

Tim Webb, The Times via The Australian
IRAQ is preparing to halve its official production target, forcing oil companies including BP and Shell to renegotiate their contracts.

The Times has learnt that the country’s Oil Ministry, with backing from the Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, will set a new target to produce between 6.5 million and seven million barrels per day by 2017, down from original plans to pump 12m barrels, according to industry insiders .

Iraq, which is a member of the Opec cartel that pumps 40 per cent of the world’s oil, produces about 2.68m barrels per day, barely higher than under Saddam Hussein.

It had been hoped that with a huge injection of foreign investment, it would be able to challenge Saudi Arabia as the world’s biggest oil exporter this decade.

Confirmation that it has scrapped the old target will add to fears that global supply will be unable to keep pace with demand in coming years.
(5 May 2011)
Suggested by EB contibutor Jeffry J. Brown who writes:

“There is some discussion in this article to the effect that the Iraqis are adopting the Saudi position, to-wit, they are capable of producing 12 mbpd, but they are choosing not to.

In a similar fashion, I am certain that if I called Julia Roberts and asked her out on a date, she would accept, but I am choosing not to call her at the present time.”

Peak Oil In Perspective

Ursula Goodenough, blog, National Public Radio (NPR)
Sometimes, as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

I was recently at a scientific conference on the development of sustainable biofuels, this being my lab’s research focus. Much data was presented and much was said of substance. But the one slide I made sure to get a copy of was this one from Steve Mayfield at UCSD, conveying the history and availability of petroleum at current usage rates (more information here):

(5 May 2011)
The graph is a familiar one for people in peak oil circles. But how nice to see it on an NPR blog!

Bio for author Ursula Goodenough. -BA

EU Plans Measures to Tackle Resource Crunch

Axel Bojanowski, Der Spiegel
Scrambling for Raw Materials

European companies are facing serious shortages of vital raw materials. China is holding back the export of rare earths, which are needed for high-tech products. A new EU strategy paper, which has been obtained by SPIEGEL ONLINE, seeks to address the resource crunch. But critics say it does not go far enough.

Metal, wood or fuels are the source of our prosperity — but the supply of some of these is faltering. Geologists have long warned that certain natural resources are becoming scarce and that they are not being extracted in sufficient quantities. As a result, businesses face the threat of serious shortfalls in production. Some German companies are already facing problems relating to the supply of rare earths, which are used in high-tech appliances. “A supply crisis has begun,” says geologist Harald Elsner of Germany’s Federal Institution for Geological Sciences and Raw Materials (BGR).

To ensure that the supply of raw metals continues uninterrupted, European Union experts have spent years working on a new strategy. In two weeks’ time, Antonio Tajani, the European commissioner for industry and entrepreneurship, will present the paper — titled the “Raw Materials Initiative” — to the European Parliament.

The draft EU strategy for raw materials, which SPIEGEL ONLINE has obtained, includes the following measures: …
(19 November 2010)
For an update in German, see below. -BA

Neodym-Eisen und Dysprosium-Barren: Quelle: Vacuumschmelze GmbH & Co. KG HanauNeodym-Eisen und Dysprosium-Barren: Quelle: Vacuumschmelze GmbH & Co. KG Hanau

Neue DERA-Kurzstudie zu schweren Seltenen Erden: Entwicklung “Grüner Technologien” durch kritische Versorgungslage gefährdet

Pressemitteilung, Bundesanstalt für Geowissenschaften und Rohstoffe
Hannover – Die Versorgung mit Seltenen Erden stellt die deutsche Wirtschaft im Augenblick weiterhin vor Probleme. Während im Bereich der so genannten leichten Seltenen Erden (Cer, Lanthan u.a.) voraussichtlich ab 2012 eine deutliche Entspannung eintreten wird, ist für die Nutzer von schweren Seltenen Erden (Dysprosium, Europium u.a.) kein Ende von Versorgungsengpässen abzusehen. Zu diesem Ergebnis kommt eine neue Kurzstudie der Deutschen Rohstoffagentur (DERA) in der Bundesanstalt für Geowissenschaften und Rohstoffe (BGR).

“In Übereinstimmung mit internationalen Studien rechnen wir in der nahen Zukunft mit einer unzureichenden Versorgungslage besonders mit Europium, Terbium und Dysprosium”, erklärt der BGR-Experte und Autor der Studie, Dr. Harald Elsner. Die schweren Seltenen Erden finden in vielen so genannten “Grünen Technologien” Verwendung, wie z. B. im Bereich der Windenergie. Auch die Produktion von energiesparenden Leuchtmitteln ist ohne schwere Seltene Erden nicht möglich.

Die unter dem Titel “Kritische Versorgungslage mit schweren Seltenen Erden – Entwicklung “Grüner Technologien” gefährdet?” erschienene Kurzstudie verweist auf ein weiteres Problem. “Obwohl Substitutionsmöglichkeiten bestehen, könnte die augenblickliche Rohstoffsituation auch dazu führen, dass die Entwicklung von effizienteren Wind- und Wasserkraftwerken sowie die Ausbreitung der Elektromobilität gefährdet ist”, so Elsner. Deshalb steht für den Experten fest: “Trotz bereits eingesetzter großer Bemühungen um Maximierung der Recyclingquoten ist absehbar, dass künftig nur die Unternehmen von den großen Marktchancen im Bereich der “Grünen Technologien” profitieren, die sich in der primären Rohstoffversorgung mit schweren Seltenen Erden abgesichert haben.”

Die im Rahmen der Newsletter-Reihe Commodity Top News veröffentlichte DERA-Kurzstudie zeigt auf, in welchen Industriesektoren die schweren Seltenen Erden jeweils Verwendung finden und in welchen Mengen sie vermutlich bis zum Jahr 2015 zur Verfügung stehen. Zu den untersuchten schweren Seltenen Erden gehören elf Elemente, darunter mit der größten Bedeutung Yttrium, Samarium, Europium, Gadolinium, Terbium, Dysprosium und Erbium. In die Untersuchung flossen Informationen deutscher Firmen ein, die Seltene Erden verbrauchen, und mit denen sich die DERA seit ihrer Gründung regelmäßig austauscht.

Die Kurzstudie steht auf der Homepage der DERA als kostenloser Download zur Verfügung.

Weitere Informationen:


Deutsche Rohstoffagentur:
(28 April 2011)
If you don’t speak German, the previous article in German gives the general ideas. Both articles quote Harald Elsner of Germany’s Federal Institution for Geological Sciences and Raw Materials (BGR).

Suggested by Paul N who writes:

Germany’s ‘Nat’l Geol. Survey’ says, Rare Earth supply is in a ‘critical’ situation jeopardising the planned ‘Green Technology Revolution’ (esp. wind energy).

“This might be important information for all of those who believe in “techno-fix” & renewable energy strategies (incl. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the Green Party, etc.). I hope, you all speak a bit German… if not, let Google the job get done for you 😉