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Peak oil - March 7

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Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage.

CERAweek: Total's Upstream Chief Says Peak Oil Is Around The Corner

Christopher Helman, Forbes
For the past couple of years executives from French oil giant Total have espoused a belief that the world is pretty close to a peak in oil supply. Today in a speech at the CERAWeek energy conference in Houston, Yves-Louis Darricarrere, president of the company’s oil and gas exploration division, said, “We think it will be difficult to produce more than 95 to 97 million barrels per day in the foreseeable future.”

This volume of oil is not far away from the 91 million bpd or so expected by the International Energy Agency this year. Getting to 97 million bpd would entail supply growth of just 600,000 bpd a year for 12 years – that’s about what China’s demand growth has averaged in recent years.
10 images Photos: Countries With The Most Oil
America's Biggest (And Least) Gas-Guzzling Cities Christopher Helman Christopher Helman Forbes Staff

Thus, says Darricarrere, oil’s share of the global energy supply will fall, with the slack to be picked up mostly by natural gas, which he says will increase in supply from 320 billion cubic feet now to 450 billion cf per day by 2030.
(6 March 2012)

Updates From IHS CERA Energy Conference

Staff, Wall Street Journal

Oil Industry Giddy With New Discoveries

5:45 pm ET (Dow Jones) These are happy times for the oil industry, which has shed talk of peak oil for the thrill of new discoveries. "We are reinventing ourselves again in our view," says Statoil's (STO) head for North America Bill Maloney, who pointed at the IHS CERA energy conference that a lot of the new oil and gas comes from places previously thought tapped out or overlooked. And with oil prices fostering innovation, what could be next? (

... Ignore Social Media At Your Own Peril - Statoil CEO

2:37 pm ET (Dow Jones) Demonstrators at Houston's IHS Cera Week energy conference have called on the industry to pay higher taxes, and one key executive says the industry needs to do a better job of communicating with the public. The oil "industry is completely dependent on trust...and we must do a better job being more upfront (and) transparent about what we do," says Helge Lund, president and CEO of Norway's Statoil. He pointed to social media like Facebook and Twitter as becoming a major factor in how oil companies communicate. "Remember," he says, "social media brought down governments" during the Arab Spring. "It can bring down companies too." (
(6 March 2012)

America's Fossil Fuel Fever

Michael T. Klare, The Nation
... Obama’s commitment to renewables has wavered in the face of relentless attacks from Republicans in Congress and the economic realities of energy production. While reaffirming the importance of green technology in his recent State of the Union address, he celebrated the growth in domestic oil and gas output and promised to open even more areas to offshore drilling. “Over the last three years,” Obama crowed, “we’ve opened millions of new acres for oil and gas exploration, and tonight I’m directing my administration to open more than 75 percent of our potential offshore oil and gas resources.” So much for viewing fossil fuels as a serious threat to national security.

In fact, Obama and his Republican opponents want us to believe that the accelerated exploitation of domestic fossil fuels will enhance American national security. This is so, they say, because it will diminish US reliance on oil from Africa, the Middle East and other conflict-prone areas. This argument reflects a myopic calculation of America’s national security interests. Not only will increased reliance on domestic fossil fuels perpetuate our vulnerability to disorder in the Middle East (given the global nature of the oil market and resulting oil-price dynamics); it will also expose us to a host of other perils, ranging from drinking-water contamination to accelerated climate change.

None of this, however, appears to be influencing the development of policy in Washington. What explains this fresh embrace of fossil fuels at the centers of power? Some of it is political, of course, reflecting the relentless lobbying and advertising efforts of the giant energy corporations. But it also follows from critical developments on and beneath the ground, where new technologies have been brought to bear in a powerful drive to boost domestic fossil fuel output.

Until very recently, it was widely believed that US oil and natural gas production would follow a path of steady decline, as older fields were depleted and the rate of new reservoir discovery continued its downward trajectory. It was further assumed that production in the Western Hemisphere as a whole would decline, as major fields in Canada, Mexico and Venezuela were exhausted. All this, it was believed, would result in greater US reliance on oil and gas imports from the Middle East, Africa and the former Soviet Union.

... But today, says the EIA, the outlook is very different. The agency now predicts that total US liquids production will climb to 12.1 million barrels by 2025—a 38 percent increase over the 2005 projection. If accurate, this increase, combined with an expected slowdown in the demand for oil (because of the current sluggish economy and longer-term improvements in automobile fuel efficiency), will produce a sharp drop in the amount of oil that will have to be imported in 2025—from the 2005 estimate of 19 million barrels per day to just 8 million in the 2012 projection. If it materializes, this import drop could prove highly beneficial for the US economy and foreign policy.

... No one can be certain about future oil and gas production levels, especially given the relative immaturity of many of the new technologies. But there are good reasons for doubt. Take shale gas, the most ballyhooed of all the new sources. According to the EIA, US shale gas production will soar from 2.9 trillion cubic feet in 2009 to 12.3 trillion in 2030. To achieve this increase, however, energy companies will have to sink tens, perhaps hundreds, of thousands of wells across the United States—many of them in relatively densely populated rural areas of Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York—and inject mammoth quantities of chemically laced water into the underground shale formations to shatter the rock and release the gas trapped within, in a process known as hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.”

Many of these wells will find significant concentrations of gas—but many will not. Given the uneven distribution of embedded gas molecules, a new well drilled a mile or so from an existing prolific well could easily come up empty. In fact, the EIA recently downgraded its estimate of US shale gas reserves by more than 40 percent, from 827 trillion cubic feet to 482 trillion.

... More important, perhaps, than the likelihood of disappointing production figures is the steady growth of the anti-fracking movement in many parts of the country. Not only does the well-drilling disrupt rural communities, producing round-the-clock noise and traffic from heavy tankers and trucks; the use of toxic chemicals to liberate the gas threatens the safety of water supplies in a variety of ways, from the leaking of the toxic fracking water into underground aquifers to the dumping of the returned water (called flowback) into municipal water-treatment systems, which are not equipped to handle them.

... The same can be said of all the other unconventional sources of energy fueling the hemispheric boom. The EIA projects the output of Canadian tar sands, for example, to jump from 1.7 million barrels per day in 2009 to 4.8 million in 2035, an impressive 180 percent increase. But these numbers gloss over the mounting production difficulties the industry is likely to encounter as near-surface bitumen deposits are exhausted and energy firms turn to more costly and complex techniques to exploit deposits buried deeper underground.

... In fact, we will become more vulnerable over the long run, because the renewed embrace of fossil fuels will induce us to postpone the inevitable transition to a postcarbon economy. Sooner or later, the economic, environmental and climate consequences of intensive fossil fuel use will force everyone on the planet to abandon reliance on these fuels in favor of climate-friendly renewables. This is not a matter of if but of when. The longer we wait, the more costly and traumatic the transition will be, and the greater the likelihood that our economy will fall behind those of other countries that undertake the transition sooner. By extending our dependence on fossil fuels, therefore, the current oil and gas revival is not an advantage but, as Obama said in 2008, a threat to national security.
(19 March 2012)

Obama Can Do More on Oil Prices

Ralph Nader, Common Dreams
Gasoline and heating oil prices are ratcheting up. In California, some motorists are paying over $5 per gallon. President Obama declared that "there is no quick fix" for this problem. Meanwhile, the hapless but howling Republicans are blaming him for the fuel surge as if he is a price control czar.

Indeed, President Obama has some proper power to cool off retail petroleum prices. David Stockman, President Ronald Reagan's Budget Director, said it plainly on CNN last week, "Stop beating the war drums right now [against Iran], and Obama could do that, and he could say the neocons are history." Having done his stint on Wall Street, Stockman knows that war talk by the war hawks inside and outside of our government is just what the speculators on the New York Mercantile Exchange want to hear as they bid up the price. Your gasoline prices are not charging up due to strains between supply and demand. Speculation, with those notorious derivatives and swaps, is what is poking larger holes in your fuel budget, according to Securities and Exchange Commission enforcement lawyers.

... Mr. Obama and Energy Secretary Chu keep saying that there is enough oil in world markets and that speculatively-driven higher oil prices are undermining the U.S. economic recovery. Yet Mr. Obama seems unwilling to fully use his administration's existing authority to crack down on the surging speculation.

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His most recent book - and first novel - is, Only The Super-Rich Can Save Us. His most recent work of non-fiction is The Seventeen Traditions.
(6 March 2012)
I don't think Ralph Nader is onboard with the idea of peak oil. He is still seeing speculatioin as the bogeyman for higher gas prices, when the underlying factor is supply/demand. Yes, speculation is an issue, but focusing solely on that prevents us from preparing for the much bigger problem of fossil fuels. -BA

Playing with Fire

Dr. J. Colin Campbell, The Irish National
... Oil prices surged to almost $150 a barrel in 2008, reflecting the earlier peak of Regular Conventional production. The high prices prompted a world economic recession and financial collapse that cut demand, taking pressure off oil prices, but at the same time gave rise to riots, demonstrations and revolutions around the world as people expressed their resentment at the harsher conditions they faced. This reaction included the so-called Arab Spring in 2011 that spread throughout North Africa and the Middle East, leading to the fall of established governments. In the case of Libya, with its rich oil endowment, it was facilitated by military intervention by Britain and France, backed by the United States, which led to the murder of its long-established leader, Muammar Gaddafi. The strife continues in Syria between the Shi’ia government and the Sunni community, but so far has not triggered external intervention. It is noteworthy that Syria maintains the only overseas Russian military base. These disturbances have had some adverse impact on oil production, especially in Libya, and prices have now rebounded to about $120 a barrel.

Pressures are again mounting against Iran, which, like Libya, had decided to trade its oil in national currency rather than the dollar. They are depicted as a response to Iran’s construction of a nuclear facility, and have led Europe and the United States to impose an embargo on Iranian oil imports, effective from July this year. Since these countries face the need for growing imports, it is on the face of it a strange reaction. Iran has countered by threatening to close the Gulf of Hormuz through which tankers leaving the Persian Gulf have to pass. The United States has deployed an ancient nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the Enterprise, in the area. If it were sunk, that would provide an excuse for opening hostilities, and also save the cost of decommissioning.

Exactly the motives for these moves against Iran are hard to understand, but it might well be described as the last throw of the dice by US and European powers hoping to maintain their hegemony, including the critical role of the dollar and euro as world currencies. Iran has already understandably reacted by banning exports to Britain and France. If a new war should open, it would probably herald a major conflagration in the area between the Sunni and Shi’ia factions, leading to the disintegration of Iraq and some of the other oil producing countries. That would not be an environment conducive to stepping up oil production.
(March 2012 issue)
The link is to a big PDF containing the March issue of "The Irish National." Dr. Campbell's article begins on page 3.

The publisher of the Irish National, Walter Ryan-Purcell writes:

Last Call …. for the New Energy Era Forum at Liss Ard Estate, Skibbereen, Ireland, this May 8th, 9th, and 10th. for details please click here

The line-up of speakers for the ‘New Energy Era’ forum is nearly complete. This is going to be an incredible event. If you want to take three days out and indulge in a retreat of wonderful global discussions with amazing minds, this is your chance. The discussion will put topics like the Fiscal Compact, worldwide unrest, nuclear developments, fracking, renewable energy developments, and others into perspective, and help you make important decisions for the future. Some if not all of these speakers will be written about in a hundred years time as the clear thinkers that foresaw world events and new developments for the new era. Please book fast as numbers are limited. Here are the speakers and topics:

1. Dr. Colin Campbell – Changes in World Energy Supplies, and the consequences.
2. Chris Sanders, Sanders Research Company – Financial Implications for the New Energy Era;
3. Jim O’Donnell - “Towards a philosophy for the care and maintenance of a small planet”
4. Robin Challis, Qualitative Research, ‘Whither Consumerism?’ Likely consumer trends over the next decades.
5. Professor Austin Darragh - Farewell Petroleum , Hail Carboleum
6. Rob Heyland – ‘the collapse of capitalism is the best thing for us all’
7. Professor Hartmut Frank, University of Bayreuth,Germany - ‘Ethics, Science and Education for the New Era’
8. Dr. Michael Hayes, University of Limerick ‘The lignocellulose of wood , energy crops, and agricultural residues as the sources of chemicals to replace petrochemicals’
9. Daniel Podmirseg , Vienna – ‘JUMP UP! Bite your lips, get up and dance!’ - promising concepts to rebuild local social and economic interdependencies, focusing on urban and vertical farming.

Peak todo

Carlos Lopez, Euribor (España)
En 1956 un geólogo de Shell Oil llamado M. King Hubbert predijo que la producción de petróleo de EE.UU. alcanzaría su máximo a principios de los 70, a nivel mundial no se ha podido estimar exactamente cuando ocurrirá (o cuando ocurrió). Es la teoría del “Peak oil” la extracción de un pozo cualquiera sigue una curva con un máximo, cenit de producción, en su centro. Llegados a ese punto cada barril de petróleo se hace, progresivamente, más caro de extraer hasta que la producción deja de ser rentable al necesitarse gastar más cantidad de crudo, que el que se obtiene de extraerlo, es decir cuando se necesita consumir el equivalente a un barril de petróleo, o más para obtener ese mismo barril de crudo del subsuelo. Vamos, lo que en España siempre hemos llamado hacer pan con unas tortas.

Desgraciadamente el petróleo no es el único de los productos que están cerca de su cénit, echemos un vistazo a unos cuantos y entenderemos por qué los precios están condenados a subir si no se produce un cambio en nuestra forma de vida o en la tecnología usada. Es el llamado “peak everything”

Uranio – El riesgo nuclear disminuye después de Fukushima

«El momento de máxima producción de uranio» entró en el léxico junto con el momento de máxima producción de petróleo, carbón y gas natural en 1956, cuando el geólogo de Shell Oil, Hubbert, esbozó sus famosas curvas campaniformes sobre los recursos. El futuro sigue pendiente de discusión. El mundo alcanzó el momento de máxima producción de uranio en 1980, incluso a medida que el consumo subía.

... Población – En la carrera por los materiales
... Agua – La era del agua limpia y barata se acaba
... Carbón –El icono de la era industrial tiene competencia limpia
... Hierro – Los mercados emergentes mantienen los precios altos
... Comida – La tierra puede gestionarlo ¿Podemos nosotros?
... Datos

Nuestra demanda de datos se incrementa de una manera casi exponencial, en 1990 el consumo global de Internet al mes era de 0,001 Petabytes, en 2011 la cifra subió a 19.707. Es cierto que de momento la tecnología se adelanta al consumo, pero a medida que la demanda aumenta para un espectro limitado, los proveedores de servicios pueden subir los precios. Muchos ya están eliminando las tarifas planas o limitando la velocidad para usuarios con mucha actividad. Como cualquier otro recurso natural, por ejemplo el petróleo en los 70, los proveedores y consumidores apenas están empezando a dar pasos para reducir el consumo.
(7 March 2012)

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