Pickens Plan -- oilman T. Boone Pickens has a plan to reduce America's oil dependency problem: exploit the country's massive windpower potential for domestic energy, replacing natural gas, and then use natural gas to power cars instead of foreign oil. Some problems with the plan.
Bush had Karl Rove. But the original wiretapping President needed brains too. Introducing Kevin Phillips. He predicted the prolonged Republican dominance of Washington 1970-present and advised the Ford and Reagan presidencies. He predicted a more liberal 1990s and when the Bushies killed his party he became uttery disgusted. Recently he spoke about the influence of the christian right, our addiction to oil, and America's debt (public and private) at the University of California Santa Barbara. [more inside]
Equatorial Guinea is more than your average headline-making, human rights-eschewing African nation. Likening the country’s uneasy street-silence to that of Pyongyang, deported journalist Peter Maass reveals an unparalleled culture of fear blanketed by an international media blackout. But for the Whitehouse, ExxonMobil and Teodoro Obiang—Equatorial Guinea’s torturous leader—the poverty, abuse and dead-quiet are business as usual.
Fables of the Reconstruction. According to a new GAO report [PDF of full report], the surge has resulted in security gains and reduced violence in Iraq, but the political goals the surge was supposed to buy time for mostly haven't happened. [more inside]
How much of the Oil Shock of 2008 is peak oil, and how much just speculation? Will the cavalry ride to the rescue?
Meet Joules the climate change-sceptic robot. Joules is employed to teach 8-14 year-old school children in the UK about energy use. Joules says: "oil and gas could be in short supply in about 50 years time. The earth is believed to be getting warmer and sea levels apper to be rising. Energy Chest is funded in part by the world's biggest oil company: ExxonMobil. [more inside]
After a comprehensive study of 400 oil fields, the International Energy Agency has concluded that, barring a substantial decrease in demand, the world faces an oil supply shortfall of 12.5 million barrels a day by 2015--15% of current production. [via]
Ducks die a crude death. Alberta's oilsands (previously) (map) have a new emblem -- hundreds of ducks coated and killed in oily toxic sludge. About 500 birds landed and died in an oil sands pond. The pond full of toxic sludge sits along a major flight path for migrating waterfowl. [more inside]
After the president of Mexico introduced his bill, legislators stormed and barricaded the podium in the House; Senators began fasting in protest. The occupation continues after 2 weeks, with opponents camping out and padlocking the doors of Congress, aiming to run out the clock until adjournment on April 30th. Mexico's top electoral body ordered a TV ad (comparing opposition leader Lopez Obrador to Hitler) off the air. Here in the U.S., little notice: the WSJ calls this "heated debate." [more inside]
Pond scum saves the planet? In the beginning, there were algae, but there was no oil. Then, from algae came oil. Now, the algae are still there, but oil is fast depleting. In future, there will be no oil, but there will still be algae. ^ Power your ride with pond scum. In some iterations you don't even need light. (we have talked about this before and the fact that CO2 powers the algae production is not insignificant) More details here.
Discoveries made using satellite imagery, particularly via Google Earth, have made headlines in the blue and green before. Increasingly high-resolution photos, combined with obsessive interest, have lead inevitably to the next step: interpretation and analysis of spots on the Earth's surface for which information is restricted, censored, or classified, such as the preparedness of military defenses in North Korea and Iran, or the viability of Saudi Arabia's next big oil play. Of course, not all mapping is benevolent.
The Great Falkland Islands Oil Boom The inhabitants of the Falkland Islands are preparing for a South Atlantic oil rush which they hope will make them among the richest people in the world. After 10 years of frustrating delays since oil fields containing up to 60 billion barrels of "black gold" were discovered off the islands, oil companies are planning to start drilling within the next 12 months. It may also go down as the catalyst for the "Second Falklands Island War".
Oil Tops Inflation-Adjusted Record Set in 1980. Normally this would slow economies and thus slow demand for oil, forcing OPEC to loosen supplies, but things seem different this time: "we now have an oil world in which the impact of high oil prices is only really felt in the OECD countries" - high demand from China, India are keeping prices high, even as OECD economies slow. [more inside]
Titan find - The hydrocarbon lakes on Saturn’s moon may contain hundreds of times more liquid hydrocarbons than all of Earths known oil and natural gas reserves.
The Tata Nano (pic) is a car that costs less new than the amount I've spent on gas during single car trips, recently announced to the auto market in India. The Chery QQ ^, successful , widely exported, and recognized as the Hostage Taker's Vehicle of Choice by China Car Times, is the runner-up for the world's cheapest car but is still approximately twice as expensive. Yes indeed, the price of gas is not going to come back down. So much for my coast-to-coast road trips. [more inside]
Shifting Sands. A great series from the Globe and Mail on the Alberta Tar Sands: An Empire Made of Goo, Black gold, Texas tea, The hollowing out of small Atlantic towns, Where rich and poor Albertas collide, Norway the gold standard for managing oil wealth, The climatic costs of rapid growth.
Did Vladimir Putin really turn around Russia's economy? Washington Post's Fred Hyatt attempts to refute the conventional wisdom that Putin was responsible for Russia's turnaround from the economic instability of the "disastrous" 90s by offering a thorough counter argument to prove that Putin's effect on the economy was just the reverse. [more inside]
Each year the world makes about 5 trillion plastic bags(art exhibit) using about 20 billion barrels of oil, each bag able to last thousands of years. In 2007 cities began legislating against plastic bags from outright bans to mandatory surcharges, starting in San Francisco, then Hong Kong, Melbourne and now some countries in Africa, Israel and even the entire country of China are taking similar strides to cut down on the worlds bag obsession. Who's next in 2008?
64-year-old Frank Pringle has figured out a way to extract oil and natural gas out of nearly anything.
China and India have reported massive finds of frozen methane clathrate off their coasts and, along with Japan and other countries, are spending large sums to develop it into a new source of fossil energy. This is important for developing countries as there may be more frozen methane in the world than all the oil, gas and coal combined, and it is available right off their coasts. Some believe it can be extracted in a carbon neutral manner, but methane is a powerful greenhouse gas and the scarily named clathrate gun hypothesis provides some fuel for thought about digging this stuff up.
New York artist Ashley Hope's Ripeness is All exhibit at the Tilton Gallery recreates crime scene photographs of murdered women from the 1910s through the 1990s as oil paintings on huge 4' x 6' canvasses. [some nsfw art] [more inside]
DIY activists have been using human hair mats to soak up the carcinogenic bunker oil that's been washing onto Bay Area beaches since the spill. Now they're inoculating the oil-soaked mats with mushrooms that will break down the oil into harmless compost. See also: fungi breaking down plastics, synthetic dyes and organopollutants generally. A bit more from mushroom guru Paul Stamets. (If you're so inclined, here's a link to donate to the non-profit that coordinated the hair mats.) [more inside]
A two-ton 21-mpg 8-passenger V8 Chevy Tahoe? America, meet your 2008 Green Car of the Year!
Ecoble, an environment design and living site includes some interesting stories and info: Man (Re)Builds Mexican Island Paradise on 250,000 Recycled Floating Bottles l Who Has the Oil? Geography of the World’s Most Contentious Resource l BituBlock - The Sustainable Building Block Built from Trash and Sewage [more inside]
As crude hit an all time high at $96.40US per barrel this week, prices increase at pumps across the US. Regular self-serve rose 9 cents to an average of $2.80 per gallon in 11 Texas cities this week, a price of €0.51 per litre. Even Arab nations are feeling the pinch; in Syria, subsidised fuel prices were increased by 20% to €0.74 per litre. This price is "still low compared to world prices", though. The Automobile Association has a handy reference chart for Europe: drivers in the UK are paying an average of €1.37, and Danes €1.40. Latvia, though, is a European bargain at just €1.00 per litre.
"The vast tar sands of Alberta in Canada hold oil reserves six times the size of Saudi Arabia's. But this 'black gold' is proving a mixed blessing for the frontier town of Fort McMurray, fuelling both prosperity and misery. As the social and environmental toll mounts, Aida Edemariam reports on the dark side of a boom town" - Mud, Sweat and Tears.
"The world is at the beginning of a structural change of its economic system. This change will be triggered by declining fossil fuel supplies and will influence almost all aspects of our daily life." The new Oil Report from Energy Watch Group makes a strong case that we have now passed peak oil. [more inside]
It’s the Oil (Stupid)
In the U.S., motorists do not pay their way. The US government spends more on highways and other auto-related expenses than it receives from auto-related taxes, unlike almost every country in Europe. In a recent report [pdf], Mark Delucchi calculates automobile-related costs and revenues in three different ways and concludes the subsidy is around 20-70 cents per gallon or $24-105 billion in 2002. But what are automobile-related costs, you ask? [more inside]
On Tuesday, the Federal Reserve cut interest rates by 0.5%. Wall Street aggressively demanded the cut to stop the sub-prime mortgage contagion from triggering a credit crisis among large US and foreign investment banks and the collapse of their over-leveraged hedge funds, which ultimately threatened to drag the US economy into recession. The market rallied this week in response to the Fed's move. But there is no free lunch. [more inside]
Mmmm, beeeer: ratebeer.com The World's Worst Beers, Best Beers - 2007, find the top beers by category or region. Emphasis on craft brews. (See also the previously mentioned BeerAdvocate.com) Happy Friday, everyone!
Genetically Modified Bacteria to make "Renewable Petroleum" (A biotech startup describes how it will coax petroleum-like fuels from engineered microbes within three to five years).
Kinder Morgan oil pipeline ruptured near Vancouver, British Columbia Thick, black oil dripped from lampposts, splattered across suburban lawns and crept into Burrard Inlet after a geyser of crude spewed from a burst Kinder Morgan pipeline Tuesday. [google news] Work crews ripped into the TransMountain pipeline about 12:30 p.m., causing the oil to "explode," as one witness put it, from the ground and burble up from manholes, pouring down streets toward the ocean, according to witnesses. Kinder Morgan bought the pipeline from a Canadian utility in 2005, and is known as a "poster child for pipeline problems." More Kinder Morgan accidents.
Following the script from A Crude Awakening, Australian Defence Minister Brendan Nelson announced today that new reasons for staying the course in helping Iraqi forces stand up as we stand down is not regime change nor ridding the country of weapons of mass destruction, but… ensuring Australia's “energy security”.
vivoleum ExxonMobil has hit upon a novel and renewable source of fuel "Attendees paid 50 dollars a head to hear a speech from the National Petroleum Council, a group that also advises the White House on oil and gas matters. It was rumoured a new joint energy policy from the Canadian and American governments was coming."
"The Blessings-of-Civilization Trust, wisely and cautiously administered, is a Daisy. There is more money in it, more territory, more sovereignty, and other kinds of emolument, than there is in any other game that is played. But Christendom has been playing it badly of late years, and must certainly suffer by it, in my opinion. She has been so eager to get every stake that appeared on the green cloth, that the People who Sit in Darkness have noticed it – they have noticed it, and have begun to show alarm. They have become suspicious of the Blessings of Civilization."
First discovered by the U.S. Coast Guard in 1978, the Greenpoint spill has been estimated at anywhere between 17 million and 30 million gallons—three times more oil than the Exxon Valdez spill. [NY mag permalink, with ads]
CycloneFilter : Super Cyclone Gonu prepares to slam into Oman. Cyclones this far north in the gulf are rare; doubly so for one so powerful. Latest readings have Gonu at Category 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale. Some are worried about what this will do to oil prices.
This opinion piece in Prospect magazine argues that perhaps the importance of the problems in the Middle East are overblown. Interesting read.
Heard enough about Pain at the Pump? The 24-hour news love to cover the "unreasonable" record gasoline prices, but the real issue is crude oil supply--and this latest installment of Stuart Staniford's highly detailed analysis of the world's largest oil field, Ghawar in Saudi Arabia, provides new evidence of sharply declining production. Can Saudi Arabia really increase supply to meet world demand that is surging on growth in India and China? Signs point to no--in the past week they have again voted to maintain OPEC's "voluntary" production cuts, and their petroleum minister commented that there may not be a "need" to increase Saudi production much further.
China's African oil safari turns bloody again. "Before dawn this morning At 0430 AM local time in Ogaden, the 'Dufaan' commando unit of the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) conducted a military operation in the vicinity of Obala, 30km North-West of Degah-Bur in in Northern Ogaden." Sixty-five Ethiopians and nine Chinese were killed in an attack of an unprecedented scale. Another seven Chinese workers are being held by the ONLF. (BBCFocusAfrica interviews ONLF spokesman (.ram streaming audio))
Chaffee, White, Grissom & Freeman are the names of four artificial islands immediately off the Southern California port of Long Beach. From the shore, they each look like an inhabited island paradise, complete with waterfalls, interesting buildings, many palm trees and crazy nighttime party lighting. In fact, they are offshore oil wells, built on 10 acre Dubai-esque man-made islands created for the purpose of housing the oil wells, and disguised so as to comply with local aesthetic standards.