Oil is getting cheaper. The price of a barrel of Brent crude is approaching $60, down from around $140 in 2008. The price drop is largely attributed to American shale oil, also called tight oil, production of which has increased from a few thousand barrels/day a decade ago to over 5 million barrels/day today, mainly coming from the Bakken, Permian and Eagle Ford shales. By the end of 2013, American tight oil accounted for 4.1% of global crude oil production. The International Energy Agency calls it a "supply shock", and according to the World Energy Council, the notion of "peak oil" has almost been forgotten [PDF, page 24]. While speculation continues over the motives behind OPEC's refusal to curb production, others worry that the drop in oil prices distorts economic and political decision making, discourages the development of renewable energy sources [may require registration], and may induce deflation. The BBC tallies up the winners and losers.
Charles C. Mann writes for The Atlantic:
This perspective has a corollary: natural resources cannot be used up. If one deposit gets too expensive to drill, social scientists (most of them economists) say, people will either find cheaper deposits or shift to a different energy source altogether. Because the costliest stuff is left in the ground, there will always be petroleum to mine later. “When will the world’s supply of oil be exhausted?” asked the MIT economist Morris Adelman, perhaps the most important exponent of this view. “The best one-word answer: never.” Effectively, energy supplies are infinite.[more inside]
Daily Telegraph: Why the world isn't running out of oil: "Moreover, as well as bountiful oilfields in North America, Russia, Saudi Arabia and other producers in the Middle East, there are massive, barely tapped reserves in South America, Africa and the Arctic: not billions of barrels’ worth, but trillions. So the planet is not about to run out of oil. On the contrary, according to a Harvard University report published last year, we are heading for a glut. The 75-page study, by oil executive Leonardo Maugeri, was based on a field-by-field analysis of most of the major oil exploration and development projects in the world, and it predicted a 20 per cent increase in global oil production by 2020." [more inside]
Corb Lund is a classically trained jazz musician who was a founding member of Canadian metal legends The Smalls. For the past seventeen years, though, as the centrepiece of Corb Lund and the Hurtin' Albertans, he has been cranking out alt-country records that have garnered praise from well outside usual country music circles. His biggest hit is almost certainly the comedic Truck Got Stuck. His most recent single however is the sombre peak-oil apocalypse tune Gettin' Down on the Mountain. Corb also maintains maintains an excellent songwriting blog that he describes as 30% guitar lesson: "What That Song Means Now."
"There's No Tomorrow" is a half-hour animated documentary that deals with resource depletion, energy, and growth. [more inside]
John Michael Greer, blogging at The Archdruid Report, has recently been rounding off his entries with stories of end-of-the-world predictions that did not come true. [more inside]
Economic analyst Chris Martenson explains why he thinks that the coming 20 years are going to look completely unlike the last 20 years.
Oil prices remain stubbornly high. Daniel Yergin from CERA has an opinion piece published in the WSJ: There Will Be Oil. The Peak Oil community react in depth. Bonus : Robert McFarlane in the NYT on flex-fuel for energy security.
"All of us in the environment movement, in other words – whether we propose accomodation, radical downsizing or collapse – are lost." Is human civilization hitting the sustainability wall? If so, the environmental movement seems blocked about what to do about it, broods George Monbiot. Nobody likes a "steady state economy", and the worse things get, the harder that option is to achieve. Plus green contradictions might vitiate effective action: "the same worldview tells us that we must reduce emissions, defend our landscapes and resist both the state and big business. The four objectives are at odds." [more inside]
Despite continuing inaction and perverse subsidies from the US Federal Government, one of their largest entities, the US Department of Defense, has done the analysis and considers both peak oil and climate change to be a significant threat. In partial response, they're pushing heavily into alternative fuels, with the Air Force aiming to get fully half of its domestic jet fuel from alternative sources by 2016.
The show Empire on Al Jazeera collects experts on various subjects and holds a roundtable discussion. This week was Obama 2.0, on the President's first two years, with focus on foreign policy. Guests this week are Ralph Nader, Roger Hodge, Stefan Halper, and As'ad Abu Khalil. Earlier weeks include: [more inside]
In September, a privately held and highly secretive U.S. biotech company received a patent for a genetically adapted E. coli bacterium that feeds solely on carbon dioxide and excretes liquid hydrocarbons. Joule Unlimited, co-founded by George Church, appears ready to forever alter the way we produce fuel. [more inside]
The Nation recently interviewed public intellectuals including Noam Chomsky, Bill McKibben (previously), and Dmity Orlov (previously) to produce a series of videos centered around Peak Oil and a Changing Climate. The first video, online now, combines all of the people interviewed while the videos yet to be released will be longer sections featuring them one at a time. [more inside]
Recent exploration drilling and 3-D seismic surveys reveal the U.S. Geological Survey's optimistic 2002 assessment of Alaska's untapped oil reserves is actually off by about 90 percent. Oil and Gas Online explains the new geologic analysis and difficulty predicting petroleum reserves.
Matt Simmons, investment banker to the oil industry, has passed away unexpectedly. (Previously, previously) Simmons was a vocal proponent that peak oil is at hand and authored an influential analysis of Saudi oil reserves that lends credence to his view. An energy policy advisor to Dick Cheney, and regular on financial media, Simmons believed emergency action to counter peak oil is required, beginning with independent audits of global reserves.[PDF] [more inside]
Michael T Klare (previously here and here) has been writing for some time about the coming age of America's oil wars. Recently with the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of
Storms Mexico, he's been writing about the coming about of what he calls "The Era of Xtreme Energy" and the extreme length we're going to have to go to secure it. [more inside]
Chronic budget deficits, compounding debt and unfunded liabilities suggest the US financial situation will not be remedied, wiping out military funding. Surplus world oil production could disappear entirely by 2012, and reach a 10 million barrel a day shortfall by 2015. Coalition military operations would become essential to protecting US national interests. According to this year's remarkably candid United States Joint Forces Command Joint Operating Environment report (PDF), anyway.
Inspired by a recent Wall Street Journal* article, Robert Rapier, chemical engineer, peakist, blogger, and currently chief technology officer for a bioenergy company, reviews the pretenders, contenders, and niche players in the emerging field of green energy, with particular consideration of liquid fuels. Meanwhile, the boffins at Foreign Policy consider the risks of the coming of the green energy era, and depict the end of the oil age. (Both part of FP's extensive look at the end of oil; previously.) [more inside]
A Saudi Prince tells America to give up futile dreams of energy independence. Op-Ed in the NYT says Peak Oil is a waste of energy and an illusion. Meanwhile, the OECD's energy advisors, the IEA are saying cheap oil will run out in ten years, a decade sooner than estimates made as recently as 2007.
Peak Oil, 1925. In 2000, 20% of new buildings will be solar equipped. By the late 1990s, 90% of the world's energy will be nuclear-generated. These and other erroneous projections are being collected as part of the Forecast Project on the website Inventing Green: The Lost History of Alternative Energy in America.
The author of a new book on how rising oil prices will change America makes the claims that higher gasoline prices will make the country healthier and safer. Christopher Steiner asserts that, for every $1 that gasoline prices rise, obesity rates drop by 10% (as people walk more and eat out less). As for "safer", that comes in when high gasoline prices force police out of their cruisers and onto bicycles and foot patrols, where they can interact more closely with their communities. [more inside]
Recently, John Michael Greer has been exploring a little known idea of the deceased economist E.F. Schumacher (a student of the oft-discussed Keynes). "Schumacher drew a hard distinction between primary goods and secondary goods. The latter of these includes everything dealt with by conventional economics: the goods and services produced by human labor and exchanged among human beings. The former includes all those things necessary for human life and economic activity that are produced not by human beings, but by nature. Schumacher pointed out that primary goods, as the phrase implies, need to come first in any economic analysis because they supply the preconditions for the production of secondary goods. Renewable resources, he proposed, form the equivalent of income in the primary economy, while nonrenewable resources are the equivalent of capital; to insist that an economic system is sound when it is burning through nonrenewable resources at a rate that will lead to rapid depletion is thus as silly as claiming that a business is breaking even if it’s covering up huge losses by drawing down its bank accounts." [more inside]
In a talk titled Definancialisation, Deglobalisation, Relocalisation given at The New Emergency Conference, Peak Oil activist and writer Dmitry Orlov (previously 1 2 3) shows how he has come to the conclusion that the oil price spike of summer 2008 was the trigger for the financial collapse that occurred later on in the fall. He goes on to summarize (from his point of view) pretty much everything that has been happening in the past year or so, and what he thinks is coming up next. [more inside]
Gas Shortages Throughout the Southeast More than a week after Hurricane Ike, there's little or no gas around much
of the American Southeast. [more inside]
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.
In Lester R. Brown's new book Plan B 3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization (2008, full-text)) - an update to Plan B 2.0: Rescuing a Planet Under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble (2006, full-text) - he calls for a war-time mobilization (ch.13) to save global civilization (already showing Early Signs of Decline (ch.6)) from Deteriorating Oil and Food Security (ch.2), Rising Temperatures and Rising Seas (ch.3), Emerging Water Shortages (ch.4), and Natural Systems Under Stress (ch.5)
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]
The New York Times article, Rethinking the Country Life as Energy Costs Rise , is just one of many articles documenting the apparent demise of suburbia. Unlike the notable Atlantic article which focused mostly on the mortgage bubble (previously), these more recent articles are beginning to focus of the rising cost of gas and transportation in general. (Previously) Is this the beginning of The End of Suburbia as predicted by the curmudgeonly James Howard Kunstler? (Discussed previously here and here.) Or are Americans simply readjusting their lifestyles to fit current economic limitations?
Earth2100.tv is a project by ABC (video preview) to solicit ideas from the public and experts about the dangers facing world in the next 100 years. "The world’s brightest minds agree that the “perfect storm” of population growth, resource depletion and climate change could converge with catastrophic results. We need you to bring this story to life."
How much of the Oil Shock of 2008 is peak oil, and how much just speculation? Will the cavalry ride to the rescue?
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]
Do You Want To Know RIGHT NOW How You Can Drive Around Using WATER as FUEL and Laugh At Rising Gas Costs, While Reducing Emissions and Preventing Global Warming?
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]
According to studies, most people are positive about their own lives, but tend to see the world going to hell in a hand basket - for a sample ride in said hand basket, see the disturbing A Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash (2006; 1hr 23m) one of the canonical Peak Oil educational/propaganda films. Doomer porn is nothing new - starting with Rousseau, a common belief still exists - both in popular and scientific circles - that humans reached the height of advancement in the hunter/gatherer stage, a proto-garden of eden, and its been downhill since. Or is it just the same old story?
“The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function.” (RealVideo) Al Bartlett, retired University of Colorado Professor of Physics, gives a stunning hour-long old-school lecture (overhead projector!) on exponential growth and its inevitable results. [more inside]
"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]
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.
Peak Oil no more? Prophets of peak oil are being proven wrong as new technologies increase oil recovery rates. In fact, the entire peak oil theory might be based on flawed assumptions.
Oops! A mud eruption probably triggered by oil exploration has been making thousands of Indonesians' lives miserable since May.
Newsfilter: Spanish firm claims it can make oil from plankton. A Spanish company (Bio Fuel Systems) claimed on Thursday to have developed a method of breeding plankton and turning the marine plants into oil, providing a potentially inexhaustible source of clean fuel.
Black Gold in Alberta. The tar sands located in northern Alberta, containing 85% of the worlds bitumen could provide for america's oil needs for the next century. The trillion barrell oil pit will continue to grow in importance as the price of oil continues to climb, and investors from around the world pour billions of dollars into the rich dirt.
The Paradigm is the Enemy: A sobering but cogent account of the state of Peak Oil, what it's already led to (reported and ignored), and what is in store for us in the near future. The worst part is the political impossibility of addressing the problem constructively: that would require acknowledging the problem.
Supertankers are so cool. Click previous sentence for more information.
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