15 August 2011 - Oil not Wall Street is top US threatEdit
With markets still swinging wildly, some analysts are not talking about a temporary of lack market confidence but about the very real continuing threat of high energy costs.
If history is any guide, another oil-induced recession may be just around the corner, at least for the United States and some of the other developed economies. Every time that the cost of oil relative to global economic output has hit current levels - and that's even after sharp falls in spot prices this month - it has heralded a slump.
Oil is a key global cost because it is crucial to every part of the economy, powering manufacturing and the production of food and other commodities, fuelling transport as well as being a building block for industries such as plastics and electronics. If it is too high for too long, the results are dramatic.
"The last two times that energy as a share of global GDP neared ... the current level, the world economy experienced severe crises: the double dip recession of the 1980s and the Great Recession of 2008," Merrill Lynch analysts led by Francisco Blanch said in a note to clients. (more...)
27 July 2011 - Electric car motorway charging network opens in the UKEdit
Source: BBC Technology News
In a bit of positive enviromental news, electric car drivers in the UK are being offered the chance to break free of the city and hit the open road. The green energy firm Ecotricity has launched the world's first national motorway charging network for electric vehicles.
It has installed free power points at 12 Welcome Break service stations, with 17 more promised later in the year. Until now, a lack of charging points between towns and cities has made longer journeys impractical.
"There's a bit of the chicken and egg situation going on," said Ecotricity founder Dale Vince. "People are not buying electric cars because they're not sure about charging, and people aren't putting charging points up because [not many are] buying electric cars." (more...)
04 Jul 2011 - 'Paint on' solar cells offer ultra cheap solar panel solutionEdit
By staff at BusinessGreen
Government-backed research by the UK's Science and Technology Facilities Council could pave way for commercialisation of paint-on solar panels. A government-backed research project has hailed a breakthrough in the efficiency of printed plastic solar cells, potentially paving the way for the commercialisation of ultra cheap and more transportable solar panels.
The STFC, a non-departmental public body of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, today confirmed the results of its research into the layers of materials which convert sunlight into electricity. Most photovoltaic devices are made with silicon, but scientists are keen to develop organic or plastic photovoltaic devices, which are believed to be cheaper and more flexible.
"Rather than using complex and expensive fabrication methods to create a specific semiconductor nanostructure, high volume printing could be used to produce nano-scale films of solar cells that are over 1,000 times thinner than the width of a human hair," said Dr Andrew Parnell of the University of Sheffield. (more...)
28 June 2011 - Peak oil is 'getting closer' but the world is not readyEdit
Tom Levitt, The Ecologist
In a surprising move, the major oil consuming countries, principally Europe and the US, agreed last week through the IEA to release some of their emergency reserves of oil in an attempt to try and cut the high market price of oil. It was only the third time in history such collective action had been taken, the previous being during the Gulf War in 1991 and in 2005, after Hurricane Katrina damaged offshore oil rigs, pipelines and refineries in the Gulf of Mexico. This comes after a leaked memo from a senior Saudi oil executive in February alleged the country's oil reserves were being overstated.
Regardless of the motives, the decision is being seen as the start of a new era of government intervention in the oil market. 'We have learnt a big lesson. This is a dry run for how governments will respond in a few years time when we get a permanent oil price rise,' says John Miles, chairman of the UK Industry Taskforce on Peak Oil and Energy Security. "The end of cheap oil has got governments panicking to control prices rather than planning for a post-oil era", says Levitt.(more...)
20 June 2011 - Price of solar panels to drop to $1 by 2013, report forecastsEdit
By Duncan Clark, guardian.co.uk
Ernst & Young analysis suggests that falling solar and rising fossil fuel prices could make large-scale installations cost-competitive without government support within a decade. Prices of solar panels are falling so fast that by 2013 they will be half of what they cost in 2009, according to a report from Ernst & Young that argues solar electricity could play "an important role" in meeting the UK's renewable energy targets.
The average one-off installation cost of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels has already dropped from more than $2 per unit of generating capacity in 2009 to about $1.50 in 2011. Based on broker reports and industry analysis, the report forecasts that those rates of decline will continue, with prices falling close to the $1 mark in 2013.
At present, solar PV is economically viable in the UK for homeowners, businesses and investors only because of government subsidies given out via feed-in tariffs (as happens in Ontario as well). But the new analysis suggests that falling PV panel prices and rising fossil fuel prices could together make large-scale solar installations cost-competitive without government support within a decade – sooner than is usually assumed. (more...)
10 June 2011 - Global energy use rising faster than everEdit
2010 saw global energy use increase at its fastest rate since 1973, according to the latest BP statistical energy review released on Wednesday. Oil consumption rose to a record 87.4 million barrels/day, but added to this was 10% increase in coal consumption, which together are driving a near 6% increase in greenhouse gas emissions. “The general picture of strong energy growth translates into bad news for carbon emissions,” said Christof Ruehl, BP’s chief economist, at a presentation in London. In addition natural gas consumption could rise by 50% by 2035 according to a new report from the IEA. According to the Agency, this amounts to an increase equivalent to three times the current output of Russia.
9 June 2011 - US Military Warns Congress to Deal with Fossil Fuel DependencyEdit
Source: ReCharge News
"The problems that the nation faces as a result of its heavy dependence on fossil fuels are serious and increasing. Such large-scale challenges will require large-scale solutions. To successfully meet these challenges, US policymakers must provide a clear and predictable market signal for investment, development, and scale-up of clean-energy technologies.” Gordon Sullivan, former US Army Chief of Staff. (more...)
7 June 2011 - Saudi Arabia Warned Country May Run Out Of Oil By 2030Edit
Source: el economista
The electricity company of Saudi Arabia has set off alarms when it warned that oil in this country could be depleted by 2030 if it left domestic consumption unchecked. According to a company report, Saudi Arabia's domestic consumption is estimated at between 2.5 and 3.4 million barrels a day.
The report, published in the company's Al Mashka magazine, says that the increase in domestic consumption of oil is one of the main challenges facing the country, mainly because oil accounts for 80% of national income. Saudi Arabia is increasing domestic production to help offset popular dissent now sweeping its neighbours thus reducing the amount of oil available for export.
Abdel Salam al-Yamani, head of the Saudi Electricity Company, warned citizens of the consequences of ignoring calls to save electricity and water, and has advised that they should depend more on solar energy. (more...)
31 May 2011 - Rising food prices will increase squeeze on poor - OxfamEdit
Rising food prices are tightening the squeeze on populations already struggling to buy adequate food, demanding radical reform of the global food system, Oxfam has warned.
By 2030, the average cost of key crops could increase by between 120% and 180%, the charity forecasts. It is the acceleration of a trend which has already seen food prices double in the last 20 years.
According to Oxfam, half of the rise to come will be caused by climate change. (more...)
27 May 2011 - Resource Wars: Vietnam and China oil clashes intensifyEdit
by Ben Bland & Kathrin Hille, Financial Times
Tensions between China and Vietnam escalated last weekend as each nation accused the other of violating its sovereignty in the oil-rich South China Sea. PetroVietnam, the state-owned oil and gas monopoly, said on Sunday that Chinese patrol boats had sabotaged Vietnamese oil exploration vessels, the latest accusation between the countries over the disputed waters. (more...)
Meanwhile Joseph Romm has published a retrospective article in Climate Progress, entitled Memorial Day, 2030 and claims the notion of ongoing resource wars resulting from climate change is gaining wide acceptance. He points to 33 generals and admirals from the US Pentagon who recently supported the comprehensive climate and clean energy jobs bill last year, asserting “Climate change is making the world a more dangerous place” and “threatening America’s security.”Thomas Fingar, “the U.S. intelligence community’s top analyst,” sees it happening by the mid-2020s: By 2025, droughts, food shortages and scarcity of fresh water will plague large swaths of the globe, from northern China to the Horn of Africa. For poorer countries, climate change “could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back,” Fingar said, while the United States will face “Dust Bowl” conditions in the parched Southwest. He said U.S. intelligence agencies have accepted the consensual scientific view of global warming, including the conclusion that it is too late to avert significant disruption over the next two decades.
31 May 2011 - CO2 emissions highest ever in 2010: 'Serious setback' in fight against global warmingEdit
Carbon dioxide emitted by energy use hit a record high last year, dimming prospects for limiting global warming to two degrees Celsius, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said Monday. Breaching the 2.0 C threshold sharply increases risk of severe climate impacts, including flooding, storms, rising sea levels and species extinction, scientists have warned previously.
"Energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2010 were the highest in history," the IEA said. After a dip in 2009 caused by the global financial crisis, emissions climbed to a record 30.6 gigatonnes (Gt), a 5% jump from the previous record year in 2008, the agency said.
Moreover, 80% of projected greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 from energy sources are now considered "locked in" as they will come from power plants already operating or under construction.
28 May 2011 - Goldman Sachs raises 2012 price forecast for oil to $140 a barrelEdit
Goldman Sachs raised its 12-month price forecast for Brent to $130 a barrel from $107, and increased the end-2012 forecast to $140 a barrel from $120, citing global economic growth and tight OPEC spare capacity. The bank, which in April had predicted the major correction in oil prices earlier this month, said on May 7th that oil could surpass its recent highs by 2012. (more...)
25 May 2011 - Summer Energy Crisis Expected for ChinaEdit
China is experiencing its worst drought in 50 years and a chronic lack of water is contributing to growing power shortages and blackouts across China’s central region. The Three Gorges reservoir on the Yangtze is using 5 billion cubic feet of water a day for drinking and irrigation at the cost of hydro electric power generation. The China Electricity Council, a power industry association, has estimated around 30 gigawatts of power shortfall nationwide this summer -- about 3% of China's generating capacity, similar to the total capacity of Sweden or Argentina.
Added to this, Chinese utility companies are reducing their electricity output due to high coal prices and a government cap on electricity prices. China Power International is warning that 1/5 of China’s 436 coal-fired power plants could face bankruptcy if the utilities aren't allowed to raise their rates. Latest data shows that China has passed the US as the world’s largest consumer of electricity. As summer temperatures start to soar look for increased use of imported oil and diesel to help offset an expected energy crisis. China has already banned the export of diesel fuel. (more...)
20 May 2011 - Oil supplies tighteningEdit
In two separate articles this past week the Financial Times of London points to growing supply shortages. In one, officials at the International Energy Agency were quoted as urging OPEC counties to step up their oil output, saying there was a “clear, urgent need for additional supplies” in order to preserve the global economic recovery. Arab states have been encouraged to hold back on production and encourage higher prices in order to have more cash to buy off restless citizens with social programs and subsidies.
In another story, diesel shortages in the world’s largest oil producer, Russia, prompted the government to introduce a prohibitive tax on petrol exports while China, the world’s fifth largest producer, has introduced a complete ban on diesel exports to “maintain social stability”. While lower prices do help to ease political discontent in oil producing states, they also discourage conservation and the availability of oil globally. The pump price of gasoline in Moscow is roughly 90¢ per litre compared to $1.25 in Ottawa or $2.19 in the UK. However, in Saudi Arabia the price is 16¢ and in Venezuela 2.5¢.
12 May 2011 - Shale Gas Pipe DreamEdit
A new report by David Hughes, former lead geo-scientist with the Geological Survey of Canada, and published by the Post Carbon Institute focuses on the unrealistic projections for shale gas production in the US, and its ability to substitute for US dependence on foreign oil. The US Energy Information Administration anticipates that shale gas will contribute to 45% of all US gas production to come by 2035, which would require unprecedented rates of drilling, especially given the fast depletion rates of shale drilling, a massive investment in infrastructure, as well as safety and environmental concerns.
"Even assuming the EIA forecast for growth in shale gas production can be achieved, there is little scope for wholesale replacement of coal for electricity generation or oil for transportation in its outlook. Replacing coal would require a 64% increase of lower-48 gas production over and above 2009 levels, heavy vehicles a further 24% and light vehicles yet another 76%. This would also require a massive build out of new infrastructure, including pipelines, gas storage and refueling facilities, and so forth. This is a logistical, geological, environmental, and financial pipe dream." (more...)
4 May 2011 - The Mother Of All Price Signals Is Upon UsEdit
By John Keefe, CBS Money WatchTechnological advances have brought us cheaper and cheaper resources for the last 100 years, says Jeremy Grantham, one of the world’s leading investment thinkers. But in the last 10 years, prices have retraced all of that benefit, and we are starting to run out of everything — oil, water, fertilizer. Grantham says we are all in for a big readjustment in our lifestyles.
The prices of all important commodities except oil declined for 100 years until 2002, by an average of 70%. From 2002 until now, this entire decline was erased by a bigger price surge than occurred during World War II. From now on, price pressure and shortages of resources will be a permanent feature of our lives. This will increasingly slow down the growth rate of the developed and developing world and put a severe burden on poor countries. (more...)
4 May 2011 - A "fatal mistake" for the EU to postpone measures to reduce oil dependencyEdit
The European Commission's director-general for transport and mobility policy has warned at a conference on peak oil that it would be a "fatal mistake" for the EU to postpone measures to reduce oil dependency.
"If action is delayed, in the not-too-distant future we may be forced to drastically reduce all our mobility and import technological solutions from other part of the world," Marjeta Jager told a Green Party conference in the European Parliament.
Despite being initially laughed off by the oil industry, a consensus now holds that the world is reaching – or has just reached – peak oil. (more...)
4 May 2011 - Alaska's Peak Oil Realities: When $100 Oil Just Doesn't Cut itEdit
By Keith Kohl, Energy & CapitalLast 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%.
Despite two major spikes in oil prices within the last decade, Alaska's oil production simply hasn't been able to recover. Back in 1988, Alaskan year-over-year crude production increased 3.8%, pumping more than two million barrels per day — making it the largest oil-producing state in the US. But its slight lead over Texas was only temporary.
For the next two decades, Alaska's year-over-year production increased just once! If things continue at this rate, production could easily affect the performance of the Trans Alaska Pipeline. 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. (more...)
28 April 2011 - IEA Chief pessimistic that Governments will respond to peak oilEdit
In an interview for Australia's ABC television this week, the International Energy Agency's Fatih Birol said he believes oil production has peaked already in 2010 and that it will be increasingly difficult to meet growing oil demand. He said he is not confident that all the potential oil included in the IEAs forecast will actually "be developed and brought to the market in a timely manner". Governments, he said, are not prepared for the consequences of higher oil prices and that they need to do more to change our mobility habits that are currently based on oil. However, he is worried and not at all optimistic that they will. He suggested governments should have been working on shifting oil dependency 10 years ago, and now estimates 2-3 years before the economic recovery is choked off. To view the entire interview click here.
27 April 2011 - Pump Prices Close in on all Time Highs: Oil Company profits SoarEdit
As gas pump prices close in on the all time highs set in 2008, which in Ottawa was $1.36 per litre, fears of recession are again rising. U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said today that oil prices have become an obstacle to economic growth (more...). Meanwhile, the oil companies are posting last quarter profits that are up by 40-60% (more...). Even troubled BP, which suffered multi billion dollar losses due to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill last year is posted profit gains that were up 17% (more...).
15 April 2011 - Google invests $168m in world's largest solar power tower plantEdit
by Clenn Meyers, guardian.co.uk
Google became a major investor in solar power this week. The company invested $168 million in a concentrated solar power plant being built in California. The plan is that the plant, which works by concentrating the sun's rays on a tower to produce steam to drive a turbine, will when completed almost double the amount of commercial solar thermal electricity produced in the U.S. today.(more...)
12 April 2011 - On the Way to a New Economic Recession?Edit
Just as people are starting to feel like we've made it through the last recession, the Wall Street Journal reported this week that high oil prices "have begun to trigger some deterioration in demand" (more...). Canadian gas prices at the pump are up more than 25% in a year and are hovering around $1.30 per litre mark, near the peak prices of 2008. Many economists agree that the meltdown financial sector in 2008 was facilitated by high energy costs.
8 March 2011 - Oil markets brace for Saudi 'rage' as global spare capacity wears thinEdit
by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, The Telgraph
With Libya no longer able to supply oil to the world because of its civil war, spare capacity in the global oil supply system may have been eliminated. Goldman Sachs suspects that OPEC has already been pumping oil far above its agreed quota since November and therefore cannot easily raise output further. The prospect therefore is not only for much higher prices but also that those higher prices will become more or less permanent.
Deutsche Bank warned that a sudden jump in oil prices to $150 per barrel will abort world economic recovery. (more...)
8 February 2011-WikiLeaks cables: Saudi Arabia cannot pump enough oil to keep a lid on pricesEdit
by John Vidal, Guardian.co.uk
The US fears that Saudi Arabia, the world's largest crude oil exporter, may not have enough reserves to prevent oil prices escalating, confidential cables from its embassy in Riyadh show.
The cables, released by WikiLeaks, urge Washington to take seriously a warning from a senior Saudi government oil executive that the kingdom's crude oil reserves may have been overstated by as much as 300bn barrels – nearly 40%.(more...)
16 December 2010 - Huhne plans 'greater energy certainty'Edit
Interview on the BBC
While the Canadian Government remains absolutely silent on the subject of peak oil and its potential future impact on Canadians, the UK Energy Minister Chris Huhne said the following on Britain's BBC Radio 4's Today Programme, "...we don't know when exactly the oil is going to start peaking and production is going to start running down, but...we don't as a nation want to be putting ourselves in hock...to these sorts of markets..." (more...)
23 November 2010 - Saudi Arabia may double oil use by 2023, cut exports, ACWA SaysEdit
published by Arabian Business.com
Saudi Arabia may double domestic oil use by 2023 as energy demand increases, cutting the amount of crude for export to less than half pumped volumes in two decades, the head of generator ACWA Power International said.
The kingdom consumes about 1.2 million barrels a day of oil and refined products for power generation and about the same amount of crude for processing, ACWA Power Chief Executive Officer Paddy Padmanathan said today at a conference in Abu Dhabi. (more...)
Since the spring of 2006, oil for power generation has been fixed by royal decree at about $2.70 per barrel (or a subsidy amounting to $78 per barrel consumed) providing no incentive for consumers to conserve power. With more oil being consumed domestically, less oil will be available for export.
22 November 2010 - Carbon emissions set to be highest in history: Curbs are too feeble to stop climate change acceleratingEdit
By Steve Connor, Science Editor, The Independent
Emissions of man-made carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are roaring ahead again after a smaller-than-expected dip due to the worldwide recession. Scientists are forecasting that CO2 emissions from burning coal, oil and gas will reach their highest in history this year.
Levels of the man-made greenhouse gas being dumped into the atmosphere have never been higher and are once again accelerating. Scientists have revised their figures on global CO2 emissions, showing that levels fell by just 1.3 per cent in 2009 – less than half of what was expected. This year they are likely to increase by more than 3 per cent, greater than the average annual increase for the last decade. (more...)
9 November 2010 - The IEA Acknowledges 'Peak Oil': "The age of cheap oil is over"Edit
by Charles Homans, Foreign PolicyIn its recently released annual energy outlook, the International Energy Agency (IEA) the Paris-based research group funded by mostly European and Asian governments says that with respect to energy stability and climate change governments do matter: What they do, or don't do, about climate and energy policy in the next decade will determine what we pay for oil, and how much of it we have. The IEA looked at three energy scenarios for the next quarter-century: a business-as-usual scenario (the red line above), a scenario in which industrialized countries pursue the modest new policies they agreed to at last year's Copenhagen summit (the blue line), and a scenario in which countries implement ambitious energy strategies to limit carbon dioxide to 450ppm the level of atmospheric concentration that climate scientists believe is necessary to avert the worst of climate change (the green line). Only in this last and most unlikely scenario will oil prices, under the relaxed demand afforded by the widespread use of renewable energy and natural gas, actually stay below $100 a barrel.
When they act also matters enormously. The world needs to be acting, and acting more ambitiously than most countries are currently prepared to, by 2020, or that target "will probably be out of reach for good." Waiting is not just dangerous, but expensive: In the year since the impasse at Copenhagen, the cost of adopting the technologies and policies necessary to meet the targets agreed upon there has $1 trillion. (more...)
22 October 2010 - Oil could hit $100 a barrel soon, JP Morgan predictsEdit
By Julia Kollewe, guardian.co.uk
Chinese demand could push crude to $100 a barrel soon, according to JP Morgan, with the weaker dollar and restocking of French oil inventories once strikes end also helping to drive up oil prices.
China's economy was quick to recover from the global downturn and has been growing at a spectactular pace, resulting in rampant demand for oil. Growth has slowed slightly to an annual rate of 9.6% in the third quarter from 10.3% in the second.
"The key risk is that we are being too cautious and that the threat of $100 per barrel oil that is implicit in our fourth quarter 2011 oil forecast arrives much sooner than we expect – driven by not only a weak dollar, but also by rampant Chinese and emerging market demand and the rebuilding of French strategic stocks," said Lawrence Eagles of JP Morgan.(more...)
28 September 2010 - Germany to wean itself off fossil fuelsEdit
By Gerrit Wiesmann in Berlin, The Financial Times
The German government has signalled its ambition to wean one of the world’s largest economies off fossil fuels by pledging to generate enough renewable energy to meet 60 per cent of the country’s energy needs by 2050.
The government reckons it will cost Germany an annual €20bn until 2050 to reduce emissions by four-fifths compared with 1990, and to raise the share of electricity from renewable sources from 16 per cent to 80 per cent.
To kick off investment in off-shore wind power and “smart” electricity grids, Berlin pledged €5bn in cheap loans for ten offshore wind parks – the country currently has only one – and to ease planning of energy lines.
With 40 per cent of energy used to heat Germany’s 18m buildings, the government plans to raise subsidies for insulation, cutting energy use for heating homes and buildings by 80 per cent over the next forty years. (more...)
21 Sep 2010 - Liberal Democrat Conference: 'Oil price could double in return to 1970s style shocks'Edit
By Christopher Hope, Whitehall Editor, The Telegraph, UK
Energy secretary Chris Huhne has ordered his officials to look at the impact of a 1970s-style oil price spike on the British economy. Mr Huhne said the UK was having to prepare itself for “lots of shocks”, forcing the price of a barrel of oil to double, mirroring the volatility last seen in the 1970s. A 1970s-style doubling in the price of oil would drain £45billion from the UK economy in two years, hitting investment and jobs. (more...)
24 August 2010 - Extreme Weather WarningEdit
by Cathy Gulli and Tom Henheffer at Macleans
Fires. Floods. Freak storms. Droughts. Why it’s only going to get worse.
On the spectrum of extreme weather, Pakistan and Russia are obviously the worst effected. But new data shows that the whole world is experiencing unprecedented levels of radical weather. In June, the global land and ocean average surface temperature was the hottest it’s been since 1880, when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the United States began keeping records. And July was the 305th consecutive month that the global temperature was above average, meaning the last time the mercury dipped unusually low was in February 1985...
If this strange and severe weather was once hard to imagine, it’s now hard to ignore. “Extreme events are becoming more common,” says Heidi Cullen, a climatologist based in Princeton, N.J., and author of the new book, The Weather of the Future. What is happening in Russia and Pakistan may not feel like a real threat to North America, but she says “it should feel real.” As the Earth continues to heat up, “who is to say that couldn’t happen in Canada or the United States?” Cullen asks. “It will happen eventually.” Asrar agrees. “We will see more extremes, and they’ll last longer and be very strong.” In other words, he says, in the future “anything is possible.” (more...)
22 August 2010 - Peak oil alarm revealed by secret official talksEdit
by Terry Macalister and Lionel Badal, The Observer
Behind government dismissals of 'alarmist' fears there is growing concern over critical future energy supplies. Speculation that government ministers are far more concerned about a future supply crunch than they have admitted has been fuelled by the revelation that they are canvassing views from industry and the scientific community about "peak oil".(more...)
5 June 2010 - Imagining Life Without Oil, and Being ReadyEdit
by John Leland, The New York Times
The effects of peak oil, including high energy prices, food shortages, a collapse of the economy, and a breakdown of civil order, will not be gentle, said Mr. Angelantoni, a Web designer whose company, Post Peak Living, offers a telephone class and a handful of online courses for life after a collapse.
“Our whole economy depends on greater and greater energy supplies, and that just isn’t possible,” he said. “I wish I could say we’ll quietly accept having many millions of people unemployed, their homes foreclosed. But it’s hard to see the whole country transitioning to a low-energy future without people becoming angry. There’s going to be quite a bit of social turmoil on the way down.”
“The Sierra Club tells people that if we use less energy, the underlying model is sound,” he said. “I don’t think that’s the case.” (more...)
30 May 2010 - Nigeria's agony dwarfs the Gulf oil spill. The US and Europe ignore itEdit
by John Vidal, The Observer
The Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico caused headlines around the world, yet the people who live in the Niger delta have had to live with environmental catastrophes for decades. In fact, more oil is spilled from the delta's network of terminals, pipes, pumping stations and oil platforms every year than has been lost in the Gulf of Mexico.
With 606 oilfields, the Niger delta supplies 40% of all the crude the United States imports and is the world capital of oil pollution. Life expectancy in its rural communities, half of which have no access to clean water, has fallen to little more than 40 years over the past two generations. Locals blame the oil that pollutes their land and can scarcely believe the contrast with the steps taken by BP and the US government to try to stop the Gulf oil leak and to protect the Louisiana shoreline from pollution.
"If this Gulf accident had happened in Nigeria, neither the government nor the company would have paid much attention," said the writer Ben Ikari, a member of the Ogoni people. "This kind of spill happens all the time in the delta." (more...)
21 May 2010 - No more BS -- use cow dung to power 1,000 serversEdit
By Patrick Thibodeau, itbusiness.ca
Research out of HP labs indicates a hypothetical farm of 10,000 dairy cows could power a 1 MW data centre -- or on the order of 1,000 servers.Reducing energy consumption in data centres, particularly with the prospect of a federal carbon tax, is pushing vendors to explore an ever-growing range of ideas. HP engineers say that biogas may, excuse this, offer a fresh alternative energy approach for IT managers.
Researchers at Hewlett Packard Co.'s HP Labs presented a paper (download PDF) on using cow manure from dairy farms and cattle feedlots and other "digested farm waste" to generate electricity to an American Society of Mechanical Engineers conference held this week.
In the paper, the research team calculates that "a hypothetical farm of 10,000 dairy cows" could power a 1 MW data centre -- or on the order of 1,000 servers. (more...)
5 May 2010 - $150 oil: Who will be worst hit, and who will benefit?Edit
by Kate Mackenzie, Financial Times
The effect of rising oil prices is continuing to attract scrutiny. Credit ratings agency Fitch is now considering which sectors would be most vulnerable - and which would benefit — if/when crude oil prices reach $150. Not surprisingly, airlines are among those worst affected, although this is partly due to their limited hedging.
Other vulnerable sectors are: trucking, chemicals (though this could be mitigated somewhat by natural gas), and some consumer goods companies. Clear winners would be ethanol companies and rail operators, which could both benefit from attempts to save on crude oil input costs. (more...)
3 May 2010 - Why $100 oil could be a big problem for developed countriesEdit
by Kate Mackenzie, Financial Times
Last year Banc of America-Merrill Lynch’s head of global commodities research Francisco Blanch published several interesting notes considering the level at which crude oil prices could threaten world economic recovery. Blanch’s threshold estimates — $80 for the developed world, and $90 for emerging markets — has already, in part, been exceeded.
We have seen some other analysts and economists pointing out that gasoline consumption in the US is nearing a critically high proportion of consumption spending. The IEA, meanwhile, also began to express concern about prices in April.
Blanch’s figures published in 2009 were partly based on information from colleagues who are economic analysts covering different countries around the world. While Blanch cautions he has not yet revisited this analysis, he believes that the world can probably tolerate higher crude prices than his last estimate. However he warns there are still risks, particularly for western economies, which are much less well-equipped now to deal with another steep price rise than they were in 2007 - 2008. (more...)
27 April 2010 - Saudi Arabia global oil exports to wane post-2010Edit
by Lianna Brinded. Risk.Net
Saudi Arabia’s long-standing status as a swing producer of crude oil could be drawing to a close according to the head of Saudi Arabia's national oil company Saudi Aramco.
Global oil exports from Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil producer [approximately 11 million barrels per day] alongside Russia, will start to wane in the coming years as domestic demand surges and spare capacity drops, warned Khalid al-Falih, chief executive officer of Saudi Aramco in a speech published on the company's website.
Domestic energy demand is expected to increase by almost 250%, from about 3.4 million barrels per day (b/d) in 2009 to about 8.3 million b/d by 2028, which will eventually affect the country's ability to export oil, he said.(more...)
The main reason for this is local politics. Saudi Arabia, like Iran and Venezuela, offer massively subsidized oil to their citizens in order to quell public unrest. For instance, since 2006 the price of oil used in the generation of electrical power has been fixed at roughly $2.70 a barrel or the equivalent of 6 cents per litre of gasoline. The pump price per litre of gasoline is <20 cents. This massive subsidy discourages conservation and, moreover, as prices rise Saudis flush with more money in their pockets are encouraged to use even more oil. Add to this is their need to produce ever greater amounts of desalinized water as domestic water aquifers are depleted, means Saudi domestic oil demand will continue to rise. That means that there will be much less oil available to export. Currently the Saudis export about 8 million barrels per day.
16 April 2010 - Officials Wake up to Peak OilEdit
by Chris Nelder
The EIA has no idea how production could increase after 2012. In the absence of “unidentified [supply] projects,” they expect global oil supply to decline by about 2% per year, from 87 million barrels per day (mbpd) in 2011 to 80 mbpd by 2015, while demand rises to 90 mbpd.
Within five years, then, there will be a 10 mbpd gap between supply and demand–roughly a Saudi Arabia’s worth of production (currently 10.8 mbpd).
The agency officially continues to lay any concerns about future supply at the feet of insufficient investment. It’s a weak position to take in the wake of the oil price blow-off of 2008. The world’s developed economies simply cannot tolerate the high prices that would entice that investment (see “‘Peak Demand,’ Yes; But Not the Nice Kind”), and I’m sure the EIA knows it.
You’d think the American media would have been all over the story, as it signaled a major about-face in the official U.S. position on peak oil. As recently as 2008, the EIA’s base case scenario was for oil supply to rise through 2030, and not decline until 2090! (more...)
14 April 2010 - Demand for oil will hit record levels and threaten recovery, says energy agencyEdit
by Robert Lea, The Times Online
ODAC (The Oil Depletion Analysis Centre) points to economic growth in the developing world, and especially China, which reported first quarter growth of 11.9%, causing the IEA to up its estimate for 2010 oil demand to a record high of 86.6 million barrels/day. This would be marginally higher than the previous volume high set in 2007 when oil prices peaked at $147/barrel. They question whether this may also be the beginning of the divergence of the trajectories of Western and emerging country economies. Western economies are only just emerging from a painful recession, are saddled with massive public debt and very vulnerable to the prospect of high priced oil. The massive growth in developing economies, even without a swift recovery in their key export [read western] markets, suggests their appetite for oil will continue unabated pushing up oil prices even further. (more...)
11 April 2010 - US military warns oil output may dip causing massive shortages by 2015Edit
by Terry Macalister, The Guardian, UK
The US military has warned that surplus oil production capacity could disappear within two years and there could be serious shortages by 2015 with a significant economic and political impact.
The energy crisis outlined in a Joint Operating Environment report from the US Joint Forces Command, comes as the price of petrol in Britain reaches record levels [higher than in 2008] and the cost of crude is predicted to soon top $100 a barrel.
"By 2012, surplus oil production capacity could entirely disappear, and as early as 2015, the shortfall in output could reach nearly 10 million barrels per day," says the report, which has a foreword by a senior commander, General James N Mattis.(more...)
25 mars 2010 - Washington considers a decline of world oil production as of 2011Edit
by Matthieu Auzanneau, Le MondeThe U.S. Department of Energy admits that “a chance exists that we may experience a decline” of world liquid fuels production between 2011 and 2015 “if the investment is not there”, according to an exclusive interview with Glen Sweetnam at the Department of Energy, the main official expert on oil markets in the Obama administration.
This warning on oil output issued by Obama’s energy administration comes at a time when world demand for oil is on the rise again, and investments in many drilling projects have been frozen in the aftermath of the tumbling of crude prices and of the financial crisis.
Such a sense of uncertainty cast by the Department of Energy is unseen. The DoE usualy stands among the most optimistic sources regarding the issue of depletion of world oil reserves.(more...)
11 February 2010 - Oil crunch 'just five years away'Edit
By Shanaz Musafer, BBC News
Business leaders, including Sir Richard Branson, have criticised ministers for not doing enough to avoid a potential oil crunch and are calling on the next government to take action. "Governments need to urgently, urgently wake up," insists Sir Richard in an interview with the BBC News.
His Virgin Group is one of six companies (including engineering group Arup, architects Foster and Partners, Scottish and Southern Energy, Solar Century and Stagecoach) that have formed a coalition called the UK Taskforce on Peak Oil and Energy Security. "The days of cheap and easy oil in the quantities that the world needs it are over," warns Ian Marchant, chief executive of Scottish and Southern Energy.(more...)
January 2010 - Meals per gallon: The impact of industrial biofuels on people and global hungerEdit
by Tim Rice, ActionAid, UK
Industrial biofuels are currently made from maize, wheat, sugar cane and oil seeds such as palm oil, soy and rapeseed. The rapidly rising demand for crops for fuel has put them into competition with those grown for food, driving food prices higher and affecting what and how much people eat in developing countries. This is a significant issue in a world where a billion people are already going hungry.
For instance, just to meet the EU 10% target, the total land area directly required to grow industrial biofuels in developing countries could reach 17.5 million hectares, well over half the size of Italy. Additional land will also be required in developed nations, displacing food and animal feed crops onto land in new areas, often in developing countries. (see full report...)
12 January 2010 - Revive the carbon taxEdit
By Paul Ekins, Ottawa Citizen Special
At the recent Copenhagen summit, Canada resisted aggressive targets for tackling climate change. Underlying the Canadian government's position was a view that significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions will cost too much: that protecting the environment means sacrificing the economy.
Most economists, and a growing number of businesses, now realize this view is not just outdated, but wrong. Yes, addressing climate change and other environmental problems will involve costs, but the costs of not mitigating climate change are much, much more. And, with the right approach, climate policy can create new opportunities and position countries to compete effectively in the low-carbon economy of the future. (more...)
21 December 2009 - What if they held a Climate Summit, and nobody came?Edit
by Rob Hopkins, Transition Network
The gathering of the environmental/climate change movement in the Klimaforum with its dedicated bringing together of green luminaries and activists failed to have any meaningful impact on the proceedings, as did the mass street protests, designed to shame delegates into meaningful action and to draw a line in the sand. In short, the responses that the alternative movement/protest culture/social justice movement usually rolls into action when such events take place, didn’t work. So, might we do things differently next time?
It is, after all, what is expected. Activists and experts all head to the venue, with huge carbon implications, in the hope that this is “the one”, new police powers get passed, activists are subject to harassment and intimidating policing (George Marshall's piece on his Copenhagen experience is well worth a read, especially for his despair at the amount of polar bear costumes on display), the media can run its “climate change demonstrations turned ugly today” stories to divert interest away from the lack of progress, in the fringe event people inspire and challenge each other, and in the main talks, most representatives arrive, as one does at any auction, with their preferred bids and the extra they will offer if pushed already worked out long in advance. (more...)
19 December 2009 - How do I know China wrecked the Copenhagen deal? I was in the roomEdit
As recriminations fly post-Copenhagen, one writer offers a fly-on-the-wall account of how talks failed
by Mark Lynas, The Guardian
Copenhagen was a disaster. That much is agreed. But the truth about what actually happened is in danger of being lost amid the spin and inevitable mutual recriminations. The truth is this: China wrecked the talks, intentionally humiliated Barack Obama, and insisted on an awful "deal" so western leaders would walk away carrying the blame. How do I know this? Because I was in the room and saw it happen. (more...)
28 November 2009 - From Climategate to CopenhagenEdit
Will hacked e-mails cast a chill on the UN's environment summit? Richard Foot rises above the hot air and heated debate to consider the long-term repercussions of the controversy.
by Richard Foot, Canwest News Service
.. a computer hacker [has] stolen hundreds of e-mails and other documents from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia in Britain -- an influential centre of climate change study -- and posted the material on the Internet, only weeks before world leaders gather in Copenhagen on Dec. 7 to hash out a new global strategy on carbon emissions.
The e-mail exchanges, between a group of powerful, like-minded scientists based in Britain and the U.S., written during the past 13 years, suggest they may have rigged their data, suppressed contrary information and conspired to control what should be an independent peer review process surrounding the publication of their scientific papers.
It's partly the work of these scientists -- whose computer modelling research has formed the basis of reports published by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) -- that now compels many countries to write new laws on carbon emissions limits.
But Diane Katz of the Fraser Institute, says the hacked e-mail exchanges prove the IPCC, and governments everywhere, have been seriously misled... (more..)
20 November 2009 - The Urgent Threat to World Peace is - CanadaEdit
The harm this country could do in the next two weeks will outweigh all the good it has done in a century.
By George Monbiot. The Guardian, UK
Until now I believed that the nation which has done most to sabotage a new climate change agreement was the United States. I was wrong. The real villain is Canada. Unless we can stop it, the harm done by Canada in December 2009 will outweigh a century of good works. Canada is slipping down the development ladder, retreating from a complex, diverse economy towards dependence on a single primary resource, which happens to be the dirtiest commodity known to man.
In 2006 the new Canadian government announced that it was abandoning its targets to cut greenhouse gases under the Kyoto Protocol. No other country that had ratified the treaty has done this. [The US did not ratify Kyoto before withdrawing.] Canada was meant to have cut emissions by 6% between 1990 and 2012. Instead they have already risen by 26% (see below).
It’s now clear that Canada will refuse to be sanctioned for abandoning its legal obligations. The Kyoto Protocol can be enforced only through goodwill: countries must agree to accept punitive future obligations if they miss their current targets. But the future cut Canada has volunteered is smaller than that of any other rich nation. Never mind special measures; it won’t accept even an equal share.
The Canadian government is testing the international process to destruction and finding that it breaks all too easily. By demonstrating that climate sanctions aren’t worth the paper they’re written on, it threatens to render any treaty struck at Copenhagen void. (more...)
18 November 2009 - World on course for catastrophic 6° rise, reveal scientistsEdit
Fast-rising carbon emissions mean that worst-case predictions for climate change are coming true
By Steve Connor and Michael McCarthy, The Independent
The world is now firmly on course for the worst-case scenario in terms of climate change, with average global temperatures rising by up to 6C by the end of the century, leading scientists said yesterday. Such a rise – which would be much higher nearer the poles – would have cataclysmic and irreversible consequences for the Earth, making large parts of the planet uninhabitable and threatening the basis of human civilisation.
We are headed for it, the scientists said, because the carbon dioxide emissions from industry, transport and deforestation which are responsible for warming the atmosphere have increased dramatically since 2002, in a way which no one anticipated, and are now running at treble the annual rate of the 1990s.
This means that the most extreme scenario envisaged in the last report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, published in 2007, is now the one for which society is set, according to the 31 researchers from seven countries involved in the Global Carbon Project. (more...)
For more information on the impact of a six degree warming see the article What will climate change do to our planet?
16 November 2009 - The one thing depleting faster than oil is the credibility of those measuring itEdit
by George Monbiot, The Guardian, UK
I don't know when global oil supplies will start to decline. I do know that another resource has already peaked and gone into free fall: the credibility of the body [the IEA] that's meant to assess them...The agency's assessment of the state of global oil supplies is beginning to look as reliable as Alan Greenspan's blandishments about the health of the financial markets.
But nothing the whistle-blowers said has scared me as much as the conversation I had last week with a Pembrokeshire farmer. Wyn Evans, who runs a mixed farm of 170 acres, has been trying to reduce his dependency on fossil fuels since 1977. He has installed an anaerobic digester, a wind turbine, solar panels and a ground-sourced heat pump. He has sought wherever possible to replace diesel with his own electricity. Instead of using his tractor to spread slurry, he pumps it from the digester on to nearby fields. He's replaced his tractor-driven irrigation system with an electric one, and set up a new system for drying hay indoors, which means he has to turn it in the field only once. Whatever else he does is likely to produce smaller savings. But these innovations have reduced his use of diesel by only around 25%.
According to farm scientists at Cornell University, cultivating one hectare of maize in the United States requires 40 litres of petrol and 75 litres of diesel. The amazing productivity of modern farm labour has been purchased at the cost of a dependency on oil. Unless farmers can change the way it's grown, a permanent oil shock would price food out of the mouths of many of the world's people. Any responsible government would be asking urgent questions about how long we have got.
The world economy is probably knackered, whatever we might do now. But at least we could save farming. There are two possible options: either the mass replacement of farm machinery or the development of new farming systems that don't need much labour or energy. (more...)
12 November 2009 - Oil: future world shortages are being drastically underplayed, say expertsEdit
by Terry Macalister, The Guardian, UK
Uppsala University in Sweden today published a scathing assessment of the IEA's annual World Energy Outlook, saying some assumptions drastically underplayed the scale of future oil shortages.
Kjell Aleklett, professor of physics at Uppsala and co-author of a new report "The Peak of the Oil Age", claims oil production is more likely to be 75m barrels a day by 2030 than the "unrealistic" 105m used by the IEA in its recently published World Energy Outlook 2009. The academic, who runs a Global Energy unit at Uppsala, described the IEA's report as a "political document" developed for consuming countries with a vested interest in low prices.
The report from Aleklett and others, including Simon Snowden from the University of Liverpool, says: "We find the production outlook made by the IEA to be problematic in the light of historical experience and production patterns. The IEA is expecting the oil to be extracted at a pace never previously seen without any justification for this assumption." (more...)
9 November 2009 - Key oil figures were distorted by US pressure, says whistleblowerEdit
by Terry Macalister, The Guardian
The world is much closer to running out of oil than official estimates admit, according to a whistleblower at the International Energy Agency (IEA) who claims it has been deliberately underplaying a looming shortage for fear of triggering panic buying.
The senior official claims the US has played an influential role in encouraging the watchdog to underplay the rate of decline from existing oil fields while overplaying the chances of finding new reserves. (That rate of decline averaged 6.7% according to a report by the IEA, see story below 3 August 2009.)
The [current] allegations raise serious questions about the accuracy of the organisation's latest World Energy Outlook on oil demand and supply to be published tomorrow – which is used by the British and many other governments to help guide their wider energy and climate change policies.
A report last month by the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC)said worldwide production of conventionally extracted oil could "peak" and go into terminal decline before 2020 – but that the government was not facing up to the risk. Steve Sorrell, chief author of the report, said forecasts suggesting oil production will not peak before 2030 were "at best optimistic and at worst implausible".
But as far back as 2004 there have been people making similar warnings. Colin Campbell, a former executive with Total of France told a conference: "If the real [oil reserve] figures were to come out there would be panic on the stock markets..." (more...)
16 October 2009 - The Arctic and the end of the worldEdit
Exclusive Excerpt By Michael Byers, Who Owns the Arctic?: Understanding Sovereignty Disputes in the North in The Ottawa Citizen
...Climate change presents the ultimate collective action problem, what Garrett Hardin famously termed "the tragedy of the commons." With hundreds of governments, thousands of stateless transnational corporations and billions of consumers embroiled in a fossil fuel-based economy, opportunities abound for pursuing one's own gain at the expense of the common good.
This makes stabilizing the atmosphere the most improbable co-operative exercise ever attempted by humankind. Yet there is no Plan B, no alternative planet to which we can collectively decamp. We simply have to co-operate.
Seen from this perspective, Canada's Arctic policies take on global importance. In addition to its domestic responsibility to provide good government within our national boundaries, the Canadian government has a broader, over-arching responsibility to pursue every opportunity for international co-operation. That's the only way to save all that we value, including right here at home. (more...)
15 October 2009 - See the world like Elinor OstromEdit
By Will Wilkinson, The Ottawa Citizen
This week Elinor Ostrom, a 76-year-old professor of political science at the University of Indiana, and the first woman to win the economics Nobel, together with Oliver Williamson of the University of California, Berkeley, were awarded the Nobel memorial prize in economics.
"Much of Ostrom’s work can be seen as a comprehensive response to a famous paper by the ecologist Garrett Hardin on the so-called 'tragedy of the commons'.
"Imagine a pond considered community property. There’s only so many fish in the pond. Each fish taken from the common pool leaves one less for others and everyone knows it. Absent a set of rules governing fishing, the individual’s best fish-getting strategy is to race to the pond and take as many fish as possible before the others have taken them all. In the myopic rush to get something now, individuals use up the commons, tragically depriving everyone of its fruits thereafter.
"Hardin argued that tragedies of the commons may be avoided only if we turn either to privatization or, more likely, top-down government regulation. Ostrom has proved that this is a false choice... “Many policy analysts presume that without major external resources and top down planning by national officials, there can be no provision of public goods and sustainable common-pool resources,” Ostrom has written. “This presumption is wrong.” "
"To see the world more like Elinor Ostrom is to see humans and their communities as a natural part of the natural order, not as invading aliens essentially at odds with their environment or one another. Ostrom has emphasized none of us would be here today had our ancestors failed to work together to find ways to align individual interest with public interest." (more...)
13 October, 2009 - Saudis Seek Payments for Any Drop in Oil RevenuesEdit
By Jad Mouawad and Andrew C. Revkin, New York Times
Saudi Arabia is trying to enlist other oil-producing countries to support a provocative idea: if wealthy countries reduce their oil consumption to combat global warming, they should pay compensation to oil producers.
The oil-rich kingdom has pushed this position for years in earlier climate-treaty negotiations. While it has not succeeded, its efforts have sometimes delayed or disrupted discussions. The kingdom is once again gearing up to take a hard line on the issue at international negotiations scheduled for Copenhagen in December.
“It is like the tobacco industry asking for compensation for lost revenues as a part of a settlement to address the health risks of smoking,” said Jake Schmidt, the international climate policy director at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “The worst of this racket is that they have held up progress on supporting adaptation funding for the most vulnerable for years because of this demand.”
Saudi Arabia is highly dependent on oil exports, which account for most of the government’s budget. Last year, when prices peaked, the kingdom’s oil revenue swelled by 37 percent, to $281 billion, according to Jadwa Investment, a Saudi bank [but] are expected to drop to $115 billion this year, after oil prices fell.
But with oil projected to average $100 a barrel [between 2008-2030], the energy agency estimated that OPEC members would still earn $23 trillion over that period.
With oil prices more likely to push $200 a barrel during that period, according to some peak oil experts, Saudia Arabia's claim seems more like outright extortion. (more...)
5 October 2009 - China leads accusation that rich nations are trying to sabotage climate treatyEdit
By John Vidal, The Guardian
An angry statement from 131 countries at climate talks in Bangkok claims rich nations are rejecting historical responsibilities. The US and other developed countries are attempting to "fundamentally sabotage" the Kyoto protocol and all-important international negotiations over its next phase, according to coordinated statements by China and 130 developing countries at UN climate talks in Bangkok today .
"The reason why we are not making progress is the lack of political will by Annex 1 [industrialised] countries. There is a concerted effort to fundamentally sabotage the Kyoto protocol," said ambassador Yu Qingtai China's special representative on climate talks. "We now hear statements that would lead to the termination of the protocol. They are introducing new rules, new formats. That's not the way to conduct negotiations," said Yu. (more...)
5 October 2009 - Hunger for biofuels will gobble up wheat surplusEdit
By Robin Pagnament, The Times, London
Britain’s self-sufficiency in wheat will end next year, because a giant new biofuel refinery needs so much of the staple crop that home-grown supplies will be exhausted feeding both the factory and the nation.
The £300 million plant at Wilton, on Teesside, which is due to open this autumn, will be the largest bioethanol refinery in Europe and will consume a tenth of the country’s annual harvest, more than the national surplus.
Although the Ensus-built refinery expects to source all its wheat from the UK, the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) said that so much grain would be required that Britain could become a net importer of the crop for the first time in its history.
Wilton will require 1.2 million tonnes of the crop to produce 450 million litres of wheat-based biofuels. Built with capital supplied by Carlyle Group and Riverstone Holdings, the American private equity companies, it will supply Shell with the renewable fuel for use in cars and lorries in Britain. (more...)
5 October 2009 - Peak Oil: The End Of the Oil Age is Near, Deutsche Bank SaysEdit
By Keith Johnson, Wall Street Journal
Here’s an intriguing thought: Global oil supplies are indeed set to peak within a few years, and no, that is not bullish for oil. Quite the contrary—it will spell the end of the “oil age.” That’s the take from Deutsche Bank’s new report, “The Peak Oil Market.” In a nutshell: The oil industry chronically under invests in finding new supplies, exemplified both by Big Oil’s recent love of share buybacks and under-investment by big oil-producing nations. That spells a looming supply crunch.
That will send oil to $175 a barrel by 2016—and will simultaneously put the final nail in oil’s coffin and send prices plummeting back to $70 by 2030. That’s because there’s an even more important “peak” moment on the horizon: A global peak in oil demand. That has already begun in the world’s biggest oil-consuming nation, Deutsche Bank notes:
"US demand is the key. It is the last market-priced, oil inefficient, major oil consumer. We believe Obama’s environmental agenda, the bankruptcy of the US auto industry, the war in Iraq, and global oil supply challenges have dovetailed to spell the end of the oil era."
The big driver? The coming-of-age of electric and hybrid vehicles, which promise massive fuel-economy gains for short-hop commuting but which so far have not been economic.
Deutsche Bank expects the electric car to become a truly “disruptive technology” which takes off around the world, sending demand for gasoline into an “inexorable and accelerating decline.” (more...)
2 October 2009 - Exxon CEO: We've Passed The Peak Of US Gasoline ConsumptionEdit
by Vincent Fernando, The Business Insider
U.S. gasoline consumption has already passed its peak of 20 million barrels per day in 2007, according to Exxon (XOM) CEO Rex Tillerson. Due to the blending of biofuels and development of electric cars, he expects nothing but a downtrend in oil product demand towards 17 million barrels a day by 2020. For oil prices, developing nations are thus the long-term demand driver going forward. Luckily, they're doing a good job at consuming like crazy already.(more...)
29 September 2009 - US firms quit Chamber of Commerce over climate change positionEdit
by Andrew, The Guardian.co.uk
Nike and Johnson & Johnson are among the corporations criticising the largest business organisation in the US over Chamber's resistance to 'cap-and-trade' legislation.
The largest American business federation, the US Chamber of Commerce, has suffered a rash of high-profile walkouts as multinational companies become uncomfortable with the organisation's hard-line opposition to measures tackling climate change.
In a sign of mounting acceptance in the business community of a need for action on carbon emissions, big names including the sportswear manufacturer Nike and the household products empire Johnson & Johnson have attacked the chamber for its refusal to back "cap-and-trade" legislation supported by the Obama administration.
This week, the largest US nuclear power generator, Exelon, resigned from the chamber over its environmental policy, following two fellow utilities, Pacific Gas & Electric and PNM Resources. (more...)
11 September 2009 - Total Says 2014/2015 Hydrocarbon Demand Could Outstrip Supply Edit
By Tara Patel, Bloomberg Radio
Total SA Chief Executive Officer Christophe de Margerie said there could be a new oil crisis when demand for oil and natural gas outstrips supply around 2014 or 2015, Le Parisien reported, citing an interview.
He said oil prices could rise above last year’s record as demand rises and that the company won’t pull out of Myanmar, the newspaper reported.(more...)
9 September 2009 - The Stonewalling of Peak Oil: An Interview with Robert Hirsch on the deliberate avoidance by the U.S. government to talk about peak oilEdit
By Steve Andrews, EV World
"The peak oil story is definitely a bad news story. There's just no way to sugar-coat it, other than maybe to do what I've done on occasion and that is to say that by 2050 we'll have it right and we will have come through the peak oil recession—quite probably a very deep recession. At some point we'll come out of this because we're human beings, and we just don't give up. And I have faith in people ultimately. But it's a bad news story and anybody's who's going to stand up and talk about the bad news story and is in a position of responsibility in the government needs to then follow immediately and say “here's what we're going to do about it,” and no one seems prepared to do that.
Peak oil is a bigger issue than health care, than federal budget deficits, and so forth. We're talking about something that, to take a middle of the road position—not the Armageddon extreme and not the la-la optimism of some people—is going to be extremely damaging to the U.S. and world economies for a very long period of time. There are no quick fixes." (more...)
8 September 2009 - Debate about peak oil is misleadingEdit
By David Robertson, in Emirates 24/7
Despite the rather pessimistic view generated by the concept of peak oil, new fields are being discovered all the time. In the past couple of weeks alone we have had a 8.8 billion barrel discovery announced at the Soussangerd field in Iran and BP revealed a 5 billion- barrel find at the Tiber field in the Gulf of Mexico.
However, before we get complacent and rush out to swap the Toyota Prius for a thirsty Land Rover, none of this new development is going to be easy to exploit. The days of oil bubbling out of the ground, as it used to do in Saudi and Bahrain, are long gone and the new fields are often extremely hard to tap.
Take the BP find in the Gulf of Mexico. Its drill hole is a staggering 10,685 metres deep – this is nearly two kilometres more than the height of Mount Everest. The well is also in deep water, which will make it much more expensive to construct a drilling platform and pipeline to shore.
The debate about peak oil is, therefore, misleading. We are not about to run out of oil any time soon, but we are going to have to pay a great deal more to get it out of the ground. We should be focussing on cost of production rather than some mythical tipping point at which we start to run out of oil. (more...)
4 September 2009 - Sweet dreams are made of geoengineering Edit
By Gerard Wynn, Reuters
Farming plankton, sending solar panels into orbit, remodelling hydrogen -- for the latest wave of entrepreneurs suggesting easier ways out of climate change, it's all in a day's pitching. Some plans seek radical alternatives to fossil fuels. Other businesses are dreaming of geoengineering -- planning to tweak the earth's climate by removing heat-trapping carbon dioxide (CO2) or reflecting sunlight into space. (more...)
Among new energy fixes presented to Reuters in recent days is from U.S.-based BlackLight Power.
The company says it may have tapped the energy that cosmologists have struggled to explain, called dark matter, which fills the universe. The concept involves shifting electrons in hydrogen molecules -- obtained cheaply from water -- into a lower orbit, releasing energy in the process.
"It represents a boundless form of new primary energy," Randell Mills, founder and chief executive, told Reuters in a telephone interview. "I think it's going to replace all forms of fuel in the world."
3 September 2009 - BP makes 'giant' find in Gulf of Mexico Edit
by Tom Bergin, Calgary Herald
In this story oil major BP PLC said it has made a 'giant' oil discovery in the Gulf of Mexico one that analysts believe could contain more than one billion barrels of recoverable reserves, reaffirming the Gulf's strategic importance to the industry. Rig contractor Transocean Ltd. said the Tiber well was the oil and gas industry's deepest, at 10,683 metres in 1,260 metres of water. However, a billion barrels of oil represents only 1/30th of the world's annual consumption and extracting it from more than 10 kilometers below the surface of the hurricane prone Gulf of Mexico will be challenging. (more...)
2 September 2009 - Food Aid Grows in California's Agricultural HeartEdit
By Jim Carlton, Wall Street Journal
SELMA, Calif. -- The combined punch of drought, water restrictions and recession has created an ironic situation in California's Central Valley: Officials are handing out tons of food in the heart of one of the nation's most productive agricultural regions. Feeding the farmers is a potent image that demands change in our unbalanced food system. (more...)
14 August 2009 - Open Letter to Her Majesty the QueenEdit
Last year while touring the London School of Economics Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth famously inquired “Why did no one see it [the financial crisis and ensuing recession] coming?” In response the British Academy suggested in an open letter in July that the cause was due to a failure of bankers and governments to appreciate the risks building up in financial markets. Last week another group of experts suggested in a second open letter that the first group was in a state of denial about the broader context in which the crisis arose."The key to addressing our current situation is to recognise the far more serious imbalances between our insatiable hunger for energy, its finite nature and the environmental pollution in its use.”
They referred to an article recently published in the New York Times by Thomas Freidman who said, "Let’s today step out of the normal boundaries of analysis of our economic crisis and ask a radical question: What if the crisis of 2008 represents something much more fundamental than a deep recession? What if it's telling us that the whole growth model we created over the last 50 years is simply unsustainable economically and ecologically and that 2008 was when we hit the wall — when Mother Nature and the market both said: 'No more'."
"Thankfully", they said, "there is a vibrant debate in civil society on these issues. Groups like Transition Towns, described by Jeremy Leggett as 'scalable microcosms of hope', and digital democracy Moveon.org, Getup.org, Dosomethingaboutit.org.uk, Localeyes.org and 38degrees.org.uk are giving individual citizens and collectives a new voice and real power in politics of change.
12 August 2009 - Peak oil hits third worldEdit
By Chris Nelder, in Yesterday's Future
The actual feeling of peak oil didn't really hit me until this week, as I perused a page on Jim Kingsdale's excellent Energy Investment Strategies site, listing countries that are currently experiencing serious fuel shortages and grid blackouts.
Here in the first world, we still have the luxury of armchair theorizing about peak oil, and paying a bit more for gasoline, but the third world is actually feeling the pain of peak oil today. Rising oil prices are acting as a regressive worldwide tax, pricing poorer countries right out of the market.
The experiences of Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, China, India, Nigeria and Argentina to name a few places are to some extent heralding ours as the peak sets in...
Claude Mandil, the head of the International Energy Agency, warned recently of a "catastrophe" for the world's poorest countries as they are forced into the suicidal practice of subsidizing oil just to keep their economies running.(more...)
9 August 2009 - Economic outlook: Oil prices cloud recovery hopesEdit
By Chris Flood, The Financial Times
The nascent recovery in global economic activity could yet be derailed by rising oil prices, with Brent crude hitting $76 a barrel last week, its highest levels of the year to date.
In a blunt warning last week, Goldman Sachs called for a co-ordinated policy response to resolve the problems of commodity shortages, noting: “Although the financial crisis had been addressed, the commodity crisis has not.”
Francisco Blanch, commodity strategist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, says that just as the rise in oil prices last year was an under-appreciated cause of the recession, this year’s collapse for crude prices has been an under-appreciated source of stimulus.
“If oil prices go up, the choice for central banks will be to throw economies [in the developed world] back into recession or to let headline inflation trend higher,” warns Mr Blanch. (more...)
3 August 2009 - Warning: Oil supplies are running out fast Edit
Catastrophic shortfalls threaten economic recovery, says world's top energy economist
By Steve Connor, Science Editor, The Independent
The world is heading for a catastrophic energy crunch that could cripple a global economic recovery because most of the major oil fields in the world have passed their peak production, a leading energy economist has warned. Higher oil prices brought on by a rapid increase in demand and a stagnation, or even decline, in supply could blow any recovery off course, said Dr Fatih Birol, the chief economist at the respected International Energy Agency (IEA) in Paris, which is charged with the task of assessing future energy supplies by OECD countries.
In an interview with The Independent, Dr Birol said that the public and many governments appeared to be oblivious to the fact that the oil on which modern civilisation depends is running out far faster than previously predicted (6.7% decline) and that global production is likely to peak in about 10 years – at least a decade earlier than most governments had estimated. By 2030 that decline would amount to a reduction of 75% of existing oil production capacity.
In the first detailed assessment of more than 800 oil fields in the world, covering three quarters of global reserves, the IEA has found that most of the biggest fields have already peaked and that the rate of decline in oil production is now running at nearly twice the pace as calculated just two years ago. On top of this, there is a problem of chronic under-investment by oil-producing countries, a feature that is set to result in an "oil crunch" within the next five years which will jeopardise any hope of a recovery from the present global economic recession, he said. (more...)
25 June 2009 - French wake-up call to Canada and the US Edit
The French government has come up with a paper, outlining a ”fair and ambitious agreement” in Copenhagen. In particular, the document lashes out at Canada and the US. Canada and the United States have to raise their level of ambition, a French government paper seen by Reuters says. Otherwise, it will be difficult for rich nations to meet the 25-40 percent reduction in greenhouse gases recommended by a UN climate panel in order to prevent dangerous effects of climate change. (more...)
7 March 2009 - The Inflection is Near Edit
by THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN, New York Times
"We have created a system for growth that depended on our building more and more stores to sell more and more stuff made in more and more factories in China, powered by more and more coal that would cause more and more climate change but earn China more and more dollars to buy more and more U.S. T-bills so America would have more and more money to build more and more stores and sell more and more stuff that would employ more and more Chinese ...
We can’t do this anymore". (more...)
10 July 2008 - A British town's attempt to kick the oil habit Edit
By Nancy Durham, CBC News (link to CBC News video)
Two years ago, British teacher and permaculturist Rob Hopkins (see site video) came up with a plan. He wanted to help communities prepare for the eventuality of a world without oil. That's how the concept of Transition Towns was born.
The key to his initiative is sustainability at the local level — whether it's to do with food, transport, building materials or energy resources. Hopkins believes success in those areas will make a town more independent and resilient and prepare it for the day when the tap is turned off and there is no food delivery because the trucks are running on empty.
Totnes, in Devon county in England's southwest, is the world's first Transition Town. It has long been known as a "laboratory town" — willing to experiment with unconventional lifestyles... Rather than focusing on the hardship of life after oil, Hopkins says he sees "the potential for an economic social and cultural renaissance the likes of which we've never seen before". (more...)
8 October 2008 - Farmer-in Chief Edit
An open letter to the President-Elect by Michael Pollan, NY Times
It may surprise you to learn that among the issues that will occupy much of your time in the coming years is one you barely mentioned during the campaign: food. Food policy is not something American presidents have had to give much thought to, at least since the Nixon administration — the last time high food prices presented a serious political peril. Since then, federal policies to promote maximum production of the commodity crops (corn, soybeans, wheat and rice) from which most of our supermarket foods are derived have succeeded impressively in keeping prices low and food more or less off the national political agenda. But with a suddenness that has taken us all by surprise, the era of cheap and abundant food appears to be drawing to a close. What this means is that you, like so many other leaders through history, will find yourself confronting the fact — so easy to overlook these past few years — that the health of a nation’s food system is a critical issue of national security. Food is about to demand your attention. (more...)