Drumbeat: November 14, 2010
Posted by Leanan on November 14, 2010 - 10:05am
Peak oil is not just here — it’s behind us already.
That’s the conclusion of the International Energy Agency, the Paris-based organization that provides energy analysis to 28 industrialized nations. According to a projection in the agency’s latest annual report, released last week, production of conventional crude oil — the black liquid stuff that rigs pump out of the ground — probably topped out for good in 2006, at about 70 million barrels per day. Production from currently producing oil fields will drop sharply in coming decades, the report suggests.
TEHRAN: Iran's OPEC governor said oil prices of $70-$90 per barrel would not hurt the global economy, the oil ministry's official website SHANA reported on Sunday.
"Consumers and producers are unanimous that the oil at $70-$90 prices are suitable prices and will not hurt the global economy," Mohammad Ali Khatibi told SHANA.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) has questioned the market belief that oil prices must inevitably continue to rise as the US dollar weakens.
Bullish commodities investors should be careful what they wish for, it said in its latest monthly report, released last week.
(Reuters) - Iraq expects commercial production from its gas fields to be at 25 percent of the production target within the first three years, an oil official said on Sunday.
"The first commercial production from the gas fields that should be achieved by the contractor will be 25 percent of the production target within the first three years, and the final production target set in the contract should be achieved in six years," said Abdul-Mahdy al-Ameedi, head of the ministry's licensing and contracting office.
Troubled oil giant BP is expected to start drilling for oil in Ghadames basin in the Sahara desert next month, a milestone in its controversial deal with Libya.
Beginning Monday, forensic engineers will put the blowout preventer retrieved from the Deepwater Horizon through a battery of tests designed to reveal why it failed to stop gushing oil and gas at BP's Macondo well this year.
A last-minute compromise among federal agencies will ensure that the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board has its own representative in the testing facility, along with five other experts from BP, rig owner Transocean, blowout preventer manufacturer Cameron International, the Justice Department and the plaintiffs in a multidistrict class action lawsuit tied to the oil spill.
One decision, the most crucial, is particularly puzzling. In the hours before the accident, men on the rig carried out the essential test that would tell them whether oil and gas were – potentially fatally – leaking into the well. Three times they tried it and each time the result signalled danger. But they decided to proceed as if all was well.
The well was blown,” Sean Grimsley, one of the inquiry’s deputy chief counsels told us. “Hydrocarbons were leaking in. But for whatever reason the crew decided it was a good test. The question is why these experienced men out on that rig talked themselves into believing that it indicated well integrity. None of them wanted to die.”
The same question arose at another inquiry I covered, nearly a quarter of a century ago, into Chernobyl itself. It is now fashionable to blame the accident on the Russian RBMK reactor design. But, though this was not great, the world’s worst nuclear disaster was, in fact, caused by a similar chain of human errors.
TEHRAN: Iran will increase gasoline production capacity of the Abadan refinery to 16 million litres per day from February, an Oil Ministry official said yesterday, state television reported.
By inaugurating the gasoline producing scheme, the gasoline production capacity of the refinery will be increased by 6.5 million barrel per day and reach 16 million litres," said Alireza Mehraban, managing director of the Abadan refinery. Mehraban said the production capacity of the refinery was currently 10 million litres per day.
TOKYO — Japan’s foreign minister urged China on Sunday to reopen talks on developing natural gas deposits off islands claimed by both countries.
His Chinese counterpart, however, said tensions must cool before things can move forward, a Japanese Foreign Ministry official said on condition of anonymity, citing protocol.
The time is right for Topaz Energy and Marine, the Dubai marine services and oil and gas engineering group, to enter markets offshore Brazil and West Africa, according to the company's Omani parent.
In the world of oil refineries, Montana Refining Co.'s Great Falls facility, which processes 10,000 barrels of heavy oil a day, is unique. It is one of the smallest refineries making a full slate of petroleum products, manufacturing gasoline, jet fuel, asphalt and more.
So where will the natural gas go? This is an interesting question, because it yields some surprising answers.
I attended the ASPO conference last month in Washington, D.C. (ASPO stands for the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas.) One of the more fascinating presentations was by Jonathan Callahan, founder of Mazama Science.
He looked at natural gas through the lens of the import/export markets. This is a good thing to do for any commodity because it can tip you off to what's happening in that market. When China went from being one of the biggest exporters of soybeans to the biggest importer, the effect on agricultural markets was huge.
Peak Oil: Not if but when (audio)
Each year the world’s oil consumption grows. And as consumption grows, so do fears of shortages and rocketing petrol prices.
According to the International Energy Agency, the planet’s oils fields are already in decline – meaning that oil production is about to peak before significantly falling behind demand.
The question is therefore not ‘if’ we’ll run out of oil - but ‘when’.
2SER’s Tom Washington spoke to one of the world’s leading peak oil authorities, Professor Kjell Aleklett, about the issue.
Oil demand could peak within 10 years, but only if governments act aggressively to curb carbon emissions, the International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts in its latest long-term energy outlook.
The scariest movie ever, IMHO, is the original The Haunting, released in 1963. It has none of the computer graphics, gore, or techno-sizzle frou-frou found in today's fright flicks. It wouldn't have needed any of that embellishment, even if it had been available in that bygone time. Weird lighting, odd camera angles, and jarring cinematography were enough to prime the psychological pumps of fear.
In a strange sort of way, that's how the International Energy Agency's annual World Energy Outlook (WEO) can stir up anyone who worries about humanity's growing pressure on natural life support systems. It doesn't hit you over the head with the melodramatic language and exclamation points often found in climate change action alerts. Instead, the WEO's dry prose and pedestrian graphics are plenty to get anyone who has a passing grasp of energy issues to wonder if we can crack the global energy nut before it cracks human civilization.
Someone once said that to understand the term "expert," one must first understand that an "ex" is a "has been," and a "spurt" is a "drip under pressure." Nowhere is this more evident recently than in describing our so-called economic "exspurts," specifically the shills at the International Energy Agency.
It seems the panic time for both green enthusiasts and peak oil pundits.
According to a new paper by two researchers at the University of California – Davis, it would take 131 years for replacement of gasoline and diesel given the current pace of research and development; however, world's oil could run dry almost a century before that.
Yes, sure, there really are physical limits to the resources we can dig out of the ground. But the limitations, at least in any relevant sense, aren’t the limits to such resources that exist: it’s the technologies we have to get at them.
I reported earlier today on the ongoing oil boom in North Dakota's Bakken region, which has set fresh oil production records in six out of the last seven months and now produces 6% of America's crude oil. And all of this is taking place in an area that was never expected to produce so much oil, despite the 4.3 billion barrel estimate of reserves there, because the dense, nonporous rock in the Bakken region makes extraction extremely difficult and costly. That all changed when advanced horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing techniques started successfully tapping Bakken oil two miles below the surface in 2006.
Chu - a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, former director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and former professor at Stanford and the University of California at Berkeley - has been in a hurry to get the stimulus money out the door. The sense of urgency is something he has tried to infuse in others. One day in 2009, after biking to the office, he met with a handful of top officials awaiting their swearing-in ceremony.
"Be nice, but don't be patient," he told them, according to one of the officials.
Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s government- backed renewable energy company, is on track to develop a clean- energy city on time and intends to maintain its current level of spending, its chief executive officer said.
“We are not scaling back, we are not scaling down,” Sultan Al Jaber said today in an interview on the sidelines of a conference in Abu Dhabi. “Our plans are very much the same. Our budget is very much the same.” He declined to disclose figures.
The Robertsons are not satisfied by the official explanations.
They noted that their old meter measured 829 kilowatt-hours of electricity use in for their August-September billing cycle last year. For the comparable period this year, they say, the smart meter counted a more than threefold increase, to 2,772 kilowatt-hours — despite the Robertson’s efforts to reduce their energy use by cutting back on air-conditioning and switching to energy-efficient fluorescent light bulbs.
The backlash to the German chancellor’s decision to extend the life cycle of 17 nuclear plants has been felt on the streets. Leaving its mark on the ballot box may be next.
The protests by tens of thousands of people against the shipping of radioactive waste to a storage site in northern Germany last week have revealed the strength of public opposition to a nuclear policy that will haunt Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, for the remainder of her term.
The financial meltdown of 2008-09 brought unprecedented disrepute to capitalism and its proponents alike. Many sceptics even termed the crisis as the beginning of the end of free markets. But there is another monstrous trend that threatens the existence of the free-market system as we know it: the obtrusive ascent of command economies on the back of ‘state capitalism’ — a system in which ruling elites use markets to extend their own political and economic leverage. In The End Of The Free Market, US-based political analyst Ian Bremmer expertly illustrates the rise of state capitalism and the threat it poses.
Bremmer says China is experimenting with a form of state capitalism that is being increasingly emulated by others such as authoritarian governments in Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Ukraine and Algeria. The trend is also seen in democracies such as India and Brazil, though in a limited way. Bremmer says some state-owned energy companies have grown so big that they will play a dominant role in international politics in the years ahead. China’s rush to take control of oil assets in foreign land exemplifies this. Three quarters of global crude oil reserves are now owned by national oil companies such as Aramco (Saudi Arabia), Gazprom (Russia), CNPC (China), NIOC (Iran), PDVSA (Venezuela) and Petrobras (Brazil).
It's not just the inside of the house that's changing, it's the outside, too. The yards are smaller, with many developments favoring shared green spaces over big private yards.
And, the front porch is back. Builders are increasingly moving the garage to the back of the house and adding a big porch on the front.
Seeing a big porch through the dining room, and a shared green space beyond that adds to the illusion that you are getting more — and it makes you want to get out there and reconnect with your neighbors.
At the height of the market it was all about "suburban sprawl," with everyone in their backyards, with their own deck, their own swingset, their own pool — and barely knowing their neighbors. Today, the buzz word is "smart growth" — smaller more sustainable communities that really have a sense of community.
The days when shopping was a leisure activity unto itself are over, at the nation's largest shopping center and beyond. Americans are being more precise in how they shop, regardless of what they are buying.
They're visiting fewer stores, checking off their lists and walking away. They're spending less time online when they shop. They aren't stockpiling food or clothes.
Shoppers today visit an average of three stores during a trip to the mall, according to ShopperTrak, a Chicago research firm that tracks sales and customer counts at more than 70,000 stores. That compares with an average of five stores in 2006.
STOCKHOLM (AFP) – Humanity has what it takes to adapt to global warming and there's no need to panic: so goes the message in a new documentary on the bad boy of the climate change debate, Bjoern Lomborg.
BISHKEK (IPS/IFEJ) - Kyrgyzstan's glaciers are receding at what scientists say is an alarming rate, fuelled by global warming. And while experts warn of a subsequent catastrophe for energy and water security for Kyrgyzstan and neighbour states downstream reliant on its water flows, devastation to local ecosystems and the effects on plant and wildlife could be just as severe.
BEIRUT, Nov 14 (Reuters) - Dust storms scour Iraq. Freak floods wreak havoc in Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Rising sea levels erode Egypt's coast. Hotter, drier weather worsens water scarcity in the Middle East, already the world's most water-short region.
The Arab world is already suffering impacts consistent with climate change predictions. Although scientists are wary of linking specific events to global warming, they are urging Arab governments to act now to protect against potential disasters.
ALEXANDRIA, Egypt (Reuters) - Twenty years ago, Taher Ibrahim raced his friends across Alexandria's beaches, now rising seas have swept over his favourite childhood playground.
Alexandria, with 4 million people, is Egypt's second-largest city, an industrial centre and a port that handles four-fifths of national trade. It is also one of the Middle East's cities most at risk from rising sea levels due to global warming.
"There were beaches I used to go to in my lifetime, now those beaches are gone. Is that not proof enough?" asked Ibrahim, a manager at a supermarket chain who is in his 40s.
Scientists long believed that the collapse of the gigantic ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica would take thousands of years, with sea level possibly rising as little as seven inches in this century, about the same amount as in the 20th century.
But researchers have recently been startled to see big changes unfold in both Greenland and Antarctica.
As a result of recent calculations that take the changes into account, many scientists now say that sea level is likely to rise perhaps three feet by 2100 — an increase that, should it come to pass, would pose a threat to coastal regions the world over.
And the calculations suggest that the rise could conceivably exceed six feet, which would put thousands of square miles of the American coastline under water and would probably displace tens of millions of people in Asia.