Peak Oil Popping Up Everywhere  

Posted by Big Gav

I suspect its going to be hard to track the flow of Peak Oil news in the coming months - even Energy Bulletin seems to be missing a lot lately.

Today seems to be the busiest yet, with TreeHugger publishing a good introductory article called "The Ascent of Peak Oil".

I have been hoping PO was kind of a crank hobby which would take a decade to eventuate rather than an actual imminent disaster waiting to happen, but what was a trickle of speculation is now a full on flood.

These guys have done what I would have liked to have the capacity to do - analyse individual energy companies and try to work out their individual peak production dates. The results aren't pretty.

Herold believes that the French oil company, Total S.A., will reach its peak production in 2007. Herold expects 2008 to be critical, with Exxon Mobil Corp., ConocoPhillips Co., BP, Royal Dutch/Shell Group, and the Italian producer, Eni S.p.A., all hitting their peaks. In 2009, Herold expects ChevronTexaco Corp. to peak. In Herold's view, each of the world's seven largest publicly traded oil companies will begin seeing production declines within the next 48 months or so.

Executive vice president Richard Gordon, who heads Herold's global strategies team, says the firm's goal in doing peak-production estimates for individual oil companies is simple: "If the dinosaurs are going extinct, we are trying to figure out which ones are going to go extinct the soonest."

Rigzone asks " How Will the 'Peak Oil' Scenario Affect Our Global Economy?", but doesn't even try to answer the question.

Mobjectivist also has a bunch of news, including a Republican congressman addressing the US House of Representatives on the topic of peak oil.

Marshall Auerbach also has a new article called "The View From Hubbert's Peak" (which even references FTW, which must be a first for an economics journal).
Algeria’s minister for energy and mines has conceded what many in the “Peak Oil” camp have been arguing for quite some time: OPEC has reached its production limit, and trying to stretch output by one million barrels per day isn't likely to lower oil prices.

Current market conditions have led to the most remarkable Damascene conversion of all: The rapid rise in global oil demand should lead the industrialised world to promote energy conservation and alternatives to oil, the International Energy Agency (IEA) warned last week. The cri de Coeur from the West’s leading energy-policy advisor marks a sharp turnaround from an organization which has hitherto dismissed notions of an imminent supply shortages and consistently overstated energy supply. Indeed, as recently as last year, the IEA was openly expressing the hope that demand growth might slow in 2005, when actual figures already proved this wish utterly fanciful. China's oil demand alone is expected to grow by 33% this year. Industrialized and developing nations are expanding their economies as fast as possible to generate cash and liquidity as a means of securing more oil.

In response to the most recent surge in oil prices, President Bush has called for increased energy conservation (interestingly enough, a stance that was disparaged by his Vice President just 2 years earlier when he was eagerly pressing the case for war in Iraq), as well as using America’s increasing reliance on imported oil (from increasingly unstable regimes) as justification for increased drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, on Alaska’s North Slope.

The problem, as energy investment banker Matthew Simmons - long a smoke alarm for Peak Oil - has said repeatedly, "is that the world has no Plan B." Simmons is absolutely correct. He further notes, “The world's network of crude oil pipelines also is now operating at virtually 100% capacity. For almost all of 2004, the world's tanker system operated at full capacity too. This sparked an unprecedented rise in taker rates, which added up to $5 to $6 per barrel to the wellhead price of oil in some key long-haul export routes.” Why are no more tankers being built? Because, as Simmons, Campbell, Groppe, Michael Ruppert and others in the “Peak Oil” camp have argued, soon there won't be enough oil to ship to cover what it would cost to build them.

In other news, Russia is likely to build a new gas pipeline directly from St Petersburgh to Germany (and possibly onwards to Britain), bypassing Belarus and the Ukraine - no doubt prompted by the Ukraine's election of a pro-American president rather than a pro-Russian one. Eurasia seems to be reforming once again (albeit with a lot of holes in the middle).

And finally, Monkeygrinder notes there is a lot of methane about, and that it doesn't smell all that good. Personally I'm a bit conflicted about this - both from an economic viewpoint (I like investing in natural gas producers, and they bring a lot of money into the country) and a global warming viewpoint (its better than burning coal, and could be the feedstock for the first steps towards a hydrogen economy). Admittedly if an LNG ship or unloading facility were to blow, it would be best if this happened well away from a populated area.

While I have an enormous amount of contempt for the "War On Terror" (or Tyranny, or whatever else it is this week) and mostly consider it a giant scam intended to keep us in a state of fear, the risk of attacks isn't zero, and is probably rising the longer US (and other) forces remain in the middle east. Given that, I'd consider the biggest target in Australia to be the North West Shelf LNG plant - which would make a much bigger bang than just one ship or unloading terminal. So while security guards walking around the harbour bridge is just stupid security theatre, I'd hope there are a few real security people guarding that one facility.

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