Batteries vs Fuel Cells  

Posted by Big Gav

WorldChanging compares the relative merits of batteries and fuel cells. At this point batteries appear to win hands down.

The last few years have seen boundless hype for fuel cells, but remember, no fuel cells are affordable or robust enough for vehicle use yet, and are barely affordable enough for high-end building use. Most people think that battery technology is maxed out, with no breakthroughs to be made, but most people have not been paying close attention. And worse, the people setting research budgets haven't been paying close attention, following the herd down fuel cell boulevard.

High-pressure hydrogen gas has an energy volume-density of about 400 watt-hours per liter, not counting pressurized container or fuel cell volume (which in a car-size system would probably cut the system energy density by 1/3 to 1/2). Status-quo lithium ion batteries have an energy density of 150 Wh/L, but emerging thin-film lithium polymer batteries created in labs by Solidcore, Cymbet, NASA Glenn Research Center, Voltaflex, ITN, and others have energy densities up to 900 Wh/L. They also claim to have "virtually unlimited re-charge capability", unlike status-quo batteries which degrade after several years of normal use.

Electronic Afterlife  

Posted by Big Gav

This article describes the trend towards making recycling a factor in electronic product design.

Sustainable design is now becoming mainstream in many fields of product design. Some of the organisations promoting it include:

The Centre for Sustainable Design (UK)
Change Design (Australia)
RMIT Centre for Design (Australia)
Design InSite (Denmark) - A Designers Guide To Manufacturing

Many more can be found at:

Sustainable Design Directory

Peak in 2007 ?  

Posted by Big Gav

There seems to be a lot of speculation that the peak will occur in 2007. This is roughly in line with the ASPO's prediction - but the reasoning behind it is the lack of any real new capacity coming online from 2007 onwards.

2005 Energy Report From Simmons & Co  

Posted by Big Gav

Here is Matthew Simmons' presentation on the Simmons & Co view of energy markets for 2005.

Energy Related Blogs  

Posted by Big Gav

lowem has compiled a list of energy related blogs. If WorldChanging makes the list then he should probably include the rest of the Viridian stable as well.

Oil and Troubled Waters  

Posted by Big Gav

BRW notes increasing competition for oil and gas and the potential for this to escalate to military action. I sometimes feel we're in a rerun of the years leading up to the first world war.

Decentralised Energy Generation  

Posted by Big Gav

This report analyses the case for decentralised generation of electricity. The core of the argument seems to be that transmission losses and wasting the heat generated by the generation process (which could be used to heat buildings) amounts to a huge waste of energy, and that the efficiency gained by locating generation facilities close to where the power is used could reduce the amount of fuel required by up to 50%.

The Neocon and the Prius  

Posted by Big Gav

It appears the neocons are going green.

Apparently some of them have taken to driving Toyota Prius' and advocating for the use of biodiesel.

Maybe they are sensing the way the wind is blowing in the middle east. If america can't grab the oil it wants they may actually go green voluntarily like the europeans.

Neocons and greens first hitched up in the fall, when they jointly backed a proposal put forward by the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, a Washington-based think tank that tracks energy and security issues. (Woolsey is on the IAGS advisory board.) The IAGS plan proposes that the federal government invest $12 billion to: encourage auto makers to build more efficient cars and consumers to buy them; develop industrial facilities to produce plant-based fuels like ethanol; and promote fuel cells for commercial use. The IAGS plan is keen on "plug-in hybrid vehicles," which use internal combustion engines in conjunction with electric motors that are powered by batteries charged by current from standard electric outlets.

Iran's Insurance Policy  

Posted by Big Gav

Energy Bulletin is speculating that Iran's $250 billion gas deal with China might include some military "insurance" to go along with it.

No doubt a Russian oil pipeline via Iran to the Gulf would be an added to policy.

The scale of the Chinese gas deal is amazing - 87 LNG tankers to be built as part of the deal (I think the current north west shelf fleet is a mere 8 tankers by comparison - though that may not include the recent $25 billion deal with China).

State Of Hopelessness  

Posted by Big Gav

The northern winter is bringing out the harbingers of doom. Here's one from the "we're all going to die" camp.

Alan Bond In Huge Oil Find  

Posted by Big Gav

Call me a cynic but it looks like the energy boom is starting to suck in the parasites. Bondy is now claiming to have an interest in a "75 billion barrel" oil field in Madagascar.

On closer inspection it appears this "oil" is a couple of large tar pits. No doubt a few investors will lose their shirts on this one...


Posted by Big Gav

IDFuel ("fuel for industrial design") is one of the new wave of "Viridian Design" groups.

They have discussed peak oil twice from an industrial design viewpoint recently - at The End Of Consumerism and Time for an Oil Change

While it's a highly contested point, it is believed that world oil production is in the process of peaking. It is estimated that between 2000 and 2020, we will reach a point where we will never be able to take oil out of the ground as fast as we are at that moment. Take a look at petroleum consultant Jack Zagar's presentation for a more in-depth descriptin of the situation. Since oil production will be fixed, we will no longer be able to drive growth by tapping greater reserves of oil-energy, like the U.S.A. did in the 1940s and 1950s. Even more important, to designers, will be the declining availability of petrochemical plastics for products. And since China has just become such a big consumer of manufactured goods, that supply will be decreasing even faster.

Lets face it. We've dug ourselves quite a hole, and we won't get out of it just by saying "Don't use plastic in your designs anymore." In order to avoid completely running out of petro-plastics, we'll need to look at a few options:

  • Champion long-term design, or at least upgradable design. We have to re-instill the idea that the plastic parts of a product are valuable, and don't imply disposability.

  • Incorporate renewable plastics, where possible. Designers can use their collective influence to demand that chemical companies create these products for us, but we've got to do it together.

  • When developing products, imagine them existing in a world where people don't over-consume. What would that product look like? Does it more easily match a variety of decor using low-material additions? Is is part of a class of products which, despite being designed by different companies are still inter-changeable so that you don't need, for instance, one remote control for every device in your house? Or maybe they multi-task, eliminating the need for both a computer and television (or three televisions)

  • Use alternative materials when possible. Seriously. This is the easiest and most quickly applicable method. Treat plastics like they are rare materials with very special properties. Because they are. You don't see people making any old thing out of Gabon Ebony, just because they feel like it.

First off, please understand that many of our references come from very, if not radically liberal organizations. Unfortunately, sites like "Peak oil and the extinction of humanity" tend to make people dismiss the issue as ridiculous. But bear in mind that even the most conservative experts, like the USGS and Bush Administration Energy Advisor Matthew Simmons acknowledge that peak oil is a problem which will come at the most in the next 10-20 years, and at the least, in the next 2-4. This problems is very real, and will have very real consequences, whether we act to solve it or not. If we do act though, we have the opportunity to lessen the blow or even dodge it altogether.

The Viridian Design movement was started by Bruce Sterling - it is his attempt to create a Green movement without what he perceives as the self-righteousness of the current Green movement. He called his movement the Viridian movement to signify its desire for high-tech, stylish, and ecologically sound design. The Viridian Design home page, including Sterling's Viridian Manifesto, is at

Other Viridian site include WorldChanging, TreeHugger and Massive Change.

Some people consider the Viridians a replacement for traditional environmentalism, which some deem to have failed (WorldChanging agrees that things need to change for environmentalism to have an impact in future, but doesn't buy the Viridians vs Greens argument).

Plastic From Orange Peel  

Posted by Big Gav

The BBC and IDFuel report that a process for creating plastic from orange peel has been discovered.

US scientists have discovered a way to make plastics from orange peel, using the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.

Cornell University researchers created a novel polymer using CO2, an oil present in orange peel and a catalyst that speeds the reaction along. The team hopes CO2 could one day be collected for making plastics instead of being pumped into the atmosphere.

Limonene is a carbon-based compound that makes up about 95% of the oil in orange peel and is used to give household cleaners their citrus smell. Geoffrey Coates, a professor of chemistry at Cornell in Ithaca, US, and colleagues used a derivative of this oil called limonene oxide as one of the building blocks for their polymer.

The researchers used a helper molecule, or catalyst, to get the limonene oxide to react with CO2 and form a new polymer called polylimonene carbonate. This polymer has many of the characteristics of polystyrene, which is used in numerous disposable plastic products.

Comparing Oil Production and Consumption for Major Nations  

Posted by Big Gav

These graphs show how the major economies depend on oil imports to keep them going.

The UK graph probably explains why the British are in Iraq with the Americans.

Ukraine Elections  

Posted by Big Gav

Some more analysis, with a peak oil spin.

I see that the inauguration of the american's man is due to go ahead after the final court hurdle was cleared - what will Putin's next move be ?

US policy, as Brzezinski openly stated in The Grand Chessboard, is to Balkanize Eurasia, and ensure that no possible stable economic or political region between Russia, the EU and China emerges in the future that might challenge US global hegemony. This is the core idea of the September 2002 Bush Doctrine of 'pre-emptive wars'.

In taking control of Ukraine, Washington would take a giant step to encircle Russia for the future. Russian moves to use its vast energy reserves to play for room in rebuilding its political role would be over. Chinese efforts to link with Russia to secure some independence from US energy control would also be over. Iran's attempts to secure support from Russia against US pressure would also end. Iran's ability to enter into energy agreements with China would also likely end. Cuba and Venezuela would also likely fall prey to a pro-Washington regime change soon after.

Washington policy is aimed at direct control over the oil and gas flows from the Caspian, including Turkmenistan, and to counter Russian regional influence from Georgia to Ukraine to Azerbaijan and Iran. The background issue is Washington's unspoken recognition of the looming exhaustion of the world's major sources of cheap high-quality oil, the problem of global oil depletion, or as the late American geologist M King Hubbard termed it, of peak oil.

Hot rocks about to blow steam  

Posted by Big Gav

Australian company Geodynamics is about to commence testing their geothermal energy system.

A 'hot rocks' renewable energy project in South Australia is due to begin further testing next month, researchers say.

The testing at Innamincka, in the state's northeast, involves letting off steam from some of the deepest, and certainly the hottest, wells ever drilled into mainland Australia. The wells, named Habanero 1 and 2 after the world's hottest chillies, reach temperatures of more than 250°C at their depths.

Conventional geothermal production generates steam by using naturally available water, which may eventually run out. But Australian company Geodynamics will pump water at high pressure down one well to obtain steam from the other.

Methane Hydrates  

Posted by Big Gav

Japanese researchers are striving to commercialize the use of methane hydrate as an alternative fuel around 2016 amid reports that Japan has enough deposits to last hundreds of years.

Apparently the volume of methane hydrates available is some 20 times that of natural gas. The US Department of Energy also has a number of programs investigating the use of methane hydrates.

On the downside, methane hydrates are thought to pose a considerable risk of rapidly increasing the proportion of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere, thereby accelerating global warming.

There is some evidence that this has happened previously, resulting in the extinction of over 90% of species at the end of the Permian period, which was known as the "end Permian event". This was likely caused by a 6 degree rise in global temperatures (which was originally started by volcanic activity that was then accelerated by the releasing of the methane clathrate layers).

Too Little Oil or Too Much Money ?  

Posted by Big Gav

This article offers the theory that the rising oil price is due to the decline of the US dollar.

Greenspan claims that changes in the balance of oil supply and demand are causing the price of oil to rise. The defining characteristic of oil prices in the past several years has been a steady rise from around $10 a barrel to over $40. Not to put too fine a point on it, that's a 400% increase. Greenspan claims that the relentless rise in prices over the past two years is largely the result of supply disruptions coincident with rising demand in China and India.

The reality is that all manner of oil supply interruptions—hurricanes, strikes, revolutions, militant attacks—have been going on for decades without causing the price of oil to steadily rise as it has over the past several years. It used to be—ever since OPEC's supply-induced price shock in the 1970s—that events that disrupted the oil supply temporarily would cause oil prices to spike up, then decline nearly as rapidly. This happened in the first Gulf War, for example; prices jumped at the beginning of the conflict, then dropped back down a few months later. But this time, the price of oil has been rising steadily. In fact, nearly exactly as long as the dollar has been declining.

WMC Defence Based On Uranium  

Posted by Big Gav

As I've complained recently, XStrata will be stealing a huge Australian asset if WMC shareholders are dumb enough to accept their takeover offer. Andrew Michelmore is making Olympic Dam uranium the cornerstone of WMC's defence.

Tackling Declining Reserves  

Posted by Big Gav

A note from Trinidad on Peak Oil. Its mostly just quotes from Richard Heinberg's "The Party's Over".

"Stranded" Natural Gas to Liquid Fuel  

Posted by Big Gav

A company called Syntroleum claims to have a process for converting otherwise useless natural gas to a synthetic diesel.

Every day natural gas flares blaze across swaths of Africa, Russia, Asia and the Middle East, burning off 10 billion cubic feet of energy--the equivalent of 1.7 million barrels of oil. There's more gas where that came from. Reserves of "stranded" natural gas--the stuff that's abandoned because there's no economical way to transport it--come to maybe 2,500 trillion cubic feet. If captured and converted, the gas would make (after conversion losses) 250 billion barrels of synthetics, from clean-burning diesel to jet fuel. That's like finding another Saudi Arabia.

Tidal energy generator gets go ahead  

Posted by Big Gav

An Australian tidal energy company called Atlantis Energy is implementing their system (the Aquanator) off the east coast.

A self-taught inventor has signed a contract with Country Energy, one of the country's biggest power grids, to test a new source of clean and renewable electricity that will harness ocean currents and has the potential to drastically reduce electricity costs on islands.

Mick Perry, 42, a former auto-electrician and tuna fisherman, is the driving force behind the $3 million underwater generator, the Aquanator, which will be moored in the mouth of the Clarence River at Maclean in northern NSW.

Currents of about 2.5 knots will rotate aquafoils on the generator, which is 57 metres across and nine metres high, producing one megawatt of electricity - enough to power 660 households daily.

I wonder how well this scales up - could thousands of these things be moored along the coastline, or is the current too far offshore in most places ?

Greens predict oil crisis in 10 years  

Posted by Big Gav

The New Zealand Greens are making Peak Oil a campaign issue. I'm surprised Green parties worldwide haven't taken the same tack - its a great stick to beat conservative governments with, and its a much better "state of fear" political tool than the ridiculous "war on terror".

The Limits To Growth  

Posted by Big Gav

Matthew Simmons made these comments while revisiting this work from the 1970's - in essence, he (along with many other people) believe the Club of Rome and the likes of Paul Ehrlich were right on many counts (although they were clearly wrong about mineral resources).

Ideology, technology, the 1970's economic slowdown and a focus on extracting oil as quickly as possible have made it possible for us to ignore the limits for quite a while, but they are now becoming apparent to anyone who keeps their eyes open.

In the early 1970's, a book was published entitled, The Limits To Growth, a report of the Club of Rome's project on the predicament of mankind. Its conclusions were stunning. It was ultimately published in 30 languages and sold over 30 million copies. According to a sophisticated MIT computer model, the world would ultimately run out of many key resources. These limits would become the "ultimate" predicament to mankind.

Over the past few years, I have heard various energy economists lambast this "erroneous" work done. Often the book has been portrayed as the literal "poster child" of misinformed "Malthusian" type thinking that misled so many people into believing the world faced a short mania 30 years ago. Obviously, there were no "The Limits To Growth". The worry that shortages would rule the day as we neared the end of the 20th Century became a bad joke. Instead of shortages, the last two decades of the 20th Century were marked by glut. The world ended up enjoying significant declines in almost all commodity prices. Technology and efficiency won. The Club of Rome and its "nay-saying" disciples clearly lost!

The critics of this flawed work still relish in pointing out how wrong this theory turned out to be. A Foreign Affairs story published this past January, entitled Cheap Oil, forecast two decades of a pending oil glut. In this article, the Club of Rome's work was scorned as being the source document which led an entire generation of wrong-thinking people to believe that energy supplies would run short. In this Foreign Affairs report, the authors stated, "....the "sky-is-falling school of oil forecasters has been systematically wrong for more than a generation. In its dramatic 1972 The Limits to Growth report, the group of prominent experts known as The Club of Rome wrote that only 550 billion barrels of oil remained and that they would run out by 1990."

This past May, Rice University's Baker Institute held an energy forum entitled "Running on Empty?" where the topic of future energy reliability was carefully addressed. John Lichtblau, Chairman of the Petroleum Industry Research Foundation (FIRING) made reference to this work in his keynote remarks. In a comment on how virtually all global forecasts of resource-constrained oil production turned out to be wrong, he said "Many of you still recall the widely quoted, very prestigious "Club of Rome" report of 1972 which predicted a fundamental resource constraint on oil supplies by the end of the 20th Century."

For a publication that is almost 30 years out of print, it is fascinating that anyone still even remembers what the book said. I have occasionally been privately amused at the passion this Club of Rome work still evokes. As I have heard this study thoroughly discredited, I have wondered whether the anger this book still creates is the equivalent of getting livid at a bartender "the morning after," when one's headache was so wicked. Could the core angst this work still generates result from a backlash or an embarrassment by these same critics for embracing these shortage concepts and then being proved wrong?

The original book itself has now been revised again - its not as gloomy as most peak oil books, but it is clear we need to begin addressing the problems now.

Uranium prices are set to climb  

Posted by Big Gav

The International Herald Tribune notes that "Uranium prices are set to climb - Supplies dwindle even as Asia builds more nuclear reactors". Australia has a lot to gain with the expansion of the nuclear energy market (although horrible, I see this as inevitable, in spite of the likely resistance that additional mining will face),as it has a large chunks of the world's uranium reserves. The sale of WMC to Xstrata must surely be blocked on national interest grounds.

Staring Down The Barrel Of A Crisis  

Posted by Big Gav

This weekend's Financial Review devoted part of the front page and all of the back page to discussing peak oil. They didn't speculate on the end results, just quoted the ASPO and showed their depletion curves then talked about higher petrol and uranium prices.

Solar vs Ethanol  

Posted by Big Gav

Energy Bulletin has just published two articles on renewable energies - the first, Thermodynamics of the Corn-Ethanol Biofuel cycle, says that ethanol production from corn is basically useless and declares that solar is far more efficient and cost effective.

The second, Worldwide capacity of solar thermal energy greatly underestimated, says that solar is already a major energy source world-wide and still has considerable potential.

Not everyone agrees with this view of ethanol though - this article "Is ethanol energy-efficient ?" quotes the US Department of Agriculture and says that "ethanol contains 34% more energy than is used to grow and harvest the corn and distill it into ethanol". No doubt there is a fair amount of politics involved, so its hard to be sure exactly where the truth of it is.

A Libertarian's Guide To Peak Oil  

Posted by Big Gav

This is the best guide to the oil market I've seen - easy going but covers a wide range of ground. And it includes the excellent paragraph below about ravenous fat men.

I could point out that crude oil formations underneath the Saudi desert, or Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela, or wherever, aren't our property – even if they aren't private property per se – and therefore we are no more entitled to that crude than a ravenous fat man is entitled to a free meal everywhere he goes. However, the militant mercantilist is unlikely to care about such niceties, and is probably happy knowing his government is willing to stick guns in peoples faces and demand they fork over their property because "we need it more."

Unfortunately it does go a bit free-market mystic at the end, but its still worth a read.

We cannot ignore the fact that this an industry interlaced with government from top to bottom, whether we are talking about the huge state-owned firms of the big producing nations or our own heavily regulated supermajors. That is the reality, lamentable and regrettable as it is. But as libertarians, we need to remember a few things. First, whatever ends up replacing petroleum will come in its own good time, later than we'd like but probably sooner than we expect. It will come because it stores energy and power better than gasoline does and more cheaply to boot. It will come with some tremendous benefits and some unfortunate drawbacks.

The End of Oil ?  

Posted by Big Gav

Technology Review is now talking about the end of oil. Hopefully the surge of publicity in the US and elsewhere will stimulate investment in renewable technologies and restructuring the developed economies to become less energy intensive.

Because 15 years ago we failed to begin developing the new energy sources and technologies we need now, Deffeyes argues, in the immediate future we’ll have to rely on what we’ve got. In Beyond Oil, he examines how we might optimize the use of our geologically derived energy sources.

Deffeyes suggests that coal will make a comeback and that Fischer-Tropsch conversion—the process by which the Nazi regime turned coal into gasoline to keep its Panzers running during WWII—might become commonplace. He grants that there’ll be an outcry over the ecological costs of burning coal; similarly, there’ll be much agonizing as nuclear power plants are again rolled out. But Deffeyes believes that M. King Hubbert, whose 1956 paper predicting the U.S. oil production peak is titled “Nuclear Energy and the Fossil Fuels,” was right: nuclear power will be part of our response to decreasing reserves of oil and natural gas, as necessity overrides any political opposition.

Ultimately, says Deffeyes, we may just have to resign ourselves to relying more on coal, wind, and nuclear fission for ­electricity and switching to high-efficiency diesel and hybrid automobiles in order to ration our remaining oil reserves for as long as possible. Abundant energy from fossil fuels was a one-time gift, Deffeyes concludes, that lifted humanity up from subsistence agriculture and has led to a future based on renewable resources.

Widescale Biodiesel Production from Algae  

Posted by Big Gav

There are a lot of advocates of biodiesel as a viable alternative fuel source to replace regular (fossil fuel) diesel and petrol. This group have analysed the possibility of industrial production of biodiesel using algae acting on sources such as human and animal waste.

In spite of the optimistic tone of the author, its hard to imagine it replacing a significant portion of current fuel needs, but its certainly worth investing in as one renewable energy source among many.

And everyone produces the fuel for this process.

The Gathering Storm  

Posted by Big Gav

Analyst Charles T. Maxwell outlines his views on the peak (a relatively optimistic 2020 for the main peak).

THE ENERGY CRISIS WE ARE IN today is entirely different from the temporary problems we experienced in 1973-74, 1979-86, 1990-91 and 2000. Then, there were political issues: Some nations were willing and able to produce oil for our use and some were not. There was always sufficient worldwide geological capacity to produce additional barrels of crude oil to meet the world's needs.

No longer. In the next major energy crisis, that capacity will likely be eroded. So the crisis should have a severe impact, be global in scope, and be difficult to solve. Plainly, it will be unprecedented. What may emerge could well be a restructured world, as well as a restructured oil industry.

Over the next 25 years, a new world energy economy will arrive in three waves. We are near the top of the first and smallest one, a warning wave. A second more powerful wave likely will hit in the 2009-2010 period when the non-OPEC world may reach its all-time highest output of crude oil, subsequently declining to become ever more dependent on OPEC for incremental barrels of production. The final wave should break around 2020, or earlier, as even OPEC's vast reserves are tapped at a maximum rate of production. After that, oil volume should head down and keep falling, never to revive.

Disasters waiting to happen  

Posted by Big Gav

An extract from Jared Diamond's new book "Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive".

China: Expanding Into U.S. Oil Sweet Spot?  

Posted by Big Gav

The US energy industry is telling their men in Washington how to respond to Chinese moves.

New Solar Converter Five Times More Efficient Than Traditional Means  

Posted by Big Gav

Researchers at the University of Toronot have developed a more efficient solar conversion technology. It utilises infra-red wavelengths as well as regular light, and the material can apparently be sprayed (or painted) on.

Sargent and other researchers combined specially-designed minute particles called quantum dots, three to four nanometres across, with a polymer to make a plastic that can detect energy in the infrared.

Infrared light is not visible to the naked eye but it is what most remote controls emit, in small amounts, to control devices such as TVs and DVD players.

It also contains a huge untapped resource -- despite the surge in popularity of solar cells in the 1990s, we still miss half of the sun's power, Sargent said.

"In fact, there's enough power from the sun hitting the Earth every day to supply all the world's needs for energy 10,000 times over,'' Sargent said in a phone interview Sunday from Boston. He is currently a visiting professor of nanotechnology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Sargent said the new plastic composite is, in layman's terms, a layer of film that "catches'' solar energy. He said the film can be applied to any device, much like paint is coated on a wall.

Escape From Suburbia  

Posted by Big Gav

The makers of "End of Suburbia" are about to start work on a follow up.

An Interview With Jay Hanson  

Posted by Big Gav

An interview with the gloomiest prophet of peak oil.

Its hard to tell if Jay is a just an opinionated nut or if he's a genius - he certainly suffers from the usual american need for attention. At the very least, he's very entertaining in a depressing way.

The "Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come", in Charles Dickens’ classic story, leads Ebenezer Scrooge to his own future gravesite - the desolate, neglected and evidently disgraced outcome of his life. The scene is chilling:

“Before I draw nearer to that stone to which you point,” said Scrooge,” answer me one question. Are these the shadows of the things that Will be, or are they shadows of things that May be, only?”

Still the Ghost pointed downward to the grave by which it stood.

“Men's courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead,” said Scrooge. “But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change. Say it is thus with what you show me.”

The Spirit was immovable as ever.

Scrooge went on to redeem himself. But the fate of Industrial Civilization and the human species may not turn out so cheerily, according to the Internet Age’s ultimate Neo-Malthusian, super-tough and supremely net-savvy Jay Hanson. For more than an Internet age, Jay Hanson has commanded attention and respect playing “Ghost of Dieoff Yet to Come” to Industrial Civilization's Ebenezer.

America's looming - and permanent - oil crisis  

Posted by Big Gav

Peak oil is spreading into the mainstream american (print) media - one example from the Roanoke Times.

Chinese Buying Up Oil  

Posted by Big Gav

This is a smart way of disposing of those useless US$ they've been accumulating - buying up asian oilfields.

Thankfully WMC shareholders are resisting the urge to sell off 38% of the world's uranium supply to XStrata at a bargain rate. Olympic dam will be a bonanza once the peak becomes obvious to all and the scramble for uranium begins in earnest.

Runaway Train  

Posted by Big Gav

But can the train be stopped ?

ASPO Newsletter #49  

Posted by Big Gav

This month's ASPO newsletter is now out - unfortunately without any new changes to their depletion curve.

There are a couple of interesting snippets, including Deutsche's recent research paper:

The Financial Community wakes up to Depletion

The following comments from the Deutsche Bank confirm that the financial community becomes aware of depletion. In all probability, the Second half of the Age of Oil will spell the end of the current Industrial-Financial System, which not only created economic growth but depended on it. The growth was itself essentially a manifestation of confidence that the mammoth debt created by the system could be re-paid. If it can’t be re-paid for lack of energy, logic demands the destruction of “capital” during the Second Half. It was n’t really capital in the first place in the sense of representing work or genuine assets but rather an expression of confidence that the past financial regime was sustainable. It would be interesting to know if the financial community can identify any genuine investments that will remain in tact despite the decline and eventual end of cheap oil-based energy that made the world go round. All identified substitutes are less efficient and more expensive.

From Deutsche Bank Research, December 2, 2004

ASPO view

The Association for the Study of Peak Oil&Gas, ASPO (see various articles from K. Aleklett and C.J. Campbell at, a group of former petroleum geologists in the service of prominent petroleum corporations (e.g. BP Amoco) argues in favor of taking a different angle. It assumes a steep ascent in the output curve up to a peak, followed by a comparatively flat descent. The result is that the peak in production comes well ahead of the depletion mid-point, meaning that the production curve peaks far earlier than hitherto anticipated. Initially this applies to oil, and then, with time lag, to natural gas. In its mid 2004 updated forecast for oil, the ASPO brought the peak for oil forward from 2010 to 2008.

Dramatic implications of ASPO scenario

Were the ASPO scenario to prove correct, the consequences could be dramatic. Within the space of just a few years oil supply would start to shrink in the face of a growth trend in global demand, driven not least by the increasing hunger for energy in the heavily populated Asian countries. ExxonMobil expects 80% additional global demand for energy up to 2020 to come from the developing countries (see ExxonMobil, A Report on Energy Trends, February 2004, p.3). In the worst-case scenario, the already emerging widening of supply/demand gap could trigger a shortage shock leading to price crisis. This would also impact world economic development.

Also conceivable, though, is a more or less steady climb in the price of oil (and later also natural gas), which would tend to rein in demand for the energy carrier and encourage gradual substitution. What is more, price increases would imply an expansion of the reserve base as non-conventional reserves and current resources become more price-competitive. The peak calculated with reference to “present reserves” could then be delayed for a few more years. The possibility of realigning the energy mix without radical economic disturbance would be all the more likely, the sooner politicians, industry and private consumers respond to the signs of the times on the markets for hydrocarbons.

Venturing to look farther forward on the supply of energy, say to the end of our century, by then the future will already be behind us, at least in terms of petroleum. The end-of-the-fossil-hydrocarbons scenario is not therefore a doom-and gloom picture painted by pessimistic end-of-the world prophets, but a view of scarcity in the coming years and decades that must be taken seriously.

Forward-looking politicians, company chiefs and economists should prepare for this in good time, to effect the necessary transition as smoothly as possible.

Conclusion: Time to act

The Timeline Of Doom  

Posted by Big Gav

These guys are a little bit pessimistic.

From peak oil to the end of the petroleum age.

Tar Sands  

Posted by Big Gav

This article discusses the increasing production of oil from Canadian tar sands.

I think the key things to note are:

1. Oil can be produced from tar sands (albeit with a large amount of environmental destruction)
2. The price of oil is now high enough to make it economically justifiable
3. You need natural gas to do this (and the natural gas peak, particularly in North America, isn't far off)
4. The AIP lives in another universe if they think there are 14 trillion barrels of oil out there
5. There are doubts as to whether tar sand oil production can flow fast enough to replace the oil production volume lost through post peak depletion

Why We Need Alternatives to Oil  

Posted by Big Gav

This article discusses the need to start focussing on finding energy sources to replace oil - fast.

With the political stability of Saudi Arabia in doubt and peak oil just around the corner, it's critical the West find realistic alternatives to petroleum.

If you use the US Geological Survey's estimate of world oil reserves of 649 billion barrels of oil, and apply Hubbert's formulae, world oil production will peaking around 2022.

Many people think that the US Geological Survey's numbers are greatly inflated. In his book "Hubbert's Peak", Professor Kenneth S. Deffeyes of Princeton University predicts that the peak for world oil production will be reached by 2006 or 2007. Many others believe we have already reached Hubbert's peak.

There is supporting evidence that oil is, indeed, reaching its peak. In March 2004 Shell oil cut its estimated oil reserves for the second time in three months. The Saudi oil fields, which supposedly have the world's largest proven reserves of crude oil, are also showing signs of aging. Water has been seen mixed with the oil; a sure sign that the field is past its prime. Companies have had to start drilling horizontally instead of vertically which increases the cost of oil production.


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