NC Media Watch

A quest for reason and accuracy in letters to the editor, guest editorials and other issues of interest to the citizens of Western Nevada County.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Union hand wringing over peak oil (edited)

Pat Butler: Oil usage + declining supply = real concerns, November 19, 2005

Pat Butler went to the Peak Oil Presentation, then wrote about it, regurgitation much of the speakers points with out checking out some of the facts. Lets look at some of his statements and see if they stand up to reason.
PG&E, meanwhile, has informed its captive clientele that energy bills will skyrocket this winter, no doubt fueled by the laws of supply and demand as they apply in this case to natural gas, once considered an abundant and inexpensive fuel.
Natural gas is still abundant in Alaska and the Canadian Mcckenzie Delta, but the native tribes which control the land over which the pipeline will pass, aided by environmental groups, have delayed this pipe line for more than a decade. With approval to build the pipeline it can be completed in just three years. Venezuela, Siberia, and Southeast Asia have huge gas fields with no markets. Efforts to build Liquid Natural Gas terminals in the US have been blocked by NIMBYs and environmentalist, to bring this gas to the US market. LNG ships are available to move the gas, but no US receiving terminals. So, Mexico is building terminals in Baja, just south of the US border. We have created our own shortage, and now we will pay for this all winter long.
The bottom line is that we are using fossil fuels at a far faster rate than we are finding new energy sources, which are getting increasingly expensive to develop or extract.
Really, Pat should check out the December issue of Wired, which gives the global reserves, including the Tar Sands-4.3 trillion barrels and US oil shale-2.5 trillion barrels, over 212 years of gasoline at the current rate of consumption. We are using easy to use light sweet crude at a faster rate then were are finding it, not "fossil fuels." Where is the peak with 212 years of gas available from oil shale?
Tuesday’s speaker on the topic of peak oil did not appear to be a granola-munching vegan.
If it talks like a duck, walks like duck, it must be duck. In this case the duck was wearing a jacket, tie and had a pile of power point slides. It had to be those power point slides that made it all real and factual for the audience. Pound for pound I have seen more horse puckey on power point slides than in a barn yard. Check out Richard Heinberg at his web site and let me know if you think he is granola crunching anti-capitalist.
And don’t be reassured that Big Oil, Big Business or Big Politicians are even at this moment tackling the problem. They’re all too worried about the next election or quarterly profits statement
Really, Shell (Big Oil) has invested billions in tackling the shale oil problem, even after the billions of government subsidies were withdrawn in 1982. Now they have a process for extracting shale oil at $20-30 per barrel, 1 million barrels per surface acre, see the December issue of Wired page 246-7 for details. I am taking a copy of Wired to Pat on Monday, for reference the next time he gets a peak oil story on his desk.
They should have started looking at the problem years ago.
Well the Canadian’s have been working on the oil sands problems since 1969, they are now producing 1 million barrels/day, with plan for 4 million per day. Shell has been working on the shale oil problem for over 20 years. Big Oil has been developing deep water technology since 1976, which has gone from 15,000 feet, to 35,000 feet next year. I guess none of this counts?
According to Heinberg, the U.S. reached its peak oil production in 1970. Now, the most powerful nation in the world gets 65 percent of its oil from other countries.
Yes, and you have to ask why? The environmental movement came on the scene in the 1970s and we stopped drilling off our coasts and in Alaska. Democrats complain about being held hostage by foreign oil, while blocking exploration at home? Where in the hell do they think domestic oil is going to come from?
Future potential sources of oil include the arctic refuge, the tar sands of Canada and offshore sites, all sources that will take a considerable investment in time and energy before any substantial benefits are realized.
Investments that are being made! Canada is in the process of increasing tar sands productions to 4 million barrels per day, but they cannot ship it to the US, as our northern state refineries are at capacity. So they are building a pipeline to the Pacific coast, with a terminal at Kitimat, to ship the oil to China. They could send 100,000 barrels / day to Oklahoma refineries by reversing an existing pipeline. They want to build a pipline to California, but guess who is blocking this new source of oil. Big Enviros? Why build the pipeline, we have no excess refining capacity. But, I guess Canada's production does not count as a "substantial benefit." It does not fit the peak oiler's agenda.
Heinberg even suggested that nations might go to war over oil. And before you say that’s liberal fear-mongering, think about what would happen if Bin Laden and his grisly band of terrorists were able to overthrow the Saudi royal family and cut off those oil supplies to the United States.
Yea, think about it. The Democrats want us immediatly to withdraw from Iraq, and turn the Middle East over to Bin Laden. How long do you think Saudi Arabia will last with Bin Laden in control of Iraq? Want peak oil real fast, get out of Iraq without leaving behind a stable goverment.
But if we all decide to ignore this problem or turn it into a left versus right issue, we can probably look forward to a day when we won’t be able to afford to drive very often and that will take care of our local traffic headaches.
Yea, the lack of oil will take care of the global warming problem too, no driving, no CO2, no global warming. The flu pandemic will kill one quarter to one half of us, and our oil needs will drop significantly. If hand wring would solve the problem we are half way there. Where ever there is?

Read the December issue of Wired, "Why @!#% High Oil Prices, it is the cover story. Data also came from the November 8 Financial Times, "Canada's oil sands can give much of the world a fresh energy source." They give some perspective to all this peak oil hand wringing.

UPDATE: A reader suggested this RAND Report on shale oil production.

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