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Canadian Tar Sands: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly
Peak Oil: A Shattered Myth?
Dr. Joe Duarte, Rigzone
Some are saying that peak oil is a myth since there is plenty of low grade oil to still be recovered around the world. The question is whether it's worth the price being paid to mine the stuff, and whether the problems spawned by its extraction will be worth it in the long run.
The Wall Street Journal suggests that peak oil is not truly happening. "The surging interest in Canadian oil sands is stark evidence that the world isn't about to run out of oil..."
We were proponents of the same concept since we wrote "Successful Energy Sector Investing," in 2001. But five years later, a great deal has happened that has led us to a new perspective, that of joining the camp that believes that oil is perhaps at the start of its final stage as the primary fuel on planet Earth.
And while it could still be decades before we know who's right and who's wrong, the real story is being written now, in the forests of Canada and in the Orinoco Basin in Venezuela, two ecologically sensitive areas of the world.
...If this seems to good to be true, as you prepare to pay $3 per gallon to drive your car this summer, as could well happen if current price trends remain intact, there is an even darker side to the use of low grade oil.
According to the Journal: "heavy oil has big economic and environmental drawbacks. It costs more to produce and takes more energy to turn into gasoline than traditional light oil. Recovering and processing Fort McMurray's heavy crude releases up to three times as much greenhouse gas as producing conventional crude. And upgrading it into refined products, such as gasoline or diesel, will require a gigantic investment to retool global refineries."
The extraction process is so labor intensive and requires so much heat, in order to extract the oil from the tar sand that "Total briefly floated the idea of building a nuclear-power plant" in Fort Mc Murray.
In other words, just because new oil is likely to be more plentiful, processing costs will likely keep prices higher than in the past, and the toll on the environment won't be fully known for years to decades.
...But far beyond the near term, it is unlikely that the tar sand phenomenon will permanently fix what has become increasingly obvious to anyone who cares to have their eyes open about the world's energy situation.
The price of oil is unlikely to fall significantly anytime soon, due to higher extraction and security costs, limited refinery capacity, and the writing on the wall, the easy oil has been found and the hard to find stuff is now on its way to being used up.
(28 March 2006)
The Long Emergency
Surviving the Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century (5-part VIDEO)
James Howard Kunstler, Orion
A five-week video series exploring the past, the present, and the quite possibly chaotic future of the industrial period. Will Wal-Mart survive without ridiculously cheap oil? Will FEMA even be able to answer the phone in twenty years? De facto cultural historian James Howard Kunstler runs the numbers. (Get ready: We come up a bit short.) Now available in both QuickTime and WindowsMedia formats.
PART ONE: How the Hell Did We Get Here? (6:18)
Before trying to figure out how we're going to get out of the oil mess we're in, it might help to know a bit about how it all happened. Kunstler offers a casual history of the industrial experience (fossil fuel use), from the 17th century up to the modern period.
PART TWO: Hubbert's Curve, and Other Inconvenient Facts (8:11)
On the rise of OPEC and the turbulent 1970s -- how it all happened, and what it means for us today.
PART THREE: Reagan's Short-Lived "Morning in America" (7:11)
On the 1980s, the 1990s, the "Jiminy Cricket" economy, and an awful lot of wishful thinking about alternative energy.
PART FOUR: The Twilight of Wal-Mart (and Everything Else That's Huge)
On the symptoms of systemic failure. Without cheap oil for transport, will Wal-Mart be able to maintain its long-distance romance with China? Will FEMA even be able to answer the phone in twenty years?
Coming April 3rd, 2006
PART FIVE: Keeping the Lights On
On facing the New Reality. We can begin to envision and to build a post-oil "American Way of Life?" But are Americans ready? Are they even listening?
Go to the original article for links to video files. The videos seem to consist of Kunstler talking on camera.
Global Public Media: Audio of Jan Bosak, Ray Anderson, Simmons, Ireland and PO
Global Public Media
Jon Bosak on "The Party's Over: Going Local" AUDIO
How can a rural county plan for Peak Oil? Find out in this discussion with Jon Bosak of the Thompkins County Relocalization Project in central New York. Jason Bradford hosts "The Party's Over: Going Local" on KZYX in Mendocino County, CA.
Sustainable Business on the BBC AUDIO
Global Business on BBC radio features Ray Anderson, director of a large carpet manufacturer attempting to reach zero footprint business.
Matt Simmons Head Matt Simmons on Radio New Zealand's "Ideas" AUDIO
This week Ideas with Chris Laidlaw on Radio New Zealand looks at the future of world oil supplies with energy banker Matthew Simmons.
RTE Radio 1 Ireland features peak oil AUDIO
Throughout February 2006, RTE Radio 1's 5-7 Live examined Ireland's looming energy crisis. What is going to happen when the production of oil peaks?
Recent additions to the GPM website
Saturday April 1, 2006
07:30 pm AS IT HAPPENED: 2013 - LA FIN DU PETROLE)
More than 80% of the global economy relies on petroleum. What would happen if the world's oil supply dried up overnight? Directed by Stéphane Meunier and starring Hippolyte Girardot, Gwendoline Hamon and Helena Noguerra. 2013: Oil No More is a doco-drama based on the idea that oil companies, having vastly overstated their oil reserves to keep their value high, are faced with a wave of terrorist attacks aimed at jeopardising oil supplies to the West. Reluctantly, they have to own up with the fact there's only two years of supply left. Interviews with scientists, economists, environmentalists and Green politicians alternate with dramatisations following the life of greedy stock broker Paul. He has invested 90% of his company's shares in oil and watches with glee as the price of petrol skyrockets, until his professional and personal life are directly affected as a disastrous recession takes hold of the oil-dependent world. Also stars Nicolas Sarkis (Editor-in-Chief, Pétrole et Gaz Arabe), Jacques Attali (President, Planet France), Yves Cochet (Representative for Paris Green Party) and Jean-Marie Chevalier (Lecturer, Paris-Dauphine University, Director of C.E.R.A). (From France, in French and English, with English subtitles) CC WS
SMS Alert Code: 6681
Reported by Annatar at peakoil-dot-com.
Recent PO publications in Dutch
Latest Saturday issue of Flemish daily Gazet van Antwerpen ran a lengthy article on peak oil, or more precisely, on Dutch Peak Oil Foundation. For those who can read Dutch, it now can be found free of charge at Peakoil.nl.
It also features an interview with Colin Campbell.
Another development would be that the latest issue of De Helling, which is the magazine of the scientific bureau of Dutch Groen Links (Green Left) party, features a lengthy article on the energy issue and its ramifications for the future. Though the word 'peak oil' isn't used as such, the problem gets at least a succinct summary of the general PO argument.
In all, the article makes it very clear that whatever options we'd chose for, there's no easy way out for the future.
They propose four separate general models (Global Market; Safe Region; Global Solidarity; Caring Region), but warn that none of those models, using whatever means and solutions, will be able to bolster energy security in the long run. Only the Global Solidarity model would at least be able to do well on climate stabilisation. Their claim that it would also be neutral when it comes to sustainable energy supply, seems hard to believe, but is probably derived from their less critical stance on biomass and (the resource availability for) wind and solar energy.
There's a lot more, of course. For those interested, the issue can be ordered separately from their website.
(29 March 2006)