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Goldman Sachs may be meddling in the commodities market, but between the growing supplies due to new oil fields coming online (like the giant one they just found offshore Brazil), and the lower demand due to the recession, oil prices won't be going anywhere for a while, unless we decide to raise taxes on gas.
Hmmmmm sounds like you're saying oil isn't a finite resource? Also sounds like you're saying oil prices/supplies will pretty much stay the same when the recession is over? I do agree a bit that prices won't be going anywhere for awhile (in the next year).
"Hmmmmm sounds like you're saying oil isn't a finite resource?"
No, oil is a finite resource in the same way that gravel is a finite resource.
At the rate the Chinese are developing electric vehicles, and major investment companies are pouring $ into solar thermal / wind energy, oil can only increase so much before people switch to alternatives.
JB responding to a comment by User1
06.25.09 - 3:20 pm
Alternative energy sources don't have anywhere near the same EROI (Energy Return on Energy Investment) number compared to crude oil.
Here's what I was going to post to your previous comment:
Peak oil (the point at which half of the world's oil has been extracted) is not a myth, it is a geological certainty. The debate is over exactly when and how the peak will manifest itself.
The "Peak Oil Theory" claims (among other things) that it's going to become more difficult and expensive to extract the world's remaining oil since the easy deposits have already been exploited. Since our present "Western" lifestyle is solely dependent on dirt cheap energy in the form of oil, and there's no other substitute that can come close to oil's price vs. energy output ratio, our most basic necessities are going to get more constrained and/or very expensive.
In other words, running out of oil is not so much the issue - running out of CHEAP oil is the problem.
The most conservative oil company reports that I've read claim (ambiguously) that "we have 20 or 30 years of oil left." That's well within the lifetimes of most people here. Some researchers say the world is at peak right now.
Whatever happens to gas prices in the next few months, energy issues are going to affect our lives profoundly in the not-too-distant future. This is absolutely something to start thinking about now.
"No, oil is a finite resource in the same way that gravel is a finite resource. "
Last time I checked people weren't building massive pipelines, hauling ships across the world, digging deep into the earth, destroying eco systems and going to war in the pursuit of more gravel. Oil isn't going away anytime soon, but as has already been mentioned, most of the big easy fields are already tapped, and it will get more and more expensive to keep up with world demand. Our oil consumption has finally started ticking backward, but not nearly at the rate China and India are increasing oil consumption, and hence China will soon surpass the United States as the worlds biggest oil consumer. Unless some seriously unforeseen giant ass oil fields come on line in the immediate future (doubtful), we are going to hit ever more expensive prices for oil within at least a decade, likely much sooner. Peak oil is real, and it is coming.
OK so if oil is a finite resource and we are consuming it, then how can there not be peak oil at some point? And yeah it's finite resource like gravel, but gravel doesn't have the hydrocarbons needed to keep the world running, so not really a big demand for it.
You're giving way too much credit thinking electric vehicles are going to save the day. You got China and India wanting to increase their standards of living. Somewhere down the line there'll be countries in Africa and South America wanting to increase their standards of living. This comes at a cost, and that cost will be in higher prices of oil, and the use of other dirty fossil fuels. You have China coming onboard opening one new coal-fired plant every week. All to make goods. Electric cars perhaps?
Solar and wind plants is not going to save the day either. It's very small tiny percentage of our whole energy capacity. It just gets gobbled up with our insatiable desire for more energy. What's going to finally start to turn the rate of consumption at level rate, and then down, is the cost of energy(oil).
What's the big wild card in the next few years is the melting of the arctic circle. Sadly that what caused the melting of the cap, may well do in the planet huh? That is of course matters what they find up there and the policy the world takes in the future.
The 'Peak Oil' Myth: New Oil Is Plentiful
by: Jason Schwarz June 22, 2008
The data is becoming conclusive that peak oil is a myth. High oil prices (USO) (OIL) are doing their job as oil exploration is flush with new finds:
1. An offshore find by Brazilian state oil company Petrobras (PBR) in partnership with BG Group (BRGYY.PK) and Repsol-YPF may be the world's biggest discovery in 30 years, the head of the National Petroleum Agency said. A deep-water exploration area could contain as much as 33 billion barrels of oil, an amount that would nearly triple Brazil's reserves and make the offshore bloc the world's third-largest known oil reserve. "This would lay to rest some of the peak oil pronouncements that we were out of oil, that we weren't going to find any more and that we have to change our way of life," said Roger Read, an energy analyst and managing director at New York-based investment bank Natixis Bleichroeder Inc.
2. A trio of oil companies led by Chevron Corp. (CVX) has tapped a petroleum pool deep beneath the Gulf of Mexico that could boost U.S. reserves by more than 50 percent. A test well indicates it could be the biggest new domestic oil discovery since Alaska's Prudhoe Bay a generation ago. Chevron estimated the 300-square-mile region where its test well sits could hold up to 15 billion barrels of oil and natural gas
3. Kosmos Energy says its oil field at West Cape Three Points is the largest discovery in deep water West Africa and potentially the largest single field discovery in the region.
4. A new oil discovery has been made by Statoil (STO) in the Ragnarrock prospect near the Sleipner area in the North Sea. "It is encouraging that Statoil has made an oil discovery in a little-explored exploration model that is close to our North Sea infrastructure," says Frode Fasteland, acting exploration manager for the North Sea.
5. Shell (RDS.A) is currently analyzing and evaluating the well data of their own find in the Gulf of mexico to determine next steps. This find is rumored to be capable of producing 100 billion barrels. Operating in ultra-deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, the Perdido spar will float on the surface in nearly 8,000 ft of water and is capable of producing as much as 130,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.
6. In Iraq, excavators have struck three oil fields with reserves estimated at about 2 billion barrels, Kurdish region's Oil Minister Ashti Horami said.
7. Iran has discovered an oil field within its southwest Jofeir oilfield that is expected to boost Jofeir's oil output to 33,000 barrels per day. Iran's new discovery is estimated to have reserves of 750 million barrels, according to Iran's Oil Minister, Gholamhossein Nozari.
8. The United States holds significant oil shale resources underlying a total area of 16,000 square miles. This represents the largest known concentration of oil shale in the world and holds an estimated 1.5 trillion barrels of oil with 800 billion recoverable barrells – enough to meet U.S. demand for oil at current levels for 110 years. More than 70 percent of American oil shale is on Federal land, primarily in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming. In Utah, a developer says his company already has the technology to produce 4,000 barrels a day using a furnace that can heat up rock using its own fuel. ``This is not a science project,'' said Daniel G. Elcan, managing director of Oil Shale Exploration Corp. ``For many years, the high cost of extracting oil from shale exceeded the benefit. But today the calculus is changing,'' President George Bush said. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said the country has to do everything it can to boost energy production. ``We have as much oil in oil shale in Utah, Wyoming and Colorado as the rest of the world combined,'' he said.
9. In western North Dakota there is a formation known as the Bakken Shale. The formation extends into Montana and Canada. Geologists have estimated the area holds hundreds of billions of barrels of oil. In an interview provided by USGS, scientist Brenda Pierce put the North Dakota oil in context. "Of the current USGS estimates, this is the largest oil accumulation in the lower 48," Pierce says. "It is also the largest continuous type of oil accumulation that we have ever assessed." The USGS study says with todays technology, about 4 billion barrels of oil can be pumped from the Bakken formation. By comparison, the 4 billion barrels in North Dakota represent less than half the oil in the Arctic National Wildlife refuge which has an estimated 10 billion barrels of recoverable oil.
The peak oil theory is a money making scam put out by the speculators looking for high commodity returns in a challenging market environment. Most of the above mentioned finds have occurred in the last two years alone. I didn't even mention the untapped Alaskan oil fields or the recent Danish and Australian finds. In the long term, crude prices will find stability at historic norms because there is no supply problem. How much longer will investors ignore these new oil finds? Probably until they can find other investment alternatives which won't happen in the broad market until financials (XLF) stop hemorrhaging. Respect the trend but understand that this is a bubble preparing to burst. When oil hit it's high of $139 it represented more than a 600% increase in crude since the bull market began, returns eerily similar to the dot.com craze.
There are many theories that sound good but just aren't true. Take Al Gore's global warming crusade. It sounded great, it made perfect sense but there was just one problem, the facts didn't support it. It seems that the masses who were loudly calling for a global warming crisis have shifted their energies to oil. We are bombarded on a daily basis by those who tell us that we should be fearful. They spin good news into bad. The latest absurdity had Goldman Sachs telling investors that China's 18% price increase will actually increase demand! That's a new one. Just like global warming, the rationale for peak oil sounds great, it makes sense, but there is just one small problem, the facts don't support it.
JB responding to a comment by User1
06.25.09 - 9:27 pm
Do you even bother looking at the comments of this guys article? Just about every post flambés this guy for his piece. I'm only about a 1/2 of way through and I've had enough. Here's a few I liked.......................
Strange article, it actually reinforces the arguments for peak oil, as I'll detail below. First note that oil consumption(US) is 32 billion barrels per year, so this is the amount that needs to be found each year to keep things going long term. So then look at some of the examples quoted:
1) A huge find no doubt, the biggest for decades. But only enough to meet 1 years demand.
2) 15 billion barrels of oil and gas. So less then six months world supply here, maybe 3 months depending on how much of that is oil and how much gas.
3) No information is given on size, so it's impossible to comment on this one.
4) Norway. Again no sizes given, but Norway has announced their oil production will be in decline for the foreseeable future, so it's unlikely to be that large.
5) 130k barrels/day against world demand of 85 billion - so this field will meet 0.15% of world demand. Yup, that will make all the difference.
6) The Iraq find is 2 billion barrels, enough to supply the world for 20 days.
7) Iran 750 million barrels, 9 days world supply.
8/9) Shale - extremely hard to extract, so very low production rates. Not going to help in the short or medium term.
Then the author writes: "Most of the above mentioned finds have occurred in the last two years alone." Well for two years you need to find 65 billion barrels to cover depletion. These discoveries are insufficient. The author actually does an excellent job of making the peak oil case. The misunderstanding is, as usual, the scale of the problem. Yes lots of oil is being discovered, and will continue to be discovered. Just not enough to meet demand.
This is one of my favorite......
RUMORED? What kind of analysis is that?
There's plenty of resources that dispute this guys areticle. All you have to do is take a look below and take your pick. No need for me to dispute it. These guys do a far better job than I would!
Here's another I liked.............
There are many problems with your piece, some of them hit upon by other commenters. The two biggest are that you ignore the first rule of oil production: Reserves in the ground are secondary; what matters is daily production. Just by way of example, your notation on the Shell GOM discovery (100 billion barrels found may yield 130,000 bbls/day), is without commenting on the accuracy of your numbers, a pathetic yield. Further (again assuming your numbers are correct), it actually underscores the difficulty of producing oil going forth, that such a field size is needed to get such a daily yield.
The second problem is that you completely ignore the problem of overcoming the global decline rate, which is about 5% annually, and advancing. We are losing the war on this actuarial inconvenient truth, as we are finding fewer and fewer major (over 500,000 bbls.day) fields each decade, despite advances in technology, and the fields we do find yield a smaller daily production contribution to global supply. The world has found the easy oil; as production now inexorably declines, we are trying to replace it with fields not nearly, on average, so abundant on a daily basis.
But the biggest problem with your writing is to include oil shale as a major future contributor of oil supply with only a passing comment to the difficulties involved with its production (and none to the environmental problems). In any event, the amount involved could be 800 trillion barrels of recoverable oil, for all the good it will do us. Even assuming Shell can prove up its technology, overcome the rabid environmentalists opposed to shale development, and ramp up the scale of production, it will be decades before any such volumes will be meaningful, e.g. 2 million bbls/day, if ever. We have been after shale (kerogen) production for over half a century, and despite the increase in world oil price over that period, shale has always cost more to produce than the existing price. I will believe it has changed when it happens. In the interim, the global decline rate will have gone up well past 5%, daily demand will be much higher, and resources (such as water) to use in the production process will be much scarcer. I consider using shale as an argument against Peak Oil, without at least a conscious acknowledgement of the inherent problems, to be intellectually questionable.
Finally, your piece throws out big possible reserve numbers without laying bare the time horizons involved. Brazil may indeed have found 33 billion barrels of oil in the pre-salt Carioca, but it will be a perhaps a decade, probably much more, until meaningful volumes are forthcoming. The same goes for your other examples. And for anyone who denies this as a huge issue, I have two words: Thunderhorse and Kashagan.
User1 again, so looks like you are saying that oil is a finite resource but we'll never run out of it. Therefore peak oil is a myth, correct? Looks like you're also saying that global warming is also a myth or a scam, right?
JB, I suggest you read the responses to that article you cite. Samples:
ChrisInDhahran: Comment (1)
Jason, I would agree with your argument if infrastructure to produce oil required no effort and no time. The fact is that almost all these large oil reserves you mentioned require great human effort to produce. For example Canadian Oil Sands will go from 1mbd to 3mbd by 2015. That is 7 years to add the infrastructure for an additional 3mbd. This is what peak oil is about. It is not about what is in the ground it is about what rate you can produce at.
Also your comment "The peak oil theory is a money making scam put out by the speculators looking for high commodity returns in a challenging market environment."
As a person who trades commodities, and has researched and read articles from other traders I can tell you your comment is false. Some things you should know about commodities trades:
They sell short - not just go long.
They look at supply and demand fundamentals - if they are betting in medium and long term.
There are many traders that are SHORT oil.
If traders thaought that there was plenty of (producable oil) around they would short oil.
I also noticed you failed to provide any material data that speculators have made up peak oil theory. On the contrary in 1998 Jean Lehare and Colin Campbell wrote a Scientific American Article called "The End of Cheap Oil." These people are seasoned geologists not oil speculators and their prognostication that we would be having serious consequences in 10 years time - 2008 - turned out to be correct.
As a former geophysical manager for the Gulf of Mexico, the claim that there is a 100 billion bbl field in the Gulf of Mexico is quite silly. That would actually be bigger than the Saudi's largest field. Jack field, the Chevron discovery, is not as described in the article. I have seen the log. The Brazilian field won't be on line for about 10 years and the well costs are going to be astounding. The exploration well cost $240 million. My guess is that the author doesn't know much about the oil industry and is confusing reserves, with production capacity.
If I put a billion dollars in your bank, you have lots of monetary reserves. But if I tell you you can only get and spend $10/day, you are not rich. What you can spend is production capacity and that is what peak oil is all about.
Again, Peak Oil is not about running out of oil, it is about oil becoming too expensive to maintain our current way of life, at least as we know it today.
"Again, Peak Oil is not about running out of oil, it is about oil becoming too expensive to maintain our current way of life, at least as we know it today."
Yes, but even if it were true, which is dubious at best, we're still decades away from any potential peak, so it's not really worth getting worked up over, especially if you take your bike and/or a fuel efficient vehicle to get everywhere.
You're landing in the conspiracy whack job territory. It's just about unanimous that there's going to be a peak oil. It's just a discrepancy about when. Regardless, most everyone agrees that it will be from now to up to 20 years from now. Scientists, the industry, nations, and just about everyone connected in the industry believes that our sources of the sweet crude is just about used up.
It's alot bigger than making a decision to ride your bike or not. This scarcity will change lives quite a bit. As was said, it will happen in younger people's lives.
JB, I think you need to get your facts straight. Anyone can say oh wow look they discovered millions of barrels of oil out of context and make it sound like a lot, but when you put it up against the consumption rates of the world, these are not even close to solving the problem. Shale reserves especially are expensive to tap into, so while we and Canada may have those supplies, it will not sustain energy at it's current costs, since so much power goes into harvesting the power. Not to mention most of these new oil discoveries are outside our borders and in some cases hostile land, continuing to leave much of our economy at the whim of geopolitical tensions, and funneling our money into hands we ought not to be giving it to in some cases.
The untapped oil reserves in Alaska if they were tapped into, would be a drop in the bucket to our energy consumption, and again do little to lower our foreign oil dependence. The great big oil reserves of Texas that launched America into the automobile center of the world, ran dry a long time ago and we have been sucking on everyone else's supplies ever since. Problem is those supplies won't last forever, and oil fields eventually have a sharp crash of production after which they only trickle, and the rate at which major world oil fields are crashing is greater then the rate at which we are finding cheap places to dig. So oil will become progressively more expensive, and peak oil will become a reality, unless some really seriously game changing turn of events happen. And even if America steps up to plate and we drop our demand for oil significantly, if India and China become the new Americas so to speak in consumption, than peak oil will still happen with or without us sucking at the nozzle.
Decades away nothing to be worked up about?! I hope to be alive then, and if the world doesn't prepare it self for that time, whether it be 10 or 30 years from now, it could have dire repercussions. This is a bigger deal than just being fine with riding a bike around and getting some friends to do it too. It takes LA 3 years to think about maybe we can put sharrows on the ground, the subway to the west side probably won't be online for decades, change isn't moving fast enough.
The only reason we're using so much of it is because it's cheap right now.
If the price goes up, we'll find alternatives.
There are a variety of cars on the road right now that get 50+mpg, and if the demand for fuel efficiency increases, there will be a lot more.
SUV drivers will switch to priuses, more freight will be shipped by train instead of tractor trailer, and the Chevy Volt might even have a market, since it will be able to go 40 miles before using any gasoline.
Importing stuff from China will get more expensive, so we'll reduce our purchases of imports.
There's plenty of oil in the ground, but even if there weren't, we have plenty of options.
If you need something to worry about on the environmental front, worry about the cap and trade emissions boondoggle that's going to be a huge handoff of cash to Goldman Sachs - http://zerohedge.blogspot.com/2009/06/goldman-sachs-engineering-every-major.html
OK, so peak oil is a myth, global warming is a scam, and carbon cap and trade system is a boondoggle?
Can you do me a favor and listen to Fred Krupp on the cap and trade system? Excellent video here. Or you can watch this one that has video examples of what he's taling about. This one was shot at Google Offices in NY, click here. I'll even watch some video that explains that peak oil is a myth, or global warming is a scam, or carbon cap and trade system is a boondoggle!
Cap and trade is a carbon tax plus a corporate welfare program. The form of the program currently moving through the US legislature is particularly heavy on the corporate welfare aspect. The implicit taxes to be paid by end users will almost entirely bypass the govt and go directly to the corporate welfare recipients. The implicit tax element will reduce consumption as it is intended to do, but not by as much as is intended.
A straight (Pigouvian) carbon tax that also applied to the untaxed carbon "content" of imports would be a greatly superior solution. However, it's not politically feasible. The big corp welfare element of the current proposal is politically feasible because the big heavy polluting industries that it will subsidize are of course throwing their support and lobbying dollars behind it.
In summary, the proposed cap and trade system is a give away to large carbon intensive industries thinly disguised as an environmental program.
Sorry to burst your bubble but you need oil as well, fellow bike poeple. Who do you think brings the bikes and parts to your local shop, the bicycle fairy? When gas hit 4 dollars a gallon a while back all my distros bumped their prices up, and they stayed up. I was paying 1.29 for a tube wholesale and now they are 2.29 which means you get to pay more. Cheap gas means lower prices for everything from carrots to cogs. Don't think for one minute that because you choose not to drive a car that you're out of the loop.
Also if we became like China with everybody riding a bike the "bike scene" would die, it would be like having a subculture just because everyone was wearing shoes.
US Domestic Oil production peaked in 1970 and has been in decline ever since. Here's some other countries that have already peaked or are about to.
Btw Mexico's particularly fucked. Cantarell, their big field, is just about imploding. Indonesia is about to become a net importer of oil rather than a net exporter. Iran's using more and more of its own oil too.
JB is this article on .pdf somewhere? I searched for it but couldn't find it. Blogs are cool and all, but is there any institutions that support your views that you can post up? You know, like maybe a university? A large group of academic professors? A website that's built on the professions of people in the industry? Anything with supported research?
How is the EU doing it? They don't seem to be having a problem with the WTO? Fred Krupp and the EU's got it right for the most part. That is to have the market dictate the price of these credits by auctioning them off and trading them. Just burying our heads in the sand and saying it's not going to work is just not going to cut it. But that seems to be everyone's opinion here.
User1 responding to a comment by nathansnider
06.28.09 - 1:01 am
The Matt Taibbi Rolling Stone article on Goldman Sachs and the cap and trade bubble - http://zerohedge.blogspot.com/2009/06/goldman-sachs-engineering-every-major.html
(Sorry it's on a blog, but rollingstone.com doesn't have it.)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oil_reserves#Estimated_reserves_by_country - Decades of oil left, and more sources still being discovered.
http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1853252,00.html - major new oilfield just discovered off Cuba.
http://blogs.wsj.com/environmentalcapital/2009/05/01/tupi-brazil-opens-the-taps-at-giant-offshore-oil-field/ - major new oilfield off Brazil comes online
http://futures.tradingcharts.com/chart/CO/M - Not what you'd expect to see for a rapidly diminishing resource for which there was massive demand.
http://www.sapphireenergy.com/product - even if we were running out, we have the technology to make gasoline from algae.
http://climatedebatedaily.com/ - good source for both sides of the argument on global warming.
Fun musical video:
JB responding to a comment by User1
06.28.09 - 2:08 am
Also note the EU's enthusiasm for diesel, which contributes substantial amounts of smog forming NOX and lung damaging particulate matter, which is why it's taken so long for diesels to be imported to the U.S., because of our higher regulatory/environmental standards regarding diesel exhaust.
The EU fucked up their first attempt at cap-and-trade by allocating too many credits and then giving most of them away instead of auctioning them off. The problem was that they asked each country to catalog their emissions, and all the countries wildly overestimated how much they'd need. So after a few rounds of furious speculation, the market crashed and there was no effect on emissions. This second round, during the official Kyoto Protocol "commitment period," hasn't been going so well either, but I sure hope they get it sorted out..
A tax would not have the same volatility issues as a cap-and-trade market, and it could be imposed much more effectively too boot. It's far easier to simply tax fossil fuels at the source than it is to deal with thousands of separate emitters. The stability would also make it much easier for alternative technologies to develop, since it's hard to find investors for your New Clean Miracle Technology when the carbon market could crash at any moment and render your invention uncompetitive. But it's politically taboo because "tax" is the dirtiest word in politics.
The background of the issue with the WTO goes like this: if you don't tax imported goods for the carbon emissions incurred in their production, then you basically give them a competitive advantage over domestically produced goods (which are being made more expensive because of the local carbon regulations). The effect is that you end up "exporting" your emissions and really doing very little to combat the problem of climate change.
The EU is not imposing any tariffs on imports, though they've expressed an interest in doing so. The WTO, of course, frowns on this idea (though I understand that their latest position is a bit softer than it was a year ago). If the world can actually come up with a uniform set of standards for tariffs in whatever post-Kyoto treaty it develops, then hopefully this will appease the WTO and some genuine progress can be made.
I think you may be misreading people's arguments here, mistaking realism for complacency. The science is settled, but even assuming that people understand the risks, getting the public to act on this is not so simple. The problem is human nature. Simply telling someone that their actions today will be fucking up the environment and economy in 2050 has almost no impact on their behavior. This doesn't mean that we should simply give up. It means that we need a well-crafted message that will resonate with the public so they can understand the value of acting today or consider it their duty to act for the sake of future generations. For whatever reason, it's been harder to convince people of this in America than in other countries.
I hope that the US climate change bill (steaming turd though it may be) will at least indicate to the world that we're willing to address the problem, so that we can get everyone to the drawing board and come up with a serious global plan before the whole thing becomes moot.
Thanks for the informative and thoughtful answer Nathan.
I agree that there's problems with the EU's cap and trade system, but they've got quite a bit right. And this is no easy task to implement and get off the ground. At least they are spearheading the efforts to turn this thing around. Getting everyone on board is going to take a monumental effort, but there's little choice. Without that, yeah you're just exporting your problems to another country that isn't on the post Kyoto treaty.
User1 responding to a comment by nathansnider
06.29.09 - 4:01 pm