Sunday, October 26, 2014
Taking a short break--no post this week (and why)
Update Oct. 27, 2014:
Here's why I missed posting this week. I've been helping to publicize a new report by the Post Carbon Institute that takes aim at the Energy Department's rosy forecasts for tight oil and shale gas. That report is now available.
For the report, click here.
For the full media kit, click here.
(Full disclosure: I was a paid consultant for this publicity campaign. But, as my readers know, I've been saying for several years that the tight oil and shale gas boom would be short-lived. This report offers a broad and detailed analysis that supports that view.)
Sunday, October 19, 2014
Oil decline: Price makes the story
So oft in theologic wars,
The disputants, I ween,
Rail on in utter ignorance
Of what each other mean,
And prate about an Elephant
Not one of them has seen!
--The Blind Men and The Elephant by John Godfrey Saxe
When the world's business editors sent their reporters canvassing to find out what is behind the recent plunge in the world oil price, they were doing what they do almost every day for every type of market: stocks, bonds, currencies, commodities and real estate.
In financial journalism more often it's the price that makes the story rather than the story that makes the price. If a story is about something very surprising which almost no one can know in advance--a real scoop--say, an unexpected outcome in a major court case affecting a company's most profitable patent, then the story will move the price of the company's stock.
Sunday, October 12, 2014
World War III: It's here and energy is largely behind it
I've been advancing a thesis for several months with friends that World War III is now underway. It's just that it's not the war we thought it would be, that is, a confrontation between major powers with the possibility of a nuclear exchange. Instead, we are getting a set of low-intensity, on-again, off-again conflicts involving non-state actors (ISIS, Ukrainian rebels, Libyan insurgents) with confusing and in some cases nonexistent battle lines and rapidly shifting alliances such as the shift from fighting the Syrian regime to helping it indirectly by fighting ISIS, the regime's new foe.
There is at least one prominent person who seems to agree with me, the Pope. During a visit to a World War I memorial in Italy last month Pope Francis said: "Even today, after the second failure of another world war, perhaps one can speak of a third war, one fought piecemeal, with crimes, massacres, destruction."
In citing many well-known causes for war, he failed to specify the one that seems obvious in this case: the fight over energy resources. It can be no accident that the raging fights in Syria, Iraq, Libya, and the Ukraine all coincide with areas rich in energy resources or for which imported energy resources are at risk. There are other conflicts. But these are the ones that are transfixing the eyes of the world, and these are the ones in which major powers are taking sides and mounting major responses.
Sunday, October 05, 2014
Irony alert: Yergin gets award named after peak oil realist Schlesinger
Where is George Orwell when you need him?
It is a supreme irony that cornucopian oil industry mouthpiece and consultant Daniel Yergin should receive America's first medal for energy security named after James Schlesinger, the first U.S. energy secretary. For those not familiar with the late Dr. Schlesinger's views, in a keynote speech he told attendees at a 2007 conference sponsored by the Association for the Study of Peak Oil (ASPO) the following:
Conceptually, the battle is over. The peakists have won. I was sitting next to an oil executive in New Mexico just recently, and he said to the audience, "Of course, I'm a peakist. We're all peakists. I just don't know when the peak comes." But that represents part of a conceptual victory. And, therefore to the peakists I say, you can declare victory. You are no longer the beleaguered, small minority of voices crying in the wilderness. You are now mainstream. You must learn to take yes for an answer and be gracious in victory.
This was not a one-off announcement from Schlesinger. Nor did he fail to understand the context in which he was speaking for he said it all over again in 2010 at a conference sponsored by the U.S. affiliate of ASPO:
Some five years ago in Italy, I concluded a talk by saying that like the inhabitants of Pompeii, who ignored the neighboring volcano Vesuvius until it detonated, the world ignores peak oil at its peril.