Archive for the ‘News’ Category

ExxonMobil: U.S. Gasoline Consumption has peaked

In an interesting article on the Obama approach to Peak Oil, The Huffington Post reports that ExxonMobil have declared that U.S. Gasoline Consumption peaked in 2008.

Even the oil patch’s biggest cheerleaders, ExxonMobil, who earlier helped frighten a public and a market to $147/bbl oil, now finds itself obligated to acknowledge that that U.S. consumption of gasoline has peaked.

 The article goes on to propose that remaining Oil and Gas reserves be taken into a National Oil Trust – essentially nationalising the U.S. Oil industry. Very interesting.


George Monbiot on the G20 and Peak Oil

From today’s Guardian – “G20 forgets the environment“:

“We, the Leaders of the Group of Twenty, will use every cent we don’t possess to rescue corporate capitalism from its contradictions and set the world economy back onto the path of unsustainable growth. We have already spent trillions of dollars of your money on bailing out the banks, so that they can be returned to their proper functions of fleecing the poor and wrecking the Earth’s living systems. Now we’re going to spend another $1.1 trillion. As an exemplary punishment for their long record of promoting crises, we will give the IMF and the World Bank even more of your money. These actions constitute the greatest mobilisation of resources to support global financial flows in modern times.

Oh – and we nearly forgot. We must do something about the environment. We don’t have any definite plans as yet, but we’ll think of something in due course.”

Tragically accurate. Doesn’t that just sum it up?

Mexico to be hit by Peak Oil

Just a short post to flag an article on Mexico reaching Peak Oil production and ceasing to be an oil exporting economy by the end of 2009. This has major implications for the stability of Mexico’s economy – where’s it going to get those export dollars from now? And also for US energy security as the USA currently imports 1.3 million barrels a day from Mexico (alomst as many as the 1.4 million it gets from Saudi Arabia).

The article also discusses International Energy Agency forecasts of 9% yearly oil depletion – that’s hard to picture on a global scale, but just try to work out how you’re going to get by with 10% less energy each year. Think about how your life would look if you had to drive 10% less miles each and every year, and had to heat your house with 10% less energy each and every year.

Focusses the mind a little doesn’t it.

Transition: Lewes Pound launched by Mayor of Lewes

The new Lewes Pound

The new Lewes Pound has just been officially launched by the Mayor of Lewes in front of an audience of over 450 people. Speakers included Rob Hopkins from Transition Totnes and Polly Toynbee from the Guardian. I’m a little ambivalent about the long-term impact of local currencies, but their introductory paragraph gives a good feel for the reasons they are important to the transition movement:

The Lewes Pound is a creative yet practical way for local people to make money work for Lewes. Money spent locally circulates within, and benefits the local economy. Money spent in national chains doesn’t. The Lewes Pound encourages demand for local goods and services. In turn this builds resilience to the rising costs of energy, transport and food.

This is really big step for Transition Lewes – they have over seventy traders accepting it already, and some starting to put up special offers for those paying in Lewes Pounds (effectively starting to create an exchange rate).  It’ll be interesting to see how it goes from here!

Background: Oil to hit $300-a-barrel

A really interesting interview with Charles Maxwell has just been published by Barrons, in which he explains why he thinks we’re heading for $300-a-barrel oil. He is predicting peak oil arriving in 2015:

At some point, doesn’t it come down to lowering consumption or tapping alternative sources of energy?

Right, and we will probably do both. Ten years ago, 40% of the world’s energy was in oil, versus 39% in 2006. It should reach 38% in the next five years — and 37% three years after that. So oil is slowing, and I expect it will stop its growth around 2015, at which point the supply begins a slow retreat.

He is forecasting $300-a-barrel oil following that peak in 2015, and is clear that we will all be highly dependant on OPEC oil from 2010 onwards. I am always interested in what people think this mean for society, and here is his take on the future:

It will be a little simpler. Your friends are going to be a little closer to you than they were before. Your vacations are going to be a little closer to home. You are going to have lower temperatures in the house. We will drive smaller cars with less horsepower, but they will get 60 to 80 miles to the gallon, enabling us to stretch gasoline supplies a lot further. There are going to be thousands of new adjustments leading to new investment opportunities. But the adjustment to that rising oil price, which could take as long as 20 years, will be a very harsh social experience — not only for our society, but for every society.

Background: The Peak Oil Media Guide

The learned folks over at the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas have published a really clear, well thought-out Guide to Peak Oil by Chris Nelder. This differs from a lot of Peak-Oil stuff I’ve seen, in that it doesn’t immediately suggest arming yourself and heading for the hills. It takes a powerful message and delivers it in a calm here-are-the-facts way. Here are some of the highlights for me:

  • We are not about to run out of oil – it’l be around for a hundred years.
  • We seem to be entering a plateau in oil production, and oil production is unlikely to significantly increase from this point.
  • Following the plateau – within 3-6 years – less oil and gas will be available to feed, clothe, transport and support an increasing – and increasingly wealthy – world population.
  • New sources of “oil” – Tar Sands, Shale Oil etc. require significant energy to convert them into a relatively slow supply of usable liquid fuels. This means that they are not likely to reduce the current oil prices, and will only be economical at significantly higher prices, if at all.
  • Within 10 years we can expect to be living with 12% less oil-per-day than we currently enjoy.
  • 11 of the top 21 oil producing countries are already past their peak, and production from mature oilfields declines at around 4.5% a year. Any new discoveries have to offset this loss before they give a net increase in oil production.
  • Event the International Energy Agency, who are on the more optimistic side of energy forecasting, have dropped their forecast growth in supply, while acknowledging that demand for oil continues to grow at 1.5% a year.

It’s pretty sobering reading, albeit nothing I wasn’t already concerned about. If you’re just starting to think about peak oil, and it’s effect on you, your children and and your community then this document is a good place to learn the basics – read it and pass it on to anyone who might have an interest in the future.

Benefits of Descent: Increased fuel prices save lives

Great reports in The Guardian and Independent recently talking about how rising fuel prices are driving cars off the road, and forcing people to drive more slowly and carefully. 

In the UK this has resulted in the first recorded drop in congestion, and an actual increase in average speeds as people sit in less fuel-sapping traffic jams. The really good news comes from the USA though, where traffic fatalities have fallen to their lowest levels since 1961!  They have fallen by 10% over the past year – saving thousands of lives.

A great vision of what we can expect as prices continue to rise . . and vehicle use and speeds drop further.

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