Good news for all those who have nightmares about the prospect of peak oil: scientists have discovered an oil field which has a gargantuan 155 quintillion barrels of oil, or about 200 times more hydrocrabons than there is water on earth. There is however, a catch: the field is located some 1,300 light years away.... The good news, for all the Keynesians out there, is that the idea to build the Death Star, as proposed first on Zero Hedge, may finally get some life, especially if the Death Star is provided with some exploration and production capacity. And what self-respecting Keynesian wouldn't salivate at the prospect of injecting $852 quadrillion of debt growth into the economy at this time?
By now everyone is well aware what the main tension involving this year's presidential campaign as far as Mitt Romney is concerned, will be his professional past, namely his experience at, and exposure to, Bain Capital. By now most have also gotten a sense of the angle of attack that the incumbent will rely on in order to discredit his GOP challenger, and if they haven't, they will soon enough: after all in Obama's own words "Mitt Romney's record at Bain Capital is what this campaign is going to be about." In other words, Romney's history with managing private (emphasis added) equity. Yet at Marc Thiessen at the WaPo points out, the logical retort from the Romney camp would be to shift attention to something potentially more embarrassing: Obama's record with public equity. Because, frankly, it is deplorable. And while one may debate the number of job losses at the companies that Bain took private, the driving prerogative for Romney was to generate value for his investors and shareholders. This in itself will hardly be debated by Obama. In other words, for any and all of his other failings, Romney succeeded at his primary task. The question then is: did Obama do the same? Did he succeed in investing public equity, i.e., the taxpayer capital that the US financial mechanism has afforded him. Sadly, the answer appears to be a resounding no.
Even if everyone wanted it.
As Oilprice.com embarks on its Top 5 series, we thought it expedient to begin with our take on the key figures shaping and influencing U.S. renewable energy efforts, not least because the issue of energy security is being prioritized in campaigning ahead of U.S. presidential elections. In considering from the numerous choices for these top five slots, we take into account a number of variables, including investment in renewable energy, the ability to influence policy and shape public opinion, and advocacy efforts. This goes well beyond simply counting coin – it is about innovation, imagination, vision, risk and patience. Arguably, these people will play an important role in your life and leisure, for better or worse.
The Deepwater Horizon incident demonstrated that most of the oil left is deep offshore or in other locations difficult to reach. Moreover, to obtain the oil remaining in currently producing reservoirs requires additional equipment and technology that comes at a higher price in both capital and energy. In this regard, the physical limitations on producing ever-increasing quantities of oil are highlighted, as well as the possibility of the peak of production occurring this decade. The economics of oil supply and demand are also briefly discussed, showing why the available supply is basically fixed in the short to medium term. Also, an alarm bell for economic recessions is raised when energy takes a disproportionate amount of total consumer expenditures. In this context, risk mitigation practices in government and business are called for. As for the former, early education of the citizenry about the risk of economic contraction is a prudent policy to minimize potential future social discord. As for the latter, all business operations should be examined with the aim of building in resilience and preparing for a scenario in which capital and energy are much more expensive than in the business-as-usual one.
Rising geopolitical tensions and high oil prices are continuing to help renewable energy find favour amongst investors and politicians. Yet how much faith should we place in renewables to make up the shortfall in fossil fuels? Can science really solve our energy problems, and which sectors offers the best hope for our energy future? To help us get to the bottom of this we spoke with energy specialist Dr. Tom Murphy, an associate professor of physics at the University of California. Tom runs the popular energy blog Do the Math which takes an astrophysicist’s-eye view of societal issues relating to energy production, climate change, and economic growth.
In the interview Tom talks about the following:
Why we shouldn’t get too excited over the shale boom
Why resource depletion is a greater threat than climate change
Why Fukushima should not be seen as a reason to abandon nuclear
Why the Keystone XL pipeline may do little to help US energy security
Why renewables have difficulty mitigating a liquid fuels shortage
Why we shouldn’t rely on science to solve our energy problems
Forget fusion and thorium breeders – artificial photosynthesis would be a bigger game changer
European cash equity markets were seen on a slight upward trend in the early hours of the session amid some rumours that the Chinese PBOC were considering a cut to their RRR. However, this failed to materialise and markets have now retreated into negative territory with flows seen moving into fixed income securities. This follows some market talk of selling in Greek PSI bonds due to the absence of CDSs. This sparked some renewed concern regarding the emergence of Greece from their recovery. Elsewhere, we saw the publication of the BoE’s financial stability review recommending that UK banks raise external capital as soon as possible. This saw risk-averse flows into the gilt, with futures now trading up around 40 ticks.
To many walking the planet, fracking has a seriously bad reputation. Thanks to hyperbole and misinformation, fracking opponents have convinced a lot of people that the operators who drill and then hydraulically fracture underground rock layers thumb their noses at and even hate the environment. Anti-fracking claims may be twists on reality – for example, that a legislative loophole makes fracking exempt from the America's Safe Drinking Water Act, when really this federal legislation never regulated fracking because it is a state concern. Then there's the completely absurd, such as the idea that frac operators are allowed to and regularly do inject frac fluids directly into underground water supplies. We decided to set the record straight by using facts, not playing on emotion like many of the frac-tivists do. It's important because unconventional oil and gas constitute an increasingly pivotal part of the world's energy scene. In the United States, where shale gas abounds but imported energy rules the day, this is especially true.
The United States is a country built upon the four C’s: Crude, Cars, Credit, and Consumption. They are intertwined and can’t exist without crude as the crucial ingredient. As the amount of crude available declines and the price rises, the other three C’s will breakdown. Our warped consumer driven economy collapses without the input of cheap plentiful oil. Those at the top levels of government realize this fact. It is not a coincidence that the War on Terror is the current cover story to keep our troops in the Middle East. It is not a coincidence the uncooperative rulers (Hussein, Gaddafi) of the countries with the 5th and 9th largest oil reserves on the planet have been dispatched. It is not a coincidence the saber rattling grows louder regarding the Iranian regime, as they sit atop 155 billion barrels of oil, the 4th largest reserves in the world. It should also be noted the troops leaving Iraq immediately began occupying Kuwait, owner of the 6th largest oil reserves on the planet. Oil under the South China Sea and in the arctic is being hotly pursued by the major world players. China and Russia are supporting Iran in their showdown with Israel and the U.S. As the world depletes the remaining oil, conflict and war are inevitable. The term Energy Independence will carry a different meaning than the one spouted by mindless politicians as the oil runs low.
A little rain on today's parade.
Around 11:15 this morning, I left my flat and headed towards the Cape Town Gold Coin Exchange to check out their kruggerrand prices today. (Note: They charge around 10% over spot, and buy coins for about 1% over spot. This is inclusive for all major coins that they carry. They have kruggerrands, eagles, and maple leaf coins in stock.) I was sitting at a red light not too far from the new football stadium they built for last year’s World Cup tournament, when suddenly all the traffic lights went out. I thought it was just a weird anomaly, so I proceeded cautiously. By the time I reached the coin shop, I realized that the whole city was without power. Again. Entire buildings had shut down, stores closed, and schools let out. It was a full-blown blackout… and it lasted for several hours. This sort of thing is not uncommon in South Africa. Politicians will tell you that electrical demand is outpacing supply because of the country’s rapidly growing economy. That’s one way to put it– lemons into lemonade.
Americans pay 43 cents in taxes out of the $3.70 they pay at the pump for a gallon of gasoline. A driver in the UK is paying $4 per gallon in taxes out of the $9 per gallon cost. Gasoline costs between $8 and $9 per gallon across Europe today. The extreme level of gas taxes certainly reduces car sizes, consumption and traffic. Too bad the mad socialists across Europe spent the taxes on expanding their welfare states and promising even more to their populations. Maybe a $6 per gallon tax will do the trick. Forcing Americans to drive less by doubling the gas tax is a quaint idea, but it is too late in the game. Europe is still made up of small towns and cities with the populations still fairly consolidated. Biking, walking and small rail travel is easy and feasible. The sprawling suburban enclaves that proliferate across the American countryside, dotted by thousands of malls and McMansion communities, accessible only by automobiles, make it impossible to implement a rational energy efficient model for moving forward. We cannot reverse 60 years of irrationality. Even without higher gas taxes, the price of gasoline will move relentlessly higher due to the stealth tax of currency debasement.
Does it seem like we’ve been here before? A barrel of Brent Crude (the truest indicator of worldwide oil scarcity) sits at $118, up from $75 per barrel in July 2010 – a 57% increase in eleven months. In the U.S., the average price of gasoline is $3.69 per gallon this week, up 37% in the last year and up 100% in the last 30 months. The pundits and politicians are responding predictably. They blame the Libyan revolution, the dreaded speculators and that old fallback – Big Oil. When the Middle East turmoil began in earnest in January, gas prices had already risen 15% in three months, spurred by increased worldwide demand and by Ben Bernanke’s printing press. Congressmen have reacted in their usual kneejerk politically motivated fashion by demanding that supplies be released from the Strategic Oil Reserve. Congress has a little trouble with the concept of “strategic.” They also have difficulty dealing with a reality that has been staring them in the face for decades. Politicians will always disregard prudent, long-term planning for vote-generating talk and gestures.
It's Not Just Alternative Energy Versus Fossil Fuels or Nuclear - Energy Has to Become DECENTRALIZEDSubmitted by George Washington on 04/21/2011 11:28 -0400
The question of centralization versus decentralization might be even more important than fossil fuels versus nuclear versus alternative energy …