Archive for June, 2006

Sneak preview

Thursday, June 15th, 2006
Tom Friedman's movie, Addicted to Oil, which features the Set America Free Coalition will premiere this Friday. You can watch a preview here.

Guess who’s going to Shanghai?

Tuesday, June 13th, 2006
This is a clear illustration of Sec. Rice's comments about how energy has warped foreign policy:
Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, will not be just toasting the leaders of the [Shanghai Cooperative Organization's] six members - China, Russia and four Central Asian nations - Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan - as an observer to the summit to be held in Shanghai. The Iranian leader, whose country defies the free world by developing nuclear weapons and tops the list of nations supporting terrorism, will also be pushing for full membership in the SCO. It's "passing strange" for the SCO - which highlights the "fight on terrorism" as one of its three prime objectives (the other two being separatism and extremism) - to have invited Mr. Ahmadinejad and considered membership for Iran, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld said recently at the Shangri-La Dialogue, an annual Asian-Pacific conference which took place in Singapore in early June and was organized by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies. Not at all, according to the SCO's secretary-general, Zhang Deguang. "We would not have invited them if we believed they sponsored terror," he responded to an inquiry about Iran's participation. Mr. Zhang hoped that other nations, once improving their ties with Iran, would have better opinions of that country. As for the pressing issue of nuclear non-proliferation, all he could say was, "We do not yet have legal documents on the issue." How reassuring to those who view the SCO increasingly as an attempt by China and Russia to undermine America's influence in their backyard and beyond. "By letting Iran enter the SCO, Russia and China would clearly demonstrate that they side with Iran and its nuclear program and would embark on a collision course with the West," a Moscow-based think tanker said, according to Radio Free Europe. Iran is China's third largest oil supplier, amounting to 13% of China's total crude imports. For Washington to expect that Beijing, which relies on rapid economic development to maintain its rule, would exert pressure on Tehran to halt its nuclear ambitions is more than wishful thinking. I hope Secretary of State Rice proves me wrong in her decision to negotiate with the mullahs. But I'm afraid that the country the Bush administration has so desperately tried to turn into a "responsible stakeholder" would once again prove disappointing. As Ms. Rice's deputy, Robert Zoellick, admitted to a House International Relations Committee hearing last month, when he confronted the Chinese about their dealings with Iran, he was told, "Look, we got our own interests there, we got energy security concerns." "An extended SCO would control a large part of the world's oil and gas reserves and nuclear arsenal. It would essentially be an OPEC with bombs," a professor at the University of Cambridge's East Asia Institute, David Hall, told the Washington Times, referring to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
(emphasis added) Read the whole thing. UPDATE: This article by Dr. Ariel Cohen of the Heritage Foundation on the subject is excellent: Bear and Dragon summit.

A physicist’s tips on saving oil

Monday, June 12th, 2006
"Whenever vehicles must accelerate, energy must be supplied (from the gasoline). When vehicles decelerate, this kinetic energy is lost and must be resupplied when resuming motion. Any situation where a vehicle can coast (for example to arrive in motion at a traffic light as it just turns green) will save much more energy (gas) than one might think. Thus, drivers should drive strategically. Look at the traffic lights far ahead and adjust driving speeds accordingly. When you see a red light, coast until you see it change. When you must stop, coast to diminish your speed as much as possible before braking. Cities should better design traffic lights to maintain flow and momentum of the maximum number of vehicles that travel at a designed speed." (emphasis added) Read the whole thing.

Victor Davis Hanson: How oil lubricates our enemies

Monday, June 12th, 2006
VDH: "Take away the $300-500 billion in windfall profits piled up in the coffers of the oil-exporting nations recently, and Hugo Chavez becomes just another spluttering Castro, hardly able to pay for his bankrupt populism in Venezuela, much less export it beyond his borders. Without petroleum largesse, Iran's Mohammed Ahmadinejad could afford neither a multi-billion-dollar nuclear weapons program nor costly subsidies for terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Hamas. Vladimir Putin's crackdown on capitalists, political freedom, and further Russian reforms comes only because he controls energy exports vital to the world economy. "And huge petroleum profits don't just empower dictators, subsidize nuclear proliferation, and curtail economic reform. They also have pernicious psychological effects. Americans hit with gasoline price hikes of nearly a dollar a gallon have fallen to despairing over our economy. Try telling furious motorists that the extra cost for most drivers amounts only to about $500-700 per year--a pittance compared to sky-high housing prices that leap tens of thousands of dollars annually. No matter: people see the numbers on the gas pump, and less cash in their wallets, and figure the U.S. is teetering on the brink. "Foreign policy is warped as well. Because of its dependency on Middle East gas and oil, Europe's high talk about human rights doesn't apply much to Arab extremists with energy-rich patrons in the Gulf. America is in a war against Islamic fascism, yet treads carefully around Saudi Arabia, despite the kingdom√ć¬≥ subsidies to America-hating madrasahs. When poor oil-importing countries in Africa and Latin America make sacrifices to enact tough market reforms, their hard work only helps to enrich failed states like Iran, Libya, and Venezuela lucky enough to have an accidental resource beneath their feet that was found, exploited, and mostly purchased by the Westerners they demonize."

Mark Steyn says it like it is

Sunday, June 11th, 2006
Exactly: "half a decade on from Sept. 11, the Saudis are still allowed to bankroll schools and mosques and think tanks and fast-track imam chaplaincy programs in prisons and armed forces around the world. Oil isn't the principal Saudi export, ideology is; petroleum merely bankrolls it." For more on Saudi oil fueled bankrolling of radical Islam, an excellent Washington Post article by Nina Shea.

Nigeria: 800,000 oil barrels/day shut in

Friday, June 9th, 2006
Attacks against oil infrastructure have shut in 800,000 barrels of oil per day in Nigeria. Tony Chukwueke, director of Nigeria's Department of Petroleum Resources, said "This is a huge loss to Nigeria and we don't know what to do about it." Meanwhile, another top Iraqi oil industry official was kidnapped yesterday.

Ethanol

Thursday, June 8th, 2006
A good overview.

Another, shorter, summary from the WSJ.

Congratulations to our troops

Thursday, June 8th, 2006
On a job well done. May Nicholas Berg, Ken Bigley, Jack Armstrong, Jack Hensley, and the many others brutally murdered by Zarqawi and his cohorts rest in peace.

and again

Wednesday, June 7th, 2006
Five South Korean workers have been taken hostage by gunmen in ten speedboats from a natural gas plant operated by Shell in Nigeria . The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta claimed responsibility, saying the kidnapping was a response to a court decision to refuse bail to Mujahid Dokubo Asari, in jail since September on treason charges.
Last Friday eight foreign oil workers were kidnapped from an oil rig off Nigeria's coast.
MEND said it would target "facilities of crucial importance to the oil industry" in more attacks in the next few weeks, and that "Oil companies in the Niger Delta are again warned to leave while they can."

Above compiled from news reports: See here, here and here.

Yesterday, four oil workers were kidnapped in Iraq, part of an ongoing campaign of sabotage against oil infrastructure there.

Greenspan on oil dependence

Wednesday, June 7th, 2006
Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan testified before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations today. A few quotes:

"Even before the devastating hurricanes of last summer, world oil markets had been subject to a degree of strain not experienced for a generation. Oil prices had been persistently edging higher since 2002 as increases in global oil consumption progressively absorbed the buffer of several million barrels a day in excess capacity that stood between production and demand. Today world oil production stands at about 85 million barrels a day, and little excess capacity remains. Just how much excess capacity, and of what quality oil, is a matter of debate. But no matter what the precise answer, the buffer between supply and demand is much too small to absorb shutdowns of even a small part of the world?s production. Moreover, growing threats of violence to oilfields, pipelines, storage facilities, and refineries, especially in the Middle East, have increased the private demand to hold oil inventories worldwide. Oil users judge they need to be prepared for the possibility that at some point a raid will succeed, with a devastating impact on supply.

"[...] American oil?s historical role ended in 1971, when rising world demand finally exceeded the excess crude oil capacity of the United States. At that point, the marginal pricing of oil abruptly shifted?at first to a few large Middle East producers and later to market forces broader than they, or anyone, can contain.

"[...] higher oil prices will inevitably move vehicle transportation to hybrids, and despite the inconvenience, plug-in hybrids. Corn ethanol, though valuable, can play only a limited role, because its ability to displace gasoline is modest at best. But cellulosic ethanol, should it fulfill its promise, would help to wean us of our petroleum dependence, as could clean coal and nuclear power*. With those developments, oil in the years ahead will remain an important element of our energy future, but it need no longer be the dominant player."

[*Actually, the U.S. has already weaned electricity generation off of oil. Unlike in the 1970s, today only 2% of our electricity is generated from oil. So nuclear, solar, wind, etc, really have nothing to do with reducing our dependence on oil. Additionally, the Electric Power Research Institute estimates that there is enough nighttime reserve capacity to charge up to 30% of the U.S. vehicle fleet.]