Archive for July, 2007
Oil is one of those rare products that the less one produces of it the more money one makes. The Arabs can tell us more about this lucrative business. The overall value of oil exports by member states of the Organization Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC) reached $393.3 billion in 2006 that's $76.7 billion dollars extra, compared to 2005. Yet, all this windfall is taking place while the overall output of the crude dropped by 50,000 barrels per day, reaching the level of 21.36 million barrels throughout last year, compared to 21.41 million the year before. Not a bad deal.
We have grown used to terror attacks against oil facilities in Iraq, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia, but now it seems this plague is coming to a theater near us. The LA Times reports that "Mexican President Felipe Calderon has dispatched a new 5,000-strong elite military unit to guard strategic sites, including oil refineries and hydroelectric dams, in the wake of guerrilla attacks on pipelines operated by the national oil and gas company, Pemex." and that "as many as 1,000 factories and other businesses in the Guanajuato-Queretaro region of central Mexico have been forced to shut down or reduce operations this week because of fuel shortages caused by attacks this month." The attacks were executed by The leftist Popular Revolutionary Army, or EPR, in retaliation for the disappearance of two of their militants last year in the southern state of Oaxaca. "The damage to the economy is serious," Ruben Aguilar Valenzuela wrote Thursday in the commentary in the newspaper Reforma. "This [guerrilla] action was well thought outâ€¦. They picked a strategic objective." Meanwhile, a Pennsylvania man was convicted yesterday of plotting to blow up U.S. oil pipelines and gas facilities and of attempting to enlist al Qaeda terrorists on the Internet to help carry out his plan. The Washington Times reported that "Michael C. Reynolds, 49, of Wilkes-Barre, Pa., was found guilty of scheming to blow up the Alaska and Transcontinental pipelines and other energy installations to prompt a withdrawal of the U.S. military from Iraq, laying out the scheme in extreme detail to a man he thought was an al Qaeda contact but who was actually a former federal magistrate working with the FBI." This is another reminder that terrorists realize the best way to hurt us and the governments they hate is going after the lifeblood of our economy which also happens to be that of some of the world's worst dictators.
There is a common misconception that increasing the proportion of nuclear, solar, wind and so forth for power generation will reduce oil consumption. It is a misconception since today, unlike in the 1970s, very little of US electricity is generated from oil. Here is a chart of power generation by energy source:
I feel the need, the need for speed Steve Marshall and Bruce Agnew write: "It was a classic "American Graffiti" moment. A Corvette had stopped at the light next to Martin Eberhard's new Tesla Roadster. The Corvette driver wanted a race. Jim Woolsey, former CIA director in the Clinton administration, was at the wheel of the Tesla, taking a test drive. He asked Eberhard, Tesla Motors' CEO, what to do, and got the answer he wanted. "Take him," said Eberhard. When the light turned green, Woolsey floored it. With a near-silent whoosh, the all-electric Tesla, capable of going from zero to 60 in four seconds, left the Corvette driver with one question when he caught up at the next light: "What is that?"" Keep reading.
Gaffney in a plug in hybrid, joined by Senator Brownback and Felix Kramer Frank Gaffney's testimony in the House of Representatives today: "Since only 2% of our electrical grid relies on oil to generate power, electrification of the transportation sector is a key element of the effort to reduce our consumption of oil. Automobiles and other vehicles that can use electricity to provide some or all of their fuel can make a real contribution to weaning us from our oil addiction and diminishing the national security vulnerabilities that arise therefrom." Read the whole thing. Rob Lowe and Rep. Markey, Chairman of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, standing next to a plug in hybrid after today's hearing.
Coalition members Edwin Black and Anne Korin Following the success of his book Internal Combustion Set America Free member and award winning author Edwin Black asserts that the only way to create an alt-fuel revolution is to convince fleet owners to purchase hydrogen, electric, compressed natural gas, and other non-gasoline vehicles. This movement is called the Green Fleet Initiative. One of the nation's biggest fleet managers has already stepped up to the plate shifting gas guzzlers to more efficient models. Read here
In its starkest warning yet on the worldâ€™s fuel outlook, the International Energy Agency said the world is facing an oil supply "crunch" within five years that will force up prices to record levels and increase the westâ€™s dependence on oil cartel Opec. "oil looks extremely tight in five years timeâ€ and there are â€œprospects of even tighter natural gas markets at the turn of the decade," said the agency's Medium-Term Oil Market Report, which is published every six months. "Low OPEC spare capacity and slow non-OPEC production growth are of significant concern.'' Global oil demand is forecast to expand by 2.2 percent a year on average, reaching 95.8 million barrels a day by 2012. The fastest growth will occur in Asia. The report also showed that Chinese oil demand will reach almost 10 million barrels a day in 2012, compared with its domestic production that year of about 3.9 million barrels a day.
An excellent opinion piece in the Hindustan Times points out that, inspired by Western fixation with ethanol and biodiesel, India is about to miss a huge opportunity to strengthen its energy security. India intends to blend gasoline with 5 per cent of ethanol and to replace a large part of high speed diesel with bio-diesel from a plant called Jatropha. "Since ethanol can only be mass produced at present from food crops, even the six-fold increase in production that the governmentâ€™s modest programme envisages will require the diversion of a large portion of land that is currently feeding people to feeding machines." "While the technology for producing ethanol from non-food plant cellulose (e.g. wood, leaves, bagasse or straw) has still to be developed and proved economically viable, the technology for producing methanol from wood is more than two centuries old." India produces approximately 200 million tonnes of bagasse and an equal amount of paddy straw and rice husk (equivalent in energy terms to about 150 million tonnes of bagasse) every year. These agricultural and industrial wastes are capable of producing 750 to 800 million tonnes of a fuel that has so far only been used in racing cars. [methanol] In energy terms, this is equivalent to about 500 million tonnes of gasoline and slightly less of diesel. That is about three times the projected transport fuel needs of the country in 2030." "Often the strongest argument against doing something is that others are doing something different. But this is not applicable to the search for new sources of energy. Other countries are exploring other paths because they face a different set of constraints. The West, for instance, is placing its short-term bets on ethanol because it has a surplus of productive capacity in agriculture. It is placing its long-term bets on hydrogen fuel cells because it knows that it cannot grow enough biomass to meet the whole of its transport fuel needs when the oil runs out. We, however, will not get to that point for several decades. We also face the challenges of rural poverty and environmental degradation that they have largely overcome. We need to find our own path."