by Chris Kulczycki
Wed Feb 8th, 2006 at 01:11:52 PM EST
Please excuse the American slant, but I think this affects us all.
"America will always rely on foreign oil." So says Exxon Mobil Senior Vice President Stuart McGill at a recent Houston energy conference. This is one of several belated responses to Bush's weak call for American energy independence, or at least less reliance on Middle Eastern oil.
Here's more from Reuters news:
"Realistically, it is simply not feasible in any time period relevant to our discussion today," Exxon Mobil Senior Vice President Stuart McGill said, referring to what he called the "misperception" that the United States can achieve energy independence. -snip-
"Americans depend upon imports to fill the gap," McGill said. "No combination of conservation measures, alternative energy sources and technological advances could realistically and economically provide a way to completely replace those imports in the short or medium term."
Instead of trying to achieve energy independence, importing nations like the U.S. should be promoting energy interdependence, McGill said.
"Because we are all contributing to and drawing from the same pool of oil, all nations -- exporting and importing -- are inextricably bound to one another in the energy marketplace," he said.
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Though Mr. McGill intentions may be questioned there is no denying that he is right, in a way. So long as we use oil, most of it will come from abroad. He is also right is saying that, "No combination of conservation measures, alternative energy sources and technological advances could realistically and economically provide a way to completely replace those imports in the short or medium term."
Even the Saudi's appear to be worried about Bush's statements. This is also from Reuters :
Saudi Arabia, the de facto leader of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, plans to boost production capacity from 11 million barrels per day to 12.5 million bpd by 2009.
"We will continue to be a source of stability for world energy markets," Saudi Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi told an energy conference hosted by Cambridge Energy Research Associates. "We are addressing the problem of availability head-on."
But, when asked if there were plans to boost capacity beyond 12.5 million bpd, Naimi made a reference to President George W. Bush's State of the Union pledge to slash U.S. oil imports from Middle East suppliers by 75 percent by 2025.
"What concerns us is all the talk about not wanting our oil," Naimi said. "It's not a major bump; it's something to take into consideration." -snip-
The head of the International Energy Agency, the West's energy watchdog, said this week that Bush's call to cut Middle East oil imports would not help persuade OPEC to spend the huge amounts of cash needed to meet future oil demand.
"We are absolutely delighted that President Bush has recognized at last that his country is addicted to oil," IEA head Claude Mandil said. "But the way he said it -- to get rid of dependence on Middle East oil -- will not help us convince those countries that they will have to increase their investment."
Interesting, but since many oil experts doubt that the Saudis can actually expand production in fields that are likely past, or very near peak it is probably irrelevant. Nonetheless, the only remarkable thing about all this is that so many seem to take Bush's non-plan seriously. Or are they just acting?
Of course some are less worried about oil supply and energy independence. John Tierney's recent NYT column is entitled Burn, Baby, Burn.
The problem with Americans is not that we're addicted to oil. As soon as oil becomes more trouble than it's worth, we will sensibly stop putting it in our cars. -snip-
The well is running dry. Government planners have a long history of overestimating the future cost of oil and underestimating the cost of their pet alternatives -- which is why we keep burning oil. -snip-
Mandating fuel-economy standards saved gasoline and made Americans a little less vulnerable to a spike in oil prices, but the rules led to smaller cars and an additional 2,000 deaths per year in highway accidents from the mid-1970's to the mid-1990's, according to the National Research Council. -snip-
The only real oil weapon is the one that American politicians use to justify energy plans and Middle East adventures. It doesn't matter if our enemies in the Persian Gulf refuse to sell us oil directly. Once they sell it to anyone, it's in the global market and effectively available to us. -snip-
The United States spent decades propping up the shah of Iran only to see the country fall into the hands of our archenemies, but Iran is still exporting oil -- and it is a lot more reliable producer than Iraq, despite all the money and lives we've spent there. The best guarantee of future oil supplies is the sellers' greed, not our diplomatic and military efforts.
When something finally comes along that's cheaper and more reliable than oil, no national energy plan will be necessary. Capitalists will be ready to sell it to eager American drivers. For now, the best strategy is to buy gasoline and stop worrying that it's sinful or dangerous.
Umm, yes, that was in the New York Times. So, don't worry, be happy, technology and the markets will save us.
It is obvious to anyone who has kept up with energy news that in the post peak-oil era there is no single or even combination of alternative technologies that can give us the amount of energy that we now get from oil. Oil sands, coal based oil, bio-fuels, wind power, wave, more nuclear plants, and who knows what else will come on line. But even the combination of all those things will not provide us with the same amount of energy as we now get from oil. This is the one monumental fact about peak-oil that most people still don't want to grasp.
I once asked the owner of a country store if he thought it would stop raining. We were on holiday and couldn't wait to go hiking. He looked out the window at the sky and rubbed his chin sagely. "I recon it will" he said after some consideration, "It always has." This is the attitude many take toward peak oil. Technology will somehow solve this problem like it always has. But technology is not like rain; the outcome is far from inevitable.
As for the markets, what sort of market is there for something that does not exist? Or if there is so little of something that it's cost puts it beyond our means, is the market relevant?
I am beginning to think that the main energy issue today is not that we are running out of oil. It is that so many seem to think that we can substitute bullshit for oil.
Might as well get into the act; what do you think?