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Drumbeat: March 28, 2010

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March 31, 2010 by  

Washington considers a decline of world oil production as of 2011

The U.S. Department of Energy admits that “a chance exists that we may experience a decline” of world liquid fuels production between 2011 and 2015 “if the investment is not there”, according to an exclusive interview with Glen Sweetnam, main official expert on oil market in the Obama administration.

This warning on oil output issued by Obama’s energy administration comes at a time when world demand for oil is on the rise again, and investments in many drilling projects have been frozen in the aftermath of the tumbling of crude prices and of the financial crisis.

Glen Sweetnam, director of the International, Economic and Greenhouse Gas division of the Energy Information Administration at the DoE, does not say that investments will not be “there”. Yet the answer to the issue of knowing when, where and in which quantities additional sources of oil should be put on-stream remains widely “unidentified” in the eyes of the most prominent official analyst on energy inside the Obama administration.

The DoE dismisses the “peak oil” theory, which assumes that world crude oil production should irreversibly decrease in a nearby future, in want of suffisant fresh oil reserves yet to be exploited. The Obama administration of Energy supports the alternative hypothesis of an “undulating plateau”. Lauren Mayne, responsible for liquid fuel prospects at the DoE, explains : “Once maximum world oil production is reached, that level will be approximately maintained for several years thereafter, creating an undulating plateau. After this plateau period, production will experience a decline.”

Power crunch looms for Britain

BRITAIN faces the worst energy crisis in Europe, according to the boss of one of the biggest power companies.

“The country has to build two large plants or more every single year,” said Volker Beckers in his first interview since becoming chief executive of RWE Npower two months ago.

“This has never happened in Britain’s history, so there’s no time to lose.”

Homeowners will end up footing much of the estimated £200 billion bill for the new plants through higher energy prices.

“The government faces the biggest challenge in Europe,” said Beckers, whose company supplies power to 6.4m British homes. “In a world where capital is scarce and the economic case is unclear, it’s not an easy sell to my board. Right now, I can’t do it.”

Dissecting the disconnect in oil sands stocks

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) – Canada’s oil sands producers aren’t feeling the love.

There’s no question that Alberta’s huge unconventional crude deposits hold some of the richest potential for supplying North America and even Asia with oil.

Investors don’t seem to care right now.

Sinopec gets upstream foothold with $2.5 billion deal

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Sinopec, Asia’s top oil refiner, will buy a stake in upstream assets in Angola for $2.46 billion and said it wanted more such deals, which could shield it from high oil prices that hit margins in the fourth quarter.

Nigeria’s Former Oil Rebels Frustrated at Stalled Niger Delta Peace

Nigeria’s acting President Goodluck Jonathan and ex-militant leaders are to meet in the coming days amid threats of renewed violence in the oil-rich south.

Activists say the Nigerian government is not keeping the promises it made during an amnesty period last year and that the nation’s southern region, which is home to Africa’s biggest oil and gas industry, risks returning to violence.

Loadshedding continues to hit Lahorites

LAHORE – Prolonged and unannounced power outage continue to hit Lahorites which is causing massive nuisance and panic not only in the residential localities but it has also marred the business of the markets in the City here on Saturday.

Pakistan’s other fault lines

The Texas-sized, resource-rich Balochistan, with 750 km of strategically significant Arabian Sea coastline, is the largest, but least developed, of Pakistan’s four provinces. Balochistan shares a sizable and strategically significant border with Afghanistan’s southwest, volatile provinces and Iran’s Balochistan regions.

The conflict has recently turned more critical, as Pakistan officially incorporated the Balochistan crisis into the high-level Indo-Pak joint statement at Sharm el-Sheikh on July 16, 2009. Afghanistan, in unison with the international community, unabatedly claims a Taliban presence in the province’s capital city of Quetta.

‘Interlinking of rivers key to food security’

CHENNAI: Interlinking of rivers is the need of the hour as most of the southern regions are starved of water, said Union Textile Minister Dayanidhi Maran on Saturday.

US Following USSR Into Collapse? (audio and partial transcript)

In a recent interview with Russian born Dmitry Orlov, he gave facts to back up his view that the U.S. is headed down the same road that led the former Soviet Union into collapse. He explains the stages of collapse and what stage the U.S. is in and which country did a better job with their propaganda machines.

“This Week’s Green House” sells power back to the grid

Despite 20 inches of snow earlier this week in Jamestown, Colo., Jeff Hohensee says he never needed a furnace or a wood fire. His home remained toasty all by itself.

Hohensee turned a 197os energy hog into an net-energy producer through a two-year renovation. That’s why his home has earned the title of “This Week’s Green House” — a new Friday feature in this community.

Gazprom denies eying British energy sector

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom denied a media report on Sunday that it was preparing to invest 1 billion pounds ($1.48 billion) to become one of Britain’s biggest fuel suppliers.

The Sunday Times reported on its website that state-run Gazprom is expected to lodge an offer this week for a network of 800 petrol stations and the Lindsey oil refinery at Killingholme, Lincolnshire.

Steve LeVine: China, $165 Million, and Kazakhstan’s Second Son-in-Law

Awhile ago, I received an email from an old source about some documents that could be had in London. They regarded a well-worn story, he said – the business dealings of the first family in Kazakhstan. I flew out, and walked into a conference room, where I was given a four-inch-thick stack of contracts, loan documents, and emails surrounding the country’s leading oilman, Timur Kulibayev, the powerful second son-in-law of President Nursultan Nazarbayev. The leaker was a former executive of a Kulibayev-controlled company who had a falling-out with the 43-year-old official. He asked not to be identified out of fear for the safety of his family.

Many of the documents involved Chinese oil companies, and the Kazakh portion of Beijing’s resource buying binge around the world. For years, China has swept up energy assets, paying tens of billions of dollars for prize oil and metals properties, including a half dozen Kazakh fields totaling 1.7 billion barrels of oil. This has provoked allegations of market manipulation and fears of resource shortages. But a transaction described in the documents illustrates one of the techniques in the Chinese arsenal – cutting locally powerful political figures into the windfall profits.

Sinopec Net Doubles on Fuel Prices, Lower Crude Costs

(Bloomberg) — China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., Asia’s biggest refiner, reported profit more than doubled last year after the government allowed it to increase fuel prices and crude oil costs fell.

Dubai debt plan meant to show emirate back on feet

Dubai’s plan to avoid drawing on fresh funds from wealthier neighbour Abu Dhabi in its debt restructuring proposal for Dubai World may be more about presentation than the reality of its balance sheet. Not taking new cash from Abu Dhabi was meant to show investors that Dubai can still stand on its own feet. But analysts say the hard reality is that the emirate could never navigate its current troubles without Abu Dhabi’s support. Abu Dhabi, which holds over 90 percent of the United Arab Emirates’ oil wealth, may yet have to help out Dubai again despite the message of Thursday’s plan for the conglomerate.

Defenders of the Land: Indigenous Survival and Liberation in times of Collapse

Recently Waziyatawin has been intertwining her interest in decolonization and Indigenous liberation with research around climate collapse and peak oil, and believes that we can’t simply wait for an end to the extreme destruction caused by industrial civilization – we need to take action and help bring it to and end, so that our chances for future survival are the greatest.

Waziyatawin offers something very important with this interview, by connecting a recognition of the great changes upon us with an anti-colonial perspective as an Indigenous woman.

Industrial civilization now threatens not just our individual landbases, but the entire earth, and more than ever we are in need of people who are willing to be defenders of the land. Waziyatawin talks about some of the cultural myths that colonialism has infected all of us with to varying degrees, myths about the legitimacy and permanence of the US and Canadian governments, myths of technological prowess, myths of passivity to authority, and myths of the moral purity of non-violence. In a time of such dire need, she urges us to re-consider all of these and seriously consider how we can best serve our landbase, and best prepare our community for an end to an industrial way of life.

Green energy can spur Ireland’s return to growth

(Reuters) – Renewable energy should play a major role in spurring Ireland back to growth now the government and economy are both showing signs of stability, Ireland’s energy minister said in an interview.

Charge towards electric cars begins

A major step into the future was taken on Friday when Energy Minister Eamon Ryan and ESB chief executive, Padraig McManus, launched the country’s first electric vehicle (EV) charge points.

The charge points were unveiled in Dublin city centre and mark the beginning of a nationwide infrastructure.

Big Isle turbines to tower 156 feet

Two 100-kilowatt wind turbines are planned for two separate installations on the Big Island, marking what is to be the largest wind-power projects by individual businesses in the state.

Shipping Rules Will Cut CO2; Some ‘Weak,’ Japan Says

(Bloomberg) — New regulations on greenhouse gases from shipping will help cut the industry’s emissions, even though some of the proposals are “weak,” according to a Japanese envoy chairing a UN working group this week.

Global Warming Making People More Aggressive?

Global warming could make the world a more violent place, because higher temperatures increase human aggression and create volatile situations, a new study says.

GAO: Preliminary Observations on Geoengineering Science, Federal Efforts, and Governance Issues [PDF]

Substantial uncertainties remain on the efficacy and potential environmental impacts of proposed geoengineering approaches, because geoengineering research and field experiments to date have been limited. GAO’s review of relevant studies and interviews with experts to date found that relatively few modeling studies for solar radiation management (SRM) approaches have been published, and only limited small-scale testing—primarily of carbon storage activities relevant to carbon dioxide removal (CDR) approaches—have been performed.

Consequently, the experts GAO spoke with stated that a sustained effort of coordinated and cooperative research would be needed to determine whether proposed geoengineering approaches would be effective at a scale necessary to reduce temperatures and to attempt to anticipate and respond to potential unintended consequences—including the political, ethical, and economic issues surrounding the use of certain approaches.

Specifically, just as the effects of climate change in general are expected to vary by region, so would the effects of certain large-scale geoengineering efforts, therefore, potentially creating relative winners and losers and thus sowing the seeds of future conflict.

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