You may recall the name of Dr. Ali Morteza Samsam Bakhtiari, a senior expert to the Iranian national oil company, National Iranian Oil Co. (NIOC), who was featured in the film The End of Suburbia. (And if you haven’t seen it, you must!)
A man with decades of experience, Dr. Bakhtiari has been one of the few top names in the oil business to acknowledge the urgency and seriousness of peak oil, and speak fairly candidly about it.
This article, from yesterday’s Daily Reckoning investment newsletter, has a nice roundup of his views and adds some fresh material from the author’s personal correspondence with Dr. Bakhtiari.
What prompted me to blog it was that Dr. Bakhtiari proposed a framework to describe the post-peak scenario between now and 2020, in four phases. Now, I have put the challenge, to various discussion groups about energy, for anyone to come up with a realistic 20-year scenario. So far, there have been some admirable attempts, but nothing I would consider too seriously. I even tried to get it submitted as a standard question to all speakers at the upcoming ASPO conference, but that get much response. Perhaps it’s too daunting. The problem is, there are just too many variables, and their interaction is too unpredictable.
While simple, I think Dr. Bakhtiari’s T1 – T4 framework could be a useful foundation. Food for thought, anyway. (more…)
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Here are my notes from the 2005 ASPO-USA First World Oil Conference in Denver, Colorado.
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I’m catching up the blog with some of the better material I came across in the last year but didn’t blog about. (Apologies to those of you who were on the email distribution for the repeat!)
Here’s an animation of a character making his peak oil preparation. I thought it was really good. Kinda creepy, but good. Effective in the way that
only animation can be. That’s a lot of perspective for only 3:09.
Post Oil Man
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is an outstanding piece of dramatic work, a one-man show, talking about the
“other” history of oil. I’m blown away. Funny, smart, insightful, clever, I
can’t say enough. It’s 45 mins, so curl up with a cuppa and enjoy. Send it
Newman’s History of Oil
Robert Newman gets to grips with the wars and politics
of the last hundred years – but rather than adhering to the history we were fed
at school, the places oil centre stage as the cause of all commotion. This
innovative history programme is based around Robert Newman’s stand-up act and
supported by resourceful archive sequences and stills with satirical
impersonations of historical figures from Mayan priests to Archduke Ferdinand.
Quirky details such as a bicycle powered street lamp on the stage brings home
the pertinent question of just how we are going to survive when the world’s oil
supplies are finally exhausted.
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Here’s another rare, good piece of journalism about peak oil, global warming, and redesigning communities. This is an excellent primer for those who are still getting up to speed on those topics. Highly recommended.
The ASPO is gearing up for a proper and complete rebuttal to the aforementioned CERA report. Here is a precursor commentary by Randy Udall and Matthew Simmons, “CERA’s Rosy Oil Forecast – Pabulum to the People”. Smart, concise and on-the-money. The bottom line? “Taking such Pollyannish scenarios at face value threatens economic prosperity and national security.” Couldn’t have said it better myself.
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Here’s a fresh perspective, tales from an insider on British Petroleum’s “beyond petroleum” ad campaign. It’s a fun read.
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Whenever the corporate media want to present a “balanced” view of our oil and natural gas problem, there’s one guy they always call upon: Daniel Yergin of Cambridge Energy Research Associates, or CERA. He’s that benign face on the TV assuring you that we’ll have ample supplies for the foreseeable future, who projects that we’ll add another 40 million barrels per day (mbpd) of production capacity by 2015, magically matching our projected demand. He’s the one who’s opinion is supposed to be as valid as the host of petroleum geologists who make up the ASPO, who say that we’ll hit the peak around 90 mbpd in 2010, or 4 mbpd more than today, in four years.
When I blasted the generally poor reportage about energy in my last blog, I was unaware of this outstanding piece published by the Chicago Tribune a week earlier. But it’s burning up the blog charts now. It’s long, so download the complete PDF and read it at your leisure, but do check it.
The author, Paul Salopek, has done what no one had ever done before–indeed what most said couldn’t be done–and that’s to trace a tankful of gas back to its oil fields of origin. But aside from that feat, he’s done his homework about the various perspectives on the future of oil, and has come up with a sensible, balanced, and mostly correct conclusion.
It also has some well-done and very pithy appendixes (listed as “Sidebars” in the Web version) that do a decent job of covering the peak oil debate, the nature of oil, and the debate over the Saudi peak.
A Tank Of Gas, A World Of Trouble
By Paul Salopek
Published July 29, 2006
Seriously, read it. It’s great, and a compelling bit of journalism, not your usual dry stuff. I give it an A+. I hope he wins his third Pulitzer for this one.
Update Saturday August 26, 2006:
Paul Salopek imprisoned in Darfur and charged with spying
WASHINGTON, Aug. 26 /PRNewswire/ — Paul Salopek, who was traveling in Africa to report on the culture and history of the Sahel for National Geographic magazine, was detained by Sudanese authorities and on Aug. 26 charged with espionage in a North Darfur court in El Fashir, Sudan. National Geographic magazine vigorously protests this accusation and appeals to Sudan for his immediate release and the release of two Chadians assisting him.
Update September 9, 2006:
Salopek, his driver and his interpreter were released after Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir pardoned them on September 9.
Well it’s been nearly two years since I last blogged regularly, and it’s high time I got back on my high horse for some high times in the blogosphere. GRL is now sporting a new face (thanks to poddesigns for the new header logo!), on a new version of GeekLog,
on a new server, under its own domain name (www.getreallist.com
). And along with its new face, it’s got a new mission: educating as many people as possible about the coming energy crunch, and what they can do about it. Never mind the politics, we’ve got a lot of urgent work to do.
The world certainly has changed a lot in the last two years. Peak oil has been covered by many of the mainstream media,
documentaries about global warming and energy and alternative vehicles are out, books about energy are being published at a breakneck pace, and there’s even a peak oil caucus in the House (thanks to Rep. Roscoe Bartlett and Rep. Mark Udall). Many regular folks are starting to wake up and pay attention to where their energy is coming from, and what that means for geopolitics and American foreign policy. The drumbeat has begun!
On the other hand, most of the reportage I’ve seen is either wrong or politically twisted or just badly done (did anybody see that horrible abortion of a production called “We Were Warned: The Coming Oil Crisis” that CNN did back in March?), and full of misinformation and unreasonable projections. Meanwhile, the White House and Congress are still without any plan to wean us off of oil and natural gas and start making serious tracks to a renewable energy future. In fact, right now their biggest objective is to do more offshore drilling on the continental shelf and in ANWR, with renewable energy investment still a pittance. Apparently they still haven’t gotten the message that we can’t drill our way out of this mess.
I hope I don’t need to tell you that time’s a-wastin’. The ASPO (Association for the Study of Peak Oil and
Gas) is projecting that we’ll reach the global production peak of all oil (including the “unconventional oil” category which
includes tar sands, oil shale, polar oil, and ultra-deepwater oil) around 2010-2011, and it looks as though the peak of “conventional oil” (light sweet and heavy sour crude from on-shore, and offshore drilling in shallow to deep water) was last year.
Meanwhile, at the ASPO Conference in Pisa two weeks ago, Robert Hirsch, co-author the now-famous ‘Hirsch Report‘ on mitigation scenarios for the next 50 years, doubts that the world can keep increasing oil flows for much longer. “CERA sees a long plateau ahead,” he said. “But I can’t find a plateau in the data I’m looking at.” The downturn, when it comes, would take the world by surprise. “Peaking could come with little warning and sharp declines,” he said. His latest projection? We’ll need to spend a trillion dollars a year for the next 20 years, globally, to come up with adequate substitutes and mitigation plans.
Also at the conference, Chris Skrebowski said we have 1500 days to prepare for the peak..er, make that 1486 days, give or take. Hm, that’s not much time to muster the political and popular support for spending a trillion a year, certainly not at our current rate. So there is still plenty of work for me to do, getting the story straight and educating as many
people as possible about energy.
This is where you come in.
Please invite your friends and associates to join the GRL mailing list and help me rebuild the readership! Your help will
enable me to start producing some revenue from the blog and establish a basis for some much more ambitious public education projects I am contemplating.
I hope you enjoy the new GRL and its new focus on all things energy. I love to hear from you, so
don’t be shy, drop me an email
or a headsup on anything you think might be relevant!
Stay tuned, much more to come!
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