The True Cost of Oil: $12.5 Trillion a Year?

June 29, 2007 at 12:55 pm
Contributed by: Chris


In this week’s article for Energy and Capital, I review some of the studies that have tried to assign a value to all the externalities and hidden subsidies of the oil business, to show that oil really isn’t cheaper than renewables (not by a long shot, as it turns out). I hope you find this enlightening!

Canary in a Data Mine

June 22, 2007 at 4:48 pm
Contributed by:


This week I did a “big picture” summary report about the current data on peak oil. I encourage you to look this over carefully and pass it around because I think it’s important to educate people about where we really stand in terms of energy supply with all the hokum and wild assertions being thrown around in the media.

It has charts and stuff so it was produced as a PDF. You can download it from GRL or from Green Chip Stocks.

Please feel free to shoot me any questions or comments, and hey, invite a friend to sign up for this email newsletter…haven’t had any new subscribers in a while.



Life Through Time

June 21, 2007 at 9:19 pm
Contributed by:


Happy summer solstice!

You simply must check out this presentation. It’s “a stunning photographic journey through time and the history of life on Earth,” one of the fruits of a 7-year project by photographer Frans Lanting.

As the forwarder commented: “This is more than just photography, but a life’s work that requires knowledge of various fields of science, an eye for beauty and synchronicity, journalism, aesthetics, computer interface (very well done!), and remarkable vision.”

Take a little timeout from the hardcore content of GRL to enjoy this visual romp through the history of the planet. Make sure you click around and explore the timeline and the controls and the “learn more” links. Really a nice piece of work. Kudos to you, Frans Lanting, whoever you are.


Future Shock: End of the Oil Age

June 21, 2007 at 11:40 am
Contributed by:


A new peak oil documentary is out, and it’s quite good. It was done for Ireland’s national broadcaster, RTÉ , so it’s focused on Ireland, but the similarities between their dependency on oil and the U.S.’s are quite striking.

For example:

  • Ireland imports 87% of its energy requirement and consumes about 180k barrels of oil per day (population 4.2m) making it one of the highest per capita oil consumers in Europe.
  • The U.S. imports 67% of its oil and consumes about 21 million barrels per day (population 300 million) making it the biggest consumer of oil on Earth.

Plus, you get to see Colin Campbell interviewed in his home environment! It’s about an hour long so get yourself a cuppa or something.

Check it out: Future Shock: End of the Oil Age


The Peak Oil Crisis: Approaching The Cliff

June 21, 2007 at 7:56 am
Contributed by:

This column from Tom Whipple was so good, I decided to repost the whole thing. For those of you who don’t know Tom’s work, he regularly writes a column on peak oil for The Falls Church News-Press of Virgina and is one of the most astute observers of peak oil data around. He’s one of the best and I have cribbed liberally from his work. Add ’em to your Google Reader!

The Peak Oil Crisis: Approaching The Cliff

By Tom Whipple

The Falls Church News-Press

Thursday, 21 June 2007

Last weekend across southern South Dakota the pumps
went dry. Gas terminals from Sioux Falls to Yankton to Sioux City were
empty. “There is simply not enough fuel coming down the pipeline into the
delivery system” said a BP station owner. Eventually the tankers were sent
to Nebraska to find gas. A minor glitch in the distribution? Possibly, but
more likely a harbinger of more serious problems to come.

Meanwhile, I would like to tell you that Congress,
which has been debating energy bills for the last two weeks, is getting
ready to pass legislation that will make our lives easier during the
troubled years ahead. Sadly, I cannot. From their public pronouncements
and posturing, it is unlikely more than a dozen members of Congress have
the slightest idea of what 2007 energy legislation should be trying to
accomplish in an urgent manner.

Many of the just-barely-in-the-majority Democrats,
especially in the Senate, are on the right track, with proposals to
improve average gasoline consumption, and to increase the use of renewable
energy. Scattered here and there are conservation measures and R&D
money for more efficient something or others, but from the perspective of
imminent oil depletion, the proposals are too little, too late. Setting
efficiency goals for 10 or 15 years from now is absurd when the problems
to solve may be upon us in 15 or 20 months, or, if the real alarmists are
right, in 15 or 20 weeks.

However inadequate the Democrats’ proposals may be,
they pale in comparison to the absurdity of the opposition to energy
legislation forming on Capitol Hill. Detroit, in conspiracy with the coal
and electric industries, is mounting a full court press to see that little
gets through this Congress to upset the status quo – mild efficiency
standards, no greenhouse gas regulation, no renewable energy mandates.
From the opposition’s point of view, if Congress wants to do anything,
then it might be OK for them to bankroll the R&D so we can convert
good old American coal into our gasoline; don’t even think about taxing
energy, but a few more subsidies might be nice.

With crucial Senate votes scheduled for later this
week, it is still too early to judge what the final legislation will look
like, but it is starting to look as if we are going to arrive at the
precipice of oil depletion without Congress having done much of anything
to mitigate the situation. The American automobile industry is clearly on
its way to committing suicide; the coal industry does not seem to realize
its days are numbered; and the electric industry seems to have no notion
that, within a lifetime, fossil fuels and perhaps even some forms of
nuclear energy are going to have to be replaced.

As a civilization, we are all to blame. Most Americans
are showing little inclination to cut back on driving. In study after
study we tell interviewers we are willing to spend our last nickel,
mortgage the farm, and deprive our grandchildren before we will give up
driving. We are all heading towards the cliff together.

Not much happened in the last week to tell us just how
close we are to the cliff. There is a general strike going on in Nigeria
that so far does not seem to be affecting oil production. Nigerian strikes
are usually settled quickly, but there is a new president in charge so
there could be surprises in store. In the Niger Delta, the insurgency
bubbles along, despite the nominal ceasefire, with still more oil being
shut-in by the insurgents during the past week.

From the perspective of oil production, Iraq continues
to hold its own. OPEC is still refusing to consider production increases
and the Chinese imports of crude oil continue to increase.

This week’s U.S. oil status report was a strange one.
U.S. refinery utilization plunged to what should be an abysmally low 87.6
percent, but at the same time the refineries managed to produce the same
amount of gasoline as the week before. Unless there is something wrong
with the numbers, this confirms that improvements made to our refineries
in recent years are now allowing them to squeeze considerably more
gasoline out of each barrel of crude — a definite plus. Imports increased
a bit, resulting in U.S. gasoline stockpiles growing by 1.8 million
barrels last week. There are still major shortages along the East Coast
and the summer driving season is almost here. There seem to be some
unusually large anomalies in this week’s report, however, so there may be
revisions ahead.

In general, the gasoline stockpiles situation now can
be categorized as serious rather than dire. We seem to be getting the
gasoline we need without our refineries working too well and so far we
seem to be able to find enough gasoline to import. From here through Labor
Day it depends on how much we all drive and of course the hurricanes. None
are yet in sight.

The Yes Men Prank the National Petroleum Council

June 19, 2007 at 6:42 pm
Contributed by: Chris


I have been wondering what the 600th GetRealList article would turn out to be. How appropriate that it would be this, a bit of real-life satire about oil and global warming.

If was a great prank: nobody got hurt (well, maybe a few egos); it was a trenchant critique; they totally fell for it. I think Abbie Hoffman would be proud.

Think their prank was far-fetched? Well then consider this sardonic quip from Prof. Tad Patzek of UC Berkeley, on the excessively optimistic numbers quoted by the DOE/USDA on the crop yield potential for biofuels: “To utilize all residues, I suggest to also process fresh corpses into biofuels.”

If you don’t know who the Yes Men are (or even if you do) check out their Web site and some of their projects. What they do is just the antidote for the mass-media controlled hallucination that passes for reality in these crazy times.

On a related note, a friend called me this afternoon and said that he saw a banner hung over the road in Pacifica, CA saying “My country invaded Iraq and all I got was this expensive gas.”

Sounds like another entry for the Freeway Blogger:

Nothing like a little harmless civil disobedience to shake people out of that hallucination. And boy, do we have one going now. The more the reality of peak oil and global warming and what we’re doing (and not doing) comes into focus, the more amazed I am at how wide a reality gap–no, a reality gulf–there is between the things we’re doing today and the reality that’s just around the next bend. It’s enough to make you feel a little schizo.


A Most Profitable Farce

June 15, 2007 at 2:28 pm
Contributed by: Chris


In this week’s article for Energy and Capital I review the tangled web of energy legislation currently making its way through Congress, and consider the profit opportunities thereof.

By the way, apologies to those of you who tried to catch my radio interiview on Thursday; it was pre-empted at the last minute. Hey, that’s the biz!

But if you are so inclined, a couple of new interviews were booked today for Monday and Wednesday of next week:

  • Mon June 18th 7:20-7:40 am PST

    Biz Radio Network The Economic Contrarian w/ Michael Norman Houston, TX

    Topic: EPA and Ethanol

    Listen Live:

  • Wed June 20th 9:10-9:20 am PST

    KFNN Business for Breakfast w/ Ken Morgan Phoenix, AZ

    Topic: EPA Guarantees Market for Ethanol

    Listen Live:

Hope you all are enjoying some nice summer weather; it certainly has been beautiful on the Left Coast. Have a good weekend!


Tune in to my radio interview today (Wed June 13)

June 12, 2007 at 6:48 am
Contributed by:


If you have nothing better to do, you can catch me on a 10-minute radio interview segment tomorrow talking about oil. Here are the details:

Station: Biz Radio Network (Houston 1320 AM, DFW 1360 AM)

Show: Market Buzz w/ Tom Busby

Time: 5:20 PST, 8:20 EST

Listen live at:

And if you’re really a glutton for punishment, you can check out another upcoming radio interview with me on gas prices:

Show: Traders Nation w/ Kurt Schemers

Time: Fri June 22nd 11:20-11:40 am EST (8:20-8:40 am PST)

Listen live at:


A Tale of Two Charlies

June 8, 2007 at 12:17 pm
Contributed by: Chris

For this week’s Energy and Capital story, I compare and contrast two of the biggest companies in America–GM and GE–and highlight how embracing the future is much more profitable than clinging to the past.


Rep. Bartlett’s Peak Oil Presentation to Congress

June 5, 2007 at 1:13 pm
Contributed by:


After bashing Congress in my last piece (“Gump Rules“) for their lack of comprehension of energy, I thought it appropriate to give a little air time to the one person in Congress who really does seem to understand energy (presumably because he was a scientist before he became a Congressman), Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD).

His presentation to Congress back in January about peak oil, and our real energy options going forward, is about as good as it gets. He’s got good data, a sensible read of the big picture, and a plainspoken way of explaining it all. I highly recommend reading the transcript of his remarks, check it out:

Rep. Bartlett’s Peak Oil Presentation to Congress


Gump Rules

June 1, 2007 at 3:12 pm
Contributed by: Chris


In this week’s article for Energy and Capital, I review some very stupid recent actions by Congress and the automotive industry in response to the public outcry over “high” gasoline prices. Don’t be fooled–none of this is going to help one bit. Check it.

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