Published May 11 2009 by Energy Bulletin
Archived May 11 2009

Peak oil - May 11

by Staff

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Jeff Rubin's new book on peak oil

Charlie Smith, Georgia Straight
Peak oil fails to register with Gordon Campbell and Carole James

The two main provincial political parties, the B.C. Liberals and the B.C. NDP, don't like talking about peak oil. They both seem to think it's good public policy to build a new multibillion-dollar bridge across the Fraser River.

Today, I've been reading Jeff Rubin's startling new book, Why Your World Is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller: Oil and The End of Globalization (Random House Canada, $29.95). And I've got to say, it's pretty depressing to think that the two people with a shot at becoming premier both seem completely oblivious about international oil markets.

Rubin is not some left-wing flake who can easily be dismissed by B.C. Liberal Leader Gordon Campbell and NDP Leader Carole James. He's the former chief economist at CIBC World Markets, and he presents a compelling case that the future is not going to be a continuation of the past.

Sky-high oil prices caused the global recession. And as soon as the economy starts to recover, it will likely be hobbled again by rapidly rising oil prices.

This requires some innovative thinking on the part of our provincial leaders. The Greens seem to be the only ones with a clue about the whole nature of peak oil--which suggests that once global oil production peaks (or has peaked), it will result in an inevitable decline in supplies. The mismatch between demand and supply will cause wild price gyrations, crippling economies around the world.
(9 May 2009)

Canada's reckless carbon habit
(new book from Homer-Dixon)
Andrew Nikiforuk, Globe and Mail
Carbon Shift:
How the Twin Crises of Oil Depletion and Climate Change Will Define the Future

Edited by Thomas Homer-Dixon with Nick Garrison
Random House, 230 pages, $34.95
Yet oil, the elixir of growth and Viagra for the species, has left Canadians fat, lazy and flummoxed. We can't imagine a world, as writer Ronald Wright puts it, without "speed, mobility, headlong economic growth and an array of dazzling consumer goods." Oil removes the toil.

And now Canada has become the No. 1 oil dealer for the United States. (Our U.S. consulates pimp for the oil sands like 19th-century Saudi slavers.) For once, we no longer sit on the proverbial fence. As earnest bitumen salesmen, we brazenly pollute the atmosphere with no real plan or strategy. In short, Canada, a bona fide carbon hedonist, has become a dysfunctional and paralyzed geography. I don't think the world really needs more of us any more.

And that's why the brief collection of essays in Carbon Shift really matters. Edited by Thomas Homer-Dixon, an intellectual straight shooter, the book offers six distinct point of views about Canada's troublesome twins: climate change and peak oil and their central role in Canada's discordant future.

Homer-Dixon clearly sets the scene. He correctly argues that cheap oil has undermined our economic models, and business as usual is no longer an option: "The greatest threat to our future may be not that our fossil fuel economy will disappear - but that it will endure."
(9 May 2009)
EB contributor Rick Munroe writes:
Thomas Homer-Dixon's new compilation of essays has only been out for three weeks, but it has created quite a stir. The essayists are all Canadian, yet the "twin crises of oil depletion and climate change" are of vital global concern, hence the book's universal relevance.

This review was written by Andrew Nikiforuk, himself a prominent Canadian energy analyst who has done excellent work on these issues. Nikiforuk flags the essays by Hughes and Rubin as being the best in the collection, though Homer-Dixon's introduction and conclusion are also excellent. An insightful review of a most remarkable book.

EB contributor Bill Henderson writes:
a review of what looks like a real pertinent book by Canada's best energy journalist. Lots of EB voices. But Nikiforuk is much better on oil then climate change. Jaccard and Simpson were co-authors of a Canuck best seller on climate change published in 07:

The best selling HOT AIR: Meeting Canada's Climate Change Challenge by Globe and Mail columnist Jeffrey Simpson, climate change policy specialist Mark Jaccard and researcher Nic Rivers is a perfect example of New Denial. Published in 2007 by informed Canadian climate change policy insiders, there is no mention of tipping points or latent positive feedbacks, carbon cycle time lags, sinks turning into sources or abrupt, whipsawing climate history.

HOT AIR contains no acknowledgement at all of non-linear climate change. There is no warning education of the increasing probability and immediate danger of runaway, no longer controllable, climate change which is a far greater danger to Canadians than bad weather, drought and bugs from gradual warming. No mention at all. No Hansen. Nothing about methane bubbling up from permafrost. Strictly a long term gradual problem that we can solve within business as usual beginning with thin edge of the wedge mitigation strategies such as the puny BC carbon tax Jaccard and Co turnkeyed for the BC Liberal government.

But David Hughes's quote "the worse a fuel's EROI, the larger its carbon footprint," says so much about the perils of climate change mitigation at the end of cheap oil.

Oil: No Supply Side Answer to the Coming Crisis

Andrew McKillop, Petroleum World
Finding out how long it will take for oil prices to bounce back to the US $ 75 to 100 range is of course a key question, but it can be answered ! By late 2010 and perhaps before, there will likely be perceptible physical shortage on world oil markets: the main controlling variable is nothing to do with supply, but demand. Whenever the present global recession shakes into a sickly and inflation-riddled imitation of economic recovery, oil prices will already be at US $ 75-per-barrel. This semi-recovery of global economic growth and much higher oil prices could occur by early 2010,=0 Abut as noted above it could be sooner. After we arrive at this price level structural supply shortage can quickly lead to very high prices being attained. . .

On the supply side, for oil, things are serious and getting worse. Even in recession, geological depletion of global oil reserves and ageing of sometimes already very old production infrastructures do not take a holiday, surprising as this may seem to some economic 'experts'. The world oil and gas industry, due to many years of non-renewal and low investment in the 1980S and 1990s cheap oil period is heavily exposed to accelerated ageing which can only be corrected, or slowed in its impacts, by massive spending. Without higher oil prices, this is impossible. By at latest 2010, depletion will tilt the supply/demand balance to overall loss of world supply, not covered by NGLs, syncrude, gas and oil conversion and even less so by biofuels – supplying about 0.6 Bn barrels oil equivalent, annual. This tilt, or the end of the 'undulating plateau' of world supply wh ich has lasted since 2005-2006, where depleting conventional oil is just covered by unconventional, is even possible in late 2009. . .

Today we have an Obama administration, and other G-20 leaders underlining their solemn engagement, and indulging in extremely massive public borrowing to save the world car industry, the world airline industry, homebuilding and urban construction, and so on, with the sole target of restoring absolutely conventional economic growth !
(9 May 2009)