Published Jul 17 2009 by Energy Bulletin
Archived Jul 17 2009

Peak oil & prices & supplies - July 17

by Staff

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Bakken Oil; bonanza or hype?

Rolf E. Westgard, Brainerd Daily Dispatch

"The Bakken Oil Field. America's Saudi Arabia!" trumpet the promotions which arrive regularly in my e-mail box. Are there really 400 billion barrels of recoverable oil in the Bakken Formation as the stock sellers suggest? Actually, we have to divide by one hundred.

The latest USGS Bakken report adds 3.6 billion potential undiscovered recoverable barrels to the Bakken's discovered 500 million for a total of just over 4 billion barrels. That's good, but it's not enough to send the Saudis packing.

...Bakken oil is light sweet with an API density in the high thirties and low sulfur content. Drilling in the Bakken doesn't carry the usual exploration risk of coming up with a dry hole. If you drill you will hit oil. The risk is whether you will produce enough oil at a high enough price to cover drilling and production expenses. At today's oil price, much of the Bakken potential offers only marginal returns
(14 July 2009)

The End of the Age of Oil: Will It Be a Soft or Hard Landing?

Anis Shivani, Huffington Post
A review of '$20 per gallon: How the inevitable rise in the price of gasoline will change our lives for the better' By Christopher Steiner, Grand Central, 276 pages.

Forbes magazine writer Christopher Steiner has set up a useful heuristic device--the escalation of the price of oil in two-dollar increments, from $4 to $20--to speculate about the changes in our lifestyle we might see at each stage of the price increase. At $4, some of the tougher choices might still be unpalatable, but with the continuing increase in price, more radical changes will become necessities, if we are to survive as a civilization at all...

...Steiner's book agrees on the basic premise, that the end of oil is bound to come sooner rather than later (we can disagree on the exact date oil extraction peaked, but its arrival at some point is indisputable) and that we had better prepare for the day of reckoning.

Reading $20 Per Gallon makes us realize how contingent our way of life is, and how uncertain its future prospects are. Connecting each phase of the price increase with a particular form of reliance, Steiner tries to move us from denial to acceptance...
(15 July 2009)
Related: an article by the book's author: Twenty Dollars Per Gallon

Will Iraq Be a Global Gas Pump?: The (Re)Making of a Petro-State

Michael Klare, Tom's Dispatch
Has it all come to this? The wars and invasions, the death and destruction, the exile and torture, the resistance and collapse? In a world of shrinking energy reserves, is Iraq finally fated to become what it was going to be anyway, even before the chaos and catastrophe set in: a giant gas pump for an energy-starved planet? Will it all end not with a bang, but with a gusher? The latest oil news out of that country offers at least a hint of Iraq's fate...

A New Petro-State Servicing the Global Economy?

No one should underestimate the potential obstacles in the way of this objective. Any number of factors -- a rise in opposition to giving away any part of the national "patrimony" to foreigners, a significant increase in insurgent violence, heightened factional fighting in Baghdad, a sharpening of tension between Baghdad and the Kurds, an increase in corruption -- could prevent the realization of these ambitious goals. Moreover, pending the passage of a national oil and gas law (a goal pursued by U.S. officials for years), the major foreign oil companies will remain reluctant to sink too much money into Iraq, fearful that their assets will not be protected.

Nevertheless, it appears that, for the first time since the outbreak of the Iran-Iraq War in 1980, the stars in the energy firmament are aligning in ways that may favor Iraq's reemergence as a major oil producer. Whereas the major powers once competed among themselves for influence in Iraq or backed one or another of Iraq's local rivals in efforts to weaken or contain that country, all now seem inclined to invest in, and benefit from, the reconstruction of its energy infrastructure...
(14 July 2009)
Submitted by EB contributer Rob Bracken