Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Oil drips and discharges

There is no gas shortage. While this author makes some good points, he has some enormous holes in his arguments. He confuses oil inventories with gasoline inventories. Also, while gasoline is at a 15 year high in terms of absolute numbers, in terms of days of supply, we're not doing nearly as well. Days of supply are how many days we could run our cars without any new refining until we ran out. It takes into consideration consumption, which is much higher now than it was in 1990. Also, as much as people's eyes pop at the profits the oil majors are making now, it wasn't too long ago they were just hanging on. In the late 90's, when gasoline was 99 cents a gallon (partly as a result of Venezuela fighting for market share), companies were laying off workers and just barely hanging on. After the oil bust in the 80's, 1/3 of the entire industry lost their jobs! I still find if fascinating that the old timers I deal with are thinking 'when is the bubble going to bust' and not 'wow, we're making a lot of money.' The oil bust of the 80's is still deeply ingrained into the psyche of oilfield workers.

Artic the next Saudi Arabia? I doubt it. The most famous prospect in the Arctic is Mukluk. Mukluk is INFAMOUS within the oil industry. It was considered to be a "sure thing" and when the exploration rights were put of for auction by MMS (Federal Government), the bidding exploded. BP spent a billion dollars (back when a billion dollars meant something) to drill a dry hole (no oil). Other companies couldn't believe it, so they went in and drilled more dry holes. No oil was ever found. Here's a different geologist's take. Much more realistic. Nice little factoid at the end, too.

Japanese government paid for 100% of Prius' hybrid drive development, ex-VP alleges Toyota says Jim Press is full of shit. The truth is somewhere in the middle. Japan takes their engineering research very seriously. They spend boatloads on research that could be useful in the near term on what is usually referred to as 'application engineering' (my half-assed definition: applying known technologies in combination to get stuff done).

40% of Spanish electricity comes from wind. 40% of electricity production met by wind energy in a major industrial country... Wind has serious potential and is the most economical of all the alternative energies. That doesn't mean you can completely do without base load stations, but nobody can claim wind is useless. Don't forget about solar, too. Especially solar thermal. Solar power provides peak power (electricity at mid-day, when demand is highest), which makes it even more valuable. Solar power is a long way away from being economical for base power generation, but because peak power generation is so expensive (it's usually achieved through natural gas powered turbines), it is starting to be economical for peak power generation, even without subsidies.

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