Petroleum

Peak Oil? Nope, not even close

Remember peak oil? We were supposed to run out of oil about now…but instead there has never been more, but what if we actually never ran out of oil like what has been predicted?

What if new technology and a little-known energy source told us that fossil fuels may not be as limited as originally thought?

In the 1970s, geologists discovered crystalline natural gas—methane hydrate, in the jargon—beneath the seafloor. Stored mostly in broad, shallow layers on continental margins, methane hydrate exists in immense quantities; by some estimates, it is twice as abundant as all other fossil fuels combined. Despite its plenitude, gas hydrate was long subject to petroleum-industry skepticism. These deposits—water molecules laced into frigid cages that trap “guest molecules” of natural gas—are strikingly unlike conventional energy reserves. Ice you can set on fire! Who could take it seriously? But as petroleum prices soared, undersea-drilling technology improved, and geological surveys accumulated, interest rose around the world. The U.S. Department of Energy has been funding a methane-hydrate research program since 1982.

Nowhere has the interest been more serious than Japan. Unlike Britain and the United States, the Japanese failed to become “the owners, or at any rate, the controllers” of any significant amount of oil. (Not that Tokyo didn’t try: it bombed Pearl Harbor mainly to prevent the U.S. from blocking its attempted conquest of the oil-rich Dutch East Indies.) Today, Churchill’s nightmare has come true for Japan: it is a military and industrial power almost wholly dependent on foreign energy. It is the world’s third-biggest net importer of crude oil, the second-biggest importer of coal, and the biggest importer of liquefied natural gas. Not once has a Japanese politician expressed happiness at this state of affairs.

Japan’s methane-hydrate program began in 1995. Its scientists quickly focused on the Nankai Trough, about 200 miles southwest of Tokyo, an undersea earthquake zone where two pieces of the Earth’s crust jostle each other. Step by step, year by year, a state-owned enterprise now called the Japan Oil, Gas, and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC) dug test wells, made measurements, and obtained samples of the hydrate deposits: 130-foot layers of sand and silt, loosely held together by methane-rich ice. The work was careful, slow, orderly, painstakingly analytical—the kind of process that seems intended to snuff out excited newspaper headlines. But it progressed with the same remorselessness that in the 1960s and ’70s had transformed offshore oil wells from Waterworld-style exoticisms to mainstays of the world economy.

In January, 18 years after the Japanese program began, the Chikyu left the Port of Shimizu, midway up the main island’s eastern coastline, to begin a “production” test—an attempt to harvest usefully large volumes of gas, rather than laboratory samples. Many questions remained to be answered, the project director, Koji Yamamoto, told me before the launch. JOGMEC hadn’t figured out the best way to mine hydrate, or how to ship the resultant natural gas to shore. Costs needed to be brought down. “It will not be ready for 10 years,” Yamamoto said. “But I believe it will be ready.” What would happen then, he allowed, would be “interesting.”

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.

Revisiting Green party press releases

In 2008 the Green party issued this press release:

The Green Party is warning that today’s record breaking crude oil price of US$100 per barrel is just the first flirtation in what is going to be a long term relationship with triple digits in an ongoing trend of rising oil prices.

The price of oil reportedly surged during the first trading day in the New Year with light sweet crude rising US$4.02 to US$100 a barrel in New York.

“The era of cheap oil has been over for some time. While today’s price breaks a psychological limit, the long term trend indicates that oil may not be consistently priced this high until July or August. However, that’s very short time in planning terms and it is extremely urgent that we re-examine our budget priorities for roading, public transport and freight,” Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says.

While today’s price of US$100 did retreat soon after breaking the record, prices will never retreat back to the lows of just a few years ago.

“While there isn’t any need to panic, it is a clear signal that we should be planning for an oil constrained future. This means changing the way we get around, investing in more public transport and better urban design that supports walking and cycling. You only need to look at the major cities around the world that were built before the oil age to see that vibrant, exciting lifestyles are possible without depending on the private motor vehicle.

“If you read my latest Bill to be drawn, Climate Change (Transport Funding) Bill, you’ll see a phased programme for refocusing priorities towards more sustainable transport and reducing our reliance on fossil fuels.”

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.

Tagged:

Uh oh, another hippy lie busted, Peak Oil is well dead now

Remember peak oil?

The hippies still cling to this shibboleth like Michael Jackson to a small boy.

But the reality is there is more oil now than ever before as we have got smarter and technology improvements give us access to previously uneconomic oil supplies. And the alarmists are upset that oil prices are falling.

Many environmentalists had assumed that if neither fear nor reason helped us to lessen our reliance on oil, then at least we could count on scarcity. But scarcity is not an economic or environmental policy. Humans have long had a habit of expecting the sky to fall. Yet from Malthus to Paul Ehrlich, predictions that the planet was on the verge of starvation have never come to pass (or at least not as broadly as expected). Nonetheless, the drop in oil prices comes at a terrible moment. Last month the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported that our only chance to halt the rising temperature of the Earth, and to prevent the calamity that rise will cause, would be to eliminate fossil-fuel emissions by the end of the century.

A plan to end U.S. fossil-fuel dependence would be an unlikely goal in any case, but, if oil remains easily accessible, it becomes politically impossible. “It is technically feasible to transition to a low-carbon economy,” Youba Sokona, the co-chair of one of the I.P.C.C.’s working groups, says. “But what is lacking are appropriate policies and institutions. The longer we wait to take action, the more it will cost to adapt and mitigate climate change.”

Read more »

As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.

Photo Of The Day

Photo: REUTERS Fire boat response crews battle the blazing remnants of the offshore oil rig Deepwater Horizon, off Louisiana, in this photograph taken on April 21, 2010. The explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, which killed 11 workers and spewed oil for 87 straight days, soaked hundreds of miles of Gulf Coast shoreline in caramel-colored oil. Picture taken April 21, 2010.

Photo: REUTERS
Fire boat response crews battle the blazing remnants of the offshore oil rig Deepwater Horizon, off Louisiana, in this photograph taken on April 21, 2010. The explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, which killed 11 workers and spewed oil for 87 straight days, soaked hundreds of miles of Gulf Coast shoreline in caramel-colored oil. 

Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

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More good news. Oil sector jobs set to increase

Business is humming, the economy os booming and confidence is increasing.

Don’t let the opposition distract you, things are improving. The NZ Herald reports:

Big international oil and gas recruitment company Air Energi is moving into New Zealand in what is being described as a vote of confidence in the sector here.

The company, which has its headquarters in Manchester, is buying Inspirec, a leading recruitment consultancy for New Zealand’s energy industry based in New Plymouth.

Air Energi would not disclose terms of the deal but said it wanted exposure to New Zealand’s growing oil and gas sector.

Graeme Lewis, the group commercial director for Air Energi, said deepwater prospecting and exploration in New Zealand was “positioning it as a serious opportunity”. While it was still a frontier location, new technology made deep-water exploration feasible, and this meant there was increased interest in New Zealand, he said.

Air Energi has regional hubs in Houston, Doha, Singapore and Brisbane and a presence throughout most oil and gas producing countries around the world.  Read more »

As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.

Sunday nightCap

and the solution to this morning’s brain teaser is   Read more »

Why we need to get into more oil exploration

The Green Taliban and their enablers in the Labour and Green parties don’t want us exploring for oil.

The Herald highlights exactly that it is is that they are trying to prevent.

The US Energy Department says the nation’s energy picture is getting ever rosier. Production is rising, consumption is slowing, and prices are expected to remain in check.

According to the Energy Department’s annual outlook, domestic oil output may regain the peak it reached in 1970 over the next two years and petrol prices will fall over the same period to just over $US3 per gallon (NZ$3.60 for 3.8 litres).  Read more »

As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.

Calling out the Green taliban

Colin Espiner calls out the Green Taliban:

 I think the Green Party is, overall, a force for good in New Zealand politics and provided it sticks to its core environmental principles rather than social activism it’s likely to do very well again at the next election.

But every now and again the Green Party requires calling out. And its implacable opposition to exploratory drilling by Texan oil company Anadarko off the west coast of the North Island is one of these times.

The hyperbole and rhetoric spewed by the Greens and other assorted opponents of deep-sea drilling for oil and gas is out of all proportion to the risks involved in this venture, and has been driven far more by emotion than it has by logic or science.

It’s true that deep-sea oil drilling has risk. It’s true there have been accidents – most of them during the 1970s and 1980s, when the technology was still relatively primitive and safety and environmental standards lax by today’s measure.

The notable exception, of course, was Deepwater Horizon, which exploded and sank in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, killing 11 people and spilling more than 600,000 tonnes of oil into the sea.

A report into that disaster found a litany of safety breaches, poor decisions and cut corners, which sparked a wave of regulation- tightening at other deep-sea oil rigs around the world. Both the energy sector and governmental environment watchdogs agree the industry is far safer now than it was even three years ago.    Read more »

As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.

The transformation that oil brings

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The green taliban don’t want us to drill for oil in New Zealand, they want us to ignore the economic and skills benefits that such exploration and eventual production brings.

There is plenty of evidence of the benefits. Take a look at the North Sea and the success of Aberdeen, both far more inhospitable places to drill for and support oil exploration than anything w have in New Zealand.

Something very significant has happened to turn Aberdeen into a global centre of oil industry expertise. From what’s developed in the Granite City there are important lessons for other places blessed (and cursed) with abundant natural resources.

And even as onshore fracking for shale gas steals the headlines in Britain and the USA, it is worth considering what has taken place in Aberdeen over the past 40 years.

When I was a young newspaperman on the Daily Record in Glasgow in the early 1970s, the great off-shore oil rush was beginning in the North Sea. It then seemed a pretty impossible dream, turning an island of coal into a place with abundant oil and gas supplies.

It seemed to us on the west coast of Scotland that the harbour city of Aberdeen was getting a bit big for its fishing boots, starting to believe in a new fantasy industry.    Read more »

As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.

Lying in search of a sound bite

David Cunliffe has developed a habit of lying, or to be generous deliberately misconstruing facts.

His latest clanger is to annouce that there is  70% risk of an oil spill and that Labour has discovered secret documents that prove it. Both are lies.

Of course the Herald dutifully reported Cunliffe’s lies as though they are fact:

Labour claims the Government has kept secret the real risk of a major oil spill at Anadarko’s proposed Kaikoura drilling site.

Labour Leader David Cunliffe says documents obtained under the Official Information Act show Environment Minister Amy Adams had international research 13 months ago that shows there would be a 70 per cent probability of a `reportable incident’ at the 1500m-deep Kaikoura well within a year of it opening.

Reportable incidents covers fire, vessel collision, injury, death, or pollution, including oil spills.

They were seven times more likely at the depth proposed off Kaikoura – and Raglan where a similar operation is planned – than the 300m depths drilled to off Taranaki, Mr Cunliffe said.

Mr Cunliffe alleged Ms Adams went to “great lengths” to keep the information from the public, telling Parliament there was a “very low” risk of a large scale oil spill occurring.

“This is a deliberate attempt by a relevant minister to deny the public information which is absolutely crucial to a mature debate on this issue.

“To know it is seven times more likely to have a serious incident on a deep sea exploration drill than an inshore drill is a very important fact to know.

“The Government needs to be honest about the risks of deep sea oil drilling, especially when the Kaikoura community and the wider public hold serious reservation’s about Anadarko’s plans.”   Read more »

As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.