Jason Barton

Professional Information and Energy News

Archive for the ‘Petroleum’ tag

China, Oil Will Dominate Energy Matrix for Decades

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These are predictable, and not necessarily disappointing. Petroleum is an abundant (for now) and relatively inexpensive energy resource. China is also leading the charge in research and development of clean, renewable energy technologies.

Our best bets here in the U.S. are to increase our efforts in energy innovation so that we can maintain our current position as global leaders in such positive and economically advantageous efforts. Foremost among these objectives should be increasing our efficiency, especially in transportation. This will give us a competitive edge as we are less dependent on imported petroleum, improving our balance of trade as well as environmental health, and will ensure that petroleum is available for generations to come.

A final point on petroleum, as we saw this past summer, is that more and more of petroleum reserves are in places that are difficult to access safely. As we reduce our dependence, we allow time for further innovation, meaning the technologies to access those reserves are less expensive and more reliable.

Energy in 2035: China and oil dominate

By Aaron Smith, staff writerNovember 9, 2010: 8:05 AM ET

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — China will continue lead the charge as the No. 1 energy consumer over the next quarter-century, and oil will remain the dominant fuel despite huge investment in alternatives, according to a International Energy Agency report released Tuesday.

The agency forecasts that China’s demand will soar by 75% between 2008 and 2035, compared to an overall surge of 36% in international energy use. While Americans still lead the world in per capita energy use, China overtook the United States last year as the primary energy user.

Read the entire article here.

World,China Oil Demand To Slow;Plenty Of Capacity-IEA

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This is great news, unless it drives shortsightedness in investors and researchers who would otherwise drive innovation.

  • JULY 13, 2010, 4:54 A.M. ET

UPDATE:2011 World,China Oil Demand To Slow;Plenty Of Capacity-IEA

   By Spencer Swartz 

LONDON–The International Energy Agency said Tuesday it expects oil demand to slow next year in China and most other parts of the world, indicating that crude prices are likely to trade at subdued levels well into next year.

In its first assessment of 2011 global oil trends, the Paris-based agency forecast world oil demand to grow by 1.3 million barrels a day, or 1.6%. That increase rate is below the 2.1% rise in global crude consumption expected this year, although it is in line with 1.7% growth seen on average annually from 2000 to 2007.

Despite a higher rate of global economic growth projected next year, the IEA said the dual impact of improving energy efficiency in industrialized nations and a gradual phasing out of economic stimulus in emerging markets like China–the fastest-growing oil consumer globally–would slow the pace of oil consumption.


“Whisper it quietly, but we might, just might, be in for some market stability for a while longer,” the IEA said.


Consumers are still bent on maximizing energy efficiency in places like the U.S. and oil traders have lingering doubts about the health of Europe’s and America’s economic recovery and the knock-on effect in emerging markets.


There are some potential problems ahead. Non-OPEC oil supply is forecast to grow by just 400,000 barrels a day in 2011, half the growth rate expected this year and far below recent historical averages, due to aging oil fields.

Read the entire article here.

Energy Realities: The oil spill is my fault

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Well, this definitely isn’t getting any less interesting. Unfortunately, the energy situation in the U.S. is also not getting any clearer or easier to solve, even with pundits on all sides hurling dissatisfaction and vitriol at BP, Obama, Jimmy Carter, each other, seagulls, volunteers, parish presidents, and anyone else who happens to enter their field of vision.

This will not be easy. We will be using petroleum, coal, natural gas, and nuclear power for decades to come, and accidents like this will happen. Yes, there is much we can do to lessen our use and the related risks, and more we can do to mitigate the impact in the event they occur, but there is nothing, not a thing, to which anyone can point that will eliminate this risk, not even in the next 15 years. Maybe more.

We demand these resources. I demand them. And as long as we refuse to stop, we’re putting government or industry into the position of a parent, asking them to put out of reach the fix we know is there and that we very much want, even though we know it’s not good for us. Then we become petulant children when we get sick, and demand… What?

Some sort of methadone? There is no methadone, and every day we participate in and perpetuate a system, a habit, that has risks.

Once we face this reality, we can push past the questions for how we can end offshore oil drilling next week, and can put into proper, long term context the technologies for safer drilling, alternative fuels, vehicle fleets, and others that we’re now somehow hoping will materialize later this afternoon, after Keith Olbermann and Glen Beck, President Obama and Sarah Palin, Tony Hayward and Billy Nungesser have traded a few more punches.

When the topics of this oil spill or our energy use comes up in conversations with friends or colleagues, there’s often someone who insists technology is out there to clean up the spill or end our addiction to oil, but the powers that be either haven’t watched that particular show on the Discovery Channel, or those powers have some vested interest in letting these problems persist and keeping out competing solutions. Maybe I’m naive, but I just don’t see it.

I think part of the reason we insist on believing in these fairy tales, why we wait for our leaders–be they industry, government, or otherwise–to hand down our salvation is because it relieves us of any personal responsibility.

At the same time that I haven’t commuted to work or school since I was 17, riding my bike, walking, or taking the bus instead, I still put about 10,000 miles per year on my car and fly about that many miles as well.

The oil spill is my fault. I accept this reality and will continue to work towards greater independence from imported, nonrenewable sources of energy, focusing on all the healthy externalities derived from saving money on fuel and electricity, exercise and stress relief instead of frustration and smog in traffic, and all those silly pleasures so rarely discussed in the context of our current debacle.

The article below is one of dozens I’ve read in the last few weeks that criticizes Obama for his lack of a definitive response to the spill. Mr. Taranto, as usual, makes several excellent points. But like many on different sides of the debate, he foolishly uses the spill to decry a certain political ideology, as if any ideology has offered a concrete solution beyond the bland reality laid out in this post: It will take time; it will require sacrifice; it will require substantial investments from industry and government and citizenry to wean ourselves off fossil fuels and protect ourselves against the risks of dependence on nonrenewable, foreign sources for our energy.

Yes, we should formulate a comprehensive energy strategy, the one that has been promised by Republican and Democratic presidents for decades, that will work towards energy independence and bolster our economic and political security. And we should realize that this will require some sacrifices, sacrifices that will be better for us in the long run. And we will need to accept the reality that it will not eliminate the problems or drastically change our lives, our world, or our energy matrix, next week or even next year.

Maybe this is the leadership that government and industry have been providing. It’s not exciting. It doesn’t offer a quick solution. It’s just the reality. The oil spill is our fault.

JUNE 21, 2010

Keith Olbermann’s Wisdom

Obama, BP and the crisis of American liberalism.


“What has defined us as a nation since our founding is the capacity to shape our destiny–our determination to fight for the America we want for our children. Even if we’re unsure exactly what that looks like. Even if we don’t yet know precisely how we’re going to get there. We know we’ll get there.”–President Barack Obama, June 15, 2010

Or, as Harry Truman might have put it: There is as yet no consensus on where the buck stops. And so I’ve established a national commission to understand the buck’s velocity and the degree of kinetic friction between the buck and the surface across which it is traveling. Even if we don’t know precisely where the buck is going to stop, we know it’ll get there.

On the Democratic left, Obama’s oil-spill speech last week has escalated what the mainstream media would call a civil war if it were being waged on the Republican right instead.

Read the entire article here.

The Offshore Paradox

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The article below contradicts the point I made yesterday, where I contended that the oil spill in the Gulf would not likely cause much change to future oil drilling. I did say that regulations would likely increase to ensure greater safety, but that in this tenuous economy Congress would be unlikely to make significant changes that could greatly hinder securing domestic energy resources.

The article below, as well as a comment received on my post yesterday, argue the contrary, pointing out how Three Mile Island largely derailed the growth of the nuclear industry in the U.S.

While I do not feel the panicked rush that many exhibit towards overhauling our current energy matrix, I do believe it is important to continue laying the groundwork towards more renewable sources of energy. We should continue implementing technologies for bioenergy, solar, wind, and geothermal provided they are competitively cost effective and energetically efficient. Most important and cost effective, of course, is energy efficiency.

No one should rejoice in an oil spill or any other disaster as positive. To do so would be grossly inappropriate and exploitative. That said, if the current mess in the Gulf can motivate us towards a cleaner, more responsible energy matrix, it is making something positive out of what is otherwise entirely negative.

June 04, 2010

Ken Silverstein, EnergyBiz Insider

Just as offshore natural gas drilling got its legs, the rug has been pulled out from underneath it. The mammoth oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is to blame.

The question of whether to allow more production in light of the BP oil disaster is one that is likely to haunt the oil and gas sectors for a long time. It’s tantamount to how the accident at Three Mile Island has derailed nuclear development for three decades. For now, the Obama administration has pulled back on its earlier commitment to allow more offshore drilling and instead has decided to “study” the issue.

Read the entire article here.

Shell CEO: Policy Impact Of Gulf Spill Yet To Be Seen

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It’s interesting to watch this debate unfold. Yes, I prefer to focus on the debate, rather than the potentially devastating ecological impacts of the spill itself. There’s enough bad news in the world.

When we see a car accident we don’t generally have the reaction that we shouldn’t drive cars anymore. We usually don’t even say we should drive less. If the driver wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, or had been drinking or driving recklessly, we’ll be reminded that those behaviors are irresponsible and we can learn from that.

Similarly, with literally thousands of off-shore oil rigs in operation, few of them creating significant ecological problems, hopefully we can focus the debate on these extremely deep water wells, and can ensure that the technology is in place to avoid spills like this in the future. If that technology isn’t available, then these deep water rigs are not worth the risks they pose.

MAY 4, 2010, 6:53 A.M. ET

   By Max Lin

SINGAPORE (Dow Jones)–The recent massive oil spill following an explosion that destroyed a deepwater oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico represents a pivotal moment for the entire oil industry, but it is too early to say whether it will have any impact on future U.S. policy, Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSB.LN) Chief Executive Peter Voser said Tuesday

Read the entire article here.

Written by Jason

May 4th, 2010 at 6:12 am

Bill Maher and George Will spar over oil and Brazil

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“Brazil got off oil in the last 30 years.”

Bill Maher on Sunday, May 2nd, 2010 in an interview on ABC News’ ‘This Week’

Maher was probably thinking about Brazil’s 2005 declaration if energy independence. This independence was created in part by sugarcane ethanol and hydroelectric, but also because of large domestic reserves of oil and natural gas.

The graph below shows Brazil’s use of ethanol and gasoline in tons of petroleum equivalent.

Source: Brazilian Ministry of Mines and Energy (https://www.ben.epe.gov.br/BENSeriesCompletas.aspx)

A potential ecological disaster in the Gulf of Mexico led to a spirited debate on U.S. energy policy on ABC News’ This Week.

Liberal commentator Bill Maher lamented the fact that both major political parties, including President Barack Obama, have supported offshore oil drilling in recent years instead of being more aggressive about renewable energy.

Read the entire article here.

Written by Jason

May 3rd, 2010 at 4:51 pm

Oil policy in Brazil: Raining on Rio’s parade

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Why The Economist would choose this picture for this article is beyond me. It’s definitely not relevant, and between the picture and the quote from President Lula chosen to end the first paragraph, it isn’t an accurate or flattering depiction of Brazilians.

As for the rest of the content of the article, it seems a bit premature, and a matter best settled by Brazilians. Petrobras estimates it will take as much as 7 more years before they begin to see any revenues from the extremely difficult to reach oil, during which time this decision will certainly be revisited.

The Americas

Oil policy in Brazil

Raining on Rio’s parade

An Olympic city faces a sudden loss of oil revenue

Apr 8th 2010 | RIO DE JANEIRO | From The Economist print edition

 Bug-eyed at the prospect of losing their oil fix

THEIR new-found hoard of oil still lies 7,000 metres (23,000 feet) beneath the Atlantic Ocean, but the signs are that it has already gone to Brazilian officialdom’s head. No sooner had Petrobras, the national oil company, announced the discovery of a gigantic cache of crude oil buried beneath a thick layer of salt below the ocean floor than every vested interest in the country had a plan to spend the windfall. Brazil’s 27 governors and its 5,600 mayors are all looking to garnish their budgets. Civic groups want their cut of royalties to fight poverty, scientists to fight climate change and students to improve education. “Pre-salt oil is like a pretty woman on a dance floor full of men,” Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Brazil’s president, put it bluntly. “Everybody wants a go.”

Read the entire article here.

Written by Jason

April 9th, 2010 at 3:11 pm

President Obama’s energy strategy

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Friday, April 2, 2010

President Obama’s plan to expand coastal drilling could upend a decades-old standoff on the topic – and even lead to a wholly new energy outlook. It’s a nervy strategy that’s unsettled nearly everyone with a seat at the bargaining table.

His hopscotch exploration map safeguards stretches of the nation’s coastline including California while allowing oil rigs into other blue-water spots. By itself, it’s a compromise that annoys all sides and pleases no one.

But Obama is looking ahead from this hot-button issue to a bigger one. He wants to trade more drilling rigs for votes from wavering senators on looming energy and climate change legislation. From Florida to Alaska, the drilling maps try to please the nearest senator.


Both critics and supporters of his drilling plan have underlined the central irony. In order to garner more support for green energy, reduced dependence on fossil fuels and greenhouse gas reductions, the president will allow more drilling. He’s playing a short-term game for a long-term goal.


The best-guess predictions are that the expanded areas won’t make a major difference in oil supply. This country uses 20 percent of the world’s supply but has only two percent of the resources. Over half the oil this country uses is imported. The U.S. can’t drill enough to get anywhere close to energy self-sufficiency, Obama said.

Read the entire article here.

Written by Jason

April 3rd, 2010 at 10:06 am

Why Ford Wants Microsoft to Manage the Electric Vehicle Influx

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If there is a significant move to electric vehicles, and most of us come home from work and plug in our vehicles at the same time, there’s going to be an even bigger glut that we already have, and we already have a big glut. To those who deny the possibility, I’ll point to a recent conversation with a VP of BP (formerly British Petroleum) who said that in 50 years, the only use for oil will be for aviation. (Well, first he said that “we will never run out of oil.” When pressed about the meaning of “never,” he said not in his lifetime, and probably not in his kids’ lifetime. He was about 60, maybe 55. Clearly he’s not a geologist.)

The point is not to argue timescales or the finite nature of petroleum, but to point out that even the higher ups in the petroleum industry are thinking that plug-in vehicles are the wave of the future.

If these people within the petroleum industry and the folks discussed in the article below are correct, then the technology discussed in this article will be of the utmost importance to ensure a smooth transition to the infrastructure required for such a system.


Apr. 1, 2010, 12:00am PDT

Ford and Microsoft’s announcement on Wednesday that they’ll use Microsoft’s Hohm tool to minimize energy costs for drivers of Ford’s electric vehicles — and help limit strain on the power grid for utilities — represents a big step in the development of a “smart charging” ecosystem. But Microsoft and Ford both say Hohm, and other tools like it, need to — and will eventually — offer much more than this initial step.


Thousands of companies — many of them startups — are working on hardware and software for charging plug-in vehicles, Gioia said at the time, adding “We have not come even close to a funnel.” With an open architecture, the idea with Hohm is to keep the doors open for awhile longer.

Read the entire article here.

Obama to Propose More Oil Drilling in Gulf

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Interesting. After that polarizing healthcare debate, it looks like Obama is trying to mend some bridges with a more pragmatic approach. A more liberal source, however, claims that he’s actually alienating both ends of the spectrum with this effort. We’ll see what happens.

Obama to Propose More Oil Drilling in Gulf

MARCH 30, 2010


WASHINGTON—The Obama administration will propose allowing offshore oil and natural-gas exploration and development in a large swath of the eastern Gulf of Mexico, after months of criticism from Republicans who have made expanded offshore drilling a political rallying cry.


In addition, the administration plans to announce new steps to determine how much oil and natural gas is buried off the coasts of Middle and Southern Atlantic states, where oil-reserve estimates are decades out of date.


At the same time, Mr. Obama’s plan wouldn’t allow new oil and gas development off the coasts of Northern Atlantic states or California, whose political leaders have long opposed offshore drilling. The administration will call off a plan drafted by the administration of former President George W. Bush that would have given oil companies access to Alaska’s Bristol Bay, an area teeming with wild sockeye salmon and many commercial fishing interests concerned about the impact of drilling on their livelihoods.


The idea of expanding offshore drilling is taking on increased importance in the broader debate over climate and energy legislation.


Mr. Obama is unveiling his plan at a delicate time for oil and gas companies. Shut out of resource-rich parts of the world like the Middle East and Russia, many oil majors increasingly view the deep waters off the southern U.S. as a key source of exploration success and production growth. Exploration in the Gulf of Mexico is expensive, compared with other basins, but high production rates and proximity to U.S. markets have made drilling there cost-effective.

Read the entire article here.

Written by Jason

April 1st, 2010 at 10:02 am