No one knows how much is left, but humankind can't wait any longer before coming up with alternatives. And next in the queue? Who knows? All I can say is that George Bush himself does not appear to share the US Geological Survey's optimism. "In terms of world supply," he said in March, "I think if you look at all the statistics, demand is outracing supply, and supplies are getting tight." What has he seen that we haven't?
Are global oil supplies about to peak? Are they, in other words, about to reach their maximum and then go into decline? There is a simple answer to this question: no one has the faintest idea.
Consider these two statements: 1. "Last year Saudi Aramco made credible claims that as much as 500bn-700bn barrels remain to be discovered in the kingdom." 2. "Saudi Arabia clearly seems to be nearing or at its peak output and cannot materially grow its oil production."
The first comes from a report by Energy Intelligence, a consultancy used by the major oil companies. The second comes from a book by Matthew Simmons, an energy investor who advises the Bush administration. Whom should we believe? I have now read 4,000 pages of reports on global oil supply, and I know less about it than I did before I started. The only firm conclusion I have reached is that the people sitting on the world's reserves are liars.
In 1985 Kuwait announced that it possessed 50% more oil than it had previously declared. Had it just discovered a new field? Had it developed a new technology that could extract more oil from the old fields? No. Opec, the price-fixing cartel to which it belongs, had decided to allocate production quotas to its members based on the size of their reserves. The bigger your stated reserve, the more you were allowed to produce. The other states soon followed Kuwait, adding a total of 300bn barrels to their reserves: enough, if it existed, to supply the world for 10 years. And their magic oil never runs out. Though extraction has long outstripped discovery, Kuwait posts the same reserves today as it claimed in 1985.
So we turn to the US Geological Survey for an answer, and find that its estimates of global oil supply are as reliable as the Pentagon's assessments of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. In 1981 it said we possessed 1,719bn barrels of oil. In 2000, 2,659. Yet the discovery of major oilfields peaked in 1964. Where has it come from?
It is true to say that oil reserves are not fixed. As technology improves or the price increases, oil that was formerly too expensive to extract becomes available. But the oil geologist Jean Laherrere points out that the survey's estimate "implies a five-fold increase in discovery rate and reserve addition, for which no evidence is presented. Such an improvement in performance is in fact utterly implausible, given the great technological achievements of the industry over the past 20 years, the worldwide search, and the deliberate effort to find the largest remaining prospects."
The current high oil prices are the result of a shortage of refineries - exacerbated by the hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico - rather than a global shortage of crude. But behind that problem lurks another. Last week Chris Vernon of the organisation PowerSwitch published figures showing that while total global oil production has risen since 2000, the production of light sweet crude - the kind that is easiest to refine into motor fuels - has fallen, by 2m barrels a day. This grade, he claims, has already peaked. The refinery crisis results partly from this constraint: there aren't enough plants capable of processing the heavier grades.
And next in the queue? Who knows? All I can say is that George Bush himself does not appear to share the US Geological Survey's optimism. "In terms of world supply," he said in March, "I think if you look at all the statistics, demand is outracing supply, and supplies are getting tight." What has he seen that we haven't?
If the figures have been fudged, we're stuffed. That might sound extreme, but it is not my conclusion. It is that of the consultants hired by the US department of energy. In February this year the department released a report called Peaking of World Oil Production: Impacts, Mitigation and Risk Management. I say "released", for it was never properly published. For several months the only publicly available copy was lodged on the website of the Hilltop high school in Chula Vista, California.
The department's consultants, led by the energy analyst Robert L Hirsch, concluded that "without timely mitigation, the economic, social and political costs will be unprecedented". It is possible to reduce demand and to start developing alternatives, but this would take "10-20 years" and "trillions of dollars". "Waiting until world oil production peaks before taking crash programme action leaves the world with a significant liquid fuel deficit for more than two decades", which would cause problems "unlike any yet faced by modern industrial society".
Of course, we have been here before. Oil analysts and environmentalists have warned of disappearing reserves ever since drilling began, and they have always been proved wrong. According to people such as the Danish statistician Bjorn Lomborg, this is because the industry is self-regulating. "High real prices deter consumption and encourage the development of other sources of oil and non-oil energy supplies," he says. "Since searching costs money, new searches will not be initiated too far in advance of production. Consequently, new oilfields will be continuously added as demand rises É we will stop using oil when other energy technologies provide superior benefits."
It is beginning to look as if he is wrong on all counts. As the Economist magazine pointed out on September 10, "demand for petrol is pretty inelastic in the short term", because people still have to go to work, however much it costs. According to the analyst it cites, "it would take a doubling of petrol prices to reduce American petrol consumption by just 5%".
Lomborg's idea that companies can just go out and find new oil when demand rises suggests that he believes geology is as malleable as statistics. One day - or so we should hope - a superior technology will certainly emerge, but cheap alternatives to liquid fuels are currently decades away. Yes, the pessimists have been crying wolf for almost a century. But better that, perhaps, than crying "sheep" when the wolves appear.
The Hirsch report has no truck with those who believe in the magic of the markets. "High prices do not a priori lead to greater production. Geology is ultimately the limiting factor." There are plenty of oil shales, tar sands and coal seams available for turning into liquid fuels, but it would take years and a massive investment before enough came online. Hirsch compares the projections of the oil optimists to those of the gas optimists in the late 1990s, who promised "growing supply at reasonable prices for the foreseeable future" in the US and Canada. Today the same people are bemoaning the deficit. "The North American natural gas market is set for the longest period of sustained high prices in its history, even adjusting for inflation... Gas production in the United States (excluding Alaska) now appears to be in permanent decline."
"The bottom line," Hirsch says, "is that no one knows with certainty when world oil production will reach a peak, but geologists have no doubt that it will happen." Our hopes of a soft landing rest on just two propositions: that the oil producers' figures are correct, and that governments act before they have to. I hope that reassures you.
Ed: To me the most likely answer is pretty simple.
There is currently a shortage of refining capacity and record prices - yet no new refineries are being built. Why is this?
The only explanation I can think of is because refiners do not think that they can recover the capital needed to build new refineries capable of processing heavy crude - which strongly suggests that soon new refineries will not be needed because there will be insufficient crude for them to refine.
The people who build refineries are the same people who are saying that supplied are plentiful.
Clearly, they're not prepared to put their money where their mouths are.
Cindy Sheehan Arrested Outside the WhiteHouse USA: Cindy Sheehan - the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq who set up camp outside George Bush's ranch recently - was amongst dozens arrested today outside the Whitehouse. Read her inspirational statement or non-violent action.
Eye's on the prize Georgie Ann Geyer, who may be America's most perceptive international affairs columnist, wrote in the Saturday, September 17 Washington Times about a recent Washington conference concerning the mess in the Middle East. That could, of course, have been a conference topic back as far as the First Triumvirate, when an earlier Crassus lost his head in the Land Between the Rivers. We can only hope we are not as close to the loss of the republic itself as Rome was by that time.
Bush, Howard, Blair, Axis of Evil From bad to worse is the new sub-text slogan for Bush and his administration. Appearing on US media, flanked by Cheney, Rumsfeld and numerous other (wooden) neo-cons, Bush repeated his rehearsed lines - "we are problem solvers".
A Confused Morality The immorality of US presidential advisor Karl Rove can not compare in magnitude to the immorality of the US wars of aggression against Iraq and Afghanistan. The Nuremberg trials set a precedent which should be applicable here.
US-inflicted carnage on Iraqi people The Dossier of Civilian Casualties 2003-2005, published this month by the organisation Iraq Body Count (IBC), is the most detailed assessment to date of how the illegal US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq have caused the death and injury of tens of thousands of civilians.
CCTV for illegal and degrading war Prime loser john hoWARd says he is impressed with how effective closed circuit television cameras have been in identifying suspects in the London bombings.
Resistance in Iraq legitimate: Sadr Moqtada Sadr says he will not take part in Iraq's political process while the US remains. Resistance to foreign troops in Iraq is "legitimate", Shiite leader Mr Moqtada Sadr said.
Don't Blame Bush Maybe you think that it's all just a bad dream. In a few years there will be a new President of the United States and everything will be different then. Everything will be back to normal. The bad news is, you are awake. The really bad news is, it isn't Bush.
Suicide bombers may target PM: UK AUSTRALIA: UK bombers are warning fascist war criminals like john HoWARd that they could become victims to suicide bombers if they continue to pre-emptively kill, maim and torture innocent indigenous people in sovereign nation states like Iraq and Afghanistan.
Galloway breaks consensus over London bombings He said: "The purpose of terrorism is not only to kill and maim the innocent. It is to put despair and anger and hatred in people's hearts. [Also as a call to arms for the British people to try to legitimise the occupation's of Iraq and Afghanistan and to continue with their resource wars in the Middle East.]
London terror bombings: a political crime! Once again, the world is witnessing horrific scenes of death, injury and suffering sustained by people who bear no responsibility for the crimes committed by their governments.
Galloway: Cry for social change Then there came a time when the colonies said, "We want to become independent and free." Now we are returning to the colonies we were driven out of. The most significant of these is Iraq.
Zarqawi: Everywhere and nowhere AMMAN, Jordan - A remarkable proportion of the violence taking place in Iraq is regularly credited to the Jordanian Ahmad al-Khalayleh, better known as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and his al-Qaeda-linked organization in Iraq.
US confirms civilian deaths in Afghan air strike! American-led forces have mistakenly killed scores of Afghan civilians since engineering the fall of the Taliban regime in late 2001, including 48 who died when a wedding party came under attack three years ago.
Labor, 'Showroom Dummies' Labor does not oppose illegal and degrading wars? Nor do they stand up for renditioned and tortured citizens, welfare rights, people held in detention for years on end? Or anything else that matters to the marginalised voters who have to rely on the minor parties time and time again for some support.
Australia: Lib/Lab Cult Squad AUSTRALIA: WHEN pastor peter costello delivered a speech in July last year from the pulpit of the hillsong church, an 18,000-strong cult, based in Sydney's northwestern suburbs, most people wrote them off, all accept those neo-liberals who were seeking the gargoyle vote.
Back to kill the innocent THE fascist Federal government will send Australian militants and guerrillas to war on Afghanistan, two years after they were last deployed there in the mountains full of indigenous people.
Howard off to US, UK - part 5 PART-5- PRIME minister john hoWARd will meet US president george w buSHIT, British prime minister tony blair and queen 'imperialism' herself during a 10-day visit to the United States and the UK next month.
Searching for resistance in Afghanistan Tribal leaders listen in a meeting in Miana Shien, Kandahar province, southern Afghanistan, on Saturday in an attempt to end the fighting that has killed more than 175 freedom fighters since Tuesday.
Battlelines drawn on Security Council THE US has outlined its first detailed position on UN Security Council reform, proposing a limited expansion of the permanent membership by two nations - one of them Japan - and foreshadowing a major statement next week on specific criteria to be met by candidate countries.
Bush's demon-aid tactic strikes again Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is the George W Bushit's mastermind demon to help bolster support to continue to wage the US-led Illegal and degrading war on Iraq. Another report that senior aide to Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (a George Bushit demon) used time and time again, as an excuse to wage war in Iraq has allegedly been captured.
Zarqawi tape 'magic': ABRACADABRA An [alleged] audio recording in which Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, alleged Al Qaeda's leader [scapegoat and patsy in the resource wars who must have bled to death in Iraq by now], 'already', denies reports that he has been seriously wounded, and that's magic, says Mr Houdini, a magician.
Lying and bullshitting the same thing Australia: The Un-Australian Newspaper: "AS well as all the bullshit in politics, there's even more in our metaphoric and colloquial language. Bullshit is the subject of serious philosophical inquiry in a little book called On Bullshit, published by the 'highly respected' Princeton University Press. To the surprise and delight of the author, it's stampeding out of bookshops all over the world."
Is this our most dangerous Newspaper? The Daily Terrorist should be managed with manacles and flown into Siberia via a jumbo jet tomorrow amid fears government fascists may attempt to use them again on someone else.
IRAQ: Washington gives up on Iraqi security forces? According to a United Press International report published the next day, General John Abizaid, who directs all US military forces in the Middle East, described the progress in developing Iraqi forces to fight the anti-occupation resistance as "disappointing".
UN Dialogue among Civilizations This roundtable is a contribution to the UN Dialogue among Civilizations project that began in September 2000. At the first round table debate on Dialogue among Civilizations, Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the UN stated that, cultural diversity - in his opinion - is not only the basis for the Dialogue among Civilizations, but also the reality that makes dialogue necessary, since the perception of diversity as a threat is the very seed of war. [The role of religion in creating a culture of peace and moving on from a culture of fear.]
BUSH ON TRIAL Tuesday May 17, 2005, Brussels - Today, representatives of the World Tribunal on Iraq (WTI) delivered a law summon and invitation letter addressed to President Bush at the US Embassy in Brussels.
Iraqi police vent anger at US after car bombings Iraqi police hurled insults at US soldiers after two suicide car bomb blasts in Baghdad killed at least seven people and left 19 wounded, including policemen. "It's all because you're here," a policeman shouted in Arabic at a group of US soldiers after the latest in a bloody wave of attacks that have rocked Baghdad this month. "Get out of our country and there will be no more explosions," he told the uncomprehending Americans staring at the smouldering wreck of a car bomb.
300,000 Iraqis protest occupation and genocide BAGHDAD, Iraq - Chanting "Death to America" and burning effigies of President Bush and Saddam Hussein, tens of thousands of Iraqis flooded central Baghdad on Saturday in what police called the largest anti-American protest since the fall of Baghdad, the capital, exactly two years ago.
Annan calls for human rights agency revamp! The commission has been harshly criticised recently by human rights groups claiming it has become less of a body for upholding human rights, and more of a haven for violators.
Attacks kill 21 two years after Iraq invasion IRAQ: At least 21 people were killed on Sunday in attacks mainly targeting US/Iraqi security forces on the two-year anniversary of the US-led illegal and degrading war on of Iraq.
Returning veterans of Iraq/Afghanistan In the last two years, nearly one million U.S. service-members have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Regardless of how you may feel about the war, most of us agree that those service-members deserve the best possible care and treatment our country can provide.
The Veil of Freedom BAGHDAD, Iraq - Two years after the invasion of Iraq and just weeks before the country's first free election, [occupation, US puppet gov't] "Amina" began wearing a headscarf for the first time in her life. Her father insisted upon it.
Iraqi women eye Islamic law BAGHDAD - Covered in layers of flowing black fabric that extend to the tips of her gloved hands, Jenan al-Ubaedy knows her first priority as one of some 90 women who will sit in the national assembly: implementing Islamic law.
IRAQ: Shiite and Sunnis to unite against occupation? Iraq: "I call on all religious and political powers that pushed towards the elections and took part in them to issue an official statement calling for a timetable for the withdrawal of the occupation forces from Iraq", Moqtada al Sadr, the popular young Iraqi Shiite cleric who last year led an armed rebellion against the US-led occupation, declared on February 4.
Democracy, Iraqi style "In a darkened hall, candidates for Iraq's main Shia party sit listening to a turbaned cleric speaking into a microphone. They are being told how to campaign for the election without getting killed.
Violence continues ahead of Iraq Shoe Sale Pre-Shoe Sale violence in Iraq is showing no signs of abating with the deaths today of two American militants following on from yesterday's killing of 22 US/Iraqi militants.
Rumsfeld's war, torture and occupation ideology! War criminal Donald Rumsfeld faced critical questioning at a Washington media conference, after the announcement that it was a suicide bomber who caused the blast inside a US military base in Mosul yesterday, killing 22 people including 14 illegal militants.
Annan admits to a tough year United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan admits he has had his worst year at the United Nations and he is looking forward to it being over.
Iraq sale to be contested by 100 buyers A hundred buyers, blocs and independents will contest Iraq's first shoe sale, in decades, on January 30, the George Dubya Bushit - Iraqi Sales Commission (GDB/ISC) said.
Fallujah refugees in desperate need of aid: UN More than 200,000 people who fled Fallujah ahead of the US attack have yet to return and many are in desperate need of aid, with temperatures in Iraq heading towards freezing, a new UN emergency report says.
World Vision Aust pulls out of Iraq The organisation says the country has simply become too dangerous and its decision to leave was made before the apparent murder of Care Australia's Iraq director Margaret Hassan.
Civilian death toll to rise in Fallujah The attack on the Iraqi city of Fallujah has taken its toll on Iraqi civilians no doubt including children and young babies. Iraqi's have witnessed civilian casualties. Yesterday during the assault on the main hospital nurses and patients were blindfolded after the US/Iraq militia stormed the main hospital and took control.
Illusionary demons blamed for US led Attack Iraq, Fallujah In the name of an illusionary figure thought up by US militants suggests that Al Qaeda's? ally "Abu Musab al-Zarqawi" has called on Muslims to take up arms against their US enemy as American militia attacked the Iraqi city of Fallujah? Just a coincidence or just good timing?
Full-scale attack on Fallujah begins Correspondents say radio traffic heard at a US militant's staging post just outside Fallujah indicates US/Iraqi militia have moved at least four blocks into Fallujah, and are still advancing.
US/Iraqi militants storm Fallujah hospital United States troops and US/Iraqi militia have seized the main hospital in the Iraqi city of Fallujah without a fight, according to a pool reporter travelling [in-bed] with the troops. Those in hospital beds did not resist they were too sick and the doctor kept on operating regardless.
US warplanes and artillery attack Fallujah! Journalists [in-bed] with the US military say warplanes fired at suspected resistance targets around Fallujah as night fell on Sunday, while artillery shells pounded a nearby town.
State of emergency: Allawi 'killer of saints' The US puppet, Iyad Allawi otherwise known as "Sock" killer of saints has declared a state of emergency for 60 days to quell violent resistance gripping the country ahead of January's shoe sale.
US Empire Votes For Pre-Emptive War!!! United States President George Dubya Bushit has been re-elected, winning four more years to press his war on liberty after a bitter campaign against Democrat John Kerry that focused on the US empire's role as - imperialists - initiating pre-emptive war - on the sovereign nation of Iraq - without the United Nations approval and in direct contravention of International law.
Saddam's family dismiss lawyer The family of deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has dismissed the head of his defence team. Other team members had accused the lawyer, Mohammad Rashdan, of acting without consulting them.
Iraqi civilian deaths put at 100,000 Tens of thousands of Iraqis have been killed in violence since the US-led invasion last year, according to public health experts who estimate there were 100,000 "excess deaths" in 18 months.
Bushite group threatens civil liberties in Iraq Allegedly a group led by George W Bushite has forced freedom fighters to threaten to behead a Japanese hostage it said worked with Japanese forces in Iraq if Tokyo does not withdraw its forces from the country within 48 hours.
Weapons inspectors missed WMD in Iraq An Iraqi minister has said United Nations nuclear inspectors are welcome to return in response to concerns of an "apparent systematic dismantlement" of Saddam Hussein's once-vigorous nuclear program.
US accused of breaching international law The United States is violating international law by holding prisoners in its war on terror incommunicado and in secret hiding places, Human Rights Watch said in a report to be published on Tuesday calling for an end to such practices.
Allies 'planned' Iraq war despite denials The United States, Australia and Britain started to plan the invasion of Iraq months before the conflict, according to a report Wednesday quoting a leaked Pentagon document.
UN warns of Iraqi malnutrition One in four Iraqis are dependent on food rations to survive and many of them have to sell what little food they have for basic necessities like medicine and clothes, the UN World Food Program (WFP) said.
Jordan's king doubts Iraqi elections possible Iraq is far too unsafe to hold elections as scheduled in January and extremists would do well in the poll if Baghdad tried to hold it, Jordan's King Abdullah said in an interview. Excluding troubled areas from the nationwide poll would only isolate Iraq's Sunnis and create deeper divisions in the country, he said.
Annan tells world leaders to respect law United Nations (UN) secretary-general Kofi Annan has made an impassioned plea to bring about the rule of law across the globe today. Mr Annan told world leaders to respect international law at home and abroad.
CO-OFFENDERS DO NOT REBUFF UN ON 'ILLEGAL WAR' The 'coalition of the killing's' complicities - the US, Britain and Australia - have insisted that their countries' military action in Iraq was legal after they have committed war crimes against humanity.
Iraq war illegal, says Annan United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan says the United States decision to invade Iraq in March 2003 was "illegal". Australia was a key supporter of the war on Iraq and sent troops to join the United States-led invasion last year.
Bush team 'knew of abuse' at Guantanamo Evidence of prisoner abuse and possible war crimes at Guantanamo Bay reached the highest levels of the Bush administration as early as autumn 2002, but Donald Rumsfeld, the defence secretary, chose to do nothing about it, according to a new investigation.
Ancient Babylon ruined by foreign troops: Iraqi minister Iraq: Foreign forces in Iraq have caused severe damage to the site of ancient Babylon, one of the world's most renowned archaeological treasures, and need to leave the area as soon as possible, Iraq's Culture Minister Mofeed al-Jazaeri said.
Whatcha Gonna Do, When They Come For You? Bad boy! Former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was a threat and sought to possess weapons of mass destruction, United States President George W Bush reaffirmed when asked why no such weapons had been discovered in Iraq.
Saddam trial US propaganda Saddam Hussein's trial will play an important part in the US election no doubt and for that to work at its potential just put a "women" behind it "She called the trials". Then add some "cleansing" like she's just doing the dishes and then some "reconciliation" by slaying Hussein during a US election. Now you can go and tell everyone you're reversing the trauma but really you're killing two birds with one Saddam.
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