Monks Died For … Oil?

The Guardian reports on dropping oil production over the last two years and argues that the declines will accelerate from this point forward. That seems debatable, but the hysterical approach taken by the newspaper doesn’t lend it a lot of credibility. As a consequence of production declines, the Guardian warns of terrible unrest, but uses a strange example:

Global oil production is currently about 81m barrels a day – EWG expects that to fall to 39m by 2030. It also predicts significant falls in gas, coal and uranium production as those energy sources are used up.
Britain’s oil production peaked in 1999 and has already dropped by half to about 1.6 million barrels a day.
The report presents a bleak view of the future unless a radically different approach is adopted. It quotes the British energy economist David Fleming as saying: “Anticipated supply shortages could lead easily to disturbing scenes of mass unrest as witnessed in Burma this month. For government, industry and the wider public, just muddling through is not an option any more as this situation could spin out of control and turn into a complete meltdown of society.”
Mr Schindler comes to a similar conclusion. “The world is at the beginning of a structural change of its economic system. This change will be triggered by declining fossil fuel supplies and will influence almost all aspects of our daily life.”

The monks died by the hundreds because of a lack of oil production? Of course not. They oppose a tyrannical regime and died because they chose to peacefully protest the oppression of the military junta. The protests had nothing to do with oil production, and the Guardian and Fleming know it. It’s nothing more than scaremongering, something at which the Peak Oil advocates excel.
Many different issues can cause production declines other than a reduction in the resource. War can impact production, as can political instability. One major producer, Iran, has significant economic sanctions against it that impacts their production capacity. Another producer, Venezuela, has conducted a nationalization policy that has also reduced its overall production. Producers that form cartels such as OPEC artificially set production levels for economic purposes, which renders these declines as analytically unreliable for purposes of determining resource availability.
It also doesn’t account for the willful lack of production where known resources exist. That primarily applies to the US, where reserves exist on both coasts and in Alaska that we refuse to touch. We could deflate global oil prices and get more energy independence in the near- and mid-term simply by pumping our own crude. The US refuses to do so, however, for reasons of politics and not of potential supply.
Perhaps we need to adopt the same scaremongering as the Guardian. “No More Monks For Oil” makes a great slogan for opening up ANWR, doesn’t it? How about “Give Offshore-Oil Peace A Chance?” We could always fall back to “Domestic Power To The People!”

26 thoughts on “Monks Died For … Oil?”

  1. The fact that Burma has OIL (and American companies interested / invested in it) is just one of the reasons the Dhimmicrats will never send ‘peace’ troops into such a country.
    And don’t forget:
    Darfur has OIL. And the Sudan is a terrorism enabler / supporter. The Left has been telegraphing it’s ‘peace’ punch at them for several years now… if in the future they do take the White House and send US troops to Darfur under Leftist rules of engagement, watch for the well-planned slaughter to follow.

  2. I wonder how high gas prices will have to go before the public forces congress to reduce the regulations and restrictions on drilling and refining?
    This is frankly becoming insane.

  3. Ideological elites were using visions of an End of the World for millennia. Sometimes it led to sacrificing of virgins, sometimes to Central Planning. The visions always suggested more power to the visionaries to avert the disaster.

  4. Along the lines of Tom up there, I have been noting on about twelve different fronts, such as Globowarming and multi-culturalism, how much leftist thought, of which the Guardian is a standard-bearer, is quite simply a religious faith, one that has replaced monotheism but still satisfies the same needs of faith.
    The idea that economics is the heart of virtually ALL human behavior is inarguable. Forget it. It is with the round earth, there is simply no place in the faith to argue that point. End of discussion. That is why 9/11 was about the dispossessed rising up (you know, those poverty stricken Saudis matriculating in Germany) morphing to “it was all Bush oil-men to make money”, blah blah blah.
    Of COURSE Christ is divine, it’s ‘The 700 Club’ you are watching. Of COURSE what happens in Burma is all about economics and virutally nothing else, it’s the Guardian. Tout fini.

  5. Iran’s oil production has been declining for quite some time, the mullahs haven’t been spending money to do the necessary maintenance. I expect the same thing is happening to Venezuela.
    The sanctions we’ve been applying to Iran might be aggravating the issue, but their production would be in decline anyway, and “Peak Oil” has nothing to do with it.

  6. Ed:
    It is my understanding that the Chinese would not pressure the Burmese junta on this matter. The Chinese are building, or in the process of building a pipeline through Burma so they can avoid the Mallaca Straits.
    From this information one can make the deduction that the monks died for oil.
    I would suggest that the same deduction can be made concerning the problems in Darfur, where the Chinese have energy agreements with the Sudanese. The Chinese also resist any effort to rein in the Sudanese governments excesses.

  7. There’s no shortage of oil in the world if you’re willing to spend the extra money to extract it. And fresh water is as plentiful as ocean water if you’re willing to pay for the extraction. For water, or oil, if you need it enough, you buy it. If you can’t afford it, you find other ways. We maybe have an accounting crisis looming, but it’s not an oil crisis.

  8. “Ideological elites were using visions of an End of the World for millennia.”
    Most EndTimers subscribe to a religious belief in the end of the world.
    “I wonder how high gas prices will have to go before the public forces congress to reduce the regulations and restrictions on drilling and refining?”
    Doubtless it’ll happen eventually when the prices climb high enough. I think the US has been smart to hold back on extracting it’s reserves. This way there’s something to extract if things get dicey.
    I suspect there might be something to Peak Oil. But there are Peak Oil doomsayers who are overly intent on constructing an End of the World scenario. For example they assume that after Peak Oil that supply would dwindle by 10% a year a figure they arrive by handwaving. And they also ignore coal which the world still has plenty of and which can be used to create liquid fuel. Liquid fuel from coal isn’t even a new technology the Nazis used it during WW2.

  9. As the Capt points out well there has been for example almost a 60% reduction in output on the west african coast due to rebel activity and attacking oil platforms and capturing the workers.
    Iraq when stable and joined with international groups can nearly double or more it’s production when all the nearly wasted away equipment gets replaced.
    Pipelines out of the various Stans in east central Asia are an untapped source to be brought on line.
    Plenty of oil and gas just not a good way to get it to market.
    Mexico by going it alone is not keeping their equipment and tech up to date and output has peaked or will decline just due to neglect.
    Russia has massive reserves they are only starting to tap and throttle that for political leverage.

  10. Jose:
    The Club of Rome started the Peake Oil theory in the 70s. It didn’t pan out then and it will not pan out now. Why? because we increased fuel efficiency in vehicles and developed better technologies for using fuel.
    Additionally, Peake Oil never peaked because more fossil fuels were found and are more are being found every day. The extraction technology has also been improved to where oil can be extracted from old fields.
    As you indicate in you post, the real issue is what will it take for the government to persuade the American people that we have a National Energy Emergencey. An emergency which will not be resolved unless we develop our own proven resources.

  11. Also the story is total messed up in one aspect about nuclear power.
    It claims uranium resources are almost gone which is just plain hog wash.
    Even without mining another pound of uranium, right now under the Start missile and warhead reduction treaties, there is enough uranium in Russia and the US from decommissioned weapons and feedstock uranium to increase the number of nuclear power plants world wide by a factor of 200 or more and it would take hundreds of years to use all the material designated for peaceful reprocessing to fuel for power reactors. Also this world relieve the burden on coal, natural gas and oil just for electricity production purposes.

  12. The “Peak Oil” concept was started in the late 1800’s and it gets trotted out every 10-15 years like salem witches used to.
    Past estimates on when peak oil would occur
    Although the finiteness of the earth’s oil supply means that peak oil is inevitable, technological innovations in finding and drilling for oil have delayed the appearance of peak oil on several occasions. For example, the National Center for Policy Analysis states:
    In 1855, people could only access whatever oil happened to seep to the surface, and an advertisement for Kier’s Rock Oil stated, “Hurry, before this wonderful product is depleted from Nature‚Äôs laboratory.”
    In 1874, the state geologist of Pennsylvania, the United States’ leading oil-producing state, said that all the oil would be gone by 1878.
    In 1920, the U.S. Geological Survey stated that the world only had 60 billion barrels of oil left.
    In 1950, geologists estimated that the world had 600 billion barrels of oil.
    In 1970, scientists estimated that the world had 1,500 billion barrels of oil.
    In 1994, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated that the world had 2,400 billion barrels of oil.
    In 2000, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated that the world had 3,000 billion barrels of oil.
    Long before we run out of oil we will have discovered a new fuel source. That 11 year old brat next store in the garage is probably working on it right now!

  13. Speaking of Burma, I just read a story in the AP Odd News about some group based in Thailand that is protesting the Burmese regime’s repression by sending women’s panties to the local Myanmar embassy. Seems that the superstitious generals believe that contact with women’s underwear will make them lose their mojo. “Pantygram for the tyrant!” Heh-heh-heh.

  14. Sir, your stance is utterly bizarre. The only thing domestic drilling would accomplish would be to defer the reckoning, maybe by a few years, maybe by a decade or too. If we’re really “lucky,” it will defer the reckoning for our kids to deal with it.

  15. “Even without mining another pound of uranium […] there is enough uranium in Russia and the US from decommissioned weapons and feedstock uranium to increase the number of nuclear power plants world wide by a factor of 200 or more and it would take hundreds of years to use all the material designated for peaceful reprocessing to fuel for power reactors.”
    And if we would get out of our Breeder Reactor paranoia we could get dozens of times more energy out of each pound of fuel AND minimize the disposal problem. The problem is the isotopes that decay over hundreds or thousands of years. Things that decay faster don’t pose long-term problems; things that decay slower don’t produce the intense, hard-to-shield radiation. We can burn down those mid-life species and get energy out of them.

  16. The resistance amonst conservatives and libertarians to peak oil continues to surprise me.
    For one thing, the reality of peak oil cycle production isn’t disputed by any knowledgeable person – the only issue that’s disputed is WHEN it will occur, with optimists such as Exxon/Mobil and the USGS and the Saudi’s saying 2025-2050 and the pessimists saying 2005.
    For another, optimists ought to be reflecting on how muted-to-nonexistent the PRODUCTION response has been to a 100% increase in oil prices over the past 2 years – even excluding countries with “issues” such as Venezuela, Iraq and Nigeria.
    Last, consider that even the optimists like the IEA agree that normal depletion rates on existing reservoirs in the approx. 86 mbl/day of global capacity are running at 4% per year – so by 2012, we need to find additional production reserves of 16 mbl/day just to stay even. And no, opening up the US to unrestricted drilling won’t make much difference – ANWR, for example, is a 0.5-0.6 mbl/day project. Helpful at the margin, absolutely, but not enough to make a meaningful dent in the problem.
    When oil production peaks, and the evidence is pretty good that if it didn’t happen in 2006 then the peak isn’t far off, the lights won’t go off and everybody won’t freeze in the dark – but what will happen is that oil prices will go up far enough for the market to clear, and much higher oil prices will have surprisingly little impact on increasing production of oil. There is a real and compelling need for development of substitutes, quickly, and while nuclear is helpful there is at least 5 years between announcement of new brownfield plants and the beginning of electricity production. Faster please.

  17. There is a lot of oil off the west coast of Florida in the Gulf of Mexico. We can’t drill there because Florida is afraid some might wash up on a beach.
    There is oil in the Everglades. We can’t drill there, either. Florida developers don’t want to see oil rigs in their views.
    There are an estimated billion or so barrels of oil in ANWR. We can’t drill there because it might interrupt the caribou for a week or two, never mind that the drilling would have to be done in the winter, when the permafrost is solid, and the mosquitos will eat oil workers alive in the short summer.
    There are an estimated four trillion barrels of oil locked up in shale in the U.S., which can be economically extracted if oil is selling for more than $30 per barrel. Extraction process is already patented by one oil company.
    Peak oil, my sweet patootie.

  18. Anarchus,
    “For one thing, the reality of peak oil cycle production isn’t disputed by any knowledgeable person – the only issue that’s disputed is WHEN it will occur, with optimists such as Exxon/Mobil and the USGS and the Saudi’s saying 2025-2050 and the pessimists saying 2005.”
    Oh really. What a pile of rubbish. For a moment I thought you were talking about global warming. Nice dodge with “When”. Yes the sun is going to burn out also. Yikes!
    Peak oil has been a charade that has been trotted out for well over 150 years. The people that believe this quackery have no clue on how the free markets work. They are economic illiterates who champion hobgoblins for reasons I still don’t understand. They were wrong and so shall you be.
    I would suggest you read Julian Simon’s “It’s Getting Better All the Time” to put to rest your Malthusian fears. It’s bad enough we have Al Gore on the planet.
    Keep an eye on that brat I mentioned.

  19. My first job out of college was working on the Exxon/TOSCO Colony Shale oil project. That was a $10 billion+ white elephant (in 1981 $) that didn’t work for a variety of technical and economic reasons . . . . . . . the joke among petroleum engineers is that we thought in the 1920s if crude oil only went over $10 per barrel shale oil would be economic, then we thought if crude only went over $20 shale would be economic, etc etc. Back in 1980, crude was in the $30s and $40s and shale wasn’t economic, and today crude is $86.46 and shale still isn’t economic.
    Among other issues, getting the oil out of the shale requires a pyrolytic process with a massive amount of heat and then the shale pops like popcorn and you end up with a much larger volume of rock detritus than you started out with.
    Considering the harsh, ignorant tone of comments, though, I’ll leave my insights there and depart.

  20. I’m in the industry. We are producing more oil than we ever have, even though by peak oil predictions we ran out decades ago. The reason is the same reason that we are able to feed a population greater than that the “chicken-littles” knew would bring about world-wide starvation. The constant advance of technology. In my industry this allows us to find new sources of hydrocarbons and continue to produce known “dead” reservoirs.
    Minor quibbles with some of the above, $70-$90bbl in current dollars is the level necessary to make shale oil economic. We are there, and the majors are investing. Also, if they opened up ANWR and the coasts tomorrow, it would be 10-15 years before significant increased resources were flowing into the system. But thats okay, if NIMBY FLA doesn’t want US rigs off their coast, China will put them in Cuban waters a mile further out.

  21. Also, Anarchus, I appreciate that you had a “fresh-out” experience with a project that failed over 25 years ago. Lot’s of experiments fail, that’s how it works. Then you learn from the failure and design better experiments until you come up with a viable product.
    I’ve been in hydrocarbon development R&D for 23 years, so I don’t consider myself ignorant on the subject, but then, you’ve departed.

  22. Cowboy:
    Your comments is why the NIMBY’s and other rat bags attitude is so stupid. If the Mexicans and Cubans start drilling they will not only steal our oil, they will not worry as much about ecological disasters hitting the US coastline.

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