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Peak Oil, or self renewing oil supplies

qaranta
post Feb 19 2007, 10:51 AM
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I have been trying to address the 'why? question in other forums. Rather than re-write what I've already written, I'll post my original comment here in its unedited form. Please also bear in mind that this post originally appeared mid-way through a lengthy (and still ongoing) discussion, so some of the content may appear somewhat out of context when read on its own.

QUOTE
My last post on this topic (for now) deals with the question of why. What would compel the American government to consider having some involvement in the planning and execution of the events that unfolded on September 11th, 2001?

To answer this, I’m going to do an ethical about-face. The truth is, they really didn’t have a choice. I would go so far as to argue that if any of us had the responsibilities the US think tanks and policy-makers of the day had back in the late 1990’s, we would make the same incredibly painful choices they made.

Anyone who has held an executive position within a plc will tell you that there is no room whatsoever for sentimentality where employees are concerned. Their responsibility is first and foremost to the company’s shareholders. In some plc’s, the one I work for currently being a good example, acquisitions and mergers happen regularly and result in frequent RIFs (reduction in force). People’s livelihoods are threatened in order to deliver economic efficiencies throughout the newly structured business and ultimately deliver improved shareholder value. Executives themselves are often the casualties of the deals they make in order to protect the best interest of the company. Similarly, though to a much greater extent, when a politician accepts the responsibility of representing the best interests of his or her country, absolutely nothing can be allowed to stand in their way. And rightly so.

At the turn of the 21st century, America faced two key challenges. 9/11 and the resulting War Against Terror enabled them to address one of those challenges and better position them where the other was concerned.

The first challenge, and simplest to get to grips with, was the US economy. It was slow and low. The wars changed that. Billions of dollars flowed from US citizens into corporate America as it re-armed itself and reconstructed the mess it had created in Iraq. Today the Dow is performing well.

The other is oil. Most people are aware of this ‘reason’ without necessarily appreciating the just how crucial this resource is to a country like America and, perhaps more importantly, understanding just how difficult it would have been to maintain a supply without military intervention in the Middle East.

The problem with oil, from a global perspective, is that its availability and production follows a bell curve over time. There are no availability issues on the up-slope – it’s both plentiful and relatively inexpensive to acquire. The converse is true on the down slope, where its relative scarcity drives the cost up. The bell curve peaks at the point at which the global oil resource has been depleted by 50%. It is widely accepted that this peak has now at worst been reached and at best, will be reached within the next 4 years.

This is worth repeating because it is critical to the understanding of America’s motivation: it is widely accepted that this peak has now at worst been reached and at best, will be reached within the next 4 years.

The consequences, in very simplified terms are that oil production 10 years from now will be broadly equal to that of 10 years ago. However the world’s population will be considerably greater (unless artificially manipulated) and the relative demands by country will have shifted as more countries become industrialised and oil-dependent. Global demand will outpace global production and prices will grow exponentially.

Much of America’s finance system is geared around the notion of oil as collateral. Therefore, with such a high dependency on oil, America cannot tolerate a shortfall between demand and supply of more than 10% without economic collapse. We saw this effect in a microeconomic sense in California a few years ago when natural gas production dropped by 5% causing prices to increase by 400%. Californians were forced to endure rolling blackouts to cope.

This collapse simply cannot be allowed to happen. The solution lies in the Middle East. To understand why, let’s look at a few details.

In 1999, current US Vice President Dick Cheney, speaking as the then head of Halibuirton, said:

"By some estimates, there will be an average of two-percent annual growth in global oil demand over the years ahead, along with, conservatively, a three-percent natural decline in production from existing reserves. That means by 2010 we will need on the order of an additional 50 million barrels a day."

To put this into perspective, the current global output is around 84 million barrels a day. Cheney is calling for a relatively huge increase to meet the anticipated extra demand, yet we know the resource will become more scarce and more expensive. America consumes 22 million barrels a day, or around 25% of the total global output. She produces only 5 million a day.

At the same speech, Cheney went on to say:

"While many regions of the world offer great oil opportunities, the Middle East, with two thirds of the world’s oil and the lowest cost, is still where the prize ultimately lies, even though companies are eager for greater access there, progress continues to be slow."

Cheney was later appointed Chairman of the National Energy Policy Development Group. Chapter 8 of the National Energy Policy report he delivered to President Bush in May 2001, contains the following statement:

"By 2020, Gulf oil producers are expected to supply between 54% and 67% of the world’s oil. Thus the global economy will almost certainly continue to depend upon the supply of oil from Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) members, particularly in the Gulf. This region will remain vital to US interests."

It’s worth noting that, at the time this report was published, Gulf states produced around 29% of the world’s oil. Clearly this region is of paramount importance to the US from a strategic point of view.

Cheney’s view of the situation can be cross-referenced with another report, published in April 2001 by an independent think tank, the James A Baker III Institue for Public Policy, called ‘Strategic Energy Policy Challenges for the 21st Century’.

"If the current regimes in the Gulf cannot deliver a better standard of living for rapidly increasing populations, social upheaval could result, and anti-Western elements could gain power."

This post is already long enough but I hope the picture is clear. Having reached the oil peak with all the implications that brings, American leaders simply could not leave their economic fate in the hands of people like Saddam Hussein. It was imperative to ensure the region is well disposed towards America and her interests. If regime change was required to achieve this, then so be it. The anti-American policies of both the Taliban and Iraq have now been reversed in a way that would not have been possible without a clear moral mandate, which was given to them by 9/11. Pro-American governments are now installed in both Afghanistan and Iraq and the need to address other potential ‘threats to international security’ in the region mean that a US military presence is there to stay.


This met with this reply...

QUOTE
Some interesting statistics about petroleum there Bob. When people say "America went into Iraq for the Oil", it was difficult to understand such an accusation without statistics like this. However, supposing 9/11 was a conspiracy, I do not really see the link between 9/11 and Iraq. The link to Afghanistan and 9/11 is clear, despite there being apparently little gain for America other than to hound Bin Laden. But 9/11 and Iraq? I could believe that they went into Iraq for the control of the oil, with the excuse of them having WMD, but I can't see why they would blow up the twin towers to achieve that aim. They had an excuse to go into Iraq and it was nothing to do with 9/11, surely?


To which I replied twice. Firstly...

QUOTE
As you suggest, Afghanisatn was a no-brainer as far as the persuasive process was concerned. Bin Laden was allegedly there and the Taliban we were told, (wrongly as it turns out) wouldn't hand him over.

The key to understanding Iraq, I think, is that 9/11 gave the US the moral high ground. You might recall that, although no specific link was ever made between 9/11 and Iraq, members of the administration constantly implied there was a link and for a long time, the general public, psychologically battered by 9/11, were willing to believe there was a link.

You have to see beyond Iraq too. Had the coalition not so comprehensively cocked-up in Iraq, they would have had a mandate to continue 'democratising' the Middle East, which is the public face of their real agenda, the protection of US (and indeed, Western) energy interests in the region.


Then...

QUOTE
I didn't read your post carefully enough and missed this ["The link to Afghanistan and 9/11 is clear, despite there being apparently little gain for America other than to hound Bin Laden"].

I don't believe Afghanistan was actually about Bin Laden at all (read my earlier posts on him) - that was the public face of the campaign. It was about the US's need to tap into the Central Asian oil fields, which would mitigate against their dependence upon Middle Eastern oil such as that from Saudi Arabia, for example.

In the mid 1990's, you will recall that the Taliban were on friendly terms with the US. By 1998, they had signed an oil pipeline agreement with a consortium led by Unocal, which would allow oil extracted from the Central Asian region to be carried through Afghanistan more cheaply than, say, carrying it out through Turkey to the Mediterranean. But Unocal pulled out, citing unrest in the country. In 1999 the deal was resurrected but by this time, the consortium was led by Saudi Arabian interests. This deal also subsequently fell through following US missle strikes in Afghanistan.

In May 2002, having been installed by the US, Afghanistan interim President, Hamid Karzai, struck a deal to build this pipeline. It's worth mentioning that Karzai is said to have been an advisor to Unocal at the time the original 1998 deal was struck.


In addition, we've got the Iranian government threat to switch from the petro-Dollar to the petro-Euro (a la Iraq), and the likelihood that, more widely, other countries will abandon the Dollar as described in this FT article.

QUOTE
Euro displaces dollar in bond markets
By David Oakley and Gillian Tett in London

Published: January 14 2007

The euro has displaced the US dollar as the world’s pre-eminent currency in international bond markets, having outstripped the dollar-denominated market for the second year in a row.

The data consolidate news last month that the value of euro notes in circulation had overtaken the dollar for the first time. Outstanding debt issued in the euro was worth the equivalent of $4,836bn at the end of 2006 compared with $3,892bn for the dollar, according to International Capital Market Association data.

Outstanding euro-denominated debt accounts for 45 per cent of the global market, compared with 37 per cent for the dollar. New issuance last year accounted for 49 per cent of the global total.

That represents a startling turnabout from the pattern seen in recent decades, when the US bond market dwarfed its European rival: as recently as 2002, outstanding euro-denominated issuance represented just 27 per cent of the global pie, compared with 51 per cent for the dollar.

The rising role of the euro comes amid growing issuance by debt-laden European governments. However, the main factor is a rise in euro-denominated issuance by companies and financial institutions.

One factor driving this is that European companies are moving away from their traditional reliance on bank loans – and embracing the capital markets to a greater degree.

Another is that the creation of the single currency in 1999 has permitted development of a deeper and more liquid market, consolidated by a growing eurozone.

This has made it more attractive for issuers around the world to raise funds in the euro market. And, more recently, the trend among some Asian and Middle Eastern countries to diversify their assets away from the dollar has further boosted this trend.

René Karsenti, executive president of ICMA, said: “It is the stable interest rates in Europe that have helped and the fact that [the euro] has strengthened and shown resilience.”

Since the start of 2003, the European Central Bank’s main interest rate has fluctuated only 1.5 percentage points, ranging from a low of 2 per cent in the middle of that year to 3.5 per cent, its rate today.

In comparison, the Fed funds rate, the main US interest rate, has fluctuated 4.25 percentage points, ranging from 1 per cent in the middle of 2003 to 5.25 per cent, its level today. The euro has also risen to trade around $1.30 against the dollar, from around parity three years ago. Sterling issuance has grown in the past three years, reinforcing its attraction as a niche currency among some investors. The yen, in comparison, has fallen out of favour.

Overall, international capital markets have doubled in size in terms of bond issuance during the past six years.


Sorry about the length of this post; I hope it adds something to the discussion.

This post has been edited by qaranta: Feb 19 2007, 10:59 AM
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biggahthebettah
post Feb 19 2007, 02:52 PM
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Very interesting and enlightening. I'd love the link to where you were discussing this topic. I'm fascinated!
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qaranta
post Feb 19 2007, 04:52 PM
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QUOTE (biggahthebettah @ Feb 19 2007, 01:52 PM)
Very interesting and enlightening. I'd love the link to where you were discussing this topic. I'm fascinated!

Am I allowed to link to other forums? I know that the guys from here did come and register there after detecting my link to this site. If someone can confim I'm not breaking the rules, I'll link to the topic in question.
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biggahthebettah
post Feb 19 2007, 05:20 PM
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Actually, I don't know the rule on links...so what I did instead was use my super top secret spy methods of getting the information I wanted. I plugged phrases from your post in google and I believe I found the site. LOL

Thanks again for the informative post.
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Cary
post Feb 19 2007, 06:04 PM
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Ragin Cajun


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Welcome to the forum qaranta. Interesting stuff. And YES, it's okay to link to other forums. Several of the admins here, including me, have done so.
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qaranta
post Feb 19 2007, 08:03 PM
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QUOTE (Cary @ Feb 19 2007, 05:04 PM)
Welcome to the forum qaranta.  Interesting stuff.  And YES, it's okay to link to other forums.  Several of the admins here, including me, have done so.

Okay, thanks. You can reach the thread in question here. The post in question is number 90.

My username over there is SquareBob SpongePants. Anyone inclined to read the entire thread (it's now well over 350 posts) will notice that I tried to introduce the idea of a conspiracy gently at first. Things have certainly heated up a little since.
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qaranta
post Feb 19 2007, 08:26 PM
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Regarding the above thread...

I have today been critical of the BBC's mockumentary, which was broadcast here in the UK last night. I pointed out that this so-called piece of investigative journalism was so weak, it readily accepted the 'fog-of'war', official line bullshit regarding NORAD's response on 9/11. This prompted a question from a conspiracy sceptic.

QUOTE
How on earth could they "track the plane"? It would have been virtually impossible. As soon as the transponder is switched off on-board the plane it is virtually impossible for ATC to track the plane. They can switch to primary radar which will show all aircraft as a blob on a screen. There must have been hundreds of aircraft in the skies over the vicinity that day. You tell me how on earth they were meant to tell one aircraft from another taking into consideration the vast amount of so called blobs on a primary radar screen? We are talking world war 2 technology here. Without the transponder switched on, ATC is virtually blind with that amount of aircraft in the sky. The conspiracy theories even back this up with the theory that Delta flight 1989 was in fact Flight 93, which it wasnt. Both flights were flying on the same airway and after the transponder was switched off on United flight 93, ATC confused Delta flight 1989 with it, that's why some conspiracy theories believe Flight 93 never crashed at all and that it landed in Cleveland and all the passengers and crew were kidnapped by aliens. Seriously, these conspiracy theories are the result of people with warped minds.


This is how I responded. I feel it is more than a little weak. Perhaps someone here can give me a better angle?

QUOTE
I'm no expert, so my opinion here is virtually worthless, however, if the transponders were such a critical component of the tracking system, is it not likely that the most sophisticated and heavily defended airspace in the world would register an alert if a transponder were to be switched off? If so, it would immediately be picked up by air traffic controllers and could, therefore, continue to be tracked. My understanding is that a plane does not disappear from radar if the transponder if switched off; a transponder advertises a plane's status, either 'friend or foe', not altitude or direction.


Any ideas? Better still, register with the site and subdue this guy with your aviator's knowledge.
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