• Climate Change,  Global Guerillas,  Inventions,  Middle East,  Oil,  Weirdness

    Saturday reading

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  • Oil,  Tech

    Fair trade energy

    Check out this article on Popular Mechanics about using excess CO2 and algae to create biofuels. It’s an elegant solution, using one problem (excess CO2) to solve the other (the need for energy).

    If I were Bill Gates, or at least in some position of power in his charity, I would subsidize the creation of these things in the third world. Doing that would create industry in the (mostly) quite hot third world countries where it has never been. Unlike the traditional oil regimes though, this industry would not be easily stolen as capital and expertise could be moved fairly easily.

    I’ll have more ruminations on the “Curse of oil” and capital flight eventually.

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  • Oil,  Politics

    Government temerity

    From this CNN article

    The bill would bar companies from future lease sales unless they agree to renegotiate flawed leases issued in 1998-99 for deep-water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

    Because of a government error, the current leases do not contain a trigger for royalties if prices soared, as they have in recent years. As a result, the companies have avoided paying $1 billion in royalties so far and stand to avoid an additional $9 billion over the life of the leases, the Interior Department says.

    Isn’t that why one signs a lease, to lock in a price? All government contracting is shady, but to pretend that anyone is owed anything is ridiculous. All the more reason to auction off the drilling rights and be done with it.

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  • Middle East,  Oil,  Predictions

    Aspects of the conventional wisdom

    • Oil is the lifeblood of the Global Economy – I remember paying 94 cents a gallon in October of 2001, to $3.05 this summer, to $1.98 today (yes I realize that the price of oil does not track gas exactly, but it’s close). Given that the economy of the oil consuming world has growing mildly (Europe), moderately (the US), and highly (China and India), it would seem that this is simply not true, or if true, not meaningful.
    • The invasion of Iraq will turn the Muslim world against the US. Given that it’s been three and a half years, and all of the opposition is still based in Iraq (with some degree of foreign investment in people and capital) this would seem not to be meaningful.
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  • Environmentalism,  Oil

    The market clears

    I went to the bank to make a deposit (Kroger ATM) and then drove around a bit. The lowest I saw gas was $2.89, the highest was $3.41 (at a place that is always the highest) and the average was around $3.15. At least in the Avondale-Decatur area.

    All of the places seemed to have gas though, which would indicate that the biggest problem didn’t happen. For more on the Atlanta area situation see this post on VodkaPundit.

    Fifty cents in one day. I do realize that recent events were the result of a supply disruption, and not a long-term trend, but can we drill in Alaska now? I thought that would arise in the national conversation but it seems like it won’t.

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  • Economics,  Oil

    A fine post from Steve Levitt

    Solid work explaing why the “Peak Oil” notion is wrong, a summary quote.

    So why do I compare peak oil to shark attacks? It is because shark attacks mostly stay about constant, but fear of them goes up sharply when the media decides to report on them. The same thing, I bet, will now happen with peak oil. I expect tons of copycat journalism stoking the fears of consumers about oil induced catastrophe, even though nothing fundamental has changed in the oil outlook in the last decade.

    Curiously unmentioned is that oil demand usually peaks in the month of August (it’s lowest in February). I actually read all of the comments thread, which wasn’t terribly illuminating. Few addressed the point in the post. It was surprising how attached people are to particular doomsday scenarios.

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  • Economics,  Oil

    Yet more things that annoy me

    I was listening the ever earnest radio program Democracy Now on the way from my the guitar lesson and I heard for the third time today the phrase “Oil driven inflation”.

    Inflation is a general rise in prices, which is the same thing as a decline in the purchasing power of the dollar (or whatever currency). A rise in the price of oil does not cause this. If it did then wages would be increasing due to the oil price increase as well. It is a transfer of wealth from oil-consumer to oil-producer, which is not inflation.

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