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Let's set aside the political and environmental reasons for getting off oil to make a statement that focuses just on the ability to predict the price of gasoline: if we knew how much black gold was left in the ground, things sure would be a lot easier. This point is emphasized by two recent articles, one from the Sydney Morning Herald that says that we have a lot less oil reserves underground than we've been led to believe and the other directly from Shell that says that a whole bunch more oil was just discovered in the Gulf of Mexico. We don't know how to read oil company press releases to ferret out BS, but Shell says that, the company's workers drilled to a depth of "7,643 metres (25,077 feet) and encountered approximately 162 metres (530-feet) of oil pay." Do they really call oil deposits "oil pay." Wow, that's descriptive.

The more critical view comes from Sir David King, Britain's former chief scientist, who says that the official estimates of how many barrels of oil remain in the earth are "inflated because member countries of the oil cartel, OPEC, over-reported reserves in the 1980s when competing for global market share," as the SMH puts it. Instead of somewhere between 1,150 and 1,350 billion barrels, Kind thinks there are more like 850 to 900 billion barrels.

When it comes to energy insecurity questions like this, we can't help but think that plug-in vehicles offer a smart and stable alternative. Pull politics and the environment back into the picture, and you've got to wonder why anyone keeps pushing for more liquid fuels. Oh, right, oil pay.

[Source: Sydney Morning Herald, Shell via Green Car Congress | Image: Stig Nygaard - C.C. License 2.0]


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  • 42 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      "Pull politics and the environment back into the picture, and you've got to wonder why anyone keeps pushing for more liquid fuels."

      Hey, petroleum is not the only source of liquid fuels.

      Alcohol fuels and biodiesel are liquid fuels too, but are NOT derived from petroleum.

      Don't equate liquid fuels with petroleum.

      And if petroleum is so bad (and it is), why does ABG constantly hype petro-diesel (a truly filthy fuel), and make a big deal of little cars, fuel efficiency, and non plug-in hybrids, all of which are petroleum-only?

        • 5 Years Ago
        Because they're affordable and better than what we have right now.

        As for biofuels, they look like they could be promising, but right now they're not competitive with good ol' oil yet and they only solve the 'energy security' problem.

        Sorta like the right wing version of going green :p
        • 5 Years Ago
        Okay first off the reason why they support High-Mpg diesels is because for the most part they are now clean diesels polluting far less then previous generations.
        On to the second point, as to why they would support non-hybrid cars and gas only cars that are efficent... Well lets see maybe because if we are going to use gas (and most people cant afford to go only ev not to mention lack of availabilty) then we might as well use as very little as possible and pollute as little as well.

        Dont forget I am not saying your other solutions arent good I am simply stating the reason they arent truly feasible at this time. To state its not important to keep advancing technology thats easier for everyone to access is completly off the point of trying to help the planet. Limited availability and lower yeilds plus simple things like I live in place where -30 degrees can happen for a large part of the year and if my vehicle wont start then where am I left... Oh ya in the cold.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The interesting thing to me is:
      - Peak Oil
      - Peak Water
      - Global Warming - Global Drought
      - Global Species Die off

      What do all these have in common?
      - Peak Population.
      Never before has the world contained a population of 7 Billion. From 1776 to today, population increase: approx. 6 Billion people consuming CARBON products.

      What I'm worried about is the first nation that "solves" the problem with a pandemic.
      Look at the crackpots now in politics, watch what happens when things get worse.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Peak Population ... well found and very true. The only real and sustainable solution to all OUR pollution is a smaller population; it is equally a non-discussion subject, political suicide to bring it up and un-managable as well. Don't like the idea of a pandemic either! Too often new technology is seen as the solution but every gain in efficiency is counter acted by an increased use of (fill in yourself: car, luxury goods, etc), effectively only increasing emissions.
        • 5 Years Ago
        2 things that limit population more than any other (in this country and globally):

        Educating women. Women have fewer children if they have something to live for other than making babies. The countries with the highest level of educated women have the lowest birth rates and vice versa.

        Access to comprehensive reproductive health care. Not only from the contraceptive perspective, but people are less likely to have multiple kids when they believe that the children they already have are likely to live to adulthood. (If people are too poor to afford contraception, guess who ends up paying for it.... the majority of welfare recipients are children. A few dollars worth of contraception is a lot less than 18 years of welfare dependancy.)
        • 5 Years Ago
        People are not just alimentary canals, eating and excreting. They are also brains and hands, innovating and creating. That's a big reason, along with expanding liberty, that even though world population has gone up over the last few hundred years, world prosperity is up too.

        Your anti-human mentality leads to the closed Soylent Green future, a nightmare tyranny. One way to avoid it is to change that mentality to a pro-human one.

        Another is to create the open future, of unlimited room and resources, the Star Trek future. And that requires becoming a spacefaring civilization. That's why opening up Mars to human exploration and settlement is so vital. And why the recent destruction of NASA's manned program is so tragic.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Are people really THAT stupid to believe what oil companies say?

      Well...I think I know a few here that are.
      • 5 Years Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      It is in the great interest of oil companies to cap production.
      Scarcity rises prices and keeps everything under control. Look how
      pretty much the entire world is controlled through scarcity, if you
      had everything you need (energy, transportation, production, health,
      communication) then why would you need a government or corporations?
      Everything the goverments propose is to keep us dependant on them.
      Fear is the driving force - Fear of losing control, power and money.
      That fear is being used everywhere to hamper all kinds of advances of
      personal freedom.

      The stagnant production is because OPEC decides how much the pump and
      produce. They admit it. It is in their interests to keep prices high.
      Oil companies have resources that could buy most countries with
      everything on it in the world! It would cost nothing to eliminate all
      serious alternative energy source projects either by bribes,
      aquisitions or murders. Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts
      absolutely. Think about that for a second with your conditioned
      neurons. (not an offence, everyone is conditioned by the society they
      live in)
      • 5 Years Ago
      unless satan can continue to supply his black blood from the ground it stands to reason that it will hit a wall when demand is rising sooner or later. the only question is when and how hard will it hit. it could actually hit pretty hard and perhaps pretty soon. the rapid rise to 150$ per barrell just before the recession hit is a fairly likely indicator that it will. I sort of hope it does, not that it wont potentially cripple the world's economy but let's be honest here, you humans are too damn stupid to act without a disaster pushing you so bring it on.
      as Michio Kaku put it, we would have to discover a new Saudi Arabia every ten years to keep up with demand and that simply aint gonna happen http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gDV1BUVVTBI

      aerodynamic fiber glass cars. battery drive with tiny ICE range extender. the simple and obvious easy great wonderful solution. sooner or later it will happen. why not listen to me now so we don't waste 20 years of everyone's lives with 'we didn't know' because you couldn't be bothered to think even a little
      • 5 Years Ago
      To predict the price of oil, you should look at financial markets rather than the amount of announced reserves. Investment banks have been pushing commodities futures as a hedge against inflation for the last few years, which has changed the makeup of the market from mostly physical hedgers - people directly producing or consuming crude oil - to large numbers of long-only, price-insensitive speculators.

      2008's oil price spike occurred in the middle of a world-wide recession, with US refined product reserves at an all-time high and highway travel at a five-year low, with new discoveries being made. According to the fundamentals there should have been a trough, not a spike.

      Much, much more at http://accidentalhuntbrothers.com/.

      US highway travel data can be found at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/ohim/tvtw/tvtpage.cfm. January 2010 was apparently down on 2009, which itself was down on 2008 and 2007.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Hedge funds and traders were the main reason for $150 oil, and they still have millions of gallons parked in storage trying to a) reduce supply b) cash in once they've raised prices.

        It's the classic commodity play, and the Wall Street types will never give up their oil plays and we'll just have to tolerate their abuses until a significant % of road vehicles are liberated from HAVING to run on oil products and go Electric.
        • 5 Years Ago
        ... except that petroleum is traded on a world market, and worldwide, consumption was not down much at all. America only consumes about 25% of the whole, so does not drive market demand. While there may have been a worldwide recession, it hit America the hardest, and the US$ fell DRAMATICALLY compared to other currencies, meaning that prices of imported goods in the US increased dramatically.

        Traders, hedgers and speculators are not consumers of oil, they have to sell their futures on their call date at whatever price the market will pay on that date. They cannot have much effect on the price to consumers, because they cannot change either the supply or the demand. What they can do is provide knowledge of future prices, since they buy future product.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Peak oil has nothing to do with running out of oil. It is simply a peak in the production of oil, and this causes bad things to the market where the price is set: the sane thing to do with something that suddenly will be less produced, by still more consumed, is buy it at ANY price. Meaning prices will skyrocket.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Electric cars are only as sustainable as our supply of REE's, which doesn't make them much better than gas.

      The only really sustainable cars are liquid hydrogen / hydrogen fuel cell; but I guess they're just not 'politically correct' enough for the wackjob greenies.
        • 5 Years Ago
        You must be new around here.
        A hydrogen fuel cell vehicle is an electric vehicle refueled in a much less efficient manner than recharging batteries. That's an undeniable fact.

        "Electric cars are only as sustainable as our supply of REE's"
        But nobody is predicting peak Rare Earth Elements, if that's what you're referring to. We *PRODUCE* cars, we *CONSUME* energy. Big difference.
      Level4
      • 5 Years Ago
      we have enough oil so stop with the domesday scenarios...The oil companies know they have plenty of oil at the rate we consume it is that simple...Sure the oil companies do play "poker" never letting know for sure how much to keep each oil competitor in check...but the fact remains if we really were in short oil supply I can bet my left nut a gallon of gas would be costing somewhere in the range of 50$ a gallon..we are no where near that for a very long time....this is where the green movements comes into play projecting short oil supplies to boost the production of alternative fuels and EV because of said domesday scenarios...The natural order of things is that we will eventually not need oil in the future once new discoveries are made in renewable energy, but this notion of trying to cause fear in the general public to push a agenda is getting tired some...
      • 5 Years Ago
      The price of oil is very volatile, and changes constantly for a variety of factors outside our control. OPEC holds a large amount of power over the price of oil. These factors alone are reasons enough for many companies to be exploring alternatives. Personally I don't care if a hundred trillion tons of the black goo are still underground waiting to be extracted - there are plenty of reasons to kick the habit - air pollution, water pollution, political instability, .....
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