A number of stories today report fuel and electricity shortages changing business as usual around the world. Some of the biggest difficulties exist in Asia, where demand is growing fastest. China is facing some of its biggest coal supply difficulties since 2004 as national electricity rates are capped, preventing utilities from getting the revenue to buy more expensive supplies. Their main utility company reported that 46% of their stations have coal supplies below the “caution line” and Continue reading
Stories from Saudi Arabia today show that we may be at peak oil exports even if we haven’t yet reached peak oil production. For oil importing countries like the US, the price for our imports is dependent on the balance between aggregate demand from net importers and aggregate supply offered to the global oil market. One of the key issues that has exacerbated the global oil supply stagnation of late, is the fact that oil exports have been generally falling since 2005. Match that up to increased demand by fellow importers in China, India and other fast-growing economies and voila Continue reading
As most of the fuel complex is getting less expensive than the highs of a few weeks ago, most coal in the US continues to climb to record prices. The weekly EIA report showed Central Appalachian advancing .5% to $140 per short ton, Northern App up 7.9% to $149, Illinois up 1.4% to $71, and Uinta Basin up 10.7% to $62 while Powder River Basin prices Continue reading
I spent much of the day working on a model that pulls the relevant variables of the oil market together to have predictive success for the prices of the last decade and a half. Once the model comes together, it will hopefully give some insight on the trajectory of prices for the next decade and a half. I believe this is absolutely crucial and seriously missing. The EIA, World Bank, CERA and many other mainstream modelers of oil prices have been woefully incorrect in their past predictions, and it makes policymakers largely blind as they try to put together energy strategies for the future. I aim to publish the report in Continue reading
Without remembering history, we walk blindly from day to day. While we all have moments of blindness, like forgetting to bring water to summer hoops games in the park, I want to make sure that we don’t lose sight of the energy big picture unfolding in 2008. Quick price corrections like the last two weeks for oil and natural gas can sometimes allow policymakers to lose sight of the forest for the trees.
One of the great symptoms of less driving in the US is a reduction in the number of fatal traffic accidents. While some analysts predicted that a shift toward smaller vehicles may make travelers less safe than an SUV-dominated roadscape, recent figures from the National Safety Council seem to fly in the face of that argument. Deaths over the first five months of 2008 are down 9% from those in 2007.
This reduction is largely explained by Continue reading
Today was my first full day in Manhattan. After getting an internet and phone system installed in the apartment, I rolled down 80 blocks of this bustling City for a meeting. Glad to be sporting a helmet, this ride was no easy stroll. Unlike some previous cycling in Princeton, New Jersey, and Chapel Hill/Carrboro, North Carolina — Manhattan cycling demands full focus to arrive at your destination unscathed by eager taxi drivers and hurrying pedestrians. It made a real difference when I had a bike lane that gave me some sense of security, with the best part of the trip being the ride through Central Park’s bikeway on my way back. The cool thing was my meeting was with Continue reading
Ever since July 2007, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has taken the concern of people like me a lot more seriously. A mix of geologists and energy observers have been worried about a potential oil supply future where production hits a plateau and even declines by the late 2010s. IEA calls for demand reduction and supply investment have gotten louder and louder as the months pass by. And today, IEA chief economist acknowledged that we are within two years of the peak in production of non-OPEC conventional oil. This means Continue reading
The NY Times just ran a story on the increase in online sales for retail chains such as JC Penny and Gap. Though the slow economy is showing reduced in-store sales from last year, online sales are up as much as 21% over the same period. Much of the increase has been attributed to rising gas prices that make a trip to the mall much more expensive than a few years ago. In our household, Continue reading
I was happy that Obama stood up against the pressure to join McCain and Clinton in calling for a gas tax holiday this summer. It would have further bankrupt our federal highway trust fund, caused major job losses, increased the number of potholes across our country, and exacerbated our addiction to oil. In fact, people looking closely at our highways believe they need more revenue to stay in good shape. So we may see a dime increase in the gas tax.
The problem is, asphalt is a product made from crude oil. And the vehicles used by road construction companies run on oil. So Continue reading