Monthly Archives: September 2008

College Campuses Trailblazing Climate Responsibility

Every time I touch base with my allies in the sustainability for higher education movement, I am inspired by the great strides being made in every state of this nation. While our federal government has dragged its feet when it comes to setting greenhouse gas emissions targets, both public and private campuses are rising to the occasion. My buddies at the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) are leading the charge with projects like the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment. This Commitment has mobilized Continue reading

Financial Collapse Sends Oil Prices Spiralling

With another US bank having succumbed to the financial turmoil (my own Wachovia) and other banks in Europe taking emergency measures, the oil and gas markets decided that demand was falling faster than inventories. The price fell more than 10% back into the double digits and Deutsche Bank lowered its oil price forecast 23% for 2009, to $92.50 per barrel. Economic recession in Europe and Japan along with a likely recession in the US brings with it the potential for global oil demand to be close to flat next year. Even with slow production growth, such stagnation in demand could allow oil inventories to rebuild to Continue reading

Debate This: Solar, Wind & Efficiency to replace oil imports from Mexico & Venezuela

Over the next seven years, two of our top sources of oil imports may cut us off. Just last year, Mexico and Venezuela sold us 2.9 million barrels per day to fuel our cars and heat our homes, over 20% of our import demand. But Mexico’s oil production is falling more than 5% per year while their domestic consumption rises. Thus, most analysts predict Mexican oil exports to be nonexistent by ~2015. And Venezuela is signing deals with China to send more of its exports there over the next few years even though their production is currently stagnating.

As the Southeast experiences the crippling effects of fuel shortages, planning to replace this oil over the next seven years is critical if we are to Continue reading

Gasoline shortages show economic fragility of oil dependence

My native state of North Carolina (along with a few others in the Southeast) continues to suffer from gasoline shortages, especially in the Charlotte area and further West. It looks like shortages will last at least another week before refineries have recovered enough to remedy the situation. Some schools are even closing due to lack of fuel — a serious reminder that oil supply stagnation in the years ahead is a reality we don’t want to hit without Continue reading

Gasoline Supplies at Record Low, Ike Maintains Grip on Oil Market

The EIA weekly oil report just came out. And as I’ve been writing for days, it wasn’t pretty. Gasoline inventories fell to their lowest level since the 1960s — when gasoline demand was around half of what it is today. This thin margin of supply over demand has already resulted in 10+ days of shortages in Continue reading

You want to give banks $2,300 to bail them out?

Bush and his Treasury Secretary Paulson are asking Congress to push through a bailout of banks that have gambled and lost. Their package calls for $700 billion that we don’t have by borrowing $2,333 from every man, woman and child in this country. If the plan is passed, it will make this year’s federal deficit a record of ~$1 trillion or 7% of GDP (even bigger than Reagan’s record 6% of GDP in 1983). It would also balloon US national debt to ~70% of GDP at close to $11 trillion. And the plan is no sure fix to prevent a recession or worse!

I know we have to do something, but I don’t accept getting something rammed down our throats by President Bush’s Continue reading

Bailout triggers oil rise, along with Ike recovery & Mexico declines

The bailout completes a trillion-dollar gift from tax payers to maintain some semblance of the US financial sector of the past few decades. The era of investment banks has ended, beginning what may turn out to be an era of inflation and weak dollars. This dollar weakness catapulted the oil price to as high as $130 per barrel, causing the NYMEX trading floor to suspend trading briefly since prices’ record rise was more than the one-day limit.

Other bullish news came from the Gulf, as less than 25% of its oil production has returned post-Ike. We are almost 10 days away from Continue reading

US natural gas supplies build, solar industry revving up

The EIA reported another build in storage today, though the supply increase was 24% lower than the five-year average for this week due to Hurricanes Gustav and Ike. We will have at least one more week of slow growth reported next Thursday from Ike production, leaving many analysts to predict that this year’s winter storage peak will be closer to average than last year’s record. Since natural gas consumption has increased these last few years, this development is somewhat bullish — especially given the weak dollar. But natural gas supplies remain robust for the winter unless Continue reading

Gasoline supplies lowest on record, but inventories saved by lower demand

The EIA reported today that the whole fuel inventory complex is down significantly from last year and below the five-year average. Gasoline supplies are at their lowest level since detailed records began in 1981. In normal times, such a report would result in much higher prices. But these aren’t normal times as reduced demand continues to be the savior of 2008 for lowering prices and keeping our inventories above minimum operating levels.

However, next week’s report will test the ability of lower demand to make up for even lower supplies. Crude supplies will most likely fall below 290 Mb with gasoline supplies falling the farthest, potentially below Continue reading

Hurricane Ike recovery slow, flailing economy drags oil further

While Hurricane Ike was no Katrina, it’s effects on Gulf of Mexico oil production hold strong three and a half days after landfall. The Mineral Management Services report that less than 3% of oil production has resumed in the Gulf as of 11:30am CST today. This means that Hurricanes Gustav and Ike have exceeded EIA projections of 14.5 million barrels in Hurricane-induced outages throughout 2008, with the possibility of another storm hitting the region before the season is over. An oil market report will come out tomorrow to share Continue reading