Daily Archives: May 12, 2009

Carola Hoyos

Rand, one of the US’s most influential think tanks, has figured out what most school children, but few Congressmen, understand: oil imports don’t threaten US security, oil consumption does.

The biggest risk to the US (and all other consumers for that matter) would be an abrupt, extended fall in the global oil supply, Rand concluded.

Nevertheless, striving for energy “independence” (a catchword that has survived the transition from Presidents George W. Bush to Barack Obama and remains alive and well on Capitol Hill) though politically popular, appears a rather fruitless exercise. Read more

Kate Mackenzie

Sutro Baths ruins. Flickr: michaelphale

Wave and tidal power is today seen as a relatively immature energy technology compared with more established renewables, such as wind turbines and photovoltaic solar panels. But a San Franciscan local historical society has charted a much longer history for attempts to harness wave and tidal power.

Most of these attempts were unsucccessful, but they remain fascinating – especially considering that this spate of inventions and projects took place during what was a formative time for the oil industry. The Western Neighborhoods Project lovingly details numerous Californian projects dating back to the 1870s, when several inventions for wave and tidal powered motors were patented. Early efforts were mostly aimed at pumping water for purposes such as flushing sewers, but as early as 1881 an inventor planned to design a motor that could be used for “”public and private baths in this city, watering streets, flushing sewers, generating compressed air for driving machinery, also electric energy for illuminating the streets, etc. together with the last and most important purpose of extinguishing fires”. Read more

Kate Mackenzie

The technology industry often seems to have an innate degree of environmental credibility. Technology, after all, will be a critical element in reducing carbon emissions. There is the problem of disposing of pollutant-rich hardware, but some hardware companies actually do reasonable job of dealing with it; as their marketing campaigns frequently remind us. Lighter, faster web-based applications seem vaguely like a step in the right direction. Google even has a power meter in development. Distributed computing could perhaps serve as a model for distributed energy generation. And shouldn’t all that improved personal productivity goes hand in hand with improved efficiency?

Of course, it’s a little more complex than that. Read more

Kate Mackenzie

On Energy Source:

Commodity markets can be manipulated; get over it Read more

Oil prices hit on Tuesday a fresh six-month high, nearing $60 a barrel, as traders bet that the signs of economic “green shoots” will boost demand. The move attracted fresh speculative buying, lifting prices even higher.

The rise in oil prices drove a broader commodities prices surge, with agricultural commodities rising ahead of a key supply and demand update from the US government, due out later in the session. Read more

Kate Mackenzie

Not one to mince words, commodities-analyst-turned-commentator John Kemp declares the financial crisis and commodity market gyrations has disproved three tenets of commodities regulation:

  • Speculation has emerged as a factor in its own right, he says, even though most analysts insist this is not possible.
  • Manipulation is possible, he writes, citing examples such as hedge fund Amaranth, which held more than half of the open interest in natural gas contracts when it collapsed in 2006.
  • And settlement failures in the US government bond market highlight how vulnerable smaller commodity markets are to liquidity problems and large positions.

 Read more

- Exports offer hope in Iraq oil share row
Analysts warn of another false start (FT)

- Nigeria dispute fuels petrol shortages
President and oligarchs locked in showdown (FT) Read more