Thursday, September 27, 2007

Future Shock: Peak Oil in Mexico

Now that Greenspan has confirmed that the occupation of Iraq is about oil, it's time to pay close attention to the crisis in dropping oil production that some refer to as Peak Oil. Many say that oil production has already crested, and the evidence is clear and convincing.

Astute observers of the looming oil crisis are urging us to reconsider the way we build and site our homes and public buildings, the cars we buy and modes of public transport.

From James Kunstler, author of The Long Emergency, writing at Civitas: The Broadside of Civic Design and Politics, talks about Mexican oil production and what Mexican Peak Oil will bring to the already troubled U.S./Mexican relationship.

...Something very interesting and rather ominous is resolving out of blizzard of statistics, reports, scenarios, and competing interests in the background. This is the oil export crisis.

It is now apparent that oil exporting nations are seeing their exports falling at a much steeper rate than their production declines. The aggregate global oil production decline is running between 3 to 5 percent annually now, but the export decline is running above 7 percent. In five years, it may be as high as 50 percent. That means the major importing nations (the US, Europe, Japan, China, India) will only be getting half the imports they get now -- and bear in mind that the US imports more than two-thirds of the oil we use.

The poster-child for this problem -- as far as the US is concerned -- is Mexico. 60 percent of Mexico's oil production comes out of a single super-giant field, Cantarell, off the Yucatan in the Gulf of Mexico. Cantarell is the second largest oil field ever discovered (after Saudi Arabia's Ghawar). It came into production relatively late in the oil age and was subject to very aggressive drilling with the latest technology (horizontal bores, gas injections to keep pressure up) with the result that it was only depleted more efficiently. The aggressive production may have also damaged its geologic structure. The net result now is that production out of Cantarell is crashing very steeply, at a minimum of 15 percent a year. That means in six or seven years, Cantarell is finished. However, long before then, Mexico will lose its ability to export oil to the US.

That's going to be a mighty big problem -- or set of problems. For one thing, Mexico is America's number 3 source of oil imports (after Canada and Saudi Arabia). So, in two or three years, we will lose our number three source of foreign oil. By the way, there is no real evidence that "new discoveries" oil "new production" anywhere in the world will offset global production drops. The Mexican government depends on it's nationalized oil production (Pemex) for 40 percent of its operating revenue. So, what we're also looking at South-of-the-Border is the potential for a lot of economic and political turmoil as the Mexican government loses revenue and loses its ability to maintain its social safety net (which includes food subsidies).

The upshot of all this is that the US is likely to see a ramp-up in illegal immigration. The last time there was turmoil in Mexico -- the long revolution that ran from 1913 to 1940 -- one quarter of the Mexican population left, and most of them landed in the US. The population of Mexico then was about 23 million. Now it's over 100 million. If this turmoil escalates into violence, the US may even have a military problem with Mexico.

As this occurs, though, there will be plenty of other trouble with oil resources elsewhere around the world, and that will be reflected in global finance and the condition of national economies. The US consumes close to 20 million barrels of oil a day, and we produce less than 5 million.

Something will have to give.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Thank You, Rachel Carson

To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.
Abraham Lincoln

Thank you, Rachel Carson and Bill Moyers for reminding me of this quote.

Friday, September 14, 2007

An Enduring Relationship With Iraq

This morning's C-Span question was: Should we have an enduring relationship with Iraq?

We will have an enduring relationship with Iraq, especially with the millions of displaced Iraqi people, now refugees, who will teach their children to revile us.

We will have an enduring relationship with those Iraqis who are financially unable to leave, but desperately wish to move their families to safety.

We will have an enduring relationship with Iraqis who have lost loved ones as a result of our invasion and continued occupation of their country.

When we train and arm the Iraqi military and police forces, they turn those weapons on our troops. The Iraqis know where the IEDs and the ammo dumps are located, but they do not share that information with our troops. That speaks volumes about what our enduring relationship will be with Iraq.

It was an idiotic decision to go to war with Iraq, and every decision made thereafter has shown that same insight.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Bush Befuddled in Australia

A really great example of why the U.S. is in such a mess.

From the Huffington Post:

Bush: OPEC or APEC
by Tom Raum, 9/7/07

SYDNEY, Australia —
President Bush had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day at the Sydney Opera House.

He'd only reached the third sentence of Friday's speech to business leaders, on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, when he committed his first gaffe.

"Thank you for being such a fine host for the OPEC summit," Bush said to Australian Prime Minister John Howard.

Oops. That would be APEC, the annual meeting of leaders from 21 Pacific Rim nations, not OPEC, the cartel of 12 major oil producers.

Bush quickly corrected himself. "APEC summit," he said forcefully, joking
that Howard had invited him to the OPEC summit next year (for the
record, an impossibility, since neither Australia nor the U.S. are OPEC members).

The president's next goof went uncorrected _ by him anyway. Talking about Howard's visit to Iraq last year to thank his country's soldiers serving there, Bush called them "Austrian troops."

That one was fixed for him. Though tapes of the speech clearly show Bush saying "Austrian," the official text released by the White House switched it to "Australian."

Then, speech done, Bush confidently headed out _ the wrong way.

He strode away from the lectern on a path that would have sent him over a steep drop. Howard and others redirected the president to center stage, where there were steps leading down to the floor of the theater.

Regarding The Awaited Osama Bin Laden Video

Regarding the awaited Osama Bin Laden video:

If Osama Bin Laden is indeed still alive, and plotting to continue his jihad from the mountains of Afghanistan/Pakistan, why are we not moving heaven and earth to find and apprehend him?

We have bombed and stomped over practically every square foot of Iraq. Why has our military effort not been directed at stopping Bin Laden and his organization as our #1 goal?

The war on "terror" began as an effort to bring to justice this band of outlaws. Surely we could have accomplished this. The $64,000 question is, why haven't we?

This is the question I would like to have answered.

The incompetence of the Bush administration in this matter astounds and saddens me. Nothing Bin Laden has to say will change my opinion about that.

My only hope at this point, is that we will elect a Democratic president who will focus attention on neutralizing this band of outlaws, and return to diplomatic efforts in bringing peace in other trouble spots in the world.