Is there really an oil shortage?

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Aug 4, 2004
The first part is from an article written by John Johnston a resepctive columnist.

Published June 3rd, 2008

By John Johnston

Managing Editor

Historically high gasoline prices are on the mind of virtually everyone in Boca Raton; indeed, virtually everyone in the nation

Dr. Chuck Laser serves on the board of governors for Northwood University; he's also a well-known Boca Raton area oil wildcatter - and he will tell anyone who asks why gas prices are so high.

You need to know, however, that you don't ask Laser a question unless you're prepared for a straight answer - and you also need more than a few minutes to listen. Laser is passionate about his points of view - and passionate men care little about the clock. Straight talk and time are the price one pays to hear a passionate man, supported by science, as Laser puts it, "tell the truth."

"What I'm telling you today is the truth," Laser told West Palm Beach Rotarians recently. This included the following:

"America has plenty of oil." At the same time, the current oil shortages and resulting high prices are because "the world hasn't been drilling for oil when prices were low for (the past) 20 years."

Alternative fuels such as corn-based ethanol are not only "dangerous," but are grossly inefficient -- ethanol production from corn requiring "29 percent more fossil energy than the ethanol fuel produced." And oh, by the way, "global warming is a myth."

Global Cooling?

"Man does not cause global warming in any sense of the word," Laser said, pointing to the actual science. "Let's look at the weather," he said, noting the following for the years 2007/2008.

Snow fell in Baghdad for the first time in history. Ontario was buried under the worst snowstorm in 58 years; Denver reported the coldest temperatures since 1872. 500 bison died this year due to the coldest winter in the west

In February the temperature fell minus 40 degrees in Minnesota breaking a record set in 1923. A record 24 feet of show piled up on Colorado's vain mountain after December 1st. In Canada 271/2 inches of snow fell on Toronto setting a previous record of 261/2" set in 1950.

China had it coldest winter in a century causing powerlines to collapse. In South America snow fell in Buenos Airies for the first time since 1918, and in Africa, Johannesburg had its first significant snowfall in 25 years.

NASA, and the four top organizations that measure temperatures worldwide said that the average world temperature "fell between 0.64 and 0.75 degrees Celsius in the 12 months ending in January 2008," Laser said.

"This is the single biggest drop in more than 10 years and wipes out the gradual 0.67 percent degree Celsius increase in temperature over the past 100 years, which provides the empirical basis for the claim of global warming."

"Some 60 top Canadian climatologists advised the prime minister of Canada that man is not causing global warming. Computer models are very inaccurate because they cannot put all the variables that affect climate into the calculations," said Laser

In fact, Laser says the sun is both our friend and episodic enemy.

"The most important factor affecting heat and cooling are solar flares," said Laser. There is a perfect correlation between warm periods and cold periods over hundreds of years, according to the strength of solar flares. C02 (greenhouse gasses) have no affect at all. NASA studied the artic temperatures over 100 years and solar flares correlated perfectly with the cooling and heating of the artic area."

Ethanol Saving Us?

OK -- so there's reason to, at the very least, ask some serious questions about those who say the sky is not only falling, but is also on fire -- but none of that answers the energy question. What about biofuels, i.e., ethanol from corn?

Laser agreed biofuels based on ethanol, vegetable oil and other renewable sources are increasingly popular with government and environmentalists as a way to reduce fossil fuel dependence and limit greenhouse gas emissions.

However, he said, "ethanol is not only a pollutant and creates c02, but (some officials say) it is a crime against humanity, blaming ethanol production, because we are destroying the rain forests. There are food riots from Haiti to Egypt because crops are not being grown to feed people. "

The real culprit is human greed, Laser said, "with farmers getting $300 billion in subsidies. Consumers are paying much higher prices for foods that are not being grown, so farmers can get rich growing corn that is a pollutant."

At the same time, he said, "ethanol depends on oil to produce corn and uses more petroleum than it saves. Ethanol production using corn grain requires 29 percent more fossil energy than the ethanol fuel produced. At best it could only supply two percent of our needs. It takes 1.29 gallons of petroleum to produce one gallon of ethanol."

"And while the government is demanding the doubling of ethanol by 2010," Laser said, "ethanol plants are releasing dangerous toxic organic compounds into the air such as formaldehyde and acetic acid, both carcinogenic, and methanol that is classified as a pollutant."

Latest Research

The most recent new research supports Laser. Research led by a biologist at the University of Washington, Bothell, shows that some of the most popular current biofuel stocks might have exactly the opposite impacts than intended.

The authors of a paper published in the June issue of the journal Conservation Biology offer a dozen policy recommendations to promote sustainability and biodiversity in biofuel production

The study looked at factors such as the energy needed to produce a renewable fuel source compared with how much energy is produced, the impact on soil fertility and effects on food supply when fuels based on crops such as corn and soybeans are mixed with fossil fuels.

Based on those factors, the authors determined that corn-based ethanol is the worst alternative overall.

"It's foolish to say we should be developing a particular biofuel when that could mean that we're just replacing one problem with another," said lead author Martha Groom of the UW Bothell. Co-authors are Elizabeth Gray of The Nature Conservancy and Patricia Townsend of the UW Seattle.

Other Alternatives

And other alternatives, i.e., fuel cells?

"Fuel cells will not work because they use platinum to catalyze the reactions. The precious metal is costly, toxic and not eco-friendly," Laser said.

What about all the talk on hydrogen?

Laser argues that Ron West, Professor University of Colorado talking about conversion of hydrogen to heat or electricity states, "the problem with hydrogen is that it takes a process called steam reforming (making hydrogen out of water) and it creates greenhouse gases".

"I admit hybrids cars are making more sense now with higher gas prices," said Laser, "but normally the cost of the cars was higher than the cost of the increase in gasoline."

He added, however: "There are no alternative fuel systems that can replace oil, natural gas or coal. At best, in 50 years, the best-recognized experts expect all alternatives could account for 30 percent of our energy needs."

Low Oil?

OK -- so let's say you're correct, and that global warming is a myth, and all of the other energy alternatives have major negative consequences. Aren't we in fact running out of oil?

"No," Laser said - and he couldn't have been more emphatic.

"We have enough oil to last hundreds of years right here on shore and off-shore. There are indications of Saudi type fields in Nevada and perhaps along the mid continent riff in Iowa and many other states we have billions of barrels off shore. Now Russia and Cuba have signed a pack to drill 40 miles off our shores and they will be getting oil we should be getting."

"It is simply a matter of price, demand and supply. There are no conspiracies," he said.

And in addition to the lack of drilling over the last 20 years, the rest of the world's economies, i.e., China, India and Pacific Rim countries like Korea, are catching up to the US in terms of energy consumption. More oil demand, combined with less drilling, equals higher gas prices.

This means, according to Laser, "we must implement a massive drilling program here in American on shore and off shore immediately.

What happens if we don't?

"We could easily see $30 a gallon gasoline or higher. In Europe it is now $11 a liter."

Laser was also adamant about one other thing:

"We do not hurt the environment. We don't hurt animals or plants. In fact, every place including Alaska where oil fields and pipelines have been installed, the animal life (caribou, elks, deer etc.) have increased substantially - in every case without exception, contrary to what you are hearing."

Laser said as well that "big companies do not find oil, they buy other's oil. The small independents find (75 percent) of the oil because the big companies do want to take risks that would affect shareholder value. Big government is putting the small companies out of business with excessive regulation. This makes Americans pay more and more at the pump."

As well, he said, "electricity rates will go sky high if we don't continue to drill for natural gas. We have enough natural gas to last hundreds of years right here in the US, but we need pipelines and now congress is promoting a bill to cut natural gas exploration in the US."

Not Fossil?

Laser closed with perhaps the most controversial of his views: a growing belief that oil is a renewable resource, and is not the result of death, transformation, and withdrawal of biological elements.

"Oil is not necessarily a fossil fuel," he said. "More scientists (Thomas Gold) are accepting the theory that oil and natural gas comes from methane created above the mantel and crust of the earth where molecular changes occur. We have massive methane deposits under the artic ice the Russians want."

In fact, Laser said, "We have not drilled 1/10 of 1 percent of the world's potential oil reserves."

It is simply a matter of price, demand and supply," he says again. "There are no conspiracies - only government and environmentalists in the way."


Here are some truths:

1. US has plenty of oil (true), onshore and offshore. Shale on shore, offshore N Slope/Eastern Gulf/Deepwater - then there's Mexico deep water (along the sea border, the US has some really large fields like Mars, Mexico hasn't begun looking (and is only replacing 35% of its annual needs s0 theres a recipe for disaster).

2. Generally speaking only 30 to 33 $ of oil is recovered in primary through tertiary, so there's de facto a lot still down there in old larger fields. Schlumberger are developing technology for down-well microwaves to agitate more out - think if they lift this by 3 to 5%.......

3. Globally Brazil's Petrobras (with BG) have announced two massive

offshore fields this year and end of last year (3^rd largest

ever). This will take 3 to 5 years to bring on shore (like any

offshore field). The recoverable reserves (now 30 bln bbl) seem to continually climb.

4. Saudi may well be screwed - When OPEC was created the power

division was organized on the basis of reserves so there were a

lot of false numbers kicking around. On the upside, the Arctic and Antarctic are thought to be rich - why all the tension and

ding-dongs over the ice in Canada and the N. Pole?

5. Oil price is thought to be $25-30 too high as OPEC is using oil as a hedge to the dollar devaluation. Stabilize the politics over here and stand back - i.e. running into the Autumn with the election. Refinery loadings are well down and companies like Valero (refining and marketing only), well their numbers were way off last quarter. UK demand is down over 5% and US is about 4%.

China and India by necessity are having to throttle back. Shell's views are radical in that they predict 30-50 buck oil on the snap back (Congressional hearing last week). Exxon/BP/Conoco not as bearish at 80 to 90. But a lot of industry watchers think there will be a major correction shortly, not withstanding geo-politics and hurricanes. It's crazy when a power unit on the North Slope goes down affecting 80kb/d of BP's production and the market moves $4..

6. Ethanol from corn is not energy efficient and yes is part about the farmers and being seen to do something. Biodiesels have their issues with combustibility and NOx. Ethabol from waste makes far more sense but cant be scaled up to the same size as conventional - the issue is keeping the C5 sugars (in stems/stalks etc) in the feed and yields. There are potential solutions (and my new co just being created has a number) to make all diesel have a better burn and in doing so, this will help the acceptability of bio-d 7. H2 is getting there - its where the gasoline engine was 100 years ago - it took 60 years from invention to full commercialization - two wild cards were Henry Ford and the discovery of gasoline rich crude in TX, CA and Pennsylvania.. H2 needs the same, especially over onboard storage (cost and weight) and the durability of fuel cells.

8. Global warming - well I have long been a global cooling fan -

nature doesn't perform in a linear line and bounces around. One

year or a decade does not represent a time line. Centuries

perhaps. In Medieval times they were growing red grapes in

England. By the 17^th C there were glaciers in Scotland (evidence is small terminal moraines in the corries). Also look at art, Breughel for example with his harsh winter scenes... In that time N Europe moved from being a grape based society to grain based when it came to booze. The planet can have a major impact on the climate - wit Krakatoa, a large bang but not a super-cauldera Jellystone, sorry Yellowstone and a similar one in Indonesia are those). Krakatoa went up in 1883 and then look at the winters that followed so lovingly depicted on the first Xmas cards...The Thames frozen over. CO2 and temp do not correlate by the way....CO2 went up during the 80s which was generally a very cool decade. Global warming is something we have to thank Thatch for - she needed proof/a platform against Arthur Scargill and her Central Planning team came up with this to justify nuclear and the bandwagon started rolling. I am not condoning what man does to the environment and we should be far more careful in our legacy and conservation of resources - I would like the argument to be put in better perspective though. By the way, the temperature drop last year (and this year so far) is true.. The solar flare argument is a good one and a lot of geologists now believe there is credibility..there's also a far better correlation of CO2 to temperature if you put a 300 year time lag in...(which would strengthen the doom and gloom merchant's hands actually).

So what would I do if I was in the HofP or the White House:

1. Cut or encourage the work week to move to 4 days of 10 hours. (One commute each way saved).

2. Use the extra tax being accrued of fuels to subsidize rail and bus, or at least the needy

3. Limit the speed limit or strongly enforce the existing one

4. Campaign for proper servicing of cars and trucks (as we waste away fuel economy)

5. Campaign for local farmers markets (lower transport costs -

usually) - now here we are on the very stony subject of Labour

attitudes and policy to rural Britain.

6. Campaign aggressively for upping aircon temperatures, the extra sweater in winter. A 1 degree F (0.5C) drop in room temp min summer here adds 9% to your bill. Look at your pool pump (runs to long). Look at you water temp (I bet that too's hot in summer) and look at your fridges/freezers (too cold). Televisions on/pcs/lights etc are not really worth it - they burn less than 12% of a typical house's usage over here. Associated with this tax incentivise insulation, window protection and solar usage..

7. Longer term must include encouraging new finds of oil - taxing oilcos, well whats that going to do, probably the converse in terms of disincentivising exploration- much to people's ignorance the ROE/ROI of an oil co is not that high and not as high as Supermarkets or Mr Gates et al. By the way, the UK could cut its excise duty back by 10p as a short-term measure or can Gordon afford that - probably not as he's too dependent. Cutting tax back in favor of a high mileage (i.e. tolls on the motorways as the French do (lower license fees over there), could be interesting and tax cars not heavy duty truck or at least tier it. Encourage investment into environmental clean-up and improvements in refineries. There's pressure over here to build new - but that's not going to solve anything re crude price...and its now a market where for the moment operating levels are going backwards....there are some daft democrats out there on this one. Wew even have had

our "Nationalise" cries - I say just take a look at Pemex for the effects of doing that.

8. There's not much you can do about the speculators...the US alone does not set the oil price and the global trading system does give a degree of market transparency.

9. Explore alternatives and encourage the Car Cos (and others such as us) to invest into new materials (a lot happening on the plastic front to have the strength of metal but get the weight off the car). One other area encourage drive by wire on new cars - this gets 100 to 150 kilos off as you don't need or the hydraulic systems (the new Jag sports and A-Martin have it aboard now). And as long as these gains in weight get translated into fuel economy and not power... Personally, we are looking at a new H2NOx trap system that would mean ¨ the weight of the conventional urea trap on a truck. This would lower the fuel usage of a heavy duty truck over here by $6000 per year on $90 oil...and its easier to handle, has no CO2 and operates in freezing weather (and a few other benefits).

Having read the above, what conclusions have you arrived at and would you like to add a comment?
Nov 6, 2005
There's a world shortage of diesel which is going to get significantly worse. It's not as simple (or complex!) as finding and extracting crude oil - it's also down to refinery capacity, which is limited, and diesel is a relatively fixed percentage as a product of oil refining so that making more will produce a "glut" of petrol - this means that the differential between petrol and diesel will widen until demand is balanced out.
Mar 13, 2007
just one word. complete rubbish, ok thats two words.

oil men spouting the benifits of oil and denying any envormental damage WHAT A real alternatives WHAT A SUPPRISE. america is blameless no such thing as global warming it's global cooling thats why the ice caps are melting and they can prove it with with micky mouse type studies. WHAT A SUPRISE.

they should all be tied to a well head and set on fire.

on second thought can't do that it might add to the global cooling.

the only thing forcing up the price of oil is greed the higher the price the more money it makes simple as that.

Aug 4, 2004
I may or may not agree with everything said, but one thing is for sure, Global warming is a total myth! It just another way for the government to con us out of out hard earned wages.
Aug 8, 2007
...and the award for 'Longest Possible Posting That Most People Might Start Reading But Give Up Half Way Through' goes to....

(drum roll...opening envelope)

Apr 28, 2008
Mmmmm. Ohhhh Yessss. I love these debates.

If you think about it though, the final product we extract from the garage pumps aren't that expensive. It's the ******** Duty that the ******** Government put on it.

Please correct me if I'm wrong but duty on petrol at the moment is 75 pence in every pound we spend. Imagane the money the government are making NOW.

If our government were for the people they would have made some kind of attempt to ballance the cost out by dropping duty a tad. At least until this "oil Crisis" (that knowone seems to have a straight answer for) is over.

If things are tight, I don't mind putting my hand in my pocket but it's all TAKE TAKE TAKE. It's about time someone gave something back.

Thats me done.

Whew... I feel better
Jul 1, 2006
Once more the Global Warming Evangelists reply monosyllabically.

A true scientific debate weighs both sets of evidence and enters a lively discussion. Often there is no true definition of who is right ON THE EVIDENCE AVAILABLE AT THE TIME. Often more is needed before theory becomes fact. Personally I think we are a long way from that state yet on this debate. Is the earth warming? maybe maybe not depending what statistics you care to believe ('there are lies, damn lies and statistics')

The pro-global warmists tend to poo-poo date from anti-global warmists by stating that all there research is funded by filthy corrupt oil companies, implying that the pro-global warming data is incorruptible. Scientists like to feed there families and live in shelter like everyone else (yes I do!!) and these days much research grant money comes from governments. If you want it you have to satisfy the purse-string holders your research is 'correct'. look back at the 'eighties, government research funds were awash with money if you researched on AIDS. The number of research groups who suddenly had unique ideas in AIDs research was unbelievable (yes I was there). Once government lost interest, money went elsewhere. Now, all governments are fixated on climate change and global warming but with only one view point. Why?

Equally, all scientists need publications for their careers but when even long-standing journals refuse to take opposing viewpoints what message does that send out if you need to eat and live? Global Warming has become politicised just like AIDs did.

One very well researched and written alternative viewpoint is 'Nature Not Human Activity Rules The Climate' (GOOGLE 'NIPCC'). They clearly state theirs is a second opinion which every thinking person should take into consideration. The statistics in it are as far as I am concerned as valid as those from the opposition viewpoints. For the ordinary lay-person (or non climate-scientist scientist) the difficulty lies in viewing the ORIGINAL DATA used for all these assessments on both sides to formulate our own views of correctness. We have to rely on the review of that data by the authors. Remember, forgetting the enormity of nuclear weapons per se, eminent scientists at the time of their development were convinced by their calculations that the nuclear bomb would set light to the whole atmosphere and destroy, with one explosion, the entire earth.

Bottom line is, is global warming a unique event. Well 5000 years ago our ancestors could walk to France before sea-levels rose 30 metres. Vast ice-sheets stretching to the north of London dissappeared and in medieval times Britain grew grapes. Is this relevant to today?

Well, weather forecasters are lucky to get the weather right 5 days in advance so who knows, but never take ANYTHING a government says for gospel, especially if nice fat tax rises can be justified.
Nov 6, 2005
Global warming, and cooling, has happened several times over history - but never at the rate we're currently experiencing - changes are occuring in 5-10 year periods that took 500-1000 years in previous changes. Nature simply can't adapt that quickly.
Apr 28, 2008
We're all dooooomed.

Are there any caravans that you can tow with a motorbike? I recon in 3 or 4 year time, that's all this country will be able to afford to run.

Appart from the rich and famous of course.
Dec 10, 2007
Can't be bothered to read all the pre-amble; the simple fact of the matter is that we are still coming out of the last ice age and no one knows how this process works on a year-on-year basis. It is likely that all ice caps will melt entirely before a reversal into a new ice age (the fifth) when ice will again cover half of the UK (the last ice age saw ice as far south as Reading). All in all several million/billion people will get irrate being displaced with no food, no power, no TV, etc, but not tomorrow!
Mar 14, 2005
I have absolutely no doubt that climate change is occurring, It has done ever since the earth was created, and it will continue until it is no longer around.

What I am undecided about is whether the current changes are natural or accelerated or caused by by human activity. The protestations of scientists and sooth sayers both for or against a human causality are at best based on incomplete data and worst just a vote or tax winner or a back hander from an interested party.

However, and regardless of the truth about the causes of climate change, we should all be looking at how we use the finite resources the earth delivers up. Fundamentally these resources are fuel or energy, but it also applies to other commodities.

The current' fuel shortage' is politically created. There is sufficient crude oil around to meet our present demand, its just not being processed or released for sale. But our current rate of usage cannot be sustained indefinitely as the reserves of crude are finite.

We should be looking at alternative strategies both to use fuels more efficiently, and to look for alternative sources of energy which might be renewables, or solar, hydro or wind etc.

Waste of any kind should be minimised, it actually makes good sense as it usually saves money .

Your own efforts of saving may not make a massive difference to the world picture, but it can make a difference to you as you will not have to spend so much.
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