Bush's ethanol plan getting cold shoulder
If US President Bush thought he had the remedy for his country's oil woes when he proposed an increase in ethanol production, he's getting no support in the boardroom of the world's biggest energy company and no respect in the stock market, where producers of the corn-based fuel are among the biggest losers. The State of the Union address last week made ethanol the centrepiece of a plan to reduce gasoline consumption 20% in 10 years by raising the federal mandate for renewable fuel use almost fivefold to 35 billion gallons a year by 2017. Shares of ethanol producers Archer-Daniels-Midland, Pacific Ethanol and Xethanol have lost between 25% and 63% of their value since July 14, when oil peaked at US$78.40 a barrel. Pacific Ethanol fell another 3% since Bush's speech.
Exxon Mobil, the world's largest publicly traded energy company, considers ethanol irrelevant as a solution to an addiction that forces the US to import two-thirds of its oil. No “viable, meaningful business proposition” exists for Exxon in ethanol, svp Stuart McGill told investors at a Jan. 17 conference arranged by Goldman Sachs Group. “The nature of the science as it stands today and the technology involved requires significant forms of subsidies and mandates to make a lot of sense,” McGill said. Ethanol, after almost doubling in price in five years, is falling as prices for corn, the main raw material for the fuel in the US, reach the highest in a decade. Crude oil has tumbled 31% from its July record to $54.01 a barrel, cutting gasoline prices. Oil must be above $70 for ethanol to be profitable, according to research by Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. “The gold rush is over,” said Michael Liebreich, ceo of London-based New Energy Finance, which advises investors in clean energy. “Many of the new plants that have been announced will never see the light of the day.”
(Globe and Mail 070130)
...and the price isn't going to go up again? Cheeses! What are they thinking? This is why the current state of corporate mentality is dangerous and will end up killing us all. They are only interested in what the price is today and how that's going to affect the bottom line. If they could only pull their head out of their asses and look more than six months into the future they would see that the urgency to start diversifying is growing by the day and the more days we postpone this, the more painful the transition is going to be. Like I've said, the corporations control everything, and their way of doing things are anti-human. Their decisions are dangerous to our well-being as individuals, communities, nations yet we let them grow progressively more greedy and short-sighted. Holy shit.
Tories' oil sands estimates exceed industry's
The promise of production from Alberta's oil sands appears to grow exponentially the farther Conservative cabinet ministers get from Ottawa. And by the time they reach China, all caution is lost. In the House of Commons yesterday, Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn rejected concerns that a breakneck development in the oil sands would swamp the Conservative government's climate change strategy. He suggested production there is unlikely to exceed 3.1 million barrels a day within the next 10 years, although that's still triple what companies now pump out of the high-cost, heavily polluting oil sands. Still, his lowball estimate doesn't square with Prime Minister Stephen Harper's effort to tout the country's potential as an energy superpower. In New York this fall, the Prime Minister said oil sands production was expected to hit four million barrels a day by 2015. But on a recent trip to China, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty played a little Texas hold 'em with the oil sands estimates, seeing Harper's four-million-barrel forecast and raising it another 600,000. Flaherty told Chinese business people they are missing an enormous opportunity. “Between now and 2015, energy investment in Canada is projected to be about $400-billion,” he boasted. “Production from Alberta's oil sands stands at about 2.5 million barrels a day now, and is on its way to 4.6 million barrels per day by 2015.” In fact, oil sands production now stands at about 1.1 million barrels a day, and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers says its most optimistic forecast has it growing to 3.5 million by 2015.
(Globe and Mail 070130)
...and then there's the Canadian politicians. Holy crap. These guys are a piece of work. So much for concern over Kyoto and such, as long as they can fill their coffers with foreign investment dollars, they don't give a flying fuck about anything else. Their reaction is a strong indication of what is wrong in Ottawa and how much they really care about wanting what is best for the Canadian public. What a bunch of losers.
Don't expect ‘energy independence' to clear the air on climate change
Column - US politicians, environmentalists and business leaders have finally found a green banner under which they can all proudly stand: energy independence. It's one of those phrases that sounds good, but can mean different things to different folks. And no one should confuse policies that promote energy independence with ones designed to combat climate change. And yet that's precisely what US President Bush did last week in his State of the Union speech. Yes, it's true that the US is more dependent than ever on imported oil. At the time of the first Middle East oil shock in 1973, the US imported 34.8% of its oil. Today, the figure is 60.3%. And while that figure seems ominous, it's worth breaking down where those imports come from. The three largest suppliers of crude to the US - Canada, Mexico and Saudi Arabia - are countries the US considers reliable allies. Those three suppliers alone represent about 40% of the roughly 12.5 million barrels a day that the US imports. Add in other friendly exporters, and more than half of US imports are from secure sources. The US also produces 40% of its own oil. So, arguably, roughly 70% of the US supply is already in safe hands. Like all imported oil, the rest is bought on the open market, from sometimes dodgy places such as Venezuela, Iraq and Nigeria that desperately need to sell their oil. Even those figures may not tell the whole story. Large oil multinationals, many based in the US, or heavily invested here, control the search, development and flow of oil - even in the most unsavoury countries. It makes sense that the world would be a safer place if more oil was in unthreatening hands. But what level of independence would make Americans feel less vulnerable? 80%? 100%? And what price are Americans willing to pay for independence? Would energy independence lower energy prices? Would it curb greenhouse gas emissions? Not likely. Maybe someone is framing the debate all wrong. If the US is serious about climate change and energy diversity, it should tackle those issues head on, and then craft policies to achieve those ends. But striving for energy independence may have just the opposite effect. Shifting to more coal or drilling for more oil in Alaska would accelerate climate change and do nothing to diversify US supply. Likewise, ramping up production of corn-based ethanol would undeniably boost energy independence, but would almost certainly produce more greenhouse gas emissions. Corn requires vast amounts of fertilizer, which in turn depends on natural gas. The electricity used to power ethanol plants must come from somewhere - coal, gas or oil. Pushing energy independence is a diversion that could make it less likely the US embraces conservation.
(Globe and Mail 070130)
So, let me get this straight. The US can't afford to import 60% or more of their oil for security reasons, but to drill domestically doesn't diversify the supply. Ethanol production is energy-intensive to produce and also pollutes in the process. If the supply suddenly dropped even 5%, prices would skyrocket and stuff would start falling apart. What I get out of this is that there are no easy solutions, not even close. Up shit creek without a paddle anyone? The 'easiest' solutions -- conservation and contraction -- are smacking the politicians and corporate hacks square in the face but they don't dare utter one of the c-words to the American public (we'll deal with Jevon's paradox another day)...
....that would be bad for business. A rough ride is inevitable and they're trying to keep the party going for as long as possible until something sudden and tragic fucks it all up. I can't believe that the well-being of all of us boils down to the decisions made by these delusional sociopaths that are running our dominant institutions and industrial society into the dirt. Something must be done to change things, and fast.