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Shale, the Last Oil and Gas Train: Interview with Arthur Berman

Shale, the Last Oil and Gas Train: Interview with Arthur Berman.

How much faith can we put in our ability to decipher all the numbers out there telling us the US is closing in on its cornering of the global oil market? There’s another side to the story of the relentless US shale boom, one that says that some of the numbers are misunderstood, while others are simply preposterous. The truth of the matter is that the industry has to make such a big deal out of shale because it’s all that’s left. There are some good things happening behind the fairy tale numbers, though—it’s just a matter of deciphering them from a sober perspective.

In a second exclusive interview with James Stafford of Oilprice.com, energy expert Arthur Berman discusses:

•    Why US gas supply growth rests solely on Marcellus
•    When Bakken and Eagle Ford will peak
•    The eyebrow-raising predictions for the Permian Basin
•    Why outrageous claims should have oil lawyers running for cover
•    Why everyone’s making such a big deal about shale
•    The only way to make the shale gas boom sustainable
•    Why some analysts need their math examined
•    Why it’s not just about how much gas we produce
•    Why investors are starting to ask questions
•    Why new industries, not technologies will make the next boom
•    Why we’ll never hit the oil and gas ‘wall’
•    Why companies could use a little supply-and-demand discipline
•    Why ‘fire ice’ makes sense (in Japan)
•    Why the US crude export debate will be ‘silly’

Arthur is a geological consultant with thirty-four years of experience in petroleum exploration and production. He is currently consulting for several E&P companies and capital groups in the energy sector. He frequently gives keynote addresses for investment conferences and is interviewed about energy topics on television, radio, and national print and web publications including CNBC, CNN, Platt’s Energy Week, BNN, Bloomberg, Platt’s, Financial Times, and New York Times. You can find out more about Arthur by visiting his website: http://petroleumtruthreport.blogspot.com

Oilprice.com: Almost on a daily basis we have figures thrown at us to demonstrate how the shale boom is only getting started. Mostly recently, there are statements to the effect that Texas shale formations will produce up to one-third of the global oil supply over the next 10 years. Is there another story behind these figures?

Arthur Berman: First, we have to distinguish between shale gas and liquids plays. On the gas side, all shale gas plays except the Marcellus are in decline or flat. The growth of US supply rests solely on the Marcellus and it is unlikely that its growth can continue at present rates. On the oil side, the Bakken has a considerable commercial area that is perhaps only one-third developed so we see Bakken production continuing for several years before peaking. The Eagle Ford also has significant commercial area but is showing signs that production may be flattening. Nevertheless, we see 5 or so more years of continuing Eagle Ford production activity before peaking. The EIA has is about right for the liquids plays–slower increases until later in the decade, and then decline.

The idea that Texas shales will produce one-third of global oil supply is preposterous. The Eagle Ford and the Bakken comprise 80% of all the US liquids growth. The Permian basin has notable oil reserves left but mostly from very small accumulations and low-rate wells. EOG CEO Bill Thomas said the same thing about 10 days ago on EOG’s earnings call. There have been some truly outrageous claims made by some executives about the Permian basin in recent months that I suspect have their general counsels looking for a defibrillator.

Recently, the CEO of a major oil company told The Houston Chronicle that the shale revolution is only in the “first inning of a nine-inning game”. I guess he must have lost track of the score while waiting in line for hot dogs because production growth in U.S. shale gas plays excluding the Marcellus is approaching zero; growth in the Bakken and Eagle Ford has fallen from 33% in mid-2011 to 7% in late 2013.

Oil companies have to make a big deal about shale plays because that is all that is left in the world. Let’s face it: these are truly awful reservoir rocks and that is why we waited until all more attractive opportunities were exhausted before developing them. It is completely unreasonable to expect better performance from bad reservoirs than from better reservoirs.

The majors have shown that they cannot replace reserves. They talk about return on capital employed (ROCE) these days instead of reserve replacement and production growth because there is nothing to talk about there. Shale plays are part of the ROCE story–shale wells can be drilled and brought on production fairly quickly and this masks or smoothes out the non-productive capital languishing in big projects around the world like Kashagan and Gorgon, which are going sideways whilst eating up billions of dollars.

None of this is meant to be negative. I’m all for shale plays but let’s be honest about things, after all!  Production from shale is not a revolution; it’s a retirement party.

OP: Is the shale “boom” sustainable?

Arthur Berman: The shale gas boom is not sustainable except at higher gas prices in the US. There is lots of gas–just not that much that is commercial at current prices. Analysts that say there are trillions of cubic feet of commercial gas at $4 need their cost assumptions audited. If they are not counting overhead (G&A) and many operating costs, then of course things look good. If Walmart were evaluated solely on the difference between wholesale and retail prices, they would look fantastic. But they need stores, employees, gas and electricity, advertising and distribution. So do gas producers. I don’t know where these guys get their reserves either, but that needs to be audited as well.

There was a report recently that said large areas of the Barnett Shale are commercial at $4 gas prices and that the play will continue to produce lots of gas for decades. Some people get so intrigued with how much gas has been produced and could be in the future, that they don’t seem to understand that this is a business. A business must be commercial to be successful over the long term, although many public companies in the US seem to challenge that concept.

Investors have tolerated a lot of cheerleading about shale gas over the years, but I don’t think this is going to last. Investors are starting to ask questions, such as: Where are the earnings and the free cash flow. Shale companies are spending a lot more than they are earning, and that has not changed. They are claiming all sorts of efficiency gains on the drilling side that has distracted inquiring investors for awhile. I was looking through some investor presentations from 2007 and 2008 and the same companies were making the same efficiency claims then as they are now. The problem is that these impressive gains never show up in the balance sheets, so I guess they must not be very important after all.

The reason that the shale gas boom is not sustainable at current prices is that shale gas is not the whole story. Conventional gas accounts for almost 60% of US gas and it is declining at about 20% per year and no one is drilling more wells in these plays. The unconventional gas plays decline at more than 30% each year. Taken together, the US needs to replace 19 billion cubic feet per day each year to maintain production at flat levels. That’s almost four Barnett shale plays at full production each year! So you can see how hard it will be to sustain gas production. Then there are all the efforts to use it up faster–natural gas vehicles, exports to Mexico, LNG exports, closing coal and nuclear plants–so it only gets harder.

This winter, things have begun to unravel. Comparative gas storage inventories are near their 2003 low. Sure, weather is the main factor but that’s always the case. The simple truth is that supply has not been able to adequately meet winter demand this year, period. Say what you will about why but it’s a fact that is inconsistent with the fairy tales we continue to hear about cheap, abundant gas forever.

I sat across the table from industry experts just a year ago or so who were adamant that natural gas prices would never get above $4 again. Prices have been above $4 for almost three months. Maybe “never” has a different meaning for those people that doesn’t include when they are wrong.

OP: Do you foresee any new technology on the shelf in the next 10-20 years that would shape another boom, whether it be fossil fuels or renewables?

Arthur Berman: I get asked about new technology that could make things different all the time. I’m a technology enthusiast but I see the big breakthroughs in new industries, not old extractive businesses like oil and gas. Technology has made many things possible in my lifetime including shale and deep-water production, but it hasn’t made these things cheaper.

That’s my whole point about shale plays–they’re expensive and need high oil and gas prices to work. We’ve got the high prices for oil and the oil plays are fine; we don’t have high prices for the gas plays and they aren’t working. There are some areas of the Marcellus that actually work at $4 gas price and that’s great, but it really takes $6 gas prices before things open up even there.

OP: In Europe, where do you see the most potential for shale gas exploitation, with Ukraine engulfed in political chaos, companies withdrawing from Poland, and a flurry of shale activity in the UK?

Arthur Berman: Shale plays will eventually spread to Europe but it will take a longer time than it did in North America. The biggest reason is the lack of private mineral ownership in most of Europe so there is no incentive for local people to get on board. In fact, there are only the negative factors of industrial development for them to look forward to with no pay check. It’s also a lot more expensive to drill and produce gas in Europe.

There are a few promising shale plays on the international horizon:  the Bazherov in Russia, the Vaca Muerte in Argentina and the Duvernay in Canada look best to me because they are liquid-prone and in countries where acceptable fiscal terms and necessary infrastructure are feasible.  At the same time, we have learned that not all plays work even though they look good on paper, and that the potentially commercial areas are always quite small compared to the total resource.  Also, we know that these plays do not last forever and that once the drilling treadmill starts, it never ends.  Because of high decline rates, new wells must constantly be drilled to maintain production.  Shale plays will last years, not decades.

Recent developments in Poland demonstrate some of the problems with international shale plays.  Everyone got excited a few years ago because resource estimates were enormous.  Later, these estimates were cut but many companies moved forward and wells have been drilled.  Most international companies have abandoned the project including ExxonMobil, ENI, Marathon and Talisman.  Some players exited because they don’t think that the geology is right but the government has created many regulatory obstacles that have caused a lack of confidence in the fiscal environment in Poland.

The UK could really use the gas from the Bowland Shale and, while it’s not a huge play, there is enough there to make a difference. I expect there will be plenty of opposition because people in the UK are very sensitive about the environment and there is just no way to hide the fact that shale development has a big footprint despite pad drilling and industry efforts to make it less invasive.

Let me say a few things about resource estimates while we are on the subject.  The public and politicians do not understand the difference between resources and reserves.  The only think that they have in common is that they both begin with “res.”  Reserves are a tiny subset of resources that can be produced commercially.  Both are always wrong but resource estimates can be hugely misleading because they are guesses and have nothing to do with economics.

Someone recently sent me a new report by the CSIS that said U.S. shale gas resource estimates are too conservative and are much larger than previously believed.  I wrote him back that I think that resource estimates for U.S. shale gas plays are irrelevant because now we have robust production data to work with.  Most of those enormous resources are in plays that we already know are not going to be economic.  Resource estimates have become part of the shale gas cheerleading squad’s standard tricks to drum up enthusiasm for plays that clearly don’t work except at higher gas prices.  It’s really unfortunate when supposedly objective policy organizations and research groups get in on the hype in order to attract funding for their work.

OP: The ban on most US crude exports in place since the Arab oil embargo of 1973 is now being challenged by lobbyists, with media opining that this could be the biggest energy debate of the year in the US. How do you foresee this debate shaping up by the end of this year?

Arthur Berman: The debate over oil and gas exports will be silly.

I do not favor regulation of either oil or gas exports from the US. On the other hand, I think that a little discipline by the E&P companies might be in order so they don’t have to beg the American people to bail them out of the over-production mess that they have created knowingly for themselves. Any business that over-produces whatever it makes has to live with lower prices. Why should oil and gas producers get a pass from the free-market laws of supply and demand?

I expect that by the time all the construction is completed to allow gas export, the domestic price will be high enough not to bother. It amazes me that the geniuses behind gas export assume that the business conditions that resulted in a price benefit overseas will remain static until they finish building export facilities, and that the competition will simply stand by when the awesome Americans bring gas to their markets. Just last week, Ken Medlock described how some schemes to send gas to Asia may find that there will be a lot of price competition in the future because a lot of gas has been discovered elsewhere in the world.

The US acts like we are some kind of natural gas superstar because of shale gas. Has anyone looked at how the US stacks up next to Russia, Iran and Qatar for natural gas reserves?

Whatever outcome results from the debate over petroleum exports, it will result in higher prices for American consumers. There are experts who argue that it won’t increase prices much and that the economic benefits will outweigh higher costs. That may be but I doubt that anyone knows for sure. Everyone agrees that oil and gas will cost more if we allow exports.

OP: Is the US indeed close to hitting the “crude wall”—the point at which production could slow due to infrastructure and regulatory restraints?

Arthur Berman: No matter how much or little regulation there is, people will always argue that it is still either too much or too little. We have one of the most unfriendly administrations toward oil and gas ever and yet production has boomed. I already said that I oppose most regulation so you know where I stand. That said, once a bureaucracy is started, it seldom gets smaller or weaker. I don’t see any walls out there, just uncomfortable price increases because of unnecessary regulations.

We use and need too much oil and gas to hit a wall. I see most of the focus on health care regulation for now. If there is no success at modifying the most objectionable parts of the Affordable Care Act, I don’t suppose there is much hope for fewer oil and gas regulations. The petroleum business isn’t exactly the darling of the people.

OP: What is the realistic future of methane hydrates, or “fire ice”, particularly with regard to Japanese efforts at extraction?

Arthur Berman: Japan is desperate for energy especially since they cut back their nuclear program so maybe hydrates make some sense at least as a science project for them. Their pilot is in thousands of feet of water about 30 miles offshore so it’s going to be very expensive no matter how successful it is.

OP: Globally, where should we look for the next potential “shale boom” from a geological perspective as well as a commercial viability perspective?

Arthur Berman: Not all shale is equal or appropriate for oil and gas development. Once we remove all the shale that is not at or somewhat above peak oil generation today, most of it goes away. Some shale plays that meet these and other criteria didn’t work so we have a lot to learn. But shale development is both inevitable and necessary. It will take a longer time than many believe outside of North America.

OP: We’ve spoken about Japan’s nuclear energy crossroads before, and now we see that issue climaxing, with the country’s nuclear future taking center-stage in an election period. Do you still believe it is too early for Japan to pull the plug on nuclear energy entirely?

Arthur Berman: Japan and Germany have made certain decisions about nuclear energy that I find remarkable but I don’t live there and, obviously, don’t think like them.

More generally, environmental enthusiasts simply don’t see the obstacles to short-term conversion of a fossil fuel economy to one based on renewable energy. I don’t see that there is a rational basis for dialogue in this arena. I’m all in favor of renewable energy but I don’t see going from a few percent of our primary energy consumption to even 20% in less than a few decades no matter how much we may want to.

OP: What have we learned over the past year about Japan’s alternatives to nuclear energy?

Arthur Berman: We have learned that it takes a lot of coal to replace nuclear energy when countries like Japan and Germany made bold decisions to close nuclear capacity. We also learned that energy got very expensive in a hurry. I say that we learned. I mean that the past year confirmed what many of us anticipated.

OP: Back in the US, we have closely followed the blowback from the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed new carbon emissions standards for power plants, which would make it impossible for new coal-fired plants to be built without the implementation of carbon capture and sequestration technology, or “clean-coal” tech. Is this a feasible strategy in your opinion?

Arthur Berman: I’m not an expert on clean coal technology either but I am confident that almost anything is possible if cost doesn’t matter. This is as true about carbon capture from coal as it is about shale gas production. Energy is an incredibly complex topic and decisions are being made by bureaucrats and politicians with little background in energy or the energy business. I don’t see any possibility of a good outcome under these circumstances.

OP: Is CCS far enough along to serve as a sound basis for a national climate change policy?

Arthur Berman: Climate-change activism is a train that has left the station. If you’ve missed it, too bad. If you’re on board, good luck.

The good news is that the US does not have an energy policy and is equally unlikely to get a climate change policy for all of the same reasons. I fear putting climate change policy in the hands of bureaucrats and politicians more than I fear climate change (which I fear).

See our previous interview with Arthur Berman.

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Peak Oil Denial: Reality Is Still Here – Peak Oil Matters

Peak Oil Denial: Reality Is Still Here – Peak Oil Matters.

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At the risk of starting a cat fight where truth may too quickly become a casualty, why don’t we more forcefully challenge those who deny peak oil (and global warming) and who do so for reasons that generally ignore reality in favor of narrowly-defined interests? Those motivations will ultimately do nothing but promote more eventual harm by denying the truths to those who clearly need them the most….
Of course, we run the risk of getting bogged down in he said/she-said arguments that quickly devolve into the lowest forms of ‘debate’, but why let those types of offerings go unchallenged? They feed on themselves, and it is tiresome and time-consuming to have to rebut all the nonsense. But if we don’t, uninformed readers and listeners have no reason to at least consider the possibility that there may indeed be other facts out there that should at least be examined in order to make informed assessments, rather than accepting the words of the few. More information is rarely a bad thing, and giving everyone the opportunity to examine the facts and engage in rational discourse as a means of seeking common ground makes for a healthier and more productive society.

That’s from a post I wrote three years ago, and my attitude hasn’t wavered. The constant flow of articles and opinions give me yet more opportunities to bat down the nonsense passing as advice and learned observations about the world of energy supply.

“VAST” RESERVES

So-called environmentalists never tire of predicting the end of oil. They’ve been talking about ‘peak oil’ for decades, after which annual production would inevitably decline as we drain the world’s finite supply.
In fact, proven reserves (oil that we know is there and is recoverable with current technology and under current law) have been steadily rising, despite the fact that the world pumps 83.9 million barrels a day out of the ground, a 32 percent increase over 20 years ago. New techniques, such as fracking and horizontal drilling, have brought new life to both old fields and new ones whose oil had previously been unrecoverable. And vast new fields, such as the giant finds off the coast of Brazil, have added new reserves. [1]

If we could ignore facts and context, that message would carry so much more genuine weight than it does. But since the article’s word count restrictions must have prevented the author from adding a few relevant facts and a bit of context, I’ll be generous and add some here. My post, my word count limitations.

The “rising reserves” argument is one of the Right’s key talking points, and a good one! Impressive numbers; brief and to the point; fairly simple in delivery and understanding; a taste of mankind’s impressive ingenuity and technological prowess, and we have vast, abundant, energy supply lift-off!

A year ago, I offered some commentary (ably assisted by observations from peers much more knowledgeable than me) about “reserves” and resources. From Chris Nelder, for example:

It is not about oil reserves (oil that has been proved to exist and to be producible at a profit), or resources (oil that may exist in the ground, irrespective of its potential to be produced profitably). Those quantities do play a role in estimating the peak, but do not determine it in any way….
[I]f you’re not talking about data on oil production rates, or the general topic of reaching the peak rate, then you’re not talking about peak oil. [2]

And as I have also noted previously, echoing a comment offered by others in the know:

‘Reserves’ do not equal available supply; not by a long shot. Quintuple the proved reserves figures if it floats your boat, but what might arguably be buried beneath the Earth’s surface offers exactly zero assurance it will in fact be produced economically, practically, or efficiently…. And let’s not forget amid all of this great news the fact that we have been using for decades is being drawn down each and every day, and so much of what will be produced going forward will first have to match depletion rates before we marvel at their substitute potential … while billions around the world strive to improve their conditions … using more of the energy resources still available.

ABOUT BRAZIL….

Just as unfortunate for the denial crowd, those Brazilian “giant finds” are not-so-giant—if actual production matters. (The numbers look and sound great, and in a contest with those points as sole criteria, Happy Talk is in the lead!)

When fields said to hold billions of barrels of oil were discovered off the coast here, exuberant government officials said the deep-sea prize would turn Brazil into a major energy player.
More than six years later, the outlook for Brazil’s oil industry, much like the Brazilian economy itself, is more sobering. Oil production is stagnant, the state-controlled oil company, Petrobras, is hobbled by debt, and foreign oil companies are wary of investing here. [3]

So close to good news! Facts still suck….

Undaunted, our fearless denier soldiers on:

We are a long way from seeing the end of oil as a major force in the world economy, but it is steadily losing its centrality. You would think that would be good news for environmentalists. But, of course, nothing is good news for them. Chicken Little runs the environmentalist public-relations operations, which goes a long way to explaining why fewer and fewer non-liberals listen to them anymore. [4]

He’s Right (of course)! Nothing makes us junior Chicken Littles happier than twisting Happy Talk stories into more sobering analyses. So of course those disinclined to appreciate facts, evidence, reality, logic, integrity, planning, etc., etc. are not going to waste their valuable time dealing with all of that sobering analyses based on facts, evidence, and reality! Nope!

They’ve got yarns to spin and narrow self-interests to protect, none of which are assisted by considerations that their exuberant assessments about today’s energy supply conditions don’t translate into anything resembling long-term. But if they can protect their interests and others are willing to buy what they’re selling with no questions asked, what’s the harm, Right?

Perhaps more of us should be asking that question….

~ My Photo: Good Harbor Beach, MA – 09.05.12

I invite you to view my other work at richardturcotte.com

 

TretiakAgendaEbookCoverFinal copy   political thriller

You can purchase it here or here.

LIfeWillAnswerEbookCoverFinal        Inquiries & Observations About How (And Why) Life Does   

                                                     … And Does Not, Work for Everyone

You can purchase it here or here.

[It’s also a separate blog at my other website]

       * LOOKING LEFT AND RIGHT

blog examining the liberal vs. conservative conflicts in our society

       * THE MIDDLE AGE FOLLIES

column offering a slightly skewed look at life for those of us on the north side of 50.

Looking Left and Right:

Inspiring Different Ideas,

Envisioning Better Tomorrows

Peak Oil Matters is dedicated to informing others about the significance and impact of Peak Oil—while adding observations about politics, ideology, transportation, and smart growth.

Sources:

[1] http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2013/11/18/the-decline-of-oil/; The Decline of Oil by John Steele Gordon – 11.18.13
[2] http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/energy-futurist/the-politics-of-peak-oil/326;The politics of peak oil by Chris Nelder – 02.01.12
[3] http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/brazils-oil-euphoria-hits-reality-hard/2014/01/05/0d213790-4d4b-11e3-bf60-c1ca136ae14a_story.html; Brazil’s oil euphoria hits reality hard by Juan Forero – 01.06.14
[4] John Steele Gordon, above

18% of global population lack access to electricity

18% of global population lack access to electricity.

2014 marks the start of the United Nations Decade of Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL), the international effort to bring modern and sustainable energy to everyone on the planet. IEA data collected over more than a decade have been vital to the push already, establishing the size of the problem and helping determine the resources necessary to allow every woman, man and child to benefit from the security and convenience that most already take for granted.

 

In the latest edition of its annual flagship publication, World Energy Outlook (WEO), the IEA provides the most recent estimate: nearly 1.3 billion people, or 18% of the world population, lacked access to electricity in 2011. While the number of those without electricity declined by 9 million from the previous year, the global population increased by about 76 million in 2011, according to the United Nations estimates, to top 7 billion.

 

And the modest decline in those lacking electricity obscured the fact that energy poverty either stagnated or worsened in some countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, as population growth outpaced energy access efforts. More than 95% of people without access to electricity live in sub-Saharan Africa or developing Asia. Over two-thirds of the population in sub-Saharan Africa had no modern energy in 2011, and the number of people without electricity access there will soon overtake the total in developing Asia. Among the far more numerous people in developing Asia, 17% did not have access to electricity in 2011.

 

As a special focus within its World Energy Outlook 2014 series, the IEA is conducting its most comprehensive analytical study to date of the energy outlook for Africa. Among other topics, the report will examine which policies, investments and infrastructure are required to expand access to reliable and affordable electricity supply on the continent.

 

Modern energy: vital to many development goals

 

The new push by the United Nations for universal access is part of the growing recognition, highlighted in the WEO, that modern energy is crucial to achieving a range of social and economic goals relating to poverty, health, education, equality and environmental sustainability. About 80 developing countries have signed up to the SE4All initiative, including many with the largest populations of those lacking access to modern energy. In addition, IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven is among the leaders who serve on the Advisory Board to the SE4All initiative.

 

The IEA joined with the World Bank to lead a project to create the Global Tracking Framework last year. That tool calculates the starting point to benchmark SE4All progress towards its 2030 objectives of achieving universal access to modern energy services while also doubling both the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency and the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix. The Global Tracking Framework published 2010 data for all of these objectives and has helped decision makers fully appreciate the scale of action that needs to be taken to meet the 2030 goals.

 

The latest WEO includes more recent and detailed data, highlighting areas of improvement. More people gained access to electricity in Bangladesh, Cameroon, Ghana, Indonesia, Mozambique, South Africa and Sri Lanka in 2011. India remained the country with the largest number of people without access to electricity, at 306 million, or a quarter of the population.

 

The previous edition of the WEO found that nearly USD 1 trillion in cumulative investment would bring universal access by 2030. That equates to USD 49 billion a year – or about five times what was being invested in 2009.

 

Under its central projections, the WEO shows a decline of more than 20% in the number of people without access to electricity by 2030, but that would still leave 12% of the world population without modern energy. The projections see the total number of people without electricity in 2030 falling by nearly half in developing Asia, to 324 million. But it will rise by 8% in sub-Saharan Africa, to 645 million.

 

The best news is that the current trajectory is expected to result in universal access in China, Latin America and the Middle East by 2030. Brazil, with its successful “Luz para Todos” (Light for All) programme, expects full access within a few years. Besides continued economic growth and urbanisation, which are general trends that support efforts to improve electricity access in emerging countries, there are specific programmes like the Power Africa initiative, which channel financing and technical expertise to assist national electrification plans.

 

Clean cooking and heating facilities

 

Access to electricity is not the only focus of IEA analysis of energy poverty. The WEO tracks the number of people who do not have clean cooking facilities, a far larger share of the global population at 38%. These 2.6 billion people rely on traditional biomass, usually wood, and their ranks increased by 54 million in 2011, as population growth outstripped improvements in providing better equipment. A further 200 million to 300 million people rely on coal for household cooking and heating.  Recent studies find that the household pollution from use of solid fuels kills 3.5 million people each year, and 4 million when the pollution’s effect on outdoor air is considered.

 

The WEO central projections see less of an improvement by 2030 in both the number and share of people cooking and heating with traditional biomass compared with those connecting to modern energy. The number without clean cooking facilities will shrink by less than 120 million people, to 30% of the population. While nearly 200 million Chinese will stop using traditional biomass, almost the same number more will be using it in sub-Saharan Africa. IEA

 

 

Game Changer: It Will Be Shocking for the Average American: "Your Cost of Living Will Quadruple"

Game Changer: It Will Be Shocking for the Average American: “Your Cost of Living Will Quadruple”.

Mac Slavo
March 9th, 2014
SHTFplan.com 

It’s no secret that the U.S. government is in serious fiscal trouble. So much so that our Treasury Secretary recently noted that should the debt ceiling fail to be increased, the fall-out would be “catastrophic” and last for generations.

Given that sobering report, consider that everything in America, from food to fuel, is subsidized in one way or another. Those subsidies are being paid with ever-increasing debt. It is inevitable that at some point the world’s reserve currency, the US dollar, will be wiped out. The trigger for such an event is irrelevant. What is relevant, is how average Americans will be affected when that day comes.

In recent months working Americans have seen their health care costs triple. But this is just the beginning. When America’s debt problems come to a head the subsidies will be removed, and that will lead to cost of living increases that will leave those who never saw it coming in a state of confusion and bewilderment with no way out.

Marin Katusa of Casey Research, who has met with business and political leaders in over one hundred countries and is one of the most successful contrarian investment analysts out there, has some thoughts on the matter.

It will be shocking for the average American… if the petro dollar dies and the U.S. loses its reserve currency status in the world there will be no middle class.

The middle class and the low class… wow… what a game changer. Your cost of living will quadruple.

In the following must-watch interview with the Sound Money Campaign, Marin outlines the reasons for why our cost of living is going through the roof, the effects of geo-politics on our future, and ways to insulate yourself from what’s coming.

(Watch at Youtube)

Imagine this… take a country like Croatia… the average worker with a university degree makes about 1200 Euros a month. He spends a third of that, after tax, on keeping his house warm and filling up his gas tank to get to work and get back from work.

In North America, we don’t make $1200 a month, and we don’t spend a third of our paycheck on keeping our house warm and driving to work… so, the cost of living… food will triple… heat, electricity, everything subsidized by the government will triple overnight… and it will only get worse even if you can get the services.

For the average citizen, they should be thinking, ‘I should store some gold here and there as insurance for all of this.’

Now, I don’t know when it will happen. But it will happen, because it’s happened to all currencies.

I don’t think the people of Rome thought that Rome would ever fall as an empire… but it did.

So, you have to be prepared and protect your family. That’s why you want leverage to things that have major upside when the dollar does collapse. And the best insurance for that is gold.

As Marin notes, the assets you hold should be such that they maintain or increase their value as the Petrol dollar crashes and America’s debt bubble bursts.

For those with retirement investments like 401k’s, IRA’s or cash, Marin suggests you look to healthy gold companies as insurance. Back in the Great Depression of the 1930′s, as stocks crashed and then stagnated, those with investments in gold mining companies were able to not only preserve wealth, but grow it.

Those who prefer to keep their assets in physical holdings should look to gold and silver bullion, as well as those items that will become difficult to obtain when prices sky rocket. These core physical assets might mean long-term food stores, land with productive capacity, and personal energy production facilities that may include wind, solar or hydro.

If there is one trend that has taken hold over the last decade it’s continued price rises for the basic necessities of modern life. Given that we are now in more debt as a nation and individuals than ever before, it’s not hard to see where this is headed.

If you need a mainstream forecast to confirm what’s going to happen, then we point you to the words of President Barack Obama, who several years ago stated unequivocally that, “electricity rates will necessarily skyrocket.” He should know, because his policies are a significant contribution to what’s going to happen in the very near future.

Look out below.

dollar-value

Game Changer: It Will Be Shocking for the Average American: “Your Cost of Living Will Quadruple”

Game Changer: It Will Be Shocking for the Average American: “Your Cost of Living Will Quadruple”.

Mac Slavo
March 9th, 2014
SHTFplan.com 

It’s no secret that the U.S. government is in serious fiscal trouble. So much so that our Treasury Secretary recently noted that should the debt ceiling fail to be increased, the fall-out would be “catastrophic” and last for generations.

Given that sobering report, consider that everything in America, from food to fuel, is subsidized in one way or another. Those subsidies are being paid with ever-increasing debt. It is inevitable that at some point the world’s reserve currency, the US dollar, will be wiped out. The trigger for such an event is irrelevant. What is relevant, is how average Americans will be affected when that day comes.

In recent months working Americans have seen their health care costs triple. But this is just the beginning. When America’s debt problems come to a head the subsidies will be removed, and that will lead to cost of living increases that will leave those who never saw it coming in a state of confusion and bewilderment with no way out.

Marin Katusa of Casey Research, who has met with business and political leaders in over one hundred countries and is one of the most successful contrarian investment analysts out there, has some thoughts on the matter.

It will be shocking for the average American… if the petro dollar dies and the U.S. loses its reserve currency status in the world there will be no middle class.

The middle class and the low class… wow… what a game changer. Your cost of living will quadruple.

In the following must-watch interview with the Sound Money Campaign, Marin outlines the reasons for why our cost of living is going through the roof, the effects of geo-politics on our future, and ways to insulate yourself from what’s coming.

(Watch at Youtube)

Imagine this… take a country like Croatia… the average worker with a university degree makes about 1200 Euros a month. He spends a third of that, after tax, on keeping his house warm and filling up his gas tank to get to work and get back from work.

In North America, we don’t make $1200 a month, and we don’t spend a third of our paycheck on keeping our house warm and driving to work… so, the cost of living… food will triple… heat, electricity, everything subsidized by the government will triple overnight… and it will only get worse even if you can get the services.

For the average citizen, they should be thinking, ‘I should store some gold here and there as insurance for all of this.’

Now, I don’t know when it will happen. But it will happen, because it’s happened to all currencies.

I don’t think the people of Rome thought that Rome would ever fall as an empire… but it did.

So, you have to be prepared and protect your family. That’s why you want leverage to things that have major upside when the dollar does collapse. And the best insurance for that is gold.

As Marin notes, the assets you hold should be such that they maintain or increase their value as the Petrol dollar crashes and America’s debt bubble bursts.

For those with retirement investments like 401k’s, IRA’s or cash, Marin suggests you look to healthy gold companies as insurance. Back in the Great Depression of the 1930′s, as stocks crashed and then stagnated, those with investments in gold mining companies were able to not only preserve wealth, but grow it.

Those who prefer to keep their assets in physical holdings should look to gold and silver bullion, as well as those items that will become difficult to obtain when prices sky rocket. These core physical assets might mean long-term food stores, land with productive capacity, and personal energy production facilities that may include wind, solar or hydro.

If there is one trend that has taken hold over the last decade it’s continued price rises for the basic necessities of modern life. Given that we are now in more debt as a nation and individuals than ever before, it’s not hard to see where this is headed.

If you need a mainstream forecast to confirm what’s going to happen, then we point you to the words of President Barack Obama, who several years ago stated unequivocally that, “electricity rates will necessarily skyrocket.” He should know, because his policies are a significant contribution to what’s going to happen in the very near future.

Look out below.

dollar-value

Resource Insights: Ukraine, Russia and the nonexistent U.S. oil and natural gas "weapon"

Resource Insights: Ukraine, Russia and the nonexistent U.S. oil and natural gas “weapon”.

Commentators were falling all over themselves last week to announce that far from being impotent in the Ukraine crisis, the United States had a very important weapon: growing oil and natural gas production which could compete on the world market and challenge Russian dominance over Ukrainian and European energy supplies–if only the U.S. government would change the laws and allow this bounty to be exported.

But, there’s one very big problem with this view. The United States is still a net importer of both oil and natural gas. The economics of natural gas exports beyond Mexico and Canada–which are both integrated into a North American pipeline system–suggest that such exports will be very limited if they ever come at all. And, there is no reasonable prospect that the United States will ever become a net exporter of oil.

U.S. net imports of crude oil and petroleum products are approximately 6.4 million barrels per day (mbpd). (This estimate sits between the official U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) numbers of 5.5 mbpd of net petroleum liquids imports and 7.5 mbpd of net crude oil imports. And so, to understand my calculations, please see two comments I made in a previous piece here and here. My number is for December 2013, the latest month for which the complete statistics needed to make my more accurate calculation are available.)

The EIA in its own forecast predicts that U.S. crude oil production (defined as crude including lease condensate) will experience a tertiary peak in 2016 around 9.5 mbpd just below the all-time 1970 peak and then decline starting in 2020. This level is far below 2013 U.S. consumption of about 13.2 mbpd of actual petroleum-derived liquid fuels. (This number excludes natural gas-derived liquids which can only be substituted for petroleum-derived liquids on a very limited basis.)

So, when exactly is the United States going to drown the world market in oil and thereby challenge the Russian oil export machine? The most plausible answer is never. And, the expected 2016 peak in U.S. production is only about 1.5 mbpd higher than production today. That’s really quite small compared to worldwide oil production of about 76 mbpd. And, there’s no guarantee that the rest of the world isn’t going to see a decline in oil production between now and then. So much for the supposed U.S. oil “weapon” taming the Russian bear.

But what about natural gas? Surely, America’s great bounty of natural gas from shale could challenge the Russians. Well, not really. It’s true that U.S. natural gas production trended up significantly from its post-Katrina nadir in 2005. But the trend has now stalled. U.S. dry natural gas production has been almost flat since January 2012. The EIA reports total production of 24.06 trillion cubic feet (tcf) for 2012 and 24.28 tcf for 2013, a rise of only 0.9 percent year over year.

Not mentioned by any of the commentators touting the U.S. natural gas “weapon” is that U.S. natural gas imports for 2013 were about 2.88 tcf or about 11 percent of U.S. consumption. So, let me see if I understand this: The plan seems to be to import more so we can export more. And this would change exactly what in the worldwide supply picture?

Certainly, it is true that low U.S. natural gas prices have reduced drilling and exploration dramatically. But prices will likely have to rise above $6 and trend higher as time passes as the easy-to-get shale gas is used up and only the more costly and difficult reservoirs remain. Drillers don’t keep drilling unless they can make money and that will require significantly higher prices.

And, here’s the kicker. In order to ship U.S. natural gas to Europe or Asia, it has to be liquefied at -260 degrees F, shipped on special tankers and then regasified. The cost of doing this is about $6 per thousand cubic feet (mcf). So, the total cost of delivering $6 U.S. natural gas to Europe is around $12 per mcf. With European liquefied natural gas (LNG) prices mostly below this level for the last five years, it’s hard to see Europe as a logical market. Japan would be a better target for such exports with prices moving between $15 and $18 per mcf in the last five years. But a U.S. entry into the LNG market could conceivably depress world prices and make even Japan a doubtful destination for U.S. LNG. And, what if U.S. prices rise significantly above $6?

But all this presupposes that the United States will have excess natural gas to export. As my colleague Jeffrey Brown has pointed out, “Citi Research [an arm of Citigroup] puts the decline rate for existing U.S. natural gas production at about 24%/year, which would require the industry to replace about 100% of current U.S. natural gas production in four years, just to maintain current production.”

It seems that U.S. drillers are going to be very, very busy just keeping domestic natural gas production from dipping, let alone expanding it to allow exports. And remember, we are still importing the stuff today!

How many companies will actually risk the billions needed to build U.S. natural gas export terminals to liquefy and load exports that may never appear? I doubt that very many will actually go through with their plans.

What is truly puzzling is that all the information I’ve just adduced–except the cost of liquefying, transporting and regasifying natural gas–is available with a few clicks of a mouse and a little arithmetic performed on tables of data. I got the cost information on LNG from a money manager specializing in energy investments. And yet, commentators, reporters, and editorial writers don’t even bother to check the internet or call their sources in the investment business.

Perhaps the facts have become irrelevant. Only that would explain the current hoopla over the nonexistent U.S. oil and natural gas “weapon” in the face of the all-too-obvious and readily available evidence.

Kurt Cobb is an authorspeaker, and columnist focusing on energy and the environment. He is a regular contributor to the Energy Voices section of The Christian Science Monitor and author of the peak-oil-themed novel Prelude. In addition, he has written columns for the Paris-based science news site Scitizen, and his work has been featured on Energy Bulletin (now Resilience.org), The Oil Drum, OilPrice.com, Econ Matters, Peak Oil Review, 321energy, Common Dreams, Le Monde Diplomatique and many other sites. He maintains a blog calledResource Insights and can be contacted at kurtcobb2001@yahoo.com.

Resource Insights: Ukraine, Russia and the nonexistent U.S. oil and natural gas “weapon”

Resource Insights: Ukraine, Russia and the nonexistent U.S. oil and natural gas “weapon”.

Commentators were falling all over themselves last week to announce that far from being impotent in the Ukraine crisis, the United States had a very important weapon: growing oil and natural gas production which could compete on the world market and challenge Russian dominance over Ukrainian and European energy supplies–if only the U.S. government would change the laws and allow this bounty to be exported.

But, there’s one very big problem with this view. The United States is still a net importer of both oil and natural gas. The economics of natural gas exports beyond Mexico and Canada–which are both integrated into a North American pipeline system–suggest that such exports will be very limited if they ever come at all. And, there is no reasonable prospect that the United States will ever become a net exporter of oil.

U.S. net imports of crude oil and petroleum products are approximately 6.4 million barrels per day (mbpd). (This estimate sits between the official U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) numbers of 5.5 mbpd of net petroleum liquids imports and 7.5 mbpd of net crude oil imports. And so, to understand my calculations, please see two comments I made in a previous piece here and here. My number is for December 2013, the latest month for which the complete statistics needed to make my more accurate calculation are available.)

The EIA in its own forecast predicts that U.S. crude oil production (defined as crude including lease condensate) will experience a tertiary peak in 2016 around 9.5 mbpd just below the all-time 1970 peak and then decline starting in 2020. This level is far below 2013 U.S. consumption of about 13.2 mbpd of actual petroleum-derived liquid fuels. (This number excludes natural gas-derived liquids which can only be substituted for petroleum-derived liquids on a very limited basis.)

So, when exactly is the United States going to drown the world market in oil and thereby challenge the Russian oil export machine? The most plausible answer is never. And, the expected 2016 peak in U.S. production is only about 1.5 mbpd higher than production today. That’s really quite small compared to worldwide oil production of about 76 mbpd. And, there’s no guarantee that the rest of the world isn’t going to see a decline in oil production between now and then. So much for the supposed U.S. oil “weapon” taming the Russian bear.

But what about natural gas? Surely, America’s great bounty of natural gas from shale could challenge the Russians. Well, not really. It’s true that U.S. natural gas production trended up significantly from its post-Katrina nadir in 2005. But the trend has now stalled. U.S. dry natural gas production has been almost flat since January 2012. The EIA reports total production of 24.06 trillion cubic feet (tcf) for 2012 and 24.28 tcf for 2013, a rise of only 0.9 percent year over year.

Not mentioned by any of the commentators touting the U.S. natural gas “weapon” is that U.S. natural gas imports for 2013 were about 2.88 tcf or about 11 percent of U.S. consumption. So, let me see if I understand this: The plan seems to be to import more so we can export more. And this would change exactly what in the worldwide supply picture?

Certainly, it is true that low U.S. natural gas prices have reduced drilling and exploration dramatically. But prices will likely have to rise above $6 and trend higher as time passes as the easy-to-get shale gas is used up and only the more costly and difficult reservoirs remain. Drillers don’t keep drilling unless they can make money and that will require significantly higher prices.

And, here’s the kicker. In order to ship U.S. natural gas to Europe or Asia, it has to be liquefied at -260 degrees F, shipped on special tankers and then regasified. The cost of doing this is about $6 per thousand cubic feet (mcf). So, the total cost of delivering $6 U.S. natural gas to Europe is around $12 per mcf. With European liquefied natural gas (LNG) prices mostly below this level for the last five years, it’s hard to see Europe as a logical market. Japan would be a better target for such exports with prices moving between $15 and $18 per mcf in the last five years. But a U.S. entry into the LNG market could conceivably depress world prices and make even Japan a doubtful destination for U.S. LNG. And, what if U.S. prices rise significantly above $6?

But all this presupposes that the United States will have excess natural gas to export. As my colleague Jeffrey Brown has pointed out, “Citi Research [an arm of Citigroup] puts the decline rate for existing U.S. natural gas production at about 24%/year, which would require the industry to replace about 100% of current U.S. natural gas production in four years, just to maintain current production.”

It seems that U.S. drillers are going to be very, very busy just keeping domestic natural gas production from dipping, let alone expanding it to allow exports. And remember, we are still importing the stuff today!

How many companies will actually risk the billions needed to build U.S. natural gas export terminals to liquefy and load exports that may never appear? I doubt that very many will actually go through with their plans.

What is truly puzzling is that all the information I’ve just adduced–except the cost of liquefying, transporting and regasifying natural gas–is available with a few clicks of a mouse and a little arithmetic performed on tables of data. I got the cost information on LNG from a money manager specializing in energy investments. And yet, commentators, reporters, and editorial writers don’t even bother to check the internet or call their sources in the investment business.

Perhaps the facts have become irrelevant. Only that would explain the current hoopla over the nonexistent U.S. oil and natural gas “weapon” in the face of the all-too-obvious and readily available evidence.

Kurt Cobb is an authorspeaker, and columnist focusing on energy and the environment. He is a regular contributor to the Energy Voices section of The Christian Science Monitor and author of the peak-oil-themed novel Prelude. In addition, he has written columns for the Paris-based science news site Scitizen, and his work has been featured on Energy Bulletin (now Resilience.org), The Oil Drum, OilPrice.com, Econ Matters, Peak Oil Review, 321energy, Common Dreams, Le Monde Diplomatique and many other sites. He maintains a blog calledResource Insights and can be contacted at kurtcobb2001@yahoo.com.

Deep State Descending | KUNSTLER

Deep State Descending | KUNSTLER.

And so it’s back to the Kardashians for the US of ADD. As of Sunday The New York Timeskicked Ukraine off its front page, a sure sign that the establishment (let’s revive that useful word) is sensitive to the growing ridicule over its claims of national interest in that floundering, bedraggled crypto-nation. The Kardashians sound enough like one of the central Asian ethnic groups battling over the Crimea lo these many centuries — Circassians, Meskhetian Turkmen, Tatars, Karachay-Cherkessians — so the sore-beset American public must be content that they’re getting the news-of-the-world. Perhaps one of those groups was once led by a Great Kanye.

Secretary of State John Kerry has shut his pie-hole, too, for the moment, as it becomes more obvious that Ukraine happens to be Russia’s headache (and neighbor). The playbook of great nations is going obsolete in this new era of great nations having, by necessity, to become smaller broken-up nations. It could easily happen in the USA too as our grandiose Deep State descends further into incompetence, irrelevance, buffoonery, and practical bankruptcy.

Theories abound about what drives this crisis and all the credible stories revolve around the question of natural gas. I go a little further, actually, and say that the specter of declining energy sources worldwide is behind this particular eruption of disorder in one sad corner of the globe and that we’re sure to see more symptoms of that same basic problem in one country after another from here on, moving from the political margins to the centers. The world is out of cheap oil and gas and, at the same time, out of capital to produce the non-cheap oil and gas. So what’s going on is a scramble between desperate producers and populations worried about shivering in the dark. The Ukraine is just a threadbare carpet-runner between them.

Contributing to our own country’s excessive vanity in the arena of nations is the mistaken belief that we have so much shale gas of our own that we barely know what to do with it. This is certainly the view, for instance, of Speaker of the House John Boehner, who complained last week about bureaucratic barriers to the building of new natural gas export terminals, with the idea that we could easily take over the European gas market from Russia. Boehner is out of his mind. Does he not know that the early big American shale gas plays (Barnett in Texas, Haynesville in Louisiana, Fayettville in Arkansas) are already winding down after just ten years of production? That’s on top of the growing austerity in available capital for the so-far-unprofitable shale gas industry. That’s on top of the scarcity of capital for building new liquid natural gas terminals and ditto the fleet of specialized refrigerated tanker ships required to haul the stuff across the ocean. File under “not going to happen.”

Even the idea that we will have enough natural gas for our own needs in the USA beyond the short term ought to be viewed with skepticism. What happens, for instance, when we finally realize that it costs more to frack it out of the ground than people can pay for it? I’ll tell you exactly what will happen: the gas will remain underground bound up in its “tight rock,” possibly forever, and a lot of Americans will freeze to death.

The most amazing part of the current story is that US political leaders are so ignorant of the facts. They apparently look only to the public relations officers in the oil-and-gas industries and no further. Does Barack Obama still believe, as he said in 2011, that we have a hundred years of shale gas?” That was just something that a flack from the Chesapeake Corporation told to some White House aide over a bottle of Lalou Bize-Leroy Domaine d’Auvenay Les Bonnes-Mares Grand Cru. Government officials believe similar fairy tales about shale oil from the Bakken in North Dakota — a way overhyped resource play likely to pass its own peak at the end of this year.

If you travel around the upper Hudson Valley, north of Albany, where I live, you would see towns and landscapes every bit as desolate as a former Soviet republic. In fact, our towns look infinitely worse than the street-views of Ukraine’s population centers. Ours were built of glue and vinyl, with most of the work completed thirty years ago so that it’s all delaminating under a yellow-gray patina of auto emissions. Inside these miserable structures, American citizens with no prospects and no hope huddle around electric space heaters. They have no idea how they’re going to pay the bill for that come April. They already spent the money on tattoos and heroin.

Deep State Descending | KUNSTLER

Deep State Descending | KUNSTLER.

And so it’s back to the Kardashians for the US of ADD. As of Sunday The New York Timeskicked Ukraine off its front page, a sure sign that the establishment (let’s revive that useful word) is sensitive to the growing ridicule over its claims of national interest in that floundering, bedraggled crypto-nation. The Kardashians sound enough like one of the central Asian ethnic groups battling over the Crimea lo these many centuries — Circassians, Meskhetian Turkmen, Tatars, Karachay-Cherkessians — so the sore-beset American public must be content that they’re getting the news-of-the-world. Perhaps one of those groups was once led by a Great Kanye.

Secretary of State John Kerry has shut his pie-hole, too, for the moment, as it becomes more obvious that Ukraine happens to be Russia’s headache (and neighbor). The playbook of great nations is going obsolete in this new era of great nations having, by necessity, to become smaller broken-up nations. It could easily happen in the USA too as our grandiose Deep State descends further into incompetence, irrelevance, buffoonery, and practical bankruptcy.

Theories abound about what drives this crisis and all the credible stories revolve around the question of natural gas. I go a little further, actually, and say that the specter of declining energy sources worldwide is behind this particular eruption of disorder in one sad corner of the globe and that we’re sure to see more symptoms of that same basic problem in one country after another from here on, moving from the political margins to the centers. The world is out of cheap oil and gas and, at the same time, out of capital to produce the non-cheap oil and gas. So what’s going on is a scramble between desperate producers and populations worried about shivering in the dark. The Ukraine is just a threadbare carpet-runner between them.

Contributing to our own country’s excessive vanity in the arena of nations is the mistaken belief that we have so much shale gas of our own that we barely know what to do with it. This is certainly the view, for instance, of Speaker of the House John Boehner, who complained last week about bureaucratic barriers to the building of new natural gas export terminals, with the idea that we could easily take over the European gas market from Russia. Boehner is out of his mind. Does he not know that the early big American shale gas plays (Barnett in Texas, Haynesville in Louisiana, Fayettville in Arkansas) are already winding down after just ten years of production? That’s on top of the growing austerity in available capital for the so-far-unprofitable shale gas industry. That’s on top of the scarcity of capital for building new liquid natural gas terminals and ditto the fleet of specialized refrigerated tanker ships required to haul the stuff across the ocean. File under “not going to happen.”

Even the idea that we will have enough natural gas for our own needs in the USA beyond the short term ought to be viewed with skepticism. What happens, for instance, when we finally realize that it costs more to frack it out of the ground than people can pay for it? I’ll tell you exactly what will happen: the gas will remain underground bound up in its “tight rock,” possibly forever, and a lot of Americans will freeze to death.

The most amazing part of the current story is that US political leaders are so ignorant of the facts. They apparently look only to the public relations officers in the oil-and-gas industries and no further. Does Barack Obama still believe, as he said in 2011, that we have a hundred years of shale gas?” That was just something that a flack from the Chesapeake Corporation told to some White House aide over a bottle of Lalou Bize-Leroy Domaine d’Auvenay Les Bonnes-Mares Grand Cru. Government officials believe similar fairy tales about shale oil from the Bakken in North Dakota — a way overhyped resource play likely to pass its own peak at the end of this year.

If you travel around the upper Hudson Valley, north of Albany, where I live, you would see towns and landscapes every bit as desolate as a former Soviet republic. In fact, our towns look infinitely worse than the street-views of Ukraine’s population centers. Ours were built of glue and vinyl, with most of the work completed thirty years ago so that it’s all delaminating under a yellow-gray patina of auto emissions. Inside these miserable structures, American citizens with no prospects and no hope huddle around electric space heaters. They have no idea how they’re going to pay the bill for that come April. They already spent the money on tattoos and heroin.

Long Crude Oil Speculative Bets Rise To All Time High | Zero Hedge

Long Crude Oil Speculative Bets Rise To All Time High | Zero Hedge.

Whether or not institutional investors, read large speculators, decided to invest alongside Putin in the one trade that is most critical to the future prosperity and positive cash flow balance of Russia, namely keeping the price of Crude high, and rising, is unknown, however, as the following chart the net position in crude oil futures as of the week of March 4, just hit an all time high of $44.0 billion up from $42.4 billion the week prior, surpassing all prior peaks, and certainly any set during the summer of 2008 when oil was threatening to make a run on $150, and was set to hit $200 if one believes Goldman (which nobody does).

Needless to say, any de-escalation in the Crimea – which has certainly been the key catalyst for the full court press to bet on rising crude prices in recent weeks – will have a substantial knock on effect of forcing open call positions to close, and in the process lower the price of crude further beyond just fundamentals, assuming those still exist.

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