Pump-U-Up

April 19, 2012

In the midst of people/places/things making news this week, one item seemingly absent is any hysteria over high fuel prices.

Competition for news time is tight, with the vernal Dick Clark dead at 82, Leon Panetta trying to explain away another Afghan horror photo as “…not who we are…,” three SS agents forced out in a widening whore scandal, Syria not keeping its word on a ceasefire (Duh!), and, even maybe Mitt Romney slapping a terrible put-down on some cookies, prompting the baker to proclaim: “Let him eat cake next time.”
And so it goes…

But where’s the oil?

Outside the urgency circle — for the first time in two-and-a-half months, US gas pump prices declined last week, and with it, the nation’s drivers are staying closer to home with consumption down 4 percent from the same time last year.

(Illustration found here).

Due to oil supplies growing, oil prices are skimming the milk — US inventory grew by 3.9 million barrels last week on “…some pretty anemic fuel demand levels.”
Also via Bloomberg: Benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude fell $1.53 to finish at $102.67 per barrel in New York, while Brent crude lost 81 cents to end at $117.97 per barrel in London.
Meanwhile, on the street-level pump time: U.S. retail gasoline prices dipped slightly to a national average of $3.899 per gallon, according to AAA, Wright Express and Oil Price Information Service. The national average has declined by 2.6 cents this month, and it’s now it’s just barely under $3.90 for the first time since March.

Although pump prices are down right now, they’re supposed to chart upward as we approach the summer time.

So, to do my part, I put another $20 worth of gas in the still-chugging Jeep yesterday, the pump price still at $4.49 a gallon for regular — the same the past month.
Still higher than the rest of California: The average cost of a gallon of regular in California is still 6.5 cents higher than it was at this time last year, at $4.245. But that is a drop of 4.5 cents a gallon since last week and a drop of 11.6 cents since last month.
What a gas.

No, it’s really an inferno and no one is watching.
The most-major problem with oil — fossil fuels in general — is not gas pump prices, or demand or consumption, but what the shit is doing to life on this freaked-out planet.
Oh, there’s still plenty of oil, though, it’s near the end of the so-called ‘easy oil,’ but still enough to kill every living creature now alive.
From European Energy Review under the title, ‘Cheer Up: The World has plenty of oil,’ on how we might be f*cked:

It’s widely believed nowadays that global oil production is running up against its limits.
“The days of easy oil are over”, we are told and we should brace ourselves for an age of relative oil scarcity.
The reality, however, is very different.
As more and more people within the oil industry have come to realize in recent years, the world has plenty of oil that can be produced at competitive prices for a long, long time to come.
This means the world does not face inevitable “energy poverty” and there is no reason to be afraid of unavoidable “energy wars.”

The author then explains in some detail how OPEC effects oil production, how the growth of unconventional fuels, demand and other factors in revealing there’s still enough fuel to keep civilization blasting into a far distant future.
It’s a horror tale.

There’s way more oil than earth.
From the Natural Resources Defense Council last week: More importantly, we were always going to run out of the earth’s capacity to absorb carbon dioxide without suffering catastrophic climate disruption long before we ran out of fossil fuels.
Via Climate Progress and Jonathan Koomey:

I focus here on the lower bounds to make an important point: Even with estimates of the fossil fuel resource base at the low end of what the literature says, the amount of carbon embodied in just the conventional sources of these fuels is vastly larger than the amount of fuel assumed to be burned in the MIT no-policy case (which is a reasonable assessment of our “business-as-usual” future, assuming no major efforts to wean ourselves off of fossil fuels).

I conclude from this comparison that there’s virtually no chance that resource constraints would provide a brake on carbon emissions in this century, and the emissions in the MIT no-policy case are below what could be expected if we were to burn even a quarter of our entire conventional resource base in the next ninety years.

One implication of these results is that the current estimated value of fossil fuel reserves (as capitalized in the stock prices of fossil fuel companies) is an illusion, as Dave Roberts of Grist points out.
We quite literally can’t burn it all and continue the orderly development of human civilization, so the trillions of dollars of “value” in those reserves is a mirage (and a major impediment to progress on this problem, given how hard the fossil fuel industry is fighting to preserve its profits).

So in other words, we ain’t ever gonna stop doin’ what we doin’ until we can’t do it any more.
Then it’s extinction time — pump that into your new SUV.

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