Interview with Lord Browne, CEO of BP, on the
future oil price. He says that it'll settle
down to about $40 a barrel.
I tend to believe in BP management more than
say XOM because BP is actually committed to
alternative sources of energy. They're very
transparent in their operations and have tons
and tons of data on their web site.
Nobody can predict future prices, but his
opinion I tend to trust. If prices do settle
down to about $40/barrel in for 2006-2008
BPT will probably trade down and then flat
(assuming that peak oil doesn't hit before
that of course).
The supposed "facts" that you refer to, and statements that are so often espoused by many as "fact", are so often only an opinion.
As I said before, we see things from different perspectives...and that is OK. However, I feel that further discourse between you and me will contribute nothing constructive to this board.
Farms 1804--aka banyan
I'm all for positive thinking, banyan. But I don't let it get in the way of the facts.
Unfortunately, we're very, very far from solving our problem, and some authorities believe it is already too late for us to make the transition to alternatives without a major disruption (e.g., a global depression). When we do finally get serious, it may be a case of too little, too late (the same applies to our approach to the global warming situation). The years of heel-dragging by the Bush administration haven't helped matters.
Of course, alternatives like windmills and solar and nuclear simply can't supply many of the vital things fossil fuels supply, such as fertilizers, pesticides, most plastics, pharmaceuticals, and on and on. What will happen when fertilizers get so expensive farmers can't afford to use them? Or people can't afford to pay for the food they grow?
No, alternative energy will remain expensive relative to oil. Until fairly lately, all we had to do was stick a straw in the ground and the oil came out, packed with easily transportable energy ready to do our bidding. There's nothing on the horizon like that with alternatives---they're clunky and low-yielding by comparison. Also, it will be very difficult or impossible for the net energy from alternatives to ever equal the energy we've obtained from oil. Unless the total supply of energy can keep rising---at the same time that the oil supply falls, BTW---economic growth ends. Without economic growth, our civilization as we know it also ends.
I tend to be a worriwort myself but in this regard I like to consider what could go right in the future.
I don't doubt that fossil fuels are limited, and will eventually become very expensive, but I don't see them going away. I see them becoming so expensive that (for example) anything less than a 50 mpg vehicle is not viable. That deposits on plastics (like bottles) will become large enough that recycling is vastly more viable than it is today. This will drastically cut demand while sustaining a higher price. That higher price will suddenly make the expense of building out a nuclear/solar/thermal electrical system viable.
Nuclear power can move cars. It's just not done today because we have a simpler and cheaper way to do it.
Finally, though alternative energies are fantastically expensive now, they won't be when market demand, competition, and economies of scale kick-in to bring prices down. The real pain, as with most things, will be the transition in getting there.
The glass if half full (with gas?),
try n understand
What a thoughtful, down to earth post.
Yes, our government will probably continue to be reactive to many of our problems, rather than proactive. But, that is just the way things are.
Your last paragraph was especially good. I, personally,am not yet ready to take "the sky is falling approach". I firmly believe that the old cliche "necessity is the mother of invention" will prevail in finding solutions to our problems, whatever they may be in the future.
Farms 1804--aka banyan
Thanks for the nice reply, tryn2understand.
The problem is that alternatives will all be vastly more expensive than the bonanza of cheap oil and gas we've enjoyed for a century, and there is a strong possibility that they will collectively yield less total energy than oil and gas. Also, developing, building out, and maintaining an alternatives infrastructure will itself require huge amounts of fossil fuels. And it is now very late in the game to start the conversion, if we can even get there. For an interesting (and scary) analysis of the alternatives picture, read "The Party's Over," by Richard Heinberg.
Regarding nuclear energy, I have read that the world has only a 40-year supply of uranium ore remaining at current extraction rates. This supply estimate would drop with increased use of nuclear, of course. And nuclear can't be used for transportation, fertilizers, pesticides, plastics, pharmaceuticals, and a zillion other uses particular to oil and gas. No one really knows what to do with nuclear waste, either. Finally, nuclear plants are fantastically expensive---given that the US govt. now has an $8+ trillion debt, and consumers trillions more, where is all the money going to come from?
Economics isn't energy. Technology isn't energy. They're potentially useful, but they don't add a single joule of energy to the system.
I hope you're right and that things somehow work out, but I'm worried like I've never been before.
You paint a bleak picture. Also, I would tend to think supply trumps demand. If you use everything up, you can demand all you want, you won't be getting anything.
I agree that there could be some dark times ahead because I don't think leaders will choose to lead until there is an emergency. I do believe however that alternative fuels, even something as simple as nuclear energy, will pull civilization through.
Today we have gas stations to fuel our cars because it's easy. Someday, we'll have electrical systems built into throughways to power electrical cars because it will be the easy way. The actual details will vary but economics, reality, and ingenuity will combine to solve our problems.
At least, I hope they do.