Monday, August 07, 2006

"a state of collective denial that has no precedent in history"

Houston, we have a problem. But you don't:

Executives ride high on boom in energy

By TOM FOWLER
Houston Chronicle Aug. 6, 2006, 12:39AM

The energy boom rang loud and clear through corporate suites in Houston last year where total pay grew 28 percent for the 100 top-paid executives at publicly traded companies. The average pay package for the top executives in this energy-centric city was $6.9 million in 2005 versus $5.4 million in 2004, including salary, bonus and long-term incentives like stock options, according to data compiled for the Chronicle by Longnecker & Associates. The increase was fueled in large part by a 68 percent jump in the value of stock option grants and a 23 percent increase in bonuses. [...]

The L-Curve:

One Barrel of Oil = One Year of Hard Human Labour

[Photo: Sebastiao Salgado]

A thirsty world is running dry

By PAUL SHEEHAN

Sydney Morning Herald, July 31 2006

The world's biggest oil company, Exxon Mobil, made a profit of $A13.6 billion last quarter. That works out at $54 billion a year, or $1 billion profit a week.

Last week, all five global oil giants reported their quarterly results and all told the same story:

Royal Dutch, $9.5 billion profit (up 40 per cent);

BP, $9.5 billion (up 30 per cent);

ConocoPhillips, $6.8 billion (up 65 per cent);

and Chevron, $5.7 billion (up 19 per cent).

That's a collective quarterly profit of $45 billion - almost $3.5 billion a week.

The announcements came at exactly the same time that the coast of Lebanon was being despoiled by a large oil spill after Israel bombed a power plant near Beirut. As if the only true democracy in the Arab world needed another catastrophe. The symbolism speaks for itself. All this at a time when the world is paying record oil prices, fuel production is experiencing bottlenecks caused by a shortage of oil refineries, which suggests Big Oil must have good reasons not to expand supply. And the high cost of oil - required in the production and supply of nearly everything we buy - has rippled through the global economy, pushing up inflation and interest rates.

"Our society is in a state of collective denial that has no precedent in history, in terms of its scale and implication," writes scientist Jeremy Leggett in a book, Half Gone (2005), about the imminent arrival of "peak oil", when global oil reserves begin to run down. Half Gone argues that "peak oil" has already arrived, and we are not prepared for the consequences. Even if Leggett has overstated his case, innumerable scientific reports have urged the need for a move away from oil dependence.

In 2004 a unit of the United States Department of Energy warned: "A serious supply-demand discontinuity [shortage] could lead to worldwide economic chaos." Yet there remains a breathtaking gap between the rhetoric of the war on terrorism and the absence of common sense. As Leggett writes: "Of America's current daily consumption of 20 million barrels, 5 million are imported from the Middle East, where almost two-thirds of the world's oil reserves lie in a region of especially intense and long-lived conflicts. [...]

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