Saturday, June 21, 2008

There Will Be Blood II

The first instance of the use of oil dates back thousands of years to polishing weapons and armor. It lubricated axles, and resisting water, its thicker form (tar) was used to caulk ships. China saw that it easily burned and used it for cooking and lamps. The desire for artificial light exploded with the population, and we slaughtered whales to the brink of extinction for lamps and other applications. One could also squeeze various oils out of nuts, and in the 1300’s (with some earlier but rare instances) oil painting started. Leonardo Da Vinci improved oil paint by adding beeswax to the mixture.

The modern state of affairs more or less began on Aug. 27, 1859 when Edwin L. Drake struck oil near Titusville, Pennsylvania. Now we were into the ability to produce quantities dwarfing that of whaling vessels and consisting of a rich mixture of many lengths of hydro-carbon chains which could be isolated to sizes with the desired properties. In a process called cracking, the bigger chains were broken into smaller ones, producing kerosene, diesel fuel, heating oil, and another new invention came along, the automobile, that liked a particular flavor, gasoline.

Naturally or not this happened during the late 1800s when the country was at great risk of being completely usurped by robber baron corporations that formed trusts and monopolies colluding together to wrestle the last thin red cent from anything that moved, breathed, walked, or crawled on the planet. The oil industry was born in a world where prisoners were slaughtered for their assets and politicians were whores that bent over for the biggest bundle. Standard Oil Corporation showed no restraint in accelerating a positive feedback loop where profits bought competitors and non-competitors alike in a greed fest that would eventually own the entire country, an eventuality halted by the Sherman Act of 1890 which was then fortified by the Taylor Act of 1914.

Despite these efforts, oil remained an anomaly and exhibited remarkable resilience against efforts to curb its power and influence. Oil enjoys a "national security" status not only for its economic importance as it fuels transportation, industrial/farm equipment, heats many buildings, and provides critical input for plastics, paint, fertilizers, pharmaceuticals, and other products, but more so, for its role in warfare. The entire military apparatus runs on oil.

Like alcoholics or addicts securing their supply throughout the house, powerful nations seek to ensure a steady supply of oil. Sharing sleeping bags, countries either nationalize their oil production or view their oil companies as crucial friends, viewing their global reserves and production as synonymous with the national interest. Governments support their companies’ efforts to obtain rights to new production sources and the most favorable distribution channels. Oil itself is war, and during WWII the Allies gave the restriction of access to oil to the Axes the highest of priorities. In almost every respect, oil is the heroin of nations and its producers the pushers of a narcotic without which the junkies cannot survive. We will do whatever it takes.

In this context we see Lord Cheney’s 2003 invasion of Iraq as pure exploitation of a pretense that did not exist to accomplish the real objective of establishing a foothold before the next superpower, be it China or India, invades the Middle East. Watch the news, and you will soon learn of contracts and deals granting US corporations (or at least US sympathetic corporations) the rights to explore, secure, drill, and extract sweet Iraqi crude for consumption in the United States.

When these deals and contracts are solidly in place and enforced by military units of the US, Iraq, or otherwise, then Eggplant can stand on a boat beneath a banner that reads, "Mission Accomplished."

P.S.
The reader is aware that Dick Cheney is the former CEO of Halliburton (nation’s largest oil-services company) and Condolezza Rice is a former director of Chevron Texaco, after whom the company named one of its supertankers.

P.S.S.
The lack of discussion regarding Bush's utterly inane, vacuous, and idiotic address regarding offshore drilling is most intentional.

11 Comments:

Blogger Sirocco said...

"The oil industry was born in a world where ... politicians were whores that bent over for the biggest bundle."

How has that changed today? Witness the wiretapping "compromise that protects Telecoms from reaping the punishment their illegal acts so richly merit.

Every now and then a large dog-and-pony show is put together and a few patricians are sacrificed to appease the masses, but by and large the corporations get everything they want today, using updated, more sophisticated, but at root largely the same means they used in the 19th century.

6/21/2008 7:06 PM  
Blogger The Navigator said...

Well said, Sirocco, except that I would argue the country pulled away from complete catastrophe during the beginning of the 20th century. Thanks to Reagan and both Bushes, we have returned (as you suggest) to the corporatocracy.

I am impressed, x4mr, with how much information you compressed into your post. Without lengthy description you distilled the nature of the bloody mess, which is exactly what it is. Solutions will come from those who muster the will to do what has already been done and proven viable but not implemented with the necessary critical mass. During WWII Germany successfully produced fuel with coal and other products. South Africa and other countries are ahead of the United States, and this is not about ethanol. The addiction will be broken painfully and brutally with many lives destroyed in the process as India and China ramp up energy consumption and intense, powerful forces vie for competing means of producing, storing, delivering, and consuming energy.

Oil will remain front and center, but the global political economy and the irresponsibility of the Bush/Cheney oil worshippers has left the US exposed even if we do secure the Iraqi crude. What will it cost? Who is going to pay for it? Will the Iraqi’s turn down sweeter deals with China? Forever?

I think the price of oil will continue to climb as energy demand outpaces supply and alternatives become viable. Not even big oil can kill off every other energy source as its own price soars. Proponents of clean coal and clean nuclear are already speaking, and naturally we have the whole climate change factor thrown into the mix.

At the least the Democrats acknowledge we have a very serious problem. The Republicans are so spread eagled before big oil (in fact, before most large corporations) they are nothing but mouth pieces speaking precisely as dictated by ExxonMobile and Co. The poor and struggling, by the hundreds of millions, are sending in their $25 or $35 or $50, delivering a large sickle that has "Republican Party" written all over it. The recession is just getting started.

There will be blood.

6/21/2008 9:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good observation about the link between oil, economics, and military capability. I have seen the same points, but you state them succinctly and leave it for the reader to connect the dots.

Thomas Freedman has an excellent opinion piece in the NY Times today, "Lead or Leave" that mirrors what you have said, but he goes further to mention H.R. 6049: The Renewable Energy and Job Creation Act of 2008, that would extend tax credits for investing in solar, wind, and other alternative energies. Naturally, the oil serving Republicans are against it and working hard to defeat it.

As your story and Friedman state, a transition lowering the use of oil for a variety of applications is inevitable. What is desperately required is intelligent and courageous thinking to develop strategies for an intelligent transition, the exact opposite of Bush and Republican efforts to just get another fix and continue as blind, hopeless junkies.

Consider this, x4mr. It is not the American people that are junkies, but the oil industry. Rather than take the lead and expand their horizons to include all energy, they selfishly choose short term pennies over long term dollars at the expense of every human being alive and every one that will be born.

If we are to survive, we are going to have to find the political will to tax oil and tax it brutally, using the funds to turn the corner towards energy solutions we can sustain indefinitely. Bush and the Republican Party represent the enemy in the fight tp provide economic opportunity for all but the rich, for equal rights for all people, and for our future as a species.

I am praying for the blue tsunami. May it show the malicious, evil Republicans and their self-centered arrogance the same mercy they show the poor and the uninsured now dying every day in this country.

6/22/2008 11:28 AM  
Anonymous Diana said...

Oh great, so we have yet again more tree-hugging nonsense about ending our use of oil and using hemp and organic tea to meet our country’s energy needs. As our commander in chief knows, the invasion of Iraq will end up going down as one of the smartest moves our country ever made by both taking the fight to terrorism right into their own backyards and also securing the oil we need to maintain our stature as the most powerful nation when China, India, and the Islamo-fascists are gunning to take over.

This country should thank people like Dick Cheney who understand that the country with the oil has the power, and that controlling Iraq and its high quality and easily refined crude helps keep the Saudis in check as other nations vie for power. Oil is the energy of choice because it is the best, period. McCain is right that we will “never leave” Iraq and we shouldn’t. We should stay there and insure our supply that fuels our economy and gives our military the means to prevent emerging powers from taking over the planet. What would happen to human rights if Beijing controlled the Middle East?

X4mr, you say you read “Atlas Shrugged” but you seem to forget everything that book was about. You condemn Exxon or Shell or Halliburton until it’s time to fill up your tank. Then you don’t talk so loud, do you? If you don’t like what these companies provide for you, turn off your AC. You enjoy your freedom to write your blog but condemn the military acts required to provide it. I think you are all of bunch of hypocrites who get to live just fine while sitting in judgment of those who make your lives possible. Fortunately, common sense prevails.

The people of Israel probably understand this better than anyone. They don’t bitch when their government kicks ass. Israel has to kick ass all the time. If the tree-hugging wimps do get a huge majority and bend us over, just wait four years, and then we’ll be electing someone who understands what Israel understands. If every country were like Israel, we would cut through the crap very quickly and the fittest, as appropriate, would be left standing.

6/22/2008 1:52 PM  
Blogger Sirocco said...

Diana,

Just to be clear - you are stating the need for oil would justify our military conquest of occupation of Iraq? Of other countries as well?

The people of Israel are not nearly as unified on matters as you imply, by the way.

Oil is not the "best" form of power, but it certainly has been the _easiest_ in terms of getting a good return on energy for investment. Other forms can be more efficient, though.

6/22/2008 2:02 PM  
Anonymous Diana said...

Sirocco, any country with the chutzpah can choose to invade any other country and that has always been the case. Regarding the Middle East, we just beat China to the punch. How fast we forget USSR invading Afghanistan or Eastern Europe, or Iraq invading Kuwait. You advocate we invade the Middle East after it is protected by the Chinese?

For hundreds of millions of years nature operated according to survival of the fittest. The strong survived and the weak perished. Then humanity became so successful it could allow bleeding heart morons to siphon/steal from the productive to allow non-productive looters to feed at the trough. Instead of dying off, the pathetic breed like rabbits. Humanity is dumbing down. You won’t admit it, but you know it is true.

Nature is trying to help and natural disasters, hunger, genocide, malnutrition, AIDS and other diseases, murdering militias all target inferior populations. Darfur doesn’t happen in Wichita for a reason. Sadly, people like you and x4mr and Liza and the rest of your kind will feed and support garbage, which only produces more garbage. You people are blind.

The solution arrives when a courageous hero figures out how to release into the entire atmosphere a compound that sterilizes all humans who fall beneath an acceptable level of nutrition, physical health, and brain function.

6/22/2008 6:33 PM  
Blogger Sirocco said...

I actually don't advocate we invade the Middle East at all. China is certainly in no position to do so, before or after us.

The USSR did invade Afghanistan ... do you recall the result?

Just because a nation can do something doesn't justify doing so. If your last paragraph proves nothing it proves you, my lady, are psychotic.

6/22/2008 9:29 PM  
Anonymous George Gonigal said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6/23/2008 3:57 AM  
Blogger x4mr said...

Diana,

The post is about humanity's dependence on oil and our compelling need to recognize the "dwindling" lily pad and the necessity of developing other pads before the current one disintegrates completely.

I am confident in my grasp of Rand's ideas to go at it with you, and I question your assessment of "producer" vs. "looter." I would presume you tag Salvadore Dali a producer since his art is popular and sells (while his product, IMHO, is crap) while a yet undiscovered artist, however talented, is "looting" because he has yet to generate income.

I agree with Sirocco that your wholesale tagging of entire populations and sterilization gas idea are outright psychotic and place you within a sentence or two of Nazi style death camps.

I think aspects of social Darwinism warrant consideration but any notion of "killing the weak" is tantamount to murder. "Letting them die off" is little better, and "sterilizing them" is so infested with implementation nightmares that its tenability is essentially zero. Slip up and you wipe us all out.

You are obviously economically well off either on your own or supported, probably born into a high SES background as suggested by your lack of either compassion or understanding of the less fortunate, equating their poverty with lack of merit.

Bottom line: I agree with Sirocco that you are a kook with half baked ideas that implode on impact in any debate of merit.

6/23/2008 8:36 AM  
Blogger TexPatriate said...

To Diana:

Your diatribe reminds me of a remark I heard this weekend, but I was so stunned at the ignorance of it I could not respond appropriately at the time. After consideration, I realize the response that I should have provided, so I'll say it to you as well. "Your remarks are atrocious."

Additionally, if you really are Ann Coulter, you probably should use your real name for the extra publicity. Otherwise, the wannabe factor just renders you utterly pathetic.

Plus, she's already gone after the 911 widows, so. . . you have some serious wallowing in filth to do to begin to catch her. Run, Diana, run.

6/23/2008 10:00 AM  
Blogger Policon said...

diana you're scary. I hope you don't live in my neighborhood and find out how lazy I am.

x4mr- Wasn't it about 1904 when the US Patent Office closed up because everything that could be invented already had been? Your post uses the string-strectch approach to forcasting future events based only on historic trends. As I read it I was anxiously waiting for you to switch gears and talk about paradigm busting new events like TATA MOTORS new compressed air car which entered production in recent months.

Here's a recap of the air car:
Thank Carbon for Air Cars
Green Energy News

Saturday 16 February 2008

One of the great success stories of recent technological history is carbon fiber. Light, stronger than steel and corrosion proof, it's used in everything from airplanes to fishing rods to sailboat masts. Without carbon fiber composites Guy Negre wouldn't have his air powered cars. It's the super strong carbon fiber pressure tanks that make the cars possible.

Soon cars running on compressed air will go into production - in India. MDI Industries, of Carros, France, which develops the air powered cars and engine technology, has signed a licensing agreement with Tata Motors that allows that company exclusive rights to manufacture and market an MDI car and its technology in the world's second most populous nation. The small, fiberglass composite 770 pound (350 kg) cars could sell for about $5000.

(Tata, by the way, is the same company that is offering its People's Car, the Tatanano which shocked the world recently with its less than $2500 starting price. Concern was raised among environmentalists that the potential of millions more cars on the planet wasn't helpful.)

Negre, who invented the air-power technology, says that Tata will be the only large car company allowed to build cars and use the technology for other purposes. He wants large numbers of investors to build smaller plants scattered around the globe. The plants would build cars and sell them directly to consumers. Up to 80 percent of parts could be locally-sourced, creating jobs. Emissions from shipping parts thousands of miles would be eliminated. Cutting out the middlemen - direct factory to consumer sales - would cut costs as well. With hundreds of factories worldwide, he's looking at one percent of global market share of automobiles - about 680,000 cars a year.

Under the hood of an MDI car is more than just a horizonally-opposed air powered piston engine. The Compressed Air Technology (CAT) includes two types of engines: Mono and Dual-Energy. Mono engines run on compressed air only in urban environments. Dual-Energy engines have a hydrocarbon fueled burner which heats air in the cylinders to increase pressure on the pistons. The addition of a combustible fuel means more power and extended range. The addition of an external heat source acting on the cylinders makes the engine design a close cousin of a Stirling engine.

The car model that Tata Motors will be selling is a version of the OneCAT. MDI's website gives that model a top speed range of 55 - 68 miles per hour and a full tank range of 62 to nearly 500 miles. The significant range increase is due to the addition of heat source. Fuel for the burner can be bio-based or petroleum. On long distance runs the Dual-Energy CAT should achieve 120 miles per gallon. Around town on air-only fuel economy will be higher.

From a specialized, powerful air pumping station, pressure tanks can be refilled in about 3 minutes. At home, using the on-board compressor, filling takes about 4 hours. One can imagine solar-powered air filling stations for true full cycle zero emission transportation.

The engine is made of modules comprised of two opposing cylinders. Modules can be bolted together to make 4 or 6 cylinder engines, for instance. Current engines underdevelopment have power outputs ranging from 4 to 75 horsepower. Further development is planned for engines of 200 horsepower and higher to use in buses and trucks. The company says dozens of modules could be bolted together for even greater output for stationary applications.

The wide range of engine sizes possible with CAT makes for a wide range of possible applications - cars, trucks, buses, electric power generators, tow tractors, forklift trucks, agricultural tractors, outboard motors even engines for light aircraft.

Tata under its agreement is already thinking about power generators for remote use. In power generator mode the engine runs on fuel - anything available - to generate power as needed, or compress air. In emergency situations stored compressed air could run a CAT generator.

There's more than the company talks about as well. One can also imagine using the technology as part of an energy storage system for solar or wind power. Excess energy from either source could be stored as compressed air by way of an electrically-driven compressor.

There's another added value in the technology as well. The engines, being somewhat similar to conventional internal combustion engines, share similar time-tested production techniques - casting and machining for example - and are able to capture the wonders of volume production to keep costs down.

The technology seems like a winner. But if it weren't for carbon fiber it wouldn't be possible.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
For More Information:
MDI Enterprises
http://www.mdi.lu/eng/affiche_eng.php?page=accueil

Tata Motors
http://www.tatamotors.com




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Tatas Plan to Tap Carbon Credit Mart
By Reeba Zachariah
The Times of India

Monday 18 February 2008

Mumbai - For better or worse, free-market environmentalism is gaining credence in the country. And the latest singing hosannas to the idea is one of India's largest conglomerates, the Tata group.

It is putting into place a plan to measure its carbon footprint, reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and figure out how much can the group possibly earn from carbon credits.

Spearheading this initiative at the group is Tata Sons' director JJ Irani. Under him, a 10-member committee comprising top executives from various Tata group companies has been set up. Says Irani,

"The group has always been conscious of being cost efficient. The focus is now shifting towards the environment. We want to be efficient not just economically, but environmentally too. This is (Ratan) Tata's mandate."

A month from now, the group will announce the appointment of a consulting firm, which will work at measuring the carbon footprint spawned by the group. Having done that, it will suggest measures to reduce the breadth of this footprint.

A carbon footprint represents the range of GHG emissions, both direct and indirect, from a firm's operations. In the US and Europe, recent surveys indicate that three out of every four companies are trying to measure the amount of GHG that their businesses generate.

The immediate catalyst behind this exercise is that more than 95% of companies polled in these countries believe there is some business risk in the future if their carbon footprint is not controlled for instance, the fear of regulations like a carbon tax in the future. On the upside, there are immediate incentives, like earning certified emission reductions (CER) or carbon credits for every tonne of GHG reduced. Right now, one carbon credit is valued at Euro 13 (roughly Rs 756). In the case of Indian companies, the Tatas' included, the latter argument is a powerful motivator.

In the Tata fold, group companies like Tata Steel, Tata Motors, Tata Chemicals, Tata Metaliks, Tata Sponge, among others, have either already, or are in the process of implementing clean development mechanism (CDM) projects. Tata Steel, the largest company within the group, hopes to earn a million certified emission reductions (CER), or carbon credits, per annum. At current prices, that will add close to Rs 76 crore to Tata Steel's bottomline.

Carbon credits are also the backbone on which Tata Steel has gotten into a unique arrangement with New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organisation, a Japanese company.

This firm supplied technology and equipment to two of Tata Steel's projects in exchange for carbon credits that will be generated by the projects for a period of 10 years. One such project has the potential to earn 1.5 lakh carbon credits a year. In all, there are about 14-15 projects in Tata Steel's pipeline.

Another group company, Tata Power is in the process of applying for all its renewable (hydro, wind and solar plants) and other appropriate power sources for earning carbon credits. "We are also making an inventory of in-house gases and have plans to further reduce our green house gas emissions," said an executive of Tata Power.

Meanwhile, Tata Motors has reduced carbon emissions of 1.63 lakh metric tonnes by generating energy from wind in Satara and Supe region in Maharashtra, thus earning carbon credits.

The automobile major recently auctioned some of these credits on the Chicago Climate Futures Exchange. Said a Tata Motors spokesperson, "The company has invested in a 42 mw wind farm in Maharashtra in 1999-2000 to promote the use of wind energy. The benefit of this initiative, in terms of CERs up to 2011, is projected to be 32,433 CERs per annum valued at anywhere between Rs 1.5 crore and Rs 2 crore."

6/23/2008 11:16 AM  

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