Friday, February 24, 2012
IS THIS THE BEGINNING OF PEAK OIL?
But first, it is Friday, and my weekend began beautifully with a glorious Honolulu sunrise:
But to the question above....NO! Yes, there has been a bump in world oil prices, but this has mostly been stimulated by a terrible European economy and the concern about whether Israel will attack Iran, as underscored by the price differential of the European Brent Spot $127/barrel and American WTI Cushing $108/barrel. This spread is a relatively recent phenomenon:
As recently as September of last year, the price was below $80/barrel (WTI). That horrendous spike to $147/barrel was three and a half years ago, but the price dropped to $36/barrel only six months later:
While the only certainty on oil prices is the uncertainty, chances are that oil prices will soon return to $100/barrel levels for the WTI. Unless, of course, Israel does bomb nuclear targets in Iran. Then look for $150/barrel, for a short while, anyway. The selling price of oil will continue to depend on geo-political factors...until PEAK OIL.
Keep in mind, though, that the Chicago Mercantile Exchange has petroleum on:
November 2012 $110/barrel
December 2020 $ 86/barrel
Yes, $86/barrel almost nine years into the future! These are serious investors who are not the least concerned about Peak Oil. Of course, if you buy at $86/barrel today, and Peak Oil results in $200/barrel oil in December of 2020, you will make a killing.
As an aside, Madeleine Austin today sent me a New York Times article written by Tom Ridge and Mary Peters entitled:
The bottom line, they report, is that methanol from natural gas costs $1.13/gallon, and, while this fuel has only half the energy content of gasoline, methanol, after taxes, profits, etc., should cost $3/gallon at the pump.
However, my crusade for biomethanol (methanol from biomass) is not to burn it in an internal combustion engine, but to power the car with a direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC), which would take the vehicle five times further than one running on lithium batteries. And the reason why methanol is better than hydrogen is that, first, one gallon of methanol has 1.4 times more accessible hydrogen than a gallon of LIQUID HYDROGEN. Do you know how much liquid hydrogen costs? That is #2, plus #3 is that there is no significant infrastructure for a gas (as opposed to liquid) delivery system. Click on this analysis by Sandy Thomas (above left), president of H2Gen Innovations, then extend this argument to a fuel cell powered by biomethanol.
Finally, and for reasons that mystify me, there is almost no appreciation of the fact that methanol is the ONLY liquid capable of being directly and efficiently (well, someday, perhaps) processed by a fuel cell. So why don't we do this already? Because the Farm Lobby (and, maybe, too, oil industry, for they have long been fearing this methane to methanol option to prematurely replace gasoline) prevented the Department of Energy from conducting much research on the DMFC. But the concept is real, for Toshiba is already marketing a DMFC for portable applications, and there are finally signs that the Department of Energy might now be considering this alternative.
Since the mid-70's I have been advocating a biomass to methanol economy to power a DMFC for ground transport. I see enough movement now that in a decade, this will finally happen, which is an optimistic statement, for commercialization of any new energy option usually takes a quarter century. Read my Huffington Post articles on this subject:
Economy to be later completed.