Thursday, January 3, 2008

The Coming Oil Crash (or not). And: Congress Says NO to Oil Shale Rules

Why should I make a directional bet when I can hedge (weasel)?

The oil shale reserves (potential, not proven/probable) are estimated at 1.3 to 1.8 Trillion barrels. Aramco says Saudi reserves are ~260 Billion barrels, although this is considered high by Matthew Simmons, among others.

From Economics:

Crude at $100 a barrel makes good headlines but ignores basic economics. Why oil prices are in for a 50 percent drop.
If you haven't got the message that something disturbing is happening in the oil world, stop by my office. On my desk, I have a pile of books a foot high with titles like Out of Gas, The End of Oil, and Twilight in the Desert. The authors range from geologists to journalists to policy wonks, and they all tell the same story.

...Nobody in the oil market—not Wall Street, not Exxon Mobil, not even OPEC—can sustain prohibitively high prices for very long, a point that Sheik Yamani, the Saudi oil minister during the oil price shocks of the '70s and '80s, recognized.
"If we force Western governments to invest heavily in finding alternative sources of energy, they will," he said in 1981, shortly after OPEC production cuts caused the price of crude to hit a record of $39.50 a barrel—roughly $100 a barrel in 2007 dollars. "This will take them no more than seven to 10 years and will result in their reduced dependence on oil as a source of energy to a point which will jeopardize Saudi Arabia's interests."
On the other hand, we have this tidbit in the appropriations bill:

None of the funds made available by this Act shall be used to prepare or publish final regulations regarding a commercial leasing program for oil shale resources on public lands pursuant to section 369(d) of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (Public Law 109-58) or to conduct an oil shale lease sale pursuant to subsection 369(e) of such Act.

Here's the story from the Summit Daily News:

Bill could delay regulations for oil shale
A spending bill that the U.S. House of Representatives was expected to consider Monday night included language that would prevent the Bureau of Land Management from issuing commercial oil shale leasing regulations next fiscal year.

But the bill did not contain any language for a one-year moratorium on drilling on BLM lands on the Roan Plateau, something U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar had tried unsuccessfully to include in an energy bill that passed last week. Language in the spending bill the House was set to consider Monday blocks the BLM from offering commercial oil shale leases during the 2008 fiscal year. The Senate is planning on reviewing it today, Valencia said....MORE

Meanwhile, the Grand Junction Sentinel has been covering every aspect of what should be a big story, nationwide:
Oil shale options equally dramatic for Western Slope - (12.31.2007)
Future shock - (12.26.2007)
Feds: Oil shale's role 'minimal' in climate change - (12.25.2007)
BLM: Report a worst case for oil shale effects - (12.21.2007)
Officials' opinions on oil shale mixed - (12.20.2007)
Study: Oil shale's effects profound - (12.20.2007)
BLM proposes setting aside 2 million acres for oil shale - (12.20.2007)
Senators trade blows over oil shale royalties - (12.18.2007)