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News from January 2014

No pipe dream: Is fracking about to arrive on your doorstep?

No pipe dream: Is fracking about to arrive on your doorstep? thumbnail

For the past several years, I’ve been writing about what happens when big oil and gas corporations drill where people live. “Fracking” — high-volume hydraulic fracturing, which extracts oil and methane from deep shale — has become my beat. My interviewees live in Pennsylvania’s shale-gas fields; among Wisconsin’s hills, where corporations have been mining silica, […]


A Forecast of Our Energy Future; Why Common Solutions Don’t Work

A Forecast of Our Energy Future; Why Common Solutions Don’t Work thumbnail

In order to understand what solutions to our energy predicament will or won’t work, it is necessary to understand the true nature of our energy predicament. Most solutions fail because analysts assume that the nature of our energy problem is quite different from what it really is. Analysts assume that our problem is a slowly […]


Teapots Boiling in Texas as Shale Spurs Refining Revival

Teapots Boiling in Texas as Shale Spurs Refining Revival thumbnail

Near the only four-way stoplight in Nixon, Texas, smoke rises off a pilot flare at the Blue Dolphin Energy Co. (BDCO) refinery that had sat cold for two decades. The employee parking lot is full, tanker trucks line up to unload crude and the silver distillation tower thrums. None of that was happening two years […]


Today’s Peasant Movement – Sophisticated, Threatened, and Our Best Hope for Survival

Today’s Peasant Movement – Sophisticated, Threatened, and Our Best Hope for Survival thumbnail

(Image: La Via Campesina)The term peasant often conjures up images of medieval serfs out of touch with the ways of the world around them. Such thinking is out of date. Today, peasants proudly and powerfully put forward effective strategies to feed the planet and limit the damages wrought by industrial agriculture. What’s more, they understand […]


Iran can now build and deliver nukes

Iran can now build and deliver nukes thumbnail

Tehran has capacity to break out to bomb if it wishes, intelligence chief James Clapper tells Senate, but would be detected if it tried to do so An Iranian worker at the Uranium Conversion Facility at Isfahan, 410 kilometers, south of Tehran. The conversion facility in Isfahan reprocesses uranium ore concentrate, known as yellowcake, into […]


Commuting To Distant Oil Fields: Good Money, At A Price

Commuting To Distant Oil Fields: Good Money, At A Price thumbnail

Credit: A train at the station in Williston N.D., prepares for departure. (Annie Flanagan for NPR) Think your commute is bad? Try 580 miles, one-way. Door to door, that’s how far Rory Richardson travels between his home in western Montana and his job on the oil fields near Williston, N.D. Often, he makes the trip […]


Lawmakers Mull Lifting Longtime Ban on Oil Exports

Lawmakers Mull Lifting Longtime Ban on Oil Exports thumbnail

Lawmakers debated ending a decades-old ban on exporting crude oil overseas on Thursday, revisiting a restriction enacted at the height of America’s oil worries and seen by some as outdated amid a domestic energy boom. At a hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, lawmakers and policy experts weighed the price stability of […]


Why the world needs Transition

Why the world needs Transition thumbnail

  New Economy interactive infographic from New England Transition. Click and explore. There are many approaches to the three main crises threatening civilization today, namely, climate change, peak oil and economic crisis. The problem is that most of them won’t work. Weak and cowardly Most are too little, too late. Even though stimulus and austerity […]


Marcellus Shale Gale Shifts Geography Of Natural Gas Supply And Demand

Marcellus Shale Gale Shifts Geography Of Natural Gas Supply And Demand thumbnail

Natural gas production ticked up in the United States by about 1% last year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. This modest growth masks massive changes in the geography of domestic gas production, which has strained operating conditions on at least one major interstate natural gas pipeline in the Northeast. The primary pipelines that […]


Fusion: Update on the International ITER Project

Fusion: Update on the International ITER Project thumbnail

According to Brig. General Stephen Cheney, CEO of the American Security Project, “The science is proven, the engineering is not.” That is how Wednesday, January 29, 2014’s ASP hosted event “Fusion: Update on the International ITER Project” was introduced. ITER is an international fusion research and engineering project which combines the resources and intellect of […]


Big Oil Companies Struggle to Justify Soaring Project Costs

Big Oil Companies Struggle to Justify Soaring Project Costs thumbnail

A group that includes Exxon and Shell plans to spend $40 billion to pump oil from man-made islands in the Caspian Sea. The project’s budget has ballooned from $10 billion. NCOC/Associated Press Chevron Corp. CVX -0.72% , Exxon Mobil Corp. XOM -0.56% and Royal Dutch Shell RDSB.LN +3.11% PLC spent more than $120 billion in […]


Shell Stops Alaska Program in Year of ‘Hard Choices’

Shell Stops Alaska Program in Year of ‘Hard Choices’ thumbnail

Royal Dutch Shell revealed Thursday that 2014 will see the company stop its Alaska program and focus on achieving better capital efficiency by making ‘hard choices’ about new projects and reducing capital spending. Announcing its results for 2013, Shell said that the landscape the company had expected has changed and it cited factors such as the worsening […]


Enough is Enough

Enough is Enough thumbnail

Enough Is Enough lays out a visionary but realistic alternative to the perpetual pursuit of economic growth—an economy where the goal is enough, not more. Based on the best-selling book by Rob Dietz and Dan O’Neill, the film explores specific strategies to fix the financial system, reduce inequality, create jobs, and more. Drawing on the […]


Map: Iraq’s Oil & Gas Infrastruture

Map: Iraq’s Oil & Gas Infrastruture thumbnail

In January, Iraq  found itself once more  beset by a wave of insurgency, as Sunni extremists took hold of large areas of Ramadi and all of Fallujah, the two main cities in Anbar province. Given its strategic importance to global oil supply, our Design and Production team have put together this map detailing the complex […]


World Bank Ex-Chief Economist Calls For End To Dollar As Reserve Currency

World Bank Ex-Chief Economist Calls For End To Dollar As Reserve Currency thumbnail

In the past we have discussed at length the inevitable demise of the USD as the world’s reserve currency noting that nothing lasts forever. However, when former World Bank chief economist Justin Yifu Lin warns that “the dominance of the greenback is the root cause of global financial and economic crises,” we suspect the world […]


John Michael Greer: A Bargain with the Archdruid

John Michael Greer: A Bargain with the Archdruid thumbnail

My anomalous position as a writer and speaker on the future of industrial society who holds down a day job as an archdruid has its share of drawbacks, no question, but it also has significant advantages.  One of the most important of those is that I don’t have to worry about maintaining a reputation as […]


Rebels in Syria Claim Control of Resources

Rebels in Syria Claim Control of Resources thumbnail

Islamist rebels and extremist groups have seized control of most of Syria’s oil and gas resources, a rare generator of cash in the country’s war-battered economy, and are now using the proceeds to underwrite their fights against one another as well as President Bashar al-Assad, American officials say. While the oil and gas fields are […]


Oil Boom: See A Modern-Day Gold Rush In Motion

Oil Boom: See A Modern-Day Gold Rush In Motion thumbnail

Credit: Ritter Brothers, a jewelry and gift store in Williston, N.D., sells miniature oil rigs and other oil-related novelties. (Annie Flanagan for NPR) If you’ve seen any coverage of North Dakota’s oil boom, you’ve seen the images — oil rigs, truck traffic, “man camps,” miles of temporary housing. But there is something about this place […]


Mexico’s Pemex makes new light crude oil find in deep water Gulf field

Mexico’s Pemex makes new light crude oil find in deep water Gulf field thumbnail

Mexico’s state-run oil company Pemex has found light crude at its deep water Exploratus-1 well in the Perdido Fold Belt in the Gulf of Mexico, a senior company official said in an interview on Wednesday. Exploratus-1 struck light crude at a depth of approximately 3,600 meters (11,811 feet) below the sea floor, said Carlos Morales, […]


China May Have Deployed More Solar in 2013 Alone Than America Has Installed Altogether

China May Have Deployed More Solar in 2013 Alone Than America Has Installed Altogether thumbnail

China has the fastest train in the world, the most megacities in the world, and the biggest population. Now China can boast a new record: It has installed the most solar PV in one year. Preliminary figures released by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) show that China installed 12,000 megawatts of solar in 2013 — beating […]


How much natural gas is enough?

How much natural gas is enough? thumbnail

Oh, to be in the fuel oil or propane business these days (!), I think to myself every time I hear the boiler in the basement ignite with a shudder or listen to the whoosh of the blue enamel propane heater in our drafty kitchen. Of course, I realize it is no fun delivering fossil […]


Harvard report takes a look inside the Fukushima exclusion zone

Harvard report takes a look inside the Fukushima exclusion zone thumbnail

The real and continuing effects from Fukushima still loom large closest to the radiation zone and within Tokyo where it impacts food, trade and water. Much of the population has a skewed view of the safety since the meltdown of several reactors occurred in 2011, in part due to unreliable reports and reluctant confirmations about […]


Iraq eyes return to Opec quota system

Iraq eyes return to Opec quota system thumbnail

Iraq has for the first time begun preparing for a return to the Opec production quota system, in a shift of policy that reduces the prospect of oversupply and lower prices in global oil markets. Iraq, whose oil industry has recovered rapidly since the US-led invasion a decade ago, is expected to be one of […]


Simpler ways to stay warm

Simpler ways to stay warm thumbnail

Every day, it seems, acquaintances send me articles about how to live better or save energy, many of which neglect the most obvious answers. They often report inventions that could increase fuel efficiency by 10 percent, ignoring the 500 percent increase you get from packing more people in a car. Others praise the junk foods […]


The problem with mining

The problem with mining thumbnail

Table courtesy of Steven Rocco. The image above is one of the best illustrations of the real problem we have with mining. As it was said already with the 1972 study “The Limits to Growth” we are NOT running out of anything. What we are running out of is the resources needed for mining, facing […]


America’s Energy Revolution Transforms International Relations

America’s Energy Revolution Transforms International Relations thumbnail

North America’s energy revolution is remaking all aspects of the global economy and international relations in what has turned out to be the most profound shift in the second decade of the 21st century. Policymakers and climate scientists prefer to talk about the transformational potential of clean technologies like wind, solar and electric vehicles. But […]


The Ridiculousness Of Economics?

The Ridiculousness Of Economics? thumbnail

People have a strange habit of ridiculing economics for its assumptions and [benchmark] models of optimality. While modern mathematical economics (i.e., professional mathturbation) admittedly rely on sometimes outrageous assumptions that make most of the resulting predictions irrelevant, there is nothing ridiculous or unscientific about economic reasoning. In order to study the social world we need to […]


Iraq and Iran plot oil revolution in challenge to Saudi Arabia

Iraq and Iran plot oil revolution in challenge to Saudi Arabia thumbnail

Iraq’s goal of pumping 9m barrels a day of crude could be a game changer for oil prices and British companies. Iraq is poised to flood the oil market by tripling its capacity to pump crude by 2020 and is collaborating with Iran on strategy in a move that will challenge Saudi Arabia’s grip on […]


Oil price volatility undermines economic growth

Oil price volatility undermines economic growth thumbnail

Report co-authored by the former government chief scientific adviser says fossil fuels damage more than the environment   Professor Sir David King was chief scientific adviser to Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, and advises William Hague these days. Photograph: David Sillitoe for the Guardian Governments need to deter oil speculators, set aside reserves of crude […]


Argentina’s Shale Industry Lures International Oil Companies

Argentina’s Shale Industry Lures International Oil Companies thumbnail

The whole world knows that shale revolutionized the U.S. energy industry. Now oil and gas executives are salivating when they think of Argentina’s booming shale industry. Argentina ranks second in the world, behind China, in potentially recoverable shale-gas reserves, with 802 trillion cubic feet, according to a study last October by the U.S. Energy Information […]


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