Category Archives: Guest Blog

A Short List of People Who Can Bite My Shiny Metal Ass*

Guest blog by S. A. Shelley: As is usual every spring, many large entities ranging from super major oil producers to large Wall Street firms and global organizations release annual energy statistics, reports and forecasts about the world’s energy state. Invariably discussed are subjects like energy mix, demand or supply projections. Often these entities will venture into discussing oil prices and associated forecasts. All those entities have big research budgets and teams of analysts, statisticians and economists pouring over mountains of data. However, even with all those highly paid personnel, and I suspect some added AI, those big entities are at best equal to the analysis undertaken by OWOE staffers, but more often than not, much worse. Apparently, nobody can beat curiosity, whisky and voodoo.

Take the IEA for example and their 2024 Oil demand supply forecast published last month (Oil 2024 – Analysis – IEA ). Up front in the Executive Summary, the analysts boldly write:

Divergent regional economic trajectories and the accelerating deployment of clean and energy-saving technologies are combining to progressively slow the pace of oil demand growth, with a plateau emerging in the final years of our forecast, which runs to 2030.

Compare this to what OWOE analysts humbly wrote in a blog in 2021:

To reiterate, the decline in old demand growth is in response to changes in energy consumption, improvements in energy efficiency and the arrival of new technology that displace oil consumption.

The analysts at IEA can bite my shiny metal ass.

According to researchers at the Bank of America, oil demand is on the rocks. I have not yet found a copy of that Bank of America report, and I welcome any reader to send me a link. Instead, I have to rely upon second-hand reporting but I have faith that the journalists at the Financial Post and Reuters are credible. Continuing with the matter at hand, those same Bank of America analysts concluded that the drop in oil demand would be met by price increases instead of the expected decreases .

Bank of America (BofA) Global Research has raised its 2024 Brent and WTI oil price forecasts, citing escalating geopolitical tensions and the OPEC+ producer group maintaining supply curbs.

Newsflash BoA strategists, I commented about oil suppliers maximizing their best interests and thus potentially flooding oil markets in that same blog in 2021.

Even if demand improves a bit this year, be ready for another oil price downturn as the excess supply available is still much greater than any demand increase that I foresee.  (Oops, I just forecast oil price, which when I started blogging, I promised to never do.)

Others also noted in June that oil prices are sluggish and weak, again because of geopolitical risk and slowing demand growth. Geopolitical risk be damned; we commented on demand sluggishness a few years ago. I raise my cup to the Bank of America strategists as they can also bite my shiny metal ass.

Even the oft cited analysts over at Rystad often get their oil forecasts wrong or late. Rystad Predicts Near Zero Oil Supply Growth in 2024. We discussed this in a series of blogs in 2019 (The Great Oil Slump of the 2020s – Part 1, SupplyThe Great Oil Slump of the 2020s – Part 2b, Demand and Technology) .  The much anticipated annual global energy outlook by BP confirms the much earlier forecasts by OWOE analysts on everything from peak oil demand to rapidly accelerating supply of renewables. Again, with all due respect, the analysts at Rystad and BP can bite my shiny metal ass.

And please don’t get me started about the analysts at Exxon, the World Bank or worst of all the federal government and most of the provincial and municipal governments in Canada.  In Canada it seems that ranging between extreme cold in winter and heat waves in summer has snapped the last synapses of the government officials and their high-level bureaucrats. Panic mode is never a good idea. Perpetual panic mode is worse.

Surely with all those incorrect and late forecasts bantered about by heavyweight firms and organizations something must be wrong with the data? No, it’s not the data, it’s the broad observations and multi-layered connections that most of these very well paid analysts overlook. Many decades ago,  historian James Burke had a series on BBC about “Connections“.  In the BBC series, he discusses the often-overlooked manner in which change in one technology can profoundly impact another technology in an unforeseeable manner. We alluded to such impacts in our blog about the “Cobra Effect“. Highly paid analysts have a very narrow mindset, oft succumbing to herding influences, and thus miss the novel connections that are reshaping our world. At OWOE, we ponder wide scopes and wonder how interconnections can play out.

Consequently, most of those over paid analysts and strategists can’t keep up to the volunteer OWOE staffers.

As always,

Shut down Line 5 and Vive l’Alberta libre

*With most gracious thanks to Bender, of Futurama, for this phrase.

In Memoriam, Ubo  2012 to 2024

Figure 1 – Ubo

On Saturday, June 29, Ubo, the faithful bike companion of this blogger was stolen in Houston. Ubo was a 21-gear road churning fun machine. He was the best wing man when I pulled up to chat with pretty women in convertible Ferraris or Porsches. Ubo got me through storms of all kind. It didn’t matter if it was tropical rains or freezing ice storms, we often went where no cars or trucks could follow.  In 12 years we were only hit twice and every year he kept me above the snakes in the road (of which there are too many in Houston in spring). Ubo is deeply missed.

Natural Gas is God’s Gift to Humanity

Guest blog by S. A. Shelley: OK, another inciteful blog but that’s the OWOE writing team’s style, gleefully stoking controversy.

The term “fossil fuels” is one of the greatest marketing triumphs that the environmentalists ever adopted. “Fossil” suggests old and outdated, coming from some pre-historic, ancient, way-back, long-ago-dead biologic entities. The uses for fossil fuels also reflect “old” technologies, cooking, training and steam shipping (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1 Using Fossil Fuels from Ancient (left) to Modern Times (right)

Coal is definitely a fossil fuel and you can’t dig in a coal bed without digging up fossils of plants and animals. Oil maybe, but the abiotic origins of oil are just as likely as the biologic synthesis theories. However natural gas (methane) is very unlikely a fossil fuel. In our solar system, we have big planets and moons with significant amounts of methane comprising their atmospheres. Methane is quite common in our solar system and probably the universe. It is quite possible that impact events in the Hadrean or Archean eras could have deposited methane onto the earth.   

Why then is methane labelled a fossil fuel?  For one, methane results from certain biochemical processes. Secondly, methane arises during the decay of organic matter and coal beds often have pockets of methane associated with them. Thus, if coal is fossil fuel, then so too must be the associated methane. Grade school reasoning at its best. Yet a lot of methane also arises naturally in the coldness of space. Finally, in terms of energy transition and climate change arguments it helps if methane is lumped together with those other dirty fuels. Remember however, that compared to coal, burning methane to generate power releases 40% less CO2 emissions than coal per MWh generated. Blend about 10% hydrogen into the natural gas mix, something that can be done using existing gas pipelines and infrastructure and you’ll achieve another 5% reduction in carbon emissions per MWh generated. Doable, right?

But that’s the problem with a lot of politicians and ideologues on both sides of any argument. The goal now is to label something or someone as abhorrent and then run with it. Oppose my ideology, then you are a (pick one): Marxist, Fascist, idiot or patriarchal knuckle dragger. With the intense rhetoric tossed about it becomes nearly impossible then to reason for sensible steps that will move civilization towards a low carbon future. It is, by most politicians, more important to manufacture total consent and quash any dissent than it is to implement truly progressive solutions.

Natural gas is a part of the problem of carbon emissions, but it is also a very important step towards the solution of reducing carbon emissions. Kudos to the Philippines for choosing to build out gas infrastructure including LNG (  Energy Tracker  ;  AP News  ) instead of turning to the much more abundant coal from nearby Australia. Natural gas is the perfect two-sided coin to stoke outbursts from both sides of the energy and environment battle: But this is my position and I’ll stand by it even if I have to slap every Federal Liberal cabinet minister in Ottawa : Stop increasing coal exports (Canada’s coal exports up again in 2023 as government’s promised ban elusive | Globalnews.ca ) and start increasing natural gas exports to displace coal everywhere possible. Then shut down Line 5.

Vive l’Alberta Libre!

There Are Some Good Government Entities

Guest blog by S. A. Shelley: The U.S. Federal Government is a huge organization that is staffed by some very bright people. There are also nearly 1,000 advisory committees in Washington, comprising leaders from industry, science and the arts. For the most part, the advisory committees concern themselves with publicly available information and have public meetings, but there are a few which require security clearance and concern themselves with confidential matters of state. These advisory committees are a valuable resource upon which the Federal Government can call to review policies and assist with formulating strategies.

Continue reading There Are Some Good Government Entities

Interesting Energy Stories You May Have Missed

Guest blog by Manny Topiques Here are some interesting and somewhat offbeat energy stories that haven’t gotten much media attention over the past year.

Is coal the new future for clean energy? In an amazing new discovery just announced by NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), the Perseverance Rover discovered an outcropping of high quality space coal not far from the spacecraft’s 2021 landing site. Using its rotary percussive coring drill, the rover was able to penetrate approximate 6 meters below the planet’s surface to confirm that this outcropping was the surface exposure of a large deposit of anthracite space coal. Further exploration on future missions will be required to determine if this deposit is native to Mars or the remains of a meteor that impacted the surface in the distant past.

Continue reading Interesting Energy Stories You May Have Missed

Ossification

Guest blog by S. A. Shelley: Change is inevitable unless you’re well established. There is a reason why empires are lost to history, governments are overthrown, businesses collapse, and academia becomes irrelevant. The established organizations or systems could not change fast enough to respond to imminent threats, emerging technologies or changes in consumer habits.  When faced with such challenges established systems, especially governments, harden themselves. In extreme cases you end up with kingdoms such as North Korea. But in most cases, you end up with economically declining and socially irrelevant states like Canada. It is a problem of ossification of thought, of edicts being churned out ever more frequently with worse effects. It applies to everything from healthcare and education to defense and energy policy.

Continue reading Ossification

If the Oil Sands Were in Quebec, Canada Would Be Outproducing Saudi Arabia

Guest blog by S. A. Shelley: There are a lot of peculiarities about Canada that foreigners do not understand and residents shamefully ignore. For one, Canada is one of the biggest money laundering countries in the world.  Ask any person on the street about the dangers of corruption and he or she will point to places overseas, oblivious to the extensive graft in Canada. Graft and corruption exist at every government level and in every region of Canada. But the governments choose to overlook these things. Coupled with outright incompetence, Canada does not look good for common folks striving to make a better life.

Continue reading If the Oil Sands Were in Quebec, Canada Would Be Outproducing Saudi Arabia

Interesting Energy Stories You May Have Missed

Guest blog by Yumusbe Joacquin: Here are some interesting and somewhat offbeat energy stories that haven’t gotten much media attention over the past year.

Wind Turbines Causing Earth to Speed Up

In 2020 scientists noticed that the earth’s rotation had begun to speed up. Historically, the earth has been slowing down, primarily due to the drag created by the gravitation effect of the moon. The International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service (IERS) has been adding leap seconds every now and again to make up for the slower spin (which last happened on December 31, 2016). However, there were 28 days in 2020 where the earth actually spun faster than any time during the previous 60 years. And on July 26, 2022, the earth completed its quickest-ever spin with a rotation that was 1.50 milliseconds less than its nominal 24-hours.

Continue reading Interesting Energy Stories You May Have Missed

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Reality

Guest blog by S.A. Shelley: For some time, I’ve written in previous blogs that the world has gone nuts with respect to energy policies and proclamations. Too much emphasis is on a speedy , if not immediate, Green Energy transition that does not mesh with physical reality. Politicians are master tacticians but lousy strategists and while the world needs more green and renewable energy and associated products, the world is instead starting to see uncontrolled cost increases, supply chain bottlenecks, and increasing local opposition to energy salvation. Reality bites.

Continue reading A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Reality

In Canada It’s OK to Cut Down Trees but It’s Not OK to Export LNG

Guest Blog by S. A. Shelley: Welcome dear readers to another blog highlighting more energy follies. The world is a mess on several levels, with equity markets roiling, bonds markets churning and of course inflation running amok. Politicians at every level use every hurricane to announce that catastrophic climate change has arrived, and every excuse except fiscal imprudence as the sinister root cause for inflation (nytimes.com, nbcnews.com). We have Europeans still worrying about heat this winter and OPEC+ machinating oil prices. In response to OPEC+ moves, Washington intelligentsia responded by condemning OPEC while sidelining any effort to increase US oil production let alone finish the Keystone XL pipeline. In Europe, Germany has rapidly fired up previously shut down coal burning power plants, and citizens in Austria are scavenging forests for firewood (euronews.com, abcnews.com). In one panicked moment Germany has fallen back to fossil fuels and will once again pump more CO2 into the atmosphere than when it began its Energiewende. Perhaps the sudden new German energy plan is to accelerate global warming to prevent freezing of its populace?

Continue reading In Canada It’s OK to Cut Down Trees but It’s Not OK to Export LNG

I Call BS!

Guest blog by S.A. Shelley: WARNING: Adult language and un-woke phrases are embedded in this blog.

Writing a good blog takes some forethought and planning. But sometimes, nay too often these days, so many politicians of all stripes are continuing to make horrendously dumb statements regarding energy matters that I feel compelled to write a rebuttal to something that Angela Merkle, the former German Chancellor, said last week.

Continue reading I Call BS!