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Energy, Security, and Climate

CFR experts examine the science and foreign policy surrounding climate change, energy, and nuclear security.

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Showing posts for "oil"

The “Oil Abundance” Narrative is Wrong

by Michael Levi
A mixture of oil, diesel fuel, water and mud sprays as roughnecks wrestle pipe on a True Company oil drilling rig outside Watford, North Dakota, October 20, 2012. Picture taken October 20, 2012. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart A mixture of oil, diesel fuel, water and mud sprays as roughnecks wrestle pipe on a True Company oil drilling rig outside Watford, North Dakota, October 20, 2012. Picture taken October 20, 2012. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart

America has moved from oil scarcity to oil abundance, and our attitudes need to change in order to keep up. If the stream of headlines and panels is any indication, you’d have to be an idiot to disagree with that claim. Read more »

Two New Looks at Energy and Security

by Michael Levi

Three years ago, convinced that U.S. thinking about energy security was stuck in the past, my colleagues and I launched a new CFR effort on energy and national security. Today, forty years after the first oil crisis, CFR is publishing two new products of that effort. These follow earlier publications on energy market transparency, the pivotal role of spare capacity, Iran-related oil market contingencies, transformations in U.S. energy, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, and cyber security for oil and gas, among others. Expect to see more work published in the coming months. Read more »

Keystone, Science, and Politics

by Michael Levi

Jeff Tollefson has an excellent new piece in Nature exploring the debate within the scientific community over Keystone XL. It makes two things pretty clear. As a matter of substance, there’s pretty much no one beyond Jim Hansen willing to come close to endorsing the “game over” claim. Yet there’s still a ton division among scientists – it’s over political tactics instead. Ken Caldeira captures the situation well: “I don’t believe that whether the pipeline is built or not will have any detectable climate effect,” he tells Nature. Nonetheless, here’s his bottom line: “The Obama administration needs to signal whether we are going to move toward zero-emission energy systems or whether we are going to move forward with last century’s energy system”. That sort of sentiment is political– and there’s nothing wrong with it – but, as the Nature article nicely shows, it’s distinct from any scientific debate. Read more »

Energy, Industry, and the Countryside

by Michael Levi

I’ve argued frequently that shale gas and tight oil development can be done safely, given the right practices and the right rules to ensure that those are followed. Over the past month, as I’ve traveled and talked to people about The Power Surge, I’ve heard one powerful countervailing sentiment several times: Even if fracking is done right, aren’t we talking about the industrialization of the countryside? And is that really something we should accept? Read more »

Is China the Real Winner from Iraq’s Oil Boom?

by Michael Levi

Iraqi oil production has boomed in recent years, and Chinese companies have been deeply involved in producing and buying the oil. That prompted headline writers to go with this for a New York Times story on Sunday: “China Is Reaping Biggest Benefits of Iraq Oil Boom”. There’s a lot of good stuff in the article, but the headline rests on a wrongheaded view of how oil trade is intertwined with countries’ economic fortunes. Indeed one could easily argue that the United States, not China, has been the biggest winner (aside from Iraq) from the surge in Iraqi supplies. Read more »

Is OPEC a Paper Tiger? A New Study Says Yes

by Michael Levi

We all know that OPEC colludes to keep oil off the market and prices high. Or do we? There is actually remarkably little agreement on whether OPEC is any good at what it aspires to do. Does membership in OPEC really make countries more likely to constrain their oil output? It’s a question with wide-ranging consequences for everything from the economy to security to climate change. Read more »

The End of Energy as We Know It… In Three Graphs

by Blake Clayton

Want to understand the energy challenges the world might face in the future? There are few better places to turn than this year’s BP Energy Outlook to 2030, an annual publication that shows the company’s projections for energy supply and demand over the next two decades. The three graphs below highlight some of the trends likely to define the energy landscape in the years ahead, in BP’s view. Read more »

Bad News for Pessimists Everywhere: Malthus Was Wrong

by Blake Clayton

There is a tempting intuition to the idea that the real prices of non-renewable goods like coal, iron ore, or oil should rise, more or less, forever. It’s an easy argument to make, and it sounds right: The world’s population is getting bigger and bigger, so more and more goods like metals and hydrocarbons are being consumed. Every year, the sum total of what we’ve taken out of the ground mounts, never to be replaced. Supply of the stuff is limited—once it’s gone, it’s gone. So, this argument goes, as we exhaust our resources, we’ll have to mine, drill, or otherwise get our hands on it somehow but it will get more and more expensive to do so, because we’ll have exhausted the best stuff. Left to exploit ever-greater quantities of ever-more-marginal deposits, prices will rise indefinitely into the future. Read more »