Pushing Petroleum: Saudi Arabian Prince Admits the Kingdom Wants To Lower Oil Prices To Discourage Pursuit of Alternative Fuels

There was a refreshing moment of truthful clarity last week from Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal during an interview on “CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS.” Prince Talal admitted that the Saudis want to lower oil prices to avoid moves toward other energy sources and away from oil. It is the same principle upon which drug dealers offer cut-rate narcotics to keep the addiction going for their customers.


Talal, the grandson of the founder of Saudi Arabia, wants oil down to $70 and $80 a barrel. Why? “We don’t want the West to go and find alternatives, because, clearly, the higher the price of oil goes, the more they have incentives to go and find alternatives.”

Once again, Congress appears to be helping out by reducing support for renewable energy sources and continuing the mantra of “drill baby drill.” President Obama has joined the chorus and opened up pristine areas for oil development– a move that not only brings great environmental risks but guarantees to keep our addiction to oil going strong.

Source: CNN

61 thoughts on “Pushing Petroleum: Saudi Arabian Prince Admits the Kingdom Wants To Lower Oil Prices To Discourage Pursuit of Alternative Fuels

  1. Gee, WHAT a surprise! If you look at who is behind the climate change denier industry, who is behind the “clean coal” or the natural gas alternative you will find the money all comes from, the petroleum masters, coal operators and T. Boone Pickens (who just LOVES him some fracking but uses wind as a trojan horse).

    These guys don’t want us to break our addiction because that would mean an end to their dictating to our country.

  2. “Talal, the grandson of the founder of Saudi Arabia, wants oil down to $70 and $80 a barrel.”

    Which is right about what the cost of production is, plus a few bucks piled on for profit. How simplistic. This will not, indeed, it cannot happen, because of both Western and international speculators who are making trillions of dollars a year off the backs of both the original producers and Western consumers by rhythmically inflating and deflating the oil commodity bubble. Seems the good prince needs a lesson in speculative commodities markets.

    He and his brethren, the folks actually producing and selling the oil, have no more control over the price per barrel than I do.

  3. The Moar You Know
    1, May 31, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    [snip]

    This will not, indeed, it cannot happen, because of both Western and international speculators who are making trillions of dollars a year off the backs of both the original producers and Western consumers by rhythmically inflating and deflating the oil commodity bubble. Seems the good prince needs a lesson in speculative commodities markets.
    ——————————————

    But… Markets exist within governmental regulatory constructs. Those governmental regulatory constructs are largely the product of the legislators and regulators withing governments like the US. The legislators and regulators in the US and other countries largely respond to the influence of lobbyists and opportunities for “revolving door” jobs. (aka “regulatory capture”)

    So, the question is: are the speculators as well organized in terms of lobbying and offering future jobs to the legislators and regulators as the oil industry clearly is?

    I have long wondered how much the oil industry is consciously aware of the issue that the Prince brings up? So, it seems at least a few in the industry see the problem. The question is whether BP, Haliburton and the rest pick up the phones, authorize their lobbyists to make “donations” and start telling their “captured” legislators and regulators to clamp down on the speculation.

  4. tomdarch, “I have long wondered how much the oil industry is consciously aware of the issue that the Prince brings up?”


    This is a predictable cycle. I have seen this many times. The wild card this time is the speculation angle and it doesn’t look like the government is interested in restraining the speculators in oil or food. The oil speculation is under the purview of the The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and they are well aware of the problem but have done nothing to enforce the Dodd-Frank bill and republican/conservative members of Congress are doing everything possible to prevent any future implementation.

    http://thinkprogress.org/romm/2011/03/19/207724/speculation-oil-prices-watchdog/

    “The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) “” which is charged with policing the country’s futures markets “” said last week that speculation on energy futures, including oil, is at an all-time high. The Dodd-Frank financial reform law gave the CFTC the ability to issue limits on oil speculation, but agency missed the deadline for implementing the new rules, partly due to reluctance from conservative members of the CFTC board (which is a problem President Obama can address in June). … “

  5. Yes it does.

    “The GOP admits speculation is helping boost oil prices, moves to gut speculation watchdog anyway.”

  6. Wait, you mean people in the market will do what benefits them the most, versus what will benefit everyone the most? But if everyone does this, and not everyone’s actions have equal weight, that means that the market won’t work out what’s best for everyone, but what’s best for those who have the most influence.

    Huh.

  7. speculation is part of the process of keeping oil supplies stable. It is part of the market.

    I think inflation has quite a good deal to do with the price of oil. Gold has more than doubled in cost since 2006, from 600-700 per ounce to over 1500 per ounce.

    It may seem like a good idea but I think it would have a negative impact on the price of oil. Initially it might go down but over time it would rise because of incomplete signals/information to producers. I believe this would cause a shortage at some point in the future with a higher cost per barrel than we now have.

    Speculators are “betting” on the future price of a barrel of oil. Some are betting on $130 some on $150. If something happens that would impact the future price, say offshore drilling, then some of that $130 and $150 per barrel oil will be released now because the price in the future will be less. Extra supply in the present should decrease price.

    Maybe we could say speculators are the feedback mechanism which keeps the system stable?

  8. “Maybe we could say speculators are the feedback mechanism which keeps the system stable?”

    You know how I know you don’t know how feedback works?

  9. Gyges,

    I’m going to guess because it’s obvious by the insipid nature of that statement.

  10. And of course the Saudis want to discourage alternative energy.

    Without oil, they have nothing but an oppressed populace and no income with which to oppress them or excess capital to use in funding international terrorism. No oil = a likely ugly end to the “royal” family. Screw ’em. I can’t wait for the day when the Saudi people rise up and eat their royals since that is apparently the only way any justice will ever be had for the Saudi involvement in 9/11.

  11. Gyges, there is a lot he does not know, but insists on bloviating about it anyway. Reminds me of the comment attributed to Mark Twain: “Better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool, than to open it and remove all doubt.”

  12. Roco
    1, May 31, 2011 at 6:12 pm
    speculation is part of the process of keeping oil supplies stable. It is part of the market.

    [snip]

    Speculators are “betting” on the future price of a barrel of oil.
    ——————————————–

    Roco’s right that some degree of pure “speculation” is probably for the best in a commodity market. But overall, he seems to be making an argument from a High School Sophomore Econ class level. In this case, the accusation is that the “speculators” aren’t simply making small futures bets. Currently, “speculators” make up more of the oil trading market than “end users,” so at very least, the tail is wagging the dog. Also, at the very least, these “ungrounded” speculators create a much more volatile marketplace than end users, that volatility creates uncertainty for everyone in the market, and as the old saw goes, markets hate uncertainty.

    But more than that, there is concern that the “speculators” are not merely holed up in duck blinds, but that they are actively manipulating the market. That argument is more complex, and necessarily speculative. I’ll let others who understand the issues better try to explain some of what may be going on.

    Whether the fact that the oil market is dominated not by end users buy by speculators, or if the speculators are actively manipulating the market, the best approach is probably not to either turn a blind eye or to entirely eliminate speculation, but rather to impose more constraints on speculation, to limit the extent to which such actions can influence the price, which in turn can damage the rest of the world economy.

    On a more partisan aside: First off, the Republicans have nothing to gain by having the US economy recover quickly over the next year or two – quite the opposite – a “double dip” recession would be a gift from God for them in 2012. They also have a great deal of ties with both the oil industry and “Wall Street” (not that Democrats don’t suckle at Wall Street’s droopy old-man-nipples, too…). So, isn’t it in the mid-term best interests of the Republican party to keep oil prices high and economic growth low? What evidence would support or refute the hypothesis that the Republicans are actively trying to impair the recovery and/or keep oil prices high?

  13. Wikileaks: Speculators Helped Cause Oil Bubble
    By Matt Taibbi
    http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/wikileaks-cables-show-speculators-behind-oil-bubble-20110526

    Excerpt:
    When oil prices surged to a ridiculous $147 a barrel in the summer of 2008, conventional wisdom held that normal supply and demand issues were the cause. Both the Bush administration (in the form of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission) and most of Wall Street (through both media figures and market analysts) blamed such factors as increases in oil demand from the Chinese industrial machine, and the failure of Americans to conserve, for the surge in crude prices.

    Goldman Sachs, while outrageously predicting a “super spike” that might cause oil to reach as high as $200 a barrel, blamed piggish American consumers and preached conservation as a bulwark against oil supply disruptions. The bank’s “Oracle of Oil,” Arjun Murti, even broadcast the fact that he owned two hybrid cars.

    Well, thanks to Wikileaks, we now know that when the Bush administration reached out to the Saudis in the summer of ’08 to ask them to increase oil production to lower prices, the Saudis responded by saying they were having a hard time finding buyers for their oil as it was, and instead asked the Bush administration to rein in Wall Street speculators.

    According to the McClatchy report, the Wiki cables show that Saudi ministers repeatedly told Bush administration officials that increasing production might

    **********

    WikiLeaks: Saudis often warned U.S. about oil speculators
    By Kevin G. Hall | McClatchy Newspapers
    http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2011/05/25/114759/wikileaks-saudis-often-warned.html

    Excerpt:
    What role Wall Street investors play in the high cost of oil is a hotly debated topic in Washington. Despite weak demand, the price of a barrel of crude oil surged more than 25 percent in the past year, reaching a peak of $113 May 2 before falling back to a range of $95 to $100 a barrel.

    The Obama administration, the Bush administration before it and Congress have been slow to take steps to rein in speculators. On Tuesday, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, a U.S. regulatory agency, charged a group of financial firms with manipulating the price of oil in 2008. But the commission hasn’t enacted a proposal to limit the percentage of oil contracts a financial company can hold, while Congress remains focused primarily on big oil companies, threatening in hearings last week to eliminate their tax breaks because of the $38 billion in first-quarter profits the top six U.S. companies earned.

    The Saudis, however, have struck a steady theme for years that something should be done to curb the influence of banks and hedge funds that are speculating on the price of oil, according to diplomatic cables made available to McClatchy by the WikiLeaks website.

    The cables show that the subject of speculation has been raised in working group meetings between U.S. and Saudi officials, in one-on-one meetings with American diplomats and at least once with President George W. Bush himself.

    The Saudi concerns about speculation have a particular sheen of credibility. Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest exporter of oil, serving dozens of clients in addition to the United States. As such, it carefully tracks the trends that drive oil prices, which send it billions of additional dollars with every increase.

    But in the cables, Saudi officials explain that they have two primary concerns about artificially high crude prices: that they’ll dampen the long-term demand for oil and that the wide price swings typical of commodity speculation make it difficult for them to plan future oil field development. After that $147 a barrel peak in 2008, for example, prices plunged to $33 a barrel as the global financial crisis rocked the world. That was a stunning change in less than half a year.

    One cable recounts how Dr. Majid al Moneef, Saudi Arabia’s OPEC governor, explained what he thought was the full impact of speculation to U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., who in July 2009 was in Saudi Arabia for the first time.

    According to the cable, Moneef said Saudi Arabia suspected that “speculation represented approximately $40 of the overall oil price when it was at its height.”

    Asked how to curb such speculation, Moneef suggested “improving transparency” — a reference to the fact that most oil trading is conducted outside regulated markets — and better communication among the world’s commodity markets so that oil speculators can’t hide the full extent of their trading positions.

    Moneef also suggested that the U.S. consider “position limits” — restrictions on how much of the oil market a company can control — something the CFTC is considering. But the proposal to prevent any single trader from accumulating more than 10 percent of the oil contracts being traded hasn’t received final approval, and the CFTC also has yet to define what it considers excessive speculation.

  14. speculation\ˌspe-kyə-ˈlā-shən\, n.,

    : an act or instance of speculating: as a : assumption of unusual business risk in hopes of obtaining commensurate gain b : a transaction involving such speculation

    gamble \ˈgam-bəl\, v.,

    1a : to play a game for money or property b : to bet on an uncertain outcome
    2: to stake something on a contingency : take a chance

    rig \rig\, v., vt.,

    1: to manipulate or control usually by deceptive or dishonest means
    2: to fix in advance for a desired result

    fraud \ˈfrȯd\, n.,

    1a : deceit, trickery; specifically : intentional perversion of truth in order to induce another to part with something of value or to surrender a legal right b : an act of deceiving or misrepresenting

    criminal
    adj \ˈkri-mə-nəl, ˈkrim-nəl\, adj.,

    1: relating to, involving, or being a crime
    2: relating to crime or to the prosecution of suspects in a crime
    3: guilty of crime; also : of or befitting a criminal

    Any questions?

  15. Lotta,
    after being out of commission most of the day after a few hours in the dentist chair, I got a kick out of your much “much-tuted” comment! I like it better than the correction!
    The Oil companies and the speculators are doing the American thing. They are pushing up the price of their product and then selling it at an astronomical profit and paying little or no taxes on that profit! I guess Greed is still good.

  16. “Like Wal-Mart or any other successful large enterprise, it’s we who make Big Oil big. Profits come as a result of providing a service most Americans are happy and willing to pay for. Indeed, even gas at current prices hasn’t markedly affected domestic consumption. Indeed, many of those who complain about $4 gasoline from Exxon Mobil don’t hesitate to buy a $4 latte at Starbucks.”

    Johnathan Hoenig

    I see no one has any criticism of what I wrote, just the same old same old. Greed bad, markets bad, big oil bad.

  17. “Roco”,

    That might be because we get tired of playing with the special interests children such as yourself.

  18. Buddha,

    In retrospect, he probably meant a negative feedback, and for whatever reason I just misinterpreted him. Of course, this could just be him getting lucky and accidentally using a word correctly. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt though.

  19. What the Green One said. It gets tiresome reading the same six libertarian talking points over and over. And when all else fails, the libertarian troll resorts to lame ad hominem attacks when called out on his non-responses.

    Roco and his like-minded cohorts would apparently bring this back:

    “A group of anti-Roosevelt and anti-New Deal politicians and business leaders formed an organization in 1933 called the American Liberty League (ALL), ostensibly dedicated to “fostering the right to work, earn, save and acquire property.” The members of the organization demonized all forms of social welfare and pledged that it would do anything necessary to secure their wealth. Apparently, this included staging a military coup to force Roosevelt out of office and replace him with a pro-corporate dictator.”

    Among the conspirators to overthrow the government of the USA and install a Fascist dictatorship was Prescott Bush, father of G.H.W. Bush and grandfather of G.W. Bush and Jeb Bush.

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/05/31/980973/-It-Almost-Happened-Here?via=sidebyuserrec

    And now a musical interlude to clear the palate.

  20. OS and Buddha,

    Er, hate to break this too you but, somebody DID respond to what he wrote, rather well actually.

    http://jonathanturley.org/2011/05/31/pushing-petroleum-saudi-arabian-prince-admits-the-kingdom-wants-to-lower-oil-prices-to-discourage-pursuit-of-alternative-fuels/#comment-235686

    If the basis of Roco’s argument was that gravity made things fall, I’d drop a pencil just to double check.

    Personally I don’t respond because I like to have conversations, and while he may or may not pass a Turring Test (guess what book I just finished), I’ve never seen him actually involved in a dialogue more deeply than a predictable Stimulus/Response level.

  21. Gyges, I agree with you. In fact, on this and that other thread he has had his simplistic talking points dissected with clinical accuracy by a number of users. His comeback is typically something irrelevant or name-calling. That gets old after a while. It is like trying to use logic on a four year old with acute ADHD.

  22. OS,

    Honestly, I suspect the guy’s just the latest avatar of someone who’s been trolling the site for well at least 2 or 3 years now. And I’ve now reached the upper limit on how much consideration I’m willing to give him in one day.

    So, I’m changing the subject. To me, this is the perfect example of the Tragedy of the Commons. Oil use might benefit everyone as individuals, but as a society not working to find another energy source will be pretty damning.

  23. Gyges, I move in a different circle than most. I have several friends who are physicists. One I went to high school with. Looking back, it is a wonder we did not either electrocute ourselves or blow the side out of the house. The past several years, I have been watching the Nobel awards in October because I fully expect his name to pop up one of these years. Another friend is one of the few people on the planet who can fire up the Tevatron and get useful data from it–and she could do it before her 30th birthday.

    My point is, I talk to knowledgeable physicists about energy issues. Obviously, we have no more than fifty to a hundred years to find an alternative source of energy before the fossil fuel supply runs out. There will be solutions out there, but people like my friends need to be funded, not sabotaged. This is some sick stuff we read about, but hardly surprising.

    I find it amusing, in a sad sort of way, to see the hue and cry about Medicare and Social Security running out of money in the next fifty years, but a ghostly silence on fossil fuels running out in the same time frame–maybe less.

  24. Gyges:

    “But more than that, there is concern that the “speculators” are not merely holed up in duck blinds, but that they are actively manipulating the market. That argument is more complex, and necessarily speculative. I’ll let others who understand the issues better try to explain some of what may be going on.”

    So someone who admits they dont know what they are talking about can criticize someone who asked a legitimate question, i.e.:

    “Maybe we could say speculators are the feedback mechanism which keeps the system stable?”

    So I am a troll for asking a legitimate question and you take a criticism from someone who admits they dont know anything about oil speculation?

    Man your name is appropriate. That other Gyges screwed the kings wife, killed him and took over the country. A virtual cornucopia of subterfuge.

  25. Otteray Scribe:

    “we have no more than fifty to a hundred years to find an alternative source of energy before the fossil fuel supply runs out.”

    That assumes a static analysis based on todays proven reserves and todays technology in finding new oil and gas deposits. It also assumes a traditional view of hydro-carbons as deposited organic material. Some scientists believe the entire earths core is comprised of hydro-carbons which percolate up through the mantle and are trapped in formations in the crust. In effect it becomes oil as it rises through temperature and pressures.

    We have over 600 years of coal reserves currently.

  26. I live in this area. Otteray is the Cherokee name for it. If all the coal mines were to shut down tomorrow, it would not be soon enough for me. Use of fossil fuel is growing exponentially. Where does that 600 year figure come from? No number can be extrapolated six centuries. We need sustainable sources of energy that does not depend on energy sources that come out of the ground. Delay is not an option if civilization as we know it is to be sustained.

    http://www.google.com/search?q=mountain+top+removal&hl=en&safe=off&biw=1227&bih=524&prmd=ivnsu&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=1qbmTYFi5-DRAd-4kOgK&sqi=2&ved=0CG4QsAQ

  27. You can find an in-depth explanation of good and bad speculation, oil futures, and the cause of the big spike in oil prices in 2008 in Matt Taibbi’s book “Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That Is Breaking America.” Check out Chapter 4–Blowout: The Commodities Bubble.

    Taibbi notes that the bubble that hit us in the summer of 2008 was a long time in coming. He writes that a bunch of Wall Street financial companies started buying up stakes in trading firms that held seats on the various commodities exchanges in the early eighties and that the companies then began asking “the government to lighten the hell up about this whole position limits business.”

  28. Is this what we want to hand down to our children? This is so much damage, that thinking about what the mountains would look like in fifty years if beyond comprehension.

  29. That is what Malthus was saying about the population. Same old same old since the beginning of time.

    When hydro-carbons become too expensive we will have a market driven response based on sound economic principles. Not pie in the sky based on government mandate.

    Based on historical occurrences we should be able to make a transformation in 10 years or less with a huge increase to the economy.

  30. China Ousts U.S. as Most Attractive Renewable Energy Market
    9/13/2010
    http://seekingalpha.com/article/224802-china-ousts-u-s-as-most-attractive-renewable-energy-market

    Excerpts:
    In the second half of 2009, China almost doubled consumer subsidies for generating renewable power to $545 million. Meanwhile, the U.S. government let a program expire that provided grants for clean energy projects, leaving few incentives for companies to invest in renewable energy.

    “What we’re seeing in the U.S. is a continued resistance to committing to long-term visible and transparent support for the sector,” said Warren. “The U.S. market has always suffered from this boom and bust tax-based incentive regime.”

    *****

    China’s IPO Market Goes Green

    The profit potential of renewable energy is too rich for investors to turn down as the industry becomes more competitive. The cost per unit of electricity generated by solar panels is falling 20% a year and could reach levels charged by coal-fired electric providers in about five years.

    “Grid parity should be reached even sooner if a price on carbon is introduced by the Chinese government,” said Tim Buckley, portfolio manager at Arkx Investment Management.

    Interested investors are targeting China, where the opportunities are growing at the fastest pace, and future investment in China’s renewable energy sector will be poured into a number of initial public offerings (IPOs) slated to debut in Hong Kong and U.S. markets in coming months.

    Chinese wind-turbine maker Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Co. will make a $1 billion Hong Kong offer in the next few weeks. China Suntien Co., a renewable energy unit of the Hebei province government, will offer $500 million in Hong Kong. Also expected to hit Hong Kong is wind power group Huaneng New Energy Industrial Co. with a $1.5 billion IPO in October.

    Mingyang Electric Group Co. plans to raise $300 million to $500 million in a U.S. IPO this year, bringing the total of China renewable energy IPOs to a record level in 2010.

    In 2009, China overtook the United States in total renewable energy investments for the first time ever. China pushed $34.6 billion into renewable energy projects – mostly wind farms – while the United States spent just $18.6 billion.

    China also pulled in $11.5 billion in asset financing for clean technologies in the second quarter of 2010 – more than the United States and Europe combined.

    “[W]ith the needs for energy security and energy demand from countries like China, the move to renewables is unstoppable, and you’re increasingly seeing renewable energy companies that are a good value,” Geoff Evison, managing director of Arkx Investment Management, told The Journal.

    While IPOs will offer investors more opportunities to break into the clean energy race in the coming months, some analysts suggest looking into companies just starting out.

    “[W]e like so-called expansion-stage companies that are one to two years away from IPOs,” Chris Rynning, from Beijing-based private equity firm Origo Partners, told The Journal. “Expansion-stage companies typically have commercially scaled their technologies but need capital to grow and often are at a tipping point in terms of sales and profits.”

  31. Elaine, if we followed the logic of the libertarians on developing clean energy, the town would wait for city hall to catch fire before buying a fire truck.

    I cannot believe someone who claims to know more than Ned in the First Reader would be talking about a theory of oil percolating up from the center of the earth as a viable source of oil. I already knew about this theory. It is called abiogenisis. Then where is the new oil that should be appearing in Oklahoma and Texas? If the abiogenic theory of a source of oil is really true, even the most ardent supporters of the theory admit the process of oil replacement is on the order of hundreds of thousands of years. I don’t think it would be a good idea to wait and see if the theory is true.

    Finding new and practical sources of energy ought to be a high priority for both private enterprise and government. There is not much incentive for the coal, oil and gas companies to sink money into cheap alternate energy sources.

  32. That shale oil field is not the result of abiogenisis. It has been there all along and when it is gone it will be gone forever.

  33. OS,

    I think a large part of the problem is that people seem to think that we have to go all in on one or another alternative. The American mode of discourse seems to be stuck in binary thinking, R or D, Communism or Free-market Capitalism, Christianity or Atheism, etc. That’s a big problem because we’re a big country, there’s no current tech that works everywhere.

  34. Gyges, I could not agree more. People tend to see and hear only what is around them, in their own culture. They forget the big wide world with different needs, interests and culture.

    One size does NOT fit all.

  35. that is right one size doesnt fit all. but trying to introduce energy alternatives based on government mandate is a bad idea.

    Oil, gas and coal are going to be around for a very long time, may as well use it until technology and markets are ready for a real alternative energy.

    They are finding new deposits of hydro-carbons every day and taking advantage of new technologies to produce in wells thought to be used up. As the technology allows us to drill deeper we will find even more deposits of oil and natural gas.

  36. Roco, just curious. There is a vast difference between a government mandate and giving grant money to scientists doing original research that might make oil and coal as obsolete as whale oil for lamps. So why is it that you are pushing the oil cartel line? Are you a shill for big coal and big oil?

    Are you saying government funding of research is a bad idea? Despite the fact that no single industry of existing consortium of businesses have the wherewithal to do this on the scale that is needed to keep us from becoming a third world country? That line of argument does not pass the smell test.

  37. Some scientists believe the entire earths core is comprised of hydro-carbons which percolate up through the mantle and are trapped in formations in the crust. In effect it becomes oil as it rises through temperature and pressures.

    We have over 600 years of coal reserves currently

    =================================================================
    bullshit
    you know even less about petroleum and coal than you do about “free” markets

  38. Pete, yeah I caught that too but did not have the energy to break the news to him that the earth’s core consists of really, really, really hot iron. I thought it was one of the dumbest comments I ever read and agree with you that his knowledge of science equals the square root of minus one.

  39. I am in good company:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Gold

    Pete:

    I base my assumption on some facts and some speculation. There is a planetary moon, Titan, in our solar system which has lakes of liquid hydro-carbons. And apparently methane is one of the most common compounds in the universe. I don’t think it is that much of a stretch to believe that oil is not necessarily a product of dead plants and animals.

    “Saturn’s orange moon Titan has hundreds of times more liquid hydrocarbons than all the known oil and natural gas reserves on Earth, according to new data from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. The hydrocarbons rain from the sky, collecting in vast deposits that form lakes and dunes.”

    And there are about 600 years of coal reserves in the US, you can google it.

    Apparently I do know something about what I post.

    I am not saying I am right about the methane – oil link but it seems like a plausible theory.

  40. Titan is completely different from Earth. The composition of that moon formed differently than Earth and had a higher concentration of gases in its formation due to proximity to the gas giant planet, Jupiter. The earth is made up mostly of iron at its core. Even if abiogenisis were a fact instead of an unproven and unprovable theory, it would take hundreds of thousands of years to replace the hydrocarbons we humans use up in a year.

    As far as coal, I do not give a rat’s ass if we have a thousand year supply of coal. I want coal mining to stop NOW. We are desecrating the mountains getting at coal and “clean coal” is one of those focus group tested catch phrases that has no meaning. There is no such thing as clean coal. Clean coal is an oxymoron. It is used as a marketing sales pitch, nothing more. Coal is dirty on the environment as a by product of mining, is dirty to burn and leaves some truly dirty residue in vast amounts as we saw in the coal ash spill in Roane County, Tennessee recently.

    Finally, may I suggest you use scientific articles instead of Wikipedia when you look up stuff. Most teachers and professors disallow Wikipedia as a source document in student papers for a reason. Guess what that reason is? Because the data found in Wikipedia is of unknown reliability. Encyclopedia Britannica it ain’t.

  41. And by the way, Gold is not an original thinker in this area. I was reading similar theories by Fred Hoyle back in the 1950s when I was taking physics. I thought they were nutty then, too.

  42. Otteray Scribe:

    I agree about Wikipedia, but most here seem to use it as a first pass.

    People used to think it was nutty to think the earth revolved around the sun.

    I think that theory less nutty than oil being from the decomposition of living organisms. I would imagine it is a combination of the 2 processes.

  43. Hydrocarbons are organic compounds made primarily of hydrogen and carbon so it’s a completely nutty idea that organic life – made primarily of carbon and water – decays into hydrocarbons as the oxygen from the water is stripped away by heat and pressure.

    Scientific ignorance is charming when combined with wishful thinking.

  44. Roco, despite the old ads about a dinosaur “giving his all” to fill your gas tank, the truth of the matter is that much of the petroleum products are the result of sludge on the bottom of bodies of water. If you have ever waded in a Louisiana swamp looking for catfish, it may be a bit easier to believe oil can come from what sticks to your boots. Much of that is algae, and it is known that some algae and even plants like the Greasebush have high amounts of oil in them. That oil took millions of years to get there, but we are going to use it up in a couple of hundred years.

    Bottom line is, we must have other sources of energy than depending on what we can extract from the ground. The answer is probably going to come from either nuclear or fusion sources, although the latter poses some very stiff problems to solve. It took the Manhattan Project to create the atomic bomb, and a consortium of several governments to create the Large Hadron Collider. The research funding must come from government, just as it did for the Manhattan Project and the NASA space program. Once the ground-breaking research is done, with the inevitable failures that will occur along the way, then private investors will be able to take the data and run with it. Just as the space program created the data set that enabled Burt Rutan to build his Spaceship One out in the desert.

    Keep in mind that hydrogen is the perfect fuel and it only needs oxygen to burn, with a waste product of H2O. The difficulty of extracting power from breaking down water is that it takes more energy to break the molecular bond than the resulting power yield. You cannot violate the First Law of Thermodynamics. There is one more thing. If you fuel your car with pure hydrogen, I want to be no closer than the next county when you fill ‘er up.

  45. OS,

    Fueling safety is a big concern with hydrogen, but one that is not insurmountable. Either go back to the days of fueling attendants (in this case ones trained on how to safely use hydrogen) or opt for a universal fuel cell model where the cells can be safely swapped away from primary charging areas.

  46. BiL:
    Fuel cells may be how this whole fuel thing ends up. I worked on the Titan II ICBM project two or three generations ago. The missile in the Damascus, Arkansas site sprung a leak of hydrazine fuel when a technician dropped a tool and scratched a small hole in the side as it fell. The thing dribbled hydrazine until it blew up a short while later. Three people were killed. The blast door covering the launch tube was designed to withstand anything but a direct hit by a nuclear weapon. It was found close to a mile from the site. That door weighed a million and a half pounds. That was the probably the biggest explosion in the state of Arkansas since there were active volcanoes in the Ozarks.

    Pure hydrogen makes me nervous. Hydrazine fuel makes me even more nervous because that is truly nasty stuff.

  47. if i recall correctly,the train murders began with Brian Mulroney
    Here on SSI we have an electric conversion group
    we have a sweet barn converted to a shop where we are showing existing conversions
    and intend to bulk purchase conversion kits and ask the gov’ts for rebates or some kind of reward for converting
    this is a form of recycling
    very sensible but power is not the key
    like,who needs to drive a hundred miles an hour anyways?
    or be able to accelerate to a high speed within a few seconds?

  48. Well it seems our little prince was on to something. The IEA is predicting the US will become the world’s largest oil producer and be an net exporter by 2030. High energy prices, new technologies, and expanded prospecting for oil in North America is credited with the success of the new US oil boom. So it seems we have to thank Bush and Obama for attacking the problem at both ends — exploration and technology.

    And our Arab brothers seemed destined for a smaller role on the world stage.

    http://money.cnn.com/2012/11/12/news/economy/us-oil-production-energy/?iid=EL

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