What are we to make of this? You
don't need an advanced degree in geology to draw the conclusion that
earthquakes and volcanic activity both appear to be manifestations of
the pressures created by the buildup of
hydrocarbons generated in, and rising from, the earth's mantle. In
words, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are natural relief valves
that operate when oil and gas
seeps alone are not enough to ease the constantly building pressure.
You could say, I suppose, that earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are
Earth's way of passing gas.
"Earth at Night" composite satellite photo the other day, and I
couldn't help but
notice that in addition to the bright white lights of sprawling urban
there are also a number of bright red lights visible. According to the
photo legend, the red lights represent natural gas burn-off: "A lot of
valuable fuel is going up in
smoke. More than 100 billion
cubic meters of natural gas (a by-product of petroleum extraction) are
burned off annually, enough to power both France and Germany for a
year. Why the waste? Some countries find the gas too challenging and
expensive to transport long distances to population centers. Nigeria
alone emits up to 20 percent of the world's flares, which add to
So it seems that in addition to the tens of millions of tons of coal
that are burned off every year in underground coal fires (as discussed
), and the
massive amounts of oil and gas that seep out every year into the
planets land, air and water, more than 100 billion cubic meters of
natural gas are burned off every year. As previously discussed, much of
this activity has been
occurring for hundreds of thousands,
maybe millions, of years. If you do the math on that you will probably
find that the numbers don't jibe with a theory
that postulates that oil, gas and coal are all 'fossil fuels' deposited
finite quantities at a specific time in the earth's history.
Notice, by the way, that the natural gas flares in Nigeria are
overshadowed by the natural gas flares around the Persian Gulf, which
in turn pale in comparison to the natural gas flares up in a place
called Russia. Apparently, there is a lot of petroleum extraction going
on up there. Maybe they're on to something with that nutty abiotic oil
Returning to the oil and gas field map of California, notice that about
2/3 of the way down the state, at the south end of
the San Joaquin Valley, lies a large concentration of oil fields. That
happens to be, as it turns out, the area around Bakersfield, California
-- site of
the notorious Shell
refinery discussed in a previous
The Bakersfield area's
vast oil fields can be seen in more detail on the oil field map below
(which you can click on for an even more detailed version).
The Shell refinery was back in the news in September, when the company
was working diligently to sabotage any potential
sale of the facility: "Several buyers are interested in Shell
Oil Co.'s Bakersfield refinery, but an acquisition could be thwarted by
the company's refusal to sell on-site storage tanks, pipelines and
other key parts of the facility, according to people familiar with the
situation ... Shell first decided to shutter the refinery without
trying to sell it
and then, under pressure from state Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer and others,
earlier this year began to entertain offers. The company warned at the
time that it intended to keep the refinery's crude oil contracts,
reducing the pool of possible buyers to those that could secure a new
source of oil for the landlocked facility. Now, according to the people
close to the negotiations with potential
purchasers, Shell has put up the additional roadblocks. It has offered
to lease the storage tanks and pipelines to a buyer but 'at
extraordinarily high rates,' one source said. This source called the
situation 'pretty much unprecedented in a
was a litany of excuses offered by Shell for the closure of the
refinery: "Shell, the U.S. unit of Anglo-Dutch
company Royal Dutch/Shell Group, said it decided to close the
Bakersfield refinery because of dwindling supplies of crude oil in the
San Joaquin Valley. In addition, the company said, the refinery is old,
inefficient and not profitable enough."
and Ms. Douglas were well
aware. Douglas is, after all, the very same journalist who previously
reported that the Bakersfield refinery's
"profit of $11 million in
May  was
." Nevertheless, Shell's claims went
unchallenged in the September report.
(Elizabeth Douglas "Shell to Cut Summer
Bakersfield Refinery, Papers Say,"
Judging by the latest oil field maps, there doesn't appear to be any
shortage of crude at the south end of the San Joaquin
Valley. In fact, the company's own actions refute that claim, for if
the local crude oil contracts are soon to be worthless, then why would
Shell insist on keeping them?
revisited the Bakersfield story once again, revealing that, contrary to
Shell's patently bogus claims, dozens of companies are interested in
purchasing the wildly profitable facility: "Shell initially made no
effort to sell
the facility, and repeatedly told lawmakers and others that no one
would want it, especially because the company intended to keep the
refinery's crude oil contracts. On Wednesday, Shell said more than 70
parties had expressed interest in the Bakersfield refinery, and that 20
signed confidentiality agreements so they could dig deeper into the
There has been no further word from
on the progress of
any possible negotiations. The last word from Shell was that the
refinery would be closed either at the end of the year or on March 31,
2005, "if no deal is reached." Despite the intense interest in the
facility, I wouldn't bet the family farm on a deal being reached.
I am still waiting, by the way, for someone - anyone - from the 'Peak
Oil' crowd to
explain the pending closure and demolition of a wildly profitable
refinery sitting atop vast reserves of oil, at a time when refinery
capacity in the nation as a whole, and in California in particular, is
already woefully inadequate. Despite the fact that the 'Peakers' have
carefully avoided any mention of the controversial refinery closure, I
know that they are aware of it, because the newspaper that has been
providing commentary on the story is the local paper of the Grand
Poobah of the 'Peak' spokesmen.
the news, Astrobiology Magazine
says that, on the planet Mars, there is an "intriguing connection
between methane and water vapor found in three
broad geographic regions, a result that may suggest looking further for
past or dormant microbial life." I guess then we should start looking
for signs of past or present life on Saturn's moon Titan as well, since
it contains, according to NASA, "lots of hydrocarbons." Those dinosaurs
really racked up the frequent flyer miles, apparently.
Something else I recently stumbled across was a post by Mike Ward, on
Alternet, in which he lists what he claims are the "Top 10 Conspiracy
Theories of 2003-2004." (http://alternet.org/story.html?StoryID=18735
Number 9 on that list was "Peak Oil and the End of the World."
"One would hope peak oil is a hand-wringing fantasy on a par with the
survivalist craze that accompanied Y2K," writes Ward, "But there are
some facts in favor of the peak oil agitators." One of those "facts,"
according to Ward, is "the otherwise inexplicable war in Iraq –
which, though a political liability in the short run, is likely in the
long haul to yield the U.S. virtually unending supplies of oil just
when the peak oil theorists claim it's going to start getting quite
Ahh, yes ... providing an explanation (and a backhanded justification)
for what is claimed to be an "otherwise inexplicable war." That, as I
recall, is almost exactly what I initially posited about the 'Peak Oil'
theory, thereby thoroughly pissing off any number of 'Peakers.' Of
course, I left out the fable about the war being otherwise
"If the peak oil theory is right," added Ward, "the Iraq war, terrible
though it is, will be remembered – like the assassination of Archduke
Ferdinand or the Nazi invasion of Poland – as a mere prelude to a much
bloodier affair ... Many oil-peakers speak of a coming 'die-off,' as
the world population adjusts to the resources available to it – by
perishing in the billions from war, famine, exposure, and civil unrest."
But wait! As it turns out, it doesn't have to be an apocalyptic future
after all, at least according to the BBC
On April 19, correspondent Alex Kirby concluded that, "there
is every reason to plan for the post-oil age. Does it have to be
devastating? Different, yes - but our forebears lived without oil and
thought themselves none the worse. We shall have to do the same, so we
might as well make the best of it. And the best might even be an
improvement on today."
So there is nothing to fear, you see ... well, other than that whole
"die-off" thing ... but if you happen to be among the survivors, then
things will be looking pretty rosy, apparently. And that is certainly
nice to know.
While the BBC
has been busily
pitching the 'Peak Oil' scare, The
has been rather skeptical of the scam. On May 21,
correspondent James Reynolds focused on a new report by Dr. Leonard
Magueri in the journal Science
In the report, Magueri argued "the world is not running out of
oil, and the reality is that there are abundant supplies for years to
come." Magueri pointed out that estimates of proven
reserves have been increasing since the 1940s, and, "thanks to new
exploration, drilling and recovery technology, the worldwide finding
and development cost per barrel of oil equivalent has dramatically
declined over the last 20 years, from an average of about $21 in
1979-81 to under $6 in 1997-99. At the same time, the recovery rate
from world oilfields has increased from about 22 percent in 1980 to 35
On June 16, The Scotsman
openly ridiculed the 'Peak Oil' concept (and various other
end-of-the-world scenarios that have been pitched over the years).
After recounting numerous predictions of imminent demise that never
came to pass, the authors conclude with this tongue-in-cheek assessment
of 'Peak Oil': "But perhaps the most often repeated catastrophe
predicted is the exhaustion of the world's oil reserves. As early as
1919 the head of the US geological survey forecast that the end would
come in nine years. Since then things have improved and the latest
estimate is 2043."
Meanwhile, Lyndon LaRouche (Lyndon
LaRouche? How did he
into this discussion? Oh yeah, I remember now -- I decided to include
him after I read a recent interview in which the great Mike Ruppert
said, and I quote, "I share a near universal respect
of the LaRouche organization's detailed and precise research." So, like
I was saying, Lyndon LaRouche) "called on May 28 for the price of oil
be set at a target
price of $25-26 per barrel, by nation-to-nation contracts, in order to
bankrupt and take away the power of the speculators, and restore order
to the oil market." According to the LaRouchians (who, let's face it,
make a hell of a lot more sense on this issue than their admirers, the
"Some fools will insist on buying
Brooklyn Bridge, no matter how many times you tell them it's already
sold. The same is true with the story that there is an oil shortage.
truth: No oil shortage exists. Figures from the Paris-based
Energy Agency (IEA), the central collection point for world oil
show that for the first quarter of 2004, world oil supplies were in the
range of 82.3 million barrels a day (mbd), with consumption lower, in
range of 80.5 mbd to as high as 81.5 mbd. Thus, the world was in
during the first 90 days of the year, during the very period that world
oil prices leapt by $7 per barrel." Furthermore, say the LaRouchians,
"there is no relationship
the price of oil and the amount of oil being produced. Over the past
decades, oil production has increased slowly and predictably." True
In September, the prestigious Proceedings
of the National Academy of Sciences
published an interesting
study by a distinguished group of academics (as opposed to the oil
industry spokesmen that the Peakers routinely cite): "We present in
observations of hydrocarbon
formation via carbonate reduction at upper mantle pressures and
temperatures. Methane was formed from FeO, CaCO3-calcite, and water at
pressures between 5 and 11 GPa and temperatures ranging from 500°C
1,500°C. The results are shown to be consistent with multiphase
thermodynamic calculations based on the statistical mechanics of soft
particle mixtures. The study demonstrates the existence of abiogenic
pathways for the formation of hydrocarbons in the Earth's interior and
suggests that the hydrocarbon budget of the bulk Earth may be larger
than conventionally assumed."
What?!?! Hydrocarbons can be produced without biological matter? Right
here on Earth? Just like on Mars? But New
just said a couple weeks ago that "Methane is of great
interest because on Earth, almost all of it comes from living things -
everything from rotting plants to bovine flatulence. But there are
other possible sources of methane on Mars." And they have, like, real scientists
working there at
the offices of New Scientist
But I guess they somehow missed the PNAS
study -- and the decades of Soviet research that preceded it.
The study even found its way into the mainstream media, by way of the San Francisco Chronicle
: "Oceans of
fuel-like gases and fluids, enough to support a high-tech society for
many millennia to come, might exist far deeper inside the Earth than
we've ever drilled before, researchers speculate. Since the mid-19th
century, a small but enthusiastic minority of scientists have argued
that petroleum and other fuels are formed by purely chemical, or
abiogenic, processes hundreds of miles inside Earth. An early champion
was the great Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleyev, pioneer of the
periodic table that hangs on the wall of virtually every high school
Who knew that the distinguished Dr. Mendeleyev was, in reality, a
picked up the
story as well: "Scientists in the US have witnessed the production
of methane under the conditions that exist in the Earth's upper mantle
for the first time. The experiments demonstrate that hydrocarbons could
be formed inside the Earth via simple inorganic reactions -- and not
just from the decomposition of living organisms as conventionally
assumed -- and might therefore be more plentiful than previously
The Peakers, predictably enough, got their panties in quite a
collective wad over
this scientific debunking of their scam. By October 4, the Portal of
Peak Propaganda had up a post that attempted, rather pathetically, to
'debunk' abiotic oil 'theory.' The piece was penned by a Ugo Bardi, a
member of ASPO, shockingly enough, and the author of an Italian
language "The Sky is
Bardi makes one remarkable admission in his rant -- quite likely the
statement to ever appear in a 'Peak Oil' post on Ruppert's website:
"The concept of 'oil peak' is strictly limited to a view that sees oil
as a finite resource." So here we have, from the portal of all things
'Peak,' an admission
that if oil is not a finite resource, then 'Peak Oil' is an
inherently fraudulent theory. That, of course, has been my position
all along. It is precisely why the Peakers must necessarily
arguments by first establishing that oil is, in fact, a nonrenewable
'fossil fuel.' Thus far, they have studiously avoided doing so,
probably because their arguments are not founded in any known body of
Here is how Bardi approaches the idea of abiotic oil: "Here, I will
try to discuss the origin of oil without going into ... details. I will
do this by taking a more general approach. Supposing that the abiogenic
theory is right, then what are the consequences for us and for the
whole biosphere? If we find that the consequences do not correspond to
what we see, then we can safely drop the abiotic theory without the
need of worrying about having to take a course in advanced geology. We
may also find that the consequences are so small as to be irrelevant;
in this case also we needn't worry about arcane geological details."
What Bardi is saying here, amazingly enough, is that we shouldn't be
concerned whether we have
been deliberately lied to for decades about the source and
availability of the substance that is the very life-force of modern
industrial society, because that is, in reality nothing
more than an "arcane geological detail." I mean, honestly now, who has
time to bother
with such trivialities?
Bardi then proceeds to 'debunk' the abiotic 'theory' (which was
actually proven, once again, by the PNAS
claiming that if oil was abiotic in origin, then the planet would be
oil, and the planet is not drowning in oil, so therefore oil cannot be
devoting exactly two paragraphs to that amazingly specious
argument, Bardi then states authoritatively: "At this point, we can
arrive at a
conclusion. What is the relevance of the abiotic theory in practice?
The answer is 'none.'"
Wow! That was easy, wasn't it?
Interestingly, Bardi associates the abiotic petroleum theory
Dr. Thomas Gold, noting only in a footnote that the theory actually
"had its origin in the work of a group of Ukrainian and Russian
scientists." Also interesting
is that Bardi repeatedly refers to Gold in the present tense, implying
that the doctor is still alive and able to defend his work,
although Bardi is certainly aware of Dr. Gold's untimely demise
few short months ago (just as 'Peak Oil' stories were popping up all
over the mainstream media).
Bardi ends his post on this particularly repellent note: "So, the
theory is irrelevant to the debate about peak oil and it would not be
worth discussing were it not for its political aspects. If people start
with the intention of demonstrating that the concept of 'peak oil' was
created by a 'Zionist conspiracy' or something like that, anything
goes. In this case, however, the debate is no longer a scientific one."
It has never been the position of this website that 'Peak Oil' is a
"Zionist conspiracy" or a "Zionist Scam." And, contrary to what some
people seem to believe, the
fact that an easily-discredited disinformation-peddler like Joe
has suddenly inserted himself into the 'Peak Oil' debate, on the
anti-'Peak' side, is not a welcome development
Rather, it is an indication that with the 'Peak Oil' scam under fire,
a new line of defense has kicked in: linking the abiotic, anti-'Peak'
position to virulent anti-Semitism. That is precisely why, close on the
heels of the Vialls' piece, we now
Bardi completing the one-two punch.
Nice tag-team work, guys. You should be very proud of yourselves.
Bardi's post was followed a couple weeks later by another 'debunking'
post, this time by Jean Laherrere, one of the High Priests of the Cult
of Peak. The Laherrere post, however, is only for the eyes of those
very special people
who pay good money every year to be lied to by Ruppert and Co. (and for
certain critics who may or may not be supplied user names and passwords
by disgruntled subscribers). As it
turns out though, all you really need to know about the piece can be
found in the first two paragraphs of the introduction by Dale Allen
The following paper is a critique of
the writings of Thomas Gold, written by Jean Laherrere. It is a
scientific dialogue and contains many technical terms and references
which may be nearly unfathomable to the layperson. However, it is a
very important discussion because it lays bare many of the errors in
Gold's arguments. Unfortunately, Thomas Gold is no longer with us to
respond to these criticisms. However, this critique has been floating
around in one form or another for a few years now, and it is not
unreasonable to assume that Thomas Gold was aware of it.
Jean Laherrere has told me that he sent a copy of this critique (along
with materials critical of abiotic theory) to V.A. Krayushkin, the main
Russian proponent of abiotic oil, in 2001, shortly before a conference
where both men were to present papers. Dr. Krayushkin canceled his
appearances and has since gone out of his way to avoid addressing Jean
Laherrere's criticism. Jean's comments on the Dneiper-Donets Basin will
be presented in the second part of this series. If a scientist cannot
or will not defend his theory against fair scientific scrutiny, then
his argument is immediately caste into doubt.
Incredibly enough, Pfeiffer has, in just two brief paragraphs,
established himself as the
single most reprehensible player on the entire 'Peak' team (an
impressive feat, considering the competition). After avoiding
any mention of Gold's work for, oh, the last three years or so, even
feverishly pitching the 'Peak Oil' line, Pfeiffer actually has the
fucking nerve to post a critique of Gold's work now
a few months after the doctor conveniently dropped dead.
Pfeiffer's claim that Laherrere's post, specifically entitled "A
Critique of Thomas Gold's
Claims for Abiotic Oil," circulated for three years without a response
from Gold, is undoubtedly a gross misrepresentation, as is evident from
careful choice of words: "floating around in one form or another
," and "not unreasonable to assume
Thomas Gold was aware of it."
Pfeiffer follows that claim with another that is an obvious lie -- so
much so that it
could only be passed off as good coin to an audience that is woefully
ignorant of the other side of the debate. The truth of the matter is
that Dr. Krayushkin has been, for quite some time, one of the late Dr.
Gold's harshest critics.
Krayushkin, along with the rest of the Soviet and Ukrainian scientists
who developed modern abiotic petroleum theory, consider Dr.
Gold to have been a plagiarist -- and not a particularly good
plagiarist, but rather one who got the basic theory right, but the
actual science wrong. (http://www.gasresources.net/Plagiarism(Overview).htm
Krayushkin's opinion of Gold is quite evident in a letter sent by
the doctor to a Professor John Briggs, which can be found here: http://www.gasresources.net/VAKreplytBriggs.htm
It is pretty clear that Krayushkin would not be at the head of the line
to defend Dr.
Gold's work, which he considers to be a stolen and bastardized version
of his own work. Why then would Laherrere send Krayushkin a paper
entitled "A Critique of Thomas Gold's Claims for Abiotic Oil"? Perhaps
Laherrere's time would be better served sending Ricky Martin a critique
of William Hung's performance of "She Bangs."
My own feelings about the late Dr. Gold are decidedly mixed. On the one
hand, he was almost certainly the plagiarist that he was accused of
being. And the possibility exists, I suppose, that he may have
deliberately misrepresented the science, thereby making abiotic
petroleum theory infinitely easier to discredit and marginalize. On the
other hand, however, Gold undeniably did more than anyone else to bring
the notion of abiotic petroleum origins to the Western world. And the
timing of his death was certainly suspicious, to say the least --
especially now that it is being followed by appalling post-mortem
attacks by the likes of Bardi and Laherrere.
Strangely enough, even as they are busily savaging one dead guy who
can't defend himself, Team 'Peak' is simultaneously claiming to be
following in the footsteps of another dead guy, who also can't defend
In Ruppert's recent "We Did It!" post, he wrote the following: "We have
studied and learned from the lessons given us by great authors
like L. Fletcher Prouty ..."
On the From the Wilderness
website (on the "Recommended Reading" page), Ruppert lists what he
describes as "seven of the most important books that I would recommend
as teaching books about 'How things really work.'" At the very top of
that list is The
Secret Team, Third Edition by L. Fletcher Prouty. (http://www.copvcia.com/book_list.shtml
Elsewhere on the site, Ruppert provides links to other sites that he
has found to be "sources for reason and reliable information." (http://www.copvcia.com/links.shtml
Here is a portion of that list of links:
Again we see Col. Prouty being touted as a voice of reason, along with,
curiously enough, some website known as the Center for an Informed America
Huh? Who knew that this site provided reliable information? I guess
Ruppert's been too busy with other things to update his links page,
since we all know that this website stopped being a "source for reason
and reliable information" the minute that I opted not to toe the 'Peak'
line. But here I digress.
The point here is that Prouty was, as near as I
can tell, something of a hero to Mr. Ruppert. And the funny thing about that is that Prouty
as it turns out, a vocal supporter of the notion that oil is abiotic in
origin. According to the late Colonel, "petroleum is not a 'Fossil'
a surface or near surface origin. It was made to be thought a 'Fossil'
fuel by the Nineteenth [sic] oil producers to create the concept that
was of limited supply and therefore extremely valuable. This fits with
the 'Depletion' allowance philosophical scam."
that the notion that petroleum is a 'fossil fuel' came "Right out of
Who would have ever guessed that if the guy that Ruppert claims as a
mentor were alive today, his would be the loudest voice raised to
denounce what Ruppert is selling as a Rockefeller-scripted scam?
Moving on then, let's see what else is happening in the world of 'Peak
Oil.' Oh yes, before I forget, I need to, regrettably, hand out a
couple of Hall of Shame Awards
The first goes to the Centre for Research on Globalisation
for posting, among other things, a repellent piece by F. William
Engdahl entitled "Iraq and the Problem of Peak Oil." The second goes to
, for posting too many 'Peak Oil'-themed pieces to list here
(including a number of articles penned by Larry Chin, who doesn't seem
to be able to write on any subject without tying it in to 'Peak Oil').
Both of these websites were, at one time, among the best at providing
alternative news and commentary. Both are now pitching 'Peak Oil'
without offering any hint that there is another side to the debate. And
that, I'm afraid, is absolutely shameful.
I can read 'Peak Oil' stories in my morning newspaper. I read one just
the other day in the November edition of Playboy
. And there is something
seriously wrong when you can't even flip through a friggin' Playboy
without being assaulted with 'Peak Oil' propaganda. So my question to
webmasters Chossudovsky and Conover is this: If you are running
websites that purport to be 'alternative' sources of news and
information, and yet you are selling the very same story as the Los Angeles Times
, and scores of other widely
read, mainstream media sources, while at the same time denying your
readers a truly alternative point of view, and one that happens to be
actually backed by science, are you really still doing your jobs?
Just a few more links and we're all done for this outing. First up is a
must-read post by Rod Allison, entitled "Reply to
You'll never guess which lobbyists Allison is
to. Next up is a post that we'll refer to as "Confessions of a
For the scientifically minded, we have an offering
Production From Fractured Basement Reservoirs."
From Chris Bennett comes a piece entitled "Sustainable Oil?,"
is a decent overview of modern abiotic oil theory, except that it
leaves out the fact that the theory was forged in the former Soviet
Union. I guess that's to be expected though for a post that originally
appeared on WorldNetDaily. Lastly - and this one is truly shocking -
oil company profits continue to soar, as do oil producer profits:
Mobil Profit Soars"
$300 billion bonanza."
For those hungry for yet more anti-'Peak' news and commentary, Kelly
Cooke has tackled the subject on several occasions on her blog at
through and you will find commentary and a number of
interesting links. Also check the Peak Oil
page on Brian Salter's
website. Many of the links there are to my newsletters, but there are a
number of other good links as well.
Next up will be additions to the 9-11 Revisited series, and maybe more
'Peak Oil' stuff. Until then, have a great Thanksgiving, because, you
know, we have so much to be thankful for and all ...