We live in interesting times. I am about to experience some very interesting times this weekend, because I am traveling a thousand miles to visit relatives in Southern California. And I am traveling by car. Some may ask why a man who believes that the worldwide peak of oil production is happening now would choose to travel by car – a man who is the author of a blog with a title like “The Well Run Dry.”
I would have liked very much to travel by train – after all, it may well be the most environmentally friendly way to go. But President Bush has bled our nation's passenger rail system nearly dry. An Amtrak trip would take over 29 hours. I suppose I could have flown, but airlines have been getting squeezed hard in recent months by high fuel prices, and have been implementing many cutbacks in order to maintain some semblance of profitability. I fear that the CEO's and boards of directors who are responsible for airline profits may have extended their cutbacks even to such things as aircraft maintenance. I don't want to find out firsthand that my suspicion is right. By the way, if any of you are planning to travel by air this weekend, here's some comforting reading: “Airline Removes Life Vests To Save Weight, Fuel,” Associated Press, 28 August 2008, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26440567/.
In my last post, I mentioned my suspicion that world daily petroleum production figures published by the International Energy Agency and the United States Energy Information Administration are perhaps being artificially inflated, and that world petroleum production may now be faltering. I also mentioned news articles coming from Saudi Arabia which indicate that the Saudi oil industry may be shorting Saudi citizens in order to give the appearance that Saudi Arabia is producing more oil than it actually is. Well, there has been more interesting news out of Saudi Arabia this week – yet another article quoting a Saudi Aramco official denying that there are any shortages of fuel. Of course, the official's actual words were, “The Company has not reduced quotas to authorized clients.” (Zawya, 25 August 2008, http://www.zawya.com/Story.cfm/sidZAWYA20080825044210/secIndustries/pagOil%20&%20Gas) Are some clients unauthorized? Are these unauthorized clients the ones who can't find diesel fuel?
Speaking of shortages, there are reports of fuel terminals in North and South Dakota and Minnesota running dry. North Dakota has experienced spot shortages in late summer and early fall for at least two years in a row. (Minneapolis Star-Tribune, 27 August 2008, http://www.startribune.com/local/27550659.html?elr=KArksLckD8EQDUoaEyqyP4O:DW3ckUiD3aPc:_Yyc:aU7EaDiaMDCiUT). And this week's EIA Weekly Petroleum Inventory shows U.S. commercial crude oil and refined petroleum stocks continuing to drop.
It also seems that our ever-vigilant and very talented U.S. spy/intelligence agencies have detected a possible link between Venezuela and the Islamic group Hezbollah. Apparently, U.S. government spokesmen believe that Hezbollah is using Venezuelan sites for terrorist training and targeting South American Jews, and that Iran is backing Hezbollah activities in Venezuela. It must only be a strange coincidence that both Venezuela and Iran have oil, and that the U.S. is very hungry for oil... (“Hezbollah Presence In Venezuela Feared,” Los Angeles Times, 27 August 2008, http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-venezterror27-2008aug27,0,3877203.story)
Lastly, there is a powerful and increasingly dangerous hurricane bearing down on the Gulf of Mexico, with at least three other storms behind it. It is quite possible that Hurricane Gustav could rival Katrina in destructiveness, and could destroy or damage many offshore oil platforms and onshore Gulf Coast refineries. If that happens, fuel prices in the US may well skyrocket, and North Dakota will by no means be alone in experiencing fuel shortages.
All in all, it's quite a time to be undertaking a road trip. I hope I make it to Southern California and back. If I see anything interesting along the lines of our present national difficulties, I may take a few pictures for my next post. Stay safe this weekend.