An age of awareness looks to be upon us. Personal pronouns, the green movement, the swamp, ESG, DEI, CRT, LGBTQ, regressive therapy, equity, defund the PoPo, and now, perplexingly, oil and gas. Let’s call it a New Energy Awareness or just Energy Awareness (“EA” if you go in for initialisms). Consider it a natural progression, a fallout from the previous Age of Enlightened and Entitled Complaint (“EEC”)—a swinging of the pendulum from the farcical to factual. It’s like the new peak oil. But more cultural, less depletion.
How could this be, that oil and gas should suddenly be gaining favor? It seems so unreal, so unexpected, as much so as an honest review of Jared Kushner’s new book.
But there it is, oil and gas are trending positively in the hearts and minds of German politicians. Natural gas is being met with whispered acceptance by green-minded bureaucrats. These are the same government types who spent the last decade shutting down coal-fired utilities and planting the green flag through the hearts of their nuclear plants. There has become a reordering of priorities, possibly even an admission that the green energy revolution has gone too far, too fast, and that blind acceptance has outrun capacity. What should have been a thoughtful rollout instead transcended probity to become religious fervor.
But this, this is almost too much! How is it that one bumps around in the dark, looking for the manual to restart a nuclear plant (Madam Angela, what were you thinking!?)
Her successor, Chancellor Scholz, just proclaimed natural gas to be green (did he just say that part our loud?), Macron just called an end to energy abundance (Translation: “Will someone please call Schlumberger!) and EU President Ursula von der Leyen is in Azerbaijan making gas deals! How could it be!? Natural gas once so reviled, so filthy, so degenerate, so deplorable, now so…welcome…so green.
Like any good come-back story, this one also begins with hatred. Start by looking no further than Joe Biden and his old DC crony John Kerry. Add to this dumb duo the third leg, the ex-KGB agent Vladimir.
Good God, Vladimir? Vladimir Putin? Anybody but Vlad! “He wants to be my neighbor!?”
Suddenly, as though a decade of warnings didn’t pre-exist, the Bundestag went nuts. Apoplectic!
Now he’s shutting in Nord Stream 1, the same pipeline renewables were sure to make obsolete. But wasn’t this a favor, a boost to the new world order, to a climate activist’s way of thinking? Fast-track the grand switch by punishing, then killing oil and gas. Do that first—that’s right, first!—then build those windmills and solar farms fast, right? Use old tax receipts, create new tax receipts, add in debt issuances and damned be to anyone getting in the way of starving and freezing an entire continent. Who’s got the time or, frankly, the patience to listen to those cloddy naysayers? Who’s got time for such drivel when there are all those parties, the chance celebrity encounters, the environmental awards, and the self-congratulatory speeches?
Green enlightenment became all the rage, the ticket to the best parties, and the acceptance so elusively cruel in high school. Rich people getting to call each other smart! Just believe; if you don’t believe, just pretend or be banished! Canceled. Ridiculed. Take a mocking turn against us out in the mud, the fools pulling energy from the ground, or leave. Be like us, or be zeroed. Do as we say, not as we do, damnit! Then, suddenly, this turn is upon us, this Energy Awareness. One can almost hear the pleadings all the way out on the grounds of the manors, the county homes, the chateaus. “There’s no heat in this kitchen.” “These crepes are cold!” And most galling, “What the hell are we going to do with all these private jets?”
Blame the Russians They killed the party. The Biden Administration will be down with that, especially after lifting sanctions on Nord Stream 2, right after Trump sanctioned it. Or was that just a do the opposite kind of thing, a reversal of all things Trump?
But damn it all! This %#&@* Energy Awareness thing! With winter coming the hot or cold, gas or no gas argument turns into the life-or-death argument. Equally adept at speaking out of both sides of their mouths, the Europeans must make the choice. Keep punishing oil and gas as the Biden administration does or eat out of Vlad’s oil-stained hands? After all, Mother Russia is looking for Ukrainian capitulation as much as it is for Europeans. “High energy prices is the price to pay for freedom,” stated an overwhelmed Macron recently. Or, possibly, he was referring to the price of stupidity. He had ample time to warn of threats, to seek alternative sources, and build out a better, more secure LNG presence. Maybe if he had only listened. Merkel too. But the offer was turned down with her arch-nemesis out there (Trump, not Putin) telling her he’d gladly sell her American gas. With two Nord Streams, she’d be giving away twice the revenues needed to support Russia’s war. I guess this all just wasn’t apparent.
Another requisite of Energy Awareness is full disclosure. Dirty laundry must be aired. Truths must be told, particularly that Europe has its gas reserves, and not just under the tired old North Sea fields. They have shale, a lot of organically rich, gas-producing shale, right under their feet, right under the Champs D Elysée. Also true and unfortunate for the masses is that they, like the Biden administration, prefer buying it from other nations. Germans can’t quit the Russians, and Biden loves the Saudis.
It is true, though. The EIA reports that the EU is sitting on gargantuan reserves of natural gas. Estimates run as high as 13 trillion cubic meters. That’s a lotta gas. That’s generational gas. Poland, France, Romania, Denmark, the UK, Netherlands, Germany, and Bulgaria would be the top producers. Outside of the EU, Ukraine has the Lubin and Donets Basins and enormous reserves. Some drilling has already been done, and some disappointments have been logged, but there were disappointments in George Mitchel’s pursuit of unconventional gas in the Barnett, too—until he figured it out and changed the world.
Fun Fact: Mitchel did not win a Noble Peace Prize. Obama did. Nine months into his presidency.
These European shales are thicker than most in the U.S., but most European countries except for Britain and Poland (to a very limited extent) have kept them off limits. Holding up their noses in prideful defiance, the French have outlawed fracking. High energy prices are the “price of freedom,” their leader has proclaimed.
Fun Fact: California just advised its residents to stop charging their electric vehicles due to energy shortages. This was shortly after telling its residents they are mandated to purchase electric vehicles.
Another Fun Fact: California’s Governor may be running for President.
All those elites are willing to export the jobs needed to produce energy, just like the Biden Administration and the anti-U.S. pipeline lobby. But production continues elsewhere, mostly unabated. It is then shipped to the States in tankers burning bunker fuel.
Fun Fact: The global shipping industry comprises approximately 60,000 ships. Collectively it is responsible for 3% of all carbon emissions and 8% of all global sulfur dioxide emissions.
Today, eight billion people live on Planet Earth. In 1960, three billion people lived here. That’s five billion more people in 62 years. Homo sapiens, the current iteration of man, evolved 250,000 years ago from Homo erectus. 12,000 years ago, Homo sapiens began to grow their food and change their surroundings to protect themselves from a harsh environment. Early human colonies were sparse until they spread across continents and eventually island chains. Then the ball started rolling, and by the end of the century, the UN predicts that the earth’s population will be eleven billion. That’s eight billion more souls over a span of 140 years since 1960. That’s staggering. So, pardon me for asking, but are we really going to do this without fossil fuels? And no nuclear besides—according to the most hardened Energy Deniers? That leaves just wind and solar unless we do something with the all-elusive fusion, but because we hate fission, will we also not hate fusion?
What about renewables’ other dark corners, the unreportable stuff? No, I’m not talking about battery production and disposal waste stream. Nor am I talking about acid rain from nickel smelting or further indebting ourselves to the Chinese who are front-running us on mineral acquisitions and solar panel production. I’m talking about land consumption. Wind and solar need large plots of land. They do not play well with others like oil and gas. With oil and gas, crops are grown right up against oil wells. Corn and soybeans grow right into the pully assemblies on pumpjacks. Small fences around an oil well’s perimeter keep the livestock out. But otherwise, the well coexists with plant, animal and man. Surely our green friends understand renewables are displacing farm and ranch land. Isn’t that the same land needed to feed our enormous and growing population? Is that why Bill Gates is buying up farmland? Because he likes farming? Or maybe it’s part of his utopian/dystopian dream? Something discussed in Seattle coffee shops?
Fun Fact: By 2040, the IEA predicts that global citizens will require 104 million barrels of oil per day and 5.22 TCM/day. That’s a 4% increase in oil consumption between then and now, and a 27% increase in gas.
To me, this sounds like the bulwarks of the green revolution, our own Washington-based EIA and France’s IEA, are both stating that we will need more oil and gas and not less—not openly, never openly—say the truth out loud and they’ll through you off the cocktail party circuit. But it’s in their numbers. So are wind, solar, hydro and nuclear outputs. All are in the numbers and we still need more oil and gas 20 years out. So why is it that if I can read that, our activist journalists cannot? Maybe because it feels lacking that by 2040 we will be burning more hydrocarbons, not less.
Fun fact: Because of inefficiencies and energy conversion, solar panels radiate heat. Typically, they run about 35 degrees hotter than the surrounding ambient temperature.
Every year since 1952, British Petroleum has published its BP Statistical Review of World Energy. 2022’s report shows oil, gas and coal at 82% of global energy consumption. Wind and solar are at 6.7%, hydroelectric is at 6.8% and nuclear is 4.3%. The best year-over-year growth rates come from wind and solar, but now the bottlenecks come. Already in short supply are cobalt, nickel and lithium, all core components of batteries. Lithium has seen a 10x price increase since 2020. Nickel is up 2x over the past two years and cobalt is up 6.5x. All require extraction, just like oil and gas. All of it is messy and polluting (acid rain and gargantuan water usage), and a good amount of it is either in unfriendly countries or controlled by our friends, the Chinese.
This is all welcome news if you are a miner, particularly a strip miner. If you are not, buy Caterpillar stock (NYSE: CAT) because whole mountains must be moved, lakes bled dry and towns evacuated.
But damnit! This is progress. Build those smoke stacks tall, 120 stories tall, as they did with the Superstacks up in Sudbury, Canada. When smelting ores created acid rain, forests were denuded, and lakes were poisoned, we came up with a catchy phrase: “the solution to pollution is dilution.” Spread the smelt across North America instead of just over little Sudbury. Poison everyone just a little at a time instead of just a few all of the time. This is just like global thinking—the smelters in the Canadian Shield Province were among our first Globalists!
Maybe I’m just a pacifist, but I’m not altogether convinced why those plucky greens want to pick a fight with my industry, not after all of this. The math is crystal clear and it’s not even my math. It seems to me that climate activists are substituting one extraction industry for another, making all these not-so-green outcomes too big to hide behind.
Today’s energy shortages are not happening because the wind has stopped blowing, the sun stopped shining, oil and gas wells are no longer pumping, or fission is no longer fizzing. Stupidity, ideology, and a lack of preparedness did this. And all of it came from our elected leaders and the loudest of the loudmouths screaming for a new world order that is just as debased as it is new.
This is a political crisis, not an energy crisis. It’s the result of a dismally low quotient for energy awareness. It’s years of poor energy policy. It’s our leaders shutting down pipelines, stranding assets, banning fracking, squeezing federal lands leasing to a fraction of previous administrations, not developing our own resources, blocking offshore wind installations, buying energy from politically unstable countries and making new nuclear reactors onerous to impossible to build.
Fun Fact: The U.S. has two reactors under construction, France one, Germany zero, India eight and China fifteen.
Instead of sorting through our personal pronouns, microaggressions, and cultural misappropriations, rather than spending so much time and capital on hatred and opposition, why don’t we just get to work? Us. The little people. Don’t look to politicians to solve this energy problem, as they are not serious.
Let’s start with a simple, beyond-debate fact. All energy sources are problematic. Period. There is no Holy Grail. Oil saved the whales from extinction and kept mankind from deforesting and torching the earth. But oil and gas pollute. Extracting materials needed for renewables scars the earth. It robs us of water resources. Ores needed for batteries and fission require mining. They are dirty when processed and a headache to dispose of. They also come from politically unstable countries To think that heat and light come without harm is foolishness. They cannot. Not yet, anyway. Maybe never.
Moving onto another undebatable fact is that false prophets relentlessly pushing the green narrative at all costs are driving up the cost of energy. Because of this, they will fail. Too much too fast and people will recoil as we are now seeing in Europe. Yesterday’s unthinkable, coal and nuclear, are today’s acceptable. Politically and legally fabricating an energy shortage is wrong. People will push back. They will make other choices, and elect other leaders, ones with foresight. This rush to greenify will only hamstring renewables.
The rollout needs much more time than it is being given. Too much, too quick with too many cold nights and dark days will only bury the progress needed to achieve a functioning rather than dysfunctional all-of-the-above outcome. Yes, this simple-minded oilman knows that all forms of energy are essential, just like any other driller or fracer would feel if anyone cared to ask us.
Energy Awareness acknowledges that there is only one truly green activity. That is conservation. Starvation and freezing to death or driving gas prices so high as to be unaffordable are not conservation. Conservation is awareness. It is unregulated, unmandated freedom of choice to give up what you can. It is completely devoid of the government and the activists. It is just as simple as filling your tires with air (I got that from Obama), buying a smart thermostat, and learning at what RPMs your boat or car or private jet runs at its most efficient. It is self-empowerment that is good for the planet. It is not self-aggrandizing, phonies. It is not the do as I say, not as I do big shots. It is not pontificating, holier than thou know-it-alls.
Stop the alarmism. Stop punishing oil and gas. Fight against the bans on fracking because it is safe. Ignore the anti-frac crowd. They’ve done nothing to clean our air like natural gas has—ask the EPA if you don’t believe me. top the bullies who are stopping natural gas in New York. If we could get more of it out of the Marcellus we could get more of the Northeast off the heavy, highly polluting oil they’re still burning in their boiler rooms.
Discover the facts in the numbers and not in the nuance. Focus on building solar in areas where solar works best. Stop the bullies who are stopping offshore wind. Build LNG terminals in Europe and drill and frack European shales while we continue to build out our renewable footprint. Build more reactors, even smaller traveling wave reactors like Bill Gates’ TerraPower is attempting. Don’t replace oil and gas until oil and gas are factually replaceable. Its use isn’t clean like renewables, but you’re on the wrong side of the argument if you believe that mankind can do without the carbon atom.
Will the world see it? Will enough of the left understand that moderation is the way to go? Will they finally wake up to see the damage activists have done to their cause?
But this time—for the sake of our Ukrainian and European friends—maybe, just maybe.
By Dan Doyle for Oilprice.com
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