Rank the Top 10 Oil Stories of 2007

While I intend to write a post covering the top energy stories of 2007, Platts is asking for reader input on the top oil industry stories of 2007:

The top 10 oil industry stories of 2007

A lot of the listed stories would make both lists. I list my Top 10 below that I submitted to Platts. The first few were easy, but I had a hard time picking between the last three or four.

My top 10 oil industry stories of 2007:

  1. Oil soars, reaches close to $100 for WTI
  2. Spare capacity dwindles, supply/demand balance tightens; Peak Oil theory gets more attention
  3. Climate change rapidly moves up the list of the world’s concerns; US Senate votes for mandatory GHG emission limits
  4. OPEC increases production by 500,000 b/d in November, rejects a further increase after that
  5. Weakness in demand in developed countries more than offset by strength in developing nations, like China
  6. Venezuela takes over former foreign-operated fields
  7. Ethanol use soars in the US, but its price plunges
  8. Cost pressures lead to some diverted refinery plans
  9. WTI plunges below Brent in spring on buildup in Cushing inventories
  10. Iraq production slowly begins to recover

I think by far the biggest stories were the supply/demand issues, oil prices, and the fact that the MSM “discovered” Peak Oil in 2007. Ethanol was a big story as well, but I would have put it differently. 2007 was the year that the realization of the downsides of corn ethanol finally reached critical mass. One other thing I think I would have listed among the stories was something around the Congressional hearings, and/or attempts to pass an energy bill.

So, let the debate begin. What else should be on there? What do I have too high? Not high enough?

38 thoughts on “Rank the Top 10 Oil Stories of 2007”

  1. I liked this story:
    Pope condemns prophets of climate doom

    The German-born Pontiff said that while some concerns may be valid it was vital that the international community based its policies on science rather than the dogma of the environmentalist movement.

    The Pope has recognized that the modern environmental movement is becoming a religion with its own orthodoxy and enforcement of dogma. Skeptics are branded as heretics and punished accordingly.

    The Holy Father should be commended for taking a courageous stand to those who love nature more than humanity.

  2. This from the same cabal that wait nearly 400 years to clear Galileo of heresey for suggesting the sun, not the earth, was the center of the solar.

    Can you say Back to the Future…?

  3. The Daily Mail is a well-known AGW denial rag, they have completely misrepresented what the Pope said.

    Sadly, deceit is par for the course in denier circles. I suspect this is the dogma the Pope was referring to.

  4. Anon – Catholic bashing that would take an entire post to refute. But look up Canon Settele or Christopher Clavius if you are interested.

    Ok, let’s go to the unfiltered source: The Human Family, a Community of Peace Read it for yourself, but here are a couple of excerpts:

    Human beings, obviously, are of supreme worth vis-à-vis creation as a whole. Respecting the environment does not mean considering material or animal nature more important than man.

    Isn’t that antithetical to the environmental movement where worms and polar bears are equal to human beings?

    Humanity today is rightly concerned about the ecological balance of tomorrow. It is important for assessments in this regard to be carried out prudently, in dialogue with experts and people of wisdom, uninhibited by ideological pressure to draw hasty conclusions, and above all with the aim of reaching agreement on a model of sustainable development capable of ensuring the well-being of all while respecting environmental balances.

    Released in the same week as the conferences in Bali – who else did he mean by this?

    It is humorous that I post comparing the AGW hypothesis to a relgion and within 2 replies we get Catholic bashing AND someone using the “D” word – proving my point.

  5. Depends on the meaning of “top” oil stories, doesn’t “it”?

    If we put ourselves 5 – 10 years in the future and look back, we might conclude that the following stories turned out to have staying power:

    – Oil companies starved for opportunities. Despite the price of oil reaching nearly $100/Bbl, exploration & production budgets grew only modestly (above inflation), and companies continued to use a large chunk of their surplus cash flow to buy back their own shares. (Does this mean the writing is on the wall for the end of what used to be called Big Oil).

    – Shell made public some of their innovative technology for extracting shale oil by in-situ processing, potentially signalling the start of a whole new branch of the oil industry.

  6. Pope: Respecting the environment does not mean considering material or animal nature more important than man.

    kingofkaty: Isn’t that antithetical to the environmental movement where worms and polar bears are equal to human beings?

    Well, the Pope said animals shouldn’t be considered more important than man.
    That could mean he thinks they are equal to man, or that they are less than man. Only the latter is antithetical.

  7. Good one fat man!

    I wonder what would happen if President Bush called a press conference, declared that the debate over AGW is over and that he was withdrawing all federal funding for the study of the effect of CO2 on climate and weather. Furthermore, any universities funding such research would no longer be eligible for federal grants or tuition assistance.

    Would you suddenly see scientists argue against the consensus?

  8. What does
    8. Cost pressures lead to some diverted refinery plans
    refer to?

    I treated that one very generically. There have been a number of oil company projects that have been cancelled, ironically, because high oil prices have driven the costs of the projects to far beyond the budgets.


  9. Is this a big deal?

    Could be. Certainly very interesting. However, as the paper notes Ru chemistry is going to be too expensive to do on a commercial scale. If they can reproduce the results with iron, it will be a much bigger deal.


  10. I was never a “doomer” of any sort. It’s hard to think why this troll to “Odograph or Greenengineer” would bother me.

    No, and I’m probably more reassured by the Pope’s earlier “stewardship” argument;

    THE Vatican has added its voice to warnings from churches around the world that climate change and abuse of the environment is against God’s will.

    It seems a reasonable Christian view that the earth is “for” us, but that we shouldn’t necessarily trash it like a punk band in a cheap hotel.

  11. Shorter: There are ecological extremists, with their own dogma, but they don’t own global warming.

    (You have to be an extremist of another sort to wish they did.)

  12. Odograph – I was joking.

    The Pope has charted a wise middle course. We need to move in the direction towards a more sustainable future without condemning the developing world to perpetual poverty nor destroying the economies of the developed world.

    My fear is that socialism has hijacked the AGW movement. Opressive governments much more damaging than a few degrees of warming or cooling. History is on my side of this argument as the last 100 years of global warming have been the most prosperous in human history, save for the tens of millions of victims of communism and socialism.

    Things are getting better. In my job I work 10 years out in the future. I can assure you that we have some surprises for the rentier and thug states.

  13. There are ecological extremists, with their own dogma, but they don’t own global warming.

    You can’t be serious. Like it or not, Al Gore owns global warming. He is an extremist. A few years back a website had a quiz comparing Al Gore to the Unabomber. The site was both funny and scary to think that but for a few thousand votes in Florida this guy might be leading the free world. (Bush would have won in Florida under just about any scenario for recounting the votes. Some newspapers did the recounting months after the fact.)

    Hey the site is back! Al Gore or the Unabomber? Try your luck.

  14. If you google the blogs for “Jerry Taylor” you’ll see a funny battle going on (I’m participating in a couple related Gristmill threads).

    Mr. Taylor is senior fellow at the Cato Institute, and a backer of carbon taxes to combat global warming. That’s a group pretty far from the environmental extreme, and pretty far from Al Gore as well.

    The funny thing is that so few can be happy that Taylor/Cato have come that far. Rather than negotiate a reasonable carbon tax (and method of raising that tax world-wide), it’s become a battle against the evil of “economics.”

    Funny, but as I say the subtext is that everybody is a GW activist, these days.

  15. Not to put too fine a point on it, but Tobis is a useful idiot. He said:

    I am willing to make enemies on the left and right saying I don’t believe in the grass roots, I believe in big government, I believe in taxing and spending, I believe that your property is a limited charter from the collective interest, not a god-given right. I believe it’s a good idea to interfere with your use of that property only as much as necessary, and no more, but that’s a tactical and not a moral belief.

    Big government, big taxation, limited property rights . . . sounds like socialism! Thanks again for proving my point. It is pathetic that Mr. Tobis can’t read history and understand that socialist countries have committed the worst environmental attrocities (See Blacksmith Institute’s top 10 polluted list).

  16. Well, I think the point you were trying to make was that the extreme was the middle, on GW.

    I don’t buy that. In fact I think the sad theme today is “extreme vs. extreme.”

  17. Toshiba has a new battery technology
    “Toshiba announced today that it has developed a new type of rechargeable battery dubbed the Super Charge ion Battery (SCiB). Toshiba claims the new battery will mainly target the industrial market, though representatives hint the technology may eventually find a home in electric vehicles.

    “The main claim to fame for the SCiB battery is that it can recharge to 90% of total capacity in fewer than five minutes. Toshiba also claims the battery has a life span of over 10-years.

    “Toshiba says that it adopted a new negative electrode material, new separators, a new electrolyte and new manufacturing technology to bring the SCiB to life.

    “The SCiB batteries can recharge with as much as 50 amperes of current and but with capacity loss after 3,000 cycles of less than 10%. Toshiba also says the battery has excellent safety with the new negative electrode material having a high level of thermal stability and a high flash point. The battery is also said to be structurally resistant to internal short-circuiting and thermal runaway.”

    It’s progress.

  18. Is there any merit to this story? Does it have any promise?

    Sure, the gasifier uses microwave energy vs. heat energy to bread the chemical bonds. Whether or not this works commercially depends on the cost of the equipment and efficiency. What is missing from the demonstration is the amount kWh required to power the microwave. Coal is pretty cheap on a BTU basis.

    Would you be impressed if I chunked tires, old computers, or stuffed animals into my conventional gasifier and made syngas out of them?

  19. I don’t buy that. In fact I think the sad theme today is “extreme vs. extreme.”

    I’m an agnostic on the whole AGW thing, but I’m not extreme about it. I might be wrong (a position I NEVER hear from the AGW proponents). We ought to improve efficiencies and explore alternatives because it is better than shipping boatloads of dollars to despotic regimes.

    I think a train wreck of development, energy, food, environment, and warfare, all driven by a hugely overpopulated planet, is going to be very hard to avoid. I think we can avoid it, and even when I am pessimistic I whistle a happy tune and act as if we can avoid it — because without optimism there is no hope.

    More Tobis, gee a socialist and a doomer! Now that is an extreme view. At least someone straightened him out on Carnot efficiencies. BTW, my heat engines operate at a LOT higher temperature than your car engine, so even in simple cycle I get better efficiencies.

    I’m even wearing a plaid shirt today!

  20. Should I go for the simple reminder that no one is a “AGW proponent?”

    That is seemingly shallow, but a reminder too. Proponents of action do often say they might be wrong about the scale of GW damage.

    That’s the reason the IPCC puts “error bars” on their estimates of course.

    In fact, the “insurance argument” is commonly made because this is about judicious preparation for uncertain risk.

    Maybe you are just confused, because you want a “AGW proponent” to say that it’s possible there is “zero risk.” People who see harm beginning in our current world are not going to buy into that!

  21. Should I go for the simple reminder that no one is a “AGW proponent?”

    Don’t be obtuse! Or even Clintonian. There are lots of proponents of the concept that (a) global warming (however defined) is occurring, and (b) it is all mankind’s fault — specifically, your fault; not Al Gore’s fault, no Sir.

    Interestingly, the proponents of AGW rarely mention that (if global warming is occurring) it must inevitably bring benefits as well as costs. Just think about the expanded farmland in Canada & Siberia. Think about all the avoided travel once northern Europeans no longer have to make 3-4 plane trips a year to the sunny Mediterranean.

    A gentleman who worked for an international agency told me that some years ago he was assigned to work on the costs of global warming. He worked long & diligently and came up with a net figure showing costs & benefits. His superiors ripped off the benefits part & threw it away. And you wonder why proponents of AGW can’t get any respect from people with brains in their skulls?

  22. Well, the only reason I’m concerned with global warming, and favor action, is that I think it will impact what the economists call “environmental services.”

    For me those include things like a healthy and diverse biosphere.

    Not only does an unhealthy and restricted biosphere make life on earth less enjoyable, it increases the fragility of life for us and for future generations.

    Without having seen your friend’s list, I’d worry that it … well to put it rudely, say “less species, but bigger screen TVs!”

    (Would you like a Big Gulp with that? It’s got ‘lectrolytes.)

  23. Well, the only reason I’m concerned with global warming, and favor action, is that I think it will impact what the economists call “environmental services.”

    Implicit in your favoring action is the assumption that a mildly higher global average temperature would be a Bad Thing. What makes you think that Warmer = Bad? Why shouldn’t Warmer = More Biodiversity, More Photosynthetic Primary Productivity, Better Planet?

  24. I should have said “proponents of the AGW theory”. AGW is often talked about like it is a proven fact.

    Sometimes I hear the scientists talking about the error bars, I can’t recall Al Gore mentioning it though. In fact he exagerates the consequences to make his point.

    We should be repowering oil fired units with gas and upgrading pulverized coal to IGCC and nuclear. The Brits liked the 1990 goal for Kyoto because they idled most of their dirty coal plants in the 1980s in favor of North Sea gas.

    The US needs to approve more wind power, starting with Cape Wind. We need to build the Alaska gas line, open up the 1002 area, build LNG import terminals in California and the northeast, and offer tax incentives for carbon capture and sequestration. All of that would reduce CO2 with very little impact on the economy. But the envrironmentalists oppose just about everything.

  25. In fact, odograph, let’s give you a personal choice. Wonderful Al Gore, seeking another Nobel Prize, has just invented a Time Machine. The UN has given Big Al authorization to solve the problem of Anthropogenic Global Warming humanely by sending a good chunk of the human beings on the planet back to the past.

    Big Al has decided to send you, odograph, back to Olde Englande. Because Al is a really nice guy, he gives you a choice. You can be sent back to about 1000 AD during the Medieval Warm period, when grape vines grew in England. Or you can go back to about 1600 AD during the Little Ice Age when the River Thames froze solid every winter.

    Your choice — which time (temperature) are you going to pick? And don’t forget to thank Al on your way out.

  26. “Implicit in your favoring action is the assumption that a mildly higher global average temperature would be a Bad Thing. What makes you think that Warmer = Bad? Why shouldn’t Warmer = More Biodiversity, More Photosynthetic Primary Productivity, Better Planet?”

    I didn’t really “assume.” I’m pretty widely read on GW, and don’t recall any reputable studies that show broad environmental services would be strengthened by GW. The best I’ve seen in that regard is that certain regional farming systems would benefit.

    Farms are important to us, and future generations, but I think they are the least of our worries, WRT GW.

  27. I don’t think we ever have the argument about whether warmer is better because the AGW theorists shut off the debate.

    The most likely result is that we have some moderate warming, humans adjust to it, and the world goes on pretty much as it always has. That said, there is a small chance things go bad. We should take out a little insurance against that risk. The argument is over how much the premium ought to be and what the potential losses are.

    In that regard, the economists are usefull and the climate scientists are useless.

  28. (Put another way, it is the classic “argument with missing data.” If anyone did the right study, they’d prove you right … right?)

  29. If anyone did the right study, they’d prove you right … right?

    I don’t think it IS provable. CO2 has been several thousand ppm in the past and lower in the future. The earth has been warmer when CO2 was lower and the same, cooler, and warmer when CO2 was higher than it is now. So far we haven’t ventured out of the range of what is normal for the planet. The only way to know for sure is to find out when we get there.

    The computer models are only as good as the underlying equations used to generate them and the data used to come up with the equations and validate the models. We only have 400 years of direct temperature measurement at land based stations and 40 years of satellite data. If I were a NOAA scientist I would be ashamed of the quality of the land based data stations ( Watts Up with that ). As a chemist Odo do you think thermometers placed near transformers, air conditioners, and parking spaces might introduce a little bias? How about if I put one next to an ice hockey rink?

    You ever bother to ask the climate modeling geniuses what equations of state they use for modeling the gases?

    Besides, according to AGW theory CO2 is absorbing and trapping solar radiation. CO2 filters out radiation of only a certain wavelength. Even if AGW theory is correct, you reach the law of diminishing returns as the CO2 rises. Above a certain point all the radiation in the CO2 bandwith is gone. So the first few hundred ppm should have a greater effect.

    Now, you have lots of climate modellers taking lots of government grants, all betting things will get worse. Maybe everyone is right, or maybe they are all biased.

    Yeah, I’m pretty skeptical.

  30. Odograph wrote:
    I didn’t really “assume.” I’m pretty widely read on GW, and don’t recall any reputable studies that show broad environmental services would be strengthened by GW.

    Me, personally, I am open-minded about Alleged Anthropogenic Global Warming — albeit with an I’m-from-Missouri “show me” perspective.

    One of the peculiar things about Alleged Anthropogenic Global Warming is that the proponents generally do not put up much of an argument for their theory — strange when the theory is so strong. The most commmon argument is the chant of “settled concensus”, distantly followed by a purely theoretical argument barely advanced since Arrhenius’ day. But you, Odograph, are the first person to say that you don’t know something because other people have not studied it. Strange.

    Since you did not answer the question about whether you would choose to be sent back to Warm England or Cold England, let me answer for you. You, Odograph, would probably have chosen Warm England.

    We know that because millions of people from cold places like Ohio have voluntarily moved to warm places like California. We know that because warm France & Spain are now filled with people who deliberately left cold England & Germany.

    And don’t kid yourself that all those heat-seekers wanted to go someplace where there were poorer “broad environmental services”. They chose to move to warmer climes where there is a broader variety of plants & animals, as well as more sunshine and more warmth.

    It is strange that people would give more credence to poorly explained alarmism than to the evidence of their own eyes.

  31. If OPEC is restricting supply all the peak oil hysteria may be unfounded.

    What if their strategy is to keep production restricted encouraging alternatives and then open the valve wide to cause the alternatives to fail economically?

    I wouldn’t put it past them.

  32. I haven’t seen anything happen in the last hundred years or is predicted to happen in the next hundred that hasn’t already happened at some time as part of natural climate cycling.

    Wake me up when something unusual happens.

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