It started with a simple question by US Department of Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman: What does the future hold for supplies of oil and natural gas?
The query was made in October 2005 in a one-page letter sent to Lee Raymond, the former chairman of Exxon Mobil and head of the National Petroleum Council, a federal advisory group representing the oil industry.
After nearly two years, Raymond has finally delivered his answer: Because the world's population is growing and living standards are rising worldwide, energy consumption globally is expected to rise by more than 50 percent over the next 25 years. But finding supplies to match that growth is going to be increasingly tough and will require huge new investments in coming decades.
The support for that conclusion is a 476-page study titled Facing the Hard Truths About Energy that involved 350 participants, suggestions from more than 1,000 people, submissions by 19 foreign governments from Australia to Saudi Arabia, and dozens of subcommittees.
Some of the recommendations made by the petroleum council probably far exceed what the Bush administration was expecting, for example calling for a federal standard to manage carbon emissions and taking steps to moderate consumption.
The report, which was made public in Washington on Wednesday, was billed as one of the most comprehensive analyses of the global energy challenge in decades. It also provides a sobering picture of the energy problem facing the US and the world.
The council's report warns of "accumulating risks" to energy production, including rising geopolitical barriers, inflation in costs, dwindling numbers of petroleum engineers and growing constraints on carbon dioxide emissions. Although it does not say so explicitly, the subtext of the council's study suggests that high energy prices might be here to stay.
The study's release comes as frustrations grow over high energy costs. Congress is debating a proposal to bolster the development of alternative fuels and to increase the fuel efficiency of vehicles.
Unlike the Bush administration's energy task force, which was led by Vice President Dick Cheney in 2001 and fought efforts to disclose the people it consulted, the petroleum council's study makes no secret of who participated in its effort.
The list of contributors to the petroleum council's report is a roster of top industry leaders and consultants, including senior executives from Exxon and Chevron. But the council also enlisted the help of private research centers, academic institutions, banks, government agencies and environmental groups like Resources for the Future and the Alliance to Save Energy.
"The study really reflects the zeitgeist of the times," said Daniel Yergin, the chairman of Cambridge Energy Research Associates and an energy consultant who participated in the study.
Still, some of the report's conclusions would hardly seem surprising, given the authors.
For example, it dismisses predictions from so-called peak oil theorists that the world's oil deposits are on the decline; quite the contrary, the industry's view is that the world's resources remain abundant.
"Fortunately, the world is not running out of energy resources," the report says in a 40-page summary. "Coal, oil and natural gas will remain indispensable to meeting total projected energy demand growth."
But while the council calls for expanding and diversifying traditional energy supplies -- oil and gas, coal and nuclear power -- it also backs the development of alternative fuels, including biofuels.
"There is no quick fix," Raymond said at a news conference on Wednesday. "To assume that we have the option of not pursuing one of the sources of energy is a fake choice."
Strikingly, the report's first recommendation calls for the US government to moderate energy demand by increasing vehicle fuel economy standards, the main sources of growth in oil demand around the world, and improve energy efficiency in buildings and homes.
"The world will need better energy efficiency and all economic, environmentally responsible energy sources available to support and sustain future growth," the report said.
Kateri Callahan, president of the Alliance to Save Energy, who helped write the report, said: "It is not the expected voice calling for demand moderation and the increase of energy efficiency. They are being honest about the situation. But everyone recognizes it is going to take more than just moderating demand, or increasing efficiency, or increasing alternative supplies, but it is going to take all these things. And we cannot afford to wait."
But perhaps the biggest surprise is that Raymond, who was well known for his skepticism about global warming when he was chairman of Exxon Mobil, has given his support to a study that says oil companies and governments need to address carbon emissions and offers some suggestions for how carbon dioxide can be trapped in underground reservoirs.
The report says the government should "provide an effective, global framework for carbon management, including the establishment of a transparent, predictable, economy-wide cost for carbon dioxide."
Bodman, who attended Wednesday's presentation, said: "These are hard facts and hard facts require us to plan for hard choices, now and in the future."
Energy Undersecretary Clay Sell said the administration would consider the report's recommendations but made no commitment to following any of them. The administration has resisted tackling carbon emissions saying any mechanism that would create a cost for carbon emissions would be too costly for the economy.
Oil prices have risen sharply in recent years as the growth in demand, mainly from China and the US, has outpaced the growth in oil production. The result has been a very tight global market, with very little spare capacity to bring online.
Since COVID-19 broke out in Taiwan, there has been a fair amount of news regarding discrimination and “witch hunts” against medical personnel, people under self-quarantine and other targets, such as the students of a school where an infection was discovered. Quarantine breakers are almost certainly on the loose and it is only natural for people to be vigilant. One in Chiayi was found by accident at a traffic stop because his helmet was not fastened. However, those who follow the rules by quarantining themselves should be encouraged to keep up the good work in a difficult situation, instead of being
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator-at-large Wu Sz-huai (吳斯懷) has said that there is a huge difference between Chinese military aircraft circling Taiwan along the edges of its airspace and invading Taiwan’s airspace. He also said that whether it is US or Chinese aircraft flying along or encircling Taiwan’s airspace, there is no legal basis to say that such actions imply a clear provocation of Taiwan, and asked the Ministry of National Defense not to mislead the public. People who hear this might think that it is not a very Taiwanese thing to say. US military activity in the vicinity of Taiwan
As the COVID-19 pandemic spins out of control, many parts of the world are experiencing shortages of medical masks and other protective equipment. I am studying in Washington state, which at the time of writing is the US state that has suffered the largest number of deaths from the novel coronavirus. The week before last, UW Medicine — an organization that includes the University of Washington School of Medicine and associated medical centers and clinics — sent its volunteers an e-mail asking the public to make masks and donate them to hospitals. Attached to the message was a mask donation
As the nation welcomes home Taiwanese who had been stranded in China’s Hubei Province — arguably one of the most dangerous places on Earth since the novel coronavirus outbreak began in its capital, Wuhan, late last year — problems surrounding the “quasi-charter flights” that brought them back have been largely overlooked. The media used the term to describe the two flights dispatched by Taiwan’s state-run China Airlines because they do not count as charter flights. Taiwanese wanting to board those flights had to travel — most likely by train — more than 1,000km from Hubei to Shanghai Pudong International Airport