Friday, November 28, 2014


Outlaw Mike & family stay warm through the winter with heating oil, since we're too far out in the country to have natural gas mains near our home and besides, I don't like gas. For Americanos, by gas I mean methane of course, not petrol.

We have but a 2,000 litre tank under the lawn in front of our house, but still we need to fill it only twice a year, in February and November.

Last February I paid around 1,700 EUR for some 2,000 litres. Cripes.

Then last week when my wife woke me up saying I'd have to wash with cold water Outlaw Mike feared he would have to scrape the bottom of the money barrel again.

But no - imagine my surprise when my supplier left an invoice of only 1367 or so EUR for 1,935 litres! Well, okay, it's not that a boon of around 350 euros suddenly makes a world of difference. For the Clintons it might, poor bastards that they are.

But that don't mean we can throw with it either, so that little extra was more than welcome.

The Telegraph's Jeremy Warner has some thoughts. Happy thoughts:

"...For big oil-consuming regions – America, Europe and Asia – the collapse in the price is a boon, which ought to provide a substantial stimulus to economies becalmed by deficient demand. In both Britain and the US, there is already evidence that lower fuel prices are helping to boost consumer spending and confidence.

Yet for many oil exporters, it is a disaster. Ever since the Arab Spring, there has been an unwritten understanding that the price required to keep the natives quiescent is $100 a barrel or higher. The benchmark for Brent crude is now down to $71, with every possibility, given the abundant supply, of it going as low as $50.

For a low-cost producer like Saudi Arabia, with its huge financial cushion of overseas assets to fall back on, this may just about be tolerable, at least for a while. For many others, it’s a living nightmare with massive domestic and geopolitical implications.

We shouldn’t mourn that much. Ever since its foundation back in the Sixties, Opec has been a brutally destructive force on the global stage, whose malign grip on oil prices has helped sustain some particularly unsavoury regimes. The best analogy I can think of for its influence is that it is a bit like having your interest rate policy set by a small caucus of self-centred outsiders, who pay little or no regard to wider economic needs.


This monstrous cartel, an organisation which in any other line of business would be hunted down and prosecuted, may now be about to get its comeuppance. By ensuring that the price stayed above $100 a barrel for much of the past six or seven years, Opec has sowed the seeds of its own destruction. Those sky-high oil prices are one of the reasons why the global economy has been struggling. There is even quite a bit of evidence to suggest they were a key factor in tipping the world into crisis in the first place.

The effect on the oil market has been both to depress demand, while at the same time encouraging the development of other, non-Opec sources of production – the most striking example of which is American shale. There is a sense in which Opec's hubris has created its own nemesis. This is not unlike what happened after the oil price shocks of the Seventies, when by hiking up the price, Opec similarly pole-axed demand and spawned a worldwide search for alternative sources of energy supply, including Britain’s North Sea. Opec lost market share on a hitherto unprecedented scale amid the consequent glut.


Admittedly, some big growth markets remain – notably China, where new car sales are running at around 1.5 million a month. There’s life in the black stuff yet. Even so, the once-fashionable idea of “peak oil” – that the petroleum would run out before we’d found alternatives, or at least that the low-cost supply was close to exhaustion, leaving the world dependent on much more expensive sources – looks ever more misplaced.

I’m not saying that the oil price will never again get much above $80 a barrel. Inevitably it will. There are, no doubt, at least another couple of cycles left in the oil market yet. Hydrocarbon consumption still accounts for around a tenth of global GDP, and much of the rest of it owes its existence to the transformative power of oil. It will be many decades before the world frees itself of this dependence.

All the same, oil is steadily losing its power to shock – and so are Opec and its Bedouin masters. This is an overwhelmingly positive development, and in a gloom-ridden world, a matter for some celebration."

Mr Warner is right. By keeping prices so high for so long, OPEC has shot itself in the foot, spurring the West to look for alternatives. A considerable effort has of course gone to false leads, like solar and wind power. Don't get me wrong - there IS a niche for these things, but they can never substitute for the substantial demands of our industry and infrastructure.

However, part of the search for an alternative to OPEC oil has ultimately led to the exploitation of shale oil. And now that we have discovered its abundancy, and developed a technology to extract it - fracking - there's no stopping it anymore.

This is very good news. Of course, the lower oil prices are a bad thing for the couple of decent OPEC members; Ecuador, Nigeria. As for the rest, I couldn't care less. Finally, there's payback for four decades of being in the claws, energy-wise, of deranged Arabs who f*cked up our economies for the first time in 1973-74 because those monsters were unable to live in peace with a small prodigious country harming no-one: Israel. From the US over Europe to Japan, we all had to pay dearly for the malignant whims of the oil sheikhs. Degenerated religious idiots who were themselves incapable of extracting the very oil they were sitting on. They needed western intelligence, engineering and management to produce their riches, and what did they do with it? Finance the spreading of their hateful islamic message throughout the world. That barbaric appeal was directly responsible for decades of terror, culminating in 2001 in two airliners plunging themselves in the WTC, their tanks full of dearly paid kerosene.

 photo OPEC_oil_crisis_zps0f0c8fcf.jpg

Payback time!

Of course this evolution will not lead to an immediate collapse of the Saudis & Co. Like Mr Warner observes, global demand is bound to increase, spurred by China and other major countries taking off. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, this is not the end. It's not even the beginning of the end.

But the West, and especially the US, finally being able to provide for its energy needs without having to beg degenerated terrorism sponsors - that's certainly the end of the beginning. A matter for celebration, certainly.


No comments: