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From the plains of North Dakota to the deep waters of Brazil, dozens of major oil and gas projects have been suspended or canceled in recent weeks as companies scramble to adjust to the collapse in energy markets.
It would be foolhardy to depend on today’s lower energy prices – in this stalled economy – to determine whether or not we should develop alternatives to oil – as within two years we are going to be faced with the same climbing energy prices and the same scarcity of oil.
In the short run, falling oil prices are leading to welcome relief at the pump for American families ahead of the holidays, with gasoline down from its summer record of just over $4 to an average of $1.66 a gallon, and still falling.
But the project delays are likely to reduce future energy supplies — and analysts believe they may set the stage for another surge in oil prices once the global economy recovers.
Oil markets have had their sharpest-ever spikes and their steepest drops this year, all within a few months. Now, with a global recession at hand and oil consumption falling, the market’s extreme volatility is making it harder for energy executives to plan ahead. As a result, exploration spending, which had risen to a record this year, is being slashed.
The precipitous drop in oil prices since the summer, coming on the heels of a dizzying seven-year rise, was a reminder that the oil business, like those of most commodities, is cyclical. When demand drops and prices fall, companies curb their investments, leading to lower supplies. When demand recovers, prices rise again and companies start to invest in new production, starting another cycle.
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When it comes to the environment, John McCain only has the interests of Big Oil at heart. That’s why he has over 22 Big Oil lobbyists advising him. That’s why he favored lifting the moratorium on off-shore drilling — a move that prompted Big Oil to donate over $1 million to his campaign. And thanks to the League of Conservation Voters, we’ve got the proof!
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — Exxon Mobil Corp. set a quarterly profit record for a U.S. company Thursday, surging past analyst estimates.
Exxon Mobil (XOM, Fortune 500), the leading U.S. oil company, said its third-quarter net profit was $14.83 billion, or $2.86 per share, up from $9.41 billion, or $1.70, a year earlier. That profit included $1.45 billion in special items.
The company’s prior record was $11.68 billion in the second quarter of 2008.
The latest quarter’s net income equaled $1,865.69 per second, nearly $400 a second more than the prior mark.
The company said its revenue totaled $137.7 billion in the third quarter.
Analysts had expected Exxon to report a 40% jump in earnings to $2.38 per share, or net income of $12.2 billion, and a 28% surge in revenue to $131.13 billion, according to a consensus of estimates compiled by Thomson Reuters.
Exxon’s stock price slipped by nearly 3% in afternoon trading.
The company’s earnings were buoyed by oil prices, which reached record highs in the quarter before declining. Oil prices were trading at $140.97 a barrel at the beginning of the third quarter, and had fallen to $100.64 at the end.
Compare that to 2007, when prices traded at $71.09 a barrel at the beginning of the third quarter, and rose to $81.66 by the end.
Exxon’s special charges include the gain of $1.62 billion from the sale of a German natural gas company. It also includes the $170 million charge in interest related to punitive damages from the Valdez oil spill off the Alaskan coast in 1989.
The Irving, Texas-based company said it lost $50 million, before taxes, in oil revenue because of Hurricanes Gustav and Ike. The company expects damages related to these hurricanes to reduce fourth-quarter earnings by $500 million.
Despite the surge in profit, Exxon said oil production was down 8% in the third quarter, compared to the same period last year.
The company also said it is spending more money to locate new sources of oil. Exxon said it spent $6.9 billion on oil exploration in the third quarter, a jump of 26% from the same period last year. The company said it began a new program to tap natural gas offshore from Nigeria.
Exxon also has an aggressive program for buying back stock with 109 million of its shares repurchased during the third quarter, at a cost of $8.7 billion.
In a conference call with analysts, David Rosenthal, vice president of investor relations for Exxon, said the company’s “first priority” is utilizing profits to continue investing in exploration programs for oil and other resources.
Jokes: Bush went in as a Social Conservative and came out as a Conservative Socialist.
There are two problems here – one is the folding banking industry around the world – and the other is that the weakened banking industry would allow – outsiders and mainly sovereign wealth funds to come in a cherry pick the banks and or industries that they want at rock bottom prices – these very powerful sovereign funds are mainly coming from three areas – the Middle East, Russia and China. Their investments at a time like this would give these areas undue influence over US and EU banking and insurance industries – but more their investments will give these countries or regions undue influence over US and possibly EU policy. With undue Middle East influence we could all be eating Halal. Western governments had to act.
To blame – of course are a number of things – but one is George Bush’s oil policy. Since the US only has 3% of the world’s oil – to fund its oil usage – it has to get oil from somewhere else. Saudi Arabia held almost all of the cards up until the war in Iraq – and the removal of Saddam Hussein – allowed the US create a major oil player in Iraq. But the cost was enormous. Yesterday 40bn barrel Iraqi oil contracts were put on sale in London. Drill Baby Drill to Big Oil. The problem is that the cost of the war could have funded the industry to build solar panels for every roof – in sunnier areas. And the new research in a whole host of energy alternatives – which would one day become fixtures – or until we develop the new technology.
If you listen to McCain – and Palin – Russia is ready to attack – but the real deal is the laying and operation of a gas pipeline through Georgia. So like Iraq – likely there will be a military build up there – against the evil Russia – to secure the oil or gas coming from there.
Under Bush’s policy vast amounts of money is being transferred to the Middle East – vast amounts of money is going into wars for oil – under “security” – Condi recently had a meeting with the Libyan leader – with the intention of vast amounts of US money flowing into Libya.
While in the US infrastructure crumbles, while the people in the Western world are at the whim of dictators – like Chavez, or Russia which clearly is putting its interests first. And in the Middle East – which showed itself when George Bush didn’t speak at the Israeli Kenesit – as the German Chancellor Angela Merkel did- because – he had to ask the Saudi’s to lower the price of oil – and as a part of that deal – he slung them some nuclear technology.
The oil game is a crazy game and it is leaving the US broke and at a disadvantage. The advantage and the money are in new generation of ET energy technology – one where for example cars are run on magnetism (magnetic motor) – and more efficient battery technologies. What would it mean to the US and EU countries – if they could get a mechanized factory – a factory of robots – to work around the clock without having to take into account the cost of energy. With this we can compete with China. There would be no need to ship jobs abroad.
The candidate with real foresight is Barack Obama. He’s thinking.
The U.S. government is dramatically escalating its response to the financial crisis by planning to invest $250 billion in the country’s banks, forcing nine of the largest to accept a Treasury stake in what amounts to a partial nationalization.
News that European governments also planned to take stakes in their banks and anticipation of new U.S. measures unleashed a tremendous surge in U.S. stock prices yesterday, with the Dow Jones industrial average soaring to the biggest percentage gain since the 1930s, up 11.1 percent. It ended 936.42 points higher, the largest point gain ever, just days after the Dow had its steepest weekly decline in history.
The Treasury Department’s decision to take equity stakes in banks represents a significant reversal, coming just weeks after Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. had opposed the idea. In a momentous meeting yesterday afternoon in Washington, Paulson, flanked by top financial regulators, told the executives of nine leading banks that they needed to participate in the program for the good of the national economy, two industry sources said on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.
The government’s initiative, which was to be announced this morning before the markets open for New York trading, is part of a wider plan that goes beyond the $700 billion rescue package approved by Congress earlier this month. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. is also set to announce today the launch of an insurance fund to guarantee new issues of bank debt. It will provide unlimited deposit insurance for non-interest-bearing accounts, which are widely used by small businesses for payroll and other purposes.
In pressing the bank executives to accept partial government ownership, Paulson’s message was clear: Though officially the program was voluntary, the banks had little choice in the matter. In exchange for giving the Treasury minority stakes, the nine firms would jointly receive an investment worth $125 billion. The government would make another $125 billion available for the next 30 days to thousands of other banks and thrifts across the country.
Federal officials set conditions, telling the banks they could not raise their dividends without government permission and could not offer their executives new retirement packages, though the old packages would remain intact.
Paulson told them the moves would shore up confidence in their own institutions, spark lending throughout the system and send a message to smaller institutions that there is no stigma in accepting federal funding. Though some were reluctant, all of the executives complied.
There is a risk that banks will take the new government capital and use it to bolster their balance sheets but still not resume lending, and the Treasury is not getting any specific contractual guarantee to prevent that from happening. But bank regulators, particularly the Federal Reserve, will lean heavily on the firms receiving infusions to use the capital to increase their lending to businesses and consumers.
Taken together, the steps planned by the Treasury, the FDIC and the Federal Reserve amount to a monumental effort to jump-start the business of lending, which all but dried up in recent weeks as banks have lost faith in one another and their customers. Global markets began to melt down. Some emerging nations teetered on the brink of financial collapse.
Source: Washington Post
If the offending picture is the White House – perhaps the they could tone the ad down a bit – know that you are competing with the old system – but perhaps be more subtle with it – the truth is nothing can stop the new energy – in 50 – 100 years – we are not going to be potting around with a combustion engine. The top of the range electric car is already more efficient than the gas guzzler, it goes from 0-60 mph almost as fast as you can put the pedal down, it is also faster and cheaper at 2¢/mile. Consider that like computers were 10/15 years ago.
The new buzz word is ET ~ energy technology, if we can do what we did with IT – with energy technology – then we don’t know where we will end up and what will be the power of the future. It is likely – the crude oil and its cousins – will go the way of the whale oil they once had to pour in the sea (as the barrels were worth more) and the oil lamps that it powered.
An environmental action group founded by former vice president Al Gore is accusing ABC of censoring an advocacy ad the group paid to air on the network.
The Alliance for Climate Protection late Wednesday sent an e-mail blast to supporters with the ominous subject line, “ABC won’t air our ad.”
“Did you notice the ads after last night’s presidential debate? ABC had Chevron. CBS had Exxon. CNN had the coal lobby,” wrote Alliance CEO Cathy Zoi. “But you know what happened last week? ABC refused to run our Repower America ad — the ad that takes on this same oil and coal lobby.” The message sent readers to to a web page where they could send a form letter to the network.
The ad in question, which was aired by several other networks, is a 30-second spot that starts off with a call to “Repower America,” with images of a little girl, windmills and solar panels.
Zoi sent a letter to Disney-ABC Television Group President Anne Sweeney on behalf of the Alliance, protesting the decision.
“This advertisement simply points out that the massive spending by oil companies on advertising and lobbying is a primary reason our nation hasn’t switched to clean and renewable sources for our energy. The assertions that our ad makes are factual, common sense and are needed in the national debate about our energy future. Your viewers should not be denied the right to hear this point of view,” wrote Zoi.
“Your rejection is even more indefensible given the overwhelming number of misleading ads that the oil and coal industry have run on your network,” she continued. “This year alone, oil and coal companies and interests have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in an effort to convince the American people that they are focused on solving our energy and climate crises. On its face, these assertions by oil and coal defy all reason.”
Barry said the group did not receive a response from ABC. The “Repower America” ad ran on CBS, CNN, CNN Headline News, Fox News, and MSNBC. ABC was the only one to reject the ad, according to the Alliance. The time spot purchased on ABC cost the group nearly $100,000, according to the Alliance. Instead of airing “Repower America,” ABC ran the group’s “Free Us” ad, which was already running on the network.
Drill Baby Drill – though there is a big question that keeps coming up – Drill What?
According to experts even in Palin’s ANWR oasis – over one hundred test wells have been sunk around the area and have yet to produce the dream find that Palin believes the US could be dependent on. Oil leaving the Alaska pipeline is now half the volume of its peak. But while Palin fools herself – she strikes out to convince others of the same.
By Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
I was water-skiing with my children in a light drizzle off Hyannis, Mass., last month when a sudden, fierce storm plunged us into a melee of towering waves, raking rain, painful hail and midday darkness broken by blinding flashes of lightning. As I hurried to get my children out of the water and back to the dock, I shouted over the roaring wind, “This is some kind of tornado.”
The fog consolidated and a waterspout hundreds of feet high rose from the white ocean and darted across its surface, landing for a moment on a moored outboard to spin it like a top, moving toward a distant shore where it briefly became a sand funnel, and then diffusing into the atmosphere as it rained down bits of beach on the harbor. For 24 hours, a light show of violent storms illuminated the coastline, accompanied by booming thunder. My dog was so undone by the display that she kept us all awake with her terrified whining. That same day, two waterspouts appeared on Long Island Sound.
Those odd climatological phenomena led me to reflect on the rapidly changing weather patterns that are altering the way we live. Lightning storms and strikes have tripled just since the beginning of the decade on Cape Cod. In the 1960s, we rarely saw lightning or heard thunder on the Massachusetts coast. I associate electrical storms with McLean, Va., where I spent the school year when I was growing up.
In Virginia, the weather also has changed dramatically. Recently arrived residents in the northern suburbs, accustomed to today’s anemic winters, might find it astonishing to learn that there were once ski runs on Ballantrae Hill in McLean, with a rope tow and local ski club. Snow is so scarce today that most Virginia children probably don’t own a sled. But neighbors came to our home at Hickory Hill nearly every winter weekend to ride saucers and Flexible Flyers.
In those days, I recall my uncle, President Kennedy, standing erect as he rode a toboggan in his top coat, never faltering until he slid into the boxwood at the bottom of the hill. Once, my father, Atty. Gen. Robert Kennedy, brought a delegation of visiting Eskimos home from the Justice Department for lunch at our house. They spent the afternoon building a great igloo in the deep snow in our backyard. My brothers and sisters played in the structure for several weeks before it began to melt. On weekend afternoons, we commonly joined hundreds of Georgetown residents for ice skating on Washington’s C&O Canal, which these days rarely freezes enough to safely skate.
Meanwhile, Exxon Mobil and its carbon cronies continue to pour money into think tanks whose purpose is to deceive the American public into believing that global warming is a fantasy. In 1998, these companies plotted to deceive American citizens about climate science. Their goal, according to a meeting memo, was to orchestrate information so that “recognition of uncertainties become part of the conventional wisdom” and that “those promoting the Kyoto treaty … appear to be out of touch with reality.”
Since that meeting, Exxon has funneled $23 million into the climate-denial industry, according to Greenpeace, which combs the company’s annual report each year. Since 2006, Exxon has cut off some of the worst offenders, but 28 climate-denial groups will still get funding this year.
Corporate America’s media toadies continue to amplify Exxon’s deceptive message. The company can count on its hand puppets — Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, John Stossel and Glenn Beck — to shamelessly mouth skepticism about man-made climate change and give political cover to the oil industry’s indentured servants on Capitol Hill. Oklahoma’s Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe calls global warming “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American public.”
Now John McCain has chosen as his running mate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, a diligent student of Big Oil’s crib sheets. She’s something of a flat-earther who shares the current administration’s contempt for science. Palin has expressed skepticism about evolution (which is like not believing in gravity), putting it on par with “creationism,” which posits that the Earth was created 6,000 years ago.
She used to insist that human activities have nothing to do with climate change. “I’m not one … who would attribute it to being man-made,” she said in August. After she joined the GOP ticket, she magically reversed herself, to a point. “Man’s activities certainly can be contributing to the issue of global warming,” she told Charles Gibson two weeks ago.
Meanwhile, Alaska is melting before our eyes; entire villages erode as sea ice vanishes, glaciers are disappearing at a frightening clip, and “dancing forests” caused by disappearing permafrost astonish residents and tourists. Palin had to keep her head buried particularly deep in an oil well to ever have denied that humans are causing climate change. But, as Upton Sinclair pointed out, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”
Palin’s enthusiastic embrace of Big Oil’s agenda (if not always Big Oil itself) has been the platform of her hasty rise in Alaskan politics. In that sense she is as much a product of the oil industry as the current president and his vice president. Palin, whose husband is a production operator for BP on Alaska’s North Slope, has sued the federal government over its listing of the polar bear as an endangered species threatened by global warming, and she has fought to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and Alaska’s coast to oil drilling.
When oil profits are at stake, her fantasy world appears to have no boundaries. About American’s deadly oil dependence, she mused recently, “I beg to disagree with any candidate who would say we can’t drill our way out of our problem.”
I guess the only difference between Sarah Palin and Dick Cheney is … lipstick.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is an environmental lawyer and a professor at Pace University Law School.