6 August 2005

Saudi Arabia will in coming decades be unable to maintain its current level of oil production, with large-economic repercussions

Matthew Simmons, author of Twilight in the Desert participated in an online Washington Post live chat session on the topic of Saudi Oil and the World Economy. Simmons has been writing for the last few years on how the Saudis have over represented their oil reserves.
The biggest worry I have as a result of doing the research on Saudi Arabia's oil is that there is a real risk that they have already exceeded sustainable peak oil production and the longer the produce at current risk the higher the risk that they could start into a production collapse. If that turns out to be true than the odds are 95% that the world has then exceeded sustained peak oil production. What the people that get into the peak oil debate often don't think about is that peak oil is not the maximum amount of oil you could produce in a single day, it's realistically the amount you could produce per day for at least a half decade. Therefore it could already be happening. And we'll never know that until we get better data.

Simmons responds to a recent Washington Post article by Daniel Yergin, of Cambridge Energy Research Associates, who paints a much more rosy picture regarding global oil reserves.

I'm one of three co-authors of an op-ed piece that we have just submitted to The Washington Post that hopefully will get published. What the three of us collectively feel is that it is a very unrealistic assesment, it is not a detailed, bottom up field by field, they ignore by and large depletion issues, and it's based on an enormous belief that technology and enthusiasm and urgency will create new oil supplies. That is precisely the same logic that CERA used very loudly in 2001 and 2002 to dispute the critics views that natural gas in North America was running into trouble. And it took less than 24 months after they had dismissed any problems in natural gas before they made a discovery that we had a natural gas crisis. I think what they're doing being as casual on future oil supplies, let alone predicting we're headed toward another oil glut, is doing the world a great disservice.

On Friday, crude oil prices settled at a new high, $62 a barrel. Next week, oil prices are expected to "…break the all-time record…". Still, it would have to rise to $90 a barrel to equate the inflation adjusted high set in 1980.

5 August 2005

There are billions of people who want your job, and your government is doing all they can to see that you lose it to them

I have written in the past on the industry lobbyist desire to subvert American workers, but in this posting, I wish to share a personal story. It may well result in me not getting the job, but I believe that it's of utmost importance to spill the beans here.

Recently, I've been engaged in negotiations with a large multinational corporation for a job position of critical systems importance. Well, not exactly — it's a post with an "offshore vendor" firm but my candidacy is predicated on past relationships with those still gainfully employed by this company I shall not name. My application, despite strong backing from a cadre of management sources, appears to be in weak status because I am unable to consent to the low salary offered and the offshore vendor is reluctant to deviate from a dictated rate maxim that stipulates a blend of offshore and onshore programmers not exceed a figure set far below the industry average commiserate with such a position.

It's so sad and disheartening to see friends struggle to accomodate such a clusterfuck of organizational vertigo. Many of my former colleagues confess that their primary goal is impending retirement, and only self preservation is paramount. Yet I am a fish swimming in uncertain waters too, all too eager to sacrifice principles for a steady paycheck. I listen to a company offical admit that a big reason he dials my cell phone is the cap on foreign worker visas that has him concerned over support of computer systems he oversees. Then I think of all the young Americans seeking a career in Information technology or those older Americans displaced by the influx of immigrants and offshore workers, and it angers me greatly. Furthermore, my own Senators cherish the unfettered destruction of my profession.

Yet, still, I must read drivel about how our young are unwilling to pursue careers in engineering and science, when it is painfully obvious why this is so. To add another cruel insult, even when displaced engineers and programmers go back to school to get education degrees, they face competition from the recruitment of imported teachers.

Some will say that this is just plain economics, the forces of supply and demand, and affected professionals will have to deal with this reality just like manufacturing workers in the 1980s or that old refrain about horse and buggy drivers. The first half of the assertion is true — all have to play with the cards dealt, and know when to fold and pursue a career in a different field. The last part is pure nonsense, however, as these skilled jobs requiring math and science educational backgrounds are not being rendered obsolete — they are being shifted to foreign centers and/or non-immigrant visa workers. And conceivably, the labor supply in any work discipline could be flooded with enough foreign substitutes to drive wages down to minimum wage levels. Sadly, our government leaders and industry lobbyists support the removal of all caps and restrictions on such corporate behavoir. Is that really good for America, to embrace a nihilist strategy that diverts all of our research and production offshore? All we will end up with are careers in law, sales, marketing, soldiering, and military procurement.