OPEC threatens biofuels surge.

Opec has warned western countries that their efforts to develop biofuels as an alternative energy source to combat climate change risks driving the price of oil “through the roof”.

Abdalla El-Badri, secretary-general of OPEC, said it was considering cutting its investment in new oil production in response to moves by the developed world to use more biofuels. His comments mark the first clear threat that the cartel might act to safeguard its interests in the face of a shift towards biofuels.

Mr El-Badri warned that biofuel production could prove unsustainable in the medium term as it competed with food supplies. Biofuels are one reason retail food prices are now heading for their biggest annual increase in about 30 years.

More ….

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8 Responses to OPEC threatens biofuels surge.

  1. Dave On Fire says:

    Indeed, the push for biofuels and consequent increase in demand for farmland is bad news all around. Aside from the very laudable fuels-from-wastes projects, biofuel will only add to the problem of unsustainable intensive farming. In theory, it could be the perfect renewable, but only within a fair and sustainable agriculture industry – something we are a long way from acheiving. I certainly don’t think it’s something that should be subsidised, especially when there are so many other avenues to explore.

    (Speaking of which, what’s the Coffee House take on this? I’m tempted to be dismissive, but as far as I can tell the energy source is indeed there and the environmental impacts would be minimal.)

    Not that OPEC are anything but money-grabbing bullies, of course, and although resentment of their oil-igarchy can promote investment in alternative fuels, their self-serving policies make a long-term strategy for moving away from oil all the more difficult.

  2. matt says:

    Hi earthpal

    It’s scary how some parts of the world never ever have peace. Now biofuels are steeped in blood as well, joining the black stuff. Thanks for the link.

    Hi Dave

    Thanks for your link too. I’ll leave the experts to work out the feasibility of such a (potential) renewable technology or rather, the Californian venture capitalists. The only issue I see is the transportation of the energy back to earth. Microwave beam? You can visualize it now can’t you; News item: ‘Jet stream power station beam knocked off course by solar wind surge. Beam knocked off course fries Wall Street in flash fire.’ 🙂

    Bush today, at G8 media chat with Merkel, said very clearly that the US is driven to find alternative energy resources to reasons of energy security. So it seems the ground is set for practically anything to be at least looks at (ie. research monies found and spent on further feasibility studies).

    The ‘new world’ is very good at thinking outside the box when it comes to technologies. Energy security and the 9/11 factor seem to have spurred this on even more so.

    Hey, that’s two new things I’ve learnt today. One good, one bad. So I’m still in a state of perfect harmony. 🙂 Thanks folks!

  3. matt says:

    My detailed reply to the two oh you wonderful researchers never arrived at wordpress.com

    Thanks for pointing out the blood biofuels link earthpal. Why can’t some parts of the world just be given peace, room to breathe, laugh and play?

    Dave, looks like an interesting idea but unsure about the method(s) of feeding the energy back to planet earth. Guess the experts and the money men will figure it out! Great to see so many ideas flying around isn’t it, literally!

  4. matt says:

    Hi earthpal & Dave

    This comment box hasn’t been allowing me to comment for the last 15 hours …. very annoying & odd! Apologies for the delay.

    Thank you both for your links. Two things I’ve learnt as a result.

    1. Some countries or areas of the world seem destined for continuous violence. Peace seems impossible. Corruption and guns seem to produce the potent mix. Biofuels in Columbia seem to have got mixed up in this.

    2. The world of energy is a fascinating place right now for inventors, engineers, scientists and venture capitalists. All sorts of frontiers are opening up. This as we know has been kick started by climate science and concerns over fossil fuel emissions. Added to that is the concern for politicians over energy security, which is now the catalyst for driving more serious research for tapping into alternative energy sources.

    I can’t see anything wrong with tapping into the earth’s high winds. However I do see it being difficult to bring that energy back to earth. Let the experts play with it and see where it takes them!

  5. Dave On Fire says:

    Well, corruption and guns with a big helping hand from everyone’s favourite imperialists. From the article linked by earthpal:

    Under its Plan Colombia project, Washington has funnelled more than $5bn (£2.5bn) in mostly military aid to its South American ally since 2000 – its biggest aid project outside Afghanistan and the Middle East.

    This is part of the so-called ‘war on drugs’. The U.S., like most countries, has an incoherent and irresponsible policy on drugs, used more often as a short-term political tool than as part of any long-term geopolitical ‘strategy’. Are we really capable believing that this is considered worthy of the biggest aid project outside Afghanistan and the Middle East? I think not.
    But drugs aren’t entirely a red herring in understanding this story. “Don’t blame biofuel!” says the first commenter, and while I am as sceptical of biofuels as the next man here I have to agree. “Four years ago [when] Colombia didn’t produce a litre of biofuel,” it was hardly a social-democratic paradise; as the article notes, the violence has been going on for decades. Paramilitaries were already killing, kidnapping, and seizing land before biofuels. What’s changed is that where the most profitable use of that land was cocaine production, now demand for biofuels allows other viable ways of making profit.

  6. the Grit says:

    Hi Matt & all,

    Not to fear! The US has already started to take action in this area. Our Congress is in the process of passing legislation to allow our Government to sue OPEC over this very thing. Thus, in ten years, 20 at the most, our court system will have it all straightened out 🙂

    the Grit

  7. matt says:

    That’s incredibly reassuring Gritty old boy.

    Your US Navy guys could take a leaf outta Sadamn’s koran and torch some of the Saudi oil wells. I mean, it wouldn’t make a hell of a lot of sense but it’ll sure look good. And those Saudis you Americans love so much would sure as hell get the message that you big American boys ain’t that happy. 🙂

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