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COMMENTARY: A “Massive Cushion” of Madness – Irina Slav


These translations are done via Google Translate

By Irina Slav

More From Irina Slav

The Cambridge Dictionary defines madness as “stupid or dangerous behaviour”. It also lists a few dozen synonyms, featuring words such as “chaos”, “bedlam”, and “confusion”.

All of these can and should be used to describe several recent updates from Camp Transition. In one of these, I’d go as far as to use the lovely set phrase “stark, raving mad” and it’s not the one you’re thinking of, namely the latest gift from the IEA. But let’s start with that gift.

Earlier this week, the IEA made all the headlines in the world by warning of a looming oil supply excess— a horrible overhang (which the IEA called “a massive cushion”) of 8 million barrels daily that is to materialise before 2030 while demand growth slows down because the IEA said it would slow down, so there can be no question about it.

The IEA itself, true to character, called the expected supply surplus, or rather the spare production capacity surplus, because that’s what it is predicting, “staggering”. It warned OPEC that this would weaken its hold over global prices. And then it went on to arrogantly suggest that “oil companies may want to make sure their business strategies and plans are prepared for the changes taking place.”

Managing to piss off OPEC and U.S. drillers all with the same report is quite an achievement and the IEA rose to the challenge of making it, succeeding in suggesting simultaneously that neither U.S. drillers nor OPEC are capable of strategic thinking or reading the market. But the IEA itself totally knows how to read the market, so it said demand destruction in oil would come from EVs. Yeah, again.

Meanwhile, a Belgian battery material maker inadvertently burst the bubble with a profit warning, citing a “sharp slowdown in the growth of demand for EVs”. The company, which for some reason hates ad blockers with a vengeance, said that “Against the backdrop of a sharp slowdown in the growth of demand for EVs impacting the entire supply chain, customers’ demand projections for Umicore’s battery materials have steeply declined in recent weeks.”

The EU, however, is working hard to reverse this alleged sharp slowdown in its usual manner, which is doing the exact opposite of what it wants to accomplish. In this case, the EU is supporting EVs with additional tariffs on China-made cars. This includes both Chinese EVs and China-made cars by European companies such as Mercedes and Renault.

Now, you might say that the EU simply wants Mercedes and Renault to get their production back home instead of enriching China with taxes. Perhaps that’s what it does want. But it also wants every European of driving age to buy and EV, which means EVs need to be cheap, which means they’re better produced in China, which means that the EU is once again self-sabotaging. Like the boss, nay the emperor, of self-sabotage that it is.

GLJ
ROO.AI Oil and Gas Field Service Software

Tragically, self-sabotage during the next five years may become harder because of the makeup of the new European Parliament. With the Greens losing seats and the evil, far-right populists winning seats, passing anti-carbon legislation won’t be as much of a breeze as it was over the last five years.

By the way, take a second to appreciate the fact that a carbon-based life form is fighting against carbon and calling its dioxide a pollutant. Although some are admitting that — please sit down if you’re standing — “some plants actually benefit from carbon dioxide”. I guess it’s the same way in which some humans actually benefit from breathing, but not all because the air contains carbon dioxide.

That above statement could certainly make the Climate Madness Awards short list but it would have strong competition, from the founder and chief executive of an energy consultancy that used to produce factual data and insightful analysis once upon a time. Now, Rystad Energy, through the mouth of Jarand Rystad, who spent eight years at McKinsey before striking out on his own, claims that Japan can go full-green by 2060 with wind and solar. And some nuclear.

That’s right. Here it is straight from the horse’s mouth. “All Japan needs is to continue installing as much solar as it did in the years before 2020,” Rystad said, going on to declare that with an energy mix of 45% solar, 30% wind, 5% hydro and 5% biomass, plus 15% of nuclear (almost as an afterthought), one of the world’s most overpopulated, most resource poor countries could be green AND energy independent.

They’ll just have to mount the panels on roofs over highways (no, he’s not joking) and over fields, because they “also provide the shade preferred by some types of crops.” Then, they’d only need to add a few giant batteries to back up all that wind and solar, possibly on special structures high in the air because, you know, geographical limits and all that.

“The combination of offshore and onshore wind and solar, geothermal and biomass with solid backup from both battery and pumped hydro, should actually enable Japan to see self-dependency in energy in 40 years, or by 2060 even,” Rystad told Reuters and he smiled happily as he said it.

The reason he smiled happily (there’s a picture, I’m not making this up) is probably the idea that if Japan can do it, then everyone else can do it, too! Of course we can. All it takes is a little will — and a bit of money, probably. The surgical removal of any rudimentary common sense and rationality is also advisable.

Because such a dose of madness may sit heavy on the head, I leave you with some light entertainment, graciously provided by the U.S. House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Administrative State, Regulatory Reform, and Antitrust. The committee this week held a hearing featuring representatives of Calpers, Ceres, and Arjuna Capital who had to answer questions about diversity, equity and inclusion, and about oil. It’s worth watching the full 2.5-hour video but if you want the best oil jokes, they’re at 2:13:00.



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