[Marxism] After the oil is gone

Carlos A. Rivera cerejota at optonline.net
Sun May 15 00:03:19 MDT 2005

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "rrubinelli" <rrubinelli at earthlink.net>

> But....Mark Jones's analysis is interesting because it is radically
> unMarxist, locating the critical fracture not in a conflict between
> means and relations of production, not between output and profit, but in
> eternal immutable geology.

Actually, as a lurker, I remeber having a completely different impression on 
Mark Jones' writting. I was actually impressed by his synthesis of both the 
social and the geological. Then again that was some years ago, and as a 
lurker, not someone who followed the group completely.

> OK, fair enough, but geology leaves a whole  host of questions
> unanswered...like how come prices react to an event 20, 30 years in the
> future, when markets are functioning precisely to apportion profits here
> and now?

Actually, most of OPEC is reaching peak within 10 years, most of it within 5 
years, even by conservative estimates (some of the more radical estimates 
have Indonesia already being a net consumer, and all of OPEC peaking in 5). 
So the market is reacting to solid data from E&D failures in the short term.

> Or why didn't they react 20 years ago to the event that is
> happening right now?

Actually, Toyota built its current market dominance in the USA precisely on 
this. Or you believe the oil crisis was all a towelhead sand nigger 
conspiracy? It was a crisis fuled much more by trying to make more profit 
out of fast depleting resources than a willful and unecessary cut in offer, 
as the USA's reactionaries argue(d).

Venezuela and the USA, two name just to major oil producers, went past their 
peaks in the 1970s.

> Like how can we go from over-supply to shortage
> overnight?

China started consuming big time, some other stuff too, but that is the main 
factor. Effectively China is cutting into the USA's share of oil, hence 
driving prices up well beyond predicted levels.

I think no one in the USA actually belived that china was going to drink up 
so much so fast.

> Like how come the latest concern is the overproduction of
> LNG due to the coming online of processing plants in Qatar (see WSJ of
> 0513) when the hydrocarbon scarcity theorists have been warning about
> the depletion of gas supplies.

LNG consumption is nowhere near crude oil consumption, hence it is easy to 
affect the offer/demand in terms of speculative markets (ie futures) with 
relatively little additional offerings. In other words, it is a short-term, 
profit driven concern, not a long term, strategic concern.

>Darwin, unlike Hubbert and the Hubbertists, did NOT make any social
>determinations from his study of natural science.

That was Engel's job.

In a sense, Mark Jones tried to do to Hubbert what Engel's did to Darwin, 
and was largely successful.

> As the head of the Colorado School of Mines' Hubbert Center wrote: "Oil
> companies don't have the slightest interest in producing oil.  Their
> concern is making money."

I fail to see how this contradicts Mark Jones.

> Follow the cash.

Well, a cursory, superficial obidience of your Marxist Highness Executive 
Order shows that accross the board, oil compaines have turned themselves 
into energy companies, and are increasing their focus on making money not by 
selling hydrocarbons, but selling energy (and plastics) regardless of 
source. In the last ten years, besides the huge amount of mergers and 
takeovers, these companies have divest from E&D and into R&D, mainly into 
plastic recycling and "alternative" energy.

This trend first became visible in the early 2000s.

For example:

Friday, 15 June, 2001
Shell explores alternative energy

BP (formerly British Petroleum) went as far as to change its name and image.

And the propossals and discusions current oil companies are having are very 
interesting and all are profit driven (duh). Yet all accept that we are 
about to reach a global peak in oil production.

Things such as converting off-shore oil platforms into wind farms and 
integrated, onsite, industrial plastic recycling are the new revenue streams 
these companies a heding their futures on. Not E&D and oil exploitation. 
Now, if major oil companies are slowly divesting from oil, it makes you 
wonder why. And the only compelling theory out there is peak oil production.

American oil companies are the last to catch on. Many in their boards don't 
believe oil is getting depleted, and believe things such as drilling in 
Alaskan wildlife refuges will take care of the problem. Of course, most of 
this people being essentially second or third generation daddy's boys, much 
like Dubya, and their brains are uncapable of seeing the writting on the 
wall, they have no strategic profit outlook. I mean, this is the same people 
who want to destroy the single most powerful asset the USA has had as an 
imperial power, which is the middle class.

I think you are generally correct in your assertions regarding a marxist 
economic perspective. Yet I think you detract from the argument by having a 
fetish on "Hubbert and the Hubbertists" and their specific approach to the 
question of peak oil. Much like any self-respecting evolutionist today 
doesn't follow Darwin to the letter (ie the late Stephen Jay Gould) you 
don't have to be a Hubbertist to realize that oil is becoming depleted.


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