Gas Trap

I’ll use this tweet to kick off a post about associated gas:


When you produce crude oil through a well, it’s not just oil that comes up. You also get mud, water, gas, and certain nasty substances. The water is called “produced water” for obvious reasons, and the gas “associated gas”. This means it is associated with oil production, which distinguishes if from a field which is developed purely for its gas reserves (in which case it’s called unassociated gas).

The problem of what to do with associated gas is one that has plagued the oil industry since its founding. Produced water can be treated and put back into the sea or a water course, but you can’t do that with gas. Until a decade or two ago, oil companies would simply burn it off, which is why old pictures of oilfields showed enormous flares lighting up the entire region twenty four hours a day. This pumped some pretty nasty substances into the local environment, but important people only really got concerned when global warming came along and they started looking at how much CO2 was produced by this practice. So what is known as “operational flaring” got severely restricted or banned in most places. The tweet above is referring to the ongoing practice of operational flaring in the Permian basin, the home of the US shale revolution.

One small point before we continue: you still see flares on modern oil and gas facilities because they are part of the process safety system. If you have a problem on your plant, the option of last resort is to dump all your inventory to the flare and let it burn. It’s not good, but better than blowing up the whole plant, taking the neighbouring town with it. So this is why you still see a small, lazy flare burning at the top of a stack in a refinery: it’s burning fuel gas, just to keep it lit for when it’s needed. This is completely different from operational flaring.

So if you can’t flare the associated gas, you have two options. You can reinject it into the reservoir, either to increase reservoir pressure to aid production or just to stop it being emitted to the atmosphere. If that’s not possible either because the reservoir engineers will get upset or, in the case of shale, there is no reservoir, the other option is to monetise it somehow (which might be attractive even if you can reinject it). In many developments, this means running a pipeline to an existing gas plant. If your oilfield is close to other developments, this is often possible. LNG isn’t really an option with associated gas, but you might be able to build a gas plant providing power to local homes and businesses if there is a population centre nearby. Another option is an LPG plant where the gas gets treated and bottled and then trucked to a nearby population centre. I’ve heard of oil companies talking about giving away gas stoves to locals in order to create a market for LPG, but I’m not sure if it was ever done.

The problem comes when none of these options are feasible. I’ve been involved in lots of new development studies at the preliminary stages and the question always arises: what do we do with the gas? One project was in Kurdistan, miles from anywhere. The intention was to produce crude, store it in those huge tanks you see beside refineries, and then pipe it to a refinery or terminal somewhere or offload it into trucks. But we didn’t know what to do with the gas, and there was a lot of it. We couldn’t reinject it, and there was no population centre nearby. We then discovered the gas was full of nasty substances so when we crunched the numbers we’d find we’d be spending X of CAPEX to produce oil and 2X processing the associated gas, and then not knowing what to do with it. So the project got binned: too expensive.

This is why they still allow operational flaring in the Permian basin. It’s not good for the environment, but if it were banned there would be no shale revolution, the oil price would still be above a $100 per barrel, and I might still have a career. One option, and I don’t know how feasible this is without looking at the area in question, would be for the government to provide incentives to all players to build a central gas processing facility which could take all the associated gas and do something with it. But that might face all sorts of regulatory hurdles, let alone the pipelines associated with such a scheme. So they’re stuck between a rock and hard place: force them to dispose of the gas or charge them for emissions, and you’d kill the industry and America’s new-found energy independence. I expect we’ll see several battles played out over this issue in the years to come.

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Unoriginal Sin

Regular readers will know I like to draw comparisons between environmentalism and the traditional religions that modern societies abandoned:

I mentioned climate change because this seems to be the aspect of modern politics in supposedly secular countries which most closely resembles a religion. Once again, we have the sacred texts, the high priests, the apostates, punishment of unbelievers, calls for sacrifices, and indoctrination all wrapped up in a great moral crusade stretching beyond our lifetimes that secures the blind faith of the followers. It makes me laugh when I hear atheists refer to “Science!” when talking about climate change: these people are no more able to challenge the pronouncements of the scientists, whose words have been filtered through the media and politicians, than a medieval peasant was able to challenge the high priests’ interpretations of sacred texts. They are as much wedded to faith as their devout ancestors, but they don’t realise it.

In support of this theory I present a chap on Sky talking about original sin:


Let the self-flagellation begin!

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Greens too white

This has all the hallmarks of a shakedown:

The mother of Ella Kissi-Debrah – the nine-year-old girl whose fatal asthma attack may have been linked to illegal levels of pollution – has said there is a lack of representation in climate activism.

People living in parts of London with high proportions of black, mixed or other ethnic groups are disproportionately affected by air pollution compared to those in areas with a high proportion of white people, according to research by the Mayor of London.

In the days of industrialised cities it was true that the poor neighbourhoods were situated downwind of the factories so their air quality was noticeably worse, but today? The pollution in London (and I suspect most modern cities) comes from vehicle exhausts and domestic and commercial boilers (.pdf); what’s the mechanism by which this worsens air quality in boroughs with lots of ethnic minorities?

Yet people from BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) backgrounds are often invisible in climate protest, says Rosamund Kissi-Debrah – who is due to speak at the World Health Organization on Monday.

That’s because it’s predominantly a western, white, middle class female movement which ropes in a lot of hen-pecked husbands and their idiotic Millennial offspring. You might as well complain Chinese are invisible at cricket matches and there are no Indian women at bluegrass jam sessions.

Ms Kissi-Debrah, who lost her daughter in 2013, says black or ethnic minority people care about climate change as much as other groups.

Either this is untrue, or the palefaces erect a phalanx around climate change protests to keep out the swarthy hordes demanding to take part.

Echoing Ms Kissi-Debrah’s comment is Professor Akwugo Emejulu – a sociology lecturer at the University of Warwick specialising in women of colour’s activism in Europe.

A professional race-baiter, in other words.

She says the main reason for what she sees as their lack of representation in activism lies in some of the tactics used by action groups, such as Extinction Rebellion.

That group that popped up out of nowhere a month or so back?

One of the strategies adopted by Extinction Rebellion during their 10-day demonstration in April was to get as many activists as possible arrested.

Prof Emejulu says some black campaigners are put off this approach because they fear violence and hostility from the police.

Because it’s impossible to campaign against climate change without being arrested. It’s either Extinction Rebellion and jail, or nothing.

Samantha Moyo is the coordinator for Extinction Rebellion Together – a section within the group that provides training on diversity.

Meaning the group accepts people from Eton and Harrow.

She says it took a lot of effort to overcome her fear of police when joining protest campaigns.

“I don’t know what it is about being black that makes you feel scared around police,” she said.

Their general incompetence?

“I’ve always got a feeling of, ‘they’re going to get me – out of everyone here, they’re going to come for me’.”

And have they? Or is this just paranoid delusion (or flat out lying) on your part?

Ms Moyo says she only felt safe from police at the latest protests because she was “holding hands with a fellow protester, who was white”.

As the great Chris Rock said, “get a white friend”.

She says police could help to reduce the fear sometimes felt by people of colour if they behaved in a more approachable way.

“Something as simple as a smile. Or maybe something like a declaration from a police department, saying: ‘We admit this has been a problem’, that would be quite healing.

I take it this diversity and policing expert has never seen the MacPherson report.

“Or even allowing or creating spaces for people who are traumatised by police to share their stories.

Have you tried blogger.com?

A lot of people of colour are traumatised.”

Two of them being your parents upon reading this article, I expect.

Kids of Colour – a platform for young ethnic minority people to explore identity and “challenge institutional racism” – says climate protests do not always allow for the realities they face.

To be fair, climate protests are pretty divorced from reality full stop.

School students around the world recently went on strike to demand action on climate change, but some at Kids of Colour question how inclusive the protests were.

Greta Thunberg did look a bit white supremacist-y, didn’t she?

“The school strikes have been fantastic to witness, but it is also a privilege to be able to skip school,” says one representative.

“Many young people of colour feel a pressure to succeed in education because society does not work in their favour.”

If your complaint is that only the spoiled brat offspring of wealthy parents get to flunk school with no consequences, I’m right behind you. But I’m not sure this has a whole lot to do with race.

Economic inequality can be another barrier for people of ethnic and minority backgrounds who are affected by climate change, says Ms Kissi-Debrah.

“Can you imagine giving up 10 days [of work] to sit in central London? It is absolutely not feasible for those in low-paid jobs.

Or any job.

“I’m not saying everyone in Extinction Rebellion is in a privileged situation, but a lot of them were in jobs that make it easier for them to take time off work.”

Such as in academia, NGOs, and the public sector.

The Wretched of the Earth, which describes itself as “a collective of grassroots indigenous, black, brown and diaspora groups”, wrote an open letter to Extinction Rebellion asking the group to rethink its tactics.

Environmentalists often warn that climate change will result in bitter wars over limited resources. What they fail to appreciate is the climate change movement has delivered much the same thing by itself.

While commending Extinction Rebellion’s successes, the letter said ethnic and minority voices were missing from the movement and need to be included early on, in order to effectively challenge systems upholding “racism, sexism and classism”.

To think, this article began with a little girl dying of asthma.

Referencing Miss Thunberg’s “house on fire” analogy, the group said: “Our communities have been on fire for a long time and these flames are fanned by our exclusion and silencing.”

How dare they attack an autistic schoolgirl!

People from BAME backgrounds need to be taken into consideration from the very start, says Prof Emejulu.

Especially when handing out money, power, and privilege.

“It’s not about organising in your own terms and then trying to draw people in. You have to be embedded in the communities with the people that are affected by this.

We can’t be bothered organising ourselves, so we demand you include us in your own activities right from the start.

“It’s also about democracy – if democracy isn’t reflected in your activism then that’s a problem.”

Democracy in this case meaning random, race-hustling outsiders get to tell you what to do.

Ms Moyo says Extinction Rebellion is working on taking action to ensure that people of colour are not being left out.

By including their parents’ housekeepers on the roster?

“I’m excited about what we’re doing,” she says, “because we’ll be raising awareness and providing training around racism, colonialism, systemic trauma and other important issues.”

With a pink yacht on Oxford street.

Greens of Colour is part of the Green Party, aiming to represent BAME members. And Friends of the Earth (FoE) has also acknowledged there is a problem with diversity in climate debates.

How diverse are the donors, I wonder?

In particular, says an FoE spokeswoman, groups need to be better at recruitment and “bringing people in that the sector hasn’t done very much to interest”.

Sane people?

FoE now gives potential supporters a variety of ways to join and tries to make sure they see their experiences reflected in campaigns.

A campaign against polar bear extinction from the perspective of a middle class race-hustler from London would be worth watching, I feel.

The spokeswoman adds: “But we own that we have a long way to go.”

And you always will, because it will never be enough. For my part, I’m delighted by this development: the more these idiotic progressives fight among each other, the better. More please, and faster.

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Never burst, buckled, or bent

The other day I received a PR email from a company based in Aberdeen which:

is aiming to significantly reduce the environmental impact caused by the oil and gas industry, by offering a new sustainable solution with the refurbishment and reuse of decommissioned subsea equipment and component parts.

This immediately struck me as a venture started by people who think sustainability is a product in itself.

Presently, the industry recycles as much of its subsea equipment as possible once it has no further need for them.

Meaning, they take it off the sea floor and sell it for scrap.

Instead of the traditional recycling process, Legasea takes the subsea production equipment from decommissioned fields and reuses as many parts as possible following a rigorous refurbishment process at its base

Here’s where I think the problem is. Despite the enormous cost of subsea equipment creating a massive industry, there’s not actually a lot of it made. Industry efforts to standardise subsea Xmas trees for example ran into the problem that at the height of the boom only about 150 were installed in a year. A couple of years ago it was in single figures. This is not the sort of mass-volume industry which lends itself to standardisation, and the potential savings not enough to persuade oil companies to abandon their own standards in favour of a common industry-wide design. In other words, these pieces of equipment are bespoke and have to be ultra-reliable, hence they’re very expensive. This isn’t the sort of kit which lends itself to using secondhand parts to reduce costs, and even if it were, how many units do these guys think they’ll be selling each year?

This leads to huge cost and lead time savings for clients and results in saving obsolete components, such as many types of subsea electrical connectors and hydraulic couplings making them available for reuse on producing fields.

The long lead times are due to oil companies demanding bespoke units. If they were willing to be flexible on that score they’d have agreed to a standard design and be buying brand new, off-the-shelf kit. But they haven’t, so they will still want bespoke designs and I suspect the long lead times are down to design and approvals rather than an availability of the parts this company is refurbishing. And what percentage savings will they make using refurbished parts instead of new? I can’t see many engineers in an oil company signing off on using refurbished parts for a piece of kit which will sit at the bottom of the sea for twenty years unless the cost savings really are substantial.

A common occurrence in many other industries, this repurposing of subsea parts helps to preserve vital resources for continued use and reduces the environmental impact of the oil and gas companies themselves.

Preserve vital resources? Such as? And it is debatable whether refurbishing these parts with all the material and manpower involved will use fewer resources than just producing them from new.

Co-founded by Lewis Sim (Managing Director) and Ray Milne (Operations Director), the Legasea team has been joined by team members Chris Howley (Service Technician), Graham Petrie (Projects Manager) and Chris Moffat (QHSE Manager).

So you’ve got your overheads sorted, then. How many units will they be refurbishing each month, do you think?

“We offer an alternative route for unwanted and recovered subsea production systems and will take liability and ownership for the equipment; making it safe, clean and disassembling it to its component parts. Reusable parts will then be used to fulfil the demand for urgent remanufacturing and spares when crucial production is at risk during routine preventative maintenance or when an unforeseen failure is encountered subsea.”

Okay, the business model might work if they’re providing urgently-required spare parts, but how many emergencies are they expecting each year? And I’d be interested to know just how much liability they’re willing to take on. One component failure and they could be on the hook for millions within an hour.

Hey, I wish them well and I’m just some bloke on a computer, but if I’m gonna get unsolicited PR emails I feel I’m entitled to look at them critically.

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Holy Wars

A few weeks ago a mate asked me if I thought the climate change hysteria would begin to die down as skepticism increases and the alarmists’ predictions fail to materialise. The infantile reaction to Greta Thunberg’s nonsense aside, I think environmentalists are already forging ahead with Plan B:

Today, it has become clear that plastic is having a devastating effect not only on wildlife but on ourselves. It is now polluting every corner of our planet. I have seen first-hand, how it is choking our oceans and rivers.

It entangles animals with lethal effect. It causes perforated stomachs and starvation. Mammals, birds, fish and marine invertebrates – over 180 different species in all – have been identified accidentally eating it.

But the impact on humans is less well known. Now a report published jointly by the conservation organisation Fauna & Flora International and others highlights for the first time the effect of plastic waste on the health of the world’s poorest people.

It shows that 400,000 to one million people are dying every year as a result of mismanaged waste. If the upper end of this estimate is correct, then one person is dying every 30 seconds as a consequence of this dreadful pollution.

In the space of about three years plastic in the ocean has gone from something fringe campaigners banged on about to being ubiquitous in media, politics, and business. Barely a day goes by without somebody reminding us how much plastic is in the ocean and how terrible it is (although never actually admitting where it comes from).

As always, the proposed solutions are bans, restrictions, and higher prices imposed by central government following an increase in power, money, and privilege for politicians and environmental campaigners. Nobody considers more practical solutions (such as proper landfill whose CO2 emissions are captured), just as those claiming climate change is an imminent, existential threat refuse to endorse nuclear power. The plastic issue is cloaked in the language of morality whereby plastic is bad because it’s artificial but clearing the rainforest to grow plant-based alternatives is good. Whereas climate change was a political movement which became a quasi-religious one, the war on plastic is a spiritual campaign in which wealthy, middle-class mothers seek to capture politics in order to advance their cause. You’ll notice that of all the plastic items deemed unnecessary by our moral superiors, women’s cosmetic products never make the list. Nor do disposable nappies. If you were to get accurate data on how many men are really on board with environmentalism, organic produce, and bans on junk food compared with those who just wearily go along with whatever their partner deems important, I’d guess the latter outnumber the former ten to one.

So while I don’t think the climate change hysteria will die down, I reckon it my lose prominence to moral crusades such as the war on plastic. Climate change was always political, a route to power for authoritarians who found socialism no longer an option due to the collapse of the Soviet Union. But as western societies scrabbled around for something to fill the vacuum left by the departure of Christianity, it took on a religious bent. Now that seed has been planted we’re seeing cults forming for whom politics is the means to their spiritual ends. They’re already calling for the customary dietary restrictions. I expect what we’ll see is new cults springing up – indeed, identity politics probably already qualifies, perhaps third-wave feminism too – and fight among one another for state recognition, support, and resources. Meanwhile normal people will think they’re in the middle of a Third Great Awakening, dominated by box-wine suburban housewives, corporate power skirts with a repeat prescription for Prozac, children in Ralph Lauren jumpers with double-barreled surnames, and twenty-eight year olds who still live with their parents because they don’t like the idea of being on a cleaning roster.

It’s going to be fun, isn’t it?

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Division

A couple of years ago I wrote a post which began as follows:

Pope Francis was greeted by crowds of hundreds of thousands as he made saints of two shepherd children at the Fatima shrine complex in Portugal.

Shepherd children?

It is 100 years since the two – and a third child – reported seeing the Virgin Mary while tending sheep.

The traditional skepticism of adults listening to tales of what children saw must have been set aside that day.

Two of the children – Jacinta and Francisco Marto – have been canonised for the miracles attributed to them. They died in the 1918-1919 European influenza pandemic.

I’m way outside my area of expertise here, but I thought saints had to perform miracles, not merely have visions.

The so-called three secrets of Fatima were written down by their cousin, Lucia dos Santos, who died in 2005 aged 97.

So we’re going off a secondhand account of what two kids say they saw?

They are prophecies written down by Lucia, years after the apparitions that the three said they had witnessed.

This is not helping.

This isn’t the only case like it. Reader Michael van der Riet emails me with the story of Bernadette Soubirous:

Soubirous was a sickly child and possibly due to this only measured 4 ft.7in. tall. She contracted cholera as a toddler and suffered severe asthma for the rest of her life.

Soubirous learned very little French, only studying French in school after age 13 due to being frequently ill and a poor learner. She could read and write very little due to her frequent illness.

So not the sharpest tool in the shed, then.

On 11 February 1858, Soubirous, then aged 14, was out gathering firewood with her sister Toinette and a friend near the grotto of Massabielle (Tuta de Massavielha) when she experienced her first vision. While the other girls crossed the little stream in front of the grotto and walked on, Soubirous stayed behind, looking for a place to cross where she wouldn’t get her stockings wet. She finally sat down to take her shoes off in order to cross the water and was lowering her stocking when she heard the sound of rushing wind, but nothing moved. A wild rose in a natural niche in the grotto, however, did move. From the niche, or rather the dark alcove behind it, “came a dazzling light, and a white figure”. This was the first of 18 visions of what she referred to as aquero (pronounced [aˈk(e)ɾɔ]), GasconOccitan for “that”. In later testimony, she called it “a small young lady” (uo petito damizelo). Her sister and her friend stated that they had seen nothing.

On 14 February, after Sunday Mass, Soubirous, with her sister Marie and some other girls, returned to the grotto. Soubirous knelt down immediately, saying she saw the apparition again and falling into a trance.[citation needed] When one of the girls threw holy water at the niche and another threw a rock from above that shattered on the ground, the apparition disappeared. On her next visit, 18 February, Soubirous said that “the vision” asked her to return to the grotto every day for a fortnight.

I expect many religions have children – always simple children and in many instances those who, if born in the modern era, would take the short bus to school – who claimed to experience visions and were venerated by adults and later sanctified by the prevailing holy order. I write about this now because:

According to her mother Malena Ernman (48), 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg can see CO2 with the naked eye. She writes that in the book ‘Scenes from the heart. Our life for the climate’, which she wrote with her family.
Greta was diagnosed as a child with obsessive-compulsive disorder and Asperger’s syndrome, just like her younger sister Beata. The activist also has a photographic memory. She knows all the capitals by heart and can list all the chemical elements of the periodic table within one minute. In addition, she has another gift according to her mother. “Greta is able to see what other people cannot see,” writes Malena Ernman in the book. “She can see carbon dioxide with the naked eye. She sees how it flows out of chimneys and changes the atmosphere in a landfill.”

I’ve said many times that environmentalism has replaced Christianity in the post-religious developed world. With its high priests, disciples, holy scriptures, heretics, and prophecies of doom it’s all there. Now it has its oddball children with holy visions. How long before it has its first saint?

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Sums of a Preacher Man

Yesterday I went to a startup hub – basically a building where budding entrepreneurs pay low rent to work and hang out – to watch about eight presentations by people looking for investment. Each entrepreneur had 6 minutes to make their pitch and a further 4 to answer questions, so it was a bit like Dragon’s Den only instead of multi-millionaire dragons they had a gaggle of students, professors, mates, and folk who came along for the free craft beer.

The first thing I noticed was out of the 70-odd people there, only two were in a suit and tie: me and one of my professors. The rest looked to have come from an office job where they don’t meet outsiders, or straight from the pub downstairs. Those pitching for investment – from between 100k-300k euros, so not trivial sums – dressed as though that’s where they were headed immediately afterwards. I watched a lot of episodes of Dragon’s Den, and one of the things which drove Peter Jones nuts was people wandering out in jeans and a t-shirt and asking him for a million quid. I raised this afterwards with a couple of people and was told young people just don’t dress up like that any more. Which I am sure is true, but do the young people get any investors to part with their cash? Last night they didn’t appear to have anyone reaching for their wallets, even to pay for drinks.

Their disheveled looks probably weren’t the main problem, though. That would be their general business sense and their ideas of how to make money. It took me two pitches to spot the problem. Climate change, environmentalism, and sustainability nowadays seemingly infests every area of business life, and nobody seems capable of shutting up about it. If someone is trying to sell you coffee, they speak for ten seconds about the quality of the coffee and for ten minutes on how much they care for the environment. Decades of incessant brainwashing has worked well, and environmentalism truly is the new religion. There are a couple of problems with this, however. Firstly, it assumes that their entire customer base consists of the western middle-classes who are rich and woke enough to run around fretting about a dolphin they saw on TV offshore Bora Bora with a biro stuck up its nostril. While the number of customers eagerly checking the fine print on the back of the packet to make sure there were no orangutans killed in the making of this particular batch of organic, freshly-squeezed kumquat juice is undoubtedly growing, most people still just want a cheap product that works and doesn’t contain arsenic. And there is a big difference between not wanting to turn pristine nature into Norilsk and worrying about whether a product’s carbon footprint is a little too large. Most customers are in the former category, whereas the latter are a wealthy niche.

Secondly, it assumes environmentalism is an end it itself, and not just another trade off between competing resources. Remember this post I wrote about reusable carrier bags, where I referenced a Danish study which showed they were worse for the environment that single-use bags? As I said at the time, very few people, particularly the dim middle classes who campaign for environmental legislation, understand that recycling is an industrial process like any other only with different inputs. So a lot of these business ideas I heard yesterday took an existing process:

Production  – Use – Landfill or Incineration

and turned it into:

Production – Use – Recycle – Production

And assumed that simply because it’s being recycled it must by definition be good for the environment. But this is only true if the resources consumed during the recycling are less than those consumed making the stuff using fresh inputs, and that the pollution generated during recycling is less than using a landfill or an incinerator. Otherwise, by definition, they’re making things worse. Did I see any such calculation and comparison? Did I hell. No, the assumption was that recycling must always by definition be better for the environment.

Several of the business ideas involved a recycling process which involved driving around collecting tens of thousands of objects, transporting them back to what can only be described as a large industrial facility guzzling power, water, and other raw materials. The objects are then processed using chemicals and a sizeable amount of human capital, with each person having to somehow get to work everyday. Nobody seemed to have understood the impact this will have on the environmental calculation, let alone the economics of the whole thing. It was just presented as “Recycling! Sustainable! Yay!”

So what we were dealing with wasn’t businessmen but ideologues. It looked more like a hippy commune than a startup incubator. At half-time a chap came on stage and said the world is headed for catastrophe if we don’t stop using resources at the current rate, because we’ll simply run out. That basic economics would tell us otherwise went unmentioned, as did the old trope that the stone age didn’t end because we ran out of stone. He said their task was to persuade everyone “we need to change our lives and our behaviours”, which sounded a lot more like the basis of an evangelical religion than a business. Maybe that explains the frequent appeal for angel investors? He then said the plan was to approach big business and persuade them of this need to change, and to embrace environmentalism and sustainability. At this point I wondered where he’d been living the past fifteen years. Since I have been working, big business has fully embraced environmentalism and sustainability, that’s all they go on about. They have whole departments devoted to haranguing their employees to turn off the lights, reduce emissions, cut down on waste, and spend millions on PR showing everyone how green they are. What does this chap think he’s going to find in a major corporation, top-hatted men opening oil wells into rivers for just for fun?

And that’s the problem. These lot were supposed to be startups promoting new business ideas, but instead they were selling old political ideology. The product was environmentalism, their business just the vehicle it was riding on. It probably wouldn’t surprise you that I later learned this startup hub received a chunk of its funding from the government. In other words, it’s another lefty middle class racket. Did I mention my wallet stayed in my pocket all evening?

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Burning Ban

Reader Fay sends me a link to this article:

A standoff with the federal government is putting the future of Burning Man at risk.

The problems started when the event’s organizer, Burning Man Project, applied for a permit from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to hold the event in northern Nevada’s Black Rock Desert for another 10 years.

Then the BLM responded.

The agency, which is part of the Interior Department and manages public lands, issued a draft of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) required for the permit on March 15.

BLM wants 10 miles of concrete barriers installed on the event’s perimeter for security, a requirement that organizers install dumpsters and hire companies to haul out the trash and authorities in place to conduct vehicle searches at the gate.

Okay, so:

The decision didn’t sit well with Burners.

“Many of the measures recommended by BLM are unreasonable, untenable, attempt to solve problems that don’t exist, and/or create new (and worse) problems,” Burning Man Project wrote in a fact-checking statement.

“Altogether, these requirements would fundamentally change the operational integrity and cultural fabric of Black Rock City, and would spell the end of the event as we know it,” the group added. “This is not an exaggeration.”

The irony is that attendees of Burning Man are overwhelmingly drawn from the faux artsy middle classes in Brooklyn and west coast weirdos. Both sets overwhelmingly vote for massive increases in government power, particularly in the name of protecting the environment via mass-regulation. If you want to do so much as fart in New York or California you need permission from the government. Did they think they’d be exempt because they’re holding a mass orgy in the desert? Heh.

It’s been around for nearly three decades, but the last few years have seen an influx of hipsters and tech moguls and their followers, which have made the event a cultural phenomenon or target, depending on who is opining.

Just the sort of people who want to ban fossil fuels, shut down factories, and block pipelines.

But central to the ethos of the week is sense of self-governance, which is why the new government proposals are particularly grating.

Yes, the people who demand massive government in everyone’s lives believe their own events should be self-governing.

The government also has concerns about lights being used at night, including large work lights, high-intensity lasers and search lights, which BLM said can disrupt birds and other wildlife, and contribute to light pollution. As a result, the potential to ban or curtail some of the lighting is on the table.

Expanding the unchecked powers of the environmental agencies during the Obama administration isn’t looking so great now is it, Swampy?

Burning Man Project isn’t having it.

We’ll see.

Back on Earth, Burning Man has a robust nightlife…

That’s one way to describe it, yes.

Organizers also call the idea of vehicle searches at the gate “unconstitional” and unnecessary.

New Yorkers and Californians are now fans of the constitution? I look forward to their wholehearted embrace of the Second Amendment.

“For many years, BRC has published and widely publicized a list of prohibited items that are not allowed into Black Rock City, including weapons, narcotics and fireworks. We enforce these restrictions when items are discovered in vehicles during entry,” Burning Man Project said.

Ah yes, the famously drug-free Burning Man experience, matched only by sober St. Patrick’s Day.

What’s amusing is the current generation of Burners are complaining this will fundamentally change the nature of Burning Man, which has already gone through at least two evolutions leaving it unrecognisable from the early years. In those days guns used to be a big part of the festival, and they even had a drive-by shooting range. As with Glastonbury, the spoiled middle classes who now attend Burning Man think they’re cut from the same cloth as the misfits who started the thing. Their whining about government regulations they’re happy to foist on everyone else is a strong sign that they’re not.

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Greta Morozov

Last week a bunch of posh kids held a demonstration in London under the banner of an organisation calling itself Extinction Rebellion. Their aims are drearily predictable: obtaining political power for themselves to enact sweeping, authoritarian economic and social policies under the pretence of environmental concern. In other words they’re just another unit off an ageing production line, about as unique as a Michelin tyre but not half as interesting.

The demonstration and other stunts caused severe disruption to people trying to go about their daily lives, which the participants justified by saying everyone needs to be made aware of climate change. Several people complained the police just stood idly by and allowed public roads to be blocked, and asked whether Brexit demonstrators would be afforded the same courtesy. The answer of course is no, because Extinction Rebellion demonstrates in support of the establishment viewpoint whereas a Brexit protest would run in precisely the opposite direction. The police are hardly going to be ordered to beat up a bunch of floppy-haired teenagers who want the government to have more power, no matter how annoying they are. Extinction Rebellion’s actions are about as subversive as the May Day parades in the former Soviet Union.

In case we hadn’t been patronised by spoiled teenagers quite enough, British parliamentarians invited an odd-looking sixteen year old Swedish schoolgirl dressed up to look about ten to lecture us on how bad we are:

Teenage activist Greta Thunberg has described the UK’s response to climate change as “beyond absurd”.

In a speech to MPs, the Swedish 16-year-old criticised the UK for supporting new exploitation of fossil fuels and exaggerating cuts to carbon emissions.

She was invited to Westminster after inspiring the school climate strikes movement.

There’s a lot to say here, and I’ll say it.

Firstly, there’s a good reason why political campaigners have chosen an autistic child as their front: it makes people reluctant to criticise her. As the past couple of days have shown, anyone challenging her scripted nonsense is shouted down for being mean to a child with mental problems. Whoever put her up to this – and it seems to be her parents – ought to be ashamed of themselves. It is bordering on child abuse.

Secondly, any adult who takes their political lead from a sixteen year old ought to quit whatever they’re doing and seek help. Similarly, adults who find a teenager manipulated into regurgitating boilerplate climate hysteria “inspiring” are probably those who think their own brat’s spelling test results are newsworthy. Politicians are a little different in that they like her for the same reason they support Extinction Rebellion: she is arguing in favour of their being given more powers. Just as young Pavel Morozov‘s narcissism served the interests of Soviet politicians, so this child’s serves the interests of ours.

Thirdly, what she’s actually saying is emotive, irrational nonsense. The UK, and the west in general, has not “done nothing” about climate change, and her predictions for the future ought to have interested a child psychologist long before now. Not a single person has challenged her on this. And if leaving a ticking time bomb for children is a concern, how come her focus is not on the national debt? Realistically, what is likely to be the larger handicap we’re passing down to future generations: a one and a half degree temperature rise or tens of thousands of dollars in debt hung around the neck of every newborn baby? We’re stealing children’s futures all right, but not by driving cars.

Fourthly, her supporters say she is doing valuable work in raising awareness of climate change. They’ve offered the same excuse on behalf of Extinction Rebellion, only I can’t think of a single issue given more prominence in my lifetime. Every aspect of our society and culture, every corporation, every government, every event and every activity comes with some reference or other to climate change. It even has its own UN agency. It’s as ubiquitous as a state religion, and we are constantly lectured on the subject from the moment we wake up to the moment we go to sleep, seven days a week with no break even for Christmas. Saying British people need more awareness of climate change is like saying North Koreans need more awareness of the Kim family. We are plenty aware, we just don’t agree sweeping authoritarian socialism is the answer, and sticking teenagers in front of us who look as though they wandered off the set of Deliverance and got lost isn’t going to persuade us any.

Finally, this whole circus is merely a symptom of the political malaise which infests the UK and wider developed world. As with the treachery and incompetence over Brexit, I am reluctant to place the blame for Greta Thunberg’s being permitted to address parliament wholly on the politicians responsible for it; they are merely the representatives of a ruling class who are as incompetent as they are corrupt as they are immoral, backed by a section of the population born into circumstances which never required them to acquire self-awareness or make difficult decisions. This Swedish brat demanding we pay her attention and organise our nation’s affairs in a way which meets her approval is one thing. That our politicians, media, and substantial numbers of adults at large in our society see fit to accommodate her is something else. Serious countries would not involve teenagers in the setting of public policy, especially foreign ones. Serious countries would never find themselves even being asked to.

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Global Witness Tampering

This morning I received an email from an outfit called Global Witness. Let’s take a look:

All of the $4.9 trillion the oil and gas industry is forecast to spend on exploration and extraction from new fields over the next decade is incompatible with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C goal, according to new analysis by Global Witness.

All of it? I confess, when the signing of the Paris Agreement was being celebrated by world leaders, I didn’t realise it meant an immediate and total halt on global oil and gas exploration and production. You’d have thought someone might have mentioned it.

The report, Overexposed, published today, is the first to compare the latest 1.5°C climate scenarios used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change with industry forecasts for production and investment. It finds that any oil and gas production from fields not yet in production or development would exceed what climate scenarios indicate could be extracted and burned while still limiting warming to 1.5°C.

I’d love to see the equation they’ve used to derive global temperature changes from oil and gas production figures. Sadly, the link to their methodology (.pdf) doesn’t include it, or any explanation of how they’ve arrived at this conclusion.

ExxonMobil is forecast to spend the most in new fields over the next decade, followed by Shell. Together with Chevron, Total and BP these five oil and gas majors are set to spend over $550 billion on exploring and extracting oil and gas that is not aligned with the world’s climate goals.

Next up: Toyota stubbornly making cars while world demands jet packs.

“There is an alarming gap between the plans of oil and gas majors and what the latest science shows is needed to avoid the most catastrophic and unpredictable climate breakdown” said Murray Worthy, Senior Campaigner at Global Witness and author of the report.

Meaning, there is an alarming gap between oil and gas demand as expressed by its users and the quantity Murray Worthy thinks they should be using.

“Investors will rightly be concerned that despite industry rhetoric to the contrary, the oil and gas sector’s spending plans are so drastically incompatible with limiting climate change. This analysis should encourage the escalation of investor engagement efforts to challenge oil and gas majors to credibly align their business plans with the Paris goal. Blindly pushing ahead comes with huge financial risks for investors, either as a result of the transition to a low carbon economy, or as the devastating consequences of a changing climate stack up.”

That’s a matter for investors, is it not? I hardly think investors in the oil and gas industry are so dumb as to not be aware of two or three decades of climate hysteria. I expect a good few are piling in on the basis that if the likes of Global Witness get their way, there will be a severe shortage of oil and gas supplies in future allowing them to make hay. No, what Murray Worthy is saying is he disapproves politically of how investors are spending their money, but dresses his words up as concern for their welfare.

Global Witness’ report finds it is only possible to claim this investment is compatible with the Paris climate goals by using scenarios that assume massive carbon capture and removal will take place in the future. This is despite the fact that these technologies remain unproven at scale.

Which is pretty apt, given the technologies which will render oil and gas production unnecessary are also unproven at scale.

The industry is at a crucial turning point; capital investment has fallen by over a third since 2014, largely due to a slump in oil prices. Yet, investment is forecast to rise by over 85% over the next decade, reaching over $1 trillion a year. Two thirds of this is set to take place in new fields.

It’s almost as if investors don’t take you seriously, isn’t it? Now why could that be?

Major capex projects in new fields that are due to be approved over the next decade include US domestic shale expansion, the Vaca Muerta shale in Argentina, the Kashagan oil field in Kazakhstan and the Yamal megaproject in Russia.

The Kashagan field went into production in 2013; I expect he’s talking about the expansion project, which doesn’t make it a new field. Vaca Muerta has been in production since 2011, and I expect he’s also talking about expansion projects. He’s on slightly firmer ground regarding Yamal; production on the Yamal peninsula started in 2017, but the project I think he’s talking about – the development of the Kharasaveyskoye field – is yet to go ahead. However, that’s a Gazprom project, so nothing to do with the majors listed in the article. It’s therefore not surprising Global Witness and those with real money at stake are not on the same page here, is it?

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