jueves, julio 10, 2008

¿Cómo vivir después del fin del petróleo?

National Geographic publicó este número sobre el fin del petróleo barato en junio de 2004.

Lifeaftertheoilcrash puede ser un gran primer paso para entender la magnitud de la crisis que apenas inicia. Su lema me gusta: Lidie con la realidad, o la realidad lidiará con usted. Copio un fragmento:

If you want to know the truth about the future of oil, simply look at the actions of the oil industry. As a recent article in M.I.T.'s Technology Review points out:

If the actions - rather than the words - of the oil business's major players provide the best gauge of how they see the future, then ponder the following. Crude oil prices have doubled since 2001, but oil companies have increased their budgets for exploring new oil fields by only a small fraction. Likewise, U.S. refineries are working close to capacity, yet no new refinery has been constructed since 1976. And oil tankers are fully booked, but outdated ships are being decommissioned faster than new ones are being built. Source

Some people believe that no new refineries have been built due to the efforts of environmentalists. This belief is silly when one considers how much money and political influence the oil industry has compared to the environmental movement. Do you really think Ronald Reagan and George H. Bush were going to let a bunch of pesky environmentalists get in the way of oil refineries being built if the oil companies had really wanted to build them?

The real reason no new refineries have been built for almost 30 years is simple: any oil company that wants to stay profitable isn't going to invest in new refineries when they know there is going to be less and less oil to refine.

In addition to lowering their investments in oil exploration and refinery expansion, oil companies have been merging as though the industry is living on borrowed time:

December 1998: BP and Amoco merge;

April 1999:
BP-Amoco and Arco agree to merge;

December 1999: Exxon and Mobil merge;

October 2000: Chevron and Texaco agree to merge;

November 2001: Phillips and Conoco agree to merge;

September 2002: Shell acquires Penzoil-Quaker State;

February 2003: Frontier Oil and Holly agree to merge;

March 2004: Marathon acquires 40% of Ashland;

April 2004: Westport Resources acquires Kerr-McGee;

July 2004: Analysts suggest BP and Shell merge;

April 2005: Chevron-Texaco and Unocal merge;

June 2005: Royal Dutch and Shell merge;

July 2005: China begins trying to acquire Unocal

June 2006: Andarko proposes buying Kerr McGee

July 2007: BP-Shell "Mega Merger" rumored

While many people believe talk of a global oil shortage is simply a conspiracy by "Big Oil" to drive up the prices and create "artificial scarcity," the rash of mergers listed above tells a different story. Mergers and acquisitions are the corporate world's version of cannibalism. When any industry begins to contract/collapse, the larger and more powerful companies will cannibalize/seize the assets of the smaller, weaker companies.

(Note: for recent examples of this phenomenon outside the oil industry, see the airline and automobile industries.)

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