Peak Oil

Rubin: Peak Oil Will Bring NHL to Hamilton

By Ryan McGreal
Published October 04, 2010

Over the weekend, more than one intrepid reader sent me a link to a recent article in the Edmonton Jounal that's just delightfully appropriate. It starts:

Jeff Rubin says oil will soon return to triple-digit prices per barrel, a Canadian dollar at $1.20 US will give Alberta revenge for the National Energy Program, and National Hockey League teams will return to Winnipeg, Quebec and Hamilton.

Peak oil and sports stadiums and Hamilton? It's a trifecta of win for RTH!

Of course, we've been following Jeff Rubin's energy reports for several years, since he was the head economist at CIBC World Markets. His recent book, Why Your World is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller: Oil and the End of Globalization was the kind of hard-headed economic analysis that cornucopians and oil industry apologists can't just hand-wave away (even if his central analogy seems exactly backward to me).

Rubin argues that it was the $147-a-barrel spike in oil in the summer of 2008 that brought the economy crashing down, and that our economic recovery will soon bring triple-digit oil prices with it. At that oil price, the economic gains from globalization disappear and it starts to make sense to manufacture goods closer to their destination markets.

As he puts it:

Triple-digit oil prices won't only bring back the Winnipeg Jets and the Quebec Nordiques, they'll do something Jim Balsillie could not: they'll bring the Tigers back to Hamilton and the steel industry along with it.

The article concludes:

Triple-digit oil prices will cause the invention of non-carbon forms of energy, but unfortunately our rendezvous with triple-digit oil prices is not in 10 to 15 years, it's in 10 to 15 months.

RTH wrote about this earlier this year. As at this writing, crude is trading just under $82 a barrel.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan writes a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal. Recently, he took the plunge and finally joined Facebook.

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By jason (registered) | Posted October 04, 2010 at 14:32:17

And just think of how easy it will be for all of us to get the games cruising down 5 lane Main Street!

Comment edited by jason on 2010-10-04 13:32:32

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By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted October 04, 2010 at 14:53:58

Peak Oil almost sounds desirable.

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted October 04, 2010 at 15:21:58

Triple-digit oil prices won't only bring back the Winnipeg Jets and the Quebec Nordiques, they'll do something Jim Balsillie could not: they'll bring the Tigers back to Hamilton and the steel industry along with it.

That is a big spoonful of BS to swallow there.

I thought RTH preferred provable facts to hyperbole?

The apparent "can't wait" mentality of this website towards peak oil, is very short sighted. We are woefully unprepared for what Mr. Rubin prophesizes.

Rubin says the big issue is timing.

And if the timing is off you can kiss the middle class goodbye.

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By Centrist (registered) | Posted October 04, 2010 at 15:47:20

All the boosterism in the world won't do for Hamilton what market forces will.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted October 04, 2010 at 20:03:31

The apparent "can't wait" mentality of this website towards peak oil, is very short sighted.

We've been writing about peak oil since early 2005 on RTH (and I've been writing about it since 2004). It's hardly fair to accuse us of being "short sighted" when we've been trying hard to sound the alarm for nearly six years that we're headed for serious trouble. It's been over five years since our special report and we've written a lot more since then.

Also: as far as I can tell, we're already in peak oil. Daily oil production has been stalled at 85 mbpd for the past five straight years. The only reason we're not in triple-digit oil prices today is that demand recovery remains sluggish.

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By allantaylor97 (registered) | Posted October 04, 2010 at 20:07:21

And 10 years from now you'll still be waiting. Sad but true.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted October 04, 2010 at 20:45:09

I remember hearing about the closure of the local Smuckers/Bicks' cannery and thinking "you're gonna regret that decision in a decade". Seriously, if I had to pick a business that's gonna make bank off the shrinking world, it's local canneries.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted October 04, 2010 at 20:46:37

In 1979, world crude oil production "peaked" at 62.67 Mbpd...

http://www.eia.doe.gov/aer/txt/ptb1105.html

It wasn't until 1996, 17 years later and trillions of dollars in new wealth creation, did oil production top that figure.

The lesson here, even if oil production has temporarily peaked, that does not mean greedy humans will not find a way to both create wealth, even while continuing to find new sources of black gold. Peak oil is about politics, not economics.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted October 04, 2010 at 20:49:02

@CaptainKirk

Yeah, it sounds great except for the hyper-expensive food and goods, end of long-distance vacations, and freezing your nipples off every winter. And there's the worry that in the long-term, maybe alternative energy sources just don't produce enough period and the end of oil really means the end of industrial civilization.

I don't want my grandchildren to be peasants.

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted October 05, 2010 at 09:41:00

We've been writing about peak oil since early 2005 on RTH (and I've been writing about it since 2004). It's hardly fair to accuse us of being "short sighted" when we've been trying hard to sound the alarm for nearly six years that we're headed for serious trouble.- Ryan

You are short sighted because you relish the coming of peak oil, seem to be awaiting triple digit fuel prices like a kid waiting for Christmas morning and while you say "we're headed for serious trouble" your enthusiasm for increasing fuel costs makes me wonder if you understand how poorly prepared we are for any of it and the dire consequences that lack of preparation will have. That is why you are being short sighted, it has nothing to do with the timeline of your supposed enlightenment.

Getting the "I told you so" at the current social costs of triple digit fuel seems a little like hubris to me Ryan. It may be a "Win for RTH" but it will be a bloody disaster for society's most vulnerable.

Comment edited by Kiely on 2010-10-05 08:41:39

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By jason (registered) | Posted October 05, 2010 at 09:48:35

with all due respect, RTH isn't hoping for some incredible apocalypse so we can say "told you so". The facts are the facts. It's fine for the mainstream to dismiss Mike Ruppert or Michael Moore, but when major world banks and economists start sounding the alarms, the mainstream has no choice but to listen. Or bury their head in the sand. Take a guess at which approach they are using.

There are plenty of ideas, suggestions and tips in the Peak Oil report to help us manage the peak and move into a sustainable future.

http://www.raisethehammer.org/articles/s...

The fact that policy leaders, media, politicians and business leaders don't give a rip about anything beyond the end of their nose (or bank account) is where the real blame lies for how difficult this transition is going to be. We could have made it a relatively easy transition by unburying our heads and preparing.

More good info here:

http://www.raisethehammer.org/articles/s...

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted October 05, 2010 at 10:07:07

with all due respect, RTH isn't hoping for some incredible apocalypse so we can say "told you so". - Jason

Sorry Jason the tone of the above article with the "Win for RTH" statement and ridiculous "pros of peak oil" quotes - Cool, we'll get a hockey team - have left me feeling otherwise.

You are free to think what you wish though.

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By jason (registered) | Posted October 05, 2010 at 10:13:07

Peak oil and sports stadiums and Hamilton? It's a trifecta of win for RTH!

Ahh, this sentence. I completely missed that when I read the piece. I didn't write the piece but you're right. It does kind of sound like we're all giddy, just waiting for peak oil to crush us.

Truth be told, I've kind of resigned myself to the fact that we will never build proper urban infrastructure such as mass rail, bike lanes, good sidewalks etc.... until oil skyrockets, but I wouldn't say that I'm all excited about the prospects of what it may do to our economy.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted October 05, 2010 at 10:22:22

You are short sighted because you relish the coming of peak oil

I don't relish it in the least, but I do accept the fact that it's here.

I have argued repeatedly in favour of high but stable oil prices at a level that will send strong market signals to shift our investment flows away from inefficient vanity automobiles and toward a more compact, sustainable urban land use and transportation system - without crashing the economy and driving millions of people out of work.

The reason I favour high, stable oil prices is that the only alternative in an energy-constrained economy - high and volatile oil prices - will be immeasurably more disruptive, since it will continually undercut investments into conservation and alternative power generation by triggering market crashes.

the tone of the above article with the "Win for RTH" statement

Well, that's what I get for forgetting that Sarcasm Does Not Work on the Net. I was referring to the confluence of several recent themes on RTH. Mea culpa.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2010-10-05 09:23:33

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By renegauthier (registered) - website | Posted October 05, 2010 at 11:04:38

Oil has never been a boon to anyone but to those who sell it and refine it. It has boosted our currency rate, making it difficult to manufacture products to sell in the global marketplace. And the only way to compete in manufacturing is to do the one thing that our industries are notariously incapable of doing - invest in the plants to increase productivity. Being an oil producing/exporting country only offers benefits to few, while leaving others in the dust. We still have yet to see the true damage made to the environment as the result of activity in the oil sands. So I don't see any benefit from "Peak Oil" coming to any of us.

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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted October 05, 2010 at 11:40:11

Why pile on the folks who are actually trying to warn people about how bad Peak Oil's going to get, when most news media are still in la la land.

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted October 05, 2010 at 12:45:09

How many books do you think Jeff Rubin would have sold if it was titled "The sky is not falling and everything is ok"?

Fearmongering and sensationalism sells.

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted October 05, 2010 at 12:47:33

Jason, you should be the most concerned about "peak oil".

How would you and your parishoners be able to get to your suburban church?

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By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted October 05, 2010 at 14:18:02

More importantly for Hamilton, Rubin states that Peak Oil will keep steel mills in Canada. Please read the thread on Councilor Merulla's motion for US Steel contract negotiations.

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By Shempatolla (registered) - website | Posted October 05, 2010 at 19:34:56

Mr Rubin hardly has a flawless record on predicting trends. Probably why he is the "former" chief economist at CIBC. In fact oil even at the current rate and slightly higer is having an negative effect on the profitability of outsourcing manufacturing to China.

A couple of things are happening. The Chinese have invested in the same manufacturing technology that we have which circumvents their biggest resource. Namely people. They are experiencing mass migrations from rural areas to the cities in search of work that really isn't there. China has an internal economic and social crisis brewing that no one is really paying attention to. Second the burgeoning nuevo riche class in China along with those fortunate enough to find manufacturing employment are not deaf, dumb and blind. They want a bigger piece of the pie. Prices are rising and the margins are getting smaller. Transportation costs for those giant container ships bringing Wal Marts goods to market are starting to get prohibitive.

Mr Rubin is merely putting some sparkle on stuff that most in the know knew already, and it isn't going to take $140 a barrel oil to do it.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted October 06, 2010 at 22:02:41

The main difference with much of China's industrial technology is that it's not quite the same as ours...it's older models - machinery, dies, stamps and other bits which North American plants have cast off. This carries with it some serious environmental issues, since not only the equipment but also what it produces are often a decade or more behind ours (cars for instance).

In general, I'm very sceptical of specific, long-range projections like this. It's like trying to hit a target a mile away with a handgun. Skill can only take you so far - winds do the rest. No matter how good your aim is, there's a whole world of variables you just can't track.

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By Realist (anonymous) | Posted October 07, 2010 at 14:06:49

Well, here we go again, the new urbanist spirituality of eco religion, where the sin is carbon and we must all be saved or face hell. Al Gore has replaced Jesus demanding that we change our ways. In my 40 years of living, I have grown so sick of listening to all the doomsday prophets throughout history demanding that we repent or face a fiery hell. Whether it was the coming ice age, the end of oil, etc. in the '70's, global warming, peak oil, 2012 and every other nutjob on the internet today.

I'll keep driving my V8 and park it in my two car garage in the burbs thank you.

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By arienc (registered) | Posted October 07, 2010 at 16:38:21

Of course with a name like 'realist', there are so many unrealities in your statement I just don't know where to begin.

Firstly, who's even talking about carbon, Al Gore or Jesus on this thread?

Secondly, the only reason it is possible for you to keep driving your V8 and parking it in your two car garage, is that society has been absorbing the external costs of your choice, in the absence of you taking responsibility for the pollution you spew, the health care needs that your car-dominated lifestyle creates, the cost of building and maintaining the road system you drive on, and the cost of maintaining a war machine to keep the oil production in the Middle East flowing your way. You can thank the nutjobs on the internet in advance.

It is continually apalling how so-called "conservatives" who preach the mantra of personal responsibility when it comes to financial matters, can act so liberal and entitled and dismiss responsibility when it comes to their energy use.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted October 07, 2010 at 17:10:47

Ryan >> I don't relish it in the least, but I do accept the fact that it's here.

Let's look at the FACTS. In 1999, world crude oil production was 65.92 Mbpd. In 2009, ten years later, it was 72.26 Mbpd, a jump of 9.6%...

http://www.eia.gov/emeu/aer/pdf/pages/sec11_11.pdf

How can a 10% jump in oil production in one decade be morphed into, "we're running out of oil"? Furthermore, please explain how 17 years of flat oil production, from 1979-1996, occurred and yet oil prices fell and the economy kept on creating wealth?

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By Realist (anonymous) | Posted October 10, 2010 at 02:12:34

To arienc:

blah...blah.blahh

Loosen up man, yer too wound up!

BTW thanks for paying for my cheap gas, socialized healthcare and my roads. Keep the war bodies rolling and the oil flowing baby!

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