Oil Storm - the good and bad news

A quick note after watching the movie, and for those who are curious a couple of references. The movie begins with a hurricane taking out Port Fourchon , a major entry point for oil into the United States. That is feasible, as is the short term result of losing the supplies that flow through there from the deep waters of the Gulf, as well as the connection to the deep water mooring points of the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (Loop),
"the first and only offshore terminal in the United States."
Note however that the Port merely facilitates the transfer of the crude from there to a distribution network that carries it to refineries elsewhere. There is also a comment on the website.
Analysts predict that losing access to Port Fourchon could choke our national energy supply, sending gas prices to over $3 per gallon. Since that is what happens.
Now after this the movie goes into a bit of fantasy, necessary of course to make it exciting but in error otherwise. I did think it interesting to hear "the nation can only be calmed by the Government" and then watch it remain in a state of close to panic. There is, of course, also a hero, who has to save the supply twice in nine months.

And this is where the movie breaks down. It is never clear what it is that causes the total of the initial shortage – if it is the loss of the LOOP that does not affect the importing of oil – this 1 mbd is still coming it just has to be landed elsewhere, the only other loss would be the loss of the deep water oil, but most of that comes from elsewhere in the Gulf though some of the 300,000 bd could be lost. That would be recovered by the imposition of the 50 mph driving speed limit.

One must then assume that the crisis gets worse with the loss of the Saudi refinery. Well so far you have heard the good news, now the not so good. While the US only gets 1.6 mbd from Saudi Arabia there is relatively little that they can do to increase the supply short term and certainly not by 1 mbd. Ras Tanura has been discussed as a terror target in The Economist , which also has a Saudi map, and The Guardian and a description of the port facilities can be found here and it should be noted that the oil loading platforms are offshore. Yes they have a 1 mbd reserve but it is from the Manifa oilfield and that is not currently refinable. As a result it is almost impossible for initial rescue to come from Saudi Arabia, though the loss of 2 mbd on top of some of the Gulf oil would definitely have a serious impact on the economy. And in the same vein is the likelihood of the final Russian rescue, which I dealt with (unknowingly) in the last post.

All in all, it would have been a lot more interesting if some of the Government decisions could have been explained and the actual shortages reported, rather than just seeing the price of gas going up. And there is a lot more resilience in parts of the economy than they showed.

Sadly we will see oil at $75 a barrel soon, and probably $4 gas, but without the easy solution they ultimately found, which is just not going to happen.
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You know the routine--first they ignore you, then they make fun of you, then they make really shlocky TV movies about you...

Seriously, even with the monumental problems in this crappy movie, if it gets people thinking about oil and energy issues, I won't complain too much.

Neither will I, but don't hold your breath.

Oil Storm just finished its debut out here on the West Coast

There was no character development.
You really did not connect much with the gas station owners who lost their son to an oil war or the farmer's family who was on the verge of losing their farm. The frozen dead mother in Boston was a little more touching.

This movie is too easy to criticize. It's almost like a set up for making fun of oil nuts.

This is the first desensitization wave from MSM... It was supposed to be schlocky and full of holes, so that PO nuts can be easily labeled cranks.

Most disturbing was the fact that even after all of these disasters, deaths and hardships, people went back to business as usual. The only thing learned was that driving SUV's was bad - they felt guilty for wasting that oil. And their solution was to stabilize supply with non-OPEC oil, and to focus on more domestic oil production.

This just proves that the MSM do not understand the issue, and that most people cannot fathom the magnitude of the changes coming in the next 50 years.

Independently, I came to the same conclusions as "J". The movie co-opts the peak oil issue; then it ends with the government making it all right in a few months - just a scary interlude.

Just waking up ...

The thing that struck me, as it began, was how we (humans? Americans?) use disaster movies to process our fears. We've done it with earthquakes, high-rise fires, asteroids ... and that wasn't even thinking hard.

This one, as a way to process oil fears, was ... mostly bad. It tells people that "A Series of Unfortunate Events" (to borrow from another movie) is needed to bring $4, $5, $7 gas.

A whole lot was missing (J's list is good), but I think it was time pressure. It seemed like even sentences were cut off as they tried to squeeze their story into the time slot.

next time ... a miniseries ;-), complete with "peak oil" and "environmental" characters!

Having sat thru the movie, I might take a bit of a contrary position. I suppose that it might make people complacent about peak oil, but on the other hand it showed that even if there is enough oil in the ground somewhere (which appeared to be one of the assumptions) that the delivery chain is pretty well exposed to disruptions. If enough people buy into that you get them to the same place as buying into peak oil (we've got to do something).

As far as the happy deus-ex-machina ending in the last ten minutes, this was FX, (meaning Fox), after all. That was probably dictated from the start. They at least made it so bogus that it was unbelievable.

Does any one know who the authors (script writers) and directors for the movie were?

Some of the underlying "mixed messages" in the movie have a bad smell to them.

1) "Food [is] not oil!" (and which is more important?)
2) Faith in Jesus will carry us through these hard times
3) The commies (Russia-China) and the Saudi's are behind this fake oil shortage thing so they can make more money --remember that real pictures of Putin and the Saudi royal family were flashed, but no pictures of Dubbya and Uncle Dick
4) My daughter, the almost medical doctor, gets to inheret the wealth of my freeze-preserved apartment
5) Brother who died for oil was a "hero" to the end
6) ....

Can any one think of any more "mixed messages" buried in the movie?
Were these intentional?

All I can say is "drivel," "pablum," and "two thumbs down." I was pretty disappointed in it too.

pretty pitiful. I will post more upon my return to the homestead at some point in the next couple of days, I'm sure...

(I'll be lucky if this post goes through, I am at my parents on dialup!)

step -

I think you are simply seeing a typical TV movie written by a group of writers trying to push every button they can to connect with audience.

Token faith message, bad evil Russkies and Arabs, token frozen old person, extolling the heroic dead son, farmers on parade ala FarmAid... you will note that there was not really much of anything new in the way of the populace response. No WTO angry youth, for instance, though they did use the footage. No real view of what would truly happen in suburbia, where the average grocery store has 2 days of food on-hand. The trucking strike would have brought riots within a few days, and SHUT DOWN our consumer-only economy. Sure, scabs would have taken the jobs for less money, which is why striking would probably not be successful over weeks of time. But hollywood writers were going for "Joe SixPack" mentality here. Yet even they don't understand the food issue they pretend to push.

I just think they used the same hooks for audience they have always relied on. Even the format was "War of the Worlds" on TV, and not by any means something new. I wouldn't give them credit for trying to push any agenda except profit.

Now Fox, controlling the final edit and the direction of the piece, is definitely trying to down play PO, IMHO.

And if Fox is trying to downplay PO, then what do the PTB gain by it?

Follow the money....


It actually exceeded my expectations. If nothing else, it showed how vulnerable we are to supply disruptions, and provided a taste (however incomplete, misguided, etc.) of what could happen in such a case.

I think you have to grade low-budget made-for-tv movies on a sliding scale. Compared to typical tv crap, I'd give it a B, maybe even a B+.

From the Energy Bulletin http://energybulletin.net/6574.html

When former Vice President Al Gore gave a long list of doom-and-gloom statistics Saturday about global warming -- warning people that rising sea levels could drown out parts of Florida, Louisiana and Manhattan -- there were no loud gasps or headshakes of disbelief from a roomful of Bay Area environmentalists.

Reader Jason writes:

"After the talk, an audience member asked him about Peak Oil. He admitted, point-blank, the reality of peak oil, and that we are on the peak now! This is the highest level US politician to do so that I'm aware (maybe the only other than Bartlett?"

I have to agree with Tim and JLA. The movie was better than I expected (although I didn't expect much). Maybe a few who watched will begin to think about our economy's dangerous vulnerability to supply disruptions and make them more open to the PO scenario in the bargain. (Although I admit, the movie left the impression that we just have to convince the Saudis or the Russians to turn up the faucet and we can continue our profligate lifestyles.) And maybe a few who watched will begin to question whether our addiction to cheap ME oil is worth the price in blood and treasure – in the movie the dead soldier may have been regarded as a "hero to the end", but his death was in vain since the terrorists blew up the refinery and disrupted supply anyway. Filling up our SUVs will require a lot more dead sons and daughters. If it gets the heretofore oblivious to begin to think about these things, then it's worthwhile.

According to imdb.com, James Erskine was director and co-writer. The lone comment is as follows:

I may have given this supposed "film' a bit more credence. Had anyone from the US, or anyone in the US, had a guiding hand in it.

The Director, James Erskine and Co-Wrier, Caroline Levy's resumes read solidly UK. Who have taken upon themselves to create a liberal, elitist Wet Dream of impending, inescapable Third World Status.

With very little of substance, reality or credibility. Wrapped in a preponderance of film clips, sound bites, "interviews" and poorly executed hand held "riot" shots.

"Oil Storm" is the UK's distant No-Budget third cousin to the equally ridiculous "The Day After Tomorrow".

If the far righties hate it that much it may have been better than I thought.

one word, Tim...


Thanks for the imdb link.
It has piled up 20 comments so far.


None mention Peak Oil.
Some see it as an anti-Bush piece or an environmentalist fruitcake piece.
Interesting how many of the critics instantly go into denial mode.

IMHO it makes The Day After Tomorrow look like Oscar material. Then again, it's all about how big of a budget the director has to work with. Who knows? Maybe Erskine did well given the budget he was on. Weren't those storm footages from last year's Florida storms? They looked awfully familiar.

P.S. Correction.
Went back & re-read. Some of the imbd comments do mention PO

I think J is right, in that this movie is an example of the general crappiness of the medium and not any nefarious intent.

But look at the opportunity this gives us--write letters to the editors, people. Tell everyone where the movie got it wrong, and use that as a wedge to tell them what's really going on. If we sit around here flapping our gums at each other, that does no good--we all know this movie was a crapfest, so no one here is learning anything. We need to get the word out about what's really going on and what not to believe in this movie to those people who don't read this site.

OK - it looks like everybody agrees this flick was a crap sandwich, but it does make for a conversation starter with the uninitiated.

The imdb comments were starkly illustrative of several points; democrats hating republicans and republicans hating democrats (what a colossal waste of time), lack of understanding about the fragility of our oil supply, and the fact that everybody knows that Hollywood is out of fresh ideas - that's why the creative types leave after they make a buck.

I don't know that the movie did much but it does give us an opener to lay out the facts.

I have heard from military friends that something big is in the offing. Two deployed on carriers to the Taiwan area, another deployed to Japan area, and several bomber pilots off the reservation in the next few days.

Anybody got any dirt?

I thought a few things didn't make sense.

Ironically, reducing America's ability to import oil (due to the destroyed facilities at Port Fourchon and later Houston) would *reduce* not increase world demand for oil. Gasoline refineries sitting idle increases demand and price for gasoline but reduces demand and price for oil.

Now, later in the story when the terrorists blow up the Saudi facilities, that would drive oil prices up worldwide. But initially the movie was wrong to show the damage to American ports as making oil prices rise.

I also thought the trucker protest was confused. They were upset by the 50 MPH limit. But driving slower actually lowers their costs and saves them money. As long as all of their competitors are forced to obey the same laws, the individual truckers and trucking companies wouldn't be hurt by these changes, in fact they would be helped by them. It's actually a protectionist measure that helps the trucking industry against cutthroat competition.

Another thing missing was increased demand for high mileage vehicles. There was much discussion of SUVs going begging and Hummers being discontinued, but nothing about hybrids becoming the new standard. In general there was no attempt to discuss alternative fuels, acceleration of bring diesel hybrids to the market, farmers switching to biofuel crops, or any of the other kinds of creative responses we would actually see to a disruption.

People don't just sit there and cry like this movie showed. They get off their butts and try to make things better. Entrepreneurs step in to try to make a buck off the new opportunities. Not everything will work but at least people will be trying. The movie seemed to prefer showing a helpless, passive America, able to do nothing but beg tearfully for oil from other countries.

There is this
MORE than 1,500 personnel from the Singapore Armed Forces and the US Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard, are taking part in the annual two week long Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) bilateral exercise.

While the exercise will focus on conventional maritime warfare capabilities in the areas of anti-air warfare, anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, maritime air operations, diving and salvage operations, and logistics support. Singapore and US warships will also participate in maritime security exercises such as vessel boarding and small boat interception.

Thanks HO.

I have also heard that some strategic bombers have had their duty switched AWAY from the middle east area...

Has anybody heard any rumblings about something happening on or around the 20th this month?

The CARAT exercise is an annual event that happens in Southeast and East Asia. Absolutely nothing unusual about it, so I seriously doubt that anything is in the offing there. Besides, if everybody here is right about Peak Oil, the administration will be trying as hard as possible to avoid doing anything that will tie up military forces in east Asia (where there is little oil) and will concentrate on Southwest Asia (i.e., the Persian Gulf). The situation in Iran still bears watching.

Given how tied-down the U.S. military is in Iraq, what a convulsion an attack on Iran would send through the world economy, plus how much more formidable an opponent Iran would be compared to an Iraq that was strangled by sanctions for over a decade, I think it would be insanely stupid for the U.S. to start anything.

But then again, I thought Bush wouldn't attack Iraq in 2003--I expected him to saber-rattle and get Saddam Hussein to let in inspectors. So what the hell do I know?

The area that has me most concerned is China and Taiwan. With China having a financial gun to the U.S.'s head (all those U.S. Treasury securities), they just might be tempted to try to take Taiwan by force and use their leverage to keep us out of it. I sure as hell hope they don't try something that risky, but I think this is one of those sooner or later deals, and the timing depends on China's perception of picking the optimal moment.)

Re. saber-rattling, that was excatly my hope. Semi off topic, but if you believe this report, Bush/Bolton, actually went so far as to throw a monkey-wrench into the UN inspection:

"The diplomat’s sin? He was “trying to send chemical weapons inspectors to Baghdad. That might have helped defuse the crisis over alleged Iraqi weapons and undermined a U.S. rationale for war.”"


(I guess it relates to oil supply)