Rank the Top 10 Oil Stories of 2007

While I intend to write a post covering the top energy stories of 2007, Platts is asking for reader input on the top oil industry stories of 2007:

The top 10 oil industry stories of 2007

A lot of the listed stories would make both lists. I list my Top 10 below that I submitted to Platts. The first few were easy, but I had a hard time picking between the last three or four.

My top 10 oil industry stories of 2007:

  1. Oil soars, reaches close to $100 for WTI
  2. Spare capacity dwindles, supply/demand balance tightens; Peak Oil theory gets more attention
  3. Climate change rapidly moves up the list of the world's concerns; US Senate votes for mandatory GHG emission limits
  4. OPEC increases production by 500,000 b/d in November, rejects a further increase after that
  5. Weakness in demand in developed countries more than offset by strength in developing nations, like China
  6. Venezuela takes over former foreign-operated fields
  7. Ethanol use soars in the US, but its price plunges
  8. Cost pressures lead to some diverted refinery plans
  9. WTI plunges below Brent in spring on buildup in Cushing inventories
  10. Iraq production slowly begins to recover

I think by far the biggest stories were the supply/demand issues, oil prices, and the fact that the MSM "discovered" Peak Oil in 2007. Ethanol was a big story as well, but I would have put it differently. 2007 was the year that the realization of the downsides of corn ethanol finally reached critical mass. One other thing I think I would have listed among the stories was something around the Congressional hearings, and/or attempts to pass an energy bill.

So, let the debate begin. What else should be on there? What do I have too high? Not high enough?


I noticed no mention of the NPC (National Petroleum Council) report...it was long awaited before it's release, but virtually forgotten after...but I think it may, much like the "Balanced Options" report on natural gas by the NPC done in 2003, turn out to be a turning point in views concerning oil supply.

The other thing I would think about as runner ups are the oil discovries in places once overlooked, deep offshore Brazil and finds (or "rediscoveries would be a better way to say it) in Canada. Just as one would expect, you don't find something until you look for it. Much of the "decline" in oil discovery mirrored exactly an "effort" decline. No one was spending much needed cash in the late 1980's or 1990's looking for oil tha they would be selling for $20 bucks a barrel. Now when they look, yes, they find. If oil holds at $80 or more throughout next year, my guess is continued effort will lead to more and bigger "discoveries". Brazil could turn out to be the new North Sea. Will we use it wisely to bridge to the future, or allow the price to collapse again, and waste it away in one final "carbon luxury bath"?
(Don't dismiss some new major offshore finds off the coast of China. No one will be looking harder for oil than China)


I think the spot shortages in mid-western states deserve a high ranking. Those were the first time recently that people in the USA had to think about empty pumps, a real eye opener.

The hottest paper/news in 2007

1. Peak Oil was 2006 EWG
· Output peaked in 2006 and will fall by several a year
· Decline in gas, coal and uranium also predicted



2. WEAP Paper by Paul Chefurka (1st version)



=> oil export decline nothing to export 2013?!


Hi Robert,

I'd add two stories though perhaps they are for 2008. First, more and more folks are saying that there are 200 billion barrels of oil in place with at least 10% recoverable in the Bakken formation. Second, I think that it is big news that Range Fuels got the go ahead from Georgia to produce ethanol from biomass.


Second, I think that it is big news that Range Fuels got the go ahead from Georgia to produce ethanol from biomass.

As a matter of fact, that story is in my pending list of top energy stories of the year. Perhaps I should open up the debate as well to top energy stories. A number of them will be on the list above: Oil prices, Peak Oil awareness, but then some of the others that I have on my short list - like Range Fuels and the announcement on the Chevy Volt - are not. What do readers consider to be major energy stories for the year?

Thanks, RR

Hi Robert,

I guess I was thinking of liquid fuel news as oil news. I appreciate your distinction though.


China uses 15 mb/day of fuel oil for power generation. Shifting to coal will generate a temporary glut of oil during transition. Will transportation absorb the difference?

Huh? China uses 320,000 b/d of oil for power generation, including 220,000 b/d of fuel oil, and 72,000 b/d of diesel. Transport demand for diesel is 1.2 million b/d and gasoline 1.1 million b/d. Most oil use for power generation is in Guangdong, where coal is most expensive, so there will be no shifting to coal. Where do you get such a figure?

One of the Drumbeaten articles a few days ago listed 15 mbd for "power generation and other non-transportation uses in the developing world". I don't remember the guy's name, but other posters said he had credibility. He was forecasting prices around $65-85, at least for a while, as substitution of those non-transportation uses could allow transportation to continue growing even as total supply flattened.

Perhaps a top 10 story is that the price of oil is likely to drop due to a little known new magnetic energy conversion system called GENIE™: A revolutionary new technology, GENIE (Generating Electricity by Nondestructive Interference of Energy) is being developed at Magnetic Power Inc.

GENIE powered vehicles will:

1. Never require fuel of any kind
2. Help prevent future resource wars
3. Earn substantial cash for their owners
4. Reverse the decline of the auto industry
5. End the need to build more power plants
6. Eliminate concerns regarding fuel mileage
7. Generate new jobs and stimulate the economy
8. Create a powerful weapon against climate change

Oil: In two years there will be a billion automotive vehicles worldwide, without developments such as GENIE triggering ever higher prices for fuel. Biofuels: Some have positive potential, particularly for the inevitable transition period. Hydrogen: Billions in infrastructure are needed for most projected systems, including fuel cells. GENIE: No fuel will ever be required.

Resource Wars
The conflict in Iraq is clearly about oil. Can there be any doubt that nations will fight over shortages of fuel, water and food supplies? GENIE will rapidly cut back the demand for oil or any other fuel. It will also provide the power for inexpensive desalination plants, as well as pipelines to carry fresh water wherever it is needed.

Cars can earn income
Vehicle to grid (V2G) power was demonstrated during April, 2007. A December, 2007 article about V2G states that a hybrid electric car might earn $4,000 each year for the vehicle’s owner, when parked, based on power drawn from the car’s batteries. In the future, GENIE is expected to replace both batteries and car engines as well as provide far greater amounts of electricity. A GENIE generator powering an electric auto might be thought of as a fuel cell that uses magnetism instead of hydrogen. We can easily switch this magnetic cell on or off. When the car is driving the GENIE cell is switched on, providing energy to the electric motor that propels the car. When a V2G vehicle is parked, the electric motor is turned 'off', but the GENIE cell remains "on", still producing energy like a fuel cell that runs on magnetism instead of hydrogen. The electricity produced by the GENIE cell while the motor is off, is transferred from the vehicle to an inductive device requiring no physical connection in the parking space, providing power to the grid. Instead of paying to park, they pay you, because you provide the utility with electricity, a clean alternative to any existing type of power plant. Over a reasonable period of time, payments to the owner may be enough to reimburse the purchase price of a vehicle.

Provide a huge boost to the auto industry
Once cars become available that need no fuel, it is logical to expect manufacturers will sell every such vehicle they make. Plants that have been shut down will reopen. Auto workers who have been laid off will have the opportunity to be rehired. Large numbers of new automotive manufacturing jobs will be created.

No more coal, oil or nuclear plants
Cars are parked about 95% of the time. Once cars are powered by GENIE, a typical urban parking lot could provide several megawatts of electricity. This system can be implemented in substantially less time than constructing a nuclear plant. It will also end the need to build new coal, oil, or other environmentally less desirable (or more costly) power plants.

Fuel mileage concerns will fade away
Cars that need no fuel will end the controversy about average mileage figures. Any car maker producing GENIE powered vehicles, will no longer have to meet that challenge. Congress can then concern itself with other, more important, issues.

Economic stimulus
Concern is rising that the American economy is facing a possible recession. A revolutionary product, as far-reaching as GENIE, has the potential to provide huge numbers of new jobs and opportunities for new enterprise. As an example, consider the modification of existing cars by shops that might become franchises, where the owner drops off a vehicle and drives away in a loaner. A few days later, the customer returns to pick-up their converted, electric car; one that requires no recharge and can sell power to the local utility when parked.

A powerful new weapon to fight Global Warming
Greenland loses more ice each year than all the ice in the Alps. This is scary. Not only in Greenland, but elsewhere there is massive melting of ice. “In 8 years nearly all Peru's glaciers will be gone due to global warming and its 27 million people will nearly all lack fresh water, with the likely result being: 'chaos, conflict and mass migration'. Each 1 degree Celsius global temperature rise deprives between 400 million and 1.7 billion people of sufficient water. “A total of 46 nations and 2.7 billion people are now at high risk of being overwhelmed by armed conflict and war because of climate change”. (Observer UK 11-4-07). More than 180 nations have coastal areas in peril. Included are cities such as New York, London, Miami, Shanghai and Tokyo. Rajendra Pachauri, a scientist who heads the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore, concluded that drastic shifts are happening much more rapidly than earlier predicted. IPCC has stated: “What we do in the next two to three years will determine our future. This is the defining moment.”

The World’s Huge Appetite for Energy
Energy consumption is at the core of human existence. We need to sharply accelerate development of radically new, cost-effective, sustainable alternatives. MPI has explored breakthrough technologies for more than 20 years. To reverse the dangerous trends mentioned above, MPI envisions a technological revolution, developed commercially, that conserves utilization of available planetary resources. GENIE is projected to be easy to manufacture and use, as well as inexpensive, thus capable of rapidly achieving global impact. Yet, very few scientists, engineers or policy makers, understand the reality of this work. A good place to start is the recent book: Zero Point Energy by Thomas F. Valone. The time has clearly come to speed awareness and development of this urgently needed technology.


"eyes roll back"

From www.magneticpowerinc.com:

Magnetic Power Inc. is the commercial affiliate of the non-profit Aesop Institute, established in 1973, and concerned with planetary energy and economic issues, BRIDGEWALK is an overview of The Brooklyn Project, as conceived by Mark Goldes, MPI's CEO.

I call this a perpetuum mobile spam/scam machine.

And I thought all of Aesop's fables had already been written a long time ago...

Please consider its not 1st of April.

Maybe in 100 years.

If I had a dollar for every "zero energy" machine I'd heard of, I'd be a rich man. And I have still never seen a single working device anywhere, just a lot of hype and promises that never come true. Anybody who can show me one will have the pleasure of watching me eat my hat.

Top story?
That's easy: Nov. 2007, with $100 crude did flirt,
And RR almost lose his shirt.

The top non-story: sheeple still don't see the cliff's edge,
loyalty only to britney and lindsey and paris they pledge.

Happy Holidays to all.
And to all an energy efficient New Year.

And to the Crunch that stole Christmas
Two thousand and eight
No derisive laughter
Nor scorneful hate.
For we prayed to our furnaces
And pick up trucks abound
But must now become accustomed to
Our feet upon the ground.

Good list. Bubbling under:

- EWG oil & gas studies get published and get attention
- food vs fuel fight (cereals vs ethanol) gets press via corn, soy and other prices in MSM
- Iran is not attacked and goes off dollar and on rationing
- ELM gets recognition in NYT
- MSM run articles dancing around (WSJ), attacking (NYT) or directly addressing PO (The Independent)
- Biofuels are no panacea (via IEA and others)
- Iraq was about oil - high level admissions from both US and Australia
- more big name players join the chorus: peak or a crunch at the very least is near (IEA, Schlesinger, de Margerie, Al-Huseini, Groppe, etc)

A breakthrough year in many ways for recognition, but we are still not _there_ yet.

am i missing something here ? http://www.rigzone.com/news/article.asp?a_id=53844
rigzone reported on monday that opec production for november was up 40k bpd.

Hi Robert,

For myself, a top oil story of 2007 has to be the Tupi discovery by Petrobras.


While considered 'big', it suggests that big discoveries are not, and will not be, really big compared to, say, a Ghawar, Burgan, or Cantarell.

It also suggests that 'big' discoveries are, and will be, very technologically challenging and expensive to exploit.

This is what the World, and the oil industry, have to look forward to. A 'sea change.'

And all other top oil industry stories are and will be really 'downstream' from discovery stories like this.

I actually had that in the top 5 on my list, but somehow left it off when I was sorting the list. It should have been there, but I hadn't noticed that it wasn't until you mentioned it.

Well, Iran did give up trading oil in dollars, but we'll have to see if other nations follow - and if China offloads its huge dollar reserve - the dollar is going down one way or another...

Can someone explain me what is the difference between Brent crude price and Crude price on Nymex - and the West Texas one on BBC commodities page ... ? In the past I have noted that Brent is always at least two or more dollars cheaper then West Texas one - now suddenly the difference has all but dissapeared?

They're all different types of 'standardized' oil formulations (with different API) and produced in different regions.

Brent derivatives come from North Sea (UK / Norway). A lot of the oil from Europe, Africa and ME is priced relative to it.

WTI is as the name supplies, the basis price for crude in North America and Nymex oil futures are priced using WTI as a benchmark.

In addition there is Dubai Crude, in which much of the Persian Gulf crude gets priced at (relatively).

During 2007 there was a breakdown in the historical trend of WTI setting the ceiling of price for crudes.

Oxford energy institute has written a short comment on this:


Experts here can correct any mistakes I may have made above.

I voted for the Alberta Royalty changes as one of the top three stories, not because the changes themselves as announced were earth-shattering. But rather, this was a signal that a new Global Oil Minister is now appearing on the stage--the Premier of Alberta. And regardless of whether it's Stelmach, or someone else, the ability of future Alberta Premiers to affect the oil price at the margin is huge. People who try to come at such developments, however, in a linear way never seem to understand that markets are deeply, deeply affected at the margin. And sustainably affected. The supposed geniuses at Strafor (Just another clown operation in the US, sucked on by the clueless on the street) totally missed for 3 years the significance of MEND in the Nigerian Delta. MEND clearly figured out 2+ years ago what the elite and educated could not: and that is in a tight global market, you can shake the bones of the oil price from a gunboat. So if MEND can do it, and Putin can do it, why not Alberta? The answer is clear: they are doing it.

In 2004 this young, educated woman from ESAI ( http://www.esai.com/index.asp ) in Boston named Sarah Emerson would trot out everyday on Bloomberg TV and CNBC, and she would guffaw, smirk, and become exasperated by the idea that oil could go above 40.00 just because Putin was attacking Yukos. "We just think that is a ridiculous idea." Of course, the market, in its collective wisdom knew exactly what was coming: resource nationalism, and priced the imprisonment of Khodorkovsy appropriately.

BTW, Sarah is still plying her clownish, clueless trade at ESAI, having blocked from her vision the pathetic record that trails along behind her.

She is not alone.

This is how bull markets are built, and sustained, however. With scores of highly educated people telling themselves, "But the Alberta Oil Sands only make up X % of total supply so therefore...."


I responded with a list very similar to yours, Robert. As for other stories, I added "The extraordinary analysis of Saudi Arabia's Ghawar oil field by Stuart Staniford et al at The Oil Drum."

To this day, I regard that piece of work with awe and feel the better for having taken the time to read it.

I have to think a top oil story for 2007 has to be one that just came out today:

BBC is reporting that Iraqi oil output is now above 2003 levels at 2.3 million barrels per day.

Will it hold?

This is a region that has been underproducing for nearly a decade.

Interestingly, given other declines that appear to be happening in non-OPEC nations, the resurgence of Iraqi oil may allow us to continue the plateau for a few more years.

summary: plateau continues, disasters avoided

It seems that Russia ought to be in the top-10, specifically for ushering in a new phase for petro-nationalism and Big Oil, getting the companies to concede their new place as mere contractors for the NOCs. The news peg is Gazprom getting Total and Statoil to develop the giant Shtokman natural gas field for it.

Steve LeVine, author
The Oil and the Glory

Something to do with heavy oil seems appropriate, since it's moving forward like a freight train -- heavy oil resources accounts for more than twice the amount of conventional reserves, so likely, in the future we'll look back and see 2007 as an important year when the heavy oil industry really got going.

An angle would be either the development of a new extraction technology -- Imperial Oil reported new usage of hydrocardon solvents with high success, also there was successful testing of in situ combustion technology for underground heavy oil development. http://www.heavyoilinfo.com/feature_items/thai

For my money, the top revelation of 2008 was the extraordinary change of attitude from the IEA about future oil production, which seemed to correspond with the change in leadership from Mandil to Birol. They went very quickly from "nothing to see here people, move along" to "Houston, we have a problem." (I heard at Houston ASPO that this had something to do with Simmons et. al. educating Birol before he had a chance to be brainwashed by TPTB.)

That, and the NPC report, and the radical price spike in crude.

I think this was the most important event in 2007