Rank the Top 10 Oil Stories of 2008

Although lately I find myself struggling to find enough time to write, one of the stories I hope to write is a post covering the top energy stories of 2008. Around that theme, Platts just put up a request for reader input on the top oil industry stories of 2008. Their poll runs until Christmas:

Rank the top 10 oil industry stories of 2008

Below is the way I would rank the Top 10. I had an easy time ranking the top five, but then it was more difficult to sort them out.

My top 10 oil industry stories of 2008:

  1. Crude prices soar in 1H, WTI tops $147, Brent right behind
  2. Prices collapse below $50 in 2H as demand retreats
  3. Ethanol's struggles: VeraSun bankruptcy, others barely profitable, spreads collapse
  4. Push begins to lift offshore drilling ban in US; Obama and McCain differ on approach
  5. Capital crunch and low prices lead to deferred investment
  6. Shale gas supply in US surges, a new factor in supply/demand balance
  7. Credit crunch slows activity for once free-wheeling traders
  8. Diesel surges, gasoline/naphtha plunge; traditional cracks skewed
  9. Russian oil output to fall in 2008, first time in a decade
  10. Brazil subsalt finds continue to lift nation's upstream prospects

A couple of options that weren't on the list (I placed them in the suggestion box) were:

  • Peak oil becomes fashionable, then unfashionable again
  • Obama elected; potential major impact on energy policy
  • Feel free to share your own input. What other stories do you consider to be Top 10 material (not limited to the oil industry)?

    #2 looks like it will have to be adjusted to "$40"

    Dubai Oil Price Falls to a 46-month Low
    Saturday, December 6, 2008 13:18:14

    The price Dubai crude oil has fallen to the 30-U.S. dollar-level for the first time in nearly four years.

    In Singapore, the spot price of Dubai oil traded on Friday closed at 38-dollars, 91-cents per barrel, down more than two dollars from the previous day.


    Not quite as bad as the price of Mexican oil. Here is the price quoted by Pemex:

    Mexican crude oil basket price
     30.52 *
    * Dollars per barrel.
    Estimate provided only for information purposes.
    The daily estimated quotation will be published at 6:00 PM.

    PEMEX Monthly Petroleum Statistics
    The price quote is updated daily though the rest of the page is updated monthly. However Pemex is now over two weeks late with their update of this page. It was supposed to be updated on November 21st but that has not happened.

    Anyway, the top oil story of 2008 will be one that was never published: Peak oil causes collapse of the world's economy!

    Ron Patterson

    Anyway, the top oil story of 2008 will be one that was never published: Peak oil causes collapse of the world's economy!

    That story won't be published because it's just a fantasy in your mind. The rise in oil prices, far from being a cause of the collapse, was just another symptom of the generalized speculative mania.

    You are the one who is delusional. World energy supply, over the last 100 years, increased at about 2 percent per year. World GDP, over the last 100 years, increased at about 2 percent per year. Get the connection?

    World oil supply stopped growing in 2005 and prices spiked. These two factors combined drove us into a recession. We will pull out of this recession when the world oil supply starts growing again. That is not likely to happen...ever.

    Crude oil has been on a plateau since 2005. We are at peak oil right now, or was a few months ago. You should understand that simple fact and you might not post so much foolish crap in the future. Of course peak oil is only part of the story. To get the whole story take Chris Martenson's crash course.

    Ron Patterson

    Hey JD,

    Peak Oil is a geological reality, as recognized by U.S. National Academy of Sciences, U.S. National Academy of Engineering, U.S. General Accountability Office, U.S. Congressional Research Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the National Petroleum Council, and no scientific source says otherwise.

    Denying Peak Oil is like saying the earth is flat. :)

    Garrison Keillor says that in this country you are free to express yourself anyway you wish, including walking down Main Street twirling your underwear at the end of a stick. :) He means of course, that your are free to make an ass out of yourself in public, if you so choose.

    The reason oil dropped so fast is that our "brilliant" leaders ran the international economy into the ground.

    But oil prices will go back up, soon.

    Hey, your heard it here first :)

    JD, put that stick down.

    Cliff Wirth

    №11 Peak Oil…?...Everything isn’t so bad…

    According to the estimate made by the USGS (WPA 2000) “approximately 800 billion barrels are awaiting discovery in the coming 25 years. Implying a tripling of current annual discovery for a period of 25 years”. This desired increase of annual discovery still isn’t achieved. However, the USGS forecast is real, because a great possibility of improving discovery rate can be achieved as a result of technological progress in exploration methods.
    With new technologies (like patented invention US 7,330,790) oil industry could make three times more oil and gas discoveries than when using conventional technology. And the fact that new technology won't need more investments than a conventional one is also very important. It could significantly mitigate world energy problems. The technology is designed and successfully tested in the Barents and the Black Seas as well as in the Gulf of Mexico (see: www.binaryseismoem.weebly.com)

    Hey Geolog,

    This is small potatoes. Haven't you heard that I hope to patent a process for extracting the energy from discarded chewing gum, that will avert the Peak Oil disaster. And my cow burping capture method will provide enough methane to power the globe for hundreds of years :)

    By the way, 2 to 3 times more discoveries than what?? And how large are these discoveries. After all, when it comes to oil, it is not the number that matters so much as the size. There is not too much equipment available to drill a bunch of weeny oil fields.

    paris hilton lampoons mccain.

    how about hope in july turned into crushing disappoint by november. life has a way of going topsy turvy, especially around credit crunches! the top story should really be that the world is burning 30 billion barrels of oil per year and doesn't yet have a plan B. ridiculous!

    Well, the IEA WEO report and its study of decline rates has to be there doesn't it?

    - The accelerating declining output of Cantarell and the implications for the US market.

    - Financing problems limit the future output of oil sands in Alberta ... and the implications for the US market.

    - US Treasury committments to the financial services industry reach $8.5 trillion; one half of (posted) 2008 GDP. What exactly did 'they' buy, again?

    "What exactly did 'they' buy, again?"
    Take your pick from hope, days, snake oil, something structured off-balance sheet.... but we're not allowed to know are we.

    IMHO #5 is the top story and will have the most impact long term. Also, July 2008 new all time peak date?

    There are too many variables to predict which stories will be the top ten, in my opinion.

    I guess we can guess, but so far we do not know who will be openly at war with whom and exactly what weapons will be deployed when.

    It seems to me that we are already engaged in a global resource war, and that is a key story that is not told.

    Massive shifts in population, massive die offs, and the blowback from events in many different parts of the world will define the future in ways we simply cannot predict.

    The second key story that is not explored is that continuing environmental blowback will intensify in ways that will affect us far more dramatically than we would like to believe.

    The same Establishment which has told us that the economy is being well-managed has also assured us that the environment is no problem at all.

    The continuation of massive dis-info-tainment -- not so much as a result of brilliant conspiracy, but rather as a result of an accidental "Conspiracy of Dunces" -- is perhaps the third story I would highlight in the top ten.

    Of course, as usual, I have wandered outside of the limits of the "energy" discussion even though the stories I have described are, I believe, the most critical related to our species' use of energy and survival.

    So. my best guesses of the top three:

    1. Ongoing Global Resource War and blowbacks

    2. Ongoing War on the Planet and blowbacks

    3. Ongoing dis-info--tainment and related cooperation among most of us to remain Dunces with regard to the first two "top stories."

    I find this current practice of disinformation by energy companies to be one of the great ironies of the day. I watched Mr Pickens on Meet the Press using every opportunity to mention that the days of fossil fuels were numbered. As soon as his segment ended, a commerical was aired with one of these Dunces speaking with great sounding authority that there was absolutely no shortage of oil - we just need to use some advanced techonolgies to have it gush forth and keep us cheerfully motoring away without a care in the world - just pay a little more for these technologies to be deployed.

    How is this any different than the disinformation used by the tobacco companies in years past? How long will it take for us to ban this type of stuff? And, those great ads showing macho guys roaring about in high powered pickups just for the fun of it. I suspect that this type of propaganda is more detrimental to the health of future generations than tobacco smoking.

    A number of cultural and political think tanks supported by the tobacco industry are also supported by the petroleum industry to disseminate disinformation. "Doubt is our product." said one tobacco industry executive years ago. The same is true of the petroleum industry with regard to climate change and the ongoing resource war that is consuming our own attention and resources when we need so much to be focused on sustainability.

    "Big Petroleum" and "Big Tobacco" both have gained their reputations as liars through the kind of advertising and PR "astroturf" false-flag organizations they have funded for decades.

    Here are some quick websites outlining some of the relationships between junk science and "Big Tobacco" and "Big Oil" (via American Petroleum Institute, etc.)


    "Junk Science and the Art of Spin Doctoring especially focuses on the Cato Institute and a host of inter-related groups all funded by BT and BO -- and "Junkman" Milloy, who runs phony scientific organizations on behalf of both Big Tobacco and Big Oil.


    PRWatch does good work. Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber's "Toxic Sludge Is Good For You" and "Trust Us We're Experts" are must-reads for those interested in how Big Tobacco and Big Oil join with other industries to make us into absolute Dunces with regard to environmental and economic issues.

    The trick played by Corporatists -- the new "Friendly Fascists" -- is to poison the stream of information and analysis that informs public discourse and shapes public opinion. This tactic was pointed out clearly by FDR's middle VP Henry A. Wallace and even "The father of public relations" Edward Bernays.

    See PRWatch review on "The Father of Spin..." here:


    The Neocons followed up on Bernays very well. See Richard Heinberg's superb summary analysis of the NeoCons. My books are packed away right now, but I believe Heinberg gives an overview on pages 60-61 of "The Party's Over." (Can someone please check this?)

    Before folks launch into Dunce-like discussion about "Conspiracy theories" I suggest that you check the analysis and information on the sites I linked to. The leading NeoCons and PR and corporate lobbyist organizations all believe very much that democracy is only a tool to help keep the rabble in line. Real decisions are made by those who already have wealth and power. This is clearly stated by Bernays and others, such as Leo Strauss, who taught a number of the NeoCons at U of Chicago -- Wolfowitz and Kristol, and others. Strauss clearly taught that people were not capable of governing themselves, and must be manipulated by a small elite.

    For one online summary of Strauss:


    All of this to say that the "Top Ten Energy Stories" of each year are manipulated and massaged to reflect the current Corporatist fashions, and that any other narratives are marginalized in our culture.

    Facts are decontextualized and interpreted depending on our perspective.

    The key questions is this: "Is war the only answer?" You can bet that our Corporatist leadership loves war -- it is profitable and keeps them in firm control. So the causes and effects of the big story -- the Global Resource War -- will be excluded from discussion as much as possible.


    You are right, the global economy is a gigantic piracy. The word community is an oxymoron to these louts.

    The analogy to the lying tobacco bums is a good one.

    And then there are the head in the sand (and other places :) turkeys at public radio, public tv, and the major newspapers who play their fiddles as Rome begins to burn.

    Just think of all of the young people who are starting large families, who will soon find out that all of their leaders have been lying to them.

    Of course, as usual, I have wandered outside of the limits of the "energy" discussion even though the stories I have described are, I believe, the most critical related to our species' use of energy and survival.

    Energy is work and work is the economy. The big story of 2008 is that the planet hit hard resource limits - energy being only one of them. I think beggar picked the biggest story - the overall context has changed.

    cfm in Gray, ME

    The weak economy is terrific! Just what we need to induce soldiers to re-up and new recruits to join the military! More cannon fodder for the Global Resource War.


    So we continue to shape our so-called civilization into a permanent War Economy without any declaration of war or any military draft.

    "One Thriving Sector: The Business of War" this is another story that shows how we are being shaped into a permanent war economy. People line up for jobs in the War Industry -- er, Department of Resource War, er, Department of Petroleum Acquisition Through Force."


    "Is war the only answer?" According to our behaviour as the nation with the mostest and biggest guns, doing a little unprovoked invasion into the petro-rich Iraq -- AKA "The Prize" -- war seems to be the only answer.

    Is there any evidence to the contrary?

    Once again -- the silencing of discussion regarding the Enrgy-focused resource war does seem to me to be the top energy story of the year.

    I think the persistent drop in Vehicle Miles Traveled (and therefore gasoline consumption) in the US has to be one of the top 10 stories.

    Agree with that.

    I was talking to a senior guy with DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit) last night. He said that they have not seen a drop off in rail and bus ridership after gasoline prices came down. He said that rail lines and express bus service were both pretty much at capacity during rush hour periods.

    Middle East oil reserves may be much lower than previously assumed.

    #1 Over-leveraged Hedge funds drive up oil futures which then flips over due to cut in demand caused by high prices. Drop in price destroys collateral needed for new investments.

    Obama on energy independence. (But not the first president or president-elect to entertain such a fantasy.)


    My fav is the 73% reduction in zooplankton, other continuing extinctions far in excess of normal rates, and farmers not getting enough fertilizer [both O-NPK & I-NPK] even as the UN FAO warns of 800 million suffering from inadequate nutrition while global reserves shrink to just NINE WEEKS.

    The failure of Peak Outreach to spread this news just haunts me. :(

    Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

    Here you go, Bob,

    re: Extinctions - a link.

    Current Mass Extinction Spurs Major Study of Which Plants to Save
    (Santa Barbara, Calif.) –– The Earth is in the midst of the sixth mass extinction of both plants and animals, with nearly 50 percent of all species disappearing, scientists say.

    Thxs Aniya,

    As posted before: we are evolved to sit in the dark, but we can't do starvation and dehydration. David Suzuki has stated that we need to start putting our bodies on the line, although I think just our fingers would be sufficient--that way we can still exosomatically move to being good shepherds; good eco-stewards for Optimal Overshoot Decline. In order to practice full-on 'planetary patriotism' [full credit to the TODer for coining this term] we need Peak Outreach to really spread. Digital Outreach can still occur with nine, eight, seven, six....

    This text can also be found on EnergyBulletin [in case this original source bogs down]:

    Millenials: Are You Mad enough Yet?

    ..So you should be apoplectic with us. You should have the latest moral claim with the dominant culture as previous generations bore a responsibility to Native Americans and African Americans. Yet your claim is even more acute and the threat is to the very survival of the species. Consider the moral and political power you would have if these three groups banded together to demand a recognition of grievances and a course correction to a sustainable and socially just World. This may be the last best opportunity you have, that we have, all of us working in conjunction to make it right.
    related EB link [open, then scroll down please]:


    As I said in a post on todays DB, the youth of today will do nothing.

    And to further that, observe how everyone is pinning everything on
    "The One" to save our asses.

    No these youth were raised to depend on others to take care of them. They were never treated roughly and therefore never developed aught save to whine and cry tears to get their way ..which they massively got!...

    There is little hope.


    Hi airdale,

    Thanks for bringing up the importance of upbringing and the care of children.

    It's an important question: "What motivates people to act in a positive manner to address what confronts us?"

    At a social gathering yesterday, one educated man in his early 20s told me that he understands "peak" - but that...he and his friends don't know what to do. "It's like a wall - I don't know what to think about how things could possibly change." Sometimes people "know" and then feel helpless.

    I believe I differ with you when you use the phrase "rough treatment."

    Children (and adults, for that matter) have a need to belong and to contribute. It seems like what you're really getting at (though I may be mistaken), is what happens when children aren't given the opportunity to contribute to the well being of their families and communities.

    I'd say, more often, the problem is not lack of "rough" treatment, but lack of a way to understand and deal with the needs of children and adults. (A brief description of something I find useful is at www.cnvc.org and www.gordontraining.com).

    In terms of "rough", there is a lot of that. I'd suggest reading up on the causes and consequences of abuse and neglect.

    Here are some links to stats on child abuse and one of its consequences, murder of children.

    "Of all children under age 5 murdered from 1976-2005 --

    * 31% were killed by fathers
    * 29% were killed by mothers
    * 23% were killed by male acquaintances
    * 7% were killed by other relatives
    * 3% were killed by strangers

    Of those children killed by someone other than their parent, 81% were killed by males."
    Edit to add links. (I lost the one for the above quote.)

    Aniya -- thanks for the great links and information.

    As a father of still-fairly young children I appreciate what you have to say. My observation is that parents who hit their kids or belittle them do more poorly than parents who are understanding but realistic with their kids about life.

    That said, I wonder about the implications of the way we live with our kids for how they perceive the world.

    My kids and I talk about Peak Oil and Climate Change and the Sixth Great Extinction. We talk about the implications for the future and how we might best respond.

    But my kids also live in a world of i-pods, Blackberries, downloaded music, gossip magazines, movies, and in general the dis-info-tain-ment that keeps the violent juggernaut going. My kids sometimes prefer to disappear for awhile into the comfort of the bubble of unreality that suppresses vital information and distracts with lies and trinkets.

    I find that this not only frustrates me, but does indeed keep young people from developing into healthy, mature adults.

    My kids and their peers are significantly hindered from learning how to question authority and take responsibility for the future. They are not allowed to be aware of what is going on in the world or to be angry about the future that is being stolen from them.

    The sad thing is that most of the young people will end up living a short and brutal existence -- especially relative to what their expectations are, based upon what our culture feeds them through advertising and the other propaganda outlets known as "news." I think many of them will become disillusioned and angry at some point.

    The disequilibrium that is coming may cause many people -- young and old -- to retreat into fundamentalism and to hide under the authoritarian umbrella of the Fascists who currently dominate our country. That seems to be the way things are moving. This outcome will make it more difficult for those who care about the planet and about peaceful powerdown (powerup?) to have an effective voice.

    It looks like a miracle of some sort is needed to get this sort of discussion going in the mainstream world. Again, this relates back to the reliance upon violence to obtain petroleum, and how we do not talk about that, either.

    Hi Beggar,

    Thanks for your response. Perhaps we can take up this topic, either w. an article or on DB some time?

    A couple of quick replies

    re: "My kids are significantly hindered..."

    How are they hindered and who is responsible for this? (Like I said, this is probably too OT for this discussion, but feel free to email me or perhaps we can take it up another day.)

    I'd really encourage you to make the most of the influence you have (sometimes parents don't realize it). There's a nice article, in the current issues of Mother Earth News - maybe some ideas there.

    "My older brother Tighe and I grew up in a continually evolving log house that was started in 1975 by three college friends… The house is on 40 acres of wild land where my parents choose to live a sustainable and low-impact existence. For our family, this lifestyle meant extensive gardening, using an outhouse and constant exploration of the outdoors...

    While other kids our age were parked in front of the TV, we were racing around the hills, getting all kinds of dirty...

    With no TV to distract us, winter nights usually saw the family sitting around the woodstove with one parent reading aloud to the rest of us. This continued until Tighe and I were in high school and had homework and cross-country practice to fill our evenings...

    We all read on our own as well. Literature filled our lives with imagination and adventure, instead of advertisement jingles and an addiction to pop culture."

    re: Responsibility.
    Also, the links I gave you...my experience is that the essence of the work of both Rosenberg and Gordon (and their colleagues) is a direct route to learning to take real responsibility. (again, link at www.cnvc.org).

    Aniya -- thanks for the additional link to the "Nurtured by Nature" article. You are right, we are maybe a bit off-topic.

    However, to bring it back for now: we live in a very multicultural, poor neighborhood in the middle of a city. We do some of the simple things and live amoung some wonderful folks of Mexican Hmong, Somali, Jamaican, African American, and many mixes of heritage. Exactly the wrong place to live, according to most interested in surviving Peak Oil.

    We have chickens down the alley and some mighty good gardeners around us.

    From my reading here, there is a huge amount of denial that the central story related to energy issues -- and Peak Oil in particular -- is the incredible violence we resort to in order to get oil and keep it from other people who are trying to do the same.

    We have a kind of international Mad Max scenario played out, with our soldiers from Iraq referring to it as "Injun Country" with reference to the genocide perpetrated to secure resources which formed the foundation for the establishment of the USA as a world power in the last century.

    One of the violent things we do to our kids is lie to them about who we are and what we do in order to maintain and even expand a huge disproportion of wealth for ourselves. George F. Kennan in a US State Department Policy Planning Study was at least honest when he wrote in 1948:

    "We have 50% of the world's wealth, but only 6.3% of its population....our real job in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which permit us to maintain this position of disparity. To do so, we have to dispense with all sentimentality ... we should cease thinking about human rights, the raising of living standards and democratization."

    We are dishonest about who we are. The multi-racial mix of poor kids in my neighborhood know this in a way that the Corporatists who drone on about "The Top Ten Energy Stories of 2008" still do not get at all.

    The top energy story is this: we have declared war upon planet and the poor in order to suck the very lifeblood from them. We hide this with noble lies -- mostly religious and political lies, but also political lies masquerading as economic truisms. In this way, the rape of planet and poor people is carried on with a sense of noble purpose, and even many of the colonized poor -- indeed the best slaves -- are caught up in the lie and give willing consent to the violence.

    Don't most professional psychologists and psychiatrists benefit from the status quo of violence to the point that the talk about non-violence is applied only to those who are too poor to act violently with impunity?

    Think about this in terms of the violence done to people who have worked and saved and scrimped all of their lives only to have that "energy" stolen from their retirement accounts, from the value of their currency, from the value of their homes lately.

    Think about this in terms of only-guessed-at quantity of "energy" that sits under the land of Iraq, which country was carved out years ago in an unatural way by colonial powers who were also fighting over petroleum.

    Think about this in terms of the young people who have dreams that are based upon the false premises of the very same Fascist mindset that asks year after year, in dreary fashion, "What Are The Top Ten Energy Stories of the Year" and then answers them in a way that is the very epitome of Sociopathic Indifference. "Screw the planet. Screw the poor. Screw the Iraqis and everyone unfortunate enough to not be as well-placed as we are. What matters is what we know and what we will do. We will create reality, not the planet or the poor." That is what I see happening on a daily basis hewre on TOD, and each year this culminates in the "financial" and "free market" and "Corporatist-technicians-only-need-respond" crap that puts us exactly back where we started, which is:

    "Violence is our fundamental strategy. In relation to planet and poor people -- especially in terms of our children, who have no voice at all in this -- we kill for our own short-term benefit. We kill for oil and other resources, and we tell ourselves a bunch of noble-sounding stories to keep us from having to admit it."

    We really are about discounting the pain of others far away on the planet or in time -- in the next generation. The changes we need to make are not easy or simple or even mostly technical. The changes we need to make are far more fundamental and involve the way we conceive of ourselves and organize our lives in terms of the next generation and the planet we leave behind.

    That fundamental change has been the energy story of the year for decades, but who is talking about it here?

    Maybe we need a "The Real Energy Story" discussion here?

    I will work my ass off this week in order to try to make a house payment and buy food. In between times I will check in. I'd be glad to contribute to a keypost with you, Aniya, to get such a discussion going.

    Will RR or WT or some of the others help out with such a project? The effort I have in mind is state the human relationship to energy at this time in realistic terms rather than in terms that assume that energy or the universe gives a rip about Corporate bottom lines or who kills the most people for oil.

    Corporations can make a profit -- actually make money -- right up until the time we destroy our habitat and die off, declaring all along what the real top energy stories are, and can be completely, freaking wrong about it! Nations can make up noble reasons for genocide in the same way, appearing to "Win!" until they lose the ability to even feed themselves.

    And a shout-out to Gail the Actuary: can the insurance folks even begin to think about the implications of the violence we are doing to the planet, the poor, and the next generation? My guess is that reality is carefully screened out from the projections related to the blowback from the planet, the poor people around the planet who are being walled off from prosperity, and the young people who know that they have been sold down the river by the previous generation?

    My God, folks, do you really think the planet gives a rip how many fewer miles we in the USA drive for a year because we are comfortable with gas prices determined by a market that excludes the planet from its calculations of value?

    Here go the reading glasses again. I thought the suggestion for the top ten said: Mass extinction prompts discussion of which PLANETS to save. Talk about the long view. Now that would be news!

    Bli'me ... I did exactly the same.


    It is a rather ironic reaction...to study "what is most important to save." I guess it comes from feeling there is no way to reverse the trend.

    Something about the plankton population scare (which I had not run across before) does not add up. It originates in mid-2008 with an invertebrate conservation society, Buglife, noticing a graph in a report from the UK's environment department, DEFRA, according to which "zooplankton abundance" in 2006 was down 70% from 1960. They put out a press release on the threat to the food chain, at least two news sites picked it up, and thereafter - silence, except for echoes in the blogosphere.

    The first thing that has to be pointed out is that these indicators are for the ocean around the UK. They are not global in any way. The second thing is that according to the graph, abundance was already at 50% of 1960 levels in the early 1990s, so this is not a new discovery. The third and most important thing is the lack of any confirmation, from the people who made the graph or from other experts, of Buglife's interpretation.

    In trying to find an assessment of plankton population trends from the people actually studying them, I've found two observations of interest so far. In 2005, DEFRA said "Warm water species of plankton are increasing, while cold water species are decreasing". And in 2003, there was a report saying that productivity of phytoplankton had declined globally by 6%, with the decline a little larger in those ocean regions which had warmed the most.

    But it will be impossible to make anything more of the UK figures until I can find interpretive commentary by the people who actually released them.

    The top oil story of 2008 was that an independent scientific organization (that is pro alternatives) indicated that alternative won't fill the gap in declining oil production.

    The Energy Watch Group concludes in a current report titled: “Peak Oil Could Trigger Meltdown of Society:”

    "By 2020, and even more by 2030, global oil supply will be dramatically lower. This will create a supply gap which can hardly be closed by growing contributions from other fossil, nuclear or alternative energy sources in this time frame."


    Without a doubt the aggregated top story should be the endless amount of discussion on economic theory and what should be done to avoid a meltdown, without having any generally accepted model of oil depletion. So we don't really know how much of an impact our oil predicament has had on the downturn.

    This is really an embarrassment for all the economists in the world, and extra shame on the oil companies (excepting UK and Norway-based ones) for not releasing any data on depletion. In the greater scheme of things, this should not be hard, and the fact that it is all caused by our own doing makes it seem so ultimately disappointing.

    Biggest story: Energy prices start to impact real estate. Prices collapse in the exburbs but hold in cities.

    The Presidential "debates" and election came and went and it turned out there is nothing to worry about regarding energy and population growth. All we need to do is reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

    One big story missed was Russia's invasion of Georgia to straddle one of the West's most strategic fossil fuel pipelines. Portents of the Oil Wars to come.

    Can you point to something which justifies this viewpoint? My understanding was that Georgia was the instigator, with its attempt to regain control of South Ossetia. Russia invaded Georgia in response.

    I am no expert on this matter, but I think the viewpoint you're promoting is contrary to the facts.


    On the evening of August 7, 2008 Georgia launched a ground and air based military attack on South Ossetia's capital Tskhinvali. Georgia claims that it was responding to Russian troop movements, this claim has not gained support from Georgia's western allies.[12][36] Russia responded by sending troops into South Ossetia and launching bombing raids further into Georgia.

    A sample news report from the time:

    The Russian incursion began after Georgia launched a major military offensive to retake control of South Ossetia, which has enjoyed de facto autonomy since the early 1990s but officially remains part of the country.

    Your #1 and #2 should be rolled together because the top story in 2008 is quite simply the price action. Has the price ever hit these extremes within a year before? Or even within a decade? 2008 was an opportunity for investors and observers generally to learn an awful lot about themselves, about markets, and about oil. The last time a learning opportunity of this magnitude came along was probably in the stock market in 1987. Rampant speculation, fear, greed, panic and bursting bubbles all squeezed into one seemingly very long year!

    Whatever 2009 brings it's going to be tough to top the last 12 months in terms of raw emotion and volatility. But I've a sneaky feeling it might come close.

    Happy survival to all.


    Your #1 and #2 should be rolled together because the top story in 2008 is quite simply the price action.

    That's the way I would have done it as well, but those categories came verbatim from the Platts survey.

    What? No mention of WEO 2008?!?

    "IEA grudgingly admits to potential supply problems: After more than 20 years of being villified as lunatic fringe, peak-oilers finally vindicated."


    Judging by the article choices for 2008 relative to 2007, interest in Global Warming/Climate Change seems to be waning. This is not surprising given the experience of the last 12 months.