Notes From the Fieldby Martin Weil

Posts Tagged ‘Oil’

March 20, 2015

Oil. She Said, He Said

“You know that the President just vetoed the Keystone pipeline,” said the woman.

“Honey, no politics. People from the coast feel differently,” said her husband.

The short exchange took place on the edge of the Yasuni National Park in the Ecuadorean rainforest, where the forces of oil exploration and environmental protection are squarely facing off. I suppose this is what prompted the remarks. The man and woman were from Oklahoma; we are from California.

I was struck by how much was communicated in these two sentences. So much so that I have tried for two weeks to write a longer piece about the underlying issues, from the fundamental importance of oil to our way of life to its environmental impacts. In the end, nothing worth publishing.

But I still think those two sentences speak volumes.

February 18, 2014

A New “Gold” Rush

The highest housing rental prices in the US are not to be found in New York, DC, Los Angeles or San Francisco. They are in Williston, North Dakota, according to a recent survey.  A 700 sq ft apartment in this town of 30,000 rents for an average $2400/mo. This the result of the astonishing oil boom following rapid advances in “fracking” technology.

March 18, 2013

Nothing Short of A Miracle


The U.S. is well on its way to ridding itself of a decades of dependence on foreign oil. Given that our need for oil has played a part in most of the ugly and costly military entanglements we have gotten ourselves into the last 50 years, I can hardly imagine any better news. From Iran to Venezuela, with stops in places such as Iraq and Nigeria, the US has embedded itself with oil-producer governments in places we would have best kept our distance from.

NBC News starts a four-part series examining how fracturing, or “frakking,” has opened up the production of vast quantities of domestic oil and gas. Communities from West Texas to North Dakota are witnessing the equivalent of a new gold rush. Combined with reduced demand through conservation efforts, our demand for foreign oil has declined precipitously in the past 3-5 years.

The development of fracturing technology comes at some environmental cost and the arguments are already contentious.  But to my mind, until we move away from our economic dependence on carbon-based fuels, I would rather have domestic battles over environmental problems than be compelled to engage in both covert and “hot” military ones to protect access to needed energy.

June 16, 2012

Cyprus too?

Admit it, when was the last time you thought about Cyprus? If you are old enough, probably 30-plus years ago, when the Turks and the Greeks slugged it out over control of the tiny island, causing an international crisis. I suspect we are about to be hearing a lot more about the divided island after reading this piece by Wolf Richter. Seems that natural gas, lots of it, has been discovered. And the Russians, as well as Italian, French, Malaysian and of course US energy companies are hot on it. Add the failure of Cyprus’ banks and an financial bailout to the long standoff between a now-weakened Greek and a rising Turkish government over sovereignty, and I believe you potentially have a volatile situation.


May 19, 2011

The $347M each and every day we send to OPEC

UPDATE:  At $100/bbl, this is now $490M that we send per day to some of the least-friendly-to-our-interests countries on the planet. The next time you fill up at the pump, it may be worth thinking of the information succinctly displayed in the following chart from


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