Category Archives: Energy

Historic times in the oil business

The tug of war between the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and declining oil demand took another interesting turn Wednesday.

Meanwhile, OPEC’s making noise about further production cuts to try to “stabilize” oil prices.

Which force prevails here? Is demand so curtailed by the economic downturn that OPEC can’t stop the slide? Will a seller’s market return, with $3 and $4 gas down the road?

Johnathan Goodwin on CBS News

H-Line Conversions’ Johnathan Goodwin, the Wichita man who is becoming well known for turning gas guzzlers into efficient, green machines, has received some more national recognition.

CBS Evening News‘ Hari Sreenivasan came to Wichita to do a story on Goodwin. Check out the story.

The quotable T. Boone Pickens

As I wrote earlier today, I am at a business editors and writers conference in Kansas City. T. Boone Pickens talked about his energy plan during an afternoon session.

I’m not going to go into his plan in depth. You’ve probably read about it already. If not, you can get details at the Pickens Plan Web site. You also can watch a video from his visit to The Eagle.

In my earlier post, I asked if anyone had questions for me to ask Pickens. Unfortunately, he took only about three questions before running out of time, and I didn’t get a chance. However, I think he did answer BTH’s question:

BTH: Ask him to compare the technical difficulty of his plan compared to putting man on the moon with early 60s technology. Note that we succeeded in realizing JFK’s dream.

Pickens: “This is a simple problem. When I walk up to a pool table, I never see a combination shot. I only see straight-in shots. This to me is a straight-in shot.”

That about sums it up. Here are some more lines from quotable Pickens:

The moderator asked him why he rolled out the plan now. “A guy recently said the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second-best time is now.”

He said corn-based ethanol will never be much more of a factor than it is now. “Ethanol is an ugly baby, but it’s ours. I’d rather have ethanol than foreign oil.”

On why he feels so strongly about natural gas: “Natural gas is cleaner, it’s cheaper, it’s abundant, and it’s ours.”

When talking about how the United States is trailing other countries in developing wind energy: “Germans are the most highly developed for wind, and they don’t have any wind.”

And on why his plan is the right plan: “If you don’t like my plan, get a plan. … I’ll go for a better plan. Thing about it is, I have the only plan.”

Anyone have any thoughts on the Pickens Plan?

Ask T. Boone Pickens

I’m in Kansas City at the Society of American Business Editors and Writers fall workshop. There are some great speakers lined up here. Today’s events include a training session about the ag economy, an address from Ford vice president Joe Hinrichs and a discussion about the biofuel debade.

The session I’m looking most forward to is entitled: “A conversation with T. Boone Pickens: Will his plan work?”

We will be given the opportunity to ask questions during the session. So what do you want to know? If I get a chance to ask, I’ll publish the response here.

Has the oil bubble burst?

Some seem to think so, as evidenced by this article in the Daily Telegraph, courtesy of our friends across the pond.

It makes a pretty interesting case for speculation as the cause of the runup, as if more evidence was needed, and seems to put the cap on the supply and demand canard, doesn’t it?

Let’s talk about oil. How low do you think it will fall? Will the curiously-timed fall in oil prices short-circuit the demise of the pickup and SUV?

Outta here but still around

Today is my last day at the Wichita Eagle.

What a strange sound that has.

After 18 years and a lot of topics, I’m leaving the Eagle to become editor of Kansas Farmer magazine, a Farm Progress publication.

I’ll still be in Wichita, working the state from a home office, and my new bosses tell me there will even be blogging in my future, so I won’t be going away, just changing location.

I want to say thanks to all those who have been faithful readers through the years and I hope to see you around at some of the state’s agricultural events _ including the Kansas State Fair just around the corner.

Keep the fences tight and the rows straight.

Americans to drive 125 billion fewer miles next year

Americans will drive 125 billion fewer miles in the coming year, according to Quality Planning, a company that validates policyholder information for auto insurers.

In a survey released today (see link below), Quality Planning found that while discretionary driving will decrease, it likely will not result in lower insurance premiums. But will using less oil mean a drop in gas prices?

Here’s how the company figures it:

Assuming gas prices remain at current levels, the firm projects a mileage decrease of 4 to 5 percent over the next 12 months. With approximately 250 million passenger cars on the road, this equates to roughly 125 billion fewer miles driven, or 500 miles per year per driver. At an average of 20 miles per gallon, this will result in a reduction in gasoline consumption of 6 billion gallons, equivalent to 307 million barrels of crude oil (a barrel of crude oil yields approximately 19.5 gallons of gasoline).

To read the survey, click this PDF:


Oil down; Will Wichita prices follow?

For those of you keeping score, the price of a barrel of oil is down $2.55 as of 4:15 p.m. today, a little more than half of yesterday’s nearly $5-a-barrel hike that produced an almost instant 17-cent run-up at the pumps in Wichita.

UPDATE: No downward movement last night in the price of unleaded. And this morning, oil suddenly shot up $4 a barrel. What’s the moral? Time to fill up.

Cue the “price hike had nothing to do with the day’s trading” excuses in 3, 2, 1 …

So, if my math follows, a gallon of unleaded should be trading at around $3.56 tomorrow morning in Wichita, right?

Tune in tomorrow for further details.

Oil price falls despite Shell attack in Nigeria

Here’s what sounds on the surface like an ominous report on the immediate future of oil prices: an attack on Shell pipelines in Nigeria.

As the article points out, these attacks have been a partial driver for the run-up in oil prices on the commodities markets. So, I cringed a little bit this morning as I took a peek at the latest price.

Imagine my surprise at 9:11 a.m. when I saw oil is down $1.06 according to’s ticker. An hour later, oil was down $3.11.

Now, I’m sure all of you remember the raft of lectures that have been delivered by government energy officials and oil company executives: It’s supply and demand, stupid, along with all the uncertainty surrounding the oil distribution system.


Sure, there’s plenty of time today for speculators – the real driver behind the run-up – to ratchet today’s trading into the stratosphere.

But the early morning today brings yet another blow to the credibility of the alibis that flowed like crude as per-barrel prices doubled over the last year.

Food vs. Fuel: How about both?

A new alliance supporting credible science and funding for research in agriculture technology has been formed. Key players are Deere and Co., Dupont, Monsanto, Archer Daniels Midland and the Renewable Fuels Association.

The new alliance aims to advance the idea that agriculture is capable of supply the world with food, feed, fiber and fuel.

Oil falls again, bickering bogs down anti-speculation bill

It appears that some of those pesky oil speculators have decided to cash out of the big oil futures crap game, according to MSNBC.

Oil continues its rapid fall, down more than $20 over the past several days – despite some of the traditional factors that have triggered mass hysteria and big price run-ups on the trading floor like hurricanes, threats against pipeline security and the like.

While at the same time, what appeared to be bi-partisan action in Congress to crack down on speculators has been bogged down in a procedural squabble.

Is it oil speculators? You bet.

I regularly get E-mails of some of the best of commentary on issues that I follow regularly, which includes the price of oil and what’s causing today’s astronomical prices. The column I just read is so on point that I wanted to share. It’s written by John Hanchette, a professor at St. Bonaventure University who is also a Pulitzer Prize winning national correspondent, a founding editor of USA Today and a Gannett Top 10 reporter of the past 25 years.

Happy reading.