Crisis en Canarias

Just another weblog

Transporte aéreo y crisis energética: el espejo americano

Posted by juanjesus en abril 18, 2008

El Financial Times, señera publicación de la economía internacional, editorializaba su preocupación por la situación energética, con el significativo título de: “Prepararse para la era del cenit del petróleo” (Preparing for the age of peak oil), mientras T. Boone Pickens, un millonario petrolero e inversor tejano, declaraba que “los suministros mundiales de petróleo no excederán de 85 millones de barriles al día – lo que el Mundo bombea hoy – debido a las altas tasas de declive de los yacimientos existentes, lo que le hace creer en precios superiores del petróleo”. Por su parte, Charles Maxwell, otro famoso inversor americano en materia de energía, cree que el petróleo es hoy barato, ya que, debido a factores geológicos, el crudo está entrando en unos años de techo entre ahora y el año 2015, para posteriormente declinar (Entrevista en Finance Yahoo).


La consecuencia del encarecimiento del precio del petróleo dispara las alarmas en el sector del transporte aéreo, especialmente en Norteamérica, como ya estamos viendo.


Así, Barbara Yaffe, de Vancouver Sun, advierte de las quiebras de varias aerolíneas americanas en el mes de Abril, así como de las operaciones de fusión como la acordada entre Delta y Northewst Airlines. La periodista informa de que las predicciones de precios por parte de la IATA están siendo inferiores a las subidas reales del crudo. En la perspectiva del cenit y declive del petróleo, añade la periodista, las aerolíneas están siendo incapaces de mantener su actual actividad con precios crecientes del combustible.

Una de las estrategias de las aerolíneas para ahorrar combustible es no llenar en exceso sus depósitos, con lo que las aeronaves son más ligeras y consumen menos combustible. Sin embargo, como comentan los propios pilotos, este ahorro podría ir en algún momento en detrimento de la seguridad (Pilots claim airliners forced to fly with low fuel). Y es que, como dice la editorial del Daily Camera,se está acabando la era del viaje aéreo barato


Diversos medios americanos, en fin, se están cuestionando la continuidad de su modelo de transporte aéreo masivo, cuyos costes de combustible (además de la debilidad del dólar que no es la única razón de la subida del precio del petróleo), serán cada vez mayores, lo que obliga a prever este escenario en las proyecciones que planteen los precios del petróleo sin tener en cuenta la evolución del agotamiento de los grandes yacimientos del Mundo.


Vancouver Sur: Two factors mean the end of air travel as we know it

Barbara Yaffe, Vancouver Sun

Published: Thursday, April 17, 2008

In crafting policy around air travel, governments both here abroad are flying by the seat of their pants.

The world is starting to be affected by the twin challenges of climate change and peak oil, but many involved in transportation planning are looking the other way.

In fact, it’s easy to believe air travel will keep on expanding, given all the jam-packed airplanes, delayed flights and crowded airports. But cracks are appearing.

In the first two weeks of April, the following airlines went belly up or sought bankruptcy protection: Aloha Airlines; Oasis Hong Kong Airlines, ATA, Skybus, Frontier Airlines and Champion Air.

For now, it’s the budget and regional carriers that appear most vulnerable. But Italy’s national carrier Alitalia is in dire straits, and Delta, reacting to high fuel prices, this week announced a merger with Northwest Airlines.

Air travel is facing static on two fronts. In terms of climate change, air travel — a relatively small industry worldwide — burns kerosene jet fuel that accounts for between four and nine per cent of all climate change on the planet, according to the David Suzuki Foundation.

Britain‘s Stockholm Institute at the University of York back in 2004 identified increased air travel as one of the most serious environmental threats facing the planet. It recommended travellers be required to use public transit to access airports and that they use rail for any journey under 400 miles.

On the peak oil front, with a projected decline in global oil reserves, airlines are finding themselves unable to keep up with fuel costs.

That has led to efforts to economize on other fronts such as maintenance, which explains American Airlines’ current dilemma.

The New York Times reported last week that some big U.S. carriers plan to reduce domestic capacity in 2008 with the express goal of driving up airfares to offset rising fuel costs.

Toronto urban planner Richard Gilbert cites a new forecast by the International Air Transport Association. It projects a $4.5 billion industry-wide net profit for 2008. But that’s predicated on oil priced at $86 per barrel.

Oil was $105 per barrel last month. On that basis, IATA’s projected profit becomes a 2008 loss of nearly $30 billion — much higher than the last recorded loss, in 2002, of $11.3 billion.

And consider, most observers believe oil will go beyond $105.

“The place where airline use will actually decline is in North America where we have turned flying into ‘buses with wings’ mass transportation,” says Anthony Perl, an Simon Fraser University urban studies professor who, along with Gilbert, authored the recently published Transport Revolutions.

Their book explores the effect peak oil is likely to have on global transport.

Perl believes air travel in the future will be reserved for the rich, many of whom will use “micro jets.” Others will pay big bucks to be transported in larger, fuel efficient aircraft that ply high volume, long-range routes.

He foresees a new type of passenger aircraft, designed for fuel efficiency — one that’s bat-shaped, resembling a B-52 bomber, with 20-seat rows.

Perl considers developments like the Pacific Gateway Strategy to be folly. It’s counterproductive, he warns, to keep building infrastructure for traditional transit modes that are reliant on ever-more-costly oil resources.

Governments and transit authorities need to recognize, given the energy crunch, they’re wasting tax dollars by plowing cash into airport and road expansion projects.

Perl, appointed this week by the Harper government to Via Rail’s board of directors, foresees a future where vehicles will mainly be electrically powered and greater reliance will be placed on railways.

Globally, no more than 25 airports will be functional by 2025, Perl predicts, only one of them in the Pacific Northwest.

And that airport, Perl says, will be a “travelport,” featuring high-speed electrical rail interconnections designed to carry passengers to and from all points around Cascadia.

“If Portland or Seattle figure this out before YVR does, that will spell the end of non-stop flights to Asia from Vancouver.” Sadly, he says, “there’s zero planning to bring inter-city rail into YVR.”

Perhaps the message in all this is, if you were planning to take that trip of a lifetime, you should have done it last year.


Pilots claim airliners forced to fly with low fuel

Cost-cutting measures create serious risk for fliers, flight crews complain

By Alex Johnson and Grant Stinchfield


MSNBC and NBC News

updated 6:33 p.m. ET April 16, 2008

As cash-strapped airlines pack more passengers on flights into ever-busier airports, pilots are filing internal complaints warning that airline cost-cutting on fuel supplies could be creating a major safety risk.

The complaints, compiled by and NBC News from a database of safety incident reports maintained on behalf of the Federal Aviation Administration, reveal wide-ranging concern among pilots that airlines are compelling them to fly with too little fuel.

With the cost of jet fuel having doubled in the past year, according to Energy Department figures released last month, airlines are eager to save fuel costs.

Continental Airlines, for example, issued two bulletins last year expressing concern over the number of refueling stops that some flights were making en route to Newark, N.J., one of which observed that “adding fuel indiscriminately without critical thinking ultimately reduces profit sharing and possibly pension funding.”

FAA regulations are precise: A plane must take off with enough primary fuel to reach its destination and then its most distant alternate airport based on conditions. It must carry a reserve of 45 minutes’ worth of fuel on top of that.

But Karl Schricker, a spokesman for the 12,000-member Allied Pilots Association, the largest independent pilots union, said some pilots believed the FAA guidelines were not enough in an era when airlines are seeking to save costs by having aircraft carry the minimum fuel required. If a pilot has to stay in a long holding pattern before landing, the extra fuel can dwindle quickly.

“You don’t want to be at absolute minimum fuel and go to put the gear down and have the gear not come down,” he said.

Pilots challenged on fuel requests
Less fuel means a lighter plane; a lighter plane means better gas mileage, saving the airline money.

Under FAA regulations, pilots have the final say on how much fuel they take on board, but they say that when they question the fuel levels suggested in their flight plans, their judgment is frequently challenged.

“Apparently, it is not uncommon for the flight dispatcher to question the captain if he feels it necessary to add fuel,” one pilot reported.

Pressure from airlines and dispatchers to conserve fuel made another pilot no longer certain whether “I, as captain, have final authority on what I deem is a minimum safe fuel load for the flight or do I not.”

Wrote a third: “It’s almost like a contest to see how far we can spread this company thin, and when an accident happens, we’ll start reintroducing the safety elements we once had.”

‘That’s an absurd allegation’
While individual complaints are dramatic, the documents do not make it possible to paint a precise picture of pilots’ unease.

The reports do not represent a valid statistical sample, for example, because they are voluntary and by definition incomplete. And they are redacted to conceal the identities of the pilots, making it impossible to verify individual statements. But NASA, which maintains the Aviation Safety and Reporting System, says it considers the database a reliable and conservative snapshot of events.

David A. Castelveter, vice president of the Air Transport Association, which represents the major airlines, vigorously disputed the idea that airlines would cut corners on safety to save money.

“That’s an absurd allegation,” he said. “There are no shortcuts in the operation of the aircraft, and no carrier is going to compromise the safe operation of a flight.”

He referred to comments last week by Gerard Arpey, chief executive of American Airlines, who acknowledged that the FAA’s order to ground 300 MD-80 jets for new inspections in connection with an unrelated issue would cost the company “tens of millions of dollars” but said the cost was beside the point.

“No one would put a plane in service that wasn’t safe,” Arpey said.

CONTINUED: FAA guidelines called too skimpy


It has been nearly 20 years since a commercial passenger airliner crashed in the United States because it ran out of fuel, according to the aviation safety site An Avianca Airlines 707 flying from Bogota, Colombia, fell 16 miles short of John F. Kennedy International Airport on Jan. 20, 1990, killing 73 passengers.

Numerous regulations, guidelines and fail-safes are built in to the U.S. aviation system to make sure it doesn’t happen again. But the incident reports reflect pilots’ concerns that the margin of error could be narrowing.

Some pilots accuse dispatchers of underestimating or overlooking flight conditions so they could say the fuel allocations they recommended met the FAA’s requirements.

“A combination of minimum fuel flight planning with unrealistic flight plans combine to create hazardous fuel situations,” the pilot of a Boeing 737 wrote. “… Flight plans are issued, according to written guidance, without regard for the reality of the day.”

Following local news reports late last year that some airliners were arriving at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey with dangerously little fuel left in their tanks, Laura Brown, a spokeswoman for the FAA, said: “We don’t have any indication right now that airlines are flying planes with less than the required amount of fuel.”

But Schricker said, “Management is juggling, and what they do by doing that is they decrease the margin of safety.”

As a result, said Russ Miller, an air traffic controller at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, aircraft now often sound minimum-fuel alerts while they are in holding patterns.

“It puts a lot of pressure on the system when they’re trying to run at the margins,” Miller said.

Senators demand federal action
Until now, evidence that planes could be flying with inadequate fuel was chiefly anecdotal, but even then, it was troubling enough to catch the attention of Sens. Frank Lautenberg and Bob Menendez, D-N.J. They called on the Transportation Department in November to investigate the Newark stories.

“Operating under these conditions regularly can put passengers at risk, especially if multiple landing attempts must be made,” Lautenberg wrote in a letter to Calvin L. Scovel, the Transportation Department’s inspector general.

In a report released Wednesday, the Transportation Department’s inspector general confirmed that based on its study of 20 sample arrivals, “minimum and emergency fuel declarations had increased on flights into the Newark area,” most of them on international flights. It said the FAA was reviewing when and how pilots should declare minimum and emergency fuel declarations at Liberty Airport.

Among the possible causes the report cited for the fuel declarations were “fuel-saving measures” that were instigated after Continental Airlines issued the two fuel bulleints last year, in February and October. The second bulletin expressly tied “excessive” refueling to lower profits.

Continental officials reassured the investigators that it was not their intention to pressure pilots to fly with insufficient fuel, the report said.

The report blamed the rash of low-fuel declarations on flights into Newark primarily on “confusion among flight crew members and air traffic controllers about the difference between minimum and emergency fuel declarations.”

Pilots speak out publicly
The filings reviewed by are the first public documentation of pilots’ misgivings. The number of fuel supply complaints — which are included in more than half of all reports detailing flights on which crews declared a “minimum fuel” situation or a more critical “fuel emergency” — and the consistency of their message suggest that concern over fuel levels is widespread.

“It is obvious to me that in order to save the high fuel price … we were dispatched with a minimum fuel load,” the captain of an Airbus A319 wrote after an incident last year. “Dispatchers often cut it so close to save a couple hundred dollars and risk a diversion with the expenses of more fuel, missed connections, out of base customs and longer crew days.”

‘Economy to the detriment of safety’
It is especially galling, pilots say, when dispatchers and air traffic controllers on the ground contest their judgment that they don’t have enough fuel.

“Upon arrival, I called dispatch to see what the fuel load that was planned for [the] flight to [O’Hare International Airport in Chicago]. I was told it was 75,000 lbs and I asked for it to be upped to 90,000 lbs,” one pilot wrote. “I was challenged by the dispatcher as to why and said I will not fly with less. …

“I have flown 27 of these flights in the last 60 days and on every flight that I requested additional fuel I have been challenged about my request,” this pilot complained.

Castelveter, of the Air Transport Association, reiterated that it was the captain who had the final say on how much fuel a flight took on, not the dispatcher or anyone else on the ground.

If there is reason to believe that a pilot is making an unnecessary request, “why shouldn’t a dispatcher question the decision?” Castelveter said. “That doesn’t mean to say he overrides the decision.”



With crude oil selling at more than $110 a barrel, he said, “there’s no reason to top off if you don’t need a full fuel complement.”

It is clear from the reports, however, that some pilots fear that the airlines are emphasizing “economy to the detriment of safety,” as one of them wrote.

Early last year, after a flight on which “just about everything that you could have [gone] wrong with it” did, the first officer filed an unusually long report.

“We’ve taken just about every facet of what we once had as a safety net and reduced it to saving 50 cents where we can,” the officer wrote, adding:

“I am absolutely confident that if this is the way this company is going to play the game we will soon be on ‘CNN,’ and not in a good way.”

Alex Johnson is a reporter for Grant Stinchfield is an investigative correspondent for NBC station KXAS of Dallas. NBC affiliate KETK of Tyler, Texas, contributed to this report.

Airlines lightening up to save on fuel

Redundant wing lights removed, lighter materials in use

updated 2:25 p.m. ET March 28, 2008

PHOENIX – Your ginger-ale doesn’t come in a glass anymore on most US Airways flights. On Delta you’ll find yourself in a thinner, lighter seat. If you fly JetBlue cross-country, you’ll get a dainty bag of 100-calorie crisps in place of the original snack box of cookies, crackers and spreadable cheese.

With jet fuel prices so high, airlines have no choice but to scour their planes for ways to lighten the load. There’s no room for even the smallest bits of dead weight, from redundant wing lights to extra wires in the walls. Manufacturers also are using lighter materials in plane construction.

“The pressure is immense” to cut weight, said John Heimlich, chief economist for the Air Transport Association of America, an industry trade group. “Every penny more per gallon adds $195 million to the industry’s expenses per year.

“You simply cannot make all of that up with fare increases.”

Jet fuel, which the Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration tracked at $3.17 per gallon in New York on Tuesday, has doubled since the beginning of 2007. It outpaced labor as the biggest airline expense three years ago. As of September 2007, fuel made up 27 percent of operating expenses for U.S. airlines, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

The industry has struggled to keep up. Carriers have increased fares, cut capacity, parked their gas guzzler planes, charged customers to check a second bag, trimmed staff and pushed as many passengers as possible to automated kiosks.

Airlines also try to exert some control over fuel expenses through hedging, a practice of capping fuel prices months or years in advance with long-term contracts.

But hedging is still a gamble.

“Reducing consumption is a certainty,” Heimlich said. “You’re always going to win by consuming less energy.”

To that end, carriers have pulled out unused ovens, magazine racks and trash compactors during the past few years. Some removed paper manuals in the cockpit and installed electronic maintenance logbooks.

Fort Worth, Texas-based American Airlines created a Fuel Smart Team in 2005 as fuel prices started to go up. Tom Opderbeck, American’s manager of strategic programs, said the team tried to cut weight in places that customers wouldn’t notice.

The team capped electrical outlets in the lavatories and cut the power converters from the wall. It took out phones in seat backs and removed the heavy telephone wiring that was folded inside.

“I always think we’ve come to the end of the list, but we keep on finding new items” to remove, Opderbeck said.

The weight-savings measures were unrelated to the grounding this week of MD-80 planes operated by American, a company spokesman said Friday. American and Delta Air Lines both had to cancel flights after Federal Aviation Administration inspectors questioned whether the airlines had properly performed a modification. A $10.2 million civil penalty imposed by the FAA on Southwest Airlines this month also was unrelated to fuel-saving measures.

Last year, American replaced its silverware on business and first class with another set that was made from a lighter metal.

“Every little bit helps, especially for an airline like American Airlines that flies over 750,000 flights a year,” Opderbeck said.

American Airlines burned 2.8 billion gallons in 2007. After the recent weight cuts, the carrier estimates it will conserve about 111 million gallons this year.

Tempe, Ariz.-based US Airways had similar ideas when it redesigned aircraft interiors following its 2005 combination with America West Airlines.

Sherri Shamblin, US Airways vice president for InFlight Services, said management realized it could save fuel by simply replacing meal carts with ones that weigh 12 pounds less.

“Twelve pounds is significant when you run anywhere from six to 35 carts on an airplane,” Shamblin said. The lighter carts will save the airline $1.7 million a year in fuel costs, she said.

Management decided last month to continue to lighten its meal service by getting rid of glassware on domestic flights. Its east coast flights already had switched to plastic. But on western flights previously run by America West, first-class passengers were still handed beverages in glass flutes and tumblers, Shamblin said.

“We actually were going to put glassware back on the east in first class until fuel continued to keep rising,” she said.

US Airways officials wondered if replacing glass with plastic would bother passengers. But in customer surveys “glassware didn’t come up on the list” of what was important on their flight, Shamblin said.

Still, US Airways will keep glasses for its premium Envoy class service during trans Atlantic flights.

JetBlue’s aircraft are 1,079 pounds lighter after removing extra trash bins, flight kits, supplies and seats — “all the little things that, when combined, make a decent difference,” JetBlue spokesman Bryan Baldwin said.

The weight loss will save the carrier roughly $16,000 for a three-hour flight, he said.

A lot of airlines are also trying to fly differently to be more fuel efficient. They’re carrying less water and putting less gas in the tank if the plane doesn’t need it to make the trip. They also plug in planes to ground power as soon as the plane lands.

Southwest Airlines cut fuel costs simply by flying more direct routes. The Dallas-based carrier equipped planes with life vests during the past two years, allowing pilots to fly over bodies of water and shave miles off of their flights.

All of these changes have helped airlines boost their fuel efficiency, Heimlich said. But he’s not sure how much more fuel conservation airlines can do. As fuel prices continue to rise, he said, carriers are parking many of their planes and cramming customers into the remaining flights.

“The place to cut now is simply the quantity of service: The number of flights, the number of seats,” he said. “In other words, the only thing left to cut is the amount of supply itself.”

© 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



The skies less traveled

Air woes a glimpse into the future?

If you think America’s skies have become a little less friendly than they once were — what with bankruptcies, inspection problems and skyrocketing fuel prices — just wait. Chances are good that the era of convenient, cheap air travel is ending.


In our backyard, the discount airline with the talking animals on its tails, Frontier, declared bankruptcy following an unexpected change in billing from its credit-card processor, First Data of Greenwood Village.

Frontier filed for Chapter 11 and threatened to sue First Data, saying the shift — the spat is over when the processor sends proceeds on to Frontier, before or after passengers’ travel has been completed — was unfair. First Data says it’s industry standard.

Either way, the spat makes clear how precarious Frontier’s financial situation is.

Meanwhile, Aloha, Skybus, Champion Air, MAXjet and ATA, all discount outfits, have filed for bankruptcy or plan to shut down. And American Airlines has had to cancel more than 3,000 flights while it completes safety inspections at the behest of the Federal Aviation Administration.

If, upon reading all that, you say, “No worries. I usually fly United,” don’t get too comfortable. Fuel prices have jetted upward by 74 percent in the last year, and with the war in Iraq looking more interminable than ever, oil-producing nations feeling their oats, and global demand on a steep incline, there’s no reason to think that trend is going to change.

Now for the “good news”: If you’re like many Americans, you’re hanging on to your wallet in this year of uncertainty, with an election pending and a recession that has put its seat in the upright position in preparation for landing.

All that may just be a preface to a future in which air travel is no longer cheap, or even available; a future in which the truly wealthy may still be able to zip overseas, but most average Americans will be staying much closer to home for vacation. That future, some say, is all but inevitable.

James Howard Kunstler, in his 2005 book, “The Long Emergency,” makes a powerful case that the fuel-intensive American economies of the late-20th century are headed the way of the in-flight meal as the world reaches “peak oil” production — the point at which production of this non-renewable resource begins its inevitable decline, inconveniently, just as China, India, Brazil and other populous nations are demanding more and more.

Kunstler argues that new energy technologies won’t save us, for the simple reason that all of them, without exception, require petroleum inputs. In fact, he writes, we’re all going to have to revert to much more local economies in the near future, an argument he dramatized in his recent novel, “World Made by Hand.”

Is the current situation a harbinger of a future less-traveled? Very possibly. But hanging around the neighborhood instead of traveling overseas might not be so bad. There’s always the Discovery Channel … for now.

Clay Evans, guest editor for the Camera editorial board

Financial Times: Preparing for the age of peak oil

Published: April 16 2008 19:16 | Last updated: April 16 2008 19:16

Russia’s vast oil and gas reserves were seen not so long ago as the best hope of meeting growing world energy demand. No more. This week a top Russian oil executive echoed earlier official warnings that oil production could fall for the first time in a decade.

An output slump would hit consuming nations hard by sending international oil prices even higher. Russia would lose out too by forgoing tax revenues. But Moscow can prevent this – and create the conditions for a recovery in production.

In Russia, the problem is not so much a lack of oil but an investment drought. This has been caused by high taxes and hostile treatment of foreign and some domestic companies by a government reasserting control over its energy sector.

Russia will have to act quickly if it is to avoid a long-term decline in oil output. Bringing on stream untapped reserves in the Arctic and eastern Siberia will take years.

The government should therefore cut production taxes steeply. Only a large tax reduction will stimulate spending on domestic supply infrastructure. As long as there is little incentive to develop hard-to-access oil deposits at home, Russian energy firms will continue to make acquisitions abroad. The estimated $4bn extra a year that would be available to the industry under current proposals is a tiny fraction of what companies will need if they are to mitigate the output loss from declining fields in western Siberia.

The uncertainty over ownership rights to fields has to be resolved as well. This is as much a deterrent to domestic as to foreign investment. Western companies are rightly suspicious of the state’s motives. The official explanation for last month’s police raid on TNK-BP, the oil venture 50 per cent owned by BP, was alleged industrial espionage. But the suspicion remains that it was a ruse for Gazprom to be given a stake in the company.

Russia has much to gain by exploiting western expertise and technology. Foreign firms will compete fiercely for opportunities. But if it drives them out, Russia will be unable to revitalise its decayed supply network. There are signs the government understands this. US-based ExxonMobil, which has led the Sakhalin-1 development, is optimistic that stand-offs can be resolved.

Much can be done in the short term to stabilise falling output and ensure that a managed decline does not become a precipitous one. Moscow should swiftly pass delayed laws that define sectors where foreign involvement will be limited. It should press on with privatisation of state-controlled assets. Anything less would be a mistake.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2008


Bloomberg: Pickens Reverses Position to Bet on Higher Oil Prices (Update4)

By Daniel Whitten

April 17 (Bloomberg) — Boone Pickens, a billionaire energy investor, said he reversed course and is betting the price of crude oil will rise.

Pickens, 79, the founder and chairman of Dallas-based BP Capital LLC, said today in a speech at Georgetown University that the price of crude will only continue to climb and demand will eventually be dampened.

“The position is long, not short,” Pickens told reporters after his speech. “I covered the short position, it was a mistake on my part. We missed.”

Crude oil futures in New York touched $115.54 a barrel today, the highest intraday price since trading began in 1983.

Investors looking for higher returns have flocked to commodities. Oil in New York surged 82 percent over the past year as the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index dropped 7.4 percent and the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 1.2 percent.

Pickens said he thought oil was approaching $125 a barrel. Oil will eventually reach $150 per barrel, he said, while cautioning “I won’t be investing in $150 oil.”

Pickens said his BP Capital Energy Equity Fund fell 21 percent in the first quarter of this year. Since 2001, the fund has grown 800 percent, he said.

World oil supplies won’t exceed 85 million barrels a day because of high depletion rates of existing wells, he said in his speech. This supports his belief in a climbing price.

Global Supplies

“There is only 85 million barrels of oil globally in the market coming a day and I don’t think you can increase that 85 million,” Pickens said.

World oil demand during the four years ending 2008 is rising at an average annualized pace of about 1.4 percent, according to International Energy Agency forecasts.

Over the same period, non-OPEC oil supply is seen climbing at a slower pace of 0.9 percent. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries has this year been reluctant to commit to pumping more, saying supply and demand are in balance.

Pickens endorsed Republican presidential candidate John McCain, while criticizing his energy policies. Recent McCain proposals to stop putting oil into the federal Strategic Petroleum Reserve and to suspend a gasoline tax for the summer wouldn’t be good for the country, Pickens said.

“I’m hoping he will become better informed and come up with better ideas about energy than he has up to now,” he said.

He plans to invest $10 billion in 4,000 megawatts of wind projects within the next several years.

“We are going to put a lot of money into wind next month,” Pickens said, adding he expects at least a 25 percent return on his investment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Daniel Whitten in Washington at

Last Updated: April 17, 2008 15:38 EDT




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