Tuesday, March 8, 2011

How to respond to turmoil in the global energy sector!

Dear Colleagues

The increasing turmoil in the oil producing countries around the world has huge risks for the continuing improvement of the US economy. To maintain profits and cash flow, many companies will very soon cut back on their investments, and consumers will cut back all they can on their consumption. It is not time for the same old same old, but time to move into a post-cheap_energy society that presently exists and get ready for tomorrow!

The following came in my email today. It was an idea used a little bit a couple of years back. Someone responded to the idea ... also below, and I have responded as well. The third item below!

This was sent by a retired Coca Cola executive. It came from one of his engineer buddies who retired from Halliburton. If you are tired of the gas prices going up AND they will continue to rise this summer, take time to read this please.

Phillip Hollsworth offered this good idea. This makes MUCH MORE SENSE than the "don't buy gas on a certain day" campaign that was going around last April or May! It's worth your consideration. Join the resistance!!!!

I hear we are going to hit close to $ 4.00 a gallon by next summer and it might go higher!! Want gasoline prices to come down?

We need to take some intelligent, united action. The oil companies just laughed at that because they knew we wouldn't continue to "hurt" ourselves by refusing to buy gas .

It was more of an inconvenience to us than it was a problem for them. BUT, whoever thought of this idea, has come up with a plan that can Really work. Please read on and join with us!

By now you're probably thinking gasoline priced at about $2.00 is super cheap. Me too! It is currently $3.08 at Arco and Costco for regular unleaded in Salem , Oregon and climbing every week.

Now that the oil companies and the OPEC nations have conditioned us to think that the cost of a gallon of gas is CHEAP at $1.50 - $1.75, we need to take aggressive action to teach them that BUYERS control the marketplace..not sellers.

With the price of gasoline going up more each day, we consumers need to take action.

The only way we are going to see the price of gas come down is if we hit someone in the pocketbook by not purchasing their gas! And, we can do that WITHOUT hurting ourselves.

How? Since we all rely on our cars, we can't just stop buying gas.

But we CAN have an impact on gas prices if we all act together to force a price war.

Here's the idea: For the rest of this year, DON'T purchase ANY gasoline from the two biggest companies (which now are one), EXXON and MOBIL.

If they are not selling any gas, they will be inclined to reduce their prices. If they reduce their prices, the other companies will have to follow suit.

But to have an impact, we need to reach literally millions of Exxon and Mobil gas buyers. It's really simple to do! Now, don't wimp out on me at this point...keep reading and I'll explain how simple it is to reach millions of people!!

I am sending this note to 30 people. If each of us send it to at least ten more (30 x 10 = 300) ... and those 300 send it to at least ten more (300 x 10 = 3,000)... and so on, by the time the message reaches the sixth group of people, we will have reached over THREE MILLION consumers .
If those three million get excited and pass this on to ten friends each, then 30 million people will have been contacted!

If it goes one level further, you guessed it..... THREE HUNDRED MILLION PEOPLE!!!

Again, all you have to do is send this to 10 people. That's all!

(If you don't understand how we can reach 300 million and all you have to do is send this to 10 people.... Well, let's face it, you just aren't a mathematician But I am . so trust me on this one.

How long would all that take? If each of us sends this e-mail out to ten more people within one day of receipt, all 300 MILLION people could conceivably be contacted within the next 8 days!

I'll bet you didn't think you and I had that much potential, did you! Acting together we can make a difference.

If this makes sense to you, please pass this message on. I suggest that we not buy from EXXON/MOBIL UNTIL THEY LOWER THEIR PRICES TO THE $2.00 RANGE AND KEEP THEM DOWN. THIS CAN REALLY WORK.

Someone responded to this as follows. I was delighted to see someone looking hard at the issues in a more comprehensive way. I have not shown his name at this juncture, but hope to be in contact with him soon.
Dear xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

This is an excellent plan.

Unfortunately, though, its basic premise is misguided. Low gas prices are exactly the opposite of what we need. We will not rid ourselves of our dependency on this non-renewable, environmentally disastrous resource by focusing our efforts on driving down its prices. Continued reliance on hydrocarbon fuels is a losers game.

The only way to really change things is to accelerate work on finding more efficient, cleaner, and more renewable energy sources. As long as we keep gas prices low, there is little motivation for entrepreneurs and large energy companies to do so. What we need to do is help create an economic environment in which it makes sense to invest in the new and better energy technologies.

For consumers to be motivated by exactly the same kind of short-term, self-interested thinking that they abhor in industry is folly. It's like the luddites smashing looms.

Following the action plan proposed by Ms Mates may produce short term relief, but it is sure to produce long term grief.

I urge you to think it through.

Signed xxxxx
I have responded as follows. My response has some of the perspective that is built into TrueValueMetrics.
Dear Colleagues

Thank you, xxxxx for raising this question. The United States, and to a lesser extent Europe have created extremely energy intensive societies at the same time that they have created amazing innovations in productivity.

Sadly the metrics that are used to measure progress of society are fatally flawed. Corporate performance is simply money profit, with society better when it is bigger ... higher GDP, more consumption, higher stock market ... etc etc.

But society really is about quality of life ... happiness, reduced worry, family and friends, jobs, income, retirement, safety and security, good health, good education, good opportunities, beauty, spiritual support, etc. The metrics for this are conspicuously absent from the everyday dialog about economic and business performance.

In a responsible society there would be a financial reserve set aside so that we have the funding for energy when the FREE oil resources are gone. Norway is doing this. Kuwait has been doing this since the 1970s which explains why they had the money to pay the USA and others to get Iraq out of their country in the early 1990s! But the USA runs on low price energy that cannot last. The emergence of China and India as middle class economies changes the demand equation ... and people's democracy in most of the oil producing countries will change the supply equation. If there is war in the oil producing areas then supply equation is even more compromised.

The oil industry engineers are technologically amazing ... but they are not good corporate citizens for the United States, the places where they operate or the planet as a whole. They can find and exploit new resources better now than in the past, but they are merely facilitating more rapid consumption of these finite limited resources. Their profits and payout to their stockholders are based on accounting that puts ZERO cost on the oil in the ground. The reality is that these zero cost natural resources have taken a zillion years to produce, and one day we will have to be doing that in real time to have energy equilibrium for the planet.

Does this matter? You bet it does. In my own little way I want to see better metrics so that the real issues that we ought to be facing are in play!

Peter Burgess

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