Will Blog for Experience: Peter

I'm a student blogger for Experience.com and if my blog gets the most readers out of these 5 blogs I will be going to Washington, D.C. for a job shadow at the Department of Energy, courtesy of CBCampus. Experience is a career site specifically for college students & alumni. They provide extraordinary job opportunities, real-world insights, and a network of inspirational role-models to help students explore and launch careers they love. Keep reading my blog if you want me to lead this challenge!

Experience, Inc.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007



Climate Change to Blame


The UN Millennium Development Goals. Remember those? It's an ambitious plan to halve hunger by 2015, to say the least, which surprisingly has run into a few problems before reaching its aim. The greatest threat to reaching these goals in the near future has been identified as climate change, but let's be honest. We cannot predict sustained weather patterns from year to year regardless of supposed climate change. Carbon emissions may perpetuate potential adverse changes in temperature, rainfall, and sea level; but overall we cannot determine what will be or not be a fruitful farming season.

Admittedly, it will only be harder to determine what 2007 will hold in terms of pronounced climate fluctuations. We can't forget that the Earth is NOT stagnant: it never was and it never will be. There will be earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, typhoons, lightning storms and tornados until the end of time. So how do we determine what storms are caused by our carbon carelessness or are natural expressions of the Earth's volatile nature?

We can't. This is a great thing though because everybody wins (except for the extremely impoverished)! Politicians who act now against climate change will win favor from voters (see Arnold), religious leaders can press the issue of stewardship of the Earth, and we can push for the end of our dependency of foreign oil. Without arguing over the magnitude of climate change or the validity of its existence, I am in favor of the popular push for energy security and environmental security.


How do we achieve this delicate balance? Aren't energy security and environmental security at opposing ends? If we want sustainable, affordable energy in the near future we need to expand our capacity and increase production. Make no mistake; both will have a significant effect on the environment.On the other hand, if we want environmental security we need to develop schemes and policy that will help us along.

Whether it's carbon trading structures like that in Europe or mandating carbon emission caps like in California; control is a matter for governments (at the macro level).Let's start by saying that in 2007 our resolution will be to be economical when it comes to our use of energy. It's sort of like that butterfly that flutters its wings and causes a tidal wave half way across the globe.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Consequences of Oil Dependency


One immediately thinks of Iran, Russia, Iraq and Venezuela when speaking of energy security. The steadily increasing dependency on oil for energy has implications not only for America, but for the global economy. What we want to find out is how America will fair during this period.In this respect, America is concerned with losing face. Our diminished ability to influence Iran coupled with Russia's blatant exertion of its influence of natural resources over its neighbors has created an air of helplessness, temporarily, and an increased sense of political mortality.

It is important to highlight the fact that rising energy costs influence everyone. As the world's largest consumers of energy [America] we tend to feel the market fluctuation of cost much more than other global consumers. The recent demand driven price hike in commodities is something that we should use to wake us out of our complacency. The reason is at the heart of the issue; oil dependency undermines America's ability to influence other countries.When looking at this issue you obviously take into consideration the effects of supply and demand.

How do we abate demand in a way to prolonging the use of current levels of oil production? Some of the most common and popular suggestions are alternative fuels such as ethanol, electricity, corn and peanut oil, nuclear, etc. In reality, none of these suggestions are a practical replacement for fossil fuels...at the moment. What we do now, however will begin to bear fruit a decade or more down the line and that is why these alternatives are important. In addition, we can also temper our personal use of energy in order to shrink our "carbon footprint" on the Earth. In a very brief and very crude nutshell; this is what we can do on our end to alleviate the pressures of possibly permanent higher fuel costs.

The other side to this story is supply. In this, you and I can do very little to change it. Fossil fuels are a finite resource and the only question that remains is a matter of when, not if, it will diminish. Some say that the time of $50 barrels of oil are gone and that we are reaching peak production for "cheap" oil. It doesn't take much to realize that if the supply of oil on the market is kept at current levels or reduced, that it would in turn, increase the price (per barrel) of oil. So...why would you [a member of OPEC for instance] have any impetus whatsoever to increase production?


The answer is, "You don't." Oil exporting countries can do two things to increase supply in the market. They can increase production in their existing oil fields or they can continue to explore new fields to meet the increasing global demand. The problem with the latter is that it takes time. A new field found today won't start moving barrels for at least a decade. In the near term then we are left with not many options to increase supply. Unfortunately, it looks like the burden will have to fall on the laps of you and me to economize our own use of energy.

Perhaps it's the threat of climate change, threats to the animal population, or the affordability of living a lifestyle of consumption that we've grown accustomed; whatever your personal motivating factor is remember that we can only influence our own use of energy. At the same time there is absolutely no promise that the cost of oil will continue to drop or sustain at its current levels. Furthermore, the effects on our environment caused by carbon emissions will begin to show themselves more as time goes on (around the same time that prices should be at all time highs by most estimates). Make no mistake, in a few years we will be asking ourselves these same set of questions, but by then the situation will be much dire and much more apparent than it seems to be now.

Friday, December 15, 2006

The Worth of Water


Water is not a commodity. Not yet. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Water is used to generate energy and accounts for 7% of total U.S. electricity generation and 75% of generation from renewables. The means by which water is used (most familiar to you and I ) are through dams or hydro-electric turbines and generators. Water, however, also extracts large amounts energy before it reaches homes and businesses. Extracting, purifying, pumping and transporting drinking water, heating water for domestic and other use, and treating and disposing of wastewater are all activities that use energy.


Increasingly; the costs of water management have been rising. Partly due to the increasing demand for H20 and also the lack of a viable infrastructure to meet these needs. Water demand doubles every 20 years and large part of that increasing demand is in the way we manage our use of it. The biggest culprits are countries lacking water infrastructure and growing economies such as China and India (which fall into both categories). One example is the amount of water used to make the materials from which buildings and ships are built. China uses 7 times more water than the US to produce 1 ton of steel because they do not have a water recycling program in place or functioning infrastructure to treat water to be recycled.Like I said, Water is not a commodity, but if it were - it would be double its current price. On average, the price of water has raised much faster than inflation, which is a call to who other than..., the private sector.


The private sector will increasingly have a hand in developing the lacking infrastructure. It only seems logical when one looks at how much it will cost to develop these systems in developing countries and emerging economies. The estimate floats ominously at around, well, hundreds of billions of dollars. Governments and municipalities cannot manage these exorbitant costs and keep pace with other areas of development, but they will need these systems in place in order to fully grow their economies.America too, suffers from a horrifyingly aged water system. Some parts of our water infrastructure were built over 100 years ago. Can anyone say, "plastics?" Don't hold your breathe though. Right now the West is busy solving China's water challenges with help of the Chinese government. Water companies from Europe and America are investing into China water solutions and the Chinese government is investing 125 billion dollars of its own over the next decade. Jakarta alone, a city of 14 million people is operating on a water infrastructure built for 500,000 people.


"Water doesn't exist where it's needed." - Benjamin Tal

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Devil's Advocate


It's a good thing Venezuela's recently re-elected President Hugo Chavez is taking his lessons from Jesus Christ. He recently told reporters in Caracas that if "Jesus Christ talked to the devil. We can do it too."

President Chavez joins the list of OPEC members calling for a decrease in oil production as to increase its cost in the market. Since 1998 oil revenues have quadrupled for Venezuela and the windfall has encouraged a 9% yearly growth in GDP.

As we all know; what a President does domestically is only a part of how he/she is perceived. Foreign policy counts for a lot when it comes to a leader's political clout. President Chavez' recent shenanigans doesn't quite build his credibility with the international community. Unfortunately for Chavez the price of oil has been in a steady decline and futures indicate that same trend.

But haven't we seen this before? There is another group of populist leaders who have no qualms putting etiquette aside and attacking their perceived opponents. Despite sitting on gargantuan oil revenues Mr. Chavez should begin focusing on the monumental problems his country faces within its borders rather than the "devils" outside of it. It is true that other leaders from oil rich countries are a bit more subdued than Chavez. Save for Russia, they seem more content with reaping the benefits of winning the geographical lottery and exerting their influence in other ways.

Moment of Reflection (Part 1)


I can't help but feel for George H. Bush when I see this.

Lacking the Black Stuff


My name is Peter Karellas and I'm a recent graduate of Pace University in New York. I'll be blogging over the next month about issues related to US Energy policy and anything else that catches my fancy.

I hope you all enjoy what I have to share and if you don't; tell me so!


I recently returned from an 11-month research tour of the Republic of Macedonia and the Balkan region. Stories abound, here are few short bits of my time in Eastern Europe. Hard to believe that this small, landlocked country of only 2m people was recently on the brink of civil war in 2001. Since then, the economy has remained mostly stagnant with little privatizations or foreign investment.

What's more unsettling is that since I departed in October 2006, the former leader of Albanian guerilla fighters (Ali Ahmeti) has hinted that if his ousted political party (which won 60% of the vote in the recent election) is not given it's proper recognition, they may take up arms again. Macedonia is used to being ignored. Although tiny, Macedonia can influence countries surrounding it (Albania) by becoming and open wound of ethnic conflict in the region.


More than likely these are just empty innuendos by Ahmeti sympathizers and at any rate, would not harm the oil/gas pipeline being developed through the region. The pipeline would originate from the oil rich Black Sea in Bulgaria, through Macedonia and end up at the Albanian coast on the Adriatic.

At the same time the good ol' US of A is getting comfy on the couch and building a state of the art embassy atop a hill in the Macedonian capital of Skopje. The Bourgas-Vlora oil pipeline will be 870 km long and its transportation capacity will be 35 million tons of oil annually. Overall, this project will cost nearly 1.2 billion euro and is being financed primarily by the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) - a US development agency - the Eximbank and Credit Suisse First Boston, among others.