World oil production and consumption

As of 2010, the latest year for accumulated figures, the top ten oil producers are:

The numbers associated with each producer is the figure for thousands of barrels of oil per day. This is an average production number across the year.

The consumers of that oil?

A great site for energy production and consumption statistics is here at the US Energy Information Agency.

2012 the year of infrastructure

There is a strong and growing concern for infrastructure development, repair, and change in the United States and abroad. News media and political campaigns have joined professional engineering societies and regional development groups to call for renovation and renewed focus on energy, transportation, water and other infrastructures.

Internationally there are major efforts in China, South Korea, Malaysia, Indian and several African countries to expand and rebuild infrastructure systems. Pipeline projects connecting Canada and the US are also gaining wider notice as changes in gas development technologies makes more resources available but access remains limited without adequate transportation conduits. Government and industry leaders in the UK and EU are wrestling with a lack of comprehensive and scalable approaches to maintaining what exists or building new capacity.

The global recession hampered public-private funding efforts for large projects and long deferred maintenance has become a critical problem in every corner of the world. Global project development firms like Booz Allen are making more public, more widely promoted statements about moving forward in key infrastructure projects like transportation and energy.

In a new online and traditional media push leaders at Booz Allen are pressing for change. “Much of America’s critical infrastructure is failing—threatening our economic growth, national competitiveness and even our national security. In the past, we excelled at imagining infrastructure—witness the Erie Canal and the national highway system—and now we need to re-imagine America’s infrastructure with new ways of approaching the issues.”

Groups like the American Society for Civil Engineers now routinely make headlines with their evaluations of transportation and water infrastructure systems with “report cards” filled with bad and failing grades. Political posturing in the US, not something new, stopped different proposals for funding from moving through the legislature.

But the coming year may see changes in public and political stances on infrastructure systems. Elections in the US and elsewhere may force these often neglected systems into a spotlight.

Essential energy and power information resources

world oil pricesEnergy pricing and market data. The US Energy Information Administration, the statistical agency for the U.S. Department of Energy, has created an online pricing data and market information system online here.

The EIA collects information, analyzes prices, and disseminates energy information to trading markets, policy makers, and the public. The access to, and cost of, energy is of obvious importance to modern society. The EIA is important because it is a primary source of energy information and, by law, its data, analyses, and forecasts are independent of approval by any other officer or employee of the United States government.

best energy booksThe following is a list of the best books on the basic concepts and fundamental issues of energy, energy production, and the systems society uses to power itself.

Energy Transitions: History, Requirements, Prospects by Vaclav Smil. Smil is a prolific and phenomenal writer. He is on the faculty of Environment at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada. His interdisciplinary research covers a broad area of energy, environmental, food, population, economic, historical and public policy studies. Smil is also the author of one of the foundation textbooks in the field:Energy at the Crossroads: Global Perspectives and Uncertainties.  For beginners, or co-workers and staff who need to get up to speed on these issues quickly, Smil compiled a series of his essays in Energies: An Illustrated Guide to the Biosphere and Civilization.

A remarkably clear and cogent overview of energy issues and the economics of energy and power production is ENERGY: The Master Resource by Robert Bradley and Richard Fulmer. The book is set up as a textbook, but is written more engagingly and has excellent infographics. The sources cited alone are worth the cost of the book. Bradley and Fulmer (who also blog at systematically cover the systems of energy production and distribution, but go beyond describing the technology and explore the economics of each component part, including many different alternatives.

For an aggressive alternative view of ‘green’ energy solutions there’s Robert Bryce’s Power Hungry: The Myths of “Green” Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future. While you may argue with his tone and occasional outspoken comments, his basic argument centers on four imperatives for any energy system redesign “power density, energy density, cost and scale.” These key considerations come up again and again in the literature from either side of the green energy issue.