Buy and Hoard Fossil Fuel

Part 26 of my third global warming science fiction novel “Last Week”. Link to Part 01: “Back To Paradise Era”.

Sunday, February 13, 2023, 12:57 P.M.

“That was excellent,” Angel said. “It was a good idea to order the sweet and sour pork once more.”

“I guess it was. I’m happy you liked it,” Satoshi said.

They were having some coffee after they had finished their meal, sitting in the hotel restaurant with a great view over Waikiki beach.

“So, now we come to the decisive moment of my mission to save the World from the dual threat of global meltdown and the Moros 27 asteroid impact,” Angel said. “Are you ready to hear the solution?”

“I sure am,” Satoshi said. “I’ve been waiting for this all week.”

“Okay. First off, let’s state a couple of obvious points about my part in solving these little problems, and about your part,” Angel said.

Satoshi said nothing. He waited for her to go on.

“For one, your help will be necessary for this mission to succeed. Are you ready to help me?” Angel said.

“Yes,” Satoshi said. “If I can help, I will.”

“It may require you to come out as the World’s richest person later on. A great sacrifice on your part. Would you be ready to do that?” Angel asked.

“I am not sure about that, if you want to know the truth,” Satoshi said. “I really don’t like the idea. I would need to live surrounded by security people and chased by the media for the rest of my life. And Khalmorot advised me against coming out. I would like to listen to his advice. He has given me so much.”

“I see. And I understand, of course. It is a big sacrifice. I know. Getting chased by those paparazzi all the time is really a big drawback of being famous. But you would help, as long as you could avoid coming out?”

“I sure will,” Satoshi said. “If I can use most of my bitcoins for this mission, they will be spent very well. I don’t need so much for me personally anyway. Actually I think this alien guy Khalmorot gave me the Bitcoin network exactly for that purpose. He must have known that you would find me later on.”

“Interesting. That may well be,” Angel said. “Now, for my involvement in the mission. As you know, I will die tomorrow night. It is of course utterly impossible for me to personally see how the solution will work out. I can’t hope to see with my own eyes how CO2 goes back to less than 280 ppM, the value before the industrial revolution. It will take many decades for my solution to actually achieve that success. I don’t have many decades. I only have until tomorrow.”

“So that explains why you didn’t do much of anything until now,” Satoshi said. “You’ll just tell me how to do it, and leave the rest to me.”

“Exactly. Though you won’t be the only one I’m telling it. I’ll get it out on the blog tomorrow, for everyone to see. But you’ll hear it first. And you’ll be one of the first to help actually enact it. Just like with buying bitcoins, it will be wildly profitable to be involved early on.”

“What?” Satoshi protested. “You want to make me even richer? I’ve already got much more than I can ever eat.” He frowned.

“You might not like the idea. I understand that. But there are plenty of others who will like making some money while saving the planet. And there’s one other thing,” Angel explained. “Part of the money to be made from this solution needs to get invested in a serious space development and asteroid deflection program. Don’t forget about Moros 27.”

“So, what’s the big idea? How are you going to solve global warming with only one day left to live?” Satoshi asked.

“Okay. Let’s explain the basics first,” Angel said. “What do you know about the global warming problem?”

“Not much, I’m afraid. I’ve never written even one book about that,” Satoshi said.

“It’s very easy to understand. Listen. Global warming comes from burning fossil fuel, like oil, coal, and gas. So if we want to stop the process we need to do what?”

“Stop burning fossil fuel.”

“Of course. Actually we’ve known for more than a decade that most of the known reserves need to stay exactly where they are. They need to stay in the ground. Permanently,” Angel explained.

“I see.”

“So, the big question is, exactly which fossil fuel will be off-limits? Is there any way to make sure that some of the reserves are never burnt?”

“That makes sense,” Satoshi said.

“Actually there is. Let’s take an easy example first. Have you ever heard about the Strategic Oil Reserve?”

“No. What’s that?”

“The government of most developed states has such a reserve. It’s a security measure against temporary interruptions of supply, for example as a consequence of a war. The government buys some oil and stores it somewhere.”

“What’s that got to do with leaving oil in the ground?”

“Well, that oil in the strategic reserve won’t be burned. It is off the market, which is exactly what we need to make happen, just on a much larger scale. So it’s a model case for the solution.”

“And how do you want to get that to happen on a larger scale?” Satoshi asked.

“One way of making it happen is to have fossil fuel companies reduce their production. If our friend John Baker of Non Standard Oil decides that they’ll stop production from the Canadian tar sands they own, the oil there won’t be burned.”

“Why would he do such a thing? I heard somewhere they had a lot of trouble getting the pipelines built a decade ago. Why would they stop selling their oil now? It doesn’t make sense.”

“Actually, it does make sense. I call it ‘Phaseout Profit’. Do you know how long it took for nature to build the stock of fossil fuels humanity burns in one year right now?” Angel asked.

“No.”

“Over five million years. Your great life in Paradise Era basically is due to that simple fact. Humanity is consuming the savings of the planet at a rate of five million times over the fair share of this generation. One thing is clear. Eventually, fossil fuel will run out,” Angel said.

“Yes. Of course,” Satoshi said. “Nobody can deny that fact.”

“Now, the interesting thing is that before it will run out, it will become much more expensive. Just as bitcoin prices have gone up massively, fossil fuel prices will go up massively as well. Do you understand what that means for Non Standard Oil?” Angel asked.

“No. What does it mean?”

“They are stupid if they sell all their tar sand oil at the rock bottom prices of around $250 right now. They should let those reserves sit idle for another thirty years. Our historical record shows that oil is up to $700 in 2053. Anybody selling oil now at present prices is losing a lot of money, just as anybody who sold you 10,000 bitcoins in 2010 for 50 dollars lost a lot of money. It’s really easy to understand for you if you compare it to bitcoins,” Angel said.

“Yes. I get that,” Satoshi said.

“So, what Non Standard Oil and all the other fossil fuel companies should do, they should listen to Theo and Roberto and reduce their production every year by a large percentage. Do you understand what that would mean for their prices?” Angel asked.

“Of course. That’s really simple. If you take supply down, prices will go up.” Satoshi said.

“And if prices go up, what happens to the value of an oil resource like the Canadian tar sands? Might that go up as well?”

“Of course it would,” Satoshi said.

“It’s just like bitcoins. You don’t need to actually sell any bitcoins for traditional money, or buy something with your bitcoins to make a profit. You can just buy it, and hold it.”

“That’s exactly what I’ve done for the last decade. So you’re telling me I can do the same thing with fossil fuel?” Satoshi asked.

“Exactly. Non Standard Oil should do what the environmentalists want them to do. They would make a ton of money in the process. That’s ‘Phaseout Profit Theory’,” Angel explained.

“So, you want me to buy the majority of the Non Standard Oil stock and order John Baker to start this ‘Phaseout Profit’ thing?” Satoshi said. “I probably would need to come out to do that.”

“No. We’ll explain it to him and the other fossil fuel companies of course. They’ll understand it. They’re not stupid. You don’t get to the top of the most profitable companies in history if you’re stupid,” Angel said.

“So what is my role there? I don’t own any fossil fuel company stock,” Satoshi said.

“It’s easy. You should start something I call the ‘Buy&Hoard’ investment fund.”

“What would that be?” Satoshi said.

“It’s easy. Just buy some oil and coal. And hold it for at least three decades. Just like buying bitcoins in 2010 and holding them for a decade.”

“There seems to be a slight problem with that,” Satoshi said. “Bitcoins are easy to store. All I need is the Perfect Purse. Even a paper wallet is enough. With oil, I would need massive storage facilities.”

“You would need that. I must admit it. But it has been done before. The Japanese strategic oil reserve program is run to a large part by private corporations right now. They hold about 40 percent of the reserve. Of course they need some tanks for that. But they still profit from the fact that the value of oil has gone up more than they needed to pay for the cost of storage. And there is an even easier solution,” Angel said.

“What’s that?” Satoshi said.

“Just buy the fossil fuel while it is still in the ground. Buy the rights to mine coal some place or other from whoever is holding those rights in the first place. Then wait for at least thirty years before the first ton of coal is actually dug out. And make it clear that only 20 percent of that will ever be available for burning. The rest will only be used as raw material for the petrochemical industry. With that setup, you have no cost of storage, and no cost of mining, which means you can buy the fossil fuel much cheaper, and hold it at basically no cost. Then lie back and watch the value of your mining rights go up. Repeat with other sites and watch how the value goes up even more, because more fossil fuel is off the market for a couple of decades. It’s very easy, once you realize the potential for profit from phasing out fossil fuel,” Angel explained.

“Sounds interesting. I may be able to do it,” Satoshi said. “However, I’m not sure I can do it without coming out.”

“I’m not sure either. It would be most inconvenient for you if you had to tell the World that you are the richest person ever. I’m sorry for that. I really am. But maybe you can work out some anonymous way of doing this,” Angel said.

“I’ll think about it. Compared to your sacrifice, mine would be a small one to make. I’ve already enjoyed over a decade of anonymous wealth. I might give the other alternative a try. It probably would help sales of my books,” Satoshi said.

Link to part 27: Thusnelda Sneeze

Published by kflenz

Professor at Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo. Author of Lenz Blog (since 2003, lenzblog.com).

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