Many of my favorite people (that’s you, dear Gumshoe readers) have been asking me about the latest pitch from Brian Hicks for his $20 Trillion Report … perhaps because, in this time of oil uncertainty (both on the demand side in Japan, and on the production side in the Middle East), oil is making headlines again and the subject line on this teaser email I received was the pithy “Canada to OPEC: Terrorize THIS.”
Hard to resist, eh? For me, too, so I thought I should dig in and sniff out the answers for you. Here’s how the ad opens:
“Just in the nick of time… Alberta Taps World’s Last and Largest Great Oil Reserve”
Hicks even spins the tale of his visit to Alberta, giving us the kind of descriptive tale of dread (from his helicopter ride) and awe (at the fabulous natural resources he saw) that we’ve gotten accustomed to seeing from most of the newsletter jockeys who boast of their “boots on the ground” research, just to remind you that the subscription bucks you’re paying are really doing something cool.
(That differs from any membership payments you might make for the Stock Gumshoe Irregulars, by the way — I’m not getting into a helicopter whether or not you pay your $49, it’s “buns in the chair” research for your friendly neighborhood Gumshoe.)
Here’s a little taste of his story from the ad, just to get you in the mood:
“Somewhere in that thick green overgrowth, the future of the industrialized world lay dormant.
“We touched down about an hour later in a gravelly clearing encircled by some dark rock formations.
“I could smell the pine as the electric door slid open and the frame stairway descended.
“But that wasn’t the only thing in the air…
“My host, a man whom I cannot name publicly due to fiduciary obligation, took no more than three steps from the chopper before he bent down and picked up a stone.
“It was round and black, about the size of a grown man’s fist.
“He took a whiff of it, smiled, and tossed it to me.
“‘Give it a try,’ he said to me.
“But I didn’t need to. Because I’d recognized the unmistakable stench the moment the door had opened — not just in my hand, but all around us.
“The chopper’s rotor hadn’t even stopped spinning, and we’d already struck oil… a lot of it.
“The gravity of the moment made the hair stand up on my back.
“Because right underneath our feet, locked in a hunk of land about the size of the state of Pennsylvania…
“Lay an oil resource holding an estimated 1.71 trillion barrels.
“That’s enough to satisfy world demand for as long as 40 years.”
After that, we get several pages of tease — the big story about increasing oil demand, peak oil, rising prices in the years go come, and the difficulty of finding big new oil reserves and the desperation of the oil majors like ExxonMobil to replace their reserves.
And Hicks tells us that the company he’s picking, though it’s not tiny, could grow up to be the next Exxon or BP … in his words,
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“In the next few minutes, I’m going to tell you about a young, cutting-edge company that’s finally perfected a process which gives it access to almost 100% of the world’s largest remaining major fossil fuel resource.”
So … who is it? And what’s the patented breakthrough that will lead to their massive profits? Let’s think on that together, shall we?
The heart of this tease, the huge oil reserves, are of course the estimated 1.7 trillion barrels of crude locked in the Alberta oil sands. They’ve been producing oil from the oil sands for many years, of course, though it’s expensive and dirty work, but we’re told that this new technology will make much more of that crude accessible:
“It wasn’t until very recently that the technology to effectively harvest oil from these geological formations was developed…
“A technology pioneered by a unique young mining company determined to take advantage of the almost immeasurable wealth hidden underneath the Canadian soil.
“Within several years, this hungry young company will make all of today’s oil empires obsolete.”
So what’s the problem? You’ve probably seen the pictures of the giant strip mining operations in the oil sands, run by folks like Suncor (SU) as they essentially dig up the bituminous sand and take it elsewhere fo