Drumbeat: July 6, 2013

Egypt crisis: Oil giants BP and BG Group withdraw expat staff as violent clashes erupt

Oil giants BP and BG Group have pulled about 160 expatriate staff out of Egypt as violent clashes erupt across the country.

BP said it had withdrawn about 60 people, leaving only 40 essential expat workers in the country.

BG Group, which usually has about 150 expat staff and dependents in Egypt, said it had withdrawn about 100 people.

Egypt Death Toll Reaches 36 as Troops Deployed to Stem Violence

The death toll from a day of street battles across Egypt mounted to 36 as troops deployed in flashpoints, anticipating new violence between opponents of deposed President Mohamed Mursi and his Islamist backers.

The country’s interim president, installed by the military, met today with Defense Minister GeneralAbdelfatah al-Seesiand Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim, who oversees the police force, following the overnight clashes, the Associated Press reported. In addition to those killed, more than 1,000 people were wounded in the fighting, Mohammad Sultan, deputy head of Egypt’s ambulance authority, said in an e-mailed statement.

Egypt: Interim president meets with army chief

CAIRO (AP) — Egypt's interim president held talks Saturday with the army chief and interior minister following an outburst of violence between supporters and opponents of ousted leader Mohammed Morsi that killed at least 36 people across the country and deepened the battle lines in the divided nation.

Three days after the military pushed out Morsi, Egypt's first democratically elected leader, the country appears to be careening toward further conflict and turmoil. Morsi's supporters have vowed to take to the streets until the toppled Islamist leader is reinstated, while his opponents have called for more mass rallies to defend what they call the "gains of June 30," a reference to the start of massive protests to call for the ouster of the president.

Egypt: A nation divided

Cairo (CNN) -- Three days after a coup that overthrew the nation's first democratically elected president, Egypt is a nation divided over who should lead the country and which government reflects the democratic will of the people.

Egypt A Peak Oil Revolution

What is happening or just happened in Egypt could be the first Peak Oil revolution which is sure to replicate many times over in many countries around the world. The root cause of Tahrir I as well as Tahrir II was the economic condition of Egypt which put the middle class and the working classs under severe stress and made life unbearable for them.

Tahrir II was directly caused by the widespread fuel shortages and high energy prices. It is not just the craving for democracy or the opposition to Muslim Brotherhood, that led to these revolutions, but the despeartion of the people.

WTI Rises to 14-Month High on U.S. Jobs Gain, Egypt

West Texas Intermediate crude rose to a 14-month high after the U.S. reported adding more jobs than forecast in June, boosting economic optimism, and on concern that unrest in Egypt will escalate.

Futures capped the biggest weekly gain in more than two years as the Labor Department said payrolls advanced by 195,000 workers, exceeding the 165,000 forecast in a Bloomberg survey. Egyptian security forces clashed with supporters of deposed President Mohamed Mursi in Cairo as protests broke out following his ouster by the army. Brent oil in London increased more than WTI on a report that North Sea exports will fall next month.

Gasoline Rises on U.S. Job Gains Amid Political Unrest in Egypt

Gasoline rose, heading for the first three-day rally since June 7, as the U.S. added more jobs in June than forecast and political unrest in Egypt boosted crude.

Futures advanced as the Labor Department reported nonfarm payrolls climbed by 195,000 workers for a second straight month. Crude oil increased to a 14-month high as Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood called for nationwide protests against the military-appointed government two days after the ouster of Islamist Mohamed Mursi as president.

Tankers Head for Egypt in Sign Russian-Oil Surge Spurring Demand

The number of supertankers bound for Egypt rose to the highest since at least November, prompting speculation more Middle East crude may be flowing to Europe as a result of rising prices for competing Russian grades.

U.S. State Department: A range of international oil companies interested in TAPI gas pipeline project

Turkmenistan, Ashgabat - There are a range of international oil companies who have expressed an interest in helping to develop the consortium that will help build the Turkemnistan-Afganistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert O. Blake said at press-conference in Ashgabat.

‘Conned’: a German view of Ireland

The oil off the Irish coast could be the way out of this misery. The oil could be the hope. If the former energy minister Ray Burke hadn’t rewritten the relevant laws as though the oil industry itself held the pen. And if Bertie Ahern hadn’t made an already bad deal for the Irish people even worse.

Explosion hits military unit in a Turkish province

An explosion occurred in of the military units of the Turkish province of Sanliurfa in the morning, Sabah newspaper reported on Saturday.

NIOC Finds $550 Billion Worth of Oil, Gas Reserves in One Year

TEHRAN (FNA)- The National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) announced that it discovered 552.5 billion dollars of oil and gas reserves last year, while it spent only 229 million dollars for exploration operations.

Bombs kill 22 in Iraq, Sunni leader urges Egypt-style protests

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A suicide bomber killed 15 people as they left a Shi'ite mosque in the Iraqi capital on Friday and a separate attack on Sunni protesters killed seven, police and medics said.

In Baghdad's northwestern district of Graiaat, witnesses said guards at the exit to the Shi'ite mosque stopped a woman who then blew herself up amidst worshippers leaving after sunset prayers. Suicide bombings are the hallmark of al Qaeda.

Venezuela Offers Snowden Asylum as Nicaragua Weighs Move

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro offered asylum to the fugitive U.S. security contractor Edward Snowden, setting up a potential diplomatic showdown between the U.S. and South America’s biggest oil exporter.

“We decided to grant Snowden, this figure of international human rights, protection from persecution from the most powerful empire of the world,” Maduro said yesterday in a speech at a parade commemorating Venezuela’s July 5 independence day.

TIMELINE-JPMorgan requests rehearing in California power sale fight

(Reuters) - JPMorgan Chase and Co Inc has requested a rehearing of a ruling by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) that it and other power traders benefited from a flaw in the California electricity market.

Shell Nigeria reopens pipeline, oil spilled

[LAGOS] Royal Dutch Shell has reopened the Trans Niger Pipeline after repairing a valve point and removing oil theft connections, it said on Friday, but a local environmental NGO said 6,000 barrels of oil had been spilled.

The pipeline (TNP) was closed on June 20 after an explosion and fire at a "crude theft point" deferring 150,000 barrels per day.

Twin explosions shut down Colombia's 2nd largest oil pipeline

PanARMENIAN.Net - Two explosions have shut down Colombia's 80,000 barrel-per-day Cano Limon-Covenas oil pipeline, state-controlled oil company Ecopetrol said on Friday, July 5 with a military source describing them as attacks carried out by leftist rebels, according to Reuters.

Quebec town rocked by explosions, fire after derailment

A train carrying crude oil derailed overnight in the heart of Lac-Mégantic in Quebec's Eastern Townships, sparking a major fire that has brought firefighters from the town and neighbouring municipalities to the area, and led to the evacuation of 1,000 people from their homes.

Gas line spills 25K gallons on Montana reservation

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A Phillips 66 pipeline with a record of prior accidents spilled an estimated 25,000 gallons of gasoline in a remote area outside a small town on Montana's Crow Indian Reservation, but no public health problems were anticipated, federal officials said Friday.

Survivor recalls world's worst rig disaster

It was the end of his career in the oil industry and for 25 years he never went near a platform again. The demons were too strong.

Then, just a few days ago, the former control-room operator went back on an oil rig for the first time since the destruction of Piper on July 6, 1988. It was not an easy decision for Mr Bollands and, right up until the night before, he was close to changing his mind.

Obama’s Remarks Offer Hope to Opponents of Oil Pipeline

WASHINGTON — The political ground may be shifting under the Keystone XL pipeline.

Battle Continues in a Documentary Sequel on the Perils of Fracking

Muckraking documentaries don’t often spawn sequels, but a lot has happened in the world of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, since Josh Fox released “Gasland” in 2010.

The message of Mr. Fox’s “Gasland Part II” is that while the battles over the investigation and regulation of fracking wax and wane — with the anti-regulatory forces currently on top — thousands of additional wells that use this controversial natural-gas drilling technique are being sunk.

What’s Life Like in an Entirely Car-Free Town?

Every morning, along with brushing our teeth, we fight traffic—rush hour has us eating smog, texting at red lights and honking that hallowed horn. We drive because we have to. But do we?

Meet Mackinac, Michigan. This town, located in the center of its namesake islet in Lake Huron, has existed motorcar-free for 115 years and doesn't plan on conforming any time soon.

U.S. Navy’s “Green Fleet” Sparks Praise and Cynicism

UNITED NATIONS (IPS) - The United States military, an organisation that consumes 90 percent of the country’s federal oil allowance, is trying to become a greener institution.

The U.S. Navy has said that by 2016 it will run one of its 11 carrier strike groups using biofuel. In a test run of the new approach in the Pacific Ocean, a novel mixture of jet fuel, algae and cooking grease powered FA-18 Super Hornets, a type of fighter aircraft.

Within a decade, half of the Air Force and Navy’s fuel needs will be met by alternative energy sources, according to Christopher Merrill, director of the International Writer’s Program at the University of Iowa.

The American Revolution was a flop

The easiest way of assessing whether the United States would have been better off without its revolution is to look at those English-speaking countries that rejected the American Revolution and retained the monarchy, particularly Canada, which experienced an influx of American refugees after the British defeat. The U.S. performance should also be assessed against the ideals the new country set for itself — namely, advancing life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

A Kinder, Gentler Way to Thin the Deer Herd

In an experiment to be undertaken with assistance from Tufts University’s Center for Animals and Public Policy, Hastings hopes to become the first suburb in the United States to control deer through immunocontraception, using the animal’s own immune system to prevent it from fertilizing offspring.

With Surf Like Turf, Huge Algae Bloom Befouls China Coast

BEIJING — In what has become an annual summer scourge, the coastal Chinese city of Qingdao has been hit by a near-record algae bloom that has left its popular beaches fouled with a green, stringy muck.

France's Veolia wins $402m Saudi water deals

Marafiq, a water and electricity services operator, has contracted Veolia Water to design, build and operate the largest ultrafiltration and reverse osmosis desalination plant in Saudi Arabia.

With this contract, the French firm will generate $310m in revenue for the plant's design and construction, and $92m in revenue for its operation for 10 years, with an option to extend the contract for a further 20 years, a statement said.

'The real threat to our future is peak water'

Peak oil has generated headlines in recent years, but the real threat to our future is peak water. There are substitutes for oil, but not for water. We can produce food without oil, but not without water.

Constant soaking rains a pain for NJ farmers

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -- For farmer Tom Sheppard, the transition from weeks of heavy rains in New Jersey to a forecast calling for sun and heat is welcomed news.

"We'd rather have the hot, dry weather. We can put water on where we need it," said Sheppard, who owns a farm in Cedarville, a community in southern New Jersey's Cumberland County.

Year after drought, wettest Midwest spring in 40 years delays crop planting

Last year, Midwest farmers struggled with drought; this year, it's heavy rain and sodden farmlands, which have pushed back the planting season. By contrast, farmers in the South worry about too little rain.

Amid driest conditions on record, New Mexico sweats every spark

In its third straight year of drought, New Mexico is seeing the warmest, driest conditions on record. Seven wildfires are now burning, and dry storms are yielding lightning strikes but little rain. Relief is unlikely, forecasters say.

Homes Keep Rising in West Despite Growing Wildfire Threat

The death of 19 firefighters in Arizona this week highlights what has become a fact of life in the West: Every summer, smoke fills the big skies yet people continue to build in the places that burn most. More people live in these areas, and many balk at controls on how and where to build.

“There’s a self-selection factor in there — people who don’t want the government to do things tend to move to places where the government isn’t around to do things,” said Don Elliott, a senior consultant at Clarion Associates, a land-use consulting firm.

Why overlook agriculture in considering climate change?

With the right kind of technology, Pollan believes that eating meat can actually be good for the planet. That's right: Raising livestock, if done properly, can reduce global warming. That's just one element of a paradigm shift that Pollan and other experts, including Dennis Garrity, the former director general of the World Agroforestry Center in Nairobi, Kenya, and Hans Herren of the Millennium Institute in Washington, D.C., are promoting. They believe that new agricultural methods wouldn't just reduce the volume of heat-trapping gases – they would also, and more importantly, draw down the total amount of those gases that are already in the atmosphere.

Negative for coal, is positive for oil in Obama’s climate change plan

The Obama administration has been pushing to fight global warming and one of the modes is to control the carbon emissions by the coal-fired plants. Oil and gas companies will love this plan because it will add to slumping natural gas demand (amid over supply) at the expense of coal.

Is Google Funding Climate Science Denial? Jim Inhofe Fundraiser Planned For July 11

Google’s motto is “Don’t Be Evil,” but it is supporting one of the worst deniers of climate science in the world: Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK). On July 11, Google is hosting a lunchtime $250-$2500 a plate fundraiser for Inhofe with the National Republican Senatorial Committee at its Washington, DC headquarters at 1101 New York Ave NW.

The Washington Post also recently revealed that Google was the biggest single donor to the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s annual dinner on Thursday, June 20, dropping $50,000 in support of this anti-science group. The dinner was headlined by radical global warming denier Sen. Rand Paul. CEI’s other donors include a who’s who of polluters: American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, Altria (Phillip Morris), Koch Companies, and Koch’s Americans For Prosperity. CEI is famed for its ad promoting carbon dioxide emissions: “They call it pollution. We call it life.”

Storm clouds ahead for businesses that ignore climate risks

Corporate operations, supply chains and markets are at risk. The focus for business leaders should be business continuity, competitiveness and reputation - and taking care of the people who depend upon them.

The "new normal" of climate change has implications for fixed assets, logistics, people, operations, markets and finance. These are captured in a recent Climate Change Business Forum publication titled, appropriately enough, "The New Normal: A Hong Kong Business Primer on Climate Change Adaptation". The report focuses on both international trends and case studies of local companies that are quietly preparing for future climate volatility.

Fiji: Relocation guide soon

A RELOCATION guideline will soon be launched by the climate change unit to assist line ministries in terms of moving communities away from natural disaster prone areas.

Confirming the new project, head of the climate change unit Esala Nayasi said the project would be used as part of Fiji's efforts to address climate change in the country.

Drowning slowly: How the America's Golden State cities will look in 500 years if sea levels rise as predicted

Nickolay Lamm, 24, has produced some worrying illustrations of how California's biggest cities will become lost to the ocean if scientists predictions of the effects of global warming prove correct.

San Francisco, becomes consumed by the very bay it is constructed next to. Venice Beach resembles scenes from Venice, Italy as the Pacific Ocean slowly consumes the trendy Los Angeles neighborhood. And San Diego's position as a naval town is virtually obliterated as the unforgiving sea water rushes the towns docks and promenades.

Limiting Global Warming Is Not Enough

A study carried out by climate researchers based in Bern shows that the focus on the temperature increase alone is by no means enough to meet the ultimate, overarching objective – to protect the climate system from dangerous anthropogenic interference.

This is because, according to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change from 1992, the climate system comprises the "totality of the atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, geosphere and their interactions." The Framework Convention also calls for the sustainability of ecosystems and food production. All of this can scarcely be realised by the two-degree target alone.

I want to thank those of you who have joined the TOD Registry (20+ so far). It's a simple Yahoo group for folks to post their contact info and stay in touch, though discussions are allowed. No Yahoo account required.

Also one can currently add files and links

Just joined and can confirm that links can be posted. Maybe Seraph and even Leanan could occasionally post a list of links to articles in the news and we could have a sort of Drumbeat...

How's Zurk's site working out? I have to check that out as well. I also copied TOD's blogroll into a spreadsheet for future reference. Maybe there is a place to post that as well.

How's Zurk's site working out?

Functionally from a base software POV now like this site it seems.

The graphics don't look the same as here, but that's ok. Its not here.

The newsfeed is automatic VS moderated so it was featuring an article about Tea Tree OIL in the Oil category. Part of what makes dynamicTOD dynamicTOD is that human based filtering.


I just enrolled with Yahoo solely to join the group, I too consider the TOD community and their views the main reason for coming to this site, news we can get anywhere, decent analysis is a little harder to find. The plateau will be as interesting a time to live in as the build up to the peak.

As soon as I can get around to finishing the initial newsletter for the TOD community energy group which we recently formed, I will attempt an article for your Yahoo group.

I also added my email address to my TOD profile.

Zurk's site (http://www.theplanetbeat.com/?q=forum) seems to be going reasonably well. There is a little content coming in, but only one "Keypost" in the TOD sense of that (Southern Limits' post on PPUE, which was also posted here).

I suspect that the site will require some ordering once it settles in, and some refining (Eric has mentioned one issue above). For example, there's a link to "World News" there, which takes you to any number of random sports and other articles. Personally, I would like to see the site retain a rather more narrow focus on energy and climate-related issues, though I have no problem in reading opinion about the interface between those issues and economics for example...

The more I think about TOD, the more I understand how important the community is. Some of the keyposts have been phenomenal, others quite ordinary. The Drumbeat is fantastic and a unique find on the internet. Quite often the comments threads on both Keyposts and Drumbeat have yielded more and better information than the articles themselves - that's the community bit in action...

"Build it and they will come" - Zurk has built it, now it's up to the community to develop and nurture it. From what I have seen so far, Zurk seems open to requests to add functionality, forums and so on - whether that changes as the traffic gets heavier, we'll see. On balance, I'm quite impressed with what's there after only a few days.

It would be great to see more of the TOD regulars over there, and also to welcome back some old faces (ROCKMAN, Westexas, Darwinian to name but a few). Would also be great if Leanan, Kate (TOD Community Moderator), Rembrandt, Euan et al dropped in to say "hi" at least.

Seraph - if you're reading - the site would really benefit from your ability to pick up interesting stories from the wilder parts of the 'net....

It's good to see folks posting over at planetbeat, and I plan to contribute. As I've mentioned, the Yahoo group was primarily created to have a repository of users' contact info and updates since the TOD member profiles will soon go poof. Certainly not meant to compete with any other efforts being made to regroup. Then again, TOD Registry can be much more. This post-TOD evolution will be interesting to watch. Maybe some sociology major could use it as a case study.

I tried to join, but alas, I'm in some endless loop of cyberspace hell. Yahoo it wants me to make a profile and I have a profile and am signed into it, and won't let me join the group. I'll try the e-mail

[edit] It's easier to send an e-mail to join. I meant to cut and paste that to post here, but came away with something else on my clipboard. But you'll find an e-mail address to join the group on the group page. Must be something wrong with Yahoo today.

By the way, I'm just a lowly Humanities major, creative writer, and freelance editor / proofreader / and creative coach. It's been an honor to serve this community as a moderator and I'm in awe of the assembled talent here. I've even learned a smidgen about oil and energy concerns, though I'll never be anywhere near as articulate about these issues as TOD members.

I'm also very sad to see TOD closing shop - I'd heard about the site as a premiere resource long before I stumbled in as Community Moderator.

Oh, and I didn't even mind being called the "forum Nazi." :]

Yeah, unfortunately I'm new to yahoo groups and am committed elsewhere through the weekend, after which I can explore some of the features. Hopefully I can designate a couple of other folks as administrators as well if anyone's interested. This an exploritory stop-gap, initially, but Yahoo groups are quite popular. We'll see; explore our options as we're being cast out into the cold, hard world to fend for ourselves ;-)

I belong to two other Yahoo groups, so joining this one should have been a one-click deal. But the e-mail method worked.

I recommend members choose the digest mode to receive a daily digest of posts unless you don't mind X amount of individual e-mails each day.

I'll probably be a silent lurker for the most part since I don't have much to add to the conversation. Sometimes I find links to share.

Heh he, Yahoo had me running in circles too as I have not logged in there for a while.


See also http://www.reddit.com/r/theoildrum as a potential future article aggregator post-TOD.

Just joined the group. Thanks for setting it up Ghung.

For the better off refugee (or well off urban camper)

Swedish furniture giant Ikea has been known to diversify – from building a post-Olympic model village in east London, to launching a range of budget hotels. But its most recent venture is the most ambitious yet: the company is attempting to bring its flatpack, no frills efficiency to the problem of refugee housing.

Yair . . .

Remarkably similar to what is offered by this organisation.....http://www.maddel.com/.....and I know the principles have been in discussions with the UNHCR about their unique flat pack shelters.

About twelve months later Ikea come up with this and their publicity is even using the Maddel terminology and promotion ideas.

What's that funny smell?


Nigeria borrowing money, regional insurgency, and national security threatened by oil-funded militias.

Nigeria’s $1.4 bln repayment halves fuel debt to traders

The $1.4 billion loan will be repaid over five years with NNPC putting 15,000 barrels per day of oil production as collateral, the source said. Crude will be sold by Nigerian trader Sahara Energy.

The remaining $1.7 billion of debt is owed to trading houses as well as oil majors BP,Royal Dutch Shell and Total for supplies of fuel in the last three years.

Repaying this debt will be more challenging as NNPC has committed most of its available oil flows for the next five years and which can generate additional cash only if oil prices stay much above $75 per barrel.

Children burned alive in school attack in Nigeria, 42 dead

Gunmen believed to be Islamists from Nigeria's Boko Haram insurgent group, whose name means "Western education is sacrilege", committed the overnight attack on a secondary school in restive Yobe state, a medical worker and residents said Saturday.

Oil theft threat to Nigeria’s security, says Gov. Dickson

Dickson said the criminals sustained their operations over the years through the proceeds from illegal bunkering activities.

”What is going on is more of a threat to national security than even the loss of revenue that everybody is shouting about.

Another question for solar afficionados.

Does anyone know how solar performs at high altitudes. Cusco where I'm planning on getting my solar installation done is at 3300m and has quite a bit of solar radiation knocking around, apparently the highest UV on earth (not too good for my skin as I burn after just a few hours on a cloudy day).

Thanks for the responses on the previous drumbeat about my energy requirements, it will come in useful when costing up a system.

In principle they would perform better since there's less atmosphere to attenuate the sunlight. Such a location might even give you above the 1000 w/sq meter that panels are rated at. I'd recommend getting a reasonably accurate solar and or UV meter to see what you're actually receiving at the site. Not sure how the increased UV would effect panel aging over the long term.

If you want to see what solar intensity is at my weather station ohio at 236m ((using an Apogee pyranometer) look up "KOHCHILL5" in the personal weather station section of Weather Underground.

In summary, the altitude shouldn't bother the panels, but at that altitude YOU might need considerable acclimation:-).

What are some good suppliers for pyranometers in the UK and how much do they cost on average?

Acclimation is not fun. I can breathe and exercise normally but my body will never fully get used to the altitude, the worst effect is injuries take twice as long to heal and I'm my immune system isn't as strong making me susceptible to getting ill. There are real benefits to living here but it takes it's toll on you.

Since you mentioned acclimatization, were you born at low elevation, and moved there? I suspect the natives -especially those descended from high altitude dwellers have the right genes and physiology.

I'm from Essex in the UK which is roughly 20 meters above sea level so I'm not exactly bred for this environment. My skin is too pale so I burn easily, my lungs are too small so I don't get enough oxygen and I'm tall so my body spends energy pumping blood to far off extremities (my body weight drops 8-10 kilos when I move back to Cusco, I put it straight back on when I spend a few months in the UK).

The people from the Andes are well designed for their environment. They're squat with broad chests and dark skinned. They're also extremely strong, I've seen teenagers and elderly women carrying loads that I'd struggle to even pick up.

Hi inglorious
Several years ago I went on a camping vacation and went from 700 ft(200 m) to 9000 ft(2750 m) elevation in about eight hours. San Diego to Mammoth Mountain California. I experienced altitude sickness and the solar radiation is intense.

Here's a link for a manufacturer in the UK, for measuring both solar and UV (UV A & B). Quite pricy though! Simpler meters can be had at considerably less cost though (just do a Google search), and an inexpensive DIY version can also be made quite simply by using a solar cell or panel, a fixed resistor and voltmeter. Info widely available on the web.


I have a hundred dollar-ish solar power meter, it routinely reads above the 1350 outerspace number -but thats just calibration. I suspect he only needs one or two panels, investing in a good power meter is probably at least as expensive as half a panel. I think he should just try a panel or two, then if that isn't enough to cover a cloudy day or two -he could get another panel/battery. Trading off the expense of research, versus just doing. I'd vote for doing.

Not so sure about how well protected panels are from UV, but your DSI (Direct Solar Radiation) is probably more than ten percent stronger than at sea level (probably more like 15%). Also at altitude (people thought I was at high altitude when I lived at 2KM -you probably consider that to be the lowlands), temps are lower, an that could add several more percent to the output. So I'm guessing you might get a twenty percent boost.

Thanks for the input everyone. Unfortunately the land deal I thought was in the bag has fallen through as the owner hadn't provided all the information. I thought I was going to buy a piece of private land and it turned out that I was actually buying shares in a larger piece of land which would have brought way too much hassle dealing with the other owners to get things done.

Back to the drawing board on the land side of things but I will make a trip to the local solar panel companies anyway so that I have an idea of how much that side of things will set me back and to inform myself of what products they're providing.

Harnessing High-Altitude Solar Power [pdf- see table 2]

I read another paper that said that Aspen can expect 165% of the PV output of an identical array at a similar latitude at sea level. Your balance of system equipment (charge controller, breakers/fuses, wiring, etc. will need to be sized accordingly. At @850 meters, my PV arrays frequently produce well above their ratings in clear, sub-freezing weather. I had to reconfigure my newest array from 128 volts down to 64 volts because the charge controller's max voltage (145) was being exceeded on very cold/clear days.

My recommendation for a 1kW array would be a 60 or even an 80 amp MPPT controller (Outback FM80 or its equivalent) for a 24 volt system, configuring the arrays at 60-80 volts into the controller. Undersizing your charge controller can be more expensive in the long run, while oversizing may allow for expansion later. For a 500-600 watt PV system into a 12 volt battery set at that altitude I would recommend an 80 amp MPPT charge controller. You could get by with a 60 amp controller, but the price difference is only about $50. I would stay clear of the cheaper PWM controllers.

My new array, rated at 1960 watts, was producing around 2500 watts for several hours on a cold, clear day last March, maxing out the FM80 controlling it (the Outback did a fine job of handling it, but its cooling fan was running the whole time). You'll be at three times+ my altitude.

Ghung - What's your opinion on the Xantrex XW6048 hybrid inverter? (apologies for being a bit off topic)

I've read some good reviews about it, and have two Trace (pre-Xantrex, barely) 4024 inverters that have performed flawlessly for 12 years. A couple of things give me pause about Xantrex: Trace was sold to Xantrex which has been sold to Schnieder, all in a relatively short period; and I've had trouble getting support for early Xantrex equipment, and especially for Trace stuff. I had to go to a third party (actually in NZ) to find a manual for a friend's Trace inverter that is only 12 years old. How hard can it be to keep documentation available for legacy equipment these days? A certified repair shop I've used to get Trace equipment repaired in the past, while certified to repair several brands, no longer repairs Xantrex stuff. Not sure why, but he mentioned getting reimbursed for warranty repairs as a factor. That said, this is mostly hearsay, and I know some folks who love their Xantrex stuff.

The folks who started Outback left Trace when it was sold to Xantrex, and both their equipment and support have been superior, in my experience. I'm going to send them my communications hub to be refurbed, with a firmware update. It's been in continuous use for over ten years. My only cost will be getting it there. The only reason I'm sending it in is to improve its compatibility with my new data logging setup and their new battery monitor.

I always get a tech on the phone, first call, and they have an active users forum where I can get answers and advice from other end users. I have no affiliation with the company other than as a customer, but they've certainly earned my loyalty. They're still in Washington State where they began. So, personally, if I was planning to get a hybrid/grid-interactive inverter, it would be their Radian. It's about $900 more than the Xantrex for their 8kW model. BTW, the US Army uses Outbacks in their tanks and armored personnel carriers. Of course, Xantrex is in Canada... which may affect one's decision.

+1 here for the Xantrex 4048, but I only have 2 years of power on it. Ownership of the company is fickle - that may be important.


I have 2 Trace 5548's that have been in service for 12 years and no problems. However, I just ordered a replacement for my Flexcharger NC25A-48 charge controller which crapped out last week (about $150 including tax and shipping).


I have dual Xantrex XW 6048's. I've generally been happy with them; they switched over flawlessly when there was a grid power failure.

That said, one 6048 recently failed with a "relays welded" error message, and that failure took down house power although the grid was up. The good news is that Xantrex apparently has replaced the 6048 under warranty.

I also lost a Sunny Boy inverter a few years back. Inverters seem to be a weak link.

Hmmm - guess I won't be running my mig welder off the inverter...

Not sure your model, but my Lincoln 125 (120VAC) works fine off a single VFX 3524 Outback inverter.

Thanks, that's really useful to know. I'll check out what the companies have on offer but from reading what you're saying and my gut feeling that prices will have been notched up by being here in Peru it may be best to import the parts myself and then contact one of the companies engineers directly to set the system up for me.

Something that was going through my mind is how easy these types of systems are to set up as a DIY job? My wife would probably kill me for even trying it but I enjoy getting my hands dirty with this type of thing.

Eventually when we build the house I plan to do a lot of the work myself anyway. Here in Peru a lot of corners are cut when they build their houses, the current house I live in is only about 15 years old and there are clear cracks in the walls, when I had some work done on one of the bathrooms a section of floor about 2 foot across just fell out as they hadn't used enough concrete or any rebar and the whole electrical system is shot - one of the plug sockets had crossed wires or something as when I turned the tv on the lights would also turn on and we had to get new circuit breakers put in (a cheap and temporary measure) as they would blow if you had more than 3 electrical devices running at a time.

The house I'm planning is going to be a back to basics job.

Adobe bricks for the insulation it provides

One and a half floors to avoid earthquake damage and a steep angled roof to make up for the lost height

Bamboo to function like rebar to add reinforcement to the walls in case of an earthquake.

A rainwater harvesting system for my water supply, I figure that the rainwater isn't going to be any more toxic than the tap water which I have to boil for 3 minutes before it can be drunk.

A compost toilet as I hate the fact that the drainage systems just run in to the rivers

The final touch will be solar power for my electricity which is a modern add on to an otherwise traditional style.

It's not going to be an entirely green build as things like concrete foundations will need to be laid but pretty much everything barring the solar system, water tank and concrete will be produced locally and with next to no pollution in the process.

Check for local building codes. Many builders just ignore them but if there is a collapse following an earthquake then they get waved in your face, maybe in the jail. On bamboo rebar, we are steel/concrete (steel no more than 3m apart) here but the reinforcing had to hook around the corners to prevent the walls coming away from each other. Not sure how you can manage that with bamboo though, it would be a bit inconvenient to have 4 intact walls fall away and the floor drop in the space! Sounds like your electrician was from around here ;) Watch that altitude though, thought I was ok in Quito until I suddenly couldn't get enough air after a few trips up and down stairs.


What is source of electricity now in Cuzco? A lot of the Andean town have diesel generators, but Cuzco may be big enough to have something better, such as hydro. I wonder if there are any efforts to covert these small towns to pv, since even getting diesel there is difficult and these towns have close to optimal conditions for solar: very high irradiance, cool and a population used to scheduling there activities to the times when electricity is available. I was in Cuzco many years ago, unfortunately I came down with cholera, probably from a salad I ate in Bolivia, and wasn't able to fully take advantage of the time I had there.
You might be able to find the equipment you need at the ZOFRI in Iquique.

I think Cusco's electricity comes from a Hydroelectric plant built about 50-60 years ago. It's about 15 minutes from Machu Picchu on the Urubamba river.

I've often wondered about the small towns and villages going green. There would be good potential for small scale hydro projects and as you mention solar would work well as well. A big problem with electricity here is the infrastructure, hauling electricity lines over the Andes must be incredibly costly and maintaining it even more so. Local projects would be much easier to maintain once they are up and running.

Thanks for the pointer about heading for Chile to get the parts, I hadn't thought about that as an option.

There are many NGO-driven (e.g., Soluciones Prácticas) projects tapping wind, solar and hydro at small scales. The Peruvian Ministerio de Energia y Minas is also involved in rural electrification with renewable technologies, seemingly at a bit more robust level than the NGO projects (i.e., power sufficient for small scale motors as well as domestic and commercial lighting).

MEM is rapidly expanding the national electrical grid, which is about 50% hydro (Peru has enormous hydro potential) and 50% natural gas. Natural gas generation is growing rapidly as the Camisea and some other deposits are developed. The government is investing in small scale renewables, as well as the largest commercial solar array in Latin America (44 MW) just outside Arequipa in the very sunny desert SW.

Though Peru has enormous solar resource, and the sector is expanding, the contribution of solar-generated electricity to the national grid is still moving toward a paltry 80 MW of a total electricity production of 3 209 GW. Wind is projected to be soon producing 100 MW.

I was part of a team examining a community involved in just such a project (Ch. 6 of our recent Cultures of Energy book) as well as a recent somewhat more general article comparing small scale wind, solar and hydro (scroll down to 2011 article at my webpage).

(Linked articles almost entirely in Spanish.)

Thanks for the links. I am in chemistry, but I used to hang out mainly with L.A. anthropologists at Chicago and then Michigan in the late 80's, early 90's, and also lived in the area for some time.

Hi Tom,

Just watched your presentation 'And we had fun fun fun.. 'Till We Went Over the Net Energy Cliff'
It was great! Congrats!

Brought back some memories of the good old days here at TOD when I was constantly battling Leanan about my graphics postings and their sizes.

I see you included two of my visual comments in your presentation. On one I had taken a graph and added Tinkerbell with her magic wand and pixie dust plus some red dots symbolizing the increasing projected Growing Gap between regular and conventional Oil. I think at the time it was Rockman who suggested it might be misconstrued as implying something of a sexual nature. We had a good chuckle over that.

The other one you added a title 'EIA's Failed projections', for the record, they are only partially EIA's the ones after 2010 to the red flat line were mine. BTW that was posted as a spoof on my part during a discussion with Steve Kopits. here's a link to the original one I created. http://i289.photobucket.com/albums/ll225/Fmagyar/Prediction.png

Glad to know some of the memes that were planted here are germinating and being spread far and wide. Rockman might have gotten a chuckle out of that >;-)

I had almost forgotten how much fun I used to have posting graphics here. But that was before Peak TOD...
BTW if anyone stumbles on my photobucket account feel free to use any of the graphics you find there. There are quite a few, some are spoofs and modifications of graphs and photographs with generous artistic license on my part. Many are 100% originals by me but there may be a handful of cartoons there that may be copyrighted material so please don't use those without proper attribution.




Fred, my favorite graphic of yours is still the Comparison of the Spheres. A visual of the earth with a blue sphere superimposed on it representing all the water on, in, and above the earth. Then a smaller blue sphere representing all the fresh water, with a third very small blue one representing all the accessible fresh water. Then you had added a fourth [black] one superimposed on the original blue sphere, representing all the oil. Really helped put things into perspective for me.

Hey Walt,

Thanks! I hadn't looked at that in a while so when I did just now I checked the math and realized I had made a mistake!

The diameter of the sphere depicting our known oil reserves is off by a factor of 10. I slipped up on the decimal point. I created a circle with a diameter of 7 kilometers when it should have been 70 km.
I'm posting a correction.


My humble apologies for such a huge mistake and consequent misrepresentation of how much oil we still have available.

If you look at it you will see that the party will continue for a very long time...

Well, that's much better; you had me worried there for a while... :)

Hi Fred: thanks for your kind comment. That video clip of my lecture, with attached ppt, was really intended for an internal audience (I'd forgotten it was on my webpage when I posted that link earlier today). It just shows how much I have learned from and depended on TOD. You're a patient man to sit through that whole presentation!

Your comment does make me wonder, though, whether all such images are actually in the public domain if they were posted (or, for the future, archived) at TOD? The graphics on TOD have been priceless - Sam Foucher/Westexas, Ace, André Angelantoni, yours, and so many others along the way these past 8 years. Since I have not used any of these graphics in anything I've published (except one, by Sam Foucher, with his permission), I doubt I've run afoul of the law, but for those of us who give talks to citizens groups, is there some ethical violation do you think?

Your comment also makes me again hope that these remaining three weeks see a regrouping, I hope under ASPO, of son/daughter of TOD in a similar format. I hope we'll have news soon.


Hi Tom,

I doubt I've run afoul of the law, but for those of us who give talks to citizens groups, is there some ethical violation do you think?

That can be a very difficult question to answer. However there are plenty of graphics in the public domain. I believe that modification of copyrighted material for the purposes of satire is considered artistic license and legally protected.

I think there would certainly be a breach of ethics if one were to try to pass off someone else's work and claim it was one's own. Also there is the issue of including graphics without proper attribution or permission in something that will be commercialized... that would be a huge red flag.

In any case, let me put in a plug for a friend of mine who lives in Connecticut and has worked in the greater New York area as an independent consultant in Research and Permissions at Research, Rights and Clearances for well over a quarter of a century. Her name is Roberta Helling and she can be found on LinkedIn.



I believe that modification of copyrighted material for the purposes of satire is considered artistic license and legally protected.

That would be wrong. The interpretation is quite narrow, and the issues complex. Basically, you have to prove that there's no other way to achieve your goal. And you have to be satirizing that particular work, not using it to satirize something else.

In practice, people just fold when they get a letter from someone's lawyer. They can't afford the legal fees, so they remove the offending graphics.

The interpretation is quite narrow, and the issues complex

True dat! Therefore the plug for my friend. Of course certain graphs from the IEA and EIA probably don't need to be satirized and they probably already include lots of artistic license... >;-)

In a way I guess it's a bit like pornography, it can be very hard to define but you usually recognize it when you see it.

The original charts and graphs are fine. We publish everything under a Creative Commons license that allows re-use, as long as the original source is credited, and the work created is distributed with a similar license.


Be careful of the obviously trademarked images in a handful of articles. Nate, in particular, was fond of using copyrighted/trademarked images like the Kool-Aid guy and screen grabs from Star Trek. Obviously, those are violations and should not be used if you want to avoid intellectual property issues.

Also beware of news photos and other photos that may have been swiped from the web (as opposed to actually taken by our contributors). They may be subject to copyright, and these days, with Google Image search, it's really easy to find violators.

The original charts and graphs are fine, however. The graphics created by the U.S. government (EIA charts, etc.) can also be used by the public, as long as they are properly credited. (Hey, we the taxpayers paid for them, after all.)

There is an exception for educational purposes also.

That exception has basically been gutted by the courts over the past few decades. Fair Use is pretty much dead, as it used to be invoked in academia.

Same with "nonprofit" uses. The courts have basically ruled that profit does not need to be money, so just about anything can be counted as profit.


Another view of train derailment. "Lake and river contaminated" Comments blame lack of Keystone pipeline for accident. It's curious when animals cheerlead for their own demise...

Chinese plankton bloom: Blooms like this are primarily pollution driven. I would expect more. After collapse, we won't have enough resources to pollute the ocean enough at this scale in this way, but for a while we will.

People, jellyfish, plankton. Not a very exciting landscape.

Holy guacamole. It's bad. Really, really bad. Only one person confirmed dead, but a hundred still missing, a thousand evacuated, and the town "cut in half as if by a knife" because of the fires in the downtown area.

They said no one was on the train because it was being remotely operated. Do trains travel long distances via remote control?

I didn't realize trains were operated remotely. I know that engineers used to tell by feel and sound if something was going wrong (years ago an uncle was a train engineer, my grandfather a section man). I wonder what substitutes for feel now? I imagine some combination of sensors. Clearly this is done to save the cost of the engineer. Perhaps as safe, but I imagine the public is no more comfortable with train automation than it is with airliner automation. What about a road crossing - many times an engineer will hit the brakes if a car is in the crossing - the train can't stop but there must be cars that occasionally slip by because of this - I'm quite sure an automated train won't slow down in this circumstance.
This sort of thing is unsettling. An engineer is a small part of the overall cost of a railroad. I just can't consider this sort of cost saving as an improvement.
A few years past, you can bet a big media stink would have been made that would have lead to regulations against trains with no operator aboard. It will be interesting to see what happens in regard to this today.

I read a BBC report that said it was stopped just outside town for an operator exchange. The 73 cars apparently uncoupled from the five locomotives and starting rolling back into town. Pretty amazing pictures on sfgate, while the BBC has video of the aftermath, but from a distance.

The only remote control operations of which I am aware take place in large freight yards. We know from news accounts that this train had a conductor,so there was a least a crew of two (the other being the engineer). The web side TrainOrders had some discussion on the topic. Apparently, the train had five engines lashed up to carry 73 loaded freight cars over a one percent grade. The crews have to change at the border, and the siding that was used was seven miles west of the town along the crest of a vertical curve. (The other available siding was in the town itself, and that would have blocked traffic.) The Canadian crew would have tied down the air and hand brakes using standard procedures, then taken a taxi to a local motel. The US crew would have arrived via another taxi and taken the train on into Maine.

Railroads have a culture of standard procedures borne out of past tragedies, so it is doubtful the procedures themselves were insufficient. After all, one rarely hears of "runaway trains" these days. One possibility is that the crew failed to follow procedures. The other is that someone else deliberated tampered with both air brakes and hand brakes, something that would require some knowledge of railroad operations. Neither possibility is very reassuring.

I'm sure certain parties will call for more pipelines, but apart from a few locations the economics just won't work. We will continue to transport petroleum products by rail no matter what the outcome of this terrible event.

Anecdotally, here in town there is an area of spur lines and sidings where the engines have big stickers on them saying, in effect, "don't worry if you don't see anybody onboard, RC trains operate in this area". The area includes fairly major 2 and 4 lane arterials as well as numerous local streets in a light and some heavy industrial areas.

Not sure how often they actually are operated remotely, though.

My heart goes out to the people of this small town in Quebec.

I have to ask what was in those tankers. Regular crude doesn't ignite so easily, does it? One comment (I believe, to a CBS website) suggested "DilBit" that is shipped pressurized. Can anyone explain what it is, and whether it would it act like this?

Since dilbit is bitumen diluted with lighter, less viscous petrolem products (generally NG condensates like naptha), it would seem necessary to transport it in sealed tankers to prevent the dilutent components from evaporating and gassing off, especially in the higher temperatures of summer. So the tank cars may well have been under a certain amount of pressure, especially after the fire started. Once the dilutent begins to boil in the containers, pressures go up exponentially; quite a bomb.

As an aside, one wonders if these tankers have vents or relief valves (would seem necessary), and how much of these dilutent components are evaporating and gassing off to the atmosphere during normal operation. This would be a good case for using pipelines over rail or truck tankers.

I have to ask what was in those tankers. Regular crude doesn't ignite so easily, does it? One comment (I believe, to a CBS website) suggested "DilBit" that is shipped pressurized. Can anyone explain what it is, and whether it would it act like this?

The content of the tankers had been described as approximately 7700 tons of South Dakota crude, direct from Bakken. I believe it was on its way to Maine, which is strange, it really is a remote and minor railway.

Many of the missing people have now been accounted for, but we haven't haeard at all of the patrons of a local bar that was only six meters (yup, 20 feet!) from the railroad track. Total loss of life may amount to 30 or 60, which is enormous in this city of less of 6,000.

BTW, I visited Lac-Mégantic in the summer of 2010 and I remember the place very well, including this track that was running right through the city, in the middle of a slope. It's odd to think the place doesn't exist anymore.

I've been to Jackman, but not Megantic, which must have some local industry to support the relatively large population. My town is about the same size, and I can't imagine how hard it would be to lose the town center and any number of its people. Local commuter rail crosses our street, but there's no freight.

Something tells me the culture around shipping crude by train is about to change.

Something tells me the culture around shipping crude by train is about to change.

Not sure. I just posted some figures about the exploson of rail transport of oil in North America (waiting for moderation) and the figures are booming. Smaller, quickly depleted oilfields require rail transportation - the cost of a pipeline is too much. Rail is easier toshift from an area to another, as required by production.

Natural gas caused as bad an explosion a couple of years back in CA. That changed regs and is resulting in billions of safety improvements (I know this because I'm responding to RFPs with many millions of dollars of my equipment as a small part of the overall improvements).

Most likely this is the proper outcome of this incident. Wholesale changes to how we distribute energy will only shift one set of risks for another -- high density energy is a high density risk. Anything other than incremental changes in processes (plus perhaps a push to simply use less!) will be politics instead of engineering at work.

Edit: I have long questioned, after previous accidents, why any track would curve through towns at the bottoms of hills. Runaway trains aren't new, and rolling of the curve is what they do. At the least you'd think they should shoot through town and crash on curves before or after.

There is some usage of remote control inside rail yards of some companies. One dated source about BNSF


From wikipedia CN site - CN is not the rail line in question.

CN is also a rail industry leader in the employment of radio-control (R/C) for switching locomotives in yards, resulting in reductions to the number of yard workers required.

I believe that there is quite a bit of usage of R/C at the Symington yard in Winnipeg.

Some more info on the rail line in questiton


Should be a lot more information tomorrow.

Here's an article about the controversial introduction of radio-control equipment at MNA Railways in 2010.


Slightly off topic, but -

I have had to piss more than once for alcohol and drugs for jobs taking care of the mentally challenged in the US. Testing is retty common for workers in transportation in the US.

It is a totally different legal basis here in Canada, where car drivers after fatal accidents can refuse blood testing. Will the operator(s) of the train be tested for alcohol and/or drugs?

Well, the issue is, there were mo operators at all. The engineers completed their shift and went home leaving the engine running and waiting for the next shift, that was due to arrive a few hours later. The company says this is the SOP.

The 73-car locomotive that devastated a wide swath of Lac-Mégantic, Que., had been ablaze in the hours before it careened off its track and exploded, according to fire officials in the lakeside tourist town and the nearby town of Nantes.

stopped in Nantes, about 12 kilometres northwest of Lac-Mégantic, in response to a fire that had broken out on board.


The conductor was the last person to check and certify that the brakes and safety systems were operating. Maybe I should have said who is checking that the conductor did what he says he did. How long was his shift?

The conductor was the last person to check and certify that the brakes and safety systems were operating. Maybe I should have said who is checking that the conductor did what he says he did. How long was his shift?

These are very good questions, but we don't have the answers yet. The possible relationship between the minor locomotive fire in Nantes (sucessfully extinguished by firefighters) and the explosion in Mégantic is being investigated, but the details are unknown.

Railroads have a culture of standard procedures borne out of past tragedies, so it is doubtful the procedures themselves were insufficient.


The engineers completed their shift and went home leaving the engine running and waiting for the next shift, that was due to arrive a few hours later.

I think I can see an insufficient procedure right there.

Some reports are saying the problem was that somehow the engine was turned off. When that happened, the air brakes released.

My concern was more that the train was seemingly left unsupervised for several hours. That the engine stopping (something quite likely to occur) causes the brakes to release makes it worse not better.

I'll wait for the proper report, but the information so far is starting to make it sound pretty farcical.

per the cited article:

railroad worker injury rates for radio-controlled locomotive operations were 6.58 per million switching miles compared to 9.54 for conventional operations, a 2006 Federal Railroad Administration report to Congress on radio-controlled locomotives concluded?

The article discussed reduced cost and increased safety, however my read of the above is there were collectively per million switching miles 9.54 injuries, automation has now substantially reduced the quantity of workers, who now experience 6.58 injuries per million switching miles. If, as the article seems to indicate the number of workers has been cut in half, the per person injury rate may well have increased.

This is the type of crude train running there:


The rail map is here:

Of course this new East ward flow of unconventional oil to the 300 kb/d Irving refinery in St. John


is a sign of the conventional oil peak. Does anyone know from which countries this refinery got or gets its oil in overseas tankers?

All this will become a big problem:

Oil Trains To Become Pipelines On Wheels?


A good article about the accident and the recent increase in railroad oil traffic (In French, hipefully Google translate will help):

It basically says:

- That the amount of oil transported by rail has increased 20 fold in five years, in North America.
- That the Saint-John refinery in New Brunswick uses 90,000 barrels per day of Bakken oil (but the actual destination of the runaway train is still unknown)
- That in 2012 alone, rail traffic of oil in Maine has increased from 14,300 barrels in january to 1,1 million barels in december (I believe these are monthly figures, the article is unclear)
- The Canadian Pacific company says it carries 19 times more oil now than in 2010.

So the accident really seems to be a consequence of PO. As production shifts to smaller and smaller oilfields, rail becomes a preferred way of moving crude, as pipelines are not economically justified.

i found that article too. Yes, 1.1Mb last December alone traversed Maine. He mentioned that Burlington Northern (Warren Buffert's RR) moves more than 1Mb/day, more than proposed KXL would. But it doesn't say where that oil is headed.

From another article I read this train had stopped in Nantes, the next town to the west, so I assume it was headed eastbound. Some sources say its cargo was from South Dakota, others say North Dakota. While the incident fire commander said many of the tank cars were "still pressurized", he didn't share what precisely was inside.

Well, the president of the RR company dclared yesterday that it was some crude from Bakken. There were about 72 tankers, and about 100 tons of crude in each. He really said «Bakken», this is not an interpretation.

A terrible tragedy from what can be seen on the news wires.

A bit more info can be found here - http://grandemotte.wordpress.com/2013/07/08/the-lac-magentic-rail-disaster/


- there were numerous warning incidents earlier this year
- rail transport of oil is still safe, but the sheer amount of oil being transported has risen dramatically over the last few years, and investment in track & maintenance remains muted
- In 2009 Canadian Pacific moved 500 carloads of crude; by 2011 this had risen to 13,000 carloads; in 2013 they expect to shift 70,000 carloads of crude, with predicted expansion to 200,000 over a few years! 70,000 carloads is already 34 million barrels of oil. Much of this is from the Bakken. We are seeing accidents because of the rapid upsurge and surprising scale of activity.
- In the US crude rail transport is of even greater scale, with 540,000 carloads in 2012 (with 2013 looking like a 40% increase, in spite of pipelines coming on stream).

The website has a few maps showing context.

I wouldn't say this accident is a consequence of peak oil, but it is a consequence of Unconventional oil, which is of course related...

Yair . . . Any rail-road folks like to comment on those tracks in Matt's first link above . . . or is it just my eyes?


I presume you are referring to the tracks looking very irregular in the photograph. I think this is probably just an illusion due to the use of a Telephoto lens and does not mean that the tracks are really in that bad a condition. In any case if the waggons ran away the derailment probably occurred when they tried to negotiate a curve at excessive speed rather because of track defects.

I've mentioned in previous Drumbeats how the City of Summerside, PEI has been promoting the installation of "intelligent" electric thermal storage heaters or ETS systems as a way of flattening their demand curve and better integrating the city's wind generation resources. Now, it appears NB Power wants to do something similar.

NB Power to pilot new heating technology in Fredericton
Electric thermal storage units could replace electric baseboard heaters

NB Power is looking for customers in the Greater Fredericton area who are interested in participating in a pilot project this fall involving electric thermal storage units.


NB Power hopes the units could help shift demand away from peak hours and fossil fuel plants, said McCarthy.


The units, which will communicate with NB Power wirelessly via the customer’s high-speed internet through secure, two-way communication, will allow the utility to “shift” when the ETS room heater charges to coincide with patterns of the wind.

See: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/story/2013/07/02/nb-power-el...

Two-way communication between the ETS unit and utility is a big leap forward compared to the conventional models used by Nova Scotia Power that all fire-on and off in accordance to a fixed schedule. Here, we have the opportunity to more precisely match demand with supply anytime, day or night. Don't have quite enough wind energy to fully recharge all storage heaters on the network? No problem. Based on today's weather forecast and the homeowner's past consumption history, we'll top up Units A, B and C to 80, 55 and 90 per cent respectively. Found some more wind? Great. We'll continue recharging these units in priority sequence so that the ones at greatest risk of running short are targeted first and work back from there. Oh, oh. Everything filled to the brim? Okey-dokey. We'll raise the temperature of these networked water heaters one or two degrees, starting here, here and here.

Atlantic Canada is winter peaking, and wind resources are generally strongest during the heating season, so at a high level it's a good match. Unfortunately, as we know, wind isn't always available when you need it most and at other times you end up with too much of it. Intelligent ETS and DHW systems will work with this natural ebb and flow and allow us to integrate more wind generation into our respective power systems beyond what would be achievable otherwise. Hopefully [if I may use that word], it will also permit wind to start displacing some of the fuel oil consumed in this region, e.g., the City of Summerside's Heat for Less ETS campaign is intended to get commercial and residential customers off oil heat.


Is it too late to admit defeat on the old Canada/Maine Border Wars?

eg., 'I'll have what she's having!'

Bob, I, for one, would be thrilled if the "southern half" of New Brunswick were to rejoin Canada. Of course, we'd have to convert all of those Dunkin' Donuts to Tim's, so there would be a cost.


A quick update on the protests here in Peru.

Yesterday saw a second day of protests, less people but more violent. In Cusco 500 students engaged in running battles with the police, they cut off the main road to the airport for a period in the morning but were forced to move on to the other areas as the day progressed.

The student movement doesn't seem to be receiving much popular support. The government workers have further strikes planned for this month which will be more numerous.

I think the Peruvian government is trying to take greater control of the future so that the population will be more manageable. A variety of measures are being brought in all to similar effect (in my opinion). First off a military draft of 30,000 men a year which I think is designed to stop a large number of young men from being unemployed and troublesome as well as a good chance to indoctrinate them to love their country. Secondly the new education laws removing the independence of the universities will make it so the government can directly influence what is taught to the thousands of young people. Finally the aptitude tests for government workers I feel is an attempt to remove the intransigent older generations from positions of power who would otherwise be a spanner in the works for implementing their plans.

When Humala was elected there were fears about him but those were quieted when he kept up BAU for the mining companies and other foreign businesses. It appears he may be starting to show his true colors.

I was drafted. It didn't help me love much of anything except not being in the army.

Egypt's entirely predictable meltdown

I first posted on Egypt on August 25, 2010. In a post titled Egypt's High-Energy Suburbs I began with:

Egyptian’s enjoy the “good life” as much as anyone and are proving happy to drive to it in the new suburbs outside Cairo. Unfortunately, the higher level of energy consumption associated with suburban living could be Egypt’s undoing.

On February 9, 2011 I posted an article titled Egypt's Natural Gas Trends and Potential Impacts which ended with:

The natural gas trends in place do not bode well for Egypt’s export capacity in the coming years. Increased internal consumption combined with a relatively mature natural gas province imply that exports of Egyptian gas will begin their inevitable decline sooner than anticipated. Indeed, Egypt may be scrambling to live within it’s own energy means before the end of the decade.

This article was also reposted on TOD but the original is where I have maintained a list of relevant articles since February 2011:

The crisis in Egypt was entirely predictable and has been slowly unfolding for several years. If you wanted to see "limits to growth" in action you only needed to pay attention to Egypt. When will people in the mainstream media start mentioning the seemingly obvious, fundamental causes of the crisis in Egypt!

Any solution in Egypt must address population! The nation is far beyond it's carrying capacity. It is a net importer of calories for human consumption (primarily wheat) and will in another year or two be a net importer of calories for industrial consumption (oil already and gas/electricity soon). And what does Egypt export in exchange?

An October, 2012 article from Egypt Independent called Egypt's unbalance of payments describes the situation:

Though many people worry about increases in energy and food bought from abroad, Adly said they do not represent the bulk of the imports.

“The main issue is not food, but inputs and intermediary products,” said Adly.

Inputs and intermediary products are goods Egyptian manufacturers need to manufacture a final product for export or domestic consumption. They represented 46 percent of total imports in 2011/12.

Wheat and maize, the two main imported food products, were 6.3 percent. Energy was 17 percent.

However, food and energy imports weigh heavily on the Egyptian budget, because subsidized food and energy represented 28 percent of all governmental expenses in 2011/12.


But it remains unclear what Egypt’s way out is, and how its current leaders will go about improving things.

The prime minister recently declared the preparation of a 10-year strategic plan targeting petroleum and tourism sectors as main sources of future revenues for the country. Some doubt it will be sufficient.

“The government has to make the economy more competitive — it has to invest more and in less volatile sectors than tourism,” said Adly. “It has to, as well, invest in infrastructure and human capital — education and health in particular.”

Petroleum targeted as a source of future revenues??!!! And tourism will not recover for some time. The situation is much more grave now than it was in October of last year and the fundamental reasons are nowhere to be found in the media: population and energy.

My heart goes out to Egyptians as they surely have a very difficult road ahead.

Nafeez Ahmed has a quite direct article about it in the Guardian :


Indeed, Egypt would appear to be first on the list for a "Limits to Growth" collapse scenario. The religious divide will only make things worse when the proverbial SHTF. Die back time, anyone?..

E. Swanson

OPEC will have to supply oil to Egypt at discounted rates to keep this country alive

Egypt's future crude oil import requirements for 3 population scenarios

2/3 of Egypt's oil is gone 20 years after its peak

Kudos for these two excellent posts.

The sad thing about Egypt's problem with oil, food and population is that the rest of the world is also vulnerable, except a bit further away from a crisis. Suppose some horrendous series of events resulted in a population crash, the result of which was a 90% loss of life in Egypt. With some 84 million at present, that scenario would imply a loss of about 76 million. But, the other people on Earth would likely keep doing our innate reproduction activities, which would result in a replacement of those lost in only 1 year, MOL...

E. Swanson

Interesting thing going on in ME. Till 2003 the region was fairly stable and relatively prosperous, even if under repressive dictators. Fast forward 10 years and the following countries are in a state of civil war/ semi civil war.

1. Iraq
2. Syria
3. Libya
4. Egypt

Countries like Tunisia and Algeria aren't far behind and they are barely hanging on. Almost all other countries have had massive popular uprisings over food and oil. Effects of PO or just generational cycles ?

The answer to your question I believe can be found at the Energy Export Databrowser.

When countries have nothing else to export they export people.

Over the past five years about 200 thousand have emigrated from Ireland and about another 100 thousand immigrants have returned home, whthout this migration, the situation in Ireland would have been a lot worse.

Excellent post, Jonathan.

Also good follow-up posts from Matt at CrudeOilPeak.com.

This website serves as a inflection point for smart, knowledgable commentators like you two. I just hope that after this website shut down, there can be a discussion zone somewhere where these conversations can continue. In the meantime, I've bookmarked both sites of yours.

Since we have only twenty sone days left to enjoy the Oil Drum, I would like to ask a question or rather propose a challenge on predicting the future...
While it looks like we are going down a slow grind type of decline, some serious acceleration is still possible. What will you consider as a clear cut warning sign that we are going down a big step (or even all the way down if you are a serious doomer)?
By warning sign I mean something clear enough but occuring early enough to get someone on the look out some head start warning for doing a final touch of preparation or for running to the hills if one thinks it would help.
Here is an exemple of serious warning: the US giving up on helping Israel. Such change of foreign policy would be so astonishing that it would certainly imply the US is really out of resources and going down the drain. However I feel it would probably be a very late sign.
Does someone has something better to propose?

Here is an exemple of serious warning: the US giving up on helping Israel

One thing TOD taught me was about such things in the ME - talking about what the future is going to be usually isn't. How many times was 'Attack on Iran coming' posted - and how many full-on attacks happened?

So this 'example' given - how true is it? Has it happened? What has been actually cut?

I don't know when/if the US is backing away from Israel. But if they do it will be very bad news. The region will explode. Again.

The value of the dollar falling dramatically against foreign currencies or higher bond yields for the U.S. In the first case inflation would make living conditions significantly harder for many average people and social tensions would be increased and in the second case the higher cost of the U.S debt would mean the U.S government would become even more embattled than they are and the actions they would be forced to take would equally increase social tensions.

Either case would happen at a relatively early stage of any collapse (with years as a timeframe) as traders (is that the right word) are betting on the future of a country. You could argue that if they start betting against the U.S it will be a self fulfilling prophecy but it's unlikely traders would bet against the U.S unless they felt the ship was sinking.

When the price of food per dollar reaches 1/2 of the current buying power in a deflationary environment

Fractured: North Dakota's Oil Boom

This exhibition was developed by The Field Museum in collaboration with Terry Evans and Elizabeth Farnsworth, Fellows of the Center for Art + Environment at the Nevada Museum of Art.

This is a great time of the year to be at The Field Museum along the cool shore of Lake Michigan.

Also, from Illinois: Chicago Tonight.

“We are looking at a potential of one billion barrels of oil,” says Kevin Reimer, a geologist in downstate Harrisburg.

Re: Lac-Magantic disaster
I know Chapter One in the oil industry disaster playbook is "Control the Coverage," which in the U.S. means hire local cops to keep reporters away and get the FAA to turn over air control to the company, so it's interesting to see how in plays out for our neighbors to the north.
Pretty good coverage by the major Canadian papers (except those in Alberta).
The U.S. networks gave some time Saturday evening -- after the wall-to-wall coverage of a run-of-the-mill plane crash, but Lac-Magantic is missing from leading American papers front pages.
In any case, a large part of a little town along with as many as 80 of its citizens may have been incinerated.
Isn't that worth equal coverage as a downed jet?
Or am I forgetting the advertising revenue angle?

The biggest fear, here in Québec, is that Enbridge will use this new fear of tanker trains to suggest that pipelines are much safer.

Enbrige's agenda here is to reverse the flow of oil in its old pipline (some parts date back to WWII) to carry some tar sand oil to Eastern refineries. There is considerable controversy on the issue of whether or not the old pipeline can safely take this new flow.

I worked on that WWII pipeline right of way a few years back, installing a 24" natgas pipeline. My understanding at that time was the crude line was near the end of it's working life. I don't know what kind of pigs can be run through it to inspect it, my guess is not much can be done in this regard, IIRC its only a 12" or dual 12" lines & in such an old pipeline (that predates use of inspection pigs) the angles are probably wrong to use them - but I could be wrong. For reasons I will not detail here I think it is better to replace the line, but I am sure the economics are tough -.
This line was installed very quickly during WWII, in a time of great need.

Thinking about why airplane crash with 2 dead leads the news over train crash with more dead and lots of damage:

1. The plane crashed in the USA. Train crashed in Canada. Most USA folk don't care the least about Canada (sorry, true).

2. There are better pictures, more compelling live interviews probably for plane crash. What is in the news? That for which there is video, not 'what matters' the most.

Sorry I can't say for sure, I don't do TV, but in general this is very true. If someone had a good video of the train crash, it would be lead story.

3. Planes are current, trains are old news, old school technology. It's like a horse-drawn carriage crash - who cares?

Ad revenue is important, but also along with maintaining the corporate-controlled status quo. The ad revenue comes from big corporations, so they self reinforce one another.

Once in a while a story that is popular, driving ad revenue, will gain a little traction and conflict with the corporate message, but soon it will drown under the Pepsi-Ford-US military deluge. Also it will be co-opted, any personalities involved will be offered lucrative advertising opportunities (for Pepsi, or Ford, or the US military), and it will become the punchline to a corporate mediated joke, selling some product.

Something fun to watch for would be oil and train corporate interests battling it out with oil and pipeline corporate interests. But likely some back-room deal will split the spoils and they'll both win. Ever notice that it's fairly rare the big corporations really fight it out? They merge, settle, or divide the spoils, almost never a fight to the death.

Got2, what part of the country are you from? Here in Maine there are many people who care quite a lot about what happens in Canada. About half the state's population traces family roots to there.

Central California.

Honestly, Canada might as well be a foreign country to folks around here. Maine too.

"Quite a lot of people in Maine" adds up to about as many people here at the beach, late, on a cloudy day - not very many. Don't take it personally, it's just true.

The question I was responding to is why does a relatively minor airplane crash in San Francisco get so much more attention than a major train derailment and explosion in Canada.

One more thing: People travel on airplanes, it could have been them. Only wood and oil, coal and grain travel on trains - who cares?

Honestly, Canada might as well be a foreign country to folks around here.

Hate to point out the obvious, but Canada is a foreign country to Americans. Canada and the US haven't been joined at the hip since 1783.

Maine too.

Good observation. Other than voting for a president, New England and Califoreignya [pun intended] haven't had too much in common lately... if ever.

People travel on airplanes, it could have been them. Only wood and oil, coal and grain travel on trains - who cares?

Not disagreeing, but it should be said, most US towns continue to be serviced by rail. And the people incinerated in the pub or in their beds in Lac-Magentic probably never gave much thought to the freight trains passing through either.

If I may add my two cents, language is likely a key factor in the lack of American coverage. Press briefings and conferences in Quebec start in French and move to English. US networks, unlike their English speaking Canadian counterparts who know and expect the routine, don't have the patience and attention span to wait it out.

Who cares? Well - anyone who lives near RR tracks for one. Didn't you see the many homes leveled by that derailment? I suppose you don't own your own home, live near tracks, or have children that could be killed in such a tragedy?
Your comments make you sound rather young - under 35 I'd bet.

I'd point to #3 personally. It even piques my own interest on similar reasoning.. Planes, 'Ooh, aah!', Trains 'Yawn'.. but in part because I see air travel as having an inherently higher calculated risk level in that you're at high speeds depending on technical systems while way up in the air, and then interfacing with the ground under the vagaries of weather and other variable conditions.

Like the objections to Nuclear, I don't really think the current statistical safety results are enough to reasonably dissuade thoughtful people from holding such views, since you're really talking about failure modes, and which technologies are placing a 'higher percentage shot' on the ability of that system to hold together, and what would be the result if/when it doesn't. The fact that only two died on that flight.. while a couple hundred were merely injured is a lucky break that could have gone much worse with some minor alterations in circumstance, as we've seen dozens of times before.

As with the suspenseful and legendary markers of the Ever-relevant Titanic story, I think we put a lot of attention onto situations that have highly leveraged Tipping Points, in which the difference between Survival and Death are driven to the extreme by a context that makes the outcome intensely unpredictable. Surviving such a disaster is almost more tortuous to consider than the expected crunching.. while death by home-stepladder accident, in the crosswalk or choking on a lump of food is more easily laid to mental rest as 'dumb luck' and also generally sort of 'preventable/managable'..

The Megantic disaster still featured on the British ITV TV news at 2300 on Sunday night (after extensive coverage of the Wimbledon men's tennis final) and has been well covered by BBC news on line.
It goes without saying that it is a terrible tragedy but it is perhaps worth pointing out that there has not previously been a really bad railway (railroad) accident in Canada since 1986 or a comparable sort of accident of such a magnitude since the Mississauga derailment back in 1979 (and the latter did not result in any fatalities). Saturday's disaster notwithstanding the railway is really a very safe form of transportation.

I find the BBC coverage isn't so centric on just one story. Here in Peru I get CNN and the Beeb. When CNN get on a story it's all you'll see, every program gets wiped off the slate so they can cover it. The BBC occasionally does that but tends to keep a balance to the broadcasting. Following both incidents they have had a good chunk of coverage on both but also have kept up coverage of other news and their usual broadcasting schedule of programs. I'm trying to recall how it was after the attack on the soldier which is a comparable story scalewise for Britain, I think it was pretty much the same as CNN do with back to back coverage of the one event.

I still remember that portions of an AmTrak train went swimming east of Mobile Al in 93.


Plane crashes, oil fired inferno, impending civil war in Egypt, here in the UK we have had wall to wall coverage of ... a tennis match.

The other news is being reported, but who knows which news is not?

Spain: Temperatures of 42 ºC = 107 ºF

In Orense, north of Spain, in the street the thermometers show 51 ºC = 124 ºF.
See photograph, (article in Spanish)

From the pic you can see the thermometer is probably in the sign somewhere, which is a hot box and not reliably accurate. We have the same problem locally with a thermometer in a high school billboard box that is also in direct sunlight and is 4-8F higher than actual. I recently saw 110.6 on that billboard and when I got home only a few miles away it was 104.2 and the national weather had our area at 104.6

Many of these signs have fan-aspirated thermo-sensors, but fan failure is common and they don't get replaced very often (I have a cousin that maintains these signs for banks, etc.). I recently had to replace the fan in my weather station; an 80mm PV powered computer fan. Easy enough to build if one has an electronic thermometer with a probe on a wire; great project to do with a kid.

Street thermometers are one thing, -we have a picture in the paper, the sign from the local high school read 262F. The guy who took the picture said his car thermometer read 108 (probably a couple of degrees high). Eat your heart out death valley, they only measured 129.2!!!!

Friday I finally understood a line from the old Jefferson airplane song (they were from these parts) -"like a wind from the other side of the world"; We went from 108 Thursday to 85 Friday.

Yes, I understand all that, but believe me in Granada and Cordoba (Andalusia, in the South) temperatures today reached as high as 45 ºC, and in the streets it was much higher.
One Summer sport in Spain is a competition to fry eggs on pavement stones. Granite curb stones easily reach more than 100 ºC under the Sun rays. Imagine walking on them.

Worse still is that the air doesn't cool down at night, or not enough, and sleeping at more than 30 ºC or more near body temperature is very unhealthy, the body doesn't recuperate of the heat stress.

In Autumn the heat of the Mediterranean sends up enormous volumes of water that doesn't condensate and fall down as rain, mostly because the deforestation of the shores has been tremendous, so the warm and humid air blows on to Europe, where it cools and rains down.
In effect, in Autumn, Spain floods continental Europe.

Something ought to be done about it, perhaps forestation of the dry hills of Spain facing the sea could help, by increasing the rain in Spain and so less rains in Europe.

the rain in Spain...

Sometimes I can find comedy in the most serious things...

So how does the current heat compare with historical heatwaves?
I do hear about the pavement, there was a foolish person in Arizona who tried to walk across the street barefoot -they claim its very difficult to get skin grafts to take on the bottom of the feet. At least in California we seem to be done (at least for the next week).

Correction on what this site will look like after it's archived. SuperG has weighed in. He says his plan to leave the ability to log in, see each other's profiles, and edit your own profile.

However, you will not be able to post any comments starting 7 days after the site is archived, and no new accounts can be created.

And if anyone's curious...I asked SuperG how many servers we currently use. He said it's three. Two dedicated web servers, one dedicated database server. This is a huge site. Even after it's archived, the database is so large we may not be able to go to shared hosting.

Thank you for sharing that and correcting my incorrect memory of the configuration.

At an incredible $9.98 per gallon, Turkey has the most expensive gasoline in the world - almost triple that of the US - closely followed by Norway at $9.97. In fact, as Bloomberg notes, the US can celebrate its good fortune at being only the 51st most expensive country in the world for gasoline. So why is it then that so much is made of a rising gas price in the US? Why do we fear $3.80 when Turkey shows us things could be a lot worse? The simple answer lies in the chart below. The US spends the 7th most in the world on gasoline as a percentage of income and is by far the largest among developed economies as a percentage of income. At 3.06% of income, and being that the US is a consumption-based, low-quality-job, unaffordable-housing-means-driving-to-work nation, the possibility of $4 gas in the not-too-distant future (as Egyptian instability leaks into WTI prices) has a far greater impact on the US than any other of the world's large economies. But then again, we are sure it is all transitory.

The organization of USA with sprawling cities contribute a lot to the expense: You tends to have to drive a lot more to do the same things than elsewhere 5bring the kid to school, shopping, work...). I moved from California back to France (5th highest cost on your chart) and I spend far less on gas now than then even without trying that hard. Note that I was actually using public transporation in San diego area but it was not enough to have a really low gas usage. To have compact cities helps a lot even though I live in a small town 20 miles away from my work.

"the possibility of $4 gas in the not-too-distant future"

The difference between the current $3.80 and $4.00 isn't likely to make much difference. People around here have cut spending on other things to feed the cars. And by cars I mean His quad-cab pickup and Her full size SUV, or occasionally a mini-van.

I thought for awhile that higher gas prices would make a change in the preferred vehicle. But it didn't. There is a fertile ground for more than a few sociology papers here.

Anybody know why the money it takes to service the debt took such a big jump?


6 months bonds got matured ? December is also in that ballpark. Solution :: Extend and pretend followed by a delay and pray followed by a should I stay or should I go ? (Bernankes thoughts ... obviously)

An End to Eight Years of The Oil Drum contains 666 comments as I write this.

Close comments now! You'll not get a more fitting number.

Just want to add my regrets at the news. All things must pass, I suppose. I have learned much and hopefully will be a better and more energy-conscious citizen because of it.

666? Wow, I guess I was right about the coming fast crash.

Apparently in the dead sea scrolls there is a quote "and that number shall be 616". So don't get too hung up on this particular iteration of this fairy tale - although public perception counts, eg there were 7 of each clean animal on Noah's ark, not 2.

Let's keep our facts straight, shall we? /sarc>


7 'pairs' of each clean animal :)


666 is the sum of the number value of "Nero", the emperor. In some texts, Nero is spelled in a different way, and 666 is recalculated to 616 to fit the alternative spelling.

Yes, the closing down of The Oil Drum is very sad, and very bad news.
I owe a lot to Leanan and everybody here, I learn important things here and the level of intellectual discussion in DB is so very high.

It is not only TOD. In Spain the best energy related website, crashoil kept by Dr. Turiel, is still open but he had to stop the comments, swamped by trolls.

Dr Turiel still writes on these subjects, posts of a technical nature mostly and also is trying his hand at fiction, somewhat in the line of Kunstler.

If you can read Spanish, not the most difficult of languages to read, you may enjoy his recent six posts, or a story in six installments, about a future Europe in conflict after the end of oil,

"Dr Palermo, a Spanish scientist with a death sentence hanging on him, escapes to France where he is also sentenced to death, because of his great sin of hiding Free Tesla Energy from the pauper masses --at least in France they condemn him after some kind of a trial, in Spain they would had dispensed with that formality.

But Palermo manages to present the French with a unexpected source of energy --that also sends France on a war of conquest of its neighbors.
Dr Palermo runs away to Switzerland and the French Army is destroyed by a hurricane.
Then there is a surprising twist in the story, that involves Transmutation!".

The Macondo blowout was a big mess-up, and it is hard to know where to draw the line, but this seems to be moving beyond just retribution:

BP oil spill claims climb ahead of appeal day