Drumbeat: July 12, 2013

IEA hedges bets on new 20-year supply peak in non-OPEC oil

The International Energy Agency has painted a picture of softer market fundamentals in 2014, but gone to lengths to point out a number of intangibles which could ultimately derail its latest predictions.

Fleshing out for the first time its oil market forecasts for 2014, the IEA believes the US’ shale oil boom will continue to underpin surging non-OPEC supply next year.

Non-OPEC oil production should increase by more than 1.3 million b/d in 2014, the highest growth in 20 years, with US crude production alone making up 530,000 b/d of the growth forecast, the IEA forecast in its latest monthly report this week.

The two-decade peak in oil output growth from non-OPEC producers will outpace global demand growth and continue to dent OPEC’s share of the global oil market, it said.

WTI Crude Oil Futures Head for Third Weekly Advance

West Texas Intermediate crude headed for a third weekly increase, its longest run of gains since May, and is forecast to rise next week in a Bloomberg News survey amid speculation U.S. stimulus measures will continue.

Futures climbed as much as 0.9 percent in New York, and are on course for a 2.3 percent advance this week. U.S. crude stockpiles shrank, a government report showed earlier this week, while Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke called for maintaining bond purchases to revive the economy. Crude inventories fell by 9.87 million barrels last week, the Energy Department said July 10. Iraq halted oil exports on its pipeline to Turkey because of a fault, the North Oil Co. said.

“Investors have been relieved by the fact that quantitative easing will not be unwound as fast as Bernanke had indicated before,” said Hans van Cleef, an energy economist at ABN Amro Bank in Amsterdam. “As long as the Fed doesn’t signal that will change, that will keep prices elevated for the time being.”

Tanker Hiring Jumps to Six-Year High as IEA Sees Refining Surge

Bookings of the largest oil tankers jumped to the highest for the time of year since at least 2007 as demand for crude cargoes accelerates before a surge in oil refining projected by the International Energy Agency.

Traders and oil companies hired 126 very large crude carriers to load in July, according to data today from Marex Spectron Group, a London-based commodities and freight-derivatives broker. There are still more charters to arrange and it’s the second consecutive month when bookings have been at the highest for the period in Marex data starting in January 2007. The vessels each carry 2 million barrels.

Opec oil output drops on supply disruptions

Opec oil production in June dropped by 370,000 barrels a day, or 1.2 per cent, mainly because of worsening supply disruptions in Libya, Nigeria and Iraq, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The 12 Opec members pumped 30.61 million barrels a day last month compared with 30.98 million barrels in May, the Paris-based IEA said in its monthly oil-market report. That level still exceeds a target of 30m that the group reaffirmed at its last meeting on May 31.

Gas prices seen rising sharply within days

Gasoline is expected to jump 10 to 20 cents per gallon in the next several days, as rising oil prices and peak driving season create a perfect storm for higher prices.

Industry experts say gasoline prices at the pump should follow the already higher prices in the spot wholesale market. The national average at the pump Wednesday was $3.50 per gallon for unleaded gasoline, up two cents from Tuesday's level, according to AAA's Fuel Gauge report.

Increased gas prices? Don't blame unrest in Egypt

"Going along with 'drill, drill, drill' is now 'ship, ship, ship,' " said John Kilduff, energy analyst with Again Capital. "The bottleneck has been addressed in Cushing [Okla]. We're seeing those inventories plunge. We're seeing it from all the rail movement. It's having an impact, as are the pipeline reversals."

India paying ‘bubble’ price for crude oil

The world faced an oil price bubble in July 2008 when crude price hit an all-time high of $147 or Rs6,333. While the dollar price of oil is about 33% lower than that now, the Indian price has breached the all-time high. This is because of the massive devaluation of the India rupee, which reflects, among things, the massive loot and inefficiency by a regime led by a trained economist, Dr Manmohan Singh.

Opec report concedes threat from US shale boom

Opec conceded yesterday that the North American shale boom is challenging its position in the market. It comes just weeks after its members downplayed the significance of rising shale oil production.

Shale to reduce Opec market share

Surging shale oil production will cost Opec market share next year and push global crude supply beyond demand, predicts the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The IEA's assessment comes a day after Opec, for the first time, acknowledged the threat of shale oil to its market position.

Wildfires Spur Surging Los Angeles Power Costs

Los Angeles wholesale power will probably reach record premiums versus prices in San Francisco this summer as the long-distance transmission lines needed to make up for reduced local capacity are threatened by wildfires.

Southern California power spreads have already jumped to their widest of the year as the region has been unable to replace the generating capacity lost with the permanent shutdown of the San Onofre nuclear plant. Hydroelectric output, which normally supplies about 15 percent of the state’s power, has dropped to the lowest level since 2008.

Eskom Has $25 Bn Hole Bonds Can’t Fill: S. Africa Credit

Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. is facing a $25 billion funding gap over the next five years that the South African power utility may be unable to fill with bond sales, jeopardizing timetables for building plants to avoid blackouts.

Cyprus Studies LNG Export Expansion Beyond $12 Billion Terminal

Cyprus, the Mediterranean island that reported its first offshore natural-gas find in 2011, is studying an expansion of planned export capacity to help revive economic growth.

The country may build as many as five liquefied natural gas production lines, or trains, in addition to a planned $12 billion, three-train terminal near Limassol, according to Cyprus National Hydrocarbons Co., in charge of all gas developments. Extra gas for the plants could come from nearby countries.

NEB denies request to dub Chevron refinery ‘priority destination’ for crude

CALGARY — The National Energy Board has denied Chevron’s request to deem its refinery in Burnaby, B.C., a “priority destination” for crude shipped on Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline.

The Canadian unit of Chevron Corp. brought the case before the regulator more than a year ago because it said it wasn’t been able to economically access enough crude for the 55,000-barrel-per-day refinery.

Exxon’s $735 Million Ukraine Pledge Shows Black Sea Zeal

Exxon Mobil Corp is so confident of prospects in the unexplored Black Sea it will spend $735 million to drill just two deep-water wells off Ukraine’s coast.

The outlay comprises a $335 million signing bonus for Ukraine’s government and a promise to spend a further $400 million on seismic surveys and drilling two wells, according to an Energy Ministry official. After making a natural gas discovery in neighboring Romania that may flow fast enough to supply half of that country’s consumption, Exxon plans exploration in Bulgaria, Russia and Ukraine.

Iraq's Kirkuk crude shut again following second failed restart

(Platts) - Iraq's Kirkuk crude oil grade has been shut again following a second failed attempt to restart flows along the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline, crude oil traders said Friday.

Have Tehran's Tankers Hijacked the Tanzanian Flag?

When President Obama visited Tanzania last week, he praised the East African country as a place with which he feels a “special connection.” A glitch he did not mention is that Tanzania has developed a special connection of its own — to Iran’s main oil tanker fleet. Since turning up last year as a leading flag of convenience for sanctioned Iranian ships, Tanzania just can’t seem to cut itself loose.

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood Calls for Protests

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood plans new protests today against the army’s ouster of Islamist Mohamed Mursi as president and the military-backed interim administration that’s seeking to arrest its leaders.

“Millions of Egyptians are going to flood Cairo’s streets tomorrow defending their choice and their legitimate president and opposing dictatorship,” Hamza Zawba, a spokesman for the Brotherhood’s political arm, said yesterday by phone.

Egypt's overthrow of Morsi creates uncertainty for Islamists everywhere

It was a Ramadan gift with a difference: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates dipped into their oil revenues this week to stump up a cool $12bn (£8bn) to bail out cash-strapped Egypt – a swift reward for the army's removal of President Mohamed Morsi and the stunning blow to his Muslim Brotherhood.

Morsi's removal was a big moment in the unfinished story of the Egyptian revolution. But it is also posing troubling questions for Islamists elsewhere. Can they hold on to power where they have it or win it where they do not? And does the coup against the democratically elected leader of the Arab world's largest country – albeit an unpopular and incompetent one – mean that others will shun the ballot box and turn to violence?

Egypt's Brotherhood is calling it a "naksa" (setback in Arabic). "It is like 9/11 in its magnitude," argues the independent Saudi historian Madawi al-Rasheed. "The Muslim Brothers managed to repackage themselves as moderate Islamists. Hopes were raised after the 2011 uprisings and now they are back at square one."

Pemex Contracts Draw Little Interest Before Possible Energy Bill

Spain’s Repsol SA and China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. were among companies that withdrew bids to develop blocks at Petroleos Mexicanos’s Chicontepec field, a sign of waning exploration interest before a possible reform of Mexico’s energy industry.

Three of the six blocks auctioned by Pemex at Chicontepec, which is estimated to contain 40 percent of Mexico’s hydrocarbon reserves, didn’t receive any bids from 16 authorized groups. Halliburton Co. (HAL) won the Humapa block and Petrolite de Mexico SA was awarded the Soledad block contract, Pemex said today in a broadcast on its website. No companies bid on Pitepec, which had the most reserves among the blocks.

The Oil Bubble Peaks

The ongoing anger against commodity speculation in general, and oil speculation in particular, gave rise to the Obama administration's drive to limit such overinvestment in 2012. At that time, The New York Times reported that speculators were responsible for as much as 40% of the present price of oil. However, little has been done to reform the way oil is traded, and considering that roughly 80% of all oil contracts are still bought and sold by speculators, it seems that little political will exists to reform the process.

Stanford: 'Peak Oil' Concerns Should Ease

Limits to consumption by the wealthy, better fuel efficiency and lower priced alternative fuels should begin driving down demand for oil around 2035, according to new analysis.

More Signs of ‘Peak Us’ in New Study of ‘Peak Oil Demand’

Back in 2010, I asked this question: “Which Comes First – Peak Everything or Peak Us?” My focus was whether humans could use the gift of foresight to curb resource appetites in ways that would avoid having the peak imposed on us by shortages or human-induced environmental shifts like climate disruption.

There are growing signs the answer is yes. First came work pointing to “peak travel.” Then I wrote about a study foreseeing “peak farmland” — an end to the need to keep pressing into untrammeled ecosystems to expand agriculture.

We’re running out of water? Get a grip, greens

The trouble with the ‘peak oil’ hypothesis is that events keep proving it wrong. New, untapped fields are found, as happened recently off the coast of Brazil. More importantly, as oil prices rise, there’s a greater incentive to develop new technology. For example, in the US there are both shale gas and shale oil ‘revolutions’ in progress, where fracking techniques allow gas and oil trapped in rocks to be released. As Matt Ridley noted recently: ‘After falling for 30 years, US oil production rocketed upwards in the past three years. In 1995, the Bakken field was reckoned by the US Geological Survey to hold a trivial 151million barrels of recoverable oil. In 2008, this was revised upwards to nearly four billion barrels; two months ago that number was doubled. It is a safe bet that it will be revised upwards again.’

Shell shuts major Nigeria pipeline due to leak

Shell has shut a major pipeline in Nigeria for the second time in less than a month after locating another leak on the line repeatedly hit by oil thieves, the company said on Friday.

The shutdown of the Trans Niger Pipeline will result in a cut of about 150,000 barrels of oil per day in Africa's biggest oil producer. Nigeria's total output has been at around two million barrels per day.

Leaner BP Blanches at Bill for Cleanup

HOUSTON — Three years after its disastrous oil rig accident in the Gulf of Mexico, BP has managed to strengthen its finances by divesting itself of less profitable operations, ramping up new oil production in the North Sea and Angola and reducing its exposure to volatile investments in Russia.

But one wild card continues to menace the company: BP’s bill to compensate thousands of Gulf spill claimants is spiraling beyond what it expected and could take billions of dollars out of its future earnings.

Quebec train set too few brakes, with deadly result

(Reuters) - The handbrake is the railroad industry's ultimate fail-safe mechanism. It is supposed to help avert disasters like the one that engulfed a Canadian town on Saturday, when a runaway train loaded with oil hurtled downhill, derailed and exploded, leaving 50 people dead or missing.

The railroad initially blamed the catastrophe on the failure of the train's pneumatic airbrakes after an engine fire, but the company acknowledged on Wednesday that the train's engineer did not apply an adequate number of handbrakes to hold the train in place, and failed to comply with regulations.

Risks of One-Man Rail Crews Debated in Wake of Disaster

The train hauling millions of gallons of crude oil that slammed into a Canadian town got there with a crew of one -- staffing permitted by law though opposed by labor leaders who’ve warned of the risks.

The union representing workers at Montreal Maine & Atlantic Railway Ltd. fought the company policy that allowed a solo operator to drive and park the train for the night and says the disaster points to the dangers of manpower cuts.

Quebec Train Derailment Fire Seen from Space

When a runaway oil train derailed and exploded in a small town in Quebec over the weekend, it sparked an inferno that was visible from space.

Quebec Train Crash Taints Railroad CEO’s Legend Status

Rail World Inc. Chief Executive Officer Edward Burkhardt has gone from railroad industry legend to Canada’s public enemy No. 1 in less than a week.

The executive, 74, once named Railroader of the Year by Railway Age magazine, has gotten death threats after a freight train operated by his Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railways crashed in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, killing as many as 50 people. Quebec Premier Pauline Marois criticized him for taking too long to visit the accident site and Maclean’s, Canada’s largest newsmagazine, called him “the most hated man” in the town, which sits 16 kilometers (10 miles) from the Maine border.

Fracking Wastewater Disposal Seen Linked to Earthquakes

Disposing of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing may make fault zones more prone to earthquakes, according to researchers from Columbia University and the University of Oklahoma.

The researchers found a “profound” increase in the number of earthquakes at three sites where wastewater from fracking was injected into the ground, said Nicholas van der Elst, a scientist at Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, New York, and lead author of an article published today in the journal Science.

Living on 'Gasland:' Q&A with Documentary Filmmaker Josh Fox

When Josh Fox received notice that a natural gas company was interested in drilling a well on his property in exchange for $100,000, he set out to investigate exactly how the towering derricks and squat-looking wells that dot the land in some 34 states affect the lives of those whose backyards have suddenly become a goldmine for hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

In 2010, Fox released his first documentary on fracking. The film, called "Gasland," brought to light the widespread water contamination, air pollution and health hazards associated with the practice of injecting pressurized water and chemicals deep underground to fracture rock formations that then release natural gas.

Activists climb London's Shard skyscraper in dramatic protest over Arctic drilling

LONDON -- Six environmental activists were attempting to the climb the 1,017-foot Shard skyscraper Thursday in a dramatic protest against drilling in the Arctic by oil companies.

Out, Damned Spot

The Chicago Architecture Foundation offers a boat tour of the city’s architectural highlights that made for a delightful way to pass the afternoon on the Fourth of July. One of the more interesting aspects of the tour, strangely enough, is in revealing how recent skyscrapers by the Chicago River deal with their parking needs. The famous Marina Towers flaunt their 19 floors of parking by leaving the cars exposed to full view from the streets. Many structures simply feature a flat, windowless parking pedestal, atop which an elegant structure is perched. But the tour leader also pointed out a more original configuration for residential structures: The parking pedestal is wrapped with pseudo-townhouses, and then an apartment tower is stacked atop it.

But why so much parking smack-dab in the middle of Chicago’s Loop, a walkable area that’s well-served by heavy-rail transit and many buses? The culprit is a regulatory scourge so ubiquitous as to be nearly invisible: regulatory parking mandates that tax the poor to subsidize the rich while damaging the environment and the broader economy.

China Must Avoid Overreliance on Cars

Urbanization is an important part of China's strategy to rebalance its economy away from export-oriented manufacturing and toward higher-value economic activities, services and domestic consumption.

For China's cities to serve that strategy, they must become more livable. China must not build cities around cars, but rather around people. And this needs to happen fast, at a scale that matches China's incredible pace of urbanization.

Though the United States pioneered the car-dependent suburb, mounting evidence suggests that development pattern is falling out of favor. A new analysis by Michael Sivak of the University of Michigan finds that motorization in the United States (as measured by car ownership per person) might have passed its peak. The number of miles driven per person declined in 2012 for the fifth straight year — the first time that has happened since World War II.

China to limit car sales in fight against air pollution

China, struggling to cope with worsening smog problems as roads in Shanghai and Beijing become choked with traffic, plans new restrictions on vehicle sales in some key cities.

Such limits are already in place in four major cities, and another eight will be added to the list, according to reports published Thursday by China’s state media. It’s not clear if the expanded list will make exceptions for those buying lower-polluting battery-cars, as has been the case in the past.

Beyond Tesla: Rival Electric Car Makers Shred Sticker Prices

Much like consumer electronics, the price of an electric car seems to drop each year. This is not, however, the story of a new product enthralling buyers and moving into the mass market. No, this is a cautionary tale. Just because you build it doesn’t mean they will come—especially if they’re worried about getting stranded on the roadside with a dead battery.

Fatal Lake Arlington trail accident renews calls for safety

"They don't know if you're old or you're lame," said Ilic, who has had a double knee replacement and fears what a collision with a bike would do to her. "They expect you to move out of the way."

Conversely, Schmitz said pedestrians often walk two and three abreast — taking up much of the path and making it difficult for bicyclists to navigate around them.

Communication between all patrons of the path is often hindered by people wearing earbuds or using their cellphones, both Ilic and Schmitz said.

Vote looms in Ga. over solar power usage

ATLANTA (AP) -- A political group founded by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch wants Georgia's utility regulators to reject a plan requiring Southern Co. to buy more solar energy, but an Associated Press review ahead of a vote on the issue finds that it has used misleading figures to build its case.

The Georgia chapter of Americans For Prosperity has said in mass emails and on Twitter that a proposal requiring Southern Co. subsidiary Georgia Power to buy more solar energy could raise energy bills by 40 percent. A review of those figures shows the claim is misleading, and there's a debate over how much solar energy might cost.

Fallon: future onshore wind should be left to the Scots

Onshore wind's contribution to the power mix will "probably" come from Scotland not England, according to energy minister Michael Fallon.

In an exclusive interview with Utility Week, Fallon said the consent rate had dropped in England and was likely to get lower, while Scotland benefitted from "wider open spaces".

Indonesia to charge Malaysian firm for smog fires

Indonesia will file charges against the local unit of Malaysia's third-largest palm oil planter over illegal fires that blanketed Singapore and Malaysia with hazardous smog last month, police said today.

Air pollution causes lung cancer, worsens heart failure, studies find

Air pollution can cause lung cancer and seems to worsen heart failure, researchers reported in two studies released Tuesday.

Both show the more pollution, the more disease. One study looked at lung cancer cases across Europe; the other looked at hospitalization for heart failure in several countries, including the United States.

Backyard chickens dumped at shelters when hipsters can't cope, critics say

She hopes the enthusiasm for raising backyard chickens will fade and that consumers will take a second look at their appetite for eggs and poultry.

“To go back in time sounds wonderful,” she said. “But there is not enough land on this earth to sustain the amount of meat, dairy and milk that people want.”

Montgomery cultivates a new crop of farmers

“I’ve spent my life in kitchens that are 130 degrees, and I’m used to being on my feet for 12 hours at a time, but there is no workout like farming,” Mills said recently, staring at the mountain of mulch he needed to move across his freshly plowed acre. The 46-year-old son of a Shakespeare scholar — drenched in sweat, already behind on his planting because of recent rains — had been a farmer for 26 days.

“Every day, I get up with a thousand things to do, but I love doing them,” said Mills, who hopes to have almost 500 tomato and pepper plants in the ground soon. “This was an opportunity I just had to seize, ready or not.”

Mills’s sudden shift backward in the food chain — from the strawberry tart to the strawberry seeds — came through a new Montgomery County effort to match wannabe farmers with unused farmland in the county’s vast Agricultural Reserve. Hoping to boost actual farming in the 93,000-acre zone, Montgomery officials set up a pilot program to find landowners willing to lease their fields to newbie planters.

One grower’s grapes of wrath

The national raisin reserve might sound like a fever dream of the Pillsbury Doughboy. But it is a real thing — a 64-year-old program that gives the U.S. government a heavy-handed power to interfere with the supply and demand for dried grapes.

It works like this: In a given year, the government may decide that farmers are growing more raisins than Americans will want to eat. That would cause supply to outstrip demand. Raisin prices would drop. And raisin farmers might go out of business.

To prevent that, the government does something drastic. It takes away a percentage of every farmer’s raisins. Often, without paying for them.

California grows all of our fruits and vegetables. What would we eat without the state?

Price surges would eventually become the larger issue. Rising prices would force Americans to consume more grains, which are locked in a complicated price-dependent relationship with fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats. When the price of produce increases, people eat more grain. When the price of grain drops, people eat more fruits and vegetables. (In fact, in some parts of the world, wheat and rice are the only proven “Giffen goods” — a product in which decreasing prices lead to decreasing demand.) Young people and the poor in America, more than others, eat less fresh food when prices rise.

The loss of California’s output would create a dire situation for at least a decade. History suggests, however, that we’d eventually find a way to cope. A state’s agricultural makeup can evolve surprisingly quickly — California’s certainly did. In the 1860s, the state’s leading crops were wheat and corn. Beginning in the 1880s, however, the state ceased to be the nation’s breadbasket and became its fruit and vegetable basket. Rail-links made transcontinental food shipments possible.

Fruits, vegetables meant to aid Ohio river renewal

CINCINNATI (AP) — Berry bushes and squash vines, apple and pear saplings, and inches-high corn plants growing now are envisioned to blossom into an "edible forest garden" in urban Cincinnati for the benefit of joggers, bicyclists, hikers and those who simply want to relax along a waterway.

Community forest and gardening efforts have been popping up across the country, from Seattle to Pittsburgh, including other urban gardens in this city along the Ohio River. But this new project combines the goals of providing a new source of fresh fruit and vegetables for city dwellers with a long-term effort to renew the river, which has been polluted for decades.

Why People Don't Learn from Natural Disasters

People never seem to learn from disasters, Meyer said. "We underattend to the future, we too quickly forget the past and we too readily follow the lead of people who are no less myopic than we are," he said.

When Hurricane Camille hit the city of Pass Christian, Miss., in 1969, it flattened a large apartment complex, killing everyone inside. A shopping center was built in its place, and the same thing happened again in 2005 with Hurricane Katrina. Now, developers want to build condominiums on that land, Meyer said.

Weak economy means fewer babies (at least for now)

LAS VEGAS — The four-bedroom house that Skye Pearce and Bryan Haas moved into in 2004 was meant to be the place where the couple would settle down and raise a family.

But nearly 10 years and countless financial setbacks later, the bedrooms where Pearce and Haas envisioned their children sleeping are being used for storage and an office. The kid-friendly ledge that runs along the swimming pool is a favorite spot for their dog, Lucky. And Pearce and Haas, now in their forties, say they have never reached that point where they felt financially secure enough to have the children they always wanted.

Do Unto Exxon as You Would Do Unto Yourself

Last week’s resolution on climate change by the General Synod of the United Church of Christ has garnered mostly admiring attention from the news media. But I must admit to a degree of perplexity and sorrow over the document, which seems to place the blame for our heavy use of fossil fuels on the companies that produce them -- not the consumers who demand them.

Report: Use of coal to generate power rises

Power plants in the United States are burning coal more often to generate electricity, reversing the growing use of natural gas and threatening to increase domestic emissions of greenhouse gases after a period of decline, according to a federal report.

Coal's share of total domestic power generation in the first four months of 2013 averaged 39.5 percent, compared with 35.4 percent during the same period last year, according to the Energy Information Administration, the analytical branch of the Energy Department.

US power plants at risk from climate change, government says

Power plants across the US are at increased risk of temporary shutdown and reduced power generation as temperatures and sea levels continue to rise and water becomes less available, the country's Department of Energy said.

By 2030, there will be nearly $US1 trillion in energy assets in the Gulf region alone at risk from increasingly costly extreme hurricanes and sea-level rises, according to the Energy Department report on the impact of climate change on energy infrastructure.

Climate Change Impact on Energy: Five Proposed Safeguards

Here are five key technologies the DOE identified for a more "climate-resilient U.S. energy sector," some of them already being deployed.

More Major Hurricanes Coming This Century

Strong hurricanes could hit Asia and the U.S. East Coast more often this century, a new study finds.

The research adds to a growing body of evidence that hurricanes are becoming more intense as global warming heats the oceans. This means Category 1, 2 and 3 storms will have fiercer winds, bumping them up to Category 3, 4 and higher. Overall, the study's modeling approach predicts a 40 percent global increase in tropical cyclones of Category 3 and higher during the 21st century.

The question of whether enough of the train's handbrakes were used may affect the liability of the rail company - Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway (MMA) - and could spur an overhaul in regulation. One key question is if fault can be linked to MMA's own handbrake practice, or to the lone engineer who operated the train, or to a regulatory code that gives rail operators too much slack, experts said.

This system require rigorous procedures to be safe and if left to a lone person it is just a matter of time before something will went wrong. It must also be really simple to sabotage or deactivate by playing childrens.

To be sure, unforeseen circumstances left MMA's train at the mercy of its handbrakes. The train's pneumatic brakes, which run on compressed air and are the first line of defense, had been shut down by firefighters when they switched off an engine that had caught fire after the engineer left.

Main problem is this is an active system and left uncontrolled!! If there is no really good reason the breaks should be activated with springs or similar so that if not actively operated the breaks will be active unless there are a really good reason.

It is not yet clear what caused the fire, but the shutting down of the engine prompted the pneumatic braking system to gradually leak air and lose its track-gripping power.

Actually a very stupid failsafe system.

The engineers who constructed or built this system with time to think thru everything should be much more to blame than the lonely worker who left the train.

Just heard a great comment on CBC political commentary about 'the crash'.

"This was American oil being shipped by an American rail company for American consumers....through Canada, and it wiped out a Canadian town. We have heard from the Canadian Prime Minister, the Pope, the Queen, but haven't heard one thing from President Obama".

I guess he's too busy targeting drones, or something. Maybe too busy saving the world from Global Warming. Often, simple lapses and bad manners are the very foundation of deteriorating relationships. It is probably far to late to do the right thing on this one. If the press picks up on this it will go viral in Canada.


You said it all.

Actually, the reports I've read say the oil was destined for New Brunswick (Canada). While parts of Western Canada "produce" more oil (from tar sands) than they know what to do with, Eastern Canada is an oil importer. These rail shipments of landlocked "fracked" oil from North Dakota are cheaper for them than Middle Eastern oil delivered by sea at world market prices.

Quebec's Lac-Mégantic Oil Train Disaster Not Just Tragedy, But Corporate Crime

... The deeper evidence about this event won't be found in the train's black box, or by questioning the one engineer who left the train before it loosened and careened unmanned into the heart of this tiny town. For that you'll have to look at how Lac-Mégantic was hit by a perfect storm of greed, deregulation and an extreme energy rush driving companies to ever greater gambles with the environment and human life.

The crude carried on the rail-line of US-based company Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway – "fracked" shale oil from North Dakota – would not have passed through Lac-Mégantic five years ago. That's because it's part of a boom in dirty, unconventional energy, as fossil fuel companies seek to supplant the depletion of easy oil and gas with new sources – sources that are harder to find, nastier to extract, and more complicated to ship.

Like the Alberta tar sands, or the shale deposits of the United States, these energy sources are so destructive and carbon-intensive that leading scientists have made a straightforward judgment: to avert runaway climate change, they need to be kept in the ground. It's a sad irony that Quebec is one of the few places to currently ban the "fracking" used to extract the Dakotan oil that devastated Lac-Mégantic.

I agree. An active system cannot be failsafe, this is a contradiction.

I doubt it was designed to be used this way, but the elimination of the position of the brakeman left only the ability to run the airbrakes and operate a couple of hand brakes.

I have no doubt there are similar practices in many industrial areas, as we have all become so accustomed to the continuous availability of energy that the potential problems with active systems are no longer obvious. Such that people will read about how an active system is failsafe and not bat an eye over the absurdity.

In my opinion, it's a difficulty, a challenge, but not a contradiction.

In many systems, there final fail-safe is completely passive. Sometimes it's redundantly so.

In this case, being able to roll a car by gravity on purpose is a convenience that enables a pathological ability for the car to roll by gravity unattended. There is no reason that the purposeful action could not include a mechanical timer or pneumatic hold-off that would enable free-rolling for only 30 seconds or whatever. Or the rolling action could bleed a hold-off, or ratchet on a brake, or any number of other mechanisms.

Usually the case is simply that increased fail-safe resilience carries cost and maintenance that offsets the safety value. It is very hard to add resilience or fail-safe for free. In this case expense a manual brake added expense but required a human process. This presents opportunities for human-factor issues. I would argue the trade-off went the wrong way, and human action should be required to roll an unpowered but attended train rather than to prevent movement of an unattended train.

This rail accident and the recent plane crash appear to be to be human factor failures. Human-in-the-loop processes are forever risk-prone (but enviably flexible compared to automatic systems).

Those of you who have both automatic and standard cars in the driveway will know of what I speak: how often have you gotten into the manual and found the parking brake off? Driving the automatic, you (or your spouse) unconsciously grow to rely on the parking pall, and grow neglectful of the parking brake. Really, the parking brake SHOULD go on automatically, and require manual release before driving. Same problem as the train.

I always use the parking brake on either automatics or manuals. I do not see a design issue on the train brakes - there are manual brakes that can be applied, there just isn't anyone to apply them.

I disagree by agreeing. In this day and age, any process that relies on people for safety is a liability. The fact that there isn't anybody there to apply them (there was, though -- just he apparently didn't do ENOUGH) is problem enough. People do the bare minimum often, and occasionally not quite that.

A manual process is bad. A skilled-person process is worse.

The other problem is the town rail design. If you're on an inclined rail area, you really should plan for runaway trains. Ditto for trucks after steep grades. Crap happens.

Really good catastrophes require multiple faults interacting in complex ways to manifest. Steep grade, engine fire, questionable standards, error-prone process, thin staffing, combustible cargo, tight curve, dense habitation -- all played some sort of role.

A little S curve a half-mile from town would have been a nice failsafe too.

Compressed air brake systems are typically used on heavy trucks and buses. The system consists of service brakes, parking brakes, a control pedal, air storage tank. For the parking brake, there is a disc or drum brake arrangement which is designed to be held in the 'applied' position by spring pressure. Air pressure must be produced to release these "spring brake" parking brakes.

Air brake road vehicle

If there is one spring on each brake there will automatically be redudancy. I guess on trains there is a need to temporary disable a fail safe mechanism like this and it could be done with a compressed air tank with bleed off unless there are any patent issues of course.

Main problem is this is an active system and left uncontrolled!! If there is no really good reason the breaks should be activated with springs or similar so that if not actively operated the breaks will be active unless there are a really good reason.

As I posted over on theplanetdrum.com, the cars need to be able to roll free for a very good reason. Classification Yards, specifically

Hump Yards

These are the largest and most effective classification yards, with the largest shunting capacity—often several thousand cars a day. The heart of these yards is the hump: a lead track on a hill (hump) that an engine pushes the cars over. Single cars, or some coupled cars in a block, are uncoupled just before or at the crest of the hump, and roll by gravity onto their destination tracks in the classification bowl (the tracks where the cars are sorted)

These are used when assembling/disassembling trains or inserting/removing cars along the way.

The system is also constrained by logistics: The rolling stock today has to be pretty-much back-compatible with Victorian era railways. If I design a carriage with a microprocessor-controlled WiFi system there are no Engines that can activate it. If I do the same to the engine there are Millions(?) of rolling stock that won't be listening.

I can see that the carriage must be able to roll freely and be stopped, whether or not it is connected to an air supply, and can be coupled to every other car in North America. The Westinghouse brake has obviously been the best compromise, and the operators have figured out how to make it work (like apparently you cannot reduce braking pressure - you can add it incrementally but have to take it all off at once, then cannot be reapplied immediately!). It is 'fail safe' in the sense that if a line breaks the train will stop, so the brakeman can then get out and fix it. It is not 'fail-safe' in the long term, once pressure is lost.

This is not my field, but read this
then get back to me with your perfect design!

It sounds to me like the lone trainman saved himself an hour of work walking the length of the train setting manual brakes, and another hour in the morning releasing them - by just leaving the engine running all night. How long was his shift? Tell me you would not do the same after 10 or 12 hours. Maybe this is why every other line in the world requires 2 crew.

On a tangentially related note, these 70 x 100 ton carriages replaced 140 x 50 ton 'B' train semi trailers + drivers. It seems for every level of complexity the safely statistics go up as do the consequences of a failure.


Around here semi trailers are usually fitted with maxi brakes, which require air pressure to release the brakes. The truck cannot be driven until the trailer(s) have full air pressure and if air pressure drops braking takes place and the truck halts.


I think the main problem is that the railroad is using the active braking system as a parking brake, a use for which it was not intended. It is like parking a car with hydraulic brakes on a hill, leaving the engine idling to keep the brakes operating and placing a brick on the brake pedal to keep the brakes engaged instead of using the manual parking brake. If the engine shuts off, the hydraulic system would shut down releasing the brakes allowing the car to roll down the hill.

Here's a video on setting a handbrake--in case some of you are not familiar with it:

Now for something serious, here is a real safety film from 1972.


Setting hand brakes start about 11 minutes in. This guy really puts himself in harms way to show the wrong way to do things.

Why can't they just report how much oil supply is offline?

Enbridge Restarts Line 37 Pipeline, Returns Athabasca Pipeline to Full Service

Line 37 had been shut down June 22 as a result of a release of light synthetic crude oil caused by high rains which led to 1-in-100 year water levels that triggered ground movement on the right-of-way. The Athabasca Pipeline and other pipelines sharing a corridor with Line 37 had been shut down as a precaution. Following extensive engineering and geotechnical analysis, as well as excavation and inspection at several points on the pipeline, the northern segment of the Athabasca Pipeline was returned to service at reduced pressure July 1; the southern segment has been operating at normal pressure since June 23. The Wood Buffalo Pipeline (Line 75) continues to operate at reduced pressure pending completion of inspection on that line.

Quebec train set too few brakes, with deadly result.

The article doesn't say whether the 11 handbrakes were set before or after the fire.

11 was probably adequate if the locomotive had continued to idle all night.

When the fire occurred and the engine was shut down, more handbrakes should have been set at that time.

Actually a very stupid failsafe system.

The real stupididy is calling it "Failsafe".

With all due respect,nothing is failsafe when left unattended.Unfortunatly the amount of brakes to be applied would probably be left to the crew,(apply sufficient brakes,then do a pull or tug test with the engine,pulling the slack,and testing the hand brakes.The real issue is why leave a train unattended on the main track,that is the question I pose to safety regulators.

In this case the crew consisted of only an engineer,that protocol has been brought to question as well.

Yeah: why don't they park an overnight-resting train on a side track? Especially in an area that is on a slope.

The MOL Comfort saga is over.

June 17, Breaks in 2 halves.
June 25, Tugs commence towing bow section.
June 27, stern section sinks just as salvers reach the scene.
July 2, bow section breaks free.
July 6, fire breaks out.
July 10, bow section sinks.


Hopefully the future archaeologists with the energy to go to the oceans bottom to find those shipping containers will be bemused.

Here's an article from Market Watch posted yesterday:

What you didn’t know about oil’s climb above $100

“This is a [U.S.] domestic issue,” said Gramatovich. “The Egypt situation is being used as a scapegoat for the reality of the market.”

He expects shale oil, which has contributed to rising production in the U.S., to “fade rapidly over the coming years.”

Depletion rates are “astronomical” for fracked wells — as much as 80% to 90% in the first year, he said.

“You need to keep punching holes to keep it flowing,” he said, and “given that these wells are incredibly expensive to drill, the economics are very sketchy.”

Maybe Mr. Market is about to learn the hard truth about finite resources...

E. Swanson

Global oil production since 2005 has edged up about 0.5% per year, according to Hummel. Global exports have declined because of domestic consumption growth in exporting countries. "

I often get blank stares when I mention this. The ELM thing just doesn't compute with many, that these countries can, will, and do use more of their (often declining) domestic production. Imperial groupthink says it shouldn't be so.

I just learned what the pay for gas in Egypt . . . 26 cents a liter . . . so around a $1/gallon. They pay $1/gallon in a very poor (now) oil-importing nation. And if you try to eliminate the subsidy, the people will riot.

This will not end well no matter who is in charge.

When the interim government proposed that right off the bat, I was shocked. Next, they started rounding up the opposition. Seems like they cannot make up their mind whether they want a revolution or a civil war.

This will not end well no matter who is in charge

It's not only Egypt either. The Export Land Model is coming home to roost in quite a few places. Go take a walk on the wild side and browse through a few potential tinderboxes over at The Energy Export Data Browser. There's an awful lot of potential out there for things not ending well.

What I wonder is how long before people really put two and two together and finally figure out that what was simply can't continue to be.

Perhaps after the tenth revolution/riot and changing of the guard with things only continuing to get worse you figure it might dawn on them, eh?

To me it boils down to the following the people are out in the street chanting: "WE WANT CARS! WE WANT CARS!" and Momma Nature is telling them to: "GO TO YOUR ROOMS AND NO SUPPER FOR YOU!"

What person/Leader in their right mind want's to be the one to tell these people the hard truth?

In these areas with lots of poor people, the people figure cheap subsidized gas was the only break they got. Even if you couple cutting subsidies with raising other benefits, they people just don't buy it. Goodluck Johnathan tried that a couple of years back in Nigeria, and had to relent because of civil strife. I don't think they will be able to pull this off.

The only way a country can stop subsidizing the price of fuel is for that country to first spend huge amounts of money building a good and affordable electrified public mass transit system. people will need to have an affordable and effective alternative. You can't hit folks with low incomes with a fuel price increase if they don't have an alternative they can afford.

That has to happen for countries like India that are net importers and it has to happen for the likes of Saudi Arabia whose net export capacity continues to decline.

But the thing is the MUST stop the subsidies. They simply do not have the oil or money to pay for them. Egypt is borderline bankrupt. That's why you've seen neighboring Arab countries give them $12Billion in aid. That aid makes the $1.5Billion that we give based on our Camp David Peace Accords obligations that people are whining about look like nothing.

Saudi Arabia’s Long Search for Gas Ending With Low Price

Saudi Arabia’s decade-long search for natural gas is ending with only two companies finding fields, and those drillers need higher prices to move forward.

Royal Dutch Shell Plc and OAO Lukoil are nearing the end of well tests in the Empty Quarter desert. The future of any output hinges on talks with the government, which pays an official gas price of 75 cents per million BTU. In the U.S. gas costs about $3.70 per million BTU, while Japan pays at least $12 for imports. China and India are increasing state-set rates.

The failure of Saudi Arabia’s gas ambitions would be felt around the world. The country needs the commodity to boost power generation, in turn freeing up more crude oil for export that otherwise would have been burned locally as Saudi energy use rises by 8 percent a year [internal use would double in 9 yrs]. A breakdown in talks may shut off foreigners’ last access to the nation’s hydrocarbon reserves.

Regardless of a pricing accord with the government, Lukoil and The Hague-based Shell still plan to produce condensates, a form of liquid gas that can be sold as crude oil since it can be easily turned into gasoline

Mother (Russia) lode: Vast extent of oil, gas reserves revealed for first time

According to declassified data Russia holds 17 billion tons of oil and 48 billion cubic meters of gas. Moscow believes revealing the extent of the vast reserves will lead to a surge of investment in the extraction and production of hydrocarbons.

The country’s recoverable oil reserves in the C1 category (proven reserves) totals 17.8 billion tons (130 billion bbls); category C2 (preliminary estimated reserves) is 10.2 billion tons (75 billion bbls), according to data collected on January 1, 2012.

Meanwhile, gas reserves were equally bountiful at 48.8 trillion cubic meters C1 category; gas stores of the C2 category is estimated at 19.6 trillion cubic meters.

Last week, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev signed a government decree that removed the lid of secrecy on oil reserve data

Wake up sleepy head
I think the suns a little brighter today
Smile and watch the icicles melt away and see the water rising...
Summers here to stay, and those sweet summer girls will dance forever
Go down to the shore, kick off your shoes, dive in the empty ocean.

-Dive In by Dave Matthews Band

So C1+C2 oil reserves in the world's largest oil "producer" is equal to about 6 years of world consumption. That's quite a bit of wealth, but nothing to keep us complacent. So much for the "end of peak oil".

From the linked article:

Russia’s available hydrocarbon potential will be able to provide the nation’s growing economy for 30 years, according to expert estimates put out by the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources and the Federal State Commission on Mineral Reserves.

Anyone thinking about what happens after 30 years? And that's with no exports...

When I was a kid, I had the thinking that if something was far enough into the future - say 5 years - it would never come. It scares me when I see adult people apply this kind of thinking when they plan the future of nations.

My guess is they simply assume something new will have showed up by then.

Unique study looks at global population projections up to 2100

... Professor Lutz believes that forecasting future human capital trends for all countries with a multidimensional demographic projection can provide a powerful analytical tool for forecasting societies adaptive capacities. By analysing the populations by age and level of education today, projections can be made over decades. The uneducated 15 year olds of today will be the uneducated 65 year olds 2060. Assumptions on future fertility, mortality and migration have been defined using a global expert inquiry with over 500 participants.

Lutz says: 'When trying to understand how dangerous climate change will be to human well-being in the future, frequently the mistake is to relate the forecasted climate conditions (for example 2060) to the societal conditions and adaptive capabilities of today. This makes little sense since we know that societies will be different in the future.'

SEC Lifts Ban on Hedge Fund Advertising. Hilarity Ensues

Today the Securities and Exchange Commission approved a rule that would allow hedge funds to advertise publicly for the first time in 80 years. The ban had been intended to protect unsophisticated investors from the risky, barely regulated investment pools that now control more than $2 trillion in assets; the commission approved the change by a 4-to-1 vote. “Without common-sense protections, general solicitation will prove be a great boon to the fraudster,” Democratic Commissioner Luis Aguilar, the lone dissenter, said in a statement. “Experience tells us that this will lead to economic disaster for many investors.”

Hedge Funds Are for Suckers

Re: The "Do Unto Exxon" article in the Drumbeat links above.

But I must admit to a degree of perplexity and sorrow over the document, which seems to place the blame for our heavy use of fossil fuels on the companies that produce them -- not the consumers who demand them.

I have, and will continue to, call B.S. on that line of thinking. To be sure there is more than enough blame to go around - but to put this only on the backs of the consumers is ridiculous. The consumers - particularly those of us several generations removed from the heyday and wild eyed optimism of all of this never had a say in the matter. We exist within the infrastructure and paradigm that was well established and by the time we drew our first breath on the planet was virtually the ONLY viable choice. Virtually any attempt to go against the grain is countered by as many roadblocks as possible set up by those corporations / marketing entities to insure that it will not be an easy task to break free and certainly not something very many overworked, overstressed, and perpetually mislead "consumers" will be able to accomplish. It wasn't the consumers who made it that way.

As I think Darwinian used to point out - we had virtually no choice in the matter - we did what organisms do - took advantage of the situation as it was presented to us and tried to maximize our fitness (whatever that was perceived to be at the time) within that framework. Far more blame goes to the unholy alliance of the Iron Triangle as Westexas used to present it - in the beginning it may have been a happy accident how all this came together but after several decades it turned into a fine tuned marketing exercise designed to crank out "consumers who demanded" these products and this lifestyle.

FYI: Darwinian (Ron) has a couple of new (data) posts at PeakOilBarrel.com, including Bakken decline rates.

I ride my bicycle way more than average but can't find that tram line to get to work. The bus runs 3 times a day, but stops nowhere near my house or work. This town was founded by the railway but the intercity express train runs every second day, with priority lower than the container, coal and crude trains.

Perhaps "we" demand it, like we demanded S.Harper, Fukushima, waterboarding and ubiquitous surveillance. The removal of the North American tram system, thank you GM, Standard oil & Firestone. At least they had to pay a big fine for that criminal act. $1500, if I recall.

Now I demand things like shoes, fencing wire and garlic made in China.

I admit there does seem to be a pretty robust market in snowmobiles, ATV's, PWC and giant pick up trucks around here. So perhaps this consumer demand thing is true, and the market for durable devices is statistically non-existant. Which still asks the question - why does humanity have no predictive ability?

Are humans smarter than yeast? google kate & will's baby.


Is it useful to find out who to blame? Will it change anything?

There was a nascent movement to reduced energy consumption in the 1970's - smaller cars, better insulation, turning down the thermostat, etc. I remember my Dad bought his wood stove then and we began gathering firewood from deadfall. We also planted a large vegetable garden. We were not alone.

But then the US empire paid off the Saudi rulers to pump oil all out and drive the price down, and the nation fell for the morning in America crap and dropped all that energy conservation stuff with a welcome sigh of relief. The citizens had a choice, and we decided to become consumers.

Well citizens of the Eastern Bloc countries circa 1989 had a choice. They lived in functioning socialist societies with very high rates of literacy and excellent public health.
I'm not being pedantic here, I wish it were otherwise. But for those of us who witnessed the Iron Curtain dissolve, it was clearly a mass migration towards Western consumerism.
Those appetites do seem hard-wired. Yes, even we who profess the loftiest sentiments need to do an honest look in the mirror when it comes to consumerism.
The mirror and the garage and the spare bedroom and the shop and the storage shed, etc etc etc.

The "mass migration to western consumerism" was mostly forced upon the people by the implementation of the neoliberal doctrines. It certainly wasn't the main driver of the revolutions. Also, the "excellent public health" is complete nonsense. The environment was in a horrible condition, and in fact in some of the countries, environmental protection was one of the main drivers behind the dissident movements. Most of us who lived in those countries (I grew up in Czechoslovakia) just wanted to not be confined to live in a country enclosed by a barbed wire fence guarded by machine guns, secretly reading photocopied books that were forbidden by the state. That was the main motivation to revolt, not the desire to own tons of consumer stuff.

India case study: Corporate social responsibility doesn't always work

The idea of corporate social responsibility to manage common-pool resources such as water, forests and pastures is flawed, says a University of Michigan researcher.

Aneel Karnani, associate professor of strategy at the U-M Stephen M. Ross School of Business, says that when a common-pool resource is left without any enforced property rights, it results in degradation and destruction of the resource.

Karnani uses an in-depth case study to make his point—groundwater use by Coca-Cola Co. at its Kaladera plant in the state of Rajasthan in India. The groundwater level in Kaladera has dropped significantly from 9 to 39 meters below ground in the last 20 years.

... "The company is behaving like most profit-maximizing firms," Karnani said. "It is just unrealistic to expect companies to help solve common-pool resource problems through voluntary corporate social responsibility

... tragedy of the commons

Boeing Dreamliner catches fire at Britain's Heathrow airport

LONDON (Reuters) - A Boeing 787 Dreamliner operated by Ethiopian Airlines caught fire at Britain's Heathrow airport on Friday, forcing the closure of both runways, in a blow for the U.S. planemaker that sent its New York shares down over 6 percent.

Television footage showed the Dreamliner surrounded by foam used by firefighters. Heathrow briefly closed both its runways to deal with the fire which broke out while the plane was parked at a remote stand.

There were no passengers aboard the plane.

"A Boeing 787 Dreamliner suffered an on board internal fire," a Heathrow spokeswoman said. "The plane is now parked at a remote parking stand several hundred meters away from any passenger terminals."

It was not clear if the fire was related to the battery, which was the cause of the previous fires on Dreamliner.

Oh jeez. If this turns out to be related to the batteries, EVs are going to take a body-blow. Damn it Boeing.

If it turns out to be related to the batteries......bet we get to hear the term "Too Big to Fail" and Boeing in the same sentence this Fall.

EVs are not doing wonderfully as it is.

From "Beyond Tesla: Rival Electric Car Makers Shred Sticker Prices" linked above:

Ford sold 178 Focus EVs in June and only 1,037 the first half of the year. (For comparison, the company moved more than 68,000 of its F-Series pickup trucks last month.)

That article presents a distorted view. EVs are certainly a very small but growing slice of sales. However, the price cuts were not made simply because people were not buying. Nissan slashed their price because they were not selling as well as the Volt and they opened up the USA factory which allowed them to cut prices due to lower manufacturing, shipping, parts, etc. costs.

Chrysler is playing the role of the spoiler. They made a really cool EV and are selling it at a very low price and are complaining non-stop about being forced to built it. And due to that very low price, others slashed prices to match. Specifically, the Spark EV slashed prices to match, Honda Fit EV slashed prices to match, and now Ford slashed prices.

This is a very weird situation right now. It is GREAT for anyone that wants to buy an EV. But these automakers are slashing prices on money-losing cars which is not a good situation for the industry. It remains to be seen what happens.

Perhaps prices will rise back up. The limited number Fiat 500e and Honda Fit EV compliance cars are now supposedly all SOLD OUT . . . months in advance. So maybe everyone will raise their prices back up.

Perhaps these EVs will get out there, gain fans, get more people interested, and grow the industry.

Perhaps this price war will increase volumes and thus help drive down EV component costs (for motors, controllers, chargers, batteries, etc.).

And Tesla is out there being the great Halo car for EVs in general. But then again, perhaps the Tesla shows people what EVs can be if you are rich but they will not put up with the limited range of the less expensive EVs.

I think it will continue to be a long hard slog that will only really gain steam when oil prices shoot up again and scare consumers.

Now there is a second Dreamliner fire at Heathrow.


Arctic Atmospheric Methane Trends 2013

... This important greenhouse gas has been on the rise over the past several decades, though that rise has not been nearly as steady as CO2. What's worrisome to those who follow methane is the return to higher growth rates of the gas over the past few years.

... A new website: http://methanetracker.org

methanetracker.org makes it possible to track methane release above 1950 ppb at any hPa/mb that it occurs during - as short as a 12 hour period - to as long as YTD, 2013.

NOTE: methanetracker.org only works in Google Chrome.

There are two videos that Omar Cabrera, the developer, has made that provide insight into how powerful methanetracker is, and some of the things he and I have discovered as we discussed and worked through this project.

You will want to watch these videos (in consecutive order) first before using the website. The videos are introductory, and reveal some things we have observed from the imagery.

The You Tube links are:

Video 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E1OluDXNXJ4

Video 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_xaifA5-wI

You also need Windowsor MacOSX

New from Congressional Research Service [CRS] ...

Europe’s Energy Security: Options and Challenges to Natural Gas Supply Diversification

Europe as a major energy consumer faces a number of challenges when addressing future energy needs. Among these challenges are rapidly rising global demand and competition for energy resources from emerging economies such as China and India, persistent instability in energy producing regions such as the Middle East, a fragmented internal European energy market, and a growing need to shift fuels in order to address climate change policy. As a result, energy supply security has become a key concern for European nations and the European Union (EU).

Successive U.S. administrations and Congresses have viewed European energy security as a U.S. national interest. Promoting diversification of Europe’s natural gas supplies, especially in recent years through the development of a southern corridor of gas from the Caspian region as an alternative to Russian natural gas, has been a focal point of U.S. energy policy in Europe and Eurasia. The George W. Bush Administration viewed the issue in geopolitical terms and sharply criticized Russia for using energy supplies as a political tool to influence other countries. The Obama Administration has also called for diversification, but has refrained from openly expressing concerns about Russia’s regional energy policy, perhaps in order to avoid jeopardizing the “reset” of ties with Moscow. Nevertheless, although supplying natural gas to Europe from the Caspian Region and Central Asia has been a goal of multiple U.S. administrations and the EU, it is far from being achieved in volumes significant to counter Russian exports.

The report assesses the potential suppliers of natural gas to Europe and the short- to medium-term hurdles needed to be overcome for those suppliers to be credible, long-term providers of natural gas to Europe. The report looks at North Africa, potentially the most realistic supply alternative in the near-term, but notes that the region will have to resolve its current political, economic, and security instability as well as the internal structural changes to the natural gas industry. Central Asia, which may have the greatest amounts of natural gas, would need to construct lengthy pipelines through multiple countries to move its natural gas to Europe.

... Egypt Natural Gas for Europe?

Carbon dioxide stored in Marcellus Shale wells could also boost gas production

"What we are trying to do is develop and analyze the protocols to help us really understand the efficiency of sequestering carbon dioxide in shale reservoirs," Ertekin said. "These reservoirs have been holding a different gas for millions of years in a secure way. They may turn out to be a dependable repository for us to sequester carbon dioxide in a secure way."

For the study, Ertekin and others on the team are building mathematical models of how shale gas reservoirs, specifically those in Pennsylvania, would react to having large volumes of carbon dioxide injected into them at high pressure. They hope to answer questions such as: What would that do to the fractures? How will the adsorption work?

"If we sequester carbon dioxide, we have to make sure it's long-term and will stay there in a secure way," Ertekin said. "In these types of reservoirs, which have a relatively large depth and have stored gases for a long period of time, we expect they will be able to secure it in large volumes."

I know this is a challenging question, but does anybody know how the math on this type of "carbon sequestration" works? If I use CO2 to enhance methane production is there a net decrease in atmospheric CO2? I suspect that if one considers the NG leakage issue the CO2 removed would be outweighed by the CO2 + methane released.

I could ask the same question with "biochar" - if I burn coal then bury biochar as a carbon credit would it have just been better to burn the wood in the first place?

Both of these look like highly efficient means to keep the economy going, and thermodynamically baffling.


If you might oblige this humour link:


You will actually get to hear a reporter on Fox news say "there are those that are skeptical of climate change and feel that a lot of the data out there has been sort of bloated a little bit."



I think he just said that considering his employer,but himself take the message seriously.

The age of next-generation ethanol grew closer Friday as DuPont broke ground on a plant in central Iowa that may become the nation’s largest when it opens in summer 2014.

The $200 million plant in the Story County community of Nevada is expected to produce 30 million gallons per year of ethanol from cornstalks and leaves.