Drumbeat: August 14, 2013

What Is Peak Oil?

Peak oil — the point in time when global oil production peaks and begins to drop — has been looming on the horizon for decades. Countless research reports, government studies and oil industry analyses have tried to pin down the exact year when peak oil will occur, to no avail.

The stakes are undeniably high: Much of human civilization is now inextricably linked to a readily available supply of inexpensive oil and petroleum products. From heating, electricity production and transportation to cosmetics, medicines and plastic bags, modern life runs on oil.

Another Nail In The Coffin For Peak Oil

The theory of peak oil suffered another blow with the recent news that global crude oil production increased to a new all-time high in April 2013, the latest set of output numbers from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Production touched 76.348 million barrels per day in April, inching above the previous global peak of 76.036 million bbl/day in December 2012. The new era of increased oil supply, in other words, continues to find broad support in the data.

“The main reason why Peak Oil theorists always turn out to be wrong,” writes David Blackmon of FTI Consulting, “is that they by and large appear to be unable to grasp the huge role advancing technology plays in allowing the industry to discover new oil resources previously unknown, to access known resources that were previously thought to be unexploitable, and to extract an ever-increasing percentage of oil long known to be in place via secondary and tertiary recovery techniques.” Given the numbers cited above, it’s not getting tougher to argue otherwise.

Whither Shale Oil?—Interview with David Hughes

It’s interesting that the EIA has changed their outlook. For example, if you look at the April 2012 Annual Energy Outlook, they projected close to 12,000 locations available to drill in the Bakken and Three Forks formations. In their April 2013 Outlook, they’ve projected 43,000 drilling locations, so they’ve almost quadrupled their estimate of the number. And in the Eagle Ford they’ve doubled their estimate of drilling locations to 22,000. As a result, they’ve doubled their estimate of recoverable oil. However, if you look at the 2013 EIA forecast for tight oil, they’re actually pretty conservative compared to CitiGroup. The 2013 EIA reference case forecast projects a second peak in US oil production in about 2019, reflecting a 2020 peak and decline of tight oil.

Energy independence in the age of natural gas exports

Natural gas producers keep telling the public and policy makers that US natural gas production is set to grow continuously for decades, and that additional natural gas export terminals are necessary. But that story isn't holding up.

WTI Crude Snaps Three-Day Gain Amid Signs Stockpiles Rose

West Texas Intermediate declined for the first time in four days after an industry report showed fuel inventories rose in the U.S., the world’s biggest oil consumer. Brent crude fell from the highest close since April.

Futures slid as much as 0.9 percent after advancing 3.3 percent in the previous three days. Gasoline stockpiles climbed by 1.7 million barrels, while distillate supplies gained 1.1 million, data from the American Petroleum Institute showed yesterday, according to two people familiar with the matter. The Energy Department is scheduled to release its report today.

“Product inventories are starting to gain as seasonal demand eases,” said Andrey Kryuchenkov, an analyst at VTB Capital in London, who predicts WTI will trade in a range of $102 to $108 a barrel this month.

Brazilian government mulls gasoline, diesel price increase: report

(Platts) - The Brazilian government is contemplating a further increase in domestic fuel prices as state-controlled oil major Petrobras continues to face losses from importing and selling gasoline and diesel below international market prices, Edison Lobao, Brazil's minister of Mines and Energy was quoted by Brazilian media as saying.

Atlantic Hurricane Season May Spark to Life Next Week

The Atlantic hurricane season is about to enter its most active phase as conditions for the powerful storms improve across the basin.

Wind shear that can tear budding storms apart has been decreasing, said Dan Kottlowski, an expert senior meteorologist at AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania. At the same time, the potential for more robust tropical waves, the seeds for hurricanes, is increasing.

Reports Of The Death Of Russia's Oil Sector Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

Certain writers of the anti-declinist school, Dan Drenzer and Walter Russell Mead spring immediately to mind, are dismissive of the prospect of American decline and positively overjoyed at the opportunities afforded to the US by “unconventional” oil. These writers, and other like them, are openly contemptuous of “old” oil powers like Russia and decidedly skeptical of their ability to innovate and keep up with America’s flexible, adaptive, and growing energy sector. Without simplifying too greatly, the narrative preached by Drenzer, Mead, and their supporters is the following: Russia’s enormous, corrupt, and state-owned oil companies represent the past and America and its ever-growing number of small producers using the latest fracking and horizontal drilling techniques represent the future. Good guys win, bad guys loose, oil becomes cheap, and people can once again say “the American century” without sniggering.

I’m under no illusions that such a deep-seated debate, a debate that hinges on basic ideological and political values far more than it does oil production figures, will be solved (or even greatly impacted) by a single blog post. However, I was recently going through some EIA data on oil production and was struck by Russia’s rather boring and unexceptional performance. While it might very well cripple Russia at some unknown point in the future, so far the fracking revolution just hasn’t had any significant impact.

Death of 75-Year Monopoly Can’t Come Soon Enough

President Enrique Pena Nieto’s plan to loosen Mexico’s 75-year-old oil monopoly is underwhelming the bond market after he unveiled fewer incentives for private drilling companies than his political rivals advocated.

Pemex plan spreads an oily sheen over Mexico’s history

Pemex has been one of the cornerstones of Mexican identity since the expropriation, and Mr. Pena Nieto’s government will face an uphill battle to gain popular support for his proposed amendment to the Mexican constitution.

Recent polls indicate that 65 per cent of the population opposes opening the energy sector to private companies.

Oil Reforms by Mexico May Upend Markets

HOUSTON — A sweeping reform suggested for Mexico’s energy laws has the potential not only to return the country to its early-1980s heyday of energetic oil drilling, when it was one of the world’s most promising producers, but also to reduce further the United States’ dependence on OPEC producers, according to oil experts.

Mexico Plans Oil Reserve Sweetener to Lure Exxon, Chevron

Mexico has come up with an inducement for private companies such as Exxon Mobil Corp. to bid on contracts that would end a 75-year state energy monopoly.

Though the government will retain ownership of oil, President Enrique Pena Nieto plans to lift restrictions on companies registering the value of contracts with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Deputy Energy Minister Enrique Ochoa said in an interview today. Those values could then be converted into volume and recognized on balance sheets.

Strikes prevent Libya from issuing Sept oil export plans

LONDON/TRIPOLI (Reuters) - OPEC oil producer Libya told its customers on Tuesday it could make no promises on crude deliveries next month as on-off strikes paralysed its major sea terminals.

The North African country's exports provided nearly 1.5 percent of global supplies until June, but output has since plunged, putting upward pressure on international oil prices.

Norway's crude oil production hits 14-month high

(Platts) - Norwegian crude oil production in July hit its highest level for more than a year as output rebounded to an average of 1.576 million b/d, according to preliminary figures released Wednesday by the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate.

This is an increase of 5% from 1.5 million b/d in July 2012, and also was well up on the 1.321 million b/d of crude produced in June this year when output was impacted by the shutdown of the Ekofisk field and related fields.

Analysis - Statoil to gain in Europe's shift to spot gas pricing

LONDON/OSLO (Reuters) - Norway's Statoil has been quick to offer pipeline gas contracts linked to spot prices rather than oil, and it stands to gain the most from these deals, while its clients are likely to find themselves at a disadvantage a few years later.

China looks to further open crude oil import market

(Reuters) - China is considering opening up its crude import market to more refineries outside its dominant state giants, with quotas of at least 10 million tonnes being discussed for new entrants in 2014, according to traders and a government document seen by Reuters.

Any new quotas would follow the entry this year by refinery operator ChemChina into the tightly controlled crude import market, and signal a further measured opening of crude purchases to smaller players as China prepares to add refining capacity.

India's IOC to start work on its 1st LNG terminal by end-2013

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Indian Oil Corp will start work on its first liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant at Ennore in the east coast by the end of this year, its chairman said on Tuesday, as it sees a gradual rise in local acceptance of the costly imported fuel.

State refiners IOC, Hindustan Petroleum Corp and Bharat Petroleum Corp, also major gas users, have all unveiled plans to build LNG plants as local gas output falls, which will increase the share of he costly imported fuel in India's energy mix.

China approves first floating terminal for LNG imports

(Reuters) - China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC) said it had won final government approval to build China's first floating terminal for liquefied natural gas (LNG), a type of terminal that will allow it to increase imports rapidly.

China, the world's top energy consumer, aims to raise the share of natural gas in its energy mix to 8 percent by 2015 from 5 percent now to cut emissions from coal and lessen dependence on oil imports.

Dozens killed across Egypt as security forces, protesters clash

(Reuters) - Egyptian security forces killed at least 29 people on Wednesday when they moved in to clear a camp of protesters demanding the reinstatement of deposed President Mohamed Mursi, in a dramatic dawn swoop aimed at ending a six-week standoff in Cairo.

Troops opened fire on demonstrators in clashes that brought chaos to areas of the capital and looked certain to further polarize Egypt's 84 million people between those who backed Mursi and the millions who opposed his brief rule.

SSE Urges U.K. to Hasten Power-Plant Payments to Keep Lights On

The U.K. must accelerate plans to pay power-station operators to guarantee generation capacity or risk stymieing investments, utility SSE Plc said.

Payments should be made from the tax year starting next April, Chief Executive Officer Alistair Phillips-Davies said in an e-mail. They’re currently scheduled to start in 2018.

Shadow of new dark age haunts UK

The United Kingdom was just hours away from running out of gas this spring as the coldest March for 50 years almost drained gas storage facilities. LNG tankers were diverted to gas terminals at Milford Haven in Wales that had just six hours' worth left.

It is a scenario that could become more common as Britain's creaking energy system gets closer to running on empty.

At the end of June, Ofgem, the energy markets regulator, warned Britain faced an earlier than expected energy crunch mid-way through this decade, as the margin of generating capacity - the difference between total demand for electricity and the power being produced from power stations - tightens to an unprecedented level.

RWE Profit Rises After Gazprom Arbitration Success

RWE AG, Germany’s second-largest utility, said first-half profit rose 19 percent after arbitration made gas supply contracts with Russia’s OAO Gazprom more favorable.

Recurrent net income, the measure used to calculate the dividend, climbed to 1.99 billion euros ($2.64 billion) from 1.67 billion euros a year earlier, the Essen-based company said today in a statement. That missed the 2.1 billion-euro average estimate of 12 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Sales advanced 5.2 percent to 28.5 billion euros.

RWE Shuts Unprofitable Power Plants to Revive Generation Unit

RWE AG will close power plants as Germany’s second-largest utility tries to revive profits at its electricity generating business.

The company will shut 3,100 megawatts of power plants in Germany and the Netherlands, about 7 percent of RWE’s capacity in northern Europe, and look at idling more stations, the Essen-based company said in a statement today.

Iron Ore Gluts Seen Through 2017 on Record Supply: Commodities

The seaborne iron ore market is poised for at least four years of expanding gluts as producers from Rio Tinto Group to Vale SA increase supply to a record just as growth in China drops to the slowest pace in a generation.

The surplus will reach 82 million metric tons in 2014, the most since at least 2008, and the glut will keep growing through 2017, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Australia will account for about 66 percent of the supply gains next year, Morgan Stanley says. Iron ore will average $115 a ton in 2014, 19 percent less than now and the least since 2009, according to the median of 10 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

North Dakota Oil Boom Seen Adding Costs for Rail Safety

Crude oil shipped by railroad from North Dakota is drawing fresh scrutiny from regulators concerned that the cargo is adding environmental and safety hazards, something that analysts say could raise costs.

The U.S. Federal Railroad Administration is investigating whether chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing are corroding rail tank cars and increasing risks. Separately, three pipeline companies including Enbridge Inc. warned regulators that North Dakota oil with too much hydrogen sulfide, which is toxic and flammable, was reaching terminals and putting workers at risk.

Canada rail blast firm loses license

TORONTO – Canada’s transportation agency has taken away the operating license of the U.S.-based rail company whose runaway oil train derailed and exploded in a Quebec town, killing 47 people.

BP oil spill cleanup: US says the coast is nearly clear. Is it?

Three years after the BP oil spill, the US Coast Guard says only 95 miles of coastline remain to be cleaned. But critics say the full extent of the damage is not yet known, especially in Louisiana, where oil is deep in the coastal environment.

BP sues U.S. over ban from contracts after spill

NEW YORK – British energy giant BP is suing the U.S. government for banning it from federal contracts after the deadly 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, documents showed Tuesday.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last year barred BP from competing for new federal contracts following the catastrophic accident three years ago, which left 11 people dead and sent millions of barrels of oil churning into the gulf.

Chad suspends China firm CNPC over oil spill

Chad has suspended all exploration operations of a Chinese state-run oil firm for causing environmental damage, Chad's oil minister has told the BBC.

Indonesia’s energy watchdog chief arrested

JAKARTA, Indonesia: Indonesia’s anti-corruption agency has arrested the head of the country’s upstream oil and gas regulator over allegations of bribery, an official said on Wednesday.

South Korea bakes in extreme heat amid power cuts

The timing could hardly be worse. South Korea is roasting in a record-breaking heatwave but doesn't have the electricity to crank up the air conditioning, as several power plants have shut down following a safety scandal.

Extreme heat has struck much of east Asia in recent weeks, including China, South Korea and Japan. Temperatures in southern China have hit 42 °C, and Japan set a record high at 41 °C on Tuesday. In South Korea, temperatures hit an all-time high of 39.2  °C last Saturday. Dozens are reported dead across the region.

KEPCO executive detained over corruption scandal

Prosecutors detained Lee Jong-chan, senior executive vice president of the state-run Korea Electric Power Corp., on Tuesday as part of a probe into a corruption scandal involving the company, parts suppliers and certifiers.

Busan District Prosecutors’ Office is looking into allegations that JS Cable, a signal cable supplier, colluded with Saehan Total Engineering Provider Co., a certifier suspected of forging test certificates for parts used in nuclear reactors. Officials from KEPCO and its subsidiaries are alleged to be deeply implicated in the case.

Anti-Keystone XL billionaire challenges TransCanada boss to live debate

CALGARY — A San Francisco billionaire has challenged TransCanada boss Russ Girling to a live debate on the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline.

Tom Steyer, an ardent critic of the project and a major Democratic financier, says in an open letter to Girling that he wants to have a “real, substantial conversation” on the more than US$5.3-billion project.

NRA OKs plan on safety measures for Fukushima No. 1

The Nuclear Regulation Authority on Wednesday approved Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s safety plan for the Fukushima No. 1 plant as the utility seeks to eventually decommission its reactors.

Japan Studies Ice Wall to Halt Radioactive Water Leaks

Turning soil into virtual permafrost with refrigerated coolant piped through the earth was first used in the 1860s to shore up coal mines. One hundred and fifty years on, it’s the newest idea for containing the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

At least 300 tons of water laced with radioactive particles of cesium, strontium linked to bone cancer, and tritium flow each day into the Pacific Ocean from the crippled atomic station in Japan. The plan to contain the health threat is to build an underground containment wall made of ice.

Nuclear regeneration hit by red tape, costs and shale

Nuclear power has supplied up to a third of the United Kingdom's electricity since 1956.

However, the industry in the UK is going to require substantial investment in the coming years if it is to continue to supply power at this level. Nine out of 10 nuclear power stations are due to close over the next 15 years, removing about 30 per cent of the country's generating capacity.

Government Must Continue Review of Nevada Nuclear Waste Site, Court Says

WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was “flouting the law” when it stopped work on a review of the proposed nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain, despite the Obama administration’s insistence that the site be shut down.

The 2-to-1 decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit allows an increment of progress that could help push the project forward and was embraced by supporters of the Yucca site, the focus of a quarter-century-old fight.

Clearing the Air on Diesel’s Dismal Reputation

The lack of interest in diesel in this country during the last 30 years also means that younger drivers may not be considering it when they shop.

As Mr. Creed put it: “You talk to someone 25 years old, they have no idea about diesel. They look at you and say, ‘Huh?’ ”

As a result, the BMW campaign will also have an informational aspect. To achieve its goals without seeming didactic or scolding, the campaign takes a humorous tack. For instance, many of the ads carry the theme “It’s time to come clean,” reveling in the double meaning of the phrase.

Copping the copper thieves becomes big business

Copper theft is costing businesses in the U.S. some $1 billion a year—mostly through the destruction of property that thieves strip of the metal. But a growing industry is emerging to stop them.

These businesses sell services to catch copper thieves—even before they strike—including heavy steel encasing to video surveillance and satellite technology.

The Entire History of the World—Really, All of It—Distilled Into a Single Gorgeous Chart

It’s unclear what the width of the colored streams is meant to indicate. In other words, if the Y axis of the chart clearly represents time, what does the X axis represent? Did Sparks see history as a zero-sum game, in which peoples and nations would vie for shares of finite resources? Given the timing of his enterprise—he made this chart between two world wars and at the beginning of a major depression—this might well have been his thinking.

The economics of China's one-child policy

Rumblings in China's state media suggest that Beijing is considering a move to relax its deeply unpopular one-child policy, a change that could significantly alter demographic trends in the world's second largest economy.

School lunch undergoes a revolution in Heber City

Due to tight budgets, there’s no way lunchroom employees can serve all organic, local, seasonal foods, as some would like. And federal regulations dictate what must be served in the cafeteria, with new rules enacted last year to ensure there are more grains, vegetables and fruits.

But they don’t do any good if children throw it away, said Darren Wilkins, food service supervisor of the school district, who heard complaints of children not feeling full last year.

"They’re used to eating at McDonald’s and getting a 1,500 calorie meal. That’s not good for you. Three-fourths of our plate is meant to be fruits and vegetables. If they’re not eating their fruits and vegetables, they’re probably not getting full."

Rainforest picnic: how to stop eating the Amazon this summer

The fact that we import huge amounts of our food is well known but the extent to which this process is responsible for destroying precious natural capital, such as a tropical forest, who is responsible, and who finances it, is far less well understood.

Florida to Sue Georgia in U.S. Supreme Court Over Water

Florida plans to file a U.S. Supreme Court lawsuit against Georgia, saying the state is consuming too much water that would otherwise flow to Florida, the latest battle nationally over an increasingly scarce resource.

The dispute is fueled by the rapid growth of the metropolitan area surrounding Atlanta, which is demanding more water and hurting the oyster industry in Northwest Florida, Florida Governor Rick Scott, 60, said yesterday. Scott, a Republican, said he would file suit next month after the two states couldn’t reach an agreement.

“That’s our water,” Scott told reporters while standing next to the Apalachicola Bay in the Florida Panhandle. “They’ve impacted our families. They’ve impacted the livelihood of people down here.”

With Less Than 3% Of Global Emissions, Africa Still Most Vulnerable To Climate Change

Natural disasters, driven by climate change, threaten to undermine the hard-fought gains made over the last decade, just as Africa is beginning to realize its vast agricultural potential.

Smallholder farmers, who constitute the bulk of the sector across our continent, are especially vulnerable to changing weather and require government assistance to deal with it. As currently structured, the system for responding to natural disasters is not as timely or equitable as it should, or could be, with much of the cost borne by farmers. International assistance through the appeals system is secured on a largely ad hoc basis after disaster strikes, and we are forced to reallocate funds in national budgets from essential development activities to crisis response. Only then can relief be mobilised toward the people who need it most – and it is often too late. Lives are lost, assets are depleted, and development gains reversed – forcing more people into chronic hunger, malnutrition and destitution across the continent.

Farmers struggle to adopt climate-smart methods

Preliminary results from a project aimed at helping Malawi, Vietnam and Zambia make the transition to a "climate-smart" approach to agriculture show that some farmers are struggling to adopt the new methods, while others are finding ways to cope well with climate-change problems like late rains.

Large coal power plants getting life extensions

BIG STONE CITY, S.D. – The nation’s big coal-burning power plants are not ready to become dinosaurs.

Utilities are making substantial investments to keep their largest coal generating stations operating for decades — and emitting millions of tons of carbon dioxide annually.

Interactive map to support climate change adaptation planning in Great Lakes region

A jointly developed interactive map launched this month by the University of Michigan's Graham Sustainability Institute and Headwaters Economics gives Great Lakes policymakers and decision-makers easy access to targeted data to help them plan for, and adapt to, the regional impacts of climate change.

The free online tool—the "Socioeconomics and Climate Change in the Great Lakes Region" map— provides social, economic and demographic statistics on 225 counties in the region, overlaid with detailed data about municipal spending, land-use change and climate-change characteristics.

Caribbean policymakers get climate adaptation tool

A decision-support website has been launched to help policymakers in the Caribbean build resilience to the risks that climate change poses to activities such as tourism and agriculture.

The Caribbean Climate Online Risk and Adaptation TooL (CCORAL), unveiled last month (12 July) in Saint Lucía, allows users to identify whether their activity is likely to be influenced by climate change and how to deal with this.

Google user’s carbon footprint equal to ‘one mile drive in car’

Google’s carbon footprint per user is equal to a person driving a car for one mile, the company has announced.

In 2012 it says it was responsible for emitting 1.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, a 32% drop in carbon intensity on 2011 figures.

To put these numbers in perspective, Google has assumed that a user completes 25 searches and watches 60 minutes of YouTube a day, has a Gmail account and uses their other services. To serve that user, Google emits about eight grams of carbon per day.

Brokered EU Carbon Trade Plunges as Banks Scale Back

Carbon trading via brokers including ICAP Plc and GFI Group Inc. plunged to its lowest since at least January 2011 as banks scaled back buying and selling amid tighter regulation and a record glut of permits.

The volume of EU allowances handled by six members of the London Energy Brokers’ Association dropped 61 percent in July to 84.1 million metric tons from a year earlier, according to an Aug. 8 report by the lobby group. Trading in Certified Emission Reductions, the United Nations-regulated offsets, plunged 81 percent. Activity on ICE Futures Europe in London, the biggest exchange for carbon contracts, slid 19 percent in the month.

From Coal In Kentucky To Solar In Ohio, Campus Environmentalists Face An Uphill Battle On Clean Energy

College campuses are centers of innovation and research. They can also use as much energy as small cities.

In addition to playing an important role in climate activist Bill McKibben’s campaign to divest from fossil fuels, college students across the country are becoming increasingly aware of the enormous amounts of energy their campuses consume and are pushing for greener alternatives. The movement has been an uphill battle, but activists are staying positive.

America’s new $60 trillion deadliest enemy

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. (MarketWatch) — By 2024, the end of the next president’s second term, water shortages and pollution problems will be America’s deadliest enemy, worse than Big Oil, killing economic growth, destroying America’s future.

The decline is already in progress, GDP is predicted to collapse below 1% in this century.

Can this disastrous trend be stopped? Maybe. Taxpayers cost? $60 trillion, estimates a Scientific American research study. Bad news for a planet where the total GDP of all nations is only $70 trillion.

Four Hiroshima bombs a second: How we imagine climate change

The planet is building up heat at the equivalent of four Hiroshima bombs worth of energy every second. And 90 percent of that heat is going into the oceans.

Right, now I've got your attention.

Timing a Rise in Sea Level

We have to see if their results withstand critical scrutiny. A sea-level scientist not involved in the work, Andrea Dutton of the University of Florida, said the paper had failed to disclose enough detailed information about the field sites to allow her to judge the overall conclusion. But if the work does hold up, the implications are profound. The only possible explanation for such a large, rapid jump in sea level is the catastrophic collapse of a polar ice sheet, on either Greenland or Antarctica.

Dr. O’Leary is not prepared to say which; figuring that out is the group’s next project. But a 17-foot rise in less than a thousand years, a geologic instant, has to mean that one or both ice sheets contain some instability that can be set off by a warmer climate.

Another nail in the coffin of peak oil?

The graphic used on the Seeking Alpha article refuting peak oil shows production declines in Saudi, venezuela (sic), Iran, Mexico, Norway and the U.K.; More than 60% decline in the case of U.K. offshore and about 50% in Norway.

Another nail in the coffin alright...


From the article: “The main reason why Peak Oil theorists always turn out to be wrong,” writes David Blackmon of FTI Consulting.

So, oil production will increase forever.

Interesting similarity to the title of Euan's piece, published here 5 hours before (assuming the time stamps are from the same zone). Coincidence I suppose :-0

Yes - when you want to claim a revolution in oil production you pick your data very carefully. Citing a monthly number to refute peak oil.

I prefer to look at trends:

Global Crude plus condensate production.
2005 73,644 barrels per day
2012 75,553 barrels per day

Growth 1,900 barrels per day over a seven year period.

That 0.37% growth per year.

What a revolution!

Pathetic logic.

That is growth nonetheless, though the absurdity of claiming that the extraction rate of a finite resource (or that any resource on a finite planet could be infinite) goes a long way toward explaining human behaviour. With defiance of logic like that, it's truly a miracle our species is what it is.

How often are new all time monthly high productions of C+C being made now?

Back in the 70's-90's almost every month was a new high. I would like to see someone tally up how many new highs each year contained for the last 40 years or so.

>> I would like to see someone tally up how many new highs each year contained for the last 40 years or so. <<

Maybe you?

Using EIA International Energy Statistics for world crude oil and lease condensate production starting in 2000 and ending in April 2013, the number of times the previous record high was exceeded:

year  count
2000     9
2001     0
2002     0
2003     3
2004     3
2005     3
2006     0
2007     0
2008     2
2009     0
2010     1
2011     2
2012     3
2013     1
EIA World Crude Oil and Lease Condensate Production January 2000 to April 2013

The count is high in the year 2000 because the data starts on a rising edge.

Re: Timing a Rise in Sea Level

...In the warmer world of the Eemian, sea level stabilized for several thousand years at about 10 to 12 feet above modern sea level.

The interesting part is what happened after that. Dr. O’Leary’s group found what they consider to be compelling evidence that near the end of the Eemian, sea level jumped by another 17 feet or so, to settle at close to 30 feet above the modern level, before beginning to fall as the ice age set in.

In an interview, Dr. O’Leary told me he was confident that the 17-foot jump happened in less than a thousand years — how much less, he cannot be sure.

This finding is especially important as the Eemian period was the last Interglacial with warmth and ice cover similar to today's and the mechanism of it's end may also be repeated. Was the warmth at the end of the Eemian the CAUSE of the return to Ice Age conditions? In other words, will humanity's global warming also trigger an early transition back to the Ice Ages which have dominated climate over the past 3 million years? Human civilizations have flourished during the Holocene, a period of relative warmth, as in the childhood story "Goldilocks", which was neither too hot nor too cold, but just right. Well, the three (polar) bears may be about to return home and kick Goldilocks out of bed...

E. Swanson

Peak Oil is when the world at large realises that it is living in an energy cloud cuckoo land. Not too long to go I suggest.

Our CO2 concentration now is far beyond that we had in the last warm period.

Already known in 2008:

NASA climatologist JAMES HANSEN: There are two things that are cause of concern. First of all, if we look at the history of the Earth, we know that at the warmest interglacial periods, which were probably less than 1 degree Celsius warmer than today, it was still basically the same planet. Sea level was perhaps a few metres higher. But if we go back to the time when the Earth was two or three degrees Celsius warmer, that's about three million years ago, sea level was about 25 metres higher, so that tells us we had better keep additional warming less than about one degree. And the other piece of evidence is not from the history of the Earth but from looking at the ice sheets themselves, and what we see is that the disintegration of ice sheets is a wet process and it can proceed quite rapidly. We see that the ice streams have doubled in their speed on Greenland in the last few years and even more concern is west Antarctica because it's now losing mass at about the same rate as Greenland, and west Antarctica, the ice sheet is sitting on rock that is below sea level. So it is potentially much more in danger of collapsing and so we have both the evidence on the ice sheets and from the history of the Earth and it tells us that we're pretty close to a tipping point, so we've got to be very concerned about the ice sheets.

Eric, where are you going after TOD? I presume TOD will do a final post listing all contributers spin off blog/forums etc.......!?!

Marco, I don't know. Maybe I'll get motivated and finish my solar house. Last winter, I found that my collectors weren't as efficient as I had hoped, after acquiring an IR temperature gun and taking readings. I've ordered some additional hardware to try to improve the efficiency and may also try another, more expensive idea as well...

E. Swanson

A Song of Flood and Fire: One Million Square Kilometers of Burning Siberia Doused by Immense Deluge

“Colossal damage will be caused to the agricultural sector there. I will not give you any estimates at the moment, but it is clear that the extent of damage will be significant as 1.5 million hectares of farmland have been submerged by flood waters in the region,” the minister said.

The floods are not expected to subside any time soon; the Russian Met Office forecasts more heavy rain and strong winds in large swathes of Khabarovsk Territory on 16 August.

Katie bar the door.

Oil export land in operation


The six GCC countries - Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, the UAE and Bahrain - now consume more primary energy than the whole of Africa. Yet they have just one twentieth of that continent’s population. Energy intensity in the region is high and rising in contrast to other industrialized regions and is driven by systemic inefficiencies.

I was watching a show last night which I think was in the UAE - they said that out of 1 million registered cars that 100,000 of them were supercars - Lamborghini, Ferrari, etc. The majority of the rest were some sort of SUV.

The bigger they are, the harder they will fall.

Egypt Declares State of Emergency

A state of emergency has been declared across Egypt, according to a presidential statement announced on state television. The announcement came amid a deadly crackdown on Wednesday by security forces on two Cairo protest camps set up by supporters of Egypt's ousted president Mohamed Morsi.

The exceptional measures were taken as "the security and order of the nation face danger due to deliberate sabotage, and attacks on public and private buildings and the loss of life by extremist groups," the presidency said.

A curfew has also been imposed in Cairo and nine other provinces, starting from 7pm local time (17:00 GMT) until 6am (04:00 GMT).

... Syria 2.0?

Syria 2.0?

Fortunately that is not likely. As distasteful as the crack-down is, the Egyptian military still has a lot of respect (and power). The MB fans are understandably upset but I don't see a civil war as likely (at least not any time soon). In time, the MB needs be reintegrated into the political system.

MB fans

Wouldn't that be be half of Egypt's population, according to the election results?

Probably a bit less than half at this point. They lost a lot of confidence from the people. But, yeah, a very large % of the public still supported them and that does make this a very awkward situation. But for now, I don't see it becoming violent unless the MB is not reintegrated into the political process.

I think the ' I don't see it becoming violent' ship has sailed …

143 dead
500-800 wounded

Hope they don't hold a grudge.

The analogy people are worried about is not Syria, but Algeria. Algeria had an extended nasty "civil" war Islamists versus the government. Lots of attrocities (on both sides I think).

Video here, for some reason it reminds me of Oakland, and that didn't turn into a civil war. Then again people in Oakland probably had a lot more to lose.

Yeah 'becoming violent' was not the right phrase to use. I should have said "I don't see it becoming a civil war." There is too much fondness for the Egyptian military for the people to really rise up against them in a civil war. However, clearly there is some violence and I wouldn't be surprised if there is some more . . . but at a low level.

I think the fear of it becoming like Algeria is much more of a realistic possibility but hopefully that will not happen either. The "Battle for Algiers" is a great movie about that situation.

I suspect "Battle for Algiers" refers to the decolonization civil war with France (or mainly the French settlers who didn't want the country to become independent). That was early 1960's.

Later (was it late eighties or nineties), the Islamists begain a gorrila war when they were excluded from power. It went on for about a decade with tens of thousands killed. Not nearly the scale of destruction of the decolonizing war (I think that was on the order of a million dead).

Yup! Nearly ripped France apart. Many of those combatants are still alive (here in my village there are quite a few). It had a much more devastating and traumatic effect on the French than WW2. I'm an outsider, but I feel that beneath the surface, there are still deep wounds that are not forgotten.

The Islamic gorilla war was rather bizarre with dreadful atrocities. In many cases no one knew who committed them or why. Even survivors didn't know by whom or why they were committed or even why they were targeted.

I think both wars had flase flag operations as well. A false flag operation is when side A commits an attrocity but makes it look like it was committed by side B. This is a great way to derail peace talks, or throw a wavering country into violence.

I was a tad off with my dates. The Algerian war of independence was mid 50's to 1962. The Islamist war was 1991 to early 2000's. Gross guesstimates of fatalities (might be off by 2x either way) 1 million versus a hundred thousand. The Islamist war started when the government cancelled elections -because the Islamists were gonna win. Not exactly the same -but very similar to the current Eqyptian situation.

As far as I can tell, the Muslim Brotherhood protesters have remained largely nonviolent, even in the face of violence against them. I think it is a major mistake on the part of their opponents to keep on provoking them rather than engaging in a dialogue before it's too late.

Yeah, this is worse than I thought . . . nearly 300 dead? This will not end well. :-(

I think the figure of 300 will rise rapidly. A piece on CNN spoke to one doctor from a field clinic. He said at just their one clinic they had had 22 fatalities and over 800 wounded. He described the injuries as a mix of bullet wounds and wounds from batons, baseball bats, etc.

I think the figures being quoted on the news channels are from confirmed sources at hospitals, a lot of the pro-morsi demonstrators will be being treated elsewhere either from fear of being arrested following treatment or the simple inability to reach a proper hospital.

Considering the pro-Morsi people have been talking about "martyrdom" and "jihad against the secularists"...is this really a surprise, or just the inevitable? One of the big things they have left is tourism - even that was never going to survive Islamism because few would want to visit a lunatic Islamist state. The longer is stays unstable, the more people will be scared off. So there's a positive feedback loop being generated. If "terrorists" start going after the oil infrastructure it's going to be interesting. I would suspect that if this continues long enough that it will start to happen. Interesting times.

Say that to a Copt and see if they don't giggle.

27 out of 37. I mainly failed those history questions; I guess few non-americans know these. What surprises me is the average readership score of 50%, rather low for a multiple choice test.

I was glad to get 81%. Some of this stuff was still covered in junior hi when I was in school. I kindof doubt much time is spent on explorers, and parts of speech anymore. Or details of civilwar battles....

I don't find the average score being 50%ish at all surprising. It really was a tough test. I doubt the average Berkeley grad (top state school in the country) would pass.

I got 92%, and didn't feel bad about the ones I got wrong - this test was a creature of its time. Oddly enough (odd as heck, really), I remembered that Georgia was founded by Oglethorpe. Who knows what odd fold of memory that was stored in!

Full disclosure: I came up through the public education system of the 1960's and early 70's in CT USA.

I got Oglethorpe right, but it is just a slightly educated guess on my part -so maybe half skill (I knew just enough to improve the odds), and half luck. But, for that last civil war battle my luck didn't come through, again it was 50/50 between Chicka.. and my wrong guess.

Some are just plain poor questions, are Puritan pilgrims called Puritans or Pilgrims? I went for the specific Puritan, rather than the general pilgrim -oops!

But, I even thought the math was tough (I didn't have a problem), but I suspect most college freshmen -or even graduating seniors might struggle with them.

10. Name in order of their size three largest states in the United States (in 1912)

Somehow glazed over the "in 1912" thinking "Well, Alaska is at least twice as big as Texas...wasn't even a state yet in 1912.

A lot of that garbage is just esoteric... "Adjectives have how many degrees of comparison?" Umm - who gives a whiff? An English teacher - that's it. Language is one of those things that people just use. Bridges don't fall because the engineers don't know Adjectives have three degrees of comparison or if their participles are dangling or not.

5. "William struck James." Change the voice of the verb to passive.

The same information is conveyed - do I care? I care not!

It's a bunch of bunk. (The word "bunk" which is derived from "Buncombe" county NC because of a representative who made a name for himself yammering on about things and it eventually became synonymous with "nonsense") You don't need to know the history of "bunk" to know it means "nonsense" - so knowing bunk is bunk. But you'll be tested on it anyway ;)

Must say I am very surprised the average American could only get 49%. I am English and have just managed, probably with a bit of luck, to get 81%. Some of the questions on topics such as the
founders of states foxed me and the questions in general were reasonably hard perhaps but 49% still seems awfully low.

OTOH, you'd be surprised at the results on simple geography tests. BTW -I don't remember even spending .5seconds in school on the Balkins, if I hadn't become a bit of a modern history buff I woulda been stumped on those. In any case shockingly low scores by the average American. "Here is and unlabeled world map -point to China?", and I think less than half get it! No the Cristian Science Monitor audience is well above average.

And mountain ranges? Wasatch and Blue ridge are really pretty minor? Unless you lived in the region, I'd think you wouldn't know um.

Why American motorists are walking away from automobiles

Within the next year, however, a spade full of dirt will again be turned on Detroit's Woodward Avenue, this time to begin the process of laying a 3.3-mile stretch of trolley line. It's not much, but it is a sign of the times. Across the country, more and more cities are building or expanding their mass transit systems. Chicago just launched a new bike rental program, much like a wildly successful one in New York City. Meanwhile, there are a number of signs that Americans are rethinking their century-long love affair with the automobile.

Interesting piece, seeing that it was posted at autoblog rather than the site that directed me to it, my usual haunt, it's sister site autobloggreen.

Autoblog is a site for people with more than a passing interest in the automobile so, this article has already stirred up over 200 comments. Another example of how a car site can steer one towards a different reality.

Alan from the islands

Update on ASPO-USA's TOD Successor Website, Call for Volunteers

Hello Oil Drummers,

I would like to share a brief update regarding ASPO-USA's plans to host a successor website and we hope a new home for The Oil Drum community. I would also like to invite other people who may be interested to help make this effort successful (more details below).

We have been working with other TOD members--including those who have put forth ideas or draft websites. I have been working especially closely with Lloyd Gray (Canuckistani) who in addition to being a dedicated TOD reader has a background in information architecture and website usability.

Given the compressed timeframe, we have been most immediately focused on the continuation of a Drumbeat-style, single thread forum, featuring a regular compilation of relevant news articles. Regular posts and other types of content are also part of the plan but that may take a bit more time to develop.

Defining the mission and goals of the successor site is also important. TOD's stated mission--raise awareness, host a civil discussion, develop high-quality information in a transparent manner, build a community--is essentially identical to ASPO-USA's mission, and that spirit would continue with one refinement:

Rigorous technical content on oil and gas supply would continue but we would aim to promote more content and focused discussion on specific economic, national security, and environmental consequences, and options and strategies for positive action. We will continue to promote clearer and deeper understanding of oil depletion--but we will strive to frame discussions of "the problem" in in the context of positive actions that individuals, communities, businesses, governments and others can take to adapt to a "new energy reality."

A Few More Details, Call for Volunteers

We have registered a new domain--aftertheoildrum.org. The plan is for the site to have its own domain but it would also be hosted as part of a new ASPO-USA website that is still in development--in practice, one would be able to navigate to the site either way. The regular compilation of news articles and user comments will continue to be called the Drumbeat.

Lloyd did a draft mock-up of how the main Drumbeat page would initially look and work (see http://peak-oil.org/download/Draft_mockup-Fig_1.pdf). The final site may look different. We are trying to retain the feel of the current TOD site, both for usability and continuity, but we are also taking this opportunity to add features that may enhance navigation and make it easier for different types of users, especially new visitors, to find content they are most interested in. These features will be optional and the intention is that someone who has used TOD will feel at home and be able to use the new site in a similar way.

ASPO-USA is committed to continuing and building on the profound legacy of The Oil Drum. However, our success will depend on the concerted efforts and talents of several people. We have a good starting team but we invite others to be support and assist this effort any way that they can.

We are especially seeking volunteers to help in these primary areas:

1. Website IT – website developers, designers, and anyone familiar with basic website administration.

2. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – people knowledgeable in SEO, online marketing, social media, and other areas of online outreach

3. Forum moderation - oversight and monitoring of forum discussions. The key task here is being a regular forum reader and monitoring discussions to identify any problems.

4. Content development - this is ultimately what is most important and what we are most focused on. All you need is a good handle on one or more specific issues, and are willing to help identify and coordinate contributors.

If interested, please contact me at jmueller[at]peak-oil[dot]org.

We hope to have the initial site up before the end of the month.

Thanks, Jan

Jan Lars Mueller, Executive Director
Association for the Study of Peak Oil & Gas USA

Jan: To what extent is climate change part of the scope of the new site? I think the majority of TOD regulars have moved to a view of vastly greatly environmental consequences as everything which can be burned will be burned.

Thanks very much for the question. While not explicitly shown in the draft mock-up, environment-climate is one of the six primary categories we plan to use for organizing content and discussions.

As much as possible, we would like to focus on the nexus between oil depletion and climate change--i.e. how will one affect the other. It is an under-studied and poorly understood area where I think this community could be most valuable to the broader climate discussion. I say this as someone who worked on federal climate legislation for several years.

I suspect that people will still want to share information and comments about climate science, though that is not ASPO-USA's area of focus or depth. However, by adding the category/tag feature for comments, we hope it will allow people interested in climate issues to focus attention there, and others less interested in that topic to focus elsewhere.

Hope that helps, Jan

Oil as a fossil fuel is of course related to the CO2 problem. I had done these calculations:

Half of oil burnable in 2000-2050 to keep us within 2 degrees warming has been used up as we hit 400 ppm

As much as possible, we would like to focus on the nexus between oil depletion and climate change--i.e. how will one affect the other.

As we leave the Goldilocks climate behind (hat tip Black_Dog) and enter the destabilised climate of our near future (thanks to rapid Arctic warming). We're going to need all the energy we can muster to overcome the negative effects, even though we know it will make things worse eventually (ie. immediacy wins). With declining EROEI, rising production costs and the struggle to push beyond the natural peak, things are going to get really tough. Especially with the economy also being re-purposed towards a high-tech agrarian one (although the majority of people will still be urbanised and not directly involved in food production).

Eventually all forms of energy will probably be sacrificed (via substitution) to create forms that we can utilise directly to stay alive (eg. food, electricity.). We'll produce gas to get oil, use oil to get coal, use coal to produce electricity so we can automate our food production and maintain a survivable environment. Well, that's my way oversimplified WAG.

And if I could add item #5: Financial Support

ASPO-USA could definitely use your financial support, and there is an easy option for recurring monthly donations, via credit card. I have been making a recurrng monthly donation for a while. If we could get 200 people to each contribute $50 per month, it would go a long way toward making ASPO-USA a sustainable operation.

And I will be helping out with, and contributng to, the new website.

Jeffrey J. Brown
ASPO-USA Board Member

$50 per MONTH? I think you are asking a bit too much.

It will of course vary from person to person, and we hope people will do what they can. But the simple math is, the smaller the average amount, the larger the number of donations we need, and vice versa. Support for work on peak oil has had a narrow base thus far, we are working to broaden it. Thanks.

Note the button it the upper right corner. http://peak-oil.org/

Jan, Are you planning to keep the Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, timetable?

I personally would like to see an updated Drumbeat everyday, like it used to be. Sundays could be skipped.

If the Drumbeat is to be updated everyday it should be as an addendum to a multi-day cycle drumbeat. When the Drumbeats were occurring every day there were so many conversations which got flushed down the memory hole because they occurred the day before and everyone moved on to the next day. When the Drumbeats started being less often, it allowed debates to grow and become more complex. I would personally prefer a Monday, Thursday, Saturday format - go ahead an update the links in between the days - but leave the discussions to grow.

I have to respectfully disagree. I remember back when drumbeats were everyday, a specific conversation could go on for many days. That rarely happens now, of course there could be other reasons.

I just had a vision of tabs for each comment conversation, that would float across drumbeats, as long as someone added to that conversation on a particular day, or linked to a specific drumbeat article(s) in the comment. Probably too much programming and no easy paradigm for people to follow that though. Seperate comments for each drumbeat article would be interesting too, but it would probably just Balkanize the comments - part of the appeal for me is to read the comments cover-to-cover and marvel at the range of topic, knowledge, etc., and perhaps have some interesting syntheses arise if I'm lucky.

Why is the U.S.’s 1 percent so much richer than everywhere else?

It’s been nearly two years since Occupy Wall Street took over Zuccotti Park, and the academic establishment is still chewing through questions it raised about how to understand the 1 percent in America. In particular, how did they get so darn rich? And what would happen if we took some of their money away?

That’s the focus of this month’s Journal of Economic Perspectives, which features several papers arguing a few sides of the debate, offering some fascinating windows into the nature of extreme wealth. Increasing income inequality is not disputed. The question of why the divide is widening, though, splits economists into two broad camps. One believes that people at the top have used their positions of influence to lock in excessive earnings. The other thinks that people with scarce and unique talents have simply been able to command a premium in markets that have gotten bigger over time.

The viewpoint of most Americans: the 1% are innovators and job creators; they are highly skilled and ethical people who keep this country, the greatest on the planet, going; they deserve every penny they have, and we should all strive to be like them; if you do not become as rich as them, you are simply not as good as them; if they lose their wealth, for whatever reason, this is socialism and would represent the end of America and the end of modern civilization

The viewpoint of realists: the 1% are highly ambitious and sometimes morally unscrupulous individuals who have captured the political and economic machinery of a complex empire and are loath to let it go; nothing is ever good enough for them, their wealth and power must always grow, and they will never willfully relinquinsh it no matter what good it may possibly serve; as guardians of the empire they will keep the system going for as long as it can, but before it collapses they will grab the most expensive lifeboats for themselves; if they lose their wealth, for whatever reason, then the country and humanity has a fighting chance of survival

I always fall back on the Walton family... 6 people more rich than the lower 40% of Americans. Their workers are on Medicaid and food stamps. That should tell you all there is to know right there.

Warren Buffett said in an interview on YouTube the reason he is so wealthy is he just happened to have a proficiency in capital allocation at a time when that skill was particularly valued.

At any other time he'd have done well financially, but would have been ordinary rich, not super-rich. It was pure chance that he was the right guy at the right time.

If the super-wealthy would acknowledge that good fortune played a substantial role in their success, they might be a bit more humble about it and spread some of the good fortune around. I can understand someone being ten times more skillful and hard-working that the rest, and they deserve ten times more goodies, but a million times more? C'mon.

I've always believed that the CEO of a company should have their wages based on a sensible multiple of the median wage of the employees, say 10 - 20 times.

For example if the average wage of 50% of the employees is €50,000 then he should earn €500,000 to € 1 million. Still a substantial wage but one that isn't really taking the p^ss.

Different metrics would be needed for the financial industry of course.

Even 10x median is a lot. At median, you probably can't save to get ahead. At 10x you can probably save half your takehome, and build a large investment portfolio.

Warren Buffet, it seems, is not a narcissistic sociopath. Many of them are. And it is my opinion that they don't suffer from "greed" so much as from "obsessive/compulsive addiction" to the accumulation of wealth and/or power [and for some the "fame" (infamy?) that goes along with], and of "hoarding" the same.

Why is the U.S.’s 1 percent so much richer than everywhere else?

Because we let them. We could make the tax system more progressive but they've done a good job at buying politicians and an even better job of getting poor people to vote against their own interests. "Rich people shouldn't be taxed for doing well!" It is a simplistic message that resonates with Joe-Six Pack. If he worked double-shifts, he shouldn't be taxed at a higher rate. But of course that ignores the fact that uber-wealthy already make far more money than they need to live even at a very rich lifestyle so the extra money just grows unbounded with compounding interests and dividends. It is just not the same as Joe working a double-shift.

At least there is the estate tax that sort of evens the playing field to kinda reduce dynasties from forming. But if the anti-tax people have their way, that 'death tax' will be eliminated.

Et Tu, Libya?

Libya's Oil Industry Is in Trouble

One of the most amazing things about the Libyan Revolution was just how quickly the country’s oil industry rebounded from the chaos and violence of 2011. After bottoming out at only 45,000 barrels a day in August that year after having fallen 97 percent since the previous January, Libya’s oil production was back near full capacity—1.6 million barrels a day, by last summer. That’s a huge success by any measure.

Now, nearly two years after the death of Muammar Qaddafi, Libya is backsliding into chaos. Striking workers angry about government corruption and low wages have attacked the engine of the country’s fragile economy: the export terminals and oil fields, many of them state-run, that hold Africa’s largest known crude reserves. To press their demands, roving militias have begun seizing and shutting down the terminals, leading to a precipitous drop in Libya’s precious oil exports, which account for practically all of the country’s gross domestic product. For more than two weeks, Libya’s exports have basically flatlined as all but one terminal have been shut-in.

Even more troubling is the news that production is starting to nose dive, too. This week, Libyan Oil and Gas Minister Adbulbari Al-Arusi said Libya is pumping only about 650,000 barrels a day. “A tragic situation,” Al-Arusi told reporters at a news conference in Tripoli on Tuesday. Adding economic weakness to a situation of social and political upheaval is never a good sign.

Wow. If we lose more oil from Libya destabilizing . . . well . . . damn.

I wonder if Iran is behind the destabilization. Reducing Libyan oil exports to break the sanctions against them would be a great strategy.

The underlying peaking problem of existing fields is here:


Using recent research from the Arab Petroleum Investment Corporation (APIC) it can be calculated that OPEC’s fiscal break-even oil prices have increased by around 7% pa in 2013 while OPEC’s population grows by 10 million every year.

The fiscal break-even oil price is the average oil price which is needed for an oil exporting country to balance its budget in a particular year. It is an important metric for a country’s fiscal vulnerability to oil. If the break-even price is higher than the market price budgets cannot be balanced

OPEC's average fiscal break-even oil price increases by 7% in 2013

Yeah . . . I gotta say, sometimes we need to look at the other sides of the issue. We fret about how we will run our economy as oil prices grow ever higher.

But those oil exporting countries may actually have bigger problems . . . their leaders worry about losing their heads when the people riot because they can no longer afford various social programs and price subsidies (bread, fuel, etc.). I think Egypt is experiencing it right now. Others may follow in due time.

Of course they could address those problems by getting their population growth under control but I guess that is just not even on the table for discussion. Well, if people don't deal with that issue then mother nature will. :-(

Does anyone know if the muslims think that "contraception is sent by the devil" like some of our lunatic fringe Christians here? There was a letter to the editor in the paper here (NC) a few weeks ago that was talking about abortion clinics and how many babies weren't born because of them - which then dropped right into a rant about how [white people] are being out-bred by the illegal Mexicans and there would be no more America.

Iran's Bushehr nuclear plant put into operation a few days ago :
Russia State Company "Rosatom" set to build additional new units at Bushehr:

Who needs all that power capacity anyway?
Izabella Kaminska | FTAlphaville | Aug 14 15:46

All of which complicates the economics of renewable supply greatly. At the very least, a premium must continuously be embedded into the market price to cover the high cost of keeping this sort of cumbersome but mostly idle infrastructure on standby:

In future, as more wind farms are integrated onto the grid, the demand for balancing and other ancillary services is set to escalate sharply, and so will the cost. Large numbers of fossil fuel plants will have to be kept under automatic governor control, part-loaded or in the short-term operating reserve (available within a maximum of four hours) to meet peak demand and to offset short-term variations in wind farm output. To recover their construction and operating costs, these plants will either need to be able to charge very high prices for the small amounts of power they do generate, or receive some form of capacity payment simply to remain available.

As Kemp notes, since nobody wants additional the costs to be covered by additional price volatility a much more rationale approach would be to move to a flat capacity payment model, in which market participants pool payments to cover the cost of keeping buffer capacity at the ready:

I keep seeing study after study that says, this need for massive fossil backup is practically non-existent. But, the argument doesn't go away.

Because a lot of people that write articles are not engineers. You certainly need some back-up but some people seem to think you need massive amounts when you really don't. What you really need is a combo of things. Diversity of different sources, some overbuild, geographically dispersed sources, some dispatchable hydro, some demand-response, and some fossil back-up.

Well, I am an engineer, although admittedly not a power engineer, and when I see charts like Germany's actual power production, I worry.

Take Monday 13 Feb 2012. The sun hardly shone, the wind hardly blew, they needed 60,000 MW to keep the country going, they could import a bit, but mostly they had to rely on conventional and nuclear.

From experience of rolling blackouts here, it just takes a few days of continual shortages due to poor planning, when you are used to power at the flick of a switch, before the masses start getting angry.

Chart from Electricity production from solar and wind in Germany in 2012 by Fraunhofer Institute.

While no one like cherry picked data, you are right. On days like that, you would need an extra 60GW of spare capacity. Carrying 60GW of spare capacity, in order to only use it a few days a year is ridiculous. Yet there are so many studies showing you don't need all that spare capacity, so you must be able to heat your house, and cook your dinner by burning unicorns. I'm not sure how the whole battery powered transport sector will work on a day like that. I guess everyone just has the day off, and businesses bear the full cost.

I'm not exactly worried about it. In the future we will use much less energy, because we will have less available. When FF are gone, they are gone, pretending renewables are as good as FF wont make it so.

As I kid we really looked forward to snow days. Not being able to run everything at full tilt every now and then ought not be an issue.

Yeah . . OK. So lets say 1% of the time it doesn't work fully. So you have 2 or 3 days a year where you have low power. Not a big deal. We already deal with that with thunderstorms, snowstorms, and wind storms that take out power.

But between over-building, having pumped water storage, compressed air storage, demand-response, and other tricks, you really can handle much of the lulls.

I would love to be a fly on the wall in the German grid control center.

My guess is there is a lot of swearing going on as they try to iron out fluctuations. Too much power here, not enough there, we can route some of it via Hannover, the rest will have to go via Halle, oh God have you looked at the weather forecast we'll have to buy more from the %$#& French...

I'm just guessing, but my suspicion is we're hearing a sanitized version of the benefits of renewable energy in Germany, simply because anyone from the industry who speaks counter to the politicians' happy prognostications is assured of a short career.

Perhaps I should make clear, I don't have a problem with renewables as such, I just have a problem with renewables which are so heavily subsidized as to be installed on the basis of financial gain rather than technical sense.

Concerning that day with low wind and PV power in Germany, there are some limitations of Germany's system that make generalizing inaccurate:

1. Germany is not finished building out wind and PV with the installed capacity at about 30 GW each. They have not installed offshore wind turbines yet which have a different production characteristic from onshore wind. They plan to over build wind power capacity by about 200% and PV by less than 100%. That is not enough to provide all power from wind and PV.

2. Germany is not large enough to smooth out variations caused by storms. They will need to occasionally import wind and PV generated electricity to take advantage of geographic distribution.

3. Germany is not a particularly sunny country meaning PV will not perform ideally there. Consequently they would probably have to overbuild PV by 10 times (600 GW capacity) which would enlarge that little sliver of PV power on Feb. 13 to about 40 GW.

4. Germany has some hydroelectric, run-of-river and biomass power not shown in that chart.

5. Demand side management that reduces power consumption during lulls and increases it during abundance of wind and PV would help.

Combining all of these factors the amount of necessary storage would be greatly reduced.

Why not some batteries in houses and just skip the extra capacity? Evening peaks are a problem, but nightime use is pretty low in residential, right? The times that need coverage are early morning (before work) and evening (after work).

For industrial customers, they can make hay while the sun shines. LOL.

Honestly, I expect that events will eventually overtake engineering. Money will run short, things will be fudged, there will be brownouts and blackouts with the more wealthy going off-grid and the less wealthy dealing with it as they deal with every other thing. Industrial customers will adapt or fail. Maybe I'm wrong, who knows.

"Honestly, I expect that events will eventually overtake engineering. Money will run short, things will be fudged, there will be brownouts and blackouts with the more wealthy going off-grid and the less wealthy dealing with it as they deal with every other thing. Industrial customers will adapt or fail. Maybe I'm wrong, who knows."

Bingo. Why does this never come up when we're talking about the need for dispatchable FF capacity for RE peaking? I'm far more worried about FF production shortages with no RE 'to back them up' than the other way around. It's like this is one issue where BAU is the assumption when it's being argued. In a couple hundred years, I think we all agree we'll be using next to no FF. So the capacity factor for RE is gonna solve itself one way or the other. That's been in the back of my head every time the subject came up, and it just surfaced. TOD is all about drawing the line from one obvious dot (now), to the next obvious dot (post-peak). I guess it comes down to where you fall on the Kinsey doomer spectrum. But seriously, we're mostly convinced of a fair economic dislocation on the way, and a decline in ANE & FF in general, then we start talking about how we can't even afford to back up RE *now*!! How exactly we gonna afford it when there's lines for diesel? The invisible hand would appear to mostly be around our throats in this and many similar situations we are just beginning to perceive.

Bring on the brownout days! We work too much on too little that's important as it is. Time to slow down. I've been using time I could have been working on 'collapsing now', with a permaculture flavor. I'd rather spend all day in the garden, but paying rent to a bank for a place to live and to an insurance company for doctor's visits, seems to have made the majority of us slaves. Our stuff really does own us, or our time anyway. Plus I get to be in the real climate and yell "Hi" at the unsuspecting populace when I slow down and ride my bike.


right. demand response. In my house we look ahead and do what will fit the solar income.. Not hard at all. Ditto with my shop and two helpers. Lots of sun, lots of welding, etc. No sun, do all the other stuff we do that takes only us, and not electricity. Tremendous capability if the incentives are there, and easy to make incentives.

And, of course, gas turbines spin up real fast. Lots of small gas turbines all over, use the reject heat for something useful.

And, oh by the way, can I sell you a stirling to go right next to your PV? No? Well no surprise, I haven't finished my super cheap cooking pot engine just yet.

Read Control of the National Grid (Great Britain) on Wikipedia. It's really interesting.

Their main worry is a turbine tripping, say 660 MW going off-line. The extra load slows the remaining turbines and the frequency drops. They have only seconds to find the missing power or shed load. There's a hierarchy:

- Cut off customers like arc furnaces and cold storage immediately
- Get hot reserves with steam in boilers going
- Start small diesel generators at customers' premises
- Start gas turbines
- Start cold reserves like offline power stations

I was amazed to discover that small diesels were an important part of their plan. It looks to me like the rapid supply of small amounts of backup power could be a business opportunity.

Of course, you have to have the reserve power stations available and in working order. I don't see much scope for scrapping any unless renewables are heavily overbuilt.

I keep seeing study after study that says, this need for massive fossil backup is practically non-existent. But, the argument doesn't go away.

In the US, some of the problem is the way that the reliability authorities do their calculations. As I understand it (and please, people who know more chime in), the calculation asks a question of the form (and I know this is a mess), "For a given plant, and an arbitrary time excluding scheduled downtimes, what's the maximum value that the plant can produce with probability greater than X" where X is in the high 0.90s. For traditional large power plants -- coal, nuclear, NG, hydro -- the number is a fairly close match to the nameplate capacity. Wind has a problem: for a typical onshore farm, the percent of time where the output is zero is more than 1-X. IIRC, even just a few years ago ERCOT counted wind as zero, or maybe 2% of nameplate, for reliability purposes.

The studies I've seen that show wind doesn't need as much backup as the reliability authorities require don't ask the same question. That is, the reliability folks aren't just asking "How much conventional capacity do I need to backup wind?" but also "How much wind can I count on to backup conventional generators that fail at an arbitrary time?" I believe the authorities know this is an issue, and are trying to work out ways to better frame the problem.

Mangled Jet Stream to Collide with Tropical System over Southeastern US for Major Rain Event?

If there are some reading this analysis and thinking that it rhymes somewhat with set up for Superstorm Sandy, they wouldn’t be entirely off the mark. Until recently, it was less likely that tropical systems would combine with polar originating air masses over the US. The troughs originated and faded rapidly, only infrequently coming into dramatic collisions. But now, with the Jet Stream increasingly settling into a stuck pattern (spurred by human caused warming and sea ice loss) and seeming to favor trough development over the continental US and not over the ocean, such collisions are far more likely...

...Given the current position of the Jet Stream and uncertainty over potential storm strength and track, this situation could rapidly develop into a dangerous event for the southeastern US or we could end up with a storm system making landfall closer to Texas and Mexico. So we’ll be closely watching storm strength and path over the coming week.

A Song of Flood and Fire: One Million Square Kilometers of Burning Siberia Doused by Immense Deluge

The large storm system continued to churn through Yakutia and by today, August 14th, a massive region covering 1 million square kilometers was inundated by floodwater. What we see in the satellite shot for today are not one, not two, not three, but four rivers of moisture linking the major storm system that has inundated Yakutia.

The first river of moisture is a continuation of the Pacific flow rising up along the southeast Russian coast, the second is the monsoonal flow moving from west to east to combine with this Pacific flow. A third flow feeds into the storm from Europe as it rides along parallel and to the north of the more southerly monsoonal flow. A final river of moisture rides up the from the storm, linking it to the Arctic and likely sharing energy and instability with that cold and dynamic region.

A storm sucking in moisture from the Pacific, the Atlantic and the Arctic. And dumping it on an area with huge carbon and methane deposits. Wow! Both the above are from a very good climate change blog BTW, well worth bookmarking IMO.

With all due respect to "robertscribbler" (aka, Robert Marston Fanney), I think his presentation(s) are intended to sensationalize the weather patterns in order to support his claims about the Earth's changing climate. Throwing up satellite snapshots of an area and claiming that they are proof of anything is exactly what the denialist camp excels at. No single storm can be blamed on global warming and even a few years of extreme events can't be said to provide absolute proof. He makes no attempt to put those events in those blog posts into the longer term context, quantifying them vs previous periods of extremes. He gives few if any links to support his claims, except hand waving about "wavy jet streams" and "rivers of moisture", neither of which has a scientific meaning.

He may be part right, but I think he is too hysterical and overly dramatic. It's as if each day's post is another episode in the movie, "The Day after Tomorrow", which I think we know was science FICTION, not fact...

E. Swanson

I'm not so sure Eric, recent analysis is making it harder to ignore extreme weather events ...

... Extreme heat waves such as those that hit the US in 2012 and Australia in 2009—dubbed three-sigma events by the researchers—are projected to cover double the amount of global land by 2020 and quadruple by 2040.

Meanwhile, more-severe summer heat waves—classified as five-sigma events—will go from being essentially absent in the present day to covering around three per cent of the global land surface by 2040.

The new study, which has been published today, Thursday 15 August, in IOP Publishing's journal Environmental Research Letters, finds that in the first half of the 21st century, these projections will occur regardless of the amount of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere.

... Under a high emission scenario, the projections show that by 2100, 3-sigma heat waves will cover 85 per cent of the global land area and five-sigma heat waves will cover around 60 per cent of global land.

"Heat extremes can be very damaging to society and ecosystems, often causing heat-related deaths, forest fires or losses to agricultural production. So an increase in frequency is likely to pose serious challenges to society and some regions will have to adapt to more frequent and more severe heat waves already in the near-term," continued Coumou.

Chart & Graphic

Full Article: Historic and future increase in the global land area affected by monthly heat extremes

also Businesses urged to brace for extreme heatwaves in UK

It's important to recognize that modern agriculture exists within a 2 sigma bounded system. 3 sigma events are consistant with 40-80% crop failure. 5 sigma equals 100% crop failure. 5 sigma events are also capable of 'erasing' ecosystems - they simply don't recover.

Based on this recent analysis, at least 10% of global agriculture would be expected to fail every year by 2020; 20% by 2040. [Based on the article's maps 50-70% of agricultural land will be involved every year] This would clash with the UN goal of 70% increase in food production by 2040. With a drag like this grain carryover stocks would approach zero way before 2040.

Climate feed-back and economic feed-back would probably not improve the situation.

This analysis seems to suggest an inevitable bottleneck in the near-term. The 2100 results are consistant with a Permian–Triassic (P–Tr) extinction level event. It would be impossible to support a multi-billion person population or a recognizably intact ecosystem if 60-85% of the land surface is undergoing extreme events.

Note to self: Take the blue pill next time.

I agree that extremes are important. You may recall some of my posts during spring and summer of last year in which I linked to a graph of daily record highs and record lows. those graphs look much like later ones which appeared in a scientific paper or two. It's just that Fanney's posts don't give any historical context. Just this morning, my thermometer showed a minimum of 49F, a rather Fall like temperature when the seasonal norm is much higher. But, looking at some records for Boone, NC, I found that record lows were 38F and 37F set on 12 and 13 August 1930 and 40F and 44F set on 16 and 17 August 1979.

If one worries about extremes, think of what would (will?) happen if (when) another really big (200 year) volcanic eruption happens, as in 1883, 1815, ~1601, ~1452 or ~1259 CE. Care to estimate the deaths due to famine from another one of those in today's world? Then there are the occasional really, really big events, like TOBA...

E. Swanson

300-Year Drought Was Downfall of Ancient Greece

A 300-year drought may have caused the demise of several Mediterranean cultures, including ancient Greece, new research suggests.

A sharp drop in rainfall may have led to the collapse of several eastern Mediterranean civilizations, including ancient Greece, around 3,200 years ago. The resulting famine and conflict may help explain why the entire Hittite culture, chariot-riding people who ruled most of the region of Anatolia, vanished from the planet, according to a study published today (Aug. 14) in the journal PLOS ONE.

also Changing climate may have driven collapse of civilizations in Late Bronze Age

Full Article: Environmental Roots of the Late Bronze Age Crisis

and Can Extreme Weather Make Climate Change Worse?

"this event underlines the sensitivity of these agriculture-based societies to climate"

What? As if they are unique in this regard.

I don't think calling them 3 and 5 sigma events makes sense. In the climate of 1960, they would be. But in a much warmer climate, you redo the stats, so 3/5 sigma would still be just as rare -its just the the median and variance have changed a lot.

So any agriculture in 2080, isn't going to be run assuming 1960 climate. It will be planned based upon recent experience.

eos - ... So any agriculture in 2080, isn't going to be run assuming 1960 climate. It will be planned based upon recent experience.

You can keep a running mean as climate changes but crops don't understand statistics. Name 5 plants that we consume that do well in 140 F weather

We ain't gonna have 140 (maybe in death valley).
I have a cactus in my garden that is grown as a food crop in Mexico (also India, North Africa etc.). So we won't be totally food free.

Even Cockroaches die at around 120 F.

So any agriculture in 2080, isn't going to be run assuming 1960 climate. It will be planned based upon recent experience.

Not sure what you mean by "planned". Are countries suffering from drought going to shift their borders? Are we going to somehow replace the core plants (wheat, rice, corn, etc...) when we find out we are not able to grow them on currently productive lands?

After their forests are cleared by fire sparked from drought and heat, Canada and Russia may expand agriculture.

"So any agriculture in 2080, isn't going to be run assuming 1960 climate. It will be planned based upon recent experience."

So, what are you saying? When 5o events become 3o likely, what do you 'plan' for? i.e. Russian heatwave (wheat failure) and US droughts & flooding: do you plan not to plant crops at all cause they get wiped out with increasing frequency?

You're right about the cactus- we're going to have to start liking the taste of sturdier foodstuffs. I hope 'let them eat rice' never rhymes with 'let them eat cake'.


Re: the link to Robert Marston Fanney ...

the same also applies to J.Michael Greer or here

Sometimes you can't judge a book by it's cover

I wasn't judging Mr. Fanney by his book cover, but by his resume. I presume that he wrote that blurb on Amazon, which indicates no education or experience in the sciences. That he writes well does not automatically make him a believable expert on weather or climate. Remember Lowell Ponte, who wrote "The Cooling", who later became a conservative talk show host like Limbaugh? It's a mine field out there, one must tread cautiously...

E. Swanson

From yesterday (Wednesday)

Solar energy in schools project, deadline for supplier bids today

Today is the deadline for the submission of tenders to the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) for the supply of 18 rooftop solar photovoltaic systems.

The PCJ announced on July 4 that bids will be welcomed from local and overseas contractors.

The systems are to be installed at 15 schools and three public sector agencies.

The PCJ says the move is part of the Government’s thrust to reduce the national energy bill by using renewable energy.

The economic effects of the tar sands being felt thousands of miles away in somewhat unexpected ways!

Port skills exodus - Industries buckle as technicians, truckers flee to Canada

As Jamaica continues to haemorrhage manpower to the skilled-worker programme in Canada, there are lingering concerns that a number of local sectors could crumble unless something is done fast to staunch the flow.....[snip}

Since 2009, some 127 skilled workers have quit their jobs at the KCT, which is a subsidiary of the Port Authority of Jamaica. The majority of those who left took up jobs in Canada.

According to Belcher, 87 per cent of them were recruited directly by Canadians, 10 per cent migrated of their own volition and the remainder were employed to local companies.

"If Jamaica runs out of technicians, we are in deep trouble. The thing is, with our training programme and new equipment that we are getting, we will be able to keep our customers, but what it really amounts to is that we are becoming a technological university here for the Canadian market," Belcher said.

Maybe related to Peak Oil, maybe not. Certainly part of what Darwinian refers to as the Peak Oil Dynamic.

Barbados cancels free UWI tuition

The Barbados government says it will no longer pay tuition fees for nationals studying at the University of the West Indies (UWI).

Finance and Economic Affairs Minister Chris Sinckler in his 2013/14 budget presentation on Tuesday, said that effective 2014, Barbadian students pursuing studies at the university's three campuses will be required to pay their own tuition fees, while the government continues to fund economic costs.,,,,,[snip}

"The expansion has meant major increases in the government of Barbados' contribution to UWI."

In 2007, Barbados' financial contribution to UWI was BDS$79.3 million; the next year it shot to BDS$120.5 million.

"To put things in context, for the entire period 1999 to 2007 combined, the total contribution required from the government of Barbados to the Cave Hill Campus was BDS$543.2 million, compared to the BDS$636.3-million contribution required for the 2008 to 2012 period. The reality is that the amount required in the last five years was BDS$93 million greater than the previous nine years combined," the finance minister said.

Students whose parents cannot afford university fees will be offered assistance after means testing.

Alan from the islands

"The PCJ says the move is part of the Government’s thrust to reduce the national energy bill by using renewable energy."

Holy smoke - has someone over there been reading The Oil Drum? Lets hope it gets installed correctly and performs beyond their expectations.

Holy smoke - has someone over there been reading The Oil Drum?

I don't know but, a certain person who is a regular reader of The Oil Drum has been posting comments to articles on one of the local newspaper websites every chance they get. This person also happens to be an acquaintance of the chairman of the board of directors of the PCJ and the senior civil servant that was responsible for coordinating the formulation of the national energy policy. They have both been briefed on the subject of Peak Oil so, whether they believe in a near term peak or not, they both are aware of the concept.

Alan from the islands

Good work man. This is the kind of mysterious power that The Oil Drum has had - like the "six degrees of separation." Leanan has hinted that TOD has made some connections in high places. Plant the seeds and see if they'll grow.

Thanks. I could not live with myself if I just sat back and let the chips fall where they may, especially when there is so much optimism (unfounded?) regarding the prospects for growth in world crude oil production, as highlighted by Euan's most recent key post "Three Nails in the Coffin of Peak Oil".

Alan from the islands

I think a lot of people did not understand Euan's post.

That was pretty obvious from many of the responses, both those who agreed with the title and those that disagreed.

Alan from the islands

"... both those who agreed with the title and those that disagreed."

I believe the separation to be between those who read only the title...and those who continued on to read the rest of the article.

Tesla's invasion of Europe begins

Tesla Supercharger Roll Out Now Underway in Europe; First One to be Installed in Norway

With the first European Model S sales now behind us, Tesla is working feverishly to roll out the supporting Supercharging infrastructure.

The first station will go live in Norway soon, with several more following over the course of the next few weeks.

Tesla has not yet issued detailed information on the locations of these upcoming Superchargers, but thanks to some careful digging (researching of permits pulled and images of construction caught on camera) by the creator of this Zee Maps, we know where at least some will soon be.

Alan from the islands

Unfair Share: How Oil and Gas Drillers Avoid Paying Royalties

... at age 60, Don Feusner sold all but a few Angus cattle and aimed for a comfortable retirement on money from drilling his land for natural gas instead.

It seemed promising. Two wells drilled on his lease hit as sweet a spot as the Marcellus shale could offer – tens of millions of cubic feet of natural gas gushed forth. Last December, he received a check for $8,506 for a month’s share of the gas.

Then one day in April, Feusner ripped open his royalty envelope to find that while his wells were still producing the same amount of gas, the gusher of cash had slowed. His eyes cascaded down the page to his monthly balance at the bottom: $1,690.

Chesapeake Energy, the company that drilled his wells, was withholding almost 90 percent of Feusner’s share of the income to cover unspecified “gathering” expenses and it wasn’t explaining why.

An analysis of lease agreements, government documents and thousands of pages of court records shows that such underpayments are widespread. Thousands of landowners like Feusner are receiving far less than they expected based on the sales value of gas or oil produced on their property. In some cases, they are being paid virtually nothing at all.

... To keep royalties low, companies sometimes set up subsidiaries or limited partnerships to which they sell oil and gas at reduced prices, only to recoup the full value of the resources when their subsidiaries resell it. Royalty payments are usually based on the initial transaction.

Meet the Potential Future of Electricity Generation

... Redox's PowerSERG 2-80, also called "The Cube," which connects to your natural gas line and electrochemically converts methane to electricity. Just larger than a dishwasher, the system sits comfortably in a basement, outside of a building, or on a roof, and—with no engine and virtually no moving parts—quietly goes about its business of providing power.

The first-generation Cube runs off natural gas, but it can generate power from a variety of fuel sources, including propane, gasoline, biofuel and hydrogen. ... It uses fuel far more efficiently than an internal combustion engine, and can run at an 80 percent efficiency when used to provide both heat and power.

Redox plans to release The Cube in 2014. The first version will be configured to 25 kilowatts, which can comfortably power a gas station, moderately sized grocery store or small shopping plaza. Additional power offerings will follow. Using different-sized fuel cell stacks, the company can offer The Cube at 5 kW, to provide always-on electricity for an average American home, or up to 80 kW in one system.

It'll be interesting to see how this plays out. Bloom Energy's "Energy Servers" start at 100 kW, IIRC. An affordable, small (5-10 kW) unit would be a good backup for an off-grid system; run on propane which is storable for long periods, currently pretty cheap, and could be stockpiled when prices are low. No mention of upfront costs.

Just another way to burn nat gas, and fry the planet. This is not green in any way. If it enables combined heat and power, it might slightly increase efficiency.
I think these sorts of solutions don't rampo very well either. The Bloombox sounds to me like it wouldn't save the customer any money absent the subsidies.

The Bloombox, now that's marketing. Stupid names for some reason work. Look at Google, Frisbee, twitter, Kardashian, Kanye, Cher, Demi, Honey Boo Boo. People for some reason love catchy baby sounding names and often it kick starts a product, service or career. So whether or not at the end of the day Bloombox makes any real economic sense, owners will get to say, "Yeah, we have a Bloombox!"

Earlier this year there was a drumbeat where some electric company executive hinted to a device like this and said it was more or less going to put the electric companies out of business. Well he was right about the device, we'll have to see what happens next. From the specs it looks like it's on par with the efficiency of a large combined cycle power plant.

I think it could be a game changer if they can make it cheap enough. Basically say goodbye to your power company (and I say this as an engineer for one of the larger power companies in the US). Many areas already have the gas lines, and I'd trust my gas reliability over electric reliability any day. If they can make it dummy-proof then it's game on.

1. How does it deal with loads with high inrush current?
2. Would the gas line into the house need to be upsized?
3. Would they be leased or sold? Someone like myself would rather buy, but non-tech people would probably lease.

The box plus a PV system would be the best combo in my mind. I'd toss the electric company at that point.

"The box plus a PV system would be the best combo in my mind."

An essentially perfect match - it would take the place of the off-grid backup generator.

With a fairly small buffer battery array (4kWh?), the system could likely put out only 2kW and still keep up with a normal household demand.

Funny. I tried for years to interest money people in a domestic stirling for the PV backup, with no luck at all. And this when we had a good prototype doing well against fuel cells. These stirling people beat out fuel cells in a DOD competition for small portable power. The fuel cell people asked for years and millions, the stirling people delivered a whole system in about a year that passed the requirements. Then everything went to hell in a series of stupid management decisions.

Anyhow, solar has solved everything.


Can solar energy help save Greece?

What happens to renewable energy programs in a country that gets whacked by a full-scale debt crisis, like the one that struck Greece beginning in 2009—do the programs whither and die in the winds of austerity? And how do people view such programs when many of them can't afford to heat their houses?

... When the global recession spilled over up into a full-scale national debt crisis in 2010, Greece was squeezed by oil and gas prices that were reaching record highs while household incomes were falling fast. Parts of the country were returned to pre-modernity almost overnight, Knight said.

The effects of the crisis as felt were also profound. Today many Greeks can no longer afford to run cars, cook dinner or heat their homes, and last winter people regularly burned old furniture, clothes and plastics to stay warm. The illegal harvesting of firewood is rampant and environmentally-destructive lignite ('dirty coal') is the primary source of energy in Greece, he added.

Calif. panel launches probe into offshore fracking

California regulators are launching an investigation into offshore fracking after revelations that the practice had quietly occurred off the coast since the late 1990s.

California Coastal Commission staff member Alison Dettmer says the agency has begun looking into the extent of hydraulic fracturing in federal and state waters.

A recent report by The Associated Press documented at least a dozen instances of hydraulic fracturing in the Santa Barbara Channel, site of a disastrous 1969 oil platform blowout that spurred the modern environmental movement.

Mountaintop mining pollution has distinct chemical signatures

Three elements commonly found at elevated levels in an Appalachian river polluted by runoff from mountaintop coal mining have distinctive chemistries that can be traced back to their source, according to a Duke University-led study.

The distinctive chemistries of sulfur, carbon and strontium provide scientists with new, more accurate ways to track pollution from mountaintop mining sites and to distinguish it from contamination from other sources.

The newly identified tracers will be especially useful in watersheds with more than one source of potential contamination, he said. "Because they allow us to distinguish if contaminants are coming from natural sources, fracking and shale gas development, coal mining, coal ash disposal, or other causes."


It seems to me that glaciation during an ice age is the mother of all mountaintop removal projects.

I wonder if there was a surge in environmental pollution after the glaciers retreated and exposed the freshly-scraped rocks and rock flour to weathering?

Defense Contractor: Climate Change Could Create "Business Opportunities"

Of all the business opportunities presented by global warming, Raytheon Company may have found one of the most alarming. The Massachusetts-based defense contractor—which makes everything from communications systems to Tomahawk missiles—thinks that future "security concerns" caused by climate change could mean expanded sales of its military products.

Raytheon regularly submits information to the nonprofit Carbon Disclosure Project about its carbon reduction efforts and how climate change could affect its business. In response to a question about climate-related opportunities, Raytheon wrote [registration required] last year that "expanded business opportunities are likely to arise as consumer behaviour and needs change in response to climate change."

... What kind of business opportunities? ... the company expects to see "demand for its military products and services as security concerns may arise as results of droughts, floods, and storm events occur as a result of climate change."

The document says that these extreme weather conditions could have "destabilizing effects" and that on an international level, "climate change may cause humanitarian disasters, contribute to political violence, and undermine weak governments":

... Raytheon says in the document that these opportunities are "very likely" to occur 6 to 10 years down the road ...

As Zorg would say ... I know this music

... Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life

Fukushima Forever?

... The spread of radiation from Fukushima has been continuous, though the rate of release has most likely varied significantly. No one really knows, and the authorities have not told all they know. And they have not tried to know as much as they could. If you don't want to tell the truth, it's very helpful not to know the truth.

Accurate information could serve to mitigate the damage from Fukushima, but accurate information might also be evidence of the culpability - moral and especially legal - of those in charge. That gives them a strong incentive to know as little as possible, even when the common good requires knowing as much as possible.

Failing to tell the truth, even to themselves, the authorities find themselves dancing across a dreamscape where, even if they happen to discover something useful, they are not likely to be able to recognize it.

... All of that is just the way political kabuki is supposed to work: impress the audience with the intensity of official concern, deflect attention to some "emergency" that is really just more of the same, make credible-sounding promises that won't make much difference even if they are implemented in some unspecified future.

also Sailor believes illness due to radiation from service in Japan

Warren Buffett invests in oil sands producer Suncor

Warren Buffett just injected himself into one of the hottest environmental debates in the country.

On Thursday Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (BRKA, Fortune 500) announced through a regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it bought $524 million worth of Suncor stock last quarter.

Suncor (SU) is a Canadian oil company that derives most of its current oil production -- and future expansion plans -- from Alberta's oil sands.

Just last year:

Warren Buffett On The Environment, Businesses Can't Take 'Shortcuts'

What's bad for the environment is also bad for the bottom line.

That's what Warren Buffett is arguing in the latest sustainability report from Johns Manville, a building-materials manufacturer owned by Buffett's company Berkshire Hathaway. In a short note toward the beginning of the report, Buffett writes that "taking shortcuts is not the pathway to achieving sustainable competitive advantage, nor is it an avenue toward satisfying customers" -- evidently a reference to the importance of keeping a business green-friendly and compliant with rules.

Buffett -- investor, philanthropist, tax-the-rich cheerleader and occasional Obama whisperer -- seems to put great stock in the idea that environmental prudence goes hand-in-hand with profit.

Seems there are exceptions to every rule...

Buffett's a pretty smart guy. He's figured out the energy desperation for oil from anywhere no matter how dirty it is, will only ramp up from here.

Scientists use new approach to reveal function of Greenland's ice sheet

Findings from a large-scale ice drilling study on the Greenland ice sheet by a team of University of Montana and University of Wyoming researchers may revise the models used to predict how ice sheets move.The work was published in Science on Aug. 15 in a paper titled "Basal Drainage System Response to Increasing Surface Melt on the Greenland Ice Sheet."

... Once the data was analyzed, the research team discovered that it didn't match up with the working hypotheses for water flow beneath the ice sheet. This led the scientists to surmise that there are other critical processes at work that had been missing – one possibility being that as the ice sheet accelerates, the acceleration itself opens up space between the ice and bedrock and expands the drainage network. "This process is largely neglected in current interpretations," Meierbachtol said. "We need to pull ourselves away from the narrow vision and start to explore some of the other options for transient growth."

AP Source: Ford to restate hybrid gas mileage

Ford will reduce gas mileage estimates for its C-Max hybrid, following a government investigation into consumer complaints that the car's actual mileage was lower, a person familiar with the matter said Thursday.

Ford will drop the combined city-highway mileage listed on the window sticker from 47 mpg to 43 mpg (20 kpl to 18.3 kpl), according to the person, who asked not to be identified because the change has not been formally announced. ... It's the second time in less than a year that the EPA has made an automaker reduce window sticker mileage figures. In November, the EPA found inflated numbers on 13 Hyundai and Kia models.

The customer payments are likely to cost the companies millions of dollars.

It is going to be interesting to hear the explanation behind this. That is a awfully big drop in MPG. The C-Max is a nice car but those numbers always sounded a bit suspect.

Well . . . this gives people more incentive to look at the Energi plug-in hybrid version. :-)

It's starting to look like the Chevy Volt will actually wind up beating the VW XL1 in the "real world" on MPG figures. The reason is essentially the same as the problem with the Plug-in-Prius...an undersized electric motor that causes the ICE to come on too often.

With the PiP and XL1 the electric motor is too small to satisfy the acceleration and hill climbing demands by itself, so it calls on the ICE motor often - but also not often enough. A cold engine is an incredibly inefficient engine - so this punches your MPG in the 'nards. An engine, once started, should remain running and be kept at an efficient load and RPM.

I remember running across the log of a Volt owner who one month only burned 0.5 gallons of gas...but because the motor was kicking in at the end of his drive and never got a chance to get up to temperature his on-engine miles per gallon was 16mpg. Whoopsies. But 1/2 gallon for a month's driving? I'd take it. Extrapolated that would be 6 gallons per year...most people go through that in a week. (He also went on trips that used more...but it was only 1/2 gal that month).

Tips to any automakers listening for future hybrids - #1 and most important: put in a big enough battery and electric motor to keep the engine from turning on until the battery is depleted. Second: smart aerodynamics. Third - use a cylinder displacement at least 500cc and at a 0.9:1.0 ratio...use few of these, for example on the Volt - use only two. The battery should withhold enough power so that the motor only needs to output the time-averaged amount of constant loss through drag and friction, the battery should deplete on hill climb, regenerate on the downhill.

P.S. An Electric Lightning Superbike won motorcycle top time on the Pike's Peak International Hill Climb. There were quite a few electric entries this year (including a FitEV), but the fastest of them were sandbagged by weather problems. Of interest - many of them were running sirens because they were otherwise so quiet they'd sneak up on spectators.

Your iPhone uses more energy than a refrigerator

How much energy does it take to power your smartphone addiction?

The average iPhone uses more energy than a midsize refrigerator, says a new paper by Mark Mills, CEO of Digital Power Group, a tech investment advisory. A midsize refrigerator that qualifies for the Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star rating uses about 322 kW-h a year, while your iPhone uses about 361 kW-h if you stack up wireless connections, data usage, and battery charging.

The paper, rather ominously titled "The Cloud Begins With Coal: Big Data, Big Networks, Big Infrastructure, and Big Power," details how the world's Information Communication Technology (ITC) ecosystem — which includes smartphones, those high-powered Bloomberg terminals on trading floors, and server farms that span the size of seven football fields — are taking up a larger and larger slice of the world's energy pie.

There is a link to the paper in the article.

Another fascinating piece of information.

All added up, Mills calculates that it now takes more energy to stream a high-def movie than to manufacture and ship a DVD of the same film.

Takeaway...expect more Fukushimas.

NO way an Iphone uses 361kW/h per year... more like 4 to 8 kW/h per year.

Average current out of battery 150ma per hour * 3.7volts.. == 555 mW/hr.. * 8760 == 4.818 kW/hr. As for offsite power usage, Google consumes ~3.3 billion kWh per year, or ~1 to 2kWh per user per year.

Tack on some extra usage for Internet and cell towers and you'll see that an Iphone in no way come even close to a refrigerator in power consumption.

For me my energy consumption dropped significantly after I went 100% wireless(Android+feature phone). No more aDSL or cable modem drawing 5 to 10 watts 24x7, no more answering machine drawing 2 to 3 watts 24x7, dumped my local email/web server(45 watts, 24x7). It's replacement is a hosted server(3$/mo of which less than 10% is electricity usage), reduced A/C usage, etc. All in all going wireless was a win, win, win.

NO way an Iphone uses 361kW/h per year... more like 4 to 8 kW/h per year.

That statement needs to be re-worded, it should be "Using an Iphone uses more energy than Using a refrigerator." That counts all the energy needed to make that Iphone useful. It's useless if you don't count the delivery of information that makes the Iphone useful instead of a pile of useless parts.

Tack on some extra usage for Internet and cell towers and you'll see that an Iphone in no way come even close to a refrigerator in power consumption.

You obviously don't have the remotest idea of the energy consumption of the Internet and Cellphone infrastructure. I've worked in both and the energy consumption is gargantuan, even when spread among the users!

If you're going to count the energy used to transmit the data to the iPhone, then to make a fair comparison you need to count the energy used to transport the stuff in the refrigerator from the shops.