The Top Energy Stories of 2006 (and Happy New Year!) from The Oil Drum

Please have fun and be safe in your holiday celebrating and travels.

I am doubting that we will have much content over the weekend and Monday, so instead I'll paste the top 50 posts for the year (by number of comments, which is a completely unfair way to proclaim a top 50, I'll grant you, especially for some of HO, Dave C, and Khebab's technical posts, which leave people more awestruck than conversational) under the fold (thanks again to stiffpicken, whose blog can be found here.) I'll also point you to the thread below which has folks' suggestions for what posts they thought had the most impact on them, which can be found here.

Jul. 24 - 463 comments - Jay Hanson and

Dec. 11 - 428 comments - A Debate on the Substance and Timing of the Peak of Oil Production and Consumption, Part II

Mar. 01 - 388 comments - Why peak oil is probably about now

Dec. 13 - 379 comments - Why We Drive

Aug. 28 - 375 comments - The Energy Balance of Ethanol versus Gasoline

Nov. 11 - 352 comments - From the Editor's Desk: Peak Oil, Heretical Thought, Complexity, and the Future of The Oil Drum

Dec. 20 - 340 comments - The Auto Efficiency Wedge

Nov. 16 - 340 comments - Does the Peak Oil "Myth" Just Fall Down? -- Our Response to CERA

Aug. 08 - 337 comments - Is Nuclear Power a Viable Option for Our Energy Needs?

Oct. 19 - 336 comments - Energy from Wind: A Discussion of the EROI Research

Jul. 27 - 333 comments - Vinod Khosla - Give Him Your Ideas

Aug. 09 - 329 comments - Khosla Responds: "Imagining the Future of Gasoline: Reality or Blue-sky Dreaming?"

Feb. 16 - 327 comments - Why the US Political System Is Unable to React to Peak Oil: Institutions

Dec. 16 - 319 comments - A Different Approach to Calculating Saudi Arabia's Oil Reserves

Apr. 09 - 306 comments - Iran -- Apocalypse Now?

Feb. 13 - 302 comments - Dr Deffeyes defines a date

Sep. 18 - 297 comments - Let's Talk Gas Tax (Poll)

Apr. 28 - 290 comments - The Politics of Oil: The Discourse Must Change

Jul. 12 - 289 comments - Peak Oil, Persuasion, and the World Meme

Oct. 07 - 284 comments - The End of Fossil Energy

Aug. 22 - 282 comments - NY Times Energy Series: Nuclear

Aug. 08 - 276 comments - More thoughts on Prudhoe Bay

Dec. 01 - 274 comments - A Credible Threat?

Nov. 28 - 274 comments - Sustainability, Energy Independence and Agricultural Policy

Jun. 29 - 272 comments - Inflationary Collapses, or The NPV of Grandchildren

May 19 - 271 comments - XTL: Promise and Peril

Oct. 02 - 266 comments - JHK: "A Hard Place"

Jul. 15 - 266 comments - The Course of Our Lives WILL Be Determined by the First Derivative of a Function

Feb. 01 - 264 comments - Numbers and the State of the Union Energy segment

Mar. 31 - 262 comments - From an Insider: Rig Prices, Rig Depth, and How to Get a Job

Oct. 04 - 260 comments - The Specter of Recession

Sep. 27 - 257 comments - Burning Buried Sunshine

Jul. 26 - 257 comments - A Letter from the TOD Editors Box...

Aug. 13 - 254 comments - Due Diligence: A reader's response to Khosla

Jul. 15 - 251 comments - Peak Oil and L.A.

Feb. 04 - 241 comments - World Nuclear Panel Refers Iran to the Security Council

Aug. 04 - 240 comments - Heinberg: Middle East at a Crossroads

Aug. 03 - 239 comments - EIA insisting on plateau

Apr. 30 - 235 comments - Wishful thinking

Sep. 17 - 230 comments - A Thought for Today: "Losing Faith in Peak Oil's Transformative Power"

May 24 - 230 comments - E85: Spinning Our Wheels

Jul. 31 - 228 comments - A Conversation with Vinod Khosla

Dec. 04 - 226 comments - A Debate on the Substance and Timing of the Peak of Oil Production and Consumption, Part I

Jan. 27 - 223 comments - Hubbert Linearization Analysis of the Top Three Net Oil Exporters

Jan. 16 - 222 comments - The Iranian Oil Weapon

Mar. 01 - 221 comments - NYT says peak oil "almost certainly correct"

Jun. 18 - 218 comments - "Oil Shale Development Imminent"

Jul. 25 - 216 comments - Vinod Khosla Debunked: Ethanol is NOT the Answer

May 09 - 212 comments - The Limits of Biofuels

Nov. 22 - 211 comments - Dr James Hansen: Can We Still Avoid Dangerous Human-Made Climate Change?

Folks, also consider this a reminder to positively rate this articles (using the icons under the tags in the story title) at reddit, digg, and if you are so inclined.

This set of links especially would be a good thing for others to see, so they can sample The Oil Drum's content, so hit this hard, if you are so inclined!

Also, don't forget to submit them to your favorite link farms, such as metafilter, stumbleupon, slashdot, fark, boingboing, furl, or any of the others.

Cheers and Happy Holidays from The Oil Drum!

Top energy story of 2006 is this:

Price of Oil Drops Again to Below 1 Yergin ($38)

Oh. It did not happen? That's the point. It was the top non-news of 2006.

Here is the 2nd runner up: Scientists discover a crispy creamy donut source of abiotic oil at the core of Planet Earth.

But it will happen in 2007 if not sooner.

Happy New Year to all.

Big news stories of 2007.

The price of oil once again does not get down to $38.
The U.S., once again, does not go to war with Iran.
Again, hurricanes do not devastate Gulf of Mexico oil production.
No electric cars or plug-in hybrids become mass marketed.
Neither GM nor Ford will file for bankruptcy.
Inflation once again will be below three percent in the U.S.
The dollar will not collapse.
The price of oil will fluctuate quite a bit.
The U.S. Congress will accomplish little or nothing.
G.W. Bush will accomplish even less than Congress.
Global greenhouse gas emission will increase, once again.
The Cubs will not win the World Series.

See how easy it is to spot the big stories?

The Saints will, however, win the Superbowl :-))

Best Hopes,


I'd like to take advantage of this "slow news day" by inviting people to make predictions here of what they think will happen in 2007 regarding energy issues. What will happen to prices? Production? Demand? How about the Peak Oil issue itself, will it gain traction and go mainstream, or be seen as a crackpot apocalypse?

I'll start by making some rather sedate predictions. 2007 will be a year of slow economic growth globally, and oil consumption (and production) will rise only slightly. Prices will remain in the $50-80 trading band they have been in for the past year or two. Global warming will continue to be a greater concern than Peak Oil, but mitigation strategies are not so different for the two, so Peak Oilers will increasingly choose to get on the climate change bandwagon rather than pushing the "end is near" agenda. More radically, I'll predict that TOD will reinvent itself as a Global Warming web site.

What are your thoughts and predictions? And best wishes for the new year to all!

Happy New Year Haflin:
I always like your posts, because they are invariably clearly written and highly cogent.

Two challenges to your list, and they are related:
1. Oil will break out of the $50-$50 trading band that it has been in for the last couple of years.
2. TOD will not morph into a Global Warming site.

Now, reasons for my predictions--first, I think volatility is likely to be a big story in 2007. Unlike you and some other forecasters, I do not think there is much spare capacity for oil production in the world. A global recession could put oil back at forty dollars, and any number of above ground problems could make the Goldman Sachs prediction of an oil spike of $105 correct, though somewhat premature.

I've collated a few forecasts from various agencies and analysts on today's Drumbeat in this comment.

If there's one underlying theme in those forecasts, it's that there's an acceptance that capacity will remain fairly tight over the next 2 or 3 years (and prices could easily spike due to above-ground factors), but the arrival of substantial new capacity around the start of the next decade will pull oil prices significantly lower.

Making predictions is always fatal, but my own view is that we'll all be sitting here a year from now none the wiser as to when Peak Oil will occur, or indeed whether it has already occurred (I don't believe it has).

I think that as time goes on, TOD members will become less pessimistic about the prospects of a world with non-increasing or diminishing oil supplies, as it becomes apparent that a very significant demand response is possible in the face of higher prices without economic collapse. Analysis by TOD contributors seems to support this. However, that might fly out the window if Jeffrey Brown (Westexas), Ron Patterson (Darwinian), and others are right about Saudi Arabia being in decline right now, with no prospect of various Saudi field developments arresting that decline.

The only thing I'm 100% sure of is that I'll be wrong about the above.

A Happy New Year to all.

However, that might fly out the window if Jeffrey Brown (Westexas), Ron Patterson (Darwinian), and others are right about Saudi Arabia being in decline right now, with no prospect of various Saudi field developments arresting that decline.

Again, note that the question has shifted--from will Saudi production decline to why is Saudi production declining.

OPEC sources put Saudi production in 12/06 at "somewhere below 9.0 mbpd." Assuming 8.9, Saudi (C+C) production is down 7% from 12/05 to 12/06, and I estimate that net exports are down about 13% over the same time frame.

The HL method shows Saudi Arabia to be 60% depleted at the end of 2006.

Number of large producing regions (60 Gb or more) showing sustained higher production past the 60% of Qt mark?

Insofar as I know, zero.

This is why I voted Richard Heinberg's (Ghawar is producing about three mbpd) story as the most significant of 2006.

But won't technology save us? Well, the very best state of the art technology, in the North Sea, has produced a post-50% of Qt decline rate that is about three times higher than the Lower 48 decline rate.

Unfortunately, let us not forget about the Iraq war. Iraq, as we all know, shares a border with Saudi Arabia. Iraq is a wild card, just as it has been for the last three years, that has not *truly* entered into play (w/r/t the spot prices). It is amusing how this is almost never mentioned in the media--the standard rule is to complain about *why* BushCo invaded, but not state the obvious. They lied, they lied! But who knows why! I find it amazing, that for some reason it is seen as unreasonable to state that the true reason we're there. They had to lie because people are to stupid to understand the real reasons even if they had it explained to them (trust me, I've tried--as I'm sure many of you have too....) Instead it is because of "freedom", "democracy", "terrorism" and stopping the "insurgents who supported the evil dictator Saddam Hussein". Bullshit. as arch-liberals love to say "Donald Rumsfeld shook hands with 'the evil dictator Saddam Hussein'" in the early 1980s during the tanker war (we had recently lost our puppet govt in Iran when the Islamic theocracy within that country was able to capitalize on angry sentiment towards to the western-backed Shah. The revolution at the end of the misery-index chart-poppin Carter Administration put the Reaganites in the position of having to support "evil dictator Saddam". I think is says something about American denial that the whole *public* conversation about Iraq is completely missing any mention of geopolitical energy strategic positioning. This is hysterical as the whole thing is so plainly about energy reserves and access to them. Saddam was essentially a secular, power hungry, pan-arab nationalist with a twist of nazism. We had no problem supporting him until his grubby power hungry hands went invaded Kuwait without approval of the Imperial masters. Of course, the only reasons anyone would want to invade kuwait is because of oil... And, umm, the only reason anyone would want to invade Iraq is... Of course, anyone with a functioning frontal lobe can lucidly see that the ex-oil executives running our country by proxy through actually existing oil company executives are no dolts when it comes to the vagaries of oil production.

Ditto your point about the "technology", which eventually only increases the rate of diminishing returns. Your ironic statement can actually be seen comparatively also in the way that "efficency" has *seemingly* improved in the last 30 years, when in fact taking into account increased automobile size, Jevons P. in electricity usage and the breakdown of our ability to continue increasing efficency at historical levels all spells difficulty (analogous to what is soon going to happen to microprocessors--when transistors can get any smaller...) People also forget that ever since much of our heavy manufacturing has been sent off into foreign markets, where labor arbitrage is is the rule of thumb--that now the energy that is used and consumed to make imported products is not counted in US energy consumption statistics. Anyway, sorry to ramble, just thought I'd state the obvious =]

The fact of the matter is that geology, as interesting as a discussion of it can be here at TOD, will probably not be what throws a wrench in the global economy. More likely, it will be geopolitical moves coupled with bands of groups that try to disrupt networks a la John Robb's global guerilla hypothesis. This is already happening at a non-lethal systems level, and could easily overflow outside of it's goblet, into a non-local and spreading phenomena.

Happy New Year and welcome to the last best year . Ever.


Forgive typos etc, I am just back from a New Years Colider and so even less than Compos Mentis than usual (so what's different?)

This mornings papers were full of the judicial execution of a tyrant.

Saddam Hussein Al Tikriti was surely one of the worst SOB's on the planet.

Why do I feel that we have not added any kind of value to the sum total of human happiness, knowledge and wisdom by killing him?

Sure, there are many lined up for revenge, and many have just cause.

Lets look at some ''Issues'':

1. SH Al T was an Ally of the USA. 1970 +
2. His ChemWeps came from The USA.(via Germany)
3. The USA was seriously happy with his war against the Iranian Mullahs.
4. SH Al T screwed up by attacking Q8.
5. Even the Q8 thing was forgivable a childrens tantrum over Directionally Drilled Wells, put right by Daddy USA.
6.But going for the Euro and reneging on the Dollar was beyond the pale.
7. Colin Powell was correct: Leave him in place. If he is not in place, civil war and all kinds of sh1t will happen.

So what happens?

SH is removed
Iraq falls into mayhem
A country is destroyed
An entire region is fundamentally less safe and secure. And potentially on the edge of WW III

It could be thus for a generation.

Well done!


This morning, you created another Martyr in an already fractured region.

The American Gov has now become so foockyng stupid that they insult the word stupid.

What a way to start a new year....

The SH lynching show was timed to coincide precisely with the time that USA passes through the 3 egg shells territory.

Yup folk.
3,000 American troops dead and hardly any notice given to that story.

Because explicit photos of the SH lynching dominate the MSM stream of consciousness.

You've been played yet again.
Did you notice?

Don't bahhh-there.
The Good Shepherd always leads his flock in the right direction, in the new way forward.

Think my conspiracy oriented ways are worthy of ridicule?

Well how about the New York Times? Are they also stupid for seeing that something was "rushed" in a highly unusual way?


Sorry folk for the morbid topic on this joyous passage into a "new" year with all "new" techniques for re-painting history.

This quote was too insightful to let pass by:

In this light, it seems that the initial coverage of Saddam's execution has served as a collective ritual hand-washing designed to reassure Americans that they really are the blameless leaders of a cosmic struggle against "evil." And so the answer to the existential question comes into view. Today's mainstream journalism, even "live" TV, is a far cry from the first draft of history. Instead, it functions largely as a transmission of selective history that has been drafted--and airbrushed, and sanitized, and rearranged, and distorted--long before it ever reaches our eyes and ears.

--from CNN and the New York Times Execute a Denial of History

Yes. For example, if the US with its ally Israel finally decided to bomb Iran (or more), which I consider highly unlikely, then not only will US soldiers in Iraq be sitting ducks with their supply lines cut but Iran would block the Straits, and so what happens to the Japanese economy? And what happens next? Hmm. Dominoes, anyone?

I predict numbers varying in a narrow range (easy), but several moves in the Great Game. Underground, and slow, or spectacluar. (duh!)

War (not to mention lack of clean water or food) is killing more people than the looming difficuluties we envision. How exactly they are related is a matter for speculation..

The lack of food and potable water is very closely related to the high cost of energy. The whole green revolution depends on cheap energy, and when fossil fuels become much more expensive there will be a major increase in death rates.

Malthus was right, though his timing may have been off.

"The lack of food and potable water is very closely related to the high cost of energy. "

How? Energy has been very cheap until very recently. Social disintegration in Africa existed long before today's high prices.

"The whole green revolution depends on cheap energy"

I had the impression that it was more closely related to improved strains of wheat, and so on, than increased fertilizer (which I assume is what you're referring to).

Much of the Green Revolution depends on irrigation water pumped by diesel-fueled pumps. As you indicated, cheap fertilizer depends on cheap energy. Beyond that, the production and distribution of hybrid seeds depends on cheap energy.

Potable water generally has to be pumped, either from wells or through pipelines.

Thus both potable water and cheap food depend on cheap energy, and I do believe the poorest countries (such as Zimbabwe) will be the hardest hit by Peak Oil.

I do not think that production & distribution of seed requires large energy inputs.

Seed farms can be located within ox cart distance of most farmers. And even heavy trucks can move the minimal weight of seed (it varies by crop) a hundred miles or so "affordably".

Best Hopes,


I believe that 2007 will be a transition year. In particular, 2007 will probably confirm a decline in Saudi Arabia production and a flattening of Russia's production. I predict that production for Crude oil + condensate will stay flat or start declining. Production numbers for all liquids in 2007 will be close to 2006 levels. Prices will stay in the $55-$75 range with possible super-spikes (or super-drops) depending on the occurence of significant weather or geopolitical events.

Well, do I need to go back to describing the conclusions in the following article as our conclusions and not "my" conclusions? No guts, no glory!

Of course, I am wrong most of the time in the exploration bidness.

In summary, based on the HL method and based on our historical models, we believe that Saudi Arabia and the world are now on the verge of irreversible declines in conventional oil production. While there will be massive efforts directed toward unconventional sources of oil, we predict that unconventional sources of oil will only serve to slow and not reverse the decline in total world oil production.

Unfortunately, data on SA is sketchy and incomplete so I think we need to be cautious before jumping to any premature conclusion. We need to observe lower production from Saudi Arabia along with rising demand for at least more than one year before confirming what the HL result is telling us.

I agree.

Also, I need to add this: Jeffrey (Westexas), you have no data for Ghawar, none at all. Neither do any of the rest of us. When we get that data -- and, I am working on it -- then I'll let you know.

I am getting a bit tired of speculation on this website. When we have the data, we'll know the truth. Using Hubbert Linearizations (not a physical model) as a substitute for the actual data in the KSA/Ghawar case only discredits the "peak oil" view, it does not support it. Many things come into play, eg. their willingness to produce more oil with respect to the price or the discount rate they use looking into the future. They can lie or not -- but we can not interpret what they say or do (or not say or do) in some way that is self-serving and merely convenient for our point our view. See what I mean?

I hope everybody who is contributing or commenting on this website understands what I just said.

I do understand what you said, Dave. But with all due respect, I think a moderate amount of speculation is appropriate on TOD.

With regard to Westexas, I have found his posts and comments driven by the data--not by speculation. Just as Simmons was cautious in "Twilight in the Desert," I find Westexas cautious in his statements. He focuses on numbers that can be verified and has never ever stated that Saudi Arabia has peaked. (He is skeptical that they have much excess capacity, and I think such skepticism is justified. Also he has suggested that maybe they have peaked but has always left himself plenty of wiggle room.)

If I were not so sober, I might say, "Let fornication thrive!" Uh, or did I mean "speculation"? Or "moderation"?

Happy New Year!

Re: With regard to Westexas, I have found his posts and comments driven by the data--not by speculation

Give me those Ghawar numbers, Don. I'm waiting.

Re: He focuses on numbers that can be verified and has never ever stated that Saudi Arabia has peaked

Nonsense. Jeffrey continually states that KSA is where Texas was when it peaked. I can't substantiate that claim based on data. That is an article of faith.

When we get past religion and get into data, we will be more credible to The Powers That Be as we address peak oil concerns now and in the future as we try to bring this message to a wider audience.

The hard data say that Saudi Arabia has cut both production and exports by significant amounts.

You can speculate that this is meaningless data.

IMO, Westexas has provided cogent logic to support his position that verified production and export amounts support his model.

Has he proven that Saudi has peaked? No: And he has EXPLICITLY stated that he does not know what is going on with Ghawar.

Your differences with Westexas are differences of data interpretation, and in my gut I suspect that Westexas is more likely to be correct than to be wrong. BTW I fully grant that you know a hundred times more about oil than I do. That is not the issue. When it comes to the interpretation of data, reasonable people can disagree agreeably. And for ability to evaluate quantitative data, I yield to nobody.

Re: cogent logic

Happy New Year, Don!

Read the rebuttal to CERA by yours truly. Keep it in mind. Doesn't mention Saudi Arabia except to say that we don't know the data.

Re: differences of data interpretation

Yes, he is interpreting the data of the last six months one way and I am saying we have no meaningful trend yet -- although I am unhappy with the way it is going -- this data trend may or may not mean anything. I know -- it is public knowledge -- that they are doing all sorts of field upgrades. Yet, Ghawar -- which has tallied 80% of their production -- remains beyond our reach.

Your claim that Jeffrey has not already made up his mind about all this is, simply, wrong. Read his comments for the last year in 2006. I have. Why would you bend over backwards to prop up a position unsupported by a significant data trend -- you are, after all, an economist!

What if Jeffrey (and others here) are wrong? Does that make us all wrong about "peak oil"? No, No, No! I will not have it come down to that, when the facts support the idea that it doesn't matter hardly at all what Saudi Arabia does.

I hope you'll bother to read this whole comment and think about it, too, before you reply.

I have read all of your comments with care and respect.

Ambiguity is something we have to learn to live with. As one who has sailed small boats in strong winds for more than forty years I have learned to interpret the data of weather forecasts; I bet my life and the lives of my crew on the correctness of these interpretations of quantitative data. Could Jeffrey be wrong? Of course he could. Could others who have called the peak in conventional oil in Dec. 2005 have been wrong? Of course that is possible.

I think I have read every post and comment that Westexas made during 2006. Both of us know very well where he stands. He has stuck his neck out. You suggest that he should not "speculate," presumably because a false call of Peak Oil has large costs. So far we are on the same wavelength.

Why should we not interpret data as best we can--granted the ambiguity, granted the fuzziness, granted the indisputable fact that legitimate interpretations can vary?

In the debate between Robert Rapier and Westexas I stood on the fence for a long time. Either position could be correct. The data can support either view. I think it is legitimate to present alternative interpretations of data. At the end, I'll admit is not reason but a gut feeling (reptile brain?) that causes me (with much trepidation) to side with Westexas.

I found the debate between Westexas and RR to be a highlight of 2006.

I do not believe that having several Peak Oil members calling for Peak "now" does some sort of irrepairable harm to society.

There is a diversity of opinion in the Peak Oil community. Some are calling Peak, some are saying "later". EVERYONE agrees that the data quality is VERY poor. How does that discredit the meme ?

I amd unsure of Peak Oil per se, but I have a decent (75% probability) guess that we are on a Peak Exports (net of oil used in production, which is growing) plateau. The "T1" first bite.

So a technically wrong call, is politically correct if it "feels" like Peak Oil (who in the US cares about fuel inside Saudi & Russia, all that matters is OUR oil imports adn domestic production. The same is true for every other oil importer. So Peak Exports = Peak Oil

I found the debate between Westexas and RR to be a highlight of 2006.

I do not believe that having several Peak Oil members calling for Peak "now" does some sort of irrepairable harm to society.

There is a diversity of opinion in the Peak Oil community. Some are calling Peak, some are saying "later". EVERYONE agrees that the data quality is VERY poor. How does that discredit the meme ?

I amd unsure of Peak Oil per se, but I have a decent (75% probability) guess that we are on a Peak Exports (net of oil used in production, which is growing) plateau. The "T1" first bite.

So a technically wrong call, is politically correct if it "feels" like Peak Oil (who in the US cares about fuel inside Saudi & Russia, all that matters is OUR oil imports adn domestic production. The same is true for every other oil importer. So Peak Exports = Peak Oil

T-Bone you are relentless! Not sure I agree with you but you have made it clear that you feel SA is declining, kudos! I find support for the clear importance of KSA in the bizarre propensity of GB to KA to KSA at any conceivable opportunity. I have found it astonishing in this era of the "war on terror".

As this is about important posts of 2006, I believe Stuart's post on energy efficiency some weeks back to be important. I stumbled online on the first chapter of a book "The Millionare Next Door", which I hope to pick-up this winter. The author notes, and I can't find the exact quote but to paraphrase, "There is no amount of income which you cannot outspend". This also applies to energy expenditures. The solutions exist now for Peak Oil. The likely greater problem is GW, and Peak Oil is the solution to GW. Interesting that this solution will require the world to act together on a common goal or things get very very bad.

Rather new to TOD and wish to thank all of those who have contributed (er intelligibly) to this unique endeavor. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

"When we get that data -- and, I am working on it -- then I'll let you know."

How on earth, Dave, are you going to get data on KSA and specifically Ghawar? Are you planning some clandestine operation? That is why we are forced to take guesses off of modeling. No one outside of KSA can get this data.

Hi all!

First post. I agree with Khebab that 2007 probably will be a transition year. From 2008 on we´ll see higher prices and even ethanol additions (!) can´t make up for the difference in supply and demand ;)

Happy New Year
and greetings from Stockholm

Other than re-inventing ourselves as a climate change site, I agree on all counts, Halfin. End is Near? No, it's a slow but steady unraveling of world economies, starting now or, at the latest, by 2010. When this current biofuels craze hits the inevitable wall (from corn, soybeans, palm, even sugar cane), it will all be over but the crying. Cellulosic ethanol? Dream on. Large new oil supplies? Ditto.

Happy New Year! -- to all

Yeah, I was being a little facetious about the reinvention :). But I do think we will see more merging of the two concepts.

BTW on ethanol, I haven't seen it mentioned here that the latest Scientific American really rakes ethanol over the coals. Unfortunately the article is not available online, but it could almost have been written by Robert Rapier. The author even complains that ethanol is presented as a "bridge to the future" but it is more like a "bridge to nowhere". SciAm is read by a lot of policy makers so this may have more influence than some online critiques.

Read the SciAm article. It was well done. Robert has been right about this biofuels stuff all along, that's his expertise. I was looking at some Amory Lovins nonsense during the holidays -- he's got cellulosic ethanol playing a big role in America's "energy independence". I've got a bridge in Brooklyn, maybe somebody wants to buy it?

Just because so-called "policy makers" read SciAm does not alter the fact of our "friends" in BigAg circling through revolving legislative doors, or for that matter flat out electing and writing legislation, or allocations otherwise known as "budgets".

I hope that SciAm is paid attention to, but I fear money is far more powerful than actual science--even if that is a cynical view to take, it is fairly evident when the Federal govt is at things it frequently misallocates and fucks shit up, especially with our present admin., this point is particularly stark. Ethanol will continue being subsidized under propaganda campaigns until things get so bad people realize they are being fleeced. The sheeple do not stop following until almost every single one has jumped over the ledge... Science doesn't change the fact that upwards of 50% of the Americal population believe that the earth is 6000 years old, or whatever those ignorant fools believe. Science won't change Forbes' mind that ethanol is the save all end all to what Fearless Leader Bush says is an "oil addiction".

To sum up, smart people already read SciAm and know that ethanol (corn based) is a hoax akin to ID. As for others, we all know science has a well known liberal bias... That is unless your scientist is a creationist. ghahah!

Time to go party some more... Have a happy new year TODians, and here's to another rabble-rousing TOD year of debate and flame wars!


Discussing ethanol on New Years Eve are we now?


I am in favor of the biological consumption of ethanol :-)

Best Hopes for continued ethanol production post-Peak Oil,


Cellulosic ethanol? Dream on.

There's a very good reason that "Sustainability" proposed putting cellulose through charcoal formation and using the CO2 in the off-gas to grow algae:  algae make fats and carbohydrates, not cellulose!  Getting rid of all the enzymes and C5 fermenters seemed like the path of least resistance.  If you can get useful energy through a simple, cheap process instead of a complex, costly one (especially if you can get more), that's the thing to do.

regarding TOD morphing into a global warming site, the answers to PO and GW are similar and lie in the demand side of the 6.5 billion residents of the planet. If ways can be found to be happier with less and have the cultural metric not be money, but something with a lower energy/carbon footprint, then the worst can be averted.

Its not enough to TELL people to use less/ change their consumption habits - they have to WANT to do it because it improves their own lives (inclusive fitness).

A neat trick. lets put our minds around it in 2007.

the answers to PO and GW are similar and lie in the demand side

Yes and No.

NO, see the Hirsch Reports. Tar Sands, Coal-to-Liquids, Oil Shale (powered by one 1,000 MW coal fired plant w/o sequestration per 100,000 b/day project, with a 4 year warm up till first oil production) and, in a token to the good side, better vehicle fuel economy.

No (lower case), Stuart's solution of better fuel economy coupled with rising Vehicles Mile Traveled.

Yes, my solutions (and others). Electrified Rail (Urban & freight), a change in Urban Form (reversing sprawl, decreasing VMT), replacing fossil fuels with wind turbines coupled with pumped storage and other renewables.

There is room for improved fuel economy (I am certainly NOT against that !), but that is a secondary issue that the market will largely dictate. I advocate a longer planning horizon and a multiple "silver BB" approach, with an emphasis on actions that reduce GW.

Best Hopes,



Regarding NO, please note that none of the supply-side measures you cite would even keep pace with a significant annual decrease in oil production (and if gas supplies collapse you can kiss tar sands goodbye until bitumen gasifiers are built and brought on line).

On the other hand, the US has immense room to improve fuel economy even before it gets to European or Japanese levels; we do not reach limits until well past there.  The demand side is where it's at.

With "maximum possible human effort" (such as US industrial production during WW II), the Hirsch report posits that the US can produce (& save via better vehicle fuel economy) 14 million b/day in 20 years (from memory), the amount of oil we use for transportation.

Synfuel production (oil shale, CTL) and enhanced oil recovery represented the bulk of that 14 million b/day.

So someone thinks we can "supply side" our way past Peak Oil. Boil the planet in the process.

Best Hopes for Sane Planning,


That's just one report.  Further, just because one report claims that supplies can be expanded fast enough to do the job doesn't mean that it's the easiest or cheapest scenario.  Consider Firefly Energy's twist on lead-acid batteries (far lighter, more powerful, faster-charging and longer-lasting than the status quo while remaining cheap and compatible), and the fact that PHEV's built around them would be far cheaper to run on IGCC-generated coal power than an ICE car running on CTL fuel.  Those batteries could be on the market very soon.

All it takes is one car manufacturer to build a PHEV and plugging in becomes the easy, cheap and green alternative to filling up for all short trips and the first parts of long ones.  Add $3/gallon gas, and the rush to electric is bound to be a stampede — perhaps fast enough to put the kibosh on CTL, as investors might see demand drying up before their plants could be built.

We can hope.

I wish they'd hurry up and bring those Firefly lead-acids to market. I have an electric car for local driving and it's running on GC2 (golf cart) lead-acid batteries. The Firefly batteries might double the range and I'd be using the car for all driving, not just local. EVs (Electric Vehicles) would break through to the mainstream with Firefly batteries IMO. The batteries look like they can supply large currents at greater efficiency and they last longer too. Bring 'em on. You'd sell millions.
I'm not hoping for more passenger miles travelled by car though. I approve of Alan Drake's plans for urban light rail and similar electrical infrastructure.


Sadly, it looks like the military has first call on Firefly's production. The military is becoming more and more energy sensitive, but they're not that focused on releasing their improvements to the general public (in part, I suppose, because that would include other countries).

Yes, that's what I thought!

I'd much rather they gave people a shot at making the world a better place and didn't just keep beautiful technologies for killing people. I know a lot of good tech originally comes from the military, but there's usually a pile of bodies first. Argh!


Alan, IIRC the Hirsch report really didn't make an effort to seriously analyze vehicle efficiency. For instance, it assumed a very long turnover rate, in part by ignoring the fact that newer vehicles get much more use than old ones.

The vehicle turnover rate will become less important as hybrids expand: hybrids can be field upgraded to plug-in's, and plug-in's can be upgraded to larger batteries.

The upgradable nature of hybrids is the reason I suspect the Bush administration was so eager to kill the PNGV; once those cars were out there, the public would know that freedom from petroleum was possible.  It would be impossible to kill that idea once it got hold, so the program had to be terminated ASAP.

Felix Kramer and company are doing a good job of proving the possibility, but they aren't big enough to get the mindshare the idea needs to take over in the short term.

Alan, wind turbines are not all they are cracked up to be. Their installation is dividing communities ( my own included ). This report published in Nov 06 is definitely worth reading.
Wind Energy: Fact or Fiction by JA Halkema

I have been lurking on TOD for some time and have been most impressed with the quality and depth of the posts.

Wind Turbines are all they are "cracked up to be". It is just a peculiar British (and uber-rich New Englander) thing to oppose wind turbines "because they disturb the landscape (or seascape)" (in England, often a landscape long ago scarred by coal mining) and prefer to burn more coal or imported natural gas instead.

I have read Country Guardian BS before. Selfish little buggers.

Best Hopes for the Environmentally Rational,


PS: Even Texans love wind turbines. The English (less so the Scots) are behind Texans in environmental responsibility :-P

*Especially* Texans love wind turbines.

Texans are very practical people, and they understand energy.

Well how about you actually read this report and refute it point by point.
You live in a nation with 5% of the world's population and which squanders 25 % of the world's fossil energy. Wind turbines will never be able to maintain your cornucopiuan lifestyle, you selfish little buggers.

Some background for you:

Vice President of Country Guardian : Sir Bernard Ingham

- former advisor to nuclear power industry
- director of Supporters of Nuclear Energy (SONE)
- global warming skeptic

Famous quotes : 'wind will never compete with nuclear'.

Thanks, Nate,

"lets put our minds around it in 2007."
I'd like to talk more about this, too.
Happy New Year to all.

A large Belarusian industrial concern that includes chemical plants, Belneftekhim, has suspended its 2007 contracts to buy oil from Russian companies and will seek alternative suppliers because the customs duties will make purchases from Russia too costly, its director Alexander Borovsky said.

Where are they going to get it?

While I've had the good fortune to have a guest post on TOD:Canada I still consider myself very much only a speculator and gatherer of information on TOD.

And to that end I hope for this for TOD in 2007.

I think 2007 will represent the Awakening of governments and political parties that the Environment and "Sustainability" is a hot button issue, and will continue to be so for the longterm as the science and consequences of Global Climate Change become a reality to the general Population.

I think it would be a mistake for TOD to lose it's focus to hitch a ride on the GW bandwagon. If we are to harness that energy, pun intended, we should continue to vigorously pursue hard data foretelling or proving peak-energy, and make very clearly the fact that Hyper-Industrialization, Globalization, Climate Change, and Peak Energy are very much intertwined and only a combined approach that addresses all of these aspects will bring our human economies back into a better balance with what the Earth can provide us.

A very Happy New Year to all. And thank you. Truly, for the information here. The data makes my headspin sometimes... but as the Climate Change issue has proven... the only way to convince the regular-joe is to simply beat them over the head with the facts... and the CONSEQUENCES... until finally.... finally.... people start to care.

THE PREDICTION GAME...o.k., I'll play...:-)

Well, once again we have seen the sad refraim, "speculation is useless, we do not have any good source for real verifiable data!"

Since that has been my mantra to the point of repeativeness over the last half year plus, I sure can't argue there...but, I'll play the prediction game, for no other reason than it's fun, with the following disclaimer: If you bet your savings on the following, your out of your freakin' goard! :-) But still, I want to touch on some things not yet mentioned to any real degree in the predictions I have seen here on TOD and elsewhere:

1. The United Kingdom becomes the "canary in the mine" and sets off alarm in the Developed nations concerning energy. The U.K. can act as a sort of a "mini-me" for a fair number of nations, including the U.S., and the energy situation there is getting dire. With aging nuclear plants, declining home production of natural gas and oil, and no real leeway to reduce consumption without real sacrifice, many are beginning to notice that the energy projections made by the "experts" only a couple of years ago are rapidly being shown to be completely useless. Add to this the U.K.'s greenhouse gas reduction commitments, which cannot possibly be honored, but which the Green parties still feel are absolute, and the U.K. is one of the first nations to find itself facing the new paradigm of energy limits, and the need for radical reduction in fossil fuel need, as opposed to taking baby steps.

2. Mexico: Time of truth must be coming fast. We have been told again and again that Mexican, in particular, production from the giant field Cantarell are in collapse. If this is so, then it MUST become absolutely obvious in the next year. Mexico is central to U.S. imports as we all know, and it may well be that Mexican decline causes more concern, and sooner, than the possibility of Saudi decline. Watch Mexico in particular and Latin America in general. The region may turn out to be crucial in determining whether non-OPEC production has a hope of filling in for a possible decline in OPEC production.

3. Canadian natural gas: There is still a lot of gas there. The lead time required for production increase is now used up, if we count from the beginning of the natural gas price run up. Canadian tar sands are beginning to get to the end of the "stranded gas" which has help subsidize that industry. Prices are becoming a huge liability for both Canadian and U.S. business and manufacturing. There should be some BIG development deals in Canada SOON, and we should see a slowing in the decline of Canadian natural gas production, based on deals done 4 or so years ago. If not, we are on the edge of a natural gas problem of great magnitude, one that most Americans do not even seem to see coming.

4. The possibility that the U.S. economy and fossil fuel demand will be surprisingly strong. The U.S. economy is much stronger than many give it credit for, and a factor not often discussed on TOD is soon to have an effect on the economy not planned for by many: The retirement of pre 9/11 legacy debt.

This is important because much of the consumer debt created before 9/11/01 was at VERY high interest rates, compared to the post 9/11 period. The freeing up of cash by way of debt paydown of this high interest debt could be an accelerator to U.S. domestic economic growth. This will push U.S. petroleum demand higher than expected, testing the limits of our ability to produce/import, and testing to the limits the supply/demand situation.

5. China slowdown: Surprising many, China will slowdown, and perhaps to such an extent that it creates an investor crisis. China has overgrown it's resource base, it's labor base, and it's customer base. It has become a speculative bubble, competing in some very low margin industries, and there has been a great deal of "paper inflation" there, in real estate and over capacity of production facilities, but many of those of inferior quality. Do NOT think that China is immune to the type of "Asian flu" that has in recent years swept through several Pacific rim countries. India and other Asian economies are providing stiff competition to the Chinese. They will have to learn to get lean, something they have not been to this point. The energy waste in China has historically been horrendous. This must change.

6. Spread of the Sunni/Shi'ite conflict into moderate allies of the U.S. in the Persian Gulf. This will be important in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the U.A.E (United Arab Emirites and of great importance, even in Qatar, the base of CentCom (U.S. Central Command, the U.S. military base of the Iraqi occupation). Qatar will soon become pivotal to U.S. success in the Persian Gulf, and it's importance as a MAJOR natural gas provider to the U.S. and to the world will increase as natural gas becomes of great concern to many nations. Watch Qatar. It is becoming a matter of public knowledge now that wealthy Sunni's in all the above Persian Gulf nations are pouring assistance to the Sunni's in Iraq, and thereby undermining the American approved, but mostly Shi'ite goverment. This is becoming a regional "proxy war" whether the U.S. admits it or not.

7. SHOCKER, PART A: Global Oil and Gas Study
Unlike many here, I have some measure of respect for the competence and honesty of the National Petroleum Council. While they have been wrong in the past, they have been willing to amend their reporting with newer results, and admit their errors, and issue substantial corrections to prior forecasts. I take them far more seriously than I take, for example, the Department of Energy's EIA (Energy Information Agency) CERA, or IEA (International Energy Administration).

I may look like a fool on this one, but here goes: I think the first draft outline of the NPC's upcoming report on Global Oil and Gas will shock many in it's direct warnings about petroleum issues, and fire a "reality" shot across the bow of all industrialized nations, but most directly, the U.S., concerning supply/demand problems coming in crude oil, and in particular in natural gas. The easy points to make will be as follows: collapse of North Sea production, Mexican issues, declines in Canada, and "energy nationalism" in both natural gas and oil creating an export crisis often discussed here at TOD. The outline of the report will be due sometime in the second half of 2007, with supporting documentation to follow. It is the last chance for the powers that be to either admit there is a real problem brewing, or, if they take the path of the DOE's EIA Outlook, completely dismiss the whole issue and end large scale support for energy change for a quarter century. We'll see, but I think the call for the report shows the lack of trust now placed in the EIA's rosy projections. The NPC will have to again amend it's prior projections concerning natural gas (already amended in a MAJOR way in 2003) to a less optimistic one than before, and they were already calling for natural gas supply/demand problems in 2003. My bet is they may, that is, MAY, make the same sort of shocking correction to prior crude oil forecasts.

8. SHOCKER, PART B: Saudi Arabia surprises to the upside: I have had a deep, deep suspicion of the idea that the Saudi's are either incompetent, or are complete liars. I think they have, and will, stretch the truth, or "omit" certain supporting data. I think they have been in error on several occasions.
BUT, I think that Saudi Arabia can surprise to the upside on oil production if they decide to do so. I accept Westexas as correct in his belief concerning the point that Saudi Arabia is at in it's known URR remaining, and his idea of a near 60% depleted rate, but ONLY regarding the oil that is being correctly counted as part of the Saudi URR. I am certain that large tracts of oil in Saudi hands, including oil in the so called "empty quarter", priorly drilled and then "laid aside fields" (usually due to economic expense of piping water to, and oil from these fields, and expensive water/oil handling issues), and Saudi offshore oil has not been, repeat, HAS NOT BEEN correctly counted in many dire projections. There is the real possibility that there is a great deal more oil there than some people think there is.

Frankly, I think that the "peak oil" central thesis that the low hanging fruit was developed first is EXACTLY correct in the case of Saudi Arabia (as it was in the U.S., North Sea, etc,) and that much higher hanging fruit remains. The Saudi's "higher fruit" however, is still some of the juiciest development opportunity in the world when compared to deep offshore, arctic oil, hurrican patch offshore, and OCS (Outer Continental Shelf) oil. In other words, drilling in priorly undeveloped "empty quarter" Saudi Arabia, and in the sheltered warm waters of the Persian Gulf shallow offshore will be a paradise compared to anywhere else. Saudi power in the world shows signs of going up before it goes down, if it can keep the ethnic civil war under control, as mentioned above, and this will soon be a CRUCIAL foreign policy issue to the U.S. and other developed countries. Again, I may look like a fool on this one, but I am betting that the Saudi's still have an ace or two up those long sleeves! We'll see.

So there we go, free predictions, from one who does not place much faith in predictions.....but, I think these predictions are easily worth exactly what you, my TOD mentors and friends, paid for them! :-)

HAPPY 2007, It's sure to be interesting, to say the least! :-)

Roger Conner known to you as ThatsItImout

Roger, I certainly accept the peak oil concept and also agree that some of that high hanging fruit is still to be picked. Canargo Energy - CNR on Amex could well in the next few days announce a major discovery at Manavi in Georgia, FSU.
All the best everyone for 07.

i hope you are right about cnr but i sort of lost enthusiasm for cnr when they announced they were spinning off their kazak assets


Can you give a link for your number 4?

One way PO can come via the back door is global recession causing demand destruction, and when it recovers, we never get back to previous levels due to supply constraints.

goinggreen, reply to point 4 as you requested, sorry about it not being a bit shorter, but it is from some work I have been doing for some others, and I didn't want to try to edit down....
The picture we normally get is that household borrowing has went no where but up recently. This is born out by the statistics. However, the perception many get is that before the recent run up, credit market borrowing as a percent of disposable income was low, and marched upward in a steady progression. Nothing could be further from the truth.
To give a picture of the volatile history of credit market borrowing, and to show the most recent trend, which is very interesting as it bodes for the future, I have enclosed a very useful link. This link is informative for the charts if nothing else, even if you do not concur with Mr. Paul Kasriel’s outlook.

Link 1

Below is a link showing the decline in personal savings rate:
Link 2
Persona savings rate

Tables showing the history of consumer and auto loan credit, including interest rate information:
Link 3, Link 4

Now, these are very macroeconomic statistics, so needless to say, rather small changes can be billions of dollars in change in the economy.

Link 1, by Kasriel, Listed in the link as chart 2: It is interesting to look back at some milestones, for example the first time credit marketing borrowing exceed 7.5% as a percent of disposable income (around 1957, and then not again until 1973) exceeded 10% of disposable income (1978. not matched again until 1983 and then not matched again until 2001 {!!) and then the first time over 12.5% recently, in about 2002-03 (!}) Does this seem interesting, that as interest rates declined, or more accurately collapsed for a time after 9/11, credit market borrowing shot through the roof? The other links give a longer view of interest rates, and show that even with the recent rate increases, we are still at historically low interest rates as a nation.

But the interesting part is the most recent trends shown in Chart 2,3,4 show a MAJOR drop in consumer borrowing since the post 9/11 run up. This is seen as indicative of an upcoming recession, as showin in the grey strips on chart 2, as historically, when borrowing drops, the economy slows. But look just how much the borrowing has decreased! A fantastic number, and here’s the interesting part: historically, after the recession post such a drop, the economy bounces back roughly comparable to the drop in borrowing experienced previously. If this pattern holds, we would see a rather stiff downturn, followed by a very nice upturn (it’s the old “pull in the horns” and then return to purchasing as the household begins the “replacement cycle for cars, appliences etc.) In other words, upward movement in borrowing is NOT a one way ride (or at least, it never has been).

But, we are in interesting times: What was all this money borrowed for? Well, of course, we know....look at chart 8. This is mortgage debt and mortgage equity withdrawal. But is this, in the larger picture, such a bad thing? With the purchase or building of a house, comes the purchase of new appliences, furniture, lawn care equipment, etc. But, once these items are purchased, there is a window of time in which replacements will not be needed. Due to the housing boom, it is safe to assume (I have seen stats, but don’t have them handy) that the average age of household goods owned by Americans at this time is about as new as they have ever been. This means that discretionary spending can be just that, at the discretion of the consumer (luxury goods, dining out, travel, vacations, clothing) and can be spending borrowing can be moved about quite quickly. As Kasriel points out, the most illiquid of assets is a home, as it is not easily sold, and most folks do not want to sell and move frequently. Barring a major catastrophe (and energy is the one we most concern ourselves with here at TOD) these neighborhoods should prove to be surprisingly stable, and the recent wave of spending should ease up.
This will surely be recessionary to some extent, but we must consider that more of the consumer debt is at average lower interest, and there is still some room for an increase in consumer saving due to the retirement of older debt. We are just past the 5 year mark since 9/11. Most of even the longer term consumer debt would have been no longer that that, as even car loans do not like to go over 5 to 6 years. This would have been for items that could not easily been refinanced, (as homes can be) because they depreciate faster than the debt can be paid (cars, boats, jet ski’s, furnishing and electronics, etc.) so the consumer was, for about 5 years, married to this debt. We are just now entering the real “post 9/11 period”, and the recent drop in consumer borrowing is indicative of (a) the normal cycle, “pulling in the horns”, and the fact that if people have freed up money, they do not need to borrow. But, they will still want to live well. I still think that that the U.S. economy, in the larger sense, is very stable, at least as much so as any other world economy. The energy problem is real. Energy costs may go up substantially. But if that occurs, it will be at least as painful to the Europeans and Asians as to us.

One more thing: I have not even touched on the recent recovery of the equity markets. This is another source of income to those boomers at or near retirement, which cannot be easily dismissed. Five years of growth in investment capital was lost, but they still have the prior years capital from the greatest bull market in history, and most companies, on a P/E basis are not badly valued when compared to the idiocy of the “tech market” days of the late 1990’s. All in all, most households are in about as good shape as they have been historically. Only one area is really troublesome: The savings rate. The Americans have never been great savers, and we are even worse at it today. If anything would assure the American stability, it would be an increase in savings rate, and I have long felt that it should be invested in our own nations debt, if we are truly patriotic about our current “go it alone” war effort. TIPS, or inflation protected bonds would not be a bad investment for many of America’s middle class. But, they are boring, and as I said, the Americans have never been great savers.

Roger Conner known to you as ThatsItImout

Thanks for your long post. It has made me think hard, which is always good, and I think I understand what you are saying.

I think I'd agree with you if the post-9/11 debt was (1) of comparable magnitude to pre-9/11 debt, and (2) was primarily fixed-rate. Then, clearly the lower rate would have advantageous effect. It looks to me that instead, the lower interest rates have compelled people to borrow more and have put themselves at risk via variable loan rates. With debt to asset ratios at all time highs, the graphs seem to me to be displaying exhaustion more than anything else.

However, I'm out of my realm here, so I can't come back with solid numbers.

Roger, could you give more info on the idea that Iraq is becoming a proxy war?

Chinese (& some Soviet, IIRC) support of North Vietnam was crucial to the American failure there. I don't think Rumsfeld et al expected a proxy war. If that's truly happening that would explain a large part of the failure of the current american adventure.

Could you give some more info, or links?

Nick, you asked,
Roger, could you give more info on the idea that Iraq is becoming a proxy war?

I want to stress, giving your remarks just past that question, that when I say a "proxy war" I do not intend to mean the other major powers, such as China or Russia. They may indeed be pulling strings, but I have no evidence of that, and am much more concerned about the regional "proxy war" between Sunni nations (allies of ours, supposedly, and major oil producers) and Iranian Shiite backed groups ( and the loyalties of Shiite minorities throughout the region: Read on:

A very interesting article:

The two sides:
“Just a few months ago it was unthinkable that President Bush would prematurely withdraw a significant number of American troops from Iraq. But it seems possible today, and therefore the Saudi leadership is preparing to substantially revise its Iraq policy. Options now include providing Sunni military leaders (primarily ex-Baathist members of the former Iraqi officer corps, who make up the backbone of the insurgency) with the same types of assistance -- funding, arms and logistical support -- that Iran has been giving to Shiite armed groups for years.”

“What's clear is that the Iraqi government won't be able to protect the Sunnis from Iranian-backed militias if American troops leave. Its army and police cannot be relied on to do so, as tens of thousands of Shiite militiamen have infiltrated their ranks. Worse, Iraq's prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, cannot do anything about this, because he depends on the backing of two major leaders of Shiite forces.”

The closing line:
“To be sure, Saudi engagement in Iraq carries great risks -- it could spark a regional war. So be it: The consequences of inaction are far worse.”

The private Saudi money flow is already there:
And apparently, Saudi fighters are already there:
“Last month, The Associated Press reported that Saudi Interior Minister Prince Naif said Iraq had become a threat to the entire region, and that it was the main base for terrorism.

The minister also said Saudi youth were being lured to fight in Iraq. US and Iraqi officials have long complained about Saudi extremists crossing into Iraq to join the battle against American and coalition forces. US officials announced last April that Saudis were one of the top five nationalities among foreign fighters captured by coalition forces in Iraq.
{makes you wonder who the other “five nationalities among foreign fighters” are, don’t it?”
One more:
“Iraqi Officials, U.S. Panel Says Saudis Sending 'Boxes Of Cash' To Sunni Militants”

Saudia vs. Iran proxy influence in Lebanon:,,1964092,00.html

How concerned is Saudia Arabia about Shiite terror and cross border incursion? How about a Pat Buchanan style fence?
“The Saudis are especially sensitive to the possibility of unrest among the country's Shiite minority because it is centered in the oil-producing east of the country.”
“25% of Kuwaiti’s are Shiite”
“Seventy-five percent of the population of the Persian Gulf - concentrated in the eastern borders of Saudi Arabia and the emirates - is Shi'ite, overwhelmingly members of a rural or urban proletariat. Hasa, in Saudi Arabia, stretching from the Kuwaiti border to the Qatar border, has been populated by Shi'ites since the 10th century. That's where the oil is. Seventy percent of the workforce in the oilfields is Shi'ite. The potential for them to be integrated in a Shi'ite crescent is certainly there.
“And then there's Bahrain. Sixty-five percent of Bahrain is Shi'ite.”
“There are only 6% of Shi'ites in the wealthy United Arab Emirates. But they can compound a problem as acute as in Kuwait or Qatar because of the enormous trade and business Iranian influence in Dubai. “
“Azerbaijan - where 75% of the population is Shi'ite”

Of great interest to America must be the loyalty of the Shiites of Qatar:
“Shiites are estimated to make up five to 10 percent of Qatar's 225,000 citizens and an unknown percentage of the 640,000 foreign residents in the country. They organize traditional Shiite ceremonies and perform rites such as self-flagellation in their own mosques. They are permitted to build and decorate Shiite mosques without restrictions.

Shiites are also well represented in the bureaucracy and business community, according to the report.”

The stability of Qatar, and it's "insulation" from terrorism and social unrest is ABSOLUTELY crucial to the United States. Few in the U.S. seem to realize the importance of that tiny nation. It is the most staunch Arab nation in it's support of U.S. policy, the headquarter nation for CentCom, the military base for our operations in Iraq and throughout the Persian Gulf, and the has the worlds third largest reserves of natural gas. This is BIG. The U.S. is counting on Qatar for LNG and GTL fuels very soon, and major American firms have billions invested there (in the recent Exxon update showing that they in fact increased their reserve to production balance, every bit of the increase was reclassified Qatari natural gas). A 10% Shiite minority could do great damage to the U.S. and Qatar if they proved to be loyal to Iranian influences. And in a major war, Qatar and the CentCom operation based there would surely be first targets.

The proxy fight that is brewing is a proxy war for power between what was once called the "two pillars" of power in the Persian Gulf, Sunni Saudia Arabia and Shiite Iran, and it is already well underway. If the Americans show weakness and an unwillingness to stand up with it's Sunni allies, fear will spread rapidly throughout the Persian Gulf nations that they must face the Shiites alone. Most of the rich and powerful Sunni royals would look at the options, look at their odds, pack the 747's with jewels and money and be out of that bloodbath, leaving their people to fend for themselves. There is a real possibility of a complete meltdown, and the Saudi's saw it coming when we invaded.

I don't know how else to put this: The role of the West in the Middle East is on the chopping block here, and the U.S. is about where Britian was just before the blitz.....we are really in some jeopardy of a major catastrophic defeat if we misplay this one. The Democrats coming into power are facing a challenge about as great as they did when FDR came to power.

Roger Conner known to you as ThatsItImout

Most of the rich and powerful Sunni royals would look at the options, look at their odds, pack the 747's with jewels and money and be out of that bloodbath, leaving their people to fend for themselves. There is a real possibility of a complete meltdown, and the Saudi's saw it coming when we invaded.

Is this just an "opinion" of yours or do you have REASONS to say this?

Because, why assuming that the Sunnis are poorer fighters than the Shiites?
Both are certainly much more "cost effective" than the disillusioned americans GIs and they are each fighting for their OWN interests not for some murky indiscernible "Grand Plan" of the depraved/idiotic neo-cons.

The "rich and powerful Sunni royals" probably know that and they might make another appraisal about their best chances of survival than the one you make.

Battling Sunnis v/s Shiites on the spot of the largest oil reserves on the planet, it looks like it will be a sure "logistic peak", ain't it?

"Is this just an "opinion" of yours or do you have REASONS to say this?"

Well, you have a point, Kevembuangga, there is some opinion mixed with my recollection of history....I think back to the Shah of Iran...the petty dictators and generals of Vietnam, any number of former American allied Latin American dictators....

And then I look at ole' Prince Bandar's palace fortress in the Colorado Rockies....and ask myself, "if I had been a formerly Western allied sheik or prince, Westernized in my tastes in wine, food and women, lover of HUMMER and Land Rover style trucks, with enough money to buy, oh, some odd thousand acres of American, Canadian, or Australian real estate, or perhaps a nice cliff side home in Malta or on an island off the coast of Italy or France, or maybe even the whole little island, what choice would I make?

You may have hit the nail on the head about that "logistical peak" though....prices could be driven so high that the Western technical nations would be forced to alternatives without ever finding out whether the geological peak was near or far away.....

Roger Conner known to you as ThatsItImout

"There is a real possibility of a complete meltdown, and the Saudi's saw it coming when we invaded. "

But...I thought protecting KSA was the main reason for the Iraq war. That's the only rational, halfway ethical reason I can see. Were the reasons of our government completely irrational and venal (e.g. getting the major oil companies back in the Iraq game)?

Most of what you write here is prospective. In your judgement, how much has the success to date of the insurgency been related to outside support, like from elements of KSA?

Given the usual topics on TOD, the fact that the top story was Hanson’s comments on the genetic basis of human attitudes towards sustainability is quite remarkable. I had never heard of Jay Hanson before, nevertheless his comments are close to the views I developed while trying to understand the publics resistance to acceptance of global warming. While it is difficult to be optimistic that behaviors can be altered enough to avoid catastrophe, recognition and understanding of the roadblocks to such changes seems central to overcoming the intrinsic resistance of normal humans and their political institutions. I share Hanson’s belief that this is the key issue. While recognizing the risk that such a discussion could tend toward the political, it seems to me an essential part of the peak oil debate that should probably be addressed more often on TOD. I did not see the follow-up posting Mr. Hagen’s suggested might be forthcoming. Alternatively, is there another venue that could be used as a source to bring these issues here.

FYI: My bias is from a background in biochemistry and genetics.

As I reread most of the Top 50 stories for 2006, I wondered what caused a particular post to get a lot of comments. As has been mentioned, excellent technical posts by the like of Dave Cohen and Khebab get relatively few responses, and that has nothing to do with the quality of the post. Dear Professor Goose, your posts are disproportionately represented--doubtless because they are excellent but also because you pick topics of general sociological or economic or psychological interest--topics where we feel we can all weigh in. I looked for a seasonal factor but found none: Day of the week does make a big difference, however. Now, here comes the surprise:
IMO QUALITY of comments was strongly and positively associated with quantity of comments. In other words, good comments generated more good comments in response--kind of a virtuous circle.

On some posts there have been nasty empty petty personalized comments, and these kinds of comments seem to turn people off.

From all this I conclude that we should all strive to make good comments--and make major efforts to refrain from the other kind. (That is another New Year's resolution of mine--Do Not Make Comments of little or no value.)

Good thoughts.

I think we should all keep in mind that just because a post, or a comment, doesn't attract comments doesn't mean that it didn't get read. As you note, it may just indicate agreement, or a relative lack of expertise on the subject by readers.

These comments get read, and provide useful education for people. Some people even make life decisions based on the info presented here. We should try very hard to make it high quality.

my pleasure, prof goose

and thanks to all 2006 contributors for sharing their analysis & views on peak oil and other subjects. TOD continues to be a wonderful education

I certainly agree with the quote on your website!