DrumBeat: March 2, 2007

Rise of National Oil Companies Crimping Long-Term Crude Supply

The rising dominance of national oil companies has relegated the Western oil majors to "second-tier status" and could have a "substantial long-term impact on resource development," according to a report to be released Thursday by researchers at Rice University.

The report, which notes national oil companies, or NOCs, now control more than 75% of global proved oil reserves, offers broad policy guidance to U.S. officials on navigating a global oil patch increasingly controlled by companies that view their socio-economic mission as equal to, or more important, than their commercial success. It will be released Thursday at a conference hosted by the James A. Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice.

Although the report doesn't explicitly discuss prices, the rise of NOCs has been a "huge factor" in the price run-up of recent years, said Amy Myers Jaffe, a Rice fellow in energy studies who helped prepare the study. If leading NOCs don't adopt more commercially oriented measures, then "the path for prices is up," Jaffe added.

Iran considers petrol rationing as UN sanctions loom

Iran, OPEC's second largest oil producer, is expected to start rationing petrol within the next month. The move would come as the international community is discussing what further sanctions to place on Iran for continuing to enrich uranium. The Iranian Parliament has just approved a petrol rationing bill. Although heavily subsidised, like many other basic goods in Iran, much of it has to be imported at market price because the country has a shortage of refineries.

New Stirrings & Targets for Activism

Times have changed dramatically and permanently. As we heard yesterday, the best science now tells us that we have only ten years left to peak global emissions if we’re going to stay below 2 degrees C. Ten years. Campaigners working on energy are at a moment where we face a fork in the road. Although the need for upstream campaigns has never been more pressing, the powerful levers for action are newly downstream related to public concern over energy security and global warming.

Albania to establish an energy park near a coastal city

Albania has been energy hungry since 1990, and it experienced an energy crisis from the end of last year to the beginning of this year when lack of rain and decreased import of electricity from neighboring countries plunged the hydro-power dependent country into darkness, with power cuts across the country ranging from 5 hours to 14 hours a day.

Uranium relights South African mining industry

WHEN Neal Froneman first said he wanted to mine uranium, many thought he was clutching at straws. “One radio presenter laughed me out of his studio,” said Froneman whose sxr Uranium One (Uranium One) last month announced an imposing R22bn ($3.1bn) merger with Canadian firm, UrAsia Energy.

Bulgaria’s Kozloduy Among Most Dangerous Power Plants in Europe - German Media

Bulgaria’s Kozloduy nuclear power plant (NPP) has been among the most dangerous ones in Europe for ages.

Failures often occurred in its reactors and Bulgaria and foreign ecologists used to call for the plant’s closure, German newspaper Handelsblatt said.

South Africa: The Political Economy of Power

For too long the issue of energy has been set aside, treated as if it had no influence on how South African society is shaped. And there has been a somewhat valid stereotype that within civil society, energy has been the domain of white environmentalists - aging hippies in sandals going shoo-wah over the teachings of the Dalai Lama and speaking about how we all must conserve electricity, how we all must make sacrifices, whilst black children die in shack fires caused from having to use a paraffin stove because the household electricity lifeline was used up weeks before.

Attack of the cereal killers

The rising price of wheat - driven by speculative interest in biofuels - will do nothing to help farmers or the environment.

U.K. - Faulty fuel: mystery deepens

The problem emerged this week as large numbers of drivers across the east of England reported the same fault, all thought to be caused by fuel containing excess amounts of ethanol. Symptoms appear to be juddering and misfiring vehicles and a loss of power, possibly caused by engines switching to emergency settings after an exhaust sensor is damaged.

Mechanics in Norfolk have now reported several hundred cases but can do little to repair the vehicles because demand for the crucial part - a sensor used to regulate emissions - has led to a national shortage.

Canada: Fuel shortage hits truckers

Two major fuel suppliers are sounding the alarm for Ontario's trucking industry amid "critical" shortages of diesel fuel in the province.

The fuel shortage, which has seen motorists inconvenienced for more than a week as gas pumps intermittently run dry, has forced Ultramar to suspend diesel deliveries to four Toronto-area service centres and three other Ontario cities – Hamilton, Cambridge and London.

Gas-burning drivers urged to rethink how they get around

The fuel shortage gripping Toronto has environmental and oil industry experts grumbling about the relationship Torontonians have with gas.

Motorists take gas for granted, said Michael Ervin, president of MJ Ervin & Associates, a Calgary-based petroleum and refining consultant firm. Drivers are showing no signs of curbing consumption, he said.

BP, Gazprom Discuss Intl LNG Joint Venture

Top executives of U.K. oil major BP PLC and Russian gas monopoly OAO Gazprom met Thursday to discuss the creation of a joint venture, Gazprom said, against the backdrop of heightened tensions between the two companies over BP's future in Russia.

China's Oil Dilemma

Tensions in the Middle East are about to reach a boiling point. Where will the oil importing countries of the world turn when the balloon goes up?

John Michael Greer: The failure of reason

There has never been a shortage of good ideas for dealing with peak oil or, for that matter, any other aspect of the predicament of industrial society. What has been lacking consistently is the collective will to put any of those ideas into practice.

U.S. ‘stuck in reverse’ on fuel economy

While Congress and the Bush administration debate how to improve fuel economy in automobiles, a new study says the United States is “stuck in reverse” when it comes to offering consumers a wide selection of fuel-efficient vehicles.

Pickups, SUVs boost GM’s February sales

Gazprom to Take Majority Stake in Sakhalin Energy

In pursuance with the terms set in the Protocol, Gazprom will purchase 50 percent plus one share in Sakhalin Energy for US$7.45 billion. Each of the existing Sakhalin Energy shareholders will decrease its stake by 50 percent at the proportional payment distribution aimed at making the deal.

An Interview with Tony Juniper, part 2.

I think there will be a transition, and I think it is pretty impossible for us to have an orderly withdrawl from the Carbon Age that happens very quickly, we can’t do it. Our infrastructure, our transportation systems, our fuel mix, our agriculture crucially, everything, is geared up to being heavily dependent on fossil fuels. It will take a while to get out of it, but the quicker we start it the sooner we’ll do it, but also the more orderly the transition will be. This mixing up of decarbonisation with a shock built around the rapidly rising price of oil will be harder to cope with. If we start now and begin to decarbonise, with all the technological things we already have, from the bicycle to concentrating solar power, all that stuff already exists, we need to get it moving and get it into the market fast, so we can start the process while we still have the economic stability and the money and the social comfort to do this without even noticing it.

Enriched Uranium Unearthed From German Man's Garden

A German man obtained enriched uranium and buried it in his garden, raising concerns about the security of Germany's nuclear reactors, the environment ministry in the state of Lower Saxony said on Thursday.

"How do pellets get out of a nuclear reactor? That's not supposed to happen," said ministry spokeswoman Jutte Kremer-Heye.

Britain gets nuclear waste warning from energy chiefs

Britain must not go ahead with a new generation of nuclear power stations until it has a "clear and robust" plan in place for dealing with the twin problems of decommissioning and waste treatment, the world's leading energy body warned yesterday.

The International Energy Agency also said that any new nuclear programme must be funded entirely from the private sector, without any government subsidy or market intervention.

East Africa: Going Nuclear in East Africa

A carefully located nuclear power station spinning three turbines can efficiently generate 1,500MW enough to supply the regional base load for decades.

South Africa is looking to the development of hydrogen power as a way to solve its increasing energy crisis

Biofuel industry speeds up enzyme demand

As a result of the booming biofuel industry, the US enzyme demand, which amounted to $1.6 billion in 2005, is expected to reach $2.2 billion by 2010, according to a recent market study by the Freedonia Group.

Coal in cars: great fuel or climate foe?

A key problem is that liquid from coal emits twice as much carbon as gasoline. Still, Washington likes the idea.

When it comes to power, don't check into the Hotel California

As part of a proposed $45 billion buyout of TXU, the prospective new owners have reached an agreement with environmental groups not to construct eight of the 11 coal-fired generating units that the Dallas-based utility was planning to build.

That could be good for the environment. But what about the pocketbooks of Texas electricity consumers?

Senators call for 'crash program' to develop clean coal technologies

A national cap on carbon emissions would penalize states that rely more heavily on coal generation, Republican senators from the Midwest charged at a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on state, regional and local perspectives on global warming. However, the idea of a federal "Apollo" program or "Manhattan Project" to develop and deploy clean coal technologies garnered bipartisan support at the March 1 hearing.

House Democrats unveil new energy plan

Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday unveiled a bill that would spend about $15 billion to double U.S. automobile fuel efficiency, expand ethanol distribution and build more mass transit.

Backyard Fuel Cell

Now the system, which they built for around $50,000, taps any surplus solar electricity to fill a 500-gallon hydrogen fuel tank, enough reserve for about 14 days’ worth of power (a second tank can be added to double that capacity). Friend thinks of the setup as sort of a TiVo for energy — bank hydrogen during the summer, then consume as it’s needed.

"Switchgrass is cool, dude"

There was even a titillating little bit about a new report on peak oil that had been completed by the GAO and handed over to Maryland Republican Roscoe Bartlett and to the House Science Committee. The GAO's Wells said that the report had come to an estimation of what the "consensus" view was on the likely arrival of peak oil, but he frustrated his audience by refusing to tell them exactly what the date was. GAO rules, he said, mandate that the "requesters" of a GAO study get to sit on the information for a maximum of 30 days before the report must be made public.

To which subcommittee member Steve Israel, a Democrat from New York, responded: "I just returned from China with Mr. Bartlett on an energy security congressional delegation meeting. And my sense is that Mr. Bartlett will not let much time go by before he speaks rather loudly about this issue. By the time we were finished, the Chinese government thought his name was peak oil."

(Bart points out this article, which says the GAO report says that peak oil is now. Peak conventional oil, anyway...)

Tom Whipple - The Peak Oil Crisis: The 4 Facets of Peak Oil

Looming just over the horizon are four great storms that soon will have a major impact on nearly all the world’s peoples and their descendents for decades to come. We know these storms are coming, for we can clearly see their outlines and some are already beginning to feel the winds.

Mexico sees deepwater oil production from 2012

Mexican state-owned oil company Pemex, under pressure to increase its energy output, said on Thursday it expects to begin producing oil from deepwater wells from around 2012.

"We will start to produce oil in deepwater wells in 2012, 2013 or 2014, within seven years," Pemex's head of exploration and production, Carlos Morales, told Reuters.

Pemex, which needs deepwater projects to compensate for falling yields at its huge but declining Cantarell field, has confirmed deepwater oil deposits with its exploratory wells like Noxal, Lakach and Tabscob.

Who Will Get the Oil?

Iraq's postwar oil bonanza remains a mirage. The country has the second- or third-largest reserves in the world, making petroleum the heart and vast bulk of its economy. Thus in March 2003 did Paul Wolfowitz assure Congress that Iraq would "finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon." American planners predicted that Iraq's oil production would triple to a feverish 6 million barrels per day by 2010.

South Africa could face a coal shortage should any one of the 20 coal-mine projects slip

There is a shortage of coal looming in the local market, believes African Rainbow Minerals (Arm) CEO André Wilkens.

“There is enormous growth planned in the power generation sector, which will place additional demand on coal supply.” About 90% of South Africa’s electricity is produced by coal-fired power stations, with the remainder flowing from nuclear, renewable and hydropower sources.

Can you be traveling green by buying offsets?

But for all the good feelings that bubble up for travelers who make donations, there's nagging controversy about their effectiveness and the accountability of some of the enterprises taking money.

Hugo Chávez exploits oil wealth to push IMF aside

Chávez is promoting what he calls a "socialist" alternative to the Fund and its biggest shareholder, the U.S. Treasury. The timing could not be worse for the IMF, whose global clout is diminishing as countries from Uruguay to the Philippines pay their debts.

"Chávez is the No. 1 enemy of the IMF in the region," said José Guerra, a former head of economic research at Venezuela's central bank and now a professor at Universidad Central de Venezuela in Caracas. "He views the IMF as an agent in the service of the U.S."

Two oil giants plunge into the wind business

As global warming and clean fuels have gained more attention, Shell Oil Co. and BP have accumulated impressive credentials. Shell is one of the nation's top five generators of wind power, while BP's Alternative Energy group -- launched 16 months ago -- aims to develop projects that produce 550 megawatts of electricity this year, one-sixth of the projected US wind energy output in 2007.

Africa: Where the Next US Oil Wars Will Be

The Pentagon does not admit that a ring of permanent US military bases is operating or under construction throughout Africa. But nobody doubts the American military buildup on the African continent is well underway. From oil rich northern Angola up to Nigeria, from the Gulf of Guinea to Morocco and Algeria, from the Horn of Africa down to Kenya and Uganda, and over the pipeline routes from Chad to Cameroon in the west, and from Sudan to the Red Sea in the east, US admirals and generals have been landing and taking off, meeting with local officials. They've conducted feasibility studies, concluded secret agreements, and spent billions from their secret budgets.

UN chief says climate change as great a threat as war

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said on Thursday that global warming posed the same threat to humanity as war and warned of an "unconscionable legacy" being left for future generations.

Warmest winter on record for Shanghai

While recognising the dire long-term consequences of global warming, the [Shanghai Meteorological] Bureau said there had been some short-term benefits for Shanghai in the winter just passed.

Energy consumption fell in some areas due to the decreased need for heating, while a range of vegetables grew in abundance, leading to a fall in their market prices, the director of the bureau's climate centre, Lei Xiaotu, said.

All those scientists may still be wrong

The scientific mainstream, however, refuses to concede that it could be wrong. It insists we must act now to decarbonise our economy, whatever the consequences. If the science were as certain as suggested, it would have a point. But it isn't and, in the meantime, we are being forced down a single policy direction that may be ineffectual and takes resources away from the real and present problems in the world.

John Bruton: EU can offer U.S. ideas on climate change

As the European Union's ambassador to the United States, I have been very vocal in alerting this country to the looming disaster of global warming. With mounting, irrefutable evidence, Americans are finally coming to heed the danger signs and are beginning to listen. Europe has cheered as California and like-minded states have taken steps to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, but these efforts should really only be the beginning.

A Green Deal on Coal

The Energy Department says there are 159 new coal-fired power plants on the drawing boards; of these, only 32 are considering — though not committed to — technologies that could significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions. What’s needed is federal legislation that would drive them in the direction TXU’s new owners have promised to take.

The GAO report that is due in a month is going to claim that PO is now. That is a HUGE development, possibly the biggest development in the PO story to date. Amazing...

Hmm can you elaborate a bit? A translation of GAO for example? Ive worked a day here in Europe and my brain is a bit slow to figure it out?
Tha nks

The "Switchgrass is cool, dude" article I posted above mentions it, and also includes a link to a Platt's story about it (provided by Bart in yesterday's DrumBeat).

I am not as excited as Cynus. Peak oil is now...but it's carefully phrased as peak conventional oil.

And here's EB's take on it:


They include links to previous discussions of the GAO report.

Oh, and this link explains what the GAO is.

GAO stands for the Government Accountability Office. Until recently, it was known as the General Accounting Office. It is the investigative branch of the U.S. Congress.

Your Government is accountable?

To Who?

Now, now. Tony doesn't want twats like you suggesting the US Government is any way less accountable than his very own.

Please, think of the special relationship! Good God man, are you suggesting any thing sordid? :)

Mudlogger, are you an owl? :-)

I know this is pedantic but it should be 'to whom?'

It won't take a month. The GAO is holding it for up to 30 days while Rep. Bartlett reviews it. Think the global markets are having heartburn now?

I agree, cynus, the GAO report is big news. However, it's not that there will be new information for those of us who have been following it. (For new information, one has to come to TOD.)

What's new is that peak oil will be getting official confirmation from a respected source, assuming Rep. Bartlett's hints about the report correctly describe it.

The Government Accounting Office (GAO) has a good reputation as an objective and independent voice within the U.S. government.

The report may just be the crack in the dam, making it politically permissable to talk about the subject -- just as the Hirsch Report gave peak oil added credibility a couple of years ago.

Already, as Byron King points out ("The Shell Answer Man"), the statements from the oil companies indicate they have reached similar conclusions as we have about peak oil -- they are just avoiding the term "peak oil", as well as by fuzzing the issue by talking up non-conventional sources of oil. I think that Leanan is right in suspecting that po skeptics will make full use of this tactic.

Part of the suspense, I think, is finding out whether or not this story will ever precipitate a panic as the news of PO reaches a critical mass. How the MSN handles it, will be key. Presenting the PO skeptics side in conjunction with the GAO report, for example, may actually be a good thing.

I remember the shock that learning about PO was to me several years ago and how I felt like I had been punched in the stomach for a month or so. I can't imagine what it will be like when hundreds of millions of people get that feeling all at once.

Take it further....

Imagine how they react with their assets they currently perceive as valuable. Last one out loses....


also....Perfect storm....PO, recessions, & GW.... YEH.....better be grabbin some cold ones and finding your spot to watch.

Winter in Croatia warmest ever, up to 7.4 C above long term average.


Actually not that unusual, Winter doesn’t end for another 19 days.
I have down loaded all the daily temperatures for NY City for the past 60 years, high, low, and median,
Then determined the avg annual January temperature for each year. Well It turns out that 2006 48.4 F was not the warmest, it was 1950 at 48.6 F. Also on January 26 1950 it was 72 degrees F in NYC.
The coldest avg Jan temp was in 1977 at 27.7 F. For a range of 20.9 degrees F or 11.6 C.
The normal median Jan temp for NYC is 32 degrees F or 0 degrees C. Therefore 48.6 F is 16.6 F above normal or 9.2 C above normal for the month of January.
I will give an update after 21 March for Winter.

Dip: The global warming isn't symmetrical. Right now it is mostly hitting the northern polar regions, especially northern Asia and Europe.

Warms more at higher latitudes. Warms more at night. Warms more in winter. Is this because of rising dew points? Do rising dew points at low temperatures have more effect on temperature than rising dew points at high temperatures because of a nonlinear effect? BTW Croatia is at about 45 degrees and NYC is at 42 degrees Lat. Falling temperatures go flat when they reach the dew point.Example the gulf coast.

What is happening is that the high CO2 levels are reducing the cooling that happens at night and in the winter.

i have a silly question, as space is a vacuum, or effectively so, and therefore a perfect thermal insulator, how does the earth, as a total system, cool ? solar radiation reflected into space is one thing but heat..... lost in space ??

Energy leaves the earth the same way that it gets here: electromagnetic radiation. The surface of the sun is hot enough that it's electromagnetic spectrum encompasses UV, visible, and IR radiation, all of which reach earth to some extent. The earth's surface temperature is much lower, thus it only radiates in the infrared.

It also goes out as radiation. Every object radiates energy in the form of electromagnetic waves. The
Planck's law of black body radiation
tells you how much a black body emits at each frequency. At the Earth's temperature, it is mostly infrared radiation, and this is what gets trapped by CO2 and other greenhouse gasses.

So yeah, it gets mostly lost in space, as photons, radiated in every direction, and it will never ever hit anything.

"and it will never ever hit anything"

Well, that's not quite true. Earth is doing its tiny part to heat up Pluto. It's a big, cold universe out there. More accurate to say that most of those photons won't hit anything for quite awhile.

ok thank you both for the concise explaination.

There is a "mostly" earlier on in the phrase, with which I meant to take care of those photons which did hit something, be it the Moon, Pluto, some H2 in Andromeda, or whatever.

Also, there would be no end of fun discussing if going down a black hole counts as "hitting" something, whose time frame and/or world path is the "never ever" referring to, if all the photons leaving the Earth are just the same one going back and forth, and related issues. Pick your poison.

Higher atmospheric temp, higher dew point. Higher dew point more water per volume. More water per volume more energy per volume at the same temperature. At a given temperature a volume of air with higher water content takes longer to radiate its energy simply because it has more to energy to radiate. Therefore as pressure gradients move the air into higher latitudes they contain more energy and take longer to dissipate, consequently the winter and nighttime temperatures are higher. Water vapor causes the increases at higher latitudes, in winter and at night. Co2 provides the means to increase the dew point or water vapor per volume at all latitudes by retaining some of the radiated energy. I am no atmospheric Wizard I am simply stating my understanding of what may be happening.

Everybody has forgotten that the dew point is the temperature at which water vapour in the air becomes water liquid; this process releases heat, so the process acts as a tempurature stabilizer [for awhile] by heating the surrounding air.

A local editorial writer wrote a column called "Yes, each of us can play at least a small role in reducing energy consumption, pollution." I saw the opportunity, because this column suggests a receptiveness to energy issues, to write to him and at least attempt to guide him to expand his views. Maybe we can all find someone in our local paper like this to write to. I don't know if it'll do any good, but at least it's something. I also don't know why I hammer so much on national security issues when I write things like this, but this is what I wrote (yes, I know I missed a lot but it was getting HUGE):

Pre Script: Thank you in advance for reading this letter. I didn't originally intend it to be a novel but as I wrote it and tried to include all aspects, it just kept growing to the behemoth that it is. Feel free to use any of the ideas in your columns, or pass them on to others who might. Again, thank you.

Hi Dave,
I'm writing this to you because of your editorial "Yes, each of us can play at least a small role in reducing energy consumption, pollution." The article is great and I'm glad you wrote it, but it's really the tip of the iceberg. Energy is at the heart of all we do, and as we begin to hit practical limits set by the environment we become more and more vulnerable to disruption. This can have repercussions on national security, the economy, the health and well being of citizens, the environment - all aspects of our lives. One of my great concerns at the moment is due to what is termed "peak oil," which is really a fairly universal problem of finite resource extraction. Spare capacity of oil is eroding throughout the world. The United States hit its own peak in 1971 and despite all of the advancements in drilling technology, offshore drilling and even the opening of the North Slope in Alaska, has declined ever since. It can only follow that the world will show the same behavior at some point. Indeed, Mexico's largest field complex Canterell is in steep decline and dragging the rest of PEMEX down with it. Tar sands and shale oil can't overcome the issue of production volume, despite their large reserves. If you can't pump it fast enough, you're still in trouble no matter how large the reserve is. Because we are continually increasing our demand for oil (as well as the rest of the world increasing demand), we are being forced more and more to get out oil from unsavory places. Though most of our imports now come from Canada and Mexico, as we continually outstrip their ability to provide we find ourselves increasingly involved in the Middle East, Russia, Venezuela - not just involved, but dependent on them. By extension, because oil currently IS national security and our economy, we are dependent on the middle east for our national security and economy. Places hostile to the US. Now to come back to the local level, it's found that Progress Energy wishes to build a oil fired peaking power plant in Woodfin. Oil. Now our electrical grid, which must remain stable because it is so vital, is going to be subject to, and increase, our dependencies on the Middle East, Russia, and Venezuela. The addiction to oversized cars, trucks and SUV's as single person commuter vehicles, keeping houses 80 degrees in the winter and 60 degrees in the summer all tie back into this national security issue. That is just national security. The issue of pollution is pretty straightforward, though WNC is affected more greatly per unit of pollution than other parts of the nation do to it's weather and terrain, experiencing subsidence inversions in the summer which trap the pollution produced in the basin in which Asheville and surrounding areas exist as well as some importing of pollution from the Ohio river valley. The issue of economic security/stability should also be pretty straightforward. It only took a 5% decrease in imports during the Arab oil embargo to turn the US on it's head and threaten our economic viability, causing chaos across the country. We're even more dependent on oil imports now, and with Katrina we got a little taste of an extremely small disruption and what it can cause. As the US continues to consume increasing amounts of energy it becomes more vulnerable on a national security front, the economy is imperiled to catastrophic disruption, pollution is increased, and our lives are no longer enhanced by our technology but hurt by it. There is a better way.

xXxXxXxXxX [name removed for anonymous posting]

P.S. Feel free to contact me with any question or clarification you might have.

Really well put together letter. Thanks for writing it, and for sharing it here.

Both yours and the Tom Whipple article up top feel really helpful as the kind of Frank and Clear language that helps the person reading to see it in a perspective that demands action.

What I've been writing lately has seemed less effective, and though I can see it, sometimes I can hardly do anything to help it. I'm starting a folder just to keep examples of this sort of 'Effective, Convincing' writing, so I can keep 'soaking in it'.. But in the last couple months, I've been noticing a lot of fear in myself, and I know it clouds my thinking.. and writing, of course.

I see TWO major tasks for myself right now. One is to build the Household systems that I've devised on paper, so that I can show them to all my neighbors, working and active. (Solar Hot Air Boxes, Solar PV, Small Wind Generator, 'Winter Fridge' Heat Exchanger system, Bike Garage.. etc) The other is communication, sharing both the Essence of this problem, and the tools and directions we can be taking to try to get through it, or at least have as many cushions and hedges in place that we can soften the blow.

Bob Fiske

The parade of denialist drivel continues. The opinion piece from the Telegraph, a neocon rag, drags out the same tired "skepticism" which is plain ignorance. Water vapour loading in the troposphere is not merely "a theory". The small increase in air temperature due to CO2 leads to warmer sea surface temperatures which in turn increases convective available potential energy that drives increased convection. The increased tropospheric water vapour contributes to the heating and you have a positive feedback. Of course this does not mean we suddenly hit Venus-like conditions. There is some offset from increased low and middle level cloudiness, but the atmosphere remains grey and there is no magical perfect offset that would shut down the warming.

The pattern of tropospheric moisture increase seen in climate models is confirmed by satellite observations (Soden et al, 2005). Specifically, there is a significant trend in the upper troposphere, where you would expect to see the impact of increased convection. And moisture in the upper troposphere happens to be very effective at trapping heat.

All the whinging about convective adjustment schemes does not undermine the fact that at the heart of the process is a simple thermodynamic balance: more heat --> more moisture. You can spend the rest of time trying to understand and model the behaviour of every atom in a cloud but there is an aggregate behaviour of the system which is there all the same. It is really obnoxious for lay people to comment on the scientific merit of theories and models they have absolutely no experience with. I suppose they think they are experts in medicine and engineering as well.

I agree entirely - see my comments below, written while you were writing yours. The "problem" is that global warming affects everyone and dealing with it requires change on the part of almost everyone, at least in developed countries. Unfortunately, this means that people with no knowledge of climatology, ecology, etc., feel able to give opinions on the merits of the scientific argument whereas they would never take issue with scientific opinions on say, the human endocrine system or sub-atomic physics.

JM Greer argues here: http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com
(article of March 1), that we need to counter denialism in peak oil and climate change not through logical argument but through devising more persuasive myths and narratives than those which emanate from "business as usual" attitudes. If and how these can be devised in a credible way, remians to be seen.

Everyone talks about the weather.

Has anyone reviewed any of the new theory about cosmic rays hitting earth/clouds and creating cooling/warming periods and that being the main driving force of GW?

I'm not a bedrock science kind of guy, but it seems at least plausible and I think it's possible and that with the added CO2, we're making it much worse as compared to natural changes. IN other words both can be right, but it seems as though the scientific community has just shut the guy out with little exploration of his different, status quo challenging idea.

Just curious what the science backgrounds around here think.

Info: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/10/taking-cosmic-rays...

Has anyone reviewed any of the new theory about cosmic rays hitting earth/clouds and creating cooling/warming periods and that being the main driving force of GW?

That's the sort of story I usually dismiss without much examination. Like someone who has a zero-point energy machine from an arrangement of little magnets and weights. Or someone who proposes the easy creation of a new, heretofore unobserved high-energy form of matter.

A quick check of my favorite reference doesn't give me any ammunition for a quick cocktail-napkin calculation, but it's my feeling that if there were enough cosmic rays to actually heat up the air 2 or 3 degrees, we would have all long since died from the ionizing radiation. That and, by nucleating clouds, the cosmic rays would tend to have a global cooling effect (from the albedo).

A simple example of why the effect is not as important as it is being made out to be can be seen on many clear days. You can see aircraft aerosols creating persistent contrails but there is no visible cloud formation aside from the contrails. Cloud condensation nuclei have to be large enough to seed cloud growth. Clearly the ionization induced CCNs are too small and/or too few in number.

Galactic cosmic rays have an impact but it is not enough to explain global warming. Just like solar variability is not enough since most of the variation is in the higher frequency range (e.g. extreme ultraviolet) which does not penetrate below 50 km.

... for all its urban grittiness, there is something oddly bucolic about seeing New York from the back of a pedicab. It reduces this most bustling of cities to human-powered speed. There’s an almost tranquil feeling as you float lazily through traffic: Huck and Jim on a raft.

It is a feeling that the fellow pedaling the bike seems to share as well. “It’s a great gig,” Sean Devin, a veteran pedicab driver, said yesterday as he pedaled down Fifth Avenue south of Central Park. “You’re outside all the time. You start when you want, quit when you want, take whatever days off you want. You’re pretty much your own boss. It’s one of the last bohemian jobs left.”

But the unfettered world of pedicabs is about to change. The City Council passed legislation this week that for the first time would regulate what has been a quickly growing industry. It would limit the number of pedicabs to 325, down from what industry representatives estimate is now 500. It would also require drivers to post their rates, force owners to carry liability insurance and ban the small electric motors that some use as backup power to provide a boost for tired legs.

A spokeswoman for the consumer affairs department, which will regulate the industry under the new law, said it had not yet determined how it will distribute the 325 pedicab licenses.


Regarding Tom Whipple's latest article:

For the last 140 years, the world has had nearly uninterrupted access to a virtually unlimited supply of oil.

I would replace the word "virtually" with "seemingly."

Except in times of war and similar crises, if you could pay for the oil, you could have as much as you wanted. Soon, this will not be the case.

Even if there is rationing, I suspect that oil will still be available to those who can pay for it. It will simply cost too much for more and more would-be buyers.

From: "All those scientists may still be wrong" (about global warming). "The scientific mainstream, however, refuses to concede that it could be wrong."

It seems that the UK newspaper the Daily Telegraph has over the last few months adopted a bizarre denialist stance on climate change - this is just the latest of many such comments and articles. One wonders what it hopes to gain by this as it has for many decades supported the Conservative Party, which under new leader David Cameron has cloaked itself in a green mantle and would presumably wish to distance itself from such an attitude.

The Telegraph's readership has long been noted for its considerable age (no insult intended to senior TODers!) and has often peddled reactionary and what might be called obsolete ideas. Perhaps it merely hopes to further distance itself from its competitors, the always-progressive Guardian and the greenest mainstream paper the Independent, both of which have a mainly younger, well-educated readership.

No Insult Taken.

I take the Telegraph and the Times.

I leave the Grauniad (sp intentional) to spotty sixth formers and their teachers. They need such political simplicity at this time.

Maybe they should write a poem.


EIA information just posted.


Cumulative shortfall between what the world have produced, at the 5/05 C+C rate, and what we actually produced, through 12/06: about 366 million barrels of oil, a shortfall of about 642,000 bpd, as monthly average Brent spot crude oil prices after 5/05 were about two-thirds higher than the 20 months preceding 5/05.

Been there, done that:

Post Peak: Higher Crude Oil Prices + Increased Drilling = Lower Crude Oil Production

Re: Rise of National Oil Companies Crimping Long-Term Crude Supply

This will be the leading excuse for declining world oil production. A continuing reminder, the world is declining at the same stage of depletion at which the Lower 48 and the North Sea started declining (29 years apart), based on HL.

The Lower 48 and the North Sea were developed by private companies, with no material restrictions on drilling and production.

Declining overall production is what happens when the large oil fields in a region start declining. For the world, the only question is whether 13 out of 14, or 14 out of 14 fields that are or were producing one mbpd are now in decline or crashing.

As they say, this is not rocket science.

WT--Brings to mind Cheney's 1999 speech which also outlined role of Natl OilCos [NOCs], as follows:
Part 1 of 3 [edited for length]
OIL Cheney speech 1999 Institute of Petroleum
Published on 8 Jun 2004 by London Institute of Petroleum.

"By 2010 we will need on the order of an additional fifty million barrels a day. So where is the oil going to come from?... Oil is unique in that it is so strategic in nature. We are not talking about soapflakes or leisurewear here. Energy is truly fundamental to the world’s economy."

Dick Cheney :-

Thank you very much for that welcome and that introduction. I am delighted to be back in London today and have an opportunity to spend some time with all of you. To hear that resume reciting all of my political background and experience, of course oftentimes people say that work in the oil industry is not really sort of an uppercrust kind of organisation and I say, ‘Yeah, but I used to be a Congressman and it’s clearly a step up for me to go from the political world to the world of the oil and gas industry. I’m often asked why I left politics [[left DOD 1993]] and went to Halliburton and I explain that I reached the point where I was mean-spirited, short-tempered and intolerant of those who disagreed with me and they said ‘ Hell, you’d make a great CEO’, so I went to Texas and joined the private sector.

But I am delighted to be here and I want to try to avoid, I understand last year when Sheikh Yamani spoke that he was rather pessimistic about the outlook for oil prices and the ability of OPEC to arrive at a price level and maintain it over time and I’m not sure that it’s fair to come back a year later and second-guess and I hope a year from now people won’t do that to me in terms of the forecasts I’m going to make, but I do want to talk about the outlook, certainly from the perspective of Halliburton, how we look at what may occur here in the future and let me say at the outset that I am unreasonably optimistic about our industry.

From the standpoint of the oil industry obviously and I’ll talk a little later on about gas, but obviously for over a hundred years we as an industry have had to deal with the pesky problem that once you find oil and pump it out of the ground you’ve got to turn around and find more or go out of business. Producing oil is obviously a self-depleting activity. Every year you’ve got to find and develop reserves equal to your output just to stand still, just to stay even. This is true for companies as well in the broader economic sense as it is for the world. A new merged company like Exxon-Mobil will have to secure over a billion and a half barrels of new oil equivalent reserves every year just to replace existing production. It’s like making one hundred per cent interest discovery in another major field of some five hundred million barrels equivalent every four months or finding two Hibernias a year.

For the world as a whole, oil companies are expected to keep finding and developing enough oil to offset our seventy one million plus barrel a day of oil depletion, but also to meet new demand. By some estimates there will be an average of two per cent annual growth in global oil demand over the years ahead along with conservatively a three per cent natural decline in production from existing reserves. That means by 2010 we will need on the order of an additional fifty million barrels a day. So where is the oil going to come from?

Governments and the national oil companies are obviously controlling about ninety per cent of the assets. Oil remains fundamentally a government business. While many regions of the world offer great oil opportunities, the Middle East with two thirds of the world’s oil and the lowest cost, is still where the prize ultimately lies, even though companies are anxious for greater access there, progress continues to be slow. It is true that technology, privatisation and the opening up of a number of countries have created many new opportunities in areas around the world for various oil companies, but looking back to the early 1990’s, expectations were that significant amounts of the world’s new resources would come from such areas as the former Soviet Union and from China. Of course that didn’t turn out quite as expected. Instead it turned out to be deep water successes that yielded the bonanza of the 1990’s.

A fundamental challenge for companies is to do more than replace reserves and production. The trick obviously is also to replace earnings. For most companies the majority of their profits come from core areas, that is areas where they have significant investments, economies of scale and large license areas locked up, but many of these core areas are now mature and it can be difficult to replace the earnings from the high margin barrels there. Some of the oil being developed in new areas is obviously very high cost and low margin.

Companies that are finding it difficult to create new core areas through exploration are turning to production deals where they can develop reserves that are already known, but where the country doesn’t have the capital or the technology to exploit them. In production deals there is less exploration risk but dealing with above ground political risk and commercial and environmental risk are increasing challenges. These include civil strife, transportation routes, labour issues, fiscal terms, sometimes even US-imposed economic sanctions. Many companies are more comfortable dealing with the below ground risk like drilling and reservoir performance than they are with the above ground political risks. The other major element that it is changing is the nature of competition.

One of the biggest questions is what the competitive field will look like in the new industry after this current wave of consolidation in the oil business. Clearly the main driver behind the biggest mergers are the cost savings that are anticipated as a result of economies of scale. Concentration and critical mass are clearly keys to success. There are also cases where difficulty in sustaining and growing the companies [[h]]as led management to offer the firm to a bigger player. In the world-wide competition for capital, there are imperatives for size and scale. Larger companies tend to have the highest credit ratings and therefore the lowest borrowing costs, but they also tend to have higher multiples in the stock market. The share price premium becomes a valuable currency for take-overs. They also have stronger financial staying power to undertake the larger projects and to ride out the lean periods. The result of all this consolidation is that now four out of the five largest oil and gas companies by market value are European.

For oil companies I do not believe that the bigger is better model is the only viable one. While Halliburton has certainly grown bigger through its merger with Dresser and other key acquisitions, this made sense in part because it gave our company both a broader array of services and also greater depth in products and services.

For oil companies I see four basic types of firms that I think will survive and prosper in the new environment. First, we will obviously have the super majors, but they have to be careful to avoid the dragdown of facts and the distractions of physically merging, plus the danger of becoming lumbering giants. I think there is a good chance they will avoid becoming bloated bureaucracies because they are very focused on delivering cost saving synergies for their shareholders.

The second type of survivor will be those companies that have dominance in a region or a market. These integrated companies may not be in the top five globally, but they will be number one or number two in their respective markets. This gives them the critical mass and concentration to compete and win on their turf. Repsol YPF is an example of this type of company; number one in Iberia and the southern corner of Latin America and very profitable.

A third model for competing in the new century is that of what I would call the super independents. These are firms that focus on one line of business but have sufficient scale to have several core areas of material size where they can go head to head with anyone. These combine the advantages of a super major with the agility of an independent. A common element in these three classes of firms will be critical mass and concentration.

A fourth category of survivor in the new competitive world will be what I call niche players who can prosper off the properties that the bigger firms don’t want or because of the very special circumstances they find. Those in the special players will obviously have to compete somewhat below the radar screen of the more dominant companies.

The immense portfolio restructuring that we think likes ahead in the wake of the recent large mergers should create opportunities for competitors to strengthen their positions. New aggregators are likely to emerge which, together with a lot of the brain drain from staff cuts at the majors, could well provide the bigger companies with unexpectedly strong competition in the decade ahead. In many ways the traditional role of oil companies are changing. Increasingly we are seeing international oil and gas companies concentrating on managing investment, financial, commercial and political risk or above ground risk, while service companies are managing technical, completion and operating risk. Meanwhile, national oil companies are focused on managing their country’s national interest and its resources and in the domestic markets. This is part of the new resource rationalism of the 1990’s. NOC’s may own the resources, but when it is in the national interest to bring in outsiders to help develop them, they do so. Venezuela obviously is a clear example of what I would define as the new resource nationalism. Some NOC’s are still looking outside their own borders, but I expect that in the future the emphasis may well be closer to home.

NOC’s can focus on becoming regionally dominant players, leveraging off their strong domestic base to move into neighbouring countries. This will occur where there are links and synergies with their home business, not just going global for its own sake. I think Petrobras in Brazil may be an example of this in Latin America.

People ask about the future role for OPEC. Certainly the organisation represents companies that have a vast amount of oil reserves and it has held together for over a quarter of a century already. OPEC have shown the ability for crisis management every time oil prices have dropped to single digit levels, but the group may ultimately bring about its own undoing if it shoots for too high a level for oil prices. As observers point out, in the long run, this effectively underwrites higher cost oil exploration and development around the world all at the same time, limiting demand growth below what it might otherwise be. Nonetheless, I believe most of us in the industry have welcomed the restraint in he leadership shown by OPEC in recent months and the improved outlook for the international oil markets. I know I am pleased with the leadership provided by Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Venezuela and in the long run I think the world will be best served, and the consumer best served as well as producers, by stable prices at reasonable levels.

Part 2 0f 3
The oil industry will become more integrated in the new century but not necessarily in the traditional sense of link ups between producers and refiners. The new integration will bring together new capabilities, skills, technology and risk management to create synergies that add value. From my perspective in the oil service industry I see an integrated role for us in helping to manage certain technical risk, leaving oil companies to retain control but focus on investment decisions, commercial and political risk and financial risk.

Oil companies probably spend the most and make the lowest returns on the actual development and operation of their assets. It is here in the middle of the opportunity chain where service companies can add the most value on the below ground aspects of the operation. Service companies can assist oil companies in making knowledge based value added decisions and implementing them quickly; through this type of integration oil companies can better leverage their skills and resources to maximise value, focusing on their core competencies. For NOC’s, working with service companies can make use of the best technical expertise available world-wide, whilst still retaining control and managing the state’s interest in its own natural resources. Service companies are becoming more integrated themselves oftentimes offering integrated solutions.

Let me say a word or two about the impact of technology in the new century. Clearly technology has revolutionised the oil business in the last decade with rapid advances in data interpretation, reservoir management, enhanced oil recovery, directional drilling and deep water operations and the pace of advancement is accelerating. The oil industry is saddled with this image problem as a polluting manufacturing industry when in reality it has become a knowledge based business. The application of technology and information processing is remarkable. Our success as a company and as an industry will depend even more heavily in the future on our ability to develop and deploy new technology.

Let me say a word, if I can, about natural gas because we think there will be tremendous growth occurring in this area in the years ahead. In terms of the North American natural gas market, we are consciously bullish over the next five years and beyond. The demand side has plenty of up side and gas is likely to grab a greater share of US energy consumption in the decade ahead. Virtually all new US power plants are likely to be gas fired and residential penetration is growing fast as well. On the supply side, onshore gas outputs should be weaker and this means that the demand gap will need to be met by perhaps double digit growth rates and Canadian imports and various significant increases in production out of the Gulf of Mexico. The industry will need to get busy bringing on new production facilities and pipelines systems to meet these needs. Deep water gas, obviously, will have a very important role to play.

There are a number of factors which we believe will drive the growing role for gas on a global basis. The environment, obviously, will be a key driver in the natural gas business in the new century as there is increasing opposition to so called ‘dirty fuels’ like coal and high sulphur fuel oil. Gas is the preferred fuel for power generation. There are continuing technological innovations in gas for power generation, combined psycho[[cycle?]] plants, greatly increased output efficiency. Gas to liquids is in the threshold of commercial success. There is growing demand in emerging markets like China, India and Brazil. For international oil and gas companies, gas is increasingly a key element of the E and P portfolios - oil becomes more difficult to replace while gas reserves and production will grow. Another reason natural gas will have a huge role in the next century is that the world’s gas resources are obviously vast.

The Middle East and Africa have over one hundred year’s supply of gas reserves at current low usage levels and the former Soviet Union and Latin America have gas reserve to production ratios which should last over seventy years. Even estimates of proved gas reserves understate the volumes involved, since there is plenty of gas still to be found and many existing discoveries have not been booked, usually due to the difficulty of getting gas to market. As companies find more gas, they need to find ways to monitise the remote fields, developing stranded gas often entails new risk involved in building a new market to use the gas. The three main options for moving this gas to market are pipelines, liquefied natural gas and now gas to liquids.

The world will get more and more connected with gas pipelines in the new century as high strength steel and automated equipment allow pipelines to become economical over long distances. In LNG new markets will fundamentally alter the nature of the business. The days of the twenty year take or pay contracts and top drawer buyer credit ratings like Tokyo Electric are over. New buyers will be local power generators in places like India and Turkey. Credit worthiness of new buyers, contracts lengths and base floor prices will be under pressure, introducing new risk. New structures will be needed to share the risk in building the new markets amongst all the participants: producers, consumers, governments and project managers. The long waiting list of green field and LNG expansion projects may signal market limitations for LNG, problems for putting together new projects are due in part to economic slow down in Asia. LNG producers are facing greater competition and lower returns and they may need to look at investing down the gas chain and re-gasification and power as well.

Long term, there are innovations on the way such as power generation synergies with re-gasification, cost reductions and smaller scale projects that could permit floating LNG terminals. An alternative to LNG as a means of monitising gas reserves is gas to liquids, or GTL which serves a completely different market. This is a well established process for turning low value gas into high value, ultra clean, refined products that are easily transportable meeting the coming demand for green fuels. With a huge world market for refined products, gas to liquids is much more flexible than pipeline or LNG projects which require rigid contracts and offtake commitments. GTL products can be exported inexpensively on product tankers and distributed through existing infrastructures. The appeal of gas to liquids is that there is no exploration risk as with oil, no market risk as there is when trying to open up new areas to gas.

The remaining hurdle has been the economics, but while the conventional wisdom is that gas to liquids viability is still a way off, there are commercial projects on the way right now that have attractive rates of return with the right tax incentives and when viewed as part of a larger strategy. For example, Chevron and Sasol’s plant, Escravos GTL plant in Nigeria is the enabler that permits things such as more gas processing with associated liquids productions, lubes and an ethylene plant. The project, together with Shell’s rebuilding of the MDS plant in Bintulu Malaysia, and projects in Cutter and elsewhere show that GTL’s time is finally arriving. The viability of gas to liquids will be further enhanced through incremental improvements and radical technology breakthroughs in areas such as process, catalyst and reactor technology leading to lower costs, increased efficiency and greater scale and this could herald a revolutionary new era for the international gas industry. Companies are looking at all the sectors : gas transmission, gas distribution, gas trading, power generation, electric utilities, even electricity trading. Some think the opportunities are in owning the infrastructure, while others see the preferred role in the merchant banking function in the energy business, especially trading [[Enron]]and providing financial instruments. Still, others think the key is in having the customers and cross selling services. In some instances, gas and electric utilities facing the loss of monopoly positions want to diversify into higher growth, unregulated businesses like oil and gas.

Part 3 of 3
For the other side, oil and gas companies may seek the earnings stability of an utility business that can broaden or integrate their business. These new businesses could cushion the earnings volatility of the petroleum side of the business, for example one of the companies whose earnings held up the best in 1998 during the oil price downturn was Repsol due to its stable income from Gas Natural. In any event, gas and power will be of growing importance in the portfolios of many energy companies with new forms of integration and this has the potential to expose companies to new and unfamiliar risk.

Firms have a lot to learn about electricity price risk and spark spreads. In addition to new risk there will be new competition. Major players may include names likes CMS, AES, Duke Energy, Reliant, Dominion Resources etc. In the minds of many, the energy business is becoming a commodity business whether it’s oil or gas or kilowatts. I think that in many ways it is also a service industry and in any event, on the product side, one has to concede that these are nonetheless unique commodities.

Oil is unique in that it is so strategic in nature.[[Understand each word in that statement;then re-read to fully comprehend]] We are not talking about soapflakes or leisurewear here. Energy is truly fundamental to the world’s economy. The Gulf War was a reflection of that reality. The degree of government involvement also makes oil a unique commodity. This is true in both the overwhelming control of oil resources by national oil companies and governments as well as in the consuming nations where oil products are heavily taxed and regulated.

Essentially, the petroleum industry deals with extreme risk and with billions of dollars on the line. Oil is produced in distant lands as a result of huge risk and enormous capital outlays, it is transported over vast distances, refined in expensive refineries with very heavy outlays required to protect the environment and to comply with strict and expensive regulations, distributed through a wide network of pipelines, trucks and wholesale outlets and sold at stations in prime locations and taxed heavily.

It is the basic, fundamental building block of the world’s economy. It is unlike any other commodity.

The oil and gas industry provides essential goods at the lowest possible cost with regular reliability while still ensuring a cleaner environment and the industry provides security of supply even though at the same time we are required to manage huge political risk.

What we do isn’t always appreciated by the public and this is part of our industry’s image problem that we need to work on in the next century.

Frankly the focus in today’s economy on globalisation and emerging markets is old news to the oil industry. Ours are global companies investing outside the industrialised companies at the turn of the last century. People need to realise that the energy industry often represents the largest foreign investment in many parts of the world and its interest, insights and experience need to be considered.

Oil is the only large industry whose leverage has not been all that effective in the political arena.[[??]] Textiles, electronics, agriculture all seem oftentimes to be more influential. Our constituency is not only oilmen from Louisiana and Texas, but software writers in Massachusetts and specially[[specialty]] steel producers in Pennsylvania. I am struck that this industry is so strong technically and financially yet not as politically successful or influential as are often smaller industries. We need to earn credibility to have our views heard.[[??]]

Another concern is the disruptive volatility of the industry. In the new century the oil business needs to learn how to break out of the boom and bust cycles we have experienced over the last century. Perhaps it is part of being a commodity business, but it wreaks havoc with planning processes and can drive smaller companies out of business and, needless to say, creates problems for consumers as well.

One hope might be that the new super majors would use their financial staying power to keep capital spending steady throughout the cycle or even to invest counter-cyclically. This would help smooth out the bumps and of course the financial community could do its part by taking a longer view of financial performance and not pressuring sound companies to cut back during periods of weakness, however unlikely. Technology can help smooth out the cycles by lowering costs. A key challenge for companies in the commodity business is growth and there are basically only two avenues to grow earnings : one is through increasing volume and the other is through improved unit efficiencies. These two options have been driving company strategies.

On the volume side we can see the aggressive production targets that some companies have announced of late. On the unit efficiency side we have the cost cutting targets most firms announced for 1999 and beyond, as well as the mergers designed to generate savings through synergies, economies of scale and reduction in overheads. The view is that in the commodity business the lowest cost producer will be the winner.

In the last century and up to World War Two coal was king and looks to have a lock as the primary source of energy. It was dethroned by oil, mostly due to transportation fuels, but also because oil was less polluting and easier to handle. Coal is still with us today, but oil is clearly dominant. In the new century, will the oil age give way to another source of energy or to new technologies? Some predict natural gas will erode oil’s performance, others say that technology, fuel cells, telecommuting on the internet or some other breakthrough will lessen our dependence on hydrocarbons.

Well, the end of the oil era is not here yet, but changes are afoot and the industry must be ready to adapt to the new century and to the transformations that lie ahead. It will mean showing more speed and agility. As I have outlined today, there are new areas to co-operate in, new risk, new competition, new roles, new integration and a new convergence with power. This will be a challenging environment as we cross the threshold into the new millennium.

You don’t hear our times referred to as the Space Age anymore, instead it’s the Information Age. You will notice they call it the Information Age, not the Knowledge Age. Well, I would conclude today by saying that this industry must be at the forefront of moving into the Knowledge Age. Successful competitors will be those that best manage knowledge. This means technology, expertise, best practices, country, market and competitor intelligence and opportunity assessment. These will be the hallmarks of the energy industry in the new century. I for one am proud to be a part of the industry and I am optimistic about our future in the coming century.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Editorial Notes ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This speech is referred to in Kjell Aleklett's recent article, Dick Cheney, Peak Oil and the Final Count Down. It shows a deep understanding of the impending energy challenges. It was removed from the original Institute of Petroleum website www.petroleum.co.uk/speeches.htm , but we found it using the Wayback machine at www.archive.org

why anybody would waste time posting or reading anything dick ("debt dont matter") cheney has to say is waaaaaaaay beyond me.

"the demand gap will need to be met by perhaps double digit growth rates and Canadian imports and various significant increases in production out of the Gulf of Mexico"

We all know how well reality is dealing with this assertion.

Rather than post the whole content here, it would have been much nicer to have has a snippit or two, and then the link to the rest of the speech. Posting the complete thing here was a waste of band width.

Part 1 of 3 [edited for length]

I wish you had edited a little more, umm, assiduously.

Between my 10-second attention span and the fact that it is nothing but the blatherings of a well-known world class liar, I'm not gonna wade through all that verbiage.

DIYer said,
"I wish you had edited a little more, umm, assiduously."

Why should he? If folks don't want to read it, there is this cool thing at the right of the screen, and you click and hold down on your mouse, and just motor right past it....that's why I didn't need the "opinion blockers" plug ins everyone was so overjoyed with a bit ago on TOD....

And someone said something about "bandwidth". This is line text, how much bandwidth could it take? The other day I came over here and faced a full technicolor illustration of a Sabre Tooth Tiger attacking a Mammoth (I wasn't sure what that contributed to my knowledge of Peak Oil, but oh well....which takes more bandwidth, full color illustrations or line text, (Leanan) help us out on this and tell us what the bandwidth requirements per 1000 words of straight line text are compared to technicolor comic book pictures....

One more little thing.....I read that speech myself, before Chaney became Vice President....now the guy may be a swine, and he may have a horrendous choice as VEEP, but if anyone has the open mind and the attention span (people are saying that speech is too long are the some of the same ones who would claim to have read Simmons "Twilight In The Desert" cover to cover....pardon me if I have my doubts :-), may find it to be a very astute look at the extremely difficult shape we were getting in, and remember, this was 1999, well before "Peak was cool" to most folks....Chaney be.....well, call him what you will, the speech is one of his most candid and useful he has ever made....he hasn't made any nearly that good since he has been Vice President.

It sometimes helps in learning if people have to actually hear an opinion they differ with......and it may be longer than a bumper sticker....

I was thinking about posting the entire chapter "The Commanding Heights" from Alvin Toffler's "The Third Wave", but it might get me hit by one of those opinion blocker plug ins..:-), plus, it would annoy people to see that all this stuff we are discussing now was already discussed in 1980!

Remember, we are only one cubic mile from freedom

[no comment]

I don't like the looks of that ...

Could Mexico replace its failing oil production with imports from Venezuela?

Don, Mexico does not need to import oil, they are a net exporter. They are just exporting a lot less these days.

Ron Patterson

Mexico uses about 2 million bpd, so it will be a while before they're forced to import, but their government takes a big swath of the oil profits from what they're now exporting.

A case history: The annual decline rate in UK net oil exports was probably on the order of 40% per year. They went from exporting one mbpd in 1999, to being a net importer in 2005.

David Shields is predicting that Cantarell will decline at about 500,000 bpd per year.

The spike downward in July of 05, to 3.082 mb/d, in Mexican production was due Hurricane Emily. Pull that out and you can see the true trend. In January Mexico reports an increase in production but still 20,000 barrels per day below November. They say the huge drop in December was partly due to weather conditions.

ron Patterson

"They say the huge drop in December was partly due to weather conditions."

I would love to see a production chart of that type going back to 1980 to see what the volatility looks like over a longer period....many seem now to assume that they went up and up and up, with no sign of volatility until now....I would also like to find a really clear chart like that for Saudi Arabia...I have seen some, but they were usually not clear and only in full year increments....
Roger Conner
Remember, we are only cubic mile from freedom

Tom Whipple. Great writer. If you get a chance, read his article above. He sums things up better than the majority of journalists.

Leanan. Thank you for all your efforts.

Yes, but he missed a couple of approaching calamities. He included economic problems, but missed the rebalancing of trade flows and the inevitable dollar devaluation. He also missed the US budget and retirement fiasco. I think these are likely to bite us Americans more in the next 10 years than climate change will.

I can only barely imagine what will happen in this country when it finally dawns on the Baby Boomers that 1) their houses won't save their retirement, 2) their greatly diminished stock portfolios (if they are lucky enough to have them) won't save their retirement, 3) their dollar savings won't save them in a world of inflation, 4) their pension payments are falling while inflation rises, 5) the Social Security trust fund is full of worthless paper, and 6) gas is too expensive for them to buy. Of course, they may just keep their jobs and put young people out of work.

Martin livermore at the Telegraph uses the figure of .6 degree celsius as a measure of warming. While true as an average, if he took the winter average in Pt Barrow or Inuvik, the figure would be many multiples of his .6 degrees.

Up where the ice is, when it is reforming, the picture seems a lot clearer. By the time the tropics go up by two or three degrees, it's beachfront on Baffin Island time. This winter's figures in Siberia were astounding as a recent post of NOAA maps showed.

Talk to the folks who live there. GW is a polar problem initially, and one of reduced temperature loss in winter when the sun isn't shining. Fat lot of good those sunspots are doing when they don't come back on for a couple of months.

Martin Livermore seems to need a bit more education on the subject. Maybe the Telegraph should send him to Inuvik next January for some local experience. Off to the front lines Martin. Time for some atmospherics.

BTW, wasn't the Telegraph a Conrad Black paper? Anyway, it's nice to see the occaisional refutation of scientific orthodoxy just to keep us diligent.

Here’s a little problem of global warming, natural resources and West Texas’s ELP. It’s a problem of mine, and think it will shortly become the problem of many as GW progresses. I’ll throw it out for discussion.

Our place has a fairly large area of land in timber. It has been managed in hopes of providing an income stream in our old age through selective harvest. The last couple of years I’ve noted problems/stand die offs that many foresters would attribute to global warming.

GW appears to be replacing the once dominant fire paradigm in intermountain forestry. Fire has guided the funding and recommendations coming out of western extension forestry and the universities since the mid 80's, and cemented its dominance with the Yellowstone burns. Now that page is turning to GW, and the reports cite the gradual loss of montane and wetter species at lower elevations. At present, the few recommendations imply one should shift species composition to the drier species. Much of our timberland has one species remaining to shift before we are back to range. (It should be stated that other foresters regard many gw attributed problems as simply a logical outcome of fire suppression policies. The wetter species, not fire tolerant, have over expanded their range due to fire suppression)

Given the above constraints, and that many projections are calling for rapidly accelerating gw effects, we and others would be best off to just clear cut now and get what we can. The E of ELP. Shift assets that will become worthless. Replanting appears a waste, for given effects of the newer gw projections, the land may shift all the way back to range. The sooner we do it the better, for as others meet this problem, and peak oil progresses with increasing fuel costs, there will be at best a saturated market for a more costly product. Timber in many regards seems like the proverbial McMansion in the exurbs.

The flip side is of course losing the extra tree growth and income in waiting for a selective, phased harvest. There is also the carbon capture and storage of the forest growth. Not hardly an earth shattering effect from our land, but easy to see the consequences of all doing it. I’d prefer an income stream vs. the lump sum distribution of clear cutting.. Not to mention the ascetic effects the forest provides.

Could you perhaps find different trees to plant?

Diamond's Collapse describes a society that practices "sylvaculture." And the tree they cultivate for firewood (because it burns well and grows quickly) was imported from elsewhere. Indeed, Diamond pointed to this as an example of how they became sustainable. The people were endlessly curious about plants and their uses, and were eager to bring cuttings home.

Since reading that, I've often thought that we should be looking for useful plants now, when it's relatively easy. Yes, I realize there are dangers inherent in importing non-native species, but if the native species are going belly-up anyway, it might be worth the risk.

It doesn't even have to be non-native species. Species that are uncommon in your area but common farther south will do. I've been looking at Forest Service range maps to see what grows well in the proper soil conditions but a few hundred miles farther south. (The "Climate Change Atlas for 80 Forest Tree Species of the Eastern United States" is particularly helpful in the east.) That works well for here, since south of me is the Ohio Valley. However, if 200-300 miles south corresponds to the Sonoran or Chihuahuan Desert, that may be a problem!

I'm very fond of black locust and other Fabacea species. At worst, that might mean mesquite for our land holder. They're fast growing, tough, nitrogen-fixing trees. Locust also makes fantastic fencing material and firewood and is a valuable tree for bees. You can also buy seedlings cheaply at the Virginia department of forestry.

The problem is we are now at the margin on many of our timber stands, in both the west and our land. A species shift to a drier enviroment is back to range habitat, where trees will not prosper. Which is why replanting is a waste. It all depends on the degree and moisture direction of climate shift. I hear three main camps-no evidence of gw induced climate change here, which I don't buy, a shift to drier climate, and it's too early to predict moisture direction or relative amounts. Compund that with the long harvest interval here with trees-50 to 80+ years.

Funny, but it keeps coming back to ELP. Accept the drier predictions of gw, and maximize return by harvest now since nature will do it later. There are of course different solar aspects (facing direction of forest slope) and coulees which have different prescriptions.

I have to agree with your last comment, but don't see any trees anywhere to bridge the grassland-forest edge.

doug fir
here's my State tree
which seems to be taking a hold in California. It is moderately cold tolerant and seems to cope with a wide range of climate regimes. Since the worldwide acreage is fast increasing no doubt some obscure bug will discover it and have a great time. Bluegums appear to be the winner of 'Timbertree Idol' for now at least.

Thanks, an intriguing tree, but read its requirements: "The climate throughout its range is cool to mild, with wet winters and reliable summer rainfall"

I've long been interested in the oak chapparal of California. Where it still exists, it is a beautiful enviroment. Resembles the African savannah, which deserves much more study.

The Icelandic Forest Service has determined that the native tree (98% of trees @ Settlement) the Icelandic birch will be "confused" regarding winter hardening when CO2 levels rise (based on unheated greenhouse experiments with elevated CO2 levels).

This birch has little economic value so Iceland was already planting about 75%-80% exotics out of 5+ million trees/year (pop 280,000). Siberian larch, lodgepole pine, black cottonwood (a fast growing poplar), Sitka Spruce, Engelmann Spruce, Norway spruce and Swiss & Siberian stone pine (a source of pine nuts).

I have sent American Chestnut and Sugar Pine (world's tallest pine, from high elevations in Southern California) to Iceland for trials.

Best Hopes,


Clear-cutting seems a bit extreme, unless you are expecting a big fire to take everything out some day soon. It also seems extreme to conclude that you are one species away from rangeland.

If I recall correctly, you are in the Pacific NW. I live in that neck of the woods now, but I grew up in New Mexico. The US Southwest has an amazing plethora of tree varieties which compete against one another. One can drive through a half-dozen climatic zones in an hour's time, going from Chihuahuan desert to alpine. The native trees progression includes Mesquite, Juniper, Piñon, Ponderosa, Spruce, Fir with lots of subspecies and other varieties thrown in. Elevation determines what grows where, but the boundaries move due to drought and many other things have an effect on competition within zones. Recently, vast swaths of low elevation (for NM) Piñon woodland was killed off by a bark beetle infestation brought on by drought but exacerbated by overcrowding of Piñons, caused in turn by fire suppression and years of wet weather. My father lost a tree that was 500 years old, and the rings tell a story of an interesting life. Pictures taken over the last 100 years also show a quite variable forest picture.

The point is that climate changes will effect individual tree populations, but perhaps you will instead be managing a reduced density of (increasingly valuable) trees in the future, or different trees perhaps. Instead of cashing out, diversify your investment by planting a few other species.

Thanks for the reply.

Much of the timber inland at lower elevation is Ponderosa Pine, and as you shift drier here and at this point in time, you enter range land, mostly from elevation, some from latitude effects. There are some other Pinus spp, or perhaps some juniper which might work, but not of any timber value. I don't see any evidence in the north of the SW progression diversity you describe. Perhaps that will come with warming, but it would be a big gamble to plant today. If the natural habitat of the future is to be range, maybe the best is to let it happen.

I'm mainly looking at Douglas Fir as the impacted species now. The timber log progression is to Ponderosa, then range. The obvious selection is to log the fir, and thin the p pine way back to anticipate reduced moisture. But as stated, if the gw projections are much worse, the p pine seedlings planted won't make it to harvest. Which is the crutch of the matter. Guessing the extent, timing and direction of the change, which timber species might make it, future value of timber, and which can also survive now. I think much of the inland NW could be looking at this. Wait too long, and you are looking at salvage sale prices, reduced markets, and sky high fuel.

kjmclark above noted locust in looking at the east. The east is a whole different ballgame, being bathed year round in precipitation, and humidity, from the Atlantic, Gulf, and west. What an amazing moisture regimen. It did stir an old memory of wheat farms here which in the past often put part of their ridge tops to black locust for firewood. (Also, they planted in a deep loam) But a couple hundred acres of firewood and fence posts is a bit much, I don't know of the timber value.

I'm not a forester, but how much expense is there in planting Ponderosa saplings as your namesakes are harvested? Is your annual rainfall too low for Red Alder?

In any event, unless destroyed by fire or insects, I can't see how your existing stand won't become more valuable in a post-PO scenario. Also, it's anybody's guess as to whether you will have more or less rainfall with GW. I wouldn't conclude anything by trends the last few years.

Spare the trees.

Alder could not survive even at present. It's a high moisture tree. Although I really like it, especially for an inexpensive, durable wood in furniture, or for smoking or firewood. Unfortunately, salvage sales of standing dead timber often won't pay much above the harvest and transport costs with many species. An exception in lodgepole pine for speciality furniture markets come to mind, but not that many others.

A rant, not directed at anyone in particular, is my pet peeve with public perception of gw. The thought that--”Hey, it'll be a little warmer, not as much fuel needed this winter.” It's not, it's climate CHANGE. And most don't realize this entails different precipitation patterns, usually drier, and their consequences. With plants, and especially crops and timber in a given latitude, it all boils down to moisture. And not just the amount, but what many don't realize, it's the timing for plants. The regimen. How it is is distributed throughout the year. When it all comes as snow or rain in the winter, and then a low humidity, non precip summer, it creates a different world from the coasts or east. The midwest, with its Gulf generated humidity and thunderstorms, grows great corn. Farther west the corn shrivels; it's wheat, a quick crop taking its moisture from winter and spring excess.

Lastviking notes the boreal changes to popular and birch. These are also moisture loving species. Who knows how they will survive with future climate shift. Aspen, btw, is a great indicator species for moisture. Find it, and there's usually a spring or source of subsurface moisture.

You are right about it being a guess at this point on rainfall amounts. As I said, there's ambiguity on this area as to the direction of ppt change. But what I've noted here, and what some of the foresters are saying, inland is looking looking drier with a concommitent species shift. And what will be the regimen? I'm not sure what to do at this point, but as markets fall and fuel rises, the Economize shouts louder.

You mention the timing of precipitation. I've become fascinated that the trees west of the Cascade range do so well with what I would call unfortunate timing in that regard. The rainfall pattern for Seattle looks like this:

Not only does the rain come when the temperatures are less favorable for growth, but also when sunshine (due to the high latitude) is scarce. This general rain pattern (magnified 2-4X) would apply to the Olympics as well as areas in Oregon where some of the largest trees of various evergreen species can be found. The trees are dominant precisely because they can deal with this out-of-phase problem better than other plants by storing the winter moisture and releasing little in the summer (I don't know how the alder manage things).


It's a maritime climate, a virtual temperate rainforest with rain throughout the year and any summer day likely to be dew covered in the morning, cloudy or fog shrouded, which greatly changes things, yet isn't represented in ppt graphs. In spite of ol Bing Crosby's "Bluest Skies" song, I had a friend over there who called it the cloud factory, with "sucker holes". Meaning as soon as he got his shirt off, the little sun hole would cloud over.

I've been fortunate to travel up the coast from Seattle by boat and air several times to Dutch Harbor, AK, out on the end of the Aluetians. It's magnificent, but imo takes a different breed to live year round on the coast.

If you haven't already, try a trip due east over 90, note the vegetation as you come down into the Columbia basin. Keep east if you can, passing over the rockies, switching to Rt 200 in Missoula, Mt and travel down the divide onto the northern high plains. You keep esentially the same latitude and the changes are fascinating.

Winter in Seattle is a challenge to the soul, to be sure. But I've live here for a dozen years, and summer is not quite what you describe. Last summer, it didn't rain at all. My first summer here was so beautiful that the subsequent winter was easily tolerable, and most summers are like that. Lawns go dormant in late summer due to lack of rain, as does the moss growing on my car.

Before moving to Seattle, I spent a few years in the Tri-cities area of Eastern Washington. In many ways, winter is more depressing there because you get the low clouds but not the precipitation. Without the big rivers (Columbia and Snake), there would be no trees at all. And before that experience, I lived in Central New Jersey, which had much higher humidity than Seattle and occasionally had thick fog in midsummer.

Having grown up a desert rat, I don't dispute that trees need water, or that your land will be less productive with less rain. However, trees can handle extremely varied rainfall patterns and climates, especially Douglas Firs (0-11,000 ft. elevation, British Columbia to Mexico, winter rain vs. summer monsoon).

The boreal forests are undergoing similar transition upon new growth in burned out former spruce/pine insect infested areas.

Black/white spruce & lodgepole pine are being replaced by the hardier trembling aspen, often at much reduced densities. Aspen likes methane.

For our video gaming readers a large tactical simulation that puts the participant in a post peak oil resource war scenario.


"Frontlines: Fuel of War Hands-on

March 1, 2007 - Gas prices may be sky high right now, but can you imagine a world that has finally drained the last drops of oil from the ground? Think of the massive calamity and outright panic that would spark, not to mention the conflict between nations fighting to survive the ensuing resource wars. Kaos Studios and THQ are posing this question with their upcoming release of Frontlines: Fuel of War, a bleak futuristic war title ready to rage across PCs, PS3s and Xbox 360s this fall.

Based around actual battle scenarios of resource depletion and political alliances, Frontlines is set 20 years in the future when the world has finally run out of its oil reserves. In the chaos that grips the globe, two armies have arisen from the ashes to fight for supremacy: The Western Coalition, which is comprised of the United States and the European Union, and the Red Star Alliance, built from Russia and China. With much of the warfare breaking out across Eastern Europe and the Western Russian front, players will fight their way across forests, war torn cities and other locations in an effort to repel their enemies in both singleplayer and multiplayer modes."

There are at least two other large simulations, games really, that address resource conflict and climate change.

Battle Field 2 is set five years into the future. Conflict between the US, Middle Eastern Coalition and China are staged in and around centers of energy production.

Battle Field 2142 is staged in 2142 when due to climate change all of North America and Northern Europe is frozen. The US is out of the fight. Only the EU and Asian Pacific forces are left to contend for the remains.

Do you suppose someone is listening?

I saw that. Computer games have a long history of being peak oil aware. Even DOOM, the granddaddy of first-person shooters, was based on the idea that earth had run out of oil; it was supposedly the search for hydrocarbons that drove the UAE company to Mars (where they inadvertently opened a gateway to hell). It may have only been an excuse to have all those exploding oil barrels around, but still....

Anyone who's ever played SimCity has a better handle on energy issues than your typical executive.

I'm waiting for the peak oil version of Sim City.

Instead of industrial, commercial, or residential zoning you'll have soylent red, soylent blue, or soylent green.


Would that be Slim City or Dim City?

I just have to point out the staggering rate of rise in gasoline prices. Average US retail price will likely breach $2.50/gal next week, and not long ago I bought gas for $2.01. It's still winter. Not looking good for happy motoring this summer. It's gonna get tougher for the PO deniers, and more difficult for the media to ignore.
Also, the news about a La Nina developing is not a good sign for this year's hurricane season.

Sunspot: Could be worse. Here in Toronto, prices are as high as $1.09/litre ($3.51 US/gal) and sometimes you have to drive to a few stations to find one that sells gasoline. BTW, this price level does zero to inhibit driving.

I noticed the price increase in Atlanta - locally $2.35 for lowest grade. We're not near summer driving time yet and the prices are ratcheting up already. It will be an interesting summer.

National Geographic Round the World trip with Jared Diamond including a stop at Easter Island is sold out. Can you imagine have a glass of wine or two or three with Jared Diamond on Easter Island?

Around the World by Private Jet

Interesting advice from one of the top global equity strategy teams:

Dresdner Advises Aggressive `Underweight' in Stocks


March 2 (Bloomberg) -- Investors should reduce stock holdings and buy government bonds because the current market sell-off is not over, said Dresdner Kleinwort, the top-ranked strategists in the world.

``The long and widely awaited equity correction is upon us,'' wrote London-based Albert Edwards, a strategist at Dresdner, in a note today. ``We are shifting our asset allocation stance to become much more aggressively underweight equities.''

More than $1.5 trillion in market value has been wiped off global indexes since a slump in Chinese shares on Feb. 27, the biggest in a decade, spooked investors. Morgan Stanley Capital International's All-Countries World Index has lost 4.4 percent in four sessions and was down 0.3 percent today as of 5 p.m. in London.

The strategist predicted ``an imminent shakeout of at least 10 percent'' in equities, according to the note. Dresdner has had a ``structural underweight'' in stocks since October 1996 relative to bonds in an asset allocation model. An ``underweight'' position means investors should hold fewer of the securities than are represented in benchmarks.

``Timing has never been our strongpoint,'' Edwards wrote. ``But we believe `the great unwind' has now started.''

The biggest concern is a deteriorating U.S. economy, and the latest signs are declines in durable-goods orders and new- home sales, Edwards said in an interview.

``If the housing market hasn't bottomed yet, there's a real recession risk,'' he said.

Dresdner's bearish stance comes as banks, including UBS AG and Merrill, Lynch & Co., advised investors not to flee stocks, saying the slump is temporary and will be followed by rebounds.

I just want to give a big "Thank you" to S.A.T., if you're still out there, who advised us to buy TLT 6 months ago. I took his advice and it has softened the blow of the recent market drops.

I play a stock sumlation game for my international investments class. Needless to say I am heavily imvolved in international stocks and my portfolio returned over 17% on Tuesday. I was short all over the place, ready for this. The tell for me anyway, was credit spreads. Down in subprime land, credit spreads have been exploding for two weeks and some change now. It was working it's way to whats know as ALt-A loans. CDS's for BBB- were blowing up to the tune of 40% losses as of Monday before the crash.

As of last friday I was getting ancy and I told a friend at work that in the next two weeks, something had to give. Tuesday happened and boy was it a rush or what. I get the traders more so now. Sucked just watching it go up.

BTW...its going to get worse a lot worse, but you all knew that already.

Notice that Allianz AG whose affiliate Dresdner Bank is in 2002/3 sold out of large parts of their German equity holdings just after the Dax had crashed by 70% and just before the Dax rose 200% again so it´s questionable the smart money is on their side.

Nonetheless for my taste the current situation too much resembles the 20ies where rampant growth in money supply was followed by a deliberate liquidity crunch which led to the Black Friday and the ensuing Great Depression.

If only base metal stocks where I´ve put a good chunk of my money would stop trading at such ridiculous levels! They´ve gone completely out of fashion and some of them trade at as ridiculous ratios as P/E 2, EV/NPV 10 or EV/IGV 1000. I can simply hope that I don´t end up like those wretched minority shareholders of Anaconda Copper.

For instance, Pacifica Resources (PAX.TO) is valued at 60 Mio. US$ although their Howard´s Pass project in Yukon holds as much as 10% of world zinc reserves. Through a bottom-up analysis I come up with a date for Peak Zinc around 2015. If you take these two facts together, it can be calculated that a few hundred millions would be enough to corner the zinc market just as the Rothschilds and Guggenheims tried with copper 100 years ago. It would be sufficient to remove around 5-10 junior zinc companies, put their projects on stand-by and look how the supply-demand gap unfolds. This stratagy would be underpinned by the recent track record in exploration which resulted in no new major discoveries (except China which publishs cryptic informations mainly) as large SEDEX deposits are quite easy to find. On the production side, mines representing 80% of world production will reach the end of their respective mine life within the next 20 years. The situation in copper is comparable.

I was thinking of buying some NAK (Northern Dynasty Minerals), what's your take on them?

OT:Share recommendation

+ probably largest copper deposit in NA (next to Resolution)
+ low-cost through Au-Mo by-product credits / open-pit in Pebble West / high-grade underground in Pebble East
+ Rio Tinto participation is an accolade for a junior
+ politically stable (hopefully)
+ dedicated management

- start of production in 2013 (as far as I remember) a few years off
- remote location / environmental permits a problem
- had already its run

I regard Northern Dynasty as slightly undervalued. NDM is certainly nice as a portfolio diversification but for US copper plays I prefer the risk/reward ratio of Quadra Mining and Mercator Minerals which are already in production and ramping up in the next year.

This article refers to the Energy Supplies Emergency Act possibly being used in the Ontario fuel shortage.

Here is a link to the site that explains this Act.

Not sure whether its been posted but interesting BBC piece on wave power:


Oil companies collude to keep gas price low

It is unheard of in recent times in a major industrial region like Central Ontario: Hundreds of gasoline stations shut down for lack of fuel supply, with major refiners -- Shell, Petro-Canada, Sunoco -- cutting off sales of refined product to wholesalers. All reports say the situation is getting worse, with new shortages developing in other areas. Truckers are scrambling.

What's going on? In short, managed distribution. Instead of letting market forces shape the demand for gasoline, the oil industry -- for reasons unclear -- has decided to run the gasoline market the way the old Soviet Union ran shoe production. Forget supply and demand and market forces. The oil company bureaucrats have taken charge of determining who gets what fuel and when.

The result is inevitable, a situation in which shortages intensify and the imbalance in the market deteriorates further.

The right market solution to the supply disruption caused by the Feb. 15 fire at Imperial Oil's Nanticoke refenery would have been to let prices rise so that consumers can adjust their demand, refiners fine-tune supply, and outsiders get a major incentive to ship new gasoline to the market. Maybe that means gasoline at $1.20 or $1.30 a litre. Instead, the oil companies have decided to hold prices down, way below what they should be. The oil firms are, essentially, colluding to keep the price of gasoline low.

Imperial Oil spokesman Gordon Wong conceded in an interview that the current price of gasoline in Southern Ontario is not a market price. "Imperial made a conscious decision to maintain our regular pricing strategy," he said. What that means is that Imperial, the major price setter, is establishing the price of gasoline as if there were no shortages

Why is it called collusion when an industry decides not to wring the last marginal dollar out of the consumer.

It is called coopetition. The oil companies cooperated with each other, even though they are in competition, for the common good of the industry and their customers.

There would have been no advantage to any of them if gas stations started practicing predatory pricing to take advantage of Imperial.

Raising prices would not have changed anyone's need for gasoline in the Toronto area. It would just have made life more difficult for low income earners. It would very likely have created a panic, hoarding, and long lines.

By actively shutting down some stations and keeping things calm, orderly, and well managed life went on as before, albeit with slightly higher prices which are not out of line with the current price of oil and no higher than we've seen as recently as last year.

When TSHTF in the US, we'll see which approach works better. Price gouging ala market forces, or orderly management. BTW, this is Canada. If the oil companies had not cooperated (as opposed to colluding) the government would have stepped in with their heavy boots and made things much worse.

It isn't comforting to know we live so close to the edge with our just-in-time inventory systems, but I feel much better about how life may be when things get tough here in Canada after this trial balloon than I would in a similar situation down south.

Coopetition. Think about it. And a big thank you to Imperial Oil and all the other companies who have done a great job of managing a very difficult situation.

Apologies if this has already been referenced, but this is a wonderful summary of what looks to be Kurt Vonnegut's last (paid) speaking engagement.


“I’m trying to write a novel about the end of the world. But the world is really ending! It’s becoming more and more uninhabitable because of our addiction to oil.

“Bush used that line recently,” Vonnegut adds. “I should sue him for plagiarism.”

May we all look at life the way Vonnegut does.

"If this isn't nice, I don't know what is."

I hope I can hold on to that attitude even after losing my job, my house, and my freedom, all not entirely unlikely in the coming decades.

I sincerely do.

Tom A-B

Two articles that tell the story of how far we've come. Consider it a warning signal kindly provided to those who will listen. Home financing is collapsing. It will take a lot of the US and international economy with it.

This is Bloomberg and MarketWatch, not some crazy conspiracy of doom. And the subjects are not small backwoods financiers, but the world's biggest banks. They are preparing, and don't bother about doing that in secret anymore.

You were warned on March 2 2007.

Goldman, Merrill Almost `Junk,' Their Own Traders Say

Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Merrill Lynch & Co. and Morgan Stanley, which earned a record $24.5 billion in 2006, suddenly have become so speculative that their own traders are valuing the three biggest securities firms as barely more creditworthy than junk bonds.

Prices for credit-default swaps linked to the bonds of the New York investment banks this week traded at levels that equate to debt ratings of Baa2, according to Moody's Investors Service. For Goldman, Morgan Stanley and Merrill that's five levels below the actual Aa3 rating on their senior unsecured notes and two steps above non-investment grade, or junk.

Traders of credit derivatives are more alarmed than stock and bond investors that a slowdown in housing and the global equity market rout have hurt the firms. Merrill since 2005 has financed two mortgage lenders that subsequently failed and bought a third, First Franklin Financial Corp., for $1.3 billion.

``These guys have made a lot of money securitizing mortgages over the years in a mortgage boom time,'' said Richard Hofmann, an analyst at bond research firm CreditSights Inc. in New York. ``The question now is what is the exposure to credit risk and what are the potential revenue headwinds if they're not able to keep that securitization machine humming along.''

Bond default protection shoots up for banks

The cost of insurance against a default by top investment banks Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Merrill Lynch & Co Inc, Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc and Morgan Stanley ballooned this week, amid increased nervousness about their exposure to the shaky subprime lending market.

The trend toward more expensive credit-default swap protection for these four banks began last week and accelerated this week, said Michael Fuhrman, an institutional equities salesman for GFI, an inter-dealer broker for credit derivatives.

"This is a trend across the market," Fuhrman said. "Instruments of broker-dealers and institutions closest to originators of mortgages and those that securitize them have moved the most."

During the housing boom, these firms made large sums of money securitizing mortgages, but new signs of trouble in the sub-prime market have shifted the focus from profits to the credit risk and lower revenue. Sub-prime mortgages, taken out by homebuyers with below average credit ratings, generally charge rates at least two or three percentage points above prime loans.

We've been disussing this on a finance board I frequent. It a nutshell, what SHOULD it tell EVERYONE that the ibanks don't even trust each other. They know the reason they have record earnings that doubled in under five years. However it's simply game theory why they all still partake in non traditional ibanking. If GS doesnt, then LEH will. Sad...it's coming down and PO doesnt help.

Well 2 more big subprime lenders announced after the Dow closed that they are in deep trouble:


clearly the problem is worsening and either this or the carry trade problems (both of which are symptoms of the same thing) seem to have the capacity to cause immense damage. Monday on the markets may get very bloody.

Will somebody please think about the business model of the sub prime lender...they loan money to people who have had trouble paying and then say, oh shiit, they're having trouble paying!" :-O..!!! Yeah right and I'm shocked, shocked, schocked that there is gambling going on in here....
And the best part is, they loan people that have trouble paying out of other people's money, and they have trouble paying themselves!

"The company also said it expects to report a pretax loss for 2006, and that if it cannot obtain waivers from some lenders, its auditor may call into question its ability to survive."

This is supposed to be the big indicator of the health of the economy!!!
(and what any of this small time crookery and the people stupid enough to invest in it have to do with energy we'll worry about another day...
geeesh, I gotta' start hangin' out in some new haunts....
Remember, we are only one cubic mile from freedom

My mother, who grew up in the tough side of Louisville used to tell me, "If you go in a pawn shop, take your cash and walk out the door, because you ain't never getting your crap back..."

Now, the crap pawn shop comes to you....

Remember, we are only one cubic mile from freedom

A couple of comments from Nouriel's blog.


Interesting to see the acceleration to the close today in the market. Fremont Mortgage (FMT) was supposed to file paperwork with the SEC today, but as of yet has still not done so. I imagine the explanation for their delayed 2006 results is not a pretty one.


Nouriel, I owe you a beer. Just shorted FMT before close cause they had not filed paperwork. They are now down 20-30% in after hours trading. They've imploded. Check out the news releases! They, NFI, NEW are all dropping precipitously right now.


HUGE news tonight. And it's bad news.

New Century mortgage is being investigated by the Fed's and is in technical default with some of its lenders. The stock fell 30% after hours. This will have VERY negative reprecussions Monday. Details..



"deep in debt, deeper in denial"


mentions the documentary "maxed out" about credit card companies, political funding(BushCo), legislation of bankruptcy(tightening).

Worth a look - maybe you already posted it.

I don't know if I posted that link before, but we've discussed that documentary. Pretty horrifying stuff.

Hello TODers

The blogspot


recently had a post with diagrams based on EIA IPM March 2007 showing developments in world liquid energy supplies from Jan 2001 to Dec 2006, and the developments in Saudi Arabia.

Hello TODers,

No relief to drought-stricken farmers in the Southwest:
"For the past two months, I have been looking at my crops wilt and hoping the skies would open up and give us the relief rains. But nothing came, and I am now staring hunger in the face. The recent rains came when all our crops had literally died of moisture stress, so they meant nothing at all."

"We are waiting for help. Our only option is death if food aid does not come."

Darkness at Noon
Nigerians, in the end, are forced fend for themselves. And the lack of electricity is particularly rankling for many, for without it they say they're living a preindustrial existence.

"Light is a general thing. It makes jobs and when it's not there, we're useless."

"When the lights go, everything becomes so quiet," says Elegbe. "It's so boring."

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Gasoline problems in Ontario
One problem here in Ontario is our fuel supply is run like Walmart: just in time.
This article also looks at other issues related to refinery construction and repair.
It highlights that we don't have a strategic reserve here without mentioning the problem. In fact there is no stretigic plan for short term supply problems. In this case some sort of reserves of refined product to help meet demand for a few weeks. In the blackout of 2003 gasoline stations could not pump because they had no power. Mandetory generators for outlets would have been a good response to that. Instead "emergency planning" in Ontario consists of an expensive office in downtown Toronto with a flashy commissioner and spin staff and no concrete action.
I am afraid all of Canada is poorly prepared for a short term emergency and we have no long term response in place at all. All organisation is top down, bureaucratic and political and very slow to react. It took us three weeks to deploy our DART team to Shri Lanka after the tsunami and it arrived long after there was any need for its ability. (It costs 20 million CDN$ to deploy so probably only the Prime Minister can give the ok.) Heaven help Vancouver if it has a tsunami or a big quake.
Willits Calf. says it only has three days of food supply if the trucks stop coming. Ontario is going through the same lesson with gasoline.

I can't find the original Reuters link but this popped up in a CNN article from today:

'''Also limiting oil losses on Friday, output from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, excluding Iraq and Angola, fell in February, a Reuters survey showed.

The 10 OPEC members that have to comply with production targets pumped 26.63 million barrels per day (bpd), down 290,000 bpd from January.

Lower supplies from OPEC - the source of a third of the world's crude - has helped boost prices from a 20-month low of $49.90 in mid-January.''''

I didn't know Reuters surveyed the oil markets?


Well, so I end another work day with a relaxing bit of browsing about on TOD....let's see, of course we are all a twitter at the upcoming GAO report, but are heartbroken that it talks about Peak conventional oil "only" and not Peak oil pure and undistilled (no pun intended), but of course, we can see that even if it costs us a fortune in subsidies, water, soil and natural gas, ethanol is far from peak, and bio-Diesel is picking up all over the country....and let's not even talk about them tar sands, which of course aren't at peak (are they? Who can tell...how could you ever tell?)

Then of course, the string veers off into a long speech by Dick Chaney (!!!) of all people, then a short discussion of long speeches, and then, down the normal blind alley of global warming.....(it's bad, but maybe not, and even if it is bad, or if it's not, there's nothing you can do about it anyway...and it was the warmest winter on record in Shanghai, gee, do you think they have kept pretty accurate tempeture records through the world wars, the massacre's, the famines, Maoism, the cultural revolution, and the arrival of McDonalds...?)

About that time, nrgyman2000
sent me chasing down some link in an alien language (Vulcan? Native Tasmanian? No wait, I can do this, it looks just like that language the Swedish Chef spoke on the Muppets (She bor she bor....de CHICKEN!)
Let's see, the first subtitle reads, "Verda står føre eit vendepunkt", let's see...???, if you take out some of the useless syllables, I'm good at this, you should get
"Ve ar in fore eit punkt"...does that sound close?

Hidden back up in the posts was probably one of the more useful bits of info, that being that at prices around $4.00 bucks, and having to search for gasoline at various stations, Canadian driving was pretty much not impeded around Ontorio where the fuel shortage is...this backing up a friend of mine who came back from Germany after touring it in a Diesel minivan, where both gas and Diesel were at $6.00 American just after our hurricane season. She reported to me, "You know what is amazing? Even at that price, they still drive a lot and they still drive FAST!"

The good news is that I finally got my side window glass back in my 1982 Mercedes Diesel 4-cylinder, and coming home from Louisville she ran along with the traffic at 75 miles an hour....(o.k., down the hills, but you could use those to get a run for the next one...). Gee, I hope us hillbillies never have to cut back on this high livin', and conserve.....I don't know if we could take it....I did find this firm in Europe that sells vegetable oil cookware and presses, like a little "veggie oil" making kit so I can use a few local acres and maybe press out some canola oil if the need arrives....

Remember, we are only one cubic mile from freedom
(If the GAO is right, I may join those rootin' for the crash, just to not have to keep hearing about the Saudi's yankin' our chain and suckin' up our money....I don't want to find more oil and be a slave, I want that one cubic mile of FREEDOM.
Roger Conner Jr.

Roger: I have to agree with you on all the doom and gloom. What people are missing is that fortunes are going to be made because of all the upheaval and structural change caused by oil depletion. Just one example: everyone agrees that suburbia is doomed. The beneficiary: cheap ghetto-type real estate located as close as physically possible to employment centers. Many US cities have these poor, run down neighbourhoods. Developers are going to buy these up for a song, flatten all the crap and put up luxurious townhomes. The purchasers will either be former suburban dwellers or first-time buyers with excellent career prospects. Many of these residents will rarely use their car- urban transit will get increasing funding as the residents with the money demand it. IMHO, people are confusing the collapse of suburbia with the collapse of civilization. They are not even remotely similar.