DrumBeat: March 8, 2007

China to fill its 3rd strategic oil reserve

China plans to begin filling the tanks at its third strategic oil reserve in its eastern Shandong Province by the middle of this year to help secure the country's fuel supplies.

China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation (Sinopec) will complete the Huangdao base in Shandong, said Du Guosheng, assistant to the president of Sinopec.

The capacity of the Huangdao base is expected to reach 19 million barrels, Du said.

Planting Sugarcane and Reaping Poverty and Eco-Degradation in Brazil

There is concern that while expansion of the ethanol industry may boost Brazil's GDP and some Brazilians will become very wealthy in the process, the majority of the population will not benefit from the ethanol export boom. Given U.S. plans to increase imports of Brazilian ethanol and the alliance slated to be forged during Bush's South America visit in March, it is likely the livelihoods of many Brazilians, especially the rural poor, will be subordinated to maintain U.S. consumption.

John Michael Greer: Round in Circles: a review of David C. Korten’s The Great Turning

My initial take on it – based, I freely admit, on nothing more solid than a few minutes spent flipping through its pages at a local progressive bookstore – was that it was just one more naive utopian fantasy projecting its author’s dream of a world he likes onto the inkblot patterns of the deindustrial future. But I finally made time to read it, and it turns out I was quite wrong. The Great Turning is anything but naive, and though it uses the rhetoric of Utopian fantasy it does so in pursuit of a far more pragmatic agenda.

UK oil in deficit as Browns North Sea taxes bite

BRITAIN will run a deficit on its oil trade for the second year in a row in 2007, dealing a blow to Chancellor Gordon Brown’s forecast of a return to surplus. The development will fuel fresh fears that Brown’s tax hikes on the industry mean that it is now in terminal decline.

Figures from the International Energy Agency (IEA), the world’s energy watchdog, show UK oil production will fall a significant 130,000 barrels per day (bpd) short of expected demand.

Shell Nigeria Says Oil Leak Leads to Output Loss of 187,000 bpd

Royal Dutch Shell said today a major oil spill in a production facility in southern Nigeria had reduced output by 187,000 barrels per day.

Saudi Aramco Resumes Crude Flow To Bahrain Refinery

Saudi Arabian Oil Co., the world's largest oil company by production, has resumed full operations of the AB-1 pipeline transporting crude oil from Saudi Arabia to Bahrain after it was closed for unscheduled maintenance works, a company spokesman said Wednesday.

Premier says gas shortage a wake-up call for Ontario

The continuing gasoline shortage is a reminder of how the province needs to lessen its reliance on imported oil, Premier Dalton McGuinty said yesterday.

He said it is an important reminder to use more ethanol, take more public transit and drive more fuel-efficient cars, because Ontario doesn't have oil in the ground and is dependent on imports.

DOE Defends Bid to Repeal Ultra-Deepwater Research Program

Energy Department officials defended the Bush administration's effort today to repeal the ultra-deepwater oil-and-gas research program but said the program would run on its normal schedule until Congress takes action.

A cost of climate change that can't be counted in dollars - survival

Much of the early public debate about climate change focused on the need to keep the economy ticking over, protect infrastructure, and maintain tourism and recreational facilities. The real problem, though, goes much deeper. Climate change, if not constrained, is ultimately a biological threat. We have been slow to grasp this fundamental point.

What’s So Bad About Big?

Wind, solar and other renewable-energy technologies that were once considered more appropriate for single homes or small communities are reaching levels of scale and centralizing that were formerly the province of coal- and gas-fired plants and nuclear reactors. In other words, green is going giant.

Australia: Green group seeks Afghan refuge

The mining industry is engaged in a bitter row with protest group Rising Tide over an anti-mining website, which the group launched to parody the NSW Minerals Council's latest "spin" campaign.

The council succeeded earlier this week in having the website - miningnsw.com.au - shut down using copyright laws, but it has already sprung back onto the web.

The site is now hosted on servers located in Afghanistan, which could place it outside the jurisdiction of Australian law.

Stampede for Imperial Energy as Siberian reserves are confirmed

Shares in oil explorer Imperial Energy soared nearly 40 per cent to a record peak yesterday as the minnow disclosed that it has 3.4 billion barrels of reserves in Russia, as predicted by The Times.

ExxonMobil to Hand Over Orinoco Reins

ExxonMobil Corp. will cede control of its Cerro Negro operation in Venezuela's oil-rich Orinoco River basin later this year in order to comply with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's decree last week, the company said Tuesday.

Tanzania: Huge oil, gas deposits wait for investors

President Jakaya Kikwete yesterday called on investors to make full utilization of huge but untapped oil and gas potentials in the East African region.

Germany's E.on Wants to Buy Iranian Natural Gas

German energy giant E.on has confirmed it is in talks with Iran to buy natural gas -- although Germany is currently discussing further sanctions over Iran's nuclear program with its allies.

Beijing ponders new expansion formula

Chinese leaders are seeking a new formula for expansion of the world's fastest-growing economy that addresses the costs of growth such as environmental damage and a widening income gap. They want to switch to a more sustainable mode of development where China consumes and pollutes less.

But they face a quandary. While aware that China's current model of development, driven by investment and exports, is unsustainable, they fear that recalibrating the economy could result in greater unemployment and political instability. As investment growth slows, the adverse social effects might imperil the political legitimacy of the ruling Chinese Communist Party, which took power 58 years ago promising to deliver growth and rising prosperity.

Fuels of the future

'We are on the threshold of a major change and this is going to be very expensive', says the GM boss

Bush says Mexico needs private money in energy sector

President Bush urged Mexico on Wednesday to seek private investment to boost state-run oil monopoly Pemex's efforts to explore for oil in deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Bush, due to visit Mexico next week, said the country would win out from permitting extra investment that could accelerate crude oil production projects to meet growing global demand for energy.

The Energy Report for Thursday, March 8, 2007

The best description of the Department of Energy's weekly petroleum data report from yesterday could perhaps be best described as something out of this world. Once again our nation's crude oil supply is lost in a fog and is causing some traders to experience a foggy mountain breakdown.

Sustainable Living Book Helps Families Save Energy, Save Money

Sustainable Living: For Home, Neighborhood and Community is about using less energy, spending less money, and enjoying it more. It's about how neighbors can benefit from working and sharing together. And it's about how all of a community's neighborhoods and residents can benefit from cooperative effort.

Sustainable Living is not about buying greener things; it's about buying fewer things. It's about spending less money, and getting more out of life--and helping the planet at the same time.

Declare Energy Independence

Fact: All forms of energy are subsidized. Oil. Gas. Coal. Nuclear. Renewables. All of them. No type of energy stands alone in the market, free of tax breaks, research grants or other forms of government help. Fact: Subsidies are ultimately funded by the taxes we pay.

Few except pure libertarians would do away with all government intervention in the energy marketplace. But the salient question is, given the increasing problems connected with conventional energy, which subsidies make sense and which don’t?

It'll take a village to sustain this proposed community garden

Harvested in Maui, sugar cane is sent to a processing plant in Contra Costa County and then to New York for packaging. After that, those tiny C&H sugar packets are shipped all over the United States — including back to Hawaii.

"That means even if you live just a mile from the sugar cane fields, your sugar traveled 10,000 miles."

Yes, Profits Matter

New technology — courtesy of those obscene big oil profits — is proving that the world's fossil fuel is long from running out. Cambridge Energy Research Associates head Daniel Yergin, author of a Pulitzer Prize-winning history of the global oil industry, estimates new methods mean the worlds' total recoverable oil is 4.8 trillion barrels — three times more than what peak oil theorizers suggest.

Emerald greening: Kinsale joins Willits in seeking energy self-sufficiency

Residents of Kinsale, in Ireland's County Cork, are creating projects and working groups to promote energy efficiency and local sustainability. The move, which they hope will wean Kinsale off its dependence on fossil fuels, is being aided by the youthful energies of the area's Permaculture College.

As biofuels boom, will more go hungry?

Using plants to feed our fuel needs may be a great idea, and the biofuel goldrush could be a moneyspinner for several poor countries, but some experts warn people may go hungry as food prices rise.

Fans of biofuels give the impression we could soon be running cars on maize, producing electricity with sugar, and getting power from palm oil.

Even though the biofuel boom is only just beginning, it has already pushed up the cost of staples in places like Mexico where rocketing tortilla prices have sparked angry protests.

Some experts foresee a permanent change in food economics if farmers scent higher profit in fuel crops than in growing plants to feed people.

Tom Whipple - The Peak Oil Crisis: Our 4 Storms

Until last week, a good guess would have been that shortages in oil available for export would impact us first. This would be followed by economic decline, peak oil production, and finally a meaningful reduction in the burning of fossil fuel in response to global warming. News from the last few weeks, however, makes it look like more of a horse race.

Gas tops $3 mark in Calif. Is rest of U.S. next?

Gasoline prices have jumped above $3 a gallon in some parts of California and Hawaii, and may hit that level in other parts of the country when the busy summer driving season approaches.

“It kills me,” said Gloria Nunez, 53, as she filled her Ford Explorer SUV at a San Jose gas station. Nunez, a clerk for a communications company, has started working a couple hours of overtime each week to help soften the blow.

Angola to see $50 billion oil investment: Sonangol

Angola is expected to see $50 billion in investments in its oil industry in the next six years, the head of state oil company Sonangol was quoted on Thursday as saying.

Sonangol Chairman Manuel Vicente made the prediction despite the collapse of two major international energy deals and the possibility of renewed political tension after the main opposition leader said policemen may have tried to assassinate him.

Stocks' Swoon Finally Hits Oil

The past week's disconnect between crude oil prices and the decline of stocks may be starting to unravel as oil traders grapple with a fundamental issue: How sound is China's economy?

China's crude oil imports may rise 10.3% in 2007

China's 2007 crude oil imports are expected to rise 10.3% to 160 million metric tons, equivalent to 3.2 million barrels a day, said the China Petrochemical News Thursday, citing officials from China Petrochemical Corp., or Sinopec Group.

The projected rise would mean another double-digit growth for China's crude imports after last year's 14.4% expansion.

March 10 Saturday Frederick MD 1pm-4pm

Frederick Friends Meetinghouse
(723 N. Market Street; Frederick, Maryland)

A free Conference and Workshop
-John Darnell, on Global Warming and Peak Oil
-A Carbon Footprint quiz for everyone
-A Green table of energy conscious products
-Literature table
-Jim Wagner, on the relatedness of peace to energy and the environment.
-Linda Lipscomb, on wind power and local legislation
-Ian Tasker, on redefining prosperity, to live sustainably
-Hybrid & Alternatively-fueled vehicles show
-Live music by local artists

Call Jim Wagner at 301-682-4836, or rengawpj@hotmail.com


Today's Round-Up addresses these intersecting issues, with the addition of 'economic' to the categories listed above. It might especially appeal to anyone interested in the fortunes of the US housing market.

Out of the Fat and into the Fire

Don't fire up your biofuel stills just yet. You may get a visit from the Revenuers.

State makes big fuss over local couple's vegetable oil car fuel

Declining oil exports

I think this may be a good time to review an article that was posted by ASPO Portugal over at Energy Bulletin a few months ago about declining oil exports due to increased internal consumption.

An assessment of world oil exports by Luís de Sousa

This article is behind a paywall, but it looks interesting, if someone has a subscription:

Pemex Defends Deepwater Potential

With allegations surfacing in the Mexican press this week that state-owned oil and gas monopoly Pemex overestimated its much-touted deepwater and ultra-deepwater reserves, analysts and oil professionals are once again casting heavy scrutiny on the validity of the company's assertions.

Well, Dante had some light to shed on this story:

Estimates of offshore reserves were reduced by 60%, per El Universal on March 3.

I gather that even the reduced estimate would not meet US standards for proven reserves.

they want someone else to spend the cash so they don't have to? No cuts to the government income? hmmmm....

Here's another one:

Peak Oil is Dead, truth is, there's too much oil.


Daniel Yergin is starting to remind me of Dick Cheney--Peak Oil is in its last throes and all. Interesting that a massive increase in reserves due to "new technology" is not merely theoretical, whereas Peak Oil is. Never mind that oil-producing regions are peaking one by one.

And since supply problems will be blamed on the lack of (private) corporate involvement, it's not much of a stretch to predict that GWB will offer Mexico military assistance in exchange for letting US Oil Interests "help" them with their production problems.

Convienently, there could be other ways of blaming loss of supply as well, such as a war with Iran. It's not peak oil, it's those pesky Axis of Evil-doers causing the problem...we should bomb them. Or something, like that...

I don't think in 2007Q4, we will see Bush, or any other major leader for that matter, stand up and say..."that's it, the party is over, we have passed peak oil...please stop using your cars...and file to the exit."

So, the first scenario, becomes more disturbing.

It's all about population!

He reminds me more of the Iraqi information officer who kept telling reporters in Baghdad that US soldiers were nowhere near the city and being defeated all over the country - as troops were entering.

Don't worry. There is plenty of oil.

This guy at Motley Fool is bailing on Apple because of peak oil (among other reasons):

This is the most significant one for me choosing to bail out now. I want the money to invest elsewhere. I've become convinced by the peak oil argument, and think it's happening right about now. Coincidentally oil companies are good value right now with low P/Es and good dividends. If my feeling for peak oil recession might be on the way, but with oil companies going against the trend. If I'm not right, then I'm buying oil companies cheap and they should outperform anyway.

I am directly invested in oil, and am seriously considering buying oil stocks, but markets can be irrational.

For what it is worth, I bought BP's ADRs for $5.25 near the market bottom in 1974 [one of my earliest forays into the market.] BP was IIRC trading for 3.5 times earnings and paid a $.40 dividend. By that sort of yardstick, oil stocks aren't that cheap now.

1974 looked like the end of the world to a lot of people at the time. I suspect that if peak oil is sneaking up on us, that sort of sentiment [or worse] will become prevalent again.

A really nasty recession / bad stock market decline will tend to sink all ships.

This article in bloomberg indicates that most economists think the US economy will not go into recession, but will experience modest growth in 2007, especially in the latter half of the year.


Two points on this. First I find this comment by an economist disturbing:

"Consumer spending is critical, and I think it'll be just fine. I don't see any evidence that consumers are suddenly ratcheting up their savings."

How perverse is it that an economist finds it reassuring that Americans are not going to start saving?

Secondly, if the economists are right and there is modest growth in the US and world, we will find out this summer if SA can increase oil production significantly or not. If, however, the world goes into recession, SA may not be put to the test.

Phineas: IMHO, the majority of these "economists" are just mouthpieces. The game is to get quoted in the media so they can get their employer's name mentioned. Basically, it is free advertising masquerading as "business news".

Retailers post disappointing Feb. sales.

and from a survey of economists "...consumer spending is critical, and I think it'll be just fine."


And PO (is/is not, is/is not, is/is not) happening.
I'm so confused...
WT your Iron triangle is getting a workout.

Ethanol investors want the incentives

Bankers and analysts told lawmakers Wednesday that ethanol remains risky for investors and that both Wall Street and local investors will need government incentives to sustain the biofuel's growth.

Rising plant capacity and falling shares of ethanol companies are making new projects more difficult to finance, witnesses told a House Agriculture subcommittee.

The development could make it more difficult to reach President Bush's goal of 35 billion gallons of alternative fuels use, including ethanol, by 2017.

Maintaining the current 51-cents-a-gallon tax credit for blenders of ethanol and the 54-cent tariff on ethanol imports will help maintain the predictability investors need, especially those outside rural America, Doug Stark, president of Farm Credit Services of America in Omaha, said at the hearing.

"Although ethanol has generated tremendous interest from Wall Street and other non-rural investors, that interest can evaporate quickly when the economics of the industry change."

Some little bell was ringing with this ongoing Ethanol Investment v. Subsidy question..

I think it's the metaphor of presenting to the patent office your new Perpetual Motion Machine, while you still have a hand under the table (read, 'Subsidy'), providing a bit of unseen input energy, or 'Spin' perhaps, to keep the wheels going.

The nub being, is this priming the pump, or running the pump?

Bob Fiske

Leanan is slanting his choices of news articles to smear ethanol again. Just to provide a little balance:

The ethanol industry continues to innovate:

Louisville eyed for ethanol plant

"The plant would use 60-foot wind turbines, solar panels and a geothermal system to limit outside energy demands. The company projects 60 full-time jobs with an annual payroll of $2 million."

The US Department of Energy just set up funding for six ethanol plants (real plants-not pilot projects) that will make ethanol from cellulose or food waste.
U.S. DOE to Invest in Cellulose-to-Ethanol Projects

This one caught my eye:
"One of those six proposals was submitted by the Irvine, California-based company, BlueFire Ethanol Inc., which was awarded up to $40 million to develop a biorefinery plant atop a landfill in Southern California. Set to produce about 19 million gallons of ethanol a year, the plant would use 700 tons per day of sorted green waste and wood waste from landfills when the plant begins operations in 2009."

The cellulose-degrading enzyme Pichia stipitis has recently been sequenced.

Super-fermenting fungus genome sequenced

"P. stipitis is the most proficient microbial fermenter in nature of the five-carbon “wood sugar” xylose—abundant in hardwoods and agricultural leftovers, which represent a motherlode of bioenergy fodder."

Of course, Bush and Silva are setting up an international market for ethanol.

And the Renewable Fuels Association, an ethanol industry consortium, has recently published a good primer on the current ethanol industry. I noticed a few errors but it is very good overall. Read this to balance out the misinformation that often appears on this site.

Industry Outlook 2007

If we processed LSD or meth using wind turbines, solar, geothermal, cattle methane, or whatever renewable you want, would that make it right?

Are you saying that there is something morally wrong with turning landfill waste into a fuel? Geez

Are you saying that the landfill waste project is using wind turbines, solar, and geothermal? If you re-read the post, its the corn ethanol plant in Kentucky that says they will use those renewables. If you read Alan's post below, you'll see why you might want to shy away from investing in this company. From the brief description, the landfill project sounds like a good one.

AFAIK, wind in Kentucky has "very limited potential". Ohio has some, but not the southern border.

Geothermal heat is NA (perhaps they mean ground loop heat pumps ? But those are designed for low temps). Solar PV in Kentucky is not even close to economic economic yet (lots of cheap coal fired power). And solar process heat is feasiable for limited use for at least a few months/year.

Sounds like hype & smoke to me. I just do not believe it.

Best Hopes for avoiding scams.


Heat pumps can easily reach temps of 140F which is more than enough for fermentation and if combined with vacuum distillation is plenty hot enough for that. Naval vessels use vacuum distillation using steam engine exhaust for heat. The technology is there if the capital is there.

That's the perfect temp for making wort for beer.

140F is great for mashing grain, but fermentation is done around 70F.

What is Thomas talking about? Do ethanol plants us a yeast strain that likes 140F?!?

If they can reach 140F efficiently then they can maintain 70F even more efficiently. Heat pumps could reach even higher temps efficiently if the heat source is hotter. For instance taking heat from the condensors and pumping it into the distilling towers. The temp difference is small so the coefficient of performance will be high. Is the extra cost of such equipment justified? Beats me.

They build this biomass plant on top of a landfill and then start using "the most proficient microbial fermenter" to eat up the stuff of the landfill. Yet another plan comes together!

cfm in Gray, ME

Pichia stipitis is neither an enzyme or a fungus. It is a yeast.

I am sure that when Leanan finds an article about a plant that can convert even 1000 barrels per day of cellulose to ethanol she will have it posted before you can properly define Pichia stipitis.

Actually, I've previously posted all those stories (or someone else has). My view of news is that it should be, oh, maybe...new?

Details, details....

Here's a new one...

to which I can only say: OH, REALLY?

World demand growth set to double (?!)

I would be interested in seeing what the final price would be for a gallon of ethanol from these plants. Any figures? Please provide final price and unsubidized price.

The fact that the DOE has set up funding for six ethanol plants means absolutely nothing with respect to the economic or energetic feasibility of those plants except for the fact that they are being subsidized.

Here is hoping a miracle occurs and ethanol lets us continue our Happy Motoring with minimal impacts on our land, air, and water.

Actually, the landfill idea sounds promising; it seems like it makes sense to produce some fuel from all that waste.

I have no idea what the total ethanol subsidies are, but here are today's commodity prices converted to MMBtus:

April NYMEX Natural Gas: $7.23 MMBtu
April NYMEX RBOB Gasoline: $15.94 MMBtu
April CBOT Ethanol: $30.33 MMBtu

This is based on ethanol at 77815 btu/gallon. Converting natural gas into ethanol liquid fuel is quite a value add, eh?

Then there's these:

More Amateurs to Build Ethanol Plants

How to Make an Easy $875,000

My conclusion:

I will say again: When a commodity has such incredibly low barriers to entry, it is only a matter of time before capacity is overbuilt and the price crashes. That's why I expect ethanol producers to continue lobbying congress to increase the amount of mandated ethanol usage and to accelerate the timeline. Otherwise, a lot of ethanol producers will struggle to stay in business in the next few years as their increased demand for corn continues to increase the price, while all the new ethanol capacity is flooding the market. Profit margins will evaporate (although corn farmers should earn a windfall). What we may see is a bail out reminiscent of the Savings and Loan debacle of the 1980's.

Khosla is also in the news again, and I am about to address his claims in a new essay. And now that my Internet seems to be connected, I will be writing some essays for TOD. My plan is to address the fact that the oil majors have been unable to replace their reserves in recent years.

looking forward to them. At some point the oil cos. loose their appeal, i.e. reserve depletion vs reserve appreciation (in $)....

I have absolutely no problem with hard-hitting journalism or factual scientific analysis on biofuels and ethanol in particular.

The constant stream of utter biofuel nonsense that continues to be highlighted in the Drumbeats, however, is deplorable if not an insult to the intelligence of the TOD community.

TOD was once home to serious, empirical discussion re: Peak Oil and the consequences thereof, coupled with a dash of doomeristic and smart debate on the socio-economic strategies needed to mitigate or in the worst case, survive Peak Decline.

Now, unfortunately, we must wade our way through a never ending stream of blatantly false, straw man assertions:

"Fans of biofuels give the impression we could soon be running cars on maize, producing electricity with sugar, and getting power from palm oil."


"Even though the biofuel boom is only just beginning, it has already pushed up the cost of staples in places like Mexico where rocketing tortilla prices have sparked angry protests."


"In order to satisfy future global demand, Brazil will need to clear an additional 148 million acres of forest..."

Biofuels fellow TODers... whether it be BioOil, biobutanol, biomethanol, biodiesel derived from soy, palm, algae or jatropha circas, SunOil, Ecalene, Envirolene, 02diesel, USSEB fuel or bioethanol derived from switchgrass, Megaflora, wood chips, orange peels, DECs, corn stover, green waste, hemp, MSW, landfil gas, biogas and yes, even corn and sugar cane, will ALL be produced by the world's governments in their respective attempt to mitigate the inevitable.

Why? Because Peak Oil portends a liquid transportation fuels crisis the likes of which we cannot fathom, ergo renewable alternatives must be able to bridge the gap away from petroleum and the existing transportation infrastructure that supports modern society.

Biofuels do exactly that. They are not by any means a silver bullet, however, biofuels will be part of the Peak Decline solution - irrespective of personal agendas.

Now in light of this obvious reality, will the editors please step up and tell us HOW it can possibly be to the benefit of the TOD community to constantly highlight the idiotic biofuel hit-pieces in liu of those articles that objectively and scientifically analyze what is right and/or wrong with biofuels, the feedstocks, the production paths and potential therein?

The utter stupidity that swells from many pro bio-fuel pieces and comments will have to be balanced somehow sometime.

Tell you what...

If you go through the TOD Drumbeats and pull out the the utterly stupid pro-biofuel articles, I'll go through and pull out the utterly stupid anti-biofuel articles.

We'll add them up and see just how 'balanced' the representation has been.

Sound fair?

Sounds superfluous more than anything else. There's silly things from both sides. Like unless you would want to deny that corn-ethanol has by now had an impact on grain prices, why dismiss the item about Mexico the way you do?

But more importantly: accusing Leanan of being biased towards rejecting ethanol viability is ridiculous. Why would she? Think she wouldn't like to see an alternative energy form develop that might mitigate at least some of the consequences of peak oil? Thing is, there's nothing out there but promises, and lots of them are hollow. And you get no energy from promises, they suck out at least as much as they deliver. So far.

If there's people here who feel the entire site is biased against ethanol, then go somewhere that tickles your fancy.

The problem is that ethanol in the US is the field of ADM, Khosla and politicians seeking easy vote returns.

On a personal note: yes, I'm sick of reading yet more claims of things that "will" develop in some future time. I think it's very dangerous to get people to rely on them. And I still haven't seen anything that has produced more than drops in buckets. It's all talk about technologies that might or might not be proven, and it doesn't stop. More receding horizons.

Fusion is a proven technology. Yet it will never be an energy source.

Two inexcusable biofuels premises, at present, are that 1) we don't have to conserve--biofuels will ramp up to take over where FF's leave off. Keep buying SUV's. This is a huge injustice to the sheeple. The subsidization of ethanol before the practice of conservation in this country is a sham. And, 2) In the future we'll continue motoring along on liquid fuels--this is nonnegotiable.
I am actually hopeful that some form of liquid fuel might have a high enough EROEI that it might be used locally in ag areas to fuel ag needs someday. If you are the resident expert here on biofuels, instead of bashing us here at TOD, like above, please, we implore you to share your knowledge in a positive way, informing us about the promising technologies which you think will be worth pursuing and technical reasons as to why, providing links to important articles.
Anyone on this forum who is a taxpayer realizes that his/her revenues are being used to ramp up biofuels now. I'd like to see some of my tax $ going towards wind, solar, battery development, electric vehicles, and, most importantly, rail expansion. What it comes down to is how is our tax money best spent in solving this FF depletion.
In the future, if we can travel by electric rail, electric bikes, electric Sparrow-like cars, GEM cars, etc., then we may be able to use a limited amount of biofuels for ag use, and our ever dwindling amount of FF's will be used for the "other" category of oil uses which are so important and we often forget about in this decline, plus, (shocker here) maybe save some for future generations.
If my grandchildren want to move to Oregon someday, I hope they may be able to do so in a very small electric vehicle or by rail. That sure would beat a covered wagon pulled by horses. But I personally, do not think E-85 will be taking them there.
How's that for a smart debate on the socio-economic strategies needed to mitigate or in the worst case, survive Peak Decline?

Smart debate is all that I ask Kalpa.

I've already outlined for you my contributions to this community but please note that my name does not appear in the right-hand margin.

That said, I too hope that one day your grandchildren will be able to move to Oregon if not Canada, however, the odds are that even IF they were to arrive by small electric vehicle, they will almost assuredly need an onboard liquid fuel component.

And with that I'll leave you with the following:

There are no inexcusable biofuel premises except those that you choose to assign.

The vast, vast majority of articles in the MSM are uncritical heralds of ethanol as the quick'n'ez drop-in replacement for petroleum. You know this is nonsensical.

Look at the numbers, look at the sheer volumes of stuff involved. Look at acreages. Look at food needs. Etc., etc. It's absurd.

But yes, biofuels will be part of some peak-PO solution, irrespective of personal agendas, even yours.

I think you and Keithster are not without obvious personal agendas, and to characterize articles that point out the bullshit aspects of the ethanol rush, which are multifarious, as "idiotic hit-pieces" is way over-reaching. And to dis Leanan the way Keithster did is out of line.

In my opinion.

Sgage - Please note that my post was a personal observation and not a personal attack.

Biofuels, as you freely admit, will play a role in some PO solution - whatever it may be.

That being the case, I think we are much better served through balanced, scientific discussion on the merits of all biofuels/feedstocks/production paths, as opposed to the constant focus on the negative and outright fallacious.

It is a waste of time.

Case in point:

TODers should know by now that the rising cost of Mexican tortillas and subsequent protests had much more to do with price gouging middle men than ethanol. And yet here again today, not only is another article on the subject presented but this erroneous fact is pulled from the article and highlighted.

For what purpose does this serve?

Other recurring MSM gems include the claims that the biofuel industry is going to use all the arable land, or that biofuel production negates conservation or that biofuel supporters all think that we can replace gasoline with ethanol - presto chango!

This is utter and complete nonsense.

I know not of a single person in the biofuel industry who has ever stated such ridiculous things. NOT A ONE! And yet again and again, these types of straw man assertions get pulled into the TOD.

You're right to accuse me of having a personal agenda... I want to mitigate the effects of Peak Oil decline.

Sgage seems to be implying with "look at the sheer volumes" that you've got to have (at least) a decent back-of-the-envelope calculation *before* you get "scientific discussion" about things.

There are TOD posters who can show decent back-of-the-envelope stuff for, for instance, Stirling Engines and wind. That doesn't guarantee a doom-free future, but it's a pre-requisite for further discussion.

So...fire away!

I think you miss an important point Syntec: it will likely be brewing biofuels at the expense of starvation.

Global grain stockpiles are at lowest for 25 years (56 days supply last I looked and if I remember right), global production has been below consumption for 7 of last 8 years. Grains - particularly rice - are very sensitive to too high temperature, there is some evidence that yields in important areas are already being reduced by higher temperatures - as well as by drought which is probably largely masking that effect. The research I've seen suggests a 5 to 15% reduction in yield of grain crops for a 1 C rise in temperature beyond their ideal.

Though we in rich countries are largely insulated from it so far, peak food is just about here already. The US might experience this first by proxy as Mexican corn flour prices rise.

Saying 'Let them sniff gasolene' (paraphrasing Marie Antoinette) is unlikely to endear you to the hungry. Bioethanol from corn is morally and technically sick. There is some case for bioethanol and biodiesel from crops grown on marginal (rather than prime) agricultural land. There is a bigger case for grazing animals more naturally and ceasing feeding them processed grain based feeds.

I hope that explains the basics of my and perhaps others at TOD prejudice again certain biofuels. Don't get me wrong, there are promising possibilities for producing gasoline alternatives from crops and waste and I really do hope they will work and make a difference, I want news of them and want to encourage them. But the misuse of prime agricultural land for marginally EROEI efficient crops for fuel (as in ethanol from corn) is morally reprehensible IMO.

I can't say that I agree with your logic Agric, nor can I subscibe to the belief of 'peak food'.

Millions of people starve in the world today as a result of inequitable food & wealth distribution fostered in part by protectionist and unfair trade policies.

This, my friend, is a sad fact and if you want but a taste of it, I suggest you watch Darwin's Nightmare.

That's not to say that I don't see problems on the horizon - the 2 largest for me being the quaint reporting on the state of the planet's fish stocks and honeybees but I can't solve those issues.

Yourself and others may see US corn->ethanol as a moral dilemma, however, US corn does not feed the world's hungry - it never has.

No, heavily subsidized, US GM corn underwrites and sustains factory meat production and if you really want to save the environment, save the rainforest, reduce GHG emissions, replenish the water table AND feed the world's hungry... this may be a better place to start.

You may not WANT to believe in starvation, but I recently read an article that stated 15% of AMERICANS go hungry at some point during the month. You will probably reply it is their personal decisions that cause them to go hungry. I will save us some time and reply to that ahead of time. It is ECONOMIC decisions made by this Government and Corporate interests that creates the environment that leads to the world these people live in. It's almost an unspoken rule that you don't admit that these decisions have an actual REAL WORLD effect on peoples lives.

Well said Syntec. The tendency to irrationally believe in what one wants to believe in, or what one has an interest to believe in, is alive and well on TOD. Empirical reasoning is generally given a short shrift, as that is the toughest way to gain knowledge, and believing in stuff is always so much easier than having to understand stuff.

The agenda to cripple the USA (and by extension the West) by denying it oil motivates a lot of people. Fact is that there are substitutes for oil and thermo-chemical fuels can easily substitute for any decline in oil, if the price is right. In fact it can be argued that the price of thermo-chemical ethanol is already right.

In addition the new nano-lithium battery technology can make the USA independent of foreign oil, peak oil or not. With nano-lithium, you can completely fill your car's gas tank with $3.00 worth of clean electricity. Sorry, but the empire is not going to collapse so easily.

Modern agriculture requires the use of oil to grow food in the form of pesticides and fertilizers and to run farm machinery. Electricity generation predominantly uses natural gas in the US. Natural gas production is in severe decline in North America and is difficult to convert to LNG and ship in any great quantity. There are questions about meeting next winter's demand for NG. We almost didn't make it this winter. That is why there is such a great push to build coal-fired plants currently. Natural gas will not be available as a substitute for anything let alone to process tar sands or use in coal liquification. Tack on the devastation of the honeybee population and we will be hard pressed to meet food needs let alone expand ethanol production. All incentives towards ethanol production would do is cause farmers to convert food production and livestock feed production to ethanol. This would create a food shortage and increase food prices, expanding the number of people going hungry in America and creating great hardship for those on the lower end of the economic ladder. Even without Ethanol production we face substantial declines in food production as world oil and North American natural gas production declines. Hunger is real. As malnutrition increases, so will death from disease. A pandemic could result. Christian Children's Fund will be showing you pictures of children from American cities you can support for less than the price of a gallon of gasoline.
Where food is concerned, demand destruction = starvation.

Biomass thermo-chemical or lignocellulosic ethanol does not require natural gas or oil. And you cannot feed starving children wood chips or biomass.

There is enough coal in the US and elsewhere to produce the necessary electricity for NEV (nano-lithium electric vehicles). No LNG is needed. Of course if you can put up with the emissions.

Furthermore, a study was recently released that the grid has enough capacity to charge 100 million or more plug-ins (PHEV, BEV, and NEV). (Link upon request).

Where is your study that relates starving children to thermo-chemical ehtanol or NEVs? Link pls. Besides, starving children is rarely due to high price of corn. It is mainly due to population explosion and bad government. But in any case, the discussion is not about corn based ethanol.

The Fractionation of lignocellulosic biomass is energy intensive. "In the reactive fractionation step, hemicellulose is most easily hydrolyzed, requiring a
mild alkaline solution and temperatures in the range of 150 to 200 °C (302 to 392 °F). Next,
lignin is removed under more severe conditions requiring a pH above 10, temperatures less than
250 °C (482 °F), the presence of an oxidizing agent, and pressures below 600 psi. The resulting
"clean" cellulose is mostly free of lignin and hemicellulose and is a purified feedstock for
enzymatic hydrolysis." Where do you get the energy to heat your biomass?


Your statement is also misleading. The govt. is not specifically discussing incentives for converting biomass to ethanol, it IS discussing corn production, and your statement does not address mine that incentives will lead to farmers converting food and livestock feed production to ethanol production.

"Besides, starving children is rarely due to high price of corn. It is mainly due to population explosion and bad government."

I'm sure there is a special place in hell being prepared for you as we speak, high prices for food = demand destruction = starvation. Extremely simple equation. If you think people who cannot afford to eat will just lie down in the streets to die, I suggest you look at France just before the revolution and Czarist Russia just before the revolution.

Where do you get the energy to heat your biomass?

Simple, burn some biomass. Biomass is best suited for heating. Funny that you hadn't thought about this ?! Unless you can give me numbers such as ratio of non-biomass energy input to fuel energy output (ERORI), such links you have provided are meaningless and rhetorical.

and your statement does not address mine that incentives will lead to farmers converting food and livestock feed production to ethanol production

I don't address this because it is off-topic. If you want to start another thread about the 12% of corn output being diverted to ethanol today, be my guest. This (sub)thread is about non-corn, non-grain biofuels.

I'm sure there is a special place in hell being prepared for you as we speak, high prices for food = demand destruction = starvation

So how is it that you spend hundreds of dollars at the grocery store and live in a costly home, wasting so much energy and food, when you could move to Southern Lebanon and live in a dump and save your money for the starving children?

Fact is that IT IS NOT A RIGHT TO HAVE 6 children. Parents who have 6 children each are responsible for producing starving children. Not only they cannot feed these kids, but they cannot rear them decently and pay the necessary attention to them and invariably they are illiterate and without productive skills.

If you wish to cut hunger in 30 years, then you need to stop people from having more than 1 or 2 children. It is not a right to overbreed as long as the rest of humanity is burdened by hungry mouths. Nature has a way to deal with overbreeding. I think humans are somewhat superior to animals and can control their own overbreeding. But of course that requires an extra bit of consciousness.

So unless you talk about this root cause, it is quite hypocritical for you to blame others who consume food and energy as being insensitive to hungry children, a problem that is not of their own making to begin with, and then wish them hell. BTW I am not religious, so what do you mean by hell?

NG...almost didn't make it this winter.

I've gotta bite on that one. What are you talking about? I've heard this year called a "natural gas hangover" -- so much gas in storage that it was causing production shutdowns!

Hi Keithster100,

Don't get too upset with Leanan or the general bias against ethanol of this site. The general site premise as shown by today's lead post is excellent. If peak oil is true, and I think it is, it will soon become obvious to all that there is bias and error here. When the resident ethanol expert works for an oil company, what can you expect? When EROEI is repeatedly used to knock ethanol without applying it to electricity production, what can you expect? When ethanol is criticized for using natural gas, but electricity plants using natural gas are rarely mentioned in the same breath, what can you expect? When ethanol subsidies are repeatedly criticised without mentioning the oil depletion allowance, the strategic petroleum reserve, royalty payment in kind, or even the Iraq war black hole, what can you expect? Just ignore it if you can and reap the benefit of the many smart people here who are still, after all, just human like you and me.

When the resident ethanol expert works for an oil company, what can you expect?

Likewise, when the promoters of ethanol are ethanol investors like Keithster, corn farmers like yourself, and people involved in ethanol research like Syntec, what can you expect? But of course if that was the extent of my point I would be committing an ad hominem fallacy.

At the end of the day, you have to address the arguments and the data. No matter who I am. And for the record, I don't have an ethanol-bias. I think corn ethanol is bad energy policy and a waste of time and money. I think sugarcane ethanol is quite promising. I favor cellulosic ethanol research, and I think biomass gasification - with ethanol as one potential product - is the future. So don't let your biases get in the way of telling the truth.

Well and gently done, RR. Sometimes I feel sad that I need consider people's agendas in what they say, it's getting more so at TOD lately perhaps, I sense that some vested interests are making an effort. You and near all the 'oldsters' remain true to our scientific purpose in near all you say, that's not easy given the provocations.

Who is paying you Keithster?

You are the most transparent paid flack I have seen here yet.

Someone yesterday questioned the HL numbers for Russia. They never made any sense to me either. So I decided to look into it a little more closely.

Here's the chart from Khebab's website. (Thank you)


I just can't see how the HL for Russia works. The explanation I've seen given is that the current increase above the red line is making up for poor maintenance and technology during the fall of the USSR.

Anyways, Qinf is 157.52 and Qt is currently 138.8.

That leaves 18.72 GB remaining in the ground. (Supposedly)

Production is 9.2 million barrels per day. 3.3 GB per year.

18.72 / 3.3 is 5.6 years of oil left at current production rates. Obviously they aren't gonna pump at this rate right up to the last drop...

So I did a little math, and in order for that HL Qinf to be right, Russia needs to start declining at 18% a year! Now maybe I'm wrong, but oil producing regions just don't decline that fast. At least I've never heard of any. Not to mention Russia is expecting a 100,000 bpd gain next year!

Now maybe the production numbers for Russia are skewed with NGL or some other unconventional crude sources. I don't know. Maybe someone can explain it to me.

I'm not a mathmatician, and I'm certainly not in the oil patch, but it sure as hell looks like they are tapping into new found reserves to me, or recovering at a much higher rate then before...

Either way - they aren't anywhere near 90% depletion.

And if the HL for Russia can't be trusted, then I wouldn't be too confident hanging my hat on the HL numbers for Saudi Arabia.

Debunk away.



Of course, the Lower 48, North Sea, Mexico and Saudi Arabia are declining right along the predicted HL plot.

Russia hit the 50% of Qt mark in 1984, and it made just below 11 mbpd to just above 11 mbpd from the five years prior to 1984 to the five years after 1984.

And then production collapsed in 1990, following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

If you look at the Russian production graph, the really big increase in production has been fairly recently.

In any case, if we take the production data for the Lower 48 and Russia only through their respective 50% of Qt marks and generate post-50% of Qt production graphs, the Lower 48 and Russia are both about 90% depleted, and the post-50% cumulative production in both cases has been about 100% of what the HL models predicted.

The ultra deep stuff in the Gulf of Mexico could increase the Lower 48 URR somewhat, and frontier basins in Russia could shift the Russian URR somewhat.

In any case, it's a waiting game for Russia. IMO, they should start reporting lower oil production this year, but no later than next year.

Finally, look at the totality of the above facts, and give me another cumulative production predictive tool that has been more accurate.

BTW, if you want a small scale example of a production rebound in a very mature province, from 12/05 to 12/06 the US showed an 8% increase C+C production. How can this be if the US is in decline? Of course, we were just bringing wells back on line and making up for what was not produced after the hurricanes--in the same way, on a larger scale, that Russia (as the HL model shows) has been making up for what was not produced following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

"from 12/05 to 12/06 the US showed an 8% increase C+C production"

According to the EIA's recent outlook, '07 and '08 will combine for a 500 kb/d increase in the US. This is quite a feat, considering we have declined each of the last 11 years.


Could it be possible that once you get to the 80-90% range of HL, production levels off instead of continuing down? In other words, as you get near the end, do reservoirs stop declining and level out at some minimal production for a long period?


And if the HL for Russia can't be trusted, then I wouldn't be too confident hanging my hat on the HL numbers for Saudi Arabia.

Well, since Saudi Arabia is declining as predicted, and since Russia has only just recently made up for what was not produced following the Soviet collapse, why wouldn't we turn the argument around, i.e., the Saudi production decline strongly suggests that Russia is on the verge of a production decline/crash.

I appreciate your comments. And Russia could very well be on the verge of a big crash. However...

The largest decline rates are seen in offshore oil fields. As far as I know (correct me if I'm wrong) Russia production is almost all onshore.

Decline rates of 10-13% are considered huge and seem to be the province of off shore oil fields such as the North Sea and Cantarell. (Presumably because infield drilling is very expensive??)

The mainland US seems to be a more realistic comparison. And that's declining at what, 2-4%?

Even if we figured 5% decline rates for Russia, that would give them a URR in the neighborhood of 190GB rather then the current prediction of 157GB.

As for your suggestion to use Saudi Arabia as the rule, and infer large Russian declines, I think that is very dangerous. Saudi Arabia is an enigma. The little data we do have is ancient, not to mention their known history of turning the oil spigots on and off over the past 20 years. If decreased production in Russia can result in increased production later (to catch up), why can't the same be true for Saudi Arabia?

Peak Oil is an extremely controversial theory with extremely powerful opponents. We can ill afford another false prediction of the peak.


If decreased production in Russia can result in increased production later (to catch up), why can't the same be true for Saudi Arabia?

Peak Oil is an extremely controversial theory with extremely powerful opponents. We can ill afford another false prediction of the peak.

To some extent, the Russian and Saudi case histories are similar, but my basic premise is that once the HL plot starts showing a strong linear progression, most likely with a P/Q intercept in the 5% to 10% range, we have a good approximation of the URR for the region.

The production rate can vary, for a number of reasons, but provided that the wells aren't produced at too high a rate, the rate of production, within certain limits, tends not to have a material impact on long term recovery.

I've largely given up on any policy changes until the reality of the post-peak world sets in.

Fair enough.

I guess we'll just have to wait a year or two and see what happens to Russian production. If Russia starts declining at 18% then we are definitly in serious trouble and there will be little doubt Peak was in 2005.



The HL for Russia is very difficult because there are clearly two Hubbert cycles. The first one is very mature and has peaked in 1985 and the second one is very immature. So if you perform a global HL, the result will be dominated by the first cycle and give you an URR that is the one from that particular cycle.

The best you'll be to performed a two-stages HL or a loglet transform.

Below is a quick attempt for crude oil + condensate:

the first cycle has an URR of 137 Gb and the second has an URR of 21 Gb:

A zoom on the second peak:

It's probably a pessimistic estimate because the second peak is very narrow and the first one is too large.

Could you post the predicted versus actual Russian plot (predicted based on data through 50% of Qt) for comparison?

I noticed that the first peak in the Russian production curve seems somewhat more like a plateau that lasted for about 10 years. Is there any reason to believe that their production is just going to plummet the way your graph depicts without going flat for a while?

I'd like to add: The Export Land Model is certainly correct, in that exports will fall before production, and exports are really what matter to the US, as a country hopelessly addicted to imported oil.

Half the current production in five years, after ten years of steady growth, without us having yet seen a turn and without a compelling explanation? I hope you understand why some of us think that is a low probability outcome.

Re: "Compelling Explanation?"


In round numbers Texas production went from 2.5 mbpd in 1962 to 3.5 mbpd in 1972, then production fell back down to 2.5 mbpd in 1982, despite the biggest drilling boom in state history.

About the only person that saw this coming was Hubbert, using some mathematical modeling. (Not that I am comparing myself to Hubbert--I'm just applying work that he and Deffeyes did).

But in any case, notice the pattern of people making predictions based on mathematical modeling--almost everyone tells them they are crazy--and then production falls as predicted.

Depletion explains why the trend will eventually turn down, not why production has trended up for the last ten years in spite of the fact that they are now 90% depleted but that in the next five years production is going to drop in half. What explains the hockey stick? The dramatic change that is just about to happen but of which there is no sign right now.

So all those wells everywhere in the country are on the brink of catastrophic collapse but almost none of the people running them know it? Can production over such a large region suddenly go into such a dramatic collapse all at once, without warning? Have we been hearing stories of people all over the country pulling their hair out as they see this coming?

I don't believe it ever. The result above is a quick attempt to fit two Hubbert cycles but the second peak is too steep in my opinion. The first peak is also quite asymmetric (the production drop after 1985 is very steep) which is impossible to model with a Hubbert curve. I think Russian production will probably get flat for a few years before dropping (2009-2010). Don't forget also that all the Russian giant oil fields (Romashkino, Samotlor, Fedor-Surgutskoye, Krasnoleninskoye) are at least 40 years old. and have peaked a long time ago.

That sounds about right to me.

Why don't you simply integrate the function.

You could even do the old trick and print it out and weigh the paper. Then convert to area to a nice curve and calculate the URR.

You just need the total area of the curve no matter how complex.

Nice observations... I've been thinking the same thing.

It seems to me that Russia may have neglected to explore and produce oil from a large part of its vast regions due the nature of a centrally planned economy. Maybe the regions of Russia that have been actively exploited could be modeled using HL and would in fact, be found to be in serious decline. Where as, the regions that were never fully tapped due to proximity, weather, technology, and lack of entraprenurial forces are only now producing at their potential.

This is a bit similar to our situation with the "lower 48" and the Prudhoe bay discovery. Where Alaska caused a bumpy plateau of sorts by adding to a declining profile. Only the situation with Russia is more complex due to the economic collapse of the 90's. Russia's recent increases certainly don't resemble the production profile of the US in any way.

Russia has explored more than you think. Look where their major oil fields are; some pretty remote areas in Siberia are prominent.

And Shtokmann (spelling from memory), is a couple of hundred km offshore in the Artic Ocean. Not yet developed, but discovered and defined major gas find. (Was going to supply 10% of US natural gas via LNG until Cheney opened his mouth and upset Putin).

Very few spots on earth (clustered in Antartica) do not have basic geological surveys that would outline another Ghawar size (or smaller) formation. The South China Sea and Yellow Sea are interesting (good survey results but political problems limit drilling).

Sorry, but there are no "blank areas" worth noting on the maps of geology. Cancel your hopes for undiscovered "super giants". The best that we can hope for is a smaller formation that is just saturated with oil that was not drilled before because it was SO hard to drill there. Perhaps 1 million b/day on the upside. And a dozen or so years to bring on-line once discovered.

Best Hopes for reality based planning,


Sustainable Living is not about buying greener things; it's about buying fewer things.

Capitalism at its best - a magazine you can buy that tells you how to buy fewer things. Don't get me wrong, I think buying less is a great idea... I'm just amazed people need a magazine to tell them how to do it.

Anyway, it'll be interesting to see who advertises in it.

Reminds me of a rant by George Carlin. He was joking about the # of magazines in the US, for instance a mag about 'Walking'.

Yeah who would sponsor the 'buy less' message?

Reminds me of the magazines that promise a simple life while telling you all the things you need to have a simple life. Articles include how to get more storage to "simplify" your life by storing all the crap that you don't need in the first place. If you want a simpler life, start by getting rid of all the crap that doesn't currently fit in your closets. Then start getting rid of most of the crap in your closet. Proceed from there to the shed and/or gargage.

Actually, people do need someone to tell them how to get rid of stuff. Usually, these experts are psychologists or counselers who specialize in the disease called affluenza.

Actually, people do need someone to tell them how to get rid of stuff.

That is one of the hottest segments of "selp-help" - so-called de-cluttering. There are probably hundreds of books about it, and many consultants who specialize in it (charging hundreds of dollars an hour, in some cases). And there are at least three TV shows about it (that air on TLC and channels like that).

There are people who have so much junk they don't have room to sleep on their beds. Their houses are filled with clutter, with only narrow pathways in between the piles. People have gone for decades without having any visitors (due to embarrassment) and have lost their children because of their clutter.

People have gone for decades without having any visitors (due to embarrassment) and have lost their children because of their clutter.

So did they lose their children because of the clutter, or in the clutter? :-)

I'm no clean freak, but living like that would drive me mad. I vaguely remember a story about people (I think they lived in Canada) who would burn everything they owned every seven or eight years and start over again. Maybe that's a ritual we need to adopt.

In the CNN story I saw about it, a woman's children had refused to live with her because of the clutter. It was pathological with her; she just couldn't let anything go. We're talking stacks of 20-year-old newspapers and junk mail, empty tin cans and jars, used plastic bags, etc. Her oldest child moved out of the house at age 15 to escape the clutter. Her younger child, who was in elementary school, refused to live with her, too. The kid's father or grandparents took her in.

That is a simple disease, the inability to throw things away, which even has a name, that of course escapes me, but there is zero connection with simpler living.

It is a form of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.

My father in law has a saying - "3 moves are as good as a fire" (moving your whole house x 3)

Want to see photos of what insane clutter looks like?

How is throwing away the stuff in my barn, closets, etc more "sustainable"? It already exists, throwing it away so that it ends up in a landifll has many negatives, and I will be able to use that stuff when I'm no longer as wealthy as I am now. On the contrary, I'm collecting "stuff" that I perceive as useful in the brave new world that approaches.

I suspect that it will not be too long before the stuff I have will be pretty much all the stuff I'll ever have.

Learn to live like people did during the depression - don't buy much, don't buy crap, take care of it and keep it forever.

“It kills me,” said Gloria Nunez, 53, as she filled her Ford Explorer SUV at a San Jose gas station. Nunez, a clerk for a communications company, has started working a couple hours of overtime each week to help soften the blow. “All of a sudden you kind of have to watch your pennies,” she said.

This is a disheartening passage for so many reasons. Working overtime to gas up a vehicle? An SUV in San Jose, which is well-paved and snow-free? And the price increase surprises her, when prices were higher in 2005? And she still owns a gas-guzzler when people have been talking for years about oil dependency and global warming?

I'm an optimist in that I think the technical solutions for PO and GW exist; I'm a pessimist when I think about how many people are ignorant and rigid-minded. I'd like to see what will certainly be a distruptive transition be smoothed over by careful management, but I can't see good planning taking hold, at least in America. Cheap oil is a cultural foundation; saying that it will be gone is too scary for people to face.

How about this for even more depressing? There's a new self-help best-seller, called The Secret. Oprah featured it on her show, and it's being marketed like The Da Vinci Code - a secret long known to a select inner circle, now revealed to anyone who shells out for the book and/or DVD.

So what is the secret? Just think positive. Anything you want will be yours, as long as you believe you will receive it. Weight loss, money, cars, lovers, jobs, jewelry. The DVD shows a kid miraculously finding the bicycle he dreams of on his porch, and a woman being gifted with the expensive necklace she had her eye on. What you think about, you will attract. It's like opening up a catalog and telling the universe what you want.

They call this the Law of Attraction, under the pretense that the universe wants to shower you with abundance and beauty. Again, Byrne: "The only reason any person does not have enough money is because they are blocking money from coming to them with their thoughts." The Secret protects you from cancer and other diseases: "You are also inviting illness if you are listening to people talking about their illness... If you really want to help that person, change the conversation to good things, if you can, or be on your way." It will even help out that pesky Peak Oil problem: "Belize has become an oil-producing country because an extraordinary team of people believed in the unlimited power of the mind."

Hmmm. If that's true, the U.S., Mexico, etc., declined because pessimists like Hubbert thought they would. Stuart's probably making Ghawar crash right now, with that negative article of his...

Is there a name for that kind of logic?

Personally, I call it "insanity."

OTOH, Oprah says she's been doing it all her life, and it seems to have worked for her. From an abused kid living in a house without running water to one of the richest people in the world, giving out free cars and cashmere sweaters to her entire studio audience...

Some day I hope to understand what it is that Oprah actually does.

Oprah sells. Oprah moves products. I call her show the "Oprahmercial." I come home to find my wife convinced we need to buy Il Divo, or You: The Owner's Manual or pomegranate juice, or whatever. Amongst all the sob stories and human interest guests and charitable gestures, she is selling, selling, selling.

Looky here America, these guys can sing. Cue the Il Divo CDs.

Looky here, America, your marriages aren't that great: Cue Dr. Phil.

Looky here, America, you're too fat. Cue Dr Roizen in his scrubs.

And you can bet she's got a piece of Dr. Phil, Dr. Roizen, Il Divo and anything else she promotes.

I go around constantly thinking horrible things, just to contravene the power of these awful people. >: ]

That is scary, but not surprising or anything new. It boils down to the nature of belief vs. (a little thing I like to call) Reality! We are constantly bombarded with the message that the most important thing in life is to "stick to your beliefs". It's always the high point of any politician's resume. The subtext is, don't let a good fact interfere with your belief system, just ignore those pesky "facts".

BTW, Oprah didn't shell out one nickel for those cars she "gave away", they were all donated by the manufacturer, GM I think. A new model they were pushing, which tanked in the showroom anyway. Oh well. And most of those "lucky" Oprah-philes got screwed by Uncle Sam for taxes. Which richie-rich Oprah could have helped out with, dontcha think??

Yup. Listen to a Boosh speech. Every sentence begins,

"Ah bleev...."

The thing is, in a world without scarcity, you pretty much can get anything you put your mind to, with creativity and perserverance. Unfortunately, the world's resources don't work that way. For a great number of us still, however, our limits are more imposed by our blind-spots and thought blocks than by "reality". (Such as thinking an SUV and marketing job will get you somewhere.)

Magical Thinking.

This is like a secular version of the fundamentalist/ televangelists "health and wealth" gospel, i.e. just believe and give me enough money and God will make you rich, cure your cancer, give you your dream house, etc.

Well, now that you mention it...some one over at PO.com was encouraging people to pray for God to fill up the oil wells again.

well, as b3 implied above, at least there are a lot of people praying for the opposite, too.

I have somewhere a page from one these preachers papers - when God will bless you with a LINE OF CREDIT.

Yup. Not 'free money' but a LINE of CREDIT.

The Lord must work in ways I don't understand because how is a line of credit a blessing?

Salon just slammed her in an article called Oprah's ugly secret. [Free but must watch short commercial first.]


"By continuing to hawk "The Secret," a mishmash of offensive self-help cliches, Oprah Winfrey is squandering her goodwill and influence, and preaching to the world that mammon is queen."

"Secret"-style belief is a perfect product. Like Coca-Cola, it goes down easy and makes the consumer thirsty for more. It's unthreateningly simple, and a lot more facile, sentimental and, perhaps paradoxically, intractable than the old-fashioned kind of belief. Like Amway, it enlists its consumers as unofficial salespeople, and the people who constitute its market feel like they're part of a fold. It's indistinguishable from, and inextricably bound up in, the Oprah idea of self-esteem, the kind of confidence you get not from testing yourself, but from "believing" in yourself. This modern idea of faith isn't arrived at the old-fashioned way, by asking questions, but by getting answers. Instead of inquiry we have born-again epiphanies and cheesy self-help books -- we have excuses for not engaging in inquiry at all. Let other people schlep down the road to Damascus; we'll have Amazon send Damascus to us."

As we get each successive runup in prices, my sympathy level for these people goes lower and lower. The last runup should have been a wakeup call even for the most brain dead. Yes, you really need a freaking SUV in San Jose. Pathetic. Working overtime to fuel an SUV.

But hey, with gas prices holding steady for most of winter (well, until very recently) this has helped GMales pickup (sales were led by the sierra and silverado (both fullsize pickups)) recently ( source ). I'm sure that these buyers will be completely shocked come this summer.

Heck, what am I thinking; they're probably already shocked with the end of winter prices. And has the switchover to summer gas begun yet?

Hmmm... let's see, minimum wage in California is $7.50 and I think people making that wage are required to be paid 1.5x for overtime. "A couple of hours" means at least 2 hours. So a $0.50 rise in gas prices requires $7.50*1.5*2 = $22.50 extrea each week using most concervative wage estimages. This implies she buys 45 gallons of gasoline each week. Even at 15 MPG, this means 35,100 miles driven per year. Whoa! With that many miles driven, it might make sense to buy two vehicles... one for commuting and the other for doing whatever it is people do with SUVs. Given she is spending upwards of $7000/year on gasoline, the second vehicle could pay for itself easily with the fuel savings.

But in 2005, prices went down a bit. That meant that they'd hit the all-time high, and prices would only go down from here. Just ignore the fact that a 53 year old should be well-versed in increasing gas prices. The majority of the news headlines proclaim that we've got plenty of oil until 2030. If we were going to be running out of oil, why would the car companies be selling Explorers? If what's good for Ford is good for the country, shouldn't it be true that what's good for the country is good for ford? And anyways, if you don't own an expensive SUV people will think that you're poor (or even worse, that you're some namby pamby who doesn't know how to spend their money and have a good time (yes, spending *does* equal happiness)). You have to spend money to make money, and I'm sure it's just a matter of time, until that explorer just starts the funds rolling in.

Or something like that.

If this were a 23 year old fresh out of college, *maybe* I could understand this. But hell, I'm 30, and when I started driving gas was between $0.81-0.91 . Even pre peak oil awareness, I would say it's safe to bet that gas will go up in price.

I have serious problems understnading the mentality of someone on a monstly fixed income (she's a clerk, she's not running her own business which "should be taking off any day", and she's lucky that she can pick up overtime when she wants. Many people don't have that option), who would buy a house and car that would put them perfectly at capacity. Even if it wasn't for the fact that any car problems, or house problems (if she owns (or more likely is heavily mortgaged)) would require resources, isn't there a concept of retirement?

Have fun selling that SUV - I'd recommend sooner rather than later.

Just ignore the fact that a 53 year old should be well-versed in increasing gas prices.

I happen to be 53 and I distinctly remember piling into my 1962 600cc FIAT with my buddies during the 1973-1974 fuel crises and driving by the long gasoline lines honking my horn while my friends hooted and hollared and pointed and laughed at all those hapless folks sitting in their land yachts waiting to buy fuel. Not the kindest thing to do, but I was a geeky teenager.

Now that it is 2007, I think it is odd that new 600cc cars are illegal to buy in the US because they are deemed by regulators to be unsafe polluters.

I'm an optimist in that I think the technical solutions for PO and GW exist; I'm a pessimist when I think about how many people are ignorant and rigid-minded.

The charming nature of one's fellow man is a sure way for one to become pessimistic.

The techno-fixes seem to forget that entire classes of consumers are able to exist because they live off the cast-offs or coat-tails of others. If 'everyone' needs to change to the wow-zo tech fix of the week, the increase in demand on the raw materials and the lack of hand-me-downs will hurt the lower economic classes - the people who package up your food, take care of you in stores, et la. What happens to the middle class when the lower class collapses?

Cheap oil is a cultural foundation;

Worse than that. Its the economic foundation. And some think its the foundation of the money, hence the term Petro-dollar.

Quotes for today!
CL M07 6410 6467 6370 6381 -40
CL Z07 6679 6719 6650 6660 -19
CL Z08 6796 6825 6780 6782 -12
CL Z09 6814 6814 6740 6740 -44
CL Z10 N/A N/A N/A 6736 -1
CL Z11 N/A N/A N/A 6700 -1
CL Z12 N/A N/A N/A 6670 -1

Jobs Roof Falls In

Since the middle of last year, a downturn in the U.S. housing market has taken its toll on a wide group of people and companies, clobbering homebuilders, condo flippers, borrowers with weak credit, lenders who oversold loans, and just about anyone with a home for sale.

Now the housing slump is hitting yet another target: housing-related jobs, a list that includes everyone from the people who build and sell houses to makers of appliances and furnishings.

That's a sharp contrast to the height of the housing boom in 2005-06, when the industry was responsible for creating some 25,000 to 50,000 new jobs every month, according to Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moodys.com.

“In the recent months it’s been laying off workers at a pace of 25,000 to 50,000 per month,” he said. “And I think the next couple of quarters we’ll start seeing job losses of between 50,000 and 75,000 per month. ... I think the housing market is going down a whole other notch.”

If peak oil is now, it's looking more and more like it will be disguised by a recession.

"If peak oil is now, it's looking more and more like it will be disguised by a recession."

That's what Heinberg said, "serial recessions" that get sequentially worse... death by ten thousand cuts.

I got this from the store I frequent on my block. It is located in Riverside, CA.

"Why are Egg Prices Suddenly So High?"

Egg Prices are reaching new highs due to the following factors:

1. Skyrocketing grain prices, fueled by the almost unending demand for corn to produce ethanol, have driven up the cost of producing eggs.

2. There is a temporary shortage of eggs.

3. Winter weather has caused supply shortages.

Albertsons and our egg suppliers are working hard to make sure our stores have eggs for you and your family.

paper towel prices up 13% since last fall.

Weekly U.S. Natural Gas storage numbers are in:

Last week showed a drop of 102 Bcf to a total of 1631 Bcf. This is 13.5% above the five year average, but 14.1% below last year's levels. I think this week was colder than last week, so next week's numbers will probably show a larger drop.

"Putin's Proposition" - "My oil/gas is worth 4 times more than your non-oil/gas...understand?"

I just got back from taking out lunch here in North Carolina, where I met a trucker (who was asking for directions to the Wal-Mart) where he is going to deliver cactus plants from Canada. And, get this, next week he is going to deliver Canadian grown cactus plants to Texas!!!

Damn! I wanted to have the first cactus farm in Canada, and now someone's beaten me to it!

Now I'll have to wait to start my biofuel sugar cane operation in central Greenland...

My favorite was a couple of weeks ago...Whole Foods was floggin Estonian Birch firewood (1 cu ft or so for 8.95) in Westchester County NY...imagine shipping *firewood* from the shores of the Baltic to NYC! It boggles the mind

We should be rejoicing! These are the kinds of cutbacks that will be mind-bogglingly easy during the Hubbert downslope.

As long as I have my calculater launched, there's 128 square feet per cord. 20.3 MMBtus per cord of Birch, $8.95 per square foot.

That's $56.53 per MMBtu.

here are today's commodity prices converted to MMBtus:

April NYMEX Natural Gas: $7.23 MMBtu
April NYMEX RBOB Gasoline: $15.94 MMBtu
April CBOT Ethanol: $30.33 MMBtu

Phew...for a moment, I was worried that someone would start arbirtraging Estonion birch into Ethanol

exactly. lot of available fat to trim

but whose job is related to that fat and what do they owe money on and what are they going to do if there are fewer jobs to be had. A house of cards! I would hate to be an illegal immigrant right now.

If you look at the consumer spending categories, they've all decreased for decades (housing, energy, food, etc.), except for one -- leisure/entertainment. It should be easy to figure out which category will lose jobs during the downslope and which categories will gain.

...imagine shipping *firewood* from the shores of the Baltic to NYC!

You would rather the boat make its return trip EMPTY?

What do you think we're shipping in those gazillion containers back to China?

Peak oil in the OPEC Bulletin

Chairman of the Libya National Oil Company in the November/December OPEC Bulletin , page 63:

"This is because we are at, or near, the production peak of world oil, if not on the downward slope of Hubbert's peak curve. This is not to deny the role of other factors (such as geopolitical), but only to stress the importance of supply and demand for crude oil as the prime factor in determining the price of the commodity."

And here we all thought these guys were cornucopians. Paging Dr. Yergin, paging Dr. Yergin, ...

Congo Arrest over Missing Uranium

DR Congo's daily newspaper Le Phare reported that more than 100 bars of uranium as well as an unknown quantity of uranium contained in helmet-shaped cases, had disappeared from the nuclear centre in Kinshasa as part of a vast trafficking of the material going back years...

IAEA freezes assistance programs to Iran

Chief Iranian delegate Ali Ashgar Soltanieh dismissed the decision, a "few countries ... to deprive Iran from its inalienable rights for (the) peaceful use of nuclear energy."

The "Iranian nation is a peace-loving nation but will never tolerate any pressure or intimidation," he told the meeting.

...the Security Council has called on it to end such activities because of fears it could misuse the process to produce fissile material for warheads.

Hmmm. I'm heading out today to buy our semi-annual 50lb bag of chicken feed. Last time it was about $9.50.

Even at $20, its still chicken feed....runs and ducks

This follows up on a posting from months ago, but back in November, Don from Colorado noted a televised rountable forum at Stanford in which Ted Koppel and George Shultz apparently briefly discussed Peak Oil.


Koppel asked former Secretary of State George Schultz (Reagan administration) about the energy dilemma and peak oil. He replied that in retrospect, it was too bad that all the work in conservation and alternative energy in the '70s and '80s had been abandoned, because we needed that 20 years to get prepared for today.

I'm interesting in getting their exact words so I can consider including them in a compilation of quotations from prominent individuals regarding Peak Oil - I've been periodically revising the compilation and would like to make it available to a wider audience soon.

However, I've had no luck downloading the "free download" onto my Mac, even after an exchage of e-mails with the technical person at Stanford. So I'm wondering if anyone out there might want to try their luck at this:


Regarding Koppel, some of you may be interested in his upcoming broadcast on the Discovery Channel, on "Our Children's Children's War," March 11, 2007, 9 PM ET/PT


Though I wouldn't expect anything too straigtforward, wonder if there will be anything that keen observers of the oil subtext might pick up on.

Koppel is already partially on record about that subtext:

Ted Koppel, "Will Fight for Oil," NYT Feb 24, 2006

I assume that Koppel's ilk are following these things more closely than their sparse comments would suggest, but am not at all sure where the limits to their own ability to comprehend reality kick in - for example with regard to the assumption, implicit in the above article, that U.S. success in Iraq would make possible "an uninterrupted flow of Persian Gulf oil," or even with regard to assumption that U.S. global warfighting capabilities are likely to be maintained long into the future.

OK, I went for the Stanford video. I managed to get to the video in the ITunes store and download it (free) onto a XP-Pro box. At .5GB for a 2-hour video, it took awhile. But then ITunes had problems. The first 15 seconds played, and then it froze. I tried opening the clip using other players, and then went back to ITunes. No luck, and then I noticed that ITunes (or something) had deleted the whole video from my computer. 3 strikes you're out?

A rather low EROEI (Entertainment Returned on Energy Invested).

Get a PC. Don't believe that Apple propaganda about feeling warm and fuzzy about those 3 or 4 things you can do with a Mac.

Thanks for the attempt, JoulesBurn. I guess my OSX version is a wee bit too old to run the latest version of iTunes. And Cid I agree with you. I bought the darn thing back in 2003 before I was Peak Oil Aware.

Joule's remark about low Entertainment Return on Energy Investment strikes close to home, being a professional juggler (a classic case of low EROEI in itself) and one who makes an utterly insane weekly commute to the Caribbean at that. Yes, I have issues.

BTW, I'm writing with one of those google ads partially blocking the window on which I'm writing, because Safari won't let me link to "reply", so I have to use the crappy Explorer for Mac instead.

Download Firefox. It works great on my almost 3 year old PowerBook G4.

get the latest OSX update, all free
I run it, and have never had any such problem

War War War A War Without End.

Regarding Koppel, some of you may be interested in his upcoming broadcast on the Discovery Channel, on "Our Children's Children's War,"

Ah Yes, War.

A snippet from the NASCAR Kunstler;

Joe Bageant.


In the Reign of the One-nutted King

Pity the poor American left, (who would be considered right wing moderates in most of the world, but in America being against any war makes you a far leftist. Any time American leftists start pointing at the root causes of our national disease, they are neatly handed a fresh bloody war to oppose. Each new generation of the left gets its energies sapped, gets locked into the position of continually opposing one war, then another and another. Ever since World War I they've been standing on the street corners or in the parks -- or more recently, inside the Free Speech Zones way the hell out at the edge of town. At any rate, they can never come close to naming the dark and profitable tumor at the heart of America, the economic system under which we all live. To survive and grow, the American system needs war, making war inevitable. To keep up the pretense of freedom it needs harmless dissent.


Domino Sugar travels <200 miles to my home (I think)

The Domino sugar refinery uses the crude brown sugar from the south Louisiana sugar mills (most cane travels less than a dozen miles to the mill, rarely more than 20 miles. Not economic). The refinery is less than 100 miles from most sugar mills, and is just a "golf shot" downriver from New Orleans (served by our city buses and a rail line). There the sugar is refined and packaged (unsure if all types of packaging) and shipped to the wholesalers. At least a couple of wholesalers have local warehouses. Walmart does not. From there, it is delivered to the store which I walk to and into my strong black coffee :-)

The Domino sugar refinery has a river dock and can import crude sugar or export refined sugar. Relatively little of this trade. After Katrina, they sold their inventory to an ethanol producer.

Bets Hopes for a sweet sustainable future :-)


I saw some interesting DOE graphics today. Specifically I had seen a 2000 report previously at:

And today found a 2005 "update":

Interesting to compare U.S. energy consumption projections after 5 years. I rescaled two graphs to be the same:

They show natural gas plateauing, and have coal now increasing dramatically. Nuclear is a bit higher and oil a bit lower.

Well, seemed worthy to share, mostly to see what "official" projections are. I wonder where we'll get the extra 10QBTU from oil in 2025? :)

Hello TODers,

Output Falling in Oil-Rich Mexico, and Politics Gets the Blame

But Pemex is in trouble. Its production and proven reserves are falling, and it has no money to reverse the slide. Mexico is the second-largest supplier of imported oil to the United States, after Canada, but its total exports are slipping. If the company continues on its current course, Mexico may one day have trouble just keeping up with rising demand at home.
Gee! Whooda thunk it?

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



I will leave you all to your own devices....have at it....:-)

Roger Conner Jr.
Remember, we are only one cubic mile from freedom

Roger: As I have noted repeatedly, rising energy costs are not affecting the wealthy negatively. In this article, the situation at the median is never addressed. As I am sure everyone is aware, the persons in the USA with the major gains in net worth are not the same people with the gains in mortgage debt. As a related news item, I heard on the radio this morning that globally billionaires are up 27% (from memory) to approx 1000 (975). This number does not include representation from an important industry segment, illicit drugs (supposedly). So an estimate might be 1200 billionaires globally. Good times are here.