DrumBeat: March 15, 2007

Giants Like Stable Environments

After analyzing giant fields discovered up to 2000, Mann and his colleagues predicted that new giant discoveries for 2000-09 would occur primarily in passive margin and rift environments, especially in deepwater basinal settings.

They also projected the addition of giant fields in known areas, including hydrocarbon provinces of the Persian Gulf, West Siberia and Southeast Asia.

So far, those predictions have been spot on.

Kuwait looking to natural gas, nuclear options

Kuwait is considering an import terminal for liquefied natural gas, gas imports from Iran and Iraq and nuclear power to help it match soaring demand for electricity, its energy minister said yesterday.

Kuwait was in discussions with Royal Dutch Shell and BG Group on a possible LNG import terminal and also for exploration and development of the country’s gas reserves, Sheikh Ali al-Jarrah al-Sabah said.

Brazil Plans to Triple Ethanol Exports in 7 Years

Brazil plans to almost triple ethanol exports in the next seven years and will need investments of about $13.4 billion to boost output, said the nation's Agriculture Minister Luis Carlos Guedes Pinto.

Unconventional Oil, Gas Sources Limited

Maturing hydrocarbon provinces, combined with the trend toward greater resource nationalism, is forcing international oil companies toward both technological and geographic frontiers.

White House seeks to cut geothermal research funds

The Bush administration wants to eliminate federal support for geothermal power just as many U.S. states are looking to cut greenhouse gas emissions and raise renewable power output.

GAO Report: Safety Consequences of Terrorist Attack on LNG Tanker [PDF]

The three studies that considered LNG explosions concluded explosions were unlikely unless the LNG vapors were in a confined space. Only the Sandia study examined the potential for sequential failure of LNG cargo tanks (cascading failure) and concluded that up to three of the ship’s five tanks could be involved in such an event and that this number of tanks would increase the duration of the LNG fire.

Trutnev Warns Oil Firms on Slow Eastern Siberian Finds

Oil companies could be punished for not working fast enough to find new reserves in eastern Siberia to fill a new pipeline to Asia, Natural Resources Minister Yury Trutnev said Wednesday.

War, Neoliberalism and Empire in the 21st Century: Noam Chomsky Connects the Dots

As far as the U.S. economic interests I think we have to make a distinction. The primary interest, and that's true throughout the Middle East, even in Saudi Arabia, the major energy producer, has always been control, not access, and not profit. Profit is a secondary interest and access is a tertiary interest.

So in the years when the U.S. was not using Middle East oil at all, [the U.S.] was the largest producer and the largest exporter, it still had the same policies. It wanted to control the sources of oil and the reasons are understood. In the mid-1940s, the State Department made it clear that the oil resources of the region, primarily then Saudi Arabia, were a stupendous source of strategic power which made the Middle East the most strategically important area of the world. They also added that its one of the greatest material prizes in world history. But the basic point is that it's a source of strategic power, meaning that if you control the energy resources, then you can control the world, because the world needs the energy resources.

The Methane Economy

A recent advance by a team of researchers at the University of NSW has pointed the way forward. Their work combined with two other technologies can lead to a method of producing methane, methanol or diesel fuel from sunlight, water and air.

Why Is Saudi Arabia’s Oil Production Down?

We still have three years and nine and a half months to learn who will win the bet between energy investment banker Matthew R. Simmons and New York Times columnist John Tierney over whether oil prices would be above or below $200 a barrel in 2010. Tierney bet "below" because he believes that over the long term, the prices of natural resources always tend to decline, and he cited a 1980-1990 precious metals bet that favored that outcome. Simmons has looked deeply into the extraction of oil from underneath the sands of Saudi Arabia, and has concluded that their oil production will most likely decrease or flatline in the coming years. Saudi Arabia claims 25% of the world's proven oil reserves, by far the largest share claimed by any country. Those who have watched The End of Suburbia: Oil Depletion and the Collapse of the American Dream have heard Simmons say, "If it turns out that Saudi Arabia has peaked, then, categorically, the world has peaked."

With oil prices having fallen into the $50 range and now trading in the $60 range, for the moment it looks like Tierney's ahead in the bet. But the more important question for the worldwide economy is whether Saudi Arabia can increase its oil output in the years ahead or not. The Oil Drum has hosted a spirited debate on that question recently.

Dimwits: Why 'green' lightbulbs aren't the answer to global warming

...Low energy bulbs are much more complex to make than standard bulbs, requiring up to ten times as much energy to manufacture. Unlike standard bulbs, they use toxic materials, including mercury vapour, which the EU itself last year banned from landfill sites - which means that recycling the bulbs will itself create an enormously expensive problem.

Perhaps most significantly of all, however, to run CFLs economically they must be kept on more or less continuously. The more they are turned on and off, the shorter becomes their life, creating a fundamental paradox, as is explained by an Australian electrical expert Rod Elliott (whose Elliott Sound Products website provides as good a technical analysis of the disadvantages of CFLs as any on the internet).

If people continue switching their lights on and off when needed, as Mr Elliott puts it, they will find that their 'green' bulbs have a much shorter life than promised, thus triggering a consumer backlash from those who think they have been fooled.

OPEC's Saudi Arabia Warns Angola on Oil Expansion

Saudia Arabia, the most powerful member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, has told Angola, its newest entrant, not to assume it will be able to expand production past 2 million barrels a day, The Financial Times reports Wednesday, without citing sources.

This is a blow to the world's biggest oil companies, which have already paid Angola billions of dollars for the right to explore and produce its oil.

Renewing a Call to Act Against Climate Change - an article about Bill McKibben.

Oil's going down, down, down

For reasons I've never understood, people love disaster scenarios. Tell them their portfolios will rise 7% this year and their eyes glaze. But say the world economy is teetering on the edge of an abyss and they jolt upright with excitement: "Really? Tell me more!"

The best scare story of them all has been about peak oil. At least as interpreted by many financial advisers, the peak oil theory amounts to the belief that $100-per-barrel oil is just around the corner. (All figures in U.S. dollars.) With expensive oil will come deep recession and — dear me — a complete re-engineering of our oil-guzzling, SUV-driving lifestyles.

John Michael Greer: The Amphetamine of the Intellectuals

As the first part of this review suggested, David Korten’s widely praised book The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community proposes what amounts to a political solution for the predicament of industrial society. Korten argues that replacing current “developmentally challenged” politicians with new leadership drawn from the upper ranks of today’s progressive social change movements will foster a shift from a society based on the old ideology of Empire to one based on his preferred ideology of Earth Community. This shift, he claims, is the only effective response we can make to the crisis of industrial civilization he surveys so eloquently in the third chapter of the book. Yet it’s only fair to ask just how Korten anticipates that a society guided by his “emerging values consensus” will deal with, say, the immense practical challenges of coping with peak oil

Saudi Aramco's Shaybah expansion breaks ground

Energy crisis aggravating in Tajikistan

Supply of electricity to the Tajik capital has been toughened ever more. Now electricity will be supplied eight hours a day instead of 17 hours as before.

Ghana: VALCO To Suspend Operations

The Volta Aluminium Company (VALCO) Limited will, with effect from tomorrow, suspend its operations, due to inadequate power supply from the Akosombo Dam.

The shutdown, the 11th in the history of VALCO since its establishment in 1967, will result in declaring majority of the 700 labour force redundant.

Tech leaders call for 'green' policies

A group of technology executives said Wednesday that the world is facing an energy crisis, and they called on US policymakers to embrace a "green tech" agenda focused on encouraging energy conservation and reducing US dependence on foreign energy sources.

Libya to Launch Gas Bidding Round Later in 2007

Eager to tap into abundant natural gas reserves, Libya is planning to hold a bidding round later this year to develop gas fields onshore and offshore, the head of the country's oil industry said Wednesday.

US-Pakistan firms sign LNG LoI

US-based Excelerate Energy has signed the LoI with Pakistan 's Associated Group to provide one of the world's only four LNG Regasification Vessels at Port Qasim, Karachi , and to provide LNG through its network of international producers.

U.S.-Israel energy act introduced

The American Jewish Congress applauded the introduction of the U.S.-Israel Energy Cooperation Act to the U.S. Senate. The bill is a "landmark effort to establish the same type of strategic partnership between the U.S. and Israel to help solve the energy crisis as has been so successful in addressing military matters," AJCongress Senior Vice President Jack Halpern said in a statement Wednesday.

Senate Bill Would Expand Drilling Off Florida's Shores

Florida's two senators expressed alarm Tuesday over a proposal they said would put oil rigs just 45 miles from the Florida coast -- and skirt the embargo against Cuba by allowing U.S. firms to explore for oil and gas in Cuban waters.

Troubles overblown in growing economy

“This is not our parents’ economy,” he said, referring to the energy crisis in the 1970s. “Only about 2 percent of all wages go to gasoline and oil costs.”

ConocoPhillips: Working with Oil Ministry on Iraq Field Plan

ConocoPhillips (COP) is working with the Iraq Oil Ministry and Russia's OAO Lukoil Holdings (LKOH.RS) on a development plan for the West Qurna field, a ConocoPhillips executive said Wednesday.

Special Report from Colombia

My friends, you will tell your children about the week when George W. Bush became the most ardent champion of clean fuel in the Western Hemisphere. This represents a shift in social, foreign and economic policy that cannot be ignored.

Scientists need to confront economists about peak oil - a letter to Nature

SIR — Your News Feature “That’s oil, folks” (Nature 445, 14–17; 2007) highlights the debate over depletion of the world’s oil reserves. I would like to make some additional points.

First, the proponents of the peak-oil theory are predominantly Nature’s constituency — scientists — whereas the vocal opposition are, to a significant extent, economists.

Monthly Review

Faced with immense and growing environmental, economic, and social problems, capitalism, as Panitch and Leys rightly suggest, is showing signs of shifting towards increased authoritarianism. However, the advent of a more barbaric system is no longer the worst of our worries. It is the threat to the planet itself that constitutes our most dire challenge.

EcoManor: The first certifiably green mansion

From the outside, the Seydel family's new home looks like any old Tudor manse. Well, it's too tall for its quiet block. (Neighbors have complained.) But who would guess that this is the largest eco-friendly house in America? With its 27 photovoltaic panels on the roof, solar tubes that snake into interior rooms, geothermal heat pumps, and rainwater-collecting cisterns, this is, in fact, the first home over 5,000 square feet ever to be certified by the U.S. Green Building Council - and evidence of a new wave of eco-building that doesn't look like eco-building.

Tom Whipple - The Peak Oil Crisis: The Portland Report

As someone who is familiar with the literature and follows the peak oil story on a daily basis, I can report that the folks on the Portland Peak Oil Task Force have produced a succinct, outstanding report that should be read by every local official everywhere. While there will naturally be many local variations, Portland’s approach to the problem contains much that seems universally applicable.

BP says oil and gas recovery crucial

Maximising recovery from existing oil and gas fields will be crucial to meeting the world's growing energy needs as the number of undiscovered fields diminishes and the cost of new exploration increases, according to a BP representative speaking at the 15th Middle East Oil and Gas Show held in Bahrain from March 11-14.

"Demand for energy is expected to increase 50% to 60% by 2030, much of it from newly emerging markets," explained Peter Roberts, Subsurface Manager, BP Abu Dhabi. "At BP, we believe the industry needs to look to increasing recovery from existing fields to meet this rising demand."

Russia clinches Balkan oil deal

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a deal in Athens to ship Russian oil to the EU via a pipeline bypassing the busy Bosphorus.

Study: Coal industry faces bleak future

The coal industry faces a bleak future unless ways are developed on a commercial scale to capture and store carbon dioxide in the campaign against global warming, according to a study released Wednesday.

Energy giants target ethanol unit

China plans to double fuel ethanol consumption to 10 million metric tons in the 10 years to 2020, China Agri-Industries Holdings Ltd, the nation's largest rice producer, said in February. The government is promoting the use of ethanol gasoline to cut emissions and fuel imports as car demand rises.

Energy to burn: fossil fuels

Oil is not running out. You heard it from Mark Jaccard first. In his new book, Sustainable Fossil Fuels, Jaccard, a professor in the school of resource and environmental management at Simon Fraser University, explains why there's no need to worry about our dependency on non-renewable energy. He believes oil, natural gas and coal will fuel the global energy system for decades to come--and in ways that don't pollute.

OPEC ministers to keep output steady

OPEC oil ministers agree that their organization should maintain production levels, a senior Libyan oil official said Thursday, signaling they will opt for the status quo in their formal decision later in the day.

OPEC revises upwards world oil demand forecast

OPEC on Thursday raised slightly its forecast for world oil demand growth, although it voiced concern about possible economic weakness that could erode oil demand.

2 Italian oil workers freed in Nigeria

Militants on Thursday released two Italian oil worker hostages who were seized more than three months ago in Nigeria's restive southern region, militants and officials said.

Auto execs, lawmakers focus on climate

U.S. automakers and a top union official pledged Wednesday to work with Congress to find new ways of dealing with global warming but declared their industry could not bear the burden alone.

World may get greener, then wilt, due warming

Global warming is expected to turn the planet a bit greener by spurring plant growth but crops and forests may wilt beyond mid-century if temperatures keep rising, according to a draft U.N. report.

New Hampshire towns press Washington on warming

Nearly 90 New Hampshire towns have passed resolutions urging Washington to act on climate change, hoping to use the state's powerful role in the presidential race to bring attention to global warming.

Climate change has parched Aussie farmers looking north

Two-thirds of Australia's freshwater flows down the great tropical rivers of the north, compared with less than five percent in the depleted waterways of the south.

It is hardly surprising, then, that a government task force this week will begin studying the prospects of encouraging Australia's farmers to bow to the harsh realities of drought and climate change, and head north. Critics, however, warn that the north's own climate peculiarities, lack of infrastructure, and indigenous land claims could make industrial-scale farming a risky venture.

Hybrids: The Not So Shocking Truth
By Paul Niedermeyer
March 15, 2007

Mention the word “hybrid” on an automotive internet site and commentators clump into two camps. It’s either “I save the planet while getting 97.467 mpg driving my Prius up Pikes Peak” or “I search and destroy hippy trust-fund Prius drivers with my jacked-up diesel F-350”. Despite this ongoing socio-political clash over mixed propulsion, hybrid sales have brought the technology into the mainstream. Which puts us in a better place to answer the obvious question: what’s the future beyond the hype?

In the automobile’s infancy, battery electric vehicles (BEV’s) outsold and, in many famous cases, outperformed cars powered by internal combustion engines. But lead-acid batteries limited the BEV’s range, dooming them to obsolescence. In 1902, Ferdinand Porsche attempted to forestall the inevitable by developing the first gas - electric hybrid. Needless to say, Herr Porsche had better luck with gas-powered tanks and sports cars.

A hundred years later, Toyota had the guts, vision and cash to develop their groundbreaking series/parallel hybrid drive (gas engine and electric motor alternately or simultaneously propelling the car) using NiMH batteries. Despite its success, Toyota’s Synergy Drive has generally been seen as a transitional technology.

GM’s highly touted Volt concept (which follows Porsche’s principles closely) supposedly represents The Next Big Thing. It’s a serial hybrid– an internal combustion engine runs a generator that charges batteries that power the electric drive motor. Conceptually, it's the most efficient arrangement.


Not a bad primer; some good comments.

Leanan and Editors,

Please can we ban the spammer Radzalti

I'll ask SuperG to do it, if he doesn't see the request here.

I've been keeping my eye on radzalti. The last couple of days, he's been posting weird comments. Just nonsense, like a cat walking over your keyboard, and random phrases like "i hate spam" or "i love spaming."

My guess: a spammer testing his spambot, or someone who has been banned, trying to see what he can get away with.

Do a Google search and you'll see that this person has been doing similar things on other sites. All "footprints" seem to be very recent.

Hello Leanan - I'm not sure what radzalti is, but it seems like some attention to the fairly hard to classify comments might be worthwhile - the account almost seems a test if anyone is paying attention to what goes on in the threads.

The wild and wooly Internet at its best - till now, radzalti gets a Hithhiker's Guide rating of mostly harmless.

Jeff Brown (aka WestTexas) on the Wall Street Journal Energy blog:


Jaccard's book and premise (CTL, etc. profitable at $40) reminds me of every mutual fund ad I've seen. Assuming an 8% risk-free return (8% AFTER INFLATION) if you just invest (give us) $2.00 a day in 20 years you will be worth $6 million blah blah blah. You start with a silly premise (all these alternatives profitable at $40) and then run with it. No discussion of the massive amount of investment necessary or the curious lack of interest in putting money in such an obvious gold mine.

Jaccard's book and premise (CTL, etc. profitable at $40) reminds me of every mutual fund ad I've seen.

There is a fatal flaw in every one of these projections, which I have observed before. Yes, if oil today is $20/bbl, then CTL projected at $40/bbl is profitable. However, one of the biggest problems with this kind of projection is that once oil reaches $40/bbl, everything associated with building the CTL plant is now more expensive. So now we say with oil at $40/bbl, CTL will be profitable at $60/bbl. And the cycle goes on.

This is exactly why GTL projects are being abandoned and tar sands projects are facing sky-rocketing costs: As oil prices increased, project costs increased, equipment costs increased, energy costs increased, labor costs increased and suddenly break even moved further away. In my honest opinion, the break even cost for CTL is going to be over $100/bbl.

Robert, I named this the Law of Receding Horizons a few days ago.

What's true for CTL and tarsands is true for just about any form of "alternative" energy I can see. And it's only getting worse. The costs for the MacKenzie Valley pipeline, supposed to feed natural gas into Alberta, are now estimated at $16 billion, 4 times higher than a 2002/3 estimate. A CO2 sequestration pipeline in Canada went from $1.5 to $5 billion in 2 years.

I asked if anyone could come up with numbers to support "my" Law. Your $100 bbl for CTL is the first. Any idea for tarsands? I know, it could gallop way further than today. "At current prices" may not prove much. As you say, the cycle goes on.

Ethanol, corn version, is a prime example. Its production raises corn prices, which in turn raises ethanol production prices. And rising oil prices hurt ethanol production too. At what corn price would the whole thing collapse?

As I said before, supply and demand don't hold here, corn prices can't rise indefinitely, the market is not infinitely flexible. People need to eat.

Are there alternatives which _don't_ obey this law? Wind seems to have reached a _real_ breakeven point, and solar thermal seems to be pretty close also. If (a big if) battery technology continues to improve along 3 dimensions (cost, energy density, power density) at its recent rate, I am expecting that we will be able to _start_ the conversion to renewable-energy powered private transportation in about 5 years (and I don't expect that horizon to recede...)

Global peak: 2007 - 2010
Global decline rate, Post peak: 2%
Economic response: Severe global recession, ~5 years, then slow recovery

Didn't we also have this with the "Synfuels" 'way back in Jimmy Carter's day? IIRC it seems like the price of the "synfuel" was always a little more per barrel than the cost of ordinary oil - no matter how high the price of that ordinary oil.

This is the EROI treadmill that has me very concerned to the point I dismiss peak oil. Not that they are not related but the real problem is peak EROI.

Cheap energy is so deeply embedded in our society its not clear we even know how badly long term rising or even high energy costs effect it. My own take is that even in our present situation a lot of processes are going negative on EROI.

For example consider a existing plastic toy manufacture say his factory equipment was built 15 years ago with cheap oil.

Next consider creating one today with equipment created in a resource constrained world. Unless innovation has allowed the new equipment to work faster better and more efficient the new toy manufacture is not competitive with the old one.

This means you get no new tow manufacture or if you do they use a lot more used recycled equipment.

No problem with this but as you can see this means toy equipment manufactures take a beating and many go out of business maybe the remaining ones have to raise prices to cover manufacturing costs or try to move to a cheaper location.

So the first thing that starts to die is manufactures of equipment for factories. This is exactly the place that the US Europe and Japan compete i.e we still build a lot of the equipment for factories in china. It's almost all imported from abroad. I've toured a few factories in china and very little of the equipment for the factory itself is made in china and what little is made there is generally from a factory controlled by a western or japanese firm. Simple labor costs are not a big issue for this type of equipment.

I brought this up because we focus on EROI issues that directly effect production but its easy to see that it snowball's out and effects every faucet of or society.
In many cases it results in certain actions not taken so its hard to see. In my example a new factory is not built or is built using recycled equipment which may even have higher energy requirements believed to be made up by lower capitol costs. This would and could change rapidly in a environment of rising energy costs.

The systematic risk of moving to a high EROI environment is
large and unknown.

A similar phenomenon is a wage-price spiral. It wouldn't surprise me a bit if you never see CTL/oil sands/shale as economically satisfactory substitutes.

Correct and high commodity prices tend to feed inflation.
The problem is not matter how I model it higher EROI/inflations leads to a downward spiral of positive feedback loops.

I'm beginning to grasp how the Roman Empire fell after so many years. We tend to focus on the big events but the reality is that expansion stopped the economy quit growing since it was the war machine and settlement/trade that drove the economy then EROI dropped. Then the feedback loops strengthen and you collapse.

Note that this is the type of economy people envision as our savior after oil since it was based primarily on renewable energy.

You can look at China which generally can be considered a large closed economy it followed a boom/bust cycle.

This says that renewable sources are not a solution.

I think we need to do a lot more thinking about our future.

Memmel, I think it says that all energy sources with low EROi are no solution, and only look to be as long as externalities are ignored. Something we're every good at.

In our present state, there seems to be a connection between EROI and capital costs that remains a bit ill-defined, but it has to be there, even though in the end energy can only be correctly priced in energy cost.

I have also thought about the connection between low EROI and capitol costs. The simple example I use is that if energy is expensive you actually spend more on capitol investment to lower long term energy costs.

The example is buildings from the middle ages and earlier still standing in Europe. It worth it to build really well once. So to me the connection is that you quickly move towards a society of thrift or more correctly well spent money.

A throw away society like ours would burn itself up quickly in a low EROI environment. In a sense its a bit strange that you have to start looking back 500 years and earlier into history to try and understand how our ancestors lived and often thrived at the energy levels that existed at the time.

So I think you can see capitol cost rising quite a bit from todays levels since your building to last.

Hi memmel,

re: "You can look at China which generally can be considered a large closed economy it followed a boom/bust cycle.

This says that renewable sources are not a solution."

If you have a chance, could you possibly expand on this a bit more? (What time period, how do you define "closed" and "large", what about the role of leadership?, how do you see the boom/bust cycle?) (Or any other way you might find to explain a little more.)


Time period about 5,000 years :)

No China is physically isolated by mountains and deserts and to the north Siberia. So it has real constraints on how far it could expand. If you read the history China rose and fell many times in wealth. The same with Eygpt and India all three can be considered reasonable isolated civilizations. The thesis holds for all three. China and India are much larger and more diverse than Eygpt so they better represent a region less impacted by regional weather patterns. India never really unified like China did so constant warfare had a bigger effect. Overall China pre 1800 is I think the best example of a long lasting advanced civilization built on low EROI.

China went through numerous dynasties and periods of warfare and peace and growth through its long history. If you read the trigging event for warfare was increasingly heavy taxes in a lot of the cases. Wealth would concentrate at the center and excess consumption would lead to a increase in taxes which eventually lead to revolt. The treasury would be drained a new Emperor installed and the cycle starts again.

The problem is the rich tend to get richer and in a fixed EROI society this eventually leads to revolt and conditions become unbearable.

None of our ancestors managed to convert this incremental yearly wealth into long term wealth for all the people.
Not that this could not have happened but the tendency tends to inexorably lead to the creation of a wasteful and inefficient ruling class that at some point collapsed under its own weight. This points to the real need for socialism like concepts in the face of low EROI. You can look at Israeli Kibbutz's for a example of socialism done well or even farmers co-ops in the US. It does not have to have negative connotations. I'm not advocating socialism but the facts seem to indicate that it could help dissipate the wealth away from the central elite which is whats critical.

Notice the only reason we have escaped this fate so far is that oil/coal extraction has continuously pumped the economy so even though we too have seen the rich get richer enough money is flowing in in the form of oil and product made from and with it that we don't collapse.

Since we have already primed the pump so to speak by having a wealth concentrated about as much as possible now before we move to a low EROI society my thesis points to a rapid collapse once the prop of oil is removed. Lets hope we have mitigating factors that offset 5,000 years of history I'm not exactly confident. I guess you could say that regardless of EROI or resources mans greed is infinite so without a basically infinite energy source collapse must happen since the wealthy cannot stop accumulating wealth.

Just like the black holes at the centers of galaxies have a effect on the evolution of the galaxy far greater than their size so does the infinite greed of our small ruling class effect all the people in the world.

To be honest I'd rather be one of the elite near the middle of a cycle so I'm not some sort of anti-rich. I think I'd make a great super rich person given the chance :) This does not change the facts.

Oh come off it. Everyone is doing the doomster cheerleading on this but CTL is profitable today, and will continue to be profitable while oil is over $40/bbl. We see companies making tentative moves towards CTL but we dont see a big rush because:
1. The capital is very expensive and people still fear a price crash.

2. Oil still isn't expensive enough that you cant make more money somewhere besides CTL. The opportunity cost is still too high. People would rather stick it in gas fields, conventional oil, even the tar sands.

But big CTL projects are being built now where they would never have been considered a decade ago. As people become more comfortable with a price floor well above 40-50 dollars per barrel, we'll see more of a funds commited towards CTL, GTL, tar sands and the rest.

Dez: Since you seem to know, when will people become "comfortable" that oil will stay above $40? When it breaks $100, $200, $300? Just wondering.

Its not a matter of price, but a matter of time. Allready large CTL projects are being commissioned.

China plans to double fuel ethanol consumption to 10 million metric tons in the 10 years to 2020, China Agri-Industries Holdings Ltd, the nation's largest rice producer, said in February.

Just last week, from China Daily:

China will this year invest more in biomass ethanol projects over maize-based ones because of a lack of grain.

"The current maize-ethanol production capacity has far surpassed what the corn output can provide as an important grain resource," Du Ying, vice-minister of National Development and Reform Commission, said.

"We are researching all kinds of biomass energy options, and others include sorghum ethanol and coal diesel oil projects," Yang Xiongnian, deputy director of science and technology, education and rural environment department of the ministry told China Daily.

"But establishing new maize ethanol projects should be temporarily stopped."

Regarding the article Study: Coal industry faces bleak future, the co-chairs of the MIT study, John Deutch and Ernest Moniz, have a long op-ed piece in today's Wall Street Journal:

A Future for Fossil Fuel (paid subscription required)

The essay argues for putting a price on CO2 emissions (either tax or cap and trade), which will 1) reduce demand for electricity, 2) provide incentives for nuclear and renewable fuels, and 3) make technology to reduce CO2 emissions more economic. It also discusses technologies for carbon sequestration, e.g. Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC), oxygen-fired supercritical pulverized coal combustion, and fluidized bed combustion. The authors then say "neither government nor industry will make the required level of technology investment -- so long as the current administration does not adopt serious carbon reduction policies in a timely fashion."

This piece takes up over half a page in the two-page op-ed spread, and is the lead guest opinion piece today. It is significant, in my opinion, that the WSJ has prominently published an opinion piece that does not dismiss global warming (don't count on the unsigned editorials to support this position anytime soon, however), but accepts it as scientific consensus and then goes on to discuss solutions.

If you thought that was amazing, have you seen this?

Kudos to Fox News

Shaybah, Deep in the Rub al-Khali

From the link above, Saudi Aramco's Shaybah expansion breaks ground.

The program marks the expansion of an oil field that is among the most remote in Saudi Arabia, about 900 kilometers from Dhahran in the Rub' al-Khali. Those who have been there agree that the location, topography and climate make the area both challenging and interesting.
Salt flats, called sabkhas, of about two square kilometers each are interspersed among sand dunes up to 200 meters high. In summer, temperatures can reach 52 degrees centigrade, or 125 degrees Fahrenheit.

One of my contacts in Saudi Arabia has told me about this. He has flown into the sabkha where the Shaybah GOSP is located several times. He was simply amazed that such a place could exist. That is, a clear flat area amongst 200 meter high dunes. That is not surprising, what gets me, and him, is that these clearings are permanent! That is, the dunes never overrun them. The dunes grow and wane on the very edge of the sabkah but they never invade the clearing. I still don’t understand it, but I am sure if I researched it I could find the explination.

But the dunes, many 200 meters high, completely surround the sabkah. Piping the injection seawater in, and the oil out is a major operation and an ongoing task to keep the pipelines in operation. It is a very, very expensive ongoing operation.

Strange that they would go to all this trouble and expense when they have an almost unlimited supply of oil available without having to battle dunes with pipelines.

Ron Patterson

Are Qatif, Haradh III and Shaybah all Light or Extra Light fields?

If so, it looks to be the case that Saudi is going after its premium-priced export grades first.

If I recall correctly, simple refineries (those that refine light sweet crudes) are potentially undersupplied with product, whereas complex refineries (which process heavy sour grades) are themselves in short supply.

It would make sense for Saudi to first look to develop projects for which there is more than ample demand (light crudes) whilst waiting for extensions and new build complex refineries to add to processing capacity for heavy and/or sour grades.

I think this imbalance of Saudi supply versus refinery demand could be one of the reasons that they did not export as much as maybe could have been expected during last summer's price rise. It might also lead to the suspicion that Saudi is peaking not in all crude, but in Light and Extra Light grades....

Just throwing that out there as a discussion point... I am merely speculating, but my logic makes sense to me at least.

Haradh is medium light, 32 degrees API, but very sour, 2.15% sulfur content by weight. Qatif, according to Simmons, is light but extremely sour. Shaybah is light but I haven't heard the sulfur content.

Qatif has a very serious hydrogen sulfide problem. It is located in a highly populated area with only 15% of the reservoir jutting into the Persion Gulf. Aramco officials fear a leak of hydrogen sulfide gas, (sour gas), could kill hundreds in the area. Saudi is going to great expense to try to avoid any such disaster on Qatif's platforms. Workers must carry gas masks at all times. Hydrogen sulfice also causes extensive corrosion problems in the popelines.

From 1951 through 1966 production at Qatif fluctuated between 15,000 and 40,000 barrels per day. In 1979 production at Qatif reached its highest ever, 150,000 barrels per day. By 1982 production at Qatif had fallen to 40,000 barrels per day, despite the fact that Saudi Arabia was straining to keep its total oil production at all time high levels. (Simmons, page 216)

I think it will be a miracle if Qatif ever produces the 500,000 barrels per day that Aramco says it will.

Ron Patterson

Stuart Staniford posted a chart the other day suggesting Qatif has been producing at around 700 kbpd since about mid-2005. (http://www.theoildrum.com/files/ksa_field_breakdown.png)

Notwithstanding, it still appears that Saudi is looking to bring on production of Medium to Extra Light (today's article says Shaybah is Extra Light) crudes in its recent mega-projects.

Is this due to refinery demand, price, availability or ease of production in Saudi, etc? And does it suggest that Saudi is facing a depletion problem in Medium/Light grades rather than across the entire spectrum? IE they may have an abundance of Heavy reserves, but not enough global capacity to refine them?

I know, I read that. 500,000 bp/d is supposed to come from Qatif and another 300,000 bp/d from Abu Sa'fah.

I don't think this level of production was ever realized however. And if it was, it was only for a short spell. If you inject a million barrels of water, close to that amount must come out. But such production can only be maintained for only a short time. Qatif has proven, in the past, to be mostly depleted. Injecting more water will not put more oil in the ground. It can increase production but only for a short time.

Ron Patterson

Fair enough.

What about my main question? Is it possible, or even likely, that we are seeing Saudi concentrate on trying to counter depletion-related production declines in Medium to Extra Light grades whilst at the same time having potentially substantial reserves of Heavy grades for which demand is currently constrained by a global shortage of complex refining capacity?

Good theory but in practice it does not hold up. There is always a market for their oil, no matter how heavy or how sour. Every month the ratio of heavy oil to light rises just a little as we are well past "peak light oil." When this happens the discount price widens until the demand for heavy oil matches the supply of heavy oil.

But nevertheless you make the exact same argument that OPEC made last year:

Anyone who has oil of less than 30 API can't find buyers.

However as the article above points out, not everyone is buying that argument. Also the world's ability to refine heavy sour crude is changing rapidly as the industry recognizes the trend and changes refining capacity to match it.

Valero finds itself in this enviable position because it was "so quick to recognize the [heavy, sour crude] trend—well before the rest of the market,"

Bottom line, Saudi Arabia can sell all the heavy sour crude it can produce, just like everyone else in the world. All they must do is discount it to the level of the world market price for that API.

Ron Patterson

Thanks Ron. The Oxford Energy document is very interesting. I quote from that: "heavy crude oils.. have a low share of light hydrocarbons and require much more complex refining process than distillation (such as coking and cracking) to produce similar proportions of the more valuable petroleum products".

The Al-Naimi statement "nobody wants heavy oil, there are no refineries that handle heavy oil" was plainly incorrect. However, in an environment where both WTI/Brent prices and OECD stocks were at all time highs, the only politically acceptable way for OPEC to cut back production was through raising the price on Heavy grades to a price that made them unattractive to simple refiners.

This was due to massive discounting (to crude) in prices for residual fuel oil, asphalt, etc. The fuel oil discounts were driven, I believe, in large part by the pricing of NG at low levels due to a large storage carry-through from the warm 2005/06 winter and to the lack of hurricane activity in summer 2006.

The Oxford Energy pdf explains the situation far better than I have managed in my summary above. However they do not make the link between the huge discounts on fuel oil that prevailed last summer (if I recall, fuel oils traded at $25/barrel under WTI) and the price of NG, which was cheaper still, thus signifcantly cutting power station demand for fuel oil.

Since the fuel oil cut from Heavy crude is higher for simple refineries than for complex refineries, I would guess (and it's only a guess) that demand was cut for Heavy crude as simple refiners would have incurred a net loss on product sales.

If I'm not mistaken, I believe the issue lies more with the sulfur content than with the weight of the oil. High sulfur I believe is often pre-processed out of the oil before it is shipped to refineries (mountains of sulfur in Kazakhstan). A refinery can refine light or heavy, with heavier crude there is more asphalt and other heavy fractions resulting in the refining process.

In all honesty ET, I do not know. That would be a great question for our resident refinery expert Robert Rapier. Or perhaps someone else could research it and answer that question.

But since the oil from Haradh and Qatif is so heavly laden with sulfur it would be great to know how this changes the value of the oil.

Ron Patterson

Robert has written on this in his

Refining 101: The Assay Essay

U.S. inflation data heat up

Food prices rose 1.9%, as prices for unprocessed foods rose 11.2%. Fresh fruit prices rose 15.7% and fresh vegetable prices rose 8.3%. Pasta prices rose 4.3%, the most in 11 years. Food prices have been rising rapidly, in part in response to the diversion of corn into the ethanol market as a substitute for gasoline.

Post Peak Oil Prediction: Food/Energy Inflation + Auto/Housing/Finance Deflation

Want to change the world but can't figure out why they just don't seem to get it?

If they are of the clueless group but don't pick up your well reasoned points, read:

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

If they are of the group who have a clue but the wrong ones and get really pissed when you politely point out that they are all wet, read:

Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High

And IMO pay attention to this ASU professor:

Robert Cialdini

The very interesting stuff he's uncovered on what motivates us to change our behavior is both surprising and counter intuitive. He's joined the tent of "we can't keep on this way" - an hour or so long mp3 presentation to a climate change conference if you have the time. (I think the link was on TOD previously but I can't find it)

[Editing to correct some grammar and to try to practice what I'm preaching above]

Re: the "dimwits" article on PCF bulbs...that might explain why my luck with them has been so terrible. I don't generally leave lights on for long periods of time. My typical use is to flick it on as I go in a room to get something or put it away, then flick it off. This is why I find the dimness when you first turn them so annoying. By the time it's up to speed, I'm leaving the room and turning off the light already.

It took awhile before I convinced my fiance to use the CFL's and I tell you what we have a five light vanity.

It only uses three CFL's and its still almost too bright. I only buy the blue label boxes...thes ones that are the hottest and consequently not as efficient as the dingier yellow ones. The blue label is sunlight rated and it's pure white light. When I first popped in 5 CFL's into that vanity she was pissed! She kept saying they weren't bright enough and I made my point.

It helped that they were all the 100W rated equiv but the house is mostly converted and I mixed the bright white with some middle yellow (there's 3 levels at home depot) and I notice the ywllow actually pops on quicker than the white, but within 30 secs the white light is much brighter. Well worth it in my opinion.


I've been 100% fluorescent for years and used some CFs for some 15+ years now, and have used many different kinds. Some start very, very dim, which is annoying, others start at fairly close to full brightness. Some have lasted for many years in unvented fixtures, others seem to die young even in more favorable fixtures. There really is a great diversity and unfortunately the selection is the stores changes constantly so it's hard to buy the same thing twice if you find a type you like. Color varies widely, too. Stores love lit-up displays, but I've never seen CF bulbs on working display, which is unfortunate since that would be genuinely useful.

I think there are a number of factual errors or at least exaggerations in the dimwits article, for example that you can't get dimmable CFLs (false) or that they flicker (true with older magnetic ballasts, but largely false with newer electronic ballasts). By the way, the article references writing by Rod Elliott of Elliott Sound Products in Australia - Should There be a Ban on Incandescent Lamps? - which is much better than the dimwits article but also very technical.

That said, CFLs are not a panacea. I have been using them in my house for several years and they exhibit a variety of different behaviors. Some come on right away, and one comes on in two discrete stages, dim for a few seconds, then on to full bright. At a hotel we stayed at last month, the lights took several minutes to come up to full brightness (these were the kind with the fluorescent tube encased inside a traditional bulb). Then there is the color temperature and color rendering index, which vary widely among CFLs and between CFLs and incandescents. To date, though, I have not had a single CFL fail (I turn them on and off a fair amount, but not excessively).

My sense is that lighting in general, and CFL lighting specifically, is entering a period of "technological ferment," that is, the field is changing rapidly as the incandescent light is being challenged by newer technologies. As such, consumers are probably best served by being flexible and experimenting with various technologies as appropriate. The same goes for policy makers, i.e. I am not in favor of an outright ban on incandescent lights and the anointing of CFLs as the winner. I think Energy Star ratings or an eventual tax on incandescents would be a better way to go.

You've never had one fail???!!!!

I go through those suckers like Kleenex. I've been using them over my fishtanks for five or six years, and the bulbs burn out maybe yearly (more often if there are a lot of thunderstorms). But it does get pretty hot in summer, which may be the issue there.

I've been using PCFs in household fixtures for about two years now, and have had maybe a dozen burn out. I'm even using them bare-bulbed in some places, to improve ventilation, and they still burn out. The most-used light fixture has probably burned out three or four times in two years.

I have no idea what your difficulty is, but we are almost exclusively PCF in our house and have had essentially no problem. I do think they don't last as long as claimed, nor are they quite as bright as claimed relative to incandescent, but they are certainly going 3-4 years or much more and do great for us.

I have to think that your power supply may be getting spiked a lot or something.. I've gotten some cheap ones that didn't last too long, but generally they go and go for me, too. There was talk the last time this came up a couple months ago about bad bits of wiring letting the current (quite possibly invisibly) 'jiggle' enough to kill the ballasts so fast.

We're probaly 95% CFL's here, with a few tungsten lights, almost always on dimmers and well down ON the dimmer, as these will be accents or 'fun' lights..

I've been playing more and more with LED's too. This xmas saw a lot of LED strings on the shelves, and they draw something like 4-6 watts, with some really nice colors to them. I have gotten some LED lights from SUPERBRIGHTLEDS.com, and now have and acceptable 'White light' for under a kitchen counter, by mixing a strip of the Whites (with their bluish moonlight cast), and a strip of yellow/amber LEDS.. the balance is pretty pleasing. I haven't read the wattage yet, since this is on Solar DC, and doesn't allow my Kill-a-Watt meter to check it out. Guess I could use a wall-wort and read that..

Bob Fiske


Something has to be wrong. We have been using CF's for years--one has failed. We replaced the our bulb's in our track lighting system. These bulbs pumped out big heat. The CF's are bright and have not failed (except for the one).

Based on my experience over several years and many batches of CF's from different vendors, I would say there is HUGE variability in the quality of these things. Some do take forever to come up to full brightness. Some come up right away. Some crap out way too soon. Some seem to last forever.

I'd like to see a "cradle to grave" analysis of CF's. I mean, they've got to be a bit more energy intensive to manufacture, and one suspects they involve some fairly exotic materials.

Anyone have a link that might discuss this?

Labeled as a 1999 Consumer Reports article:

We recommend that you stick with bulbs from General Electric, Osram Sylvania, and Philips. Avoid bulbs from Lights of America; in our experience, they don't provide as much light, nor do they last as as long as the package claims.


Also a big pdf that mentions barriers of poor quality back in the 90s. I bought all name brands in the 00s and still got bad ones:

Thanks for the pointers, Donal!

There is someone running a private CF page with personal test data and lots of info on different types/brands.



It's true, I have never had one fail. You must have some exceptional conditions. Here are a few suggestions:

1. Call your power company and tell them you have a problem with CFLs and ask them for help. If you can't get anywhere with them you might be able to get them to come do an energy audit and you can ask the auditor when he or she comes over to your apartment.

2. Do a test in which you leave a CFL (of the type that is failing on you) on all the time in a well-ventilated location, say a simple table or floor lamp with no switch or wiring problems, and see how long it takes to fail. If it fails quickly, then that strongly suggests a power line problem. If it doesn't fail, then that points more to a usage issue, e.g. too many on/off cycles, poor ventilation, etc.

3. Ask your friends, neighbors, and work colleagues if they have the same problems. If, for example, your neighbors are having the same problems, that suggests a power line problem.

4. Send an e-mail to a local reporter who writes about energy and ask him or her about the problem.

Today's Guardian has an interview with James Lovelock:

Where did we go wrong? "If we were hunter-gatherers and this was a bigger planet we would be all right. But we're not: we're farmers and that's what's screwed us up. There are just too many of us living the way we do. Our wrongdoing has been to take energy hundreds of times faster than it is made naturally available."

How can we reduce human population to more sustainable levels? "We can't solve the problem. There's no human way of cutting numbers. You can empower women and persuade them to have fewer children butwe don't have the time for that."


The article is titled `We should be scared stiff´. Anybody around who isn't...?

I'm a little scared, but when Robert admits with 100% confidence that we are past Global Peak, it is then that I will be truly and stiffly scared.

You see, I am using WT, Stuart, and Robert as my range of certainties around the question of "when is peak?"

WT takes (in my mind) the most liberal prediction (we are past or it is now).

Stuart (in my mind) takes a liberal viewpoint on timing, but he's not 100% sure about if we have hit peak yet.

Robert brackets the conservative viewpoint within the "near-termers". He is not sure and doesn't see anything wildly abnormal about production and price figures at this point in time. When he joins the camp of "yea, I think we're there"...I think the jig will be up.

There you go...you guys are my confidence intervals when I analyze your comments.

Stuart (in my mind) takes a liberal viewpoint on timing, but he's not 100% sure about if we have hit peak yet.

Obviously, I can't speak for Stuart, but he posted an article last year, on how we were probably at or past peak, and I can't imagine anyone asserting that Saudi Arabia is in terminal decline, but we have not peaked (at least for crude + condensate).

Forgive me for stating the obvious: it will be a year or two after peak that you can have any significant certainty it has occured.

Robert may be 100% certain but that is no certainty it has occured. You must jump to your own conclusion, you should not wish to trust anyone on this. Rational analysis suggests sometime 2010-2012, yet there are some compelling indications it's about now, and some who think it is decades away.

Prudently, it would not be unwise to make and activate contingency plans (or at least be instantly ready to) within 6 months or so. Grab a piece of paper and sketch out your perceptions, work out the costs and benefits of jumping too soon rather than too late.

In a sense it is your confidence intervals that are most relevant ;)

Agric...I started my plans for the future about 3 years ago. I'm just bidding my time, trying to make as much money as possible before my job gets yanked. I have not put off ANY preparations. The preparations are ongoing. This game of "when" is merely that in my mind...a game. It is entertaining to watch from the sidelines, but in the meantime the world plods on trying to cope with the unknown future.

The "when" may not be known, as you say, for years after the event, but I am acting like WT is correct. It's the only safe and sane way to act. If he's wrong, then I've got a head start on most of the world.

The problem with James Lovelock is that he is an unapologetic doomer. I tried to read his book, and basically his whole stance is that no matter what we do, we're screwed.

This whole "in 50 years we're going to be living like cavemen up around the arctic cricle" is crap. Living organisms adapt. Egypt is already hotter then hell, and they have a huge population living there. Columbia, Costa Rica, Brazil, same thing.

The global warming reality is that within 5 years C02 emissions from petroleum will be declining. And we've got what, maybe another 20 or 30 years untill Coal peaks? After that it'll be a long gradual decline. Yeah I know, "but the effects of CO2 will be with us for 100 years after it's burnt..." Seriously, what's 100 years? The earth has a billion+ years left.

Even if we cut production through a huge carbon tax, it's all still going to get burnt, just not as rapidly. If you think otherwise, you're crazy.

But but ... we're gonna run out of water!
But but ... we're gonna run out of top soil!
But but ... the oceans are gonna rise!
... Think of the Polar Bears!

Peak Energy solves global warming. Peak Energy solves the population crisis. Peak Energy probably means the fall of present day civilization. It happened to the Ancient Egyptians. It happened to the Greeks. It happened to the Romans...

If you're really concerned about Peak Energy, figure out how to live a low energy lifestyle. Insulate. Move somewhere with public electric transportation. Put up a couple of solar panels. Move to a smaller house. Live below your means. Grow some tomatoes in your backyard. Basically start adapting.


The problem with James Lovelock is that he is an unapologetic doomer. I tried to read his book, and basically his whole stance is that no matter what we do, we're screwed.

Yes, that would be a serious problem. People want to know "what we must do to be saved!" Then once the Guru tells them what they must do, they then go about their business, confident that the poweres that be will do just that and save us all.

Of course it will not happen. Arguments never change the world, only events cause people to do anything. But then I have made that arguement before and I know you are tired of hearing it.

Lovelock tells the truth and telling the truth is a serious problem. People simply do not wish to hear the truth. He should tell us something we wish to believe. Tell us everything will be okay if only we do this or that. If only...if only...if only..

But I must comment on this line of yours:

Peak Energy solves the population crisis.

Yes it does. Spoken like an unapologetic doomer! Peak oil and peak energy will cause the world population to crash, dramatically.

Ron Patterson

For once Darwinian says something I just plain agree with.

Lovelock may be right or wrong on a lot of details but his take on the magnitude of the issue is realistic. Or at least closer to the mark than most.

The Guardian had this on the online front page today. It's a mass circulation daily newspaper. News of the day over there, here (even on TOD) it's called doomer porn. Perceptions vary.
Lovelock fans stateside are still mooning for Gaia/Bambi or Gaia/Mommy who saves the day.

Ron, the thread yesterday, the Jaynes book. Don't read it, your first impression will not change.

Thanks Old Hippie. Reality is a very hard thing for a lot of people to face. Denial is the order of the day.

No, I won't read the Jaynes. I thumbed through it again this morning. It seemed even weirder than I remembered. "Voices in the head" was what we had to guide us before the development consciousness.

Ron Patterson

I missed yesterday's reference, but assume you're talking about The Origins of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. Most likely we'll never know how much of Jaynes's conjectures are accurate, but what seemed most compelling to me was this (and he doesn't give this reasoning quite explicitly, if I'm remembering right):

  • Language and consciousness are not the same thing.
  • One can imagine language without consciousness, but not consciousness without language.
  • Therefore, it's at least conceivable that there was a period of time when human beings had language but lacked consciousness.

(Note to bystanders who find the above completely loony: by "consciousness" Jaynes specifically means our ability to stand outside of ourselves and view our existence in the context of time, not merely the awareness of and reactivity to surroundings that is common to all animals.)

Loony, unverifiable, provocative. There was a little discussion of Greek mythology and I threw Jaynes in.

The second "One can imagine language without consciousness, but not consciousness without language" completely floored me. A WTF? From reading, introspection and living I am near (>95%) certain that consciousness - even on Jaynes's narrower definition - precedes language or is independent of it. Heck, I've not even agreed an acceptable understanding of consciousness with myself and reality, so who am I to question? I'd like to revisit this in more detail but not for about 2 months - reality intervenes.

Hi Agric,

I support your sharing your personal observations.

Anyway, just something to think about re: language...people usually (I've found) respond to a friendly hand wave. Little kids, older "kids", people who don't speak English - at least, this is my (admittedly limited) experience. I've also found you can start this, and after a while, people you've greeted in this way, (but never formally met), will wave to you first.

I think Lovelock is right that we should go back to being hunter-gatherers. From our encampments by the river we'll go out into the savannah foraging for switchgrass to make cellulosic ethanol. When a patch is exhausted we'll move on...the wet tropics in the case of dryland farmers.

Mel Gibson says foreign wars are a form of human sacrifice. So I guess we are slowly getting back to our primordial roots.

Lovelock tells the truth and telling the truth is a serious problem.

You can't sell the truth if the truth is negative. That's why we need solutions. You CAN sell a solution.

If we're all screwed anyways, might as well party it up as long possible, no?


Sorry, all out of solutions. Check back tomorrow - we're expecting a new delivery of solutions at any moment.

WTF? This isn't a retail operation. The truth is the truth. If you can't sell it as such, fine. But to pervert the truth into something that "sells", for the sake of making a sale, strikes me as a bit, well, not particularly useful.

At some point you just bear witness and try to get ready for what's to come.

All of that is why I find it interesting that Lovelock can be sold on the front page of the Guardian. My only guess is that it has something to do with the continuously warm warm weather over there loosening mental cobwebs. Maybe.

Maybe... meanwhile, here in NH, USA, after several days of spring weather (70 yesterday), we're looking at a foot of snow tomorrow night.

I teach environmental science classes, and I have stopped using the term Global Warming. I now call it "Global Weirding".

But people's attitude re: these global things changes day to day - was it warm? was it cold? Very short memories...

The Guardian is a ‘progressive’, ‘left’ paper, British style. Thus, it veers more towards social science (if any paper can be said to veer towards science which is doubtful..) than to natural science and precise facts; so Lovelock doom is permissible, even if it feels ‘outlandish’. Brit. papers are also much more into hypotheses, speculation, etc. than their US counterparts. Lastly, many would say that the Guardian’s reputation for accuracy is, for a ‘serious’ paper, not very good. They sometimes go off ‘half-cocked’ as the Brits say, hot headed reporters and all that - not very measured or careful. The quality and tone is various and mixed; not standardised, like e.g. the Times. (Seen from Switzerland!)

I would only add one thing -

Peak Oil/Energy does NOT solve global warming until it solves the population crisis.

On the downslope, people will burn, cut down and liquify anything and everything to keep the lights on one more day...this will not help global warming but more likely increase its impact.

Yes, yes...unapologetic doomer. Who should I apologize too? Maybe mother nature has already made her choice...

It's all about population!

I am not a doomer, I don't think I'm blind, and I don't believe the truth is as obvious as some would like to think.

I, and I'm pretty sure oldhippie lived through the arab oil embargo. People keep claiming that it will be like that and worse, and get worse from there. I understand why people think this (I think) but want to mentiona few more details.
For one, US oil consumption had to drop, entirely unexpectedly, 6% almost immediately and 7% in less than a year. (I was married that year - we spent 1 week in the mountains for a honeymoon and came back to headlines and gas lines - that's how abrupt it was - (still love her 33 years later btw)) Absolutely no warning. Yes there were major problems, but the world didn't end, people ate, farmers farmed, and people made lifestyle changes. Barely a year, not enough time for much change in the auto fleet, or building up mass transit or rail or anything else. I have no doubt that we will be able to deal with this, with much pain unfortunately but not with the hysterical destruction some claim, as we lose 2% per year. We have vastly more technical knowledge, better low-milage car alternatives, and more advanced warning (as pitiful as I agree it is at this moment.) And we will eat less meat.

Peakearl, let us not get reee-diculous. Twenty years after peak oil it things will not remotely resemble times during the Arab oil embargo. Better gas milage in cars will make little difference however better gas milage in tractors would help, though that is not likely.

And twenty years after the peak, will not be as bad as twenty one years after the peak, nor twenty two years after... As liquid petrol disappears, food will disappear. And as food disappears people will disappear.

But don't let me be the one to burst your bubble. If you think that without liquid petroleum to drive industry, produce and transport food, things will only get a little tougher, then go on thinking that way. Optimism gives people peace of mind and helps you sleep better.

Sure wish I had that ability.

Ron Patterson

I didn't say a "little tougher," I said "major pain" and I meant it. You missed the point of the embargo comment entirely. I don't actuallly see things as benign as you took from my post at all. I dread the ensuing years and am sad to have to experience them. That said, this notion of millions dying by the road is also excessive. People will suffer, lose jobs, get displaced and some (perhaps many)will be hungry, yes. Don't patronize me.. I generally appreciate your posts.

We waste huge quantities of energy and have technologies right now that could reduce our demand a large amount if simply employed. No one thing will do it, it all has to be combined. Conservation, more efficiency, alternative energy sources and a forcibly altered lifestyle.

Doubled or more gas mileage in cars - already achievable - would make a huge difference when coupled with fewer miles drivev, carpooling and mass transit. Painting house roofs white can reduce AC by 20% or more - to say nothing of turning the damned things off. People need far fewer calories than they are eating right now, and much less meat that is an extreme waste of calories in the covnersion from feed. I don't have time to go on now, but we are a far cry from mass starvation as people describe. The bigger issue as always will be inequitable distribution.

Got to go now - perhaps more later with time.

People were starving during the Great Depression. The US never lacked the means to feed its people, just the will.

Why will post peak be any different?

I agree with your regarding peak oil. I read up on the rationing during WWII which was of a longer duration than the 70's so I think better representative.

But and this is a big one it seemed clear in my reading if people did not have the attitude they did about supporting the war effort and the general pressure not to cheat you could easily have had the wartime rationing turn nasty.

In the case of peak oil I don't see the patriotic constraint happening. Also you have to consider the fact that selfish greed is far more prevalent in our society today than in the past.

I just don't see the people I know reacting rationally to peak oil given we are on the third generation of the "I want what I deserve" crowd.

And on the flip side what I call despondent poverty is high in the US right now. I grew up fairly poor and around poor people and there is a big difference between working hard and not making a lot of money and living the welfare lifestyle which is simply a cheaper version of "I want what I deserve".

I'd guess that less than 30% of the US population is what I'd call level headed.

Peak oil is a lifestyle issue.

Later peak EROI will be a real problem but its not clear the US will make it out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Just 20 years of 2% decline (which is wishful thinking in my opinion) leads to a 33% decline in total petroleum production. I cannot see how you arrive at the belief that everything will be ok, year after year after year, as oil availability declines relentlessly and that this will be no worse than the 1970s. The two situations are not remotely comparable except in the first year or two.

Ghawar Is Dying
The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function. - Dr. Albert Bartlett

I know the focus on TOD is energy, but there are other issues. The USA in the 70s was the undisputed economic king of the planet. Who in the 70s would have believed that 30-35 years later both Europe and China would possess economies as large and powerful as the USA? No one. So the economic trends are very bad at the median for the USA resident and this is without even mentioning oil depletion. Hate to sound like a doomer again.

Without collapse, how will CO2 emissions be declining within 5 years of peak oil? What I and many others fear is that emissions will be climbing instead, as the race back towards coal begins. Yes, coal will peak downstream somewhere too but not right after peak oil.

So it appears that you are thinking something else will occur which will both force homo sapiens to accept less oil AND force us to NOT utilize the remaining coal. Please describe this force.

Ghawar Is Dying
The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function. - Dr. Albert Bartlett

Peak Energy solves...

Let's not get carried away. We are not necessarily facing peak energy, although total energy usage might go down for a while. We have an essentially unlimited supply of fission fuel, that could substitute over time for the energy sources that are now going into decline. At some point, way down the line, wind and solar might also scale up enough to allow rising energy usage even without fission.

Of course, we could self destruct or make bad choices in which case we could have an energy peak in the near term, but it does not have to be that way.

A fascinating section at the very end of the Lovelock piece:

He draws a parallel with his wartime experiences in London: "I was here for much of the war and when it happened it wasn't as bad as we had thought it would be. If people are honest, they rather enjoyed it. It could well be similar in the next few decades. Life will become a little more interesting than it was before."

That's a gem and it may say more than a little about Lovelock.

I strongly suspect that's a big part of the draw of this site. Modern life can be incredibly boring. I mean drop-dead-and-immediately-fossilize kind of boring. But somewhere in the world, there is always some really interesting shit in the works.

And peak oil, well, there is no shit cooler than that. Real high octane stuff!!! ;-)

I just received the following comment on my blog, in response to a question someone asked. This subject has come up several times here, so it might be of interest:

I am a senior oil market analyst at EIA and the main author of "This Week In Petroleum". I just wanted to interject myself into the conversation about how the gasoline production and imports add up to be more than demand, yet the stocks fell.

Since gasoline that is blended with ethanol or any other blending component is counted as production when it becomes finished gasoline, including blending component imports (and stock change) into the demand equation would be double-counting the blending components. You need to add the production (blending into finished gasoline is included here) to finished gasoline imports and then subtract an estimate for exports (usually the last monthly data point) and compare this to demand to see if stocks go up or down. When you do this, I think you will find everything balances.

Doug MacIntyre

This Week in Petroleum is something that I read every week. If you keep up with this, you usually have a pretty good feel for what's happening in petroleum.

Thank you thank you thankyou: To both RR and Mr. Macintyre.
I have asked this question here at the TOD about 4 times and never received a single comment.
As I understand it Gasoline Production + Imports does not equal Demand.
Gasoline Production + Imports Equals Demand + Exports
I also read This Week in Petroleum each week and also down load the XL files for Crude, Gasoline, Distillate, and Propane. There is much usefull info in each file. I also store the weekly report each week that comes out at 10:30 each Wednesday.

ASPO-Ireland has launched a website fot the 6th international ASPO conference, to be held in Cork, Ireland, 17th and 18th September.


The speakers will include Colin Campbell, Ali Samsam Bakhtiari, Jeremy Leggett, Robert Hirsch and many others.

From the lastest opec conference report http://www.opec.org/opecna/Press%20Releases/2007/pr032007.htm

Having reviewed the oil market outlook, the Conference observed that the world economic performance in 2007 is expected to remain relatively firm, albeit slightly lower than in 2006, reflecting, inter alia, the impact of higher interest rates. The Conference also noted that, although all indicators clearly show that the market remains well-supplied with crude oil and that OECD commercial oil stocks are healthy, overall oil market volatility is likely to continue.

In light of this volatility, the Conference decided to continue closely monitoring market developments to ascertain that oil market stability is achieved and that global economic growth is sustained.

The Conference passed Resolutions that will be published on 15 April 2007, after ratification by Member Countries.

The Conference decided that its next Ordinary Meeting will be convened in Vienna, Austria, on 11 September 2007. The Conference also accepted an invitation from the United Arab Emirates to convene an Extraordinary Meeting in Abu Dhabi on 5 December 2007.

In clear, they don't change anything using the argument that the market is well supplied...and the next conference is after the driving season. So, they have the time to either develop new fields...or to find an excuse.

By the way, the latest opec monthly report is out and I had a look at Russia exports (table 18): caspian area compensate the fall in the rest of Russia during 2006: from Q2 to Q4, Russia went from 4317+446=4763 mb/d to
3905+332=4237 while Caspian went from 1510 to 1967. Total is roughly flat...but Russia drop seems pretty coherent with the huge depletion number computed by Jeffrey Brown.

Anyway, I am switching my home warming system (and doing the same for my parent house) and going to install a heat pump...as we have nuclear power here in Belgium and wind power from Holland, I am pretty confident that electricity will be available next winter...I am not sure at all that fuel or natural gas shortages will not occur... So it is the good time to switch...

In case you wanted to know why the market bounced so hard yesterday I may have stumbled into something....


Let’s see that would make $27.75 billion to the primary dealers in one day [March 14] from both the Fed and the Treasury. Money talks folks.

I figured it would bounce at 12K for all the psychobabble talk, but I didnt know they had that much ammunition. Battle given to the bulls....


I am stuck at home trying to get over the flu, and I had the TV on yesterday. I caught a joint news conference in Mexico with Bush and Calderon, and one of the Mexican reporters asked Calderon the following:


Q Good morning. President Calderon, concerning energy matters, three days before the celebration of the anniversary of the expropriation of oil in our country, could you tell us what the position of the senators of opposition have stated about these matters of oil? We know that the reserves, and of course this oil abundance, perhaps, is coming to its end. Was this issue on oil discussed here?

The responses were interesting as well:

PRESIDENT CALDERON: The truth of the matter is that we did not discuss this issue of oil, because this is something that has to do specifically with Mexicans. This is a Mexican issue. We will not privatize a company that belongs to Mexicans, such as of the case of Pemex. We will have to see this later on, in terms of sovereignty, and speak about the initiatives, of course, and to see what our Congress states. We do have problems with the decline of especially Cantarell, which has been very important in the production of oil throughout the years, but which is declining in amounts. But we will have to be very clear on the fact that we will be sharing responsibility between Congress and the President.


PRESIDENT BUSH: One reason I didn't bring up energy is because energy is -- it belongs to sovereign Mexico. And I'm confident that the President will make the best interests for the people of Mexico, working with the Congress.

If oil needs to be state controlled then are all resources state controlled? Just curious but what's the point of saying it's the Mexican People's oil, then it's the Mexican people's iron ore, etc etc. Curious if anyone knows the structure of their economony/govt. I never got into them a whole lot.


Saudia Arabia, the most powerful member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, has told Angola, its newest entrant, not to assume it will be able to expand production past 2 million barrels a day

Sounds like Saudia Arabia is getting tired of making the majority of cuts to support prices while everyone else gets a free ride.

If so, that implies they would really like prices higher than they are now...
In any case, it remains to be seen whether sa can do anything about either their production or opec cheating. Their opec brothers would, of course, be delighted to see sa production dive into the desert...

SA is down 1Mb/d, and this value represents essentially all of opec cuts from last oct. One assumes opec still remembers 1998, when sa opened the valves and drove the price to 10; nevertheless, they are obviously sufficiently confident to ignore the new quotas and continue producing all out. Perhaps their sa data is better than MSM's. Intersting to reflect that if sa is involuntarily down, everybody in position to really know would have a vested reason to keep his mouth shut.

My take on this comment was that KSA needs the other exporters to cut so that OPEC can show and increase in production later.

KSA graciously will be willing to wait on its increases so other countries with lower production can recover lost revenue sooner and they want to wait to see how the market responds.

They are some of the nicest guys in the world those Saudi's.

Robert Rapier's blogpost on his blog, R-Squared, recieved mention today in the WSJ Energy Blog.

March 15, 2007, 1:06 pm

Saudis 70% Depleted? Maybe Not.

Posted by WSJ.com Staff

Yesterday, we linked to a blog post from petroleum geologist Jeffrey J. Brown, who wrote that a comparison of the “Hubbert Linearization” — which he describes as a method for predicting future conventional oil production for a region — for Saudi Arabia to the same linearization for Texas raised “some troubling conclusions,” suggesting that “Saudi Arabia is now over 70% depleted, with about 40 billion barrels in remaining recoverable reserves.”

Not so fast, says engineer Robert Rapier. In a recent essay at The Oil Drum (copied at his own blog, R-Squared Energy Blog), he explains why he doubts Hubbert Linearization can accurately predict the date of peak Saudi oil production or the amount of Saudi depletion.

He points out that HL could not predict the moment of Texas’s peak production — a linearization run in 1960, for example, would have shown Texas peaking in 1956, when in fact it peaked in 1972. It took decades of subsequent data before the true peak became clear, and the same will likely be true for Saudi Arabia, he says.

“The HL has shown that it is good at forecasting the past, but can be very unreliable for predicting the future,” he writes.

“This argument in no way diminishes my belief that we need to take action right now concerning oil depletion,” he adds. “I am merely evaluating one of the tools that is used to forecast peak, and trying to determine whether that tool can give us any precision on forecasting a peak in Saudi Arabia. My conclusion is that it can’t….”

He promises an extensive analysis of the Saudi data soon.

– Mark Gongloff
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WSJ Energy Blog:



It would be pointless to go over this debate again, but I disagree with Robert's conclusions regarding Texas. I think that the strong linear data set from 1958 does give us a good estimate of URR.

In any case, Saudi oil production is presently declining.

I do not believe in using data from a period with constraint production because: lower production => lower value for P/Q and the model is assumed to work without production constraints.

But what about when they overproduce their fields how do you calculate in the effect of the damage it will lower URR.
Texas overproduced early on on big reason for the production constraints. Repeated accusations have been raised first that the Americans overproduced and damaged the fields before they left and that KSA has overproduced.

KSA has certainly spent more years producing at capacity then below. And KSA uses the latest technology to produce their fields a lot of it has been shown to increase production rates early at the cost of a later declines.

Next in the case of our two swing producers KSA and Texas
both seemed to have followed a policy of developing all there fields even if some where not produced. In fact it seems if you read the reports a lot of the fields that were not produced were problem fields which at least in the case of KSA leads to the conclusion that the best fields were produced and operated at capacity while the worst fields and poorest wells were shut-in when capacity was constrained.

So the URR recorded is probably close to correct for the reason we are interested which is to determine peak production.

My point is I can come up with a lot of reasons that would cause fields to decline faster you can't be concerned about one case without considering others. No one has shown any evidence what so ever that this vaunted status of swing producer means anything as far as peak production and near post peak production is concerned.

Other models besides HL have been proposed do they show the HL method to be dramatically wrong for KSA.

Finally I actually think because of the above reasons that the URR is lower than 150Gb for KSA in the sense that any remaining oil will be difficult to produce and its production rate is far more constrained by other factors such as water handling etc. The production rates post peak can be a lot lower than that predicted by HL.

And finally because of the sheer size of Ghawar KSA overall production rate is so distorted that its the way Ghawar was produced that matters.
Do we have any evidence that Ghawars production has ever been constrained for any long period of time. I think they dropped once for a short time down too 3mbpd and at that point we can assume Ghawar's production was throttled.

But look at my other arguments advanced extraction has been used extensively in Ghawar so it should peak earlier than HL would have predicted.

So again with all this what evidence do we have that short intervals of constrained production can significantly change the peak date and URR.

Next Russia you know the fields where damaged in Russia.
But production dropped for long enough that they I would concede that they probably have pushed the date of peak production out some. But on the same hand we don't know how damaged the fields are. And I don't know if the fields where redeveloped with advanced methods after the fall of the USSR.

And finally considering Russia as a single producing region is probably not correct for HL analysis. It has the same sort of profile as the Lower 48 vs Alaska.

I think we should leave KSA and take a hard look at Russia the predictions have been made and we will see over the next few years if they are true or false.

I'm happy to defend the HL methods that have been used recently they have merit I think people like RR will simply not be convinced till after the fact.

So lets forget about KSA its in decline its not the swing producer or its not we may know in months what the status of KSA is by early next year for sure. The rest of the world outside of Russia is overall in decline and demand and internal consumption is increasing so they have no choice but increase production soon. The time for modeling and predicting KSA's peak is drawing rapidly to a close.

It's Russia now that might produce surprises probably not enough to offset peak but maybe enough to slow the post peak decline rate. I don't believe the HL analysis that have been presented so far for Russia. I'm happy to assert at least so far we have not presented a compelling case via HL for Russia I don't buy it. For example they are a big enough of a region that they should exhibit a plateau around peak lasting at least a year or two I've seen on indication of this. On the same hand since I feel that Russia should really not be treated as a unified region we may see the decline in the older fields become so strong it overwhelms the newer ones leading to a sharp peak instead of the expected plateau. In any case I'd say the current HL results for Russia are not valid.

And to finish with the information we have Peak Oil predictions will be argued long after the peak happens we are arguing over the US today. But we need to focus on providing compelling evidence that the world has peaked once it has happened. This will itself be controversial in the MSM but this is the battle we need to fight.

For the peak oil aware can start a PeakOiler nursing home with arguing HL as one of the major forms of entertainment.

Please lets forget about KSA the facts will come to light lets take a hard look at Russia.

I know that there are a lot of things that can distort the numbers.

I make the following assumptions:
1. It is a good model for the production in the actual region.
2. At some point in time the production is lowered voluntary.
3. The voluntary production cuts are removed wherafter the production continues to follow the model. I am a little bit unsure if this is a good assumption but the production data will be higher than they would otherwise so if the assumption is wrong it will just change the amount of the result not the direction.

And come up with:
1. Using data from the period before and during voluntary production cut will result in an URR that are to low.
2. Using data only during the production cut will result in an unreliable result.
3. Using data from the period with production cut and the period after the production cut will result in an URR that are to high.

I believe that it is possible to draw some conclusions by using data during the voluntary production cut but at least the size of the cut or how it changes must be known or estimated. It is not possible to draw any conclusions during the production cut just because the data looks nice.

If you have enough data yes you can compare production when their was a cut on and not. If their is a significant difference I stand corrected.

A better approach is to look at the total oil produced vs what the HL method predicts in addition to doing HL over different regions.

This simple summing takes into account in a simply way all the external factors not covered by HL without a complex model. All this is doing is integrating the area under the curve and the complexity is not important. A three year running average would probably bring the numbers inline with HL. I actually like to use 24 month time periods since this removes seasonal and political issues which generally don't last over a two year period in this case a 3 year smoothing should snap the production close to what HL predicts.
You could even do a HL on the 3 year smoothed data some real information is probably still present.

My assertion is that in general production averages out to meet what your predicting for HL even if the HL method is chosen over a region that not severely constrained. Obviously when KSA dropped down to 3mbpd this does not hold.
The biggest reason I think this is true is that even if KSA has constrained production that have fully developed their fields using advanced methods capable of extracting oil at a higher production rate than what HL implicitly assumes.
This removed any bias and may result in peak sooner than predicted by HL analysis not later.

Russia since it suffered a multi-year period after the fall of the USSR represents a region where I believe the opposite that HL may be underestimating the peak. But even hear I'm just saying its wrong by at most two years.

I do think that Russia is the best place to look at how HL fails using reasonable methods. If we can get a good handle on this then revisiting KSA to see if their are mistakes makes sense. Lets look at the worst offender first.

HL should be used with some care but on the same hand determining that a HL analysis done with care is wrong is difficult. Robert showed that of course if you just blindly do HL the results are meaningless but this is simply because HL has a few stability requirements both numerical and because of the underlying process.

A big reason why it should be used in conjunction with other information like discovery data etc even if they are not directly included in the model this is what I call filtering.

Finally no-one has shown a better model that beats HL and can be shown not to have a systematic bias from leaving out important variables.

Now given the quality of the data we have I'm not sure its worth chasing a better model better to understand where HL gives reasonable numbers and see if we can create a fairly good set of rules or constraints for applying HL analysis.

I believe HL is a good model as long as everything is going well. A simple filter could be to remove data or use average from surronding points then everything is not going well.

Since I am out there on the Saudi limb anyway, just a reminder that I think that Russia will join Saudi Arabia in showing lower crude oil production, probably this year, but no later than next year. Note the reference to "Urgent Measures." Nope, no problems here.


Russia warns firms on slow Siberia finds
Published: Thursday, 15 March, 2007, 08:56 AM Doha Time

MOSCOW: Oil companies could be punished for not working fast enough to find new reserves in East Siberia to fill a new pipeline to Asia, Russia’s resources minister said yesterday.

The region has been earmarked by the Kremlin for development to replace reserves in Western Siberia, the mainstay of Russian oil production for years, where output is expected to shrink.

“The pace (of booking new reserves) is hardly going to ensure a quick replacement of reserves...particularly of crude oil,” Natural Resources Minister Yuri Trutnev said in a statement.

He did not name any oil companies but said he would punish those found to be investing less in exploration than they had committed to when they were issued with a licence.

The leaders in East Siberian exploration are Rosneft, Surgutneftegas and TNK-BP.

Trutnev said his ministry would operate “according to this principle: the number of substantial violations of licence terms should be equal to the number of licences revoked.”

He also said he would ask the government to increase the spending allocated for East Siberia in its long-term programme for exploration up to 2020.

There is added urgency because East Siberian crude is wanted to fill the second phase of a pipeline now under construction to pump Russian oil to Asia - part of a Kremlin plan to diversify exports away from the West.

The first stage of the pipeline, with annual capacity of 30mn tonnes (600,000 bpd), will run to the Chinese border and is due for launch at the end of 2008. It will be mainly filled with crude produced in West Siberia.

The decision on whether to commission the second leg of the pipeline, which is to go to the Pacific and make another 50mn tonnes available to oil buyers in South Korea and Japan, will depend on reserves in East Siberia.

But Trutnev said that urgent measures were needed just to bring production there above 25mn tonnes a year.

Actually I disagree with you on Russia. I don't think we have a good case yet for Russian production. Its far from clear to me that Russia will decline as soon as your predicting.

Right now I think they will plateau for two or three years then start real declines. Thats my best guess.

And again I urge we revisit the analysis of Russia. The case is a lot weaker.

As much as I'm willing to defend your analysis on KSA I cannot defend your case for Russia.

The issues surrounding Russia are so complex and confusing (at least to me) that I have a deep "don't know" ?

On the HL front, the number of cases of a strong dip and recovery are VERY few (just one AFAIK, Mexico) and the reserves of Russia are far more complex. How does this affect the underlying principles of HL ?

In no other nation does transportation affect production as much and some new pipelines are underway.

Putin chased out Shell and is pressuring others; certainly a negative for near term production. Will this be made up in the near term future ?

The Finance Minister forecast modest production increases, but falling exports for 2007, 2008 & 2009 (forgot if his forecast extended to 2010). It seemed like a realistic, pragmatic document. An explicit endorsement of your Peak Export model BTW.

I will note that Russia has been steadily electrifying their railroads. The Trans-Siberian was completed in 2002, the line to their Artic Ocean port of Murmansk opened Christmas Eve, 2005 and they have on-going plans for more. One of the stated reasons to electrify railroads is "To free up gasoil (diesel) for other uses".



I agree and I'm saying its the one we should tackle.
The HL prediction for KSA is close enough that it can be proven or disprove in a fairly short period of time so soon facts will either refute or confirm prediction.

Russia on the other hand won't peak for at least another year and its a hard problem.

Also its the only large producer left on earth for us to predict peak oil unless we are incorrect about KSA.

We are running out of time to argue if peak oil is now. So we need to get our predictions in before its too late.

Also, handling diesel is a real pain where it gets really cold. Mix the wrong stuff or have heaters fail when the environmental temperature goes below the gel point and everything comes to a screeching halt.

A Round-Up has been posted today at TOD:Canada.

EXCLUSIVE: Barbara Walters Interviews Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Tonight

ABC News' Barbara Walters sits down with President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela for an interview in which Chavez shares his views on the United States, President Bush and America's 2008 presidential elections.

Hugo Chavez made headlines across America when he famously called Bush "the devil" in a speech at the United Nations headquarters in New York last year.

When Walters asks Chavez about the name-calling, he explains it by saying that he wanted his strong words to bring attention to the facts. "Yes, I call him a devil in the United Nations," says Chavez. "That's true. Another time, I said that he was a donkey just because I think that he is very ignorant … about the things that are actually happening in Latin America and the world. If that is an excess on my side, I accept. And I might apologize. But who is causing more harm? He burns people, villages and he … invades nations."

Chavez also accuses Bush of planning a coup against him. The Venezuelan president briefly lost power in a coup in 2002 but with help from a popular uprising against the coup leaders, reclaimed his position within days.

Bush is not the only U.S. official to become the butt of Chavez's words. Chavez has referred to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as an illiterate who suffers from sexual frustration. Chavez shrugs off these insults as jokes, saying that his words are nothing when compared to the the loss of lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.

About both Bush and Rice, Chavez says, "As a lady I respect her, for the president of the United States, as a human being, I respect him, but they are killing people."

from over at Green Car Congress...

QuantumSphere, Inc. ...electrode and system design allows for nearly a sevenfold increase in clean hydrogen production, while maintaining efficiencies in excess of 85%.

...hydrogen generation efficiencies “well above the US Department of Energy’s 2010 targets [75%], and well ahead of the literature to date.”

Oil companies running hard to stand still

I got the article above published in the business section of "The Age" in Melbourne today (Friday 16th March). "The Age" is Melbourne's broadsheet newspaper with a circulation of over 700,000. The anti-peak article "Here's the drill: new oil to come from old ground" was published in the same section earlier last week.

DURING a previous oil price crisis in the United States, a jovial service station attendant may have remarked to customers that "We've run out of $2 gas, but we've got plenty of $5 gas". Attendants on the trading floors might today observe that we've got plenty of $80 (US) barrels, but we're running short of $50 barrels.

Last Friday (should read 2nd March), the US Energy Information Administration released oil production data to the end of last year. Crude oil production was nearly 200,000 barrels a day lower than in 2005. Total liquid supply was flat. That's gripping news and should be enough to rattle any economist's confidence.


On the contrary, my dear Watson; substitutes have stepped forward, as per econ 101, to take the place of the missing barrels. Ah, you wanted more? But you were sent more! as per econ 102. Its all so elementary...

Right, I filled my car up with substitutes just this morning. Substitutes are about $2.90 a gallon and will completely replace gasoline when the price of gas hits $3.00 a gallon.

Would you believe that? No? Well then exactly what would you believe concerning substitutes. The White Queen would believe six impossible things before breakfast.

Hell, I can do better than that.

Ron Patterson


A question on your article-I thought that the pressure in oilfields was generated by the dissolved gases in the oil, not necessarily on the overlying pressure of the earth.

Also, I am quite surprized there has not been any comments on Leanan's first article, Giants Like Stable Environments, posted at top. Granted it is from Shell and doesn't specify a single giant found, but the claims are mighty.

I was puzzled by the statement that Ghawar did not attain 'giant status' until 1990. What is that supposed to mean? Anyone??

hi doug

the pressure drive (or perhaps pressure differential) in a reservoir is provided by either solution gas or a water aquifer (or both, or artifical pressure support). but the absolute pressure is at least somewhat related to the fact that is buried several thousand feet underground. others here could give a far better explanation - i worked on the stuff downstream of the wellhead :-)

i had to come up with a one line explanation for a short media article. i wouldn't try to learn anything about petroleum engineering from it!


Hello Philhart,

Congratulations on getting your article published in such a large newspaper. Shows how much the world [or at least Oz & Melbourne] has changed over the past few years. Keep up the good fight!

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

Hi TODers,

I received a post about this bill today:


What do y'all think? I'm suspect, esp. about the "alternative fuels" part. If anyone would like to comment on this bill, I'll pass the comments along to the listserv from whence it came.

Thanks so much.

Hi Anyia,

Nice to see while you are skeptical you are still willing to give politicians a try. Like lawyers there are the odd straight ones.
Yes Virginia....(lame joke).

Being a foreigner I wouldn't send any comment I make but if this is the "alternative fuels" part you mean:

Contains a standard for low carbon renewable fuels such as cellulosic ethanol or other fuels that reduce carbons emission 75% or more.

I don't think if you add in the inputs to produce the ethanol this is even closely possible...went to wiki and got this:

This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources.
Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. (help, get involved!)
This article has been tagged since January 2007.

Looks like someone would like this not talked about...I think the usual practice is just to cite a warning about a disputed article but still publish it(could be wrong about that though) Anyway
will see if I can find out anything tomorrow.

I also can't find an article that I ran across recently that made a case for the inefficiency of energy efficient lights due to their need to be on constantly to be effective. Also don't last as long if switched on and off frequently. I've got to get in the habit of bookmarking.

Contains an energy efficiency standard requiring reductions in electricity use through the use of consumer products that are low carbon such as efficient light bulbs.

Hi Black B.

Thanks. I appreciate all the help you can give me.

Actually, it's more that this list serv I'm on is a kind of local one - that posts an eclectic range of news. I'm usually not active on it.

Someone (an esteemed member) is recommending the readership support this measure. So, I'm writing to say "Check more facts, first!" Thought I'd just get some help (to back up my suggestion.)

Since it's apparently a (prospective) national bill, I thought perhaps others may be familiar with it. And possibly interested in checking it out, critiquing for future -(or their own)- reference.

re: "Also don't last as long if switched on and off frequently."

Did you read Leanan's posts above? (I skimmed. And I'd lose my place if I go back. But.... maybe this is part of her lights problem?)

Hi Aniya,

Here are a couple of sites I've found this morning that might be of interest:




About going back on the site when writing, I often use a word writing program or open TOD twice, (Sorry TOD if I throw out your stats.) you can also open a window but I find this confusing. If I see anything more I will let you know.

If there is anyone on site who can can reference an article about 'INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION OF ETHANOL' as well as deal with the intricacies of publishing it on wiki, I think all would consider them as very civic minded.

Thanks very much! I used these.