DrumBeat: March 16, 2007

Weekly Offshore Rig Review: OPEC's Big Flex

One of the key realizations that comes out of this look at climbing oil prices is that OPEC can do very little to stop, or even slow, rising oil prices. In fact, when prices reached all-time highs in 2006, OPEC officially did nothing at all (although its individual member nations were very much involved in generating the tensions that drove those new records).

Even in times of crisis, particularly in the aftermath of the 2005 hurricanes, OPEC was essentially helpless to affect the rising oil prices around the globe. Saudi Arabia's offers to pump all available crude to meet demand and cover for damaged infrastructure in the US GOM helped to soothe nerves. However, the organization ultimately made only modest increases in production that in and of themselves had little impact on prices.

What it'll take to sink oil prices

Subprime woes, slowing economic growth, even a recession - will anything bring prices back down to $30 a barrel?

ASPO 6: Time to React?

The organising committee join me in inviting you to join us in Cork, Ireland, this September for the 6th Annual International ASPO Conference entitled 'Time to React?'

Liquefied Natural Gas Makes a Global Debut in 2007

The problem for the U.S. is that most of its natural gas imports must come from Canada. This is because natural gas markets are regional.

That opens the door for LNG because of its global market. The new Imex will let gas producers reach more favorable markets.

Peak Oil and Beyond - Q&A with Heinberg, Campbell and Leggett - Part 1

At January’s Soil Association conference “One Planet Agriculture”, I chaired a session called “Peak Oil And Beyond - a Discussion Circle”, which gave delegates the opportunity to question Richard Heinberg and Colin Campbell, and later Jeremy Leggett, about peak oil and related issues. The session ran for over an hour, so rather than bombard you with it all at once, I will run it in installments over the next few days. It was a fascinating discussion, ranging over peak oil, climate change, agriculture, land reform, and much more.

Climate disasters: three obstacles to doing anything

So, why is so little being done? It is clearly not for lack of awareness of the problem, however much some persons try to deny its existence. Yet, the degree to which the political leaders of the world are ready to do something about it, and indeed the degree to which there is public pressure that they do something, is remarkably low. When there is such a clear disjunction between knowledge and action, there must be obstacles in the socio-political arena to explain this. In fact, there are three quite powerful obstacles to action: the interests of producers/entrepreneurs, the interests of less wealthy nations, and the attitudes of you and me. Each is a powerful obstacle.

Petrobras Loses 188,000b Due to Orellana Protests

Brazil's federal energy company Petrobras has lost 188,000b since halting oil production because of labor strikes in Ecuador's Orellana province in the Amazon, according to press reports.

NPR: Would More Biofuel Use Threaten Food Supplies? (audio)

President Bush promoted the benefits of ethanol during a recent Latin American tour. But the fuel has drawbacks, including the possibility that significant use of corn-based ethanol could mean higher costs for a food staple in many poor nations. Rob Routs, an executive director at Shell Oil, talks with Steve Inskeep.

Correa Vows to Revise Oil Deals in Ecuador's Favor

President Rafael Correa repeated here Wednesday that he is determined to revise Ecuador's contracts with foreign energy firms to ensure the state receives its due as the owner of the Andean nation's oil.

Richard Heinberg Speaks to European Parliament

On February 27 I had the extraordinary opportunity to meet with three members of the European Parliament, and to address a session of the Parliamentary Trade Committee on the subject of Peak Oil.

The target wreckers: Two ministries appear to be set on scuppering the government's plans to combat global warming

Now for the really bad news. Two government departments are actively undermining everything this bill seeks to achieve. One of them is the Department for Transport. It's not just that it is building 4,000 kilometres of new trunk roads and telling the airports to produce "master plans" for a doubling of capacity. It has also sought to frustrate any effort to quantify the impact of its policies.

Shell Oil exec urges policy change

Oil companies need the gov­ernment's cooperation to develop energy alternatives, a top execu­tive of one of the world's leading gas producers told Montgomery business leaders Thursday.

The president of Shell Oil Co., John Hofmeister, said public poli­cy determines whether companies can afford to develop energy alter­natives. Current policy, he said, does not.

Prepare for next gas crisis

We don't know when the next big gas crisis will happen, but with "peak oil" around the corner, it is a guaranteed event.

Big Oil Faces Tough Talks on Their Stakes in Orinoco Patch

Six western oil majors are sitting down with Hugo Chavez's government to plot the future of the world's largest hydrocarbons basin. But they face a stark choice: Play a supporting, not leading role, and accept less profit from operations involving Venezuela's massive tar oil reserves, or take a hike.

11 injured in four blasts in restive northeast India

Eleven people were injured in restive northeastern India in a series of blasts that left a gas pipeline in flames and one of the bombers dead, officials said.

Police suspect the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) -- which has been fighting for an independent homeland for almost three decades -- of carrying out the four blasts in Assam state's eastern Sivasagar district.

British Gas plans rooftop solar panel launch

British Gas is close to launching its first venture selling household solar panels, the chief executive of its parent Centrica said on Thursday.

Earth has warmest December-February on record

The Earth has just experienced its warmest December-February since records began 128 years ago, a US government agency reported, adding fire to global warming concerns.

Counties launch anti-global warming plan

Residents of Virginia's largest county might soon see more vegetation growing on roofs and more green space in new neighborhoods as part of a multimillion-dollar initiative to combat global warming.

Warmer, Warmer

It is strange and striking that climate change activists have not committed any acts of terrorism. After all, terrorism is for the individual by far the modern world’s most effective form of political action, and climate change is an issue about which people feel just as strongly as about, say, animal rights. This is especially noticeable when you bear in mind the ease of things like blowing up petrol stations, or vandalising SUVs. In cities, SUVs are loathed by everyone except the people who drive them; and in a city the size of London, a few dozen people could in a short space of time make the ownership of these cars effectively impossible, just by running keys down the side of them, at a cost to the owner of several thousand pounds a time. Say fifty people vandalising four cars each every night for a month: six thousand trashed SUVs in a month and the Chelsea tractors would soon be disappearing from our streets. So why don’t these things happen? Is it because the people who feel strongly about climate change are simply too nice, too educated, to do anything of the sort? (But terrorists are often highly educated.) Or is it that even the people who feel most strongly about climate change on some level can’t quite bring themselves to believe in it?

Halliburton's move creates hullabaloo

"There's not much oil in Texas anymore," said Dalton Garis, an American energy economist at the Petroleum Institute in Abu Dhabi. "Halliburton is in the oil and gas industry, and guess what? Sixty percent of the world's oil and gas is right here. If they didn't move now, they'd have to do it later."

OPEC Chief: Members Have Upstream Projects Worth $100B

NOC fuel supply cut triggers shortage

Shortage of petrol deepened in the Kathmandu Valley Thursday as Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) cut down supplies sharply amid fast depletion of stocks in Amlekhgunj and Thankot depot.

Carbon Emissions Concerns Fueling Nuclear Renaissance - Will There Be Sufficient Uranium Mined to Meet the New Demand?

Powering ahead in sustainable fuel revolution

Plans have been given the go-ahead for a plant at Wilton on Teesside to convert 1.2 million tonnes of wheat a year into ethanol, a high-octane substance that can be blended with petrol for use in vehicles. This is the equivalent of around three billion road miles a year for an average car, or put another way, enough to keep 300,000 cars on the road for a year using a sustainable fuel.

Oil companies running hard to stand still

Despite a calm hurricane season, record prices and a forecast consensus from energy agencies that supply would continue to grow, oil production stalled last year. Were the oil companies not trying hard enough?

Chris Skrebowski, editor of the British oil industry journal Petroleum Review, would not agree. He has just published his annual Megaprojects report. The numbers show the global oil industry implemented oilfield projects providing an extra 3.2 million barrels a day to the market last year.

This is a historically high level of activity. So why was production flat, and even falling in many countries? The answer begins with "d" and gets to the heart of the debate about when global oil production will finally peak and begin its terminal decline: depletion.

Blood and oil - Elections could further destabilise the violent, oil-rich Delta region

In the past year, attacks on oil facilities have forced Nigeria to shut down a fifth of its production; over 100 foreign workers have been kidnapped in the oil-producing Niger Delta region. Higher security costs and a shrinking number of expatriates willing to take the risks of working there have sharply slowed new investment. The Nigerian government has lost billions of dollars in oil revenues. Now the multinational oil companies, such as Royal Dutch Shell, that operate in Africa's biggest oil producer are bracing themselves for more trouble. The omens are not good; in the run-up to the elections in 2003, violence in the Delta forced Nigeria to shut down 40% of its oil capacity.

OPEC slowly understands the impact of deflation – no one can stop oil from going lower – what is the impact on the stock market?

OPEC is trying its best to halt the oil price from collapsing due to softening of demand across the globe. The stealth deflation is the killer. In Japan it is manifesting itself over almost two decades. The same affects the U.S. economy since year 2000. The emerging market economies arte just getting introduced to the deflation disease as people in those countries cannot pay back their massive loans against homes, cars, cell phone – you name it.

Could crazy technology save the planet?

There's the man-made "volcano" that shoots gigatons of sulfur high into the air. The space "sun shade" made of trillions of little reflectors between Earth and sun, slightly lowering the planet's temperature. The forest of ugly artificial "trees" that suck carbon dioxide out of the air. And the "Geritol solution" in which iron dust is dumped into the ocean.

"Of course it's desperation," said Stanford University professor Stephen Schneider. "It's planetary methadone for our planetary heroin addiction. It does come out of the pessimism of any realist that says this planet can't be trusted to do the right thing."

Chinese coal-fired capacity nears 699,700 MW

The total capacity of Chinese fossil-fired power plants in operation or under construction as displayed in the new McIlvaine Chinese Utility Plans database is 699,700 MW.

Alstom and American Electric Power to Bring CO2 Capture Technology to Commercial Scale by 2011

Alstom and American Electric Power (AEP) signed a Memorandum of Understanding to bring Alstom’s advanced sorbent CO2 capture (chilled ammonia) process for CO2 capture to full commercial scale of up to 200 MW by 2011. This is a major step in demonstrating post-combustion carbon capture.

Researchers Propose Hydrogen-Augmented Fischer-Tropsch Processes; More Product, No CO2

Purdue University chemical engineers have proposed a modification to the conventional biomass- or coal-to-liquids Fischer-Tropsch process that could, by their calculations, produce sufficient fuel for the entire US transportation sector.

Raymond James Answers the 10 Most Common Ethanol Questions

Raymond James issued a very interesting report on Ethanol recently. In it they provide their answers to the ten questions they most frequently receive on the topic. The report is well worth the read, but we summarize their points below...

Abu Dhabi: Turning to the sun in the land of oil

Just on the outskirts of this Gulf city, past a refinery and a water desalination plant, the foundations are being poured for an ambitious project intended to take this big oil producer into the next energy boom.

Oil, however, will have nothing to do with it.

The sun will.

Confronting BP: Biofuels and the Green Resistance

Now that Al Gore has his "green" Oscar and George W. Bush has closed a deal in Brazil by which American will burn up the cane fields in the name of environmental salvation, it is time to get serious about the realities of biofuel. Clearly research into biofuels is necessary, but few people are aware yet how this research will be carried out, how constrained ideologically it will be, how corrupting an influence it might become on American universities, and how dangerous its products might be to the ecology of the planet. Fortunately, a movement is a foot on the campus of UC Berkeley that may create a wave of resistance to and awareness about consequences of a biofuel economy, especially one governed by oil companies.

Carbon footprint of products to be displayed on label package

The Carbon Trust is launching a green equivalent to the Fairtrade label - a consumer label which details the carbon footprint of a product and a commitment by its producer to reduce it.

OPEC is trying its best to halt the oil price from collapsing due to softening of demand across the globe. The stealth deflation is the killer.

Fascinating stuff. The world has been running down its stocks to the tune of a million barrels a day for the past five months (if I've got that right). OPEC claims to have substantial spare capacity, but is keeping it in reserve. World production is dead flat (yet China and India are increasing their imports...) Demand has to increase by that million barrels, mechanically, as people stop drawing down their reserves.

So, will we get to test the hypothesis of a Saudi peak in the next few months, or will they get away with masking it due to inadequate demand?

My question for all of you TODer's, is where is the price signal to deal with this? The only answer I've come up with is, the market will deal with this come Wednesday the 20th when the May contract comes up for bidding. Then maybe the market will then consider the petroleum stocks needs for summer driving season.

My speculation, instant pop up to $72.00 on the May spot market this next Wednesday. We'll then see if OPEC and especially Saudi Arabia is willing to cut the 1.7 Mb/day restriction it has self-imposed. By July or August we can then see what production level its willing to support with the taps open. Even with America possibally in recession by the end of the year, I still think Chindia will mop surplus oil then can get their hands on.

My speculation, instant pop up to $72.00 on the May spot market this next Wednesday.

There is no such thing as "May spot." May implies the futures market and "spot" implies the spot market which is always "right now". Apologies for being a nitpicker. ;-)

That being said, nothing short of a world shaking event will cause oil prices to go to to $72.00 (either spot or the May contract) by Wednesday.

Perhaps if Saudi announced that they are in terminal decline, or OPEC announced that those vast Middle East reserves are largely fictional...

Ron Patterson

"nothing short of a world shaking event will cause oil prices to go to to $72.00 "

War in the middle east is likely one earth shaking event we will see this year.

The Hezbos, Hamas/Fatah, and Syrians have been very, very busy the past year building tunnels, smuggling weapons, and fortifying their borders with iranian and Russian missile systems to attack Israel on three fronts (meanwhile the the US and Israel are also preparing while playing poker at the UN to appease the rest of the world (("we tried your way")) and backing off from gaza while making faux peaceful overatures to the palastinians...).


Oh Please...

The squalor of millions caged in refugee camps is JUST A DISGUISE for a massive military machine capable of taking on Israel's US-supplied military? The Palestinians have secretely procured attack helicopters, jets and nuclear weapons?

There's a name for this type of bass-ackwards fantasy, something about the dominator feeling weak.

However, if Israel feels compelled to again seize others' territory, then, as it has been shown, they will face problems...

I agree that Israel and the US have been making 'faux-peaceful' overtures for years.

Yes, the Mid-East is a ticking bomb, capable of exploding repeatedly, but we're not being attacked, invaded or occupied. They are.

Sendoilplease thinks all Shiites are satanic monsters unafraid of sending infantry against Israel's estimated 200-nuke arsenal. Of course, he's careful not to mention that secret arsenal, because, like the neocons, his desire for your sons and your tax dollars to be employed exterminating Iran requires public support. If normal Americans understood that Israel is hiding 200 nukes, the great majority of them would say, "hey, that's plenty of deterrent, you dudes don't need our kind of help to survive."

Nice strawman you've built of me in you decrepit, simpleton mind. A neocon... that hurt ;).

Not all of the parties involved are shiite, and not all shiite are radicals, or, "satanic monsters" as you call them.

Who cares how many nukes Israel has, it did not stop the Hezbo's last year and wont stop them in concert with Syria and the gangs of gaza this year (especially with the support of Iran).

As for exterminating Iran - spare my the liberal apologist hyperbole. Just pay attention and watch what happens this year - and then feel free to apologize for your favorite "victims" while ignoring their role in the mess.

"Who cares how many nukes Israel has, it did not stop the Hezbo's last year..."

Typical zionist distortion of history. For a more informed and rational analysis of events last year in and around Greater Israel please see this column by Jonathon Cook, who writes from Nazareth:

Israel's supposedly "defensive" assault on Hizbullah last summer, in which more than 1,000 Lebanese civilians were killed in a massive aerial bombardment that ended with Israel littering the country's south with cluster bombs, was cast in a definitively different light last week by Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert.


Oh godz, now I'm a "zionist" too... (**shudder**)

Look, as much as the apologists would like to pretend otherwise, the Hezbos, hamas, fatah do not want Israel to exist. They are teaming up with Iran and Syria and they will have their "War To Wipe Israel off the map" - likely some time this summer.

Hide behind pseudo "informed and rational analysis" all you want but you are just kidding yourself.

Pick your favorite team (for whatever reason), make your excuses and apologies now in advance, but also make some popcorn and watch from a safe distance if you can.

" Israel's struggle for peace is a sincere one. In fact, Israel desires to live at peace not only with its neighbours, but also and especially with its own Palestinian population, and with Palestinians whose lands its military occupies by force. Israel's desire for peace is not only rhetorical but also substantive and deeply psychological. With few exceptions, prominent Zionist leaders since the inception of colonial Zionism have desired to establish peace with the Palestinians and other Arabs whose lands they slated for colonisation and settlement. The only thing Israel has asked for, and continues to ask for in order to end the state of war with the Palestinians and its Arab neighbours, is that all recognise its right to be a racist state that discriminates by law against Palestinians and other Arabs and grants differential legal rights and privileges to its own Jewish citizens and to all other Jews anywhere. The resistance that the Palestinian people and other Arabs have launched against Israel's right to be a racist state is what continues to stand between Israel and the peace for which it has struggled and to which it has been committed for decades. Indeed, this resistance is nothing less than the "New anti- Semitism"."

The rest of the article at:

Who said anything about attack helicopters and jets? Are you really that ignorant or just trying to distort the argument to support your cherished view of Hamas and Fatah as innocent victims? Why do you prefer such an ignorant and simpleton view instead of reality? Do you also pretend both Hamas and Fatah recognize Israel and that they do not want it destroyed?

Who is the "we" that are not being attacked? Who is the "we" that uses suicide bombers and fires rockets at deliberatly at civilians during the "cease fire" - and then hides among civilians for protection?

Both sides share blame in the continuing hostilities. My post simply reviewed the reality of what has been happening the past year since the Hezbos made a valiant stand against the IDF.

The trio surrounding Israel have planz of their own. Don't be so gullible. I'm sure they look forward to support from the western anti-semite leftists and cooperation from the media when they stage their "civilian casualties" PR events later this summer.

As for "we're not being attacked" - that depends on who you define as "we" (leftist apologist pansies at a safe distance do not count).

"...something about the dominator feeling weak." Or just plain old paranoia. To speak frankly, Israelis use that paranoia as an excuse to get what they want no matter how nasty..Like confiscating Palastinian lands and filling'em up with Jewish "settlers".

I'm an armchair general too, but digging tunnels and fortifying oneself as preparation to attack something is a non sequitur.

Are suicide bombers and random missile attacks on civilian centers defensive too? After all these years, why now stockpile weapons and build tunnels - including tunnels into Israel?

In any case, as I said in my original post, Both sides are preparing for war. Regardless of which side you favor or make excuses for - for whatever reason-, they are preparing and it's likely to begin this spring/summer.

Nicely put regarding spot versus futures. Too bad everyone on this blog isn't that polite.

I'm probably going to start doing a more or less weekly column on Graphoilogy, probably every Monday, starting in a week or two.

First three topics will probably be on Texas/Lower 48 Model (Revised); ELP & The 40 Acre Plan for Survival and Electrification of Transportation.

In regard to the Texas/Lower 48 article, IMO, Robert's assessment of the Texas data is wrong.

I think that we do see a strong linear pattern in the Texas data, starting in 1958. I am going to ask Khebab to do some modeling to compare predicted post-1972 cumulative production, using the HL data from 1958 to 1966 (inclusive) and from 1958 to 1972 (inclusive) to compare to the actual post-1972 cumulative production. And one thing that I would like to do is to construct a mathematical definition of when to start using the data for a HL prediction--probably in terms of running averages of year over year changes in amplitude on the HL plots.

One benefit of this exercise was to help confirm what I suspected, i.e., the recent "dogleg" in the Saudi HL data is probably just an artifact of the increase in production right before the peak. Right now, I think that the 75 Gb in remaining Saudi reserves is probably the outer limit for remaining recoverable reserves, instead of being the lower limit.

I am puzzled as to why Robert focus didn't focus on this data set in order to evaluate the HL method: http://static.flickr.com/45/145149304_a4a72211e6_o.png

After all, Hubbert did accurately predict the approximate Lower 48 peak--inclusive of Texas--and the post-1970 cumulative Lower 48 production was 99% of what the HL model predicted it would be, using only data through 1970 to construct the model.

And finally, there have been three recent predictions for lower crude oil production, based on the HL method--World; Saudi Arabia; Mexico--and in all three cases, crude oil production is declining.

BTW, anyone notice any similarity between the Lower 48 HL plot and this HL plot: http://static.flickr.com/54/145149301_b930ef7bc4_o.png

Did you see this at EB?

This disagreement between the two experts is not easy for a lay person to follow (at least not for this lay person). Is there a science writer or technical writer who could explain the controversy so that a wider audience could understand it?

Is there a geek-to-English translator in the house? ;-)

Is there a geek-to-English translator in the house? ;-)

I do know how to explain things in laymen's terms. So, here is a very simple explanation. A model should not be at the mercy of the person doing the modeling. I should be able to explain the technique to someone else, describe the parameters involved and what they mean, and that person should come up with the same answer as me.

The HL is not remotely like that. The parameters aren't tight at all. Does a country peak at 48% of Qt or 60%? You can't say, even though the difference can span 20 years. What should the intercept be? Depends. So you couldn't just hand this to someone with instructions for finding the peak for a given country. It is completely "operator dependent."

Here is the simplest layman's explanation that just came to me in a flash. It's like a ouija board, where the operator can strongly influence the outcome.

Robert, a model is a model, not a absolutely perfect tool for prediction. Models are refined over time and frequently vary case by case (e.g. inflamatory responses within your body follow a model but vary by tissue and by stimulus and between individuals in the population).

What you said could just as easily apply to modeling of ecosystem dynamics or evolution itself. There will be variations for individual cases that cloud the probabilities for each.

Robert, a model is a model, not a absolutely perfect tool for prediction.

I understand full well what a model is and what its limitations are. But if I have a model that behaves like a Rorschach inkblot test such that it allows people to see what they want to see, then I have a poor model.

In science we are stuck with "poor models" more often than not.

We'll see as time passes how well the Saudi puddle follows HL and whose reading of this Rorschach inkblot, tarot cards and Ouji boards was most accruate (and, in hindsight, where the errors were in the inputs by the various operators).

Robert I urged you to do the error analysis on HL I knew full well what the outcome would be but you needed to see it for yourself.

What your not doing now is stepping back and taking a critical look at it. I've done a lot of useful work with unstable equations and gotten good results well past where you would think they would work.

I used to do semi-classical analysis which boils down to correlating a classical path with the density of a quantum wave function. In some cases you can get correlation well below n=10 where the theory predicts it won't work for n < 100 where n is the quantum energy number.

How did I do this I picked the right paths through inspection of numerical results. I've even done this with systems that were chaotic using a method called needle in a haystack. The Poincaré surfaces of section look like random dots.

These results are confirmed with a full wave function calculation. It just shows the human computer can blow the doors off any digital computer for pattern recognition.
Combining the strengths of both can result in some cool results.

One thing you did not do is finish the analysis and calculate HL plots for each year so your not seeing HL narrow in on the the right answer if you would do this you would see that HL gives a Gaussian distribution around the right answer. You gave three plots I had expected about 20.

If you do this then you will see that picking the smooth region of production actually has a firm analytical basis.
I cannot say your wrong in your conclusion but I can say you have not yet finished the analysis of HL and its error.
Until you finish your conclusion are unjustified.

I'll say one more thing your have harped on the fact that if we pick too early and are wrong then we lose all credibility well we are being watched by a lot of people now. The chances are about 90% that WT is right and your wrong by making a stand without finishing the analysis its you who stand to lose a lot of credibility.

So I urge you to continue to look at this and finish the analysis and understand the strengths and weaknesses of HL.

The only reason I like it is that I believe that perturbations to HL average to zero thus its correct. In fact thats a good analysis do some perturbation on the data.

But lets pull back from jumping to conclusions. There are a lot of ways to be wrong in what we are trying to do a early prediction of peak is just one.

Robert I urged you to do the error analysis on HL I knew full well what the outcome would be but you needed to see it for yourself.

Now wait a second. I originally brought up the topic because I had already done a quick and dirty for 1960's Texas, and saw that the precision was terrible. That's when I said I was going to do something more in depth. You did keep reminding me of it, but I didn't need to "see it for myself." I had already seen it, and my hypothesis was that when I did the full Texas history it was going to show poor precision.

One thing you did not do is finish the analysis and calculate HL plots for each year so your not seeing HL narrow in on the the right answer if you would do this you would see that HL gives a Gaussian distribution around the right answer.

What is the "right answer"? I think the problem here is that you are letting the prediction drive the model, instead of the model tell you what the prediction should be. You think you know the answer already (which you clearly show with your 90% view that WT is right). That's the whole point.

The chances are about 90% that WT is right and your wrong by making a stand without finishing the analysis its you who stand to lose a lot of credibility.

My credibility is not on the line, because the Texas case is what it is. What it is not - as we have been told again and again - a good analogy for Saudi. Or, if it is, then it suggests that we are a long way from Saudi peaking. That was what I showed in the essay, but some seem to want to revise and tweak the Texas model, while still presuming the Saudi prediction remains constant.

Point taken we both agree that the HL method seems to lets say wander a bit in its URR prediction. I saw it you saw it. I feel its important to discuss and so do you.

Now I also noticed that it tends to converge your basically claiming that it does not. I disagree. Two extremes in the production timeline don't fit the model at the beginning when the region has not be fully developed and in the production tail when advanced methods and other constraints like water handling cause and over estimate of the URR.

If HL did not converge over a good range of production then you would be correct in your assertions. But it does and in fact shortly after peak production it's practically 100% right. As far as I know KSA overall production peaked a while back.

The import fact is HL converges your ignoring this.

Next its not a perfect model it gives a range +/- a error term that both mathematical and related to how the region was developed. Taking into account more information is simply a way to pick the peak. It would be nice to convert some of this to a reasonably simple and analytical method.
I like the idea of making the initial estimate using a small number of variables then using the rest of the information as perturbation from the base value. The nice thing about this approach is it means your not placing too much weight on secondary considerations like discovery times, swing producer status etc.

And last but not least none of this really matters KSA is done. It would take a drilling campaign not seen since Texas peak for them too arrest the decline of ghawar from other sources. This is simply not going to happen in KSA just like its not going to happen in Mexico. Texas is in that sense a special case. KSA needs to be operating close to a thousand drill rigs assuming they have the fields to drill. They are not and probably because all they really have now are old mothballed fields they are reworking with the latest technology. On top of this the water handling facilities they would need to keep production rates high as their fields water out are mind boggling.

Is KSA going to still be a large producer of oil sure they probably will produce over 4mbpd for decades to come but thats not exactly what the world expects out of them.

If HL did not converge over a good range of production then you would be correct in your assertions. But it does and in fact shortly after peak production it's practically 100% right. As far as I know KSA overall production peaked a while back.

The Texas series didn't converge until 10 years after peak. Did Saudi peak 10 years ago? If not, then why do you think if it converges now that this tells you anything? You could have stopped and looked at Texas lots of other times and it appeared to be converging.

And last but not least none of this really matters KSA is done. It would take a drilling campaign not seen since Texas peak for them too arrest the decline of ghawar from other sources.

Well, you do realize that we have already had some 9 supergiants peak in the past 20 years, and during that time oil production increased by 20 million bpd? That's why I don't buy the argument "if Ghawar has peaked, then the world has peaked." The 9 supergiants amounted to twice the production of Ghawar. So, there is precedent against the argument.

Simple most of the remaining oil is under the control of NOC's over the last 20 years this was not true.

The NOC's exist because of the formally wide spread between production costs and profit. So while the rest of the world was drilling like mad to make small profit compared to the NOC's the NOC's enjoyed a unprecedented profit margin.

Today its a different world after a region peaks the costs of keeping production up skyrocket and the NOC's no longer have this spread to use as a tax base. They are faced with both rapidly rising costs and the need to make large investments which won't pay off for years. And of course during this time production is falling.

Sure the NOC's will be profitable for a while but not insanely profitable. It will take time for them to convert over to post peak style production where cost's are high and profit is low. The whole time absolute production is decreasing and the expectations of their populace are increasing.

So the NOC's face three negative conditions and only one positive.

1.) Production is declining
2.) Costs are rising
3.) Population costs are rising

The positive is prices are increasing but now I don't think at the rate needed to offset the above.

Libya did not open up because they wanted to be nice they opened up because of the spiraling production costs.

In my opinion post peak most NOC's are not viable. In fact we already see that they are on the downward slope of trying to regain the large spread they enjoyed in the past while not making the investments they need to maintain production much less grow it. Not even KSA.

I think a lot of people don't realize how desperate these NOC's will become in a pretty short period of time.
I'd like to see a estimate of KSA's recent production costs if its possible. The bill has to be high.

robert..according to p. 368 of "twilight" , saudi yearly production peaked in 1981 at 9.84 mbd. the secondary peak according to the eia data was 9.55mbd. in 2005. that would make peak 26 years ago, if the saudis were producing flat out in 2005, as many believe. do you think the saudis mature fields are capable of greater than 9.88 mbd. yearly production?

I don't know about their mature fields, but they certainly have projects in the pipeline to bring production up. They have been the world's swing producer for many years, and while they may have produced the most ever in 1981, they certainly didn't peak as in they couldn't produce any more than that. Remember, they produced 9.6 mbpd for 6 months in 2005. If they had peaked in 1981 at 9.84, they certainly would not have been able to pull that off. So I think it is clear that they have not been producing all out.

So I think it is clear that they have not been producing all out."

Do you mean for the six months? IMO, it is very clear that they were flat out, and could not hold that relatively brief span any loonger. Consider... if their capability was a bit more, say 10Mb/d, and 9.5Mb/d was the 'correct' amount, they would have produced exactly that amount for the period, with no declines to be stemmed by a new field coming on line. Well, more proof will be here soon. Price differentials in asia are showing they think they're being starved, latest is that us draws were 45Mb in feb! At what point do you think stocks will be 'just right' and sa will think it is time to increase production?

My biggest point Robert is I don't think you have proved your case and you think you have. Next even if you believe the HL analysis I don't think we have a good handle on what it can and can't do. Again we know the method converges post peak you say so yourself I think we can take this as a fact. What we don't have a good handle on is using it to predict production.
I agree. Whats not been proven is the only place it converges is ten years post peak.

I maintain during periods of reasonably unconstrained production after initial development it converges and works as a predictor with some sort of error around 5-10%.

I don't think that this has been answered either way.

For me the combination of HL and other factors is compelling now. If HL just gives a ballpark estimate that a region controlled by a NOC is 50% depleted thats enough for me since it means they won't be able to greatly increase production.

Finally to repeat myself the problem is not remaining reserves but the cost of producing the oil we have left and these have a far bigger effect on a NOC.

My biggest point Robert is I don't think you have proved your case and you think you have.

My case is that HL is not a very good predictive model, and certainly not capable of calling a specific peak year as Jeffrey is using it. And yes, I think I have proved that case. If you wish to dispute that, show me - using data available at the time - when it would have predicted a peak and how you would have determined it. I think only by going through this exercise yourself will you start to see the problem.

I think thats WT is going to look at the problem some using some interesting methods. If you look at how I post I spend too much time on this its a important issue so its worth it.
But on reason I'm on the computer all the time is I'll rolling some software out of a R&D project in into regular development I won't have any real free time for months.

And being a bit pragmatic we will know a lot more about KSA over the next few months. I've already predicted that they should be able to pull off a feeble surge over a few months from a combination of storage some well brought off line for resting and overproduction. Once this is past if they drop back and the price of oil is still high we know that HL plus other evidence did a good job and we can take a hard look at Russia or we failed.

Predictions for HL on KSA are on the table so to speak I really don't have a lot more to add Russia on the other hand
is not a solved problem. Understanding the results of KSA is I think useful for Russia.

And I hope I have some free time then. Its 9:25 PM on a Sunday night and I'm writing this and going back to do some work :(

One of the problems with being able to work anywhere is you tend to work everywhere :)

When you have a lot, you use a lot. When there's not much left, you don't use much.

So, when do we use the most?

We'll know for sure when we don't have much left.

I am puzzled as to why Robert focus didn't focus on this data set in order to evaluate the HL method:

Well, I thought I made that quite clear. I focused on the data set that you have long claimed should behave like Saudi. After all, you are using the method to claim a Saudi peak, and you have pointed to the Texas HL as evidence. Remember, both swing producers, yada, yada, yada.

So, YOU dictated which piece of evidence should be focused on. I focused on Texas, and showed that several of your long-time claims regarding the data set were wrong. Now, you are modifying your position, looking at a different time frame, and asking ME why I didn't look at something different? You have been asked several times if we shouldn't compare Saudi to the lower 48, and you have said no.

As I said, I think that this whole exercise has been beneficial, and because of the discussion, I am planning to revise the Texas/Lower 48 article, as noted above, with special emphasis on the 1958 to 1972 data.

In any case, I think that your Texas analysis is fundamentally wrong. IMO, the question you should have been asking is whether any portion of the pre-1972 data would have predicted a URR in the vicinity of 60 Gb. The key point to keep in mind is that you have to separate the noise from the signal. IMO, the signal is from 1958 forward.

Also, you will recall that there are four HL plots in the original Texas/Lower 48 article, and three of them--Lower 48; World and Saudi Arabia--show solid linear patterns (as does Texas, but it's over a shorter time period than the Lower 48). And as predicted, the world and Saudi Arabia (and Mexico) are showing lower crude oil production.

IMO, the question you should have been asking is whether any portion of the pre-1972 data would have predicted a URR in the vicinity of 60 Gb.

Actually, I would say that this is the question YOU should have been asking when you were using Texas as an analogy for Saudi. I am not using the model to make predictions. I tested it and found that the precision was poor, and it looks to me like the results are going to always be very open to interpretation. Ten different people might come up with 10 different answers, and that's not how a model should be.

You of course continue to argue a situation contrary to fact. Hubbert did in fact accurately predict the range for the Lower 48 peak--inclusive of Texas--and the Lower 48 HL analysis (using only production data through 1970 to predict post peak cumulative production) indicates that the prediction was not a fluke.

Furthermore, there is clearly a data set in the pre-1973 Texas data that points toward a URR in the 60 Gb range, that you chose to ignore in your zeal to attack the HL method.

Deffeyes in his latest book does raise questions as to how exactly Hubbert made his prediction. I wish I had it on hand so that I could quote the passage. Maybe somebody else can.

He talks about Hubbert being quite a complicated character.

From Beyond Oil, beginning of Chapter 3, "The Hubbert Method," pg. 35:

Even today, Hubbert's methodology is widely misunderstood. Hubbert inadvertently contributed to some of the confusion. His early oil papers have kind of a take-it-or-leave-it flavor. Not until 1982 - when he was seventy-nine years old (what I now call "midcareer") - did he publish his reasons for preferring certain formulas. The 1982 paper is pure Hubbert; he never hints whether he knew the 1982 explanation all along or whether he worked out the derivation long after the fact. Also, Hubbert never points out that the graphical method he explained had already been in use for some years by population biologists.

Thanks a ton, Calorie. There is at least one other passage where Deffeyes makes the same point again.

Not that I believe Hubbert was some sort of fraud. Just that Deffeyes felt compelled to mention these points on at least two occasions in that book. Things are fuzzier than Jeffrey would have us believe.

Not that I believe Hubbert was some sort of fraud. Just that Deffeyes felt compelled to mention these points on at least two occasions in that book. Things are fuzzier than Jeffrey would have us believe.

You make it seem if Deffeyes felt things were fuzzy. Nothing could be further from the truth. Deffeyes had absolute confidence in Hubbert's methods. He devotes an entire chapter to explaining the method, chapter 3, and you will need to read it to understand. But he goes into great detail to explain the Hubbert method and anyone can tell he has total confidence in it.

Ron Patterson

He devotes an entire chapter to explaining the method, chapter 3, and you will need to read it to understand.

Oh, I've read it. Several times. That's why stuff sticks in my mind long after it went back to the library.

Whatever the merits of HL, Deffeyes' book is 'lite'. i.e. not designed to win over an audience that subscribes to Nature and Science but instead to appeal to a much wider group.

He's a bit of a showman. And is well aware of the likely effect of his presentation on his audience. On one occasion he says something like, "When you see the next graph, it's going to turn you into a believer". That's not serious science, that's a man on stage.

All this is ok: the masses must be harangued. But where the heck is the detailed analysis of methodology?? Why is there only a tiny handful of HL plots in the book? Khebab and Staniford have produced many more HL plots than Deffeyes has published.

To his credit, Deffeyes does raise uncertainties about Hubbert on two or more occasions.

But in general, one often gets the impression of a guy having a little too much fun (and a little too lazy) to *really* be taken seriously. This comes across on his web site also.

Since he's an old man, I really wish his epigones would do all the really serious work that's required to force the scientific world to take notice.

When Deffeyes says that Hubbert's work had a "take it or leave it quality".....that could nicely pass for self-description.

Everyone has their own role to play. Robert and Stuart like to do the math, Deffeyes is out there speaking to conferences, groups of industry people and laymen. He has chosen his role in the recent past to be Paul Revere. Now he tells people it is too late and he is now a Peak Oil Historian. He tells you right out what he has seen his role to be and he is very good at it. Which is why he is a prime target for debunkers. When he tells you the chance of a soft landing is "a snowballs chance in hell" that is an informed opinion backed by the research of many others not just his own and he means it with all seriousness. I think he chuckles with irony when he observes the people leave his presentations and just go on with their lives as if all of this was just some scary bedtime story.

Hi Asebius,

re: "I really wish his epigones would do all the really serious work that's required to force the scientific world to take notice."

Well, is there any way to bring this about, do you suppose? Invite him to post and accept Qs?

What is the work do you think needs to be done? And...can anyone here either 1) do it? or 2) figure out how to get someone else to?

There has been work done here, of course, by Robert and Stuart. But it doesn't inspire huge confidence in HL as a predictive tool.

It would be great if Deffeyes would comment on that work.

It would also be great if he produced an article on his web site containing HL plots with commentary for all large and super-large oil producing regions.

Hubbert did in fact accurately predict the range for the Lower 48 peak--inclusive of Texas--and the Lower 48 HL analysis (using only production data through 1970 to predict post peak cumulative production) indicates that the prediction was not a fluke.

As Asebius points out, and you yourself have even said, we don't even know if he was using the same kind of method. So your point here is a red herring. You did see, though, where Khebab suggested that Hubbert may have just gotten lucky. We do know - regardless of the apologetics used to downplay the error - that he incorrectly predicted the world peak. But as I said, this issue is a red herring anyway.

Furthermore, there is clearly a data set in the pre-1973 Texas data that points toward a URR in the 60 Gb range.

You still really, really don't get it. How do you know what the URR of Texas is? Because you have 35 years of post-peak data to tell you. You don't have that in the case of Saudi. So, you are question-begging here. You are trying to figure out which date range to look at to give you the answer you want - but that answer was only available far after the peak. In the case of Saudi, you don't actually know where the line should be pointed. That's why you are begging the question.

I really don't know what else to say. I plotted my graphs. You have seen the data. You keep saying that there was a data set from the 50's that points to the "right" number, but what I would really like for you to do is to plot that data set and show your work. I think that graphic would be worth a thousand words. I know what it's going to look like, and I think people are going to come away thinking that you are grasping at straws.

But just limiting the data set for a time interval of 1958 to 1972 (pretty short timeline) seems to look like picking the data to acheive the desired answer. Would it not be reasonable to expect that additional data points on the timeline beyond 1972 should actually improve the precision and accuracy of the HL technique? If it doesn't, then wouldn't that suggest that there is, as of now, an undefined error range?

And man, Mr WT, I hope that you are seriously wrong about the KSA reserves. We all should have a better idea this summer, eh?


wt, if you should have the misfortune to drill dry hole (and i am hoping that doesnt happen) you can just say to yourself "that is not how a model should be"

Robert your contributions have been invaluable btw I hope you see this post. I know you have forced me to focus and think about what I'm thinking. I wish doing if I had the time.

You have made a lot of great and valid observations. And I agree that their have been some mistakes made in using HL.
Or rather we have not spent enough time understanding it.

WT does need to change some of his work from your response.
I needed to make some changes in the way I was thinking.

If you are that disenchanted with HL I'd love to see another simple model that we could use as a HL test. Two reasonable simple models would be very useful.
All I can come up with are simply variants of HL using a different equations I don't think this route is all that useful. Other people have used quite a few different methods to model peak oil. If you have one your prefer then I think we should include that method along with the HL predictions.

A bottom up approach is fine if the data is readily available most people that do bottom up seem to have access to data thats not public.

This post is buried I hope you read it if not I'll bring this up again.

Hi m,

Thanks for pursuing this. I think it's important to have some clear ideas to put forward about what "peak" is based on, whether that includes a range of estimates according to dates, amounts, or whatever.
I haven't heard Robert propose an alternative to the "megaprojects" approach, so I'm interested in what he has to say, as well.

What a bunch of Peak Oil geeks we all are. I am the guiltiest among the bunch, but consider the following two comments from yesterday:

My Comments:

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." (In an article on Russian oil production) Nope, no problems here.


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

So, I put the Russian decline no later than 2008, while Memmel puts it as soon as 2009. And our difference is? It's the same deal with Robert, but I am pissed off because the attack on the HL method (again, with a curious lack of interest in the Lower 48 case history).

Cut to Titanic Scene (Brown and Rapier sitting in lifeboat, arguing over who had the best estimate of how long it would take for the ship to sink):

Brown: My model was not wrong; I told you we would sink in two hours.

Rapier: Look, how often do I have to explain this? It was merely a coincidence that we sank in two hours. Just because you accurately predicted the sinking doesn't mean that your model was correct.

My guess is that this debate masks deeper divergences. I don't think Robert would say that the world energy situation is analagous to a sinking ocean liner. (RR: Please correct me if I'm wrong )

For Jeffrey Brown, peak == doom or near doom.

For, RR peak equals a much less clear situation.

Brown: My model was not wrong; I told you we would sink in two hours.

I have already shown that the model was wrong. It did not behave as you kept telling us that Texas did. So, you were wrong about that. What you predicted was based on your understanding of where Texas had peaked, but as I showed your understanding of that situation was wrong.

Like Stuart said, "Maybe you are brilliant, maybe you just got lucky." I would add, "Maybe you are wrong and Saudi hasn't peaked." I don't think we are going to have to wait long to find out.

I have already shown that the model was wrong. It did not behave as you kept telling us that Texas did. So, you were wrong about that. What you predicted was based on your understanding of where Texas had peaked, but as I showed your understanding of that situation was wrong.

Not to nitpick but you did show that WT initial interpretation of the model was wrong. We agreed earlier that both of us felt that it had some issues and I will say I felt you are the best person too address the issues.
I think thats been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt :)

The modification that has been made is to pick the stable area
for HL this seems to best fit HL's underlying assumptions.
I agree the criteria needs to be tightened but its not wrong to pick a stable region of production for HL. So you made your analysis it highlighted a real problem and WT has given you and initial and reasonable response.

Next more work should be done.

The next article which I'm sure is coming out on HL should make sure and include the key points of contention.

Next you have dismissed the predictive power of HL thats fine but again I urge you to present the model of your choosing so we can compare and contrast it with HL.
Note a lot of work has been done on this already.
But the important thing is to present something your willing to support.
If you don't have one then thats a problem.
If it turns out you do and it beats HL and is easier to decent all the better because although I like HL its not and easy "sell".

I will say that from my experience science involves heated debate with numbers formula's as weapons so at least by that criteria we seem to be doing something. And so far this debate does not hold a candle to some of the reviewer comments I've seen for journal submissions. I wish people could read about that side of science. Some of them could burn holes through the paper they are written on.

Back to work...

Not to nitpick but you did show that WT initial interpretation of the model was wrong. We agreed earlier that both of us felt that it had some issues and I will say I felt you are the best person too address the issues.
I think thats been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt :)

The irony for me in all of this is that WT used the behavior of Texas (specifically %Qt at peak) to guide him in calling a Saudi peak. Yet when I showed that his understanding of the Texas HL Qt %at the time of peak was wrong, some people didn't even bat an eye. They continue to insist that the HL supports a Saudi peak right now. So, what's the rationale? How does one determing the stable area? Texas was quite stable in the 60's. At what %Qt should Saudi peak? And what is the justification? Try answering these questions, and I think what you will find is that this is really a stretch to even call this a model.

What I clearly see is that people have a conclusion, and they are trying to force the "model" to fit the conclusion. That is bass-ackwards.

Next you have dismissed the predictive power of HL thats fine but again I urge you to present the model of your choosing so we can compare and contrast it with HL.

Just because one model is wrong doesn't mean that there is an alternative ready to displace it. There may be no models at all capable of making this prediction. In fact, I would say that this is definitely the case, or there would be no controversy on the subject.

I have done a lot of modelling work in the past (fluid dynamics / CFD, development of Kalman filter models of sensor error behavior and a few other things) and I know that models make various simplifying assumptions resulting in more or less approximate descriptions of how something should behave in the real world. The assumptions behind the HL method represent some serious simplifications. Nevertheless, they appear to be very good on the macro level as there are some fundamental gross characteristics of production in the extraction of a finite resource that are reflected by the model assumptions. However, the model does not take things into account on what one could call the "micro level," such as the so-called above-ground factors. So, it is not surprising to see noise causing problems when trying to use the method to nail an exact date for peak.

Does all this mean the method is crap and not worth a damn? Of course not! It just means the model is approximate and is subject to expert interpretation more than some would like to see. It is just one tool among many to try to figure out what the future of oil production is going to look like. When taken within the right context, HL is quite valuable from all I have seen.

It just means the model is approximate and is subject to expert interpretation more than some would like to see.

Where you see "expert interpretation", I see huge error bars that span decades. Simple questions: How do we use the HL to determine if a region has peaked? What are the key parameters?

Those are questions that don't have answers. What takes place is rationalization, not actual expert interpretation. If it was expert interpretation an expert could give some training to others and they should see roughly the same thing. But when you start saying "In this 100 point data set, there are 4 points in 1950 that point to the right answer", then you have a problem with your model.

"Simple questions: How do we use the HL to determine if a region has peaked? What are the key parameters?"

I'm sure I'm probably late to the party here, since there are so many experts with more experience than I, but viewing the problem in a signal processing context:

1) The below ground, geology driven signal is the signal that you want to analyze.

2) The above ground, geo-political/economy driven signal is the noise that you want to filter out.

Since it's hard to distinguish the two, can periods of the production history be examined and identified as clearly being driven by geology? If so, these period should provide the best data for a HL.


2) The above ground, geo-political/economy driven signal is the noise that you want to filter out.

Completely untrue.
Oil does not push itself up out of the ground.
It is the human insects and their economically driven entrprises that drill the holes and pump the stuff up.

The Hubbert Curve assumes Texas style competition and East Texas era technology.

The only thing that holds as a mathematical truism is that total production Qt equals the integral of production rate (P) over time.

"If it was expert interpretation an expert could give some training to others and they should see roughly the same thing."

Robert I disagree with this statement and concept. Watch the forecasters at the NOAA Huricane center predict paths for hurricanes. They all get the same data via multiple models. But individual forecasters appear to be better able to forecast the accurate track to landfall, more often, from further out than others.

All are good and all use probabilities on the track and all modify every 6-12 hours, but some are still better at it than others. I have even seen some state that they are basing the track much more on a particular model than the group, for specific reasons.

How can some look at the available data and incorporate all the intangibles (that aren't in the models predictons) to arrive at the forecast track? That sort of experience, or "feel" for the data is not easily taught to others.

This is common in science at the cutting edge of research where unknowns abound. The data sets are there for all to interpret but some are much more accurate in predicting what is going. Over time the good researchers build a track record of being right and "seeing" into the future. Their predictions carry more weight over time and even with rafts of grad students or associates they often can't pass on this ability for that specific field.

In my mind this is what drives science. The really good scientists connect all the dots quickly. Build a model in their head of what is not known (yet) to the rest of us. This model makes evident to these researchers new experiments or predictions to test and the process repeats. These scientists understand the big picture sooner than the rest so they have an advantage in explaining the relationships between data sets. A disproportionate few individuals impact the gain and breakthroughs in science and they often make multiple contributions.

Models are poor approximations of what these people know, or believe they know, about complex phenomena.

To equate what a hurricane forecaster does (selecting between various complex simulations run on supercomputers) with the statistical abuse of the HL Method being debated here is a bit of a stretch.

Models are poor approximations of what these people know, or believe they know, about complex phenomena.

Believe they know, maybe. Have you spent much time in academics?

In any case, this isn't cutting edge data analysis. This is "won't get the paper past peer review" data analysis.


Late in responding, don't know if you check back.

No, I am not in academics. I am in industry. In research, inventing products. And I have some patents to my name. And I have current commercial products in the market place so I know how to do both. I have observed that most people in science don't do truly new things very well. They only extrapolate onto the existing science base. Thinking out of the box IMO and experience is very, very rare.


I think you are putting left brain/right brain

processes together-appropiately; and i think the

best scientists are doing both.Children seem to

intuitively think/know without having much

capacity for logical thinking.Einstein appears

to have known where he was going before he could

prove mathematically relativity.

Regarding WT & RR's debates I think this is relevant.

They both appear to be very right/correct to me.

I've done a bit of modelling myself (in the field of ecology), and I always thought of making models as a way to account for as many influential parameters as possible and gain some notion of the feedbacks among them - at least the directions of those feedbacks.

When you get into modelling anything remotely complex, tight prediction is obviously not going to happen. And the scope of your prediction matters: predicting tomorrow's weather vs. the weather for next January 23rd, e.g.

But as someone once said (and I can't remember the author - heard it on the radio one night. I think it might actually have been a geologist)...

There exist systems of sufficient complexity such that the only predictive model for that system is the system itself.


When you get deep into really complex modelling of natural systems, it tends to end up rather humbling... :-)

To attempt to re-direct this rather uninteresting semantic squabble:

Robert, you made an assertion (yesterday?) that we would have to wait for the summer call on OPEC production in order to determine if the Saudis have peaked. I think that we should be able to see it sooner than that: Since OPEC is holding production "constant", then the Saudi production should stabilizein March, if they are not in decline. If they are in fact in decline, they should not be able to stabilize their production (absent new projects coming online).

Of course, if they do stabilize, we could theorize that they are in decline, but still maintaining spare capacity... but that seems to be stretching Occam's razor a bit far.

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

Hindmost, I must keep reminding people that the peak oil, (not peak ethanol or bottled gas), so far, was 2005. And even when a country is in decline their month to month production will often jump up and down. Witness Norway, Great Britain, Mexico and the US. Only when we look at many months production can we see a trend.

Ron Patterson

A good point, but for SA in particular, the last year of declines have been pretty steady, based on the EIA/IEA numbers. While there could be some fluctutation, I still think that it should be close to impossible for SA to mask that for long if they are in decline. Perhaps a month, surely not 2.

Since we are reasoning on incomplete information, and have 2 competing hypotheses ("Strong Saudi decline" ala WT, vs "Steady Saudi Production capacity for now" ala RR) to explain the observed trend, I am looking for a test that will prove either of the hypothesis false. This is a standard procedure in troubleshooting complex systems (which is my profession).

I posit that flat Saudi production in March would provide strong support for the "Steady Saudi Production" hypothesis. Conversely, an 8% drop in Saudi production in March would provide strong support for the "Strong Saudi Decline" hypothesis.

Indeterminate results are possible, and would not provide additional information for evaluating the hypotheses.

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

While there could be some fluctutation, I still think that it should be close to impossible for SA to mask that for long if they are in decline. Perhaps a month, surely not 2.

Surely you jest. Both Great Britain and Norway have increased production for the last three months in a row. It is quite common for a country in decline to increase production for several months running. And when new fields are opened, several years. The US for instanced, peaked in 1970 yet they increased production from 8.132 mb/d in 77 to 8.971 mb/d in 85, increasing every year in the interval except one. That was because Prudhoe Bay was brought on line. If Saudi Arabia brings one of their new projects on line, they could increase production for several months in a row, easily.

No, Saudi Arabia does not have a Prudhoe Bay to bring on line but they do have several projects of several hundred thousand barrels per day each. These could mask their decline fro several months each. However none of the new projects, in my opinion anyway, will halt their decline for more than a few months.

The clue will be, will any increase in production be tied to new projects.

Ron Patterson

Hello Hindmost,

re: "...~5 years, then slow recovery"

Can you explain this a little more? Upon what are you basing the recovery? And does that assume with no major population loss?

I put my SWAG's (Scientific Wild-A** Guesses) about the peak oil future in my sig so that I wouldn't be accused of being more of a cornucopian than I am...:-)

I believe that peak oil decline will be _relatively_ slow, and that therefore the world will be able to adapt to the decline without complete collapse. Every economic actor in the world (states, corporations, and individuals) will focus on developing alternative energy supplies, improving energy efficiency, and altering their lifestyles to minimize energy consumption, once the decline becomes apparent.

There will be loss of life from this transition, from wars and famines. It will be easy to suggest that a given war, or famine was caused by the oil scarcity, but difficult to prove it; wars and famines are complex, and difficult to attribute to a single cause. But I don't expect the global economy to dis-integrate, or cease to function.

I am certainly not saying that complete societal collapse is impossible, but I do think it is unlikely. Collapse scenarios are predicated on the assumption that the decline in oil supply will be dramatic, and sudden (ie 10% per year), overwhelming all adaptive responses. This is perfectly logical, and quite possible. But I don't personally consider it to be the most likely scenario, based on my assessment of the data that has been presented on this site (and others).

Predicting the future of systems as complex as the global economy is impossible to do for very long, so all predictions on this site (including mine!) need to taken as descriptions of possible futures; none of them can describe the actual future.

Although there are aspects of our current highly leveraged econonmy that are brittle, the overall system can still be described as a highly resilient, highly adaptable complex dynamic system. When petroleum-based energy becomes expensive, capital will rapidly be redeployed towards alternative supplies - because enormous profit can be made. The (probably short-term) decline in EROIE will crimp lifestyles signficantly, and will change how we live our lives, but in the long term there are sources of energy that will more than adequately replace petroleum as it dwindles.

We are already seeing massive capital flows into alternative energy supplies (batteries, solar, wind, CTL, and nuclear (outside the US)), driven by the current "high" price of oil. None of them can replace the 'lost' oil from depletion at present, but they will all become cheaper, and more efficient the more capital is allocated to them. This will only accelerate as oil becomes scarcer. It is also true that sudden jumps in oil prices cause recessions, and destroys demand, dampening any upward spiral in prices caused by the scarcity. The poor will suffer first, and most in the transition, as we are already seeing in Africa.

So, I choose to be 'hopeful'. It doesn't mean I am right, but it is based on the most objective, rational analysis of the data, and the most careful judgement of the arguments made on this site that I can construct.

I am installing solar HW, and Solar PV on my home, and downsizing my cars to the most fuel-efficient models I can get, to insulate myself from fuel price shocks. I am trying to get my back fixed so I can start riding to work again (30 miles each way!!! :) But I am not armed, and will not be moving to a rural area to become entirely self-sufficient. There is far too much benefit for my family in being able to participate in the modern world to offset the risks.

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

Hi Hindmost,

Thanks. I appreciate your thoughtful reply.

(I'd also be interested to hear more detail on the role of decline rate intersecting with your scenario at some point. For example, how did you come up w. the 10%...? I mean, is there a cut-off number, under which you see capital being able to "flow"?)

I also wonder what you see down the road, esp. in regard to the CTL and nuclear "peaks"?

Good luck w. your back. (I can give you lots of free advice on that!)

I can use all the advice on my back I can get - I _think_ that a degenerate L5 disk is causing the sciatica, combined with my desk job. But no matter what I've tried I still can't ride a bike, even a recumbent, without several days of agony afterwards...

As far as predicting specifics about how much decline the economy can absorb without completely collapsing: Well, I'm pretty much guessing. But so is everyone else here - the economy is far too complex to forecast the threshold for collapse with any specificity.

10% is not a hard number - it _is_ a very scary number. If the global CC numbers were to start a decline at 9% in the next 3 years, I am quite sure that chaos would ensue, too. There was a nice article on TOD recently which defined 3 possible "bands" of decline rates, Slow, Medium, and Fast, and guessed at the impact on society. That is about the grain of exactness that is possible - and even that was hotly disputed, and is probably wrong. I can't find the article, but will keep looking...

Based on what I have read here about the existing decline rates of known mature fields, and the economic response to high oil prices, I expect the decline rates to be slow enough to allow us to adapt to scarce oil. But I am still studying the trends, and will continue to update my opinion as more data become available. The Saudi oil supply question is quite significant this year, though I have about a 70% confidence that they can still pump at 9.6mbd, based on their public statements, and their past behavior patterns. RR's assessment of the high inventory levels last summer is plausible to me.

Forecasting the future for CTL and nuclear is just not possible (for me). There have been excellent discussions of possible constraints on those systems, and estimates of possible peak scenarios. But there are many possible implementations of a Nuclear ramp up, or a CTL ramp up, which can have very different outcomes - some more successful, and others less so. How fast will batteries mature? High energy and power density batteries can offset a lot of our current petroleum use - the Tesla and Phoenix SUT are truly exciting proofs that practical electrified transport is very close. We will also need to supply them with energy, so how fast will solar get deployed? Solar thermal is growing rapidly, global solar innovation and production are moving rapidly up the exponential growth curves. Wind power is also growing by leaps and bounds. Each of these factors interacts with the others, and all of them are constrained by Time. If we have enough time, I can see path to a sustained high-energy global economy (albeit hopefully a much more efficient one!).

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

Hi Hind,

Since I'm a little freaked out on just about every other topic, I'll respond re: your back.

Sorry you're having such a problem. It's frustrating. (Also scary.) Well, there is a lot of good info out there (also a lot that's not, of course). There are some pretty good mainstream medical websites, and also "pub med", which has medical journal articles.

It's perhaps a good idea to read up just in general...gives you an idea of how the back works, etc. Personally, I'm 100 billion percent opposed to chiropractors, as have seen major (permanent) injuries from them. This is my bias.

Have you had a diagnosis? (Again, exercise extreme caution I'd say!) Sometimes "mainstream, conventional medicine" can actually give a diagnosis. (If I sound like I'm knocking them, as well, it's because I've also seen injuries result conventional treatment, although this has been some time ago - perhaps things have improved.) Also, I'd exercise caution with the diagnostic procedures themselves ...

You can always ask things like: "What will this show? Will it change the treatment any?" Perhaps make a decision ahead of time not to say "yes" or "no" to any diagnostic procedure on the spot. That way, you can have time to read and/or get a second opinion.

So, sometimes there can be odd things happen...so, it's probably good to get a diagnosis. (I mean, I actually don't want to give advice at all!) (Except to "proceed w. caution".)

Did you do something to injure it?

So, there's something to be said for getting a first and second opinion (perhaps even "third opinion") diagnosis, reading up, keeping track of your symptoms (as in a symptom journal) to see what aggravates it, how long you've had it, etc.

There is a whole lot to be said for exercising in any way that doesn't hurt. (It's important not to hurt.) Sometimes, a really good physical therapist can help with this. (Although this would probably come after the diagnosis part.) For example, if you can lie down, and do stomach crunches (not sit-ups) this can strengthen the muscles. Most PT involves strengthening all the muscles that support the spine. It's amazing what exercise can do, if done properly. Also, it's important and can help to exercise other parts of the body (again, safely and w/out pain) - even doing arm exercises or whatever you can do.

Here I am...saying so much, when this is an oil site, and also has medical professionals writing. Also, just to continue...I've also seen where ignoring the problem can make it worse. So, again, I really don't want to give advice. (Yet, I'd like to be helpful, if possible.)

Anyway, I think I'm going to take a vacation from at least "Drumbeats". If you'd like more specifics, support or encouragement, please feel free to email me.

Take good care of yourself. This sounds rather important.

I was wondering, despite the bends and dips of the Texas HL, does the world HL show these jags?

In Roberts post Stuart or Kehbab noted that if the pre 1935 cumulative production for Texas was 7Gb and not 4Gb the HL plot was accurate when this data was included. My response was that
considering that the recovery factors where much lower than today and the fields where damaged one reason for the over site of production in the first places leaving 2Gb behind makes a lot of sense. These 2Gb would show later as these fields are redeveloped with advanced recovery methods. In fact this stranded oil is what made doing advance recovery profitable in Texas in the first place.

This issue needs to be considered for texas.

Next I think simple sums and running averages are a excellent idea the simpler the better. I posted a similar idea somewhere earlier. We cant forget that the data is very noisy so the less we finesse it the better. Because of the noise caused by un-modeled factors I believe its correct to use filtering also if you have a good argument for the filter preferably backed up with some analysis that at least shows the filtering concept is reasonable.

I'm confident that HL can extract real reasonable URR estimates and that it can give a peak date within 5-10% when its used with caution.

Russia might defy analysis but I don't see KSA as outside of the capabilities of HL. I'm hopeful that the combination of simple running averages and HL can even give a good estimate for Russia. The problem with Russia is the technology and the way the wells were produced changed dramatically and you had the long time period of no production.

In Roberts post Stuart or Kehbab noted that if the pre 1935 cumulative production for Texas was 7Gb and not 4Gb the HL plot was accurate when this data was included.

As I pointed out in response, multiple sources point to the correct number as 3.5-4 Gb.

But do you see what you are doing? You are rationalizing to force fit the model. So, how do we apply this knowledge in the case of Saudi? Do we presume that they have actually extracted more oil than has been reported? This is exactly what's wrong here. You have all of these pieces that you are trying to fit on, and all these parameters that span huge time frames, and then suggesting that this is actually a predictive tool.

It is a fact that what we have been told about Texas - the analogy for Saudi - was wrong. If we are now going to go back and rationalize various pieces in the case of Texas, why wouldn't that have an effect on the Saudi predictions? Should we leave that model as is and only change the Texas model? If so, why?

evan andersen, lydia capital

A lot of people are in disagreement with the supply-side trickle down economics of the world yet when it comes to the introduction of green energies that is what the green people attack. Remember that if the green energy is not introduced to China's poor for example then they will not be able to economically sustain the costs for such green energies. Coal will be used by the hundreds of millions in China. I agree that the capital production does rest in the hands of oil companies but getting the masses to have that economically affortable should be of high consideration too.

Evan Andersen, Lydia Capital

Hi Evan,

This is very interesting.

re: "when it comes to the introduction of green energies that is what the green people attack."

Could you possibly be a little more specific? Which "green energies"? (Which "green people" for that matter?)


The Opec oil cartel on Thursday decided to keep output unchanged despite calls for more oil by the world’s biggest consuming countries.

The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, which currently pumps about 30m barrels a day of oil, more than a third of the world’s total consumption, acknowledged in a report on Thursday that it may have to pump more oil by the end of the year. In the report, Opec raised slightly its expectation of world oil demand growth and said that the demand for its own oil would average 30.4m b/d, up from previous estimates of 30.25m.

Nevertheless, some delegates voiced concern over the stability of world markets after the volatile recent weeks on Wall Street. The report, which appears monthly, also noted the worries. ”Central Banks have been quick to respond, reassuring markets that the underlying economic conditions remain sound,” it said, adding: ”However, potential downside risks to the world economic outlook are coming to the fore.”


From this article: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v29/n06/lanc01_.html
“It all comes down to the question of political will… We need to insulate our houses, on a massive scale; find an effective form of taxing the output of carbon… ; spend a fortune on both building and researching renewable energy and DC power; spend another fortune on nuclear power; double or treble our spending on public transport; do everything possible to curb the growth of air travel; and investigate what we need to do to defend ourselves if the sea rises, or if food imports collapse. If we do that we may find that we develop the technologies that China and India will need. If we can show that it is possible to cut carbon output dramatically without trashing our economy – well, that might be the single most important thing we could do, far outweighing the actual impact of our emission reductions.

In his eponymous report, Nicholas Stern has argued that it would cost about 1 per cent of global GDP now to prevent a loss of 5 per cent of global GDP in the future. … One per cent of global GDP is 600 billion dollars.”

In terms of a mission statement, the above sums it up almost perfectly for me.

The author goes on to state that “The idea is that by paying it now we would be keeping the world’s economy on track so that by 2050 the developed world would be 200 per cent richer and the developing world 400 per cent, while our emissions decline by 60 to 90 per cent and theirs increase by 25 to 50. (One problem is that 17 per cent of that growth in developing world emissions has already been used up.) The promised economic growth is jam tomorrow; we would be paying for it today, in the form of increased taxes and lost jobs. These things are all real to voters in ways that climate change perhaps is not. Are people going to give things up in the present in order to prevent things that computer models tell them are going to happen in 25 years’ time?” and therein lies the rub.

$600 billion is not a lot in the global scheme of things (compared to US defense spending of $500 billion per annum, just as one example). However, left to the average voter, it will never pass muster. Governments globally need to mandate these changes without recourse to a democratic process. Regrettably I do not believe that politicians individually or collectively have the necessary backbone to do so.

Thanks for the link! I was hoping for a pleasant weekend, but after reading Lanchester's article I'm not so sure. I'm going to a party tomorrow and I know people will be asking me why I'm looking "distant."

My big problem is, that the solutions outlined to climate change sound so incredibly utopian given the socio-economic system we rich westerners live under.

Systemic inertia has been conciously built into our political institutions and most of the constitutions in advanced countries. In mainland Europe, for example, most of the constitutions can be seen as a reactions to age of revolutions. What this means is, that it was of vital importance to "reform" society and release the revolutionary pressure, slowly and in controlled way, so that whilst society appeared to change fundamentally, Power was still exclusive, though the elites which weilded Power changed somewhat.

"Democracy" is an interesting concept, though how one in practice develops a democratic society is far more problematic. Most western countries are provisionally "democracies" but with a variety of modifications.

But in my opinion it's the in-built inertia that is a real challange given the timescale we are facing in relation to Peak Oil and climate change. Our politial systems resemble super-tankers, when we need yachts.

Is some form of totalitarianism pushing "democracy" aside our only hope of dealing with the severe challanges we face? I hope not. However, I think we can observe the outline of another form of society slowly making itself manifest.

The political elite appear to be using the threat of climate change to introduce new taxes and other measures designed to curtail personal freedom and mould society. How can I express this really simply? Totalitarianism will come dressed in green, not black or brown. The elite will still rule and their lifestyles will not change all that much, whilst the rest of us will be forced to tighten our belts and change our behaviour for the good of the planet.

Environmentalism can easily evolve into a new totalitarianism.

Environmentalims also contains within itself a moral imperative and a justification for the elite imposing restrictions on the lifestyles of the masses. I believe that it's possible to decern the outline of different socio-economic model where scarcity of resources rather than abundance becomes the new paradigm.

I'd just like to add that I've just come back from hospital after an operation, and I'm still slightly "high2 from the jabs they gave me before the knife sliced. So give me some slack fellow Todders. Have a nice weekend!

Personally, I think that was very good and also correct. It was what I was trying to say yesterday when the foaming at the mouth ensued. It was probably my fault because of the way I said it -- my "spout" came off as way too political. I take the blame for that.

Writerman, you said it much more eloquently --as opposed to my total lock thereof. The gist of my post was that our government, which is part of the "elite" you refer to, knows full well about peak oil and has for some time. And my take on it is that they are very quickly preparing for a totalitarian government to deal with it. And IMHO, I think they expect chaos--hence the rapid restrictions on our rights and the essential gutting of the constitution.

BTW, I never said whether I thought that was good or bad, only that it should be a wake-up call to those who are slumbering through their lives and can't imagine their lives changing dramatically or becoming generally more difficult and insecure on a day-to-day basis.

I'm not sure what I would do if I was in charge and saw the most difficult transition we've ever encountered fast approaching. I'd like to think that I would have been HONEST MANY, MANY years ago, but that's not what politicians are about.

To give them some tiny credit that they don't really deserve, they probably do fear what could happen if they actually told the truth. Would chaos break out just knowing we are about to enter very difficult times? I remember the toilet paper scare in the early 1970's. Rumors started circulating that toilet paper was scarce, and before you knew what hit you, it was. Shelves became empty as people started hoarding, and TP thefts went on the rampage. That was actually when they started locking up toilet paper in restrooms and putting those cages/locks on them. The whole thing was very weird. Now imagine what would happen if that was gasoline... So maybe they don't just fear not getting re-elected. Maybe they also fear the effect of any announcement.

And yes, it won't affect the elite, but it will affect the rest of us and people need to wake up.

Interesting UK documentary on climate change.


It would make and excellent cover for peak oil. But since I'm not a scientist, I don't know what to really believe. But I think conservation and limiting pollution are good things to do.

This has been covered ad nauseam:

The real global warming swindle

and yes, i understood that you were suggesting that this was part of some great conspiracy. More likely the work of independent cranks...

I just happened to watch the documentary and thought it was interesting. It may have even been a repost of the link and I didn't notice it was the same. Other than the link I posted, I did not mean to imply that I believed it is a cover for peak oil. I just thought it was interesting doc. I'm not even sure what I think about "global warming" itself, let alone whether or not it could/would be used as a cover for peak oil. As I said, I'm not a scientist. We get fed so much crap it is hard for the lay person to know what to believe. All I said is it would make a good cover...get everyone worked up over global warming and ratchet down fossil fuel use. But I don't necessarily believe that. I probably put the link in the wrong place by attaching it to my comment and this is the first time I have ever typed the words global warming in any comment, so I don't know about the reference you made.

The point in my previous comment was that the government knows about peak oil and is planning to deal with potential chaos--but this had nothing to do with global warming. The government plans all of the time. They don't necessarily do it well, but they do plan. So now I guess any sort of planning has become a conspiracy to be debunked??? Very strange. How would you feel if our military didn't make plans for what they would do to protect us in the event of an attack? Or is that "conspiracy" okay? In my book, it's planning. Have you ever had to budget?

Why has any sort of planning, or essentially project management, become conspiracy theories to be ridiculed?

"IMHO, I think they expect chaos--hence the rapid restrictions on our rights and the essential gutting of the constitution."

Don't forget Haliburton's Concentration Camps, The Heat Ray weapon, Artificial Black Ice and the LRAD(All non-lethal crowd-control weapons.).






Yes, we are getting ready for post peak oil in a big way.

The political elite appear to be using the threat of climate change to introduce new taxes and other measures designed to curtail personal freedom and mould society. How can I express this really simply? Totalitarianism will come dressed in green, not black or brown.

The elite will still rule and their lifestyles will not change all that much, whilst the rest of us will be forced to tighten our belts and change our behaviour for the good of the planet.

As opposed to usual capitalist/mercantilist/oligarchical elitists who make the rest of us tighten our belts and change our behavior for the good of the elitists?

As opposed to the usual just plain selfish elitists, environmental elitists do have a logical, ethical and scientific point: that current 'business as usual' is ALREADY going to impose severe costs on 'the planet', but specifically 'us humans', and that elites will benefit and the masses suffer.

A lot is frequently made of the argument that politicians can't adopt radical climate change mitigation policies because the voters wouldn't be prepared to vote for the hardships that that would entail. I actually think there is another reason for their lack of action, and this is well demonstrated in an article in the Guardian by George Monbiot. This is listed above as "the target wreakers" in Leanan's daily recommended reading list. He outlines how UK government ministries are thwarting attempts to implement policies which could tackle carbon emissions, and he implies that these ministries seem to be more interested in facilitating the interests of road and house builders than in tackling climate change.

''He outlines how UK government ministries are thwarting attempts to implement policies which could tackle carbon emissions, and he implies that these ministries seem to be more interested in facilitating the interests of road and house builders than in tackling climate change.''

Maybe, Maybe not.

Maybe the people in the know, know we are fooked:

What would you do, If you were right at the top (Eton/Guards/Oxbridge/Whitehall)?

The Duke of Wellington:

''If I thought the hairs on my head knew what my brain was thinking, I would shave them off and wear a wig''.

These people at the top are composed of streaky bacon and cold thought.

Just for one minute, look at the enormity of PO and Global Warming.

If PO is true, we starve to death. (forget fripperies like driving to work or flying to holiday villas).

If GW is true, we fry 'n' die

But, these people understand the real nature of the problem.Which is too many people. That is why:

Trident (UK Nukes) will be replaced
ID Cards will be introduced. (makes rationing and discrimination easier in a world of monumental population shifts)
DNA and Fingerprinting will occur for citizens (sorry - 'consumers') suspected of crime even though not convicted.

Soon, someone will fly a kite regarding RFID insertion for citizens (sorry - 'consumers').

Dont expect mercy or pity from these people. We exist at their pleasure and for our utility: we do their bidding.

(God knows, they would not keep us as Pets!)

Trouble is, things will get so badly out of kilter that even they will loose control.

Reminds me of turkeys contemplating the significance of the fact that no new feed was delivered in October

You left one out. This is also why the USA has recently spent $53 billion on biological warfare preparations and tested the 1918 virus. Not to mention constant media mention of a bird flu threat, preparing people for the inevitability of a 'natural' mass casualty pandemic.

"Maybe the people in the know, know we are fooked:"

There's a really good chance of that. It's really hard to believe that worldwide heads of state are totally ignorant of issues we peons debate. Which is exactly one of the reasons why I am not optimistic. If they won't discuss it or mitigation plans, then they likely don't think it can be mitigated.

The other reason I'm not optimistic is the overall rudeness in our society. It permeates everyday life as well as this blog. If we can't be civil when things are going well, what do you think is going to happen when they get bad? You think that starving group of people is going to approach you and sweetly say, "could we please have a bit of your sandwich?" They are more likely to bite off your head.

DNA and Fingerprinting will occur for citizens

Hi Mudlogger...

Minor point... but we never did achieve 'citizen' status... constitutionally speaking... are we not still Her Majesty's... SUBJECTS??

Which would certainly explain why:

We exist at their pleasure and for our utility: we do their bidding.

Yes, I do follow this line of thought. In my more generous moments I wonder if TPTB are allowing us to go out on a 'high' with the biggest party of all time because they know the problem has no solution for the vast majority of us. However, I do not know how many in power are aware of our true situation.
An incident which got my attention was when Ming Campbell became leader of the Lib Dem party. His demeanour suddenly changed big time. From being a very competent performer in the House of Commons he appeared to crumble. Our media pundits noticed this and made comments like "He's off his game", and "He needs to do better", to paraphrase. However, I think it possible that upon assuming leadership he was appraised of the situation, or some aspect of it, and it shook him to his core.
Particularly telling was during a Prime Minister's Questions session, he asked a question of the PM who then turned to him with an equally startling demeanour change, and treated him very kindly and solicitously, before returning to going for the jugular in responding to anyone else. (I apologise for the use of anecdotal evidence here to make my point, I am writing from memory, for anyone interested in pursuing it, it was one of the very early Prime Minister's Questions sessions following MC's leadership selection.)
My larger point here is that not all politicians will have the same degree of knowledge, and old style business as usual will exist alongside the new reality, leaving room for both behaviours - those outlined by Monbiot, and that of yourself, above.

Hi Bunyon,

Thanks for this post. This sounds so "sensible"!

re: "$600 billion is not a lot in the global scheme of things (compared to US defense spending of $500 billion per annum, just as one example). However, left to the average voter, it will never pass muster. Governments globally need to mandate these changes without recourse to a democratic process..."

A few Qs: (Not entirely out of laziness, but because I imagine others have already looked into this):

1) Does that defense spending number include the Iraq invasion?

2) How much of the defense number is actually debt? (i.e., how does the debt compare to defense - (actually I have trouble even using the word "defense" any more) - budget? At what rate is the debt increasing?

In other words, is it really the case that this is not so much money "in the global scheme of things" - i.e., if coming up with that much money requires increasing debt?

Or, how do others see it?

3) The Iraq invasion actually was *not* "left to the average voter" - was it? (So, there's a case of changes not left to the voter.)

4) So, it seems, what you're really saying is...gov'ts need to mandate...*new* changes (these particular changes)...without recourse to a democractic process...? Yes? (Or...?)

5) Re:
"Are people going to give things up in the present in order to prevent things that computer models tell them are going to happen in 25 years’ time?”

Well, people are already "giving up things" (increasing debt? increasing military spending?) now, for eg., accepting (to some degree) the Iraq invasion. This was apparently based on vague threats...?

6) More to the point, though, it seems that one major idea links the "give up in present" to "things that will happen in the future" - and that is, not just the time that is of the essence, but the energy/(money) is available now that will not be. Would you say? In other words, "peak oil" ties together the two.

My personal take on it is to say what "people" will or won't do...I question more closely...

Or...is it *certain* people?

Or...is it what "corporations"...will or will not do?

And...Are you sure they (voters) would not? I'm not so sure.

Could it be this is a case of placing premature "blame" on an uninformed "average" voter? When really...

Imagine this. George Bush and Tony Blair discuss the need to reduce the population to less than 1 billion people in order for anyone to survive. Would anyone ever hear about this discussion let alone get a vote on it? Everything we are learning seems to point to the need for this massive reduction in population. If we see it, they see it too. Probably much more clearly with the intelligence assets and research scientists they have at their disposal. Would they see the death of 6 billion people as evil or neccessary? They see their roles as being the ones responsible for making the tough decisions. Even ones as tough as this one. If it is true, what choice do they have? Their decision is being made with what is best for man's survival as a species and the survival of the planet. I'm sure the culling will be as selective as possible with regards to the state of current technology and the need for absolute secrecy until "the deed is done." I would think that, faced with this knowledge, if I were in their position, I would see that I had no choice.

Hi Cid,

I just left a long reply that apparently didn't make it to the forum, due to the computer I was using.

I don't have time now, but wanted to say something...

I was actually responding to Bunyon's post above, so perhaps we are responding to different posts?

In any case, to try again...

re: "I would think that, faced with this knowledge, if I were in their position, I would see that I had no choice."

Any human knowledge is necessarily limited, even collective knowledge. What appears to be "no choice" can be a failure of imagination, or of heart. Or something else.

This seems to be a kind of aggrandizement without a basis of justification in the real world. Why would the particular actors above have any more "right" to be in this position than anyone else? And yet...I assume you would not advocate *anyone* doing this?

To hold this would be to say anyone can judge on behalf of the rest of the population? I think there is a missing logic link.

It's a rationalization of actions that is unwarranted. Also, it blames the hypothetical intended victims, in a sense.

It's sometimes easy to lose our humanity.

I hope others will respond to this.

We are not talking about the "right" but the power to make a decision and carry it out. No one is being blamed. It is unfortunate that we have come to this. Like when Morgan Freeman in Deep Impact told the world that not everyone could be saved but that mankind would continue. Nothing like that speech would ever happen in the real world, of course. It will just happen. It is probably best that those who it will happen to never know, that their lives carry on as they always have up til the end.

Hi again Cid,

Thanks for responding.

re: "We are not talking about the "right" but the power to make a decision and carry it out."

However, it seems to me your arguments positing the "imagine this.." are a type of justification. This is what I mean by "right". To rationalize and justify the scene you present looks, in a way, to be the point of your post. When you say you'd make the same "decision" in their position, that, to me, looks to be a justification based on an argument. Namely, it goes like this:
1) I know certain facts
2) I have power to act
3) I am therefore compelled to act
4) Based on a kind of "cost/benefit" analysis I myself construct.

I'm just saying that when it comes to taking human lives, this is a justification. To me, you were constructing an argument justifying someone taking this decision. I'm saying this is not a valid justification.

If you simply say someone who can do this will, i.e., a simple "might makes right" argument, that's very different than attempting to put yourself in the place of the person with power, and construct a logic or rationale for that action.

My position here is that there is no rationale that justifies such an action.

re: "No one is being blamed."

What I was trying to ask about in my response to Bunyon seems relevant here. In a sense, the future (let's call them hypothetical) victims are being blamed.

They are being blamed for their 1) existence 2) for their presumed inability to make any kind of alternative arrangements to help the situation.

I'm saying that (2) is not necessarily the case.

Anyway, I didn't see the movie you're referring to, so I can't comment on this part.

They need no justification. They see a problem, They see a "Final Solution" to that problem. They act. That said, this is what I see. The oil is in decline. Fish stocks in the ocean are nearly depleted. Supporting 7 billion people is destroying the planet and will soon make it unihabitable. Without oil the planet, at tops can support 1 billion sustainably(a better figure is probably about 250 million).As the supply/demand gap increases, we will experience financial collapse worldwide. We will see disruptions in the transportation of food and other essentials. Not enough food will be able to be grown. People will begin to starve. Social unrest is inevitable threatening whatever infrastructure remains. Scavengers will dismantle the power grid to obtain "scrap" to sell to feed themselves and their family. The total irrevocable erosion of everything will commence. Then we will experience FAMINE on a scale larger than ever seen in the history of mankind. Pandemics will ensue as starving people have weakened immune systems. Wars, large and small, will continue over remaining resources. Without intervention, Coal will be burned in it's entirety just to stave off the inevitable a little longer. Planetary thresholds are passed and we enter runaway global warming. Temperatures exceed survivable limits. GAME OVER. OR... Informed Heads of State with the power to act reduce the population in the near term to sustainable levels and avoid the end of mankind and the destruction of the planet. Take the action before the action takes itself with the dire consequences detailed above.

Hi Cid,

Thanks for responding.

re: "They need no justification."

As far as I interpreted it, when you say:

"I would think that, faced with this knowledge, if I were in their position, I would see that I had no choice.",

this is what I would call a justification or rationale. It looks to me like you were providing a justification.

re: It looks like your positing two choices, here,
1) "Game Over" - by Nature. or,
2) "Informed Heads of State with the power to act reduce the population..."

My thesis here is the following:

1) There are more than only two choices;

2) There is no justification that holds water for "Heads of State" to act in the manner you describe, as per my post above.

3) I also think there are some big questions on the practical side about whether the actions you envision in this scenario actually would bring about the results you posit. This would be a "practical problems" argument.

However, I don't want to debate the impracticalities of something I consider to be untenable both on logic and ethical grounds.

"He who has ears, let him hear."

Currently in the USA two things are happening at the same time: record numbers of Americans are not paying their mortgage (obviously facing the prospect of losing their house) and gasoline usage is at a record level, up approx 3% YOY. This implies that the number of Americans both not paying their mortgage and concurrently spending more on gasoline than ever before is possibly also at a record level. If this is the case, it would appear that the demand for gasoline in the USA is even more inelastic than previously thought (bullish for prices). One would have thought that a record number of mortgage delinquencies would have at the very least caused a slight decline in gasoline usage.

IMHO, I think if someone decided/found out they could not afford their home(foreclose), they would have more money and use more fuel for a few months while they were not paying any mortgage/rent and looking for a new place to rent.

On the contrary. If you've just lost your house by mortgage default, you're renting some place really cheap, which is far away from where you work. That's why you're spending more on petrol.

Or maybe because it's so warm and there's not much snow people are out driving more? At least in Northeast. And daylight savings time, more trips to the mall - though those numbers aren't factored in yet.

cfm in Gray, ME

I wouldn't conclude that at all, first both numbers are imprecise, secondly, employment which lags both downturns and upturns has yet to become a factor. And I guarentee if unemployment goes up, you'll begin to see demand for gas go down.

Brutus: Consumption has increased in the USA for 24 straight years, and there have been fluctuations in employment levels during this period.

Brutus: Consumption has increased in the USA for 24 straight years, and there have been fluctuations in employment levels during this period.

Well, I do not have the figures for gas, but I would bet you are wrong. I do have the figures for crude oil and consumption dropped in: 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1991, 1992 and 2001. (24 years takes us back through 1983, so four of those drops fall into "24 straight years."


But all this is beside the point. A serious recession, caused by excessively high oil prices, and by definition, less oil available will cause a drop in consumption along with a very high unemployment rate. Check out the unemployment in 82, 83, and 92 on this chart:


And notice those spikes in the unemployment rate happens during years when oil consumption dropped.

Ron Patterson

My memories of the 70's oil scare isn't quite that simple.

Demand dropped because of rationing - rationing was brought in because demand remained high even though petrol costs were rapidly rising.

As then, petrol is the most important thing people buy today - life wouldn't be worth living without the vehicle! I think most 'consumers' would forgo Maccas (at least occasionally) and cancel pay-TV, gym membership and broad-band before they would consider not feeding their nice new shiny automobile.

In other wors, there's a lot of discretionary spending to be eliminated before fuel demand falls.

Darwin: My mistake. You are correct- 20 of the last 24. You are also correct in stating that a serious recession will lower gasoline consumption.

my view into the crystal ball: or, re: above ground considerations
look for a strike in iran in the next six days

While I agree with the premise, I think this time they need to provoke a fight...

U.S. hopes for quick vote on Iran resolution...hoping for a vote next week coincidentally. And they appear to be in agreement...eek!

But Iran has said they might(probably will) use oil as a weapon against sanctions...Iran threatens to use oil as a “weapon” in nuclear row

And that is where the spiral begins...who knows the timing, but if the production/demand numbers hold steady, something along these lines is likely to give in 2007.

It's all about population!

I just can't help but feel like iran is being set up to take the fall for an up coming "energy crisis"
I'm kind of worried, I hope I'm wrong

My feelings exactly. Be worried.

A forced oil embargo from Iran (and other ME regions), would be disastrous to economies, but mobilizing, and if a war goes hand in hand with it, it may have an especially unifying effect to various nations.

"Peak oil, what peak oil. It's the war with those nasty axis of evil-doers" Bush, pre-election run-up 2008

It's all about population!

Just curious, why 6 days? Why not 10? 20? 3?

nancy reagan would say it's in the stars, gwb might say, "hell we started bombing iraq on the persian new year, why not iran" and his hand picked generals would reply "why of course sir, we always start bombing campaigns on the new moon"
if it happens, Israel will probably throw the first punch, but this is all just crystal ball stuff.
anyway it has to do mostly with the six darkest nights of the month

When you say "a strike in iran" do you mean the Iranian people will go on strike, perhaps to protest their economic conditions or government policies? I have seen reports of scattered protests and unrest, so perhaps a labor strike is possible. Or do you mean that some outside party will strike militarily against Iran? The latter seems quite unlikely within a six day time frame!

sorry halfin, meant strike on

The US has the capability to strike anywhere in the world within 48 hrs. Since assets have already been brought to the Persian Gulf,(Carriers, Amphibious Assault Craft, Marines, etc.) they could launch within an hour of orders.

Mortgage Implosion -- Death of Suburbia Beginning ?

From Los Angeles Times 16 Mar 07


A town right on the default line
Foreclosure notices are painfully common in Perris, where sub-prime loans built a suburb.

"It's the age-old dream of the suburbs. Now, it's at risk in communities throughout the country, thanks to lenders too eager to lend and borrowers who thought houses would dispense money forever, like magical ATMs."

"Serrano, 34, grew up in Long Beach. He saw friends die in Long Beach. He still commutes there every day to work on the docks for Toyota Motor Corp. It's an hour in the morning and two hours coming home, a grind he suffers for the sake of his three young kids. "

Folks on CNBC were talking this morning about the unusual spread of Brent to WTI. It stands right now at $3.28, Brent above WTI. Historically Brent has traded at about $2.00 below WTI.

My take on this is that the availability of oil on the world market is much tighter than it is preceived to be here in the US.

Ron Patterson

For those of us who don't know can you explain the difference between Brent and WTI? Are they different in quality or are they produced in different geographical regions? Why should there be a spread at all?


WTI is West Texas Intermediate FOB at the Cushing, Oklohoma Hub. Futures of WTI is traded on the NYMEX in New York. Brent is a blend of North Sea oil, originally from the Brent field in the British sector of the North Sea. It is traded on the IPE (International Petroleum Exchange) in London.

They are both light sweet in grade. I am sure there are a few other differences but I am not sure what. At any rate they are very close in grade, just traded on different exchanges in different parts of the world.

Ron Patterson

West Texas Intermediate (aka WTI) or equivalent light sweet crudes are delivered via pipeline to the landlocked NYMEX deliver point in Cushing Oklahoma. Cushing sits at the convergence point of six different pipelines:

Spearhead: from Canada. Used to flow from south to north, but reversed flow in 2006 delivering Canadian syncrude to Cushing. Canadian imports into PADDs 2 and 4 amount to about 1.50 million barrels/day (bpd).
Jayhawk: delivers mid-continent crude to Cushing, about 800 thousand bpd
BP Amoco and Basin pipelines: link Midland TX to Cushing
Seaway: from Freeport TX to Cushing
Sun: from port Arthur TX to Cushing (total for these last four about 1.5 million bpd)

Crude flows ONLY into Cushing. Because of the reversal of the Spearhead line, and with no concurrent reversal of any of the other lines allowing crude to flow south, crude stocks at Cushing have increased due to limited refinery capacity. Refinery capacity expansions in 2007 will create incremental demand of about 105,000 bpd of crude at Cushing.

High prices for crude on the Gulf Coast (Louisiana Light Sweet is trading up to $4 per barrel premium to WTI) should also result in lower flows from the coast.

The Brent forward market is the underlying physical product of the IPE Brent contract. Brent blend is similar quality to WTI but trades as a waterborne crude in the North Sea (ie delivered in a tanker). This gives it more flexibility from a destination point of view - the tanker can theoretically go anywhere in the world after delivery. It is not subjected to any physical pipeline constraints. Brent therefore is probably a better reflection of real world valuation for light sweet crudes.


Its excellent answers like this to a simple question that makes me come back to TOD, day after day.

Thank you. (and I didn't even ask the question)


Ron and BH

The differenctial between the Malysian Tapis and WTI as of yesterday was $9.45 a barrel premium. Like Brent it is waterborne. This seems to indicate that the world market for light sweet is very tight.

Asian refineries seem to be crying out for crude and willing to bid for it.

I think we are seeing something very interesting evolving.

Thanks BeaconBoy. Yes, something is happening. Looks like Asia and Europe is bidding for oil while the US is drawing upon its stocks. According to Aramco US Commercial oil stocks experineced a draw of 46 million barrels in February. I think this includes stocks of all products. (It is the last page of this 48 page PDF file.)

Malaysia Tapis Spot Price:

Ron Patterson


A few weeks when the differential was around $6 a friend of mine joked about itwhen it would get to $10. Neither of us realised it would get to $9 so quickly.

Thanks for links. As we all know you cannot keep drawing down stock forever. Something has to give sooner or later.

I sort of suspect WTI price will increase when the demand for oil in US increases. I think the US will have to start bidding against Asia. With the Yen strengthening and other Asia Pacific countries cuurencies strengthening including the Aussie Dollar against the US Dollar the competetition should be interesting. Revaluaing the Chinese currency up against the US dollar would also help China bid for more oil.

Looks like some interesting action to come folks. :-)

Coming to a gas station near you!


Especially interesting in light of SA's continued reduction below contracted volumes on oil destined for Asia. They may be willing to test Asia's mettle but not the US's.

Thanks bunyonhead and darwinian for sharing your expertise and knowledge freely with others. It is people like you who make it worthwhile to come here everyday.

Got to be careful... two different months were being compared. If you compare CL07K (May) with the May Brent, Brent still has a slight premium of $0.50. What is incredible to me is the contango between April and May WTI futures, $2.38.

It is pretty clear to me that the futures spreads are starting to signal some serious regional imbalances in supply and refining capacity...

Great discussion, thanks Bunyonhead for the insights.

Leanan, thank you for a couple of pro-ethanol links. You are unbiased after all, at least today. Looks like Europe/UK are succumbing to the devil's brew just like Brazil and the U.S..

Personally, I don't care whether an article is "pro-ethanol" or "anti-ethanol". Or, for that matter, pro- or ant- anything! I'm only interested in the facts, the truth. Objectivity trumps advocacy every time, for those who can see it.
The whole concept of "fair and balanced" is, scientifically, bullshit. The earth is round, and those who still maintain that the earth is flat don't deserve an equal hearing.

If you are interested in facts, then you should care if an article is pro or anti ethanol. It means they chose only certain facts to support their argument. What am I missing here?

Leanan usually posts the articles that have a negative argument to make when covering ethanol. That was Practical's point.

The facts are fairly anti-ethanol. An unbiased choice of articles on ethanol would be anti.

The Raymond James piece is succinct and to the point. Everyone here should note the 3rd question:

3. What about “food vs. fuel?” if anything, farmers in other countries should have a better opportunity to compete against U.S. corn.

Which is EXACTLY what I've been saying since day 1.

Now let’s take a listen to NPR's Steve Inskeep's interview with Rob Rouse from Shell.

The interview was short, however, Rob does a pretty good job outlining Shell's position. He mentions that Shell follows market forces and that the market wants biofuels, ergo it makes sense for Shell to be a participant in the biofuel sector.

For those of you who aren't aware, Shell has been a big partner with Canada's Iogen www.iogen.ca

When Steve brings up the food vs. fuel question, however, Rob of course cannot assert that Mexican tortilla prices have doubled due to US ethanol production but he most certainly leaves listeners with the IMPRESSION that this is so. One can hardly blame Rob though, as this meme has oft been repeated by the MSM.

As for global warming, Rob maintains that the anthropogenic phenomena is a done deal as far as Shell is concerned, hence, one ‘might’ assume that Shell's budget would reflect a commitment to mankind's transition away from one of the route causes i.e. petrol usage.

Would anyone care to guess as to the discrepancy between Shell’s budget for biofuel production versus that which is slated for tar sands?

Don’t think for a second that I’m smearing the Majors. My thoughts on our 3rd biofuel piece of the day re: BP is forthcoming.

I wonder why Leanan bothers to promote such hit pieces on TOD?

Instead he should spend his time fixing all the bugs in his forum server, such as the inability to browse on tags.

Even the comment form I am typing in is broken. Says a lot when you criticize a $0.5G donation to academia but you cant even keep your own nose clean.

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....

....“We are in very serious talks (about nuclear power),” he said. “We have to consider alternatives with the cost of fuel and gas.” Any outages at power plants could cause a repeat of the power outs this summer that hit the country last year, he said.(emphasis added)

Yeah, I saw this one too...HUH? I guess it is fair to say that the Burgan field doesn't produce much NG, or it is as they suggest Westexas' net export-internal consumption nightmare rearing its ugly ugly head.

Yikes. My vote from the news lately is that Peak Energy is here, now! Having trouble sleeping this last week.

It's all about population!

Yeah ! I’m with you on the sleeping. Since SS essay on SA and the daily comments

same here, right after the SA post.

Hi PeakTO,

re: "Having trouble sleeping this last week."

I know what you mean. Still, I find it oddly comforting to login and see WT and RR still "discussing". (You know?) Home Sweet TOD Home. (or something.)

It's not just Kuwait who is worried about future NG availability.. so is Russia:


MOSCOW, March 16 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian government will review its energy strategy in April to increase the share of nuclear power, hydroelectric and coal industries in power generation, the first deputy prime minister said Friday.

Russia is likely to experience an energy deficit in the future if it continues to rely on thermal power generation mainly based on non-renewable reserves of natural gas.


Sergei Kiriyenko, head of Rosatom, said Friday that Russia is planning to put in service three power reactors annually starting 2016, and in 2018-20 this number could increase to four.

So it sounds as if the Russians are planning that about 10 years out they will be needing the nuclear power plants to replace the NG ones.

1/ An 18 year bet is useless, but I'll still bet Alberta will be nowhere near 4.65 million barrels of bitumen bu 2025. Not even if they bring in those Mexicans.

2/ The conventional natural gas numbers look wild: a drop of only some 25% by 2025, while EIA numbers say there's less than 8 years left.

Alberta says oil sands output to quadruple by 2025

Province has only 'scratched the surface'

Alberta's production of heavy crude, or bitumen, from its oil sands reserves will more than quadruple by 2025, according to new figures from the province's energy regulator.

Alberta will produce 1.7 billion barrels of bitumen in 2025, or 4.65 million barrels of crude a day, well up from current output of just over one million barrels a day, said Neil McCrank, chairman of the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board.

"We have merely scratched the surface of Alberta's oil sands reserves. Alberta truly has a world-class resource," he said.

In addition to the oil sands figures, Mr. McCrank also gave forecasts for Alberta's conventional oil and gas production in 2025, which are both expected to fall as the province's basin matures.

Conventional oil output is expected to drop from 570,000 barrels a day in 2005 to 219,000 barrels a day in 2025, although technological improvements, such as carbon dioxide sequestration, could cushion the scale of that decline, he said.

Alberta's natural gas output is set to drop from 4.8 trillion cubic feet of gas a year in 2005 to 4.2 trillion cubic feet in 2025, or from 13.1 billion cubic feet of gas a day to 11.5 billion cubic feet a day. About 20 per cent of production in 2025 will be from coal-bed methane, as opposed to 2 per cent today, Mr. McCrank said.


I had to study this one for a while to get your meaning, but I think I have it. You are inferring the unity that exists within zero point energy with respect to solving the current energy crisis.? Yes?

WSJ, Mar 16, C1, "As Costs Climb in Food Chain, Consumers Must Pay". The climbing costs are attributed to diverting corn to ethanol production.

Maybe someone can supply a link?

Can anyone show me first where to get the KSA monthly production numbers...two where to get historical price/barrel each month and three how to create a log chart using these numberes? I want to learn how to create my own and I wanted to overlay rig count too, but that's pushing it. Any help would be appreciated and if you want you can e mail me at the finance dude at gmail dot com.

Der Spiegel interview with climatologist Hans Von Storch:

We Have to Take Away People’s Fear of Climate Change

DER SPIEGEL: Aren’t climate researchers helping fuel a state of panic with their generally bleak warnings?

Hans Von Storch: Unfortunately many scientists see themselves too much as priests whose job it is to preach moralistic sermons to people. This is another legacy of the 1968 generation, which I happen to belong to myself. In fact, it would be better if we just presented the facts and scenarios dispassionately—and then society can decide for itself what it wants to do to influence climate change.

Any road to a low carbon future is better than no road to a low carbon future.

It has been discussed that if there was widespread acknowledgement of peak oil then panic would ensue followed by a dash for resources followed by war!

So what better way to introduce a low carbon future than through a smokescreen.

I am under no illusion that the world's combined intelligence and governments don't believe in peak oil. Rather I know then know it is imminent but do not want to create panic. So bring out the climate change priests to the beat of big brothers drum.


I posted and 10 seconds later I am anticipating the screams of "climate change is real, NOT a smokescreen"

Yes, climate change is real and even the most sceptical are coming round to the idea that is augmented by mans pumping of co2 into Gaia, but that does not mean that it cannot also be used as a smokescreen.


The scientists (like Jared Diamond) are beginning to realize that society is too irrational to be guaranteed to save itself. If a giant asteroid were headed towards Earth, scientists of every ideological stripe would be working on a gadget to stop it, confident that the taxpayers would be willing to fund at least one good attempt. But all they have against human behavior is sermons, just like the rest of us.

Anybody noticing the wholesale gasoline futures today? Shortly after the NY open they were up over a nickel. I checked about a half-hour ago and they were DOWN .56. Took a shower, checked again and "now" they're UP around 2.50 cents. I think the traders have gotten into that Woodstock brown acid again...

Hello TODers,

I always find it fascinating, yet horrifying when I find instances of Overshoot playing itself out. Consider India or google it yourself:


Wouldn't it be easier in the long run to just teach Malthusian Math, Bartlett's Exponential Growth, and Peakoil Outreach instead of letting the infrastructure environment, flora & fauna environment, and human violence levels just go to Hell? Why is it so hard to convince couples to have zero, one, or maximum two offspring? Mathusian Math has been known for 200 years-- How come world leaders refuse to make this the basis of any formal education until everyone truly understands the concepts and ramifications?

I continually ponder this problem for endless hours-- to my way of thinking it should be no big deal to be smarter than yeast, but it sometimes seems that a single box of rocks [who don't reproduce and seem quite content to just bask in the sun] contains more pure IQ than the sum of humanity.

The only thing is, must we have our numbers controlled in the same way that all other species have them controlled? We have something others don't; we have brains. We can foresee. We can plan. We can see solutions that are humane. And there is a solution that is humane, and that is to lower the birth rate.

No species in the history of the Earth has ever voluntarily lowered it's birth rate in order to control it's population, because they didn't know what birth rate was, how to control it, that there was a population problem. We're the only species in the history of the Earth.

There is no need to decide whether to stop the population increase or not. There is no need to decide whether the population will be lowered or not. It will, it will!

The only thing mankind has to decide is whether to let it be done in the old inhumane method that nature has always used, or to invent a new humane method of our own. That is the only choice that faces us; whether to lower the population catastrophically by a raised death rate, or to lower it humanely by a lowered birth rate. And we all make the choice. And I have a suspicion that we won't make the right choice, which is the tragedy of humanity right now.
Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

No Bob, we are not smarter than yeast--except for a few posters on TOD.

Hello Ckaupp,

Thxs for responding. Full disclosure: I am 51, biologically childless, but have a now-grown adult stepson that I would give my life for. I remember reading about overpopulation concerns back in my teen years-- it was a no-brainer rock-solid decision for me not to make it worse-- yet billions cannot reach the same conclusion with a little education? Now we are supposedly headed to 9 billion by 2050? How stupid can we and our leaders be? Isn't 6.5 billion of Overshoot enough already? I am fully aware of Jay Hanson's Thermo/Gene Collision-- I wish I could know how many leaders around the globe are aware of it. Same with Bartlett and Malthus awareness--what is their excuse for not taking humane action?

Befuddled. As usual.

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

Hi Bob,

I am 57 (oh no, 58 in 2.5 weeks---60 is much too close), childless by choice, and one of those who became concerned many years ago too. The oil crisis of 73/74 will never leave my conscious mind. I remember the even/odd gasoline purchase days, long lines that wrapped around the city streets, and stations being out of gas after you waited for an hour. I even moved to within a few blocks of my place of employment to get rid of my commute. The apartment was more expensive, but I could walk to work and not worry about the gas lines. I even gave away my furniture so I wouldn't have to rent and fuel a truck to move it.

I always ask people if the world their children will inherit ever entered their mind during the "planning" stage (or lack thereof). The ALMOST universal answer is "no." Some were concerned, but felt that it was so far in the future as to either not matter or the problems would be solved by then.

Back in your teen years, I was just coming of age and I recall that report from the Club of Rome that said we were going to have a huge problem with overpopulation if current trends kept up. Someone recently reviewed that report and came to the conclusion that their estimates were fairly close (and no, I don't remember who did the review).

I am smarter than yeast. Any yeast I can catch goes into my beer.

Ah, but who is using whom?

- sgage (a long time home-brewer)

Oh no! - I've been had!

Humans are definitely smarter than yeast. But it's a moot point. Our actions are not guided by our intelligence.

Proof: the mess you see when you look around you is the product of actions driven by a manifold of reptillian brains. It makes no sense, none whatsoever, for intelligent brains to produce an environment they cannot survive in. That's the kind of thing yeast do.

Our biggest problem is the failure to realize what drives us, the perpetuation of the myth that logical thought makes us do what we do.

Our brains have several distinct parts, each developed long after the other. The trick is that the one that developed first, the most primitive, is the first to act/react in any given situation. The difference lies in fractions of seconds, but that's enough time to do a lot of harm.

As it stands, our intelligence merely serves to let us justify whatever it is our primitive drives make us do.

And that makes man a very dangerous animal. No yeast or reptile will torture its own species, let alone another. But we are "smart" enough to provide ourselves with reasons to do it, after the fact.

Are people smarter than yeast? Take the idiot test here:


It's fun.

Hello HeIsSoFly,

Thxs for responding. Yep, I am familiar with the concepts in your post [but always good for newbies to learn]. =)

For me, the logic of Malthus was irrefutable, but I think it was mostly an emotional, reptilian decision for me. I was thinking that I didn't want my head split open like a ripe melon like those Indian policeman in my original post, or one of a million other ways to die by human violence. Neither did I want to make it easier for the Grim Reaper to kill me by dehydration, starvation, pestilence, and so on.

I just thought that if everyone looked ahead, they would quickly come to the same conclusion. All our leaders had to do, from parents on up to the various Presidents and Prime Ministers, was to always discuss overpopulation problems. Still befuddled.

Yet many couples around the world still have very large families and wonder why they are so poor, and why their lives are so brutal and short. They are befuddled worse than me.

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

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

Yes Bob. I see that you are so befuddled now that you are asking twice if we are smarter than yeast. :-)

Hi Bob,

Thanks for your questions. Okay, since it's late...I'll take a chance to hypothesize an answer...

re: "Why is it so hard to convince couples to have zero, one, or maximum two offspring?"

Let me just throw this out: Especially if we take the world as a whole, (although any large urban high school in the US might also illustrate my point)...there's a very real sense in which it's not "couples" who make the decision. I don't know how to say this...esp. complete w. links and all on this uncooperative computer I'm using...but...for many women (and girls...i.e., women under say 18...16...or even 14...the age of consent is ever downward...anyway)...the "decision-making" (quote/unquote) is simply not an "even split".

There is tremendous one-sided pressure (that would be from male to female).... (Pause)... Not so much on the "decision" to *have* a child, but rather, on the XXX (words fail me), which pre-date the birth of said child.

Tremendous pressure. Witness stats (I promise I'll look them up tomorrow, if need be) on the following:
1) Sexual abuse of children under the age of - oh, say - 14. Mostly by males on both females and males (mostly females). On a worldwide basis. (BTW, such abuse, left untreated, as most is, greatly interferes with the development of self-protection skills and self-esteem in the victims.)
2) Prostitution, or, as is something of a PC term, "sex work". This would imply a degree of one-sidedness. Presumably if one had the opportunity/education to earn equivalent money doing something else, one would do so.
3) What is called "sex" tourism. (Predominately male tourists.)
4) etc. (Let's see...in the etc. would go stats on rape, spousal abuse ...again, predominately male on female; cultural custom, which often places a young female pretty much at the mercy of an older male; so called "sex trafficking", which is really "exploitative trafficking", etc.). Anyway, I'm a little afraid of starting a discussion that I actually don't want to have because it's difficult to talk about these things without some groundrules. (I'm hoping for the civility of the discourse to remain here at TOD!)

My point is to perhaps illustrate a "reason", and the connection between the education and legal rights of women, (and children) and the subsequent decline in birth rate, as has been mentioned in previous discussions.

(Brave, aren't I?)

Here is a different view. I think that it is as much women's natural desires in the context of with the societies and conditions that they live in as it is the sexual nature of men that result in larger numbers of babies being produced by certain women. It seems to me to be a natural desire of most young women to have at least one baby; if that was not the case why do we always read about childless career women in their late 30's fretting about their "biological clock"?. I do think this desire does come more to the forefront where life and career opportunities are less.

Healthy, normal men on the other hand everywhere just naturally desire sex with attractive, shapely women, or else suppress their desires or transmute them into other activities (business activities and careers), if they feel they need to be faithful to their wives - but they don't necessarily or even usually want to know about or deal with the result of their liasons. Now I'm not an expert on this stuff and maybe my viewpoint is skewed, but in any case I don't accept your views at all based on what I see and experience.

BTW my view is affected by spending the past 6 months in Lima, Peru. All of Peru is incidentally a lovers paradise compared to the USA, a lot of kissing and hugging and holding hands (and of course more in private) is evident everywhere you go. Lots of them are unfaithful couples, but it takes two to tango. In any case these relationships usually have nothing at all to do with males putting pressure on females - in my experience here, both dating and observing, the women want love, passion and sex as much as the men do. I'm returning to the states in 2 weeks, but I've enjoyed myself here!

Incidentally there is also clearly more prostitution here than in the USA, but the practice seems to be much more accepted by society. My basic view on the "worlds oldest profession" is that its existence is simply a reality that based on human nature will always exist in civilized monetary societies except when repressed. Incidentally, one thing I wish for our suffering troops in Iraq living months on end in hell without female companionship, is that they would at least be allowed access to these kind of women on occasion - for all their suffering it's the least they deserve.

Squeeze: This male/female trip will always be a compromise. As an example, I have yet to meet a single man (if he is honest and not afraid that his wife/girlfriend is listening) that does not have Hugh Hefner on a pedestal. The guy is 81 and if you had to pick one guy that has lived the life that most North American men would have liked to have lived, IMHO it would be Hugh Hefner. OTOH, every woman in NA thinks Hugh is a piece of slime (except the women he knows). So there you have it. Where you stand on these issues depends on where you sit.

Hi Squeeze,

And anyone else who read this!

My first "groundrule" for discussions of this topic is - no personal experience allowed! Only references! (Just kidding.) Anyway, that's why I just floated it. It's too tough to talk about without ground rules.

Here's one reference: http://www.intersectworldwide.org/rape.html

re: "...it is as much women's natural desires..."

Of course, women have natural desires, as do men.

I perhaps used the wrong word, if I used the word "pressure".

What I'm trying to say is, there is a lot of violence of different forms directed against women, by men. There is also coercion. Much of this violence is institutionalized and much of the coercion is, as well. Much of this violence begins at an early age, which also enters into the picture.

These facts, which we can document, do affect the birth rate. The relationship is complicated, however, my hypothesis here is that it does exist.

I was just trying to posit a hypothesis to Bob, when he says he's "befuddled". I'm trying to illustrate for him a possible link between the *"legal rights"* of women, and the subsequent lowering of birth rate when these legal rights exist and/or come into being.

RE: Confronting BP. Biofuels and the Green Resistance.

The crux of the issue examined in Mr. Schaefer's article, stems from Beyond Petroleum’s US$500MM offer to UC Berkeley for the creation of a biofuel research & development center. An incredible sum, however, said offer somehow portends to jeopardize the integrity of the institution -in this case Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (“LBL”)- by placing academia in bed with the ‘evil’ oil industry.

The title, if not the very first sentence of the article, should prove ample warning to readers as to where this piece is headed for we are asked to envision Americans burning cane fields in Brazil.

“For example, prices for corn and corn products (from which ethanol can be made) have already spiked in the US and other countries, making food all the more expensive for those who already struggle to afford it.”

- Ahh… the Mexican tortilla straw man. No anti-biofuel piece is complete without it.

“In Indonesia, ancient forests are being burned up to make room for oil-palm biofuel.”

- True. The more we learn about biofuels, however, the more we realize just how bad palm oil is, the more steps we take to ban biofuels derived from palm oil - a policy that is currently underway in the EU.

“They're already digging up the rainforests in Brazil to plant soybeans….”

- Another straw man. +90% of Brazilian soy is not planted for biofuel production.

“As demand for ethanol increases to be equal to current oil consumption, it is almost guarantees forests will be dug up in the Global South to plant more sugar cane…”

- This is but a scare tactic. 1% of Brazil’s arable land is dedicated to ethanol production while TODers would rightly point out, that ethanol production could never equal 50% of oil consumption let alone all of it.

“How then can ethanol be called carbon neutral when it will increase deforestation, when its promoters such as BP are notorious human rights violators… ”

- Ethanol produced from sugar cane is carbon neutral for a number a reasons namely a) sugar cane is a plant i.e. it absorbs the carbon released from etoh combustion and b) leftover cane bagasse is burned to produce electricity that would otherwise be sourced from fossil fuels.

*Note the human rights dig - alluding to the supposition that ethanol can’t possibly be carbon neutral if promoted by ‘human rights violators’?!?

“Not a word here about the need to decrease consumption. Not a word about the consequences on farmers or the poor.”

- If someone here could outline why the onus on decreasing consumption should fall on the shoulders of BP in a deal where they offer to fund research for a renewable alternate to gasoline… feel free. Furthermore, how Mr. Schaefer can allege that biofuels are bad for farmers and the poor and yet at the same time criticize research into alternative biofuel production paths that would take us away from food-chain feedstocks (with false straw men assertions no less)… is beyond me.

You can’t have it both ways Mr. Schaefer.

You can’t deride an oil company like BP for its past ways AND demonize it in its attempt to change. Industrial society will simply not make the transition away from petroleum without the Majors on board.

I wonder why Leanan bothers to promote such hit pieces on TOD?

Instead he should spend his time fixing all the bugs in his forum server, such as the inability to browse on tags.

And the snail like speed of the forum server.

Even the comment form I am typing in is broken. Says a lot when you criticize a $0.5G donation to academia but you cant even keep your own nose clean.

(copy, originally I posted to the wrong place)

Hello any Alaskan TODers,

Free land if you build a small survival house!


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

Has anyone noticed that HO vs RB (NYMEX) thats Heating Oil(diesel?) vs Regular Unleaded has reversed ie HO was ~10~30 cents more than regular for years...now its the opposite. Been searching for comparison charts but so far no luck. Does this mean retail diesel will go below gasoline again?

Heating oil is not diesel. Demand for heating oil has been depressed by the mild winter (world).

Is anyone able to comment on the apparent discrepancy between the OPEC Daily Production Chart in the Rigzone story leading today's Drumbeat and the EIA OPEC report regarding the former's indication of a drop in quota output limit on January 1, 2006?

Here is the text from the EIA:

June 15, 2005: OPEC held its 136th meeting to review oil markets in Vienna, Austria, and decided to increase its production quota to 28 million barrels per day effective July 1. OPEC authorized an additional 500,000 barrels per day increase in its quotas "should oil prices remain at current levels or continue to rise further." OPEC also decided to replace its previous OPEC reference basket of seven crude oils with a new one consisting of eleven crude streams, effective June 16.
September 19, 2005: OPEC held its 137th meeting to review oil markets in Vienna, Austria, and agreed to make available to the market all of the spare capacity in member countries (estimated at 2 million barrels per day by OPEC), should it be called for, for a period of three months, starting October 1, 2005.
December 12, 2005: OPEC held its 138th meeting to review oil markets in Kuwait, leaving OPEC output quotas unchanged.
January 31 , 2006: OPEC held its 139th meeting to review oil markets in Vienna, Austria, leaving OPEC output quotas unchanged.
March 8, 2006: OPEC held its 140th meeting to review oil markets in Vienna, Austria, leaving OPEC output quotas unchanged.
June 1, 2006: OPEC held its 141st meeting to review oil markets in Caracas, Venezuela, leaving OPEC output quotas unchanged.

Classic commentary by Bill Bonner on the USA "financial" economy http://www.financialsense.com/editorials/daily/2007/0316c.html