DrumBeat: March 21, 2007

U.S. Attack Against Iran Would Push Oil Above $100, Yamani Says

Crude oil would soar above $100 a barrel in the event of a U.S.-led attack against Iran, Sheikh Ahmad Zaki Yamani, the former Saudi oil minister, said today.

Yamani gave no prediction as to the likelihood of a conflict with Iran. He told a conference in London that Saudi Arabia doesn't want to see oil slip below $40 a barrel and that OPEC favors crude closer to $60.

Bodman: 'Not Uncomfortable' with OPEC Output Plan

U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said Tuesday he's not uncomfortable with a plan by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to maintain crude oil supplies at current levels until September.

Pakistan port opens new possibilities

Energy-hungry China is eyeing Central Asia's oil and gas reserves and is increasingly looking to Pakistan for oil and gas supplies. Beijing plans to run at least five oil and gas pipelines to Gwadar from the Central Asian republics and wants to turn the facility into a transit terminal for Iranian and African crude-oil imports.

Safe Climate Act Best Chance to Avert Dangerous Climate Change, Scientists Say

More than 120 House members today will reintroduce the Safe Climate Act, which offers the best opportunity to protect future generations from the worst effects of global warming, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). The bipartisan bill, spearheaded by Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), calls for an 80 percent reduction of global warming pollution from 1990 levels by 2050, a cut that UCS scientists say is necessary to avoid the worst consequences of climate change.

ConocoPhillips Tries to Buy Into 'Big Oil U' in Greenwash Campaign

ConocoPhillips, with a $6 million gift to the University of Oklahoma's School of Geology and Geophysics, is the latest oil giant seeking to buy respectability by capitalizing on the name of a well-known university, the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) said today.

A deal at Stanford University funded by ExxonMobil, and another proposed by BP at the University of California Berkeley are already facing criticism as examples of "Big Oil U".

Randy Udall: Comments to the National Petroleum Council

The NPC has a wonderful opportunity to reframe the discussion around peak oil. After thoroughly studying the evidence, I hope that you conclude, as many of us have, that peak oil is near. If that is your conclusion, I urge you to communicate that finding in succinct, sober language. It's time to speak truth to power. Likewise, if you conclude that peak oil is a chimera, and those of us that were on the last call are grievously mistaken, chronic pessimists, nervous Nellies, please say that, loud and clear.

U.S. Interior to Work with Lawmakers on Extending Gulf Leases

Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne endorsed efforts today by two key senators to extend Gulf of Mexico oil-and-gas leases by three years in an attempt to either recoup lost royalties or institute price thresholds on leases from the late 1990s.

Venezuela to Open Opegasur to Middle East, Asia

Venezuela will invite member countries in the gas-exporting countries' forum (GECF) to enter Opegasur, the OPEC-style organization for natural gas producers the South American country is promoting.

Palm oil it is for S. Korea's Enertec

"We're sticking to our plan to use palm oil as our feedstock," Enertec managing director Mckin Lee Jin said.

"We find palm biodiesel the only green fuel that can really be considered sustainable.

Gore takes his warming warnings to Congress

Former Vice President Al Gore brings his push for government action on global warming to Capitol Hill on Wednesday, testifying in both the House and Senate.

Science turns sun, surf into green energy

A REVOLUTIONARY technology that uses sunlight and sea water to produce an unlimited supply of clean, hydrogen fuel could be developed within a decade, Sydney researchers say.

Leigh Sheppard, of the University of NSW, estimated that 1.6 million of the solar devices, installed on rooftops, would be able to produce enough hydrogen gas to supply Australia's entire energy needs. While other energy options under discussion, such as nuclear power, produce harmful wastes, the only by-products of this solar hydrogen technology would be oxygen and fresh water, Dr Sheppard said.

£25 fridge gadget that could slash greenhouse emissions

It is made of wax, is barely three inches across and comes in any colour you like, as long as it's black. And it could save more greenhouse gas emissions than taxes on gas guzzling cars, low energy light bulbs and wind turbines on houses combined. It is the e-cube, and it is coming soon to a fridge near you.

More Efficient Wind Turbine Blade Designed

A new wind turbine blade design that researchers at Sandia National Laboratories developed in partnership with Knight & Carver (K&C) of San Diego promises to be more efficient than current designs. It should significantly reduce the cost-of-energy (COE) of wind turbines at low-wind-speed sites.

Asian fuel oil volatile on low grades, tight storage

Poorer quality fuel oil flowing into this region and limited storage space are expected to spark wild price swings in Asia this year and could lead to sudden supply disruptions.

The problem will last until additional tank capacity is available by the end of the year, offering traders more space to blend cargoes that do not meet industry specifications into retail-grade quality, industry sources said.

Colorado: Trouble down the pipe has stations on empty

Signs saying “Sorry, Out of Fuel” greeted motorists at some Diamond Shamrock gas stations Tuesday, a repercussion of a Feb. 16 explosion and fire at a Texas refinery that supplies the Pikes Peak region.

Canada Moves to Phase Out Tax Break for Tar Sands Producers

Canada announced intentions yesterday to phase out the tax break for oil sands producers that allows them to write off investment costs, setting a final deadline of 2015 for the changes.

The Little Cartel That Could?

Despite some obvious complications, it appears that a “gas OPEC” will formed in a matter of weeks. Yet the effect of a natural gas cartel doesn’t pose any short term threat, and it raises the question, “Why bother?”

PEMEX Starts Operating in Panama

Mexican Oil (PEMEX) began operating in Panama to distribute and supply oil to the ships passing across the Panama canal, official sources reported on Tuesday.

Government allocates land for refinery in eastern Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has allocated land to two companies that plan to build a 400,000 barrel-a-day refinery in the eastern port city of Jubail, the official Saudi Press Agency reported Tuesday.

China 'to become world's largest economy by 2038'

A host of factors could constrain China's ability to become a superpower in the future, including limited supplies of energy and raw materials, questions over its innovation capability, inequality and corruption, risks to social stability and the environment and its choice of political system.

Ducks Unlimited fights for land reserves

The fear is that during the current energy crisis, farmers will be urged to grow crops to be converted into biofuels, at the same time driving up land prices and forcing farmers to weigh the dollar amount offered for a CRP vs. the money that could be made if they jumped into the biofuel pool.

Power prices put utilities in the hot seat

Spurred by skyrocketing power bills, lawmakers in at least six states are considering reining in electric utilities that were freed from regulation in the late 1990s.

Not Your Mother's Solar Power Anymore

Slowly (often far too slowly for our patience), costs continued to decrease, until we at last trumpeted the revolutionary $5 per watt panel in 1994.

Regrettably, prices have not fallen appreciably since then, and as a result the domestic solar electric industry is experiencing a midlife crisis as it approaches its 50th birthday. Even manufacturing gadflies will admit that PV is having a tough time finding a boom market in North America, primarily because the government is not getting involved.

Ghana - The Power Crisis: a Real Mess

Subsequent to what appeared to be a temporary power rationing to ease pressure off the sources of electricity supplies to meet the country's energy requirements, Ghanaians have now come face to face with what obviously is a national energy crisis.

Moscow won’t support “excessive” Iran sanctions

Russia will not support “excessive” sanctions against its economic partner Iran, the foreign minister said on Wednesday, as the UN Security Council considered imposing harsher measures intended to push Teheran to freeze its nuclear program.

Sergey Lavrov also denied allegations that Moscow has told Iran it would not deliver nuclear fuel for the Russian-built Bushehr nuclear plant unless Teheran complies with the United Nations’ demands.

Ethanol isn't worth getting pumped up about, but oil shale might be

There are no easy answers, but we can develop new sources of power. First, though, we need to move past one attempted solution that simply isn't working: ethanol.

Bush appointees 'watered down greenhouse science'

The Bush administration ran a systematic campaign to play down the dangers of climate change, demanding hundreds of politically motivated changes to scientific reports and muzzling a pre-eminent expert on global warming, Congress was told yesterday.

NYMEX to offer clean energy futures

The weighted indexes will incorporate biomass, wind and solar companies as well as firms in energy efficiency and environmental controls.

Which green car is best? - Automakers using a range of technologies to improve fuel economy

Canada auto emissions incentives seen ineffective

A Canadian government plan to offer rebates for fuel-efficient vehicles and heavily tax gas-guzzlers will do little to change consumer buying habits and curb emissions, industry observers and environment groups said on Tuesday.

Bush, Edwards, activists focus on global warming

Environmentalists rallied on Capitol Hill, President George W. Bush pushed fuel economy and White House hopeful John Edwards unveiled a new energy plan on Tuesday, focusing on global warming a day before Al Gore was to testify to Congress on the hot political topic.

Utility chiefs wary of emission limits

Top executives of some of the country's largest electric utilities gave guarded support Tuesday — or at least said they were not opposed — to mandatory carbon emission limits to deal with global warming.

Still, the executives expressed concern over the potential for huge electricity cost increases, depending on how such emission limits are imposed.

Bush seeks to scrap current ethanol standard

The Bush administration has proposed scrapping the current U.S. renewable fuels standard that requires ethanol use to reach 6.8 billion gallons a year in 2010 in favor of a wider alternative fuels requirement that aims to cut America's foreign oil dependence.

Increasing use of biodiesel could fuel canola explosion

Field crop growers looking for a viable alternative to wheat, corn and barley may soon find their answer in canola.

Syncrude: Ottawa could break oil sands' back

Canada's government needs to be wary of putting too many demands on Alberta's oil sands for fear of derailing the runaway success enjoyed over the past decade, one of the sector's most senior executives says.

Cyprus, oil and the West

The hasty EU membership of the Greek Cypriot state and the continued deadlock in Cyprus peace talks are all related to the existing energy potential in the region.

EU trying to solve renewable-energy 'headache'

Officials said that the Commission was still unsure about how it will share the burden among member states, after EU leaders agreed earlier in March to have 20% of their overall energy needs covered by renewables by 2020.

Despite Climate Concerns, Germany Plans Coal Power Plants

European Union states agreed earlier this month on a binding 20 percent cut in CO2 emissions by 2020. Yet over 20 coal-fired power plants -- major producers of greenhouse gases -- are planned for Germany.

IEA slams gas OPEC proposal

Creating a cartel of gas exporting countries would hurt producers and consumers alike, the head of the International Energy Agency said on Tuesday.

BP refinery probe cites poor OSHA oversight

The U.S. agency responsible for worker safety failed to inspect plants with enough care and frequency to prevent an accident like the 2005 explosion at BP’s Texas City refinery that killed 15 people and injured 170, a government report said Tuesday.

The final report on the nation’s worst industrial accident since 1990 also blamed BP for cost cutting that left the plant vulnerable to catastrophe.

Going beyond petroleum proved to be a fatal error

Why did Britain’s biggest industrial enterprise treat a core business unit with such indifference, dare one say contempt? Did they open the door too wide to antiindustrial green zealots or was it the constant harping of City and media scribblers that cash invested is cash wasted?

The CSB report is a sad end to the Browne era. It will have done some good if it reasserts the importance of massive and dangerous industrial processes in keeping us lit, warm and comfortable.

Some people seem to think that the world can be powered by windmills and controlled by clicking a mouse.

It’s not true.

Saudi Production laid bare


For those who were involved in the Saudi debate 2 days ago I’ve now posted this chart along with several others at the foot of the thread. I managed to screw up my HTML code archive and lost the ability to post charts yesterday. I’d also add that the site started to run very slow on Monday – so apologies to those who were wanting a response but didn’t get one – I assure you I was not hiding☺

Those with heart disorders had best take some blood pressure pills before following this link.

Euan, in your post you turned down Stuart's $2000 bet, but you did not make a counteroffer. Why not? It's clear that you and Stuart have a fundamental disagreement on Saudi Arabian oil supply, so why not stand up and be counted and put some real money on the line? If you and Stuart can't agree on a bet that both of you would accept, then perhaps your positions overlap so much that the outcome of such a bet is not a good financial proposition?

As Robert pointed out when he offered a $1000 bet on oil prices a few months ago, people tend to behave differently when real money is on the line. Their arguments weaken as they start negotiating the terms of the bet. They want a sure thing, so the event they end up betting on is often far afield from their original claims. This is when everyone else finds out what they truly believe.

Also he is restarting a post where everyone pointed out he only used data up to 2005. Like proving the US production didn't peak by only using data up to 1969.

Saudi Arabia’s Rapidly Thinning Oil Columns and Smart Well Installations

From Saudi Aramco’s press kit page 11

”Technological Advances

Smart Wells and Intelligent Fields:
Smart well systems and down-hole sensors are part of a larger strategy to develop “intelligent fields,” an approach that combines real-time monitoring and timely reactions to changing well and reservoir conditions to optimize production and reservoir management. Overall, the company completed 24 smart well installations in 2005 (versus two the year before), and 55 maximum reservoir contact (MRC) wells, more than double the year before.”

To perform the above they needed one of these, a

”Geosteering Operations Center (GOC):
To further exploit the technological gains of horizontal, multi-lateral and MRC wells, Saudi Aramco opened the Geosteering Operations Center (GOC), where geologists and engineers remotely guide drilling activities in real time, around the clock, helping ensure that every well is optimally situated.”

In 2004, Saudi Aramco completed two smart well installations. In 2005, they completed 24 – that’s a twelve fold increase in one year! The world’s first smart well installation was in 1997 for SAGA Petroleum in the Snorre Field, Norway.

Why do we need smart wells?

According to Martin Madsen, Production Engineer Visund, Statoil,

”– Compensate for different reservoir properties
•Pressure, PI etc
– Balance inflow
– Close / choke back zones with high GOR or WC
– Save intervention (time and money)
– Take into account the unexpected”

Point three above is important as zones with gas or water breakthrough can be closed or choked back using “above ground” controls. In other words, in these zones the column of oil is too thin to extract. (GOR – gas oil ratio; WC – water cut)

Smart well studies by Baker Hughes
state that the use of smart wells can increase ultimate recovery by 53%. The main reason for this is the improved ”management of undesirable fluids”.” (The undesirable fluid is water.)

On an annual basis, from 2004 to 2005, Saudi Aramco has a twelve fold increase in smart well installation completions from 2 to 24; and a two fold increase in MRC well completions to 55. (would be nice to have 2006 data – Haradh Increment III was completed in early 2006 with 32 intelligent MRC wells – intelligent=smart. I don’t know if these 32 wells are partly counted in 2005 data)

The huge increase in smart well installations and MRC well completions from 2004 to 2005 strongly indicate that Saudi Arabia is now extracting its last remaining oil reserves – difficult to extract oil from their rapidly thinning oil columns. Saudi Arabia's oil production rate may already have passed its peak.

For more information about smart wells - this website is good.
Welldynamics have installed 228 smart well up to October 2, 2006. They state that this is more than 50% of the world's smart wells so it could be assumed that there are about 400 to 450 smart wells worldwide.

This is a link to Shell's snake well technology, (I think a type of smart well as it uses smart technology). The video on the right is worth playing. It states that without this technology the oil was previously inaccessible.


Hello Ace,

Excellent info--thxs for digging this up! I am not sure if it is RR's or SS's keypost that will hit TOD first, but I recommend you repost this in that comment thread pronto. It is too good to be 'lost' in a late Drumbeat--needs more eyeballs in a new KSA discussion. Good job!

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

Thanks, I will repost!

The huge increase in smart well installations and MRC well completions from 2004 to 2005 strongly indicate that Saudi Arabia is now extracting its last remaining oil reserves

That's one interpretation. An alternative interpretation is that

the use of smart wells can increase ultimate recovery by 53%

i.e. the payback more than justifies the extra expense, and therefore the use of smart wells, in itself, tells us nothing at all about the amount of remaining oil.

Both interpretations can be true: Saudi Arabia is extracting its last remaining oil reserves and ultimate recovery may increase by 53%.

Smart MRC wells are required for thinning oil columns. These thin oil columns may be able to produce for a long period of time but it's difficult to reach oil. These fields need to produced very carefully.

Who knows, next the Saudi's will be using in situ steam flooding as they do in Alberta tar sands. The tar sands reserves are huge but converting them to production is tough.

Calorie, fair comment. Myself, New Account ± Robert did offer an alternative wager:


We're still waiting for Stuart to respond - but you're right, at this level it begins to smack of splitting hairs.

Othewrise on the investment front I am more or less out of the market - as much because my crystal ball is currently full of fog WRT unravelling the impact of recession upon demand and price for commodities.

Euan, I just posted a comment on the stacked Saudi production forecast chart near the bottom of yesterday's thread - it is a very scary chart IMHO. Is it really based on the Saudi's own forecasts of their production ? Is there a source reference for the data for that chart ?

It actually _shows_ a peak in Saudi production, and the very beginning of decline. The problem is that oil companies have historically had terrible track records at predicting the actual decline rates for their fields. So I have to assume that the actual decline rates will be higher than shown.

It is also the worst kind of "hockey stick" chart - it shows a sharp discontinuity in trend lines, which is a big red flag in any business I have been in. "Sure, we are flat-to-declining", but everything will be great 'tomorrow'".


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

Am I reading this right?

1. Productivity fell from 1980 to 1990, be it by above ground constraints (oil price, resting wells etc) ... except for a pumping spike (maybe associated with a show of strength, or may be in response to the Iran-Iraq war?)
Or maybe it fell because the North Sea and North Slope came on stream at full bore.
2. Oil flattens at 6 k per well thereafter.
3. A horizontal well campaign commences circa 1991 (BTW: Such a campaign would have required about 2-4 years of pre-drill planning, tech analysis, G and G work up and drilling services procurement, etc)
4. Campaign commences, Productivity remains flat at 6k per well.

All that drilling, no improvement...

I can only assume that when KSA decide to turn on the taps and utilise the new productivity due to the HD campaign which ramped in 1996, then the oil will flow like a cornucopean's wet dream :-)

Or maybe they were running to stand still even in 1990?

Nice graph Euan.

Jeez Euan, this is just dandy! Not to show my frustration. Your attempt to analyze SA spare capacity by getting a handle on well productivity was creative. This latest data though takes the contention from your article and stands it 180 degrees on its head. As a bonus, we find that with all the horizontal wells the peak will not likely be a gentle, pretty downslope, but much closer to cliff. Thanks for putting my mind at ease about PO ;)

Here's something else to smile about if it hasn't been caught earlier:

A decline in imports of natural gas from Canada may lead to higher U.S. prices this summer, said Peter Linder, an energy analyst with DeltaOne Capital Partners in Calgary.

``We're going to have the biggest decline in western Canadian production in the history of the industry,'' Linder said. ``There's going to be 400 to 600 million cubic feet a day less production from western Canada in 2007 versus 2006.''


best wishes all.


This latest data though takes the contention from your article and stands it 180 degrees on its head.

You might be surprised to know that I don't fully agree with you here. The watering out of a handful of wells near term will have negligible effect on Saudi production. Many of the horizontals drilled in the last 15 years will already have watered out - so that kind of activity is already in the data. Looking to the future, all these wells are spread among more than 10 producing fields of varying maturity - so there will be no cliff edge.

A very good perspective to keep for decline rates (from a pro-peak analyst):

Offshore oil peaks are easier to define because of the rapid and consistent way full field developments proceed. Studies show that output from offshore wells declines by an average of 15% per year. Individual fields decline less rapidly, at around 10% per year, because the best wells are worked-over and enhanced recovery projects briefly stem decline. By the same token, unless containing very few fields, sedimentary basins decline by around 5% per year as new, progressively smaller, fields are added.
Countries, regions and fields may decline by less still if they contain many basins and reservoirs. Decline rates are averages and can be affected by the discovery and development of new provinces, plays or reservoirs and by technological breakthroughs that lead to a one-off jump in output. They are also affected by commercial and political circumstances, such as output restriction by OPEC. Figure 2 is the model profile that sedimentary basins will adopt if unmodified by these effects.

(from pg 2 of 3 http://www.energyfiles.com/articlesfiles/Resource%20Depletion%20(Oct%202006).pdf

This is observed in the "slow" decline rate for the lower 48, e.g. I would expect Saudi Arabia's _net_ decline rate to be pretty slow, at the start...

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

Hi Euan,

re: "Looking to the future, all these wells are spread among more than 10 producing fields of varying maturity - so there will be no cliff edge."

Are you sure about this? (Not to question you. Just wondering...)

TOD has experienced an intense discussion of KSA's ability to increase or maintain production. Almost all of the discussion has focused on the existence / lack of existence of new prospects and the stage of depletion of the sweet spot in the Arab D formation in various parts of Ghawar.

The discussion has not gone into the existence of stacked pays at Ghawar and other developed fields. The U.S. has had something over a million and half wells drilled over the past century and a half. The target zones for most of those wells were not realistically expected to produce thousands of bbls per day for decades. It doesn't take thousands, hundreds, or even one hundred of bbls per day to justify drilling a 5000 foot onshore oil well in close proximity to other oil field infrastructure.

My question [which may relate more to the probability of a fat tail to the right of peak oil than to the peak itself]: Do stacked pays in existing fields represent a major part of the future of production for the KSA?


"Do stacked pays in existing fields represent a major part of the future of production for the KSA?"

Perhaps you might re-post this, as no one seems to have answered - ?

Ha! My (admitted limited) experience with new & infill horizontal wells is that they produce on the order of 20k bbls/d, at least initially, but also decline faster. So if they have to drill that many horizontal wells to keep their average well productivity level... all their older wells must really be going to shit, and I'd say a lot of the horizontal wells drilled prior to 2000. (Unless of course they were drilling the horizontals but not using them as Euan suggests... damn theres just too much we don't know!)

Question is how much longer can they keep exponentially increasing the number of horizontal wells drilled just to hold average well productivity steady? Not much longer I'd say, but again, given currently KSA as a whole has a miniscule number of drilling rigs compared to say the US, there is a lot of room for increases, so "not much longer" could be 5 years or so...

Minneapolis suburbs once spurned Light Rail, now "Not soon enough"


When Hennepin County began studying prospects for a southwest-Minneapolis light-rail link in 2003, residents in Eden Prairie and Minnetonka organized a "trails without rails" effort to stop the train from displacing the bicycle and pedestrian trail on the old railroad right-of-way the county owns.

Local business boosters didn't see any opportunities for development under the planned residential route, said Pat MulQueeny, president of the Eden Prairie Chamber of Commerce. "The initial reaction was, this doesn't make a whole lot of sense to us."

But the popularity of the Hiawatha Line, which opened between downtown Minneapolis and the Mall of America in 2004, changed attitudes, said county planner Katie Walker.

Now all four suburbs are asking why they have to wait for the completion of other projects, such as the Central Corridor light rail linking Minneapolis and St. Paul. That's scheduled to start in 2014.

"The southwest metro has been an economic engine for the region and we would like to see if there is a way to speed up the timeline for this to get done," MulQueeny said...

"I just think it can't happen fast enough," said St. Louis Park Mayor Jeff Jacobs.

Best Hopes,


There were announcements this month that plans for an extensive rail project in the Denver-metro area have hit a snag. The project will cost considerably more than originally expected and some proponents are calling for privatization to fill in the gap.

Originally the FasTracks program was presented to voters as a $4.7 billion project and now it is being reported that the expected cost overrun will be $2.5 billion. I am guessing that figure will climb much higher. About 9 months ago at a community FasTracks meeting someone in the audience (a local yokal version of Ralph Nader) relayed some startling information including citations of local transportation analysts who concluded that when all subsidies were factoring in the true cost to taxpayers would be at least $11 billion. Cost overruns will push this figure even higher.

I don't know if this situation is an isolated case for big rail projects, but it seems that in the rush to get these projects off the ground there is a lack of transparency that needs to be addressed so average citizens can understand how potential obstacles will impact their communities.

House Republican Leader John Boehner would have appointed Rep. Wayne Gilchrest to the bipartisan Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming -- but only if the Maryland Republican would say humans are not causing climate change, Gilchrest said.

Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, a research scientist from Maryland, and Michigan's Rep. Vern Ehlers, the first research physicist to serve in Congress, also made cases for a seat, but weren't appointed, he said.

"Roy Blunt said he didn't think there was enough evidence to suggest that humans are causing global warming," Gilchrest said. "Right there, holy cow, there's like 9,000 scientists to three on that one."

More at Global Warming panel makeup questioned

(ht armed kitty)

cfm in Gray, ME

A decades-old idea of using Titanium dioxide as a photocatalyst for splitting water.

And a local paper fluff piece.

What's the reputation of the University of NSW?

Is that a real U or one of those others?

The University of New South Wales is a major university in Australia and probably a fine institution. The researcher is probably intelligent as well, although I haven't studied his bio. He estimates years of work ahead.

The issue is the reporting. Since very little information is conveyed, the article is designed to make you feel good:

  1. Technology is at hand to solve our energy/climate problems
  2. Our local researchers are at the cutting edge of this effort.
  3. Have a nice day!

They have an exceptionally good Philosophy Department.

But they only admit people called Bruce.

Departmental drinking song:

''EEEmanual Cant was a realy pissed chap who was very rarely stable.
Eidegger Eidegger was a boozey beggar who could drink you under the table.

David Hume could out consume poor old Fredric Hegel...''


Now adopted by most philosophy undergrads the world over.

Except France. Where they still insist philosophy is a science.

Cant is written with a "K" - Kant, and Eidegger with a "H" - Heidegger, german guys.

But they only admit people called Bruce.

D*mn! Back to the potato farm then.

the philosophers song: (for those interested)


is not a piece that UniNewSouthWales has any special claim to. Monty Python made it famous in the 70's and i'd put money on it being sung loudly in prestige Pommy university Arts Department's parties prior to that.

One of the best in solar PV efficiency technology. I think they hold current world records on p-type and n-type efficiency.

Verbose post alert:

Looking back at conversations about parts of the Ghawar field in the last couple of days, I came across this comment by the reservoir engineer Fractional_Flows:


My attention was drawn to this statement:

“The [Simmons] critique is a bunch of drivel that doesn't get any closer to the actual problem- which is 4 MMBOPD [4 million barrels/day] at Ain Dar/Shedgum and Uthmaniyah resting on the precipice”

Further up on the same thread was this: http://europe.theoildrum.com/node/2372#comment-170481 which discusses, amongst other things the equation “So + Sw + Sg = 1”

Fractional_Flows also states that current water saturation levels at Ain Dar/Shedgum are 53%, up from 50.5% at the beginning of 2004 and increasing at an annual rate of 1%.

A couple of comments later, this statement: “there is a technique to calculate water cut behavior as a function of water saturation and hence oil producing rate it is called the fractional flow curve” . Searching for information about Fractional Flow Curves yielded this: http://www.ipt.ntnu.no/~kleppe/TPG4150/BL.pdf which might as well be written in Greek as far as I am concerned.

Searching the internet for more detail about the individual fields within Ghawar, I came across http://www.gregcroft.com/ghawar.ivnu, from which I derived a comparative table for the various fields (which I am finding impossible to post in a functional format).

The table shows that the Haradh field and its oil are inferior in every single way to the more northern fields in Ghawar – lower API, higher sulphur, higher viscosity, lower porosity and permeability, lower average net thickness of reservoir, lower Formation Volume Factor (what does that mean?) and lower Average Productivity Index in bopd/psi (again, what does that mean?). Interestingly, all of the above factors hold true as one moves from north to south across the Ghawar structure.

There was an animated discussion yesterday about the veracity or otherwise of Aramco’s claims about future production from Haradh III. Having looked at the table described above, it strikes me that Haradh III is largely an irrelevance whether Aramco’s claims are true or not.

I have speculated in recent days that Saudi Aramco may be running low on reserves of high API, low sulphur crudes produced from high porosity, high permeability fields. "Running low" begins to look ominously like "is beyond peak production of".

Logically, it makes sense to me that Aramco would have sought to produce from these fields first. Looking at the statistics in the table referred to above, I am filled with a sense of dread – Haradh, as a single field, looks vastly inferior to the northern Ghawar fields, and it further strikes me that Haradh III must logically be inferior in characteristics to Haradh I and II, both due to its more southerly location and to the fact that it was developed last.

If Haradh III represents the “best of the rest” (which logically it should), what do the rest look like?

The best case scenario I can envisage is that there are big undeveloped fields out there which contain high sulphur, low API crudes, but with relatively high permeability and/or porosity. The reason that such fields would not yet have been developed is that current global complex refining capacity is not sufficient to refine such crudes without producing an excess of low-end products such as Fuel Oils and Bitumen, and that therefore the relative value of such crudes to Saudi Arabia is far lower than higher API , lower sulphur crudes.

Is there any information out there that would substantiate this "best case scenario"?

More questions than answers, for which I apologise, but as a layman in these areas I welcome feedback from those with greater knowledge and skills than I posses.

Thank you for your post bunyonhead.

I'm so tired of cornicopians(and debunkers) dancing around slapping each other on the back as if they just proved SA has light sweet crude to last 1000 years. It's like watching Nero play while Rome burns.

Nice post and kudos for digging deep...

Your conclusion is similar to what Dave Cohen has echoed on occasion. It is looking to me like the Saudi's are post peak on on the light (32-38 API) sweet stuff, however, they do have some extra capacity for the unmarketable heavy stuff. My take is that the Manifa project, 800 kbpd (?) slated for 2009 is aimed at satisfying Saudi internal demand from Vanadium rich unexportable oil; the goal is to free up exportable grades that fetch a hefty premium.

A while back you pointed out the strange behaviour in the Brent and Tapis contracts. Asian refiners, or more accurately, those with limited heavy sour capacity, are getting squeezed. This may well be the the start of the Peak Oil price signal from the markets (aside from the obvious contango). I personally don't recall when there was a Brent (38 API) premium to WTI (37-42 API). Although Brent can be substituted for delivery at Cushing, the contract states that the buyer will get a $0.30 discount. So it is pretty clear that Brent is not ending up in the U.S.

A missing ingredient is a breakdown of refining capicity by API and sulfer content for Europe and Asia. It may well be that the squeeze on the light sweet is due driven by inadequte heavy capacity, however, by the time that Asian refiners have commisioned their crackers and cokers that increase in heavier sour grades will be offset by the further irreversible declines in light sweet production.

EIA has crude imports by API # for USA.Is that any use?US refineries have seen the writing on the wall and have been converting.eg API(<20) has gone from an avg 6%in 2000 to avg 13%in 2006.API(20-25)has gone from an avg 19% in 2000, to an avg 23% for 2006.

Thanks for the insight, also from EIA

Here is the weighted % of Sulfur in US imports

1980's .........................0.91 0.96 0.99 1.04 1.06
1990's 1.10 1.13 1.16 1.15 1.14 1.13 1.15 1.25 1.31 1.33
2000's 1.34 1.42 1.41 1.43 1.43 1.42

Here is the weighted API gravity.

1980's...............................32.46 32.33 32.22 31.93 32.14
1990's 31.86 31.64 31.32 31.30 31.39 31.30 31.14 31.07 30.98 31.31
2000's 30.99 30.49 30.42 30.61 30.18 30.20

The trends are unmistakable
(I hope the tables are readable)

This reminds me of that saying about picking "The Low Hanging Fruit"

Ladder please.

Great info Flak.

<comment deleted; nevermind>

high perosity/permeability good, and results in high productivity/psi; without decent psid (differential) between the oil bearing rock and the well, no oil flows into the well. Or, putting it another way, modest water flood plus reinjected gas can replace what is removed and thereby maintain the psid you want as the field goes into production and the natural pressure in the field decays. Fields with low permeability result in low production even when a high psid is maintained.

Naturally the best flowing wells with highest quality oil are produced first. In the case of ghawar, all the good qualities are in the north, now running dry, and all the worst are in the south. However, imo, the biggest problem is not oil quality - one can always build a refinery to handle unusual problems, eg high vanadium at manifa, but if you are used to fabulous high production and now must resort to slow producing fields, not much you can do.

Exactly...the salient point is that the mismatch between the quality of available crude and the corresponding refining ability is a symptom of the coming peak.

The horizontal well program at the "newer" Saudi projects is a way to generate high flows from less desirable reservoirs. IIRC, Haradh, Shaybah have low permeability reservoirs that require MRC technology to generate significant flows. The reserves may be there, but the flows cannot be recreated.

I have no idea if it would be possible to put together a graph of world production over the past 30 years broken down by API degrees. I am pretty sure that the fraction of oil with API > 38 has been in relative decline for sometime now.

We know that the next mega-projects are similar API to the Ghawar complex:

- Khursaniyah/Abu Hadriyah/Fadhili, 500 kbpd, due 2007
- Khurais, 1200 kbpd, due 2009

It speaks volumes about the reservoir problems to be overcome with the above projects that Aramco elected to develop Haradh III first, which is clearly the lowest quality reservoir in the Ghawar complex by some distance.

Bunyonhead, thanks for the info. I am out of town and had to borrow a computer for a few minutes to get this off, but I am preparing a longn post on Ain Dar and will post it next week sometime. After studying the SPE paper on Ain Dar, I found it shocking. (I posted the URL yesterday but don't have it at my fingertips right now.)

But on another point, we have been talking about the spread between WTI, Brent and Tapis. Well, "This Week In Petroleum" that came out today has a write up on that very subject.

I probably will not be posting any more until Monday or Tuesday. I had a death in the family, sister, and must attend to all that this requires.

Ron Patterson

So sorry to hear about your sister. Take care of yourself.

Hello Ron,

My heartfelt condolences.

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az

Hello Flak,

re: you say above "It is looking to me like the Saudi's are post peak on on the light (32-38 API) sweet stuff,..."

and here: "I have no idea if it would be possible to put together a graph of world production over the past 30 years broken down by API degrees. I am pretty sure that the fraction of oil with API > 38 has been in relative decline for sometime now."

Is there some way you could write this up w. the graph and/or references?

It would be nice (it seems to me) to have some nicely laid out presentation for the "low hanging fruit already picked" and/or "mismatch in refinery capability" argument.

bunyonhead, the fractional flow curve is the result of a professional paper by buckley-leverret. this was developed in the 1950's (asme) of which spe is a branch. you might also find the buckley leverret discussion in craft and hawkins "practical reservoir engineering" dont be blown away by the poster fractional flow as this method (buckley-leverret) is only one way of evaluating water displacing oil. this type of analysis has as a fundamental drawback that it assumes a homogeneous reservoir rock. see dykstra/parsons for an analysis of heterogeneous rock.

what is formation volume factor? that is the ratio of volume occupied by oil(and disolved gas) in the reservoir to oil in the stock tank (surface conditions) in repersents the shrinkage of the oil due to gas being removed and change in temperature (and pressure). the fvf is determined in the laboratory using a sample of a few hundred cc's and is scaled up to millions and billions of barrels (although i am assuming the saudi's ran many many of these tests on a field like ghawar.

what is productivity index ? productivity index (pi) is a general indication of the productivity of a well. the units are bopd/psi. bopd is the production rate at a tested pressure drawdown (psi). drawdown is the pressure drop. the difference between the average reservoir pressure and the flowing well pressure (usually taken to mean bottom hole pressure)

So CNN broadcasts hours and hours on the search for a lost boy scout.

But when Al Gore testifies before Congress and declares a "Planetary Emergency", that's unworthy of coverage.

Could there be clearer evidence of a media CONSPIRACY to hide the truth from the American people?? I have never been more disgusted!!!

And, as much as I've tried to maintain my optimism that we won't attack Iran, the news yesterday that Russia is pulling out all their nuclear workers is my "canary".

I've enjoyed driving. I'll miss it...

Watching now...

Give Hastert credit for bringing up Nuclear energy.

Bartlett drops 'Peak Oil' on the committee - to the sound of crickets.

And, as much as I've tried to maintain my optimism that we won't attack Iran, the news yesterday that Russia is pulling out all their nuclear workers is my "canary".

I read that a day or so ago and sent it to friends. I was somewhat suprised that you are the only one that thought the same thing.



feels like there might be a few billion lost Boy Scouts at this point.. so much for that Orienteering Merit Badge..

"When you're looking for adventure of a new and different kind, and you come across a girlscout who is similarly inclined, don't be nervous, don't be flustered don't be scared- Be Prepared!" Tom Lehrer

Surfing the Elliot Wave.

I've been hearing about the Elliot Wave for some time, but yesterday I actually followed it up at a site called the Socionomics Institute (who wants to be in an institution?) http://www.socionomics.net, through a film called; History's Hidden Engine.

The idea is a new one to me but, if they are wrong, one would expect the markets to have started falling sometime in 2006, and to be in free fall by now. If irrational optimism is, for the moment, propping the economy up then the proposal may have some merit.

That's not the point I am alluding to though. They were saying that some of the Fibonacci numbers, specifically 1, 3, and 5, are constantly recurring fractals embedded in a world economy graph that has been rising (worldwide) since records began. They appear to use this argument to predict a positive future for us all, and Robert R. Prechter, author of Socionomics, is comforted by the trend.

My problem with this conjecture is that even before hydrocarbons, that is from the introduction of agriculture, a constantly increasing human population ensured a constantly rising source of energy; mainly human in the beginning, but later including animal, water, wind, wood, etc. Now, as the Hydrocarbon stream begins to slow, and catabolic collapse may be imminent, with its concomitant decrease in human population, the rising graph must surely peak out (peak economy?).

It seems to me, as someone who cannot manage arithmetic, let along mathematics, that the Elliot Wave will work equally well if it is reversed (ie. falling), but more importantly, upside down, which will reflect a continuous reduction of available energy.

Although an upbeat public mood, at least in wealthy countries, may lead the economic trend, one would expect as the cycle declines, a level of distress which would ultimately lead the mood.

At some point, if solar energy, and other renewables, can be tapped in large enough quantities, there may be a way that a maintained technological economy can support a steady, necessarily reduced, population that can live within its resource means when, I assume, the Elliot Wave would become a wavelet bounded by reality.

These matters are outside my area of competence (I don't really have one of them) so, if it's all bollocks, do feel free to enjoy yourselves at my expense.


It's fairly easy to identify Elliot Wave patterns in a historical price series, whether tick-by-tick or month by month. There must be some psychological reason such as greed vs. fear that causes this phenomenon. However, I think that this tool has limited usefulness as a technical predictor because the timing, direction and extent of the next wave at whatever temporal granularity you choose - seems random.

I keep a weekly candlestick chart of light crude oil futures open together with TOD as tabs in my web browser. Its easy to pick out the waves and candlestick patterns. My investments are close-in income-producing real estate and I do not recommend commodity speculation for anyone.

Info about waves:


Info about candlestick charts:


The weekly oil chart I like is:


Don't try to understand the wave.

Just ride the wave.

Waves can be predicted.

But look out for big sets.

Don't get caught inside.

Prechter believes that we are at the beginning of a long
disastrous downcycle, that is the equivalent of a grand
supercycle period. The next depression should be many
degrees worse than the 30's. However, when it comes to
peak oil, his views are anathema to TOD. He is of the
opinion that there is more than enough energy to
sustain us for centuries. I believe that some of his
socionomic thinking makes sense, but he does not
seem to acknowledge limits to growth, in that once
the current low period ends, the world will once
again begin another expansion.

If only I would have done THE EXACT OPPOSITE of what Prechter has said these last several years I would be a wealthy man!!

Several years? He was saying it in the '80's. Target on the Dow was 450 or something like that.

I have been following Elliot Waves (one of my friends calls it "Idiot Waves") since 2002. In my opinion, what Robert Prechter is selling is just snake oil. He has been wrong about just about everything at least since 2002. He has been calling for a great stock market crash, grand supercycle depression, etc. etc. at least since 1995 (if not 1987).

There are several problems with Idiot... I mean Elliot waves:

1. There are a large number of Elliot Wave patterns; so regardless of what the market does he can always claim it is following one of the Elliot Wave patterns.

2. More often than not, determining which pattern the market is following at any given moment is subjective.

3. Patterns in general have very little ability to predict the future. There is no guarantee that a pattern seen in past will repeat this time. And you can only recognize the pattern when it is nearly complete. By that time it has no predictive value.

4. If you look for patterns you will see them everywhere. That doesn't mean they can be used to predict the future.

I am embarrassed to admit that I was a subscriber to the Elliot Wave newsletter back in 2002 and 2003. Back then Prechter was claiming that the ups and downs in Michael Jordans career and the popularity of Donald Trump's books was an indicator of popular sentiment. Hence you could time the stock market (I am not making this up!!) by following MJ's career and DT's book publishing schedule. And at least one issue of the newsletter claimed that the stock market was influenced by sun spots and hence you could predict it by tracking the number of sun spots. And then he has also claimed that you could predict the onset of the bear market by tracking the popularity of slasher/violent/horror films. So the mother of all bear markets was supposed to start when "Kill Bill" became a popular movie 3 years ago. And he has been calling a top in the price of gold at least since gold was at $360/oz (it is now $650/oz).

And of course, he thinks "peak oil" is a joke. According to him the price of oil like everything else is determined by the emotional state of investors (no need to look at supply/demand/inventories).

In other words, I regret spending my hard earned money on this snake oil salesman and I wouldn't do it again.

If only I had done the opposite of what he preached....I would be rich by now.

Do you think that if anyone discovered how to accurately predict economic cycles that they would tell proles like us?

I dont think so.

The charlatans would write books for Airport book stands, coin a bit of money and walk away.

And, if someone who is ever rich and powerful enough works out predictive techniques do you not think they would use that technique maximise an advantage.

Remember: The man who dies richest wins the game :)

Actually, it is the man who has been happy throughout his life who has won. Wealth means nothing to a dead man and rarely brings happiness in life.

What is the universal symbol for a sarcasm alert?

Yeah, I no longer believe or trust any of them. Whether it is Prechter or Martin Weiss or Agora or the less well known analysts, they all claim they can predict what the market will do next so that they can make money by selling subscriptions.
A few years ago I was one of the gullible ones who fell for it. Not any more.

These theories fall by the wayside because they're all based on free market principles. Once you've checked out GATA, or have seen the Jim Cramer video on YouTube, or read Mish Shedlock's recent post Who's to blame for the housing mess?"on free markets (NOT), you realize that predicting waves says nothing at all unless you can predict who's going to intervene when and where and with how much money.

Remember: The man who dies richest wins the game

... uh?

The man who dies the richest, has seriously worked too much. But most likely, he doesn't have a clue. His last words will probably be "I should have spend more time at the office".

However, after the funeral, his wife will book a nice holiday somewhere where life is good. She has probably figured it out a long time ago.

I contacted that company with the refrig. energy saver about distributing the product and they are in discussions with someone when they emailed me back. They'll be here within a year I hope.

I wonder if it's possible to make your own? If it's just a block of wax around the temperature sensor...

Seems like the usual techo-fix - worship of technology to solve the problems created by technology.
It really only has a benefit if someone is opening the fridge/freezer door all of the time.
You can render it useless by simply not opening your fridge door excessively.
People could do more by buying energy efficient fridges and freezers - shun the ice cube dispensors and the upright freezers and the side-by-side fridge/freezer models.
Better yet convert a chest freezer to a fridge.
Hell, move your freezer into your garage to reduce it's winter energy use to nearly 0.

For 15 years my fridge has been a pure fridge. For 15 years my fridge + small chest freezer has used less electricity than the fridge which most people have.

Meanwhile I've got a friend with a 30 year old fridge which sucks 215W average (as much as my family of 4 in our house) who moans and groans and decided not to get a new fridge (which would use about 70W average) because they think that there would be more pollution created making a new fridge and because an appliance repairman told them that new fridges are junk, unreliable and breakdown a lot.

The real issues that must be delt with are the social issues in terms of how we use appliances, what appliances we buy but mostly the worship of convience above all else.

Up here, Ontario, Canada, I've already got one friend trying to pick out a hybrid car because of a tax credit for them (in our recent budget as well as a tax penality for those buying guzzler - but I'm leery as I've not seen any fine print - do they give you a credit if you buy a greenwashed Hummer because it's best in class?). Meanwhile my friend doesn't realize that hybrids are high powered road rockets with engines many times more powerful than my 1991 Chevy Sprint and most can't even get milage as good - and cost you 3x as much!

People are usually not rational.

A third of Americans rent (and I suspect it will be more soon). The appliances come with the place, and no, the landlord is not eager to buy new ones, especially since he's usually not the one paying the electric bill.

Something that could cut the energy use of an existing fridge could be quite useful, if it works.

(and I suspect it will be more soon)

I think you're right about that. There is a good (and prominent) op-ed piece in today's Wall Street Journal called Mortgage Meltdown: The 'subprime' crisis may be worse than you think. Unfortunately, it's not free.

Federal Reserve officials and most economists believe the problems in the subprime mortgage market will remain relatively contained, but there is compelling evidence that the failure of subprime loans may be the start of a painful unwinding of a housing bubble that was fueled by easy money and loose lending practices.
The report by Credit Suisse estimates mortgage originations could drop 21% during the next year or two because of tighter credit standards. Coupled with high inventories of unsold homes and the additional supply likely from distressed sellers, this drop in demand could produce an unprecedented nationwide decline in home prices. Merrill Lynch estimates prices could drop as much as 10% this year. A price drop of this magnitude would lead to a vicious cycle in the housing market and pose a major risk to economic growth. And, of course, it would create a raging political firestorm.

And here's a free one, which says essentially the same thing (i.e. liquidity in the mortgage market is drying up) from Marketwatch: What goes boom must go bust.

These pieces are in advance of a hearing held by the Senate Banking Committee tomorrow to grill banking regulators and subprime lending execs.

Shouldn't that be ex subprime lending execs
I and if they don't hurry up they may not be able to talk to the last one in business.

I wonder if it's possible to make your own? If it's just a block of wax around the temperature sensor...

Ha ha, seriously. That's what I was thinking. $50 for a thermal mass made out of wax? Go out and buy a blob of beeswax...it has the properties of being firm, yet pliable, just warm it in your hands a tad and stick it on. :)

the whole idea here is to avoid re-chilling the cold air that is lost every time you open the fridge door and it flows into the kitchen. The wax block gives the food in the fridge time to warm up a bit, absorbing the heat from the warm air that is there after the door has been closed.

As far as I know the chest freezer conversion is the best way to go for efficiency overall, but given that this is not likly for most of us in the short term, just fill the unused volume in the fridge with "something" to reduce the volume of cold air lost each time the door opens. You could for example use the fridge as a storage place for the Tupperware containers you are not using for other things at the time(with the lids on of course...) If as I do you store them full of water this will add to the chilled thermal mass which reduces cycling of the motor between door openings and improve savings even more.

Put this into perspective.

Assume a refrigerator of 16 cubic feet (.45 m^3). This is about a half kg of air, and assuming room temperature and normal fridge temperature, the energy lost if all the cold air in the fridge is exchanged is .01 kWh.

So, if you open your fridge 10 times a day, (at $.01/kWh) it will cost you less than a penny per day. And in the winter, that extra effort by the fridge heats your house, decreasing your furnace load. At $50, you will pay off your mortgage before you recoup your investment in that wax gizmo.

The real market is for supermarkets...fridges that open often.

It's all about population!

The real market is for supermarkets

It's not really useful there either. The purpose of refrigeration is to retard bacterial growth, and such growth is non-linear with temperature. If you do something to slow down the ability of the appliance to recover after someone opens the door, food will be exposed to warmer air longer and will spoil sooner. You could compensate by lowering the temperature, but that defeats the purpose.

It's all about refrigerators!

Having taken a nap and re-awakening with a few brain cells more active than before, it dawns on me that its the SURFACE of the food you need to be concerned about anyway. So this little blob of thermal mass emulates food, emulates the center of food, but bacteria doesn't grow in the middle of food...it grows it on the surface where there's contact with the bacteria in the first place. So this thing, while it may save energy will not save your food. It is the proverbial Snake Oil. The only way, of course, to truely reduce energy usage in refrigerators is to insulate them, thereby reducing temperature exchange.

I believe the future is bright for snake oil salesmen.

This thread recalls a continuing argument I have with a friend of mine concerning which takes less energy a full
freezer or an empty one set at the same temperature. He maintains a full unit takes less energy. I keep telling
him the air in an empty unit takes less energy to keep cold than one full of frozen food or ice but he won't budge.

See my post above. If you don't open the door, and assuming the contents have been brought down to temperature, it makes no difference empty or full. If you open the door occasionally (and let some warm air in), the empty one uses slightly more energy--but not enough to make a practical difference.

The energy used by the refrigerator is a function of the inside and outside temperatures and how good the insulation in the walls is. You pump heat from one side to the other, but it leaks back.

How many refrigerators can dance on the head of a pin?

How many refrigerators does it take to screw in a light bulb?

Everything you always wanted to know about refrigerators, but were afraid to ask.

And so forth.


I'll chill out, now.

A refrigerator, empty or full would behave much like a building with a little or a lot of interior thermal mass. The full refrigerator would run less often as the contents slow the temperature equalization, always warm to cold. The run cycle for the full refrigerator would be longer than for an empty one, but would not run as often. If the refrigerator is designed to be more efficient with longer run times, a full refrigerator would then save energy.

At the risk of boring blogger beggar, I'll throw in one more:

If one assumes that the temperature equilibration between the interior air and the contents is faster than heat flows in from the outside, then the inside temperature would rise more slowly. However, the fridge coils cool the inside air even more rapidly and might cycle off again after a very short period.

Yes, this topic is not as sexy as the WT/RR dustups (and completely ridiculous to a doomer), but it's related to a problem I'm more interested in and that is logging the on/off cycles on my gas furnace over a 24 hour period. I'm aware of this thing which can log external DC inputs. Anyone know of something similar?

(to old hermit: I can't empty the refrigerator to test because the beer would get warm)

JoulesBurn, you might check out http://professionalequipment.com they handle a lot of building diagnostic equipment. Now back to the refrigerator, the air temperature may indeed cool down quicker than the contents and cycle off prematurely. The building comparison is a good one but somewhat more complicated with thermostat setbacks and the related (pick-up load). I reinsulated my house and added a 95% furnace and have been monitoring the results this winter and have learned things I never knew before. The morning recovery period from the setback (70F from 62F) is substantial and the furnace runs on high fire for 2 hours or more before shutting down. The furnace will then cycle in increasingly longer intervals until the interior surfaces reach 70F, the furnace heating the air quite quickly but the interior mass taking much longer, maybe as long as 8 hrs.

Thank you for the reference.

joules, that is kind of interesting, do you have a method of calculating what i would call bulk r factor, by taking the average inside and outside temperature over say a 24 hr period and using the gas useage from the meter?

If you know the output of your furnace (A) and the house is up to temperature, time the furnace run time (in minutes) per hour (B). Divide the output of the furnace (A) by 60 (minutes) and multiply times the minutes of furnace run time (B) for the energy use in btu's (C). Take the indoor temperature and subtract the outdoor temperature and divide into (C), this will give you the approximate heat loss in btu's per hour per degree F. From this you can size hvac equipment and the like. This is a little known method called STM (short term measurement), I have used it on my own house and it matches almost exactly a detailed heat loss calculation.

Using the gas meter reading, you could calculate the BTUs in the gas used and multiply by the efficiency of your furnace to get the effective BTUs and then divide by the time period to get the heating rate.


Q = BTU/hour


A = total surface area in square feet (walls, ceiling, floor)
Ti = average inside temperature in F
To = average outside temp in F


R(average) = A(Ti-To)/Q

Inside temp would be the thermostat setting (single story), and you can either log the outside or use data from Weather Underground or something.

A complication is the gas water heater. However, if I don't use any hot water during the measurement period, it should work out since it is in the heated space. I have no experience doing this, so I don't know what to expect. Have fun.

joules, yes thank you. i didnt consider the furnace efficiency, however to get something representing "R" for comparison of wall,floor and ceiling i can see why one would use that. i suppose one would need to consider solar heating effects as well. i still think the process would yield valueable information. and of course a house has a wind chill factor as well (not the same as a human wind chill factor).

I left out one other thing. You need to add the energy from electricity used during the measurement time to the effective BTUs from the furnace.

The input from solar is a good point, and comparing night and day (and cloudy vs. clear) might be interesting. I've been monitoring temperatures in my attic, and it gets much warmer than I would have expected for this time of year (when it's sunny).

The method I described would be used at night or a heavy overcast day. The btu's per hour per degree F can then be mutiplied x 24 x HDD (heating degree days) for your area. This is the seasonal heating use (in btu's) less solar gains. To calculate usage for the heating season you check gas usage from the non heating months (June, July, August) add them together, divide by 3 and multiply times 12 months. This is the gas usage for non heating, subtract this from the total gas usage to find the actual gas used for heating. The total for heating in millions of btu's can be divided by 24 hrs. and by HDD and you will get the btu/hr/F including solar gains. This measurement would be for an actual heating season and should be normalized for an average year. By using both methods you can approximate your average annual solar gain.

Air in a fridge is quite fluid.

That whooshing sound when you open a well sealed chest freezer is air peturbation. Warm air gets in , could air is displaced by the activity of opening the door fast.

The more stuff you have in the freezer, the less , easily displaced air. Also, once you have cooled everything down, you have a very unresponsive mass of sub zero stuff. (like an old ice-house used by the great houses in Scotland to keep ice through the summer months).

Trick is: dont open it often. Open slowly, close slowly, put it in a garage or other room not normally heated to human room temps.

Ooh, and stop your kids from diving in , chucking stuff around and looking for ice lollies.

Chest freezers beat all other types.

1952 GE fridge. In the family since day 1. Never serviced, never needed repair. Not even the door gasket. Very little cycling, very low power, very quiet. Needs occasional manual defrosting, esp. in summer.
Why would a mfr repeat the mistake of marketing an appliance like mine?

Why keep the argument going. Just go down to your friendly Home Depot, or Ace hardware, and get tow of their single unit WATT METERS, one for both of you. Put them on the refrig. and at the end of the month you'll both know who is correct.

Send it in to Mythbusters ;)

some of you might have seen this before, but I first caught it on a cbc documentary about energy.


his fridge design is the best thing i have seen. We need more people that think like this guy around.

I liked everything *except* the fridge, I'm afraid. But I do really like the house. To keep the cooled air around your food as undisturbed as possible would seem to be the goal, so I'd be more inclined to follow the 'Low Freezer' designs of some fridges today, and have the Icebox be a roll-out chest, under the counters.. or possibly a Down-sliding door, which creates the least amount of air-swoosh! when opened, and also keeps the lowest areas virtually undisturbed the longest..

Of course, until our average temps get above 40f where I live, it's just daft to have anything more than a freezer plugged in at all! But I'm working on that one.

The rest of the Igloo idea is great and really beautiful.. this would help me solve my desire to make a living room with a curved ceiling for my own Planetarium in it. Might even be able to project 'scope movies in this wraparound theater!

Bob Fiske


Just turn up the temperature control in your refrigerator, I think this is essentially what this gizmo does, may also increase the time between cycles which may save some energy.

This gadget is one of a class of things that are useful in a small way but a distraction from larger issues. All the gadget does is expand the 'swing' between the 'on' temperature and the 'off' temperature. This may save a little energy due to reduced cycling or something else, but the majority of energy will still be used because no insulation is perfect.

If people want to really reduce energy use by food refrigeration, they should lobby their governments to purchase old refrigerators. Or they should lobby their governments to require that the compressor and coils be placed on top of the fridge, not at the back or on the bottom. Movers may not like this (more top-heavy), but heat rises and most fridges stay put at their place of first use.


I'm looking through todays Denver Post newspaper, and in the business section there is an article titled " Flat Prospects ". It has to do with the declining production of CO2 in Huerfano county in Colorado which has been used in oil recovery primarily in west Texas. Has this been a problem for a long time?

Regarding the current 'high' oil prices, I submit that underlying inflation has masked the true reality; they haven't moved much.

While it is customary to calculate inflation from a 'basket of goods' method, the reality is that the supply of money per capita has recently increased quite substantially more than the 'basket' might suggest. Why the cost of Chinese labor in our shoes should be used as an indicator of how much money the government has printed is no great mystery, especially to those who print.

A more reliable indicator is the size of the federal debt, which has doubled in the last eight years. With automation and offshoring, the price of some goods - even in printed dollar terms - has even gone down, but if it has stayed the same then we have a case for inflation.

Thus I would posit that the actual price of oil is perhaps still about $28 to $30 a barrel, as it was at the turn of the century. A plot of the ratio of oil price to national debt would be interesting.

While it is fashionable to place the blame for inflation upon wage demands and unions, or upon speculative bubbles, the reality is that there are two tax systems; one for income and spending and the other upon money itself by the creation of more new money..

This is why we now have the $150 service call on the $600 Korean/Mexican fridge. The American made fridge is now $2000, but guess which one goes into the 'basket'? And it's not the service call! Inflation baskets usually delete oil and food. ??? What the hell do they include? Taiwanese bathromm fittings?

I'm prepared to say that oil prices haven't really changed - YET. They just express real inflation more accurately than the massaged statistics that the governments use for publicity purposes. Even the housing bubble is more a reflection of actual money creation; unfortunately the pressure on wages is down, not up. In this case, the fool and his money were parted before he even had a chance to earn it.

I'm inclined to believe--though don't stand firmly on this idea--that the cost of energy is the single biggest and central driver of inflation. If this is the case, then adjusting the price of oil (and gasoline) for inflation doesn't make sense. Unless there's a super-spike in the price of oil, such that the price increase is far faster than various official and unofficial inflation numbers are adjusted upwards, I wouldn't be surprised if the inflation-adjusted price of gasoline in the US never exceeds what was seen in the 1970s (at least officially).

Seems like sort of a psychological game being played. "$6.50/gal seems bad today, but, remember, when inflation-adjusted, it was worse during past energy crises..."

Just a thought. And I am by no means an expert on this topic. :o)



Inflation defined is an increase in the money supply. Price inflation is simply a misnomer to get you to watch a few items for the inflation to show up. Price inflation misses the point of inflation all together. Expanding the supply of money is inflationary, period. What part of the economy it finds itself matter little.

If the money supply is increased at the rate of expansion of the economy, there is no inflation.

If inflation were due solely to money supply increasing faster than the economy, I would expect prices to go up across the board.

Tate's right. I think the Austrian school on this is the right one. Mise, Richenbacher.

It's a money volume thing. I also agree the other variants of definition keep you from seeing the true game.


(post deleted by author)

Weekly Petroleum inventories:
Crude Oil +4.0
Motor gasoline -3.4
Distillates -1.7
Total Petroleum products - 2.9

Maybe the year-over-year numbers are also interesting:
crude -9
gasoline -1
distillates -8
propane -5

This means that for crude oil it will take four more years until crude oil stocks are below the 'average' band.

Actually, gasoline is -11 year over year rather than -1.


This Week in Petroleum is especially good this week; it discusses the prices of the different varieties of crude oil and explains why West Texas Intermediate has had price weakness relative to the other varieties.

The inventory level graphs are also interesting. Propane looks like it's in especially tough shape, and gasoline looks like it's dropping like a rock.

NASAguy, thanks for providing ongoing commentary on the natural gas inventory situation. I wonder what would happen if triage of some sort becomes necessary. Would they give preference to burning gas to run peaking (electricity generation) plants this summer to run air conditioners, or would they issue pleas for conservation and cut off industrial customers in order to build inventory for next winter?

"in order to build inventory for next winter?"

How much inventory can you really build with nat gas? I thought it was pretty much "just in time"...

Actually, storage is on the order of 15% of annual usage (3.5 trillion cubic feet compared to 22 trillion cubic feet annual usage), so it's quite substantial...

Thanks for the info Kyle. I had no idea there was that much nat gas storage.

At least for the northeast, natural gas has traditionally been stored in the summer for use in winter. (Underground caverns.) Lately, it's been kind of tight, because air-conditioning has gotten so popular. We've been lucky because the weather has been mild since the natural gas crunch started (ca. 2000). The combination of a hot summer with a cold winter would be pretty unpleasant.

I don't think they'd ask people to conserve to build inventory for winter. More likely, they'd just hope for a mild winter. (Yay, global warming.) If it turned out to be a bad winter, that's when they'd ask people to conserve. And if that wasn't enough, some industrial users and government offices would shut down or switch to generator power (they pay lower rates in exchange for agreeing to do this). If that still wasn't enough, they would have rolling blackouts. The customers who use natural gas for heat, cooking, etc., would get priority, as I understand it.

The grid will always take preference... you don't just lose air conditioners, you lose lights, refrigerators, elevators, all businesses/stores close, etc. What we need is time pricing so that peak demand is met with peak price, strongly encouraging consumers to reduce air conditioning at peak times.

SOlar will be perfect to replace what will shortly be very expensive ng during peak demand periods... I am considering an investment in a thin film startup that hopes to have a pilot plant in produciton of low cost solar panels in a year.

The grid will always take preference

What about cities? Choose between electric or shutting off the residential gas. One can't let the pressure drop in the city. At least here in Maine I can easily see rolling electric outages before gas supplies to residential get shut off. Nearly 3/4 of our electricity is natural gas dependent.

Do you shut off some electricity, some gas? Probably. That will lead to "unrest" pretty quick. The political/economic upper class in the suburbs won't be so concerned about city dwellers but will want the electricity for their homes and businesses. Note that in these pictures of Baghdad, all the streetlights are lit but few of the buildings. I wonder if the streetlights get a different priority.

Nor can the grid be defended. How will that play out when people realized power is being exported and they are in the dark?

cfm in Gray, ME

With electricity, you can ration (you get power for X hours per day). You can't do this with gas. Once you shut it off, you have to go around to everybody's house and shut off the gas locally to prevent leaks and potential explosions when you turn the gas back on at the utility.

Have you checked out the a-silicon thin-film PVs from Uni-Solar? Their product seems to end up in many of the largest rooftop projects recently announced. They have two production plants in MI, with four more currently in different phases of construction. Current production capacity: 60MW, late 2008 cap: 180.


I'd be interested to hear about any other thin-film investment ideas/research.

Calorie, if triage becomes necessary residential natural gas customers get priority over the electrical grid. This fact may seem surprising, but it is because there are many residential customers who have gas pilot lights. If gas is shut off, pilot lights go out, but when the gas comes back on, you get gas in the homes, which is a health hazard and also a fire hazard.

Exactly. The Calif Dept of Energy has contingency plans on its website for what to do in the event of natl gas or other energy shortages. It clearly spells out shutting off generation plants in order to keep residential service. The rationale is to keep pilot lights on for safety reasons.

I wonder how many units out there do not use thermocouples to sense when the pilot light is out, and therefor not allow gas flow?

And, how many units will not light at all with no electric from Piezo ignition?

Good question. I know that years ago a gas oven/stove we had ran a full time pilot without a thermocouple. I would hope these are few now, but I would guess they are still around, especially in lower income areas, both urban and rural.

Hard to know the best approach.

Somebody finally said it; It's been the standard for many years now that all gas appliances have a thermo couple to shut the main gas valve off in the event of gas failure. One exception: Gas cooking ranges. I have one and when the pilot light goes out you can turn the gas burner on but all you get is raw gas, and boy does it smell.

Then you get exploding homes and apartment buildings.

Residential natural gas use seems to amount to only 24% of total natural gas use in the United States, based on Table A2 of the EIA Annual Energy Outlook 2007, so it sounds like this plan should work for quite a while.

People may lose their jobs because of the reduction in natural gas supply to industrial users, and may have electricity only part of every 24 hour period, but they are likely to still have as much (very expensive) natural gas as they care to purchase.

Yep refinery capacity is up a bit to 86%+. NYMEX crude now trading at over SIXTY bucks. Refinery runs up but gasoline inventories fell 1.45 million more than the -2 million analysts expected.


1)Surpising U.S. gasoline demand
2)Dow surging on lack of tightening bias by the Fed
3)Asian markets up

If the Saudi's can't deliver seems like today's trend is for more 'kinetic' force later this driving season.

So, gas is not the most expensive part about driving cars...

"The biggest cost of car ownership isn't gas, repairs or even adding that amazing sound system. Nope, it's depreciation, or the car's decrease in value over time."


If our society is so morally bankrupt that we will yet again look the other way while our luxuries are supplied by misery and dead bodies, what claim to happiness do we have?

Oil race makes strange bedfellows

One of the world's most corrupt and impoverished nations, Angola is the oil industry's new darling. But new-found riches aren't likely to bring stability for its people or global consumers

Angola, which shared the stage with the world's most powerful oil-producing nations at its first OPEC meeting here on Thursday, is an unlikely candidate to be the darling of the global oil industry.

An underdeveloped, war-scarred country that has foundered for decades because of corrupt leadership, Angola is one of the poorest lands on earth. But ask any energy executive these days and another picture emerges: a place of immense riches, solicitous of foreign investors, and among the three fastest growing oil exporters in the world today.

In the capital, Luanda, hotel rooms cost more than US$200 a night and are booked two months in advance by the oil companies; three times a week, non-stop charter flights known as the Houston Express ferry workers to and from Texas; offshore, dozens of oil fields have been discovered and given names such as Cola and Canela.

Exxon Mobil, Chevron, BP and others have poured billions into Angola in the past decade to unlock petroleum resources in the country's deep waters, where the vast majority of the oil is, and the payoffs are finally coming in.

In recent years, Angola has become the fastest-growing source of exports to the United States and, along with Nigeria and smaller West African countries, it is about to become an important component of American energy security. Within three years, oil-producing nations in western Africa will account for one of every three new barrels pumped worldwide. By 2015, the United States is projected to import a quarter of its oil from Africa, up from 15% today.

While oil companies talk at length about how welcoming the government is to foreign investors, they are much more circumspect when it comes to the government's lack of transparency or the history of corruption among its leaders.

Angola suffered through a devastating civil war for 27 years and became a focus of Cold War proxy battles between Western and Soviet allies in Africa. When the fighting ended in 2002, an estimated 500,000 people had died and much of the country was in ruins.

These days, Angola still has a terrible record on corruption and ranks on the lowest rungs of nearly all development indicators. Elections have been postponed several times and are currently scheduled in 2009.

The nation's contradictions are glaring. Angola earned more than US$30-billion last year from its petroleum exports. But according to a recent World Bank report, 70% of the population lives on the equivalent of less than US$2 a day, the majority lack access to basic health care, and about one in four children die before their fifth birthday

"If our society is so morally bankrupt that we will yet again look the other way while our luxuries are supplied by misery and dead bodies, what claim to happiness do we have?"

We've been doing it for decades. Why stop now? :-/ Not that we're particularly "happy", as a culture, perhaps because of a nagging intuition about where our "lifestyle" really comes from.

You try explaining to people what the true cost of their consumer lifestyle is: to other people around the world, to the environment, to their own souls. Good luck.

The curse of oil.

Rich resource, brutal and corrupt corporatism, and people devoured to feed someone else's insatiable desire for cheap energy.

and so it goes.....

How to change this? The propaganda for war and "full spectrum global dominance absorbs every issue.

Every decontextualized factoid that slips through the "news" disinfotainment screen is enveloped in the alternative reality manufactured to keep us living in a suicide economy.

Even as calls for reality-based public policy grow louder, the propaganda machine is spewing out ever more desperate versions of the recurring meta-narrative: we are noble victims who sacrifice for the liberation of others, for democracy, for God, for our sacred way of life, for peace and safety in the homeland, for a free market.

Is the Holy War propaganda war ratcheting up even more, or have I become too acutely aware of it?

Nuclear Energy and Ethanol...


I am willing to bet money that design specs will be drawn up for an integrated nuclear/ethanol biorefinery within the next 1-3 years.

Yamani in the top story says oil will top $100/barrel if an attack on Iran happens.

What is written between the lines on this -

1) Saudi Arabia claims to be able to pump up to at least 3 Million barrels more than they are now (voluntary [~1 mmbpd] reductions plus ample[2mmbpd+], claimed spare capacity).

2) Iran is exporting around 2-2.5 million barrels a day (again a round ballpark number)...

So, can't they swing that loss of capacity?

Or what is he saying...they can't...and therefore don't have the capacity they claim.

Am I wrong? Am I close? I am not sure of the numbers I propose, but for arguments sake...I think they are in the ballpark.

It's all about population!

What he is saying is that an embargo on Iranian oil (the loss of 2.5 mbpd) is something the Saudis can swing. But military action against Iran carries the risk of all Persian Gulf oil going off line, and no one can make that up.

War with Iran might cut off the oil supply route through the Strait of Hormuz.

Oil costs would skyrocket.

Might this be the perfect pretext for the current US administration to use some WMDs and also to announce that "oil security" demands that the US occupy Iran to protect the oil fields and the flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz?

Perhaps the extreme energy squeeze would create a sudden "coalition of the energy-starved" to join in?

Surely an extreme liquid fuels crunch in the USA would shake
things up to the point that Martial Law might have to be declared and we would see various provisions of the so-called Patriot Act implemented?

So maybe some of TPTB are thinking that such an eventuality might work very much in their favor: drive the crashing bus and bail out when one is sure that most will not survive?

Just a thought.

The recent shortage of propane here in Maine earned a "state of emergency" from the Governor, which put MEMA (Maine Emergency Management) headed by a National Guard General in charge of the supply. The Guard is, for all intents and purposes, federalized. That this is the same General that sends Maine soldiers over to Iraq - well, that's how the plan fits together, doesn't it? Were I Governor, I'd demote him and send him to the front lines in Iraq. I'd do that to every commander of the Guard until the troops came home. And if I have to have the military running emergency management, I'd rather have Castro than the jackasses we sent to New Orleans. Emergency management is no place for the military; it needs healers - doctor types. My bet is most state emergency management is top heavy with authoritarian boys with toys; that's going to create a world of hurt.

cfm in Gray, ME


This brings up another interesting point too: What is the benefit of being close to or right on top of energy resources if the whatcha' stuff hits the fan?

We see how easily it would be to federalize energy resources if a national emergy were declared. Being in, for example, Texas where there is still oil and natural gas may be of no benefit if a General decides that the oil and gas will be of more national benefit to be shipped to New York or Chicago, or even out of country to an ally we need to buy off for strategic reasons.

Where would Kentucky coal go, or the TVA's excess electric production?
The interesting one is of course biofuels. Let us say that the farm belt can actually produce a sizable amount of ethanol/butanol/bio-diesel, or some combination thereof...would they be allowed to use it locally to stabilize their own situation, or would it be "federalized" and shipped out by rail, pipeline or barge? It looks like we're all in this mess together whether we like it or not.

(Stategically, this is what makes solar and wind so interesting.....they are harder to federalize and steal, they almost have to be used pretty close to where they are....unless the the power they produce are converted to hydrogen or some transportable fuel, but everyone here agrees that is totally impossible, right? (heh, heh, heh....:-)

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

I suppose that is a real possibility.

What about the Saudi ports on the Red Sea side? Can they divert any production them to avoid the Straits?

I don't believe they can divert significant deliveries to the Red Sea. And the problem is not just SA, it is also Iraq and other Gulf exporters. There was an article in yesterday's Drumbeat about plans to build pipelines to get around the Prsian Gulf bottleneck. However, the proposed pipelines wouldn't be finished for 10 years.

Ten years? I don't think the Imperial Establishment wants to wait that long.

Seriously though, I guess that the idea is to stir up fights and turmoil with the idea of using the chaos itself as a critical propaganda weapon -- "See, you'd better be afraid, they might come over here and fight....you'd better be full of rage at these Terrorists, too....if you disagree then we'll round you up for giving aid and comfort to the enemy." And so forth and so on.... thanks, Mr Goebbels, a tip o' the hat to ye, sir.

These specific ideas are already clearly and forcefully put out there, and are repeated by highly placed official propagandists and in the Echo Chamber of the Corporatist Media. All that is required now is for the chaos to get bad enough that it provides cover for implementing the Patriot Act and officially suspending the Constitution -- as if that has not already been done.

The curse of oil does not come from the oil itself, does it?

So regarding the Angola story, is output from Angola able to replace declining output from Saudi Arabia, or even possibly increase worldwide output?

I'm new, and I apologize for not knowing a lot about Angola, but it seems that maybe it post-pones peak oil a lot longer than is expected?

It really all depends on global decline rates. Angola's oil helps but it may not make up for declines in the big producing areas like SA. I believe someone here mentioned that Angola has light sweet crude, which is in big demand and fetches the highest price. If Angola was able to ramp up production to say 5 million barrels per day in the next year then yes, they would postpone a peak in oil supply for several years. But I don't think they have that much in reserves or capacity.

Also, Angola could very well go down the road of Nigeria and spin into chaos. The first world countries are raping Africa of its natural resources and Angola is a basket case of a country. If the populous gets tired of big oil companies taking their oil and the profits then they may fight back like they are in Nigeria. This would severely hamper their production profile for many years.

For Americans thinking of moving to Canada.
(Leanan and others...)

Here's something about our politics that may take some getting used to.

Any member of parliament who votes against his own party on a bill, gets kicked out. And it happened yesterday.


Occasionally we have free votes where this doesn't apply. But they are rare. Almost all votes split along party lines. Members of parliament can abstain, however.(or not show up)

(I have no opinion on whether the US system is better than ours)

One consequence is that a politician's voting record is meaningless in Canada.

I don't see it as a major problem.

After all 99% of parliamentarians are elected because of their party label. You don't vote for John Smith local hero and independent free thinker, you vote for John Smith party hack and muppet who won (or bought) party pre-selection. And you expect that John Smith Type B will vote along party lines consistently. If you want John Smith Type A, you vote for an independent (who then won't get in).

In any case, Westminster systems are different - majority votes in the Parliament determine (in theory) who the government and Prime Minister of the day will be, so the party whips need to keep the troops in line - except for the odd "free" vote across party lines.

Not a good reason not to emigrate to Canada - the climate could be though.

What do you guys make of this? Has this been discussed?

In a generally little-noted though momentous event (see EDM, March 6), Gazprom declined to present its overdue prognosis for gas output beyond 2010 during the Russian cabinet of ministers’ March 2 session. Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov had to urge in front of television cameras, “The situation should not be over-dramatized.” That same day, Russia’s Chamber of Accounts criticized Gazprom for under-investing in exploration, field development, and infrastructure maintenance in Russia while over-investing in acquisitions unrelated to production. This public turn of events seems indirectly to confirm the forecasts made last year by Vladimir Milov, Alan Riley, and David Clark that Gazprom faces a gap between its production and its supply commitments post-2010.

I don't if it means anything...and I wonder if the calculations presented will reflect internal demands (ie. total available to export).


Greetings from Lithuania. My pesky job has gotten in the way of posting at or even reading TOD lately, but an article in today's Lietuvos Rytas ( http://www.lrytas.lt ) caught my eye.

My translation:

Parliamentary law opens the way to more expensive natural gas
by Zydrunas Damauskas

The Parliament yesterday passed the Natural Gas Law, which will enable the regulation of prices for natural gas for all users. There is little doubt that the price of natural gas will rise as a result.

At present, prices are regulated only for household users, whereas the law would permit the regulation of prices for large industrial users as well.

According to the Minister of the Economy, at present, Lithuania pays 20-30 percent less for its natural gas than other European customers. The price paid at present is about 203 USD per 1,000 cubic meters.

The Government will negotiate with Gazprom, because the regulation of prices required by the law is a violation of the contract by which Lithuania Gas was privatised.

Price increases can be expected when the current price agreement with Gazprom ends in July.

[end of my translation]

Okay, here's my two cents: this parliamentary law is a really bone-headed thing to do. Instead of being fat and happy and satisfied with paying 20-30 percent less than what other Europeans pay to Gazprom, our parliament had to go and play politics. Gazprom's plans are not knowable, but Gazprom had been pretty cooperative. For example, in a surprise move right before the New Year, Gazprom agreed to leave prices for household users basically unchanged through this July. My family uses relatively little natural gas, so we won't take a big hit, but breaking an agreement just isn't the right thing to do.

Gotta step up my efforts to get the neighbors in our building organised into an association, so we can get this Brezhnev-era building renovated. Wait 'til they see next winter's heating bills...

Hey Baltic Man

You confirm what I've been thinking, that Gazprom is much less heavy on its customers than the western press wants to make us believe.

What do you think are the chances of your government being pressured by the West to put additional pressure on Gazprom, of a political game being played over the heads of people in the area?

FRom the article
A decline in imports of natural gas from Canada may lead to higher U.S. prices this summer, said Peter Linder, an energy analyst with DeltaOne Capital Partners in Calgary.

``We're going to have the biggest decline in western Canadian production in the history of the industry,'' Linder said. ``There's going to be 400 to 600 million cubic feet a day less production from western Canada in 2007 versus 2006.''

Hmm, I recall discussing just that at the head of yesterday's drumbeat... except it will be more like 1 bcf/day.

I am currently listening to Bill McKibben , he wrote a book called, Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future

Here is a link to the book. http://www.amazon.com/Deep-Economy-Wealth-Communities-Durable/dp/0805076263

Curious if anyone has read this book and what they thought.


I'm about 2/3 of the way in. I read it as a "what's necessary". At a minimum. McKibben is in the optimistic column. About the same place I'd put Gore after watching today's testimony. There is a large dose of Vermont in the book. To the point where I have read, while he's addressed some of the sociology, he's not gotten around to looking at the dark side. It's worth buying in any case.

cfm in Gray, ME

Hello TODers,

ZIMBABWE: Govt declares drought, but says no to food aid

The most affected provinces, according to Gumbo, were Matabeleland South, Matabeleland North, Midlands and Masvingo, all in southern Zimbabwe, and Manicaland in the west.
The minority Ndebele tribe is mostly in these areas. Looks like the majority Shona tribe of Mugabe will continue the cull.

Zimbabwe's crisis 'like Titanic'

Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa has likened the current crisis in Zimbabwe to the sinking of the Titanic.
He said the country's economic difficulties were forcing its citizens to leave like passengers jumping from the sinking ship to save their lives.

An estimated 3m Zimbabweans, about a quarter of the total population, have fled the country in recent years.
Try to imagine 1/4 of the 300m US population trying to find a better place to live postPeak:


EDIT: Migration during the Great Depression

Dust storm in Spearman, Texas, April 14, 1935.With their land barren and homes foreclosed for unpayable debts, many farm families were forced to leave. The migration was drastic; 15% of the state of Oklahoma moved to California. Migrants also left farms in Kansas, Texas, and New Mexico, but all were generally referred to as "Okies." High-end estimates for the number of displaced Americans are as high as 2.5 million, but the lower value of 300,000 to 400,000 is more probable, based upon the 2.3 million population of Oklahoma at the time.

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

Hello TODers,


It will be interesting to see the updates on this chart as the year progresses. Do any climate experts predict it will turn out like the 1936 heat wave?
The 1936 North American heat wave was the most severe heat wave in the modern history of North America. It took place in the middle of the Great Depression and led to an enormous human and economic toll. The death toll exceeded 5,000 which made it the deadliest natural disaster of the 20th Century in the United States.

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


Dust storm in Spearman, Texas, April 14, 1935.With their land barren and homes foreclosed for unpayable debts, many farm families were forced to leave. The migration was drastic; 15% of the state of Oklahoma moved to California. Migrants also left farms in Kansas, Texas, and New Mexico, but all were generally referred to as "Okies." High-end estimates for the number of displaced Americans are as high as 2.5 million, but the lower value of 300,000 to 400,000 is more probable, based upon the 2.3 million population of Oklahoma at the time.

That was the year I was born Bob, and 4 years later we left after a flood on the Red River wiped out my fathers corn crop. We didn't make it to Ca. we ran out of money at Apache Junction, and wound up staying here in AZ. Been here ever sense.

"Try to imagine 1/4 of the 300m US population trying to find a better place to live postPeak:"

Ah, yes, 75,000,000 people, many probably armed with their favorite deer assault rifle, bursting across the Canadian border... There's a tragic comedy in that thought... And after Canada explodes from the overpressure, there'll be... there'll be... What? Alaska? A re-invasion of the US? The semi-frozen state, all nice, warm and toasty as atmospheric CO2 climbs far above 400 ppm, a land just awaitin’ for massive colonization. ;o)



Gore testimony in Congress (video)

"If your baby has a fever, you go to the doctor.

If the doctor says: 'You need to intervene here', you don't say: 'Well, I read a science fiction novel that tells me it's not a problem.'

If the crib's on fire, you don't speculate that the baby's flame-retardant"

A detailed, blow by blow can be found at the Grist Mill

Now if only the GW crowd can hold hands with the PO crowd and sing kumbaya ... I think Gore mentioned that energy efficiency is part of the solution

I haven't read every post so someone may have already said this, but why the hell does Germany want more coal plants? From memory they have something like 18 gigawatts of installed wind capacity, though average useful output
is more like 3 to 5 GW. They also have solar PV feed-in tariffs I believe some 3 times the average grid price per kwh. A couple of years ago a Cabinet Minister called Jurgen somebody visited Australia and lectured us on our shortcomings. No doubt he planted a handful of trees to offset his trip.

If what I'm saying is true then renewables have failed miserably. Somebody who knows the German scene should enlighten us.


Do you really believe that a few windymills and some feed in tariff PV is the soloution.

If so then folk are dimmer than I give them credit for.

Germany isn’t far off the UK in terms of power. The UK peak demand is something like 70GW. It happens every day at 5.30pm in the winter.

Tough shit if your wind turbines aren’t spinning, oh and there’ll be no sun either as its dark by 4pm in the winter.

Peak oil doesn’t scare me. Its people that think a few wind turbines can replace 8GW of installed nuclear capacity that scare me.

Germany is due to decommission its nuclear fleet in the medium term. The reality of the situation is that engineers in Germany know as well as the rest of us (engineers) that you replace nuke with king coal.

Greens arguing on the sidelines about PV and wind turbines while the utilities get on with building new coal facilities is the reality of the situation.

There is also some truth in the statement that utilities are keen to get their coal facilities built before mandatory CO2 sequestering is a requirement on new builds. Get in now and they get to keep their “grandfather rights”.

That would have been Jurgen Trittin, environment minister and Green. They are now out of power, having led the charge in the renewable energy stakes, as junior coalition partners with the Social Democrats. The SDs are now in "grand coalition" with the right. This is one explanation for the resurgence of fossil generation.

Sad to say, Boof, the other reason for the coal plants is the freeze and phasing-out of nuclear plants in Germany, also negotiated by the Greens : i.e. no new plants, and no replacement of the older ones as they are decommissioned. I'm not sure if this plan will last long.

But I don't really know the German scene.