DrumBeat: April 7, 2007

Financial Sense Newshour

A Discussion on the GAO Report: Crude Oil - Uncertainty about Future Oil supply Makes It Important to Develop a Strategy for Addressing a Peak and Decline in Oil Production. Matt Simmons is the guest.

Pioneering Welsh town begins the transition to a life without oil

There is, as the ads say, no Plan B. The age of cheap oil is drawing to a close, climate change already threatens, and politicians dither. But the people of Lampeter, a small community in the middle of rural Wales, gathered together earlier this week to mobilise for a new war effort. They decided to plan their "energy descent".

Energy Crossroads: A burning need to change course - a documentary about peak oil and climate change

Peak Moment Television presents five new online videos

Moment Television has produced five new online videos focusing on community localization topics from local currency to electric cars, plus a conversation with Richard Heinberg.

Russia dismisses ‘gas Opec’ suggestions at Doha meeting

Russia’s energy minister yesterday poured scorn on suggestions that gas exporters would announce a “gas Opec” at a meeting in Doha next week, pledging that Russia would never take part in such an organisation.

US repeats opposition to Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline

The United States says it is ready to help Pakistan get over its energy crisis through "financial and technical support", but remains opposed to the $7-billion Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline project to bring gas to the Indian sub-continent.

Tajikistan: Subsidies for the Poor Go up

The Tajik government has vowed to continue offering gas and electricity subsidies to low-income families, but NBCentralAsia observers say it will not make much difference if energy supplies continue to be erratic.

Bangladesh - Energy crisis: Contemplating some possible way-out

Bangladesh, geographically, is one of the smallest as well as densely populated countries in the world. Nonetheless, it is blessed with natural resources like coal and gas that are of prime importance as raw materials for electricity generation. Nation's economic emancipation greatly depends on the development and use of these energy sources.

Kenya: State Oil Firm to Ferry Products By Road

Government has allowed oil market to transport petroleum products by road from Kipevu Oil Storage Facility in Mombasa to stem fuel shortage upcountry.

Due to limited capacity of Mombasa-Nairobi pipeline, release of petroleum products from the storage has failed to meet demand leading to shortage around the country.

Turkey suspends pipeline talks with GDF, says decision not final

Turkey has suspended talks with Gaz de France (GDF) over the proposed acquisition by the French group of a stake in a major gas pipeline project, but the decision is not final, a foreign ministry official said Friday.

China and Japan struggle to narrow energy divide

China and Japan have bathed their bruised ties with soothing rhetoric ahead of a visit by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, but they remain far apart in settling energy disputes that dog the relationship.

Sri Lanka: Work on Upper Kotmale second phase begins

Minister Seneviratne said that the project would be one of the two options available to face a possible power crisis in the near future, the other being the Norochcholai Coal Power Plant which would be fully operated by 2012 adding 900 MW to the national grid.

Guatemala entices Indian oil PSUs

The government wants state-run oil companies Indian Oil, Hindustan Petroleum and Bharat Petroleum to participate in a refinery-cum-power project in Guatemala.

Ghana: Energy cost bites industry hard

Despite the obvious increase in the cost of production of most local manufacturing companies due to the load shedding exercise, they are scared to increase the prices of their goods to absolve the additional cost.

Australia already on the 'downside' of Peak Oil

Australia has already peaked as an oil producer, MGSM Professor John Mathews said today. But the continued emphasis on fossil fuels – attempts at discovery and further infrastructure investment – mean that Australian companies are missing out on important business opportunities in renewable energies and biofuels.

Ottawa set to announce 'mandatory' pollution cuts

Ottawa is set to announce stricter limits on greenhouse gas emissions following the release of a UN report that warned climate change will have a grim impact this century, the environment minister said Friday.

Forecaster blasts Gore on global warming

A top hurricane forecaster called Al Gore "a gross alarmist" Friday for making an Oscar-winning documentary about global warming.

"He's one of these guys that preaches the end of the world type of things. I think he's doing a great disservice and he doesn't know what he's talking about," Dr. William Gray said in an interview with The Associated Press at the National Hurricane Conference in New Orleans, where he delivered the closing speech.

Climate refugees -- the growing army without a name

"According to some estimates, there are already almost as many environmentally displaced people on the planet as traditional refugees," said Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

"As the impacts of climate change strike home, the numbers are likely to rise considerably, possibly as high as 50 million by 2010," de Boer said on Friday on the sidelines of a meeting in Brussels of the UN's top climate panel.

Jeb Bush part of global trio touting ethanol

An unlikely international trio is making the biofuels pitch for Latin America by taking on Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez, and attacking U.S. tariffs on ethanol.

Peak Coal and Mountaintop Removal

Lucky for us: There may not be as much coal left as the industry has claimed.

John Edwards embraces enviro politics, a little too warmly

Sure everyone loves to drive, and it would be political suicide to say what really needs to be done -- bring an end to the automobile's dominance of transportation. But at least Edwards could avoid singing the praises of the SUV, if not the car itself. Why can't someone call for a resurrection of passenger rail in this country. James Kunstler suggests that restoring America's once glorious rail era ("we used to have a passenger rail network that was the envy of the world, now it would shame Bulgaria") would go a long way toward boosting the nation's confidence in our ability to reshape the country along environmental lines. And he's right. "A Better Amtrak" isn't exactly a winner of a campaign slogan, but I'm sure Edwards' people could come up with something.

Refiners boosting diesel fuel output in chase of profits - Usage growth rate outpacing gasoline

Rising global demand for diesel is reshaping the U.S. oil refining industry.

While most U.S. motorists pay scant attention to the high price of the trucking fuel when filling up their cars with gasoline, refiners have taken note and are moving to boost capacity for the production of diesel. With long-distance freight hauling increasing steadily in the U.S., and diesel consumption in Europe and Asia growing even faster, fuel producers are looking to diesel for profit growth as the race to supply the U.S. gasoline market gets more competitive.

As population grows, so does responsibility

That's why we're looking at coal, a readily available, relatively inexpensive fuel source that can be used cleanly and safely to generate electricity with new technology that is transforming the industry. The proposed FPL Glades Power Park will be one of the cleanest coal plants in the world.

Fixing Iraq

The amount of money spent on reconstruction is not at all trifling. It is equal or greater than the money in inflation-adjusted dollars spent by the United States on restoring post-Nazi Europe under the Marshall Plan. There are, of course, clear differences between the Iraqi and German experience, as there was less violence and the Europeans were allowed to plan their own reconstruction. The grant money was spent on local companies, not U.S. companies. Most of the money went to fertilizer, food, fuel, raw materials, and semi-manufactured products, not for gigantic building projects.

Asphalt Price Pleases Springdale Official

John Reeves, owner of Asphalt and Fuel Supply in Tulsa, Okla., said suppliers and users of asphalt products stocked up at the end of 2006, pushing the price artificially higher. The supply and price of oil products remained better than expected.

"It was a false shortage," Reeves said. "People bought too much and the demand has decreased."

No Time to Lose

According to our best, most realistic estimates, here’s how things stand globally:

Oil: peaking some time in the next three years, possibly already past the peak.

Gas: peaking some time in the next three to thirteen years.

Coal: peaking some time in the next thirteen years.

Nuclear: probably peaking some time in the next ten years, with lots of variables, but its use won’t increase substantially.

A question on Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel - I have read comments that it has less BTU energy per unit volume (?) than the older formulation, and that it is closer to #1 diesel. Can anyone verify this? The comment I read said it was 1/4 fewer BTUs, and this would be significant. You would think it would have to increase fuel consumption if true.

Sulfur is actually a fairly decent fuel (minor pollution problem with the exhaust, but if the price is right ...)

I am not sure which has more specific energy per volume; sulfur or diesel. but Road diesel in the US has been limited to 0.5% sulfur for over a decade. So the delta from 0.5% to 0.015% sulfur cannot be large.

The most common way to remove sulfur (AFAIK) is to bubble hydrogen through it, creating H2S (rotten egg gas). This also reacts with some few oil molecules and tends to shorten them (shorter > less dense > less energy/volume). A minor effect other than a reduction in lubrication. (#1 diesel has very low lubrication). Additives are supposed to bring the lubrication back up to "acceptable" levels.

I add a cetane improver to my 1982 M-B 240D :-) which also improves lubrication.

I could believe a 1% reduction in specific energy/volume (don't know) but not more.

Best Hopes,


Alan, the acetane improver do you have a brand name? My r-hand man here handed me a bootle of a fuel additive that is supposed to give @20% increased fuel economy and only adds 3% to the price per gallon. I want to research this as the economics play out very well for our trucks.
I also use slick 50 oil additive which I think saved my engine during a oil loss where I had to drive 8 mi. with intermittent oil pressure.
Thanks D

I use by "Diesel Kleen Cetane Boost" by Power Service.

From memory, Walmart claims slightly over a 1% gain in fuel economy from diesel fuel additives. If you have a fleet, trying to talk to one of their truck manahers. etc. would be a good idea.

Checking tire pressure alos helps, as well as synthetic lubricants (everything from wheel grease to differential fluid to transmission fluid is WELL worth it given small volumes and long life. Engine oil is questionable).

Also, just cleaning dirt off and waxing helps !

Best Hopes,


It's actually 500 ppm (so called low sulfur diesel) or 0.05% to 15 ppm for ULSD (0.0015%). I have not noticed any mileage differences between LSD and ULSD, although I do see a ~5-6% (2-3 mpg) hit going from (U)LSD to bio. Bio has about 10% lower energy density than diesel, but significantly higher cetane and better lubricity.

Keep in mind that production of ultra-low-sulfur diesel also requires a bunch of natural gas, to produce hydrogen, to remove the sulfur. In other words, more energy invested per BTU delivered.

Re: Kenya

I wonder how much fuel they'll be able to get to Nairobi and Kisumu by road. The roads are pretty bad and those big trucks drive slowly. I would guess that it would take one of those trucks about 14 hours from Mombasa on the coast to Nairobi. And then another 10 hours to get to Kisumu. Those are probably conservative estimates.

It's strange to hear of these shortages. There weren't any problems when I was there about a year and half ago, though people were beginning to question why the price of oil was going up. The only answer at the time was "stronger demand from China".

Toronto Plans 60+ km of Light Rail over 15 Years !

Toronto city officials have announced a $6 billion dollar plan to build an ambitious light rapid transit network that will include seven rail lines that will crisscross the city.

"No Torontonian should be disadvantaged because they don't own a car," TTC chairman Adam Giambrone said on Friday. "Everybody should be able to get to every corner of the city."

Giambrone says the 15-year plan would cost the city about $400 million each year. The seven rail lines would include about 120 kilometres of track... 250 Light Rail Vehicles...


This, in addition to an excellent streetcar system and a couple of subways.

I guess this means less tar sands oil for them and more for the US ! :-P

Best Hopes,


with regards to the Campaign Slogan that was NOT recommended for John Edwards, 'A New Amtrak', or some such.. Have you heard or do you have a proposed business model to counter the attitudes around Amtrak's current (possibly perceived..) systemic problems, and the Monopolistic abuses of earlier railway companies, both of which seem to effectively make Rail such an unattractive option for a broad swath of people across the political spectrum?

It is such a massive piece of infrastructure, what are some useful models possibly from around the world that can make the development of a lot of rail into a healthy part of the system, without the glint of 'inappropriate levels of Gov't Buraucracy' or Corporate Monopoly?

Bob Fiske

The Interurban, Bob. The Portland Railroads. There was a whole slew of private and municipal transportation companies right here in Maine.

One of the things that would be useful would be legislation tailored specifically to encourage muni or community trusts for transportation, food, manufacturing. Massachusetts did something along the lines of enabling communities to come up with their own "utility standard offer". That being noted, it could also be done within the corporate charter - various restrictions on ownership, etc.... But doing it through the legislative process to charter these trusts like the old Blues is probably more robust. Ownership must stay in the community.

cfm in Gray, ME

I'll have to read up on the Portland systems. It would probably be feasible to run a commuter (w/freight?) line from Portland to Augusta, considering the professional traffic between them, too.


Hi i am from Serbia and first just want to apologize for my weird English.
I learned it from movies as a kid.
I want to give a proposal. We live in world of economics for hundreds of years and it matters in ours everyday lives. Price off oil achieved its anti peak in 1998, 8 dollars per barell, my country was at that moment at war with world so i didn't got it, but seems to me that economy was at its highest point at that time. I believe we are on downslope ever since. It makes sense, money is what aloud s you to buy more and more toys, all made from plastic, metal, and lots of fossil fuel consumed energy don't forget that much more than half of produced fuel is used in industry. So when the price jumps so does products, it cost more to produce as simple as that. So we are in effective peak oil scenario all the way back to 1998. its almost ten years sins it hit. Flow dosent mater, its a mater of money sorry for this “Cornucopian” point of view but i just wanted to point out this fact.
I think we are headed towards economic crash caused by high oil price stress.
After that?
Probably a die off.
How strange this new land would be, high unemployment, homeless people and more and more cops at the streets. Violent clashes with police, looting and then nothing. Food will be gone in just a few days, hunger is very strong motivation.
Happy holidays from Serbia and sorry again for my poor English.

Hi sorry to be off topic .


This is the latest UN Global Climate change report.

BTW rale, don't worry about weird English, I love it that's why i cum here now. 8$ oil? I couldn't remember it but it sure looks low on this graph at that time even in current dollars:


I also don't think your cornucopian idea of die off misplaced, as I am sure the planet will, at days end, not become Venusian.

Ok my bad.
The price was 12.72$ in 1998 dollars, value is around 15$ for inflation adjusted price. 8$ was in 1864 (100$ in new dollars). Data comes from “BP Statistical Review of World Energy June 2006”
And if i remember Clinton's era is marked as a “good years” and it was a time of budget sufficit in US.
If you are interested for totally destroyed country by lack of fuel (and any imported goods) you could check the last 15 years of Serbia's history. In the beginning of 1992 (may) the security council voted for complete ban of any economic activity with the outside world (like Cuba only worse). Only oil we had was here in Vojvodina, the place i live. The regime choose d to show the world how smart we are, that one system with population of 10 000 000 (Bosnian Serbs include t) can create a economic miracle. Miloshevic claimed that this is just a minor difficulty on our way to Swedish standard. They planed to do this by printing money and giving it to industry in order to push-start the economy. Result was the greatest inflashion ever recorded. With a aide of new printing press we managed to become nation of billionaires. It was a joke, you res eve a pay which you must change in anything solid, if you are quick you can get 80 DM. After few days the value was 5 marks or less. Petrol was bought on the streets, in plastic bottles. It was officially illegal to do this but those who were on black market helped life to continue. I don't know how much oil we had in those days, maybe less than a half normal.
We now live normal, more or less. But im afraid that soon there would be another crisis. This time there wont be food from international aide agencies and times would be very easter islands type. That is what bugs me. This is die off im a fraid.
About climate, when we stop with pollution nature would return in its full glory in short time. Maybe different but healthy.

Rale, I think the price of oil bottomed in 1999 at $10/barrel. And I don't think the global economy has been going down since. It depends on where you live. The Indian and Chinese middle classes have never had it better. But in general I think you are right. As oil becomes more and more expensive and scarce, life will get harder.

Skipping the details, and from my semi - knowledge, that all makes sense, and makes an important point.

Ppl tend to forget the break up of Yugoslavia, its media and ‘military’ success, and the economic and energetic consequences for the ppl who live there, the intertwining of sanctions, war, invasion, and ‘oil’ as well as wider political considerations such as the extension of the EU and NATO (indirectly to be sure.)

It is never quoted as an example (in the mainstream) except as a success for Clintonian foreign policy (to make it short.)


My USE of English is pretty bad, as I was criticizing my poor memory about the value of oil in 1998 and not your figures, and I agree with you... when we stop with pollution nature would return in its full glory in short time. Maybe different but healthy. and I would like to hear what you have to say on that subject.

We tend to drink our own bath water here, so something fresh from you would be great.


Thanks for posting. I think a lot of us are worried about the same things you are. The higher prices of oil are starting have already started to hit some of the poorer countries, but it is likely that the richer countries will be feeling the effects in not too long as well.

None of us have found complete solutions to the problems. But we are trying to look for things that would help such as local food production in sustainable ways. We can also try to find things to be happy about now - our friends, our families, ways we can help ourselves and others, favorable weather.

Even if we cannot solve the problems, we can at least focus our thoughts in ways that don't make us depressed now.

Hello Rale, your english is good. You even spelled 'weird' right which most english speakers get wrong.

Could you provide evidence that the world economy peaked in 1998 as you say? I believe the world economy has grown significantly since then. For instance, many people in Asia and Eastern Europe have more money and better economies now than then.

Hi Keith,

Even if the economy has increased, so has the population as well as upward flow of capital and resources. It's just an old standard tune being played, the rich get richer and the poor?, well who cares.

I don't think there can be any solution to our problems until there is some equality,or at least the attempt at it, do you?

Probably a die off.

Serbia probably has the skills and experience to survive any social disruption, as this photo of the Arkans mobile die-off unit at work shows. Note the cool sunglasses & the cigarette. The dead woman was pregnant by the way.

Sebian Arkans unit having fun

I find this offensive. Could it be removed?

Yes it could Gail, by a redistribution of wealth.

Sorry about going all political.


I find it disturbing but having it removed is akin to having pictures of the concentration camps removed from sites that discuss World War II.

Having it removed is "wrong" on multiple levels, imho.

I too find this incident offensive.

The image has haunted me ever since I saw it some years ago,

We sometimes need reminders ... especially in forums which discuss "Die Off" like it was a casual walk in the park.

I find this offensive.

Yeah! So?

Gail...if you use Firefox and Ad-Block, you can block any image with a click.

When unemployment reach some 50% you have plenty of people with nothing to loose and loot to have. The fact they claimed its for good of Serbian nation dosent make them any less criminal they are. Most people here were normal, non warrior type. They were the victims of insane nationalism brought by incompetent dictators who cared only about power and nothing else.
In extreme situation people do extreme tings.
Peak oils effects could very well lai hand in hand with far right or far left, it would be great opportunity for extremist to gain foot in wider public, only need to claim that Mexicans did it (remember Germany in 30-s).

What is your opinion on the regime changes in the decade after '89? How did the different regimes compare? Where there certain keypoints where (identifiably) wrong or right choices have been made?

The United States may be different in certain respects with regards toward industry. Most industry in the US is powered by electricity and very little of our electricity is fueled by oil. It is just a guess but I once heard that 1/2 of our rail and truck traffic is for transporting food which would mean 1/2 of our diesel fuel is used to transport food. Biodiesel has a much better EROEI than ethanol plus creating producing diesel fuel from waste materials via thermal processes is much easier than producing a gasoline substitute.
Some areas of the US have had high levels of unemployment and homelessness for decades and riots are still quite rare. What few riots we've had were usually instigated by police incompetence. Unlike civilized countries the police in the US are mostly financed on the local level. This means the police forces don't pay enough to attract the enough people of the higher intelligence level needed for the job. Therefore areas with high unemployment and homelessness have fewer policemen per capita than the rich suburbs. Ironically areas with high levels of homelessness usually have higher levels of empty dwellings. Its all about ability to pay in America despite what the Country Club Cry-babies say about this being a welfare state.

Hello Rale! Welcome to The Oil Drum! Don't worry about your English, I'm sure very few Americans can do as well as you writing Serbian or any other European language.
I also believe that most people do not care about the actual date of peak oil production, but instead care about the price to them of the products that they use and the availability. Although I see a die off as not very likely, you can find many people who hold your views on William Kunstler's website dieoff.com.

I am curious how you found The Oil Drum. Were you referred by another person, did you find us through a search engine? Also, how old are you, what is your occupation?
I am 55, I work in oil and gas exploration in the United States, I was referred to the site by an old friend who is in oil and gas exploration and was one of the founders of ASPO USA.

Saw this report/analysis by Juan Cole in today's Informed Comment. May affect the oil markets soon.

The Rumayla fields have 500 wellheads and produce most of the 1.8 million barrels a day of petroleum that currently support the Iraqi economy. The northern Kirkuk fields most often cannot export at all, because the pipeline to Ceyhan in Turkey constantly gets blown up by Sunni Arab guerrillas. If the Rumayla pipelines start being routinely targeted by Shiite militiamen in the south, it might spell the end of the Iraqi government of Nuri al-Maliki. It is not as if the government takes in much revenue from taxes, or has any great prospect of doing so. This pipeline bombing has been little noticed, but it is very important if it signals the beginning of a series of such attacks.


So we should watch for a further decrease of "Saudi" oil output as a result? :-)

We may want to quibble a little with the details, but Chris Nelder in Energy and Capital pretty much sums our plight in No Time to Lose above. Perhaps things will be somewhat better than he says, but what he is saying is certainly a possible outcome. Also, he doesn't include in his list fresh water shortages and climate change. These may further add to our problems.

I wonder if this kind of message now will start filtering out - first on the internet, then into mainstream media. It is easy to get worried.

Hi Gail,

I do not know where Chris Nelder gets his information nuclear from, as he doesnt say, but here are three sites and a statement by someone who, as well, I have never heard of before.

The effort made thus far in uranium exploration is absolutely negligible compared to the many hundreds of billions (trillions?) of dollars that has been invested in oil and gas exploration, technology development, and extraction, etc… As the history of oil and gas shows, as these investments are made, more and more reserves are found. As discussed earlier, we stopped exploring for new uranium deposits relatively soon after we started looking, since we rapidly found “all we need”, due to sluggish nuclear expansion and the glut of uranium from decommissioned weapons. Now, even the majority of known sites and mines lay idle due to the low ore price (although this is starting to change James Hopf, Nuclear Engineer




I think there could be a little more openness about nuclear power. There are not all that many options open, other than a good and bloody die off for a cure, are there?

I agree the nuclear part of his analysis may quite possibly be overstated.

But it is difficult to be hugely optimistic about nuclear. I understand that quite a few nuclear facilities now are sufficiently aged that we need to be talking about replacing them. If we have to both replace old facilities and add new, there will be a huge amount of investment involved - at a time when both oil and natural gas are likely to become less plentiful, so everything is becoming more difficult.

There are also the issues of waste disposal and of safety, if we are living in a world that is quite different than today.

I understand that quite a few nuclear facilities now are sufficiently aged that we need to be talking about replacing them.

IIUC, the major problems are neutron embrittlement of the reactor vessels and corrosion of the steam generators (in PWR's).  Annealing the vessels will give them decades of additional life, and the steam generators aren't overly complex (tube-in-shell, I believe) and can be replaced or perhaps rebuilt.

If we have to both replace old facilities and add new, there will be a huge amount of investment involved

You will not have to replace:

  • Reactor buildings.
  • Control rooms.
  • Turbines.
  • Condensers.
  • Backup generators.

If we can even get a couple more decades out of a plant by refurbishing it, that's a whole 5 units a year required to keep them all going.

There are also the issues of waste disposal and of safety

If the climatologists are right, the arid zones are going to get even more so for quite a while.  We could park the high-level waste in dry casks in Nevada for a couple of centuries and not have to worry about it; the only thing to disturb it would be us.

More than overstated, the nuclear analysis was completely mistaken. We have debated this frequently in other threads on this site. There are people who just want to believe nuclear has no future and are spreading all kinds of disinformation about it. The best information I have seen seems to suggest that current nuclear plants have EROEIs of about 100 and that there is about one trillion tons of recoverable Uranium in the world's shallow crust (each reactor needs 200 tons/yr), enough for at least thousands of years at dramatically increased levels of usage. If we wanted to and were willing to make the investment, we could supply most of the world's energy from nuclear, indefinitely. The waste issue and the other frequently stated objections the critics throw out are much less real problems than the critics would have you believe.

For some reason there is this intense aversion to fission that to me defies logic and my understanding. It's as if people want to have this huge die-off to return the world to some sort of imagined bucolic agricultural state and they see the prospects of nuclear ruining their plans. They seem completely blind to how the catastrophe of a massive die-off would wreck the world. Imagine that picture you objected to above repeated billions of times around the world in the near future.

Actually I'm more worried about food than electricity.

Sterling. as an engineer I say- right, everything you say is probably true- but then I start to think as an ordinary human being and say to myself- well, if I had some money and wanted to get some energy, wouldn't I get more for less, and more quickly, by simply wasting less? And then there's all the easy stuff one can do with solar and natural swings of temp, like for example, summer water heating, and winter food cooling.

What could more stupid than using a nuke to run a fridge inside a warm house when it is frigid outside?

Right, using coal to run a fridge when it is frigid outside would be even more stupid. So?

Ah, well. Every time I go around this circle I come to the same point-just make the price of energy reflect the full true cost, and all will be well. So, for example, that coal kilowatt hour will cost maybe 4 times as much- at least- as the cost of that little heat pipe connecting the fridge to the winter blasts.

Anyhow, I am having a lot of fun thinking up a great solar power widget that is gonna save humanity. But then I get to wondering if humanity is what I want to save. Problems. Problems.

What could more stupid than using a nuke to run a fridge inside a warm house when it is frigid outside?

If you think about this for a second, as an engineer, its not stupid at all; Especially if the house uses electric heat to begin with.

Sorry to be late to the party. I just discovered this thread.
My unhopeful forecast for nuclear energy is not because I "just want to believe nuclear has no future" or due to an "intense aversion to fission." It's because I've looked at some data and considered the practical realities of nuke plants and concluded that it's just not much of an answer to the peak oil problem. It's certainly no panacea.

As I have replied to Sterling in private email, regarding http://www.theoildrum.com/node/2323:

I spent several hours reading most of that thread and the comments, and what I learned from it is that there is a great deal of debate without much in the way of peer-reviewed data. The two ends of the debate are too far apart for me to figure out exactly what I think is probable, at this point. In particular I'm extremely suspicious about the data offered for the true costs (and CO2 emissions) of plant construction and decommissioning, since historically those costs have been foisted onto the public and not paid by the plant operators. But I will continue researching it.

However I did do some research on the topic before I wrote that article, believe it or not. Here's one source I consulted:

At any rate, even if the energetics of the fuel actually work out, and even if there are ample supplies of available fuel, and even if we either solve the waste storage problem and/or find a way to make breeder reactors and reprocessing really work at scale, and even if we somehow overcome
NIMBYism...even if we do all of those things, the sheer numbers of plants we'd have to build to compensate for the energy loss from fossil fuels just beggars belief that it will ever happen.

To borrow from a blog poster:

Nukes provide less than 4% of our energy in the US.
[that's the equivalent of 100+ nuke plants for the US.]

And that's not just building only 100+ nukes.

That's putting into operation 100+ nukes each and every year at a 2% growth

This is only to make up for oil loss at the Plateau. This is only to continue 2% energy growth.

If we want to make up for depletion then we need even more.

So if oil production is flat now, then:

1. in 2008, 100+ brand new nukes have to go online.
2. in 2009, 100+ brand new nukes have to go online.
3. in 2010, 100+ brand new nukes have to go online.
4. Continue.

This isn't about adding them one. We have complete over 100 projects every year.

A 1% loss in oil imports in the US equals the capacity of over 50 nuclear power plants.

Consumption table in nuke units:

1. Oil = 2020 nukes

2. Natural Gas = 1130

3. Coal = 1140

4290 nukes in all are needed to replace fossil fuels today. Next year it'll be 4390...


Therefore I do not believe that nuclear energy, as a practical matter, will ever be a major factor in compensating for peak oil/gas/coal.

BTW, in all of the major studies that I have read on peak energy, published by the likes of the DOE, GAO, EIA, Hirsch & Bezdek, etc., none of them imagines nuclear to be a major part of the solution to energy depletion in the future. I can only assume there are good reasons for that, beyond all of them being misled by bad data.

I will continue to research what nuclear might be able to do for us. Personally, I'm still very uncomfortable with the waste issue. If we can crack the nut of feasible, scalable, reprocessing/reuse/burning, I might feel differently about it. But not until then.
My best assessment as things stand today is that we simply must decrease demand. It's the only sensible way. I just don't think it's tenable to build that many reactors...or substitute that much of anything, really. As far as I'm concerned, the name of the game going forward is depopulation and conservation.

--Chris Nelder

Energy consultant, writer, blogger GetRealList

Re. "No time to loose"

..wanted to chip in about water here..

This brief and alarmist article from the BBC discusses water scarcity and picks out some elements of the Water Management for Agriculture report of 2006.


As can be seen, they distinguish between physical water scarcity (ex. a strip along N. Africa) and economic water scarcity - places where water is potentially available but where the infrastructure is lacking, as it is too expensive to install. We have all seen on the TV some humanitarians digging wells and providing an African village with water, and hopefully, with the tools, materiel, and expertise to keep it coming.

Little black children cheer, laugh, and splash... women need not any longer walk 5 miles...etc. But it doesn’t happen often, is publicized when it does, and is never a large scale operation. Unsurprisingly, these ‘economic scarcity’ areas are all in Africa. In short, a large part of the world does have water, but not the means to pump it; other parts waste a lot.

I realise all is more complicated than that; I just wanted to point out that Africa, as usual, is forgotten, or dismissed as ‘hopeless’ either thru political considerations or because of mythical geo-climatological stuff, ‘drought’, etc. Of course there is drought if you are dependent on rain, ask any Swiss or US farmer.


Not to reduce the plight of the people in Africa, but Florida, and of course other US costal states and in the southwest US if they don't get more rain and snow over the next 5-10 years,will very soon faces severe economic water scarcity-I would say physical, and in many places that will be true as wells dry up and salt out, but water is always available near the ocean..if you just pay to get the salt out.
In Tampa they have had a desalination plant that wasn't used much for years because of the high cost of treatment and the maintenance issues they had. It's currently undergoing 'remediation' and is expected to reopen this Spring...it's also right next to a power plant (coal I believe) in Apollo Beach.


New Matt Simmons Interview

It was mentioned late yesterday by Beyond Oil.

Matt Simmons mentions the discussion about Ghawar that is taking place here in the hourlong interview Oil Drum in this latest Financial news hour audio. In fact this is the only website he mentions specifically in the interview .
The other alarming thing he says is Canterell could deplete completely in five years.


The interview basically contains lots of stuff that I'm basically not sure I've heard him say elsewhere. Basically worth a listen.

Here is a quotation from the interview where basically Simmons mentions The Oil Drum :

Simmons: Moreover there are now a growing number of oil sleuths who are plumbing through ... I don't know if you have ever gone on The Oil Drum which is the most sophisticated oil blog on the internet...[Puplava: Sure do.].. They have had some fabulous exchanges of guys who have basically gone back and lined up all the right data you can get on these new fields that came on in Saudi Arabia and the fact that they basically didn't increase production. They did come on. So what we don't know is: Where is Ghawar today? Is it basically under 4? Is it under 3? We don't have any idea. Is Saudi Arabia producing 9 or producing 8? We don't have any idea. What they say is they have 11 mbpd of productive capacity but if we have oil prices up in the 80...90... 100 $/barrel this summer because we have too high demand, they are going to look awfully silly if they basically say "Oh, we have 11 mbpd capacity but no one wants our oil".

Ya beat me to it! Here's my transcript, from minute 16:40,

PUPLAVA: One of the things that I think should get more coverage in the press, one thing that strikes me, despite spending tens of billions of dollars in Saudi Arabia, they've been unable to really increase their production.

SIMMONS: Moreover, there are now a growing number of oil sleuths who are plumbing through -- I don't know if you've ever gone on The Oil Drum, which is the most sophisticated energy blog on the internet--

PUPLAVA: Sure do.

SIMMONS: They've had some fabulous exchanges of guys that are basically gone back and lined up all the right data you can get on these new fields that came on in Saudi Arabia, and the fact that they didn't basically increase production. They did come on. So what we don't know is where is Ghawar today in its production. Is it basically under four or is it under three? We don't have any idea. Is Saudi Arabia producing nine or eight? We don't have any idea. What they say is that they have 11 million barrels a day of productive capacity. And if we have oil prices up in the 80-90-100 dollars a barrel this summer because we have too high demand, they're going to look awfully silly if they basically say, "Oh, we have 11 million barrels a day, but no one wants our oil."

How much did Iraq's production go up and down month to month over the last couple of years again?

How much did Iraq REALLY produce, How much did SA REALLY produce?

Robbing Peter to Pay Paul??

Having just listened to this interview, one could fairly say that Simmons is an 'alarmist.' Here at TOD, alarmists are not considered cool. Just yesterday, our Drumbeat Editor, got this tossed at her by Euan Mearns.

I got a lot better things to do with my time that (sic) sit here to be insulted by the likes of you.

Have the site to yourself and wallow in doom!

Simmons has said that Jim Kuntsler could turn out to be an optimist. How come Simmons gets cut so much slack?

My theory is that the culture of TOD is dominated by scientists and engineers. This is not necessarily bad, but it does have implications. It seems to me that problems that cannot be treated quantifiable means are held in disdain. The same is true for those who speak from the opposite source of knowledge: intuition.

This means that some of the most important areas of the PO debate -- the implications -- are treated with the least amount of rigor. Is it because rigor is just not possible?

I've been really puzzled by the amount of effort that Euan and Robert put into trying to rebut the near term Peak Oil case.

Might have something to do with them not looking for any excuse whatsoever to barricade themselves in a Texas compound.

Well, the simplest explanation is that they believe it. Although RR, as I recall, claims that he is rebutting the certainty around the near term peak as opposed to its possibility.

But what I am trying to address is that we have a depleted debate around the implications of peak oil. We basically have the The Alarmed talking to each other, and the Numbers People who don't bother to go very far into the discussion. SS has done some work on this, as I recall. The weakness that the Numbers People have in the issue of addressing the implications is that they don't have a methodology that can address complex, chaotic systems. Therefore, any discussion at all is around addressing narrowly defined problems--or nothing at all.

To give an example, I took a hike up the mountainside just outside of town. I stopped to rest and as a kind of goofy activity my wife just rolls her eyes at, I began rolling pine cones down the mountainside. Pretty soon I was fascinated by the various routes the pine cones took. I picked a spot where I wanted the pine cones to end up just as an experiment. Of course, I could come nowhere close after 30 or so attempts. I tossed one last cone and started to walk away giving up. I paused to see that that one cone came very close to its target.

That's how I see the consequences of PO. There are so many variables coupled with the unexpected, that precise prediction is impossible. One thing for sure, the pine cones rolled downhill every time. My own guts tell me that things will range from bad to catastrophe. That is a very wide range indeed.

I guess my point is that I wish the discussion around the implications of PO were more robust here at the Oil Drum.

I have written an article for Contingencies magazine titled, "Our Finite World: Implications for Actuaries". This talks quite a bit about some of the financial implications of peak oil and peak gas. This is the lead article for the May/June issue, which I expect will be published on the internet around May 1 and in hard copy a little later.

Perhaps I can write something for The Oil Drum about that article close to that time, and link to the article for those who are interested.

Hello GTA,

Please, give us an alert when this is available. I suppose you can't sneak it on to TOD first? I will be interested to see how you will treat this from your perspective.

Yes, please do link us. I would be very interested in reading this. Thanks very much.

Dear Sam,

The problem is, it's really difficult to look into the future with any degree of certainty. The implications for society, the world, in relation to Peak Oil are enormuous.

Clearly, with the fuzzy data we have on even one oil field in Saudi Arabia, predicting Ghawar's future is not easy.

Now that's just one field. Trying to speculate about the impact of the effects of many fields in different parts of the world beginning to decline/crash, is like multiplying the difficulties with Ghawar by a thousand! So we'll really be out on a limb. One coul say almost anything, and the darkest, gloomiest prediction/speculation could well be the most popular and at the same time the most wrong.

I, for example, still think there's time to mitigate Peak Oil. I choose to believe we can face the challange in a civilized fashion, if we utilize the very best in our culture. I choose to live and think as an optimist, mainly because I don't see what good pessimism does. I just find it easier to get up in the morning believing in the best in mankind. I also have children. It's hard to look at them and emotionally accept that we could be heading for barbarism.

Hello writerman,

I am a card carrying pessimist. When I think of PO, I take present trends of centralization of economic power, the growing nativism in the US, increased abuses power of the military/intelligence centers, the growing trend toward private, corporate militaries, and more. My feared future world is one in which Blackwater USA allies with various economic and theocratic interests to enforce their version of order. The alleged "goodness of humanity" is in little evidence these days. They will provide the Arkan-services if we are not pro-active.

Planning for PO means planning for the social disruptions that will surely happen. The people who stand to 'gain' from this coming catastrophe are the very ones who need to be kept from power.

But having shot off my mouth, I am still advocating and hoping that people with actual expertise will emerge to work these issues in a more knowledgeable way.

Planning for PO means planning for the social disruptions that will surely happen.

Yes, those of us with the inclination and means to do so have already built our lifeboats and cast off. Seeing as it is still business as usual, with adequate food in most of the world and the financial system still working, others can still plan. But this is not that kind of site, Matt Savinar's site and forum is the place for that:


Yosemite Sam,

You ask for a more robust discussion, after explaining that there are too many unknown variables to have that discussion?

Our present religion is science. The belief that science is good and beneficial is so strong and omnipresent, it's useless to even try and question it. If you would try to point out that science has produced many things detrimental to us, the response would be that that is our fault, not that of science. It's as untouchable as any worshipped entity. And just as millions of people have been and will be killed in the name of a peaceloving god, so our beneficial science will cause the death of billions. As in any religion, priests are trained to speak in languages incomprehensible to those not in daily contact with the deity. And as in any religion, some questions are taboo. Never doubt the deity,

The final blow is shaping up as we speak, and this site has plenty examples of that: large groups of people believe that science can save them, by solving both energy issues and climate problems.

And it's no use trying to warn them that you can't solve problems with the same exact tools that got you into trouble in the first place. What makes science such a pervasive religion is the fact that everyone denies it's a religion at all.

Of course, you might argue that we have strayed far from what science should be: a balanced weighing of evidence. We presently interpret it differently: we want 100% proof that something is true, even if that means we get killed while looking for the last 10%. In that sense science is like democracy and free markets: theoretical assumptions, never tested in practice.

This is all with regards to what we call exact science, Economics and other social sciences are even worse, of course. Freud and Jung are the most influential people of the 20th century, but how many people know why the ad on TV says what it says? What shapes the politics and speeches of Clinton and Bush? If you manage to convince people that they’re smart, you can do with them what you will.

The focus here is indeed skewed towards predicting The Peak. Which hardly seems the most pressing issue at hand. Once that's done, the site can close, (it never developed a model for other issues), just as the problems begin. The self-nominated smarter part of our population fills its time with calculating how many fluorescent lightbulbs they can theoretically run on a cowfart, and then it stops.

Moreover, there are so many postings about science based answers to the peak, such as ethanol, electric cars, trams and trains, that you would have to wonder what a discussion focused on what to do once the peak has passed would look like.

For instance, all these proposed solutions require huge amounts of money. Whether that will be available is ignored. This would seem to indicate that no science is needed to save us from financial trouble: the debt pays itself. Posts about fianaces are seen by many as off-topic.

Most people, both here and in the outside world, are "a bit" clueless when it comes to life after peak. We have grown up being taught ad nauseum that we are smart (look at all the gadgets we can come up with!!) and that we are inherently good (but how many people have we let die while inventing those gadgets?).

I'd say most people have neither the courage nor the brains to have that robust discussion. Good thing the Serbia picture is there: now everyone can ask themselves why they react to that the way they do, and whether they think the US in 10-20 years is more likely to look like that, or if it will be a happy organic lovefest on bicycles with a nuke plant in the center of town.

Hello HeIsSoFly,

If you have read my post to writerman above, you can see that I am no optimist. The picture of the Serbian Cigarette Smoking Man is living in my brain. As you can surmise, I have already figured out how that can happen in the very corporate legal way we have of destroying things.

However, I do hold out some hope that we can have a soft landing of sorts. That is what I think of in my "robust discussion" remarks. How can we Powerdown without turning turning to neo-feudalism for comfort?


We can't.

We are just about completely unaware of what makes us tick, why we do the things we do. We are convinced we act and react driven by our intelligence, while in reality it's far more primitive parts of our brains that lead us. That's why TV ads deliver no information about products, but a feeling. A pick-up truck is shown in endless unspoiled landscapes, often with minimum one pretty young girl. In your unsub-consciousness, if the ad is well-made, that landscape and the girl will pop up as soon as you see that truck, and its logo, in real life.

These unconscious images, and the positive feelings they induce, along with a healthy shot of dopamine, are what makes you go out and buy the truck. But you will never know, you have learned that you choose on rational grounds. And so you will fool yourself into thinking that you have.

All our decisions are made in similar ways. Just think for a moment about why we have turned it all into such a terrible mess to begin with: that's the product of decisions executed on the level of yeast brains (OK, perhaps salamander). Smart brains would have prevented it. Your consciousmess would never wreck its own living space; it calls doing so "stupid".

And that's why we can't go softly: we're led by neurons that can't oversee the consequences of our acts, they're geared towards accumulating stuff. It's not about having stuff, but acquiring it.

First we make an unbelievable mess, then we convince ourselves we are so smart that our science will save it all, and when that turns out not to work we start killing each other to survive a bit longer.

The smart brains are then used to tell ourselves something/anything that justifies that: a nonsensical soft science story abour social Darwinism might be the flavor of the day. This prevents us from seeing ourselves as stupid or evil.

PS: A few pictures of bloated corpses in New Orleans alongside the Serbian one might be good, lest Americans think these things only happen in far away lands.

Is your spelling of "consciousMess" just a typo?

I guess my point is that I wish the discussion around the implications of PO were more robust here at the Oil Drum.

That's because the implications are just too depressing for most people to contemplate. The only person who has analyzed actual human nature (the way real humans in the real world behave, not the way we want them to behave) is Jay Hanson. He has recently published a paper on the subject called the Thermo/Gene Collision:


Jay is a controversial figure in peak oil circles because he's considered a "doomer". And most people just can't handle the truth.

I'd suggest that it IS possible to look at the post peak world through scientific eyes - using the analysis of systems and systems dynamics to cast some light on reactions to peaking.

As a quick throw away, you can look at worldwide consumption and make estimates of what higher oil prices will do to demand destruction around the world. That gives you a first cut of what prices will need to be for different production level to balance supply and demand.

However there is a key factor in all of that - not the date of peaking, but the decline rate post peak. A decline rate of 1-2% would hurt, there would be recession, but the world as a whole could adapt. A decline rate of 14% would be catastrophic - impacting on the ability of the global community to react successfully. Somewhere around 5-8% is my current gut feel, and I also feel this is beyond the scope of the world economy to successfully react to.

Thus if the decline rate is key, its important to pull apart fields such as Ghawar - in order to understand their decline phase rather than academic discussions of URR or peak dates. The two areas of study go together.

There aren't many around with the background to do this sort of thing - but the predictions they can make even if not accurate can be useful.

“A decline rate of 1-2% would hurt, there would be recession, but the world as a whole could adapt.”
Posted by garyp

We could adapt for a while, maybe for 10-15 years. But if we continued to decline at this rate, eventually the increased efficiencies we adopted would be done, the alternative energies that do have some potential will be exploited to the limit, while depletion marches on. We can only do more with less for so long; at some point the economy will retract and TSWHTF.

This, of course is assuming that once it becomes clear that we are post-peak, even with only a 1-2% annual decline, that the investor community doesn't panic, with financial markets imploding; an almost immediate '30s style Great Depression being the result.

Antoinetta III

We could adapt for a while, maybe for 10-15 years. But if we continued to decline at this rate, eventually the increased efficiencies we adopted would be done, the alternative energies that do have some potential will be exploited to the limit, while depletion marches on.

I'm not sure how to describe this, but every barrel we don't burn now is a barrel available in the future. So by reducing demand, we can actually increase the time we have. The sooner we start, the more time we have.

Think of it this way. (these are just made up numbers) Say this year we have the ability to produce 85mbpd of oil, and that 5 years from now we'll only be able to produce 75mbpd of oil, and 10 years from now only be able to produce 65mbpd. Well, if we were to take the oil as fast as we can pump it out of the ground we would definitely be down to 65mbpd by ten years from now. However if we were to wave the magic wand and go from using 85mbpd today to using only 75mbpd today...then we could save (85-75)mbpd that first year, maybe (83-75)mbpd the second year, etc...such that we could take the curve and string it out a little further, and by ten years from now still be producing at 75mbpd instead of the 65mbpd as would have been if pumping flat out.

So that's why starting before the slide is so important. Once in the slide, you must adapt faster than slide. But as you adapt faster than the slide, you gain more time by making the production curve lower, but flatter...less of a cliff, more of a hill, and potentially manageable.

This, of course is assuming that once it becomes clear that we are post-peak, even with only a 1-2% annual decline, that the investor community doesn't panic, with financial markets imploding; an almost immediate '30s style Great Depression being the result.

Again, Peak Oil really is a social thing more than a technical issue. We can replace cars ultra efficient commute-o-pods, build ultra efficient houses, ultra efficient lighting, computers, etc...but if we insist on breeding like bunnies, driving SUVs and Trucks, Suburbia, Long Haul trucking and JIT, we're going to get wars, death and destruction.

We could adapt for a while, maybe for 10-15 years. But if we continued to decline at this rate, eventually the increased efficiencies we adopted would be done, the alternative energies that do have some potential will be exploited to the limit, while depletion marches on. We can only do more with less for so long....

We could easily do more with more.  Large diesel engines can be run on powdered coal (and probably torrefied biomass) and rail can be electrified, so railroads could be converted and be entirely immune to further depletion.  Oil is only about 3% of current electric production already, and that might be convertible to bio-oil with relative ease.  Simply parking all of our 15-MPG SUV's and replacing them with diesel cars in the range of 30-50 MPG would buy years of time at even 5%/year.  Wind power is on an exponential curve doubling about every 2 years; if we stay on that for a while, 5 years will see wind taking up all new electric demand and 8-10 will see it cutting steadily into the share of gas and coal.  PHEV's powered mostly by electricity could achieve 80% liquid-fuel savings, buying 15 years even at 10%/year decline rates (~30 years at 5%/year).

Later this year, I intend to put down a deposit on a PHEV with a 20 mile all-electric range and 100 MPG economy on gasoline.  I expect my effective economy to be in the neighborhood of 160-200 MPG, which is a savings of more than 75% from what I'm getting now and about 87% over what I got up to 3 years ago.  If the nation does even half as well, we'll get by.

What we really need is action from the bully pulpit.  GWB owes too much to the Saudis to even tell people to slow down and buy less-thirsty cars.  Someone willing to say that speeding around in a 4x4 is unpatriotic (giving aid and comfort to the enemy) could work wonders, and that's one measure that costs nothing.

Later this year, I intend to put down a deposit on a PHEV with a 20 mile all-electric range and 100 MPG economy on gasoline

What vehicle is this?


I was hoping it was a real car.

It'll prove the market for the "real cars" you want, which is the point:  neither Washington nor Detroit will have any excuses left.

It'll also be my first real venture into the group of "early adopters".  I'm doing it because it really matters.

To pick up on HeIsSoFly, looking at post-peak scientifically isn't going to be enough. Science, technology, economics - they are all mired in the current cultural milieu.

That gives you a first cut of what prices will need to be for different production level to balance supply and demand.

What production? We don't produce oil; we gather it. Prices to balance supply and demand? Is there really any such thing? Prices are socially determined by our technologies and as such seem more to guarantee extraction/destruction of the periphery (Iraq, Africa) than anything else. They transfer wealth/exergy to the core and never pay back the source; they cannot, because a profit must be made to maintain the core infrastructure.

I really think there is something to the idea that we have sucked so much out of so much of the world that it is descending into chaos. That vast parts of the world no longer have the necessary energy to self-order. What happens to the wealthier core when it loses the energy subsidies necessary to maintain its own internal order, as happened to the Soviet Union? I was just listening to Heinberg in one today's links talk about building a public transportation fish-net with cell phones and private cars - but that depends on our maintaining our infrastructure which is itself embedded energy "informed", eg materialized.

It seems to me what price to balance supply and demand isn't a big enough question; it seems culturally conditioned from the get-go. Kunstler uses a phrase, something like "we can't see over the edge of the box". Our language doesn't even permit it.

cfm in Gray, ME

What production? We don't produce oil; we gather it.

Hmm...this is going to cause some people some problems. Here they are thinking they're all sophisticated...and they're still hunter/gatherers.

E&P...Exploration & Production... Exploration is just a fancy way of saying hunting, and Production is a fancy way of saying gathering. Interesting stuff.

However there is a key factor in all of that - not the date of peaking, but the decline rate post peak. A decline rate of 1-2% would hurt, there would be recession, but the world as a whole could adapt. A decline rate of 14% would be catastrophic - impacting on the ability of the global community to react successfully. Somewhere around 5-8% is my current gut feel, and I also feel this is beyond the scope of the world economy to successfully react to.

Agreed. This is why Nate Hagen's post of this week knocked my socks off and the work that SS, FF, EM, etc. and you has been so mesmerizing. A near-term peak with a slow decline rate may not be a problem - or at least is manageable. Nate pointed out that if you linearly extrapolate our historical EROEI for oil extraction, you get to 0% oil usable for society by 2022. Even if a linear reduction in EROEI is wrong, if Saudia Arabia declines as quickly as Mexico is, I don't know if western industrial civilization can make a smooth transition.

Even if the decline rate is small, the Hirsch report concluded that we need 20 years to mitigate. Hirsch is in a good position to look at the overall system effects. I can't see this ending well for the US if the Saudis drop off fast or if Nate's extrapolation turns out to be correct.

Don't forget that US production isn't falling nearly as fast as Cantarell, etc. and we could still drill ANWR (using the stranded gas in Prudhoe Bay to power it).

Worse comes to worst, we could put a 20 kW wind turbine on each pumpjack from Texas through Kansas and Missouri and turn wind into transport fuel.  It might have a lousy EROEI from generator to crude oil tank, but if it's off-peak power that wouldn't have sold for much anyway, who cares?  Besides, it'll create this huge arbitrage opportunity for the first 10 million people to get plug-in vehicles.

That's how I see the consequences of PO. There are so many variables coupled with the unexpected, that precise prediction is impossible.

I like to say that Complex Systems Breakdown Chaotically

If you throw a bb into a car's carberator intake ventri, you may not know exactly what will break first, but you know enough to duck.

The commercial about the ball bearing factory with ball bearing flying everywhere is what I see.

Who will get hit, who will not will be a matter of mostly chance of where you are standing.

Good luck all

One thing we should let go off is the notion of a crash. A crash is by definition sudden, irresistible and total. There are no qualifiers to a crash. You can't say or do anything about a crash, except for the timing. Hence the stress on the timing vs. the effects of the peak.

There will be no countdown: '3,2,1..CRASH! Ok people, start rioting. Ethnic cleansers go right, cannibalistic hordes left, survivalists through the sewers. See you

Why not a crash? Because the first effects of peak oil will be noticed where oil products are the least easily replaced, i.e. transportation. Reduced transportation leads to reduced influence and interaction between regions. Therefore their fates will diverge. Factory workers in Birmingham and Xinjian will face less competition of each other. Migration will lessen. Economic growth will slow down. Far-flung military operations will become costlier, and potentially relatively more rewarding. Famines are less likely to be relieved with imports or aid. Epidemics will spread less easily. Et cetera.

So the influence of the dwindling supply will have different effects everywhere. Apart from that, the reactions will be different also. The cumulative differences will very quickly make a one-size-fits-all description of the post-peak-worlds impossible.

More reading:
J.M. Greer has written several vivid descriptions of how individuals may experience the ramifications of peak oil.

"Gradual disintegration, not sudden catastrophic collapse, is the way civilizations end. It usually takes somewhere between 150 and 350 years for a civilization to decline and fall."

Ran Prieur also has a fine collection of wildly different scenarioes, as a fun exercise for open-mindedness.

"There won't be any clear before, during, or after."

Question for the future: Why is there no recipe for Neocons on the internet?
Answer: It's impossible to clean the dirty bastards.

Feel free to use this humor as you sit in the rosy firelight, licking the grease from your fingers.

I hope they can be composted without poisoning the heap. I wonder what kind of digestive system they have, since they seem to be requiring only dollars and oil to thrive.

I would argue that there could very well be a major disruption of the monetary system early on. This would probably be brought on by major defaults on debt. This could be corporate debt, mortgage debt, and/or debts related to the derivatives and/or the futures markets.

All of our debt requires a great deal of growth to sustain the system. A drop in the oil supply will tend to reduce the growth rate, and will thus tend to destabilize the system. If the defaults are simply allowed to take place, many financial institutions will end up bankrupt. If the government "prints money" to solve he problem, we are likely to have hyper-inflation.

The collapse in Argentina and the collapse in Russia were quite sudden. The US depression which started in 1929 was quite sudden. I can easily imagine a serious monetary failure occurring within a year or two of the downturn in the oil supply.

A person can't assume the $100,000 "insurance" coverage on bank savings accounts will solve the problem. There is very little money collected to fund this coverage. If there are major defaults, the government will need to "print money" to provide the coverage. The government may also need to prop up other organizations: Fannie Mae, Freddy Mac, insurance companies, etc.

Once the monetary collapse occurs, it will become much more difficult to do the simple things we are used to. For example, foreign governments may no longer accept our money to purchase oil. They may instead require that goods (perhaps food or military equipment) be provided.

All of our debt requires a great deal of growth to sustain the system.

That is something a lot of people don't understand. They think we can continue the current system just exchanging services - doing each other's laundry.

I can easily imagine a serious monetary failure occurring within a year or two of the downturn in the oil supply.

Reminds me of that diary at dKos: The Day the Dollar Dies

Gail wrote:

All of our debt requires a great deal of growth to sustain the system.

and Leanan wrote in response:

That is something a lot of people don't understand. They think we can continue the current system just exchanging services - doing each other's laundry.

Ladies, I think you underestimate the degree to which the system can stagnate and still not be threatened. Japan is a case in point. Growth makes the system whistle and toot along quite nicely. But the system doesn't need it to survive.

Don't forget a falling dollar is a god-send to US manufacturing.

They think we can continue the current system just exchanging services - doing each other's laundry.

Services, which account for 90 percent of the economy and have propped up growth for the past year, are now being hurt by rising fuel costs and slowing sales.”
Services expansion weakens

Gail the Actuary says:

The collapse in Argentina and the collapse in Russia were quite sudden. The US depression which started in 1929 was quite sudden. I can easily imagine a serious monetary failure occurring within a year or two of the downturn in the oil supply.

Can your parse out the mechanisms that could get this going? Does this economic crisis take us into a runaway inflation? Or deflation? Or is this even predictable? I can make a case both ways. Sounds like you lean towards inflation? In that case, could the USD 'need' to be replaced by another currency, e.g. by Freedom Dollars?

It's possible that everything collapses at once, of course; like a group of mountaineers that are tied together by a rope. They either succeed or fall down together.
The financial system, however, is the rope that ties them together. If the rope breaks - or is cut - before most of the participants fail, that will mean that it's every man for himself from then on. The collapse in Argentinia didn't affect Ireland or Australia for example. Those who are most dependent on international trade, or their position within the monetary system will suffer most in that case (Singapore comes to mind). Other regions will benefit from that collapse, many in the third world, as they will no longer be required to export raw materials to support their position in a monetary system that no longer exists.

I would argue that there could very well be a major disruption of the monetary system early on. This would probably be brought on by major defaults on debt. This could be corporate debt, mortgage debt, and/or debts related to the derivatives and/or the futures markets.

This is what I am expecting - in fact I think the great credit crunch is already underway and is about to accelerate sharply. This is highly deflationary. IMO far too few people appreciate the implications of a rapid credit contraction for our ability to adapt to the many challenges we face (other than by deprivation that is).

The collapse in Argentina and the collapse in Russia were quite sudden. The US depression which started in 1929 was quite sudden. I can easily imagine a serious monetary failure occurring within a year or two of the downturn in the oil supply.

I don't think we will have long to wait. Fear is a very sharp emotion and it can drive markets down extremely rapidly once it has spread to a critical mass of the population. Once that happens and liquidity decreases (IMO drastically), severe economic impacts would not be far behind. To reiterate what I have said here many times before - I think this will happen this year.

A couple of thoughts. I agree Greer is the best at taking in the mirade of pictures of life with less & less energy.
His time frames are more like decades rather than centuries in his hypothetical scenarios.

I also agree with Leanan that Tainter & Diamond are the other folks to study.

One important concept that is Tainters is of peer polity- that we keep supporting one another rather than allow a complete collapse- FSU is an example. We didn't want all those nukes on the black market is given as one reason for the aid given.
The other option is to overtake the nearby falling country.
This plus globalism & war will be primary issues to expand on to attempt to identify possible patterns for scenarios of PO.

I think that the concern is that an acknowledgement that we have already past peak or are at peak will really signal a panic. If that then turns out to be false and there are 5 more years to go, the credibility of Peak Oilers will be lost.

The 2005 hurricane season was horrific. The 2006 forecast was equally bad. Had a major storm hit in 2006, people remembering 2005 probably would have listened and evacuated. Now with the approaching 2007 season another extreme year if forecast. If the first few storms fissle and then a major storm approaches, will the masses remember 2005 and leave or remember 2006 and down play the warnings.

With Peak Oil, some may view the peak as academic and the start of a new age for transition. Others may view it as a catalyst for economic collapse and die-off(my pov).

Again my assumption, but perhaps Euan and Robert just want to amke sure that the peak is identified correctly so the proper warning can be given at the "right" time.

Just my 2 cents...


I agree with you. Personally, I believe we won't actually see the worst case scenario relating to PO. That is, society beginning to "run out" of oil. The collapse of suberbia, the migration back to the land... Long before that suspect we'll see military conflict of the remaining sources of energy and all what that may lead to. The invasion and occupation of Iraq, could be seen as the Bush regimes reaction to Peak Oil.

The 2006 hurricane season was not predicted to be as bad as 2005.  The prediction was for 13-16 named storms (compared to '05's 28), which turned out to be 9 after development of an unexpected El Niño.

2007 looks to be a La Niña, so may be more like '05.  If it is, I hope it gets people to stop wasting money and effort on rebuilding coastal buildings and get to work on fixing the underlying problem.

Are refineries just plain having trouble running a higher percentage of heavy sour crude?

Is this related to the myriad 'refinery issues' that are being cited every day? Pickens talks about oil just not being availiable. Simmons mentions a $20 per barrel difference between the best light & sweet and say Mayan. Said Tapis was $73.75 a barrel now.

Seems like crude inventories are OK ,for the moment, but the crack spread is up and refineries and gasoline inventories don't seem to match the pace of consumption.


Dear Westexas,

Your comment about the tendency some on TOD have to come with critiques of the, let's just say, the less than optimistic forecasts about oil production levels in SA, are understandable.

If one is basically saying that oil production has peaked and SA is in trouble... Then this has clearly, really serious implications for society. Kunstler is pretty gloomy reading. He's talking about a very different type of society emerging post peak. Not everyone finds this "attractive". Are we really speculating about the end of our beloved model of civilization?

Therefore, it's understandable, normal, natural, to want to question the validity of such depressing news. When the speculation/theories have such import, surely it's right to subject them to detailed and sceptical analysis, until at the least more hard, emperical data is available?

It's really quite simple. Just as some are born with blue eyes and others brown, so are some born skeptics and others true believers. We need both to keep ourselves honest. And to keep us alive, we need the natural born forecasters, those with a natural tendency or ability to warn although perhaps they are not 100% accurate. It's the warning itself that prepares us and helps us to plan for the change, whatever it is. I would call it an evolutionary safeguard for the preservation of the species.

Yes Kuntsler is an alarmists and Simmons is an even greater alarmists. I am an alarmists! It is about damn time someone started sounding the alarm.

Compared to the consequences of peak oil all other events in human history will shrink to insignificance. But only a very tiny minority of people realize that fact. Even most peak oilers are in denial as to what will be the consequences of peak oil. At least one poster sees, as a result of peak oil, a "recession then recovery". Jeeeeesus!

More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.
Woody Allen

Actually I don't agree with Woody here. I don't see a path to extinction....Unless there is an all out nuclear war that somehow manages to poison the atmosphere... Well, that could happen but I don't think it is very likely, probably less than a one percent chance.

So cheer up people. There is at least a 99% chance that we are on the path to despair and utter hopelessness. ;-)

Ron Patterson


What I find interesting is that it is we old farts (you, Airdale and I plus a few others) who seem to have the least problem coming to grips with how this is likely to play out.

Is it because we're pushing 70 and have greater life experince? Is it because we have sort of moved beyond the system since we (I assume the three of us) are retired? Have we fought so many battles over the years that we don't have to play games anymore? I don't know but somehow I expect age plays a great role in a person's response.


It could be because there isn't much left for you guys. In fact, some old people (certainly not all) would even find comfort in peak oil. What if the golden age of humanity lies ahead? I certainly wouldn't want to have died in 1950.

Some people find it a lot easier to face death if they can convince themselves that they are not going to miss out on much.

For some of the aged, peak oil could be a form of therapy.

Every day they face the obvious diminution of their powers and their own personal extinction creeps ever closer. If I know anything about Americans, it's that they hate to feel like losers. And at death we are all losers.

"If I know anything about Americans, it's that they hate to feel like losers."

For me, this is the crux of the transition problem and why I'm pessimistic about the immediate future. A "Psychology of Depletion" is a "losing" psychology, which most of us are repelled to face.

But does a Psychology of Depletion have to be about losing? Perhaps a Psychology of Depletion could also be a Psychology of Selflessness.

I imagine people more practical than myself find the idea absurd--selflessness as a post peak strategy--but as I look to the future questions about my personal ethics concerns me more than the length of survival. Of course, it's harder to have this attitude if I believed death was "losing," which I don't, nor do I believe death is "losing" for any human being or form of life.

This is why I'm also a long-term optimist. It seems to me homo sapiens are another branch in the complete evolutionary tree of self-conscious animals.

Americans, it's that they hate to feel like losers

That attitude becomes very clear when there are elections. All comments are about winning the elections. The 50% of Americans that don't vote seem not to be willing to risk having voted for the losing party. That effect actually increases when they're closely matched, while rationally voting should become more attractive since it's easier to swing the balance in that case. US elections seem to have become a gambling game rather than an opportunity to express allegiance to a group, or maybe even an opinion.

The 50% of Americans that don't vote seem not to be willing to risk having voted for the losing party.

What does voting get you? What is your personal advantage?
How is my life going to be better/worse by voting for X over Y? Why should I stand in line for X time?

All better questions than "I don't want to pick a looser" If Americans were all about not having a looser - why is the Lottery making money? How does "someone knows I've picked a looser" square with the secret ballot?

Oh and given the peeled off Bush/Cheney bumper stickers I've seen, looks like over 50% would fit your vision of 'picking a looser'.

Seem. It's just an impression, not a judgement. And I'm well aware that it is a sweeping generalization as well, so apply a grain of salt. Also, the US is far from alone regarding its low voter turnout; if this attitude is real, it doesn't make a big difference in any case.

The lottery is about individuals having better luck than others - everyone likes to think they have better luck, or choose numbers more smartly, etc. than others. Elections are about associating yourself with a group. The secret ballot doesn't matter, it is about self-esteem.

Elections are just one way of participating in the organization of society. Appointing officials isn't even their most important function. There are always ways around that. A more important function of elections is everyone making a statement about what direction they would prefer society to follow. Somehow elections have become about winning and losing, not expressing opinions. What does it matter if the candidate you voted for didn't Win The Election? It's still your opinion. What does it matter if another candidate Won The Election? If you voted according to your conscience, he'd better keep that in mind or face tough opposition.

I think that the notion that every personal action must be rewarded by a direct personal advantage would be detrimental to any kind of society. It is, frankly, the reasoning of a psychopath.

And maybe you want to believe that everything will be just fine because you can't stand the thought that trouble may be coming. Cuts both ways, Asebius. I suggest you refrain from playing internet psychoanalyst unless you want to be analyzed yourself.

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


I luuuuuv being analyzed. Bring it on!

For the record, though, I have no problem with the idea that trouble is on the way. In fact, much of what passes for 'realism' here may be the result of so many years having passed without real trouble, and a scant knowledge of history.

This young fart thinks you ol' farts have grown soft.

Ron wrote upthread:

Compared to the consequences of peak oil all other events in human history will shrink to insignificance.

Old fart realism in all its splendour!!

Not much left for you guys sez Asebius(who I will now term ASSYBUS and return the insult).

I ride a Harley LowRider. I drive a jeep wrangler. I can pull a 75 lb compound bow. I can run the woods faster and easier than most any yuppie. I can out plant, out harvest and out cook most any yuppie as well.

I have lots of experience so let me say this in rebuttal.

Welcome to reality assybutt and I have a feeling you are going to be among the first to perish since I believe your one of those in denial and as I remember your saying that you had made no plans. If you have read any of my posts then you know where I stand.

Class of '57. Thats right. Born in 1938. Right in the depression and then WWII. I have seen the oil monster in full color back in 1973. I know what to expect. I am culling no one. NO ONE!

Now Asebius did you have a rebuttal?

And yes I am an American. Fuck you and I don't feel like a loser. Its easy to sit overseas and smear us. Come on over...right down Copperhead road and we'll discuss it.

We'll drink some moonshine, smoke some bluegrass, shoot some guns, maybe kill a deer and you can show me how to dress it, and tan the hide, and then maybe you can be allowed to work a bit in my garden. Maybe you will see some Amerkuns that don't fit your stereotypes.

Forget the philosophy. It won't save you. Skills in survival will. How do YOU score on that?

Whats left I will take. The rest can go to hell.

Let me tell you a story. A true one of a neighbor who I sat behind in church for many years here. He had no name and was part indian(native that is). We called him Dummy for he was never named by his father. He did everything himself. He never went on welfare. A younger friend of mine was walking a creekbottom while deer hunting on the first day of season. It was cold and he had seen no deer. He looked up and in a big cottonwood tree he saw Dummy up in it. Dummy was set for a deer having climbed that tree without a ladder or boards.

Dummy was over 90 years old at that time. He died close to 100. He never went to a nursing home that I knew of.I almost brought Dummy's farm instead of the one I did but it was so far back in the outback my wife refused to even consider it.

Dummy was one of those oldtimers who were honest men. Men of their word. I have tried to emulate them and my grandparents who raised me and were the same. They would kill you if you really wronged them otherwise they were the best men I ever was around. When I was raised all the young men, including my father and 5 of his 6 brothers were in the war so the only men to raise us were the oldtimers. They taught me the code I have always lived by.

As far as the rest? Yes, they are dead men walking, young or old if they have not prepared. If they have no real skills. If they sit on their lard ass butts and chatter on TOD like they know it all. Like Todd said. Some of us are tuned in.
What is your radio set on?

Not all Ahhmurkans are fools. Many are but thats all you read about and see on the TV. The foolish Ahhmurkans. Look at them. See how stupid they are?

Airdale-from my cold dead hands

Why am I not surprised you're a Harley rider? Plan to feed that after TSHTF?
Don't post after moonshine.


Owned motorcycles almost all of my life. Started on Cushman Eagles. Had a bike in Hawaii, right after I got off the ship at Pearl.

Had a jeep there too, to hunt in the mountains.

Did E & E there as well. Escape and Evasion where one lives like a snakeeater. all that stuff.

Yup it gets 45 mpg and I never ride with anyone else nor do I trailer it to some Get Together,ride it one block then trailer back home and spend hours polishing it.

I just ride the piss out of it. Out there..out there on the edge. Out where you screw up and you become a part of the blacktop. It keeps you on the young side. Its medicine to me and a spiritual thing, if you can dig(grok) it.

ZMM...Pirsig wrote the BOOK. Buddha is in the machine.

Airdale-sometimes a chick will even look at you..so...its worth it. Sometimes they might even hit on you a bit. Thats good for an all day natural high. I had this strawberry blond you see who wanted so bad to ride with me..yada yada .....never turn a strawberry blond down but I did anyway.Strawberry blonds....ahhhh..forget it. She was driving a field tractor with a grain buggy and I was hauling off her loads in a semi. She saw my bike there in the field and said "Lets go ..right now..right this minute,anywhere."

Lesson? They don't do that so much if your riding a rice-burner. OK?

Given a choice (we all have the choice) of having an emotional relationship with/making love to asphalt or to steel or a blonde.....that's easy. Blondes.

The people who were going 'welcome back airdale' and talking about how 'hes a farmer and TOD needs his input' - care to comment on the above post of Airdale?

As I've said before about the above 'survival in the woods' idea, I'll say again - It is a doomed idea given the existence of high power rifles. A .308 or .50 cal with a scope can reach out and touch you from a long distance. Old models of a walled city don't work with the high powered rifle.

Forget the philosophy. It won't save you. Skills in survival will.

*yawn* In this 'kill or be killed world of yours - exactly how are YOU gonna prevent being killed by someone with a rifle and scope? Answer - you can't.

But you just keep posting how you are a bad man and YOU will make it.

Point that .50 at the ground, get lucky and you might see crude bubbling out of the ground. Might even get some premium to run the Harley.
Or point that .50 at the sky. Make rain. Solves those pesky global warming droughts easy.
Yessir a man's a man if he's got a big gun.

Might even get some premium to run the Harley.

He don't need that. He's a believer in the Hydrinos. So all he has to do is slap one of the Hydrino batteries (due in 2007, based on statements in the press in 1999) in the kill a cycle

Then he'll be hydrino-powered man!

Ahhh my old nemesis Eric Blair.

How do you survive in a world gone mad? I didn't write the book. I do know how to tread quietly thru the woodlands.
Having hunted from a still position one can hear a turtle crawling thru the leaves a long way off.

No one can stalk you if your quiet, not in the underbrush.
And the house you intend to inhabit can easily be taken. They just shoot you thru the windows.

But I wont' go into all this becuase your just looking for the cornucopian bright side and therefore dissing everything I say when you are likely the most clueless one speaking.

I find that most cityfolk have zero knowledge of firearms. They don't fire them often for they have no area to do so in. They have to go to a range and thats not quite the same as the real world.

I will shut up about this subject for now. I was really after Asebius's hide for making those insulting statements about my generation and next about Americans.

Yes Americans are fat asses. I think he has a fat ass as well since he stated so in a comment once. Enough said.

Airdale-Sorry that I don't match up with your desired profile.

I think this post merits some sort of "award":

"Whats left I will take. The rest can go to hell."

And then, in the very next sentence:

"A true one of a neighbor who I sat behind in CHURCH for many years" ... further on: "The foolish Ahhmurkans. Look at them. See how stupid they are?"

So: Yes, it's true Virginia, some folks do not have any sense of irony.

Hey wait a minute, I'm younger than you guys and I'm just as much a "realist" as both of you.

Greater life experience, or lesser life expectancy?

I'm not all that optimistic myself, or quite as old (almost but not quite). But there are some younger pessimists about as well:

  • The Chimp who ...[AMPOD]
  • The Archdruid doesn't look all that old
  • I'm sure there are others but am too lazy to look for them
    • If you look at the actual situation we are in, it's hard to be optimistic.

      The problem will solve itself.
      But not in a nice way.

What I find interesting is that it is we old farts (you, Airdale and I plus a few others) who seem to have the least problem coming to grips with how this is likely to play out.

VS the people who are willing to accept what comes?

I don't know but somehow I expect age plays a great role in a person's response.

The voices here are self-selected. They are taking the time to post. How much time does someone who's "fully invested" in the system have in voicing an opinion here?

The voices here are self-selected. They are taking the time to post. How much time does someone who's "fully invested" in the system have in voicing an opinion here?

That's exactly the point. The catastrophists who hang out here show every sign of not being well integrated. Easy to trash something that isn't working for you.

It takes very little ugly energy data to send them headlong into agrarian survival projects leaving behind a thick trail of apocalyptic pronouncements.

Over the months, I've become a little fond of these folks. They are fascinating and rather rare outside the US. But newcomers should know that these guys likely haunted the fringe long before peak oil came along and will still be there should this issue fade.

As was said some time ago: "When the times turn wierd, the wierd turn pro."

ADDENDUM: I should add that I'm as eccentric as they come, or so I'm continually told. Thus it may well be a case of: it takes one to know one.

That's exactly the point. The catastrophists who hang out here show every sign of not being well integrated. Easy to trash something that isn't working for you.

When I read a letter to the editors from people who say "Energy Prices are too high - the government should do something about it" then drive by the house to see strands of christmas tree lights on the outside of the home, big SUVs being driven to work with a bumper sticker that says "A vote for Republicans means a vote for less government" how exactly does that show the present system is NOT going to end poorly?

How is the water level in Ghawar, the present economic system, the announced downslide of Cantrell NOT 'bad juju'?

How exactly is the present system and situation not going to end up a whole lotta pain as the economic system re-configures itself around the end of cheap energy?

How exactly is the present system and situation not going to end up a whole lotta pain as the economic system re-configures itself around the end of cheap energy?

Pain must be quantified. The catastrophists hold that the system will collapse, yet lack the background to estimate the impact of, say, a 2% world decline rate in oil production.

Much of the research about mitigation has been done. There is the Hirsch Report, Stuart's own analysis, etc. If you bother to review the literature, you see that the key problem comes as decline rate versus mitigation rate. It appears that the upper bound on mitigation rate, without a shift into some seriously different state of affairs, is around 4% tops and that is being generous. That alternative state of affairs may be rationing, martial law, or even worse. So if the decline rate stays low, say around 2%, we have a chance to manage this. If the decline rate shifts into high gear (ala Cantarell, Yibal, etc.) then we are toast.

Also key in this discussion is that we do not make the wrong guess on which way to mitigate. If we go in a direction that turns out to remain unsustainable, then we've shot our wad and we won't have nearly the available resources to try again. If we had started 30 years ago, we could have experimented with multiple approaches, but with the problem seemingly on top of us now or in the next few years at best, we do not have the time nor the resources to blow them on dead ends.

As usual, Asebius, you are wrong in your psychological projection fantasies. These issues have been quantified. These issues have been analyzed. Your personal ignorance of the matter is your problem. Stop projecting your ignorance on others.

P.S I would add that some professionals, such as the CEO of Schlumberger, estimate global decline rate at 8%. Think about what that means if 4% is the practical upper bound of mitigation.

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


I've read the Hirsch report and applaud it. And am a great fan of Stuart's work. These guys aren't doomsters.

Could you give us some references where these authors discuss the liklihood of "martial law or something worse" as you describe it?

How about their analysis of societal collapse should a 5% decline rate occur at some point?

Come on, dude, cough it up!

EDIT: How about their analysis of the liklihood of a 5% decline rate? I'd like to see that, too.

with the problem seemingly on top of us now or in the next few years at best, we do not have the time nor the resources to blow them on dead ends.

Exactly the reason I'm so firmly behind PHEV's.  The only scenario where they don't help is a total collapse, and the only thing that does help in that scenario is a big stockpile of food, a bunch of guns and a defensible perimeter.

That Schlumberger reference is to a fields in production decline rate, if I don't miss my guess.

There is no way that dude is predicting a year over year decline in world oil production of 8%.

Self-selected? Fully invested?

Your going far far offtrack.

Its simple. Survive or pass away. Not too complicated. Make plans now or take your chances.

The difference between you and me and our mindsets are so vastly different as to not even be debatable. You can not comphrend where I live nor how I live and therefore how I think.

Give it up. We are worlds and generations apart and even if the same age our environments would be setting us apart as well.

Just a few clues. Growing up we drank cistern water. Total immunization and not counting drinking out of creek and standing water in the road when necessary. We lived with zero medicine. We had to heat with chopped wood and no chainsaws. We milked 12 cows twice a day. We worked the ground with mules and iron implements. My grandparents raised 14 children in this environment. We ate wild game.

I could go on and on but you can see how I can say we are worlds apart. You might think you can envision it but you certainly could not have lived it and couldn't now or in a future without easy petrochemical products.

Airdale--forget it..we are not anywhere alike and thank Deity for that. And please dont' give me that "Oh I was on a farm once,,ohhh I milked a cow once....BULLSHIT"

I can envision life that way because I grew up that way. I doubt you did and you therefore have zero clues.

Survive or pass away

How old are you exactly?
(I am nearing 60 myself)


I am Class of '57..thats high school,,,what we used to paint on the sides of water tanks back then,,,,and same age as Todd.


Not too clear to me since I am European and don't know about "high school" ages.
I asked this because you seem worried about your own survival while I am mostly worried about my son (27) and grand-daughter (1).

I'm only aspiring to old-fartdom, but I'm an optimist.  Why?  Because I can see the seeds of the post-oil energy economy out there, and they're so close to growing a forest that the oil interests have to spend time trying to cut them down.  Do you think GWB would have cancelled the PNGV if it wasn't a threat to XOM, Halliburton and the KSA?  He wouldn't have bothered.  If it wouldn't have worked, his co-conspirators wouldn't have bothered to replace PNGV with something with a suitably long time horizon.

I'm also optimistic because I know the USA will respond.  Last time we went from Mach 1's and Barracudas to Pintos and Chevettes (I was there too).  Today the response will go as far as Loremos and VentureOnes (which is what I'll have, if they deliver).

Our biggest problem right now is people have the mistaken notion that the only way to be safe is to drive around in a monster truck, and the only way to run it is to pump liquids into it.  Once this mindset is dispelled, the tide will shift very quickly.

Of course there were ulterior motivations, but I think the primary reason PNGV was canceled was because it was an "Al Gore" program.

Yes, they really are that petty and stupid.

"This means that some of the most important areas of the PO debate -- the implications -- are treated with the least amount of rigor. Is it because rigor is just not possible?"

Perhaps we should discuss and extend the semi-mathematical "theory of catabolic collapse" as as introduced by Greer? (See also here for the original and also here and here.)

That would be fine by me. What is missing on TOD is a group of 'qualified' people working the issue of implications in the same way as what is happening on SS's thread right now. Gail the Actuary is publishing an article as she stated upthread.

I have been wanting to get into Greer's stuff some more. And I wouldn't mind spewing forth. But what this particular problem area is lacking is what Stuart Staniford's, etc. are doing around the geological issues of PO. We don't handle the social issues well at all for this reason. What we need are people who are in the social sciences who can think AND write outside the box here at TOD.

Well, I agree with you here, although I have to say that it's much easier to focus on the scope of the problems and some of the proposed solutions rather than trying to predict what one (now inactive) poster called "a messy response." People do seem to project some of their own mindset into what will happen (fast, slow, terrifying, just a "liquid fuels problem," catabolic collapse, graceful powerdown, etc). Many posters have not read the (IMO, at least) required texts for understanding why civilizations collapse, so they feel free to criticize the authors of these without offering much more than an uninformed opinion or anecdotal evidence in rebuttal. BTW, I really do wish Greer would post here; his blog is outstanding work.

Many posters have not read the (IMO, at least) required texts for understanding why civilizations collapse

But what are these 'required' texts?

What texts are a 'good idea'?

On the other side of collapse - what of these texts are worthwhile?

The big three, (again, IMO) are Tainter, The Collapse of Complex Societies, Diamond, Collapse, and John Michael Greer's critique of Tainter and formulation of catabolic collapse theory. Additionally, The Upside of Down, Homer-Dixon, is a new entrant.

Problem is the implications of Peak Oil are so fundamental and vast - a re-configuration of Civilization, that it's difficult to know where to start, where to go, or where to stop!

What are the implications for the United States of Peak Oil? Christ, one could spend a whole career as an historian, sociologist, economist, political scientist, psychologist, agriculturalist... The list goes on and on. That's part of the problem, or rather the Problem. If Peak Oil is really close, and we're going down a steep energy slope, then this will have profound implications for almost every aspect of our modern, high-energy civilization, because; cheap, easy, plentiful and secure energy supplies are the lifeblood of our way of life and culture. The consequences of the sudden end of the age of plenty and ease, are potentially dire and very "challanging".

This is a very important point. It is difficult enough just to figure out more or less when PO will occur. The implications are staggering. Even without the stress of PO it is very hard to forecast how the world will look a year from now. All sorts of investors are betting on economic growth or decline given the same evidence.

I think it is very useful to try to track down one thread at a time. Kind of like working with partial differential equations. If that analysis has any validity then you can try to look at the bigger picture. If you deal with too many issues at the outset then perturbations in the inputs will turn your results to chaos.

The experts are focussed on input; energy input, where does it come from, how can it be better managed (or understood, doped out..), how can it be changed, how to get more, be more efficient, etc. Vital, legit, etc.

Output is less considered. Needed for transport, food, usual activity, etc. The US produces 25% of the world’s garbage, most of it buried in landfills or incinerated. Some proportion is ‘recycled’, exactly how much, in what fashion, why, at what energy costs, is hard to say.

Garbage (summary, superficial) time-line

A brief phase as a very keen amateur garbagologist was considered unseemly - sewers were a preoccupation as well - so I Swiss-wise became a recycling nut, that is respectable! Some part of what we do here is ludicrous...

Just one ex, the municipality comes in a truck, run with ‘bio’ fuel, no less, with two smart employees to collect diminutive bags of compost from appartement dwellers who insist that said compost must be sent to a farm to feed chickens or fertilize the soil...Eco-townies who have a platform...and a vote, about 40%...there you have it...collect the compost and your candidate can win...

Such matters are all perfectly quantifiable, easier! than Ghawar.

OK, light relief... As for the rest, how societies will react is the key.


I've written fiction, and I suppose I'm a historian and a political scientist. At university I also studied economics, philosopy and comparative literature. I've also been interested in the environment and the question of energy resources for decades. Thirty years ago I was involved in heated discussions with my university lecturers about the the politics and military implications of finite energy resouces. I clearly remember having a knock-down fight with a politics professor about the future role of NATO. I remember saying that I thought NATO would expand out of the North Atlantic and concentrate on securing and controlling energy supplies. He slapped me down good in front of two hundred people in an auditorium. He said I was "idotic", I replied that he was "unimaginative". This was a mistake on my part. One doesn't publically take on a professor as first year student, silly, young, me.

Just dealing with the implications of declining production in Saudi Arabia is hard enough. Dealing with the enormous implications; politically, economically, socially and culturally, would require a site ten times the size of TOD.

To be fair, Euan did apologize.

This means that some of the most important areas of the PO debate -- the implications -- are treated with the least amount of rigor. Is it because rigor is just not possible?

IMO...yes. It's just the nature of the beast. What will happen cannot be treated with the same rigor as what is happening.

I'm currently reading Stumbling on Happiness. Turns out, people are really, really lousy at predicting the future. We seem to have a bias toward optimism, that even past experience cannot overcome. (Second marriage, the triumph of hope over experience.)

Turns out, the best way to predict the future is other people's experiences. But people generally won't accept that. Because they think they're special. Just because everyone else was miserable with that car or that boyfriend or that job doesn't mean I will be. I'm special!

I think the work of people like Tainter and Diamond is probably the most helpful when it comes to predicting the "implications." I also think that there will be a lot of resistance to their work. Sure, Easter Island and Minoa and the Mayans collapsed, but we have science and technology they didn't. We're special!


As you know, I'm a big fan of Tainter and would go on record as saying that the implications you would like to draw from his work are not there.

For instance, I think you would represent his position as saying that collapse is likely in the lifetime of people now living. Where does he say that?

I know of no passage where he says that we must change or we will collapse.

In one particular way, Tainter has said publically that we are special. For instance, he has pointed out that American corporations have shown an amazing capacity to simplify when circumstances warrant.



Thanks for posting the Matt Simmons link, I will have to listen again for what I've missed.

As well as enlightening, it gives me a chance to plug 'rationing'. Till this posting I was holding that shotgun the wrong way around. Matt mentioned that the Mexicans should cut back production from Cantrell, that means to me 'rationing' done from the production end rather than the consumer end.

Would that make this particular poison go down easier that way?

The link on Dr. Gray, bad mouthing climate change, lead me to do a little more digging on the New Orleans hurricane conference, and these two links about how NOAA scientist can't talk about it anymore.


I reminds me of a very bad situation I am experiencing at work. Where good engineering principles and science say one thing, but management is saying the opposite.

It constantly amazes me that people will spend 10 times more energy denying reality, that they would have spent just adjusting to the facts. After decades of observing dysfunctional federal bureaucrats, I have come to the conclusion that politicians and bureaucrats operate on a much more base level than normal people. For them, it is all about power. They don't care about the consequences of their actions, or even the ideals they pretend to defend. They just live for the rush of forcing people to bend to their will. Even money seems to come second to their need to dominate.

There needs to be a distinction made between those civil servants who had to pass an intelligence test to get their jobs and those who are political appointees who get the best paying jobs because of their work on a politician's campaign staff. Its like the difference between Dr. Hanson and Karl Rove. Most of the people working in our bureaucracies are like Hanson. Intelligent caring people who are constantly being undercut by political appointees.

It's not just political appointees.

There is a large multi-tiered bureaucracy who's purpose is to serve their own careers and little else. Generally speaking those who do the actual mission (research, manufacturing, lab work, health and safety.....) tend to try and do the right thing. Those doing the actual job and the first line supervisors tend to be ok, but when you get to the second , third and fourth line supervisors, responsible competent people are pretty much nonexistent.

PS: Every once in a while you will get and old goat like Gray, who is more invested in his ego than the facts, but most scientist will change an opinion in the face of hard data.

Looks like the MSM here in Arizona is getting the message about ethanol. This was on the front page of the AZ Republic.


Ah yes, ethanol is the root cause of all our problems. Let's see:

Citrus up 16.3%. They must use a lot of ethanol in Florida and California.

Fresh Fruit and Vegetables up 5.7%. Those diesel trucks are running on ethanol now you know.

And the poor lowly egg is up to $1.00 per dozen. Still the best bargain in the grocery store. It's that evil ethanol that did it.

I keep reading here that ethanol doesn't contain as much energy as gasoline or diesel. You won't know it from the effect it has on prices. Of course massive government deficits, rising diesel and gasoline prices, and an Iraq war black hole are all irrelevant. It's ethanol that makes prices go up. Give me a break!


"ethanol is the root cause of all our problems"

First, we restate the issue in a totalistic, exaggerated form that no one ever made. Straw man number one.

"Citrus up 16.3%. They must use a lot of ethanol in Florida and California."

Weather, as everyone knows. And irrelevant to any discussion of corn prices and ethanol.

"It's that evil ethanol that did it."

Come off it. Smarmy sarcastic asides are so bush-league.

"Of course massive government deficits, rising diesel and gasoline prices, and an Iraq war black hole are all irrelevant. "

Nobody says they are. Strawman number two.

"It's ethanol that makes prices go up. Give me a break!"

Give us all a break. The whole ethanol play has clearly caused corn prices to soar, with ramifications in many directions.

You have nicely rebutted non-existent positions.

Two Warning Beacons

After reading Matt Simmons' book and after reading the original WSJ article on Cantarell, I started referring to Ghawar and Cantarell as "Two Warning Beacons Burning Brightly in the Night Sky Heralding the Onset of Peak Oil."

IMO, if you can't see the warning beacons burning now, you choose not to see them.

It's later than most of us think.

westtexas I agree with you. To hijack your metaphore we can see the beacons but just can't tell exactly how far from shore we are. But we can hear the waves crashing on the beach and we know that soon we must pass through some very wild surf to make it safely to shore. I don't think there will be any announcment of peak oil followed by the results but the economy will rapidly decline, maybe in a spectacular crash. I think the value of the US dollar should be watched as much as monthly oil production reports. So watch Euro vs USD; gold vs USD and the price of bonds. And up front to your ELP advice: PAY CASH OR DO WITHOUT!


I agree with your points and WT's, would you consider adding, "look to gold and leave land for later" to that?

Thanks for the article on the Welsch town prepping officially for Powerdown. I felt a tinge of fear just going to that link, since I know in my heart that this is what I want to propose to Portland's City Council. Pull together the most concise but thorough collection of reports and interviews to offer to City Counsilors to inform them of the likely ~possibility~ that our fair city (State, Nation, Civ) is going to face a debilitating loss in power, as foreseen coming down any of a number of roads towards us, and that we need to be developing strategies, both Social and Technological to keep things going on Less Power and on Local Power.

I'm baffled that the amount of energy embodied in the trillions of gallons of Tidal Waters moving past our peninsula every day hasn't been tapped.

Anyway, as Alan from Big Easy says in so many ways,
Best Hopes for offering our leadership useful, inspiring and pertinent information to guide their policies and priorities. (and as my brother says.. 'There's a lot to be said for brevity')


Bob Fiske

In your effort, would there be value in puting to tegether what I can only describe as a poll to determine better where their understanding is at ?

Something on the order of Gail The Acctuary's work.

Where IS that 'Theory of Everything' ?

That's a good question. I like the idea of placing concepts in the form of a question, too, since that tends to force a person to actually think about it. Some of those questions might be more about the state of preparedness of the city, than of the state of energy that they are predicting.. hmmm..


Portland Maine, that is. Portland Oregon is way ahead.

Goose, Editors! We need a map to geolocate members. There must be something like that in the scoop library. It would be "good thing" for TOD people to hook up with each other on the hoof.

cfm in Gray, ME

My God...are we going to build a TOD Underground RailRoad.

Speaking of railroads...it appears that Warren Buffet is buying up some pieces of Burlington...around 10%...wonder why that is.

Buffett's Berkshire buys big Burlington stake:
Legendary investor's firm takes stake of more than 10% in railroad Burlington Northern.


It seems to me that the energy crisis is already starting albeit slowly and deliberately.

Yesterday I purchased some gas at my home town station for $2.57. Later I drove to another nearby town and the gas had just been raised to $2.70. Driving back home I then topped off my jeep's tank with the $2.57 figuring that next day it would be boosted to $2.70 or more.

Today it was at $2.71.

These prices are going to start killing us. In fact last year many small niche businesses died off around here. The customers had just stopped coming the owners said. One was a hair salon where apparently many women could no longer afford to go to.

Already I notice prices have been skyrocketing for all items I use. Escalating rapidly and continuing to do so.

As the diesel and gas prices escalate then the prices of all products will likewise increase. This is an ill wind for those on fixed income.

For those on welfare and government handouts it will become even more onerous as time passes.

Many will question the increases but figure they will come back down. When the don't come down but continue the slow inexorable climb then panic will start to set in. Not perhaps in the cities and suburbs but out here where folks already live on a very reduced amount already.

Soon as we blow past $3.50 and then thru $4.00 many will start to seek answers. When the answer comes back "We are running out of oil." Then it will start to worsen much more. Eventually as the truth sets in and the MSM starts to state more of the reality of the situation we will see just how well Americans can stand up to the pain it will bring and just how we will react.

This is how I think it will play out. I think before the summer is over that is where we will be at.


In this neck of the woods (Ireland), petrol is around 1.10 euros per litre - think that works out at well over US$5 per gallon. You guys have a way to go yet !

Yeah, we are at about US$4.50/gal (NZ$1.50/litre) and it is seen as pretty normal here now... I would guess a lot of people can still handle a significant rise before they are willing to believe there are fundamental problems with the oil supply.

"You can never solve a problem on the level on which it was created."
Albert Einstein

airdale...we handled higher gasoline prices last year pretty well and there were some folks getting worried.

This year, I think, it's a little different because of what's going on in the mortgage environment and the continuing constriction of businesses...doing more with less. People are stressed in their jobs and starting to see less and less in the bank after paying things off for the month. If prices get back up to last year's highs...and stay there for a month or so...folks are going to start really wondering what the heck is going on.

While I generally agree with your pricing forecast with my limited experience in RBOB futures, I also noted your behavior to "top off" your tank to save $.14/gal. and can't help but wonder how much you "saved" by visiting the gas station twice in the same day? without mention of the demand side of the equation..
Charlie CO2

A few reasons why. First I tend to drive with a half full tank. Reason is I may see gas a lot cheaper somewhere else and...well it might go down...(lost hope there).

Also the first trip to the station was to fill a 2 gal container for my rototiller. I went to the other town for some pipe tobacco , which has also skyrocketed of late. I paid $9.49 for a 12 oz bag. I also noticed they had TONS of roll ur own loose tobacco!!

Now I had to go back thru my hometown to get back to the farm(well not exactly but is no shorter to take another route) so I topped off by adding a half tank and saved a few coins.

Gas is not going to have to get too far more expensive before I start staying at the farm full time. Its getting that close out here in rural areas. If your a full time farmer you have to use it no matter what and just bite your tongue.

I can roost here on the farm once my garden starts producing. Actually I can roost here now but there are supplies I am laying in now. Like many 25 lb. sacks of flour,etc...

And so on and so forth..won't bore you with the details..

But when I get a chance to fill up with cheaper gas I do.


“Or, to put the priorities of the U.S. government a different way, just $3.33 out of every $100 in U.S. taxpayer dollars spent in Iraq has gone to Iraqi civilian reconstruction (not counting the cost of the security forces” -- Fixing Iraq

“Layered on top of that, you have sort of colonialism 2.1, which is what I was researching when I was in Iraq, which is the looting of the Iraqi state, what was built up under the banner of Arab nationalism, the industry, the factories. The kind of rapid-fire, shock therapy-style strip-mining privatization that we saw in the former Soviet Union in the ’90s, that was the idea, that was Plan A for Iraq, that the US would just go in there with Blackwater guarding Paul Bremer and would sell off all of Iraq’s industries.” "The Worse Things Get in Iraq, the More Privatized This War Becomes, The More Profitable This War Becomes"- Naomi Klein on the Privatization of the State

“My bet for the place that needs the most following is the more than $9 billion that has gone missing without a trace in Iraq--as well as $12 billion in cash that the Pentagon flew into Iraq straight from Federal Reserve vaults via military transports, and for which there has been little or no accounting.”
The Case of the Missing $21 Billion Who's Following the Iraq Money? --COUNTERPUNCH

Let's speculate then, and imagine. Iraq is the first step in the great American plan for dealing with Peak Oil, or in other words, grab all you can, while you can!

Give these a few minutes of your time. Incredible videos.

First the Donald:

Trump: Everything in Washington is a Lie - Video

If you want to REALLY know your goverment, Take some time and watch this.
Alex Jones Invterviews Aaron Russo - Video -


The Russo video will give you a glimpse of what's going on.
You will KNOW what the Federal Reserve is.

(This will give you some of the proof you were looking for Ron)

While you're doing video, try this. I understand there's a movement brewing to get Rosie O'Donnell off the air, for statements she made in the video's posted here, with regards to 9/11.
The first one (left) is great. I don't like O'Donnell, but saying what she does here, in the setting of braindead housewives vehicle the View, hats off. Sign the petition, if you dare.


What was amazing about these videos is that Rosie and Donald are saying the same thing! In the last media event, they were throwing mudpies at each other.

The problem will solve itself.
But not in a nice way.

"Rosie and Donald are saying the same thing"

Not quite. Donald's remark was limited in some very important ways. He limited his remarks to the Irag war and referenced "lies" in DC related to Iraq.

I suspect Trumps engagement is self-serving first and foremost. Remember he talked about 'deals' all over the world. He talked about how much the US is disliked among BOTH allies and non-allies. His profit margin is being negatively impacted. Inquiry path: how many davos meetings ? Also plot his connnections to those people.

Compare Trump to Russso (bullnotbull link). Focus on his disccusions with Nick Rockefeller who was trying to recruit Russo to the council on foreign relations.

Where IS that 'Theory of Everything' ?

Another set of numbers, something like $2.2M/US soldier or $15k/Iraqi is what we are spending per year. I've not checked the math, but estimate the ratio is right. But as Klein points out, this does not fall on the expense side of the ledger, but on the income side. At least for those who matter. If you think it belongs on the expense side, you are in the class that does not matter.

cfm in Gray, ME

Leanan or someone-

I can't get into Stuart's 4-6 Saudi post. I've tried three browsers-Netscape, Foxfire, and Explorer, clearing history with each. Is there a problem with it? Clicking the "there's more" link or the "comments" link brings just the headline, then blank page below. trying the "w/o Comments" link brings the story, but I would like to see the discussion. Thanks.

I don't see any problem.

I would guess it's a problem somewhere between you and TOD. Your ISP or a router somewhere is caching an old version, probably. Can you try via another ISP? Free AOL or something?

From the Simmons interview, 10 thousand people (at last count) saw his CNBC interview via YouTube. Lots of that is due to OilDrum.

cfm in Gray, ME

it's more than that actually, over 25k views.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=4IwtAQzrfiw (hit count under the screen...)

did you see her facial expressions when she repeated Matt about $300 a barrel? not the "deer in the headlights" look but she appeared rather astonished that prices could creep that high. Stunned is more the word.

There appear to be at least two other versions with over 11,000 and 9,000 views as well. That would put total views at over 45,000.

There is no subject more likely to be avoided than the effects of peak oil. The OECD mindset is to defer the inevitable problem until it rears it's ugly head and bites us. I have spent countless hours, over the last ten years, musing over the possible scenerios of the peak situation and it is just way too complex. My wife has begrudgingly come to accept the FACT that peak oil will happen and that there will be dire consequences when it does. Some of my friends are there as well. But the practical facts are

1. You can not live any semblance of what we now consider a normal life with the consequences constantly in the forefront of your consciousness. Most of the time it must be out of your mind or you will not have a working mind.I am a relative doomer and I still do this.Doesn't mean you can't prepare, just can't dwell.

2. We do not know when this will occur. I happen to BELIEVE we are there now, but I don't know that as a FACT. This gives us a conscious and unconscious excuse to avoid it. Most of us grab at that excuse, most of the time.

3. There is the distinct possibility that the decline may be gentle enough to allow us to cope. After all we in the U.S, could drop 10 million barrels a day if we dropped to the Barrels per dollar of GDP of Japan.This plateau may last for a while, but I don't THINK a gentle decline is possible after about 5 years from now. I don't know that. No one does. But the possibility gives us hope.

4. Some of the peak forecasts have been wrong. This is a biggy. Maybe the future forecasts are wrong too! The fact that the EIA, IEA, and CERA have consistently been wrong doesn't matter. It will be more comfortable if WE are wrong.
Personally I feel the decline is upon us and it will slowly accelerate over the next few years. The results of that decline will initially be economic, recessionary and will cause ups and downs in the demand for liquid fuels. However five years or so from now, the drop will be gaining momentum and no short term economic approach will be helpful; Then the logic breaks down.
Resource wars? maybe, even likely.
Mad max scenarios? Perhaps in some locations, but not in others. The LA basin comes to mind.
Depression and increased levels of suicide? Absolutely
A push for better technologies and renewable sources of energy? Absolutely.
Chances of those approaches occuring fast enough to affect the declining economy? Very small.
50 year out forecast? Who the hell knows!

Update of Forecasts using recent EIA data release

Forecast world crude oil & lease condensate (C&C) production still has peak at May 2005 with a -0.4% decline rate to December 2011.

Fig 1 – World Crude Oil & Lease Condensate Forecast – click to enlarge

Saudi Arabia updated C&C forecast to December 2020. Unfortunately production declines until early 2008 when AFK and Shaybah Exp Ph 1 start to produce. Assuming that Saudi Arabia has no surplus capacity, this decline is partly causing the world C&C decline in Fig 1 in late 2007.

Fig 2 – Saudi Arabia Crude Oil & Lease Condensate Forecast – click to enlarge

Saudi Arabia also has a problem with no new megaprojects scheduled for after 2014. Saudi Arabia has no new megaprojects because there have been no new big fields discovered which could become megaprojects. The peak discovery year for the entire Middle East Gulf is now over 30 years ago in 1965 as shown in Fig 3.

Fig 3 – Middle East Oil Discovery Peak and Production (hubbertpeak.com)

The figure below shows that peak discovery for the world also occurred in the same year of peak discovery for the Middle East, being 1965. As no recent large world discoveries have been made, assume that the production rates shown by the red line will decline.

Fig 4 – World Oil Discovery Peak and Production Peak (hubbertpeak.com)

CERA and ExxonMobil must be aware of Figs 3 and 4, yet they continue to say that the world will peak around 2030. Here is a chart from ExxonMobil showing world discovery peaking also on about 1965.

Fig 5 – The Growing Gap (ExxonMobil) – click to enlarge

A more recent graph from Robelius thesis
shows a sharp fall in the discovered recoverable reserves in giant fields since the 1960s.

The figure below shows over 400 billion barrels of oil were discovered between 1960-69. From 2000-06, only about 25 billion barrels were discovered in giant fields. In 2007, the world will consume over 31 billion barrels of total oil liquids. That means, in this year alone, the world will consume more oil than all the oil found in giant fields in the last seven years (2000-06)! (A giant field is defined as a field with recoverable reserves greater than 500 million barrels.)

Fig 6 – Discovered Recoverable Reserves in Giant Fields by Decade – click to enlarge

Great post, ace. It's nice to see the rest of the world gets a mention during TOD's Ghawar week :-)

However, putting together your Fig.2 and Stuart et. al's fantastic work, your SA downslopes between 2008 and 2011 look on the shallow side to me. IMO there may be too much headwind from declining existing production to overcome over the period. My hunch would be ~8.0 to 8.5mbopd at Jan 2012.

My hunch is also that I'm optimistic. I think that Khurais will struggle to deliver 1.1 mb/d. Decline rates of existing fields are also a challenge.

However, even if 9 mb/d is produced on Jan 2012, world supply will not be able to meet demand.

Agreed. The IEA stated existing SA production was falling by 800kbpd per year so they need ~3.5m by 2012 from new developments just to stand still. That's a huge challenge because they need more infrastructure for the new production and more for the rising water cut from existing production. They can reuse the stuff after the water separation plants but not before. Just looks too hard to me.

Fantastic recent work on Ghawar in the main posts. Many thanks to all the contributors.

Well don't expect Russia to step in and fill the gap...

From the FT 7th April:

Russia's oil reserves shrank by 7.3bn barrels between 1994 and 2005 as the country failed to replace dwindling west Siberian reserves with new discoveries in east Siberia and other regions, an official said yesterday. "The proportion of reserves that can be extracted has fallen from 42 per cent at the start of the 1990s to 27 per cent," Sergei Fyodorov, head of subsoil policy at Russia's Natural Resources Ministry, told a conference.

So much for new technology increasing URR! Another report here:


Russian oil companies once again failed to achieve full oil reserve replacement in 2004, with newly discovered deposits representing only 72 percent of the total output, Sergei Fyodorov, an official with the Russian Natural Resources Ministry said on Friday, March 25. Fyodorov said that Russia added only 330 million tons (2.4 billion barrels) in new reserves against 2004 output of 458 million tons.

Or Mexico... Matt Simmons' said in the interview (link above) that Mexico may cease to be an oil exporter by 2010.

I'm predicting absolute oil shortages in the summer or fall before 'demand destruction' gets to work. Any TODers agree?

I'm predicting absolute oil shortages in the summer or fall before 'demand destruction' gets to work. Any TODers agree?

Seems possible and that's assuming that there aren't unforeseen geopolitical events ranging from MEND in Nigeria, the SHTF in the Gulf with GWB vs Amadinejad, or some of the al Quaeda hatchlings pulling off a hit on oil infrastructure.

And as a post note, as a lay person I want to thank all those folks who have spent so much effort & time looking at the data from the KSA's star field. Fascinating and should be required reading for those people that are supposed to be working on a "rational" energy policy.