DrumBeat: May 10, 2007

Total SA says two killed in fire at Congo oil field, production halted

A fire at an oil field operated by Total SA killed two people and injured two others, the French petroleum giant said Thursday.

The fire halted production causing a loss of 60,000 barrels a day, company officials said in a statement disseminated on state-run radio.

The cause of the blaze at the Kossa oil field, around 570 kilometers (354 miles) from Brazzaville, was unknown. Flames engulfed the oil field before dawn, and the fire was still burning late Thursday. Company officials said their investigation so far had turned up a suspicious boat, its hull and body completely burned.

Gunmen kill 2 police in Nigeria oil area

Gunmen jumped from a minibus in Nigeria's southern oil center and killed two police officers Thursday in the latest violence to strike the petroleum-producing region, officials said.

Richard Heinberg: Coal’s Future in Doubt

The three primary take-away conclusions from the new coal study are as follows:

• “World proven reserves (i.e. the reserves that are economically recoverable at current economic and operating conditions) of coal are decreasing fast….

• “The bulk of coal production and exports is getting concentrated within a few countries and market players, which creates the risk of market imperfections.

• “Coal production costs are steadily rising all over the world, due to the need to develop new fields, increasingly difficult geological conditions and additional infrastructure costs associated with the exploitation of new fields.”

Why aren't Americans using less gas?

"Prices by themselves have to go higher than they are now and stay there for a longer time for customers to change their minds in a significant way," says Tom Libby, senior analyst at J.D. Power. In other words, don't expect a big shift like we saw during the gas crises of the 1970s, when fuel availability - not fuel prices - was the issue.

A World of Difference in Energy Access

About 56 percent of total energy use comes from traditional biomass — mostly firewood. The top 20 biomass users in the world are all African countries, with the exception of Nepal (fourth), Haiti (11th) and Myanmar (12th), according to the book.

The growing appetite for energy has helped shrink forests. Nearly 45,000 square kilometers of forest were lost in low income countries between 1990 and 2005, and another 38,000 square kilometers of forest were lost in lower middle income countries.

Trade gap exceeds forecasts

The U.S. trade deficit widened more than expected in March to $63.9 billion, as higher oil prices helped push total imports to the second highest on record, a U.S. government report showed Thursday.

The trade gap swelled 10.4 percent from February, the Commerce Department said, surprising Wall Street economists who had expected a more modest expansion.

OVL finds huge gas reserve in Iran

NEW DELHI: ONGC Videsh Ltd, (OVL) on Wednesday announced that the company has made a natural gas discovery with in-place reserves being estimated at around 10 trillion cubic feet in Iran.

World Powers Eye Central Asia's Energy

The EU wants to secure energy supplies by pledging aid; Russia and China are countering with a different tack; and Turkey has a renewed interest in the region

Urban farms empower Africa - Aid providers in Congo and elsewhere are discovering that lessons in farming can succeed where food handouts have not.

There are unique considerations when it comes to urban farming, Wally says: He can't grow crops that will get too tall, or else they will absorb too much pollution. Also, bandits might hide in the foliage. Better to keep the vegetables low and leafy.

Oil, Food, and the Coming Crisis in Agriculture

Eating Fossil Fuels begins and ends with a very basic assessment, something that too few people completely understand or think about, and yet is absolutely critical to our well-being on planet Earth: our food supply is highly dependent on hydrocarbons, whether as fossil fuel or petrochemical additives. In the 1950s and 1960s when population growth threatened to outrun food stores, an international agricultural program, now referred to as the Green Revolution, was initiated to increase farm production all around the world through the intensified use of petrochemical fertilizers and irrigation. The results were impressive. Production nearly tripled. In the years since, low cost fossil fuels have increasingly become a critical part of all facets of industrial agriculture from the growing to the packaging to the transportation to the preparation of the product, to the extent, as Mr. Pfeiffer would say, we are all but eating fossil fuel.

Clean Power That Reaps a Whirlwind

The wind turbines rising 180 feet above this dusty village at the hilly edge of Inner Mongolia could be an environmentalist’s dream: their electricity is clean, sparing the horizon sooty clouds or global warming gases.

But the wind-power generators are also part of a growing dispute over a United Nations program that is the centerpiece of international efforts to help developing countries combat global warming.

China beating India for African oil

India is competing with China in the African continent over two issues: Oil reserves in Africa and its strong presence in the United Nations in terms of membership. African membership will play a crucial role in determining India's chances of getting a seat in the UN Security Council.

Putin begins Central Asia tour aimed at boosting Moscow's energy power

Russian President Vladimir Putin, on a Central Asian tour aimed at boosting Russia's influence in the region's rich energy sector, on Thursday agreed to allow more Kazakh oil to be shipped through Russian territory.

Oil giant warns of legal action

Marathon Oil Corp. says regulators have warned the company that it may face legal action for allegedly attempting to manipulate crude oil prices in 2003.

Conoco CEO: Has not received firm proposal on Venezuela talks

ConocoPhillips has not yet received a definite proposal from the Venezuelan government on the future commercial terms of its investment there, but expects one before the end of June, Chief Executive Jim Mulva said Wednesday.

Refinery workers raise safety worries

Invoking the memory of BP's deadly Texas City explosion, ConocoPhillips refinery workers told the company's top executives Wednesday that budget cuts may be compromising plant safety.

Former weed may fill world's fuel tanks

From China to Brazil, countries have begun setting aside tens of thousands of acres for the cultivation of jatropha – a plant many experts say is the most promising source for biodiesel. At the same time, companies from Europe and India have begun buying up land throughout Africa to establish jatropha plantations.

Denmark banks on offshore wind power for 'clean' future

Denmark, a world leader in wind energy production and consumption, has built the world's largest offshore wind park in the North Sea as it aims to generate 75 percent of its electricity needs with wind power by 2025.

Tom Whipple - The Peak Oil Crisis: The Summer Ahead

Last week they began kidnapping foreign workers at an alarming pace —22 foreigners kidnapped in 36 hours— and overran offshore platforms and production ships. On Monday, the strongest militant group issued a chilling ultimatum. “All foreign and local nationals working with multinational oil companies and their contractor should vacate Ijaw territory (the oil producing region) immediately.” “All foreign embassies should withdraw their nationals from our homelands.” “Nothing can protect them --- No more hostages taking -- Any national caught shall be summarily dealt with.” By the way, these guys have a good track record for doing what they say they are going to do. The next morning, three major oil pipelines were bombed, shutting down another 150,000 barrels per day of oil production. Total production shutdown by the insurgency is now on the order of 900,000 barrels per day. The insurgents have demonstrated that they have the capability of shutting down most, if not all, of Nigeria’s oil production.

Ukraine Looks to Canada for Nuclear Energy Help

Ukraine is actively searching for alternative energy supplies to avoid another energy crisis, and Canadian nuclear technology and expertise could play a big role, the country's foreign minister said Monday.

Africa faces energy crisis - report

Africa faces an energy crisis. It is not getting enough energy for its growing needs and the resources currently being used the most, are running out.

Biofuel boom leading to price hikes of food products

Rising demand for plant-derived bioethanol has led to a shortage of cooking oil, pushing up prices of food products such as mayonnaise, and likely beef and even beer.

India: Lest ‘power’ potholes trip a sizzling economy

Chronic power shortages are a serious problem. They can just be the potholes to trip an economy that is estimated to sizzle at a double-digit growth rate. “Economic growth in developing countries is extremely energy hungry. An analysis of electricity generation vis-à-vis the GDP growth rates reveals an elasticity of close to 1.2 per cent,” explains Mr Singh. “In absolute terms this translates to an annual capacity addition requirement in excess of 17000 MW per year. Even considering improvements in energy efficiency, the number is not likely to be substantially lower. Against this, the country has been achieving barely 4000 – 5000 MW a year in the past.”

Nepal: Fuel shortage hits Valley

The Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), Nepal's sole oil supplier, has curtailed the supply of petroleum products by 40 percent to Nepal, sparking a fresh round of fuel shortage in the capital.

Namibia: Surprise! Second Petrol Price Shock in a Month

FUEL prices have been increased for the second time in a month, with the Ministry of Mines and Energy attributing the increase to high international oil prices and the depreciation of the South African rand - to which the local currency is pegged - against the U.S. dollar.

Refinery down time being felt at pump

"The key driver (of high gas prices) has been refinery down time, planned and unplanned," said Tom Kloza, a leading industry analyst for the Oil Price Information Service in Wall, N.J. Planned shutdowns included increased maintenance at West Coast refineries. Unplanned ones stemmed from accidents including fires at BP's Whiting, Ind., facility and Valero's plant in McKee.

Gas price expected to rise in summer

Gasoline, already past $3 a gallon, is poised to rise this summer as robust demand for the fuel once again outpaces the ability of U.S. refineries to produce it.

The reasons for high gas prices are many, ranging from the falling dollar to extraordinarily low supplies at gas stations and refineries, to tight markets around the world. But a new culprit emerged this year: Washington's push to incorporate more ethanol into transportation fuels.

Consumer advocates say 'hot fuel may inflate price at the pump

If you think filling up costs a lot now, just wait until the dog days of summer.

Fuel expands when temperatures rise, but most retail gas station nozzles don't adjust for volume differences based on temperature. That oversight means California motorists could be losing up to 3 cents on every gallon, or $480 million annually, according to an estimate by the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights.

Statoil cuts 2007 oil and gas production target by 100,000 to 150,000 barrels per day

Norwegian oil company Statoil ASA said Thursday it was cutting its 2007 oil and gas production targets by between 7.6 and 11.5 percent due to delays on new fields and other projects.

Resourcex Introduction to Mining and Mining Investment

Greenhouse gas emissions and global warming, along with the likelihood of peak oil putting upward pressure on established energy prices and eventually knocking out supply – these have conspired to put nuclear back on the global agenda, regardless of what environmentalists have to say about it.

...To put it simply, we are entering an era of scarcity. It’s increasingly difficult to supply enough gold, uranium, nickel, copper, fuel and so on to the millions that are added to the world’s (read: Chinese and Indian) middle class each year. During the period 1980 to 2000, China’s GDP quadrupled, resulting in an incredible boom in its middle class that still goes on today. And what do middle class people do? They watch TV, drive cars, and wear jewelry. In short, they consume, and, as I stated earlier, everything that is not grown must be mined.

Cornucopian catechism: Notes from Pittsburgh

Simultaneously I contacted several foundations and “Green” organizations; specifically asking them to look at Portland’s Peak Oil Task Force Report and --if they would not mind- get back to me on what relevance it had for our city. One foundation president forwarded my email to his economic development director –an interesting choice over his environmental area. This director replied, “We [have] … a sensible agenda around alternative energy … using market-based mechanisms as one way to achieve progress toward environmental sustainability.” She would not comment of the Portland Task Force Report; and “sensible” is code for don’t mess with economic growth as well as, I conjecture, for dismissing peak oil as “non-sensible.”

Addiction to oil is U.S. defense issue

You can agree with me, the liberal tree-hugging energy watchdog, who's pointing to the numbers and urging a dialogue for change. Or you can agree with the energy corporations, whose only purpose in life is to make lots of money today and grow their stock value. Or our government, whose interests are obviously driving us to a net energy-losing, climate-changing end. Or you can live in a fog of denial. The choice is yours.

Editorial: Don't like gas prices?

As gasoline crosses that especially nauseating $3 per gallon line again, it's time to look at ourselves in the mirror again:

Don't complain about the prices when you're driving your gas-guzzling truck, SUV or muscle car.

Oil Industry Keen on Biofuels

The oil barons (or energy companies, as they preferred to be called) are increasingly tying up with biofuel and chemical companies to diversify their sources. From BP to Chevron to Shell, investments in ethanol and biodiesel are opening the doors to their refineries to alternative fuels.

Saudi cautious on oil plans as demand uncertain

Saudi Arabia's reluctance to commit to boosting oil production capacity beyond 2009 is a response to the potentially huge impact on future demand of energy efficiency, alternative fuels and high prices.

Demand uncertainty is providing little incentive for oil producers to risk investing billions of dollars on long-term projects to boost capacity, as they worry it will lie idle.

Surge in biofuels OPEC headache

Increased use of biofuels and other measures that steer consumers away from oil could prompt OPEC to rethink its investment plans, an official from the crude producer group said yesterday.

..."We have great concerns about this ... about policies which discriminate against oil," Fuad Siala, alternative energy sources analyst at the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, said at a Hart energy conference in Brussels. "We have legitimate concerns to revisit our investment plans."

Chevron Says Hit by Two Separate Nigeria Militant Attacks

U.S. oil major Chevron Corp. (CVX) on Wednesday said four foreign contractors working for the company were abducted Tuesday evening following one of two attacks by militants on offshore oil barges.

Iran’s Oil Ministry is set to begin gasoline rationing on May 22

Iran’s Oil Ministry is set to begin gasoline rationing on May 22.

However, with only 12 days left until the rationing plan is to be implemented, no decision has been made on how many liters each car will be allowed to consume per day or month at the fixed price of 1000 rials per liter.

China Energy Watch: Oil Strike Spurs New Exploration Hopes

PetroChina Co.'s (PTR) confirmation of huge oil reserves near Tianjin may revitalize exploration in the shallow northeastern waters that lap the Chinese mainland, and tempt back major oil companies scared away by a string of dry wells more than a decade ago.

But analysts warned the estimated 7.33 billion barrels of oil equivalent found at the Nanpu block of the Jidong field may also harden attitudes in China's government against foreign oil companies being given access to new acreage.

China says threat from global warming 'urgent'

China this year faces its greatest threat in a decade from typhoons, floods, droughts and other extreme weather caused by climate change, state media reported on Thursday.

Climate change issue heats Capitol Hill

Even as the climate change issue spurred debate among U.S. lawmakers, a demographer said that while Americans take this matter seriously, they are lukewarm about taking any tough action to control it.

Bangkok turns lights out to highlight global warming

Thailand's capital turned the lights out Wednesday in an effort to raise awareness of global warming, with six Bangkok neighbourhoods plunged into partial darkness for 15 minutes.

Warming in Asia, Africa, threatens US :military brass

An energy crisis could be sparked if rising sea-levels flooded the Niger delta or storms resulting from climate change damaged oil installations.

My take on this week’s inventory report is up:

This Week in Petroleum 5-9-07

I know it’s a day late, but considering the circumstances, I think I did OK. :-)

I don’t think prices have peaked, as some analysts have suggested. We may get some relief this week, but we are heading into summer with very low inventory levels.

Many here know that I do not believe world oil production has peaked (although I don’t believe we are far off), and I have maintained that the import behavior we see is seasonal. I do want to call attention to the fact that oil imports are sharply up – as I predicted they would be in May and June as refiners came out of their turnarounds, and are running almost a million barrels a day higher than the year ago levels (and are just short of record levels). Furthermore, I note that crude prices are lower than they were a year ago, which tends to indicate that we aren’t in a bidding war for oil. Given that China and India have also said that they are importing record amounts of oil, I maintain that there is no export crisis that has been caused by a peak in oil production, and that what was perceived as such was just imports behaving as they do every year: Falling off in the early spring and fall, rising in the late spring and summer.

So far in 2007, the US is importing about 150,000 bpd more of crude than in 2006. The US is also refining about 150,000 more bpd this year, and being that the US dollar is still the prime petrocurrency, it is not surprising that the US has the means and ability bid up the price just enough to meet its imports needs.

One or two week anomalies in imports do not represent a trend. The fact that most world prices are a few dollars less than a year ago also does not mean much, as we have seen only a month ago prices rose $5 in a matter of minutes with the slightest negative news in the Mideast.

It's premature to think we will make it through our second year post-peak light sweet crude without higher prices.

One or two week anomalies in imports do not represent a trend.

It's not one or two week anomalies. Look for yourself:


We have been running ahead of last year's crude imports for 5 weeks (and will almost certainly set new records this summer, just as we did last summer), and yet crude prices are lower than last year:


You have probably also seen the statements from China and India that they are importing record amounts of crude.

So, I will repeat the question I have asked here many times. What does it take to convince you that the import situation does not support an oil production peak? I have never received a satisfactory answer to this question. The response I usually get is either another question, or a red herring.

Well, some countries are seeing reduced imports.

Parts of Nepal are experiencing fuel shortages after a state-run Indian energy company cut oil supplies to the country by 40% last week.

Re: We have been running ahead of last year's crude imports for 5 weeks

maybe compared to last year but historically imports are back where they should be for the first time since last March:

We need a few more weeks to confirm this increase. Crude oil import number are extremely noisy and it is hard to see a short term trend. However, after running a 4-weeks moving average, we get a better view:

In addition, refinery utilization (89%) is still below average (should be around 92-93% at this time of the year) so what's the point to import more crude if we can't refine it? Crude oil stock coverage (excluding SPR) is around the historical average (22 days). I agree with you that the import numbers (and inventory levels) do not support a peak production hypothesis but rather a refinery bottleneck. Also, prices seems to have an effect on imports:

I agree with you that the import numbers (and inventory levels) do not support a peak production hypothesis but rather a refinery bottleneck. Also, prices seems to have an effect on imports:

Your charts and comments always great. So what of the world crude inventory numbers? Any data to support that it will be difficult to import more gasoline b/c of crude stocks below 'normal' in places where the US usually looks for finished products?

This morn
Crude oil Rises on signs Gasoline Supply is Insufficient

Re: So what of the world crude inventory numbers?

I have only data for the OCDE countries:

Stocks have been going down a little bit since the summer 2006 but are still at record high levels, clearly not consistent with a falling supply. Note that these numbers include both commercial and government controlled stockpiles (i.e. SPR) so this picture is maybe a little bit rosy.

Nice chart. Then maybe the refinery bottleneck exists elsewhere too. Gasoline up sharply today.

Is the chart updated through the first quarter of 2007?


IEA warns on oil inventories after big Q1 drop
Thu Apr 12, 2007 5:37 AM EDT
By Alex Lawler

LONDON (Reuters) - Oil stocks in consumer nations posted the biggest first-quarter drop in a decade and may fall further in coming months, the International Energy Agency said, keeping the heat under crude prices.

In its April monthly report on Thursday, the adviser to 26 industrialized countries also shaved its 2007 world oil demand forecast by 250,000 barrels per day to 85.8 million bpd though left growth in oil use unchanged.

Oil inventories are falling as supply cuts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries kick in. Lower stocks have helped boost U.S. crude prices to $62 a barrel from below $50 in mid-January.

"There has been a sharp stockdraw in the first quarter," Lawrence Eagles, head of the IEA's Oil Industry and Markets Division, told Reuters.

"It's clearly had a tightening impact and we think it's going to carry on having a tightening impact on the market."

Inventories in the OECD fell by 80.5 million barrels in February. Preliminary March data for the United States, Japan and Europe suggest OECD stocks may fall by about 1 million bpd in the first quarter, the agency said.

No, the last available date is December 2006. The data is here:


From the IEA Oil Market Report (April 2007):

Total OECD industry stocks were 2,597.1 mb at the end of February, down 80.5 mb from January, and 49.6 mb lower than a year ago. Total crude inventories stood at 921.0 mb, 9.1 mb lower than in January, and down by 43.6 mb year-on-year. Total refined product stocks fell by 72.3 mb in February to 1,391.1 mb, or 12.8 mb lower year-on-year. Despite the draw-down, weaker demand kept end-February forward cover at 54 days, unchanged from the previous month and end-February 2006. Taking preliminary (and incomplete) March data into account, the first quarter remains on track for an OECD stock draw of around 1.0 mb/d. As noted in last month’s report, this would represent the steepest first-quarter decline in stocks since 1996.

RE: clearly not consistent with a falling supply

When I build my food stockpile, I size it not on a given amount of liters or kilograms but on my family consumption: 10 years ago we were 2 adults, now there are 3 children, two cats and some chickens, so the stock is more important.

I find strange in this nice diagram that nearly all stocks did not grow very much in 20 years when the consumption did.

It looks like that neither governments nor businesses made stocks adjustments in line with the consumption growth, so either they could not (falling supply) or did not think about it or thougth they were big enough, in that case stock analysis is irrelevant.

A way to measure the adequacy of stocks relative to current demand levels is the stock coverage:

stock coverage has been increasing from 51 days in 2004 to 54-55 in 2006. If peak oil supply is occurring about now, I should expect a big drop in stock coverage.

Why a "big" drop. I think a consistent, even though gradual drop would be perfectly reasonable. For example, US production fall was very gradual initially. Mexican production had its highest month in 2003, highest year in 2004, but has only shown a significant decline over the last year. Typically, the initial signs of a peak have been subtle prior to becoming obvious. We just don't have a long enough period to determin yet. If the trend above were to continue only another 5 mos (I'm not stating it will - I'm waiting to see), it would actually be dramatic, and that is really not a very long period.

It depends also on how demand for oil will evolve (mainly reacting to prices), the stock coverage can remain constant if both demand an supply are falling at the same rate. However, a 54 days coverage can melt quite rapidly if demand is growing and supply is dropping or even staying constant.

Why, Khebab? This picture is the OECD only, the wealthiest part of the planet. In a market where supplies are constricting, it is common to see people build spare inventories at lower prices for consumption later when the price is higher.

Your statement would be true of the world as a whole but not of just the OECD. In fact, if the OECD is outbidding the rest of the world, a crude build in the OECD is one possible artifact of that. We cannot tell from these numbers without global data since the OECD is the wealthiest subset of nations on the planet.

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

I think wealth is only half the picture. Energy as a portion of GDP is probably equally important.

If you were looking at Louis Vittion (sp?) handbags, then wealth would be the crucial factor. However, energy is only partially a luxury item.

Countries such as Thailand, Korea and China import oil in large part to fuel industry and exports. Oil is a leveraged resource in the production process. For every dollar less they spend on this oil they lose $1x dollars in industrial production and export revenue.

High oil prices are far more likely to lead to reduced consumption in poor Americans than mega-rich third world elites or those who are using it for industrial production and exports.

As Peakearl noted, the initial Lower 48 decline was quite gradual, an average of less than 1% per year, over the first two years, and this was without the benefit of nonconventional crude oil production.

Also, the OECD inventories don't reflect the world situation.

IMO, the key point is the world crude oil production response we have seen to the oil price increase. Oil prices are up by two-thirds, on average, relative to the average price in the 20 months prior to 5/05, and crude oil production is down by about 1%, relative to 5/05. The pattern of lower crude oil production versus higher crude oil prices is what we saw in the Lower 48 in the Seventies.

BTW, gasoline prices are jumping today. Traders noticed that outside the west coast, US gasoline inventories fell by about 700,000 barrels.

I think looking at stocks as just as snap shot in time doesnt tell the whole story... 10 years ago every major oil company would have held stocks for its own refining system..with all the mergers that have taken place Exxon/Mobil, BP/Amoco, Chevron/Texaco etc etc has meant that combined systems have meant synergies, such that costly working capital tied up in stocks can be reduced as the need of the 2 combined is not as great as the sum of the 2 companies as individuals...so comparing stocks even 5 years ago to current can be somewhat misleading as you are not comapring apples and apples. More importantly however is how the market looked at differnt points in time. A look at the forward curve of the market will give you a idea of the propensity of the market to store oil. In a contango it pays you to store and sell at a later date since the deferred price of oil is greater than the cost of storrage, time value of money and potential shrinkage...At the moment it pays you to store current crude production and sell out around late summer next year. Hence we have comfortable stocks of crude comapred to 5 yr averages (but then I'm falling into the trap above)..On the other hand gasoline is steeply backwardated and prompt production should be sold rather than stored and so it is no surprise stocks are low..

So when looking at storrage and comparing points in time it is important to know the market dynamics governing the periods being compared.

Thank you and goodnight.

Welcome to TOD, Fletch.

Good comment.


What is the world total of crude exports? Where can I find that? Focusing on one country, expecially the mac daddy of countries as of this moment, is a bit misleading. There was a nearly $5 spread between WTI and Brent and this is due to refineries I can see. However, when the Brent price is rising and now stands at $65 give or take, this prices have to arbitrage there way together. I surmise WTI rises more than Brent falls.

The Price within the oil sector is ambigous and does not convey value. I mean a cup of gas is far cheaper than even a cup of coffee! And I think we can both agree, cafeeine might be valuable, it's not more so than energy sources like oil. Instead of talking about the price of something lets talk raw numbers like volume. Thus this is why I am asking where total export numbers lie. Let's just compare some raw export numbers to see how much oil is being sent abroad and how much is staying home. When we've got a huge drop in spite of increased rig counts, something's not right. Just a thought.

I have always agreed that the US situation, while obviously a major factor, doesn't tell us the overall supply or export situation. This is why the concerned words coming recently from the IEA about supplies for the Pacific and Europe have been so notable. I am really wondering what tomorrow's OMR will have to say about this. Can't conclude much without this information going forward.

Robert asked:

So, I will repeat the question I have asked here many times. What does it take to convince you that the import situation does not support an oil production peak?

The import situation only indicates that the US, Indian and Chinese domestic economies support importing crude at $61.81 (nymex) at this time. There's plenty of oil available at $61.81 today.

If these markets could only support importing crude at $50/barrel, they would experience severe shortages of crude imports. The ability of one or three countries to maintain domestic crude inventories has little to do with total world supply availability and everything to do with price.

I am not sure you can push those price comparisons too far - from the table you reference, average price in March and April in 2006 was $56.33 and $64.28 versus $57.92 and $63.67 for this year. I would put those as practically unchanged. Price thus far for May does, granted, appear lower.

The response I usually get is either another question, or a red herring.

I thought you usually got accused of being an oil company stooge, but maybe I'm not pay enough attention.

No, that's what happens when I bother to correct some misconception about oil companies - like "They take refineries offline in the spring just to drive prices up." There are numerous myths out there, and I can't correct them without someone saying "You would say that."

I agree imports have little to do with po, at least now... dd in africa and other poor regions is still allowing china/us/exporters to consume more. Henry Groppe thinks that 60/b is high enough to generate more dd in poor places because some oil is still burned for heat/elect gen... however, imo the capital requirement for third world countries to switch from imported oil to imported ng will prove a formidable barrier.

It is interesting that, notwithstanding modest worldwide refinery expansion, just 2% increased us gasoline consumption is apparently causing a worldwide gasoline shortage, expressed by reduced production in the us and reduced imports into us. Certainly looks as if the quality of crude and/or all liquids is down.

Far better evidence of a peak is that c+c is still trending down from 2005 even though prices are still high enough to allow all producers near record profits - even norway off shore costs are only 30/b, providing plenty of incentive to produce more. All liquids also peaked in 2005 after correcting for the 1/3 reduced energy content of ethanol... indeed, this point may be a part of why higher all liquids are not sufficient to slake our gasoline thirst. IMO the burden of proof is on those predicting a future peak, and the prediction that sa will ever again produce 9mb/d for an extended period presents a similar challenge.

What one would expect at peak is that production plateaus, there would be a worldwide shortage of rigs (but not ships), project delays, one country after another apparently peaking, prices far higher than cost of production, widespread movements towards alternatives (not all of which would be either successful or sustainable), nationalization of energy supplies as prices rise and power flows from ioc's to resource owners, sympathetic price rises from alternative energy sources eg ng/coal/nuclear, and discussions by some exporters that perhaps it is anyway better to slow exports and save more for the future. Against all of these signs the bottoms up analysts are (still) looking for higher output to come on line fast enough to more than offset accelerating worldwide declines.

IMO we are repeating the seventies, with no end in sight, and will see higher avg prices every year until, if and when, sufficient lower cost alternatives are brought to market. I see us off the plateau by 2010, with widespread acknowledgement of po prompting a push for fuel efficient cars and frenzied bidding for the few us oil companies with expanding reserves. At the end of the seventies energy companies had grabbed 30% of the s&p500; in the present epoch we have so far only doubled to 10%.

Actually, there is some really bad news out today, with major retailers reporting their worst month in 28 years. Retail sales look awful. We may be seeing a recession. That will cut oil use.
Already (thanks to huge tax cuts for our wealthiest) the US Government is running big deficits, and our trade deficit – you don't want to know about it, We are still stuck in a hugely expensive war in Iraq.
What this boils down to may be a decrease in US demand for fossil crude soon. I confess, I do not know why we are using more and more gasoline as prices triple. It does take time for fleets to changeover, and habits to change, and we are changing, but too slowly. We are also importing 2 million people every year, so that is a factor too.
But recessions are shown to cut demand rather quickly. The bad news is that a recession will cut demand so much that oil prices will plunge too, leading us back to profligate ways.
I am still way optimistic on the long-term future, one in which we can drive down Peak Demand in front of Peak Oil. With bios and plug-in hybrids, the question need not be "how much growth in fossil oil use" but "How much is the drop this year?" Consider also that people are moving back into central cities, thus reducing commutes etc.
We are 5-10 years from there from move improved energy efficiency, but we are getting closer every day. The qustion is, will oil prices drop and flummox efficiency drives?
But for now, get ready for a recession. This one could be ugly.

The bad news is that a recession will cut demand so much that oil prices will plunge too, leading us back to profligate ways.

This time there is China and India ready to pounce on any opportunity to step in an take any oil that the US leaves behind. Plus, any country that has any sense at all should view any price downturn as an opportunity to add to their SPR.

Well...the Shanghai index has doubled of late, and trades at 50 times earnings...we have seen this before...usually leads to bust (think Japan, and the NASDAQ bust in 2000) ...some say the yuan is 40 percent undervalued, and a correction must happen....you could see something ugly happen in China if the US goes into a recession....world supplies are adequate now, so a drop in demand should lead to price softness...demand for fossil crude has been weakening worldwide....just waiting on BP report on 2006, which should show third straight year of shrinking increases in fossil crude demand, and possibly a flat year...2007 may be flat, even without a recession...Europe and US close to flat already....fascinating epoch ahead... we may have passed Peak Demand already or soon, if this price regime holds....

Benjamin, how you doing....? :-)

Let's talk.

First, I can't help but notice that you have not been here real long as a registered poster.

The first thing you may have already noticed is that saying demand can drop as well as go up is EXTREMELY unpopular here. It ranks right up there with saying that any technology EXCEPT oil and gas technology can actually make a difference....not well recieved. Solar, wind, plug hybrid, electric, etc., are about as welcome here as they would be an ExxonMobil executive conference room.

But your views are refreshing, at least until they turn on the blocker on all of us! :-)

Now to some of your points:
First, it is interesting that you mention 28 years ago. I just finished sending my invite to my 30th high school reunion, so it is a period I remember well.

The United States has not suffered a serious recession in about that long. Oh, some little slow downs, yes, but not a serious recession. As you so correctly have pointed out in other posts, prior recessions of a great magnitude have flattened consumption of oil for a VERY long time, the last time, about a decade. Even when oil consumption recovered, it did not at first recover as fast as in prior periods, prices collapsed completely, and the oil industry suffered one of the most horrific periods since the great depression. This is what the oil companies fear, right or wrongly, much more than peak.

The problem is, no one KNOWS how much oil is out there. Oh, I know, they have fantastic charts, and "Linearizations", and production figures, but they just can't KNOW. But what can it matter, right? We know that peak is coming someday, so we should be ready now. I am one who absolutely believes, that for national security, balance of trade, and not funding our enemies, we should be on emergency efforts NOW to develop alternatives and a conservation economy of high technology "elegant design solutions. Why is it not happening?

For the same reason that, as you say, "I confess, I do not know why we are using more and more gasoline as prices triple."

The thing we must look at compared to the 1970's is not the price per se, but the price per hour worked, or how it compares to current American income and wealth, and the base from which it began rising as a percent of American consumer income and expenditure. The truth is, the penelty in gasoline/Diesel cost when compared against these things has been shockingly low.

For two decades, in the greatest economic recovery in history in the 1980's/90's, incomes rose, invested assets and income rose, and fuel prices, in one of the most counter cyclical moves in history, first dropped through the floor and then stayed there! By the time of the first Gulf War, oil prices were so cheap that it had become a threat to world peace, as the oil producers, with their backs against the wall, tried to beg for mercy.

Iraq, deep in debt from the Iran Iraq War with a growing population, felt they had to stop Kuwait from selling oil at idiotically cheap prices. When they invaded, Saudi Arabia was terrified, because they knew they had been doing the same thing as Kuwait.

All this a long way to explain: Gasoline is still not nearly expensive enough compared to wealth to make the effort to change worth it.

I did a chart last night, for my own education, showing what the yearly change in gasoline cost has been as prices increased for a relatively reasonable commute and gas mileage vehicle. The results were astounding:

For a 40 mile round trip daily commute (easily enough to get to the suburbs and back), and a car that gets only 20 miles per gallon (many get better), the cost breakdown, 52 weeks a year at $2.00 per gallon is $1040 dollars in fuel per year.

Now get this, if the price goes to $3.50 from the above $2.00, the cost to commute on the year is $1820, or an increase of $780 PER YEAR.

Should that horrible day of $4.00 gas arrive, the penelty will be $1040 dollars PER YEAR, for a daily 40 mile commute getting only 20 miles per gallon! And that's counting from $2.00 per gallon!

Last night when I ran some of these numbers, it sent folks into a bit of a snit. Frankly, that surprised me. The truth is though the price of fuel would indicate no need for major change! As a part of income, it's just not that big a deal. You can extend the math on out and see that fuel will have to get MUCH HIGHER to cause people to make major change.

Benjamin, here's the deal. The technology to reduce comsumption BIG is waiting on the shelf. But automakers, home builders, etc., are not going to put it in mass production until they see a real market for it. Selling the need for consumption reduction on "Peak Oil" alone will simply not work. I am interested in polling, it's one of the things I do for a living. Without leading them to an answer, if you ask most people if they have heard of "Peak Oil" more each day are saying yes. But a surprising number see it as oil company propaganda. I don't agree with that theory, but the message of "peak" gives itself very well to that interpretation....oil and gas are the only viable alternatives, demand cannot be reduced, the alternatives are all bogus "silver bb's", in other words, you are with the oil and gas companies and will have to accept the way they do business right to the bitter end.

Take a look at the last 5 days gasoline futures market:

This is a playground for speculators. They come in, sell short, and then go on the air and give hysterical rantings about the refinery crisis and peak, ride the price up and dump. Can you read it any other way? And surely the futures traders for the companies in the oil and refinery industry would not be trading on such a thing, would they?

Go back to the Enron days. It was revealed in tape recordings released during the trials of the executives that they DID in fact trade in electric power futures, on the basis that they knew they were going to go up because they wree the ones who could drive them up! It was a sure bet. Enron, Calpine, Dynergy, Williams, Aquilla, and others ALL were playing the markets based on being able to wheel power on and offline. They showed no guilt about putting elderly people and children out of air conditioning in 100 degree heat. The damage they did to California's status as a dependable place to do business has still not been repaired.

And make no mistake: They are not afraid to use every outlet at their disposal to slander alternatives. If you listen to the oil companies, thin film solar, plug hybrids, advanced batteries, advanced hydraulic hybrids for trucks and buses, localized rail, thermal solar for air conditioning and refridgeration, and wind are all garbage. But wait? All of them? Could not even one or two of these options, maybe most of them, be viable? No. Despite the millions of dollars in research, the venture capitalists willing to invest in them, and the doctorate level technicians working on them, They are all "silver bb's".

It is easy for people to get tangled up with so much dis-information going on. Crude oil is holding stable,, but there are those who will tell you that we have a massive shortage, every major producer is not only in decline, they are "crashing"! Pity the poor speculators, the poor refiners, who cannot make money!

"That's how they do it you know....they lose money on transaction after transaction until they are filthy rich..."
1930's era movie "Nanotchka"

Thank you, be alert, your right, our time is coming, when we will no more be hostage to these guys than we are now to Enron! They are like dinosaurs breeding....and they know it. This is why they engage in slander that is so outragous that it can be seen through instantly.

Peak may be here now, or it may be here in 40 years, it really doesn't matter if we begin to build and design the future, and sell it on the real threat to the United States: National security, balance of trade, cleanliness, reduction of greenhouse gas, DIGNITY. And the future is NOT staring a mule up the azz. Damm, I just wish I were college age again, the opportunities, the variety, it will be astounding.....:-)
(edited for spelling and reduced length)
Roger Conner Jr.

Remember, we are only one cubic mile from freedom

For a 40 mile round trip daily commute

This does not fully express the gasoline demand of the suburbs. They must drive to shop, go to church, barber or any but home entertainment. Their children can rarely walk to school, the cost of services (plumber, police, pizza delivery) all have a higher imbedded energy cost in the suburbs.

The mileage related consumption items in a car/SUV are also a form of oil consumption. The costs of motor oil, tires, ATF, antifreeze all increase with the price of oil since they are all just processed oil. And all are mileage related costs.

You need to at least double that cost figure and tripling it would be reasonable.

Best Hopes,


PS: I will reply to your military base closing post when I have time. Out-of-town guests today. The chairman of the largest streetcar museum (in the US ?) is visiting :-)

As I recall, the average driver goes about 15,000 per year. Divided by 365 is 41 miles per day -- total per vehicle (a lot of homes have two cars though).

Suburbanites drive more than urbanites. I do a bit more than 2,000 miles/year in the years that I do not evacuate.

Per vehicle stats are chancy, given the hobby cars and speciality vehicles (oversized pickup to haul the boat and occasional heavy load) that dot American suburbia.

Best Hopes for fewer VMT,


Right. And furthermore, the technology does not exist to significantly increase mileage w/o reducing weight/volume of the vehicle ie minivan/large suv. Clown cars are going to be a tough sell. PLus not only are super efficient vehicles considered gimmicky but they are also luxury items. The govt. is not just going to give them away! They will not be a realistic option during hard times for most people and the hard times are going to come first. It will almost always be cheaper,as we've discussed before, to keep the old beater on the rd. or buy someone else's at cut-rate and save the money there. SWitching the fleet over in any meaningful way would take a couple decades under these circumstances.


This is a playground for speculators. They...give hysterical rantings...ride the price up and dump. Can you read it any other way?

According to this week's CFTC commitment of traders report, non-commercial short positions rose (and long positions fell) while commercial (i.e. hedgers) did the opposite. So...I can read it another way. Commercial hedgers drove the price up -- NOT SPECULATORS.

A gut wrenching analysis! :-)

BTW, I kinda forget, what is your wild-ass guess to how much higher crude production gets at the peak -- 2%, 5%, 10%, or more?

I have said before that I think total liquids (or, if you prefer, C+C) can grow another 2-5 million bpd before peaking.

It will be interesting to see if we can pull down crude inventories in the U.S., because unless we do we aren't going to be calling on Saudi to produce more oil. We are well-supplied at the moment. The rest of the OECD, now that's another story. Their inventories have been pulled down over the winter, but I don't know where they stand as of today.

Hi Robert, Glad to see you are up and around.

Clearly, the current gasoline problem is one of gasoline imports not increasing (yet?). I do wonder where we can find a supertanker and a half of gasoline a week in today's tight markets.

Re: future peak. Can you summarize in a couple sentences why you think it will grow that much?

I am a bottom up guy, and I just can't see the projects to do this...do you? Of course, it is all about your assumptions since if we plug in different rates of decline on past peak fields we get a different number.

You say Total Liquid or C+C, isn't there a big difference there?

Even bottom up, there is definitely the potential for a new Total liquids, but not C+C. So this is confusing.

Keep well.

Can you summarize in a couple sentences why you think it will grow that much?

Check the projects in the mega-projects list. It supports an increase of this magnitude (or did the last time I checked).

You say Total Liquid or C+C, isn't there a big difference there?

The total number, yes. But not the delta from where each currently is. 2-5 million bpd additional would be a prediction that would fit both. It could be a little more for total liquids, a little less for C+C.

On the subject of all liquids...how is gasoline demand determined? Is it the pure stuff (E0) that comes out of the refinery or the E10 stuff being peddled at the pumps? If they're going by what's coming out of the pumps, and it is indeed E10 then one would expect consumption in gallons to go up by 3% just to remain steady. Any insight?


Ethanol is not included in the gasoline inventory figure, but in the 'Other Oils' category. This is why gasoline stocks today are slightly better than they seem.

However EIA says ethanol is included in the production figures even though the blending may take place further down the line. It's therefore also included in the 'product supplied' number (i.e. demand).

No argument the the mega projects db, in its raw form shows gains. But that is where the assumptions problem comes in.

I know this is not the time for you to discuss this so some other time.

But suffice to say, demand destruction will be necessary for even the mega projects db numbers to work. ie. EIA 2007 forecast is 85.8mmbd (revised down) but still up 1.5mmbpd from 2006, and using the APR06 Mega projects database we get a shortage of 200 kbpd. And the numbers don't get any prettier from there on out.

So we need to bid up oil and destroy more demand.

But will geopolitical factors allow that theoretical peak to be reached? That's the real unknown variable, isn't it?

I wish for an early peak so that the signal gets through to consumers. What scares me is that Robert Rapier thinks that the supply can continue to grow. Remember that there is a certain amount of recoverable oil. If in general we recover it as fast as possible now, we'll have a sharper decline on the far side of the curve. Less time and less oil to adjust to the new energy regime.

For every month earlier that the signal finally gets through, a month more mitigation can occur. Althuogh it isn't the 20 years we needed, it will count.

Carbon - Coventry UK

Yeah, it feels weird to say it, but if OPEC is holding back, they are doing the US a huge favor. Much better to have a lower peak and longer tail, then a high peak and sharp drop.

Mainly due to the fact the U.S. is still a major producer of oil in its right. While Europe faces a challenge in Britain, a case which seems to be at least partial confirmation of the export land theory - instead of exporting their declining supply, the British are using it themselves. And in a year or two, the British are also likely to trod the well worn American path, looking for oil at whatever cost seems worthwhile. (Arguably, Blair already has - and the search led to Iraq, which was a British political creation after WWI.)

Europe has been importing more oil than U.S. for a long time - after all, Rockefeller plays a much larger role in oil history in public perception than Nobel.

What I find still striking is that while oil demand in countries like Germany or France seems essentially flat (if only due to taxes and climate change concerns), American demand seems like an irrestible force. Whether last year, or next year, the force is likely at its peak - the immovable rock emptied of recoverable oil will likely prove to be its match.

But for now, that force is looking forward to its most expensive summer driving season, a fact that seems incapable of slowing it.

'And in a year or two, the British are also likely to trod the well worn American path, looking for oil at whatever cost seems worthwhile. '

Ooo, I DO hope so... I am fed up of a career in an industry that spent 3 quarters of its life in recession.

Laissez bon temps roulez.

Or, as the roughnecks prayah sez:

''Deah Lawd, jez give me one maw oil boom, that I might not piss it all way.''

Actually, that was meant in terms of looking for oil to burn instead of reducing demand and burning less. Having their own production makes that choice easy, even as the amount declines over time.

Yes, Britain is quite different than the U.S. - but its own housing bubble also has a certain element of 'suburbia' to it, at least in terms of new construction outside of traditional urban areas - and significant number of people on the housing ladder who need to drive cars to pay their mortgages. Cars often bought with profits from successfully trading their property profits for more debt.

On the other hand, Britain is also very concerned about climate change - after all, a significant portion of London could be underwater in future floods.

As always, the best bet with the British is muddling through, providing proof that a democratic society's greatest virtue is its ineptness - it is the form of government least capable of good or evil in classical Greek thought.


That's a funny but bittersweet post....and that's what will be interesting....the oil industry may actually start looking hard.....and you know what happens when you look.....you sometimes find! Wouldn't that be a kick in the backside!
Remember, we are only one cubic mile from freedom

When you say there is no export crisis caused by a peak in oil production, aren't you mainly talking about those countries who haven't been priced out of the market? If demand is up amongst the countries you mentioned and prices are not up, then isn't it true that demand is down somewhere? Or, are you saying that oil production has actually increased?

Imports of oil are up. Is gasoline refining combined with gas imports up?

Isn't the bottom line here that unabated rises in demand are causing these price increases in gasoline? Hillary says consumers are being crippled by these unfair high prices. Well, it looks like the cripples aren't so crippled they can't get our and consume that gas like crazy.

Sorry if I am stating the obvious here but I just want to make sure I understand your post.

Yes, if demand is up in India, China, and the US, and production is flat or slightly down, somebody has got to be doing without. It's too bad we don't have good statistics from much of the world. Is Europe's demand down enough to make up for the increase in the US, China, and India?

Yes, if demand is up in India, China, and the US, and production is flat or slightly down, somebody has got to be doing without.

Or worldwide inventories are being drained.

My point is simply this: If falling inventories in the U.S. are used as evidence for a worldwide peak, then what are we to say about rising imports? Well, if we start making a lot of caveats in the case of rising imports (which we failed to make in the case of falling imports) then the analysis is not very objective. That's my point, and the issue that I would have readers think over. Why do imports suggest a crisis, and under what circumstances would they not suggest a crisis?

In fact, we will never know the complete picture of imports. But if we consistently point to the data that is unknown as possibly supporting our position, again, this is not very objective.

That's all from me today. I don't intend to get into a long debate on this, but I want to be sure we keep some perspective on this import picture.

A man walks out of his favorite bar late at night and finds a drunk stumbling around on the street, under a streetlight, mumbling that he lost his keys. The man asks the drunk where he lost his keys. The drunk replies that he lost his keys down the street. The man then asks why he is not looking down the street. The drunk replies that the light is better under the streetlight.

Obsessing over US import/inventory data, while interesting, doesn't tell us what is happening worldwide.

However, I do think that US import/inventory data combined with price data give us a decent idea of what is happening. That is why I started pointing out the odd behavior last spring, when we saw (admittedly seasonal) declines in US total petroleum imports, against rising oil prices. If world export capacity was increasing, why were oil prices rising? We now know, as I predicted in January, 2006, that the three top net oil exporters in 2005 all showed lower crude oil exports year over year, from 2005 to 2006.

I agree with Robert that export/import numbers per se, don't have a bearing on Peak Oil, and I don't think that I ever argued that they did.

Last year, I did frequently warn that the Ghawar and Cantarell, the world's two largest producing oil fields, were "Warning beacons burning brightly in the night sky heralding the onset of Peak Oil." The latest EIA data show crude oil production declines, from 2/06 to 2/07 of 10% for Saudi Arabia and 6% for Mexico.

A more detailed look at the Texas HL plot suggests that the most accurate HL estimate for remaining recoverable Saudi oil reserves comes from discounting the recent "dogleg up," which is further supported by the recent work by Stuart, et al. In other words, my assessment of remaining Saudi reserves last year was probably too optimistic, and I expect the Saudi production decline to be sharper than the Texas decline.

Through 2/07, the cumulative shortfall between what the world would have produced at the 5/05 crude + condensate production rate and what we actually produced (EIA) is on the order of 450 million barrels.

The average Brent crude oil price in the 20 months prior to 5/05 was $38 per barrel. The average monthly Brent crude oil price since then has been about $62, within a range of $54 to $74. Currently, Brent is about 70% higher than the $38 average price that prevailed prior to the onset of the world crude oil decline. IMO, what we have seen, and what we are seeing is the fluctuating oil price necessary to kill off enough demand (and some people) to balance declining oil production and declining oil exports against demand.

World crude oil production, as Deffeyes warned, started declining at the same stage of depletion that the Lower 48 and the North Sea started declining (based on HL). And we are seeing the same type of lower production versus rising crude oil price pattern worldwide that we saw in the Lower 48 in the Seventies.

Let's take a look at our export future. Probably about half of current world crude oil production is being exported. Let's assume a best case that half of remaining conventional crude oil production will be exported and a worst case that one-fourth of remaining conventional crude oil production will be exported. Deffeyes gives us 1,000 Gb remaining conventional crude oil (C+C) recoverable reserves. So the best case is that 500 GB will be exported, the worst case, 250 Gb (all conventional crude).

Let's further assume that on the order of 5 billion people live in net oil importing countries. The best case remaining importing country per capita conventional crude oil remaining for export, based on the foregoing assumptions (and based on current population) would be on the order of 100 barrels per person, the worst case, about 50 barrels per person, i.e., 250 to 500 Gb of exported conventional crude oil versus an assumed current population of 5 billion people in net importing countries.

Note that the US consumes about 25 barrels of oil per person per year.

"Ask not for whom forced energy conservation comes, it comes for thee."
(continuing apologies to Hemingway, et al)


Published on 18 Nov 2006 by Wall St Journal. Archived on 23 Nov 2006.
As Fuel Prices Soar, A Country Unravels
by Chip Cummins
Conakry, Guinea

The impact of today's energy crunch on the poor is plain in rich nations such as America: Expensive gasoline and soaring heating bills make a hard life harder. In impoverished countries such as Guinea, where per capita income is just $370 a year and surging gasoline prices have helped spark bloody riots, the energy shock has become a matter of life and death.

Global demand for oil has soared in recent years, pushing international prices to record levels. Despite a recent decline, a barrel of crude still costs about double what it did three years ago. The most powerful energy-importing nations have responded by proclaiming energy security a top policy goal. President Bush has vowed to wean America off its "addiction" to oil. The U.S. is mobilizing more ships and soldiers to protect supply lines, while Beijing is scrambling to buy oil fields from Asia to Africa.

While robust economies like America and China are withstanding the shock, the poorest countries aren't. Increasingly they can't afford to slake their citizens' thirst for petroleum -- breeding another form of energy insecurity. The pressure threatens to undermine economies and sow domestic strife, further unsettling shaky regions and presenting fresh worries for policy makers in the West. In addition to Guinea, Nepal, Yemen, Iraq and Indonesia all have been rocked by fuel protests in the past two years.

Hi WT, so what's the time frame for your Export Land hypothesis to kick in? My personal guess is that in somewhere between 2 and 5 years crude and condensate prices will be through the roof. That's a Landman's hunchology, not the solid math and science of you, Khebab, RR, or Stuart.

I think that it started in 2006, with Saudi Arabia and Russia joining Norway in showing year over year declines in net oil exports--because of lower crude oil production and/or increased domestic consumption. I'm waiting on the 2006 EIA data to do a more detailed net oil export article.

In regard to oil prices, the widely quoted $70 plus oil price is really not realistic. As I noted down the thread, since 5/05 only three months out of 24 months since 5/05 have shown a monthly Brent crude oil price of $70 or more.

A two-thirds increase in the average Brent monthly price, relative to the 20 months prior to 5/05, has clearly been enough to equalize supply and demand--for now. But the next movement in regard world oil production and net oil exports, IMO, is down, so prices will have to go up again in order to equalize supply and demand.

IMO, energy reserves in (more or less) politically secure areas will become increasingly valuable. We've got some plays that have recovery factors of 500 BO/acre-foot, with net pays up to about 30', at a depth of 2,000'. If Matt Simmons is right about oil prices, this would translate to gross cash flows to the royalty and working interest owners of about $3 million per acre, on a 40 acre unit--thus my ongoing advice to Oil Patch Folks to drive old lime green Volvos with Greenpeace bumper stickers (not a time to be driving big black Hummers with bumper stickers saying "I love high oil prices").

I've got a 96 Saturn (red) with a peeling and fading Kinky Friedman bumper sticker. It gets 33 mpg highway and 30 city, and is paid for with 197,000 miles. I make money at $0.485 per mile.
My favorite anti-social bumper sticker from the late '70's was the "Let 'em freeze in the dark" response to the windfall profits tax, but it definitely made a lot of enemies. The general oil patch attitude is open mouth, insert foot, while the public seems to want to blame others rather than examine their own behavior.
Good luck on your prospects. I'm sure tired of working stupid unconventional gas plays and would welcome some oil plays.

The gustiest bumper stickers I ever saw were on a black? Mercedes in front of the Casino in Vina (del Mar) in Pinochet's Chile in February of 1986. Libertad, la Tarea para Hoy, Greenpeace, and if my memory serves me well after 21+ years, Question Authority. I don't remember seeing any other bumper stickers in Chile.


good post and advice, and tell all the oil patch guys not to do an Enron and leave taped messages and e-mails that say something to the effect of "let their azz twist in the wind for awhile, we deserve some profit, and then we'll go in and hit the second level down...." :-)

Remember, we are only one cubic mile from freedom

Not necessarily disagreeing with you Robert, because without knowing what's happening to world crude stocks it's difficult to form any real opinion. But...

According to the IEA's projections global 2007 demand doesn't simply rise linearly. In the latest OMR, Q1 demand is put at 85.5 mb/d, Q2=84.4, Q3=85.7 and Q4=87.6. So, according to IEA we're currently in the soft quarter, and if global production is relatively constant then we might expect some slack at present (with a surplus of crude available for import).

If the IEA is correct then the big test will be later this year. Either we'll need some of those megaprojects to come online or KSA (and others) will need to open the spigots.

...or we'll be setting new highs on price.

I've never understood the IEA quarterly demand projections. Why is demand highest in the fourth quarter? That's not the coldest quarter, nor is it the heaviest driving period. Can someone explain this?

I think that matches Aces danger zones hybrid graph.

We need to destroy a ton of demand, just to stay on this happy plateau for a few more years before going skiing.

The process of that destruction is what worries me...it all seems so simple on paper.

Thanks for your take. As far as prices go, how do the prices of other than NYMEX crude bench marks stand up YOY?

I think they were lower across the board. I know that world average, OPEC, and WTI were all lower this year. Don't remember about Brent.

The monthly average and median Brent crude oil price, since 5/05 has been about $62, within a range of $54 to $74, versus an average monthly price of $38 in the 20 months prior to 5/05 (world crude oil production has, so far, been continuously below the 5/05 production rate, EIA data).

Counting May, 2007, we have 24 months of price data since 5/05. Since 5/05, Brent crude oil prices on a monthly basis have been above $70 per barrel only about 12% of the time (only three months out of 24 show prices of $70 or more).

At a current price of about $65, Brent is above both the average and median price that we have seen since 5/05.

As far as prices go, how do the prices of other than NYMEX crude bench marks stand up YOY?

Brent is down almost 10%, from $73 to $66.
OPEC basket is down almost 5%, from $65 to $62.

(Year-on-year, first week of May, 2006 vs. 2007.)

Last night, I drove to Elm Street in Bethesda for an Energy Awareness meetup. Mapquest estimated a 45 minute drive. Traffic on the DC beltway extended that to a full hour, but searching for parking took another half-hour. I worked at nearby Woodmont Avenue in the late 70s; I would walk over to the Psyche-Delly for a cheap sandwich, or to San Fran East for Tex-Mex. I thought I knew the area, but Bethesda has changed drastically. Many of the sidewalks along Elm Street, Hampden Lane, Bethesda Avenue were crammed with upscale dining areas. And this was on a Wednesday night.

The featured speaker was residential architect Paul Gaiser, who also runs Skooter Commuter out of his small second floor office.


Gaiser was looking for a better way to get through traffic and parking and started looking into electric bikes and sccoters. He rides a TidalForce M-750, has a few of those for sale, and is fiddling with a carbon-frame Kestrel with a removable battery pack. He talked about taking apart a Makita battery pak to get a sense of how rechargeable batteries work.

He has a few E-Max electric scooters in his basement, and also deals Kasea scooters, Ebiko electric bikes, Brompton & Birdy folding bikes, but only had the M-750 and the Kestrel on hand. He noted that Flexcar is "everywhere" in DC. Zipcar, too.

I was hoping Gaiser would talk more about the bikes, but he quickly moved on to LED lighting. Quite the entrepreneur, he has just started another two websites:


Looking for more efficient lighting he started installing compact fluorescents. Then he started buying LED fixtures - some good, some bad. He has just signed on to represent the small companies whose products he actually likes.

Gaiser has a wall of kitchen cabinets and granite countertops in his conference room, and has installed LEDs all over the room. He demonstrated comparative brightnesses and color ranges, and talked about the incredibly long service lifespans that he felt would justify paying hundreds of dollars for LEDs. Some of the LEDs were made to screw into incandescent fixtures or plug into fluorescent troffers, but they aren't simply bulbs or lamps - they are complete luminaires.

With memories of failed CFs, we were skeptical of the LEDs actually lasting long enough to justify the high initial cost, and I asked how they handled dirty power. Gaiser admitted that they are even more fussy about voltage than compact fluorescents. I think LEDs, solar panels, ground thermal heat pumps are all highly desirable among a certain class of those who have money and are willing to spend it preparing for the future, but I doubt that average folk are going to be interested in $100 "bulbs" until the payback becomes quite obvious.

There was another fellow at the meetup, a builder who has been spending half his time in Stuttgart. He feels there is a niche market in the US for efficient European building methods. I would have liked to have spoken more to him.

Bicycle-loaner program gaining speed in Annapolis

“Free Wheelin’ Annapolis,” which will be announced at the annual Bike-to-Work Day on May 18, is a response to community requests for an alternative mode of transpiration for downtown travel, officials said.

If the pilot generates enough interest, the program will begin in earnest this summer. Residents and visitors could borrow the free bicycles from the Harbormaster’s office.


Hi Donal

I bought two LED lights (240V GU10 spotlights) for around 10 GB pounds last year and another two this year.

I did this to replace 50W halogen GU10 spotlight bulbs with the LED versions in my bathroom. The LED bulbs were not as bright as halogens, but only took 1.8W so more than 25 times less power.

Unfortunately 2 out of 4 have failed already and it looks as if the investment was not worth it (in money or in embodied energy in the bulbs).

I have just ordered a CFL GU10 spotlight from the same supplier to see if it fares any better - but I have been burned and I won't buy more until it proves itself.

Carbon - Coventry UK

LEDs are held back by the requirements of compatability with conventional wiring.

A raw LED runs from ~2Vdc [depends on colour]. New house builds could have a mandatory 3V lighting circuit for simple, low consumption, reliable LEDs. Instead we are sold dodgy bodge fittings.

If my pea brain is ably following the cognoscenti of OPEC correctly, Peak Oil is not a function of geology but due to the residents of the Solomon Islands planting coconut trees.

I'm glad we got past that (P.O.)... now we can move on to discuss more serious matters, such as what the minimum age of young women should be, for them to be allowed into Girls Gone Wild videos (see http://bloggingheads.tv/video.php?id=270&cid=1471)

Half full or half empty? A unique take on the same data that's already been widely published:

Global Warming, Not the End of the World as We Know It

How bad is climate change really? Are catastrophic floods and terrible droughts headed our way? Despite widespread fears of a greenhouse hell, the latest computer simulations are delivering far less dramatic predictions about tomorrow's climate.

Svante Arrhenius, the father of the greenhouse effect, would be called a heretic today. Far from issuing the sort of dire predictions about climate change which are common nowadays, the Swedish physicist dared to predict a paradise on earth for humans when he announced, in April 1896, that temperatures were rising -- and that it would be a blessing for all.

From Spiegel Online, Germany

How are things over there in the Savage Nation?

I prefer half empty, it's always darkest just before the grid fails.

1. beware der Spiegel's political bias. This is the magazine that asked whether the Family Minister could be a cabinet minister, given how many children she has.

2. Don't rely on a computer model for your margin of safety.

A world of 2 degrees centigrade, we can probably cope *if* we don't get mass melting of the Greenland Ice Cap, and there are no big mass migrations in the Middle East or Africa due to drought (because those could trigger nuclear wars eg Indian Pakistan, Syria-Turkey, Egypt-Sudan etc.).

A world of more than 5 degrees centigrade it is very unlikely our civilisation would survive. If we trigger the methane release from the permafrost, human beings might not survive (the last mass release, the Permian one, killed 90% of all life forms).

We have no good sense, at the higher CO2 levels and temperatures, whether the positive feedback loops would kick in, that would make it impossible for us to stop global warming.

So the climate change deniers are reduced to calling upon someone from 2 centuries past who was not even a specialist in climate?

This would be amusing if it were not for the implications.

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

Der Spiegel is easy to understand - they like to sell copies, and remain in public discussion. They also have a pretty regular cycle - take a position slightly more extreme than the mainstream on one side, then after a long enough period, take the opposite position.

It makes them look daring.

And never forget, the car companies are much bigger advertisers than any green associated industry.

Germans have been quite rattled over the last 3/4 year or so - coldest August ever recorded, essentially the warmest winter ever recorded, the driest April (planting season, by the way) ever recorded. It would be a true disaster if Germans regained that environmental fervor of the 1970s and 1980s, which brought the Greens into power, along with the Green's strong pacifist convictions. (What is striking is how German opposition to war is slowly being eroded - when Märklin, the model train company, was taken over by Wall Street money, the formerly family owned policy of never making war toys, based on the shame of that family for having made such toys as part of daily life in Nazi society, was cast aside in the pursuit of profit - war toys are good business, it seems. Lego experienced much the same, by the way, after its 'takeover'. Even in Germany, war is becoming seen as an acceptable tool, at least in some quarters - interestingly, most Germans still vehemently disagree, but they don't own major media outlets.)

Der Spiegel is very much a pillar of the mainstream - and at this point, with its founder dead, pretty much a standard part of the global MSM, though one often prone to little hysterical fits - a true Spiegel characteristic.

Don't complain about the prices when you're driving your gas-guzzling truck, SUV or muscle car.

Oh, the irony, considering that this comes from "TCPalm", serving "Florida's Treasure Coast and Palm Beaches", in a region and a state with not much of an economy beyond mass tourism based on limitless quantities of gasoline and jet fuel.

Just what a world up against peak oil, climate change and half a dozen other crises, needs:


“Pope Benedict XVI has spoken out against abortion at the start of his five-day visit to Brazil, the world's most populous Roman Catholic nation.”

Of course they need plenty more people to chop down the rain forest and plant sugar cane to turn into auto fuel.

Here's another take on the Statoil story, from Bloomberg:

"A lot of the large oil companies are struggling to increase production," said Eric Nasby, an analyst at Handelsbanken Capital Markets in Oslo. "The scarcity of available drilling equipment is causing delays and projects like Shah Deniz and In Amenas are in largely uncharted territory."

Delays are bad!

The already grim picture overall could change dramatically over the next couple years, for the worse, if the delays and cancellations don't stop.

Call it "Thunder Horse Syndrome."

This is why I distrust the "bottom-up" analyses that rely on lists of future projects. We've seen time and again that oil companies tend to be overly optimistic. There's a good chance that their projects are not going to go live when they predict. And the "above ground" factors that cause this slippage - bad weather, shortage of equipment, labor issues, political turmoil, technical issues - are only going to get worse as they venture further into "uncharted territory."

Leanan...reading Robert's comments about megaprojects I was thinking the same thing...there is a HUGE difference between what we think we will have IDEALLY and what in REALITY gets delivered in the future.

Like you said...it's those naggy little "above ground" factors that cause us problems. OMG...are we agreeing with CERA on this one?

Absolutely. I have given Out Jeff Vail's recent piece outlining 5 instances of positive feedback to several people. THis is a very pithy report on the phenomena and people seem to digest it well. The "evildoers" will certainly be piling on big time once the ROI gets high enough. Does anyone think "Al Queda" might be planning some things along these lines? Great piece.


I think the bottom-up analysis is very valuable. Not because it tells us what to expect, but because it puts an upper bound on what we can expect.

It is very unlikely that projects will be able to come on line faster than the bottom-up analysis predicts.

It is anyone's guess how much lower actual production will be.

Just like it is anyone's guess to what extent above-ground political/military/economic factors will limit both new projects and existing production.

I think the bottom-up analysis is very valuable. Not because it tells us what to expect, but because it puts an upper bound on what we can expect.

I was just thinking the same thing. It kind of reminds me of those "idealized" problems they give you in Physics 101. Where there is no friction, or air resistance, or viscosity, because otherwise, the problem is too difficult to solve. My prof, Robert Resnick, used say it was the equivalent of "dry water."

It does give you an idea of the upper bound. The problem is that so many people are taking it as the "most likely outcome."

Of Resnick and Halliday fame - wow!


He was a very good teacher. Even though he had tenure and all, he always had time for the students. And he had a certain gift for communication. He didn't speak in Fortran, like most of his peers. ;-)

Delays are good. It means the oil will stay in the ground long enough for prices to reduce demand. The goal is a low peak with a long tail, not a high peak with a fast drop.

i used to think that was best when i had hope for mitigation and success post-peak

instead i think that a fast drop is best as it will isolate islands of survivability without using up all the resources

Hi Responsible,

Interesting thought.

Just as a counter-argument, though, even with a "fast drop", there's still the percentage of "what's left". And what people decide to do with it. Like, getting to all the "islands of survivability". And using up resources on the way.

These are general comments, though. I'd be interested in any specifics you might have on "best hope" for "mitigation and success post-peak".

Might as well focus on the positive, if possible.

I think there will be many successful groups in a true collapse situation. Some I'd want to live among some I would fear. I think without profligate energy use being an option many of teh less successful structures will fail - i.e. the neo-fascist religious zealots will be successful in people control but not so much in maintaining a high standard of technology.

I think that with a successful knowledge preservation strategy, and a big fast die-off (say 30 years of crash) small communities will be able to maintain relative isolation and security and then be able to use their retained technological advantage to start teh slow (100 year+) process of hooking up in order to trade and find mutual protection from the more dangerous aggressive successful survivor groups.

I think resource maps will be key, and I think that in a fast drop with no market for resources to go into many resource locations will just shutter up or collapse, but will still retain resources in place for post-collapse use.

My thoughts right now, and being the sort I am trying to put my time and money where my mouth is and start a web-based community for like minded souls, is that finding a number of good locations for small communities - 1,000-5,000 to be set up with enough arable land for self-sufficiency, enough genetic diversity for no breeding issues, and knowledge retention tools - i think a network of islands is possible. We need a few years to collapse for it to be a good strategy but that is mine. I don't see heading off the die-off. I see planning for great positioning in the post-oil game of risk.

When no-one around you understands
start your own revolution
and cut out the middle man

"uncharterd territory" = double entendre = "peak oil"

I noticed an article in the WSJ the morning titled "US Probes Crude-Price Manipulation". Two quotes:

Federal regulators are examining whether companies are manipulating crude-oil prices by engaging in a flurry of after-hours trades that push the prices higher or lower on a widely used reporting system, according to a regulatory filing and traders informed of the probe.

At issue: a little-known trading mechanism known as the Platts window. For a 30-minute period after trading stops on the floor of Nymex, participants in the U.S. cash market for various types of crude oil can report their trades through Platts, which reveals the traders' identity and details of the transaction. The prices in the window are supposed to be representative of trading for the whole day.

Investigators are concerned certain large traders engage in a flurry of activity in a short period before the window closes to influence where the final price is "assessed," and that they may even reverse the trades later. Some big oil companies have complained to Platts and to regulators about gamesmanship in the current system in the U.S., lawyers familiar with the discussions say.

This is out of my area. Could this be anything significant?

We're talking Wall Street and if I learned anything in B school, it would be those in power know how to abuse it and furthermore, how to get away with it until someone gets piggy. They get slaughtered and the game goes on. Insider information is the efficient market theory.

This is huge. Thanks for posting. It has been curious that current fossil crude prices have stayed $30 above worldwide average per barrel production costs, and more than $50 a barrel above average worldwide marginal costs of production, for such a sustained period of time. Market manipulation? I wonder.
You can make a ton of money selling oil now. It is also curious that major players say prices above $40 a barrel do not increase investment in oil production. Why? Because they know such prices cannot stock? Now we may be headed into a recession (check retail sales-lousy this month). Stay tuned.

Prices stay up because buyers are willing and able to pay that price. If you don't like the price don't buy it.

Playing the lottery would be a much better investment than selling oil below 40. Oil will never go below 50. Never. We are more or less on floor hereabouts IMO.The demand plateau or decline you are calling for in Chindia is just not going to materializes at these prices (otherwise it would have already!) . You're just not going to get people to stop driving once they are "into it." Demand destruction may come relatively soon but it result from considerably higher prices. Not here.


Benjamin, repeat after me: "Prices are established at the margins." Take a deep breath and say it again. Think about what it means.

The $30 per bbl production cost you cite [you don't cite the source] doesn't mean anything in terms of setting the price. The balance between marginal producers and marginal buyers sets the price ... and the decline curves on existing production range from a few percent into the high teens after flush production -- this year, every year moving more of the existing producers into marginal producer status, requiring reworking of marginal wells and new investment in virgin prospects often in high cost / high cost areas to just break even in terms of production ... if that is still possible.

You seem to believe that the marginal buyer is going to be more likely to be unable to buy than than the marginal producer falling below the break even point. If so, you might want to consider what happened to oil production in the thirties during the Great Depression. It impacted demand, but Americans did not park their Fords and hitch up their Studebaker wagons again. Square rigged ships did not retake the seas. The corollary: the Chineese and the Indians probably won't go back to earlier consumption level this time even if the economy craters. The open question: Are there several more KSAs worth of oil just waiting to be found as was undeniably true in hindsight in the 1930s?

In addition, how are oil companies going to "increase their investment in oil production" [I translate this as drill more wells or more new prospects] when there isn't much spare rig capacity? What leads you to believe that the oil producers aren't trying? Where did all the jack up rigs in the Gulf of Mexico go? Answer the other Gulf -- the KSA is or soon will be drilling furiously. How about all those land drilling rigs in North Texas, the Mid Continent and the Rockies just gathering dust? Answer: These rigs are already working drilling for Barnett Shale and coal bed methane.

At this point there is still a possibility that you are not a troll. If so, please read the responses that you have received. Refute them outright [rationally & factually] -- explain where the extra oil might come from [consider that the world uses a billion bbls every 11 or 12 days] -- or reconsider you positions.

"You seem to believe that the marginal buyer is going to be more likely to be unable to buy than than the marginal producer falling below the break even point. If so, you might want to consider what happened to oil production in the thirties during the Great Depression. It impacted demand, but Americans did not park their Fords and hitch up their Studebaker wagons again. Square rigged ships did not retake the seas. The corollary: the Chineese and the Indians probably won't go back to earlier consumption level this time even if the economy craters. The open question: Are there several more KSAs worth of oil just waiting to be found as was undeniably true in hindsight in the 1930s?"

--Agreed completely. Most people are not even capable of properly assessing the impact of a car trip on their finances anyways. Driving makes people happy (even your dog is smiling). They fill the tank,get pissed or a minute, then forget about and drive until the tank is close to empty. Repeat. It's the same as w/ a cell phone. No body thinks about the bill while they are talk,talk,talking. The building of cars and roads will create a certain base level of demand that will be resistant to almost any price increase. I used the analogy that i would have paid $20 a gallon for gas when i was 17 if that's what it had cost.


No.. you presume they are trying to push the prices higher..just as often they will be short and want to report lower prices...so over time they will even out. Also the reporters for the publications will get wise to 'window games'and report what they feel are the real numbers rather than axe grinding agendas.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution has a climate change story (front page, above the fold) that will scare anyone.

Ready for 110 degrees?
NASA warns climate change could cook Atlantans

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 05/09/07

Peak summer temperatures in Atlanta and the Southeast could reach as high as 110 degrees if climate change continues at its current pace, NASA scientists warned Wednesday.

A new computer analysis by the Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York suggests that during July and August, maximum daily temperatures could average 100 to 110 degrees in cities like Atlanta and as far north as Washington and Chicago, making once-rare temperatures more commonplace.

The hottest temperature recorded in Atlanta in the last 77 years was a stifling 105-degree reading on July 13, 1980. Elsewhere — most recently in Greenville, in Meriwether County, in August 1983 — the temperature has actually reached a scorching 112, which is the all-time state record.

Are other papers making similar reports? Anyone know anything about this?


Is the google news link for all the articles related to this topic.

I saw it before I got here this evening. But it is talking by 2080. Anything is possible by 2080.

Ah but there's also good reason to think it will come much sooner than that.

Not every day of the summer will be 110 degrees, but enough days of enough summers to be noticeable.

(of course there is a positive feedback loop there: Southern Company produces c. 90% of its electricity from coal. As the summers heat up, more air conditioning, more CO2)

As the climate warms up, the extremes increase as well-- average conceals a multitude of sins. The models assume smoothness of transition, but that's not actually how weather works-- weather is inherently chaotic.

We are going to have more 72 degree days in January in Central Park (like we did this winter), and more 110 degree heat waves (it reached almost 100 degrees in London last summer, for the first time in 350 years of record keeping).

They are actually considering creating a 'Category 6' hurricane intensity, so many hurricanes are now above the Cat 5 threshold.

Welcome to a new and different world. Although we know the macro outline (higher average world temperature) pretty well, we have very little idea about where the droughts and hurricanes, heat waves etc. will land, and in what intensity.

CNBC had a lady on this morning that broke a CF lighbulb in her house. She called the township to find out how to handle it. Turned out she had toxic levels of mercury, several times over the toxic threshold and cleanup by a hazmat crew cost her $2000. She still does not allow her little girl to go in that room.

I'm sorry, but that story sounds like utter bullshit to me.

We've discussed this story before.

She didn't pay $2,000. That's what it would have cost to clean it up. So she's just closed the door to that room. That's why she doesn't allow her kid in there. Because she didn't want to shell out the $2,000, and insurance wouldn't pay for it.

Sorry for the rehash on CF's, didn't see the other thread. I use CF's, but didn't realize how important it is to keep them out of reach of small children and clumsy people.

Oh, for heaven's sake, just run the vacuum cleaner over it and throw the bag away! (there's probably more mercury in a pound of fish!)

Don't use that vacuum unless it's a HEPA filtered one. Otherwise, you're just spraying lead dust onto every surface in the nearest few rooms. I like CF's, but don't be fooled that they're safe. Flame retardants in the electronics, dioxin, Hydrochloric Acid gas if the PVC casing and wire insulation burns, it's a VOC haven in one of those things.

Bob Fiske

Tinfoil Hat alert:
..you probably should be really cautious cooking with your microwave, too. Ever wonder why they don't want you heating baby formula in there? (Oh yeah.. drop the formula in the first place. Nothin' beats the nipple, or ever comes close!)

Lead.. I meant Mercury.. but there's lead in the glass, too, AFAIK

I used to play with mercury as a child. The only problem was when I used a candle to heat the bulb of a mercury thermometer to get the mercury out. It exploded and the mercury started to dissolve the silver on the candlestick I was using. Luckily it all evaporated off before my parents noticed.

That was 40 years ago and I am still alive.

I used to play with Mercury too. Grandfather died when I was young. Like all old time watch repairers/jewellers he had mercury [maybe 500g!!, arsenic - allsorts.

As a clever boy, I asked a physics teacher what to do - schools must handle all sorts of toxins right. They couldnt give a stuff.

I disposed of it in a very scientifically sound way, but the enviro hand-ringers would have had a seizure if they knew.

[hint - a bridge crosses a 200 metre wide river, river flow about 1.5m/sec, 14 miles from a large ocean....]

If this is true, expect the lawyers to be all over her. Breast implants will have nothing on this.

I can see all the idle corp lawyers salivating over
"Big Lighting"

I shudder to think about the irreparable harm that was done to a whole generation of people back in the 60s/70s, when high school kids in science classrooms used to use their pencils as hockey sticks and a droplet of mercury as a puck during class.

I dare say that she could just grab a little mercury sponge and be done with it, without worrying about her daughter becoming a cancer-riddled infertile shell of a human.

Cancer requires not just the environmental insults, but also steady promoters, such as the #1 promoter: a diet of meat and diary and junk food. For example, check out Dr. Dean Ornish's work (as published in JAMA): first he proved heart disease could be reversed by a low-fat nearly vegan diet, then in 2005 his prostate cancer study showed that in the experimental group who got a low-fat vegan diet, EVERY ONE IMPROVED, REVERSING EARLY CANCER. In the control group who received the standard BS treatment, THEY GOT WORSE, and many were suckered into having dangerous and life-threatening surgery (you think they bothered to tell these folks after the study was over how to reverse cancer like the experimental group?) ;)

This is why Japan and some other places, where they smoke like bandits, have much lower rates of lung cancer compared to Americans - they eat a healthier diet, and diet is much more powerful than just smoking (think about the amount of food you put in your mouth daily)!

but what about the quality of life cost of a vegan diet?

In a society where it is so difficult to maintain a vegan diet, why not just eat a similar low-fat diet that restricts meat and cheese intake? Afterall the Japaneese are not big vegans, they are passionate about food, especially fish and high quality meat, just in smaller quanities.

Most of the vegans I've known through college have since abandoned veganism, because of the constant social hassles they faced being vegan while the society is anything but. Eating out with co-workers/boss and having to defend vegan, having to defend it to dates, having to deal with a fraction of the food options at most resturants, having to lobby people in your social group to visit some of the few resturants that have a healthy supply of vegan food, and so on.

In fact, Every vegan friend I have that remains a vegan has moved into a relatively closed social circle with other vegans, similar to the ones they were able to group with in college. I support those that maintain veganism, but I just can't imagine promoting it as a practical lifestyle choice, in american society.

Here in the UK being vegan is not that difficult. I am vegetarian and I
rarely if ever have problems with food. Almost all restaurants serve at least
one vegetarian option, and almost all supermarket food is labeled as
vegetarian if it is, without the need to read ingredient labels. Vegans do need
to shop around a bit, and be selective in choice of restaurants. I rarely
find social problems eating at friends, but then most of my friends are
environmentally aware and several are veggie themselves.

There are lots of reasons to be veggie or eat less meat. The diet is undoubtedly more healthy than the US average meatfest. However, young
children need special care if their diet is vegan, to get the right balance.

I'm sure a well balanced veggie or vegan diet does reduce the risk of cancer, or improve survival rate when all over factors are equal, but there is a lot more to cancer than just diet.

This is one more example of the perfect being the enemy of the good. It may be true that a vegan diet is great for one's health, and is also minimum impact in terms of energy use and GHG emissions. However, it must also be true that just making substantial cutbacks in meat -- especially beef -- can achieve a very large percent of those benefits. It is a pretty tough sell to convince omnivores to cut all animal protein out of their diet. Suggesting that they cut down, and especially save the beef just for an occasional special occasion and replace it with poultry or eggs or cheese or beans - well, that may also be a little bit of a hard sell, but not so much so.

If we could get everyone to cut down their beef intake by 80%, and their total animal protein intake by 20%, would that not make a big difference, both in terms of health and the environment and energy?

I am finishing a deviant behavior course and this fits right in there. Creationism is deviant in mainstream society, yet God is accepted. Hypocrisy?

The point to the class, as I learned it anyway, is simply power defines deviance within a society. If we had a president/politco in power who pushed this, it would happen. When deviance isn't tolerated as in your example, subcultures begin to dominate the socially defined reality of that person. Real society is tuned out and ignored in favor of the subculture's norms, values etc.

Stigmatization is a part of power. Those people who chastised them and forced them to defend their choices had the power to do so. That power is rooted at the top. The reality of this choice is as simple as you described...abondoning mainstream society in favor of the subculture which fits right in. Just a thought....

If one is a lemming, then being a "deviant" definitely has survival value.

Creationism uses non-science (or nonsenese if you would please) to try and advance a point about how the world was created 6000 years ago(remember some scholar simply calculated the date god created the world from an earthly source, the bible (which itself has been revised many times and may itself be innaccurate) and placing 100% belief into a book with so many contradictory statements is disingenious at best and pretty much a horrible assumption to start with) with the goal of putting it onto the same level as the big bang or other scientific hypothesis. The goal of creationism is to make jane/joe sixpack fear science and gain more power for those advancing creationism.

Belief in a god is different thing entirely. I can disbelive everything in Christianity(transsubstantiation...please), the Torah, koran, KJB, ect. and still have a personal god distinct from all of the above, or even composed of the best parts of each and others.

You are trying to link two separate and distinct ideas.

subcultures are survival mechanims, those in strong self-reinforcing cultures will survive by the cultures propogation, cultures which die are gone and can be ignored.

You are trying to link two separate and distinct ideas.

No you are trying to seperate two ideas stemming from the same source. Think about this before you answer me.

After rereading your post, perhaps I used a term too political, creationsim. I really only meant a belief that God created everything against a general belief in God.

How can you have a God who didnt create Earth? Perhaps our disagreement comes down to what I discussed about Power. Does your God have the power to create Earth and if so then why wouldnt he? If he can't, how can he be a God?

If you don't truly have faith that a diety "created" this planet, then how do you reason god with science or creationism with Science? They are fundamentally intertwined as belief in one leads you to the other.

I think your view of what a "god" can be is too limited. Especially since you are viewing this gem from a facet limited to the Judeo/Christian/Muslim angle of Monotheism.

Zeus, Mars, Anubis were/are each gods/dieties in their respective religions however none of them had a role in creation(as in the inception of the Universe) in those religions mythos.

Furthermore, there are many Christians/Jews/Muslims who believe God created the universe, and believe the Big Bang and Evolutionary theories are correct in so far as the evidence has panned out. There is a false dichotomy that has been fostered by extremists on both sides of the argument, and as such the argument has only been framed from the view points of the two extremes.

Very rarely do you hear the view point of the moderates, including many Scientists who are Christian/Jewish/Muslim, who have no conflict between their scientific observations, and their faith.

Perhaps the argument that bugs the hell out of Extremist creationists, and extremist Evolutionary proponents, is the idea that perhaps God did create the universe, using the very laws, and mechanisms that science has been discovering. Somehow, the thought that evolution is responsible for life on Earth seems less holy to the Creationist, and the thought that perhaps this Universe is beholden to laws established by a creator seems unpalatable to the atheist.

The real problem that these two extremes have is that they are fundamentally incapable of speaking the same language. Faith is not a subject that science can tackle, and likewise, science by its very nature can not rest on faith. And so unless you get someone who is "bi-lingual" the person who is ensconsed in one language will simply be unable to even understand the view point of the other.

But then, this whole idea of its either A or B seems to be a recurring limitation that the human species runs into. When the debate is polarized around 2 choices, trying to work in a third choice seems to be a real pain to even get introduced into the discussion.

indeed, it was the choice of creationism which set me off.

there are other irrational beliefs which also set me off, namely homeopathy(where someone trys to pawn off the placebo effect to the curitive powers of sand/highly diluted chemicals/or magic crystals.), violations of the laws of thermodynamics, and belief humans are special or privilaged.

I have come to the conclusion that I am agnostic, which means I believe that there is no definitive proof (and there may never be proof because a deity who could create the earth and the universe as we see it today with the fossil record, radionucleotide decay in the earths crust, cosmic background radiation, and all other scientific evidence which when put through the logical filter called thought tells us the universe is 14?billion years old the earth is 4.5billion years old BUT FOR SOME UNKNOWN reason the earth is really 6000 years old.) of a higher dieties existance. Futher proof one way or another can persuade me, however as there are no testable hypothesis it seems agnosticism is the best way to be.

I can indeed have a god who did not create the earth. Think that a man made up rules to a game, he then created a bunch of matter/energy and let it go just for shits.

The god in this case mearly set up the rules and gave the input of matter/energy. The development of the game results from the interplay of the rules.

You almost invoked a cool paradox, "can an omnipotent and allpowerful god create something which he cannot even destroy". If this is possible for god, that god already exists in a reality where rational thought does not exist. Where humans live in this universe, we have rational laws and theories which explain most phenominea pretty well.

If you have been eating a lot of bagels - and some cereals etc., they have a lot of "wheat gluten". I wonder now where the heck that wheat gluten has been coming from ---

and about those gluten allergies.

just an fyi it wasnt wheat gluten that was killing the pets, it was an adulterant in the food.

pretty much you can add nitrogen compounds which increases the apparent protient content of what you are trying to sell. (thus more $$)

just took a look

cyuranic acid

are probably the problem chemicals, more will be known in the future.


I knew that (perhaps my post was ambiguous). My unsaid implication was that
"who knows how long wheat gluten has been contaminated, and one does not know what else is contaminated",

As someone said it is time to get that backyard vegetable garden going.

Incidentally that pet-food was first tested at the NY-State-Food-Laboratory and was found to be contaminated with rat poison. The FDA was vehement in shooting that down.

Some additional links that are though provoking and raise some interesting questions - from a quick google search:



Meat is like oil. It is a powerful concentrated energy source. The problem is not meat, but that most people have sedentary lives in front of TVs and at desks. So the meat turns to fat. Is it the meat or the fat that is bad health cause? You vegans can't make the case that it is unnatural to eat meat. Everyone has seen the statistics that people who exercise moderately live longer and healthier than couch potatoes--but people who exercise a lot live longer and healthier than the moderate folks. Of course, we might be better off with eating less meat -- but I hope in future we can all still eat grain fed meat and get some exercise because we won't be wasting the grain on making ethanol.

Meat is like oil. It is a powerful concentrated energy source.

No it isn't.

Meat typically has fewer calories per 100 grams than starch - rice, pasta, even bread (compare to chicken).

Low-fat cuts of meat are surprisingly low in calories - they're only about 1/4 protein by weight, with marginal carbohydrates, so remove the fat and they're about half as calorie-dense as bread, or 1/3 as dense as dry rice/pasta.

That´s why meat is perfect if you wan´t to avoid beeing obese.
Personally i eat MUCH meat, fish, butter, chease and eggs and a LITTLE vegetables and fruit( no other carbohydrates besides beer).
This is a diet with much protein and animal fat and small amounts of carbohydrates. I avoid oils and use real butter instead and NEVER margarines.

When i begun with this diet i was beginning to gain weight, but that changed amideatly, and now i have no overweight, and i am never hungry.

The fat is essential and ca 50% of the calories could be animal fat.

Why do you think many westerners are obese. Probably because they follow modern diet recommendations with a low fat high carbohydrat diet. Our ancestors who ate a fatty diet had not our problems with obesity, diabetes and heart problems. Of cource one factor also is that they did fysical labor, so we must exercise also.

Why do you think many westerners are obese.

Because they're absurdly sedentary.

Compared to that, the details of diet are pretty minor.

I'd like to know how dangerous CF bulbs are. On the one hand, I played with liquid mercury as a kid without any obvious harm. (Doesn't everyone have two heads?) On the other, I remember the case of a mercury researcher that fatally poisoned herself several years ago -- some mercury compound that went right through her protective gloves.

It really does depend on the science -- but of course these days there's the problem of getting science that is not already paid for by an entity with a stake in the results.

Internal exposure to mercury and other heavy metals causes nervous system diseases including central (brain/ spinal cord, and peripheral (i.e. the nerves in your arms and legs). Mercury was used to give black top hats a silvery sheen, hence "mad as a hatter". Exposure in children with immature central nervous systems can be especially bad and permanent mental retardation can occur (this is the main reason why lead is no longer in our paint and gasoline. Some heavy metals (especially manganese) have been implicated in movement disorder similar to Parkinson Disease. In the air, heavy metals can cause respiratory problems such as asthma, exacerbation of emphysema and sinusitis. Heavy metals can also cause kidney and liver problems, but I must confess I don't know how or why. As far as I know, heavy metals have never been implicated in cancer. Heavy metal exposure usually occurs slowly from environmental sources, such as mercury leaking into a water well or eating to much fish from a contaminated river.

The amount of mercury in a single CFL bulb is not enough to cause a problem. Don't have the numbers but I bet the exposure from a single bulb isn't much more than you get from a couple servings of predatory fish. But it is definitely true that it can absorb right through the skin. It can also absorb through the lung as a vapor.

You can estimate your mercury level here:


FYI: Many physicians do not know this, but if you ever feel the need to have a heavy metal level checked, a random blood level is not very helpful. A 24 hour collection of urine or a hair sample is needed to get an accurate level.

Like many of the toxic substances we are exposed to throughout our lives, the standard dose received is measured to be relatively harmless to a human. For example, we all know that the amount of chlorine in our tap water is supposed to be at low enough concentrations to not cause any major harm to those who drink it... but here is the trap:

Suppose a person is exposed to low levels of toxic substances A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O and P in their normal daily life (everything from heavy metals and chemicals in exhaust fumes, to additives in water and foods, household fly sprays, etc... This is the common array for many people in a given society. Health levels are tested across the board when a new toxic substance Q is introduced, like say Fluoride to drinking water. There is little or no change in health levels, so substance Q is offically given the green light. A few years later substance R is added. Same results. A few years later substance S, and so on. After several decades health authorities wonder where a new array of illnesses have come from... they test substance G and find it makes no difference. They test substance M. Same result. They scratch their heads.

They forget/are unable to/don't want to test all substances or large combinations of them vs a real control group - one with none of those substances in their daily life. Studies have shown that combining two low level toxic substances can have a greater effect than the addition of the effects of both separately. Yet this kind of understanding seems lacking in the medical establishment and regulatory agencies such as the EPA.

My guess is that money is a more powerful motivator than real science.

The CFL lightbulb may not be much of a problem on its own, but I'll bet it is part of a much bigger problem - the combination of low level toxicities in our lives.

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

Thank you for pointing this out so well.

With some 80,000 to 100,000 chemical substances in various forms of use today there is just no way in hell to manage identifying in what combinations which of these low level toxicities are poisoning us. Whatever the real numbers are that we're exposed to, it's beyond sorting out.

As for any unaffected control group, forgetaboutit! More than enough of these chemicals are everywhere.

Rather than ever think to halt this flood of chemical exposure we'll try and manage the poisoning with medical band-aid relief measures, often comprised of medicinal chemical infusions. Brilliant!

Time to go stock up on some morphine for the future.

Here is my comment to the original post of April 28:


For adults, I personally wouldn't be concerned about breaking a single CF bulb. I would use a ground cloth when changing these bulbs, especially in rooms that children frequent. Vacuums are not advised, as they seem to be better at distributing the mercury than at removing it.
The elemental mercury released is not very bioavailable, and it is only about 2 milligrams per bulb. The chemistry professor you are thinking about, Karen Wetterhahn, was poisoned by dimethyl mercury, a chemical more poisonous than arsenic, plutonium, or sarin gas. Mercury in the food chain is usually methyl mercury.

'On the one hand, I played with liquid mercury as a kid without any obvious harm.'


Wen I wer't'kid wi cut up asbestos sheets wi found ont tip t' make a roof for our den. Int woods.

Dint doo us any arm...cough...

´Wen I wer´tkid wi cut up asbetos shets wi found´

Hah nothing,really a healthcure.

When i was a kid we brushed our teeths with liquid mercury standing on a floor of crushed asbestos.

Didn´do us a harm either either either either either either either eith eith ...cough burp.

We've spend years using tube-type flourescent lightbulbs without the hysteria we now have over CFs. There's no difference between them except the CFs have a built-in ballast.

RIght on - and all those yrs of mercury oral thermometers! I guess we're all dead or stupid and just don't know it --

Everyone, including me, seems to forget that we used mercury amalgam fillings for years with no apparent harm, including to the dentist.

There was a quote on CNBC this morning during the CF lighbulb story that said amalgam fillings have 100x the mercury of the CF lightbulbs.

From the testimony of Admiral Joseph Preuher, USN (Ret.) in the "Hearing on
National Security Implications of Climate Change" held by the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, May 9, 2007:

The first [observation] is to highlight that link between climate change and energy security. One can describe our current energy supply as finite, foreign and fickle. Continued pursuit of overseas energy supplies, and our addiction to them, cause a great loss of leverage in the international arena. Ironically, a focus on climate change may actually help us on this count. Key elements of the solution set for climate change are the same ones we would use to gain energy security. Focusing on climate is not a distraction from our current challenges; it may actually help us identify solutions.

From the opening statement by Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) to the Committee:

First, oil supplies are vulnerable to natural disasters, wars, and terrorist attacks that can disrupt the lifeblood of the international economy.

Second, as large industrializing nations such as China and India seek new energy supplies, oil and natural gas will become more expensive. In the long run we will face the prospect that the world's supply of oil may not be abundant and accessible enough to support continued economic growth in both the industrialized West and in large rapidly growing economies. As we approach the point where the world's oil-hungry economies are competing for insufficient supplies of energy, oil will become an even stronger magnet for conflict.

Third, adversarial regimes are using energy supplies as leverage against their neighbors. We are used to thinking in terms of conventional warfare between nations, but energy is becoming a weapon of choice for those who possess it. Nations experiencing a cutoff of energy supplies, or even the threat of a cutoff, may become desperate, increasing the chances of armed conflict, terrorism, and economic collapse.

Fourth, the revenues flowing to authoritarian regimes often increase corruption in those countries and allow them to insulate themselves from international pressure and the democratic aspirations of their own peoples. We are transferring hundreds of billions of dollars each year to some of the least accountable regimes in the world.

Fifth, much of the developing world is being hit hard by rising energy costs, which often cancel the benefits of our foreign assistance. Without a diversification of energy supplies that emphasizes environmentally friendly energy sources that are abundant in most developing countries, the national incomes of energy poor nations will remain depressed, with negative consequences for stability, development, disease eradication, and terrorism.

The sixth threat is the risk of climate change, made worse by inefficient use of non-renewable energy.

And yet we quibble over 35 mpg CAFE standards that call for different standards depending upon size and weight classes. Further, we hear from auto companies they cannot possibly meet the new standards. And, we hear nothing from congress about possibly raising gas taxes, rationing, or anything else that would actually cut demand for oil.

Sure, national security is of paramount importance but the short term fortunes of U.S. auto companies are far more important.

Yes, security and the global war on terrah are our nation's number one priority unless that fight conflicts with American bidness.

But if we can just "win" the war in Iraq, all will be well and we can go back to sleep for another ten years.

Regarding the sixth point, inefficient use of renewable energy ain't such a great idea either unless, of course, you are from a corn producing state like Iowa.

The Admiral was working through the CNA corp, the non-profit corp running the Center for Naval Analyses. They've been going whole hog on the energy security and climate issues, as you can see from their website:


I do believe Drumbeat did link to their report a couple of weeks ago; for repetition's sake here is their special website:

The CNA has, over the decades, been a bit of a clearinghouse for the thinking of interested groups in the Admiralty and the DON. Whether they've added any new thinking or discovered any new data on climate change or Peak Oil... I do not know. However, that they have latched onto the topics indicate that:
1) they know which way the political winds are blowing;
2) pieces of the Navy establishment are indeed thinking about these topics.

Iraqi Union Set to Strike over Oil Law

UPDATE - Apparently the strike deadline has now been moved until Monday May 14th

Iraq workers stall strike for Oil Ministry

See my Iraq -- Land of Opportunity and Adventure? for some background.

At issue are the production sharing agreements mandated by the draft oil law. These are opposed by the Iraqi oil workers.

Actually the oil law is good news for Iraq. The entire country agrees that it is an attempt to steal Iraq's oil and won't have a bar of it. It, and getting the Americans out, seems to be the only thing they Iraqis agree on it.

Interestingly it is one of the "progress" benchmarks congress is proposing in the half year budget. What a wonderful threat, agree with me or I will go away.

See Bush passes the buck on Iraq

Wal-Mart sales worst on record

Wal-Mart said chilly April weather across most of the country hurt sales of seasonal goods, and rising gas prices hurt sales of clothing, home goods and other merchandise.

Home equity loans have been a giant ATM machine for the US consumer. Now that the value of housing is declining and interest rates are rising, the ATM is broken. People aren't buying because they don't have any money to buy -- or because they can see the handwriting on the wall and assume they won't have any money to buy soon.

The weekly natural gas storage numbers:

Working gas in storage was 1,747 Bcf as of Friday, May 4, 2007, according to EIA estimates. This represents a net increase of 96 Bcf from the previous week. Stocks were 230 Bcf less than last year at this time and 297 Bcf above the 5-year average of 1,450 Bcf.

After another week of inventory reports...I feel frustrated with the current system of reporting.

(could say the same about economic reporting...but that is for a different blog)

It would be much more indicative if we reported days forward based on current demand. That would give the true picture.

Yes, I realize we can calculate this, but the general public can't (maybe most analysts too).

So saying we are above the 5 year average means nothing...unless it is in days forward.

It's just like Net Exports...you can increase production in a country all you like, but if you can't export it...Does is mean anything? Not so much!

/ end rant


Not sure if you meant oil as well as NG, but you can get weekly estimates for days forward supply of crude oil and various petroleum products here.

[Scroll down the page to Days of Supply]


I was thinking mostly of NG, but my intention was about the way the media reports it, and analysts quote it...you rarely see "days forward" in a news report.

from rigzone , yesterday: " on the basis of total reserves of more than 1 billion tons of oil equivalent, analysist said the find could exceed the entire reserves of china's dominant offshore producer cnooc ltd (ceo) although this depends (sic)how reserves are defined and classified".

The BBC quoted an energy analyst as estimating that recoverable reserves, based on current data, are probably on the order of 650 million barrels of crude oil.

Does it really matter if it's 650 or 1000 or 1200? Not at all. Or does it really matter if the peak was 6/05, 11/05 12/06 or 6/12 or even 6/20? And does it matter if its sweeet light crude or heavy sour crude or + liquids or + ++? We face exactly the same problems in a slightly changed time frame (insignificant in terms of human history and absolutely and totaly unmeasurabel in terms of geological timescales). And when do we stop making point estimates unless we also provide so data on variances and confidence levels. For all you know the point estimate of 650 is exactly the same as the point estimate of 1000 given the variances and the confidences.

First, a billion tons of oil equivalent is about 7 Gb of oil equivalent (oil + condensate + NGL + Natural Gas). But this is the high side, in place reserve estimate.

Second, in regard to your broader point, for some time I have been asserting that arguing over the precise timing of the peak (assuming a peak in the 2005 to 2015 range) is akin to engineers arguing over how fast the Titanic would sink. (See my post up the thread)

yes the 7 or 7.3 gb of ooip is consistantly called "reserves" in the press releases. i take it the chineeze dont have a proper term for "oil deposits" (and for that matter it doesnt appear the english speaking press do either).

Just noticed President Bush on CNN looking like one step from the bunker. Just my imagination?

I heard a rumor that the Queen is sending Prince Harry over to slap W for being such a buffoon.

On a lighter note,

Leanan's post:
Oil, Food, and the Coming Crisis in Agriculture

While Cuba is still a nation amid difficult times, it represents a light at the end of the petrochemical tunnel

This is rather evocative --


I've always enjoyed this picture, rather Idylic in a vervey way (learned that word verve from Kunstler), maybe what life will be like if we have any luck at all.

Idylic?!?!? Those people all look absolutely exhausted!

Heh heh. Watch it though someone might kick sand in your face,(and I did say vervy)! I take it you don't jog, cycle or lift weights and not get paid. These guys get paid, yes I know, only in kind, but they also get to drink beer in fresh air that is breathable.

The guy that is asleep in the foreground is the nightwatch, so that the sheaves don't get stolen at night while the harvest isn't finished yet. Of course they're exhausted, it's the result of one year's work that they're hauling in!

Idyll? Have you taken leave of your senses? What on earth is it about the attraction of primitivism these days?

I see the utterly boring and exhausting living hell that was the brutish life of nearly all in the sixteenth century. If that would be Cuba's idea of "light", then there can be no question whatever about why the traffic between Florida and Cuba is in one direction only, and that direction is not southbound.

There's often more than meets the eye in Pieter Brueghel's pictures, some of which are quite earthy. Much earthier examples may be found in in the Rijksmuseum and elsewhere. From the article, "On his deathbed he reportedly ordered his wife to burn the most subversive of his drawings to protect his family from political persecution."

His time was a perfectly awful one - and duly reflected as such in his work - and present-day Cuba is no better. No one in his or her right mind would ever choose to live in such a time and place.

There is something to be said for honest work, to be outdoors and close to the land, and to be working in the convivial company of neighbors. But there is also something to be said for centuries of science and technology that have enabled humans to extned their working capabilities beyond the limit of their own physical capacity, and to provide some relief from drudgery.

I'd argue that the degree of drudgery hasn't diminshed one iota. Only the forms.

And while science and technology have provided us with many minor miracles of convenience allowing us to believe that our drudgery is less, it has come at great costs of diminished personal responsibility, community vitality & conviviality, and many other foregone qualities of life.

The very thing you think to extoll, extending our working capabilities beyond our physical limits, presumes this also extended to our intelligence and decency. For the most part, it surely has not; our applications of science and technology have allowed us to do greater harm to such an extent that our human prospects are threatened.

Without meaning to suggest life before science and technology was an idyll, the future of all life wasn't at risk of nuclear holocaust, run-away climate change, persistant chemical contaimination, ecological collapse, or any number of other disasters of our own making; all of which are due to the breach of human limitations that 20th century science and technology have provided us with.

I'd gladly exchange some of these features of our times for a decent future for my kids even if it involved an exchange of prior (say 18th or 19th century) drudgery for that which we now conveniently suffer.

I would rather live in his time & place than in Las Vegas. Not even close.

"Idyll? Have you taken leave of your senses? What on earth is it about the attraction of primitivism these days?"

The first person I have read in a long time who in your linked managed to track the fantasy back to it's roots....for those who dream of "the utterly boring and exhausting living hell that was the brutish life of nearly all in the sixteenth century", peak oil is not a problem, it is the dream.....capitalism and modernism are not solutions, they are the problem!

You now may begin to see why any solution to peak oil must be killed in it's crib.....

Remember, we are only one cubic mile from freedom

Re Harvesters... note that picture is evocative of conditions that prevailed when the World Population was something like a factor of ten less than it is today. :-(


``It's only a few weeks before driving season and gasoline supplies are more than 15 million barrels below normal,'' said Phil Flynn, a commodities trader for Chicago-based Alaron Trading. ``A gain of under 400,000 barrels isn't a lot.''

``It looks like gasoline demand will be pretty strong,'' said Peter Meyer, a commodity trader for Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. in New York. ``Seeing $3 at the pump is no longer enough to curtail demand. We now have to see $4 before people change their behavior.''

Maybe Robert can take some (pain) relief in calling this one well :)

The only question is what particular behavior is going to change.

Right, doubt it will change the sense of competition in a zero-sum game.
Picture 1000 people lined up outside BestBuy waiting for 25 Wii players to go on sale.

Hello TODers,

As TODer WT mentions upthread, "...as the bell tolls for thee." The following text is a hypothetical strategic plan for Australia to execute to hopefully avert the most violence and worst genetic exhaustion states of Hans Selye's General Adaptation Syndrome [GAS]:


Wild & Crazy Speculation ahead!

First, a just updated Wiki on Australia's drought for those who need to get up to speed:


Let's assume for the moment that Global Warming is really tightening the Drought Squeeze on Australia, and that things will continue to get worse faster than the OZ govt can effectively respond; a Superdrought, if you can imagine it.

Thomas Friedman, of NY Times fame, is apparently down under assessing just how few ozs of water the Ozzies have at their disposal, and how their politics are being transformed almost overnight:

Australia's 'big dry' prompts changes in political coalitions

Politics gets interesting when it stops raining. In just 12 months, climate change has gone from being a nonissue here to being one that could tip the vote. The whole issue has come from the bottom up, and it has come on so quickly that neither party can be sure it has its finger on the public's pulse. In short, climate change is the first issue in a long time that could really scramble Western politics.

So let's speculatively assume that the Ozzies continue talking while Nature acts: the Superdrought plus Peakoil really starts to hammer out a reality far beyond what their local and national govts expected, or what they can afford to mitigate, or what the people are willing to do.... not everyone wants to revert back to Aboriginal lifestyles.

From the CIA Factbook: approx. 20.5 million Australians [July 2007 est.] Obviously, most of these are city dwellers, and they would not want to relocate to the rural areas or the Outback in a time of extended and worsening climate change induced drought. Could we see a rising tide of Ozzies relocating to Canada, the US, and the British Isles? Beats by a long shot the prospect of staying in Oz, then dying of thirst or starvation. The alternative of militarily invading New Zealand, Tasmania, and other Southern Hemisphere Islands will have a very high cost, and will shelter only a very few Ozzies before Overshoot & Dieoff quickly kicks in Easter Island style.

So let's imagine 5-10 million will suddenly realize that quickly getting out is the best way to survive and possibly thrive; to earlier avert the onset of GAS. They could rapidly assimilate into another First World culture that has the same basic norms and speaks their language [although French Quebec would be a little more difficult.] Also consider that Oz has been a steadfast ally to the US and UK by sending their troops to Iraq.

Sad Fact: most North Americans [NA] could care less about Zimbabwe, Sudan, Nigeria, and other African countries; they could not find them on a map. But IF Australia really starts going downhill: I speculate that TPTB and the NA & UK MSM to really start a push to rapidly expedite Ozzie immigration. Say roughly 500,000 to the UK, 4.5 million to Cascadia, Athabasca, Alaska, and around the Great Lakes and other NA areas expected to benefit from climate change.

The new immigrants could be given nearly instant citizen status in exchange for a couple of years of military or alternative service work. If TPTB decide that SuperNafta actually means CAN, US, UK, and AUS, then these newly arrived immigrants can be easily incentivized to help shut the Southern Border, and/or help deport those illegals in police roundups. If Mexico is to be included in a SuperNafta plan, the language & cultural difference would give the Ozzies a big first leg up over the struggling Latin underclass.

Also consider that just because Australia is low on water for large quantities of human habitation doesn't mean that Australia is not extremely valuable for continued MPP resource extraction. The FFs, uranium, and other resources will continue to be exported, and the combined SuperNafta Navies of the UK, CAN, AUS, and the USA will present a formidable obstacle to any country thinking of invading a much depopulated, but now a much more water-sustainable continent. In short: the young Ozzies serving on Pacific Battle fleets will essentially be automatic Earthmarines helping to protect their siblings, cousins, parents and grandparents from foreign invasion.

Okay, this is just a brief and highly speculative overview. I have not included a lot of other PO & GW potentials such as: maybe the American Southwest and/or Midwest 'Dust Bowl' drought will be worse than Oz's drought. Five million newly landed Ozzies would quickly get lost in a 50 million migratory herd heading North. Additionally, this huge Aussie influx would probably force most of the ethanol plants to convert into more profitable Foster's Lager breweries. =)

Also, just maybe, maybe Oz can quickly build sufficient nuclear and/or solar plants to desalinize enough water to keep their people home and well fed. Time will tell how effective they are in minimizing distress and bio-feedback forces that tend to maximize blowback.

Hopefully, some AUS TODers will detail their hypothetical relocation choices if TSHTF early and hard down under. Would it be sufficient if Canada and the US welcomes you, or would most Aussies rather take their chances on migrating to Argentina and Brazil? Yes, I am aware of your govt's well-managed budget and low unemployment, but a booming economy doesn't make oil magically form underground, or bring huge thunderclouds spilling rain.

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

Sad Fact: most North Americans [NA] could care less about Zimbabwe, Sudan, Nigeria, and other African countries;

CNN was running the story this morning about Mugabe's deal with Eq. Guinea, for Zimbabwe to build a resort in Eq. Guinea. That, and the turning over of Mann is speculated to have been the price to get a cut of the Eq. Guinea oil/oil business.

Also, just maybe, maybe Oz can quickly build sufficient nuclear and/or solar plants to desalinize enough water to keep their people home and well fed.

Why can't they (in the SE areas affected the worst) move north? And, from what I have been able to find, the current threat (as outlined by the news reports) is to agriculture and thus an important export for Australia (and important import for many places in Asia.) However, I've not seen anywhere mentioned that they won't be able to feed themselves.

Hello InJapan,

Thxs for responding. Yep, my scenario is nearly 'worst case', but humans, like all other species, have an excellent genetic heritage of preferring Overshoot & Collapse vs thoughtful prevention. I do hope that Australia is rapidly gearing up to universal prevention, but my essay was to address what might be a best next strategic plan if they fiddle around too long on primary mitigation; if reality overtakes their efforts.

Your suggestion that Aussies move to the tropical northern areas of Oz was also suggested by me in earlier postings. But consider that a delayed move to 110 degrees and high humidity with none to very little A/C maybe be considered Hell on Earth to those more naturally acclimated to milder temperatures. Thus my speculation that many may prefer to move to Cascadia and other more gentle NA climate zones if TSHTF down under. Consider that most migrating Zimbabweans [from memory: 1/4 to 1/3 of pop] moved to South Africa-- away from the hotter equator and towards greater perceived energy & wealth.

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

Or they'll come to NZ. The horror! :-)

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

Sorry to be picky, Bob

The alternative of militarily invading New Zealand, Tasmania ...

Australia is going to invade itself?

PS The Aussies are already here in BC... they own & run the ski hills... & seasonal workers are all Aussie kids... you always get a "G'Day Mate" as you get on a lift... hell, they even celebrate Australia Day!!

Hello Canbrit,

Oops! Thxs for the correction. I am laboring through a haze of NYQUIl-- a head cold is severely kicking my ass.

OTOH, might the Tasmanian devils secede at some future point like I think Cascadia might secede from the Union in an attempt to become an independent Biosolar entity?


An EarthMarine wouldn't use Nyquil. Nor should you. A teaspoon of crushed red pepper, like they have in pizza joints, will fix you right up (and last for 4 to 6 hours too.)

Hello Will,

Thxs for responding with an alternative treatment.

They wouldn't need to invade us anyway. Their passports and ours work just fine in either country for residency and work and it is easy to get citizenship...

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

Short reply as I have to go to work, will post a more detailed response tonight.

As a nation Australia is heavily underplaying the growing water crisis and the implications it holds. We are very definitely acting like our well discussed frog!

On a personal level, if emigration became necessary I'd head to England first and Canada second. I'm a teacher and England's education system is more similar to ours than the USA.

I suggest you might want to rethink that...

As a society... England is fading fast... and its educational system has been a political football for decades... resulting in diluted standards from primary to university. Teaching there would be like entering a battleground; you would spend more time controlling/papershuffling/socialworking than teaching.

In Canada you would be able to concentrate on teaching.

If you really enjoy teaching... get into the International school system... parents who still strive for the highest standards and kids who want to learn and aren't too distracted by the "latest thing". Asian kids particuarly, tho' my favourite were Egyptians.

PS I'm visiting Lismore/Byron next month... already paradise on Earth... that corner of NSW has no water restrictions yet!!

Yeah, I spent 2 1/2 years in southern Gold Coast and Brisbane - very, very high score on the living-by-the-beach-o-meter.

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

very, very high score on the living-by-the-beach-o-meter.

Not quite BB but close enough... so where are you now, NZ? I used to have a house in Paihia... before discovering "the secret that Canada kept to itself"...

Canbrit in........ BC

Had the pleasure of visiting BBay a few times of course, but back in NZ now.

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

Thanks and thanks to totentella for hypothesizing about what might happen.

Let's hope the Midwest Dust Bowl doesn't return anytime soon, because there is no Plan B for that.

Aussies don't need a lot of water since they only shower every 6 weeks whether they need to or not. Good luck with sneaking up on the Ghawar of uranium deposits...Olympic Dam mine

Showers they might do without, but should the beer production cease I have no doubts whatsoever that there would be a mass exodus!

This would have to be one of the silliest posts I have seen on the Oil Drum. Whilst Australia certainly has many areas that are being affected by severe drought, other parts of the country are receiving plenty of water. There is no likely possibilty of Australians having to immigrate anywhere, nor do they need to,nor does food have to be imported.

It never ceases to amaze me of the ignorance that many americans have of other parts of the world. The reason some farm areas have had water cut is that too many irrigation license were issued for the area and with low rainfalls in the rivers in that area it was decided to cancel them until rain returns.

I have just returned from an eight day trip through many parts of Central Australia and rivers and lakes are full of water from big rains in the northern part of Australia earlier in the year. The post above is so far from reality as to be in fantasyland

The stereotype about Americans being ignorant is only partly true. I think we have some of the most ignorant people in the world but also some of the smartest. The extremes seem to be well-represented. MY guess is the Americans here come largely from the smart extreme. I've never had any trouble finding stimulating conversation both in person and on the web. Australians aren't known for being great intellects either. I have found the countries to be similar in more ways than one. I might ignore that coming from a continental but not from you.


I have some good American friends and have visited the US four times but I stand by my statement after many years of world travel that" many americans are ignorant of other parts of the world" I couldn't agree more that you have some very smart people in your country with some of the technical achievemnts of the US but a large percentage of americans have not travelled outside their country and have limited knowledge of other countries.
I was linking the statement to the post about australians having to leave their country and I would be just as critical of an Australian making the same uninformed comment about the US.

I grew up w/ my head buried in maps and so did all my friends. Just the other day i was at my cousin's (someone i did not grow up w/ ,mainly) and the talk turned to Algeria and we got the maps out and spent 3 hrs just talking geography. There are millions of people here like that. I guess i agree that the mean is driven down by the ignorant masses (here in NYC they basically "don't know nothing;" I had a bus driver in the Bronx once who didn't know where Manhattan was ."Is that up in Westchester somewhere?")


New Yorkers have the self obsessiveness of all great cities. Why would you know about anywhere else?

It's quite common for urban slum dwellers to have never been 'up town': 5th Ave or Oxford Street or whatever. They don't feel comfortable there, and they generally don't have the money.

Ignorance amongst Americans tends to be much wider spread. It's out in the great suburbs and the southern states where you find people who don't know what State Canada is in ;-).

Hello Down Under,

Thxs for responding. Full disclosure: I never had the time and money to travel your country and reduce my ignorance. I travel by Google, which of course has inherent limitations. Thus, I value your input.

Yes, my post was speculation or fantasyland, I clearly said so at the outset. But so many news reports have come out lately on farmer suicides, dying crops, drought restrictions, long wildfire seasons, and other dire news--what should we think? When even John Howard says pray for rain, and the IPCC mentions climate effects in OZ--what should we think?

When I newsgoogle: Australia + plentiful rains, I get 3 hits total. When I newsgoogle: Australia + drought, I get 2,348 hits--> what should we accept as the true reality in Oz?

I assume you have read this latest text from this link:


The hydrologists don't seem to think that everything is well. Feel free to disagree. Thxs for any reply.

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

Parts of Australia are in severe drought but lots aren't. North of the Tropic of Capricorn right across the whole country there have been significant rains including a number of cyclones (hurricanes in the US) The main point I was making was that talk of Australians having to emmigrate is far from the facts.
As I write it has been pouring rain on the east coast south of Brisbane and as I mentioned on an inland flight over much of Central Australia recently I was amazed at the water, lagoons, rivers and green everywhere. Western NSW has had very good rains too and in other parts. It is true the Capital cities have their problems - too may people, dams in the wrong places and no planning but this country can feed itself.
North Queensland has also plenty of water. I have visited friends in Phoenix and Arizona on two occasions recently so I know of the water levels of Lake Powell having gone boating up there. You have the same problems but that does not mean you all have to leave Phoenix. I am always wary of placing too much faith in the truth of many newspaper articles and even Wikipedia on many subjects.

Best Wishes, I think Arizona is a great place, have travelled all over it, even down to Bisbee

Worth reading Jared Diamond. Good chapter on Australia in 'Collapse' and being a Papua-New-Guinea specialist, he knows Oz well. I base my insights below on his writing, and apologies in advance for factual misstatements and/or misunderstandings or exaggeration on my part.

Setting aside the current drought, which as you say is as much about settlement and usage patterns as rainfall, the reality is the Australian continent goes through periods up to thousands of years in length, where it doesn't rain much (or at all).

It's actually a very thin biosystem, with little moisture and soils that don't renew.

There were something like 10 million North American Indians in 1491 (there may have been more: the smallpox that Columbus brought struck a frightful toll-- they have found ruins of communities of up to 100,000 people in the Midwest). Yet there were fewer than half a million Australian aborigines pre Tasman et. al.

This tells you something about the relative carrying capacities of the 2 continents in terms of the natural environment.

A civilised society (think Israel) can transcend the limits of its physical habitation. There is a phenomenon called 'shadow water' ie the water content of imports, in the Middle East. This allows a country like Egypt, Libya, Saudi Arabia to support a much higher population than the natural resource base would allow.

Desalination I think is actually a pretty limited technology. Countries that make it work in scale have huge resources of fossil fuel (Saudi Arabia, Libya) and even there the limits of those resources are being found-- they too pump a lot of groundwater. Solar desalination has potential, but the scale of the investment is huge. Nukes I think are something of a distraction (the technological complexity of the nuclear fuel cycle, to desalinate water in about the most inefficient way possible-- you quickly wind up devoting a huge fraction of your resources to achieving very little).

But this vision of a future Australia, where rainfall is conserved, water is recycled, agriculture is limited to those crops that don't need additional water, is a hard one to get to from the current Australian mindset and setup.

I am sure it can be done. A Palestinian uses 1/20th as much water as an Israeli, to give an example of the kinds of savings that can be achieved.

But it's going to take a hard headed realism that says 'actually, there are some environmental problems that cannot be mastered, they can only be adapted to'.

This is entirely contrary to the Australian (and North American) mindsets of the Eternal Frontier (to steal Tim Flannery's phrase-- it would be an Australian who writes one of the best books about North America ;-). A related problem is that you, along with Canadians and Americans, are the best practitioners of the 'city as suburb and exurb' model of sprawl, which increases the energy cost of doing practically everything, but especially transport.

I remember one Australian Senator (Liberal, I presume) saying about the drought 'clearly we should never have allowed some of these farms to be set up. We have to move these farmers to the new frontier in the Northern Territory'.

So there you have it, a true statement of fact (Australia has many farms which don't work in a water poor environment) followed by a completely incorrect (almost absurd) conclusion, that the solution is to bulldoze another piece of wilderness somewhere else, compounding the mistake.

It's a measure, I suspect, of how far your political and social culture has yet to go.

Note: I write this in sorrow not in anger. Canadians have just as far to go (being worse greenhouse gas emitters than the US per capita) from another direction. Although Canada is undoubtedly environmentally the richest country in the world (eg something like 1/5th the world's store of fresh water) it also has to share that with the US and the US lifestyle, and Canadians really haven't woken up to their own damage to the environment. In a world of global warming, some parts of Canada are likely simply to *dry out*-- Canada is hardly ready.

Well, you have covered a lot of ground here. Much I agree with and some I am not so sure. I have never read Jarod Diamond but I doubt he is a New Guinea specialist. I actually lived there for two years in 1964-1966 so do know a bit about the place - I would say you would have to live there at least twenty years to understand the place so on that account, is he really an authoritive source? I doubt it - I wouldn't claim to be.
You are correct in that much of outback Australia should not have been cultivated or grazed but it may well have been that when settlers moved into those areas the climate was good. I agree that Canada has much more to offer, I have been there and appreciate the country, wonderful place.
Australia does not have the long periods (1000 years) of no rain. It gets periods of intense cyclones and strong SE Trades along the SE coast and then from time to time they go away. The biggest problem was the continent never had any high mountains which would have caused more cloud formation and hence big inland river systems like North America.
I also agree with you that unless you can solve the water problem the increase in crops will be limited but the country can certainly sustain itself at present. You mention desalisination - my belief after much research is that the IV Generation Fast Reactor could well provide the power to do this but not for an ever increasing population

I suggest that you read Collapse and judge for yourself. I don't have first hand knowledge of Australia or New Guinea, but I would not be too quick to dismiss the findings.

Dimond would have to be considered a seminal thinker given the problems that we face. For instance, for people who are interested in the middle east, I would pair it in a recommendation along w/ the works of Thesinger and Lawrence in order to convey a sense of how much they have changed,how far down they can go, and HOW. His stuff will catch on in Australia eventually, but it will take time...


Re: Thesiger...

My favourite quote of his was along the lines that the lives of the Bedouin & the Medan (Marsh Arabs of Iraq) hadn't changed for thousands of years... there was nothing from modern society (1940/50s) that they valued.. with the single exception of... the rifle (for hunting).

Mind you, as someone mentioned in yesterday's Drumbeat... the recent trend to romantise primitivism and a return to some pre-industrial idylll can easily be dismissed.

P.J. O'Rourke dismissed it in one word... "Dentistry"

Eh. I don't know if that's a good example. We have tooth problems because we are eating a lot more carbohydrates than we evolved to eat.

We have tooth problems because we are eating a lot more carbohydrates than we evolved to eat.

Info blocks on a recent tour I was on suggested the difference was largely due to the softness of the food we eat today. Even medieval Europeans ate food which needed more crushing and grinding than we do today, and the resulting wear on their teeth meant much fewer dental problems as a result.

Diamond's scientific career was apparently cast around research he did on PPNG aborigines. So there, I think, he really does know a lot. Whether one believes everything in the broader sweep of his books, I think he knows an incredible amount about natural history.

Collapse is well worth a read, if only the chapter on Australia.

I worked with a Phd in agricultural science (South African) who told me that Australia did *indeed* have 1000 year droughts, if you go back far enough. It has to do with the movement of the jetstreams-- which may be shifting with global warming. However he may have been referring only to the East Coast, and as you say, it is a continent, not just a country.

That said, the current drought is no worse than the Federation Drought, which caused the formation of the country.

It may simply be much of Australia will have to give up agriculture (of the kind that requires irrigation).

I guess you don't agree with your fellow Australian, Helen Caldicott, then ;-). I must admit that I am not pro nuclear power (my father built CANDU reactors though) but I think it's probably an important tool to get through the next 50 years, when, practically, we have to decarbonise the entire economy. CO2 emissions for developed countries in 2050 are going to have to be, practically, at least 60 and more likely 80% lower than they are now.

On 4th Generation, I've seen too many promises on nuclear power made and broken in my lifetime-- on cost, waste, safety. I don't think the graphite baseball technology will work. And the 'savings' are all about doing away with the containment vessels. Which in a world post 9-11, you just aren't going to do.

We'll build 3rd Gen reactors, using pressurised water technology. That choice was made for us 55 years ago by the US nuclear submarine programme, and we'll stick with it: just as we use 7-bit ASCII codes (8 bit), QWERTY keyboards, 7 digit phone numbers (in the Bell System), drive on the right (left) hand side of the road, and we drive internal combustion engine cars not steam cars. Each of these technology solutions was arbitrary, but once 'locked into' them, it's too difficult to change.

For desalination, I think Oz would be better to exploit solar technology, and sewage recycling, and general efficiencies. The membrane technologies also remain promising (I think the Israelis are the leaders here)-- in fact I think they predominate amongst desalination technologies out there.

I suspect clean coal has as much or more to offer Australia on the power front, as nuclear power. Building a nuke industry from scratch is no mean feat. And you don't have a waste disposal problem, why wish one upon yourselves?

There were something like 10 million North American Indians in 1491 (there may have been more: the smallpox that Columbus brought struck a frightful toll-- they have found ruins of communities of up to 100,000 people in the Midwest). Yet there were fewer than half a million Australian aborigines pre Tasman et. al.

-- that would be on the extreme outer edge of estimates. consensus is something like 2-3. The 100,000 figure for those settlements are hotly contested. Generally, the Southeast held the largest fixed settlements, which resembled in some ways those of the more fixed cultures of Mexico. When DeSoto went thru there he encountered large towns, but nothing that would indicate anything even close to 100k. Granted disease had preceded him,but going by the footprint of the towns, something on the order of 10-15k max is likely closer to the truth.


thanks for the update. It's not an area I have researched greatly.

When I was taught school, the consensus was that the Plains Indian was a nomad. Something of surprise to learn that, in fact, he was urbanised and a farmer.

I thought from memory that that city outside of St. Louis was thought to have had 100,000 people at its peak.

Good job everyone lives in the North and Central Australia then :)

That has to be one of the silliest posts I've ever read on TOD. Yes we have water problems, yes we have a government that is (still) in deep denial about climate change, but we are a long, long way from running out of food or water. Last time I looked Australia was the most sparsely populated continent on earth (outside of Antarctica) and a net food exporter. If the water crisis deepens we'll desalinate and recycle (and to hell with the GW consequences) and if we start running out of certain foods we'll import them. This country is fantastically wealthy at the moment on the back of a China-driven resources boom. The idea that Australians (in the absence of some complete global meltdown) would emigrate en masse due to worsening drought is absurd.

I have to echo the comment that Americans ignorance of the outside world is breathtaking. Invade Tasmania indeed! Australia has more arable land than Canada, spread over many more climatic regions. It has almost 10 times as much arable land as the UK.

This might help you visualise how big Australia is:
Yep, same size as the U.S. but only 20 million people.

carbonsink, Byron Bay, Australia (look it up!)

The "Coal: Resources and Future Production," is certainly sobering, with its best case 2025 peak for the world's coal production at 30% above the current level. Even if completely wrong, it casts a bit of light on all that doesn't add up when we talk of coal as the only realistic peak oil mitigation strategy open to us aside from economic collapse.

Australia's the only coal exporter of any consequence - are they going to cover global demand for coal in a post oil peak world? What if Australia decides to adopt coal as its own peak oil mitigation strategy? Australia seems either very fortunate or very short-sighted to have built an economic boom around exporting its only viable post peak oil energy source.

On the other hand, here you have George Monbiot saying in-ground coal gasification could boost coal reserves by 10 to 15 times.: http://www.energybulletin.net/28494.html

That is a jaw-dropping amount of pollution.

It seems today I have to correct a few misaprehensions about Australia. The Country doesn't just have coal as a post peak oil energy source. It has the largest resources in the world of uranium and some of the largest resources of high grade iron ore and bauxite in the world. Also nickel copper,lead and zinc. As well we have significant natural gas resources some of which have been exported as LNG to Asia for the past twenty five years.
This is proven technology and an application has now been before the Californian Government since August last year to allow LNG to be put reconverted to normal gas twenty miles offshore and piped underground to Los Angeles but guess what? Your authorities after all this time can't make up their minds. They may well miss out and it may go else where, but so be it. Google Oceanway Project if you wish to learn more

I have the old troll Dave Mathews posting in my blog. I wish there was a way to banish him, as he is really sick. His latest rant (following my post on Venezuela) asked:

How many Venezuelans and Nigerians would you kill on behalf of big oil, Robert Rapier?

There is a guy who needs serious professional help. I fear that we are going to read about him in the news one day, and it won't be good. (Incidentally, I do know with certainty that it is Dave.)

Not to unduly worry you, but a scary story follows.

Several years ago, a former coworker of mine opened his door, and found his ex-girlfriend at his door. He had not seen her, or communicated with her, for 10 (TEN) years.

Without saying a word, she pulled out a gun and shot him dead. It turned out that she blamed him for everything that had gone wrong with her life.

As people become more and more financially pressed, I expect more people to lash out irrationally and violently. I discussed this with an Oil Patch friend of mine, who drives a large Mercedes sedan. I told him that I would be increasingly wary of conspicuous consumption. He replied that he had a conceal and carry permit, with a gun in the car. I told him that I would be more concerned about someone randomly picking me out as a shooting target because I drove a large expensive car. . .

Unfortunately, majors like ExxonMobil and groups like CERA--promising that we don't have to worry about Peak Oil for decades-- aren't helping matters.

Driving beat-up old pickups was just a part of my master plan for personal security.

Twenty five year old Mercedes diesels (even in mint condition) are not thought of as prime car jacking targets.

Their reputation for acceleration preceeds them :-)

Best Hopes for an image of classy frugality,


PS: A well kept and waxed M-B 240D gets more looks and comments than a $90,000 new M-B.

Alan said,

"PS: A well kept and waxed M-B 240D gets more looks and comments than a $90,000 new M-B."

I knew I was getting a looks at my 240D, but I couldn't figure out whether they were thinking, "Wow, what a great looking old Benz" or "Man, what the helll is he doing trying to keep taht old thing on the road?" :-)

Remember, we are only one cubic mile from freedom

Pre-Katrina, there were 11 old M-Bs in my neighborhood (two gassers) plus a couple of GEMs. Today about six and a friend just bought one on eBay. Extremely common (they once out numbered SUVs !) and most are not well cared for (at least cosmetically). My Mercedes only mechanic is within walking distance.

The Lower Garden District is not SUV friendly (many 28' wide streets with parking on both sides; the interesting streets are the 2 way 28' wide streets with on-street parking :-) It is ideal for the older Benz's, and this neighborhood matches their character.

Mine is easily the best cared for one and that is what gets the looks :-)

Also, today, at least a dozen late model M-Bs and no one notices them.

Best Hopes for W123s


"As people become more and more financially pressed, I expect more people to lash out irrationally and violently."

I tend to agree, however, the opposite could also occur.

In other words, since the root causes of Peak and GW are arguably anthropogenic in nature, the citizenry may in fact enter a state of social despondency on rational and non-violent terms.

Jeffrey, you never told me you were a wealthy oil man. According to Dave over at Jim Kunstler's blog:

Of course, Jeffrey Brown may be a bit out of touch with the vast majority of Americans whose incomes are so small that they could not easily sacrifice 50% in order to live within the dictates of ELP. A wealthy oilman can afford to make that sort of sacrifice but the vast majority of Americans are *already* living on less than 50% of Jeffrey Brown's income.

This is the problem with Dave Mathews. He jumps to conclusions, and in his mind they are facts. (My apologies if he actually has inside knowledge of your income).

Well, I have had enough for one day. Hopefully, I will wake up tomorrow to find that Dave has hitched a ride to Venezuela to help out the impoverished people there - instead of constantly preaching that someone else ought to.

Actually, I bury most of my income in deep holes in the ground.

... and if things seem to be working out, you get to drop steel tubing and then cement down the same holes ... and then if things actually do work you get to listen to the lunatic fringe [e.g. Dave Mathews] and politicians in general advocating windfall profits taxes, nationalization or perhaps even the death penalty in the event that you turn a profit.

Lately I have been reconsidering my strategy and may ulitmately decide to utilze much shallower holes [18 inches?] and much smaller quantities of steel [used coffee cans] on a whole lot less than 40 acre spacing [my backyard!]

Good grief! Not him again...

To be fair, though, even though you yourself would never kill Venezuelans and Nigerians, etc., on behalf of big oil, there are certainly many in the US foreign policy establishment who would. Even our most pacifist president in the past 60 years, Jimmy Carter, announced his willingness to do as much in the form of the "Carter Doctrine," an explicit declaration to assure US access to Middle Eastern oil by military means if necessary.

So while Dave Mathews' passionate moralism may be misdirected in firing away at you personally, it certainly has amply justified grounds given the general state of thinking among US elites. And I would hesitate to say that such misdirection is grounds to conclude that he is in need of serious professional help.

Actually, with the food versus fuel debate and with declining conventional crude oil production, increasingly one can make a direct connection between high US oil consumption and deaths in poorer countries. To be blunt, if you want to talk about current and future energy related deaths, you need to point the finger at US consumers.

But forced energy conservation is relentlessly moving up the food chain.

But forced energy conservation is relentlessly moving up the food chain.

I think most here including myself are reasonably high up on that food chain. I don't think a lot of U.S. consumers need any fingers pointed at them. One poster here that isn't included in that most was asking questions about what to do re PO in consideration of his income of about 1000 dollars a month. The only thing I think I might have said to him was to learn to sail and steal a boat when things get tough.

The pond is shrinking it just shrinks faster in some parts than others. One day there will just be enough Oil for
one last frog to drive fast in his roadster...remember Toad in his roadster?

I just get tired of Americans criticizing energy producers and talking about all kinds of dark conspiracies to increase oil prices--when total US energy consumption per capita is twice what it is in the EU and when the majority of Americans live off the discretionary income of other Americans.

We are coming to the end of the fossil fueled fiesta, so the energy gluttons in the US want to shoot the energy producers.

I have an alternative suggestion for Americans--how about becoming a producer of essential goods and/or services, especially food and/or energy?

What a concept.

To be fair, a lot of Americans are living off the discretionary income of other Americans because they have no choice. The small family farms have been killed by agribusiness, the manufacturing jobs went overseas.

I know a young man who comes from a long line of apple farmers. He wants to be a farmer. His parents are heartbroken. They love farming, but they long ago took regular jobs. They basically farm in their spare time. They want their son to go to college, because they think farming is hopeless.

The small family farms have been killed by agribusiness

My family has had a farm for generations, and I decided to lease the land and I work in IT. I never thought I would be defending agribusiness, but in the case of Canadian cereal/oilseed farming, corporate agriculture isn't the problem with farm economics.

In a global supply/demand market it is impossible for the family farm to set a fair price for a reasonable profit to produce food, when competing with heavily subsidized foreign production. One country subsidizes it's farmers and pushes the commondity price below what is profitable in another country and it's puts the global market in a situation where every government has to subsidize agriculture or it's not financially feasible in their country.

In Saskatchewan, there are 50,000 farms carrying 6.7 billion of debt, the median operator age was 50 in 2001 and most of the farms have at least one secondary income to survive. Ag & Food statistics site.

Our land has been leased for the last 15 years, and the recent years it has started getting difficult to find renters. If you are losing money on every seeded acre, regardless of what you do, you can't make it up in volume.

Corporate grain farming doesn't exist here. There is no profit in it and only the operator that really loves farming is willing to do it by racking up debt and supporting a farm loss with a job somewhere else.

This is true also in Appalachian Southeast Ohio. Every farmer I know either has a second job or has a wife that works full time. They do it bc/ they love it, or out of a sense of obligation to their parents. At best, they break even. Most probably lose money.

Every farmer I know either has a second job or has a wife that works full time

Until recently, the definition of a successful geologist was one who had a spouse with a good job.

However, as someone said, what can't continue, tends not to continue.

I think that the pendulum is swinging back in favor or people who provide essential goods and/or services.

Or let me put it this way, does anyone now wish that they had become a real estate agent or mortgage broker last year?

"Or let me put it this way, does anyone now wish that they had become a real estate agent or mortgage broker last year?"

If your saying not that they already were one, but just became one, your right, they got unlucky on timing. Would I have minded making what they have made over the LAST 20 YEARS?

don't think so.....it's astounding to me that people can enjoy a 20 year boom, and still claim to be broke and have suffered terribly! So a bunch of "flip" artists overspent on speculation in real estate, great scot, folks, it has happened about every decade and a half since the dawn of real estate!!
Right now would be a dream time to get in, at the front of the collapse and the next boom, (remember, you make money on commision whether the buyer/seller win, or lose their azz!

Let um' try being one of those "people who provide essential goods and/or services. for a few years, (and remember, they better be young, that kind of work ain't sitting behind a desk pal.....it's working on concrete floors, crawling around under floors or handling heavy mechanical equipment...the aging boomers are sure not going to be taking it up.....would you be willing to consign your brats raised in the good neighborhoods to do it while their friends went off to college?

yeah right.......

Remember, we are only one cubic mile from freedom

Sorry, I was a bit unfair there, I was using you to bounce an idea.

But with your statement:

I just get tired of Americans criticizing energy producers and talking about all kinds of dark conspiracies to increase oil prices--when total US energy consumption per capita is twice what it is in the EU and when the majority of Americans live off the discretionary income of other Americans.

I would go upstream to those who warm their hands on the statement that the American way of life is not negotiable. There one finds the real dark conspiracies and lack of transparency that lead to those, for the most part, unfair views by the general public about energy producers.

Hello WT,

As usual, you and R-squared are correct in pointing out that ELP is the better strategy than shooting the energy producers. 150 million bicycles and wheelbarrows are better than 150 million rifles.

Even elephant dung beetles are smart enough to implement ELP: they chew off a reasonably small Economic portion of fresh crap, then wheelbarrow off a round ball to their favorite Biosolar Locale, then use it to help Produce plants to feed the next generation of elephants and after processing: the next generation of dung beetles.

Shit just falling from the Heavens Above -- the dung beetles would never consider shooting the elephants into extinction. Their 'Circle of Life' is the elephant's anus.

Meanwhile, the Detritovore Chimps' "Circle of Death" is killing off the FF-elephants as fast as we can by the insertion of infrastructure spiderwebs composed of numerous steel colonoscopes with miles-long MRC horizontals. No wonder the remaining elephantine oilfields can't be found -- I would be hiding deep underground too.

My attempt at humor today. =)

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

And I would hesitate to say that such misdirection is grounds to conclude that he is in need of serious professional help.

My conclusion on Dave's mental state is not just based on this exchange, and I can tell you that it is shared pretty much universally with other TOD staff. That's why Dave is no longer on this board.

I deleted his last 2 rants, in which he can't seem to recognize that I am not personally responsible for the war in Iraq (something I was passionately against getting into) nor that my gripe with Venezuela is not about their oil. Somehow, in Dave's head, I am everything he hates about Big Oil. I am personally responsible - even when he doesn't even have his facts correct. But he admits that he uses gasoline and lots of electricity, but it's not his fault. He has no choice!


I'm going to fan some flames....

He has a point about not being his fault. Strictly from an econ POV, if he voluntarily leaves electricity he is limiting his competetive position to earn incentives. Now the gasoline part is a bit off since we can make a choice to live closer to where we work but to live without electricity within this society is suicide at this point. You can't even gain information to access job listings past a paper, but that was printed with electricity so should he just not look for a job without electricity?

This is why cheating is so rampant. Once one person gets away with it, the other competitors realize their success hinges on their ability to keep up. To do so requires rules to be snapped in half, so as long as we all do it, it's ok. Classic herd only it works the other way like above or say carbon credits. Voluntarily adopting carbon credits while competitors do not will hamper your competitive position because company B doesn't care about pullution therefore their costs are lower. Their ability to sustainably undercut you is increased because company A wants to feel good about themselves.

Don't sweat it. I doubt that you wil ever run into him out on an oil rig. And he's probably not out roaming the moors at night.

You know that it's said that a good 15 year old or better single malt whisky will prevent kidney stones... or at least you won't remember that you had 'em.

Alway appreciate your posts!

He's going to hurt himself before he hurts you.
Check his site. He photographs a lot of auto porn - high performance, custom and antique cars. He's riddled with guilt.

Phil.. come on. You were around when DMatthew1 was posting. He is clearly a very distressed individual. I'm sure your ability to judge personalities is better than that. But that said, I found it odd that you reached all the way back to Carter to find an example of an American elite whose words could be interpreted to suggest that they were 'willing to kill for US oil interests'.. even if your source quote was pretty liberally applied to the idea. Is it because Carter is probably the most UNlikely among the last 5 presidents to be seen in this light? (As in, 'Only Carter could go to hell')

Yeah, if you want to see his mental state uncut and uncensored, just jump over to Jim Kunstler's blog and look at the comments following his most recent entry. I have stopped Dave from posting in my blog, he has been banished from TOD, so he has taken up residence at Jim's blog, with such gems as:

The Oil Drum is probably the most paranoid blog on the internet. It really should get some professional help.

He is smearing me by name, Jeffrey Brown by name, and just generally polluting Jim's blog with his self-righteous blatherings.

So go on, take a look, and tell me this individual is sane. I mean, here is a guy who wrote:

How many Venezuelans and Nigerians would you kill on behalf of big oil, Robert Rapier?

and then turned around on Jim's blog and wrote:

I must wonder: Why does Robert Rapier personally identify himself with the oil corporations?

Somehow he must imagine that I envision him (personally) travelling down to Venezuela or Nigeria with a gun in order to kill these people directly.

That's one messed up dude. Can't get it through his head - even though I have explicitly told him - that I don't give a damn about Venezuela's or Nigeria's oil. I don't want their oil. I would take it off the market tomorrow and let the price climb.

You read through his rants, and you get the impression of someone teetering on the edge of sanity.

Really, guys -- you need to ask yourselves why you're talking about this in a widely-read public forum. On top of that hill called Moral High-Ground, there's a sign that reads, "Ranting is strictly prohibited."

He is a serious head case. RR do you live in a concealed carry state? You might want to consider it. If not for him for some other wierdo who shows up with a chip on his shoulder about oil prices. Unles you think they might drop ;)
A very good quote from whom(?) I have forgotten
"People are not rational but rationalizing"

RR do you live in a concealed carry state?

Come on Delusional… you’ve been here at TOD long enough... you know that Robert now lives in Aberdeen…

... the only thing they conceal & carry in Aberdeen is their hip-flask… :-)

And my guess is that DMathews would have trouble even locating Aberdeen on a map...

... the only thing they conceal & carry in Aberdeen is their hip-flask… :-)


You're incorrect, flask and MONEY BELT. it is SCOTLAND harrump.

Quid Clarius Astris
Ubi Bene ibi patria

the coal story made me think of the chart the Economist loves to trot out, of the steady decline of commodity prices over the last hundred years
the assumption is that global commodity prices will continue the downward trend despite many henny pennys claiming "peak this and peak that" at different times in the past

question: given that all commodities (hard and soft) are energy intensive, how much will the supply/demand intersection shift upwards based on increased prices.

could we plot the commodity price index vs cost per Kwh, or per barrel? does that make sense?


Sorry, but are you refering to the Heinberg coal article?

From Energy Bulletin:

I think this may be quite important and articulates our dismay as to why PO is not taken seriously by critics, MSM and John Q Public.

Sorry if somebody has already spotted this, but even so, a re-post is not a mortal sin...

Big .pdf, get your reading brains in for the night.



Lyle K. Grant (Athabasca University), Behavior and Social Issues
ABSTRACT: Peak oil is the point at which oil production reaches a maximum value and thereafter declines. Because of the dependence of industrialized society on oil, peak oil may be one of the most important, possibly cataclysmic, events in modern history. Averting economic damage due to peak oil is defined as a behavioral problem requiring avoidance responding as a solution. Factors that impede successful avoidance responding are examined. A risk management approach for addressing the problem is advocated.

....Behavioral Aspects of Peak Oil: Basic Contingencies

In behavioral terms, peak oil is an aversive consequence. The Hirsch report’s crash program (or some variant of it) is an avoidance response that will prevent the worst of the aversive consequence from occurring. Meeting the challenge of peak oil is therefore a problem of engaging in successful avoidance responding. Avoidance responding is such that an aversive or undesirable consequence occurs following inaction, or the failure to respond, and the Hirsch report casts the problem of peak oil in these terms.

Peak oil is an especially difficult problem due to (a) the nonrecurring nature of peak oil, (b) the delay of the aversive consequence, (c) the variability in the predicted date of peak oil, (d) the predicted aversiveness of peak oil, and (e) the nature of avoidance responding

Yeah, I get that "avoidance response" quite a bit in talking to people about Peak Oil...

Me too. Keep leaning on the fence - they eventually weaken.
WT has some great quotes to use. The latest about the two types of americans is very good imho.

If I mention Peak oil I only say there may be a recession as a result and to keep the eyes open, I had some luck that way once with a garage mechanic.

End of, life as we know it, is a big jump If you don't travel in the wrong circles.

It is very, very hard to talk to people about this. Most people I talk to have a revulsion to the topic. Some will even say "I live my life with blinders on and like it that way."
In America it seems that we have a problem with "no". It shows in the lavishness we drape ourselves and our children in. Paid for? Most likely not. Someone told me "If you can afford the monthly payment you own it right(?) or at least its the same thing". It's like being in debt up to your eyebrows is a sign of wealth and virtue.
My mother lived through the great depression on a farm (and she would say luckily for her). She would open envelopes while on the phone and use the inside for scratch paper, shopping lists, etc. I think alot of americans would be embarressed by such economy today.

If I mention Peak oil I only say there may be a recession as a result and to keep the eyes open....End of, life as we know it, is a big jump

Keep in mind, getting someone to "believe in peak oil" is very different than getting someone to "believe in your opinions regarding the timing and consequences of peak oil".

It often seems like many people try to do the latter, and then complain they can't do the former. They are not the same thing.

Wal-Mart posts worst sales ever as US retail figures slump

It's been about two years since the US Personal Saving Rate went negative (same time that world crude oil production started declining and same time that oil prices started spiking).

I suspect that a lot of people have maxed out their lines of credit trying to maintain the SUV/suburan way of life.

"I suspect that a lot of people have maxed out their lines of credit trying to maintain the SUV/suburan way of life."

Damm, I knew that $520 bucks a year was gonna' get um! :-(

Remember, we are only one cubic mile from freedom

As several people have noted (myself, Alan Drake, and others) where you originally posted that "$520" assessment, it is unrealistic and ignores multiple other facts.

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

With yesterday's emphasis on China at TOD, when I came across this news story on the wires my eyes narrowed:

"Report: China won't change energy plan"

WASHINGTON, May 10 (UPI) -- China is unlikely to become any less energy-dependent any time soon.

According to a study by the Peterson Institute for International Economics Wednesday, though sweeping change is needed in order to diversify the country's economy from energy-intensive industry, the political will to do so is not there.


At the same time, there is no doubt that China's energy supply system can continue to meet increasing demand, but the problem goes beyond the energy sector as such. Under such circumstances, "energy policy alone will not provide the answers," the authors said.

[emphasis added]

It was that statement about "no doubt" that caught my eye, given all the debate here and at other PO sites.

Checking the PIIE website:

One can find the actual report (PDF) "China Energy, A Guide for the Perplexed"


It is not about Peak Oil per se, though the report does mention that the China has likely peaked. Nevertheless the report compiles copious data and background information on how China got to where it is today and where it is likely going (in the authors' opinion.)

Some interesting conclusions:

1. The main energy challenge for China today is the shifting industrial structure of its economy, not factory inefficiency, new air-conditioners or more automobiles. These issues are systemic in nature and thus only China can effectively correct them.
2. Given conflicting pressures on the country’s leaders, we do not expect China to adequately fix the root causes of its structural over-allocation into energy-intensive industry in the next decade, unless something changes. [...]

Often people will comment about China's car boom as the leading issue, but these authors believe it is the energy intensive manufacturing, and they try to make their case by showing how much steel, cement, aluminum, etc. China is making these days. The world (not just the US) is essentially offloading its heavy industry to China. This ties directly into the coal article on TOD today, as heavy industry is a major consumer of coal.

Another statement in the conclusions, and one which is refreshingly different than what is sometimes heard:

The necessity for the United States to improve the sustainability of its own energy profile may be by far the most powerful lever it has for impelling change elsewhere: The opportunity for a grand bargain in energy and environment exists to give policymakers in both China and the United States political cover for painful choices.

I'd agree with that - the more the US can move towards sustainability the more leverage we will have with China.

Future of oil

Several oil giants have plunked down a collective billion-dollar bet on East Bay refinery upgrades they believe will help consumers, bolster fuel supplies, increase reliability -- and harvest profits.

Although each project differs in scope and details, the upgrades pursue at least two prizes. Some refineries will gain more capabilities to process "heavy" crude oils and crude laced with sulfur. The plants also will become more reliable.

Evidence of the End of Saudi Arabia’s “Swing Producer” Status: Decreasing Medium and Heavy Crude Production from Zuluf, Marjan and Safaniya

Fig 1, sourced from EIA’s Saudi Arabia Country Brief shows Saudi Aramco’s capacity by oil grade. Aramco supplies mostly light crude. The figure shows a total capacity of about 10.8 Mb/d in 2005, even though Aramco's peak production during mid 2005 was less at 9.6 Mb/d. Most refineries are configured to accept the light grades but not medium or heavy.

Fig 1 – Saudi Aramco Capacity by Grade, 2005

The figure below shows Aramco’s current capacity split by field and grade. The total capacity is estimated at 8.8 million barrels/day (Mb/d). The light crudes are mainly from onshore fields and the medium/heavy crudes from offshore fields. Total Ghawar 2007 capacity is 4.3 Mb/d including 0.3 Mb/d from Haradh.

Fig 2 – Saudi Aramco Capacity by Field and Grade, 2007 -Click to enlarge

The last chart shows Saudi Arabia’s total production rate, in the upper third of the figure, and the Saudi medium and heavy spot prices as percentage of the Saudi light spot price, in the lower part of the figure. The vertical shaded columns indicate time periods when the relative price of Saudi medium and heavy oil dropped. It is assumed that these relative price drops occurred because Aramco was supplying more medium/heavy crude oil, primarily from Zuluf, Marjan and Safaniya (ZMS).

In the Mar 2003 Iraq invasion, Aramco produced an extra 1 Mb/d, sourced from ZMS. To take advantage of strong oil prices in 2004Q4/2005Q1, there was a significant draw on medium/heavy ZMS oil as shown by Saudi heavy crude prices trading as low as 80% of Saudi light. The new capacity from Qatif/Abu Safah helped total production to reach a peak of 9.6 Mb/d during the devastating USA 2005 hurricane season.

In 2006Q1, during high oil prices, Aramco failed to continue high total oil production because oil production from ZMS could not be increased as it was in 2005Q4. Consequently, total oil production decreased due to ZMS oil production staying constant and light crude production resuming a natural decline rate. When oil prices dropped in late 2006, Aramco cut ZMS oil production, some of which was voluntary. This is indicated by the Saudi heavy price rising to 95% of Saudi light.

The price differential, between Saudi light and heavy crudes, has shown a strong decreasing trend from Jan 2005 to May 2007. This indicates that there is very little surplus capacity from the ZMS fields, which in turn indicates that Saudi Aramco has decreased surplus capacity.

Fig 3 – Saudi Aramco Price Differences and Production -Click to enlarge


Saudi Arabia’s current capacity is about 8.8 Mb/d and their actual production in Feb 2007 was 8.6 Mb/d (EIA). This means that their current surplus capacity is well under 0.5 Mb/d, due mainly to the reduction of their surplus heavy/medium crude capacity from Zuluf, Marjan and Safaniya. Oil demand will continue to increase and some supply disruptions will probably occur this year. It is unlikely that Saudi Aramco will be able to significantly increase its production to meet the supply demand gap which could easily exceed 2 million barrels/day in late 2007.

How do you conclude that the 2 MMBPD loss in capacity is from heavy when light capacity went from 6.8 MMBOOPD to 4.8 MMBOPD.

Can you say bye bye North Ghawar??

I guess Figure 2 is your estimate???

Haradh I,II, and III have a stated capacity of 900 KBOPD.


It does look more like a shortage of Light.

KSA capacity reduction + increased demand = oil shocks

Who's next in the demand destruction ladder?

Hi PeakTO,

Unfortunately, demand destruction will continue to occur in poor countries

"The Iranian Oil Minister has said the Oil Ministry is prepared to implement a petrol rationing plan scheduled to go into effect May 22."

"Zimbabweans have to cope with persistent food, fuel and foreign currency shortages."

"Scarcity of petrol has hit northern parts of the country, as speculation emerged of an impending fuel price hike by the authorities"

"Uganda: President blames Kenya over fuel shortages in Uganda"

“The government has decided to raise the price of petroleum fuel and electricity”

"An Indian company has cut off oil supplies to landlocked Nepal because it has not been paid millions of dollars, causing widespread fuel shortages across the Himalayan nation, a government spokesman said Thursday."

"TIMIKA, Papua: Gasoline shortages in Timika have resulted in long lines at the city's gas stations since Tuesday."

"The Turkish State Planning Organization predicted that an energy shortage was inevitable in 2008-2009"

By the way, is it just me, or has anyone noticed that if you take out Ghawar, Saudi Arabia is now showing more offshore production than onshore in the remaining catagories?

I think we should see one of those great "Google Earth" spy runs over the offshore region....

I still say, Khurais, empty quarter, offshore....watch um like a hawk! :-)

Remember, we are only one cubic mile from freedom

Hi FF,

I don't conclude that 2 Mb/d capacity loss is all light crude. Figure 2 is an estimate from International Oil Daily and probably is based on Aramco's overoptimistic claims. Fig 2 shows a capacity of 10.8 Mb/d but Aramco only produced 9.6 Mb/d. The true 2005 light crude capacity of Aramco was probably less than 6 Mb/d.

Light crude production has decreased from 2005 to 2007 due to Ghawar's decline as I believe it is well over 50% depleted. My conclusion/hypothesis is that Aramco has lost the ability to significantly increase their total production rates by increasing heavy/medium crude production rates from Zuluf, Marjan and Safaniya.

I can't say bye bye North Ghawar yet but that is why my estimate for total Ghawar capacity is only 4.3 Mb/d.

Fig 2 is my estimate. I wish that Aramco would publish production data by field.

Haradh I & II capacity are included in Ghawar capacity of 4.0 Mb/d. Haradh III is referred to as just "Haradh" in Figs 2 & 3.

just wondering if anyone knows the status and capacity of the permian khuff (gas condensate)? cant the saudis just mix the condensate with heavy to makeup at least part of the light shortfall.

Nice analysis Ace.

Doesn't look good...weren't we expecting KSA to increase production sometime soon?

This should have its own keypost.

Maybe KSA has a secret oil field! I don't expect that significant production increases will occur from any of their dozen fields in Fig 2.

Aramco's recently released 2006 Annual Review gives lots of "above ground" future excuses for their oil production constraints

*underinvestment in oil infrastructure
*mismatch between refinery configurations and crude types
*increased demand for natural gas
*need for well-trained and innovative workforce
*stewardship of natural environment
*many projections for energy supplies from alternative sources may not be realistic, and if decisions about adding conventional energy supplies are made on these projections, the world could face a significant gap between demand and supply
*investments in production and processing capacity and distribution networks have not kept pace
*tighter capacities all along the oil supply chain, resulting in a smaller margin for error and a curtailed ability to make up for supply disruptions and shortfalls
*regulatory and business concerns, and others

KSA will have some new capacity by early 2008 from AFK (0.5 Mb/d) and Shaybah expansion (0.25 Mb/d), but don't count on KSA being able to significantly increase production this year.

I hope you know I was joking.

It really looks like their time as a swing producer is history.

It's going to be a rough demand crunching plateau...hopefully still a couple years before we need to choose - snowboard or skis?

You know, it may not matter that much what the KSA does. Have you ever thought about pig poop? I have. Prof. Yuanhui Zhang, a bio-environmental engineer at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He is converting pig poop into diesel oil. About 3.6 gallons per day, per pig.
Okay, do the math. There are 100 million oinkers in the USA (not counting my ex-wife). That is 360 million gallons a day, or about 8 million barrels. About one-third of our use.
Now, overnight we don't get every pig in America to start using the "Port-A-Oil" potties. Infrastructure etc.
But pigs do what the cellulosic guys just want to do.
Add to this, new combo methane-cattle-corn-ethanol plants. They are very energy positive, and Iowa is talking about adding 1 million cattle to its declining herds to sustain these new plants.
That is why some posters here are wrong when they say it doesn't matter when Peak Oil is. It matters tons. If we can stretch out the day of reckoning, we get extra years to build up alternative infrastructures, and ease the transition past the Peak Demand point.
The good news is that we may be past Peak Demand already. $60 fossil oil may do that. You cannot triple the price of a commodity and expect historical growth rates to persist.
I know good news is hated in this forum. I am not saying there is no peak. I am saying we can transition past the peak, and w/o that much disruption. Look for a pork corndog in your tank by 2013.

What's 100 million swine compared to 300 million citizens? We could easily extract enough adipose tissue by liposuction which would, when combined with all that precious people poop, generate enough energy to fuel Congress in perpetuity.

You do the math. 3.6 gallons times 120,000 btu equals 109,000 food calorie equivalents.


Go away troll.

IMHO, I think that small-scale, low-tech digesters on each farm to convert the manure to methane is the way to go. The technology is already available and proven and not very expensive. It would enable farms to get all the energy they need for things like grain drying, and some of them may be able to generate a small surplus to feed into the NG pipeline grid. Or maybe it would make more sense for a few non-agricultural families to cluster around each farm and get all of their methane for residential heating from the nearby farm.

Cheap = E
Small-scale = L
Turn polluting waste and GHG source into renewable energy to substitute for FF = P

Best of all, everyone could get started doing it right now.

You've never been on an acutal farm have you?

As far as I can tell the IPCC 4th report http://www.ipcc.ch/SPM040507.pdf makes no allowance for peak coal. If all FF's peak by 2030 then total emissions should level out barring feedback effects like methane burps. Assuming oil has already peaked there may come a point where coal use slows due to lack of complementary demand not logistics.

This may put a ceiling on CO2 concentrations so that horror scenarios like 550ppm are unattainable. I'd like the IPCC boffins to re-examine this point.

IPCC doesn't really consider peak oil or peak NG or peak coal at all. The assumption is that GHG emissions from FF combustion have to be forced down by government actions, including carbon taxes and/or cap & trade systems, plus some more draconian regulatory actions. It is clear that energy prices in general and across the board will be increasing substantially over the next several decades at least, and this alone will be sufficient to reduce demand and thus GHG emissions.

The biggest bone I have to pick with the IPCC is the degree of hope they place in carbon capture & storage (CCS). Count me as a sceptic, I just doubt that it is going to prove to be a cost-effective approach. The EROEI for all energy forms will already be declining as we are forced to rely on more marginal and difficult energy sources. Adding the burden of a CCS scheme can only add to the overhead and further drag down EROEI.

The best thing that governments could do is: 1) Be honest and open with their populations about the REAL situation; and 2) provide leadership in facilitating the megaprojects in transportation (urban & intercity electrified passenger rail) and renewable energy that will be needed. The market will force people to make better choices, if the government makes sure that the market actually offers those choices.

If the energy penalty for CCS is 20-40% then coal will be used up even faster to maintain net output. It won't happen.

AFAIK, CCS requires gasification of the coal and then burning in an oxygen atmosphere. This allows natural gas like combined cycle (burn it in a gas turbine (1st cousin of jet engine) first, then use exhaust heat to run steam boiler and turbine. This has 60% efficiency (roughly).

Subtract associated losses (seperating oxygen from air, gasifying coal, compressing and injecting CO2) and optimistic estimates give higher than 30% efficiency associated with coal plants today (but MUCH more labor and capital intensive).

So I wary of CCS "working out" except where there is a market for the CO2 (some old oil fields).

But Best Hopes,


According to the paper by Kharech & Hansen, there is enough FF to reach 580ppm, assuming no CCS. This is at the lower end of IPCC projections of 540-970ppm. I think 580ppm is still considered dangerous, while 970 is nightmare scenario.

I tried raising the topic of PO at realclimate.org, but they stick to the official line that "there is plenty of coal", 5000 Gtc to be precise - over 4 times the figure Kharecha & Hansen have.

I think many of the criticisms of the IPCC are unfounded, but in this case I think IPCC are using highly unlikely estimates of fossil fuel reserves. This does leave them open to the accusation that they are exaggerating the threat of global warming. Now that the science has gone political, I doubt they will back down.

Sadly all these conflicting projections are a good excuse for inaction.

It's hard to blame the IPCC for using a consensus input.

No official bodies recognise 'Peak Oil'.

There's even less support of/evidence for/ consensus on the notion of 'Peak Coal'.

(although Jeff Goodsell is very good on the paucity of real estimates of US coal reserves, I'll confess I don't believe in Peak Coal myself, except in the abstract. I'm reasonably sure there is enough coal out there (counting all the lignite) to more than drown us in our own CO2).

Iraqi Lawmakers Draft Timetable Bill
Thursday, May. 10, 2007 By AP/QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA

(BAGHDAD) — A majority of Iraqi lawmakers endorsed a draft bill calling for a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops and demanding a freeze on the number already in the country, lawmakers said Thursday.

The legislation was being discussed even as U.S. lawmakers were locked in a dispute with the White House over their call to start reducing the size of the U.S. force in the coming months.

The proposed Iraqi legislation, drafted by the parliamentary bloc loyal to anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, was signed by 144 members of the 275-member house, said Nassar al-Rubaie, the leader of the Sadrist bloc.

Hello WT,

When I read this link: I went to check the other US news web outlets expecting very easy confirmation. I thought this info would be easily found frontpage or headlined on Yahoo, Google, NYTimes, ABC, MSNBC, Fox, CBS, AP.org, etc.

Sadly, it was not headlined on any of these sites from 9 to 9:30 pm when I checked-- it could only be found by clicking extra times in webpage links where I suspected the info could be found [usually world newsites or Iraq news-tabs].

Even TIME.com homepage doen't mention this article, you have to click to the Time World news-tab, then carefully read down til fully near the bottom of the page to click on the correct link.

Sadly, I ran across plenty of frontpage news of Cheney promising extended stays and battles for our troops ahead.

IMO, Bush should encourage this 'democratic exercise' of Iraqi draft legislation to move forward. Wasn't this the goal of inserting democracy into Iraq? If Bush cherishes our Declaration of Independence wouldn't he applaud an Iraqi version too?

How come our US MSM, along with Bush, are not trumpeting far and wide to the US public that the Iraqis want us to leave soon? How come the Democrats are not taking up the clarion call too? Why do they want to keep the unwashed masses un-informed?

Or is it all about FFs as most TODers suspect? =(

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

"How come our US MSM, along with Bush, are not trumpeting far and wide to the US public that the Iraqis want us to leave soon? How come the Democrats are not taking up the clarion call too? Why do they want to keep the unwashed masses un-informed?"

Play out the rest of the chase game: Shi'ites ask Americans out. America, who should have never been there anyway, with a declining and breaking will, reluctantly begin to leave. Shi'ites show patience. Sunni's are terrified. They know they are facing a hell beyond any they have known.

Americans now almost completely gone. The Sunni slaughter begins.
Saudi Arabia and other Arab Sunni nations, having sworn to protect the Sunni's begin to pour in money and weapons. Al Quada makes sure the Saudi's get a message. We are brothers, Sunni's despite other differences, will defend Sunni's. The Saudi's, in hopes of keeping the catastraphe out of Saudi Arabia, agree. We will allow Al Quada to be the force on the ground, mobile, fast, and with a huge world following as the murderers of Americans in New York and the Pentagon, he can stop the slaughter, and more importantly keep the Shi'ites and Iranians at bay.

Iran pours money, weapons in from the East, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, pour it in from everywhere else.

It is now a fight for Sunni survival as they face Shi'ite expansion.
America's allies are running scared. Having cut the Iraqi's loose, they know that we do not have the ability or the will to defend them.

Two nations decide the future: Saudi Arabia. Can the regime survive? They are loading the planes to get out before they face complete catastraphe and death.

Qatar: America's hope for supply of natural gas, and the headquarters of CENTCOM, the headquarters for all U.S. Persian Gulf operations. Can it survive? We now must decide. Will we make the WWII type effort, and can we? Our European friends are content to let us suffer. They are working deals to get back into the oil game that the U.S. drove them out of in Iraq.
They owe us big time. The EU will enjoy seeing the Americans destroy themselves, as surely as they once enjoyed the Soviets do the same.

There are under a million native citizens in Qutar. If the Americans will not hold, they are dead. They have been the strongest American ally in the region. They have the third largest reserves of natural gas, the most by far per capita in all the world. Almost no home consumption, but vast reserves.
They are wealthy beyond words, a juicy target.

The refugee problem begins to take off. Everyone who is educated or has been associated with the West will be in danger of slaughter. They must try to get out, it will be their only hope.

Oil prices? Well, let's just say they may be high enough by then to cause most folks to check out conservation. Natural gas markets in Japan, U.S. and southern Asia will be in turmoil. The U.S. will be sitting with half built LNG recieving terminals but no contracts for gas to put in them.

Leaving aside oil, the humanitarian catastrophe will be horrendous. The ecological situation will be a poison pit, and oil and natural gas infrastructure will be destroyed in the crossfire. The vast new real estate developments
in UAE, Dubai and Qatar will be in danger of complete destruction at a cost of billions. Tons of new construction turned to scrap.

And one nation will get the blame. The United States of America. This will have been our baby from the start. As Colin Powell once said in a Public TV discussion, "There are some dark forces there, forces you do not want to release."

They are about to be released. All decent people will pray for Arab and Persian brothers and sisters. Even if they are not big on the power of prayer, they will do it just in the hope that it will help them.
The first post I ever wrote for TOD was over a year ago. It was about Qatar, and the terrible strategic failure that the Iraqi invasion has turned out to be.

Peak Oil? If the Americans simply abandon these people, we will NEVER have to worry about geological peak. The oil will stay under the dunes for decades, perhaps for eternity.

When I think of peak, I am interested, and looking for the fascinating array of solutions and challenges, looking at a new energy paradigm with hope.

When I thing of Iraq, abandoned, with no way to defend itself from the slaughter...I shudder. I cannot come up with a better reaction. This could be horrific. And it was so needless. So sad. And it will follow us home.

Remember we are only one cubic mile from freedom

Before I sign off for the day, one last look at the world of gasoline futures, past 5 days:


"Can you say "unplanned maintainence" boys and girls?"
hee, hee, :-)

Remember, we are only one cubic mile from freedom

I think you've pretty much gotten the gist of the issue (if taken to its conclusion a bit quickly...). That is, if the Shiite's in parliament, emboldened by Reid/Pelosi (memo to folks here - regardless of what you think of Bush, there is a really good reason why the US constitution assigns to one branch the task of carrying out foreign policy), have their collective way the result may lead to a (true) civil war - i.e., the Iraqi parliament will be seen by the Kurds and Sunnis as just a tool of the Shiite majority, their (Sunni) minority interests will not be protected, the Sunnis and Kurds will pull out of parliment, yada yada yada... and so the scenario goes on... and we see oil at $200/bbl.

Everyone said the same thing about Vietnam and 10 years later they were a capitalist country. Granted there were some hairy times but i would argue that these things were a direct result of the west choosing to fight an Indochinese war and of the scale on which we chose to fight it. Pretty unlikely that it would have played out anywhere near as tragically if we (France w/ a great deal of US/OSS input) had just accepted Ho as the obvious leader in '45. Ho, Giap & co. were destined to win from the beginning. IF we've learned anything it's that's best to let these things play out organically.


Hello TODers,

My many thxs to all that responded to my 'imaginative thought exercise' or silly post. It will be interesting to revisit this idea in twenty years to see how Australia has adapted to PO & GW.

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