DrumBeat: May 18, 2007

Inspired by Ancient Amazonians, a Plan to Convert Trash into Environmental Treasure

When Desmond Radlein heard about Richard Branson and Al Gore's Virgin Earth Challenge, a contest in which the first person who can sequester one billion tons of carbon dioxide a year wins $25 million, he got out his pencil and began figuring whether or not his company was up to the task.

Radlein is on the board of directors at Dynamotive Energy Systems, an energy solutions provider based in Vancouver, British Columbia, that is one of several companies pioneering the use of pyrolysis, a process in which biomass is burned at a high temperature in the absence of oxygen. The process yields both a charcoal by-product that can be used as a fertilizer, and bio-oil, which is a mix of oxygenated hydrocarbons that can be used to generate heat or electricity.

Coming Soon: $5 a gallon gasoline

Americans might be able to adjust to $3 a gallon gasoline without major changes in their life styles. But what happens if it hits $4 a gallon here? Or $5?

Remember the movie “Three Days of the Condor”? At the end, the CIA official muses that if Americans start running out of gasoline, they won’t ask where we get it or how.

Australia: Climate threat in military's sights

The Australian Defence Force has identified climate change as a national security threat for the first time, as it predicted the military would become more involved in stabilising failing states than fighting conventional wars.

Saboteurs have upper hand in an endless war, says Iraq's Oil Minister

"It is as bad as it has ever been," says Dr Shahristani in an interview with The Independent. "If we can protect the pipeline we can add half a million barrels to our exports immediately."

Venezuela oil export revenues fall sharply in first quarter, central bank says

Venezuela's revenues from crude exports by the state oil company fell 10 percent in the first three months of this year amid lower prices, OPEC-mandated production cuts and reports of falling production at the South American country.

Smart card - Ahmadinejad's answer to petrol consumption

Now, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his administration aims to put end to the dilemma by rationing petrol with the so-called 'smart card' initiative scheduled to begin on May 21.

The plan of reducing lavish consumption of petrol is basically supported by most Iranians, but Ahmadinejad seems to have gotten cold feet about the plan's social and economic consequences.

More people leaving power lines and going "off the grid"

A growing number of Americans are shunning power lines, choosing to live "off the grid," without commercial power — and still enjoying their computers and large-screen televisions.

Changing energy paradigm

More than 1,000 consumers were asked, 'If utilities buying renewable power on your behalf raised your rates 5 percent for the same amount of power and the entire cost was attributable to the higher price of renewables, would you be willing to pay an extra 5 percent?' More than half of respondents, with a margin of error of about 3.5 percent, said they would be willing to pay the increase.

Weekly Offshore Rig Review: Leading Indicator - Jackups

Over the course of the last two weeks, we have been examining the relationship between contract lengths and day rates. While we initially expected to see day rates decreasing as contract lengths increased (a "volume discount"), we found a markedly different pattern. We've seen that for competitive jackups over the last three years, day rates were actually higher for longer contracts than for shorter ones. Among competitive floating rigs, a similar trend was also found with day rates increasing as contract lengths increased. However, for floating rig contracts longer than three years, day rates went back down.

Study: U.S. Near Tipping Point in Corn-Based Ethanol

The study, conducted by the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development at Iowa State University (ISU), finds that U.S. retail food prices already have increased $14 billion annually. They could climb $20 billion annually if crude oil prices reach $65 to $70 per barrel and U.S. corn prices reach $4.42 per bushel, compared to $2 per bushel in mid-August 2006. At that crude oil price range, U.S. ethanol production could reach 30 billion gallons by 2012, consuming more than half of U.S. corn, wheat and coarse grains, and triggering higher meat and poultry prices for consumers, reduced meat and poultry production, and significant reductions in grain and meat exports.

How to do nothing about global warming

Confronted with soaring gasoline prices, a Congress growing more restless by the day about oil dependency and a Supreme Court demanding executive action on global-warming emissions, President George W. Bush stepped before the cameras in the Rose Garden the other day and said, essentially, nothing.

A cracking trade

THIS week average petrol (gasoline) prices in America reached a new record of $3.10 a gallon, according to the Department of Energy. Drivers are up in arms and politicians are getting twitchy. Congress is even considering legislation against price-gouging. The culprit is not the oil price, which has hovered above $60 a barrel for months, well below last year's record of $78. Instead the squeeze comes from a shortage of refining capacity. The difference between the price of the crude oil refineries buy, and that of the petrol they sell, has risen above $30 per barrel—a record for this time of year. Refining, long a marginal business, is becoming lucrative.

Crude Oil Rises to a Three-Week High on U.S. Refinery Shutdowns

Crude oil rose to a three-week high in New York on speculation breakdowns and production halts mean refiners will have trouble replenishing U.S. gasoline stockpiles with the summer driving season approaching.

Delaware: Time is running out, yet legislators avoid highway fund shortage

A 4-cent per gallon tax on lightered crude oil could produce $100 million. That's money worth talking about and a cost that oil companies can easily afford.

Embracing a World of Peak Oil

With major oil companies posting multibillion-dollar profits, our friends in Washington are suddenly pointing their fingers and insisting these companies are "gouging" the innocent gas-guzzling citizens of our country.

But, dear readers, let me show you a little picture I keep in my wallet.

We got over the feeling of being gouged at $2.27 a gallon. Don't worry, we'll get over the same feeling at $3.15.

Canada: Lingering gas pains

A new study released the other day seems to confirm what Niagara drivers already know: they're getting gouged at the gas pumps.

Bangladesh says must up power output or face blackouts

Bangladesh could face nationwide blackouts within four years if it fails to find more natural gas to fuel new power plants, a government official said on Friday.

Frequent power failures due to a daily power shortfall of nearly 1,500 megawatts (MW) cut the country's gross domestic product by around $1.0 billion annually, the World Bank says, and gas reserves are running down quickly as demand multiplies.

Who Is Stealing Iraq's Oil?

It took quite a while, but it appears that the Bush Administration has finally gotten around to acknowledging that Iraq has an oil problem. The Government Accountability Office is about to release a report that estimates 100,000 to 300,000 barrels of oil goes missing every month. According to the New York Times, the GAO will not offer a conclusion about what specifically is happening to the missing oil, other than it is probably lost to corruption, smuggling or just bad accounting.

Iraqis oil traders, on the other hand, tell me they think they know exactly where the stolen oil is going — the militias appropriate it to arm and feed the rank and file. The same traders also tell me there's a lot more pilfered oil than the GAO acknowledges, and that the practice started as soon as Saddam fell. And why would anyone be surprised? Saddam's regime itself survived off stolen oil during the 12-year U.N. embargo.

Our big secret: oil shale reserves

The United States of America has about 70 percent of the world's known oil shale reserves in the western states of the lower 48. These reserves contain approximately 1 to 2 trillion barrels of oil. This is about 4 to 8 times the current oil reserves of Saudi Arabia. If this country commits itself to performing a crash development of this reserve, we could eliminate our dependence on foreign petroleum sources and most of its geopolitical consequences. As world petroleum supplies become depleted in the next few decades, we may find that the United States will have become the world’s most important supplier of synthetic crude petroleum and its products.

Senegal facing energy crisis

A wave of power cuts in Senegal could reach "unprecedented" levels as the West African state has a maximum of eight days of fuel left to run its power plants, energy sector sources said on Thursday.

Zimbabwe: Will Privatisation End Power Woes?

AFRICA is battling a serious power crisis on her doorsteps, whose impact is now more pronounced in the Sub-Saharan region, where Zimbabwe now risks plunging into total darkness if nothing is done to improve her power-generation capacity.

EU offers to help develop Jordan's nuclear energy programme

The European Union (EU) this week said it would help the Kingdom develop its nuclear energy programme by providing the necessary expertise for the formation of a legal framework, including the principles of energy crisis management.

Visclosky bill aims to reduce foreign oil dependence

Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Ind., introduced legislation Thursday to reduce dependence on foreign oil by investing in new U.S. energy technologies, including ethanol.

Forestry leaders debate biomass potential as nation's newest energy source

Biomass energy derived from trees could be the short-term answer to the energy crisis for most of America, particularly in regions like East Texas. And then again, it might not.

Drivers cut back — a 1st in 26 years

The growth in miles driven has leveled off dramatically in the past 18 months after 25 years of steady climbs despite the addition of more than 1 million drivers to the nation's streets and highways since 2005. Miles driven in February declined 1.9% from February 2006 before rebounding slightly for a 0.3% year-over-year gain in March, data from the Federal Highway Administration show. That's in sharp contrast to the average annual growth rate of 2.7% recorded from 1980 through 2005.

Orinoco Seizure by Hugo Chavez Threatens Global Oil Stability

By seizing control of the Orinoco tar sands, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez delivered a stunning blow to US oil security. If the world economy worked in the way postulated by the globalizers his action would hardly have mattered, except to the unfortunate shareholders of the affected oil companies. However, the world economy doesn’t work that way, and Chavez’s seizure is thus of major long-term importance.

Fed-up drivers begin to look 'outside the box'

From forming car pools and riding bicycles to taking trains and cutting back on pleasure trips, drivers across the USA are finding creative ways to drive less. Their methods vary but share a common goal — to lessen the financial impact of skyrocketing gasoline prices.

Can America's masses get charged on electric cars?

While others hammer away at battery technology to make all-electric cars go further and cost less, ZAP (as in zero air pollution) believes it has the formula in its tiny Xebra cars made in China: Plug it in at home and go up to 40 miles per hour for up to 25 miles.

Carolyn Baker - Unprepared, Uncompensated, and Clueless: Prophets Have Become Historians

I do not claim to be an expert on collapse, but I am quite certain that the custodians of empire are. They have engineered collapse over several decades, and will be essentially unscathed by it—if they can control the resultant chaos. I don’t wish to speculate about what form that control will take, but I don’t need to. They are making it abundantly clear that while they are unwilling to do anything to prevent climate chaos, the devastating consequences of Peak Oil, and economic Armageddon, they are formulating elaborate plans to control and contain an unruly and traumatized population.

The Peak Oil crisis will not just impact on transport but also on agriculture in a massive way!

Some of the responses received are to be blunt - short-sighted. Suggestions of switching to public transport, driving less, driving hybrid/electric or more fuel-efficient cars, switching freight from diesel lorries to electric railways are of course positive suggestions but only address one issue - vehicular movement; such measures are akin to moving the deckchairs on a sinking ship.

Belarus-Russia gas transit deal delayed

A deal for Russia to acquire a stake in the Belarus pipeline network which carries Russian gas to Europe will not be signed on Friday as planned owing to continuing disagreements, officials said.

Screening of Cuban films sets off firestorm

The Princeton Public Library has inadvertently set off a firestorm of criticism involving Cuba, health care and human rights.

According to some critics, two of the 15 films shown during the library's annual Human Rights Film Festival last weekend are "propaganda" and do not accurately reflect life in Cuba.

"I think it's outrageous to have a film festival at a public library that leaves out all the realities of Cuba, especially when you have thousands of witnesses to the human rights violations," said Maria C. Werlau, executive director of Cuba Archive, an organization that collects information about the country.

Ms. Werlau and Princeton Township resident Fausta Wertz raised issue with the documentaries "The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil" and "Salud! What Puts Cuba on the Map in the Quest for Global Health Care."

Green building expo highlights fossil fuel

EVER wonder how much fossil fuel your garden consumes? Probably not, but in this day of rising energy costs there's talk about whether truly "sustainable" landscaping can be achieved without oil-based products.

It's a provocative idea that landscape architect Owen Dell, an expert on sustainable landscapes, will discuss at Saturday's fourth annual Alternative Building Materials & Design Expo (Altbuild), at Barker Hangar at Santa Monica Air Center. He is founder of Fossil-Free Landscaping in Santa Barbara, thought to be the first working garden group to explore author and oil expert Richard Heinberg's notion that "if you can't do it without fossil fuel, by definition, it ain't sustainable."

Program to Feature Energy Problems in the Arkansas

On June 18-19, the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute will present "All About Energy," a public awareness program focusing on issues related to energy usage and its impact in Arkansas. This program will provide you with valuable information and a plan of action that will make a difference in your life, and allow you to become part of the solution.

Dow says Aramco JV IPO stock to be listed in Saudi

Dow Chemical said on Friday it and state-owned Aramco plan to list on the Saudi exchange shares they sell in an initial public offering in a chemical joint venture.

"It'll be Saudi Arabia," Earl Shipp, president of Dow in India, the Middle East and Africa, told Reuters on the sidelines of an economic conference in Jordan.

Sabic to Buy GE Plastics for $11 Billion

Saudi Basic, known as Sabic, has doubled sales since 2002 because of the Riyadh, Saudi Arabia-based company's unparalleled access to the world's biggest reserves of oil, used as a raw material for plastics and petrochemicals. GE, by contrast, put its plastics unit up for sale in January after the soaring cost of crude cut into earnings. The U.S. company may plow proceeds into less volatile areas such as health care.

Deep-sea oil platforms may aid sea life: study

Deep-water oil and natural gas platforms may become be as beneficial as a federal study has shown shipwrecks to be in creating habitats for undersea plants and animals, the U.S. Minerals Management Service said on Thursday.

Senegal begins the slide down the slippery slope to the Olduvai gorge..........


May 17, 2007 at 10:03 AM EDT

DAKAR — A wave of power cuts in Senegal could reach "unprecedented" levels as the West African state has a maximum of eight days of fuel left to run its power plants, energy sector sources said on Thursday.

Power shortages across the poor country of 11 million people have steadily increased in recent years due to rising consumption, high fuel prices and a cash crunch at the state-run electricity company, Senelec.

.........some stuff deleted........

"There is only enough fuel to cover eight days of consumption in the country," a senior energy sector executive, who asked not to be identified, told Reuters.

"We have crossed the red line. If an urgent measure is not taken in the coming hours, Senegal will face unprecedented power cuts."

There was a comment posted yesterday, I think by Tech Guy, about CNBC reporting that some gasoline barges had been diverted from the Northeast US to the South, to head off a possible emergency shortage of gasoline in the south.

As I have repeatedly stated, IMO, what we have seen worldwide in the past two years or so is progressive demand destruction, with forced energy conservation gradually moving up the food chain.

We are conditioned to think that all supply shortfalls are temporary, because historically a shortfall in total oil supply caused a price increase, which caused a falloff in demand and an increase in supply, resulting in a price decline. However, what we saw in Texas and the Lower 48 was declining oil production following a 1,000% increase in oil prices from 1970 to 1980.

The world is now, based on our HL models, where the Lower 48 was at in 1972, on the downslope of the Hubbert's peak. So, what we are going to see, in regard to conventional oil production, is a steady decline in production.

As I have repeatedly stated, it is way past time to begin "Thinking outside the box." While it may not be the "solution," (because there really isn't a solution--all we can do is to try to avoid the worst case scenarios), at least Alan Drake is advocating a credible plan, using technology that we more or less perfected over 100 years ago.

As I have repeatedly stated, it is way past time to begin "Thinking outside the box." While it may not be the "solution," (because there really isn't a solution...,

I'm feeling the same way. There are no solutions in my mind. After reading the recent posts by GuilderGlider, Francois Cellier, and Stuart Staniford, along with the bevvy of media articles lately proclaiming collapse (see today's DrumBeat for examples), I'm less and less convinced in the depths of my heart that preparation does any good.

The current events of late have induced me into much soul-searching, and my perspective on life has changed drastically. I used to think that the ultimate goal in my life was furthering my genetic line by raising healthy successful children to continue the line (instinctive, no?). So far, so good (with two young boys), but I'm feeling more and more that so much of their future (knowing how to help them prepare for it) is out of my hands. It's heartbreaking.

Sometimes I'll stop and watch them, doing their thing, and I get choked up thinking about the wretched mess they're going to experience. I have a hard time not resenting the fortunate lives my parents have known. But we can't choose our window of existence, so I've resolved to experience the joys of my life as fully as I can with the hope that I'll be grateful for each day no matter what it brings.

I have no idea what skills my kids are going to need to succeed in the future. One skill I am working to teach them is the ability to face life with a sense of awe and a sense of humor. Regardless of the events, these skills should come in handy.

Tom A-B

Just not funny anymore is it?

'No more glad, confident morning'.

Well said - I experience the same feelings. On the other hand, I think that the collapse of our society will be the major theme of the rest of our lives, and our children’s lives too. It's the lot we drew, and we may as well accept it. I figure that while very bad things may be happening, there will still be time for joy in the things that matter - like your family. Our children will eventually have to make their own way in life, with whatever befalls them. And we should not loose sight of the fact that the things that bring real happiness are not necessarily the things we grew up with – there can be happiness without oil and excessive energy consumption.

I think that for those of us lucky enough to live a long time, when we look back we will be both surprised at how fast some things changed, and amazed at the resilience of other parts.

Perhaps the most important preparation is to remain mentally agile, be alert and ready to make changes as called for. Essentially, embrace the coming changes, and don’t cling to obsolete thought processes. I have a long way to go in this regard, but I’ve been trying hard for the last couple of years (my wife too), and I am regularly surprised at how many ways I’ve been able to reorient my thinking. Casting off old interests that have become irrelevant, and moving farther from the habits/conventions/beliefs generally accepted by our consumption oriented society has become a source of enjoyment. It’s a challenge of re-inventing myself, while still being me.

I reckon Senegal has reached Peak-Oil these days, in terms of 'cost of petroleum'.

They already take 10 hrs a day in the dark - where will this go if the scenario turns of the worst way ?

Looting next -civil unrest ?

This is probably a historic moment in Senegal; when the lights go out forever.

Many people fail to realize that much of the undeveloped world gets its electricity from diesel generators. India and China have some coal and natural gas from which they generate most of their electricity but most of the rest of the third world nations do not.

And even in places like Bangladesh which generates most of its electricity from natural gas are facing blackouts because their tiny pockets of gas are petering out.

All over Africa, Asia and even Central and South America you will see diesel generators generating electricity. And these are the poorest nations in the world.

Blackouts are now the rule rather than the exception in most of these nations. And rising prics greatly exacerbate the problem.

Not just Senegal but all over the world people are beginning to gaze into the gaping chasm of Olduvai Gorge. And everyday it gets a little worse. If the world becomes aware of peak oil later this year, and I expect it just might, oil prices will go through the roof. What will happen then when the poorest nations on earth are almost totally without electricity while richer nations still bask in the glow of coal and nuclear generated power?

Ron Patterson

The way it's playing out in parts of Africa is sobering. Due to electricity outages, everyone ran out and bought generators. Which caused shortages of kerosene, diesel, and gasoline. Which caused shortages of jet fuel (which is similar to kerosene). Cascading shortages.

I know someone who is married to a diplomat assigned to a country in Africa. They were living on a the top floor of a six floor apartment building, but the constant electricity outages made it difficult to carry a baby stroller and baby up and down six floors on the stairs.

So, they moved into a private compound area, where every house had a standby generator. So, for those with the money, you can (for now) have electricity 24 hours per day.

A glimpse of our future, as forced energy conservation moves up the food chain?

Hello WT,

I emailed selected African countries some time ago asking them to go to full Peakoil Outreach and biosolar conversion--of course no replies.

If they had merely looked ahead [instead of practising denial], they could have easily built rideable spiderwebs, bicycles and wheelbarrows, solar heated community baths and washing facilities, humanure recycling, and other mitigative infrastructure in sufficient quantities to avert much of what is happening now. Such is life.

I hope North America gets its act together soon, or Zimbabwe's decline will be seen as mild compared to what will happen here. Building a strategic reserve of bicycles and wheelbarrows would be very cheap insurance, and would last much longer than our SPR.


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

They do grow oilseeds, and could ramp up their production to produce enough to at least keep their generators running. This could at least be a transitional strategy to buy them some time to invest in some wind generators and other renwables.

Or they could just do nothing, let their grid go dead, and fall totally apart. Up to them, really.

One would think that solar would make more sense for generating electricity before you even start to think about diesel generators...

I wonder whether Jatropha would make sense for Africa. The per-capita consumption is relatively small.

You two stop these idiotic advises, please.

At current prices solar costs $0.50/kwth even in the first world where with its competitive market and access to almost unlimited capital. Wind costs upwards of $0.10/kwth and both require huge initial investments and a running backup generation. Where is the Senegali government going to get the money to meet the upfront costs for all of these? The reason they are running diesel generators is simple - lower capital costs trump higher running costs. Senagal and the third world in general are the last places where renewables would work.

This is why I suggested that they use the oilseeds that they are already growing anyway. Rig up a press with a donkey, and you can produce enough veg oil to run a diesel generator, and enough to fuel the truck to get it into town. People were pressing oilseeds into oil thousands of years ago, it is quite low tech.

While it is quite low tech, are you aware of processing rates?

Cost and availability
The cost of the ram press varies depending on model size and country. The two most common, mid-sized models range in price from US $105 to US $280. They can process an average of 8-12 kg of sunflower seed or 4-7 kg of sesame seed per hour. ATI estimates that the average oil yield per 50 kg bag of seed is 8-12 litres from sunflower or 16-19 litres from sesame.

Ref: Rural Oilseed Processing in Africa

Further, the same source states that there are less than 3500 total such manual presses in ALL of Africa.

Also, this reference states that you can get 825 pounds of sesame seeds per acre with modern agricultural practices including fertilizers, irrigation, and pest control. That same source says that sesame crops are not "poor soil" crops and need excellent quality soils. The lower end of modern agricultural production is around 400 pounds per acre. I would guess that Senegal can produce no more than that and probably far less. Let's guess 220 pounds or an even 100 kg.

Given this it would mean that an acre of land could produce 32-38 liters of sesame oil. Senegal has 2,460,000 hectares of arable land. At 2.47105381 acreas per hectare, this converts to 6,078,792 acres of land. So, if we convert ALL of Senegal's arable land to sesame seed conversion and convert all of that to oil, we get 607,879,200 liters of oil.

Now just one of Senegal's power stations uses 20 each of the Cummins KTA50G3 16 cylinder diesel generating sets. So how much fuel does ONE of these engines use? This document tells us to expect a 330 liter per hour fuel consumption under load. Now remember that this single generating station has 20 of these engines in place. Under load they would consume 330*20=6600 liters per hour.

Knowing this, how many hours can we run this single generating station per year (assuming we don't plant any crops to eat of course)? That's 607,878,200 / 6600 = 921 hours per year. Since there are 365*24=8760 hours in a year, we can run this SINGLE generating plant for 2.5 hours per day and this assumes we plant NOTHING else except sesame seeds.

Your suggestion, sir, is balderdash. As the kids say, "get real" because you certainly are way out there in fantasy land.

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

I was never suggesting that locally-produced oilseed biodiesel was going to be the solution to all of Senegals problems, or that it could provide 100% of their electricity needs 24/7/365. What I was suggesting is that it could be a transitional strategy to allow at least a FEW generators to run to provide some minimal level of electricity to the highest priority needs (e.g., hospitals, communications infrastructure, etc.)

Apparently I was wrong. I am sure that their country will be much better off with no electricity at all, given that this suggestion is short of a 100% solution.

My god, man, read the numbers! It's not even a 10% solution if we use ALL the arable land! If we reduce the arable land to a more reasonable value, say 20% of total arable, then we have 48 minutes of generating capacity per day for ONE power station, nevermind all the rest of Senegal's power stations. In other words, the use of vegetable oils is so tiny that it does not matter for the vast majority of Senegal's citizens. (And this does not even go into the fact that most oilseed's are processed for food in Africa to provide the necessary basic fats for fat-deficient diets.)

I also never suggested that they would be better off without electricty. What I said was your suggestion was lunacy of the most ignorant, uninformed sort and it is. Senegal needs help and it needs more damned help than a few sesame seed presses can give it. If the rest of the word gave a damn we'd be building solar power plants in Senegal (and other poor nations) like those that have recently been built in California.

However, the silence on that front is deafening. Mitigation? Don't make me laugh.

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


Thank you for injecting some reality-based numbers and reasoning.

Yes, you can can run our world (in limited sub-sets) on generators or diesel or batteries, but, a failure to understand the scale of the challenge we face is one of our biggest problems.


Not every problem has a solution...

....and not every solution has a problem.


Thank you for educating me (us) on some facts WRT to volumes of oil required to run diesel generators to produce electricity. I was not fully aware of these facts, now I am.

It should be obvious from these facts that the quantities of oil of any type required to run these generators make them a very poor choice for electricity generation under any circumstances.

I am still convinced that local small-scale production of oilseeds for biodiesel has useful applications in specific circumstances, and is worth futher study and development. It is evident that electricity generation is not one of these applications.

Isn't mathematics wonderful! Too bad so few people take time to use it (including myself on occasion).

If we could just figure out a way to harvest the oil from the faces of teenagers as illustrated in Kentucky Fried Movie. ;) Internal Combustion Engines are so incredibly inefficient, they're not worth bothering with. The only game in town, in my opinion, is solar. I don't care if it's intermittant or not. Tell me why I need to run my applicances at NIGHT in a post-collapse world?

So your food doesn't thaw.

You'll have food?

Greyzone says

That's 607,878,200 / 6600 = 921 hours per year.

sorry, Greyzone, but it's actually 92103 hours per year. Of course, tis is still an impossibly low number.

James Gervais
Hope was the last ill to escape Pandora's box.

I apologise, this was in fact a very good idea. Unfortunately these countries are already so overcrowded that the food vs fuel issue will probably make it impossible. Generally I don't see them getting along without any sort of effective assistance from the West.

Maybe the most mutually beneficial trade would be to trade our food surpluses in exchange of them producing biodiesel... and probably we should assist them in building several coal or biomass power plants. If this does not happen, just leaving them to break down in total chaos will play a nasty trick to ourselves in the longer term IMO.

Build the 44 GW Grand Inga project and related HV DC lines (I saw a presentation @ HydroVision conference). With new 7 GW in Angola and other hydro & geothermal, Africa could run off of mainly renewable non-GHG electricity (at current consumption rates + some modest growth).

Best Hopes for renewable sustainable power,


Thank you, Alan, for a voice of sanity here. Oilseed for power? Absurd!!

Hydropower is another option in Africa and one we should be assisting with, precisely to get them OFF of petroleum as we hit peak and decline begins.

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

The grand Inga at 44GW installed capasity should definitely materialize - absolutely.

But Norway has 35 GW installed hydro-capasity, and here are only 4,5 million people, and we want more .......

Africa is at 800 million pluss - and very large and distributed. Regardless Inga must be commenced - it will yield 2,5 times the three Gorges dams.

All this just to put Inga in its correct shelf. Btw Inga is the last really big possible hydro-station on this planet

>All this just to put Inga in its correct shelf. Btw Inga is the last really big possible hydro-station on this planet

I can't say I am familar with the region or the project. So I ask, how many people and ariable land would be lost when this dam fills up?

IIRC farmers in China are still using land on the Yangzi riverbecause it the most fertile land. Crop yields are expected to be considerably lower when the land is submerged (by the three-gorges dam) and farmers are forced to farm elsewhere.

FWIW: I think Africa should focus on food and potable water instead of electricity. People can always get by without electricity. They can't survive without food and water. Food and Water seems to be much more of a urgent problem than electricity. I find it ironic that serious discussions over africa lossing a luxary when the continent faces very serious water and food shortages. Its like worry about a minor rares while ignoring the lifethreating gunshot wound.

I dont think they can make a large reservoir - and it is in the middle of the jungle - so to speak.

Normal (minimum) flow is 42.000 cubic meters/s, and at max it is the double of that in the rainy season ... and this "extra" I guess they will just let overflow ... Im not sure though.

I think handling 42.000 cubic meters/s - and at a drop of 100 meter - should be enough to try to handle ....- this makes it a high pressure dam.

In comparsion the Amazonriver gulp out a staggering 270.000 cubic meters/s - Congo is second largest ....

Finally the Nile only discharges a mere 5.000 cubic meters/s

It is my understanding that the Congo River falls off a plateau there and goes into the river delta it created. Think Niagara Falls (in 20,000 years when erosion turns the falls into rapids).

There is/was an active portage industry around the rapids and a few villages on the river banks immediately above the rapids, but it is not dense.

The drainage basin is split almost evenly above and below the equator and has two rainy seasons making a remarkably even flow, with two seasonal peaks.

This is a major source of power with a significant impact on GHG emissions on a global scale. Africa will not do without power entirely, they will burn something to get it !

Specifically, South Africa is looking at Inga II (4 GW) as an alternative to more coal.

Electricity is not "just a luxury". Irrigation pumps and potable water pumps & treatment consume a decent percent of power today. Remember that Africa has a number of mega-cities, and cities function poorly without minimal electricity.

Best Hopes,


I am on some DIY energy lists. Lists and sites that talk about making your own Windturbines out of a car wheel spindle, Bearings, Disk Brake rotor. And a few magnets. Like


This is a great one on making your own windturbine. Take a look at what's going on out in the fields.

Many of these lists (Microhydro, wind, solar etc ) are doing some great small scale (1-2 households) power.

A large percentage are from 3rd world countries in Africa, South America, Asia. These people are doing some great things with just a few components.

If we survive at all, Big IF , I suspect we will have to learn another thing from Cuba. Not the food thing, but the ability to keep a fixed number of 1955-57 Chevy's running for 50 years? Those guys could repair ANYTHING on the car. That survival cleverness will be required. I see Solar collectors made out of Aluminium Flashing, and every other thing to solar heat and cool. Everything will be scrapped and reused.

Here's a question. What is the world going to do the the billions of 3000 pound metal objects no longer provide a service?

Like having a steamlocomotive in your front yard without track. Just sitting like a flower planter.

What are we going to do with the cars?

I bet they will be stripped, For example there's tons of little motors for raising windows, now one may drive my tracker for my solar hot water collector...

Technology taken apart and reused in new functions.

But, still billions will die of course. We're in overshoot.

"Rig up a press with a donkey, and you can produce enough veg oil to run a diesel generator, and enough to fuel the truck to get it into town."

Or use it in oil lamps and ride the donkey to town. This is where we are going folks. The journey from here to there is ugly and most of us will not survive, but that is where we are going.

I back your argument LevinK

I challange anyone in position to do the energy-account on an EROEI basis for PV - to do this right away.

I guess the final answer would be shocking in PVs disfavor. They are prone to depletion during 2 decades - and huge substitution programmes have to be sceduled costing unknown $$$$.
In the future they have to make the PVs from the PV-energy itself !! Would this be possible in the real world ?

Or anyone who know of any such accounting done ? (link?)

I've seen EROEI's In the 6:1 to 30:1 ratio.


Jeff's now a 'voice' here on TOD, so perhaps you can ask him to contribute.

I challange anyone in position to do the energy-account on an EROEI basis for PV - to do this right away.

How ab out this version of a 'challenge':

We'd like an energy source that can be renewed over many generations of man. Land mass conservation is a given as governments tax you on land and the conversion of land -> money to pay taxes is an issue to address. Work/effort to process the cfaptured energy matters in the calculation. At present the time to create the energy source has little value- all the 'value' is in the release of the energy. If one wishes to do a 'true' energy analysis, the time to get a material to a state to be reacted to obtain work should have value also.

The Sun, expressed as photons is an energy source which can be called 'renewable' over many generations of humans.
The capture and use of a photon in the most direct way is better than steps of indirection.

If the shortest path of photons to 'work' is capturing the photon and using it...PV panels are a winner. So are things like evacuated glass tubes for capturing heat.

The 'analysis' all depends on what you consider important and how you opt to make the calculations.

An accounting of photons to plant matter:

In the future they have to make the PVs from the PV-energy itself !! Would this be possible in the real world ?
The solar plant that BP now owns that was in one of the Eastern states used to talk about how they covered the company with the 'reject' PV cells and was a 'solar breeder reactor' or some such self-hype'n video.

thanks eric blair - I will look into your submitted links -

BUT (right away) I'am doubtfull that the full EROEI/energy picture is painted for PVs as of 2007.
Im thinking of the full mining operation, blastings, drilling, cruching and so forth just for the silicon based rock - transport, excavation, .... it all "done" with electric power in the future.

Not to speak of the processing energy-expenditures in the PV plant itself, and .... so forth ....

I posted this (or a closely related) link last week.
http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy04osti/35489.pdf (PDF.. not huge) NREL has a few published studies that back this up.

PV recovers its embedded energy, down to the aluminum framing, in as little as 12-18 months. Panels regularly are sold with warranties of 20 and 25 years, and owners have reported degradations of less than 20% in that amount of time. Depending on the rebates if any, and the utility rates, people can justify the entire installations in anywhere from 6 to 20 years, leaving them FREE electricity from that point on.. they may have to replace batteries and inverters more frequently than panels, but it at least DOES repay its investment in well-under its lifespan.


It's a good, steady and sturdy source of electricity. Merely a BB, not a silver bullet, but it's a good BB.

Bob Fiske


Well if this claim hold water - there is NO ENERGY CRISIS EVER FOR THIS PLANET ........ because silicon-rock is not the problem !

They have to start yesterday - Install ONE REALY BIG PV-farm - nearby some silicon sources and go ahead ......

Start to zillion-rouple these things .. and spread the message. Tanzania is using 1/350-part of energy as compared the pr capita of my own country - and they shower in sunshine !
I dont understand why somebody just tell them to go ahead -

By the way - How do they turn the the silicon-mountain into fine and purified dust (?) by electic power all by itself.

Just because we're accustomed to diesel-powered earth-moving equipment doesn't mean that electrically powered earth-moving equipment can't be used. These things don't move far from home-base, so you just run them in shifts like a forklift. I worked in a warehouse once upon a time, we had an electric forklift, and we never had a problem with it running all day, you just plugged it in at night. Obviously if you're doing it with solar, you'd have two machines, one that charges one day, and then the other the next.

Actually, hopefully you'd just have two (or three) battery packs. It's like an RC car, just on a bigger scale.


Underground coal mining can, and is, done with 100% electricity today. And the transportation from the pit can be electrified as well.

Hard rock mining, unlike underground coal, may very well require explosives, but these are often nitrate based and Iceland had an ammonia fertilizer factory that operated off of air, water and electricity.

We are still over a lifetime away from 100% renewable production. I would be quite happy with 95& - 98% in the near future. Solar PV looks "good". Wind turbines look even "better" to me and hydroelectric better still.

Best Hopes,


I'm inclined to like hydroelectric except where and how it does decimate fish migrations for spawning. Electricity is a wonderfully useful luxury, but if in the process we push valuable fish species (providing human sustenance and earthly wonder) to extinction, what's the point of a having a light in such a hell.

There are no more suitable spots on this planet for grand scale hydro-power. Most are already in use -

Use Google earth and browse the planet and you see what I mean.

Afterall I have my info from some serious sources, it is commonly accepted that big-hydro is maxed out, apart from grand Inga and maybe a few other places .... today they scramble small-scale hy-power for all it is worth ... think again.

As fossil fuels dwindle - panic will grow - the" law of the jungl"e will come to a street corner near you ...

AlanfromBigEasy......supplied from PV's made 100% from PV's ....?

all the best


Having completely run out of new books to read (fiction, at least), I've been re-reading some of my favorite writers.

Edward Abbey in "The Monkeywrench Gang" goes into quite elaborate detail (Honestly, today, he would be prosecuted as a terrorist and sent to Guantanamo. Our country's (USA), values, and 'national dialogue are so F&%$cked up) about neutralizing big-time coal operations that are both HUGE and FULLY ELECTRIC.

Yes, I do recall some diesel fuel trucks coming in at off-hours to fill a few things up, but the big machines and the rail links were ALL ELECTRIC!

Im not questioning the ability to make huge electic machinery - that they do and is easy( in todays petro and coalplant/smelting industry)

My question on PVs goes "long into the future" so to speak -

Will they be able to run smelters to make those big machines .... fuel them from PVs ...... AND finally maintain the full loop of an PV-economy so to speak ... I guess that account is not yet done - and keep in mind PVs are depleted in 20-25 years of operation.

All energy production deplet someting -

- Mass/volumes are burnt (gas(soline), coal,wood ... or the scattering of Nukes)
- PVs are penetrated by photons which kicks away electrons over time .... and thus degrading them (making holes - such that the current reduces)
-Hydro/Generators/windturbunes - are "depleted" by mechanical friction and degraded this way ...

energy is a tricky game - and it is much more limited than previousely thougth - at least seen from my part of town

"In the future they have to make the PVs from the PV-energy itself !!"

Isn't that kind a like charging your batteries by using a solar panel under fluorescent lights.

No, not unless it's a huge, free fluorescent light that turns on for about half the day, every day.

This isn't like the wind-turbine that runs a fan that blows on the wind turbine.

Paar's 'depletion' argument is missing a bunch of the devilish details.. such as the idea that a Silicon Solar Cell depletes as the photons 'punch' holes in the material every time an electron is moved. The way PV deteriorates is from oxidation of the optically clear sealing layer above the silicon, making it lose its transparency, and allowing oxygen and moisture in to corrode the electrical junctions between individual cells. PV mfrs are already setting up PV recycling, and so this material will live far longer than it's first panels' lifespans.

The suggestion that PV panels are 'depleted' in 25 years is again off the mark. Some of the panels first created are still producing after 50 years. The falloff may 'start' to be signifigant (20-40%) after 25 or 30 years, but others have had panels still producing up to 90% of original spec after 30 yrs. Very Few power sources could hope to make such a claim.

I wonder whether Jatropha would make sense for Africa. The per-capita consumption is relatively small.

Some studies show that it may be possible to de-desertifiy via the planting of Jatropha. A long to benefit - but you 'd have to get humans willing to engage in such a behavior.

"What will happen then when the poorest nations on earth are almost totally without electricity while richer nations still bask in the glow of coal and nuclear generated power?"

That's an easy one. They will experience famine and starvation(and probably a pandemic) until their population drops below the level sustainable by a region with no fossil fuel imput. Normally this transition would be quick and they would come out on the other side with those still living enjoying a more sustainable way of life. Unfortunately, Western Nations trying to help will provide aid, turning a quick die-off into a never ending hell, as we have done throughout the world for decades. It will only be when there is no one in a position to provide aid, that nature will finally be able to take her course.

Senegal begins the slide down the slippery slope to the Olduvai gorge..........

According to Richard Duncan's definitions, Senegal never left the Olduvai gorge. Their per capita energy usage is well below the threshold of qualifying as an industrial society, as defined by Duncan.

From your article:

Like many African countries, Senegal has suffered long-term underinvestment and neglect of its power infrastructure, hampering its economic development despite one of the region's most stable democracies since independence from France in 1960.

The problems of Africa stem more from bad governance, and the inability to create a viable economy, than anything else. Oil prices have been low for most of the period since 1960, so the failure of most African countries to even qualify as "industrial society" (according to Duncan's definition) is most probably not due to recent high oil prices.

How can you tell a person making $2 a day to invest? Are you crazy or just heartless?

The problems of Africa stem more from bad governance, and the inability to create a viable economy, than anything else.

I'd be cautious about that. Senegal, Africa, like Nigeria. The World Bank, "terms of trade" a.k.a. technology, transfer entropy from the periphery to feed the core. What if the problem is that Africa has been unable to stand up to industrial world? That would be both a "Guns, Germs and Steel" and a thermodynamics of economy argument. It's fashionable for rich white (neo)liberals to blame poor coloreds for their incompetance. That it seems to work out that way over and over strikes me as just an updated version of "white man's burden" and blaming the victim. What's the solution? Usually something like the proposed Iraqi oil laws. lip service to lifting the poor out of poverty, and forced acceptance of increased resource extraction.

cfm in Gray, ME

Good show Dryki,

If there is anything in Africa that survives Global Warming and if we are reduced to beggars unable to raise the energy to steal them blind and generally interfere with their affairs maybe they will be eventually pull it together again. As for our governments 'aid' it is a wonder anyone is still alive there that hasn't been strangled to death by the strings we attach to it.

And then along came AIDS

Here is Stephan Lewis's foundation link:


And Wiki link about Lewis:


Take a hankerchief if you go to listen to this guy speak about Africa.

Diary of a economic hitman, World Bank. IMF very interesting effects.

This one is good on the replenisment of the core.

The Material Basis of Accumulation
By Stan Goff


The Globalizer Who Came In From the Cold

As I pointed out a few days ago there is a conundrum here. We see reports of energy problems in Africa, and the assumption is constantly made that demand destruction must be happening there.

And yet as the World Bank recently reported GDP growth in Africa was the best in 20 years in 2006.


Is this not unexpected? If things were so bad in Africa surely growth should now be in trouble? Granted Africa will be doing well off the back of the commodity boom (simple extractative industries) but is this the only reason behind the 5.5% growth? Or are we reading too much into particular stories?

When I lived in Zambia in the early 70s shortages of various staples (sometimes petrol) were a fact of life and were generally down to failures in the supply chain rather than in the actual product disappearing.

Read the article, Andy. It's a few nations driving the growth and much of it is because of oil in places like Nigeria. In fact, the predicted growth from 5% to 7% is supposed to come from oil. The rest of Africa has so little "economy" that there's not much to measure against it but there are still hundreds of millions living in poverty.

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

I am sorry Greyzone but that simply won't do.

The article states that net oil importers had growth of 5.2% (sure lower than exporters but not by that much), and notes countries such as Ghana and Sierra Leone with rates of 6.1% and 7.4% (both non oil). One of the source documents makes it very plain that the non-oil exporters have been growing at some of the best rates in recent years:


You might also note that countries such as Zimbabwe 'artificially' pull net growth rates down for non-oil producing Africa.

As I said above the boom in non oil commodities must be helping but I still find it very odd that some of the end is nigh articles about Africa are being held up as biblical, when there is verifiable evidence out there that African growth rates are by recent standards relatively good.

Sorry this isn't as tidy as a WTO whitewash but here is stuff on a two minute run at google that I am sure you will consider unverifiable.

They came in dribs and drabs from the refugee camps in Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia and the Sudan to make a new life for themselves in the land Down Under.

According to the Global IDP Project, over half of the world's internally displaced persons (IDPs), are Africans. With 13 million IDPs, Africa produces more internal displacement that the rest of the world combined.
The U.S. Committee for Refugees estimates that there are more than 3 million African refugees, out of 13 million refugees worldwide.

Darfur: Growing Violence
With more than 2 million people driven from their homes, Darfur has been described as one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. Despite the

At the end of 2000, Asia hosted the largest refugee population (45%), followed by Africa (30%), Europe (19%), North America (5%), and the Caribbean (0.3%).

Africa is finished.

It went 'biblical' twenty odd years ago.

I was based in Egypt about the time that pop stars were singing 'do they know its christmas?'

No they fucking didnt then. And they dont fucking know it now

Down by the southern border, you could see it. Smell it.

Africa's destiny is to get worse. First. Then other countries and continents later.

Look at Africa and see your future.

Look at Africa and see your future.

Ah, the fundamental doomer equation:

Developed Western nation - Oil = Undeveloped African country

Does everyone here believe the world is really that simple?


Answer to first blue blob:

As I understand it a 2 degree centigrade world temp rise will result in a temperature increase that will be no longer effected by any remedial actions on our part, Africa is and will experience climate change first and worst . Doom is probably more in your/our hands than in Africa...don't need equations, we don't even need a gypsy palm reader. It is simpler than that, just need eyes in the head.

2nd blue blob:

No it's a bit more complex than that and you should be red faced to set up such pathetic straw men. Sail and European/British exploitation started it. Coal and oil merely sped it up. Current global corporatism is is finishing it off. Sorry to be so simplistic here but life and time are short.

It is overcast here and rainy and all, so thanks for something stupid to take it out on, something simple.

BTW Bob is one of my favorite names, my best cousins name and also I have a friend named Robert Roberts which translates to Bob Bob. German family changed their name during the war, I have no idea why they would change it to Roberts with son called Robert, but then nothing is simple is it?

My understanding is that Africa is doing about half economically of what it did 30 years ago. I wonder if the time window matters? Commodities - the price of coffee is so depressed by the big four coffee cartel - that farmers are ripping up coffee to grow kat (sp) for local consumption.

cfm in Gray, ME

Is "kat" a local phrase for marijuana? When I was in Africa, Kenya to be specific a number of years ago, I not only noticed it growing in small backyard lots, but smelled it being smoked too. If I was stuck in Africa perhaps being stoned all the time might be the way to go.

Everything about Qat/khat/kat


Google Is Great,

Not Marijuana, but the same


mispost, sorry

Qat is a wonderful Scrabble word, but it sounds more like cocaine than weed in its effects. Now the US has given it an economic boost by classifying it as a narcotic it will probably make it to my neighborhood soon, and yours too!

Adam Smith's invisible hand is finally starting to make the sound of one hand clapping. Just not the best one maybe.


Some numbers on Africa, from "Global Banquet", shown tonight at local library, average personal income:

  • 1960-1980 +34%
  • 1980-2000 -15%

cfm in Gray, ME

Some numbers on Africa, from "Global Banquet", shown tonight at local library, average personal income:

* 1960-1980 +34%
* 1980-2000 -15%

"Global Blanket" says that Africa is a victim of globalization, i.e. it's resources have been plundered by the West. Therefore, they are agreeing with my assertion that other factors, apart from lack of oil, are the reason for their impoverished state.


What is this obsession of yours about oil? Anyway I look through the pipeline and conclude that it isn't their lack of oil but our surplus of oil that has done Africa in.

BTW don't worry you have company, there are plenty here who seem to be very obsessed by oil, damned if I know what they will do when it's gone...probably invent it? BTW what do you think of bio-diesel?

***Please do not reply to this comment so I may continue to edit it ***

If you have any links/suggestions/problems, please use the separate comment I have posted below this one.

Text in italics means: "Expected some time around this date".

Last updated: May 18th 8.40am

Oil Diary - June 2007
Fri 1Start of Atlantic Hurricane Season
GoM Tropical Cyclone Heat Potential, SSTs etc.
National Hurricane Center
EIA International Energy Outlook 2007
Sat 2 
Sun 3 
Mon 4 
Tue 5EIA International Petroleum Monthly (World Production etc)
Wed 6EIA Weekly Petroleum Status Report 10.30 EST
Thu 7U.S. Federal Reserve Flow of Funds Q1 2007
(All you need to know re U.S. financial position, household wealth etc)
Fri 8U.S. International Trade in Goods and Services, April 2007
(Exhibit 3 of this release gives data on crude imports by country)
Sat 9 
Sun 10 
Mon 11 
Tue 12IEA Oil Market Report (public summary)
EIA Short-Term Energy Outlook
Wed 13EIA Weekly Petroleum Status Report 10.30 EST
Thu 14OPEC Monthly Oil Market Report - June 2007
BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2007
Fri 15 
Sat 16 
Sun 17 
Mon 18 
Tue 19MEES OPEC crude oil production estimates
Wed 20EIA Weekly Petroleum Status Report 10.30 EST
Contract expiry July 2007 Nymex WTI Crude
Thu 21Pemex (Mexico) May Petroleum Stats
Fri 22 
Sat 23 
Sun 24 
Mon 25 
Tue 26 
Wed 27EIA Weekly Petroleum Status Report 10.30 EST
Thu 28UK Energy Trends (Quarterly)
Fri 29Contract expiry July 2007 Nymex RBOB Gasoline
Sat 30 

***Please do not reply to this comment so I may continue to edit it ***

Deleted. Sorry, I did not realize you already had a link to OPEC's own Oil Market Reportt.


Ron Patterson

And this, perhaps, is a good reason to put it in a blog or under your bio instead. People aren't going to be able to resist replying.

It would also be easier to reference later, if it had a constant URL, instead of a random spot in a random DrumBeat.

Okay Leanan, thanks.

This is something I just compile for myself and I thought it would be helpful if others could use it.

Lesson learned :(

It is useful. Perhaps you could post it monthly to a DrumBeat, as well as in the "bio" section of your profile here? You could keep the one in your profile updated, even if people reply to the one in the DrumBeat.

People could also bookmark your profile to keep tabs on the latest version, or just click on your user name when they read one of your comments.

Now posted to my bio. Thanks for the tip.

Nice work.

Bookmarked. :-)

How does one post things to their "bio"? I can't see a way to do it. :oO




My Account -> Edit -> Personal Information

I might suggest using Google Calendar for this. You would create a specific calendar (viewable by everybody) and then post the URL in your bio (or in your signature--or if useful enough, the editors could put a link on the side margin).

Thanks JB, that sounds like a more sensible option. I'll look into it over the weekend, and if it's not too much hassle I'll give it a try.

Apologies for messing up the DrumBeat guys.

How dare you mess up the Drumbeat by posting relevent information! ^_^

How dare you spend your personal time to accumulate this important calendar data? ^_^

Where did you find the audacity to share it, with the whole world for free? (Even CERA can read it here!) ^_^

Thank you!

Occasionally, when reading TOD I really wish there was a companion wikki, a place to post those interesting bits of information in a more searchable format.

***Please do not reply to this comment so I may continue to edit it ***

My sincere apologies I read your quote to say pleas do reply. Dumbass me. Please post the whole thing again and I promise to keep my damn mouth shut this time.

I thought you wanted new URLs to post and I was trying to help.

Sorry again,

Ron Patterson

No problem, Ron.

I've never even looked at the 'Bio' option before. I'll try posting it there later.


Science has an article today called When the Oil Supply Runs Out. Anyone have a subscription, and can give us a summary of what it says?

2005 article by same author:

ExxonMobil Sounds Silent Peak Oil Alarm
Source: Bulletin of Atomic Scientists
[May 29, 2005]

What all this means is that the petroleum industry is approaching a turning point. Conventional petroleum production will soon--perhaps in five years, ten at best--no longer be able to satisfy demand. For their part, American consumers would do well to take a cue from their Western European counterparts, who enjoy a comfortable lifestyle despite a per capita use of petroleum that is half of that in the United States. The sooner the United States begins this transition away from oil, the easier it will be. That's a far more attractive option than trying to squeeze oil from stone.

 Alfred J. Cavallo is an energy consultant based in Princeton, New Jersey. His article "Oil: Illusion of Plenty," appeared in the January/February 2004 Bulletin.

I believe the ExxonMobil report he is talking about is this one. Can anyone find where it actually says what Cavallo claims? Exxon setting a near-future date would be kind of a big deal, no?

Its not an article, just a letter to the editor criticising a previous Science article (also linked on Drumbeat) that was predicting a peak somewhere beyond 2020 and that there was no big problem.

The letter writer is a US energy consultant and says there's a big problem coming down the line - probably by 2010.

Thanks. Nice to know someone over there has a clue.

It also says:

ExxonMobil has concluded that non-OPEC production will peak by 2010. On the basis of this forecast, ExxonMobil has publicly stated that it will build no new refineries, presumably because the crude supplies needed may not be available from OPEC producers. The high and rapidly fluctuating U.S. gasoline prices currently being experienced are due in large part to a shortage of domestic refinery capacity, so that we are in fact already feeling the effects of an imminent non-OPEC peak.

This comment is for replies to the 'Oil Diary' table I put upthread.

I thought it might be useful to have a list of upcoming events/data releases etc, and if you find it useful I'll post one up each month (if you don't think it's appropriate to be posted on Drumbeat, just say so).

Please let me know if you have any suggestions to add. Primarily the links are to data releases, but it needn't be restricted to that.

I'm still trying to find a source for regularly updated official Russian oil stats. This probably comes under the control of Minpromenergo (Russian Ministry of Industry and Energy). They have an English version of their site, but it doesn't seem to bear much relation to the Russian version. Can anyone who can read Russian check out the site and see if there's a stats page for oil production, exports etc?

Thanks everyone.

I find this very convenient - and think it definitely belongs here - at the drumbeat


He could use his 'bio' section of TOD to store the table also. I've taken to putting interesting data in mine.

I agree...it is very cool.

A great contribution to the site!

Could your "TOD Calendar" be placed in the right column of the site, just above "Peak Oil Primers"??

The first sub-head (orange) could state the upcoming month (e.g., June in May), followed by the current month, followed by "archive"...

Uhh Houston....

185 Million Barrels of Gasoline is Minimum Operating Level US Congressional Report

Figure 2 shows U.S. gasoline inventories during the past two years. The horizontal line across the bottom of the figure shows the “lower operational inventory,” which the Department of Energy (DOE) places at 185 million barrels, the equivalent of about 20 days of nominal supply. That is the level at which sporadic physical shortages begin to appear around the nation. The 185 million barrel figure can be thought of as the “fill” needed to keep the distribution system in normal operation; it cannot be drawn upon to meet a demand increment at the pump. There is virtually no extra supply to act as a price cushion, and price spikes, spot shortages, and localized “run-outs” are a likely possibility.

Certainly puts 'days of forward supply' in a different perspective and helps explain the pipeline bidding war.

WT told us yesterday that Simmons talked about the possibility of rationing in the US this summer.

Standby Gasoline Rationing Plan ,with all its problems, has got to be better than spike and short, no?

Based on the foregoing 185 mb number, let's assume that the non-West Coast Minimum Operating Level (MOL) is 160 mb (gasoline). Right now, non-West Coast inventories are at about 167 mb, which would give the non-West Coast area probably less than one day's supply above MOL.

A reminder: total inventories nationwide, relative to consumption, are at about 21 Days of Supply. In the early Nineties, the industry used to routinely keep 25 to 30 Days of Supply on hand.

There looks to be a bit of flex in the MOL but it sure get's the buyers going.

The West Coast 3 Week Price Flucuation as a Response to a 27 Million Barrel MOL.
26,329 two weeks ago 27,444 last week, and a 'comfortable' 28,622 this week with a price drop of a penny for California.

But for the Mid west an MOL price spike.
The 2000 tightness gives us their MOL

46887 for May of 2000 (described as at the MOL in thousand barrels). So far this May their average is 46522

CaliSoca comments on Mid West Supply Pipeline Price Frenzy*

Grp III pipeline gasoline is trading at $2.88/G FOB Tulsa, assuming you can even find a seller, and going higher.

Note from Platts* The Williams Pipeline runs from Tulsa north through the Midcontinent terminating in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Some interesting info on the Williams Pipeline here:
I am assuming that the lat/long listed under "Stack Level" are the physical location of the storage tanks at the Mankato MN location.
I'd be interested to know what all the numbers mean on these pages? Anyone know?

Are we really sure that 185 mbbl is the figure for gasoline, not for all refined products?

I broke down and read the linked report. It does say 185 mbbl of gasoline.

So the eastern US is basically at "the bottom of the barrel".

So the eastern US is basically at "the bottom of the barrel".

Yeah, but not to worry American Consumer Confidence Rises this Month

You couldn't make this stuff up :)

Anyone care to wager if, or when, we will see mandated gasoline rationing measures this summer, such as no gasoline sales on Sundays (remember that from the Seventies)? Matt Simmons puts the chances of rationing at two out of three--90% if we have hurricane damage.

The only thing is that the rationing scheme presently on the books is such a convoluted bureaucratic mess to administer that they are not likely to start it up just for a few weeks. We will need to be facing something more long term. You and I and everyone else on TOD know that this IS a long term crisis, but TPTB in the FedGov don't necessarilly know that.

My guess is that they are looking for a supply disruption of >20% for >3 months at a minimum before they even consider starting up rationing. Absent some more refineries or the KSA royal family being taken out, I'm not sure we are past that point yet.

The only thing is that the rationing scheme presently on the books is such a convoluted bureaucratic mess to administer that they are not likely to start it up just for a few weeks.

Sure. One of the reasons the rationing plan won't get off the ground quickly is that it will barely be thought about until well after there have been several problems already. Katrina-like. What a mess! The only thing that'll be worse is letting the market prevail while there are real shortages.

Gawd that light rail is going to look GOOD!

I've seen the present raise it or we'll drain it activity. That will cause huge local spikes ala October 2005.

OK The Plan.Started to read it. 1/10th ration for mopeds...
Furnace repair is not a 'ultility'... definitions of what a 'person' is. Yeah it'll be cumbersome.

Rations after argriculture to be based on number vehicle registrations with some kind of restriction for that 'person' who has 3. Basically each state will get an allotment after the federal keeps a reserve. Agriculture will take theirs first.....fascinating read. Ugh.

As Samuel L. Jackson said. 'Hang on to your butts'.

Start a pool like a football pool. I'm putting $5 on August 15, 2007.

Did you see the post in the original link section, re the smart cards in Iran?

If they had two ounces of brain they could do this in the US with existing credit cards and a few strokes on a keyboard.

A sliding price structure. First 20 gal per mo $4, the next 20 $5 and so on to $10 or so. You want to pay cash it's 10/gal. Legitimate commercial fuel cards exempted.

This is much better then elaborate rationing schemes that everyone games as usual.

I posted a note on Robert's thread about a conversation I just had with my son-in law. They are about to head out driving from Dallas to Oregon, for an internship program.

I told them that, IMO, they were "unlikely to see empty gas stations on the way out," but I wasn't so sure about coming back in six weeks or so. I then went to go run some errands and fill up the car. First station in North Dallas I went to was totally empty. Out of gas.

Well, that would put a damper on your Memorial Day vacation.

Why does Dallas have so much trouble with gasoline supplies? You would think being in Texas they'd have an edge.

I think that the 185 mb estimate for MOL is probably more or less right.

Relative to four weeks ago, non-West Coast gasoline inventories are down, with a very sharp drop in (non-West Coast) Days of Supply numbers. I think that we will an increasing number of spot shortages around the country, outside the West Coast.

Any problem--gasoline pipeline out, more refinery problems, hurricanes, etc.--and we are probably going to see some regions with no gasoline.


Is it possible that the export land model could work in a country just as easily as on a regional / global basis?

It is pretty logical and almost self evident that as a producer nation consumes more product then less is available for export with time.

What about the USA?
This is not the same as the ELM, but a facet that emerges could be inter-state rivalry:

California (example) is a rich 'country within a country'. Outbidding (say) North Dakota or Tennesee would easy.

Without rationing on a Federal Level, States could out bid each other. Or even lock off pipelines. So, for example, Texas would hold enough to keep going...

Just a thought...

We came close a couple of winters ago: Dutch, German and others were very reluctant to feed the Brits with Gas as the cold weather pushed Britain within seven days of outages...

Is it possible that the export land model could work in a country just as easily as on a regional/global basis?

I think so. I've commented on it a few times. Look at the booming economy in Midland, Texas versus (I assume) a slow economy in Midland, Michigan.

But I think the key question for the US will be regarding natural gas production. If local consumers, close to natural gas production, will match any price paid by anyone else, there may not be a whole lot left to "export" outside producing areas. This appears to be what happened to the UK. Here in the states, I would expect the federal government to step in, but it's an interesting question.

It's one of the reasons that I am thinking of staying in the vicinity of the Barnett Shale play (very long life natural gas reserves), perhaps in Fort Worth--pretty cool up and coming town, with a super safe downtown, courtesy of a private police force, provided by the Bass family.

Some comments on crude oil inventories:

OECD Commercial Crude Oil Stocks, Days of Supply (Actual and Projected):

US crude oil inventories are okay, relative to recent years (but not relative to what the industry had prior to the SPR), but OECD stocks are different–not a promising trend.

I was just commenting to several friends here in Midland that every business in town has help wanted signs out. Some of the 7-11 stores have started closing for a shift or two because of no available staff. I think the unemployment rate is under 2%. Service at restaurants is dismal due to quanity and quality of the help, they cannot compete with the oil biddness wages. Beware of banking on the Barnett shale play, looks like the bloom is officially off the rose. Like the Austin Chalk or Lodgepole it is a typical resource play meaning maybe 15-20% of the wells drilled will actually make money. I grew up in Ft. Worth and agree downtown is a gem.

Mose in Midland

Without rationing on a Federal Level, States could out bid each other. Or even lock off pipelines. So, for example, Texas would hold enough to keep going...

Those are two different things. States can outbid each other. That's the Commerce Clause. Here in Maine, the dams on our rivers are owned by out of state corporations. The line companies have just completed interconnects - "to increase reliability" they say. So now they can ship much more power out of state where before it was stuck locally. It's only a matter of time before Connecticut is outbidding Maine for Maine power while Maine fish get chewed up because the dam owners say ladders are too expensive. [Who profits and who pays.]

Locking off pipelines is the other side of the coin. In theory, made illegal by the Commerce Clause. The legality, however, won't stand up to social illegitimacy forever [who profits, who pays, who freezes in the dark], and the eco-terraist and earth marines will want to cut the grid in such a circumstance. The Governors no longer have control of their state Guards under the last revisions to the Insurrection Act; can't imagine why, eh?

cfm in Gray, ME

''The Governors no longer have control of their state Guards under the last revisions to the Insurrection Act; can't imagine why, eh?''

Ha Ha.

Some one has thought this scenario through already.

And he wears an old glory lapel badge...

Best hopes for a Federal System and no dissolution of the Union by 2020.

We will have the same issues here in a 'Unified Europe':

''When poverty knocks ont' door, love flies owt t' winow''

What a paradox. Driving less and burning more fuel than ever before. Only in America. John

Here in the UK unleaded petrol has hit it's highest price since August last year. The BBC are putting it down to increased crude prices and unexpected high demand in the US Summer driving season.

I don't think that will wash. Crude is still cheaper than it was last August and the US summer driving season, as far as I understand it, doesn't start in earnest until after Memorial day (May 28th this year).

What I think is happening is the US demand for imported Petrol to make up for their shortfalls is driving the global price up but I'm not sure how to test that theory. Can anyone here with far more experience than I comment?

The thing that really struck me was that for the first time in six years Unleaded Petrol and Diesel fuel are the same cost in the UK. At some places unleaded has even overtaken Diesel. the 2001 situation was only a spike, I can't remember a time since I started driving 10 years ago that diesel wasn't more expensive than petrol.

What I think is happening is the US demand for imported Petrol to make up for their shortfalls is driving the global price up but I'm not sure how to test that theory. Can anyone here with far more experience than I comment?

That's exactly what is happening. That giant sucking sound you hear are exporters rushing tankers to the U.S. to take advantage of these prices. This drives prices up everywhere, but it may ultimately mitigate for now the inventory problem in the U.S. - at everyone's expense. However, I still say that we hit Memorial Day with record low inventories.

Re: That giant sucking sound you hear are exporters rushing tankers to the U.S. to take advantage of these prices

Yes, I've been making the same assumption. Robert, do you happen to know where those tankers are coming from? (and any links, if you have them)



I have asked Doug MacIntyre, author of This Week in Petroleum at the EIA, if he would address exports in an upcoming essay. I know that exports that hit the West Coast tend to come from SE Asia, primarily from South Korea. In Europe - Belgium, Italy, France, and Germany are major exporters to the U.S. But the biggest exporter by far is the U.K., which explains why prices are being driven up here. I just looked it up (the data is available at the EIA, but you have to dig) and the U.K. is supplying almost 30% of our gasoline imports. Here is a link to finished gasoline imports, but you can also dig and find blending component imports.


Maybe that's why there's a tanker shortage in Asia.

That's exactly what is happening. That giant sucking sound you hear are exporters rushing tankers to the U.S. to take advantage of these prices. This drives prices up everywhere, but it may ultimately mitigate for now the inventory problem in the U.S. - at everyone's expense.

Fortunately, everyone in the world loves us so much they will understand and be willing to sacrifice a little while we indulge ourselves a bit more...

Fortunately, everyone in the world loves us so much they will understand and be willing to sacrifice a little while we indulge ourselves a bit more...

Especially as we recieve from a conservation oriented high taxation environment to guzzle away in tax-lite land.

We probably have not seen the "honey, let's keep the car filled up" response that will appear at the first sign of (temporary) shortages. This should be a significant spike in weekly gasoline consumption.

Funny - I said just this to my wife today. She will ignore it like everything else peak oil related.

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

I had a thought about yesterdays spike in crude prices. The supposed reason was refinery issues, ie maintenance, etc. If refineries were having trouble getting light sweet crude and were only getting heavy and could not produce enough gasoline, they would certainly not state that openly. But then they would have to come up with a reason for the shortage of gasoline, so maintenance. Does this sound like a reasonable hypothesis? Is there a way to prove or disprove it?

Thanks in advance.

As someone predicted, all three of the top three net oil exporters in the world showed a decline in net oil exports (annual average) from 2005 to 2006--despite the highest nominal crude oil prices in history. On a month to month basis, the aggregate decline in net exports by the top three is well over 10%.

IMO, we are seeing a bidding war for both declining crude oil and petroleum product exports.

While there is panic over low gasoline inventories, Bonny Nigeria light crude is being brought back online and a survey of published major oil discoveries in May include:

PetroChina Bohai Bay 3.5 BBO, upgraded from initial report of at least 1 BBO, and after first upgrade to 2.2 BBO.
ONGC company discovery in the Persian Gulf Iran 1.0 BBO + natural gas.
Saudi discovery south of Ghawar Mabruk field discovery well at about 5,000 bod + natural gas.
Indonesia Tulip field discovery well at about 5,000 bod.

The world used 31 billion barrels of oil per year.

shawnott, crude oil futures and spot markets are baffling and have little to do with reality. My best guess is that a lot more people buy crude in these contracts than actually understand the markets. Refineries in the US are working at maximum capacity, and they do have maintainence and breakdowns. This should cause an excess of supply of crude, and, according to market theory, a drop in prices of crude.
Instead, crude prices are rising, and spike more each time a refinery is shut down. Its probably only explicable as a psycological phenomenon.
There are some problems with supply of light sweet crude. Chevron and Shell have shut in their Nigerian production due to civil unrest, and Saudi production at Ghawar appears to be crashing.
As far as your hypothesis, the refiners of about 60% of the US gasoline supply are independents-Valero, Tesoro, Citgo ect..Why is it in their interest to cover up shortages of light, sweet crude? As Robert Rapier has explained a number of times, there is a change over period every spring when refiners change equipment to make more gasoline. And this period (spring) is when they do their deferred maintainance and repairs. As far as proof, there is no proof to dispel any conspiracy theory, people who believe them are not going to accept any proofs.

If refineries were having trouble getting light sweet crude and were only getting heavy and could not produce enough gasoline, they would certainly not state that openly.

The gravity and sulfur numbers are published each week, and as I have noted, they have been pretty consistent for years.

Machinery in a refinery is just like any other machinery. It needs to be taken out of action and serviced at regular intervals. Heat exchangers get fouled, pumps leak, and vessels corrode. So, refiners will take a turnaround in the fall or spring - typically lower demand time periods, to do this maintenance. And the utilization numbers are published, so you can see this seasonal utilization dip year after year if you trend it.

Still learning here..... so light vs heavy is determined by sulfur and gravity? What is the link for where those are published?

Thanks. :)

Here is one link where you can see the historicals, but they haven't updated since February. I know I have seen more recent data somewhere. In a refinery, we have to turn that data in weekly.


Light vs heavy is determined by gravity...the higher the gravity the lighter the oil


Sulfur content determines sweet vs sour, the more sour the higher the sulfur content

"The gravity and sulfur numbers are published each week, and as I have noted, they have been pretty consistent for years".

Robert, I don't know whether you could throw any light on how much difference the following might temporarily make:

Currently the Hovensa St. Croix Virgin Islands refinery is undergoing a major turnaround of its coker and sub-units. Maintenance is scheduled from May 7 to June 10 (although the coker will be down for only 28 of the 35 days). Some 1200 extra workers have been subcontracted in for this work.

Hovensa is one of the world's largest refineries and is capable of producing 175,000 bpd of gasoline. During the Hess Corporation Q1 2007 conference call (Hess owns 50% of Hovensa) CEO John Hess was asked by Bear Stearns analyst Nikki Decker whether product yields would be significantly affected during the turnaround. Hess replied:

First, on the turnaround at HOVENSA, this will be our first turnaround of the coker and the associated crude and downstream units that are integrated with the coker. So it is more an impact on the heavy crude that we will be running that for a 30-plus day period.

When the turnaround is going on, we won't be running. So the heavy light spread is where the profits will be impacted, but we will still be running our cracker at full capacity 130,000 to 140,000 barrels a day. So the impact on our gasoline yields should be not that material from normal state.

Any thoughts on what this might imply about their need for light vs heavy crude?

If their coker is down, they will need less heavy crude. Will they need more light crude? Depends on their configuration. All you can say for certain is that their demand for heavy will go down (or they will start making a lot of asphalt).

More significantly, though, they are a major exporter to the U.S. gasoline markets. They are second only to the UK in the amount of gasoline shipped to the US.

Greed and fear are what drive markets, not knowledge and reasoning! ESPECIALLY the commodity markets, where Joe Blow in B.F.E. New Mexico can trade just like Mr. Harvard MBA running XYZ Fund in Cambridge, MA can.

I'm not saying traders are stupid or Harvard MBAs are stupid, but I am saying despite their IQ, when compared to a Robert Rapier or equivalent, they can't hold a candle when it comes to the oil industry.
Of course, I don't think Robert would pretend to know how to run a hedge fund either. Point being, you cannot read too much into the futures.

This was my main argument yesterday. Prime example, while futures are traded mostly by finance guys, the cash markets are mostly traded by engineers turned MBAs who have extensive experience in the business.

So while WTI on the Merc may be up, it doesn't really mean anything. Talk to any futures trader at a large desk with a large investment house, and he'll tell you, the market is more apt to move by minipulation than by real economics. As a matter of fact, I've heard some argue that manipulation is the only way markets move!

The real action is done by the floor traders anyway. The guys upstairs do account for some of it, but the floor is where all the money is made, hands down. Despite what many people believe, trading the NYMEX when you're not a floor trader is still very much analogous to trying to trade a local flee market in New York from a house in Japan.

On that, I'll quote a friend of mine (who works at a large investment house) referring to the average NYMEX floor trader: "Half these guys would be cab drivers if they weren't traders."

"Half these guys would be cab drivers if they weren't traders."

The same could be said for a mortgage friend of mine. He jumped into mortgage banking in 02 (nice luck) and proceeded to make over six figures in a heartbeat. He tried to get our buddy to join him, but our friend wanted to teach students, not make money (silly him). Our mortgage friend acknowledged he shouldnt be making this kind of money. He wasn't being compensated adequetly. I knew immediatly it can't last. It isn't.

Those traders are being siphoned off slowly, but I'm sure you may have known that. The only reason for floor traders in today's markets are for when TSHTF. In Feb, the floor traders cleared accounts through the close of business and had it not been for those floor traders, the system would not have cleared that night. Automated trading on the commodities markets is increasing and when people are being paid more than their worth, more cost effective means to achieve the same ends will be implemented.

"The real action is done by the floor traders anyway. The guys upstairs do account for some of it, but the floor is where all the money is made, hands down."

I'm not sure where you get such a ridiculous idea, but just consider this- hedge funds assets top $1.4 trillion. All of the NYMEX floor traders put together are not worth 1/100 of that, and that doesn't take into account off-floor traders. The real action is done by off-floor hedge funds and off-floor traders who have the lion's share of the money and have driven commodity prices for years.

trading the NYMEX when you're not a floor trader is still very much analogous to trying to trade a local flee market in New York from a house in Japan

Yet I have prospered trading the NYMEX from over 14,000 km away. I have also gottten some great deals at the electronic San Jose, CA flea market known as ebay.

I have a question: Michigan's gas price is currently about 3.45.

If you look at the USA Price Temp chart at http://www.grandrapidsgasprices.com/Price_By_County.aspx?state=MI&c=usa you will see that Michigan is a lot higher than other areas of the country.

Does anybody know why?

The arb has opened up in the physical market up there. All I can say is hold on to your seat. At least you don't live in Oklahoma!

Perhaps Michigan's at the end of the pipeline?

Interesting price gradient from south to north... If the gradient elevates even more, maybe a "price hurricane" will result. ;o)



Your area of the country should have a minimum stock level of around 47 million barrels (from some EIA pubs ,the post is upthread). The last few weeks it has run below that.

As CaliSoca showed us yesterday that Williams pipeline ,FOB Tulsa, has been in bidding up price like crazy lately. It supplies your area according to Platts.

BTW I noticed the price was jumping in Chicago too and that got me looking.

Yes! Chicago and the Group are going crazy! I haven't heard word yet on today's action, but I'd imagine it's much the same, especially since tomorrow is the weekend.

On the bright side, having $3-4 gas in and around Detroit might spur GM, Ford, and whatever Chrysler is being called today to get serious about making efficient cars. The chances are low, but it just might.

I really think that they would rather just go out of business than ever stoop to doing something as sensible as that.

There's a guy I work with wanting to buy into Ford since they are bout 7-8 a share. He believes they can't fail. I said I'll take the short bet of your long and we'll see who's ahead and you don't have to play it. He thought about it for a moment and said, no thanks I'm not the one with the degree. I went ahead and picked up one share to track and we've got an easier bet but it's not over till next summer.

While Chrysler is learning to spell Chery in chinese, we will know about Ford real quick, fall the latest, but as soon as the talks with the UAW start we will have a real good idea which way it will go. If the union doesn't play ball the first into BK wins.

I am telling him to wait until 08. I feel the same way. They go before GM, but they're going. It's going to be a hurricane IMHO that nails their coffins. Once the problems start following that, people won't be buying big clunky American land yachts.

>I really think that they would rather just go out of business than ever stoop to doing something as sensible as that.

Thats got nothing to do with it. The reason why US auto makers produce gas guzzlers is because the margins are much higher. There are a considerable number of foriegn manufacturers producing small efficient cars. If US makers dumped the guzzlers it would put further pressure on sale margins (ie more competition) for smaller efficient cars.

Unlike foriegn manufactures, US manufacturers have huge pension and benefit liabilities. In order to finance them, they need to sell cars with high margins or they go bust.

For the last several years all of the US makers broke even on making vehicles. All of the profit from vehicle sales was used to support labor, pensions and benefits. They only made money with financial services (ie car loans and home mortgages). Since the housing bubble burst they are now losing money hand over fist and the revenues from financial services have dried up.

Also consider that Ford and GM also sell cars in Europe and elsewhere, and their overseas vehicles are considerably smaller and more efficient than US models.

Yes, all true. They made bad decisions many decades ago and have dug themselves into a hole from which they are unlikely to get out. The US steel industry dug itself into a similar hole, and all those factories and the high-paying, high-pension, high-healthcare jobs they once had are now gone. They were too bound up to reinvent themselves, so they are gone, but mini-mills sprung up to partially fill the vacated niche with a new business model. Something along the same lines is probably inevitable in the auto industry.

In the meantime, none of this is any reason for anyone to feel obligated to buy a Detroit gas guzzler. What's good for General Motors is NOT good for the country now.

From the links above

"Crude oil rose to a three-week high in New York on speculation breakdowns and production halts mean refiners will have trouble replenishing U.S. gasoline stockpiles with the summer driving season approaching."

Is this just me or is this counter-invuitive? The article goes on to explain refineries will be performing maintenance, etc. If the expectation is that refineries will break and production will halt, then that means that Oil inventory will increase, gas supplies decrease. I would think that this would cause the crude price to decrease instead of jump? Perhaps I am missing something.

Estamos: You are not missing anything. One often gets that feeling reading the MSM. As an example, read this article which explains why an increase in the value of the Chinese Yuan (which China will slowly allow to placate US politicians) will help to solve US economic problems. Not one mention in the entire article of the effect an appreciating Yuan will have on crude oil prices along with all other commodities. Priceless. http://biz.yahoo.com/ap/070518/china_economy.html?.v=6

As an aside, it appears that the American MSM uses the fact that many Americans view the US dollar as a constant and are unaware of its declining global value. As an example, had the US dollar held its value vs the Canadian dollar at the peak in 2002, average US gasoline prices would currently not be 3.03, but 2.02 US a gallon. As the US politicians get their wish and the Yuan strengthens, the strength added to the crude oil and commodity markets in general will be incredible (IMHO).

And the conventional wisdom among most financial advisors and investment managers is still that it is imprudently risky to invest more than 10-20% of a portfolio in non-US equities.

It is! You have no idea what idiot ruler in XYZ country might do! Just look at our own idiot here!!!

A theory not based on any actual insider knowledge of how things work in the industry and the market:

It might be a question of how much oil can back up in the "pipeline" on its way to the refinery. If you have refineries operating at lower than normal levels, oil producers might cut back on production. When the refineries return to full speed, the system will not be able to suddenly provide oil at the new higher rate of refinery usage, leading to higher oil prices at that moment in time. The futures market could reflect that. The spot market on the other hand, sounds like it is just general panic in the energy industry.

"The futures market could reflect that. The spot market on the other hand, sounds like it is just general panic in the energy industry."

Reverse that, and you'll have it right! The futures is general panic, the cash market, while still prone to panic trading, reflects reality CONSIDERABLY more than futures.

For example, a spot products shortage in Chicago means nothing to a trader in the WTI pit at the Merc. However, you better believe products traders at oil companies are scrambling to get product in their to take advantage of the arb (assuming they have access to that market)!

However, you have to define what you mean by spot market. The spot market at the Merc or the cash spot market?

If you really want insanity, trade natty gas futures! Or even better, electricity futures! It's VERY analogous to eating a foot long chili dog and french fries and then afterwards, immediately riding the world's loopiest roller coaster.

If you really want insanity, trade natty gas futures! Or even better, electricity futures! It's VERY analogous to eating a foot long chili dog and french fries and then afterwards, immediately riding the world's loopiest roller coaster.

Jun 7.944
Jul 8.134
Aug 8.258
Sep 8.325
Oct 8.439
Nov 9.079
Dec 9.719
Jan 10.059

Toyota Unveils Its Priciest Hybrid


The Associated Press

May 17, 2007

Toyota's commitment to hybrid automobiles was on full display Thursday when it unveiled its most expensive gasoline-electric vehicle yet _ the $124,000 luxury sedan Lexus LS.

Executives at Japan's No. 1 automaker are fully convinced that hybrid cars are the way of the future. And they're betting that growing consumer concern about the environment _ and higher gas prices _ will lure even wealthy buyers to the new model, which went on sale Thursday in Japan for 15 million yen and will arrive later elsewhere.

Executive Vice President Masatami Takimoto denied hybrids were 'a transitional technology' that will be replaced by more advanced ecological technology in the future.

'As long as cars exist, the need for hybrid technology will remain,' Takimoto said...

But Toyota President Katsuaki Watanabe said the technology for hybrid systems can be applied to power other types of vehicles, which run on fuel other than gas, including biofuels and hydrogen.

'The hybrid system is a core technology that can be applied anywhere,' Toyota President Katsuaki Watanabe told reporters.

balance of article @


TOYOTA, 100% HYBRID BY 2020?

Takimoto also made the bold claim that by 2020, hybrids will be the standard drivetrain and account for “100 percent” of Toyota’s cars as they would be no more expensive to produce than a conventional vehicle.


Streeeeeeeeetch.....Can you find any black and white tv's?

Perhaps someone can point me in the right direction for an answer.

Q - How much of the 190 mmb of gasoline is "sequestered" in pipelines and really isn't available?

To me, a 20 day supply is just that. The number doesn't make sense in the context of shortages. Sure, some may say that it simply can't get to certain places, but I wonder how that could be true since computers probably know to the drop who will run out and where weeks in advance.

I get the feeling our 200mmb number is a comfort number designed to numb people into thinking they have 20 days to worry about it and if next month it's 19 days, so what?


Whatever amount of oil contained inside these trans_pipes - should be viewde upon as "the last of oil" ......

After prompting from WT (and Simmons) that is exactly what some of us have been looking at the last few days. (see upthread and yesterday's drumbeat discussion which has links to EIA articles and RR, Alan, Doug MacIntyre's comments).

EIA pg. 11 contains this quote

If stocks are falling and approach minimum operating levels (i.e., the level needed to keep gasoline flowing
from refineries to end users), wholesale buyers sometimes become concerned that supplies may not be adequate over the short term, and willingly bid prices higher to assure that they have product.

Good post from Green Man downthread on this.

185 Million Barrels of Gasoline is Minimum Operating Level Congressional Report

Dont worry about it.

Our great, great grand children will saw into the pipes to scoop out the sludge for their oil lamps.

They will worship the pipes, and make alters and child sacrifices to the pipe god to bring more pipes full of pipe sludge.

Of course, on the other hand, they could be sailing around the great mid-continental bay of North America in solar powered yachts while smoking Canadian Cigars and drinking Norwegian Merlot.

And going on cactus-photography expeditions to the deserts of Pennsylvania.

Does anyone know how the Federal Highway Administration gathers the data on miles driven? I'm curious how real this head line is.

Part of their data is gathered by field researchers. I was interviewed at a Border Patrol inspection station on 62/180 about 30 miles east of El Paso about a month ago. They wanted to know where I was from, my destination, whether I was driving for business or pleasure, The age and model of my car, ect.

New article : Coming Soon - $5 a gallon gasoline

The nice thing in this number IS oil is starting to be appreciated (!) - for the REAL VALUE contained in it (!)

We can only hope this lasts! It won't, though. It never does.

It didn't at $2, it didn't at $3, and it won't at $4, $5, $6, $7, $8, $9, $10, etc.

Is it just me, or are more and more articles sounding like Doomer porn? This is getting scary.

Tom A-B

Break out the popcorn and enjoy the show.

(popped over a woodfire, of course)

I call it Reality pr0n.

In case you haven't seen it, I just posted to my blog some of this week's Senate testimony of Paul Sankey, an analyst with Deutsche Bank. His comments were quite colorful, and some went straight to the heart of the matter:

It is fair to say that as we enter driving season in 2007, we are one major incident away from a 1970s-style gasoline crisis.

Then, just when imports are needed more than ever, European and Asian demand strength has combined with a weak dollar to leave margins higher elsewhere, crimping import levels. In this tight context the government has mandated tougher-to-make fuels, requiring more refining and plant maintenance.

US policy makers must stop attempting to re-create a 20th century of abundant and cheap US gasoline, it is as dead as the geology that leaves no more cheap US oil.

For this summer, be prepared to take emergency measures (lifting environmental restrictions, emergency IEA gasoline inventory drawdown) should an emergency develop. We are not there yet, but we are close.

From here:


There are approximately 95,000 miles nationwide of refined products pipelines. Refined products pipelines are found in almost every state in the U.S., with the exception of some New England states. These refined product pipelines vary in size from relatively small 8 to 12 inch diameter lines up to 42 inches in diameter.

My calculator tells me that one mile of pipeline with an inner diameter of 12 inches would hold about 1000 barrels of product.

5280 * 0.5 * 0.5 * 3.14 * 0.241 (barrels per cubic foot (from google)) = 998.9 barrels per mile.

Edit: the 42 inch pipe they mentioned would be 12.25 times that much.

Thanks for this. So even if all the pipe only averaged 12 inch you'd have 95 million barrels just to keep the pipe full of refined products. Sure that'd include distilates too but then we have to add, tanks, and gas stations, and tankers.

The other item is that the refinery has to have something to 'batch' into the line to begin with. I'm sure when they send it's not a 10 gallon fill.

Hello Xburb,

Eventually the areas at the ends of pipeline spiderwebs will be cutoff, thus the Hirsch Report talking about the fifteen favored detritus states. Thirty-five states will be essentially high and dry and forced into true biosolar conversion.

My Asphalt Wonderland is at the extreme ends of pipelines from CA & TX, and Las Vegas is only supplied by CA. Eventually, the carrying cost of guarding and maintaining the infrastructure plus the transport cost will eventually force the shutdown of these pipelines. Especially when these pipelines and pumping stations are attacked with the frequency of what we see going on now in Iraq or Nigeria. Recall my post from yesterday where CA has $1.50/gal and Phx has $10/gal gasoline.

Triage has a long tradition. Cutting off the decaying leg of AZ to save the detritovore body of TX or CA is extremely likely IMO. What will be interesting is if the Earthmarine 'immune system' in Cascadia will be sufficiently biosolar strong enough to repel invaders from the Southwest.

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

Hello Bob;
I'm in no hurry to see it go. But go it must. The complexity of batch/transmix/batch and all the support infrastructure which must function flawlessly and be supplied with reliable electrical power will prove too great a maintenance burden on the downslope.

Then there is the cost of defending that which can no longer provide a benefit. As we move further into the game of "Who run Bartertown?" it will just be plainly too simple for those with energy to 'nationalize' away the access. There is no benevolent populist strongman to bail us out and no military power on earth will force his hand. "Embargo on!"

The energy world is a continuum from source to final consumer and increasingly it must retract back from whence it came. The energy required to project power over distance, extract, and transport back again will not be a positive EROI any longer.

But I am in no hurry. If we practice triage, why not start with the most wasteful unsustainable and remote activity in which we now engage and work our way back. And then invest that energy in the most local sustainable and elemental activity. Beat our swords into plowshares, so to speak.

And while we are at it we can establish some mechanism other than mob rule or the cruel market to allow access to some of the limited energy resources that are left. We don't want everybody congregating around the end of those truncated spider tentacles. By making availiable some 'old paradigm' energy in areas where there is soil to be worked and food to be produced our descent will be a lot more orderly.

Hello Xburb,

Well said. I hope by full Peakoil Outreach we will develop the political and social will to have a somewhat orderly Paradigm Shift. Working ourselves to daily exhaustion to help future generations should be widely preferred to the fighting, habitat decimation, and infrastructure destruction of the no-mitigation method.

I have posted before how I will gladly accept the nightly Olduvai Darkness if it still allows food and clean water sufficient for my survival. The longer that no workable solutions are provided by Techno-Cornucorpian researchers, the quicker we need to move towards a 60-75% daily labor shift towards relocalized permaculture. I have posted many speculative ideas to help speed this effort, and the web is now chockful of other good ideas--all that is lacking is the political consensus and leadership.

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

My local news (Boston) just warned about the possibility, they said "slight", of blackouts this summer in New England. The "explanation" was that we might not have the capacity during peak periods. Then they said prices of electricity should be higher due to the increased cost of natural gas. No mention of natural gas shortages, of course.

Getting interesting, isn't it??

Refineries maxed out because oil companies haven't invested in more capacity because they could forsee that additional crude oil supplies would be unavailable.

Generating plants maxed out because electric utilities haven't invested in more capacity because they could forsee that additional natural gas supplies would be unavailable.

Anybody starting to see a pattern emerge here?

Limits to growth, perhaps ...

I see the pattern - but the am. public , am. MSM , am automakers nor GW Bush see any pattern .... because oil is forever ,,,,

Remember NASA is bound for Mars (ca 2030 ?) but first they'll make a small village on the moon just to test their gadgets , circa 2020 -

The last is bio-diesel rockets - with a hint of anti-matter for the boost sequence ........

Peak-oil is here - BUT Mars is there

Scheduled for tonight:

Many of the cars now on America's roads get no better gas mileage than the ones we were driving twenty years ago. Meanwhile, other country's cars are leaving ours in the dust in terms of fuel efficiency. How did this happen, and what are American auto manufacturers doing about it?

A former auto industry engineer and NOW correspondent Jonathan Silvers goes under the hood of the U.S. car industry to look at what's being called a colossal failure of American engineering. Does Detroit have a secret weapon waiting in the wings?


Csaba Csere, editor-in-chief of Car and Driver magazine, talks to NOW about where the U.S. car market is headed and the role of gas prices in buying decisions.

NOW: But, according to one of your own surveys, fuel economy ranks nearly last in the list of car attributes that consumers desire. I think cup holders, sound systems are well above it.

CC: Fuel economy is not a huge consideration because gas is so cheap in America. The truth is, even at $2.50 and $3 dollars a gallon, gas is not terribly high relative to modern purchasing power. And people just don't worry about it. Last year when gas was over $3 dollars a gallon, you would drive by a McDonald's and still see a line of cars sitting there with their engines idling waiting to buy a cup of coffee. I mean, how serious can any of those drivers in those cars be about saving fuel when they can't be bothered to park their car and go in and pick up the cup of coffee on foot?


Does Detroit have a secret weapon waiting in the wings?

No. But China does.

Everybody hollers about "Detroit" and poor gas milage. Am I the only one that has noticed that the "foreign" makers are now making large cars, trucks and SUVs that all get from 14 to 18 mpg?
The "foreign" makers figured out what the American public wants and they are supplying it too!
Wish I could afford a Smartcar! Would be a kick to drive. Guess I'll have to stick to my 62 VW beetle and 35+ mpg.

A lot of formerly economical cars are going fatty:

2007 Volkswagen Rabbit 2-door
Curb weight: 2975lbs.
EPA Highway: 30mpg

1975 VW Rabbit
Curb weight: 1900lbs.
EPA Highway: 38mpg

I had to laugh at one of the articles Leanan posted, from National Chicken Racket and Disinformation Center about corn prices and ethanol:

The study indicates corn yield gains would be sufficient to moderate grain price increases if corn-based ethanol production peaks at 14 billion to 15 billion gallons annually by 2010...

The price of corn will come down because of yield gains when we start using half of all our grains for biofuel. Stuff like that wrecks my day; we're running out of everything, but we'll have more and cheaper because we are using more.

... because long-run corn prices [in the study] are determined by ethanol prices and not by corn acreage, the long-run impacts on commodity prices and food prices of a smaller CRP are modest.

A more in depth summary and the study itself.

That and Ahmadinejad's idea of electronic ration cards; yet another rationale for RealID and Petraeus' gated communities. The "authorities" are going to try to lock us all down in enclaves/ghettos just like Baghdad and Fallujah. Checkpoint society (or lack thereof). Captives like the serfs in Middle Ages. Africa is not looking so bad. :-)

cfm in Gray, ME

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Pellets made out of aluminum and gallium can produce pure hydrogen when water is poured on them, offering a possible alternative to gasoline-powered engines, U.S. scientists say.

Hydrogen is seen as the ultimate in clean fuels, especially for powering cars, because it emits only water when burned. U.S. President George Bush has proclaimed hydrogen to be the fuel of the future, but researchers have not decided what is the most efficient way to produce and store hydrogen.

In the experiment conducted at Purdue University in Indiana, "The hydrogen is generated on demand, so you only produce as much as you need when you need it," said Jerry Woodall, an engineering professor at Purdue who invented the system.

Woodall said in a statement the hydrogen would not have to be stored or transported, taking care of two stumbling blocks to generating hydrogen.

For now, the Purdue scientists think the system could be used for smaller engines like lawn mowers and chain saws. But they think it would work for cars and trucks as well, either as a replacement for gasoline or as a means of powering hydrogen fuel cells.

"It is one of the more feasible ideas out there," Jay Gore, an engineering professor and interim director of the Energy Center at Purdue's Discovery Park, said in a telephone interview on Thursday. "It's a very simple idea but had not been done before."

On its own, aluminum will not react with water because it forms a protective skin when exposed to oxygen. Adding gallium keeps the film from forming, allowing the aluminum to react with oxygen in the water, releasing hydrogen and aluminum oxide, also known as alumina.

What is left over is aluminum oxide and gallium. In the engine, the byproduct of burning hydrogen is water.

"No toxic fumes are produced," Woodall said.

Based on current energy and raw materials prices, the cost of making the hydrogen fuel is about $3 a gallon, about the same as the average price for a gallon of gas in the United States.

Recycling the aluminum oxide byproduct and developing a lower grade of gallium could bring down costs, making the system more affordable, Woodall said.

How are the ores refined to make these pellets? I'm guessing there needs to be energy put in to the process to get pellets out in the end. These pellets act like a battery, storing the energy that was put in up front in the process. It sounds like yet another cure-all, until you consider the entire process, IMVHO.

Tom A-B


Gallium, interesting metal. Quantities at cheap price, doesn't seem likely. It is needed for some nuclear bombs, like the first one.

National Enquirer Headline waiting to happen. Aluminum, gallium...., hydrogen bomb waiting to happen. booom.

Quid Clarius Astris
Ubi Bene ibi patria

I'm familiar with that Purdue researcher. I think he used to work for IBM doing surface physics/microelectronics stuff (he has a characteristic eyepatch). He's a bright guy, but not a chemical/process engineer.

Making aluminum metal takes electricity. And then there is the gallium and making the pellets.

Here is a link:

"Most people don't realize how energy intensive aluminum is," Woodall said. "For every pound of aluminum you get more than two kilowatt hours of energy in the form of hydrogen combustion and more than two kilowatt hours of heat from the reaction of aluminum with water. A midsize car with a full tank of aluminum-gallium pellets, which amounts to about 350 pounds of aluminum, could take a 350-mile trip and it would cost $60, assuming the alumina is converted back to aluminum on-site at a nuclear power plant.

"How does this compare with conventional technology? Well, if I put gasoline in a tank, I get six kilowatt hours per pound, or about two and a half times the energy than I get for a pound of aluminum. So I need about two and a half times the weight of aluminum to get the same energy output, but I eliminate gasoline entirely, and I am using a resource that is cheap and abundant in the United States. If only the energy of the generated hydrogen is used, then the aluminum-gallium alloy would require about the same space as a tank of gasoline, so no extra room would be needed, and the added weight would be the equivalent of an extra passenger, albeit a pretty large extra passenger."

No mention of how to efficiently get the pellets into and out of the car. And if the pellets can't be regenerated on site (but have to be recycled and reformed), you have to distribute them (from nuclear reactors?) by truck/train--you can't move them in a pipeline or pump them through a hose.

Great idea. It's not going to happen.

Yep! More technology pie in the sky. This will do nothing but cloud up the issue at hand.

Sweet Bye and Bye:

Long-haired preachers come out every night,
Try to tell you what's wrong and what's right;
But when asked how 'bout something to eat
They will answer with voices so sweet:

You will eat, bye and bye,
In that glorious land above the sky;
Work and pray, live on hay,
You'll get pie in the sky when you die

Its amaing how well Joe Hill's songs have held up. Join the International Workers of the World!

A midsize car with a full tank of aluminum-gallium pellets, which amounts to about 350 pounds of aluminum, could take a 350-mile trip and it would cost $60, assuming the alumina is converted back to aluminum on-site at a nuclear power plant.

Need I say anything more.

Where's one of those little emoticons of head banging on wall when you need them.

Its a stupid stupid stupid idea. If you're doing chemical production of fuel, just produce hydrogen and run it over CO or CO2 to make diesel fuel.

You could accomplish the same feat using sodium, much more cheaply. Or if it's got to be lightweight, lithium. Just add water and poof.

And this rhymes with the sarconal thread from yesterday ... you think our eyepatch guy would use grow lights to power his PV panels?

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

Refining aluminum is very energy intensive, you will certainly get no more energy available from the hydrogen than was consumed to in production of the aluminum.

It´s that pesky thermodynamic law again.

Needing gallium will make this a less efficient way to store energy than cracking the hydrogen directly from water, but it may be easier to deal with the fuel as pellets and water, rather than hydrogen gas.

We discussed this yesterday. What a hoot.

Good luck finding enough gallium to provide everyone with a few hundred pounds of "aluminum-gallium pellets." Hahahaha. Maybe a few thousand cars?

Never mind the losses involved in displacing hydrogen from water by oxidizing aluminum, which releases a lot of heat. Never mind the losses in re-smelting the aluminum. But why go on?

But no matter how silly something might be, trust CNN and other outlets to run with it. One small mercy, though - at least CNN's reporter didn't refer to it as a water-fuelled engine!

Prof claims hydrogen breakthrough, but says Energy Dept. 'egos' in the way

Professor Jerry Woodall and students have invented a way to use an aluminum alloy to extract hydrogen from water — a process that he thinks could replace gasoline as well as its pollutants and emissions tied to global warming.

But Woodall says there's one big hitch: "Egos" at the U.S. Department of Energy, a key funding source for energy research, "are holding up the revolution."

Well, it's basically a battery, which you can't recharge, that is used to split water to make hydrogen. And he wonders why people (besides Purdue officials) aren't falling all over themselves?

This just sounds like they want to use the energy that went into making the aluminium to drive a car. There is a reason why aluminiun carries the nickname "elongated electricity".
I can shoot the idea down right there, as the second law of thermodynamics means you'll get less energy to drive your car than went into making the aluminium. Since electricity is often generated from burning NG. It would make more sence to run the cars on NG and skip the aluminium step.

This is also not the first time this idea appears an TOD. Some months ago there was a link to a press release from an israeli company with the exact same claims. And I remembet it got debunked thoroughly.

I can shoot the idea down right there

Unlike Dick Cheney, you missed. Of course it's a net energy loss process, and I'm sure that the Purdue prof. knows that (but probably not the media). This is also true for any battery for an electric car. That's not the point. The goal is portable energy for transportation--you will lose energy transforming available energy (whether nat gas or split uranium) for that purpose. He does suggest using nuclear energy to generate the electricity.

There are big problems, though.

There is a reason why aluminiun carries the nickname "elongated electricity".
I can shoot the idea down right there, as the second law of thermodynamics means you'll get less energy to drive your car than went into making the aluminium. Since electricity is often generated from burning NG. It would make more sence to run the cars on NG and skip the aluminium step.

I agree with these refreshingly-sane posts, which is what draws me back to TOD again and again.

I will say that I have wondered about using aluminum as a "time shifting" energy storage medium. We have the problem now that conservation can be rendered largely moot by Jevons' paradox. Thus, things like PV and windmills and hydroelectric dams, etc function as deferred-energy sinks as well as for generation. Once they get into positive EROEI territory, they are generators. However, they may have a limited shelf life, <100 yrs.

Aluminum, if painted to keep from oxidizing, could be stored indefinitely. Same goes for zinc, etc. It might lend itself to compact electricity storage even with a fairly low-tech infrastructure... like, you could take your donkey cart to the windmill farm and get a bunch. Or sailing ships could carry it around the world from geothermal plants in volcanic areas.

fanciful, yes. Just idle musing. I can think of a number of ways it could be used, though keeping the car culture going ain't one of 'em.

The only bloated ego is the one belonging to the good professor. As I said up above, what a hoot! Maybe the professor expects the DOE folks to transmute megatons of iron into gallium for him, since current annual production is measured in kilograms.

Note Dr. Woodall's stylish eye patch. I wonder how long he's been monkeying around with hydrogen?

But seriously, I've seen recent mention of alanes (pdf warning) as a hydrogen storage medium. There's potential there, but if you get a little water or other oxygen-containing material into your alane, you get a lot of hydrogen (and heat) all at once as its storage capacity is ruined, the alane reverting to bauxite.

As already noted in this subthread, aluminum itself is "congealed electricity". And from the article: "a startup company, AlGalCo LLC", it looks like Dr. Woodall is just looking to cash in on some fizzy stuff in a test tube.

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

A fine whine from Bloomberg:

U.S.'s Infrastructure Repair Just Isn't a DIY Job: Joe Mysak

May 18 (Bloomberg) -- Some of the cracked windows need to be replaced. The turn-of-the-century plasterwork, and I'm not talking about the one seven years ago, can really use some attention. And it would be nice to get a couple of the floors refinished.

I read somewhere that the longer you stay in a house, the more you let it go to seed. You keep meaning to get around to certain little repairs and renovations, and you keep putting them off. Houses can be a little bit overwhelming.

That's the way to think about the U.S.'s infrastructure, too, as it turns out. We keep meaning to restore and repaint and maybe even make needed additions, but it's easier to defer it all, especially once we take a look at how much it will cost and the time it will take.

The comparison only goes so far. We are bombarded daily by real-estate porn intended to make us lust for the perfection that most of us really can't afford. We don't see many glossy photographs and drooling descriptions of things like new sewers and light-rail systems.

Maybe we should. Maybe that way we would get used to the price tag: $1.6 trillion over the next five years, according to a provocative new report by the Urban Land Institute, a policy research group in Washington, and Ernst & Young, the New York- based accounting firm.

I know what you're saying. "Infrastructure" and "provocative" are two words that shouldn't be seen in each other's company. Believe me, "Infrastructure 2007: A Global Perspective," is an exceptional piece of work on what can be a mind-numbing subject (e.g., just look at the photograph on page 43 of rows of new sewer pipe lying out in a field).

This 64-page report is thought-provoking. More often than not, it's just plain, downright provoking, in the same way an earnest teenager or the new, green Al Gore is.

The enemy is, not surprisingly, us. We don't want to pay our way. We don't want to pay what things really cost, and when politicians level with us, we throw them out of office. Don't raise my taxes and don't raise my tolls.

It's more than that, though, this report says, whines and scolds. It's us. We're all wrong. And we are all going to have to mend our ways, or else.

I went into "Infrastructure 2007" prepared to love it. The paper tackles a big subject: how the country gets around. Oh, there's some lip service paid to things like sidewalks and sewers, which are also components of infrastructure, but this study is about transportation in general, and road versus rail in particular.

Yet this report drove me insane. There's a lot of good in it, in the idea that the nation is facing billions of dollars in deferred maintenance expenses, and that the federal government just isn't going to pick up the tab, and so what do we do now?

Maybe it's the smug and self-righteous tone. Or perhaps it's the broad assertions couched in the inevitable participial phrases ("Congestion will increasingly overwhelm existing road systems").

Or maybe it's statements like this: "The transport and land use models developed for suburbanizing America in the late 20th century already may no longer work for the future."

I knew the game was up when I reached page 40 and came to: "For starters, the country could do with a reality check."

In other words: You're all wrong!

You're all wrong. That's what this often shrill screed comes down to: suburban sprawl is highly subsidized and the love Americans have for driving their cars everywhere is wrong.

The authors don't come right out and say it, of course, but what they mean is this way of living is selfish and even immoral. Let's face it: Cars are evil. That's why we are going to have to change people's priorities, "reordering lifestyles and habits."

We also need more centralized control and planning, if we are to form public policy that serves the greater good.

Oh, really? Am I the only one who finds that a little, shall we say, ominous? Who is this "we," anyway? Is "we" those in the elite, who know better -- who know, just KNOW that we'd all be better off if we lived in densely packed cities where mass transit makes sense?

There, I knew you'd be provoked.


I was initially glad to see someone talking about infrastructure, but it didn't turn out so good.

Yeah, but it's illuminating nonetheless.

That is how most Americans think.

Interesting reading, working through it now. Alan will definitely want to take a look.

Leanan: Any chance you want to add this as a featured item at the top of the daily TOD?

Well that's interesting...

Today's lead story about a back-of-the-envelope BTL/Terra Preta process was (enveloped if you will) by none other than yours truly here last year http://www.theoildrum.com/story/2006/8/15/13634/6716

TODers... Just Slighly Ahead of Our Time =]

Cool, I am fascinated by the possible use of black carbon/biochar + permaculture/grow biointensive (no fossil fuels). Good old Dark Amazonian Earth ;)

As Vancouver gas prices soar, so does transit use

Note this includes the Westcoast Express, a plain old diesel train, as well SkyTrain.

Yes well at roughly $5.50 a gallon and rising...

From Leanans link "Fed-up drivers begin to look 'outside the box' "

I tried to "reverse engineer" one of the people's numbers given but the answer got caught by the WTF? filter:

Grandell doesn't work outside the home, but her husband, Mark, 55, who teaches physical education at Paul M. Hodgson Vocational-Technical High School, drives 40 miles round-trip each day. His gas bill has risen to $400 a month from $200 within the past year.

So assuming an average of 23 working days/month at 40 miles/day I come up with around 920 miles/month for this guy's commute. Further assuming the $400/month is at $3/gal I make the following leap:

((920mi/mo)*($3/gal))/($400/mo) = 6.9 miles/gal!!

The WTF meter flags red. At that fuel economy the guy either lives in traffic or drives a Hummer while towing a parachute. Something's not right.

So 920 miles/month * 12 months = 11,040 miles/year. Kind of lowish for the average driver but not terribly low.

I can only think of a few things that would bring this into "reason":
-The person writing the articles messed up the interpretation of his mileage of "40 mile round-trip" which might be 40 miles one way for an 80 miles round trip which would put him at about 14mpg and 22,080 miles/year this still puts him in an SUV or truck

-He does a lot of non-work related driving which essentially doubles his mileage per year over just work related mileage.

-He actually does spend his life in traffic and indeed does get 6.9ish mpg, again in a truck or SUV.

One thing to note is that no matter how badly I try to manipulate the numbers, he must drive an SUV or truck.

Just for giggles, at 40mpg his commute would cost him about:
(920mi/mo)*(1gal/40mi)*($3/gal) = $69/month

FWIW, I interpreted "40 miles round trip" to mean 40 miles each way.

Ha, sounds like the lap vs length debates in the swim groups. To me, 'round-trip' means there and back, not 40 miles each way. But that doesn't mean the reporter couldn't have been wrong.

Here's another gas-price story, including the following quote:

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Thursday confirmed he would not introduce a break in the gas tax, which was proposed in his 2004 election campaign.

"We've seen this before. Gas prices go up and down largely in response to international market conditions," he said in Waterloo, Ont. "The long-term trend on gas prices is up. It's going to be up because in the long-term demand is outstripping supply for hydrocarbons."

Come on Stephen, say those two little words. You're so close!

He was briefed well on Peak Oil by a friend here. It was about late 2005 though, so a lot has changed.

But he is aware. Can't tell you if he believes...but the snip above suggests he has the idea.

George Monbiot: "If We Don’t Deal with Climate Change We Condemn Hundreds of Millions of People to Death"

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, let's talk about your plan for being able to cut in the industrial countries 90% of energy use. How would that occur concretely in, for instance, in the United States or England without, as you say, having a collapse of the economies?

GEORGE MONBIOT: OK, well, let's take surface transport as an example, and there's huge potential here. Number one, for boosting the fuel economy of cars five- or tenfold. At the moment in the United States, the average fuel economy of cars is just over twenty-one miles per gallon. The Model T Ford in 1908 did twenty-five miles to the gallon. This country has gone backwards in terms of fuel economy. And yet the technological potential is absolutely vast. But you can go even further than that. If we still stick with cars for just a moment --

JUAN GONZALEZ: So by you saying five- to tenfold, you're talking about a hundred miles to the gallon.

GEORGE MONBIOT: A hundred miles to the gallon, 150 miles to the gallon. It is not difficult, even given current technologies. The potential is right here in front of us. We just need to grasp it.

You can go even further than that. Picture this scenario: the electric car. We all know the electric car works. There's plenty of models out there. The problem is that you can't go very far with it without having to plug it in again and wait eight hours for the battery to recharge. But what if you don't have to do that? What if, instead, you pull into a filling station, you lift up the hood, crane comes over, lifts out the battery, drops in another one, and off you go again? What you do in that situation is to lease your battery from a network of filling stations. You just pay for the electricity, and it takes no more time to change it than it would take to fill up your tank with gas. There, you see the potential.

Even if we stick with cars, before we even look at public transport and the huge capacity there is there for greatly reducing carbon emissions, even if you stick with cars, you see this tremendous potential for cutting by 90% to 95% the emissions which we currently produce.


Frankly, I see two better scenarios for EVs than swapping out batteries:

A true EV will be your local car, and when you must travel longer will zip or flex or otherwise rent something.

A hybrid EV will be your local car, and like a train locomotive, it will have a diesel engine that can recharge the electric batteries over longer trips.

Mexico Pemex Hopes Chicontepec Zone Can Stop Oil Output Fall

The field has small pockets of oil spread out over a wide area, increasing the cost of getting the fuel to market. "Chicontepec requires and demands drilling thousands of new wells," said Suro, speaking at a conference sponsored by Bear Stearns earlier this week.

Due to the difficult geology, Pemex only extracts 6% to 8% of the oil in Chicontepec's subsoil, compared with average extraction rates of around 20% in the oil industry as a whole. Secondary recovery techniques such as natural gas injection could lift this rate to 10%.

"Higher lifting costs are expected because of production from more complex reservoirs, mature fields, and also from the evolution of the services markets," said Suro.

As oil prices have surged in recent years, so have costs of contracting oil rigs. Materials such as steel and cement are also more costly amid growing world demand.

Areas like Chicontepec will force Pemex to boost spending in coming years or watch its oil production continue to slide.

"In recent meetings with Pemex senior officials, they acknowledged that to stabilize Mexico's oil and gas production levels, the company may have to double its capital expenditures," wrote Bear Stearns in a Thursday research note.

No problemo! Fiesta!

Ever since computing my family's carbon footprint a few months ago I've thought about simply buying charcoal and throwing it away as an offset technique. The problem is I would need to buy about 200 pounds per week to fully offset my family's CO2 output. So I thought about having a large group of people contract with a charcoal producer to lower the per pound price. The question in my mind is what is the lowest cost that can charcoal be produced? I have no idea. Do you???

sounds like someone's been sippin the sarcanol
You might want to run your idea by Al Gore

Does your local electric utility have a Green Power program? That would be the best way to do offsets, and you would be helping to ramp up renewable energy capacity in your area.

>Ever since computing my family's carbon footprint a few months ago I've thought about simply buying charcoal and throwing it away as an offset technique. The problem is I would need to buy about 200 pounds per week to fully offset my family's CO2 output

Where did you come up with this silly idea? You would be increasing your carbon output significantly. To make charcoal you have to cook wood. You are 1. Cutting down trees for feedstock, and 2. consuming a fossil fuel to cook the wood into charcoal.

How about instead using the money to buy charcoal, use it to plant trees (perferably with your own hands). The trees will grow and extract some carbon from the air and lock it up in wood.

The insanity of it all! Where has common sense gone?

Charcoal buried in the ground will tie it up longer, plus enhance the soil where it is buried. Read the lead post by Leanan or look up Terra Preta.


The problem seems to be that according to Scientific American article, trials show it doesn't perform as claimed, ie although it increases carbon content of the soil, and effectively sequesters it, it's value as fertilizer or for longer term nutrient retention, is not as originally believed.

Do you have any conflicting evidence-that it works for nutient retention or as a fertilzer? I recall that Todd, I believe, and some others were trying it out-any results?

Not good if everybody burnt extra wood to make charcoal for carbon credits or feelgood Brownie points. That would create a CO2 surge that is unsustainable as the forests were laid waste. Though 'surge' seems to be the cool new thing in 2007.

No solid results yet on DIY Tera Preta except that if you spread crushed charcoal on the surface dogs and cats love to roll in it.

Plant and Soil 249: 343–357, 2003.

Nutrient availability and leaching in an archaeological Anthrosol and a
Ferralsol of the Central Amazon basin: fertilizer, manure and charcoal amendments

Johannes Lehmann,Jose Pereira da Silva,Jr.,Christoph Steiner, Thomas Nehls, Wolfgang Zech & Bruno Glaser

Soil fertility and leaching losses of nutrients were compared between a Fimic Anthrosol and a Xanthic Ferralsol
from Central Amazônia. The Anthrosol was a relict soil from pre-Columbian settlements with high organic C containing large proportions of black carbon. It was further tested whether charcoal additions among other organic and inorganic applications could produce similarly fertile soils as these archaeological Anthrosols. In the first experiment, cowpea (Vigna unguiculata (L.)Walp.) was planted in pots, while in the second experiment lysimeters were used to quantifywater and nutrient leaching from soil cropped to rice (Oryza sativa L.). The Anthrosol showed significantly higher P, Ca, Mn, and Zn availability than the Ferralsol increasing biomass production of both cowpea and rice by 38–45% without fertilization (P < 0.05). The soil N contents were also higher in the Anthrosol but the wide C-to-N ratios due to high soil C contents led to immobilization of N. Despite the generally high nutrient availability, nutrient leaching was minimal in the Anthrosol, providing an explanation for their sustainable fertility. However, when inorganic nutrients were applied to the Anthrosol, nutrient leaching exceeded the one found in the fertilized Ferralsol. Charcoal additions significantly increased plant growth and nutrition. While N availability in the Ferralsol decreased similar to the Anthrosol, uptake of P, K, Ca, Zn, and Cu by the plants increased with higher charcoal additions. Leaching of applied fertilizer N was significantly reduced by charcoal, and Ca andMg leaching was delayed. In both the Ferralsol with added charcoal and the Anthrosol, nutrient availability was elevated with the exception of N while nutrient leaching was comparatively low.

Terra preta,
I think researchers are missing the most important part of this mystery, and that is the "why?"
Why would ancient civilizations go to any effort to add carbon to thier soils? If they burned wood for heat ash would be the logical result not carbon to toss on fields. Did they understand carbon helped plants grow?

My best guess is that they uses rolling, burning brush piles to sanitize the soil. Gets rid of bugs, fungus spores, and weed seed very, very effectively. Lacking such handy farm chemicals like round-up, 2-4 D, malathion, diaznon, banrot, captan, zyban, and 100's of others this seems like the "reason" behind the process imho.
If you read the post by Cornell university, the soil is fertile yet today but fields are often abandoned due to "weed infestation".
Given an "annual burning" you would probably set up some sort of biological soil community in the lower soil zones.

Field burning was common practice in the Wilamette valley until the air shed compitition between car pollution and field burning pollution was to much for everyone. So now we don't burn except by special permit and ussually with special propane fired burning machines, and happily dump on the chemicals. Now everyone is happy, right?

Just my take on terra preta - makes sense imho , but we will never know for sure...

I think researchers are missing the most important part of this mystery, and that is the "why?"

I;d say the research into "how" is more important.

1) How was it made
2) How is soil fertility improved
3) how does the carbon stay locked up for hundreds to thousands of years

So let me get this straight... you are going to continue all your CO2 emissions you already have AND add additional CO2 emissions by buying additional charcoal because it makes you feel good? Where is the offset? It would only be an offset if the power used to run your home were derived from a process that produced the charcoal but just buying more charcoal doesn't do anything sensible as far as CO2 emissions go.

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

i recommend we switch out food supply to tasty little mussels (looks bad.... tastes good). these little critters convert carbon dioxide to calcium carbonate, the co2 is more or less permanently sequestered. but would it be practical on a large scale ? probably not.

Oysters are MUCH more productive (and taste better as well).

We haul up oysters, eat the insides, and use and/or discard (above ground, not back in water) the calcium carbonate shells.

Sequester the CO2 for just a thousand years and we have bypassed the GHG peak and will be on the downslope (and GW may have reversed towards cooling by then as well).

Best Hope for Good Oysters :-)


I've got just the marketing slogan for the scheme, too:

"The World Is Our Oyster!"


There are sewage treatment plants that use oysters to clean the water. They harvest and eat the oysters, too. Sounds kind of icky to me, I confess.

but just buying more charcoal doesn't do anything sensible as far as CO2 emissions go.

Actually yes it does.

If that charcoal was burned (as most people would do) that Carbon would become CO2. Buying it and burying it has the benefit of stopping others from burning it. And that Carbon that would have been put into the air could instead become sequestered for 1000's of years, like the amazon's terra perta.

It also seems that adding Biochar to the soil has ag benefits - water retention, harbor for bacteria/fungi that are beneficial to plants.

But hey - if you think burying biochar is a bad plan - show how the research into biochar is wrong.

wrong logics here - eric

Those who make the charcoal will just make some ekstra - and sell this to those you think you averted a sale to...

sorry - demand/supply

BUT your argument holds water if you do this stunt for NOT renewables like oil - diamond - gold ....

make some ekstra

If you have a point to make, feel free to make it.

To say people are making charcoal to make extra tabloid newspapers is not "helpful".

I look at my family's energy use and find myself in the conundrum of desire to do better but the ability to do little. I am a renter of an old drafty mobile home but can't afford an earth shelter home that needs little to heat in the winter and nothing to cool in the summer. I own an old minivan that gets about 20 mpg but can't afford a small car that gets 40 mpg. I've found many cheap large old SUVs around here but no cheap little cars. I've put CFLs in all the sockets. Finding affordable ways to use less fossil fuel has been exhausted.
The charcoal idea is just an idea. Making my own would still require me to buy the feedstock even if I was allowed to use the equipment between mine and my neighbors trailers.
After a few days since bringing up the question not one of the responses has answered my question: How cheaply can charcoal be produced????

I worked my way through school in a mobile home, so I know a bit about them.

I assume electric hot water heater. Insulate and find breaker to turn off when not using it.

Put gaskets behind switches and outlets (available @ Home Depot & Lowe's + ?)


Talk to landlord about putting reflective roof coating on (your labor, his paint). It preserves mobile home roof and adds life.

Consider Freidrich high efficiency window heat pump. eMail for best model #.

Insulated shades on at least bedroom windows can be considered.

Keep looking for good used car.

New computer, consider Apple Mac mini. LCD screen.

Best Hopes,


The furnace and water heater are gas but the kitchen is all electric. Like I said earlier we've done all the affordable improvements.

Where did you come up with this silly idea?

He's been doing more research than you it seems.

But if YOU think you know more, show how the researchers on Terra Preta are wrong and the biochar in the Amazon isn't thousands of year old.

The insanity of it all! Where has common sense gone?

Feel free to show how the terra preta researchers are wrong then.

according to the terra preta lists Charcoal is 200 a ton.

3-20% in the soil. So you are going to have to move alot of earth or have alot of land. Either way, adding carbon to the soil won;t be easy labor wise.

Personally, build a downdraft burner and make your own char by burning scrap wood and scrap organics. Or organics that do not compost well (like pine needles or say garlic mustard)

Don't forget to add bones to get some P in the soil.

Russia Hikes Oil Exports Duty to $200 a Ton
The duty on crude oil exports goes up to $200.6/ton starting from June 1, 2007. Russia’s Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov has inked the respective ruling already. Today’s duty stands at $156.4/ton.

The duty on light oils exports will surge to $147.5/ton starting from June 1, while the dark-oil product duty will be $79.4/ton. Today’s duties are $117.7/tons and $63.4/ton respectively.

The surge in export duties was initiated by the intergovernmental commission for foreign trade protection, customs and tariff policy.

Hello TODers,

Director: FEMA More Prepared than Ever for Hurricane Season

I found it interesting that the preps are for dealing after the hurricane has already done its horrific work. You would think the insurance industry would want them to have much greater before-storm preps with seasonal strategic hurricane gasoline reserves in careful locations to aid in evacuations. Recall that I posted on this earlier in response to AlanfromBigEasy raising the alarm on how low gas inventories may leave people stranded and/or exposed during a hurricane.

In a worst case CAT 5 hurricane scenario: wouldn't life insurance payouts dwarf property losses? Or is the ins. industry getting out of life-insurance business because of the Dieoff ahead? Is Gail the Actuary out there to comment?

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