DrumBeat: July 6, 2007

New battery packs powerful punch

Until recently, large amounts of electricity could not be efficiently stored. Thus, when you turn on the living-room light, power is instantly drawn from a generator.

A new type of a room-size battery, however, may be poised to store energy for the nation's vast electric grid almost as easily as a reservoir stockpiles water, transforming the way power is delivered to homes and businesses. Compared with other utility-scale batteries plagued by limited life spans or unwieldy bulk, the sodium-sulfur battery is compact, long-lasting and efficient.

Global warming threatens alternative-oil projects

Oil-sand, oil-shale, and coal-to-oil projects – alternative fuel sources that could enhance US energy security – have always faced one hurdle. They look good only when oil prices are high. Now, they have another challenge: global warming.

Gazprom will invest $420b in gas industry by 2030 to meet demand

Russian gas monopoly Gazprom will invest $420 billion in the gas sector by 2030 to ensure enough supplies to the domestic market and exports, its chairman said in remarks published yesterday.

Iran's Oil Industry: A House of Cards?

...Iran's energy sector is a house of cards. It is neglected, crumbling and underinvested. Many of its oil and gas fields are in dire need of foreign technical expertise to help reverse their natural decline. An analysis published last year in Proceedings, a journal of the National Academy of Sciences, asserts that, "Iran is suffering a staggering decline in revenue from its oil exports, and if the trend continues, income could virtually disappear by 2015." Iran's deputy oil minister, Mohammed Hadi Nejad-Hosseinian, confirmed recently that, "if the projects for increasing the capacity of the oil and protection of the oil wells will not happen, within ten years there will not be any oil for export."

Peru: Oil Industry Told To Keep Off Land

Oil companies from all over the world have been warned by Peru's national indigenous peoples' organization not to explore for oil in areas where uncontacted tribes live. The tribes face extinction from an oil boom in Peru that has seen 70% of the Peruvian Amazon opened up to exploration.

China, Russia sign supply deal

CHINA'S state-owned Sinopec Group has signed an agreement with Russian oil firm Rosneft to transport additional crude supplies via Mongolia.

India races for the world's cheapest car

The telecom revolution in India has made cheap mobile telephones accessible to even the country's poorest, and now India's underclass is likely to be able to go from two wheels to four when the cheapest entry-level autos hit the roads in the near future.

Frozen gas supply dreams to meet cold, harsh reality

Take a world hungry for new energy, suggest a huge untapped trough of frozen gas on the doorstep of the biggest consumers, and it's easy to fathom why some governments are salivating over methane hydrate.

But even proponents say the cost, technology and environmental hurdles in developing the resources -- mostly subsea deposits that promise vast gas reserves -- mean it could be a decade or longer before any real results are delivered.

"Running on fumes"

"The Coffeyville refinery going down is a major blow to supply as things were just returning to normal," said petroleum analyst Bryant Gimlin of Fort Lupton-based Gray Oil Co.

"The refinery is likely down for the long-haul," he said. "Some area refiners were quick to post (price) increases. Those that have it are going to take advantage of those that need it. This part of the country has been running on fumes since February."

ConocoPhillips Reports Malfunction at Refinery at Borger, Texas

ConocoPhillips, the second-largest U.S. refiner, reported a malfunction at its refinery in Borger, Texas, causing the flaring of about 500 pounds of sulfur dioxide, according to a report on a state-administered Web site.

Valero: 4Q Work at Calif., Texas, New Jersey Refineries

Valero Energy Corp. (VLO) said Thursday that it plans work that will impact production at its refineries in Texas City, Texas, Paulsboro, N.J., Benecia, Calif., and Wilmington, Calif., during the fourth quarter.

BP Carson Refinery to Lower Rates for 10 Days

BP Plc's Carson, California, refinery will run at lower rates for about 10 days to allow Europe's second-largest oil company to repair a compressor, a person familiar with the plant's status said.

1.2 Billion Reasons Why Our Energy Crisis Cannot Be Averted

Whether or not you believe peak oil is about to (or already has) occurred, our world is growing astronomically. But will the world continue to grow if oil exits the main energy stage within the next two decades?

Dave Cohen: Gas Subsidies and Iran

Violence erupted in Iran last week when Ahmadinejad's government imposed gasoline rationing, limiting drivers to 100 litres (26.39 gallons) per month of petrol at the subsidized price of about $0.42 per gallon. Angry protesters burned gas stations as they denounced the belt-tightening measure and the politicians who imposed it (photo below, source). Sanctions on Iran, the Islamic Republic's policies, and subsidies on gasoline in other countries adversely our ability to cope with a liquid fuels peak that is likely to arrive by 2015. The rioting also revealed the sacrosanct nature of driving, and just how tough it's going to be to change people's transportation habits all over the world to mitigate the effects of the crisis.

Cattle Producers Urge Equal Opportunity Energy Policy

The National Cattlemen's Beef Association says it supports efforts to reduce the nation's dependence on foreign oil by investing in renewable and alternative energy resources. But NCBA does not support the proposed increase in mandates for corn-based ethanol to 15 billion gallons of renewable fuels from feedgrain products by 2015.

"Sky-high mandates for feedgrain-based ethanol are not the solution," says Jay Truitt, NCBA vice president of government affairs.

UK: Nigeria fears push oil over $76

Oil prices have surged past $76 a barrel amid growing concern that unrest in Nigeria will hit exports.

The kidnap of a three-year-old British girl this week has been seen as an escalation of the violence that has plagued the oil-rich Delta region.

Brent crude climbed as high as $76.01 a barrel, before falling back to trade 1.6% higher at $75.94. In New York, US light crude added 61 cents up $72.42.

Battle for final frontier

Canada is marching north to assert sovereignty in the Arctic, to repel Danes and claim Hans Island, a rock the size of a football field between Ellesmere Island and Greenland. It is not quite war but it is enough for Canada’s Prime Minister to tour the Arctic Circle to assert Canadian control of the Northwest Passage.

A mad scramble is under way for Arctic riches: fish, diamonds, oil and gas.

Strange season to top off the tank

Crude oil is now trading for $72 per barrel.

But by the Citigroup analyst Tim Evans' account, it should be $62.

"There's no shortage of crude oil. And yet the market seems to be pricing in an imminent shortage," Evans said. "In my view the markets are relatively overvalued here, and the prices cannot be sustained."

Consumers shift to smaller engines amid high gas prices

The percentage of four-cylinder engines in U.S. vehicles has been rising slightly since 2002, but it still was only 25.4 percent of the U.S. engine mix in 2006, according to data collected by Ward’s Automotive Group.

Still, in mid-sized vehicles where consumers have a choice, the majority has picked four-cylinder engines so far this year in nearly all of the best-selling models made by the top five U.S. auto sellers.

Steorn Orbo Demo delayed until further Notice

Irish Steorn has delayed the demo of their free energy technology Orbo until further notice.

Initially the company wanted to demonstrate Orbo already on July 4th in the Kinetica museum in London. They had to postpone the demo to Thursday as reported yesterday. Today Steorn says on their site that the demo is delayed to an unannounced future date.

Abundant oil

More bad news for “peak oil” enthusiasts — those wishful thinkers and doomsday peddlers who say the world is running out of oil. BP’s annual “Statistical Review of World Energy” shows “proved oil reserves continue to exceed 1.2 trillion barrels, equivalent to current production levels for more than 40 years.”

A craving to stay cool challenges power grid anew

With the state's first heat wave of the year, California's power grid operators warned residents to conserve energy or face rolling blackouts as the state did in 2000 and 2001.

Australia reliant on Middle East oil: experts

Oil and its refinery by-products play a fundamental role in just about every part of Australian life, and a large amount of it originates in the Middle East.

Graeme Bethune, chief executive officer of energy advisory firm EnergyQuest, explains.

"Only about 13 per cent of the crude oil that we import comes from the Middle East, but we import increasing amounts of refined petrol and diesel from Singapore and Singapore gets most of its feed stock from the Middle East," he said.

Iraqi Kurds to win oil battle

While the US may succeed in procuring the passage of draft legislation securing the privatization of Iraqi oil fields and revenue sharing, the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) is pushing ahead with plans premised on future carbon domination.

Nicaragua: Energy Crisis Rears its Ugly Head

With an energy deficit hovering between 20-30% of the nation's demand, embattled power-distribution company Unión Fenosa in mid-June began again implementing rolling blackouts across the country, shutting down whole cities for 6-10 hours at a time.

Fuel shortage causing problems on Flinders Island

The cost of flying to Flinders Island could go up if a critical shortage of aviation gas on the island is not resolved soon.

Airlines of Tasmania has had to restrict the number of passengers it carries because it can no longer refuel on the island.

A previous contract to supply the fuel has been scrapped because of the costs involved.

When Building Green Ain't so Green

Look at the web site for the next green builder you see on TV or in the daily paper. Does the site show plans for a home with trees and no parking garage? Or, is it another house plan that tells you how many cars the garage will hold and says nothing about trees? Many green architects and builders are doing their best to create environmentally friendly homes. But most have a narrow focus on eco-techniques. They rarely understand that current construction is actually making environmental problems worse.

Saudi Aramco To Sell Crude to the US At Lower Price

Saudi Aramco, the world's largest state oil company, cut prices of its crude oil to be exported to the U.S. in August. It raised prices for Europe.

Aramco cut prices of all grades it sells to the U.S. by between 35 cents and 50 cents a barrel, the Dhahran, Saudi Arabia-based company said in an e-mailed statement late yesterday. Aramco said it raised prices for shipments to Europe in August by between 40 cents and 70 cents a barrel.

Oil hits 11-month high of $75

Oil prices rose on Friday to $75 a barrel for the first time since August on renewed unrest in Nigeria’s delta oil producing region.

Nigerian Militants Snatch Five Foreigners in Volatile Delta

Gunmen overran an oil flow station in Nigeria's restive Niger Delta Wednesday, seizing five expatriate workers, officials said.

Two New Zealanders, one Australian, a Venezuelan and a Lebanese were taken a day after the oil-rich delta's most outspoken militant group, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), said it would not extend a month-long truce with the government.

Nigeria kidnappers threaten to kill girl

he kidnappers of a 3-year-old British girl are threatening to kill her and then come after her parents if their demands aren't met, the girl's sobbing mother said Friday.

Protesters, Police Clash Near Oil Fields in Ecuador

Scores of police and protesters have been injured in clashes around the facilities of a Chinese oil company in the eastern Ecuadorian province of Orellana, authorities and human rights activists said Wednesday.

Food vs fuel wars just beginning

In 2005, easily extracted oil from the oilfields peaked. From now on, the flow will be at a reduced rate, eventually running dry. Oil extracted from the more difficult oilfields, requiring more technology and consequently more expense, is expected to peak in four years, according to some experts in the United Kingdom. Since the global demand for oil exceeds supply, oil prices are going to continue rising.

Fire Damages Petrobras' P-50 Platform

A fire broke out at about 4 p.m. local time (1900 GMT) in a room containing gas compression units, Petrobras said in a release. No one was hurt and no oil leaked into the sea.

Oil production was temporarily interrupted, but was already partially restarted Wednesday evening, the company said. The company didn't disclose what the amount of the damage was.

UN climate change chief warns of impact on poverty, hunger

The UN's top climate change scientist on Thursday urged the world body to take greater account of the impact of global warming on hunger and poverty.

Al Gore's inconvenient tax

The former vice president (and almost president) wants to replace the current payroll tax with a consumer tax on fossil-fuel use.

This "carbon tax" would, of course, raise the price of gasoline and home heating/cooling. And it would put the burden of generating the same level of federal revenues on consumers while reducing the tax burden on labor and capital (workers and employers). Unless the poor get a break on this consumption tax, it will hit them harder than wealthier folks.

Global warming ravaging Mount Everest, sons of conquerors say

The sons of Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay told British newspaper The Independent that their fathers would no longer recognise the world's highest mountain, saying the base camp is now 40 metres (132 feet) lower than it was 53 years ago

..."Base camp used to sit at 5,320 metres. This year it was at 5,280 metres because the ice is melting from the top and side. Base camp is sinking each year," said Peter Hillary, who himself has twice reached Everest's summit.

Could this be the global-warming generation?

The "Live Earth" shows that start Saturday in Australia are meant to be more than a planetary party. Event founder Al Gore hopes they will kick-start a global civic crusade to combat climate change and to inspire individuals everywhere to do their part.

Will the event mark the debut of a "Global Warming Generation" – a significant shift in attitudes and behavior? Or will it simply be a fun, musical follow-up to Mr. Gore's film, "An Inconvenient Truth," that resonates little beyond the current advocates?

A new Round-Up has been posted at TOD:Canada.

Today's headlines lead with coverage of the on-going crisis in the debt markets, and an explanation of the financial engineering underlying much of the global liquidity bubble. Debt ratings have not been adjusted to reflect current market conditions, meaning that 'asset' valuations are over-stated. No institution wants to force asset sales for fear of revealing just how much real valuations differ from nominal ones, but eventually such a sale will occur - with the potential to cause an abrupt repricing of a wide range of 'assets' (many of which will actualy be revealed to be essentially worthless). Leverage will magnify the losses, leading to a very serious financial crisis. One estimate puts the potential losses, once assets are eventually marked to market, at 20 times the sum involved in the LTCM crisis in 1998 - so far, and getting worse by the day.

The Round-Up is also convering the Canadian energy scene, as well as environmental and international news, in that order. Oil companies leaving Venezuela and aiming for the oil sands are finding that all is not clear sailing, while China is entering the oil sands for the first time. Nunavut seeks control over future oil and gas revenues, NL wants to bypass Quebec in selling electricity to the US, and the slow down in natural gas drilling is hurting frontier communities in Alberta and BC.

There is a LaRouche link in there! Have you no shame? Have you no sense of decency, sir?

We live in times where LaRouche madness is matched by our current administration. Strange days indeed...

Chinese billionaire Li Ka-shing bought a controlling interest in Husky oil years ago. Since then there have been other Chinese interests in the oilsands. The Chinese tried to buy Noranda Mining but was blocked by the Canadian government in 2004. CNOOC of China bought MEG Energy in 2005 for its oilsands holdings. Some multinational oil companies owned oil and gas blocks in China.

Technically, that is, in a jurisdictional sense, Li Ka-shing is not a 'Chinese' billionaire but a Hong Kong SAR billionaire. The legal systems are entirely different. Hong Kong law is pretty much identical to English law, for obvious reasons.

It always galls me when people refer to Li Ka-shing as a 'Chinese' billionaire, unless they mean that designation in a simple ethnic sense. In political and economic terms, Li Ka-shing is a product of Hong Kong, not China.

It is not really right to raise Li Ka-shing and then talk about 'the Chinese'. It's like saying a Singaporean billionaire has bought something up, and then concluding that Beijing is on the march.

Hong Kong is no longer a British colony. It is under Chinese rule, although it retains some financial freedoms.

One factory in China paid a monthly wage of "900-2,500 yuan (US$118-$326)," 6/2007. That is more than the minimum wage. Company owners were able to pool capital and buy businesses abroad, including oilfields.


Husky Oil has Canadian oil sands leases and offshore conventional oil projects.

Utah consumers will sue big oil, we need volume compensation on gas pumps. Another make work project for lawyers and politicos.
I recall the thermal expansion coefficient for naphtha to diesel fluid range is around 950 to 1000 parts per million per deg C.
So an 18 degree F increase in temperature is about 1 % or about 1.28 ounces per gallon. Or 3 cents per gallon for $3.00 gas, so for 9 cents per gallon it requires 54 deg F rise or $9 dollar gas and an 18 deg F rise. IMO 20 gallon tank may vary by 10 to 20 cents with today’s prices.


Since pump calibration is based on 60 Deg F there is much more room for extra gas energy in the winter than for less gas energy in summer.
The mid point of 0 to 100 is not 60 Deg F. So the consumer is actually ripping off the retailer.

BTW: From upstream online 1206 GMT Brent 77.43, Bonny light 79.28, Tapis 78.20

One also suspects that the temperature of the gasoline as it comes out an underground storage tank to the pump is somewhat less than the ambient air temperature in the summertime.

IMO, this is a ridiculous lawsuit, but it shows how touchy people are getting about the whole gasoline situation...

This whole thing seems frivolous, but it's actually a blessing in disguise. If the industry loses, which it probably will given the public mood, they will have to install more expensive equipment in their pumps. This cost will be passed along to consumers as higher prices. Then, in the winter, the pumps will give people less gas, effectively raising the price again.

The best part is that it's consumers clamoring for higher prices. We just need a way to replicate this with a few hundred other small tweaks. Maybe next we can get the public to call for compensation for the loss of energy when the companies blend with ethanol. That should require more expensive equipment, and point out to people the lower energy content of ethanol.

'which it probably will given the current mood...' kjmclark I agree that this lawsuit is frivilous but I dont think our government gives a whit about 'our current mood' based on the commutation recently bestowed on Scooter. I believe that the prevailing mood was that Libby should spend a bit of time in the pokey, but it didnt happen.

Just another day in paradise watching the Atlantic for whirling dirvishes.

What you want as the driver is the lowest price per CALORIE of the fuel. To power a car, it's the calories in the fuel that count. A better measure of fuel economy would be miles per megacalorie or gigacalorie.

In the mean time, miles per unit MASS of the fuel is better. i.e. miles or kilometres per kilogramme. As we all know, diesel has more calories per kilo than gasoline and more so than ethanol. If you were to drive a Harrier, you'd want the fuel with the most calories per kilo. That way, you'd get the best range on a load of fuel, a "tank o' gas".

The lawsuit is a mixed blessing. As noted, if the litigant wins, the winter gas price will rise by some amount. But beware. The gas prices will stay high simply from the oil peak anyways. The suit is more academic than anything. The calorie difference from summer and winter with the present system is rather minimal. Using the car's A/C will make a bigger difference. The difference as I see it? 10 percent. Significant, but not earth-shattering.

Someone wants media attention with a political point. That seems to be the motive for the lawsuit. How he conjured up the fact that calories per key is the correct way to measure fuel use is anyone's guess. Maybe he is a dinkum pilot. Nobody knows.

Petrol prices high enough yet? Just wait!

This talk about volume compensation is silly. Don't they realize that if they make a gallon 1-2% bigger in the summer the gas stations will just charge 1-2% more for it?

Most gas is stored in underground tanks which are at the temperature of the surrounding ground. This is much closer to the 60 Deg F calibration temperature than the ambient air temperature of most hot climates. The same principal of cool ground temperatures allows ground source heat pumps to work efficiently. I doubt you would have much of a temperature difference from the 60 degree reference temperature to amount to anything. No legal case here.

"No legal case here."

True enough, except that this is the USA. A good legal position is not required, as we have a jury system, i.e. one which in especially in politicized civic cases works on cheap moronic sentiment and envy. And in this matter, both are in limitless supply.

"tanks...at the temperature of the surrounding ground."

I very seriously doubt it. The ground is often an excellent insulator, and there will be a void space of some sort between the tank and the 'secondary containment.' So I doubt that gas delivered to a modern high-volume station that sells it out in a day or two would ever reach "cave temperature". However, I haven't stuck any thermometers down into tanks, so I will await the "investigation" to tell us at ludicrous expense.

The real point is that any difference will rarely exceed a couple of cents, and the posted price will adjust to compensate, leaving little effect on the 'consumer'. But the cosseted monopolists - the lawyers and the manufacturers of massively overpriced "certified" equipment - will laugh all the way to the bank.

Some gasoline will be in the line close to surface before you start to pump, buy your gas early in the morning before it gets hot and you might save a little. If you remove things stored in your car that are not essential, you get better mileage with less of a weight load.

"Saudi Aramco To Sell Crude to the US At Lower Price"

Sounds like Europe needs to bomb someone...

I always thought there was one world price for a particular oil, or if there were any differentiation it was down to the cost of delivery (which would be cheaper for Europe).

So where is this difference coming from, and which arm needs to be twisted to put it right?

I suspect it's a reflection of the U.S. refinery issues. It's a bottleneck, which means demand for crude is down in the U.S. (Since refineries are customers for crude.)

Good ol' supply and demand.

I dont think the price differential has anything to do with supply and demand.
SA needs protection from some of its neighbors and the US has probably made a point, during discussions with SA, of how much the war in Iraq is costing America and the fact that our presence in the area is a buffer against Al Queda and other potential adversaries of SA...as long as our troops dont tred on 'the holy land.'
After all, our huge military presence in the mid east is to control the oil flow from that region...we are not there to harvest the dates.
In regard to the price break for the US the word 'extortion' comes to mind.
There is a great deal of intelligence on this board but little in the way of street smarts.
Governments are nothing more than mafia writ large. Governments go to a great deal of trouble to maintain a monopoly on violence and from that monopoly springs all other powers of governments. To paraphrase Mao...power comes from the barrel of a gun...

The U.S. is Saudi's best customer. Doesn't it make sense they would cut us a deal ? If you drink at the same pub for 30 years, every day, its nice to have the bartender slip you a complimentary beverage once in a while, no?

According to the BP statistical review, the inter-area movements from the middle east to Europe and the US were 3.208mbpd and 2.276mbpd respectively. Doesn't say how much was from which country - but it would appear there's a good chance that Europe imports ~50% more from the region than the US.

That's a fair amount of product that they can shift over to their best customer, the U.S.A.!

But not by much.

Japan, who they cut exports to this spring, was their 2nd best, according to 2005 data.

"US 16.4%, Japan 16.1%, South Korea 9.1%, China 6.9%, Singapore 5.1%, Taiwan 4.2% (2005)"


And it is not our best supplier for crude:

"During the first five months of 2005, Saudi Arabia exported 1.57 million bbl/d of oil (of which 1.51 million bbl/d was crude) to the United States. For this time period, Saudi Arabia ranked fourth (after Canada, Mexico, and Venezuela) as a source of total (crude plus refined products) U.S. oil imports, and third for crude only."


"Saudi Arabia is eager to maintain and even expand its market share in the United States for a variety of economic and strategic reasons. During the first five months of 2005, Saudi Arabia's share of U.S. crude oil imports was 14.9 percent, up from 13.9 percent during the first five months of 2004 "


Any more recent data appreciated.

Are you suggesting that SA would do us a favor for past protection that we have afforded them? What is past is a wash. Governments take actions based on what is in the deal for themselves or how it will effect their interests. There are no free drinks.

Of course. The U.S. (including the UK) is in the best position to protect their good friends over there (like the Saudi Royals), aren't they?

Actually, this may make a strange kind of sense, though it has little to do with economics.

Iraq is a disaster area, and the Saudis realize that the only effective counterweight to the Iranians creating a Shia protectorate (with considerable oil reserves) is American military forces.

Second, the U.S. and the House of Saud have a very long relationship, and to the extent the House of Saud can prop up its friends, it is in the House of Saud's interest to do so. Especially these days, as some of the arms trade corruption involving the British means that London is looking less attractive now. (And being completely cynical, it wouldn't surprise me much if the Bush League is working hard at making that such corruption cases stay off the radar of American justice.)

Further, the Europeans do seem to be price sensitive - higher oil prices lead to reduced demand. If production is stalling (this may be the preferred term for 'decline' in the near future), then it makes long term sense to make sure that a prime customer remains a prime customer as long as possible. Especially if another long term customer is already heading in the 'wrong' direction.

And if the dollar continues to decline, it may be a wash for both the Saudis and Europeans/Asians.

This indicates that oil is moving out of a purely economic framework in my eyes, since at least in theory, oil is fungible - or it used to be.

The point about refineries is certainly not incorrect - but if there is a refining bottleneck, why reduce the price? At least in part, this may be a way for gasoline imported from Europe to mask actual price increases in the U.S., deflecting blame from the Saudis.

Yep, that's the critical bit. If oil is moving from truely fungible to politically driven availability and pricing, then its an indicator we are moving from one playing field (artificial supply constraint) to another (political supply management).

That's an indicator of the first transition point, where demand first exceeds physical supply. The players are getting ready for the new game.

Oil has never been truly fungible, though. It's certainly far more so than natural gas, but it's still dependent on infrastructure. That's why prices are higher in Europe and Asia.

This is true, but there may be a couple of moves being played on the chessboard.

To an extent, Europe is a middleman, and earns a bit of money selling refined products across the Atlantic.

The Saudis, for a number of reasons, are getting into the refining business, and discouraging a competitor from investing in additional heavier refining capacity makes decent sense.

Crude isn't perfectly fungible - but diesel, heating oil, gasoline, etc. are.

I think it can be explained by infrastructure limits and the Saudis' desire to maximize their profits.

I don't think they're trying to discourage Europe. They are just charging more in Europe because they can. The Europeans will sell the refined products to us, and they're not going to be losing money on the deal.

Also, since the US crude inventory is so high, demand here should be lower so even offering a lower price to US buyers doesn't affect much because they are already "full". In other words, the lower price is a largely symbolic gesture that won't really impact KSA's bottom line very much but which might buy some good will with the US public. US crude inventories are building faster than refineries are producing product causing a steady net build in crude for the last several months. That cannot go on forever and KSA may be guessing there isn't much storage space left in the US.

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

US crude inventories are building faster than refineries are producing product causing a steady net build in crude for the last several months.

With all this excess crude couldn't the U.S. take advantage of the situation to refill the SPR?

That 'symbolic' part escaped me - it may be the simplest explanation. Giving a price break to a customer who can't really take advantage it is a clever trick.

Well, the certainly aren't trying to discourage the U.S. from buying Saudi crude, that seems clear.

But like a comment a few days ago about sterling exchange rates in terms of Brent pricing, this Saudi price shift is meaningless when viewed through an exchange rate lens - the euro has appreciated more against the dollar than the price differential, making this a bit harder to explain.

Though one off the cuff explanation is that the Saudis are one of the last sources left to sponge up all the dollars floating around.

Things are beginning to bounce around.

I cannot argue the ins and outs of the oil market as others do here. But from a geopolitical standpoint one cannot but be highly suspicious. I'll never forget an WSJ guest editorial several years ago, before the Iraq invasion, by a top military guy here: he advocated invading KSA and taking their oil and redistributing it for the common good. (Yeah right.) Point being, KSA is a protectorate but is also under the gun. Since the bog down in Iraq, they have shown signs of getting uppety, making oil deals with 'authoritarian' consumers and the like.

Fungible, shmungible. Yes, there are oil markets. But today's geopolitics are entirely about NOT leaving the control of the oil supply to the market. Get real. :)

The great game is changing from limit poker to table stakes. SA has a notoriously weak military so they need us to keep the bad guys at bay. Thanks davebygolly.

China will soon be able to provide the same service with better terms.


That will occur only when it becomes commonly understood by China and Saudi Arabia that there is no substitute for infantry - which America is, generation by generation, losing its ability to produce. The infantryman can fight on offense or defense, in trenches, deserts, and above all in cities. The Iraqi infantryman has proven far more dangerous as a disgruntled, unemployed insurgent than he ever did as a cog in a poorly-operated machine. If China proclaimed that its oil operations in Iran were a vital national interest, it would have the right to negotiate with Tehran the sending of Chinese troops to defend the fields - which would create an interesting problem for the US. But it would be more interesting to take infantrymen and train them to be oil field workers, put them in unmarked overalls, and send them to Iran - while not denying that they're really soldiers.

I think the presence of American troops in 130 countries, besides being insane and a threat to our republic, is based on a fallacy about how dependable we would be for all these "allies" if we got into a manpower crunch. Look for a new sort of cheap Chinese import to countries that need to deter invasion.

If anything the Iraq mess should make Saudi Arabia sleep better tonight. We have demonstrated that we don't want and can't handle absolute control.

If you are given a choice between being a Chinese puppet or an American "strategic partner" which would you choose?

Although the USA has had it's share of puppets and pet dictators, we always have left them with a sizable amount of control about what happens in their country.

The communist tend to favor absolute control. Plus SA views us as a know quantity. Who knows what the Chinese would do with all those troops once they are in SA? We on the other hand, have already left SA once.

If I was running SA I would view us as the lesser of two evils. While viewing Europe as a toothless tiger unwilling to fight.

The CHINESE Communist has always had a very clear understanding of where China ends. All the land they attempt absolute control over were lands that prior Chinese rulers claimed were Chinese, even if the West disputes the claim. The Chinese did not act in North Korea or North Vietnam as occupiers or demand absolute control. They did not put troops in 130 countries like us. They sent God knows how many advisers to Africa in the old days, and then they left because the new watchword was profit. When Africa got oil, they came back. Now they are accused of not doing enough to curb the tyrannical excesses of the governments they support.

Given that both America and China are now motivated solely by greed, I would note that America now makes a living off of the domination of rigged global financial institutions (like the OPEC dollar deal), exportation of culture and high-profit pop-culture garbage, and cheap foreign labor. China actually makes things for a living, like the old, good America. America is now threatened whenever someone sets fire to a McDonalds, because it is an attack on our dogma that freedom = consuming like an American. Our corporations can only replicate their stateside success by having a growing world of consumers who think like Americans and go into debt like Americans. How is this to be accomplished except by the extermination of all competing belief systems worldwide?

My impression is that the Chinese will do business with anybody and everybody without interfering in the internal affairs of those countries. That's why the Chinese are searching for oil in Darfur and not giving a damn what the Sudanese government does there. And the same in Angola.

From a 3rd world dictator's point of view China is probably preferable to the US as a business partner.

Why do you think we have bases in Afghanistan?

Tactical nukes can offset some pretty big differences in troop numbers.

So much for marching overland...

Canaries in the Coal Mine

Below is a list of countries with reported energy shortages occurring within the past few months. Pretty amazing when you see the number of places around the world that are being affected right now. While Americans and Europeans may grumble about paying more to fill up their comfortable vehicles, a lot of people in poorer areas are sweltering in heat, freezing in the cold, reading by candlelight, and having trouble getting to work, if their place of work is still in operation. We are just beginning to see the early demand destruction that will surely accelerate as fossil fuels start to become supply constrained.

Asia and Middle East

Nepal Gasoline and diesel
Pakistan Natural gas and electricity
Iraq Gasoline
Iran Gasoline
Bangladesh Electricity
Sri Lanka Gasoline
Philipines Electricity
China Electricity
India Electricity
Viet Nam Electricity


Uganda Electricity
Zimbabwe Gasoline and diesel
Ghana Electricity
Nigeria Gasoline
Senegal Electricity
Liberia Electricity
Kenya Gasoline and diesel
Gambia Gasoline and diesel


Argentina Natural gas and electricity Diesel
Nicaragua Electricity
Chile Natural gas and electricity
Costa Rica Electricity
Dominican Republic Electricity

Terrific list and links, Solaris, thank you very much! (That was a lot of work!)

Great list, thanks! It would be even more useful if changes could be tracked over time. I'm picturing something like a 14 x 14 grid with each square being a nation. Each square would be colored green, yellow or red depending on energy shortage status. Sort of like a Go board.

Hey, I like the idea of a color coded grid. Or, how about a map of the world with colors and links for all countries. Kind of like the gas buddy Gas Temperature Map but with news story links.

Thanks, Solaris!

What about using a framework similar to the one used by this website?


click to enlarge

Also, at the bottom of this website there is a section on "Oil Gas Infrastructure - Incidents / Threats/ News"

This is strangely sick.

Like watching the Titanic sink from your own private porthole.

Or, like watching an instant replay of the 9/11 disaster in slo-mo. Imagine the cockpit view. Now, slow the instant replay to .1X speed or slower.

As the hijacker/driver drives, the plane smashes in, and in a slo-mo view, you'd get to see offices with people turning heads as you smash in. People will scream as they run, even as you hold onto that damn flight yoke. The fuel in the wings forms a molotov. The office is torched on Floor 66. Chances are, you were slammed forward and you are unconcious. Then the diesel in the plane catches fire.

The building burns and later falls down due to a design flaw. The design flaw was the thing with a core and load bearing walls. A normal skyscraper is designed with a design like "monkey bars". This is the normal Chicago way to design a skyscraper. Someone decided on a design for the WTC that was out of that design method. The design will work in wind, but on plane hits. The result was two plane hits that knocked down BOTH buildings.

Hope you enjoy my 9/11 description!

Petrol prices high enough yet? Just wait!

While it is perfectly possible to do, the real trick is in automatically extracting and presenting the news stories so that someone doesn't have to do it by hand. Otherwise it becomes a real drain on time.

The map, and overlaying the data, is easy.

Great list. This would be a good list to maintain as a way of tracking the march of oil depletion. Maybe the month/year could be included. Great work. Perhaps, we should keep one in for the US only by states where gas/diesel fuel has been in short supply.

You can also add:

Albania Electricity

And maybe the rest of Europe soon? Get ready for Liberalisation (soon to arrive in your city).

As long as sudden knockout of two big nukes does not have any impact, it is unlikely that we will see brownouts soon.

There is liberalisation, but also regulation. Europe is not California, I hope.

The prospects are not good, and I'm still not seeing indications that the EU idiocrats will put a stop of this madness.

The electricity distribution in the city where I studied (Varna, Bulgaria) was bought by EON a couple of years ago. The period was enough for the operator to achieve both higher prices and total degradation of the service. Just a small example of what happens when mindless 'reformers' get their way.

True - Europe is not California yet, but it soon may become like it. We will get our share of Enron's - you can count on it.

Europe gets a lot of its energy resources from Russia. And Russia is a tad peeved that the US is going to put missiles in Europe. Again. I seem to recall the last time we did this it "worked out well for the US" (short-term anyway...). But push a few buttons in Russia and Europe starts to go dark pretty quick.

Yes, we get both oil and NG from Russia, but we don't use them for electricity. There were plans to replace some coal fired with NG fired power plants, not going to happen now.

The NG is used for heating, and heating we need. But R-49 walls are required for new buildings, and there will be lots of efforts to improve the insulation of old buildings. That will reduce the gas usage over time.

We use oil for heating and mobility, and for mobility we will need it for quite a long time, but more than half of the Germans live in urban areas, they don't need cars, and they will stop driving so much when it gets too expensive.

Then, Russia is currently building a new NG pipeline to Germany, all around Poland, where the US want to put the missiles. For the time being, Russia, and especially Gazprom, needs our Euros. That might change, but we still have quite some time.

If Merkel does what she says, there is hope.

I don't think that the EU is the problem. The EU wants to make sure that the utilities don't exploit the fact that the power grids are natural monopolies. How that is done, is up to the countries.

Denmark has nationalized the grid, in Germany we have a regulation office. Both methods comply with EU directives.

You've performed a great service with that list you compiled. Thanks very much.



I myself regard shortages of electricity to be much more debilitating than shortages of transportation fuels. Have you organized any information on the causes for the electricity shortages on the list? I know that some of the African shortages are due to drought restricting production of hydro power, and that some of the smaller Asian countries are having shortages because they can't afford diesel fuel at the current higher prices. China seems to be short simply because demand is growing faster than they can grow their supplies -- they are putting in dams, wind, nukes and coal at a furious pace.

I have to wonder how much more helpful it would have been for the developing world if we had done the research and engineering that would allow us to offer them solar-thermal generation (which, unlike PV, was already practical 30 years ago) or small proliferation-resistant nukes. An extra 100 MW is a drop in the bucket for the US or Europe, but could make an enormous difference in a small African country.

This is great. Yesterday I started a blog devoted to this:


I'm just linking to MSM stories.

I was giving this a lot of thought yesterday and was struggling with an operational definition of energy shortages. Just to get the blog started I decided that the story had to come from the MSM or government source, had to be fairly wide spread (for example there was a story about pumps running dry in Swaziland but it seemed to be local and temporary), and had to be actually occuring (there was a story about Fiji having some troubles but it was just being reflected in pump prices).

What do you folks think would be a good operational definition for this sort of thing?

Nice work. How about an energy implode-o-meter here at TOD?

Triumvirate of collapse - Economy, Ecosystem, Energy

Bulgaria and the entire region it's in. Here comes the Electric Export Land Model.

Bulgaria no longer exports enough energy after the closure of Kozloduy nuclear power plant units. At the same time energy consumption increases, Areva said.

According to EU predictions Southeastern Europe will suffer energy shortage by 2008 to 2010.

National electricity company (NEC) head Lyubomir Velkov said that the country will not face energy problems in 2007. Whether the country will have to import energy in 2008 depended on consumption, Velkov said.

See also: Project delays, new eco norms tilt Bulgaria into power shortage Date: June 3.

The delays dogging the rehabilitation of thermal power plants (TPPs) Maritsa Iztok 2 and 3 and the required transposition of European harmful emission standards have Bulgaria on track for an electricity shortfall in 2008, Mardik Papazian, executive director of national power grid operator NEK, told the International Energy Forum underway in Varna.

The EU directive on large combustion installations that will be enforced here from 2008 will shut down one unit at the Bobov Dol TPP and the units in the Maritsa Iztok basin that have not been issued integrated pollution prevention and control permits.

Maritsa Iztok 3, a project commissioned to Italy's Enel, is 3 years behind schedule while the delay at Maritsa Iztok 2, a project farmed out to Japan's Mitsui, is a year off schedule.

Only two units each will remain in use at the two power stations in 2008 because the rest do not have sulphur dioxide removal equipment, said Papazian. That would reduce the capacity of the energy system by 4 bln kWh.

NB: the -strongly interconnected- region has historically had low consumption, and is fast trying to play catch-up. Ain't gonna happen. Which in turn may signal the first true cracks in the EU.

Haiti, too. There's an article in todays NY Times about the UN delivering $300,000 worth of oil as a humanitarian thing, and an article on IPS News.Net, June 6 about how Haitians cant afford fuel. Bob Ebersole

Just heard, very fleeting, on CNBC, that one reason oil is so high today was that Statoil was shipping far fewere barrels for August. Then nothing more.

I don't know what they meant by "for August' but I assume they meant for August delivery, or for the August contract time frame. The August WTI contract expires in two weeks, I am not sure when the Brent contract expires, or other contracts.

It is interesting to note, that as of yesterday, all contracts across the board are above $70.00. Bonny Light and Louisiana Sweet are both above $79.00


Just heard it again on CNBC, but this time it was Brent. They said, "Supply constrants with Brent Crude are driving Brent prices higher and this is spilling over onto the WTI contract". Not their exact words but close enough.

Ron Patterson

Statoil Plans Maintenance at Its Statfjord Oilfield in August

By Alexander Kwiatkowski

July 6 (Bloomberg) -- Statoil ASA, Norway's biggest oil company, plans maintenance next month at its Statfjord oilfield in the North Sea, said three traders with knowledge of the schedule.

Around six cargoes of 855,000 barrels, the equivalent of 165,484 barrels a day, are expected to load in August, said one of the traders.

The so-called Statfjord area, which is fed by six fields, typically produces around 295,000 barrels a day, according to Statoil's Web site. That would translate to more than 10 cargoes in a 31-day month.

A spokeswoman for Statoil in Stavanger, Norway, said she wasn't able to immediately comment.

Last Updated: July 6, 2007 06:46 EDT


Thanks Charles, that explains it. It is often hard to figure out what those fleeting comments on CNBC mean. Now we know they were talking about planned maintenance, by Statoil, in August.

Of course the maintenance season is approaching in all other North Sea areas. This will further constrain supply until things return to normal in September or October. Of course the "normal level" will be at a much lower level than it was last fall.

Ron Patterson

Is all this repair and refit anything out of the ordinary, or is it business as usual? Does it only make news because supply is already tight?

If you look at the EIA figures for North Sea production you will see that there is always a downward blip over the period July-Aug-Sept (approx), which correlates with annual maintanace. This is when the Sea is calmest and weather conditions the best so it is the obvious time for such work. I can't really see why this is being thrown up by the MSM as a reason for the price spike (unless the work this time is particularly disruptive).
The work in the UK fields will pull the average monthly production down significantly from where it is now, so for 2007 we will see, despite the much hyped Buzzard field coming on line, that production will once again fall year on year, and that the UK will again be a net importer for 2007.

Right, this maintenance is simply business as usual. A spike down happens every summer. But it is news now because the supply is so tight. Everyone is looking at next month to see if there is going to be any relief but they see instead, tighter supply.

When there is ample supply no one pays any attention to this pipeline going down or that platform being taken down because of routine maintenance. But in times of severe supply shortage everything is news. Every blip becomes a headline.

That is simply what happens when there is no spare capacity and demand exceeds supply. It is known as Peak Oil.

Ron Patterson

208 Million Riders Make Year a Record

A record number of customers rode Metrorail in the fiscal year that ended in June, marking the second time in the system's 31-year history that more than 200 million people went through the fare gates, officials said yesterday.

It was the 11th consecutive year that ridership on the rail system increased. Also, more people rode the subway during June than during any other month in Metro's history. Officials attribute the increase to good weather, Washington Nationals baseball games and high gas prices.

It should be noted that Washington Metro did this with a shortage of rolling stock. New deliveries were slowed by problems and some older cars were taken out of service for refurbishing/mid-life upgrades.

I think 40% of DC commuters now take rail or bus to work (was 4% in 1970).

Best Hopes,


If any American city should be able to make transit work, it should be Washington DC. Besides the near-constant horrendous traffic, they have a large number of federal office workers.

My brother-in-law gets reimbursed for taking a commuter bus from Frederick to Bethesda and I'm sure other federal workers get reimbursed for taking Marc, Metro and RideOn (or whatever it is called now). I suspect a lot of these are office workers that either don't need a vehicle at work or can use a fleet vehicle when necessary. I suspect most of them have generous flextime, like my brother-in-law.

The DC Metro is paid for fully with Federal Tax dollars, no?

Riding it was my first Subway experience outside of Boston or NYC and I stared in wonder at the immaculate, brand new stations, state of the art turnstile system, and carpeted rail cars.

My father-in-law, who works for the T in Boston, noted the cleanliness, cordial ridership, and general lack of "punks" in the system. He attributed it to people treating nice infrastructure with care (opposed to trashing something that is already trashed).

More tax dollars to public transit please.

The DC Metro is paid for fully with Federal Tax dollars, no?

No, the Metro was paid for with local (multiple jurisdictions), state (2 states, DC), and federal dollars. Operations are funded about 50% by fares and the rest by local and state dollars. There is no dedicated source of funding so each jurisdiction has to be asked to contribute each cycle.

I think it stays clean because it closes fairly early and can undergo nightly maintenance. Also, there is a zero-tolerance policy for eating or drinking anything in the metro system. They will throw your ass in jail.

Depending on how one accounts for mixed rail-bus riders, MetroRail covers 80% to 90% of their operating costs and MetroBus is HEAVILY subsidized (less than 25% of operating costs from fares).

Install the 40 miles of streetcars that DC has planned (no money) and the overall #s should improve. Lower density "feeders" are needed for Rapid Rail (until everyone lives within walking or bicycling distance of a station).

Diesel bus service is going to suffer post-Peak Oil, we need to build non-oil transportation alternatives.

Best Hopes for Non-Oil Transportation.


I'm with you, but it will be a while for electrification. many of the buses I see run past my house are natural gas powered - that while cleaner are even more scary from an energy sustainability perspective. Especially in the winter when natural gas spikes and I'm competing with the buses to heat my home.

On Columbia Pike in Arlington they are taking a HEAVILY utilized bus corridor and making into electrified light rail. It's tough convincing some that this is a wise use of funds since the buses are already highly utilized, but it is happening.

They should take the natural gas, burn it for electricity throwing 60% of the energy away in the process, and then run the buses off the electricity.

NG is best as a direct source of heat, maybe cooking too.

Anything else is extravagant.

But, that's the way the cookie crumbles.

co-generation works well with ng, too.

Its probably much better used for hydrogenation of longer chain hydrocarbons and coal in synthetic fuel production.

Can anyone else comment on weather there are plans/existing plants for using natural gas to upgrade coal or bitumen? It seems that that is the natural route, but I usually see people using the water shift reaction for hydrogen production in coal liquefaction schemes.

Is the gas too far from market?

I'll answer your last question since it is the only one I can. Methane coexists with coal and is a serious hazard in coal mines. They are drilling for coal gas in Wyoming.

Nitpick: In combined cycle power plants, natural gas generation is roughly 60% efficient, whereas I would imagine natural gas internal combustion engines on busses are maybe 25%. True, you lose some percentage on transmission, but if they're trollybusses its more efficient.

Most of the power is coal, nuclear, and hydro (80%) anyway.

In california the electricity is half natural gas, quarter hydro, quarter nuclear. It is illegal to burn coal here. For the USA as a whole, half of electricity is from coal. Coal is a serious pollution source.

The first generation of nuclear plants were uneconomical. I don't know what we are capable of today but I do note that nobody is building a nuke in the USA and hasn't for the last thirty years. All the good hydro sources are taken. We can't expand our hydropower production.

Solar power is economical in the southern california desert. Wind is economical on the great plains. Both are ramping up at 33% a year from zero currently. They are both capacity driven meaning we are installing them as fast as we can produce new turbines and new PV panels.

Ok, we are currently producing 80% of our power from coal, hydro, and nuclear which isn't relevent. How do we produce an incremental kilowatt that we aren't already using right now? The only possibilities are high pollution coal and natural gas.

As for Clean Coal, I'll quote Mahatma Ghandi comment on what he thought of Western Civilization. "I think it would be a good idea". It doesn't exist right now and frankly I think it is a stalking horse for Big Coal. I think the coal fired generators that are grandfatherred from having to meet the Clean Air Act of 1970 should be given a date to comply or shut down.

I do note that nobody is building a nuke in the USA and hasn't for the last thirty years

TXU (Texas Utilities) ordered two 1.7 GW (world's largest) nuclear power plants from Mitsubishi a few months ago. Completion dates 2015-2020.


Good luck to TXU. Orderred isn't the same as building as every nuke orderred after 1973 was cancelled. We used to have four domestic suppliers of nuclear power plants: GE, Westinghouse, Babcock & Wilson, and I forget but somebody will know. I guess that's yet another field that is going to widen the trade deficit.

I'm not anti-nuke. I think nukes will supply the baseline load and solar electricity the peaking power. Wind and hydro where available. What other choice do we have?

I think the TXU nukes will be built, but not on time or on budget. The electrical island of Texas burns natural gas 24 hours/day (and 365 days/year I think). This will not change dramatically by 2020 (unless we have another Dust Bowl or Great Depression).

So nuke will compete against NG economics (and perhaps against coal at 3 AM in the spring). Hard to lose in that one with a nuke.

Best Hopes for Wind and Nuke,


Nukes can't win against NG, at least not short-term. The capital investment for nukes is so much higher compared to NG that nukes are not commercially viable, unless subsidized.

Nuke: 2000$/kW, NG (CC): 750$/kW.


Operating cost differences (fuel) can overcome the delta in capital cost is a few years of 24 hour/day operation. The more expensive NG gets, the quicker nuke economics win out.

At $8 NG and 60% efficiency, NG combined cycle costs 13.33 cents per kWh in fuel. At $16, 26.67 cents/kWh.

At 8,760 hours/non-leap year, $16 NG costs $2,336 per kW per year to run. (Half that at $8 NG).


I'm not going to get in an arguement with you over what will or will not happen ten years from now, particularly since we are more alike than different. Orderring isn't building. I sincerely wish TXU and Mitsubishi the best of luck but it isn't up to them. They now go through the decade(s) long process of licensing and court challenges.

California has even more expensive NG than Texas, and more ominously not enough of it. Coal is banned here even at three in the morning. Nobody even thinks of putting up another nuke here. Diablo Canyon was the last nuke in the country to go online, orderred in 1972 and completed (its court challenges) in 1984. They are still in court because someone doesn't think their nuclear waste is terrorist proof enough. But they can't ship it to Yucca mountain either. Personally, I don't think even a suicide terrorist wants to die a slow death from radiation poisoning but it isn't up to me.

A proposed LNG terminal was denied on the basis that it would emit some small quantity of greenhouse gases whenever the methane leaked. These are the guys who built a light rail system I can outwalk bad heart and all. I got solar panels on my roof and if the blackouts get bad enough I can spend 10 grand more on electronics and batteries but there's no need to do that now.

The system works very good. The Metrobus is also heavily used. Once you figure the bus system out, its almost better than the rail at least as far as getting you to places like Georgetown.

Federal workers do receive some subsidy for rail, but they also receieve a subsidy for driving in the form of free or paid for parking (usually). I'm with a private employer and we subsidize driving by paying the $80/month parking fee (we are in Arlington). The people who commuted from DC complained because they mostly metro to work (many don't own cars) and so we also starting subsidizing that (up to the amount of parking). I walk to work so I get nothing :(

Most people don't need a car at work, because they are generally office people, there are about 100 places to walk to for lunch or shopping (for office supplies etc) and anywhere you want to go you can get to by bus, rail, taxi, or car-share.

One of my gripes with Metro is that some of their suburban stations are so surrounded by highways and loopy access roads as to be virtually inaccessible by foot or bike. They built I-370 just to get to Shady Grove Station from I-270.

Many office workers are expected to drive to attend meetings on short notice. I never know when I'll need a car. I have gone months driving only once, yet I keep my car in a nearby lot just in case I am asked to measure a site, attend a meeting or even transport a client somewhere.

Yes, many of the Fairfax, VA and some of the Maryland stations were built as park and rides, which is really stupid. some of the Maryland stations have really been upgraded to TOD recently.

Yes, if your job requires you to travel unexpectedly to non-proximate, non-transit locations your choice is limited to personal vehicle. Although here we also have the alternatives of taxi and car-share (zipcar and flexcar).

A VERY valid compliant about several of the Metro stations.

The last to be built Green Line stations seem slightly better to the visitor.

Best Hopes for Dual Mode Non-Oil Transportation (bike/walk & electric rail),


On "Abundant oil":

Sir, I'm afraid this article misstates what "peak oil" is.

It is not a statement about oil in the ground, although the "industry" hacks would certainly like you to think this.

"Peak oil" describes the rate of FLOW of liquid fuels from reservoirs. The growth of that flow has come to an end, and a permanent decline should begin soon.

There is no way to definitively predict the when and how of production RATE decline, but it is as certain world wide as it was for the US in 1970.

All the tar, shale and Orinoco sludge in the world cannot FLOW at the same rate as conventional light, sweet crude from pressurized reservoirs.
Posted by Mike Bendzela on July 6, 2007 08:30 AM

I don't know why I keep doing this.

Because, although it's a tiresome job, someone has to do it. More properly, lots of us need to do it. It's about FLOW, not STOCKS. The rate of decline in the FLOW is the critical determinant in whether we get DieOff's catastrophe or Amory Lovins' utopia. And, pretty much, we're all in this together: in a catestrophic outcome, I don't think there's a lot of hope that those retreating into the wilderness to practice self-sufficiency will be able to hold out against the hordes.

I am organizing my own horde now. Motorcycles and crossbows, . . . you have to hand it to Madd Max. We're off to prey on the unprepared ones to grab their gas--and get their liquor and women and ammo too.

Ancient Chinese curse: May your children live in interesting times.

You are forgetting about snipers. You won't even know they are there until the bullet explodes in your skull...

Burn wood and you'll be found by the smoke. Fire a gun and they will know you are out there. Grow crops and the marauding demons on horseback will take it all, including your kids. Remember the opening scenes of Conan the Barbarian where the quiet village is laid waste by the killers. No man is an island, especially as the sea level rises.

E. Swanson

Reality denies your assertion, sir. Snipers in Iraq have not killed all the US forces, have they? Snipers in Somalia have not killed all the warlords and their forces, have they? Snipers in Chechnya have not killed all the Russian forces, have they? Snipers in Argentina did not kill people growing food or trading during the recent economic collapse there, did they?

You seem to assume that anyone organizing cannot organize at least as well as any mindless horde of "mutant zombie bikers" or whatever your favorite fantasy of the moment is.

In reality, many communities will become de facto militias in their own right and attack on any member will be seen as an attack on the group. Your sniper may get one or two of the group but the group will get your sniper almost certainly. This has been true wherever people had to organize into militias (or other private armies) during the loss of government, such as Lebanon, Somalia, Nicaragua, Argentina, etc.

You use a fantasy movie, Conan, as your reference point for real world survival? Wow. Just wow. I think that says it all. I would suggest that you might join the National Guard or a state militia to get a teensy bit of real military training before you come to ridiculous conclusions. Don makes his case with humor but he is correct in assuming that he will be a member of a group that, in addition to its other survival activities, will attempt to assume the role of superior firepower in their own area of operations. And that is definitely doable in most cases.

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

While I understand what you mean, I just want to point out that snipers can be pretty nasty, or efficient, depending on which side you're on. A compatriot of mine called Simo Häyhä reputedly killed at least 542 soldiers of the Red Army in WWII, with an average of five kills a day, a record nobody has ever come close to:


But I know this isn't exactly what you meant.

Conan the Barbarian on Viagra ! The Doomer cultists strike again! Don, you forgot poison darts dipped in curare and shot with a blowgun, flashing scimitars to chop people's heads with as your biker gang swoops down, and boomerangs to knock other bikers off their bikes.
Bob Ebersole

And the autogyro; we need some air forces for modern day brigandage and piracy. All of Minneosota's 10,000 lakes will be controlled by Sailorman's fleet of fast sailboats under the Black Flag--or maybe the Jolly Roger; a few details remain to be worked out. We shall dominate the heartland of America by sending flatboats down the Mississippi and keelboats up the rivers . . . oh my do I ever have plans;-)

I would like to enlist as a brigand.

I already have a crossbow pistol, can shoot equally well with both hands, and am an excellent marksman.

In fact I'm pretty sure I have a pirate flag around here somewhere. (got it from a surplus store, so it only has the skull and cross bones on one side.)

I've also been working on my maniacal laughter and saying argh.

Always remember that peak oil, global warming, earthquakes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters are a direct effect of the shrinking numbers of pirates since the 1800s


It's not as simple as that. One might organize a militia in a strong community with the best of intentions, but then get overwhelmed by larger events.

My primary example of this was the old Shiite militias in rural Iraq that fought Saddam Hussein and then endured his counterattack. The proof that they still existed came in August 2004, when a British military police unit in southern Iraq was carrying out obnoxious house-to-house searches under Occupation (American) orders. The locals warned the British to stop this. The British did not comply. The locals - all of them - dug up the many weapons they'd buried when Saddam Hussein defeated their uprising, went to the police station, beseiged it, and wiped out all the Britons. It was brutal, but it is the way communities have defended themselves against alien intrusions since before Lexington and Concord. The British, having learned a few things since 1775, did not retaliate, and changed their policies immediately.

The problem is, the resistance against the Occupation got bigger, and more urban. The urban militias do not behave like Minutemen. Their members are too young to have fought in the 1990 uprising. And worst of all, they are unemployed. They make a living off being gunmen, not farmers, and compete with other gunmen. This vast supply of unemployed teen gangbangers has completely transformed resistance, especially when some militias sniffed the opportunity to go on the offensive for profit. While their sheer numbers and enthusiasm has created a nightmare for the Occupation, they cannot stabilize the relationship between the many forces now infesting Iraq. They've even made it impossible for the political parties sponsoring them to do that. The old rural militias are now overwhelmed by the new guys and cannot impose their voice on the political parties.

The proof that they still existed came in August 2004, when a British military police unit in southern Iraq was carrying out obnoxious house-to-house searches under Occupation (American) orders. The locals warned the British to stop this. The British did not comply. The locals - all of them - dug up the many weapons they'd buried when Saddam Hussein defeated their uprising, went to the police station, beseiged it, and wiped out all the Britons.

Would you mind substantiating your claim? Records show that only 4 British troops died in Iraq in August 2004, and no more than 1 within any 48-hour period. Perhaps you simply got the date wrong, although fewer British troops died in each of the preceding and following months, and in the following two Augusts.

If you had looked one level higher in the thread, you might have noticed that I was replying to a posting about surviving by an individual in small group. Crossbows do little good against guns, until the primers are all gone. Even then, a single defender with a crossbow out in the open could be overwhelmed by a few horsemen with lances or sabers, although a one might die...

I'm sure that there will be other approaches by groups that work together for survival, as has been portrayed in the typical western or frontier movie. Of course, they are fantasy, but then, what else do we have but the written records of the winners? How well did the Amerindians survive against the advance of the horse soldiers?

As for the efficiency of the snipers in Iraq attacking U.S. forces, etc, recall that those guys typically use AK-47's, which are not intended for use with telescopes. They are assault rifles and are designed to produce lots of bullets in the general direction of the enemy and they aren't real accurate, since the average fellow using one isn't going to be in action very long. The success of the American snipers was much better, according to some reports, at least until the bad guys figured out their game plan. The American snipers have M-14's and .50 cal Barrett long range shoulder canons and good optics as well. Not to mention Gen III night vision equipment.

But hey, what do I know? I don't ride around in a HUMVEE.


Besides, one man's militia is another man's terrorist org.

E. Swanson

Don, you need a Scandanavian built double ender, convert it to haul lots of cargo, become a coastal trader under sail. No need for crossbows or motorcycles...er...If you are going to 'steal their women', it might be a good idea to steal their condoms as well. All coasting captains need at least one bawdy wench aboard...plus a keg of rum.

The Viking long ships and round ships were remarkably efficient rowboats with auxilliary sails. They were so light that that could be put on rollers (logs) and portaged between rivers. The long ships were ideal for war, piracy, and the round ships very good for trade. Piracy/trade/invasion all came naturally to my Danish ancestors--as did stealing women for company and wives.

And oh my will we ever raid for the most desirable women to keep in our harems . . . The others we'll sell as slaves. Peak Oil, bring it on! Arrrrrgghhhh . . . .

What annoys me the most about brain-dead articles like "Abundant Oil..." is when they accuse "Peak-Oilers", (or "Global-Warming enthusiasts", etc) of engaging in "wishful thinking". And this view is rampant. At its root it is an insult and an accusation that people who "think like this" are mentally ill.

I'm glad you do! I enjoyed reading that little bit of cornucopian fantasy, and all the replies like yours make the columnist look like an idiot! (Seems like many of the replies came from TOD DrumBeat readers!)

Don't try to predict the future. Get ready for it.

"Peak oil" describes the rate of FLOW of liquid fuels from reservoirs. The growth of that flow has come to an end, and a permanent decline should begin soon.

There is no way to definitively predict the when and how of production RATE decline, but it is as certain world wide as it was for the US in 1970.

All the tar, shale and Orinoco sludge in the world cannot FLOW at the same rate as conventional light, sweet crude from pressurized reservoirs.

-- This (or perhaps a condensed version omitting the 2nd sentence) should be a banner across the top of every oil & investing related site on the web.

Well said.

Keep saying it.

Did anyone else catch the inanity of this statement?

“The history of our industry is that technology and innovation win out over depletion,” Mark Finley, head of energy analysis for BP, told me last week.

No need to panic folks - Mark Finley says so.

Now if I could only appply this technology to my beer cooler in the boat here... should be an easy victory over depletion indeed =]

You could follow up Mr Finley's statement “The history of our industry is that technology and innovation win out over depletion,” with "but, it seems as though history is no guide to the near future."

Or some such thing...

Tom A-B


Now THAT is wishful thinking!

Imagine the spokesman for the California Gold-Mining Industry in 1860:

“The history of our industry is that technology and innovation win out over depletion. Which is why we've replaced goldpanners with giant water hoses to blast away all the riverbanks in Northern California to keep the Gold Rush going, and we're going to keep finding X million ounces a year until Judgment Day."

Thank God some unemployed goldpanners back then still remembered how to farm.

Re: I don't know why I keep doing this

Well, Mike, I've kept saying it over and over, but that has not ended the ceaseless arguing over stocks (reserves), the size of which are anybody's guess in many cases . Hence the arguments back and forth. Furthermore, it is the main argument used by CERA, ExxonMobil, the Saudis, and an almost endless series of fools (like the one you were responding to) who just take these "authoritative" sources' word for it that there's plenty of oil out there, so don't worry, be happy.. This is, of course, the assuaging news they need to hear — BP's economist says It's All Good, so why sweat?

Trying to explain to people that peak oil is about production rates — and the limits on them — and not volumetric estimates of conventional oil in the ground or other hydrocarbon resources, is indeed frustrating. Reserves must be there, of course, before you can produce any oil. But if your maximum rate is approximately X barrels per day under real-world geological, economic and technological conditions, then who cares if you are extracting from a reserve base of Y billion barrels, or Z billion barrels?

Whenever I ask myself your important question I try to remember that it's my job to do it — I don't recommend people being in this line of business if they are one of those personality types looking for a pat on the back or some other form of instant gratification. Swimming against the current always works this way. It really kinds of sucks, you know?

So, keep on doing it! Screw it! Somebody has to.

It's all the same with the housing bubble. The MSM still quote the realtors.

"It's a great time to buy!"
"Buy now, or you will be priced out forever!"
"House prices always go up!"

They kept saying this when vacant houses were at record levels, and probably pushed thousands into toxic ARMs they could not afford.

The best one I ever read was in a brochure that came to my place. In big bold letters:

It's a Buyers AND Sellers Market!

Isn't that the definition of a market.

LOL It must have taken some marketing types days to think of that! And when they finally told their boss what they had come up with, s/he must have said something along the lines of "why, I knew I could trust you guys to come up with something original, you wizards!"

I saw a new sign today on my way to work. Someone had put it up on their lawn. It said, "Owner financing! Lease to own! Bad credit no problem."

Doesn't all that mean that the MSM will still quote CERA even when it's obvious that the peak happened years before?

They will still say, no problem, oil is abundant, so that the government still invests in the wrong infrastructure, people keep buying the wrong cars?

That's what make me so sick.

From thehousingbubbleblog.com:

“Daryl in Tucson writes that a friend of his purchased a home from a builder there, and the builder lowered the price after the contract was signed. And Jeff writes from Central Valley, CA: ‘KB Homes has been building the same 8 houses for months now to make them look active and they also put ’sold’ signs in a few homes, problem is nobody ever moves in!’”

“I remember the clamor of demand, demand, demand. I reported on the new trend to the ‘ex-urbs’…that were supposedly the wave of the future. And I drove out to all the ‘adult active communities’ under construction, where all those baby boomers, desperate not to end up in the nursing home, would ‘age-in-place.’ I drank the ‘Kool-Aid;’ I’ll give you that.”

“But how could the builders–who’ve seen far more housing cycles in their company histories than I have in my reporting history– how did they not see this coming?”

The same questions will be asked to some oil companies.

Hi Leanan,
Next door to me is a bungalo, 3 br, 2 bath, but tiny rooms, no more than 1,000 sq.ft..A friend of mine owned it and sold it for $40,000 to a flipper named Juan last summer. He sold it over the internet to an "investor" who remodeled, sinking at least $50,000 in the house-new roof, plumbing, electricity, sheetrock and central a/c. The investor didn't watch her costs or supervise the work, so the plumbing, electric and roof all had to be redone. The house now has a sign "for lease, option to buy, 0 down" and the phone number leads back to Juan. I called , asked about price and got gobbuildygoop about $110,000, but will take $82,000 cash and help to find a mortgage company that will give 0 down.

On the other side of me is a big duplex, two two bedroom apts. of about 1,000 sq.ft. each, also owned by an "investor" of Juan's. Eric paid about $60K for the building, and has another $60k in fixing it up. He's another "no money down" investor, has a number of properties in Houston, I'm sure all over-leveraged. The remodeling contractor said he recieved his money on a loan based on the remodeled property, and the contractor has had to rush to meet lending deadlines, the mortgage company was lending $128,000 on the building. Eric plans to rent the duplex upstairs in the summer as vacation rentals and live downstairs.

Across the street are three vacant shotgun houses, purchased for $120,000 owner finance by a young couple as an "investment". They've made payments so far, but haven't done any remodeling and the houses are empty. The guy with the note says they've been making payments on time, but they have no income, only expenses on their investment. If one of them gets sick or laid off, they'll be in foreclosure.

House prices at least doubled in Galveston in the last 5 years, and everybody and their uncles bought houses like they were Beany Babies. I don't think I'm too badly hurt, I paid $79,500 for a three bedroom, two story and I can see the ocean. I bought the house to live in for the rest of my life, and the note,taxes, utilities and insurance are about 3 days of work a month at my day rate. Its about the same as I would pay for a nice 1 BR apt. in Houston, and I have securities I could sell to pay off the note. I've put about $15,000 into remodeling, but its all been out of cash flow, no borrowing.

I don't know whats come over people and lenders in this country-a mass hysteria that views a home, a consumer good as an investment. I'm guessing that of the 5 houses around me, they'll all get foreclosed when the economy tanks,and I can see the water rising.

Bob Ebersole

I don't understand these housing bubble concerns at all. Granted, I've made very little effort to understand it, but for what little I catch I don't see what the big fears are about.

O.K., so housing prices appreciated too fast and are now higher than people can afford to buy them. What will be the result? Presumably prices will drop, perhaps even crash.

So what? If I live in a $300K house now, and it's value drops to $150K, how does that hurt me? If I stay where I am, what's the difference how much the house I'm living in is worth on paper? If I'm going to sell and move, yes, I'll only get half as much for my house. But the next house I buy instead should cost only half as much as well, so no harm done.

It seems the main people it would hurt are speculators who just bought the house as an investment, not to live in. Everyone else will just be selling one house to buy another. The speculators caused the price run up, and they are the ones at risk for being burned by it in my view.

Then there are the worries about mortgages people can't actually afford to pay. You read stories about them all the time, and how people are defaulting on these bad loans. But do you actually know people who have this problem? I don't. Maybe I just know unusually fiscally savvy people, but my guess is the % of people with this problem is really quite small.

And the lender is always blamed. Yes, the lenders are dumb and end up paying for it if the loan defaults. But what about the borrowers? Don't these supposed victims have enough common sense and math skills to put 2+2 together and realize they can't afford this loan before they sign it? The are responsible as well.

Two big reasons this is a problem. First, a very large group of homeowners have been refinancing their houses every single year in order to pull 20-50K of equity out. Without that money, they cannot survive, and they lose their house withing 6 months.

The second reason is that the mortgages themselves have been packaged, leveraged and sold as investments. As house prices go up, these investments return a 10-fold higher return (5% house price increase 50% investment return). When prices turn down, this investments turn toxic very quickly. It is looking like about a trillion dollars in investments is only going to be worth about 300 billion when this is said and done.

Don't get me wrong enviro attny, there are definitely a small percentage of the people for which a housing collapse would be a very big deal. But for the vast majority of us that have mortgages we can afford and aren't investing in other mortgages, it doesn't seem like it matters all that much to us.

Earthworm Jim, you are not in a vast majority. I assume you avoided a home equity loan, but millions of other Americans did not. For several years America has literally had no source of net growth but the use of cash from home equity loans to buy stuff. I think I heard it was a hundred billion bucks one year. Those purchases then created jobs that created more money and the buying of more stuff. If these people had to suddenly stop doing that, they would have to either find a new, quick source of loans, or the American retail sector would collapse.

In other news, credit card debt is now rapidly growing instead.

So...100 billion in a 13 trillion dollar economy means a net loss of what, ~.8% GDP? Am I missing somthing?

According to Freddie Mac, 2 trillion was cashed out of home equity just between 2002 and 2005. Removing that amount of cashflow from the american economy is going to be very, very bad.

If you have a pension, Earthworm, or a 401K invested in Bonds, you're probably gonna get whacked, or a mutual fund with a bond component, or stocks in any brokerage..Goodbye steak, hello catfood!
Bob Ebersole

There are no victims in this game. They all are greedy and knew what they were doing, some got out in time, some will go down in flames.

All these people that signed the no down loans were patting themselves on the back when they told the bank they were making 100K a year flipping burgers.

The only victims may be some pensioners that didn't try to understand what their fund managers were doing, but they didn't complain when the numbers were going up either.

Not one in the lot deserves a red cent in bailout money. Next thing you know they will want to hire a lawyer when they lose in Vegas. LOL.

The regulators that allowed this to happen should be put in forced labor prison camps.

I don't recommend people being in this line of business if they are one of those personality types looking for a pat on the back or some other form of instant gratification. Swimming against the current always works this way. It really kinds of sucks, you know?

Thanks, Dave.

But it's worse than "swimming against the current."

It's more like farting in the tub. With only one other person in there.

It's downright mortifying sometimes.

My local newspaper just got on the receiving end of another one of my bubbles. We'll see how that goes.

Ease up on the faucet, residents told

But it doesn't do any good:

[Water conservation consultant Amy Vickers] says voluntary cuts are largely ineffective and can lead to more water use.

"It's a great oxymoron: voluntary restrictions," Vickers says. "I think the reason is that scarcity begets scarcity, and when people hear drought, for some it signals a false idea that they should water more."

The current heat wave probably isn't helping:

West bakes, highs hit 107, 115, 125

(That's 42, 46, 52 Celsius for you non-Yanks.)

From the top link: "Drought-plagued areas in the desert Southwest such as Phoenix and Las Vegas are trying to limit new lawns that have to be irrigated."

What are these f*()ing idiots doing with a lawn in the desert anyway?

Who wants to live in a desert? With a nice green lawn out the window you get to pretend that you don't actually live in a desert, it's just a nice place where it doesn't snow. When the lawn turns brown and blows away it's apocalypse (lifting of the veil).

Who wants to live in a desert?

I really like living in the desert. Native peoples have lived here for thousands of years. The desert has its own unique natural beauty. I've lived in other places which were more green (CO, NC, VA) and while they are all beautiful, each has it advantages and disadvantages. It's never humid here like VA or NC and insects are a minimal nuisance. Snow is fun to play in, but it makes living and working much more challenging.

I guess having been born and raised in the desert, it's where I'm comfortable. Granted, it's miserably hot right now, but come September, it will be comfortable and beautiful again. In January, I'll be walking around in shorts and a T-shirt.

Don't become a Buddhist. The world doesn't need more Buddhists. Do practice compassion. The world does need more compassion. -- Dalai Lama

I have a gravel yard so it will take a bit of well you know to turn it brown. I do not try to hide or pretend that I do not live in a desert I am proud of living in the desert. There is a ruggedness to it that most would not understand nor care. However having said that I do think those that truly know and understand the desert can survive here in anything. It has been done before and it can be done again so saying its a place of no hope is insanity.

Deserts are going to be a great place to be due to people thinking they are a wasteland. People will leave them in droves and leave behind plenty for the others that will stay :)

A better question is 'what are they doing building more golf courses?'

What are these f*()ing idiots doing with a lawn in the desert anyway?

I would question why does anyone have a lawn at all. Unless you're walking around barefoot in the grass do you really need it? There are plenty of landscaping options that do not depend on large amounts of water.

Water is scarce in the desert, but it is also growing more scarce in many other areas. Lawns are as big of a waste in other areas. Are you also a f*()ing idiot with a lawn, or do you have special grass that doesn't require a lot of watering?

Don't become a Buddhist. The world doesn't need more Buddhists. Do practice compassion. The world does need more compassion. -- Dalai Lama

do you have special grass that doesn't require a lot of watering?

In New Orleans we have grass between the rails of our streetcars. No watering required.

Grass quiets the streetcars down, allows a place to jog (between the rails BTW, to the amazement of visiting transit friends) and adds to the pleasures of the city.

Strips of green grass between flowers and trees is quite acceptable with natural watering IMO.

Best Hopes for dense but green urban areas,


Best Hopes for dense but green urban areas

I agree with dense urban areas. What is the sustainablity of living at or below sea level when climate change is expected to cause ocean levels to rise?

Don't become a Buddhist. The world doesn't need more Buddhists. Do practice compassion. The world does need more compassion. -- Dalai Lama

Since the end of the Ice Age about 11,000 years ago there has been global warming. It rose about 400 feet.

Currently it is rising up to 3 mm per year. At this rate in about 333 years it might rise a meter. Since there has been intense solar flaring in recent years, there is indication that not all global warming may be attributed to CO2 or ash from Chinese power plants and dust from the Sahara blocking sunlight.


Arizona knew it was mining its ground water decades ago. The recharge rate was lower than the depletion rate and there was a curve towards terminal loss of groundwater reservoirs. It was suggested that grass yards be banned and allow the ocotilla and other cactus to be used instead, with pebble gardens to keep the dust down. In spite of this a golf course was built with recycled gray water from the sewer system instead of the water being given to farmers growing pecans south of Tucson. Some local governments with water problems talked about banning issuing any new building permits.

It was suggested that grass yards be banned and allow the ocotilla and other cactus to be used instead, with pebble gardens to keep the dust down.

This has been the policy in Las Vegas for at least the last four years. No new homes or businesses can be built with grass lawns. Even with this policy and others, the problem lies more with unrestricted growth and cheap water. 7000 people per month move the Vegas valley. I never pay more than $7/month (~100 gallons per day.) Many people here could care less how much water they use since it is so cheap. I've read that a uncovered pool can lose 15,000 gallons of water in year. Golf courses and lawns waste water and fertilizers, but that's true anywhere, not just in the desert.

IMO, unrestricted growth will lead to diaster regardless of whether lawns or golf courses are put in or not. You need not lecture me on ground water depletion in the southwest. I can go to the original wellhead installed at Las Vegas Springs and see the subsidence which has occurred from groundwater depletion. I know how seriously the drought in the West has affected the CO river as I can see the effects of it every time I visit Lake Mead.

This photo is old and the level has probably dropped another 40 or 50 feet since the time it was taken. A third intake to the CO river needs to be built before the previous two are left high and dry. Some estimates claim that Lake Mead could be gone in 10 years.

Currently it is rising up to 3 mm per year. At this rate in about 333 years it might rise a meter.

You seem rather confident to assert "At this rate..." and assume that it will stay the same for the next 333 years.

When I look at this:

it looks like a disaster waiting to happen. Oh wait, one of those already occurred.

I don't begrudge people the ability to live below sea level, likewise I hate being told how stupid I am for living in the desert. I was born and raised here and it's where my family and friends reside. Yes, unrestricted growth in the desert is unsustainable, but I think it's equally unsustainable everywhere. IMO we are way past overshoot...

Don't become a Buddhist. The world doesn't need more Buddhists. Do practice compassion. The world does need more compassion. -- Dalai Lama

Are you also a f*()ing idiot with a lawn, or do you have special grass that doesn't require a lot of watering?

I don't exactly live in an area where I would need to water a lawn, but we have been in a drought lately and the "lawn" that I do have is looking pretty baked. I just don't care how it looks, really, and I don't water it when it does look bad. When it gets to be about mid-shin high I'll mow it, which only happens about twice a year, otherwise the large quadrupeds take care of the maintenance.

Hello Substrate,

Your Quote: "What are these f*()ing idiots doing with a lawn in the desert anyway?"

For the poor homeowner: that is because they cannot afford to pave it over with black tarmac or reinforced concrete, then park more SUVs, RVs, and boats on it like the rich. The lawn [actually huge weeds] soaks up the leaking oil quite well from the non-operative junk cars. They are hoping the resultant fire occurs before their ARMs reset.

For the rich homeowner: multi-vehicle A/C cooled garages is the ultimate status symbol out here in the Asphalt Wonderland. Their plush, lush year-round lawns is merely a giant green 'Post-It Note' that constantly reminds them to go golfing.

For the average homeowner: if you don't have a patch of lawn your pets prefer to crap on your rug.

Rant off/

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

That was great. :)

My dog prefers to crap on somebody else's lawn. He plays in our yard so that obviously isn't a good place to poop.

who was arguing with me about rationing yesterday?

more proof of the failures of rationing.

rationing is a hallmark of the command economy.

it is the same as setting binding price floors/ceilings, except on the Q axis as opposed to the P axis.

If the ration max is above that which people use, it doesn't do anything and is non-binding, if it is below then the price of a good must rapidly increase (the unnamed assumption here is that the person imposing the rationing must have complete control of Q, which is demonstratably impossible.)

Command economies never work(can never work), and neither do command economy schemes. Rationing is a command economy scheme.

The Pentagon is a command economy. It works.

School districts are command economies. They used to work.

Does not the Pentagon offer high prices for the completion of its many projects?

If the pentagon decided to slash contract payments, I am sure most companies would drop out of bidding.

I would also mention that the pentagon is military in nature, and there is a certain strictness with which the military takes itself to following regulations and orders.
Also the pentagon would not exist for long if the free market America, which supports it through tax revenue was suddenly a command market. (the pentagon i would argue produces no tangiable goods/services because we never hear about them)

A good example of a command economy agency would be the KGB now defunct. (supported by a command economy, when it fell, so too did the KGB)

And yes, school districts are failing, one positive proof for my idea.
(put kids who want to learn with teachers who want to teach, not exactly a complex idea. )

If you would like to know how well the pentagon works read the following link...Below link an excerpt...


The Death of the RMA

By William S. Lind

In the 1989 Marine Corps Gazette article where I and four colleagues first laid out the Four Generations of Modern War, we foresaw two potential futures. One, the way the world has gone, was 4GW. The other, the direction the Pentagon has taken, became known as the Revolution in Military Affairs, or, more recently, Transformation. This vision of future war, a vision anchored in hi-tech, high-price "systems," is, I am happy to report, militarily dead.

While its corpse still twitches in Iraq and Afghanistan, its obituary was published in April, in Israel, when the Winograd Commission published its report (is Winograd, one wonders, the city in Galicia where old Polish generals go to die of cirrhosis?) On May 29, a summary of its findings by Haninah Levine was made available by the Center for Defense Information. The defense industry fat cats must have read it and wept.

The Winograd Commission was established to examine the Israeli debacle in Lebanon last summer. According to the Levine summary, its first lesson is, "Western militaries are in active state of denial concerning the limitations of precision weapons." Speaking of the then-IDF Chief of Staff General Dan Halutz — Israel's first and, I suspect, last Chief of Staff drawn from the Air Force — Levine writes:

Halutz encouraged the civilian leaders to believe that Israel could launch a precision air and artillery offensive without getting dragged into a broad ground offensive. ... the failure of Halutz and the General Staff to appraise the enemy's abilities: correctly at the outbreak of the war stemmed not from incorrect intelligence or analysis, but from a willed denial of the limitations of the IDF's precision weapons.

In how many valleys of Afghanistan is the same sad lesson being taught? In how many towns of Diyala province in Iraq, or streets in Sadr City?

If you read military history, we've been having these arguments since large navies and air forces came into being. Someone always argues that we can fight a war remotely without troops on the ground. History has proven this silly notion wrong so many times that it is a wonder why it keeps returning to the table for discussion.

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

Because there is big money in it.

If the money is spent on professional soldiers then the defense contractors can't put it in their pockets.

And people wonder why so many of the good guys go with Blackwater? Do you think that 15 to 20 times the wages may have something to do with it?

It's not just the corporate money. The money is pushing on one side but the generals are pulling on the other.

There is a corporate culture of forwarding your career by riding some new high tech system to glory. Regardless of whether it is good for the mission. It is disgusting!

well most interestingly every graduate of army schools has one book as required reading which stands out,

"Starship Troopers" R. Heinlien

the ideas in this fictional book were what drove the army to become SMALLER and more single unit oriented. the eventual drive was for one elite man to replace whole garrisons, with several hundred troops capable of conducting whole wars against nations and winning singlehandedly.

This book has shaped how the army and the pentagon want to conduct wars. It has shaped policy since the book was first published.

The book is science fiction, and very well written, not as well written perchance as "Stranger in a Strange World". It is fiction and cornucopian at that. the failure was inevitable, given the goals, however many large gains were obtained from this push to a lone god-like soldier destroying millions of soldiers on his own.

It does sound to me as though you have never even read "Starship Troopers" at all. I've never heard of any Heinlein reader categorize that book in the manner in which you have just done.

Heinlein was making two primary points in that book, both of which he commented on himself before his death and neither of which supports your notion. The first was that wars cannot be fought without infantry of some sort and that any dreams to the contrary are just dreams. The second point was political - that not every warm body should be able to vote but that there should be some qualifier. Clearly Heinlein did not accept racism or sexism as valid qualifiers so he suggested universal military service and further suggested that the military itself cannot vote, only gaining the vote after completing service.

So tell me, did you really ever read "Starship Troopers" or did you just see the horrible movie and draw your conclusions from there?

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

its interesting to note that "Starship Troopers" was written as a juvenile novel. I read it in the 7th grade, at about age 12.
Bob Ebersole

Hi Bob, I think the most interesting part of my post above by William Lind is that the Israelis took the time to do an in depth study of what went wrong in Lebanon last summer and made public their findings. The pentagon would never take such a step, instead they would cover it up.
Our pentagon and high tech weapons industry had convinced the Israelis that this new super tech warfare would work and the Israelis found out otherwise and made their findings known to the entire world. I believe that by taking such action the Israelis have freed themselves from the morons in the pentagon and the defense contractors and will now proceed to get their military house back in order. Meanwhile we continue down the same path, trying to fight a fourth generation open source insurgency with second generation tactics attempting to solve a political problem and stop a civil war. Below I have linked to testimony by General Odom before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in Jan, 07. Odom is the smartest and clearest thinking general officer that we had untill he retired...

Interesting, I also went through the Heinlein book-list early. Starship Troopers has been an enduring favorite and had to go back and reread it after the movie attempt.

I grokked Stranger in a Strange LAND also as did many back in the 60s. Glory Road was another fav, also worth digging out of a library if you missed that one.

Agree, juvenile fiction, but Heinlein was in the habit of trying to make points regarding people and societies in just about all of his work. Loved him for that. He was quite good at it and only rarely was not entertaining in the process.

One of the greats of Sci-Fi imo.

Another juvenile Heinlein book that rarely seems to be mentioned is Citizen of the Galaxy. As I recall, CotG posits an advanced interplanetary society with a thriving slave trade, based on bad luck more than race, and follows the progress of a boy from slave to plutocrat - a precursor to Bio of a Space Tyrant, I suppose.

Anyone who read "Starship Trooper" should also read "The Forever War"


It was in a large part about Vietnam, but I keep flashing on it as Iraq proceeds.

I have wanted to argue this with a conservative for so long.

Why is it that America is the only country in the world that can't make public schools work?

Every damn time we're told by America's Christian madrassa-builders that Commie Pinko public schools have failed, they drag out the stats comparing us to other countries. ALL those other countries rely on public schools. They used to rely on private schools, which refused to educate the poor, and religious schools, which tried to brainwash the kids into reactionary peasants. Would you say they were better educated in the 19th century?

Maybe the reason Japan and Canada and Germany and France make public schools work is that they have a PUBLIC. You can't make a good citizen out of someone who thinks that blacks are subhuman animals who should be expunged Katrina-style, or that corporations are the source of all good and thus should run everything, or that rapidly growing inequality is proof of natural meritocracy, or that if you can get out of paying taxes by having religious fanatics take over education, there won't be a catch. You can't make a public out of bigots and whores.

Hmmm. Maybe this is also the answer to a question I wanted to ask the NRA: why America is the only one of these countries where murder rates are an order of magnitude higher than the others.

Because when you want to legislate equality you can only do so at the lowest level.

Other countries do not force smart kids to sit through never ending political correctness indoctrination and actually encourage them, subsidize them and teach them science instead.

It's useful to view the murder rate per capita on the bar chart on this table: http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/cri_mur_percap-crime-murders-per-capita

Local media in Dallas just reported on a conceal and carry shooting. A couple of armed suspects were threatening customers in a grocery store, with one of them guarding the door. A woman called her husband, who was waiting in the parking lot, and who had a 45 caliber pistol, with a conceal and carry permit. He went into the store and saw one of the suspects holding a gun on his wife, and he opened fire. He chased the two suspects down the street firing at them. One of the suspects showed up at the hospital, apparently with multiple wounds in his rear end. The second suspect was arrested by a SWAT team. Dallas police report that the case is closed: justified shooting.

Last year, I posted a note about Texans and their guns. Three were pretty memorable.

A rancher, at a rest stop above the highway, witnessed a state trooper pull over a suspect; the suspect got out of the car and shot and killed the trooper. The rancher got his deer rifle out and executed the suspect. State troopers honored the rancher with a special dinner and an engraved rifle.

A man waiting for his wife at a mall in Fort Worth witnessed a man shoot and kill a woman in the parking lot. The man pulled out his 44 magnum and walked up behind the suspect who had gotten into his car, about to drive away. The man executed the suspect with one shot to the head. No charges were filed.

But my all time favorite is still an oil patch guy who, after drinking too much, became enraged when he found out that his ex-wife was sleeping with a local ambulance chasing lawyer, and drove over to the lawyer's house and peppered the house with some shotgun blasts. Before sentencing the oil patch guy to a couple of years in jail, the judge chastised him for missing the lawyer.


Holy guacamole! Do you think it would still be safe to come over for the ASPO conference? I've never been to the US, and that really does sound scary! :O

You're perfectly safe. Europeans are out of season.

out of season won't stop Cajuns..but they need a good recipe.
Bob Ebersole

Cajuns have a recipe for just about everything >:-)


Finn Jumbylia

1 diced medium Finn
1 cup white rice, uncooked
1 can of chicken broth
1 family sized can cream of mushroom soup (or 2 regular cans)
1/2 medium green pepper, diced (or more if you really like green pepper!)
1 medium onion, chopped

Heat oven 350
Use an oven safe skillet.
Saute the Finn, green pepper and onion in a few tablespoons of oil. When they get soft, add the uncooked rice, and continue to saute for a few more minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the chicken broth and mushroom soup. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.

Just show him a sauna and the Finn will cook himself. :-)

We have free outdoor saunas in New Orleans#, open to all >:-)

Just walked back from a lunch with the volunteers before this week's group flies out.

Best Hopes for something cool to drink !


# Seasonally available

Refrain from speaking French, though.

The US murder rate is 4.2 per 100,000 population. The UK murder rate is 1.4 per 100,000. India is 3.4 per 100,000. The supposed horrible murder rates don't differ much from the rest of the world except places like Russia which hits 20 per 100,000 or Mexico at 13 per 100,000 or Estonia at 10 per 100,000. Finland is 2.8 per 100,000. Portugal is 2.3 per 100,000. France is 1.7 per 100,000. Uruguay is 4.5. Poland is 5.6. Georgia has 5.1. Canada is 1.4. All these places are really bad, eh?

Super390 is very badly misinformed, to put it as mildly as possible, if he actually believes the US murder rate is an "order of magnitude" higher than the entire rest of the world. Houston is a very nice city. Hopefully we can all bump into one another at the Houston ASPO event.

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


By no means did I seriously think Texas would be less safe than the places where I hang out in Europe... And I'm from Finland, not the least violent place in Europe. It would be cheaper for me to go and hang out in SPB or Moscow, but now I´m seriously thinking about travelling all the way to Houston for the conference. There certainly are good people going there, Stuart S. and Westexas as well! Oh well, something to discuss with the family! :)

I will also be speaking on the morning of October 19th.

And a side trip to New Orleans with all of it's Great Positives and Great Negatives is easy from Houston.


The problem with the statistics you use is that it gives the illusion of safety by lumping the safe areas with the bad ones. kind of like Bill Gates walking in the room and raising everyone's average income. If you look at the murder rates of major cities you get a different story.

Hence:Murders per 100,000

1) Washington, D.C., USA 69.3
(2) Philadelphia, USA 27.4
(3) Dallas, USA 24.8
(4) Los Angeles, USA 22.8
(5) Chicago, USA 20.5
(6) Phoenix, USA 19.1
(7) Moscow, Russia 18.1
(8) Houston, USA 18.0
(9) New York City, USA 16.8
(10) Helsinki, Finland 12.5
(11) Lisbon, Portugal 9.7
(12) San Diego, USA 8.0
(13) Amsterdam, Netherlands 7.7
(14) Belfast, N.Ireland, UK 4.4
(15) Geneva, Switzerland 4.2
(16) Copenhagen, Denmark 4.0
(17) Berlin, Germany 3.8
(18) Paris, France 3.3
(19) Stockholm, Sweden 3.0
(20) Prague, Czechoslovakia 2.9

If I remember correctly at one time Houston was given the title of murder capital of the US.


Bruce: Here in Toronto we are still at about 1.8. LA looks like it is steadily climbing up the ranks.

And if you are going to do that, why not further break it down by neighborhoods within each city, because I assure you that some are very very dangerous and others not at all. Do you really think there is a rate of 18 murders per 100,000 in George Bush Sr.'s part of town? Not even close, I assure you.

And this leads inevitably not to gun control but to the inherent wealth discrepancy in the US between top and bottom. Let me suggest you do an experiment and look at those cities in the US with the lowest murder rates versus the highest. I'll make a small bet here that you will see no correlation between gun control laws and murder rates either positive or negative but that you will see a correlation between number of people in poverty and murder rates. Care to take me up on it? (It's a sucker bet.)

This leads inevitably to the observations made by people who have studied the matter (of gun ownership) extensively - that local cultural factors are of far more importance in murder rates than gun ownership. In particular, in the United States the growing disparity between the rich and the poor drives frustrations which can lead to all sorts of acts of violence.

By the way, I am aware of no time during which Houston was ever named the murder capital of the United States. If you are certain that it was, I'd be interested in knowing the exact date and the organization which made this claim. If you are not certain, then I suggest you withdraw your claim before someone thinks that you simply engage in baseless gossip in an effort to win debating points.

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

IMO you are correct in that the demographics are the driving factor, but there is also proof that cities or states that allow open carry or make concealed carry permits widely available have less violent crime.
Criminals like soft targets.

It doesn't matter where in the world you go, the local knowledge of what specific areas to avoid is the most important factor.

Right, well, peppering the house with buckshot was just vandalism. Those other cases were all good examples of CCPs in action :^)

The emphisis in most American schools is on all the wrong things. My oldest daughter has two kids in school. She is a soccer mom, hauling those kids to every damn kind of extra carricular activity that I have heard of and some that I havent. Horse back riding lessons, swimming lessons, little league practice and games, soccer practice and games, football practice and games, field trips to pet the cows and pigs, field trips to see how widgets are made, tv in the classrooms, ad infinum. I once asked her if the kids read anything, she asked me 'what should they read?' I handed her a copys of 'The Grapes Of Wrath' and 'Huckleberry Finn' and said this would do for a start. She told me that the kids 'just do not have the time to read such large books.' I dropped the subject. Her kids do have interests. They are interested in getting the latest fashion statement in jeans and sneakers, the girl (in 9th grade) wears as much make up as a talking head on tv, the boy is interested in baseball and fishing. When I am around them I try to teach them a few things by playing games of geography or telling them stories about historical events but they quickly lose interest. No one has bothered to explain to them how important an education is, no one has set an example for them, no one has given them an introduction to literature which could light a fire in them to learn more. They will go to college at UF, do the minumum to get by, get degrees, and be uneducated and without a desire to learn. The schools are partially to blame but so are the parents. I wonder how much blame I should bear but my wife and I discussed current events over meals with our kids, we discussed history with them, we read to them and they read books that we recommended and many that we didnt but it all seems to have worn off the oldest daughter. They will all have degrees and they will remain ignorant. It really pisses me off to think about it.

I've got a 19 year old son who is very bright, is studying at Texas A&M in Galveston, taking lots of math and science and makes decent grades. He's a product of Spring Branch ISD, one of the school districts in Houston. He can't write for beans. I wasn't able to raise him, I'm either a victim of or perpetrator of American serial monogomy.
He's excellent with computers, but wasn't given good books to read. Steinbeck was a communist, Mark Twain used the "N" word, their books aren't taught in American High Schools.
Schools were possibly better when I was in High School, but most of my teachers were second rate fools. My debate coach taught me to write, none of my english teachers after one in the 8th grade were competent. I learned to love literature, but it was in spite of my education, and I went to the highest status schools in Houston. One of my grandmothers would sit with me on the couch when I was a little guy and read me poetry, my father would hand me books and we didn't have a TV until after I was hooked on reading.
I acted out, smoked all the pot I could and only stayed in school because I had a steady market for the LSD and speed I sold. Luckily, my son escaped that path.
Some things about schools are actually better. My son isn't racist, a failing that I had to fight much of my life but have hopefully overcome. I have black fishing buddies, and live in a mixed neighborhood and have great neighbors. My son really doesn't think in racial terms, has always had black friends as well as white ones. Now I've gotten to the point where I think a kid is cute or a woman pretty before I notice their race.
And because my son uses the internet, he's very self-educated on a lot of subjects, enjoys surfing and track. He's successful, but its in spite of school.
Bob Ebersole

_The Underground History of American Education_ by John Taylor Gatto (http://www.johntaylorgatto.com/underground/toc1.htm) explains this failure. Our compulsory schools were designed to control what had been an unruly, literate population. You can read it online.

This isn't rationing, this is 'voluntary restriction'. We've been having this in Florida for some time now, they've been implemented off and on and now it seems like they are here to stay in most of the 'Water Management Districts'. Generally it means watering your yard no more than twice a week and not during the day.

Maybe we've gotten used to it, but I've never heard of it causing more water usage here. I think I remember reading it typically reduces water use by 10% or more. Some utility in S. Fl. was having problems because they wern't selling as much as they planned to.

Also, they can (but rarely do) hand out fines for violations. I wouldn't call that rationing either.

Voluntary restrictions are equivalent to non-binding ceilings or floors (ie they don't work because of the prisoners dillema) as long as people can gain by violating the restriction, they might as well, and as soon as a couple people see their goodfaith following of voluntary restrictions being ruined, they stop voluntarily following and become violators!

um, they don't gain by watering their yard more. Maybe they can gain longer showers but no one is really suggesting reducing any usage inside the home yet. I'm simply saying this isn't rationing... and what is a non-binding ceiling? It's meaningless in this case, maybe they will shame people into complying or just enlighten others perhaps.


ZELLWOOD STATION - Amid the manicured lawns of her retirement community, Barbara Tubbs' decision to replace her St. Augustine grass with less-thirsty pine needles and plants didn't go as smoothly as she hoped.

If the government encourages people to save gasoline and fines people for going over 55 and implements a tax on low milage cars, is that a quota?

who was arguing with me about rationing yesterday?

I didn't see any arguments yesterday. I saw a claim about 'the free market' and a lack of your response of showing where these free markets exist.

Rather hard to hold an 'argument' when one of the underlying ideas is wrong.

Free markets exist everywhere, but are not natural or permanent. Many species will gain a niche only to be thrown from it by a larger specimen.

The goverment tries to aim for free markets through regulation of market actors. In the US it fails quite often. (See FCC, teleco's, microsoft, Rockfeller(sp), among others) These market failures, typically caused by

However this is not about those failures, this is about oil/gas. It is not proper to classify Oil and gas with there being so many international/national/independant players as a broken market. There is some sway with OPEC controlling ~45% of the worlds, however OPEC members regularily break fold to act independantly, the criteria for the free market. (well stricly speaking the criteria are, many buyers/sellers, perfect information, same product)

The oil and gas market is probably one of the more free markets in existence today. With this in mind rationing cannot work. Someone will start a black market of the good (oil/gas) and sell it. It happens across Africa and it probably happens in the USA (but at a level which is not reported). It is demonstratably impossible to have total control over the Q of the good because of the size of the distribution network (all major pipelines in the USA), the number of people required to enforce the rationing scheme, and the number of people to watch the watchers!

If soldiers in war were able to barter for goods while in POW camps(coffee, games, chocolate,ect) how can an artificial restriction on gasoline stop people who want it.

Rationing cannot work, and does not work. If there is a sufficient price signal (and rationing by definition will push up price as it is an *imposed* shortage) then the blackmarket will be created overnight.

The market is not simply one of P and Q, it is really about how an object is valued to many person(V and Q). I say that gas will be highly valued by some people, and therefore the market will still exist(no buyers/sellers no market) regardless of what the government does.

Seems like it isn't a case of either/or, but rather that local restrictions on the freer flow of capital, goods, services (anything that can be exchanged) pop up from time to time for political, cultural or other reasons.

so let us all agree on "local failure of residents to adhere to a scheme for the greater good, caused by the desire for each to profit for him/herself"?

Rationing cannot work, and does not work.

This is an absolutist statement, offered with no supporting evidence (sounds like a religion).

Governments in wartime almost universally resort to rationing. Countries that ration, like the US in WWII, frequently win. Seems to disprove your "cannot work" claim.
Of course, rationing always creates a black market, but that is no evidence of failure. In the US, WWII rationing conserved fuel for the mechanized assault that destroyed Germany, even if a few gangsters profited on the side.

Black markets exist today for things that are not rationed so this is why the "black market" is such a farce. The risks involved in dealing this way can be great.. The chances of being absolutely devastated by breaking the law if caught can be profound.

I see no reason to consider the black market a reason that something will not work. Take a long hard look at the current scenario we have today. Black markets are alive and well and do not show any reason rationing will not work. By in large people are law abiding and it would take a GREAT injustice to force them to go other ways.

Think 1776 style injustice and rationing of fuel is not a injustice its just a reality that one must face.

Governments in wartime almost universally resort to rationing. Countries that ration, like the US in WWII, frequently win. Seems to disprove your "cannot work" claim.

In spite of, not because of. You can make far more efficient distribution of resources by tax schemes. The US won in WW2 because it was essentially logistically invulnerable while being the largest economy on the planet.

It did not help Germany that they had to get kids to fly their planes due to lack of pilots. They would go up and be cannon fodder. Also it does not help that there were many many people leaving Germany and going to the USA to stop Germany as they did not agree with it.

There is a bit more to it than the USA just being largest economy. Did you know that the Japanese for instance were 2 days from testing a nuclear weapon when we dropped the bomb on them? There is much history that disproves that it was the people and their resolve to make damn sure Japan and Germany were stopped.

More like the Germans defeated themselves by going into Russia.

Did you know that the Japanese for instance were 2 days from testing a nuclear weapon when we dropped the bomb on them?

That is just utter hogwash.

Rationing by price is a method by which the rich are largely unaffected and the poor go without. While this is workable for luxury items, oil is fundamental to the basic needs of every American. If price rises too far, I think you will see trouble for all Americans, though the poor will see it first. This is why I don't think an oil tax is a workable solution for a strong America.

On the other hand...

Is it better to divide the nation so the poor express their anger at their neighbors (black against white, republican against democrat, etc), and leave the rich to their skillfully gotten gains? That way we just have larger ghettos and failed towns, while the rich enjoy their riches and take advantage of cheap labor.

That way we just have larger ghettos and failed towns, while the rich enjoy their riches and take advantage of cheap labor.

Those for whom it is better have so decided.

cfm in Gray, ME

I dunno maybe it was me I was barking about it yesterday.

With oil edging up all the time now, would this be a good time to sell my car? It's only 2 years old, and I bought it before I heard about PO. I won't need it too much anymore as I plan to use bike / public transport in near future.
Does anyone have any thoughts on what's gonna happen the used/new car market in the next few years?

(I'm in Ireland BTW where I'm sure we'll all be using Steorn's physics-defying-orbo-thingy to transport ourselves around, so long as it doesn't rain, and no one looks at it crooked, and the lights aren't too hot...)

I highly recommend selling your car. I live in Madison, Wisconsin, USA and got rid of my 1999 Corolla. Made above Blue Book value on the sale and used some of the money to build a good bike, some to insulate my house. It takes about three weeks to adjust to biking and mass transit, but it is empowering to know I can get around without a car. Plus, I don't need to worry about what to do with the car when the gasoline runs out.

Where I live, the cars people drive seem to be less new and more old. In other words, five years ago almost everyone was driving a car that was younger than three years old. It seems like these cars aren't getting replaced so quickly anymore. I imagine it's a factor of credit-tightening more than an awareness that cars are going to become obsolete soon. I'm also seeing more and more people getting around on bikes, which makes me smile. Less cranky drivers on the road is a good thing!

Tom A-B

If I had a high gas mileage car I might hang on to it for a bit. If/when gas gets to, oh, $10/gal in the US, everyone will be begging for decent used cars that get over 30MPG. Even those currently in their mini-McMansions with his/hers SUV's will swallow hard and shop for a late-model Corolla when their house value drops by 1/3.

I have an offer in on my car but its below the book value. I'm wondering should I just get rid of this depreciating asset, because I figure it will be worth zero when PO finally arrives. Interest rates are good at the moment, so I could just save the money I made. Plus I'd save on insurance and use my wife's car if I needed it. I could be waiting for months before I got a decent price for it and by then it might be too late.

There is a glut of used cars here in Ireland - a lot of people have traded up to SUVs, especially yummy mummys for bringing their kids to and from school.

The value of your car is not going to go to zero just because of peak oil. I would expect that small, fuel efficient vehicles will actually retain their value quite well, at least in the US. Sell the car if it makes financial sense, but unless you are driving a Hummer, peak oil should be a relatively small factor in your decision. The odds of the market dramatically changing within a few months and rendering your car worthless are quite low. Even if we are currently past peak, autos and liquid fuels will still be around for decades, the fuel will just cost a lot more.

What is the make/model of your automobile? I have to confess at this point that I don't know much about Ireland. This is going to be U.S.-centric because that's what I know, so make of it what you will but... it's not likely that cars are suddenly going to disappear, a trolley line show up in your backyard and the grocery store move closer to you when P.O. comes around. So you're likely going to need (or really seriously want) a car for probably the next ten years as things go one way (to complete hell) or another (not to complete hell). If you have a large expensive car, SUV, or truck...I'd seriously recommend going with something much smaller and inexpensive (not "cheap" - i.e. a Toyota Echo is inexpensive but not cheap). If you can "trade down" and get a more fuel efficient car, plus $5,000 - $15,000 trading to a less expensive car (say going from a Lexus to a Toyota, Acura to a Honda, Ferrari to Toyota ;) it would be quite a good idea. This way you'll have a more fuel efficient car, and either money to run it, or money to put into other things like insulation, food, bicycle, etc.

Substrate, it's a Mazda 3, 1.4litre engine (worth about US$20k). I live next to a train line and my wife has a small VW, and I won't be using it much in the future. It's proving very hard to sell though. Guess I just need to be more patient - and hope the crap doesn't hit the fan in the meantime.
On moneyman's comment, you are right - it was an exaggeration to say the price would go to zero in a PO situation, but if there were to be fuel shortages in the future, or oil goes way up in price, I would imagine a lot of people would try and ditch their second cars or trade down. I assume then that prices would plummet or the market for cars would dry up completely.
Anyway, I should never have bought it in the first place- got suckered in by the car-salesman's patter! It's brought me nothing but bad luck between smashed windscreens, scrapes, dents...

it's not likely that cars are suddenly going to disappear, a trolley line show up in your backyard

Dublin has LUAS, two dis-connected new light rail lines (Red and Green) that have opened in the last few years with plans for a Green extension northward (crossing the Red Line in subway) and scheduled to open by 2012.


There are also less firm plans for a westward half circle opening in 2014.


Plus several short extensions (1.5, 4, 6.9 and ? km) extensions planned for 2009 to 2013.

Plus commuter rail improvements. Plus railroad improvements.

So there IS a good chance that a "trolley will show up in his backyard" if he lives near Dublin.

Best Hopes for Irish Rail,


"I highly recommend selling your car...and got rid of [mine]..."

Did you do so after the melt but before the first of the real heat and humidity? Almost every day in the munificent maritime climate of Ireland is a nice (if a bit cloudy/rainy) Midwestern spring day, what with the average low even in January well above freezing, and the average high even in July only a very nice 66F/19C and not a lot of broiling sun. The advice thus might be far better suited to Ireland than to the Midwestern USA. In addition, Ireland rarely suffers the sort of violent thundery episodes where for hours on end it's dangerous to be walking around or biking.

It's quite nice in the Upper Midwest today, but by this Sunday, it is forecast to be hot and steamy again, and bikers - as well as bus riders who must wait endlessly in the hot sun for buses that come rarely and only when their drivers happen to feel like it - will arrive at their destinations smelling like very anti-social somethings that are not roses. And come December and the bike will be useless, with the streets (and paths) coated with ice and dangerously narrowed by snow piles, while the bus service will be almost as useless, mired in the chaos that invariably follows even the merest suggestion of a snowflake.

So in order to make it work, I would think one would need a life, perhaps that of a university student, mostly confined inside the campus or another small area. After all, most job and even civic activities require quite reliable and timely attendance in order to function, and disheveled or malodorous participants tend not to be well accepted.

will arrive at their destinations smelling like very anti-social somethings that are not roses. And come December and the bike will be useless, with the streets (and paths) coated with ice and dangerously narrowed by snow piles, while the bus service will be almost as useless, mired in the chaos that invariably follows even the merest suggestion of a snowflake.

Bikes are only "useless" in winter to people with a very limited concept of utility. I have raised 2 children and gotten myself to many locations by bike over the last 35 years. Look at pictures of Denmark or China before the auto-madness hit to see what bicycle winter transportation looks like (wide tires, fenders, upright riding position,etc.).
Not stinking just requires dressing and riding appropriately, with an occasional splash in the sink.

Always interesting to hear the auto-addicted bemoan the impossibility of any other life style (while all around them people live fine lives without the dependence).

None of my family or bike-travelling friends are "confined inside the campus or another small area". What a funny idea, since riding 20 miles at 12 mph takes less than 2 hours (while the average USian bemoaning the impossibility of bike transport watchs TV for 4 hours a day).

I think it will take quite a while before it starts to make driving unaffordable, especially in Europe. If you have an economic car that is useful to you, you better keep it, instead of incurring the financial losses related to selling it; if it is not economic you may trade it in with something smaller. You can always switch to public transit for most of your travel and use it only for recreation or shopping.

That is my opinion at least...

P.S. And always prefer a diesel (if you already don't have one)... two weeks ago we travelled 450 miles with 9 gallons of biodiesel on a '89 Peugeot 207. Hardly believed my eyes.

I could crack 50 mpg in my old Isuzu I-Mark diesel when <100K (bought new, sold @270,000 miles when body began to fail). Mileage dropped with age to ~45 mph highway at
"slower speeds".

I REALLY wanted that 1982 M-B 240D then, but I could not afford it new. Had to wait :-)

Best Hopes,


I often hear that diesel is a superior fuel than gasoline, could one of the engineers explain this to us? I know that a diesel engine is more thermodynamically efficient than a gasoline engine, which explains part of it, but I understand that the primary reason for increased efficiency is that diesel simply has more BTU's per gallon than does diesel, which makes much of the perceived efficiency an illusion. It seems to me that there are a set amount of BTU's in a given barrel of oil, so if you could hypothetically refine the entire BBL into diesel or gasoline, the BTU's would remain the same, but you would have a higher volume of gasoline than diesel. This would leave the thermodynamic advantage of the diesel engine, which I would think is much less than the 40% or so advantage of diesel over gasoline. These are two different products with different supply/demand curves, but I would expect over time that diesel will ultimately trade at a premium to gasoline so that the cost per BTU will be roughly the same. At my local gas station, they are currently selling for the same, so diesel clearly has an economic advantage at present. In the long run, however, it seems to me that if everyone switched to diesel, nothing would really change because peak oil will mean peak oil BTU's, and it won't really matter whether we slice those BTU's into gasoline or diesel. This is just me thinking out loud, so feel free to refute it as this is not my area of expertise.

Another reason for diesel efficiency is the higher combustion temperature. The higher it is, the more efficient the engine.

I'll leave it to a refinery expert to address product mix from the refinery.

But we're long past the stage, IMO, where incremental improvements in the efficiency of the automobile fleet will do us any good.

Another reason for diesel efficiency is the higher combustion temperature. The higher it is, the more efficient the engine.

I'll leave it to a refinery expert to address product mix from the refinery.

But we're long past the stage, IMO, where incremental improvements in the efficiency of the automobile fleet will do us any good.

Another reason I can think of is the diesel's superior low-end torque.

You don't really need most of your engine's horsepower. You may need all of its torque. It takes less than 40 horsepower to cruise down the highway, yet I've read that a gas engine uses its BTUs most efficiently at about 1/3 maximum HP. But if you're passing someone, or if you're accelerating from the light, the diesel will easily rev up to its torque peak. Lots of recent turbodiesels are rated at 300, 400 or even 500 foot-pounds, comparable to the most powerful gasoline engines ever sold, yet attain that at low rpms where consumption is presumably lower.

This is also true of electric motors. But this is partly offset by the weight penalty that diesels and electrics must overcome.

I'm not a car car guy but isn't horsepower=torque*wheel rpm? So if you are producing enough horsepower and don't have enough torque, what you really need is a lower gear.

(Torque * RPM)/5252 = Horsepower

When you down shift you're attempting to get the engine to operate at peak power


For example, when you're traveling down the highway in top gear and start up a steep grade, you first start to push the gas pedal down. If you look at that dyno chart that is equivalent to moving vertically on the scale. At 6000 RPM you'd have between 0 (closed throttle) and 25 (full throttle) horsepower available to you. If you down shift and are now at 8000rpm you'd have between 0 (closed throttle) and 40 (full throttle) horsepower available to you.

So what happens if you're at full throttle, maximum RPM and still slowing down going up the hill? You keep slowing down (and consequently down shifting to attempt to keep maximum power) until you equalize the work you're doing with the power you're generating. Speed is traded for torque multiplication (through gearing). With the right gearing a moped motor could move an 18 wheeler - but boy would it be slow. If you have to, imagine it as a pulley system. Say that you have a 100lb weight on a rope that you're pulling up a hill and the maximum rate you can pull the rope is 1 foot per minute. Now the weight comes to a steeper part of the hill and you no longer have the strength to pull it. So you set up a 2:1 pulley system - but even with the pulley system you only have the strength to pull the rope 1 foot per minute, the speed at which you're pulling the weight has been halved. The same amount of work (W = F*D) is still being done, but the speed at which it travels is slower.

So where does it all go kaflooey? Engine setup, torque and horsepower curves. Because of the rigors of diesel combustion (detonation), diesel engines are setup to be very stout and the pistons and rotating assembly are very heavy. Heavy means they can't spin fast because the inertia would tear them to pieces, so they are designed to make lots of power at low RPM. They can do this because there is no chance of pre-ignition, and the heavy pistons absorb the detonation. Gasoline engines are generally setup to make the most horsepower at high rpm. Because of their lighter pistons and rotating assemblies they can spin faster without flying apart and can therefore take advantage of the " X RPM" part of the equation. Gasoline engines generally do poorly under low RPM high load situations because they fall prey to pre-ignition and detonation which destroys their lighter and more fragile pistons and rods. It's less of an issue at higher RPM because of faster piston speeds versus the flame front.

A normal 18 wheeler only makes about 350 horsepower. The trick is that it makes it 350HP @ 1,900RPM and makes around 1350ft-lb of torque at 1,100RPM and it makes it from a 12.8 liter six cylinder engine. Diesel torque curves ramp up fast and high giving a lot of power right off idle and start falling off at red line.

A 2005 Pontiac GTO makes about 400 horsepower from a 5.7 liter V8 but as you can see on this dyno chart (350HP is what actually makes it to the wheels) it makes it at 5,700RPM. The lines at the very beginning were probably just them stepping on the gas and starting the machine. Gasoline torque curves usually start pretty low off idle, climb gently with rpm and peak shortly before red line. Horsepower continues to climb for a short spell after the torque peak because the revs are climbing faster than torque is falling (Torque * RPM).

So why not use a Pontiac GTO engine in an 18 wheeler since it's lighter and makes about the same power? It wouldn't last very long and would get terrible fuel mileage. For the 18 wheeler to operate it would have to go down the road under heavy throttle at 4,000 - 5,700 RPM all the time. Engine longevity is proportional to something like the inverse square (cube?) of engine RPM and internal friction increases by an exponential amount. The original diesel would only operate at 1,300 - 1,900 RPM.

So why not use an 18 wheeler engine in a Pontiac GTO? It's bloody huge and heavy! The gasoline motor in the GTO can make a lot of horsepower for its size, weight and displacement and it also doesn't need to be operated at a large percentage of its capacity all the time. A burst to 5,700 RPM and back to cruising RPM of 2,000 or so at light load is probably all it will see so high rpm longevity is not an issue.

The 100HP, 200lb-ft torque diesel versus the 200HP, 100lb-ft gasoline car. Let us forget that a diesel weighs more and say they're the same...which one would win a 1/4 mile drag race? The one with 200hp, of course. However...during the first 50 feet or so the diesel is going to look like a real contender because it's going to reach its peak power sooner, while the gasoline motor spends its time spinning up and gaining RPM and horsepower. Soon enough those 200 horses will wallop the 100 of the diesel even though the diesel has twice the torque. What makes a diesel and its larger torque seem so much more powerful on the road is its instant availability. From a dead start it's making more power at lower RPM, no need to wait for the motor to spin to the stratosphere (through lower horsepower territory) to extract it. On the highway (think back to the first paragraph) more power is available at the RPM that you're in, so all you have to do is step on the "gas" to access it. For example two cars, a diesel and gasoline which both have 100HP - whereas with the diesel cruising at 2,000RPM you have between 0 HP (off the "gas") and 70 HP (on the "gas")...for the gasoline car cruising at 2,000RPM you might have 0 HP (off the gas) and 30 HP (on the gas).

Hello Substrate,

Thxs for all the effort you put into this posting. It was very clear and easily understandable to me.

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

Thanks substrate. I have an electric assist bicycle and I understand downshifting to gain speed up a hill. I'm an electrical engineer who understands electric motors, but internal combustion engines are a black box to me. I step on the gas and it goes. Good explanation. 5252 is for some system of units presumeably English.

Two words: Mars Observatory

I'm the one who specified power in horsepower and angular velocity in revs per minute so it would be natural to give torque in an English unit like foot pounds. It is foot pounds isn't it? I didn't mean to sound like whatever it was I sounded like. I think in metric so conversion factors like 5252 are alien to me.

> often hear that diesel is a superior fuel than gasoline, could one of the engineers explain this to us

More BTU's in a gallon of diesel than a gallon of gasoline. IIRC, Gasooline contains about 129 Mega Joules per gallon and a gallon of Diesela about 137. Diesels typically have lower maintaince costs but are more expensive to construct.

>so if you could hypothetically refine the entire BBL into diesel or gasoline, the BTU's would remain the same

Not necessary, since it takes a certian amout of energy to refine fuel from crude oil. Light crude is used to efficienly produce gasoline while its more efficient to produce diesel from heavy crudes. Since the world production seems to be sliding to heavier crudes, is likely that Diesel will be more economical in the future (compared against gasoline). Gasoline is preferred over diesel since its cheaper to manufacture gas powered engines than diesels and gasoline engines have a "perfomance" advantage over diesels.

>In the long run, however, it seems to me that if everyone switched to diesel, nothing would really change because peak oil will mean peak oil BTU's, and it won't really matter whether we slice those BTU's into gasoline or diesel.

Diesel is likely to outlive Gasoline, since it can be more easily refined from heavy crude oil. Diesel can also be produced from FT. IMHO, diesel vehicles will be on the road well after Gasoline power vehicles are rotting corpses. Diesel is typically also used by mass transportant vehicle (Buses, Diesel-eletric trains, Delivery trucks). Its likely that gov'ts will keep a vested interest in producing diesel over gasoline. Athough you probably will need a permit to purchase it if rationing is implemented. (hint: Farmers were given access to fuel during WW2).

If I had a choice between owned a diesel powered vehicle over a diesel, I would choose diesel over gas. Plus you could use home heating oil to power a diesel. Overall I would expect the total cost of ownership of diesel vehicles to be lower than gasoline vehicles as the world crude production slides towards heavy crude.

"I often hear that diesel is a superior fuel than gasoline, could one of the engineers explain this to us?"

I'm not an engineer, but I had an engineer explain the basics to me. A diesel car will get about 30% better mileage than a gasoline car 'all other things being equal.' Roughly half of this (15%) is because of the higher energy content per unit volume of diesel over gasoline. About half is due to the way diesels run, and this involves explanations of throttled gasoline engines vs non-throttled diesel engines that I'm fuzzy on.

I agree that some of the economic savings would eventually disappear if the auto fleet went mostly diesel, since the refineries would skew more btu worth of crude toward diesel than gasoline, but the 15% better inherent in the engineering of a diesel would still be saving.

The best vehicle I've ever owned was a 1984 Toyota 4wd diesel pickup. Almost 3800 lbs with a 7 foot bed it got a consistent 33 mpg. A great construction work truck. Was still ticking after 16 years when the frame rusted out and I sold it for $900 to a Spanish speaking guy who said he was going to ship it to Cuba.

Diesels are getting a premium in the USA. Try to find one. I know I am looking.

I'm in the US and am clueless as to whether this would help, but here might be a data point: I cruise the local used car lots.

For example I'm in SE Nebraska and big rules. In the last year, an undeniable trend has occurred. The big vehicles slowly disappeared from the lots. You can find a used big vehicle but it seems obvious that
one has to go to specific lots for that size vehicle.

LOL ! Stoern ! Yes the heat ...

Judging from your comments, you must be keeping track, somewhat. I'm looking in periodically.

Where IS that 'Theory of Everything' ?
it is !

2 choices really...

- stay on the island and tough it out at the end of the fuel line in the EU's most car dependent country and hope that your English friends will not cut off supply for their own needs.

- leave now.

Either way, the irony of said circumstance is that your country will, for the second time, be presented with the opportunity to save Western civilization by candlelight.

"leave now"?

Where do I go?

would this be a good time to sell my car?...I won't need it too much anymore as I plan to use bike / public transport in near future.

I'd recommend selling the car.

Based on the folks I know in Ireland (Dublin), it's probably costing you:

  • 150/mo (insurance)
  • 150/mo (depreciation)
  • 50/mo (parking)
  • 100/mo (opportunity cost of the sunk money)

Or about 5,000 euros a year in direct and indirect costs, not even including operating expenses. If you're not planning on using it much, why waste that much money? If you want a car for a few weekends, it'll cost you much less than that.

In terms of selling the car, peak oil is neither here nor there, really. Gas in Ireland is pretty cheap - just US$5/gal - so the price of crude could double and you'd still be paying no more than the guys in Belfast are today.

Doubling crude prices will cause substantial demand destruction, but it's not likely to be in Ireland.

I listed my 2005 Toyota Echo hatchback, manual, on Craigs List today. I've been waiting for a sweet spot when I could get the best return on it, and this summer seems about right. Back to the bike and occasional rentals again.

I don't know where you live, but around here (Atlanta), the guys are trying to sell those for about the price they paid at the dealership (OK, maybe minus taxes). Crazy thing especially since I'm on the other side - looking to find one. It's even worse with the Civics.

Some excellent bad taste humour - the only sort worth having [not rude]


I notice the batteries mentioned at the top. Other types worth discovering are vanadium redox. I dont know if there is enough vanadium though.

vandium is toxic, and there is not enough of it anyways.

it will be a part of the solution, but not the whole solution.

Hmmmmmm, and KSA is in the process of tapping Manifa, which is 'tainted' with tons of Vanadium, right? What a coincidence...

actually removing vandium is more expensive than regular gas.

if vandium is a non-economical waste that has to be removed, better to wait until the waste becomes valuable!!

no coincidence.

>Hmmmmmm, and KSA is in the process of tapping Manifa, which is 'tainted' with tons of Vanadium, right? What a coincidence...

Not enough ppm for a commerical viable extraction but high enough to cause severe problems with refining catalysts. Worse of both worlds.

All Metal bases batteries are doomed since the reactions used to produce electricity, slowly (or quickly) degrade them to the point they are unusable. Any perceieved sustainable economy based on metal ion batteries is terminally flawed. While its true that most batteries can be refurbished/recycled, but not at an economicaly cost with out cheap fossil fuels.

Vanadium is not consumed in VRBs, see:


You need to carefully read that article. The word "redox" is a dead givaway. These batteries have a finite charge/discharge lifespan just like all other metal ion batteries.

Not sure if this has been reported here. Snip from


Trudie Styler
Justice in Oil Well

Most of us already know that our survival as a species may well depend on how we confront the challenge of global warming. The task ahead will be amplified in the Live Earth concert on all seven continents this Saturday, when two billion listeners will be asked to sign a personal pledge to combat climate change.

But few are aware that we face another serious environmental challenge: how to hold oil companies accountable for creating hellish conditions in their quest for oil.

Since the dawn of the industrial age, accidental oil spills and intentional dumping have posed major environmental threats. But the height of reckless disregard may have been reached in the Amazon, where oil damage is still as visible as it was three decades ago, when oil was pumped there with no apparent concern for the environment.

The damage probably won't affect global weather patterns. But to Ecuadorans, the toxic soup oozing from the earth beneath their feet is even more palpable. And the company accused of inflicting the damage -- Texaco, which was acquired by Chevron in 2001 -- is trying to walk away.

Thanks for the link.

This validates the Second Law of ThermoCapitalism.

The First Law, as you probably know, is Sell high, Buy low. The 2nd law is: Take Benefit for Yourself, Dump Burden on Others. The 3rd is: Keep appealing until the other side in a legal suit dies or runs out of money. The "David" lawyer in the Ecuadorian feel good story is not going to be any match for the legal Goliaths on the other side simply because he can't pump paper as fast as they can. It takes an army to maintain a legal battle.

| Reply in new window | doesn't stick. It's a black hole.

Is it just me, or have other people experienced it?
When I clicked on | Reply in new window |, everything seemed to work fine. It said the comment was posted. But then when I went back, the comment was gone. No longer there. Sucked up into a black hole.

Did you refresh the page ?

It has nothing to do with refreshing the page (whatever that means). I know I'm not crazy because my comments history says I posted. However, when I try to link to one of those posts, there is nothing there.

Example: My comments page says I posted something here on July 4th. But there is nothing there.

What I'm doing now to avoid the problem is right clicking on "Reply" and picking "Open Link in a new page". That works fine.

I'm wondering if other folk have problems with "Reply in new page"? (I'm using FireFox as my browser)

What I'm doing now to avoid the problem is right clicking on "Reply" and picking "Open Link in a new page". That works fine.

That's what i've been doing. I'll be sure to avoid the other.

>Most of us already know that our survival as a species may well depend on how we confront the challenge of global warming

BS. The Human race would ultimately survive from severe global warming. However its likely that severe global warming could impact the number of people living and their lifestyles. The Dinosaurs survived during periods where the earth was significantly much warmed than today. To suggest that humans will become extinct because of global warming is completely bogus. At best, one can argue that our existing lifestyle will become extinct because of GW, but that's envitable because overpopulation and declining resources. What if today's global population was a mere 70 Million people all consuming FF and the majority of the planet was untouched by civilizatiion and industrialization. Would FF consumption be a problem? Is the problem FF consumption or over population?

>But few are aware that we face another serious environmental challenge: how to hold oil companies accountable for creating hellish conditions in their quest for oil.

Oil companies don't cause global warming, consumers of their products do. They are just producing a product that consumers are excessively consuming. If no one bought FF and consumed them, the CO2 would never be emitted into the atmosphere. To the best of my knowledge, not a single oil company pointed a gun at the heads of consumers and demanded they burn FFs! ie "It takes two to tangle". I have no doubt that the author is guilty of contributing to GW as like everyone else alive today. Blaming the Oil Companies is like blaming a bank for getting robbed. The bank has money that theives want. Therefore its the banks fault and we shouldn't prosecute the bank robbers for the theft!

When FF become too expensive what do you believe people will use for energy? Answer: Wood and biomass. So instead of consuming a fuel that is relativily clean compared to wood and extraction does not significantly impact global plant photosynthesis, they'll start chopping down trees to heat their homes and produce electricity. Wood contains far more Carbon than oil and will release far more CO2 into the atmosphere than FF, Trees and other biomass also eliminate atmosphere CO2. Imagine a world where no FF were discovered. You would see a world barren of trees and burnable biomass. Take a look of photographs of the US Northeast or Europe during the early part of the 20th century. You'll noticed an absence of trees and wood lots since virtually all of the land was stripped bare for firewood. When Oil became the primary energy source the trees grew back which at least absorbed some of the CO2 emitted from FF consumption. Take away FF and the population starts consuming the only land based CO2 reduction source. Do you serious believe that once Oil and gas is depleted that the global population will turn to a sustainable lifestyle? BS!Already rainforests are being destroyed to make way for large plantations to product biofuels, which doesn't involve oil companies but does involve demand by consumers. Putting santions or penalitizing the Oil industry will only accelerate the distruction of the environment.

>Since the dawn of the industrial age, accidental oil spills and intentional dumping have posed major environmental threats. But the height of reckless disregard may have been reached in the Amazon

What does Oil production have on slash-and-burn farming in the Amazon? Most of the rainforest are destroyed to make way for cash crops, and now biofuels, not oil production. Overall the land foot print for conventional oil production is tiny compared to other human activities on the land. Logging, Agraculture and urban sprawl cause expontentialy more damage to the environment than Oil and gas production.

"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."

--Albert Einstein

To the best of my knowledge, not a single oil company pointed a gun at the heads of consumers and demanded they burn FFs!

Standard Oil, GM and Firestone bought up a large # of trolley companies in order to destroy them and create demand for their respective products.


>Standard Oil, GM and Firestone bought up a large # of trolley companies in order to destroy them and create demand for their respective products.

This is a nitnick by the smallest of scale. where exactly did the energy used to power them come from. where the pulled by horse? Even if they were powered by hydro, where did the energy to produce the concrete and what powered the earth movers to contruct the dam. No matter where you look you can't escape the fact that FF are an integral part of our civilization.

Finally you can find places all over the US and the world where commuters refuse to use rail even if its subsidize and right around the corner. A couple of days ago Leanan posted a news artical about the commuting habits of LA residents right near the rail line. The bottom line if you give consumers a choice been using less FF or more, the large majority will opt for more.

Iran's energy sector is a house of cards. It is neglected, crumbling and underinvested. Many of its oil and gas fields are in dire need of foreign technical expertise to help reverse their natural decline.

If there was just someone who would go into Iran and save them from themselves. Someone who would get rid of that nasty state ownership of the oil industry and open it up to western corporations. Gee, if that happened, we'd be swimming in cheap oil. Heck, I bet whoever it was that liberated the Iranian oil industry from state control would be greated with flowers and chocolate and their costs covered by the new improved corporate controlled oil industry. But they'd better act now before a mushroom cloud appears above New York City.

Its hard to believe that all of the other oil exporters would put up with the US invading their friends (or even associates) willy nilly. It there are not enough exports to go around, why would they want to sell to a bully?

Reality disconnect #2,742,186 (approx.):

I just became aware of the magical properties of tomorrow, 7-7-07. I admit I'm not in touch with these vitally important matters. But they just did a piece on CNN. Now I have no objections to doing something silly and meaningless like getting married on that date ( ;-) ), but I hadn't considered the increased number of planned C-sections tomorrow. Well OK, as long as numerology and superstition don't trump sound medical advice.

Luton airport drops expansion plan

By Kevin Done, Aerospace Correspondent
Published: July 6 2007 14:48 | Last updated: July 6 2007 14:48

London Luton Airport has abandoned its ambitious plan to triple in size by 2030 as part of a £1.5bn scheme that would have delivered a new full-length runway in time for the 2012 London Olympics.



However Stansted is still going ahead.

Separately BAA, which is owned by Spain’s Ferrovial, is expected to submit a planning application in the early autumn for the development of a second runway and terminal at Stansted. This £2.45bn project would more than double present capacity to 68m passengers a year by 2030. The first phase is planned to be ready by 2015 according to plans presented last January.

I wonder when the mainstream press will ever catch on that there is going to be a oil shortage just around the corner.

Buy the time Stansted has its second runway it will be just to expensive to fly as much as we do now?!


You could triple the cost of flying and it'd still be cheaper than taking the friggin train.


A couple of days ago I posted about how depressed I was that a friend although aware of PO bought his wife a Mitsubishi SUV

It is a Pajero model and I came across the following bit on Ebay

"The Mitsubishi Pajero, known as the Mitsubishi Montero in North America and Spanish-speaking countries, and as Mitsubishi Shogun in the United Kingdom, is an SUV built by the Mitsubishi Motors Corporation. The name Montero was used because Pajero is slang for masturbator in Spanish."

The Mitsubishi Wanker, Do you think it applies to owners as well?

I always suspected that buying an oversize vehicle is a form of self-gratification...

Regarding the Khursaniyah project from yesterdays drumbeat. Skrebowski in this mp3 with Julian Darley from June 16, 2007 says that this field is part of what's called the AFK redevelopment project. It sounds as if Khursaniyah is one out of three fields in this redevelopment. Skrebowski says that AFK is scheduled to come online in JUNE of 2007, and we should see KSA production numbers increase in the JULY report. Does it mean anything now that this article says Khursaniyah is scheduled for "completion" in DECEMBER 2007? Skrebowski states that it would be an ominous sign if a project like AFK was to be behind schedule.

AFAIK Skrebowski's Megaprojects Database has quite a few similar problems. It seems overly optimistic by any reasonable standards. All the more ominous.

It would be great for someone to take Skrebowski's projections from 2 years ago and list the field assumptions for 2008 and then list what they really look like now.

For some reason I could no longer find Skrebowski's presentation from last year's conference in Pisa online, but I did find the article I wrote about the conference for a Finnish magazine. Skrebowski appeared to predict a peak at 92-94 mbpd in the next few (or possibly 5 or so) years. If memory serves, he was definitely not of the opinion that we were at or near the peak, he said there was plenty coming online soon. Not cornucopian by any means, but I'm sure 92-94 mbpd was what he thought would be the peak.

He could have been right (which I don't believe), in any case we'll find out soon enough.

Here's one of Skrebowski's recent presentations on 11 June 2007.


His conclusion slide:

My conclusions at very best

Supply will remain tight and prices high barring a major economic setback

Oil supply will peak in 2011/12 at around 92-94 million barrels/day

There will supply shortfalls in winter before Peak

Oil supply in international trade may peak earlier than the oil production peak

Aided by CERA’s optimism we are still in denial

There are huge challenges and huge opportunities

and here are his accompanying power point notes to that slide

Greatly to my surprise the new Medium Term outlook confirms my analysis. Output reaches 93mn b/d in 2011. Demand reaches 93.7mn b/d. No mention of peak of course but ‘Increments slow to 700-900 kb/d after 2008’ they mean 2009 because of the way they do things but my analysis is becoming less controversial by the day.

If somebody believes output in 2011 will be 93 mbpd, I've got a great, totally unused and unseen bridge to sell.

(Just don't take me up on this in a few years! :))

Thank You Ace

This is a quote in your post from Skrebowski.

Oil supply will peak in 2011/12 at around 92-94 million barrels/day

There will supply shortfalls in winter before Peak

Oil supply in international trade may peak earlier than the oil production peak

Let's see paraphrasing

Oil Peak 2011, Supply shortages in 2010, and (Agreeing with WesTexas's Export model) we will see ExportLand problems in 2008-2009.

That sounds about right, but I would shift his numbers by 9-12 months earlier. Starting in Winter of 2007.

Mr. Ghawier, thanks for pointing this interview out. I had no idea that the khursaniya, or AFK project, was originally scheduled for June of 07. Quite obviously that deadline was missed and it is now December of 07 is the schedule date.

I have read Matt Simmons estimate of this project and he is very pessimistic. These are three very tired, very old fields that Saudi Arabia plans to rejuvenate by simply pumping massive amounts of water into the reservoirs in order to push the oil out much faster.

Of course this cannot help but work. If you push 700,000 barrels (or more) of water per day into the priphery of a reservoir, you will get at least 500,000 barrels of something out. (The rest often goes in other directions.) But this cannot succeed for very long. All it will do is drain these old fields much faster. I expect that if they do get 500,000 barrels per day out, this will only last for a few months, then the dropoff will be catastrophic.

But the fact that this effort is even being undertaken speaks volumes about Saudi oil reserves and production. It is what it appears to be, a desperate attempt by KSA to stop a slide in production by trying to drain the very last drops of oil from these very small, very old, very depleted fields.

Ron Patterson

> It is what it appears to be, a desperate attempt by KSA to stop a slide in production by trying to drain the very last drops of oil from these very small, very old, very depleted fields.

At an accelerated pace while decreasting ultimate recovery from the field. Aka "burn the house so we can keep confortable for a wee bit longer."

Actually, pressure maintainence by water flood should increase ultimate recovery, plus dispose of produced water responsibly instead of just putting in pits to evaporate or dumping it in the Persian Gulf. Its good oilfield practice.

>Actually, pressure maintainence by water flood should increase ultimate recovery, plus dispose of produced water responsibly instead of just putting in pits to evaporate or dumping it in the Persian Gulf. Its good oilfield practice.

Sorry but I will have to disagree since most oil fields have low permability. The rock is very porous which holds the oil. As the water table in the field rises it traps the oil in the porous rock permanately. Water injection is a method to maximumize flow rates while sacrificing UR. Once the oil column thins, production from the oil field drops like a rock.

In case you are unaware, water flooding involves pumping in water (in the case of KSA, Sea water), not just recycling the water already present in the field.

Here is Saudi Aramco's latest project schedule released by Aramco last month.


Aramco's schedule confirms that AFK is planned to start up in December 2007.

Shaybah was scheduled to start in mid 2008 but Aramco is planning for start up in December 2008 giving total production of 750,000 bopd. Skrebowski also has this project starting up in 2008. However, Skrebowski and others listed Shaybah phase 2 expansion of another 250,000 bopd to produce a total of 1,000,000 bopd in 2010. Aramco's new schedule has no Shaybah phase 2 expansion project. This probably means that Shaybah's planned peak production has been reduced to a more realistic 750,000 bopd.

Skrebowski also listed Al Khafji (Neutral Zone) expansion by 300,000 bopd in 2011. Aramco's schedule has no Al Khafji expansion project. Does this mean that Al Khafji has been delayed or just cancelled? I don't know.

Both Shaybah phase 2 expansion and Al Khafji projects were scheduled for 2010 in this Nov 2006 presentation by Obaid.


Obaid included these comments about Shaybah phase 2

"Shaybah: Upgrade to cost $800 million.
• Current production at 550,000 b/d.
• Includes a third and final increase of 200,000 b/d by 2010.
• Decision to proceed has been confirmed."

The comments state that the decision to proceed has been confirmed but Aramco's new schedule does not include Shaybah phase 2 expansion.

Obaid on Al Khafji

"Neutral Zone: Upgrade to cost $400 million.
• Current production (Saudi side) at 285,000 b/d.
• Would add 300,000 b/d by 2010.
• Decision to proceed with development expected soon."

Al Khafji is also an expansion project. Perhaps, Al Khafji is already at peak production of about 300,000 bopd.

Aramco's new project schedule is an ominous sign. Not only is AFK delayed but combined additional capacity expansions of about 550,000 bopd from Shaybah ph2 and Al Khafji are not even listed on Aramco's new project schedule.

When Skrebowski gave his presentation in Pisa, I really really wanted to believe he was right and we had a few more years to sort ourselves out. It's starting to look more and more like he was just plain wrong and we don't have any more time; if we're going to do something sensible, we have to do it NOW! Are we going to do it? Jeee... Are we going to stop being idiots, are we going to stop wanting "stuff", are we going to stop killing Arabs?

As WT has said before, PO was an intellectually interesting subject five years ago. Now it's coming home, and I, for one, don't like it.

Now, imagine you live in a typical American suburb/exurb, with a mortgage, credit card debt, three car loans, and health insurance tied to your workplace, and your job involves goods or services which are discretionary, such as real estate agent or loan officer.

Of course you don't want any problems to happen now, so anything which can disrupt the American Dream is either in the future, or won't happen.

And that has been true in America since the early 1980s.

Europe will face a number of serious challenges, and we can discuss how adequate various frameworks are in terms of handling such challenges, from the Dutch with their 'underwater' land to Spain with too little water.

America will likely fracture - for example, many here talk about the massive amount of waste in America leading to easy conservation - that has been true for several decades, but the Dream remains so much more attractive than waking up and dealing with what is happening.

Until events overwhelm any ability to dream.

This is a key point.

Now, imagine you live in a typical American suburb/exurb, with a mortgage, credit card debt, three car loans, and health insurance tied to your workplace, and your job involves goods or services which are discretionary, such as real estate agent or loan officer.

I would add to this taxes. They harness the citizen, and pay for a standing army. Chalmers Johnson's new book "Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic" is wonderful reference material. I don't have it with me so please forgive if I get this wrong. He has a qoute from I believe it is James Madison (major architect of the US Constitution) where Madison states that,

'a standing army, taxes, and debt is how a minority will control a majority.'

I just realized that this is a bit off-topic, sorry. But I think still worth noting.


This information is much appreciated. (RE: Saudi Aramco's latest project schedule)

Interesting round-up about today's run-up in prices:

"We think the oil market is in deficit," said Markus Mezger, partner at Tiberius Services AG, a Swiss-based asset manager in commodities futures funds.

"The rising (crude) stocks in the U.S. is not representative of the global stock levels. We think OECD inventories saw a drawdown in the last month."

I believe in the peak-oil, but I always believed that it's still 5-10 years away (seemed to me that interpolating a curve in the future is such an imprecise way to measure anything). Maybe it's happening sooner. I think the first symptom of the oil-peak will be sew-saw motion of growth and oil prices: Oil prices will go up very fast, economy goes down, oil prices drop economy heats up but hits another oil celling and crashes again. And this might repeat itself few times until economy stabilizes (possible in downward direction)

05/05/05 was when oil peaked

it's more than 2 years past then.

And in the 2 years since then we've seen extraordinarily high prices and wide volatility in those prices. He probably does not see these prices as high because he lives in one of the richer nations of the world but rest assured that most of the globe is seeing these prices as very difficult.

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

Amsterdam to get freight tram

Amsterdam regional officials have voted to allow private firm Citycargo to run freight tram services in the city from 2008.

Hello TODers,

Pakistan is rapidly getting ugly:


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

Time for a plug.

The best coverage of Pakistan and Afghanistan right now comes from the Asia Times (atimes.com). Syed Saleem Shahzad has been detailing the problems of the Lal Masjid for months now. He also has far more detailed reports about the internal dynamics of the Taliban and its relationship with the Pakistani government than other news media. Last winter he covered the preparations for the spring offensive in Afghanistan, but then he started writing articles about strategic disputes between Taliban generals and the desire of the Pakistani regime to subvert the Afghan regime via negotiation - greatly aided by Kabul's pro-Taliban Senate which recently voted to halt all NATO offensive activity. Over a year ago he wrote about the beginning of a big push by multiple groups in Pakistan to overthrow Musharraf. You may sense that he's anti-American, but he's been two steps ahead of all the bad news. The Chinese economists and Indian ex-diplomats who write there are also a fresh breath of air.

The Hong Kong-based Asia Times is the first English-language business newspaper that I've seen to be anti-American. Figure that's the way world business is going?

I don't understand why you say ATol is "anti-American"; it certainly is one of the best sources for what happens in Asia and the Middle East, and I have never detected any particular anti-American bias there. Unless you find all criticism towards US foreign policy as something motivated simply by anti-American bigotry. I think it's quite natural that, as most of the writers are not American, there is no similar anti-Other-Than-American bias that you get on Fox etc. Nonetheless ATol does publish all sorts of articles and couldn't, IMHO, be said to be biased towards or against anybody.

The Hong Kong-based Asia Times is the first English-language business newspaper that I've seen to be anti-American. Figure that's the way world business is going?

Rather, it is the owners of the newspaper (or should I say WWW publisher?) itself. As far as other newspapers in the region, I never considered the SCMP as anti-American, but it is now rather very China-national oriented.

I find the Asia Times a excellent source of information, especially their financial insights from outside the stenographers that represent mainstream reporting in the USA.

I agree. I try to read everything Henry Liu writes.

I have been reading ATOL for years and never thought they were anti-anyone. Spengler is about the most caustic but he is right on in his columns. Pepe Escobar was doing street coverage all over Iraq when no American reporter dared to stick their head out of the green zone. I do think that an American reading ATOL for the first time after watching Fox and CNN might get the impression that ATOL was anti-something because they do straight news reporting, something most Americans are not used to.

Exactly. I personally hate Spengler's anti-Muslim screeds, but they are a natural part of ATol. And the reports that ATol publishes from Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan and elsewhere are invaluable. I may even venture to say that ATol is the best web-based newspaper ever! :)

Right on Jussi! The first favorite I visit in the morning is Juan Coles 'Informed Comment', the second is ATOL.

Hello TODers,

Latest Drought map: appears to be getting worse.


Please do a side-by-side comparison with this slightly older map:


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

From looking at the map, my impression is that in the US, the drought will have more of an impact on trees and on drawdown of aquifers than it will on crops.

With respect to food, my impression is that the heavy farming area in the Midwest is still is in pretty good shape. The places that are doing badly are the Southeast and the Southwest. It would seem like as long as there is water to water the California and Florida crops, we are in decent shape for food in this country in the near term.

The Southeast and the Southwest seem like areas with a lot of trees and non-farming activity. Because of this, I wonder if the major impact in the US will be on drawdown of aquifers and on loss of trees. Trees can stand a year or two or drought, but if this keeps on, we will be losing quite a few. Forest fires will be a bigger and bigger issue.

These are just my impressions. Has anyone else looked into this?

An unnoticed bit of news from Indonesia:

From http://www.adnki.com/index_2Level_English.php?cat=Security&loid=8.0.4318...


Jakarta, 4 July (AKI) - The decision by the Indonesian government to prevent US Congressman Eni Faleomavaega from travelling to Papua, will undermine efforts to promote human rights and democracy in the territory says TAPOL [...]

Faleomavaega is the Representative to the US Congress of the Pacific-Island territory of American Samoa. He is a prominent supporter of self-determination for Papua and has previously pushed for the US government to review its recognition of Papua as part of Indonesia.

While Papua may not have been a big oil producer in the past, it is my understanding that some feel it could play a larger role in natural gas. Especially given that LNG will increasingly be sought as a bridge fuel as petroleum becomes dearer.

See here: http://www.hydrocarbons-technology.com/projects/tangguh/ for a description of LNG developments and their relationship to Korean and US buyers.

Great quote from the Gazprom article.

"There is only one gas shortage - for those who want to buy it on the cheap."

That's what we say in my line of work: There is a tremendous shortage of $50K software engineers, but no shortage of $125K engineers.

Supply and demand are always in balance. That's because it's an economics equation and not a physics equation. A lot of people don't get that.

Software engineers can be readily produced given the proper demand. Natural gas not so much... Tends to play a considerable amount more havoc with the beloved economy when the demand cannot be met regardless of the price.

explosive batteries vs nukes

Sorry if this comment doesn't segue but I haven't read all posts. Increasingly 'clean energy' seems to be taking risks which makes visceral opposition to nuclear seem odd. Consider
-sodium sulphur batteries could rupture and catch fire
-giant flywheels and wind turbines could fly apart
-hot granite geothermal steam picks up radon gas
-HVDC cables could short eg by fishing trawlers
-LNG terminals could be sabotaged
-pressurised underground CO2 could escape and suffocate

They may be clean but also scary.

Its not a competition, having nuclear replace coal as baseload would have tremendous benefits. But nuclear falls to pieces on the economics. The cost of its power depends entirely on how the financing is carried out, hence they are only used with government support *cough* subsidy. Energy storage would benefit any power source as it increases its flexibility. Also the fossil fuel supply chain is a very dangerous area, mining, refining, transport all have histories of death and destruction. Nuclear does beat them by a long way even with Cheynobl. The nuclear debate is a very hot topic, I noticed many of the LiveEarth performers wearing say no to nuclear power shirts and could be inclined to agree with them. Are we just being too cautious? Even if 1 nuke exploded globally every year it probably wouldnt come close to the number of deaths caused by our beloved motor cars, but the long term effects would be devistating.

Need more wedges