DrumBeat: August 10, 2007

Energy futures rebound on news of storm

Energy futures rebounded from earlier lows on Friday as traders bought on news that a tropical storm is forming in the Atlantic Ocean and a report of a refinery problem.

"A disturbance just left the coast of Africa, and it looks like it has a little bit of teeth," said James Cordier, president of Liberty Trading Group in Tampa, Fla.

Forecasts show the disturbance has the potential to develop into a tropical storm and strike the Gulf of Mexico within 2 weeks, said Addison Armstrong, an analyst at TFS Energy Futures LLC in Stamford, Conn.

Peak Oil Passnotes: Is 'Peak Oil' Postponed?

Has “peak oil” been postponed? We have seen a sharp fall in the price of a barrel of crude oil, either Brent or WTI, with Brent falling under $70 per barrel and the WTI doing the same - this after WTI hit a new closing high of $78.21 as little time ago as August 1.

The short answer is “who knows?” But to have a bit of fun for a Friday we will make a few predictions, to test out pricing acumen. If you invest on the back of this column’s ideas, beware.

Iran, Iraq to build oil pipeline

Iran and Iraq will sign a deal to build a pipeline that would transfer crude oil from southern Iraqi oilfields to refineries in Iran.

The Major Diplomatic and Strategic Evolution in Iraq

Saudi Arabia's worst nightmare would be watching Iran become the dominant power in Iraq or southern Iraq. It cannot defend itself against Iran, nor does it want to be defended by U.S. troops on Saudi soil. The Saudis want Iraq as a buffer zone between Iran and their oil fields. They opposed the original invasion, fearing just this outcome, but now that the invasion has taken place, they don't want Iran as the ultimate victor. The Saudis, therefore, are playing a complex game, both supporting Sunni co-religionists and criticizing the American presence as an occupation -- yet urgently wanting U.S. troops to remain.

The United States wants to withdraw, though it doesn't see a way out because an outright unilateral withdrawal would set the stage for Iranian domination. At the same time, the United States must have an endgame -- something the next U.S. president will have to deal with.

Project to bolster nuclear energy cooperation in Mid-east

A project backed by United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has the potential to bolster cooperation in the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes in the Middle East.

In Hungary, an energy battle with Russian overtones

Two Central European energy companies are locked in a bitter battle for dominance in the region after OMV of Austria made a hostile takeover bid for MOL of Hungary, with Russian interests playing a major role behind the scenes.

Pentagon chief: no more oil for blood, man

Biofuels have been taking a bit of a bashing lately, with people suggesting that maybe they aren't so green after all. And this is not to mention the fact they could require unacceptably large amounts of cropland to produce, so driving up food prices.

But now the somewhat beleaguered biofuel lobby has received a boost from US Air Force (USAF) secretary Michael Wynne. The USAF apparently accounts for 80 per cent of the US government's fuel usage, and to a noticeable degree this is dependent on foreign supplies.

Sudan: Oil Companies Oppressing South Sudanese

This year's revenues from oil will exceed US$4 billion. Economic growth is expected to be about 10 per cent. Clearly, the country is witnessing an economic boom fuelled by oil.

The indigenous people of the oil areas, however, have languished in abject poverty. Oil companies have appropriated their lands without paying compensation, and have largely excluded them from employment opportunities.

Beyond oil and gas, Algeria aims to tap vast sunbelt to export solar energy to Europe

It's a vision that has long enticed energy planners: solar panels stretching out over vast swaths of the Sahara desert, soaking up sun to generate clean, green power.

Now Algeria, aware that its oil and gas riches will one day run dry, is gearing up to tap its sunshine on an industrial scale for itself and even Europe.

Urban, suburban divide revealed in growth plan

But Hunt says any new accord is going to have recognize “huge inequities” that have emerged between the City of Vancouver and the surrounding suburbs it blames for many of the region’s problems.

In essence, Hunt argues, Vancouver has paved over its farmlands, chased away its ports, and redeveloped its sawmills and industrial sites.

It’s transformed those undervalued lands into posh districts like Coal Harbour and Yaletown and now reaps immense profits in the form of vastly higher property taxes.

Meanwhile, port expansion is happening in Delta, not downtown, and many low-value land uses are priced out of Vancouver and pushed into outlying cities.

It’s a bit rich, Hunt says, for Vancouver to try to freeze redevelopment in cities that happen to be decades slower to develop, and then spank them for the evils of urban sprawl and failing to densify or embrace transit fast enough.

'Crowd Farms' could offer alternative energy

The band takes center stage, the fans surge forward and the sheer power of the crowd’s excitement amplifies the sound of their favorite songs — providing enough energy, in fact, to move a train.

It could happen in the Crowd Farm, a conceptual design by two graduate students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that seeks to milk the mechanical movement of hundreds or thousands of assembled people to produce electrical power.

Richard Heinberg's Museletter- The View From Oil's Peak

Clearly the timing of the global peak is crucial. If it were to happen soon, the consequences would be devastating. Oil has become the world’s foremost energy resource. There is no ready substitute, and decades will be required to wean societies from it. Peak Oil could therefore constitute the greatest economic challenge since the dawn of the industrial revolution.

This is the essential message that a small but growing ad hoc band of analysts has been spreading for the past decade. That message is gradually sinking in: the term “Peak Oil” appears in the press with increasing frequency. For policy makers initially encountering it, four questions seem paramount:

        1. How have the forecasts of the Peak Oil analysts held up so far?

        2. In the light of Peak Oil, what will be the consequences of current energy policies?

        3. Is the world developing new policies in response to the warnings in a way that will forestall dire consequences?

        4. If not, what should be done?

Climate change challenging gardeners to plant smarter

Don't look now, but the early signs of climate change have already landed with a thud in our backyards.

Gardeners across the country have to adapt, the sooner the better, said Todd Forrest, vice president for horticulture and living collections with the New York Botanical Garden.

"That means planting smarter and planting for the future," he said. "The first thing gardeners can do is understand they'll have to live with elevated temperatures, including higher nighttime temperatures. In winter, they'll have less snowfall. Those two changes will have a significant impact on what we can grow."

The road fix

Why do we keep building more roads? Because when it comes to planning, the deck is cynically stacked in favour of the road builders - and against the environment.

Global Insight, Latin America: The international reach of state oil companies in Latin America

A surge in foreign direct investment (FDI) outflows from Latin America and the Caribbean has led to increased interest in the leading “trans-Latins” or Latin American companies that are expanding beyond the borders of their home countries. In this context, Global Insight takes a closer look at the internationalisation strategies of the region's national oil companies (NOCs).

Fixing Pemex

Next time you curse the taxman, spare a thought for Pemex. Mexico's national oil monopoly has suffered an average effective tax rate of 105 per cent over the past five years. Cumulative free cash flow after dividends and capital expenditure is a negative $20bn, even as Mexican crude prices have more than doubled.

Iraq to bring back targeted pipeline

Iraq’s long-sabotaged oil pipeline from Kirkuk to Ceyhan, Turkey, will begin operation again, as the two countries have reached energy accords.

The Middle East North Africa Financial Network reports on its Web site the Iraqi Oil Ministry said the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline will soon begin sending crude north.

Thank Uncle Sam for high gas prices

If we really have a fuel shortage how come there aren't long lines of cars at gas stations waiting to fill their tanks? And why have Exxon, Shell, BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Total and Marathon, which own most of the refineries, continued reporting record profits? Kind of makes one wonder if the refinery breakdowns, leaks, fires, etc. are contrived exaggeration and poppycock and purposefully engineered. And, considering the hundreds of billions of dollars these companies earn, it boggles my imagination that their upkeep is so sloppy. It just gets "curiouser and curiouser."

Carolyn Baker: The Joyride that was the American Empire

A few days ago a friend called me just after hearing Michael Panzner on the Thom Hartmann show on Air America. My friend wanted me to read Panzer's book, Financial Armageddon and see what I thought. Apparently, Panzer's radio interview remarks were filled with passion and a sense of urgency, and upon reading the book, I experienced the same intensity in the author's writing which pleasantly surprised me. Here was a financial guru with 25 years' experience in the stock, bond, and currency markets and a faculty member of the New York Institute of Finance, who unlike Ben Bernanke and the silver-lining pundits of the financial pages, was not telling us that everything is going to be fine or that things will "bounce back in 2010".

Saudi Arabia to keep supply curbs steady

Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter, will keep its crude oil supply curbs steady to customers in Japan and Europe in September from August, industry sources said yesterday.

The steady volume indicates the largest producer in the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) is keeping a lid on output and raises expectations that Opec's September 11 meeting will not alter supply policy.

Preparing for the coming energy crunch

When the price of oil reached high levels two years ago, many thought that it would soon decline as new oil wells began production. However, world oil supply has not increased very much, and prices have remained high. The question now facing the world is whether oil production is approaching a peak, where oil production from new wells is no longer sufficient to replace declining production from older wells. If we are approaching a peak, this could have a severe impact on the world and Maine economies.

Play peak oil before you live it

Collaborative intelligence wiz Jane McGonigal designs alternate reality games to solve the world's biggest problems. Enviros love her -- but so does the military.

Technology isn't going to rescue us from oil

The new U.S. Energy Information Administration 2007 Annual Energy Outlook projects a continuing increase in U.S. daily oil consumption.

It is expected to rise to 26.8 million barrels a day in 2030, from 20.7 million in 2005. Oil imports are projected to rise from 13 million barrels per day to 17 million. The EIA also forecasts that polluting coal's share of electric energy production will rise from 49.93 percent in 2005 to 57.44 percent in 2030.

Highly touted ethanol is projected to be less than 1 percent of U.S. energy supply in 2030. Wind is forecast at just 0.89 percent of electric energy fuel in 2030, up from 0.33 percent in 2005.

This is in stark contrast to the "alternate energy — technology will save us" rhetoric blowing in our federal and state capitals. And it also points to the tough choices and realities Americans face in the coming years. This EIA data have dire implications for our energy security, global warming, atmosphere quality and our massive trade deficits.

There 'Auto' Be A Change for Newspaper Ads

Peak auto, it turns out, precedes peak oil. As a result, newspaper ad sellers will need to know how to plan for and harness a resulting bundle of trends in the automotive field.

Since the U.S. consumer demand for automobile driving is highly elastic with respect to fuel prices, people are driving less. People who are using their cars less will tend to keep them longer. Our July Leo J. Shapiro and Associates national poll of consumer opinion finds that respondents who bought a car in the last year are likely to hold onto it for eight years, compared with seven years in 2006.

Back in the eighties, new cars were held for an average of only four years.

Gardening for a cause

Last week, we ran an Associated Press story about front-yard gardens and the growing movement to turn the lawns of suburbia into vegetable patches.

There has been resistance to this idea in some places by people who think a vegetable garden is unsightly. But slowly, people have discovered that it doesn't take a lot of effort to grow fruits and vegetables, and the homegrown ones are fresher and better-tasting than the ones they can get at their local supermarket.

IEA keeps 2007, 2008 demand forecasts unchanged, calls for more OPEC oil

The International Energy Agency kept its 2007 and 2008 oil demand growth forecasts unchanged but called on OPEC to produce more oil to help ease prices and calm the recent volatility in the broader financial markets.

The agency, an advisor to 26 industrialised nations of the OECD region, also called on industry players and governments to produce more frequent, comprehensive, timely and transparent oil market data.

'Our projections suggest stocks will be drawn down further in August and September, yet when OPEC members come to assess the market at their 11 September meeting, they will have to hand only OECD-wide data from June,' said the agency in its monthly report.

Oil Scene: Oil Capacity Expansion's Exigencies and Rhetoric

And as the bull run continues, investment in oil search within major OPEC members is also at the highest level in two decades. OPEC says a total of 336 oil rigs - the best estimate of drilling activity at a given time - were in operation within its member countries last year, an increase of 11.5 percent since 2005.

This rig count was the highest since the peak recorded by the OPEC in 1982, when the oil price hit an all time high, in today's value, of about $90 a barrel. The current level of activity within OPEC was thus all the more interesting and indeed perplexing, too, in the backdrop of the IEA warning of an "oil supply crunch" looming over the next five years as global economic growth accelerates, crude consumption rises and output falls.

An estimate of the hectic activity in Saudi Arabia could be gauged form the fact that Saudi Arabia drilled 382 new wells last year, the highest number for any year since 1980. The number of rigs in operation in the Kingdom was reported to be around 120 by the end of last year.

The Kingdom is currently investing billions of dollars to boost its production capacity to 12.5 million barrels a day by 2009, up about 11 percent from current levels. 10 major projects are under execution within the Kingdom.


A gas station shows a poster during a gas shortage in Tarija August 9, 2007. The notice reads Due to low pressure in the pipeline, the sale of gas will be at 25% of our usual capacity for the next 24 hours or until advised again.

Norway: No Reason to Exploit Arctic's Gas, Oil 'For Decades'

Technological and logistical factors are likely to preserve the Arctic region's huge reserves of oil and gas from exploitation for decades to come, said Norway's deputy foreign minister Liv Monica Stubholt.

"I think we would do well not to underestimate the difficulties" involved in any exploitation of the high north's natural resources, Stubholt told Thomson Financial News in a telephone interview.

And as far as drilling in the Arctic is concerned, "the technological challenges are (still) insurmountable ... I think we have decades ahead of us before the technology to do this in a safe and sustainable way is there."

British oil worker kidnapped in Nigeria

Gunmen kidnapped an oil-industry worker as he traveled to work Friday in Nigeria's southern oil region, police said.

The man was snatched from his car shortly after dawn in the oil city of Port Harcourt, Rivers State Police Commissioner Felix Ogbaudu said.

Nigerian Militant Group MEND Vows New Oil Attacks

The main Nigerian militant group behind a wave of attacks on energy facilities and abductions of foreign oil workers vowed Thursday to renew attacks on oil pipelines in coming weeks and said it had still not held talks with the country's new government.

Canada's provinces agree to push energy strategy

The premiers of Canada's provinces and territories agreed on Thursday to promote an energy strategy that promotes conservation, cuts regulatory delays and boosts the use of cleaner and renewable energy sources.

What Unites Iraqis: Blocking Western Petroleum Companies From Seizing Control of Their Oil

Despite the ethnic bloodshed in Iraq, majorities of Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds are united in their disapproval of the proposed oil laws that Washington and Big Oil are pushing.

Cambodia to expand navy in gulf to guard oil fields

The Cambodian Ministry of National Defense is planning to significantly expand the Royal Cambodian Navy's presence in the Gulf of Thailand to provide security for companies searching for and extracting oil, local media said on Friday.

Indian auto firms race to develop greener vehicles

Indian vehicle makers are joining the global race to make less-polluting greener vehicles, teaming up with international firms and pouring money into research that could result in commercially viable technologies quickly.

Experts differ about ethanol-water usage

The growing thirst for ethanol takes a lot of water to quench, but less than many people believe and not enough to cause serious problems, experts told farmers.

Humans leave sooty footprint in Arctic

Soot can darken the snow, causing it to absorb sunlight, warm up and melt. That, in turn, can add to local climate warming by exposing darker ground which absorbs energy from the sun that the white snow would have reflected.

Ice cores from before about 1850 show most soot came from forest fires. But since then, black soot in the snow has increased several times over and most now comes from industrial activities, according to a paper in Thursday's online edition of the journal Science.

Did global warming cause NYC tornado?

Flooded subways? A tornado in Brooklyn? It was tempting to blame it all on global warming.

Plenty of public officials were doing just that in the aftermath of a short but violent thunderstorm that paralyzed the nation's largest mass transit network and tore the roofs off limestone townhouses. But in reality, it is not quite that simple, weather and climate experts say.

Natural forces offset global warming last two years: study

Natural weather variations have offset the effects of global warming for the past couple of years and will continue to keep temperatures flat through 2008, a study released Thursday said.

But global warming will begin in earnest in 2009, and a couple of the years between 2009 and 2014 will eclipse 1998, the warmest year on record to date, in the heat stakes, British meteorologists said.

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

Yesterday's financial convulsion is arguably the beginning of the end for a credit expansion of epic proportions that has underlain the economic boom of the last 25 years. It had its roots in the corruption of fractional reserve banking, as directly overseen and facilitated by the Federal Reserve. For those who look to the Fed now for a solution, perhaps it would be advisable to look instead at how the Fed created the current mess.

Fractional reserve banking was designed to provide a controlled credit expansion. However, in the early 1990s, the Fed began to find its rules too restrictve and acted to lower reserve ratios on some deposits and eliminate them for others. In addition, creative accounting implicitly condoned by the Fed allowed banks to circumvent even the limited remaining need to hold reserves. According to the Fed itself (PDF warning, see page 44), by using overnight retail sweep accounts, banks can transfer a proportion of deposits out of the category for which they must hold funds at the Fed (checking deposits), and use them to invest in interest-earning assets.

The lowering of reserve ratios and the acceptance of sweeps by the Fed over a period of many years demonstrates its attitude towards the need for reserves in the first place. How can the Fed claim to be concerned about the unsustainable expansion of the money supply (ie inflation), via the creation of essentially limitless amounts of credit, when it has been fully aware of the corruption of US fractional reserve banking all along? And how can the Fed be unaware of the eventual consequence of uncontrolled credit expansion - a debt crunch - when it has played out many times before?

Massive Surge in Sweeps

Logic? Who cares about logic? Banks are allowed to lend out checking account deposits even though they pay no interest on those accounts. Customers assume the risk and banks literally sweep up the profit. This is a sweet deal for the banks and is accomplished ironically enough via sweeps.

Sweeps are a mechanism by which "excess capital" is swept from some accounts into other buckets based on patterns of expected behavior (not all customers are going to demand all of their money all at once).

Money in the accounts where the money was swept is allowed to be lent out. In essence, the money sitting in your checking account right now is not really sitting there at all. It's lent out all over the place (in theory overnight but in practice for god knows how long or for what)....

....The study does not say it explicitly but I will. There are essentially no bank reserves. Wait a second, I take that back. The combination of fractional reserve lending and sweeps really means there are negative reserves. Far more money has been lent out than really exists.

Sweeps of Retail Transaction Deposits into Savings Deposits

Chart - Sweeps of<br />
Retail Transaction Deposits into Savings Deposits

Source: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.

I would like to send out some HooRaays to PG for all his efforts over at FARK. I believe he did a fine job of educating many of the lurkers there, as opposed to the lazy folks that need some one else to locate conversion tables and data. I don’t believe he mentioned or explained refinery gain to the .48 crowd.

Can you provide a link? There are a number of realists over there but never seen a name I recognize from here.

Roads (and what goes on 'em) is a big part of what gets hashed over and over.

Here's a datum point (via http://www.urbansurvival.com/week.htm)

I was in the highway construction industry (small business owner, subcontractor) since ****. My children took over the company in ****. They've got over $**mil in contracts, but the bank is forcing them out of business (cancelling line of credit, calling in the loan). So, obviously personally distressing circumstances; only one part of the picture though........

The larger story just unfolded.

They informed me this afternoon (Thurs) that for the first time in the history of this company, there is no more work in about 6 weeks time. Not only for them, but the big general contractors (their customers) have been giving them "chatty" type phone calls---also a 'first'. They've been trying to find out if my offspring, or anyone else connected with the industry, has work coming up. The huge general contractors in highway construction have NO jobs starting this fall! This shocking news brought 'home' the state of the economy as nothing else did.

FWIW...in the northern part of the country, almost nobody ever has any jobs in the fall. :)

If it's too cold, asphalt and concrete don't set right. So they close the asphalt plants for the winter. (On different dates, depending on the climate. Usually close in Nov. and open in April around here.) For big but contained projects, like pile driving, they sometimes set up heated tents and work in winter.

For the most part, though, not much construction of any kind goes on when it's cold. A lot of the construction workers work only 6-8 months of the year. During winter, they'll go to Florida and bartend or something.

Also there is hunting season, which kills some time in the fall. Even in my old PA firm, drafters took off for Buck Day, Doe Day, Bow Day, etc.

Contractors really like to line up "winter work," meaning renovation projects that can be done indoors.

Five bidders for the replacement of the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis, this is considered a high number. A fast track hopes to have the bridge completed in 2008.

The idea of actually rebuilding this bridge - tells me there are none in the decision-machine who know of the impending possibility of peak-oil.

If this bridge had collapsed in say 2020, they wouldn’t even bothered to remove the rubble due to priority issues … and also because there are several bridges nearby serving the immediate purpose.

I'm hoping that they finish repaving everything on the same day the oil runs out. I'm tired of biking on the side of tiny roads ever dodging beer bottles being thrown at me from redneck pickups.

I'm sure they'll still throw stuff at us, but it's hard to get a real good throw out the side of a Think Smart Car.

Keep building those roads as long as they can!!!

WTF is it that makes people in cars/trucks decide to throw things at pedestrians and bikers? Is it because they know that they can't be caught up to?
~Durandal (http://www.wtdwtshtf.com/)

Is it because they know that they can't be caught up to?

I hope this isn't a reason they do, but more a lack of a reason not to. They're total expletives for throwing things, but I'd really hate to believe they do it only because they can't be confronted about it. They may well believe (explicitly and consciously) that roads are intended only for motor vehicles so pedestrians and cyclists are tresspassing.

Note that dangerous ignorance occurs in cyclists as well: I once encountered a cyclist who firmly believed that he had "the same [rights] as a pedestrian" (if so I wonder why he signalled his turns) - he'd just nearly caused a collision by making a (signalled) turn across traffic while ignoring a stop sign(!) for his direction. Such negligence angers compentent users of the roads, and helps link "non-motorist road user" to "danger to self and others" in the eyes of the motorist.

These don't excuse the throwing of stuff, however I wanted to explore some potential reasons for a strong negative response to non-motorists - strong emotions cloud judgement, as in road rage.

When people tell me they need to commute in a truck for "intimidation value", I tell them I need to cycle carrying an RPG for intimidation value, but the government won't let me buy one.

And this is why I bought a decent knobby-tired mountain bike last year. After the roads and sidewalks crumble from neglect and trash accumulates, I can still navigate over the debris and off-road if necessary. Mountain bikes will also be better for heavier duty transport than a road bike.

You don't understand how corrupt the US is.
Here is a bridge that collapsed while under construction. The contractor had prior issues of this nature, and yet he is allowed to investigate himself.
Still wonder how many in government get paid off?


In French speaking Switzerland (south-west) we are having a mini construction boom, for dwellings, public works, roads, etc. Why? Because the winter was so hot, construction never stopped. For the first time ever. Cos. just carried on, then went onto the next scheduled thing, etc. This hyper activity has woken up the pols. from their lethargy (they sat down and figured out some new rules or started to take action on points that should have been tackled long ago) and financiers, who see completed projects (etc.)., the public, who feels there is less hassle and shorter times, thus more financial security or predictability, etc.

Of course, all this churning is because it is ‘affordable.’ For the moment. Still the effect has been spectacular.

Yes, I can hardly wait for the massive 8.1-8.4 earthquakes to strike Indonesia, just as Mr. Urban Survival predicted with their predictive linguistic SQL models. *rolls eyes*. And people wonder why we are clumped in with the eccentric?

Lets see:

The other answers to the parent were actual observations about roads.

Yours was to make comments about the author.

Instead of being a 'partying guy' - please try actually rebutting the point about road building based on weather, or examples of building projects.

Which, of course, is why the Maine Turnpike Authority wants to spend at least $5B [close to the annual budget for entire state] to expand the turnpike through Portland. Like the O'Conner bridge in Augusta or the DiCenzo bridge in Calais, it's transferring money from the public into the private pockets or do they really think this is merely the "price of progress"? Are they thinking "get your projects in while you can any way you can" or have they reached the point where they figure rigging the political system is merely the standard means to ends? Maybe the industry doesn't connect to peak oil and diminishing returns, maybe they do, maybe looting is merely the best way to maximize return in the current paradigm.

Anything to keep the current paradigm going.

cfm in Gray, ME

Fed Adds $19 Billion by Buying Mortgage-Backed Debt

The Fed accepted all mortgage-backed debt as collateral for this morning's repurchase agreement, amid losses in U.S. subprime mortgage investments, which are rippling through global credit markets, driving interest rates higher and sinking share prices. The Fed also added $24 billion yesterday, the most since April, as demand for cash increased.

Looks like cash is in demand and assets are being sold to raise it. All very deflationary, is this the start?

Triumvirate of collapse - Economy, Ecosystem, Energy

This is significant, if I have my facts right.

The Fed has always bought back US Treasury debt (T-Bills & Bonds) with a couple of pre-announced tests of US Agency debt, AFAIK.

Having the Fed buy mortgage debt directly (especially sub-prime backed debt) is a MAJOR change in policy ! And announced just hours before implementation.

Is this correct ?


Alan, yes it is significant. I don't believe it is a change of policy par se, it is more PR than anything; "Hey, mortgages aren't toxic, look, were having some so they're safe". It's only $19b after all, but I bet they are top grade nether-the-less. No way is the Fed going to load up on near worthless debt instruments.

A bit more grandstanding by the Fed

WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)--In an effort to calm fears of a global credit crunch, the Federal Reserve on Friday said it is providing liquidity to facilitate the smooth functioning of financial markets.

"The Federal Reserve will provide reserves as necessary through open market operations to promote trading in the federal funds market at rates close to the Federal Open Market Committee's target rate of 5.25%," the statement, issued before the opening of U.S. equity markets, said.

"In current circumstances depository institutions may experience unusual funding needs because of dislocations in money and credit markets. As always the discount window is available as a source of funding," it said.

"It's a little bit of a confidence-building statement," said Zach Pandl, an economist at Lehman Brothers. "I don't think they're trying to take a view on rate cuts at this moment," he added.

The question is will it work or will people be more sceptical and liquidate anyway to raise cash. I think liquidate, let someone else hold the line.

Triumvirate of collapse - Economy, Ecosystem, Energy

Can you say Bank Bailout?

Cid, looks like it. The fact that they bought the securities, rather than lent the money through Open Market Ops or the Discount Window, makes it appear that credit wasn't enough and therefore the need for cash wasn't temporary in nature.

Someone is in trouble and couldn't raise cash through open market sales. Better put the cover on the fan.

Triumvirate of collapse - Economy, Ecosystem, Energy

According to the article:

In repos, the Fed buys U.S. Treasury, mortgage-backed and so-called agency debt from its 21 primary dealers for a set period, temporarily raising the amount of money available in the banking system. At maturity, the securities are returned to the dealers, and the cash to the Fed.

It sounds like a temporary measure to allow the Wall St. robber barons to waltz outside and announce, 'See, we're still flush,' even as they SEC is probing their wallets! Think of it as a game of hide and seek.

No, you're not right.

They are being used as collateral for overnight and 14 day repurchases while banks unwind positions. They aren't "buying" anything. All they are doing is keeping the cash in the banks at high enough levels so that the banks don't get margin called and people can keeping writing checks while they settle short term issues.


Things are really bad in credit land, but this stuff happens all the time and isn't that big a deal, unless of course every bank keeps coming back day after day.

Again, it's a bad thing in these amounts and not a good thing, but please, let's kill the rumour that the Fed is buying houses.

Like I said, it's a temporary game of hide and seek!

Can you please explain me something:

What will the Fed do with these subprime-backed debts? To resell it later when the market is in a better shape?

Edit: no need to answer, I've got my answer down the thread

Chevy is still pushing the Volt.

GM signs battery pact, says it could lead electric car race

GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz said the deal, coupled with a published report that Toyota Motor Corp. would delay launches of lithium-ion battery powered hybrids for up to two years, could give GM the lead in bringing the new clean technology to market.


Those five guys in red were hedge fund managers last week.

Thanks for the articles on electric cars leenan. I enjoy them. Seriously exciting things going on with battery technology. Not sure if it has been posted before but Altair (who is working with phoenix motors) has recently had 3rd party confirmation of a 10 minute quick charge of its nanosafe batteries. Of course it needs a special filling station, but best hopes to going to the charging station rather than the gas station in the future.

AltairNano's batteries are great, but really expensive. There are some really good batteries available NOW, for a REASONABLE price. Everspring's Thundersky (China), and PHET (Tiawan) are both capable of storing enough energy for an average car or light truck to get 100+ mile range for around $15k. These packs are 1/3 of the weight of lead acid and last for over ten years.

We cannot wait for Detroit. They are intentionally dragging their feet. I got my first EV last week. It was affordable and I LOVE it. The time is NOW people. If you don't want to convert one yourself, look up http://www.lionev.com/Vehicles.html or
http://www.ecoautoinc.com to get a functional full size EV now.

Other makers like Zap and Miles Automotive will be coming out with affordable production EV's nex year.

The Volt & the Plug-In Prius are both a distraction, poor solutions, and likely to be late. Heck, if you want your Prius to be a plug in, there are tons of companies that can do it TODAY (http://www.hybrids-plus.com/).

Thanks for the Links TtheD. Have you seen the Zap-X car?


An advanced battery system will enable the car to travel a range up to 350 miles between charges, with a rapid charge technology that can recharge the batteries in as little as 10 minutes.

From Zapworld. Coming soon. Zapworld doesn't ever make actual products. That make big announcements of stuff that is coming real soon now so they can scam the investors.

Zapworld doesn't ever make actual products.



Yup. Hopefully soon it will be more than just a pretty picture. They will be using the AltairNano battery.

The new generation Li-Ion's performance ratings are just now being confirmed by independent testers and expect a bunch of new start ups and conversion companies to appear soon. There is no longer any excuse to use an ICE auto as your daily driver.

There is no longer any excuse to use an ICE auto as your daily driver.

Ummm...money? People are driving their cars for an average of eight years now, and many drive them much longer than that. Generally for financial reasons.

I plan on driving my Corolla until the gas stations run dry or I retire and I don't need to drive any more.

How much do you think you'll spend on gas, oil changes, repairs, etc until the gas stations run dry? Do you want to be stuck when they are dry?

A corolla would be easy and cheap to convert. Once you're there, and hopefully using RE for electricity, you will save money in the long run, not be contributing to big oil or the PO mess, and when the pumps run dry you can still motor around.

If you don't have $10k to do it, then I understand. But in the long run, it'll cost you more.

How much do you think you'll spend on gas, oil changes, repairs, etc until the gas stations run dry?

Not much. I don't drive much. And it's not like EVs are no-maintenance or electricity is free.

And then there's the time value of money. Shelling out $10,000 today is a very different prospect from shelling out $10,000 over the next 25 years.

Do you want to be stuck when they are dry?

I won't be stuck. I've arranged my life so I can live without a car if necessary.

EV's are very low maintenance and electricity is a lot cheaper than gasoline. But I hear what you're saying and I agree it is not for everybody.

For me, it pencils out. The benefit of a low carbon footprint, freeing myself from all the negative externalities of using oil, and using my $ to promote the only marginally sustainable form of assisted personal transportation is very sweet icing on the cake.

You're right that the cheapest option is to drive an efficient beater until it dies. I would argue that those with the big picture knowledge of all of us at TOD and the financial means, have a duty to promote technologies that have a *chance* at getting us through this mess.

****Please don't take that last sentence to imply that you aren't doing your part Leanan. I am very grateful, as is everybody, for your immense contributions******

I would argue that those with the big picture knowledge of all of us at TOD and the financial means, have a duty to promote technologies that have a *chance* at getting us through this mess.

And I would argue that the smarter thing to do is arrange our lives and our communities so that driving isn't needed.

It's not an even or. Both need to occur and both will. And BTW, there are a lot of people working on it. Probably don't have as much time as the rest of us to read/post at TOD.

I agree completely. But then I would add that trying to arrange our community so that driving isn't needed may be a tougher task then starting with the personal challenge of affording an EV.

Also, people aren't going to give up driving completely. My wife takes the bus 25 miles to work, and I ride my bike. We still need a car for groceries, bad weather, taking our dogs to a hike, etc.

We need MANY changes. Driving and promoting EV's, local organic produce and economies, efficient buildings, and adoption of small and large scale RE are changes we can all work towards today.

Sustainable communities are my goal, as yours, and these are the steps I have taken personal responsibility to work towards to help us get there.

Best of luck to you in your efforts for our common goal!

We started here http://njssi.org/

Kudos! I wish you great success.

[the smarter thing to do is arrange our lives and our communities so that driving isn't needed]

I agree but am finding that arranging your life is far easier than interesting community in what is going on. You can speak on PO and the need to relocalize food production, but until TSHTF, people just smile politely and continue their lives and worry about the immediate things like paying the bills. I've built passive solar, put in PV and geothermal, installed a masonry heater, and oriented the farm toward self-sufficiency, but I think the most that the actions have accomplished at this point is personal preparation and some personal education on the scalability of alternative energy. I don't think it's reaching community yet and am not sure how that will occur.

Yes, it's kind of discouraging. I'm engineer, because I'm better with things and ideas than I am with people. Outreach really isn't my thing.

And yet, it's become obvious to me that outreach is the only thing likely to make any real difference. Technology isn't going to provide a long-term solution. And people will not support things like mass transit if they don't understand the whole peak oil problem.

Can you at least modify that to "Technology on its own isn't going to provide a long-term solution".
New technology, and changes in the way we use existing technology, will be a very significant part of how P.O. is ultimately dealt with. Given our civilisation and existence is utterly reliant on technology (and has been since the first stone flint was created), it could hardly be otherwise.

I think she meant "shiny new technology that hasn't been invented yet, much less proven".

Of course how we choose and deploy technology is a huge part of how PO might ultimately be dealt with. IMO, the "how we choose and deploy" part is at least as important as the "technology" part, and if history is any guide, the trickier part.

Leanan, thank you for putting Drumbeat together day after day, you rock!

However, I most sincerely hope that outreach is NOT "the only thing likely to make any real difference." I'm a gregarious guy, and have some social cred as a "smart guy". Notheless, none of the 12 (I just added it up) people I've spent an hour or so explaing PO to have made any change in their lives that I can detect. Just as vtfarmer said, "...people just smile politiely and continue their lives and worry about immediate things like paying the bills."

So I tried hosting a PO meetup for the last 4 months, out of 4 million people in the greater Miami area, I've had two people show up, both of whom are already PO aware. The only positive thing I can say about the money spent is that when the dieoff starts, I can tell myself I put my money where my mouth is.

One positive observation: people do seem interested in the Cantarell story, maybe because R. Cantarell is a real person or maybe because it's nearby and fairly near-term. Can we get Mr Cantarell to make the college lecture tour?

Errol in Miami

VTfarmer sounds great I have been checking into the masonry heaters and think they are the way to go. How did you install yours? In a new build or an existing home? I understand the mass requires lots of structural support. I found a place in Maine that specializes in installing them or will sell you a kit with plans. Of course that's a bit of a haul from Kansas. Any other resources you can suggest. THANKS!

Try the Masonry Heater Assoc

Mine is supported on a good slab foundation and a plain cinder block supporting box frame which captures the ash and has a clean out door.

The kits are easy enough that any capable mason can put together.

Kansas Crude,

The Masonry Heater Association

I recommended one to my friend and his wife for a log home they built southwest of Denver in the mountains. Along with this I made suggestions for increasing ceiling insulation along with rigid insulation for the basement walls and floor. When I asked him this summer how the masonry heater was working he said, "I have not used it yet, my heating bills are so reasonable because of all the insulation you made me use". He has much pine to burn due to pine beetles so it will get used this winter.


The MHA website is a good site and lists a couple masons in MO who do masonry heaters. You could also look at the Tulikivi website. They have a generally pre-fab product that has to be put together by a mason, but it is soapstone and is an attractive product that in general seems pretty efficient. They also have a number of sizes available depending on your needs. But overall, masonry heaters made more sense than woodstoves because they don't take constant tending.

Mine is part of a new build and has a cinder-block foundation with an 8" concrete slab with a lot of rebar, but it's also a 12 ton unit because it has a soapstone cookstove in addition to the masonry heater (I'm into redundancy and back-up systems so I want to be able to cook if the grid goes down and my electric ovens aren't connected to my battery bank).

You should be able to find one to meet your needs, and they are very efficient.

Hey Thanks for the responses Godraz,BTU and VTfarmer appreciate you all taking time to provide direction.

How much do the batteries cost? How often do they need to be replaced. What kind of batteries do you have? What is the range of your vehicle? With the cost and longevity of batteries, I am not sure that it "pencils out". But I have an open mind and, certainly, the idea of an EV or a PHEV seems very appealing. Could you actually show us the calculations you used to show that it "pencils out".

Add to that an explanation of how he makes all those batteries just disappear into thin air when he's done with them.

"You're right that the cheapest option is to drive an efficient beater until it dies. I would argue that those with the big picture knowledge of all of us at TOD and the financial means, have a duty to promote technologies that have a *chance* at getting us through this mess."

Not only is keeping the old beater until it collapses cheaper but the reduced demand for new vehicles should decrease the total entropy of producing completely new vehicles.

The idea I think is that conservation of what we have is better than consuming more. As someone has mentioned "We can't produce our way out of this."

I would argue that those with the big picture knowledge of all of us at TOD and the financial means, have a duty to promote technologies that have a *chance* at getting us through this mess

I would suggest that the funds would be better "spent" if invested in a renewable energy developer such as Canadian Hydro Development (who are now doing more wind than small hydro with some biomass). They plow all cash flow back into new development and not into dividends.

One on my rationalizations against solar PV on a personal level is that money would do more in the hands of CHD.

Best Hopes for more Renewable Energy, and slower Global Warming,


There's also the issue of buying new technology at the right time. Do you go ahead and be an early adopter and buy that Commodore 64 or TRaSh 80, thus getting a leg up in hands-on know-how over the rest of the world? Or do you sit it out a couple of years in hopes that something significantly better (like a Mac) comes on the market?

Yes. That's why I didn't go with a Prius. Toyota has a good reputation, but the technology is still too new. I'm willing to be an early adopter for some things, but not for something as expensive as a car.

Leanan - I note you didn't say 'or til it dies'. I got 320,000 miles on mine before trading it in. Probably still running in some SA country. Long live the Corolla.

Yup. That's a big reason I chose a Corolla. :-)

It may have been affordable for you, but $28,000.00+ is a bit out of my price range. When I can get a vehicle for $15,000.00 then we MIGHT talk. Until then I buy used vehicles that have a history of getting good mileage.

If you have or can get your hands on a light weight donor vehicle, you can easily convert it to lead acid for under $8K. If you've got time on your hands then you could do a Li-Ion for $15.

BTW, I got my EV off EBAY for under $14k. It is a production Ford Ranger EV and it is in great shape.

Are we talking now?

Actually no. Lead acid batteries do not have enough reliability or longevity. Being in the middle of nowhere on a small farm in rural Illinois I need something I can depend on and not have to replace the battery bank every few years - sometimes with no warning. I have discussed the problem of battery reliability with an engineer friend of mine who supervises the construction of diesel power stations that use massive battery backup for telephone companies, hospitals, and hotels (he did this for SBC and took an early retirement) and it was his opinion that batteries were not reliable enough to justify an electric vehicle for daily transportation. Now if someone who deals with this on daily basis won’t make the jump, why should I?

I've driven electric and natural gas vehicles, and the main problem I have with them is range. They don't go as far on a fuel-up as a gasoline-powered car. This is especially notable with the electric vehicles. The practical range is about 25 miles, which is not enough. Especially since there's no place to fill them up again, except back at the office.

And if you have two people in the car instead of one, or try running the heater or aircon, forget it. You'll run out of juice at the end of your driveway, just about.

with the old school battery technology this is true. Do some reading up on A123, Altair. Heck, look at the Toyota EV4, and its patented Nickle Metal batteries. The RAV4-ev was manufactured in the late 90's and got 80-120 miles on a single charge.


This would be a real problem where I’m at where everything is at least twenty miles round trip. Miscalculate one time and I’m stranded in the middle of nowhere where a cell phone is useless and if all goes wrong, in bad weather conditions.

and that my friend is where your range extender generator would kick in. This generator would be designed to accept a variety of fuels. This is the beauty of the volt, if for some reason you need to go more than 40 miles in a day or whatever your range is when the charge gets to 0, the range extender kicks in and charges your battery, getting you where you need go.

Yup. Another factor is temperature. Batteries don't handle cold well. I expect EVs will prove to be most practical in warmer climes.

again with new battery technology, specifically new nanotechnology batteries even temperature is not really an issue anymore.

Wide Operating Temperature Range Altairnano batteries can operate at temperatures as low as –50°C and as high as +75°C, with no unsafe characteristics. NanoSafe batteries can be charged to 90% of their room temperature charge even at –30°C and are safe at temperatures up to 250°C. These wide operarting ranges make the batteries ideal for sub-zero conditions, desert environments, and high altitude temperatures.

Plus it is very easy to insulate the traction battery pack to eliminate the effects of cold weather.

I agree with you, there is nothing wrong with purchasing a reasonably efficient vehicle at a good price.

I fail to see the moral high ground in owning THE most efficient vehicle ever, especially when another THE most efficient vehicle ever is probably just around the corner. Then what, now you have a moral obligation to buy it?

How about this, stop buying crap you don't need made by people you don't like with money you don't have. This isn't directed at you Leanan.

Remember folks, the hierarchy is reduce, reuse, recycle. Reduce will always be the most efficient method.

If you live in the middle of nowhere and don't have the funds for Li-Ion, then you're right, you should be using bio-diesel.

Listen, Li-Ion's are capable of everything we need for 95% of our personal transportation. Right now they cost so much because Detroit won't mass produce EV's. If people start buying the batteries the costs will come down DRAMATICALLY to a point where everyone can afford them.

If people conscious of our global situation don't take the initiative to do something about it, nobody will. Batteries will stay expensive, companies will go out of business, and we'll all be prisoners to the pumps until they fail and there is no alternative.

We do have a chance in the next couple of years to make a difference. Please don't bash their potential because it doesn't work for you at this very moment. For many on here, it may be just the ticket.

Bio-diesel. And why should I be running bio-diesel? Oh yeah, so I could travel twenty five miles to the nearest fast food joints to collect grease, travel back to my place to process it, and then get the facilities to store it. And if that is not enough try to find a vehicle (ever price used diesels lately such as the Jetta?) to run it at economically - especially in my pick up. Then when everybody starts running bio-diesel and the grease pits dry up we’ll have to process soy (yes, many soy fields have signs proclaiming the wonders of bio-diesel) and really run up the prices on commodities. Back to square one - expensive fuel, expensive food.

As far as Detroit or any other large manufacturer making electric vehicles I suspect it comes down to an important factor - can they mass produce such vehicles with a long warranty, useful range, and dependably perform in a variety of conditions from Northern Minnesota during winter to Death Valley California at a profit? I suspect the answer they came up with is no, at least not at this time.

If you have the wherewithal, money, and motivation to blaze a new path then be my guest. I’m done with making experimental vehicles (I used to build racing cars and motorcycles years ago and do 100% of my mechanic work) that are a drain on my finances and time.

If you want to write off every promising technology without doing any research or just taking a buddy's word for it, then be my guest.

And I don't see how building race cars relates to what we're talking about.

Oh well, we're all just doomed right? Lets just lie down and accept it.

"Oh well, we're all just doomed right? Lets just lie down and accept it."

That's not the point. The point is that we don't have a heck of a lot of time or resources before TSHTF, and we can't afford to be distracted by wishful thinking.

I have examined most of the technologies put forward here, and they typically fall way short in one or more ways. You can't blame people for being tired of getting sold impossible dreams. Nor do I blame people for holding on to impossible dreams - that's human nature, too.

So sgage, what do you suggest?

I suggest realistically examining the technologies that various people put forward - for their EROEI, the sustainable availability of the resources required to manufacture and maintain these technologies, and some evidence that the technology might plausibly scale to something useful beyond the laboratory, at a reasonable price.

At the same time, I suggest major conservation, and a willingness to accept that perhaps you can't run a society the same way on "current accounts" energy that you could on a one time massive legacy of fossil fuels.

Therefore, technologies that seem to have no other purpose than to perpetuate an illusion that we can continue business as usual seem to me to be less useful and interesting than efforts by people to work out new ideas about flows of travel and transport of goods.

I also don't believe that we have anything like a package of solutions yet, though good ol' Alan has put forth a lot of excellent ideas. And of course, it will be a _package_ of solutions - some technological, some more along the lines of adapting living arrangements, and so forth.

Well said.

So lets not even bother discussing biofuels for the moment (which I think are a waste - anything that evolved over 0.1 - 10 million years should not be burned, it should be revered). But consider an electric car (perhaps with backup ICE to quell the concerns of Bruce).

EVs have been around for more than decade, even with few moving parts and the high efficiency; we all know the early problems and the continuing challenge of power and energy storage, weight, etc. And I won't contest there isn't typical hype that leads to unrealistic expectations.

But consider for a moment that as a few early adopters buy EVs, and upfront costs come down a bit, and vehicle leases or battery leases become available, and cost-savings ($/kWh vs $/gal gas) become apparent, that there will be some market penetration for this vehicles. Maybe the short commute, or the dreaded soccer match, or such things.

Now EVs provide storage capacity. Most auto are not in use 90% of a day. With increasing storage capacity provided by the EV batteries plugged into the grid, RE such as wind and solar have now a place to store their energy, a very distributed network of EVs. V2G.

So with no tailpipe emissions, energy supply from the grid, which is more and more from RE, one might say in a decade things will look very different and (hope against hope) better. A solution with the least number of obvious unintended consequences.

*Homily Over* Back to more fun, clever comments.

Being a mechanic is very important considering that you’re asking me to spend $15,000.00 out of my pocket to build a vehicle which for all purposes is “experimental”. Being a old gearhead I’ve experienced being stuck on the side of the road when I miscalculated one of my modifications something I do not have the desire to do again. Being a old gearhead means that in my present vehicles are kept in top running condition extract the most mileage out of my present vehicles, and I‘ve personally rebuilt all of the vehicles I‘ve owned. I guess these skills have no bearing on whether I can convert a vehicle to bio-diesel or EV, or that I can evaluate its’ efficacy for my situation. Ever hear of transferable skills?

I have no use for technology that is “promising” in daily use. I need something that I can use now, and without spending hours making it work. You were the one that proclaimed I should be using biodiesel. And I responded that in my situation it was inappropriate. As to my friend he is an engineer that deals with lead acid batteries everyday in his job in designing power stations. When I was thinking of setting up stand alone solar power station for my farm, he was the one I consulted seeing that is what he does. You brought up lead acid batteries for use in a vehicle. Now should I listen to my engineer friend who knows batteries inside and out, or some anonymous geek ideologue who could be a pimply faced teenager who lives in his mother’s basement?

Damn, unfortunately being in a isolated rural area and having only dial-up Youtube is a luxury I can no longer experience.

Gosh, Bruce, you're missing a lot. Have you considered the Dish? It's particularly good for remote locations.

Right now it is not in my budget, and I’m not sure I really want make it part of my budget. I don’t really miss not having high speed internet anymore - I had DSL for seven years in Chicago. I don’t even have the TV hooked up. The past two years I’ve been cutting my expenses dramatically and now I don’t have to work as much so I don‘t. More time to work on my ten acre farmette.

Well good luck then. 10 acres is a nice farm size, I wish you well if you're growing produce. BTW, you're not missing anyting on TV IMO, you're better off with radio and NPR.

I listen to NPR all day out of Carbondale. I'm growing fruit, veggies, garlic, nuts, and wine grapes - the latest wine varieties from University of Minnesota and Cornell University. When I start making my wine 3-4 years from now I'm going to call it Lifeboat Springs.

Well, besides the produce the grapes will be critical in a post-PO world, as well as those distillery skills :)

BTW, two fine schools.

If you did not know he is using the video to call you a 'loser' intact thats what the title of the movie is called and the song.

One of my favorite songs. My nickname was the "loser" a few years ago out of my inability to "close the deal" with women. If it wasn't for the wild seventies I would have been a 40 year old virgin. It's kind of ironic that the qualities that women ignored in me years ago - extreme handyman who can build and fix anything - are now valued by women who went through relationships with men who did not know what end of a hammer to use.

I'm a loser baby.....so why don't you kill me

There is no need to defend yourself. You're not doing anything wrong.

These forums will always have opinions distributed across a bell curve. Take away that which you find useful and skip over the rest.


When do we see "peak lithium?"

We'll be long dead if ever. There literally is a shitload of lithium in the world and it can be recycled.

Some energy is required to make pure lithium, or refine it from its compounds in a recycling effort. I believe that most of that energy comes from fossil fuel right now. Am I wrong?

Yes, and hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe.

"literally a shitload" - for the not so literally minded, could you define a "shitload?" Then I would know, literally I mean, how much we are talking about.

Identified resources are 0.76 and 13 Mtons in the US and the world, respectively.

I believe these are land resources. Seawater has enormous lithium salts, goolge for a table on this in ppm or kg/l, then multiply by volume of the sea.
Extraction, and separation, are what one might focus on. And once isolated, lithium is recyclable. Heck, one might say renewable.

Not that I know whether this in fact defines a shipload. Wasn’t it a shipload?

10.74 million tons according to this. The author speculates that there isn't enough to convert to electric vehicles at the same scale as internal combustion engine based vehicles are used.

- Scott
"Try sour grapes; you might like them."

They're pushing it, because that's just an empty shell that they use to show the body of the Volt. They're not actually letting the real WORKING one out in public except in very rare occurrences.
~Durandal (http://www.wtdwtshtf.com/)

VOLT stands for Vehicle On Legged Transport

Fred Flintstone's car was an early prototype.

It's been a long time between when they showed it, when they decided to produce it, and when they announced they decided to contract out research on battery technology to power it!

Here's how it works, in my experience. The MBAs in the company have read Clayton Christensen’s books, most understood them, and some have tried to get the message to the curtain-pullers, frustrated no one is listening.

But Q3 numbers are pressing, sales are plummeting, wildfires are burning, and gosh if we screw H2'07 then 'o8 just won't matter - we'll all be fired.

But R&D teams continue. I assert within 6 months of commercial availability of a plug-in EV from one of the upstarts, the Volt will be on the showroom floor (ready or not). With Ford and others not far behind. Heck, maybe ahead.

The Big 3 will farm out the good stuff, and in ten years ask why they lost the lead.

But the upstarts will win, agile, innovative, novel supply chain, Apple-like marketing. Let's see, IBM asked Bill Gates and Paul Allen to provide the DOS software for their PCs. Hmmm. they're pretty smart up in Armonk. But vision is another thing. As best I know, they're out of the PC business. (But into solutions.)

Ouch! Dow Jones opening at -140! a long day ahead!

I have always believed that downturns in the financial markets should be characterized by bulls since cattle have a herding instinct and bears do not. The markets, for now, are being led by fear of a 'liquidity crisis' and all the talking heads are playing it for all the $milage$ that they can get...selling commercial time by the second. The herd is milling and one clap of thunder will set them in motion...Jack Crooks over at Black Swan has an interesting take on the herding instinct. BTW, I am in no way connected to any financial institution...and right now I am glad of it!


FX Trading - Crash dynamics
Last night I thought it might be appropriate to scan through a book I read (or tried to read) a few years ago. The title is Why Stock Markets Crash, and it was written by Didier Sornette. I'm not suggesting everyone, or anyone, rush out to find the book to learn the Holy Grail - there is none. And unless you are a math junkie, the book may be a bit disappointing. I'm not a math junkie (unfortunately) and most of it was well over my head - fluid dynamics, power laws, log periodicity and the like. Sornette is a professor of geophysics, not economics. But even so, I found it at times fascinating, as Sornette has a bunch of very different and original ideas on how all this stuff fits together.

Here is one idea I especially like. Read it slowly a couple of times and think about it before you dismiss it (I keep finding more when I reread and am on about a hundred times):

"As we already emphasized, the stock market is made of actors that differ in size by many orders of magnitude, ranging from individuals to gigantic professional investors such as pension funds. Structures at even higher levels, such as currency, influences spheres (US$, euro, yen etc), and with the current globalization and deregulation of the market one may argue that structures on the largest possible scale - that of the world economy - are beginning to form. This means that the structure of the financial markets has features that resemble that of hierarchical systems with 'agents' on all levels of the market.

"Of course, this does not imply that any strict hierarchical structure of the stock market exists. However, [there is a] critical phenomenon called 'log periodicity' in which, for instance, the probability or the hazard rate is not monotonously accelerating but is decorated by oscillations with frequencies accelerating as the critical time is approached."

These structures, driven by the fact that we are organized into "social/professional networks" in our everyday lives, are more vast and interrelated than we realize. These structures "control the spread of information". (Think "six degrees of separation.")

Okay so far?

We tend to get market scaling (think fractal patterns) that links these structures into a hierarchical pattern.

Enough of that - here's a basic example: if we consider trend-following strategies, which seem to be common in all markets at all levels by many different actors, we know they provide a feedback loop. On the upside we call it a bull market. Everyone is happy. Analysts prove their worth, as they tout their winners and intellect. Banks keep multiplying loans and fees as their lending in effect bids up the underlying collateral they are lending against, in a reflexive fashion. Investors add more money to the trend because their rationales, or rationales of their gurus (substitute "charlatans" there if it fits), have been validated.

This process leads to "ever accelerating oscillations" because it creates a herding mentality. We can witness herding anecdotally. Just think of hedge funds. These guys are paid big bucks to come up with creative and independent ideas on how to invest money. Most of them are smart guys, or at the least well connected (ie, in a social/professional network). It turns out there is little independence and much dependence in this seemingly smart and creative group. They all do the same trades.

Now if you add tout TV (CNBC, Bloomberg, Nightly Business Report, etc) to the mix - creating even more herd-like behavior - the idea of the market consisting of hierarchical structures begins to make sense. I think.

There is much more, but we can sum it up like this: "Crashes occur as possible outcomes of long preparation, which we term 'herding', which pushes the market into increasingly unstable regimes. When in this state, there are many possible 'local' causes that may cause it to stumble ... From an efficient market viewpoint, the speculative attacks are nothing but the revelation of the instability and the means by which markets are forced back to a more stable dynamical state."

This is called a crash!

Well, yes. Herds are eventually either pushed off a cliff or sent to a slaughter house for the benefit of a greater (or at least cleverer and more ruthless) intelligence.

However, all this complexity which has been described requires phenomenal amounts of energy to maintain (cf. Tainter) and will collapse of its own accord at some critical juncture. In the end, it is not the clever predators who win, but the bottom feeders and the bacteria who thrive on collapse.

Here's another energy quiz that is pretty up to date.


Interesting paper (not read the full paper) by Bruce E. Dale:

'Thinking clearly about biofuels: ending the irrelevant net energy debate and developing better performance metrics for alternative fuels'

"biofuels could be rated on how much petroleum use they can displace or their greenhouse gas production compared with petroleum. His calculations indicate that every MJ of ethanol can displace 28 MJ of petroleum, in other words ethanol greatly extends our existing supplies of petroleum"
from: http://www.scientificblogging.com/news/net_energy_is_a_dangerous_and_mis...

I guess this means we were all worried for nothing, can close down the website and put in an order for that flex-fuel SUV, right?

PS Kind reminder to turn on the sarcasm detector...

Dale thinks we should just measure CO2 emissions per kilometer driven. That way, if we use coal to produce ethanol, it looks very environmentally friendly.

Dale's claims have grown more and more exaggerated. I knew him when he was at A&M (a buddy of mine worked for him), and my lab was next to his. He is a nice guy. But what he has been saying lately might as well have been written by the ethanol lobby. He wants to shift the focus away from net energy issues, because after all, we can burn ethanol in a car! He paints a picture where natural gas used to produce the ethanol is not a perfectly adequate transportation fuel.

No, Dale points out that things like coal and natural gas are "low quality", and we should encourage turning them into ethanol - net energy be damned. Then it we only measure the exhaust emissions, it's all good.

You are not really expecting me to read something containing the words "irrelevant net energy debate", do you?

As for the drumbeat article's of today sofar, what are the Norwegians up to? I thought they have plenty experience in getting oil & gas in harsh conditions. Are they saving it for the future? Like they have amassed US $ 300 bn. ?

edited for spelling

His calculations indicate that every MJ of ethanol can displace 28 MJ of petroleum, in other words ethanol greatly extends our existing supplies of petroleum.

I don't understand how he got that number. My understanding is that you need more ethanol to do the same job because it has a lesser energy density than gasoline.

Maybe he was talking about volume.

For those with some hope for the future and an interest in very low energy consuming housing you may want to check out this venue.


The passive house is a spinoff of the superinsulation movement of the late 1970's and early 1980's with some great improvements in windows, ventilation equipment and reduced thermal bridging techniques, this is where the action is in my opinion.

Natural Gas Liquids Update

My latest Oil & Gas Journal arrived with some NGL data.

Year on Year 4 month averages

2006 — 7.993 million barrels/day
2007 — 8.057 million barrels/day

Because the IEA's medium-term non-OPEC liquids growth depends on NGL increases, I feel it is important to track this number. As you can see the "growth" is so anemic that is surely well within the data collecting margin of error.

Production of NGPL has grown by 20% since 2000 (~2.6%/year). But in terms of barrel of oil equivalent (boe), it has only grown by 13% (~1.8%/year) because NGPL have a smaller energy density. In Comparison, conventional oil production has grown by 10% (not including Canadian tar sands) or 1.4%/year.

But in terms of barrel of oil equivalent (boe), it has only grown by 13% (~1.8%/year) because NGPL have a smaller energy density.

Say what? Percentages are unit-free, last time I checked. That's like saying the 3% S&P dive yesterday wasn't really 3% because the dollar isn't what it used to be.

Of course you are correct! posted too fast :). Nevertheless, in absolute terms, a barrel of NGPL is displacing only 0.68 barrel of oil.

Aside from the energy density issue, there is also the problem of fuel (and hence market) saturation. Only so much NGL can be blended to make the finished gasoline (vapor pressure problem), so what happens if there is an oversupply of NGL? It could be used for something else besides blending (or maybe it is...), but that doesn't solve the current fuel/infrastructure problem.

Also, some of those NG liquids used to be left in the NG, adding to the energy contents of the gas. Thus, moving them into the liquid side of things is a form of XTL, and makes the NG market tighter and the upcoming NG peak sooner.

Seeking expanded rail service in Illinois -


Rep. Elaine Nekritz, D-Northbrook, who chairs the House railroad safety committee, said ridership has “exploded” on four rail lines that received more state operating money last year. Those routes all have one end point in Chicago and go to Quincy, St. Louis, Carbondale and Milwaukee.

“We are at risk of losing the increased service if we don’t make some capital investment,” Nekritz said, adding that more train equipment also will need to be purchased to serve new areas.

Rep. Don Moffitt of Gilson, Republican spokesman on the railroad committee, said the more widespread rail service becomes, the better a transportation option it is. He also noted it relieves road congestion and is environmentally friendly.

Just think what their ridership would be if Amtrak could get the trains running on time. Because Amtrak shares tracks with other trains there are often huge delays. Last spring I waited almost two hours to catch a train from Mattoon, Illinois to Chicago. Regular passengers stated that this was a normal occurrence. Amtrak really need independent passenger line tracks .I set up Amtrak’s booth at a trade show last year and they agreed that time sharing does cause problems. But in an atmosphere where the airline industry is the politicians darling, and Amtrak the bastard stepson, this situation will not change.

Very few passenger rail routes have enough traffic to justify exclusive tracks, and even Amtrak's NorthEast Corridor (DC-Baltimore-Philly-NYC-New Haven-Boston) could carry light & medium density freight late at night. It is electrified BTW.

Th solution is more tracks, better signals (best case, NEC runs trains in both directions on both tracks) and electrification (rule of thumb, electrification increases capacity by +20%), not exclusive pax only lines (where do you get the ROW ?)

I can see short pax only spurs and "go arounds".

Best Hopes for More Tracks, Better Signals and Electrification,


I worked for a while doing railroad accident investigation and I learned that there are some fundamental problems that result from mixing passenger and freight on the same tracks.

The curves on a rail line are set for a specific speed range by adjusting the bank angle in the turn. A turn which is set for low speed freight will not be appropriate for high speed passenger, as the train will tend to roll off the outside of the turn. Conversely, a turn with a steep bank set for high speed passenger traffic will result in the low speed freight cars falling off to the inside of the turn. Think of the banked turns at a NASCAR race track. Lots of folks think the wheel flange on the train car trucks keep the cars moving along the rails. In practice, the slight taper of the outer portion of the wheels is all that keeps the cars on the tracks, not the larger diameter inner rim flange.

Then too, there's the problem of fast passenger trains needing to pass those slow freight trains. Scheduling those passing events at sidings would be a constant headache.

E. Swanson

The Swiss (SBB or one of the Japanese RRs are the best run in the world) plan to run 240 kph pax trains with 100 kph freight trains.

Yes, scheduling requires skill and adequate capacity but good railroads do it easily..

The Swedes invented (and the engineering abortion Acela uses it as well as the decent Italian trains) tilting trains to negate any banking issues.

Best Hopes for semi-High Speed Passenger trains.


Active tilting is only done for comfort reasons, not to keep the train on the tracks in tight curves. For safety reasons the train must stay on the tracks with broken active tilting tilting in the wrong direction.

I dont know if curves banked for high speed passanger trains is a problem for low speed cargo. The problem might be overstated.

The train nerds I follow in the local debate only gripe about the scheduling problems of mixing slow cargo trains, high speed trains and manny-stops commuter trains. You can stretch the infrastructure with tight scheduling but then you make the system sensitive for distrurbances where one delayd train can set of cascade of delaying. You can make that problem slower by adding margin in the running speed and hold times at stations but then you degrade the service and get less work out of the rolling stock.

The only relay good solution is to add tracks as the traffic grows. Even sparsely populated Sweden is starting to get 4 track or what essentialy is 2 + 2 track sections when new high speed rail is built.

Amtrak's problem is that, except for the BosWash corridor and a handful of other routes like Chicago/Milwaukee, it is focused almost exclusively on long haul routes. Thus, Amtrak pretty much goes head-to-head against the airlines. The airlines have the advantages of quicker trips, more frequent trips, and more convenient schedules.

It would make a lot more sense if passenger rail in the US were focused mainly on intercity routes of up to a few hundred miles or so. At those distances, passenger rail can take people from downtown to downtown in a time frame that is competitive with air, even without high-speed rail. Furthermore, if you are just running a train back and forth between city A and city B, you can do it during the daytime when it actually is convenient for people, and maybe even do the run more than once per day.

Once those intercity routes were established, an interlinked passenger rail network would then emerge. If one wanted to take the train across the continent, one could do so, but there might be quite a few train changes along the way, maybe even having to lodge in some hotels overnight. If (or more accurately, when) airline service starts to falter, a more robust passenger rail network would be in place that could be more easily scaled up to take up the slack.

Am I the only one who is at least a little suspicious that the OPEC meeting is scheduled for, ahem, Sept. 11?

That date was a choice, and the irony of it is screaming loudly.

well put

Hello Sunspot,

I fully expect OPEC not to increase output for a myriad of reasons so well detailed by other TODers' previous postings. They will simply follow constrained production to keep prices high like the potash industry to maximize profits:

It is by far the world's largest producer of potash, producing 23% of the world's supply. It also controls almost all of the world's unused supply, and has long deliberately held back production to keep potash prices high. It is also the world's largest fertilizer producer. It is the third largest phosphate producer and fourth largest nitrogen producer.
As one can readily see from reading the Wiki-link: OPEC is merely emulating the constrictive extraction-policies of the mining industries.

As posted before: wars were fought pre-FFs for agri-minerals, and postPeak wars for these food-growing essentials will occur again.

Just as the FF-resource rich countries nationalized their extractive, but depleting wealth: I eventually expect the few countries that have potash and phosphates to do the same. Humans can live without FFs [admittedly not easily], but it is impossible to survive without food. We need these minerals to help us bridge to fully organic, closed localized-loop permaculture, and soil enrichment to facilitate required tree-migration to climate change.

Map of Potash Resources:


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

Canadian March 2007 stats Canada report on Crude oil and refineries


Analysis – March 2007
Refinery production in March 2007 totalled 10.6 million cubic metres about the same level as March 2006.
Transportation fuels including aviation fuels, motor gasoline and diesel fuel oil accounted for almost two-thirds total
refinery production.
The largest volumetric decreases in production were seen in asphalt, the other products category composed of
unfinished and unspecified products and petrochemicals. Motor gasoline production remained relatively flat while
diesel fuel oil posted a modest gain.
Crude oil and equivalents received by domestic refineries in March 2007 totalled 8.8 million cubic
metres, 303.1 thousand cubic metres or 3.6% higher than the same month a year earlier.
This increase in receipts was led by an 843.2 thousand cubic metre or 22.7% jump in imported crude oil to 4.6 million
cubic metres. Imports more than offset a 540.1 thousand cubic metres or 11.4% decrease in receipts of domestic
crude oil.
Imports represented about 52% of domestic refinery needs. OPEC accounted for 43.5% of this volume led by
Algeria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Norway and the United Kingdom supplied and additional 38.2% of crude oil imports.
Sales of refined petroleum products in March 2007 totalled 8.5 million cubic metres, just below a year earlier. Motor
gasoline and diesel fuel oil sales held at about 3.4 and 2.3 million cubic metres respectively. Sales of most other
products with the exception of light and heavy fuel oil were lower than a year earlier.
Crude oil and refined petroleum product inventories held by refineries and major distributors closed
March 2007 at 13.7 million cubic metres, 468.0 thousand cubic metres or 3.5% higher than the same month a
year earlier.
Of this volume, crude oil inventories totaled 2.8 million cubic metres, 58.7 thousand cubic metres or 2.2% above
March 2006. Inventories of refined petroleum products totaled 11.0 million cubic metres, 409.4 thousand cubic
metres or3.9% above the same month a year earlier.
Inventories of all major products declined except for heavy fuel oil, lubricants and the other products category. Motor
gasoline inventories at 2.7 million cubic metres posted the largest volumetric draw, down 461.8 thousand cubic
metres or 11.1% below closing March 2006.
Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 45-004 9

I want to talk about the current oil price.

Look at Oil slides on subprime crisis

Problems in U.S. credit markets and unease over the health of the U.S. economy have helped knock down U.S. oil prices by 10 percent since they set a new record Aug. 1 of $78.77 a barrel.

"The liquidity crises may be bigger than many realize," said Nauman Barakat, senior vice president at Macquarie Futures USA. "Also, the dollar strengthening and gold collapsing are negative signs for energy markets overall."

Stocks of heating oil in the United States are 36 percent below last year's levels, while gasoline supplies remain below normal levels for this time of year, according to weekly data released by the U.S. government Wednesday.

Production of gasoline and other refined products fell last week as refinery capacity utilization declined amid fresh operational problems.

What's going on here? OK, the hedge funds pulled out of the oil market because of the liquidity crisis, which is lowering the oil price at a time when the fundamentals say it should be going up. That is Not A Good Thing, because it is sending the wrong message to John Q. Consumer. This will make any problems we might have later this year much worse than they have to be.

OPEC will not raise production at their September meeting, so stock draw downs all around the world will continue unabated. At the very least, we can say that a price tumble of the sort that occurred last year — and which bottomed out at about $51/barrel in January — will not happen this time. In the worst case, when heating oil requirements go up and there is insufficient oil meet them, we may see a new thing — a winter spike in prices.

This financial fiasco could not be happening at a worst time. Although I am a professional worrier, I do not think I am exaggerating when I say that we haven't seen anything yet!

-- Dave

And speaking of this winter, I once again see above in a linked article the assumption that our winters will be warmer than normal from now on. Bad assumption!

Gold Collapse? What gold collapse

Gold was at a recent high of about $685 back on July 24, today its trading above $670. Hard to see that as a "collapse"

As the housing market and the credit market continue their decline, so will the economy as a whole, causing demand destruction in regards to oil. I don't need to drive anywhere when I'm unemployed, and I won't be driving a Hummer. Those big trucks won't be driven to build those big homes out in the middle of nowhere driven by people in their Cadillac Escalades.

The coming downturn is going to promote a little bit of humility... I look forward to it. Until then, I'll drive my 22 year old car hatchback. ;)

~Durandal (http://www.wtdwtshtf.com/)

Dave, long term trends always reflect fundamentals. Short term swings seldom, if ever, reflect fundamentals. The serious problems in the credit market and the plunge in stock prices can easily carry over into oil, even though the fundamentals do not support such a move. Also hedge funds are closing out long positions because investors are withdrawing their money. There is no accounting for panic among the speculating public. Fundamentals mean nothing to them.

But saying that, the oil supply is also getting rather volatile. The IEA has the world oil supply down 1.3 million barrels per day in May and June, (combined) but up 1.1 million barrels per day in July. They expect aother big drop in August. OPEC production was up about 3.6 mb/d in July mostly due to increases in production from Iraq and Nigeria. In both these countries previous shut in oil, due to violence, was brought back on line. So the drop in August could be even greater than expected if this Iraqi and Nigerian oil does not stay on line, which it probably will not.

So the general trend in oil production is down but the supply bounces up and down because of above ground events. Oil prices will be even more volitale. Nothing surprising is happening.

Ron Patterson

If I read it right, I think you just agreed with me.

Dave, long term trends always reflect fundamentals. Short term swings seldom, if ever, reflect fundamentals. The serious problems in the credit market and the plunge in stock prices can easily carry over into oil, even though the fundamentals do not support such a move. Also hedge funds are closing out long positions because investors are withdrawing their money. There is no accounting for panic among the speculating public. Fundamentals mean nothing to them.

I came to TOD with he very same question as Dave, and I just read and find the answer.

Still, it doesn't make any kind of logical sense, does it? If investors are taking money out of mortgages, they are presumably putting it back into something, not just hiding it under their mattress. Why would you logically take money out of oil futures when the IEA is saying demand is growing and supplies are tight? It looks like an obvious place to make money to me.

I'm not questioning that you are right, merely saying it seems illogical to me.

Still, it doesn't make any kind of logical sense, does it? If investors are taking money out of mortgages, they are presumably putting it back into something, not just hiding it under their mattress.

Uhhh. NO! Or maybe, but that's not the problem here. It's not investors taking money out, or shifting it.

What's happening in the securities market that the large investors are involved in, is that money simply disappears, analogous to your house losing value. That "money" is gone.

In fact, it never was money to begin with, just credit. We are seeing the start of a huge destruction of the virtual money that's been running our virtual economy.

If Bear Stearns' hedge funds could have just taken out their cash, and put it somewhere else, they would have, believe you me. They couldn't, though, and now they're dead, and many will follow.

Point is, and this goes for all investors in Mortgage Backed Securities, it's not at all easy to sell the stuff, first, because it's not traded in a market, and second, because you would have to valuate it. Not a good idea these days, everyone would see you're not wearing any clothes. Pension funds, mutual funds, insurance companies, they will come out the big losers.

Go over to today's Round-Up, there is a lot of good insight posted there.

For a first estimate of the losses:


".... the total cost of the subprime/collateralized debt obligation fiasco "is an initial figure of $2 to 3 trillion in bond losses from CDO plus MBS bonds at a minimum. Match that with $4 to 6 trillion in home equity losses at least. Included in my estimate is the collateral damage of another $1 trillion in losses to high grade mortgage bonds and corporate bonds.

The last thing I remember before blanking out is that this totals to about 80% of GDP! Or more! And even now I still feel kind of woozy about it! Losses suddenly totaling 80% of GDP."

>Still, it doesn't make any kind of logical sense, does it? If investors are taking money out of mortgages, they are presumably putting it back into something, not just hiding it under their mattress.

1. A lot of money is flowing into Gov't bonds See (US treasury rates 1 Mo T-bills down 64 bps in two days!) http:\\www.pimco.com (Home page displays treasury yields)

2. A lot of investors have been demanding their money back. The problem is that it takes time to liquidate investments into cash to pay investors. In some cases, investors can't get their money out, because CDO's and other bonds are worthless or the money is invested in hard assets (real estate via Mortgage Backed Securities MBS). Some hedge funds are invested in both commodities and mortgage back securities. The money invested in commodities is liquid compared to MBS. So they sell off the commodity investments to pay off the investors who are demanding their money back

3. There is the belief that if we have a hard landing caused by the credit crisis, that demand for commodities will fall. Institutional investment businesses sell of commodities since they could lose money of the value drops 6,12,18 months or even futher out. Remember that a lot of money is invested in commodity of futures. Prior to the credit crunch, the price of futures was much higher because the market anticipated high demand in the future. The smart option is to sell them now, than gamble on the price will rise. A better strategy is to pull back and wait to see what happens. They can always jump back in if the crunch settles down.

4. A lot of hedge funds use leverage to amplify profits. They borrow money to make bigger bets. The Creditors are calling in some of these margin trades in order to cover for the credit crunch (The lenders likely borrowed money from someone else to loan to the hedge funds that used leverage to purchase commodities (or other investments too).

The bottom line is that all the credit markets are interdependant. When a group of investors demand cash, it creates waves that travel across all the markets. This is why the central banks are making credit available. However I doubt that this strategy will work, because a lot of investments are tied up in assets (real estate) that can't be easily liquidated. The Central banks are providing short term lones (1 to 3 day loans) while banks and funds try to liquidate some of their assets. The borrowers still need to pay back the loans with interest. Providing short term liquidity would work if the majority of investment could be easily converted into cash, but thats not possible with real estate and other hard assets. The only solution is that gov'ts (not the central banks) bailout investors to restore the lending chain and restore investor confidence.

Is there a good time for a financial fiasco?

I'm sure people who were long oil have net gains which they can sell to offset the obvious net losses. The surprise would have been if oil had not dropped.

Anyway, if you go to the weather channel, you'll see your wish for higher prices spinning off of Cape Verde as we speak.

off-topic, but this is a remarkable video - a lion, raised by humans and released to the wild, reunites with his handlers after a year of freedom: (#1 at reddit)


Nice to see that some of the humans do good things, sometimes...

You're right, it is OT, and it is remarkable! Do you know anything more about who these people are, and their affiliation?

Thanks....that made my day.

I love the wild one coming up to get some action too.

Thxs for the link Sgage! My hat is off to these gents-- it takes some very serious cojones to just stand there and take the risk that those big cats won't attack. Hell, cats that big just gently and playfully hugging a human could facture a human collar bone or cause a lower back muscle injury. Big Kudos to their conservation efforts.

EDIT: oops--my posting thxs needs to go to Sunspot.

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

Yes - thxs are due to Sunspot. I did a bit of Googling around, but couldn't find any background to this story. I'd like to know more...

Hey, glad you all enjoyed that. I just found it on reddit, no info beyond that. But I think those guys must be descendants of Tarzan!

Ain't none of my kin.

Now someone needs to explain what in our evolutionary history would explain why we should have such an emotional response to such a video - grainy, jerky and silent as it was (for me anyway, not sure why there was no sound).
If you replaced the lion with a person, there's no way it would have the same effect.

I'm sure humans have much deeper and more emotional connection to the rest of nature than many of our day to day activies would suggest. That connection may be well be what saves us from totally destroying our planet.

Cue up theme music from "Born Free". . .

Call me cynical, but I don't believe it's real.

Judging from the clothing and hairstyles, this clip is from the '60s or '70s. When Born Free was a hit. There were several ripoff movies and TV shows, and I would guess it's from one of those.

Leanan, I don't believe it's real either. That's why I've asked twice now for some sort of backstory. Can't find any info about it. Sure is warm and fuzzy though ...

This clip is absolutely from the 70's - I was there, and it sure looks like it. Dig those bellbottoms for a start! ;-)

Does anyone have any provenance for this video/story?

I got some footage of ELMO running up and hugging me, ya want I should post it? It might make you warm all over.

Sorry but I am so freaking amped right now as I have an escrow close date of the 15th, and we've already moved.

The footage is from the 70's.

Christian, the lion who lived in my London living room

He travelled by Bentley, ate in fine London restaurants and spent his days lounging in a furniture shop. The story of Christian the pet lion - and his eventual release into the wild - is as moving as it is incredible.

The furniture shop was on the King's Road in London. It sold tables, wardrobes, chairs and desks - but anybody peering through its plate-glass window on a Sunday might have noticed something rather more unusual.

Amid all the pine and oak, stretched out languidly on a bench, there was a lion. And it wasn't stuffed.

Man, once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against the absurdities the most monstrous, and like a ship without rudder, is the sport of every wind. -- Thomas Jefferson

Is it real, though, or a reenactment/docudrama?

What we see in the video doesn't match the account given in that article.

In particular, the article says the other lions were upset, hissing and spitting, while the vid shows a strange lion joining the tame one in welcoming the humans.

That was what I found most unbelievable. Not that the once-tame lion might remember his former owners, but that a supposed wild lion would act that tame.

In particular, the article says the other lions were upset, hissing and spitting, while the vid shows a strange lion joining the tame one in welcoming the humans.

That was what I found most unbelievable. Not that the once-tame lion might remember his former owners, but that a supposed wild lion would act that tame.

You are cynical! ;-) The footage is obviously edited (note the cuts from lion to human, differing camera angles etc.). I don't see how you can assert that it doesn't match the articles description of events based on what is not the raw footage. I saw the link to the article posted by one of the commenters on livelink. I read the article and it seems IMO to jibe well with the video. I don't feel that strongly about this being real or fake, I just wanted to provide background info to let others decide.

BTW, you are my heroine for putting together the Drumbeat each day. You do an outstanding job.

Man, once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against the absurdities the most monstrous, and like a ship without rudder, is the sport of every wind. -- Thomas Jefferson

Apparently this is real. Here is a link to a webpage which tells the story and also has links to the documentary.

Man, once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against the absurdities the most monstrous, and like a ship without rudder, is the sport of every wind. -- Thomas Jefferson

I don't see how you can assert that it doesn't match the articles description of events based on what is not the raw footage.

Like I said...the article says the other lions were so upset they had to take Christian back to the camp, or risk being attacked by the wild lions. This video shows a wild lion joining Christian cuddling the humans. That's not something that's an artifact of editing.

Thanks for the links. I bet it is from the Christian movie. (Which this site describes it as a "recreated documentary.")

From an IMDB review of The Lion at World's End(1971) aka "Christian the Lion".

With the exception of the dramatized opening scene of Christian being introduced to Bill Travers, it was filmed as it happened and its simple, honest style is very effective.

Writing as one who is interested in lions and in human/animal interactions, the film is a joy to behold in spite of (or more likely because of) its lack of sophisticated production values. Everything is real, and there is much to observe.

Man, once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against the absurdities the most monstrous, and like a ship without rudder, is the sport of every wind. -- Thomas Jefferson

Look at who wrote that review. It's the people who are selling the movie!!!! Mayhap a few grains of NaCl are in order?

This review notes the inconsistencies in that scene:

Also, a recent article in the Daily Mail outlines a 1974 reunion between Christian and his London buddies, but that meeting also included Christian’s lioness and cubs. There is no mention of this in the film, so I would assume the production wrapped in 1971 (it would seem peculiar to leave this post-script from the film).

I think it's either a recreated scene, or one that occurred before Christian went wild. The other lion would then be not a wild one, but one of the other tame lions Adamson was caring for.

That was what I found most unbelievable. Not that the once-tame lion might remember his former owners, but that a supposed wild lion would act that tame.

No way in the world the second lion was 'wild'. Gimme a break. Even if you get past the way IT acted, the nonchalant attitude of the humans is utterly inconsistent with that scenario unless they're all high as kites or dead stupid. I've worked with dangerous large wildlife, and if that were me and a wild lion had tagged along, I sure as hell wouldn't pet it; I'd climb into my dang jeep.

Moreover, any lions in the "wild" who acted that way toward humans would be quickly shot, so I hope they're fenced off somewhere, as seems likely.

Sorry to be a buzzkill.

"but that a supposed wild lion would act that tame."

That's what got me, too...

Nether the housing bubble, hedge fund overexposure or stock market overexuberance were exotic mysteries six months ago. Privately, the wiser heads were pondering the consequences then and their prediction was for a 'correction' of perhaps 15 to 20% by Fall. Some large institutions made statements to that effect to their clients.

Given that situation and prior knowledge, it seems reasonable that such a 'meltdown' would happen about now, as the summer realestate trading made the reality inevitable. Having this work out in August seems very logical as the public isn't paying as much attention. In Europe - it started with BNP Paribas after all, follwed immediately by an ECB 130 billion injection - the whole continent goes on holiday for a month [eat your heart out] and thus isn't paying attention at all except to the topless lovelies on the beach.

Maybe it's just a coincidence, but try to convince me that these banks and hedge funds weren't aware of their overextension until last week. Tell me they don't golf together. They're hoping that an August meltdown will sweep under the carpet better than a September one. Well, it'll be cheaper sweeping anyway.

So we're going to have a recession for a few quarters. It's overdue. Being overdue it could be somewhat ugly. That's why the credit shakeout and why Bernanke will hold his fire until he sees the whites of your IOUs. So he'll send the helicopters to his buddies on Wall Street but keep interest rates high to shake the housing market back to reality, sort of.

Quite how you get wage/price multiples back to the usual ratios without raising wages is going to involve an almost catastrophic drop in house prices. I've lived through prices dropping to two thirds of what they were, and it's ugly. But than it's over. Recovery will be hard to engineer before the next election. And for some it will finally be an opportunity to buy at a logical multiple.

But. The oil situation will be hard pressed to move with the economy. Nothing substantial has been done to mitigate either demand or supply, nor is anything in the works. I'm predicting, on past performance, that this August rebalancing may end up with the economy landing on its feet, but we're juggling more balls than usual this time. Realestate overshoot is global. PO is global. So far, the fire is contained, but one goofy move by China and it's a totally different game.

Maybe you don't roll out a new product in August, but if it's a recession and you hope nobody will buy....

There's an ironic connection between two of Leanan's links above, one of them warning newspapers of diminishing auto ad revenues, and the other encouraging home gardens. The latter, on reformer.com(!), talks the walk:

We'd to think that if Americans were asked to sacrifice in a time of crisis, they would do so with little complaint. With the looming crises of climate change and peak oil on the horizon, the time may be coming for Americans to replant their victory gardens to save our planet.

but nonetheless has two auto dealership ads in the banner of the page. Let's reform, but don't get carried away. Click here! Buy now! Save!

I actually just wrote to our local rag yesterday enquiring whether they had in place a policy to discourage ads for poor-mileage automobiles (given the paper has taken a strong stand on climate change). I even suggested they could set a fee structure based on fuel economy - e.g. Prius ads cost half the rate of Landrover ads...no response so far...

I have a thought - what if we ask every organization we know such as business, local government and non-profits how they would deal with mid-term hyperinflation with gasoline or basic commodity's. It does not address peak directly but it would give an idea if they have even thought of it.

if we ask every organization we know that question, then every organization we know will blame someone else.

What caused the July sea ice loss?

Jeff Masters' blog at Weather Underground discusses the Arctic sea ice anomoly. The part that jumped out is this:

The July 2007 ice loss may mean that a runaway "ice-albedo feedback" has taken hold, which will amplify until the Arctic Ocean is entirely ice-free later this century. Other scientists will disagree, but I believe that such a runaway ice-albedo feedback has taken hold.

He also notes that:

Beginning today, the National Snow and Ice Data Center has begun a blog providing expert analysis of this summer's record Arctic sea ice loss. Expect weekly updates from now until Arctic sea ice reaches its minimum extent in September.

NPR reported last night that the Aldabra snail in the Seychelles Islands may be the first extinction directly tied to global warming. Sucks being a polar bear, too. Location, location, location.

There was also an article in the New York Times today about the sea-ice decline. It sounds much like that which Jeff Masters wrote. Here's the link:


There are comments on Real Climate as well:


Jeff Masters points to atmospheric effects as the cause of the rapid decline, however, there are other researchers that think much of the loss in sea-ice is due to increased melting from below. This is said to be the result of increased inflow of warmer waters from the Pacific and the Atlantic. Go figure...

E. Swanson

Ah, the old game of Clue. Was it the Butler or the Maid? Meanwhile, when they finally do figure it out, the Arctic sea ice will be but a few ice cubes spilled during the I'm right/you're wrong arguments.

That's what is really worth figuring on.

In the last couple of weeks I posted my thoughts on the Energy Bill and the Energy Tax Bill on Professor Goose's Threads. I emailed my Congressional Representative Ron Paul, 14th Congressional District of Texas asking him to review these threads and telephoned his office with the same info. I'm an independent at this point, don't really support either party in their energy platforms, in fact I think they've all been negligent, and I believe most of the people that read this blog agree.

Specificially, what I asked him to do was read the threads, or have one of his staff read these threads while making up his mind.

It was like emailing and telephoning a black hole. No phone call, no letter, no email. In fact, he didn't even bother to show up to vote, he's too busy campaigning in Iowa to think that this is important. So I wrote a letter to the editor, Heber Taylor at the Galveston Daily News www.galvnews.com letters section, criticising Congressman Paul for dropping the ball. It was published this morning . Paul's district has numerous refineries and petrochemical plants, this issue is important to everyone in the district.

Ron Paul responded with an email a couple of hours ago. I'm forwarding it to editors at theoildrum dot com, as I don't know how to forward an email to Leanan directly, and I'm hoping that it can be posted for you to see. I also sent a copy to Heber Taylor in hopes that Heber will publish the email of Congressman Paul's. I'm also going to send a copy of the ASPO Conference announcement to his office. The Galveston Daily News has already promised to send a reporter to the October 17-20th Conference. And its going to be important. Bill White, the Houston Mayor, is a former Secretary of Energy and a Democratic Fundraiser. Matt Simmons is a Republican Fundraiser. That's why he was on the NPC report board. That's why Mitt Romney is using Matt's jet to fly around campaigning. We've got at least two more Congressmen and the head of the Texas Railroad Commission attending. The conference has the City of Houston, the University of Houston, World Oil, and Oil and gas investor all co-sponsoring the event. There's going to be a lot of national media, industry leaders and lots of fun.

The point of this post is not to brag (well, maybe a little) but to bring up an important point; We have to hold our elected representatives accountable. And, if we want peak oil to be in the presidential campaign, its us who are going to have to put it there. We can't let it get partisan, this is just too damn important. We've got to get Alan Drake's Electrification of Rail program introduced as quickly as possible. Its the only idea out there that will cut our oil useage by 10% over 10 years without goring somebodys ox.

Peak oil is neither right nor left, Republican, Democrat, or Libertarian. Its a scientific fact. Its national security and economic security-we're in a resource war, and the economy is on a precupice. We've got to get everyone in a concensus on the silver bb's to use, and there is no time left, OPEC isn't going to produce an additional 2 mbopd in September. We are going to need everyone on board.

Oilmanbob - very nice work. My hat is off to you. The process is so frustrating, the barriers so formable, that to do this (outside of being paid to do this) takes extraordinary tenacity and persistence. I hope your efforts are successful, and you find a voice to join Bartlett and Udall in spreading the PO word.

John Macklin

Thanks. I'm even more impressed with the guys at ASPO. In the five years or so that they have been around, they've managed to get peak oil from a very marginal idea,a geek conception and turn it into a genuine issue in the country and in the world. They are building an unlikely coalition of men and women into what I think is going to be a true cultural influence in the 21st century.

Look at what the editors have created here at The Oil Drum, all in a couple of years. I looked one day at the beginning key posts and there aren't any comments for the first couple of months. I thought, that's weird, i wonder why they didn't keep the comments. Then I noticed all the key posts were by Prof. Goose and Heading Out, and I snapped. There weren't any comments because no one was reading it. There were only two writers because only two fellows were writing about peak oil. And now look at the size of the cult!

There are more fine energy writers than at any magazine or think tank in in the country on the oil drum, and, all operating out of a spirit of altruism. My hat's off to their skills. Same way with the Energy Bulletin-its wonderful free information.

The internet seems to be the greatest free exchange of ideas ever invented. Our virtual community includes people from all over the world, and sharing all types of view points and life experiences. Its really liberating. And its a wonderful seminar-I have truly been broadened by reading a bunch of the ideas and approaches here.
Bob Ebersole

Well put Oilmanbob

I could not agree more - Hat and beard off to all of you ;-)
PO is gaining pace - but I'm afraid the real understanding has to be visible and felt at the pump, for some reason. and 3$ is NOT the trigger signal...

Bob - You're of course right, from ASPO to the editors and contributors at TOD (at whose pleasure we all post) and other PO sites, to the two Matts and to the Fathers of PO. Bottom up efforts, bird by bird, work. Nonetheless, don't short yourself on your efforts and accomplishments.

Here in the US, someone wants to be the next president. PO and its consequences need to been stated at higher levels to the public. Who has the courage to do that? Ron Paul may have only a snowball in Texas chance of making it past the Iowa caucuses and NH primary, but the more he says, the more the issue gets airing. Opportunities come and go: pounce when you can...(wherein with now a tiger theme he is still confused if the Born Free video/visuals upthread is real, fake, or simply in his head).

Well, I live in his district, curtosey of that great american, Tom DeLay who shifted Galveston with the collusion of the Texas legislature into his district. I'm still angry, I liked Nick Lampson. Paul is the Dennis Kuchinich of the republican party. Too busy being right to get anything for our congressional district. I followed up with a long polite letter in which I said i was an independent insted of am anarchosyndicalist and forwarded him the info on the ASPO convention. In case none of you have guessed, I'm a lying manipulative whore when I'm trying to get what I want, and I want peak oil to get attention, particularly Alan Drakes Electrification of Rail plan

At least one model shows that African storm heading toward the GOM in a couple weeks. Hurricane Dean?

Way too early to say for sure, but according to OPIS, refiners are buying gasoline, just in case.

It's amazing that the possibility of a tropical wave that may turn into a tropical storm that may turn into a hurricane that is about 2500 miles away from any oil & gas producing regions of the U.S. can impact oil/gas commodity prices today. The inaccuracies in the forecast of the path and strength of that storm must be huge. Why commodities traders would bid up the price of oil is beyond me. I guess that's why they are commodities traders and not scientists.

well i dont see that the price of oil did go up. of course the price of oil can be many things. there are other factors at work besides the possibility of a tropical storm. whatever happens in the financial markets: up, down or sideways, there is always an expert to explain it to you.

The price did not end the day up. But it was higher than its morning lows.

I do agree, however, that it seems everyday there is always some explanation by analysts (far-fetched or not) about why prices have gone up or down.

Mysterious 'Y2K' bug found in all climate models and graphs...


Basically, a 'bug' was found that artificially inflated the recent temperature records. As it turns out, the hottest year on record was back in the 1930s, the 3rd hottest in the 1920s. In fact, 5 of the 10 hottest years occurred before WW2. Interesting, though they only state that these changes affects the data sets by 2% or so...

Edit: Even more interesting, only 3 years in the past 2 decades are in the top 10, most of the early 2000s were actually below the 1900 range! More details at:


BTW, I love the picture of the A/C units strategically placed right next to the temperature sensors! Cmon...as if these scientist actually believed that wouldn't warp their data set!

The next thing you know I will be an Alcoholic

Here is the conclusion of the RealClimate article:

"However, there is clearly a latent and deeply felt wish in some sectors for the whole problem of global warming to be reduced to a statistical quirk or a mistake. This lead to some truly death-defying leaping to conclusions when this issue hit the blogosphere. One of the worst examples (but there are others) was the 'Opinionator' at the New York Times (oh dear). He managed to confuse the global means with the continental US numbers, he made up a story about McIntyre having 'always puzzled about some gaps' (what?) , declared the the error had 'played havoc' with the numbers, and quoted another blogger saying that the 'astounding' numbers had been 'silently released'. None of these statements are true. Among other incorrect stories going around are that the mistake was due to a Y2K bug or that this had something to do with photographing weather stations. Again, simply false.

But hey, maybe the Arctic will get the memo."

Global Warming Deniers are constantly Trolling for any tiny quirk of data to throw up against the overwhelming evidence that we have a real climate problem to deal with.

If only climate deniers would come up with some real science instead of obviously manufactured disinformation.

Like Wiley Coyote, Global Warming Deniers run off the cliff with the disinformation, look down, and see that they are not, after all, on solid ground.

The 'Y2K' bug had nothing to do with the the computer problem: it just happened to start in January of 2000, hence the clever 'nick name'. This isn't some statistical quirk: a decade of information was intentionally and systemically altered to show higher readings than there really were. This just taints the cause, not debunk it. I thought this was pertinent information because it just goes to show you how a group-think mentality can blind you to the true trend. Of course the planet is warming up...just not as fast as previously thought!

This isn't some statistical quirk: a decade of information was intentionally and systemically altered to show higher readings than there really were.....

Thats it, I am truly an alcoholic.

Systematically altered? 'Scuse me?

The data in question did not, as I understand it, relate to global numbers but rather to US numbers.

The effect of the changes was not very significant overall, and was limited to regional implications.

The Antiscience Global Warming Denial Club is working overtime to distort: yes, molehills become mountains if you look through the wrong end of a telescope.

I guess they are also putting Galileo back on trial, post-mortem.

Antiscience efforts will continue with The Flat Earth Society campaign to get all textbooks revised to show that there are at least two sides to that heated scientific debate -- planet earth: pancake, or eggish-shaped?

Some folks are also looking frantically for the Scopes Monkey so that the Scopes Monkey Case can be retried to prove that he was not their uncle.

I've got to get back to my new assignment: systematically screwing up all the numbers on subprime mortgages and related financial fiascos. Helicopter Ben is on the line now...wants to know if I can systematically screw things up any worse than they already are, so that they will be screwed up all the way back to normal.

If I am lucky, I can get back to debunking Global Warming science with more disinformation in a week or so.

Or perhaps I will sell prayer hankies over the tubes of the internets to ensure that the bearer goes up in the Rapture and is not left behind as in "No Child Left..."

Oh, and we are winning in Iraq.

And we've got the Chinese by the economic balls, I tell you!

And we will beat the Russians to all that undiscovered oil in the Arctic and burn it fast and furious because there is no such thing as Global Warming.

Right after we restore liquidity to the markets and invade Iran and our soldiers there are greeted with flowers and candy.

Why discuss important stuff when we can discuss disinformation all day? Isn't this fun?

Never Mind. Is it late, or is it just me?

The Antiscience Global Warming Denial Club is working overtime to distort

I think one of the responses at realclimate says it best: "Leave the ‘believers’ and ‘doubter’ rhetoric at home. No scientist believes anything in the sense you claim."

I think that is good advice.

You shouldn't frame the "others" as being some towel-head alien species who are unbelievers in the true faith of the true "science" while we are superior because we are believers.

All human beings have warped models in their heads about how the world works. We can't help it. We're human. We don't see in ultraviolet and we don't hear above a couple of kilohertz.

So while you may disagree with PartyGuy about the climate model and while you may disagree with Party-Like-Theres-No-Tomorrow-Guy about the Peak Oil model, at the end of the day we are all human and all fallible.

step back -- good points.

The problem I have is the obvious distortion involved here, to wit:

1) "all models" are said to be impacted significantly (false)

2) the data problems are said to have been altered intentionally and systematically (false again)

3) the old lie about weather stations being affected by proximity to burner barrels and air conditioners is trotted out

Step back -- this disinformation is so obviously not about science. Any person splashing this stuff around is either lying or has been very much misled.

Intentional Ignorance abounds. Ignorance is especially violent and damaging when people and diverse species are killed or hurt by the consequences.

So let's at least acknowledge that what PartyGuy is doing is trolling about with propaganda and most definite lies rather than engaging in scientific dialogue.


1. I understand your upset.

2. I understand that PartyGuy appears to be drunk on the nectar of the anti-Eco Bees.

3. However, we do not know what channels PartyGuy tuned into to acquire his current stage of knowledge, his current programming.

4. Therefore we cannot know if he is "intentionally" and knowingly lying or whether he is a true believer who happens to be merely parroting the words of his church.

5. If your only source of news is Fox, then they "are" in the last throes of their in-surge-ancy and GWB "is" the higher father's son. Simple as that.

6. That's the way the human brain works. GIGO: Garbage In means Garbage Out.

7. It may very well be that PartyGuy is feasting on the Garbage Pile of the Free Market Fundamentalists. Anthropogenic Global Warming is unacceptable in that church because it means "we" can't do whatever we please as capitalist individuals with "our" property.

No, no Red ...If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance......

Red, hang in there...help's on the way:

Step 1. Science has, does, and will change because data is acquired and analyzed by humans. Heck, we're only human.

Step 2. As noted by others above, climate change and global warming are concepts based on a broad spectrum of data.

Step 3. Scientists worth their salt will (grudgingly) accept critical comments and respond. That's how the cookie crumbles.

Step 4. Alcoholism has not been tied to GHG, nor drinking excessively in the face of certain realities. One of which is not a correction to temperature data.

Step 5. Repeat.

Sorry this is only a 5-step program.

Thats OK - I can't count past 5.

I know the ground level research done by climate scientists over the past 40 years, it's very good stuff. If it is a conspiracy then the planet is doing a fine job of holding it end up by fooling the climate researchers.

I actually think GW is the work of the Flying Spaghetti Monster due to the decline of the number of Pirates.


This is concerning... where is the MSM on this? Global depletion of pirates is a serious problem!!! :)


if you believe the riaa, and mpaa the number of pirates should be in the hundreds of thousands. :P

Of course the planet is warming up...just not as fast as previously thought!

Very true, it's much faster than previously thought.

OilmanBob...I echo your sentiment. I have utilized the internet and some Message Boards (e.g. Investor Village) to evaluate energy trends and investment opportunities. I initially stumbled across TOD when doing some research on the Permian Basin area (TX/NM) and CO2 flooding projects and CO2 Domes (naturally occuring CO2 reservoirs). You know how it works...one googles key phrases...anyway, along the way I came across one of your posts in which you comment on enhanced oil recovery projects and the use of CO2 to exploit mature oilfields. I have come to learn quite a bit about this whole field thru my research and network of contacts, but missed an opportunity to enrich my insight into energy trends and future implications. I didn't realize my misfortune until later when a friend mentioned this site was on his daily "must read". I took a look...again saw and remembered your name (I am partial to Texans being that I am one myself and just about anything that points to energy trends) and decided to take a deeper dive. Interesting how connections are made.

I am exceptionally impressed with the quality of the contributors, editors, posters, and the scientific method employed in analyzing information here at TOD. Kudos to all.

Since much of this site deals with the complexity of projections and the vagaries of above/below ground influencers, such a method is critical. And even then, as the great yoda master himself declared..."The Future is always moving".

Paradigm Shifter

Welcome to The Oil Drum! Its a lot of fun, I see you just joined. I know a lot more about the Gulf Coast and East Texas than I do the Permian Basin area, although I've worked out there quite a bit in the last couple of years.

The first really productive field in Texas was Spindletop in 1901. It was drilled by a promoter named Patillo Higgins and Anthony Lucas, a Swiss mining engineer and blew in at 70,000 bbls a day from 1100 ft. Its just south of Beaumont, Texas and produced from the cap rock of a salt dome. I read the original AAPG report on the dome,written about 1920, its in their Vol.1 No 1, and the cap rock field had a natural CO2 drive. The gas that came out of the well was 25% CO2, and the rest sour gas. Very small reservoir as far as area, only about 220 acres, but very productive. The operators took mules and fresnos (earth movers, sort of a plow) and threw up a dam to catch the oil. Then after 6 days, the oil caught on fire! Luckily, the operator had brought the well under control so it didn't burn up, but several hundred thousand barrels did. You can read about it in the Handbook of Texas Online, and the article there has several books as references. In the late 70's I met an eyewitness near there, a very old man, needless to say, who told me about being out plowing and seeing the well blow in.
I'm a landman-I buy oil and gas leases and clear up titles on oil and gas property, and I find old oil fields fascinating. On top of Spindletop, there are thousands of pieces of broken glass turned that old glass pearlescent color from thousands of old whiskey bottles.
After the oil played out, the cap was mined for sulfur, by the frasch process. They sent super heated steam down in to the rock, melted the sulfur and produce it on the ground where it was scraped up and sold. The lease holder produced so much oil and sulfur that much of the cap caved in, and a lake formed, pretty good sized, maybe 100 acres. Sounds like I'm describing Texas's first total environmental disaster. But, after a hundred years, nature has done her work. Natural bacteria have eaten all the spilled oil, and the sulfur residue makes the lake slightly acidic. Its pretty and blue, and I saw two otters over there, plus mottled duck nesting and swimming with baby ducks, and some good sized large mouth bass. Go figure.
At any rate my email is Bob Ebersole two thousand and four at yahoo.com. Feel free to write. The email is all lowercase and run together, with numerals. I hesitate to give it exactly because on spiders, I already get enough junk email