DrumBeat: August 28, 2007

OPEC policy will hit the poorest hardest, says IEA chief

The head of the International Energy Agency (IEA) criticised OPEC for setting a target price of around 70 dollars per barrel, saying in an interview published Tuesday that it would hit the poorest hardest.

"The market is clearly aware that OPEC has set itself a new implicit price target or a new price band of around 70 dollars (51 euros) per barrel and that the organisation will endeavour to defend this level," Claude Mandil told Arab Oil and Gas review.

"I deplore this, because it is a factor that could, whatever people often say, weigh on world economic growth and which represents a very heavy burden for the poorest people and the poorest countries," he added.

Energy futures mixed on OPEC, storm news

Oil and gas futures fell Tuesday as concerns about refineries faded and OPEC suggested that the oil cartel sees no need to boost production.

Natural gas futures rose on jitters about a developing Atlantic storm system and as traders covered positions ahead of the September contract's expiration on Wednesday.

Holiday 2007: 4 red flags

Store traffic declining: Shopping trips to malls have declined for 6 of the past 7 months months, according to Chicago-based market research firm ShopperTrak RCT.

"It's the first time that we've seen traffic fall across the United States and we're alarmed by this continuous drop," said Bill Martin, CEO of ShopperTrak, which monitors traffic and sales at close to 50,000 retail locations nationwide.

Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, said consumer traffic to its stores last quarter was softer than expected. Gap Inc., the No. 1 clothing chain also complained of weaker traffic trends last quarter.

Americans say they are making fewer trips to stores to save on gas, ShopperTrak's Martin said. They're also buying more online and bulk shopping at wholesale clubs like Costco and Sam's Club.

Big U.S. oil: Tepid on Libya

The country, thought to hold huge quantities of natural gas, is once again taking bids. But no interest from U.S. firms so far.

Big Oil Sees GoM as Pricey But Accessible

As geopolitical turmoil makes Big Oil's portfolio more risky, the Gulf of Mexico is fast becoming the energy world's savings bonds. While it's unlikely to match expanding production in West Africa or the Middle East, the area is immune to sudden shocks that come from working under unpredictable governments that control most reserves world-wide.

Companies are snapping up drilling rights in the Gulf on a scale not seen since the late '90s, when heavy bidding was fueled by the first hard evidence of deep water's oil-drilling potential and a lower tax rate. The hope of discovering the next half-billion-barrel oil field is still a big lure. But for the international oil companies that rule the Gulf, the new oil rush has as much to do with the lack of options elsewhere as the size of undiscovered reserves.

Mideast turmoil 'could cause world war'

Upheaval in the Middle East and Islamic civilisation could cause another world war, the US ambassador to the UN was quoted as saying in an Austrian newspaper interview.

Zalmay Khalilzad told the daily Die Presse the Middle East was now so disordered that it had the potential to inflame the world as Europe did during the first half of the 20th century.

South Korea: Surging Oil Prices Hit Pilot Training

Skyrocketing oil prices are compromising the Air Force's combat capability by reducing flight training hours for pilots, a state-funded defense think tank said Monday.

Jordan: King urges speeding up nuclear energy programme

His Majesty King Abdullah on Sunday called for speeding up the Jordanian nuclear programme, stressing that energy remains a top challenge that requires long-term radical solutions.

Saudi July inflation hits 7-year high on dollar slide

The dollar's slide over the previous 12 months to a record low against the euro in July helped drive up the cost of food imported from Europe, said Giyas Gokkent, head of research at the National Bank of Abu Dhabi.

South Korea: New Energy Source to Be Commercialized

South Korea is stepping up efforts to develop a new eco-friendly energy source and establish implementation for full-scale use of the fuel, dimethyl ether (DME), from 2012.

Coal-based DME is an alternative fuel to liquefied petroleum gas (LNG), liquefied natural gas, diesel and gasoline and is considered to be environmental friendly. The government hopes that DME will reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.

PCs lead in energy wastage

BUSINESS reliance on technology is generating almost 8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide each year, more than the emissions created by the civil aviation industry.

According to research conducted for the Australian Computer Society, one of the biggest power consumption demands comes from desktop computers, which in many cases are never switched off.

The load on airconditioning plants to cool devices is also adding significantly to emissions, the study shows.

German Energy Plan Faces Reality Check

A government plan to make Germany a global leader in fighting climate change must win the support of a reluctant finance minister to succeed.

Carnegie Mellon Researchers Look At Fossil Fuel Impacts

A team of Carnegie Mellon University researchers report that the choices U.S. officials make today could limit how the nation's future energy needs are met and could cost consumers billions in idle power plants and associated infrastructure systems. In the upcoming Sept. 1 edition of the journal Environmental Science and Technology, Carnegie Mellon researchers Paulina Jaramillo, W. Michael Griffin and H. Scott Matthews show that liquefied natural gas (LNG) imported from foreign countries and used for electricity generation could have 35 percent higher lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions than coal used in advanced power plant technologies.

The darker side of ethanol - As plans pop up for biofuel plants, neighbors argue they aren't so green.

In rural eastern Indiana, where corn-seed markers dot the roadside, a number of homemade white signs with electric-red letters have started popping up offering another message: "No Ethanol."

Randy Udall: NPC Report is Hand Grenade in Bubble Wrap

Facing the Hard Truths About Energy is perplexing, even schizophrenic. In maddening fashion, it blends numerous cautions about the “accumulating risks” to global oil and gas production with repeated, rosy reassurances that we “aren’t running out,” as if anyone said we were.

A call for maximum sustained improvements in automobile efficiency—a welcome first for Big Oil—is paired with a cheery statement about our “vast” global endowment of petroleum and natural gas. Peak oil may be near—but then again we might have 10 times more oil left than we have already used. Carbon emissions are a concern—but coal-to-liquids seems promising.

News coverage reflects the report’s confusing duality. Some headlines called it “alarming.” Other reporters found it a snooze.

OPEC Sec Gen Says Economic Uncertainty Clouds Oil Outlook

While global oil markets are currently well supplied, volatility in U.S. financial markets is clouding the outlook for world oil demand and economic growth next year, OPEC Secretary General Abdalla Salem el-Badri said Monday.

Authorities stamp out Myanmar protest attempt within minutes

Defiant demonstrators tried to again to protest rising consumer prices Tuesday in Myanmar's biggest city, but marched only 30 meters (yards) before being beaten and wrestled into waiting trucks like farm animals by pro-government civilian thugs, witnesses said.

The two dozen protesters shouted slogans against a massive fuel price hike and implored onlookers to join them, stressing they were marching peacefully for their rights, said witnesses who asked not to be named for fear of official reprisals.

Gas Hike Doesn’t Slow SPDC’s Exports

While much of Burma reels under a sharp rise in fuel prices, an announcement on Monday that the country’s ruling junta will increase exports of natural gas and bio-diesel has left some Burmese analysts perplexed.

Petrol, diesel prices hiked in Punjab

Petrol and diesel prices in Punjab are up by 91 paisa and 16 paisa respectively, as the state government has re-imposed VAT on the fuel prices, which will bring a revenue of Rs 100 crore to the state.

The price hike came into effect from last night.

Last year, the then Congress government in the state had withdrawn VAT on the hiked portion of fuel prices in view of their escalating prices.

Outside needs tap Jefferson aviation fuel for a week

Peak flying season and an inordinate number of Northwest wildfires is to blamed for a recent week without aviation fuel at Jefferson County International Airport.

Will oceans surge 59 centimetres this century - or 25 metres?

When Al Gore predicted that climate change could lead to a 20-foot rise in sea levels, critics called him alarmist. After all, the International Panel on Climate Change, which receives input from top scientists, estimates surges of only 18 to 59 centimetres in the next century.

But a study led by James Hansen, the head of the climate science program at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York and a professor at Columbia University, suggests that current estimates for how high the seas could rise are way off the mark - and that in the next 100 years melting ice could sink cities in the United States to Bangladesh.

As bees go missing, a $9.3B crisis lurks

The mysterious disappearance of millions of bees is fueling fears of an agricultural disaster.

Gas Shortage in North Dakota

A study by Triple-A says Gas Prices in North Dakota are the highest of the lower 48 states, averaging $3.03 a gallon.

The situation may get worse before it gets better.

Officials say a supply shortage in the midwest is THE reason for high prices. In fact, gas is in such short supply Governor Hoeven requested a waiver today from the EPA to get gas out of Canada.

The shortage has left area stations scrambling for fuel.

Sinopec, Aramco refinery on track, discuss reserves

Asia's biggest oil refiner Sinopec Corp. said its plans with Saudi Arabia's Saudi Aramco for a refinery in east China were on track and the companies were also talking of building commercial oil reserves.

July oil output drops at Mexico's Cantarell field

Crude oil output dropped in July at Mexico's aging Cantarell offshore field, according to data published on the energy ministry's Web site on Monday. Cantarell, closely watched by the oil industry after sharp dips in output in recent months, produced an average of 1.526 million barrels per day versus 1.570 million bpd in June.

The figure meant Cantarell accounted for just 48.2 per cent of Mexico's overall crude oil output last month, continuing a steady decline over the past year at the field, which once produced around 60 per cent of the country's oil.

Analysts worry that state oil monopoly Pemex will struggle to ramp up yields at younger oil fields like Ku Maloob Zaap and Chicontepec fast enough to make up for Cantarell's decline.

Oil production nearing the peak

In 2005, the ASPO revised its prediction for the peak in world oil production, again, from both conventional and non conventional sources, to the year 2010. These consistent upward (into the future) revisions are expected in models which don't take into account continually increasing reserve estimates in older accumulations.

Tajik president urges population to get prepared for power shortage

President of Tajikistan Emomali Rakhmon has called on the country’s officials and population in general “to seriously and in advance” prepare for major disruptions in energy supply during the coming winter. “This year’s lack of water that affected the capacities of the exiting hydropower plans forced us to transfer to regulated and limited electric power supply, including to the population,” Rakhmon stressed at a special government meeting on Tuesday, the presidential press service reported.

Tajikistan has been experiencing a severe energy crisis for several years due to chronic shortage of own electric power purchasing it from Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. Last winter, the supply of electricity to the population was limited by four-six hours a day, and certain rural areas had no electricity in houses during the whole autumn-winter period.

Kenya: Daunting Task of Fuelling Economic Growth

Like many of the countries whose economies are on the take-off, fueling the growth of the Kenyan economy has emerged as one of the most pressing problems facing policy makers.

The past four year of steady economic growth has seen demand for electricity rise at the rate of 10 per cent annually against a supply growth of about 8 per cent kicking off a reserve thinning process that key players are now seeking to address by shifting the activities of bulk consumers to off peak hours.

Australia's oil and gas production up

Australian oil and gas production grew strongly in the 2006/07 year, a new report has found.

Energy advisory group EnergyQuest said oil production jumped 16.6 per cent to 129.8 million barrels, due to higher output from the Carnarvon Basin off the West Australian coast.

That helped lift petroleum production 10 per cent to 472 million barrels of oil equivalent in the 12 months to the end of June.

Australia: Consumers accepting ethanol in the mix

Currently, fuel grade ethanol production in Queensland, based on sugarcane, is estimated at around 32 million litres per annum, with CSR Ethanol at Sarina in Central Queensland and Rocky Point Distillery, south of Brisbane, the main producers.

"Queenslanders currently consume around 20-25 million litres per annum, but we believe that with peak oil and the international push to reduce carbon emissions, demand will grow and this is why, in Queensland, we are positioning ourselves as a leader in biofuel production," he says.

Noble Corporation Reports No Damage From Hurricane Dean

Noble Corporation announced that a survey of the Company's fleet of eight drilling units currently operating in waters off Mexico revealed essentially no damage as a result of Hurricane Dean.

Burundi hit by fuel shortage

A FUEL shortage in Burundi has led to rationing of fuel and doubling of prices. The shortage follows an order by the Burundi general prosecutor, Elysée Ndaye, for the impounding of trucks and fuel tankers belonging to Interpetrol Company and freezing of all the company’s bank accounts in Burundi. The company supplies more than 50% of fuel in Burundi.

PetroTech program helps fuel new career

The PetroTech program helps local energy companies by providing new workers who have a basic understanding of the industry and tools necessary to help the industry grow, Hochstein said.

"It fills a vital need in the oil and gas community,” he said. "Engineering and geological technicians are at a premium now. There's a severe shortage of them. The work force in the oil and gas industry is spread pretty thin right now.”

Problems of aging, shrinking population

The population of bugs in a Petri dish typically increases in an S-shaped curve. To start with, the line is flat because the colony is barely growing. Then the slope rises ever more steeply as bacteria proliferate until it reaches an inflection point. After that, the curve flattens out as the colony stops growing.

Overcrowding and a shortage of resources constrain bug populations. The reasons for the growth of the human population may be different, but the pattern may be surprisingly similar.

UN climate change talks open in Austria

More than a thousand people from government, industry and research institutions opened a week-long meeting in Vienna Monday as part of a UN initiative to discuss how to fight climate change.

"Climate change is a huge challenge that can only be tackled at a global level and in an integrated manner," Josef Proell, Austrian environment minister, said in opening the conference, according to a UN statement.

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

The developing credit crunch is looking less contained by the day, despite the recent bounce in the equity markets. The interconnectedness of global markets really becomes apparent when contagion threatens to spread.

Following on from the Montebello SPP summit, Naomi Klein brings us an interesting twist on the right of protestors to be heard - surveillance as the new participatory democracy.

More commentators are weighing in on the question of Newfoundland oil royalties, while a pipeline capacity shortage looms in Alberta and potential conflict brews in BC over coal bed methane.

Top 25 Quotes on the Credit Crisis of 'O7

The U.S. economy, once the envy of the world, is now viewed across the globe with suspicion. America has become shackled by an immovable mountain of debt that endangers its prosperity and threatens to bring the rest of the world economy crashing down with it. The ongoing sub-prime mortgage crisis, a result of irresponsible lending policies designed to generate commissions for unscrupulous brokers, presages far deeper problems in a U.S. economy that is beginning to resemble a giant smoke-and-mirrors Ponzi scheme. And this has not been lost on the rest of the world. - Hamid Varzi, International Tribune

More economic news...

Credit card defaults keep rising, report says

American consumers are defaulting on their credit cards at a sharply higher rate compared to last year, in what could be another consequence of the recent subprime mortgage market crisis, according to a report published Tuesday.

In addition, late payments are also up, cardholders are showing signs they are less willing to pay and credit card companies have written off 30 percent more payments during the first half of this year versus a year ago, the Financial Times reported.

And CNN has this little snippet on their "breaking news" banner:

U.S. home prices in 20 cities sink 3.5 percent in June from year-ago period, Reuters reports. More soon.

Home prices: Steepest drop in 20 years; no recovery soon

U.S. home prices fell 3.2% in the second quarter, the steepest rate of decline since Standard & Poor's began its nationwide housing index in 1987, the group said Tuesday.

The decline in home prices around the nation shows no evidence of a market recovery anytime soon, one of the architects of the index said.

MacroMarkets Chief Economist Robert Shiller said the declining residential real estate market "shows no signs of slowing down."

The report came a day after the National Association of Realtors said sales of existing homes dropped for a fifth straight month in July while the number of unsold homes shot up to a record level.

More economic news...

Credit crisis to claim Wall Street casualties

Four US investment banks are about to give investors their first look at wounds inflicted by the sub-prime collapse

Analysts and investors believe that banks, led by Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns, are preparing to unveil falls in fixed-income trading, debt securities and mortgage securities.


The sub-prime mortgage-driven credit rout had not kicked in when the main Wall Street players delivered their second-quarter numbers.

The credit crisis is set to force Wall Street's top investment banks to take big asset writedowns and reveal credit crunch wounds to some of their key businesses when they brief investors on third-quarter results next month.

The value of any debt instruments on their books, or any debt deal they were working on, has to be reduced.

Your move, Mr Bernanke
By Walter T Molano


'There is a consensus in the northern latitudes of the Western Hemisphere that the US Federal Reserve under chairman Ben Bernanke will magically solve the markets' woes. Asset prices rallied last week, as television commentators debated whether the US central bank would cut interest rates by 25 or 50 basis points. Politicians from both sides of the aisle called for a reduction in rates and an increase in liquidity. Although the United States insists on central-bank independence as a precondition for multilateral assistance, it does not feel it should be held to the same standard. The televised assurances by senior politicians that the Fed would ease interest rates made a mockery of the nation's monetary authorities. Moreover, the notion that a reduction in interest rates would solve the ongoing credit crunch was a naive understanding of the damage that has been done.'...snip...

'Banks are slashing lines of credit, paring back trading positions and refusing to roll over commercial-paper obligations because they must husband their cash. That is why a 50-basis-point cut or a 400-basis-point reduction in Fed Funds will not do anything to restore confidence. It is also the reason the markets will panic the day after the Fed's hand is forced on September 18, when they realize that financial institutions will still be unable to move the collateralized derivative structures off their books.'...snip...

'That is why, regardless of what the Federal Open Market Committee does on September 18, bank regulators, risk officers and boards of directors will think twice before buying another collateralized derivative obligation. Without limitless access to credit, US consumers will have to reduce spending, thus marking the onset of a global contraction.'...snip...

Just imagine the market reaction were the US to undertake a unilateral attack on Iran.

The result won't be the US Peso. It will be the US Kopek. The sub-Kopek.

The World Markets are in the midst of a Ponzi Security Fraud Crisis. 'Confidence' cannot recover all of the wealth bled off and stolen in the course of the worldwide Ponzi scam. These people want to be bailed out before the skeletons start coming out of the closets and warrants start being issued. Trust me, a lot of people will be going to jail before this is all over. Fact is, the level of fraud was so high, there isn't enough money in the world to bail them out. Besides, it's already on the downhill slide and picking up speed. Stabilizing the markets briefly will not restore the scam. Everyone knows, or at least should suspect, these paper assets are worthless. No one will touch them again even if the markets were flush with money and confidence. A Ponzi Scam requires ever more buyers at the front end in order to pay off the ones at the back end just to stay afloat. The game has been called and cannot be revived. The most they could hope for would be additional time to flee to a country without extradition. Since they defrauded most of the countries in the world, that might be difficult.

US to Attack Iran

"IRGC IED's are a casus belli for this administration. There will be an attack on Iran," Baer quoted an anonymous White House source as saying. "If this is going to happen, it is going to happen very quickly and it is going to surprise a lot of people."


Drudge Report Headline:


Iran Prepared to Fill Iraq Power Vacuum
Aug 28 10:47 AM US/Eastern
Associated Press Writer

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warned Tuesday that a power vacuum is imminent in Iraq and said that Iran was ready to help fill the gap.

"The political power of the occupiers is collapsing rapidly," Ahmadinejad said at a press conference in Tehran, referring to U.S. troops in Iraq. "Soon, we will see a huge power vacuum in the region. Of course, we are prepared to fill the gap, with the help of neighbors and regional friends like Saudi Arabia, and with the help of the Iraqi nation."

It's interesting to go back and look at some of the fiction that Tom Clancy wrote in the Nineties. He described, in no particular order:

A commercial airliner flown into the US Capitol Building.

A bioweapons attack on the US.

A nuclear weapon (it was supposed to be a thermonuclear device) set off at the Super Bowl.

A union between Iran and Iraq, after Hussein was assassinated by Iranian agents--followed by a war between the US and Iran/Iraq.

WT, there might be a power vacuum of sorts in DC soon. One of the regulars over at DailyKos called the resignations of Rove and Gonzales right on the button three weeks before they happened. Now, he is saying that Cheney is going to resign within the next three weeks. When questioned by other posters about how he made such accurate predictions (some accused him of gazing at chicken bones) he put his predictions down to good sources.

sounds too good to be true, but if so we might get the Republic back and have a free election again
Bob Ebersole

Would it be a good thing? The big boys, James Baker, George Bush, Sr. et al, (in addition to taking over Dunkin' Donuts and Home Depot Commercial Division via Carlyle Group) are taking the reins back. One by one they are getting rid of Bush Jr.'s core people. If they get rid of Cheney, they will put someone in to their liking who will have a much better chance of being the next president.

You means so we can ignore the results of the last seven years and get more of the same types of leaders in 2008?

It's a mistake to allow oneself much short term optimism: the democrats, never mind the crowd around papa Bush, seem to be hell-bent on war -- if not with Iraq, then Iran. A return to any sort of normalcy seems less and less possible on so many counts these days. And what we regarded as normal here in the US (and the West) for the last 60-70 years was never really normal -- it was the exception from any kind of historical point of view.

The military-industrial complex (not the perfect term any more, but I'll use it anyway) has a very tight grip on the levers of power. No one even gets on stage that they don't vet. (And of course they are willing to correct any mistakes they make.) There's just no other way to explain what's happening here. And it's not at all certain they are going to ditch the crew that has been so reliably pouring trillions of dollars into their coffers for so many years, regardless of what we (like, the world) might think of them.

It wasn't so long ago that these kind of discussions seemed completely nutso. No more. Anyway, we'll see.

[It's a mistake to allow oneself much short term optimism]

If you want to understand the value of short-term optimism based on the democrats regaining power, think back to the 2006 election, a time of wonderful euphoria and hope for meaningful change in many areas including the environment, then think about Rangel taking over the House environmental committee and the first thing he said was that there would be no increase in CAFE standards. There won't be any meaningful change regardless of who is in power. The dems might get us out of Iraq, but they can't cut us loose from the middle east as long as we are so dependent on oil. And Bush will probably have us at war with Iran well before the election.

Sauve qui peut.

The main democrat candidates are owned by AIPAC just like the neocons, other then a third party the only way to maybe see some change is to go way right or way left. Guys like Paul on one side and Kucinich on the other. No chance in hell one of them makes it to the finals, AIPAC owns the machine.

The front running democrat is even more dangerous and fanatic then what we have now.

Ron Paul Pres, Dennis Kucinich VP.

Ron Paul has said that Kucinich and him agree on over 95% of their votes.

I agree.

I can't for the life of me understand how people can think there is any meaningful difference between republicans and democrats. They both maintain this artificial division so that people don't notice Bush41/Clinton42/Bush43/Clinton44 are one and the same.

The reason why nothing changes is that people don't really want things to change. Otherwise, logic would dictate, they would change.

Deep down, sheep like being sheep. I'm no Bush fan, but the fact remains more than half of this country voted for him twice and under the rules, that's that. The people have spoken. The 57% who didn't vote can blame themselves, but 95 million votes is for all practical matters a statistically certainty.

We got Bush, and judging by the beauty contest, we're certain to get another Bush.

The reason why nothing changes is that people don't really want things to change. Otherwise, logic would dictate, they would change.

I would disagree. I travel a lot of back roads and feel confident that there still is a small majority of good people in the US that wants change, is not corrupt and is willing to work.

Everything is a game of percentages.

The education system in the US does not encourage abstract thinking (to put it mildly), but even on a gut level people understand that if someone not purchased were to get elected it would be very difficult to make changes with the entrenched special interests in the senate and congress. Lot's of frustration.

The system needs to change, otherwise it's just a dog and pony show.

PG posted about this awhile back. He argues that the reason there's little difference between the parties is indeed systemic. Stability was a big concern of the founding fathers, and as a result, they set things up so that it's very difficult to change. Basically, no matter what you do, you end up with two parties that are pretty similar.

That's not true of Europe and its parliamentary style. He compared the U.S. with a cruise ship, and European-style government with a speedboat. There are advantages and disadvantages to each.

Actually, the founding fathers didn't want political parties, and hoped that there wouldn't be any. What they anticipated was a multi-polar shifting set of coalitions amongst states, depending upon their various regional interests. They did realize that the slavery/non-slavery thing would be a big one, but they hoped that there would be other sets of interests as well (urban/rural, big gov't/small gov't, free trade/protectionist, etc.), and that it would all balance out.

What they didn't anticipate was that a multiplicity of interests might cluster together, and that two big clusters would quickly emerge and formalize into political parties.

It was an accident of history, totally unintended. However, once politics came to be dominated by two parties, a dynamic came into operation that worked to increasingly freeze the US into a two party system. The Civil War and its aftermath effectively completed the process.

Now, the only way that a new party could consistently rise above the single digit level would be for one or both of the two major parties to implode (as the Whigs did), or if there was a revolutionary constitutional restructuring (providing for European-style proportional representation, for example). The latter might happen in the aftermath of the peak oil induced crises, but is otherwise unlikely. The former might happen, but is likewise unlikely. Nevertheless, it might happen, so let's consider scenarios.

The Republicans are presently the most vulnerable to an implosion. Because they have been the dominant, governing party for so long, they are most vulnerable to a serious and vicious electoral backlash if things get bad enough. We here on the TOD have spun out all sort of scenarios, and one does not have to be a doomer to think that things could nevertheless get bad enough to make a lot of voters very angry at the party that would have been perceived as being the party of the wealthy elites & the corporations, the party of BAU and inaction. Could the Republican party survive not just the loss of the White House, but also of most of its Senate and HR seats and most governors & state legislators? It did when this happened to them during the Great Depression, but just barely. If FDR had not deftly maneuvered to simultaneously co-opt the left and secure the center, then room might have opened up for a new party to emerge from either the left or the center. This time around, the Republican party is even further to the right if anything, and also has an uncompromising religious right as a major player. One possible scenario would be for a split between the religious right and the secular/business right which has traditionally formed the GOP core constituency. The religious right party could become a permanent fixture, but would also be permanently stuck in the low double digits, and thus totally marginalized and ineffectual. The traditional rump might then find common ground with centrist and center right Democrats; Joe Lieberman is an example of someone that would probably be quick to join such a group.

The Democrats are a more diverse party than the Republicans, and always have been. It is somewhat surprising that they have held together all these years. If it were not for a strong opposition in the Republican party, they would have probably broken up years ago. It is thus hard to imagine a scenario where the Democrats would break up while the Republicans are intact. The only possibility would be if the tensions between the centrists and the left-wing became so irreconcilable that the leftists finally decided that they had enough and left to form their own party - maybe in coalition with the Greens, maybe not. Again, such a group would be small and marginal. I can't see a Green/Liberal/Socialist party ever getting more than about 20-25% of the vote at best.

Were both the Republican and Democratic parties to splenter, the existence of persistent left wing and right wing parties might force the centrists together into a single dominant party. There have been other countries where, for decade after decade, a monolithic centrist party won all the elections, and the opposition parties were noisy but powerless and marginal. The US constitutional system could accomodate such a future.

A cruise ship with several dozen captains suffering of PMS perhaps.

Kunstler found the perfect word to describe it.

I love the way that Dmitri Orlov put it: "In the US, you have The Capitalist Party, and The OTHER Capitalist Party"

Those others leaving were "unnecessary bits coming off", a phrase popular with Republic Thunderbolt pilots in describing what happened to an He-111 when one made the mistake of wandering into their gunsights. The loss of Rove was a major control surface like the rudder coming away, and Goonzales' exit was the starboard engine making a pretty flame trail. Cheney leaving puts the entire administration into a shaky glide with a lot of ground between now and the safe landing on 1/20/2009.

I personally want to see a hot, flaming impact and a pardon free debris field. We need to do the right thing in the right order and Bush is incapable of doing that in the context of a status quo, let alone facing the issues which we, as a society, are becoming aware of now.

Now, an interesting debate to have, is who Bush could nominate to fill Cheney's spot that could get confirmed. Recall that he/she must be confirmed by each of the House and Senate.

Has the US ever had a VP just resign without going through some process to expel him?

Spiro T. Agnew resigned, although with threat of impeachment imminent (after old bribes surfaced).


Yeah! Who could forget the "Nattering Nabobs of Negativism"

We miss ol' Spiro Anagnastopoulis (sarconal alert)

Prior to nine eleven parties unknown took out some very large short positions. As was reported in yesterday's Drum Beat, parties unknown have took out an extremely large short position on the market recently.

So, what's left on the list?

There's also this rather dubious report from Wayne Marsden:

Chatter about an "incident" on West Coast at all time high

We're entering very uncertain times, even some of the neocons are getting out while they can. I'm sure that with everything failing around them, Bush and the neocons are going to have to make their move, but we're going to be kept guessing until they do. Iran?

Triumvirate of collapse - Economy, Ecosystem, Energy

How about

Local Troops Deploy To Nation's Capital

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Members of the 1st Battalion 265 Air Defense Artillery have mobilized and are on a plane headed first to Ft. Bliss, then for federal active duty in the capital region.

The troops will be deployed for a year.

They are ordered by the president to the nation's capital, where they will operate high-tech weapons systems against any potential air threat.


Hell, I took out a very large short position. I've been extremely short the market and not because of a possible attack by people tired of getting crapped on by the US but because I can count.

When CNBC's Erin Burnett says people are better off with lead covered toys because they're cheaper, I'm short.

When my buddy loses his second house in five years and promptly spends 60K on a really cool Mustang, I'm short.

Cid, yes and France's neocon Sarkosy (spit!) is on message paving the way. Obviously all that time he spent in the US got him up to speed pretty fast.

Nicolas Sarkozy warns of Iran's nuclear crisis

Nicolas Sarkozy gave warning yesterday that unless the West redoubled its efforts to curb Teheran's nuclear ambitions it could lead to "an Iranian bomb or the bombing of Iran".

Sarkozy warns of Iran nuclear 'catastrophe'
Nicolas Sarkozy is seen as far more pro-American than his predecessor

The French president, in his first major speech on foreign policy, made it clear he intends to apply the same energetic approach to French diplomacy as he has to domestic policy since taking office in May.

From the Middle East to relations with Russia, the president promised a break with France's traditional Gaullist position of "splendid isolation", particularly towards the United States

Sarkozy in drive to give EU global role

Mr Sarkozy had tough words on Russia, which he accused of exhibiting a “certain brutality” in using its energy assets. “When one is a great power, one should not be brutal,” Mr Sarkozy said.

You have to laugh at the hypocrisy of these neocon's.

Triumvirate of collapse - Economy, Ecosystem, Energy

Another report on US preparations for an attack -->

The United States has the capacity for and may be prepared to launch without warning a massive assault on Iranian uranium enrichment facilities, as well as government buildings and infrastructure, using long-range bombers and missiles, according to a new analysis.

The paper, "Considering a war with Iran: A discussion paper on WMD in the Middle East" – written by well-respected British scholar and arms expert Dr. Dan Plesch, Director of the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London, and Martin Butcher, a former Director of the British American Security Information Council (BASIC) and former adviser to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament – was exclusively provided to RAW STORY late Friday under embargo.


From the above story:

Most significantly, Plesch and Butcher dispute conventional wisdom that any US attack on Iran would be confined to its nuclear sites. Instead, they foresee a "full-spectrum approach," designed to either instigate an overthrow of the government or reduce Iran to the status of "a weak or failed state." Although they acknowledge potential risks and impediments that might deter the Bush administration from carrying out such a massive attack, they also emphasize that the administration's National Security Strategy includes as a major goal the elimination of Iran as a regional power. They suggest, therefore, that:

This wider form of air attack would be the most likely to delay the Iranian nuclear program for a sufficiently long period of time to meet the administration’s current counterproliferation goals. It would also be consistent with the possible goal of employing military action is to overthrow the current Iranian government, since it would severely degrade the capability of the Iranian military (in particular revolutionary guards units and other ultra-loyalists) to keep armed opposition and separatist movements under control. It would also achieve the US objective of neutralizing Iran as a power in the region for many years to come.

However, it is the option that contains the greatest risk of increased global tension and hatred of the United States. The US would have few, if any allies for such a mission beyond Israel (and possibly the UK). Once undertaken, the imperatives for success would be enormous.

However, it is the option that contains the greatest risk of increased global tension and hatred of the United States.

My opinion for some time has been that Iran is to World War Three as Poland was to World War Two.

Does it make you feel proud to be the citizen of a regime that you compare to Nazi Germany in August of 1939?

Yesterday, I recounted a conversation on the local "Neocon Radio" station in Dallas/For Worth. The two hosts suggested that the US needed to either get out of Iraq or get much tougher, by "Killing almost everyone." They finished the conversation by suggesting that they hoped the US won't have to turn the whole region into "Glowing green glass."

My definition of "success" for the remaining months of the Bush administration is that we are not sitting in radioactive rubble in January, 2009.

For the historically challenged (the first nuclear explosion, at the Trinity test site in New Mexico):


As Los Alamos director J. Robert Oppenheimer watched the demonstration, he later said that a line from the Hindu scripture the Bhagavad Gita came to mind:

"I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds".[6]

Test director Kenneth Bainbridge replied to Oppenheimer, "Now we are all sons of bitches." According to Oppenheimer's brother, Frank, Oppenheimer simply said, "It worked."

In the official report on the test, General Farrell wrote, "The lighting effects beggared description. The whole country was lighted by a searing light with the intensity many times that of the midday sun. It was golden, purple, violet, gray, and blue. It lighted every peak, crevasse and ridge of the nearby mountain range with a clarity and beauty that cannot be described but must be seen to be imagined..."[7]

News reports quoted a forest ranger 150 miles (240 km) west of the site as saying he saw "a flash of fire followed by an explosion and black smoke." A New Mexican 150 miles (240 km) north said, "The explosion lighted up the sky like the sun." Other reports remarked that windows were rattled and the sound of the explosion could be heard up to 200 miles (320 km) away.

In the crater, the desert sand, which is largely made of silica, melted and became a mildly radioactive light green glass which was named Trinitite.[8] The crater was filled in soon after the test.

Well, if we are going to make these calls at least make them correctly. How about the reverse of the same coin.
Germany 08/39 was populist and nationalist, exact opposites, even if the tactics are similar.

When you really get down to it the reason to reject both is because they are collectivist.

Between 1933 and the invasion of Poland, the Communists, Social Democrats, and trade unions had all been busted up, members rounded up and thrown in concentration camps or outright murdered. By 1939, all open dissent had been crushed and even private dissent was dangerous, as the Nazi's had their own Patriot Act, that required citizens of the Reich to report on their neighbors or risk being charged with 'aiding and abetting'. By disenfranchising a large segment of the population, the Reich was able to provide a very good life for those of Aryan descent prior to the war. So yes, by 1939, there was no visible dissent, and enthusiastic support among a large segment of the population.

However, the comparison to Poland is a reference to the invasion of Poland bringing England and France into the conflict; whereas an attack on Iran could bring in the SCO.(meaning Russia AND China)

Upon further reflection, the differences between pre-war Germany and post millenium US may not be so great. Dissent has not been crushed, but Constitutional rights HAVE been weakened and subverted. The Patriot Act did not go over as they hoped, but they tried. Surveillance of the population has taken place. Those with the right politics and big enough bank account have benefited at the expense of the rest of the population. Those with blue enough blood HAVE been enthusiastically supportive. The difference is they represent a smaller segment of the population than the benefited class in pre-war Germany.

One of Dmitri Orlov's observations was that the US doesn't need to use heavy handed police state methods to handle dissent; our system just essentially ignores them, dissenters are powerless to effect any real change.

The American way of dealing with dissent and with protest is certainly more advanced: why imprison dissidents when you can just let them shout into the wind to their heart's content?


WT, it's a little bit different this time. The Russians already have their bombers in the air, and I'll bet they're loaded. Whether they'll launch the cruise missiles, I don't know, but they amy have decided that if the USA attacks Iran, they soon be attacking Russia, and they'll be better off to strike first -- the Bush doctrine.

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

New Drudge headline:


Popular support for the Ayatollah may be disappearing as a result of gas rationing and other unpopular positions. It may be in the US best interest to let the incompetents in Teheran feed another revolution. Attacking Iran only strengthens support for the Ayatollah.


Can you include the Brits out this time please?

I cannot speak for all 60+ million, but I do not know anyone, right, centre or left who thinks this is a smart move. And the 5000 odd British Expeditionary force in Shia-dominated Basra right next to Shia dominated Iran may well be in the 'include me out' tendency.

And anyway, after the lies to Parliament by Blair regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq; and the suicide (hounding to death) of Dr Kelly, Prime Minister Brown would find it impossible to sell to Parliament and the British people. It would be political suicide to hold your coat while you go dukin' around in Iran.

If its all the same to you chaps, I think we should sit this dance out...

Britain still has some of the best reporting:

Bush: Iran 'the world's leading supporter of terrorism'

Haroon Siddique
Tuesday August 28, 2007
Guardian Unlimited

George Bush stepped up the rhetoric over Iran today as he threatened to confront the hardline regime "before it's too late".
The US president - speaking hours after the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadenijad, said his regime was ready to fill the power vacuum in Iraq - accused the Tehran government not only of being behind Shia insurgents in Iraq but also of supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Mr Bush said Iran's nuclear programme would cast the Middle East "under a shadow of nuclear holocaust" and said the regime was the "the world's leading supporter of terrorism".


Excerpt from the "Holocaust" story on Drudge:


George Bush: "Iran's actions threaten the security of nations everywhere."

Somehow, this all seems vaguely familiar.

Saudi July inflation hits 7-year high on dollar slide
Riyadh: 7 hours and 27 minutes ago

Inflation in Saudi Arabia accelerated to a seven-year high of 3.83 percent in July as rents rose in the world largest oil exporter and a currency pegged to the weak dollar helped drive up the cost of food imports. {article indicates the price of food increased by 6%)


If the Saudis cannot feed themselves due to a sudden drop in the dollar do you honestly think they will support unilateral action by the US that threatens the dollar?

If the American people allow the madman in the Whitehouse to continue to act in violation of your own constitution do not expect any sympathy from any other citizens when your empire collapses under its own weight.

I don't wish to fuel paranoia, but on Monday some UK papers led on a story that Gordon Brown might call an election as early as this October. Only once in the last century has a UK election been called just because a governing party has changed leader and Labour are only half way through a 5 year term. Does he want to get 5 more years in the bag before some sort of S, that he is presumably aware of, HTF? It may be a rumour spread just to see the press reaction, but looks rather suspicious in light of the governments rather wobbly ratings at present.

A long while ago I read an article in which Bush told someone that he sees Iran as one of the most important threats of his presidency and that even if he could not solve the problem before he exited office that he would take actions to ensure that his successors hands were tied as regarding what direction they could proceed.

"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function." -- Dr. Albert Bartlett
Into the Grey Zone

The article posted by Cid titled "US to Attack Iran" actually indicates that a poll of experts on the subject shows 89% of them think the U.S. will not attack Iran (It doesn't say what makes one an "expert" on this).

The U.S. is not in a position to attack Iran directly, because we do not have sufficient reserves of ground troops available for an additional conflict, and there is no way to raise the required number of ground troops in a short period of time. Also, Bush will not do it because he would be impeached - congress voted for Iraq, they have not and will not vote to initiate hostilities against Iran.

Expect economic and diplomatic pressure on Iran from the U.S., but not military action. What Iran and Israel may do is another topic.

The U.S. is not in a position to attack Iran directly, because we do not have sufficient reserves of ground troops available for an additional conflict, and there is no way to raise the required number of ground troops in a short period of time.

There is no intent to use troops. The intent is to obliterate Iran through bombing. Read the associated PDF to understand the intent.

If it goes ahead, America will be ranked by history somewhere between Nazi Germany in August 1939, or Japan in late November 1941. A proud moment for all Americans!!

It is worth noting that almost everyone predicting that the U.S. will attack Iran seems to be a critic of the Bush administration. This is not the same situation that prevailed with either Iraq or Afghanistan; supporters of the Bush administration predicted those attacks.

It seems to be political suicide for the President to attack Iran. What could possibly justify such a move? Let your mind wander here....

'It seems to be political suicide for the president to attack Iran. What could possibly justify such a move? Let your mind wander here...'

I hope you are jesting? Or trolling? Ahhh yes...My mind is wandering to the recent scene of a visibly angry shrub on the tarmac, red of face and just short of throwing a hissy fit, telling us all what a great person Alberto is and how much he has done for his country and that Al was laid low by a political witch hunt. As usual, shrub seems to actually believe his own bs...really sad. Shrub has quipped more than once 'it would be much easier if I was a dictator'...But I doubt that he has considered that lots of dictators are overthrown by military coup...An action that our founding fathers were afraid of and one reason that they did not want a standing army. Hell, I doubt shrub has read the constitution! The unprovoked invasion of Iraq was political suicide, the Paul Bremmer occupation was political suicide, Abu Ghraib was political suicide, ad infinum...Yet shrub was reelected to a second term. And by dog America deserves what its majority voted for. I am left with the disgusting conclusion that the only way shrub could commit 'political suicide' is to shoot himself...Watching shrub reminds me of watching a surfer emerge from a seemingly life ending 40 foot curl at the Banzai Pipeline where deadly coral lurks just beneath the waters surface, arms raised high, droplets of water glistening like diamonds on a bronzed body, triumphant...But most of all, untouchable...He makes the 'Teflon Don' look like a patsy.

It is worth noting that NASAguy is able to label people as he chooses but appears incapable of reviewing or speaking to any evidence which which might challenge his a priori assumptions.

I note this as it appears to be a common American problem. Americans make up their minds, refuse to entertain any facts which might challenge their assumptions, and dismiss, (or shout down,) any contasting viewpoint.

It's a credulous, easily mis-led, faith based polity.

People have been making these goofy claims about imminent US attacks on Iran for years now. Nothing makes your posts any more interesting than all those others that didn't pan out.

I am not trying to label anyone. It's just axiomatic that if you want to know what a man will do, you can ask his friends, and you can ask his enemies. The more accurate answer will usually come from his friends.

Disagree. As you probably know if you work at NASA, when the government does a security check on you, they don't ask your friends. They ask your friends' friends. Your friends are assumed to be lacking in objectivity.

Zipcars cut deals with college campuses

"What they have to concern themselves with is six kids getting in a Honda Civic with six-packs in the trunk and driving to the lake," says Neil Abrams, president of Abrams Consulting Group, a car-rental consulting firm. "That's the risk. As long as they mitigate that risk, I think it could be great."

There can be some downsides to renting a car whose prior occupants could have been using it as a mobile fraternity party. Because the cars aren't returned to a maintenance location after every use, as airport rentals are, students sometimes find upon pickup that the cars aren't perfectly clean or fully fueled. Grace Tomlin of Cambridge, Mass., who has used Zipcar while at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, says that one previous user left behind a baking dish, which Tomlin kept. "I was like, 'I scored!'" she says. Still, the companies say that upkeep generally isn't a problem -- even with college kids -- because shared usage encourages self-policing, since members may find themselves reusing the same car.


GM Bribes Dealers to Stop Sales Skid

Interest-free loans haven't helped. Incentives up to $4K haven't helped. Maybe bribing the dealers will. Bloomberg reports that an internal GM memo states they're giving dealers cash awards to try to stop the seemingly inexorable sales and market share erosion. The General will give dealers a $250 bonus for every car they sell from August 23 through the end of the month. The dealers, in turn, "can use the money to boost discounts offered directly to consumers through most of September." Or they can just keep the money. In the memo, Buick, Pontiac and GMC general manager Jim Bunnell said, "We have an excellent opportunity to regain our momentum." Sorry Jim, but the last time your tri-division had momentum GM execs wore hats.


As Web Fuels Bike Thefts, Victims Turn Vigilantes

In doing so, he scratched the surface of the region's stolen-bikes underworld, which police and bike store owners say has become increasingly sophisticated as expensive bikes have flooded the market and Internet sites have provided platforms to sell them easily and at high prices.

"It used to be that stolen bikes were more of a crime of opportunity," said Denise D'Amour, co-owner of Capitol Hill Bikes. "People saw a bike that wasn't locked very well, and they would grab the bike and run. With the advent of Craigslist and eBay, it looks like more expensive bikes are being stolen in a more organized way."

Registration required:

I wish you would just post a new message rather than editing a previous one. It's kind of annoying to get that "new" flag on an old message, and have to scroll through all the old stuff to find the new.

I'm torn between what I wish more: that people would have the active brain functionality required to realize that posting a whole slew of large "funny" pics is a stupid idea, or that you would just cut them out.

The more posters I meet the more I like my cat.

Funny how people replied to you just like your penguins :P

I have that same though fairly often while I'm here. I've seen plenty of bickering over pointless minutiae here- it seems to be one aspect of a particular personality type that is drawn to the drum.

BTW, there are more of those comics at Perry Bible Fellowship:


They're great, but some of them have adult content so don't send a link to Junior.

Some of them aren't as large as they appear. Some people use the "100%" tag, which blows the pictures up to fill up all the space available. They look big, but download-wise, they aren't.

However, if you use Firefox, you can easily block any images you don't want to see. I do it quite often. Even for images I do want to see, I often block them after I've seen them, simply because large charts, graphs, etc. really slow down load time.

I know how large pictures are, I check that all the time. Large as in Kb that is, not pixels.

The first cartoon is about 60K, but takes more to transfer. Useless, and a drag for dial-up. Even when I went to highspeed, they didn't get through properly.

If there are graphs that can't be downsized, and are important to a post, then at times there's no other choice. But clogging up people's connection with something someone thinks is funny is not. Funny that is.

Of course there's people who don't get that, either technically or philosophically. And that's where you come in.

Actually, I didn't realize he'd posted any images at all. I have the entire domain blocked, so I didn't see a thing.

I removed them. I didn't think they were that large, but some people are still on dialup.


Go to 'Find on this page', type [new] and hit 'next' and it will tab you through to each successive new post without having to scroll.

That is precisely why I want people to post new messages rather than just adding onto old ones. So we don't have to scroll!

While thinking about speaking with someone unaware of peak oil, I got to thinking about the Geologist community and seeking solid scientific evidence for imminent PO -

I like what Colin Campbell has to say and how he presents it.

Is he considered a cook in the Geologist community?

How does the Geologist community compare with the Global Warming scientific community (I would imagine the GW community is much larger)?

For GW, those scientists denying it are considered cooks. How does that compare with the Geology community? Is the debate still out, or are those geologists denying Imminent PO considered corporate shills?

Is there a significant number of Geologists who deny Imminent Peak Oil who also DO NOT receive payment from Big Oil?

Informed opinion on any of this would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

This information is anecdotal, not statistical...

I have met a number of geologists and many are not especially involved with petroleum so they are often not fully aware of the discovery curve problem. This appears to comprise one subset of all geologists.

There are also the petroleum geologists. My niece is a geologist for a major IOC though and she thought there was plenty of oil. I pointed her to the discovery curve and asked her to explain that since the logical explanation is either (a) there is less to find or (b) she and her counterparts are finding less than their predecessors. She was unable to explain the discovery curve, which set her off on a discovery quest of her own which included talking to her own grandfather, a retired mining engineer who was very aware of peak oil. So hearing it from me, a laymen in terms of those fields, was not sufficient to change her mind but being confronted with data and being asked to explain it forced her to do her own investigations.

According to my niece, most of her co-workers don't look at global figures very much. Or at least they don't acknowledge doing so. They pay attention to their employer's reserves mainly and strive to ensure that those reserves get at least replaced. Obviously in the last several years this has become an increasingly difficult problem. ;)

"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function." -- Dr. Albert Bartlett
Into the Grey Zone

IME, this is exactly correct.

And it sort of ties in with things Tainter and Diamond have said. In a complex society, everyone is a specialist. When civilization-threating problems arise, no one understands them. They are too complex for any one person to grasp.

Trying to grow my own food and coming to understand the resources, skills, time and energy involved has opened my eyes even more. Jeff Vail alluded to the importance of growing one's own food in yesterday's EROEI post; it's fundamental.

cfm in Gray, ME

Maybe i'm off base in this, i'd sure like to know.

When a company reports sales, the sales are mostly of oil, denominated in barrels.

When they report replacement rate, its generally in barre ofoil equivalent, which is 6 thousand cubic feet of gas, which is a volume reported as an equivalent. There's no conversion into BTU's which could at least see if they are comparing apples and oranges. Back in the 1990's when they came up with this formula, there was even a rough price equivalency-natural gas sold for $2.00/mcf or about the same as $12.00 oil. Now, gas sells for $6.00/mcf, and the barrel of oil equivalent is only worth $36.00.

On top of that, a barrel of crude is a lot more fungible, because NG isn't transportable by ship without refrigeration and warm uo facilities at the receiving country, and the price differential for gas is even greater in between countries like Qatar and Japan, considered with say Bolivian natural gas, which can't be shipped any farther than Peru or Argentina.

So, are all the Financial Statements just so much BS? How can they say they've replaced their reserves with BOE when its not worth the same or as saleable? I think the world discovery rate is worse than is represented. Bob Ebersole

I suspect that you are correct, Bob, in guessing that world discovery rates are worse than reported and being papered over in "BOE" terms.

"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function." -- Dr. Albert Bartlett
Into the Grey Zone


My exposure is primarily in academic circles, and not among professional/practicing geologists; in US academia, both undergraduate and graduate, petroleum geology is distinctly an unloved child since at least the mid '80s. In fact, this is true not of of petroleum geology but resource geology in general.

I believe a lot of this is down to a general feeling that, although geophysical and analytical techniques continue to evolve, resource geology is essentially a solved problem. (I don't share this view!) Couple this with a large trend toward consolidation into earth sciences or earth systems departments and the associated influx of students motivated initially by "green" concerns (I was part of that group in my day -- green in quotes only because the high school understanding of sustainability and "green"ness is necessarily limited) and you have a situation where the study of "getting stuff out of the ground" has taken on near-pariah status.

Indeed, I learned field technique and structural analysis from a man who occupied the Schlumberger Chair of Geology in my department and I never once heard "kerogen", "source rock", "trapping formation", or even "drill" from his lips. This is in no way an aspersion; oil simply isn't on the radar for most in the field these days.

I do believe that the trend towards earth systems analysis and away from geology among undergrads, at least, along with an increasing focus on resource limitations, will begin to address this among new earth scientists over the next few years, but sort of from the other side of the circle.

Ummm... kook?

Is he considered a cook in the Geologist community?

I have no information wrt his culinary skills

Few petroleum geologists that I have met take a global view of world oil production. I also think that because peak oil is so threatening and life changing there is a natural sense of denial.

Nevertheless, I shall continue posting my forecasts until there is strong evidence that peak oil has passed. The next four months has the potential to be extremely revealing about the true ability of world supply to meet demand.

The world total liquids production forecast below has been updated for IEA’s 10 Aug 2007 OMR and shows that peak world total liquids remains at 86.13 mbd on Jul 2006.

click to enlarge

The Jun 2007 total liquids production has been revised downwards from 84.28 mbd to now 84.19 mbd. This is a drop of almost 2 mbd from 86.13 mbd, one year ago in Jul 2006. Fortunately the OMR Table 3 states that there has been a good increase back to 85.26 mbd for Jul 2007.

But then on page 1 of the OMR “monthly gains from non-OPEC producers could prove short-lived as maintenance and seasonal factors will likely reverse the July increase in August and September”. This implies that production will be about 85 mbd for both Aug and Sep 2007.

Let’s say that total liquids production is 85 mbd for Sep 2007. The OMR Table 2 states that world total liquids demand for 4Q07, starting in Oct 2007, is forecast to be 88 mbd. That’s 3 mbd more than the Sep 07 production! No wonder that the IEA has been making repeated calls for OPEC to increase production.

It would not surprise me if oil prices increased by 20% before the end of 2007, based on the IEA’s supply demand gap of 3 mbd. That would mean that Brent could reach $US85/bbl by end of 2007. However, the demand could soften leading to smaller oil price increases. According to former US Treasury secretary Larry Summers, the US recession risk is highest since 9/11. This site indicates the US recession has been underway since about mid 2006 as in the chart below.

click to enlarge

For more details about my forecasts please see

Alan, I thought you might find this mystery interesting...

More Metro Stations Shut Down By Smoke
Officials Call 2 Days Of Cases Baffling


'Smoke poured into Metro subway tunnels again last night, a day after an unprecedented and unexplained series of such incidents, and baffled officials began to consider the possibility that the events were more than mere accidents.

"This is not normal," Metro General Manager John B. Catoe Jr. said. "This is highly, highly irregular."...snip...

They thought I was crazy when I ordered my smoke mask (http://www.myfiremask.com). Not anymore.
And it doesn't weigh much or take up much space in my laptop bag. And hey, they give you a replacement if you need to use it (it is a single-use mask).


Unfortunately, this product would be much less effective in providing you with safe air in a subway. In a confined space like an underground train tunnel, the fire has reduced access to oxygen, so it forms more CO, carbon monoxide. This mask will not filter out the CO, nor will it provide you with oxygen to replace the oxygen that the fire has consumed. This is why firefighters use SCBA packs instead of filtering the air. You would do just as well to go to your local hardware store and get a HEPA mask. Actually, it would be better at the hardware store because you could then afford to get enough so that other people won't have to rip the mask off of your face to use themselves.

They are reporting this morning that the problem was a lightning strike. That, and our old friend, aging infrastructure. It's not only highways and bridges that are affected.

Metro transit agency officials blamed aging infrastructure and a possible lightning strike for causing electrical problems that hobbled train service in the capital region for two straight nights.

Metro General Manager John Catoe said a power surge that may have been caused by lightning likely blew a transformer near Reagan National Airport on Sunday evening, sparking small fires and sapping power to trains running on the track.

...Storms rolled through the area both Saturday and Sunday nights, and the National Weather Service said there were frequent lightning strikes.

The service problems highlight Metro's aging system, which Catoe said needs billions of dollars to help fund upgrades to tracks, trains and other infrastructure.

Hello TODers,

As usual, breaking news from Zimbabwe provides an illustrative example:

Zimbabwe: Give Fertilizer Sector Priority On Power

Considering just how crucial this mine is to Zimbabwe, providing one of the three major fertilizers that the entire agricultural sector requires, it seems there is a good case for it to be given a high priority when it comes to allocating electricity.

Many other preparations for the forthcoming season, including special allocations of electricity to farmers, will come to naught if there is not enough phosphate.
I am not aware of the principal power sources for the North American potash and phosphate mines, but my guess would be that Saskatchewan potash mining is primarily natgas and coal energized [with some % by hydro], and the mines in Florida and other Southeastern states are also FF-powered. When the crunch comes: it would only make sense for the cities to willingly accept massive blackouts so that these mines can be kept running at all costs to provide NPK. I believe this will be a necessary crucial bridge as most of the labor force transitions to relocalized permaculture and full recycling. As mentioned before: we should gladly accept the natural darkness in exchange for water, food, and minimal violence.

As I am an ignorant city dweller to the myriad details of NPK & soil science: I seek to continue my learning. Living in the desert, I mostly assumed a drought based concern, but I found an interesting article on what too much rain can do:

Nitrogen use, the endgame

Well the rain just stopped falling in time. Wet ground had just begun to resemble the difficult May of 2006. Cows were leaving holes where they were placing their feet. These holes were filling with water, and the possibility of them being dry again by Christmas was remote.

And the real killer of the lot? The leaves of the grass plant had started to turn yellow on soils that had been saturated once too often.This yellowing is purely due to the fact that the plant is totally deficient in nitrogen.

It also probably has a protein content of about 14pc, when the grass plant should have 21-22pc. Feed cows enough of this stuff and a half gallon of milk will disappear quickly. Whether such fields had got a bag of nitrogen or not in early August made no difference. Once soils are saturated all the air pockets fill with water.

Our normally friendly bacteria now become our enemies. They denitrify the nitrogen present, with the result that it disappears into the atmosphere.
So even if a farmer does not have his farmland swamped by flowing floods [washing away the mulch & NPK], a too soggy acreage can rapidly deplete the nitrogen too; the normally beneficial bacteria flip into 'blowback mode' to expell the nitrogen as a gas. Since parts of Texas and Oklahoma have been quite soggy this year: it will be interesting to see the future demand need for nitrogen replenishment going forward.

Lastly, acid rain directly depletes the topsoil, thus requiring ever more NPK applications:

Acid rain threatens forests in more ways than previously thought

UC Riverside Earth Scientist Martin Kennedy and colleagues report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that acid rain, by leaching essential metal nutrients (such as potassium, calcium, and magnesium) from topsoil, may pose a far graver threat to forests than has been previously estimated. This result would especially interest ecologists, biologists, geologists, and policy makers.

If deprived of a certain critical nutrient, such as calcium, a tree faces the risk of dying. In parts of Germany, for example, trees are already dying not from the direct effects of the acid, but from magnesium deficiency, this magnesium loss from the soil stemming from leaching by acid rain. Such leaching results in the loss of topsoil nutrients to groundwater and eventually to rivers.
TopTODer Ace had a link discussing acid rain in Western Canada in the THAI thread. So the more we extract the coal and oilsands to get liquid fuels: then evermore liquid fuels have to be devoted to the procurement and distribution of essential minerals to try and offset the pollution/depletion of the global soil vitality.

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

I still think that Hydroponics is going to be key to supplying food. (if not for the low water usage alone) not to mention it will give us a way to repair our soils without having to starve... There is no reason it wont work due to being able to make various guano teas and things like that. Maybe it is time people got pet bats instead of pet birds? (insane comment but gives thought I hope)

By the way Bob I fired up my hydroponic garden it is 24sqft right now and I am going to do my next phase to 64 then 128 sqft garden. It is working quite awesome!

I am starting my "Victory Garden" from Heirloom Seeds that are not GM!

Learn to garden organically!

Not only do you avoid the problem of NPK fertilizer supply, but also learn how to build healthy soil, rather than mine the soil in the way modern agriculture does.

Bob's concern with fertilizer inputs is probably on target if one is looking at the population being fed on petro-chemical based agriculture. But, do we really want to support agricultural practices that are killing our soil?

Consider the inputs for hydroponics as well. You might find a way around the FF-fertilizer inputs, but how much of the rest of the (FF-based)inputs can you avoid?

Combine that with the lack of trace minerals that plants take up from the soil and you have a strong reason to avoid hydroponics and move to organic gardening.

Hello Shaman,

My Thxs to you and other TODers for responding.

Your Quote: "Bob's concern with fertilizer inputs is probably on target if one is looking at the population being fed on petro-chemical based agriculture. But, do we really want to support agricultural practices that are killing our soil?"

Evidently, killing the area's soil and water resources is the top priority in my Asphalt Wonderland. The Govt. is running TV commercials asking for people to become garbage truck drivers. This is to maximize the blowback process of hauling local resources way out into the desert, then burying them beyond the reach of possible future crunchtime recycling. I can hardly wait until the toxic chemicals leach into the aquifers. =(

The Global Institute Of Sustainability [GIOS], our leading thinktank, does not seem concerned at this worrisome trend vs screaming long and loud for full localized recycling, composting, and Humanure processes.

Since they fully support and are entirely funded by the infinite growth mindset: they are proudly trumpeting, in their latest press release-- the energy savings of more efficient copiers-- which of course will require even more garbage truck drivers to haul away the dead tree increase.

GIOS homepage link:
Latest Press release:
New copiers enhance sustainability efforts

In an effort to align itself with ASU President Michael Crow’s vision to create a more sustainable university, the University Technology Office (UTO) and ASU’s Digital Document Services are replacing campus printers and copiers with more energy-efficient models by Canon. All four ASU campuses – Downtown Phoenix, Polytechnic, Tempe and West – will receive new machines for use in student computing labs as part of a larger endeavor to incorporate Crow’s initiatives into ASU’s computing and printing services. ASU is the first university to implement a sustainability program of this magnitude and will create a new university standard in the process.

Woo-hoo, we are saved! Now, let's first get our SUVs washed and polished to a high gleam to impress our buddies as we gather our golfclubs for an exploration of the many new golf courses.

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

I'd like to post a link from a comment by JimK


Many people have noted the close relationship between oil and our current economic system. In fact its not clear their is a real separation. Thus we have terms like the petrodollar.

I've grown increasingly concerned that our system is not robust against the challenges of peak oil especially if it continues to not be acknowledged. Jim came up with a simple model that expresses what I'm concerned about. Since oil production has close ties to the concept of fractional banking. In fact oil production can be modeled as taking a long term loan. You make a initial investment and you get 30 years of production. Thus oil reserves act as a sort of bank. The model Jim proposed post peak is that as oil supplies become scarce the system starts working in reverse.
In the forward mode a small amount of money is multiplied 9 or so times via the wonders of fractional banking if you reverse the process you see a default event destroys 9 times the amount of money owed via cascading defaults.

Mapped to oil and cost instead of money this means the oil industry will in a sense refuse to lend or in this case develop reserves leading to the same sort of cascading default effect as spiraling prices make more reserves unprofitable. In fact running the fractional banking concept in reverse seems to be a great simple model for capturing the collapse of ponzi based growth systems like oil extraction and fiat currencies.

This model contains the key concepts fragmentation, correlations, positive feedback, receding event horizons etc. And it has the cliff like form we would expect during a collapse.

I think its worth pondering.

Yes Memmel, I read that mind storming between you, JimK, and HeisSofly.

Exciting and important.

Provided insight into the fractional reserve/ financial crisis and at the same time the potential of PO decline.

Damn fine thinking. Worth twice the price I pay... OOPS it's free I forgot.

Well cheers!

Mystery trader bets market will crash by a third
An anonymous investor has placed a bet on an index of Europe's top 50 stocks falling by a third by the end of September, as world equity markets plunged for a third day and volatility hit a three-year high.

The mystery investor has bought put option contracts on the DJ Eurostoxx 50 index that will result in a profit if it plunges to 2,800 or below by the end of September. Based on the 2,800 strike price, the position covers a notional €6.9bn, and potentially even more using a market price of about 4,100 when the trades were done on Tuesday and Wednesday.

More Investors Are Betting on Major Selloff in Stocks
So far, over $500 million in so-called put options have been purchased betting that the benchmark Standard and Poor's 500 index [.SPX 1449.6 -17.19 (-1.17%) will tumble anywhere from 5% to 11% in September. Some investors are even buying put options calling for 52% decline. A "put" option increases in value as the underlying stock or index falls.

To put it in perspective, a 5% drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average would be the equivalent of 667 points. An 11% decline would equal 1,468 points. And a 52% drop? You don't even want to know.

The upshot is that some major investors are putting up big money that the market is facing a major decline.

Wait a second. How can there be a "Mystery Investor" in this day and age? Was he -- or perhaps she -- wearing a cape and mask, thus obfuscating their identity?

I have to assume real money from real accounts is changing hands to purchase half a billion dollars in 'puts' - it's not like traders execute orders on the receipt of anonymous emails.

Someone, somewhere, knows who actually placed these recent orders -- and the ones previous to 9-11, if only to know where to wire the proceeds.

Curiously enough, the only thing that went through the mind of the bowl of petunias as it fell was Oh no, not again. Many people have speculated that if we knew exactly why the bowl of petunias had thought that we would know a lot more about the nature of the universe than we do now. -- Douglas Addams

Indeed. I think the positive feedbacks (with mighty negative consequences to the economy..) are largely ignored in depletion models. In the model I am working on, the remaining reserves of fossils don't get half utilized because of the vicious cycle of less energy available leading to less energy produced. This is what kills the renewables option - because we did not start when we were still growing.

"If we lose the forests, we lose everything"
- Bill Mollison

Jay from finland

This morning I posted an estimate of the costs and production in the Alberta Bitumen Sands, in the THAI key post yesterday. While I'm not an engineer, I've been around oil deals all my life. My conclusion was that the potential returns over a 2 year period, the life of the wells, appears to be about 2:1 to 2.5:1 in a very optimistic scenario. Would a petroleum engineer and/or oil and gas accountant please look at my figures there?

If I'm right, this will at least have a return, which SAGD and strip mining do not at today's oil prices with the present value of capital considered. The most optimistic production rates of 5 mbopd in Canada and other tertiary production methods will leave us very short, by as much as 10 mbopd by 2017 at today's consumption rates of crude. National security and prudence demand that we begin to conserve immediately. Alan Drake's Electrification of rail plan and switching to hybrids and electric vehicles are immediate necessities, and WesTexas ELP plan is the only personal plan that will enable us to be prosperous and secure. Wake up people! Bob Ebersole

My daughter and son-in-law have both just started work (son-in-law working for an energy services company, daughter in medical research for now, but she is trained in forensics). They are living below their means, planning to pay off all student loans within two years. They are renting a small townhouse along the commuter rail line between Dallas and Fort Worth. My daughter takes the train to and from work (at a cost of $30 per year for an unlimited mass transit pass, courtesy of her employer).

You might surmise that I have been offering them some advice.

In any case, both of them are getting some interesting feedback from their coworkers, more or less along the lines of: WTF!!! ARE YOU CRAZY!!! WHY AREN'T YOU BUYING A HOUSE AND NEW CARS????

I suggested to daughter and son-in-law that their actions are threatening to their debt ridden coworkers.

There is an article on Slate now about how how slutty some young girls clothing is, apparently written by a mother doing back to school shopping. A large amount seems to have slogans touting shopping and buying things, even a pair of underwear that says 'buy it now, tell dad later'.

I know that we've been groomed to be good consumers for quite a while now, but it seems like it's getting more blatant...

Yes, just like not drinking at a party full of heavy drinkers.

Living within your means is not common, but will be shortly imho.

Kudos to them!

I was chatting with a co-worker this morning. He has a 2000 SUV, paid for, and his wifes 2004 vehicle is almost paid off. His wife is starting to pressure him to buy a new vehicle since the maintenance cost will start to increase. I asked him if his maintenance cost would be more than the new car cost.

People I think just don't get it. Buy more, buy more. Even with the mortgage mess going on, I still see a bunch of web banners for re-fi mortgages, no SSN required, interest only, etc.

Anyway I have been realizing how much one needs to work at not spending ones money. I am seeing more and more how we are pressured into buying more, or the system is just set up to make it hard not to spend money.

Between boredom and terror lies .... buying more crap. As the man who later shot his friend in the face told us back in 2001:

"Conservation may be a sign of personal virtue, but it cannot be the basis for a sound, comprehensive energy policy."

I wonder what sound comprehensive energy policy he had in mind. Ohhh, wait...

"When the going gets tough,
the tough go shopping,
to buy something,
a little nothing,
to fill up the hole in their heart."

from the song "Egypt" by Tuxedomoon

A long stretch of headlights
Bends into I-9
Tiptoe into truck stops
And sleepy diesel eyes
Volcanoes rumble in the taxi
And glow in the dark
Camels in the driver's seat
A slow, easy mark

But you ran out of gas
Down the road a piece
Then the battery went dead
And now the cable won't reach...

It's your last chance
To check under the hood
Last chance
She ain't soundin' too good,
Your last chance
To trust the man with the star
You've found the last chance Texaco

-Rickie Lee Jones


Well, yes but.

A while ago I recounted (here) that "Years ago, I sometimes biked a route that took me past a neigborhood populated by folks from the local meat-packing plant and other smaller industrial plants. And let's just say that Peak Blue Collar Real Wages had long since passed. So, among other things, one day, an apoplectic guy in a pickup truck yelled, 'what do you think this is, Red China?' I felt certain (and still do) that he felt threatened by anyone he saw moving from Point A to Point B in any manner less expensive than he was (1) accustomed to, and (2) becoming steadily less able to afford."

Anytime you are seen to be choosing differently from the way the herd is seen to choose, someone may take issue with you. It's almost just part of life. Consider a context as banal as star fever. A 'star' entertainment might be utter rubbish, and they will never question my attendance. Anything local is another matter altogether, it can't possibly have any value if they 'never heard of it.'

But, these days, the touchy attitude may have become a bit more understandable with respect to economic choices. In addition to ever more economic insecurity, we now have an increasing fashion for calling for asceticism, frequently with the unstated implication - as with calls for gasoline rationing - that it should be enforced by the ultimate threat of governmental violence. This adds a certain je ne sais quois, a touch of reality, to the threat.

Oh, and not to forget, too many of those calling for asceticism in one form or another - including but not limited to Hollywood stars with their palaces and jets - actually spend and consume with tremendous extravagance, often on the thin excuse that it is for "business". This claim is usually unavailable to lesser mortals, who will simply be under an ugly form of lockdown (viz. Iran) if and when the asceticism comes into force.

In a general sense, then, the whole affair reeks with an eye-watering stink of hypocrisy, blinding people and raising the general level of fear, anger, and snarkiness. And individual circumstances don't immediately overcome this. Which might have something to do with the discussions your daughter and son-in-law are encountering.

WT, I have encountered brain dead 'threatened' people most of my life. I have been a motorcycle rider for 50 years and believe me, I have seen every sort of discrimination against my choice of transportation. Back in the 50s it was much worse than now. But, like most things the popularity of motorcycles rises and falls. Now they are 'somewhat acceptable' since so many people have jumped on the Harley bandwagon and proclaimed themselves bikers. Thats fine with me, it gives me a bit more legitimacy in the eyes of the brain dead, but deep down I dont care what they think...if they think at all. I have never figured out how much gas that I have saved in 50 years of riding but it is a considerable number of gallons. Hey, I would rather spend my $ on beer, or anything else except gas!

Bob, well said. But, how do we make these imperatives go to the top of the public policy agenda???

IMHO, a big priority is to put someone in the WH who is not joined at the hip to the oil industry and who will serve the public interest instead of the interests of today's Economic Royalists; and, likewise to elect members of Congress that will challenge the status quo, including taking on the Military-Industrial Complex, which has descended into the gawd awful depths of corruption, especially with Iraq-related "contracting". This sounds impossible, I know, but people-powered politics driven by the Internet, on fora such as this, does have the power to change things over the long haul.

It all begins with a well-informed public, among whom the truth can be freely and openly examined with the debate guided by reason. We just have to do an end run around the Gatekeepers of Information and Peddlers of Propaganda at Big Media Inc. Kudos to the Oil Drum for supporting this battle.

I have also added a comment about significant flow rates that could be achieved using this technique:

Assuming 1 new producing pair (125 m, 1.2 kbpd, 18 months lifetime, uninterrupted production) installed every week for 20 years:

- we will reach a production plateau around 84 kbpd after 1.5 year (i.e. 70 pairs working all the time and constantly replaced).
- after 20 years, we will have installed 17,000 pairs!
- assuming that each pair has a footprint of 125mx50m (not including auxiliary infrastructure), about 0.33 km2 of land will be used every year.
- in order to reach a production plateau of 1 mbpd lasting 3 years and a half, you will need to install 12 new pairs every week for at least 5 years.

Clearly, the THAI process is not a solution to peak oil but rather a good way to make money.

I think that a lot of net energy consumers, especially those in the cornucopian camp (i.e., virtually all of them), are getting misled by the enthusiasm in some sectors of the energy industry.

I can make money--perhaps a lot of money--by finding small "leftover" oil fields in the US.

And oil companies in general can make money--perhaps a lot of money--by bringing smaller fields on line and by bringing on nonconventional production.

The question is, can we increase our net energy flow rate and if we can, for how long?

In other words, what are chances of seeing an infinite rate of increase in our consumption of a finite fossil fuel resource base?

The question is, can we increase our net energy flow rate and if we can, for how long?

This is a key question, in my opinion.

A company, like a human being, prefers to do less work, yet earn the same amount of money (to approach the singularity of the proverbial "free lunch" as closely as possible). The Free Market economy rewards those companies that are most efficient at earning money, not those companies that produce the most energy.

OPEC seems to understand this, as do the Big Oil companies. Many economists do not seem to understand this difference.

The supply/demand curve creates a wall, beyond which oil companies dare not venture.

"It isn't the sum you get, it's how much you can buy with it, that's the important thing; and it's that that tells whether your wages are high in fact or only high in name."

- "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court", Mark Twain

Khebab, WesTexas-
Did ya'll check out my rough figures I posted on the Thai thread this AM? I think it has an extremely low ROI for the amount of risk, and the projection that they will get 4,711,000 barrels per 10 acres like 1200 barrels a day suggests is mighty high. That's about twice as high a per acre figure than even the very best oilwells on this continent. At best, they may end up trading dollars like Barnett shale wells.
Bob Ebersole

I like to say again the only thing that can replace oil is in situ coal gasification/ CTL program that can produce a liquid fuel thats easily upgraded at or close to the well head.

This is all we have tar sands are just don't have the resource base to justify the technical investment.

Now a in situ coal gasification system will you enormous amounts of water and produce a lot of C02 so the environmental footprint is awful. But if we want to continue our fossil fuel bing its the next step.

After that of course is methane hydrates.

The we would have burned everything that can be burned.
God know what our planet would be like at that point.

You forgot the forests.

Actually I suspect the forests will be denuded in the third world at least. Needless to say I fear for our forests and fish stocks etc they could easily be quickly wiped out at the beginning of a collapse.
Some things I don't like to contemplate if we try to stick with our current lifestyles too depressing. But a crash implies a easter island like effect over the short term.

I doubt we can expand coal fast enough to avert a crash.

A quick calculation:

4,711,000 barrels = 4,711,000 x 42 gallons x 0.0037854 m3= 7.4899 x 105 m3

10 acres= 10 x 0.4046873 ha x 10,000 m2= 4.0469 x 104 m2

7.4899x105/4.0469x104= 18 m

so this oil volume will roughly correspond to a reservoir covering 10 acres with an oil column of 18 m.

Assuming an average porosity of 30%, a recovery of 70%, and an oil saturation of 88% (ref), we get a net pay thickness of 100 m.

[Editor's note by Super G, 11/26/07] Link changed at the request of link destination.

And Exxon Baytown refinery will burn through that much crude in just 8 days making gasoline and other liquids for us. John

The tar sands and oil shale + new technologies do sound like things that could save our lives, even if they don't ward off peak oil and the collapse of our current economic system. In that sense, doomerism may be overlooking the possibility that, to keep us alive - ie to continue the green revolution and to handle bare necessities - maintaining an oil flow rate of 1/4 today's current production may be all that is necessary.

It won't be pretty, but it would help prevent a die-back on the order of 3-4 billion people.

Oil shale will simply not work, regardless of the number of lives at stake.

Tar sands will kill more via Global Warming than it will save.

OTOH, electrifying our railroads, building Urban Rail as fast as we can and shifting transportation to non-oil transportation (plus geothermal heat pumps driven by wind, solar, pumped storage & nuke) can provide a difficult way out.

Best Hopes,


Getting by on 1/4 current production would naturally involve your electrified rail program. I'm completely on-board with that. However, blanket statements like "Oil shale will simply not work" and "Tar sands will kill more via Global Warming than it will save" seem extreme. For instance, why are the tar sands so terrible for Global Warming that they will kill more than they save even though we are burning only 25% as much oil as we are now? Are you saying tar sands production will forevermore, despite any innovations, create 4,5, 6, or 10x as much CO2 as regular oil use?

As for shale oil, again, are you saying no innovation is possible?

Note, I am not arguing the peak oil can be averted - I am explicitly saying our oil production ends up at 1/4 current production. Given current methods, the tar sands and oil shale are hopeless even to provide that relatively low level. But, again, innovations are always possible is all I'm saying.

Additionally, your rail program does nothing to help us continue to grow as much food as we do currently. I'm talking about the other half of the solution - ie, not just conservation in transportation, but also maintaining food production.

Are you saying tar sands production will forevermore, despite any innovations, create 4,5, 6, or 10x as much CO2 as regular oil use ?

I cannot argue against an unknown. What new developments will technology create at some indeterminate future point in time ?

However, current and near term future policy choices should not bet on the arrival of the JIT Technology Fairy.

As for food production, a change in diet combined with more renewable methods of farming (a slow conversion) seem workable to me. No more corn-feed beef for one.

Best Hopes,


JIT = Just in Time

I wasn't advocating any policy. I was just suggesting that maybe we won't all die.

Best hopes for technology fairies and innovative solutions to our problems.

Diaper-free babies’ fad swells, despite critics

“They teach them from birth? Oh, my God!” said 40-year-old Lisa Bolcato, as she held her 5-month-old daughter, Rose, at a park on Boston Common. “When you’re getting two hours of sleeps between feedings, I don’t think that you have the time to do it. You just make sure that your child’s healthy and happy and well-fed.”

Still, the practice is common in many parts of rural Africa and Asia where parents cannot afford diapers.

Peak Diapers

Senator Vitter will have a policy statement on this before the day is out :-)

We did it, but starting at 4 months.. peak poop was about 12 months, and by 18mos most of the pees were managed as well. It is very tough to add such a regimen to babycare, especially when almost noone else in the culture around you does it, or knows about it, and when both parents have to work to make ends even come close to meeting. We told friends and siblings about it, but people can take on just so much. I can only imagine the amount of diapers we didn't have to buy or wash. We did mostly cloth, with some disposables on trips, and near the end as Overnight undies, where they would be reused for several days before one would get wet.

My Mom was in the same boat as far as Breastfeeding, 40 years ago. It was treated as 'bathroom' stuff, practically bestial or at least 'Too European'.. please do that in private, dear! Even with our daughter, the number of packets of free Formula that we were bribed with was pretty prodigious, but we wouldn't touch the stuff.

Interesting news report on cheaper solar power:


Very long-winded piece at the Huffington Post praising the oil shale god:

J. Thomas Andrews: Oil Shale to the Rescue?

"... But the difficult truth is that neither biofuels nor hybrids will reduce our dependence on Persian Gulf crude anytime soon.

Today, biofuels are not cost-competitive with conventional crude. They only survive with subsidies. Moreover, the potential for biofuels to contribute to our energy recipe is severely limited by their land requirements. Right now, ethanol is produced primarily from corn. According to a 2006 University of Minnesota study, dedicating the entire U.S. corn crop to biofuel production could only offset 12% of our gasoline consumption. According to researchers at the Cato Institute, "For corn ethanol to completely displace gasoline consumption in this country, we would need to appropriate all U.S. cropland, turn it completely over to corn-ethanol production, and then find 20 percent more land for cultivation on top of that."


The only real option America has if it hopes to free itself from the shackles of Middle East petro-politics anytime soon is to find new sources of domestic petroleum. Am I suggesting that we drill ANWR? The truth is that it doesn't make much of a difference if we do or don't. ANWR is a red herring -- it only has enough petroleum to support America's domestic needs for just one year -- maybe two. However, we have another source of domestic petroleum that has the potential to make a big difference: oil shale."

Hallelujah! We're saved. Why hadn't anyone thought of this before?

You picked the one source of energy that is not profitable to produce, shale oil...if you crush the rock and burn it to fuel a boiler, you might get steam generated power as was done in Estonia. It is easier to get coal out of the ground and burn it. Can you stop lust to get a more sustainable world population at a higher income level? Findimg more oil is not enough if you have three times as many people crowding in to each new barrel due to panic to grow big families.

Actually oil shale is cheap and abundant. You just have to get people used to the idea that it will take atomic explosions underground in order to heat up the oil shale enough to get it to flow. Not a big deal really. We will be doing this by 2050 anyway....

"Panic to grow big families" comes from poverty. Someone has to work the subsistence farming and take care of you in your old age. High incomes slow population growth. These countries have old age pension systems and it costs so much to send the kids to college. There is hardly any population growth in the developed world except for immigration and births to these immigrants. (Newly rich petro kingdoms also have high growth rates.) Reducing incomes is unlikely to help the population problem.

You are assuming OECD style pensions are sustainable ... they are a relatively new invention ... I think the 'baby boomers' will be the first generation to give it a good test ... it's too early to tell yet that they are sustainable ... the unfolding evidence is not good!

So, maybe small families/high income doesn't work for long either?


J.Thomas Andrews needs to rush and get his IRA money in Colorado oil shale. (sarcanol alert)
Bob Ebersole

Lots of oil here, 640,Billion barrels.


Unleash the Atom!

A little bit on iron ore inflation that may affect future oil production costs and bridge repair. 35%, also posted earlier on end of receding horizons thread.


Wherever you turn, and even if you'd turn your head 720 degrees, horizons recede.

Anyone want to try and figure out what this 35% steel price increase means for all those construction projects in the energy sector?

It's not steel, it's iron ore from the biggest exporters, all related to Chinese demand, or so they say. And it is projected, so it could change, but, I wish I had been able to replace that disc last winter, or 4 years ago when I first priced the new one. Doubt I'll be able this winter...

But it does get right to the stock market and the selloff on the latest Fed minute report-that the prior meeting minutes showed inflation concerns trumping hedge-real estate concerns.

Inflation and declining markets, the fed problem. I really wonder also how such ore increases might impact any future rail plans

Alan-how much does the cost of steel figure in new rail construction?

They new standard for most construction (heavy duty rail lines get a bit heavier) is 136 lbs/yard. Two parallel rails with some used for reinforcing concrete ties and bridges. 80 lb rail was common a century ago, weights have been increasing steadily.

Still, 250 to 300 tons/mile is a reasonable guesstimate for modern single track.

Rolling costs are a capital and not energy related cost (although some energy is certainly used).

Not sure what steel ingot costs today.

Hopes that helps.


"steel ingot costs today."

Not cheap. Lower grade (304) of drawn stainless steel bar has gone from $2745 per ton in Mar 06 to $6504 in May 07, according to MEPS, world stainless steel prices sheet. High grade is up to $9419, USD. Or close to 2 million/mile for low grade.

Stainless is overkill for tracks. Normal steel is more like $800 per ton, or about $250,000 in steel costs per mile.

True for most rail. Switches and some sharper, high volume curves use cast manganese steel, (or heat treated or other alloys, but manganese steel seems to be the modern choice AFAIK). In high stress applications, it is supposed to last 6 times as long.


Still, I do not see steel costs as a limiting factor, although we may see a return to lighter weights in low use/stress applications (sidings, short spurs to rail customers, light rail lines).

Current rail rolling capacity could become a bottleneck in the future, as well as tie production. Perhaps 3 to 4 years to build more rolling mills, and a couple of years for more tie production. Hard to say what import capacity will exist in the future. Switches are another issue.

Best Hopes,


"I do not see steel costs as a limiting factor"

That's was my guess also, but I wasn't sure. Your estimate below of NY subway and 1% says steel almost inconsequential in some places.

Actually it was much less than 1% (<<1%) for Second Avenue subway.

France builds new tram lines for 20 to 25 million euros/route km (extra km for barn and non-service km rolled into service figure). Steel for new trams and overhead poles as well as rail. Still, I expect about 1% of the French total goes for steel raw materials. And France is considered a reasonable model for efficient construction.

I could see a case where an existing freight rail line is double tracked and electrified where the copper & steel might be 5% or 8% of total project costs.

Best Hopes,


Also don't they use a NG based process for a lot of steels these days ?

Peak Steel may be at hand as well.


I'm not sure, but a quick search leads me to believe it is still mostly coal for the basic smelting of the ore to iron. I know of smaller forges who operate on propane or nat gas, but they are starting with pig iron or recycled metal. Electric arc furnaces are thought to be expensive energy wise, and they use scrap.

I would appreciate comments or corrections.


Thanks for your reply. My original thought was that perhaps steel rails and such didn't account for that much of a percent of a new railroad. That land or ROW, labor, earth moving, circuitry, overhead etc may dwarf the actual steel costs. Do you have further thoughts on that?

It depends.

Adding a second track back that was torn up in 1965 has no ROW costs.

Rail on ballast is the cheapest to build and almost the cheapest to maintain. Other modes use more.

Concrete is the most common tie (the USA uses about 20 million ties/month from memory). Concrete ties last much longer than wooden ties they replace and have better dimensional stability (fewer derailments).

I have some data on work gangs and mile laid/time. That varies substantially (they have some automatic tracklayers that speed the process where they can be used). 240 men = 100 miles/year is a reasonable #.

The cost of steel (and a lot of it) for the Second Avenue subway is NYC is <<1% of the total costs.

Sophisticated controls are costly but use minimal resources. They also expand capacity significantly.

Just random factoids w/o a definitive answer.

Very rarely will materials be the largest single line item and never half the project cost.

Hope that helps,


hi alan,

have u heard matt simmons talk about reviving water transport for freight--saying that it is even more fuel efficient than rail? What he was talking about was a combination of barge and rail. He gave the example of transporting goods from California to Maine via the Panama Canal.

Water to electric rail is tighter than water vs today's rail. Electric rail CA to ME would likely beat via the Panama Canal due to fewer miles traveled.

Besides the Panama Canal is at capacity today and will continue to be full until expanded circa 2014.

Best Hopes for both,


There is a direct reduction process that operates in place of a coke plant and blast furnace. Much cleaner technology, but uses natural gas instead of coal, so more expensive.

I don't think there are any DR processes in operation in the US, but I could be wrong.

There was an article few days ago about some Russian companies cutting oil export to Germany. Finally an explanation:

Russia's leading independent crude producer, said Tuesday it expected oil prices for consumers in Western and Central Europe, whose supplies have been reduced, to increase.

"Talks are ongoing with consumers in Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland on price increases," LUKoil CEO Vagit Alekperov told a news conference.

The CEO said LUKoil had been forced to redirect some Europe-bound oil supplies and reduce supplies to the four countries, due to reduced profitability.

The reduced profitability is probably related to the fact that Russian government has been increasing export tariff on oil in part to make it unprofitable for oil companies to sell oil at below market prices.

Kind of sounds like a bidding war for declining net oil export capacity. Some recent headlines follow:

Russia Cuts August Black Sea Crude Exports, Maintains Baltic
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Russian seaborne crude oil exports are set to drop off sharply in August, as Moscow plans to cut exports from Black Sea ports, while maintaining shipments from the Baltic.

Sinopec Seeks Middle East Oil as Russian Supplies Run Dry
The Moscow Times, Russia - Aug 8, 2007
Total Russian crude exports (presumably to China), including a small portion of seaborne shipment, were down 6.7 percent in the first half of 2007 versus a year ago.

Lukoil blamed for drop in Russian oil supplies to Germany
International Herald Tribune, France - Aug 24, 2007
MOSCOW: Russian oil supplies to Germany have dropped by as much as one-third in recent weeks, Russian and German officials said Friday, sharply pinching supplies at two major German refineries.

Net Oil Exports From Top 16 Net Oil Exporters:

Kashagan = Cash All Gone

Oh well, what's 3 months of world demand . ..


Sorry, I did not realize it was behind a pay wall . . maybe someone can help. Suffice it to say, Kashagan has been nicknamed "Cash All Gone" by the IOCs that have worked on it, one of the reasons as described in the article:

"There were also the challenges of the Kashagan deposit itself. It's buried about 2½ miles beneath the seabed, under pressures of roughly 500 times that of the atmosphere at sea level. Extracting the oil requires costly stress-resistant pipes, as well as powerful compressors to pump the noxious gases back below the sea. Also, the Caspian here is like a shallow wading pool that freezes over for nearly five months of the year. In winter, the wind whips up mounds of pack ice that can destroy a conventional oil rig."

I am not political, have no agenda,, and think both the Democrat and Republican parties have completly abandoned the American people in favor of money and special interests but ,,It is heartening that Obama is interested (or pretends to be interested) in those that have no voice.
Below is from a Covenant House newsletter I get.
"Recently, a group of young people from Covenant House Washington had the opportunity to meet with Senator Barack Obama and hear first hand how the presidential candidate would address issues such as poverty and education in America. It also gave them the chance to learn about his vision for fixing struggling inner cities."

There are so many young people in America that are in a great amount of pain,and worse than the pain is the fact that they have little or no hope.

Best hopes to building a wall around my heart so these things don't hurt so bad,,

Did Obama say that he would curtail the huge tax cuts to the rich to help reduce 'poverty' and improve 'educational opportunities' for the poor? Did Obama say specifically how he was going to reduce the huge income differential between rich and poor in America? If we all had a buck for every campaign promise made had subsequently been reneged upon we would all be wealthy. No matter who is elected the next president I dont believe that they will have a lot of latitude to act upon their druthers...They will be constrained by circumstances beyond the control of mere mortals. America is fast becoming a big shit sandwich and I we are all going to take a bite.

Way it goes with those sandwiches. The more bread you have the less shit you got to eat.

Ever see the series Deadwood?

I'd contend that Democrats and Republicans are like the working girls in the Bella Union and The Gem Saloon. Some are prettier, some are cleaner, but they're all for hire for whatever use you'd care to put to them behind closed doors, and none are fit to bring home to mama.

Did the Bella Union and The Gem Saloon also have the same owner?

no, but they were both ruthless, murdering sons of bitches.


The Chernobyl exclusion zone has been mythologized as a sort of wildlife garden of eden with storks, bears, birds, wolfs, pigs etc.. taking over in the absence of man. However it turns out the reports are anecdotal, there have been no formal scientific studies - until now. According to this study of birds, both the number of species and abundance of individuals declined with increasing radiation levels. For example, the most contaminated sites had about two-thirds fewer birds than those with normal levels of radiation. Chernobyl is far from a wildlife paradise, “This was a big surprise to us,” biologist Dr. Mousseau of the University of South Carolina said. “We had no idea of the impact.”

Kudos to whoever posted the pbf cartoons,
While we are going on that






Sad about whats happening in Greece :(

Notice how the guy in charge of Iraq for the UK was the same guy who was in charge of the enviroment? Shipping ministers about now that truly is rearranging the deckchairs on the titanic

Its not the size of the tank its the size of the tap
If GW puts your head in the sand, PO will F you in the A

“Wall Street, we have a problem”. “Quant” hedge funds are in complete disarray. Their mathematical models are no longer reliably predicting stock price movements and hedge fund investors are quite literally loosing their shirts as a result. There is a good reason for this development. “Quant” hedge funds use complex mathematical models which use decades of past stock movements to predict future stock movements. They have been extraordinarily successful --- up to now. What has changed? The answer is simple and very telling. All past stock movements have been driven by rising availability of oil and gas energy resources. That has now changed. According to a number of industry (Peak Oil) studies, conventional oil production peaked in 2006 and is now in permanent decline worldwide. There is now no economic or financial precedent or data for mathematical whiz kids to draw upon to adjust their computational hedge models. There is no “past” stock trading data to establish cause and affect relationships. We are all in brand new economic territory, never before experienced by man. Now investors know how it felt in Apollo 11.

An hypothesized connection which may indeed be true. But asserting it does not make it so. Care to venture into the realm of actually demonstrating the connection?

How would you feel in the space shuttle with each seperate component made by the lowest bidder!?

Its not the size of the tank its the size of the tap
If GW puts your head in the sand, PO will F you in the A

Please don't leave that as your sign off.. it's pretty annoying to see that once, let alone repeatedly.


Actually, I kind of wish everyone would ditch the sigs. It gets pretty annoying after awhile, no matter what it says.

Drupal comes with a sig option; one of the first things we did was turn it off.

If you must use a sig, please keep it short.

Did you mean Apollo 13? The one where, in the movie version, Ed Harris intones "failure is not an option', whence the capsule returned to earth?

Or the Neil Armstrong 'one small step for a man, ...'?

So, did these same hedge funds mess up during the other dozen or so times oil production declined globally? Lovely red herring 'proof' btw...

So as the economy seems like it will crater during the next few yrs what should I do with my 401k?

1. Invest in gold
2. Invest in oil
3. Invest in futures of the above.

Vote Now! Vote Often!

Oh, and if you can explain why you get bonus points.

CSP, Wind, PV, EV, AK47 :P Nuclear, CTL, VRB, NaS, Lithium, Uranium, China.

Has there been an oil drum discussion about the air car?

Its not the size of the tank its the size of the tap
If GW puts your head in the sand, PO will F you in the A

Gold and silver *you hold personally*

And make a point of checking everything you touch during the day and asking yourself "What happens to the task I perform with this object if oil is exhausted?"

Scary at first, but do it just a little while and your course will become obvious.

I don't have any use for gold or silver. I don't want gold or silver in exchange for something I can give. I want something I need. Food, clothing, wood, tools, water. Will work for food? Sure. Will work for gold? Nah. :)
~Durandal (http://www.wtdwtshtf.com/)

Nickels and pre-1982 pennies. Since copper has utility in a variety of applications and nickel has uses in an industrial society, a handful of either should still get you a meal.

Nickels are 25% nickel & 75% copper but separating them requires more than the village blacksmith has. Copper has more primitive uses.


Financially, I like oil. There is one mutual fund, PSPFX, I like, but in all honesty, it ( much to my chagrin ) has been taking nasty hits.

As for personal survival, I try to make myself useful to the community so in the event things turn nasty, I will be able to fix things.

I don't know how to farm without external support, much less try to farm and simultaneously police my crop from intelligent human intruders.

I can fix electronic stuff at the component level and I have the tools and the ability to do this sans external electrical power.

A couple hundred watts worth of PV power nicely runs all my diagnostic and repair tools. Things like laptop PC's with oscilloscope digitizers, drills, vacuum pumps, wirewrap guns, and soldering/desoldering tools.

Most of this is weird homebrew stuff and useless to anyone else. Hopefully I don't attract thieves, as they only thing unstealable is what is in my head.

Anything technical I need, I can design and construct it from components found in discarded electronics. There are enough discards available to give me parts for the rest of my life ten thousand times over. I have been in this field since the late 50's, and I have had my hands in it all.

People will have broken stuff which can be fixed, as the neighborhood tickytacky store and corporate customer support may be down in a "collapse" scenario.

I am old. If it takes me down with it, so be it.

Being I don't fight well or shoot straight, I figure making myself useful to my community, not a parasite with lots of stealable goods, would probably work in my favor.

I have worked my whole life in power, refrigeration, and electronic engineering... I feel its best to offer my skills and experience to my community in trade for my survival.


My vote is for treasuries. You may not be able to hold them in your 401 (I couldn't so I am rolling it all into an IRA, but everything outside the 401 is in T-bills). My rationale is that investments are likely to become of little value and are uninsured, so the loss is complete. With T-bills, I had figured the feds would at least pay the face value so I would end up with something, even if it was not worth much. However, after reading Stoneleigh's posts, I am starting to think the coming times may be very deflationary, so T-bills may actually be worth quite a bit. But either way, they are collapse-proof.

Gold may be worth a lot, but how do you convert it. You can't take an ounce in to buy food and ask for change.

Oil stocks seemed logical, but once the prices are bid up on speculation, even with near-record earnings, share prices can take big hits. And again, share holdings in anything are uninsured. And, often, they are held in your broker's name, not yours; how confident are you your brokerage firm will be there in 2-5 years? How large is its exposure to derivatives?

So that was my logic. I've lost a lot of upside over the last 2 years but am quite content with that because I have protected a tremendous downside (but I am also turning a lot of cash into hard goods (energy-independent house, land, woods, sawmill, sugaring equipment, draft horses, old farming equipment, etc.) to create a self-sufficient farmstead). And I am learning food production skills while developing the infrastructure on the place so hopefully, if and when it's necessary, I'll actually know how to produce and put up my own food.

[BUSINESS reliance on technology is generating almost 8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide each year, more than the emissions created by the civil aviation industry]

This seems hard to believe. According to the IPCC, civil aviation in 2002 accounted for 489.29 Tg (or about 490 x 10^12 grames) of carbon dioxide [http://www.berr.gov.uk/files/file35675.pdf]. According to internet conversion tables, 1 tonne is 10^6 grams so civil aviation accounted for about 490 million tonnes. I think this is more than 8 million. Did I mess up somewhere? If not, that seems like pretty sloppy reporting.

Turned on the PBS News Hour with Jim Lehrer tonight. One of the sponsors was Chevron. Their little sponsor-tisement started out: "Some people say that all the oil in the world will be half gone by 2020. Others say it is already half gone. . ." And it went on to say something about all of us working together to use what's left more efficiently.

Sorry I don't remember the exact words, it was all over before I could pick myself up off the floor. . .

Interesting that they said 2020 and not 2030.

Tueday's program is now online (at right page of) http://www.pbs.org/newshour/. Can't find the the Chevron bit. But wow, farmer suicide in India ... not good.

That sponsor clip has been airing for a few months now in Minneapols area.

This is not news. Either way, if you want to see the commercials, go to this page

NPR aired a doc from Purdue Univ. today called After Oil. They mention PO freely, and talk with Simmons and others about Oil and Alternatives..

It may have been covered, as I have not been online a lot this week, but here's a link to the audio files..



I laughed, I cried, the techno fix audio file of the year

Hello TODers,

Panic on Wall Street: A brief history of fear
A century before the crisis of '07, there was the Great Panic of '07. What does history tell us? Fear is fanned by uncertainty, dubious values, confounding innovations and the lack of a towering leader. Sound familiar?

...The aftermath in Washington was more of an aftershock. "Something has got to be done," announced Senator Nelson W. Aldrich. "We may not always have Pierpont Morgan with us to meet a banking crisis." Indeed, the next panic would hit in 1914, a year after Morgan's death. But by that time the U.S. had a Federal Reserve - and the foresight to close the stock exchange at the outbreak of war....
Wouldn't that would really set things akimbo if the FED closed the stock exchanges if/when we attacked Iran? Anybody got the expertise to elaborate this scenario?

Wouldn't most of us have to immediately go to a barter system if we couldn't even access our money-market funds in such outfits as Fidelity, Vanguard, Merril Lynch, etc?

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

Anyone else notice how in the lead article, the IEA confirms that global oil demand IS in fact currently being met?

Well, of course. Demand can never exceed supply, so of course demand is always met. The question is at what price?

You made one incorrect assumption: that oil stocks remained the same. Globally they have increased, so clearly demand is less than supply.

Only in the developed nations. The Third World nations that are suffering from high prices the most simply do not provide enough data to determine what their stocks are.

There are some really funky things going on in Asia right now. Doesn't seem to be getting any coverage at all, except from really expensive subscription services.

Summary? I genuinely want to know :)

I don't know, because I don't want to shell out over a thousand bucks for a Bunkerworld or PIW subscription.

But from the little teasers that show up in Google News, they are really feeling the shortage of heavier crudes and fuel oils. Prices are setting records for certain grades, and there is serious concern about actual shortages (none available at any price).