DrumBeat: September 5, 2007

Technical issues stall hydrogen vehicles

A few years ago, it looked like we would all be driving pollution-free hydrogen-powered vehicles someday very soon. The signs, after all, were everywhere.

Automakers debuted concept vehicles with fuel cells under the hood. Investors poured money into hydrogen startups. News stories abounded about the new "hydrogen economy." Even President Bush, in his 2003 State of the Union message, said babies born in 2003 should be in hydrogen cars by the time they hit driving age.

But today, four years after that prediction, big technical challenges remain in using hydrogen to power passenger vehicles on a wide scale. These range from storing it safely aboard a car to producing it from something other than the fossil fuels it is supposed to replace.

Price Gouging? Speculation? Analysts Explain Why Oil Prices are up Over 100% In Last Four Years

Every year since 2003, crude oil prices have hit new highs. Topping out in the mid-$30 range back in 2003, this year spot crude reached almost $80 a barrel during the peak U.S. summer driving season. That’s an increase of over 100% in just four years.

John Deere's renewable energy harvest

For Steve Tiedeman, a farmer in Woodstock, Minn., it hasn't been all that great of a year. The weather's been dry, and he's lost about a third of the corn on his 1,000 acre farm.

But Tiedeman, along with a growing number of farmers across the Midwest, can now rely on another, more stable crop: wind power.

Mount Stripmine?

WHILE THE nation's attention was focused on the nine lives lost in the deep coal mine of Crandall Canyon in Utah, the Bush administration has been busy pushing a form of strip mining in Appalachia that is lethal to land itself. It has proposed a rule that would explicitly allow mining companies to blast and bulldoze the tops of mountains and dump rock and dirt debris into streams and hollows. While this has been going on under existing rules and laws, critics of the dumping had fought it in courts. With the new rule, mine owners expect the legal fights to end.

Coal Rush Reverses, Power Firms Follow

The mayor of Missoula, Mont., is the latest person to discover just how unpopular coal plants have become.

In early August, Mayor John Engen (D) won city council support to buy electricity from a new coal-fired plant scheduled to begin operation in 2011. He said the city government would save money on its electric bills.

But three weeks later, Engen pulled out of the deal after receiving hundreds of e-mails and phone calls from constituents upset that Missoula would contribute to the creation of a coal plant and concerned about what the town would do if the plant never got built.

WWF says Asia-Pacific coal rush worsens global warming

Growing dependence on cheap coal to power rapid economic growth in the Asia-Pacific could undermine efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that is blamed for harmful changes in the world's climate, experts said on Tuesday.

Canada must lead by example in claiming Arctic

It's generally assumed that one-quarter of the world's undiscovered oil and gas lies waiting beneath Arctic ice and rock.

In fact, while this estimate is usually attributed to the US Geological Survey, the United States has done no systematic study of the region. The actual extent of the potential reserves will be clarified by surveys now under way.

Dams 'contributing to global warming'

The world's dams are contributing millions of tonnes of harmful greenhouse gases and spurring on global warming, according to a US environmental agency.

International Rivers Network executive director Patrick McCully told Brisbane's Riversymposium rotting vegetation and fish found in dams produced surprising amounts of methane - 25 times stronger than carbon dioxide.

Energy Market Consolidation Versus Foreign State Takeovers in Central Europe

In common with the Baltic states and Poland, which face the risk of being caught between Russian and German energy policies, Hungary is facing a similar two-front problem, albeit with country-specific differences. In Hungary’s case, Russia and Austria (with Germany in a lesser role) seem to be reaching out toward each other over Hungary, targeting parts of Hungary’s energy systems.

Richardson calls for transportation alternatives

The United States’ transportation system is “fixated on highways” and should include more emphasis on energy-efficient modes of travel with planning to ensure preservation of open spaces, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said here today.

Nuclear Bid to Rival Coal Chilled by Flaws, Delay in Finland

lawed welds for the reactor's steel liner, unusable water- coolant pipes and suspect concrete in the foundation already have pushed back the delivery date of the Olkiluoto-3 unit by at least two years.

"Substantial delays, I think you can use that word, yes," the 54-year-old Landtman says.

Japan, Australia working on bilateral nuclear energy deal

Japan and Australia plan to strengthen bilateral cooperation on the peaceful use of nuclear power, with Tokyo poised to secure a stable supply of uranium from the world's biggest uranium reserves holder, Japanese sources said Tuesday.

Canada to reprocess other nations' nuclear waste

Canada will eventually get into the business of reprocessing spent nuclear fuel, Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn said yesterday as the government considers an invitation to join a major international effort to promote nuclear technology worldwide.

Global growing problem of wheat production

With 3 billion new consumers starting to emulate Western lifestyles, it is not surprising that in six of the past seven years consumption of grains has exceeded production.

The second major driver of demand is the ongoing battle for crops between a billion car drivers and the twice as many still struggling for enough to eat.

Chicago: Nation's Largest School Bus Company Switches Entire Fleet To Bio-Fuel

The company, Cook Illinois Corporation, last year reduced nearly 1,000 tons of toxic emissions in Chicago by switching to a biodiesel fuel in many of its buses.

Marina gas seller on a hunger strike to stop high fuel prices

Shahbazi's predicament began in November 2005, when he put up a sign at his Marina Shell station that read: "Consumers' pain is Big Oil's unearned profit! To oppose it see cashier."

Inside, he handed out fliers accusing oil companies of manipulating gas prices and trying to drive franchise owners like himself out of business by selling gas for less at company-owned stations. He says that the goal of Big Oil is to control the market and raise prices ever higher.

Shell boss stumps for off-shore drilling

Shell Oil president John Hofmeister says it is possible for this country to approach energy independence but to do so it must embrace new fuel technologies and rethink existing policies preventing additional oil and gas development.

Yacht sellers see smooth sailing

Real estate prices are falling, because of tightening credit. Auto sales are slumping, as consumers feel less wealthy. Sales of small boats have suffered from high fuel prices and pinched pocketbooks.

But the boats sold to the rich are different.

Gazpain de France

The creeping advance of state corporatism continues, slipping tentacles into energy in France, stock markets in Sweden, oil reserves in Alberta and auto parts in Canada. On the great playing field of global business and finance, the rise of government-run corporations remains a small trend. But it is growing, ultimately threatening the market-based economic principles that drive modern capitalism.

Argentina: Cold Season for Investors

Fernandez' first crisis may turn out to be the exit of Shell and ExxonMobil (Esso) from Argentina. "Price controls and the government's approach to fuel supply are likely to force Shell and Esso to leave the country," UK-based risk consultancy Exclusive Analysis said last week.

Shell officials are now under threat with imprisonment and the company faces fines for what the government claims are violations of a little-used 1974 law. Shell denies any wrongdoing.

Gas Natural, Repsol Shares Hit by Algerian Production Setback

Shares of Gas Natural SDG SA (GAS.MC) and Repsol YPF SA (REP) were hit Tuesday by the Algerian government's decision to take full control of the Gassi Touil gas exploration project it had been running with the two Spanish companies.

Nicaragua and Esso: What Will Happen?

Nicaragua's government will likely reach an agreement with Esso over its confiscated terminal, experts predict.

Nigeria: 4000 Workers Protest Power Outage in Onitsha

Their protest followed the total disconnection of their light after an alleged attempt by PHCN, Onitsha Business Unit to allegedly trick them into signing an agreement to pay estimated bill of 2003 they claimed they did not incur and N5000 reconnection fee for each of the companies operating in the industrial cluster.

Growth of Automobiles and Oil Industry – A Forecast

The industry is confident there are new sources of supply, but some analysts say the world may be close to "peak oil," the moment when supply starts to dwindle. Now, there are around 500 cars for every 1,000 people in the U.S., 8 for every 1,000 in India, 15 for every 1,000 in China, and 137 for every 1,000 in Brazil. By 2050, penetration in the U.S. will have risen to 555 per 1,000; in India it will be 382, in China 363, and in Brazil 645. Probably based on the present trend China and India together have about 2.5 billion people throw in the rest and that adds up to a lot of greenhouse gas. Surprisingly, all these forecast terrified us, if not the present generation, but for the future generations.

Pipe dream of infinite fuel is a costly myth

The logic of peak oil is simple. Oil is a finite resource: the quicker you consume it, the faster it depletes. Production must peak before diminishing towards zero, no matter how high the price or how fancy the technology becomes.

Burmese Vessel Suspected of Smuggling Diesel Fuel from Malaysia

Eleven Burmese nationals were arrested by Malaysian authorities on Tuesday in Butterworth after anti-smuggling officers inspected a vessel they said was loading subsidized diesel fuel to be taken to Burma, where fuel prices have skyrocketed in recent weeks.

Mexico's Pemex, Statoil renew cooperation agreement

Pemex lacks the experience and technology needed to develop oil and natural gas reserves in deep waters in the Gulf of Mexico, and the country's constitution bars it from forming joint-venture agreements with outside companies to develop these reserves.

Mexico Violence May Get Worse

Despite EPR claiming credit for the gas pipeline and Sears store, there are suspicions the drug cartels were involved. "Such tactics would mirror those of the Colombian drug cartels in the 1980s," Exclusive Analysis says. "Security forces, police stations, the oil and gas industry and foreign banks are now at heightened risk from both the guerrilla groups and cartels."

Another Domino Falls as US Electric Power Deregulation Roll Back Continues

When California passed its long awaited electricity deregulation law in 1996, it was supposed to signal the start of a revolution.

Proponents had argued for years that breaking up utility monopolies would trigger an explosion in generating capacity.

That, in turn, would create cheap power, spurring economic growth and prosperity. Utilities and their investors were to be the big losers, and a new generation of feisty upstarts was to take their place.

Global Warning: The Last Chance for Change, by Paul Brown

Brown reveals the truth behind the political rhetoric, China and peak oil. He addresses how energy security and supply will alter the economic outlook of the world. He clarifies that new technologies to replace fossil fuels is the greatest business opportunity of the 21st century, creating massive local/global opportunities for jobs in sunrise industries.

Energy poverty and political vision

Around 2.64 billion people, 40% of the world’s population, lack modern fuels for cooking and heating. 1.6 billion have no access to electricity, three-quarters of them living in rural areas. As decision-makers in Europe and north America wonder how to reduce energy consumption, massive regions of the developing world remain literally in the dark. Populations in the energy-poverty trap - covering vast areas of south Asia and sub-Saharan Africa - are nowhere likely to influence the accountability of the energy policies of their governments.

What's the Real Story Behind the Power Outages in Southern California?

I pay my bills every month, I'm not an energy glutton, and I don't live in Baghdad. I live in Los Angeles, the second largest city in the country, and while the TV weatherschmucks loves to talk about the "record heat," the truth is that triple-digit temperatures in southern California happen every single year and no matter how many breathless adjectives they come up with, nothing has changed since the invention of air conditioning. So why are 57,000 people without power today? New York City is hotter than us and they have power. How about Miami? Atlanta? Birmingham? I've been in Vegas in 120 degree weather and those casinos were lit up like...er, a slot machine. So what the hell is wrong with California? And why is nobody reporting it?

Higher oil company taxes hurt consumers

At a time when almost every presidential candidate is talking about "energy independence," it seems strange that Congress is moving in the opposite direction with the energy bill being considered by the Senate.

Raymond J. Learsy - Our Energy Crisis: America's Town Meetings Act While Washington Fiddles

While Washington fiddles, towns across Connecticut are staring to act. Spurred on, first and foremost by the realization that something must be done in their own interest and that of the nation. That if they don't act by deed and example, nothing of significance on this core issue will come to pass. With an encouraging State government, and with the help of national non profit organizations such as SmartPower, a town like Sharon Connecticut is aiming to source 20% of its municipal power needs from alternative means (wind, sun and water) by 2010.

N. Bay Researchers Hope To Turn Algae Into Fuel (video)

Bright green globs of ordinary algae may someday help solve America's energy crisis, even if they are grown atop stinky treated sewage water.

India: Efficient firewood stoves to be on show

Even though the shortage of firewood and its spiralling price are some of the problems affecting the conventional energy sector, when compared to fast depleting petroleum-based fuels such as kerosene or LPG, firewood is still one of the dependable sources of cooking fuel.

But ordinary firewood stoves are not energy-efficient and a lot of firewood goes waste.

Qatar LPG production to touch 14mtpa

Referring to future projects, Al Attiyah said that several key projects are under advanced stages of development which will further boost Qatar's energy and petroleum product exports.

He said that RasGas and Qatargas both have significant expansion projects under way that will bring LNG exports to 77 million tonnes per year.

A Kinder, Gentler Smokestack

Critics say a power plant designed to reduce carbon emissions could be a cancer-causing boondoggle.

Bank-Led Satellite Imagery Sheds More Light on Gas Flaring Pollution

From more than 400 miles in space, the World Bank is pinpointing the true extent of one of the planet’s major environmental problems - gas flaring.

Meeting the Challenge: Matt Simmons Calls for Hard Look at ‘Conservation Production’ - (Part 1 of 6)

There’s been a lot of talk recently about whether the slowing U.S. economy will have a hard or soft landing. Matthew Simmons, the noted investment banker who has gained a global reputation on the basis of his clarion call that global oil production is showing signs that a steep decline is just around the corner, doesn’t think a soft energy landing is possible.

But he does hold out hope for a bumpy landing.

Pump price highest in month: government

U.S. retail gasoline prices jumped almost a nickel over the last week to the highest level in a month as tight motor fuel supplies threatened to send pump costs higher, the government said on Tuesday.

Libya, Other OPEC States Adding Oil to Market

Libya's top oil official said Tuesday that some OPEC countries, including Libya, have been pumping more oil compared with recent past months as customers ask for additional supplies.

"We in Libya have increased our production because some customers have asked for more oil. And I know some other OPEC countries are doing this as well," Shokri Ghanem, head of Libya's state-run National Oil Co. told Dow Jones Newswires by telephone from Tripoli.

Saudi hikes October crude prices

Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia has raised October official selling prices (OSPs) for its crude for Asian buyers and its lightest grades to Europe, but mostly lowered prices to the US.

State-owned Saudi Aramco set its flagship Arab Light crude to Asian buyers at its highest premium in more than four years, with the price hike for lighter grades beating expectations and likely to support demand for rival crudes traded on the spot market.

High Costs, Taxes Hitting UK Oil, Gas Developments - Execs

High costs and taxes could prevent development of some of the U.K.'s remaining oil and gas resources, even in areas where significant new discoveries are still being made, senior oil industry executives said Tuesday.

"We are heading in a direction that will see sub-optimal development of gas our country desperately needs," said Frank Chapman, Chief Executive of U.K.-based BG Group PLC (BRG) at an industry conference in Aberdeen, Scotland.

Iran: An oil industry that lost its head

Iran's key oil industry could plunge into crisis, oil experts have warned, if President Mahmud Ahmadinejad does not urgently appoint a replacement for Seyed Kazem Vaziri Hamaneh, who was sacked as oil minister two weeks ago in a major cabinet reshuffle.

Shakeup in Nigerian Oil Sector Not a Simple Matter

Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua's plans to break up the state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. and restructure the state energy sector has prompted largely positive reactions, but it's also left analysts with more questions than answers.

"This is a serious proposal, to allow it (NNPC) to become a serious player along the Saudi Arabia Oil Company model, but my only critique is that there is no policy platform with details and analysis," said Sebastian Spio-Garbrah, Africa and Middle East analyst at Eurasia Group.

Iraqi crude oil flowing through Turkey

Iraq's oil minister said Tuesday that crude oil began to flow from his country's northern oil-rich Kirkuk to a Turkish export terminal last week — for the first time since Saddam Hussein was toppled in 2003.

"We're pumping between 300,000 to 400,000 barrels a day of Kirkuk crude to the Turkish export terminal of Ceyhan," Hussain al-Shahristani told Dow Jones Newswires in a telephone interview from Baghdad.

DNV Sees Need for Industry Arctic Pipeline Standards

As oil and gas operations move into the Arctic, a number of new challenges are arising due to ice interaction with surface and subsea offshore installations. In relation to pipelines, existing design approaches may be too expensive, technologically limited or uncertain to acceptably manage the increased risk to safety and the environment. DNV is therefore inviting the industry to a Joint Industry Project, which will establish a common practice to address these challenges.

Analysis: Iraq oil law (still) coming soon

The question is simple on the third and final day of a major Iraqi energy conference where hundreds of hungry oil men and women broke bread with Iraq’s industry chiefs, politicians and technocrats: When will Baghdad set the ground rules for the international oil community’s long-awaited venture into the largest oil prize on Earth?

U.S. oil engineers in short supply

Bustling oilfield activity and retiring baby boomers, among other factors, have petroleum outfits large and small trying to hire thousands of engineers, and experts say the trend is expected to extend into the next decade as worldwide energy demand grows.

Car makers focus on fuel efficiency at autoshow

Car makers will show off their latest efforts to fight pollution at Frankfurt's autoshow next week by unveiling models with improvements rather than substitutes to the standard internal combustion engine.

Under pressure to reduce harmful emissions produced by their vehicles amid fears of global warming, they are keen to show the greenest of intentions with the latest line of engines that consume fuel more efficiently.

BNP: Britain on course for fusion future

Britain could take the lead, yet again, in a revolutionary technological development which could transform the way the world’s economies are powered.

Half-price Big Mac to fight global warming proves big hit in Japan

A Japanese government website crashed Wednesday as people raced to take up an offer of a half-price McDonald's hamburger in exchange for pledging to fight global warming.

Kyoto rebels pledge to work with UN on climate change

The United States and Australia, the only two countries to have refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, pledged Wednesday to work within the UN system on a post-Kyoto treaty on climate change.

Faster Climate Change Means Bigger Problems

The debate about what constitutes “dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate” has almost exclusively focused on how much the temperature can be allowed to increase. But we have perhaps just as much reason to be concerned about how quickly these changes take place.

New Nuke held up by Financing, not Opposition

"This is among the most subsidized industries in the nation," said Ryan Alexander, president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, a budget watchdog group. "They're looking to get as much as they can in this political climate."

"Without the federal loan guarantees, this whole thing will come to a stop," George Vanderheyden, a Constellation executive, said


Nuclear power will take massive gov't support to build out. Given the decade long time to completion, is this the best use of limited gov't support ?

IMHO, yes, at a fast (but slow to supporters) rate of growth that the moribund restart of the industry can safely support. However, nuke should NOT be "first in line".

This should be, IMO, first in line with nukes about #8 in line.



Hi Alan,

The Province of Ontario will reportedly spend $27 billion dollars to refurbish its nuclear reactors and to add additional nuclear capacity -- and given Ontario's last nuclear facility, Darlington, went SIX times over budget, you might want to take that number and double or triple it. It seems "old school" thinking is alive and well up north.

Source: http://www.thestar.com/article/251289

For more related coverage see:

On a more positive note, Tyler Hamilton's most recent column (http://www.thestar.com/article/252551) discusses a new technology that has the potential to dramatically reduce peak power demand.

Let's hope for more fresh ideas.


If refitting the trains to electric and the nuclear build up were to have occurred at the same time, the train would be done many many years before the power plant produced even a single watt of power.

Thus the two can be conducted in parallel.

(even using a 5-10 year time line for nuclear plant construction and a probable 5 year time line for new rail, the savings which the rail enjoys can finance the new nuclear plants)

Gilgamesh, 'refitting trains and nuclear build up' merely mean adding more fuel to the fire as long as the population keeps increasing.


Hi Crystal,

Time to put in a word for an approach:

"Seeking a stable future: perspectives on population policy. The legal approach: women's rights as human rights." by RN Pine.


A loan guarantee is not a subsidy. It serves more like a guarantee for the financiers that the government will not change its policy the next time somebody different takes the office - easily scrapping a multi-billion investments with a twist of the pen.

Personally I don't know even a single case when the government had to actually kick in and repay the loan for a nuclear plant. The companies that build them are usually stable companies and I don't know a case of any of them going out of business because of nuclear cost overruns. Of course there might be cases I'm not aware of but feel welcome to correct me...

A loan guarantee *IS* a subsidy !

It takes a sub-prime risk (a VERY bad risk BTW, see dozens of started but never finished nukes !) and with a promise of gov't $, makes it prime.

Personally I don't know even a single case when the government had to actually kick in and repay the loan for a nuclear plant

TVA is an arm of the government and they have paid the bonds for long delayed and never finished nuclear power plants ($6 billion of 1980s $ for Bellafonte (which, after 32 years, had it's construction permit canceled), Browns Ferry 1, Watts Bar I & II (those 30 year bonds are almost paid off), Yellow Creek I & II, Hartsville I, II, III & IV, Phipps Bend I & II.

That is eleven nuclear reactors and two of them have produced minimal amounts of power since they started construction in 1974 and 1979. The rest are like WHOOPS I, III, IV & V, writeoffs !

The gov't has not guaranteed commercially owned reactors before, so they were not stuck with River Bend #2, Ft. St. Vrain, Zimmer, et al.

The risk is *NOT* a "political" risk, the risk is the nuclear power building industry having massive cost over-runs and lengthy delays. My guess is that less than half of US nuclear reactors were within 25% of budget and within 1 year of scheduled completion.

I am willing to give this non-economic technology subsidies, but they are not my first priority for subsidies.

New nuclear reactors are simply NOT commercial today in the USA, and the fault lies with the industry building them and the technology. See the quote from the Constellation exec at top.

I have not followed Finland closely, but I understand that they are running into delays and cost overruns already, whilst they are still less than half complete.


Part of the problem is our absolutely mindless, knee-jerk adherence to hypercapitalist ideology. Had we settled on a national standardized set of siting, design & construction specifications, all of these facilities could have been built and put online on a reasonably fast track. That's how the French did it. But we are SO superior to those "cheese eating surrender monkeys", right? That's why they're only producing something like 70% of their power from operating nukes, while we've got all of these unbuilt and unpaid for ground disturbances as symbols of our mighty national technical prowess.

That's how the French did it.

Yea, so much faith that plants were cited along the German border


No anti-German siting issues that I can see. Two plants, 6 reactors, next to Germany. Germany placed two experimental reactors next to France, and one two reactor plant. The Rhine River is a good source of cooling water.

The next reactor will be built at Flamanville.


You are right that the risk is high based on past experience. This does not change that there were no taxpayer money ever payed for that. True TVA probably covered the costs in their rates, but this is different - a bad management decision in bad time could result in losses. BTW TVA has a history of that not only in the nuclear sector, check out the Tellco Dam.

It is true that loan guarantees saves money to utilities by saving them the risk premium. But as far as it does not increase my tax bill I don't consider it a subsidy. Actually I consider it a positive and necessary step to help kick start a dormant or developing industry - including wind which is also provided loan guarantees. Which reminds me that loan guarantees are provided for renewable power projects. Why are the double standards?

Take a look here:

Within DOE's FY'08 budget request to guarantee up to $9 billion in loans, DOE has proposed to guarantee $4 billion in loans for central power generation facilities such as nuclear facilities or carbon sequestration optimized coal power plants; $4 billion in loans for projects that promote biofuels and clean transportation fuels; and $1 billion in loans for projects using new technologies for electric transmission facilities or renewable power generation systems.


IMO what is outragious here is the 4bln.for biofuels but nobody is ranting about those.

The ratio of nuclear + clean coal vs renewables is 4 : 1. Compare that to the ration of energy produced by the two, which is something like 50 : 1.

"IMO what is outragious here is the 4bln.for biofuels but nobody is ranting about those."

Nobody is ranting about bio-fuels? Do you read anything not related to nuclear on this forum?

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

Nobody is ranting specifically about the loan guarantees for biofuels. At least I haven't seen it, but I may be missing something.

Please don't misinterpret me.

I am NOT against loan guaranties for nukes, but I expect those guaranties to cost tax payers quite a few billion $ in the end for economically failed nukes (half of them ? fourth of them ?). And I do NOT want to see ethanol loans.

I did NOT see any loan guaranties for wind turbines (they do not need them and would provide very little benefit since WTs are so low risk), but sauce for the goose ...

Many other worthwhile programs (some more worthwhile than new nukes) could also benefit from federal loan guaranties.


Wind energy is present in the 2006 DOE loan guarantee program.

But I could not find any numbers of how much is applied for and how much is granted. Anyway it is pointless to continue arguing this since we largely agree.

TVA issues state income tax free bonds, so no state taxes are paid on the interest on $28.3 billion; much of which is a residue from the failed nuclear program.

Municipal electric utilities, rural electric cooperatives, the four PMAs, and the TVA are exempt from Federal income tax; this type of support is addressed, but only indirectly
from a GAO report.

So taxpayers have paid a heavy price for the failure of the TVA nuclear program. Figure lost taxes on the interest of $6 billion over the 30 year payout of those bonds just for Bellafonte.


Figure lost taxes on the interest of mortgage payments. Think we should be talking trillions. With "tr".

I think you are nitpicking here. This was money that was left to taxpayers, so effectively nobody "lost" them but the government coffers. TVA still payed it's bills it's just the govt that decided to yield part of them to taxpayers - which I can only applaud in principle.

Now after dicounting for 30 years etc. we should be talking maybe around hundred million... Hardly a lump change but obviously nothing of significance. The gov machine lost the chance to waste one more $100mln. in Iraq for a single day... I'm shocked, so shocked.

TVA decided to build those 23 nuclear plants based on the demand history it had at the time. Electricity use in its service area had grown steadily ever since TVA's inception and the board considered that this would continue just as many now assume that oil demand will continue to increase at the same rate in the future as it has for the past twenty or so years. They just didn't forecast the dislocations in the economy that happened due to oil peaking in the US and the oil embargo. The biggest factor in the cancellation of those plants was the sudden leveling off of electricity demand that occured then. True there were cost overruns and construction problems, but even without those TVA would have been in trouble because the demand for that much power just didn't materialize as expected.
TVA financed the debt incurred by this fiasco in the rates but also by issuing bonds. No 'taxpayer' bailout occured.
The Tellico dam is another matter since I grew up about ten miles from Fort Loudon and it is still a bitter topic in my home area. But to say that TVA is subject to lots of pressure from political entities is an understatement. One needs to look at TN politics, not TVA management, to determine how the Tellico Dam came to be.

I think this answer should be directed to Alan. He uses the failure of TVA plans as an argument that nuclear power is a risky investment and dismisses all political factors into play.

In fact both are equaly important factors that could fail any kind of investment, not only nuclear. You have to have both preconditions, only one will not work. With oil and NG obviously near peak and coal on the GHG crosshair I think the economics of nuclear power are covered. What is left is the political will to go for it and loan guarantees are... well guaranteeing for it.

IMO if we add to this electric rail, plug-in hybrids and some wind we will have PO and GW solved by the middle of the century. So... why is all this fuss about? :)


If it saves the financeir's money by keeping them from having to buy private insurance, it's a subsidy. And if its too risky to be affordable by the financeir because an insurance company won't take the risk for a reasonable amount, why should I do it? Insurance actuaries are a pretty saavy bunch with an excellent understanding of risks.
I am not opposed to nuclear power, I am opposed to dishonesty about it. It's the equivalent of free mortgage insurance. It would, I'm sure, reduce the cost of everyone's mortgage. But since it has risk,it has cost .
The real purpose is to manipulate future congresses by saying "you're going to pay for it any way" and that's B.S.

Bob Ebersole

Well, economically it functions like a subsidy, but it's unavoidable in the face of political risk. Political risk can't be quantified, can't be assigned a probability, can't be assigned a cost, can't be handled in any any manner known to actuaries. At best, the appropriate premium is a totally arbitrary random number. So no private company is likely to touch big political risk, or even capable of doing so.

Now, one way to manage - but not eliminate - political risk is to have stable, limited government. That may even be what the writers of the US Constitution had in mind, but it goes against the current politically-correct ideal of switching everything 180 degrees every time some corrupt politico or ivory-tower academic tells some tear-jerker of a tall tale to The Great Shiftless Moron Mass. Even wind power, which ought to be a no-brainer, has a tough time under that regime, never mind something complex and difficult like nuclear.

Up thread I'm arguing that if it saves money but does not cost taxpayer anything out of the pocket it should not be called subsidy. I'd rather call it good policy if it aims increasing the common good, which I think it does.

And PaulS is right - the biggest element remains the political risk. The financiers need to know that the government is commited to keep the regulatory framework intact, otherwise they will most likely refuse the loan. Best case the financing will be ridiculously expensive.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is considering issuance of a letter terminating Construction Permit No. CPPR-122 for Bellefonte Nuclear Plant, Unit 1, and CPPR-123 for BLN, Unit 2, issued to the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA, permittee). This action is in accordance with the permittee's request in a letter dated April 6, 2006...

At the time that construction of the units was deferred, TVA considered Unit 1 [of Bellefonte] to be 88 percent complete and Unit 2 to be 58 percent complete...


The TVA Chairman at that time (when Bellefonte construction was halted) later stated that economic factors were the reason.

You are both simply wrong. The primary risk of building nuclear power plants is NOT "political" but economic. Massive cost over-runs and multi-years delays in construction are the major risk. "Politics" did not result in shutting down an 88% complete nuke !

The Shoreham Nuclear Plant on Long Island NY is the only plant where politics can be said to have resulted in a half built nuke (technically, the utility could not evacuate Long Island in time was the reason).

With Rancho Seco and another nuke, the owners became disgusted with the very poor operating performance and massive repair bills and voted to close it.

I found a list of every announced nuke in the US and we could have had almost twice as many MW operating today were it not for massive screw-ups BY THE INDUSTRY !

Best Hopes for Avoiding Scapegoats,


Alan, Bellefonte was cancelled under the pressure of NRC right after Chernobyl and when oil was trading ~$10 and interest rates were high. Using it to prove anything is simply meaningless. Wind or solar projects at this time would have been laughed at.

In theory such risks exist today too, but sustained $70/oil are bringing them virtually to nil. If I were you I would pray that similar economic risks no longer are real; if the economy goes down again, wind and solar will be the first to follow, and the cheapest energy source - coal becomes the king.

In summary - your point might have had some validity in the 80s, but now the biggest problem is most definately unfavorable public opinion and the related govt policy. Like someone else pointed out - a single judge and a single small group of people can delay a project indefinately. In the same time interest rates would be piling up - we have a bunch of examples showing how you can ruin everything like that. Even a gold mine would be ruined.

Checkout Nuntucket Sound and the fuss around Cape Cod. That should ring some bells...

Ok, "you" have spent $6 billion (over $10 billion today $) towards building two plants; one 88% complete and the other 58% complete. Massive cost overruns and delays, but you "are getting there".

Some gov't bureaucracy says "You know, we would like for you to abandon these plants". So you say, OK ??

This makes no sense (especially for Bellefonte I, a number of nukes were abandoned half completed so scrapping Bellefonte II would not be so abnormal, but 88% complete ?) UNLESS Bellefonte was another Zimmer (abandoned when 99% complete because it was not built to nuke standards). Better to abandon at 88% than at 99% due to quality problems.

I noted that Watts Bar II (60% complete) will be completed by TVA ~2012 after a two decade halt, but Bellefonte I (88% complete) will be formally scrapped (BUT the non-safety related components like the turbines and cooling towers will be preserved for a future nuke). This supports the POV that Bellefonte was poorly built and would not have gotten an operating license. I do not know the specifics.

The formal letter to abandon Bellefonte was made by TVA in 2006, during the pro-nuke Bush Administration. Again, not a sign of political pressure.

You have this myth that "political" pressure killed nukes. Cost over-runs and lengthy delays and quality problems killed the industry. The TVA Chairman at the time has confirmed this.

Had all announced nukes been built, and none decommissioned early (Rancho Seco, Zion I & II, Trojan, Ft. St. Vrain, etc.), we would be producing close to 40% of our power from nuclear power today, not 20%. That is an amazing, and very sad failure.

If we make a Rush to Nuke, might not the same thing happen again ? All the chips on nukes as "the answer" seems quite risky to me.

I am willing to put a few chips on nukes for diversity, but my hopes for the future are certainly not centered on a Rush to Nuke.


The Cape Wind Project has wasted several million on preliminary engineering and applications, but nothing physical has been built. Very little comparison since that is 100% political and the amount wasted is 1/1000th as much as at Bellefonte.

All the chips on nukes as "the answer" seems quite risky to me.

But that's a strawman in the current context, as levin is specifically saying we need both nuclear and rail and other projects.

I think it has been a common failure of various groups advocating change that they argue down other groups proposals in the interest of getting their pet project to the front of the line. You may believe that a rail project should have #1 priority, and wind #2 and nukes #8 (or whatever), but the fact is, any of them getting any priority at all would be an improvement, and we ought to be cheering all three on, not bashing them for past difficulties.

If our next attempt at nuclear is 50% effective, that's infinitely more effective than war in Iraq and Iran, which really is the other option. It's also more effective than ethanol.

But that's a strawman in the current context, as levin is specifically saying we need both nuclear and rail and other projects

I do not think that it is a strawman. There has been a multi-week debate between LevinK and I over the speed of a nuclear plant build-out; specifically the speed with which our moribund nuke building industry can ramp up safely and economically. There has been some "coming together" of our positions over time.

We cannot do "crash everything" IMHO, Earlier I listed the various grades of urgency for different mitigation strategies.

Crash (WW II effort to build munition plants as an example) - Electrify and expand a few key intercity freight RRs, make transportation bicycling easier (If someone bombs Iran, we will need these badly & quickly).

Maximum Commercial Urgency (Canadian Tar Sands are an example) - Urban Rail, Rest of Intercity RRs with regional pax service, Wind Turbines, Neighborhood electric vehicles

Urgent (post WW II changeover to civilian production, dot.com frenzy)- PHEVs, HV DC transmission lines, Pumped Storage, EVs, geothermal power production, solar hot water heaters

Secondary Urgency (Peak Interstate Highway building boom as an example) - New Nukes, sidewalks, ground loop (geothermal) heat pumps, solar power production

All good, all worth doing ! But, as I said earlier, we cannot "crash everything" IMHO.

Saying something is "better than the Iraq War" is true of 99.8% of reality. An in-grown toenail combined with a root canal is better than the Iraq War :-P

Geaux Saints !


Some gov't bureaucracy says "You know, we would like for you to abandon these plants". So you say, OK ??

You can decide to do it if it turns out that your expectations did not materialize and the demand for these nukes was simply not there. See post from TNGranny. Govt pressure was simply the last straw.

I'll make a similar scenario for wind. You decide to build a 1000MWt offshore wind farm at the cost of $2-3bln. Then in the middle of the building process the economy goes belly up and NG prices go to $1/MMBTU. At the same time the govt decides to withdraw its support for wind (because it kills birds or whatever) and drops the 1.8c subsidy. Your project obviously has no future - what do you do? Accept the smaller loss or finish it and make your bad situation disastrous?

In the case of TVA I would suggest that if they finished it they would be at smaller loss (the nukes were almost done), but they decided that keeping their positions in front of NRC was worthed taking the sour pill. TVA is a big company and they could swallow it.

You are spinning a tale with minimal basis in fact. And not supported by later statements (made a decade later) by the then TVA chairman when he had left TVA and had no "axe to grind" AFAIK. The former TVA chairman said that TVA halted nuke construction for purely economic reasons.

TVA halted construction of a 58% & 88% finished Bellefonte I & II nuke plants, but they kept their construction permits open till early last year (over 20 years of dust).

A few months ago, TVA announced plans ($2.5 billion, 5 years) to finish Watts Bar II (60% complete). This shortly after rebuilding the fire damaged Browns Ferry I after a 24 year shutdown (no doubt transferring many of the people between those two projects).

If they had not sent a letter to the NRC a year before, they could have chosen to finish the 88% complete Bellefonte I instead of the 60% complete Watts Bar II (on paper, the logical choice was Bellefonte I first (88% complete), Bellefonte II second (58% complete, but more efficient to build side by side) and then Watts Bar II (60% complete).

Today's NRC is very pro-new nuke. So there was likely zero pressure to abandon Bellefonte as TVA did in 2006.

TVA expressly requested to preserve the containment dome and all non-safety related functions at the site (cooling towers, water intake & discharge, turbines, switchyard, administration buildings, etc.) Other internet quotes indicate that they plan to scrap the existing reactor and controls and build two AP-1000s on the site and use all the leftover non-safety items (plus the containment dome).

My hypothesis is that Bellefonte was another Zimmer. Quality controls were so poor in that earlier "Rush to Nuke" that the NRC would have denied them an operating license had they finished construction. My hypothesis does fit the observed facts.


And your point regarding this mess of is exactly what?

The former TVA chairman said that TVA halted nuke construction for purely economic reasons.

Did you expect him to say that he was playing political games with the NRC? Give me a break. I agree that maybe economics was leading at that time, but you don't need to play naive with the no-political-interference point.

Today's NRC is very pro-new nuke. So there was likely zero pressure to abandon Bellefonte as TVA did in 2006

I have extensive observations of how such large beurocratic structures like TVA work. They basically don't care much about poor investments and how much resources are wasted. Economic considerations are always second to political considerations. What usually happens is that after a new manager takes the place of an old one, the new one is eager to start things all over in order to prove his policy brings to better results. Large corporations simply don't think and act like small resource constrained companies - they simply don't care. They have huge resources on their disposal and their mismanagement is a rule - not an exception.

If your point is to show that TVA has made poor management decisions I'll join you. If your point is that it is likely that it does it again - I'll join you again. But do you have any alternative suggestions to address the inefficiencies of large corps? Oh, maybe you think if they did wind it would have been different... how sweet.

What does one do with a half finished wind farm ?

One generates electricity with it ! :-)

Just half as much as planned.

Standard procedure (I was told) is to get the the transmission in first or very early for new wind farms. So as each individual wind turbine is erected, it starts generating $.

This is one of the inherent advantages of a Rush to Wind. Short lead times and incremental production during construction.


Had all announced nukes been built, and none decommissioned early (Rancho Seco, Zion I & II, Trojan, Ft. St. Vrain, etc.), we would be producing close to 40% of our power from nuclear power today, not 20%. That is an amazing, and very sad failure.

It were perhaps one of the largest failures ever?

You were on the road to handle your peak in oil production, significantly lowering your mercury poisoning and make solving the climate change problem significatly easier to solve before it were known and started to go runaway.

It it might have been your cultural leadership that took down several other countries nuclear industries as your reasonable economical and PR reaction to the US failure spread as the leaders ideas use to do.

Fay-lure, to loose the fishing net whose fish your families life depend on if I rember right.

I know this link was cited here yesterday.


Dear Mr Kunstler,
As someone who works in the UK oil industry, I thought you might be interested in a view of how prepared the UK is for possible (!) future oil shortages...

It's the oil-insider's letter to Kunstler and it spells out the significant refinery divestments of BP and Shell.

I was wondering if Euan had any thoughts on that letter or the points it made.


that about sums it up.

Two songs come to mind:

Goodbye-ee, Goodbye-ee, wipe your tear baby dear Goodbye-ee


The bells of hell go ring a ling a ling for you but not for me / and the little devils sing a ling a ling for you and not for me.

Yes... but what I was wondering was when did the Goodbye start?

Was it late in the game when depletion was obvious or (muttering sinisterly) closer to 1999-2000?

Will, UKCS Peaked in 1999, but was not seen as that, indeed some still fail to recognise the event. Each and Every year since then, The RBS annual report goes along these lines:

''Oooer! Production has dropped by 5/6/7/8/9/10 %

Despite more money being pumped in.

Despite Buzzard coming on stream

Must be production falls due to maintenance''.

There is a general failure to recognise Hubbertian depletion at many official levels throughout Britain. It is now 2007 and the sky has not yet fallen in, it will come to pass when we have to compete with other nations for oil from a shrinking economic base*. AFAIK: Hubbert does not figure in any Undergraduate Geology courses.

(*About the time of the Olymic Games (IMO). Probably set to be the most dismal ever...)

Mudlogger, on your suggestion that Hubbert doesn't figure in any undergraduate Geology courses, I understand why you might think that. But as one who is currently taking just such a course, I have good news. The textbook we have been assigned is very good on resource depletion, and has a section on PO that is really powerful. Now, I don't yet know whether the instructor will actually assign that chapter, but at least the information is right there. (Incidentally, kudos to TOD for getting me back to the books 19 years after I last graduated -- my interest in Geology was sparked by what I've been reading here.)

Which textbook is it? Who wrote it?

Which text book?!!!!


thanks in advance

The book is "Physical Geology, Eleventh Edition", by Plummer, Carlson and McGeary.

I'm at work right now and don't have the book at hand, but Amazon.com coems to the rescue with more details:

Publisher: McGraw-Hill Science/Engineering/Math; 11 edition (August 22, 2006)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0073301787
ISBN-13: 978-0073301785
Product Dimensions: 11 x 8.8 x 1.1 inches
Shipping Weight: 3.8 pounds

It's a great text book and I recommend it even as a general read: it's full of clear explanations of the main points and interesting tid-bits on the side. I've just checked the publisher's website -- apparently a 12th edition comes out next year.

apparently a 12th edition comes out next year.

--u can count on it :)

And the best part of the letter is... :

"With much of the thinking inside the UK oil industry often delusional, outside of it we're pretty much in La-La land.

Both the government and the media are obsessed with global warming..."

It is funny how the governments, the media and the professional narcissists like Gore and other celebrities just LOVE to distract Homo Sap with their half-baked climate change hypotheses.

Meanwhile, the Saps are running lower and lower on energy ...

It could be worse, they could be obsessed with terrorism...

Not that terrorists aren't a real, ongoing problem, I just can't place them in the top three threats to civilization.

I make the top three Population, Peak Oil, and Global Climate Change, each of which has the potential in our lifetimes to create misery a beyond the wildest dreams of the terrorists. I have a hard time sorting out which of the three is the "greatest risk', since the three are so inter-twingled.

In my book it's better for the media to be obsessed with any one of the big three, than it is for them to be obsessed with the antics of a senator in an Minneapolis restroom.

I think Ma Nature will use Peak Oil/Energy to take care of our population problems. And that will be the quickest route to limit our effect on climate. Homo Sap is just not capable of fixing any of your major three concerns. We are just stupid animals with an ego.

I do agree with you about the media - all forms of it now are little more than advertisements and entertainment.

Climate change is the only problem they can address while still talking up the BAU angle. Taxes, credits, technology, investment, all ways of running the current system.

But a discussion of population and oil depletion? Together they mean that future growth is not possible, and Business As Usual would die a brutal death.

Care to guess what was on the minds of the Romans just before the Empire collapsed? Entertainment and sex. Aka, Gladiatorial combat, and orgies.

Anybody care to guess what is on the minds of the "modern world" today?

Ever wonder why? Because that's what politicians must provide to the masses to get and retain power. True of every politician that ever lived, regardless of whether they run a monarchy, a republic, or anything in between. For a current example pay attention to what's coming out of the mouths of the current crop of presidential wanna-be's in the US, or what's going on in Chavez-Land or any other country.

Welcome to the Circus Maximus. Beer me!

Yes, but the romans had more fun because they got to participate. All we get is Fedor and Lindsay on the tube.


Not quite. I very much doubt that the peasants that made up ninety percent plus of the Empire ever got much in the way of orgies. Same, even, for most of the people in Rome itself, the plebs urbana.

Orgies were for the wealthy - like they still are.

Speaking of UK obsession with global warming - today on the radio George Monbiot was plugging his new book on GW.

In one hour of talking, neither he nor the host hinted that there might be limits to fossil fuel, except to say that North America is low on natural gas.

George even explained, at one point, how CO2 sequestration buys us 1,000 or maybe 1,000,000 years to reduce emissions!

The host seemed to think that 1,000 years wasn't very long, and was relieved to hear that we could sequester CO2 from coal & natural gas for 1,000,000 years.

Geez, what planet do these people live on? Does anyone believe that fossil fuels will last for 1,000,000 years? It was scary to see this sort of nonsense on "free speech radio" from someone of Monbiot's stature.

thx Will, for reposting.
The letter was very timely and alarming
- but when I put on my black WPGs ( western- politician- glasses) … the text blurred away and everything felt all fine

Matt Simmon's concept of "Production Conservation" is going to make it difficult to reliably estimate peak. If producing nations follow this model it will have the effect of bringing peak forward in time and also increase the effects associated with the Export Land model.

New Account, if and when producing nations decide to cut back on production, as Simmons suggest, it will be an indication that the peak has already arrived. Anyway Simmons has stated several times that he believes the peak has already been passed.

Many of us, including myself, has stated many times that once it is realized that the peak is here, that knowledge will cause many producing nations to cut back on their oil production, saving it for themselves. Simmons is only recommending what producing nations will do anyway, with or without his recommendation. Personally however, I do not believe it will allow the "bumpy" landing talked about in the article. It will cause the collapse to be much quicker and catastrophic.

There will be absolutely no problem identifying the peak in the rear view mirror. Just look back about two years.

Ron Patterson

The real danger of PO is that when the citizenry of a country really understands that the oil is gone forever one of two things will happen.

1. If you are and exporting country you will stop most exports in order to save it for yourself. Russia will soon do this.

2. If you are and importing country you will go to war to get oil, your rightful oil by god.

I guess number three woulod be that if you are an importing country with no military then you just fade away....

I guess number three woulod be that if you are an importing country with no military then you just fade away....

Or you find some economic niche in which you believe your nation might sustain long term competitive advantage and you encourage the emergence of a "national champion" in that sector.

The problem with that, is that political borders change rather frequently. What makes anyone think that the current borders will remain where they are?

What makes anyone think that the current borders will remain where they are?

An involuntary change in national borders implies some form of military occupation. New question:

Is there any place on the globe where the greatest military power the world has ever known is bogged down and unable to pacify a nation of dishdasha wearers?

Ok, I'll answer your Leading Question: Iraq. Know why? Because we are unwilling (not unable, mind you), to use the force at our disposal in a manner that would have eliminated the problem. Too busy trying to win "hearts and minds", instead of doing what should have been done. Bin Laden was right. We don't have the balls to win anymore. It's not politically correct. Wars are won by overwhelming force, not by overwhelming bullshit.

In which case, you will never win a war, since you seem to have the only latter at your disposal.

In any case, I believe he meant "besides the US in Iraq".

We do not have the force at our disposal to "eliminate the problem", for the simple reason that the application of more force simply increases "the problem".

It has nothing to do with "political correctness". It has nothing to do with "balls". In fact, has a fair amount to do with "hearts and minds".

This is not a war to be won by overwhelming military force, and if you think so, you simply have no clue what your going on about.

Unless you're one of those "turn the whole Middle East into radioactive green glass" nutjobs, in which case, you have a point - let the nukes fly!

Gene: Win? Win what? Unless you are making money off this scam, it is costing you money (if you pay US taxes). I love how all you right wing "free market" advocates love wasting taxpayers' money as long as some little kid gets killed in the process (makes you feel like a real tough guy).

And I love how you left wing liberals think your "Right to Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness" can be enforced with nothing more than a court order. As for little kids getting killed, they also do the killing from time to time. Any number of people could attest to that, if they were still alive. Age has nothing to do with it.

Yup. The median income in the USA is sliding because of those damn Iraqi kids. Killing them won't fix it, but it will sure make us rednecks feel tough.

This is disgusting. Go read your good book under the 'thou shalt not kill section'. Incinerating people you don't know is the very definition of insane.

Not everybody on the planet is a Christian. And killing, including killing for sport as well as other motives, is pretty much a universal pasttime for the past several thousand years. Much of it conducted in the name of various deities. Welcome to the human species.


I'm an Air Force Academy grad and pulled combat alert in SAC waiting to help nuke other countries, so I don't think I would qualify as a 'left wing liberal', but I have a hard time believing you really understand what you are implying. Is your position that because we Americans want to have a ridiculous lifestyle based on oil, we should feel free to nuke people because they have oil available or because they had the audacity to not want to provide it to us? You are correct in that the only way we can 'win' in Iraq is to nuke the whole place, but we would have to then expand that to KSA, Iran, and most other countries in the ME. Somehow I don't think Russia or China would sit idly by while we did that.

That's not what I was implying at all. Sorry if it came across like that. What I was saying is that when a war occurs (declared or not ), the obligation to the nation is to win. To enter into a conflict without intending to win, is to declare defeat in advance. You should know this, although I'm not surprised that others would not.

As for nuke's I said nothing about nuking anyone, and as a trained SAC officer you should also be aware of proper employment of a wide variety of weapons. Nukes are usually a bad answer to a tactical problem, or a strategic goal. The general public perceives nukes based on what they've seen in the movies - like Dr. Stranglove - "city busters", which for all practical purposes are obsolete, and have been for the past 20 years or so.

No, "winning" simply means a strategy and related tactics that destroy's the enemy's will to continue the fight. Lot's of ways to achieve that end, but all require killing, and that is what many people object to. What they typically don't understand is that it doesn't need to be massive killing. It just needs to be convincing to the leaders of the opposition. The general public also wants it over with in time for lunch, which is ridiculous.

As for the oil aspect, it seems to me that the general tone here is that there won't be enough to go around, that the silver bb's won't make up the difference, and therefore there will be some unpleasant consequences. I would prefer, as an American, that those consequences are less unpleasant for this country (and our allies/friends ) than for other countries who are not our friends, and I will not apologize for that. Judging from what is going on around the world in terms of political and military actions by many other countries to secure energy resources, I assume the same attitude prevails amongst them. So, at some point in time there will be a fight. I think we should decide right now that we intend to win.

Bottom line is, that no matter how repugnant it may seem, it's time to choose up sides.

The cost of wars routinely exceeds the economic benefits to the winner (except for wars of national survival).

I oppose a war for oil on both moral AND economic grounds ! Let the Chinese have it.

For the cost of the Iraqi War I could reduce US Oil consumption by more (perhaps twice as much) as Iraq ever produced in their peak year. And my savings would last longer than a lifetime.

Abandon the American Empire and devote ourselves and resources to remaking our nation into a better and more efficient nation. It is entirely doable with the effort (but not the blood & suffering) that a prolonged war with China et al would cost.

Best Hopes for Peace,


Very nice comments (though idealistic).

"For the cost of the Iraqi War I could reduce US Oil consumption by more (perhaps twice as much) as Iraq ever produced in their peak year. And my savings would last longer than a lifetime."

Then why, pray tell, have you not done it?

Then why, pray tell, have you not done it ?

Bush, Cheney et al would rather invade Iraq. I have not had access to the Iraqi War budget.

I have recently made two significant steps forward that I hope to disclose in the near future.

It is a L_O_N_G road, with a low probability of success, but I *AM* trying.

Best Hopes for Peace,


And it is true that most wars are economic losers for the winners.

Where have I heard this before? Oh, yeah...

General "Buck" Turgidson: Mr. President, we are rapidly approaching a moment of truth both for ourselves as human beings and for the life of our nation. Now, truth is not always a pleasant thing. But it is necessary now to make a choice, to choose between two admittedly regrettable, but nevertheless *distinguishable*, postwar environments: one where you got twenty million people killed, and the other where you got a hundred and fifty million people killed.

President Merkin Muffley: You're talking about mass murder, General, not war!

General "Buck" Turgidson: Mr. President, I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed. But I do say no more than ten to twenty million killed, tops. Uh, depending on the breaks.

isn't that from the movie where they accidentally nuke a Russian city and have to nuke new york to make amends or face ww3?

The quotes were from "Dr. Strangelove", the other movie you are thinking of is "Fail Safe".

No - the film you are thinking of is Fail Safe, and as fate would have it, the President's wife is shopping in NYC that day. It's an unfunny film. The quotes above are from Dr Strangelove - or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb - an extremely funny 1964 film by Stanley Kubrick.

Gene is right that wars like this can essentially only be won through thorough genocide. The ancients understood this. YOu basically have to get rid of the other side in order to win. HOWEVER, the conclusion that this should lead one too is that they should simply not be fought.


I appreciate your attempt to come to my defense, however that is NOT what I said. If I'd meant genocide, I would have said genocide. Please don't read things into my comments that aren't there. I also, most emphatically, did NOT raise the issue of nuclear weapons as others have said.

For some reason certain people seem to think that "nuke 'em" is the only bullet left in the gun. So if someone disagrees with their pacifist position, they are automatically accused of wanting to "nuke Iraq" or some other country. This is fairly typical of people who have no clue about military weapons, tactics, or strategy.

This is one of the things that irritates me about this forum. People tend to read their own prejudices and imaginings into other poster's statements.

Sorry to go off on you like this. I hope you take the time to reread what I actually have said in previous entries in this thread.

Sorry Gene, I was not really trying to come to your defense. was just using your post as a segue. The main point I was trying to make is that these wars are basically unwindable. YOu have to just destroy the other side. If that doesn't fit in with one's objective then the war shouldn't be fought. The military was on the "right track" on this in Vietnam, so to speak, but fortunately there were enough outraged people here to put a stop to it.


Why then, Sir, is there so much leaking coming from the Administration about 'everything on the table', and credible reports on significant planning for such an event. Posturing? From an Administration that has zero credibility in the world?

Your position sounds very much like the Cheney "non negotiable" line, so maybe posters are reacting to you as an Administration apologist.

People are reading things into your comments because you are making claims about war needing to be an all out affair but you fail to fill in any blanks about how you would carry it out. Others are merely doing that for you. Nukes and genocide are valid options for all out war. What are yours?
Maybe you think we can go in and just kill the 'bad guys' and leave the women and children and good guys to grow up in freedom and democracy. Yeah that's good.


Hi Gene--

I'll apologize if I read too much (or with too much simplicity) into what you wrote; the knee jerk reaction of many 'right-wingers' borders on 'nuke 'em 'til they glow'. But I do have difficulty imagining any winning strategy in Iraq because I think that, as with Vietnam, we don't understand the enemy, either its motivations to fight or its attitude toward death.

I do agree that you shouldn't enter a war without intending to win, but you also shouldn't enter a conflict you cannot win. We seem to have employed a lot of firepower in Afghanistan; do you think we have won there? If not, do you think we have simply misdirected our weapons?

You are correct that many on this site, including me, think there will not be enough oil to go around and that the consequences of that will be unpleasant. However, lest I read too much into your comments again, is it your position that we should simply make war to take oil that belongs to other countries? Many of the countries you would clearly say are not our 'friends' have the oil.

We already use 25% of the world's oil production while only having 5% of the world's population. Can you honestly look at what this country does with its excessive share and conclude we should kill other people so we can continue doing what we have been doing?

How puerile to imagine you can kick and scream your way out of trouble. Amazing that this has been US national policy for 7 years now.

Perhaps a partnership could be worked out.

And I love how you left wing liberals think your "Right to Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness" can be enforced with nothing more than a court order.

As long as 'we' are 'tossing about labels' - Why did not the 'right wing war machine' have the balls to actually declare war in Congress?

Of course we could wipe Iraq off the face of the Earth in no time. But this course of action only makes sense if they had been a risk to us.

If on the other hand we want something they have, then we can't afford to wipe them out because it defeats the original purpose.

Look at it this way. If you take away their credit card even an American school girl would fight without even being Sunni or Shiite.

I find your statement quite staggering.

Clearly, you were too young to witness what was going on during the Vietnam war.

I suggest you take a look at Dispatches from America - Seven Years In Hell by Tom Engelhardt

Actually, I went to Vietnam in 1965 for 14 months. And I remember the "homecoming".

I have the deepest respect for the young men (and women) who go to fight wars out of patriotic zeal. I managed to avoid the draft, although my path affected me and my future as surely as did your path to the war. I wonder whether you have been able (or willing) to look back at the Pentagon Papers or read MacNamara's book? The events which led to our involvement in Vietnam stretched back before WW II and those of us born after WW II likely did not know of these historical events when we were called to serve. Here's one link to the Pentagon Papers:


while looking for that link, I stumbled across an article which gives a somewhat similar historical view of the road to our invasion of Iraq. Our public understanding since the article was written in 2004 add confirmation to the author's observations.


We have the power to kill massively and to destroy almost any military opponent, indeed, our weapons can destroy civilization. It's been said that we won the war in Vietnam, just as we did in Iraq. Iraq is now a police action or an occupation, as James Webb calls it. The resulting disintegration of Iraq may again produce an all-out civil war, as happened in Cambodia after we invaded. Many more people may yet die as a result.

E. Swanson

Thank you. Not for the praise ,but for a reasonable question and comments instead of the usual personal attacks that crop up on this kind of subject. I've read quite a lot about wars (attended the War College back in the 70's ). I'm sorry to say that I don't recall much of the specifics that you mentioned, other than having served with a few people for whom Vietnam was their 3rd war. Every war/conflict has historical roots that go back centuries in many cases. The countries of the Middle East were an invention of the British around the turn of the last century. The entire Western Hemisphere was defined by Europeans thru conquest. Asia was largely defined by the Chin Dynasty. There is no spot on the planet, with the possible exception of the poles for the time being, that could be called a "naturally" occurring country. All were the result of conflict and conquest, and most are still simmering.

What seems difficult for people in the "West" to internalize is that there are in fact other leaders of other cultures and countries, who sincerely wish to erase the Western world, in particular the USA. It is incomprehensible to most "Westerners", so we/they grasp at any straw to support a belief that; "That's really not what they want, they just want us to leave them alone." Yet these same leaders continue to tell us, "Yes that is indeed what we want". I don't know how to convince people that we need to believe them.

Gene: In your universe, why do you think these "leaders" that have plotted for the destruction of the "West" since birth have always quite willingly worked hand in hand with the "leaders" of the West until they were unceremoniously dumped from the team? As an example, Saddam literally spent years working productively with the hated infidels until the rug got pulled out from under his feet. No wonder Shrub is a two term "leader".

Personal and congruent political interests.

Folks make a mistake by thinking that the citizens of a nation are the enemy. In most cases they are not. The enemy is nearly always the leaders of the opposition. The citizens have little to say about it. But we/they are the ones who typically get it in the neck, sometimes by their own leaders, sometimes by just being in the way. Here's a question: Why do a bunch of people (tribe, nation, etc. since time immemorial ) elect or otherwise allow to come to power, any particular individual? What makes a "leader" different than any other schmoe. Take your time. It's not as simple as it sounds.

Right, and meanwhile we learn that Saddam had gone more or less completely into the self-preservation mode. The Clinton containment strategy was successful in achieving our ends, at a much lower cost (lives & dollars) than the military campaign/occupation.


Just a small factual improvement:
The countries of the Middle East, in particular, Iraq, Jordan and Syria, among others were created by the British after WW I during the writing of the treaty of Versaille (sp) in 1919. This was after a secret agreement between the U.S. Britain and France was ironed out during the war. Britain also made promises to early Zionists about a homeland, (not a state) in Palestine for the Jews in order to encourage Jewish support for the war in the United States.
Oil was already known to exist in Iran as well as northern Iraq. No one suspected the Arabian pennisula to contain any oil so that was largely ignored until 1937 and later.



The large Algerian discoveries were made right in the middle of the war there during the 50's. THis was one of the main reasons why the French were as recalcitrant as they were (In addition to having a million Pied Noirs living a Californiaesque existence). Just when they find what they saw as an endless energy source is is taken away.


Maybe so, but they are utterly incapable of doing so.

I have the deepest respect for the young men (and women) who go to fight wars out of patriotic zeal."

-- I don't think there are many. Young men go and fight for the action. IF it was just patriotism then older men would do just as well. Inner city kids are the best because they are the most jaded and aimless. The best treatment I have seen of this is Naill Ferguson's "The Pity of War." Amazing pics too.


And I remember the "homecoming".

Oh, Oh. Do you have pictures and documentation of being spit on? Because the counter claim it's never been documented.

And when you were 'over there' did you ever read:

It starts off strong:
Chapter One


WAR is a racket. It always has been.

It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.

A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small "inside" group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.

In the World War [I] a mere handful garnered the profits of the conflict. At least 21,000 new millionaires and billionaires were made in the United States during the World War. That many admitted their huge blood gains in their income tax returns. How many other war millionaires falsified their tax returns no one knows.

Eric: You got that right- it works because the sheeple buy into it. The USA slides down the slope and the money spigot to the racket doesn't even slow down http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-scheer/why-is-this-man-smiling_b_63...

Your idea about how to win a wars was put on life support about the same time as the discovery of force multiplying via terrorism and insurgency. The advent of global media and a global economy put the nails into its coffin. Still, it's charming to hear it again- sort of like oldies night on the local PBS.

Hi Gene,

I'd like to understand this a little better.

re: "...in a manner that would have eliminated the problem."

What was "the problem"?

An involuntary change in national borders implies some form of military occupation

Or paid off politicians bending their own people over. See US - Mexico border.

>Or you find some economic niche in which you believe your nation might sustain long term competitive advantage and you encourage the emergence of a "national champion" in that sector.

The top five sustainable future economies of the future:

5. Jesus Returns! (Judgement Day)
4. Cargo Cult economy (Pray for the Cargo/Fuel Gods to return)
3. Soylent green economy (Feed the dead to the living)
2. Feualism (The masses return to the fields)
1. Aliens come from a distant galaxy and bring us a book: "how to serve man"

I am sure the masses of industrialized nations will have no problem giving up their lifestyles are return to a period of pre-20th century living conditions. Its time we all got medieval again! While some jobs will change, Cubicals to labor camps, others jobs such as the tax collector won't change a bit.

I view #2 as a eventuality after the rest are tried and fail, i would mention why but that would devolve into a flame war even though it's obvious.

We have cargo cults in Harlem.

What if you are an exporting country but a foreign viceroy has been placed in charge of your country by invading vandals and said viceroy decides to disband your military? Would that be a fourth category, a sub catagory or simply 'vandals gone wild?'


'Paul Bremer, the former US viceroy of Iraq, shot back Tuesday when Bush alleged that he had not known that he intended to disband the Iraqi army. Bremer shared a letter he sent to then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld announcing his intention to disband the army, along with Bush's reply praising his leadership. Bush's reply, however, does not prove that he read Bremer's letter, only that Rumsfeld passed it on to him. You have a sense that Bush gets a lot of memos he doesn't read, in response to which he pats people on the head and names them Turtle Poo. The real question, on which Bremer has never come clean, is who ordered him to disband the Iraqi army. It wasn't Bush. Was it Cheney? I guess they don't bother to tell George everything.'

Winter had come early, in the last days of November. People said that it was the hardest winter on record and that no one could be blamed for the unusual severity of the snowstorm. They did not care to remember that there had been a time when snowstorms did not sweep, unresisted, down unlighted roads, and upon the roofs of unheated houses, did not stop the movement of trains, did not leave behind a wake of corpses counted in the hundreds.

"Account Overdrawn," from "Atlas Shrugged," by Ayn Rand

The Russian government is trying to restrict some natural gas exports to China, they have raised the oil export duty to the highest level in history, and I have seen some reports of planned reductions in fourth quarter oil exports. There are also reports of plans to restrict Russian grain exports.

It sounds to me like Russia is trying to reduce food and energy exports, in order to make sure that they have sufficient food and energy for the Russian winter, which makes one wonder what kind of winter that the EU might have.

Global Credit Crisis Slows Down Russian Investment Boom

Electric power, gas and water production and distribution continued their decline, 3.1 percent down between January and July. The statistics show that Russia’s growing industry still feels the shortage of resources. This is certainly disturbing but between May and July, the infrastructure sector saw some moderate growth. The shortage of resources is still acute but at least this gap is widening less quickly.

Growing imports pose an even graver problem. The Economic Development Ministry says Russia’s foreign trade surplus came to $71.5 billion in July, down 17 percent compared to $86.3 billion last July. Exports added 9.6 percent while imports rose 37.4 percent.

Financial Times: Gazprom pushes Exxon to drop China export plans

Gazprom, the Russian state-controlled gas giant, stepped up pressure on the ExxonMobil-led Sakhalin group to abandon plans to export natural gas to China on Tuesday, saying gas was required by domestic consumers.

It would seem to me that Russia is saying two different things at once( or at least closely together). 1)You can depend on us at the right price and now 2)You can't depend on us at all. Which is it? Did Putin get religion or did they figure out they never had the "extra" gas to begin with(given declining oil production).

I think you are confusing supply stability with fixed prices. It's true there is no gas to be sold at deep discount, but there is definetely plenty of natural gas to be sold at premium prices. Russia has always did anything possible to ensure stable gas supplies (which is natural considering the income that it brings), but has recently been demanding a fair price. I think different people will see fair price differently. Some will argue that price should be related to the cost of extraction. Others (me incuded) consider price to be fair when it's competitive with other, less limited forms of energy (such as say solar or human physical work).

Russian government does not want anybody to use gas extracted in Russia to compete against Gazprom gas. This is very obvious step and very reasonable one. Any organization would want to insure that it's resources are not used against it... It's seems such an obvious step to me I am not sure why it's news at all? No more shocking then say "Microsoft prefers it's software to be used by clients, rather then competitors..."

Just one thing.

You can depend on Russia at the right price as long as you don't support certain interests.

By Vladimir Socor
Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Russian oil deliveries to Germany through the Druzhba pipeline fell abruptly in the month of August by some 30%. Lukoil is mainly responsible for the deliberate reduction in supplies that had been pre-contracted. Supply shortfalls had begun in July on a small scale, before the abrupt August drop. The German government and affected companies kept this development under tight wraps until the Sueddeutsche Zeitung broke the story in its August 24 issue. . .

. . .Once the story broke, Lukoil remained secretive about the reasons behind the reduction in supplies. According to one theory, Lukoil was seeking to squeeze an intermediary out of the Russo-German oil trade. . .

Other theories in German and Russian oil-trade circles hold that:

1) Lukoil’s cuts may seek to force up the price of supplies to Germany for the next contract period;

2) deliveries through the Druzhba pipeline became less profitable since Belarus raised the transit fee by 30%, to $3.6 per ton;

3) Russia’s state pipeline monopoly Transneft, operator of the Druzhba system on Russian territory, may have begun redirecting part of the flow from that pipeline toward Russian Baltic maritime export terminals;

4) Lukoil may be aiming to intimidate the German refineries’ owners into ceding share packages to it as a “guarantee” of steady supplies in the future; or

5) the Russian state itself is trying to demonstrate that supplies have become too tight to suffice for all customers and that only the politically favored ones can count on steady supplies from now on.


December Wheat $8.35

Argentina, Spain, and China the only countries with exports.

Really Argentina the only one.

Argentina's crop projected in mid Aug to be down 8% from last year, drought related.

China not usually considered much of an exporter, though this year, due to high prices, they are speculating on shipping some of their higher grades.

US figures downthread.


This is trouble. I thought Argentina was ok.

"...in the Southern Hemisphere wheat-producing countries of Argentina and Australia do not look favorable."

-A DTN quote, I think.

That is one way of reading it.

The other is that in view of all the US/UK/Israel interference in Russian business/spheres of influence, taking commodities off the world market increases pressure on already weakened systems.

Russia would much prefer Iran is not attacked, but if it happens there is a whole range of actions that can be taken, including innocent commercial ones.

The explanation is much simpler.

Grain export might be limited to keep inflation numbers in check. Russia has huge amount of of unused agricultural land and can easily increase amount of grains grown. The problem is that it was not economically viable for Russia to grow more grain before. As far as I know Russia provides practically no agricultural subsidies compared to say EU or USA. In light of current shortages Russia even proposed setting up an OPEC like organization to manage grain prices. Just like OPEC allows (or allowed if you believe that OPEC has peaked) countries to increase oil pumping capacity without depressing prices, the idea for grain OPEC is that it will allow to grow more grains without depressing prices in case of huge grain surplus.

Oil export duty is related to average oil prices for some previous period. So no surprises there. Oil export duty is highest becasue average oil price is also highest.

Russia is only limiting natural gas exports that will undercut Gazprom ability to export. So in other words natural gas exports are there, but Russian want to make sure that they are not sold dirt cheap to foreign customers.


The effect is the same.

No wheat exports.

Watch Egypt and India.

Are the Chinese paying market price?

IMO it is only fair that the Russians have a right to
(1) Sell their gas to anyone they chose to
(2) Get market price for their gas
(3) Not sell it at all, at their discretion.

Asian persepective on US economy:

George Bush and Ben Bernanke set out to put out the fire by throwing gasoline on it


I read that last night and forwarded it on to Stoneleigh who follows the financial issues. Isn't that a great article?

The rest of you who get this far in the thread, especially us USA types, should read this to see what people in Asia are really starting to think about all of our addictions.

Despite the anti-US tone, I feel the article is well written and very enlightening.


It is a good article. I would critique it on the basis that it appears to make the assumption that the US can avoid a consumer led recession. I find this unlikely for the following reasons:

Almost 40% of the employment created in the last 4 years is associated with the housing and construction boom. With the ending of the boom this employment will be lost.

Mortgage equity withdrawals were the chief source of funds supporting consumer spending. Incomes are at best stagnant and all forms of credit are now becoming much harder to get. This tightening will have a consequent impact on aggregate demand.

This is not a one shot, happened in July, all over by August event. This is a slow drip of bad economic news, job losses, malfeasance, greed, corporate and political failure, that is going to go drip, drip, drip, for the next six to eight months. It just gets worse from here.

Basically, America evaded the bust at the end of the dot.com boom by creating another boom in the housing market. America is demonstrating both that it has no financial discipline and that it is unwilling to swallow the same financial medicine that it forever urges upon others. American hypocrisy is self-evident in both Iraq, and in the financial markets.

My hypothesis for the future is one of diminishing value for the dollar with the possiblity of an accelerating collapse. Why would you lend to America, or invest in it, if America is going to spend the next ten years doing an imitation of the Japanese property bubble collapse? I hope Stoneleigh continues with his financial reporting as I suspect the financial crisis will segue into PO and one will intensify and prolong the other.

Food and energy prices seem to really be affecting people. Have had lot more people asking me for work and sounding desperate (i sell used media in Harlem via the net) This year's rent increases were substantial (largely to offset energy costs for heat/HW).The extra 20-30 bux a week can make a big difference for people for whom it's not unusual to be a month or two behind on the rent. I think we are unquestionably heading into a recession. NYC will get it worse as heads are about to roll downtown. Bonuses should be nominal this year after 2 big years. We always hear about how the NYC economy is diversified now, but the problem is that the diversified parts still ultimately depend on finance dollars!


Didn't Matthew Simmons predict "catastrophe" for the summer of 2007 ? I can't find a link, but I remember quite distinctly reading this around April - June or so of this year.

Nope, I do not believe he made any such prediction. He has said many times that unless we have a mild winter, we could have a serious natural gas problem. And so far winters have been getting warmer and warmer.

But to my knowledge he has never predicted any kind of near term catastrophe due to falling oil production. A far out catastrophe is implicit in just about all his work however. And by far out I mean several years after the peak.

Ron Patterson

Quoting Simmons from http://www.energybulletin.net/29657.html,
May 14, 2007, .....
"Here is a quick run down on the possible disaster we face this summer ...."

I guess it was a "disaster" rather than a "catastrophe".

Saying something is possible is not the same as predicting it.

No worries regarding gasoline supplies. As I noted down the thread, we have at least 20 hours of supply in excess of the 185 mb Minimum Operating Level.

The Valero near my house was out of regular unleaded this morning. First time I can remember that happening.

I recall that he did comment on the gasoline stocks a couple of times in his spring interviews...but nothing that I would call a prediction.

He did say (IIRC) that things could get ugly fast with gasoline.

Now, on oil, he did mention in one of his latest interviews that 4Q will be tight for oil (as did IEA, and others).

Based on a Minimum Operating Level (MOL) of 185 mb of gasoline, the US has less than one day of supply in excess of MOL on hand (as of last week's data), and we have had reports of spot shortages in the Midwest for a few weeks. To meet demand, environmental rules have been waived, to allow imports of gasoline from Canada.

As a layperson here, my best way of evaluating all the various claims made here is to test whether the claims jive with reality. Claims about a peak 2 years ago for Saudi do so far jive better with reality than claiming that it has been a totally voluntariy reduction, because the price of oil has been so high, which historically, would have prompted higher production.

This gasoline inventory thing is another matter, however. Saying we have 1 day over minimum operating levels, below which pipelines will stop working, is not jiving with reality. You say there have been spot shortages - but I say not enough. Not enough given such a supposedly dire inventory situation - especially 3 days prior to Labor Day weekend. Where were the shortages over the weekend? Where was the price spike to compensate for a distribution system about to supposedly fail?

No, everything went smoothly - very smoothly. Prices are still mostly below $3/gallon. I read no stories about shortages, saw no indications of trouble at all. This simply doesn't not back up the assertions you've been making regarding this "Minimum Operating Level".

When do you take a step back and wonder which part of your story is based on a flawed assumption?

This simply doesn't not back up the assertions you've been making regarding this "Minimum Operating Level".

It's not my assertion. The 185 mb number came from the EIA, and in order to keep gasoline stations from going empty in some areas, environmental restrictions on gasoline imports from Canada had to be waived.

The quickly developing problem that we are facing is the gasoline/heating oil situation. Refiners need to ramp up their heating oil production, but we have critically low gasoline inventories.

Do these Canadian imports not count toward the weekly import numbers and the inventory levels, or are we going to see that they caused a build in gasoline inventories over Labor Day?

Ok, it's not your assertion, but it's a statement that seems at odds with what has happened, or rather, what hasn't happened. Dipping below a Minimum Operating Level sounds extremely serious. Am I wrong about that? Or is it no big deal? If it is a big deal, why don't prices spike to prevent it?

Something has to give, either the minimum operating level is much lower than 185mb, or dipping below it isn't really a big deal, or inventories are being under-reported, or supply-and-demand pricing is fundamentally and dramatically broken, and some economist has a nobel prize waiting for him to show how and why the basis of capitalism is bunk.

We have not (yet) dipped below the 185 mb MOL. If we are just above the MOL, one would expect to see what we have seen--isolated spot shortages in various parts of the country.

And as I noted down the thread, gasoline prices right now really don't make sense to me.

Speek -
firstly, I'm on the same page as you - and as you signal maybe "inventories are being under-reported" - which also has passed my mind.

I believe that the EIA has at "least another 1 week of all kinds of petrol-products" tucked away from the statistics, you know in these days of homeland security and all.

24 hours, only twenty-four-hours (?!?!) - of continuous inventory surplus …(?).. not a chance IMHO

..do we have the new outline for the next 24-series here?

Keep in mind that supply is not evenly distributed. Some parts of the U.S. have been struggling with gas shortages all summer.

Supplies tight

Mike Rud, president of the North Dakota Petroleum Marketers Association, said North Dakota has been fighting a shortage of gasoline since mid-June. About half of North Dakota's fuel comes from refineries in Minnesota, he said.

“We're on the end of the pipeline from the east and we're getting the crumbs,” Rud said.

It's kind of interesting, to see how the shortages play out. As predicted, the ones at the end of the pipeline are out of luck. Also, the gas stations that actually ran dry were the independents. The stations that were connected to big oil companies were kept supplied.

Hi Leanan, firstly, thx for maintaining all these scary drumbeats !, your list is growing by the day and so does your number of readers, cheers.

Now I’m aware of the numbers from EIA , WT and that there already are some supply trouble in some of your states. But that is so_wall_painting obvious IF there are just another 24 hrs of actual overhead gasoline supply in the entire US of A…

There must be more to this than the numbers officially state – and as said, I’m reading the same “virtual book” as Mr/Mrs Speek.

I think we've just gotten used to "just in time" delivery. As has been pointed out before, we could bring the gasoline distribution system to its knees, simply if we all ran out and filled up our tanks now. As we saw during the gas panics after Katrina and before Rita.

As Homer-Dixon points out, the flip side of efficiency is loss of resiliency.

Not that the experts aren't worried about inventories. They are. But IMO, they should be more worried than they are.

"just in time" deliveries are all fine for milk, bread and Lego. Milk/bread are locally made from local grains … and the Lego coming in from China will not do much harm (or be missed) if it’s 2 weeks late –

BUT these logics can not be used for crude/gasoline as I see it ..Murphy’s Law is always around

If my memory serves, I think I’ve read that various EU countries have months worth of reserves (crude, gas, ..), and this is why I find these 24 hrs so very unlikely .. But time will show.
Anyways and by all standards, the various US inventories are quite scary,
(…even though I’m from the other side of the pond)

Legos are not made in China. They are one of if not the only major toys that is not :)


Wholesale gasoline prices rose 12 cents in NYC yesterday per the Wall Street Journal, and 23 cents along the Gulf Coast according to CNBC.

Unfortunately this article today doesn't give more specifics:

"The day's gains followed Tuesday's sharp rise fueled by refined products futures lifted by strong cash markets, especially on the Gulf Coast and in the Midwest."


Dipping below minimum operating levels probably means localized shortages at the ends of the distribution channels (probably small cities).

Dipping much below minimum operating levels means abandoning some infrastructure and much more expensive oil.

If you go down from there, you'll have to start to abandon refineries and other productive structure.

The 185 million MOL figure is about 5 years old.

Even though Congress ordered the DOE in 2005 to report back to them with an updated MOL figure for gasoline, they have not done so.

When you consider that additional pipeline capacity has been put into place over the last 5 years, you would have to assume that the MOL is higher than 185 million.

Is that your guess? Did you get this information from the same guy who sold Jack his beanstalk beans?

The NPC report of this year went to great lengths to explain what they call Minimum Operational Inventory. I quoted the report once in the last week on this very subject.

WARNING - BIG PDF http://www.npc.org/reports/R-I_121704.pdf

The MOI summary:

Gas 185
Distillates 85
Crude 240-260

The people quoting these numbers are decidedly anti-peakers, so I don't understand the debate regarding there veracity. One does not have to believe the numbers, but I would think if one doesn't, some form of link or proof would be of value. An assumption is of no value to the debate.

An assumption is of no value to the debate.

Strongly disagree. Reasonable assumptions have a place here. And the assumption that the MOL might be larger than the official figure is, IMO, quite reasonable if more pipeline has been built.

By coincidence, Tom Whipple wrote about MOL again in his peak oil column. It hit the net only an hour or so ago.

Peak Oil Crisis: Minimum Operating Levels Redux

The U.S. Department of Energy used to publish a number for the minimum operating level, but then stopped on the grounds they were not sure exactly what the correct number was. There certainly was no need to scare people by suggesting we were getting close to the bottom of our national gasoline tank. Last May, however, an inveterate researcher discovered the number in a musty old DOE publication from 2004 and it turned out to be 185 million barrels.

So the 185 figure is from 2004, which is pretty old. (It was published in 2004; who knows when the research was actually done.) So it likely is out of date. Also, note that the reason they no longer publish the number is supposedly because they're not sure it's accurate.

Plenty of reason to doubt the official figure.


You are a machine.

Hey! That's it! You're PG's Turing Test.


Leanan, I recommend you read the PDF jteehan posted. It suggests that MOI (Minimum Operating Inventory) was dropped in 1998 in favor of a new term, LOI (Lower Operating Inventory), which was calculated differently and is considerably lower than the former MOI. The MOI was dropped because supplies had dropped below it several times with little or no ill effect. No one knows at one point of low inventory failures result. Even the new LOI is merely a guess, and the best guesses are not that failure results, but the supply flexibility is reduced when that level is approached or even breached.

In short, it seems likely there is no MOL, that large supplies disruptions will not appear as the 185 number is breached, and that spot shortages of a sort that people can relatively easily work around, are all that can be expected. 10, 20, maybe 30 cent rises in gasoline prices is about all we'll see from this.

Now, if a hurricane hits and knocks out some refineries, I bet reduced supply flexibility means that increased imports of gasoline can not prevent shortages in certain places that are not used to and set up to receive gasoline from imports.

Did you get this information from the same guy who sold Jack his beanstalk beans?

As I recall, that guy claimed they were "magic" beans, and it turned out to be true. Sounds like a credible source to me. =)

Refiners need to ramp up their heating oil production, but we have critically low gasoline inventories.

WT, is that still really all that big a deal? I remember when it really was a big deal, back in the 1970s. Especially given the record cold, brutal winters we were having back then, and the huge numbers of older, uninsulated oil heated houses in the northeast, the whole country was really worrying about whether or not there would be enough heating oil. I am sure that for the people responsible for making it happen, there were probably some sleepless nights back then. Now, we have a higher percentage of houses that have been insulated, a smaller percentage dependent upon heating oil, a high percentage of the population living in warmer southern areas, and milder winters. While I understand that there still needs to be a seasonal inventory build-up of heating oil, I am wondering if it is really going to put as much of a strain on the system as it used to?

Those huge numbers of older, uninsulated, oil-heated houses are still around. I speak as an owner of one such house. It's a lot less uninsulated than it was when I bought it, but still not as tight as a newer house. A week of really brutal weather will burn through almost an entire 275 gallon tank of oil even when we have the heat turned down to 55° F. As a matter of fact, even more houses heated with oil have been built since the 70s, so if anything, the problem would be worse.

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

This only shows history back to '95, but should shed some perspective. This is only for New England, NY, NJ & PA, but that's where most of the HO is burned. At about 140 million barrels, that's like one week's use for the entire US (20mbdx7), right? Put another way, that's 2% of total US annual oil consumption for heating northeast homes in winter. Seems substantial to me, esp. in a system operating at the margin.


There are over 300 Million Americans. Everything is a big deal.Here in NYC there is an oil truck on every other block when it is cold. We are hugely dependent on HHO and hugely wasteful of it. The boilers run full blast and people throw open their windows to cool off the rooms. It's always been that way and it will be that way 5 years from now (unless there's no oil)


I would also add that this has not been a typical Labor Day Weekend. People drove less, due to higher prices.

And gas prices still rose after Labor Day, when usually they drop.

Prices are not what I would call "higher". They have hovered around $2.90/gallon for quite a while now, and didn't really change much in the last week. When I see something like a minimum operating level being threatened, I expect a price over-reaction, if anything. Not an irrelevant $.05 rise.

When I see something like a minimum operating level being threatened, I expect a price over-reaction, if anything.

See yesterdays drumbeat:

RickD on September 4, 2007 - 8:56am | Permalink | Subthread ^

Our local gas stations are moving to $ 3.24 today - Grand Rapids, Michigan USA.
Up from $ 2.86 to $ 3.09 range

That's one data point and even that is not what I would call a "price over-reaction". I still maintain that either this minimum operating level stuff is bunk, or prices are seriously irrational.

I posted an article today about gas prices. I didn't say what I said based on a single data point, or on the price I'm paying at the corner gas station. I weeded through dozens of stories about gas prices this morning in my usual energy news trawl, and many of them commented on how odd it was for prices to be going up at this time of year.

Here's a decent link to get a handle on gasoline price trends. You can select your metropolitan area and time frame e.g.: month, several months, etc... and get a chart. I am assuming the data is based on that which is reported to the site from "driver-participants" so it might skew a little, but on the whole I think it is pretty good.


Every city seems to have it's own site-view. But they link to a central database.

From that article:

U.S. retail gasoline prices jumped almost a nickel over the last week to the highest level in a month as tight motor fuel supplies threatened to send pump costs higher, the government said on Tuesday.

The national price for regular gasoline rose 4.7 cents to $2.80 a gallon, up almost 7 cents from a year ago, the federal Energy Information Administration said in its weekly survey of service stations.

I have to stress, we're talking about being 1 day of supply away from dipping below minimum operating levels. A nickel rise doesn't do this situation justice, IMVHO. I'm basically here begging for an explanation that makes this situation make sense.

Keep in mind that we didn't suddenly drop to 1 day away from MOL in the past week. This has been an ongoing issue since spring.

I think we've just gotten used to it. Low inventories have led to only scattered problems, mostly in the middle of nowhere. So why worry?

When I was still driving (before I learned about peak oil) I wasn't phased at all when I pulled up to an empty pump. I just thought that somebody didn't order enough or the gas station did more business than anticipated between deliveries. It didn't occur to me, as it probably doesn't occur to the average consumer, that my local empty pump was part of a widespread problem.

Everyday I come here and learn a little bit more about how fatally stupid human beings are, as a whole. If what you're saying is indeed the explanation for these prices, then today I've learned a whole big nasty chunk about how stupid humans beings are, as a whole. It makes every optimistic hopeful idea sound like utter bullshit given zero chance of happening. Alan may as well chuck his light-rail idea now and implement his doomer back up plan, because if this is how stupid we are, then I think the next headline I'm likely to read is how the government is going to cut taxes to finance a new trillion dollar plan to rip out old railroads in order to make room for growing corn to be processed into ethanol that will be distributed to gas stations via humvee.

Well, here's a "cheerful" e-mail that I just got from Stratfor.com:

Criminals who carry out home invasion robberies are seeking a new kind of victim in the United States: middle- and upper-income Americans. In recent months, violent and sometimes deadly home robberies have been reported in seemingly “safe” neighborhoods, from Connecticut to California.

As I have said several times, "Cheap (for a number of reasons) is the new chic."

I would expect criminals to increasingly target half developed outlying suburban developments, which will accelerate the downward spiral in property values.

Gated communities should be renamed "fenced" communities, as their contents will soon be "fenced" & will enter the "informal economy".

Another way to look at this: Why buy stuff brand new today at premium retail prices when there is going to be plenty of nearly-new stuff available for sale on every street corner at bargain prices? What a "steal"!

We may be looking at the death of Sprawl-Mart here!


Thanks for that. I get the feeling that, when I do decide it's time to run for the hills, and when I can convince my family that it is indeed time, it's going to be far too late.

I'd heard that, too. It's apparently quite a striking trend. Home invasions used to be relatively rare. No more.

I wonder if it's because of ATMs. No need to keep cash in the home any more, because it's so easy to get it from the machine when you need it. But it means a would-be thief has to attack when the victim is home, to get the PIN.

They always are going to go for what they perceive to be the softest and most promising target.

Households that employ temporary help are especially vulnerable as it just takes a dime bag of crack to get all the information needed to walk in unmolested.

Many people think that they are saving money on dirt cheap labor instead of hiring insured and licensed help.

That's not what a home invasion is. A home invasion is violently breaking into a home while the occupants are present.

"Walking in unmolested" is not part of the deal.

Sure it is. Getting inside without drawing attention is key. And I realize that in a typical home invasion scenario some of the occupants would be there.

Information goes to layout, security systems, habits and schedules and estimates as to propensity and capability to use self defense. This type of info can be gained by direct observation but would be very conspicuous in more upscale neighborhoods. It most often is inside info.

The other likely scenario is when there has been a prior history of drug involvement or other not quite above board business.

It isn't quite as random as people think and it is extremely rare for them to walk in totally blind, with the possible exception of cases where the victim showed something that was too tempting a target.

In my free time I volunteer technical services to the local sheriffs posse so it isn't just opinion. It isn't the area I get involved with but word goes around.


In what % of cases would you est. a maid etc had provided some sort of info? I would imagine it is high.


speek: I'm basically here begging for an explanation that makes this situation make sense.

Well, if you want to consider some irrational complacency, consider the following.

During George Bush's first term, the world consumed about 10% of all the crude oil that has ever been consumed.

During George Bush's second term, the world will consume--based on mathematical (HL) model--about 10% of all remaining conventional crude oil reserves, and furthermore our models suggest that exported crude oil will decline much faster than overall crude oil production will decline.

Current EIA data support the Bush second term scenario, while 90% (?) or so of the world appears to believe that we can have an infinite rate of increase in the consumption of a finite energy resource base--even as world crude oil production and exports trend downward.

During George Bush's first term, the world consumed about 10% of all the crude oil that has ever been consumed.

During George Bush's second term, the world will consume--based on mathematical (HL) model--about 10% of all remaining conventional crude oil reserves,

Good thing the US has term limits. Another 8 years of Bush and there would be no oil left at all.

I know, WT, I read it everyday here because you post it every day. Not that I'm complaining - you do a great service and it must be tiresome for you (unless you're autistic? hmm). Anyay, the problem I'm having here is that, while I lament the obvious inability we have to implement a solution 10 or 20 years in advance of the obvious manifestations of the problem, it does not cause me such horrible un-ending despair as does the realization that we will not implement solutions even after actual occurrences of obvious manifestations of the problem.

It is utterly hopeless. The human reaction is, overwhelmingly, going to be to reach for a gun more than anything else. Our solution to the problem of bad bridges in need of repair will be to blow them up. There, problem solved.

Well, well... look here! Another one is starting to wake up!

What did the Easter Islanders do when things got nasty? They knocked down each other's statues that their clans had spent generations building... and then they ate each other.

What did the Chaco Canyon native Americans do once they exhausted the forests and resources around their home (and thus turning it into the vast desert it is today)? They destroyed each other's homes in violent rampages... and then they ate each other.

What did the Mayans do when they denuded the mountain slopes causing mudslides and traumatic ecological collapse? The people rose up and threw down their priests and royalty... and then they ate each other.

Catch a theme here yet? We are homo sapiens, an intelligent, tool using ape, who is utterly and completely red in tooth and claw. A few hundred measly years of "civilization" is not going to alter hundreds of thousands of years of natural selections directly within the species or millions of years of natural selection within hominids generally.

As for running for the hills, the hills are already dead but just don't know it yet. You want to understand what happens when desperate, hungry people vastly outnumber a wilderness area? Go grab GoogleEarth and zoom in on the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. In Haiti you will see what happens to the hills, the forests, the streams, all of it. We (homo sapiens) destroyed it. And the Haitians would have destroyed the Dominican Republics forests and streams and lakes too except that if you cross that border to do that, you are very liable to get shot (and rightfully so).

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

I gots to get to work on a recipe for that.

Coquilles st Jack & Jill too?

Fantastic post.

Best hopes for martial law locking the masses in population centers?


I have a tool that help explain what you mean. Check out this link Border of Haiti/Dominican Republic

This was produced by my website IslandMap.co.uk

I hope you like it! If you need help to use it just ask using the email address on that site.

OMG, you're assuming that markets are rational!

You wouldn't, by chance, happen to be a professional economist? ; )

Errol in Miami

I'm not a professional economist. I'm a nobody who knows literally nothing (I have a philosophy degree to prove it). I don't think I assumed the markets are rational. Like I said elsewhere, there's rational, there's irrational, and there's seriously irrational (or fucking psychotic, if you will). I was of the belief that markets were not fucking psychotic. I am being disabused of that belief, though :-(

LOL! My undergraduate degree is in political philosophy... how out-of-touch with reality is that?


Speek: When are prices rational? Was it rational for oil to hit $10 in 98? If prices were rational, it would be literally impossible for shortages of any product to ever occur. Who are these "rational" price setters you are invoking?

There's rational, there's irrational, and there's seriously irrational, as I put it. $10 in 98 was rational in the sense that failure to look 10 years ahead isn't such abnormal thinking. It's the failure to look 5 days ahead that I'm having trouble with.

Traffic was lighter this year on Labor Day weekend in MN,
gas price where I usually buy is $3.19.

Did they really? I just didn't notice any difference, nor do I when in traffic on other days. It seems to get worse all the time. Are there stats on actual miles driven? Here are the projections for NJ (2% increase):

Woodbridge, NJ - 8/28 – With 4,533,457 vehicles projected to travel 46.86 million vehicle miles on the Garden State Parkway over the Labor Day weekend, State Police Troop E, which patrols the Parkway, will step up all phases of safety enforcement, particularly those assigned to the detection of the impaired driver and the strict enforcement of posted speed limits, the New Jersey Highway Authority announced today. The Authority operates the 173-mile Parkway and owns the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel.

The 96-hour holiday period for tabulating this year’s Parkway volume begins at 12:01am on Friday, August 31 and ends at midnight on Monday, September 3. Last year’s 96-hour holiday period saw 4,466,460 vehicles traveling 46.17 million vehicle miles on the Parkway over Labor Day Weekend.

BTW, in my opinion, the price of gasoline does not make any sense, given the low inventory levels and high crude oil prices. Most of the independent oilmen that I have talked to share my opinion that the majors have been deliberately keeping the price of gasoline low, presumably for political reasons.

Right now, a gallon of gasoline, on the Nymex, is selling for only 20¢ more than a gallon of crude oil. I don't have the exact number, but historically, I think that the price spread has been considerably more than this.

I agree the price does not make sense.

Has anyone ever produced a graph of crude price to gasoline price for given region? I suspect it is not directly correlated.

There is some fear from the gasoline retailers/producers to hike prices too much (politically), but does it really hold them back that much?

I think this would make a great key post sometime...Robert, Kehab?


Check the Show Crude Oil Price and then Create Chart. You can change the location to your area.

I just did the chart for Dayton, Ohio over a 4 year period and included crude oil. It looks like the Oil companies raised the prices too much over July 4th and had to "give back" the profits before the end of the quarter (Labor Day) , so they did not look like they were gouging. Just my take on why prices which seem to follow crude prices.

Yes, please. I am very curious as well. Thanks in advance.

read my post below. The Saudi's still own all the refining they bought from Texaco, and they've cut prices to the US while raising prices in Asia. I think they can't raise production to keep market share so they are cutting prices instead.

Bob Ebersole

But why?

Simmons has never, to my knowledge, made specific predictions except for one or two. Rather, he has instead pointed to certain situations or trends and suggested that if circumstances changed in the wrong manner that we would be in deep trouble.

Specifically for this summer he suggested that we could be in bad trouble given the low levels of gasoline inventory. And as Robert Rapier, Westexas, and others have shown, we have come very close to the Minimum Operating Levels (MOL) for gasoline around the country. In some places we have even seen very brief spot shortages. And all this occurred without any tension in the Middle East or any massive hurricanes along the Gulf Coast or in Florida. Right now gas is so tight that a massive evacuation could cause serious problems in the country. When Dean was being forecast as a potential Texas landfall, the news here in Houston was of oil companies pre-positioning gasoline along evacuation routes just in case. That was probably wise too because it cost them just a tiny bit of cash but avoided massively bad PR if the hurricane had come to Texas and we'd been out of gas during the evacuation.

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

He called for $150+ oil two years ago. I recall that day distinctly...

Evidentally your recollection leaves something to be desired.

There was a point 2 yrs ago when going into the winter he said that with one further disruption and a cold winter we could see 100 dollar oil. That was after the hurricanes of 2005 had hit. Instead we had a record warm winter and no additional disruptions and oil still hit the high 70s. Clearly he was correct. If the winter had been cold and there had been any additional supply disruption it could have easily exceeded 100/bbl. Go find his quote if you disagree.

Reference, please. Produce the proof.

(Hint: Simmons did not say what you think he said or what you are twisting his words to mean.)

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

Too easy:

Oil guru says crude could hit $190 this winter
'Prices are really cheap today and they need to go a lot higher,'
analyst says

Reuters 0ct. 19, 2005

OTTAWA - Consumers should brace for crude oil and natural gas prices
possibly doubling or tripling this winter, Matthew Simmons, a
best-selling author and oil-supply bear, said on Wednesday.

"Prices are really cheap today and they need to go a lot higher, and
they probably will go a lot higher," Simmons said in Ottawa.

"I am very concerned, given the destructive damage done by (Hurricanes)
Katrina and Rita, that the United States must be closer to starting to
see significant product shortages than we've seen since 1979."

Too much got destroyed and too little has been brought back on stream,
the Houston-based analyst said.

He also said that cold weather this winter could bring a very high risk
of natural gas curtailment in the United States.

"Either one of those events (oil product shortage or natural gas
shortage) could send prices two to three times higher than they are
today," he said after a speech in Ottawa.

That could translate into natural gas prices of $40 per million British
thermal units from more than $13 now, he said. Doubling or tripling
crude would put it in the range of $125 to $190 per barrel. Source

My $150 was a rough average of the range he quoted. And do be sure to do a google search for "Matt Simmons $190". What a wonderful tool, this 'internet'.

So, Could now equals prediction?

"Either one of those events (oil product shortage or natural gas
shortage) could send prices two to three times higher than they are
today," he said after a speech in Ottawa.

Since we are experiencing a supposed 'shortfall' in oil around the globe, prices should be going up, right? Lets take a look at what Mr. Simmons thinks will happen if we get to 4%...

Wow, 5-10x as much? Why did oil only top the old high by a dollar with a 2% decline, but a 4% decline will bring us this?

Oh man...$330-$650 bucks a barrel!! I'll be waiting, won't you?

You will be. I won't.

Wow, partyguy. Nice cherrypicking. And you don't even bother to cite a source, but rather post a photocopy of ... what?

But, as most here already know, you're a moron.

Source of audio at http://www.financialsense.com/transcriptions/2005/Simmons.html , the quote is about 60% of the way down. One might take a look at the breath/depth of subjects covered, and the context of the quote.

Can you even read? He said could not will. It was a qualified statement dependent on circumstances that thankfully did not arise.

This is so typical of you, PartyGuy. You are a troll and a poor one at that. Another inflammatory statement and you debunked yourself!

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

I suggest you actually do the google search and read for yourself. Mr. Simmons is a sensationalist at times. Very convenient for his bottom line!

Don't need to...I have read all his stuff.

Of course he is SENSATIONAL. Watch TV lately...unless you are running around *commando* you don't get air time.

So, yes, he may say '*could* be a disaster'...but is that any different than the weatherman, or the news anchor with the SENSATIONAL lead in story for the 11PM news.

He is trying to get a message out, and you need to get people's attention...which is hard with the prevalence of systemic ADHD in our present-only-matters society.

Nobody here is saying that Simmons or Kunstler or even Heinberg are above using SENSATIONALISM to GET ATTENTION. But, at least their message is sound....RESOURCES ARE NOT INFINITE.

What is your agenda exactly? Debunk Simmons, Jeff Master's and other professionals because the shake up your reality, present facts, and interpret them...maybe not to your liking...welcome to science...we don't all agree. But that does not mean, you are right.

Why don't you jump over to youtube and check out Britney's latest folly?

What Simmons actually said in your link was that to avoid a possible disaster and keep the market supplied, four conditions needed to be met, including:

3. No hurricanes can hit the Gulf producing region.

Although it looked dicey to him then, the four conditions have just barely been met so far, as the hurricanes to date seem not to have had a serious permanent effect, but production and inventories are on the ragged edge with minor spot shortages. Do note, though, that hurricane season is not over and the water is still nice and warm. If a hurricane happens to hit the wrong place, expect significant spot shortages and plenty of dysfunctional responses from demagogic Congresscritters.

The present quotes on http://www.upstreamonline.com/market_data/?id=markets_crude

has Minas at $84.19 and Tapis at $79.94. From

The primary challenge that Platts has encountered in assessing Minas and Tapis has been the relativeinfrequency of bids, offers or spot transactions. Part of the reason is the low availability of spot cargoes.

Both fields are mature, and production of crude oil is falling, particularly in the case of Minas. Central Sumatra's Minas oil field has been in production for over 50 years, and accounts for about one third of the Indonesia's total crude oil production. It currently produces slightly over 300,000 barrels per day of crude oil. This is 35% lower than peak production in 1999. Pertamina consumes internally over two thirds of the production. The remainder is exported either on a spot or term basis.

Production of Tapis Blend crude oil in Malaysia is about 375,000 b/d and accounts for about half of Malaysia's 750,000 b/d of crude oil production, steady with levels seen in 2000.

I should have noted that the Platts information was dated June 2005

In breaking news, worst Pending Home Sales numbers since september 11...


Danger: Steep drop ahead

As wonderfully favorable factors cool off, asset prices will be under broad pressure, and risky assets will be under extreme pressure. If the credit crisis gets out of control, this will happen quickly and painfully. The important point to make here is that even if all works out well on the credit front, it will still happen slowly.

From the Asian perspective link above:

[What is astonishing, particularly in Asia, is that this surge in the supply of cheap money is deemed necessary after a decline of less than 10 percent in major US stock indices and only a few percent in house prices. Even after prices had risen by 50 percent in five years, 100 percent in a decade and 300 percent since 1980, it is deemed unacceptable to Americans to see a fall of even 10 percent. This would drive the economy into recession, it is claimed.]

This is an interesting point (besides that it shows how ludicrous our expectations have become) because it parallels the mentality shown by the fed when Greenspan made
his famous statement that the market was in the grip of "irrational exuberance" in December 1996 causing Trent Lott to mention his concern "about the degree of [their] independence", viewed as a warning to the Fed. (Peter Hartcher, Bubble Man, 2006). But the most amazing response was by congressmen berating Greenspan because constituents complained that it would take a week of normal stockmarket activity to get back to the level they were at before Greenspan made his comments (Hartcher). Ultimately Greenspan and the 'independent' fed backed down and continued to support the market's overvaluation resulting in the collapse in 2002 and the evaporation $7 trillion of equity (Hartcher).

Bernanke seems intent on following Greenspan's footsteps in reacting to people's whines about their unrealistic expectations not being met. Hopefully, Bernanke's actions won't make the crash worse when it occurs.

so what? wait for the market to drop 75% in value on a housing glut and mortgage defaults, then buy up a bunch of it, and become very rich as it recovers!

... as it recovers!

... as it recovers!

I guess this is what President Bush would call a "faith-based intiative."

I guess this is what President Bush would call a "faith-based intiative."

But the Chinese will be the ones buying so it will be called a demonic faith based initiative.

Let Confucian Reign!!

Re: Saudi Arabia raises prices to Asia, cuts prices to US
article on the arabianbusiness.com link above is very significant. The Saudi Refining Company has huge investments in the US refining industry sector. At the time of the takeover by Chevron of Texaco, the Saudi's owned 50% of Texaco's refining. They bought in when Texaco lost the huge lawsuit back in the 80's over the Pennzoil takeover. And I don't think that it was bought out by Chevron, just not for sale. Plus, over the years they've bought US Treasury bonds and made other oil and gas investments. So the Saudi's really stand to lose if the US dollar collapses, or we switch away from a car culture before the last drop is squeezed from under the desert.

Cutting US prices helps its refining investments in the US,since they're buying a lot of their own oil and they can't afford to see the US economy collapse. They also feel threatened by moves towards energy independence. Back in the 1980's they flooded the markets with crude because conservation efforts were working, but its obvious that they can't do that today for any extended period as our great Oil Drum analysts have shown. There only way of discouraging Alberta Tar sands competition is to cut prices to where bitumen stays unprofitable.

The US foreign crude dependence is the most dangerous national security problem we have. We import 14.25 million barrels a day, over 5 billion barrels in the last callender year at a price averaging over $60 a barrel. Thats $300 billion out of our economy, and less than half that amount even staying in the North American economies, plus the fantastic sums being spent on the Iraq conquest. That's 68% of our energy useage and the 750 million barrels in storage won't last even 6 months in an embargo or war. It dwarfs the " war on terror" and none of the candidates are talking about it.The only solution is massive conservation and we can't let lower prices put us back to sleep.

Alan Drakes electrification of rail is a necessity. So are hybrids and electrification of automobiles. This isn't liberal or conservative or any fake category that is designed to seperate us as Americans by people who want to manipulate the country. Its national survival, and war won't fix it. We need to demand our society addresses it immediately.
Bob Ebersole

Some talking-oil-heads on the future of the North sea -

A 3-min video

- no eyebrow lifter, as such, its just showing that those folks actually exist

...And then we have the Big Brother from Eritrea ... who keeps an eye on the developements in the US auto industry ... ;-)

Dr. Ravinder Rena

[Eritrea Institute of Technology] is that an unexpected source? ...

The Ford and General Motors have announced 60,000 job cuts. This may be more than production moving south; it could be a sign of a world where the economic geography is changing....... from Leanans link above ....

hehe -I'm just wondering how many Eritreans follow this story ?

BTW -there is more to the story - quite good reflections (lesson to myself read it all, before commenting...)


First off, thanks for posting the Video.

Brindred of Shell E and P Europe. Olsen, Chair and Dir of Production.

These are reasonable and sensible men, Engineers and with years of experience. Oh, and as Sting would sing: they love their children too…

They told the truth. As stated:

1. North Sea is mature
2. Everybody expected the North Sea to grind to a halt circa 1995 at the latest when discussed in the early 80’s.
3. The North Sea was saved by technological innovation, most notably 3D , 4D Siesmics, Downhole rotary steerable technology with Measurement while drilling. This enabled extended reach drilling , infill drilling from existing infrastructure. Such advances prolonged the life and the URR from such fields as Brent, Ninian and many, many others. This continues both here and elsewhere in the world.
4. Yes, technology works on Brownfields
5. Brindred stated that while technology gained an extension especially in the Central North Sea, do not expect ‘gain changes’. This is important. You can prolong the tail of production, but production will not ramp up after peak in an area of production unless you find new and large fields to compensate for the decline in the large, usually initial finds.
6. Olsen: General consensus? 15 – 25 billion barrels of oil equivalent. This may well be true. Olsen focussed on the URR being dependent on: Fiscal, Regulatory issues (Tax, HSE, Labour, Costs Decommissioning issues etc), Existing Infrastructure being utilised.
7. The important signal is basically that to get the best recovery of reserves (note not the URR –since the last barrels may well be left in place if maintaining the infrastructure becomes beyond economic cost), then the window of opportunity is this next decade.

So what was this 3 minute clip?

A recognition of province maturity? Sure.
Flagging a warning that the existing infrastructure is what we have to play with ? Again , Sure.
A warning that to make it work, fiscal and regulatory stability and munificence will be required? Absolutely for sure.

At the risk of being called a big-oil shill, I cannot say that I disagree with the sentiments of this clip.

Overall, there has been a sea-change in the public statements from 'big oil' during the last two years. And any MSM Hack or Politician with brains, should be capable of picking up the signals.

MUDLOGGER – a very comprehensive analysis you came up with , and as you state the content is sober and probably down to reality –

BUT/AND your conclusions are worth zooming -

Overall, there has been a sea-change in the public statements from 'big oil' during the last two years. And any MSM Hack or Politician with brains, should be capable of picking up the signals.

I’ve been thinking lately – will the actual "PO-wolf at the door”-cry finally come from the oil-business themselves ?, because the politicians are not getting the peak-oil-thing or any other kind a’ peaking for that matter…….

The "rest North Sea" content ... if they get hold of it, can supply the gussling USA for one whole year ...

I think that the Western Oil Majors have spent some time easing the message in, frequently with full page ad campaigns in Major papers.

Total, Chevron, Shell have all streamed a message to soften us up. The tag-line being 'the easy oil is over'.

Western majors dont have the same modus operandi that you might expect.

They are intimately linked with Western Governments. I would expect them to send discrete, hidden messages to us , the general public and quietly inform governments of the situation, hoping for evolution rather than revolution.

Ultimatley, they must always keep a weather eye on the share price.

Just supposing that Shell announced at a shareholder meeting that they would cease to produce oil and thereby cease to be an oil company on the 6th of October 2012. Imagine what would happen...

The job of a Western oil CEO is a) to money for shareholders and b) to make money for share holders and c) make....you get the picture.

Contrary to popular belief, it is not to care for the environment, worry about polar bears, or ensure soccer moms can get kids to school at a reasonable price...

ROI , ROCE be protected in several ways:

1. Explore and find more in the non- nationalised world
2. Crack deals in the NOC world
3. Acquire other oil companies and hence reserves
4. Liquidate and signal to shareholders that the money is returned in share buy-backs ie: ''go spend your money where a better return is likely''.

It is the fidjudiciary duty of a CEO to ensure an ROCE or ROI. Or recommend liquidation or merger or be acquired.

1. is becoming difficult, expensive, uncertain.
2. is increasingly difficult, or subject to lockout
3. Holds some respite, relief or remission, but drilling on Wall Street has fewer likely targets.
4. Is a regular feature over the last few years.

So... subtle signals to the general populace, quiet urgency behind closed doors to government, and a hollow feeling in the pit of every CEO's stomach for projections from 2010 -2020...

How did we get here? Step by reasoned,well intentioned, methodical step...

Hi Mudlogger,

I appreciate your post here and the one further down - clear explanations.

re: "And any MSM Hack or Politician with brains, should be capable of picking up the signals."

I have a different take on the effect of those ads, though - and, of course, it's difficult (if not beside the point) to judge someone's intent, which well may be as you claim.

IMVHO, the sum total effect of the ads is to greatly exacerbate the situation - better not to have said anything to the public than to put out what amounts to disingenuous material.

As a non-scientific sampling, when the first print ads came out, I asked people (some w. PhDs even) what message they got. Responses were along the lines of the following:

"There's really no problem."
"We have everything under control."

To take a little closer look at what I'm talking about, the first ad below is the first one I ever saw, back when I was still in "peak shock". The missing fact - not even addressed as a question - is (again IMVHO) well, hey - *Is there a "next trillion"?* (caps, scream).


“It took us 125 years to use the first trillion barrels of oil. We’ll use the next trillion in 30. So why should you care?”

And, then, after those two great sentences, there's the diversion and reduction of the problem to "caring". Like, it's "caring" that's the problem? (As opposed to, say, "And then there will be...(drum roll) none! - oh, and we may see next-to-none well before then.")

So, it's my lack of caring that's the problem? It's not your disingenuous use of information? And "If I care, that takes care of it?"

Another ad says:
“There are 193 countries in the world. None of them are energy independent. So who’s holding whom over a barrel?”

To me, each ad became subtly worse in it's disinformation.

People who have never thought about the issue have a hard time "picking up signals" when they are not given facts; i.e. enough facts, in context.

Doh...just realized no Weekly petroleum report today. Have to wait til tomorrow.

Notice: The Weekly Petroleum Status Report will be released on Thursday, September 6, 2007 at
10:30 A.M. (Eastern Time) due to the closure of the Federal government on Monday, September 3.

Thanks for mentioning that - it's exactly what I've been scanning the thread for...

The proposed new French government 35% owned gas company story above looks like it could be a problem:

The latest entry is France, under new President Nicolas Sarkozy, which emerged Monday as 35% shareholder in the proposed merger of Gaz de France and Suez SA. The merger sets up the government of France as the most influential -- if not the controlling -- shareholder of a worldwide energy giant.

The news release announcing the merger refers to GDF Suez -- as the merged company will be called -- as being "best placed to meet ... security of energy supplies in Europe." Which is fine for France and Europe, maybe, but what does that mean for the people of New England, where GDF Suez will own and operate a liquid natural gas (LNG) terminal near Boston and supply 20% of the New England gas market. In an energy crisis, what will Mr. Sarkozy do for the people of New England? Cancel his next New Hampshire vacation, or the next shipment of LNG?

We will be competing with France for LNG. Perhaps this is an over-reaction with 35% ownership, but it is hard to see why a French company is going to look out for US interests over French interests.

If there is not enough to go around, someone is going to do without, Gail. You can allocate this via the "free market" (what a laugh!) using petro-dollars (US taxpayer future debt) or you can allocate this using some other scheme.

Given that the US petro-dollar appears to be losing traction globally, I think that gas companies might want to look at other forms of compensation and having a nice, tidy relationship with a national government might be one way to ensure that those at the top of that gas company stayed on as reasonably fat cats.

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

As with Westexas' Exportland model, I don't have a clear take on whether a country with energy to sell will be more likely to go for the income of exporting or for the 'needs of their nation' by not exporting. I suppose this goes to the individual nations, and the relationship of the public to its government.. (and the likelihood of peak Torch, Pitchfork and Guillotine) In either case, of course, the fuel will be costing plenty for whoever buys it, so being the lucky one who is getting tanks filled still puts you in greater and greater debt..

So to rephrase.. Will 'French Interests' be in keeping their Trade Balance High or their GDF at home?

Bob Fiske

Some Tropical storm news:

INVEST 99L (#1 in experimental) is already subtropical and likely to be named (#7 - Gabrielle) in the next 48hours.


Hurricane hunters will investigate TODAY. (edit: planes in the air - data back 2-230ish)

Models suggests it might make it to CAT2 before land fall.


Model tracks still early - but East coast hit likely - maybe Carolinas.


For the TOD content factor, unless it takes as WSW route across Florida, likely little effect on Oil infrastructure.

A update on this seasons intensity from Jeff Master's blog comments:

Here is a comparison to other seasons that will likely be what this year is like (all La Nina years except for 2001 which was on the cold side of neutral, excluding 1995 because that was more like 2005 but not as active; note also that the intensity of La Nina varied greatly among these seasons so the actual strength doesn't seem to matter, just the presence):

1998 - 6th storm formed on September 8th; 7th storm formed on September 15th; 14 storms, 10 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes in all

1999 - 6th storm formed on September 7th; 7th storm formed on September 11th; 12 storms, 8 hurricanes and 5 major hurricanes in all

2000 - 6th storm formed on September 10th; 7th storm formed on September 14th; 15 storms, 8 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes in all

2001 - 6th storm formed on September 7th; 7th storm formed on September 11th; 15 storms, 9 hurricanes and 4 major hurricanes in all

Notice that none of these seasons even had their 6th storm by this point and all were pretty active (while 1999 had 12 storms, near average, 5 were Cat 4s, a record only tied by 2005).

However, 2005 was far above these averages with the N storm coming by this date.


Jeff also mentions a wave coming off Africa that is expected to cause concern. He says the overall situation in terms of likely development resembles Dean. He expects TD status in 2-4 days.

Hes' been fantastic at predicting these things so far! No, really!!!

Really Partyguy! If you don't like it...skip along.

There is data associated with this information and therefore justified in posting.

If you require every prediction to have 100% predictive capability I suggest you tune out entirely...since it isn't possible - for the economy, peak oil, stock markets, currency trading, WEATHER, etc.

Just HIGHLY EDUCATED GUESSES backed by sophisticated models.

Why not try grasping the concepts of nonlinear systems and chaotic dynamics in an open system (like the weather), then maybe you will understand why his job is so hard and thankless.

And why you should appreciate the hell out of the work he does, because otherwise you'd be relying on your local weatherman who is, relative to Jeff's work, inept and incompetent.

Apparently, the poor 'weather men' at The Weather Channel have done a much better job than Jeff the Expert all year long. Sorry to burst your bubble :(

Looks like TD Felix is might carry over to the East Pacific still subtropical.

Although, at this point, redevelopment is not expected.

That looks like it could sneak up really fast on anyone in the Outer Banks that is not paying attention.

I have a rule for myself that I DO NOT plan travel to the coast during hurricane season. This is why.

Klotzbach and Gray released their updated season hurricane forecast, which calls for five more hurricanes, two being major hurricanes: http://typhoon.atmos.colostate.edu/Forecasts/2007/sep2007/sep2007.pdf

I have a quibble with how they do this, as they publish a "September" forecast on September 4. It forecasts two major hurricanes in September and one in October, yet makes no mention of major hurricane Felix, as if the forecast was made before Felix formed. This is confusing at best, and also seems a little like predicting the score of a baseball game after the second inning.

Odd methods. But it definitely looks like there may be more majors...where they strike, that is a different story.

UPDATE on 99L: Definitely a TD, maybe a TS (from Hurricane Hunter data). Will be named by 5PM NHC update most likely.

Track - still could go anywhere ie. East coast, or out to sea.

Models - latest run puts a possibility of major as well. The models are a little out of their element with this *nearly stationary* storm. So, who knows.

People on the East coast should still watch this one.

Here is another take on 99L:


Gabrielle will soon form over the western Atlantic, and it will probably turn into a big deal. The storm is developing over the bathlike waters of the Gulf Stream, plus high pressure is building to the north of the storm center. Obviously, the warm water is the main source of fuel, but why is the high so important? The answer is that it prevents the jet stream from having any adverse affects on the storm's circulation. Within a very pure environment, the storm is likely to rapidly intensify to a Category 2 or 3 hurricane by the weekend. All coastal locations from the Carolinas to Cape Cod need to be on standby for what may come roaring in this weekend.

Story by AccuWeather.com Expert Senior Meteorologist John Kocet.

Re: Matt Simmons' Meeting The Challenge

Yes, we need to talk about doing something regarding intentionally limited and/or directed oil production.

But now is not the time.

We need to have this conversation years ago, many years before the plainly inevitable geological peak we were facing. The logic was so simple a ten-year-old (non-US educated) could figure it out: we can't produce what we haven't found, we continually produce more of what we have found, and we've been continually finding less as we look in more places.

Because now if the peak is not for another few years, where does the social momentum come from to seriously address, not just discuss, the combined problems we face regarding energy and resource depletion along with overpopulation and consumption? They are all intertwined and must be addressed together. Yet overpopulation alone is a third rail that no politician will touch, to say nothing of the widespread belief in the sacred right to as many puppies as you can pump out.

And what if the peak was two years ago? Then where does the energy come from? Not just oil energy, but other types of energy which are now increasingly economically nonviable. Human energy (poor individuals and countries priced out of the market), other fossil energy (increasing development and maintenance costs), "alternative" energy (scalability costs and receding horizons). All this, again, against a backdrop of other primary resource depletion (you know, minor things like topsoil and water), and 6.7 billion people who want to eat today, and tomorrow, and next week, and want to continue having more babies.

And if you think the Chinese have cornered the market regarding population management techniques, think again.

Year: Chinese Population
1851: 430m
1950: 555m
1995: 1222m
2007: 1319m

So, am I missing something here? Oh yes, I forgot climate change (needing to manage global warming and dimming), and mass extinctions up and down the food chain.

Anyone have an idea about how to manage this complexity?

Or, should we just follow history, and assume that someone else will address the rest of the problem and we just need to focus on our little area, energy depletion, disregarding that this approach has led us to where we are now?

Or, is this problem insoluble to our collective satisfaction?

hello 710

from the text-

…. where does the social momentum come from to seriously address, not just discuss, the combined problems we face regarding energy and resource depletion…..

Is psycology maybe our problem here ?

-I think the human mind works along the lines of what is reality today - will also apply tomorrow !

-NEW REALITIES has to be proven beyond reasonable doubt - before realization is sinking in - EVEN THOUGH nature itself works along 'rigid and fixed procedures'

-Nature can be 'revealed' by science, if science is putting a hard effort on the issues in question....

Big Q :Is science doing this well enough OR ARE THE CHANGES NEEDED TO BE OBSERVED GOING TO SLOWLY and/or camouflaged by other factors?

I don’t know, BUT I think we just have to sit still and wait

The human concept of time is purely evolutionary, those who could prepare for the near future survived better than those who lived for the day (think the lazy mouse and the industrious mouse) but we only needed to survive for 15 years to produce offspring, but as our brains evolved more we began to be able to imagine much greater periods of time till now some can cope with really big and really small numbers and perceptions of size and time. The world is a hugly chaotic system with millions of factors affecting it, we seem to be affecting more of these factors and in a stronger way.

How about ostriches as pets/transport of the future, would keep up with bikes, maybe fit it with powerizers for that bit of extra speed :)

I posted a note a few days ago about what I anticipate will be massive efforts at debt repudiation, by heavily indebted consumers, who simply give up on trying to repay their debts--aided in the decision by 33% penalty interest rates on credit cards. Following is an headline from The Housing Bubble Blog:

‘Everyone who bought in ’05 and ’06 is just walking.’”
The News Press from Florida. “Mortgage foreclosures in Lee County continued to rise in August while building permits fell to their lowest level since November 1981, according to statistics released this week.”

“Foreclosures are ’still an upward trend,’ said mortgage broker Jeff Tumbarello, who tracks the local foreclosure market. ‘It’s hard to know what to think of it until it hits the top. How many more can we have?’”

“He noted that they’re mainly recently bought properties that the owners, many of them speculators, are letting go of because they no longer make sense as an investment. ‘Everyone who bought in ’05 and ’06 is just walking.’”

Hello WT,

If this sad news is prevalent across the US, then a bunch of civil rights lawyers and/or class-action lawsuit specialists will have a field day going after these 'predatory' subprime mortgage lenders that practiced discrimination:

ACORN study: Loan disparities found in valley

Latinos and African-Americans who bought homes or refinanced mortgages in the San Jose metropolitan area last year were much more likely than white borrowers to get subprime loans, according to a study scheduled for release today.

In its annual survey based on federally collected data, this year titled "Foreclosure Exposure," community activism group ACORN said 47 percent of Latinos who got mortgages to buy homes in Santa Clara and San Benito counties in 2006 received "high cost" loans that the group considers to be synonymous with "subprime." Nearly 32 percent of African-American borrowers buying homes got high-cost loans, while only 8.5 percent of white borrowers did.

The trend is the same for those who refinanced loans - Latinos and African-Americans got subprime loans 23.5 percent and 22.8 percent of the time, respectively, compared with 9.4 percent among white borrowers.

"The racial disparity persists even among borrowers of the same income level," the report's authors wrote. Upper-income Latinos and African-Americans were more than five times as likely to get high-cost loans than upper-income whites, the study said. Upper-income borrowers were those with income of at least 120 percent of their area's median income.
What a damn shame! I hope these subprime CEOs get the book thrown at them: confiscate their wealth plus prison time.

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

Merril Lynch is bearish on America. They predicted lower banking earnings and forecast the likelihood of a recession is 60%:


In the summer of 2006 George Soros predicted a recession was likely to occur in the second half of 2007.

The 2007 summer driving season is over.

Saudi Arabian domestic oil consumption grew 6% in 2006.


Global growing problem of wheat production

The soaring price of wheat is not an isolated phenomenon. All around the agricultural markets prices are rising. Corn doubled last year, while the price of soybeans is more than 50pc higher than it was 12 months ago.

In a time-lagged rerun of the explosive growth in the price of energy and metals earlier in the decade, crops are fuelling a surge in food prices that's picked up the ugly, but inevitable, tag "agflation".

If food prices are really on the move again, history suggests we should be worried. Prices have tended to move in long cycles driven by extended periods of mismatched supply and demand.

In inflation-adjusted terms, the price of wheat has been falling in more or less a straight line since the First World War, as high-tech production kept one step ahead of rising demand. If the balance has shifted again, we could be in for a long and painful adjustment.

If the demand side looks stretched, the supply picture is not much brighter. According to Diapason, most good-quality agricultural land is already in production. What's worse, about 35pc of that land has been seriously damaged by the intensive agriculture practised since the Second World War.

Humus, the fertile part of soil, takes up to 500 years to regenerate, too long for an impatient world. Perhaps 30pc of all agricultural land could be unusable within 15 years, it has been estimated.

That means that the "green revolution" of the 1970s and 1980s, which saw yields soar, is over. Between 1970 and 2000 the world's deserts expanded by 160m hectares - an area about equal in size to seven Great Britains.

The area of wheat and barley cultivated around the world has been in decline for 25 years. With stocks of key commodities heading for generational lows, there is no longer any slack in the system and prices look certain to rise further.

I meant to put a separate post up today on wheat, you beat me to it. I'll add it here.

Wheat is racing above $8.25 on the CBOT today, and a number of top posts yesterday once again failed to mention population as the cause of climbing food prices.

September forecast US wheat production (USDA) this year is 2,114 million bushels, up 302 million bu from last year's crop. Corn forecast is 13,054 mil bu, up from 10,534 mill bu in 2006. Ethanol is believed to have consumed around 2,000 mil bu, not quite the forecast increase of the 2007 US crop. Both wheat and esp corn have higher planted acreages.

Wheat prices are increasing due to drought in Australia and Argentina, both major exporters, and to crop problems in Russia. Wheat is not used for ethanol, though it may be impacted by some grain substitution due to ethanol. The central problem remains population, when our world grain stockpiles have vanished, to less than 50 days last winter.

Wheat is racing above $8.25 on the CBOT today

This up from $3 in Jan 2006 and $5 a year ago. Serious.

Dieoff ... for others.

You know this has been discussed - if the hammer is going to fall, let it fall $ELSEWHERE. If we can encourage its landing away from us by turning corn to fuel for a few years its financially and politically cheaper than putting in the work involved with a proper genocide.

That stuff is going to get all over is obvious, but all we need is a little mindfulness directed towards the problem and we could really take a good deal of the sting out of it. Won't happen, but I'm just sayin' ...

Does that worry anyone else?

China is aiming for 30GW of wind by 2020.

Anyone got information about large scale CSP projects in the pipeline?

The media parading, disjointed politics
Founded on petrochemical plunder, and were its hostages
If you stand to reason youre in the game
The rules might be elusive but our pieces are the same
And you know if one goes down we all go down as well
The balance is precarious as anyone can tell
This worlds going to hell

Bad Religion - Kyoto Now

I have to say if you're the tinfoil hat type this has to fuel your thoughts... missing nukes - someone noticed them missing so they are tracked down to an accidental stocking of a plane on a run over the US. Is it possible they wouldn't have been noticed going missing?
When no-one around you understands
start your own revolution
and cut out the middle man


Although I usually walk to work, I go up weveral flights of stairs to my office through a staircase that is on an exterior corner of a parking garage. At the entry level there is an electric heater which has remained on all summer despite temperatures in the high 80's to mid 90's for the last two months. I've called maintenance about this twice and stopped another maintenance guy in the hallway once, yet no one has turned the thing off. It looks like a one minute job with a screwdriver is needed to get at the controls. I'd guess it's costing the facility a few dollars a day to run this thing needlessly and the cost of electricity relative to other costs is not yet high enough yet to be a priority to them. Really the staircase doesn't need a heater at all even in the winter. As far as I can tell, I'm the only person who actually uses the staircase, all the other obese and lazy people who work here take the elevators.

The thing I really love is the electric heater under the secretary's desk that is heating the air that the a/c has cooled because the heater has heated it because the a/c has cooled it because the heater has heated it because the a/c has cooled it.

''I've called maintenance about this twice and stopped another maintenance guy in the hallway once, yet no one has turned the thing off. It looks like a one minute job with a screwdriver is needed to get at the controls. ''


Why didnt he just screw the plate off and disconnect the terminals himself?

Truly, we are doomed

Dorme Bien

Gee whiz wisenheimer, thanks for reminding me why I haven't posted on TOD in a while. A simple comment gets slammed by someone who doesn't know half the story and I'm cited as evidence that "we are doomed".

I was trying to exclude superfluous details and keep the post short but if you really want to know the rest of the story, the plate has some of those non-standard screw heads that they use in public buildings. I thought I had the right screw tip in a kit somewhere but it turns out it didn't fit. For all I know, there are no controls under that plate anyway, I'm just guessing. It might be controlled centrally with the other heaters in the other stairwells. The other part of the story is that the first time I called in early June it was still getting cold at night. The maintenance guys told me they keep it on at that time of year for the homeless people who sleep in it at night. There are homeless people in this stairwell sometimes so I didn't make a fuss at that time but I thought by late june/ early july they would have addressed it. Now that it's sept. it's getting down to the 50's again at night and I'm willing to put up with a hot stairwell at 7 in the morning if it helps out some homeless people, but still I'd think it could have been off entirely in July/Aug/Sept when it never goes below the low 60's here. My point is that if energy was more expensive they would fix the problem (homeless people or not), or at least install a $20 thermostat that kicks in to keep the temp over 60 degrees F or something like that.

Et ouais, je dors tres bien, merci.

Sorry to have p*ssed you off. - it was half in jest...

The have about we are all doomed wasnt though :-(

BTY What / who is a wisenheimer?

OK, truce. sorry to respond so strongly. Wisenheimer means the same thing as "wise guy".

I feel your pain. I'm a partner with a lighting consultancy and I work hard to reduce my client's energy needs to the greatest extent possible, short of handing out candles (I abhor waste of any kind, but I'm especially fanatical when it comes to electricity). On one project, I stumbled across a three phase, 45-kW electric water tank that supplies hot water to an executive washroom! When I suggested to the facilities manager that replacing it with a small, 120-volt, 1.5-kW tank would save the company some $5,000.00 a year in demand charges alone, I was politely told to stick my T8 tubes where the sun don't shine.


But, but, they need all that hot water for the hot tub!!!

E. Swanson

He.. he... no, not quite that Dilbertesque (but close). At one time, this tank also served the plant cafeteria, located on the floor below. The kitchen facilities were closed years ago, replaced by a wall of vending machines, so now it serves just the second floor washrooms. A 20 gallon, 1.5 kW tank could easily supply a few hand sinks and, in the process, they could eliminate 43.5 kW of needless load -- at $8.60 per kW, per month, the savings in demand charges come to $4,489.20/year ($5,117.69 with HST). Their "who gives a ####?" attitude?.... Priceless.

Here's some cellulosic Ethanol news:

Poplar Trees Could Be Next Hot Ethanol Source

There's not a lot of info there, but here is the press release from WSU and here is some info from ZeaChem, the company with the technology:

The biochemical processing step converts fermentable sugars in the cellulosic biomass into acetate, which is then recovered from the broth as an ester. The thermochemical processing step converts lignin and other non-fermentable materials in the cellulosic biomass into hydrogen. By combining these two streams in a hydrogenolysis reaction, ZeaChem produces ethanol. Unlike other processes, the Zeachem process uses all fractions of the plant - cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin, giving it much higher yield.

Our approach allows both fermentable and non-fermentable fractions of the feedstock to contribute chemical energy to the ethanol product. Other approaches have theoretical restrictions that limit ethanol production to 60-100 gallons per dry ton of biomass. The ZeaChem technology will produce fifty percent more ethanol per ton of feed than the current best-in-class technology. Our higher yield dramatically improves process economics, allowing farmers to get more ethanol out of each acre of biomass crop.

Because the yield is so much higher and because energy integration is tighter, the ZeaChem process is friendlier to the environment. Ethanol produced by corn dry milling in the US has a net energy ratio of under 1.6, meaning that fewer than 1.6 units of renewable energy are produced for each unit of fossil energy used in the production the crops and conversion of the crops into fuel ethanol. In contrast, the ZeaChem technology enables a net energy ratio of 10-12. Such high values fundamentally change the nature of any policy debate on the environmental aspects of ethanol as a liquid transportation fuel.

The biochemical processing step can ferment any fermentable sugar, including simple sugars like those found in sugar cane juice, more complex sugars found in corn starch, and the mixed sugars commonly found in cellulosic hydrolyzates. Any material that isn't readily fermented, such as lignin, can be processed via thermochemical means to produce hydrogen. The result is that the ZeaChem technology is highly flexibile and can be implemented anywhere in the world.

There are many fast growing trees, but using them for biomass CHP systems is a far better use, they can be harvested every few years, and then chipped and dried (solar wood chip drier anyone?) A combination of willows and nettles properly managed can deal with human waste (see treebogs) This could be a community sized scheme with small chp systems attached to blocks of energy efficient housing, using passive heat recovery ventialation. The area could grow food and keep animals around a wind farm. With the information technology we have many jobs can be carried out from far away, with minimal transport required.

The less we use the less we need


But in North Brentwood and other small municipalities in northern Prince George's County, mansionization comes with a twist: Some of the new homes, neighbors and town leaders say, are being used as boardinghouses for several families or unrelated people. Some are college students from the University of Maryland. Others appear to be immigrants

Hmm, where have I heard someone predict this?

Though i somewhat believe in what WT and others in TOD writes, i feel it rather peculiar that everything is normal. Gasoline prices here in Sweden are lower than a year ago. Are you TODER:s doomers?

Anyway i do not read TOD so much everyday as i used to do before. It was kind of depressing. Nowadays i only check in to look what the topic is.

i feel it rather peculiar that everything is normal. Gasoline prices here in Sweden are lower than a year ago.

It is quite understandable that you are suffering from cognitive dissonance.

One part of your brain is telling you that everything you see on the streets looks "normal". There are no zombies or outer space aliens running around eating live human flesh. The gasoline stations are still in business and selling the stuff at the "normal" prices. No one is panicking.

The other part of your brain is telling you that the Hubbert Linearization method has to be about right. The same behavior is seen in one major oil field after another. How can the globe escape the fate of its finite number of parts?

So you have two "models" of the world running in your head and they are clashing with each other.

Something in your head tells you one of the models "must" be wrong.

One of the models in your head is wrong.

It is the one that tells you "Price" indicates how scarce and valuable something is.

Not true.

Price is an artificial number made up by people. Just because the mob values something highly/lowly and assigns a large/small price to that something does not make the mob right.

Remember, in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is deemed crazy and probably feels that way.

One part of your brain is telling you that everything you see on the streets looks "normal"

I do not "suffer" from that problem in New Orleans. Would that I did.


"So you have two "models" of the world running in your head and they are clashhing with each other."

You are spot on, though the HL model overweights the sunny model, so i have since three years made the ELP preps.

Anyway i do not read TOD so much everyday as i used to do before. It was kind of depressing.

Many of us feel the same way.

Sometimes I will avoid TOD for a couple of days and go back to live in the "normal" happy world.

But then every so often, a left over piece of the Red Pill (from the movie, The Matrix) dislodges into my blood stream and I see the MSM for what it is, a cleverly packaged illusion. Then I feel an urge to locate a public telephone and dial the TOD number again.

Don't let it depress you. There is only so much one person can do.

...I see the MSM for what it is, a cleverly packaged illusion...

Joe Bageant did a great one on the Illusion the MSM creates for us. He likened it to a holigram. Great read as always from Joe.

The Great American Media Mind Warp

Through advertising and marketing, the hologram combs the fields of instinct and human desire, arranging our wants and fears in the direction of commodities or institutions. No longer are advertising and marketing merely propaganda, which is all but dead. Digitally mediated brain experience now works far below the crude propaganda zone of influence, deep in the swamps of the limbic brain, reengineering and reshaping the realms of subjective human experience.

Yet we are the hologram, because we created it. In a relentlessly cycling feedback loop, we create and project the hologram out of our collective national psyche. The hologram in turn manages our collective psyche by regulating our terrors, cravings and neurological passions through the production of wars, whores, politics, profits and manna. Like legions of locusts, we pray before its productive engines of commerce and under the shifting aurora borealis of the hologram's drama and spectacle. It is us. We are it. The psychology of the individual becomes irrelevant as the swarm relentlessly devours the earth.


For some time now I have been deliberately insulating myself as much as I can from US popular culture & the MSM. I limit my television viewing to PBS & C-SPAN. I only listen to NPR and the BBC World Service. I rarely watch motion pictures. I listen to classical music recordings. Except for the Economist, I don't read magazines. I am selective in my internet viewing, focusing mainly on high-quality alternative news sites like TOD. I read serious books from the local public library branch, about 1 every 1-2 weeks on average.

The longer I run this experiment, the more out of step I feel I am with the maintream of American culture. That mainstream culture, and those within it, are appearing to be stranger and stranger to me. I guess I am seeing Americans a little more as people from foreign countries might see us. I am certain it is helping me to see things and to think more clearly. It does help one's efforts to simplify one's life and live more frugally to not be constantly bombarded by advertisements to buy junk I don't need.

I commend my little experiment to others. It can really open your eyes and your mind after a while.

I am certain it is helping me to see things and to think more clearly.

On reading your post I realized I am performing a similar experiment. I also feel out of step with the surrounding society and constantly feel puzzled why it is that the populace does not make stronger reaction to obvious falsehoods, poor thinking, and complete lack of logic.

I suspect that the "public" does not have time to think. They are simply accepting of whatever information the MSM provides. When you look at issues such as the Iraq war, the current sub-prime mess, the problems associated with Peak Oil, it is clear that the "conventional wisdom" contributes to the problem rather than generating a debate leading to any positive resolution or response. I think it noteworthy that TOD was started by teachers, not media types.

This thread and above comments by Step Back on cognitive dissonance and past posts by Nat Hagens on how we discount the future are really excellent threads. I wish I had more time right now to get this across coherently.

I agree with the statement

"I suspect that the "public" does not have time to think."

In the US, that's it right there. In an ever increasingly complex society, in order to provide for whatever each of our daily needs are (financial, family, job, heck just staying alive), we need to specialize and focus, and given limited capacity, something goes.

So we delegate our thinking on virtually all matters not in our direct line of sight to someone else. Understanding the merits of multiple sides of a debate is enormously difficult for most people; they want the bottom one-liner. The good ole Fourth Estate has been crowded out by any and everything even remotely considered information that can be delivered to your door, so to speak. And of course it's what sells that matters.

Virtually no responsibility is taken. We blame the MSM, Congress, the jerks running the White House, everyone but ourselves. Really bad choices at the national level barely touches the everyday life of most Americans, because there's no apparent cost, no need to be drawn from one's daily routine.

For those interested, if you can work with that, some positive change may occur.

FWIW, here's Al Gore quoted a few days ago by Harvard Alumni magazine

...where President Bush and Cheney are concerned. Not much surprises me anymore. I have a lot of friends who share the following problem with me: Our sense of outrage is so saturated that when a new outrage occurs, we have to download some existing outrage into an external hard drive in order to make room for a new outrage.

Hi John,

... In an ever increasingly complex society, in order to provide for whatever each of our daily needs are (financial, family, job, heck just staying alive), we need to specialize and focus, and given limited capacity, something goes.

So we delegate our thinking on virtually all matters not in our direct line of sight to someone else....

I referenced this series in another thread, but I think James Burke expresses this point well.



Tnanks for the link, Bob. Watched the first 5 parts of episode 1. Nine to go. I love these kinds of shows, but try never to 'believe' the connections. Okay, may some. Great vintage late-70's scenes, and Burke's work has held up well over 30 years.

Hi John,

James Burke has an amazing gift for conveying his message in ways easily understood by all. I've probably watched this series a dozen times over the years and I still find it spellbinding.

For media coverage of the Great Blackout of '65 here in Canada, see:


This is a power outage I won't personally forget:



Virtually no responsibility is taken. We blame the MSM, Congress, the jerks running the White House, everyone but ourselves. Really bad choices at the national level barely touches the everyday life of most Americans, because there's no apparent cost, no need to be drawn from one's daily routine.

So when the cost does become apparent, through rising FF prices, or a sub-prime meltdown, or irresponsible warmongering that creates blowback, there is a level of reaction that threatens the entire unsustainable system.

My hunch is that this leads directly to facism, to a demand that the trains be made to run on time. I see no means to avoid this fate. If you see an alternate response I would be curious to hear of it.

With regards cognitive dissonance this term describes a situation where the subject attempts to hold two contrasting, or contradictory, perspectives at the same time. It is through cognitive dissonance that we realize the need to re-conceptualize our position. In the circumstance that provoked this thread it is precisely the lack of cognitive dissonance that the problem arises and persists.

Nate Hagen has been describing a set of time preferences. Again, the issue we raise here is beyond the simple issue of time preferences. It is more the fact that our social organization requires that we surrender key aspects of our human capacities and place greater reliance on surrogates.

Would be great if Nate or other contributor might develop a post on this issue. I suspect the psycho-social aspects of PO are critical to invoking a response. It is not just a matter of innovation as Homer_Dixon writes but how to prick the social bubble before it is burst by the press of events.

Good thread. Cheers!

Perhaps another forum where these subjects may arise. Then again, maybe not:


November 7 – 9, 2007
Sacramento, California

Convened by
California Institute for Energy and Environment

I currently subscribe more to the camp that was discussed in yesterday's where I have a kind of dual vision of the world. There's my inner view, the one supported and enhanced by sites like TOD, and the external view, the one that sees and reacts to things along the conventional lines.


A year ago, the refineries you rely on were sending gasoline to the United States. That is no longer the case. SO now you get lower prices.

For now.

Hi Swede,

Here in France also most of the year prices of Gasoline were lower than last year (a bit). However with crude staying above 70$/b on the Nymex and the €/$ remaining at more or less 1.35-1.36, prices of finished products remain at a high level while last year in September they plunged. But they are 80-100% higher than in 2002.

In Europe consumption of gasoline decreases slightly or remains even. It seems that people drive less for recreationnal purposes which is very clear in France. However transport of goods per road increases heavily, commuting is also increasing as people move from expensive cities to much cheaper suburbs or even land.

The population in France increases steadily. This means that those who drive more or the same as 4 years ago do this at the expense of others who drive less or who have stopped driving (if people had kept driving in the same proportions as 4 years ago, we would deal with 10$/gal gasoline in my opinion).

In France, poverty used to be visible. We had "clochards", homeless people, beggars, annoying tourists, shocking well-thinking and good meaning middle class hysterics. But in France, like in other countries, politics have become masters in hiding the increasing poor population to the rest of the tax-paying consumers.

Last winter people were shocked by a hoard of poor people sleeping in tents in city parks, on the bords of the marne or on other visible places. This was organized by leftist parties and unions and was quickly undermined by hollow "action plans" forged by politicians. They succeeded once again to hide this population which continues to exist. Politicians are so eager to make them disapear that they consider the use of chemical repellants to chase the homeless from the centers of some towns.

I have already made some case reports on this site. I don't know about Sweden. There are sadly no real statistics about the phenomenon of increasing poverty in France but I know the reality in (and mostly around) my town.

Yes we don't see it, everything seems normal. We continue to feel comfortable. But silently, not far from us, the ugly specter of misery broadens its wings.

Is it possible that given our unstable market conditions, gas prices are being manipulated to keep them low? What would the effect be on the market if gas was priced as it should be based on supply and demand. I'm no expert, but it seems that this might a wild card that the PTB don't want right now.

Well I'm certainly no conspiracy freak but, regardless of the MOL or days of supply or hours of supply, the price of gasoline is not behaving normally in relation to the price of crude. In the past, when crude went up, gasoline always went up. With crude at or near record levels, that has not happened with gasoline this time. The only explanation is that someone is showing price restraint. I don't know why, perhaps others here do. Two possibilities come to mind: prices are restrained because of past accusations of price gouging and unsavory practices and this is not a good time to repeat that behavior. Or, the PTB are commanding price restraint because of the vulnerability of the economy.
Whatever the reason, the lack of gasoline price increases definitely feels unnatural even in relation to crude prices, let alone in relation to razor thin inventory levels of supply.


U.S. job cuts soar 85%

U.S. planned job cuts soared 85 per cent in August from July as mortgage lenders buckled, a U.S. consultancy said Wednesday. Almost half of the month's 79,459 cuts came from financial firms, Chicago-based Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. said in its monthly tally.

Cuts in the financial services sector hit a record as a barrage of mortgage and subprime lenders collapsed amid a sinking housing market. More ominous news landed Wednesday with an ADP report showing employment in the U.S. private sector rose by just 38,000 in August — the weakest showing in four years.

“What had been a relatively small number of job cuts [in July] suddenly turned into a deluge in August as financial institutions literally shut down operations overnight,” said John Challenger, the company's chief executive, in a report.

Job cuts had fallen to a one-year low in July before surging in August. The dramatic cut backs, and an expected slowdown in U.S. consumer spending, will likely persuade the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates at its Sept. 18 meeting. In Canada, the central bank, as widely expected, stood pat on interest rates on Wednesday.

U.S. financial firms cut 35,752 job cuts in August, the highest level for the industry since Challenger began its tracking in 1993. Overall, the sector is on track to surpass the previous annual record of 116,515 set in 2001. Among financial cuts, 86 per cent were in the mortgage and subprime lending area.

“We have not seen such a rapid descent since the airlines shed thousands of workers in the wake of September 11,” Mr. Challenger said. “It is too soon to tell if this is going to be a quick burst of job cutting like the post-9/11 airline cuts or if it will mimic the dot.com collapse that played out over several months in 2000 and 2001.”

He expects the cuts to be “just the beginning” because more than 2.9 million Americans work in credit intermediation and related activities.


You cannot have both sides of an issue. If you argue that Americans use too much credit, which is increasing out of control, you cannot argue for massive job cuts for Americans that work in credit intermediation and related activities.

Pacific, Atlantic storms set a new record

Felix and Henriette made hurricane history Tuesday.

Eight hours after Felix roared into Central America, Henriette slammed into the resort-studded tip of the Baja California peninsula.

Never before had an Atlantic and a Pacific hurricane made landfall on the same date.

It also was the first time on record that two Category 5 Atlantic hurricanes made landfall in the same year, with Felix hitting two weeks after monstrous Hurricane Dean plowed into southern Mexico.

Felix is the 31st Category 5 hurricane seen in the Atlantic since record-keeping began in 1886 - and the eighth in the last five seasons.

The fun really started in 2003 ...


Oh, I gotta love the hydrogen shills, Technical Issues Stall Hydrogen Vehicles:

Because hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, there is basically an inexhaustible supply.

Right, let's send a really big spaceship to Jupiter and scoop some up. While we're at it, let's also harvest solar neutrinos, they are an appreciable fraction of solar output and they pass by even at night when conventional solar equipment goes dead.

When someone says "Because hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, there is basically an inexhaustible supply" you know they are clueless about how that same universe actually operates, and can disregard whatever they might say about hydrogen as energy source, or anything else probably. Because they are f***ing morons.

For that matter, I have heard it said that there is an overabundance of CO2 in the atmosphere, causing some sort of climate difficulties - perhaps you have heard something like this as well. And... there is plenty of H20. I just had a thought! If we combine them, we can make a virtually infinite supply of hydrocarbons! And, the beauty of it is, as you burn it, you simply put more CO2 and H2O back into the atmosphere to continue the cycle! Yippee! Peak Oil AND Global Warming averted! Forever and ever! Amen!

If you are on your way to Jupiter, could you please swing by Saturn's moon Titan while you are at it and scoop up enough liquid hydrocarbons to put off this "Peak Oil" thingy for a few decades? Oh, and take some of that surplus CO2 with you on the way out!


From the WaPo via the Energy Bulletin:


The psychological insights yielded by the research, which has been confirmed in a number of peer-reviewed laboratory experiments, have broad implications for public policy. The conventional response to myths and urban legends is to counter bad information with accurate information. But the new psychological studies show that denials and clarifications, for all their intuitive appeal, can paradoxically contribute to the resiliency of popular myths.

This phenomenon may help explain why large numbers of Americans incorrectly think that Saddam Hussein was directly involved in planning the Sept 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and that most of the Sept. 11 hijackers were Iraqi. While these beliefs likely arose because Bush administration officials have repeatedly tried to connect Iraq with Sept. 11, the experiments suggest that intelligence reports and other efforts to debunk this account may in fact help keep it alive.

...The research does not absolve those who are responsible for promoting myths in the first place. What the psychological studies highlight, however, is the potential paradox in trying to fight bad information with good information.

The challenge to produce hydrogen without using more energy than you get back is not a "technical problem." It is a property of nature, allied with the second law of thermodynamics. All of the hydrogen on earth is tied up in the form of compounds. If you want to break the H from H2O, you have to put in the energy that binds the atoms together in the water molecule, plus a bit more, because the reaction is not ideally reversible. When you combine the H with O to get energy plus water, you get back a bit less than the original energy cost. So the "technical problem" simply gets back to the only two really big questions: "Where do we get energy from when the fossil fuels run out?" and "How do we even use the remaining fossil fuels without destroying life on the planet?" The "Hydrogen Economy" is a pipe dream that just lets us put off even further the crucial decisions on re-balancing our energy resource use, planet-wide.

Possible Storm

WONT41 KNHC 072106
505 PM EDT FRI SEP 07 2007