DrumBeat: September 22, 2007

$80 oil price no fluke to analysts

Michael Economides, an oil expert at the University of Houston, said the market has become largely desensitized to upward movement.

Also, politically volatile yet oil-rich countries that have squeezed foreign access to their resources, like Venezuela and Russia, could restrict access further to maintain high oil prices, he said.

"The price of oil is on its way to $100. I am convinced," Economides said.

OPEC sees oil prices offsetting weak dollar

The surge in oil prices to record highs will shield OPEC nations, some of which peg their currencies to the US dollar, from current dollar weakness, a Saudi newspaper quoted OPEC sources as saying on Saturday.

Mexico Ruling Party Rejects Dialogue with Guerrillas

The president of the Mexican Senate rejected on behalf of the governing rightist National Action Party a proposal that the legislature should initiate a dialogue with a guerrilla group that bombed fuel pipelines to press for the safe return of two comrades the rebels say are in government hands.

Gas prices hit rock bottom for utilities

It was like buying a $400 iPhone for $4, or a Big Mac for 3 cents. Colorado Springs Utilities hit on a unique bonanza this week when events converged to sink natural gas prices to the lowest point in a generation.

Gas, which normally trades at $3 to $4 per million British thermal units (MMBtus) this time of year, sold for 2.6 cents starting Monday. An average home uses about 430 MMBtus per year.

“In my lifetime, I don’t remember ever seeing anything like that,” Utilities CEO Jerry Forte told the Utilities board on Wednesday. “Gas was sold for whatever you wanted to pay for it.”

Meeting the Challenge Matt Simmons: Fix Energy Infrastructure before the ‘Bridge Collapses’ (Part 5 of 6)

Much as the world was riveted by the recent collapse of a highway bridge in the U.S. state of Minnesota, Matthew Simmons fears it may soon be riveted by an energy pipeline or refinery disaster.

Simmons, one of the critical thinkers whose innovative ideas form the basis of EnergyTechStocks.com’s new series on how to meet the challenge of rising global energy demand, said the United States needs to wake up – and fast – to the fact that much of its energy infrastructure is in as bad shape as many of its bridges.

Meeting the Challenge Matt Simmons: Save U.S. Agriculture; Cut Corn-based Ethanol Production (Part 6 of 6)

The corn-based ethanol industry is a disaster in the making and it must be reined in before it causes major damage to the farm industry.

Iran exhibits homemade weapons in show of force

Iran showed off homemade armaments today at annual army celebrations meant to highlight the oil-rich nation's military self-sufficiency and prowess in the face of international sanctions and U.S. hostility.

Russia says it will invest more oil wealth in its economy

The Russian government said Friday that it would invest more of its oil wealth directly into the economy, mainly in infrastructure, as it sought to maintain its longest expansion since the fall of the Soviet Union.

Saudi foreign assets soaring

Rising oil prices are continuing to support Saudi Arabia’s foreign asset accumulation, according to published reports.

The Arab News, citing SABB’s Q4-2007 report, said Saudi Arabia’s foreign assets in the hands of Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency would break the SR1 trillion mark as of 2007, having grown by SR16.17 billion per month on average so far this year, which could support any future pressure which might be exerted on the Saudi riyal.

1,000 leading Chinese enterprises ordered to meet global energy standards

Under the program, China's 1,000 largest domestic enterprises are required to meet global energy efficiency requirements and take the lead in the field domestically as part of the country's endeavors to reduce energy consumption.

Weekly Offshore Rig Review: Construction Conscious

We recently spent some time examining the relative ages of the different segments of the offshore rig fleet by type and by manager. As an extension of that information, this week's offshore rig review focuses on the construction trends and costs that have shaped the competitive rig fleet over that last 30 years and those that are shaping it today.

StratFor’s Friedman: Iran Gets Iraqi Oil; U.S. Creates Korea-like Demilitarized Zone to Protect Saudi Oil

As U.S. Gen. David Patraeus makes the rounds of Washington reporting on the status of the Iraq war, here’s a startling forecast of the political and energy future for that crucial region of the world from George Friedman, noted political scientist and head of the private intelligence firm Stratfor.

Friedman told EnergyTechStocks.com that he anticipates the U.S. will withdraw its troops from Iraq, sending some home but redeploying others in a newly-created demilitarized zone (DMZ) along the border between Iraq and Saudi Arabia, just inside Iraq. The purpose of this DMZ, which would stretch down into a big U.S. base in Kuwait, would be to protect Saudi Arabia – and its oilfields – from any attempt by Iran to exert political or possibly even military influence over the Saudis.

Nightmare of high oil prices

Throw away all those theories and formulas. Even the mighty OPEC is baffled by the continued record-breaking rises in oil prices, even as it insists that its little black book says there is enough oil being pumped out of the ground to cover what is being consumed by the world’s economies.

Nuclear energy to be key in low-carbon energy policy: Brussels

Nuclear power will remain a key element as the world seeks to move toward low carbon energy, the European Commission said Friday, announcing a new forum for nuclear energy research.

China to Tap Global Uranium for Nuclear Expansion

China plans to tap the global uranium market to feed the rapid expansion of its nuclear power sector, a top economic planner said on Thursday, although strong demand for the metal has pushed prices above historical levels.

Alaron Analyst Phil Flynn: Within 5 Years, Oil Will be $120 a barrel, Gas in U.S. Will sell for $5.50 a gallon (Part 1 of 3)

Flynn sees the price of oil rising to $120 a barrel and gasoline in the United States selling for $5.50 a gallon within five years, as commodity markets respond to the historic and ongoing global increase in oil demand being fuelled largely by China. “Even the International Energy Agency can’t keep up with demand. I don’t think China knows itself” how fast its need for oil is growing, Flynn said.

Phil Flynn: Hey, Uncle Sam – Stop Picking on Big Oil! (Part 2 of 3)

Noted energy analyst Phil Flynn of Alaron Trading is certain that America’s energy problems are best solved by letting markets work without government interference. But if government simply must butt in, Flynn says the worst thing it could do is what many in Washington seem inclined to do: punish the oil industry through higher taxes.

BP Returning to Normal Operations in Gulf After Storm Passes

BP Plc, Europe's second-largest oil company, said it was returning to normal operations in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico after evacuating personnel who were under threat of a potentially dangerous storm.

$80 Oil Boosts Service Cos' Stocks, But No Milestone

Although $40 oil ushered in an era of skyrocketing project costs in 2004 and $60 oil turned a rig shortage into a famine a year later, $80 oil isn't likely to have the same transformative effect.

Recycling wind turbines

The development of wind power promises much in terms of providing us with renewable energy for the future and wind turbines could be the most effective way to harness that power. Danish researchers now suggest that in order to assess the overall environmental impact of wind power, however, the finite lifespan of wind turbines and the need to replace and recycle them must be taken into account. Such an assessment will help policy makers and the industry to develop the green credentials of wind power more effectively.

Canada: Losing Water Through NAFTA

Under the North American Free Trade Agreement, Canada lost control over its energy resources. Now, with "NAFTA-plus", it could also lose control over its freshwater resources, say experts.

...Under NAFTA rules, Canada cannot reduce its energy exports to the United States, according to Gordon Laxer, director of the Parkland Institute, a research network at the University of Alberta. "The U.S. is the most energy wasteful nation on Earth. And Canada is sacrificing its environment to feed America's addiction to oil," Laxer said in an interview.

"Respected energy analyst Matthew Simmons told me Canada should stop furthering the U.S. addiction to liquid fuels and make it illegal to use fresh water in tar sands," said Nikiforuk.

Rapeseed biofuel ‘produces more greenhouse gas than oil or petrol’

A renewable energy source designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is contributing more to global warming than fossil fuels, a study suggests.

Uganda: Forecast for 2008 - Famine, Floods, Fear And Fighting

At the beginning of August as the rainy season started, the United Nations' Food and Agricultural Organisation, in a report, spoke optimistically about the prospects for a good food harvest in several countries of West Africa.

Sure enough the rain came. But this was not rain. It was something maniacal. When you start getting 12 inches of rain in a week, it becomes the worst of nightmares. In this case, they are worst nightmares in living memory for Africa.

Kenya: Anger Over Petrol Pump Price Increase

The Motorists Association of Kenya is against this week's increases in petrol pump prices.

...Speaking to The Standard, the association's chairman, Mr Peter Murima said if the global prices were to determine the local prices, it should be reflected in the local pumps when the prices come down.

Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd to create movie halls at petrol pumps

Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) has launched a pilot project to construct cinema halls at its petrol pumps along national highways, as part of a strategy to derive 30 per cent of its revenues from non-fuel sales.

...Says George Paul, general manager, says that gradually, BPCL's petrol pumps are becoming happening places, and the company needs to leverage its customers for non-fuel revenues, which offset a large degree of risk that arises from government administered fuel prices which are later compensated by the ministry through issue of oil bonds.

Dominican Republic: Gas prices on the up

The Industry and Commerce Ministry has announced new increases in fuel prices as a result of the high oil prices on the international market.

Dominican Republic: Fuel prices a national problem - official

The government says that the increases in fuel prices represents “a real problem” for the Dominican Republic, and that this is exacerbated by the fact that there are no medium-term contingency plans to deal with the situation.

Tunisian pottery industry struggles to stay competitive

When asked about the impact of the smoke on the village, Rachid said with complete confidence, "All research and studies conducted by the region confirmed that the materials we use—primarily dried wood—do not damage the environment at all. However, there are greedy craftsmen who, due to its lower cost, use plastic to fuel their kilns, but when the monitoring agency gets hold of them, they pay a heavy fine."

Witnesses: Monks protest near Suu Kyi house

The monks' activities have given new life to a protest movement that began a month ago after the government raised fuel prices, triggering demonstrations against policies that are causing economic hardship.

The number of protesters Saturday indicated that the anti-government protests were growing.

Businesses flip-flop on electricity deregulation

As Allegheny Technologies weighs its options, company officials have been up front about what they consider to be the biggest strike against Pennsylvania: electricity deregulation.

It wasn't supposed to be this way. In the 1990s, industrial energy customers such as Allegheny Technologies were among the first and most forceful advocates of ending the state's traditional regulatory control over the electric industry. They wanted prices to be determined by market forces.

Paper or plastic? Retailers struggle with fees as customers increasingly use bank cards over cash

Tedeschi Food Shops typically would make a profit of 2 cents on a $3 gallon of gas, but transaction fees gobble up 9 cents per gallon, causing shops to oftentimes lose money on gasoline sales, Tedeschi said.

..."This is the second-largest expense to a gas merchant (after the cost of fuel)."

Bankruptcy on upswing

An unsteady economy, rising costs for fuel and other essential living expenses, plus a deepening national mortgage and foreclosure crisis, have pushed many households into insolvency, experts say. The resurgence comes after filings dropped sharply following a 2005 run-up in bankruptcy cases prior to a tightening of rules.

"They're back up - people are struggling," said Nancy Jacob, a debtor's lawyer in Dent whose small practice filed six new cases this past week.

Richard Heinberg on Financial Sense Newshour (audio)

The September 22, 2007 edition of Financial Sense Newshour features an interview with Richard Heinberg, author of Peak Everything: Waking Up to the Century of Declines.

It's in the second hour. MP3, RealMedia, and Windows Media formats available.

Taking Cues From Fed, Speculators Bid Up Oil

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke may have cooled off the credit crisis by cutting interest rates, but he may also have heated up oil prices this week.

For seven consecutive business days, crude oil prices have hit new highs. Even after dropping slightly yesterday, crude oil on the New York Mercantile Exchange finished the week at $81.62 a barrel, up a third since Jan. 1 and not far short of the inflation-adjusted peak set in January 1981, when Saddam Hussein's Iraq was at war with Iran.

Selling America In Exchange for Oil

What's driving the price of oil? You can point to many culprits, including rising demand from China, India and other emerging industrial countries. But you can also hang a big part of the blame on President Bush and the Congress.

A $7 billion gamble on oil refining

Motiva Enterprises made a huge bet Friday that America's appetite for gasoline will keep growing well into the future, giving final approval to a $7 billion expansion of its Port Arthur refinery that will make it the largest in the nation.

The decision came after more than three years of study by Motiva, a joint venture of Royal Dutch Shell and Saudi Arabia's state-owned oil company, and after a jolt in costs doubled the project's price tag.

With the move, two of the world's biggest oil companies have signaled their belief that petroleum-based fuels are here to stay despite the growth of biofuels like ethanol and calls to curb U.S. gasoline use.

SEC files complaint against 'Sweet 16' oilman

A new federal lawsuit reveals more information about the finances of a Kentucky oilman who investors say swindled them out of millions at the same time he was throwing his daughter an extravagant 16th birthday party on a reality TV show.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said in a complaint filed last week in a Kentucky federal court that Gary Milby spent millions of investors' money on vehicles and personal trust funds.

Nobel conference to focus on energy

Global warming and oil depletion are the twin specters of fossil fuels, said Timothy Robinson, psychology professor and conference director.

A longtime voice on global warming, NASA climatologist James Hansen developed the scientific basis for the argument that rising carbon dioxide levels are stimulating the greenhouse effect. He’s one of seven speakers at the conference.

...Oil depletion — more commonly known as peak oil — will be tackled by Kenneth Deffeyes, professor emeritus of geosciences at Princeton University. The hypothesis gets it name from the belief that oil extraction will eventually “peak” at a certain date and decline thereafter.

Russia warns war with Iran would block oil flows

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned Friday that any attempt to wage war on Iran could disrupt the flow of oil to Western countries and prompt a flow of refugees to Russia.

Peak Oil Passnotes: The Only Way Is Up

U.S. crude inventories have dropped 10 weeks in a row to leave the U.S. looking increasingly exposed to any spurt in demand or outages on the market over the winter months. Add to this the slow crawl back to full capacity of the U.S. refining system, ready to suck up more and more crude oil, and one can see continued tightness in U.S. markets to the end of the year.

Meanwhile any hope that increased OPEC output will come to the rescue may prove to be short lived. It appears that the 500,000 barrel per day increase proposed by the cartel is not actually 500,000 barrels per day, but something far less. As we all know, OPEC does not stick to its quotas and this occasion seems no different.

Russia to deliver fuel oil to DPRK: senior diplomat

Russia will deliver fuel oil to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) in November, Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Losyukov said Friday.

"Moscow will meet its commitments and deliver fuel oil," Losyukov said after China announced Friday the six-party talks on the Korean Peninsular nuclear issue will resume in Beijing from Sept. 27 to Sept. 30.

Scramble for the seabed: or how Rockall could be the key to a British oil bonanza

Britain is poised to get much bigger. South Africa, Russia, France, Brazil, Australia and Ireland are hoping to expand too. In fact, 45 countries with coastlines qualify for potential "extended underwater territory" rights under the new UN Law of the Sea Convention.

This new law, due to come into force in a few years time, has provoked a scramble for underwater land almost as fierce as the one for Africa in the 19th century when European countries divided up the continent between them.

Deal reached on cutting ozone-damaging emissions

Delegates from almost 200 countries agreed late on Friday to eliminate ozone-depleting substances faster than originally planned, the United Nations said.

Pope to make climate action a moral obligation

The Pope is expected to use his first address to the United Nations to deliver a powerful warning over climate change in a move to adopt protection of the environment as a "moral" cause for the Catholic Church and its billion-strong following.

Re: Pope to make climate action a moral obligation

I hope that the Pope will mention the need to limit population, perhaps even reduce population to deal with Climate Change and Peak Oil. Any bets?

E. Swanson

This, along with Ahmadinejad, would make the UN an NSSE.

Arkansaw of Samuel L Clemens

the Pope authority shrinks as it is (muslims grow faster than catolics)

Which is why the pope discourages condoms. We can't have the catholics being out-breeded by the Muslims.

The best way to encourage people NOT to procreate is to educate them. The more educated a person is, the less likely that they're going to have 8 children.

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

Your assumption is that "education" equals western education and values. The Islamic empire was the most educated and most powerful empire of its time, but its core values differed very markedly from our own. Other societies have been very knowledgeable yet had very different structures than our own because of core value differences.

"Education" is a loaded euphemism that other societies may not choose to embrace. Now I agree that if other societies embrace western values and thinking that this does appear to create social conditions that reduce population growth. But no one has proven that this adoption is inevitable. There is only a near-universal assumption that this mode of thinking and this set of social values should predominate. And even funnier, this usually comes from the very people who promote "multi-culturalism" which leaves me wondering exactly what the heck is so "multi" about "cultures" that all have the same values and thinking processes, other than their ethnic and racial differences (which is exactly what TPTB tries to focus on to keep people apparently divided while the common value system is what keeps them controlled).

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

Actually, the issue of education relates specifically to women--According to several UN agencies, FAO, UNICEF, etc., providing women with a rudimentary 6th grade level of education results in 50% less fertility almost imediately, with even larger gains overtime. "Higher levels of women's education are strongly associated with both lower infant mortality and lower fertility, as well as with higher levels of education and economic opportunity for their children." http://www.unfpa.org/gender/empowerment.htm

Hi karlof 1, Giving women (and men and children) a better slice of the economic pie could be even more effective. Anyway giving women a better education is just a bit of that isn't it? Give a bunch of people their own land back with a good chief and a good witch doctor and maybe they would blow those UN Stats off the wall?

The state of the world is the result of Western education, maybe we should try something else?

what if you ("american public") are "educated" by advertising, ............buy....consume.....marry and reproduce.......do not question authority......move to a vinyl sided three car garage house in the treeless 'burbs........drive an suv.......consume. c. o. n. s. u. m. e............c o n s u m e...........C O N S U M E................. c o n s u m e

Not in Latin America. There are 500 million mostly Catholics south of the US with a huge growth rate in population. The issue isn't religeous, but grinding poverty combined with gender repression of women causes unrestrained population growth. Plus sex ! There's no population growth without it.
.Bob Ebersole

Evangelicals have made huge strides in Latin America - small family? OK. Enrich yourself? That is OK, too. Sorry, no links, saw it on Tee Vee in an airport or something, but as I recall it was something like 30% of the total population. I found it a bit surprising ...


Its true about evangelicals, in particular the Pentecostals are getting more prevalent both here and there. Its for a number of reasons, but one of the biggies is divorce.

Catholics excommunicate people who remarry after getting a divorce without church approval (an annulment) but adultery is just a garden variety sin. So when Papa moves out or gets a 20 year old mistress to replace Mama whose face and figure have been ruined by too many kids and a poor diet along with natural wrinkling, Mama's stuck. If she divorces him she can't go to heaven and has no power over Papa with the children grown, so she joins a church where divorce for adultry is possible.
In Latin America thats often the pentecostals, because their preachers are "called", or self-appointed after a few bible courses. Catholics have very few priests for the population, often as low as 1:10,000. Even in the US its 1:3,000. The pentecostals have perhaps 1:200 as a preacher to worshiper ratio. And, Latino society is matriarchal in many ways, where momma goes to church, the family goes to church Bob Ebersole

yeah, those pentecostals ..........rolling around on the floor......speaking in tongues ......holy rollers for short

The Holy See to push population control? FOMALOL...

How fast can the USA electrify Freight Railroads ?

One of the best rail consultants (John Schumann of LTK) gave me about $500 of his time (LONG phone call).

Conclusion, under "maximum commercial urgency" (example Canadian tar sands) we would have the equivalent of five large Class I RRs (UP, BNSF, N-S, CSX & one combo (CN, CP+DME, KCS, FEC).

Best case:

Year 1 = 0 miles
Year 2 - 500 miles x 5
Year 3 - 1,000 miles x 5
Year 4 - 1,500 miles x 5
Year 5 - 2,000 miles x 5
Year 6 - 2,500 miles x 5
Year 7 - 2,500 miles x 4.5 (some RRs may begin to run out of good candidates to electrify)

France made the commitment in 2006 to electrify EVERY branch line and switchyard in twenty years.

The Strategic Rail Corridor Network (STRACNET) is 32,500 miles and would make a good estimate of a very good electric rail backbone (I would add CN former Ill. Central Memphis to Chicago)


The only map of Stracnet that I found is at


Download 1:30 Presentation PowerPoint.

We wandered off topic onto SBB (Swiss Federal Railroads). GREAT management, superb maintenance. US RRs are maxed out at about 100 trains/day for a double track with the best controls (allow movement both directions on both tracks). SBB plans to run up to 300 trains/day (WIDELY varying speeds, much more than USA, shorter trains, up to 1.5 km long) through double track tunnels.

Best Hopes,


In the bath yesterday I was thinking maybe we could re-purpose all our gigantic SUVs as small, personal light rail cars. Although, where would people go to the bathroom?

It often seems to me there might be a hybrid or compromise that may help us get where we need to go.

If not, at least we have all that metal(in the vehicles) dug up, refined and recylable. Better than having to mine it in the first place I suppose.

Recipient of AA, Alberta Advantage

Two things.

The STRACNET misses the "Cotton Belt Route".

Now run by UP, it's a high speed track, double in alot of places. At least one train every 1/2 hour.

This article:


might interest you.


Arkansaw of Samuel L Clemens

STRACNET is designed for military movements. Vital civilian tracks can, and are overlooked.

None-the-less, IMHO STRACNET provides a good analytical framework for electrification analysis of main lines. The needed gaps missing from STRACNET appear to be only a couple of thousand miles long.

STRACNET = 32,500 miles

If we electrify, double/triple track and largely grade separate 35,000 miles of railroads, we should be able to move over 90% of our inter-city freight ton-miles with non-oil transportation (plus quite a few people). (

I am thinking of half this distance being rebuilt like the CSX proposal for Miami to DC, grade separated, 2 tracks general freight @ 50 to 70 mph, 1 (Richmond-Miami) & 2 (Richmond-DC) tracks max 110 mph passenger service + high value light & medium density freight.

"Last mile" by inter-modal truck or diesel railroad spurs.

35,000 miles is significantly less than the 48,000+ miles of Interstate Highways.

Unfortunately, this approach limits competition (one good, grade separated, electrified rail line + one old line in most of the country).

Best Hopes,



I am not a naysayer and perhaps I missed it but where is the additional grid
capacity to electrify the rail system going to come from? It is my understanding
that the U.S. electrical grid is woefully outdated based on decades of under


America operates about 157,000 miles of high voltage (>230kV) electric transmission lines. While electricity demand increased by about 25% since 1990, construction of transmission facilities decreased about 30%. In fact, annual investment in new transmission facilities has declined over the last 25 years. The result is grid congestion, which can mean higher electricity costs because customers cannot get access to lower-cost electricity supplies, and because of higher line losses. Transmission and distribution losses are related to how heavily the system is loaded. U.S.-wide transmission and distribution losses were about 5% in 1970, and grew to 9.5% in 2001, due to heavier utilization and more frequent congestion. Congested transmission paths, or "bottlenecks," now affect many parts of the grid across the country. In addition, it is estimated that power outages and power quality disturbances cost the economy from $25 to $180 billion annually. These costs could soar if outages or disturbances become more frequent or longer in duration. There are also operational problems in maintaining voltage levels.
America's electric transmission problems are also affected by the new structure of the increasingly competitive bulk power market. Based on a sample of the nation's transmission grid, the number of transactions have been increasing substantially recently. …

Additionally, significant impediments interfere with solving the country's electric transmission problems. These include: opposition and litigation against the construction of new facilities, uncertainty about cost recovery for investors, confusion over whose responsibility it is to build, and jurisdiction and government agency overlap for siting and permitting. Competing land uses, especially in urban areas, leads to opposition and litigation against new construction facilities.

The electrified rail corridors would make excellent new transmission corridors as well (typically 100' wide).

Electrified rail is VERY energy efficient. 0.19% of USA electricity drives the NYC, Philly, DC, Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, etc subways plus all light rail plus Amtrak's NorthEast Corridor plus the Long Island RR plus a few GEMs. etc.

About 6% or 7% (roughly x35 as much) would make a significant difference in US oil consumption and be = to about 3 years growth in demand (recession + conservation could free up that much).

Best Hopes,


When any electrical cabling is done, it would make sense to install fibre optic data cables as well, the cost savings would be huge. The UK tunnels are too short to have double decker trains, (they work really well in Europe) whats the situation like in the US.

Many major US rail lines are now routes for fiber-optic cables. Amtrak's Boston to NY to Wash. DC line had these installed many years ago and so have other eastern lines.
Most US routes were improved for double stack container trains by lowering tracks under bridges and in tunnels, though some places went from two tracks to one to get max clearance in middle of bridge or tunnel.

Major problem for expansion of US roads is capacity. And many communities have opposed improving trackage to handle more trains. Rochester MN has opposed the expansion plans of the DM&E RR that wanted to haul coal to provide a shorter route (by over 100 miles) to Minneapolis. I believe the city's lawsuit went all the way to US supreme court in fighting the RR. Union Pacific and BNSF RR's have fought several legal battles in trying to add tracks to their single track transcontinental lines in New Mexico and Texas. I can imagine thousands of NIMBY lawsuits by communities that don't want more trains and the "ugly: electric lines in their "pristine" towns and cities.

Mark S. Bucol

mbnewtrain, we are now importing 12.19 million barrels of oil and natural gas liquids a day, according to Rembrandt Koppelar's keypost on theoildrum.europe this week, and this is about 2/3rds of our total oil use. About 70% of the oil use is for gasoline and diesel (Stuart Staniford, several different posts), and we also import around 5 million barrels of finished gasoline and diesel.

Besides being about to bankrupt us, we are getting about 70% of that 70% from countries that hate us. Of our importers, only Canada and Mexico can be thought of as stable and liking anything about the US. UK, Holland and Norway sell us some gasoline, but no crude to speak of
Half of our oil imporst come from Venezuela (14.47%), Saudi Arabia (11.825%, Nigeria (8.81%) and a whole slew of other countries. Thats about 1/2 of our oil supply. Yes we have a billion barrels in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, but are facing massive economic dislocation and military problems if there is another embargo, there isn't enough crude for another war.

This is the biggest national security problem. A few thousand terrorists is dwarfed by our vulnerability as a nation to an embargo. How does the modern miltary fight without diesel and jet fuel? The correct answer is not at all if they have to walk and carry ammunition. What are we going to do? We can't even manage to keep thir flows at half level, 2 million bbls a day with over 300 thousand troops and mercenaries in Iraq and we have no other option. Nuclear weapons are not going to preserve oil installations, so they're out.

As far as I'm concerned every president since Jimmy Carter is a traitor for ignoring this problem, and we can't let it go any further. Its insane to have half our transportation dependent on countries that hate us.

Alan's electrification of rail program is the only fairly painless way of dealing with the import problem. We need to adopt it now.

Not in my back card folks sometimes just don't get a choice.

Bob Ebersole

I can imagine thousands of NIMBY lawsuits by communities that don't want more trains and the "ugly: electric lines in their "pristine" towns and cities

I know someone involved with the electrification of Amtrak's New Haven CN to Boston line (end of DC to Boston NorthEastCorridor) and community push back added several years. More political (Amtrak congressional pressure) than legal.

Most lines are not in communities as sensitive as that area fortunately.

Still, the US Constitution gives control of Interstate Commerce to the US Gov't. A law supporting electrification passed by the US Congress could simply this kickback. And most rail lines are not through high end developed areas.

Best Hopes for the Common Good,


I can imagine thousands of NIMBY lawsuits by communities that don't want more trains and the "ugly: electric lines in their "pristine" towns and cities

It's called "railroading" for a reason.

There you are.

The guy is right. The Electric grid will be fractured at best.

The Unnruly Power Grid is a must read.

It's going down with Peak Oil.

Power Laws apply, I'm sure.

We're going to go with something to provide
electricity to the transmission on the train

Union Pacific takes on Cotton Belt Ways:


The Blue Streak already has its roots in success -- as a continuation of the proud name that pioneered the intermodal market. The Blue Streak operated for over 60 years as a premier train for the Cotton Belt, St. Louis Southwestern, and Southern Pacific railroads. We are proud of the rich history of this service, and the benefits it brings to coast-to-coast intermodal transportation.
And there will be no difference between Military
and Civilian.

Arkansaw of Samuel L Clemens

I'm more interested in the MS River between St Louis and

And the rail bridges crossing the River.

There are 5, maybe?

St Louis, Memphis, Vicksburg, BR, and the Huey P. Long

In order to cross the Mississippi River, while enabling large vessels to pass underneath, trains begin a long, slow climb from the near sea-level swamps of southern Louisiana, two miles away from the river itself. The structure that allows this is part of the longest railway bridge in the US.

My first point is that all rails should be moved N of Lake Pontchartrain.

The second is that we're going into Peak with what we have right now.

If it's not funded and being constructed, it ain't goin' thru.

An aside. My hometown area -about 11 miles radius
had more rail terminals than any other in the state of Arkansas, including Little Rock. Circa 1920.

Arkansaw of Samuel L Clemens

Alan, you're the best. I'd love to buy you a beer sometime.

Best hopes for Swedish and American (ie. Samuel Adams) quality beer!

I like Abita Amber beer (and their new one with pecan nuts added :-) a local Louisiana beer. But I am VERY willing to try Swedish beer, it is hopefully better than Brennivín (Black Death) and hákarl !

Best Hopes for Good Beer ! and less rotting shark


RE: 'Russia warns war with Iran would block oil flows'

To bad shrub doesnt read...but he recently made the comment...'the markets will just have to deal with it'...

Guess he figures since our economy is headed for the toilet anyway, now is as good a time as any to start the dance...

If vader and shrub attack Iran the world will be FUBAR.

If one looks at things as some form of confidence game, having an event to 'blame' for the performance of "The free market" - what better way than a nice, expanding fight that cuts off the oil.

I noticed that Shell and Saudi Aramco are significantly expanding their refinery in Texas, which some analysts have cited as "proof" that we are nowhere close to Peak Oil. Why would an oil company expand a refinery--especially a refinery in an importing country--if they knew that we were close, or past, the peak of world oil production?

Why did Shell expand their surface production facilities in the Yibal Field, to handle an expected increase in oil production, just before the water cut started increasing dramatically?

Perhaps the common theme here is that they discounted the early warning signs of falling production--perhaps it's something as simple as cognitive dissonance. When confronted with data that contradict their worldview, many people respond with an even more forceful effort to persuade people that they are right.

Researchers have cited the examples of space alien cultists who, when the aliens fail to show up on a predicted date, respond by trying even more forcefully to persuade people that the aliens are coming. I realize that many people would describe Peak Oilers as "cultists," but the irony is that guys like Peter Huber (who literally believes that our energy consumption will increase practically forever) are considered mainstream, while scientists who believe that a physical world has physical limits are considered to be the cultists.

2004 NYT article:

Published: April 8, 2004

The Royal Dutch/Shell Group's oil production in Oman has been declining for years, belying the company's optimistic reports and raising doubts about a vital question in the Middle East: whether new technology can extend the life of huge but mature oil fields.

Internal company documents and technical papers show that the Yibal field, Oman's largest, began to decline rapidly in 1997. Yet Sir Philip Watts, Shell's former chairman, said in an upbeat public report in 2000 that ''major advances in drilling'' were enabling the company ''to extract more from such mature fields.'' The internal Shell documents suggest that the figure for proven oil reserves in Oman was mistakenly increased in 2000, resulting in a 40 percent overstatement.

The company's falling production and reduced reserves in Oman are part of a broader problem facing Shell, the British-Dutch oil giant that earlier this year lowered its estimate of worldwide reserves, a crucial financial indicator, by 20 percent, or 3.9 billion barrels.

Documents show that senior executives were told the calculations of reserves were too high in 2002, at least two years before the company downgraded its estimate this January.

While Oman represents a small part of Shell's reserves, oil industry experts say the company's experience there highlights broader questions about the future role of Western oil companies and their technology in the Persian Gulf, which has most of the world's oil reserves.

In the case of the Yibal field, for example, Shell and Omani oil engineers and auditors have expressed concerns that a technique Sir Philip said would recover more oil not only did not do so, but also increased the amount of water in the extracted oil to as much as 90 percent of the total volume, increasing production costs.

''In Oman, Shell seems to have fumbled on technology,'' said Ali Morteza Samsam Bakhtiari, a senior official with the National Iranian Oil Company.

Alternative explanation:

Aramco will be exporting some oil for decades. They will supply oil to Aramco owned (100% or partially) refineries first, capturing the value added.

KSA exports will need to decline dramatically to get to the point where they cannot keep their refineries busy.


KSA net exports fell -5.5% from 2005 to 2006 (EIA, total liquids). Depending on what happens in the fourth quarter, their net exports from 2006 to 2007 will probably decline by about -8% to -10%.

The net export graphs that we will present in October are pretty scary. You can get an idea of what kind of projections we are looking at by considering the following case histories:

UK: Recent peak exports to zero in seven years.

Indonesia: Recent peak exports to zero in eight years.

ELM: Recent peak exports to zero in nine years.

All three of these regions had relatively high levels of consumption at peak production (50% to 60%). Regions with lower consumption relative to production, at peak, will take a few more years to crash, but it's still pretty damn fast.

Note that KSA is also expanding their domestic refining capacity.

(ELM = Export Land Model)

Saudi refining capacity currently stands at 3.64 mb/d, counting domestic as well as overseas refining capacity. http://www.ameinfo.com/64680.html

Saudi Arabia's combined capacity from domestic refineries is around 2.05 million bpd. In addition, Saudi Aramco maintains 1.6 million bpd of refining capacity overseas. The company continues to move ahead steadily with multi-billion dollar investments for construction, upgrading and integration of its domestic refineries.

One of the two reasons Saudi is expanding its refining capacity, in my opinion anyway, is Manifa. Manifa oil is heavy with sulfur and vanadium. Many refineries can handle the sulfur but not the vanadium. Saudi needs to be able to process the oil from Manifa therefore they are planning new refineries that are able to handle it.

The other reason of course is profit. Refineries make a profit on the upgrade of crude oil to refined products. Saudi simply wants to pocket that profit rather than give it to someone else.

As you say it will be a long time before Saudi production is down below its refining capacity which should top out at somewhere around 4.5 mb/d. There is really no great mystery as to why Saudi would build new refineries even while its production is in steep decline. They hope to make up some of the losses from declining production with new profits from refined products.

Ron Patterson

Saudi crude oil production in 2006 was about 9.2 mbpd. At a 5% decline rate, which is about what Texas showed, and is consistent with Saudi recent declines, Saudi crude production would drop to about 4.6 mbpd in about 14 years, some time around 2020.

BTW, to put 14 years in perspective, 14 years ago Clinton was at the start of his first term (seems like yesterday to me).

All true, but there is one more point that most people overlook when they talk about Saudi investment when they are over the hill in oil production. The Saudi's do not realize just how little oil they have left. Saudi believes, or at least believed until recently, their estimate of over 260 billion barrels left with another 200 billion barrels "yet to be found".

It has been very easy for Saudi to lie to themselves, and then swallow that lie hook, line and sinker. A lot of people will not understand that statement but I do. I lived with them for five years and understand how it could hardly be otherwise.

Ron Patterson

The Saudi's do not realize just how little oil they have left.

I agree. We saw the same thing in Texas. Outside the small circle of Hubbertarian "cultists," there was general astonishment in Texas oil circles when production started dropping the year after the RRC went to a 100% allowable, and I have frequently quoted the assertion by the Texas State Geologist, who in 2005 suggested that Texas could possibly match its peak production through the use of--drumroll please--improved technology.

In any case, that was my point about Shell and Saudi Aramco expanding the refinery--IMO, they think that the small world crude oil decline, as predicted by Deffeyes' HL work, is just a statistical blip, and crude oil production will soon increase.

In contrast to my ELP recommendations, most of the energy leg of the "Iron Triangle" is pushing POD--Party On Dude!

Saudi crude production would drop to about 4.6 mbpd in about 14 years, some time around 2020

Factor in 88% to 91% refinery capacity for their 4.6 million b/day and add two or three years till Aramco cannot keep their own refineries busy.

Texas, in 1972, did not have any Manifa fields. A shut-in, proven 900,000 b/day field that just needs special refineries (see building program). Not a "game changer" but a significant factor in the coming decline.

Thus I see KSA declines closer to USA declines more than Texas declines once the massive North Ghawar decline is past. That is, in 6 and 8 years we may see 2%, 3% annual declines more than 5%. I think that Aramco will refocus and start developing 15,000 b/day fields with several dozen wells in future years, reducing the decline rate by 1% or so. Easy to cost justify at 300 euros/barrel.

And North Ghawar will boost production back to 8 million b/day, just 96% water this time.

I think Aramco will, at least, recover it's investment in Port Arthur before shutting it down.

Best Hopes ?


Maybe even less than this if they become more conservative with production I think we can expect the trend of the remaining producers dropping production rates to conserve oil to continue. My guess is they would like to see say 30 years of significant income out of oil if possible.

I suspect they want to last more then 14 years so this means they will need to make a significant cut in production in the next few years. I'm guessing they plan to go ahead and "finish" some of the older fields but not really replace them and thus husband the remaining resources. You can play with the math and it depends on the fields but they would have to make and additional 1-2mbpd or so cut in the next 1-2 years to buy more time.

So I'd not be surprised to see KSA make a major cut at the first politically convenient moment.

The general consensus among most of the HL crowd was that Saudi Arabia was at least 55% depleted in 2005 (based on HL), which is pretty close to where Texas was at in 1972 (based on total HL data base), versus the overall Lower 48, which was about 50% depleted in 1970. Texas decline -4%/year, Lower 48, -2%/year.

Thus, my bet is that the Saudi decline will be in the vicinity of -5% per year, on average. If Saudi Arabia averages 8.6 mbpd of crude oil for 2007, their initial decline would look like this:

2006: -4.3%/year
2007: -6.7%/year

The other 'General Consesus' is that their HL is skewed to the low end because they developed their fields for maximum long term productivity instead of maximum flow rates. Ghawar could have pumped 15+ million bpd. It topped out just shy of 6. See Euans post for more details on how this phenomenon works.

As I am sure this will be your cut/paste response, Texas is NOT similar with its constrained production because their fields WERE designed for maximize flow rates, which cuts down on the total amount of oil that can be produced due to reservoir damage.

Texas is NOT similar with its constrained production because their fields WERE designed for maximize flow rates

I'm sure that this is news to Texas oilmen who were active in the Sixties, whose wells were routinely limited to producing at about one-third of allowable.

If you read Twilight in the Desert, there is considerable evidence that Saudi fields were damaged by the high production rates circa 1980-1981.

Still waiting--once again--for your response, down the thread.

Call it 'cognitive dissonance', call it 'the opiate of the masses'...It boils down to the fact that people do what they want to do and believe what they want to believe. No amount of rational discussion will change their minds. The only thing that is going to change their minds is when their gas station is out of gas and dog has yet to return to earth to whisk them all up to the great pie in the sky...Then, they will look around and blame the problem on the nearest scape-goat at hand. That would be us because we are the messengers.

One subjet that most are reluctant to broach is the plain stupidity of much of the population. Most people do not want to think for themselves. Its too hard and they are too lazy and American public schools have not taught them critical thinking, and they are certainly not going to attempt to educate themselves when they could be watching football or ...name a distraction. I have stopped trying to convince most people of anything. They dont want to hear it. So be it. They are on their own when tshtf.

One subjet that most are reluctant to broach is the plain stupidity of much of the population. Most people do not want to think for themselves.

And in view of this it seems very natural for some that realize what the problems are to work towards saving themselves.
Some of the technical "solutions" discussed here are driven by specific social agendas.

Intelligence without a concurrent ability to communicate with, educate, and empathize with people less gifted is a serious personality flaw. Some people might label such a disability as sociopathy.

Looking at the bell curve distribution of intelligence should be enough to demonstrate the folly of applying highly intelligent ability in isolation from the vast majority of humankind.

The reality of this wicked world is that a good many things simply cannot be communicated to the bottom of your 'bell curve', as they cannot be expressed in kindergarten language without utterly losing the sense. So it is that many will live only as bewildered spectators embodying Arthur C. Clarke's notion that any sufficiently advanced technology is akin to magic. The workings of the social and technical systems at which they spectate will forever remain beyond their comprehension, so if they are to survive, those systems must inevitably be designed and provided—and sometimes even imposed by force—by others higher up your 'bell curve'.

By the same token, even Carl Sagan, with his unparalleled skill at explaining physical science in "lay language", was never going to be able to explain quantum mechanics to the Archie Bunkers of this world, not in a million years. But it would be absurd and libelous to level the accusation that this made him a sociopath.

Maybe that's why, since the dawn of civilization, and down to the present day, and irrespective of the dearly held delusions of modern-day political correctness, 'humankind' has always had royalty, aristocracy, and guilds, in one form or another. In modern Western democracies, we may refer to them as "stars" instead of royalty and so on, but the basic social function remains much the same: to live life for those towards the bottom of your bell curve.

That's how 'humankind' has always applied 'highly intelligent ability' whenever, as so often happens, the starry-eyed ideal of applying it by 'communication' or 'education' (often merely a euphemism for indoctrination) fails miserably. The very existence of the 'bell curve' - which you yourself acknowledge - makes it impossible for it to be or even to become otherwise. Like it or not, we are not all equal every which way. And like it or not, some will decide what to do and others - again, if they are even to survive - will be told what to do.


"No one in this world so far as I know—and I have searched the records for years, and employed agents to help me—has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people."
—H.L. Mencken, Chicago Tribune, Sept. 19, 1926

Maybe that's why, since the dawn of civilization, and down to the present day, and irrespective of the dearly held delusions of modern-day political correctness, 'humankind' has always had royalty, aristocracy, and guilds, in one form or another.

Yeah, it was the way those on top tried to stay on top.

I do not deny that some people are more talented than others. I do doubt whether it's inherited. I'm sure some of capabilities we think of as "intelligence" are at least partly heritable, but I doubt they are the reason some are on top and some are on the bottom. Environment counts, too.

I think my own family is a good illustration of that. We are a long, long line of dirt-poor peasants, criminals, crazies, and other undesirables. Until my forebears emigrated to the US. We did not marry above ourselves; everyone married someone of the same class and ethnic background. Yet within four generations, we somehow went from dirt-poor peasants to professionals: doctors, lawyers, engineers, scientists.

Similarly, how many wealthy families have ended up poverty-stricken because the kids did not inherit dad's business acumen?

There's a fascinating book called The Pecking Order, that explains why some people are successful and some are not. It's a lot more complex than DNA or wealth. It starts with the example of the Clinton brothers: one president of the United States, one a drug dealer in jail.

On the surface, it may seem that the case of the Clintons is atypical. And, of course, a pair of brothers who are, respectively, the president and an ex-con is a bit extreme. But the basic phenomenon of sibling differences in success that the Clintons represent is not all that unusual. In fact, in explaining economic inequality in America, sibling differences represent about three-quarters of all the differences between individuals. Put another way, only one-quarter of all income inequality is between families. The remaining 75 percent is within families. Sibling differences in accumulated wealth (i.e., net worth) are even greater, reaching 90-plus percent. What this means is that if we lined everyone in America up in rank order of how much money they have--from the poorest homeless person to Bill Gates himself--and tried to predict where any particular individual might fall on that long line, then knowing about what family they came from would narrow down our uncertainty by about 25 percent (in the case of income). In other words, the dice are weighted by which family you come from, but you and your siblings still have to roll them. For example, if you come from a family that ranks in the bottom 5 percent of the income hierarchy, then you have a 40 percent chance of finding yourself in the lowest 10 percent, a 21 percent chance of making it to somewhere between the 30th and 70th percentile, and only a one in a thousand chance of making it to the top 10 percent. If you come from the richest 5 percent of families in America, then your odds are flipped. And if you start at the dead middle of the American income ladder, then you are about 63 percent likely to end up somewhere in that 30th- to 70th-percentile range, with a 4 percent chance of ending up either in the top or the bottom 10 percent. A similar pattern holds for educational differences. For example, if you attended college there is almost a 50 percent chance that one of your siblings did not (and vice versa).

"I do not deny that some people are more talented than others. I do doubt whether it's inherited."

And, indeed, in keeping with the latter, the modern form of aristocracy - "stardom" - is not quite so strictly inherited as, say, English titles of nobility. It's not even all that unusual to get a "star" from a family nobody ever heard of. For that matter, membership in medieval guilds was not always strictly inherited either. On the other hand, centuries ago, social science didn't even really exist, so I can sort of forgive people for thinking that talent might be essentially 100% inherited. And on a third hand, I look at all those musical Bachs, and tend to think that talent is in fact partially inherited, just not 100% - that is, there are no fully blank slates born in the real world.

But no matter - the point remains that somebody is going to be "on top" whether wideblacksky, or you, or I like it or not, because the reality is that it cannot be otherwise in a world that has many aspects that are simply too complex to be comprehended down towards even the middle (never mind the bottom) of that 'bell curve'. The best we can try to do is keep incompetents out of the role, but even that is difficult when much of the population really can't tell the difference. But in the end, no natural law or principle guarantees that the workings of the universe or even of Earthly biology will satisfy the self-righteously otherworldly criteria of the sort of left-wing political correctness that foolishly asserts that everyone is equal every which way, in the face of abundant evidence to the contrary.

The problem is that it is not the philosophers that become the kings. I think Plato had something to say about that. . .

I think it's more that neither philosophers nor kings "breed true." Also, that resources matter an awful lot when it comes to success. On every level, including within families. The success of one sibling does often come at the expense of the others, because family resources are limited. (Conley even suggests that the best thing you can do to ensure your child's success is to limit the number of siblings he or she has.)

I can't help but think this has implications for the future, with the prospect of increasing resource scarcity looming.

One subjet that most are reluctant to broach is the plain stupidity of much of the population. Most people do not want to think for themselves. Its too hard and they are too lazy and American public schools have not taught them critical thinking, and they are certainly not going to attempt to educate themselves when they could be watching football

People are smarter than you think. They just don't have the inclination to engage with people like us in highly abstract discussions about matters none of us can meaningfully control.

As for singling out football as stupid - I imagine that there is something in your life that you enjoy as entertainment. Let's say you enjoy artsy movies or computer games. How would you like it if someone dismissed you and called you stupid for liking those things?

" ... whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government; that, whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them to rights" -Thomas Jefferson, to one Dr. Price

Since almost every serious public issue can be labeled a "matter that none of us can meaningfully control", I guess that leaves Jefferson's remark out in the cold. And with a lot of folks, it's nigh unto impossible to get them to talk about anything except football, TV, or something equally inane. I guess that leaves Jefferson's remark even further out in the cold.

The problem is not that they like a bit of silly entertainment now and then, it's that you can't get them off the subject of silly entertainment. Anything else - and it doesn't have to be an abstract TOD debate - just gets you that dopey deer-in-the-headlights look. Which is probably because every last second that they don't have to give to work or chores goes to silly entertainment. Which leaves Jefferson's remark even further out in the cold, to the extent of pretty much trashing it.

So if people are "smarter than you think", many do an excellent job of hiding it.

"No one in this world so far as I know—and I have searched the records for years, and employed agents to help me—has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people."
—H.L. Mencken, Chicago Tribune, Sept. 19, 1926

So if people are "smarter than you think", many do an excellent job of hiding it.

Exactly so. If they choose not to engage you or me in serious conversation, that may say more about their opinion of us than about their "intelligence."


I think the fact that they choose not to engage in things that have a direct bearing on their lives is a sign of a lack of intelligence. You see arguing for a potential intelligence that they choose not to apply is meaningless. You cannot predict what goes on in an individual brain - and you cannot assume all work the same - all you can do is extrapolate from the actions taken.

It's similar to mental illness - psychiatrists place less distinction between someone who is acting mentally ill but thinks they are deciding to act in a certain way vs. someone who doesn't think they are. The point to them is how the symptoms manifest themselves.
All these memories will be lost in time
like tears in rain

One of the biggest taboos of American political discourse is to acknowledge the self-evident truth that 50% of the US population must, by definition, be below average in intelligence.

How does a statement like that reinforce the concept of American Exceptionalism? Bad winger, no viable presidential candidate for you!

No, 50% is below median intelligence.
There are manny ways a good mind can be hurt and everything has to be right to get a great mind thus low intelligence ought to outnumber brilliance.
But this were of course not the point of your remark.

Now how do we make life easier for dumb people to help them make good choices and enjoy life with fewer disasters?

And let's not forget short people here. As in half the population, by definition, are below (I guess literally) the median.

Where's Randy Newman* these days?

*former six-sigma in something at one time, but with much cough cough medication now just an all round compasionate guy.

Texas does not have al Queda - positioning to limit exposure in Saudi? Plans for domestic conservation there and increased export to the U.S. to keep up their finances?

They're not dumb, although large companies (and countries) do funny things when bankruptcy is imminent ...

SCT, I dont understand your post. I am not trolling, just plain dont understand what you are trying to convey. Please clarify. Thank you.

I believe he's saying there's less chance of a terrorist attack on a refinery in Texas than in Saudi Arabia.

Do *NOT* discount Formerly Well Off Texans(tm) !


Sorry for being so scattered - I'm gluten intolerant, got a few bites yesterday by accident at lunch, and it affects me like drinking a fifth of something strong to clear up a bad case of the flu. The grammatically correct but cryptic post was written as the effects were wearing off.

Yes, that was about al Queda in Saudi - recall that KSA did just hire 35,000 additional men to guard facilities there. Texas refining capacity puts the finish work 1.) out of reach of trouble 2.) near the final destination and 3.) and in a place where there are other aging refineries owned by companies likely to go under.

Double ELM versus single ELM, perhaps?

This all traces back to the Texaco-Pennzoil lawsuit over the aquisition of Getty by Texaco in the early 1980's. Joe Jamail won a huge judgement against Texaco-as I recall about $US 14 billion. This was about 3 times as much cash then as it would be today because of the size of the economy plus before the monsterous amounts of cash available from from the Mergers and Acquisitions boom of the 1990's through the present. Texaco couldn't borrow the money, and there was even speculation that Pennzoil would take over Texaco to get their judgement.

Only one group of people had the cash for the deal, the Saudi Royal Family. They'd been buying US bonds as part of the protection price paid to the US for their defense. So, Texaco sold 1/2 of its refining operations to the Saudis for the cash to pay off the judgement. The advantage to the Saudis is that it gave them a guaranteed market for their crude, and the world had massive oversupply at the time that lasted until about the year 2000. This also gave KSA cash flow from the refineries to even out the wild swings caused by world overproduction. This is also the reason PDVSA bought Cities Service-a locked in market, IMHO, so neither Venezuela nor KSA is likely to embargo the US or torpedo the dollar .

The Saudis never sold this interest, and now its a substantial part of the Chevron refinery network, but I don't know how much. Maybe RR could tell us that, or some other high level downstream person. The Motiva refinery is a relic of a Shell/Texaco joint venture, located in Deer Park.

A couple of weeks ago the Saudis announced a price cut to US delivered light, sweet crude while raising Asian prices-Leanan had a link to Drumbeat that covered that story, but I can't remember the original source, possibly Reuters. At any rate, I assumed it was for crude sold to this joint venture. But, I think the value of this investment is why the Saudis are supporting the petrodollar. Once again its just an informed hunch but now you have my reasoning behind it. Bob Ebersole

With 15% of US gasoline imported (and this is going higher each year) makes sense to refine the oil in the US and make profit in US. Also, ARAMCO now owns the former GE plastics division that could use the locally produced petrochemicals instead of other company's feedstocks or foreign made feedstocks.

What cities will look like when the oil fields run dry

pics of no car days in Tel Aviv in this thread they are pretty cool really


Watching the news this morn I just saw a great commercial for freight trains.

Claims they can move 1 ton of freight 422 miles using just 1 gallon of fuel.


Yeah man now thats what I'm talkin about!

Thats real and it's NOW.

I think they're the ones that do that commercial with all the gas cans wandering around like a family of ducks. The soundtrack is a sappy love song about some guy who was dumped by his girlfriend (the trains), but finds new love (a highway full of gas-guzzling cars and trucks).

And that fuel is burned in a small (2 MW or so) variable load diesel generator to generate electricity that travels a few feet to an electric motor.

Only small islands and locomotives generate electricity this way.

Much better to get the electricity from the grid (hopefully from non-GHG sources).

Best Hopes,


Souper: Buffett has always had a thing for monopolies (barriers to entry). Down the road, with interstate trucking kaput, the railroads will be in the catbird seat.

Week that shook the banking world

On Monday evening Mervyn King believed the first real crisis of his Bank of England stewardship had – as he put it to friends – been sorted.

...But within five days, Mr King’s optimism had been proved comprehensively and humiliatingly unfounded. In one of the most extraordinary weeks in British banking history – one which saw the global credit squeeze spill on to the nation’s streets – the Bank had on Wednesday performed an abrupt volte face. It had decided to extend emergency lending against mortgage collateral to all banks – a step that just 24 hours earlier the governor had ­privately ruled out.

Early this morning Marie Bartalomo (sp?) was interviewing Greenspan...for 30 minutes. Greenspan said that he was unaware of how many 'unscruplous real estate agents' were making bad loans to people that could not make the reset payments. He said that he was shocked to find out that 20% of subprime loans were non-performing. Greenspan also said that 'I had been worried for a long time about Saddam Hussein closing the Straights of Hormuz, thus shutting down oil flow to industrialized economies.' How would Saddam have shut down the straights? He also said that it was a good thing that we got rid of Saddam even though he did not have WMD. At the same time he was critical of shrub for blowing too much money...guess he doesnt know that wars are expensive propositions? Greenspan reminded me of watching one of my cats kicking sand on their ___!

River: Alan Greenspan is amazing. The guy has got to be one of the greatest salesmen in history. Here is a guy who, by any objective standard, was probably the most incompetent Fed chairman ever, yet not only did he escape any blame for it, now everything gets dumped onto Bernanke and this guy points the finger (and gets away with it). Supposedly he gave another interview saying that the US dollar is going down the toilet and bragging that he has his personal fortune invested in overseas assets. He should be giving late night TV seminars-something like "You definitely CAN fool ALL of the people ALL of the time". Good for him- in a snake oil economy, the best snake oil salesmen win.

Greenspan said that he was unaware of how many 'unscrupulous real estate agents' were making bad loans....

Its the same old broken record for all politicians, and that is what Greenspan has effectively been: "Either you're stupid, or you're lying, and neither 'quality' makes you fit to be where you are". Check Jay Hanson for "economics is politics in disguise."

A plethora of financial numbers, including those from the real estate industry, land on the desks at the Fed every single morning. That's what they're supposed to do, keep track of the country's finances. Domestic real estate added over $10 trillion in "value" so far this millenium. And he claims that has escaped him? That's not even physically possible, providing he's been at his desk at all the past 7 years.

Greenspan is an 81 year-old has-been who has agreed to shoulder the blame for what has gone "wrong". By claiming he didn't know, the blame shifts away from both Bush and Bernanke (No BrianT, the blame is not laid on Bernanke, on the contrary). Bernanke is the scapegoat for what's to come. Prior to Greenspan's present book tour, there have been extensive talks about what he was going to say. It's Tony Soprano territory: once you're in the family, you can't get out. I know where your kids live.

B&B's sheets are now clean, and Sir Alan claims a situation too complex and fast-moving to oversee (as will Bernanke soon). First: take the blame away from others, second: say you yourself can't be blamed. Result: it's nobody's fault. Well, maybe God's. Who would know? Josephine Blow finds it all far too complicated, it was deliberately never taught at school, and there are no media left to explain it to her.

There is a possible next step in this charade: Greenspan's doctors may start claiming they failed to recognize , for the past decade, the onset of Alzheimer's in their patient. That would silence all remaining doubters.

In reality, everything has gone as they have planned: get at least half the US population into debt so deep they'll never get out in their lives. People become a lot more mallable if you have a deadly sword hanging over them. The Fed could have stopped the real; estate craze any moment they wished over the part 7 years, or over 2500 mornings.. At 2500 such opportunities, they chose not to stop it.

On a side note, it's time to watch the UK carefully. Rumours of the government overruling the Bank of England are plain weird, because that is not the power structure in place, but they do confirm that there's a lot more rot there than we have seen so far. They seem to fear the implosion of the entire financial system, judging from their actions.

New PM Gordon Brown, formerly Blair's finance man, and the BoE, have guaranteed all losses form Northern Rock. That is a big-time wager, because if other banks start to falter as well, they're helpless. And there is precious little reason to assume that Northern Rock is the only institution over there that financed long term debt with short term bets. There are at least two others that lost 36% and 21% in share value, respectively. That's not a coincidence.

England is far smaller than the US, but The City, London's financial district, is still at least as important as Wall Street, and trouble there means trouble worldwide.

Greenspan said that he was unaware of how many 'unscrupulous real estate agents' were making bad loans....

Either Greenspan is clueless about the residential real estate market(unlikely) or he is still blowing smoke. Real estate agents don't make loans! They just sell houses. Or at least that is the way it works here. They may work with loan officers at financial institutions to try to procure loans for their clients but even the loan officers and closing agents must adhere to their institution's rules. It is the management of these banks and financial companies who set these rules that all the working level people must live by.

Greenspan and Bernanke were just nominated for the Nobel prize in Chemistry

For converting the U$S into crap.

Minor political point. Greenspan was guest on Jon Stewart last week plugging his book, but made no. mention. whatsoever. of Bush or oil.

Even for the rest of the week, Stewart made no reference to Greenspan & Bush & oil, or Kissinger for that matter.

I guess Greenspan made a deal: I guesty, you no talky.

Mainstream liberals in America are deathly silent about resource scarcity.

The wars in Iraq and Afganistan cost the US about half a trillion dollars. Since Dubya came into power, the publicly stated US Debt has increased by about 4 trillion dollars. Trust me. The war didn't do this.

Trust me. The war didn't do this.

Naw. But tell ya what, write it up and make a post all about it and I'll let you have the opportunity to convince me.

Banks welcome changes to system

Angela Knight, chief executive of the British Bankers' Association (BBA) welcomed Alistair Darling's suggestions which he made in the Times newspaper.

The changes would mean an increased guarantee for people's savings of up to £100,000 in the event of a bank crisis.

Why not just guarantee all deposits? The banks could then take whatever risks they liked without having to worry about consequences - the taxpayer will always pick up the bill, right?

The Fed recently took up $19B in risk in this area like a parent showing a small child that peas really are a type of food, but none of the usual suspects bit on the meal of unquantifiable risk and the credit markets remain frozen.

Now nurse BoE gets tackled by a gang of patients from the financial locked ward and force fed the largest's dose of medicine. Two other burly chaps are next in line for dodging what is rightfully theirs and no one seems inclined to come to the rescue.

Who here can guess the next step in the dance? I think I can - anti-welfare Republican mortgage grifters line up for Congressional welfare laundered through the hands of those foolish enough to have signed for an ARM without a specific business reason for doing so. Oh, and they'll howl all the while about the Democratic Congress robbing them, and demand that tax cuts remain in place to "stimulate the economy".

Disgusting isn't it? And it hasn't even come to pass yet, but the handwriting is on the wall ...

Classic. Anti-welfare Republican mortgage grifters. Pretty well sums it up.

Not Ron Paul republicans. Not a dime to any species of welfare grifter or fraudster. Including the effin hedge funds.


I might have been a Ron Paul sort of Republican, but I'm a Democratic activist now. Quite a strange from a straight ticket Republican voter in 2000, eh?

I was disgusted by Clinton's antics as president but I must say that given the chance I'd blow him now as long as it promptly put an end to the foolishness that is the Bush administration.

Now that's funny! Former life-long Democrat no longer able to see any difference between the parties, nor any point to the charade.

Democrat vs. Republican is a side show set up by big money to distract. God, guns, and "pro birth" for one side, environment, gay rights, and pro choice on the other.

I believe I've posted before about the two parties having differences just like the differences between the working girls seen at The Gem Saloon and the Bella Union in Deadwood. You get a different sort of whore depending on which side of the street you frequent, but the operative word is "whore".

I like the Democrats because the crazies there are radical feminists, gay rights activists, and environMENTALists with a thin grasp on cause and effect. Two of the three stand for sensible principles and none want to instigate an apocalyptic event as part of their belief system.

So when I say I'm a Democratic activist what that means is I am interested in the Progressive agenda. This means, at least to me, universal health care, rational efforts towards remediation of global warming and peak oil concerns, and an end to the Patriot Act, the ridiculous bankruptcy law, NCLB, and any other stupid crap from the Bush era.

What you say is true, but let's remember Noam Chomsky's advice. When faced with choosing between Big Evil and Big Slightly Less Evil, that slight difference in "Evil" can mean a lot when multiplied by "Big."

While I would tend to agree that the neocons are a disgrace, you may just find that pretty much all democrat candidates with the possible exception of Kucinich not only represent the same interests as the neocons but are much more radical and dangerous.

Read this if you have the time
The Clinton's specifically are part of the same corrupt neocon network all the way back to Arkansas.

Funny thing, politics. I have no respect towards any US president that I can think of, and I will never forgive Clinton for bombing Serbia as if it were some sort of "evil" incarnate rather than just a regular place in Europe.. I reckon Kucinich would probably be a good bloke, that's why he will never be elected. I have generally tried to stay away from any ideological discussions (my favourite poet is Shelley, and I consider him silly politically) and I still don't see how anybody in politics will be bringing up the issue of peak oil.

After a long time pondering these things I am, more than ever, inclined to believe that politics is done by stupid people, supported by ignorant people, and approved by (more or less) desperate people. And by desperate I mean people who want to have "their due", even when it is clearly unattainable. Well, clearly to us TODers anyway.

More radical and dangerous? We're way O.T. but I'm dying to hear how any Democrat could pull stunts like those the Bush administration have done. Pick just one and lay out a scenario for me in a single paragraph if you don't mind ...

Much more likely to go into Iran under Clinton then under the current administration, for example.
Reason being that the driving bought ideologue would be in the #1 seat.

That is a VERY good read. I recommend to read all 18 parts if you want to know how things work.

Cathrine Austin Fitts, been there and wrote about it.

inside PNM

Chairman Jeff Sterba talks about carbon dioxide, profit and the utilities future

I mentioned yesterday the Biofuels article National Geographic is running. This a major US publication, in my opinion having considerable influence.

There also is an article, almost an op-ed on carbon and climate change. They are promoting the carbon tax over over cap and trade mitigation measures, pointing out others just aren't effective enough.


New private funding for 'The war' (No, not poverty. The one on drugs)

Awarded by the Pentagon’s Counter-Narcoterrorism Technology Program Office (CNTPO), Dahlgren, Va., the contract vehicle has a potential value of $15 billion over five years.

I wonder if anybody read/skimmed through the WEC Survey of World Energy sources 2007 report (linked via the Strahan's WEC secretary interview ).

It had some interesting graphs, although admittedly most of them from BP/IEA/EIA.

Sampling with comments:

LNG Flows in the world

Strait of Hormuz is a choke point not just for crude oil, but for future growing LNG shipments. No wonder Kissinger et al want control of that area. Iran has no change, I'm afraid. One way or another, US wants to ensure control of that area.

Share of LNG shipments of world Natural Gas trade

As per above, LNG is becoming more important in years to come, if the industry moves to this direction as estimated.

World Nuclear Electricity Generation Capacity up-to 2050

Looks like there is a BIG uncertainty. Sure 50 years is way off, but even 2030 is so different between IEA and WETO estimates. Interesting.

World production of Uranium vs Reactor requirements

Again, discussed here a TOD before, but a good reminder about some short-term issues on the uranium spot market.

There are also worthwhile summaries on geothermal, solar, tidal energy. Recommended reading if one is interested in the global energy mix. The study pulls several data sources together.

The graph of reactor requirements and Uranium production shows a big drop-off coinciding with the warming of the cold war. And looking ahead, there are predictions in other sources of Peak Uranium (which I do not doubt). But, what about all that fissionable material stored in our supply of bombs around the world. After a while, it seems we should have no need for the nuclear-threat weapon, so might that supply become available.

Question: how much power would that supply produce if it were used in current technology power reactors?

Sam Penny
the Prudent RVer

1- We do use recycled warheads as reactor fuel, as part of the US/Russian arms reduction agreements. That relationship may not hold much longer.. this has been a key factor in Uranium availability and consequent lack of mining development for several years now.

2- Sadly, even if there's no NEED for great threat-tools, that doesn't mean there's no DESIRE for them.. the trade-off that changes that balance may be the vastly increased value of reactor mass as energy gets more precious. Who knows, however, whether the ability to keep a 'Defensive Threatmaking Capacity' won't be gaining (Perceived) value at much the same rate, and so keeping the beleaguered warheads safe from any threat of being pounded into ploughshares..

After a while, it seems we should have no need for the nuclear-threat weapon, so might that supply become available.

Look up thread at SamuM's graph of Uranium production. How to you think consumption has grown significantly beyond extraction? And why are the mining companies not looking for supplies, thus keeping the reserves low? Because all that weapons material has been dumped on the power market in recent years.

Since the mining companies have no incentive to discover and prove reserves, people think we are running out of Uranium. Reserves should not be expected to be more than about 50 years no matter how much there is out there because it costs money to discover and prove reserves and there is no sense doing this when you have plenty for the foreseeable business horizon. Fuel costs are such a small part of nuclear power costs that greater supply does not drive greater use.

WARNING! The following opinions are just that: opinions.

In regards to the TRADE-CANADA: Losing Water Through NAFTA:

One thing instantly stuck out to me when it was proudly posted at the top of todays Drumbeat: Matthew Simmons 'suggestion'. Does no one else see how much self-interest the man has by making such a suggestion? How much money he would stand to make if they actually followed through with it? He wants to take 2.5 million bpd off the market. And why? Does he have a soft spot for the environment?

Or for his money.

His comments are almost as bad as when he suggested that all the alternative fuel investment money would be better spent harvesting seaweed for biodiesel. Of course, his investment company just so happened to buy into this same alternative industry, and would stand to make a handsome profit from such a massive influx of cash.

Why cant the PO movement have a spokesperson who doesn't stand to personally gain (and gain far more than most) from this problem?

Umm...because anyone with two brain cells to rub together would put their money where their mouths are?

I own stocks in railroads. My profits there rival my oil & gas stocks.

Should I ignore my insights when investing ?


Yes, you should. You should be investing in Ford or something. That'll convince people you're serious about light rail.

Simmons has more money than god. And he's a good Republican who believes in the free market. If he really thought the only thing wrong with the tar sands was that they were a threat to his bottom line, he would simply invest in them. It's not like he doesn't have the money.

Similarly, he doesn't need the royalties he gets from book sales, so the frequent claims that he's only trying to sell books are just as silly.

I never commented on his books. Only that hes manipulating the market in violation of some laws by throwing out sometimes misleading information to drive up the price of his 'exclusive' commodity.

I know, but others have. This is something that comes up repeatedly. "They're only doing it to pump their stocks/sell their books/etc."

You don't control a multi-billion dollar hedge fund. Or at least not that we know of :P

Thats not the same as saying that what everyone else is doing is futile while their own investments are in the only sector that will work. That same person with two brain cells would have known that too, Leanan.

He's not saying only his own investments will work. He knows that it's going to take a lot of silver BBs to avoid disaster.

Right. So why should we stop production from the Tar Sands?

He didn't say they should stop production from the tar sands. Just that they shouldn't use fresh water to produce them.

Other articles I've posted have described plans to pipe in seawater instead, so it's not like "no fresh water" means "no tar sands."

IMO, you're reading way too much into that NAFTA article. It has a very short mention of Simmons, and appears to have been translated from the Spanish.

Maybe I am. Maybe he should be a bit more careful with his words and actions. But he CLEARLY states that they should stop using the fresh water, and since there is no alternative, stop 'feeding the US addiction'.

And how much time would it take to construct a pipeline that goes from the pacific to where its needed? How big would it have to be? How much money? He might as well ask the whole world to stop using any kind of FF now as they work out alternatives and electric options.

No, he was very clear cut on what he said.


Too many people are blind to his intentions.

Yeah, I'm pretty alarmed that he wants to make Mitt Romney president, too.

As I've commented before I find Simmon's comments becoming increasingly shrill and even reckless. The article's lead paragraph attributes him as saying the ethanol industry is a disaster and should be reigned in before it causes damage to the farm industry. He must be living on another planet.
Ethanol in Iowa is hardly a disaster and the farm "industry" loves it. How do you reign in an industry in a free market that a good Republican like him supposedly believes in? Cut subsidies? Go ahead, but do it for oil too. By that I mean stop the Iraq war. Eliminate the oil depletion allowance. Stop royalty payment in kind and all the other shenanigans that have been going on in the Federal oil lease sales. And end the strategic oil reserve which is really the government buying up oil which has the effect of keeping the price above the true market rate. Corn farmers would love to have the government maintain a strategic corn reserve.

Then he is quoted as saying that growing corn damages the land and drains the available water. Corn yields have been going up for decades despite the land being "damaged". And corn will be grown whether it is used for ethanol or not. The reason it is used for ethanol is because the market price of corn is so ridiculously low compared to other forms of energy. As far as using the available water, water is like sex. You either use it or loose it. If rain is not used to grow corn it will grow weeds or run off down the Mississippi.

I do agree with him on cellulosic ethanol though. It does not exist. It will not be commercially viable because the feed stock is too bulky and expensive to handle. No ethanol plant buys corn unless it meets its quality standards. How will trees and or grass by graded for quality? By one estimation the use of corn cobs for example would required a semi load arriving every six minutes, 24 hours a day to keep the plant running. The labor and transportation costs to pull this off would be horrendous. Storage for corn cobs to keep them dry so they don't rot would be very expensive. As it is there will be a big problem this year to even store the corn because of the large harvest. So even if a process for making cellulosic ethanol is developed, another even more formidable road block exists.

Ethanol has been an economic boom here in Iowa but in its current form its just a derivative energy, not an alternative. The 1.3:1 EROI just isn't good enough. The Brazilians have a decent case with the 5:1 EROI they get with sugar cane and we need something similar here as a bare minimum. Cellulose as a feedstock is one way to do this but we don't yet know which crop it will be. I predict we'll need to have our collective feet to the fire a good long time before the change happens and it may be one of those receding horizon sort of things, where the light doesn't come on until the lights start going out.

I've not dug deeply into the ethanol process but the quality statement strikes me as odd - they would certainly have an opinion on the moisture content and they don't want sticks and stones, but the good stuff goes for humans, the next best for animal feed, and the remains feed the still ... at least in a sane world.

the farm "industry" loves it

*NOT* the cattle and hog farmers.

And end the strategic oil reserve which is really the government buying up oil which has the effect of keeping the price above the true market rate

Trivial impact because the build rate was so slow.

As far as using the available water, water is like sex. You either use it or loose it

Most definitely NOT true for Nebraska. Irreplaceable ground fossil water is used to grow corn for ethanol. We will likely live to see today's corn fields revert to pasture in much of Nebraska. And the deeper the water, the more energy to pump up for irrigation.

Corn yields have been going up for decades despite the land being "damaged"

The land *IS* being damaged ! Your choice of "decades' is telling. Some of today's barren deserts were once fertile lands. Land should be managed for millennium, NOT "decades".

Best Hopes for NO corn ethanol,


Why the tariff on imported sugar ethanol ?

I think the idea that corn fields will revert to pasture in Nebraska might even be a bit optimistic. About a quarter of the state is already yucca, tumbleweed, and sand dunes. We've sucked the Ogallala aquifer down three or four feet - about ten thousand years worth of fossil water. The chain of lakes along the Platte is going fast, with Lake McConaughy at maybe 40% of its norm.


If things get a little drier parts of the east will go back to pasture ... unless the dunes in the west blow right over them.

A seawater pipeline makes alot of sense if the oil pipeline to BC and the Pacific gets off the ground.

OTOH I was surprised to see China is pulling out of the tar sands, political rationale stated. They were big on funding the oil pipeline to the coast.

Don't have any idea of the cost of the pipeline project. Receding horizons?

There is one pipeline existing-down to Seattle Wa.

China was looking at another line north, the Gateway pipe with Enbridge.

Maps of proposed and existing pipelines for the tarsands:


Try checking out the tar sands on Google Earth (NE Alberta, about 57 deg N 111:30 W) - they are an environmental nightmare.

Huge amounts of forest ripped up, monster-sized tailing ponds full of toxic waste water that no-one knows what to do with. Horrible

Regards Chris

And just think, he wants us to pollute the water instead. We can live without trees in an area. We cant drink toxic water.

sorry who wants us to? I seem to be losing the thread here...
All these memories will be lost in time
like tears in rain

Actually, Simmons & Company pretty much exclusively raises money for service companies, which would be hurt by a downturn in oil activity in Canada.

And if you listen to Simmons' warnings, the logical thing to do is to radically downsize your energy consumption now, in anticipation of much more expensive energy in the future. (See my ELP recommendations)

In contrast to Simmons, ExxonMobil, Saudi Aramco and Yergin, et al, are, in effect, basically encouraging Americans to continue to buy and finance large vehicles for long commutes to and from large suburban mortgages. And by constantly asserting that high prices are temporary, they discourage conservation measures and they discourage alternative energy efforts--thus ultimately driving up oil prices even further.

So, Party Guy, let me ask--for the fourth or fifth time--precisely what are you recommending? That we cut back on energy consumption as much as possible, which is what Simmons is advocating, or that we Party On Dude, which is basically what most of the "Iron Triangle" is advocating?

So, Party Guy, let me ask--for the fifth or sixth time--precisely what are you recommending?

His warnings are fine. Its the fact that hes very two faced. For instance:

"Respected energy analyst Matthew Simmons told me Canada should stop furthering the U.S. addiction to liquid fuels and make it illegal to use fresh water in tar sands," said Nikiforuk.

And yet he says we should invest in sea weed:

Simmons, the Houston energy investment banker whose concerns about a sharp falloff in global oil production have made him one of the most recognized – and controversial – figures in energy, told EnergyTechStocks.com that the micro algae found in oceans has much higher oil content than either corn or palm oil, two of the world’s leading sources for ethanol and biodiesel, respectively.

Hes essentially saying that one way to 'feed the addition' is bad, but his way is 'good'. Hypocrisy is what I'm pointing out.

BTW, I would gladly crush every SUV and souped up truck I could get my hands on if it were possible.

Hes essentially saying that one way to 'feed the addition' is bad, but his way is 'good'.

No, he's not. I think you missed the point of the article. He's saying Canada should not use their limited fresh water resources to feed the US addiction. It's a bad deal for them. They pay the environmental costs, while we enjoy the oil. In many cases, we pay less for their energy than they do (because of lower taxes in the US).

But we should go and destroy what little biodiversity is left in the oceans, because no one needs that right? Get real. It's environmental destruction either way. Its just that with his way, he benefits and gets more money.

I don't think that's his motivation at all. I think he's pragmatic enough to put his money where the most profit is. And he's got more money than he knows what to do with anyway. If his goal was money, he should have just stayed with his company.

I do think he's a bit naive about tidal power, sea algae, and things like that. He's a businessman, not an engineer or a biologist. He likes those things because he doesn't know that much about them.

I think you'll find that most peak oilers like Simmons' analysis of the oil business, including oil production, but don't really buy into his silver bullets. He knows about the oil industry, and is worth listening to when he talks about that. Diesel from algae, not so much. No one is an expert on everything. That doesn't mean he's trying to scam anyone.

Right. The Tar Sands will give us immediate benefits NOW, not 'possibly' 20 years into the future or however long it will take to scale up Algae Biodiesel. I think he is being irresponsible in stating we should cut off our tar sands production now.

The only alternative is mass CTL. The environmental impact of such a program is far more destructive than the Tar Sands will ever be. Especially if they start using nukes instead of NG plants.

Only if you think continuing the happy motoring lifestyle as long as possible is a "benefit." Others think that the sooner we wean ourselves off of it, the better.

In any case, I don't think you have to worry. They're not going to shut down the tar sands on Matt Simmons' say-so.

the only REAL alternative is to slash usage...
All these memories will be lost in time
like tears in rain

It's funny that the people one supports are 'wise, prescient and successful' when their ventures succeed and they make 'an honest profit', while those one doubts or despises have their acumen cast in a cloud of shame and scorn when they 'conspire to exploit an unwitting world, to make off with their handy fortunes'.

It reminds me of how intensely we may want to see in the nude, those we desire and find lovely, and how much in the extreme we absolutely do NOT want to see anyone who is 'not partner material' in a state of undress...

Are you a dog having his day, or just another fat-cat?

'See? The markets are working.. except when your enemies are getting rich, then money is still the root of all evil'



I'm assuming you are honest and really concerned/annoyed about what you write (hence, not a troll).

I have some questions:

1. What kind of actions would you prefer to see from people who are financially invested in the energy sector? Full disclosure? No commenting on various alternatives? Refusing to take sides on issues on which they have specific investments? That is, what actions, in order to be taken "seriously"?

2. How do you propose we evaluate a situation where a potential big financial self interest is in direct opposition with environmental benefits? Do we assume malice on part of the financier or do we require proof of malice or misleading environmental arguments?

3. How do you think we should handle 'insiders' who are both inside the energy/investment industry AND the PO cabal? Treat them like buddies? Look at their arguments analytically? Put them through the TOD meat grinder, just like (almost) everybody else?

Honest questions, don't read too much into them. Assume I'm asking what's in the question on the surface, not between the lines.

PS As for your wish. Yes, I wish for that too (a person with no big financial gain regardless which way we go, but still a great spokesperson). However, it seems to be very difficult to find such a person/group AND second, it is next to impossible to prove it. Also, having a financial interest doesn't automatically mean that one isn't trying to be fair or that one somehow lacks a soft spot for the environment. Mr Simmons could surely be fair and a true conservati(onist), even if he has a financial interest.
At least, until proven otherwise.

1. What kind of actions would you prefer to see from people who are financially invested in the energy sector? Full disclosure? No commenting on various alternatives? Refusing to take sides on issues on which they have specific investments? That is, what actions, in order to be taken "seriously"?

They need to first and foremost stop this 'my method for liquid fuels is better than your method' and get off the ICE bandwagon entirely. The ICE should have died 80 years ago in favor of electric engines. Henry Ford wanted to do so. Big oil didn't.

If they are going to invest in ANY kind of alternative or silver BB, they need to invest in electric rail, renewable energy generation, electric vehicles, and convince a few senators/congressmen along the way that we need to stop focusing on Ethanol and work on REAL sollutions.

2. How do you propose we evaluate a situation where a potential big financial self interest is in direct opposition with environmental benefits? Do we assume malice on part of the financier or do we require proof of malice or misleading environmental arguments?

Environmental issues are only there because we as a race seem to choose to focus on the most environmentally destructive means of achieving our goals. There is plenty of financial rewards for investing in tidal, wind, geothermal and solar generating schemes, as well as organic farming. If someone has a million dollars to invest, and they KNOW that solar and wind will perform in X manner, but choose instead to continue the status quo, then yes, they are being malice and very misleading.

3. How do you think we should handle 'insiders' who are both inside the energy/investment industry AND the PO cabal? Treat them like buddies? Look at their arguments analytically? Put them through the TOD meat grinder, just like (almost) everybody else?

Industry insiders shouldn't be allowed to manipulate their own earnings on the public market. Thats why I pick on Matthew Simmons and not Mr. Pickens. Raising awareness is one thing. Profiting handsomely by pushing people into a panic then having a 'timely' investment in the very thing they are warning about is a huge no no to me.

If only Obama would publicly talk about PO!!!

About the Pope link,

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, head of the Catholic Church in the UK, said last night: "This is a crucial issue both today and for all future generations. We are the stewards of creation and we need to take that responsibility seriously and co-operate to care for the created world."

How did someone explain that too him,
We looked at the last 10,000 years of ice core data 'COUGH' sorry I mean 6,00 years of ice core data, and we found C02 levels rising, the coal which we are burning which was formed when the flood buried all the forests is whats causing the problem

The denial reflex refuses to abandon the belief of a god and justifies him in very strange ways sometime.

Why is there a word for atheist, do we have a word for some one who isnt an astrologer?

The LNG export map shows just how much energy flows through the Strait of Hormuz, can someone calculate its value in kWh? It must be a good quater of that cubic mile.

The problem isn't god, per se, its god's ghost writing squad being credited with perfect accuracy.

A long time ago being born again was, at least in this part of the world, the sort of thing found within the class of people who were carefully saving for a set of mag wheels for their house. Somehow, somewhere, this changed, and now I can't swing a barn cat without hitting someone taking the impact to be a sign that "the end times" have begun.

We know and talk constantly about the poisoning of our institutions based on the rule of the law by the disloyal Christian Right; while this is a primary concern for We, The People I think there is another big one that we just don't talk about.

Humans are going to continue to grow and grow, even in the face of peak oil, but not in the economist's sense of the word. Sure, we have a material dimension, but we also have an intellectual dimension, and a spiritual dimension.

I mean with the word intellectual that our minds remain roomy even when our residence shrinks; music, movies, and books enrich our lives in the way an SUV never could.

That 'spiritual' word has practically become a curse. No one here can seem to use it without the immediate assumption that this has something to do with this "end of days" myth, or it turns up in diametrically opposite belief systems - the various shamanistic/naturalistic views, the many offspring of the Vedantic belief systems, and so forth.

People are going to need support along spiritual lines as the world changes, and most of what can be seen in the United States today is the alkaline cesspool of the Christian Right. I see signs here and there of ministers and congregations who've had it and are making the move to render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, but we must wholesale take spirituality away from these would be Jihadists or they will plunge us into as close an approximation of their end of days myth as can be managed with the fuel and nuclear weapons we have left.

Its all a clever little trap and I long ago grew tired of trying to puzzle out the escape route ... perhaps someone else has some thoughts in this area?

People are going to need support along spiritual lines as the world changes

Spirituality doesn't require the 'invisible friends' delusion, or buying a boilerplate bill of goods. Personally, I recommend embracing spirituality where you find it. For myself, the little booklet "The Sacred Depths of Nature" was a nice read which put the "s" word into a more sane perspective for me.

I think the author was the aptly-named Ursula Goodenough.


There are basically three major sorts of belief systems in the world today - the monotheistic Christian/Muslim/Judaism branch, the Vedantic offshoots of Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, and Jainism, and then finally the various animist/naturecentric systems.

As the world changes people are going to look for comfort and spirituality is a natural outlet. This country is largely Christian, unless you're familiar with the others, and then you find signs of them everywhere. The best examples I can think of are the covertly Buddhist Six Feet Under and the movie The Matrix, which wraps Christian imagery around a solid Mahayana Buddhist core. I'm sure there are others ... everyone has become familiar with the concept of karma over the last few decades. The naturalists are also making great strides, from Druids to the unstructured "earth first" folks.

You've noted that spirituality "does not require the invisible friends delusion" and while I would agree with the logic of this statement I think it could be put a better way. I have my own collection of invisible friends and they tell me after I stop killing and stealing the next most important thing is to not interfere with someone else's path.

So ... the magical mystery question is how to criticize and defeat the Dominionist Fascism of the disloyal Christian Right without giving offense to Christian spirituality.

I think there are many more than three even major systems of thought...
All these memories will be lost in time
like tears in rain

RE: Phil Flynn's comments - Two things bother me

First, Why $150/Bbl oil or any projected limit on gas prices? Perhaps the world would get past demand destruction, and shortages outstrip remaining/new production, but why even try to pick a price? And, is that in constant dollars, since the dollar has been taking real hits, according to posts the last few day. These price forecasts with no rationale as to why are nothing more than any other tout.

Second, he should have added, with respect to the question of additional taxation of oil and gas, if there is such a tax, it should be matched with, let's say, a Windfall Profits Tax on gold, wheat, and any other item traded as a commodity which has doubled in price during the same period, even if it has not yet reached a comparable all-time high, in constant dollars. Also, something less than 40% of our current production is domestic, including offshore, and that is constantly declining, with simultaneous increases in demand. Obviously I agree that this is the last thing we need to minimize the impact of peak/peaking oil and gas production.


I see, Leanan, that you must hold Dr. Economides in the same esteem I do. His words in the new top item are the only comments in that article attributed to him.

Unlike Phil Flynn, when Dr. E comments as to price, he does not need to support his reasoning, IMHO. I haven't seen comments on PO attributed to him, but he is the guru I would choose to listen to just about any time. I wish I could hear, for less than a small fortune, how he feels about the impact of China and India and their increasing thirst for oil on the world outlook. Some of his comments have looked to be off the cuff, but with amazing accuracy.


Nah, I quoted him because he's famous...or maybe infamous? in peak oildom. He's the one who thinks peak oil will be never, or not for 300 years or more. He's also a global warming denier.

Well, could be similiar to the comment you made elsewhere about Simmons - Once he gets out of his area of expertise, etc. He has acknowledged the impact of demand growth, on an exponential basis, with China and India, and the resulting impact on prices. He might think that there is some way that price will cause increases, but they can't bring on the increases we would need just to stay even. I can see that, and he is a lot smarter than I am.

But, economist-types have a way of looking at things in a logical way, under a set of "laws" while we are moving into a wild-west scenario, vis-a-vis invading Iraq.


Hello TODers,

Speculation: Did the Israeli Air Force queue up for a 'banking run' on the Syrian economy?

Sifting the entrails for the hidden Mideast war

Together with perhaps a million other inquiring minds who want to know, I am still trying to figure out what happened over Dayr az Zawr in northern Syria on Sept. 6. And even more, what happened on the ground.

But speculation on the nature of the Israeli mission into Syria has spread like wildfire - thanks to official and unofficial chatter about the strike's real target.

I would think that if this hit was on a nuclear processing plant: Somebody would have picked up elevated radiation readings by now. In a prior posting, I speculated that maybe the Israelis got a 'twofer': wrecked nuke processing and phosphate processing in one blow.

But perhaps, the ultimate target of this bombing run was to actually blow a big hole in Syria's economy. If the North Koreans & Syria were running huge quantities of drugs and/or counterfeit greenbacks: the bombing/burning of this stuff would make it much harder for them to buy weapons whether nuclear or conventional.

From the CIA factbook on Syria:
Illicit drugs:

a transit point for opiates, hashish, and cocaine bound for regional and Western markets; weak anti-money-laundering controls and bank privatization may leave it vulnerable to money laundering.

This page was last updated on 20 September, 2007
Could this possibility explain why the Syrians are so quiet about this? They would look pretty stupid if they publicly whined & cried about losing $50 billion in drugs & bad cash.

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

ISRAELI commandos from the elite Sayeret Matkal unit – almost certainly dressed in Syrian uniforms – made their way stealthily towards a secret military compound near Dayr az-Zawr in northern Syria. They were looking for proof that Syria and North Korea were collaborating on a nuclear programme...

Today the site near Dayr az-Zawr lies in ruins after it was pounded by Israeli F15Is on September 6. Before the Israelis issued the order to strike, the commandos had secretly seized samples of nuclear material and taken them back into Israel for examination by scientists, the sources say. A laboratory confirmed that the unspecified material was North Korean in origin. America approved an attack.


But Washington was not satisfied. It demanded clear evidence of nuclear-related activities before giving the operation its blessing. The task of the commandos was to provide it.

Am I the only one that finds this bit uproariously funny after the whole Niger/Plame scandal?

Am I the only one that finds this bit uproariously funny after the whole Niger/Plame scandal?

I don't find it funny.

Oh, come on, you're just not looking at it right. Try to look at it like a neocon for just a day - go get yourself a hammer from the garage and whenever you have to touch anything in your household apply the hammer to it, mentally reaffirming "everything is a nail".

I'd suggest you go to the bathroom in the morning and constrain this meditative exercise to not more than eight hours during the day.

I thought the most germane of todays drumbeat offerings was the OPEC piece which stated:

''The surge in oil prices to record highs will shield OPEC nations, some of which peg their currencies to the US dollar, from current dollar weakness, a Saudi newspaper quoted OPEC sources as saying on Saturday''.

It maybe in typical OPEC code but I think this is OPEC for the first time stating that they are now happy with $80 oil (having moved their target price from around $70).

This is of course a very obvious consequence of the fall in the US$ - OPEC members are effectively only getting the same bang for their buck as they were when oil was lower but the $ was higher (and not only that but all their US investments have devalued in the meantime).

It also represents the flip side to the Fed's interest rate miscalculation - in fact its not difficult to envisage an upward spiral developing whereby falls in the US$ result in OPEC wanting progressively more for their oil (and who can blame them). This may not hurt the inflation figures of say the Euro nations who are protected by a surging Euro but it sure as hell will come back to haunt the Fed as oil inflation surges. So do the Fed abandon any pretence of keeping inflation around 2%??? You betchya.......

Here's a related story...

Saudi riyal hits 21-year high

Possible peg break

"The main story has been the possible break of the peg with the Saudi riyal," said Adam Cole, global head of FX currency strategy at Royal Bank of Canada. "This could lead to lack of confidence in the dollar as its role as a reserve currency is being put into question, which is also supporting the euro."

Saudi Arabia has pegged its currency to the dollar at the same value since 1986 and has rarely moved out of step with US interest rate movements.

"You are going to see pressure on the riyal to take advantage of the policy rate differential," said Caroline Grady, Middle East economist at Deutsche Bank.

There's no such thing as a possible peg break, it's a done deal. Not following a 10% rate cut is the same as not having that peg. By the way, didn't you yourself post this article? It should be clear then.

The House of Saud has left the building; those are its footprints over there.

Fears of dollar collapse as Saudis take fright

Saudi Arabia has refused to cut interest rates in lockstep with the US Federal Reserve for the first time, signalling that the oil-rich Gulf kingdom is preparing to break the dollar currency peg in a move that risks setting off a stampede out of the dollar across the Middle East.

Posting all of the stories one receives after a brief vetting to weed out nonsense is not the same as reading and mentally squirreling away the contents of all of them :-) Leanan edits a flood of information every day and can be forgiven for not retaining every last bit :-)

Oh, I remembered that story. Hard to forget it.

But it's only one story, and I wasn't sure how reliable the Telegraph was. It sounded kind of sensational to me. ("Saudis take fright") I posted the other story as corroboration.

In the UK the Telegraph is a serious paper - the in-house paper of the establishment. It leans right but is not a sensation monger.
All these memories will be lost in time
like tears in rain

The timing of the law suit by some obscure town in MI naming Bandar, in connection with the BAE deal which is very old, a day after they don't follow the rate cut shows that now they have to blackmail even the remaining inner circle to keep the dog and pony show going for another week or two.

Re: Gas prices hit rock bottom for utilities

The article states the average household uses 430 million btu's in natural gas annually.

According to EIA, in 2005 there was 63,573,466 residential gas customers who used 4.806 billion cubic feet of natural gas. This works out to just under 76 million btu's per customer and I would assume a residential customer would be considered a household.

I assume that article is referring to local customers. I imagine the amount of natural gas used per customer would vary widely depending on the region. Some areas don't need heat in winter, some do. In the northeast, many homes use gas only for cooking and/or appliances, with the winter heating coming from oil. Obviously, houses like that would use less natural gas than a house that was heated by natural gas as well.

The residential use should have been 4,806 billion cubic feet, hit the . instead of the , no , this is still way off Leanan. Natural gas retails on average for about $10 to 12 per million btu's, 430 mmbtu would be $5k per year for natural gas, we would hear about this. If memory serves me the average Minnesota natural gas customer, using gas for heating uses 130 mmbtu annually, we have 7876 heating degree days in Minneapolis vs 6128 in Denver, the article originated in CO.

There's an e-mail address for the writer under the article. E-mail and ask for a clarification, if you're that interested.

Dear friends,

Got a quote that some of you will appreciate:

"For God's sake, be economical with your lamps and candles! not a gallon you burn, but at least one drop of man's blood was spilled for it."

Herman Melville, Moby-Dick

i LOVE that quote - great tip
All these memories will be lost in time
like tears in rain