DrumBeat: September 26, 2007

Market Eyeing What OPEC Does, Doesn`t Pump

Ministers didn`t overtly play up the method for arriving at the new production ceiling. As with the output cuts agreed last October and December, intended to take 1.7 million barrels a day from the market, OPEC pegged the baseline for the cuts to market reckoning of the group`s output, not outdated formal output quotas.

But in an unexpected step, OPEC ministers have released a new list of national output allocations that shake to their core some claims of recent production levels. OPEC had fudged the details of prior deals by only quoting the volumes of reductions, or the level of the new collective output ceiling.

The end is nigh. Be positive

We are being drawn in at least three directions by suspicions of an impending apocalypse. The "business as usual" denial that has been the dominant response until recently is giving way to nihilism, fundamentalism and activism. My intention is to explain the way that people, individually and collectively, can respond very differently to the same perceptions of threat and hazard.

Saudi Arabia rules out revaluation of currency

Saudi Arabia on Wednesday ruled out revaluing its dollar-pegged riyal saying currency stability was important for investors in the world's largest oil exporter, and would be concerned if the dollar fell 'substantially.'

Iran gets over 70% oil income in non-US currencies

Iran has boosted the income it gets from crude oil sales in non-US dollar currencies to more than 70 percent, an oil official said.

A switch in payment by Nippon Oil and other Japanese refiners to yen has helped the Islamic Republic towards its goal of maximising oil revenue in currencies other than the dollar while the greenback stays weak.

U.S. GAO to Study Effects of Refinery Outages

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) will next month begin a study on how refinery outages, anticipated and unintended, affect fuel prices.

Big Oil`s Project Costs No Longer Sticker Shock for Wall St

In 2005, Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSA) disclosed a cost overrun of roughly $10 billion at its giant Sakhalin 2 project in Russia, a disclosure that shocked the market and embarrassed the oil giant.

Last week, after much delay and hand-wringing over swelling costs, Shell and partner Saudi Aramco green-lighted a $7 billion project to expand the jointly-owned Motiva Enterprises LLC refinery in Port Arthur Texas. Motiva had previously estimated the project cost at $3.8 billion.

Fistfuls of cash, and spending it badly

PrimeWest, one of the country's largest energy trusts, which yesterday sold for $5-billion to a state-controlled company from Abu Dhabi. Yes, the sheiks of the Middle East are coming after our oil and gas, and far from being a national disaster, it's a blessing, if these are the prices they're willing to pay. Dumb money can be a beautiful thing.

Brazil: Energy profile

Brazil has experienced rapidly expanding oil, natural gas, and electricity consumption in recent years.

India: Produce or perish, Oil Ministry tells ONGC

Oil and Natural Gas Corp, nation's largest oil and gas producer, will become a marginal player if it did not set right its priorities and produce more hydrocarbons, Oil Ministry has warned the state-run firm.

In a stinker of a message at the firm's Strategy Meet at Agra on August 25-26, Petroleum Secretary MS Srinivasan said ONGC should stick to its core business of producing hydrocarbons and not divert resources for diversification plans like power and refinery projects.

Uganda, Congo boats clash on oil-rich lake

The Ugandan army exchanged fire with a Congolese boat on oil-rich Lake Albert and several people were killed and wounded in the clash, officials said Tuesday.

Accounts of Monday's incident differed, with the U.N. saying six died and the Ugandan army putting the toll at one dead. The lake has long been a source of tension between Congo and Uganda.

Gaia guru urges ocean pipes to fix Earth's climate

A series of giant pipes in the oceans to mix surface and deeper water could be an emergency fix for the Earth's damaged climate system, the scientist behind the Gaia theory said on Wednesday.

James Lovelock, whose Gaia hypothesis that planet Earth is a living entity has fuelled controversy for three decades, thinks the stakes are so high that radical solutions must be tried -- even if they ultimately fail.

Calls grow for EU biofuel rethink

The influential European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) is this week expected to call on the European Commission to reassess its target for ensuring 10 percent of road fuels come from biofuels by 2020.

Lula's push for biofuel criticised

Environmentalists and farmers have criticised Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the Brazilian president, for promoting the use of biofuels as the answer to global warming.

Biodiesel boom heading toward Wall Street

These days biodiesel isn't just good for the environment - it's good for the bottom line. The U.S. market for the combustible stuff has more than doubled every year since 2004 and will hit $1 billion this year. The number of retail pumps nationwide has grown from 350 in 2005 to more than 1,000 today.

ASPO 6. In Praise of… #3. Ray Leonard.

Ray Leonard of the Kuwait Energy Company was the speaker who, for me, stole the show. He offered, prefaced with a few caveats, insights from within the oil industry, setting out how what the oil industry tells the public and what it actually thinks are very different. One got a sense from listening to Leonard of the degree of profound unease behind closed oil company doors, as year after year they have to downsize their declared reserves and find themselves less and less able to be optimistic.

'Tips' for employees spark ire in automobile industry

In a time when $3-plus gas prices are looking more and more inevitable in the summer, and when some are pointing to vehicle emissions as potential contributors to climate change, it seems like a sensible, helpful subject to cover. But when HHS put forth some recommendations of specific car models, it sparked some ire in the cradle of the domestic auto industry.

Michigan’s entire 15-member delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives wrote HHS head Mike Leavitt to express alarm at the recommendations.

“The memo advises employees to buy smaller sedans instead of popular sport utility vehicles (SUVs); discusses how automobiles are responsible for air pollution, oil spills, pollution of our water supplies and damage to natural habitats; and includes a “Top 12” list that fails to include any vehicle made by a U.S. automobile manufacturer,” wrote the House members.

Bingaman, Rahall Press Interior on Royalty Management

Prominent House and Senate Democrats are pressing Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne to respond to "troubling questions" about royalty management they say are raised in a new report by the Interior Department's inspector general.

The report points to "conflicting roles and relationships with the energy industry" at Interior's Minerals Management Service and "systemic communication failures" that stymie federal auditors' royalty collection efforts, according to a letter to Kempthorne sent yesterday from Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) and Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.). They chair the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the House Natural Resources Committee, respectively.

Private sector and toll financing can help with funding new roads and bridges

Like most states these days, Oklahoma faces a serious shortage of funds to maintain, repair, and expand its highway system. The principal highway funding sources — state and federal fuel taxes — have not kept pace with inflation, rising construction costs or the extent of driving.

One alternative to either doing nothing or sharply increasing fuel taxes is to use toll finance to pay for new lanes and new roads in areas where demand is greatest. Other states and other countries have had considerable success with public-private partnerships for such toll projects. This is an alternative Oklahoma should seriously explore.

Smaller Oil Companies Fuel UK's North Sea Revival

Tax changes and investment incentives are transforming the landscape of Britain's North Sea -- reinvigorating Europe's second-largest oil basin after Norway and raising hopes that its long decline may slow.

The revival has taken many in the industry by surprise, because when the government in 2005 announced it would raise taxes on oil production, big international companies warned the move would discourage investments.

Cost, abuse and danger of the dollar

Oil buyers from all over the world hand over their yens, crowns, francs and other currencies. They receive greenbacks in return. With those dollars they go and buy oil in the OPEC-countries. The OPEC-countries will spend the money again. Of course, they can do that in the US, but also in all other countries in the world. Everybody wants dollars, for everybody will need oil again.

Budget rapped in probe of Mexico blasts

Interior Minister Francisco Ramirez Acuña told a congressional hearing Tuesday that a series of sharp cutbacks at Mexico's top intelligence service has hindered authorities in their efforts against a leftist guerrilla group that has been bombing oil pipelines.

Nepal: Acute fuel adulteration taking its toll

Fuel adulteration has become acute even as shortage and black marketing of petrol remains unabated since the past three weeks.

Automobile engineers and senior technicians at leading workshops in Kathmandu Valley said they are attending to adulteration-caused damages as never before. Consumers lamented that even the few liters of petrol they manage to get hold of is costing them dearly in terms of maintenance and repairs.

Ghana: Bakers Protest Against Hike in Flour Price

According to the Public Affairs Officer of the company, Adwoa Mensima Sey, the increase became necessary due to a 35% increase in wheat prices internationally over the last few months largely due to the demand for products like wheat and maize for the production of bio-diesel fuel.

Kazakh Lawmakers OK Bill So Govt Can Break Oil Deals

Kazakhstan's lower house of parliament Wednesday approved a bill that gives the state more power over contracts on subsurface resource use, Russian news agency Interfax reported.

The bill, which amends the law on subsurface deposits and their use, allows the state to revise the terms of a contract at a strategic deposit if the economic interests of the state have been impacted, Interfax said.

Nuclear, Biofuel, Oil Sands Needed to Cut Emissions, Shell Says

Governments must allow energy companies to produce fuels from all sources as lawmakers find the best solution to curb emissions blamed for climate change, a Royal Dutch Shell Plc executive said.

Wind farms are expensive, nuclear stations have difficulty dealing with waste, biofuels boost food prices and oil sands produce even higher emissions than oil, James Smith, chairman of Shell's U.K. unit, said yesterday in Oxford, England.

"Energy demand is going to continue to accelerate," Smith told a climate debate held by the Association of Masters of Business Administration, an educational and networking group. If lawmakers reject some energy sources, "we won't get anything left."

The Cork Consensus

A conference held in Cork, Ireland by the Association for the Study of Peak oil and Gas (ASPO) last week heard representatives from industry forecast that the best data available data pointed to reserves of 250 billion barrels of yet-to-find global conventional oil, and as a result oil production would plateau at less than 100 million barrels per day before 2020. This was followed up by a range of speakers who stated that current trends in bringing new projects onstream indicate that global oil production would peak on or before 2012, a forecast that coincides with the latest announcement from International Energy Agency that an oil crunch will occur by 2012.

Nannies Come Home to Roost

Global Warming and Peak Oil doomsdayers have a certain perverse fondness for trumpeting the latest "point of no return." We have only ten years to regulate this or fifteen years to phase out that in order to avert future catastrophe and the subsequent end of all good things. Of course, the goalposts shift, as they necessarily must when doomsday fails to arrive.

Pennsylvania: To reach strategy for the future, compromise will be necessary

Most members of the Leg islature, regardless of party, recognize that America's modern society is built on cheap energy and that our entire way of life is perilously dependent on some of the most unstable regions of the world. More than 60 percent of the nation's petroleum is imported.

...And there may be a few at the state Capitol who are familiar with the concept of "peak oil," which posits that the world is at or near the point of producing the maximum level of conventional oil even as the demand for oil continues to grow, especially in China, India and other rapidly developing countries, which portends steeply higher prices.

Court to Consider Energy Rate Cases

The Supreme Court said Tuesday it will rule on two cases involving electricity contracts that a Nevada power company and a county in Washington state seek to invalidate because they were signed at the height of the 2000-2001 Western energy crisis.

Nuclear plant testing gets OK

The Fresno City Council approved testing for a proposed nuclear power plant, even though construction of one is prohibited under state law.

Albania's dilemma: produce energy or protect the environment?

Albania's Sali Berisha says thermal power plants are the best way to meet the country's energy needs. But plans to build such a facility at a top tourist destination have local residents crying foul.

Higher Utility Bills Face Homeowners

Despite the pleasant early autumn weather warming much of the country, sky-high heating costs are in store this winter and many of the nation's households are in the grips of a home energy crisis, says a coalition of state officials, the AARP, and the nation's natural gas utilities. The group is calling on the Bush administration to release $151.5 million in federal emergency assistance funds to help poor households.

Most of the funds in this contingency pot will disappear, under the program enacted by Congress, if they are not released by September 30. Some 1.2 million U.S. households were disconnected from electric and natural gas service this summer due to failure to pay utility bills, says the National Energy Assistance Directors' Association. The average delinquent family's unpaid bill is $850, a sum that typically must be paid before it can be reconnected for the winter.

What's behind Myanmar's painful oil and gas price rise?

Public anger at sudden, steep fuel price rises in Myanmar in August triggered protests which have swelled into the largest demonstrations against the military junta in 20 years. Here are some facts on the country's energy policy and reserves.

Rebels threaten Candian oil firm in northeast India

A separatist group in India's restive northeast warned Canadian and Indian oil firms against carrying out exploration work in the region.

Saudi budget surplus hits record on surging oil prices

Oil powerhouse Saudi Arabia announced on Wednesday a record budget surplus of more than 77 billion dollars for 2006 thanks to surging crude prices.

The surplus of 290 billion riyals (77.5 billion dollars), unveiled in the central bank's annual report, compares with initial forecasts of a 14.7 billion dollar surplus and a final figure of 58 billion dollars in 2005.

Are we heading for Peak Food?

Now, Peak Oil may be very familiar to you as a Whiskey reader, but another peak phenomenon may not — Peak Food. Russia recently announced it may curtail wheat exports due to low global stockpiles and that has sent wheat to above $9, driving everything from bread to pasta exponentially higher. The worst could be yet to come.

I have to go chop some more wood for our stoves now. Really, I'm serious. Peak Oil is here. Peak Food will be here soon, too.

Scientist casts doubt over 'clean' coal

A leading scientist fears the federal government's clean energy target will be dominated by unproven clean coal technology.

Australian Academy of Science president Kurt Lambeck said the technology is 20 years away, and even then, would have limitations in curbing carbon emissions.

Investors urge action on climate change

Bill Clinton will be taking a leaf out of his political ally Al Gore's book on Monday as he takes part in the New York launch of a major study of large, global corporations' attitudes to climate change.

Australian PM downplays link between drought, climate change

Prime Minister John Howard warned against linking Australia's worst drought on record to doomsday forecasts about climate change Wednesday, saying "a sense of proportion" was needed.

I really enjoyed the essay Gail the Actuary researched and wrote the other day. Just my opinion, but I think the declining value of the US currency will worsen the supply/ demand effects of fossil fuels we discuss at TOD.

From the Interactive Investor article linked below:
"Yesterday, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia president Charles Plosser said the recent decision to ease monetary policy does indeed have "the potential for aggravating inflation... there's no question about that"


The War on PBS

I haven't missed a minute of it yet. Thank TIVO.

It is as good a use of TV as I have seen (to paraphrase George Will on the Civil War).

Love to re-visit a time when "the derricks were wooden and the men were iron" as it were.

As opposed to what we are today.


Indeed. It's been wonderful. I didn't realize how green/bad the Americans in North Africa were...that made me start thinking similarly about how soft we are now...

They played most of the "American Anthem" theme at the end of Part One, and it is the primary instrumental theme for the show. I thought that the highlighted portion of "American Anthem" is a good question for us to ask ourselves regarding how we use our remaining fossil fuel energy resources.

"American Anthem" Lyrics:

All we've been given by those who came before,

The dream of a nation where freedom would endure.

The works and prayers of centuries have brought us to this place.

What shall be our legacy? What will our children say?

Let them say of me, I am one who believes in sharing the blessings I receive.

Let me know in my heart when my days are through, America, I gave my best to you.

Each generation from the plains to distant shore,

With the gifts that they were given, were determined to leave more.

Valiant battles fought together, acts of conscience fought alone,

These are the seeds from which America has grown.

Let them say of me, I am one who believes in sharing the blessings I receive.

Let me know in my heart when my days are through, America, I gave my best to you.

For those who think they have nothing to share,

Who fear in their hearts there is no hero there.

Know that quiet acts of dignity are that which fortifies

The soul of a nation that never dies.

Let them say of me, I am one who believes in sharing the blessings I receive.

Let me know in my heart when my days are through, America, I gave my best to you.

I've been watching closely as well. It is certainly the best historical documentary I've ever seen. Better than the Civil War because of the actual footage of film and the people who are still alive to talk about the war.
It's been very enlightening in many ways.
My father was German and was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1943 after coming to this country in 1929. The War provides good perspectives for Japanese Americans and African Americans, but for me, the role of German Americans is also of interest.
My father came to this country because of what happened in Germany after WWI. He walked right into New York and the great depression, and then watched as his new country got embroiled in a war with his old country and had to go and fight against them. Now that's rotten luck.
After the war he did manage to get on his feet and ended up having a descent life.


Jeffery, I'm like a dog with a bone with this question but it sits in the back of my mind now like a feather under my armpit (If you'll excuse the phrase).

I previously asked (and still had no credible counterargument)

Is demand destruction the achilles heel of your ELM and if not, why not? Answers on a postcard.


A lot of the exporting countries are subsidizing internal consumption of oil products. As an example, demand destruction is unlikely in Venezeula as long as Hugo is in charge.

I am laughing becuse I made this point to someone yesterday. Further; that these subsidies are slowly being removed as these countries feel the pinch on their revenues from exports. Iran is the classis case. others are folling suit. I googled 'opec oil subsidies' yesterday and was suprised at the amount of headlines about countries removing their subsideies to their own population. Try google it yourself.


I wouldn't laugh too loud. Internal subsidy is only part of the story-exporting countries' economies improve as oil prices rise-this improvement in the economy generates internal demand even without subsidy.

I'd add that at these high prices, which aren't going away, oil exporting countries are making boatloads of money, creating an expanding class of people who will be able to afford FFs regardless of subsidies. As with everyone else, it's supply that's the most important, and gov'ts that try to restrict supply to their own people to maintain the revenue stream from exports risk internal strife.

The BBC says the current crisis in Burma was precipitated by a hike in fuel prices. I don't think Burma is a producing nation but the government (junta) there is presumably reducing subsidies. Sign of the times. Interesting study for other countries who are export nations and thinking of reducing subsidies.


The protests were triggered by the government's decision to double the price of fuel last month, hitting people hard in the impoverished nation.

Carbon UK

A lot of the exporting countries are subsidizing internal consumption of oil products. As an example, demand destruction is unlikely in USA as long as Cheney is in charge.

Arkansaw of Samuel L Clemens

mcgowanmc -

A lot of the exporting countries are subsidizing internal consumption of oil products.

See my reply to BrianT above.

James Gervais

BrianT :-

A lot of the exporting countries are subsidizing internal consumption of oil products.

If a government of a country that exports oil and/or natural gas sets an internal price below the world price, it is NOT necessarily a subsidy, unless the price charged doesn't pay for the exploration, production, refining, transportation, and marketing. The price of any substance or object is whatever the holder wants, and there is no reason why a government shouldn't treat it's own people better than foreigners. Too many people have bought into the bs of "the market knows best".

James Gervais


As Brian noted, I expect to see revenue from export sales increasing, even as exports fall, because of rising oil prices. But I guess the key question is what price is charged to consumers in exporting countries, which will vary from country to country.

However, I think that it will be very difficult for governments in exporting countries to try to reduce domestic consumption when sales from exports are increasing. A case in point is Saudi Arabia, which is showing an accelerating increase in consumption, above 9%/year currently, according to Rembrandt.

In any case, even in the absence of any real increase in consumption, e.g. the UK, net exports can still crash--peak exports to zero in seven years in the UK.

Jeffery, I'm like a dog with a bone with this question but it sits in the back of my mind now like a feather under my armpit (If you'll excuse the phrase).

I previously asked (and still had no credible counterargument)

Is demand destruction the achilles heel of your ELM and if not, why not? Answers on a postcard.

I wouldn't be so smug. Oil prices have gone from $2 to over $80 since the first oil shock of the 1970's. Since then there has never been a single 5 year period where oil consumption has been less than in the previous 5 year period - despite increases in energy efficiency and substitution. Why? Because there is an extremely, almost 100% correlation between oil consumption and GDP growth. The unhappy truth is that this demand destruction you speak of, far from lowering oil consumption through conservation, would instead do so via recession, or as is more likely, recessions.

Oil prices have gone from $2 to over $80 since the first oil shock of the 1970's.

That's a 7x real increase in price, according to the BLS inflation calculator.

Since then there has never been a single 5 year period where oil consumption has been less than in the previous 5 year period

That's simply not true, at least according to EIA data on world oil demand.

Based on that data, the periods fitting your requirements are:

  • 1980-1984 vs. 1975-1979: -1.8GB (-1.6%)
  • 1981-1985 vs. 1976-1980: -5.4GB (-4.7%)
  • 1982-1986 vs. 1977-1981: -5.6GB (-4.8%)
  • 1983-1987 vs. 1978-1982: -3.4GB (-3.0%)

there is an extremely, almost 100% correlation between oil consumption and GDP growth.

Correlation does not imply causation. Global GDP growth was positive in every one of the above years, and in the 10 years it took oil demand to get back to 1979's level, world GDP grew by about 25-30%.

So there's very little indication that the link is as strong as you suggest.

"Correlation does not imply causation. Global GDP growth was positive in every one of the above years, and in the 10 years it took oil demand to get back to 1979's level, world GDP grew by about 25-30%.

So there's very little indication that the link is as strong as you suggest."

I don't have the numbers in front of me, but I'll bet most of the decrease in oil demand over those years was from increases in efficiency. There may have been a net increase in applied oil-based energy despite reduction in oil use after taking the improved efficiency into account, and this is what should be used to determine the strength of the link to GDP.

Saudi budget surplus ..

Mr Naimi, the Saudi oil minister and de-facto OPEC chairman complains about "policies that discourage the use of petroleum products [that] put an unfair burden on Saudi Arabia in the fight against climate change".

He would like importing countries to "ensure appropriate solutions 'while maintaining the continued growth of the global economy.'"

So he wants us to consume more oil, but burn less?

Meets his usual standard of logic.

Do I sense a veiled threat from Mr Naimi?

No company on earth is in theory able to dictate that others do not move away from his product or be compensated for people doing so (well a monopoly could in theory, but there would be nothing to move to).

Companies just price lower, if there are other, cheaper alternatives or less demand

But then again, oil is not a freely traded market commodity in that sense.

AND, Aramco is no ordinary company nor is OPEC an ordinary group.

What are they insinuating that they will do, if the importing countries will buy less of their goods?

Keep limiting the production faster than exports fall, in order to hike up the prices and compensate for the reduced exports?

If Naimi's comments are more than just propaganda or acts of desperation, this is going to get really interesting.

Then again, I'm really curious as to where does he thiink that this sudden large scale reduction of petroleum products comes from?

Bio-fuels? Don't make me laugh :)

His argument is logical; our conduct is not. We are pushing development of alternatives (in a pathetic kind of way) while demanding KSA increase their production capacity at tremendous cost to them. By the time their new capacity comes on line, we reduce our usage because we have brought on alternatives. They have just wasted a lot of money.

But then, superficially, most of their arguments about why they aren't increasing production make sense.

But their threat is not to increase capacity so we get hurt in the short-run. Now coincidentally, that decision not to increase capacity for all of the reasons given (weak dollar, market well-supplied, KSA's products aren't selling, etc., etc.) masks any inability of KSA to actually increase production.

Yes, but our efforts to increase production of alternatives (or to reduce consumption) are being driven largely (at least in the US) by the high price of oil. Had they simply kept oil at $30 by pumping more, they would not be in this mess.

I wonder how Mr. Naimi would feel if the US just adopted European-style petrol taxes?

He has actually commented on European gasoline taxes and suggested that in light of current prices (which of course do not reflect market funadamentals) that the European governments reveiw their tax strategies to take pressure off the poor in Europe. What a thoughtful guy.

The link above “Are we heading for Peak Food?” is very good. Of course we are headed for peak food. Peak oil means peak food, after a few years lag. However peak oil is not the only thing causing peak food. There are the changing weather patterns, desertification, falling water tables limiting irrigation, rivers drying up and a host of other things.

The simultaneity of all these things should cause absolute panic. However no one seems to notice, most everyone seems to think “we will figure out something to fix everything”. Of course we will not because there is no fix. There may be a few things that we can do that might mitigate the problem, but nothing can fix it. And anyway, it is very unlikely that any mitigating steps will be made. Peak food, then sharply declining food will bitch slap us right in the face when we least expect it.

Peak oil means peak food….after a short lag time. Peak food means peak people….after a short lag time.

Ron Patterson

No. It will be a very long lag time until the Earth reaches peak population. The current global life expectancy is 65 yrs. Countries with life expectancies in the low to mid 30s are still increasing population. A guesstimate is that global population will keep climbing until ave life expectancy reaches 35 yrs-this is a long way after peak food supply.

And whose guesstimate is that Brian?

Countries with a life expectancy in the mid thirties are still growing in population, (but just barely), because they are still popping out babies like they are going out of style. And most of these babies are surviving because there is still food to keep them alive, (again just barely.)

You are looking at what is happening right now, not at what must happen when the food supply starts to drop. People cannot survive without food! It is as simple as that.

And by the way, the reason the average life expectancy is dropping so dramatically in most of these countries is because of AIDS. AIDS takes mostly older sexually active people. A lack of food takes everyone but it affects the very old and the very young the most. And since there are no very old in these countries, lower food supply will affect primarily the very young, those least able to hunt of beg for food.

Ron Patterson

I don't think there's any country where life expectancy is really that low, and very few where it is even close.
The more scholars refine their studies, the lower incidence of AIDS they find (not that it isn't still far too high).

try Zimbabwe. man lives 37 woman 34 (from CIA fact book)

That is not a very reliable source: for example, it differs from the figures offered by national statistical offices, even in countries with developed record keeping, and does so without explanation or argument. It would be better called the CIA guess book.

This country appears to be eating about 300 Billion calories too many each day, if the fat asses in SUVs dropping their fat kids off at school is any indication.

I'm SURE we can spare some calories.

One interesting evolutionary phenomenon is the development of smaller critters when there is long-term food (or maybe just any environmental) stress on a population. There's fossil evidence in everything from shrinking snails in gradually drying wetlands, to the small hippos that lived at one time on islands in the Mediterranean.

It isn't just that their growth is stunted, either. The Darwinian tendency is for survival of smaller individuals, while the larger (therefore hungrier) individuals disappear from the record.

The problem will solve itself.
But not in a nice way.

This is indeed interesting, in that it is a form of Lamarkian inheritance. People who are stunted through malnutrition in childhood have small children even if they are well fed. The effect wears off after a few generations. It works by methylation of dna sequences in the sperm/eggs affecting gene expression in future generations. It is a fine-tuning of Darwinian evolution, not a contradiction of it.

No. In 6 weeks 99% of a population is dead w/o

The Ozzie's wheat production last year was 9.8 million tons.

I had thought it was 14.

This year's will be close to 5.5 million tons.

If this number comes in Australia will have trouble feeding it's own people, much less exporting.

Soy about to hit $10. Wheat back above $9 today.

Arkansaw of Samuel L Clemens

Have you guys considered the possibility that you are arguing from emotion rather than logic?

Right! Using pure logic, how can one survive without food? If you cut the food supply in half in Uganda, half the people would die since they are already living at the very edge of their possible survival rate on the food they currently have.

And those demographic numbers are often bogus, just like a lot of those oil reserve numbers that come out of the Middle East. The CIA Factbook estimates that the population growth rate of Zimbabwe is 0.595% (2007 est.) That is a laugh. This article: http://headheeb.blogmosis.com/archives/026962.html
Says Zimbabwe's population is falling like a rock, mostly due to emigration. But that is what people do when they cannot find food, they go where they can find food. But soon there is no where else to go when the food disappears and people just die.

Ron Patterson

The people that can get food-the people that don't die-pump out as many kids as possible. A common theme on this site is that increased standards of living lower the "fertility rate" (offspring per woman). Has it not occurred to you what is going to happen on the downslope of oil production? That is correct- the "fertility rate" globally is going to increase dramatically.

Maybe we'll start raising humans for food.

Has it not occurred to you what is going to happen on the downslope of oil production? That is correct- the "fertility rate" globally is going to increase dramatically.

A caveat here. Fertility rate is not survival rate. Fertility rate is the number of babies born to women during their childbearing years. When the survival rate is very low women must have as many children as possible in order to have one or two survive to adulthood. Children are a kind of “social security” in desperately poor countries.

However that being said, one thing you are not considering here Brian, that is food. We are talking about the supply of food here. Why do you refuse to even consider that fact? When the supply of food starts to drop, then in countries already on the cusp of starvation, people will become malnourished. Bellies will swell and children will die. Malnourished women are less fertile and they have a lot more miscarriages.

Just use common logic Brian. If you just enough food to keep 100 lab rats alive then you cut their food supply in half, you will soon have only about 50 lab rats alive. Likewise if you have just enough food to keep a nation of 10 million people alive, then if that nation’s food supply is cut in half, you will soon have only 5 million people.

The very idea that the less food will automatically mean a higher population of any species goes against every tenant of nature. It just cannot possibly happen. Your logic goes like this: ”Poor starving people have more children. Therefore we can infer that the poorer they become the more children they will have. If we cut their food supply in half then their numbers would then double, or at least get much larger”

Well…..no Brian, it just does not work like that. If people have only just enough food to keep them alive then cutting their food supply in half would soon halve the population.

Ron Patterson

Ron: Okay- then you tell me what global life expectancy will be at the point when global population peaks and starts to turn down. My point (which you ignore) is that you are not going to get, contrary to your beliefs, global population declining while ave life expectancy is 65 yrs.

Life expectancy will probably drop to 20 years or even less. It depends on the age distrubution of the population. There will be so many excess deaths that life expectancy will become essentially meaningless. This is an unprecedented situation for humanity. No wonder people have so much trouble wrapping their minds around it.

Here's a good analysis of what to expect as energy goes into decline. There will be about 100 million excess deaths per year (WW2 was only 10 million excess deaths) for a few years.


Brian, you say:

you are not going to get, contrary to your beliefs, global population declining while ave life expectancy is 65 yrs.

Good lord man, where did you get the information that this was contrary to my beliefs? You just had to make that crap up because I have never, in my entire lifetime, expressed such an absurd opinion. A man would have to be stone crazy to think people would start to starve to death while life expectancy was still at an all time high.

When people start to fight and die over a lack of food, the life expectancy will drop like a rock. The life expectancy in countries where food is in very short supply, like Zimbabwe or Haiti, is much lower than it is in countries where there the food supply is plentiful.

What I am talking about Brian is food supply! Our present population exploded to its current level because of a similar explosion in food supply. People live longer because better food, and more food, makes them healthier. That and of course the fact that better fed people usually has better medical treatment as well.

Very important point: The scarcity of food in sub-Sahara Africa is not the reason there are so many people there. The scarcity of food in sub-Sahara Africa is the reason there are not more people there. In areas where people live at the very edge of existance then more food means more people. Less food means in areas where over half the people are malnorished means less people. Take food from people who are already on the verge of starvation and they will not automatically have more kids.

But I digress. The population exploded because of the availability of much more food, brought about by the green revolution. When that food starts to disappear, people will not live nearly as long. Malnutrition will take a heavy toll on people of all ages. Less food does not mean more poor people, which seems to be the basis of your entire argument. Less food means fewer poor people. (Except of course in the case where well off people become poor. What I mean is there will be less of those who were already poor before the drop in food supplies.) Less food will mean the average lifespan will drop dramatically. When babies die of malnutrition that pulls down the average lifespan. And that is exactly what one would expect.

Okay Brian, basic rule: Less food to feed the animals means fewer animals. More food to feed the animals means more animals. And it makes no difference whether those animals are rats, cows, pigs or human beings.

Ron Patterson

If there is a food shortage, life expectance will drop acordingly.

Life expectance does not have to follow a pretty curve, it can sudenly change. And it does sudenly change when there are wars, famine or any other kind of crisis.

But, even otherwise, world population can be reduced while life expectance remains unchanged, or even increases. That is not a necessary condition.

But, even otherwise, world population can be reduced while life expectance remains unchanged, or even increases. That is not a necessary condition.

Well, I don't really think so. A nation can reduce its population while the life expectancy remains the same, but not the world. A very educated nation can use birth control and reduce its population while its life expectancy remains very high. But if a lack of food is the cause, then this would be impossible. Impossible because malnutrition would automatically cause the life expectancy to drop dramatically.

Ron Patterson

On Ron's comment that the CIA Factbook is wrong on Zimbabwe's population growth - I like the CIA Factbook, but have also noticed a few cases where their statistics on this sort of thing flunk the sanity check. Does anyone know of a site or resource that is independent of CIA Factbook, but has similar information?

It appears that they got their data from the CIA Factbook because they have the exact same population growth rates as they. So their data is just as bad as the CIA Factbook because it is the exact same data.

Ron Patterson

Try Earthtrends


I strongly suspect that most demographic data, including the CIA Factbook, comes from the UN agencies such as WHO, FAO etc.

>Says Zimbabwe's population is falling like a rock, mostly due to emigration. But that is what people do when they cannot find food, they go where they can find food. But soon there is no where else to go when the food disappears and people just die.

Diseases are usually the leading cause of death went food resources decline. Its rare that people die from starvation. The lack of proper food makes highly high susceptible to diseases that result in death. Large scale malnuetrition leads to epidemics that can wipe out large numbers fairly rapidly. This can be a critical factor, since people that become carriers can flee a region and spread the disease to other regions causing a cascade affect. We'll probably see a regional epidemic (non-AIDs related) in the not too distant future.

Africa will likely be the first collapse do to declining energy resources (although AIDs added a nail to the African coffin). In Richard Duncan's update, he wrote that he expected the poor countries to fair better tham industrialize nations, because they were not as dependant on modern science and industialization to survive. Unfortunely much of the poor is depend on the west. In times of crisis, the west has sent food and other critical resources which have prevented diseases from spreading. Once the west can no longer afford to supply aid, then small crisis will evolve into much a bigger crisis.

Since the West recieves about 10% of its oil imports from Africa, this could be another potential rapid energy crunch crisis. For instance, if a major pandemic occurs in africa, its likely that african exports will drop significantly.

FWIW: Its a real shame to see all these people heading for disaster. Its very unfortunate that we did not undergo the necessary social development during the early 20th century that could have avoid the suffering of the 21th century. Unfortunely there is nothing that can be done now, to change the situation for the better.

Diseases are usually the leading cause of death went food resources decline. Its rare that people die from starvation. The lack of proper food makes highly high susceptible to diseases that result in death.

Techguy, let us not nitpick. People die because they do not have enough food to eat. That is all that matters. Starvation or diseases related to starvation, it really does not matter. They did not have enough food to eat so they died.

1960 had even worse weather than 1959. The harvest of 1960 was 144 million tons. 9 million people are thought to have starved to death in 1960 alone; many millions were left desperately ill as a result of a lack of food. The government had to introduce rationing. This put people on the most minimal of food and between 1959 and 1962, it is thought that 20 million people died of starvation or diseases related to starvation.

Ron Patterson

>Techguy, let us not nitpick. People die because they do not have enough food to eat. That is all that matters. Starvation or diseases related to starvation, it really does not matter. They did not have enough food to eat so they died.

Sorry if it came across, that way, I was just added upon your statements, not to nitpick. The point I was trying to address is that the spread of diseases can compound the problem of starvation. ie sick refugees flee a region into other regions that haven't been a severely affected.

HIV in parts of sub-Saharan Africa is pretty much paralleling in slow motion what happened from India to Iceland from 1347 to 1350, when the black plague took a third of everyone alive at the time. The countries who are coping well have a 10% infection rate and those doing badly see 40%. Pile food stress on top of this and its a recipe for disaster. The west will be powerless to stop it and foolish if they try - we are going down to carrying capacity in each and every place we inhabit sooner or later.

What does a generalized sub-Saharan health disaster have to do with oil export? When things get bad enough that Nigerian delta will settle right down, because there won't be anyone left there to disagree with the government in Lagos.

It is always possible, but you are not stating your case clearly, if you do not present the factual/logical counter-arguments.

I for one, cannot follow your logic, based on what you have posted. That doesn't mean you cannot be right, the data just isn't there to make the conclusion.

I'm more inclined to agree with Darwinian approach:

- great river system deltas are shrinking (a big chunk of world's rice production is cultivated on these)
- fertile topsoil area is shrinking (less room to grow food)
- extreme weather conditions (projected to intensify) are playing havoc on crops (more unexpected crop losses, more often)
- glaciers are melting away (a big source of irrigation water, potential reduction in crops)
- aquifiers are being used faster than they replenish (important irrigation source in some parts, again potential reduction in crops)
- (fossil) energy intensity / sq meter of cultivated land is increasing due to monocropping, more pesticides/herbicides/fungicides/fertilizer
- the amount of mouths to feed is increasing (more people)
- the average caloric intake of an earth citizen is increasing (better wealth, developing countries)
- the average emergy of a meal is increasing (i.e more beef, less vegetable proteins)

This does not bid well for feeding the world.

I'd like to be wrong on this, but if one adds Peak Oil (& natural gas) to the above list, the 20-40 year trends starts to look pretty grim.

I recommend anyone who doesn't know the facts to read Lester R. Brown's Plan B 2.0 if one hasn't already read it.

It has all the above major trends in it to understand the soil/water/food/temp/energy predicament.

Granted, 20-40 years is a long ways off and the error margin can be huge, as history of future studies have so many tims shown.

However, I wouldn't bet my policy or life miracles happening on the upside. Those miracles need to be designed, engineered, implemented and built into infrastructures. That's policy. Everything else is wishful thinking. Maybe correct in due time with right amount of luck and unexpected/unforeseen changes, but not very wise, imho.

Samu: All your examples are doing a great job at causing global population decline. Pretty soon this planet will be empty of humans.


there you go again :)

Is that a troll? Sarcasm? Strawman?

I can't tell :)

Yes, I don't believe in linear extrapolation esp. on mid-to long term ranges.

However, even if one were to draw a normal logistic s-curve on those trends, the short-to-mid term isn't very optimistic.

Also, if you wanted to say that a potential big reduction in crops could result in mass famines over a long run, then yes I agree.

I just don't know, but the data I see, is a bit more tipped to downside risks than upside miracles.

Samu: To summarize- I originally just stated that there would be a long, not short, time lag between peak food supply and peak human population globally. It is my estimation that most are underestimating the ability of the global human population to keep increasing in number while the global food supply declines. I might be wrong-we shall see.

The decreased ability of mountain ranges to hold snowmelt is a big deal, similar to the glacier decline but different. Climate change is warming these mountains that had acted as a "rainwater bank."
Precipitation from large winter storms held in the form of snow and released slowly during the spring and summer as snowmelt is very important to many areas of the world. Now these areas are seeing floods in the winter from water they used to be able to count on having months later.

Where are you getting the 5.5 number? Current estimates seem to be around 15 million metric tons for wheat.

I've read the same:


Australian Bureau of Agricultural & Resource Economics, or ABARE, slashedits 2007 wheat production forecast to 15.5 million metric tons, down 31% fromits June estimate, due to persistent dryness in wheat-growing areas."

That's correct, and their long term average is around 15 million. Yields of 20 to 25 are a recent, since 2000, occurence. Given the drought and outlooks with climate change, I doubt those high levels will be reached.

Apparently it is just an over-excited doomer.

...who can't add up either.
Suppose our wheat harvest WAS only 5 million tons. There are 20 million of us Aussies. So that's 250kg of wheat each.
At 3500 calories per kg x 250kg divided by 365 days per year it is roughly 2500 calories per person per day from wheat alone. And we do grow rice, barley, rye and oats as well. And fruit and vegetables, meat, fish, dairy etc etc.

On the wider topic - peak oil is not peak energy, and peak energy does not mean peak food if more efficient food production techniques are able to compensate for reduced energy inputs.(Ignoring this issue will be a handy way to identify people who aren't interested in the facts).

You may of course argue that increased efficiencies in production will be insufficient to offset the effect of decreased energy inputs.

If we are to believe in things we cannot see or touch, how do we tell the true belief from the false belief?

We talk a lot about oil, but its about time we made a map of who has neither oil nor grain to export. And then start praying for the residents of those states.

Richard Heinberg wrote a book.

Book Description

The twentieth century saw unprecedented growth in population, energy consumption, and food production. As the population shifted from rural to urban, the impact of humans on the environment increased dramatically.

The twenty-first century ushered in an era of declines, in a number of crucial parameters:

* Global oil, natural gas, and coal extraction
* Yearly grain harvests
* Climate stability
* Population
* Economic growth
* Fresh water
* Minerals and ores, such as copper and platinum

I'm interested in facts.
Do you have some facts on the "more efficient food production techniques" and how, when and where they will be implemented.
Considering that you say peak oil does not mean peak energy, then you put a caveat on your statement and assert "You may of course argue that increased efficiencies in production will be insufficient to offset the effect of decreased energy inputs".

peak oil is not peak energy, and peak energy does not mean peak food if more efficient food production techniques are able to compensate for reduced energy inputs.

Fossil fuels, and in particular oil, are our primary energy sources (over 80%), and the material basis for our entire way of life ever since the industrial revolution began, so how then does peak oil not then herald the peak of all energy seeing that it is our primary energy source and the master key for the whole economy? Bold grandiose statements to the contrary do not eliminate this fact.

Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending September 21, 2007

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) rose by 1.8 million barrels compared to the previous week. However, at 320.6 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are above the upper end of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories increased by 0.6 million barrels last week, and are well below the lower end of the average range. Finished gasoline fell last week while gasoline blending components rose. Distillate fuel inventories increased by 1.6 million barrels, and are in the upper half of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories increased 0.8 million barrels last week. Total commercial petroleum inventories increased by 4.2 million barrels last week, but are in the middle of the average range for this time of year.

And this is what was expected:

U.S. crude oil stocks are expected to have fallen 2 million barrels, on average, for the fifth-straight week in the week ended Sept. 21, according to a Dow Jones Newswires survey of analysts.

Inventories of distillates, which include heating oil and jet fuel, are forecast to have dropped 1.1 million barrels while gasoline inventories are expected to have gained about 100,000 barrels. Refinery use is expected to have declined 0.7 percentage point to 88.8 percent of capacity.

YTD (263 days) 2007 v 2006:

  • domestic production UP 60 kbpd
  • NGL production UP 154 kbpd for crude + NGL total of 214 kbpd
  • total net imports DOWN 223 kbpd

Sounds like import substitution to me.

Declining Net Oil Exports Versus “Near Record High” Crude Oil Inventories: What is going on?
Posted on September 14, 2007 - 8:18am

I expect to see crude oil exports trending down, crude oil prices trending up, refinery utilization trending down, product prices trending up, and product inventories trending down.

I pulled some numbers together for 9/21/07 versus 9/22/06:


Total Petroleum Imports, 4 week average: 12.0 mbpd/12.9 mbpd

WTI: $80/$61

Refinery Utilization: 87%/92%

Gasoline: $2.79/$2.59 (approx. monthly average)

Total Product Inventories: 700 mb/760 mb.

In reference to the Need to Cut emissions through nuclear, biofuels, etc., above I caught this through Downstream:


I followed the trail to this:


and finally to the study (here):


Last year I attended the Workshop on Agricultural Air Quality: State of the Science, where this was hinted at because of the addition of "active" nitrogen loadings in the ecosystem and the way N2O shows up (see www.eas.org/airworkshop )

No matter how we seem to cut it, we are imprisoned in a closed system And a box of our own design.

No matter how we seem to cut it, we are imprisoned in a closed system And a box of our own design.

I have occasionally tried to learn about macro economics from people who know such things.

They look at me as if I'm crazy when I say "Okay, so we start with the raw materials and stored energy in earth's gravity well, each year we can add the ambient energy of the sun, moon and stars, plus the dust that falls into the well, plus one year of time..."

I think that's way more macro then they tend to study.

You should consider looking into biophysical economics or ecological economics.

They try to model a sub-branch of economics that adheres to the scientific principles.

"The only group with a worse track record than petrochemical engineers and petrogeologists looking for oil is economists"

As I am reminded from time to time, any economic system is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the natural ecology that makes up this little planet of ours.

But somehow the rules of money (or more aptly, those whom clain to know the rules of money) don't seem to follow the first or second laws of thermodynamics. I was reminded of this by a long essay by Ernest Partidge when he was discussing some of the foibles of the likes of Julian Simon.

Scary stuff.

In the case of corn, the NO2 is permanent tech-killer. But for palm-oil, a lot of the CO2 release looks like a one-off. Sure it's bad the first year (when the bogs dry out and burn), but after that it's a net CO2 saver.

Maybe the answer is Organic Ethanol!

How expensive would that be, I wonder....

I thought William F. Engdahl was a serious scholar. Nah...

War and "Peak Oil"
Confessions of an ‘ex’ Peak Oil believer

And I thought Asia Times On-Line was a serious web site holding to a fairly high standard.

Bet you a dollar we see a push for Government subsidy of abiotic oil exploration. Must be at least 6 Yergins worth of rumour oil out there just waiting for a subsidy.

What is the precise def'n of a Yergin? I have been thinking that it would be instructive to calculate the rate of change of oil. This is most conveniently expressed as the first derivative of the Yergin with respect to the Friedman: dY/dF > (any number that Westexas comes up with).

One "Yergin" = $38 per barrel. This is based on Yergin's assertion, in a 11/1/04 Forbes column, that oil prices would be back to about $38 by 11/1/05, because of new oil production. Oil prices crossed the $60 mark in 2005, prior to the hurricanes.

As a general rule, one should assume that oil prices will be at least be twice Yergin's predictions, resulting in my 6/28/07 oil price warning (that prices were about to go up)--because of Yergin's prediction that oil prices would be back down to $60 next year, which led me to suggest that we should be looking for $120 oil next year.

I was quite surprised about this as well.

Whatever one thinks of this other works, this writing was pure nonsense.

I think he should have done his background research more diligently on that.

The peak food article is very timely. I've suggested a couple of times that while oil availability is geological we really need to look at the oil/food complex. Oil exporting countries won't be terribly cocky if they've got no wheat, and vice versa.

The Nagaland insurgency is interesting as well - every disaffected group with oil production in their territory is going to be pulling a Nigeria soon. Mexico was what woke me up and now there is another one in the news. How long will it be before Texans remind us the Lone Star state was independent once and then try to annex Oklahoma for its oil production on the basis of proximity and shared culture?

OK, a little hyperbole there, but who is up for a little betting pool? Pick the date and the radical group behind this country's first petroleum related structure hit.

I pick ... October 17th, 2008 ... and the radical group will be the Bush administration, staging a false flag operation at multiple locations in order to suspend elections, declare martial law, and complete the progression from democracy to fascism.

Nagaland, in north east India, is 90% Christian and 75% of them are Baptist???


So ... Christians are fighting for their freedom against Indian oppression ... and they've got oil. Its a shame they don't have a bit of coast so the Bush administration could bring democracy to them, too ...

North East India has been plagued by secessionist movements since Indian independence in 1947. If anything, things have quieted down in recent years. People from NE India feel alienated from the mainstream population. They are ethnically different from other Indians and NE India is poor, backward and neglected compared to the rest of the country. Big parts of NE India have a Christian majority thanks to the missionary activity (used to be animist/tribal a few decades ago).

Assam - with a Hindu majority - is the only NE Indian state with oil. There are periodic attacks on oil infrastructure and out of state population by terrorist groups like ULFA.

I don't think Nagaland has any oil; this was just an exploratory trip.


Where is the "coast" in Afghanastan???

Umm...he said they didn't have any.

This is the fundamental fallacy of looking only at geologic constraints to oil production (in addition to the ELM effect) - these "above ground effects" will dominate once the excess capacity is gone. If there were excess capacity, then blowing up a pipeline wouldn't matter much, and therefore wouldn't be effective. Likewise, these regions with relatively small amounts of oil wouldn't have mattered that much at one time. Now suddenly, there is no excess capacity, and so everyone is trying to use the leverage it gives them. The natural causes just add to the problem. It will not stop.

Part of my job is building IP networks that will stand up to link and component failures. Customers are always quite surprised to find they'll need two of everything with service contracts and their on site expert is nearly helpless in a dynamic routed redundant environment.

We don't have the time or the money to build our energy distribution that way, so establishing buffers is our only hope, and we have to do so in the face of decreasing supplies and increasing prices.

I've personally laid in twenty gallons of stabilized gas - enough for a good long run to pick up friends & family in my little Versa should things get hairy. I've been looking around for one of those storage barrels that goes on a stand but I'm not sure if this is wise given all the pilfering problems we have around here - we don't have a good place to put it that isn't visible from the road.

We're on city gas here but dual mode gas/propane furnaces and stoves are the norm in this part of the world. This is a two to four thousand dollars in commitment by the time I get tank, fill it, convert stuff, etc. I have my fingers crossed for the interview next Tuesday ...

Electricity is pretty hardened here - local city sized diesel generator on top of existing grid. I do feel the need for something to drive the furnace in the event of power line loss. We get ice storms and two of the five aging lindens in the front yard have come down in recent years. That will likely be just a simple gasoline powered unit in the first increment.

And here we are, living in interesting times ...

While I could retrofit my current home to make it less susceptible to grid outage and such, my plan is for me to move out, buy a chunk of land, and then build a small home that is totally off-grid. By the time things get nasty, I'll have all the essentials down-pat. If nothing bad ever happens, then I won't be dependent on anyone for my heating, cooling, food, etc. It's my 5 year plan...
~Durandal (http://www.wtdwtshtf.com/)

I found a four bedroom today for sale - $7,500. Probably going to get a chance to look at it tomorrow. Don't have a good sense of how much land goes with it - certainly victory garden space given that it has out buildings.

It'll likely be a trash pit at that price, but we shall see ... yes, that is a seven, a five, and two zeros following. Things are different out here ...

Spend, spend, spend. It's no way to happiness

REDUCE greed. There's your answer. Thank you and good night.

Nothing new, nothing fancy, nothing even slightly original. Here's a tip to increase your happiness. Just stop trying to fill that gaping hole inside yourself with more stuff. Or shelving for the stuff. Or a bigger house for the shelving. It doesn't work. It just makes the hole bigger. Everything won't be fine if you just get new light fittings, replace the curtains or buy a new mobile phone. No one needs 12 doona covers. Everything will be fine if you take a big breath and stop buying crap you don't need with money you don't have to impress people you don't like.

I've been tip toeing up to this ...

Right now we have the First Church of Christ, Investment Banker set in charge of this country. The very best thing for all parties involved would seem to be this whole Buddhist concept of renunciation - gonna die anyway, can't take it with you, so tell us again why you're piling all that stuff up?

That is, of course, far too much to hope for, but a sea change in spiritual outlook, as described in this link, would be a very, very good thing.

The other day Westexas proposed to introduce Yergins at $38 a barrel. I would like to bid $2 higher and propose 1 Fisher = $40 per barrel. Dr Fisher from the Australian ABARE had this to say during a Senate Hearing last year:

If your long-term expectation is that oil prices will be sustained at very high levels then you
bring in all this extra supply. The reason you do not see that extra supply rushing in today is that effectively people are not convinced that oil prices are going to stay at these levels. If for the sake of the current argument we set aside government policy—that is, if we leave government
policy settings as they are in the world today and do not try to anticipate what might happen, for example, on climate change—then basically in the long term you could say that there is a backstop technology, to use the eco-jargon, at about $40 a barrel. That will come from the
liquefaction of coal and the production of syncrude from coal. That would lead me to suggest that, if you are looking at long-term real prices of oil over the next 50 years, anybody who calls a price above $40 is not taking account of the bringing into place of the liquefaction of coal. That might be a legitimate call, but that would have to depend on government policy settings changing as a consequence, for example, of greenhouse policy.

and, after a question from a Senator on whether there is some good in the fact that high oil pricing drives new exploration:

You might be aware of the saying from an old Arkansas agricultural economist:
‘If the price of eggs is high enough, even the roosters will start to lay.’

So here you are, we define 1 Fisher = $40 per barrel = opportunity cost of cock to liquids.

I wonder if Fisher will be shown the door if there is a change of government later this year. ABARE's reports on agriculture are usually quite sound but they lose it on energy projections which always assume indefinite economic growth. In fact I might delete some pdf's already shown to be unrealistic. Maybe the Senators like to hear rosy predictions so they can feel safe in their own cushy jobs.

Maybe the Senators like to hear rosy predictions so they can feel safe in their own cushy jobs.

That is unfair to the Senators. Green Senator Milne, for example, described just yesterday in a forum on peak oil in Parliament House in Sydney how peak oil and global warming are interdependent. Incidentally, the forum took place in the very same room in which Dr. Bakhtiari gave his 3 hr. presentation to the Senate committee last year in July. His WOCAP model seems to be spot on up to now. What matters is not so much whether total oil production is 81 mb/d (that was criticized here on Theoildrum) or 85 mb/d (who will ever be able to physically check on this) but how the shape of the production plateau (Bakhtiari: "transition phase T1") evolves. We see exactly those shortlived peaks and production dips of which Bakhtiari said that T1 will have both periods of growth and decline until decline takes over at the end of T1.

He's got a point - as long as nobody imposes any carbon taxes. But once the carbon taxes or GHG cap-and-trade systems are in place, CTL, non-THAI shale oil, and SynCrude will be back over $200 overnight.

A "Yergin" was defined a bit over a year ago. While you may have only recently heard of it, the term has been used here off and on for quite some time, along with the term "Daniel Yergin Day (July 13, 2006). During the ensuing discussion of "Daniel Yergin Day" here at TOD (I believe it was on a Drumbeat about that same time), someone coined the term "Yergin" to describe units of oil prices.

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

Into the Grey Zone

Something seems to be in error with east coast PADD-I gasoline data this week, unless EIA has updated their data.

Stocks are up 2.1 mb
Imports to PADD I are up 96 kbpd
Production is down 182 kbpd
Net is down 86 kbpd

With stocks up 2.1 and a net weekly loss of 600 kb that tells me demand was down by 385 kbpd , however total US demand only changed by minus 12 kbpd . I can’t imagine shifting that much gas around between PADD areas, if so it should show up in other PADDs

Perhaps not directly related, but indicates movement and perhaps some foresight in the rail sector...

CN buys Chicago railway for $300M US

"Chicago is essential to CN's rail operations, yet it presents us with major operational challenges," CN's chief executive, Hunter Harrison, said in a release.

"This transaction will improve rail operations on the CN system and the rest of the Chicago rail network by moving CN trains out of the urban core to EJ&E lines on the outskirts of the Chicago metropolitan area."

Chicago already has light rail in the metro area. The EJ&E system was owned by U.S. Steel and used as a feeder network for industry all over the area. I don't know if the two systems intersect. There has been ongoing consolidation in the industry with Union Pacific and Burlington Northern both chasing after Santa Fe, which B.N finally captured. There was definitely a potential for monopoly and the regulators said "Whoa!"

I've started seeing EJ&E coil steel cars pulled on BNSF track from time to time but its only been the last two years or so. I watch for such things; my father was foreman of the rip track at EJ&E's Joliet facility during the 1960s. I'd never seen an EJ&E car of any type outside of their system prior to 2005. The first one I saw was on the BNSF track south of I-80 in Omaha. I pulled over to make sure I wasn't seeing things, started dialing to tell him, and I had half of the numbers in before I remembered he'd been dead three years at that time :-(

It'll be good to see some motion on this stuff. I just hope we don't have to wait clear until 1/2009 to see it begin ...

Market Eyeing OPEC

Comparing this article with the EIA article (just dropped off the page) the estimated demand for oil this fall [88 million barrels a day] appears to be significantly larger than the world all liquids record [86 million barrels per day] [Yes, I am rounding]. One wanders how this will lead to an outcome, even before recollecting that one might expect the winter 2007-2008 demand to be larger than the fall demand.

$100 barrels. Q.E.D.

The final paragraph of the T&B Petroleum article mentioned at the top of today's drumbeat did not render cleanly on my browser. For me, it was all in one line. I loaded it into a text editor and inserted a few CRLFs (CarriageReturn-LineFeed) so I could make sense of it.

New Vs Old Allocations;
Output and Capacity Figures
Nov 1 Aug Old Capacity allocation output quota estimate
(in million barrels per day)
Production Quotas
Nov Aug Old New
Algeria 1.357 1.35 0.894 1.38
Indonesia 0.865 0.84 1.451 0.88
Iran 3.817 3.87 4.110 3.88
Kuwait 2.531 2.45 2.247 2.68
Libya 1.712 1.71 1.500 1.78
Nigeria 2.163 2.14 2.306 2.45
Qatar 0.828 0.82 0.726 0.98
Saudi Arabia 8.943 8.62 9.099 10.91
UAE 2.567 2.57 2.444 2.77
Venezuela 2.470 2.36 3.223 2.62
OPEC 10 27.253 26.73 28.000 30.32
Angola n/a 1.67 n/a 1.79
Iraq n/a 1.99 n/a 2.40

Total OPEC n/a 30.39 n/a 34.51

n/a - not applicable;
old quota refers to July 2005-Oct 2006 levels;
Saudi and Kuwait figures each include half of Neutral Zone output;
Capacity figures from IEA -
Nigeria figures exclude 545,000 b/d shut in capacity;
Venezuela figure includes 475,000 b/d Orinoco heavy oil output in August.

One sometimes puzzles over spelling and grammar. Not sniping, mind you, but the wonders/wanders coupled with the grammatical ambiguity have the transformational grammarian in me reaching for a pencil so I can diagram the sentence.

Splitting Water with Sunlight


Researchers from the German Max Planck Institute have now developed a catalyst that may do just that. As they report in the journal Angewandte Chemie, titanium disilicide splits water into hydrogen and oxygen. And the semiconductor doesn’t just act as a photocatalyst, it also stores the gases produced, which allows an elegant separation of hydrogen and oxygen.

Awesome! Too bad most hydrogen fuel cells are super expensive.

Not really news, since it's from a conference that happened in April, but I love this title:

How Successful Will the New Phase of Exploration Be If The Earth is Already a Pin-Cushion?

Projections that the industry will start a major exploration discovery cycle are likely to be wrong. Analysing a time series of global maps showing all exploration wells drilled from 1965-2005 one can see that every significant sedimentary basin has been tested. From successes and failures, the industry has a good handle on where the remaining reserves are located. Unfortunately no significant basin remains unexplored and there is little hope of repeating the supply response recorded after the last high oil price crisis in the 1973-1982 period.

would like to see that map.

The "Tips for employees spark ire in automobile industry" link seems to be dead. But I found a similar on at:


They don't need to buy small, fuel efficient cars, not even a little bit. Just sit tight and in a year or two ... no job, and thusly no car purchase. Simple. The next work will be placement of rail electrification systems :-)

I think OPEC is experimenting a bit here to try to measure price elasticity. For decades the western economists have said that oil over $60 would destroy demand. Then last summer's event pushed oil above $60 for a protracted period of time and there was no measurable demand destruction. So now I think OPEC will allow oil to tick ever higher and when they see demand soften then they will know where to set OPEC price targets. On the way there though, I think OPEC wants to have stable output at incremental levels so that they can cleanly observe the demand response.

Based on this hypothesis, I don't expect another change in output until September of 2008 (one year of data later).

Here is an example of how 'technology can save us' from an environmental aspect. And guess whose idea it is....

James Lovelock!!!!

If this doesn't get enough eyes today, I'll repost for tomorrows Drumbeat :)

You really do not understand Lovelock, do you? Even Professor Lovelock would tell you that this scheme of his is a longshot. But Lovelock is convinced that things are far worse than any doomer on this web site admits to. Lovelock flatly states that without climate intervention, homo sapiens will experience a 99.9% die off, with the remaining "few million breeding pairs" left scavenging near the poles. So Lovelock is desperate. He's willing to try the truly incredible because he is convinced that the alternative is more horrible than your imagination can even grasp. So any possible solution, no matter how remote, is justified because the alternative is our own extinction or near extinction.

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

And I guess you failed to understand 'another example of how 'technology will save us''.

Lambos to you sir.

I'm a little afraid, but ... Lambos?

Party guy - I regret accusing you of being 12 years old.

My 11 year old daughter would be able to post with more thought and intelligence than you.

I understand your desire for things to be OK, for everything to work out in the end.

I feel this also as I have a lovely, smart, incredibly present, and on, and on… daughter and son whom I love more than my own life, and I really love my own life a lot.

This does not make me better, it just makes the future infinitely more important than you could imagine.

This is why I pour over the internets until my eyes hurt in order to learn all I can about what we face.

I’ve spent 20 years in Industrial Design developing technology and have a better than average understanding of what tech can and can not do. I am exceptional at digging around to find out what the potential and shortcomings of a “new technology” might be and I am not very optimistic.

Ignorance does not equal optimism.

You simply must research the issues further before you throw up some new breakthrough technology headline as proof that there are viable solutions.

Please don't. It's already been posted, and even if it wasn't, I'd like to discourage people from repeating posts just to "get more eyeballs."