DrumBeat: October 18, 2007

The time remaining for serious action on energy is short

The rapid loss of Arctic ice has led nations to lay claims to possible energy reserves under the thinning polar ice cap. Deffeyes said more than 100 deep-sea holes have been drilled elsewhere and no oil has been found. A set of special conditions are all required to produce oil and natural gas reserves and most of the planet never had all of them. There may be no significant reserves beneath the Arctic ocean.

Deffeyes noted that the time remaining for serious action on energy is relatively short, perhaps five years. The path we have been on will likely lead to war and famine, but, we still have choices in that regard.

John Michael Greer: The age of scarcity industrialism

A very large percentage of the energy used in a modern industrial society, after all, is wasted. During an age of cheap abundant energy, it’s profitable to use energy in ways that have no real economic value at all, because the profit to be made selling the energy outweighs the short-term costs of wasting it. Tourism, the world’s largest industry just now, is a classic example. Shut down the tourist industry – as every country in the world did during the Second World War – and redirect the resources now wasted on tourism to other uses, and industrial societies could weather a steep drop in energy supplies without impacting necessary goods and services. The same is true of many other dimensions of today’s economy of waste.

Energy-rich Caspian becomes center of U.S.-Russia power struggle

Is the Caspian a sea or a lake?

The answer has immense repercussions for the energy industry. If it is a lake, there are no obligations by countries that flank it to grant permits to foreign vessels or drilling companies. But if it is sea, there are international treaties obliging those countries to an array of permits.

Drugs are not our only addiction

We have to agree with Mr. Bush that alternative energy sources are critical to our survival as a strong nation, but who will step forward and try to effect genuine change? If someone does take that brave step, he or she should first knock on Jimmy Carter’s door to learn just how painful the price of change can be.

Oil? What's the password?

Anyway, back to oil. If prices remain this high, we’ll all just spend a bit more and save a bit less. But if this volatile commodity goes ballistic, then every element of modern life is going to blow up with it, and spending a bit more won’t even be an option, because there won’t be much to spend it on. We’ll be all foraging for coconuts.

So maybe hiding out in a well-provisioned cave doesn’t sound so bad, as we contemplate a Mad Max world. I ain’t saying it’s going to happen, but if you’re looking for something big to worry about, and the global warming trend has gotten so mainstream, even bland, that it’s lost its trendy edge, then oil paranoia could make for a wonderful hobby. Believe me, you might have plenty of company soon.

Maine: Oil price spike fouls state tax revenue forecast

Oil prices, which hit an all-time high of $88 a barrel on Tuesday, could dampen holiday sales and further erode the state's revenue projections that already suffer from lower-than-anticipated corporate income and cigarette tax collections.

Slutz getting around but few are interested

Sadly for Slutz, not many in Australia had the chance to hear about his committee's findings. At a press conference in Perth, a grand total of one journalist turned up to hear him speak.

Uganda: Gulu Faces Fuel Shortage, Fares Hiked

A FUEL shortage has hit Gulu district, leading to a hike in transport fares. Motorists and boda boda cyclists on Tuesday morning queued at the Caltex station, the only station that had fuel.

Diesel price hits record

LONDON - Retail prices for diesel have struck a record high and are set to rise further, the Automobile Association said on Thursday.

OPEC: Strong oil demand will continue through ‘08

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) says world crude oil demand remains steady despite high prices and gave no indication of planning an increase in output to ease prices from this week’s all-time highs.

New tensions accompany promise of alternative fuels

First came the boom. Now, the backlash.

Biofuels have gotten a bad name around the globe, despite their ability to reduce oil use.

Whether the blame is fair or not, a negative image could limit the potential to create more environmentally beneficial fuels, experts say.

Do food miles make a difference to global warming?

The U.S. local food movement -- which used to be elite, expensive and mostly coastal -- has gone mainstream, with a boost from environmentalists who reckon that eating what grows nearby cuts down on global warming.

But do food miles -- the distance edibles travel from farm to plate -- give an accurate gauge of environmental impact, especially where greenhouse gas emissions are concerned?

The Green-Collar Solution

“Try this experiment. Go knock on someone’s door in West Oakland, Watts or Newark and say: ‘We gotta really big problem!’ They say: ‘We do? We do?’ ‘Yeah, we gotta really big problem!’ ‘We do? We do?’ ‘Yeah, we gotta save the polar bears! You may not make it out of this neighborhood alive, but we gotta save the polar bears!’ ”

Mr. Jones then just shakes his head. You try that approach on people without jobs who live in neighborhoods where they’ve got a lot better chance of getting killed by a passing shooter than a melting glacier, you’re going to get nowhere — and without bringing America’s underclass into the green movement, it’s going to get nowhere, too.”

Sweden's sustainable finance system (podcast)

Oscar Kjellberg is the former CEO and current strategic manager of J.A.K. Members Bank in Sweden, an interest-free, member-owned savings and loan. In this interview with Andi Hazelwood of Global Public Media, Kjellberg talks about the history of J.A.K Members bank, explains the J.A.K. banking model and illustrates how the conventional interest-based system, with its growth imperative, is unsustainable. Kjellberg also discusses how the J.A.K. model differs from the interest-free Islamic banking system, and how the current mortgage and currency crisis in the US is a result of interest-based financing.

Tar Sands and the American Automobile

The tremendous energy required to bring the sand to the surface for separation is largely provided by natural gas. (Oil sands consume about 500 million cubic feet of natural gas a day, an amount likely to increase to 1.25 billion cubic feet daily by 2016. The process is so inefficient that the natural gas required to produce one barrel of tar sands oil could heat a family home for two to four days. This process uses a relatively clean fuel to assist in the production of a dirtier one, prompting oil analyst Matt Simmons to describes the process as “making gold into lead.”

Brit's £6bn oil giveaway to EU

BRITAIN will be forced to surrender its oil stocks to the EU under the new treaty – costing taxpayers £6BILLION.

European Commission chiefs will be able to order the UK to increase its oil reserves in case of emergencies in OTHER nations.

It would mean Britain would have to hand over stocks to EU states suffering an energy crisis.

ANALYSIS-No "big bang" Mexico energy reform, only tweaks

Mexico is facing a double headache of declining output and proved reserves that have shrunk to just nine years' worth of output. Pemex lacks the technology to explore deep waters in the Gulf where where it thinks massive reserves might be found.

Despite winning two other economic reforms in only a few months, Calderon lacks a majority in Congress and a key opposition party is not keen to lift a 70-year constitutional ban on direct private investment in energy.

Canada-Mexico Energy Deal Signals Deeper Bilateral Ties

A new agreement between a Calgary-based oil and gas firm and Mexico's state-run energy company is being hailed as a significant deal that could signal the beginning of a shift in what defines the Canada-Mexico relationship.

Local groups use peer pressure - and fines - to cut carbon emissions

Some local initiatives emphasize adoption of new technologies or vastly improved rates of recycling. Others aim to push the government to set a mandatory cap on the amount of carbon dioxide each citizen may generate. But all these efforts face a balancing act: Satisfying a desire among the early adopters to make quick progress and, at the same time, developing models that could become accepted by the general public.

US concerned about "very high" oil prices: Bodman

"The signs are that there are issues related to the amount of supply," Bodman told reporters hours after oil touched a record peak of $89 a barrel, adding that prices were "very high."

"I would think it would have an impact on the decision making - not just OPEC but all of the exporting countries. I think the message has become reasonably clear," Bodman said.

New Zealand: Official oil forecasts wildly incorrect

"Every Reserve Bank prediction has said that oil prices will stabilise and then drop, when in fact they have continued to rise. In December 2005, the Reserve Bank's prediction was that the price right now would be US$40 a barrel - less than half what it actually is. The following year they recognised this looked silly so predicted the US$40 price would be reached instead at the end of 2009.

"Does anyone continue to believe this fantasy?"

Next Stop: $100 Oil?

Some analysts say record highs are only the beginning. Traders betting on rising global demand could push prices up further.

Wesbury: Economy keeps going and going

“Thomas Malthus was wrong,” said Wesbury. “What’d he miss? The tractor, fertilizer ... he missed technology.”

Wesbury said he recalls former President Jimmy Carter stating in 1978 that the world would have peak oil in 1984 or 1985. Now, said Wesbury, peak oil is projected to be reached in 2112.

“We will never, ever, ever run out of oil,” he said. “That last barrel of oil will cost $1 trillion, and it will end up in the Smithsonian Institute. Because way, way before that, someone will figure out how to heat homes, drive cars ... without using so much petroleum.

“They are all wrong because they don’t believe in the human ingenuity,” he added. “They don’t have faith in humankind.”

Indonesia: Oil prices a threat to state budget

Oil could well be a slippery factor again for the state budget -- and Indonesia's whole economy -- if its prices continue to rise and strain the country's fuel-related subsidies, analysts warn.

Putin Suggests U.S. Wants Iraq's Oil

President Vladimir Putin, in his latest jab at Washington, suggested Thursday that the U.S. military campaign in Iraq was a "pointless" battle against the Iraqi people, aimed in part at seizing the country's oil reserves.

Higher Alberta Levies Threaten Oil Sands Pipeline Plans

Raising Alberta's oil and gas royalty rates could threaten at least C$15 billion in proposed oil sands pipelines, as producers delay or cancel projects to develop the resource, a report said late Tuesday.

The tip of the iceberg

Britain's new claim for sovereignty in Antarctica is all about energy, but we should now expect a sharp backlash and criticism from around the world.

Think $80 oil is painful? Wait until spring

Stable gasoline prices over the last two months have shielded U.S. consumers from the impact of galloping crude oil prices, but drivers will face more pain at the pump if the cost of crude remains high into next spring.

The next oil shock could come soon

ARE you ready for oil at $US100 a barrel? It's getting closer after hitting new highs above $US88 this week, and you will feel the pain at the petrol bowser. Console yourself with the thought that you are taking a hit for your country: in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development universe, there's probably nowhere better to be than Australia when the price is surging.

Oil price can hit $150 before 2010 - Investec

The price of oil, which hit a new record high above $88 a barrel on Tuesday, can rally further and may reach $150 before 2010, the fund manager for Investec's Global Energy Fund said.

"The reason why it has potential is the underlying supply and demand fundamentals are causing a serious crunch in oil markets," said Tim Guinness, chairman of Guinness Asset Management, who runs the Investec Global Energy Fund.

When Peak Oil Meets Global Warming

Crude oil prices rose to nearly $88 a barrel after Turkey approved a military incursion into Kurdish Iraq yesterday, which is just one reason why Jeremy Leggett’s ideas about peak oil and global warming are getting attention.

BP Executive pied as Europe's largest BioFuels Event disrupted

This morning a group of 15 climate change activists from protest group Food Not Fuel entered the BioFuel Expo & Conference taking place at the Newark Showground and took over the keynote speech. Oliver Mace, CEO of BP Fuels, the lead sponsors of the event recieved a cream pie in the face. Another campaigner was D-locked to the podium and various alarms were placed around the place. The hall was emptied and talks were canceled. There were no arrests.

Firefighters battle flames after explosion rocks Exxon Mobil refinery

Production at the facility that refines 60,000 barrels of oil a day has been scaled back due to the malfunction, Getz said. The extent of the damages and the exact cause of the malfunction will remain unknown until the fire is completely extinguished and investigators can examine the area where the malfunction occurred, Getz said.

Getz described as speculation some reports that the incident caused a spike in world oil market prices.

Oil Refinery Problems Play Role in Prices (audio)

U.S. refineries are operating at close to full capacity and are aging, vulnerable, overburdened and very difficult to replace. That means problems at a single plant can have an outsize effect, causing pump prices to fluctuate wildly.

As oil super-spike hits, stocks pay attention

Wall Street gasped, then guffawed, two years ago when Goldman, Sachs & Co. analysts said the oil market had entered a multi-year "super-spike" period that would ultimately send crude prices as high as $105 a barrel.

Oil was averaging around $50 a barrel at the time, well into the Iraqi war, and there was not much reason to see it going any higher then $60, or for the very bullish, $70.

But I knew Wednesday morning that the current spike, a speculative frenzy if there ever was one, was the real thing when I saw a story in my newspaper about how higher oil prices no longer mean much to the U.S. economy.

“Oil at $87 a barrel is cheap”

Geopolitical tensions pushed New York crude contracts for November delivery to a record high of $88.20 a barrel on Tuesday night, prompting market watchers to revise their price forecasts, and some are even predicting a leap to $300 a barrel should the US invade Iran.

Experts Worry That World Oil Production May Soon Peak (podcast)

Energy experts from around the world have gathered in Houston for a three-day conference on the issue of peak oil, which involves predictions that world oil production will soon reach its peak and then go into decline. This could cause a global economic crisis since demand for energy is not expected to slow, but, in fact, is expanding rapidly.

Crude Oil Futures Surpass $86: Backwardation Is Back

The ill-founded, yet perpetual "oil prices will be lower in the future" thinking by traders flies in the face of all that is known about peak oil projections and expected demand as a result of emerging economies around the world.

Iran, Sanctions and War: the Oil Factor

Is Iran importing gasoline because it is running out of oil? Do the fuel riots in Iran earlier this year mean that sanctions against Iran are working? Would Iran use the oil weapon? Can the oil weapon be used against Iran? These questions are crucial, but attempts to answer them have often been misleading and characterized by hyperbole. But putting the oil factor in context is important if there is to be an accurate analysis of current U.S.-Iran relations, and of Iran's role in the global energy market.

Is Crude Oil on Course to hit $100 per barrel?

An accurate reading of the global supply and demand picture is certainly a big help in predicting global oil prices. But if one wants to point the “finger of blame” at the biggest culprit behind the historic rise in crude oil prices, it’s no other than Federal Reserve chief Ben “B-52” Bernanke, whose decision to bail-out Wall Street brokers and banks this past summer, by slashing short-term interest rates, set in motion another US dollar devaluation, and sent global oil prices and gold sharply higher.

Iran, Venezuela Form Oil Venture to Rival Shell, Eni

Iran and Venezuela, the producers of about 9 percent of the world's oil, will form a $1 billion global venture for projects in countries where companies such as Royal Dutch Shell Plc or Eni SpA are facing tougher business conditions.

Ex-CIA chief wants energy independence

It is in the U.S.'s national security interest to continue developing transportation fuel derived from agricultural products because the country has become dangerously dependent on foreign oil, former CIA Director James Woolsey said.

Biofuels use transforming commodity markets: CME chief

The recent surge in crude oil and wheat prices to record highs pointed to a transformation of commodity markets, said Craig Donohue, chief executive of the world's largest financial exchange.

"This is an entirely new market in commodities. We see a tremendous convergence now between (soft) commodities and energy with many economies becoming very ethanol based," he told reporters during a visit to Tokyo.

IMF concerned by impact of biofuels on food prices

The IMF warned Wednesday that an increasing global reliance on grain as a source of fuel could drive up food prices in poor countries.

"The use of food as a source of fuel may have serious implications for the demand for food if the expansion of biofuels continues," the International Monetary Fund said in its twice-yearly report on the world economy.

Annan urges united action to tackle climate change

GENEVA (AFP) - Former UN chief Kofi Annan formally launched his new humanitarian forum here on Wednesday by urging all nations to work together to meet the challenges of climate change.

Climate change reshaping Arctic

The Arctic is under increasing stress from warming temperatures as shrubs colonize the tundra, changing wildlife habitat and local climate conditions, researchers said Wednesday.

Sea ice fell well below the previous record, caribou are declining in many areas and permafrost is melting, according to the annual update of the State of the Arctic report.

Our refineries are expensive, massive, and creaking into old age. How will they be replaced?

No one in finance wants to make a long term bet on what may be a short term game. If they put in a new refinery and place it on a thirty six month depreciation schedule instead of thirty six years people will get suspicious.

Is there room for relocalization here, too? Instead of finished products in pipelines we could see crude moving to smaller, regional refineries. Some preprocessing would be done at the head end but the final fractionation (is this the right way to use this word) would be much closer to the consumer and on a much smaller scale. Perhaps users of crude for other than energy would add crude processing to their plants; here I'm thinking of plastics and so forth, where they plants already have the intellectual property to handle petrochemicals.

We've going to see big car makers blow apart and in the aftermath all of these little custom motorcycle shops are going to migrate to building small kit cars ... why not the same principle in effect for oil processing?

A lot of good ideas, but with NIMBYitis and the needs of fuel "production" I suspect smaller will not happen. Also most of the folks that work at the refineries live close to them and pretty much live with less than ideal environmental concerns that most of us would not tolerate. John

I think the big oil outfits,as well as local anti-oil activists would strangle that baby in its crib,SCT.The mini-car co.might have a market,though,depending on their product.I just spent 4 grand re-building a 1986 toy tercel wagon....completely new power train sans tranny,and am now getting 35-37 miles per.I expect 100k out of the engine.This little beast will do me for the foreseeable future{wife and I have bought 3}It won't work for every one but I suppose this is one way of dealing with the current problems.

Snuffy said:

I just spent 4 grand re-building a 1986 toy tercel wagon....completely new power train sans tranny,and am now getting 35-37 miles per.I expect 100k out of the engine.This little beast will do me for the foreseeable future{wife and I have bought 3}It won't work for every one but I suppose this is one way of dealing with the current problems.

Who is greener? The guy driving a 2007 Prius or Snuffy driving his 1986 Tercel? You might answer: "Neither! Snuffy should be riding a bicycle." However if Snuffy lives 20 miles from work or needs to cart his children to school and back then riding a bicycle isn't a real option. Fixing and using old cars is actually much more greener than driving around in a Prius provided the old car is fuel injected with electronic ignition. The sweet spot for Snuffy's strategy is to own and maintain a 1996 Saturn SL-1 with a 5 speed transmission or better yet a 1996 Toyota Corolla. Either car if well maintained can get over 30 mpg on the freeway. Due to their age, both cars have depreciated to zero value (the depreciation is what kills the economics of a 2007 Prius and not the fuel cost). Cars made on or after 1996 have OBD-II power train control modules with electronic ignition and fuel injection. These features make the car very fuel efficient, produce low air pollution and reliable even after 10 years of use. The Corolla has the additional advantage of being repairable with used imported Japanese parts. The Japanese have draconian registration laws that sometimes force a Japanese car owner to junk a car with less than 50,000 km on the odometer (the engine is barely broken-in). The engine from that car can be purchased very inexpensively and used to replace a worn-out engine in an American owned Corolla. I have used this strategy successfully with a 1976 Toyota Corolla and a 1988 Toyota Tercel. Also, it is my understanding that complete used Japanese cars can be purchased very inexpensively in New Zealand (they are not street legal in America).

I will humbly suggest there will be a renaissance in carburetor based cars with small displacements. The intellectual property to build and maintain a distributor based vehicle is within easy reach, while electronic fuel injection is not something one can deal with under the shade tree. It is a bit less efficient in terms of fuel utilization but much, much safer as things unwind. The 1949 International Super M in the shed out back is something I can pretty much handle in terms of repairs, the 2006 Nissan Versa parked next to the shed is just so much scrap to me if it needs anything more complex than new wiper blades.

SacredCowTipper said:

I will humbly suggest there will be a renaissance in carburetor based cars with small displacements. The intellectual property to build and maintain a distributor based vehicle is within easy reach, while electronic fuel injection is not something one can deal with under the shade tree. It is a bit less efficient in terms of fuel utilization but much, much safer as things unwind.

To some extent, you're preaching to the converted. My wife drives a fuel efficient 1996 Saturn SL-1 while my daily driver is a 1964 Rambler American. My Rambler has a 6-cylinder flathead engine, a one barrel carburetor and conventional vacuum advance distributor ignition system. My Rambler is trivial to maintain (it comes from an era when many Americans repaired their own cars). Repair tasks for the Rambler that can be done in 5 minutes might require an hour for the Saturn, e.g. changing the oil filter. Unfortunately for me, the Rambler has only half the fuel economy of the Saturn. This is due to the Saturn's sophisticated fuel injection and overhead cam versus the Rambler's primitive flathead engine and carburetor.

The issue of modern cars versus very old cars might actually be defined by external events. There isn't a single transistor in my Rambler but my wife's car is dependent upon a sophisticated Power Train Control module based upon the Motorolla HC6811 microprocessor. If the Iranians/Chinese/Russians/somebody decide to popoff a large nuke in space over North America, the electomagnetic pulse (EMP) would take out most integrated circuit based electronics in the US (our current economy would be turned off like a switch). Modern cars would cease to function but my old Rambler would still be rolling along. At that point (assuming I'm still alive), I'd have to build a still and convert biowaste into alcohol. The Rambler could burn pure alcohol or methane if I retuned the ignition and/or modified the fuel system.

Does your old Rambler have a DC generator? All newer alternators have diodes in them and I suspect that a strong
EMP (50,000 v/cm?) would kill the diodes. Any thoughts?

E. Swanson

Yes, I think you're right: The EMP will incinerate all nonlinear circuitry.

Big power diodes are pretty tough, they may survive, depending.

EMP produces stuff from DC to about 2.0 GHz and it does obey the inverse square law - double the distance, cut the power by 75%.

I have some knowledge of how radio works but I am no expert in the field, so I welcome correction, but I suspect the following is true: The higher the bomb, the more area it covers, but the greater the distance and attenuation due to distance as well as atmosphere. The longer waves will follow the ground and generate voltages only with things the right size to resonate while the shorter ones are lines of sight. The key to zapping electronics is having something somewhere in the vehicle that is resonant with the energy received.

EMP is not even a little bit funny, but I think the idea that one, high up, gets every bit of the country is not so believable. And no one triggers a nuke in space over the U.S. without getting a little one wrapped up in cobalt set off at a much lower altitude over their own capitol city.

This is really a back of the envelope remark, but still: an EMP will have an easier time frying things that are on the grid, since the grid has all these delicious copper loops, and anything that isn't shielded, which car engines generally are.

So it won't be 100% on things like cars.

EMP is not even a little bit funny, but I think the idea that one, high up, gets every bit of the country is not so believable

I believe 4 would be necessary.


This is a good summary article. The NA grids could be shut down with a single high-altitude nuke, and it might take months or years to restart it:


There was an article in IEEE Spectrum a few years ago on the same subject but I can't find it. I believe it estimated the damage to silicon devices in North America at something around 45 trillion dollars from one HEMP.

re: cars, I'm more pessimistic than before, it appears any cable with less than 100% foil coverage or any bad grounds are, er, "grounds" for failure.


I guess car survival doesn't matter much if gas stations are all dead :-) I read here every day and I'm still auto-centric :-(

Black_dog asked: "Does your old Rambler have a DC generator?"

Yes, it's an old fashioned DC generator without diodes. The voltage regulators are mechanical relay type. The whole setup is electrically very inefficient. However it's based upon heavy gauge copper wire so there's no way an EMP could knock it out.

I'm a member of an old car club and sometimes the other guys suggest that I replace the voltage regulator with a solid state device. However I LIKE driving a car that's uses neolithic technology. I prefer to keep it simple and easy to maintain.

Older VW Beetles should also be immune to EMP.

They have mechanical regulators and DC generators and AFAIK no electronics to speak of.

I have three of them in various stages of viability but all are capable with a little wrenching of running..just that I have let them sit idle for a long time.

I used to get mpg in the high 30..sometimes around 38 mpg if I recall correctly.

A very tough little car but you needed to keep the solid lifters set correctly.

Very easy to pull the engines.


Airdale said:

"A very tough little car but you needed to keep the solid lifters set correctly."

My other old car is a 1968 Karman Ghia. My Ghia started to run bad, so I did a compression test. The #3 cylinder has zero compression. The exhaust valve on the #3 had been tight and I adjusted it, thinking I had caught it in time. I thought wrong (the valve is burnt) and now have to replace the head.

I think I'll replace the head with the engine remaining in the car. Is that a dumb thing to do?

Yeah EP , you waited too long..however a new rebuilt head?

Not a biggie , or didn't use to be.

Ahhhh,,replace without pulling the engine? Yes I think that can be done. Don't see why not..In fact I think I have pulled them before that way.

1968? Mine are all early 70's with the dual port headers.
Keeping the right 'lash' on the lifters is important. If they start sinking in the head then you got problems. Heat is your big enemy so make sure you never blow a belt..I did once and it toasted my engine on the next big hill.

Be sure to use some oil on the cam and other bearing surfaces as you reinstall. While the head is off you can check wear on your cyclinders by checking the cyl ridge for an approximate idea.

BTW setting the valve clearance is tricky if the stems are snarly on the tips.



Thanks for the comments. This is my fouth Karmann Ghia. I've probably adjusted the valves on my Ghias over a hundred times. I bought this latest engine with the burnt valve from GEX and found out afterwards that GEX makes the worst VW engines in the world. GEX has an "F" rating with the Better Business Bureau and a long list of unhappy customers. GEX has these nice full page glossy ads in the VW magazines and supposably guarantees their engines. Unfortunately the guarantee is worthless and never honored. Supposably getting ripped off by GEX is the mark of being a clueless newbie (GEX is notorious within the air cooled VW community). I've owned Ghias for over 30 years so I can't claim being a newbie (my only excuse is simple stupidity).

The valve tightened and burned with incredible speed. The engine has probably less than 30,000 miles on it. Normally I check my valves every 2000 miles but was complacent and let 3-5 thousand miles go by without checking (it was a new engine). So I'll pay for my stupidity by spending the weekend replacing the head (it's a one port). Fortunately one port heads are cheap.

SCT, The US had many thousands of motorcycle makers and over two thousand auto makers before Henry Ford put them out of biz with his streamlined and efficient operations.

The machines that brought motorcycling back to life in the US were made in Japan. Honda with their small cc 'Dream', Passport and Trail 90, 110 were big sellers here and continue to sell well almost everywhere but here. Remember the Honda sales pitch, 'you meet the nicest people on a Honda'? I suspect that Honda will dust that one off for reuse.

When fuel prices get high enough we will once again see people on small motorcycles. Unlike big bikes, small ones are easy on tires/maintenence and will deliver 70-110 mpg. When over weight, out of shape Americans are confronted with a choice of a bicycle or a small cc, very economical motorbike, most will go for the motorbike.

Like Alan, I believe that rail is the way to go for longer trips and commutes in poor weather. When I arrived in Japan for a four year stay in the mid fifties it was bikes/motorbikes/rail. Untill the car craze hit SE Asia that was the model for every country. Cars have got to go or become as efficient as small motorbikes.

Ya...and now that loan requirements are getting tougher and harder to come by for residential properties...are commercial properties/capital next in the credit fallout? What banks are going to give HUGE loans on risky commercial investments? There was an article not too long ago stating that this phenomena could be hitting the smaller oil companies trying to get loans to run their operation.

Commercial property most certainly.

It's already starting, only reason they are finishing current projects is because they are committed past the point of no return.

The banks will lend to someone that has other hard collateral, question is why would someone with the assets invest in something that's far from a sure thing going into an unpredictable storm.

And that's without considering the coming elections, IMO we will see a lot of capital flight from US citizens.

Let's not get too silly about this. 'Small is beautiful' would be an emotional statement about romanticism, not a descriptive statement about the real world.

Refineries are virtually required by law to be "expensive, massive, and creaking with old age". Yes, in the 1920s, they built small refineries - which only needed to distill the crude. But these days, you need desulfurizers, catalytic crackers, cokers, waste-gas collectors, control and reporting systems - endless miles and miles of equipment and wiring required by law. A thing like that can't be done on a small local scale. And when the law allows any congenitally obstructionist NIMBY nebbich to singlehandedly block any expansion, renovation, or new project, no matter how vital it might be, then of course everything will be old. How could it be otherwise? But not to worry. Since we can't build anything here in the USA, the rentiers of OPEC are already building it for us on their turf and their terms. We will simply pay through the nose for our snootiness.

Never mind refineries, it costs somewhere north of $500,000 just to buy all the stainless steel and whatnot required by law to open a 'simple' local ice cream shop these days - which is why chains dominate. But Joe Sixpack, egged on by media hysterics, squeals with delight, as vast arrays of metastasizing obstructions convince him not only that he is "safe", but that his Congresscritter is avenging him against Evil Big Business for delivering the unwanted news that Joe actually has to work for a living and pay for what he consumes.

Absent a Mad Max future, all this will probably become ever worse. So there's really very little chance that big carmakers in general will blow apart (even if the domestic ones do.) Unless you're willing to go for far less meddlesome government - which would make you an outlier around here - you might as well get over it.

The Japanese are sensible, our auto makers are not. I didn't mean to suggest auto building would blow globally, but a compaction of the big three into the smaller one and the survival of the Chevy Aveo as one of their larger offerings seems likely.

I will.

Autos are gone in 5 years.

Depression by XMas for all to see.

Bush went on TV yesterday to call
Putin out.

Putin and China (see Zemin 5 Year Congress
for details) aren't blinking.

Rice's trip to Russia was a disaster.

"Clowns unto ages of ages"


"A basic rule of history is that the inevitable eventually happens. If you keep on smoking in the powder magazine, you will at some point blow it up. No one can predict the specific event or its timing, but everyone can see the trend and where it is leading.

In the Middle East today, as in Europe in the decade before World War I, the desperate need is for a country or a leader to reverse the trend. Then, the two European leaders most opposed to war, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany and Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, were able to do little more than drag their feet, trying to slow the train of events down. That was not enough, and it will not be enough today in the Middle East either."-Lind

Arkansaw of Samuel L Clemens

I admire your willingness to make concrete predictions in public.
But depression by Christmas? You mean 2007?

If I were an exporting NOC, I'd be thinking to myself:

"Why export crude? Why not build a refinery and export the refined products instead? Value added equals higher profit margins. The importers don't want to build more refining capacity, so the demand will be there. Why not refine it ourselves?"

I helped sell organic soft-churned ice cream at a farmers' market in Oakland this summer with my friends. They spent less than $5k on all manner of equipment, half of which they probably didn't need.

You don't need "$500,000" to open a simple ice cream shop--there's a local place called Ici on College Ave that opened on far less. Most expensive and well-done bakeries on a small scale require no more than $250,000 tops!

And let's not talk about the lemonade stand :P

True--requirements and regs do add cost, but usually make a hell of a lot of sense. It keeps you from getting sick, or too much polluted air and water around your house.


And when the law allows any congenitally obstructionist NIMBY nebbich to singlehandedly block any expansion, renovation, or new project, no matter how vital it might be, then of course everything will be old.

It might be that this congenitally obstructionis NIMBY nebbich has looked at the statistics of higher cancer rates and higher lung disease rates (not to mention very stinky air) near a refinery and made an intelligent decision to oppose one in 'his backyard.'

When it's all said and done, we're going to be gratefull that all those regulations and NIMBYs throttled oil consumption by limiting refinery capacity. By putting the breaks on the uphill ride to Hubbert's Peak, they caused more oil to still be around for the downhill slide.

Yes, of course. The world would be just perfect if there were no govmint regulation.

Yes, so long as there is no need for 'em - what with all the honest actors we had before regulation.

And all the honest ones now.

it costs somewhere north of $500,000 just to buy all the stainless steel and whatnot required by law to open a 'simple' local ice cream shop

Citations on the 1/2 a million for Stainless Steel please.

At the beginning of the Chechen Rebellion-ongoing BTW
-I remember a story about the Chechens "home brewing" gasoline.

I wonder if it was unleaded? ;}

Arkansaw of Samuel L Clemens


The simplist kind of refinery is a tank to heat up the oil. The oil seperates into various components' of which napthe, or gasoline is generally about 40 to 60% of light, sweet crude. There are other products too like kerosene, fuel oil and asphalt. This isn't very complicated.

But, its a competitive business, and where they make their best money is taking the residual products and making them into saleable petrochemicals of one kind or another.


Anyone who has taken a few chemistry courses knows about fractional distillation. Team them up with a plumber and I suppose they could rig up a column that could actually produce some product. How long they could go before they blew themselves up is another question. . .

(imagine me saying this in the voice of theantidoomer)
We are saved!

A Buxton Geothermal Turbine Generator is a lined and capped well, filled with water, which is ten kilometres deep.

Another low-cost food cooler

Here's a way the 'weak parts' of the herd will get thinned with.
(Reminds everyone about the use of garlic, turmeric, iodine, alcohol, silver and hot peppers to kill off msra.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/03/980305053307.htm for other food ideas )

And this is how to do some advertising + be safe in the future!

Thanks Eric! I loved the links on SpokePOV and the $15 refrigerator.

All kidding aside I like oregano oil in capsules for any uninvited visitors. Works wonders on fungal and bacterial troubles which can be seen in any petri dish and while I don't imagine there is any cause/effect I'd like to think I feel better when I've got a viral issue and I take some.

The Kadir-Buxton site is very strange indeed. He cures mental illness, infertility, and can bring the dead back to life!!

All by ear boxing! Its a solution TheAntiDoomers can all get behind!

Like everybody nowadays, I’ve been scratching my head over the price at the pump being static(ca. €1.30/liter in Germany and USD3.00/gallon in USA) despite a ca. 50% rise in oil barrel price for Brent and WTI/Cushing since spring.

Maybe someone could cook up a BEP(Break Even Point) analysis for a refinery to see what a refinery has to sell in total volume barrels at what price to break even given input costs of oil at USD 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, etc. and considering maybe several different grades of crude from Texas, Nigeria, Saudi, Venezuela, Mexico for example as I bet their crack spreads differ a lot. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crack_spread

Q = FC / (UP - VC)
Q = Break-even Point, i.e., Units of production (Q),
FC = Fixed Costs,
VC = Variable Costs per Unit
UP = Unit Price
Break-Even Point Q = Fixed Cost / (Unit Price - Variable Unit Cost)

Now I guest that the refineries belong to bigger companies like BP, Exxon-Mobil and that they own the gas stations too(except for some independents) and that they might just make a bundle off their little shops their and use gas as a loss leader (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loss_leader) to get people into the store buying coke or something else so that Exxon-Mobil could maybe they could care less if they lose money on their oil business as long as their shops turn a profit(think of GM and GMAC relationship).

Maybe the oil companies are just worried about the political reaction however if they start turning a big profit at the pump and charging USD4.00-5.00/gallon or €2.00/liter(60% ofg European price as tax I guess) so they take the loss and bide their time presuming oil prices will “go back to normal”.

I also had the thought that a reaction to NYMEX daily spot prices at the pump is unlikely if the oil companies have a lot of oil bought earlier and have reliable calculations. My company buys aluminium for manufacture at a fixed price based on some average of LME(London Metals Exchange) ahead of time so we don’t get a shock effect as the prices are so volatile over the course of a year. Also the price of the USD in Europe plays a role in stabilizing prices as it is falling. We often purchase USD ahead of time as a hedge as we must buy auto parts in China, etc. in Dollar and need a reliable calculation for many months.

“Without a video the people perish”-Is. 13:24

I can tell you for a fact what happens here,
based on my years of commodity trading and growing up on a farm.

You, the farmer, knows you're not getting a viable return on your product. You hypothesize that no one else can either.

Based on reading and knowing the Break Even point.

Doesn't do any good because "something else", what we're trying to discover here, is influencing the price above and beyond you.

But at some point, usually right after bankruptcy has been declared and suicides of farmers becomes noticeable,
the price does soar, and usually way past the level
you were anticipating.

Arkansaw of Samuel L Clemens

This may sound silly, but is it possible that ethanol is being used to keep pump prices down? I.e. are more of the ethanol blends being sold reducing the oil inputs?

Perhaps it's that the refiners aren't paying spot prices, but have long term contracts that provide for cheaper oil?

James Gervais

There are both independently owned refineries and refineries owned by the major oil companies (and NOCs). Independent refinery operators say that they have been unable to pass higher costs on to consumers. Crack spreads have dropped from around $20 to somewhat more than $2 a barrel.

The above might be explained by either of two assumptions. The first is that the refineries owned by the majors and the NOCs obtain all their crude through contracts sufficiently long term that the price run-up from $60 to $80+ has not affected them while the the independents have fewer such long term contracts.

The second is that the majors (and NOCs) are in effect using the spread between the production cost of their crude and the open market price to subsidize refining costs, thereby keeping refined product prices down. If we also assume that they want to maximize profits without incurring political costs and penalties (such as hearings, investigations and excess-profits taxes), this strategy meets that goal. Recent history suggests that he political pain sets in around with profits levels that accrue from regular gasoline prices at the $2.70 to $3.00 a gallon level.

If the diminished crack spread can be maintained long enough it can also have the effect of eliminating the independents. The refineries themselves would have to keep operating or shortages (and political pain) would result so the majors and NOCs would probably buy the independents' out. Elimination of the independent refineries could have certain short and long term benefits which could also help justify keeping current prices on refined products low.

“We will never, ever, ever run out of oil,” he said. “That last barrel of oil will cost $1 trillion, and it will end up in the Smithsonian Institute. Because way, way before that, someone will figure out how to heat homes, drive cars ... without using so much petroleum.

I always find it interesting that these "economics" graduates are always looking for Midas to come along and save the day.

I don't think people in general view oil as a rare form of condensed energy, the likes of which we may not be able to synthesize.

I remember dilithium crystals from my Star Wars days, and maybe like the Jack Nicholson movie --dirty nasty slimy crude oil is "as good as it gets".

Don't realize what you got til its gone.


I was just going to remark on this imbeciles assinine god - Homo the Sap ... “They are all wrong because they don’t believe in the human ingenuity,” he added. “They don’t have faith in humankind.”

That is about as helpful as the christian freaks faith that praying for lower gas prices, or relying on "godz will" for a miracle payment on their mortgages, will save their sorry rectums.

Econo-Shaman should not be allowed to practice thier voodoo medicine until they have at least an undergraduate's understanding of biology, physics, geology and History.

It is sad that neoclassical economists rule the rooster without proper scientific evidence.

Charles A. Hall of course said it the best in his presentation:

The Greatest Scientific Coverup...

Unfortunately paradigm shifts take a really long time to develop and only usually happen through a full (scientific) crisis.

Economics is even worse off, because as many of it's basic theories are not properly falsifiable in a simple way: it is very hard to prove them wrong in simple economics terms, without resorting to physics that most economics deny/misunderstand outright.

Thus, the scientific revolution of economics is ever pushed forward.

A little warning about a 48 meg .pdf might've been in order here.

Actually, this is a Microsoft PowerPoint file, not a PDF. I am able to convert this large PPT file to a very legible PDF file that is only 7 MB in size.

Thanks for sharing that presentation. I wish I could have heard it.

>That is about as helpful as the christian freaks faith
>that praying for lower gas prices, or relying on "godz
>will" for a miracle payment on their mortgages, will save
>their sorry rectums.


FF, I have asked the simple question 'how many equivalent man hours are contained in a barrel of crude oil' to many people over many years...A blank stare, that is what I get...Not a guess, not even a wag, just a blank look. After waiting a bit for them to consider the question and then giving them the answer I still get no reaction...I believe it is a question/answer that takes days or perhaps years to sink into peoples brains...Or maybe it is simply a question that they dont want to hear and dont want to know the answer to.

I believe that oil has been around for enough generations that Americans believe it is as much a birth right as the air that they inhale. When gas becomes too expensive for many to afford...Well, hell will be coming to breakfast.

My man hour thing gets the same response.

I put my foot in my mouth and get into the 1858 Drake well and the abolition of slavery and the conversion from a 95% to a 5% agrarian society much too easily to my wife's dismay.

Admiral Rickover had it right in his speech. That should be required study in junior high. It ties the evolution of human society and energy better than anything I've ever read.


I have had the same experience over the years. The concept of "energy" is simply too difficult for most people. Related notions, such as that coal and petroleum energy replaced (and wildly exceeded) human energy -- thereby rendering chattel slavery irrelevant and uneconomic-- is likewise not understandable. Such people believe that the American Civil War and the goodness of the Abolitionists was responsible for ending slavery in USA -- and now they can't get around to making any sense of recent upsurges in slavery, torture and general brutality.

Unless we find some dilithium crystals pretty soon, the future is likely to look more like the past than it will like most of the imagined high tech futures that are currently on display.

Amazing. Like the invention of the light bulb or airplane,
a great invention will take place at the same time
around the planet.

Almost exactly like a great idea.

I just discovered the Rock Island Bridge Case.

Occurring in 1855 it lasted until 1862.

Abe Lincoln was on one side and Jeff Davis and Robert E Lee
were on the other.

And then this:

Engdahl Can't Comprehend Hubbert Oil PEAK

Elaine Meinel Supkis
October 18, 2007


Mr. Engdahl makes a very common and quite stupid mistake: he and a host of others think that Peak Oil is when oil runs out! This is so easy to refute, I wonder how anyone can fail to understand and then I remember how most economists operate: in clueless vapidity. For some reason, people look at words and like the Caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland, decide to append their own definitions, ipso facto. A warning: Peaks are BIG. They are when things are at their most, not their least. From Engdahl, famous author...

Thank you, Elaine

Arkansaw of Samuel L Clemens

What's the answer?

Is it not something like 22,000 man hours?? Don't know for sure.


One source I've seen, "What is Energy Worth?", says 18000 man hours, based on a human equivalent of 100 continuous watts of effort over a 10 hour day. Most of the estimates seem to fluctuate around 20,000 man hours so this seems reasonable.

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

quick Google -- but I think it is close. Buckminster Fuller talked about this years ago in his discussions of "energy slaves." (If you grew up in the 50's and 60's, BF was a major guru to the geeks of the day.)

What I think many people fail to appreciate is the actual scale of the problem at hand. To get an idea, 1 barrel of oil has around the same amount of usable energy as 1 person working full time for 12 YEARS. Ie. get on your bike, pedal 40 hours a week, and 12 years later, you will have generated as much energy as one 80 dollar barrel of oil. When you start to imagine a barrel of oil as 24,000 man hours of labour, multiplied by 85 million barrels per day, thats 2 trillion man hours per day. If we outsource to the free world, and pay a dollar an hour, we would spend the GDP of planet earth in a month, and we would need 255 billion people. So that wont work.
How about solar? Well if we got them near 100 percent efficiency (ie converts 100 percent of the light energy that reaches the ground), we would need about 420,000 square kilometers of panels. For clarity, thats just about the size or Iraq. Thats 420 billion square meters. So if we can find the materials and manpower to make 420 billion square meters of super efficient solar panels, were set.
Biofuels (corn, algae, etc) are all the same thing as solar, because the mathematical limit is based on the amount of sunlight energy that reaches the surface of the earth. They are just alot less efficient than solar panels, require staggering amounts of water, and huge amounts of environmentally damaging fossil fuel based fertilizers. Besides, to replace the 85 million barrels per day of energy we get from oil, we would need to cover the entire land mass of earth with corn, and then do the same with several other earths.
Nuclear power has the drawback that the 85 million barrel per day figure exhausts recoverable nuclear fuel reserves by 2013, and it would take decades to build the power plants, and all kinds of nasty countries would probably end up with nuclear weapons.
The severity of the problem becomes apparent when you use a macro perspective, and then take a look around at how slowly we are moving towards any kind of a solution. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, TRUCK SALES IN THE US ARE INCREASING!!!


Hehe, there's an idea. Just for fun, some quick and dirty numbers.

Since the next gen of solar panels are about 30-40% efficient. Then, we will need about 1.2 Million sq km.(ballpark)

So, the middle east could start covering there in-fertile deserts with solar panels - pretty much the whole region.

But, damn, Big Picture again - that would be around - 1 million panels per sq km, therefore - 1.2 million million panels. (or 1 Trillion PANELS)

MATERIALS!!!! and the energy to make it/ship it/install it. Probably more copper than there is left on the planet alone.

But, we are selling oil at $89/barrel - for a staggering 12.7 cents a CUP!

Did you calculate that with panel or total PV system efficiency including the transmission losses?

After that, efficiency is significantly below 30%, afaik.

I think I was generous for ballparking.

And, I was going to post a bit more expansion...but too long winded for a hypothetical situation.

But, if we could initiate such a project...it would take more than 1 MILLION laborers, 22.8 years to build it. Again, not factoring inflation, resource shortages, etc.


The area figures are off by a factor of 10, and ignore the fact that we also have wind, geothermal, hydro and yes, Nuclear power at our disposal.

The comparison to solar is complete bullshit. Plus, a straight conversion of "energy in a barrel of oil" to person power is misleading. Firstly, if we're lucky, we maybe get to use 10% of the energy in a barrel of oil - the rest is lost to heat and to inputs and energy spent getting the oil where it's needed. Secondly, a human puts his work to use right where it's needed - a truck spends an awful lot of energy just moving itself around because it's so heavy. When a person rides a bike, he/she spends a lot less energy getting from point A to point B than the car does that accomplishes the same thing.

And how much food, water, sleep, and shelter does the barrel of oil need? If you're going to add up externalities, count them all.

A human being converts energy into work (at least some of them do). Oil IS energy.

Hello Thecitruskid,

Good points. When I am laboring hard: I sweat profusely, skin gets hot and flushed, and I breath heavily too--makes me wonder what percentage of my expended calories is lost to waste heat.

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

Good point - in addition to the energy input required, there are plenty of energy losses to keep the 'human machine' running.

I'm not sure how authoritative this is (and I have to wonder about any technical paper that uses the word 'bummer' :-), but it's an interesting read:

Early in the 20th century, factory owners did many studies regarding just how much actual work they could get out of their employees! It was generally found that a healthy 35-year-old (European) man could use up a total of 0.49 horsepower for an 8-hour shift. If you do the math, you can see that accounted for around 2,500 Calories used up during that work shift! (That worker's body would use up at least another 1,200 Calories of energy in the remaining 16 hours of that day for a total energy consumption of around 3,700 Calories per day.) People working in such factories HAD to eat enough food each day to account for that!

Unfortunately for those factory owners, only around 0.1 horsepower of that was actually available as useful work. That's about 64 Calories per hour or 75 watts. The other 0.39 horsepower (about 256 Calories per hour or 1,000 Btu/hr) was used up in metabolic activities and maintaining body temperature. In "staying alive!" Bummer! This data indicates that such human factory workers were capable of around 20% overall net thermal efficiency during their work shift. More recent research has suggested that a maximal efficiency for a human is probably around 25%, but that most existing mechanisms are not able to efficiently deal with the herky-jerky way we tend to create such work!


These results encouraged factory owners to move toward automation where steam engines and electric and gasoline motors did most of the work.

well a person can walk about 4 mph (clothes optional). if a car can get 40 mpg and go 60 mph. in one hour, 60 miles, the car would burn 1.5 gallons or about 0.036 barrels. it would take a person 15 hrs to walk 60 miles (and he/she would be one hungry,tired and sore hiker at the finish line). so isnt the conversion for this example 389 hrs/barrel (14hrs/0.036 barrels). and of course we are disregarding the energy to manufacture/maintain the car and food to fuel the hiker.

and if your wage is $ 20/hr, that barrel of gasoline is worth $7,780. or alternately if you enjoy hiking, the gasoline is worth nothing.

I really would like to see a proper analysis on how many square kilometers of solar panels we'd need to replace, say, a coal or nuclear plant.

Let's assume we are in Australia (lots of sun) and we have 30% cells.

There are several answers to this.
Let's take as a standard reactor one capable of producing 500MW.

Bright sunlight can produce over 1kW per sq meter. Integrating over a full day and allowing for something like 20% or 30% efficiency then one sq meter can produce about 4kW hours per day. Divide that into 500MW times 24 hours and you get 3 million square meters which is about a square mile.

(I'm not allowing for cloud cover but I'm also not accounting for a nuclear power plant's down time or accidents like the one in Japan.)

A nuclear reactor is smaller than this but if you add in the area for cooling towers and a security buffer and the land area needed to mine the uranium and store the tailings and the area for the isotope enhancing plant and the area for storing waste with its security buffer then I think a nuclear power plant will consume several square miles. The longer the plant is in operation the more land is required.

In real life there area a couple of planned solar plants of this size. In southern California they are planning a large plant that will produce about 500MW.

One story asserts 4,500 acres (7 sq miles) will produce 500MW.

Another story asserts that 3 sq miles will produce 300MW.

These plants use mirrors to concentrate solar energy and using the heat to drive Stirling engines. In some of the photos it is clear that there is a large space around each mirror. In other words, the mirrors don't perfectly blanket the ground which accounts for much of the discrepancy between my calculation and the expected real world performance of these sites.

So, depending how you measure the land required as well as what assumptions you make about many other things we see that a nuclear plant takes roughly the same land area as a solar plant. At least solar does not require ten or hundred times more space than a nuclear plant.

On the other hand, if everyone puts ten or twenty square meters of solar on their rooftops that is land area that is not otherwise used and certainly could never be used for a nuclear plant.

This guy tried to figure it out himself (numbers a little low, if you ask me)...but he GETS the idea (blog)

Real Gas Price -- $1,400.00 per gallon, or two weeks hard labor


Hello PeakTO,

Thxs for the info. Now let's extrapolate this to synthetic fertilizer. My recent posting link said there is 3 gallons of gasoline equivalent embedded in a forty lb. bag of NPK.

3 X $1,400/gal = $4,200 per bag or $210,000/ton!

One last thing: if your soil has a Liebig nutrient minimum, no amount of backbreaking labor will increase the yield; your simply wasting your precious time--you must have the required element to add to the soil--No Substitution allowed! Thus, recall my earlier posting that the backbreaking labor will move to pick, shovel, and wheelbarrow extraction 3300 feet underground just to get raw rock potash.

Another example: please pulverize a 40 lb. boulder to fine powder with hand-tools--what would you want to be paid?

Okay, this is just for the Element K. Future problems for Element P is well explained here:

Farming faces phosphate shortfall

"Without phosphorous there will be no agriculture, nor biofuels, nor life. Humanity will end," he said.

"Phosphate runs the risk of running out before petroleum does."
Do we really want to use the depleting P for Lithium Nanophosphate batteries: this is tantamount to really driving ourselves to extinction! I suppose we could crush, then extract the P from the bones of billions of dead children to power our PHEVs, but I think most parents would rather walk with their kids to spread P in relocalized gardens.

Element N is mostly generated by the Haber-Bosch process using natural gas. Natgas's problems have been much discussed on this forum before.

I sure hope that this awareness can help further leverage fundamental, long-term, biosolar mission critical investing in fertilizer companies.

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

Humans did and continue to do amazing things with hand tools all over the world, Bob. Powdering a forty pound boulder once is a hassle, if everyone in the village has to do it someone gets a metal mass, a length of chain, some old leaf springs from a car, and attaches this to an old light pole. Some guides are put in place, and pretty soon a pair of bored twelve year olds and pounding the poop out of a big rocks for fun and profit.

The loss of automation does not mean we reset to Neanderthal levels of technology, it means we reset to 1900 with the added benefit of all the materials science we've learned since then and the help of the internet to quickly spread new ideas.

Of course, I am a slow deflation hopeful rather than a fast crash realist, but even so if we suddenly become energy poor it doesn't mean we become stupid, too ...

Do we reset to 1900 population, society, and infrastructure too? Those were part and parcel of 1900 available energy levels. You can't separate any of these things and imagine that they will change in a vacuum.

Our civilization is like a hurricane moving over cooler water- thermodynamically I believe that such a comparison is not at all far-fetched, since both hurricanes and human civilizations are autocatakinetic systems dependent on available energy to sustain themselves.

I think the answer here is yes and no - we're not coming from 1897, we're coming from 2007, so there are things we have and know that weren't available in 1900, but yes, I think our population could decline if we make wrong choices, and its human nature to do that.

Going back to 1900..? I don't think so. When we run out of cheap petrol (happening now) we'll start acting like a heroin addict that ran out of his drug. Do not expect a peaceful power down, that's utopia.

The loss of automation does not mean we reset to Neanderthal levels of technology, it means we reset to 1900 with the added benefit of all the materials science we've learned since then and the help of the internet to quickly spread new ideas.

(just thought it should be repeated)

I am not so sure about that. In 1900, the industrial revolution was well underway. It may prove to be unsustainable without fossil fuels. And we Americans, at least, were a small number of people who were just starting to fill up this continent full of unexploited resources. IIRC, it was around then that Homestead Act started petering out (due to lack of desirable farmland).

There's a lot more people and a lot fewer resources now. Barring nuclear war, it's not going to be back to the Stone Age by 2020. But I think Greer may be correct. We might wind through catabolic collapse over centuries, eventually ending with the environment so degraded that it no longer supports even the complexity the Native Americans had.

We all view our pending 'reset' differently. I think about what life would be like for survivors in a peaceful enclave when I talk about this - things get hard and manual like they were, but we hang on to knowledge they didn't have in 1900. I don't assume the whole country is going to go this way, nor that it'll be like that the minute after the serious downward slide begins.

I think Bob Shaw isn't far off in his estimate that the country will break up into an upper Northeast enclave, a Great Lakes enclave, and a Pacific Northwest enclave. I'd like to think there will be one in the Midwest, too, but he has yet to grace us with a snappy name and regular coverage in his prognostications.

There are going to be a lot fewer people fairly quickly, but I have my fingers crossed it lands more lightly here than it will in places like sub-Saharan Africa.

The earth heals if we leave it alone. Stripped of human population we get things like the DMZ between the Koreas which has become a haven for all sorts of wildlife. Even Chernobyl's evacuate space is now a haven for all sorts of different critters. This progression takes one to two human generations. I suppose there will be a lot less diversity as ecosystems change due to global warming, but the same principles should apply.

Just the end of 'roadkill' alone should result in far more wildlife.

The problem will be the vast amount of growth that no one will be taming...no highway mowing crews,,no more farmers bushhoging their fields..the resultant growth of Johnson Grass alone will be stupendous.

I believe that wild growth will come back with a vengeance and overlay all open areas with a huge growth.

Even cane is slowly returning to Kentucky..Canebrakes were once very numerous but are now once more flourishing due to farmers spraying differently.

You haven't seen anything til you try to penetrate a big canebrake. The growth is astounding..its the forests that are being decimated in a very great rush..or so it seems...the hunger for paper products.

It takes a long time for timber regrowth, at least of desirable species. So the undergrowth will happen fast. The rest far slower.

If Canadian thistles get out of hand it will get so you might not even be able to walk across a field of them. Near my farm in central KY some years ago I seen them take a field and I did try to walk across it and could not.



Canada Thistle will be a survivor along with Quackgrass and Cocklebur.

I am not so sure about that. In 1900, the industrial revolution was well underway.

But, can we not 'provide that level of power' with the level of renewable tech?

There's a lot more people and a lot fewer resources now. Barring nuclear war, it's not going to be back to the Stone Age by 2020.

To agree, we already have a nuke war going on - if you feel the use of DU is a radioactive effect (vs heavy metal)

If there *IS* a nuke war (vs nuke use) the planet will get real quick to environment so degraded

MSRA might be an effective 'tool' - but you'd need large scale production to allow 'everyone' to be CA. And the 'fingerprint' of the genome would let some people to determine that the spike was not 'natural'.

Smallpox did work well VS the Native Americans - I'm sure there has been a model or 2 done on that basis for "reducing the surplus population".

But, can we not 'provide that level of power' with the level of renewable tech?

I am honestly not sure. My guess would be "no."

But the real problem is that we will not start tomorrow trying to provide the 1900 "level of power" - not even if oil is suddenly $300/barrel. Instead, we will try to keep the happy motoring lifestyle going. The first thing to go with be environmental restrictions. (We saw that already after Katrina.) And the more we try to maintain our current "level of power," the lower the "sustainable" level of power will end up being.

Can someone clarify my misunderstanding?

Phosphorus is an element.

It is used in agriculture, batteries, many things. But nothing "consumes" it, as it becomes part of something else ( unless we are talking nuclear alchemy here - which we aren't).

That something else goes somewhere. The P is still there. It has not been consumed, as the energy contained in the molecular structure of petroleum has been. Granted, the carbon and hydrogen atoms comprising petroleum have not been consumed, hence the CO2 emissions.

So, where did the P go? Its still around.

Its my understanding that we still have all the gold, precious metals, or any other element that has ever been on the Earth still on the Earth, sans the very few we launched into space or mutated into something else in a nuclear reaction. Some of it is in use, some is spewed all over the place and difficult to recover with existing technology, but it still exists - and as long as it exists, there is hope of recovery.

The energy stored in the C-C and C-H bonds is released upon using it and is lost forever, albeit the C and H could be recombined back to petroleum if we had the energy to do so.

Anyway, that's my take on the situation, and quite frankly, I am quite concerned our world governments aren't placing this issue front and center as the most important problem facing all of us.

All this political quibbling is of no significance by comparison.

Yet I see way too many technical minds that COULD be at work on this problem laying idle. Its as if people are panicking in a theater on fire, when right there in plain sight is the fire hose and the valve to turn it on.

Granted there may not be enough water in the system to fight the fire, but I am damn sure gonna run the hose on it post-haste. But so far, I see way too many fire hoses going unused.


I think your comparison with oil is exactly right. Energy is neither created nor destroyed, so we still have all the energy we ever had. The problem is whether it's in usable form. The same goes for phosphorus and other elements. It's not how much there is. It's how much there is in economically useful concentrations.

Right you are...there is lots of water in the world, but limited amounts of potable water at any point in time. Oil is renewable...it just depends on what time frame you are looking at.

Thanks to all who replied to me.

The answer I got was what I feared most... that we are taking the P and diluting it so much amongst other stuff so that its economically impossible to recover it.

I am hoping if things get worse, we could recover the nutrients from the sewage treatment plant and from the agricultural runoff streams. Maybe a combination of phosphorous-loving algae and fish that like to eat the algae, then use the fish for fertilizer? Dreams like this are a dime a dozen, but maybe one of them will work.

I hate to see us collectively causing our own problems by finding it so economically impractical to design from the get go the recycling of critical components. It seems so shortsighted to me to see critical nutrients in limited supply being sent to the ocean, only because it "cost" too much to save it today. Do we think of how much it will cost to recover it tomorrow if we don't plan for its recovery today?

We can print money.

We can't print phosphorous.

I don't think God meant me to sit on my a** thinking He's gonna show up in the sky with a handful of thunder bolts to recharge the Earth any more than some errant teenager would hope Dad's gonna come through and make all right with Visa and MasterCard after he's made a royal mess of both of them.

As far as I know, this is our show, and God's got the popcorn. I hope we can write ourselves a happy ending, albeit I fear the profit of some will put us all in the stew.


The problem with phosphorous is that by flushing it down rivers as farm runoff and down the sewers as human waste, we are causing it to wind up at the bottom of the ocean, where we can't retrieve it easily.

Where did all the potash go...
gone to yuppie homes everywhere
Where did it all go wrong..long long ago?

Or words to that effect(Kingston Trio wise)....so its perhaps all locked up under and in suburbia and it will take a lot of hard labor to gather it up and haul it back to Pooterville.
They do buy an awful lot of Turfbuilder. That immaculate lawn doncha know?

Good luck with that(getting it back),

airdale..with my potash in my pocket and my meter in my hand...yada.yada

So, where did the P go? Its still around.

Yes, because the Earth is a (cept for rockets and, say, the moon) a closed system.

The P has been diluted by human action and will take far more effort to 'close the cycle'.

In your search engine of choice:
Caveman chemistry (the P section)
Bone Black
will give you an idea on what would have to happen to answer your P question.

So, where did the P go? Its still around.

The best argument for organic gardening methods and for not shipping out the crops you grow, unless you ship in an equivalent in basic soil nutrition.

I, for one, am taking Bob Shaw's advice and investing in a few thousand pounds of rock phosphate for my lil' piece of garden ground. It keeps a whole lot better than canned Vienna sausage and saltine crackers (sorry, Chimp who can drive)

"Without phosphorous there will be no agriculture, nor biofuels, nor life. Humanity will end," he said.
"Phosphate runs the risk of running out before petroleum does."

The antidoomer covered that as 'bunk' yesterday - didn't ya get the memo?

Is there somewhere I can go to figure out what volume of each of NPK is needed to provide for, say, one person for one year...

...the obvious point being - what is the amount needed to feed people and therefore what is needed to be put aside for a rainy day (or total collapse of society)
All these memories will be lost in time
like tears in rain

Hmmmm...if two weeks of hard labor and a gallon of gas have the same utility (they do the same things, so they have equivalent usefulness to a potential buyer), then they should be roughly equal in price. But instead two weeks of hard labor is 500 TIMES more expensive than a gallon of gasoline currently. This would seem to be circumstantial evidence in favor of the labor theory of value ---- how our economic system values things actually depends on how much labor-time was expended in its production ---- and it takes a lot more labor to keep a human being alive for 2 weeks than to pump some oil out of the ground. It is worth noting that oil and labor approximate rather well the free-market assumptions of neoclassical economics: both are in competition with each other, neither is affected very much by price fixing, and buyers and sellers don't have any huge information asymmetries on these items. And yet the neoclassical predictions fall flat on their face in this example....

Comradez: Just a thought.

I would like to quibble with your equivalence - a labourer, being human, is now accorded rights and privileges, at least in the OECD, that are an added burden on the cost. This probably distorts the situation too much to come to any conclusion about that economic principle.

James Gervais

We have been awash in so much energy for so long, and most so lacking in personal experience with physical labor, that we have no perspective. The number I've heard is 500man-hrs per gallon of gasoline (I'd like to see other analysis), but it is huge. I always think about how much work a small amount of fuel will do in my chainsaw, and how I can spend hours clearing out brush in the pasture area I'm trying to reclaim using a gallon in my Gravely. Just imagine all the work that would represent with hand tools only!

That conversion of man-hrs to gallons is one of the most easily assimilated ones for those thinking about it for the first time. I like to ask how long it would take them to move their 5000lb SUV 15mi. Usually it only takes a moment or two for cognitive dissonance to dispense with the unwanted thoughts, but for those who are receptive it will stick and fester as a concept - and maybe someday lead to more thoughts about how much energy we are using.

I simply cannot look at fossil fuel of any form anymore without thinking about all the energy that is contained in it, what a miracle it is, and how would I get by without it. It is the energy slave concept - they've been there all my life, only now I can see them!

when i was eleven or twelve, Dad bought a Gravely 7.6 HP convertible with the sulky.

Pound for pound, (or HP for HP) That was the single most powerful and reliable piece of equipment I ever operated. My brother and I still talk about it today. It was still running and brush cutting when Dad passed away 31 years later.

The roto-tiller attachment absolutely pulverized the Garden.

Great memories. Thanks.


Mine is a 6.6hp, and it is a year older than I am. I'm still amazed at what it can do, but safety was not one of the design goals! I have considered converting it to electric power. A couple of batteries and a golf cart motor would fit, but I have not had time to design the connection to the transaxle.

I had the 10 hp Kohler engine convertible and that front rotary plow sure did a number on the soil...mostly destroyed it and what teensie lifeforms in it...I brought it in 1973 and let it go at auction in 2004 because it caused my wife to have to have a hip replacement and would wrench one's shoulder badly..I grew to hate the damned thing..the little rotary bushhog on front was ..well just a toy. THe sickle bar mower was also not to my liking..I still have it gathering dust...

Yes that dude would throw dirt but I tired of it compacting my soil so badly...hilling up beans? Yessir but .well I just outgrew it.I had all the attachments including cultivator on the front end and riding sulky.

The engine was great..the rest..well I now use only rear tine tillers and planning on not using those either in the future,if possible and my organic mulching pays off in more time in the hammock than walking behind powered equipment.

I am not disagreeing with you..its just my patterns of gardening didn't agree with the bare dirt method anymore.

But I loved it while I was doing the garden baredirt,dust mulch style..oh my garden looked so clean and nice...but alas the insects and all that fertilizer to throw on it and constantly at it with the garden sprayer...my cabbages looked like fine handtatted doiles granny used to embroider
or swiss cheese..I got tired of fighting the bugs.

airdale-my way isn't everyone's way

Running my saw is when I reflect on energy equivalent of gasoline as well. I live in mature second growth and everywhere you go you see the old tall stumps with plank notches. Odd to think that FF powered saws didn't displace misery whips until the '50's. It's one thing to imagine the labor of 2 strong men working with a good sharp saw, but the amount of labor in bucking and limbing and choking and setting and moving lines...mind boggling. It would be comforting to think that twilight of cheap fossil fuel era was also beginning of end of wholesale destruction of tropical rainforests, but I don't think that bell can be unrung. There was a lot of engineering needed to advance to your modern, light Stihl saw but they have percolated down to every nook and cranny of the third world now, and they are energy misers, relatively speaking.

I have no doubt one could make a saw run on Ethanol - sure it would have less power, but going slower still sounds good considering the alternative!

Economists are correct in some sense -- the market will always provide "corrections" to an out-of-balance situation. Note the suicides among farmers, the flooded out poor in New Orleans, the starvation in Somalia, malaria epidemic/endemic in the tropical world, and now MRSA in the over-medicated "West".

Dr. Pangloss said it best "it won't get any better, and it can't get any worse, so it's the best of all possible worlds." Don't bother your princely head -- everything will come out all right.

But he's wrong -- it can get worse, and it could get better if people used their brains to solve problems by working together rather than simply inventing technology to annihilate the opposition.

I have heard it said the labor output of one human for one year is about a million btu's. When you think in these terms, the equivalent to about 8 gallons of gas for a year's worth of work.

Big batteries will fight blackouts and could make renewable power economically viable.


Large-scale power storage is crucial to our energy future: the Electric Power Research Institute, the U.S. utility industry's leading R&D consortium, says that storage would enable the widespread use of renewable power and make the grid more reliable and efficient. Recent announcements by utility giant American Electric Power (AEP), based in Columbus, OH, suggest that grid storage technologies are finally ready for commercial deployment in the United States. Last month, AEP ordered three multi-megawatt battery systems and set goals of having 25 megawatts of storage in place by 2010, and 40 times that by 2020.


Like any new technology it is expensive now, but will be brought down greatly with mass production.


The biggest drawback is price. The battery costs about $2,500 per kilowatt, about 10% more than a new coal-fired plant. That discourages independent wind farm developers from embracing the battery on fears it will drive the wholesale electricity prices they charge utilities above competing rates, says Christine Real de Azua, spokeswoman for the American Wind Energy Association.

Mass production, however, is expected to drive prices down, Mears says. He predicts NaS batteries will start to become widespread within a decade.

Like any new technology it is expensive now, but will be brought down greatly with mass production.

I think if you check up thread to Fractional_Flows, your kind is discussed - People that confuse Technology with Energy.

First of this isn't a energy source, it's energy storage. It simply will make renewables like wind and solar more viable since they can be produced and stored when not in use. Anyway I guess you got 'guns and ammo' to store for your energy apocalypse, don't let me keep you.

I have little hope that planning and implementation of your system can be achieved with the current "democracy" and mindset of the public, but I am certainly trying. To be sure part of that "trying" is recognizing the possibility of "Collapse", with the past being the best indicator of the future.

Yes I got the guns, but she got the rest; not that she did not try! Only the future will tell whose decision will win out!

We lose a little on each transaction, but we make it up in voluume.

I would have to add 'What's this WE, Kimosabe?' to your point.

... in other words, energy storage is and will be a valuable commodity. It WILL cost a lot, and people will want it for any number of things. Many of today's needs which would call for stored electricity will soon show themselves to be uneconomical (I walked by a kid's soccer practise last night in Tucson, with big ol' stadium lights burning.. how much would that cost using batteries or some other storage at 'market rates'? Soon enough, the kids will be playing under the sun again, I'd wager.. but someone else will be paying the freight for storage somewhere else, where their customers are still willing to back the cost.

As with any of these partial 'solutions' that people are working on, it's not fair to imply a promise that any of these will simply and seamlessly replace all of today's systems and energy uses, or that it's useful to simply divide one of these things into the number of quads we use today to try to envision it's practical application. The thread above that covered the Middle East with 100% efficient panels continues this Hyperbolic trend in these discussions..

I'm not always sure what Antidoomer is doing with his posts, which is to say that my own response to the 'new tech' links usually is 'Ok, what's your take, here? Why are you showing us this?' And of course it gets slammed by those who hear his message as 'No Problem, this'll fix everything!'.. while I don't think that's really his message. I have to guess that the message is really 'Look, people are trying to work on the problems, maybe this one will move us in the right direction.'

It often feels somewhat pat and smug the way these are just tossed into the Drumbeat without much of his own perspective, but I honestly find them far less 'ineffective' than the angry or over-self-assured sniping that usually follows them.

Bob Fiske

I'm not always sure what Antidoomer is doing with his posts, which is to say that my own response to the 'new tech' links usually is 'Ok, what's your take, here? Why are you showing us this?'

The Antidoomer's position is to come in, post something, and when questioned in a manner like you state to not respond.

She's not here to engage in a conversation - just post and run away.

Like any new technology it is expensive now, but will be brought down greatly with mass production.

That does not make sense to me. The batteries require a good deal of commodities (which represent the bulk of the cost as technology have not really changed in many, many years). Are you saying that commodities will get cheaper if we use more of them? Does it also means that oil would also get cheaper if we would just use more of it?

Also not taken into account is that if demand increases for batteries prices do not automatically decline if suddenly everyone wants them and the supply is not sufficient. Scarcity would equal higher prices. Also why seperate the cost of batteries from the cost of solar/wind power. Don't you need both to make them work so wouldn't the overall cost be the cost of the renewable energy source plus storage?

That's a common fallacy. People take a pattern from one type of products, for example computer chips and automatically apply it to other products, e.g. batteries.

What is the percentage of material costs in computer chips? 1%? In batteries? 90%?

If technology and mass production bring down the R&D and labor costs for computer chips 10 times, while the price of materials double, their price will drop... 9 times.

If the same happens for batteries, their prices will rise by 81%.

That's right. There are no significant fixed costs (such as R&D) associated with many "new" energy solutions. Thus they can't get cheaper with increased volume.

mass production = mass consumption, even the coneheads had the mass consumption part down.

Like any new technology it is expensive now, but will be brought down greatly with mass production.

I believe that mass production is more energy-intensive than small scale, manually intensive production. 'Economies of scale' may very well become obsolete in an energy starved world.

'Economies of scale' may very well become obsolete in an energy starved world.

This is an important point to discuss, and I hope it gets expanded upon in the future.

There are a number of hidden assumptions in "economy of scale" which rely not only on cheap energy, but on essentially unlimited amounts of everything needed.

The catagory of things which can be made, but which could not be mass-produced at any price, is growing. I haven't seen this specifically mentioned anywhere but it's true. There will be "Liebig limits" of a sort, having to do with the absolute availability of commodities and skills as well as the ability to bring all necessary elements together in one place and time in a predictable timeframe. (Another thing to look into, Nate?)

Ultimately we'll have difficulty even mass-producing humans, and that's literally a no-brainer activity. Other sorts of mass production will precede that into impracticality. Though the assembly line may well stick with us a long time...

This is an important point to discuss, and I hope it gets expanded upon in the future.

The only way that happens is if someone posts.

The downside as pointed out by a poster who only posts how 'this place is filled with doomers' is, well, for the most part you are preaching to the belivers.

There are a number of hidden assumptions in "economy of scale" which rely not only on cheap energy, but on essentially unlimited amounts of everything needed.

Perhaps a start of a list of economic assumptions?

(expressed as a matrix or a mesh diagram?)

Though the assembly line may well stick with us a long time...

Exploring the old 'start of the industral revolution' documents that discuss the use of machine labor over human labor would be a path. Even Lenin talks about machines (tractors) in his documents.

For once, something at least mildly positive from Nigeria:

LAGOS, Oct 18 (Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell has put out the last of six fires that blazed for four months on a major oil export pipeline in Nigeria, the company said on Thursday.

The fires, started after holes were drilled into a section of the pipeline in the Ogoni area of the southern state of Rivers between June 18 and 27, were extinguished on Tuesday.

A spokesman for the company said there was no significant impact on production and exports by the fires, but declined to explain why.


That last sentence is a bit puzzling though.

They put out the fires, repair the holes, start pumping again, and immediately the relatives of those who died in the last blast/fire are out there with portable drills making new holes and then making off with what they can collect.

Life would be better for Nigerian petroleum producers if their above ground assets were well underground ...

I may be a pinko commie for suggesting this, but there is always the option of seeking reconciliation with the rebels who have remained dirt poor despite the fact that the oil is really theirs and the pipelines traverse their lands.

But I suppose it would really be too much to ask for the corrupt elite to share any of the riches they have got hold of. Wait, hasn't this happened somewhere else as well?

Shh... don't let the cat out of the bag.

Somebody might actually read some materials on the subject and find out the truth.

Better just believe they're all working for the betterment of mankind and profits is just a minor side-effect that the IOCs humbly accept.

I had a discussion about this with an economist (City banker) friend of mine.

His take: it's all because the countries are corrupt, the people are stupid and not educated enough to run their own things in a decent manner. IOCs are there just trying to help them out.

How do you reply to something like that?

"Read a few books on history, I'll make you a list."

Somehow he wasn't interested in hearing another take on the facts. Preconceived notions of reality are much easier to handle - no epistemic risk involved.

Well, the oil companies can pull out, in which case everyone in Nigeria loses, or they can keep going with the corrupt local regime, in which case almost everyone loses. Neither option leaves the locals well off.

The Sun is scaremongering again.

The critical lines in the "Giving the EU control of British Oil" story is

"That is the cost of the loss of Britain’s veto in just ONE of the 61 areas set out in the treaty"

In other words, unless Gordon puts his red pen through it, which he's done a lot with that constitution treaty.

Anyway, its just about upping strategic reserves to 120 days, which is a GOOD thing I think we'll agree?

This is for Pitt the Elder: Oil Resumes Rally After Pause.

Oil resumed its climb toward its latest record high of $89 a barrel on Thursday as an Iran oil official said he saw no need to lift output, a day after a Nigerian minister raised the prospect of an early OPEC meeting.


But an Iranian oil official close to OPEC matters said on Thursday that there was no need for the group to increase production as prices were being fuelled by political tensions.

When was the last time that OPEC called an early meeting to rescind an output increase? It looks like it may occur right now. Let's see if OPEC actually calls this meeting and if they rescind the quota increase. If they do, then even you should admit that something drastic has changed.

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

I have a different interpretation of your quoted article:

Prices fell on Wednesday after Nigeria's oil minister Odein Ajumogobia told Reuters that OPEC policymakers could opt to take action when heads of state meet in Saudi Arabia on November 17, three weeks ahead of its next official meeting.

Clearly the Nigerian oil minister suggested an early OPEC meeting in order to further increase production, which perhaps suits Nigeria. Otherwise oil prices would have risen on the news.

However I agree with your proposition that should OPEC meet early and recind the quota increase, then something drastic has changed.

It is a bit hard interpret this article/release.

It seems the only one talking rescind is Iran - well, no surprise there. They had no oil to increase production with anyways, so any increase just reduces cash for their labored budget.

But your right, an early meeting for ANY reason is telling of the current environment. And, unique and frightening if they rescind previous promises.

This is my first post to TOD. I've been following along with interest for many months now. My question has to do with the more dramatic predictions of the end of civilization once the reality of peak oil sets in. I've seen analyses of how an initial wave of price spikes leads to demand destruction, to be followed by another wave of price increases that more or less does us in. But let's say at some point our country "gets it" and aggressively starts to do something about it. Even without some miracle technology, existing alternative energies will be ramped up a couple of percent each year. The public will strongly favor existing technologies that save fuel--hybrids, plug-ins, diesel, smaller, lighter cars. That's a couple of more percentage points. On top of this, businesses start to support telecommuting and speed limits are reduced everywhere. If nothing else, people actually start turning off unused lights and equipment in their homes. My point is that each year that passes post peak will likely have some level of intentional conservation measures and alternative energy development that MAY offset, percentage point by percentage point, the decline in production. This could go on for some time as the world transitions away from oil. I'm not saying this is going to be pretty. But I am wondering if there is a reasonble likelihood that we can muddle through and not starve to death or have to defend ourselves against marauders in survivalist mode. Any insights here would be appreciated.

This is why net decline rates are key. There is a certain level of decline that the systems of society can accommodate. Past that point and things start breaking. As they break they cause other systems under strain to break until the entire national system of systems reconfigures around a new lower complexity structure.

And don't forget, its not the global decline rate that matters, its the rate with you - cue exportland, post peak pricing drivers, rationing, etc.

And analogously the rate of sea level rise. If it takes 1000 years for the Antarctic ice cap to melt, we will adjust. Each new urban development will be steered to higher ground, and cities will naturally migrate away from rising sea levels. If it melts off in 50 years, there is simply no way to rebuild that much infrastructure and housing and relocate much of the human population in that short a period of time.

The thing to keep in mind is that this is not just Peak Oil. If that were our only challenge, we might very well rise to meet it, somehow. But there is also the eventual decline in natural gas and coal, climate change (rising sea levels, changing/declining rain patterns, spread of malaria-carrying mosquitoes, dying forests), topsoil erosion and degradation, mass extinctions, fresh water shortages, Peak Food, declining fisheries, etc. etc. etc.

Just how many major issues can we successfully address all at once?

+ demographic timebomb
+ pandemics
etc. Both of those are short term threats, with high impact and high probability.

The answer is, we've been playing russian roulette too long and we're setup for a one-two knockout punch from our inability to take notice of the future creeping up on us.

A positive note to a pandemic would mean dramatically decreased consumption to allow for a softer landing long-term. :)
~Durandal (http://www.wtdwtshtf.com/)

Energy total = Energy per person X number of people.

If the total energy is dropping, and the energy per person does not drop - how do you balance the equation?

If it melts off in 50 years, there is simply no way to rebuild that much infrastructure and housing and relocate much of the human population in that short a period of time.

Actually, if we were to relocate the coastal refugees (and refugees from the arid southwest) to what would otherwise become depopulated suburbs around more amply watered inland cities, we might be able to raise population densities in some of those suburbs enough to support electrified rail transit, and thus salvage what would otherwise have to be scrapped.

Attention Alan Drake! Another type of TOD scenario!

Exactly, look at $88 a barrel oil, if oil went from 40 or 50 to 88 in a week instead over a longer period the DJIA would have tanked. Instead we all keep on truckin

The DJIA is priced in dollars just as oil is. One component of a Stock market is the value of the currency it is priced in. There are many factors involved but if you look at PE's and dividends you see you get less value from the stock market with each dollar purchase. I believe Zimbabwe's stock market is soaring as did Germany's during their 1930's hyperinflation.

My prediction is the "wakeup call" concerning peak-oil comes after petroleum exceeds $110/barrel, the US-dollar has gone into freefall and/or there's a regional war in the Middle East. The immediate response will not be windmills and solarvoltaics but nuclear power and synthetic petroleum from coal (South African Sasol technology based upon the Fischer-Tropsch process). Concern about global warming will be trumped by the greater concern over economic collapse. However this response will only be a stop-gap due to peak-coal. Fortunately the principle of peak-oil / global resource depletion will have become irrefutable. Removed from the discussion will be the cornucopian repeating that "Malthus has always been wrong" or the oil industry stooge saying that energy resources are infinite. The political/economic process of converting from coal to some sort of biofuel based upon sustainable energy resources will be unstopable at that point.

The $64,000 question: When we receive the "wakeup call" will our declining economy have the resources to begin the massive construction of nuclear power and Sasol synfuel plants? If the the economic decline is sufficiently gradual then the answer will be "Yes".

Of course, if human beings were smarter than yeast, we'd be doing the conversion now before our economy got shocked or we had a regional war over energy.

scsns...you bet there's a chance we will muddle through all this....there is a HUGE chance...especially if we go through Stuart Staniford's "slow squeeze".

The future is not set in stone. People are not inherently good or evil...they are both at different times.

Do NOT let all the doomerism overwhelm you. There is always HOPE...as long as you temper it with REALITY. Things will change...and there are extreme views of what that change will be. Reality will be somewhere in the middle of those extremes...I hope!!

We're entering a bottleneck.

Only a few will squeeze thru.

We can't even override the Traitors on child health care.

And notice Pelosi pulls the Armenia Bill AFTER
Turkey passes permission to invade?

Time to arrest everyone!

Arkansaw of Samuel L Clemens

Sc: The site is strongly biased towards negativity. OTOH, a lot of the info provided is first-rate. A lot of TOD posters, if they won a $20 mill lottery tomorrow, would be complaining about their tax problems almost immediately. Look, the dramatic changes coming are opportunities-to make a lot of money or lose a lot of money. Could your life end up a lot better than it would have if oil was more abundant? Definitely, but there are no guarantees.

IMO any degree of decline means the end of growth as the world knows it.

When growth stops and perhaps even reverses a whole host of problems arise.

Millions unemployed
Millions hungry/thirsty
billions diselusioned

Again IMO no one knows what will happen but from my own observations people can act very irrationally at times.

Souper: There has been no real growth in the US economy (at the median) over the last 25 years. OTOH there are opportunities that didn't exist 25 years ago. I think everyone who looks at oil depletion realizes that for most humans on this planet life will get harder/worse. That is why everyone is trying to figure out how to build their own ark. You can't stop the rain.

I like your hypothesis and hope we power down that way. However your idea is partly founded on people “getting it” and this may not be likely. The MSM up until now has done a pretty good job equating high oil prices with geopolitics. And even if they started reporting peak oil you have to ask yourself how many people would be willing to admit to themselves that their entire existence must drastically change?

I am afraid we will have a global energy grab, and TSWHTF.
You could also consider that we may already be too late in gracefully executing a power down. Peak Soil

That’s not to say we should stop trying to remediate the situation, but IMHO it’s best to consider and prepare for all possibilities.

It would take a massive effort to offset a FF decline of one or two percent a year with "renewables". But what if, as many predict, the decline rate is more like 5%/yr within the next decade?

And our problem is more severe than that, because we MUST have economic growth or our whole economic system falls apart, and there must be MORE energy available constantly to fuel this growth. So it might not be too long before the energy that we require from non-FF sources must grow at rates approaching 10%/yr. Just to keep treading water.

Lotsa luck...

SCNS, there are many variables to consider, too many to draw conclusions about what is going to happen.

1) Will the Fed continue to cut interest rates and let the dollar free fall to stave off recession/depression?

2) Will shrub/vader find reason to attack Iran before the end of their terms in office?

3) Is WTs ELM right on the money? Too optimistic? Too conservative? How will 'above ground' events distort ELM?

4) Can SA continue to be a swing producer or are they just jawboning?

5) How long can gas at the pump hoover near $3 per gallon when crude is climbing daily?

6) Will Mexican oil/gas production be shut down by more pipeline destruction?

7) What will happen in Iraq? The Persian Gulf?...After an attack on Iran...Or, if Turkey attacks the Kurds?

These are just a few of the many questions/variables that will determine how future events unfold...No one really knows what is going to happen because there are the 'black swan' events that are 'unknown unknowns'...as rummy would say. Stay loose, remain flexible, get out of debt, believe little of the economic numbers being published by our dear leaders...Hope for the best, prepare for the worst...Be a good boy scout.

scsns: if pessimists like ASPO and Ace are right, then global decline (all liquids) will be in the order of 2% to 2.5% per year starting around 2010. Westexas will point out that these are global numbers and that net exports could decline much faster. Either way, I think we can adapt. Or, to put it another way, what do you think the maximum viable decline rate is? (beyond which society collapses).

Most individual fields, once they start to decline, will decline at around 8%. The reason nations, once they go into decline, do not decline at this rate is not all their fields are in decline. If some are still increasing or holding steady, the decline will be much less for the nation as a whole.

But look at the North Sea, where the decline is about 10% and Cantarell is expected expected to decline even faster. The world will go from a plateau, (right now) to a decline to 1%, then 2%, then 3% and so on as more and more of the world's fields go into decline. The rate is likely to be in excess of 5% in 20 years. And it will be much higher if producing nations start to hoard their oil. And of course the export rate will decline even faster still.

Adapt? No way in hell!

Ron Patterson


Offshore oil fields may decline at 8%, but I do not believe onshore declines at anywhere near that rate. It's much easier (and cheaper) to do infield drilling on land.


Offshore oil fields may decline at 8%, but I do not believe onshore declines at anywhere near that rate. It's much easier (and cheaper) to do infield drilling on land.

Cheaper drilling means more holes from the start of production.They don't just drill one well and then drill more once production declines. They drill to maximize production early on because its cheaper to do so.

and what happens after all the infield(sic) wells are drilled ?
the decline for a field can be essentially anything. some decline at a few % per year and others decline at 25 % or so.

The key question is "What is the decline rate going to look like?" Right now nobody has a good answer to that because we're still arguing about whether we've even peaked or not. But ignoring that problem for a moment, whenever peak does arrive, the decline rate question becomes the big one.

The key problem becomes adaptation rate of alternative technologies versus the decline rate of fossil fuels (because natural gas appears to be at or near peak also and coal is not really that far off). If we can adapt as fast or faster than we decline then we may even experience a "boom" of sorts. If we cannot adapt as fast or faster than the decline rate, then we have problems. The exact nature and scope of the problems are not clear and it is not even clear that worse declines would lead to worse problems. Worse declines might trigger an emergency mindset sooner, thus saving us from ourselves, for example.

The problem that most "doomers" see is that historically, no energy shift in the history of industrial society has occurred in less than 50 years, or about 1.5%-2% change annually. Decline rates are already posited to be likely larger than this with the lower bound on decline rates most frequently expected to be around 4% and even industry experts seeing the possibility of 8% declines. Clearly, society has never faced this sort of problem before and therefore this problem is very likely going to require extraordinary measures rather than "business as usual" methods. So far, there has been no "crisis" mindset adopted by any nation in the world and therefore we remain in the "business as usual" mindset. This is what gives many "doomers" concern.

It is important to note that we have the technology to solve these problems but that using the technology we have would result in a society that looks different than the one we have today. Solving the energy crisis would mean denser housing, more transit oriented development, electrification of transportation, and a vast array of other effects that would fall out from those primary changes. Such a society would not necessarily be a bad place to live, just different than the "happy motoring suburbia" we have today, and maybe even better.

The negativity often expressed here is an outgrowth of the lack of response by national governments coupled with the awareness that the problem is already expected to be larger than normal modes of operation can handle. Also, note that many here refuse to accept that we also have massive concurrent problems with climate change, loss of arable soils, fresh water depletion, loss of biodiversity, and overpopulation. These problems are compounded by the extraordinary nature of the projected decline in fossil fuels. It is my belief that all of these problems are technically solvable but technology alone never solved anything by itself. Problem solutions involve politics, i.e. human interaction. If a political solution is not forthcoming then there will not be a solution, regardless of whether technology offers us such a solution or not. So what we need and are not yet getting is a crisis mindset on the political landscape to deal with these sorts of problems. Even in the European nations the notion is "business as usual".

Now, I will say up front that I cannot prove that the "business as usual" methods will definitely fail but, based on history, I can find no example where these business as usual methods have solved problems like these ever before. So by not adopting a crisis mindset througout our entire society, we are taking a gigantic gamble and it is a gamble that history suggests we are going to lose. I am not aware of a single prior civilization that continued to do things the same way and which faced one or more of these kinds of problems that did not collapse. Those civilizations cited by Tainter and Diamond that did survive serious crises, did so by changing urgently. Thus, until I see our society deliberately choosing to succeed, I must assume, based on the historical record, that we will fail (and therefore collapse). Given that many population biologists are of the opinion that we are in serious population overshoot only enabled by our civilization's existence (and dependence on fossil fuels), the loss of that civilization must be presumed to be accompanied by serious loss of life and disintegration of the social structure, as has happened repeatedly throughout history.

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

This is an excellent summary of the predicament and of the realist point of view - you should post in on your blog.

The problem is that too many equate "solution" to mean something which allows a lifestyle similar to business as usual, and that is one thing that cannot happen. There may be things we can do to avoid absolute catastrophe, but they will in themselves involve massive changes and result in a world that looks very different from what we have now. From what I can see, any change is unthinkable to most, and so we head toward the default solution....

"if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice"

Great post, GZ.

The ultimate problem, then is one of psychology:

We must transition to a sustainable economy, if we are to survive at all. Such a transition will not only require drastic changes, it will also mean that we are going (in all probability) to have to downsize to a much lower standard of living and per capita GDP. That is going to be difficult to face. The entire population is going to have to cycle through the Kubler-Ross 5-stage model before they get to the acceptance stage -- the only one that is helpful in actually moving us forward toward the changes required to achieve the sustainable future.

BUT: How on earth can this be done - especially given our present political system?

The only shred of hope I can dredge up is the experience of WWII. In that case the US and UK democracies were faced by a real, terrifying, and mortal existential threat. Fortunately, both nations found themselves with charismatic and competent political leadership that was able to rally their populations to accept the need to make radical and sacrificial lifestyle changes. It is unlikely that such changes could ever have been sold to the general public absent such a clear and present threat.

Those of us that are alert to the danger know that we will be facing an ever more terrifying and mortal existential threat from the multiple crises that are now looming before us than we have ever faced before. IF we had charismatic and competent leadership of a quality similar to FDR or Churchill, it is conceivable that as the full extent of the crises began to become obvious and undeniable, a similar feat of lifestyle-transforming leadership could be achieved.

That's the good news. The bad news is that we don't have such leadership today, and I don't see it among the current crop of presidential candidates either. Whether such leadership will emerge in time remains to be seen.

The ultimate problem, then is one of psychology:

My own feeling is that a human society can only handle a certain level of complexity, and we are reaching/have reached the point at least in the USA.

One can of course call this a psychological problem, but it really differs in quality, I think, from political disagreements and the like.

Human beings, en-masse, are simply not smart enough to handle the technology and logistics of what it would take to truly ameliorate the existing and developing global problems.

Quick moo to GZ's post.

The charismatic leadership in the UK/US/USSR was an "artefact" that appeared because and as a mirror to the threat and disappeared as quickly as it arrived postwar, sadly. Roosevelt died, Churchill got the bums rush, Stalin was a tyrant. What we really had was the tractor factories of Russia and the USA turning out tanks, air superiority, and most of the oil.

But never mind that, even more important is the psychology ... the magnitude of ~1 bn. primates with nuclear weapons hitting the Anger stage together is what keeps The Chimp Who Can Drive up at night. After that the Bargaining and Depression stages should be a breeze.

Yes... what counted then (ww2) was not so much the ‘charismatic leadership’ but the existential threat, and the fact of war itself, the cohesion it brings - nothing like the evil without, for that. (After all, many ppl loathed Winnie.) Moreover, the downsizing - rationing, lack of consumer goods, hunger, etc. - was in some cases a decision about the allocation -organization, distribution, etc - of resources, and not their lack per se. (Breakdown and disruption did the rest.)

Still, the point ‘when there is a will there is a way’ is vital..


I just want to say that your well reasoned post is one reason I keep coming back to TOD. Thank you. I wish others posters would use your post as an example of the quality that keeps TOD going and forego some of the useless verbiage.


Really well-stated post, GZ. Up there with the best.

I can only add that the GAO report this year, where one might have hoped would convey the sense of emergency, but failed at this, ended it's first page summary with this observation:

However, there is no coordinated federal strategy for reducing uncertainty about the peak’s timing or mitigating its consequences.

For the policy advisors, analysts, and policy makers in the Drumbeat audience, where are you now? Waiting for the riots?


Welcome to TOD. I knew a lady once, she smoked 3 packs a day for 50 years. Then she finally quite, gave it up at age 65. At age 67 she was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, only a couple of months left, no hope, no possible treatment. It was simply too late. Her only comment, "I don't know how this happened! I quite smoking!"


My ex's grandmother used to drink an incredible amount of coffee, from first thing in the morning right on up until after dinner. She would bitch and moan about not being able to sleep, and when I suggested that she cut back on the ol' caffeine, she said "oh, that's not the problem - coffee doesn't affect me".

What can you do?


I approach your question from a different perspective. I begin with the realization that the entire world - everyone - MUST eventually transition to a sustainable economy. Non-renewable resources deplete and will eventually go away, renewable resources are all we will eventually be left with. There is no other alternative - except extinction, maybe.

Thus, what we really need to do is work backwards. We must identify what is the maximum carrying capacity of the earth, and what would constitute a sustainable population & economy supported by that carrying capacity. For example, what is the minimum amount of energy per capita that such a society would truly need to sustain human life at something approaching what we would call "civilized" (as opposed to what would be required to allow us to continue to play with our toys), and how much of an installed renewable energy infrastructure would we thus need to produce that energy?

From this, we can then work our way backwards to the present, and determine what are the priority things that we must do to arrive at such a sustainable future. For example, we can determine how much we need to invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency each year. The good news is that it will not be necessary to replace fossil fuels with renewables on a 1:1 basis, because they are providing energy to end uses that are wasteful and unnecessary in many cases. It is pointless to be concerned about how we are going to come up with enough renewable energy to sustain our entire transportation sector, for example; in a sustainable world, there will be far less travel and transport, life will be largely localized. We will actually only have to deploy renewables at a ratio of some fraction to every one unit of fossil fuel that depletes. What this also means is that investments made in an effort to extend or expand the otherwise depleting supply of non-renewable energy should be seen as only a short-term, transitional expedient at best, and should not be allowed to crowd out the deployment of renewables or the implementation of energy efficiency measures.

Thus, under my approach, there is no effort to try to sustain the unsustainable. Forget about maintaining present levels of per-capita GDP; accept the fact that it is going to drop. Stop worrying about the fact that total energy supplies are going down; we won't need so much energy in the future anyway. These are all accepted as an inevitable part of the transition to a sustainable economy. The whole focus is on the long-term goal of the sustainable future.

I'm afraid I don't have the time to do all of the research and analysis that would be required to provide a full and definitive set of answers that need to be provided with such an approach. I keep posting comments like this in the hopes that some other people might take up the challenge. Thus, I don't have an authoritive answer to the one question upon which the long-term future of the human species ultimately hangs: Is it even possible to successfully make the transition to a sustainable economy? I'd like to think the answer is still "yes", but transitioning to a sustainable economy is by no means a certain outcome.

"There are two kinds of societies: sustainable and doomed."

Nice post WNC.

One of things that we will need to collectively do before any real advance towards sustainability can be made, is accept that many of the structures we have in place that hold up our system do not work without increasing supplies of energy. The most obvious of these are our economic/financial structures.

Debt-based economies (ponzi schemes) cannot exist without growth. This, I believe, will be one of the hardest things for society to accept. I doubt the transition to a sustainable economy - the one that you note must happen - will occur without very severe catalysts being added - wide-spread war, depression, and perhaps worse. To make the mental switch voluntarily would be nice, but there will be a lot of people (those profiting from it) fighting to keep the ponzi scheme going as long as possible.

I hope a relatively smooth powerdown is possible... I don't think that it is likely.

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

Nice comments above.

However its my opinion that those who really care about life would find what we now have its distressing, boring and almost useless and not much fun.

Thats if your a typical energy consuming unit like most are.
Drive around in overpowered ,expensive vehicles,eat very bad food,buy junk that is way overpriced, pay enormous prices for houses that are really not houses but just dressed up shacks with chipboard exteriors,Tyvex wrapped, clad with vinyl and drywalled interiors and very energy wasteful in a suburb where everyone is in your face and you can hear another person 4 houses away break wind.

Then you have children problems, health issue costs and problems, work problems with no chance of long term employment,maybe even losing your job soon,huge traffic jams where you spend most of your time waiting on traffic. You cluster up in neighborhoods that you despise the people for their idiotic consuming lifestyles. And lastly this is no longer a real democracy or even approaching it. You only escape it via the mass media which is all make believe anyway.

You realize that its all deadend and nothing you can do about it and your life stretches ahead with really nothing but more debt,higher prices and more stress. And then 'everything' runs out and you enter into the unprepared world of sheer ,total,absolute, terror and chaos.

What else can be said? I don't live that kind of life anymore. I sleep soundly each nite with total silence. No one bothers me. I can do as I like on my own private land. I have no television. I read a lot. I am healthy and I take no medicine.

My only 'sin' is TOD and the internet,,which as a techie I still love...I do piecemeal (techie)work around the county as I feel led. I am almost already living a sustainable lifestyle. I could ride my mountain bike to the nearby town easily. I am kin to many and could barter in a 'new' world for my simple needs(once that comes) and small communities reassert themselves(a longish time but will happen).Or ride a horse, which I used to raise a lot of. (NOTE TO SELF: find a good riding horse,,5 gaited for sure)still have my saddle and tack, cold shoes and a lot of horseshoe nails plus the simple farrier tools.

I don't say its for everyone..in fact most would not be able to live as I do..and most will never do so.

I pay no taxes. I am planning on not even voting this year. I have no control except over myself, and my dogs.

airdale-you will either adapt or die...IMO as always
You may call me a doomer,but I'm not the only one-
YMCMADBINTOO Ciao anyway bubbas


For a sound track to accompany your post, cue up John Denver's "Thank God I'm a Country Boy!"


Seriously, though, you remind us that there might be a silver lining around the edges of the big, dark cloud.

In the sustainable economy we must inevitably transition to (if we manage to avoid outright extinction), while we will be poorer when measured in terms of real per capita GDP, life could in fact be better in many intangible ways. Your post gives us a sense of what some of those intangibles might be.

The BIG LIE, the GREAT HERESY of the capitalist-industrial age is the notion that the only things of value are things of monetary value.

We have exchanged our birthright for a bowl of pottage.

i suspect a debt-based economic system and a non-debt-based economic system are so different as to be completely incompatible - i don't therefore expect a transition - i expect communities will grow in economic isolation and expand as the debt-based economies collapse

just my 2c
All these memories will be lost in time
like tears in rain

Just look at France! With a very educated citizenry, yes about energy too, relatively speaking, not bad at all, well placed energy wise on the face of it (nuclear, etc), with a strong tradition of collective management, of participation, with values that do run counter to free market ones - the fabled 35 hour week, ‘free’ health care, slow food, quality time, small cars, anti-globalization, all that stuff - I realize this portrait is very stereotypical, maybe even silly - and they elect a new President on a pro-growth, economic ‘liberalism’, nationalistic (these not necessarily congruent!) ticket.

Sarkozy exploited gloom-and-doom; too many foreignors about, too high unemployment, ‘economic stagnation’ (untrue, really), too high house prices (how he will fix that with massive tax cuts to the rich is a mystery), generally speaking, aspirations and demands not met.

Oh there’s no hope I tell you! ;)

Thanks for your comments:

One small point of disagreement: Even in a truly sustainable, zero-growth economy, it might still be possible for projects with long economic lives to be financed with debt. In a sustainable economy, waste is a big no-no, which means that all resources must be carefully used. There can be no such thing as a "free" asset in a sustainable economy, because "free" will inevitably result in overuse, misuse, and waste. All assets must have a rental value that is high enough to cover their replacement cost, thus assuring that they are not misused and wasted. This includes money. Money might still be available on loan, for a price (interest). What you would not have, though, is fractional reserve banking, which is what leads to money (debt, actually) being created out of thin air, and ultimately causes inflation. In a sustainable economy, the only money available to borrow is the money that is actually on hand and not being used for something else. As sustainable economies are likely to be poor economies (in terms of per capita real GDP, compared to today), there isn't likely to be a lot of surplus money around and available to loan to invest in projects. But there might be some. The interest rate charged would be solely a product of supply v. demand. My guess is that the amount of borrowing taking place will be just an occasional project here and there. Personal consumer borrowing would be unheard of, and maybe illegal.

You are right though: there is no way that such an economy can sustain the mountain of debt that we have piled up.

Money is a symbol of productivity in the past, correct? If one has a novel way of producing more without causing harm isn't that "growth"? Here I am thinking of intellectual property - that slick Japanese crosscut saw vs. the old flexible flyers we've got hanging out in the garage, that sort of thing.

I have a hoe, but I bet its not the best in class. The energy to make it is the same as the energy to make one of those really nice round ones ...

Intellectual property can continue to inflate in a world that has changed, so long as we have a distribution mechanism. Open Source software is the herald of this change but I suspect it'll spread to everything as we go away from corporate hierarchy and towards broad, flat, local networks.

WNC mentions debt.

Back when I brought my small farm in Missouri,right in the Ozark uplift(I was third valley from the beginning)..the land was owned by a widow woman who lived on many acres..she would make a personal loan to anyone who wanted to buy some of her land...so I would make a payment to her twice a year..and the land was very cheap..I did get a mortgage from the local bank to build my house.

She many times would tell me not to pay her that year due to taxes. I got another parcel off her and expanded but never even made a payment on that addition before my company moved me away...

Thats the way it was some time back..there were people in the community who would give you a 'note'. That meant a huge amount of trust between people back then...

Now we see the real estate and financial meltdown and I find it odd that even in my own lifetime and not over 30 yrs in the past one could still deal with landowners and neighbors in financial instruments based on simple trust.


According to RIA Novosti, TNK-BP claim Samotlor will be producing about 240 million bbl (per year, presumably) from now until 2011. Sounds pretty optimistic, doesn't it?


The article is a bit odd though, it could conceivably have been mistranslated.

The water wars continue...

Dry Georgia to sue Army Corps for water

Millions of gallons of water are sent downstream to Florida and Alabama. The drought has heightened tensions among the three states, which already disagree on how to manage the region's limited water supply.

The governor of Georgia has ordered the Army Corps of Engineers to stop releasing water to Florida and Alabama, but the Corps has refused, saying federal law requires them to do it.

It's not just Georgia:


I mention this because there was a high probability that I was going to end up in NC if I had gone through with marriage. How glad am I that I chose to remain in western NY, in the Great Lakes basin?

I also have friends who just moved from Michigan to NC for a variety of reasons. I haven't heard from them in a while, but I would be interested to know how they are dealing with the statewide water restrictions. They are in one of the 'extreme drought' areas, so I'd imagine it would be something of a shock.

It's also a problem in the Great Lakes region:

Lake Superior in the Midst of a Drought

Morning Edition: October 17, 2007 · Water levels in the three upper Great Lakes are wavering far below normal, but Lake Superior, the northernmost lake, is already at a record low for this time of year. The problem comes in the balance between precipitation and evaporation: lakes evaporate in fall and winter. But with too little ice cover to provide precipitation only evaporation occurs.

True, but no one in the Great Lakes has proposed significant water restrictions at this point.

At this point the drought in the Great Lakes has also been crowded out by two other potential causes for the record low lake levels.

The first is an Army Corps of Engineers project in the St. Clair River that may have unwittingly upped the outflow between Huron and Erie to unacceptable levels.

The second, and more problematic in my opinion, is the reversal of the Chicago River to divert water out of the Lakes. It boggles my mind that this was ever allowed to occur, and I am equally perplexed as to how this theft of lake water can be stopped before it is too late.

The worst thing that could happen at this point is if towns NEAR, but not IN the Great Lakes basin are allowed to begin water theft from the Lakes. Waukesha, WI I'm looking at you!

Ancient canards never die. Come
look at the mighty Chicago River
and tell that's the problem again

Ha ha ha!! More like a "bubbly creek" Bubbly creek is actually the unofficial name of the south branch that serviced the stockyards. It still gurgles from the years and years of organic matter dumped into it from the packing houses. And smells incredibly bad in the summer. The ignorant yuppies who bought the Mcmansions built along its’ banks found this out much to their displeasure.

Things here in the WNC mountains don't seem to be quite as bad as in the Piedmont, not quite sure why they have us classified as E4. We're supposed to get rain this afternoon; we could use it.

If there are clouds with much H2O in them heading east, our mountains usually wring it out of them.

[EDIT 0930 19 Oct: We did in fact get some rain - in fact, it is raining again right now. Not much, mostly just moistening the ground and knocking down the leaves. But at least it is something.]

My wife and son live in the Piedmont(Raleigh/Durham) area , where I used to work..

Its very very bad there..everyone in her subdivision is on personal water wells so they may be ok..but its those on 'city water' or don't have wells that are in a bad way..however if the aquifer drops a lot well thennnn they are in very deep kaka. Very deep. No showers,no toilet,no washing of clothes..not nice for folks in the 'burbs.

They were told a month ago that there was only 75 days of supply left...that may have been premature...there are 2 very huge lakes there...Jordan and I forget the other one..but I don't think they are tapped or if so may be very low also..One of them has the ShearsonHarris Nuk generator on it.

airdale-I told them bad things were coming, but..NOOOOOOO
they wouldn't listen..hah

Water is going to be huge very soon, Poland spring owner nestles is putting in wells in the saco river valley in maine, they will have deep taps, just like when we ere drinking milk shakes as kids the deepest straw will get the most. I envision that soon they will be selling at a premium water to the same folks whose land it was once under but who do not have as deep a straw.

They were talking about this a few years ago out west. They wanted to pipe water from Wyoming to west Texas. Some Wyoming residents worried that there wouldn't be enough water left for them. They were reassured that if needed, water trucks would be sent.


Hey, I know! Maybe people should stop living in the desert and expecting green lawns and golf courses!

Nah, that would be too hard since we all know the American Way of Life is non-negotiable!


Not to worry, Leanan...Soon the latest findings confirming abiotic water will appear on web sites sponsored by FEMA.

But water is abiotic in origin!

Heh. True.

But so is life, and therefore oil, technically, but I'd guess he's referring to the kind of thinking that says it'll just come into existence quickly and "magically" in time to save our butts.

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

I'd like to see a link of this plan to ship water to Texas.

At face value, this seems ludicrous, as Montana and Wyoming have been sparring over water associated with coal for many years. This year it erupted with Montana's Governor Schweitzer accusing Wyoming of stealing water and filing suit.

Not that areas with 10 inches ppt have surplus water, but in the Powder and Tongue river basins, retrieval of coal bed methane in Wyoming requires pumping the associated water out of the formation. During the 90's, the fight centered on water quality. This rather dirty, saline water is dumped into intermitent channels, and eventually makes it downstream to the Yellowstone. Fights broke with ranchers and wildlife defenders in both states as water tables dropped.

The quantity issue, not just quality, has finally roused the state to act. But after wells have gone dry, and watering holes disappeared, it is too late for many. I see many similarities with Alberta's tar sands.

Lesson: Don't stop drilling just as soon as you hit the water table - go a lot deeper.

My well pump is at 230 ft...the rig bored on down 35 ft past that...

Around here water runs out on the ground,springs.

Some of those springs have never dried up as long as people have been in this area. When those springs stop flowing then it will be way way late into the endtimes.

Sometimes I walk to a holler and then find a clear run of water..start hiking back upstream to a spot where I find pure clay around the bubbling water..I take something and dip up some to drink..its like as pure as tasty as can be..
far better than any bottled water I might tend to drink ,,if I don't have a water jug with me and thirsty while working somewhere else.

With a well the pump,tank and all that pvc tend to diminish the real taste of that water...we have a lot of sand,gravel and many layers of various types..as they were drilling my well I saved some of each shovelfull in baby jars..they stuck the shovel under the outflow to see the 'color' and knew when they were getting close. There is no bedrock in my area.

airdale-why do people pay for what falls free outa the sky?
OHhh..yes..the city..I recall women used to want rainwater to wash their hair..

The updated 3-month climate forecast was just released, and while the southeast looks like it'll get a break over the next couple of months, the drought is predicted to restrengthen next year, and continue until at least May/June. With 81 days of water remaining for Atlanta, people are definitely getting nervous. But they still haven't shut down the damn car washes.

UPDATE: I would've sworn that the links above went to the October 18 maps, but now they're showing the ones from September 20 again. This link seems to work for next month's forecast, but even there the map shading is wrong. May be they're having technical difficulties.

HA, weathermen can barely predcit the weather tomorrow. I put little faith in their predictions months out. Hell they might have floods in georgia in two months, who knows.

First you'll have to grasp the difference between "weathermen" and "climatologists".

If you ask a seismologist the chances of a major earthquake in California in the next 500 years, they'll probably answer close to 100%. If you ask them if there will be an earthquake tomorrow, they'll just shrug their shoulders and say "no idea". Chaotic systems are unpredictable in the short term, but they are often embedded in long term patterns that are predictable.

In this case, the ENSO (El Nino/Southern Oscillation) pattern is one of the primary drivers, and fairly well understood. Look here for information on how the global climate responds to a La Nina cool phase.


Antidoomer is only skeptical in one direction - against evidence that our sacred way of life is wrong, stupid or evil.

Hello Leanan,

Evidently, FEMA is unconcerned about the SE drought. When I went to the FEMA website and typed 'Southeastern Drought' into their search feature: this is the latest report:


My earlier suggestion of an organized moving of the Atlantans to a rehabilitated Detroit must not seem like a viable solution to FEMA.

Recall my earlier post whereby a typical golf course uses the water equivalent of 6,000 average American homes. Thus, I also surmise that Tiger Woods & Phil Mickelsen driving the first ProGardenAssoc. [PGA] tractors to plow Agusta National has gone nowhere too. Oh well, they will continue to golf, but it will simply be across a 18-hole course spanning drifting Death Valley Dustbowl sand dunes--golf bags strapped to camels, and normal par with be 300. Bonus cash if the winner avoids extreme dehydration.

[Extreme? Rant off]/

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

Isn't it unlikely that there would be any Arctic oil to be found? Oil can only be where dinosaurs have lived at one time in history, so surely the Arctic region (even taking into account climate variations) would be have always been too harsh an environment for a considerable dinosaur population to have developed.

Oil can only be where dinosaurs have lived at one time in history,

Nope. Think algae, diatoms and other plants as a majority source material.

True, but if oil is indeed 'Ancient Sunlight', then surely the Arctic region - by nature of its location - would be low on oil, whatever biomass was available to create it.


There you go. What we call the artic now, was once at a much lower latitude.

Thanks for the link, that explains things for me.

There was a respected scientific paper less than a year ago, where it was reported that that Artic was like a jungle 60 million years ago, and NOT BECAUSE IT MOVED LATITIDES!!

The world of today is not how it always has been. That is a very narrow view. The Antarctic has been the home of temperate forests and dinosaurs in the past. The Arctic has been warm too. About 24C water temperatures 55 million years ago according to core samples... and algae blooms.


That doesn't mean great oil deposits will be found there - just don't write it off because of the conditions there today.

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

True, but if oil is indeed 'Ancient Sunlight', then surely the Arctic region - by nature of its location - would be low on oil, whatever biomass was available to create it.

Contiential drift. There was dinosaurs on Antartica. 100 million years ago, Antartica was much closer to the equator. Same for greenland and the sea bed under the artic. Alaska had a lot of oil and its now up near the artic because of Contiental drift.

And besides, the continents move around alot on a geologic timescale: Svalbard for example, has fossils of dinasours in some of it's strata, and coal is mined from other. It now lies between 76° and 81° north.

"The Carboniferous period was humid. ... During the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods Svalbard moved from 50° to 70° north and the climate was temperate and humid."

Most oil is in reality fish shit, but the requirement for oil to be created are unforgiving the fish shit has do be produced faster than it degrades. It can not be too shallow or it does not quite make it to oil like oil shale, too deep it becomes gas also the oil needs a source rock and a rock that will be strong enough to hold it also do not forget Continental drift et cet.

The problem with polar oil that I see is that

The polar states us, russia, canada, norway, denmark-greenland etc would first have to determine who owns what, there would be years of treaty negotiations in the mean time access to the polar region would be limited. Look at how Canada has been debating the Mackenzie delta for about 40 years, and that is solely in their territory (re the polar region they are determined to assert their sovereignty over the north.)

Even with GW the climate is very harsh, to go into the polar region would entail a massive amount of capital and r and d to develop and produce the equipment, this equipment would have to be developed for a region that is undergoing profound climate change. The structural requirements of the equipment would have to be over engineered i.e. you would be dealing with a biter cold winter that would make metals brittle ther is the problem of drifting winter ice flows as the rigs would be off shore so you would also have to deal with ocean waves in an ice free summer.

In addition there would have to be a base camp built for workers and supplies during construction of the rigs and storage facilities and there would need to be a ship terminal built, and the tankers would still have trouble in the winter.

And this is even if there is oil there, even if there is oil up there after all the eroei may a negative,

Most oil is in reality fish shit, but the requirement for oil to be created are unforgiving the fish shit has do be produced faster than it degrades.

This is total crap. While some reservoir rock is fecal pellet limestone, Ghawar for instance, the fecal pellets have nothing to do with the origin of the oil. The oil was produced from ancient algae buried much deeper than the reservoir rock.

Ron Patterson

The fact of whether or not oil comes algea and not fish shit will not make the arctic less of a hostile environment nor will it change to geopolitical problems that are barriers to polar exploration.

Umass, you miss the point. On this list we are supposed to know what we are talking about concerning oil.

Ken Deffeyes, in his first book "Hubbert's Peak", goes into great detail about the origin of oil. Oil comes primarily from two periods of intense global warming, a time when we had great algae blooms. The algae would sink to the bottom of shallow seas where because of climatic conditions existing at the time, very little oxygen existed. The dead algae would eventually be covered with sediment. The sediment, over millions of years, would sink deeper and deeper, eventually being cooked into oil.

The oil then seeps its way upward until it hits a “cap rock” and can go no further. Occasionally it does go further however. That was the case in Alberta and Venezuels where it went all the way to the surface and became tar sands.

In that same book he describes his excitement in getting a sample of Ghawar reservoir rock. To his amazement, it was made of fecal pellet limestone.

Ron Patterson

This is total crap.

So you agree about the fish shit? :-)

The fact is that while oil is made up out of algae but it is also made up out of fish shit, as in KSA, if it can be made up out of shit in one place it can be made up out of shit in another, if there was never oils from fish shit then i would be wrong but aqs the worlds largest field is shit hen so is the argument that oils can not come from anything but algae

My point and it seems to have been lost among the shit is that polar oil is very unrealistic.

I hope you got your fill of writing s***.

doug i am sorry if I offended you with my use of the common vernacular for the word feces.

It is my belief that PO and its consequences is going to be the mother of all disasters and the reason that I like TOD is that there are people from various backgrounds on this site who are trying to get our heads around this oncoming crises. I think the concept of polar oil is dangerous because it allows those in power to continue to avoid admitting to the problem.

My expertise is not that of an oil expert I am however an expert in the legal field, and I believe that I have an important point of view to offer.

My post dealt in particular with the realities of polar oil not the make up of what the origin of the oil that may or may not be there. And the fact is if oil from feces can be in one place it can be in another.

I would not have minded if the original reaction to my post also referred to the points that I made about the practicality of polar oil development.

However that was not the case, quite frankly this gave me concern. By not doing so the response was either myopic or intellectually deficient which is why i tried to reiterate my points, the only other reason would be that it was an attempt to divert attention from my main points through the use of censorship by diversion.

I find any kind of censorship to be far more offensive that use of the s word. Especially when dealing with a topic that is so important

It's not virgin ears that are burning.

It's like I used to tell my kids when they were younger. Using four letter words detracts from your argument. People hear the swear word much more than the argument. Constant use deflates the word, removing the emotion originally sought. And TOD has ideals of not being banned from any school, which I agree. The emphasis you desire can be found in much better ways.

As to your original post, sans ichthyological concerns (though as a former fish biologist, I would have to state it's all plankton originally), I would guess you believe that the Arctic will not be developed for offshore oil in time to forestall the downslope of peak. To that I concur, and add Thunderhorse 2 years ago alongside Shackleton and his unplanned voyage in pack ice.

It's not censorship. We aren't the government.

And we don't ban vulgar language here at TOD, but we do discourage it. The reason is the Internet filters used at schools, libraries, and offices. Some of them will automatically block web pages with four-letter words. So if you must use profanity, ask yourself first: is using this word so important that it's worth making all the posts on this page unreadable by many people?

''My point and it seems to have been lost among the shit is that polar oil is very unrealistic.''

The Arctic region may turn out to be Gas-Prone, rather than Oil Prone.

Maybe from Fish-Farts :-)

This thread is going right down the toilet. :-)

You mean the shitter don't you? :-)

Careful, you'll give offense to the distinguished(in more ways than one) Senator from Louisiana.

There were no dinosaurs 45 million years ago, but there were giant redwoods and something like a temperate rain forest, according the work of Dr. Hope Jahren:

Maybe those ancient forests were somehow more efficient than current flora, to be able to flourish with the solar flux of the high Arctic.

Re: JMG's Kübler-Ross analogy (A personal note, and yes, I know this isn't MySpace) —

I seem to be unable to focus on a stage, remaining among stages 3, 4, or 5. A little more than 2 years after paying attention to Hubbert's curve (after initial exposure 30 years ago), I am still sitting here in slackjawed stupidity watching the slow train wreck of civilization and trying to formulate a plan of action.

I just wanted to say "Thanks, OilDrum".

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

This is completely normal. I experience this every day with my patients (and myself in the case of PO). The process of coping is not a linear one. You have to go through the process with every new realisation of the consequences of a disease or some other negative process. Kübler-Ross herself had already described these oscillations among other grievers.

I think I will soon post how a lot of persons feel about the economic situation in the place where I live.

I have had many-a-day where I didn't have "direction" since learning the future of oil.

But, the K-R model, failed for me...I think it is the problem we face to a degree.

No denial or anger, jumped to acceptance(fact is fact).

But need to add a stage that isn't really addressed in the stages. Fear...instead of Anger maybe.

Bargaining and Depression(or lack of focus in my case, as well, some days) are just our brains trying to "solve" the problem.

I definitely don't believe Acceptance means: "It's going to be OK." (wiki).

It's NOT. Now, that's acceptance. Just how bad "It's NOT" is going to be is subject to a matter of interpretation.

I personally went through some very unpleasant situational depression after about a month of reading Drum Beat. I cured it with a lot of kayak time and trying to figure out some actions I could take. Acceptance now, and looking for what I can do locally to improve the situation ... but a lot of people are going to really hang on to the old ways and that is going to bite us - a willingness to fight for another quarter of unsustainability rather than taking our medicine will get us into that "land war in Asia" we're enjoined to avoid ...

funny - it snapped me out of a depressive funk (living in Texas can do that to people)

i just thought - damn i cannot sit around moping and feeling sorry for myself... i have a four year old with special needs that won't make it in the kind of world i suspect is coming, so it is time for me to get back on track to make sure i do everything i can to prepare for him as well as is possible
All these memories will be lost in time
like tears in rain

For the problems we are facing, the Kubler-Ross model is inadequate. Yes, we will grieve losses and many of us are already grieving. But it is more than recovering from loss. Many of us will experience loss without end and the anticipation of this causes great fear and anxiety and traumatic stress This is not part of the grief model. The Kubler Ross model really describes psychological responses to tremendous loss, but usually represented by discrete events, such as death of a loved one, or perhaps a natural disaster. These events, though catastrophic for individuals or significant, but limited populations, will likely pale in comparison to world wide devastation. Events like 911, Katrina, the tsunami of 2005, though horrible, do not dash all hope because the rest of the world remains intact and is able to send aid. When the problems become world-wide, hope is diminished. For this reason, it makes sense that denial is the response of the general population. Many people have difficulty facing the loss of loved ones--how much more difficult to face a possibly dismal future.

The Kubler-Ross model is not appropriate, because it applies to individuals who experience tragedy of the kind all humans face at one time or another, unless they are very lucky. It does not describe group or societal responses to difficulties or threat. So, for example, one might argue that the first stage, ‘denial’ isn’t appropriate. (Vested interests may deny for their own good, but that is not the denial of a child who lost a parent.) It should either read ‘awareness’ or ‘group mobilization’ or something like that?

I experienced those stages personally, but I agree that large scale system responses will be much different than that of a doomer farm kid with a place to go.

There needs to be leadership in response, the sort of leadership that can backhand Faux News and its peers, and then set us, as a society, headed a direction most will find distasteful.

And George W. Bush told us to "just keep shopping". It still boggles the mind.

Strap on your suicide vests. We need to make sure the "right" people remain standing after this is all over!

Seriously, a hundred years from now none of us will care, and for some of us (like me), 10 years from now I won't care. All these posts have a collective "We" in them implying they will all be around but they won't. All Peak Oil will do is move up the date of our collective die-off a couple of years.

From Pogo: "Don't take life so serious, it ain't no-how permanent."

At midnight in the museum hall
The fossils gathered for a ball
There were no drums or saxophones,
But just the clatter of their bones,
A rolling, rattling, carefree circus
Of mammoth polkas and mazurkas.
Pterodactyls and brontosauruses
Sang ghostly prehistoric choruses.
Amid the mastodontic wassail
I caught the eye of one small fossil.
Cheer up, sad world, he said, and winked-
It's kind of fun to be extinct.

(Ogden Nash's verses to Saint-Saens, Carnival of the Animals)

As a Zen teacher once noted: "survival not necessary"----
In fact, 99% of everything that has arisen is now extinct.
It would be a grand aberration if homo sapiens were the exception.

it's not about trying to make life permanent - it's about minimizing the suffering involved in what is left of it for those one cares about, particularly those that cannot do much to minimize it on their own - for me anyway
All these memories will be lost in time
like tears in rain

Byron King sees the "digital oil field".

The Next Trillion Barrels

For the first trillion barrels of oil that have been extracted to date, about another 2 trillion have been left behind. This is because much of the "original" oil extraction relied on natural reservoir pressures to move the oil from its place within the microscopic pores of a buried rock formation into an oil well borehole. When the natural reservoir energy was depleted, the oil stopped flowing and whatever was left behind (which was usually about two-thirds of the original oil in place) remained in the rock formation.

Over the years, the geologists and engineers developed methods to maintain reservoir pressures as high as possible for as long as possible, and this helped to increase the ultimate oil recovery. But there are more developments waiting to occur, and there is still a lot of oil "down there" in those older oil fields.

Thus, even small increases in recovery efficiency can make a significant difference in overall yield from an oil field. For example, a 1% increase in recovery factor from the stated reserves of BP could yield an additional 2 billion barrels of oil equivalent (boe). On a global basis, a relatively conservative increase of just 5% in recovery could yield an additional 300- 600 billion barrels.

These increases in recovery efficiencies will have to be achieved through the application of newer technology. Looking forward, in addition to the known technologies that are being applied on wider scales, there are several new trends that will likely prove crucial in improving oil recovery factors. These include 4-D seismic imaging (tracking the change in reservoir properties overtime) and other reservoir imaging and investigation techniques up to and including using nanotechnology down the holes.

These developments are already providing the geologists and engineers with the real-time ability to "track" hydrocarbon molecules deep underground. Combine this tracking ability with the extensive digitization of the data, and the long-term ability to store and manage the data through advanced computational techniques, and this is leading to what is called the "digital oil field."

The bottom line is that these developments are greatly enhancing the ability to optimize overall oil field management and to monitor and control reservoir depletion to nearly the last barrel.

I'd like to hear oilmanbob's take on this article. Bob?

Maybe he is busy, so I will give my tuppence worth.

Starting back in the Early 80's, a revolutionary technology was born called MWD . This gave Inclination and Azimuth. Add a down hole motor to drive the bit so that drill string could slide, add bottom hole assemblies that can change angle, then you can steer along reservoirs or to reservoirs.

This saved the North Sea from failure.

Then , 3d and 4d Seismics made control and avoiding dry holes a lot easier.

All sorts of technological advances have come along enabling old fields to keep going and obtaining a little more of the original oil in place.

But when a field starts to deplete, you cannot get it back to peak production.

You can extend its tail but you cannot get it back.

Look at pages 12 and 13 of this pdf.


See a pattern?

These developments are already providing the geologists and engineers with the real-time ability to "track" hydrocarbon molecules deep underground. Combine this tracking ability with the extensive digitization of the data, and the long-term ability to store and manage the data through advanced computational techniques, and this is leading to what is called the "digital oil field."

The bottom line is that these developments are greatly enhancing the ability to optimize overall oil field management and to monitor and control reservoir depletion to nearly the last barrel.

Well...this may be true, but there is added COST involved in these recovery techniques...aren't there. In my book, reworking old fields with new techniques would be labelled "unconventional". It just ain't as easy as it used to be when a simple straw poked in the ground was enough.

i suspect the more complex these techniques get the more you will start running into EROEI issues
All these memories will be lost in time
like tears in rain

3D seismic technology is not really new. It was first used commercially in the mid 70's.


From the PDF downloadable from this site:

"The 3D seismic technology revolution has its roots in the
1930s when the first 2D data were acquired. A key evolutionary stage was the advent of digital recording and processing techniques during the 1960s. This facilitated 2D subsurface imaging, followed in the 1970s by 3D imaging. The first commercial 3D survey was recorded in 1975 in the North Sea and was interpreted in the same year. 3D seismic data quickly evolved from a research idea to cost-effective methods that have substantially boosted the efficiency of finding and recovering hydrocarbons. The quality of modern 3D seismic data is so high in many cases, that the data are starting to be used as a research tool and this is just beginning to allow researchers to challenge certain paradigms of stratigraphy and structural geology."

sounds like one of those amateur VC pitches in Silicon Valley:

"the market we're going into is $20billion... if we can just get 5% of that we'll be a billion dollar company"

and if my auntie had balls she'd be my uncle
All these memories will be lost in time
like tears in rain

of course there is potential for redevelopment, enhanced recovery and the application of new technology, but to imply that these methods will double recovery from depleted fields is crazy talk.

Reuters had a story this morning:


BANGKOK (Reuters) - Repressive state policies and a "dysfunctional" market in military-ruled Myanmar mean 5 million people do not have enough food in what was once the rice-bowl of Asia, the World Food Program (WFP) said on Wednesday.

"In a food surplus country like Myanmar, nobody should be going hungry, but millions are," WFP Regional Director Tony Banbury said after a five-day trip planned well before last month's bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protests.

"It used to be the bread-basket of this region. It can produce a food surplus very easily, but it is now failing to provide the food that its population needs," he said, appealing for more money for WFP relief operations.

Goodness gracious! WTI at $89.45, Louisiana Sweet at $90.36!

ASPO effect at work? :)

This just in from Reuters:

U.S. crude oil futures gained $2.29 to $89.69 a barrel by 2:45 p.m. EDT (1845 GMT), its fifth record in as many trading days. London Brent crude rose $1.46 to $84.59.

"This is a market that is watching the dollar weakness very closely and as long as the dollar remains weak and stockpiles at the market's delivery point in Oklahoma remain low, this market will keep heading north," said Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch and Associates.

Though U.S. oil prices hit a nominal peak, they remain below the inflation-adjusted monthly average high of $101.70 hit in April 1980, a year after the Iranian revolution.


It's the last paragraph that amazes me: didn't we sort of establish that the 1980 high, which was no average monthly high IIRC, was under $85, inflation adjusted. How in the hell do they keep changing that figure? Will $150 be ridiculous enough for no-one to buy it (no pun intended) any more?

Reuters seems to find a new figure every day. Bloomberg published 84.73 today and yesterday, 2 days in a row with the same figure, though they state the high was Mar 81.

Two days ago Reuters had a different figure, I'm not locating the link, and now I can't recall if they called Ap 80 or Mar 81 peak.

With the dollar crashing as it is daily, and then reconverting the new high to this moment's dollar, I guess that might cause the discrepancy.

But the variation this week seems well beyond that. The crashing dollar, while partially (how much?) causing the spike in oil, sure makes it hard to determine what are actual supply issues.

AP service, in reporting over $90/barrel, is now showing a range and some explanation, not just a figure.

"Thursday was the fifth day in a row crude prices have set new records. The new record has taken the price of oil nearer, but still below, inflation-adjusted highs hit in early 1980. Depending on the adjustment, a $38 barrel of oil in 1980 would be worth $96 to more than $101 today."


I guess they are using April 1980 reference, not the March 1981 one. Will Bloomberg shift tomorrow, or keep their $84.73?

I noticed CNBC, in the Boone Pickens TOD post of today, keeps "over $100."

It all depends on whether you use the official inflation numbers (doctored downward) or the actual inflation numbers. I think that oil prices are probably at an all time peak, relative to the median income.

I fully expect Bernanke & Co. to drop the fed funds rate another .5% to 4.25 soon because of the credit crunch/housing mess. Then hold on to your hats because we will be reaching for the sky on dollar oil prices.

The Energy Outlook blog has an interesting post about this:

Nearing the Old High?

The highest posted price for WTI during the first energy crisis was $39.50/barrel from April-July 1980. ... Applying the ratio of GDP deflators to the posted price yields $87.92 in 1Q2007 dollars. If we assume that actual transactions in the peak month of 1980 were probably done at P-plus $1.00--about as much as the market would take before competitive forces pushed the postings up--then we get to $90.14. But that's still a wellhead price, so we'd need to add something for gathering, handling and transportation to arrive at a figure that equates to NYMEX WTI at Cushing, OK. Call it a buck, and we're at $91 and change.

If I've done my sums properly, we're closer to the all-time high oil price than some analysts are suggesting. The puzzle, of course, is how prices can be this high for this long without putting the economy into a deep recession, such as we saw in the previous energy crisis. Part of the answer is found by translating that July 1980 oil price based on its relative share of the 1980s GDP, compared to today's, rather than using the deflator. On that basis, oil at $80 still has a long way to go to match its equivalent of $187/barrel in 1980.

[Reposted from a couple of days ago.]

According to Bloomberg, we have already hit the all-time high:

Crude oil for November delivery rose $2.07, or 2.4 percent, to settle at $89.47 a barrel at 2:51 p.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It was a record close. Futures reached $89.78, the highest price since trading began in 1983. Futures are up 55 percent from a year ago.

On Oct. 15, prices passed the previous all-time inflation- adjusted record reached in 1981 when Iran cut oil exports. The cost of oil used by U.S. refiners averaged $37.48 a barrel in March 1981, according to the Energy Department, or $84.73 in today's dollars.

Regarding the reasons why the world economy is not in recession, personally I would say the main difference between now and the early 1980s is interest rates.

WSJ continues to publish an inflation adjusted $101+ as the number to beat.

MSM: Yawnnnn...wake me when WTI breaks $90/barrell.

Wakey, Wakey!

Ok...not WTI. But NYMEX.

Crude Oil Rises to Record $90 After Dollar Drops Against Euro


``There's still no end in sight in terms of what people are willing to pay,'' said Bob Frye, commodity broker at Access Futures & Options Trading in Woodlake, California. ``With the weakness in the dollar'' we may get to $96 if prices stay much above $90, he said.

Crude oil for November delivery reached $90.02 a barrel in after-hours electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the highest price since trading began in 1983. It was at $89.61 at 9:10 a.m. in Sydney.

The contract rose $2.07, or 2.4 percent, to $89.47 yesterday, a record close.

$100 is now within a window of a couple of weeks, IMO.

OCT 31st is now MY CALL for $100 oil. If the FED reduces rates AGAIN, the weak USD plus supply issues will guarantee we punch right through $100.

Which is the cause and which is the effect? Is the price of oil high because of the weak dollar or are is it the US's need for foreign oil weakening the dollar?

The USD$ has a small effect on the Oil price...down (updated late as the USD took a good hit today) to around 2% in the last 7 days. Oil is UP around 10% in the same time period.

So, the net effect is other factors - supply and global tensions.

The fact that the US is the greatest consumer of the stuff drives the prices as well, plus being one of the richest/most powerful consumers as well.

The effect of the US needing foreign oil drives price higher for DEMAND DESTRUCTION in small and NOW medium sized, less affluent(read poorer) nations.

Just to be sure I answered all aspects of your question:

Going forward later this month, the USD may have a bigger drop (due to many factors)...

And, it WILL be reflected in the price of oil. What that number is....?

"Officers to be fired for nuclear flight"


At least it reached higher up the food chain this time than Abu Ghraib.

Doctor Strangeglove?

Nope. Wait one year and see what those guys are doing, and then you can tell if they were serious about the punishments. Somehow, I believe that we will see much publicity about the charges, and then nothing about the punishment, because this was no mistake, but an official signal.

Here's an interesting article about the expense comparison between the middle class of 1973 and the middle class today. Energy prices aren't going to help this much.


Most of what I get from this article, which is comparing apples and oranges, is that the official inflation rate is about 100% off. Inflation adjusted taxes are now double as are medical expenses but I see those sorts of things as a more elaible relative constant and the price of foreign labor in automobiles and other manufactured goods renders them a poor indicator.

Housing has also doubled, suspiciously, so I think what we have here is a pretty good take on how much the officialdom has massaged the inflation statistic. How do you calculate inflation since 1973? While the price of cars would have you believe 10:1, the price of a coffee would give you 15:1 and so would housing, even at today's prices. That's not including the most recent printings for which the bill is still in the mail.

I have my own indices which I use for practical rather than political purposes. Every government is trying to pretend that they aren't as inflationary as they actually are, and the lie compounds over time. If today's rise in oil prices doesn't lead to inflation, look out, because the other side of the knife is a lot sharper. If I thought there was much hope in alternative energy sources in the short run, I'd suspect that the employment generated thereby would keep the economy 'growing', But the first order of business is retooling for conservation and that will be rather disorderly at best. Regardless, the waste has to go first and the current corporate setup won't like it. It takes a high transport cost to level $3 a day with $8 an hour. Plus, Acme International gets to pocket a lot of that difference at the moment.

Despite all those $200 sneakers you hear about and the long lines at Starbucks, consumers are actually spending less of their income — much less — on discretionary items like clothing, entertainment and food than their parents did. In fact, after taking care of essentials like housing and health care, today’s middle class has about half as much spending money as their parents did in the early 1970s, Warren says.

I'm thinking energy might be behind this. I suspect it's not a coincidence that the economy has never been the same since the early '70s. Since peak oil USA.

Forget SUVs, forget McMansions, the real Icon of the American appetite for "Stuff" is the ubiquitous public storage building!

a good observation
All these memories will be lost in time
like tears in rain

I was wondering today...where has Down Under gone off to? He had some interesting insights to KSA in the past.

Just wondering...if you're out there DU...drop us a line.

More peak oil in the media

The defining issue for transport planning is peak oil, not traffic congestion
by Stuart McCarthy, Brisbane Coordinator, ASPO Australia


While the current debate revolves around efforts to address traffic congestion, the underlying assumption here is that car travel will continue to be inexpensive. The peak and subsequent decline in world oil production, or “peak oil”, is invalidating this assumption, hence affordability, not traffic congestion, will soon become the defining issue for transport planning...

Dante posted this at PO.com. He's got subscriptions to news services and such, and gets articles before they're on the web.

Sluggish OPEC Oil Exports Point To Nov Shortfall - Tracker

LONDON, Oct 18, 2007 (Dow Jones Commodities News via Comtex) -- OPEC oil shipments are expected to rise by 310,000 barrels a day in the four weeks to Nov. 3 from the previous four-week period - too little to offset hefty losses expected when major oil fields in the United Arab Emirates go into planned maintenance, U.K. tanker tracker Oil Movements said Thursday.

Shipments by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting countries are seen rising to a total of 24.24 million barrels a day, compared with 23.93 million barrels a day in the four weeks to Oct. 6, said Roy Mason, the head of the consultancy.

Mason pointed to plans by The Abu Dhabi National Oil Co., or Adnoc, to do maintenance at three major offshore oil fields from November that will cut crude production by 600,000 barrels a day for almost a month.

"There is a problem about what's going to happen next month, simply because the Abu Dhabi offset accounts for most of the extra OPEC crude that would have been available," Mason said.

"Arithmetically, there isn't anything to come in November," he said.

State-run Adnoc, which pumps 95% of the U.A.E.'s oil, said in late September it would meet all its term client commitments by "advancing the majority of liftings." The planned maintenance will take place at the Upper Zakum, Lower Zakum and Umm Shaif fields.

Anyone know the effect of the UAE maintenance on UAE production and capacity, once the maintenance is completed?

Upper Zakum - Work commenced 2006 to ultimately double production to about 750,000 barrels a day.

Umm Shaif - gas injection to add 50,000 barrels a day due to commence about start 2008.

Lower Zakum - Aims to produce an additional 100,000 barrels a day by 2010 by re-injecting gas obtained from Umm Shaif.


Question: why would someone want to take down three fields for maintenance at the same time. Since your maintenance resources (i.e. workers and equipment) would be limited, wouldn't you just naturally work on one, finish it, then go onto the next? That would also, it would seem, keep up production. Maybe they all feed to a single pipeline that is the piece which is undergoing maintenance?

Shortages May Prompt Gas Price Hikes


A source inside the Moscow Interregional Oil Union said Wednesday that local fuel reserves were down to three to four days' worth, Interfax reported.

A combination of short- and longer-term factors have led to wholesale prices rising close to market prices, the source said, meaning that companies could pass on the burden to drivers.


The current shortage has been put down to freak short-term production and delivery problems.

Over the past few weeks, three major refineries, in the Moscow, Ryazan and Nizhny Novgorod regions, have gone off line in unrelated incidents.

MOL, sound familiar? except...Russia! #1 producer in the world. I wonder what their utilization numbers are like.

Leanan...please post this in tomorrow's drumbeat, if you can since it is so late (EST) that many may miss it. If you miss it I will repost.