DrumBeat: December 12, 2007

Platts: The top 10 oil industry stories of 2007

We want your help. We want you to tell us what you think were the 10 biggest oil industry news stories of 2007.

This was an eventful year in our business; really, what year isn't? But certainly, it does seem like the industry was buffeted by change and crosscurrents at a pace that exceeds most years. So we've set up a survey on Survey Monkey. You can get there by clicking this link.

EIA: OPEC Oil Production to Rise 400,000 B/D in 1Q `08

Members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will increase crude production by 400,000 barrels a day over current levels in the first three months of 2008, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said Tuesday.

Thruway truckers: Raise tolls and we'll exit

The New York State Thruway Authority's plan to raise tolls to make up for fewer-than-expected drivers could push even more traffic off the highway, according to truckers.

Lukoil May Switch to Oil, Gas Sales in Rubles Within Two Years

OAO Lukoil, Russia's largest independent oil producer, may start selling crude and gas in rubles within two years as the U.S. dollar continues to weaken.

``Selling for rubles is much more attractive,'' Deputy Chief Executive Officer Leonid Fedun said in an interview in New York today. ``Gazprom is considering introducing ruble-denominated contracts and I think that technically Russian companies can do it by 2009 if the banks are ready.''

Our view on energy mandates: States wean from fossil fuels, so why can't Washington?

Take Texas, where a modest renewable electricity requirement in 1999 helped spawn a robust wind energy industry, in part by reassuring investors that if they sank money into wind turbines, there'd be a market for them. It's a good example of the government setting a goal and private enterprise figuring out how to get there.

It's curious, then, that the same guy who signed that bill as governor of Texas — George W. Bush — is now the enemy of a plan that would impose a similar requirement across the USA.

Pete Domenici: Let the states decide

As a longtime voice on energy issues in the Senate, I have a strong record of advancing renewables such as wind, solar and biomass to meet our nation's growing energy needs. I spearheaded the largest tax credits in history to encourage the development of these technologies, and I fought for new wind farms from California to Cape Cod.

Even so, I oppose the so-called federal Renewable Electricity Standard (RES). Not only would this one-size-fits-all mandate punish those living in states without sufficient natural resources, it would likely fail to bring more renewable electricity on line.

Oil-eating bugs may unlock clean energy from crude

A tiny oil-eating bug that lives deep underground may allow the world's oil industry to unlock energy trapped in trillions of barrels of heavy crude, which is costly and dirty to produce using today's methods.

British, Canadian and Norwegian researchers have shown how microbes in oil reservoirs break down crude and release methane gas, a discovery that could spur much more environmentally friendly energy production as resources get more scarce.

Toshiba to ship new rechargeable battery

Toshiba plans to make a quick-charging new battery for forklifts, construction machinery and other industrial use.

Toshiba Corp.'s Super Charge ion Battery, to start shipping in March, can recharge to 90 percent of its full capacity in less than five minutes, Toshiba spokeswoman Hiroko Mochida said.

We Are What We Eat

When we fully realize or finally admit the effects of climate change, peak oil, and globalized food as our primary source of food, food from international sources will be more expensive than local food. How do we get back to where local food is normal and affordable, and food from far away is exotic and truly expensive? We have successfully wiped out most of the farms and do not have many farmers left. I can only hope that we can start supporting our local farmers-real support, not the tokenistic once in a while local treat. We must face the reality that urban sprawl must give way to farmland. We must realize that we cannot eat beef every day, but, at least when we do it won't kill us. This will involve spending more of our money, but soon the amount we spend on food will feel normal and not expensive. Americans pay less per capita than anyone else in the world for food.

IEA to blame for $100 oil spike - Groppe

When the oil price soared to over $99 per barrel earlier this year, the cause was not surging demand, nor speculation, nor even impending peak oil, but a forecasting error by the International Energy Agency. That’s according to a presentation by veteran analyst Henry Groppe, one of the most original thinkers in the oil patch.

Italy's truck drivers defy back-to-work order and continue strike

Italy's truck drivers defied a government order and continued to strike Wednesday, blocking highways and borders in a protest that idled factories, left gasoline pumps dry and grocery shelves bare.

Oil spill in North Sea off Norway

A large spill of crude oil has been observed in the North Sea off Norway, Norwegian officials say.

It is the second largest spill in the country's history, the Norwegian Petroleum Safety Authority (PSA) said in a statement.

Chile: Uncertain Energy Landscape

According to the CNE, the Chilean National Energy Commission, more than half of all electric energy consumed in that country in 2003 was generated by electrical power plants fed by natural gas. That situation only increased Chile’s dependence on Argentina, Chile’s only provider of hydrocarbons. There was no way to reverse that state of affairs, and things became even more troubling starting in 2004.

How Should We Be Thinking About Urbanization? A Freakonomics Quorum

Urbanization has been climbing steadily of late, with more than half of the world’s population now living in cities. Given the economic, sociological, political, and environmental ramifications, how should we be thinking about this? We gathered a quorum of smart thinkers on this subject — James Howard Kunstler, Edward Glaeser, Robert Bruegmann, Dolores Hayden, and Alan Berube — and posed to them the following questions...

DVD picks: ‘Crude Awakening’ and ‘Jesus Camp’

Are believers in peak oil a lunatic fringe? Not according to Basil Gelpke and Ray McCormack’s compelling and disturbing Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash, which provides further evidence that we are depleting the world’s oil supplies at an unsustainable rate.

Hungers global hotspots: 11 December 2007

Countries where violence persists and populations live in fear. People in Hunger's Global Hotspots don't know what tomorrow will bring and they often have to rely on WFP for their next meal.

Thailand: Cost of living is set to soar

Consumers will be burdened with a higher cost of living next year as the domino effect of increasing demand for alternative fuel crops and skyrocketing oil prices push up food prices 10-30 per cent.

Questions And Concerns About The Ice

Another concern for some has been gasoline. Long lines formed around many gas pumps on Tuesday. QuikTrip says there is no supply shortage of gasoline, but you may still have to wait in line. Residents are advised to fill up before heading out of town.

The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority says fuel services are very limited on both the Turner and Will Rogers. Also diesel supplies are running short. Many stations are out. A QuikTrip spokesperson says that situation should be resolved soon.

A long, cold winter in store for the poor

Virtually everyone is shuddering this year at the high cost of home heating oil.

Worst off are low-income families, who face heating-oil prices anywhere from 10 to 22 percent higher than last winter with less assistance from the federally funded Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program. While the Bush administration falls down on the nation's moral responsibility to care for its poor and vulnerable, a few local souls are striving to make sure no families go without heat this winter.

South Africa: Blackouts killing business, owners complain

While Eskom says fewer rolling blackouts are expected on Wednesday, frustrated shopowners warn that even "one power failure is more than enough" and outages are "killing businesses".

Ottawa thwarts nuclear watchdog

Nuclear Safety Commission warns of possibility of serious accident at Chalk River, but PM says there's no safety issue in restarting reactor.

Dutch to deny palm subsidies until green levels met

The Netherlands warned on Monday it will not renew subsidies for palm-based biofuel until global producers meet its environmental requirements.

Malaysia May Revoke Biofuel Permits as Palm Oil Rises

Malaysia, the second-biggest palm oil producer, may revoke some licenses to produce biofuel from the commodity as the surging price of the raw material makes the fuel too expensive to make, a minister said.

Mideast missing link in global climate talks

It’s not that the Middle East produces the bulk of the oil being burnt globally. But oil demand there is growing at a faster clip than nearly every other region, while fuel efficiency in such cities as Tehran - where gasoline costs just 38 cents a gallon at the pump - simply hasn’t caught on.

This Earth Ain't Big Enough for the Both of Us

We're locked in an existential game of "chicken" with China, each nation daring the other not to take its foot off the gas pedal as we careen towards catastrophe. We don't want to change the way we live, and the Chinese want to live the way we do, too.

Pemex Daily Output May Drop by 1 Million Barrels in Nine Years

Petroleos Mexicanos, the biggest Latin American oil producer, may face a production drop of about 1 million barrels a day by 2016 if drilling equipment remains scarce and lawmakers fail to ease rules on the company.

Energy Minister Georgina Kessel said the government has a worst-case scenario of daily production at Pemex, the third- largest oil exporter to the U.S., falling to 2.1 million barrels in nine years from 3.1 million. In a best-case scenario, which includes law changes and stepped-up drilling in deepwater fields, Pemex may boost daily output to 3.4 million barrels, Kessel said in a Mexico City speech.

Offshore Riches

The world gets about one-third of its daily oil supply from offshore wells. Over the next decade, this share should grow even larger. Dr. Michael Smith, CEO of EnergyFiles Ltd., has published the most comprehensive research I’ve seen on the world oil supply situation.

Iran Oil Bourse to start work soon: official

Head of Oil Pension Fund Tuesday announced that oil and economy ministers were holding talks on the setup of Oil Bourse and the center would become operational in the near future.

Lebanese Hezbollah supporters protest electricity outage

Lebanon's ongoing power outages on Monday sparked protests in Beirut's southern suburbs, which is mostly inhabited by Hezbollah followers and where daily rolling power outages have reached up to 20 hours in some areas.

The protestors burned tyres and blocked roads leading to the capital's southern suburbs, calling on the leaders to stop 'the political bickering and help the people of Lebanon.'

China: Cities told to keep food, oil reserves

The central government Tuesday instructed 36 major cities to each maintain a minimum 10-day reserve of food and cooking oil supplies, as part of its measures to ensure market stability during the current period of rising food prices.

Oil-producers adamantly refuse calls for emission reduction - Kuwait

Members of OPEC and OAPEC are adamantly refusing all calls for reducing gas emission partly because of forecast impact on their national economies, said Kuwaiti Oil Undersecretary Abbas Naqi on Tuesday.

“Peak Oil” piques state worker interest

A group of state workers are hosting a presentation on “Peak Oil” tomorrow, focusing on the impact of rising gasoline costs on state services.

Exxon Plans Ocean LNG Terminal

Exxon Mobil says it wants to build a floating liquefied natural gas receiving terminal off the coast of New Jersey that would ease the supply of natural gas to that state and neighboring New York.

European Solar Power Keeps Spending

Demand for alternative energy is being driven by the bleak outlook for non-renewable fuel supplies such as oil. Fears of tightening supplies, peak oil, energy dependence and of limitless demand from emerging titans like China have all contributed to the search for more reliable alternatives.

Korea's Oil Spill Still Spreading

Five days into the disaster, the oil slick is still spreading. As of Tuesday, the spill had contaminated an estimated 24 miles (38km) of coastline, damaging several thousand hectares of aquatic farmland and a handful of scenic beaches. And as the damage spreads, so does the blame: Korean media and environmentalists now argue that the disaster could have been mitigated had the government responded more effectively.

UN chief demands breakthrough at climate talks

Talks on halting the juggernaut of climate change swung into top gear here Wednesday with a blunt warning from UN chief Ban Ki-moon that the world was counting on a breakthrough.

Gore: US blocking climate talks progress

Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore on Wednesday accused the U.S. of blocking progress at U.N. climate talks in Bali but said a breakthrough was possible in the final days of the conference.

"Some of the reports are worrisome, but I know from experience ... that when breakthroughs do occur, they usually happen in the last 48 hours," Gore told reporters in Sweden. "I hope there will be a change on the part of some countries, including most importantly my own, the United States."

Paying other nations to be green

The fight against global warming has given a new boost to a long-stymied environmental cause: saving the rain forests.

Under a scenario that has gained widespread support, developing countries would be paid billions of dollars a year to not raze their trees.

Delegates Weaken Deforestation Proposal as U.S. Balks

Climate-change treaty negotiators weakened a draft proposal to reward developing nations for preserving forests with potentially tradable emissions credits as the U.S. and Brazil balked at such measures.

'Crunch time' for climate change

For a moment this week, negotiators at this year's round of UN climate talks in Bali were able to pause and contemplate the treaty, which their forerunners' compiled in the 1997 Kyoto winter.

Expert links stockpiling to oil price

The Bush administration's decision to add more oil to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve has added as much as 10 percent to the price of crude, an oil consultant told a Senate panel Tuesday.

"The rise in light, sweet crude prices to almost $100 a barrel in November came about because the U.S. Department of Energy has been removing a significant share of the daily volume of this type of crude from the market for storage in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve," said Philip Verleger of Aspen, Colo.-based PKVerleger.

Peak Oil, At Our Door

Whether one calls it a peak or a plateau, the result may be the same—with demand for oil rising (due to booming economies like China and India); available ‘giant fields’ dwindling; the value of the dollar falling; economic resource nationalism (in places like OPEC—member nations: Iran, Venezuela, Nigeria, and Ecuador) growing; tensions rising between America and the world’s current largest oil producer, Russia and OPEC nations in no hurry to increase oil production in time to address heating oil supply concerns going into winter—the American economy is facing some hard times as soon as next year.

EIA: Oil to Average $85 a Barrel in 2008

Oil prices are expected to jump more than 18 percent per barrel in 2008 as speculators continue flocking to markets with tighter supplies and increased demand, the head of the Energy Department's forecasting arm told lawmakers Tuesday.

Russian navy distrupts access to North Sea oilfields

Norwegian oil and gas producer StatoilHydro STL.OL has suspended helicopter flights to some of its main fields in the North Sea due to Russian navy exercises in nearby international waters, the company said on Tuesday.

StatoilHydro, one of Europe's biggest oil groups, said the disruptions would not affect production levels at the fields, including the Troll field -- the biggest production area of offshore Norway.

ConocoPhillips reveals its big oilsands ambitions

ConocoPhillips said Tuesday it aims to produce one million barrels a day from Canada's oilsands - the most ambitious goal yet of any player in the unconventional deposits.

How risky is the new era of nuclear power?

Nearly two years ago, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission gave the operator of the Indian Point nuclear plant a year to add backup power supplies to the plant's emergency warning sirens. Entergy paid a $130,000 government fine in April — but still hasn't done the work at the plant 24 miles north of New York City.

Can the Planet Be Saved in Bali?

More so than many other developing nations, India views climate change through a political position that prioritizes the responsibility of the rich countries, and rejects mandatory cuts on countries just beginning to industrialize. Their argument is based on population size: Even years from now, when China and India will be emitting much of the world's carbon gas, the average Chinese or Indian will still be responsible for far less global-warming pollution than the average Westerner. The burden of restrictions, they argue, should therefore be shouldered first in the industrialized West.

Poor hit hardest by climate change

Surrounded by rising seas and short of water, the glitzy city state of Singapore has built one of the world's largest desalination plants and is paying Dutch experts tens of millions of dollars to devise ways to protect their island.

Bangladesh, meanwhile, is digging out from a cyclone that killed at least 3,200 and left millions homeless. The impoverished country wants to build up its coastlines to ward off the potentially devastating impacts of global warming, but has no money.

Arctic summers ice-free 'by 2013'

Scientists in the US have presented one of the most dramatic forecasts yet for the disappearance of Arctic sea ice.

Their latest modelling studies indicate northern polar waters could be ice-free in summers within just 5-6 years.

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

Oil focus shifts eastward

"We have no plans at all to raise royalties," said Mr. Boyd, a grain farmer from Eston, a town in west-central Saskatchewan where there are large heavy oil operations. "We feel that Saskatchewan has tremendous advantages now. We think that Saskatchewan is the place to be in terms of energy development immediately and into the future."

It's true that Saskatchewan has less potential as an oil producer than Alberta. Saskatchewan produces 425,000 barrels a day, all conventional oil, while Alberta yields 1.9 million b/d, including conventional oil and oilsands.

But when only conventional oil production is taken into account, Saskatchewan is a close second to Alberta, which yields 540,000 b/d. That's one of the areas most penalized by Alberta's new royalty terms, making it vulnerable to a flight of capital.

Besides, Saskatchewan's industry-friendly message is sure to resonate in the Canadian oil community, where scores of leaders, including Murray Edwards, Canada's top oil entrepreneur, are from Saskatchewan.

While many upset with Mr. Stelmach's royalty strategy feel they have nowhere to go politically (both the provincial Liberals and NDP opposition parties in Alberta are advocating even more punitive measures against the sector), they are still making a political statement by moving capital to Saskatchewan. Already, land sales and drilling activity in the province are booming, bolstered by the discovery of the Bakken play and oilsands deposits, while they have collapsed in Alberta.

With saskatchewan now in the oil business big time as well as Alberta will Canada become the Saudi Arabia of the north?

Many north of the American border are worried about Canada's reputation at the Bali Conference.


"International officials and experts have named Canada the worst country in the world on climate change as a result of PM Harper’s climate plan: wreck any chance of an international agreement being reached at the UN summit in Bali this week."

The only way Canada could ever hope to return to pre-Kyoto CO2 emission levels is to shut down the Athabaska Tar Sands. Given the 1.4 million barrels a day production in Alberta and Canada's role as the US biggest foreign supplier, fat chance of that happening.

Now Saskatchewan is thrown into the mix.

Canadians don't have to worry about their reputation. In this distorted world of oil dependency and continuous economic growth, governments of any stripe will prostitute themselves for the next quick fix. All I can say to concerned citizens, suck it up princess.

As the Concerned Citizens of Canada (CCC's) look to the North
and wonder how long the Polar Bear will be sharing the planet.

""So given that fact, you can argue that may be our projection of 2013 is already too conservative."

Per Leanan's BBC Article above.

Once again, the Tar Sands are negative EROEI.

Just like BioFuels.

CCC's will likely win the argument but the dilemma facing both PO and climate change is human nature and the current ecomonic system.

It's not easy being green. And no eye-on-the-next-election consumer-driven democratic government is going to risk the short term wrath of its electorate to hit people in the pocket books.

Fort McMurray, a town of 70,000 + people and growing, now generates 8% of Canada's GDP.

Yes, Tar Sands, like BioFuels, are negative EROEI. But at $85 - $99 /barrel oil, who cares? There are a lot of jobs and paycheques reliant on this bonanza.

Polar bears don't vote. They don't buy. They don't sell to the Americans. Three strikes you're out in this strangely ordered world.

And now ConocoPhillips is looking to extract another million barrels / day from this boreal treasure trove.

If I was looking for arctic ice cubes, I would get them now while supplies last. 2013 as a meltdown deadline is a long long way to go.

Yes. If that were the only deadline.

But it's just one of many "problems" exacerbating
the positive feedback loop.

A loop that takes us further away from the Holocene.

It used to be tough being a Dirty Hippy.

Maybe I should think about getting a pin striped suit
now to stay in Contrarian mode.


"Here we go again…. too little, too late and not paying attention enough to the fact that what we are “measuring” took decades to reveal itself.

“That feedback is the key to why the models predict that the Arctic warming is going to be faster,” Zwally said. “It’s getting even worse than the models predicted.”


Pope Benedict XVI has launched a surprise attack on climate change prophets of doom, warning them that any solutions to global warming must be based on firm evidence and not on dubious ideology.

The leader of more than a billion Roman Catholics suggested that fears over man-made emissions melting the ice caps and causing a wave of unprecedented disasters were nothing more than scare-mongering.

The German-born Pontiff said that while some concerns may be valid it was vital that the international community based its policies on science rather than the dogma of the environmentalist movement.


Good to see the Catholic Church hasn't changed through the centuries.

From Wikipedia:

By 1616 the attacks on Galileo had reached a head, and he went to Rome to try to persuade the Church authorities not to ban his ideas. In the end, Cardinal Bellarmine, acting on directives from the Inquisition, delivered him an order not to "hold or defend" the idea that the Earth moves and the Sun stands still at the centre.

I'm not one to defend the Pope, but I think that is a hatchet job by an anti-AGW paper. They are attempting to spin the pope as being a denier, although he has previously said acting on GW is a "moral obligation".

In fact, he may have been criticising deniers in his speech. This Pope is perhaps too circumspect and is easily misinterpreted, he had trouble before with "words taken out of context", and had to do a lot of smoothing over. He needs to get the hang of soundbites...

In all fairness to the pope, he's not saying anything that most of us haven't said ourselves: base findings on evidence, don't base evidence on 'a priori' conclusions.

"Prudence does not mean failing to accept responsibilities and postponing decisions; it means being committed to making joint decisions after pondering responsibly the road to be taken."

Some people get their knickers in a knot whenever the pope says anything. Chill folks.

It is helpful at times to be reminded that within any discussion, agendas will be at work, hyperbole will be used to defend entrenced positions, charlatans and self-learned experts will add their two cents worth, and the picture that emerges may be distorted and incomplete. Intelligence means shifting beyond shrill rhetoric and ideological opinion to grasp, even if half-blindly, what makes sense.

In the discussion on climate change, five significant questions frame the debate:
1) how is the world's climate changing? (the question "if" is mute since climate is always changing)
2) should we be worried about these changes?
3) are human beings a factor in this present change?
4) how big is the human factor in the change? and,
5) can anything be done about it?

Where I hold out little hope is in the last question. I agree with an assessment made elsewhere, we humans rank right up there with yeast when it comes to making smart choices.

Sometimes problems don't have solutions. They simply have to be endured.

5) can anything be done about it?

Where I hold out little hope is in the last question.

is that a "can" or a "will" you have little hope for? if there is a will then there is something we can do about it.

Just wait to see when Fuckabee gets elected and joins the club..

Actions speak louder than words...

Vatican agrees to a carbon offset scheme
By Elisabeth Rosenthal Published: September 3, 2007

TISZAKESZI, Hungary: This summer the cardinals at the Vatican accepted an unusual donation from a Hungarian start-up called Klimafa: The company said it would plant trees to restore an ancient forest on a denuded island by the Tizsa River to offset the Vatican's carbon emissions.

The young trees, on a 15-hectare, or 37-acre, tract of land that will be renamed the "Vatican Climate Forest" will in theory absorb as much carbon dioxide as the Vatican makes through its various activities in 2007: driving cars, heating offices, lighting St. Peters Basilica at night.

In so doing, the Vatican announced, it would become the world's first carbon-neutral state.

"As the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, recently stated, the international community needs to respect and encourage a 'green culture,' " said Cardinal Paul Poupard, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture, who took part in a ceremony marking the event at the Vatican. "The Book of Genesis tell us of a beginning in which God placed man as guardian over the earth to make it fruitful."
The Vatican, which has recently made an effort to go green on its own by installing solar panels, sought to set an example by offsetting its carbon emissions.

Fort McMurray, a town of 70,000 + people and growing, now generates 8% of Canada's GDP.

Which would be impressive, if it weren't laughably wrong:

  • Canada's GDP is $1.5T. 8% of that is $120B.
  • All oil sands operations, of which Ft. McMurray is only a part, produce about 1Mbbl/d, or about 400Mbbl per year.
  • $120B / 400Mbbl = $300/bbl for syncrude and bitumen. In reality, those sell for a discount (large discount for bitumen) to WTI, giving an average price of under $60/bbl over the course of 2007.

Accordingly, all oil sands, from production to refining, represent 1.5% of Canada's GDP, meaning Ft. McMurray's share is likely under 1%.

So you're off by about an order of magnitude. Is it that hard to fact-check before making wild claims?

Yikes! I stand corrected.

Though I think my point remains valid. Canadian political leadership is not likely to let climate change interfere with the Alberta oil boom. Too much at stake with oil security and economic prosperity.

And polar bears still don't vote, don't buy, and don't sell anything to the Americans.

What would be interesting is to simply take these numbers and figure Per Capita GDP for those 70,000 inhabitants(or more in the future) based on projected oil-sands production. Versus the rest of the Canadian population.

I heard Robert Redford, Nicole Kidman, and Donald Trump are buying up luxury real-estate in the area. Could be the next Boca Raton.

I think oil-sands production is slated for 3.5 million barrels in ten or twenty years.

In the short run, I haven't seen much upside to my tar sands pure-play stock purchses.

However, there is also the massive expenditures to expand oil sands production. Construction is also GDP.

But I doubt the 8% figure as well. Today. Wait till 2015 :-)


According to the latest Coca-Cola commercial, Polar Bears and Penguins get along marvelously. Since the Antarctic isn't melting down nearly so much, let's just relocate them there!


Once again, the Tar Sands are negative EROEI.

Post some real credible scientific numbers that show that? I call BS. In addition read up on the THAI method on the oil sands, its gonna send the EROEI through the roof.

FYI, still calling for depression by Christmas?

Edited by Leanan to fix bad HTML. Dude, don't use HTML if you don't know how.

I agree on this one - if the tar sands were purely transformational they wouldn't be worked as they are. EROI stinks, to be sure, but it is positive.

And the jury is out on THAI - sounds really cool, but previous similar efforts have had trouble controlling the process. I'm hopeful, but we have to see long term proof that it works as well as has been advertised.

Postive, negative - If only the tar-sands equation could be reduced to a single scalar. What value is pure, fresh water?
If it weren't for all that stranded gas, it wouldn't be happening, would it?

antidoomer - it's Depression for a lot of people now.

Of course, people have fallen on hard times all throughout history in the best of times, but we both know Mcgonanow was referring to this kind of depression:


That's what I mean. That's what we're starting into. Just sit tight and wait, it will take serious SSRIs to keep doped up enough to deny it in the first quarter of 2008.

fleam, IMO you've touched on something important. I think it's possible that one reason the US and OECD countries stopped worrying about risk in the 2000's was the widespread availability of anti-depressant/anxiolytic drugs. IMO the drug companies were an important part of the "don't worry, be happy" machine.

If I'm right, once PO and economic contraction reduce the number of anti-depressants available to the investing class, a lotta people are gonna FREAK.

Errol in Miami

In 20 years I suspect historians (if we have enough civilization left to have historians then) will place the start of the Greater Depression in the first quarter of 2001. If you properly account for inflation, the US economy has only had one quarter (1Q04) with positive GDP growth, and growth that quarter was anemic at less than 0.5%. To follow the numbers go to http://www.shadowstats.com/cgi-bin/sgs/data.

Now, it hasn't felt like a depression all that time, but I agree wtih Antidoomer we shouldn't just go on feelings. By Antidoomer's Wikipedia link, a recession is 2 negative quarters in a row. I think 27 negative quarters out of 28 counts technically as a depression.

Greenspan started lowering rates aggressively in 1Q01, because unlike the happy talk and fudged numbers of the US government & the financial industry, he knew what was happening and was trying to address it. Unfortunately for us & posterity, he chose to create a consumer debt-driven spending bubble that allowed us to spend like mad despite being in a depression. Wars don't get fought when the economy is bad, and Republicans do need to win elections.

Now the jig is up. The debt bubble has popped like a festering boil and consumer spending (70% of the economy) is going down the tubes. Creating more debt (the only solution the Fed has, really) cannot fix a debt crisis. It can only draw it out, while making the final reckoning even worse.

I think to be an antidoomer these days you really have to drink the happy-talk/fudged-numbers coolaid the government is passing out. In reality, it's worse than you think, and it's going to get worse even than that.

I'm not calling it the Greater Depression, I'm calling it the Great Decline. Slower, but more inexorable, and much longer, with no return to growth at the end.

To follow the numbers go to http://www.shadowstats.com/cgi-bin/sgs/data.

Unfortunately, his numbers don't track at all well with reality.

Median wage - what the average guy gets paid - has gone up only about 10% in the last 15 years. If the shadowstats guy is right, Joe Average's purchasing power is only 60% of what it was in the early 90s, even accounting for the higher rate of borrowing.

If people lose 40% of their purchasing power, we'd expect them to spend a little less on necessities (food, housing, clothes, etc.) and much less on luxuries; instead, we find that the proportion spent on food has been slowly dropping in the US, and that overall spending by category is practically unchanged over the last 15 years.

Official government statistics are that Joe Average has seen his purchasing power increase by about 10%. Shadowstats would tell us that Joe's purchasing power has dropped by 40%, even with higher borrowing.

Joe's spending habits are consistent with slightly higher wealth.

Reality doesn't agree with the shadowstats guy, no matter how much he tells you what you want to hear.

Can you please site the stats/graphs you are referencing - it would be nice to know what you are basing your analysis on...

Can you please site the stats/graphs you are referencing - it would be nice to know what you are basing your analysis on...

Just his own page on inflation ("consumer price index"): http://www.shadowstats.com/cgi-bin/sgs/article/id=343

"Inflation, as reported by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is understated by roughly 7% per year."

"In particular, changes made in CPI methodology...have reduced current social security payments by roughly half from where they would have been otherwise."

i.e., he claims inflation is 100% higher than what's stated.

Median income information is from here via here.

I can't find the spending patterns link I used last time, but this one gives %ile data for the US, and is pretty similar - proportion spent on food declined from 17% in 1984 to 15% in 2003.

All I'm doing is taking his inflation number and applying it to the census data on income. If he says the CPI is twice what the government says it is. That means each dollar - after being adjusted for government levels of inflation - can buy only half of what the government says it can. That means the 10% increase in (government-inflation-adjusted) income the census reports, plus the 7% extra from lower rates of saving, would give the median earner only 60% of the purchasing power he had in ~1990.

Please, be my guest to check any of my numbers or references. All I'm doing is making explicit the claim his numbers implicitly make - that average Americans can afford barely more than half what they could 15-20 years ago.

Do you take into account the increase in personal debt? How much of today's spending power is based on getting into debt?

PDF warning

Do you take into account the increase in personal debt?

Yes - that's "the 7% extra from lower rates of saving" I referred to.

Basically, saving rates have fallen over that span from ~5% to ~-2%, which means people are spending ~7% more of their income than they were before. You can see the same thing in your link - US rates of income expenditure have risen from ~88% in the late 80s to ~95% now.

and do you have some real credible scientific numbers that thai will even work ? a pilot project does not a regional process prove.

Of course they're negative EROEI.

The Athabaska River is being destroyed.

The NatGas of Alberta is being used up in the Tar Sands.

The N third of Alberta is being turned into Moonscape.

The word ECOnomy comes from Eco-the Environment.

Does anyone here imagine that any monies will be spent to restore anything in N Alberta?

That right there shows the Negative EROEI.

As we leave Moonscape wherever we "need" a National Sacrifice Area we seal our fate.

Brazil's just as bad Canada, so do't feel slighted here.


Anyone interested in the details:


So does this put off peak oil? Likely hyped up as such.

Richard Wakefield


Someone else recently mentioned a permeability of 0.04 millidarcies. Whether that was for only a specfic region or in general for the entire system, I know not!

I was thinking that the ultratight rock in the Bakken play (good oil BTW) might seep out of the rocks for centuries.

Drill a well, frac it, get a gush of near well bore oil, and then just sit back and get a stripper well (say half dozen barrels/day) for L*O*N*G time. For the PetE's out there, is that reasonable ?



the bakken has been productive in the williston basin for at least 30 yrs, starting about the mid '80's the play was drilled using horizontal wells, the initial idea being to intersect as many vertical fractures as possible. that worked to an extent but the main technological improvement has been massive fracturing of the horizontal well.

a typical bakken well (vertical or horizontal) experiences a steep initial decline, followed by a long steady decline at a much lower rate.

in the late '80 burlington resources did an extensive study of the economics of horizontal drilling in the bakken. i am sure this paper is archived in the spe somewhere. at that time, given the low oil price, the play was only economical for companies like burlington who already owned the minerals.

much has changed, including the price of oil and improvements in technology.

a similar play is developing in the powder river and big horn basin in the mowry shale.

and to answer the original poster's question, imo there is a lot of oil to be produced in these and similar plays, unfortunately too little too late to avert po.

Alan, I had an exchange with a very Bakken experienced oilfield geologist on FreeRepublic.

What he told me was that the play as ElwoodElmore described is based on very long laterals or up to mile long horizontal deviations intersecting natural factures, but mostly in the sandy / carbonate stringers intervals between the two major shale layers that define the formation. Keeping out of the heart of the shale was in his opinion critical.

He stated that the Bakken's shales typically do not fluoresce under black light, but do stream at least some oil when broken and submerged in solvent. He made no mention of gas [and I did not follow up] but it did not sound like the wells were making large volumes of gas, which left me wondering what moves the oil to the wellbore. Gravity won't get you much.

That discussion was about a article on the high level of drilling activity around the town of Parsal [spelling] which amounted to half the rigs currently drilling in North Dakota.

The well that was the center of interest was estimated to have reserves of 700,000 barrels and an initial flow rate of 2,000 barrels per day but that for 640 acre spacing so only one well per square mile. And at 700,000 barrels and an initial of 2,000 the initial flush production must be a large percentage of the ultimate recovery.

There are a lot of square miles of this prospect, but I wonder how much of it is anything like the area around Parsal.

Trying to frac a mile of hole??? My guess is that the operators are relying on the previously mentioned natural fracturing, and various natural other porosity / permiability streaks. Time [and a lot of investment] will tell.

well, if you are really interested in hydraulic fracturing technology in the bakken, the denver section of spe has presented some papers, pttc has done a workshop on the subject. i was not able to cut and paste a link, but these results are from a google search "bakken hydraulic fracturing"

and i'm no expert on the subject, but the mile of hole is not all fractured at once, relying on stage techniques ( ball sealers, rock salt, benzoic acid flakes or fine mesh sand as a diverter). since the induced fractures propagate vertically, a 30 ' frac height is not really a problem.

Thanks. I will take a look.

That EIA price prediction is pretty interesting (though blaming speculators for the price when there are "tighter supplies and increased demand" is bizarre).

"blaming speculators"?

The EIA are one of the few groups specifically saying speculators are NOT the cause of increased oil costs, including in this article.

"In other words, high oil prices are likely to be increasing participation by non-commercial traders, rather than the other way around."

He goes on to say increased volatility from speculators, but that's a different matter.


This business about light sweet crude being pushed to $100 by taking away 0.3% for the SPR - how is it that journalists print this bunk without bothering to think it through? Other than (as the EIA pointed out) shut-in's of more than this (eg: Nigeria) not causing similar increases, 0.3% is probably less than three months worth of natural demand growth - ie: background noise.

Is Philip Verleger, oil economist and president of consulting firm PK Verleger a shill, or just another oil trader of typical intelligence?

Philip Verleger is an Oil Kook, and makes a brisk trade in hyperbolic statements. He will sometimes make calls for Oil at 30 dollars lower from current prices, or 30+ dollars higher from current prices, within the span of 90 days.

From my blog post on Verleger last February:

What caught my eye in January, however, was a quote by long-time Oil Market observer and
economist Philip K. Verleger. Mr. Verleger was interviewed in the Wall Street Journal during
the media blitz about President Bush's energy plan, in aftermath of the State of the Union
speech. Mr. Verleger is known for making headline-grabbing quotes. In fact, Laszlo Birinyi of
Birinyi Associates noted late last year, that Mr. Verleger was calling for 100.00 dollar oil
in the Summer, only to be cautioning just 60 days later, that oil could fall to as low as
15.00, at least temporarily. Birinyi wrote "With his 15.00 dollar call today, it seems possible
that Verleger's strategy might be to choose a dramatic landmark far in the direction of
whichever horizon the market appears headed toward."

I challenged Verleger on his outrageous claims for substitution of biofuels for Oil last year, contacting him by email. He stood his ground. (too bad for him).

We received more of the unique, Verleger style on 19 January, when he commented
on how much oil could be displaced by alternative fuels, in the years ahead. Given that both
EIA Washington and IEA Paris are forecasting at minimum rises of 1.5% in oil demand for 2007
and 2008--and that's in an 85 Mb/day global liquids market, I was surprised to see Mr.
Verleger's answer. Essentially he said all the new growth in demand for oil would be
satisfied by alternative fuels, leaving demand for oil flat, over the next 2-3 years.

"Some analysts see larger, game-changing forces in motion. One is the rise of nonoil transport
fuels. "Last year was a tipping point in a lot of ways," says Philip Verleger Jr., an oil
economist who heads PK Verleger LLC. "Biofuels will take bigger and bigger bites out of
petroleum demand," Mr. Verleger said, noting climate-change and security concerns relating
to the supply and use of petroleum. "Alternate fuels will take up all the growth, leaving
petroleum demand static in the next two or three years."

Read my blog post from February 2006 on Verleger here:

There is an entire generation of Oil Experts who are now redundant and are lost in the old paradigm. It's everyone from Verleger, to Peter Beutel to Michael Lynch to Rothman at ISI.

As a trader and investor all I can say is: who could ask for anything more?



And they get rewarded for it.

Don't let the DJIA go negative today PPT-

(The Plunger Protection Team (PPT) refers to the cabal consisting of among others secretary of the Treasury, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, the chairman of the SEC and the chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Officially known as The Working Group on Financial Markets, it was created by Ronald Reagan to prevent a repeat of the Wall Street meltdown of October 1987.)

Oil prices are expected to jump more than 18 percent per barrel in 2008 as speculators continue flocking to markets ...


Sounds like tying jumping oil prices to speculators to me, though I do recnognize the dangers of taking quotes out of context. If the EIA gives more context in the full article, then that certainly mitigates the statement.

SPR is being filled at the rate of 50,000 barrels per day!

This is 0.06% not 0.3% So the SPR is being filled with 1/1600 of the world's available oil and that drives the price up 20% ?????

Journalism at its worst. Too bad the major media outlets have so many reporters that can't think, they just repeat crap that some ignorant "spokeperson" spews out. Sad.

The Latest IPM (International Petroleum Monthly) is just out from EIA Washington. Release came at about 10:15AM New York Time.

Just looking quickly, Crude Oil Only was revised down very slightly for the Total 2006 figure.

Staying with the Crude Oil Only category, most months in 2007 have been updated with small revisions: my quick glance tells me it's a net No Change, to perhaps a small net downward revision so far, for 2007.

Finally, as everyone wants to know whether these latest Crude Oil Only months will top the all time high of MAY 2005: The answer is No. SEP 2007 at 73,499 Mb/day did not topple May 2005.

Russian production continues higher.

My front page: http://www.gregor.us/

Best to all,


Rounding off to the nearest 0.1 mbpd, Russian production was at 9.5 mbpd in September, the same as October, 2006. Since October, 2006, Russian production has been in a 9.3 to 9.5 mbpd range.

Despite higher production in 2006, the EIA showed a small decline in net Russian exports in 2006. We shall see what happens in 2007, but it's a pretty good bet that net exports have been trending down since late 2006. (Note that Russian news bulletins about higher gross oil exports refer to year to date comparisons, not recent monthly comparisons).

Anyone know to what extent Russia imports refined petroleum products?

Excerpt from an e-mail from a European correspondent:

Dec. 3 (Bloomberg) -- Russia, the world's second-largest oil supplier, cut production 0.9 percent last month to the lowest level since May as the eight largest producers all reported lower output, the Energy Ministry said.

Russia's older oil fields require increased investment to maintain output as they age. Large new fields such as OAO Rosneft's Vankor and OAO Lukoil's Yuzhno-Khylchuyuskoye won't start producing before next year. Lukoil's billionaire chief executive officer, Vagit Alekperov, and other executives have urged the government to cut export and extraction taxes to encourage spending.

Russia exported 4.34 million barrels a day in November through OAO Transneft, the state pipeline monopoly, a decline of 2.3 percent from 4.44 million a day in October, according to CDU TEK. . .

JoeWP at PO.com made it into a pretty graph:

Up, but the May 2005 peak stands.

Yes, very pretty.

Variable Time of Day Electricity Pricing with eMail Notification

Trial in Washington DC. Perfect for pricing wind power IMO.


Best Hopes for Price Sensitivity,


Reminds me of the Dell or Sun CEO who was advocating for Web-connected Appliances a few years back.. I always thought that the prospect of having the fridge ordering my milk was not only onerous, but unnecessary. But to have price signals as part of the powerline, so that the house systems can be regulating their consumption sounds a lot smarter. Still pretty complex, but at least it's not just a stand-in for more 'market penetration'.

It also brings to mind the potential to create a smarter breed of appliances, so that your fridge can perhaps have enough compression storage built in so that it can get farther through the 'peak' hours than the present-day 'power-on-demand' design that pretty much all appliances adhere to. Whenever we get embroiled in the 'grid needs constant baseload' argument against the intermittent, but recurring sources and for the so-called dependable sources like Nuclear.. I have to look at cities like Baghdad where power is off and on throughout the day.. I think there will be increasing numbers of places that will have intermittent power, and we will be designing our Electricity using tools to work within that framework, or at least prepared for that eventuality.


Make Hay while the Sun Shines.

Good. Now we've got the proposal to bring the electric grid to the Iraqi quality standards.

People spent whole their lives and hundreds of billions of dollars for ensuring grid reliability and now there are those revolutionaries that say we've got to simply "adapt to intermittent power". How exactly is this going to happen? Can you describe a solar powered server farm? Wind powered aluminum smelting plant? How exactly are you going to design "all our tools around intermittent power"? We are talking of trillions of worth of tools and infrastructure - which dwarfs the value of the power plants that feed into it.

Going back to the beginning of the last century the grid was just what you are suggesting it to become now. It was "local generation" and "decentralized". There were thousands of small local grids with small local generators in them. Consequently it was of course also intermittent and unreliable, and people did adapt - by having their candle stick backups at hand. Is this what you suggest?

I think you are missing the difference between advocating something and trying to figure out how to adapt to it. And yes, thought history societies have spent enormous effort in building things that were subsequently ruined and abandoned. Usually that did not happen because they wanted it to. Maybe we can avoid that. Maybe we can't.

Maybe we can avoid that. Maybe we can't.

Yes but the usual argument here is that "since we can not maintain the current system anyway, let's crush it to the ground and adapt to Iraqi lifestyle".

First of all who says we won't be able to maintain it. This needs a lot more proof than the simple "I have a bad feeling about where we are going". Personally I support every effort to maintain our achievements, and this on entirely environmental grounds. We have much better chance to control our actions if we are not in a panic mode.

Second I strongly doubt that people making such suggestions know what they are talking about. Our civilization has advanced so much that many things are taken for granted. Most people don't know from how high we are falling, and even more are not at all prepared for what is awaiting us down there. I'm not trying to plant fear here, it's just my observation are such.

Yes but the usual argument here is that "since we can not maintain the current system anyway, let's crush it to the ground and adapt to Iraqi lifestyle".

"Usual argument here"? Once again, I call you out on such a claim.

But go ahead, show I'm wrong. I dare ya.

Show how 50+% of the 'arguments' here are what you have claimed. Extra points if you can include uranium dust.

(edit) - I see that LevinK has, once again, failed to back up what he claimed with facts. Gentile readers - keep this in mind whenever LenivK posts - that he has a past record if just making stuff up. Best example - the "99.999% safety" claims made in the past WRT Fission power.

The way a lot of us cope with intermittent power for our computers could be a model. Most of us have learned that we need to put a UPS between our computer and the power line - an immediate and unplanned shutdown can do a lot of damage to computer processes.

Few of us can afford UPS battery capacity of a size that lets us stay up and running for more than 5-10 minutes or so. That just gives us enough time to shut down in an orderly manner, avoiding damage. Very often, the power interruption is so brief that we don't have to shut down at all.

A similar approach could be used for all types of other applications. Don't try to build in enoubh back-up battery power to cover the load for days, but maybe enough to allow an orderly powerdown. The amount of battery backup will vary with the application, but there is a level at a given battery price that will make sense.

If most users have some UPS backup to buffer intermittency, then the problem of bringing backup power sources online when primary power sources go offline is considerably easier to manage. You can hold that coal or gas (NG now, biogas from ag & muni wastes later) fired plant in reserve and fire it up if you know we're going to have a long spell of clouds/calm. It takes a little bit of time to fire up a clold plant, but with sufficient battery buffering, that isn't so much of a problem.

If your power fails twice a day every day you would need to kiss your UPS goodbye in couple of months.

What most people also can not grasp is the difference between rare individual failures and systematic failures. If your power is out for a couple of hours 2-3 times a year you can cope with it.

If it goes out every day for you, for the company that gives you a paycheck, for those server farms you rely your internet to come from, for the water company that provides you with water, for the farmers that feed you etc. etc. then eventually you would have to cope with an order of magnitude bigger "inconveniences" than lighting a couple of candles once or twice.

This is the reason I am very interested in Toshiba's Lithium Battery Leanan brought up in today's drumbeat.

Leanan's link in Today's Drumbeat


It doesn't matter how much a battery can hold if it's constantly being bombarded with poor quality power with constant surges and sags in electricity. like in many third world country's where power is on for only a few short hours a day(this is what we are heading too). it will die long before it wears out due to damage unless you have some good line conditioners.

Reminds me of a story in the WaPo yesterday:


With five computer data centers in Northern Virginia, DuPont Fabros Technologies is a major local player in a growing industry responsible for safeguarding vast repositories of information stored online.

It also is a large user of electricity. In 2006, U.S. data centers nationwide consumed 61 billion kilowatt hours of electricity, enough to power about 5.8 million American households for a year, a recent Environmental Protection Agency report said.

So when Dominion Virginia Power of Richmond proposed running a new 500 kilovolt power line through a 65-mile stretch of rural Northern Virginia, how did DuPont Fabros respond?

Which leads to the question - why not locate server farms near the actual power plants, and instead run fiber-optic lines to the desired market. Wouldn't that be a whole lot cheaper than pushing high-voltage powerlines through the countryside?

The gist of the article was that high-tech companies aren't really on board with the plan for the new powerline.

The Northern Virginia Technology Council, an association representing about 1,100 technology companies, decided not to endorse either side after hearing presentations from Dominion and the opposing Piedmont Environmental Council. The council is pushing the region to become a "green hub" through innovation, education and incentives for alternative energy use.

"We just really decided [the issue] was too multifaceted," council spokeswoman Michelle Snyder said.

I get the idea Canada or Siberia are great places for server farms.

You get the cooling for free.


why not locate server farms near the actual power plants, and instead run fiber-optic lines to the desired market. Wouldn't that be a whole lot cheaper than pushing high-voltage powerlines through the countryside?

Data Centers are located where the Techies live. Techies don't want to live where the power plants are located.

That's not completely true. I know that both Google and Microsoft are building datacenters along rivers in Oregon. Rivers that happen to have hydro power plants or capacity. And the techies needed to do data center work for that kind of a regimented major company, can be fairly easily trained for racking machines, swapping drives and shipping dead servers back to HP. All higher level admin and engineering stuff happens in Mountain View or Redmond.

Hiding in Plain Sight, Google Seeks More Power

They're building in the Dalles, on the Columbia. Not strictly on a river in Oregon, the Columbia is a river in Oregon in the sense that the Atlantic is an ocean in Maryland!

Iceland (with plenty of resident techies and lots of renewable power) is considering becoming a major data center. A second fiber optic link to the EU will be needed.

Best Hopes for Icelandic Data Centers,


Because the heat rejected from these servers in data centers is large (maybe 20 or 25% of the 61 billion KWH?), why not locate facilites that could use the heat next to these data centers. Put greenhouses next to them and let the heat help grow vegtables and fruits in the winter time.

Too bad most of the world's energy is wasted as heat going into the atmosphere. Possibly as much as 75% of the oil and 65% of the coal used by transportation and electrical power generation is simply lost as heat rejected in thermal dynamic processes. Lets find ways to use this rejected heat and the downside of peak oil will be a much softer landing.

You're as much as saying 'Our Lifestyle is non-negotiable'.. what I propose is that we at least have a seat at the Negotiations, and don't let it be negotiated FOR us by the fates or the remaining energy monopolies. It's also not lost on me that my own country bears the blame for the reliability of Baghdad's power supply today, and our leaders are also the ones making choices that will guide our own energy future.

"We're getting blindsided over there so that we DON'T get blindsided over here!" Sen. Alton C Blindside,

Of course, you hear any of this and conclude that ALL tools will have to be built this way. Some can, some can't.. Aluminum Smelting might be able to afford to 'stay lit', or as another poster asked me about, we'll have to see how much Glass we can afford to produce, or if the facilities will have to be redesigned at a smaller scale, or with some kind of intense insulating design to hold as much of the process heat as possible until the juice can be turned back on.

You trust that the reactors can and will remain reliable. We'll see. I think they are as dependent on oil as any other massive piece of equipment/industry.

To suggest that by being prepared for grid failures, energy setbacks or emergency reactor shutdowns; that I'm somehow insulting and disrespecting those who 'gave their lives' to insure grid reliability? OK, Rhetorical flourishes and Emotional Appeals aside, (including the label of 'Revolutionary' for those dangerous individuals who would suggest that the current 'current' may prove to be unreliable).. are you unwilling to consider that some forces beyond us 'revolutionaries' might prove more able to shut the lights off, and that we would be wise to figure out how to manage as smoothly as possible in more choppy seas? I liked WNC's example of UPS's and Laptops with Batteries built in as ways to flow past many simple disruptions. Reminds me of 'RubberBanding' in traffic jams. If you can keep a Buffer-zone with the car ahead of you, then you don't have to drive as reactively and brake as much, causing even MORE ripples behind you.. smooth it wherever possible..

You use 'Intermittent' and 'Unreliable' together, suggesting that the two are interdependent, so while Wind, Waves, Tides and Sun are certainly Intermittent.. they still do Reliably keep coming back again and again. If you can hang onto some of that power between deliveries, then you've got some of that problem handled.

Candles? Yes, I do recommend keeping candles on hand. Does that sound primitive and defeatist to you? UnAmerican?


1. You just don't need batterys to protect against a unstable grid. you will need some pretty good line conditioners too to prevent the spikes and sags from damaging said batteries. expensive ups's have them but the cheap ones don't.

2. smelters need to maintain a constant temp to keep the material being smelted from solidifying in the container and thus ruining it. it's not very practical if at all possible to keep a electric arc smelter running on pure batteries for a several hour disruption of the grid. so it's not unreasonable to assume that companys who make a profit from smelting stuff like aluminum would move their plants as close to possible to power plants to prevent disruptions.

Points taken.

The overarching point is simply that there are technologies that we use that can be designed for either 'selective use' of power, based on rates, etc, and also loads that can use such an ability to continue on unbothered by periodic blackouts.

Currently, our fridges are running in our heated houses, when it's colder outside than it is inside the fridge. I shouldn't be hearing that compressor running right now, and that appliance should also probably be designed with much heavier insulation, with 'cold storage', and be built into an exterior wall, to take advantage of cold weather, instead of fighting against a heated room every day. Then, like all the other examples of JIT delivery, I would keep enough 'coolth' in inventory that I wouldn't be screwed if the next ice-storm took out our power. The fridge would be all set, happier than a pig on ice, so to speak..

Smelters and big industry.. well, I can only make up a few notions, but if they get to the point where there is an issue of intermittency, dreamers notwithstanding, I hope there are those who will have found ways to 'hunker down' through a bad patch.


That issue is so frustrating when it comes to commercial buildings and applications.

Why does any compressor run in any supermarket above the frost line during winter?

When will Wal-Mart use natural cold air to cool the millions of cold-storage units it uses?

When will refrigerated trucks use atmospheric cold air?

When it is 25F out why does the convenience store i go to have cold cases disconnected from the outside?

better yet-in the short term since of the word-
when will retail outlets use sliding glass/plastic doors to hold the cold in
and reduce cooling capacity energy required of the refrigeration system?

Intermittent and unreliable are not exactly interchangeable, but intermittent sources can lead to unreliability if one leans too much on them or does not provide expensive fixes - like storage or running backup. This is the whole idea behind the baseload concept which you dismissed so lightly - to have a reliable stream of power no matter what.

If an energy source fails to provide the requested output even 1% of the time it is already unrealiable and unsuitable for baseload. Quality standards in developed countries are that the power may be out on the order of 1-2 hours per year, which means 99.99% reliability. What percentage of the time can wind or solar be relied on to deliver?

There is a very good reason this to be so - stopping and starting all kinds of equipment especially at random times is damaging it. Voltage drops can damage it too - is it admissible a drop of power that costs 1c to ruin your $2000 plasma TV? Companies will lose billions for every minute power is out. It should be clearly understood - compromising grid reliability is not an option. You may suggest different ways to improve it but this is a different discussion.

"compromising grid reliability is not an option. "

Well who are you telling that to, Me? It's all well and good to 'put your foot down and make firm demands'.. but guess what? I'm not leaning on the switch threatening that precious equipment that will be destroyed if it can't be in this world of perfect and consistent 99.99% energy reliability. I'm here at the Oil Drum, a site that is premised on the idea that we are Sitting Ducks, thinking our safe little pond of energy will continue on, much as it has for 80-90 years, ie 'Forever' in the eyes of the equipment that was designed for a world of endless and steady power.

We do need to try to find reliable energy sources that are more in tune with the natural world that we easily forget that we are intimately connected to, and we need to design our Demands for that power to be as flexible as the supply might become. If it turns out that the grid is maxed out, and to keep the baseload going for 'InFlexible' draws, then we might find it is absolutely essential to have masses of other equipment that can buckle down to keep the Operating Rooms and the Traffic Lights going in a pinch.

'Is it admissible to kill my Plasma?' -- I'm saying redesign the plasma, make sure that it, or some piece of Vital equipment anyway, that it can Handle the variances without being devastated. It's a question of grid-dexterity, of equipment resilience.
( And maybe of your and my resilience, you stubborn coot! I am a shadowy reflection of you..)

I'm not 'advocating' Chaos, but will I put money down that we won't see any, and shouldn't be ready if some shows up at the door?


Amen Bro, Amen.


power may be out on the order of 1-2 hours per year, which means 99.99% reliability. What percentage of the time can wind or solar be relied on to deliver ?

Nuclear power fails that test as well. They are given to unplanned shutdowns and multi-year shutdowns for repairs, as well as common design faults that can take out all nukes of a single type for months or years.

Wind and solar coupled with pumped storage can provide extremely reliable electrical supplies (wind has about 15% annual energy variance, solar a couple of %, hydro about 30% and nuke can have a 100% variance).

Pumped storage can bridge from one windy day to the next, but cannot span a nuke outage, planned or unplanned.


Unplanned shutdowns of nuclear reactors are rare events and take a small percentage of their operating time on average.

Most of the capacity factor up to 100% is lost on refueling an planned maintainance.

It appears that the percentage of reactors that avoid trips is increasing as they age, but trips are still common for many reactors.

I understand that the newest USA reactor, Watts Bar 1, has reliability problems, as do the rebuilt/restated Canadian Pickering reactors. Unsure about the rebuilt Browns Ferry 1.

Not too many years ago, it was remarkable (and a point of pride) for a reactor to go from one refueling outage to the next w/o a trip.

And major, multi-year repairs still happen. Trojan was scrapped after a dozen years (from memory) of operation due to required major repairs (steam generators).

So nuke does not = reliability.

I would fill more secure in my electrical supply relying upon a wind + solar + hydro (+ geothermal + biomass)+ pumped storage system than a 2 or 3 nuke reactor (common design) nuclear power plant + pumped storage system.


..And it still bears asking, just how many cars and trucks have to arrive and depart from a Reactor Site every day, every week, in order to keep the reliability of that Source intact? How many seals, adhesives and compounds are direct Petroleum derivatives, and require regular replacement? At that rate, the reliability that we've gotten up to now might be more an indicator of the reliability of the oil-infrastructure that can fill in gaps and smooth the process. Renewables like Wind and Solar do have to be built within the same realm that has so far been flush with oil's power, but it requires that principally for manufacture and installation, not for operation.

That kind of machine (a Nuclear Reactor) takes people on watch, continual upkeep and maintenance, critical and highly processed replacement parts, etc etc.. (Not suggesting that you don't know this, Alan.. just the place I put the comment) in other words, a persistent 'oiling' to keep things running smoothly. I don't doubt that many of these processes can be converted to Non-Oil systems.. but that's an argument I haven't seen made in detail yet.


Trojan was scrapped after a dozen years (from memory) of operation due to required major repairs (steam generators).

While it had a number of problems, Trojan was scrapped due to an inhospitible political climate, not simply unreliability. You dont throw away assets that you sunk billions into simply because of some maintenance headaches, especially when fixing it is cheaper than building a new reactor.


Apparently you do. If it was billions in assets why not fight the political problems... it only took them 5 million to defeat the ballot measure. For your link:

"In 1992, PGE spent over $5 million to defeat a statewide ballot measure to close Trojan ... A week later the Trojan plant suffered another steam generator tube leak of radioactive water, and was shut down. It was announced that replacement of the steam generators would be necessary before it could restart. In December 1992, documents were leaked from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, showing that staff scientists believed that Trojan might be unsafe to operate. In January 1993, PGE announced it would not try to restart Trojan."

Trojan was scrapped due to an inhospitible political climate, not simply unreliability.


Interesting claim. So when something is unreliable that effects a government protected market and the citizens react the only way they can - politically - you take the above position.

are events and take a small percentage of their operating time on average.

Says the poster who was making the 99.999% safety claim.

A claim that was, well, disproven.

So I'm going to ask you to provide proof to your claim.

(Readers - if LevinK makes a claim about fission power - question it.)

Part of the scheme, as I've suggested before, which would involve 'smart' power distribution might indeed involve whole house 'UPS' systems; and, if house has a robust storage system, it is only sensible to use the aggregate storage of many houses/businesses/factories as a buffer for the grid, allowing greater penetration of wind and solar.

If such a scheme were designed properly in economic terms, the homeowner would have an economic incentive to add to her home's UPS capacity. It would be a system that could grow incrementally and not require a 'crash program' to fix our energy problems.

Utility scale batteries at distribution nodes would likely be more cost-effective.

For examples see http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9595_22-6221396.html.

You are probably right about this. However, if homeowners are going to be installing home energy systems of various kinds and home energy storage systems, it might still make sense for these systems to be integrated into a 'smart' grid system. I suspect that as things develop, the cost-effectiveness of centralized storage would contribute to the already existing trend of home PV and wind systems to be totally on-grid and without local storage.

This is usually where the V2G issue comes in. I believe that the Achille's heel of V2G is simply that the auto is disconnected from the grid for long periods, and needs a relatively full charge at the beginning of these periods. For always connected transport such as electrified train or electric trolley, using the rolling storage might make good sense as long as the vehicle could be guaranteed to keep rolling.

V2G can not be implemented with current battery technology, not for what it is advertised for - load leveling.

Electricity recycled through batteries is way too expensive, based solely on battery depreciation. For the Tesla battery I once calculated it to about ~$1/kwth, but the usual figures I've seen are about 20-30c/kwth, probably assuming better batteries.

V2G could provide short term backup in case of failures of baseload power plants (aka spinning reserve) or to meet extremely short-term discrepancies between supply and demand (aka regulation).

However if we are to have a significantly higher penetration of intermittent sources batteries will have to be engaged more often and the price of electricity will have to rise progressively towards the abovementioned figures.

There is a huge difference between unreliable power (may completely shut off with little predictability) and varying system level capacity. In the later case subsystems which can operate in low power mode can be switched into low power mode as system supply/demand dictates. For instance, your Aluminum smelter must maintain a minimum power level to avoid damage, if that minimum caretaker level is substantially below the normal production level, there is an opportunity to use that capability as a load leveler. Similarly for the server farms:
computers could be built to have low power operating mode, power scales as roughly the third power of clock rate, and given that other parts of the system are usually more important to determining performance, it shouldn't be hard to design future server farms which can switch to half power and still deliver 90-95% of throughput during low power mode. There are likely a lot of relatively cheap ways to change industrial systems to respond to varying power supply. Assuming the utility offers sufficient incentives, we should be able to absorb quite a bit of supply variability with only minor cost.

There are already 'smart' meters and programs in some places where the user subscribes to the system and gets lower rates in return for allowing the electric utility to switch off non-critical household appliances such as AC. My parents subscribed to such a system in SC (Duke Power) 20 years ago.

You are talking about demand side management vs supply side management.

While DSM has its merits it has its limitations - for example you can't run a smelting plant or a server farm on 1/3 power too much of the time, otherwise you will face other consequences. In these cases you can't also completely shut it off - while intermittent power sources are shutting off completely all the time. For example solar shuts off every evening or every cloudy day and wind needs just a depression or storm conditions to do it - and these tend to happen very often.

It also must be proven economically - is DSM more economical than SSM? In which cases? There is a history of successful DSM measures implemented in US, but these pick up the low hanging fruit. On the scale we are talking about noone has ever tried it or proved it is feasible.

People spent whole their lives and hundreds of billions of dollars for ensuring grid reliability and now there are those revolutionaries that say we've got to simply "adapt to intermittent power". How exactly is this going to happen?

Well, sooner or later people will have to adapt to intermittent power the same way I did last week after a 70mph winter storm lashed Oahu. That is, the power goes off, and you adapt. Gonna happen whether we plan or not.

So saying, adapting to intermittent power all the time would be about the sanest thing humans in "developed" nations could do right now. Just think how much investment will have to go to evening out the "baseload" power versus primary generation for stuff like wind and solar. And why? Just so we don't have to change our little habits.

Very few of us die if the power goes off. Currently, most of us sleep at night and do stuff during the day. Not only are we evolved for it, but the light's better. Likewise, we need to use the sun to dry our clothes and suit our schedules to the availability of power and not vice-versa. It's not rocket science.

Baseload power is - for most current uses - as unnecessary as single-driver SUV's.

And I'm sure someone else has thought of it, but for stuff like server farms which could be about anywhere, why not locate them in areas with abundant geothermal or hydro power, or in Deserts powered by CSP or something?

I like the idea of each home having a bit of backup, maybe 2 car batteries' worth with the lead recycled, which would provide power for computing and stuff during the times with less power.

And for those in cold or hot climates, heavy insulation of a single room.

Most of what we currently do doesn't need to be done. Really. Just a reality check... yeah, it's fun to have dependable godlike powers at the flick of a switch, on a whim. But it'd be nice if we could grow up and actually learn to work around a schedule.... or - gasp - use what the world provides when it provides it.

edit: I didn't actually say "how" in the sense the question was asked, perhaps.

Well, either (a) sooner with maturity and sanity or (b) later with totalitarianism

We have one of these: http://www.invertersrus.com/inv1500wc.html

and 4 of these:

Does everything we need for quite some time. Batteries stay charged and when power is lost the inverter kicks over to battery automatically.

But I really want one of these !!

From the WSJ front page, an article about how Saudi's will increasingly consume their own oil. Pretty explicit about how it will reduce exports?


Here's a little bit:

Much as China leveraged its asset of cheap labor to make an industrial leap, the Saudis and their oil-rich neighbors are tapping their own prime asset to fuel development. "The region is looking to the future by turning to industries that rely on oil, a lot of oil," says John Sfakianakis, chief economist at Saudi investment bank SABB, an affiliate of HSBC. "That means more oil stays here."

The problem is that with output slumping in places like the North Sea and Mexico, the world is counting on increased oil supplies from the Middle East, and above all from Saudi Arabia. Global oil demand, now just over 85 million barrels a day, is expected to exceed 100 million barrels a day within 10 years. So the question arises: Can the kingdom continue to satisfy the world's growing oil needs at the same time as its own economic engine demands ever more crude?

Here's a free version of that article. I think.

Part of what the Saudis are doing is a strategic expansion of refining and petrochemical industry. As crude oil becomes scarce and more expensive, it makes a lot of sense for them to try to capture more of the oil profit prior to export. So a lot of their crude will still be exported, only farther up the value-add chain.

And this raises one issue that might require westexas to make a minor tweak to his ELM model. There is a difference between national oil resources retained for domestic consumption and those retained for production fo other export goods. In the case of the latter, there should be an offsetting reduction in the production of goods formerly produced domestically using imported oil. Thus, while the amount of oil exported goes down, the amount of oil needed by the importing countries also goes down by a matching amount.

Only a small refinement in the ELM model will be required, but it nevertheless should take this phenomenon into account.

I think that it is a rounding error.

Our middle case is that the top five net oil exporters will only export, after 2005, about 100 Gb of total liquids (net), versus annual net exports by the top five of about 8 Gb in 2005.

As far as I understand it (and I'd welcome clarifications), WT is talking about increased consuption at the procing countries. That happens because as oil gets more expensive, those people will concentrate more money (taken from importers).

So, ELM is valid for all exports (agregate), not for oil. But it is likely a good approximation for oil, since both are very correlated.

Certainly agree the forward integration by the KSA needs to be excluded from being double counted However if could be a bit of a mess trying to account for it all especially since it will also show up as a decrease in other countries imports. I guess in retrospect I'm a bit surprised they haven't moved in this direction faster. Maybe they needed to wait until their customers were a bit more over the barrel before they strategically could complete the Flea Skinner move skinning of the flea and the rendering of its (our) hide. In the venacular of efficiency it does make sense to take the yield losses at the point of production rather than ship them around the world.

I too am a bit surprised that the KSA hasn't moved more quickly toward greater production of refined products, petrochemicals, and other value-added uses for its petroleum and natural gas.

It's not like they've just become aware of the benefits of doing so. I know for a fact that since as far back as the mid 1970s they've been studying all sorts of possibilities for creating energy-intensive industries as a way of economically diversifying and boosting the value of its fossil fuel production.

The consulting company I worked for at the time was hired by KSA to study various industrial schemes, including cement plants, aluminum smelters, and a fully integrated steel mill. (Can you just imagine what it would be like working in a steel mill in Saudi Arabia in August! But then again, I guess that's what they have Palestinians and Filipinos for.)

Not much came of these studies, I suppose because it was more easy just to sit back and watch the oil pump out and the dollars flow in.

I too am a bit surprised that the KSA hasn't moved more quickly toward greater production of refined products, petrochemicals, and other value-added uses for its petroleum and natural gas.

It has always been cheaper to ship crude than products. Therefore everything else being equal, a refinery producing in KSA and shipping to the US has a higher opex than one producing in the US. Additionally, consuming countries have had much lower capital costs, and refining infrastructure involves risking enormous amounts of capital.

What seems to have changed now is: 1) KSA may have very specific crude slates that could face a larger discount selling into the global refining infrastructure than the shipping costs, and 2) KSA now has excess capital so their effective coct of capital is lower.

Given the changing product demand (less gasoline, more diesel in EU, bunker grades for 3rd world electricity, etc.), it makes sense to split the product streams at the source, instead of shipping gasoline from the EU > USA.

And the primary KSA motivation ? JOBS !

IMHO, older USA refineries will be cut up for scrap in a half dozen years.


Re: Expert links stockpiling to oil price.

Nothing here. Don't to bother to read it.

The strategic petroleum reserve is one of the subsidies given to oil and is one of the reasons that it is only fair to give subsidies to ethanol. Level playing field, where are you?

How does the wrongheadedness of Oil Subsidies justify backing Ethanol more?

Ethanol already gets subsidies, and has for years, but advocating for parity with what you describe as BAD subsidies is a pretty desperate measure.

You subsidize industries that you deem worthy of priming for success. Even the candidates are quieting down on Ethanol at this point. So it sounds like the jury is possibly out for those in the beltway crowd.

The SPR is green oil production. Take oil out of one hole and stick it down another hole. Minimal CO2 to get from hole A to hole B. Best possible use for produced oil :-)

Ethanol is not worth subsidizing AT ALL. Some is required in gasoline for polluted cities, let them supply that and no more (perhaps with Brazilian EtOH).

I have a LONG list of mitigation strategies worth subsidizing and that useless hog is at the trough.


Best Hopes for Rational Policies,


Amongst this months talks at TED there is this talk by Amory Lovins on winning the oil endgame. [wiki:Amory_Lovins]

About this Talk

Energy guru Amory Lovins lays out his plan for weaning the US off oil and revitalizing the economy in the process. It's the subject of his book Winning the Oil Endgame, and he makes it sound fairly simple: On one hand, the deadly risks of continued dependency, and on the other, some win-win solutions.

Has anyone heard about this? An architecture firm is proposing a plan called "Farmadelphia" for the city of Philadelphia, which entails turning the city's vacant and abandoned lots into agricultural space for local consumption.

Here's the link:


And here's the firm that wants to do it:

http://www.frontstudio.com/ (go to "Work" and then "Competition")

It seems destined to be foiled by zoning ordinances, building codes, etc.

I am quite familiar with Philadelphia, and from the looks of some of its vacant lots and the neighborhoods where they are located, I can envision only one crop that would generate any local enthusiasm: high-quality marijuana :-)

The city of Brotherly Love? ;)

Also known in some (non-PC) circles as 'The City of Loving Brothers'.

My girlfriend showed me a chart this morning showing vegetable oil prices for the year, and they are all up sharply this year. Soybean oil used to be about 23 cents/pound - now it is closer to 43 cents/pound.

The stuff she showed me didn't try and explain why (my girlfriend works in the food industry, and she has the charts to show customers why the fryer oil is so much more expensive now). I would guess fewer oilseed crops planted and more corn planted to try and cash in in the ethanol mania. Possible that demand for oil to be used with biodiesel is also driving up the price of virgin oil, but I didn't think demand was high enough yet to drive up the price this far.


ask her how much it has to do with going away from transfat oil. i know i was told sunflower seed shot up due to this.

I think it's more than that. High cooking oil prices are causing a lot of problems in Asia. (Remember the people trampled to death in China for 15% discount on cooking oil?)

I doubt they're worried about transfat.

I think it is biofuels. All that palm oil and rapeseed oil now being used as fuel used to be eaten. It's got to have an effect on price.

Another factor is increasing acreage going to corn for ethanol.

Actually, cooking oil isn't that bad yet. I was looking last week and canola or "vegetable oil" was still $8-9 gal, about double diesel at the pump of $3.85. But not to say the prices aren't running.

Next year is when I see real increases, especially with beef. In fall 06, high feed and hay prices hadn't fully taken hold. This fall, those prices were unavoidable. Herds are being culled back to get through winter with these high prices.

Many areas projected 10% increases in wheat acreage, based on the high price. USDA projects high wheat prices in spite of it. And there are supplier reports this past fall for winter wheat seed that went unfilled. Not enough seed. They could only supply seed to established contracts and amounts. I wonder if the seed shortage will carry over to spring planting.

Is there any reason that the farmers can't just get some wheat out of storage and use that for seed, at least for the non-GMO farmers?

Most grains, even if not GMO, are in the form of hybrid varieties which don't grow true-to-seed. Even if you can legally replant, what you get when you do so will give you a much lower yield than if you plant the hybrid seeds from the seed vendor.

Tainter scores again.

Most all wheat seed purchased is hybrid of a variety developed specifically for your area/region, treated and with guaranteed germination rates. Should you suspect coming low moisture or disease problems, you may want to switch to another variety for better yield. With so many dollars riding on hundreds of acres, it's considered foolish not to use it.

Seed shortage this fall involved growers who wanted to switch production crop, or possibly expand wheat acreage, but had no prior contract for the seed.

Edit: The problem with starting a reply, then being called out to a chore before posting, results in redundancy on this board.

Most wheat is still open pollinated so you can grow a crop next year with seed from this year's harvest. This site for the Minnesota Crop Improvement Association may answer some questions.


Toplink: Arctic summers ice-free 'by 2013'

"Our projection of 2013 for the removal of ice in summer is not accounting for the last two minima, in 2005 and 2007," the researcher from the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California, explained to the BBC.

"So given that fact, you can argue that may be our projection of 2013 is already too conservative."

Climate scientist Jay Zwally summed it up in an article published yesterday:

"the canary has died. It is time to start getting out of the coal mines.""


or it's time to consider an action to fix it directly as suggested in this PDF.

The most frightening thing about that speech is that the mass of the ice pack has fallen in half in three years. It's not just the area, it's the resistance to waves and summer melting that matters. Thin ice could go away very quickly. I've seen estimates all the way down to 2010 for no more Arctic ice pack in the summer, and pretty soon that means nothing in the winter either. It justs gets too warm to freeze.

can we therefore conclude that it's already too to do any thing? it is hard to imagine it will be too warm to freeze in arctic winter any time soon. at least Greenland ice sheets should be shored up as much as possible. and it's time to shore up the Antarctic ice shelfs as well.

WK Willis,

"it just gets to warm to freeze"

WHAT gets to warm to freeze, the air or the ocean is to warm to freeze the water.

Are you trying to say the air temperature at these extreme conditions this far north in the winter, that the air temperature is what is melting the ice. What is your basis for this statement.

The ocean gets to warm to freeze in the summer. It will freeze in the winter, but later in the winter, and melting earlier in the spring.
That is, the ice pack that is there is two fifths of what was there ten years ago in area, and half of what was there four years ago in mass. Mass means thermal inertia, resistance to wave breakup, insulation against melting in the summer, insulation against the ocean cooling on contact with winter air, insulation against the ocean warming on contract with summer sunlight.
You might think that it is possible that the two effects might cancel out, but one is increasing and one is decreasing, so there is only one year where the effects cancel out.
That means that the Conveyor Belt might speed up because the uninsulated by ice pack water cools and falls down, or it might mean that the Conveyor Belt migh slow down because the increase snow effect moisture on Siberia might put lighter brackish water on top of the Arctic Sea and therefor turn off the pressure of water falling down and driving the Conveyor Belt.
In California, if the Conveyor Belt slows down the offshore current gets warmer, we get more rain, we get more hydroelectric power, more agricultural production, more air conditioning demand at night, less airconditioning demand at day (clouds), and more flooding. If the Conveyor Belt speeds up the offshore water gets colder, we get less airconditioning demand during the night, more airconditioning demand during the day (clear skies), less water for hydroelectric power, more fires, more droughts, less agricultural production.
Figure on your insurance rates going up. The farms and houses are built assuming regular California weather, not some different weather, much less some different weather that could change back in a decade or so, and then change back again.

If next years melt is equal too or greater then this years melt then i think that can be taken as a sign that we have past the point of no return.

doesn't this pretty much coincide with the mayan calender ending in Dec 2012?

Like others, I want to say how impressed I am with the work being put in by the TOD contributors and editors. I am particularly impressed with the work by Stuart Staniford and others on getting some real numbers on this issue.
I first got involved in thinking about peak oil when I read the September 1970 issue of the Scientific American which had a long article by Hubbert. That, and the 1972 book Resources and Man, which also featured Hubbert set me thinking and writing through the 1970s about the need to plan for post-peak conditons.
We had virtually no data apart from Hubbert, though I recall a BP geologist called Harry Warman did a Hubbert-like analysis around that time. But we did our best and talked to the few who would listen about oil becoming harder to get and much more expensive in the post-2000 years. It is so interesting, thirty years on, to be where we had predicted and beginning to see what looks like the working out of what we were talking about thirty years ago.
Gerald Foley

I was struck with the parallels between that time and now while I was talking to my daughter (who calls me Daddy Doom) yesterday. When I was 13 it was 1976, just a couple of years past the US peak, as we are now past the world peak (IMO). Then, we switched to using imported oil and delayed the consequences for 30 years.

30 years of ever increasing CO2 output, 30 years of more population growth, 30 years of increasing consumption, 30 years of undermining of the US economy (directly related IMO). How much better position we were in to deal with it then! The fact that we did not use those 30 years, but instead wasted them, is why I have no faith that we will find the will or the means (which I'm not convinced exit) to deal with them now when the situation is much more difficult. Those 30 years did not just delay things, they made them much, much worse.

Twilight this is why I think that indeed humans are not any smarter than yeast* and we'll continue to accelerate right up to the cliff.

*Western-civilization humans *seem* smarter with their lower birthrates, but their overall consumption goes up and up. They are often the equivalent of a third-worlder having 20 or 30 kids and all of those kids living to adulthood...

May Jimmy Carter live long enough to get on national TV in his sweater and say "I told you so!"

Errol in Miami

I'd actually turn on the TV to see that.

I agree.

I met Jimmy Carter on the way back from China last week and told him that I wish we had kept his energy policies. He readily agreed, and said if we had, we wouldn't be in the mess we are in today.

I think we'd still have plenty of "messes" to deal with today in any case, but he was definitely way ahead of his time.

A JC factoid that I heard one time...and have since reiterated on numerous occasions...and not had challenged...is that JC is the only president never to have killed anyone. Of course, the one caveat would be the failed Iran hostage rescue mission, but even there, his forbearance in the face of the mullah's provocations seems exceptional. No other president could resist using the bully power of US military at some point in his presidency. Any room left on Mt Rushmore?

I think you may be mistaken.

Jimmy Carter with his version of Darth Vader, (Zibignew Brzezinski -- every president has one, but that guy made Kissinger seem like a teddy bear) are widely held to have started the flow of arms that got the Islamic fundamentalist holy war in Afghanistan against the Russians and their puppet state going. Reagan cranked it up several notches, but Jimmy is usual half way approach got the war going in a serious way.

As long as Jimmy tells us that he was twenty five years early, I'd listen to his speech.

Carter was right in the intermediate term, but he placed so much emphasis on the immediacy of the problem, that IMO he was directly analogous to the little boy who cried wolf in the parable. i.e. he may have created such a credibility issue, that today better informed [IMO] and fact based proponents of a near term peak are being discounted by people who have heard this same message once before and just ain't buying into that line again.

Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending December 7, 2007

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged nearly 15.3 million barrels per day during the week ending December 7, down 172,000 barrels per day from the previous week's average. Refineries operated at 88.8 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production moved higher compared to the previous week, averaging nearly 9.2 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production fell last week, averaging 4.2 million barrels per day.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged nearly 10.1 million barrels per day last week, up 689,000 barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged 9.9 million barrels per day, or 86 thousand barrels per day more than averaged over the same four-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged 985 thousand barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 170,000 barrels per day last week.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) dropped by 0.7 million barrels compared to the previous week. At 304.5 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are in the upper half of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories increased by 1.6 million barrels last week, but are near the lower end of the average range. Both finished gasoline inventories and gasoline blending components inventories increased during this period. Distillate fuel inventories decreased by 0.8 million barrels, but are in the lower half of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories decreased by 1.4 million barrels last week. Total commercial petroleum inventories decreased by 1.2 million barrels last week, and are in the upper half of the average range for this time of year.


Crude down - 700 thousand barrels

Gasoline up? 1.6 Million barrels

Demand holds steady at 9.3 MMBPD at 0.4% HIGHER than 2006.

Utilization down to 88.8% and imports at .985 MMBPD.

Distillates DOWN again 0.8 Million barrels...with demand UP 4.3% over 2006.

Propane DOWN (do I need to say again) 1.4 Million barrels - 11.4% lower stocks than 2006.

And, overall, US petroleum stocks lower (again) by 1.2 Million barrels.

But, perhaps the more interesting story today is the credit markets and the 'feds'. A little nervous maybe.

I find it almost impossible to predict these week to week figures. It seems to me like there is a lot more driving between Thanksgiving and Christmas, at least based on the traffic congestion seen around here, yet the gasoline inventories increase.

On the happy relocalization news front I am pleased to report that I'm now a real live state level lobbyist in Iowa, registered all proper like and everything.

My first client? The Hydrogen Engine Center in Algona, Iowa - nothing written or anything, just a nice talk with Joe, but he seems pretty pleased to have someone doing this.

Later today I'm off to Iowa Lakes Community College to talk to their wind energy program director. Once they're on board, and I'm sure they'll like the idea of someone actively hunting and/or creating grants for them. The Iowa State BECON guys was initially cool to me, but I hope he'll warm up when he sees this is about commercialization rather than a competitor for research grants.

We have an aggressive regional business development group in the Iowa Lakes Corridor Development Corporation. I've already met with the president on other issues and I'll be touching base with her again, perhaps even this week.

There are two state Senators, one Republican, and one Democrat, who are responsible for the areas in which I am active. One lists his occupation as "farmer" while the other is ... "dairy farmer". I don't think I'm going to have to spend all that much time explaining the concepts :-)

I'll give credit where credit is due - Jerome a Paris lured me here, Alan Drake showed me that one little guy can start stuff on a national level, and Mr. Totoneila Sir's marvelous visions I read with great delight, for they help me to think outside the box. NH3 is providing me a lot of good information in the back channel and oilmanbob's personal efforts to restart a small oil field gave me a hint of how entrepreneurs play in energy markets.

So, you who read this and wish for some way to change things, go and look around where you live, and I am sure you can find something helpful to do with your spare time.

Interesting quote from the Oklahoma ice storm aftermath:

"We're relying on people to look after each other," Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett said. "At the end of the day, this comes down to the strength of your people. ... People who have electricity ought to be sharing it with people who don't."

CNN's lead was "Thieves looting houses under the cover of darkness."

I think I deleted them all but for a while I was keeping screen shots of CNN's headlines - they were so tabloid it wasn't funny. I mean for a while I was seeing everything except bigfoot stories on there ...

And I don't doubt such things would happen here in a place like Des Moines or Waterloo - Iowa cities aren't as grubby as some places, but cities of that size will have a shooting or stabbing nightly.

Who actually views CNN as a news source any more? I stopped a long time ago - I mean just look at this crap! Burglar steals family dog? Waterboarding: Is it torture? Like every so called mainstream media outlet they're all freak show, all the time. Most of this ain't news, but its got "newsiness".

Picture 4.png

When I'm at an Airport or a Dunkin' Donuts, I am confronted with the CNN sledgehammer.. it reminds me of why I wanted to make a spoof commercial a few years ago for a Talking Mounted Bass that lip-synched to the News..

The CNN News Fish!

another oblique and snarky way of expressing the obvious..

I wonder if Ted Turner just whacks his head against a wall when he sees it?


If it weren't for sex crimes and celebrities going commando while wearing miniskirts what the heck would CNN have to report? Lame, lame, lame.

Assclowns from CNN strike again! (#2)

Good for you, good for Iowa.

It is encouraging to see local efforts and local result, which can spread !

Good for you,

Best Hopes,


Hosting a meeting of the Ten Rivers food web


I'm bringing together local growers and local restaurants to convince growers to pick out the "pretty" products and sell them at their farmers markets, and bring the "crooked carrots" and such to us local chefs who will dice it all up anyway. So far growers are extatic about this, restauranteurs are still bitching about the price.

Showing my portable solar power unit to any who will listen.

Hosting an informal gathering for discussion on Nuclear power with Jose Reyes, dept head OSU nuclear engineering.
(alot of folks I talk to about PO agree that nuc has to happen)

Building several interesting bikes with local people.

Spreading the word about the joys and $ benifits of ELP.

Teaching my kids to be able to work on anything, fix anything, build anything, learn anything....

All this and I still believe We Are Soooo Screwed up (WASS-up) as a Nation.

I'm trying to get something like this rolling locally (in my spare time :-) and the http://relocalize.net folks are not getting back to me as quickly as I'd like. Perhaps I am just too demanding :-)

I see this preparedness as a progression - self, then friends & family, then town/county, then expand out. I feel I'm being a bit remiss in not verifying that is being done before moving on to regional energy issues, but I am very confident of the local food production capabilties here, so I'd be more interested in relocalized industry.

Perhaps I'll have time to push on that this afternoon ...

so how are they comming along in learning how to make a new solar pannel when one breaks and you have run out of your cache?

TK - forgot to mention, teaching them to shoot too%)


I'm also in Corvallis. Working on starting a practical-use-focused bike shop. (www.csbikestowork.com) I'd love to take a look at your portable solar power system, and your bike projects! You can email me at 'info' at the above URL, if you'd like to try to connect sometime.


Cool Dan

You should come in for your free to all TODers (Bilderberg Group ain't got nothing on us) bowl of soup, already served two.

Corner 16th & Monroe


When does gas from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve get consumed?

Every now and then I read about the Bush administration buying more (usually when the price is high) but I never hear about it being released. And whenever there's a price spike and the press asks about it, the White House says that they aren't releasing because that's not the purpose of the SPR.

They released some after Katrina.

The SPR is not to control high prices. It's to provide a reserve in case of emergency - hurricanes, war, etc.

They were considering opening up the SPR after that Enbridge explosion, but they repaired it pretty quickly, so it wasn't needed.

So Katrina was the last time there was a drawdown?

Yes, I think so.

The reserve contains oil, not gas.

World central banks tackle credit crunch

The Fed said that it was creating a "temporary auction facility" to make funds available to banks and was also setting up lines of credit with the European Central Bank and the Swiss Central Bank that could be used for additional resources.

Solving the problem by creating more debt.

Let me translate this from grifter to English.

"The Fed said that it was creating a new method to draw in marks who've thus far avoided being fleeced. The effects of the mortgage meltdown are pretty well known so they're going to try to change the scam a bit by pulling in the ECB and SCB, hoping to hide behind their credibility."

They didn't get the rate cut they wanted, but whining about it paid off... ;-)

Stocks soar as Fed moves on credit crisis

Wall Street shot higher Wednesday after the Federal Reserve announced a plan to work with other central banks to alleviate a global credit crisis.

Investors upset by the Fed’s quarter-point rate cut Tuesday were relieved by the central banks’ commitment to help the economy weather the ongoing credit and mortgage crisis.

This doesn't get down to the fundamental problem - no one wants to buy worthless crap with real money. The choices are A.) no one buys worthless crap or B.) make money worth less (worthless?) and then maybe the worthless crap will again have "velocity".

We've got velocity now, mind you, but instead of the growth line trending upward its that circular motion that comes right before it all goes down the drain.

This is not a one-off thing, but rather an entirely new and likely permanent facility for increasing the money supply.

From the Wall Street Journal:

The Fed indicated that the new facility could become a permanent addition to its monetary policy toolkit.

The announcement reflects months of preparation and study within the Fed on how to deal with the shortcomings it met in August when it lowered the discount rate in an effort to push added cash into financial markets.


Leanan, do you still doubt that they will find a way to prevent consumer price deflation?

Leanan, do you still doubt that they will find a way to prevent consumer price deflation?


You can lead a consumer to credit but you cant make him/her use it.


Wish I had your confidence. Instead I buy a little more gold.

Who said I had confidence? You asked me if I had doubts. Hell, yeah. I have a lot of doubts. About everything.

Ah... a lady after my own heart.

A couple of weeks back I heard an analyst on CNBC Europe say with heavy accent, "We Germans are very cautious. We would rather commit suicide than allow inflation."

And that gets to the core of the inflation argument. Americans are not Germans. And definitely not Japanese. Most don't have savings to protect except in the form of housing.

So the US is a risk-taker nation that paradoxically has to inflate to protect people's savings!! Watch out!

Well...I haven't had much doubt that TPTB would do everything possible to avoid deflation. What I doubt is how effective all their schemes will be. The power of the Fed could turn out to be a fart in a category 5 hurricane.

My guess was inflation, followed by deflation, and so far, I haven't seen anything to make me change my guess.

My guess was inflation, followed by deflation

And you are probably right about that. My guess is that inflation will go on longer and become more hyper than most people can imagine. One possible scenario, maybe: single digits for the next 4-6 years, then double digits for the following 3-5 years, then triple digits for the next 2-4 years, then quadruple digits for the next 1-3 years, then quintuple digits for the next 6-24 months, then sextuple digits for the final 3-12 months. By the end of all that, dollars will be worth more as fuel than as money.

Once we've gone through the hyperinflation, deflation must inevitably follow. It doesn't matter whether it is dollars, "new dollars" (with a bunch of zeroes whacked off), or whatever replaces the thoroughly debased dollar. As the economy declines, prices must inevitably also decline. It will be a long, inexorable decline, continuing through the better part of a century.

WNC, I wish I were as optimistic as you!
The rate at which this debt bubble is bursting is a stunner...


Fed, top central banks to flood markets with cash

"The Fed has not only opened its vault to the banking industry, [but] is now trucking it to their place of business," said Scott Anderson, chief economist at Wells Fargo. "If that doesn't get the banks excited about lending again, nothing will, and the battle to forestall recession is already lost."
Another added benefit for banks is that their identities will be protected in the auction, avoiding the stigma entirely.

Nothing like open, transparent markets, eh?

The WF chief economist says the r-word, and he doesn't mean years down the road. We're already experiencing deflation in housing, and it's sure to spread, even as the world's fiat currencies inflate away. So it doesn't look to me like an either/or choice; we're in the midst of Stagflation right now. But today's inflationary acts of desperation by the Fed are already being rendered moot by a seized-up market, which is destroying wealth and slowing the velocity of what remains far faster than Ben could ever load the helicopters.

Yes, note that I introduce that scenario with a "maybe" -- there could be many other possible scenarios, and many could be a lot worse (in the sense of inflation ramping up much more quickly). The point is that even if this scenario is "optimistic", it is still scary enough!

how many btu's in a paper dollar ?

"Apples & boxes"

When the housing cheerleaders (see the note down the way) are publicly talking about the possibility of a housing led depression (if housing values drop 30%), kind of makes you wonder how bad it will get.

kind of makes you wonder how bad it will get.

Not at all, in my case. I have a good idea how bad it will get.
I was in high school in 1981. The bottom dropped out of the local economy when Caterpillar laid off about 14,000 union workers in Peoria, IL. The house my family was renting was appraised at $40,000 in 1980 and was sold for $17,000 in 1982. (3 bedroom, 1 car garage, 1 bath, slab on grade). Unemployment stayed in double digits for several years (20%+ at one point).

My father passed away in 1984 while I was in college. I quit school and went to work in Dallas, TX. I did some entry level drafting for a civil engineering company on contract. When the contract was up in May 1985 I worked in residential construction as a dry waller. By the end of July that year construction stopped in that area. The oil boom stalled. The local economy collapsed. You know the rest. You have posted many times about what happened to you in that time frame.

I moved on and have since done well. No regrets. However, this time there will be no rebound as we know it.

I'm in NW OH. Last night I saw an add on TV for a realestate auction. New subdivision (7-8 yr.s old?). Don't know if the property had ever been occupied or not. Original market $ - 300k to 1 mil. homes. Opening bids to start at 25k.


It's almost as if the national currency is housing and the fed by inflating is attempting to preserve it.

There's something to what you're saying. Perhaps we could say housing is one of the incarnations of currency and if it can't morph back out of housing, it's gone. (The buck stops.) That and the physical destruction of real assets, given the current BAU model (foreclosure/default>abandonment>deterioration...)

Dodge Sounds Alarm

All Canadians could pay a price if banks fail to come up with an agreement to save the troubled sector of the country's debt market and $300-billion worth of leverage is allowed to unwind in a worst-case scenario, David Dodge, governor of the Bank of Canada, said yesterday.

"If the whole market goes into a shambles everybody gets affected, including Mr. and Mrs. Jones on Main Street," said Mr. Dodge. "We have a collective interest in the whole thing not going into a shambles."

Isn't that just a stupid statement! No Kidding!

Ok...what can I do Mr. Dodge, you retiring at the peak of madness hypocrit????

Yeah...nothing. You and your bank cronies screwed it up and you want us to feel that we should help fix it. First, question is HOW?

BTW, I did my part...I have no mortgage...and if I did it wouldn't be in trouble.

Gotta find a good wall to line up these guys after TSHTF.

/end rant - sorry lost for a second there.

What I read into it is that they, the Central Banks, are scared shitless. Dodge would not have made such a statement unless the threat of a major banking collapse was not there. And yea, like we can fix it.

A friend of my father used to own a boat. It wasn't until he was almost bankrupt from it that he finally sold it. A sink hole for money he called it. Just like this debt problem. Except there isn't anyone to sell it off to.

Richard Wakefield

Isn't that the Central Bank's "raison d'etre", as the lender of last resort.

Basically what they're saying is their backs are against the wall, they're loosening their asset criteria to accept less than investment grade securities and providing credit to less than credit worthy borrowers. Which is essentially what the banks did, so the central banks are simply following the disastrous footsteps of the banks and taking on excessive risk.

As with the banks, the recklessness of the central banks will cause their balls to drop off and they will lose their nerve for bailing out insolvent banks. Once this happens, mass bank failure will occur and a deflationary depression will descend on the planet (which will cause balls, wheels and all manner of things to fall off).

When they are finding it difficult to save Citigroup, you can bet they're scared. The biggest financial corporations in the world found themselves with their conduits clogged with worthless alphabet garbage when the blood stopped flowing. The heart attack is on, and nothing they have tried so far has worked.

The fraud became so pervasive, that even the fraudsters got caught holding. The Big Banks forgot that 'trust' is a bank's lifeforce. When the trust is gone, the banks are dead.

Cid: The fraudsters didn't get caught holding. The duped shareholders of these financial institutions got caught holding- the fraudsters are doing just fine (still).

We need to push Financial Crime Victims Compensation. I think I need to go to Bernie Ebbers House and pick out a few things.

old saying:

why buy a boat when you can just stand under a cold shower tearing up £20 notes?

This story was posted at 'TOD Finance Round-Up' yesterday and gives a rare glimpse of the people behind the ABCP, CDOs, and other exotic debt instruments involved in the current world economic train wreck. Apparently the guy that helped create and sell these debt instruments really believed in them...'The road to hell is paved with those that had good intentions'...Forgot who said that but I have seen it proven correct many times. Anyway this is an entertaining and enlightening read...Thanks ilargi...


Wind business is kickin' here in the Midwest - Union Pacific wants to play, saying rail delivery of turbines is going to be better/faster/stronger than trucks:


Have they been listening to Alan?

Henry Groppe's comments are rather interesting. He made three points I found fascinating.

  1. Saudi Arabia can keep producing at its current rate for another two decades.
  2. Despite the above, world petroleum production peaks in 2008.
  3. Additionally, he has apparently documented that OPEC's claimed daily production is overstated by at least 2mbpd

Given Groppe's credentials, this is really food for thought.

Groppe's comments deserve *much* more discussion, given his experience and credentials. Has he commented on WT's ELM, and if so, how does that fit into his fascinating prediction about KSA production in coming years? Also, has he placed his KSA estimate into a larger frame of world oil production; i.e., how does he still get to a world peak in 2008?

The part of Groppe's comments that caught my eye was his price forecast: $65-85, even past peak. His reasoning is that 15 mbd is currently being used for electricity and other non-transportation uses (mostly in the developing world) that are much more substitutable.

That KSA might produce for many years at a high level would not surprise me, given their remaining large endowment. OTOH I would think that a steady rate at a lower level than ~8mb/day would be more conceivable, say 4-6 mb/day given the greater difficulty of extracting the heretofore untapped reserves.

$65-85 bucks for the next 10 years. That caught my eye too! Wonder what his economic assumptions are to make that call...maybe the mother of all recessions or a depression. That would be the only way I might come even close to that forecast.

When a person's income is dependent on what they are making predictions on, the worst case will always be just shy of them losing that income. People tend to have trouble predicting their own demise. Perhaps a cognitive defensive mechanism.

Groppe is wrong for the following reasons.
1) Groppe is assuming coal plants can be built rapidly enough or at all to compensate for the decline in usage of oil for electricity.
2) Groppe is assuming that coal production can be ramped up enough to provide enough coal for 15 million barrels per day of oil equivalent, in addition to growing enough for increasing consumption in developing countries.
3)Groppe is assuming we will have our heads buried in the sand regarding global warming and build coal planst like there is no tommorrow.( He may be right about this one).
4) Groppe is assuming that we can co-ordinate dismantling of 15 million barrels of oil usage for electricity and other purposes and switch around our refineries to produce 15 million barrels of gasoline.Dont think thats so easy.Comments on this would be appreciated.
5) At current coal prices coal is cheaper than fuel oil by about 50%. At $65 a barrel for oil (Groppe's low end) the advantage is so slim that no-one in their right mind would consider dismantaling exsisting oil for electricity plants.
6) Everything is priced at the margin so a little extra demand could put enough upward pressure on coal to double prices. That would hardly be out of place in a world where Oil, Uranium and NG prices have risen by many fold more. At those prices coal and oil would trade at BTu parity making all of this a Moo point i.e. a Cow's opinion as Joey would say.

This guy,s logic has a fatal error, often made by researchers that don't have a firm grasp of the real world's technology:

Groppe says that 15 percent of the world's oil use is largely for power generation and could be replaced by coal.

First error is that these users could afford the technology that allows coal to make electricity. In other words they must invest in power plants, HV electric distribution systems and tranformation facilities. Many third world countires can in no way afford such capital costs because the users could never afford to service that kind of debt. Same goes for nuclear power and even the OPEC countries that are vying for nukes are being thwarted by the US. If it was possible to convert to non oil source of power these countries could have borrowed the $$ from the IMF and built the plants, or foreign utility Cos. would step in and build them.

Second error is that coal produced power and heat is cheaper on a fuel basis. With coal prices syrocketing by as much as four fold in the last two years, I doubt these countires that don't have coal reserves could afford to switch from diesel fuel to coal.

Lastly, as high prices for oil used for power generation wrecks or dimishes the GDP of these lessor countires, the oil will be soaked up by the wealthier countries in the bidding war for oil.

Groppes arguements just don't hold water.

I agree. Points well taken.
Do you have any comment on whether refineries can switch from making fuel oil to gasoline so easily and whether new ones will/can be built in an era of declining oil supply?

I am not an expert on refineries but have some knowledge of coal power production and the marketing/retailing end of the oil business (had family and friends in the business).

As far as switching from gas to diesel, most refineries have the capability to switch the ratio of fuel they make, meaning they will produce some of several grades (gasoline, diesel, kerosene/jet fuel) depending on the facility's equipment. I think modern refineries can do this rather easily. Older refineries in third world countries may not be able to make the switch easily or at all.

Seems like the news media is full of reports of new refineries being built in the OPEC nations to serve the emerging economies of China/Asia, India, and Middle East. Only story I have heard of a new refinery being built in US is in South Dakota to handle Canadian tar sand & other Canadian oil. Most US capacity gains for gas and diesel production have come through refinery expansion.

Thirty years ago refineries had poorer EROEI, using one in four barrels of oil as energy to make the cracking/reformulating process work. Today they consume less than one in six barrels of oil or oil equivilent. Refineries are still large users of natural gas, thus it makes sense to have them near oil producing regions to use stranded gas as a heat and hydrogen source. Same goes for petrochemical plants that produce feedstocks for plastics industry.


Here are some tidbits on Union Pacific's transport of Powder River Basin coal.

The loaded 284 trains last week - one complete train every 101 minutes.

A train contains 130 cars.

A car contains 1,000 tons of coal.

U.P. and B.N.S.F. both service the PRB and carry roughly equal volumes.

My source says this works out to 5,000,000 pounds of coal per minute coming out of the Powder River Basin.

Trying to do something I can call work today so I don't have time to double check this stuff, but thought you guys might like to chew on it a bit.

A typical coal hopper car is more likely carrying between 100 and 120 tons of coal depending on type of car, I don't know what cars they use on the unit trains going to/from PRB but most likely 120 tons.

Also if I'm reading it correct the volumes does differ between UP and BNSF: UP says 293 trains per seven days, BNSF says 50.2 trains per day (351 trains per seven days)

More reading and statistics:

Can you tell from these photos which size cars are in use?


Peabody joins 'GreenGen' to develop near-zero emissions coal plant

The US coal company Peabody Energy Tuesday joined forces with China's major coal enterprises to build the country's first near-zero emission coal-fueled power plant, at a cost of nearly $1 billion.

I don't believe this but I would buy one anyway

Sorry, I failed miserably at my futile attempts viewing the photos: browser tells me I don't have permission to view the page.

The failure is mine - they were set to private. They're viewable now.

Those are Trinity RD-IV cars made by TrinityRail in the 1990's for Union Pacific. Manufactured of aluminium, car weighs 48,600 lbs empty and has a load limit of 237,400 lbs, totalling 286,000 lbs fully loaded.
Pictures seems to indicate they were empty at the time of the wreck?

Nope, chock full - there was a good bit of coal still on the ground, but they'd recovered most of it before I got there.

Can you identify these cars, too?


Did some digging, these are apparently all ex-Algoma Central passenger cars, as described here:

They were sold to the Iowa Northwestern Railroad Co. in May 2001, which used them for summer excursion services and stored them at the present location in March, 2006.
(described here: http://rides.webshots.com/album/40288270EcbcWX?start=0 )

Nice pictures (and the other ones you have in your album too), but it's very sad to see useful passenger cars just fading away like that. Granted, the cars are probably in need of maintenance like truck, brake and electrical overhaul, but still it's got to be cheaper to rebuild than to build new cars. The US will need whatever railroad equipment it can get its hands on if TSHTF..

It appears that they left the cars on that little dab of siding ... and ripped the rest up for shipment to China :-(

There are four metro areas near me and the Okoboji/Spirit Lake location is the only one without rail. They'll be wishing they took those up from the Spirit Lake/Superior run and made a feeder line down to Spencer before too long ...

The failure is mine - they were set to private.


I have not been able to view some of your links before for the same reason ! So I've just been lurking waiting ... for the ... answer !

Sorry - had a stalker a while back, so I deleted a YouTube userid with 800k views and locked down all of my photos. New stuff is open, but some interesting historic ones may still have the FROAD bit set. FROAD? The last words are "And Die" :-)

Yeah, looks like the typical cheap open top hopper car. They have a rather large aerodynamic drag because of the support stringers on the outside and the fact that when empty, the ends of the hopper make great spoilers. I'm surprised that the railroads still use those beasts, but that's likely to change, with oil near $100 per barrel. And, put them into unit trains and the dynamic effects hit the rails with repeated thumps all at the same spot along the track, which tends to cause local failures. As they get older, their shock absorbers wear, which aggravates the low damping at light load which is a characteristic of the "trucks".

Eric Swanson

(Having trouble with our math today?)

The[y] loaded 284 trains last week - one complete train every 101 minutes.

That's about 35 minutes, actually.

A car contains 1,000 tons of coal.

Already corrected in your other reply.

My source says this works out to 5,000,000 pounds of coal per minute coming out of the Powder River Basin.

With the correct inputs, I get about 1,000,000 pounds per minute.

My source got into the rock cocaine and I was trying to get that tidbit out whilst working. We came up with much different sets of numbers, lots of additional info, etc. I must massage it into a coherent post one of these days soon ...

A couple of days ago the question was asked about 'economic meltdown' and 'fears' over that.


People in one Milwaukee neighborhood got postcards saying mail delivery could stop if crime gets out of hand.

And a historical reaction to 'a bad economy' Sam byck

DART--the mass transit agency in the Dallas area--has suspended bus service to some neighborhoods at night because of crime and vandalism.

From the Housing Bubble Blog:

. . . going long apples and boxes. . .

“The chief executives for two of the nation’s dominant mortgage-finance companies traveled to Wall Street yesterday. Richard F. Syron, Freddie Mac CEO and Fannie Mae CEO, Daniel H. Mudd, forecast continued declines in home prices. Syron predicted home prices would ultimately bottom out at an average of 10 percent below their peaks, and Mudd predicted average peak-to-trough declines of 10 to 12 percent nationally.”

“But Syron outdid Mudd in expressing remorse for past business decisions and in describing the trouble that may lie ahead. If home prices decline by 30 percent, as one noted economist has said could happen, ‘We’re all going long apples and boxes to sell them in,’ Syron said, invoking an image from the Great Depression.”

“Syron traced the trouble in the mortgage business to a housing bubble and accepted some responsibility. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac contributed to the problem by spreading the message that everybody should own a house, he said. In fact, many people who should not have owned houses bought them, he said.”

“One questioner accused Syron of making a strategic error in failing to adjust to clear signs of looming trouble as early as 2005. Syron agreed that Freddie Mac should have tightened its lending standards sooner. Although Freddie Mac was an early bear about the real estate market, he said, it did not foresee the severity of the problem.”

Timeline of the Great Depression

February, 1931 -- "Food riots" begin to break out in parts of the U.S. In Minneapolis, several hundred men and women smashed the windows of a grocery market and made off with fruit, canned goods, bacon, and ham. One of the store's owners pulled out a gun to stop the looters, but was leapt upon and had his arm broken. The "riot" was brought under control by 100 policemen. Seven people were arrested.

The big question and problem for governments, is when family members of the police end up being in the crowd. Once police sympathize, because they too are being affected, then the masses will get almost free reign in the streets. Use the National Guard? They too have families.

I've been in a couple of good sized civil disturbances with tear gas and police in riot gear. There are two sorts of folks there - those with uniforms and those without.

The police will do their best to keep things nice and tidy. Its just in the nature of almost all of those who wear badges. Tearing stuff up would just make a bad situation worse ...

Supposedly, the way they kept order in North Korea during the famines was to feed the army preferentially.

Our army is pretty tubby as it is, with weight standards having been relaxed due to the war. Soon they won't fit in their body armor.

Excuse me, but I live next to Fort Campbell, home of the 101st and there are no "pretty tubby" soldiers around here. I may not care for their current mission, but today's soldiers are superb specimens physically.


I've been in a couple of good sized civil disturbances with tear gas and police in riot gear. There are two sorts of folks there - those with uniforms and those without.

Unless they are on BOTH sides :-)

Tearing stuff up would just make a bad situation worse ...

Unless, THAT is your intention.

"Police dressing up like Protesters"

Watch this video, VERY funny. Watch as a real protester trys to take off the mask of the "Fake" protester. Then watch the "Fake" protester's mingle back in with police.

Police accused of using provocateurs at summit

OTTAWA – Protesters are accusing police of using undercover agents to provoke violent confrontations at the North American leaders' summit in Montebello, Que.

Such accusations have been made before after similar demonstrations but this time the alleged "agents provocateurs" have been caught on camera.

A video, posted on YouTube, shows three young men, their faces masked by bandannas, mingling Monday with protesters in front of a line of police in riot gear. At least one of the masked men is holding a rock in his hand.

The three are confronted by protest organizer Dave Coles, president of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada. Coles makes it clear the masked men are not welcome among his group of protesters, whom he describes as mainly grandparents. He urges them to leave and find their own protest location.

Coles also demands that they put down their rocks. Other protesters begin to chime in that the three are really police agents. Several try to snatch the bandanas from their faces.

Rather than leave, the three actually start edging closer to the police line, where they appear to engage in discussions. They eventually push their way past an officer, whereupon other police shove them to the ground and handcuff them.


This is a video they are talking about. You gotta watch it. It's SOO funny.

Google 'Montebello police dressing like protesters'


Sometimes the "Cowboys" dress up like "Indians"

Now are all those Terrorists, REALLY terrorists???

Just asking...

That is when revolutions work- when the elite lose support of the army and the police. Happened in the French Revolution. Lenin and the Bolsheviks walked into Moscow without hardly a shot fired.
It is over when the elite can no longer violently enforce their will.

Which suggests that subjecting the police/military to verbal abuse or worse is actually very counterproductive and stupid. The hippie peacenik girls putting flowers in the rifle barrels while they wiggled their hips and winked at the soldiers probably had a better idea. ;-)

Under the U.S.'s post 9/11 security redesign, military protection of
the homeland has become the province of the newly created North
Command, now housed in a Colorado bunker.
www.northcom.mil Adm. Timothy J. Keating (USN)
I made a copy of their urban warfare plan, never looked at it, http://www.mindfully.org/Reform/2006/NORTHCOM-Urban-Operations6dec06.htm My sugestion is that the police organize a constutional convention. I think they have another three days. The church people got together and worked to avoid the bus strike and related blue flu.
They did this before with the walking school bus.
Which also stoped martial law from being imposed.
which did hapen in puerto rico and no one said anything.
one quote " It's much quieter since the soldiers left "
so how are things in New Orleans ?

The rationale for continuing service in the area is just stupid - some old people don't drive. If that were a problem here one of the more able older persons would form a little club, picking up three neighbors and going off to the post office. Where is the sense of community? Aren't these old people church going folk? That is another organizational vehicle besides simple physical proximity.

I think a lot of that low level criminality is going to get treated very, very, very harshly. If you're out on the street acting stupid falling against the Maglite(r) will be the start of every discussion. I'm all in favor of the rule of the law, but a little officer discretion goes a long way in those situations. I really hope they'll get a WPA/CCC type thing rolling right away - nothing messes with a person more than being unemployed/underemployed when work is desired.

A new motto for street level law enforcement in tough neighborhoods?

In the absence of respect fear will do nicely.

Door-to-door mail delivery is probably going to be one of those things that eventually go. Eventually, when motor fuel prices go high enough, the USPS just won't be able to afford it. A century from now, it will be as much of a fading memory as twice-daily deliveries are. (Were - how many of you even knew that this used to be common in the cities?)

Everyone will be required to rent a PO box and get their mail there. This would actually increase motor fuel use if everyone drove to the PO everyday to pick up their mail. More likely, what will happen is that people will only go to pick up their mail once or twice a week unless they live within a close walk from the PO. In many cases, neighbors will arrange to pick up each other's mail. Rural areas will go back to the isolation that was the norm prior to Rural Free Delivery.

A nice little job opportunity will develop for those that contract to pick up mail from the PO and deliver it (maybe by bicycle) for a fee.

Yup. That's how it was only a few years ago where my parents live. Everyone had a PO box in town. You had to go in anyway, to work or shop, so checking the mail was no big deal. And yes, neighbors would pick up your stuff for you if they were there. Everyone knew everyone, so all you needed on a letter was your name, and it would get to you.

UPS did not deliver; not enough people to make it worth their while. But Sears had an office in town. You'd mail in your order, and it would be delivered to the Sears office. They'd give you a call and tell you to come pick it up.

Rural mail delivery here is performed by just plain folks - you see all sorts of different vehicles with the little yellow rotating light on top and a person sitting right in the middle of the bench seat so they can drive and deliver.

We're 1 jump ahead and 2 behind.

Anyone living in town must use a PO box and pick up their mail. No town delivery whatsoever. However, there is RFD delivery outside of town, to your mail box if on established RFD route.

Other crazy thing is that to mail to an address in town, or across the street for a bill, the mail is first shipped to the city, then sent back up for box distribution the next day.

Our local (rural) mailbox has been pilfered lately. Some poor soul lost a paycheck and I don't think has resolved the issue yet. Most of us have PO boxes for any important mail. They can steal all the junk mail they want.

There is the possibility of rural locked mailboxes, but I understand they are pricey.

Yeah. We actually had Rural Route delivery. (A mile or so hike to the highway.) There was a whole forest of mailboxes at every junction - one for everyone who lived on the side road.

But no one ever used them, for fear of theft. They all used PO boxes.

Including us. I hiked a mile to the junction every day to catch the school bus, and waited right by the mailboxes. But we never used ours.

Ahh more memories of the 70s, lots of hungry people around means mail gets stolen.

We use a PO box here and check it a time or two a week. There are long lines of boxes at each intersection here, but I think a lot of those will develop padlocks once things get a little worse.

Kevin Costner, post-apocalypse "Postman", will return to save both the USPS and TWAWKI.

And if the postman delivers via a bike? What then?

In the UK the door to door deliver is via a postman (or useless woman in my case) with a bike and a collection of bags.

Vans are for large parcels only.

The French Quarter and a few other places in New Orleans have walking delivery routes. Our mailman (who has two routes due to lack of resources from GWB administration and often delivers my mail after 8 PM) drives 0.9 to 1.0 miles from the branch or main PO, parks on the corner (by the hydrant, always open, USPO never ticketed) and delivers mail for 2x3 block area on foot, then goes on to next stop. My side of 1300 block of St. Andrew has 4 (soon 5) + 6 + 7 addresses. Other side 12 + 6 + 2 + 6 addresses AFAIK, but we are a denser block than most (Coliseum around the corner has zero addresses for one block to to way homes front the street). His two routes are never more than 1.5 miles from Post Office. An EV could do the job easily and well with low electrical consumption.

Such are the indirect energy savings from TOD.

So, 6 times/week delivery by foot or simple EV to TOD areas, 1 time per week to paid for PO Box in Suburbia. I have learned from Cheney et al. Throttle postal delivery if you are trying to kill a place.

As far as stealing mail, amidst our other crimes, that one is simply not done.

Hey, I think this is worth watching... very cool mix of infography and historical images.

First four minutes of a new action movie, "The Kingdom": Examining the turbulent history of the United States' involvement in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

WoW! Oil up $4.58 barrel to $94.65 gonna hit a $100 before 12/31?

I pointed out over on Robert's thread that at the current rate of increase--about $1 per hour--WTI would cross $100 tonight. I can't believe the volatility in the oil markets. I can only guess that part of it must be a short squeeze going on.

Oil is backing off a little now as the equity markets do an end-of-day swan dive. I suspect you're right about the short squeeze. Between the expected 1/2 point rate cut and inventory increase that didn't materialize, I suspect that some people betting against oil got "caught short".

For all the talk about speculators bidding up the price of oil, there has been a significant camp of speculators shorting oil throughout the recent run-up in prices. Maybe they read a lot of Yergin.

Hahaha! Oil just dropped more than $6/bbl before bouncing back to 89.29 (down 5.10). The drop took less than 30 minutes. Very curious.

Mystery solved. From a Bloomberg article:

Earlier trades reported by Nymex of as low as $87.86 were caused by a technical fault, he said.

Deforestation credits

What changes if this week A burns coal and B conserves the forest, next week same thing but A pays B? In physical terms there is no extra CO2 absorption. Somehow this can be used to justify not cutting back on coal. Instead B should get a carbon debit for burning the forest. It's like paying an extortionist not to commit a crime.

There are more problems. Ongoing carbon capture by mature forest works in the rainy tropics, not temperate or boreal zones. Not only is it likely the amounts are exaggerated but there should be disallowance for subsequent drought, fire and disease. The fact that disallowance never happens is a clue to the fact it's a con; A gets off the hook cheaply with emissions and B gets a little extra. That money will probably still not prevent illegal logging.

If this the kind of thing the Bali conference comes up with then we're a long way from a solution.

Cap and Trade? Call it Crap and Trade, as this is a better way to describe it.

The only way to emit less CO2 is ... shockingly ... to emit less CO2. Schemes for moving money around? That creates revenue streams in the form of fees, which pleases a certain class, and it allows another class to pollute here and claim its being offset there, thusly blunting criticism from local activists.

They'll carry on with this "economics" until a real science, say a combination of physics and chemistry, makes it impossible for mobs of people to go jetting away to discuss fantasies.

Or, in other words, Papal Indulgences.


Ongoing carbon capture by mature forest works in the rainy tropics, not temperate or boreal zones

However, replanting forests cleared a thousand years ago in Iceland certainly captures carbon. 6 billion metric tonnes were released when they were cleared of small trees. Replanting them with dramatically larger trees (Sitka Spruce, Lodgepole Pine, Siberian Larch) is a clear positive.

Best Hopes for Skogar,


I thought that some of you might appreciate this link, especially the "older hippies" on this forum:

Access to Tools

The Whole Earth Catalog, originally published in 1968, had one of the most arresting covers in 20th-century publishing: an image of the Earth as seen from space. The idea for the picture came to Stewart Brand, Whole Earth’s publisher, in 1966, when, in the throes of an acid trip, he thought, “Seeing an image of the earth from space would change a lot of things.”...

Ah, yes, the good old Whole Earth Catalog. I read each edition, cover to cover, multiple times. A lot of the useful little things I know, I first heard about in the Whole Earth Catalog.

It is somewhat true that the Internet has taken its place, yet it really hasn't. The trouble with the internet is that all websites are created equal, but they really are not; some are much more valuable and useful than others. Various people and organizations have attempted to catalog or index the web, and those efforts are useful. However, we really never got got something that pulled digital and non-digital information together, organized it in a useful form, and surrounded it with editorial evaluation, all focused on information that is actually useful for people to use in living their lives. "Access to Tools" indeed.

The National Lampoon did a satire on the addenda: "The Last, Really, No Shit, Really, The Last Supplement to the Whole Earth Catalog."

Brand's a member of the Long Now Foundation, too, attempting to get people to think on long time scales.

Record High on WTI Crude

I believe the nymex crude contract for December 2016 hit an all-time record today at 89.09. To my knowledge that is that highest for the most distant contract.

In Greenspan's autobiography, he points out that these long-dated contracts (distant futures) are very important to the fed.

See also his 2004 speech:

Those guys are shitting themselves. Hence, no 1/2 cut yesterday and the introduction of completely new methods of opaquely injecting more cash directly through other channels.

Hopefully this isn't old news, but i haven't seen it. . . .

One of my friends is looking in to cashing out his Vanguard 401K via the online interface ... and it says "We can not process your request at this time". We've just had the "turn it all into junk silver" IM chat and I think he might just do it.

Has anyone else seen/heard of barriers to exit on 401K? We know there are institutional troubles all over ... is it starting to seep down to individuals already?

The BoA freeze earlier this week is the handwriting on the wall. Pixels on a screen and ink on paper are not doing so hot and that is a permanent, long term trend.

Best hopes for friends & family getting under cover ASAP.

No of course there are no troubles .... go back to sleep ...... rockabye baby, in the tree top ......

Has anyone else seen/heard of barriers to exit on 401K?

Now, You SHOULD have cashed out in 2004ish. $400 Au, and $7 Ag, Ah, Those were the days :-)

Well, I got this, Saw it on Nouriel Roubini's blog.

A couple days ago I suggested that hardship withdrawals from 401k plans by a rising tide of hand-to-mouth, no savings unemployed would lead the market down as they struggle to keep their homes. The evidence is beginning to come through:


"Nearly 20% of companies reported an increase in loans and hardship withdrawals from 401(k) plans during the fourth quarter, according to a survey of corporate executives and chief financial officers by Duke University and CFO magazine. The most common reason: to make mortgage payments."

And my Financial Friend told me this,

Yeah, I saw this. For some companies, their personnel departments are swamped with hardship cases for 401 (k) loans.

It is a last gasp to be sure, and very inefficient taxwise I am given to understand.

What a mess!

My ex got the judge to order me to liquidate all of my inventory so she could pay lots of overdue bills around the end of 2003. *sniff* As soon as it was done she and the kids were off to Disneyland for a week. I was just getting things put back together and I've never really recovered - the nature of things changed due to Chinese counterfeits in the space where I used to sell a lot of gear and its been ugly since then.

I am already adapted to having no money and the system being against me.

SCT I am in the process of getting used to those circumstances myself. Of course you're far, far richer than I'll ever be, you own the land you live on etc.

But yeah, no moolah and the system being well, it sounds paranoid but ... in so many ways just plain out to get me .....

Can't work "on the books" for 2-3 years and from the looks of it the US economy will be a smoldering heap by then.....

I think there's a certain amount of splurging perhaps on the part of these 401k emergency loan types because things get just so BAD and people want a bit of a break, but mostly is *is* need. Now, I mean, not in 0203 when things were still on the up and up.

Not owned, but a small mortgage, and it isn't my name on it. The plan is sale next spring and then unless by some magic I can afford it I am in the same position as you ... and I fear I'll be joining many of my countrymen.

I am lucky to be independent, or I'd have been garnished unto death, too.

The whole country is about to go into that tunnel that divorced men know so well ... and there isn't going to be any coming out the other side :-(

SCT, Fleam:

You flipped your coin and lost.

I suspect that relationships in general are still marginally better than a zero-sum game--it's just that you came out on the wrong side of it. I wish you the best of luck next time.

Seriously, fortune favors the bold (says the barely repentant coward).


After a certain age people stop being single and start being "single for a darned good reason". I have learned to recognize the females my age thusly afflicted, but I am growing concerned that I may be their natural counterpart :-(

One of my friends is looking in to cashing out his Vanguard 401K via the online interface ... and it says "We can not process your request at this time".

You do realize that's precisely the message you get from every other website when there's a server glitch, yes?

It's an enormous leap to go from "the web interface is giving me problems" to "the banks are collapsing!1!" It's like taking a lack of light as evidence that the power company has collapsed instead of evidence that your light bulb blew.

Servers get flooded at times when there are an unusual number of requests.....

It's an enormous leap to go from "the web interface is giving me problems" to "the banks are collapsing!1!"

And what is your point?

If you are in favor of open records so that people can have trust in large organizations, come out and say such.

If you are in favor of open records so that people can have trust in large organizations, come out and say such.

That has nothing to do with anything I've said.

Indeed, all I've really said is "there's a simple and common explanation for what you saw, so that's probably more likely to be what caused it than some extremely rare occurrence". Very simple and narrow statement.

That was eric blair. What did you expect? Mmmm. Pitt. You're good stuff. But you need some schooling.

Very simple and narrow statement.

Yes. Indeed.

I just tend to assume the guy who developed the capacity planning intranet for a Fortune 500 company knows a little bit about how web browsers and backend applications work. Wasn't sure how to convey that without sounding ... snotty ... so I didn't say anything, but this is the case.

A financial institution of that size would not generally be subject to random misbehavior in a line of business web interface the public sees. OK, once in a while, but all afternoon without some sort of backout plan being activated? It seemed administrative in nature rather than an error.

Did I declare "the banks are collapsing!1!1!"? Nope, reported what I heard, queried to see if anyone else had similar experiences, and one person came across with a nice link indicating we might just be seeing that administrative move mentioned above.

I just tend to assume the guy who developed the capacity planning intranet for a Fortune 500 company knows a little bit about how web browsers and backend applications work.

You'd be surprised. In real-life only a few do.

In real-life, those managerial types learn their "IT" and "programming" from seminars and online degree programs. They are the same people who discovered email 2-years ago, still can't operate their cell-phones, and need to pay their girlfriends' boyfriends $120 an hour to move their songs from their computer to their iPod.

I would know. I've been every link in the story I just told you. And the upper level finance you alluded to... let's just say I know something about that, too. Our system relies on idiots. Don't disparage them. After all...

And remember, these are Fortune 500 companies. It's hit or miss. Which Fortune 500 companies?

Wasn't Polaroid a Fortune 500 company? It probably still is.


He and I have both been insulted by Theo. Neither of us can get anywhere on our computer by pressing the "Start" button. A PHB where he works came up with the requirement today that he write a function to reverse a string(!) He cheerfully did this, but used recursion to solve the problem. I have a Capain Crunch whistle on my shelf. He envies this. We know the extremely pink boss can be replaced with a very small shell script, but that might reduce overall slack as well as being a rather inelegant bit of code.

So ... we don't typically make mistakes assessing the source of system misbehavior ... unless, of course, we're somehow culpable :-)

I'm guessing from this post that you are "Head of IT" for a small Fortune 500 company?

Am I right?

"small" Fortune 500 Company. Get it?

Let me re-phrase that. A ruined hedge-fund. But you don't want to take the blame. Without any new ideas, you twiddled away time in your office on TOD pretending you were gonna be the next big name in "Peak Oil."

But knowing nothing about oil you...

Alas, I have been found out, and I will now have to retire from the field in embarrassment, perhaps covering my head with a brown paper bag when I go out in public.

Don't do that in Iowa. People will talk. :)

A PHB where he works came up with the requirement today that he write a function to reverse a string(!)

I'm not sure what you mean. This is the first week in second-semester CompSci. It's good to know PHB's are testing the newbies ;)

I just tend to assume the guy who developed the capacity planning intranet for a Fortune 500 company knows a little bit about how web browsers and backend applications work.

Glitches happen sometimes, and not even necessarily in their application. Could be network trouble with their provider. Could be a DDoS attack. Could be big companies sometimes have old code or poor programmers (you don't want to know the amount of cobol still floating around).

all afternoon without some sort of backout plan being activated? It seemed administrative in nature rather than an error.

If it was all afternoon, that would suggest something persistent. My first guesses would be server problems (either crashed or down for upgrade) or network problems (too much legit traffic, DDoS attack, upstream problems, etc.).

Think of it this way: if a major investment house had had minor computer snafus in their web interface, would we hear about it? Unlikely. Would we have hear about it if they'd been refusing to give people back their money? Much more likely - that kind of news travels quickly.

There's been no news of broad-based trouble like that with Vanguard, suggesting that it hasn't been a widespread problem. Accordingly, the simple explanation - computer problems - seems the most likely.

Did I declare "the banks are collapsing!1!1!"?

No, but neither did I say you did; all I said was that it would be an enormous leap to conclude that. However, what you said was:

"The BoA freeze earlier this week is the handwriting on the wall. Pixels on a screen and ink on paper are not doing so hot and that is a permanent, long term trend.

Best hopes for friends & family getting under cover ASAP."

...which is not so far away from what I was cautioning against.

one person came across with a nice link indicating we might just be seeing that administrative move mentioned above.

It indicated nothing of the sort.

Only one link has been given in response to you, and that link said that more people are tapping into their 401k savings, and that it's a dumb idea to do so. It said nothing about them having any trouble getting the investment houses involved to release the money.

NYMEX crude just dropped about $5 from $94 to just over $89. What's up with that? Talk about volatility! Did Cushing just thaw?

NYMEX announced problems with all Crude Oil and Crude Product Futures trading quotes, and has re-booted, with a pre-open at 18:45 NY Time, and a new open at 19:00 NY Time. (About 1 minute from now).

The price prints at 89.00 therefore are nothing but glitches.



PS: NYMEX electronic has just re-opened, with Front Month at 94.17. And the next month at 94.10.

January Crude is now down $6.53 to $87.86. They need to get that glitch fixed soon before we drop to one Yergin.

The time of that quote was 00:04



Ron Patterson

Livecharts shows it close to $94 again.


Tapis is approaching $100 again, at $99.61.

Hello TODers,

I am trying to find info on how to achieve the best human transport efficiency for moving NPK and other bulkloads as we go postPeak. So far it has not been easy. There are lots of websites that are sports-oriented: best way to paddle, best way to pedal for top athletes--not much help.

What I am shooting for is a table of human power vs cargo weight moved vs time. For example: is it better for a pedaling bicycle-only human to move 25 cargo lbs sixty miles in eight hours [7.5 mph], or to SpiderWebRide a combo of aerofoil-canoe/railbike with 200 cargo-lbs 50 miles in eight hours [6.25 mph], or reg canoe/railbike 1000 lbs 20 miles in the same time [2.5 mph]? I just picked these numbers--I have no idea if they are reasonable.

The Human Engine

Consider now the human engine. In 1983 Douglas Malewicki gave a landmark paper at the International Human Powered Vehicle Association Scientific Symposium, in which he presented a graph showing the maximum duration of human effort for various steady power levels. This graph has been reproduced below for convenience. Notice from the graph that an average "healthy human" can produce a steady 0.1 horsepower for a full eight hour period, while a "first class athlete" can produce 0.4 horsepower for a similar period. Note that each data point on the curves represents an exhausted human. No more power is available without some rest and recovery. Thus at 0.4 hp the "healthy human" becomes exhausted within 10 minutes!

te that in the power equation the units of power is watts (W), however we can apply the conversion 0.1 hp = 75 W (approximately) in reading the graph. Once you have decided the steady power level that you can comfortably apply at the pedals, it would be of interest to know the velocity that you will achieve at steady state when all other parameters are maintained at constant values.
So if the average human can only output 75 watts: is there any charts that apply this to moving cargoes vs time vs distance? The top speed records in HPVehicles are not reasonable for post-FF cargo-movement. Thxs for any replies.

In this next link, please see the photo of a guy pedaling 1,000 lbs--would this be better accomplished by railbike/canoe combo?


Is there a site for canoesatwork and/or railbikesatwork with a similar calculator?

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

Hi Bob;
To play a little with that thought experiment, I would suggest that for the great flat stretches where we would hope to keep moving that NPK around and get some food happening, that Hard Wheels on Rails with Sails sounds kind of appealing to me. (Pedals, too)

I was playing with a boat design in NYC when I lived there, with a 'Carousel' of Sails whose ideal goal was to be able to make headway directly into the wind. With a very inefficient model, I made it to 'standstill', and if I try it again at the boatpond here in Portland, I know I can do it.. as I suspect it has been done before. (Two hulls, Six Sails and a paddlewheel, direct belt drive system.. no steering and too much excess boat sticking up into the wind..)

Anyway, if you applied that to a vehicle anchored to some clean rails, you should be able to make progress with wind from any direction.. and then add the pedal power to that.. Of course you can roof the vehicle with Solar, as well, if you want to boost the costs a bunch more, and then you'd be making some headway!

Bob Fiske

Hello Jokuhl,

Thxs for responding. The best minimal success for postPeak society is if HPVs can get the NPK out to the fields, then the food back in to the TODs. Now, I am certainly not an expert, but this link is interesting in terms of the timing and amounts [dated 1991, but I don't think things have changed appreciably]:

Fertilizer application timing

Of the estimated 57 million corn acres treated in the 10 States, 28 percent were treated once, 41 percent twice, and 26 percent three times.

Fertilizer was applied to 97 percent of the 58.8 million corn acres planted in the 10 surveyed States in 1990: 97 percent of the acres received nitrogen, 85 percent received phosphate, and 77 percent received potash (12). Average application rates for those corn acres receiving a particular nutrient stood at 132 pounds per acre for nitrogen, 60 pounds for phosphate, and 84 pounds for potash.
So, we are looking at roughly 250 lbs per acre, probably more if some percentage is postPeak TOD organic compost and humanure. If 60-75% of the former white collar workers and unemployed service workers move to SpiderWebRiding--> can they move sufficient NPK tons for synchronicity with the planting cycle to still allow some degree of job specialization?

The first load for the first acre obviously doesn't have to travel very far, the question is: can we railpedal 250/acre, in a timely fashion, to every acre 20 miles out? 40 miles out? 100 miles out? 200 miles out? This is where I need to be an engineer to answer these questions.

Try to imagine SpiderWebbers moving potash from the LA seaport to the central agricultural valleys in CA without FFs [assume diesel is so expensive only farm tractors are legislatively allowed to have diesel]. Can these valleys be adequately supplied with NPK if 5 million LA citizens are pedaling the loads from Long Beach to Bakersfield, and other ag areas?

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

It's amazing how much more "fit" a person can get at bike-riding, from a starting point of maybe not ridden or not ridden since they were a kid. It's got to be something like a 1 -> 10 ratio.

The good old bike can do a LOT.

Hi Bob,

Do have any links to concept pictures of what your spider web rail bikes would look like? If not, maybe you should put out the call for some amateur artists at TOD to make some sketches to convey the idea.

In your quest for efficient transportation ideas for bulk goods you have probably realized by now that the best variables to play with are friction and resistance. Human power output is pretty tightly constrained within a small range - it is useful to know, but not really changeable.

An easy example is pulling my kid on the sled: very easy on snow (low friction, low resistance) but very tough on dry pavement (high friction, high resistance). Same kid, same sled, same Dad - but a big change in resistance and friction.

How about human powered pipelines? My understanding is that pipelines are very efficient mass movers. So fill a pipeline with water, load airtight canisters of spheres full of bulk goods (and enough air for bouyancy), and use human power (or intermittant renewable power like wind or solar) to circulate the water.

I haven't thought out the details (since it just came to mind 30 seconds ago) but if you had twinned pipes (like a double barrel shotgun) with one running from Town A to Town B and the other running vice-versa, then the energy needed is minimal (I think). I think this because my memory of fluid dynamics says that in a closed loop the rising fluid balances the falling fluid and the only power needed to move the fluid is to overcome resistance.

Any Mechanical Engineers in the crowd? My training was in Manufacturing Engineering - so I can build it, but I am not 100% sure why the physics work :-)

So recirculating the water up and down hills should be easy, but I am not really sure what happens to the cargo cylinders when they need to go downhill if they have a tendency to float. Maybe the cargo cylinders should have neutral bouyancy? I like the idea of spheres too because they would turn corners easily so the pipeline could dodge around existing infrastructure. And I had the vision of them popping up a standpipe at the receiving end.

If using human power then the nice part is you do not have to leave your community to transport goods. Just do your shift at the pump pedalling station. Also no need to move the mass of the human and no wind resistance.

What do you think?

Greg in MO

Hello Greg in MO,

Thxs for responding with ideas. Every little bit helps.

I have pictures in my head, but I don't know how to do CAD/CAM. I welcome any help by other TODers. I think it would be 'real neato-keeno' if we could repeat the WWW-mindmeld with SpiderWebRiding like what SS, Euan, F-F, and other TODers did with the Aramco oil-sat graphic for Ghawar. As mentioned before: I am not an engineer or scientist--> I am hoping some geniuses will step up to help carry the load.

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

Don't worry about CAD yet. That comes much later. Simple sketching with pencil and paper is where design work starts. The sketches are then fed into a scanner and shared online. I remember when faxes got common and we engineers and designers thought it was the ultimate in idea sharing :-)

So in your vision of spider web riding are the "bikes" above (on) the rails or below them (suspended)? On the rails probably needs a pair of rails. Below them can maybe be done with a single rail. A whole different support system is needed for each option.

Hopefully somebody with pipeline or fluid dynamics knowledge will comment on the pipeline idea above...

Greg in MO

Hello Greg in MO,

In my mind: I am picturing the railbike riding atop the rails [one on each canal wall] so the weight helps traction, and the rider is in the breeze to help stay cool. The cargo canoe is directly behind and below: the SpiderRider just pedals along--doesn't have to worry about steering the cargocanoe--it will stay centered in the canal.

The canal itself is aboveground as much as possible--nobody likes digging! It could be made of local stone/adobe, or sawed up concrete recycled from the transforming TODs and permaculture suburbs [Go Alan Drake!].

Another advantage of the railbike being up is that if deadheading of a empty canoe is required, it can be lifted clear of the water, then strapped onto the underside of the railbike--no sense having the wasted energy of a wetted drag back.

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

OK, I can sketch what I think you are describing. I'll email you a copy if you send me an address. Mine is g_baka2002 at yahoo

Do remember that water always seeks it's own level - so a canal is a MAJOR cut-and-fill project. The hills are excavated down (cut) and the valleys are filled in (fill). So following natural stream beds and river beds is a big advantage because they are already generally level. Along existing railroad right of ways is another generally flat area.

I believe most of the original US canals had a substantial flow pattern from the midwest towards the east coast. This gave the midwesterners an economic advantage because their products could go to the population centers easier and cheaper than early factory-made goods could go from east to west. This gave the new small-scale industries in the midwest a chance to get established. Jack Lessinger describes some other interesting effects of our various early transportation systems in his book Schizomania
You would find some interesting ideas there!

Greg in MO

There is a simpler way to think of the problem.
Can the fertiliser transport increase corn production?
Can the increased corn production increase biofuel production?
Can the increased biofuel production increase fertiliser transport?
I assume that our fertiliser is produced by natural gas and exports being sold to purchase fertiliser, because I don't think we can burn corn to make nitrates at an energy profit.

I'm a Mechanical Engineer...well, an Aerospace Engineer working as an ME anyway. If the destination is uphill, then just make the spheres positive bouyancy and no human power is needed. Just some sort of airlock mechanism to get the spheres into the water tube and bang zoom they do the long slow float to the next destination. For the down hill, no water is needed and you have a little kid marble game.

Would not the piping have to be completely full of water to minimize the pumping energy required? That way it is simply a recirculating loop.

So I think bouyant spheres would still have a problem moving downhill. Sure would be nice if I was wrong though...

Is there an easy way to get to neutral bouyancy?

Greg in MO

Hello EntropyBrain,

Cool thinking for solving the problem of getting bulkloads up & down steep mountain grades--kudos! Patent the idea quickly for the postPeak age! Do you have any ideas on how big the pipes would have to be, the internal spheres, and upward float speeds? Say roughly: 100 lbs of NPK or 100 lbs of grain/sphere popping out every minute? Throw some big ball bearings into the grain on the downhill 'marble run'-->instant ground and sifted flour or cornmeal! =)

Some of the windturbines would pump seawater, and maybe some other windturbines could pump pressurized air to give an initial torpedo ejection boost uphill. My feeble two cents.

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

Thanks Bob,
Amazing how a good night sleep and a fresh cup of coffee shines the light on the problems, though. I picture an asymmetric bubble of air inside of a sphere preventing it from rolling. Instead it would just wobble like a Weeble (sticking with children's game analogy). So, I'm picturing a sphere inside of a sphere where the outer wall is the pocket of air to help create buoyancy.

Also worried about water pressure.

Hi EntropyBrain,

To simply move things up and down a SINGLE slope the effects of floating and rolling (or sliding) could be very useful. Like for getting things to and from a small mountain top. Also you it could make a pretty spectacular elevator system for a tall building :-)

But it does NOT work for moving material from city where stretches of relatively flat ground intervene. For that I think the pipes need to be completely filled fully along their length - a closed loop system. Then the water is recirculated, which takes relatively little energy to do, to transport to spheres or torpedos full of materials.

Closed loop solar hot water systems use very small recirculating pumps to move the fluid up and down mutiple stories. Also picture the pnuematic canister systems used in some bank drive-through lanes (though they are not closed loop)

May the material containers should be bouyant (to avoid friction of dragging along the bottom of the pipe) but also have external casters or rollerballs to avoid dragging along the top of the pipe. Then add some hinged skirting (like mini-sails) to the containers to give the moving water something to push against for those downhill sections...hmmm

Greg in MO

Just did a Google search on "Recirculating Pipelines" - they already have been invented.

In fact there is research being done on them in my city! Here is a link to more info on what they have come up with so far:

From the research description:

Capsule Pipeline is the transport of freight (solids) in capsules (containers or vehicles) moving through pipelines. When the fluid used for propelling the capsules in the pipe is air or another gas, it is called pneumatic capsule pipeline (PCP); when the fluid for propelling the capsules is water or another liquid, it is called hydraulic capsule pipeline (HCP). Both PCP and HCP have distinct characteristics and have niches or 'windows of opportunity'

The University of Missouri-Columbia (UMC) has been engaged in capsule pipeline research since 1975. In 1991, UMC applied for and won the approval of the National Science Foundation (NSF) to set up a Capsule Pipeline Research Center (CPRC) as an NSF State/Industry University Cooperative Research Center (State/IUCRC). It was one of the first four State/IUCRCs established by NSF and the first pipeline research center at universities in the United States. The purpose of CPRC is to conduct extensive research and development (R&D) in capsule pipeline so that this emerging technology can be used commercially for transporting freight including coal, other minerals, solid wastes, mail, parcels and many other products.


A unique and very interesting vision you have.

Helpful reading:

Mises article:

Are Carbon Emissions the Cause of Global Warming


Date: Tue, 11 Dec 2007 10:05:33 -0500

Answer: maybe, but with an 800 year lag.

For more facts, not dogma, please email me at the address at the end and I will sent you an HTML file from the National Post of June 07 ( climate research by Carleton Univ. oceanographer).

Summary: Climate changes. Always has. Always will.
AND it has left an impeccable record of its' past doings.

Presently we are in the last few years of a minor warm period. To be followed by 50 years or so of much colder climate.

Fact: 1934 was the warmest year of the period 1900-2000.

Fact: H2O vapour is 95% of any "greenhouse gas effect"

Fact: There is no evidence of any "greenhouse gas effect" which would manifest itself first at a 10 km altitude between lat 30N & lat 30S. No evidence.

Polar bears have been around a long time. They are actually brown bears adapted to the snow & ice. They are not "threatened" by anything humans have any control over and have survived many "hot" & "cold" spells in the past.

PS: The Martian atmosphere is 100% CO2.
Anybody up for surfing on Mars next weekend?
It's a toasty -100C. (the CO2 effect)

For Carleton U. file email: snowbird@123mail.org
For Mises file email articles@mises.org


Lets say your position is 100% correct.

Now, when ya gonna get to a plan to not invest further in coastal areas as they are at risk to being underwater?


Mises.org also publishes stuff equating peak oilers with Hitler.

Yeah, that's real nonbiased source.

imho the thread parent also seems to be phishing for email addys.

Mr. Totoneila Sir,

You seem to have acquired a climate change denialist troll. May I squish it for you?



Not just any troll. I usually get the impression trolls just like to watch people dance in anger.

This one seems to have drunk the koolaid:


A libertarian economic think tank in Auburn, Alabama:
"The Institute's stated goal is to undermine statism in all its forms."


"opposing government intervention as economically and socially destructive."

Your reference to MARS for earth's tendencies (or not) to global warming has no basis.

Mars is 50% farther from the sun than the earth so it receives less than 30% of the solar radiation (sunlight) intensity as the earth, thus lower temp.

Mars is about 1/4 the size of the earth comparing mass, so it has lower gravity and atmosphere thickness, meaning lower temp. due to inability to retain heat from atmospheric thickness.

Mars atmosphere may be largely CO2 but the H2O in earth's atmosphere allows it to have moderate temp variance day to night, unlike MARS. Mars does have higher daytime temp than -100C, more like -25C at high noon.

Whack it with the low thermal inertia stick, mbnewtrain! Chase it right back under the bridge where it belongs.

Less inflammatorily ...

Mars has 1% the atmosphere of Earth and it is almost all CO2. Mars has no oceans. Mars is 1/4th the size of Earth. This means Mars has low thermal inertia. Mars also has a highly eccentric orbit, wandering ten times as far in the course of its two year orbit than the Earth does. So it warms ... and cools ... and warms every two years. These are interesting facts but they mean nothing in the context of discussing the Earth's climate.

The "1934 was the warmest year" BS, as we can see from the NASA page here is for the United States alone, not for the world.

Pakistan vows to repel any international attempt to seize it's atomic arsenal

Pakistan's military vowed a strong response to any international attempt to seize its atomic arsenal as the army successfully test-fired a nuclear-capable cruise missile on Tuesday.

"Suggestions have been made that our assets could either be neutralised or taken away towards safer place to prevent them from falling into wrong hands," the statement quoted Majid as saying. "We remain alert to such threats and are fully capable of handling these."

The statement added: "Though no responsible state in the world can contemplate such an impossible operation, yet if someone did create such a scenario he was confident that Pakistan would meet the challenge strongly. There is a very strong security system in place, which can ward off all threats, internal as well as external."


US to launch independent military operations in Pakistan against Musharraf's protests

Al-Qaeda operates with relative freedom in remote areas of northwest Pakistan and has been able to rebuild its forces there since Musharraf agreed that tribal leaders should control that region, a top U.S. State Department official and U.S. intelligence officials said in July.

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf yesterday ruled out U.S. forces conducting any raids on Pakistani territory to try to kill or capture al-Qaeda leaders.

"The prerogative must remain with Pakistan'' on carrying out anti-terrorism operations in its territory, Musharraf said in an interview with CNN, according to a transcript. "It is the Pakistani forces who act."

"One of the top agenda items we have with the government of Pakistan is working together in terms of what they can do more unilaterally, how we can work with them to help them be more effective and whether there are instances in which we should or must take action by ourselves," Gates said.


Fuel shortages? Check. Water stress before global warming really takes off? Check. Exposure to global financial meltdown triggered by U.S. mortgage scam unwinding? Certainly as we're all part of the same system but I can't name a specific vector other than U.S. failure to execute in Afghanistan which is about to be aggravated by our revenue collapse, but I am sure there are others.

Taliban on one side, breaking up from the inside, nuclear armed opponent also under stress on the other side; seems just peachy to me.

This is one of those "hide under the bed 'till it passes" sort of issues ...

The Pakistani leader went on to refute allegations that there are elements within the intelligence service and military, which may be sympathetic to Al-Qaida and the Taliban and as a result, could not necessarily be completely trusted.


Cid...You know and I know that the ISI, with help from the good old US, backed the Taliban against the CCCP... Moreover, the ISI invented the Taliban and have been very unhappy with the US for attempting to destroy them. Why? Because while the Taliban had Afganistan under lockdown Pakistan did not have to worry about its backdoor neighbor and the Taliban made sure that east-west trade routes transiting Afganistan were not closed or held ransom to bandits. For Pakistan to say that none of their military or ISI personnel are sympathetic to the Taliban is ludicrous.

I haven't seen a reference to this anywhere - does anyone know more about it?

Dire prospects on the bottom of the ocean

China and India announce gigantic finds of frozen methane off their coasts which they hope will fill the energy needs of their industry. Environmentalists, on the other hand, fear for the planet's climate. Will scientists from Kiel be able to reconcile the hunger for fuel and climate protection?

The article is unfortunately in German, but you should get the essence of it using Babelfish or a similar tool.

Methane Hydrate. DOA.

Like Fusion, a source of the future and always will be.

Here's a few to bring you up to speed.

Aha. That kind of confirms what I suspected. Thanks for the heads-up, Samsara.

In that context, I would, for the record, like to express my gratitude to the staff and all contributors of TOD. I might just (mostly) lurk, but the wealth of knowledge I have gleaned from here is priceless. Thanks to all of you.

I might disagree with some of you, I might curse you occasionally for opening my eyes to the ultimate inconvenient truth, but your concern for and dedication to The Good Cause(tm) are inspiring.

Best hopes for your voices being heard with increasing clarity.

love your handle, UncivilServant.

Iranian president calls the U.S. dollar 'worthless" and drops the dollar from all of Iran's oil deals. Earlier this year "Kuwait’s ditching of the dollar is one of a series of signs that the greenback’s decline is affecting its international primacy." Furthermore, "In 2004, India and Japan declared their interest in diversifying their foreign currency reserves, and the following year China and Malaysia opted out of dollar pegs."

The diversification and outright dumping the dollar as their reserve currency with the possibility of further countries (especially from the Middle East) dropping the dollar is the most important "oil" story. If this continues this will have the greatest affect on the oil industry and the world economy.