DrumBeat: December 13, 2007

Traffic clears in Italy as truckers end crippling strike, supplies slowly resume

Italian highway traffic was back to normal Thursday after truckers removed blockades and ended a three-day strike that brought the country to a standstill and caused shortages of gasoline and food.

Unions called off the protest after reaching a deal late Wednesday with the government and truck drivers removed the vehicles they had lined up at tollbooths and border points to protest high gasoline prices, long working hours and foreign competition.

Japan Nuclear Energy Drive Compromised by Conflicts of Interest

On March 25, Hokuriku Electric Power Co.'s nuclear generating station in Shika, Japan, was rocked by an earthquake that wasn't supposed to happen.

Nine years earlier, Yoshihiro Kinugasa, the leading seismologist on Japan's nuclear licensing panel, signed off on a pre-construction study of the site. The report identified three fault lines, each less than 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) long, or just under the length regulators deemed threatening.

In 2005, Kinugasa switched roles and published a study with Hokuriku Electric engineers that rebutted neighbors' claims the plant was unsafe. After the quake, government scientists found the fissures were in fact a single fault of 18 kilometers that could produce more shaking than the plant was built to withstand.

Nobel scientist in biofuel warning

A Nobel Prize-winning scientist has warned that switching from fossil fuels to biofuels could do the planet more harm than good.

Prof Paul Crutzen calculated the global warming effects of the fertiliser needed to grow energy crops like biodiesel and bioethanol were much worse than has been estimated.

Dark days ahead for energy-strapped South Africa

Constant power cuts are darkening the mood among South Africans, with President Thabo Mbeki admitting that government was at fault for ignoring growing energy needs.

Africa's largest economy is buckling under energy-pressures after failing to heed pleas by state power utility Eskom to invest more in electricity generation to keep up with the country's growth.

China and India Exploit Icy Energy Reserves

China and India have reported massive finds of frozen methane gas off their coasts, which they hope will satisfy their energy needs. But environmentalists fear that tapping these resources could have adverse effects on the world climate.

Nepal to pay 42 million dollars dues to IOC

Nepal government has decided to pay 42 million dollars (2.7 million Nepalese rupees) to Indian Oil Corporation to ease supply of petroleum products following pressure from petrol dealers and consumers to regularise supply of oil products.

Senate Republicans block energy bill

Senate Republicans blocked a broad energy bill Thursday because it included billions of dollars in new taxes on the biggest oil companies.

Democratic leaders fell one vote short, 59-40, in getting the 60 votes needed to overcome a GOP filibuster. Democrats said they would strip the taxes from the legislation to move the bill forward.

South Africa: Chamber of Mines says power outlook is ‘bleak'

Load shedding and rolling blackouts - which Eskom said could last for the next five to eight years - can, and probably already are, affecting South Africa's mining industry operations.

Chamber of Mines assistant adviser techno economics Dick Kruger said on Wednesday that "the mines are getting edgy".

Shrinking the US Dollar from the Inside-Out

On December 8, Chinese and French news services reported that Iran had stopped billing its oil exports in dollars.

...The assault is symbolic, because the dollar is not the reserve currency due to oil exports being billed in dollars. It's the other way around. Oil exports are billed in dollars, because the dollar is the reserve currency.

Norway oil spill stirs fears for Arctic

The accident has stirred debate about the risks of opening up new areas of Norwegian waters for oil and gas exploration, especially in the Arctic, where spills would have a bigger impact.

Uganda, Congo in Talks to Revive 1990 Joint Oil Pact

Congolese and Ugandan ministers are meeting in Kampala Wednesday to discuss ways in which the two countries can enhance economic cooperation and revive the 1990 joint oil exploration pact following the recent discovery of commercial oil reserves in the Lake Albert valley, Uganda's permanent secretary at the ministry of foreign affairs told Dow Jones Newswires Wednesday.

New Zealand: Sustainable transport drives strategy update

The Government has agreed to halve per capita domestic greenhouse gas transport emissions.

"... all westernised countries are facing the same challenges ... we need to keep the economy moving while thinking about peak oil and also thinking about greenhouse gases," Mr Allard said. The targets in the update have been set for 2040.

They included lifting rail's share of domestic freight from about 18 percent to 25 percent, double coastal shipping's share of inter-regional freight to about 30 percent, reducing premature deaths and serious illnesses caused by air pollution, and at least double the overall public transport mode share to 7 percent of all passenger trips.

Does green make a difference?

Almost everyone applauds when companies adapt green practices. But will those practices make a meaningful difference to the environment?

No Solution to Drought in Sight: Atlanta Water Czar

Tensions were high as business and civic leaders gathered for the Georgia Water Solutions Forum at the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, as reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Officials face hard choices and no clear solutions to the serious drought that is plaguing the Southeast.

Open a new highway – on the sea

Coastal shipping has the potential to strengthen the resilience of America's transportation system – an important national security objective. It can also provide substantial environmental benefits by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The European Union, which moves 40 percent of its internal freight by sea, provides an example of how much America stands to gain.

China 'ups fuel output to ensure supply'

China has reiterated that it is boosting fuel production to meet strong domestic demand and cushion the blow of higher prices on its economy.

"China attaches great importance to the impact of high oil prices on economic growth and is trying to increase production of oil products to guarantee market supply," Zhang Xiaoqiang, deputy head of National Development and Reform Commission, told reporters.

China refinery runs rise at slowest pace in 15 months

China's refinery runs rose 3.8 percent in November, their weakest annual rise in 15 months, data showed on Thursday, a possible sign that mainstream refiners are failing to build new capacity fast enough to meet demand.

Following a months-long fuel crisis that prompted a 10 pecent increase in motor fuel prices last month and heavy pressure from Beijing for state-owned refiners to step up production, output by those plants showed only a 4 percent rise versus October, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics.

Papua New Guinea: Supply distribution stalled

SHORTAGE of Jet A1 fuel for aircrafts including helicopters in the flood-devastated Oro province has reportedly hampered the distribution and transportation of relief supplies and teams to affected areas.

Paraffin shortage hits Malawi

One of the buyers who refused to be identified in Blantyre said he felt that retailers are hiding the product to make huge returns with the looming fuel price increase.

But Mdeza quashed the idea saying it is a fact that most paraffin pumps are dry.

Vermont fuel dealer urges Congress to regulate speculators who drive up costs

Vermonters hit with record home heating bills this winter are victims of a growing number of unregulated energy speculators who drive up the price of crude oil, a Vermont home heating oil provider told a congressional panel Wednesday.

Sean Cota, co-owner and president of Cota & Cota Inc. of Bellows Falls, urged members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee to pass legislation to close a loophole that exempts energy markets from government regulation to prevent price manipulation.

Alaska: Study raises fear of regional energy shortage

Companies exploring for oil in Cook Inlet back in the 1960s instead discovered large quantities of natural gas. And much of Southcentral's economy has developed around this cheap, abundant and local energy source.

Those days are coming to end. Soon, Southcentral will begin using more gas than is produced in Cook Inlet. It could occur in as little as eight years, well before natural gas from the North Slope comes online.

No new coal

The battle lines have been drawn. On the horizon lies a much warmer world with submerged island nations, greater storm intensities, tragically lower crop yields in Africa, more floods and droughts, and heightened competition for clean water. With this future and the large role played by coal combustion in climate change, should we allow any new coal-fired power plants to be constructed?

Could coal solve energy crisis?

COAL could once more be king in North East England, according to a council boss.

Energy experts are looking at new ways of using coal reserves to power the nation.

2 states, 1 big coal windfall

Illinois and Texas have been trying to one-up each other for more than a century, and now, the rivalry has entered a new phase with the battle for a cutting-edge power plant that is one of the richest and most promising research plums of the energy crisis.

US House Passes Burma Sanctions Bill That Targets Chevron

The House unanimously passed legislation yesterday that pressures U.S. oil major Chevron Corp. to abandon its investments in Myanmar, formerly Burma, where military rulers have violently cracked down on pro-democracy protests.

Beyond the point of no return

We have failed to meet nature's deadline. In the next few years, this world will experience progressively more ominous and destabilizing changes. These will happen either incrementally -- or in sudden, abrupt jumps.

Under either scenario, it seems inevitable that we will soon be confronted by water shortages, crop failures, increasing damages from extreme weather events, collapsing infrastructures, and, potentially, breakdowns in the democratic process itself.

Monbiot: This crisis demands a reappraisal of who we are and what progress means

When you warn people about the dangers of climate change, they call you a saint. When you explain what needs to be done to stop it, they call you a communist. Let me show you why.

StatoilHydro Tracks Oil Slick in the North Sea

The oil slick from the Statfjord oil spill on Dec. 12 is moving toward the northeast. According to StatoilHydro's calculations, it has reached the Snorre field in the North Sea.

Two vessels have been observing the oil slick during the night. The observations confirm that the slick is moving toward the northeast. An airplane from the Norwegian Coastal Administration will pass over the area, some 20 kilometers northeast of the Statfjord field, in the morning of Dec. 13.

Steep heating costs hit neediest

Soaring fuel prices are creating a crisis among low-income people and senior citizens who can't afford to heat their homes, say local agencies that distribute federal heating subsidies.

"This is a scary, scary winter. I don't know what folks are going to do," says Debbie Hambly of Rhode Island's East Bay Community Action Program. The average one-time, $325 grant there buys 100 gallons of heating oil — enough for about two weeks, she says.

Is Coal Going to be the New Oil?

Peak oil, yes; but 'peak coal'? India's Tata Power recently acquired 30% stakes in Indonesia's two largest coal mines, securing 20 million tons of coal to fuel its 750 kilowatt project on India's west coast. This is a shrewd and opportune move. There's a sustained and tightening squeeze on global supplies of the 'thermal' coal needed to power the world's coal-fired power stations, just as Asia (except Japan) embarks on a massive expansion of planned generating capacity based on coal, despite rising concerns about carbon pollution. The technology that needs to be deployed to separate and store the pollutants from coal burning is still at least five years away...

Brazil's offshore oil bonanza may be even bigger

Scare-mongers would have us believe that "peak oil" production has been realized, and that we face a future of increasing scarcity and economic chaos. But when governmental restrictions are loosened, and the human mind is unleashed and driven by the potential for profit, experience suggests that previously ignored, missed, or misunderstood potential will be realized. Doom-sayers have been with us throughout recorded history. Sometimes they have been vindicated, but mostly they have been wrong.

North Korea: The lack of electricity due to low precipitation

With North Korea entering a period of low-precipitation winter season (dry season), it seems that the electricity situation is worsening. A source from the North Hamkyung Province said recently, "We hardly see electricity."

The source commented in a phone conversation on the 10th that people live having no idea of what is going on in the outside, "There is no electricity in the evening, so we cannot even watch Chosun Central TV. Moreover, it takes 10 days for the Rodung Shinmun to arrive."

Rail operations have been irregular due to the power shortage, which accounts for the problems in newspaper delivery. North Korean rail runs on electricity.

IATA slashes profits outlook for airlines as fuel price and credit crisis hit

The airline industry has cut its forecast for profits next year by a third as soaring fuel costs and the credit crunch begin to take their toll.

Oil investments at its best

With oil prices still near all-time highs, the Peak Oil theorists are back out in force, screaming, “The world is running out of oil! The world is running out of oil!”

It’s not. However, the world is running out of easy-to-find, easy-to-recover oil. And those companies that can keep costs low and help oil exploration companies increase their odds of hitting crude when they drill are highly valuable partners.

Energy consultant points to opportunities in green efforts

A growing acceptance of human-induced climate change and the link between energy and national security has pushed conservation into the mainstream, industry consultant Joseph Stanislaw says, giving consumers more power than ever before.

Cities cultivate 2 types of green

Two years ago, Wells made an improbable conversion from convict to environmentalist. He was just out of prison after serving 10 years for armed robbery and couldn't find a job that would pay enough to make the rent.

Then he found Sustainable South Bronx, and he found a calling.

Since 2003, the environmental group has trained 70 former drug addicts, welfare recipients and convicts for jobs in landscaping, ecological restoration, green roof installation and hazardous waste cleanup.

Nuclear Power's "Green" Credentials Under Fire

Nuclear power's claim to be the answer to global warming is being questioned by reports suggesting mining and processing of uranium is carbon intensive.

While nuclear power produces only one 50th of the carbon produced by many fossil fuels, its carbon footprint is rising, making wind power and other renewable energies increasingly attractive, according to environmental groups and some official reports.

California wins right to regulate vehicles' emissions

Handing a major defeat to the auto industry, a federal judge ruled Wednesday that California can regulate greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles.

If It’s Fresh and Local, Is It Always Greener?

While the research is not yet complete, Tom Tomich, director of the University of California Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program, said the fact that something is local doesn’t necessarily mean that it is better, environmentally speaking.

The distance that food travels from farm to plate is certainly important, he says, but so is how food is packaged, how it is grown, how it is processed and how it is transported to market.

Sundance Channel Acquires Eleven Documentaries to Premiere As Part Of The Green

Crude Impact - Directed by James Jandak Wood. This award-winning film details the many ways that oil has shaped the world by enabling humankind to dominate virtually every other species living on the planet. The film spans over 150 years as it considers the past, present and future of human oil usage, exploring topics including the science of Peak Oil; the human and environmental toll exacted by oil dependency; and the role of oil in geopolitics.

Escape from Suburbia - Directed by Gregory Greene. Will the American lifestyle - epitomized by the single family home and two-car garage – remain tenable as we advance into an age of declining oil supplies and rising prices? Escape from Suburbia considers the possibilities as it examines the burgeoning grass-roots movement to "power down" from energy-intensive habits.

Japan steps up its biofuel drive

Fueled by concerns over surging oil prices and accelerating global warming, resource-poor Japan is revving up its drive to promote biofuels. Most publicly, tax changes aimed at encouraging motorists to use bio-gasoline are expected in a few months after the world’s second-largest economy and third-largest oil consumer started to sell bio-gasoline at a limited number of gas stations earlier this year on a trial basis.

A Young Tinkerer Builds a Windmill, Electrifying a Nation

MASITALA, Malawi -- On a continent woefully short of electricity, 20-year-old William Kamkwamba has a dream: to power up his country one windmill at a time.

So far, he has built three windmills in his yard here, using blue-gum trees and bicycle parts. His tallest, at 39 feet, towers over this windswept village, clattering away as it powers his family's few electrical appliances: 10 six-watt light bulbs, a TV set and a radio. The machine draws in visitors from miles around.

Airborne Wind Turbines

Traditional wind turbines can be unreliable sources of energy because, well, the wind blows where it will. Not the case 1,000 feet up. “At a thousand feet, there is steady wind anywhere in the world,” says Mac Brown, chief operating officer of Ottawa-based Magenn Power.

To take advantage of this constant breeze, Brown has developed a lighter-than-air wind turbine capable of powering a rural village. “Picture a spinning Goodyear blimp,” Brown says.

Senate energy bill calls Bush's bluff on veto

Senate Democrats are calling the White House's bluff on a threatened veto of an energy bill by refusing to take out language that would remove tax breaks for big oil and gas companies.

The Senate's version of the bill, which modifies energy legislation passed last week by the U.S. House of Representatives, is scheduled to be voted on Thursday. It would repeal about $13 billion in tax breaks for mostly big oil companies such as Exxon Mobil Corp.

Groups mobilize against floating, liquefied gas terminal

Mere mention of liquefied natural gas is enough to send chills through Staten Islanders who remember the deadly Feb. 10, 1973, explosion inside a 500,000-barrel LNG tank in Bloomfield, which killed 40 workers.

So when ExxonMobil announced Tuesday that it plans to seek regulatory approval for a $1 billion floating terminal for liquefied natural gas about 20 miles off the Jersey Shore -- roughly 30 miles southeast of the Island -- it didn't take long for local environmental groups to sound the alarm and vow to fight its construction.

Nigeria energy reforms expected to make it tougher for foreign operators to profit

Nigeria is launching the deepest overhaul of its petroleum industry in decades, a move expected to make it tougher for big operators like Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSB.LN) to profit from tapping Africa's biggest oil-producing country.

Nigeria: Pipeline Fire Claims NNPC Official

For the umpteenth time, another tragic fire erupted yesterday from a vandalized pipeline belonging to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

The latest incident which took place at Arepo village in Ogun State, claimed the life of a senior management staff of the corporation, Mr. Odigili M.C, while three other senior staff attached to the corporation's Mosimi Depot, Ogun, State, sustained various degrees of burns.

Sabic hit by construction costs

The increase in construction costs in the Middle East could force firms to cancel petrochemical projects, Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Sabic) the world's largest chemical maker by market value, reported Reuters. Costs have surged by 50 per cent in the past four years, Sabic chief executive Mohamed Al-Mady said. Building costs are climbing across the oil-exporting Gulf Arab region, driven by increases in global prices for materials such as steel and competition among regional contractors working on $2.4 trillion worth of projects, which is pushing up wages.

Europe's cities take the lead on cutting emissions

Woking, England - With solar-powered streetlights and energy-efficient power generators, this town 25 miles southwest of London is at the vanguard of a promising movement accelerating emissions-cutting programs.

From the metropolises of London and Stockholm to hamlets like Güssing in Austria, communities are showing that you don't necessarily need international treaties or global rules to force climate change action.

Climate change action at what political price?

"ACTION to tackle climate change will not be easy. It will require tough choices. And some of these will come at a political price," Prime Minister Kevin Rudd told the UN conference, perhaps prophetically.

Right now Mr Rudd has a choice in Bali, but so far he has hesitated to make it.

New Tibetan Ice Cores Missing A-Bomb Blast Markers, Suggests Himalayan Ice Fields haven't grown in 50 years

Scientists believe that the missing signal means that this Tibetan ice field has been shrinking at least since the A-bomb test half a century ago. If true, this could foreshadow a future when the stockpiles of freshwater will dwindle and vanish, seriously affecting the lives of more than 500 million people on the Indian subcontinent.

Without its insulating ice cap, Arctic surface waters warm to as much as 5 C above average

Record-breaking amounts of ice-free water have deprived the Arctic of more of its natural "sunscreen" than ever in recent summers. The effect is so pronounced that sea surface temperatures rose to 5 C above average in one place this year, a high never before observed, says the oceanographer who has compiled the first-ever look at average sea surface temperatures for the region.

Such superwarming of surface waters can affect how thick ice grows back in the winter, as well as its ability to withstand melting the next summer, according to Michael Steele, an oceanographer with the University of Washington's Applied Physics Laboratory. Indeed, since September, the end of summer in the Arctic, winter freeze-up in some areas is two months later than usual.

Please note that it is by no means assured that Bush will even get a chance to veto the Energy Bill. Rumor has it that it currently has support of 59 Senators... one short of the number needed to end the inevitable filibuster. As of yesterday, several GOP Senators were still undecided.

The Bill does have some big problems (e.g., big ethanol subsidies, and no Renewable Electricity Standards), but it also has lots of good stuff, including greatly expanded solar credits, and continued support for wind and other carbon-free energy sources (including tidal, for the first time). It also subsidizes PHEVs, EVs, plugin-conversion kits and even has a token subsidy for bicycle commuting. It also subsidizes energy efficiency for homeowners and appliances. So overall, its a step forwards and towards sanity, (even though I'm sure many here could craft a better bill).

But right now, its this bill or nothing. The Bill will be voted on today. See here for my post on the subject, complete with a list of wavering Senators. If one of these Senators is yours, please call. Its this Bill or nothing.. and this Bill is better than nothing.

Thanks, I've called my senator, Mr. Martinez. As you say, it could be much better, but for right now it's the best we've got.

I heard that CA just won a court case that might end up bringing more efficient cars to the market than this would anyway.

I would post it but Leanan probably already has :-)

Thanks for calling. Sadly, it only won 59-40 and the Dems, for some reason, decided not to actually make the Repubs filibuster. They'll restore the subsidies for oil drilling and try again.

Senate Republicans blocked a broad energy bill Thursday because it included billions of dollars in new taxes on the biggest oil companies.

Democratic leaders fell one vote short, 59-40, in getting the 60 votes needed to overcome a GOP filibuster. Democrats said they would strip the taxes from the legislation to move the bill forward.


Keep calling.. they probably need another 8 votes to overcome the probable veto.

There are many things about our Congress I just don't understand. This vote is one of them.


That is the beginning, middle, and end of our troubles. We either clean house in 2008 or we sink like a stone. We can't restore the velocity of money, such as it will be post peak, if every uninvolved party can get in the middle of someone else's business. There is great need to cut away deadwood in both the business and political realm.

I have to disagree with your assesment, SCT. What happens in the 2008 elections in the U.S. is about as close to irrelevant as can be. The structure of our government mediates against anything but reform. The "founding fathers" knew this and designed it that way. Their expectation was that should the government truly get in the way of effective change, that the people would overthrow it.

But the real problem has little to with our government, it has to do with broader constructs of our society as a whole (and as we spread it globally). The government is a lever to effect social change, but its reach and impact is limited. You can hypothesize all the wonderful policy changes you like, but unless the broader culture supports that change, you are merely spitting into the wind.

Yes, my unstated assumption is that mobs of unemployed people are going to want change. They won't like it when they hear it means powering down, but if there aren't any alternatives ...

Well, I can hope, can't I?

It would be refreshing indeed to see a mob. That would
mean that ordinary people had understood something,
had thought something. It would mean that a mob had
hope, purpose, direction.
I expect something more inchoate than a mob.

yeah, but being unemployed allows for so much more time watching TV...

A few years ago there were plenty of mobs in Argentina who widely protested corruption, indeed protested the entire system. And a few short years later, the public were voting for the same corrupt officials. Source: The Take, by Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis.

For a rather different take on political
suicide and how a polity terminates, see
Aristotle, The Politics (suggest McKeon trans)

Oops, should be a reply to hightrekker below

There is no evidence reformist policies work (just take a look around).
Systems rarely commit suicide. All major changes politically happened in the streets outside the system. American, French, Russian Revolutions had nothing to do with reform within the system. It can go the other way also, as the Spanish Civil War proves.

Getting rid of the two corrupt political parties is the only way we are going to have any hope of getting rid of corruption in politics. The only way that is ever going to happen is if people stop voting for them. This means first of all telling the people that keep screaming that a vote for a 3rd party or independent candidate is a "throwaway vote" to shove it. The only throwaway votes are the ones not cast at all or the ones cast for the perpetuation of this corrupt system.

I'm not sure we are talking corruption. Reid simply doesn't seem to have a killer instinct, and is forever blinking in the face of adversity. The GOP sees that, gives him a head fake, and he crumbles.

Steve LeVine, author
The Oil and the Glory

I am dubious of that assertion - the Dem's rely on the same large contributors (corporations and wealthy patrons) that the Repub's do

I think going into this the Dem's knew it was safe to support the bill, because they knew the Repub's would filibuster it - OR if it somehow squeaked through, Bush would veto the bill. This way the Dem's can say "WE all voted for it!" but oil gets to keep it's nice fat subsidies...

win-win for everybody but the American people - in other words, business as usual

Our companies are like that guy looking at that last tree on Easter Island, ax in hand - and our "representatives" are some chief standing at his side reminding him how important building the stone Gods are to the economy of the island

This analysis on DailyKos by Thereisnospoon argues that the Dems are intentionally letting the Republicans block stuff in order to make the electorate hate them even more thus boosting Dem elections in 2008.


Cynical? Yeah, but it's hard to argue against, given the Dem's record.

Which is a better choice ?

A "C-" Energy Bill this Year, or a "B-" Energy Bill in 15 months ?

The R's are going to lose 5 to 9 Senate seats next year. Hopefully 9 (or even 10).

Yes, politicians play politics.


Perhaps the "team" concept endemic in everything we do doesn't always have a useful purpose. It wanes some during crises, but doesn't during pending crises.

I don't think the Democrats are that organized or that smart. I think they are remembering how the GOP Congress was humiliated by Bill Clinton during that government shutdown. In short, I think they're chicken to stand up to the Shrub.

And no, I don't think it helps them in the next election. I think a lot of people are getting disillusioned with the Democratic Congress. If the voters are mad, and I think they are, they have a tendency to "vote the rascals out." That tends to hurt the incumbents. Which is good if you're in the minority, not so good if you're in the majority.

I'll agree with this one on some days - our Democratic dominated Congress needs to grow a pair, put a collar on the out of control Bush administration, and then we might have something worth cheering.

Other days I think they're playing a very, very dangerous game of chicken with a nuclear armed nutjob and doing a pretty good job of it. If they push too hard all at once and Bush snaps what then?

It is a mess and no mistake about it. The second order of the day after dealing with corruption will be reigning in the power of the executive branch which was accumulated during the Bush years.

That would be him. He's obviously done some dirty deeds, he was a lowly mayor of Orange County (FL) just a few short years ago. He didn't distinguish himself in that position either.

You'll hear more people down here complain about him because he condones immigrants who come here to use our schools and cut our lawns more than anything else, however. He's Cuban, after all.

Re: Floating LNG terminal NIMBYism (above drumbeat)

I know there are sometimes many good reasons for opposing certain facility construction projects.

But, I find myself thinking that these people really have no clue where there energy is coming from tomorrow.

Many more LNG terminals are going to be needed in the relatively short term in the US, and it appears that many of the proposed sites are being rejected.

C'mon, 20 miles offshore...wth? Who will that bother...whales? They will swim around it. And, fish habitat, what fish swim close to the surface 20 miles offshore, it isn't a reef.

*Sigh* Another day, and another sign that most people don't know what they are facing.

PS: Gasoline in Toronto has shot up 5/ltr cents in 2 days! I expect to hear the griping on the radio today. 104.1/ltr (up from 100.4 yesterday, and 99.1 the day before).

PeakTO -

A very good example of the difficulty in siting LNG facilities is an ongoing dispute between Delaware and New Jersey regarding BP's proposal to build an LNG terminal on the Jersey side of the Delaware River opposite the northern end of Delaware. This dispute will soon land in the US Supreme Court.

Delaware has a Coastal Zone Act which restricts the construction of new industrial facilities and bulk handling facilities in the Delaware Coastal
Zone, which encompasses its seashore as well as its portion of the Delaware River.

What does this have to do with an LNG terminal in New Jersey? Well, unlike the riverine boundaries between most states, which general split right down the middle of the river separating the two states, the boundary between Delaware and New Jersey goes back to the original William Penn charter of the mid-1600s and stipulates that Delaware's boundary extends all the way up to a defined low-tide line on the Jersey side.

The proposed BP LNG terminal extends well out into the river, and thus Delaware claims it would partly be located within the Delaware state line and therefore subject to the Delaware Coastal Zone Act which would prohibit such a facility. A very clever way to make Delaware's opposition to the terminal look like a matter of law rather than the result of the NIMBY syndrome.

So, for the last several years the lawyers have been lawyering and the consultants have been consulting and the LNG terminal is no closer to getting built than it was when it was originally proposed. The legal issues are actually more complex than stated above, but suffice to say that it's a mess which may or may not get adequately resolved once the Supreme Court gets a whack at it.

However, I'm sure that a winter or two of natural gas price spikes and/or shortages will soften the attitude of my fellow Delawareans. But until then, it's war between New Jersey and Delaware.

If things get bad enough, perhaps New Jersey will recommission the battleship USS New Jersey and send her down from Camden to bombard Wilmington. However, we could re-arm Fort Delaware further downstream in the middle of the Delaware River and shell any LNG tanker trying to make it's way upstream to the LNG terminal. Silly? Hell, wars have been fought over a lot less.

Good thing there is unlimited natural gas, cause to build a environmentally damaging plant when it would only enrich a few and ensure continued addiction to fossil fuel up until it runs out, would be rather retarded.

Yup, thank god it's unlimited.

I get the feeling these people really have no clue where there energy is coming from *today*.

Re fish, I imagine this floating LNG terminal needs some really big anchor to stay in place, i.e. an artificial reef. Like off-shore windparks in the North Sea, I can only see benefits for marine life. I applaud the NS windparks, as these areas are closed for fishing, giving threatened and overfished species a place to reproduce and hide. The few added percentages of "renewable" electricity is a nice bonus.

Many more LNG terminals are going to be needed in the relatively short term in the US,

Only if the economy grows? ... maybe they know something you don't?

I doubt it ... I'm sure you're correct, even if the economy doesn't grow.

Party on!

Oh dear! Rate cut, coordinated central bank action and offers of easy credit fails to make a dent in the panic stricken markets. Looks like the wheels are going to fall of the economic miracle.

Euribor Rate Unchanged, Signaling Money-Market Freeze Persists

The cost of borrowing euros was unchanged, signaling a Federal-Reserve-led plan to ease the credit squeeze is failing to persuade commercial banks to lend to each other.

The three-month euro interbank offered rate, the amount banks charge each other for such loans, stayed at 4.95 percent, its highest level since December 2000, according to prices from the European Banking Federation today...

..."It's a very disturbing sign," said Christoph Rieger, a fixed-income strategist at Dresdner Kleinwort in Frankfurt. "I'm alarmed by the impact this is having, which underscores that the funding difficulties out there are enormous"

They seem to be running out of good ways to spin the situation.

Is anyone surprised?

Borrowing more money (even open-ended money like yesterday's) doesn't fix this problem. Borrowed money needs to be paid back, but these asset classes are vaporizing - from realizing they are fraudlent - people could never pay back those mortgages.

If you have no chance of getting your asset back, how can you pay the loan? You can't, so this was a bandaid to fix short-term cashflow problems caused by the utilization of real *capital* to shore up the losses.

When that real *capital* is all gone, POOF! The system chokes.

About 2-3 weeks ago, someone posted a fake conversation between a major banker and Bernanke. It was so on the money...basically, the government has to GIVE the big banks money...no strings. Just here it is...fix it.

But, of course, the system doesn't (and could never) work like that. So, there is no Plan B.

Just a matter of time.

Agreed- this action is going nowhere, but down ... they'r in a room with neither doors nor windows.

Actually I have a strong feeling that a recession is for the better now (the sooner the better), because that would force governments/UN to think through the situation, and at the same time this very planet would save crude and other commodities.. for the mitigating solutions – (A "final" solution , whatever that may show up to be.)

I think EROEI will be a buzzword during that time.

Sooner or later, these bad loans need to simply be written off. It would arguably be better for the economy to take our medicine and do it sooner. The reason that medicine isn't being taken is that some crony capitalists and CEOs would be the main ones taking the medicine and being knocked off their perch.

Crony capitalist Japan refused to take the medicine for that very reason, which is why their entire economy suffered a full decade of stagnation instead. Guess where we're heading?

The question is how do you write off those assets and at the same time keep the financial system from collapsing?

If banks start to go bankrupt there is a good chance the crisis will spread to the ultimate creditors - the savers. There are two ways out from the resulting bank run - either government printing money like mad to cover those obligations (undoubtedly causing hyperinflation) or letting "the market sort it out" like they did before the Great Depression. Pick your choice...

Why the Fed bailout might not work

The Federal Reserve's latest move to make credit markets more liquid could deepen problems in the banking system and actually cause the markets to be even more illiquid.

This is why I have doubts about whether we'll avoid deflation. The Fed will pull all its levers. But they may find out they don't work, or don't work the way they hope.

Bernanke has been reserved, so far. He still has *many* inflationary things he can do.

He hasn't started the presses yet.

Everyone has been calling this window openings, helicopter drops but they aren't. Snowballing credit will be inflationary, only if it is taken up, and lately, the auctions are not being accepted (reasons above).

So, he will have to start the presses sometime in the new year, or let the country fall into depression.

I believe he will start the presses, although it might not stop the ensuing financial slaughter, it might inflate away the debt.

But, don't worry deflation will come.

Forget about helicopters, Ben will load up the C-5 Galaxy for some massive air drops of currrency by the pallet!

Yeah, the Central Banks are basically going to loan money to banks that other banks won't loan to, because they're too risky. That makes the Central Banks the equivalent of a sub-prime lender and risks pulling down the entire system if it fails.

Central banks cannot endanger themselves with bad loans, so I guess the whole thing is more PR than real problem solving. Sooner or later the central banks are going to have to follow the rest of the banks and restrict lending to ensure their own survival. Especially if underlying securities and assets themselves continue to deteriorate in a positive feedback to the financial meltdown.

2008 is going to be a very interesting year.

I am reminded of the "brain dead" Savings & Loans in the Eighties that were kept alive because the feds didn't have the money to close them down. They kept sucking in capital by paying high rates on $100,000 and smaller CD's, and then rolling the dice hoping to score a big win which would bail them out of their problems. We were approached by a representative of a S&L around 1985 that wanted to directly invest in an exploratory drilling program. We said "Thanks, but no thanks."

The magnitude of the insanity that pervades this so-called financial system is slowly starting to hit home. The main reason that many people take so long to realize what's happening, seems to be that they simply can't and won't believe it. But there it is: the greater depression.

Of course this latest plan won't work. It's so obvious that it's hard to believe the Fed seriously thinks it will. At best it's merely going through the motions, but it's far more likely it's already looking ahead at what will materialize if and when this plan, like all the others before it, fails.

Lowering interest rates even further looks inevitable. But the end effect of that is just as inevitable: it prices treasury bonds out of the market. And they have kept the US economy more or less standing, albeit mighty wobbly, throughout the new millenium, allowing it to borrow time and (foreign) money, to the tune of $2 billion per day.

Nuclear Bond Implosion Ahead

In essence, an inflation indicator used by the Fed, and literally signed off on by Alan Greenspan, indicates that bond investors' long-term inflationary expectations are on the rise - and significantly so.

Bond investors have recently been lulled into a false sense of security by the alleged 'fact' that inflation remained so low. That sense of security is now flying out the window.

Hence, as in all Ponzi deals, there is no way out anymore, other than divine intervention. Money, capital, credit disappears much faster than central banks can inject it.

Yet another $100 billion may be thrown at the issue, but when derivatives traded on exchanges total almost $700 trillion, at a growth rate that will double this amount by 2010, YES, that would be $1.4 quadrillion, what on earth is that $100 billion going to do?

SIVs are declared pining for fjords, ABCP is frozen and won't trade, and there are many investment instruments out there in similar predicaments. They all closely resemble Transsylvanian counts: exposure to daylight brings certain death. And that exposure becomes more inevitable as time passes: at one point, people will demand to know what their pensions and taxes are invested in. They won't like the outcome, but they, and their accountants, still want to know.

People wonder whether we'll see inflation or deflation. But we've had the inflation already. Private parties have been allowed to issue value paper, and that has increased money supply hugely. Homes have doubled or tripled in price: we prefer to call that "increased value", but it's simply inflation. Just watch. Home prices are about to prove gravity does exist and do a freefall. There is no safety net: please don't get stuck with debt.

Derivative Trades Jump 27% to Record $681 Trillion

Derivatives traded on exchanges surged 27 percent to a record $681 trillion in the third quarter, the biggest increase in three years, the Bank for International Settlements said.

And guess what simmers underneath that $700 trillion?

Wall Street in legal trouble

.. Atty Gen Andrew Cuomo has sent subpoenas to several banks, including Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch and Deutsche Bank.

The banks are being asked to show how they assessed the quality of the home loans underlying derivatives such as mortgage-backed securities and collateralised debt obligations (CDOs), the newspaper says.

Mr Cuomo suggests that the banks creating the derivatives could be in trouble for failing in their legal obligation to ensure that prospectus information on the derivatives being sold was true.

Before this news, much of the market was blaming unscrupulous mortgage brokers and credit rating agencies for the sub-prime crisis but now it seems that banks themselves will not escape investigation.

Ilargi, that's the best nutshell analysis I've heard yet. At some point house prices, the debts representing them, and wage rates will have to come to some sort of working arrangement. As you point out, short term measures won't do much for a long term problem other than postpone it; with these numbers, it won't just 'work itself out'. The parallels to Japan are rather chilling. The Nikkei has essential gone sideways for over a decade. It is difficult to imagine how the US can grow its way out of this othar than through inflating it away, but that implies a loosening of the reins on wages. The Fed's just piddling into a pond of compounding long term debt.

My guess is the next stretch of economic calm waters, if such a thing exists other than relatively, will be a long way in the future. I find it all rather Shakespearean in a 'tempest tossed' sort of way.

The only way out of a debt crisis is through savings (i.e. paying down the debt). You cannot fix a debt crisis by creating more debt. That will only make things worse over time. The US savings rate is negative, and TPTB have no interest in doing the things it would take to turn that around.

I don't know, but I think Clive might just have hit it on the head. I mentioned the parallel to the movie "Payback" and Mel Gibson driving down an alley and hitting a car head on. ON PURPOSE. (you must see the movie to understand why).

See the sections I mean at the bottom.
Think about the last 10 years or so, Think how things unfolded.

NO WAY BACK - the horrible US economic morass
Clive Maund

The way to deal with China therefore is simply to pull the plug on its economy before it has weaned itself off dependence on the US as a primary export market. According to the logic of the chess game they are playing there are thus compelling reasons for the Anglo-US elites to let the world economy implode now. In a situation of chaos, they have the military capability to impose their will virtually anywhere in the world, except China and Russia.....


........Those in power in the United States who were responsible for creating the conditions that led first to the stockmarket boom of the 90's, then to the Tech Bubble, and then compounded the accumulating problems by dropping interest rates almost to zero, creating the environment that bred the carry trade speculative mania, the derivates pyramid and the housing bubble must have known the consequences of their actions, must have known that it would ultimately lead to an almighty train wreck - they are not that stupid, so the question is why they allowed these things to happen. Either they were guilty of short-termism - let's party today and to hell with tomorrow - or these developments were part of a grand plan that was meant to lead to the major crisis facing the world today...........

....The writer considers himself a realist rather than a doom monger, but can see no escape from the coming debacle, and thus this article might too be classified as being in the doom monger category...

I'm a realist too, not a Doom Monger.


What makes the current situation so profoundly dangerous is that the US stands to gain the most, or rather lose the least, from a global economic meltdown in the near future.

I outlined a theory along these lines last year (as did other people), to-wit, that Bush/Cheney would maximize spending, borrow every last dime they could, in effect using borrowed money to station a permanent military force in the Middle East, and then either renege on the debt, or hyperinflate their way out of it (same thing more or less), in the process hurting competitors for remaining oil supplies.

'Sino Silence in Subprime Swamp'


'China has emerged as a leading and growing buyer of US debt, notably bonds linked to the troubled American housing market. Yet as world markets are roiled to the point of seizure by the subprime mortgage crisis, the Middle Kingdom remains silent over the scale of its holdings, the risk of huge losses they entail, and why it continues its purchases as the value of the US dollar slides.'

One should never underestimate the intelligence of the Chinese... China has already stated that they are not concerned about MAD and they probably have contingency plans for the economic equivalent of MAD.

The depression of the 1930s did not prevent the rise of the US as the foremost economic and military power.

A depression next year won't destroy the skyscrapers, factories, roads, and power plants getting built in China.

People who see subtle strategies with huge effects in an elaborate game getting implemented by their leaders are imagining things.

The Fed will pull all its levers. But they may find out they don't work.

"Ol' Charley stole the handle,
and the train it won't stop goin'
No way to slow down"
- Jethro Tull


When the story is written it will be obvious that Trichet is doing the right thing and that the German Central Bank hard policy on inflation is the only thing that works for the people despite a little hardship up front.

A banking system cannot run without savings. But no one saves when interest rates are below the real rate of inflation. As painful as it is, interest rates have to go up, or we're going to spiral into a deep debt-induced depression. Yes, raising interest rates might also trigger a depression (ot a deep recession), but it will at least be one that is sowing the seeds of its own recovery.

4% is plenty high to encourage savings if inflation is zero or negative. We know house prices are declining, cars are on their way, china has built excess capacity that, along with low wages, will continue to force down prices world wide. Only food/fuel is higher, the former at least partly on account of stupid policies eg ethanol subsidies, the latter we think on account of flat production/ higher demand... the plateau. Stuart may, or may not, have identified higher production in 08, in which case oil will fall, maybe sharply, as we slide into a long recession. Falling gasoline will pressure ethanol, leading to lower food prices. That about covers it, all prices falling everywhere, the fed powerless to boost money supply because nobody wants to borrow... ben in his helicoptor was always a fiction, the fed has credit galore, but not much cash. We will remember this rule... why buy today if price will be lower tomorrow? Everybody knew this rule by 1940.

Cash/treasury bills will be king. Stocks decline 50% from oct 9 peak, but slowly, bottoming in 30 months - just like last two recessions and depression, too - time to buy tax day 2010. Housing about the same... Rallies in both are selling opportunities, there will be several rallies, at least in stocks, over the next 28 months.

Time to be very defensive, run in energy stocks is over, even if oil holds at 90+ for a while, there is a lot of demand destruction that has not had a chance to occur yet., same with gold which does not like large real returns. Gov has been understating inflation in many ways, they are likely to be overstating it over the next couple of years.

Deflation is here.

' Many companies today are essentially hedge funds masquerading as businesses.'


...snip...'This is what is meant by the phrase "finance-based economy." Increasingly, earnings for these companies are only tangentially related to their core business. For many of these companies, say, a restaurant operator, or a network equipment seller, how its "business" is going is only a sideshow'...snip...

...snip...'Business may be still pretty good. But it just doesn't matter.

Take a look at CKE Restaurants (CKR), which ostensibly owns and operates fast food restaurants (more on that in a moment). It reported earnings today, but here's what stood out: it's taking a $1.8 million charge due to an interest rate swap agreement that didn't quite turn out as planned. How so? During the third quarter the company entered into an interest rate swap agreement which effectively fixed the interest rate on $200 million of its term loan debt at 6.22%, set to expire in March 2012.

The problem is after entering into the agreement, current and future expected interest rates declined. Hence, the charge. Since recording the charge the company has reset its interest rates to the current market rate.

But wait, there's more'...snip...

Here's a 'cute' proposal to solve the housing mortgage crisis
on silver-conspiracy geek Ted Butler's blog.


Izzy's plan for housing is the exact copy of what my proposal for immigration would be.

When you draft a winning team you most certainly would not pick the incompetent.

If one of your own gets injured you take care of them, but you don't draft casualties.

ECBs and the Fed can lead commercial banks to credit, but central banks cannot force its use.

Until LIBOR decends from the stratosphere credit markets will remain very tight. LIBOR is the indicator of the wild card of economics...Trust. Trust will be restored when those sitting on bad debt mark it to market and the system is purged of the bad alphabet debt instruments.

Of course we will never hear that from most of the talking heads on squeak box. This morning they were touting the uptick in retail sales month over month. However, they glossed over the fact that much of the retail increase came in gas and food...Nor did they mention that (ex) those two items and an inflation adjustment would probably mean no increase at all.

Contango again?
February contract is now trading over that of January.
That will be an interesting shift.

If I were a trader, I think I would buy May and June futures at the moment.

Going into the new year with stocks at these levels, and a cold winter so far.

Doesn't read well for May and June. It looks like only a miracle (or worse) could change the summer outcome.

Darn...really wish I could buy a couple.

At this point, I would say a Triple Yergin is 95% or better.

For those watching crude prices, Tapis is currently at 100.5.


The flying wind turbines seem to be the only good news to be found. The article says helium but there isn't enough to do the whole world. My bet is they'll end up with hydrogen should it go into volume production - leaks a bit no matter what you do, but if you've got electricity you can pretty easily produce a bit more H2 for a refill.

A few years ago I was chuckling for myself when saw such proposals as flying "larger than houses" wind turbines, not any more … 10 ! Kw ! … at which cost, and for how long will they fly ?
Do they have any idea of the implications involved - to produce that small amount of power ? And the only "positive" they can muster is "that those WT-ballons" are at least not chopping birds in two ..

Actually the sole idea that Wind turbines are stepping up and increasingly embraced as a conventional energy providing system, says it all : We are in “trouble” … there are few other ways – period -

We are leaving the time of el.systems delivering 24/7/365 secure power, for a less dependable power future – some decades down the line. I’m not saying this is bad, but it will certainly be different

Oh, I agree that the village angle is silly - they'll cobble cheap, locally maintainable things if they want electricity. Just think of all the stranded gas that'll stay stranded rather than being burned to power generators.

OK, that sounds nutsy, too.

I think I'm going to shut my mouth and focus on ATM switches today.

People will be building home electricity generators like the guy with bicycle parts and trees in Africa. When those cars have no more gas, there will be a ton of alternators and generators sitting around doing nothing and car batteries galore. Sure, it won't sustain us, but something is better than nothing. Like back in college when we had a power outage. I had the only working stereo in the dorm.(and lots of visitors).

You make them pedal for their sound?

I'm living right in the midst of the area with the greatest wind energy potential in the entire SE US. Unfortunately, all of that wind energy potential is on the mountaintops. Some of you might not see that as any problem, but I can tell you that right now that is a BIG problem. People like their views, tourists like the view, and lots of people like the tourist dollars that the tourists bring iwth them to enjoy the view. Spoiling all that is a pretty tough sell right now. It is a harder sell than the off-shore proposals for Nantucket Island. There it is mainly the rich boat owners whining. Here it would impact everyone, and it would impact a lot of people financially. It is not that easy to make a living around here, tourism means the difference between a job or no job for a lot of people in my community.

Which thus makes me wonder if something like these things would be a more viable alternative, at least for getting something going sooner rather than later? Fly them high enough, and they would be all but invisible from a distance, wouldn't they?

Hi WNC. I was a 30+ year resident of Yancey County, home of Mt. Mitchell before moving to Oregon in '03. IMO the view has been spoiled by the air pollution anyway. The Great Smokies Nat. Park has ironically more than earned its name and if one goes to the top of Mt. Mitchell to see things up close, the hundreds of acres of dead trees are a depressing sight. Sadly, I see the same trends here in OR only maybe 20-30 years behind.

If you get to Jack O' The Wood in Asheville say hey to everyone.

There have already been at least two proposals for wind farms which were shot down in the area near Western NC. A few years ago, the TVA wanted to put a bunch up near Mountain City, TN. The NIMBYs turned out in force and it died. I had fun with that one, since the TVA took those interested on a field trip to look as some mills they have installed near Oak Ridge. Only 2 of us showed up.

Just this year there was a proposal in Ashe County, NC, which was similarly killed. The locals have been having trouble as plants have closed and they are looking for the tourist traffic and vacation houses to keep some money coming in. After PO becomes a known fact, the tourists aren't going to be driving up to look at the trees. Especially as the loggers start cutting them down for biomass energy and local lumber becomes cheaper than that which is shipped in from Canada.

E. Swanson

One thing, though:

If wind power means that a megacorporation comes in with outside contract labor, erects WTs on our ridges, spoils the view for everyone and kills whatever tourism we might still hope to get, and ships off all of the electricity to distant urban markets, then that isn't going to be of any benefit at all to the people that live here.

If we are to have wind power here, then it should be the people that live here that decide, we're the ones that should pay for it, and we're the ones that should benefit from it.

You'd be surprised by how many tourists come to see your state of the art wind turbines...

I saw something similar written up here.


"What's cool about these tethered tensile wings, he explained, is that they can be designed in such a way that no aircraft fuselage is needed and yet they can lift (vertically, straight from the ground, no runway even required!) enormous weights. And I mean ENORMOUS weights, like a thousand tons. A fully loaded Boeing 747-400 weighs about 400 tons, so a THOUSAND tons would change the nature of airfreight.

But there's an even better application for this technology than airfreight, he explained, electric power generation. Build a gigantic tethered tension wing and power it with electric motors mounted in the leading edge of the wing. Send the electricity to run these motors up the tether, itself. The wing will take off vertically and once it is at the end of its rope, so to speak, can be made to circle thousands, or even tens of thousands, of feet off the ground without a pilot or any sort of crew.

Remember from your ground school days that wind tends to increase with altitude. Once aloft, circling in the stiff breeze a few thousand feet in the air, it should be possible during most daylight hours to just turn off the electric motors and get them running as generators, taking energy out of the wind. This would be regenerative air braking.


To my knowledge this idea of using a tethered kite to generate power was first put forth back in 2003 by Pete Lynn, a mechanical engineer and second-generation kite designer from New Zealand. He described his work back then in an extensive post on Google Groups as well as on his own web page.

"The trick is that the propeller is operating at the speed of the airplane, which is many times greater than that of the true wind speed," wrote Lynn. "At an overall lift to drag ratio of ten the air plane speed is ten times that of the true wind, with power proportional to wind speed cubed, the propeller can have a thousandth the swept area of a comparable wind turbine for the same power. This makes for a very compact and effective unit, it is important to exploit this apparent wind directly as it allows for much higher specific speed of the propeller and generating unit, (no gearing)... Line length can actually scale with size, somewhat, a 100MW unit might optimally have around a 1000m line. "

According to Lynn's figures, then, to completely replace the one million megawatts of electricity generated in the U.S. annually by a total of 16,000 generators of various types would require 10,000 of those 100-megawatt tethered flying wings.

That's not many kites at all — enough to require approximately 3,600 square miles of territory, or about the size of Puerto Rico.

I'ld hate to have to fly through an area with a bunch of tethers strung from the ground up to 10 thousand feet. Definitely a hazard to navigation. It would be practically impossible to see them.

If things ever got bad enough to build all of them, we'd probably not have many airlines left. I'm only worried about getting them all down before a hurricane.

Dec 13, 2007 14:30 GMT
Weekly Change
Actual -146Bcf
Previous -88Bcf

Natural gas in storage fell 146 billion cubic feet to 3,294 bcf in the Dec. 7 week

This is the graph the EIA shows.

Nothing (natural gas-wise) to worry about so far. It has been up in the 70s in Georgia recently - no heating needed whatsoever.

This is a link to an EIA report showing that through October 31, heating needs have been less than normal.

Here in the land of the ice and snow (Twin Cities) the average temperature for the month of Dec. is 12.1 F or -11.1 C, this is just about 9 degrees below normal.

Did anyone see this?

Re Steep Heating costs hit Neediest:


New York hunger levels 'rising'
The shelves at Food Bank are empty (Pic: Food Bank)
Food Bank is unable to meet demand, with shelves empty
Over 1.3 million people, one in six New Yorkers, cannot afford enough food, with queues at soup kitchens getting longer, anti-poverty groups say.

Leanan has posted several stories about food banks closing. I was in a check out line yesterday, talking to the clerk and she mentioned that another local food bank in the Dallas area had closed. For what it's worth, we are dividing our charitable donations between the main Dallas food bank and the Salvation Army.

We have experienced similar conditions in rural Central Texas. Last year 30-35 people a day were being served from a community sponsored food bank. This year the numbers are up to 70-80 day. We have less food, but MRS. Baird's Thrift store does a bang up business with us buying day old bread loaves to provide those in need. John

I have been watching the Salvation Army volunteers with their red buckets and bells ringing.

Hardly anyone seems to be dropping in money this season.
I certainly am not.

If I want to help the needy I haul out a lot of clothes and other items I no longer need and donate it to various mission houses here who recycle it.

I then browse their shelves and buy , very cheaply, those things I can use and need. That way I help them and I help myself.

Some one who needs clothes then can get second hand ones for about $0.50 a piece, same with most items.

These are growing out here in the rural outback. I know of 4 within a ten mile drive.

Yesterday I picked up a old IBM Aptiva , 17" monitor and KB for $10.00...plus some glassware.

I take once read books to donate and much of my wifes old clothing. Good usable items all. This way we might kill off those swinish merchants who feed on folks blood and make huge profits by buying cheap Chinese junk and selling it at high prices.


Airdale I'm happier than a pig in plop today because I got a nice older Pyrex 2-cup measuring cup (not to measure with, measuring jinxes the cooking, it's for heating in the microwave and doing tea in), a pair of fluffy-inside house shoes which I'm wearing now, and a neoprene mouse pad, not to mouse on but to cushion my boney butt when I do situps.

All for $1!

And I'm wearing Wranglers I got for fifty cents there a while back.

I've found they love to get our bags full of balled-up plastic bags from the supermarket, and well, they love anything else decent but we're packrats hehe.

I even gave 'em a bunch of old "aloe" plants we didn't need, except they didn't want them so I took them to the lady who has the used book store, and she didn't want 'em so we're talking about that and some folks pull in with a big truck and a trailer, and we get talking and they can use the plants. So they got 'em. Of course because of the guy's T-shirt we had to talk about bands, I did one neat "mouth" guitar solo lol.

I'm getting to really love living out here and thrift-stores are where you meet the coolest people!

At the grocery store yesterday at peak hours, did my shopping on the way out saw the "food bank" cart.

Essentially, empty. I was surprised, but on second thought I wasn't.

People still buy gas at new prices, but they cut back elsewhere, and with food inflation, I imagine, they see even less *wiggle* room for donations.

Could be wrong, but this isn't the first time lately, that donations have come up short.

Everyone, should read Mogambo's rant yesterday about housing values and tax revenues. I have been saying this for year now. CVA Based tax revenues will be the final nail in the coffin.


ooooh...and today's is good too.


All that money flowing back to buy up America. And don't think that isn't inflationary.

It's becoming a huge problem for many reasons. One, many food banks get surplus food from the US government. The feds buys it from the farmers as part of the farm subsidy system, and donate it to the needy. But there's much less surplus food now, due the farming issues we post about daily here in the DrumBeat. Higher fuel costs, higher feed costs, more corn and soy going to biofuel production, etc. Two, supermarkets have become more efficient. They track inventory more carefully, so have less surplus, and what surplus they have, they often sell to discount stores, dollar stores, etc. They no longer have as much to give away. Three, there's a fear of lawsuits. Apparently, somebody who got food from a foodbank got sick and sued the supermarket that donated it, and it's put a chill on the whole system. Four, a lot more people are in need. Between higher food and fuel costs and the mortgage implosion, a lot of people who had been feeding themselves now need help.

Toys are also in short supply. Many of these organizations collect toys for needy children at Christmas time, but with so many toys recalled (due to lead paint, etc.), they don't have enough. Some just don't have enough people to check all the donated toys against the recall list, and are giving up, not giving out any toys.

The paradigm needs to shift from relying upon donations to producing the food locally.

At our community garden, many of the beds are reserved for the production of vegies for food bank clients. Local HS & college students volunteer time to help grow the vegies. Qualified food bank clients are given vouchers that gives them the right to harvest the vegies themselves as crops ripen. People renting plots (like me) have their plots marked as being "off limits"; I did not experience any pilferage this last season. (Probably because this is a small town; in urban areas, it would be more of a problem most likely.)

This cannot be the full solution to the problem, but it can be a very big part of it. This model needs to be replicated everywhere.

We have a CSA here that donates food to the needy.

But as others have pointed out, it's pretty hard to provide enough calories without growing a lot of grain, and that's something that isn't grown much here. The CSA only operates from April to October (and pickings are pretty slim at the beginning and end of the season).

A few bulk bags of corn and wheat, plus volunteers taking turns with a hand grinder, could provide a lot of corn meal and flour at a pretty low cost. Others could volunteer to bake bread, or to provide some supervision and assistance as groups of food bank clients baked their own bread.

potatoes? Worked in Ireland... sort of.

Potatoes can work very well still - they worked too well in Ireland actually, then the blight.

Modern strains don't get the blight, or something. Lots of heirloom strains available too.

Sweet potatoes, where they'll grow, are delicious, nutritious, and give a nice green (the young leaves) too.

Thank you, Leanan for this insightful summary of the various reasons concerning the in question food-squeeze !
You really know a lot , about a lot (!) and that can become very useful some day … for yourself and those you care about.

yes. 8D

A personal, Christmastime anecdote - last week I was in getting my hair cut and was in my usual goofball jabbery mood, and I asked my stylist, "...so, have you got your tree yet?"
I think my question caught her off guard, because her candid answer was that, no, she wasn't going to get a tree this year because she had just bought a new car and her first payment was coming due and she couldn't afford one. Then she launched into her long story about how she had taken her van into the dealership and the mechanic told her she needed a new transmission, and then the salesman told her she could lower her interest rate and her payments by buying a new SUV...I kid you not, I mean people can rationalize ANYTHING, but she is telling me this and I am thinking to myself..."hmmm, she is going to skimp on a $20 X-mas tree and deprive her kids (she has 2-7 & 10) of a tree...and we all know that to kids X-mas is just HUGE...so that she can make a payment on her brand new SUV?...huh?"...so I let her jabber on, but then when I left I gave her a $5 tip and told her it was for a down payment on a tree. Now I'm a stone atheist, so I suppose I shouldn't fetishize X-mas trees, but on the other hand, I think that we all need to be reminded from time to time that 'doing the right thing' doesn't always mean 'doing the right thing for ME'.

Just remind yourself that the christmas tree is most likely a holdover from pre-christian, pagan practices - there, don't ya feel better now? Thor's oak, sacred phallic symbols etc.

so fetish-ize away, Thor needs all the support he can get these days....with fire & ice on the way....well, more fire than ice with climate change, but still....

Good Instinct, SLD..

As McDuff said.. you're hardly Bible-thumping by subsidizing some evergreens. I sat in a parked car outside a Dunkin'Donuts on Long Island, NY some years back, wondering what signs of our outrageously religified nation I could actually SEE in that suburban paradise, and what I beheld was a Magic Elf, a Flying Reindeer, and a Pine Tree.

I've got no gripe with Mr. 'Of Nazareth', and still I don't doubt he would be as inclined as me to hang with the Yule Tomte and other elves in the enchanted forests of Sweden, if someone would just loan him a sweater..


Five: a lot of us that usually donate heavily to food banks and other charities are so squeezed we cannot even meet our own needs anymore. Just about everyday, you read about more layoffs. If you've got/getting/may get a pink slip, you are going to watch every penny.

Gotta put this in - last year I donated the $8 or $11 or whatever it was, for a needy family to get a Thanksgiving dinner.

this year I didn't even get a Thanksgiving dinner.


The Tehran Times picked up the NYT story on net oil exports. I guess it supports their efforts to curtail domestic energy consumption.

Does anyone track net exports the way the EIA tracks production? Also, I saw on TOD a few weeks back, a chart of net exports. Could anyone point me to a URL where I could being up that chart, and data if any data can be had.

Thanks in advance.

Ron Patterson

I think this is the blog with net exports charting:


Some of the oil trackers track exports-only. You have to pay big bucks for the reports, but often a summary will be published by Reuters, Bloomberg, etc.

The EIA does, but only up to 2006 at the moment.

WT, interesting post by John Robb at Global Guerillas about Iraq oil (non)production...'Systemic effects: causing Iraq to spend $200M per mo on imported gas and effected electrical production. Future effects: Investment in Iraq oil production has stalled. Global effects:' Too numerous to list here...


'JOURNAL: Oil disruption effectiveness in Iraq'

'Iraqi oil ministry figures indicate that during 2006 (based on the data, 2007 will be nearly identical), there were 159 attacks on its people and facilities. The result was a sustained loss of production calculated to be 400,000 barrels a day. At an average price of ~$80 a barrel, that's over $11 billion in lost production during 2006 -- or an average value per attack of ~$73 million. That's a Return on Investment per attack of ~3.6 million percent (assuming a generous $2,000 per attack average)'...snip...

I'm not sure that I have any good reason to continue to believe in the accuracy of any government statistic at this point.

OMG! I can't remember where I put my tinfoil hat!

That said, there is no depth of perfidy to which the PTB will not sink.

Possibly someone more knowledgeable about futures trading could shed some light on whether there is a built-in tendency for prices to rise in anticipation of contracts closing out at end of month, leaving the mid month to be a natural low point in the cycle. My bet is that mid month was picked because of its tendency to be either low or 'average', rather than the implied manipulation of price. Mid month would avoid the volatility that might occur at end of month ??

Let's look at the data:

  • Of 6 sample points, the marked 4 were within 10 days after a drop of $4 or more.
  • Of 9 such drops, 4 were within 10 days prior to a sample point.
  • Of all 180 days in the sample, 85 were within 10 days after one of those drops.

So, basically, a point chosen at random has a 45% chance to fall within 10 days after a drop of $4 or more. Taking 6 points at random, then, the chance that four or more will fall within that zone is 26%.

Which is not even close to statistically significant. i.e., coincidence.

A producer price index and consumer price index will generally measure actually paid refined product prices, not commodity futures.

Only domestic crude producers (and most of them are integrated and produce refined products as their output) would have prices received (this is PPI) correlated with crude, and only then if it is directly correlated with spot/front-month WTI, which often it isn't.

Also since CPI and PPI measure trends, measuring at the local minimum of each month shouldn't matter.

In sum, I don't think this would have any effect.

There may be some other effects which this is showing.

In particular, it is well known that futures traders have been able to game the commodity-index funds which have fixed -by-algorithm-and-prospectus trading schedules.

Market-cap weighted equities (except on index changes) don't have this problem.


Breakthrough battery could boost electric cars
Toshiba promises 'energy solution' with nearly full recharge in 5 minutes

There's some discussion of this story in yesterday's DrumBeat.

What I like about this is that Toshiba has the money and infrastructure to make things happen. They seem to be very secretive about the chemistry at this point, though, and I wonder if it's another LiFePO4 chemistry.

I think this is the first time I've heard the phrase "suburban decay" used, at least in the MSM (from the Charlotte Observer yesterday):


The foreclosure problem might be masking the impending PO problem in suburbs that are becoming abandoned. Many will think we just need to reinvest in these starter home subdivisions instead of trying to ditch them in favor of something with more of a future.

A news report a couple of weeks ago cited a national study that indicated that for every one percentage point increase in the foreclosure rate, the violent crime rate increased by 2.3%. I think that a lot of these remote surbuban areas are going into a death spiral.

A business associate of mine told me about checking out, in the 1950's, some land in Florida that his father bought for a pittance in the Thirties. He was walking around the land, overgrown with vegetation, and something was vaguely familiar about it. He realized that it was a golf course that had been abandoned and reclaimed by the forest.

Money tips for cash-strapped retirees

Imagine retiring after working hard – really hard – all your life. Your house is paid off in full. So are your vehicles. You’ve always been careful to shun credit-card debt, so you’ve got none of that. Sounds like you’d be sitting pretty at that point, huh?

Maybe not.

More and more retirees are struggling to make ends meet in their golden years, in large part because they’re being walloped by the effects of inflation.

Retirees shunning debt is a mistake IMO. If one does not have much time left, why shun debt? It will be paid off out of your estate, so don't worry about it.

After all, this is what we have been doing as a culture for decades. :-)

Retirees shun debt because (a) no-one knows how much time they have between retiring and expiring (could be 25 years or more), (b) they have pride and independence, and wish to provide a decent estate to their beneficiaries, reasonably enough, and (c) most importantly, if you have no debt you have no repayments at a time when your income is lowest, and possibly most vulnerable to market vagaries.

That's three reasons why it's good to clear debt before you stop working.

I haven't posted my peak oil index for several months, but it seems like this is a good time to do so, since it hit an all-time low this month of 70.27, eclipsing the previous low set back in February of 71.22. A lower number indicates a more several oil problem, and high indicates a more relaxed situation.

The index calculates days supply (inventories divided by consumption) of all U.S. petroleum products, then multiplies by an inverse of the price of oil (WTI spot). All numbers use 12 month moving averages to smooth out seasonal factors, and the price is adjusted for inflation. Below is a graph of this index from 1970.

Here is the value of the index since 2000.

This is not a perfect measure of the situation for a number of reasons, but I like it, since it is a way of factoring in price, inventory and consumption all into one number. It is possible for government or some other agent to control one of those factors at a time, but not all three.

On the Global Public Media website (http://globalpublicmedia.com), there is a new podcast interview of Henry Groppe, a veteran oil analyst who states that the 2007 4th quarter oil price/supply crunch was caused by an overly optimistic IEA forecast of world production for this period. In his view, this forecast motivated the Saudis to cut production more than they otherwise would have during 2007. He believes that Saudi Arabia still has the ability to supply 8 to 9 million barrels per day for the next ten years, at least.

All this may or may not be true; however, he makes a very interesting and provocative statement during the interview, namely, that not only does the IEA overstate reserve figures, but that they have also been guilty of overstating monthly production figures from each country. The overstatement ranges from 0.5 to 2 million barrels per day for the world in aggregate. In his words, this is due to pressure put on the IEA by the producing countries, who discourage independent research and verification of their monthly production. If this is true, the data for Rembrandt's November Oilwatch Monthly report is unreliable. This also signifies that we need another means of tracking monthly oil production, to determine whether the world is still on a "bumpy plateau" or is about to fall off. Would any of you technically savvy types be interested in researching and verifying his statements?

That sounds like the David Strahan interview. There's quite a bit of discussion of it in yesterday's DrumBeat.

@TH in OR

I haven't listened to the Interview. The IEA usually does overstate monthly production figures and revises them down a month later. So in essence the latest figures usually are a bit too optimistic. However, your conclusion that the entire time series is too optimistic is a far fetched conclusion.

Also because the IEA numbers in my Oilwatch Monthly Report are compared to the EIA's estimates, which are usually in the same ball park. Much more proof would be needed before the preliminary conclusions that you reach can be taken seriously.

There are several items above that talk about Bali and coal. Along with those is this item, http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2007/12/13/5808/ which details how the US is sabotaging the talks. Below is my comment on that item, which includes links to an organization and its presentations I hope haven't been displayed on a previous DrumBeat.

Yesterday, I said BushCo’s climate policy is homicidal. I see no reason to change that assessment.

Fortunately, there are other, powerful organizations outside of the USG that can and are fighting the problem and offering a solution. One of these is achitecture2030, http://www.architecture2030.org/home.html One of the organization’s founders has an excellent presentation now being shown and repeated often on UCTV, as shown by this schedule, http://www.uctv.tv/schedule3.asp?keyword=13667 The presentation argues that if we can stop the building of additional coal-fired power plants, we will likely avoid dangerous climate change, http://www.architecture2030.org/current_situation/stop_coal.html This can be done by reducing the enegy used to power buildings, which use over 73% of all coal-produced electricity in the US.

If you get UCTV, or know someone who does, please watch this presentation; it’s more than worth the 1 hour. As this article notes, there is a sea-change happening within public opinion regarding climate change here in the US. The presentation is powerful, especially the way the call for action is made at its end. There are also webcast presentations, which I have yet to watch, http://www.architecture2030.org/2010_imperative/webcast.html and http://www.architecture2030.org/news/multimedia.html

There’s one way to circumvent the USG on climate change at the local level that can make all the difference: Amending building codes to require high enegy efficiency of all new and retroffit construction, which Santa Barbara just did. We may not be able to kick all the corrupt, venal politicos out of DC, but we can change the conditions on the ground at our own locales that will present the USG with a fait accompli where it can either lead or get out of the way.

Kunstler Forecasts for 2007

From Kunstler’s 2007 Forecast essay ( http://www.kunstler.com/Mags_Forecast2007.html ) I have extracted what seem to me a summary. Relating the forecasts to the world as I know it, it appears Kunstler should stick to writing stories. His score so far for 2007 is abysmal. There’s still a couple of weeks before year’s end, so there’s still a chance he could scrape through with some credibility. But I doubt it.

Don’t get me wrong I like his books and I think he has made a great contribution to raising Peak Oil awareness. If he’s making a living and achieving some sort of recognition from what he is doing good luck to him.

1. Foreclosures on subprime mortgages will run above the 50 percent range - Doubtful

I don’t know how to find out the number of subprime mortgages so it makes it difficult to work out what percent has foreclosed. I’ll leave it to others to work this one out.

2. The term "depression" might be applicable as this economy lurches into actual contraction of more than a few percentage points - Wrong

There are still a couple of weeks before the year ends but this one is looking a bit shaky.

3. A substantial drop in the Dow and other equity markets - Wrong

This one’s also looking shaky

4. The US dollar is poised to take a beating - True

It has. But then again it also depends on how you define a ‘beating’.

5. Oil - expect the bidding on the futures markets to regain intensity between the US, China, Europe, and Japan. A contracting US economy could take some demand out of the picture – Wrong

Sure, the oil price has gone up but I think it a little dramatic to phrase it in these terms.

6. Natural Gas - we could enter a home heating and electricity production crisis anytime. Massive price increases are likely to be required in order to reduce demand to the level of available supplies - Wrong

But, then again, we may not. From what I understand there has been price increase but ‘massive’?

7. A collision between Saudi Arabia and Iran. However this plays out, in proxy wars or in direct conflict, it can only play havoc with Middle East oil production and export - Wrong

As far as I can see it hasn’t happened yet. It’s true that if it does, it will play havoc. But so would any number of other Middle East scenarios.

8. Greater disorder in the Middle East through 2007. The US may suffer a "double Dien Bien Phu" event of having to vacate both Iraq and Afghanistan at the same time - Wrong

I really can’t see the Bush Administration implementing this before 2008, if ever.

9. China’s political stability depends on an export economy that could fall apart in 2007 as WalMart shoppers spend fewer and less valuable dollars on things made in China's factories. A hundred million unemployed factory workers might make things hairy for a central government that enjoys little true legitimacy - Wrong

I think China has been aware of this scenario for some time and have developed some plans around this event including diversifying their export markets and ‘raising’ internal demand.

10. Perhaps 2007 is the year that China turns aggressive - Wrong

11. American politics will become more delusional, more based on false hopes for salvaging our tragic misinvestments, and more disappointing - True

True, but, perhaps like Jim, I’m a bit biased. In the overall scheme of things a rather nebulous forecast.

12. 2007 will be the year that the US finally feels the pain. More disorder will appear in the system - Wrong

I really can’t comment on this I’m not US based. From the outside, the US appears as dysfunctional as ever.

13. The bid for leadership may not follow the current story line. Jokers and wild cards could step into the frame - Doubtful

Hasn’t happened yet and from what I see ‘the current story line’ is still looking strong.

Yeah. Looks like Kunstler was about a year too early with most of his predictions. ;-)

Ron Patterson

I agree!

However, some of his forecasts would indicate a degree of paranoia, along the lines of his Dow forecast on 26/11.

What did you expect from a theater major!!! Now if he had only made oscar predictions that is something we could have latched on to.

Were you the idiot that posted that comment on the Freaknomics blog?

David Blume gets $170,000 for ethanol station

Local huckster David Blume has managed to convince the city of Santa Cruz, CA to give him a lot and cash so he can establish an ethanol fueling station here.

[David Blume] proposes offering E100, the combination of 98 percent alcohol and 2 percent gasoline, at the Santa Cruz station. "This is a revolution," said Blume, a Santa Cruz resident since 2001. "We're going to be doing things never done before."

I have no idea where he plans to get his ethanol. Maybe he plans to distill it from kelp or whale carcasses.

Some previous discussion about Blume on TOD and R-Squared here, here, here, and here.

I think the one down at Redondo Beach is back-to-back, so-to-speak, with a liposuction center, where they are tanking up with V-100 Vivoleum..

Anybody read that item about methane hydrates. it seems our energy problems may be over. We can stop worrying about peak oil.

Yeah, our worries are over! We'll pull up the methane hydrates, burn it to produce CO2 and H2O, hydrolysis will free the hydrogen from the water, feed that to our fusion reactors that'll be coming online any day now, and we'll need just a tiny bit of electricity to liquify the CO2 and pump it back underground for safe storage. If we get really frisky we can evolve pure carbon from the CO2, use the heat and pressure from the fusion reactions, and produce a inexhaustible supply of industrial diamonds. Those diamonds can be used to tip the drills we'll need to hunt for the reservoirs where we'll place all of the CO2 for long term storage.

This is simply brilliant! I'm going to relax, stop reading TOD, and go back to business as usual.

Do you have any idea how massively dangerous methane hydrates have been in past mega-extinctions?

Your number one concern about methane hydrates should be: at what temperature do they begin dissolving spontaneously? Because the day it starts to happen, we probably should just kill ourselves, just the same as if we saw a mushroom cloud rising over our heads.

Hello Weatherman,

Destabilizing continental shelves by clathrate mining will lead to results as expressed in this painting:


more info [PDF warning]:


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

Anything more scientific that that comic book picture. That tsunami in 1946 didn't give a cause. Anybody done any research on this? Are hydrates proping up the continental shelves of the World?

Hello Weatherman,

In the TOD archives I have previously posted detailed links that explained the process of undersea slumps. Some scientists think the 1946 Unimak tsunami might have been caused by a methane burp. Also, the Storegga landslide:


Aboveground Blackhawk landslide:

Imagine an air hockey puck some five miles long, and two miles wide, roughly fifty feet thick, moving about 270 miles per hour for eighty seconds!!!
Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

I never know if you're joking or if you just have a really deadpan delivery.

Just in case you're not joking...methane hydrates are nothing new. Deffeyes wrote about them in his first book. The problem (aside from a likely climate disaster) is that no one knows how to get them up from the bottom of the ocean in economically interesting quantities.

Last time methane hydrates significantly melted and released into the atmosphere, the methane binded with free oxygen reducing atmospheric oxygen levels down to about 10%. Most species on the planet suffocated. Pumping methane into the atmosphere is suicide.

We will just have to convert our vehicle fleet and farm machinery to go on natural gas. less co2. If you want to get all eco we could replace all our coal fired power stations with gas. That would cut co2. Even use gas power stations to power electric cars.
thing is our worries have changed from energy suppolies back to global warming. We will need a transitional fuel to keep things going until renewables are ready. Hydrates couls be the answer.

The auto and oil industries are toast. Distracting people with talk of methane hydrates isn't going to change that. Electrified rail, ammonia from wind, solar (not always PV!) in some places, hydro, and most importantly conservation are the angles we need to work.

The auto industry is not toast. The auto industry as it exist today will change dramatically and those companies that develop the best PHEV and electric vehicles will be the "big 3 " of the future, will it be the same as the big 3 of the past, that depends on how forward thinking they are.

Nope, they're toast.

Their sales will drop, perhaps by up to 50% next year. Their pension plans are, of course, holding the pervasive mortgage scam junk. None of them have a sense of how they're going to survive putting out a low margin, low cost, high mileage vehicle even if their existing union agreements would allow them to retool plants to fit new realities. They do not.

There is going to be a giant whoosh as the wind goes out of the sails for that sector. Going forward ownership of a vehicle is going to have to have a profit motive associated with it. The neighborhood car, transport services, trucks bought with an eye on reducing overall VMT within a community? Those things have merit. The idea that someone will get a machine for personal use is probably going to fade pretty quickly, even if it is a 35 mpg ride.

Their sales will drop, perhaps by up to 50% next year.

Wow, pretty ridiculous prediction, right after Mcgonaw's Depression by Christmas. I agree with you those companies that keep the status quo and don't change are doomed, but the market for personal transport will remain, and those who incorporate efficiency and emerging battery and storage technologies will become dominant.

On a related note, JD didn't a pretty great post on electric trucks this week:


Also a nice news release on phoenix motorcars, their first generation pickup has a 100 mile range, 10 minute recharge and batteries are good for 250,000 miles.


anti, how can they assert "and batteries good for 250,000 miles"? Have they driven a production model (NOT an obsessively maintained prototype) 250,000 miles, from -10C to 38C? Do they even have a frozen design?

Heck, at least SCT said "perhaps": "perhaps by 50% next year".

Errol in Miami

I have a little insight into the auto business - just looked up from twiddling some network support software for the nation's largest Ford dealership to see if anything interesting had been posted.

There is a chill in the wind that runs deeper than the subzero temperatures we've been having ... the sort that gets the homes of salesmen foreclosed and finance people turning a baleful eye towards unmoving used vehicle inventory. These guys are frugal but I've been twiddling for them for a long time, they consider me a very good value, and they've not flinched at spending to make things run smoothly over the last four years ... but now things are ... different.

I have a GM dealer group that does about as much volume across five locations as the Ford guys do with one. My contact there splits his time between IT and support for the marketing guys with mass mailings, database stuff, etc. The humor went out of studying the regional sales report tacked to his wall a long, long time ago. When the best one in the area is getting 53% of the expected sales and the smaller ones can't make 30% ... well ... I think grim is the right word to use.

My dad managed a ford garage for about 40 years.

There are some industries that may adapt to peak oil, but American car companies are not one of them. The corporate culture is stuck in the 50's and 60's. They still think that muscle cars and big iron will save them.

In trying to think of a good adjective to discribe the ford corporate rep's, the best I can come up with is sleazy. With a big helping of clueless throw in.

Not the kind of people that could innovate their way out of a box.

The dealerships may survive - cut sales force to the bone, keep the service drives open, and find ways to keep the old stuff well tuned and moving. Don't know how closely you follow dealership economics, but the service drive covers 80% of cost in a sloppy operation and as much as 105% in one that is well run.

Now if someone would get busy and design, say, an ammonia powered engine that'll fit in most of the big Ford platforms that would generate an ongoing flow of work. Oh, wait, Hydrogen Engine Center Ford 300-6 clones? Already tested and ready for install, just need some good safety procedures and whatnot, and a bunch of ammonia from stranded wind?

We get it right and we could keep light trucks for utility work, hauling, snow pushing, etc, at least here in the Midwest, and they'd be crude oil free except for crankcase oil and gear lube.

Dad's dealership was split into two department, sales and service were separate and both had to make their own books balance. The dealership was owned by two cousins so one took sales and one took service.

The sales side of the house has been adapting to current market conditions by taking on new franchises. They now have Kia and Hyundai.

The Kia were real crap, but so cheap they just fly out of the showroom. They broke so often the service department always had rows of them waiting for repair.

Tell dad to give the cars away and make his money on the repair bills.

BOC, I have been watching Ford stock since it was in the $6 range and Ford Jr Jr was considering taking the company private. They hired a new hot shot CEO but I have seen nothing come of that move. The company seems stuck in the middle of the last century and doomed for extinction unless they are willing to make some major changes. I have been hoping that the US could keeps some manufacturing capatity here but hope is fading.

It didn't help that GMAC sold subprime mortgages. Look out for that one. GM sold off part of GMAC to Cerberus to raise cash on the condition that GMAC met certain performance targets - if it fails in that, Cerberus can hand its share right back.

I had forgotten about that but you're dead right - GMAC was cut loose, but it could come home to roost ... and with the subprime implosion that seems certain.

Do you have any sense of the magnitude of the problem? Does it bury GM? Does the legal protection for banks wrapped up in the sad little Bush bailout do anything to protect them?

Has the following article on the use of anaerobic bacteria to give new life to old fields been commented on on TOD?


I saw this yesterday in the DrumBeat. I see several problems with this, mainly with the ability to get the bacteria concentration high enough in a below ground environment. Putting these oil eating critters in a water solution of billions of microbes per liter, then injecting enough of them into old oil fields seems like the impossible task. The concentration must be HUGE to get any effect.

Our human digestive systems produce CH4 (methane) in an aerobic environment that is controlled in temp and solution concentration (correct amount of food/water/electrolytes). Can this be made to work in underground oil deposits where temps are high or low and oil has toxic levels of elements like sulphur, vanadium, etc? If this does work in oil fields, what is the EROEI based on having to possibly drill many new holes to inject the solution containing the microbes?

All just MHO.

Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch and Deutsche Bank Subpoenaed for Mortgage Derivatives Fraud

The New York state Attorney-General has sent subpoenas to banking giants after announcing an investigation into the sub-prime market crash.

According to the New Zealand Herald, Atty Gen Andrew Cuomo has sent subpoenas to several banks, including Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch and Deutsche Bank.

The banks are being asked to show how they assessed the quality of the home loans underlying derivatives such as mortgage-backed securities and collateralised debt obligations (CDOs), the newspaper says.

Mr Cuomo suggests that the banks creating the derivatives could be in trouble for failing in their legal obligation to ensure that prospectus information on the derivatives being sold was true.


The IATA article, above, on the airline industry is worrying.


It says the industry's profits, after tax, for 2008 is forecast to be $US5 billion which sounds large.

However, the profit is very small when you read IATA's full forecast

In fact, it's miniscule! IATA's forecast for 2008 shows that on a revenue of $US514 billion, fuel costs are $US149 billion and non fuel costs are $US349 billion. After taxes the airline industry profits are a measly $US5 billion, which is only 1% of the revenues.

Here is a picture from the report showing peak airline revenue growth in 2004.

click to enlarge

If carbon dioxide from human activities really is heating up the earth, the first thing that should be cancelled is unnecessary air travel.

Time to short sell airline stocks?

I am short Delta Airliens (DAL).


Airliens? On purpose?

Could you pretty please email me at gwbush at dumbfuck dot org? I have an address for you I got from oilmanbob but your spam filter must hate me ...

Russia to deliver nuclear fuel to Iran

"We absolutely intend to complete Bushehr. Accordingly we will certainly fulfill our obligations to deliver fuel" for the power station, he said.

Shmatko said the company had decided not to reveal the sensitive delivery date of the nuclear fuel to be used at Bushehr, although it has already been prepared for delivery.

"As this theme is too politicised we have decided not to announce the date of delivery of fuel. You'll hear of the fact of delivery when it's delivered," Shmatko said.


The new energy bill may require major usages in ethanol and cellulosic ethanol. Enactment of this bill may drive both the costs of gasoline and food much higher more than tripling the use of grain ethanol.

In the spring of 2007 people began to notice food costs spiraling out of control:


The increased use of ethanol was blamed.

With poor 2007 grain harvests and near record low grain inventories this bill is likely to spark rampant food inflation and cause the price of gasoline to soar as the ethanol component is added in. The provision for even greater usage of cellulosic ethanol usage is likely to have a negative impact on the economy and ecology of the world without providing a solution to fuel needs as energy inputs to make cellulosic ethanol are high. The United States is likely to become a net food importer if the usage of ethanol is pushed to this new limit. There is almost no cellulosic ethanol production in the world currently as it is cost prohibitive to make cellulosic ethanol. Requiring cellulosic ethanol is likely to cause gasoline prices to soar and result in the isolation of the rural areas and further out suburbs.

US backed oil rich provinces secede from Bolivia - Civil War!

Four Bolivian provinces on Thursday declared their intention to break away from the central government in an open revolt against President Evo Morales.


President Evo Morales put this nation’s armed forces on a state of alert on Thursday as four of Bolivia’s provinces prepared declarations of secession. On Thursday, he claimed that the autonomy statute was illegal and that the United States Embassy in La Paz was coordinating destabilization efforts here against his government.


UK warns against travel to Bolivia

The Foreign Office today changed its travel advice for Bolivia. We now advise against all but essential travel to the cities of Santa Cruz, Cochabamba, Trinidad, Sucre, Tarija and Cobija, due to the current tense political situation. The relevant summary point now reads:

"We advise against all but essential travel to the cities of Santa Cruz, Cochabamba, Trinidad, Sucre, Tarija and Cobija. There is a particular risk of violent disturbances in these cities at the current time. Travellers to other parts of Bolivia, including La Paz, should also exercise extreme caution and avoid large crowds. The political situation in Bolivia is very tense and there is the risk that demonstrations and confrontations might break out at short notice.


Looks like the US is trying to restore the death-squad junta hegemony it had over Latin America. But it won't work this time. There ain't no commie boogy man to frighten the children with.