DrumBeat: December 25, 2007

Oil prices may go down in 2008

Many energy experts are predicting that the price of oil will fall in 2008 from its current level of about $93 a barrel.

Oil steady after holiday, Mexico ports reopen Behind the predictions: a slowing US economy and stronger production from both OPEC and non-OPEC sources. In addition, tensions with Iran seem to have eased somewhat, and the supply of oil from northern Iraq appears to be better. Increased production of ethanol and biodiesel will also help.

Oil steady after holiday, Mexico ports reopen

Oil was steady above $94 a barrel on Wednesday, although Mexican export terminals reopened following a cold front that had helped fuel pre-holiday gains.

Global tyre shortage threatens to stop mining industry in its tracks

Times have never been better for the mining industry. Driven by insatiable demand from an industrialising China, the industry is awash in unprecedented billions. Yet the flip side of the boom is that every nook and cranny of the infrastructure, after years of under-investment, is groaning under the strain of the round-the-clock race to dig up everything from iron ore to coal to gold and diamonds destined for ports around the world.

Your Stuff's Backstory: If It Isn't Grown, It Must Be Mined

Where does your stuff come from? Before the store, before the factory, where did it really begin? If it isn't made of wood, cloth, or other living matter, it was dug out of the ground.

Russia's Tatneft says to replace production in 07

Russian mid-sized oil firm Tatneft expects this year's growth in its reserves to exceed production, the company said on Tuesday.

"The growth in our reserves in 2007 is expected to reach 34 million tonnes," Russia's sixth-largest oil producer said in a statement. Through the first eleven months of the year, Tatneft produced 23.6 million tonnes of oil and gas condensate.

Six million barrels of Iraqi crude oil up for grabs

Iraq has set up for auction six million barrels of crude oil from the city of Kirkuk up for grabs on January 15.

The bidding deadline is December 31, A spokesman for the Iraqi oil ministry, Assem Jihad, told KUN on Tuesday. Jehad did not reveal if Iraq had steeled the bids for a previous auction for selling other six million barrels that were slated for December 31.

Iraq seeks Russian company to develop oil pipeline

Iraq has asked a Russian oil company to present a bid to repair and develop a pipeline to carry oil from northern Iraq Kirkuk oil fields to Syria's Mediterranean Port of Banyas.

Vietnam: Thieves arrested at refinery construction site

Twenty-three people were caught red-handed stealing building materials from the construction site of Vietnam's first oil refinery in Quang Ngai Province Monday.

Border guards at the Dung Quat Port said they recovered over 200 kilo-grams of iron and steel, along with some anodes, which were stolen from the building site for the Dung Quat Oil Refinery.

Beijing to switch to cleaner fuel: report

China will phase in cleaner motor fuel in Beijing in the next two months while keeping pump prices unchanged, a local newspaper said on Tuesday, in a move to clean the capital's smoggy skies ahead of the Beijing Olympic Games.

Oil product wholesalers and retailers will be required to start supplying gasoline and diesel fuel conforming to the cleaner Euro IV standard from January 1, and complete a replenishing of their tanks with the new fuel by the end of February, the Beijing News said.

Chavez's oil has nothing to do with his barbs at Bush

I'll be burning Hugo Chavez's oil this winter to stay warm.

While I personally am not eligible to receive the Venezuelan oil Chavez has donated to low-income Native Americans in Alaska, my roommate is. Because she's Tlingit, a native tribe located in Southeast Alaska and western Canada, we'll be warming ourselves during the cold Alaskan winter with oil donated by a man who has called US President George W. Bush more nasty names than Hillary Clinton.

Green before it was 'in': Santa Clara banks land

Spurred by the oil crisis of three decades ago, the city in the late 1970s and early 1980s snapped up that outside land. In doing so, it became among the region's first to explore what's only recently become a cause celebre for cities big and small: Going green.

"It's become popular, hasn't it?" said Don Von Raesfeld, Santa Clara's city manager at the time, chuckling about the city's unusual buying spree. By planning a chain of wind, water and steam plants on land that otherwise would go undeveloped, the city hoped to protect customers of its hometown power company from massive rate hikes.

Archbishop warns over environment

The Archbishop of Canterbury has warned that human greed is threatening the environmental balance of the Earth.

In his Christmas sermon, Dr Rowan Williams called on Christians to do more to protect the environment.

The planet should not be used to "serve humanity's selfishness", he told worshippers at Canterbury Cathedral.

A-Z of tips for a green Christmas

Are you dreaming of a green Christmas? Follow our A-Z of tips and find out how you can enjoy the festive season without costing the earth.

Nepal: YCL does Robin Hood!

Pretty much like the legendary Robin Hood and his band of outlawed men who were known for robbing the rich to provide for the poor, cadres of the Young Communist League (YCL) distributed more than 12,000 liters of kerosene freely to common people Monday after seizing it from Syarsekali Petrol Pump in Sunsari district during a raid a day before.

Reports said that the YCL men distributed the kerosene oil to thousands of common people by organising a programme where each family received two liters of kerosene. The market price for a liter of Kerosene oil is Rs 55.

Australia: Watchdog opens another oil front

THE competition watchdog plans to break big oil's control of the nation's fuel storage facilities in a bid to open up the retail petrol market to competition from imports.

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Graeme Samuel told The Australian there was insufficient storage at oil terminals to encourage the development of independent retailers, who could help keep prices lower by using cheaper imported refined petrol to compete with the oil majors.

Kamchatka Gas Crisis Won't Spread to Moscow

President of the Moscow Fuel Association Evgeny Arkusha has told RIA Novosti information agency that there will be no gasoline crisis in the Russia capital of the type now occurring in Kamchatka. “The situation with the problems of production and delivery of fuel in Kamchatka is not reflected in Moscow at all,” he said.

Gasoline sales at filling stations in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatka are limited to 30 liters per person because of a shortage of fuel.

China's oil consumption edges up

China's apparent oil consumption crept up just one per cent in November from a year earlier, hit by fuel shortages that persisted through the month in spite of a string of government moves to smooth supplies.

China's refiners retreated from the market in the autumn because low state-set prices, combined with global crude markets climbing toward $100 per barrel, were causing massive losses.

Algerian fuel reserve enough for 40 years ahead - minister

Algerian Energy and Mines Minister Shakib Khalil said Monday that Algeria's fuel reserve would last for 40 years ahead, revealing that there was more than 1.5 million square kilometers of Algerian lands contained oil and natural gas reserves.

Ukraine ups gas price ceiling for industry 30%

Ukraine's government said on Tuesday it had raised the gas price ceiling for industrial consumers by 30 percent for next year to $185 per 1,000 cubic metres (tcm).

Electrifying America : Social Meanings of a New Technology - Book review

Commonly taken for granted in today's society, a century ago the electrification of modern lighting and home and industrial activities was cutting edge technology. Other than those brief periods when an ice storm or summer thundershower disrupts service, few tend to remember how extensive and relatively recent the changes in our lives that electricity has provided.

IPO values Saudi PetroRabigh at half project cost

Saudi Arabia's Rabigh Refining and Petrochemical Company (PetroRabigh) will raise 4.6 billion riyals ($1.23 billion) from the sale of a 25 percent stake in an IPO next month, the offering's lead manager said on Tuesday.

Sinopec shuts Fujian refinery for maintenance

Sinopec Corp has shuttered the 80,000 bpd Fujian oil refinery for 40 days of planned maintenance, to start work on connecting the plant with a new multi-billion-dollar complex jointly funded by Exxon Mobil and Saudi Aramco.

Oil Price Predictions and Break-Even Prices

The US Department of Energy “Annual Energy Outlook, 2008″ predicts that oil prices will decline to $58 by 2106, measured in constant 2006 dollars, in their most likely scenario. They predict real prices will rise from 2016 through 2030 to $72 in constant 2006 dollars.

Corn prices take a toll on popular holiday dish - Tamale prices rising

Corn prices have gone up steadily for several years now -- a trend some blame on a national effort to use the corn-based fuel. The Texas Department of Agriculture reports corn prices have risen 55 percent since 2003, and Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples has called ethanol the No. 1 renewable fuel in America.

Ethanol mandate should continue to fuel corn boom

The energy bill recently signed into law will have a huge impact on the nation's corn growers, said the head of the St. Louis-based National Corn Growers Association.

"The bill is spectacular. I don't think a lot of farmers realize yet just how significant it is," said Rick Tolman, the association's CEO.

Beef prices fuel rise in cattle rustling

A vestige of the Old West, cattle rustling lives on in remote parts of Texas, partly driven by high beef prices.

"There are more cattle-rustling cases today than there ever have been before," said Dean Bohannon, one of 27 investigators hired by the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association.

‘Agflation’ Finds a Place in the Dictionary

Most new words that have gained acceptance in recent times can be traced to the world of IT and cyberspace, itself a relatively new word. But my bet is that the word, which will hit the headlines in the next few years, is Agflation: inflation that is limited primarily to the agricultural sector. Thus, we are likely to witness an interesting scenario where most manufactured goods and services will see the per-unit cost going down on account of standardisation and commoditization for mass markets; but for a change, the prices of agricultural goods will rise. This is in marked contrast to all forecasts and trends estimated by the FAO till very recently.

Europe's building requirements are falling behind the times

With rising energy prices and the need to drastically reduce carbon dioxide emissions, a new study finds that current thermal performance requirements for buildings are no longer adequate. Out of 100 European cities studied, almost all were shown to have inadequate energy efficiency requirements for buildings, according to a new study - U-values for Better Energy Performance of Buildings - commissioned by the European Insulation Manufacturers Association (EURIMA). Whilst thermal insulation has been identified as the most cost-effective solution to tackling climate change, the evidence from this new study is clear - Europe's building requirements are currently failing to seize the potential for cost savings and climate security.

Experts Warn Russia Seeks Influence Over Vast Caspian Oil Reserves

Rising oil prices, a resurgent Russia and continued turbulence in the Middle East have intensified competition for control of the vast oil and gas reserves in the Caspian Sea. The competition, involving big business and power politics, pits Russia against the West. At stake, some experts say, is world domination of the energy market. VOA's Brian Padden recently traveled to Azerbaijan and Germany, and has prepared a series of reports on the politics of oil. This story looks at transnational pipelines, and how they have become battlegrounds for influence and power.

India: Blockade by tribal protesters hits oil production

A tribal group in the northeastern state of Assam has held state-owned Oil India Ltd (OIL) to ransom with production of crude oil and natural gas being hit yesterday following an oil blockade, the third this month, officials said.

Russia may raise oil export duties to $332-333 per ton

Russia may raise oil export duties to $332-333 per metric ton from February 1, in line with world market trends, a senior Finance Ministry official said on Tuesday.

The Russian government adjusts export duty on crude and petroleum products every two months, depending on changes in the Urals blend price on world markets.

RF Oil Reserves Growth Surpasses Oil Production

The growth of explored oil reserves in Russia exceeded the growth of oil production this year, reports Head of Minpriroda Yuri Trutnev. Oil reserves growth in 2007 will total 550 million tons. A total of 44 hydrocarbon deposits were discovered, which ensured the growth of gas reserves by 670 billion cu. m. The state recovered about RUR40 billion (USD1.6 billion) from the auctions on the development of deposits. According to Minpromenergo, oil production is to grow by 2.4% this year against 2006 to 492 million tons

South Korea's STX buys oil project stakes from Shell

Energy companies and trading houses in South Korea, the world's fourth-largest crude importer, seek investment in overseas oil projects for exploration access and production rights.

South Korea Arrests 2 Captains in Huge Oil Spill

The South Korean Coast Guard said Monday that it had arrested the captains of a barge and a tugboat that caused an oil spill this month, the nation’s worst.

Russia will keep oil wealth in bonds in 2008

Russia will keep its $151 billion Oil and Gas Fund entirely in sovereign bonds next year and will not invest a $19 billion sub-fund in corporate debt or stock, a top Finance Ministry official told Reuters on Tuesday.

...The decision means that Russia will not join this year the ranks of countries like China or Singapore, which have large sovereign wealth funds leading to some concern in the developed world over possible aggressive acquisition strategy and low transparency.

22 die, 80 hurt in Iraq bombing

A suicide car bomb exploded outside a residential complex belonging to a state-run oil company north of Baghdad on Tuesday, killing 22 people and wounding 80, police, local hospital officials and the U.S. military said.

Sinopec to complete refinery by January

Sinopec Group will complete the construction of a 12.5 billion yuan refinery in Qingdao in East China's Shandong Province by the end of January, a move to further tap rising demand.

CNPC to build refineries in Shandong and Yunnan

China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), the nation's largest oil producer, plans to build two refineries in Shandong and Yunnan to boost its capacity.

Oil states urged to mind interests of non-producers

The Arab Consumers Union Tuesday urged oil states to help non-producers as oil price hikes threaten to over-burden budgets and economies and affect living conditions.

A union statement said it hopes Arab producers show their customary generosity and care toward non-producers and offer solutions and proposals to alleviate the economic burden of soaring prices.

Pope laments selfishness, harm to environment in Xmas homily

Recalling Christmas homilies of the fourth-century Bishop Gregory of Nyssa, who lamented a "universe torn and disfigured by sin," Pope Benedict also spoke of the environment.

"What would he say if he could see the state of the world today, through the abuse of energy and its selfish and reckless exploitation?" he asked.

Climate Change Malpractice

THE INK was barely dry on the energy bill signed by President Bush last week when Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen L. Johnson used it as a wobbly crutch to deny California's request to institute tough tailpipe emissions regulations. "The Bush administration is moving forward with a clear national solution, not a confusing patchwork of state rules, to reduce America's climate footprint from vehicles," he said. Bad call.

Warm wishes throughout this holiday season from the staff of The Oil Drum!

Merry Christmas!

(Well...hopefully not too warm! ;-)

Merry Christmas, Leanan, and All the very Best Wishes to all, may you find Health and Happiness in this Season

Heading Out

Ditto, Merry Christmas Leanan, and Mahalo for all you do to promote knowledge on this site.

Merry Christmas to Leanan, Stoneleigh, Ilargi and all those making this possible.

And Merry Christmas to all the regulars, WT,RR, Darwinian, Memmel, Airdale, SCT, S390, Fleam, musashi , River, Nate, Big Al, and all the rest. You know who you are, and since you post here, the Gov. does too.

Thank you for all the things I have learned here.

John Carr

TOD Staff:

Merry Christmas. Thanks so much for all the work you have so graciously donated to the cause of edifying the rest of us on our energy predicament.

Leanan: Thanks for all the Drumbeats, and I love your little "card" at the bottom of today's Drumbeat.


Echo, merry Winter-solstice, and thank you all for expanding my receding horizons!

And a belated "ho ho ho" to Leanan from the always-late Hawaii timezone.

Thanks for giving of yourself to make this site the addictive pleasure it is. If one must get bad news, far better to get it delivered with wit, depth, proper context, and in good company. You play a pivotal role in making that happen.

A very merry Bacchus' Birthday, Lhiannan Sidhe.

Yes Merry Christmas Leanan, you put an incredible amount of work into this site!

from the satisfaction i got by watching SCT in action, i bet (and hope) Leanan feels a great sense of reward in doing this everyday. am i mistaken?


Wisconsin says gas will be $2.30 in 2035. (Adj. for inflation)

If that's true, then Deflation has ruled.
And Bread is 10cents a loaf.

It may well. I'm wearing a 30-cent pair of slippers right now, 50 cent jeans, and a dollar fleece jacket. My big splurge yesterday was having a $1 burger at micky-D's and using maybe a buck's worth of gas riding my motorcycle around.

Deflation ....... bring the good times back!

I'm assuming the Pope is talking about Jesus. Hopefully, Jesus would tell the Pope to get cracking on worldwide birth control. The Pope is the last person on earth from which I would be taking instructions with respect to the destruction of the earth.

… agree, I’m still puzzled though ; who is doing the better job the Pope or Mr. Mugabe ? (sarcanol)

PEMEX (Mexican State Oil Company) reported lower oil production for November 2007, monthly production dropped 8% YOY.

Average production for 2007 compared to 2006 dropped little more than 5%.


PEMEX reported higher exports for the month.

PEMEX 2007 average exports are about 5% less than crude oil exports for 2006.


Pup55 at PO.com has started a 2008 Oil Price Challenge. Nothing to win but glory, but if you're interested, post your guesses for high, low, and average prices.

MEES is out with their OPEC Crude Oil Production figures for November.

Some surprises. Iran was down by 450 thousand barrels per day. UAE was down 400 kb/d but that was due to maintenance. OPEC 12 (excluding Angola and Iraq) was down 590 kb/d while total OPEC was down 420 kb/d. They did not include Ecuador in their figures.

The figures below show change from October to November in thousands of barrels per day.

Algeria _______ 10
Angola _______ 50
Indonesia _____ 0
Iran ________-450
Iraq _________ 120
Kuwait _______ 50
Libya ________ 10
Nigeria _______ 10
Qatar ________ 20
S Arabia ______ 160
UAE ________-400
Venezuela _____ 0
Total ________-420
OPEC 10 _____ -590

You will recall that MEES showed Iran increasing production (from storage) last month by 560 thousand barrels per month. So the drop this month just shows them coming back in line...somewhat.

Ron Patterson

Fill me in please.. wasn't OPEC supposed to increase production with 500,000 bpd from Nov 1:st?

Yes but maintenance in the UAE has caused a decrease in November. We will not really know the story until we get the December figures in.

Ron Patterson

That UAE maintenance was well known since August/September 2007.


You forgot the link...

Thanks. I've fixed it in your post.

I know it's going to be a slow day on TOD today, but for those of you who would like an entertaining but politically relevant tidbit of Christmas cheer, hope you'll enjoy the following video:

"It's a Blunderful Life" Starring George W. Bush


Ozonehole...Thanks and Merry Xmas...I printed out your still of shrub and the shoe shopper and stapled it over my dart board!...Snipped out the photo of the kid :)

RE: Experts Warn Russia Seeks Influence Over Vast Caspian Oil Reserves...

Leave it to the VOA to come up with such under-whelming conclusions, assumptions and 'oh, really' headlines. VOAs latest has definitely been stamped 'shrub/vader approved'.

I did a google search on Vugar Bayramov and got more hits than a search of George Washington turned up. Mr Bayramov has lots of hats in the ring. What color will the revolution in Azerbaijan be? Pink and Orange have been used...I think black looks well on Vugar (see photo in link)...and what did Vugar say?


'Vugar Bayramov with the Center for Economic and Social Development in Baku, says Azerbaijan, which has vast oil reserves, has aligned itself firmly with the West, and supports the building of a second pipeline, called Nabucco.

"West has real traditions, which I mean, big tradition, experience to make richer, to give more benefit, to neighbor or friend countries, but Russia doesn't have such experience," said Bayramov.'

It turns out that Vugar is also marketing manager for Mercedes-Benz, Chrysler and Jeep in Azerbiajan.


Vugar also said...snip...'Another part of my project is on credibility and economic reforms. In Azerbaijan the credibility criterion is at the heart of debates over the timing of economic reform. In a country embarking on a transition to capitalism, policy credibility is an especially important issue because of the revolutionary nature of the societal transformation'...snip...

And he continued (notice the remark re NGOs)...snip...'There exist competitive, adversarial political parties, where the political parties are sufficiently organized and resourceful to gather and distribute reform-relevant information. However NGOs can play significant role of establishing of credibility'...snip...


It appears that Vugar is attempting yet another 'colored revolution' and suprise!...NGOs are involved!...But, in this attempt the stakes are much higher than those in Georgia and the Ukraine. This time its about the oil and the distribution of the oil. Mr. Bayramov should familiarize himself with the tactics of Sun Tzu, since he has chosen to stand in the way of China, Russia, Iran and the remainder of the SCO.

It appears he is the 'chosen one' of the US in this bid to place Azerbijan in the US camp. I wonder if Vugar has given any thought to the odds against his passing by natural cause? :)

Merry Xmas Vugar and to all on TOD...especially Leanan, and staff.

Merry Christmas Leanan. Hi River.

Azerbaijan has been in the U.S. camp since the first half of the '90s, when it used American leverage to hold off Russian pressure and build the million-barrel-a-day Baku-Ceyhan oil pipeline to the Mediterranean. Today, Azerbaijan and Georgia together anchor U.S. influence on the Caspian.

The issue is more important now because of the East-West struggle to control the other side of the Caspian -- Turkmenistan's and Kazakhstan's natural gas. The U.S. and the European Union are being out-run so far by Russia, whose pipelines seem likelier to grab that gas and take it to Europe, shoring up Russia's dominance of the European market.

The VOA report does not break news, as you suggest. But it's an important reminder of this much-ignored battle.

Steve LeVine, author
The Oil and the Glory

From Asia Times.



Merry Xmas Steve.

The main problems the US faces in attempts to control oil flow from the Stans are the same that I posted a couple of times already.

1) Logistic nightmare to sustain military installations, personnel, and support ongoing operations in the Stans.

2) US is playing this game giving away home field advantage to the SCO...Its in their backyard.

3) US economy is weakened due to incompetent and corrupt economic and political leadership and rediculous tax cuts for the wealthy during two expensive ongoing wars. Is shrub an idealogue, plain stupid, greedy, or all of the above?

4) US military is already stretched very thin due to other commitments.

5) US State Dept and US diplomacy are in the hands of idealogues, not objective leadership. US foreign policy is seen by the rest of the world for what it is...Empire building. The US economy will not sustain empire building because empire building is a business. Businesses have business models and to remain solvent they must have ROI.

6) US intelligence (?) on Iran/China/Russia is next to zero. The SCO is using Sun Tzu tactics to obfuscate their aims.

7) IOCs will soon be a thing of the past unless they give up the rediculous PSAs they demand for proven reserves...see Iraq, Venesuela, etc.

8) Probably the worst problem for the US at this time is that the country has been sharply divided along political, religious, racial, economic, ethnic, and idealogical lines and the gap between have/have nots is widening. The poor academic standards in the US public schools are only making the situation worse. Division does not make us stronger!

9) Our great ally in the ME, Israel, has turned to a near liability after their poor performance against Hezbollah and their ill advised attacks on the Lebanese North. The strength of Israel lay in their 'unbeatable' image...no more. I dont know if Israel should be placed in the debit or credit column, do you? Will we now have to defend Israel?

10) Other...I must leave or miss xmas dinner and suffer the wrath of towmbo. Hope to discuss this situation with you more in future.

You are absolutely correct that this is an important battle. What are our chances of winning when considering 1-10 above? Remember, we are giving up the standard 3 points(probably more since this game has no refs) for home field advantage...And, since I am in a hurry I probably neglected some aspects of the situation. Congratulations on your book, I am looking forward to reading it.

Hi River, I myself went out for Christmas dinner and saw your comprehensive response only today. I hope you see this. If not, I'm sure we'll catch up with each other down the road on TOD.

I agree with the military and empire aspects that you point out. But this is not primarily a military policy (though the Pentagon has treated Central Asia that way since the mid-1990s).

It's economic. It's executable through ante-ing agents -- the U.S. Export-Import Bank, for instance, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development -- that can throw a few million dollars into the pot to get pipeline feasibility and engineering studies done, and take a few percentage points in a trans-Caspian pipeline so as to calm the nerves of commercial banks about political risk.

Power down the road in this region is going to continue to be projected through oil and natural gas pipelines. The military base in Kyrgyzstan is a nice toy for the Pentagon. But not necessary for the U.S. to play on a level playing field with SCO.

Best Steve

As someone who used to live in Taiwan, I found the following article especially interesting:

Energy crisis could save first nuclear plant: AEC
REVERSE: The Atomic Energy Council is actively training evaluation personnel for the renewal process, the head of the council's Institute of Nuclear Energy Research said
By Meggie Lu
Tuesday, Dec 25, 2007, Page 2

The current world energy crisis and global warming threat may lead to an eventual reversal of the country's decision to close the First Nuclear Power Plant, an Atomic Energy Council (AEC) official said yesterday.


I apologize if this has been posted before but it seems interesting...And, its sort of like throwing a bone to the nuke guys that hang out here at times...If this thing gets into distribution NIMBY might pass from popular usage...


'Toshiba has developed a new class of micro size Nuclear Reactors that is designed to power individual apartment buildings or city blocks. The new reactor, which is only 20 feet by 6 feet, could change everything for small remote communities, small businesses or even a group of neighbors who are fed up with the power companies and want more control over their energy needs'...snip...

'The whole whole process is self sustaining and can last for up to 40 years, producing electricity for only 5 cents per kilowatt hour, about half the cost of grid energy'...snip...

The camel's nose goes under the tent with this one. There has been a good bit of work done on nuclear space ship engines, which are about this size, and now maybe we are seeing the fruits of those efforts in a terrestrial system.

Scale it up 10x, which is certainly already done, and you've got the base load to go with renewable sources like wind and solar. I think I want one ...

The micro design does seem to address part of the 'failure mode' concerns.

Now...where is the plan for the waste?

in Japan in 2008 and to begin marketing the new system in Europe and America in 2009

I have seen the story posted several places in the last few days. There seems to be a lot of interest.

If this technology is as marketable as say, a TV, then I expect quite a fight. It may very well be a fight out of the public's view.


“A disruptive technology or disruptive innovation is a technological innovation, product, or service that eventually overturns the existing dominant technology or status quo product in the market “

River, SCT,

In case you haven't seen it yet, here's the real bone for all nukers. After watching this little video, maybe someone will learn something.

All that Glitters is not Gold

I am wholly and completely unimpressed with antinuclear fear mongering. This sort of thing plays to the emotional response of those without a background in science and/or engineering. The same people who protest nukes(radioactive!) will be out protesting coal plants(mercury), hydro(salmon migration), wind turbines(bird kill), and solar(heavy metals from manufacturing).

Latte liberal do gooder environMENTALists are just one of the many hazards the human race faces. They will first provide obstruction and then later a tasty, tender form of long pig, and they'll never grasp the principles of cause and effect that first had people spitting on them and then later got them spitted.

I am wholly and completely unimpressed with antinuclear fear mongering.

VS the successful human history of dealing with nuclear thus far?

Now, what is your plan for making sure other nations on the planet can have their own reactors for electrical power? Or for refining fission material to use in reactors?

I've said this before but it bears repeating - I don't mind if everyone else freezes and/or starves, so long as the lights stay lit and the tummies stay full around here.

Those of you in other locations are welcome to make a survey of your surroundings, as I have done, and then get involved in a remediation effort in your area, as I am doing.

Provide leadership. If that isn't you seek out a leader and ask for a task that suits you, freeing them to do other things. The hour grows late and there is no third option.

Not aimed at Eric in particular, its just that this was a good place to make a point - if we turned half of the armchair quarterbacking on Drum Beat into forward motion on a local basis the daily discussion would not suffer a bit - perhaps fewer posts, but there'd be more "Hey, I had the following success here doing [X]" being reported by those involved.

The meme that the world will somehow be "saved" is a foolish one. We have festering corruption atop tottering infrastructure with too many people using it. Something will give and reading here gives the sense this will be sooner rather than later.

If everyone else freezes or starves, that will create HUGE resources for the pathogens and parasites that feed on human flesh, and disease will run rampant via vectors through whatever community you have established.

Just a friendly yuletide winter solstice heads-up.

Not if we bury 'em first.

And for good measure, plant some corn over them? Word is the native Americans taught my ancestors to do this with fish, but I'll betcha it'll work just as well with corpses.

It'll be fine with me if you plant me that way. It'll give me a chance to donate whatever stuff is in me back into the circle of life.

I have taken so much - and enjoyed it. It would do me good to know I can give something back. I have left my family instructions to this effect.


Word is the native Americans taught my ancestors to do this with fish,

All part of the con job of "selling America". A land where wild animal protein is so plentiful, you can bury it for PLANTS?

Ever bury animal protein with plants? What happens is the skunks, canines, foxes, vultures, bears, ..... dig it up to eat the buried animal protein. The action of digging does not promote plant growth.

What fraction of the folks around you are actually able to live on what they produce? Do they get their food from the supermarket chain and do they use propane, gasoline or electricity made elsewhere or from fossil fuels? Question, who makes your shoes and socks?

So called "leadership" only works when there are people that want to follow and the environmentalist that you disparage have been trying to provide such leadership for decades. The trouble is that it takes a rather well educated person to understand the message and the alternative message of "have fun today" is much easier to sell. Of course, there are the exceptionally radical environmentalists who produce more noise and few solutions and they tend to grab the attention of the MSM. Personally, I've wasted decades trying to talk to people about these issues. Almost nobody I've talked to wants to here the basic message, let alone change their lives to actually do something about it.

Given that you are likely correct about future problems post Peak Oil, do you really want to throw many more nukes out there in a hurry and start a big fuel reprocessing effort? Do you really want the security necessary to prevent this system from becoming a target of the masses of people who will suddenly find that they are no longer required by the capitalist system, once China takes over all the production?
What will you do after the first really big nuclear accident in the U.S. hits the public psyche?

E. Swanson

Today I don't think very many of my neighbors could live on what they produce. I think the time to ramp that up is measured in months here, not years, and for that we are very lucky.

The MSM is a huge part of the problem - no longer media, but a long duration, low intensity infomercial for corporate interests. Environmentalism is operationally and financially a good thing, but its anticorporate, so they drag out the wing nuts and smear the whole business.

Yes, I want as many nukes as we can build as fast as they can be assembled. I'm delighted by the tiny 200kW unit that has been mentioned here recently and they can't start building them fast enough to suit me. If there were a genuine security problem to do with nuclear fuels I would expect it to the start with the bomb grade material in Iowa State's teacup reactor. Last I looked there was one steel double door I could easily pop with the bumper of my little car and then you're pretty much into the area. I can't speak for today but twenty years ago the balcony above the reactor containment area was office space for grad students. We'd sometimes fly paper airplanes through the motion sensor field to make the campus police come running ...

Rather snarky in that post, I realize, but at times I will set aside that hands on, get it done type attitude and remind people that the hour grows late. I don't know how to say "Sucks to be you because ..." without using the word "Sucks" in the sentence.

Hey, SCT
Happy Xmas, Boxing Day and all that!

I'm in Ames, so I could hop over and grab that teacup for you, if you liked..

The Frau has us booked for the week, so I probably won't be able to catch you up for a coffee or whatever.. but are you in the Ames area? If you're close, it could happen.


I was in Ames on Christmas Eve but now I am back home. Travels take me towards Omaha next either today or tomorrow. And I would not choose to share this cold with anyone :-(

I've said this before but it bears repeating - I don't mind if everyone else freezes and/or starves, so long as the lights stay lit and the tummies stay full around here.

You won't mind if I quote this back in the future?

Provide leadership.

One can bring the horse to the water, but applying a lower atmospheric pressure to the back end will not cause water uptake to occur in the front end.

And what kind of leadership is it when one places one group in the dark and hungry just so another group can have light/food?

its just that this was a good place to make a point

And I was not really forward with my statement - so I will be forward now.

Beyond the "I got mine, screw you" attitude of 'my lights are lit and I have food so where is the problem?' - how can fission power be advocated as a solution to the worldwide energy problem when there are nation-states where a fission power solution would be bombed?

HI Eric,

Thanks for persisting to get to the real question:

re: " -how can fission power be advocated as a solution to the worldwide energy problem when there are nation-states where a fission power solution would be bombed?"

Excellent question. I'd like to encourage discussion on this.

how can fission power be advocated as a solution to the worldwide energy problem when there are nation-states where a fission power solution would be bombed?

You mean, like certain Islamic "republics"?

If they want to live by barbaric 7th century philosophies, let them do it with same-vintage energy supplies.

..While we revel in our thoroughly MODERN Barbaric Philosophies?

No, I think our Hypocritical foreign policy of allowing or denying these 'bombable' states the access to power-sources and weapons systems that we freely maintain is probably a MUCH OLDER philosophy than any Novel News that Mohammed brought down the hill..

So be careful what Philosophies you're really willing to advocate for, or which ones you decide to paint as 'archaic'.


The USA is part of a society which has had nuclear weapons for 62 years and only used them once to end a war.  If you think that there is any moral equivalence to a bunch of barbarians who send children through minefields bearing "keys to heaven" around their necks, maim petty thieves, stone and/or flog women whose "crime" was to be raped, and kill people for having unorthodox religious views, you need your compass recalibrated.

There is every reason to believe that Iran's government would use nuclear weapons as soon as they got them, even if it meant "martyring" most of the country.  Get that moral compass fixed pronto.

Careful which ones you try to eat.

Well said SCT. Can I join your fan club?

No, you may not :-)

You can string words together to make a coherent post and you're following the content presented, which means you have the prerequisites to go be an activist of some sort all on your own.

If you must, give us a few more days on the Stranded Wind site, then get yourself an account and see what tasks there are that fit you.

We've got a solid groupware (Lotus Notes via web) system already but I'm not giving out accounts on it yet. We have a nice cadre of real sharpshooters involved but the public face for it is vital, so that is where all of the effort goes for the moment. Those experts are already sold and ready to take on whatever mentoring needs to be done for the masses who will make the phrase "stranded wind" as much a household word as "tar sands" are now. It makes me itch that this stuff isn't already in place, but with the holidays people are a bit busy, so I (third stringer) am limping along trying to get Drupal installed.

Now if anyone wants something to do I'd really like to see this thing run through the TOD meat grinder - its the gritty statistical details behind the Iowa's Office of Energy Independence final report I linked above. This is much more interesting reading for your typical Drum Beat denizen than that airy fairy thing that is their public face:


And if you're really sick of Christmas specials there is some other stuff in there that might be good, but I've not had time to examine it:


Well lookee here ... our good governor has the foresight to lay out $100,000,000.00 over the next four years to go towards:

Research and Development




So ... time to convince a few state Senators that stranded wind is a good thing for Iowa on more than just an energy front, and then we get busy with it ...

You can find out a lot by checking to see if directory browsing is permitted when you get a link from a newspaper article :-)

Building Energy Codes
 40% of total energy use/greenhouse gas
emissions and 65% of total electricity
consumption is used in building energy.
 Must target building efficiency prior to
construction; mandatory building energy codes &
follow through.
 3 main codes developed and used:
 Model Energy Code (MEC);
 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC)*;
 American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-
Conditioning (ASHRAE)
 Codes adopted and state level, but enforced at
local level

ASHRE is a code I am becoming familiar with in my HVAC/R education. But I don't see a plumbing-related code specified. Just had a course on the UPC and we discussed IAPMO.

Why can't I even get to that server now?

(Seriously, a few hours ago all it had was one image on the main index page.  Now it's "server not found".  What kind of scam are you pulling?)

Oh, crud - I am working on using siteground.com for the hosting and I forgot all about posting links here :-( will still work :-)

Sorry, but it is "under construction" at the moment ... I'm pushing to get the public side, the group ware, etc all working by 1/1/2008.

Oh dear,

I watched your sad , silly , moronic little video.

Any chance you guys can do some basic geological studies?

Humans, generally are good for about 45 years +/- 5.

That is our design life.

1gen plus 1gen plus half way thru next gen...

Grannies die when their youngest daughter hits menopause.

Thats what we got. That is what we are designed for.

Only Californians and Australians think that 100 years + is good. (at least for themselves, it is crap for everybody else).

Most others will settle for three score years and ten.

Oh bloody weeping doo... So nuke mining causes people to die?

No shit!

So does cold-death, malnutrition, heat death, TB.

...and coal mining.

We do 45 years. After that , it is a bonus: go visit any graveyard in northern europe.

I love this comment. Funy and true.

It's not true. A 45 year life expectancy means a lot of babies dying, and those who make it adulthood living to be 70 or 80. (That's one thing I notice in old cemeteries. Not a lot people dying at 45, but a lot of children - sometimes whole families, a dozen more - who died young.)

True, we aren't meant to live forever. But we are meant to live longer than 45 years. Probably to about 86. That's the life expectancy of 7th Day Adventists, who don't drink or smoke, and who are encouraged to follow a vegetarian diet.

Actually in the US you're damned lucky to get your 3 sore and ten.

Boomers will live longer than that, the well-to-do ones, but that won't last.

Life expectancy in the US is going down. So is average height, a lot of indicators of health.

Child mortality IS going up though.

Yes. Tainter points to that as an example of declining marginal returns.

A lot of the diseases that are shortening our lives are the diseases of wealth. Cancer, heart disease, diabetes...things that would have rarely troubled our hunter-gatherer ancestors. Children today may be the first ones with shorter lifespans than their parents. (If the "peak oil diet" doesn't interfere.)

I'm not sure I buy the height thing, though. I suspect it could be a reflection of our increased ethnic diversity (especially the huge influx of Hispanics). Yes, I know the study says they included only non-Hispanic whites and blacks, but in the US, people self-identify when it comes to race. If someone wants to call himself a non-Hispanic white, that's what he is.

Life expectancy in the US is still going up. Sorry to shine on your parade.

Yes, it is. Sorry if I wasn't clear. What's going down is the projected life expectancy of the younger Americans alive now.

Though as I said, the "peak oil diet" might change that.

Clear. I agree with you that projected life expectancy is going down. With peak oil, global warming, cheap nukes, cheap designer diseases, it could hardly do otherwise.
I am quite worried about the obesity/diabetes thing. At my sisters recommendation I am going transfats free. We don't have the data from Sweden's experiment in removing transfats from the market yet, but I think it makes sense.

Highly doubtful. Since the early 1980s obesity and Type II diabetes have been growing quite dramatically.

* Two-thirds of America's adults are overweight or obese
* As many as 30 percent of U.S. children are overweight
* Childhood obesity has more than doubled within the past 25 years
* Within the past 20 years, childhood diabetes has increased 10-fold

So any current increase of the lifespan is a lagged effect from the previous generation. The current and subsequent generation will *not* have a higher average lifespan. BTW, the current increase is stalling, as can be expected.

Average height in the US is being changed by immigration of people of short-statured stock; health can't change that.

for those who can read Chinese:

roughly translate:
the IOUs resulted from drinking can be found everywhere one goes, lives over 70 are rare since ancient time. --from a poem by the second most famous Chinese poet some 1200 years ago.

an interesting follow up by another famous Chinese painter/calligrapher/poet:

Edit: unicode used for the Chinese display.

I saw a graph of life expectancies back from 1900. Back then a new born had a life expectancy of something like 45-50 or something. BUT.

If you made it to 50 (past childhood illnesses and war) you had a life expectancy of about what it is today. 70+.

The big increase in life expectancy is from CHILDHOOD diseases, But longevity has NOT changed that much.

If you made it to 50 (past childhood illnesses and war)

And childbirth, I suspect.

Samsara: Yes. My grandmother grew up in Omsk, Siberia.She had 13 children- 8 boys died before the age of one-my father was the only one that made it.She almost made it to the age of 105. IMO longevity hasn`t changed at all- the only difference is that the Mutual funds and insurance companies are spending more on advertising-almost everyone I have met is convinced because of advertising that they will be a healthy 90 year old some day (the worry is they won`t have enough money).

There is no evidence in the movie that any significant amounts of radioactive materials will leak from the tailings to the environment, just plain speculations. The amounts of radon emitted from open pit mining for example are minuscule, compared to the amounts emitted every year from natural sources like volcanoes, geothermal springs, rock pores etc.

I don't even want to comment on the pictures of babies with birth defects. Placing those without any arguments, or links with the mining industry was just an obscene manipulation attempt.

Way back when I worked in a lab that tested radon gas samples from homes, mostly here in Iowa. Four little canisters went into four lead containers, I'd set the timer for ten minutes, and while the current four were "cooking" I'd write up the previous four. It paid the bills but it was just like detasseling corn - I'd close my eyes at night and see rows of little silver canisters with yellow labels.

People sealed up their basements, put little exhaust pumps with intakes at the floor level to get the stuff out of the house, and that was that. Background radiation exists in all sorts of ways and the place of radiation in the overall scheme of health threats is massively overblown.

We get the same thing now with radio signals. A small subset of crackpots claim to be "electromagnetically sensitive". Ambulance chaser type lawyers (part of the aforementioned corruption problem) seize upon junk science and try to shake down those with some coin in their pockets - cell phone operators and such.

We had an event a while back where some well meaning National Enquirer subscribing soccer mom wanted to block the school getting an 802.11 wireless system because it was dangerous. I agreed fully and completely that the 100mw 2.4GHz output from the radio was dangerous, but not as dangerous as the 10 watt 1.9GHz PCS cell site on the roof of the school which I pointed out to her. We will close Mark Twain's curtain of charity over the rest of this particular episode.

Now I realize in a future life I will reincarnate as a small house pet living with a gaggle of tail pulling toddlers for doing that, but the look on that woman's face when it dawned on her that the cell site was 100x the energy of the little radio was priceless.

We have to act, act swiftly, and act based on objective reality. Things that have been built before, things that can be easily measured, and things on an executable scale are what will cushion the coming impact.

There are hazards to nuclear operations as we saw with Three Mile Island and Chernobyl but overall its been a clean, safe source of energy ... and we need as much of that in any form we can find as soon as possible. If I could wave a magic wand and strike all of the antinuke BANANAs dumb I would do it in a heartbeat; their suffering in silence would be far less than the suffering of those shivering in darkness who could have had light and heat.

Your cell phone analogy is flawed. The energy intensity drops off rapidly with distance (the square of the distance?). The cell phone is placed next to your head, whereas the tower is hundreds of feet away. The 802.11 wireless transmitter is closer than the tower, but further from your head than the cell phone, maybe 3 feet away. If the intensity drops with the square of the distance (I'm not sure about that), the relative impact might be:

(0.1w / 3^2)) / (10 w / (100^2)) = (0.1/10) / (100^2/3^2) = 11

Looking at that calculation, the WIFI transmitter produces maybe 10 times the electric field of the cell tower outside. You can run your specific numbers for more accuracy. BTW, there is some recent evidence that cell phones do cause health problems to the user.

E. Swanson

My analogy is most certainly not flawed. The 1.9GHz source fifteen feet above the ground mounted to the cupola of the gymnasium produces a great deal more ambient energy in the school than does the proposed 100mw radio. I should have stated this earlier ... it is a rather atypical installation, with the school sitting on a hilltop.

Radio power in those bands drops about -30dB just by having an air gap, it reaches about -95dB at a mile, and then about -5dB per mile after that. A +20dBm 802.11 radio verses a +40dBm cell site is no contest when there are just a few yards between the sources.

Radio waves produce voltage in metallic things that are the right size and shape. The human body, being mostly water, has certain bits that resonate based on certain frequencies. The older cellular bands around 870MHz are the right size to warm up lymph nodes and the PCS stuff is close to the right size to heat the eyeballs of smaller critters ... human babies, for instance. The 2.4 GHz radio stuff is the same band as microwaves and is absorbed quite well

The only credible cellular health trouble I've heard reported is the accidents people get into driving distracted by the things. I like my hands free setup very much and if I really need to call someone I put them in voice dial or I pull over. The only trouble I've ever personally had with radio energy was a particularly nasty Union Pacific 900MHz paging unit, about 250 watts, that had some sort of leak. I shared space with it, daytime was fine, but at night the thing would fire up and I could manage about ten minutes in the space before I'd start getting a headache.

The 1.9GHz source fifteen feet above the ground mounted to the cupola of the gymnasium produces a great deal more ambient energy in the school than does the proposed 100mw radio.

PCS antennae are planar phased arrays, much taller than they are wide.  This produces a beam pattern of a broad fan horizontally and a tight beam vertically, aimed perpendicular to the plane of the antenna.

Those things are not going to produce much field below them.  The WiFi antenna, OTOH, is far closer to isotropic.

Building WiFi typically get 8dB panels or some such, once the user is convinced that putting an amp on a 2.2dBi duck is not such a good idea.

The antenna pattern of the typical cellular system is as you describe ... but I didn't bother to explain that to the stunned activist as she was checking out the painted to match antenna plant. I would have liked to have seen if she actually went and demanded they take down a $1,500/month revenue source that had been running for many years without any noticeable troubles, but the trail went cold after our little discussion ...

We have to act, act swiftly, and act based on objective reality. Things that have been built before, things that can be easily measured, and things on an executable scale are what will cushion the coming impact. There are hazards to nuclear operations as we saw with Three Mile Island and Chernobyl but overall its been a clean, safe source of energy ... and we need as much of that in any form we can find as soon as possible.

I agree that nuclear is a safe source of energy, insofar as its properly managed.

But as Albert Bartlett said, "if it's managed by Humans, it's not going to be managed well" -- which I suppose will be even more true as humanity slides down the backside of Hubbard's curve.

In the case of nuclear, the consequences of poor management are pretty severe and can last a long time. Not to say that it can be entirely ruled out; I just think the potential consequences should be factored into any decision(s).

Chernobyl might happen again. The consequences of replacing the output of that facility with coal are clear and deadly, but they're incrementally spread across the set of all coal plants. This comes back to that freezing/starving meme - the path grows narrow and steep. Yesterday's NIMBYs and BANANAs are tomorrows shruburban residents with neither the time nor money to get under foot. How soon do we get to that point? Not soon enough, methinks.

The duration and magnitude of the impending die off are modulated by how many calories and BTUs we have available. Those who block the construction of this, that, or the other for reasons personal, theoretical, or irrational are fine by me ... just so long as the consequences of their choices land on them and not some third party.

The U.S.S. Industrial Society is going down. There are 6.5 billion passengers, life boat areas for a billion, and flotsam repurposed land might support another group about that large. What will happen to the unfortunate fish food four billion? Long pig now and bone meal for next year's crop?

We've previously had theoretical discussions about triage here. I am going to (unpopularly) suggest that operational triage is next and that my approach is an instance of that in action. I would love to be able to stretch out my hand and magically relieve the suffering of those in Zimbabwe. I can not. Perhaps I can reach out my hand and steer a bit of what happens in Iowa. This I pursue as best I can.

Nuclear plant design of 2007 is far safer than the 1960s era constructs of Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. Why is there such barrier to the uptake of such systems? If I didn't live in a place where the wind never stops I would be asking that question over and over and over, crossing my fingers that construction would be started and completed ... before construction of such things stops forever.

The duration and magnitude of the impending die off are modulated by how many calories and BTUs we have available.

How about HOW those BTUs and calories are used can aid in the die-off.

There are plenty of people who run their world such that they get their cash flow and rest of the world be damned. That whole 'I have lights and a full belly' POV.

Why is there such barrier to the uptake of such systems?

Geee, humans have a history of human designed machines failing.

And, if one reaction to having a fission plant is to get it bombed, what makes you believe that a fission plant upwind of you would be immune to such infrastructure attacks?


I'll probably surprise many people here, but I don't think so.

Small reactors like this one will require high levels of Uranium enrichment, not to mention the Plutonium produced during operation. Placing hundreds or thousands of those practically everywhere would be a risk I'm not willing to support.

Larger centralized units are IMO the most economical and safest way to operate nuclear power plants. There is some lower threshold, below which it is not meaningful to invest in safety systems or eventually in waste management.

That is an incredibly silly idea. There are situations where this could be used, but residential is not one of them.

Be the first on your block.
Your very own personal nuke.

Just wondering if it comes with your very own Toshiba Nuclear Defense Force (TNDF)TM.


Here is a tasty morsel for all of you who want a post Christmas Dinner snack - the Iowa Office of Energy Independence final report.


This is one of half a dozen docs the group has produced and as far as I know this is the only one they've made public. I've got the others but I need to take a look before I provide links. I'll get after that over the next few hours.

... "file not found"...

It does bring up a good question though... do any/all of the 50 States have plans either for "energy independence" or somehow dealing with oil crises?

That link is 404, and the index.html file for the site sources a JPEG file and nothing else; no links, no text.

Looks like their webmaster is on vacation, or they did something silly in response to an overload.  Perhaps both.

I am the silly webmaster for the site :-(

The link was slightly wrong and the file was in the wrong place to boot. This one should work ..


Best hopes for a Super G grade volunteer web site wrangler to pop up real soon now ... I am working at getting Drupal & its backend friends loaded this morning and the going is slow :-(

SCT, got a 404 from the link.

The Japanese are finally putting flesh on the bones of a plan to help out some of their own who are being distressed by high oil prices:


Bottom line: it is a reprogramming of about $900 million of funds originally meant for other purposes, both national and local. So oil prices are in effect reorienting the priority among public spending.

Here though is the ironic part:

The government will set up a ¥10.2 billion fund to help fishermen buy fuel for their vessels and to help farmers buy energy-saving farm equipment or biofuel, the officials said.

Helping farmer buy biofuel... the irony of it all.

Re: Agflation

It's about time corn caught up with everything else. It still has a long way to go. What other product compared to LP gas is worth twice it's price if you burn it? China, a country of 1.3 billion people, recently stopped exporting corn. Should the US worry with a population of only 300 million about running out of corn? I don't think so. Higher prices will encourage production. Unlike oil, there is not a finite amount of corn. It is stored solar energy and renewable.

Unlike oil, there is not a finite amount of corn. It is stored solar energy and renewable.

This may seem true, in Iowa, just like being in the center of Vegas seems like there is an unlimited amount of water and electricity.

But corn is unequivocally finite. It is limited by the arable surface area of the earth, but before that by the pesticides and fertilizers made from natural gas, and the diesel fuel from the tractors, and the seed companies providing enough of the hybrid seed crop for next years plants. It is limited by how long it can be stored without it starting to go bad. It is limited by the environmental externalities of hypoxia in the Gulf and nitrites in the ground water. Any and all of the above put a finite limit on corn production. Certainly we can grow more corn. But think big Practical. You can make more money and be part of a better long term plan for US and World if you used your land for something more holistic (meaning best output for the totality of limiting inputs)

You really need to try harder... at least come up with some figures or something ...

I highly recommend reading the Iowa Farm Outlook dated Dec 3, 2007, which has as the lead article "Has the Ethanol Boom Ended?"

In there they have a map of Iowa showing the total acreage (of corn production) required for each of the operating and planned (most of which will be built in 3 years) ethanol facilities... and how the total required corn will be 159% of the 2006 Iowa crop if the facilities operate at capacity... yes, if plans go as scheduled soon Iowa (the worlds leading producer of corn) will need to import corn!

That article also summarizes the displaced acreage in 2006, of other grain crops, in order to plant more corn.

Any increase in production in corn is going to come at the expense of other (more nutritious) cereals, driving their prices up as well. And considering that the EROI of corn-based ethanol is negative (or very close to it), it will have the effect of supporting oil prices as well.

Ethanol with fossil fuels does make a mighty stink with an EROI between 0.8 and 1.3 but there are some small improvements to be made.

I am told 40% of the sunk energy comes from drying the distiller's grain at the end of the process so that it may be fed to cattle. As the drying need not be a continuous process a wind driven method can trade FF dollars for wind turbine capital dollars, dramatically increasing the EROI.

The distiller's grain still contains the corn oil which may be turned into biodiesel. The cattle feeder wants the distiller's grain for the protein content so this additional extraction does not decrease the value. This is a new idea from what I know of it - not sure if its been put into production yet or not.

I sat and had a nice talk with Norm Olson at the Iowa State Biomass Energy Conversion Center last week. His opinion was that the best EROI from corn would be feeding it to cows and running the droppings mixed with cornstalks through a digester. This yields methane, ammonia, and solids suitable for use as fertilizer. The only FF inputs are the cultivation and handling of the various materials - the digesters are simple, continuous process systems that make their own heat.

So ... wind driven ammonia as fuel and fertilizer, the grain gets either processed or fed to cattle, and the animal and field waste gets turned into more fertilizer and NG which may be used as a road fuel.

A beautiful vision, eh? Now to go and start reading in hopes I can drive it that way ...

So ... wind driven ammonia as fuel and fertilizer, the grain gets either processed or fed to cattle, and the animal and field waste gets turned into more fertilizer and NG which may be used as a road fuel.

in a day for hopes and wishes, let's hope the organic feitilizer can gradually replace ammonia in that function - for other than run-offs and soil degradations, N2O generated from ammonia-soil interaction can also be reduced.

SCT ..

His opinion was that the best EROI from corn would be feeding it to cows and running the droppings mixed with cornstalks through a digester. This yields methane, ammonia, and solids suitable for use as fertilizer.

Don't you arrive at the same place if you're feeding
the cows the DDGs and then procede as above ??

Triff ..

The contention was that corn to cow to methane produced a certain amount of energy in the form of methane, while corn to ethanol to cow produced less. There is heat required in distillation as well as grain drying that is not needed when the corn is simply fed. The methane process is almost entirely biological once the harvest phase is complete.

Did your conversation include solar thermal drying of the corn or the distiller's grain? I think the corn must be dried for storage between crops, even though it is destined for the ethanol production plant. The solar crop dryers could also be used to heat the farmer's house or barn, after the corn had been dried. Solar hot air collectors are cheap and easy to build on site using common building materials. Since propane is rather expensive these days, I would think that this would be an easy sell.

While we are the subject of EROEI, how many farmers burn some of their corn crop to provide heat to dry the rest, instead of using more expensive propane? If not, why not?

E. Swanson

Unlike oil, there is not a finite amount of corn.

There is a finite amount of topsoil and water, both of which are depleting rapidly.

Also, there is a finite limit to the amount of corn that can be produced annually. Use it for fuel, people elsewhere die of starvation. Simple as that.

"There is a finite amount of topsoil and water, both of which are depleting rapidly."

I've lived and farmed in farm country my entire life, and can testify that topsoil depletion is slower now than prior to use of petro.

Herbicides are the soil's best friend.

I've read many PO books, and none come close to accurately stating the balance between petro input and ag output.

I've read outlandish statements on PO sites such as, "It takes 10 units of fossil fuel energy to produce one unit of food energy."

That is crazy.

Let's do the math;

2007 USA corn crop = 13 Billion bushels on 93 million acres.

1 bushel corn = 395,000 BTU

1 gallon crude = 135,000 BTU

1 bushel corn = 2.5 gal of crude.

So if it were 1 to 1, We'd use the whole countries enrgy to produce corn.

2007 wheat acres = 75 million acres

2007 soybean acres = 75 million

If we consumed more BTUS to produce grain than we tuernout, then the ag sector would use more enrgy than the rest of the ocuntry.

The truth is, an acre of corn turns out many orders of magnitude more energy that it takes to grow it.

The problem is a lack of acres. No way to fix that problem.



Yes, this is one of the areas that there seems to be a needless attempt to whip up hysteria. I well remember the 1970's, with it's massive spike in oil prices. While food prices moved some, they were not the driver of massive inflation as one would have expected IF there was a tight connection between food prices and oil prices. And te connection between crude oil and agriculture was far greater in the 1970's than in the 2000's.

In the 1970's, a greater percent of the trucks and farm equipment was powered by gasoline engines. I have worked on gasoline combines! These would be considered idiotic today, with almost all farm trucks and equipment now running much more efficient Diesel engines. Food processing was done in processing plants often driven by electric production powered by oil in the 1970's. Now, almost no electric production comes from oil.

Agriculture is an industry that is driven by natural gas, however, in the fertilizer, and in the processing, drying distilling of farm product.

In the stats I have seen regarding corn to ethanol, most of the energy used is not used in the growing of the corn, but in the distilling process to convert it to liquid fuel.

Huge efficiency gains are possible, but they would require large capital imput to change infrastructure. Propane and natural gas are now used to dry grains, and natural gas is the fuel of choice for distilling grain into alcohol.

The drying could be done with solar, but it would be a time sensitive operation, done when the sun shines. Likewise distilling, but production rates could not possibly be as high as it is with on demand natural gas.

And we would run back into a central question: If we are going to spend this much money and effort to use solar and other renewables to produce alcohol, would it not make more sense to use the renewable energy directly?

We still face the fact that the corn is needed to feed people and animals, the "food vs. fuel" issue.

But, back to our central point, I do think that agriculture will be able to continue relatively cost efficient production in the face of rising oil prices or oil disruption far longer than most industries. Many other industries would fail before the farms did.

Rapidly rising prices or shortages of natural gas are a different issue, however. Natural gas at over $12 per million btu makes farming a very hard proposition without massive rise in food prices. The ethanol industry by it's own admission relies on a relatively cheap and abundent supply of natural gas, making alcohol essestially a fuel switching operation, converting natural gas to ethanol.

This begs a question: If we are going to go the route of using natural gas in transportation by way of alcohol, why not just use the natural gas directly?

If we are going to use natural gas in transportion, we must do so with absolute efficiency. It is just to valuable a treasure to waste. And we have to admit that our history of using fossil fuels in transportation has not been an exercise in efficiency.


"But, back to our central point, I do think that agriculture will be able to continue relatively cost efficient production in the face of rising oil prices or oil disruption far longer than most industries. Many other industries would fail before the farms did.

Rapidly rising prices or shortages of natural gas are a different issue, however. Natural gas at over $12 per million btu makes farming a very hard proposition without massive rise in food prices. The ethanol industry by it's own admission relies on a relatively cheap and abundent supply of natural gas, making alcohol essestially a fuel switching operation, converting natural gas to ethanol."

You are absolutely SPOT ON SIR!!

Granted, I see ways to utilize nitrogen fert so much more efficiently. In the end, I think using price to ration fert will be healthy for ag, and yields will not suffer. The new GMO high N utilization gene will truly add value.

Production has an amazing EROEI.

Ethanol is another story altogether.

Directly consuming nat gas as you suggest makes sense.

Directly burning corn in a stove also is a great way to save big $$ and is an efficient conversion.

When you think of the efficiency in directly burning corn, or in nat gas for transport, its a wonder we mess with ethanol.

Ag is gong to rise with or without ethanol.

something i have never understood about those corn stoves (for homes anyhow) is a person wants to haul the fuel in and ashes out, why not just burn coal ?

The truth is, an acre of corn turns out many orders of magnitude more energy that it takes to grow it.

This sounds very suspicious to me, such as in 'vast hyperbolic overstatement.'

If by 'many' you mean perhaps 3, and 'orders of magnitude' typically is 10*, then you are claiming an acre of corn turns out 1000 times more energy than taken to grow it. Why then do many detailed studies of ethanol-from-corn production have a ratio close to 1:1?

Can you cite studies or track the energy involved in some detail here, or are you just arm-waving?

Its all bullshit. I suspect a merchandiser or commodity broker of some sort , loosely coupled to ag and pumping TOD with nonsense to drive off the naysayers.

A shill in other words.

Big Ag Business.

The EROI number I remember for corn was roughly 3.6:1 (Pimentel). Other estimates were higher but I don't remember the specific value.

Perhaps you should redo the math and reexamine your logic.

First, total energy content is not food energy content - the food energy content is less. Much less when fed to critters that can't fully digest all the complex carbohydrates (as cellulose, lignin) that are present in the kernels.

Second, your math. You used gallon of crude equivalent for the total energy content of a bushel of corn and then arrived at a value of "the whole countries energy"...

...If you redo this carefully, you will find that the total bushel corn harvest has a BoOE equal to one-tenth of the crude oil consumption per year - about 2 million barrels per day.

"The problem is a lack of acres. No way to fix that problem."
above by HPF

What? What I see here is destruction of woodlands,stripping down of tree fences lines and large alterations of the land just to gain MORE acres to plant in.

We are destroying habitat and causing runoff. They knock down the trees with dozers, dig a big hole, shove the trees in and then burn them.

A huge waste of resouces. All just to get more acres to plant in.

Its called 'scalping the land'..trees provide a conservation effect by reducing wind erosion.

All this was opposed in the past by the USDA and Soil Conservation Service but apparently someone has shut them up and let the rules wither because right now its 'no holds barred' against nature and thoughtful conservation.

Here is the absolute truth then:

Farmers in this country will strip it bare and plunder the soil into oblivion if the prices are good enough. They could care less about conservation.

The dust bowl proved it. The huge gullies of the past in my area proved it.

The farmers will destroy the land. Believe it. I see it happening now.

Shit they don't give a damn about the firewood in those trees. Many farmers own heavy earth moving equipment and how they are using them to create more tillable land. No matter what destruction they can do.

HPF you are beating the drums for the farmer.

Globalization and greed will destroy this country and runaway farming will be a major part of it.

Its all interconnected and extremely destructive to repeal all the conservation efforts of the past.

I see land coming into production that was never farmed before. I see the trees being dozed down in huge numbers and the paper mills dancing on our graves.

Its starting to happen folks. We will continue to rape this planet until its far too late. The farmers will be in the forefront , sadly.



I'm just wondering if anyone remembers the Texas cytoplasm blight of a few years ago that trashed a very significant fraction of the US corn crop?


Drudge Report:
CHEER: Ambrose Evans-Pritchard: Bank Crisis may make '29 look 'walk in park'...


Quietly, insiders are perusing an obscure paper by Fed staffers David Small and Jim Clouse. It explores what can be done under the Federal Reserve Act when all else fails.

Section 13 (3) allows the Fed to take emergency action when banks become "unwilling or very reluctant to provide credit". A vote by five governors can - in "exigent circumstances" - authorise the bank to lend money to anybody, and take upon itself the credit risk. This clause has not been evoked since the Slump.

Yet still the central banks shrink from seriously grasping the rate-cut nettle. Understandably so. They are caught between the Scylla of the debt crunch and the Charybdis of inflation. It is not yet certain which is the more powerful force.

America's headline CPI screamed to 4.3 per cent in November. This may be a rogue figure, the tail effects of an oil, commodity, and food price spike. If so, the Fed missed its chance months ago to prepare the markets for such a case. It is now stymied.

This has eerie echoes of Japan in late-1990, when inflation rose to 4 per cent on a mini price-surge across Asia. As the Bank of Japan fretted about an inflation scare, the country's financial system tipped into the abyss.

The Fed and mainstream economists insist that the solution to a surfeit of indebtedness is to create ever more debt at ever cheaper rates. They've done this to keep the credit bubble going for so long that they've now run into the peak oil plateau. Commodity prices are skyrocketing and slowing the economy. The slowing economy will pop the credit bubble, slowing the economy that much faster. The central banks of the world will have to open up the fire hoses of credit in a desperate attempt to prevent a collapse, and they will fail because they have so flooded the world with credit that new credit will bring ever diminishing returns, even as inflation rages.

This will be stagflation beyond anything imagined in the 1970s, at least until the credit engine completely seizes up and the world economy collapses into default and depression. I would guess the process will take 3-5 years to play out, but a lot depends on how oil depletion and the ELM play out.

Yep Shargash the feedback loops are starting to flow the other way around, and since they're so leveraged, they'll work really fast in reverse.

Just like Galbraith's book ..... the banksters will stand around in a circle and clean out their pockets, tossing all they've got into the hole. The hole will pause for a moment, burp, then keep on growing.

The Federal Reserve Act was signed into law fifteen years before the first transistor was constructed. They never envisioned the way things move in our global interconnected environment of today.

We've already seen what loose credit does - an absolute disaster. What happens with more loose credit? More disaster ... when not tempered by the credit offering body having a vested interest in the outcome. No, large banks don't have a vested long term interest - they are corporations and by definition sociopathic in their behavior, lying, cheating, stealing, murdering when they can, and concerned only with the next ninety days' numbers.

Giving Chase a blank check is just going to result in more fraud. Now on the other hand giving a blank check to Farmer's (four branches), Northwest Federal (five branches), and BankPlus(four branches) would get some things happening around here. Think of it as being like the microloan programs that have done so well in third world countries.

Won't it be an interesting event when the Fed offers and the only takers are those small enough to know their borrowers? Relocalization strikes ...

The Evans-Pritchard article is featured prominently (but of course!) in yesterday's A Yuletide Finance Round-Up. The most striking bit of info in the article is, as also pointed out by CalculatedRisk, that for the first time an analyst puts the total costs of all the writedowns for the banks above $500 billion, and substantially so.

Citigroup, Merrill Lynch, UBS, HSBC and others have stepped forward to reveal their losses. At some point, enough of the dirty linen will be on the line to let markets discern the shape of the debacle. We are not there yet.

Goldman Sachs caused shock last month when it predicted that total crunch losses would reach $500bn, leading to a $2 trillion contraction in lending as bank multiples kick into reverse. This already seems humdrum.

"Our counterparties are telling us that losses may reach $700bn," says Rob McAdie, head of credit at Barclays Capital. Where will it end? The big banks face a further $200bn of defaults in commercial property.

On it goes.

CalculatedRisk comments:

My main interest in this article was the quote from Barclays Capital. There has been a growing agreement that the mortgage credit crisis would result in losses of perhaps $400B to $500B; this is the first estimate I've seen significantly above that number.

I noted last week that a $1+ trillion mortgage loss number is possible if it becomes socially acceptable for the middle class to walk away from their upside down mortgages. And that doesn't include losses in CRE, corporate debt and the decrease in household net worth.

The S&L crisis was $160B, so even adjusting for inflation, the current crisis is much worse than the S&L crisis.

WT, I found these two bits from your link to be very telling...

...snip...'The market for asset-backed commercial paper - where Europe's lenders from IKB to the German Doctors and Dentists borrowed through Irish-based "conduits" to play US housing debt - has shrunk for 18 weeks in a row. It has shed $404bn or 36pc. AS LENDERS REFUSE TO ROLL OVER CREDIT, BANKS MUST TAKE THESE WRECKS BACK ON THEIR BOOKS. There lies the rub'...snip... (caps mine)

'Tim Congdon, a banking historian at the London School of Economics, said the rot had seeped through the foundations of British lending.

Average equity capital has fallen to 3.2 per cent (nearer 2.5 per cent sans "goodwill"), compared with 5 per cent seven years ago. "How on earth did the Financial Services Authority let this happen?" he asks.

Worse, changes pushed through by Gordon Brown in 1998 have caused the de facto cash and liquid assets ratio to collapse from post-war levels above 30 per cent to near zero. "Brown hadn't got a clue what he was doing," he says.

The risk for Britain - as property buckles - is a twin banking and fiscal squeeze. The UK budget deficit is already 3 per cent of GDP at the peak of the economic cycle, shockingly out of line with its peers. America looks frugal by comparison'...snip...

thanks to all for this site. merry xmas.
& special thanks to leanean for her consistent
work & quality.

Lawmaker: Iran to build 19 more nuclear plants

TEHRAN, Iran - Iran plan to build 19 more nuclear power plants and will seen solicit international bids for the construction., a lawmaker said Monday. "Contracts for the construction of 19 nuclear power plants, each with a capacity of 1,000 megawatts, will be put into into international tender in the near future, " Kazem Jalali was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency. Mr Jalali, a member of the Iranian parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, said the bids will be in line with parliamentary legislation that call for production of 20,000 megawatts of electricity through nuclear power plants in the future.

Dallas Morning News December 25, 2007

PNM has to do something too to meet its projected load demands.

Global tyre shortage threatens to stop mining industry in its tracks


Beware, the 'Leibig minimum' in any particular situation isn't always what you might expect!

Maybe tire recycling will finally become a profitible business.

Many years ago (late 1800's to mid 1900's) most new metal ore mines were built with electric railroads circulating in the mine pit. These RR's could move thousands of tons of ore with one man. Large electric shovels filled the ore cars. Maybe this technology should be looked at again, even for mines that extract tar sands.

In the westyern US most copper mines were electric powered with energy often coming from hydro.

All over the place in the West, there are aerial tramways which once carried ore from mines to processing facilities.  There's one between the Wonder mine and the Wonder mill in Death Valley; there's another defunct one still stretched across a highway in Nevada.  These things were built with early-20th century methods and could stretch for a mile or more.  No rubber tires involved, just steel wheels on bearings, steel cables, steel buckets, wooden beams held together with steel bolts.

The tram at the Wonder mine was hundreds of feet (don't recall the exact drop, but it's a LONG way) from top to bottom.  The gravity pull from the falling ore powered the crushing mill.  It would be a lead-pipe cinch to put an electric motor on one and make it run uphill.

How hard to use the same tech to eliminate the trucks completely, and their diesel fuel?  At some price or supply-chain risk, I bet it'll be done.

Slurry pipelines can also carry crushed ore

Aqueous reforming of biomass (eg water + sawdust) might be done via slurry pipeline if they can get the process right.

Zorba the Greek had the right idea. :)

Except that his structure collapsed as soon as it was tried out. :=)

weren't we talking about slurry pipelines for coal back in the olden days (that was the mid '70's) ? 30 yrs later, coal is transported mainly by rail is it not ?

You are absolutely right of course. That was exactly my thought when I read about Olympic Dam Mine some time ago.

My family had a manganese mine (poor quality and quantity but the price was high due to the Korean war) in the Middle East in the 1950's.

The mine was halfway up a steep hill. My father (Royal School of Mines) and his two brothers (also engineers) fixed a cable-way that worked both ways. The ore was taken downhill by cable way and placed on a narrow-gauge railway that went a few miles to a jetty where it was loaded onto ships. The cable way also lifted supplies to the mine. It would have been inconceivably expensive to build a road up that hill.

I guess a lot of mining people these days do what their accountants think is the right thing to do. All of that will change pretty soon IMHO.

To find out a little more about Olympic Dam Mine try An even bigger hole - Update

The new BHP CEO wants to send Olympic Dam concentrate by ship to China. To me it seems obvious the extra water and electricity (50 ML/day, 400MW if I recall) should come from a nuke/desal plant on the coast, thereby 'closing the loop' somewhat. However the State govt wants it all..jobs, royalties and a 'no nukes' stand.

BTW I believe the tailings contain thorium as well as rare earths.

Those ubiquitous aerial tramways transported quite small tonnages of high-grade ore (say 2-20% for copper) from small underground mining operations employing huge numbers of miners paid relatively low wages. They carefully worked (drilled, blasted, and mucked in 3 shifts per day) individual veins. Mules were commonly used underground to pull ore cars, although electicity was also used. Calcium carbide fueled the miners' acetylene lamps. In the USA, this era of labor-intensive mining was definitely on the way out by the 1950's, especially for copper, although it persisted in Asia, former Soviet-bloc countries, and Latin America, especially for precious metals.

Most US mines, even underground mines, today mine material in bulk, with fossil fuels and giant machines replacing human labor as much as possible. A medium-sized open pit copper mine today typically produces on the order of 100,000 tons per day (tpd) of ore averaging 0.1-0.4% copper. Total metal production absolutely dwarfs that of the older system. Unless laws change, and the value of human labor is greatly downgraded (not impossible you say, if you read TOD), this model will persist even if energy costs increase greatly (as long as metal prices can increase too). Electricity should replace diesel fuel as soon as it becomes cheaper or more dependable, but only if sufficient time and capital is available to allow the rather expensive transition.

On the other hand, without electricity, sufficient time, or sufficient capital, 50-100 years from now we may have reverted to a labor-intensive mining model, although, rather than drilling in mountains, the "metal miners" will probably be tunneling in old landfills or diving underwater in former coastal cities.

Many of those monster trucks (and other equipment) are electrically powered. Especially at coal mines for obvious reasons. It doesn't help with the tires unfortunately. And a truck with an extension cord is still a lot more flexibly than a railroad.

Frank, can you provide a link on this? I have been wondering how much mining we can continue to do once we're restricted to the exclusive use of renewably-generated electricity (no more liquid fuels).

By the way, I did want to wish everybody a happy holiday. Thanks again to the moderators and posters on TOD. You've made 2007 very educational, and I look forward to an interesting 2008.

To All of you a very merry Christmas.

God grant there are a few more.

I have a daughter who Masters in Chemistry and starts work next summer on the Fischer - Tropsche process, turning coal into liquids. (yes , you can make a living out of Peak Oil)

Guess who pays for the research: They got very , very fast jets...

And they do not care about CO2 emissions...They care about making sure they got jet fuel...

My son starts a degree in Physics next September, but I recon he recons University is basically a club for young Gentlemen where they do Mountaineering, and rowing and bagging Munros.(good luck to him...)

dorme bien.



Mountains in Scotland, +3000 feet.

Yeah, I know 3 k feet is not that good , but it is the best we got:-)

You can still die though.

I figured this was slang for the sort of young lady who likes mountains, kayaks, and whatnot, and I was going to inquire as to the availability of one of the previous generation for export :-)

I'd turn handsprings for 3,000' - this bit is as good as it gets in Iowa and even in my post forty dilapidated condition I can sprint from the parking area to the summit without even breathing hard.


From the top of Ben Nevis, looking south over the Mamores towards Glen Coe in the distance. Summer 2006 (we didn't get any sunshine this year:-)

Merry Christmas Leanan and all others.

I am sitting here with my spiffy new Asolo Fugitives under the bed, but I'm wishing I was right there. I hope we get rail going here soon ... I would still like to cover that 700 miles from here to Colorado at times and go up up up ...


a flatlander like you ? well, to be honest, one of my goals is to get back in shape and hike and/or climb the remainder of the 14'ers.

I run out of gas at the 13,000' mark. Altitude sickness right here in this photo and on the previous attempt I was Just Too Darned Fat(tm).


mt elbert ? i've found that for me altitude sickness amounts to dehydration. i used to take a proactive dose of tylenol ahead of time.

You don't get many clear days like that on top of the 'Ben' - a nice picture!

For non-Brits, Ben Nevis is the UK's highest peak at 4,406 feet, not high by world standards, but it does go up from sea level. It is a big lump of rock and has a hydro electric power station that generates over 80MW of electricity.

Why are all of the "archives" gone from the server? I cannot view any.

we're aware of it. thx.

It's a bug that comes and goes. I suspect they turned something off because of the server problems we had yesterday.

Merry Christmas,Drummers


Ohhh! That stuff will blow the top of your head off! Very good. My presonal chice is Skull Splitter Ale.

from tyre shortage article:

while so-called "mummy shifts" have surged at other companies that have found that the tyres on the trucks driven by women last significantly longer

What's up with that???

easy does it.

easy does what? i was genuinely curious as to the reasons why...

Gentle driving style is the obvious answer ...

and another proof that men are (statistically) jerks.

And why most drivers of 250-400 ton haulage trucks at the open pit mines I've visited lately are women (a sigificant change from the past).

Hello TODers,

First, my thxs to Leanan and all TODers.

All I want for Christmas is a compost pit, a compost pit, a compost pit...

Chennai, Dec 24 Shortage of key raw materials in the international Markets and skyrocketing prices have forced Coromandel Fertilisers Ltd (CFL), part of the Murugappa group, to suspend production at its Ennore factory near Chennai. Also, SSP (single super phosphate) production at its Ranipet plant in Tamil Nadu will be hit.

With the prices of key raw materials increasing nearly 8 to 9 times in the last one year in the global Markets, the company felt that it is unviable to run the Chennai factory, which manufactures complex fertilisers with an annual capacity of 2.75 lakh tonne.

Responding to queries, the official said, “The prices of sulphur have gone up almost 8 times to touch $600 a tonne as against $80 a few months back. Similarly, the prices of rock phosphate and ammonia too have gone up substantially, which we found not viable to import and run the plant.”
When a region can no longer afford NPK, expect dire results to eventually predominate. IMO, the only thing worse would be massive water shortages.

The price of Urea is already so high that UDP hand placement is probably the fastest growing job in the world:

UDP is the insertion of large urea briquettes into the rice root zone after transplanting. UDP cuts nitrogen losses significantly. Farmers who use UDP can increase yields by 25% while using less than 50% as much urea as before.
Please see the photo in the link: doesn't that look like fun from sunup to sundown? =(

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

I was rather surprised at such a high price for sulphur because it is a byproduct and usually plentiful. According to Sproule.com the plant gate price in Alberta as of November '07 was about $40 a ton which is pretty much typical; it was $38 in Vancouver recently. It has been about even with cheap thermal coal which leads me to query whether it is being used as a fuel mixed in with coal. Nasty.

It was up to $390 a ton in Asia recently but $600 is really flying. With a spread like that you'd expect the invisible hand to stop picking its nose and start shipping. I can see how it could get to $80 a ton with $90 oil and shipping, but where is this spike coming from?

According to what may be an urban myth, there is a mountain of sulphur in Khazahkstan visible from space and probably free for the hauling; just truck it down through Afghanistan, ho ho.

I was under the impression that sulphur would become more plentiful as we got into low sulphur fuels and stinkier oil and gas deposits. What gives?

There is a lot of demand for Sulphur for the production of sulpheric acid, used in mining and refining of metals. Demand for metals (all kinds) are up.

Sulfur is a generally excess by-product of the mining and smelting of metal sulfide ores (sulfuric acid is recovered from smelter emissions), of the scrubbing of stack emissions from coal-fired power plants, and removal from "sour" oil and gas. Also, sulfate rock (gypsum) is mined for plaster. In other words, there is absolutely no geological shortage of sulfur. I suspect there is merely a temporary shortage of sulfate processed so as to be suitable for fertilizer use.

There have been several post recently on TOD regarding surging shipping costs. One Chinese industrialist recently commented that shipping now costs him more than the actual mining of ore and delivery to ports.

Another recent post on TOD quoted shipping rates for all types of cargo up 150% yr over yr.

Please see the photo in the link: doesn't that look like fun from sunup to sundown?

If you plant with a seed drill, how hard would it be to use the same technology to put an ammonium phosphate/ammonium carbonate/charcoal (Eprida-plus) briquette down the same hole as the seed?  The briquettes can be much more standardized than the seeds themselves, so ought to be amenable to machine handling as long as they aren't too friable.

A concentrated source of Nitrogen next to the seed is going to be beneficial how?

All I want for Christmas is a compost pit, a compost pit, a compost pit...

Using the compost pile heat for cooking applications.

Reproducing Jean Pain's technique for producing hot water from a compost pile.
researchers prove that Jean Pain is, indeed, onto something "hot"!

In the last issue of this publication, we described French farmer Jean Pain's techniques for producing hot water and heated air—and even methane gas—from massive and carefully constructed compost piles (see "The Genius of Jean Pain", MOTHER NO. 62, page 92).



In a composting greenhouse, heat and carbon dioxide are generated from a manure-based compost contained in a special chamber attached to one side of the greenhouse. This publication offers summaries of research into heating greenhouses with compost, and offers references for further information



Hey now, Wharf Rat,

I've been trying to get up to speed on Jean Pain's methods, but all I'm finding is old articles (the last Mother Earth update was 1980?!) and the original French version of Pain's book, which I can't read because I don't know French. If you (or anybody else out there) has any direct experience with this, or knowledge about it, or the interest & ability to read the French original, please contact me!


Sorry, can't help. I remembered the TMEN story, and found the others googling for it.


Bangladeshis are hard workers. Plenty of labour there. The biggest problem will be diesel supplies for the deep tube wells in the dry season. An irrigated rice field is shown in the photo of the sciencedaily link. When the crunch time comes the Bangladeshi government will ask their muslim brothers in the Middle East to provide special diesel shipments for the purpose of running rice irrigation pumps.

"When the crunch time comes the Bangladeshi government will ask their muslim brothers in the Middle East to provide special diesel shipments for the purpose of running rice irrigation pumps"

How much help did Indonesia's muslim brothers in the Middle East provide after the tsunami three ago?

Quite a bit. They needed the political support in the UN, though. I don't think that it's a major political imperative unless you are an Arab.

A dieoff of the phytoplankton in the oceans would be worse than water shortages.

Ho ho ho.

Merry holidays to all. What's Christmas without a little Tom Lehrer...

Christmas time is here, by golly,
Disapproval would be folly,
Deck the halls with hunks of holly,
Fill the cup and don't say “when.”
Kill the turkeys, ducks and chickens,
Mix the punch, drag out the Dickens,
Even though the prospect sickens,
Brother, here we go again.

On Christmas Day you can't get sore,
Your fellow man you must adore,
There's time to rob him all the more
The other three hundred and sixty-four.

Relations, sparing no expense'll
Send some useless old utensil,
Or a matching pen and pencil.
“Just the thing I need! How nice!”
It doesn't matter how sincere it
Is, nor how heartfelt the spirit,
Sentiment will not endear it,
What's important is the price.

Hark the Herald Tribune sings,
Advertising wondrous things.
God rest ye merry, merchants,
May you make the Yuletide pay.
Angels we have heard on high
Tell us to go out and buy!

So let the raucous sleigh bells jingle,
Hail our dear old friend Kris Kringle,
Driving his reindeer across the sky.
Don't stand underneath when they fly by.

Hello TODers,

Many Zimbabwean spent Xmas in long lines outside banks:

HARARE, Dec 25 (Reuters) - Zimbabwean banks on Tuesday failed to heed pleas to remain open from shoppers desperate for cash, dampening already bleak Christmas festivities in the economically devastated nation.

Banks, which had been ordered to extend their hours in the weeks leading up to Christmas as a result of a run on banknotes, were closed on Christmas Day contrary to earlier announcements. That left scores of customers empty-handed.

Long, winding queues could be seen at the few automated cash machines dispensing banknotes in central Harare.

"I was hoping to find a shorter queue since it's Christmas, but it seems everyone has come out," said Tawanda Moyo, a teacher who was trying to get money for his traditional holiday trip from the capital to a rural part of the country.

"After a year in which the struggle to survive got harder, one expected to rest through Christmas, not to be queuing for hours," Moyo added.
Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Hello TODers,

Nigeria: 50 Die in Lagos Pipeline Explosion

At least, 50 people were roasted alive yesterday at Adagbo village of Iru, Victoria Island local government area of Lagos State.

The victims were said to be scooping fuel from a vandalised pipeline when the fire started at the scene and was followed by an explosion.
Any guesses when sad events like this become commonplace in the First World countries?

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

Of course, there is still plenty of money out there...


The pattern is progressing in it's normal fashion.

Investors and the wealthy class are now viewing inflation as a given. The normal pattern has run it's course, first equities and risk capital (hedge funds, LLP's managing the money of the wealthy class) then real estate and commodities....and now we have the normal move into collectables and art.

This is caused by lack of confidence in investments managed by others and in a belief that the currency wil be hold less value in the future.

Gold/silver/platinum are being seen by some as tapped out to the high side, and the risks of being there are greater than the percieved gain.

Art and collectables can be held close at hand, and have not risen greatly over the last several years, thus, are still seen as having a potential upside.

The also have a status that even gold and silver cannot provide. A lowly midlevel clerk can buy some gold or silver. Even a "cheap" piece by one of the postwar masters (say Warhol or Calder) will be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, something the prols cannot easily swing. Plus, they have an intrinsic value. Many educated wealthy simply love the items for their own sake

If the normal pattern follows, the money will continue it's hunt into the obscure corners of what can be called "collectable assets" and will take in collectable automobiles, boats and yachts, furniture, rare books and wines, etc. In real estate, classic buildings with a historical pedigree will hold their value and probably rebound much more so than cheap properties.

In prior historical cases this was the signal that the inflation cycle had set in.
The stock market begins to run short of big investors and declines. Finally, interest rates will have to rise to protect the currency and break the inflation cycle by slowing the economy. International currency is already coming into American companies and properties, and the collectable market has always been international.

Of course, fuel consumption drops accordingly, and the investments made to grow fuel production when oil/gas prices were higher deliver increased supply compared to the demand. Thus, prices drop (sometimes very fast and hard).

The only exceptional case would be if the world is really at full geological peak, in which case the production will drop (and the price hold) no matter what the price is.
We don't know yet if that is the case, but are about to test it once more.

In all others ways, the situation we are now in is part of the normal investment/business/currency cycle that long term smart investors have seen several times before it they have been in the business for awhile and have any long term memory. The shred ones are simply rebalancing, and are not prone to believe the hysterical rantings of the "business press". If anything, they will help fuel the hysteria so as to drive prices lower and engage in some "blood in the streets" investing.

The problem is, that very few investors now have any long term memory of anything. Shred investors are even rarer.


Houses and oil were rising fast - inflationary, with inflation understated not least because houses not included, only rents.

Now houses crashing, loans increasingly difficult to obtain for many individuals and companies, leveraged buy outs dead, etc. We have moved from inflationary to deflationary environments, tho central banks still worry about inflation... in spite of this, interest rates are declining fairly quickly, as is normal in deflationary recessions. Lenders cant loan because of holy balance sheets, borrowers cant borrow because have no assets...

Stuart thinks oil production may surge in 08, but assume it declines 1% instead... IMO falling demand 08/09 will exceed such a modest decline in production, meaning falling price. I expect 75/b in 08/09... If there is a surge, then OPEC once again has a role to play in fighting global warming/encourage substitutes...

There are lots of good ideas that I find encouraging. Now, if we can form the capital to make these ideas happen, we might just have a more secure energy future.