DrumBeat: January 2, 2008

Oil Touches $100 a Barrel on Supply Concern, Increased Demand

Crude oil rose to $100 a barrel for the first time in New York as record global fuel consumption threatens to outpace production.

...Higher prices have been cast as vindication for a theory that the world has reached the maximum rate of oil production as explorers fail to discover major new fields to replace aging deposits being tapped in countries such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iran.

While Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi and Exxon Mobil Corp. President Rex Tillerson have said oil supplies will last for decades, energy traders are increasingly debating the amount of available crude.

Investors who back the peak-oil theory, such as Boone Pickens, a Dallas hedge fund manager and former oil executive, have led the price rally of the past two years. Pickens, chairman of BP Capital LLC, correctly predicted in 2004 that oil prices would top $60 a barrel in 2005 and in early 2006 said oil could reach $90 to $100 a barrel within two years.

China a big, but not only, contributor to record oil prices: analysts

China's unquenchable thirst for oil is contributing to sustained high prices, but it is not the main factor in crude's latest surge toward new records, analysts said Wednesday.

Speculative trading, geopolitics such as unrest in the Middle East and US efforts to fill its oil reserves, as well as the weakness in the US currency, are more important reasons for crude nearing 100 dollars a barrel, they said.

Chávez, China cooperate on oil, but for different reasons

One country's motivation is political, the other's pragmatic. Venezuela is seeking a strategic geopolitical alliance, China a steady supply of energy.

OPEC, war in the desert and bicycles in Bali

Nicholas Moore, former chief energy correspondent at Reuters, remembers covering OPEC policy in 1980, when inflation-adjusted oil was last worth $100 a barrel.

California sues EPA over greenhouse gases

- California sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday for denying its first-in-the-nation greenhouse gas limits on cars, trucks and SUVs, challenging the Bush administration's conclusion that states have no business setting emission standards.

Helium supplies endangered, threatening science and technology - Second fiddle to oil, natural gas production

"Helium is non-renewable and irreplaceable. Its properties are unique and unlike hydrocarbon fuels (natural gas or oil), there are no biosynthetic ways to make an alternative to helium. All should make better efforts to recycle it."

Oil futures hit $100 a barrel

NEW YORK - Oil prices soared to $100 a barrel Wednesday for the first time ever, reaching that milestone amid an unshakeable view that global demand for oil and petroleum products will continue to outstrip supplies.

...Light, sweet crude for January delivery rose $4.02 to $100 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, according to Brenda Guzman, a Nymex spokeswoman, before slipping back to $99.27.

Oil prices are within the range of inflation-adjusted highs set in early 1980. Depending on how the adjustment is calculated, $38 a barrel then would be worth $96 to $103 or more today.

White House won't tap oil reserves

The White House on Wednesday ruled out a release of fuel from the nation's oil reserves to drive down soaring prices.

"This president would not use the (Strategic Petroleum Reserve) to manipulate (prices) unless there was a true emergency," said White House press secretary Dana Perino. "Right now we understand that prices are high and demand is extremely high."

She said Bush was focused on ways to increase oil supply in the United States.

Neighbors wary of China's Three Gorges Dam

“Almost all my fears have come true,” said the Chinese journalist, a persistent opponent of the project whose writings are mostly banned in China. “The landslides and cracks have made people migrants once again. The water in the rivers and reservoirs is no longer drinkable. No matter how much power the project generates, it cannot make up for the losses.”

The Invisible Ingredient in Every Kitchen

That’s the basic challenge: We’re often aiming a fire hose of heat at targets that can only absorb a slow trickle, and that will be ruined if they absorb a drop too much. Are you ever annoyed by pots that take forever to heat up, or frustrated by waiting for dry foods to soften? A kitchen that becomes hot enough to be a sauna? Big jumps in the utility bill when you do a lot of cooking? The problem, as you will notice if you pay more attention to your kitchen’s thermal landscape, even in terms of what you can feel, is how much heat escapes without ever getting into the food.

Canadian firms to assist construction of 2 refineries in northern Iraq

An official at the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq announced that the government is planning to establish two refineries valued at a total of $300 million with Canadian oil companies, Iraq Directory reported.

The KRG will provide four production-sharing contracts to finance the building of two oil refineries with a capacity of 20,000 barrels daily, the official pointed out.

CSIRO anxious over taxpayer-funded research versus private

Bruce Robinson, convenor of the Australian Association for the Study of Peak Oil & Gas, is more hopeful now that his several submissions to the CSIRO over the years will be taken seriously.

"I think the CSIRO should have done more on oil vulnerability," said Mr Robinson, a physical chemist and former radio-astronomer.

OPEC Review: Group Could Fail To Meet World Oil Demand By 2037

A newly published report by Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries indicates the group will be much harder pressed than previously thought to meet the world's surging oil needs and could realistically fail to supply its share of global oil markets by 2037.

The report in the December issue of the OPEC Review, published by the organization's Vienna-based Secretariat, also says Kuwait is likely to be an extremely inconsistent and unstable supplier and questions Saudi Arabia's assertion it is capable of meeting world oil demand for the next 50 years.

Oil company hopes to cap thefts

A Canadian oil company is seeking the public's help after thefts of property worth nearly $1 million last year from remote oil facilities on the Alberta-Saskatchewan border.

Theft has always been a problem at construction sites, but now enterprising criminals are raiding the oil well sites, usually late at night.

Graham White, spokesperson for Husky Energy, told CBC News that the thieves have targeted dozens of their facilities near Lloydminster in the hunt for copper tubing and wire. Both are easy to resell.

Kenya crisis causes regional fuel shortages

Political violence in Kenya is choking off supplies of fuel and petroleum products to neighbouring countries such as Uganda and Burundi and is likely to hit a swathe of others from eastern Congo to south Sudan.

They all get fuel from Kenyan ports, where supply lines have been interrupted by the chaos that has followed the disputed re-election of President Mwai Kibaki.

In Uganda's capital Kampala on Wednesday, many cars stood abandoned by their owners on roadsides as petrol pumps ran dry.

NW Shelf Gas Venture Halts Output on Electrical Fault

Australia's North West Shelf venture halted production due to an electrical fault, stopping output at the nation's biggest liquefied natural gas project and cutting two-thirds of Western Australia's gas supplies.

Gas production for customers in the state should resume late tomorrow, while LNG output will restart after that, Perth-based Woodside Petroleum Ltd., the venture operator, said today in a statement. The shutdown will result in power shortages tomorrow, said Western Power Corp., the grid operator.

Bangladesh: The growing energy crunch

HIGH economic growth in the new year must be the singular aim of the government as an effective response to the myriad of economic problems faced by the country. But an economy will grow only when it is backed by ever increasing investment operations. Such operations are for setting up new industries, expanding the old ones and for the creation of new services. Whatever the nature of the enterprises, the same can be set up and operated when there is an adequate energy supply. The first in the order of such energy in the Bangladesh context is power followed by gas. Good power supply is indispensable to run existing industries and the newly commissioned ones. Entrepreneurs will not risk setting up new industries without reasonable assurance of uninterrupted power supply. Gas directly powers many industries in Bangladesh. It is used also to generate electricity or as the raw materials for some chemical industries.

"North India facing serious power crunch"

Entire northern India is facing power shortage due to failure of winter rains and less availability of electricity from hydro-generating stations because of less inflow in reservoirs.

"The abnormal increase in demand in all sectors has widened the gap between demand and availability of power resulting into low grid frequency, which is the cause of the unscheduled power cuts," a spokesman for Haryana Power Utilities said here Wednesday.

Pakistan: Five thermal power projects of 1200 MW to be completed in 2008-09

Caretaker Minister for Water and Power, Tariq Hamid has said construction of five thermal power projects of 1200 MW capacity will be completed in 2008-09. He said this during a visit to the site of under construction plant of Attock Gen. Limited alongwith representatives of Private Power Infrastructure Board (PPIB).

Argentine farmers give up beef business

Export caps imposed by former President Nestor Kirchner as an anti-inflation measure, have flooded the local market with meat, keeping beef prices low while soybean, corn and wheat prices soar.

...Nowhere is the trend clearer than on the open plains of Argentina's pampas, a vast grassland where thousands of "gauchos" herded cattle like in the old Wild West. The romantic vision of ranch life remains important in Argentine culture, but the economic equations involved have changed profoundly in recent years; boosted by U.S. ethanol production and a global interest in biofuels, prices for soy, wheat, and corn have soared to record highs.

Supermarket flies fish 5,000 miles from country where millions are starving

A major supermarket chain has outraged human rights activists by selling fish from Zimbabwe.

The campaigners said it is wrong to fly in food more than 5,000 miles from a country where millions are on the brink of starvation.

Woes mount for Mexico's state oil titan

Much of the trouble stems from Cantarell, Mexico's largest oil field. Located in shallow waters off Campeche state in the Gulf of Mexico, Cantarell supplied about 60% of Mexico's output until recently. The field's production peaked in 2004, when it averaged more than 2 million barrels a day. Output has tumbled since then, down about 30% to an average of 1.46 million barrels a day through the first 10 months of 2007.

Analysts for years have predicted the decline of this aging workhorse, which has been pumping for nearly three decades. The real shocker, they say, is that Mexico's government did so little to prepare for its inevitable demise. Geologists believe there is plenty more oil to be found in the deep waters of the gulf. Pemex simply doesn't have the tools to go after it.

Peak oil theories

As millenarian prophecies go, “the peak is nigh” might not carry the same doom-packing punch as a promised “end”. Except, that is, in oil circles.

“Peak oil” theorists posit that the world has exhausted about half of all the crude it had to offer originally and that output will soon peak prior to an irreversible decline. Conventional oil fields are a bit like champagne bottles: once “opened”, pressure forces out the contents. After reaching peak ouput, field pressure drops and, in the absence of such techniques as re-injecting gas, production declines. Back in the 1950s, Marion King Hubbert, a US geoscientist, correctly forecast, to within a few years, when oil output in America’s lower-48 states would peak (it was 1970). The “Hubbert curve” has become a totem of the peak oil movement.

Applying this globally, however, is fraught with problems. Mr Hubbert’s own forecasts of where global oil output would be at the turn of the millenium were wildly inaccurate. One problem is inadequate data. Modelling the mature US oil industry – with its huge sample size of more than half a million producing wells and many more inactive ones – is comparatively easy. In contrast, Saudi Arabia has only 2,000 producing wells and large unexplored areas.

Year-ender 2007

The other event with truly global impact was the soaring price of oil, which has been hovering at just below $100 per barrel for the past four months. It may go back down, of course, but it is unlikely ever to drop below $50 again and it is just as likely to rise as to fall. Indeed, many people suspect that we are now at or near “peak oil”, after which production will steadily decline and the price will continue to rise indefinitely.

The impact of higher oil prices on the world’s economies has been remarkably slight so far -- much less, for example, than the credit crunch that has been unleashed by the “subprime” crisis in the United States -- but in the longer run more expensive oil will drive up almost all other prices. The world is skating along the edge of a global recession, and only the continued dynamism of the emerging Asian economies keeps it from toppling in.

Iran struggles to meet gas demand

Iran has cut gas exports to Turkey after high domestic consumption and a halt in supplies from Turkmenistan.

About a dozen Iranian towns and cities have been left without gas in freezing weather, an Iranian news agency reports on Tuesday.

Heavy snowfalls and temperatures in Iran's north plummeting to -10C have increased demand.

Iran not to extend deadline for Shell's gas deal

An Iranian official said Tuesday Tehran will not extend the June-2008 deadline for oil giant Royal Dutch Shell to sign a major gas deal with the country, Iran's English-language Press TV channel reported on its website.

...Shell is reportedly hesitant to finalize the deal with Iran over concerns about U.S. pressure.

South Korea sees 2008 energy imports up 15.4 pct

South Korea will likely pay nearly one-sixth more in importing oil and other energy sources this year than it spent last year mainly because of higher prices, the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy said on Wednesday.

Broke Britain: millions face struggle to stay afloat as financial crisis hits home

Debt experts are predicting a record number of personal insolvencies this year as excessive Christmas shopping, rising mortgage payments and soaring food and fuel costs force thousands of people over the financial edge and into bankruptcy.

Japan: Solar panels to go in 30% of houses by 2030

The government will aim for 30 percent of all households to have solar panels installed by 2030 as part of its efforts to fight global warming, officials said.

Giant sail technology could make shipping greener

One of the first large cargo ships in 100 years to cross the Atlantic with the help of the wind will set off from European shores this month on a voyage which is due to make maritime history.

When the 10,000-tonne Beluga Skysail is well clear of the land, it will launch a giant kite, which wind tunnel tests and sea trials suggest will tug it along and save 10-15% of the heavy fuel oil it would normally burn. If the journey from Bremen in Germany to Venezuela and back proves successful, it could become common to see some of the largest ships in the world towed by kites the size of football fields.

Tiny parking spaces give drivers fits

Many parking lots and garages built since the energy crisis of the 1970s have small spaces and tough turning arcs. That's because zoning laws, which govern the size of parking spaces, assumed people had learned a tough lesson by waiting in long lines to fill up and would buy small cars to conserve fuel.

But American automotive tastes followed a different path, especially with the rise of SUVs, and motorists are paying the price, in dings to their cars and frustration to themselves.

Top 10 Global Warming Stories of 2007

What events or actions had the most positive or negative impact on the likelihood that the nation and the world will act in time to avoid catastrophic warming? Here are my picks:

#10. Over a barrel: Oil nearing $100. Technically not a global warming story -- but who can doubt that part of the renewed interest in energy policy in general and alternatives/efficiency in particular is due to record oil prices? Certainly OPEC is a bit worried. And if, as many believe, this is evidence that we are nearing peak oil -- then this story foreshadows even more dramatic changes in the future.

Corals may move from warming seas

IF their watery world continues to warm as climate change scientists predict, Western Australia's corals may head south to cooler climes.

James Hansen: The wrong choice for Massachusetts

As a society we face a stark choice. Move on to the next phase of the industrial revolution, preserving and restoring wonders of the natural world, while maintaining and expanding benefits of advanced technology. Or ignore the problem, sentencing humanity and other creatures to struggle on an increasingly desolate planet. Massachusetts is on the cusp of making this choice, and, barring citizen objections, is in danger of making the wrong choice on two counts.

List of Historic Streetcar Lines

I have often made the claim that the USA built subways in it's largest cities and new streetcar (tram) lines in 500 cities, towns and villages in just twenty years (1897-1916). This claim was based on private communication with Leroy Demery. Fortunately, Leroy has now placed a summary of his data (a world-wide effort !) on Wikipedia.

Check out your own state


Best Hopes for a Repeat,


Remember these lines were built with a USA population on either side of 100 million (>half rural), a developing nation economy (3% to 4% of today's GDP) and primitive technology (just hydraulic jacks to bend rail would have been a great labor and cost savings vs. manpower and lever bars !)

Leroy Demery is also the foremost US expert on Japanese rail.

Dick Pintarich has a chapter on Western Oregon electric rail in his wonderful book Great and Minor Moments in Oregon History, including a nice chart. Lots of cities not covered on the Wiki but then they were likely just stops on the line. Most every town of any note in the Willamette Valley was on a tram line in 1915.

The list does NOT include "inter-urbans", which is a major shortcoming.

If one includes interurbans, the turn of the century effort becomes even more impressive !

However, the definition of short line RRs vs. interurbans is fuzzy at best. And electric & gasoline powered streetcars would operate over the same tracks as freight trains (FRA safety rules do not allow this today), so was that an interurban ?

I understand the difficulties of investigation of long defunct service and his exclusion of interurbans from his compliation. I just wish that they were included !

Best Hopes for Back to the Future,


One of the largest/best developed Interurban networks was in Indiana.

Here is a map

The hub of the network was in Indianapolis, which had the world's largest interurban terminal:

My memory might be failing me, but I seem to remember this structure still being used by the city bus system in the early 60s when we would visit relatives in Indpls.

My mother has told me stories of going out on dates in the early 1940s and taking the interurban from Kokomo to Indpls. I grew up in Indiana and remember older folks talking about their fond memories of the interurbans and lamenting their demise.

Sadly, that structure is long gone, and Indy now has perhaps the worst public transportation of any US city its size. Indianapolis does, however, have an ambitious plan to make its downtown more bike- and pedestrian-friendly:


At the risk of being a spoil-sport I must point out that the rapid build-up of city street car lines during the turn-of-the-century was because there was money to be made in doing so. And the reason there was money to be made in building street car lines was that they represented a step-change improvement over the way most ordinary folks got around in a city: walking. (The well-off didn't care, as they had their private carriages, and then their motor cars.)

However, after having become accustomed to the convenience and speed of using personal automobiles, most people in the US would view switching from cars to public transportation as a step backward. While it may be what we need, I doubt it's what most people want. As such, I think the return of street car lines and the like would be more of the nature of something dictated by the exigencies of fuel shortages and heavily subsidized by government rather than something naturally growing out of an attractive business opportunity. Thus, increasing public transportation in the US today is going to be long and tough uphill battle.

Nothing causes something to happen quicker than the prospect of making a good buck, and that does not seem to be the case with public transportation in the US.

Remember also that those old lines were built when we didn't yet have an impenetrable thicket of Federal regulations requiring everything from massive overpayment of transit drivers, to treating streetcars and other public facilities as intensive-care wards for every conceivable kind of physical deformity, to giving NIMBYs and BANANAs carte blanche to add limitless costs by shutting down any project indefinitely any time they happen to feel like it.

So we suffer from a hopeless self-inflicted affordability problem that hadn't even been conceived of a hundred years ago.

According to even advocates, just the modern vehicles themselves cost somewhere north of $3 million each, never mind the tracks, the stops, the maintenance facilities, and so on. And for that, all you get is a vehicle that carries 50 or 100 people to work and back each day. That vehicle is so inflexible that it just runs up and down that one track and that's it, so it's little use for the other trips a person needs to make. Oh, and up North, snow and ice interfere with the electrical contact, and jam up the mechanically hyper-complicated trucks under the low-floor vehicle that might be used to try to meet the thicket of regulations. So you have no idea when or even if it will arrive.

Now, recently, there's been a minor boom in streetcars (and light rail), as cities have moved to stuff them into the same urban-jewelry niche occupied by major-league stadiums, convention centers, and other such money-sucking leeches. But I wonder if "we" will ever be able to afford to move beyond that, as the expense is so enormous already and the regulations only metastasize with time. If we have a relatively smooth energy transition, we won't need or want to pay the price. If we have a rough transition, we won't have the money to pay the price. Damned either way. Oh, and just because the problems are largely self-inflicted, doesn't mean it's politically possible to fix them.

I do not have time to address all the points of your screed ATM (intensive care ??) but will point out that New Orleans built 24 new streetcars for the Canal Line @ $1.5 million apiece and they ran under budget. After the first 5, the marginal cost was slightly over $1 million each.

Best Hopes for Stopping the Federal "Ration by Queue" that drives costs up and slows projects Down,

May we become as fast and efficient as French bureaucrats,



All questions about the wisdom of spending money on a sinking city aside, I think it's funny you complaining about screeds from other posters. I can't remember a day on the Oil Drum where you didn't post the exact same thing, again and again.

I finally got fed up with your posts earlier this week when you blamed the protests by poor folks from NO outside the zoning meeting on theatrics. You obviously speak for only a tiny segment of the NO population, and you speak about it more than your share on this forum.

The protesters were not "poor folk from New Orleans".


Alan is right! The protesters were mostly out of town anarchists. People that did not live in these housing projects! Complaining about tearing these projects down is sort of like a cancer patient being mad at his doctor for curing his cancer! It was/is a failed system that no person ought to be subjected to! Plus, public housing should not be a permanent place for people. It should instead be transitional! A council vote of 7-0 makes it very clear how the people of this city feel!!!

Not sure why I'm wasting the electrons, but...

And for that, all you get is a vehicle that carries 50 or 100 people to work and back each day.

Of course, in any real light-rail system, each vehicle makes trips at frequent intervals, so that a LRV in Denver's system makes 6 or more round trips in each commute period, transporting hundreds of people each day, rather than "50 or 100".

Oh, and up North, snow and ice interfere with the electrical contact, and jam up the mechanically hyper-complicated trucks under the low-floor vehicle that might be used to try to meet the thicket of regulations. So you have no idea when or even if it will arrive.

Don't know where this FUD comes from, but almost every city in Northern Europe runs rail transit through winter with no problem. Norway, Finland, and Sweden know a little about ice and snow, and they somehow manage to run LRVs even in small Northern cities like Trondheim. Wikipedia lists at least 30 cities in Russia running light rail (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_light-rail_transit_systems#.C2.A0Fi...) so someone better inform them that ice and snow will soon be shutting all their systems down...

Look, I used to commute on an electric line. Every time it snowed a little, the service was disrupted. Every time it snowed a lot, the service was totally a joke for a day or three (or five.) And the cars basically made one round trip during the rush hour, with most folks getting off at the last stop. The end-to-end round trip was about 90 minutes in perfect weather, so there was no question of the cars making two rush-hour trips; most of the time, most just sat there in a yard doing nothing but costing big bucks. I don't live there now, but none of this has changed one iota, except that the old cars, which had openable windows through which you could hear the sparks crackling as the electricity was disconnected by ice, are long gone.

As for Trondheim, if they have some magic Norwegian trolls who can run a transit line - using any type of vehicle - in a competent manner, let's import some. Let's hire 'em yesterday, preferably sooner. For that matter, I can recall watching folks in Amsterdam get upset because the trams were running up to two minutes late due to a foot race. But here in the USA, people are usually expected to be grateful if the tram, train, bus, or whatever merely deigns to arrive at all - even on a perfect day without foot races.

Now, maybe part of the problem is price. Looking at Copenhagen, I see you can get 12 trips for about $2.40 (DKr 12) each, and it's a zoned system where that typically gets you only a few stops. Tokyo's a bit cheaper, but it, too, charges by distance. OTOH, in New York, $20 gets you 12 trips, $1.67 each, and you can go dozens of stops, clear from Coney Island or Far Rockaway to the north Bronx.

You rarely get what you don't pay for. But if we pay Danish prices, which might triple or quintuple the fare for a typical real-world commute, we get back to the affordability issue. Right now, we "solve" that issue with lavish taxpayer handouts, but I wonder how much longer we will be able to keep it up. As oil and energy keep going up, people will only become more reluctant to pay heavy taxes to give somebody else a nearly free ride, and yet I see no plans afoot to provide streetcars or light rail on a broad enough basis to serve (and earn the votes of) a majority. No, I submit again that we're still at the urban-jewelry stage.

Agree with some of your comments, especially the part regarding reliability here in the US. Somedays I don't know if the transportation will show up or not. Having lived in Japan for a few years I became accustomed to the train showing up on time, every 10 minutes at the latest and at rush hour every 3 minutes. Adjusting back to the US, where the company/city employees and management just don't care has been rough.

However, you're still ignoring the major premise of TOD - that is, oil will become increasingly unavailable which, given the US dependence upon oil for transport, will cause a crisis. Thus the choice of ignoring rail, an approach we have been able to do up until today, will disappear.

Don't discount the power of need. As you've ridden rail in Japan you realize that an electric rail transportation system can be run well; the Japanese built it because they needed it. Profit will once again be a driver in rail transport in the US when (more than just a small percentage of) Americans need transportation by other than oil.

As for the long standing social stigma in (most of) the US - only time can address that. However, I would argue that it doesn't have to be an either/or situation for most Americans. Automobile (powered mostly by electric) ownership can coexist in society along with greatly enhanced rail.

You're right, this really looks well run.


When I first heard about "pushers" I thought it was a joke :)

Why can I not stop laughing at that picture, and from NZ's comment? Thanks guys for making my day.

If you saw the movie "Sargent York" then you have heard of pushers. One of Sg. York's buddies from Brooklyn, or somewhere in that area, was a "pusher" for the New York subway. That was the first time I ever heard of "pushers". Funny though, I did not think it was a joke, I believed him.

Ron Patterson

A friend of mine worked in Japan for some years as an activist, and she's outspoken even by USA standards; she's also a 6-foot blond amazon with a nice figure. She noted that during the 'compression' phase of getting on the trains, there would be Japanese men who would position themselves so the brownian motion would wind up with their faces in her breasts. And she commented that the manners in japan are such that women are accustomed to being groped and not saying anything, while she would grab errant hands and hold them in the air, yelling "whose hand is this?!"

I think I'd get the heebiejeebies from the lack of personal space and start lashing out like an escaped gorilla... which would only deepen the gaijin stereotype.

...I said god DAMN the pusher man...

That's the Yamanote line in Tokyo, I believe, which I've only ridden in the off hours (thankfully). The picture actually though illustrates my point - they need to get those trains going, so they do what they need to. FWIW, all the lines I used to ride had no need of "pushers".

What I don't understand:

What I've read about Japanese corporate style business is that no-one is quick to leave at official closing time. The guys hang around, trying to impress the boss, until they are told to leave. Then they go hang out someplace until a "respectable" (late) hour to return home. All so it will appear to the wife and neighbors that the guy has an important job and must work late.

What I've read, anyway, which doesn't seem to match up with these pictures of everyone in such a rush to get home that they must jam them onto these trains. So is what I've read incorrect?

Maybe those pictures are people going to work?

Last Train.

Live in Japan and learn to hate those words. The train lines shut down around midnight (it varies from line to line) and don't start up again till the next morning.

Last train is often packed like you see above.

But most major lines are packed like that during the morning rush as well.

BTW, to whomever was complaining about snow and ice, its a major problem for Tokyo trains as well (thankfully we don't that much). Even a hard rain will delay the otherwise supremely punctual trains. When that happens the crush is mind boggling.

I'm a bit claustrophobic. So I have to plan my trips carefully to avoid the above situations.

Don't get me started, I can rant about the over crowded trains here all day long.

Heh. I remember riding this myself in the off hours. The thing that struck me was that I could look out across the car and see over the tops of nearly everybody's head. In the U.S., I wouldn't be able to do that.

I am not a very tall person, and yet when I've been in a gaggle of Japanese tourists I've felt like my name is Lurch.

In five years of living in Tokyo in the late 1990s, and commuting during rush hour, I never once saw the "pushers" that ignorant Americans like to jump up and down about.

I think there were a few in the 1960s, when there were a lot fewer train lines. It's ancient history now.

Lighten up! I've often crammed myself onto a CTA bus during Chicago winters rather than stand outside in the subzero cold.

Ha! Did you ride with your eyes closed?
There are pushers on every morning and evening express train in Tokyo.

Give me a break, you lived here for 5 years and never saw that?

The morning rush had a stronger peak. The afternoon/evening rush was more spread out. I lived in Japan for nine years. In the morning at Kawasaki station I saw the pushers every morning. They did always have to push. Sometimes they helped with coats, briefcases and umbrellas that got caught in the doors.

I read that the train management watched the weather reports and scheduled more or fewer cars based on the expected temperatures. On colder days more people wear overcoats and that takes up space.

Before I went to Japan I had heard that people ride the trains a lot. I had this romantic idea of riding to work in the morning on the Orient Express, drinking my coffee out of a china cup, reading the IHT while the scenery flew by. What a rude awakening was in store for me!

I lived there for five years, commuting to Otemachi (the center of the financial district), and I never saw a "pusher." I asked about them too, and I heard they still exist, maybe on the last train out, but I never saw one. Ever.

I'm not saying it wasn't crowded, but simply that this is something approaching an urban myth, and one that is propogated mostly among Americans who have never been there anxious to feel smug about something they know absolutely nothing about.

I guess you lived in the wrong place! Maybe that's why everyone is deserting the suburbs and moving into the central city these days. There has been a trend towards centralization, apartment living and shorter commutes for about ten years now. A lot of former industrial land has been converted into apartments.

You know, instead of commuting from Kawasaki into Tokyo, you could have got a small apartment in town.

I lived in Fukuoka city (pop 1.3 M) for six years. There were several different train lines run by different companies, as well as the National JR line. We never had pushers. There was no need, although the trains at rush hour were standing room only, unless you were elderly or pregnant (Japanese riders always give up their seats). The system is relatively cheap (a few dollars a day) and very reliable. One result is while many Japanese have driver's licenses, most are paper drivers. I ended up teaching a few people how to drive when they bought their first car at 30 or 35.

In the cities, the train stations are usually pristine temples to capitalism as each one is full of restaurants, hair salons, and other shops, and noodle stands are often set up right outside the entrance. But they're bustling and vibrant. People are always meeting at train stations to go do something. In the countryside, though, you're lucky to get a corrugated tin roof.

Japan is much better prepped for peak oil than we are, with their compact living arrangements, excellent electric public transport system, high mileage cars, efficient appliances, etc. But with a consumption of 11 barrels per person per year, they're still going to take a body blow. 30% solar by 2030? They need to move that percentage up and the year down.

Maybe you'd like to rewrite that post with some actual and useful information in it.. there will be difficulties and problems to address, but every point you address seems so mired in Hyperbole that it unhinges the argument.

"Impenetrable Thicket of Regulations.."

"Hopeless self-inflicted Affordability .."

"50-100 People" -over and over, day and night.

"Inflexible- up and down one track" - .. probably multiple, connecting lines with crossover stops to transfer between lines. Does the 'one-track' reflect the dimensions that your thinking is capable of visualizing? And how many of those replaced Commuting Vehicles were used daily, only going from points A to B, where they might as well have been on a single track?

"Hyper-complicated Trucks.." (Do please explain that one..)

'Ice on the Electrical Contacts'

"urban-jewelry niche .. money-sucking leeches" That would be 'MISTER money-sucking leeches that save energy and make better use of Urban Spaces' to you, bro.

etc, etc...

If you need to rant about something, at least make it make sense, please.


Saw your reply above.

Sorry you were stuck in a place with a poorly designed or wasteful system, but your comments should have made that point, and not implied that this would extend to all electric mass-transit, all financing options, or all the regulatory hurdles.

It felt like an overly unfair summary and I replied in far too childish a tone. I do apologize for letting it get to me.. Maybe NYC spoiled me with a Transit system and a mostly walkable City, and I forget how UNworkable so many other Munis are likely to be for decades to come..

Bob Fiske

I was a bus driver from 1973 to 1977 in Minneapolis. I think I know about the short comings of mass transit and have to generally agree with PaulS.

Even in countries that have excellent systems, people still want private cars. If mass transit is so great, how come?

Why do people drive cars if they can?

The cerebellum regards it as a big advantage, pushing past all those other sperm on the way to the Really Big Prize

The cerebrum likes that armored mount, the bigger the better to crush your competitors

The cerebral cortex says, "I will go where I please when I please". Free will made material.

Cars are a very satisfying product. We have already demonstrated we will have quite a lot of people killed to keep them as long as possible.

Errol in Miami

I grew up taking the bus, after our family fortunes crashed. I associated having a car with past good times, although for years having one was unattainable. I didn't have a car until I was 30 and this was not because of belief, it was because I just could not afford one. And driving lessons are not cheap, either.

Once I had a car and saw what a hassle it is, and traveled overseas and our way of getting around was by .... bus! Then I saw that it's pretty nice, really. No parking worries, much MUCH less expense, since you have to walk more to get to and from stops you get to see more, etc.

But the Non-Negotiable American Culture(tm) very highly rewards owning a car. A lot of places won't hire you if you don't have a car, even if you lived right next door to the place. Not owning a car is a good way to be a social pariah too.

My solution right now is to have a small motorcycle, borrow a truck at times, and try to avoid owning a car if at all possible. Since I'm kind of in hide-out mode, and one's driver's license IS one's ID in the USA, I kinda can halfway slip through the cracks. Since I'm in quite a bit of financial trouble, my car insurance would probably be $3000 a year, since car insurance is based among other things on credit score.

I'd like to say there are two happy times in a car-owner's life, the day they buy it and the day they sell it!

Practical: The auto is the preferred mode (obviously). IMO, what this debate misses is that mass transit is most useful and beneficial for those that don't own a car. I realize that in Manhattan, SF, Toronto, NO and possibly a few other NA cities wealthy individuals don't own cars, but by and large mass transit projects in NA are a benefit to the middle and lower financial strata of society. Mass transit predominates in Socialist countries such as Japan, France, Germany. Generally speaking, the USA taxpayer is not in favor of public spending which will benefit the poor or lower middle class-even in Toronto, there is never a shortage of public money for GO Transit (ridden by middle and upper income employees from the far flung suburbs to downtown jobs). The TTC (used by a lot of poor and lower income out of necessity) is always broke-public funding is meagre. The bottom line is Socialist countries have Public transportation systems, Public health care, etc. It might work in the USA, but it is fighting the overall culture. It is the same thing in the corporate culture-top guys laugh about stuff that Japanese CEOs would commit hari kari over or China guys would be hung over. Again IMHO, I predict the USA will address global oil depletion by moving more towards a cultural model prevalent in Mexico or Argentina-an attempt to barricade the important people while throwing the vast majority of the population overboard-I agree that investment on a large scale in alternative energy or mass transit would weaken my theory greatly-we shall see.

Hear Here on us following the Argentinian, Mexican models - indeed the stereotyped Latin American tinpot dictatorship model... let's face it all those were propped up by US interests... they are desperate to bring that experience back home

Ok, so you know the shortcomings. Do you also know the benefits?

When I said I was spoiled by the MTA in NY, that doesn't mean I disparage it's existence. Far from it. You drove a bus at the Height of our Car Crazed years, and just before the US had some of it's first real lessons in why that Design Choice was so flawed. (A predominantly Car-based system).. it's of course predicated on JIT fuel supply for every member of this society. Oops!

Sure people still want cars.. and in an American City, designed to undermine and dismantle the old trolleys, to cut-off pedestrian accessibility, and where bikability is an ongoing putdown of 'small thinking'.. how can you manage without one? I'm happy to have a car, but I'm also happy to leave it parked most of the time, doing my errands on foot or by bike or bus.. I'd like my Car usage to become so sporadic that my Wife, Mom and Brother and I, who all live in the same town.. could own one or two vehicles between all of us, and even rent it out to some friends who don't choose to own one anymore.

The benefits of a city/country with real and functioning Mass Transit won't be obvious and visible until the 'externalities' of fuel costs start really coming home to roost. Until then, the illusion of 'freedom' that a personal ICE vehicle seems to promise will be held aloft by these fantasy-based fuel prices.


I grew up in Minneapolis in the 70s and rode the bus everywhere. I've probably been one of your passengers.

Regarding trains good and bad, a new service has opened up between Moscow and St. Petersburg, in which the staff may be selected on looks! Hey...


I'll take a stab at this...there are many ways to poke holes in this argument. For example, I have always found that the train beats the car to downtown Chicago from my house (including the 13 mile drive to the nearest train station) at any time except in the middle of the night when there is no traffic. The train was nearly always better thant the car in a snowstorm- if the roads get icy or snowy in the Chicago region, it can often add hours to the commute. At worst, the Metra trains were 30 minutes late, and usually ran on time even in snow. Furthermore, you do not need to salt railroad tracks, eliminating a significant externality of cars. Even the WBBM, the news radio station around here, with its huge number of car advertisements supporting it, urges you to take transit when it rains or snows, since it is more reliable than driving.

As for your argument that an $3,000,000 vehicle carrying 100 commuters a day is a waste of money, I'll do the math. Lets ignore maintenance costs for now and look at the vehicle lifespan costs. As you might know, a stainless steel constructed light rail vehicle (LRV) or other railcar is likely to have a 50+ year service life. A new personal car, OTOH, optimistically, has a 15 year lifespan before it is consigned to the junk yard. Now assume a car costs $20,000 (the average cost of a car, times 100 cars, and you get 2,000,000.00 spent over 15 years to buy 100 cars. Now, they will have to be replaced 2.5 times over the life span of the LRV, so the cost to have these 100 people to own personal cars is $6 million as opposed to $3 million for the LRV. I would wager the maintenance costs and other externalities of the LRV are far less than that of a ICE car.

Also, as for your fixed rail is a dead end argument, 100 years ago primitive steam trains made the trip to downtown Chicago from where I live in less time than it takes by car today. It can be argued that we are in fact going backwards and becoming less efficient by dissing rail.

Now, I think personal vehicles may have usefulness for short trips and rural areas, but create far too much congestion and externalities in population dense areas, where fixed rail transit and walkable communities make far more sense.

Apparently your extreme libertarian points of view do not equate government with personal expenditures. It does not matter whether you are paying a corporate or government bureaucracy, all are expenses all the same and affect your personal bottom line.

Alan, I've made this point before but I've yet to see a real substantive response to it: In European countries only a small percentage of all passenger miles are on public transit. Again, see this page at Figure 1: Motorised Travel (passenger-kms per capita per annum) in 2003 where it compares many European countries for public transport use. What leaps out at me is that after all the subsidies and claims about public transit at least 90% of passenger miles traveled on the ground in Europe are done by car.

If public transit in more densely populated Europe hasn't achieved more success with far higher gasoline prices and tax subsidies why expect it to succeed in the United States?

What will happen: People will switch to electric cars and scooters before they switch to public transit.

What’s Your Consumption Factor?
Published: January 2, 2008

TO mathematicians, 32 is an interesting number: it’s 2 raised to the fifth power, 2 times 2 times 2 times 2 times 2. To economists, 32 is even more special, because it measures the difference in lifestyles between the first world and the developing world. The average rates at which people consume resources like oil and metals, and produce wastes like plastics and greenhouse gases, are about 32 times higher in North America, Western Europe, Japan and Australia than they are in the developing world. That factor of 32 has big consequences.

That pesky problem of exponential growth against a finite resource base.

The malls of America are filled with the living dead...Thats right, SHOPPING ZOMBIES. I rarely go to malls but a reliable source (my youngest daughter) felt compelled to visit a mall for xmas gift shopping (for her newly aquired mother-in-law) and said the joint was full of them...glazed eyes, wandering around aimlessly and armed with stacks of credit cards, buying crap that will soon be featured in their spring yard sale...Can the Zombies save the US economy? 'Shopping 'zombies' offer US hope'...


'Here's my economic prediction for 2008. The American economy may very well come to resemble scenes from the two Dawn of the Dead movies.

And that's the good news.

First made in 1978 by horror maestro George Romero, as a sequel to his 1968 classic Night of the Living Dead, remade by Zack Snyder in 2004, Dawn of the Dead tells the story of the human race under siege from hordes of recently deceased risen zombies, ambulating about with no higher brain functions, only existing to feed lustily on the rapidly decreasing numbers of actual people still around'...snip...

'In both the 1978 original and the 2004 sequel, a hardy group of human survivors seeks shelter and security in an abandoned shopping mall, barricading themselves from the zombies until some salvation for the human race can emerge.

But the zombies still come. They mill around aimlessly in the parking lot, (making them fine sporting practice for the survivors, with their high-powered rifles filched from the mall's sporting goods stores, shooting away what used to be the zombies' brains) occasionally attempting to overcome the survivors' improvised defenses to gain access to the mall. The survivors are astounded, but then they come to realize their mistake in seeking shelter in a shopping mall. The zombies, even with most of their brains decayed or shot away, still carry an inherent memory of the malls as a place that once held a central focus of their lives.

As one of the survivors put it: "They're after the place. They don't know why, they just remember. Remember that they want to be in here'...snip...

'With the consumerist religion flourishing as it is in America, it will take more than what we've seen from the subprime crisis so far to shake the foundations of the faith. A moral philosopher or theologian might question the value of the new creed to its believers' souls; then again, isn't the whole point of being a zombie that you've lost your soul?'

Try "Shaun Of The Dead" -a Brit zombie comedy-horror, I went down the Mall in Bristol, UK last month and they where all there too... A lost generation...



A "reverend" giving it his best shot. Anyone seen his movie? "What would Jesus buy?"

Yes, I saw it a few weeks ago with people from my Food Not Lawns class. It was funny and interesting with a holiday theme.

Basically the Reverend Billy has two busloads of follows forming the Stop Shopping Now Choir and they travel around the country to various consumerist sites like the Mall of the Americas, Wall Mart headquarteres and disney land. Rev Billy preaches and the choir signs Christmas Carols with modified words condeming mindless consumerism.

We did a dedicated thread about it awhile back.

Oh yeah River that's a great article, just read it from Matt Savinar's site.

Great comments in it about the American religion of joy=things.

Dude here.

We have a new member at peakoil.com, oil-finder, whose sunshiny optimism is leading to audible grinding of teeth from the gloomy Gus contingent. Yesterday he posted an inventory of oil discoveries - finds, I suppose he'd call them given the user name - from 2006/2007. 18.27 and 34.58 billion barrels, respectively. Catalog of recent oil discoveries

He also posted his revised version of the Growing Gap chart we've all seen:

Is it time for an upswing? Chuck this peak oil theory into one of history's dustbins? Or is it the petroleum geology version of finance's Bear Trap?

We've already pointed out to him that 2007's discoveries barely cover a year's use. Haven't gotten to pointing out that including Chinese discoveries doesn't really count for the rest of the world. Or that Jack 2 ain't going to amount to, well, Jack.

Tell him that he needs to maintain 2007's discovery rate forever just to stay even with today's oil consumption rate, let alone grow it to 120 mbpd by 2030.

Quite obviously, discoveries, at least as presented in the chart, come in waves. Late 30's, late 40's, early 60's, late 70's, circa 1990 and 2000. Those waves last a few years and subside. Now the past doesn't always predict the future, but, still, according to the pattern I'd maybe expect a couple more years of "audible grinding of teeth" followed by restoration of the status quo. (This sort of thing is a hazard of hanging one's hat on particular events in a statistically noisy environment.) I suspect you might not see that as an answer, but some questions don't have answers...

Maybe the yellow bit will be discovered in one last, short, lump - not spread out over 50 years?

Or, maybe the deepwater stuff being discovered now won't actually be recoverable at a profit.

Or, will never be recovered for climate change reasons?

Trying to predict the future in any detail is all but impossible - but, for sure, discoveries won't be the shape of the yellow bit.

Two years data is not a trend that can be expected to continue - as that chart shows.

Will we have the energy from the discovery's from 1990-2000 to extract the 2000 - 2010 oil?

What is the source for that "Growing Gap" chart with large increases in the last two years?

That was this user "oil-finder"'s edit of the graph. Somebody else at po.com pointed out that, indeed, he's applying OOIP to a graph showing URR, as peakearl suggests down the thread. Looks like we're having an uptick, comparable to the one around 1999 but not a reversal of the overall trend going down down down.

Dude, true enough; there may be some more spikes offshore Alaska in what used to be the Artic, etc. But that area will still be pretty cold and have very large chunks of ice floating around. So I'm pretty sure that it won't be as cheap to produce as that spike back in 1948 has been.

Errol in Miami

The major problem is that he is looking at oil in place (OIP) with the new discoveries, whereas I believe the chart is supposed to show backdated recoverable reserves, which might be around half the OIP. Got some apples vs oranges going on. Still the 2007 discoveries are impressive though quite inadequate.

Explains a lot. What is recoverable vs what may be recoverable.

It is still impressive but its still not even close to what we need.

The problem is that he counts every undrilled structure that might contain up to 1 Gb of oil equivalent as a 1 Gb oil discovery. Below is the debunking for the first half of Mud-Finder´s 2007 list:

Bangestan layer (Iran) - The Iranians use to announce oil-in-place numbers unless explicitly stated otherwise (and even then I wouldn´t be sure)

Maurel&Prom´s field (Colombia) - "potential of the field's possible reserves of 83 Mbbls"

Block 200 Murzuq Basin (Libya) - double count, the lower one is for recoverable reserves

Tahe (China) - According to http://chinadaily.cn/china/2007-09/07/content_6088602.htm there are only geological reserves of up to 200 million tons (1.47 billion barrels) of oil equivalent.

Nucula (Norway) - They hit oil but still need to spud delineation wells for an orderly assessment, speculation that it could contain 300-500 million barrels is based on seismic data.

Goliath (Norway) - 0.25 Gb recoverable oil equivalent instead of 1.5 Gb recoverable oil, original discovery in 2000: http://www.aftenposten.no/english/business/article1197441.ece

L-6 (Kenya) - can´t find anything about this, looks like only a 2D seismic has been completed. Regional prospectivity is clouded by a recent Woodside duster.

Rosneft/Korean JV off-shore Kamchatka - It is claimed that a reevaluation of a 3D model is tantamount a new 4 billion barrels discovery. Come on: a) This is the same Rosneft that claimed 55 Gb for Kurmangazy where exploration has been delayed indefinitely after the first drill rig turned up dry. b) There has been no oil discovery in a 400 mile radius (the closest being Sakhalin), so the play is highly speculative. c) Why gave Rosneft away a 40% interest for a few million? d) It can be booked as a 2008 discovery if the first discovery hole is successful.

Jidong Nanpu (China) - "7.3 billion barrels of oil and gas, with about 40 percent of it recoverable" according to http://www.energytribune.com/articles.cfm?aid=513&idli=1

Talisman&PCA Barrow SW (Alaska) - 500 Mb contingent resources (AKA OOIP)

SC54 (Phillipines) - The 3D seismic shows "shows potential for up to 450 million barrels of oil in place." https://www.rigzone.com/news/article.asp?a_id=45066

Uganda - Yea, I have 2,4 Gb of "unrisked resources" in my garden, too.

I would put the total number for 2007 at 10-14 Gb mainly attributable to Tupi (1/2) and Jidong Nanbu (1/4) which would make 2007 the best year since 2000. A repetition of this relative success for several years in a row seems unlikely.

Would that be 10-14 Gb of OOIP, SWorm? If so, any idea of the URR? Half that, or less?

Oil-Finder is taking some convincing that the backdated discoveries chart is for URR, not OOIP.

10-14 Gb URR is what I come up with for the fields he mentioned.

It´s interesting to note, however, that no large discoveries have been made in the deepwater basins of Angola, Nigeria and the US Gulf of Mexico, certainly falling short in comparision to the last ten years, indicating that these provinces are maturing rapidly.

It has long been speculated that the Santos Basin could hold as much recoverable oil as the Esperito Santo Basin, and the Chinese are currently in the process of scouring their country systematically for resources (not only oil but also gas, metals and coal), so no real surprise there. Apart from that most finds have been made in high-risk, high-reward environments that have been shunned by the major oil companies.

There are only so and so many viable prospects to be explored and with the increased drilling activity their number shrinks at an accelerated rate.

Simple "Cheap" Insulation Add-on

I spent the last two days cutting out aluminum coated "bubble wrap" insulation for the windows of a friend. We used "Reflectix" brand from Lowe's and used 3M 2" blue masking tape for temporary installation and clear duct tape for semi-permanent installation (bathroom, one of two office windows, etc.).

Reports this morning are VERY good (coldest night this winter, 33F (+0.7C)) MUCH less heat required !

This also reduces drafts from the windows as well.

Suitable for rentals IMO. Reflectix is about 50 cents/sq ft. @ Lowe's (Measure window dimensions before buying). A roll of clear duct tape was $5 and masking tape was left over.

Also, install foam rubber gaskets behind switches and outlets (certainly on exterior walls, worthwhile on interior too IMHO). Another renter option.

Best Hopes for Energy Efficiency,


Don't they use bubble wrap for insulation in rural Japan? Was thinking about giving that a shot myself for window sills - make frames and staple the wrap on.

Tried installing some GILA film, and discovered that stuff is wicked tough to put up - managed to destroy a couple small sheets before aborting.

I've had amazing results using ordinary bubble wrap (it's in season) on older windows that I will eventually replace. It still lets (diffuse) light in.

Build yourself some interior storm windows using plexi-glass.The also block sound you can find some simple frame kits on the net all the way to customs for older mod-restricted buildings.

I tried this and, amazingly enough, it worked!
Buy cheap bubble wrap and cut to the size of the glass in the window. Spray the bubble side with water (yes that's H2O). Then stick it onto the window. After a month it's still there. Lets light in of course.

How dirty were your windows before application ?


I can see why it would provide good insulation. Just be carefull with bubble wrap and open flame. It has a good fuel air mixture and burns fast.

I thought about that (it prevents the "living in a silver bubble" feeling). Just a note that Reflectix is "heavier" and stiffer (and more expensive) than bubble wrap and has two layers of small bubbles (instead of one) between two reflective surfaces.

I think each has it's place. Reflectix should provide significantly more insulation (it was designed for it) than bubble wrap, but bubble wrap has it's advantages (cheaper, lets diffuse light through).

Best Hopes for Doing something,


PS: Gaskets behind switches and outlets are VERY cost effective !

I've been looking at the reflectix. Might get me a roll and play some. I'd like to put these into Cloth Sleeves with a springy frame, and just 'spring fit' them into the windows, so they're easy to remove, and because I can't let any project get too simple.. have to make it really complicated and labor-intensive!

One thought on insulated windows. (Which I strongly advocate doing..) In our 1980 house in the Maine Woods we had Double-layer Non-opening windows along the south-face of this Passive Solar Saltbox style home, and to save heat, we put Black Paper-lined Foam Insul Sheets into the window bays at night. (Just leftover insul. from building the house.. Well that black heated up a little TOO well on sunny mornings, and without proper venting, a few of those windows cracked in the heat. Very Sad lesson learned.. A Gap at the TOP would have let much heat Thermosyphon OUT into the house, working to our advantage in two ways at least, and allow the Teenagers to continue sleeping! Even through the night, that TOP gap would not be Thermosyphoning the Cold off the glass into the living space, as long as the sides and bottom are tight. A Variation would be to have the Dark Panel Tip AWAY at the top, with sides that still sealed to the window frame, and really permitted the Warm Air to flow.

Thanks for the Trolley Links, Alan. Portland still has a 20' chunk of our track left atop Munjoy Hill, waiting for Godot. And Beth Edmonds, our Senate President for Maine's Leg is pushing for the Rail Connector from Portland to Brunswick, to get the Maine Coast Connected again! I hope a bunch of Bostonians are working to link North and South Stations. Do you think the tides of the Atlantic Seaboard could push Trains?

Knock wood!


I've been using a paint called Nansulate that is a water based coating.I've live in a 1927 lath and paster no in wall insulation.My wife's dressing room which is across the hall (north room) has always been 5-8 degrees colder that the other bedroom coated both and now can't tell the difference.5 mil.thickness has app.60 degree temp block.Also have noticed the back of the house is warmer now than the front half where the thermostat is located.Also can be used on pipes hotwater tanks etc.

Can you apply Nansulate to metal window frames? I have a home built in 93' and the window frams are aluminum with what seems to be nothing built into the frames to stop heat transfer as they get very cold. Would love to apply something to the frames to slow down the heat transfer as in my home if you are near a window it is 5 to 8 degrees cooler.

Yes you can apply it to metal also stops sweating and since it a clear coat you can even apply it to glass inside or out but you might want to wait til warmer weather so it doesn't sweat off before curing.They have been spraying the under side of roof decking and getting a ave. 50 degree temp drop in the attic.Go to web site Nansulate.com to get info and if you can't find your answer there call the company.It has been and being featured in different trade mags and others.

A word of caution. Ceramic paints have low R-values for the thicknesses one can apply as paint (sure R 0.12 is nice for metal, which otherwise just has just air films). And they are expensive !

Claims I have seen for ceramic paints are heavy on anecdotal tales and light on lab reports. By comparison, Reflectix shows the various R-values (1.1 to 4.5) for the various applications on it's cover (value varies by value of reflective coats)

Since vaporlock touts just one brand of ceramic paint, and mentions it by name in most of his posts, I wonder if he has a connection with the company. OTOH, he may just be a very satisfied user. My analysis of his claims is that they are VERY unlikely to be due to ceramic paint alone, but reduced drafts + ceramic paint could give the improvements quoted.

Does anyone else in TODland have experience with ceramic paints ?

Cold spots by windows can be due to drafts and single pane glass as well as metal frames w/o a thermal break.

A former Energy Auditor (decades ago),



I definately have drafts but the frames get extremely cold. The windows are double pane and I have had most of them replaced recently because the seals were broken. I am getting a combination of drafts plus aluminum frames. I can fix the drafts but I do not want to pay for new vinyl frames as that is way out of my budget.

Have you considered getting the thin ( 1/2" ?? ) Silverfaced Foil insulation, Tuff-R or another PolyisoCyanurate.. and Crafting a surface treatment either Indoors or Outdoors on these Frames (or both).. It could have an outer laminate surface of very thin Plywood, Lauan, maybe Veneer-wood, Peel/Stick Linoleum tiles, maybe even self-adhesive Shelf-paper or such?

Just spitballing.. (always wear eye-protection when spitballing)


I have but the problem is the window frames are not flat. They have some edging (like horizontal stairsteps) that would pose a problem to using something rigid like that. That is why the nansulate might be a great solution if it works.

Hey Bob, we use the foil faced foam, and cover it with fabric for a little color, carefull cutting and our panels fit our andersen thermopane casements perfectly as a friciton fit.

Some detail on the house, 24x24 saltbox, 15 degrees east of south for the early warmup, kitchen in the northeast corner. House was built with local lumber, trucked in one load less than 25 miles.

2x6 walls 2x10 rafters, bastard post and beam, a single 8'x8' runs down the cener, no interior walls except for the bathroom. Wall detail 2x6 foil faced fiberglass to fit, diagonally sheathed with rough cut spruce 1x8s and the 1 is more like an inch and a half. tyvek, then local cedar shingles.

Interior walls are strapped out by 3/4 of an inch and then half inch sheetrock applied horizontally over the strapping, kind of floating the sheetrock away from the wall itself, and you can feel the sheetrock warm up and hold the heat.

Heat is a centrally located wood stove, never more than 4 cords and more usually 3 per winter.

Have close to 3 feet of snow on the ground, temp is 3 with a wind chill of -12. Inside is 79, as I'm running the temp up a bit to go thru the night. We have friends who say they heat with wood, mittens and hats to go to bed, and you really don't want to visit in Jan, they are at each others throat.
I like to be warm. We generally sleep with bedroom window cracked open for some fresh air.


Very nice.
Thanks for the details.


Quick update, got 5 below now, windchill at 18 below. Just put my last load into the stove. Not quite as easy as setting your thermostat, you have to take some personal responsibility for actually staying warm. So up late, with a wood stove that is really drawing well and for a bit needs some supervision.

Ceramic paints are common. Many manufacturers
use ceramic ingredients and do not bother
using that for promotional copy. If this
Nansulate is real, ceramic is not a
sufficient explanation.

Former Energy Auditor,

Is there much business for Energy Auditors in the NO area yet? Do you think that will change anytime soon?

It's not a ceramic paint,I'm a painter and have painted with both.

Reflective insulations aren't really about R-value, which is a measure of conductive heat loss. The idea is to reflect radiant heat before it is absorbed by the interior surface and begins conducting to the outside. The R-value of paint is basically zilch, but people have reported that a reflective surface (kitchen aluminum foil for example, or specially designed paints) can create energy conservation gains equivalent to R-10 or so.

I imagine this is especially true when using radiant heating systems.

It's a nanotech coating that slows the rate of convection ,conduction and radiation.It doesn't matter to hanging an r-value on it so far in my use of it has worked and I'm not done applying it.It take app.30-60 days to reach full insulating results.

Good for you. Thermal Shutters & Shades is the bible for this type of stuff, now out of print but occasionally available used. people were doing a lot of this in the 70s but so much has apparently just been forgotten.

Thank you. It's on it's way from the library.

I have also played with the Reflectix insulation. I wrapped my exposed ductwork with it. I wasn't able to record any differences in air temperature coming from my ducts, but I believe that it is working because when my furnace is on, my ductwork now reads a temperature of 75 degrees instead of 110.

I also used the reflectix to seal up large gaps in the attic before insulating. In all, I spent $27,000 replacing the windows adding 1 1/2" of insulation to the outside of our house, and installing vinyl siding. I also blew in an R60 worth of insulation into the attic. The results have been a 28% reduction in natural gas usage and 14% reduction in electrical usage. I believe the electrical reduction is due to the furnace running less, it draws 550 watts.

I have a spreadsheet with my natural gas readings for every day and each time I make an improvement on my house, I can watch as my house increases in efficiency. For example, recently I noticed icicles forming on my roof even though I have an R60. I found two pieces of ductwork broken in my attic. Fixing it gave me an instant 8% savings. Everyone should know their Home Energy Rating. Mine is currently 3.8. That's BTU's per heating degree per square foot. If you want to know more, let me know.

I really want to get my natural gas usage down more. So, I have been looking into replacing our blinds with cellular blinds. I have also thought about using the Reflectix insulation on the back of a roman shade. This way, when the shades are drawn down, you would get something like an R6 insulation value. I can't remember what our new windows have for an R value, but it is less than R6, I'm certain. If it is R5, then adding the Reflectix would give you an R11.

My question to you Alan is: Have you sealed up the windows completely with the Reflectix? Is it impossible to look out them now?

Regarding Home Energy Ratings, I'm interested in more info on that in general and for your case in particular.

In your Bio, you mentioned decreasing electricity use more than gas. What is the change for the TOTAL energy use, given that the electricity saved was formerly part of the thermal heat source for your cold Wisconsin winters.

I should put a little more thought into my Bio. I didn't realize anyone would actually look at it as I haven't figured out how to look at someone else's bio yet... Unless it's just a matter of clicking on their UserID. I'll research.

As for the Home Energy Rating, it is something you can do yourself pretty quickly. Hopefully, if you use natural gas to heat your home, your provider will submit a bill with the number of therms you used. HOPEFULLY they also included the number of heating degrees on the bill too. If not, you can easily get this information from wunderground.com. I can explain it further if you need me to, but don't want to bore anyone.

So, given that information last month I used 121 therms.
My natural gas provider estimates that 23 therms was used for water heating, gas stove, and gas dryer.
There were 1245 heating degree days.
My house is 2500 ft2.
There are 100,000 btu's per therm.

The formula I use is this:
(121-23)*100,000/1245/2500 = 3.89 Home Energy Rating

Unfortunately, the Home Energy Rating only works for home heating and doesn't have anything to do with electricity.

As for electricity, we use anywhere from 225 to 350 KHW per month. We live an absolutely normal lifestyle. We have four TV's, two of which are larger than 32". The one difference is that I use X10 devices to turn off almost all of our devices when they are not in use. The standby usage of all these things are what adds up. So, in order to use the TV, the kids have to press a button on a remote, which then turns the outlet on for things like the TV, Nintendo Wii, Laptop, networking gear, battery chargers, external speakers, etc.

My next major purchase will be the replacement of the 7 year old furnace. While it is 92% efficient, it uses 550 watts to run the blower. New Carrier furnaces with variable speed motors only use around 40 to 70 watts.

Unfortunately, the Home Energy Rating only works for home heating and doesn't have anything to do with electricity.

Not true. Every bit of the electricity you use ends up as heat in your house (except for a small amount that escapes as visible light through a window). In your case, 350 kWh equals about 12 therms, which is about 10% of your gas energy. If you started at 750 kWh and decreased 50%, your gas usage would have gone up 10% (in winter) if you had done nothing else.

The gas HW heater is another matter. While a lot of hot water does go down the drain, some of the heat stays in your house. Plus, there is some leakage due to inadequate insulation on the thing. If it is in heated space, that counts toward your heating load as well.

More importantly, if your 7-year old furnace is in heated space, then the 500 watts power savings on one with a new blower is negated by the extra gas needed to provide that heat. You would probably still save some money, (and then there are the usual arguments about using high quality energy for heat), but probably not enough to justify getting rid of a rather efficient furnace.

Good points. I forget about the waste heat from electrical devices. My electricity comes from wind indirectly from the extra $0.02 I pay per KWH. So, as for CO2 being concerned it would be better for the environment to heat using electricity than natural gas. For my pocket book, it would be better to use natural gas.

Do you have a reference to a government or other web site on Home Energy Ratings? I am doing the calculations myself and my rating for all of 2007 was 9.9 (1024 therms for heating, 6453 heating degree days, and 1600 square feet). Three years ago, before I started making efficiency improvements, it was 12.8. I'm very interested in normals for various house styles, sizes, heating systems and regions of the country to see how I compare to similar houses. To date I haven't found anything so I can only compare my own house to itself over time.

I'm impressed with your 3.9. I thought I was doing okay but now I see that I have a lot of room for improvement (not to mention fuel and money savings).


I think you have some air infiltration issues that if dealt with would lower your energy usage. I just checked my gas meter for 2007 and used 478 therms to heat 3,328 sf with 7,170 heating degree days. This is right at 2 btu/sf/hdd and I have a similar amount of insulation and a 95% gas furnace, but I have very carefully airsealed the building envelope.

Calorie, check out RESNET Residential Energy Services Network

Unfortunately, my home was built in 1968. Air infiltration? You better believe it. I had a friend over with his infrared camera and we found a couple of areas that didn't have any insulation. That has been remedied. I already sealed up both of my fireplace chimneys, but they are on the outside of the house so the brick around the fireplaces is thermally bridged to the outside. I just did temperature measurements. Inside temp = 69, outside temp = 5, brick temp = 53, inside of fireplace temp = 40. My current energy rating puts me in the top 30% of all houses in Dane County, WI.

I'm happy to see people take interest in their home energy ratings. It's amazing how we go through life just paying our bills. It's always nice to be able to compare your home with others so that you can see improvements.


I have also done countless searches to find information on the home energy rating. Unfortunately, after hours of searching, the best information I can find is from my natural gas provider. They refer to it as a Home Heating Rating. They do not include the months May through Sept into the rating. They also deduct 23 therms per month that they believe are not used for heating.

I would HIGHLY recommend having a home energy audit done or at the very least ask to have a thermal image of your home done so you can see where the leaks are occurring. I found all sorts of crazy things wrong with my house when I had this done.

Oh, my natural gas provider, Madison Gas and Electric (Madison, WI) has the following ratings for their Home Heating Rating:

0 - 4 = Excellent
4 - 5.5 = Good
5.5 - 7.5 = Fair
7.5 - 16 = Needs Improvement


Your gas company gives out more useful information than mine (KEYSPAN). I don't get anything about baseline usage and nothing about ranges for Home Heating Ratings. I estimate my baseline (hot water and clothes dryer) at 1 therm/day, based on gas usage from June 15th through August 15th.

I am preparing to spend $450 for an energy audit that will include a blower door test, infrared scan, and analysis of utility bills. I had a free gas company audit several years ago and it was useful at the time but not very sophisticated. I have steam heat fired from a 125,000 BTU/hr boiler with 82.5% AFUE.


Thanks for the RESNET reference. There is a free and easy energy audit (but of limited usefulness) at http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?fuseaction=home_energy_yardstick.sho.... I use http://www.wunderground.com for heating degree days; does anyone know of a site that lets you download local heating degree day data in Microsoft Excel format?

Your natural gas company may offer you a rebate for your energy audit. One area where I saved 3% of my natural gas usage was in my attic. Unfortunately, heat ducts for the second level of our house go into the attic. There were 3" gaps around the area where the ductwork penetrated the attic. I stapled and taped the reflectix insulation to seal up that area. I also found a couple of areas where wiring penetrated the attic that I caulked. Unfortunately, there are a few areas above my bathrooms that I wasn't able to access because I only had something like 18" of clearance and didn't feel like swimming in fiberglass insulation.

As for downloading data in Excel format, Wunderground allows you to do this. First you must click on one of the Personal Weather Stations at the bottom of the page. Then click on the Yearly tab and it will show you a years worth of data. Then at the bottom of that data, click on the "Comma Delimited File" option. You can then easily import this into Excel. You might have to play around with it, but it will work.

Here's hoping the thread isn't dead.

I have a 80+ yr old house, 2x4 construction, lath and plaster, and single pane double hung windows. One of the greatest leaks is not from the glass itself, but leaks around the "casing" and in the weight slots on both sides of the window. I've replaced many of these, though some have built in 80+ yr stained glass directly above, along with panes of the same age (complete with air bubbles and a wavy rather than flat surface.)

So for sentimental and other reasons, I will keep them, but looking for the best way to insulate the walls. Blow-in was added in the seventies, which I'm sure has settled. My options as I see them are: 1 remove exterior siding-needed-wrap with bldging wrap, nail 2x2 spacers to existing sheathing-old 1x6 ship-lap, attach closed cell foam between the spacers, and reside.

Or-the same, only from the inside, then covering with new drywall. I wish to keep the old lath and plaster intact, as I like the sound deadening and thermal mass. Given all the electrical and finish carpentry required around windows and doors plus my snail slow speed at these and heat loss along the ceiling-wall interface, it seems working from the outside is best, but not sure. Afraid of applying siding directly over foam, and prob too expensive to apply another layer of sheathing. Also there are condensation issues I'm not sure of. Existing roof eave 12" so fine at top, but concerned about sealing bottom and around built out area of windows. Ideas?

There is insulating siding out there. Also, what about storm windows?

Aluminum storms are in place-70's install. imo, not very effective. Interior plastic film over pane sash seems much better, but misses side and weight slot drafts.

Looking for more R than insulated siding. It's a smaller house-25x45 with 12/12 pitch and attic bedrooms-closed off in winter.

doug fir,

If you add rigid insulation to the outside of the wall do so with continuous sheets so the studs are covered with the foam to reduce thermal bridging.

If you put foam on the outside there are condensation issues to deal with as this would trap moisture from escaping. This would cause the existing insulation to get moist eliminating any R value that might remain and eventually leading to mold. Have you considered blowing in more insulation? I’ve used hole saws to provide access in walls to blow in more cellulose insulation - provided the old stuff isn’t in real bad shape and there are no fire blocks in the wall. Close the hole by placing a piece of wood a few inches longer than the hole behind it and 2/3rds as wide, wet the old plaster with a spray bottle for adhesion, and plug with Durabond leaving a rough surface for the finish coat (do not use pre mixed, it is too soft and will crack when applied thick). I have come up with a way some time ago to seal the window weight channels, I not have used this technique yet as I have not had the chance (since I have left Chicago probably never will). Take off the face molding surrounding the windows and the board guiding the inner window and this will expose the window weight channels. Measure the window weight diameter and buy some PVC drain tubing with an inside diameter slightly larger. Cut a small notch at the top to allow for the pulley and another longer notch at the bottom to correspond to the access plate on the inside of the sash to allow removal of the weight. Slip the tubing around the weight and position in the channel. Check if the weight works smoothly. Foam in with expanding foam. When dry clear away foam that could interfere with either smooth operation or future removal of the weight. Re-attach window trim. I have installed (I’m a union carpenter) rigid foam insulation on the inside walls and then capped the walls with drywall in a three flat in Chicago. Expensive, but it works very well. You must re-trim the windows with spacers to make up for the extra thickness, add spacer boxes to the electric, and who know what other mods. The added benefit to this method is that it adds a moisture seal (tape the foam joins with duct tape) and provides a conduction barrier to heat transference.

Depending on where "doug fir" is located the primary air barrier may indeed belong on the outside of the wall. A well sealed and sufficiently thick layer of rigid insulation on the outside of the wall will not allow air infiltration and will put the dewpoint somewhere within the rigid insulation where no condensation can occur. The rule of thumb for air barriers in cold climates is to be on the inside 1/3 of the insulation R-value.

Btu, is your rule of thumb from field experience ? Or another source ?


This is from the superinsulation days of the late 1970's and early 1980's. In Canada it was common practice when building a double stud wall to put the vapor barrier on the outside of the inside 2x4 wall so none of the electrical wiring would penetrate the vapor barrier. This is where the 1/3 rule comes from.

Yes, in a balloon or double wall superinsulated structure this is the practice to prevent inside moisture from contaminating the insulation. Even in a superinsulated structure, you must have a permeable air barrier on the outside, such as tyvek to allow moisture to escape. See Page 31, “The Superinsulated Home Book”, J.D. Ned Nisson & Gautam Dutt. The rules of asuperinsulated structure do not apply here. In this particular instance the home has 2X4 wall construction with plaster lath and no vapor barrier. Thin wall. Dew points much harder to control. Putting an impermeable barrier on the outside is asking for trouble. I’ve repaired buildings that had a stucco system that used rigid insulation underneath as a substrate. After removing the stucco everything underneath was rot city and moldy as hell. Nowhere for the moisture to go.

If you have a really tightly sealed enclosure, you might need to install a countercurrent heat exchanger to allow air circulation. I'm not sure how they handle condensation/frost for such a device.

And I think the rule of thumb is, the vapor barrier goes on the inside for a cold climate, and on the outside for a hot one.

Or was it the other way around? :)

Thanks to all.

I'm in northern Rocky Mtns. One thing I'm not sure of when speaking of condensation is where the original moisture comes from-is it interior moisture/humidity "migrating out", or outside air moisture coming in? If the latter, shouldn't Tyvek or a good building wrap mitigate this? Normal outside humidity in non-heating season very low to nonexistent.

Problem with blow-in (old holes from original job in 70's still accessible) is plaster falling in on lath, or creating internal ridges or ledges, so it's a very uneven installation. And it is difficult/never done above/below windows.

I was leaning heavily to outside foam, but your cautions have got me doubting. Window weight channels were originally constructed in place by building a 4"x4" box on each side of the window, so quite a space with the old 5 1/2' tall windows. (And 9' ceilings) Maybe the most practical will be expanding foam around a inserted pvc tube for weights. Interior has old mitered corner, 5' foot tall wooden wainscoting over plaster in some areas, a shame to tear up. Unfortunately, exterior ship lap sheathing nailed shut horizontally over the channel.

df, in northern Rockies the cold winter air will have little moisture compared to the warm inside air. The main source of moisture inside is breathing, sweating human bodies (dogs, cats, etc). I would definitely go for sealing the inside, venting the outside which is the standard way of dealing with exterior house surfaces in all but the warmest & most humid parts of the country.

I haven't researched Tyvek, but I believe it is designed to breathe while admitting minimal air. The problem of sealing/venting for moisture always represents a trade-off in home design in terms of air-infiltration.

Inside sealing can be also achieved, I believe, by using paint designed to seal against moisture. Blown-in insulation works well but, like you say, is difficult in an old house to do thoroughly. I faced a similar problem in a ca. 1900 big old house in Asheville NC. The best way is to drill (at least) two blow holes per wall stud cavity, top and bottom, and blow from the top. Old houses often have diagonal braces at corners further complicating the 'stranded cavity' picture. We drilled from inside in this particular house since the outside was heavy pebble-dash stucco which would have been a bear to deal with. Plaster is much easier to patch but makes a huge mess drilling. The wainscoting... well, I dunno.

Just guessing, I would say concentrate on getting as complete a job of blown-in as possible if removing outside siding is out of the question. If you are more ambitious, removing exterior siding and adding the the wall thickness by another inch or so might be a good idea. Do some research on insulating foams. I believe the expanded (as opposed to extruded) polystyrene is not a moisture barrier but get on the web and google around.

Research, research, research. No one has all the answers on these questions on repairing old buildings with a minimum of cost. Retrofitting old buildings is an art, and not practiced by many because there is not as much profit in it as just doing a Bob Villa and gutting the place. I’d suggest going to some remodeling discussion groups and forums and asking around. New products and techniques come out every day. Just amazing the new products that are out there. Be patient, better to come up with the right solution rather than hurry up and do the wrong one.

You should do some research, many updated building practices use foam as an exterior sheathing, a plaster wall has a low perm rating to begin with and little moisture will go through it. The stucco/moisture problems had much to do with an improper installation and not providing a capillary break between the stucco and sidewall, solar heating was actually driving moisture through the foam into the wall cavity.

Although it is much 'higher-tech' I've always thought the Beadwall was an elegant concept. At this point I don't think Zomeworks markets it, so it would be a homemade engineering project.

Zomeworks.com also has the nifty self-tracking solar collectors which use no motors. Steve Baer was definitely ahead of the times.

We did the same every year up to now (*) and used UL-181 metal tape which IMHO is what old fabric duct tape never was but wanted to be when it grew up.

This metal tape holds better with temp extremes; the blue masking tape fuses with some finishes over seasons and won't come off.

Get some "Great Stuff" foam and carefully remove the trim around your window and follow the directions. This will cut out a lot of the draftyness around the windows.

However, it won't do anything for the leaks inside walls that make air flow through there. You'll want to caulk and examine the house for that. The walls will be a bit cold still.

We bought a laser IR non-contact thermometer for $80 from Northern Tool, it was a great investment.

(*) We're in the middle of a remodel including new windows, adding R8 iso foilbacked and new siding. It's a terrible pain in the hiney, but it's working. We're also adding solar hot water. Let me know if you want to know exactly how incredibly hard and expensive it is to make a normal house into well-insulated house.

The old windows were 15 degrees colder on the inside surface than the new ones. The walls are five degrees warmer on the inside. We're warmer and happier.


I have gotten light frostbite from the drafts here, I sure wish I'd bought a pair of those Ugg boots when I had money!

Reflectix - type insulation is amazing stuff, but it sure does look like hell in anything but the most utilitarian situation. Can be used to insulate under floors with basement access.

Thermoshield paint contains borosilicate microspheres, and reflects IR energy much like aluminum foil. Looks more or less like normal paint, though. Might be nice for interior walls.

You could probably get away with Reflectix on interior ceilings, loosely covered with some sort of fabric. Sort of an Arabian Nights look. Good if you can't insulate ceilings via an attic. Don't need much more than a staple gun.

Insulated curtains are worth looking into, since it's coldest at night. Also good for partitioning off open doorways/passages for local heating.

I didn't read the comments, so please excuse if it was mentioned but maybe someone finds "nanogel insulation" interesting.
To see state of the art vacuum solar collectors check solar-international.eu (in German, but you should get a good idea).

Top Energy Story of 2007

Top Story of 2007

Russia, Iran tighten the energy noose
By M K Bhadrakumar

However, as the year draws to a close, it becomes clear that the Kremlin has either nipped in the bud or frustrated one way or another the various US attempts to bypass Russia's role as the key energy supplier for Europe. Indeed, Moscow 's counter-strategy aims at augmenting even further Russia 's profile and capacity to be Europe 's dependable energy supplier and thereby forcing the European consumer countries to negotiate with Russia as a partner with shared or equal interests.

The month of May stood out as the watershed when the geopolitics of energy in Eurasia decisively turned in Russia 's favor. At a tripartite summit meeting in the city of Turkemenbashi ( Turkmenistan ) on May 12, Putin and his Kazakh and Turkmen counterparts signed a declaration of intent for upgrading and expanding gas pipelines from Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan along the Caspian Sea coast directly to Russia .

Schroeder pointed out that energy rivalries lie at the core of the US policy of encirclement of Russia and behind Washington's persistent attempts to denigrate and isolate Moscow. He warned of dire consequences if Washington persisted with such a course, as Moscow is "certainly not happy about it".

Iran factor becomes important
In such an overall context, during the months ahead Moscow can be expected to make robust efforts to coordinate with Iran over its oil and gas output and exports. The rationale for such a coordinated strategy involving Iran is very obvious. First, Moscow is intensely conscious of the Western awareness of Iran's enormous untapped hydrocarbon reserves as an alternative to Russian supplies. Russia will strive to stay ahead of the European, and eventually American, overtures to Iran.

Second, the hydrocarbon sector in Iran is firmly under state control and Moscow and Tehran are in harmony in this regard. Third, the two countries will be coordinating their energy policies for wider geopolitical purposes within the broad framework of their strategic cooperation. Furthermore, market forces dictate the rationale of Russia-Iran cooperation.


I passed the OPEC story uptop through my "Assume the Opposite" Filter*

OPEC Review: Group Could Cease Exporting Oil By 2037 (I suspect that the following is closer to the truth; sarcasm alert)

A newly published report by Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries indicates the group will be much harder pressed than previously thought to meet the world's surging oil needs and could realistically cease exporting any significant amount of oil by 2037. The report in the December issue of the OPEC Review, published by the organization's Vienna-based Secretariat, also says Kuwait is likely to be an extremely inconsistent and unstable supplier and questions Saudi Arabia's assertion it is capable of matching, let alone exceeding, its 2005 production level.

*As a general (but not absolute) rule, in order to ascertain the truth regarding Peak Oil, one should assume that the opposite of what public officials say is much closer to the truth.

Pakistan's Caretaker Ministers:

We have plenty of fuel and wheat.

There's a commentary by Jared Diamond in today's New York Times.

What’s Your Consumption Factor?

He considers the overall consumption situation, not just energy (or, oil), but the message is the same. The way we in the West are living is unsustainable. We (particularly in the U.S.) are most certainly going to face a future where we will not be able to consume as much as we now do.

Diamond claims that "Real sacrifice wouldn’t be required...", which misses the fact that consumption is not spread evenly throughout the population in the U.S. any more than it is over the Earth. As the time for retrenchment arrives, there will be a lot of pain.

E. Swanson


I=aPbAcTde (note b,c,d are exponential functions of P,A,T)

where I is a measure of environmental impact, P is population, A is affluence and T is technology. Then a, b, c, d and e are parameters to be estimated. Estimation is accomplished by using standard statistical methods, such as regression analysis. The regression estimation procedure requires the key variables—I, P, A, and T—be converted to logarithmic form. The resulting estimates of the parameters b, c, and d can then be interpreted as the elasticities of population, affluence and technology, respectively. The elasticities tell us the percent change in impacts from a one percent change in any of these driving variables. The “a” term is a parameter that scales the model. The “e” term captures the affects of all things that effect I but are uncorrelated with P, A and T.

In case anyone was wondering what the average price of oil was in 2007, it was $72.41 a barrel. I am betting it will be a bit higher in 2008.

2007 was a year of record prices
Crude futures averaged $72.41 in 2007, compared with $66.25 in 2006, and had their biggest percentage gain since 1999, when prices more than doubled to $25.60 a barrel.

Ron Patterson

Which is why averages are so misleading.

$98.37 now. OOPS. $98.49. My bad.

Would be funny if it hit $100 today. :-D

Still on CNBC/Bloomberg:

"Debate on whether oil will continue to strengthen in 2008."

I predict NYMEX is closed (for however long-hour/day/year) in 2008.

$100 is interesting from another point of view. WTI was right at $50 in May, 2005--so far the monthly peak for C+C production (EIA).

I wonder if a lot of fund managers sold WTI positions in late 2007, in order to lock in their winnings for 2007, and are now repurchasing their positions.

$98.88 now. At the very least it may test the intra-day high set in November. If it passes that? full-steam ahead to $100?

Especially for Robert Rapier :-)

I almost feel sorry for the guy on the other side of that bet.


Hahahaha! Congratulations, Robert!

Robert said he thought he would make it through by the skin of his teeth, but I'm not sure he knew just how close it would be.

I managed to get through 2007 without buying a barrel of oil...but I did buy some gas. :)

'Puritanism - The haunting fear that someone, somewhere may be happy.'
H.L. Mencken...

Wholesale gas futures are selling at $2.55 today, which is the first historical record broken in 2008 -- I believe by looking at these EIA numbers .

EDIT: I am an idiot! Katrina pushed the price just over $3.00 by looking at these EIA numbers .

I think the first numbers are wholesale, while the second numbers are retail.

Thanks for pointing that out. I think I should return to bed.

Here are the NYMEX gasoline wholesale numbers. The record is $2.61 on August 31, 2005 (unless I missed something again).

Not % wise according to this data.

The following are the average annual price increases of crude and mogas per the EIA weekly Friday closings,
Using 53 weeks or the closest 371 days

2003 Crude up $04.9 @ $31.2 Mogas up 31 cents @ $1.560
2004 Crude up $10.3 @ $41.5 Mogas up 29 cents @ $1.850
2005 Crude up $14.3 @ $56.8 Mogas up 42 cents @ $2.270
2006 Crude up $09.2 @ $66.0 Mogas up 20 cents @ $257.0
2007 Crude up $06.9 @ $72.9 Mogas up 29 cents @ $2.805

Saxo Bank's 2008 economic predictions.

Saxo Bank’s Outrageous Predictions for 2008:
1, Ron Paul elected as president of the US in 2008;
2, S&P500 falls 25 per cent from its 2007 high to 1182;
3, EURSEK falls to 8.8000 (now 9.4000);
4, USDSGD falls to 1.4000, but then rises to 1.6000 (now 1.6000);
5, EURHUF rises to 275;
6, At least three of the largest 10 US home builders will go bankrupt;
7, Chinese stock market falls 40 per cent by late summer;
8, Grain Prices to double – again!;
9, World oil prices accelerate to $175;
10, UK growth turns negative.

For those who want to dismiss this list, remember that Saxo Bank's predictions for 2007 were too conservative and reality was often far worse than their 2007 predictions, which were also called too extreme by other media.

I don't see anything in there that looks too 'way out' given one or two nudges. I also read that we may see more than a few Banks go to the wall early on and they are currently liquidating assets...

I think we could be seeing a replay of the DotCom Bust with weak economy, falling asset prices (mainly houses, some stocks), slashed Interest rates and weakening currencies. Gold will probably shoot through $1000 which should keep the GoldBuggers happy and Uranium stocks will probably retest old highs at some point.


Crude just made an interday high above $99

Spot just hit 100

Yergin and $100 oil

He HADN'T stopped it from coming!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!

He Stood puzzling and puzzling: "How could it be so?"
"It came without hurricanes!, without war with Iran!"
"It came without Al Quaeda bombing Bahrain"
And he puzzled three hours, 'till his puzzler was sore.
Then Yergin thought of something he hadn't before!
"Maybe crude oil" he thought, "doesn't come from a store."


Classic, truly classic!

Yeah, the fact that Yergin talked about $100 oil caused some degree of confusion among the Yergin Watchers (if memory serves, he said that we were one serious geopolitical event away from $100 oil).

I think that the final conclusion was that the Yergin Indicator suggested that a truly severe geopolitical event would result in $200 oil.

Riots in Kenya! Yeah, that's it, that's the geopolitical event: Riots in Kenya!

To be fair, the exact Yergin quote was: "The oil market may be only one or two events away from hundred dollar-plus oil."

This was in the context of his lament, which we hear from so many sources, that the oil price is being increasingly "decoupled" from the fundamentals of supply and demand.

the oil price is being increasingly "decoupled" from the fundamentals of supply and demand.

This is nothing but a very lame excuse for; "Why I was so damn wrong with all my predictions for the price of oil." They were wrong, wrong and wrong again. "But", they say, "its not my fault that the price of oil has become decoupled from the fundamentals." Baloney! The price of oil has been rising since 1998 and it has been rising because of supply and demand.

What is wrong with saying; "I wuz WRONG"? Why can oil prognosticators like Yergin and Lynch not get that phrase out of their mouths? What is so hard about admitting you were simply wrong?

Ron Patterson

The "oil prices are too high!" crowd certainly didn't get much of a hearing today.

Prime example, New York Times:

the spike in crude prices of $3.64 for the day reflected deeper worldwide trends, including the surge in energy demand from China, India and the oil-producing countries themselves.

That's almost a flat out endorsement of WT's export land model.

That one's a keeper!

Hey: You have the talent. Write a few more versus, I H S L M A O Y.

That, my friend, was a thing of beauty.

.. and what happened then?
Well, in Whoville, they say
That Yergin's small benchmark
grew THREE sizes that day.

See post above on Bet.Surf's up!

It will be interesting to see what Tapis does.

101.12 so far
but NYMEX is surging again $99.57
Money flowing into PM and RBOB and oil.
Beans and Wheat up-limit.
Oil Inventory tomorrow.

up-limit? Like they cant go any higher for the day?? Plz halp i r investing n00b! ^_^

Spudw, the term "Limit Up" or "Limit Down" are a very common terms in commodities trading, especially agricultural commodities. Some commodities have no daily trading limits but beans and wheat most certainly do.

Soybean Oil
Daily Price Limit
2 cents per pound ($1,200/contract) above or below the previous day's settlement price. No limit in the spot month (limits are lifted beginning on First Position Day).

The limit on Soybeans is $0.50 per bu. and the limit on wheat is $0.30 per bushel.

Daily Price Limit
Thirty cents ($0.30) per bushel ($1,500/contract) above or below the previous day's settlement price. No limit in the spot month (limits are lifted beginning on First Position Day).

Ron Patterson

For posterity:

Posterity indeed...

Gold surges to new record highs


Jason – Great interview with Prof Farley.


My comments;

Over the last several years I have reduced my family’s economic/ecologic footprint by more than half via ELP principals.

I will attest to the fact that quality of life need not suffer (1969 rocked) and indeed we seem to have increased Health, happiness, time spent together, time out in nature, lower stress by far, and on top of all that we have completely eliminated financial worry, (barring major catastrophic event, and we have a fund we are rapidly building to address that possibility).

Having done this and through our example illustrated the benefits of a move like this to many friends and family I am more pessimistic than ever about the future of civilization.

Can we do it? Hell yes!
Will we do it? Hell no!!

You would have a better chance of converting Pat Robertson to Islam than to convert Americans to a new economic model.

I didn't see this posted:


The article states that DaimlerChrysler was fined $30M for not meeting the CAFE fuel economy standards in 2006. The fine is $5.50 for each 1/10 of a mpg the manufacturer falls short of the CAFE standard, multiplied by the number of cars they sold.

I didn't know that they could do that, fail to meet the standard and just pay a fine for it. With the new higher CAFE standards to be coming online over the upcoming years, might this mean that automakers will just make what they want and pay the fine as a cost of business?

Particularly if the $5.50 rate is a set price in the legislation. With the devaluation of the dollar, it becomes less and less of a fine every year.

Simply choosing to pay the fine could be a viable business decision. Some small sportscar makers do this today.

I could see that, in the case of Lamgorghini or some such small manufacturer. I don't see them coming out with a economy car to counter the mpg of their performance cars. The number of those cars sold is small, and the buyers can afford to pay extra to help the company pay the fine.

But if the fine is low enough that the mainstream auto manufacturers can afford to take the route, it would be very bad news indeed if you ask me. Congress has to make sure that the fines are high enough to ensure the Chevrolets and Toyotas of the world can't just pay the fines. If the fine was adding $15K to the price of a Chevy Tahoe, that would greatly reduce the number of people that would be willing to pay for that Tahoe. If it added only $3000 to the cost, they might just shrug it off and buy it anyway.

Doing a little math, if we assume the $5.50 fine for every 1/10 of a mpg you miss the CAFE standard carries over to the recently passed laws eventually requiring 35 mpg, what would be the financial impact of an automaker ignoring it?

$5.50 per 1/10 of a mpg equals $55 per mpg. Let's say an automaker completely blows off the new standards and in 2020 their mpg is still 25 mpg instead of the required 35 mpg. $55 times the ten mpg they missed the standard, that only would add $550 to the cost of the car to cover the fine!

$550 is laughable. It would have to be at least ten times that much to be a serious detriment. I hope the fines in the new law are a lot steeper than that, and hopefully escalate each year the requirement is missed

Mercedes' problem is that they don't sell enough light trucks that qualify for the weaker requirements. The countrywide average MPG is something around 20 MPG, so Mercedes is actually raising the fuel economy of the USA fleet. There is also a "gas guzzler" tax levied at cars (and not light trucks) that can be quite substantial; a car getting the mileage of a typical F150 pickup, for example, pays thousands of dollars per vehicle.

Doesn't surprise me. I did a preliminary energy study of a big three plant in Ontario. We just focused on the building services as process can change from year to year. Without even breaking a sweat we found $4 million in savings (~20%) less than a 4 year payback with financing. Guess what? Some bean counter said it did not meet their economic criteria.......Like .... losing money?

Well that's a bit surprising. I did my best to help by buying a GEM (Global Electric Motors - a Chrysler subsidary).

In case this hasn't been posted, this link is on an article in the current OPEC Review saying that Middle East and other OPEC supply won't meet world demand at some point between 2024 and 2048. It seems to be food for advocates of the oil plateau theory.


Steve LeVine, author
The Oil and the Glory

That was my lead until we hit $100/barrel. Westexas has some comments on it higher in this thread.

The funny thing is...that story was apparently one of the factors that drove oil to $100 today. Funny, because it sounds really cornucopian and optimistic to a peak oiler. (No problem until 2037.) But it's significantly more pessimistic than anything OPEC has previously said, so traders took notice.

Yes isn't that the main thing -- this is coming from OPEC's secretariat. Perhaps the journal is simply trying to publish all sorts of analyses, but it is striking considering the official line out of Saudi Arabia, for instance.

This article is very strange, not at all what one might expect from an organization like OPEC, which you might expect to have an interest in keeping its members happy. For example this comment on Kuwait:

It said across all three scenarios, Kuwait emerged as an "extremely inconsistent and unstable" supplier as a result of its highly erratic production in the past: the country's annual production growth rate fell as much as 78% in 1991 after the Iraqi invasion, then shot up 457% in 1992 to compensate, the report said.

An invasion seems like a pretty good excuse for inconsistent supplies for that year, but a surprising basis on which to brand it as unstable over the forecast period. Also the three scenarios are for different growth rates - of course if they base inconsistency on past performance the scenarios will have no impact, so saying it applies to all three scenarios is rather irrelevant. Even the way the numbers are quoted is strange - 78% down and then 457% up actually take you back to the original level, but using the differing percentage figures makes it sound far more erratic.

Also this one - they imply Kuwait and Iraq together will produce more than all other OPEC members combined?

Kuwait and Iraq will provide the bulk of OPEC's share of world oil production of 51.1 billion barrels a year by 2037

Then the comment on KSA having trouble meeting demand.

Seems OPEC is usually very careful not to upset it's members, eg dropping publication of quotas so as not to embarrass countries that had to have theirs lowered due to falling production (Venezuela, Indoneesia.) So it is a really surprising article, exactly the sort of article I would never expect to come out of OPEC publically.

Is there a link to the original publication somewhere?

MartinW, I feel the same way. I found this link to the abstract:

But I did not find the entire piece on the web.

As you suggest, it's the source of the study rather than the study itself that's so interesting.


Personally, I think it's a very big deal that an entity tied to OPEC is saying this.

On the Saudis not being able to cope with demand:

"Still, the warning gave investors pause, said Amanda Kurzendoerfer, an analyst at Summit Energy Services Inc. in Louisville, Ky.

"They're talking about, in 20 years, not being able to meet demand," Kurzendoerfer said.

Sometimes I think I am living in another world to these people -someone must have it right...


For Westtexas,
"One trader said word among traders on Wednesday was that Mexico plans to temporarily halt oil exports, although the reason was unclear. The Associated Press reported that several Mexican ports were closed due to rough weather. PEMEX, the Mexican state oil company, could not be immediately reached for comment"

Yes, those three Mexican ports are closed again. The weather is pretty nasty over the Bay of Campeche.

These temporary weather related disruptions are literally no problem, especially for exports that normally go to the Gulf Coast, because of the SPR.

The bigger problem of course is the relentless longer term net export math. And Mexico, because of its high level of consumption, is in the red zone, i.e., peak net exports to zero in 10 years or less--like the ELM (9 years); Indonesia (8 years) and the UK (7 years).

Ironically, the only thing--IMO--that will keep oil prices from skyrocketing further and causing the world industrial economy to implode is if the world industrial economy implodes before oil prices skyrocket.

My advice: ELP before the ELM bites you in the rear end. Just my 2¢ worth.

With current levels of inflation, 2c just isn't what it used to be. Your opinion must be worth at least a buck twenty, surely?

"Ironically, the only thing--IMO--that will keep oil prices from skyrocketing further and causing the world industrial economy to implode is if the world industrial economy implodes before oil prices skyrocket."

Which would be worse? Personally - I think preemptive financial meltdown would be worse, as it risks hiding PO and not encouraging changes in energy use when economies try to recover...

There's a thread over on That Other Site about What IF..... a lot of people decided to tell the credit card companies to go to heck, and it got some publicity, and more people decided to tell the credit card companies to go fish.... and the whole thing grows......

It ought to do a nice job of crashing the US financial system or at least the usury based part of it.

So, it could be a way for a lot of "little people" to do a preemptive strike that would of course affect the world industrial economy and slow things down very quickly.

As the US is soon to discover, poor/broke/bankrupt people spend a LOT less and it's coming anyway so let's get this thing underway.

Mexico's Pemex sees only minor delays to oil exports

The closure of Mexico's main oil exporting ports on Wednesday due to bad weather should mean only minor delays to crude shipments, state energy monopoly Pemex said.

For all my "solar rollers" out there :D


Solar is the Solution

I have been studying our energy options for more than 30 years, and I am absolutely convinced that our best and easiest option is solar energy, which is virtually inexhaustable. Most importantly, if we choose solar we don’t have to wait for a new technology to save us. We already have the technology and energy resources we need to build a sustainable, solar-electric economy that can cure our addiction to oil, stabilize the climate and maintain our standard of living, all at the same time. It is well past time to start seriously harnessing solar energy.

Solar is part of that technology set that I've long asserted we already have. The problem is not technology and never has been. The problem is us, our refusal to change in the face of needed change, and in available capital to effect such change. If the capital is tied up elsewhere for long periods then we're not going to be able to change even if we know how, without government policies to help drive that change.

Also, note that the world you would enter with a huge solar base is going to be radically different than the consumer culture world you live in today. Not necessarily worse but definitely different.

Of course if our civilization continues to sit on its hands and do nothing, we'll get both worse and different at the same time.

"Of course if our civilization continues to sit on its hands and do nothing, we'll get both worse and different at the same time."

and with the entrenched interests of our captains of industry (and their proxies the government) - sitting on their hands seems to be the order of the day

I say over and over again to cornocopians (including some very smart physicists I know) - it isn't that we don't have what we need to (at least) mitigate some of the worst results of peak oil - it's that we won't, and with how complex our modern technological society is, the downslope won't allow much mitigation....

when I see the US begin a crash program of building large solar arrays in the Mojave, huge tax incentives to insulate old houses, more tax incentives to put solar on roofs across the southern states - instead of what we got (weak CAFE standards, tax rebates for oil companies, more tax $ for ethanol) - then, and only then will I believe we will have a soft fall

Here's what we do. Instead of building that Orwellian fence across the Mexican border, we build one damn gigantic solar thermal power station across it. Anyone who tries to walk around the mirrors is led to an employment office. If he wants to keep going, they tell him to start digging posts, installing pipes and bending aluminum. When he's done it for a year, let him on through.

Cheap solar thermal means paying substandard wages here. If it's going to happen, better to let the individuals build something we all need rather than bad houses for a collapsed market. Better for the state to take responsibility for the individuals rather than look the other way at exploitation and garner contempt from migrants and citizens alike.

It could be built in northern Mexico just as easily. It would provide jobs for Mexicans and lessen the incentive to come to the U.S....

I think we'll find Americans who will happily work for $5 an hour soon.

I'm an inventor. My solar concentrator design doesn't have a whole lot of hand labor involved, and if it did the Chinese would probably do it better anyway. China might have to subcontract a lot of manufacturing to cheaper locations like India, though. Mexico is not a poor country. Mexico is a middle class country.

I don't accept on off market, paper trade between two parties at 100.00 as warranting the headline, that we hit 100.00 dollar oil today. That said, I refer to my previous posts where I have tried to point out that we entered the realm of 100.00 oil 2 months ago, once we got to 88.00. Finally, I don't mean to poo-poo the psychological value of the 100.00 dollar print. Quite the opposite.

Again, until I see 100.00 on my screen, this paper trade strikes me as hi-jinx. (In trader parlance, it's a lame attempt at doing something called "forcing the breakout.").

Without question the Big Print is coming. Five minutes remain in the Floor Session. And we just hit 99.81. Some shorts are going to get whacked, I think, in the after hours session, and we will no doubt get the Big Print everyone is waiting for.


Copy of e-mail from one of my corespondents in Europe (total Russian oil exports in 12/07 were down 6.7% from 12/06):

Happy New Year Jeff,

Please find below the latest Russian numbers released today. Production flat, exports down. This is getting interesting.

Best Regards,

WT, myself and others have talked about the "Lid" kept on the media. Now and then you get a glimpse as to just what dictates what stories will and won't get investigated.

Remember GE OWNS NBC.

Ex-'Dateline' reporter blasts NBC coverage of 9/11 aftermath

Another bombshell is Hockenberry's claims that General Electric, NBC's parent company, discouraged him from talking to the Bin Laden family about their estranged family member. Hockenberry asked GE, which does business with the Bin Laden family company, to help him get in contact with them. Instead, a PR executive called Hockenberry's hotel room in Saudi Arabia and read a statement about how GE didn't see its "valuable business relationship" with the Bin Laden Group as having anything to do with "Dateline."


It's not like they decide which stories to do or not.

Then again, YES they DO decides what YOU learn or Not.

It seems to me that it's the reporter who crossed the line. Hockenberry wants it both ways -- to cross the firewall and get corporate-side help with obtaining an interview, while objecting to the business side's p.r. response. The corporate side, meanwhile, behaved correctly by saying it wasn't going to jeopardize its business relationships by cooperating with Hockenberry. If the account is accurate, Hockenberry is possibly guilty of an ethical violation, while the business side should be commended for keeping the competing aims of the reporting and business sides separate.


Rupert Murdoch basically ordered the media outfits he owns to push Bush's Iraq lies in 2003 to drum up support for the war. One has to wonder where the impression that Saddam caused 9/11 comes from the minds of so many people. They were given this impression by propaganda units like Fox News.

Murdoch or Ailes?


Sorry if this was already posted.

US Economic Slowdown hits Singapore's Economy

Jan. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Singapore's economy unexpectedly contracted for the first time in 4 1/2 years as factory output slowed, suggesting Asia's export-dependent markets may face increased risks from weaker global growth.

Gross domestic product shrank an annualized 3.2 percent last quarter after adjusting for inflation, from a revised 4.4 percent expansion in the previous three-month period, the trade ministry said today. Economists had expected a 3.1 percent gain.

Singapore is first in Asia this year to report fourth- quarter figures, giving analysts an insight into how turmoil in global markets and the subprime-mortgage crisis in the U.S., the region's biggest export destination, may affect Asian economic expansion. South Korea and Taiwan have already warned easing demand for semiconductors, mobile phones and computers portends weaker growth in 2008.

IMO we are moving quickly to world wide recession, this millenium commodity bull rush is dying, cannot survive in recession, not to be resurrected for at least two years. Gold, oil, copper etc all down from 1Q highs... probably food too unless australian drought continues. oil might continue strong in 1Q, price will continue falling throughout the year as recession bites, supply remains fairly flat... if supplies actually rise 2mb/d as shown in stuarts megaproject, price will crash below 50.

Hunkering down time... move to t-bills and short etf's, IMO until 1Q2010.

It seems like forever since Goldman Sachs predicted an oil "super spike" above $100 that would curb economic growth and slow demand.

Now we are closing in on their $105 oil prediction, but it doesn't seem to have happened the way they predicted at all. It's easy for me to link the U.S. residential real estate recession to the global economy and the potential for a broad economic downturn. Harder (for me, at any rate) to relate the U.S. real estate downturn to the price of oil.

It seems more like a perfect storm of coincidences rather than a tightly knit fabric of economic cause and effect.

Remember when it was predicted that $30 oil would slow the USA economy?

I find it interesting that the real estate bubble began to burst about the same time that C&C appears to have peaked (May 2005). The real estate bubble was doomed to being burst but I am convinced that higher energy prices, which in turn have driven most other prices upwards, was a key factor in causing the housing bubble to burst.

While I do like the idea that the US economy was liquidated (or is in the process of) because of the advent of peak oil, and Alan Greenspan was brought in 20 years ago as the chief liquidator (and boy, did he ever do a great job of it), it's an idea that would only be seen as sensationalism, doomerism or some other graceful, finely tuned terms along that line.

Absent that connection, however, there is no reason whatsoever to allege a link between real estate prices collapsing and oil prices rising. A good look at the credit crisis, of which the housing bubble is but a relatively small part, will tell you that it needs no help imploding. The extra costs for oil so far pale in comparison to the trillions being renditioned in the financial world.

A lit match dropped on to concrete does nothing.

A lit match dropped into a dry forest and thick dry underbrush with high winds can produce a firestorm.

IMO, ongoing increase in oil prices relative to 5/05 was the match that started the real estate firestorm.

More importantly, increasing oil prices and declining oil exports will strongly contribute to continued declines in real estate values, especially in outlying suburban areas.


US gasoline prices, following EIA stats, went from about $2.25 to $3.00 per gallon from Jan 1 2007 to Jan 1 2008. That is $0.75 per gallon extra, and with a usage of 150 billion gallons (see my article Oil prices or subprime losses?), leads to an added cost of $122,50 billion in the past year. In the same timeframe, the loss in home value ALONE was over $1 trillion, as per Robert Schiller.

That does not yet include foreclosures, job losses, the collapsing credit- and financial instruments market, and all the rest of the general credit crisis. Multiple trillions of dollars have vanished in the past year, and far more trillions will follow in 2008. You might say that we were talking about housing only, but without the general credit collapse, people could simply keep refinancing.

And then, looking at the numbers, the added price of oil at the pump is maybe at the most 5% of what was lost in the real estate markets. Plus, it would keep tumbling whether or not oil will rise more.

There is no doubt that in 2008, increasing oil prices will play a role in finance getting ever tighter and uglier, but there is also no doubt that so far their role in US housing has been negligible. Shiller predicts real estate losses to triple in the next few years, and that is still obviously an very conservative estimate, Total US residential real estate is valued over $20 trillion right now, and a 20% drop, for $4 trillion, is more a minimum guess than an exorbitant one.

So, looking purely at total numbers, oil prices will have to rise a lot, at least triple, to play a significant role in credit markets. And if that happens, dominoes will of course start falling wherever you look, and you won't have enough roads on your four-way to accommodate all the 18 wheelers rushing at us at the same time.

I agree with the principle, but not with the timing. Peak oil's influence on finance is the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. And if you ask me, that makes it all the more scarier. It hasn't even started yet.

I'm talking about cash flow. You are talking about assets. Until the numbers were magically modified, the US Personal Saving Rate (PSR) went negative in the second quarter of 2005 and stayed there. In any case, the revised numbers show a pronounced decline in the PSR that corresponded the 5/05 inflection point in oil prices. Also, it's not just gasoline, higher energy prices have had detrimental effect on a number of consumer items, especially food.

JHK's point for years has been that American suburbs were a disaster waiting to happen, primarily because of Peak Oil.

Yup, and I'm standing by to reallocate that mess my way, got an assortment of wrecking bars. ;)

In September 2007 the Singapore dollar surged against the US dollar and has stayed high since then. Export-driven Asian economies that don't debase their currency as fast the US does are going to have troubles. The pas de deux between China & Japan vis-a-vis their currencies has been interesting in this light.

Seems unlikely that 9/07 exchange rate boost would have had time to affect 4Q exports or gdp... and, note that the swing between actual and expected is 6.3% while those doing the predicting presumably were well aware of the exchange rate boost.

Reductions in US balance of trade, already reported for 4Q, are likely to have a substantial affect on asian economies and their bourses... I wonder who remembers the last time china corrected, causing US markets to swoon, albeit temporarily. Speaking of china, their bubble is well known, bound to tumble hard IMO pretty quick. Eurozone too having tough trouble with pumped up euro... Markets are re-coupling, worldwide recession coming 1H08.

It seems a Ukraine MP is saying that Naftogaz (Ukrainian gas company) is near bankruptcy. Not sure if this will affect European gas deliveries or not.

Dorena hydro project proposed

From the Eugene Register Guard

Symbiotics LLC hopes to begin building a two-turbine plant with 8.3-megawatt capacity in 2009. The project envisions a new powerhouse near the dam's existing spillway basin, a steel pipe from the Dorena Lake through the north dam abutment, a concrete-lined channel to discharge flows into the river below the spillway basin, a valve house and a 15-kilovolt transmission line.

The company is looking at about 250 dams around the country for retrofitting with small "green" hydro projects.

I suspect that rising electrical rates will make this use of existing infrastructure more common in the future.

Dorena Lake is right below my house.

Best hopes for copper-plated BB's

Made me giggle


"There is nothing about any 'carbon dioxide' in the Bible," said Rev. Luke Hatfield of Christchurch Ministries in Topeka, KS. "What's next? Claims that so-called 'fossil' fuels come from mythical creatures like dinosaurs? This has been a sad step backward for our nation."

A White House spokesman was careful to categorize the announcement as "cautious," and reiterated that the president is still not ready to take any position on the existence of polar ice caps, ozone, or a controversial idea held by many scientists and often referred to as "weather."

Questions for oil übernerds:

Below are two versions of the same article. It seems that, since Leanan posted it above, the title changed, as well as the line about Hubbert's presumed inaccuracies. The posted link says only for premium subscribers, but Euroday.gr has it too.

My questions involve the "wild inaccuracies" that Hubbert is supposed to be guilty of. What did he say, exactly? Do we have proof of those statements? Did he change his predictions over time?

It seems to me that he predicted global peak oil, back in 1956, just about on the dot, namely February 2006. What gives?

Peak oil theories

The “Hubbert curve” has become a totem of the peak oil movement.

Applying this globally, however, is fraught with problems.

Mr Hubbert’s own forecasts of where global oil output would be at the turn of the millenium were wildly inaccurate.

Peak no evil

Applying this globally, however, is fraught with problems.

Mr Hubbert originally modelled global oil output peaking at 34m barrels per day in 2000 - less than half the actual figure.

By the by, did anyone check what the US dollar did today, while oil hit $100? Did it tank enough for that to be the explanation?

Richard Nehring and M. King Hubbert co-authored World petroleum availability 1980-2000 (WARNING! PDF!)

Nehring and Hubbert made high and low predictions in this document, on behalf of the Office of Technology Assessment for the US Government. Please note that EXXON and BP also made predictions which were included in the appendix. Also note that Hubbert accurately predicted US production from 1980 to 2000 using his model. It's a long document but it rather makes mincemeat of the nonsense in the Financial Times article. Please note that everyone, including Hubbert, BP, and EXXON were wrong about year 2000 production but not by much.

I suspect that the Financial Times is pulling out one of Hubbert's oldest predictions, which he constantly revised as better data became available (just as the oil companies themselves revise their own predictions as data changes). The Financial Times article smacks of FUD, of a corporate hatchet job. The Financial Times article is evidence of why civilization is trying to commit suicide rather than face reality.

I suspect that the Financial Times is pulling out one of Hubbert's oldest predictions...

Well, 1956 would be the oldest, I don't think he said anything about world production before that.

He may have been wrong about absolute numbers?!

Still, Feb 2006, predicted 50 years before, is as good as I need to see it.

The 3 most important numbers involving oil IMO are (in order):
1. The price of gasoline
2. The volume of Net Oil Exports
3. World Oil production levels

I wish that NOE number was known/more widely reported. Any one know what it is, or a chart of it?

Gasoline in the USA is $3.05 average. And it is January. Do you realize what this portends? In 2006 and 2007 there were huge price increases between Feb and May. It is 4 months until May. Start slipping into conversations with people that Gas is going to be $4/gal by May. I mean, how much demand destruction for gas can there possibly be between now and then??!? Hardly any unless Oil goes crazy. And that would make gas skyrocket anyway!!!! Then come May, when gas is $4 (and it's gonna be, or close to it!!) you can remind them you saw this coming, and maybe they might want to know what else you know.

I would enjoy seeing more polls with regular updates on this site. In this case, a poll predicting the US average Gasoline price on May 1 2008, to the nearest 5c. Following RRs bet was interesting. Something like what I am suggesting would reveal who the people on TOD are who have the best grasp of the trends and where we are heading. Other prediction polls could include price of Oil on certain day, average price per quarter, production levels, interest rates, political assassinations, how long till Putin says 'communism', next person to say something stupid about stones and oil, will the rapture happen this year, first major company/bank to go kerfut this year etc etc

By the graph, it goes up .90 to $1.00 from the low. That puts prices this year(if it reflects the trend) at $3.70 to $3.85ish this year.

I think this year wont be a repeat of the last 2 years trend. I think it will create its own new one. A history defining one. Its gonna be a repeat of the bad aspects from last year but worse and possibly extra ones.

Wanna bet $1000 that there won't be any major hurricanes hitting the south coast again, like there weren't in 2006 & 2007? And confident that gasoline will build to a high enough level by early Feb (when it reaches it max inventory for the year) to avoid breaching the MOL in the summer and creating way more local shortages than last year are you? And sure imports of gasoline will be high enough too hmmm? And there wont be nationwide panic buying at any point, because the whole gasoline supply system is rock solid? And there won't be lots and lots of refinery problems once again this year. And terrorists......well they have given up haven't they?

Me I am sure at least one if not 2 or 3 bad things are gonna happen this year sending the price of gas onto the front pages of the MSM day after day. And that first day could be coming way sooner than anyone seems to realize.

Peak Oil awareness made me become car free in mid 2005, but I live in a city where that is possible.

The Peak Oil Theories post at top has these well-worn ideas:

Modelling the mature US oil industry – with its huge sample size of more than half a million producing wells and many more inactive ones – is comparatively easy. In contrast, Saudi Arabia has only 2,000 producing wells and large unexplored areas.

To wit: there is a direct relationship between the number of wells and how untapped (or unexplored) an oil producer is.

In reality, SA has so few wells because 1) the ones they have produce so darn much, and 2) their number is controlled by a large behemouth.

As far as SA being unexplored, the Nov. 2007 volume of Geophysical Prospecting (I'm sure all TODers get home delivery) has an article by Saudi Aramco geophysicists which starts out:

Detailed knowledge and modelling of the near-surface geology
in Saudi Arabia was not such a critical exploration requirement
in the past because prospective geological structures in
time tended to be much larger than the near-surface static variation.
Today, the majority of the prospects involve low timerelief

The article deals with challenges with getting good seismic data from deeper and smaller (euphemism of the day: "low timerelief") targets. The take-home message from this and other papers on this subject is that 1) As far as big oil finds go, SA is not unexplored, and 2) what is left is smaller things which are harder to find. Could there be a lot of oil in small amounts way down deep? Perhaps, but similar to the case in North America, big bureaucratic oil companies have difficulties dealing with a lot of small projects as opposed to a couple of big ones. Hence Oilmanbob and Westexas.

Interesting to just watch Matt Simmons on Bloomberg TV along with some other analysts. Prominently in the background sat his book "Twilight in the Desert" - you could hardly miss it. They danced around using the PO words but finally he came straight out with the words "Peak Oil" at the end of the interview. None of the other analysts were given a chance to agree or refute it as they ran out of time...

re Dude
I keep seeing that graph about oil discoveries and consumption, minus the latest spike. One query is that it seems that in the past discoveries minus consumtion were bigger consumption minus discoveries after the lines crossed. So we should be all right for a few years.

Hello TODers,

Merely anecdotal, or 'Back to the Stone Age' as the Thermo/Gene Collision gains blowback intensity?:

Violent clash at Nepal-India border, SPA silent

Reportedly, men in hundreds affiliated to some political parties in India have intruded upon Nepali territory and hoisted Indian flags and chanted anti-Nepal slogans.

...the Indians started pelting stones at the Nepali citizens who had arrived at the scene to accost the intruders. “Some were injured seriously while confronting the Indian intruders. That obviously was enough for the Nepalese to lose their patience; they too resorted to pelting stones and the two way attack on each other continued for over fifteen minutes”.
Reminds me of the classic scene in '2001: A Space Odyssey' where the new exosomatic primates, armed with long bones, beat to death an opposing tribe member at the mutual watering puddle. HAVE WE MADE ANY REAL PROGRESS SINCE THEN?

Also, don't forget my recent post where Zimbabweans were stoning elephants for the meat--Higher ERoEI than digging for mice!

Sri Lanka Government Ends Cease-fire with Rebels
Remember my long ago posting of the fighting starting over a small water sluicegate? Machete' moshpits anyone? How many other Kenyas and Rwandas will we see this year?

Leanan, perhaps a new Olduvai Gorge google search:

621 hits

As posted before: Recall that yeast don't choose sides--perhaps this non-violence proves that they are smarter than us.

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

Saudi Arabia is known as the swing producer of oil. I nominate as its contrapositive the US of A to be called the Swing Consumer. If it ever could engage in a concerted effort, it could single handedly set the price of oil. After all, its per capita consumption is roughly twice that of Europe so there is a tremendous slack in the system which involves approximately 1/4th of the World's supply of oil.

Validity of $100 oil questioned:

(Would have touched off an interesting debate here if it had occurred on Dec 31)


Independent trader claims $100 oil record

With a single small deal, an independent trader on Wednesday secured his place in market history by pushing oil prices briefly to the unprecedented level of $100 a barrel.

Some observers questioned the validity of the price mark when it emerged that the peak was the result of a trader – one of the “locals” who trade on their own money – buying from a colleague just 1,000 barrels of crude, the minimum allowed, industry insiders said. The deal on the floor of the New York Mercantile Exchange was at a hefty premium to prevailing prices.

Insiders named the trader as Richard Arens, who runs a brokerage called ABS. He was not available for comment. Analysts said he may have been testing the ceiling of the crude price, but the premium he paid surprised the market.

Before the $100-a-barrel trade, oil prices on Globex were at $99.53 a barrel. Immediately after the trade, prices went down to about $99.40, suggesting a trading loss of $600 for Mr Arens.

Stephen Schork, a former Nymex floor trader and editor of the oil-market Schork Report, commented: “A local trader just spent about $600 in a trading loss to buy the right to tell his grandchildren he was the one who did it. Probably he is framing right now the print reflecting the trade.”

The transaction was not shown at first on the electronic Globex system, which carries the bulk of crude oil trading, leaving the market unsure about the price level. But Nymex said: “It is considered a valid trade.

A personal note to SacredCowTipper:

Hey, man. Caucus like there's no tomorrow!

No caucus for me, yo ... but I wasn't slackin'.

President of largest realty company in the area: "What can I do to help you? Do you need introductions?"

President of consulting company: "You did ... that ... last weekend? (looking at StrandedWind.org) He can't decide if he is delighted with my energy level and he should give me stuff to do, or if I'll run off to do wind stuff.

College program director guy: "Fill out the application and send it to me. I'll hand carry it through the system." Nothing done here yet, but seems quite promising. Then later I get an invite from him to speak to a group of farmers about wind energy projects :-)

Somewhat skeptical attorney: "You know, I bet we (note use of plural possessive) *could* get an LLC together to do this ..."

Having worn out my conversational mojo for the day I ran like a bunny for Omaha, as the man waved a $1,000 bill under my nose and pointed at some very naughty Cisco routers that needed a spanking.

Tomorrow? More bondage & discipline for devices running IOS, then I go lounge on the blue couch, talk to my most reliable money guy, and we resume our ongoing Pinky & Brain confab, shifting the focus from telecom to renewable energy.

I know growth is dead and we're collapsing, but it seems to be collapsing my way, at least for the moment. I am gonna scoop that first shovel full of dirt for a very large wind farm/ammonia plant, and then had over the keys to someone with an operations background so I can go build something else.

And I owe it all to you guys for the last six months of schooling in these matters ...

LOL, I just hate it when routers are naughty and keep me from seeing the other naughty stuff I really wanted to see.

These had some curious delusions regarding the nature of type 1 vs type 2 external routes in OSPF and unworkable asymmetry developed when an upstream provider acquire new BGP peers.

So far as I can tell, no "rude bits" were interrupted, but it is an odd and frustrating thing for users in half a company to lose access to their very own CRM machine (colocated upstream) due to aggregate vs. detail policies in a carrier a couple of hops away from them.

I just lurve this particular network - hand raised it from a little two location pup and now it bites anyone with the letters "CCIE" after their name :-)

Once many years ago when I was a young engineer fresh out of school, I did lots of programming. I began to see the world as if things were like the computers and programs, i.e., easy to change. It turned out that the real world (that is, outside the computer and electronic sector) moved very much slower and it was much harder to make changes.

In short, don't get your hopes up. If you really want to make your dream happen, you probably aren't going to be able to just throw out a concept and let it bloom while you move on to your next wild idea. It's going to take all your time and effort to keep the ball rolling just to get it built, then you will also need to keep on working just to maintain it. I think that lack of understanding was a contributing factor in the DOTCOM bust where the promoters were selling get rich quick ideas that had no substance.

E. Swanson

No doubt the Massuchusetts coal gasification plant will be pushing the line 'capture ready', which will be forgotten when the basic plant is built. I'm noticing a trend towards bait and switch or foot-in-the-door techniques by pro-coal politicians.

Another gambit by pro-coal politicians in Australia is approving desalination plants with no promise on the power source which could be wind, solar or by golly maybe even fossil fuels. You know they meant coal all along.

You know they meant coal all along.

Damn right they did. The former Liberal Government has been rightly castigated for its lack of environmental credentials, but when it comes to power generation, Labor is no better. It's coal coal coal and a few million for 'Solar Cities'. They have upped the subsidy for rooftop Solar PV to $8000 (from $4000), but that's less use than spending a few billion on a CSP plant or two west of the GDR.

Compare the handouts to Fossil Fuel companies V truly Clean Energy initiatives: http://www.alp.org.au/policy/index.php#climate_change_&_environment and http://www.alp.org.au/policy/index.php#resources_&_energy

Clean Coal Conmen, the lot of them.

Bhutto - Was there a sniper second gunman?

Reports from a hospital in Rawalpindi state that Benazir Bhutto was killed by a bullet in the back of the neck that damaged her spinal cord and exited from the side of her head. Another bullet hit the back of her shoulder and travelled through her chest.


It was initially reported a rooftop sniper fired bullets at her car before a second assailant blew himself up about 50 metres down the road


Video shows suspected gunman on the left side of the car, but the scarf moves forward and to the left, meaning she was shot from the right rear. Was there a sniper as a second gunman and the explosives intended to destroy the evidence?


Pakistan is murky enough I don't think it matters who killed her. That event is an "anything string" - means something different to each group involved over there, and it will serve as a sort of seed crystal for trouble that had been brewing.