DrumBeat: January 9, 2008

Peak oil confusion

Google news searches often turn up editorials, opinion pieces and analysis written by people who don't buy into this "peak oil" theory. Most of these writers don't understand what "peak oil" means.

Preparing for ASPO-USA's Houston conference held last October, the author wrote an Introduction to Peak Oil that was included in the press packet for the gathering. Those new to the issue may want to read this background material. Let's analyze a recent editorial, "Peak No Evil" from the Financial Times, to identity some of the confusions it contains.

Oil would be hit by economy slowdown - OPEC President

Oil demand and crude prices would be affected by any world economic slowdown, and OPEC is closely following the U.S. economic crisis to see if it will spread, OPEC President Chakib Khelil was quoted as saying by Algeria's official APS news agency.

"We are following with interest the evolution of this crisis which could, if it comes to affect Europe and thd rest of the world, bring about a decline in the development of the world economy," Khelil was quoted as saying on Wednesday.

Nigeria Militants Say Major Attack Is `Imminent'

The Nigerian militant group known as the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, or MEND, said it's planning a major attack against the oil industry.

"An attack is imminent that will rock the foundation of the international oil market," MEND spokesman Jomo Gbomo said in an e-mail to Bloomberg. A "smoke screen" is being devised to divert attention away from the actual target, he said.

Rebel Group: Attacks On Nigeria Oil Delayed For Now

Rebels in Nigeria who planned a major and imminent attack on oil facilities appear to have delayed it, emails from a spokesman indicate, though he warned future attempts to disrupt oil supply would halt the country's crucial oil exports.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta can "confirm there was a major attack planned for a major oil facility in Rivers state," the group's self-declared spokesman, Jomo Gbomo, said in an email to Dow Jones Newswires.

... "It is not possible to disclose the precise facility we had planned to target, but I can confirm that had that attack taken place, the world oil market will be in disarray."

Later, he added: "It only takes a day to destroy what took 20 years to build. Our attacks in 2008 (are) meant to halt oil exports. All the oil majors are our target and the timeline will be at our choosing when the window of opportunity presents itself."

Hunter-gatherers: Noble or savage?

We have been creating ecological crises for ourselves and our habitats for tens of thousands of years. We have been solving them, too. Pessimists will point out that each solution only brings us face to face with the next crisis, optimists that no crisis has proved insoluble yet. Just as we rebounded from the extinction of the megafauna and became even more numerous by eating first rabbits then grass seeds, so in the early 20th century we faced starvation for lack of fertiliser when the population was a billion people, but can now look forward with confidence to feeding 10 billion on less land using synthetic nitrogen, genetically high-yield crops and tractors. When we eventually reverse the build-up in carbon dioxide, there will be another issue waiting for us.

Insight: Emerging markets must correct imbalances

Recent US interest rate cuts have helped create a liquidity boom in emerging markets (EM), fuelling demand for raw materials and boosting stock markets. In turn, robust demand and a global oil supply contraction in the third quarter of 2007 recently pushed crude oil briefly above $100 a barrel. Meanwhile, the US dollar is close to record lows, both against the euro and on a broad basis. More interestingly, the long-term correlation between oil and the dollar has moved from a historical average of -1 per cent to -80 per cent of late.

How are the spike in oil prices and the slide in the dollar related?

Gunmen attack ships near Nigerian oil/gas complex

Unknown gunmen attacked four oil service ships on the channel leading to Nigeria's largest oil and gas export complex on Bonny Island on Wednesday, oil company security sources said.

Two people were injured, but none of the vessels were boarded, the sources said. Bonny Island is the export point for about 400,000 barrels per day of crude oil and 18 million tonnes per year of liquefied natural gas.

Exxon begins production from massive Angolan project

Exxon Mobil Corp. said today it has begun oil production from a multibillion-dollar project off the west African coast. The company plans to drill more wells there than any of its other offshore sites.

The world's largest publicly traded oil company is the operator and 40 percent equity stakeholder in the Kizomba C development, located in about 2,400 feet of water roughly 90 miles off the coast of Angola.

Fighting Inflation, China Freezes Energy Prices

BEIJING — Prime Minister Wen Jiabao responded Wednesday to growing public anxiety about inflation by announcing that China would freeze energy prices in the near term, even as international crude oil futures have continued to surge.

...Prices of oil products, natural gas and electricity will be frozen in the near term. Rates for public water bills will also be frozen, as will the price of public transportation tickets.

The edict also called for stabilizing prices on medical services and for certain agricultural fertilizers. It ordered local governments to monitor prices closely and warned that punishments would be strengthened for those who violate government price-control policies.

Iran Minister Expects Oil Price `Well Beyond' $100, IRNA Says

Iranian Oil Minister Gholamhossein Nozari said he expects oil prices to go "well beyond" $100 a barrel, the state-run news service IRNA reported.

The oil market is well supplied, Nozari said in Tehran today, blaming fluctuating prices on the depreciation of the U.S. dollar, speculators and "climatic conditions," IRNA reported.

Russia's Gazprom says increases gas supplies to Greece, Turkey

Russia's Gazprom has increased natural gas supplies to Greece and Turkey to above previously-contracted levels, the state-controlled monopoly said in a statement.

"In December 2007, Gazprom increased gas supplies to Turkey from 30 to 38 million cubic metres per day" following a request from Turkey's Botas, the statement said.

China: Slipping On High Oil Prices

China’s economic minders have always prided themselves on the fact that despite the country’s insatiable appetite for energy its booming economy has remained largely insulated from fluctuating international oil prices.

But when prices hit 100 US dollars per barrel in early January, the unease among officials and pundits was palpable.

"China is vulnerable precisely because it has never experienced an oil crisis," says Zuo Xiaolei, chief economist with Yinhe Securities. "Our energy contingency planning is only in its initial stages and sharp increases in oil prices are bound to have a big impact on the country."

Russia's Surging Economy

Despite growing prices for natural resources and raw materials, Russia's positive trade balance has shrunk, because imports are increasing faster than exports--which may be a dangerous trend, and likely to continue in this year. It seems that Russia is incapable of substantially increasing the production, and consequently, the volume, of exports of natural resources. The solution to the shortage is the rising price of oil and gas.

Oil 'supermajors' ten years on

Only ten years after "supermajor" entered the oil industry's lexicon, the term is already showing its age.

At the start of this decade, once the industry's mega-mergers were completed, the combined market capitalisation of Exxon (NYSE:XOM)Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell and BP was around $700bn - nearly two-thirds of the global sector's total. These days, the supermajors represent just 23 per cent. BP and Shell have been surpassed by Gazprom and PetroChina (NYSE:PTR) (floated in 2000) in a decade of tightening oil supplies and resurgent resource nationalism. One data point missed during the emergence of the supermajors between 1998 and 2000 was that they held less than 3 per cent of global proved oil and gas reserves. Meanwhile, the size gap with other western majors such as Total and Chevron has closed significantly.

BP to suffer massive tax hit after stockpiling

BP has been pointing out the possibility of a higher tax bill, sparking downward revisions in analysts’ earning estimates and a slide in its share price.

The company told analysts it would take a tax hit on stockpiles of oil that have been built up in response to soaring prices. The disclosure prompted Merrill Lynch to slash its earnings estimate for the group by 25 per cent from £5.9 billion to £4.4 billion for the fourth quarter, after it raised its tax estimate to 43 per cent from 36 per cent.

Venezuela's PDVSA reduces payment period for oil, derivatives to 8 days vs 30

State-owned oil company PDVSA said it is reducing the time period for paying for oil products and derivates to 8 days from 30 days at present mainly due to the continuing devaluation of the US dollar.

Mauritania tightens oil security after attacks

Mauritania will tighten security around its fledgling oil industry following recent attacks by suspected al Qaeda militants on French tourists and government soldiers, its oil minister said on Wednesday.

The Islamic Republic, which straddles black and Arab West Africa, is one of the world's newest oil exploration frontiers although output which started from its offshore Chinguetti field almost two years ago has since been disappointing.

Kashagan meeting slips to Jan 13 or later - source

A key meeting between the Kazakh authorities and heads of international oil majors developing the Kashagan oil field is postponed until January 13 or later, a source familiar with the situation said on Wednesday.

UK: Homeowners panic buy heating oil in wake of world oil prices

Home owners throughout Fermanagh were panic buying home heating oil last week in a kneejerk response to the price of oil on the UK markets hitting $100 a barrel (159 litres/35 gallons) for the first time and, a 'first' was recorded at the Fuels and Lubricants depot outside Enniskillen when a 900 litre order was priced at £400, cash down.

Pakistan: Lasting power outages shut steel, textile mills

Pakistan's textile and steel factories remained closed for the second week, jeopardizing production and export targets after nationwide riots disrupted oil supplies and led to a power shortage.

..."The textile industry is losing millions of dollars due to the power shortage," Iqbal Ebrahim, chair of the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association said from Karachi. "We hope the government finds some way out of this crisis."

Eskom’s black presence

People in South Africa may understand fully the inconvenience of having a six-hour power cut (in the case of Cape Town several days in mid-winter) more than many other nations out there might understand, experience and tolerate.

How can it be that a nation’s power utility was not fully prepared and anticipated the growth in demand, given the prosperous outlook of nationals and government alike, let’s say about 10 years ago?

Pakistan: PM urges nation to curb use of vehicles

In a bid to improve the energy supply situation, Prime Minister Mohammedmian Soomro on Tuesday appealed to the nation to reduce use of vehicles and save energy.

Uganda: Fuel Stock to Last Five Days

At about 9:00am, motorists converged at the filling station on learning that a truck had arrived with 11,000 litres of fuel.

However, they were disappointed that the price of petrol had increased from sh2,490, prompting the deputy resident district commissioner (RDC), Milton Odong, to order the Police to stop Delta from overcharging motorists.

But the RDC, Col. Walter Ochora, cleared Delta to sell fuel at sh6,000.

"This is a free economy. There is no way the Government is going to fix prices for people in private enterprise."

BG May Pipe Gaza Gas Via Egypt As Israel Talks Fail

BG Group is to consider again an option to sell its Gaza natural gas through Egypt, after a collapse of talks to commercialize it in Israel, a person familiar with the situation said Tuesday.

Last month, BG said it had reached an impasse in talks with Israel to pipe gas from its Gaza fields to Israel as the two parties disagreed on a range of issues including price.

BP restarts Texas City ultracracker this week-filing

BP will restart an ultracracker unit at its 417,000 barrel-per-day refinery in Texas City, Texas this week, the company said in a filing with state regulators.

Valero's Aruba refinery shuts after power outage

A power outage on Tuesday afternoon shut all units at Valero's 275,000 barrel per day refinery in Aruba, a company spokesman said in Wednesday.

"All units are off line," said Bill Day, a spokesman for the refiner, adding it takes several days to implement the restart process.

Richard Heinberg on The Reality Report (audio)

The program begins with a review of the connections between energy and society, drawing from the work of cultural anthropologist Marvin Harris. A discussion of relationship between climate change and fossil fuel depletion ensues. The program concludes by offering some perspective on how to cope psychologically with difficult information.

Are the suburbs a health hazard?

"The suburbs are a nightmare — a total planning disaster. People move in because they're affordable, and then they can't do anything. They're in the car all the time. You get this big house, but studies show that the rate of heart attack increases with the length of time you are stuck in traffic."

FACTBOX - New Nuclear Power Plants

Following are key facts about nuclear power reactors in Europe and around the world and plans for new plants to be constructed.

Green energy's hottest stocks for 2008

Investing experts say to stay away from solar, which saw a huge run up in 2007, and instead focus on wind, energy efficiency specialists or the battered biofuels sector.

Who could get sued for global warming

It's not who you think. One report identifies a toymaker and cruise operator among firms most at risk for not telling shareholders enough.

Brazil registers over 2 mln biofuel cars in 2007, 85.6% of cars sold

Brazil registered 2.0 mln biofuel cars in 2007, representing 85.6 pct of the cars sold on the Brazilian market last year, the Association of Automobile Manufacturers (Anfavea) said.

Brazil now has a total of 4.6 mln biofuel cars, which run on either petrol or on ethanol made from sugarcane, Anfavea said. These cars were launched on the local market in 2003.

UK authority pulls ads about Malaysian palm oil after environmentalists complain

Britain's advertising watchdog on Wednesday ordered British television to stop airing two commercials suggesting palm oil production in Malaysia is good for the environment, calling them misleading.

The independent Advertising Standards Authority accepted complaints by environmentalists that the net impact of using palm oil as a biofuel is still unproven, and that the Malaysia Palm Oil Council's commercials could mislead viewers to think palm oil plantations are as environmentally friendly as natural rain forests.

Renewables Supply 14% of German Power - Industry

Renewable energy made up more than 14 percent of Germany's power consumption in 2007, up from almost 12 percent in 2006, with wind as the main contributor, the German Renewable Energy Federation (BEE) said on Tuesday.

Carbon credits come with a cost

It's a new year, and with it comes new responsibilities. In August of 2008, the Western Climate Initiative will require B.C. businesses to begin reducing their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 33 per cent below 2005 levels. If these greenhouse gases can't be reduced, companies will be required to offset their pollution via a new form of environmental currency, the carbon credit.

China to ban plastic bags

China has issued a ban on the production of ultra-thin plastic bags and their free distribution by supermarkets and shops effective from June. Too many plastic bags are used in China, which are not disposed of properly, wasting oil and littering the country, according to China's cabinet, the State Council.

Will I Die In A Food Riot?

To create space colonies would likely be a financial boondoggle and a giant cost if the federal government was financing it. But, there is a different large space system, Solar Power Satellites, that would collect energy, redirect it to earth, and which could break even and yield a return on investment. It would therefore be economically viable.

OPEC's Ability to Tame Oil Prices Is Limited

OPEC's ability to tame oil prices that hit a record high above $100 a barrel last week is curbed by limited unused production capacity, officials from the exporter group and analysts say.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries says it holds around 3 million barrels per day of production in reserve. Since many members have expressed unease with record prices, that begs the question: why are they not raising output?

Planet Earth 2007: Top 10 Science Revelations

#10: Impending Oil Peak

With the price of oil climbing and the world's heavy dependency on this fossil fuel, estimates of just how much oil we have left are critical knowledge for governments and policy makers. A new study this year predicted that global oil production could peak as soon as 2008, and would likely do so before 2018. After this peak, production would decline, causing potential supply problems, though experts disagree on just how much oil might be left in the Earth.

China set for 400,000-bpd oil refinery output rise

China's top oil refineries and major new plants will supply an additional 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) of fuel to the world's second-biggest consumer this year, more than double last year's rise, a Reuters survey found.

While that growth is nearly equal to the forecast increase in demand, China may be forced to continue importing extra supplies right up until the Olympics this summer as several key facilities will be commissioned only in the latter half of the year.

UK: Preparing for world oil crisis in Seaton

A new community group in Seaton is hoping to prepare the town against future oil shortages.

Sustainable Seaton has been set up to raise awareness of the effects that climate change and decreasing oil supplies will have on the town.

Us and the Earth: a Faustian bargain

Thomas Homer-Dixon recently advised Globe and Mail readers how to use technology to tame the rising oceans. A man named Faust had a similar idea in 1832. The real Faust was a shadowy figure. The Faust we know, who has entered Western myth, was created by German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

Tough to pump more oil, even at $100

Oil at $100 a barrel should give exporters every incentive to pump more, but their difficulty in doing so shows the world is struggling to sustain production.

A growing number of leading industry figures -- the CEOs of Total and ConocoPhillips among them -- now question mainstream forecasts for supply, suggesting the era of "plateau oil" is nearer than many in the business have admitted.

Biofuels and banquets put pressure on stocks of palm oil

The Malaysian Government has been forced to release emergency stocks of palm oil to break a wave of panic-buying after cooking oil prices soared.

The crisis has prompted palm oil rationing in a country that is one of the world’s largest producers of the commodity and the rush to buy it coincides with growing fears of cooking oil shortages before the banquets and general rise in the consumption of fried food over Chinese new year.

Transport emissions study 'misleading' say experts

Experts are calling "misleading" a study which suggests that emissions from the shipping industry cool the world and will continue to do so for centuries. The study was published in a leading scientific journal on Monday.

$2,500 cars = $200 oil?

"This is going to really shoot demand to levels we have not seen before," said Michael Economides, an oil expert at the University of Houston and a former adviser to several state-owned oil companies. "That's going to open up segments of the population that weren't accessible."

In China, for example, demand for oil surged in recent years as more people moved to urban areas, their incomes rose, and they bought cars. Now, 1,000 new cars take to the streets of Beijing daily, Economides said.

Paul Roberts: Over a barrel

Speculation and high demand for oil have given us the $100 barrel. So will a recession drive the price down? Not necessarily.

World Bank: Developing economies to cushion US slowdown in 2008

Continued robust expansion in developing countries will help offset a slowdown in the United States this year amid concerns of a possible recession in the world's largest economy and oil prices will gradually decline, the World Bank said Wednesday.

Statoil forecasts energy production gain

Norway's state-controlled oil company StatoilHydro ASA on Wednesday said it expects oil and natural gas production to increase 16 percent by 2012 after declining in recent years.

Norwegian oil output falls to 2.209 mln barrels a day in December

The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate said on Wednesday that Norway's oil output in December dropped to a preliminary 2.209 mln barrels per day on average compared with 2.212 mln in November.

... It gave no reasons for the decline in the December number.

The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate in December said that crude oil production on the Norwegian Continental Shelf is declining more rapidly than the oil companies had previously expected, adding that something needs to be done.

Nigerian oil refineries to restart after 2 years

A pipeline carrying crude oil to two Nigerian refineries has been fixed two years after it was blown up by militants and the plants will restart by the end of January, a state oil company official said on Wednesday.

The resumption of the Warri and Kaduna refineries, with a combined capacity of 235,000 barrels per day, should reduce Nigeria's $4 billion annual fuel import bill dramatically and cut crude oil exports by about 200,000 barrels per day.

Shell in gas field talks with Iraq

The Iraqi government has asked Royal Dutch Shell to conduct tests on a gas field close to the Syrian border, which could lead to the oil major taking a stake in the field, a Shell spokesman said on Wednesday.

Refinery foes push to delay meetings

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - Union County officials say two planned meetings in the case of a proposed oil refinery near Elk Point will be held as scheduled.

But refinery opponents say they might ask a judge to delay the meetings -- saying county officials did not properly notify the public.

BP forecasts slashed after company briefings

Two major investment banks have cut BP profit expectations by as much as 26% after the company gave them pre-results guidance.

Russia's oil fund rakes it in

Russia's oil fund - the budget stabilisation fund - hit $156.81 billion on 1 January, up from $150.86 billion on 15 December, the Finance Ministry said today.

The fund was created in 2004 to cushion the budget from a fall in international oil prices. The fund collects mineral extraction and export duties when the price of oil exceeds $27 per barrel.

Incurable dengue disease could spread in US: researchers

Incurable, mosquito-borne dengue disease could spread from subtropical areas into the United States through global warming, requiring greater efforts to combat it, health authorities said Tuesday.

UN climate chief to visit Antarctica

The next report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change should deal with the "frightening" possibility that both Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets start melting at the same time, the chief U.N. climate scientist said Tuesday.

Re: Economides & $200 Oil

Michael Economides is, to put it mildly, a little bit of an odd duck. His views on Peak Oil do not differ materially from Michael Lynch (I have now debated both of them regarding Peak Oil).

However, Economides' views on oil prices do not differ materially from Simmons' views. Go figure.

Economides is unique among those engaged in the Peak Oil debate in that he did date Julia Roberts. . . whereas I only have the theoretical capacity to date Julia Roberts.

Mike was not particularily well thought of in Palo Alto.

A lot of his history in my opinion, involves organizing the work of others without much creative thought. I don't know if the guy has ever really made a drop of oil... those who can do and those who can't teach you know.

His wife Christine was the brains at that time. Julia Roberts may actually be more his speed intellectually, although definitely not appearance wise.



When I debated Economides at Texas A&M, he asserted that Saudi oil production was up in 2007, versus 2005 (in contrast to my position stating the opposite). He produced an EIA slide showing Saudi production up. I said I didn't know where the slide came from, but the data tables showed production down relative to 2005. He said it was up. I offered to bet him $1000. He said fine. I said, to make it crystal clear, if I can produce an EIA data table showing that Saudi production is lower in 2007 than in 2005, you will pay me $1,000? He then said that he was talking about "productive capacity" (which is what the slide showed). I then explained to the audience what productive capacity is. I said that I had the theoretical capacity to date Julia Roberts, but how realistic is that expectation? To which Economides replied, "I dated Julia Roberts." (Followed by general laughter). I have so far been unsuccessful in trying to get a copy of the video of the debate.

I have met Christine, and I can say with a certain degree of confidence that Michael and I are, in regard to our lovely brides, both very lucky men.

BTW, if you haven't seen our Net Exports paper, it's up on the EB and on Graphoilogy.

THere is no question that he has all the characteristics of a first rate politician, that is, being able to justify any position if it is momentarily advantageous.

whereas I only have the theoretical capacity to date Julia Roberts.

You do even have the theoretical capacity with your lovely & charming but not THAT tolerant wife !

Best Hopes for Good Marriages,


Hey WT,

I'm looking for the clip where you talk about PO on a local, PBS style talk show with some oil industry talking heads sitting next to you. Do you know where its at? I know its over a year old and I cant find it on Youtube...


Click on Watch The Programs, on the left hand side, and scroll down to Program #1519, 9/17/06

It was yours truly versus ExxonMobil, Michael Lynch (via phone), a consultant chosen by Saudi Aramco and an independent oil operator.

I don't seem to be getting parent subthreading (indenting) in Firefox (v2.0.0.11) during the last few days, but it is working OK in IE.
Is anyone else getting that problem? This is happening on more than on of my PC's, so it's not just a local install problem.

Did you try the things suggested here?

If you did, and they didn't work, e-mail SuperG at the tech support address.

Shift-refresh did the trick. I happy to do that when required. But . . . . something must have changed, because this was never needed in the past.

Obviously something changed, or SuperG wouldn't have posted that message. :-)

It should be a one-time deal. Until SuperG makes other changes. He's working on some cool stuff. Like being able to collapse threads.

As if collapsing civilization isn't good enough!

I thought that when the threads got complex enough, they would collapse on their own.

Speak of the

I'm constantly copying text from here to use in TTS software; all of a sudden next to the [new] tags I'm seeing [-] as well - yet it's not visible on screen. Assume this is an indication of coming collapse - very soon I'd imagine!

Yawn. Record high temperatures set in the Washington DC area yesterday. Nothing to see here, move along, keep shopping.

Records Fall

The new record highs for today...

National: 73 (breaks the old record of 69 set in 1998)
Dulles: 70 (breaks the old record of 69 set in 1998)
BWI: 70 (breaks the old record of 67 set in 1998)

Another day, another batch of record highs.

Daily high and low records from the U.S. HCN:

For 8 January 2008, as of 10 AM EST:

Number of Record Highest Maximum = 343
Number of Record Highest Minimum = 390
Number of Record Lowest Maximum = 1
Number of Record Lowest Minimum = 0

No worries, keep moving! Burn more oil!! The economy MUST GROW!!!

E. Swanson

I'm not a 'denier', but consider holding off on comments like that, or at least the snarky parts. (Yawn, Keep shopping) Both sides can and do play that game, and we spend a lot of bandwidth remarking on 'blips on the screen', momentary abberations.. whether it's oil price or local weather events.

Bob Fiske

I'm 51 and I've never seen tornadoes in Arkansas
in January.

And that front stalled in NW ARK.

25 miles west of me.

As tornadic cell after tornadic cell trained like they were
rail cars.

I've never seen anything like it.

Probably mentioned yesterday somewhere, but did you read NOAA's official report on the weather on the 6th and 7th, at least in Wisconsin? This is a direct quote:

Wow, Crazy...


Thanx, I didn't see it.

"in the past 14 years, this office never had a reason to issue a Severe Thunderstorm Warning in the month of January. Crazy."

And whenever I get into fog or even heavy rain, I always
have a bias to the margins (And note the fields beyond 8D).

That front was the slowest moving storm front I can ever remember seeing. It took two full days to cross Illinois.

Further. I have never seen such a vigorous front
then vanish in front of Atlanta.

Someone can correct me here if you so desire.


Maybe if you actually looked at history :)

This is why so many subscribe to global warming they don't ask their elders if this was common or rare or even ever happenend. Not to mention that news was not widespread then.

One thing that list proves. People are by far safer now than then for sure!

If you're addressing me and my tornadoes in January comment,
after looking at your history my remarks still stand.

The closest you get is Mississippi at the end of January.

NW ARK, the second week of January has never seen tornadoes.

400 PM CST FRI JAN 22 1999






But this is not NW Arkansas-;}

So what is so unusual about Jan. tornadoes in Ark? Their was an F4 in St Louise Mo. in Jan 1967, killed three and injured 218. Since 1965 there have been Jan tornadoes in 7 different years.

If Jan. tornadoes are not unusual in Mo. they can certainly occur any where in Ark.


January 24th 1967

There's (was) a huge difference between the first week of January
and the last.

But now, not so much.

So what was the big difference? I don't seem to find it here.

Fayetteville Ark.


Fayetteville is to Lower Arkansas much like what Santa Fe is
to Albuquerque.

Elevation higher and terrain breaks up tornadic cells.

Then Just N of FVille seasonal temps drop markedly.

Especially the first week in January.

All working against tornadoes.

And in this case we didn't have just one but one after the other.

Over the same ground.

Never happened before.

Actually, I grew up in Northern Virginia, near DC, and yes, temperatures 70s in any month is boring. For that matter, so is any temperature in the 60s or 50s. Even the 80s is possible, though I wouldn't bet on it for a couple of winter months.

94° degrees in March, a foot of snow in May - all part of the normal variations. As are blizzards - 3 feet of snow in 40 mph winds in a few hours, for example. Or hurricanes. Or tornadoes. Or thunderstorms - any time of the year, though sometimes with snow, not rain. And yes, that snow could happen in late spring, too.

Please, don't make the mistake which is getting increasingly common among those desperate to maintain the everything is fine, don't panic. Daily weather, even yearly weather, is not climate.

And weather is a lot more variable than many people seem to be able to grasp, though a lot of people did not grow up in Northern Virginia.

I'll notice when the temperature breaks 90° in January, not before.

My observation is that as climate warms, if indeed it is, then weather should become more violent. Not sure I can support that, but it seems true.

50's & 60's may be boring in N. VA in January, but they'd never before happened on this date in Milwaukee. From the link above:

This is spring-time weather - more typical of April. Milwaukee’s temperature reached 63 degrees, smashing the old record of 47 for January 7th set back in 2003.


Climate is defined as the statistics of weather, which includes the variation and extremes. Of course, one day's batch of extremes doesn't "prove" anything, but repeated events such as that yesterday and the day before can be taken as signs that things are indeed changing. There's been serious attempts to quantify the variability in the data and these efforts point to an increase in the warmer extremes and a decrease in the colder ones.

I grew up in Atlanta and the record high temperatures there in January were in the 70's when I last looked thru the records back in the 1980's. If the temperatures in the DC area ever hit 90 in January, which is the coldest month on average, then one might expect 120 in July and August. If the Earth's climate were to warm that much, it would be too late do do anything but move to Greenland, which would probably be turned green by then as well. The coldest period of the last Ice Age, the LGM, was about 5 C below global average temperatures of the last 1000 years.

E. Swanson

Actually moving to Greenland probably wouldn't do you very much good. The reason is that there is presently little soil to grow crops on. Soils form over the hundreds of years and it's entirely possible that we're changing the climate faster than decent soils can form. (Not to mention that Greenland is mostly ice-sheet anyway, so there's not too much land there.)

As some of the discussion above showed, many of the 'records' being claimed aren't really.

This is one of my minor pet peeves about U.S. weather reporting - everything always seems to be a record of something. Which is stupid, when you think about it. Worse, a lot of the 'records' are massaged - when I was last in the U.S., the temperature was over a 100° a few days in a row in late July. A new 'record!' (The massaging in that case came from ignoring all the different places which had had higher temperatures in the past - that is, a new record in Bowie, even if was a couple of degrees hotter around Dulles 20 years ago.) Except a few days in a row over 100° in the summer is not really unusual - uncomfortable yes, but utterly within the boundaries of normal, if not every summer.

Normal, that is, if you live in the area over a couple of decades and pay attention to what is going on outside. But many people don't stay in any area for decades, and even more don't really pay attention.

My point about 90° in January around DC may have been a bit misunderstood - that would be truly unusual, and anything but boring.

Which is why climate change is the right framework - whether this winter is hotter or colder has little to do with climate change in any meaningful sense. That carefully kept gardening records show seasons 'shifting' is something else. Such independent measures of how our environment is changing are pretty much irrefutable, in my eyes. The reason is not as important as the fact that it is happening.

Talking about a hot or cold winter just plays into the hands of those that like to distract attention from what is happening.


The word "Normal" in the context of weather is actually the same as "average". It's part of the statistics, usually an average over a number of years, often 30. You (and others) seem to think that "normal" means a bounded range of temperatures, which is simply not the scientific definition. If one is using a Gaussian (or Normal) distribution, there is a mean value and some descriptive term, such as the Standard Deviation, used to describe the way the data is distributed around the average. When an extreme temperature is reported, if there are enough years in the database, that value might represent 2 or 3 times the standard deviation. Here's a link to Chapter 3 of the IPCC AR4 report which provides a discussion of extremes in section 3.8. There's another general discussion in the Technical Summary as well, see the box on page 53.

Of course, there are all sorts of complications, such as the fact that the sites where the temperature is measured can be changed over time, or that new sites do not have enough data for a valid analysis. The temperature data is probably more accurate than the gardening records, since it is not subjective, IMHO.

E. Swanson

Should we be so lucky that summertime highs stop at 120. IMO positive feedback loops on GW are going to continue surprising on the upside.

I apply the NFL rule. All the old legends of the NFL are full of championship games played in horrible blizzards, impenetrable fog, and minus 5 F temperatures. Back then the championship game was in late December. By the time I was watching games, I'd see the occasional 10 F game, but the conference championships were after New Year's. Now there's playoffs throughout what is supposed to be the coldest month. I was shocked last month by the piles of snow on the sidelines, a distant memory from my childhood.

The building of domed stadiums hasn't changed this much except for the ones in Minnesota and Indianapolis. The snow belt has always had most of the playoff teams. (Remember when it used to get cold in Texas Stadium?)

I live in Houston, where it used to snow about once every two years. I once lived in Nebraska, where we sometimes got snow piled up higher than a man.

And I remember ice skating in PA. Outside.

I'm from northern NJ, and I can remember wearing hats and gloves. :)

I think the anectodal comments on the odd whether are an accurate indication of climate change. In southern Ontario in my area we had a 54 degree F swing in temperature in less than two days (from about 6F to 60F). Crazy!

I lived in Houston from 1958 until 1978. It flurried when I was in kindergarten, about 1964, and snowed 3 times in 1972-73. That's all I remember. Maybe people on the north side saw more. I sure did not see it snow once every two years back in those distant old days.

Perhaps Russia's $6 billion, two-week windfall is simply accumulated profit, but if extrapolated out that would imply some bonanza this year for the two funds. Exxon gets by with $9 billion a quarter.

Can we get a Julia Roberts quotient on this one?


"Today's oil prices are high because there are limited new supplies," Husseini, who ran exploration and production at the Saudi state oil company from 1986-2002, told Reuters. "There's a history now. We're several years into level production."
I think they all read TOD and perhaps most of them are beginning to understand that the technical work published here is the best available at any price.

Why does it take Reuters so long to pick up the "tough to pump more oil" story? IIRC these CEO's had those remarks quite a while back.

They had trouble believing it until now. They're still having trouble believing it.

Just a note on prices dropping again on Friday and then Monday.

And then Tuesday everyone realizes a neg inventory report is coming
out so up Tuesday.

And how about the DJIA this AM.

Pisanti even remarked on it at 9:05AM.

I love the tone of the Forbes article about Nowegian production.

The article states that November, December, and January (so far) production has hovered around 2.2 mln barrels. And adds...

"The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate in December said that crude oil production on the Norwegian Continental Shelf is declining more rapidly than the oil companies had previously expected, adding that something needs to be done."

Something needs to be done? I hope something was lost in translation. Something needs to be done by who? Oil companies or the those who want to somehow will production declines away.

Maybe the declines are temporary, I don't know, maybe they are do to maintenance or bad weather. But it reads like a text book case of denial. Especially when they add the standard tagline...

"Norway is the world's fifth-largest oil exporter and produces about 2.4 mln barrels each day."

Our middle case is that Norway's production declines at -11%/year, with net exports declining at -12%/year (all total liquids), on track for a 50% decline in net exports in six years. BTW, in 2006 the EIA showed Norway as the third largest net exporter.

The overall North Sea (C+C in this case) fits the HL model quite closely, peaking right at the 50% mark, much like the Lower 48.



Bloomberg.com: Latin America
Since it peaked at 3.38 million barrels per day in 2004, Pemex's oil ... at Cantarell fell 23 percent from a year earlier to 1.28 million barrels a day, ...

Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending January 4, 2007

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged nearly 15.8 million barrels per day during the week ending January 4, up 389,000 barrels per day from the previous week's average. Refineries operated at 91.3 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production moved higher compared to the previous week, averaging 9.1 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production rose last week, averaging nearly 4.5 million barrels per day.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged 9.8 million barrels per day last week, down 203,000 barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged nearly 9.7 million barrels per day, or 60,000 barrels per day more than averaged over the same four-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged 1.0 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 131,000 barrels per day last week.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) dropped by 6.8 million barrels compared to the previous week. At 282.8 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are in the lower half of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories increased by 5.3 million barrels last week, and are in the upper half of the average range. Both finished gasoline inventories and gasoline blending components inventories increased last week. Distillate fuel inventories increased by 1.5 million barrels, and are in the lower half of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories decreased by 3.2 million barrels last week. Total commercial petroleum inventories decreased by 8.1 million barrels last week, and are in the bottom half of the average range for this time of year.

After the previous drops, I think this deserves an "Oh My God".

Sure looks like faltering demand in the "Western consumernations" coupled with increased output from OPEC have once again restored balance.

And here's what they were expecting:

Analysts surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires predict crude inventories likely fell 800,000 barrels last week, while supplies of distillates, which include heating oil, likely fell 300,000 barrels.

Much bigger drop than expected, though gasoline and distillates went up.

CNN's take: Oil prices rebound after bigger-than-expected drop in crude inventories.

Funny, prices are still showing as being down $0.47 for the day.

I've always had a vague awareness of the the price of oil per barrel, but this is the first year where I've actively paid attention to that and the inventories. With that limited experience, the reaction of the commodity exchanges to news like this continues to confuse me. When the analysts are off by 800% in regards to a drop in inventories, I would think that prices should go up, not down.

There's usually a half-hour delay in those price quotes.

Though it wouldn't surprise me if the bounce was short-lived.

There's been a bigger bump in price so far today than usual. Oil is closing in on $98/bbl. There seemed to be less speculation about today's report for some reason. Maybe it actually caught people by surprise.

Brent on a tear.Leading WTI.Almost at a prem.Inv at Cushing up.MEND may be ready to rumble in Nigeria(Brent-Bonny).

Wow...don't know whether to YAWN or SCREAM!

Another 1 MMBPD drawdown...starting to look like the OECD last year.

Demand...unchanged at 9.3 MMBPD (for the last few months) - and 0.4% ABOVE 2006 still.

The best view is to look at the stocks table in the report.

EVERYTHING is negative over 2006 except:

Blending components (lots o ethanol) up 9.2% over 2006.
Jet Fuel - 1.5% up
and the SPR (they bought some this year).

Other wise - Crude is down almost 10% (9.8%)
Distillates (diesel/fuel oil) 10.2% down.
Propane - 15% down!!!!!

Can anyone find a Bloomberg consensus? I found a couple of others...here's one:


Analysts' consensus forecast crude reserves would fall by 1.25 million barrels, in an eighth consecutive week of declines. Distillates by contrast were expected to rise, with heating oil up one million barrels and gasoline up 1.6 million.

I know that it was very cold a week ago and that propane normally does draw down over the winter, but still, yikes!

Time to start talking about Minimum Operating Level (MOL) again. My guess is that refiners are loath to buy crude oil at these prices, holding off buying until the last possible second, given the weak crack spread.

In any case, if we assume a MOL of 270 mb, we are down to less than 24 hours of supply in excess of MOL.

I had thought that refined product inventories would decline more than crude oil inventories. Product prices are going to have to go up, to allow refiners to justify bidding for declining oil exports, or they are going to curtail crude oil inputs, dropping product output--forcing product prices higher.

I was thinking the same thing.

MOL for crude has to be getting tight.

But with no crack spread, you are right. They may want to cause a price spike, so they can return to a healthier margin.

Amen. From a Days of Supply point of view it's getting really hard to see how we are going to avoid sky high prices and major shortages as the summer approaches(barring the Greater Depression).

Hope Prof G and company have thought through rapidly scaling up server capacity. Would hate to lose reliable access to this place. :)

Stocks were down to 266 Million Barrels in Jan 04

But as Tom Whipple pointed out, the MOL was probably lower then. Since demand is higher now.

That said, I think we've been at the MOL for awhile now, and it hasn't been a big deal. Relatively higher prices in the midwest. Some shortages in the Dakotas, Iowa, etc., causing farmers consternation but little noticed by anyone else. As long as it's places like Sioux Falls and Bismarck suffering the shortages, it's not news.

I spent some time yesterday chatting with a gasoline tanker driver. He wasn't too tuned in to things, but then he stopped, his face crinkled, and he said "You know, I do have to spend two or three hours waiting in line now to fill and its been like that all the last year ..."

We're consternated, energetically constipated at times, and you're too right that Sioux Falls only gets in the news when a light plane ends up entangled in power lines with the pilot still alive or someone's new puppy barks Handel's Messiah without any sort of training.

Days of supply: EIA back to 1982
Jan 4 2008 18.4
Jan 9 2004 17.36 all time low
Sep 2004 17.37

I'm not sure days of supply is the best measure, because of infrastructure limitations. You could have a huge surplus in NY, and empty tanks in California, because the systems are not connected. But the "days of supply" looks good.

Yes, I agree. Days of Supply is nonsense, as it implies that everything would be fine until DoS = zero. In actuality, TSWHTF well before zero is reached.

I’m not implying anything with days of supply, simply providing data.

IMO if supply should fall below 17 days, various refineries in some locations would begin cutting production do to a shortage of crude.

Looks like most of the drop was on the Gulf Coast. Probably that bad weather in Mexico, finally showing up in the numbers.

Yup.Maybe another decline in next week's report.Mexico's ports were closed 3-5 days.Tankers take 2-4 days to reach Houston.

Gee if we can run our cars on BLENDING COMPONENTS I guess we are good to go. I continue to be conflicted by all the "unofficial reports" on consumption. Yesterday they used the Master Card yes Master Card data on CNBC stating that gas purchases are averaging 5% less than a year ago. Now thats a stellar benchmark. How do they measure that stat.. The bozo CNBC have used the last couple of weeks to jawbone down the market keeps bringing up the inventory tax as a reason why inventories are to low. Never mentions the market premium being offered on the Gulf Coast for oil or the declines in Mexico or Venezeula. What a schmuck.

Pup55, inventory maven at PO.com, points out that imports were about the same as usual. The drop was due to increased refinery inputs. Hence the unexpected builds in refined products, but huge drop in crude oil.

Imports of crude should be running at 10.5-11mm bl/da.Domestic prod has dropped to 5.05mm bl/da.If you are going to run close to 16mm bl/da through the ref, then you will need more than 10mm in imports of crude.

Imports of crude should be running at 10.5-11mm bl/da.

Maybe they should be, but recently they've been pretty steady at 9.8 million barrels per day.

I've been wondering for a while whether or not we're seeing a deliberate run-down in inventories by the refiners so as not to have to buy oil at current crack spreads. I may be misremembering, but it seemed at first that gasoline & distillate inventories were down and refinery utilization was somewhat low. Then when those things started to rise, the oil inventories began to go down faster. That imports are also down implies to me that someone is holding off on buying.

Of course, when they have to start buying again, gasoline prices will have to finally go up. And a surge in US buying will drive oil prices up even further. If, as someone said the other day, gasoline should be around 3.50 to 3.75 per gallon, then we could be looking at $4.00+ per gallon with a buying-induced rise in crude prices.

I read the numbers and conclude the goal is to keep gasoilne prices as low as possible during the election run-up. I wonder how long the effort will be maintained?

EIA uses the term 'Implied Demand'.It is not actual sales or consumption, but deliveries.MC #s are actual sales(they prob use a fudge factor to take in various price/gal to get gallons sold).

Here in NJ there's now a 7 cents per gallon difference between cash and credit for gas. I think many are opting to pay the cash price. I even tell them to use my debit and I get out and enter my passcode at the pump. (There's no self serve in new jersey :(


There's no self serve in new jersey.

I've often wondered, why is that? Do the pump jockeys have some strong lobbying arm with the state legislature or something?

The funny thing is, after having pumped for myself all these years for some reason I view full serve as an inconvenience. I have to wait for the guy to show up and start pumping. I could have been half done by then. You'd think full serve would drive up the price, but New Jersey has really low gas prices. (I think lowest in the nation)

Aside from how slow the service can be in NJ, I don't mind not having self-service. I love not having it when it's raining or the temperature is just nasty cold. Even with the lack of self-service our prices are some of the lowest in the country.

As to the bit about different prices for credit versus cash, I'm not seeing it. Along Rt. 33, there isn't any difference in price. Where are you that you see one?

I live in central new jersey, near Robbinsville. Almost every Valero station has two prices displayed. I've seen others too.
I don't know why the hell they don't allow self service here. I can't stand waiting and watching these guys glumly do their work. It's some state law that has some wacky reasoning behind it.


No self serve here in Oregon, either. We're not savages. The government is here to help you! What, you put that nozzle thingy in a hole somewhere? Do you squeeze the trigger first?

Self-serve gas in Oregon? Not likely

New Jersey, he says, had the foresight to see the dangers of inexperienced motorists trying to operate fuel pumps. Gasoline dealers in New Jersey enjoy lower insurance premiums, he contends, and motorists not only pay less for gas there but are spared "the inconvenience of getting out in all kinds of weather."

Self-service was introduced in, where else, California in 1947, but it really didn't catch on until the 1970s. Price spikes were one reason, but not the only one. Even if there had been no oil shocks, the full-service station would still be an endangered species, because of the improved reliability of cars, the growth of specialized car-service businesses (oil change and muffler shops, for example) and -- sorry, NJ and OR -- the fact that drivers generally like self-serve.

No self-serve also makes it harder to drive off without paying.

10:21am? Are you special?


Alas, no. The server clock is wrong. Or I could make big bucks! ;-)

Noticed the way they wrote it they put the bad news at the back end. Usually they start with crude imports and inventories.

I ran across this AP article on Yahoo:

"Oil prices rise on US supply concerns"

and the last sentence of the article absolutely blew me away:

"As demand wanes, OPEC countries have had to reduce their production by a million barrels over the last three quarters to a year to keep prices high, the economist said."

Who the hell do they think they are kidding?!


first post here :)

i just did a search on drumbeat, and read the old titles from a year ago or more. i was amazed by how much the headlines shifted - from "maybe", "non-news" and false hopes from new sources of energy to "surely", breaking news", like "oil hits a new high", "supply failing to meed demand" and the many threats of today's alternatives - biofuels and ethanol

i wonder if we're the proverbial boiling frog. can't imagine what the headlines will be in 2 or 3 years from now on. perhaps titles like "riots in x country" and "fuel shortages paralyze economic activity in city y" will make us yawn

As long as gasoline prices rise slowly, I think there will be collective yawns until there are actual shortages. Then there will be riots.

Then there will be riots...

Possibly. But scooters and cycles are more likely.

All that needs to happen is for the traffic guys to designate one lane of your typical multi-lane commuter route as an ultra-light-vehicle lane and we've fixed the fuel shortage (at least for the short term).

A decent scooter costs maybe $3K and gets 60-70 mpg. A good in-town bicycle (for 0-7 mile commutes) costs $800. If it's cold and you're "scooting" you wear an insulted jump suit. If it rains you wear a rain suit.

Given the congestion most cities and suburbs have, I imagine many commute times would remain about the same. But WHAT IF they were as much as 30% longer? BFD.

Why is the automobile such a freaking show stopper on this blog?

Converting to ultralight vehicles will take years. Very few people own them. All of the ones already produced will be snapped up in hours in a crisis. It will take years for production to ramp up. And scooters don't run any better on an empty tank than a Hummer does.

You are also assuming that putting every commuter on a motorbike will solve the problem. No one is going to haul 40,000 pounds of steel or food on a motorbike.

In any case, I feel pretty confident about the riots. So far, every place in the world that has experienced shortages has had them.

You're arguing over a false choice.

There will be both riots and scooters. Not always at the same place and time.

A riot might run a couple days, maybe even a couple weeks.. but like Hummers and Scooters, a riot doesn't run on an empty tank. They do end. People get tired (arrested, killed, whatever) .. and the next steps start to form.

A scooter should run for years, on FAR fewer gallons than the hummer.

Why be so fixated on the riots? We're carefully taught to 'respect' and dote on violence, when it is in fact a pretty limited (tho' popular) tool.


'Which wolf will win, Grandfather?' 'Whichever one I feed.'

Let's do a thought experiment...

Imagine the Governor of Georgia makes a speech about oil supply. He tells the state citizens that a gasoline shortfall is inevitable. He stresses that it will not occur tomorrow but within the year. He asks for cooperation. He details a strategic plan to shift from commuter cars to scooters. He offers a generous tax credit to offset the purchase of a "scooter". He tells the public that he will phase in safe "scooter" lanes for commuter use. He details the phase-in dates. For example, in July 2009, one lane in each direction of Interstate 85 will be allocated to "scooters" in the Atlanta metropolitan area.

He offers free scooter driving instruction at DMV's and high schools.
He mandates scooter parking next to handicapped parking.

He establishes a powerful task force to get it done.

Every week the task force gives an update that is carried as major news in the regional papers. The updates stress when and where changes are scheduled. Also... they estimate new travel rates for both cars and scooters. (remember, cars are losing lanes). To reinforce project success, the speed limits are reduced in the metro-region. He implements a tax on gasoline purchases larger than 3 gallons.

Will Atlantans buy scooters? Will businesses arise to sell them?

Or... will they quit their jobs, sell their houses and move to Alabama?

I'll play your thought experiment...

let's imagine that same Governor of Georgia - and let us realize that in order to get elected Governor, he had to spend millions of dollars buying media ads to defeat a similarly-armed opponent - let us realize that Kia has a very large auto assembly plant in Georgia, that Honda has auto plants in Georgia - now, let us guess that the Governor wished to keep his powerful position - he will need the kind of $ that large auto-makers have in their pockets in order to be re-elected (and to keep that $ from going to his opponent), also, he has to consider how many voters the plant workers represent (and the $ that unions, if allowed in the plants, have to contribute to campaigns)

now multiply the Governor's concerns about placating the auto companies, workers and unions by the large construction firms who bid on state highway projects, mix in the banking and building industries who build suburbs out on those highways (where commuting on a scooter would mean death by drunk hick in large truck) and dole out dubious loans to people for said suburban homes - and don't forget (this is for you Westexas) - the large media companies whose income relies on advertising from auto companies, new homes, mortgage etc.

and now try to still imagine any Governor of Georgia even considering what you contemplate

you should work in politics for a while and see what $ does to dreams - it kills them dead, and leaves a shabby realpolitik in the place where dreams of change once lived

there are very large, deep-pocketed interests who will fight tooth & nail to keep the status quo as long as possible

or do you see GM really turning things around right now? CAFE standards have HOW long to go up a pathetic amount? or US scooter makers (if there exists such an unlikely beast) really pulling ahead as gas prices soar?


Upthread we started with the notion that there would be riots when gasoline shortages occurred.

If you assume systemic, long term gasoline shortages, then all the $$$ in car-ville won't matter to that hypothetical Georgia governor. Money isn't gasoline.

He's got to get folks to work. He's got to keep people from killing each other. He's got to have a plan that is actionable.

Well... the roads are there. Scooters exist. Traffic engineering exists.

A really gifted politician might be able to explain that we are throwing our entire economy into the toilet spending trillions of dollars on cars, insurance and fuel every year.

It doesn't take a degree in ECONOMICS to understand our nation will not thrive unless we develop an export product as valuable to world consumers as oil is.

Considering how long it took the current governor to respond to critical water shortages, do you really think Georgia is the best example? And do you really think he would stick his neck out telling people to conserve unless some riots had already hit? I would tend to doubt it.

More likely he would have another prayer vigil on the capitol steps, this time to pray for oil.

Ho-Ha! you've got me there. I saw Allatoona last month. I think it will get very interesting in metro Atlanta this summer.

BINGO! It is interesting to speculate what will happen in these situations, but here it is - this is the real-world example of what will happen.

I really do wonder if we will see the abandonment of the city - if it does not rain enough over the next year, what other options are there?

The immediate response will be for everyone in the state to rush to the gas stations to top off their gas tanks. Then they will head home to fetch every gas can they have, and swing by all the stores to clean out the shelves of every gas can and Sta-bil in stock, then head back to the gas stations to fill up their cans. Except by this time, all the gas stations will be out of gas. Long lines, tempers flare, pandemonium ensues, etc. You get the picture.

After the National Guard has been called up to restore order and emergency shipments of gasoline have been trucked in to resupply the gas stations, I'll bet your Gov will be back on the air, moving on to plan B - which will look a lot like the status quo ante. (Or maybe he'll be announcing his resignation.)

Welcome to life in the post-peak world.

So you're saying it's riots OR scooters then...

Actually, what it will most likely be is:

Riots followed by Rationing followed by Scooters.

Adopting an ultra-efficient vehicle within the decade is inevitable.

"After the National Guard has been called up to restore order and ... "

But, of course, if the National Guard is in Iraq, what then?

Did a lot of searching for solid data on scooter production. The JAMA (Japanese Automobile Manufacturers Association) website for instance shows 31,864 exports for < 50cc. link By contrast there are about 5 million motorcycles in the US; about 8 million vehicles are purchased yearly. Scooters can be made much more quickly than cars, but even a ten fold increase in production would take years to have any discernible impact.

What about scooter and cycle riots? Those could be entertaining. Like medieval cavalry warfare.

A wonderful image! I'm going to sharpen up my lance right now in preparation!

But why mess around with scooters and cycles? I plan on moving out on my great white charger - Percherons were bred for this sort of thing. Actually, my old mare is probably getting a bit slow for this kind of action. Maybe I'll just stay home and sit this one out. :-)

I see mass vandalism against SUVs and gas guzzlers occurring as a part of any riots, as people start to connect the dots.

There have been recurring reports of vandalism against H2 Hummers at DFW airport parting garages.

I also wonder about lynchings of Prius owners if they're happily scooting about once the guzzlers are parked.

Riots are not per se about logic, they're about a bunch of people being pissed off.

This is the thing: it can be very dangerous to be visibly and obviously better off than your neighbors when their lives have no hope or prospect of getting any better.

IIRC, WT first said it: "Cheap is Chic". You want to give your neighbors every impression that you are just another poor, struggling average Joe just like all of them.

If you ever do drive a Prius, the one you want will have 200K+ miles on it, quite a few dings and dents and scratches, maybe a missing body part or two, and be perpetually dirty. You might just get away with that, as long as some other cars are still on the road. The one thing you definitely don't want to do is drive one of the very LAST cars on the road.

I think this is true for all sorts of peak oil preparations. If you've thought ahead and installed solar panels it won't necessarily be a good thing to be the only one in the neighborhood with your lights on when everyone else is suffering with blackouts.

Indeed, I think I've annoyed some people in the past by suggesting that in some contexts, a well-run place with a wind turbine might be analagous to a "mob, rape, and loot me" sign. Those who haven't prepared won't be thinking how swell it is that you were smarter than they were and admiring your adaptive fitness. They'll consider you a smug wise-ass who thinks he's better than they are, who could use a rock upside the head. Or whatever rationalization it takes to justify doing what they feel like doing. In situations like that, in which there might be large assymetries in preparedness in close justaposition, it might be wise to think about "crypto fitness", that is, appearing to be as screwed up as everyone else while maintaining a hidden edge. You may want to keep those solar panels hidden until until after the initial dieoffs, and eat rats instead of your buried baked beans. Your car perhaps should be a real beater - I went shopping on craigslist and found a vandalized hyundai accent with no sunroof and crash damage, but which will pass safety inspection. I glued a piece of plexi over the sunroof hole and left the locks punched out... total cost $1120 for a 2002 model which gets 45mpg, but it looks terrible, and I love it.

Some further thoughts along these lines:

Heating with a wood stove is a safe bet, at least in small towns and rural areas. Serious wood heating (as opposed to a decorative artifact in upscale homes) is something a lot of poor people rely upon; it won't attract a lot of attention. Don't expect to be able to store scores and scores of cords on your property without some of it going missing, though.

It is also not at all unusual in small towns and rural areas for people who are not well-to-do, but NOT lazy and shiftless, to grow gardens in their yards. If you've been gardening for a while, that won't attract a lot of attention either. As for stockpiled food, though, you don't want to look obviously well nourished while everyone around you is starving. You'd best voluntarilly cut back as well.

Poor folks often dry their clothes on a clothes line, so you won't attract any attention with that.

You are not going to fool people if you live in an obviously nice house in an upscale neighborhood. What you want is an average house in an average neighborhood. Maintain your house and retrofit it for energy efficiency, but maybe intentionally neglect the exterior appearance a bit. What you really want is for it to look just a bit shabby.

Clothes are an important visible class marker. Don't wait until things are at their worst to start to downscale your wardrobe. This doesn't mean you have to wear crap. Sturdy, well-built work clothing is a good choice; the best gear isn't cheap. Forget about anything with designer labels, anything flashy or flimsy, etc.

In the US you've got to be careful wrt bicycles. Unlike many other countries, bicycles are not really considered to be poor people's transport; instead, they tend to be seen more as an upscale plaything. That will eventually change, but you are likely to find bicycle transport to be hazardous until the perception does change. If you have a bike, at least get rid of the fancy racing duds, and wear ordinary people's clothes when riding.

Damn, this is how I live already. I even have the gaunt hungry look, I never got over 100lbs till I was a freshman in college. 121 now.

Unless you share.

That happened in California last year. The power went out due to storms, and a few people who were off the grid opened their homes to their neighbors, letting them cook, take hot showers, watch the big game, etc.

Good for them.

Now let's see them do that for the rest of their lives.

Blackouts are one thing. Everyone knows they are temporary. No one expects the likes of the NYC power-cut to be indefinite. When that dawns on them, people get frayed tempers very quickly.

Maybe so. But my guess is the person who shares with their neighbors, frayed tempers and all, will fare better than the one who tries to hide their solar panels.

They're not mutually exclusive options.

You'd have to share all that you obviously had, and could do so sincerely. But that pretty much equates to doing no storage of supplies at all, since your neighbors typically won't, or their neighbors or their neighbors' neighbors. Moreover, it's probably not your neighbors who'd go after your solar panels, but organized looters who maintain some mobility and force of arms. Shooting it out with them would represent a failure in planning.

It would help you, and any neighbors you hadn't yet eaten, to have stuff stored away. Different areas will collapse in different ways, but there will be different sequential phases almost everywhere.

Far better to have intelligent, prepared neighbors you can plan with. But if you find yourself surrounded with what may become belligerent fundamentalist zombies, reciprocal altruism may become strained.

Smart urban gardening might be 55-gallon plastic drums full of spam, buried in your garden at night with tomatos planted on top as a plausible reason for the disturbed ground. That'd be even easier on marginal farm land - take a tip from the squirrels.

The problem, IMO, is that if you're caught, there will be hell to pay.

Like those Survivor episodes, where one of the contestants is suspected of hiding a candy bar or something. When that happens, they're toast. No matter what they say or do.

True. You'll also need candy bars with cyanide in them. No reason.

Err its poisioned bait for the squirrels

Sharing is a two edged sword. It can build considerable goodwill amongst neighbors, credits on the ledger to be repaid later. On the other hand, it can also identify you as the place to go to get what is needed when all else fails - to get what is needed by any means necessary.

I think as a general rule, the more you know and are known by your neighbors, the better this would work. It probably works well in small towns and exceptional urban and suburban neighborhoods where the neighbors are friendly toward one another. In a neighborhood where everyone is a stranger, I doubt that you'd have good results. It definitely isn't recommended in a neighborhood where YOU are the only one that is a stranger, where everyone else knows each other well. Then again, I really can't recommend residing in such a neighborhood in the first place.

This gets to another question: why wait until a disaster has hit to start sharing and building that goodwill? If you are going to take this route, the time to start is ASAP. Build up that neighborhood network sooner rather than later, and everyone will be better off.

Even if you are a very generous soul in a very friendly and cooperative neighborhood, though, my advice still stands: cheap is chic, don't appear to be obviously better off than your neighbors. Generosity dispensed from the heights of affluence to the peons below will likely engender far less goodwill than one might imagine.

"it won't necessarily be a good thing to be the only one in the neighborhood with your lights on when everyone else is suffering with blackouts."

That depends on whether/how well you know your neighbors. I expect that if my house has lights on during a blackout, that the place will be packed, that we will be having pow-wows about how to get more homes on the block set up, how to charge some of their batteries in the meantime, or how to cook some big pots of food 'Stone Soup' style and keep the 'hood going so we can get through this. Together.

This automatic 'they'll be jealous/resentful and will want to redistribute the wealth' thing.. come on! Maybe people make these statements about 'other people's neighbors', not their own, because from afar, the thought of 'Neighbors you don't know' gets translated into Neighbors that 'They' don't know. Scary Strangers...

My neighborhood is not especially tightly knit, but it's not like 'the other people' want to turn our place into riotsville.

Enough Mel Gibson movies, you lot!


Get a first generation Prius and remove the nameplate. No one remembers what those look like.

Let's assume the Prius gets 50% better mileage than my Accent (generous). Will the situation of the Prius owner be significantly different from mine? It's a car, and it gets a bit better mileage than other cars, but it is not significantly less dependent on fuel.

You should dig into wood gasification cars. Popular during the second world war, at least in Sweden, Finland and probably some other countries.

Here's two useful links

Yes it looks like something straight out of Mad Max but it works fine and the only fuel you'll need is wood.

You should dig into wood gasification cars. Popular during the second world war, at least in Sweden, Finland and probably some other countries.

Not so easy when you live in areas without seasoned wood available. In addition, lots of folks died from Carbon Monoxide poisoning caused by poor construction. Today Cars all have near sealed cabins, making the risks even greater.

You will also need some liquid fuel to start the engine. Cars and trucks still need oil for lubercation, and there is the problem with electronic controls. You need a pre-1985 vehicle that doesn't use electronics, our you will need to remove the electronics from the engine (some engineering is probably required).

You have some valid points. It's not feasible to use wood gasification where there's no wood, of course. The gas is poisonous as you say but I never heard that there were "a lot" of people dying when the gasifiers were used. No liquid fuel is needed when starting, the car in the link above is started directly on wood gas for example. It helps to soak the rag you use to ignite the gasifier with in something flammable but other than that, no fuel needed. Lubrication oil though, is needed, but compared to how much we burn today as fuel the lubrication oil requirements are quite small. Maybe synthetic crude or vegetable oil derivatives could be used in the future (whatever the lubrication requirement is) if we really don't have access to any more fossile crude.

True - riots are not logical. Iranians torched gas stations to protest gas rationing, making the problem worse, technically.

And in Pakistan, people protested power outages by destroying a bunch of transformers.

Lots of talk in Maine about this:

"The Maine Office of Energy Independence says heating oil has set a record for the third straight week in the state. It says heating oil and kerosene prices are $1.09 per gallon higher than at the same time last year."

It's hitting a lot of people hard right where they notice, the Jan thaw will help some.


...can't imagine what the headlines will be in 2 or 3 years from now on...

They'll read something like this:

As more American's consume less food biofuel production continues to grow.
The Downsizing Lifestyle: America's new "growth" industry.
Winning the battle of obesity, Average American weighs 20lbs less than in 2005 studies show.
Unemployment drops 3%, hovers at 12.56% nationally.
Trade deficit drops 50%! (mainly due to reduced chinese goods and oil imports).


Or, if things get really bad:

"Acorns: They're what's for dinner!"

I've got lots of oak trees in my yard. But, not being a cook, tell us how one prepares acorns for cooking. Just in case, mind you, the deer just love those acorns. I could have shot three just yards from my back door this past hunting season, but took photographs instead. I think my neighbors killed them later, after hunting season ended...

E. Swanson


Check out this page - everything you need to know about acorns:


Cooking With Acorns

The key appears to be leaching (washing) to remove the tannin.

The best way to eat acorns is by eating the meat of the animals that you fed them to. You mentioned deer, but pigs will eat them, ducks LOVE acorns if you can get the shell off for them. Anyplace that has acorns will also have lots of squirells; there's the start of a good Brunswick Stew for you. There must be other animals that eat them too.

Native Americans ate acorns, and some pioneer and backwoods settlers did too. Typically, the acorns would be dried, shelled, and the seeds then ground into a flour. The tannic acid would then have to be leached out through several changes of water. After that you can use it as a thickening agent or pretty much any way you would use corn meal.

The time may indeed come when lots of people learn how to eat acorns. They are one of the most abundant survival foods out there in cities, suburbs, towns, and rural areas.

The time may indeed come when lots of people learn how to eat acorns. They are one of the most abundant survival foods out there in cities, suburbs, towns, and rural areas.

I suspect that before the trees are harvested for acorns, the trees will be harvested for firewood. I recall reading that a landowner in Kentucky who was traveling out of state last month came home to find out that her property was Tree harvested (ie someone stole her trees).

The best way to eat acorns is by eating the meat of the animals that you fed them to. You mentioned deer, but pigs will eat them, ducks LOVE acorns if you can get the shell off for them

I think as food prices and unemployment continue to rise, game meat will hunted out pretty quickly.

I've been wanting to try them, and almost did this year but got too busy. I've heard you can leach the tannin out by hanging them in a nylon mesh bag in your toilet tank. I was going to hang the bag in the inlet to our fish pond (spring fed), but it dried up this year due to low water level.

Something to keep an eye on:

Super Soaker Inventor Aims to Cut Solar Costs in Half

Johnson, a nuclear engineer who holds more than 100 patents, calls his invention the Johnson Thermoelectric Energy Conversion System, or JTEC for short.

It’s sort of like a fuel cell: JTEC circulates hydrogen between two membrane-electrode assemblies (MEA). Unlike a fuel cell, however, JTEC is a closed system. No external hydrogen source. No oxygen input. No wastewater output.

Here’s how it works: One MEA stack is coupled to a high-temperature heat source (such as solar heat concentrated by mirrors), and the other to a low-temperature heat sink (ambient air). The low-temperature stack acts as the compressor stage while the high-temperature stack functions as the power stage. Once the cycle is started by the electrical jolt, the resulting pressure differential produces voltage across each of the MEA stacks. The higher voltage at the high-temperature stack forces the low-temperature stack to pump hydrogen from low pressure to high pressure, maintaining the pressure differential. Meanwhile hydrogen passing through the high-temperature stack generates power.

Johnson hopes to have a low-temperature prototype (200-degree centigrade) completed within a year’s time. The pair is experimenting with high-temperature membranes made of a novel ceramic material of micron-scale thickness. Johnson envisions a first-generation system capable of handling temperatures up to 600 degrees. (Currently, solar concentration using parabolic mirrors tops 800 degrees centigrade.) Based on the theoretical Carnot thermodynamic cycle, at 600 degrees efficiency rates approach 60 percent, twice those of today’s solar Stirling engines.


His website is here

This is a concentration cell, and they have been around for years, using lots of working fluids (though H2 is the cheapest i've heard). There was even a scheme that used the mixing of fresh and salt water at the mouth of the Columbia river to power the western U.S.

The problem is tiny potential (millivolts) from each cell, so you need a huge stack, and lifetime of the membranes, probably not as long as silicon.

One more silver BB though...

half full -

I do not claim to be an expert of fuel cells and the like, but from the description in Johnson's website, it does not quite sound like a concentration cell, such as the one based on a salinity differential as you suggested.

The description (which I do not quite fully understand) speaks in terms of a revesible redox reaction, with the temperature differential across the system somehow supplying the sustaining driving force. IF that is the case, then would not the electrical potential created be more on the order of that which you get in a conventional H2/O2 fuel cell, rather than something onlyin the millivolt range?

It appears to me that the big difference here is that the energy 'source' is not the engery content of hydrogen upon oxidation, but rather just the temperature differential between the hot and cold sides of the device. The hydrogen in this case functions as a working fluid rather than an energy source.

In any case, the description is somewhat short on detail.

If one of these cells only produces voltages in the millivolt range, then I can't get too enthused; but if it produces voltage more like that of a conventional fuel cell, then this guy Johnson might have something.

"if it produces voltage more like that of a conventional fuel cell, then this guy Johnson might have something."

Sounds like it might produce HIGH voltage since collectors can produce lots of heat.
I've been trying to dream up a molten lead/copper circulating system to produce electricity directly from a solar trough but I figure the collector would have to be freakin' huge to get much juice, plus alot of the heat would be spent in just melting the metals, making it less efficient.

Thanks for the link alan!
Just the kind of quiet power you'd want for a lifeboat.
Without the acres of expensive PV's or dangerous steam generation.

I've been trying to dream up a molten lead/copper circulating system

You should look into what public documents exist on the sodium based fission reactors for the issues of a liquid metal.

The biggest problem you will have is the variability of solar flux and your 'fluid' becoming 'solid' - thus breaking the system.

Without the acres of expensive PV's

If you have ACRES of PV's, you are gonna have similar land coverage of reflectors.

My take on crude and product inventories is to reduce them as much as possible for tax purposes on Dec 31st. 2007 end of year price of $96 versus last year $60 is additional incentive to reduce inventories. Past history shows crude inventories descending through Dec. and increasing through Jan. and Feb.

If inventories continue to descend next Wednesday we shall see big price jumps and we will be in deep doodoo. That would tend to indicate continuing stock draws and future shortfalls in refinery runs and ultimately product stocks.

Yes, next week should be the breakout.

I would buy the inventory tax$$$ up to a point. They point I deviate is we are still talking about year over year comps so that is effect is already somewhat discounted. The other point is that if they are trying to "manage inventories" for tax purposes why has the physical price maintained a basis premium to WTI. Historically the basis drops when demand is soft not the other way around. Therefore the signal to the market is I will take the inventory ASAP. This is not consistent with the tax argument having precedent over getting oil in house.

Is there a Minimum Operating Level for NG in the US or NA? Haven't found a solid figure for it - too complex to model? I notice a reference on the NG Wiki page to a mounting crisis in pipeline capacity, wondered if there was more to it.

I also keep wondering how long the industry can keep up the mad pace of drilling - 22754 new wells in the US alone for 2007. 62 new holes a day!
If production costs went through the roof from soaring oil prices would that force smaller companies to give up on new wells - or are they a minority in the NG drilling business?

Where is the North American Natural Gas Market Headed? - Seeking Alpha. Nifty chart of depletion there:

Yes, there is. A few years ago (2003?) we got very close to not having enough gas in the pipeline to the northeast. It was March, near the end of winter.

Since then, we've had relatively mild weather, but it's still a concern.

IIRC, there is a protocol in place to start curtailing lower priority users if NG supplies get too tight. They'll cut industry and business to keep homes supplied. Wonderful news for the economy, that would be. . .

Yes, the California plan is to cut off electrical generating plants first. That would be interesting.

They cut off gas to power plants in winter, when you don't need air conditioning, and cut off gas to homes in summer, when you don't need heating. Heating with gas is three times as efficient as running a power plant and generating electricity.
It's lots more complicated than that. I'm not sure how the heat pump effect works in really cold weather. In mild weather it works better than natural gas heating, but cold weather makes them not quite as efficient.

All this talk of domestic energy prices ... when the largest term in today's Drum Beat equation is Pakistan. Their textile and steel mills are shut? That means people aren't working. I don't think there are words in the English language to describe what happens when a nuclear armed regional power destabilizes. If they can't work they can't heat and they can't eat. That spells disaster in my book.

Some fear Pakistan could splinter apart

HYDERABAD, Pakistan — Qadir Magsi, a doctor before he entered politics, says the prognosis for Pakistan is grim: He gives it a decade to live as a united country.

The assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto on Dec. 27 removed "the last hope for Pakistan to stay intact," Magsi says. He expects Bhutto's native Sindh province will emerge as an independent nation unless the military establishment surrenders more power to the country's four provinces.

Yeah, Drum Beat gets it, but no talks about this? We're pretty near the MOL for stable regional powers with nuclear weapons and no one seems too switched on about that particular concern. We are so going to get drug into that with all of our troops right next door in Afghanistan.

This probably isn't going to help:

South Asia hit by food shortages

People across South Asia are struggling to cope with a severe shortage of affordable wheat and rice.

There have been queues outside Pakistani shops in towns around the country, and flour prices have shot up.

Wheat flour is a staple foodstuff in Pakistan, where rotis or unleavened bread are eaten with almost every meal.

Last week Afghanistan appealed for foreign help to combat a wheat shortage while Bangladesh recently warned it faced a crisis over rice supplies.

Pakistan dropped out of the news because it is now a difficult story. Assasination is easy, simmering tension and festering problems much harder to cover. And of course it's always so easy to move on to the next story. The primaries.
If you haven't, Google on Barnet Rubin. He's done several articles and interviews on Pakistan with higher information density than is usual.

Spell Barnett with 2 t's

Don't forget Syed Saleem Shahzad over at atimes.com. But his little visits to the Taliban are really scary.

Some fear Pakistan could splinter apart

Pakistan is but one nuclear power among many ... they are operating below their petroleum MOL ... they are just the first nuclear power to be post 'peak oil' ... watch and learn!

I wasn't talking about oil levels, I was implying that there is a Minimum Operating Level of stable nuclear armed regional powers - specifically all of them - and the Pakistan's impending collapse is extremely dangerous.

I agree, that's why I say watch and learn.

My point is that the USA (just as an example) is a collection of contiguous States (just like India and Pakistan) - some with more oil than others - but several with nuclear weapons positioned in them.

Just something to consider when there isn't enough oil to meet all the needs?

"Freedom at Midnight"

This is a good book about the partition of Pakistan and India, following independence from Great Britain. I think that more people died during and after partition than Americans in the Second World War.

Of course, the division then was Hindu/Muslim, versus Muslim/Muslim in Pakistan today, but it gives one some historical background, and nuclear armed India next door would be on a hair trigger alert in the event of a Pakistani civil war or partition.


Freedom at Midnight (1975) is a book by Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins. It describes the events in the Indian independence movement in 1947-48, beginning with the appointment of Lord Mountbatten as the last viceroy of British India, and ending with the death and funeral of Mahatma Gandhi.

The authors having interviewed many of those who were there, including Lord Mountbatten, the book gives a detailed account of the last year of British India, the princely states' reactions to independence, the partition of India and Pakistan, and the bloodshed that followed. It also covers the events leading to the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. The book is a result of deeply scanned and researched events which often are left out by the historians. The maps of India and Pakistan were drawn on religious grounds by a man named Cyril Radcliffe who had never visited India in his life. The book also explains the fury of both Hindus and Muslims, misled by their communal leaders, during the partition and the biggest mass slaughter in the history of India. One incident quoted is particularly terrifying: it describes a canal in Lahore that ran with blood and floating bodies.

"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants." - T. Jefferson

Cold comfort for a parent with a child half a dozen years away from draft age. I didn't want this stuff on my watch ...

I don't think it's the tree of liberty they're refreshing. It's the tree of identity.

Hello TODers,

The Iranians are claiming the recent, dinky boats swarming around the US Naval gunboats are fake [US sailors speeding around?]. Perhaps that is why the boats were allowed to get so close to the naval gunners. I have no idea who is telling the truth here: does anyone know how to zoom in to possibly reveal faces & clothing?

Please go to Yahoo homepage to view the ABC video.

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

One correction, I believe that the US ships were large warships, not gunboats.

In any case, regardless of who drove the boats, the key question is what Bush/Cheney plan to do in response.

Hello WT,

Thxs for the correction. BTW, congrats to you & Khebab for your Graphoilogy report. That release, plus Simmons' presentation hitting at the same time kept me pretty busy reading yesterday.

Hello TODers,

Has anyone tried zooming in for hull markings, registration mumbers, identifying the craft manufacturer and year? How come no Iranian flag is fluttering behind these boats-- I thought Navies were required to show the flag? Looks like very recent models of Mercruiser outboard engines--is Iran allowed to import these engines? Are the dash gauges in English or Iranian alphabet?

I recall that the speedboats belong not to the Iranian Navy, but the Revolutionary Guards Corps, which probably doesn't play by the rules of Admiral Nelson. Remember, if they really wanted to fire first, they would have used their Sunburn missiles, and we probably would have lost a destroyer. So the game is either to get us to fire first, or to help the approval rating of Ahmadinejad, who counts the IRGC in his faction in the complex multifactional politics of Iran.

The boats in question, that I saw, were ski boats - if the US are claiming they were a serious threat to the mighty US Navy (or indeed any navy) we are all wasting our taxes on defense and it's time to scrap all those expensive warships!

If all that is required to defend ourselves are a few speedboats it's good news - as speedboats are a very small fraction of the price and the USA has bazillions of them.

This is Bushehr at 28 58' 50 51' - the smallest causeway leading to the pier the size of the little speedboats involved in the incident. Small boats would be used for suicide attacks ...

Iranian patrol boats, Bushehr, Iran

Bush is beating the war drums right now calling Iran a "threat to world peace". Also interesting how the Dow was tanking big time and did an abrupt U-turn at 2:30. Interesting times.

As I said up the thread, the key question is what Bush/Cheney plan to do.

Bush Strongly Warns Iran on Naval Clash

JERUSALEM (AP) - President Bush warned Iran of "serious consequences" if it meddles again with U.S. warships in the Persian Gulf, opening a Mideast peacemaking mission Wednesday on an ominous note.

The Gulf of Tonkin Incident

The Gulf of Tonkin Incident is a pair of supposed attacks allegedly carried out by naval forces of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (commonly referred to as North Vietnam) against two American destroyers, the USS Maddox and the USS Turner Joy. The incident occurred on August 2 and 4, 1964 in the Gulf of Tonkin.[1]

Although it is possible that the first attack, on the destroyer Maddox, was in fact carried out after the Maddox fired first, some altercation did occur. The second supposed attack almost certainly did not occur.

To be precise, the US ships involved in the incident were comprised of a destroyer, a frigate, and a cruiser. These are all good size ships, festooned with the latest electronics, target acquisition hardware, missiles, and ASW capabilities.

My guess would be that, taken together, the three US ships probably represent at least $2 billion worth of the latest naval assets. The five Iranian speed boats probably are collectively worth less than $600,000, yet (if what happened is as portrayed) they seemed to have put the scare into the US Navy. Talk about assymetrical opposing forces!

There is one thing that super high-tech military hardware can't achieve, and that is expendability. On the contrary, the better the stuff gets, the more expensive it is, and the more risk-adverse its users become.

How do sophisticated electronics differentiate between pleasure craft and pleasure craft with 1000 Lbs of high explosives? They don't, they set a minimum operating distance before the Gatlings open up, and these guys no doubt knew what that distance was.

A news release with this simple explanation wouldn't attract much advertising revenue.

Maybe they were having an offshore race in the Emirates or something.

The footage they showed in the US looked like Miami Vice, footage shown on the BBC showed some twin outboard sport fishing boats.

Who knows what's going on. Thing is that even if the Phalanx systems aren't intended for slow low targets like these the FFG's have sweet 25 mm chain guns that can be switched to thermal tracking and these boats getting that close undetected doesn't quite wash.

Hello Musashi,

With satellites, AWACs, and Predator Hawks over the Hormuz, plus subsurface acoustic sensors: I bet the US Navy knew about these small craft even before they got out of the harbor. Also the ships' radar would have picked out these guys miles and miles away-- easy to have a heli-gunship on station long before the boats even got close. They could also have easily had an F-15 do a very low, supersonic flyby to warn these guys off long before they got too close. Yep, who knows what is going on?

As an alternative hypothesis, I've seen 20 or 30 something guys with way too much money, way too much testosterone, way to much beer, and way too few brain cells piloting boats in an equally stupid manner.

way too much beer would be an unlikely scenario with members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard - too much God might be more likely....

assuming they were even Iranian - I don't put much beyond the pale for Cheney....

it would seem unlikely & very stupid for Iran to ratchet tension up right now when the US intelligence agencies kneecapped Cheney's ability to take us to war...

Right. . . and they don't have any gays, either

Hello WNC Observer,

Gotta agree there. I have seen it on the lakes and rivers in AZ--multiple boats, each with twin or triple V8s going like hell. Fortunately, a DUI on water now applies to a person's driving record too--helped greatly in cutting down the mayhem.

It occured to me that the MSM has state-of-the-art video equipment and expertise--I hope they are working tirelessly to prove exactly who was on these Hormuz speedboats.

musashi -

You know, this whole Iranian boat incident has puzzled me from the very beginning, and now that I see what the supposed 'threatening' boats look like, I'm even more puzzled.

As you pointed out, the footage shows what appears to be a twin outboard speedboat, as best I can judge roughly 24 feet in length. The boat has no markings or flags and, more important, there is no sign of any armament. No missile launchers, no torpedo tubes, no guns. (It is way too small for missile launchers or torpedoes, anyway.) I would think that even a small coastal patrol boat would have at least one mounted .5 caliber machine gun. But no sign of that either. When you get right down to it, all the picture really shows is three guys in a small unmarked speedboat.

If that boat is representative of the other four involved, then the only conceivable threat posed would be if the boats were loaded with high explosives for a suicide attack, such as carried out against the USS Cole in Yemen. This is possible, and I'm sure there would be no shortage of volunteers in Iran for such a mission.

Still, the question remains: if the Iranians were going to challenge three full-size vessels of the mighty US Navy, why would they use five crappy little speedboats to do it? (I doubt that many smugglers or drug runners would be intimidated by such boats, much less the US Navy.) Was this just a symbolic gesture? Was it a move mainly intended to remind those countries who depend on oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz that Iran could make things pretty unpleasant for tanker traffic?

As I said the other day, something about this whole thing doesn't quite smell right. I suspect this is but an early move amoung several, in an orcestrated attempt to rachet up tensions with Iran, being that their threat as a nascent 'nookular' power has been exposed to be false.

It is strange, but like I mentioned, who knows?
The Bush visit to israel could also have different meanings.
We just don't have the data.

It is obvious that the intelligence finding that was published was intended as a NO to the neocon desires to tangle with Iran. The radical factions in israel were very unhappy and hinted at unilateral action.

One would like to think that the visit is intended to read them the riot act.

The boat was blue, what if both the Navy and Iran are speaking the truth?

Here's the Press TV response to the Pentagon video... http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=9bb_1199903953

and AP... http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=f9e_1199902107

I think everyone that does not have an understanding of the Sunburn missile should research it. It will explain the concern of ANY boat that has the capability of just carrying it no matte the size. Its unstoppable and they don't have to be close either to use it. There was/should have been an AWAC that had these boats under their watch, and would have known if they activated any locking or tracking device (most likely). Don't even think that "eyes" and binoculars were how they watched these little "boats" that really could have sunk a very large ship if they had launched a Sunburn,.. from what I read. If they had activated and launched. from that close distance. They wouldn't have known what hit them.

Bob, I don't think the footage is good enough to "blow up". I have only seen a short clip and its not steady. Finding even a clean frame without movement (blur) in a still grab might be hard. If you could, I would say the best amateur route would be to find the best still, and take it into Photoshop and use their "uprezing" tools and lots o computer crunching to maintain pixels you MIGHT have a little bit of success in maybe something large like numbers etc. Faces, no way,

"Fighting Inflation, China Freezes Energy Prices"

econ 101: artificially low prices create shortages


But they cannot politically raise prices. IMO, this is why high prices have slowed demand growth in Western nations, but not in the Third World.

I guess the Chinese are experimenting with their own Richard M. Nixon era price controls. Hmmmmm I wonder what's going to happen? ;-)

Probably the same thing that happened back in November: their refiners stop refining. On the other hand, the Chinese have a coercive power that Nixon could only envy. They may have made the refiners an offer they couldn't refuse.

true, though i meant that the Nixon Era price controls were put in place to stop the further rising of already high commodity/material prices, yet the price controls only created massive shortages and SKYROCKETING commodity prices....classsic econ: price controls equal artificially low prices, which result in shortages, the creation of pent-up demand and in the end even higher prices....

It's not like they don't know this. The problem is the alternative is worse. Look at what happened in Myanmar when they raised prices.

People are well aware of all the flaws of rationing and subsidies. But they will still prefer that if they can't afford it otherwise.

I think we'll see this in the US, too, if prices get high enough.

Man Oh Man. Days Supply of both Crude and Product is really tanking now. I mean, it's been dropping steadily but it's starting to get a little hair raising. I will venture that the crude oil futures curve is going to have to move back into a full strip contango to encourage stock rebuilding. Now, whether stock rebuilding is triggered by contango to any meangingful extent remains another question.


Regarding the Dengue Fever story -

It's scary indeed that climate change and associated factors could allow dengue to become widespread on the US mainland. Breakbone fever is nothing you wanna get.

The progression of the disease does illustrate an under-recognized dynamic of ecology and evolution, though: the robustness of an occupied niche.

I refer to the island I live on, Oahu in Hawaii. It has a climate ideal for dengue. It has hugely dense human populations. Other pacific islands are wracked by the disease. Yet when cases of dengue do arrive here there is a limited outbreak which self-extinguishes.

This effect is indirectly due to whales.

It's tempting to end the post there, but I'll continue.

The whales attracted the whalers. In the 1800's a whaling ship brought ashore its water barrels to Maui, dumped the dregs and refilled with fresh water in the stream. Not long afterwards, locals reported singing in their ears at night.

This was a drag for hawaii's native birds, which were largely killed off by avian malaria. On the other hand, it could have been worse.

The mosquito species which became established was aedes albopictus, the asian tiger mosquito. It has since then so robustly occupied the mosquito niche in Hawaii that other species can't supplant it, even if they're arguably better suited to the niche. Like Mac vs. PC's in the 90's, or dinosaurs vs. mammals prior to asteroid impact, they acquired a huge robustness, and this is general feature of evolution is more basic even than life itself.

Native hawaiian birds above 4000' in altitude were not driven to extinction by malaria, because the tiger mosquito doesn't live that high. Thus, the birds living higher than that have ironically been protected from malaria which would by now have killed them via other mosquito species. Albopictus prevents other species from getting a foothold, providing a buffer against other mosquitoes, so on my little lot in Volcano you can still see i'iwi's and apapanes hopping around in the trees, and no screens are needed in the windows.

It turns out that albopictus, although a dengue vector, is not a very efficient vector for humans, since it bites anything and usually only bites one person. It doesn't cause self-sustaining dengue here, but it DOES prevent aedes egypti from getting a foothold. Egypti bites pretty much humans only, and multiple ones per skeeter. So this tropical island, which continually has dengue introduced to it from other locations, is itself dengue-free. Ironically, if a large public-health project tried eradicating the mosquitos, that could perturb the system enough to give egypti a foothold. Albopictus is capable of sustaining a human epidemic, but not in this context, and context is all.

Randomness and the evolved connectedness of systems... they play out in interesting ways, mostly unappreciated. Another odd sequence of events caused me to earn money for a college degree by catching mosquitoes in a way which allowed me to directly tap money from the salary budget of a local TV station, but that's a different evolutionary narrative entirely...

Awesome post. Some like to point to people's inability to understand the exponential function. I like to keep an eye on people's inability to understand system theory - or ecological thinking, if you will.

Hi green,

This is an interesting post - thanks.

And, it provides an example (thanks, again!) for my reply to a comment you made the other day. I thought I was giving a counter-argument, but I might have misunderstood what you were saying...


What a beautiful post, a glimpse into an ecosystem.

Re-reading John Brunner, your post added to my experience.

Many Thanks,

*clap* *clap* Thanks, I learned something

South Asia hit by food shortages

People across South Asia are struggling to cope with a severe shortage of affordable wheat and rice.
There have been queues outside Pakistani shops in towns around the country, and flour prices have shot up.

Global wheat prices are at record highs. Problems have been compounded by crop failures in the northern hemisphere and an increase in demand from developing countries.

"increase in demand from developing countries" biofuels? Looks like the problems will develope quickly.


In my local paper farmers are saying how they are just managing to stave off destitution. They are always complaining. What would it be like if they wern't getting record prices?

As a group, in the US, farmers are the wealthiest class of people - more than doctors, lawyers, dentists, accountants, etc. They just never make any money. Met some from the midwest in Hawaii awhile back, and they said the same thing as what you are saying. They plan on selling out and retiring in a resort area in the near future. After years and years of not making any money, their net worth is over $5 million. It is shocking that we cannot do better for our farmers.

Farmers are wealthy but illiquid and lacking in revenue streams. The guy might have $2M in land and $300k in equipment to work it, but its a job, forty days of hard labor split spring and fall, and the rest of the time he will either have livestock or a day job. The Pepsi delivery guy for the local gas station here is a millionaire, should he liquidate his land.

In my youth, I worked on a geophysical 'vibrator' truck in the Williston basin in N. Dakota. I caught a ride from one of the farmers whose land we were surveying. He was a huge guy whose weight made the Cadillac sag on his side, While puffing on his cigar, he told me he hsd lost $200,000 the last year. I was shocked. "Yep, two years ago I made $650,000, last year I only made $450,00. Yuck , yuck"

This week in Petroleum is predicting an increase in non-opec petroleum production in the next two years. The list of new projects seems pretty straightforward, assuming that projects like Thunder Horse are actually completed. But it doesn't explain its assumptions for decline of existing capacity. Does anyone know more about this part of their estimate?

Actually it was yesterday's "Short Term Energy Outlook" that made the prediction. TWP just expanded on it a little, putting up pretty graphs and making it a little easier to understand.

I think their predictions are wildly optimistic. No doubt Brazil will increase some but that new deepwater field will not come on line for several years.

The US, according to the EIA’s International Petroleum Monthly, produced below 5 mb/d for both August and September. The US is now about 600 kb/d below their pre Katrina levels. The report is undoubtedly counting on 250 kb/d from Thunder Horse and 190 kb/d from Atlantis. However Atlantis is already on line but it will not reach full production until late 2008. Thunder Horse is now expected to begin production in about one year.

These are the only two large projects that the US has coming on line. I am sure there are several smaller projects coming down the pike however. But the trick will be to keep ahead of deep declines. Alaska is declining by about 6% per year and the rest of the US slightly less. I expect US production to be about 5.2 mb/d in late 2009 after Thunder Horse comes up to full speed. But no way will production increase by .51 mb/d. Declines are just too great.

I will be shocked if Russia increases production at all in 2008 and expect her to go into decline in 2009. China has a new field that will be come on line in three or four years but nothing before then. I think they have peaked.

This leads me to make a bold prediction. I am betting that there will be no increase in Non-OPEC production in either 2008 or 2009. Non-OPEC C+C has been on a plateau for exactly four years now. When they come off that plateau, it will be in the down direction, not up.

Ron Patterson

I guess this is how Christmas was funded...

Credit card debt spikes to six-month high

Consumer borrowing rebounded in November as credit card debt shot up by the largest amount in six months.

The Federal Reserve reported Tuesday that consumer borrowing rose at an annual rate of 7.4 percent in November, far higher than the 1 percent rise in October.

The category that includes credit card debt surged at an annual rate of 11.3 percent, a six-month high, reflecting the fact that shoppers are continuing to rely heavily on their credit cards to finance purchases since home equity lines of credit have become harder to get.

Hello Leanan,

An easy way to continue to let stretched homeowners continue making their mortgage payments would be for the banks to not try and collect on their unsecured credit cards--'Its on the house!'. Bernanke can easily hit a few computer keystrokes to refill the banks, and the grateful sheeple will have a inflationary shopping blast when Jimminey Cricket and Tinkerbell become real... works for Zimbabwe--> everyone is a billionaire! rant off/

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

Hello Leanan,

Enjoyed the Economist toplink, "Hunter-gatherers, noble or savage?", until I got to the last paragraph. I just don't think we can easily find a solution to Peak Phosphorus and ten billion people will make it deplete even faster.

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

The best source of phosphorus is bones. A solution is to not bury the dead in such an nature-hating way, like they were Egyptian pharaohs or whatever. Bury the dead where their bones can rot and return the phosphorus to the plant kingdom.

Goldman Sachs Sees Recession In 2008

Filed at 5:04 p.m. ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Goldman Sachs on Wednesday said it expects the U.S. economy to drop into recession this year, prompting the Federal Reserve to slash benchmark lending rates to 2.5 percent by the third quarter.

--snip --

Goldman strongly advises fund managers to overweight health care, consumer staples, energy and utilities. They are significantly underweight consumer discretionary, financials, industrials, materials and information technology.

I just found this link in my travels.

I'm scared to try it out(some web 2.0 game) after what TOD has done to my life!


In 2001 the Kuwait Oil Company produced a document - "Reserves Categorization Project".

PIW received a copy of the leaked document. The details were provided here:


In summary the Kuwaitis claimed 24 billion barrels of proven reserves in 2001. Six years have passed since the document was published. More recently there was a Dec. 2007 OPEC statement that "Kuwait is likely to be an extremely inconsistent and unstable supplier" [in the years to come].

Solar Power Satellites, that would collect energy, redirect it to earth,

If the 'curse' of the planet is Global Warming - exactly how does this solution NOT add energy inside the atmospheric envelope, thus adding to the warming of the globe.

didn't you also hear someone talking about using all sorts of reflective materials to send the wasted sunlight back to space?