DrumBeat: February 3, 2008

Oil producers limit the options of multinationals

The share of the world's oil reserves controlled by the big Western oil companies, such as BP, Shell and ExxonMobil, has fallen to less than 10 per cent, compared with 70 per cent in 1978.

The world's reserves are dominated increasingly by government-controlled national oil companies in big producer countries such as Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iran and Venezuela. These groups control about 90 per cent, according to a book due to be published this year. The figures in the book point to the diminishing power of international oil companies by comparing the reserves held by what were in 1978 the eight largest global oil companies — Exxon, Shell, BP, Gulf, Texaco, Mobil, Socal (Chevron) and the Compagnie Françaises Des Petroles (CFP-Total) — with those of the five companies they have merged into today.

“In 1978, these companies together held roughly 70 per cent of world reserves,” Wajid Rasheed, the author of The Hydrocarbon Highway, says. “Today, there are ‘five sisters': ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, ChevronTexaco and Total and their reserves amount to approximately 10 per cent of world reserves.”

Peak oil: Will we see it coming?

The question for the world economy is: Have the Saudis abandoned their role as the swing producer because their fields have peaked and are in irreversible decline? Even more disheartening: Will we even know if the fields are drying up due to those who have a strong interest in hiding the potential for peak oil? If we do not know, how can we prepare?

11 dead in gun battle at Nigerian pipeline

Three soldiers and eight militants have been killed in a gun battle at an oil pipeline hub operated by Royal Dutch Shell in Nigeria's southern state of Bayelsa.

Shell said the Tora manifold, which sends oil to the Bonny export terminal, was not damaged in the attack late on Saturday and oil production in Nigeria, the world's eighth largest oil exporter, was unaffected.

Shell Deer Park begins gasoline unit restart-state

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Shell Oil Co's joint-venture 340,000 barrel per day (bpd) Deer Park, Texas refinery began restarting gasoline production units on Sunday after a planned overhaul, according to a notice filed with state pollution regulators.

ConocoPhillips Resumes Output From North Sea Fields, Platforms

(Bloomberg) -- ConocoPhillips resumed production at three North Sea oil and gas fields and two platforms after the storms that forced their closure passed.

Production at the Eldfisk Alpha, Eldfisk Bravo and Embla fields and the Ekofisk Alpha and Ekofisk Bravo platforms has resumed, company spokesman Stig Kvendseth said in a telephone interview today. The facilities were shut yesterday as storms brought high winds and waves to the region.

Brussels Bureaucrats Threaten UK Oil Heating Industry

New rules from Brussels are threatening the future of the oil heating and cooking industry in the British Isles, claims the Oil Firing Technical Association (OFTEC).

Oils Well in the UAE

Did you ever wonder, as gas prices soar, what our friends in the Middle East are doing with all that oil revenue? Well, while we struggle to pay at the pump, our carefree friends in the United Arab Emirates are bidding on license plates at auction.

GM Unveils Hybrid Pickups

DETROIT - General Motors Corp. will introduce a new hybrid full-size pickup and a concept hybrid truck this week at the Chicago Auto Show, betting that pickup drivers have been itching to jump on the hybrid bandwagon.

GM says the 2009 GMC Sierra hybrid gets a 25 percent improvement in fuel economy without compromising performance, while its GMC Denali XT concept -- a low-slung, muscular utility vehicle -- gets 50 percent better fuel economy than a comparable small pickup.

Climate Code Red: The case for a sustainability emergency

Climate policy is characterised by the habituation of low expectations and a culture of failure. There is an urgent need to understand global warming and the tipping points for dangerous impacts that we have already crossed as a sustainability emergency, that takes us beyond the politics of failure-inducing compromise. We are now in a race between climate tipping points and political tipping points.

Air Force pitches coal-to-liquids plant

Air Force officials have laid out an ambitious plan to develop a privately financed coal-to-diesel plant at Malmstrom air base within the next four years at a cost of $1 billion to $4 billion.

The plant, which would be among the first of its kind in the nation, would use a technology perfected in Nazi Germany to turn coal into synthetic fuels, including jet fuel for use by the Air Force.

The project has strong support from the coal industry, which considers synthetic fuels a promising new market as coal-fired power plants face opposition over climate change.

But environmental groups already are girding up to fight the project. At a community forum on the Malmstrom proposal Wednesday, they said the plant and others like it could increase emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide -- even as governments around the world struggle to cut those emissions.

Baghdad says it protested Iranian abuses of Iraqi oilfields

BAGHDAD, Feb 3 (KUNA) -- The Iraqi Foreign Ministry said on Sunday it had sent a note of protest to the Iranian side on the background of the Iranian abuses of Iraqi oilfields.

Iraqi Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Mohammed Al-Haj Hmoud told KUNA that the Iraqi Oil Ministry called on the Foreign Ministry to protest to the Iranian side over the Iranian violations of the Iraqi oil fields near the common border.

Gas field of dreams

THE race to start exporting liquefied natural gas from Queensland is under way, and the field has just become more crowded.

Food-deficit countries hit by high oil prices

NEW DELHI: Many low-income food deficit countries around the world have to shoulder a heavy financial burden in order to meet the cost of food imports amid tightened supplies and oil price increases, according to Jacques Diouf, Director-General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

Sri Lanka - Inflation: Govt. resorts to cosmetic surgery

The government, which has run out of every possible excuse from the war to the rising world oil prices to hoodwink the masses on the reasons behind the rising cost of living and inflation, has now resorted to scrap the offending consumer price indices itself.

Unable to counter the rising level of inflation, the government has decided to scrap consumer price indexes that have recorded high levels.

Pakistan: Gas supply to be restored partially

ISLAMABAD: Gas supply will be restored to 1,250 small industrial units by Sunday in Punjab and the NWFP.

The supply had been stopped because of rising domestic demands for gas in the wake of a recent cold wave in the country.

India: Buy into the future with crude oil

One of the most interesting commodities to trade in is crude oil and it has quickly become the commodity of choice for traders big and small.

Alaska: State may lose nearly $1 billion in oil taxes

JUNEAU -- Lawmakers started discussions on stripping key provisions from an oil tax increase and returning more than $800 million to North Slope producers -- just hours after one major producer posted record profits.

AFGHANISTAN: Emergency Services Collapse Under Bitter Cold

MAZAR-E-SHARIF, Feb 2 (IPS) - An unprecedented cold wave sweeping parts of Asia has been especially tragic in Afghanistan where emergency services have failed completely.

At least 3,000 people poured on to the streets on Jan. 27 in the northern border province of Jowzjan, asking the government for emergency aid in the wake of the severe weather, which has claimed at least 500 lives countrywide, mostly children.

Heavy snowfall over the past month in Afghanistan’s northern provinces has cut off most villages from the capital cities. People have run out of essential supplies because food and fuel supplies are not getting through, according to reports.

Montana mines consider expansion because of high metals prices

McCulloch said Montana’s metal mining industry is challenged by higher production costs and a shortage of capital. In Butte, a shortage of tires for large mining trucks is putting a damper on copper production.

“Tires that used to cost about $10,000 apiece are now $65,000, and they’re rationed,” McCulloch said. “Labor that used to cost $12 to $14 an hour is now up to $42 an hour plus benefits and bonuses.”

Bio-fuel bubble: India’s Jatropha woes

BANGALORE: The bio-fuel bubble built over the jatropha rage may not last long as the jatropha cultivation and production of bio-fuel from it is facing major hurdles now in India.

In-depth research into the field has shown that if the present trend continues, India’s bio-fuel plans may go haywire.

According to a Rabobank report, quoted widely by the media in India, lack of R&D, farmer-level support and questions over the commercial viability were enough reasons to dash the bio-fuel dream in India.

Managing Traffic in the Urban Age

The human species is, at this moment, in the process of becoming a mainly urban animal after a thousand generations spent mainly in rural conditions. Many economists and sociologists see this trend as our potential salvation in a world heading toward 9 billion people, although there are some big ifs.

Shortage of supplies drives up organic prices

NEW YORK -- True lovers of organic food have always been willing to pay more for it: They spend $3.99 on a half-gallon of organic milk when a whole gallon of conventional milk costs $1 less. But that devotion may soon be tested.

The forces that have driven grocery prices up sharply over the past year -- growing demand for food in China and a global biofuels boom -- have had an impact on the organic food market as well. Meanwhile, U.S. farmers haven't kept pace with demand for organic food, sales of which shot up 21 percent in 2006, and that has also sent prices soaring.

Motivated by a Tax, Irish Spurn Plastic Bags

DUBLIN — There is something missing from this otherwise typical bustling cityscape. There are taxis and buses. There are hip bars and pollution. Every other person is talking into a cellphone. But there are no plastic shopping bags, the ubiquitous symbol of urban life.

Heating oil prices spur wood stove sales

Having already pre-bought their oil for this winter, Borella said some homeowners are putting off buying a wood or pellet stove until summer.

But Borella warned that the price of stoves is likely to increase in the spring, driven by the cost of raw materials driven by China's demand for steel and cast iron.

To Pull a Thorn From the Side of the Planet

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. - THE Bonny Doon Garden Company, a downtown flower kiosk here, had signs posted all around it last week for Valentine’s Day, but the sales pitch wasn’t just about romance.

A bucket held red and fuchsia anemones that were “organic.” Ecuadorean roses the size of baseballs were “certified.” Roses from a nearby farm were “locally grown.”

Was the kiosk selling flowers, or lettuce?

Argentina Rises, Minus Its Swagger

As the Argentine author Tomás Eloy Martínez wrote in “Requiem for a Lost Country,” a nation once obsessed with its “greatness” is “obsessed by the fear of being thrown into irrelevance. ” Mr. Martínez wrote those words in 1993, before a crushing economic crisis in late 2001. In its aftermath, crime-filled slums sprang up and the country’s currency lost two-thirds of its value. Today, there are beggars in the streets of Buenos Aires; wealthy neighborhoods fall prey to thieves and crack-cocaine addicts.

For many prideful Argentines, the hardest thing to accept has been the inexorable rise of their much-larger neighbor and perennial rival, Brazil.

That rise, in the works for decades, was thrown into sharp relief with the discovery of a huge oil field off Brazil’s coast last fall, followed by a natural gas discovery two weeks ago just as large.

A Frail Economy Raises Pressure on Iran’s Rulers

TEHRAN — In one of the coldest winters Iranians have experienced in recent memory, the government is failing to provide natural gas to tens of thousands of people across the country, leaving some for days or even weeks with no heat at all. Here in the capital, rolling blackouts every night for a month have left people without electricity, and heat, for hours at a time.

The heating crisis in this oil-exporting nation is adding to Iranians’ increasing awareness of the contrast between their growing influence abroad and frailty at home, according to government officials, diplomats and political analysts interviewed here.

Not guzzling but still thirsty

A new federal fuel-efficiency law gives a break to makers of SUVs -- and the customers who, despite the rising cost of gas, can't live without them.

'Lifestyle' Outlet Malls: Today's Bell-Bottoms

Wrentham Village reflects the current fashion among retailers — the open-air, suburban "lifestyle center" — and it may last about as long as the height of the hemlines and the degree of the discounts found inside its stores. Not that this village-in-a-vacuum is badly designed or poorly built: As such places go, Wrentham Village has a more substantial feel than other outlet malls I've visited. But it stands at the end of an era, built on premises that some global forces may soon render obsolete.

Wrentham Village depends upon inexpensive oil, something that we almost certainly will never see again. As I drove into the parking lot, I noticed the sizable number of cars with license plates from neighboring states, and wondered when the day will come when it costs more to drive to such outlets that we can save on our purchases there.

Fog worsens travel nightmare in China

Huge cities have plunged into darkness, with parts of Chenzhou, a city of 1.2 million in central Hunan province, without power for eight days.

Photos posted on the Xinhua News Agency's Web site and taken Thursday night showed blocks of buildings plunged into darkness, their rooftops covered in snow. The only lights were those of trucks on the street.

Pakistan must remain a nuclear-armed state

One possibility may well be for the global powers to consider a civil nuclear energy programme for Pakistan, of the kind offered by the United States to India. In return, Pakistan can be asked to offer new safeguards, such as some agreement to cap its nuclear weapons at a mutually acceptable level which also applies to India.

The result could be the creation of a new nuclear regime in South Asia that would help improve the security situation in the region.

Nuclear Leaks and Response Tested Obama in Senate

Mr. Obama scolded Exelon and federal regulators for inaction and introduced a bill to require all plant owners to notify state and local authorities immediately of even small leaks. He has boasted of it on the campaign trail, telling a crowd in Iowa in December that it was “the only nuclear legislation that I’ve passed.”

...A close look at the path his legislation took tells a very different story. While he initially fought to advance his bill, even holding up a presidential nomination to try to force a hearing on it, Mr. Obama eventually rewrote it to reflect changes sought by Senate Republicans, Exelon and nuclear regulators. The new bill removed language mandating prompt reporting and simply offered guidance to regulators, whom it charged with addressing the issue of unreported leaks.

Uranium reserves in Mali 'highly encouraging': Australian company

DAKAR (AFP) — Australian mining company Oklo Uranium Limited said Saturday the result of prospecting for uranium in Mali was "highly encouraging", with widespread elevated uranium levels in the northeastern Kidal region.

Nightmare in Africa: the crisis in Darfur has spread to Chad

THE WEST'S worst nightmare concerning the five-year-old Darfur catastrophe in western Sudan was that the conflict would spill over into neighbouring Chad, creating regional chaos and making the Darfur situation even more intractable. The nightmare happened yesterday.

Chadian rebels, backed by the Sudanese government in Khartoum, completed a rapid, three-day, 510-mile advance west from Sudan and entered the Chad capital, N'Djamena.

Thousands of fighters from the United Front for Democracy and Change (UFDC) penetrated N'Djamena early yesterday in 300 vehicles, and spread through the city. Last night they were surrounding President Idriss Deby's palace, from where gunfire and explosions could be heard. State radio went off the air.

Key facts about Chad

Landlocked Chad became an oil exporter in 2003 with the completion of a $3.7 billion pipeline linking its oilfields to terminals on the Atlantic coast.

The Doba pipeline, operated by Exxon Mobil with partners Chevron Corp and Malaysia's state run Petronas, pumps around 160,000 barrels a day through Cameroon to the Gulf of Guinea.

Libya oil chief doubts OPEC will lower output

VIENNA (AFP) - Libya's oil chief Shukri Ghanem downplayed fears on Saturday that oil cartel OPEC could decide to lower production at its March 5 meeting in Vienna.

"I don't think much will happen (at the meeting). I think prices will stay between 85 and 90 dollars," Ghanem told AFP after an extraordinary meeting of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries in the Austrian capital.

Iran says French base in Gulf "not conducive" to peace

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran declared on Sunday that a French military base in the Gulf would not help security and peace in the oil-rich region.

Paris signed a deal with the United Arab Emirates in January to build France's first permanent military installation in the Gulf, just across the water from Iran.

The base will accommodate 400 to 500 personnel, keeping France within reach of sea lanes through which over a third of global oil shipments pass.

Matthew Simmons has posted a new presentation at his Web site: PEAK OIL - Is It Real? When Might It Occur?

Most Oil Pundits Scoff At Peak Oil Issue

● Energy optimists loudly deny that Peak Oil is a serious risk.

● CERA proclaims it is decades away and followed by lengthy “undulating plateau.”

Getting ready for the end of oil

Where will you be when all the oil is gone?

How will you get your food, heat your home and get to work?

We may not be around when the last drop burns away, but a 37-year-old Wayland Middle School teacher has taken on the task of convincing us to prepare for that day.

China disputes claim of coal shortage link to power plant closings

BEIJING (Xinhua) -- China's State Administration of Work Safety (SAWS) on Sunday disputed claims that coal shortages being experienced around the nation were related to a campaign to close small coal-fired power stations.

US nuclear power plants to get more Russia uranium

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. nuclear power reactors will be able to obtain more supplies of Russian enriched uranium for fuel, under a trade deal signed by the two countries late on Friday.

The agreement will provide U.S. utilities with a reliable supply of nuclear fuel by allowing Russia to boost exports export to the United States while minimizing any disruption to the United States' domestic enrichment industry.

Tesla to make gas-electric car

Tesla Motors, the people who put the all-electric car on the map, are going to work with gas too.

The San Carlos, Calif.-based company will produce two basic types of its Whitestar sedan, due toward the end of 2009. One will run completely on batteries. The other will be a range-extended vehicle, or REV, CEO Ze'ev Drori said in an interview. In an REV, a small gas motor recharges the battery pack while the car is being driven. The battery pack on these types of cars only goes about 40 to 50 miles on a charge, but because it gets recharged while driving, the range of these cars will be longer.

Gas-to-liquid fuel used in Airbus flight

Airbus tested gas-to-liquid fuels Friday on a superjumbo A380 in the first flight of a commercial aircraft using the potential alternative to regular jet fuel.

Qatar plans solar power plant

Qatar is considering building one of the world's largest solar power complexes to help meet demand, which could increase fourfold over the next 30 years, the Middle East Economic Digest (MEED) reported. Gulf Arab states have about 30 per cent of the world's oil reserves and eight per cent of its gas, but an economic boom spurred by record crude prices is driving demand for power and water so rapidly that many are considering turning to alternative energies including nuclear.

Green and naive

It's not easy being green, mostly because we're only green when it suits us to be. And I do wonder just how much good our individual efforts really do. It's all well and good being concerned about food miles, recycling, showering instead of having a bath, etc etc, but while we do all that with one hand, the other hand is busily snapping up cheap clothes and jumping in our Chelsea tractors to make the journey to the supermarket.

But why should we bother when our municipal masters are hopelessly inconsistent? At the beginning of January, a local authority in Kent approved a new coal-fired power station.

In yesterday's Drumbeat, mention was made of resistance to a wind farm in Maryland.

A Washington Post article on rising local electricity rates and potential blackouts in 3 years (new data centers are mentioned) in the DC Metro area.


It should be noted that utilities do not typically rotate blackouts throughsections of the grid that are generating power. Perhaps a "Last to Blackout" guarantee for wind farm neighbors could help overcome NIMBYism.

Best Hopes for MUCH more Wind Energy,

HAPPY MARDI GRAS (no SuperBore for me !)


"Day all axt fuh you

: I wennon down to dee Audubon Zoo
: An day all axt fuh you
: day all axt fuh you, (fuh who?)
: Well day even inquired about chuh'

: I wennon down to dee Audubon Zoo
: And day all axt fuh you
: Duh mounkeys ast, duh tiguhs ast
: And duh elephant axt me too

: Andouille

: Red beans. Rice.

: Bomp Bomp Bomp
: Buh Deeba Doomp Beemp Bomp
: Buh Deeba Doomp Beemp Bomp

: Es la bas (Es la bas) (Es la bas)
: Red beans n' rice
: Creole gumbo

: I wennon up to duh Big Ol' Sky
: And day all axt fuh you (fuh who?)
: day all axt fuh you,
: Well day even inquired about chuh


Hot boudin!
Cold coushe-coushe!
Allons, Tigres!
Push, push, push!!! (pronounced "poosh, poosh, poosh" to rhyme with coushe-coushe.

Now, since fewer speak French than when I went to LSU, and NEVER missed a home game in Death Valley, "Allons, Tigres" is "Come on, Tigers!"

Are there any other schools that cheer about food? Only in South Louisiana?

Only in South Louisiana. 8D

I think I actually have that song on CD if anyone would care for an MP3 of it :-) School yard songs of New Orleans, I believe that was the title ... a Putumayo effort.

LSU RULES!!! NCAA CHAMPS!!! OSU now 0 for 9 against SEC teams in bowl games. Geaux Tigers!!!

err...sorry, got a little carried away...pro football? Super Bowl? what is that? The Super Bowl was the BCS Championship Game.

My personal inclination (though I do not yet have solar panels on my roof) it to be a YIMBY. However, the idea that some large utility will own the wind in my neighborhood and sell it back to me as "green energy" is not the way I'd like this to break. I think the main reason renewables have been treated with such hostility by TPTB is that they are disruptive to big-business as usual.

Disruptive? no, profitable and growing much faster than thought.

GE Growing Their Green Side

GE Energy also said yesterday it’s investing in wind farm projects owned by Horizon Wind Energy LLC, a Houston-based developer that is a subsidiary of Energias de Portugal SA. The wind farms are in Illinois, Minnesota, Oregon and Texas.

As I was trying to say, I'm in favor of local, personal, home-owned renewables but regard megaprojects with faint praise. Generous Electric has been free to build windmills since the 1970's but in that time they have mostly built large gas turbines. Their primary market is big utilities and not individuals.

"As I was trying to say, I'm in favor of local, personal, home-owned renewables but regard megaprojects with faint praise."

why? scale is what we need and the companies like GE can deliver that. who do you think uses the power, martians? we use it. wind power hasn't seen much investment because energy prices were low. now they aren't and the magic of the magical thinking market.

When GE starts making these, you can get back to me on how green they are.

It sounds like you know what to do. Do what you can to get the monkey off your back, and get set up with at least SOME of your own generation.

Getting a bit of PV and Solar Heating onto MANY private rooftops is a form of Scaling Renewables that might be invisible to John in his tunnel vision, but the Yergins and the Raymonds don't stand to profit much if you're able to go to yourself as a 'Swing Producer of last resort', and they are not going to work to convince us to get there.

Let John keep paying the big guys he loves so much. You can pay yourself first.


the utilities have massive investments in coal, nuclear, ng (and hydro). my favorite theory is that wind power will be slow to emerge because it will take time to amortize these investments.
that doesnt prevent you from capturing the wind for your own use. the utilities control a lot of capital and individuals may have a hard time financing stable wind power.

In Europe at least renewables are mandated, which effectively tends to mean wind.

The cost here, at least in the UK look horrific:


This is according to Government figures.

Costs should be a lot lower in the US, at least where it is land-based, as you have good resources and plenty of places to put it, but if they are remotely approach ours it is an expensive option.

I like solar thermal in the South-West - that sounds the most economic option in the States for the time being.

I like solar thermal in the South-West - that sounds the most economic option in the States for the time being.

Offshore wind in the UK is considerably cheaper /MWh than existing solar thermal power.

There is a hybrid, solar assisted natural gas generation, that (depending upon NG prices) is higher but closer to wind.

Best Hopes for MUCH more wind,

And Happy Lundi Gras


It was the new builds in solar thermal that I was referring to Alan, which I hope will be a lot cheaper.

In any case lets hope they do better than wind so far in the UK, if these figures for subsidy are anything like right:


A lot of that is simply the result of very poor control of the subsidies though - our Government sets new standards for incompetence almost daily.

Good job your government guys are so efficient! ;-)

Just thought, AFAIK the £2m cost for the wind turbine does not include connection charges, which would be substantial for a distributed power source like this , or more accurately from government figures it would include only around £200,000 for connection.

This might move the date when investment is paid for if taken together with interest out by a few years, to perhaps around 8 years or so, a typical time required by industrial investment when choosing what to invest in.

It would also mean that the power is around two and a half times as expensive if subsidies are included as competitors.

The cost here, at least in the UK look horrific:

The link doesn't provide a cost per kWh, which is the only sensible measure. We can estimate one from their numbers, though:

  • Capital cost: 45B
  • Financing @ 6%: 75B total cost
  • Power: 10GW (33GW @ 30% CF)
  • Hours/yr: 8,760
  • Generation: 80,000 GWh/yr
  • Lifespan: 20 years
  • Total generated: 1,600,000 GWh = 1,600,000M kWh
  • Cost per KWh: 75B / 1,600,000M = 4.7c per kWh

Compare 4.7c/kWh to a retail price of 10c/kWh; even if previous methods of generating electricity were free, wind power wouldn't even lead to a 50% increase in rates.

Far from showing the price of wind power is "horrific", the information you link to shows it's pretty reasonable.

That was my own calculation - apologies if I did not make that clear.

My motivation in putting them 'out there' is precisely to draw the sort of response you have made - I am not an accountant, and have just done my best with the figures I have.

The figures you give though make no allowance for running the grid, or extending it as would be desirable to reduce intermittency.
They also make no allowance for back-up, and that would have to be substantial, although not one for one.

I was not explicit on those figures myself, but they are part of the reason I find the cost so excessive - it is a bare bones cost.

Maintenance is also not included, and in an off-shore location that is not going to be cheap.

You also amortise over 20 years, when the energy industry normally amortises over around 7 or 8 years.

when the energy industry normally amortises over around 7 or 8 years

Hardly !

Power plants in the USA are typically depreciated over their expected lifetime or 30 years if life is epxcted to be >30 years. Few assets are allowed lives longer than 30 years (in the USA).

EU seems to allow 40 and even 50 years depreciation.

Also, existing NG power plants can be used on cold standby for wind back-up (other than a 1% or 3% variation in unpredicted changes in wind output. For that the MASSIVE spinning reserves required for nukes can be tapped for a but of power minute by minute).


I placed my solar panels in a greenhouse(glasshouse) to protect them from hail. They appear to work optimally.

"With its humming data centers and air-conditioned mansions, the region is using 18 percent more electricity than in 2001."

Stories like this make it even more amazing that California has actually reduced per capita energy use, http://www.citris-uc.org/files/2006-06-20-CITRIS_Europe/6.1-PAUL-WRIGHT.pdf (slide p. 20.) And, http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4176/is_20070224/ai_n18638532 Excerpt: "The panel concluded that since 1974 California has held its per capita energy consumption essentially constant while energy use per person across the United States has jumped 50 percent overall. While the average American burns 12,000 kilowatt-hours a year of electricity, the average Californian burns less than 7,000."

Ah, but you forget how the Golden State population has exploded since 1974 - Many of them poor, living in crowded conditions. An interesting contrast to per-capita numbers might be the stats for change in energy consumption per household, by zip code.

I have lived in and regularily visited California for the last 26 years. I have also travelled extensively around the mid section of the US and don't see any fewer poor people in CA than in Illinois, Texas or North Dakota.

One big factor in lower electric power consumption is the higher rates in California - near $0.10 per kwhr versus $0.06 oer kwhr here in St. Louis.

You may also want to compare their heating and AC requirments to ST. Louis

I assume that since 1974 neither place has gotten any relatively hotter or colder so that should be a constant. the difference most likely is that california has higher prices so there is a greater need to conserve. they are also very forward looking on environmental policy which leads to less per capita energy use.

There were almost no A/C in 1974 anywhere in the US. I would speculate that almost all of the relative growth of consumption has come from the increased usage of A/Cs.

CA of course also had A/Cs installed, but due to its mild climate their per capita usage would be an order of magnitude lower than SL.

1954, not 1974, might be considered the start of the boom in residential air conditioning. By 1974 almost all homes in New Orleans, as an example, had at least a window unit.

Stepped back in home between parades for another beer, pit stop and TOD fix, I think I hear Thoth in the distance...



PS: My goal this year is >3,000 kWh for the year and less than >60 gallons of diesel. EER 12 Friedrich heat pump will help.

Makes sense that New Orleans would get it sooner than the rest of the country. When I grew up in Minnesota, nobody we knew had AC. Not even a window unit. Later I moved to Boston, and same deal. It wasn't until I moved to DC that I had AC for the first time.

I was unable to find statistics for the heating/cooling demand by state back to the 70s and now.

However my original claim holds true (for the most part):


In 1978 only 53.5% of the housing was with central or room A/Cs (I presume 1974 was lower than that)
In 2005 the percentage is 85%.

For the US Mid West the numbers are 56% in 1978 and 91.2% in 2005
For the US West (which lumps CA with states like NM, NV, AZ) the numbers are 32% in 1978 and 52% in 2005
The numbers indirectly prove that cooling/heating demands in the US Mid West are much higher than the US West

You also have to factor in the movement towards bigger and less insulated houses (and consequently bigger A/Cs) in the last 30 years - naturally this will affect more energy consumption in extreme climates vs milder climates.

I wish I found that statistics, but I would suggest that the logic behind my assertion is self evident.

In New Orleans, the addition of insulation to existing housing stock and the trend towards higher efficiency equipment would likely see a reduction in HVAC electrical demand since 1974.

HAPPY MARDI GRAS after by break between parades,


LevinK, we had central air installed in the house we built in Davis, CA in 1963, where we always had hot summers, often 95F+. Lived in CA about 36 of my 52 years. Experienced the Enronized Energy Crisis before selling into the San Jose housing boom and moving to Oregon. The San Jose house had central heat, but no AC, and was also built in 1963.

Intersting all these posts about air conditioning. In England hardly anybody has it, since it would be used too little for the expense. If gw theory is right would this change. What would the effect be on our emisions?

It depends on your energy source.
If you used coal, NG or wind power then it would cause more CO2 emissions, wind because when it is not blowing you would need back-up, which usually means fossil fuels.

For solar you don't loose anything, as it produces most in the summer - it is the winter it struggles with.
That is during the day, it depends on your back-up source for the night time.

Nuclear would be happy if more people in fairly cool climates like the UK used AC, it would actually help, as it would reduce the difference with the winter load, and nuclear does best when it is covering base load.
In a hot climate it would miss out, as the summer peak would be way above the winter load.

Purely from the POV of minimal CO2 releases and minimal storage/transmission requirements in hot climates base load of nuclear and peaking of solar would do best.

In cold climates from the same POV then the use of nuclear would be optimal, and it would pay to encourage the use of AC to minimise the difference with winter peak., which you would need with present technology to use coal or gas for.

Insulation and heat pumps etc would be the best way of minimising this.

This is an analysis purely in terms of CO2 emissions.

Geothermal would have similar characteristics to nuclear.

Thats interesting, some years ago I was involved in the promotion of Reverse-cycle air conditioners (what we call heat pumps in Australia). While we were promoting the cooling benefit of AC what we found was that people were using the AC for winter heating for much longer periods than for summer cooling. In the relatively mild climate in Australia the high installed base of AC may be bad for summer electricity demand but it is good for winter demand as AC's are significantly more efficient than other forms of heating.

A.C. became universal in Houston in the late 50's.

Hawaii - 1960s and 70s the house we lived in was built decades before, and no AC and no need for it - it was designed to let the air circulate. The place couldn't even be locked up in any meaningful sense. 1975 - new built house on land we got cheap (and got forclosed out of later) no AC. It was more modern and stuffier. Other places we lived after being foreclosed out of there were all 1920s and earlier, moved plantation workers' houses - moved onto cheap lots and rented dear to ppl on welfare. No AC and no need for it, the way they were designed. OUt on my own in 1980, rooming houses I lived in had no AC, and designed to be OK without it. I believe my first real apartment in Tustin, CA in 1987 may have had an AC unit but I never used it. Places I've lived since have had AC but either never used it or used it very little.

Hawaii has the hottest town in the US, by avg temperature. Schools, public buildings, etc never had AC in the 1970s or even into the 80s.

Yes the avg. annual temperature may be the warmest, but I have been in Hawaii in July and August it is like May and Oct in Houston. 90 to 95 degrees each day and sometimes higher from June 15 to Oct 1st, with 80 degrees and 100% humidity each morning at 7 AM is a far cry from Hawaii. Hawaii is a paradise compared to Houston in the summer.
If I lived in Hawaii I would have no need for AC.

I've got a cheap lot I'll sell you in Puna...

I agree. Heck, Hawaii is more pleasant than even the northeastern US in the summer. The tradewinds keep you cool. (You definitely feel it when they stop for some reason.)

I think it also helps that that climate doesn't vary much, and you get used to the warmth.

So, you spend much time cruising South Central? Maybe you just haven't seen all the segregated poor.

Stats are more useful than anecdotes, and people from south of the border have been crowding into California for decades like there's no tomorrow. I'm assuming that most are of lower means than the average non-Hispanic whites.


Demographics of California (csv)
Growth 2000–2005 (non-Hispanic white only) -0.91%
Growth 2000–2005 (Hispanic only) +16.36%

looking at the US and per capita energy usage the top ten are dominated by the Northeast. this probably is because of large populations, and a focus on efficiency and conservation based on higher electricity costs. Hawaii stands out. most likely this is because they probably have high electricity costs because they are an island.

I love what you guys consider high rates. We pay $.40 per KWH here. Thats twice what I used to pay for a gallon of gas.


Where are you?

Actually, average electric price in California is over 14 cents per kwh versus 10.6 nationally.

Energy use per capita in California: The coastal area has less need for heat and air conditioning than the northeast. You have to consider geographical factors.

I would be surprised in California uses less gasoline per capita. Any seen figures on this?

I'll bet California uses less gasoline per capita, because it's a poster child for the "Planet Of Slums" future, there are whole third worlds inside its major cities, and most of those people don't have cars. They walk, bus, or bike. They live 6 in a one bedroom apartment. They cook corn and rice and beans at home. They use very little.

If you've been indoctrinated right, they are indeed invisible.

I would be surprised in California uses less gasoline per capita. Any seen figures on this?

It uses 10% less per capita than the national average.

By a shocking coincidence, gasoline in California is 10% more expensive than the national average.

Pitt, those prices are $1.83 to $2.25. The article in the link is titled "Oil inches back towards $55" and is dated March of 2005. How is that relevant to NOW, three years later after multiple serious oil shocks? Further, your consumption chart is from 2004.

This document from the California state government itself documents California consumption over the last several years. Let's look at total gallons consumed:

2000 - 14.544 billion gallons annually
2001 - 15.117 billion gallons annually
2002 - 15.513 billion gallons annually
2003 - 15.661 billion gallons annually
2004 - 15.908 billion gallons annually
2005 - 15.937 billion gallons annually
2006 - 15.825 billion gallons annually

Your original statement appeared to be implying that gasoline usage in California was very elastic and that a 1% rise in price correlated to a 1% drop in consumption. You didn't say that but you pretty clearly implied it and if that's not what you meant, you really worded that poorly. Given that we all know exactly how precise you attempt to be, I can only conclude that you meant exactly what you implied.

Yet the state of California's own documents show that from 2000 to 2006 that total consumption increased by nearly 10%. However, this December 17, 2007 article shows that population growth over the same period has been about 11%. Thus consumption has dropped by about 1% per capita in California.

This California state government document shows that prices have risen from $1.35 per gallon at the beginning of 2000 to $2.60 per gallon at the end of 2006. (I stop at 2006 because that is where the consumption numbers stop as they are still gathering all their 2007 data however the 2007 price rise is serious and there is an apparent 0.3% decline in consumption due to another $0.50 rise in prices.)

So the data shows a per capita almost flat consumption pattern against a 100% rise in price. However, your offhand comment seems to imply that 10% higher prices would lead to 10% lower consumption. Nonsense! And clearly refuted by the data.

Clearly there are other drivers at work that lead to California having a lower gasoline per capita consumption than just price (or even price as a primary driver given that such consumption changed very little over a nearly 100% price change).

Rather than simply suggest that price alone is what leads to California consuming less gasoline (which is pretty clearly wrong), it might behoove us to discover what other cultural factors make California consume less.

The article in the link is titled "Oil inches back towards $55" and is dated March of 2005. How is that relevant to NOW

It's relevant because the costs in the system - primarily tax differences and shipping costs - haven't particularly changed in the last three years, so the difference will be roughly the same.

If you really think that California's gas prices or gas consumption has changed in a radically different manner from the national average over the last 2-3 years, feel free to provide data backing that idea up.

Your original statement appeared to be implying that gasoline usage in California was very elastic and that a 1% rise in price correlated to a 1% drop in consumption. You didn't say that but you pretty clearly implied it

You're reading far more into the few words I wrote than what's there.

I'm well aware that the price elasticity of gasoline is rather complex, with short-term rates in the range of 0.04-0.08 (according to discussions here), and substantially higher long-term rates.

Rather than simply suggest that price alone is what leads to California consuming less gasoline (which is pretty clearly wrong), it might behoove us to discover what other cultural factors make California consume less.

Straw man - nobody's suggested price is the only factor. There are lots of obvious factors - rich Prius-drivers is one, lots of enviro-lefties is another, population density is likely to be a third.

One thing that is not likely to be a substantial factor, contrary to claims made, is poverty rates, since California's rate is statistically identical to the nation's in recent years.


So, what's up with three undersea internet cables in the Middle East being "cut?"

"State-owned Dubai telecom provider Du and Kuwait's Ministry of Communications estimated Thursday that the problems might take two weeks to fix."

Ships will drag anchor and do things like that. We had one drag anchor across the CATS natural gas pipeline and shut us down for a long time:


Then there was the drunken ship captain who ran his boat into one of our platforms and shut us down:


Ships did not cause Internet cable damage (AFP)
3 February 2008

CAIRO - Damage to undersea Internet cables in the Mediterranean that hit business across the Middle East and South Asia was not caused by ships, Egypt’s communications ministry said on Sunday, ruling out earlier reports.

The transport ministry added that footage recorded by onshore video cameras of the location of the cables showed no maritime traffic in the area when the cables were damaged.


the-rage -

If the internet cables were not damage by ships, then by what?

Perhaps we can narrow it down to either i) Godzilla, or ii) a stealth attack by the US/Israel intended to harass/provoke Iran?

The depth of the cable at the point of damage should be very telling. If it is in relatively shallow water, then a ship dragging its anchor is a plausible explanation, but if it's in deep water (say over 1,000 feet), then it is highly unlikely that a conventional ship would have any business attempting to anchor. (Also keep in mind, that to anchor properly, a ship has to put out a length of anchor chain several times the anchoring depth, so ships are not too likely to attempt to anchor in very deep water.)

Four cables were cut in three locations I believe. What a coincidence.

there are no coincidences.

Thought it was strange Israel was not affected by this blackout of the net, considering it affected most of the Middle East.Could the war drums be pounding exponentially louder?

This youtube video below is extremely relevant considering what Saddam was up to before he got axed.Selling his oil for Euros.


Iran is now selling 60% of their oil in other currencies other than the dollar.

OPEC,Venezuala, and Russia wanting to do the same.
Nothing may come of this, of course. We shall see.

To bad Fox News will not cover this. It would be the story of the year.Maybe they could have a special halftime report on this during the Superbowl....But then again, the masses I'm sure would rather watch Tom Petty perform, or maybe even another apparel malfunction..


This was posted on Energy Bulletin today with lots of articles about the significance of, or lack of, the Iranian Oil Bourse.

Iran Oil Bourse to deal blow to dollar

Fri, 04 Jan 2008 20:45:41

Iran's Finance Minister Davoud Danesh-Jafari
The long-awaited Iranian Oil Bourse, a place for trading oil, petrochemicals and gas in various non-dollar currencies, will soon open.

Iran's Finance Minister Davoud Danesh-Jafari told reporters the bourse will be inaugurated during the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution (February 1-11) at the latest.

"All preparations have been made to launch the bourse; it will open during the Ten-Day Dawn (the ceremonies marking the victory of the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran)," he said.

The Minister had earlier stated that the Oil Bourse is located on the Persian Gulf island of Kish.

Some expert opinions hold inauguration of the bourse could significantly devalue the greenback.


This has been imminent ever since I started reading here last summer ... but it never seems to come to pass. Maybe this time its really here? And the cable cuts in the region? An attempt to head it off?

I'm counting three years now. I predict three more. I don't call it the Iran Oil Bore for nothing!

The ratio is 10 feet of anchor line per foot of depth for anchoring in open waters. 1,000 feet is way too deep to anchor in. Even 300 feet would be very deep.

This is interesting. The NANOG guys have been talking about this - failures are a normal thing, they're more visible in that region because of fewer and/or smaller circuits, and the word is the wind was blowing quite fiercely, at least in Dubai, which would contribute to anchor drag.

So ... test run for future disruption? Or just an accident in an underserved area?

It did seem very odd - three cables all damaged in such a short time frame.

But the first two were apparently damaged in the same incident. The third is relatively minor. Perhaps things like that happen all the time, and it's only news because of the disruption caused by the previous cable breaks?

It appears to be standard procedure, if you're starting a war.


A fourth cable has been damaged ... three I can believe a coincidence especially when two failures are very close, but this is ... statistically unusual.

A fourth submarine cable in the middle east was damaged Sunday between Haloul, Qatar and Das, United Arab Emirates.

This is in addition to the damage affecting FLAG, SAE-ME-WE4, FALCON cables.

Afer reviewing surveillance video of the area, Egypt's ministry of maritime transportation is reporting no ships were near the FLAG or SAE-ME-WE4 cables 12-hours before or after the cable damage near Alexanderia, Egypt. The reason for outage of the cables has not been identified yet.

"A communications disruption can mean only one thing - invasion."
-The Phantom Menace

(and if you want the Wav file, here you go..)

John Wyndham..."The Kraken Wakes"


Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action.
-- Ian Fleming, "Goldfinger"

Four times is ... ?

A pair of the events are likely the same failure mode, if the NANOG discussion is correct, and count as one event in my book. We assume its the United States maneuvering for troubles with Iran, but there are many other explanations. Perhaps the Iranians themselves engage in a covert false flag operation, seeking to increase international pressure on the United States ... they do have small submarines and mine laying capabilities. It doesn't take much to damage one of those cables.

We assume its the United States maneuvering for troubles with Iran, but there are many other explanations.

Indeed, including simply the fact that there are large numbers of incidents in which undersea cables are damaged every year.

According to this, you can expect about 1 human-caused fault per 1000km of cable per year. Since a single cable can be tens of thousands of km long, you would naturally expect to see scores of faults per year.

If there's about 50,000km of undersea cable in the area, then, you'd expect an average of one fault a week. The odds of three happening in the same week, then - assuming they're random, which is an underestimate (due to storms and the like) - is roughly 5%. The odds of that happening during some week in the year, then, is very high - > 90%.

Obviously, this is an unusually bad interruption in internet service for the area, meaning that the odds are lower than the above (since it doesn't happen every year). Nevertheless, the fact remains that if you see a lot of incidents per year, distributed more-or-less randomly, the odds of getting a cluster of incidents are pretty good.


(By the way, it's worth noting that the US never cut off Iraq's internet access - recall Blogging from Baghdad - so there's no particular reason to see this as a prelude to an attack on Iran.)

"...take two weeks to fix."

Watch how many problems get "fixed" or begin in the next two weeks
for your answer.

What's in the back of everybody's mind is whether this is a prelude to an attack or a warm up exercise for an attack. We know that some forces are still looking to engineer something like this. We'll see.

I posted some links to info on US Navy capabilities on page 3 of All internet traffic to/from Iran cut off. The submarine USS Jimmy Carter is set up for conducting tapping operations sans the need to sever cables, so rule that out. Billg has been posting news links as the arrive.

The first two were several km apart. The third was at a different location. Seems very unusual.

Does the United States Navy have resources to protect these electronic routes?

Perhaps the locations should now be made classified so that those who have an interest in damaging this infrastructure have a harder time doing it.

The routes are readily available as fishing boats present the greatest danger, with anchor drag from larger vessels coming in number two on the list. If you want to cause trouble cutting cables is a way to do it on the sly, but if you're going to make a mess and don't care who knows the cable stations are the place to do it - many lines converge in a single physical area.

FYI there has been one guerrilla attack on telco infrastructure where the communications were the primary target - Tamil Tigers took out a central office some years back. Those who engage in such strategies don't seem to focus on infrastructure, for which we should all be very grateful. I was in New York cleaning up after 9/11 and even months afterward it was a mess - power lines above ground with little "levees" of asphalt with a wood cover protecting them, circuits mysteriously going up and down, and in one notable instance getting to 111 8th Avenue from 60 Hudson required that traffic transit to San Francisco.

Here in the U.S. our infrastructure security depends on the assumption that we all live here, we're loyal, and mostly happy. Watch for changes in this area in the future ...

SCT that's something I've been saying for years. Our infrastructure is wide-open because it was all designed for a Leave It To Beaver or Mayberry RFD world.

That approach worked when we had the rule of the law here. We may very well see a different dynamic going forward ...

We may not be around when the last drop burns away, but a 37-year-old Wayland Middle School teacher has taken on the task of convincing us to prepare for that day.

This is the first press mention of "The International Conference on Peak Oil and Climate Change: Paths to Sustainability" that Local Future is hosting in Grand Rapids, Michigan on May 30, May 31, and June 1, 2008. Already, even before the official call has gone out, we've confirmed with several speakers, and we'll be contacting a few more next week. The official "call for speakers" is almost ready to go out as well.


The local U.S. Representative, Vernon Ehlers, a nuclear physicist PhD and former professor, is a member of the peak oil caucus, and a friend of Rep. Roscoe Bartlett. Here is what Ehlers says about peak oil.


Ehlers is one person we'll be inviting to give a talk on peak oil, and we'll be asking him to invite Rep. Bartlett as well. We'll be working on lining up speakers and getting the agenda set all throughout February.

Addressing doomer characterization...

Clarifications on "Getting Ready for the End of Oil"

I don't think that a 1 in 6 chance is "all but inevitable". If you had only one roll of the die on the game show to win the prize, would it be "all but inevitable" that you rolled the number?

From Calculated Risk:

Also in the UK, the WSJ reports: Citigroup Cuts Off Some U.K. Credit Cards

In a sign of more consumers losing access to loans, Citigroup Inc. has told some 161,000 credit-card customers in the U.K. that they can use their cards until the first week of March and then they'll no longer be able to tap the New York bank for credit.

Australia Sees Biggest Surge in Borrowing Since 1980

Is there any doubt in your mind now that Australia has a debt problem, just like America? The silver lining is that the government-fat with GST revenues, stamp duty, and resource royalties-only had to borrow $2 billion. Okay, maybe a lead lining. But you can see an obvious trend: Australians are truly, madly, deeply in love with debt.


The national news channels ITV and Channel 4 in the UK ran an interview with one young woman from my city. My wife returned from work yesterday informing me two of her work collegues had been informed their cards had been withdrawn. In all cases these users are hardly what one would describe as 'sub prime'. It looks like Citicorp are carefully looking at the profile of their user base but the criteria/reasoning appears to be not that obvious. It would appear it is not based soley on the default risk.

Channel 4 also mentioned a number of other card issuers in the UK that are reviewing/tightening their criteria

Citicorp, like many banks, is short on cash, so they have to cut back on loans. If a given bank loans our $10 of deposits for every one dollar of capital that the have, every one dollar of capital loss (from the mortgage meltdown) results in the bank cutting back on $10 of loans.

WT, I am not so sure the 1:10 ratio of reserves is in effect any more. The Fed has opened the windows and started the auctions...in effect, saying come and get it. Much of the collateral that the Fed is accepting is suspect at best.

What makes the Fed actions any more honest than the actions of the lenders and borrowers of sub prime loans and originators of the other bs derivitives? To put the best face on it at least the Fed is trying to stop lots of banks from going belly up. What happened to all the grown-up, tough minded bankers of our youth...you know, the guys behind the desks that flat out told us that without sufficient collateral there would be no loan forth coming?

The FED's H3 was released late Friday. It revealed that bank's non borrowed reserves have fallen to negative $8 billion as of Jan. 30. The required reserves are positive $40 billion. We are $48 billion below required. What is the reduction of loans based on this fact?

The leverage is more than 10:1. What reserve requirements? Here is a direct link to the page http://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/h3/current/

Many of the money center banks are the same ones who have made all this financial wizardry, or greatest theft in history, depending on who you ask, possible. Bank money laundering, ENRON, “special purpose entities”, all brought to you by the privileged banks. Learn a bit from someone asked to be a Federal Reserve board member who declined the invitation:

“Media revelations are unfolding daily regarding losses in the U.S. mortgage market. These losses are not a new phenomenon. Rather, they represent the latest phase in an ongoing tradition of institutionalized fraud in the U.S. mortgage system and the federal credit system that directly and indirectly guarantees it. An understanding of this history can mobilize public support for reforms that address root causes by reversing the profitability enjoyed by those responsible.”
--Where is the Money? Let’s Get it Back! by C.A. Fitts

Maybe they are looking at purging customers who don't generate profits. I.e. those who always pay their balances on time, so the CC company may end up losing money on them. The banks used to do that with regular banking customers, their computers would be programmed to identify customers that they didn't want to keep, and then the bank would start treating them badly, hoping they would go away.

Seems to be going both ways from what I see. I've had a couple of my credit cards canceled by the banks for lack of use.

But Chase sent me a letter begging me to use their card and asking me what I wanted changed.

In perhaps another sign of fiscal distress...my vet sent me a letter begging me to bring the cat in, and offering a 20% discount if I did. They've never done that before.

Looks like the cat's out of the bag, about the slowing economy.

Bitter,its taken a actual reverse of job number to get the administration to even admit the job numbers are a problem.I would bet some serious money we have been in tailspin in the real economy for quite a while now.

its taken a actual reverse of job number to get the administration to even admit the job numbers are a problem

Gov't officials always downplay economic issues because if they go on the record, people will cut spend exerbating the problems. They know that there are problems since they receive reports about the state of economy all the time. Its all about presenting an image of confidence, and every president has done the same (Democrats, Republicans, Whigs, Federalists)

Last week we got a call from Cisco offering us $500 in marketing funds to use any way we'd like. I find that sort of humorous, as we very noisily and publicly kicked them out over a year ago, and I formally closed the business down at the end of last September. The closure was primarily to put an end to the state of Nebraska's practice of assessing us 140% of the maximum sales tax bill we ever paid in months where we did no work in Nebraska at all. Iowa is nice to deal with - "Oh, you have revenue for us? Can we help you with the paperwork?", while Nebraska ... well ... I've got two customers there that still use my services but I'm very pointedly not interested in dealing with the state sanctioned pickpockets on that side of the river, so we've adjusted our offerings to avoid any sales tax liabilities there.

Some credit card issuers identify those that pay off their credit card balance each month as 'dead beats'. My wife and I pay off our cards each month so I suppose we fall into the dead beat catagory...but, if this is the case why are our card issuerers continuing to send us offers of new cards with lower rates? The offers we are getting are not 'teaser' cards/rates but fixed long term rates from two seperate credit union issuerers. Personally I believe that anyone that has access to a credit union should take advantage of their low fixed rate cards, no teaser rates, and the fact that they offer the bank to customer relationship that banks of yore did...at least, our credit union does...but I cannot speak for all.

Rates don't matter to me, because I don't carry a balance.

I like Discover and the Amazon.com Visa. Discover for the 1% cash back, the Amazon Visa because they give you 1% Amazon credit (3% if the purchase is through their web site). Both cards run "specials" - for example, giving you 5% back on gasoline and/or groceries for a quarter. Which card I use depends on which is offering better rewards at the time and for the purchase I'm making.

I will also add that Discover has been very good to me. Whenever I've had a problem, they've taken care of it, from merchant disputes to payments lost in the mail to overseas purchases to PayPal refunds. My experiences with MasterCard and Visa have not been nearly as positive.

I can't figure out why some of these companies keep sending me offers. I haven't carried a balance, or even had a car loan, in 10 years.

From my credit report they know what I do for a living, and that I'm good at managing my finances. Why waste the price of a stamp?

Health Physicists have such a bad (good?) reputation for frugality, that not a single hotel in Las Vegas would let us have our convention there.

It started when contract H.P. techs began to use rental rigs to play bumper cars.Then the "Hide and seek for a grand a week"It only takes a few bad outages at a few small towns to get a serious bad rep with the cops,the credit agents,the local singles bars female{and male}as well as most hotels,and rental agencies.Its well deserved. Or it was during the time of the 3 month TMI outages.Wild time,and some of the smartest,strangest best people as a group I ever worked with

I went to a Physics convention in Las Vegas back in 1986, and it was the same deal. Nobody really gambled very much, and certainly not very many high rollers. Some of us played the nickel and quarter slots for a bit - I guess because it was novel, but it seemed pointless after a short bit.

My understanding is that we were asked to not come back.

Yes, the poor unloved physicist.
Frugal, and so damn weird they belong in a circus sideshow.
I don't thing I've ever met one who wasn't a couple of standard deviations outside the norm.
(Except for me of course!!!)

That's why I like the credit union I belong to. They won't jerk me around like this..

Now that I've used a credit union, I'll never go back to a regular bank. None of the stupid games to nickel and dime you to death.

I wonder how they will fair during the current crisis. They seem to focus on car loans, and lately they have been advertising like crazy. A sure sign that business is bad.

those who always pay their balances on time, so the CC company may end up losing money on them.

FWIW: I HAD a CC with Citibank until about October, which I always paid in full and Ive had an account with them since the 1980's. Starting Early '07 they I started getting the statement a day or two before it was due. Which of course resulted in late charges. By October I had enough and I dropped them.

I have a Citi CC, but I always pay it online. I don't even pay attention to the paper statement. They also have due date email alerts.

enemy-of-state I agree. They're weeding out those who always pay off their balances each month - no profit in them. And weeding out those who look likely to just default and go live in a cardboard box. What's left is the juicy middle, the credit addicts, those who use the cards, carry a balance, keep finding ways to make those huge payments each month, and aren't smart enough to just well...

Up and quit and go live in a cardboard box!

Why the global crisis is about to hit home hard

For most of us in Britain, this has been a compelling drama, but nothing really to do with us. Talk of Libor (the London interbank offered rate), monolines and credit default swaps goes over our heads. Part of an exotic world far from the real economy, let alone our salaries.

Until now. For, what has become clear in the past week or so is that this is not just about US mortgages, or turbulence in the international derivatives market, but a systemic crisis of the global economy. And we can't escape it. Last week, the Financial Services Authority said a million subprime mortgage holders in Britain were facing ruin. Britain is about to rediscover the meaning of negative equity as the property bubble deflates and exposes all those dodgy mortgages from the likes of, well, Northern Rock. The banks are refusing to lend on the old throwaway terms, and the number of new mortgages approved fell to a 10-year low last month.

Maybe, just maybe, a leader is emerging that is intelligent, compentent, tough minded, and wants to save the world financial system. We can only hope...but, even if Mr Kahn gets the fiscal policy he is pushing for, will it be enough?


and the World is Starting to Hear of
Dominique Strauss Kahn
by Monty Guild
Guild Investment Management, Inc.
February 2, 2008

'We suspect that he will be more famous than Britney Spears (among the intelligentsia of the world) before the current derivatives crisis is over.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn is the well respected new head of the Bank for International Settlements. His statements will be heard again and again around the world. He has said that he does not think we would get rid of this crisis just with monetary tools. A new fiscal policy is probably an accurate way to answer this crisis'...snip...

'If we may say it in a humble way, Mr. Strauss-Kahn is endorsing the type of program that we have suggested in these pages several months ago. As the brilliant Jim Sinclair, and others including ourselves have been pointing out for years, over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives, are threatening to bring down the world financial system. This current crisis revolves around mortgage-related derivatives, but it is bringing to light a web of counter-party risks created by other derivative instruments.

Governments have rightly panicked and central banks are moving rapidly to provide liquidity to the system. But as we have been pointing, individual country's monetary policy [inflating the currencies and lowering interest rates] alone is not enough to staunch the bleeding.

Mr. Strauss-Kahn is suggesting that fiscal policy by major governments must also be a major part of the solution. This is not trivial, he went onto say that the IMF would release new global economic data showing a "serious slowdown and it needs a serious response". Mr. Strauss-Kahn is more than a financial heavyweight...he is a responsible one. One who wants not to make money or garner prestige for any country or institution, but one who wants the world financial system to survive. Thus, he has pointed out the solution.


We have argued that the governments and central banks in the U.S. and Europe, and possibly places like; Japan, Australia, and Canada, will need to buy debt and/or take over bankrupt banks and financial companies. Of course the debt that they buy will be worth less than they pay for it and the companies they take over will be bankrupt, but a lot of the losses can be recovered with a return of confidence in the markets and a new wave of capital from government sponsors'

'The taxpayers will foot the bill, some of which will be recovered with a return of confidence and rationality in the markets and with punishing of the fraudsters who caused the problems in the first place'...snip...


I want to see a substantial portion of the prison population doing hard time for financial fraud before a bailout with taxpayer monies is even thought of.I want to see a bankers do the same time as a drug dealer

snuffy -

Nowhere is the true face of the US class system more clearly in evidence than in the sentencing of criminals.

An armed ghetto youth knocks over a convenience store for the $100 in the cash register, and he gets 10 to 15 at some crowded hell-hole prison, provided his overworked public defender can plea-bargain the sentence down from something a lot worse.

A CEO defrauds retirees out of billions of dollars of their life savings and after his high-powered legal team takes years exhausting all his appeals, he might get 5 years or so at some 'country club' detention facility such as Allennwood, PA, and be eligible for parole in a few years.

The powers that be are quite loathe to put members of their own class behind bars unless i) they are members of the opposing political party, or ii) there is a highly publicized scandal that would make it highly embarrassing not to do so.

The US is rapidly evolving a dual legal system: one for Us and one for Them.

“Our minds are adapted to a world that no longer exists, prone to misunderstanding, correctable only by arduous education, and condemned to perplexity about the deepest questions we can entertain”
Pinker, Blank Slate

When this becomes unbearable,as it rapidly is,this is when things begin to break.TPTB can get away with a lot,but there is a point past which free men,with arms cannot be pushed.
I shudder to think how some Iraqi war vets will react to the treatment they have received when they return.They are politically aware in a way that was not the case in Vietnam There is a steel shop I have visited on a regular basis which employs several.Quiet,deadly rage at the government covers it.Were these guys so inclined bad things would start happening.Very bad things.I can see a lot of these guys who have been stone mis-treated by TPTB coming home with a very very bad attitue.And looking for some answers they wont like much.Look out then.

I agree about the class thing,But should we head into a real serious financial situation,the public will want blood.and may get it,

Snuffy you are right. Vets get treated like dirt in the US because they're considered to be working-class, and overwhelmingly are. Sure, you may get a few literature majors straight out of Harvard joining the grunts, but it's very very rare. There's an instinctive hatred between the working-class and the Owners in the US, and it's becoming less hidden. The Owners would be smart to treat the working-class, especially those well versed in warfare, well. But they won't, they'll continue to treat them like dirt. The French Revolution could not be avoided either.

I don't think house prices in Britain can turn negative. With immigration out of control the demand for housing will continue to increase.

Not if they can't afford to pay.

I believe the next step in the housing market crisis will be caused by further reduction in demand, due to the fact mortgage lenders will stop almost all lending if/when it becomes apparent that house prices are going to continue falling, at increasing speed. Who in their right mind lends large amounts of money to someone to buy a rapidly depreciating asset? You would be taking a major gamble on the borrower continuing to make their repayments in such circumstances.

The Automatic Earth: Debt Rattle, February 3 2008

On this Sunday, we do some longer background articles, and we look around the globe a little: the UK, Canada (our own homestead), and, because it's unknown and surprising, we open with the financial meltdown in Iceland. Because, as we have said time and again: this credit crunch will come at you from many different directions, all mutually reinforcing. Positive debt feedback.

In Europe, we should all be very afraid of what's about to come down -soon- in Iceland, Ireland, Spain, and probably most of all, the UK. And don't be surprised if another country there, Greece or Italy perhaps, crashes first. The only EU members that still look relatively strong are the usual ones, the large and prudent exporters Germany and The Netherlands, maybe France. But above all, watch the UK.

David Rosenberg, chief North American economist at Merrill Lynch, outlines the madness ultra-low interest rates in the early 2000's did to U.S. consumers. The federal funds target rate bottomed at 1% in the summer of 2003, the lowest in a generation.

Mr. Rosenberg, calculates the debt-service-to-income-ratio — interest and principal payments siphoned from after-tax earnings — has now soared to a near-record of 14.3%. That means 14.3¢ of every after-tax dollar of income earned goes to debt service. The aggregate household debt-to-income ratio soared to 138% in the third quarter of 2007 from 101% at the end of 2001, an increase equal to all of the last 40 years combined.

“We have taken out so much debt as a society to finance a consumption boom and asset boom...that total interest payments are a bigger drag today than they were 25 years ago when the prime and conventional mortgage rate were both north of 16%,” Mr. Rosenberg said in a research note. “This is rather unbelievable.”

Thanks for the post Ilargi. I knew the household debt had increased a lot in the last few years but had no idea it was such a huge increase. 14.3% per household for after tax debt service? No way is that sustainable unless super inflation arrives and wages increase in lock step...I dont see that happening. If wages did increase in lock step the household debt could be paid down in inflated dollars through inflated wages. I cannot see our government letting its citizens do that. Paulsons pals on Wall St would not like it.

Britain could go like the US. Like the US we have no room for fiscal stimulus since the Government never used the good times to put our finances in order.

More from the BBC:

Egg has given some customers 35 days notice
Angry customers of internet bank Egg have hit out at its decision to cancel their credit cards.
Egg says 161,000 cards belonging to people whose credit profiles have deteriorated since they signed up will stop working in 35 days' time.

But people who insist they have good records have been contacting the BBC to say they are on the list.

Gillian Cox, of Farnham, Surrey, said she was "absolutely furious" to learn her credit card had been cancelled in what she described as an "unbelievable arbitrary action".

Mrs Cox said she and her husband are "retired, no mortgage, no debts" and "always paid the balance off in full each month". She added that she had contacted credit reference agency Experian who said she was marked as having an excellent credit rating, "thus totally negating Egg's claim that this measure is about credit risk".

A spokesman for Egg said: "We are sorry some customers are upset after receiving notification we are ending their credit card arrangement, but they are people we do not feel it is appropriate to lend any money to."

He added: "The decision was taken after an extensive one-off review of our credit card book following acquisition by Citigroup."

"We can certainly understand the concerns, but even if people are up-to-date with repayments, they are people we decided we no longer wish to lend money to regardless of their status."


If anyone has been taken over by a US company, this sounds typical. They don't wait a year making careful changes, they go mad with an axe. Employees and non-profitable accounts are chopped in short order. People arrive in the morning and are gone by lunchtime.

Recently Tesla motors has been chopping employees, including its founder. The management started off by firing the HR department, then realised they had no-one to write termination letters ;)

I don't see why anyone who really has no debts would get worked up about a cancelled credit card. Get an Amex and pay the $55 a year, they won't cancel on you.

'Mrs. Cox said she and her husband "are retired, no mortgage, no debts" and "always paid the balance off in full each month".

There is another way to look at these cancellations by the credit card companies, especially those in the catagory of Mr and Mrs Cox. They are retired and are dependent on some form of (probably) fixed retirement income plus maybe some savings. If the credit card companies see super inflation in the near future it would make sense for them to cancel people in the Cox families situation. The credit card companies know that the Cox family will continue to use their credit card if super inflation arrives and they also know that there is little chance that the Cox family will ever be able to pay off the balance on their credit card if they are paying super inflated prices and will probably declare bankruptcy at some future date. So, the smart move for the credit card companies is to cancel the retirees now before super inflation starts, thus eleminating them as a future risk...Just one possibility.

Chase is acting funny for me, too - I believe their name came up along with Citi in discussions yesterday.

Chad's a big deal.

Things like this happened in 1975 as well.

Agreed. Now that the Darfur disaster has spilled over into a country with Oil, it will probably get a lot more international attention than it did before.

Cynicism runs thick these days.

South Africa, Iran, Pakistan, and China all under electric power stress at the same time? That would be one former nuclear power, three current, three regional powers, and one regional well on the way to having global reach. One has to wonder how much back channel discussion there is about 5% of the world's populace using 25% of the available energy ...

This is unspeakably grim. We often talk about the dangers of conspicuous preparedness on a neighborhood level and here we sit, with every light in the place on while others are shivering in the dark. Its a recipe for disaster with eight years of ham handed foreign policy from the Bush administration having wrecked our reputation on a global basis.

I have a young man who will be draftable in 2014 and I cringe every time I see this stuff, because I'm sure he is going to have to handle an ammo box because my generation failed to provide proper supervision via the ballot box.

I, too, have two sons who are 13 and 17. And that is one of my biggest fears. I just bought 13 acres not far from New York City and am planning to engage them heavily into producing produce. We just bought the land last fall and plan to offer a CSA to 50 members. So, far we six people signed up without any advertising (and no, none of these are family members or friends) just through a listing on Local Harvest -- a really great website. I'm hoping that food production and those engaged in it will help keep them "on the farm" in times of trouble.


There's a CSA fair in Portland Maine next weekend, for any in this area who might be curious..
At the First Parish UU Church on Congress St, Feb 10, 1p-4p

Bob Fiske

CTL, I knew that shit was coming.

Air Force Coal-to-Liquids vs. Subway to Dulles

The linked article above notes that

Air Force officials have laid out an ambitious plan to develop a privately financed coal-to-diesel plant at Malmstrom air base within the next four years at a cost of $1 billion to $4 billion...

By 2016, the Air Force wants to use a synthetic jet fuel blend for up to 50 percent of the fuel used by its domestic fleet. That would require roughly 400 million gallons of coal-based fuel annually.

I divided 400 million gallons by 42 and 365 and got 26,092 barrels/day.

The $900 million federal contribution for the subway to Tysons Corner and Dulles that was recently refused would save 20 to 25,000 barrels/day permanently (more in an oil supply emergency).

Best Hopes for Logical Allocation of Resources,


Air Force Coal-to-liquids:

"...This state has great open meeting laws. The federal government should honor those," she said.

Col. Bobbie Griffin, Anderson's senior assistant, said the Air Force wanted to offer companies interested in the project an opportunity for candid discussion absent a public spotlight.

"We've got nothing to hide," Griffin added.....


Are we supposed to believe that the $4billion will really be private equity? Guaranteed by some scam on the taxpayers like everything else these folks do, no doubt.

The relentless pressure is so discouraging. I know I am a mouse being played with by a peculiarly sadistic cat.

Obama, after originally supporting CTL without reservations changed his position to the effect that CTL is ok as long as it saves 20% in greenhouse gases. I guess he should be speaking out now but we certainly won't get the opportunity to hear his views given the sorry state of the media. If elected President, of course, he will shut down this project immediately, kind of like President Bush was going to cut back on greehouse gases. Sorry for the cynicism but I guess I'm just a bit burnt out because of the last 7 years of hell.

AlanfromBigEasy -

This whole Air Force CTL scheme reeks of big-time pork!

One first has to realize that the Department of Defense is not just comprised of military people but is also populated by all manner of civilian and semi-civilian (ex military, 'revolving door' types) technocrats just dying to find a new technological field to colonize.

For example, when the environmental field was hot in the 1970s, all sorts of DOD people were looking for ways to get involved.

Of course, if the DOD really wanted to conserve on precious fossil fuel, it would take a good hard look at the huge amount fuel it is pissing away in Iraq and Afganistan, plus at all our other overseas bases.

Well, one thing we can be absolutely certain of: if the DOD is involved in the construction of a CTL plant, it will cost at least three times what a private-sector plant would cost.

This is exactly the sort of thing that drives me to despair: a huge amount of money and effort expended on something not only unnecessary but actually counterproductive.

Not if its privately financed. It will cost the least possible, and get a fat cost-plus contract with the Air Force that guarantees 25% returns on capital. The project will be financed with bonds paying 6.5% (high quality due to government contract), and the people who set up the deal -- those technocrats in the DOD, or their cronies -- will enjoy 25%-6.5%=18.5% returns on $1.4B while putting no money up. That's $259 million of pure profit per year, by the way.

That's how the big boys steal from the government. None of this $400 toilet seat stuff.

What do you expect? The peak oil community is adamant that the free market can't solve peak oil. So voila, the government steps in with pork. You get what you ask for.

It's all there in the peak oiler Bible, the Hirsch Report, which calls for a government crash program of CTL. It's called "mitigation".

"What do you expect? The peak oil community is adamant that the free market can't solve peak oil. So voila, the government steps in with pork. You get what you ask for."

Yes folks, you heard it here first - government pork is the fault of the PEAK OIL COMMUNITY!

But wait, there's more! A peak oiler Bible!

JD, please get some sort of a life and stop trolling TOD with a**holish posts like this.

government pork is the fault of the PEAK OIL COMMUNITY!


If you're claiming that:
-A crisis is imminent
-We as a society need to do something about it
-Because the free market can't handle it...

Then you're calling for government pork.

Try putting two and two together, a**hole.

Yes we are - so what?

Let try this

1) Get out of Iraq and stop funding Haliborton and Backwater with no bid contacts to cut spending

2) Raise gas taxes to get use to a non cheap oil world

3) Use said taxes to pay down debt

----???? Pork????

What if the government doesn't let you build wind turbines because they're a threat to national security?

Too funny ... maybe an aircraft would approach ... but peak oil is certainly coming and sooner rather than later.

Then you install cute little ones instead :0

Have those things been tested independently? I am told there is a lot of snake oil used as lubricant in the small vertical axis wind turbine market - many of them are little more than decorative spinners. They look the least sketchy of the ones I've seen and Paul Gipe hasn't taken the time to stick pins in them ... perhaps there is some hope with these.

And they build verticals as large as four megawatts, which I only just learned of ... I'd always thought they were a small capacity only sort of device.


Leanan has a nice picture of some defunct horizontal axis turbines as well. I think the little spinners are at least cute. The big ones, not so much.

Leanan's turbines were built when there were subsidies and maintenance stopped on them when the subsidies stopped. I'm not sure wind energy will be much more than a fad in the long term.

I'm not sure wind energy will be much more than a fad in the long term.

With the possible exception of fusion, no other technology can force wind out of the marketplace. It is crossing the technological & economic threshold. Every year will see the technology mature a bit more, the cost per MWh drop (absent shortage associated cost increases).

In the years when the USA renewable energy credit expired, the # of WTs installed dropped by over half :-(( BUT they were still installed.

Subsidies are required for 40% annual growth in wind energy, which we badly need, but not for wind to remain an energy option.

The towers and electrical infrastructure will last past the first WT. The WTs installed today will see a second WT installed on the tower that just went up. The economics of replacing a 1.5 MW WT with an improved 1.8 MW WT in 28 years (same tower, etc.) are quite good.

Best Hopes for MUCH More Wind, and Subsidies to speed them up,


Oh, and thanks for the link to the Paul Gipe site. Interesting assortment of big eggbeaters there. According to their website, Windside has been supplying turbines to power electronics for oceanographic buoys. So I'd guess that they are ruggedly designed in addition to being cute.

I'd just like to put one of the Windside turbines on my mchouse to shock my mcneighbors. I don't live on a hilltop and there probably isn't much wind energy here.

Yeah, there is quite a fashion for installing urban windmills where the wind don't blow.
Some people will believe anything.
They can store them where the sun don't shine as far as I am concerned!

There's an article on Bloomberg about Miami Beach needing to import 120 million dollars worth of sand to replace a strip 200 feet by ten miles eroded from in from of such icons as the Fontainebleau Hotel. They want some sort of government help. Of course it will just erode away again, but... when you build your business upon shifting sands you shouldn't be asking for a handout for the rich. They want to haul the sand from Mexico or wherever. Don't expect sanity to break out any time soon.

I hate to break it to you Petrosaurus but beaches all over Florida have been getting subsidized sand for as long as I can remember. I think the only reason that Bloomburg picked up the article about Miami Beach sand is that it will have to be imported from outside the US...perhaps the Bahamas or elsewhere in the Carribean. Yes, it is insane.

Even more insane is that homeowners living in Central Florida pay more for their home insurance so that those living on the coast 'will not be burdened by extremely high insurance costs'. Hey, if they can afford to live on the beach, let them pay for the risk they take...they certainly can afford it.

Florida is on the verge of getting hammered by all manner of financial problems. In fact, it has already started with a budget shortfall of over $2 Billion (that they admit but based on faulty revenue estimates) and the meltdown of the 'state fund' that contains toxic CDOs...and it is just beginning.

And it's the same in Hawaii. Waikiki was a swamp, before they drained it and brought in the sand.

Wai is "fresh water" ... does this mean "kiki" is swamp?

Waikiki means "spouting water," which gives a hint of what it was like before they dug the Alawai Canal and drained the wetland. The name refers to the numerous springs that once fed the wetland.

I thought "wai" denoted fresh water and "kai" was for salt, per discussions with some folks I worked with while I was there.

So Waikiki must mean "spouting fresh water", which would be springs like Leanan sez.

Whereas my town across the mountains, Kailua, would be dirty saltwater.

I was back in Hawaii for 4 months, in 2003. One of my very first jobs in 1980 after getting done with army reserve training was working at the "Blue And White Shop", a hot dog concession at the ground floor of one of the hotels. I'd get free lunch - a hot dog. I remember walking across what seemed like a good 100 yards of sand to sit nearer to the water to eat it.

In 2003 there was hardly any sand - 10 yards at low tide? There's a little police station there, and the water's really nearby, it's weird.

It's more complicated than that. Hawaiian has several different words for water. And Hawaiian words have multiple meanings. Wai can mean just about any fluid except seawater (including juice, sap, blood, and semen).

Kailua means "two seas." Or maybe "two currents."

Thanks for the news about Florida beach subsides. I'd be willing to bet that Petrosaurus knew about this all along.

Speaking of disappearing sand anecdotes.... In Sarasota Fla where I went to college (ca 1968) there was a big high rise condo on Siesta Key that had several hundred feet of beach. Story went that upcurrent was built a big artificial key upon which to build a big development (I think it was Bird Key). This changed the current sufficiently so that the beach in front of the condo gradually disappeared. I'm sure many lawyers got rich on this one.

On a VERY off topic note, here is a link to a new CD release (#4) out this week, from the band Shad-Rapp, which is my brother, myself and 2 friends :-)

Get that Bass

It's just too bad that your groupies are all rednecked teenage boys.


Country music is the only kind that doesn't completely ignore the presence of the working class in the US. I can watch CMT and hear/watch songs about guys pissing off the yups driving their ag equipment down the road "5 miles an hour with my plower" lol. About shift work, etc.

Contempt for country music and the people who listen to it is Politically Correct in the US, but the country singers sure seem to be having the most fun and speaking the most genuinely for their listeners.

And of course there's the ultimate anti-elitist show, Country Fried Home Videos, that is one great show.

"Baghdad says it protested Iranian abuses of Iraqi oilfields"

This is a particularly painful irony, since this very complaint was a main reason (or pretext) for Saddam's invasion of Kuwait.
I can see the Saudis engaged in some serious diagonal drilling, but do the Iranians even have the technology and equipment to do so? And is this complaint also intended as a veiled threat to Kuwait?

Surely the Iraqis can get away with any protest, no matter how fraudulent, provided that the focus is Iran. The Occupying Force would be less sympathetic to claims against the house of Saud.

Didn't notice your comment on this issue before posing my own, below. I didn't overtly consider the possibility that this might be just another fraudulent claim, which given the circumstances of the U.S. Administration's saber-rattling, ought to be kept constantly in mind. Recall that in the past year or so no less than three people who have served on the U.S. National Security Council, including Brzezinski, have warned that the Administration might use some manufactured incident as a pretext for war with Iran.

On the other hand, the specific dispute is of a nature that might arise between any two fields in different countries as close together as Azadegan and Majnoon.

Air Force pitches coal-to-liquids plant

The plant, which would be among the first of its kind in the nation, would use a technology perfected in Nazi Germany to turn coal into synthetic fuels, including jet fuel for use by the Air Force.

hmmm ... is the article's author MATTHEW BROWN flying too near the candle flame of desire ... "the love that dare not speak its name". Lord Alfred Douglas

Homestretch here for Phoenix area's light-rail system

the long transition continues.

Not operational until 27 Dec 08? Well, good for them, but I wonder if their system will be able to deal with the nature of Phoenix. By that I mean, having lived their once, that if there is one place on Earth that seems least conducive to a successful rail program it would be Phoenix. How many people live within one block of a train stop? When it is 115F outside, do you expect people to walk 10 blocks to catch the train - especially as there is only one line and it probably doesn't go to where you want?

y that I mean, having lived their once, that if there is one place on Earth that seems least conducive to a successful rail program it would be Phoenix. How many people live within one block of a train stop?

1. at least phoenix is building rail.

2. I don't know anything about this project, but it sounds like it's meant to bring people too and from their homes in the burbs too work or too downtown at night.

3. if the car situation of suburban phoenix is as bad as people say this is the best place to have a light rail system in a crisis.

The first (of several) Light Rail lines in Phoenix will be a slightly twisted "L". Bottom will connect Mesa with Tempe and go right through Az State Univ. and then cross lake and pass close to airport (xfer to second people mover to airport, stupid IMHO) then north of "river" to downtown (very small for city of Phoenix's size) , then heads North on Central Ave. (St. ?).

The section from Airport to Mesa should do well, university students AND employees are typically good riders with a fall off in summer (heat + fewer students). Also I think US Airways HQ will connect (with xfer) to Airport.

I wonder if there will be enough TOD and enough jobs in downtown to attract enough passengers for other half of line.

Another pause between parades :-)


for my Fat Tuesday morning plans,


Here's my Peak Oil 'Hail Mary' pass.

Closing the CO2 loop with solar(kinda).

There's nothing wrong with coal with proper CO2 sequestration.
In fact, I think it will be key to the solution of the energy problem following George Olah.

The lastest concentrated (high temperature)solar cell technology using a gallinium-arsenic-potassium substrate can change carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide which can be water-shifted to produce methanol. Stoichiometrically, for every ton of coal burnt you could get 2.66 tons of methanol which is the equivalent of 2.8 barrels of oil. Methanol can be burnt in E85 vehicles at 12% efficiency or in PEM fuel cell vehicles at 50% efficiency. When a ton of methanol is burnt it gives off 1.375 tons of CO2 which is much less than a ton of petroleum at 3.07 tons of CO2.

Carbon monoxide can also be fed to methanogenic bacteria to produce methane, but I imagine that any biological process will be less efficient than an industrial one.

If all coal burning plants, burning 1 billion tons of US coal captured their CO2 by IGCC and piped their concentrated CO2 to solar-methanol plants we could create 2.6 billion tons of methanol(7.2 billion barrels of oil equivalent energy per year the same amount we use today ).

I realize that creating hydrocarbons like this will add to the atmospheric but we will have substituted the carbon dioxide from oil with carbon dioxide from coal fired electricity, reducing our overall emissions by 1/3, while producing the liquid fuels we need, bringing us well below Kyoto and ending our dependence on oil.

Most of the prime concentrated solar sites are located in the Southwest plus northern Mexico, not terribly far from the coal fields of Wyoming/ Montana and the oil fields of Texas. There are extensive CO2 pipelines in those areas as well. We can also move CO2 gas through natural gas pipelines.


I don't know the efficiency of CO2-CO cells or the water-shifting reaction but if they are only even 5% efficient in those high insolation areas might take up a couple hundred square miles. (40 quads per year x 300Twh/.05Mwhper year-meter sq.=160 million square meters-90 sq. mi.?)
to convert all that CO2 into all that methanol.

Any opinions?

Go Giants!

majorian -

You asked for some opinions, so here's mine.

First off, this whole concept of generating CO from CO2 using a special type of solar cell is still at the level of pure laboratory-scale research. It's got a long way to go before it can even be proven whether it might be viable on a commercial scale. Maybe it will; maybe it won't. But, more important, I think we need to take a closer look at the basic concept you outline.

At the risk of being a party-pooper, I find the very concept of taking CO2 from the combustion of coal and using solar energy to make CO and then using that CO (plus hydrogen) to make methanol to be a highly dubious proposition. The reason I say this is that i) there are easier routes to methanol, and ii) better uses of solar energy.

A conventional solar cell directly produces energy in its most widely usable form, i.e., electricity. To me it seems retrograde to use the energy from a solar cell to produce a chemical that will have to be combined with another chemical to produce a fuel, with no doubt all sorts of serious energy losses all along the way, and to then burn that fuel in an internal combustion engine.

To use an agricultural analogy, this strikes me akin to growing grapes as food for hogs instead of using the grapes to make wine.

But that's just my (hopefully) somewhat iinformed opinion. However, in the interest of full disclosure, I am also of the opinion that carbon sequestration is also a highly dubious proposition that would be tremendously wasteful of precious energy and which, in reality, would probably have a barely measureable impact on reducing atmospheric CO2.

Thanks for your reply.

"A conventional solar cell directly produces energy in its most widely usable form, i.e., electricity. To me it seems retrograde to use the energy from a solar cell to produce a chemical that will have to be combined with another chemical to produce a fuel, with no doubt all sorts of serious energy losses all along the way, and to then burn that fuel in an internal combustion engine."

I think your objection is based on the idea that we can store highly variable renewable electricity in batteries and the electron economy is an established fact. I don't buy that approach. To be honest even in batteries, the energy is stored
in the chemical electrolytes.

The life cycle of batteries is poor, IMO, lasting at most a few years and the energy lost in charging and discharging brings the efficiency of stored electricity down to about 50%.

I prefer methanol for energy storage. It also can be burnt in todays cars and in future fuel cells. I've noticed that in the forklift industry there is a lot of interest in hydrogen fuel cell forklifts over 'messy' batteries. Electric transport is not proven for most of our transport need at present. Methanol fuel cells currently can be used for laptops and the military as much as lithium batteries.

As far as carbon sequestration being a waste of energy goes, we waste a lot of energy now anyways. I find a lot of people want the world to work in a certain way but the entire world
actually works differently. So I see the advantage of going along a path; IC gasoline-->IC Flexfuel M85,E85-->methanol fuel cells as a natural development in transportation.
Most methanol is now made from natural gas which is being depleted but it can be made from coal as well. Still we need to reduce CO2 emissions--why not 'eliminate' those from coal fire electricity generation.

The scientists(Hansen,etal) seems to have proven that GW is a reality, that we are warming the earth and that according to the US Supreme Court we have a responsibility to correct the situation. I am merely pointing out that methanol could be a solution to one problem-- creating a market for high purity CO2 that also is a fuel for transportation and reduces our reliance on oil.

That's an interesting idea, but I think I am as sceptical as Joule.
You say that storage in batteries and the electron economy is not an established fact.
With respect, it is vastly more established than your alternative of producing methanol from carbon dioxide.

The objections to battery life times are now overcome, in several guises, advanced lead acid as well as the more expensive lithium,
Here is one solution which uses a built-in capacitor in an ordinary lead-acid battery:

It's done 100,000 miles on the same batteries.
How it does that is because what knackers lead acid batteries is that they do not like deep discharge.
The ultracapacitors avoid this.

There are a lot of other solutions, such as from Firefly:

I am not sure about the amount of energy you loose by charging and discharging a battery, although I believe that the new ones are better in this respect, but efficiencies in electric cars compared to IC engines is so much higher that the point is moot.

Cars such as the AFS I linked to use the capacitors to provide regenerative braking, which helps even more.

Costs of the advanced lead acid capacitor batteries are around 1/3rd of lithium batteries.

On the issue of carbon sequestration, here is an idea you might like:

You can increase the productivity of the soil, provide fuel for agricultural machinery, restore native habitat and sequester carbon dioxide all in one!

You could sequester emissions of the same order as man-made emissions with reasonably modest areas of land set to agrichar.

Here is a more ambitious proposal based on the same idea, with Carbon fuel cells thrown in:

There are good possibilities open to us, if we can get past some of our immediate difficulties

"You say that storage in batteries and the electron economy is not an established fact.
With respect, it is vastly more established than your alternative of producing methanol from carbon dioxide."

To an extent you are talking about a race between fuel cells and batteries.

It's interesting to see that fuel cells are used in buses and locomotives while batteries are used for tiny cars.

As far as those solar CO2-CO solar cells go, Olah's method is to make methanol in a reverse methanol fuel cellwhich is a proven technology with electricity, water and CO2 from IGCC. I just added these neat CO2-CO solar cells because they they might eliminate the inherent inefficiencies in the electrical generation from PV solar cells.


It's done 100,000 miles on the same batteries.
How it does that is because what knackers lead acid batteries is that they do not like deep discharge.
The ultracapacitors avoid this.

I disagree. Methanol has an energy density of 19.7 MJ/l whereas the best ultracapacitors are at 1 MJ/l and lithium batteries are presently at 1/3 of that.

On the issue of carbon sequestration, here is an idea you might like:

Sorry, I'm not a fan of biochar. The idea that the soil lacks carbon is overrated IMO. It needs nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous. Too much carbon is actually quite bad for many plants.

I agree that these are some technologies that have promise, but we really can't wait much longer, so I really like methanol and if adopted it would create a market for CO2 which we know must be controlled.

I hope this idea can get a real hearing here.

Thanks for the reply.

I am a lot keener on methanol or butanol than I am on hydrogen, or God forfend corn ethanol.
Biodiesel would be more or less ideal if it could be made, I would have thought.

I find I have confused my sources - the AFS website is a not very clear and I did not pay sufficient attention - apologies.
There are both lead acid plus capacitor cars running around, which are mild hybrids with much lighter and less expensive batteries than on the present prius, and avoid deep discharge by the use of the ultracapacitors, which have done 100,000 miles, how much of that on batteries I don't know but it seems that the lead acid performs sufficiently well to to take care of a mild hybrid for it's lifetime.

The car which can do 150 to the gallon is a lithium/capacitor combo.

My thanks to mds on the Earth Blog for straightening this out for me - I suspect he is our very own mdsolar.

What you say about agrichar is disappointing, but perhaps enough suitable lands and plants can be found such that it can make a real contribution - it seems to have done a good job in the Amazon, although I understand that there is some question that we may not understand all the ingredients of terra preta.

The lastest concentrated (high temperature)solar cell technology using a gallinium-arsenic-potassium substrate can change carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide which can be water-shifted to produce methanol.

How efficiently, though?

CO can be easily turned into a number of useful chemical fuels (including natural gas, with 70%-efficient electrolysis hydrogen). If it can be created efficiently and in bulk from atmospheric CO2, that would be pretty substantial, as it would largely solve the problem of long-term storage for wind and solar power -- the excess could be turned into natural gas (or methanol, or ammonia, or whatever), stored for months, and then burned in normal power plants to smooth out supply spikes...all in a carbon-neutral fashion.

So, how efficiently can CO be created from CO2? If you know of data on that, I'd be interested to see it.

I was reading the article about "michigan" who posts here. perhaps your wife could use her software skills to save companies and school districts energy:

Bus route software could help efficiency

sounds like a growth industry.

$2B carbon capture and storage plan released

A $2-billion carbon capture and storage plan aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions was released Thursday by a task force established by the Alberta and federal governments in March 2007.

Carbon capture and storage means that the CO2 emitted from oil and gas operations, coal-fired power plants and industrial facilities is injected deep into the ground rather than released into the atmosphere.

The report, called Canada's Fossil Energy Future: The Way Forward on Carbon Capture and Storage, examined what needs to be done to move ahead with the technology in Canada.

RE: NYT Obama and Nuclear Energy Legislation

What I took out of this article is that the anti-nuke crowd is scared of Obama. I've seen him talk on this issue and he believes it has to be part of the energy mix. I think he is right, but I don't think mining is going to go that well in times of FF scarcity.

Obama's Factcheck rebuttal page

The releases came from a power generating station run by Exelon Nuclear. Exelon says that no public heath risk exists. But the company has changed its notification policy. The philosophy now, said company spokesman Craig Nesbit, 'is to go beyond legal and regulatory requirements.' But Obama said philosophy is not enough when it comes to nuclear waste. 'Notifying state and local officials should not be a courtesy; it should be the law,' he said." [CQ, 3/3/06]

Slide #37 in Matt Simmons latest presentation is straight from The Oil Drum - with full credit.

BAGHDAD, Feb 3 (KUNA) -- The Iraqi Foreign Ministry said on Sunday it had sent a note of protest to the Iranian side on the background of the Iranian abuses of Iraqi oilfields.
Iraqi Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Mohammed Al-Haj Hmoud told KUNA that the Iraqi Oil Ministry called on the Foreign Ministry to protest to the Iranian side over the Iranian violations of the Iraqi oil fields near the common border.

The report doesn't name the fields involved. May we presume that the dispute involves Azadegan (Iran) and Majnoon (Iraq), which are respectively claimed to be the largest undeveloped fields of the two countries? (See the map in inside front cover the paperback of Twilight in the Desert.)

May we also presume that the dispute involves not "slant" drilling, as in the dispute between Iraq and Kuwait in 1990, or horizontal drilling crossing from Iran into Iraqi territory, but rather field developments bearing on the same aquifers or field strata?

Don't recall quoted reserve figures for Azadegan offhand, but the one's I've seen for Majnoon put it between 12-30 billion barrels, with Skrebowski accepting the lower figure. Not that I think that quoted reserve figures should be taken very seriously without a lot more corroboration. For example, how did Majnoon figure into Iraq's total 47 billion barrels of reserves as of the start of 1987? (Azadegan wasn't discovered until about 1999-2000.)

Anyone know anything about the status of current projects in these two fields at present?

RE: the Tesla article

One of biggest reasons I'm quite optimistic about electric vehicles is that the current models are so excessively luxurious. They are far too heavy, go far too far and far too fast. This is so they have a chance of competing against current fossil fuel vehicles.

When push comes to shove, if it came to it, people would make do with an electric shit-box with range 60 miles and and speed 35 mph.

That sort of thing they can most emphatically build (golf carts are already mass produced, and all you really need is a juiced up golf cart).

The electrification of personal transport is damn near inevitable. Which doesn't necessarily make me happy because I'd rather suburban sprawl withered away.

I think the electric cars right now are really upscale so at first they can recoup costs. as the costs come down EVs will look more like normal cars.

the fact that some of the electric cars are fancy and fast are a good thing. electric cars are seen as hippy things that look ugly and don't have any creature comforts and are underpowered. any thing that can break that mold is good because that means people will except EVs. they will catch on faster as people realize all they need to give up is gasoline and the gas station but not performance!

There is definitely something to that point of view. If green can be made sexy, all the better.

Somthing on the order of this: http://www.electrovaya.com/

that car is cool hank, but I think right now that car isn't appealing to most people. if gas goes higher yes, but not now. that's why I think we need nice EVs and PHEVs. after that nice phase EVs and PHEVs should be designed to be indistinguishable from normal cars.

150mpg in this is pretty good:

No need for golf carts quite yet.

Golf cart is a nonstarter; aerodynamics and weight is incredibly important for fuel economy and I do not believe a golf cart even at 35 mph would have better fuel economy than the tesla. If you want to see what something with a very low drag coefficient might look like, check out aptera's prototype 2-seater.

Just like all the three wheelers, the Aptera can't meet the safety requirements of a regular car. Three wheelers are classified as motorcycles which don't have to meet any safety requirements at all and can go any speed desired.

If it's a four wheel vehicle that can't meet regular car requirements they can be classified as LSV and are limited to 25 mph. A couple of enlightened states (Washington and Montana) allow for MSV's which can go 35.

I've been driving a GEM for the last two years and it's my primary mode of transportation. The longest trip I've ever seen on the odometer was 14 miles so it does what I want. It sits high above traffic like a truck so I feel quite safe driving it. Of course I'm retired but when I was working my commuting vehicle was a motorcycle. I put 225,000 miles on them. I guess feeling safe is relative.

Still; seat belts, air bag, roll cage and a crumple zone is a hell of a lot better than your average golf cart or bicycle.

George, I have held the same opinion for some time. Florida is full of golf courses and carts and some communities have begun allowing use of golf carts on secondary streets. It has started here and it will increase as fuel becomes more expensive and more pressure is put on local/state governments to expand the use of carts. Many thousands of people live a couple of miles from their doctor, grocery store, or library and can come/go to these destinations on streets with 25-35 mph speed limits. Now that Jeb Bush (Mr FF) is no longer our governor I am hoping for more lax laws governing golf carts or slow speed electric autos.

Why not a $2,500 Tata with electric vice gas power? Who needs a $40,000 electric vehicle to fetch $80 of groceries and a few library books 6 miles round trip?...That is an ego trip for morons.

If GM, Ford, et al, cannot build a business model to deal with electric vehicles perhaps those corporations should go the way of the horse and buggy.

I have nothing against economical electric cars if they will do the job, but would be reluctant to buy some sort of converted golf buggy.
I would not have thought them very safe, especially if you have children.
A lot more people die in small cars.

People die in small cars because of semis and SUVs. When there are dramatically fewer of them and speeds are greatly reduced that statement will no longer be true.

A lot more people die in small cars.

That's a myth. Yes, in a collision you're better off being in a bigger car. But most crashes, including most fatal crashes, are single-vehicle. One study found that SUVs were actually more risky than small cars, because of their tendency to roll over.

'A lot more people die in small cars.'

Can you support that one? And is there data on how many Small Car Deaths come from collisions with 'the big' cars?

Converted Golf Buggys would do a great job for countless people, if the roads and road rules were created with them in the mix, along with bikes, etc.


It's the sudden stop that kills you - not the size of the car!

Why do people think bigger is better or safer or sustainable?

Here are a couple of links to two different takes on the issue:


To me it is a fairly simple matter.

In a small car you are closer to the impact than in a large car, so at any given level of engineering injuries are likely to be greater.

The fact that some large cars like many SUV's are poorly designed does not contradict this - it just shows that you need good engineering whatever the car size.

That rules out converted golf carts as far as I am concerned.

As for, 'it would be OK if everyone drove small cars' I drive on present roads, not some hypothetical future ideal system.

In practise, I would not rule out a relatively small car but would ensure that the model had passed crash tests to the highest standards.

I would have stricter standards if transporting small children - many small cars only have two doors and getting people out of the back in an emergency can be tricky.

For regular long distance travel I would be biased towards rather larger vehicles which keep your legs further away from most impacts - for this sort of use aerodynamics are rather more important than size anyway for economy.

No golf buggies save on a golf course for me though thanks!

For regular long distance travel ...

Not to worry !

There will not be "regular long distance travel" by private automobile a decade from now.

Best Hopes for fewer GHG emissions ASAP,


I probably shouldn't post this, because someone is going to believe it, but I can't resist...

Are UFOs using mind control? Alberta oil sands said to be part of plot

Houston - UFO sightings in Canada are on the rise and so are the number of organizations springing up, especially in Alberta where the vast oil sands deposits are said to be led by extraterrestrial forces who are using mind control to manipulate Canadians into thinking its ok to develop those resources.

I'm not surprised. High level penetration of the US government by aliens has been well known for some time. When confronted with evidence that he was an alien, former US Senator Phil Graham confessed that he was in fact an alien, and he expressed astonishment at how long it took the media to figure out the truth.

Maybe "news" of aliens is being offered in an attempt to prime the world for one-world-government. After all, we will need an enemy against which the entire world can unite as one. It's not good enough that we have Muslims vs. Christians vs. Jews, or the left vs. the center vs. the right, or theists vs. atheists, or the United States vs. everybody.

The more we divided by various religious beliefs, from the holy Jesus to the holy Superbowl, the more we are governed by fear, by constant concern of Us vs. Them.

By the fragmentation through belief, the divided and oppressed find religion comforting. The wise and educated find it silly. And TPTB find it useful.

Hut one, hut two, hike.

Ah-Ha...So TPTB are really aliens! My wife was right all along. Drats, I hate it when that happens.

It's a tiny splotch of tar on the lens?

ha - that's awesome Leanan, we NEED some humor on the way down, now who has some good catabolic collapse jokes?

"so three starving Mayan farmers walk into a temple and the one says to the head priest standing before the sacrificial altar...."

"a King, a woodcutter and a high priest are looking at the last tree on Easter Island and the woodcutter says...."

"so Canyon Chaco is suffering from a 10 year drought and the granaries are empty....."

the UFO looks like a golf ball thrown from behind the camera....

OTH - I'm all for advanced-technology aliens taking over, it would be hard for them to do a worse job than we've been doing....

"so three starving Mayan farmers walk into a temple and the one says to the head priest standing before the sacrificial altar.... "well, at least we won't be around in 2012. Those folks will be REALLY screwed".

"a King, a woodcutter and a high priest are looking at the last tree on Easter Island and the woodcutter says...." What harm can it do? If it winds up affecting the economy the giant stone heads can just cut the prime rate".

I think you are all wrong. The UFO's are actually tankers supplying the various hydrocarbon reservoirs.

Human life on earth is a giant interplanetary experiment, and we are being manipulated and tested in various ways. Possibly to prove our fitness to join the InterGalactic League, but more likely just to prove some arcane point of the alien scientists.

They know we will cluster and fight for hydrocarbon -- so they move the source to different locations around the planet to study the result.

Oh, look, a service that helps you walk away from your underwater home :-) Smiley for the big, fat wallop this is going to give to lenders who were writing unsustainable junk ... unless they figure out how to socialize their losses :-(




Most of the students entering College this fall, members of the Class of 2011, were born in 1989. For them, Alvin Ailey, Andrei Sakharov, Huey Newton, Emperor Hirohito, Ted Bundy, Abbie Hoffman, and Don the Beachcomber have always been dead.
8. General Motors has always been working on an electric car.
64 .Chavez has nothing to do with iceberg lettuce and everything to do with oil.

Apologies if I have missed this posted already:

Ex Shell CEO says ban all gas-guzzlers in the EU and regulate markets more..