DrumBeat: February 13, 2008

Rice: US naming special energy envoy

WASHINGTON - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Wednesday she will appoint a special envoy for energy issues to deal with the use of oil and gas for political means, particularly in Central Asia.

Her comments to a congressional committee come amid threats from Venezuela to cut off oil exports to the United States as well as several incidents in which Russia has or threatened to cut off gas supplies to some of its neighbors, most recently Ukraine.

"It is a really important part of diplomacy, in fact, I think I would go so far as to say that some of the politics of energy is warping diplomacy in certain parts of the world," Rice told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

U.S. says backs Exxon in Venezuela battle

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. State Department said on Wednesday it backed Exxon Mobil Corp in its efforts to get a "fair and just" compensation package from Venezuela for its assets there but was not involved in the case.

Exxon Gives Chavez Biggest Fight Yet Over Oil Nationalization

(Bloomberg) -- Exxon Mobil Corp., the most profitable company ever, is giving Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez the toughest fight yet in his widening efforts to expand state control over his country's vast oil resources.

Citgo Refinery May Get Hit With Fine

LAKE CHARLES, La. (AP) -- Federal safety investigators have proposed $169,000 in fines against Citgo Petroleum Corp.'s refinery in Lake Charles on allegations of failing to protect employees from hazardous working conditions.

RPT Algerian energy minister dismisses oil output hike at OPEC meeting in March

ALGIERS (Thomson Financial) - Algerian Energy and Mines Minister Chakib Khelil, currently the president of OPEC, has dismissed chances of an announcement of an increase in oil production when the oil cartel has its next meeting on March 5 in Vienna.

"I can't tell you what decision will be taken by OPEC conference, but it will take into account all aspects of the oil market, and what I can tell you is that it won't be an increase in oil production," Khelil told reporters in Algiers, in response to question on whether the organisation would decide either to raise or reduce oil output.

The Good News: Decarbonization

Although many pundits talk about peak oil, there’s not much talk about “peak gas.” That’s because there continues to be a surfeit of gas, and more gas is being discovered all the time. Between 1995 and 2005, global proved natural gas reserves increased 25 percent, to some 6,348 trillion cubic feet. At current rates of extraction and assuming no new discoveries, that’s enough gas to supply the world for another six decades. But better still, new gas reserves are being discovered faster than new oil reserves.

Cellulosic ethanol a reality: First American plant in production

In a development that could dramatically advance the renewable fuels industry, cellulosic ethanol is now in production at the first small scale waste wood commercial facility operating in the U.S. Located just 1 mile South of Upton, Wyoming, the plant was engineered, constructed and is operated by KL Process Design Group (KL). This is the result of six years of development efforts between KL and the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.

Detailed weather and ocean measuring instruments planned for oil rigs

WASHINGTON (AP) - Detailed weather and ocean measuring instruments will be mounted on seven oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico.

The announcement comes today from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Shell Oil Company.

US misses second deadline to protect polar bears

WASHINGTON, Feb 13 (Reuters) - The United States has missed its own postponed deadline to decide if polar bears need protection from climate change, and critics link the delay to an oil lease sale in a vast swath of the bear's icy habitat.

U.S. and Canada on collision course over Arctic rights: U.S. official

A leading U.S. government scientist says his country and Canada are on a collision course over seabed rights in the Arctic Ocean, where vast, untapped oil and gas deposits are fuelling an undersea land grab and researchers from all polar nations are racing to collect data backing their countries' territorial claims.

Andy Armstrong, a top official with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and co-director of the U.S. Joint Hydrographic Centre, says there's "no question" that U.S. efforts to secure sovereignty over an extended continental shelf off the northern coast of Alaska are bound to "overlap" with Canada's own claims in the region.

Aramco chief: Bad policy may hurt assets

HOUSTON (UPI) -- Policies to combat climate change -- "well-intentioned but ultimately flawed or confusing" -- could hurt oil recovery, the head of Saudi Aramco said.

...Jumah said that in a bid to tackle the perception of peak oil, both conventional oil as well non-conventional resources such as tar sands must be considered. He placed the world's in-place endowment of conventional oil and non-conventional fuels at between 13 trillion and 16 trillion barrels.

Global oil execs sound cautious note on U.S. economy

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Oil executives from around the world expressed growing concern over the health of the U.S. economy on Tuesday as they continue to watch for signs that any weakness may spread to other economies and hurt global energy demand.

Oil prices have soared to record levels, recently climbing above $100 a barrel on robust demand from fast-growing economies like India and China and worries about supply disruptions.

But that scenario may fall apart if a downturn in the U.S. economy hits demand.

Aramco chief: Calls for alternatives hurt

HOUSTON, Feb. 12 (UPI) -- Calls for the aggressive displacement of fossil fuels hurt investments to increase supplies to meet growing demand, the head of Saudi Aramco said Tuesday.

Oil majors face increased political risk from State intervention: Aon Analysis

Oil multinationals face increased political and economic risks as governments readdress the balance of power by taking more control over their domestic product, according to Aon's Political and Economic Risk Map 2008. The report found that countries such as Venezuela and Uzbekistan pose a high risk for companies with potential problems such as confiscation, sovereign non-payment and political interference. These political risks could threaten global oil supplies and push record oil prices even further.

Oil minister: Oil Bourse to start operation next week

Oil Minister Gholam Hossein Nozari said on Wednesday that Iran's Oil Bourse is to start operation from next Sunday.

Speaking to reporters after a cabinet session, he said Minister of Economy and Financial Affairs Davoud Danesh Jaafari is to attend the opening ceremony.

Iran's national currency, rial will be the base of hard currencies for all transactions in Tehran Oil Bourse, he said.

Mexico mulling buying fuel from far-off India

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico, a major oil exporter but an importer of refined fuel, is mulling buying gasoline from faraway India if prices there undercut costly U.S. refineries, state oil monopoly Pemex said on Tuesday.

Pemex will examine market conditions in the second half of the year, when India is expected to complete a new oil refinery that could take in Mexican crude and ship back refined fuel.

What's good for Exxon ...

Whadda you mean "we," Mr. TV Pundit? When you say "we" are doing better in Iraq or, even more absurd, that "we" were right to invade that country in the first place, are you lumping Joe Blow American in with the top officers of Exxon, which made $40.6 billion in profit last year thanks to the turmoil in the energy markets? That royal "we" is good for the royals who control our government, but its persistent use embodies a pernicious lie that betrays the core ideal of representative democracy.

Will peak oil trigger Mad Max society?

The situation we're headed for -- and that some predict as soon as next year -- is called "peak oil." That means that although plenty of oil is still being pumped and sold, there isn't enough of it to go around. And that means the possibility of "widespread blackouts, the virtual collapse of transportation infrastructure in industrialized countries and a shortage of petroleum-based chemical fertilizers necessary to grow most of our food." And that means war, famine, pestilence, and hunger. A situation that is otherwise known as "deep doo-doo."

Brazil's power crisis teaches vital lessons

In April 2001 the Brazilian government foresaw that if demand was not reduced considerably, the country faced possible blackouts in the following year as a result of drought.

Brasilia moved rapidly to take preventative action.

Penalties for exceeding new power usage limitations, as well as rebates for excess savings, were explained in a nationwide publicity campaign. This "resulted in a 20 percent reduction in energy consumption within two months".

Report: China close to major deal with Qatar to import natural gas

BEIJING - China is close to signing a deal to buy liquefied natural gas from Qatar to fuel the fast-growing Chinese economy, a news report said Wednesday.

Nigeria Parliament Budgets 2.45M bbl/d Oil Output

The two houses of the Nigerian parliament have agreed on a benchmark oil price of $59 a barrel for the 2008 budget, compared with a government proposal of $53.83/barrel, and assumed oil production of 2.45 million barrels a day.

Refinery problems spark shortages at Shell stations

Problems at one of three major oil refineries in Alberta have sparked a supply shortage for Shell retail and commercial gasoline stations in Western Canada, and might exacerbate an already tight market, experts said Tuesday.

...Retailers already are reporting low gasoline inventories or missing deliveries early this week, according to local news sources.

Alaska: Rural energy crisis issues prominent in Legislature

Bush Alaska needs access to reasonably priced energy. We need fuel to stay warm and to run our snowmachines and trucks; but also I believe that without energy security and stability, no community can remain economically stable.

Fuel shortage hits Nepal's capital

KATMANDU, Nepal -- A shortage of fuel in Nepal prompted by strikes and protests in the south forced the shutdown of much of the capital's public transportation system Wednesday, industry officials said.

More than 80 percent of Katmandu's buses, vans and trucks remained parked because authorities were unable to buy diesel and gasoline to run them, said Sharad Sitaula of the Nepal Transport Entrepreneurs Association.

"We are facing a major crisis in our business. We have no income and are unable to pay our drivers and staff. If this continues, many of us will have to shut down our business," Sitaula said.

CARE distributes food and coal to desperate orphanages in Tajikistan

Dushanbe, Tajikistan - CARE is distributing coal, food and warm clothing in the early phase of its emergency response to orphanages and nurseries in the hardest-hit areas of Tajikistan, as they struggle to survive the severe winter and power blackouts that have left millions in Tajikistan without heat or electricity.

Slump in Chinese oil demand is forecast

SINGAPORE (Reuters) -- China's freak winter will slow growth in its demand for oil this year, as factories, cars, and trains suffer from the same freeze that left millions of travelers stranded, Lehman Brothers said.

Public hearing on oil refinery planned for March 3

ELK POINT, S.D. (AP) - The Union County Commission will hold a March 3 public hearing on a Texas company's request to turn 3,800 acres north of Elk Point into a planned development district for a $10 billion oil refinery.

Green funds now examining the bigger picture

Green investing continues to move mainstream as major U.S. sustainability funds, Canadian banks and institutions across North America incorporate green thinking into an emerging, broader philosophy: ESG.

The environmental, social, governance (ESG) model of investing, along with the increase in environmentally themed funds (ETFs) is dramatically changing the investment landscape for fund managers and investors across Canada.

Honda sees revenue stalling until late-2009

Honda has set a goal of selling at least 4.5 million cars in 2010, up about a fifth from calendar 2007.

But its growth has been held back in recent years by a shortage of vehicles as demand for its fuel-efficient models, such as the Civic sedan and CR-V crossover, surpassed expectations.

Honda, also the world's top motorcycle maker, is already scrambling to boost car and motorcycle production in many markets around the world, including India, Thailand, Vietnam, Argentina and Brazil.

Malaysia reviews proposed biofuel policy amid rising palm oil prices

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia: Malaysia is reviewing plans for mandatory blending of palm oil and diesel for biofuel after prices of the commodity more than doubled in two years, a Cabinet minister said Tuesday.

Biofuels Meltdown

Last week two studies published in Science announced what anyone might have suspected all along. "Biofuels," rather than reducing carbon emissions, are adding two them -- possibly by a factor of nearly 100!

The two studies may finally puncture the myth that anything is to be gained from burning crops for fuel. From the very beginning, there was never any indication that turning corn into ethanol was improving our energy independence. As that effort faltered, the myth arose that at least it was reducing carbon emissions. Now it has been shown to do neither.

Atomic renaissance threatened by critical skills shortage

But outside France the industry in Europe has been dormant for at least 20 years. Even in those countries that formerly had the expertise most experts are now retired and there are widespread skills shortages.

“The nuclear industry went through a very unpopular period in the 80s and early 90s,” says Paul Howarth, Director of Research at the Dalton Nuclear Institute at Manchester University in the UK. “Even in the UK, where we still have a nuclear industry, we just about have enough expertise to evaluate new reactor designs. There is a serious need to refresh our skills base.”

Global energy growth rates exceed expectations

ISLAMABAD: A record 20,000 MW of wind power were installed world-wide last year, with the United States, Spain and China providing the biggest annual increases, the Global Energy Council (GEC) said.

World-wide wind power installed capacity stands at a record, 94,112 MW, BBC reported. Steve Sawyer, Secretary General of the Brussels-based Global Energy Council, said that the growth rates in wind energy continue to exceed the council's most optimistic expectations.

True scale of C0² emissions from shipping revealed

The report suggests that shipping emissions - which are not taken into account by European targets for cutting global warming - will become one of the largest single sources of manmade CO² after cars, housing, agriculture and industry. By comparison, the aviation industry, which has been under heavy pressure to clean up, is responsible for about 650m tonnes of CO² emissions a year, just over half that from shipping.

£25 congestion charge will hit 30,000 of worst polluting vehicles, says mayor

Drivers of high powered sports cars and 4x4s will be hit by a new £25 charge every time they enter central London under plans to reduce congestion and cut pollution across the capital.

The London mayor, Ken Livingstone, said around 30,000 of the worst polluting vehicles would face a threefold price rise from October, while the most environmentally friendly cars would be able to enter the congestion zone free of charge.

The great green land grab

Fancy your own swath of rainforest or snow-capped peak? From Britain to Botswana, the Philippines to Patagonia, there is an explosion of individuals, charities, even billionaire financiers buying up vast areas of land in the name of protecting environments. But is private ownership the way to save them?

Oil execs: Crisis coming, but not because of scarcity

HOUSTON – The Earth is not about to run out of oil.

According to executives of major oil companies, the planet has plenty of oil to feed growing demand for energy. It's just getting more difficult and more expensive to produce the oil that's left.

So difficult, in fact, that the head of Hess Corp. predicts the globe could face shortages, price spikes and maybe even political instability in the next decade or so.

Empty Holes and Black Swans

It may be blasphemous to ponder in a region that produces a good deal of the world's hydrocarbon-based energy, but what if Peak Oil has already occurred?

"My opinion is that it's increasingly likely that we actually set an all-time record in May 2005 of 74,252,000 barrels per day," states Matt Simmons, founder and chairman of the world's largest energy investment banking company, Simmons & Co. International.

"And for the first three months of 2007," Simmons continues, "we were almost a million barrels per day behind that, and we're dropping fast. If that record still holds a year from now, I'll bet someone ten-to-one that we set peak oil in May 2005 and it's now past tense."

Energy Conference in Houston Includes Focus on Climate Change, US Housing Woes

One key player in the world's oil market is Saudi Arabia, the nation considered to have the largest reserves. Abdallah Jumah, president of the Saudi state oil company, Saudi Aramco, told participants Tuesday that his company plans to expand production capacity to 12 million barrels a day by the end of 2009. He rejected claims by Houston analyst Matt Simmons and others that Saudi Arabia's main fields are in decline and that the country will not be able to continue expanding its production.

Exxon Mobil won't be hurt by Venezuelan move, analyst says

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- Oppenheimer & Co. analyst Fadel Gheit said Exxon Mobil won't have any trouble finding more crude oil to buy on the world market now that Venezuela has cut the oil giant off. "Hugo Chavez is sorely mistaken," Gheit said of the Venezuelan president who has upped his rhetoric since Exxon Mobil moved last week to seize $12 billion in the country's overseas assets. "Exxon buys oil in 35 different varieties -- more flavors than Baskin Robbins," Gheit said. Since Venezuelan oil is a heavier grade and requires more refining than other types of crude, Chavez will be left looking for places to sell, while Exxon "will have the last laugh all the way to the bank," he said.

Will additives push gasoline to a record high?

New York - Already feeling the effects of a cold snap in the Midwest and Northeast and strains with key oil supplier Venezuela, American energy consumers are about to encounter a new complication: rising prices of a key gasoline additive – nicknamed liquid gold by some.

Oil price surge helps Total fourth quarter net profit climb 62 per cent

PARIS - French oil giant Total SA said Wednesday that fourth-quarter profits rose 62 per cent as oil prices surged and new projects in Angola and Qatar boosted production.

Shell Nigeria suspends restructuring for government talks

ABUJA (Reuters) - The Nigerian arm of Royal Dutch Shell has suspended a cost-cutting reorganisation to hold more talks with the Nigerian government which is worried about job losses, a spokeswoman said on Wednesday.

Oil market to ease on higher supplies, EIA says

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- The world oil market is poised to ease over the next two years with production increases offsetting moderate growth in oil demand, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said Tuesday.

Oil prices, however, will remain higher than last year's. The barrel, which averaged $72 in 2007, is expected to average about $86 in 2008 and $82 in 2009. Oil topped $100 a barrel early this year.

IEA to Cut Global Oil Forecast on Slower U.S. Economy

(Bloomberg) -- The International Energy Agency will cut its forecast for global oil demand this year because slower economic growth in the U.S. will curb consumption.

The energy adviser to 27 oil-consuming nations will revise its outlook ``slightly downward,'' Nobuo Tanaka, executive director, said in Houston yesterday. The agency is due to release its forecast later today. The IEA on Jan. 16 cut its first-quarter demand estimate by 100,000 barrels a day because of a mild U.S. winter.

Economic Report of the President (PDF, Chapter 7, page 167)

In 2008, the nominal price for crude oil reached its highest level ever. This increase was due to several economic, geopolitical, and environmental factors such as growing world demand, limited supply growth, smaller inventories, security concerns in oil producing countries, and a decline in the value of the U.S. dollar.

Some fear that high oil prices reflect a peak in oil production and predict an imminent decline in production in the near future. This type of prediction often assumes static or growing consumption with limited additional discovery or production. As the price of oil rises, however, there is an economic incentive to find new sources or improve extraction techniques. Enhanced oil recovery (EOR) is one example of this type of response. EOR is any technique that can increase the amount of oil that can be recovered from an oil field, but it is most commonly associated with gas injection, particularly using CO2, which forces the oil to the surface. The Department of Energy estimates that state-of-the-art EOR could potentially add an additional 89 billion barrels to the total recoverable oil resources of the United States, although not all of that is necessarily economically recoverable.

Even if production has peaked, we are unlikely to abruptly run out of oil. As the price rises over time, producers will have an incentive to retain some of the resource to sell at a later date and consumers will have an incentive to transition away from oil consumption. Over time, the price rise will make the adoption of alternative energy sources more and more likely.

Investors: Don't blame us for high oil prices

With oil prices near $100 a barrel and gasoline hovering around $3 a gallon, speculative investment from banks and hedge funds has taken heat for adding as much as $30 or $40 to the cost of a barrel of oil. The finger-pointing became especially acute in 2007, when crude prices went from around $50 to nearly $100 in 12 months.

"It's pure speculation," longtime Oppenheimer oil analyst Fadel Gheit said in a recent CNNMoney.com story. Nothing has changed from a year ago, he said, he said "Not a single thing."

Firms prepare bids for Manifa pipeline contract

Contractors are expected to submit bids by 16 February to provide pipelines and power cable equipment for the next phase of development at the 900,000-barrel-a-day (b/d) offshore Manifa field.

Beijing defiant as Spielberg walks out

BEIJING was defiant yesterday in the face of its most embarrassing Olympic crisis so far, sparked by the US director Steven Spielberg's announcement that he is quitting as an artistic adviser to the 2008 Olympic Games because of China's continued support for its oil-rich trading partner Sudan.

Is Corporate Greenwashing Headed for a Fall?

Fear not global warming, peak oil, polluted air and water -- big business will take care of everything.

Global Heating: Why We Must Shift to Carbon-Free Fuel

While the ultimate goal is renewable hydrogen, the magnitude of the energy challenge dictates the use of hydrogen produced from major energy sources such as coal (with carbon sequestration) and nuclear. A vigorous longer-term approach with carbon-free hydrogen and fuel-cell technologies can play a central role. While there are many challenges, there are no apparent show stoppers that couldn’t be addressed by a well-funded, dedicated program.

Global warming gets less debate than future of oil

HOUSTON -- When the head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says he is "delighted" with what he just heard from the head of the one of the nation's biggest energy companies, it would seem global warming has arrived -- even at what is described as the "Super Bowl" of energy conferences.

ConocoPhillips Chairman James Mulva told a lunchtime crowd at Cambridge Energy Research Associates' 27th annual meeting that a growing consensus on the consequences of climate change demands that the energy industry, as well as the United States, become fully engaged in the debate.

"The train is leaving the station without the industry on board," said Mulva, whose Houston-based firm has been among the front-runners in supporting "a strong, mandatory framework to control greenhouse-gas emissions."

Climate Change May Kill Thousands In UK By 2017

LONDON - There is a 25 percent chance that a severe heat wave will strike England and kill more than 6,000 people before 2017 if no action is taken to deal with the health effects of climate change, a report said on Tuesday.

UN hosts post-Bali ministerial session on climate change

UNITED NATIONS (AFP) - Developing and rich nations on Tuesday urged speedy UN-led action to seal a new global pact to reverse climate change by late 2009, with special attention to the needs of vulnerable countries.

Tiny nations seek climate help at UN

UNITED NATIONS - The day's first word went to a tiny island nation with a big sinking feeling.

Leading off the U.N. General Assembly's second day of talks on climate change, Tuvalu issued a cry for help Tuesday on dealing with the impact of global warming on its 10,000 people, who live on nine low-lying coral atolls in the South Pacific being lapped at by rising seas.

Climatologist: Sea Ice to keep shrinking

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Arctic sea ice next summer may shrink below the record low last year, according to a University of Washington climatologist. Ignatius Rigor spoke Monday at the Alaska Forum on the Environment and said global warming combined with natural cyclical changes likely will continue to push ice into the North Atlantic Ocean.

The last remnants of thick, old sea ice are dispersing and the unusual weather cycles that contributed to sea ice loss last year are continuing, he said.

Lake Mead may go dry by 2021

There is a 50 percent chance that Lake Mead, which was created by the Hoover Dam and the Colorado River, will go dry by 2021 because of escalating human demand and climate change, according to a study by Tim Barnett and David Pierce of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography of the University of California at San Diego.

Not really news as anyone who's seen pictures of Lake Mead can easily see the high water marks.

Not surprisingly, Lake Powell is not in much better shape. I was out there last year, and it was very far down. A park ranger (my uncle) told me they are under constant pressure to release more water for Lake Mead and for the people downstream, but they just don't have the water to release. The dams at Mead and Powell generate a significant amount of the southwest's electricity, and the river is the main source of water for a lot of people.

It will be interesting to see how this years snow pack in the Colorado river basin will affect both lake levels. I suspect it may exceed the 2005 peak.



I noted in yesterday's thread that snowpack is thankfully way up across the west this winter. In some watersheds, over 200% of normal. It's giving quite a breather for all reservoir filling.
For projected streamflow and Feb 1 snowpack:


Snow course data for individual watersheds here:


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

re:Economic report of the president,

"EOR could potentially add an additional 89 billion barrels to the total recoverable oil resources of the United States, although not all of that is necessarily economically recoverable".

who writes this s*** ?

Perhaps the president is aware that "economically recoverable" is a moving target. By the time we need those 89 billion barrels, the picture is likely to have changed. Unfortunately the economics will likely only get worse.

Elwoodelmore, Let me ask you this question. Would you agree that the technology we use to extract oil now is greater and more efficient than we used in say 1940? If yes (which is the correct answer) would you not believe that 20 years from now, technology will be that much better at getting oil we cannot get to now? (Think THAI, Biological processes to break down heavy oil, etc.)

So who writes $%$%? Smart people :)

Sorry, I'm no oil or technology expert, but I still have to toss in my 2 cents here. Your logic implies that oil extraction technology is a linear process, that how much we have learned in the last 20 or 30 years is equal to what we will learn in the next 20 or 30 years. You are not allowing that the 'low hanging fruit' of oil extraction technology may have already be discovered. Think the 80/20 rule.

The Law of Diminishing Returns may well apply to new technology and oil extraction (I think it will),

Pumping in water to keep pressure up was the first EOR, Working great ! Cheap & effective and not that difficult to figure out the correct amounts to pump in and where.

It has all been downhill since in improved EOR.

Little Hope for the JIT Technology Fairy,


Have to put my 2 cents worth in here.

My uncle builds these specialized drilling rigs that improve efficiency. Less moving parts, etc, but what really makes it attractive is that it also removes more men from the oil rig. So really just more efficient use of the rig itself and costs less in the back end on payroll.

However, BIG HOWEVER, he is the only person he knows that does this. Having been in the industry doing it for some 2 decades he doesn't know anyone else doing it. Sure lots of other places building the same old rig to ship out to the next oil find, but he is the only one doing this.

He'll spend three months building his newest invention only on the computer only to see it fail when put together. The engineering is sound, just the reality factor doesn't work. i.e. looks good on paper, just not in real life.

Oil companies pester him all day long for more and more of his designs. He is currently, if he is lucky, only 2-3 years backordered.

He has told me every rig he builds is shipped immediately to Texas, despite being in Alberta, used for what I assume is oil recovery in old fields.

He could in theory increase his plant size 10 fold, but getting qualified staff is another thing altogether. Almost next to impossible despite paying top wages.

Miracle technology to save us all? HA!

The baby boomers are retiring en masse, and they are the generation who had the skills to do what we needed to get done. They are the generation that got us to the moon. Can you imagine someone from Generation Y, or Generation Me trying to do anything? If it came on XBox maybe they could figure out how to get to level 10, but that Generation just doesn't have the skill base.

Plain and simple, not enough qualified people to do the job, despite the high wages, no real improvements despite the years we have had to play around with it, any improvements have been minimal, industry and society wide no one is really informed of the massive problems that await us, so no recognition of the problem, so nothing being done about it.

Now let us say that in a perfect world everyone woke up tomorrow and knew about Peak Oil, and demanded we do something about it.

Just using my uncle's shop as an example, and we used his technology, nothing much would change, we just build more efficient rigs faster to drain what left quicker. Still have to find qualified staff to do it. I don't think the over 65 crowd is too keen to get back to work.

And then, everyone expects this new magic fix whatever it may be should be instantly implemented. Heaven forbid you have lag time.

We may have this new magic fix right now, but no one has heard of it, if we did, we still have to build it, if we could build it, we couldn't implement all out at once, because we can't put this magic fix out all at once, it will take years to go industry wide.

Because it will take years to go industry wide, still have to deal with depletion somehow, find new fields, find and train and hire new people to build said miracle fix, etc, etc, etc.

Whatever, I rant.

I'm going go buy a few more sacks of rice for the doomstead.

Thanks for the complement, but we boomers cannot take credit for the moon - we were all still in school then. That was the Greatest Generation, mostly.

I don't think that today's over 65 crowd will be eager to get back to work, but I'm not so sure that the working years for Boomers are going to be over when they reach 65. I'm planning to keep on working as long as my body holds up and my employer will have me. I see plenty of reasons to keep pulling in an earned income as long as I possibly can, and very few reasons not to.

WNC(hi) and others of the 'over the hill' gang(class of '57 like me)....

Its fine to work until you drop but there is one big ass caveat that can come with that goal...Its called Cancer and others of its ilk, like diabetes and other very bad health issues.

They do tend to pick on the 'Greatest Generation' as I can attest.
I am looking the BIG C right square in the face. I just 3 weeks ago survived having my left kidney and a huge cancerous mass growing on it removed. I am still in somewhat shock and slowly recovering.

My advice would be....drop the job and go get some very good years in before all the SHTF.

Myself I will be passing by Asheville down I-40 and your area tomorrow on my way back 'over the mountains' to join my wife in the Raleigh area where sh e lives with my son and then we will be moving later to Charlotte.
I dropped all the divorce nonsense since she just the week before me had a triple-bypass open heart surgery!!She says she needs my help and I am leaving the farm likely for good and going to help her.

My plans? Rejoin her, hit the beach when she is able and lay in the sand, eat all the seafood possible, listen to Blue Grass music when I can (live preferably). Join my son in his flight school training and get back in the air for a bit ......and then let the chaos hit as it will!!!!

My plans are to squeeze some enjoyment out of life before I degrade further. Hence all my far flung plans for 'survival' and sustainability have disappeared down the rabbit hole.

If the Lord lets me have a few more good years then I will be thankful. I wish to spend them , since I am now looking at a very clouldy future, is to spend them wisely and enjoying what I can.

I will be trying to maintain a smaller footprint when I can. I will mostly try to read some more good books,watch more good movies,and squeeze what I can out of it all.

To work until illness strikes? Not sure then when one can sit back and enjoy any rewards from a lifetime of work. To each his own. My own is as above. The choice was taken from me and I got the 'hint'.

I doubt I will be interested in posting on TOD any more since my plans and most others on TOD are now divergent.

Luck to all...it's been a good ride,

PS. My cancer has not metastasized as far as CT Scans can tell. It was T2 and slow growing but the surgeon did leave the door open to future reoccurances. I felt no pain as it grew and grew but my body was slowly regressing and my energy was failing badly plus my RBC went off the scale as a result. I could not have had the energy to live the sustainable lifestyle after all.

PPS. To the moon? I worked in the area of the Jupiter C rocket at George C. Marshall way way back,,back when JFK drove thru. I did help a little. Yes we were a rugged crew back then(tech reps and all). Now its all 'blowing in the wind' it seems.

I'm so very glad you survived your cancer and wish you many more pleasant memories to come,
You have given me many a fine chuckle and inspired me to get back to sea. I will be heading to Tahiti
and points west. Time to do a little wave ripping this fall. These are the good old days. You are one of
the good old men,
Please continue to give us your wisdom.


Airedale, my best to you and your family!

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

Here's wishing you sand in your shorts.

God Bless

Airdale, very sorry to hear of your cancer and your wifes heart problems. I wish you the very best and hope you and family enjoy what time you have. Sitting in the sand and gazing at the ocean can put some perspective on a human life. Looking at the stars at night is equally humbling for me. We are all just visitors here and the lucky ones among us get to live past fifty when the reality dawns that its all too complex for any individual to have much of an impact, even the war mongers...We are all riders on the storm and we are all just visiting this earth. Good luck, its been a pleasure to read your posts.

Glad to hear you dodged the bullet, airdale. Failing health is no fun at all.

I've been having my own hospital style adventures - my wild Saturday night started with the emergency room and ended with a lovely overnight stay in the neurology wing at University Hospital. I've been showing stroke symptoms off and on for the last two weeks, which is why I've not been around much, but CT scans kept coming up clean. Turns out its a parathyroid tumor at the root and I've got every complication in the book. Its under control now and should be resolved within the month, but it gave me quite a scare.

Hi airdale,

I'm glad you let us know how you are - happy the news is relatively good. I hope that lasts. And many good wishes to you and your family. It's wonderful you will be together.

I hope you can take time to share and talk maybe with the person(s) who ends up on your farm? (I always saw your place as a kind of "internship" possibility for someone(s))...a place to learn and see things firsthand.)

And... hope you'll share with us when you feel like it. I'd like that very much.

Best of luck to you Airdale, from a fellow aviator. Try some Noni. I swear it keeps the worst stuff away. Tastes like hell but you only need about a jigger a day.

Hey, airdale, glad your operation went well. Hope they have bought a big chunk of quality time for you.

I've got a job I enjoy, it is pretty low stress, relatively secure, and is something I'm fine with doing as long as I can IF the health holds out. You are right, "man knows not his time". I've tried to always have a very realistic awareness of my own mortality, and I am at peace with that. The issue is trying to game plan the remaining years of my life, however many or few they may be. I'm living in a wonderful place with a wonderful quality of life, and enjoying my life. Many people would envy me. I remind myself of that and am thankful for it every day.

I've never been into the 100% self-sufficiency thing. As I've said in other posts, I am a small town resident, and am staking my fate with that of my small town. I'm doing what I can toward energy security, food security, and financial security, but ultimately, I am going to have to remain somewhat dependent upon my community. The flip side of that is that I'm not going to have to be 100% dependent upon myself. You've just provided us with an object lesson for some of the downsides and pitfalls of that. Probably unintentionally and to your misfortune, but thanks all the same for sharing it with us.

Best wishes for your future, and enjoy your trip through our mountains. It is unusually cold today, but that makes the air crisp and clear, providing an especially good long-distance view.


I have, myself, been thinking on this a lot lately. We are at the end of OUR world. Yes, some will survive. But, it will not be OUR world. OUR world is at an end. I have decided I do not want to survive in the Post Peak Oil world. I will work to provide myself with the means of continuance of the world we have known as long as possible. Sustainability, for me means keeping things going for the next 10 years. I am glad I am old and hopefully will not have to experience too much of the horrors that will come. I've already ditched the car. I can walk or ride the bicycle wherever I need to go. I feel for those younger, who have experienced the pinacle of whatever technology we will ever reach, only to be cast into a world worse that the 17th century. A depleted, dying world with no hope for redemption, and no skills to survive.

My uncle builds these specialized drilling rigs that improve efficiency. Less moving parts, etc, but what really makes it attractive is that it also removes more men from the oil rig. So really just more efficient use of the rig itself and costs less in the back end on payroll.

However, BIG HOWEVER, he is the only person he knows that does this. Having been in the industry doing it for some 2 decades he doesn't know anyone else doing it. Sure lots of other places building the same old rig to ship out to the next oil find, but he is the only one doing this.

I'm sure your uncle is a fine engineer and manufacturer, but it simply isn't true that drilling technology is static. Here are the innovations in well-construction I'm aware of that have come in the past 20 years - and I'm sure there are more, as I'm not even a drilling engineer...

  • Topdrive (a biggie)
  • Iron Roughneck - automated tubular handling (what you mentioned)
  • Underbalance, dual-gradient and air-lift drilling
  • Rotary steerable bottomhole assemblies (another biggie)
  • Logging while drilling, up to and including image logging
  • Dual-derrick drillships
  • Expandable completion technology
  • Invert emulsion and biodegradable muds
  • The entire toolkit that lets you drill and operate multi-branch wells
  • ...plus the usual steady evolutionary improvement in design, materials, manufacturing, miniaturization, automation, reliability, integration and general applications know-how that you get in any sort of technology. None of this is revolutionary, but taken altogether it drives costs down (or keeps them constant), generally by letting you drill the same kinds of wells faster, and occasionally it lets you drill wells that can do things that weren't previously possible: like a single well that encloses a pattern and lets you inject through one wellhead instead of four.

    Would you agree that the technology we use to extract oil now is greater and more efficient than we used in say 1940?

    No, I am sorry. The data is solidly against "more efficient". EROI of oil and natural gas recovery has dropped steadily since the 1940's. Technology has allowed us to reach deposits we could not reach before, but at the cost of a large portion of the energy we hoped to recover. (and a huge explosion in CO2 generation, which we cannot afford).

    If you are going to argue that we will recover those 89 billion barrels, you need to subtract out the barrels needed to make the effort.

    A post that discusses the economic contraction that will happen as we try to use those resources is here:


    The Law of Diminishing Returns may well apply to new technology and oil extraction (I think it will),

    Pumping in water to keep pressure up was the first EOR, Working great ! Cheap & effective and not that difficult to figure out the correct amounts to pump in and where.

    It has all been downhill since in improved EOR.

    Little Hope for the JIT Technology Fairy,


    2008 - 1940 = 68 years

    And you're comparing that to technology in 20 years? Are you confused or a charlatan? If you say 20 years ago, 1988, and compare that to now, the change in technology is a lot less impressive. I hope the smart people writing $%$% are thinking more clearly than your post.

    The Law of Diminishing Returns may well apply to new technology and oil extraction (I think it will),

    Pumping in water to keep pressure up was the first EOR, Working great ! Cheap & effective and not that difficult to figure out the correct amounts to pump in and where.

    It has all been downhill since in improved EOR.

    Little Hope for the JIT Technology Fairy,


    i think you missed the point. if the oil is not economically recoverable, it might as well be on titan.

    and another point, 1940 was 68 yrs ago, not 20. most of what is currently know about oil reservoirs was known in the 1950's. ...............and about that thai process, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

    Yeah, and a trip to Titan could potentially add an additional gazillion barrels of liquid hydrocarbons to the total recoverable hydrocarbon resources of the US, although all of that is definitely not economically recoverable.

    There's also enough hydrogen in the universe to power the universe.

    The supply of stupidity in Washington DC is clearly infinite, however.

    Mish wonders, "Where is all the oil money going?". (large graphics warning)

    Ya...saw this earlier over at Mish's site. Dubailand...wow. Frickin amazing in the amount of money and waste going into that city!!

    Dubailand...wow. Frickin amazing in the amount of money and waste going into that city!!

    Soon to be renamed "Dubyaland", in honor of the man that made it all possible.

    Let's hope they have enough money left for dikes & pumps once sea levels start to rise faster.

    Looks like Dubai is trying to recreate New York City, Disney Land, and Las Vegas all at once.

    My question is why or for what purpose?

    Do they expect to rely exclusively on the world continuing as currently envisioned only set in the future (theme parks, unlimited and inexpensive air travel, affluent tourists, conspicuous consumption)? Or does Dubai have its sights set on loftier goals? Perhaps as a rising capitol/capital of the world?

    Please don't misread me. I'm not implying a grand conspiracy. Just seems so odd to see such a massive outpouring of energy and money if the only thing on developers' minds is to make an oversized fantasy dream park for the petroleum-supplied rich. Is there that many millionaires in the world to meet demand?

    And if not, surely Dubai could afford to hire an actuary or two to point this out.

    What if 'they' are building Dubai as a kind of giant gated community cum holiday camp for all the world's remaining rich folk after the grand collapseroonie? It's got it all - oil supply, hostile buffer zone to keep out the starving billions, links to the rest of the worldwide network of oiligarchs...

    Nah. It's a the last heave of a sick society.


    Naw. Haliburton moving the HQ to the Middle East has no relationsip to your ideas.

    Move along citizen. Nothing to see here.

    Hi Zadok,
    It does seem odd.

    You know, I think they should juxtposition a landscape portrait of present day, bullet-ridden downtown Baghdad (formerly known as the "Paris of the Middle East") with some of these photos of Dubai.

    Wouldn't that make a great billboard. There'd have to be a some kind of catchy phrase scrawled across the whole thing...

    I wonder how many people driving by such a billboard would make some sort of connection.

    Beruit would be the Paris of the ME, not Baghdad. I think the Iraq capital would have been better compared to ... Newark?

    It's not only oil money, but also billions of dollars of trade with Iran. The UAE does not have the same trade sanctions with Iran as the EU and US. Goods are shipped to the UAE first and then make their way to Iran after being marked up by quite a bit (e.g. 100%). They also have abusive labor practices.

    I find it ironic that, as we head into post-peak, our last big oil project is a Fantasyland.

    I hope Kunstler writes about it.

    Moe_Gamble -

    From what I've seen and read about Dubai I would have say that it is a center of grotesqueness and excess on a scale that easily dwafts the palace of Versaille plus all other pleasure domes built by self-aggrandizing monachs throughout the ages. On a more sinister note, it will probably soon be the world's largest and most wealthy gated community.

    I don't know whether to call the whole concept of Dubai visionary or delusional (though I suppose in many cases the two are one and same thing).

    I have this fantasy of two archaeologist in the year 4008 stumbling across the runes of Dubai and looking at each other in puzzlement with that 'what the F@#*?' expression on their faces. No doubt, when they find that indoor ski slope in the middle of the desert, they will conclude that, contrary to scientific consensus, the climate on the Arabian Peninsula circa 2007 must have actually been cold.

    Yes, Dubai is perfect fodder for one of Kunstler's rants.

    The Palm Islands in Dubai

    Upon completion, the resort will have 2,000 villas, 40 luxury hotels, shopping centers, movie theaters, and many other facilities. It is expected to support a population of approximately 500,000 people. It is advertised as being visible from the moon.

    Three of these Palms will be made with the last one being the largest of them all.

    Bets some Sheik will have to have a Palm Island larger than that one. Hey, wait a minute, this seems oddly familiar...

    Look Abdul! My rock is bigger than your rock.

    It’s not HARD to figure out what insecurities are at play here.

    Sorry for any offense: just too tempting.

    The Palm Islands in Dubai

    Upon completion, the resort will have 2,000 villas, 40 luxury hotels, shopping centers, movie theaters, and many other facilities. It is expected to support a population of approximately 500,000 people. It is advertised as being visible from the moon.

    I hope they are building them well above sea level

    Edit I see this was covered by Shargash already, sorry

    Just make it 2108. It will be a ruin before then. Arabia will go back to being Arabia. I highly recommend Thesiger's Arabian Sands for a window into what this world was like at the time when oil was first being discovered. The population of the entire subcontinent was about a million (Ex-Palestine,Syria & Iraq), likely reflecting it's natural pre-FF carrying capacity (carrying capacity of people who were knowledgable in how to live there!).


    Thesiger's book is a classic - right up there with T.E. Lawrence's "The Seven Pillars of Wisdom"

    although with the way they've been draining the aquafers out there in the desert (to grown expensive WHEAT of all things!) - not sure the water sources in the wadis and oases will still be there.

    I think they better build a LOT of pv desalinization plants for when the oil and gas runs out...

    Ironically, Abu Dhabi is going for the first "green city".

    Abu Dhabi's renewable energy initiative, Masdar, has laid the cornerstone of its carbon-neutral, waste-free city, saying it will invest $22bn in the hope that the project becomes a blueprint for sustainable development around the world.

    Oil-rich Abu Dhabi said it was committing $15bn (€10.3bn, £7.7bn) into a broad range of alternative energy projects beyond Masdar City, such as solar and hydrogen power plants and solar panel manufacturing sites.


    From the sublime (Abu Dhabi) to the ridiculous (Dubai).

    I've read (but the link requires login) there are about 500,000 migrant workers in Dubai. This probably doesn't count the persons (literally) trafficked.


    Perhaps the energy used in travel (and used up in trauma) by the "supporting human infrastructure" (workers, persons sexually exploited, etc.) of the city negates the "green" factor, if one were to do a complete energy audit.

    From the Economic Report of the President:

    Even if production has peaked, we are unlikely to abruptly run out of oil. As the price rises over time, producers will have an incentive to retain some of the resource to sell at a later date and consumers will have an incentive to transition away from oil consumption. Over time, the price rise will make the adoption of alternative energy sources more and more likely.

    Note firstly that, at least in the part quoted by Leanan, there is no denial of peak oil. Note secondly that the possibility of peak oil is explicitly entertained to some degree.

    I agree 100% with the section I've just quoted. Many people see high prices as a failure. Au contraire, they are the signal that makes transition possible. People developing renewable technology pray for high oil prices. Low prices would sink their enterprises.

    We still apparently have a lot of people who are simply not paying attention, who apparently think that by "peak oil" we mean "no oil". Or is it stupidity rather than inattention? Or (more likely), is it plain misrepresentation -- set up a straw man that is easy to knock down?

    That's been my experience in talking to people. They want to misrepresent "peak oil" as "catastrophic sudden absence of oil" to allow for continued denial.

    Whatever -- it is pretty clear that if no one has money to buy oil, the demand will diminish to zero, and the "peak" will essentially be irrelevant. That won't happen either, so the truth is somewhere in the muddy middle.

    It still seems like there is plenty to go around if people will just stop being so greedy, arrogant and ultimately, anxious. History doesn't give out much hope of that either.

    But it's worth while trying. A person has one life to live -- why not try to live cooperatively? We might fail at that enterprise, but the life of singular acquisitiveness and paranoid protection of assets is certainly going to fail -- and then you are alone in the dark.

    Many peak oilers do mean "no oil" for all intents and purposes. Hence they encourage people to move to the country and grow their own food.

    Err, perhaps they mean 'no oil for me' where Me is in the set of classes expressed by the poor and people who think they are middle class.

    I think high prices make transition more expensive, and as oil supplies decline, less likely. Transition essentially requires a huge investment of oil.

    I absolutely agree! Once the prices for fossil fuels start to rise, it means the EROI of that fuel is falling quickly. Less energy means less possible investment.

    Our folly was letting renewable and non-renewable fuels compete in the market on the basis of which one could be produced more cheaply. Thus we have waited until our society is nearly out of energy before trying to transition.

    The dot com IPO growth/crash phenomena is a perfect metaphor: A company has an Accounting Department and a Factory selling widgets. The CEO says "Whoever can put a million dollar check in my hand for the lowest cost wins a bonus". Well the accounting department wins! It takes pennies on the dollar to cut a check in accounting. The factory is lucky to see 35% margins.

    The CEO then cuts the factory budget and hires more accountants. All is well and the party goes on until the company IPO funds are exhausted. Then the company does not "transition" and rebuild the factory. It goes bankrupt, having spent its precious capital.

    Our folly was letting renewable and non-renewable fuels compete in the market on the basis of which one could be produced more cheaply.

    I agree. There's this incredibly naive, misguided notion out there that things like solar will become more short-term competitive as the price of oil goes up. But it's not true. The price of solar will go up at the same rate as the price of oil, because oil will be the limiting factor in production.

    We've seen a little improvement in the short-term competitiveness of solar from 1) exporting production to low-wage countries and 2) increases in scale. But the rate at which further improvements will come will not overcome the oil decline rate.

    The only way an investment in solar makes sense is if you understand what the oil decline rate is going to do not only to oil prices but all commodity prices.

    Although this is not true if there are technological breakthroughs in solar manufacturing that greatly reduce the cost, e.g. Nanosolar and others...I get your point though.

    I don't understand the linkage you are trying to establish here.

    Transport costs will rise, as oil is important in that, and there will be some level of general price inflation, mitigated by any recession induced by oil prices.

    Power generation is largely about coal and nuclear though, and power needs in solar production have to be a lot more important than transport, so I can't understand the basis of your argument.

    Wind turbines should be affected a lot more - lots of material being transported about there, as I suppose would utility scale solar thermal.

    Transition essentially requires a huge investment of oil.

    I think this is a fallacy.

    Many Americans could transition their personal lives in a week, 24 hours even. i.e. Rent an apartment or portion of a house close to work and mail the keys to your McMansion to the lender. Energy use cut in half. Done.

    Much of the transition is a no-brainer because it involves conservation. (Of course there is such a thing as smart conservation)

    As far as manufacturing solar equipment etc, there is a push on now to use idled auto parts production capacity for that purpose. In fact, there are solar technologies that use neither silicon nor rare metals or exotic materials. Just the usual glass, copper and aluminum. You could practically recycle suburbia, complete with the SUVs, into solar generation capacity.

    I think the fallacy is on your side.

    Consider the metropolitan area I live in (not atypical for those outside the northeast and midwest) - there are about 2 million people total, about 200,000 of them live in the city proper and of those perhaps half live in the central city.

    Now if we all move closer to our job, some of us won't need to move to the city center as our jobs are in commercial/industrial zones astride the highways, but certainly another 500,000 or so would need to move in close. But even with all the unfinished condos started during the real estate boom, there simply isn't the housing available for that many.

    I work in one of those commercial zones - the number of houses within a mile of where I work might be sufficient for my company, but not for the folks in work in the building next door, or the other two dozen on this street (and there's three other commercial parks right around this exit, all in the same situation).

    No, the reality is that our metropolitan areas outside of the northeast were designed with the automobile in mind and it would take massive investments to change that.

    But even with all the unfinished condos started during the real estate boom, there simply isn't the housing available for that many.

    This makes no sense to me. Even if the numbers you give are true, obviously what happens is that people cram in like sardines just like they currently do in much of the world.

    I don't think Americans are special in this respect.

    Oh, but now you've changed the rules - you not only want people to move closer to their jobs, but you want them to change (what was it, in 24 hours?) the way they think about housing and personal space?

    Any other provisos you'd like to add?

    You make it sound like this is rocket science.

    Leanan posted some stats a couple of weeks back that showed that historically 1/3 of Americans thereabouts are downwardly mobile.

    Many Americans already know how to become poorer. We all know people in this situation. They don't fall off the face of the earth. The vast majority adjust and get on with their lives.

    I've been rich, and I've been poor -- rock bottom poor, poor like Fleam. Then my fortunes changed for the better.

    Believe it or not, becoming poor took very little planning!!!

    There is definitely a skill to being poor. I'd be better at it now, for instance. But it's not the kind of thing you have to prepare for many years in advance!

    ADDENDUM: That said, doesn't hurt to reduce energy consumption while you are rich.

    ADDENDUM2: Although I think a personal transition to a lower energy lifestyle is not horribly complicated, governments are in a different situation. It definitely behooves them to think a ahead in order to mitigate peak oil.

    ADDENDUM3: Historically public works infrastructure projects have been pursued by governments in hard times both because they help to offset the recession/depression and because labour and materials are cheaper and more available during downturns.

    Rocket science? I have no idea what you are talking about.

    You claimed that we could cut energy use in half by just having people move closer to their jobs. You mentioned nothing else (though your next paragraphs extolled conservation and low tech solar).

    When pushed on this you change your tune - now its not just moving closer to work, but doubling up in apartments/condos (is this the return of the extended family or just roomies).

    And when called on this you start going on about how poverty is in our future. So, exactly what is your point?

    My take of his point is that the elasticity of demand is higher than most anticipate when TSHTF. In an emergency, people will do what ever it takes.

    An example might be "hot cots" that rooming houses rented to war production workers during WW II. A desirable location (say 2 blocks from the gate) could rent the same bed to two different shifts.

    Now, if I had more assurance that the USA of 2008/9/10 was just like the Greatest Generation, I would be more sanguine.

    Best Hopes for Doing Whatever it Takes,


    Now, if I had more assurance that the USA of 2008/9/10 was just like the Greatest Generation, I would be more sanguine.

    You may be victim to the "Greatest" Generation's propaganda. :-)

    They were no angels!

    No, but they did perform production miracles !

    They had enough discipline and co-operation to get the job done, even under difficult circumstances.

    Best Hopes for "Pulling Together",


    Amen to that.

    Hot cots are a disaster waiting to happen when flu is on the loose. This is why the 1918 pandemic was so, err, exciting. Influenza mutates very rapidly so when you have lots of people in close quarters coughing on each other, as we did with all of the wounded soldier in this years, there are effects like "waves" of the virus circling the globe, at that time on a six week basis, but now it would likely be much quicker ... until quarantine kicked in.

    I'm not saying we won't be living much closer together, I'm just saying this is one outcome of that.

    My point is that a successful transition to a post peak world does not require a huge investment of oil.

    Becoming poorer is a possible and acceptable adaptation that is not nearly as difficult as people think. It results in massive energy savings rather rapidly.

    So don't fret too much on your personal transition plan.

    In addition, if push comes to shove, 350 million Americans and Canadians becoming poorer will free up resources for use on public infrastructure projects.

    Waiting for prices rises to signal that you have to change your lifestyle is not a horrible strategy at all for us individually. It's less ideal for governments, but even there, it's sometimes not as bad as launching expensive, poorly conceived mitigation strategies that don't work at all as planned because the future is hard to predict in detail (and the little details can screw your plans).

    Canada---which is energy self sufficient and is not spending itself into the poorhouse with deficits like the US--may do better in the future, unless the bullies are going to head north to spread the poverty. jmho

    Canada is NOT energy self-sufficient. The largest proportion of the population, that living in the east, is reliant on oil imports. And Canada is the only nation with a trade agreement stipulating that a minimum percentage of its fuels be exported to its trading partner, the US: http://www.energybulletin.net/40035.html

    Even if the numbers you give are true, obviously what happens is that people cram in like sardines just like they currently do in much of the world.

    Okay, I agree it won't take an energy investment to give up on the world and go with a doomer scenario.

    What I said is that it will take a huge energy investment to increase efficiency enough to maintain some kind of decent society as we power down.

    A doomer scenario is one where society collapse with mass death.

    In contrast, the "crammed in like sardines" case is more like Eastern Europe under the Soviets. i.e. A family has 2-3 small rooms max. (I've toured old apartments there)

    BTW, I regard this as highly unlikely as a permanent result. But it's a useful thought experiment. I do believe that the US and Canada could be busted down to that old Eastern Europe standard of living without the society falling apart. The energy savings would be incredible.

    Americans and Canadians wouldn't exactly be crammed in like sardines anyway.

    Here in the UK the average person has around half the floor space of an American, and we don't exactly live in conditions likely to cause mass epidemics.

    I used to make a living splitting houses into flats, which takes a lot of work and not a lot of materials, just basically alter some plumbing and electrics, re-route the stairs if you have to and put in some doors.

    That would increase densities to the point where public transport is a lot more viable.

    If people are not travelling so much to the shops but are going local or having deliveries you also have vast areas of car parks available for builds to increase density.

    In fact, there are solar technologies that use neither silicon nor rare metals or exotic materials. Just the usual glass, copper and aluminum.

    And glass, copper, and aluminum will go up in price at the same rate as oil. Even if you recycle, the recycled glass, copper and aluminum will go up in price at the same rate as oil. That's what the commodity price boom is--a manifestation of the oil price boom.

    As oil gets scarce, it becomes the limiting factor in the mining or manufacture of everything. For example, without energy, copper in the ground is worthless. Copper only appears to have value because energy has been so cheap. Now that oil is the limiting factor, the price of copper essentially becomes the price of oil. The price of recycled copper also becomes the price of the energy needed to recycle it.

    Also, it really is absurd to claim that most Americans could transition their personal lives in a week. For one thing, there is a huge amount of energy invested in what already exists. To replace a car with a more energy efficient car, or with electric trains, takes a great amount of energy.

    And if everyone leaves his house in the 'burbs next week, there will be no place to go to. That move too will require a huge energy investment--an investment in building new energy efficient housing. Not only that, but if everyone mails in his keys at once, all the banks will fail, the markets will fail, industry will close.

    I mean, really, George. I think blind optimism is a much worse problem than blind pessimism. Blind optimism is what has kept us from making the necessary energy investments while energy was plentiful. Now things are really tough, and getting much tougher by the month.

    And glass, copper, and aluminum will go up in price at the same rate as oil.

    Even if its true, it doesn't matter much.

    What matters is how much useful work was produced by that oil, glass, aluminum etc.

    If you are an oil user, your costs rise much as oil rises.

    If you are a solar user, your costs do not rise nearly as proportionately to the cost of aluminum, copper etc. i.e. There is no 'law' of receding horizons. This is because much of the cost of solar is in labour and knowhow.

    Last few years oil has risen by 5 times, but costs for solar have continued to fall.

    I mean, really, George. I think blind optimism is a much worse problem than blind pessimism. Blind optimism is what has kept us from making the necessary energy investments while energy was plentiful. Now things are really tough, and getting much tougher by the month.

    I'm no blind optimist. I've suggested in this thread that for many people their primary adaptation to peak oil could be by becoming poorer (if renewables don't come on strong enough)

    How could things be really tough when retail sales rose nicely last month?


    Latest retail sales numbers for January show Americans are cutting back on pricey discretionary purchases

    Although retail sales showed a surprising rebound in January after a dismal slump in December, some economists say there are plenty of signs that consumer spending is slowing even if it hasn't completely hit the skids.

    "We have to be very careful in interpreting the January sales report. I think the report is far weaker than the headline figures suggest," said Scott Hoyt, director of consumer economics with Moody's Economy.com.

    The problem? Part of the "strength" is the increase spent on gasoline.

    Excluding both the auto and gas station sales, January retail sales were actually flat for the month and up just 2.6% year-over-year. That's would be the weakest monthly sales gain since April 2003, Hoyt said.

    Also: "The International Council of Shopping Centers, which tracks retail industry trends, said January gift-card redemptions have been a significant lift to retail sales in previous years." And according to the article, the gift cards aren't necessarily being spent on fun stuff.

    I agree that solar panels will increase our overall energy efficiency. What I'm saying is that it's going to get more and more costly to attain this energy efficiency, because the cost of solar panels is going to be going up at the same rate as oil.

    I've already explained why the price of solar panels came down--most of it was a one-time gain by exporting production to China. We're not going to see any more gains like that. Further efficiency gains in the manufacture of solar panels will not keep up with the oil decline rate, and that's the problem.

    Solar panels are not dreamed up out of know-how. They have to be manufactured. That takes energy for the production and transport of the commodities involved in manufacture, and it takes energy for the manufacture. It also takes energy to get labor to the manufacturing site, and to feed and house the labor. Labor requires energy just like any other input.

    How could things be really tough when retail sales rose nicely last month?


    Okay, I'm assuming you're making a joke here. For anyone out there who might not know better, that 0.3% increase is not adjusted for inflation. From The Big Picture blog:

    "The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for January, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $382.9 billion, an increase of 0.3 percent (±0.5%)* from the previous month and 3.9 percent (±0.7%) above January 2007."

    Not for price changes means that these are nominal -- not inflation adjusted -- numbers.

    Hence, with Gasoline station sales up 23%, and non-store retailers (home oil delivery) up 10.6%, the surprise gains were all energy/inflation related.

    Retail sales excluding inflation were down.

    Again, my point is that it is going to take a huge energy investment to make us more energy efficient. If you've been poor, then you know full well that it's much harder to make investments from a position of poverty than a position of wealth. As oil production declines, we're getting poorer by the month, and our ability to make the kinds of energy investments we need to make is also on the decline.

    For sure retail sales weren't stellar, but much better than expected.

    But that's beside the point...

    I've already explained why the price of solar panels came down--most of it was a one-time gain by exporting production to China.

    I disagree in part. Don't have a reference on hand (but will look it up), but one of the big solar companies increased the energy efficiency of their flagship product by 15% last year alone. There are advances in the industry that make this gain look like peanuts.

    Again, my point is that it is going to take a huge energy investment to make us more energy efficient.

    Again my answer is "no". If it comes to it, your personal energy use can decline very rapidly in a short period of time with no change in the energy efficiency of the appliances you use. You'll use them less or not at all.

    Furthermore, many technical energy efficiency issues can be dealt with rather easily. How hard is it, for instance, to design a fridge that's half the size of current ones? or better yet, increase production of beer fridges? Such examples are easy to come by.

    You are basically saying, "We need huge investment to stay rich (and getting richer) with oil production declining."

    Well, good luck with that. I was bumped off the hedonistic treadmill once and now I can't take it seriously!!

    It's very possible that the EROI of renewables will end up being less than we are currently getting from FF. If so, we may be poorer unless tech catches up. Cry me a river.

    Ironically, my optimism about peak oil adaptation is partially based on having experienced poverty. I'm absolutely convinced the average American (no matter how much they currently howl -- and they do howl) can adapt to living on 1/2 their current income or less.

    I'm absolutely convinced the average American (no matter how much they currently howl -- and they do howl) can adapt to living on 1/2 their current income or less.

    This passage helps me to understand your other claim earlier about moving closer to work. But I still think you have missed something.

    While it is probably true that the average American could adapt to a sudden reduction in income, it does not follow that the entire society could do so. It's not just a matter of a person or family reducing their expectations, its that our economy is based on growth. Sure, we can theoretically increase the production of "beer fridges," but does that happen in reality when there is no growth prospect for the company?

    (Dear investor (or bank manager), we want you to invest (or give us a loan) in our new product line of smaller refrigerators. We'll need x million to convert our assembly line, our sales and support staff will remain the same. We have figured that this new line will keep the company, but we'll be a fraction the size of we used to be, and we see no prospect of selling more fridges next year than this year.)

    The real rub, though, is that what happens to the income of the "average" American is only part of the issue. There's a whole world out there that will also be dealing with these issues and there's going to be a whole lot of spill over effects (war, disease, migration, futile lashing out at the wealthy west).

    its that our economy is based on growth. Sure, we can theoretically increase the production of "beer fridges," but does that happen in reality when there is no growth prospect for the company?

    I would agree that many people in the economy desire growth and lust after it. But I don't agree that the economy is based on it. Japan, for instance, would not have fallen apart without the modest growth that finally arrived this decade after having suffered through their famous "Lost Decade". (Had a friend who taught English there during much of the '90s. For the life of him, he could see hardly any sign of economic distress.)

    RE: beer fridges

    When growth prospects fade, companies downsize and change their product lines to fit the times. Standard stuff.

    In addition, many companies (especially tech companies) have very little or no debt. So a credit crunch is not fatal.

    So we know that free market societies can experience depression , stagnation, and recession without falling apart. We know that companies can downsize and adapt to harsh conditions. We know that downward mobility is not rare in the populace. People adapt.

    If it comes to world war, I agree, all bets are off.

    I lived in Japan from 1988 to 1991 (pre-bubble burst)and then again from 1995 to 1997 (post bubble), visiting several times in between. Believe me, there was a huge difference and all sorts of signs of "economic distress" in the 90s. One of the biggest tolls was on the kids graduating from high school post boom - they had normalized it, but their parents couldn't understand how holding a job at a "combi" store has suddenly become a valued way of living.

    The real difference, though, and why Japan of the nineties is not a good example, is that while there was a decade of little to no growth and a handful of quarters of contraction, they did not see any widespread reduction in their standard of living. It was kind of like working year after year and not getting a raise (this was literally true for the English teachers as wages were the same both times I lived there), expectations aren't met, but there was no halving of income or anything remotely close.

    But it seems to me that you are being a bit disingenuous, or perhaps just naive, when you want to make this out to be no different than a business cycle bottom or even a "depression." There is in that assessment a built in assumption that the down times will end, the business cycle will turn up, we'll come out of the depression and growth will continue.

    So, while you may be right that people adapt. Your attempt to make a corollary of that to be "free market societies" won't collapse, comes off as being an attempt to minimize the significance of the problem. "Free market societies" did collapse as a result of responses to the great depression, others changed so dramatically that they very nearly weren't "free market" any longer (including the U.S). And that was just a decade or less.

    No, all civility will not fall away, we won't see a war of all against all (such visions were given to us by the rather limited experience and self important worldviews of a hand full of western European political thinkers that thought their own wars were an example of what the "state of nature" would be like - never realizing that it was their "civil" kings, the very crown of civilization, that was sending them into war).

    But to argue that our society, or any society can go through a halving of its income, without changing dramatically (yes, falling apart) is to be in denial. Yes, some institutions, mores, values, etc., will survive, few will be unchanged and many more will fail. And some new ones will no doubt come to the fore.

    No, downsizing is what happened in 2001. This won't be downsizing, this will be the end of our current form of economics.

    Shaman, one item left out of your post: The Japanese are savers and savers will always weather a downturn better than debtors...unless, of course, hyper inflation is in the mix.

    I think that is true of the older generation called dan kai (similiar to the US's boomers).

    But the newer generation has almost no savings, they are scraping to get by (and by scrape by I mean keep up with the disgusting consumerism that plauges this culture).

    One of the biggest tolls was on the kids graduating from high school post boom - they had normalized it, but their parents couldn't understand how holding a job at a "combi" store has suddenly become a valued way of living.

    they did not see any widespread reduction in their standard of living. It was kind of like working year after year and not getting a raise

    Shaman, here you make my point for me. On my scale, if that's "one of the biggest tolls", it's just not a big deal and I know first hand what it's like to chronically violate parental expectations. (admittedly not in an asian society, though ) So, in my view, Japan came through the '90s swimmingly. There was no downward spiral or any serious threat of it.

    No halving of income in Japan. However, it's example of a free market system that existed without growth for a while without huge distress.

    Your attempt to make a corollary of that to be "free market societies" won't collapse, comes off as being an attempt to minimize the significance of the problem.

    I'm not arguing that peak oil is business as usual or a normal business cycle.

    My strategy here is to look at very pessimistic scenarios and ask, Could we handle it? Would the nation survive? And, very importantly: could individuals adjust without years of potentially useless torturous planning? If the pessimistic scenarios turn out not to be terminal, we are in pretty good shape, I think. In reality, I don't believe there is much chance that peak oil will result in a halving of US incomes.

    What I'm taking aim at is the notion that there is some fatal flaw in the economic system (perceived wrongly as frail) that will be exposed by peak oil and will result in it collapsing. Yes, that approach of mine could easily be construed as minimizing peak oil. I'm not arguing that free markets are moral, but that they are resilient and robust in many ways, especially when you consider that "The System" now has checks and balances to avoid the worst outcomes for individuals. (Some of those thanks to the Great Depression)

    The view many hold here is that we have missed our chance to mitigate peak oil and that the economic system is flailing helplessly. This I flatly regard as false.

    But to argue that our society, or any society can go through a halving of its income, without changing dramatically (yes, falling apart) is to be in denial.

    I am indeed arguing that a halving of US income would result in neither starvation nor die-off in the US. The nation would not collapse and people would adjust. If that's denial, then I'm in denial. Dramatic change? Sure. Falling apart? No.

    But during this time Japan did not cut its energy consumption much either! Oil consumption in japan has been about 5 million b/d for the past 20 years, give or take a few hundred thousand b/d, that was replaced by imported LNG. How well they would have done if they hade to actually cut oil consumption is another question.

    George, I think I'm done here. I'm not seeing any actual discussion here. You just keep repeating the same platitudes without engaging any of the arguments I've offered. I have no problem going back and forth with people who disagree with my perspective, it sharpens the mind and gets us to think differently - but that requires argument, not just negation.

    This is how I see the narrower argument:

    Shaman: Free market systems are predicated on growth.

    George: Japan in the '90s is an example of a free market economy that barely grew and yet experienced no huge distress.

    The background argument is about the effectiveness of free markets to deal with peak oil.

    My view is that they...
    a)...can foster the intense competitive technological development necessary to produce renewables even in harsh economic conditions.
    b)...provide the means to efficiently discipline us with forced conservation/poverty should that effort not be sufficient.

    thanks for chatting

    One other thing George, if you don't believe that our economic system is based on growth, maybe you need to take another look.

    I've suggested in this thread that for many people their primary adaptation to peak oil could be by becoming poorer (if renewables don't come on strong enough)

    The obvious flaw to the 'move closer to work' scenario is the high likelihood that there will be no work. The coming economic crunch may be long and brutal. Being poor (I've been there too) is not the same as being destitute.

    I have my optimistic moments and my pessimistic moments. In the pessimistic moments I see the big approaching danger as social breakdown brought about by economic crash. In this case we won't suffer for lack of resources, just lack of the organizational economic 'glue' that makes things work. I think Gale the Actuary is correct that not enough people see the importance of the economic part of the back of Hubbert's curve. I can easily envision cities of hungry people right smack next door to fields that have crops rotting in them because of distortions in the whole economic infrastructure.

    Economies have a disturbing tendency to make sudden shifts and are a lot more susceptible to crashes than resource supplies.

    Ya...I've thought about moving closer to my job, but what if I scrap where I'm living now, move closer to work and then get laid off. I would lose my little plot of land in the burbs and lower density of starving masses. Tough decision.

    The obvious flaw to the 'move closer to work' scenario is the high likelihood that there will be no work.

    But even in the Great Depression, most people had jobs.

    I agree that being poor is not the same as being destitute. I've never experienced the latter.

    Shock horror for would-be power cable thief

    LONDON (Reuters) - Police in central England are hunting for a badly scorched would-be copper power cable thief after finding a hacksaw embedded in an 11,000 volt power cable Saturday night.

    ...Copper prices have more than doubled in the last four years as China has gobbled up huge quantities of it, sparking a wave of copper thefts across the globe from South Africa and the United States to Italy and Britain.

    Thieves targeting power lines and electricity substations have already led to two fatalities in Britain and many serious injuries, while leaving thousands without power.

    Canidates for the Darwin awards?

    Energy prices are not determined by oil prices, as oil is not used much to generate it.

    They have risen together recently as there has been a general boom, but in a recession the one which is really in short supply, oil, would remain expensive and other prices should de-link.

    There is an awful lot of scrap in the houses we are hypothecating would become empty!

    There is an awful lot of scrap in the houses we are hypothecating would become empty!

    In all cases but a total collape, someone owns that 'scrap'. Odds are the difference between the cost of the morgage and the cost of the pulled scrap is such few wanna take a bath on that.

    Of course not, but many here are saying that things will get bad enough that a lot of people can't afford to pay their mortgage.
    If they move out and into rented accomodation, which I am arguing would likely be in flats at higher density and closer to the city centres, then high fuel costs would mean that their old house in the suburbs was too far out to be rented out.

    Scrap then becomes available to alter house into flats near cities.

    I agree there are major savings in this type of housng arrangement.

    I puchased a 4 bed house near Cambridge in the UK as cost wise it wasnt a hugeincrease on a 2 bed perhaps 25% more. I rent out 2 room to guys who live elsewhere but work inCambridge.

    End result.

    I take 90% of my mortgage payment in rents

    I have reinvested som of the money in a condensing boiler, 400mm of loft insulation, cavity wall installation and installed vacuum tube solar water heating.

    They cut about 35000 miles of commuting, save about 25 hours a week of their lives, nd save approx 3200 litres of diesel.

    The cost of energy (all energy, not just oil, because as people substitute all energy prices will rise) is going to take an increasingly big slice of the economic pie, leaving less of the pie for everything else. That is a pretty safe bet, and individuals and households would be well advised to plan accordingly. Arranging one's lifestyle so that one is less dependent upon energy (and upon non-renewable energy in particular), and upon necessities with high energy inputs (first and foremost, food), is a prudent plan given these planning assumptions.

    I believe this even holds true under some alternative scenarios. Let's say that the calculations of Peak Oilers are off, that there is quite a bit more oil out there that can be pumped, and that we're not going to stop sliding down the slope for a couple of decades yet. Well, that is likely to just mean that the price increases are going to be driven by increasing demand (especially from China & India) rather than by decreasing supply. And even if global production stays flat or even increases a little, US production is clearly far down from the peak and won't be reversing. We know that some of that increasing demand is coming from the oil exporting countries themselves, which means (per WT's ELM) that we're likely to see flat or declining exports while at the same time the US needs to import more. Thus, the premise still holds: energy is going to be taking up ever bigger pieces of the economic pie.

    Let's try a different assumption: let's assume that we are going to start making some massive investments in exploration and production to really try and turn this thing around. Let me remind you that those investments also represent demands on our GDP, and thus also count as part of that pie slice going to energy. The pie slice still increases.

    Finally, let's consider what happens if we have a severe economic downturn. The economy cools, demand slacks, so energy prices should go down, right? Well, maybe, but energy prices are set by a global market, not just a US one. The US economy has less influence on the global market than it used to. The Chinese may be very happy to buy up all the oil that we don't need because of reduced demand. Furthermore, even if the demand for energy shrinks, that might be because the economic pie is shrinking even more. Thus, the proportionate size of the energy pie slice could still be increasing.

    As I said, I think that betting on increasing energy prices is a pretty safe bet, and it is quite prudent especially for ordinary people that are not well positioned to bet against it to plan accordingly.

    Thanks for that sound advice. Sometimes it helps just to try and do a mental exercise whereby we grow our way out of the current oil/economic bottle neck. Or 'sides of the jar' if you like. Which technology do we use? Any realistic evaluation always requires more %input that the current scheme.

    From now on any growth which stimulates the increased use of resources is pretty quickly met with higher price. And yet we will back up the growthmobile and slam the wall again and again. (energy constraint reminds me of that Twilight Zone episode where the salesman keeps hitting that invisible shield preventing him from escaping some little berg)

    I think this accounts somewhat for the relative ,if short term, success of things like the tech bubble and the dot com bubble and even to some extent the morgaged securities bubble where a lot of wealth moved around not too much real product. (The current bubble seems to be future debt so long as investors will buy in)

    As stated earlier all the products of infrastructure development are really energy in the form of a product. Just as food is. I am constantly amazed when I hear people waiting for the commodity bubble to burst. I doubt they want to see what goes with that one.

    Ever since the EROEI descended from the lofty heights of the heyday of the oil age anything which we truly cannot live without including alternative power sources will require increased portons of our net output. Like you I can't seem to imagine anything workable which will not.

    If crude prices do decline there is always the possibility that China and others with soverign wealth funds full of dollars will expand their own strategic reserves of crude with said dollars. For China this looks like a very good proposition for several reasons. Think about it.

    We will not abruptly run out of oil, but many of use will abruptly run out of the ability to afford that oil. It is a mistake to wait for the market to do its "magic". People and cities need help now in making the transition before mass economic hardship occurs.

    Looking at this holistically, could there be a relationship between easy lending policies, suburban sprawl, and oversized houses. Do we really want to encourage people to stay in homes or buy new homes they can barely afford? When energy costs truly hit the fan, these people will not be able to hold on.

    People should be encouraged to rent or buy much less house they can afford, not more than they can afford.

    It is a mistake to wait for the market to do its "magic". People and cities need help now in making the transition before mass economic hardship occurs.

    I agree, tstreet. Markets can only work when participants have good access to information. Official information on oil supply and production not only sucks, but is actively manipulated to achieve short-term results in the markets.

    Have you read anything about attempted municipal bond sales recently? The hardships are on us now, the effects of state, county and cities fruitless attempts to sell munis, at affordable interest rates, will be devestating. Goldman Sachs refused to handle a one hundred million bond sale by NY Port Authority...just one example of many in the last couple of months. Some munis are being sold but at interest rates approaching 20%...the amount investors are demanding for risk. Does this bring home the disconnect between Fed Funds Rates and the real world day to day ongoing financing of normal operations of cites and states?

    TheAutomaticEarth blog has a lengthly dissection of the bond sales issues, which are far scarier than I realized, at least until I read about it earlier tonight.

    Warren Buffet is putting up $5B to back the insurance of municipal bonds, which hardly ever default, and he'll get all of them as customers, leaving the monoline insureres such as AMBAC and MBIA holding the bag. The municipals are their cash cows and they'll have nothing in their portfolios but toxic CDO/MBS junk they're insured, and they'll blow away in the first good breeze, devaluing all corporate bonds, both good and bad.

    A central challenge faced by the renewables folks is getting around the effect higher oil prices have on the price of everything else. There is only a small time window between the oil rise and general inflation to make their move. It is why some say the alternatives will never cost less than fossil fuels and I agree. A nation does some things in spite of relative costs. Take defense. The performance of an aircraft must be better than the other guy's no matter the price. Renewables are being seen as a matter of national security by more and more people and ought to subsidized so it will be there when we most need it. More energy efficient ways of doing everything needs to be subsidized because negawatts are much healthier than megawatts. If some foreigners had snuck into the country and killed 1% of the people killed by air pollution the right wingers will say they must be stopped no matter the price.

    This is the Peak Oil site, not the Peak Energy site. The energy cost of solar and wind power is going down, the energy cost of oil and other liquids is going up.
    The economic price of coal is going up. This is very bluntly related to transport capacity of railroad and railroad to ship terminal. We have the coal. We don't have the ability to move the coal due to the increase in demand. You will note that we are not consuming more oil than in 2005, and we are consuming more coal.

    Kazakhstan to follow Norwegian Model ?

    Next year [2008] the Astana government is planning a bold attempt to distinguish its routine expenditure from the National Fund, which has been established to accumulate financial reserves for future generations.

    At present, the government uses the first $19 earned from each barrel of oil to finance its budget, sending anything above that sum to the National Fund. From next year [2008] however, all the revenue from oil sales “which average out to 1.3 million barrels a day at present” will be deposited in the Fund. The government will try to meet its day-to-day expenditures from its non-oil revenues, only drawing money from the Fund to cover the deficit and capital

    “The size of the transfer will show us how efficient the government has been in diversifying the economy away from oil,” says Kairat Kelimbetov, minister of economy and budget planning. ❖

    Best Hopes for Kazakhstan,


    Let's hope that they are not investing it in American or British bonds.
    Northern Rock and Enron spring to mind as the sort of place that kind of investment ends up.

    The trouble is that when you have umpteen billion hanging around the temptation to miss-use it it immense, and corruption often figures as well as incompetence.

    Full marks to them for trying, but two better strategies spring to mind:

    Give the money to the people individually and let them chose to invest it - corruption is hardly possible anyway that way, and people are usually better at choosing how to invest their money (or spend it) than governments.

    A second option would be simply to leave the oil they don't need in the ground. It is unlikely that their investments will net more than appreciation of the asset.

    The dilemma of how to store the oil wealth on a long term basis is a difficult one. Any financial type of investment depends on future growth to be able to pay off in terms of future goods and services. One can invest in heavy duty infrastructure that lasts a long time, but the options here are probably not enough to soak up Norway's current money surplus.

    The nations like Norway might not decline on the same schedule as other energy starved nations, but eventually we will all be energy poor and money poor as a result.

    Norway has built a number of hydroelectric projects (many run-of-the-river to minimize environmental impact) around the world. Chile in particular I am familiar with.

    Kazakhstan is building a standard gauge railroad across their own country to link China with Europe. They are also electrifying all of their own broad gauge RRs.

    There are a number of opportunities for long lived payouts, especially if one is satisfied with low but prolonged rates of return. Most of these are also beneficial as well.

    Best Hopes for Long Lived Energy Efficient Investments,


    First Solar up 20% this morning on strong profits....too late to jump on the stock bandwagon, but as I talk to installers about my future PV system, is there any point in looking for their panels? Or is that the CO. that has sold out for the next year or 2?

    I jumped on the First Solar bandwagon last month. The stock routinely moves five-ten bucks each day. And of course it is up thirty bucks today on strong fourth quarter earnings. All the profits I make on FSLR, I'll have to spend on tums. Do you have a lot of rooftop? Their panels are cheaper than silicon but not as efficient.

    Probably doesn't hurt that Abu Dhabi is now announcing a major solar/alternative enrgy initiative. IMO, a heck of a statement about their future crude oil productive capacity.


    Must be one of the best places in the World for solar.

    I tend to agree unless huge sandstorms quickly reduce PV panels and solar thermal reflecting mirrors to junk by the sandblasting effects.

    Is it just me or are all the reports coming out of the CERA conference claiming that all we need more technology and money to resolve the issue of harder to reach oil reserves??

    Your observation rings true to me, but what they are therefor concerned about is the prospect of cheap oil. Maybe they think that if they invest in the expensive stuff then "other people" will go ahead and start producing earlier discoveries like Jack #2 and Tupi. Tupi keeps getting bigger in the official estimates, and still no confirmation that it can ever be produced or what the breakdown of the tests show - what gravity of oil, how much of the BOE is gas, etc. But, Party on Dude! And keep wringing your hands about that cheap oil. Jack # 2 was completed in 2004, was it not?

    How about this: Biomass - One Trillion, Six Hundred and Eighty Three Billion Tons (non-aquatic, non Marine.)

    We use One percent for Transportation, One Percent for Food, and 3 percent for industry, and misc.

    That gives us 95% to look at, and go hiking, and have picnics in.

    Did I mention "nano" solar? Wave? Underwater Current? Wind? Waste (I guess this is part of biomass, though.)

    How about New Engine technologies. We are going to double the mileage of our engines in the next few years, you know. Fuel Cells are coming on, rapidly.

    We're rediscovering Bio Char. It's remarkable. Huge increases in crop yields on a fraction of the fertilizer. Oh, yeah, the new cellulosic plants will produce a lot of it. 3 Stack (soon to be 8 Stack) Corn from Monsanto. The CO2, itself, can be made into an excellent soil additive.

    Did I mention bioplastics? Cars that weigh half as much as at present?

    Science is "Exponential."

    You guys are doing way too much worrying. We're going to have a tough go for a couple of years while we transition; but, we're going to "come out" in a much cleaner, happier place. Can't you just see it?

    I prefer to stay in the window between fruitless despair and mindless optimism called 'sanity' ;-)

    To take one example, you mention fuel cells in the same paragraph and presumably in the same context as cars.

    Ballard has now given up, and the membrane technology that it lead the development of is still vastly expensive and used for demonstration cars only, which cost several hundred thousand dollars.

    There is a reason for the high cost - they use rare elements like platinum and palladium, which are rare and getting scarcer.

    Now in ways unforeseen these problems may be overcome, but don't count your chickens before they are hatched.

    Don't be mean, Dave :)

    I was thinking more along the lines of industrial applications; Like this (still a dream,) or what Fuel Cell is doing in Rialto, Ca, and other places.


    Can't you just see it?

    No. The difficulties of gathering and processing biomass take much/all of the potential energy to be derived from it, each in very limited special cases (sawdust from lumber mill, bagasse from sugar cane mill).

    Science is "Exponential

    Your "Popular Science" POV notwithstanding, it is not. Patents have already passed Peak (from memory). The easy to use good stuff has already been discovered and what is left is taking more time and effort to discover and results is less practical/useful knowledge to solve our problems than in the past.

    And anyone who derides (by inference) "Science" journal and posts links to rebuttals by "promotors" has little credibility with me.

    Best Hopes for not Believing in the Just-in-Time Technology Fairy will solve all of our problems,


    We're going to have a tough go for a couple of years while we transition

    True perhaps for nations that are preparing today, such as France (couple of years = 15 ?), but much longer for nations that are doing less than nothing today (United States of America). Perhaps 50 years ?

    My Best Hopes, USA 2034


    An example: A 5 year, 3 state study just completed by the Univ. of Nebraska, Lincoln concluded that switchgrass yielded 540% more energy than was required to grow, harvest, and refine said grass. Poet is harvesting the corn cobs at the same time as the corn kernels.

    We harvest trees for lumber; but, we can't pick up the waste for fuel?

    We can drill down several miles in a storm-ravaged ocean for oil; but, we can't grow poplar trees? Come on.

    Did I mention, Algae?

    You evidently didn't read the article and its linked tables very carefully. In their modelled calculations (modelled, because no such cellulosic plant exists at the moment), they completely omitted the input energy from the lignin, used yields that require breakthroughs that haven't happened yet, and credited 5.6 MJ/l of electricity back to the modeled ethanol output. The point of the article was to demonstrate that managed, high-input switchgrass monocultures were more productive than diverse grass plots (thus contradicting an article from Science last year). The guestimate of energy yield was nothing more than a simple guess, and done erroneously as well.

    Oh, I'm so glad we can all stop paying attention. Science will save us. Hooray!

    Seriously, though. If you want to get a sense of how well your projections are likely to work out, go back to some of the images of the future from the 50s and 60s and see how much of what was projected a) came true and/or b) appears as foolish from today's perspective.

    One example. In the mid sixties the projection was that we would all have video phones by the 1980s. Now there are all sorts of reasons why that didn't happen - but that's kind of the point.

    Science should save us since science got us in to this mess in the first place. Remember modern civilisation is the result of science. The problem is we need to get over the next 10 years or so. Then we will know how to exploit unconventional oil and gas resources, especially methane hydrates. Going to be a rough 10 years though.

    I'm not sure I know how to read that - I sure hope that you were trying to be funny.

    200 million years of sunlight energy 1/2 burned in one century. Plan going forward to run similar system totally on collected annual accumulation. Conclusion: There is no "F" in WAY.


    Cars that weigh half as much as present = Volkswagen Beetle.

    How about this: Biomass - One Trillion, Six Hundred and Eighty Three Billion Tons (non-aquatic, non Marine.)

    We use One percent for Transportation, One Percent for Food, and 3 percent for industry, and misc.

    Aside from your numbers being off significantly, you are falling in the same trap as those who deny that peak oil is a problem by focusing on STOCK numbers instead of the important issue: the FLOW numbers. We have trillions of barrels of hydrocarbons remaining on earth, but that's meaningless if the rate of extraction can't be increased each year. The US "30 in 30" plan, derived from the "Billion Ton" study enumerating biomass resources in the US, at best expects cellulosic ethanol to supplant no more than 30% of our gasoline usage by 2030 (and this is if all the 40+ barriers to commercialization are somehow all magically solved in the next few years). That FLOW rate simply won't make a difference and the ecological consequences of attempting it are disastrous.

    I would refer you to an excellent article from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences entitled "Quantifying and mapping the human appropriation of net primary production in earth’s terrestrial ecosystems" at http://www.pnas.org/cgi/reprint/104/31/12942 to learn just how much of the globe's net primary production is already appropriated by humans. In South Asia, for example, it's over 60%. Just logically thinking, would we have such problems with soil erosion, land use degradation, deforestation, and loss of biodiversity if the human imprint on our NPP were as light as you claimed?

    By Gosh, You're Right. The number is One Trillion, EIGHT Hundred and Seventy Three Billion Tons.


    Look, I'm NOT saying that we will go to a full biomass economy, tomorrow; Or, Ever. But, on the other hand, we're not going to run out of oil tomorrow, either.

    An example: With a small modification to the harvester-head, we can pick up another 9 Billion gallons of ethanol by just harvesting the cobs while we're harvesting the corn. Other instances abound. The trick to the whole thing is going more "decentralized." Obviously, the oil, and coal companies hate this idea. CSX isn't too crazy about it, either.

    we can pick up another 9 Billion gallons of ethanol by just harvesting the cobs while we're harvesting the corn

    With highly energy intensive, non-commercial, uneconomic processes. And at the same time we get to reduce the fertility of the soil !

    Wonderful plan, our problems are SOLVED /sarcanol


    No, just by changing the head on a John Deere Harvester.

    John Deere is into ethanol production then ? From corn cobs ?

    How wonderful, I may buy some of their stock !


    PS: Cellulosic ethanol production is energy consuming, expensive and non-commercial. I am assuming that is the source of corn cob ethanol.

    I have no real knowledge of field corn, but sweet corn has a noticable amount of carbs / sugars inside the cob. Economics of extraction? Maybe, but you won't run the world on it.

    Based on what reading from 'back in the day' (ie Farm based ethyl) you grind/crush the cob (not a simple task with todays hybreds - eaiser with the 1909 seed that is the common sweet corn) then treat the mash the same way you treat corn mash.

    Economics? Well, the crushing process isn't free. And you get more Methyol from the process due to all the cell-walls about.

    I just realized; I was unclear in my language. I didn't mean, we use that much, now. I meant that we could supply our transportation needs by using a very small amount (perhaps, one percent,) etc. Is that better?

    here, I'll be clear - B.S - we haven't demonstrated the ability on a commercial scale to get more energy out then we put in

    and the estimates are if we used every bit of agricultural land in the US we could provide 30% of our fuel needs IF we can solve the many many many problems with cellulosic ethanol

    or are you advocating turning all our forest into sawdust for this and all our wetlands cut down and all our grass lands too? I mean, that sounds great - kill what's left of the natural world so people can drive H2's - or not eat maybe? (although that does solve the problem really...eventually)

    You can not harvest the total biomass stock sustainably, what you need is the net primary production. According to your link, the total terrestrial primary production is 115.4 billion tonnes od carbon/year.

    The humanity is putting about 7bln.tonnes of carbon in the atmosphere per annum, so this should be a rough indication of the amount of biomass that needs to be converted to biofuels to replace FFs. To consider the scope of the challenge this is: the total productivity of agricultural land is 9.1 bln tonnes/year. So, considering conversion losses we need to double agricultural output so that biofuels can replace fossil fuels. How are we going to do it in a world where billions of people are still starving, food prices are skyrocketing, climate is changing and soils and water resources are rapidly depleting, I will leave up to you explain.

    from what I read here quite often:
    a) the market will provide and
    b) all sorts of neat breakthroughs will happen ANY DAY NOW - that will fix it all and let us just motor along into the future!

    I'm with the Mogambo Guru - we're friggin doomed - I need a Mogambo Command Bunker (MCB) filled with gold and food and high-powered weapons...

    First you must apply for your Junior Mugambo Ranger Membership and secret decoder ring. :)

    'All Freakin' Doomed' might be a Mugambo trademark but I am with you. I dont think science is going to do much to save us in totallity, ie, 6.5 billion humans. Science might save some small percentage of that number of humans, depending on the severity of global warming going forward.

    I watched a documentary last night entitled '36 things to do with a dead sheep'...The people featured in the show were originally nomadic herders living at extreme altitudes and visiting the valleys for grazing. These nomads thrived at 12,000 ft in yerts and were seemingly very resistant to frostbite. The women walked barefoot through heavy snow to milk the yaks and goats at temperatures that would kill most Americans in a few minutes. 'Altitude sickness' was a term that they had never heard of. These are among the groups of people that will survive the bottleneck. They have no dependence on oil and sugar was almost unknown to their diets...at least, sugar as we recognize it.

    The new IEA "Highlights of the Latest Oil Market Report" is out this morning.

    They have the oil supply way up in January.

    January world oil supply rose 745 kb/d to 87.2 mb/d on new output from Brazil, and recovering non-OPEC output elsewhere. However, a reassessment of 2008 prospects lowers OPEC gas liquids growth by 250 kb/d to 365 kb/d. Rising FSU, Asia-Pacific, Brazil and biofuels supplies generate 2008 non-OPEC growth of 0.97 mb/d.

    I am skeptical about that "recovering non-OPEC output elsewhere". That is because they were dead wrong in their predictions last month.

    They said production rose in December to 870 kb/d to 87 mb/d. Now they say it will rise 745 kb/d to 87.2 mb/d. That means they were off last month by 545 kb/d. That is a huge error. What is happening is that non-OPEC production is slipping and the IEA keeps having them "recovering" but they never seem to recover.

    Ron Patteson

    The price is moving up again and they're trying to keep speculators out. Yesterday on Bloomberg there were headlines about the IEA predicting sharply lower demand in the U.S. You could see from the price action that the hedgers didn't believe it. And of course today's retail sales report negated that prediction.

    I think it's likely that the chief talent of the people at the IEA is picking the right wine to go with lunch.

    Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending February 8, 2008

    U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged nearly 14.6 million barrels per day during the week ending February 8, up 69,000 barrels per day from the previous week's average. Refineries operated at 85.1 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production moved higher compared to the previous week, averaging 8.9 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production rose last week, averaging nearly 4.1 million barrels per day.

    U.S. crude oil imports averaged 9.7 million barrels per day last week, down 777,000 barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged 10.1 million barrels per day, 210,000 barrels per day above the same four-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged 841,000 barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 282,000 barrels per day last week.

    U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) rose by 1.1 million barrels compared to the previous week. At 301.1 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are in the middle of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories increased by 1.7 million barrels last week, and are above the upper limit of the average range. Both finished gasoline inventories and gasoline blending components inventories increased last week. Distillate fuel inventories decreased by 100,000 barrels, and are in the middle of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories decreased by 1.7 million barrels last week. Total commercial petroleum inventories increased by 700,000 barrels last week, and are in the upper half of the average range for this time of year.

    Oil still lower despite weak inventory data

    NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Oil prices remained lower Wednesday even after the government said supplies of crude and gasoline rose far less than expected last week, as oil demand remained low amid a slumping U.S. economy.

    The immediate response to the report is always pretty worthless, Leanan. If you really want to understand what's going on in the market, and the real reaction to the weekly report and the rest of the day's news, you have to watch the market action at the close (the half hour or so leading up to the close at 2:30 p.m. eastern time).


    I would like to say how much I appreciate your presence on TOD. Your civility, information and analysis adds a good deal of value to my daily stroll down the Drumbeat and elsewhere on this site. Thanks.

    toilforoil, thank you, the appreciation is definitely mutual.

    Thanks for posting this toil,
    I second these sentiments.

    One article aboveis about the shortage of a gasoline blending component. This component is alkylate. This is a link to a longer story about the alkylate shortage. If ethanol is added to gasoline in the summer, alkylate must also be added, to help with Reid Vapor Pressure problems (evaporation which causes smog) in warm temperatures. This increases the demand for alkylate in the summer.

    According to the second article

    Demand for alkylate changes with the seasons, falling in autumn and rising in the spring. On average, alkylate makes up about 10 percent of a gallon of gas, though that rises to as much as 15 percent in summer. But making more of it is not as simple as throwing a switch since the underlying chemical properties of oil limit how much of any one refined petroleum product can be produced.

    Alkylate is made via a chemical reaction sparked when olefin fluids and isobutane — two of the smaller byproducts of the main gasoline producing unit — are mixed with acid.

    "As opposed to the (gasoline unit) that cracks big components into small, this one takes two components and basically combines them," said Mark Fligner."

    But there are tradeoffs that every refiner must weigh. For example, olefins and isobutane are in high demand for use in producing other lucrative products like plastics. Refiners can tweak their main gasoline producing unit to make more olefins and isobutane, but that would cut the gasoline output.

    Does anyone have any thoughts on what is going on? If we scale up ethanol, will it really be possible to scale up the alkylates to go with them?

    It would seem that the only way to scale-up alkylate production is to increase the total amount of crude being refined. And can it only come from crude, or can it be made from NGL or ?

    If we scale up ethanol, will it really be possible to scale up the alkylates to go with them?

    Alkylates are produced from two primary ingredients: light olefins and isobutane. The isobutane is mostly a byproduct of gas production, or is produced in an isomerization unit from butane. So that ingredient can be ramped up somewhat independently of oil production. But the other ingredient - the olefins - are a byproduct of the refining process. To ramp those up, you either have to process more oil, or sacrifice overall yield by running your cat cracker harder (more olefins, but less of other desirable products).

    That's the long answer. The short answer is that I have heard refiners talking about an alkylate crunch for a couple of years now. It will be difficult to scale up alkylate production without scaling up refinery production (although I suppose you could import it from markets that don't have the same need).

    Thanks for confirming my presumption. So, would it be fair to assume that ethanol use will be constrained by this "scarce" resource and the DOE's ethanol-use goal is a pie-in-the-sky fantasy?

    HA! I LOVE it - for all the ethanol supporters out there - your (dream of saving us all) product requires an OIL product to function - we'd have to actually ramp up refinery production in oil plants to do this....

    or can I trust you Robert, maybe you are just saying this because you work for the insidious oil industry? ;-)

    Hello R-squared,

    Thxs for more info. Reads like it could be a potential chemical Liebig Minimum for vehicles--picture lots of vehicles with plenty of fuel, but vapor-locking because of incorrect/insufficient blending [didn't something like this occur in the UK last year stranding thousands of vehicles?].

    I have posted before where personal FF-transport could be easily curtailed by imposing Liebig access to tires, oil & oil filters, air filters, lubricants, spark plugs, etc.

    I don't think many people will take the chance of quickly wrecking their vehicle by running it without a replacement air filter or no vital lubricant in the drive train. At crunchtime--imagine the Govt only allowing big-rigs and smaller delivery trucks continued access to vital replacement parts/lubes.

    Soccer Mom SUVs, chrome penis sportscars, blinged-out non-working pickups: new air filter and lube change allowed just once every two years. After approximately 10,000 miles--vehicle will be parked, or owner will trade it in, for a greatly reduced scrap/recycle value, for a PHEV or FF-scooter, whatever is available and has replacement parts/lubes easily obtainable by govt decree. Mechanical Liebig Minimums could cause rapid vehicle turnover to more efficient, high MPG choices and/or greatly accelerate public outcry for RR & TOD & SpiderWebRiding alternatives.

    Will the Govt use OnStar to send out a signal to disable vehicle CPUs? Imagine a huge earthquake hitting Los Angeles causing millions to head out for Cascadia--the Govt could instantly disable most CA cars -- very few would then choose to long-distance bicycle for the northern invasion, and Cascadian Earthmarines could easily pick them off. A more sophisticated version of how the Gretna police kept Nawlins' people contained in the floodzone?

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

    "I have posted before where personal FF-transport could be easily curtailed by imposing Liebig access to tires, oil & oil filters, air filters, lubricants, spark plugs, etc."

    Only a guess but any imposed restrictions will create an opportunity for black markets. I must say though that the black markets will arise whether restrictions are imposed or natural, they will just be here sooner if imposed.

    There may be some example of what we face, if we look at the queues for basics, or anything for that matter in The Soviet Union from the 60's to the 90's. The economy was run by criminals and organized syndicates. They later became (outwardly appearing) legitimate.
    A capitalist economy may fare better than a communist one but who knows.

    Very interesting. We have noticed that most of the EIA gasoline stock build has been in blending components (11.6 million barrels over last year to be exact). TOD posters mentioned that it was fishy but it looks like there is a reason finished gasoline stock numbers stayed low. It looks to me like the refiners may have found a way to stop the bleeding from lower margins. One of the articles mentioned $3.50 gas this spring -- when the first gulf hurricane threatens, I imagine the price of gas will be much higher than this.

    UK may not cut rates as much as we'd like:
    I particularly like this paragraph:

    [quote]However, he anticipated that the rise in inflation would be temporary and would be due to increases in imported energy and food prices that were unlikely to recur.
    "This is not something you can offset by asking for higher wages," he said. [/quote]

    Ho ho

    "Say Eric, How's them failure modes of Fission doing?"
    Nuclear Security: Action May Be Needed to Reassess the Security of NRC-Licensed Research Reactors.

    I appreciate the links, but these docs are also long and involved. It would help if you could pull out a Para or a Conclusion that gives us the brief on why you linked it.

    I'm sure your time is limited as well, so I understand if that's not possible, but it would make it easier to process and engage with.

    I looked briefly for some mention of the areas that the study found to be the greatest vulnerabilities for Research Reactors to become targets, but don't have enough time to scout it out.


    Car loans stretch to 7 years or longer

    Automakers and buyers are diving into extra-long auto loans, and they could drown from that plunge.

    Toyota Motor Credit brought the loans to light when it acknowledged at a meeting last week it is making 84-month loans — seven years — to cut buyers' payments and boost sales. It's been making them since August.

    GMAC, some credit unions and others also offer 84 months, and a sliver of auto loans, 0.1%, are even longer: 96 to nearly 102 months, says Power Information Network, a unit of consultant J.D. Power and Associates. About 82% are 60 to 77.9 months.

    If you cannot afford a 3 or 5 year loan on a car, and instead must go with a 7 year loan, you should pick a cheaper car instead. Of course, the argument could also be made that if you cannot afford to buy the car with CASH, then you shouldn't buy it with credit. (Which is now my policy with anything with exception to real estate, which even then I'm wary of debt.) The last 4 vehicles I have purchased, I have paid for them with cash.

    I can hear a complaint in my mind right now, "But not everyone can afford to buy a new car with cash!"

    Who said anything about buying new? Those last 4 vehicles were used.

    Here, here. I've never understood paying for a new car. I'm happy other people are willing to give up half the value in the first year for that new car small, however. It gives my family something to buy when it's dropped to the $3k range.

    Agree go with second hand cars and then run them into the ground or it is totally uneconomic to repair. There is no point in buying new when the fuel may become more and more expensive or even unobtainable.

    But which of the new technologies will replace the internal combustion engine, hydrogen fuel cells or something simple like the air car shown on the BBC news the other night. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7241909.stm

    I think that the simple technology may have the edge. The small size suits European cities and the compressor can recharge the tanks overnight using electricity generated in any way and if Tata in India adopt it in a large way in India then it may give the technology an unassailable lead. Such a shift in commuting technology could quickly be adopted the world over as it is relatively cheap and simple. Who disagree?

    There are arguments to be made on both sides. Decent cars do not lose 50% of their value in the first year. Some, like the Prius a couple years ago, actually go up in value. My brother-in-law often extols the virtues of buying used cars. Then he complains about how expensive the good used cars are and goes out and buys some American POS compact that dies on him a few months later.

    Don't get me wrong. There's nothing wrong with buying used cars. I've bought my fair share of them, especially back when I was poor and couldn't afford anything else (and when they weren't giving loans to people who couldn't afford to pay them back).

    However, since 1982 I've owned 3 cars, all new. I've put almost 600,000 miles on those cars. The third one is going strong and shows no signs of being anywhere near the end of its life.

    I take good care of my cars. I get to drive the best and most reliable miles, not just when the car is starting to wear out. Then I run the car into the ground. I think I've spent no more (and probably less) on cars and car repairs than if I'd bought equivalent used cars.

    [sarconol on] Buddy, you sound down right un-amerikan. [sarconol off]

    All the vehicles I've bought over the years (about 11?) were used. And paid for in cash. Even when I was a poor student.

    Another angle to the 7-year loans is that the car makers, like the rest of this collapsing society, are borrowing from their own future. The buyers getting these 7-year loans will not likely trade in their cars for about that long, as they'll be "under water". So current sales cut into future ones. That's even assuming a BAU economy. If the economy deteriorates further (which I think is likely) then most people will keep the cars they have, for as long as possible. Which is why increases in mpg standards will make little difference. Past "turnover of the fleet" rates will not hold.

    And then, I've read here that there are a fair number of people in the USA who roll what's left of the old car loan into the new one, being "underwater" right from the start. Perhaps that was common in the era of house-ATMs and will become less common now?

    That's a very good point of the buyers holding onto their vehicles longer due to the amount left on their loan. Some people like my neighbor, buy a new car every year or so, and they actually BUY it, not lease... They trade in their old(er) one when they buy the new one, and keep getting further upside down. I don't understand it, really.

    As another pointed out, when buying used, you either have to pay for what you get (IE, quality) or be patient. Patience on waiting for a good deal on a good car can only happen if you're willing to buy another car while your current car still operates decently. I recently obtained my most recent car because the deal pretty much fell in my lap, and not that I needed the car. A friend needed to get rid of an old car because he got sick of fixing it (he's not handy with cars, so he takes them in to be serviced instead of doing it himself) so I picked up my 85 Honda CRX for $350. All it needed was a new alternator, which cost me $70 and a core. So now I have an extra car. Since it is so old, I've been driving it into the ground instead of driving my 2000 Civic.

    Considering how much I enjoy working on my own cars, maybe I should take on car repair as a career after the rest of the programming jobs dry up. :)

    Buying cars, or anything else, on credit might be more difficult as time passes and banks become less willing to lend.

    The following is from a Fed Reserve survey of bankers...


    'About 10% of respondents - up from about 5% in ... October - reported that they had tightened their lending standards on credit card loans ... About 30% of respondents noted that they had reduced the extent to which such loans were granted to customers who did not meet credit-scoring thresholds ... About 15% of domestic banks - up from about 5% in ... October - indicated a diminished willingness to make consumer installment loans ... About one-third of domestic banks - up from about one fourth ... - reported that they had tightened their lending standards on consumer loans other than credit card loans ... Regarding loan demand, about 35% of domestic institutions, on net, indicated that they had experienced weaker demand for consumer loans of all types ...'

    Seems to me paying with cash or credit are the same thing depending on the interest rate of alternative investments. For example, during the easy money period a few years ago I loaded up on credit card debt at about 4% and put the money in CD's that paid about the same and up to about 5%. The credit card debt is locked in until paid in full. If you calculate how long it will take to pay that off it is about 25 years. Even today I get offers for 6% or so until paid in full which is again 25 years. With today's falling interest on CD's why not buy the new car? The way I figure it when I bought my '08 Vibe with cash last month, it was financed for 25 years. I expect I'll never see it "paid for" as I'm 65 now. As the Italians say "Living well is the best revenge.".

    Posted uptop:

    Aramco chief: Calls for alternatives hurt
    HOUSTON, Feb. 12 (UPI) -- Calls for the aggressive displacement of fossil fuels hurt investments to increase supplies to meet growing demand, the head of Saudi Aramco said Tuesday.

    Net Oil Exports and the “Iron Triangle” (July, 2007)

    If one resides in the oil industry leg of the Iron Triangle, and if one has concluded that Peak Oil is upon us, or extremely close, does one say, "We cannot increase our production," and thereby encourage massive conservation and alternative energy efforts, or does one say "We choose not to increase production and/or we are temporarily unable to increase production for the following reasons (fill in the blank)?"

    The latter course of action would tend to discourage emergency conservation efforts and alternative energy efforts, and it would encourage energy consumers to maintain their current lifestyles, perhaps by going further into debt to pay their energy bills, and it would in general have the net effect of maximizing the value of remaining reserves.

    It's CERAWeek and Jum'ah is talking up resources.

    Jumah said that in a bid to tackle the perception of peak oil, both conventional oil as well non-conventional resources such as tar sands must be considered. He placed the world's in-place endowment of conventional oil and non-conventional fuels at between 13 trillion and 16 trillion barrels.

    Now, the last time I checked in with Jum'ah, it was only 4 trillion barrels, so it looks like we just got a lot richer.

    But maybe that was just conventional oil

    Jum'ah emphasizes that recoverable oil
    resources are whatever he says they are

    It should also be noted that Jum'ah is confining his estimate to the Earth, and is not counting resources in other parts of the Solar System (e.g. Saturn's moon Titan, Uranus, etc.)

    Does it include any extrasolar locations discovered lately? There's a Jupiter sized one around OGLE-TR-211.

    crobar -

    Speaking of which, can I interest you in an initial public stock offering for the first Titan-to-Earth methane pipeline? Shares are selling fast, so get in on the ground floor while you still can!

    CNN has picked up on some things from the CERA conference. Same theme...lots of oil out there, but not enough investment in harvesting it.

    Panning for black gold, a global challenge:
    Exxon, Conoco, Hess and Saudi Aramco address the difficulties they face in satisfying the worlds growing thirst for oil.

    Your CNN Money Link--

    The oil is out there. The hard part is getting it to consumers.


    Continuing the Titan theme upthread, you could just as easily apply that comment to Saturn's moon.

    "The hydrocarbons are up there. The hard part is getting it to the consumers."

    Thus we begin to see the "official" story line:

    "Those Peak Oilers were wrong, there is lots more oil out there. But darn it, we just can't bring it in, because it costs too much money. So don't blame us if oil prices are going up or there isn't enough to go around."

    And thus they'll continue to say, all the way down the slope.

    So, waiting for the other shoe to drop: Who gets selected as the official scapegoat for the lack of investment capital?

    Yep. Did you pick up on the subtle shift in semantics?

    A small but growing number of analysts disagree with Hess' assertion that there is enough oil in the ground. They say production of oil has peaked or will peak soon, followed by a slow but steady period of decline that could cause major social unrest.

    My emphasis.

    No longer doomsters, fear-mongers, tin-hats, etc. But analysts. Hmmm... must be credible if they're analysts.

    Can anyone here speak with authority on the physical dimensions, construction cost, etc, of those arctic oil platforms?

    nh3 has done some work on wind driven ammonia production in the region and I'm curious to find out how much ammonia can be extracted given the same dollars being spent on such a plant rather than an oil production facility ...


    I'm no authority but I did just enjoy watching "Extreme Engineering Season 3 - Episode 3: Sakhalin Oil & Ice" last week.

    Note that in the case of these far-north installations the oil has to be treated and pumped to ice-free ports for distribution, and there are extreme costs for everything related. So the platforms are just a fraction of the cost of things.

    For example, this article describes building a 100 MW power plant just to power the platforms. If you were thinking of Sakhalin in your question, note also that the platforms are completely enclosed, contain an internal blast dissipation and control barrier to protect the living quarters, and are designed to withstand pack ice and significant earthquakes. The Samsung platforms are designed to ride out earthquakes by bouncing the platform on concrete plinths.

    I'm sure you can do better than this (old data; much price inflation since) but it looks like two platforms FOB South Korea, just the topsides, were $500 million. This would leave out the support system (anti-quake) the piping and trees, power plants, housing, 500 miles of pipe, loading, etc., etc.,


    Slide 16: Platform Topsides Fabrication:
    On May 29th Sakhalin Energy signed contracts to the value of half a billion dollars with Samsung Heavy Industries for the topside fabrication of Piltun B and Lunskoye A platforms.

    After we watched it, I was overwhelmed with the idea that 180,000 bbl/day would be worth 25 billion dollars, tens of thousands of people to build and run, and vast amounts of GHG emissions, all in a place which would kill an exposed human in a few minutes.

    Above ground factors and all, you know. It's not like we're running out (sarcosium).

    Best regards,


    Anybody seen this before?


    Artificial Energy Islands Could Power The World

    inspired by Jacques-Arsène d’Arsonval, architect and engineer Dominic Michaelis, his son Alex Michaelin (also an architect), and Trevor Cooper-Chadwick are developing a new technique called Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) that takes advantage of differences in temperature between the ocean surface sea (up to 29°C in the tropics) and water a kilometer down (which is typically 5°C). Here’s how it works: warmer surface water is used to heat liquid ammonia, converting it into vapor, which expands to drive a turbine — which in turn produces electricity. The ammonia is then cooled using cold water from the ocean depths, returning it into a liquid state so the process can start all over again.

    Interesting... I don't think that floating islands will ever float though. Too hard to connect, stabilize and maintain them. Doing it onshore looks much more promising.

    ...are developing a new technique...
    Since when is 1881, for the idea, and 1939 for the first known test device, new??? One suspects it takes way too much expensive material to build it, relative to the amount of high-quality energy it yields. Somehow one also suspects Branson's $25 million would build little more than a small slice of one of those things in the picture. Perhaps that's why the concept, while intriguing, is still, shall we say, vaporware. Maybe 100 years from now...or maybe people then will still be reading breathless articles in Popular Science introducing this new concept.

    OTEC is not a new idea. There were several experiments after the energy crisis years of the 1970's.

    In 1979, the first 50-kilowatt (electric) (kWe) closed-cycle OTEC demonstration plant went up at NELHA. Known as "Mini-OTEC," the plant was mounted on a converted U.S. Navy barge moored approximately 2 kilometers off Keahole Point. The plant used a cold-water pipe to produce 52 kWe of gross power and 15 kWe net power.



    E. Swanson

    First encountered this in Marshall Savage's book Colonizing the Galaxy in Eight Easy Steps, back when I was just a pie-eyed optimist. For a guy who uses plenty of Star Trek references Savage at least advocated proceeding in discrete steps - colonizing the oceans first, OTEC power, housing and then artificial islands built out of form filled concrete (whatever natural shape you wanted, no hateful sharp corners!). Fun book.

    Messing with an OPEC member is messing with OPEC. OPEC backs Venezuela in Exxon Dispute.

    Libya's top oil official, Shokri Ghanem, Wednesday said the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries stood squarely behind member country Venezuela in its row with U.S. oil major Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) over contracts and assets.

    "We don't think Venezuela should be treated this way and we are going to look at this. There is solidarity with Venezuela, of course. Venezuela is an OPEC member."

    Ghanem said OPEC was likely to discuss Venezuela's dispute with ExxonMobil when the 13-nation producer group meets March 5 in Vienna to review its production policy.


    They should have realized this might piss off other oil producing nations.

    Cid Yama -

    Uh Oh!

    This ExxonMobil/Venezuela pissing contest is beginning to look like one of those things that can escalate into something all out of proportion to the original dispute.

    It sort of reminds me of one of those family wars in which a family has permanently split into two opposing factions that haven't spoken with each other in two generations because some great grand uncle supposed wronged or insulted some other great grand uncle, the details of which have now been long forgotten.

    Then there's this

    Euronews: Venezuela blocks oil supplies to Exxon Mobil

    Venezuela's oil minister Rafael Ramirez said OPEC backs its stance: "At the last OPEC meeting, we raised the fact that our country was confronting this situation with Exxon Mobil. We explained the situation in detail to OPEC; we met with OPEC's legal team and we are relying on their assessment of how to confront this situation."

    Not everyone is a CorpWhore---
    This is something the Neothugs at Exxon and the State Department can't comprehend.
    Some are nationalist, whose ideology override sheer greed.
    This is a foreign concept to Corporate America, and it's lapdogs in the government.

    It is also the lesson Vietnam. The fight was more about nationalism than communism.

    The Rice quote: "It is a really important part of diplomacy, in fact, I think I would go so far as to say that some of the politics of energy is warping diplomacy in certain parts of the world,"

    I don't know whether to laugh or cry at this inanity. She helped plan the escalation of the Iraqi Holocaust and says this? I wonder how many senators guffawed and snickered, or pounded the table and laughed out loud?

    What is truly pathetic is that Rice actually thinks that Russia will intimidated by western smear jobs. If clowns like Timoshenko don't want to pay Russian prices for Russian gas (which are less than half of what they should be based on energy content alone) then it is Russia's right and responsibility to cut them off. Note that in the latest dispute with Timoshenko (she was in charge during the last dispute too, things are OK when the gas princess is not around) Russia only threatened to cut off the 25% portion that it supplies to Ukraine, the rest coming from Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan at cheaper prices would be shipped as usual.



    "Russian has them by... and theirs nothing they can do about it"
    or something along those lines.

    That got me thinking, People have written about how energy drives geopolitical movements, I think it would make a Great TOD writeup on Europe-Demand / Russia-Supply dynamics of energy.

    With a examples of each country and how much they are dependant on Russian Gas for example.

    Prof. G? HO? Euan? RR? Jeff?

    If Russia had Ukraine by the short and curlies, then Ukraine would not be on track to join NATO. So the whole energy as a weapon meme is over-hyped at this stage. Maybe in the near future when fossil fuel availability is crashing then the weapon aspect will be more apparent.

    But I agree some sort of analysis along Jerome's pieces would be useful but maybe not particularly politically correct.

    Here's what came in an email-cast from Congressman Wexler this afternoon..

    "During my questioning, Secretary Rice falsely stated that she never saw intelligence casting doubt on the Bush Administration claims that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction. This unbelievable statement is flatly contradicted by numerous government reports and CIA testimonials. (To watch the video of my exchange with Secretary Rice, click here http://images.myngp.com/LinkTracker.aspx?crypt=IVi0ax2%2b6UBSinc%2fCPYaK... .)

    "Secretary Rice's responses demonstrate once and for all that we need aggressive oversight over this out of control Administration. Unfortunately, the Bush Administration has ignored the constitutional right of Congress to provide such oversight.

    "It is time Congress took aggressive action to assert our rights on behalf of the American people.

    File under: "Why worry?"

    Titan's Surface Organics Surpass Oil Reserves on Earth

    Saturn's orange moon Titan has hundreds of times more liquid hydrocarbons than all the known oil and natural gas reserves on Earth, according to new data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft. The hydrocarbons rain from the sky, collecting in vast deposits that form lakes and dunes.

    Like I said upthread, "The only hard part is getting it to the customers."

    Interesting link. How long ago do they estimate that plankton and other microorganisms thrived on Titan?

    'China has long been a huge supplier of coal to itself and the rest of the world. But in the first half of last year, it imported more than it exported for the first time, setting off a near-doubling of most coal prices around the world.'


    This isn't really an ELP model problem. China shut down some coal mines and then got into an inflation control/price freeze struggle between the railroads, the mines, the export terminals, and the power stations.

    I just learned that links to Ilargi and Stoneleigh's excellent financial website have been blacklisted from TOD. Why? I thought we were all grownups here and a lot of us think this info is indispensable to understanding what is going on in oil and other sectors of the economy. Can we have a vote on this please?

    Competition? :)

    Although, AutoEarth centers around finance, while TOD centers around oil.

    I suspect the elimination of signture lines was due to the pimping websites by the posters. (I'm guilty of that. I had my website in my signature line.)

    Although, it wouldn't surprise me if it's all some sort of confusion, and it's not blacklisted, or it was blacklisted by mistake. :) Right? *looks hopeful*

    So far as I know, it hasn't been blacklisted. We just asked them to tone it down a little. Five or six links a day is going overboard, and people were starting to complain. A little blog-whoring is welcome, but every day, let alone several times a day, is a bit much. I think people would start to get annoyed, no matter who was posting the links.

    We left their link on the sidebar for a couple of weeks, to help get them on their feet. It was never going to stay there forever.

    The sig lines, I think, was more about bandwidth. Sigs are amusing when they're short, and you read them once. When they're long, and/or the person posts 20 times a day, the sig gets really old fast.

    Talking of sigs. For those who remember


    Kibo's sig

    Ah the good old days :-)

    Ack! Don't give anyone any ideas! o_O

    Leanan, thanks for the explanation. I think that's reasonable.

    They have their own site now, I don't think they need to spam it over here.

    They have a great website - I have it bookmarked, I go there each day to read the interesting articles, that said, why does it need to be advertised extensively here? I mean, it's pretty easy to find it and go there if you like.

    I like Life After The Oil Crash too (it gives me a tingly doomer thrill) - but the chimp doesn't need to link to his site in every comment to get me to go look

    I think both sites do a good job and don't need to interact all that much - just my opinion though

    A total ban on links seems a bit harsh if that's what it is. I just assumed they were plugging it a bit for the first couple of weeks. Given that it has recently moved from its own TOD Canada section that seemed fair. One post a week giving the link and a quick summary should be fine surely if daily is deemed too much?

    The relationship between change in GDP and change in oil supply or price is stated clearly by Hirsch after all.

    I see also the link seems to have been removed from TOD Canada as well.

    Hello TODers,

    I want to thank Leanan and TopTODer HO for the continuing Nepal discussion as the trends do not look good going forward. If one recalls my prior posting suggestions, lets see if Nepal has implemented any of them to optimize their Thermo/Gene decline:

    1. Universal Peak Outreach to all citizens: Nope! Denialism, continued ignorance, and non-recognition for paradigm shift is non-existent. Voluntary population controls--Nada! Thus, the default choice is that the Grim Reaper and machete' moshpits will winnow headcount.

    2. Legislation for the massive stockpiling of I-NPK while it was still cheap: Nope! Nepal did not heed my warning of the FF-to-NPK conversion delay, and the dire blowback effects will now ripple through their agriculture network with declining yields, higher inputs costs, and less resilience for food surpluses to allow job specialization for mitigation focus.

    3. Massive O-NPK recycling and humanure program to slow topsoil nutrient loss, pollution, and speed relocalized permaculture growth: Nope! Nepal is becoming ever more dependent upon outside aid to continue BAU. Nonsensical urban slum sprawl is increasingly reducing viable ag-acreage and increasing pollution blowbacks.

    4. Nepalese adoption of Alan Drake's RR & TOD ideas: Nope! Nepal's leadership could have easily looked ahead, then imposed a societal regime that would gradually choke off personal FF-transport while at the same time massively transitioning to highly efficient electric rail powered by Himalayan hydro and wind resources.

    5. Strategic reserves of bicycles and wheelbarrows, program to rapidly transition to draft animals to help support O-NPK amounts and movement: Nope! Instead, detritovores are just queued up in long lines awaiting for the next shipment of subsidized FFs.

    6. SpiderWebRiding from the endpoints of Alan Drake's networks: Nope! I guess the people prefer to waste personal energy and resources trying to move vital supplies over badly muddied and potholed paths and roads, frozen snow or ice, with very expensive, increasingly rare, and rapidly wearing tires getting flats from sharp thorns or sharp stones. Non-recognition of the efficiency and long-lasting durability of railbikes' steel wheels on steel rails on top of pipelines or canals for closed loop eco-resource flows. They must evidently prefer the iconic, but food energy wasteful and debilitating method of heavy Sherpa backpacking to the relative luxury of long-haul railbiking and short-haul bike w/baskets and/or wheelbarrow transport.

    7. Focus on self-reliance: Nope! Instead, futile promotion of tourism which will rapidly postPeak diminish in time.

    8. Societal organization by watershed boundaries and river flows: Nope! India and Nepal are at increasing loggerheads over political boundaries and ethnic scapegoating versus realistic water-planning.

    9. Putting the massive numbers of unemployed to preventing desertification and jumpstarting reforestation and grassland growth, and ecologic appreciation: Nope! Firewood harvesting rates will accelerate as FFs head towards Unobtainium. Expect more flooding, mudslides, erosion, etc, as they head to Haitian levels of eco-decline.

    10. Establishment of Asimov's Foundations of predictive collapse and directive decline for optimum and speedy paradigm shift: Nope! Instead of trying for focused depleting resource-totality planning and mitigation at every scale, Nepal evidently prefers non-focused, anarchic, and max wasteful haphazard destruction. I see no evidence of community building programs for shared solar water heating, solar cookers, etc, but increasing signs of social conflict.

    11. My guess is the increasing Overshoot conflict levels will devolve into grasping tribal/ethnic and economic class scapegoating chaos versus the more mitigative demarcation of biosolars vs detritovores. This lack of true leadership facilitation, to foster the initiation and enlargement of biosolar habitats, Earthmarines vs Mercs for conflict focus and eco-protection, plus the rapid compression of FF-detritus usage and networks, will instead usher in Nepalese catabolic collapse and eco-devastation, undershoot far in excess of what could be possible, and slow the re-equilibration process to more reasonable lifesytles. Such is life.

    Now, the question is: will the First World be wiser, or will we follow in the footsteps of the Third World? Time will tell.

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

    Bicycle and wheelbarrow in one:


    1. Are they able to return to Pre-1940 way of life where they didn't have a word or phrase meaning "The Poor Section of Town"?


    2. Will Tibet ever able to get the Chinese off their backs?


    3. Will the world acknowledge the genocide of 1-2 million Tibetians by the Chinese when they talk of Holocausts?


    Yes,They We are failing.

    (Tip: If you want a good read of pre-1900 Tibet,Including 32 photographs, try to find a copy of "Magic and Myster in Tibet" by Madame Alexandra David-Neel.
    She was the first European woman to explore the city of Lhasa)

    Hello Samsara,

    Thxs for responding. Yep, that is another difficulty for many poor countries--it is doubly hard to build a lifeboat if another country is pummeling your people or taking your resources.

    A chart to help understand the effects of the rising price of WTI over the last 3 years. This smooths out the season by season fluctuations, price spikes and dips, to show the 12 month moving average price. The price of oil over the last 12 months gives a better way to gauge its effects on the economy. A spike to $100 means nothing, but a 12 month average price of $100 would show an impact.


    Prices are rounded to the nearest $5.
    At the current 3 year trend it will take some time to reach $100 oil. With OPEC talking of cutting production levels at their March meeting, it is possible that even in the face of a moderate recession beginning this year that the moving average price will hold its ground at or above $65. I cannot see all the oil users in the world becoming poor enough fast enough and thus reducing demand significantly, to break below this level. That would require a sustained period of sub-$65 oil. And with world supply and net exports currently stagnant, this doesn't appear likely for another reason.

    Actually this 12 month moving average it destined to moved higher over the next 5 months, as the data points from 2007: Feb ($59), March ($61), April($64), May ($63) and June ($68) all drop off to be replaced (according to the current 4 months trend of an $85-plus price floor) by significantly higher numbers.

    It has now been 18 weeks since WTI closed under $85. (October 12)

    This company, alone, is replacing 2 Million BOE with Biomass.


    Don't forget to say the flow rate, kdolliso..

    "The bioenergy plant will utilize abundant residues from the Cowie factory: bark and wood residue from the manufacturing process. The total amount of biomass now used in green power plants at Nordborg's factories is 1 million tons,..

    .. equivalent to two million barrels of oil per year."

    Don't forget that the desire to create an exponential growth in this source will have a direct link to the other flows of biomass, and the resources that are moved into the biomass arena from other sectors. A great deal of 'scrap' biomass from the wood-products industry is already headed into energy-production, as wood-pellets, co-generation plants, and in a cottage industry of households that have made best-possible use of the 'tablescraps' from this source. As with wind and other sources that we want to expand into large-scale industries, we had better be very careful not to just paint ourselves into the Next corner of the room.


    Finally, some sensible energy usage. [end_sarcasm]

    A flying casino:

    Airbus in talks to create A380 casino

    However, there are strict curbs, or outright casino bans, on gambling in much of Asia, including Thailand and mainland China. Nevertheless, operators have long offered gambling-boat cruises out of cities such as Hong Kong into international waters.

    Mr Chazelle said the legal loophole aspect was “certainly a factor but I think it is more about the attraction of being able to offer such an extraordinary activity”. He said the A380 was the first aircraft large enough for a full-fledged casino operation. “If this could have worked before, I’m sure it would have,” he said.


    I don't know if this has been posted, but it sounds very interesting--from Los Alamos. The catch of course is the energy input, but the first thing that occurs to me is that it would be a way to store energy from windpower.

    Synthetic Fuel Concept to Steal CO2 From Air
    Contact: Nancy Ambrosiano, nwa@lanl.gov, (505) 667-0471
    LOS ALAMOS, N.M., February 12, 2008 -- Green Freedom™ for carbon-neutral, sulfur-free fuel and chemical production

    Los Alamos National Laboratory has developed a low-risk, transformational concept, called Green Freedom™, for large-scale production of carbon-neutral, sulfur-free fuels and organic chemicals from air and water.

    Currently, the principal market for the Green Freedom production concept is fuel for vehicles and aircraft.

    At the heart of the technology is a new process for extracting carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and making it available for fuel production using a new form of electrochemical separation. By integrating this electrochemical process with existing technology, researchers have developed a new, practical approach to producing fuels and organic chemicals that permits continued use of existing industrial and transportation infrastructure. Fuel production is driven by carbon-neutral power.

    This is of major importance, and should mean that predictions of doom ave been greatly exaggerated.

    If a pilot plant works it should also provide some sort of effective price cap on oil prices, as it is then better for producers to realise what they can now whilst it is still saleable.

    It is worth pointing out that the proposal is actually based on nuclear power, which some of us think is no bad thing, and that according to the authors this would be the most cost-effective solution at the moment.

    Here is a link to the full report:

    Their cost estimates for capital and production costs appear to be VERY poorly supported. I simply do not believe their costs for extracting CO2 from the air and synthesizing gasoline from that.

    If one took nearly free CO2 from, say, a power plant or steel mill, costs would be lower. I am aware of (and have read) more detailed studies to synthesize methanol from CO (worthwhile to separate CO2 from CO for energy savings) from specialty steel maker in Iceland and cheaper than nuke steam & electrical power. The economics were not there.

    Sad to see Los Alamos decline this far.


    Alan, you make statements and then fail to substantiate them.

    AFAIK you still have not responded to two requests from me and another to substantiate your claims that plutonium killed everyone who had been working with it in a lab in the US.

    No one is saying that you are wrong on all counts, for instance your argument here that it would be easier to extract CO2 from existing CO2 producers appears reasonable, but again you fail to cite the sources.

    I clearly stated in my original statement that this was based on reading (I will add now library research) for a course in toxicology and I even noted the memory risks in my initial post.

    It was not in a lab, it was, as I stated, in a WW II bomb production facility/factory fabricating the first Pu atomic bomb.

    So I gave my attribution at the time of the original post. And I do not withdraw it, since I gave a factual recount.

    Relatively few scientific papers from the 1960s are available on-line, especially for free.

    The unpublished paper (at that date, perhaps published later) I read on methanol production from CO gases (separated from CO2) extracted from a ferro-silicon steel smelter in Iceland was in the offices of Dr. Bragi Arnason at the University of Iceland (basement floor Chemistry building from vague memory, faculty member assisting was on 3rd floor).


    It is entirely incredible to me that if those deaths occurred that the anti-nuclear movement would not have picked up on it and made as much of it as possible.

    Apparently you have no written substantiation at all for your statement that those engaged in production died.

    This is not an attribution that you have given, it is a total failure to back up.

    As for the CO2 issue, you may be satisfied that Los Alamos are completely wrong working from memory and relying on a paper which is unpublished and with the parameters of their production unknown, but most will probably not find this too persuasive, so if you hope to convince anyone else you really have to do better than that.

    Let's see, Los Alamos providing published estimates of production costs versus bloke on a blog working from memory of an unpublished paper from donkey's years ago? Which has more credibility...hmmm...tough one!

    I don't mean to be in any way rude to you, Alan, but I do find some of your statements stretch credulity.

    This is the quality of debate and reference you are offering:

    From memory of a toxicology course 30 years ago (hence not very), quite a few workers in fabricating the first Pu atomic bomb (Nagasaki ?) died. Some units had 100% mortality (of all that could be traced) twenty years after WW II.

    This is attribution?

    Here are the actual toxicology studies:

    No mention there of 100% death rates that I can see, although the Russian Mayak facility in particular certainly had excess deaths.

    I have no interest in any debate in doing anything other than establishing the facts - if new data comes to light I alter my position.

    However, you choose to make major and important claims without any evidence at all.

    This is not the stuff of rational debate, and indeed makes it impossible

    Dr. Bragi Arnason was one first researchers to investigate the use of hydrogen as an energy carrier for different applications (His CV says since 1976). He was the first to discovery and measure the energy savings from electrolysis of hot water (up to 100C vs. ambient) for hydrogen production,

    Later in his career, he saw the practical difficulties of hydrogen and expanded his focus to methanol. (I had argued for methanol on earlier visits although I do not claim credit for any change in his thinking).

    I had several visits with him on my visits to Iceland and got to know him reasonably well, well enough for him to share recent unpublished work.


    Links on that site to his CV and 47 published papers.

    You are free to assign as much or as little credibility as you wish to my claims.


    BTW, It is not unusual in peer reviewed papers to quote "private communications" and "unpublished work".

    Your linked paper is a much better survey paper than the specific epidemiological survey of WW II workers (many of whom could not be traced 20+ years after WW II, a fact that I believe I mentioned). From my vague memory, there was no mention of exposure levels (I suppose because no measurements were made during the Manhattan Project). From an extremely vague memory, the greatest mortality % (from all those that could be traced) came from those that took the Pu precipitate from the processed fuel & nitric acid (nitric acid is again from memory) and turned it into Pu metal. You are free to fully discount this if you like.

    Alan, I have reviewed several comprehensive accounts of accidents involving fatalities in the nuclear industry. Most involved criticality incidents. Air born plutonium is toxic, but it takes a long time to kill anyone. Chemically plutonium is about as poisonous as lead. The toxicity comes from alpha particle radiation that triggers cancer. It is estimated that it takes 10 years to develop cancer after ingestion of plutonium. There were 3 plutonium criticality incidents at Los Alamos during the 1940's. Two involved "critical mass experiments that wrong, and exposed the experimenters to fatal doses of radiation.

    Aside from these incidents your account of mass death among workers due to plutonium exposure is fictional.

    I could believe that my memory of the paper was faulty. I did, however, give a true account of my memory.


    Alan, I do not and never have doubted your honesty, it is just a bit difficult to debate when a great deal of what is said is based on sources which are not checkable - even given that no attempt to deceive has been made, as I am confident is the case, then memory errs and interpretations can vary.

    I recently got pulled up on some statements I made regarding 'Limits to Growth', on which I was likewise relying on 30 year old memories, since googling did not turn up a copy of the work for reference, I simply withdrew them in the discussion as unsubstantiated.

    Of course, we all have private feelings and thoughts, but we are all about trying to have a rational discussion here, and to talk to our peers in a sensible way we surely have to rely on data in the public domain.

    Rest assured that I have no intention at all of questioning your integrity, but your memory or interpretation very possibly! ;-)

    Public sources are best, but some useful data is from private communication (such as the draft I am currently working on with the Millennium Institute, private conversations with Dr. Bragi Arnason, Leroy Demery (foremost US authority on Japanese Rail, developing worldwide database on historic & current Urban rail systems), Ed Tennyson (1st person source for an amazing history in transit#) etc.) and in all cases I try and post my degree of certitude with such.

    Often times there is little or no controversy. My claims that the USA built subways in all of it's major cities and electric streetcars (trams) in 500 cities & towns between 1897 and 1916 was first based on private communication. He has since posted a detailed (and expanded) list on Wikipedia. The earlier number of 500 appears to be low.

    Best Hopes,


    # He served as staff support for the trial of GM for buying and destroying streetcar lines. He supervised the first modern US light rail line, the San Diego trolley, he prevented Pittsburgh from buying the MetroMover PRT, his ridership estimates for DC Metro (planning there as well) were off by 3% almost 3 decades later. His first job was electrifying 10 miles of the Reading Railroad (known to Monopoly fans).

    I saw a reference somewhere in the past week stating that we'd used "one third of the earth's resources in the past thirty years". It was probably at some site linked off TOD. Does anyone recall that and where I can cite it? Many thanks.

    cfm at dryki dot net

    cfm in Gray, ME

    During George Bush's first four term, worldwide we used about 10% of all crude oil ever consumed.

    During his second four term we will consume about 10% of our remaining conventional crude oil reserves, based on the mathematical HL model.

    Hop over to the ASPO 2007 Houston conference and check out David Hughes presentation. It has some nice graphs showing energy consumption over time. He does have time brackets.

    Auto companies have a huge conundrum to process, fuel economy or cupholders?

    Try designing the best selling vehicle in 2011 based on this info.
    Too bad the reporter, automatically jumps to a "gas tax" conclusion.
    City of Detroit Mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick, has demonstrated just how valuable taxes are in "serving the needs of the public".

    Hello TODers,

    Another reason to push for Peak Outreach to everyone?

    Cultural differences alter brain's hard-wiring
    New research finds that social perspective influences how we see the world

    New research shows that people from different cultures use their brains differently to solve basic perceptual tasks.

    I think it would be interesting to investigate this effect among us Peakers to see how much our brains culturally hard wire differs from the average JoeSixpack [J6P]. Maybe our Nate Hagens could investigate this further.

    Consider that most of us have the patience and the will to study and analyze for hours and hours the long texts of difficult Thermo/Gene concepts, involved charts and statistics, the related comments, elaboration and refutations, then mentally organize and aggregate this info into a greater mental file system. I suspect that most of us can't wait to dig into the intricate details of the next Stuart Staniford keypost or other TopTODer's next magnum opus.

    J6P is culturally tuned to miniscule soundbites, hyperfast video input with no context basis, and forget actual critical thinking skills. I know some people that actually brag that they have not read a difficult, technical book since high school graduation. It is all about shopping, sports, vacations, and rapid remote-control channel-surfing.

    Compare with TODers that don't have TVs or rarely watch, and almost get physically sick when passing huge mall shopping extravaganzas, car dealerships, or golf courses, and haven't taken a vacation in years. But this stuff absolutely pegs J6P's dopamine wiring.

    Consider this example: my new next door neighbor just bought a brand new SmartTwo minicar. Since I had never met this person: I offered my congratulations and asked him if rising fuel prices drove his purchase decision. He said no, he bought it because he wanted to make a stealthy 'sleeper'. He was going to yank the high-mpg drivetrain, then install a 400 hp, racing tuned, turbo-charged Suzuki Hayabusa motorcycle engine. He said he could careless about mpg, it was all about deception and cleverness. I was stunned at the cultural divide between us about the best use of this vehicle. Now I am wondering how different our brain wiring might be.

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

    Another, maybe better example: Billionaire Richard Rainwater has been studying Dieoff.com, LATOC, and probably TOD and ASPO too, for some time now. This fact, plus combined with getting his hands dirty for many hours working his crops at his survival farm. and immersing himself into his new community, has probably altered his cultural wiring. His brain scan, and what tickles his dopamine drivers, may now be dramatically different than the Google founders [personal 747s], a Saudi Prince [Airbus A380 doubledecker], or Oracles's founder Ellison [superhuge yacht].


    Thanks for the link. Another showing of how fMRI is going to alter our very perception of ourselves. We're not what we think we are.

    As for cultural outreach, I've long ago stopped viewing J6P as some neanderthal creature. He and I are of the same species. I/we are J6P.

    The only difference is that you and I have the Hubbert curve model running in our heads. J6P does not. You and I have the conservation of mass and energy model thing running in our heads (a.k.a laws of thermodynamics). J6P does not.

    When MSM tells you and I that prosperity and growth are forever, that sort of clashes with our other in-brain executing programs (the Hubbert model, the thermodynamics thing). We experience cognitive dissonance. J6P does not.

    It's not that J6P is an ignorant, nonthinking neanderthal. It's just that he doesn't have these certain models running in his/her head.

    I don't think its a matter of culture. It's a matter of not ahving been educated to include these models in one's overall modeling of the outside world.

    A semi-racist aside question relating to the MSNBC link above: If East Asians are so culturally aware of the "interconnectedness of things and people", how come they perform so poorly in give-and-take traffic situations? (Don't give me the slanty eye racist come back. I want to understand from a cultural, live in the other-man's-shoes point of view, why they don't seem to be aware of other drivers and the basic cooperative flow of intercrossing traffic at exit/entrance ramps on the highways. It's like the "interconnectedness" part of the brain shuts down when they get in their car and bluetooth-into their cell phones. What gives?)

    Thought this quote fit in here.

    Ordinary people have the ability not to think about things they do not want to think about.

    - Blaise Pascal

    We're not normal maybe? and J6P is???