DrumBeat: February 18, 2008

Biofuels spark fears of land grabbing, 'peak food'

"Corn can be used for ethanol in cars and power plants, for plastics, as well as in baking tortillas. Natural gas can be made into fertiliser for food output. "Peak Oil" is morphing into "Peak Food"," says the paper, warning that vulnerable parts of the world face the risk of famine in the next three years as rising energy costs cause a food crunch.

While that may seem alarmist, food is certainly becoming less affordable from West Africa to South Asia, where Pakistan is introducing ration cards allowing lower-income citizens to buy flour at subsidised prices.

ExxonMobil bangs Sakhalin 1 gas drum

ExxonMobil believes Russia should allow it to export gas from the Sakhalin 1 project off Russia's east coast saying that, contrary to Gazprom's claims, the gas is not needed by the local market.

Two more energy IPOs shelved as public investment market continues on unstable ground

Not even the cushion provided by $90 oil could help Forum Oilfield Technologies Inc. and Plains All American Pipeline LP get their public offerings to market in the midst of souring investment sentiment.

The two Houston companies shelved their IPOs this week, pointing to a weakening investor market.

Reasons to see red over green energy

You'd hope, wouldn't you, that the government department responsible for energy to heat our homes, power our cars and so on would be on top of two key issues - a switch to a low-carbon economy and the possibility that oil might run out sooner than we thought.

Both these issues should concern us greatly and, indeed, there is growing discussion of them everywhere. But, the Department of Business As Usual (DBERR) doesn't seem to be on the case at all.

Western fears on Russian energy

A clear majority of west Europeans regard Russia as an unreliable energy supplier but remain resistant to paying more for alternative supplies from renewable energy sources.

Nigerian militants ask for U.S. mediation in oil crisis

LAGOS, Nigeria – Militants behind attacks on Nigeria's oil infrastructure have asked the United States and President Bush to mediate to try to end a crisis that has seen foreign workers kidnapped and cut output of Africa's biggest producer.

Venezuela's Chavez threatens to sue Exxon over oil `theft'

CARACAS (Dow Jones)-Venezuela President Hugo Chavez Sunday said his government may file a suit against ExxonMobil for allegedly taking as much as 500,000 barrels of crude from oil fields without paying for them.

"They took 500,000 barrels of crude from here without reporting them, before they began developing" the fields, Chavez said during his radio and television show.

How expensive does oil have to get before your habits change?

"By some estimates, there will be 2 per cent annual growth in global oil demand over the years ahead, along with, conservatively, a 3 per cent natural decline in production. That means by 2010 we will need an additional 50 million barrels per day."

Not the words of a green evangelist but US vice-president Dick Cheney – while still CEO of Halliburton. Warnings like his have been largely ignored but a new film aims to bring oil production into mainstream debate just as Al Gore did with climate change.

Brazil's president confirms Petrobras data theft related to big petroleum finds

SAO PAULO, Brazil (AP) - Information stolen from Brazil's state-run oil company was related to two huge new offshore petroleum finds, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said.

In comments to reporters during a trip to Brazil's Antarctic research station, Silva characterized last month's theft of four laptops and two hard drives as "serious" because it involved state secrets. He said that the Brazilian Intelligence Agency was assisting federal police in their investigation.

But Silva said it is too soon to determine whether the information was stolen by a group planning to pass information about the Tupi and Jupiter petroleum fields to foreign companies or governments.

Google's latest search: renewable energy

Google is prepared to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in finding cheaper, cleaner alternative energy sources.

Dan Reicher, director of climate and energy initiatives for the company's philanthropic arm, Google.org, says he has already committed US$20 million ($25.4 million) to funding start-up firms that research and develop solar, thermal and wind power. He is also looking at investing in a firm that creates energy through geothermal systems.

Experts Cast Doubt On Norway Thorium Energy Dreams

OSLO - Scientists told the Norwegian government on Friday that exploiting thorium, a radioactive metal, for nuclear power production is an interesting but far-out alternative with unknown economic potential.

A report commissioned by the government found that current knowledge of thorium-based energy production and the geology of the natural resource are not solid enough to draw any conclusions about the potential value to Norway.

Kurt Cobb: The lure of the city

Those who are concerned about sustainability talk about making cities more sustainable. But that is an oxymoron. Cities have never been sustainable. They have always needed more from the land than the land under them could give. But the issue is more nuanced than that. On the one hand, living more densely in an energy-constrained world makes sense. It reduces travel for all purposes, economic and social. And, in the past people did live in walkable villages and towns. Some still do. But today, at least in North America, only those living in large cities can really do without a car.

On the other hand, the explosive expansion of urban areas is primarily driven by economic growth and rising population. These two trends will be called into question in the energy-constrained world that is emerging in the 21st century. Without cheap energy it will be difficult to keep food production and economic growth on its current upward path. And, even if the two continue to rise, they may not do so at a rate that satisfies the world's hunger for both food and energy.

LUKOIL halts oil to Germany in new pricing row

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian oil major LUKOIL halted oil supplies to Germany in February in a renewed pricing dispute with the monopoly importer of Russian crude to the country, trading sources said on Monday.

"February supplies are zero. The firm was due to ship around 520,000 tonnes (by pipeline) this month, then it halved the plan and later scrapped it all together. It is the same old story with Sunimex," one trading source said.

Explosion rocks West Texas refinery

BIG SPRING, Texas — An explosion rocked an oil refinery Monday morning, a Howard County sheriff's dispatcher said.

It was unclear whether there were injuries or whether a fire was burning at the refinery owned by Dallas-based Alon USA, which employs about 170 people and produces about 70,000 barrels a day.

"All I know is that it blew up," said the dispatcher, who declined to give her name.

Oil companies spend big on advertising

ANCHORAGE - Oil companies have spent more than $1.4 million in recent months on advertising in a bid to win voter support for their views on oil taxes and a natural gas pipeline.

Iraq oil law stalled, no end to impasse in sight

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A law that could shape Iraq's future by clearing the way for investment in its oil fields is deadlocked by a battle for control of the reserves and no end to the impasse is in sight, lawmakers and officials say.

Tajikistan: Emomali Rakhmon expands interaction with the European Union

Badly hurt by the cold winter as it was, Tajikistan also found himself in the grips of energy collapse. The Nurek Hydroelectric Power Plant which is the country's principal source of energy idles because water in its reservoirs is down to the critical level. Energy export from Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan is down too because they need energy for their own needs.

UN appeal for Tajik winter aid

A severe energy crisis coupled with an unusually cold winter is affecting the lives of millions of people.

The UN says it needs $25m (£13m) to help Tajikistan deal with the worst energy crisis it has ever experienced.

India: Gas Utilization Norms Unveiled

While NELP provides for marketing freedom, the Gas Utilization Policy, that is to come into effect in next couple of month, proposes to fix priority for usage of the gas discovered by firms like Reliance.

The new Policy prioritises natural gas allocation to fertilizer plants, petrochemical and LPG fractionators units, existing gas-based power plants and city gas projects in that order.

India - Petro price hike: Too little, too late?

The price build-up by oil companies of the controlled products is entirely based on notional numbers in the absence of actual imports. Right from the port of lading to the destination, all costs relating to freight, storage/handling losses, inland transportation etc., are assumed and at best based on historical costs of the earlier retention pricing, with a legacy of inefficiencies. These generate high refinery margins, almost twice the international benchmarks relevant to us. In fact, the government claims that high refinery margins generated in this manner saved the oil companies from bankruptcy.

If so, does it make good sense to just administer only the end prices and that too of a few products, out of the several coming out of the same barrel of oil?

India: Petro dealers plan protest on February 21

TIRUCHIRAPALLI: Predicting an acute shortage of petrol and diesel in a week, the petroleum dealers in the region have decided to stage a protest here on February 21 demanding smooth supply of fuel to dealers in rural areas.

Fuel shortage in Nepal's capital forces schools to close, public transport to halt

KATMANDU, Nepal: Schools closed, garbage piled up on the streets and many buses stopped running in Nepal's capital Monday because of a fuel shortage caused by a general strike called by ethnic minorities demanding more rights.

Almost all schools in Katmandu and its suburbs were forced to shut because school buses had no fuel to transport students, said Lakchya Bahadur K.C. of the Private and Boarding School Association of Nepal.

"These schools will remain closed as long as the fuel shortage continues," he said Monday.

Nepal: Fuel, power crisis may cripple hospitals

Kathmandu (Xinhua) Hospitals and nursing homes in Nepal’s capital may have to stop functioning if the irregular power supply and fuel shortage persist for a couple of days more, media reports said Monday. Four vehicles of the Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital (TUTH), one of the most important hospitals in the country and used for ferrying over 1,000 staffers, have stopped operating during the day to save on fuel.

A fleet of three ambulances of the hospital is already off the road due to shortage of fuel, according to The Himalayan Times.

Pakistan: Fear of load-shedding on polling day looms large

The fear of load-shedding looms large on the polling day. Political parties believe that the government will use load-shedding as a tool to rig elections during the critical phase of counting.

British Prime Minister wants oil prices to come down

LONDON (KUNA) -- British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Monday that he wanted to see a greater supply of oil and a better match between supply and demand.

In answer to a question during his regular monthly press conference in Downing Street, the Prime Minister said this match would make it possible for oil prices to come down.

Britain Runs Out of Pasta as Costs Soar

Pasta lovers were warned yesterday that spaghetti could soon be off the menu as supplies run short.

The crisis has been caused by Italian farmers, who usually grow the durum wheat for 99 per cent of all UK pasta products, now cashing in by instead selling it for biofuel.

Mideast wrong target on oil talks

President Bush traveled to the Middle East to, among other things, ask the Saudis to increase oil production and drive

Why did he have to go to the Middle East to do this? With the proper ID he could have gone north and asked Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a Calgary oilman and head of the Conservative Party, for the same favor.

He could have gone south, with the proper ID, and asked President Felipe Calderon, head of the PAN party, for more oil.

South Korea: Resources Diplomacy

A war without gunfire is going on among major powers over dwindling energy and other natural resources in the world. If Noam Chomsky and Alan Greenspan are right, it could easily escalate into a war with gunfire ― a horrible one at that ― as seen by the U.S. war in Iraq. So the next government's vow to focus on resources diplomacy is more than welcome, if a little belated.

US warfare is buffeting the global economy, again

Global memory is declining at an alarming rate, which does not augur well for the long-term survival of civilisation or even the human species. Why will we not learn from history, especially very recent history?

There are still many people around who lived through the man-made horrors of the Great Depression, a calamity wrought by greed and powerful private interests whose reach and influence far exceeded that of government. (Government regulation of economic activity did not happen without good reason.)

That Newfangled Light Bulb

Across the world, consumers are being urged to stop buying outdated incandescent light bulbs and switch to new spiral fluorescent bulbs, which use about 25 percent of the energy and last 10 times longer. In Britain, there is a Ban the Bulb movement. China is encouraging the change. And the United States Congress has set new energy efficiency standards that will make Edison’s magical invention obsolete by the year 2014.

Now, the question is how to dispose of these compact fluorescent bulbs once they break or quit working.

Data center power: the cost reality

More IT executives are coming to grips with a grim reality: Data-center power and cooling costs are the hidden enemy of IT departments. They creep up on unsuspecting CIOs like deadly mists and choke off their ability to deploy new equipment and applications.

"If a CIO has not had to build a new data center recently, this is likely to be a huge surprise," says Ken Brill, founder and executive director of the Uptime Institute, which provides consulting services to more than 100 data center operators.

Haiti's efforts to save trees falters

GRAND COLLINE, Haiti - Far from the spreading slums of the Haitian capital, past barren dirt mountains and hillsides stripped to a chalky white core, two woodcutters bring down a towering oak tree in one of the few forested valleys left in the Caribbean country.

Fanel Cantave, 36, says he has little choice but to make his living in a way that is causing environmental disaster in Haiti. And these days, he and his 15-year-old son, Phillipe, must travel ever farther from their village to find trees to cut.

"There is no other way to get money," the father said, pushing his saw through splintering wood that will earn him as much as $12.50, depending on how many planks it produces.

Disappearing bees threaten ice cream sellers

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Haagen-Dazs is warning that a creature as small as a honeybee could become a big problem for the premium ice cream maker's business.

At issue is the disappearing bee colonies in the United States, a situation that continue to mystify scientists and frighten foodmakers.

That's because, according to Haagen-Dazs, one-third of the U.S. food supply - including a variety of fruits, vegetables and even nuts - depends on pollination from bees.

Proposed solar project could have helped South Africa: union

A 100 megawatt (MW) solar energy project that was supposed to have been built by Eskom in Upington in the Northern Cape, could have helped solve South Africa's energy crisis according to Trade union Solidarity.

Ireland: Hundreds of SME's in Limerick/Clare risk being left in the dark

'By 2030 the 27 EU countries will have to import 93% of the oil that they need. Furthermore, it seems likely that existing sources of oil will be unable to meet this growing demand. Without urgent and significant action on energy security and climate change, we in Clare and Limerick will feel the environment winds of change soon after the economic storm has done its worst. Participation in the SME Energy Management Certification Scheme is just one way that companies can avoid such an eventuality', concluded Mr. Stephens.

Going green for 80 cents a day

FOR the cost of a daily local phone call, Australians could cut their greenhouse gas emissions to the same ambitious levels now being considered by the most advanced European countries, an economic study has found.

Dead zones off Oregon and Washington likely tied to global warming, study says

Low-oxygen areas that show scant signs of sea life have expanded. 'We seem to have crossed a tipping point,' a scientist says.

Missing: The 'Right' Babies

Europe is failing to produce enough babies--the right babies--to replace its old and dying. It's "the baby bust," "the birth dearth," "the graying of the continent": modern euphemisms for old-fashioned race panic as low fertility among white "Western" couples coincides with an increasingly visible immigrant population across Europe. The real root of racial tensions in the Netherlands and France, America's culture warriors tell anxious Europeans, isn't ineffective methods of assimilating new citizens but, rather, decades of "antifamily" permissiveness - contraception, abortion, divorce, population control, women's liberation and careers, "selfish" secularism and gay rights - enabling "decadent" white couples to neglect their reproductive duties. Defying the biblical command to "be fruitful and multiply," Europeans have failed to produce the magic number of 2.1 children per couple, the estimated "replacement-level fertility" for developed nations (and a figure repeated so frequently it becomes a near incantation). The white Christian West, in this telling, is in danger of forfeiting itself through sheer lack of numbers to an onslaught of Muslim immigrants and their purportedly numerous offspring.

Saudi Aramco to Start Khursaniyah Oil Output by April

(Bloomberg) -- Saudi Aramco, the world's largest state-owned oil company, will start production from its Khursaniyah oil-field project by April.

"Khursaniyah will make available 500,000 barrels a day within two months," Senior Vice President Khalid Buainain said today at a conference in London.

The start of output was delayed from December to allow "commissioning activities" to be completed. Saudi Arabia, like other Persian Gulf oil producers, is implementing large-scale energy projects to boost crude oil and refining capacity to meet rising demand.

Saudi Aramco plans to produce 12 million barrels a day by 2009 from all its fields, Buainain said. An additional 250,000 barrels a day this year from the Shaybah field, in the southeast desert known as the Empty Quarter, will bring total output to 750,000 barrels a day. It's also planning to pump 1.2 million barrels a day from the Khurais field by mid-2009, and expects production from the Manifa field will reach 900,000 barrels a day from 2011.

In shifting power, the rise of manifold destiny

With the sizzling competition for energy, water and other resources, comes the threat of global warming, something the rich, energy-guzzling countries have done little to curb, while urging restraint on developing nations.

"The fly in the ointment is energy," says Michael Klare, a professor of Peace and World Security Studies at Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass., and author of the forthcoming book Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet.

"China and India will have explosive growth and demand at a time when supplies are not going to grow fast enough to satisfy both their burgeoning requirements and those of the older powers like Europe and Japan."

If there is a struggle for resources, liberal democratic values could take a bigger battering worldwide. And if the United States and other Western countries were weakened, the process would accelerate.

Oil rises towards $96, buoyed by supply risks

LONDON (Reuters) - Oil climbed towards $96 a barrel on Monday, as investors weighed the effects of a slowing U.S. economy against an escalating row between OPEC member Venezuela and oil major Exxon Mobil.

Exxon struggling to replace reserves, analyst says

LONDON (MarketWatch) -- Exxon Mobil Corp. is struggling to replace reserves and may have to boost capital spending substantially, an analyst said on Monday.

China: Coal exports hit 13-month high

Mainland coal exports inched up to 5.75 million tonnes last month, the highest in 13 months as producers sought to capitalise on record global prices even as domestic supplies were strained by harsh winter weather.

Shipments from the world’s top coal producer and consumer are expected to fall in the coming months after the central government put a two-month freeze on exports in a bid to solve its worst energy crisis in years. Transport disruptions and coal supply shortages caused power outages during the country’s worst storm in 50 years.

Energy shortfalls of up to 35% to hit the UAE by 2012

The power generating capacity of existing facilities in the MENASA region is inadequate and investments of at least US$ 155 billion will be required over the next decade to meet growing consumption, according to research by UAE-based infrastructure specialists, Septech Emirates.

According to the report, water and power shortages of approximately 35 per cent are expected in Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia by 2010, while the UAE and Bahrain will face similar problems by 2012 and 2013 respectively.

China's producer price index hits 3-year high

Surging crude oil prices pushed up China's producer price index (PPI) by 6.1 percent in January over the same month last year, the largest monthly rise in three years, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said on Monday.

California "Food Miles" Cannot Be Discussed in Isolation from Land Use Policies

"Not too long ago, there was a food store within a half-mile of every resident in Davis. The trend to larger stores has been one cause of the closure of several of these 'neighborhood stores.' As the effects of climate change and 'peak oil' make themselves felt in our economy and our daily lives, having essential services such as a grocery store accessible to each neighborhood will be an important element in reducing the number and distance of vehicle trips in the community."

It's time to think about the nation's new energy future

In being neither appropriate nor effective, our feeble attempts so far are grossly irresponsible. What we need is the boldness and creativity that characterized this country after Pearl Harbor: having declared war but being unprepared militarily to take on the superior German and Japanese armies, the nation came together in a way that matched the urgency of the task. Our imminent crisis requires no less!

Aramco says Total and Conoco plans progressing well

LONDON (Reuters) - State oil company Saudi Aramco said on Monday its plans to build refineries with U.S. oil refiner ConocoPhillips and French oil and gas firm Total were "progressing well".

Saudi Aramco executive Khalid al-Buainain told a conference in London that refineries in Jubail and Yanbu would have 400,000 barrels per day capacity.

Nigeria: Let Us Go Back to Firewood

My take is simple and short, whether we agree or not we should go back to our old kitchen, the ones that used to be outside the main house, made of mud brick and thatch roofs; there is no kitchen like that, those kitchens often took time to construct.

We went wood searching, picked up many but it never finished and every home was sure of more than enough for firing the biggest pot in the house and the food produced was most times, not just delicious in taste but spread its aroma around the neighbourhood. Many of our mothers were married to their husbands just because of the dexterity they showed with the 'firewood-cooked food'.

Saudi, Norway back carbon capture for CDM - paper

OSLO (Reuters) - Oil exporters Saudi Arabia and Norway will cooperate to get carbon capture and storage (CCS) -- burying greenhouse gases -- recognised as a way for rich countries to offset their emissions, a Norwegian daily reported.

If we use what I believe is the Saudi's own number that their existing wells are declining at about -8%/year overall, they would need--in order to maintain their 2005 production rate of 9.6 mbpd (C+C)--about 2 mbpd of new production by the end of 2008.

Meanwhile, it appears that their domestic total liquids consumption will be growing by about 125,000 bpd to 250,000 bpd per year.

Their 2005 total liquids production rate was 11.1 mbpd (EIA). I estimate that if they wanted, and were able, in 2008 to match their 2005 net export level, they would have to boost 2008 total liquids production to about 11.7 mbpd.

They also claim to be mitigating the 8% decline down to 2% by pricking a few more holes. But that's just another number; without some evidence supporting it, a number is whatever you want it to be.

the saudi's always seem to leave part of the puzzle out. they list 500,000 bpd from Khursaniyah which is presumably all new production, an additional 250,000 from Shayban.
but what are Khurais and Manifa currently producing ?

From the point of view of importing countries, all that counts is net exported liquids, and in round numbers the Saudi 2006 net export decline rate was about -5%/year, and the 2007 number was probably on the order of -10%/year.

Note the decision by Lukoil (linked up top), allegedly in a pricing dispute, to halt crude oil exports to Germany. Russian production has basically been flat from 10/06 to 11/07 inclusive (EIA), while recent Russian reports indicate production declines. From the linked article:

"I don't know whether other Russian producers are supplying crude instead of LUKOIL. But we have heard some talk that (German) refiners have been looking to import crude by sea," the source said.

key words and phrases: (not mentioned in any Euro-bilge text)

German/UK/French/fill in blank here / Recognition
Serbia / battle against Ottomans / 700 year old churches / etc
South Slavs
EC stupidity (under the aegis of multiculturalism and diversity)
Albanian knife/ drugs/sex slave merchants


''I can do what the fook I like, any time I fookin like; just by turning this valve off .''. (that is the authentic voice of mother Russia speaking...)

Time to get real...

We have just created an independant Muslim state in Central Europe at the expense of Orthodox Christian Slavs who just happen to be supported by a nuclear tipped oil power.

Just watch this puppy run.

Dorme Bien.

Dig a shelter.

Regarding the start-up delay, I think they would actually gain credibility if they would just truthfully explain it. "Completing commissioning activities"? What, like building the podium? Finding the ribbon-cutting scissors?

The problem must be with something downstream of the wells. Haradh III was "commissioned" ahead of schedule, but at least 1 producer and 2 injectors were still being put in months later and only then was the field reportedly at capacity. Qatif has indications of even worse problems.

Here’s another interesting example of coal ELM.

Coal markets rocked by Eskom’s ambitious plan

ESKOM’s plan to buy an additional 45-million tons of coal to replenish depleted stockpiles has been met with incredulity internationally, with analysts saying it overlooks severe global coal supply constraints, logistical challenges and price concerns.

This could be the first time that SA, a net exporter of coal, imports coal.

South Africa importing coal?? That’s quite shocking! They’ve always been a very large exporter.

It takes x amount of coal to produce y amounts of
platinum, palladium, diamonds and gold.

This formula was presented to SA Gov't and the SA Gov't told
Eskom to do it.

Does anybody have a link to historical spot prices for coal exports - they seem to me to be ratcheting up much like oil (from even something like a bit of rain in Australia), which would mean peak 'net export' coal about now, not in 20 or more years.

Australia coal export spot.

Force majeure and 300 dollars a ton.

Export volumes peaking?

"There's something going wrong in just about every coal exporting country," one major European consumer said. "Where isn't there a problem?,"

Hmmmm ... that's what I thought ... peak everything!

Very interesting.

From the "Export Volumes Peaking?" article:


The world's largest exporter at close to 150 million tonnes a year but Indonesia is rapidly building coal-fired power plants to meet growing demand. Government has warned producers it may, at some unspecified time, need to call upon export coal to meet domestic demand.

Indonesian coal of various qualities -- sub-bituminous, low-grade, medium and high-grade -- is in tight supply.

Somehow I knew that part wouldn't escape your notice.

You all have got me wondering how often we will see the term "project cancelled" pop up around the world due to spiraling construction costs. Mining, refining, processing to final product all being affected by compounding energy constraint.

As they say, the ELM is not exactly rocket science. One could in fact call it blindingly obvious, except that 99% of the population seems to be oblivious to the implications.

In 2006, the Economist Magazine asserted that Saudi Arabia could produce at its current rate for 70 years without finding another drop of oil. If they wanted to maintain flat net exports for 70 years, at their 2006 rate of increase in consumption they would have to increase their production at about +3.4%/year, for seventy years, when they would be producing about 118 mbpd.

If only half the drumbeat today is true in my book its indicating serious trouble ahead a lot quicker than most are anticipating.

Reading the ME energy shortfall forcast above 2010 - 2012 for Saudi, UAE bahrain etc. and then SA trying to close gap the by 2012, I would reckon South Africa will never get back to 100%, 24/7 electricity generation.

Without a major finacial crisis I reckon the TSHTF globally in 18-24 months, energy and food. Its a pity the clueless leadership here in the UK seem incapable of joining the dots while there is still even a fraction of time left to salvage something.

I don't know if this clarification of ExxonMobil's reserve numbers has been posted. Interesting discrepancy.

Exxon Has Off Year 
Discovering New Oil
February 16, 2008; Page A2
Exxon Mobil Corp.'s success in finding new oil and natural gas is slipping.

The world's biggest publicly traded oil company by market capitalization said Friday that it replaced just 76% of the oil and gas it produced last year, using a reserves-accounting method favored by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Using a different accounting method that Exxon says is more representative of its business, the company said it replaced 101% of its production last year.

Exxon's performance was hampered by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's May seizure of a heavy-oil project, the statement said.

Here's how:

"Excluding the expropriation, the company replaced 107 percent of last year's production."


XOM is pretending that it still owns the Venezuelan Reserves.

From Leanan catch above we get three options:

The world's largest oil producer said on Friday afternoon that it unearthed proved reserves of 1.2 billion barrels of oil equivalent during 2007, or 76% of production.

Excluding the appropriation of Venezuela assets, which knocked reserves by around 500 million barrels, and its proved reserve replacement ratio would have been 107%.

Using a method of measurement that the Securities and Exchange Commission doesn't recognize, but that oil firms use to make investment decisions, and Exxon Mobil's reserve replacement ratio excluding Venezuela would have been 132%.


U Pic'em.

U Pic'em.

I chose 76% since XOM needs to make a profit and keep it's share price up, therefore 'whistling in the dark' figures are called for by them. In the case it is actually 76% this is bad news indeed!

CERA claims to know what is really going on - we could ask them what the true figure is!

That's a tough one on who to believe. Exxon? Or the US Gov, creators of "When adjusted for inflation, the CPI was flat last year". (sarc)

Oil companies routinely complain the SEC requirements impose less 'generous' reserve reporting than they (the Oil Cos) would like to make. If my memory is correct the usual gripe is that reserves delimited by only seismic (even 3D seismic) are not permissible on their own - with some justification purists would argue! So ultimately SEC compliant reserves need to be qualified with an amount of real well data in addition to any seismic profiles. Somebody out there will be able to provide the definitive on this!

In the meantime ExM have pushed their unofficial figures over that all important 100% replacement figure so beloved by the shareholder.


Research and development has commenced to create a new type of solar power plant employing technology that would allow it to produce electricity even during periods of no sunlight. The solar plant will use LETG (Light Electric Thermal Generator), a hybrid solar and thermal energy technology that generates energy by heating up liquids that circulate on the surface of a solar panel.

Quite an interesting idea which might affect solar costs quite a lot - it is very early days for it though, so I don't expect much for a few years.

How hot can you run a solar PV panel without damaging it or shortening it's useful life? Does anybody have a link?

I've been looking for this kind of data as well.

From what I've heard, and consistent with other electrical systems, the more you heat a circuit, the more the internal resistance builds as well, so that in addition to deteriorating the materials in the panel, you would also be reducing it's efficiency.

However, if you are able to sufficiently cool the panel in conjunction with exposing it to increased light (and heat), then you can be both collecting that heat energy from the coolant as well as keeping the Electrical performance of the panel from going over the cliff.. I just don't know where that cliff lies.

So, Win-Win, to a point.


Yes, that's what I would expect.

I guess it's ok to heat water maybe 10 degrees C but it's maybe no good if you are trying to generate lots of steam?

Still, heating is what consumes the most power in most homes - used like that it might be of some use?

That would be my inclination, use a domestic rooftop array to provide electricity kept more efficient with cooling, and treat the coolant as either a heating or a pre-heating stage for the Domestic Hot Water system.


Normal silicon PV panels are typically rated up to 80 degrees C or so. A heat engine is limited to a maximum efficiency of 1 - Tc/Th according to thermodynamics. Assuming a 20 degrees C cold reservoir and 80 degrees C hot reservoir the maximum efficiency would be 1 - 293K/354K = 17%; probably about half that in practice.

Is there any chance they could make their PV panels translucent to infrared and other frequencies they aren't collecting so that they can heat their coolant even further without increasing the temperature of their panel?

Thanks for the math support. Our ground temps here are around 8 degrees C, so I think that it's not unreasonable to see the cold reservoir closer to that range, and better still in the winter. This might require at least a 2-stage heat transfer. Of course, I don't have any idea of the efficiency improvement that would be coming in at the Electric end, or the increases of concentrated light made available by this cooling stage, but there are a few layers of both advantages and of complexity that would have to be weighed in to this.

There are multilayer PV's being developed that absorb a frequency-range at each layer, to take advantage of more of the spectrum. Don't know how close these are to large-scale production.


here is a useful link I came accross. It gives relevent equations govering the power output of solar cells with temperature. It is geared toward concentrating systems, it is well presented.


Thanks for the link - I'm truly amazed at the speed of finding out stuff on TOD! - there's always somebody who can point you to the right spot.

Some obeservations on doped Si

The hotter Silicon gets, the more the dopant migrates.

It used to be the 'expected lifetime' of TTL Circuits of the Apple ][+ era was 50 years. Todays chips far less

But, the higher you 'fly' (more radiation) with TTL, the shorter the lifespan.

Note how the later 'thin film' panels (less dopant overall) have shorter expected lifes.

Some panels in the north pole run at 3X times the rated value - the reflected light from the snow increases the total photons. They also exist in a cool environment.


Crystal Panels exist in a radiation environment where they are subjected to flexing loads due to wind. So to add weight to the wind load (increased force), along with changes in the 'velocities' due to surges of coolant strikes me as a way to cut the panel lifespan.

About the only way to 'know' is to look at the history of the panel methods, look at the accelerated aging stats and hope you do not have a bad batch with the panels you buy.

generates energy by heating up liquids that circulate on the surface of a solar panel

Ummmm.... How are they heating the liquids? It is not possible for them to get more energy out of the solar panel than they invest in heating the liquids.

No it's solar thermal + solar PV - the PV panels are run thermally hot and a cooling fluid used to run a turbine.

My experience of electronic components says they fail more quickly at high temperatures - that's why you have cooling fans on microprocessor chips, otherwise they would fail very quickly.

Solar PV is really just large surface area semicoductor diodes - so I would have thought to get maximum life you would run them cool.

Oh, I get it. I misinterpreted the story. I thought they were heating liquids and then pumping it through the panel to generate electricity from the heat.

Never mind.

There are gallium arsenide PV cells which can operate at high temperatures and can be used in concentrator systems. They must be cooled, so they may thus produce both electricity and hot water.


The system described in the story uses a different approach, combining a PV system with a low temperature thermal cycle.

I wonder about this system's efficiency, as they tout their addition of a "layer of liquid luminophor", which is supposed to be a good absorber of infrared. Apparently, the "liquid luminophor" layer down converts the incident sunlight to a wavelength which just matches the band gap of the PV cells, increasing the Si PV cell current output. With a glass cover layer, they will immediately lose most of the UV, which can't pass thru glass. The infrared energy is not added to the PV output. Another problem is that a good absorber is also a good emitter, which might reduce the thermal efficiency of their collectors as heat sources. The thermal efficiency is heavily impacted by the emission of the surface outside the combined cell. Heat added to the circulating liquid will be lost by conduction thru the glass cover plate. I saw no mention of the operating temperature for the fluid leaving the collectors.

They claim "To put its potential power in perspective, the LETG can increase electric power 250% and thermal output by 170%". They also claim that using a 2 sided design can increase collection efficiency. Time will tell. Remember the old saying, "If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is". You gotta wonder about a company that puts a quote for their stock at the top of the web page...

E. Swanson

With some further thought, another problem becomes obvious. The "liquid luminophor" is intended to absorb the higher frequency (shorter wave length) photons and them emit at a lower frequency (longer wavelength) light. However, the emissions would be in all directions, thus, on average, half the photons emitted would be directed back out thru the cover glass away from the PV layer and out of the thermal absorption process as well. Rather like what happens with greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which absorb IR and then radiate both upwards and downwards.

The "liquid luminophor" doesn't look like a good idea, IMHO.

E. Swanson

"However, the emissions would be in all directions, thus, on average, half the photons emitted would be directed back out thru the cover glass away from the PV layer and out of the thermal absorption process as well."

Total internal reflection ought to reflect all of the light re-emited in an outwards direction above the critical angle from the normal of the PV cell back inwards. For glass to air boundary the critical angle is some 40 degrees; allowing light to escape in a 40-degree(half-angle. Full angle at the base of the cone is 80 degrees) cone-shaped frustum.

The additional loss of converting the energy in a blue photon partly into heat and partly into a red photon is analogous to the conventional multilayered PV cell which also incurs this loss so that it can deliver a single output voltage instead of several(and I believe it is also a way to skimp on extra layers of expensive translucent electrode).

The physics is more complicated still, as one has to deal with the transmission/reflection across the liquid to glass boundary in the out bound direction, and the glass to liquid boundary as the light reflected at the glass to air boundary travels back into the collector. Then, there's the liquid to PV cell transmission and reflection to consider and on and on. I wonder what the transmission coefficient would be for the liquid in the lower frequencies, surely it's not 100%. And, there is also going to be an immediate transmission loss for the light on it's first pass thru the cover glass, before the light even makes it to the liquid layer.

But, looking at their web site and at other information, the whole idea is probably a scam from the beginning. I doubt that these guys will be in business very long.

E. Swanson

Stabilizing Climate Requires Near-zero Carbon Emissions
ScienceDaily (Feb. 18, 2008) — Now that scientists have reached a consensus that carbon dioxide emissions from human activities are the major cause of global warming, the next question is: How can we stop it? Can we just cut back on carbon, or do we need to go cold turkey? According to a new study by scientists at the Carnegie Institution, halfway measures won’t do the job. To stabilize our planet’s climate, we need to find ways to kick the carbon habit altogether.


This is like suddenly discovering that the only way to avoid a collision is to bring the megatanker sailing at 15 knots to a dead stop within the next 100 yards. It ain't gonna happen.

Carbon Dioxide Levels Rising Faster Than Predicted, Study Says


Now we approach correctly stating the magnitude of the problem.

The necessity of turning off ALL thermal electricty generation is THE Elephantine Truth I have been insisting on for some time now. This unfortunate fact slams into our "culture of comfort" that keeps any action--discussion even--from happening. The "Comfort Culture" keeps life from being Solitary, Cold, Nasty, Brutish, and Short, and will NOT be relinquished willingly. This is why the Comfort Culture is doomed.

This is intended mostly for DaveMart, but it could be of interest to other members of this group. I mentioned to Dave in the ground source heat pump thread that I had recently read an announcement by Sanyo that they have significantly enhanced the cold weather performance of their air source heat pumps, and after some digging I finally found that press release. Apparently, this new CO2 driven version operates down to -25C (-13F), which should greatly extend its usefulness in colder climates (hello Flin Flon, Manitoba!).

See: http://www.r744.com/news/news_ida291.php

On a related note, it was suggested that the performance of air source heat pumps is degraded by defrost cycles to the point that when operated at temperatures below freezing, their COPs turn negative; that is to say, they consume more energy than what they provide the conditioned space. I challenged that assertion but, unfortunately, lacked any technical data to properly address these claims. However, a little more digging on the Sanyo site has provided me with some data that could help us more accurately calculate these losses. I should add that the following numbers pertain to one of their R410A ductless systems and not this latest generation of CO2 heat pumps, so the cold temperature cut-off in this case is -20C (-4); it's also interesting to note that at -20C, this particular model still provides anywhere from 50 and 70 per cent of its rated heating capacity.

The correction coefficient provided by Sanyo to calculate net heat gain, which accounts for frost build-up on the outside coils and its subsequent defrosting, is as follows (in degrees F):

42 - 1.0
41 - 0.95
39 - 0.92
37 - 0.91
35 - 0.89
33 - 0.88
32 - 0.87
30 - 0.87
28 - 0.87
24 - 0.89
23 - 0.91
21 - 0.94
17 - 0.96
14 - 0.97
05 - 0.97
-4 - 0.97

This table shows no impact on performance until temperatures fall below 42F. At this point, ice begins to form on the outside coils and the heat pump has to periodically reverse operation to remove this build-up. The worst hit appears to be at and just slightly below the freezing mark when net heat output drops to 87 per cent of theoretical capacity; in other words, if this heat pump has a nominal COP of 3.0 at 0C, its true COP after taking into consideration these defrosting losses is 2.6 (i.e., at this temperature point, it provides 2.6 times more heat, per kWh, than what it consumes). Note that as temperatures continue to fall, the defrost penalty is diminished, no doubt due to the fact that relative humidity is lower at these increasingly colder temperatures. At -20C, only 3 per cent of the heat supplied by this heat pump is consumed by its defrosting.

Source: http://www.sanyohvac.com/assets/documents/service/Mini_ECOi_Technical_Da...


This depends on the ambient dewpoint. I live in an area where the ambient night time temperature is typically set by the dewpoint.

What is the assumed dewpoint for these claims ?

I have seen Carrier heat pumps go into defrost cycle at 44 to 45 F degrees (measured at weather center about 1 mile away).

Below 0 C, with a dewpoint equal to the ambient temperature (or within 1 C), defrost cycles should be frequent.


What is the assumed dewpoint for these claims ?

Hi Alan,

The relative humidity, in this case, is said to be 85 per cent. So, if the online calculator I'm using is correct, the dew point at 44F and 85 per cent relative humidity is 41F and at 32F it's 28F. At 90 per cent relative humidity, the dew points are 41F and 29F respectively. I'm not familiar with your winters, but Halifax is in located in a maritime climate (think cold and wet) and if it's of any interest, you can find our dew point readings here:


Below 0 C, with a dewpoint equal to the ambient temperature (or within 1 C), defrost cycles should be frequent.

I'm not sure what you define as frequent, but Sanyo tells us that at -20C just 3 per cent of the heat generated by this particular heat pump is consumed by its defrosting; the remaining 97 per cent is transferred to (and remains within) the conditioned space. All things considered, the "overhead" doesn't strike me as terribly excessive.

[Addendum: Sorry, I should have mentioned the Sanyo numbers are wet bulb temperatures.]


If the relative humidity is >85%, then the defrost losses would be >3%, if less than 85%, then <3%.

Air source heat pumps appear to have made great strides !


Yo, Paul!
Interesting indeed!

I have to ask though, in view of the very different systems typically used in America and Europe/Japan - basically air-flow in the States, adapted to air conditioning, what are the differences, as presumably the Japanese systems are using water heating, with little possibility of air-son, just as in Europe?

Anyway, why should I give a damn, since in sounds good for the UK! ;-)

Alan might swelter though! :-)

Hi Dave,

Good question because, as you say, most residential systems here in North America are forced air and that trend picked up steam (if you'll forgive the expression) as central air became more commonplace. With respect to Canada, from Ontario to points westward, it's predominately forced air gas and electric air. Quebec and to a lesser extent B.C. are tilted toward electric baseboard due to low hydro-electric rates and relatively modest cooling demands; low installation costs and relatively low operating costs make electric heat an easy choice for new homebuilders in these provinces. The Maritimes are the odd ones out; our older housing stock and very limited a/c demands make hydronics more common, although baseboard electric is gaining market share within the new home market, perhaps not surprising given fuel oil is the other alternative. Many folks, including myself, do prefer the added comfort and quietness of hot water heat.

I suspect ductless heat pumps and reverse-cycle chillers such as this will be of little interest to Canadians (or Americans) with the exception of those of us who heat our homes with either baseboard electric or hot water; given the overwhelming predominance of forced air, the market for these systems would seem quite small. Things may change as natural gas becomes increasingly more expensive and as supplies become tighter, but it's more likely conventional heat pumps will benefit from any such shift that may occur.

One other thing to note. As a rule, heat pumps in Canada are generally sized according to our larger heating loads, whereas in the U.S. it's the other way around (an "oversized" system wouldn't remove humidity as effectively as a smaller unit and in Alan's NO, that would be a serious problem). Now, however, with multi-stage systems and, in particular, inverter drives, a larger system that would better serve heating requirements shouldn't adversely impact a/c performance. That's an important development because it lessens any dependency on back-up heat during colder weather which, in turn, lessens the strain on consumer wallets and, likewise, the demands placed on the utility grid.


Greetings Halifax!

I have a friend nearby (Massachusetts) who just put in a ground-sourced heat pump with a forced air exchanger. It has about 800 feet of tubing buried 8 ft down in a 30 x 80 foot pit, and the inside unit has a 5 HP compressor. It takes a little over 3.5 KW to power (when it is on) but he claims it is toasty warm and quite economical compared to electric baseboard heat. He got the idea from someone in Ontario; apparently these units are common there.

I think plenty of options are available for new construction. Your housing stock is closer to that of Boston - smaller houses built in the 1880s up to the 1960s with poor insulation and no ductwork, more likely coal or oil boilers and upgraded only when something fails. Better to insulate and air seal first, but I agree there is no easy or inexpensive solution.

Hey POBox,

Halifax and Boston share a close bond and I would love to describe this in great detail if it were not so far removed from topic (for a small hint, see: www.gov.ns.ca/natr/extension/christmastrees/bostontree.htm and www.cbc.ca/canada/nova-scotia/story/2006/09/08/rice-mackay.html).

It would be interesting to compare your friend's electrical consumption before and after the installation of his new system. Do you know if he's keeping track of the results? The one thing to watch for is the growth of mould and mildew as moisture contained in return air condenses on its inner surface. That moisture combined with normal household dust can result in some nasty air quality issues and, unfortunately, it's pretty hard to remedy once this happens as there's no effective way to clean these contaminated surfaces.

BTW, if you want to check out our fine city, see: http://youtube.com/watch?v=sshM02j_YaQ and, yes, this one too: http://youtube.com/watch?v=faAP3RYFjZ0


I'll ask him and see what I can find out. He's an engineer too - and probably has plenty of data on it. Thanks for your note on the moisture problem - something good to watch for.

Thanks for the pointers to your fine city. I haven't been there yet but my wife has. She has quite a story -- her father was born in the Citadel, about two months after the Explosion. Somehow she had the presence to grab her 2-year old son and run outdoors, just minutes before the house imploded. They eventually moved to Boston, but have many ties to the area.


Hi Chris,

As it turns out, one of my neighbours growing up was temporarily housed in the Citadel as a young girl; as you can imagine, the explosion pretty much left the entire city in ruins and the few structures that were left standing were in most cases uninhabitable. Even after looking at the pictures and reading the accounts, I still can't fully comprehend the extent of the devastation. Not to get too sappy about this, but the citizens of this city will never forget the tremendous outpouring of aid provided to us by the citizens and State of Massachusetts and those of its neighbours; for that, we will always be most grateful. If you were to put a value on it in today's dollars, it would have to number in the hundreds of millions. And it wasn't just money, but literally train loads of doctors and nurses, medical supplies, basic necessities such as clothing and blankets, building materials and so on. But well beyond that, it was the comfort and compassion and the willingness to do whatever was needed to help get this city back on its feet. If you talk to folks of my parent's generation, you can clearly see how this touches a very deep emotional cord, and if one ever needs reason to believe in the goodness of man, look no further. When time permits, I would certainly encourage you to read more about this event and its aftermath at: http://www.cbc.ca/halifaxexplosion/index.html


Hi Paul,

If it wasn't for that annual gift of the Christmas tree, I don't think many folks today would know what had happened up there and how quickly Boston reacted with help. To me, it ranks as one of the biggest selfless acts of human kind, one we need to remember and emulate in today's "gimme gimme" society. Of course I'm happy it worked out, since my wife's entire family might otherwise have perished.

I see acts of kindness in the way some organizations have continued to help rebuild New Orleans, and the way one couple I know has made several trips to Sri Lanka to help out tsunami victims. In both cases it was support by private citizens, not governments, that made the difference. Something tells me we'll need a lot more of that kind of mindset to deal with the effects of peak resources and I'm really happy everyone at TOD takes the time to communicate.


Hi Chris,

It's precisely these selfless acts and the emotional support that your citizens bestowed upon us that speaks to the heart of the matter and, like you, gives me reason to remain optimistic about our collective future. At the risk of downplaying the tangible aspects of the relief effort which truly do stand as a testament of all that we can be, and for without the human suffering and loss of life would have been enormously greater, the people of New England gave us hope at a time when it surely must have seemed all hope was lost and demonstrated to us and, indeed, the world what it is to be a good neighbour and a good friend. I hope future generations of Haligonians never forget your truly remarkable kindness and follow your example should the need ever arise.


Surely they could be adapted to work with air-flow systems and provide cooling? Not that I think that that is a do-it-yourself job though!

I thought though that maybe in a couple of years time that they would be on the American market.

Hi Dave,

I wouldn't be surprised if North American heat pump manufacturers adopt some of the underlying technology, but for now and probably the foreseeable future, gas heat and electric a/c will continue to dominate the market. There has been some interest lately in so-called "hybrid" systems whereby a standard heat pump is mated with a conventional gas furnace -- and you really do gain the best of both worlds in that context -- but most consumers (and homebuilders) are price sensitive and will therefore go with a less optimal but also less costly alternative (i.e., fag+a/c). I need to remind myself time and time again that no one has cornered the market in ignorance and stupidity or, to put it more kindly, people don't always move in rational ways. So, whilst a system such as this may make good sense in many ways, it's unlikely to be a commercial success on this side of the pond. Historically low energy prices have distorted things badly, but (thankfully?) that's bound to change with time; and with that, who knows, maybe the situation will be much different. Well, let's hope!


I had thought perhaps the Japanese would export air-pumps designed with the American market in mind in the next couple of years, but perhaps as you say fuel costs there are still to low for them to sell.

The Japanese are also actually working on fuel cells to power air pumps, as you doubtless know - that is what you call efficiency!

I find I misinformed you be stating that the Japanese were working on using heat for refrigeration - it is the Germans:

"If you've ever had to go behind your refrigerator, you may have noticed that cold makes heat," said Rainer Braun, a professor at IWG. "That is, the apparatus which keeps your food cold is often too hot to touch. Why, then, can't heat make cold?"

"Anybody can produce heat by producing coolness," Braun said. "But we at IWG are the only ones producing coolness from heat."


Darn clever trick!

I don't think I've seen this posted here yet, apologies if I'm wrong

From Metropolis


At the moment, the ideas bundled under the rubric of “localism” are regarded as a lifestyle choice, which is to say a fashion statement of environmental concern, practiced by those with the time and means for following fashions. “Locavores” who make a point to eat locally are represented overwhelmingly by college-educated, high-income Baby Boomers who buy those $6 pint baskets of boutique blue potatoes at the farmers’ market as much to make a statement of principle (and derive moral comfort from doing so) as to eat nutritionally sound, good tasting food. Meanwhile, the rest of America keeps driving to the Shop Rite for tubes of frozen ground-round, jugs of Pepsi, and bags of Cheez Doodles made (grown?) God-knows-where. So, the stylishly fit locavores end up looking like stuck-up moralistic snobs while the majority follows the mindless corporate programming du jour like the overstuffed lumbering TV zombies they have become. By the way, locavores also overwhelmingly drive to the farmers’ market, (as I have observed in my town) and usually in motor vehicles the size of medieval war wagons.

And meanwhile, Mr. Kunstler maintains his moral comfort-levels by creating an endless stream of stereotyped putdowns of nearly anyone he can slap an 'easy-irritant' label onto.. if you're not a 'Blue-potato' wierdo at one end of the spectrum, then you get to be a 'cheeze-doodle' moron at the other extreme.

It seems the 'mindless corporate programming' that he also loves to 'boldly-spear' should at least be thanked for providing him with his script-format.

You think he's calling me a weirdo because I like the variety I can get at my local farmer's market? I didn't take it that way, and any way he didn;t use the term weirdo. But, either way, he is a very expressive writer.

"as much to make a statement of principle (and derive moral comfort from doing so) as to eat nutritionally sound, good tasting food."

If 'wierdo' doesn't fit, whatever. He's making one of those 'There are two kinds of people in the world, Vain Ineffectual Snobs, and Illiterate Goomba's' or something to that effect.'

Expressive writer? Sure, just like all the expressive writers in High School. He's inflammatory, not insightful.

Kunstler is a writer and basically a professional cynic. beyond that he doesn't really have any qualifications to speak authoritatively about peak oil. nobody really does. they've all made really bad predictions are one point or another.

remember how off Kunstler was about Y2k?

I don't hesitate to criticize JHK's particular achilles' heel in his Purple Panic-Prose.. but it's simply not reasonable to conflate Kunstler's undisciplined emotional tactics into 'Anyone else' who writes about PO. That's just hyperbole. Many are writing about the ramifications of this issue without the class-baiting and Hollywood-scale conclusions that turn what could have been decent social critique into childish, and therefore 'ignorable tirades' for so many potential readers.

Rhetorical Question: How are we going to grease the Squeaky wheel after Peak Oil?

Fortune Cookie
'Strong words are an indicator of a Weak Cause.'


but it's simply not reasonable to conflate Kunstler's undisciplined emotional tactics into 'Anyone else' who writes about PO. That's just hyperbole.

nobody has the credentials. even simmons gets thing wrong. so does pickens. simmons had some wild price targets a few years ago. when I say credentials, I mean an expert, not an oil person or someone writing books. how much does simmons or kunstler know about farming or solar technology? how much can they know about the future.

I'm not talking about his predictions, but his characterizations, which are either going to make someone turn their back on all his points, (many of them useful) or encourage people to laugh at a bunch of easy us/them stereotypes.

The point of Kunstler is not his predictions. His mental images are of caricatures of a certain portion of us. His images, like any others are not a one to one map with reality. Many feel he is dead on in his VIEWs of the future, not specific dates.

Most of all, I just enjoy his writing style. I like the cynical humor. It is not humor with distain, but more cynical humor of a shared condition, and the saddness of it all.

Like, Gee People, It SHOULDN'T Be so hard to see some of this stuff

The point of Kunstler is not his predictions.

That's good because he's made some really bad ones.

Actually, most everything being done now does tend toward one or the other.

You see the same thing here. You have the "cheez doodle" brigade (not so much on the site but in general) who is going to drive their F-150 pickup until they can't, at which point they will demand that the military steal someone's oil somewhere so they can again.

On the other hand, you have the techno-geekery crowd, with an endless cornucopia of mostly expensive, untested, and not very effective (even on the drawing-board stage) gadget solutions. The electric car seems to be the favorite blue potato du jour.

Just because you and JHK don't want to spend any time looking at the complicated gray areas, and are satisfied boiling it all down to Cheez Doodles and Techno-Geeks, doesn't necessarily make it so, even as a self-fulfilling prophecy.. (ie, we keep getting shown these extremes by each other and the 'media', and don't actually know how many people and families are somewhere inbetween, where these hysterical stereotypes are really inadequate to describe what people are going through, or are trying to do.

There are more than two types of people in the world, and it doesn't do your own understanding any good to try to push everyone into that pair of boxes.

Walmart and Radioshack installing and selling Solar Panels. Fast-food stores offering salads and 'No Trans-fat' options.. All sorts of things are out there happening in small ways, trying to break out.

So, what would he suggest?

I am a locavore, if by locavore, one means a person who tries to buy as much local produce as feasible, season permitting, and considering the fact that I live in Colorado. So, what's the problem? Very few people know that I do this, so I don't know how this could be a fashion statement. Further,most of my vegetables are delivered so only my delivery man and a few close friends know what I am doing.

There is much to like about Kunstler, but his complete cynicism about everyone who is trying to make a difference has become very annoying.

I think he is correct in that some/many that are being locavore's do it because it sounds like the right thing to do, without really connecting it to the larger reality - hence the driving to the farmers market comment - I think it's an irony thing for him. I can see how he can be annoying, but I love him anyway.

A reality-based view of all this suggests that localism and “green” economic practices will be taken up more broadly and earnestly only when we don’t have a choice about it, and can no longer manage our bad old ways. My personal serene conviction is that we are much closer to reaching that point than most Americans realize.

Everything we do from now on will have to be finer in scale, quality, and character. Exercises in irony will no longer be appreciated because there will no longer be a premium paid for declaring ourselves to be ridiculous. The localism of the future will not be a matter of fashion. It will be in the food we eat and the air we breathe, and we’d better start paying attention.

Kunstler is spot I LMAO at his acidic humor even the stuff that chafes my ass too. Tstreet don't have such thin skin he said "represented overwhelmingly by" not exclusively by. My gosh Colorado is crawling with this type of self absorbed save the whale type especially this time of year. If we can't laugh at ourselves how are we going to get thru this mess.

The people driving to the farmer's market in their SUVs aren't going to be laughing. Now,I'll grant you, if you want to see this type of person, visit a Whole Foods in Boulder, Colorado. There, you will see making people paying outrageous amounts of money to make a statement, to revel in all their stuff.

I am not thin skinned because I don't think I fall into the category he is talking about and, besides, what he might say that reflects on me personally is of little consequence. I just think he sets up these scenarios where everything just seems impossible.

Anyway, it would be nice if he would occasionally recognize the people all over who are doing the best they can in walking the talk and trying to figure out solutions to the problems he identifies.

Hear, hear, TStreet!

(and I have to wonder if these 'Save the Whale' types are really the self-absorbed ones? Is it possible that there are a lot of very self-absorbed video-game players, or day-traders, Cops or Barbers, Cab Drivers or 'Tanning Addicts'? Was Ralph Nader really the 'ego' candidate? Some of these self-evident conclusions have GOT to be challenged..)


I am also a locavore as you define it - and virtually year round in Austin. There are undoubtedly a few folks at the farm stand I frequent hauling heirloom eggplant home in their Lexus SUV, but for the most part it seems overwhelmingly like people just looking for good organic produce and who appreciate the local connection. Many are regulars, and get to know each other - my impression from those I've talked to and overheard is that most are there for the quality of the food. They see buying local and organic as a way to get healthier, tastier food - and the fact that it travels far fewer miles, and uses far less energy to get to them, is probably only a secondary consideration. Still a very small niche, but growing.

Same here in Arlington, VA. Although we cut down on the drivers by not having anywhere for them to park! (at least at some of the markets) And, they tend to be located on top of the Metro stations.

Re: Disappearing bees threaten ice cream sellers

It's nice to know that the worst consequences a honey-bee dieoff will be more expensive ice cream. Whew! I was worried there for a bit.

Famous quotes for those who did not know : ;-) LOL

Albert Einstein speculated that "If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would only have four years of life left."

Yop, shargash

"Demand is so interesting this time around. It seems to be very insensitive to the price rises."

The quote above when MGE was $15:


that's where this is all coming from, the shortage of the actual physical supply of spring wheat and durum," said Elaine Kub, a commodity market analyst at DTN. She suspects grain prices elsewhere will retreat, but there's little question about the clamor for spring wheat.

"People are desperate," Kub said. "You definitely heard stories from out in the country of elevators offering $20 a bushel and getting no sellers. ... You hear people tossing around the words 'wheat hoarding.' "

This one Friday:


Why the price of 'peak oil' is famine

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard International Business Editor
Last Updated: 2:54am GMT 09/02/2008


I remember when Ag Forums were stuffy laid back forums:

"So, Mr. Lobbyist for biofuels (or any other narrow interest group), whatcha gonna do about Pakistan and Egypt, for example, with $20 wheat? Sign your sons and daughters up for the Marines I suppose?

Have a nice day, h"


This is impossible. There can be no shortages in a free market economy. The market will provide, just wait and see.

/sarcasm off

The shortages will only be temporary. After that, much previous demand will be dead. The free market will return equilibrium to the economy. God is just, or so they say.

Whatever happened to "Kill them all, let God sort them out"?

There is just a shortage of "cheap" wheat. That is just entitlement thinking -- thinking that people are entitled to the super-low grain prices of the last 30 years. In the 1900-1914 period (and probably much of the 19th century), wheat was the equivalent of about $46 a bushel on average.

$50 a bushel today would me more like a "normal" price, historically speaking.

We were less than one-third of our current world population at the turn of the previous century. Many more people grew their own food and didn't have to buy it, than do today.

Nearly half the world's current population lives on around $2 a day. Not that wheat is even a good staple for a diet, but at $50 a 60-pound (27.3 kg) bushel, $1 would buy them 1.2 pounds of wheat per day, with $1 per day left to spend on water, clothing, shelter, sanitation, fuel, and medical care.

1.2 pounds of wheat will yield roughly 1.2 pound of whole wheat flour, which contains roughly 1,860 calories. Wheat must also be cooked to be edible, increasing the fuel costs associated.

$2/day per person or per family unit (4?). A cynic would say that the days of population growth outside (1) Welfare-US, (2) Muslims-Europe and (3) Oil-rich Middle East countries are pretty much over. If this Peak food can be sustained.

(1): Will continue and will end badly. Clinton won in Black areas in NYC!! - ya right - it is the same democratic party criminals that stuff ballots and use their allies in the media (& organized blogging) to blame the Republicans - every election.

(2): Dunno how it ends - Europe is a big food exporter but a big energy importer

(3): As long as there is food to be traded for Oil, invested money...

going on here?

That seems to be the question, all right.
See, you could ask the major, but he don't know.
He's busy.
He's busy trying to figure out how come the officers' mess
run out of peach ice cream.

The general come up to see the show. All he knows is
there ain't no show.

Now, the major, he's looking at the general. He's thinking
to himself, "I better do something."

You know what that means. I don't want to be the first one across this field.

Dances with Wolves - Michael Blake

This paragraph is even more stunning:

That's because, according to Haagen-Dazs, one-third of the U.S. food supply - including a variety of fruits, vegetables and even nuts - depends on pollination from bees.

So according to Haagen-Dazs supply of fruits is dependent on bees. In other news, the Earth revolves around the Sun per Copernicus, Vespucci says America is another continent and the term 'gravity' describes an existing phenomenon according to Newton.

Journalism of this kind really blows one's mind away.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Monday that he wanted to see a greater supply of oil and a better match between supply and demand.

Totally amazing, the top man in the UK (and who ran the treasury for so many years) doesn't seem to grasp the basic idea how supply and demand in a free market are matched exactly by price - with such understanding of economics it's no surprise that he and his mates have just gone and bought the bust Northern Rock Bank for $100 billion or more with money we haven't got.

With the prospects of the UK having to grow oil imports by at least another 8% of total consumption each year using more money we haven't got , so that by ~2020 we import all our needs (to say nothing of reducing CO2 emissions because of climate change) you would think he would be urging massive conservation starting now, but no, we need to burn more!

If it looks like the financial system can't carry on like it is, then it probably won't!

He certainly had the supply and demand fundamentals wrong on gold when he sold a large percentage of Britains reserve. I believe the low point in golds price is called "Browns Bottom".

Isn't it beautiful?

Brown wants to see prices go down. I'm sure prices will go down if he wants it bad enough. And he takes it a step further and argues that a wonderful 'match' of supply and demand he (I'm sure) also wants would allow prices to go down.

This news would have been Monty Python worthy 20 years ago. Nowadays it's in the paper.

John Howe has a new website up called Solar Car and Tractor.

I don't know how many of you have met John. John is an elderly gentleman who has adapted several vehicles to run with solar panels and batteries. His work was available in the past as a self-published book, but really was not available on the web. He has also been a speaker at a number of conferences. Now he has a nice-looking web site.

I know him well. He's a genius and a doomer if there ever was one. I've been to his talks, seen his vehicle. He's intelligent, passionate--and thoroughly ignored in the state of Maine (sort of like Simmons, also a Maine resident, part-time, whom the media around here strenuously ignore).

The major newspapers in this state received copies of a signed protest letter I wrote admonishing them about peak oil and reminding them that they have two heroes (Howe and Simmons) right here in their midst. A dozen friends signed the petition. Not a single newspaper here in Maine bothered to acknowledge receipt of the letter.

Howe's existence will be looked upon in the future as positive proof that "we" humans knew what was happening and that we had the means to do something about it. But we chose to do nothing.

I watched a news clip once that had been edited so that Howe's presentation about the energy crisis was glossed over, edited out, in favor of the "cool local guy makes solar tractor" angle. Nothing about its necessity in the future. In that news clip, you could see John's charts (available at the website linked above), but you got nothing about what they mean.

Maine is already suffering and is going to suffer more. It's a nauseating spectacle at this point.

Here's a video of John at his farm in Waterford, filmed, I think, by Revi at PO.com :

John Howe.

You can see for yourself how the energy crisis is glossed over in the news report I mention above:

Solar converted tractor.

Attentive PO doomers will catch Howe's tone of urgency, but the newscaster's take is "good for the environment and saves a lot of money."

Kind of makes you feel like a passenger on the Titanic, watching the Carpathia sailing right by.

Anyone in/near Cumberland county, (Portland Maine area)
For What it's Worth, there's a Transportation Hearing in Portland on Thursday at the XXXXX (see edit below) Church. We have two members of the City Council who are eager to reshape Portland towards a much more bikable and walkable design, and consider other transportation questions.

And meanwhile, it's 50 degrees and foggy in Portland in February..

Forget Maple Syrup, it's time to plant Mangos! and Kiss our Aspens goodbye! (That's a version of Birch, right?)

It's a good day to die!

EDIT; Sorry, wrong data in orig post..
Public Forum on Transportation and Public Transit

What: The City of Portland invites the public to attend a public forum on transportation and public transit. The feedback received at this meeting will help shape the City's Peninsula Transit Study. The forum will focus on transportation trade-offs, including increasing bike lanes versus expansion of City parking, offering employer benefits for public transportation users, and car pool incentives.

City Councilor Kevin Donoghue, Chair of the Peninsula Transit Study Committee, and representatives from the transportation firm, Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates will lead the discussion.

Thursday, February 21, 2008
7:00 PM * 9:00 PM

Ocean Gateway Marine Passenger Terminal
Commercial Street, next to the Maine State Pier and Casco Bay Ferry Terminal

The City of Portland is firmly committed to providing access, equal opportunity, and reasonable accommodation in its programs, activities, and materials. Please call (207) 874-8689 or (207) 874-8936 TTY to request accommodation or to obtain materials in an alternate format including request for translation or interpreting services. Forty-eight hour advance notice is appreciated.

it's 50 degrees and foggy in Portland in February

Climate change will wreck havoc in Maine as well as anywhere else.

When growing up in Brewer I never thought that Maine, even down in Portland, would see such balmy temperatures in February. Usually we would still have snow drifts still covering the better part of the first story of the house in February. I can recall that the last snow flurries could be seen in early July and the first snow would fall in late September.

How long before the Pine Tree paradise is no more?

Yeah. I'm worried that an 'average temp rise of two degrees' ends up meaning that winter is seven alternating weeks at 65 below, and summers last nineteen months with daily highs of 160..

.. but maybe we'd never have to go through Mud Season again! Woo hoo!

Moscow will benefit from climate change. Lower heating bills in the winter. Life cannot be all bad.

True, Life is not all bad.
But it's not wise to mess with Mother Nature.

The changes 'could' be cozy and helpful, or they could be severe and deadly. We just don't know, and if we clever primates can manage to hunker down for some bad stretches, can our topsoil, waterways and crops make it through as well?

If we just poked a sleeping giant in the eye, I hope we have a real cute and innocent grin ready when she starts looking at us.


Hey Bob, always take advantage of what the world hands you. 50 degrees means it's a perfect day to do a wood stove and stove pipe cleanup. Quick run up on the roof with the tires chains and rope. Coming into warmer weather it's really important to have a clean chimney if you heat with wood. Spring means fires that don't run as hot as at 0 degrees and more damped fires.

I have a long constant list of chores, that's life on a farmstead. You do end up living very in tune with nature, more often than not the weather and not me dictates what chores get done and those that are set aside for another day.

I've seen endurance races between solar powered vehicles.
They have bicycle wheels and and are made from carbon fibre and Kevlar. They are very light. The whole machine is covered in one moulded solar panel. They need to be light because the solar panel can only charge a small battery.

I need six 175w solar panels on my roof to produce 1kw over a period of about 8 hours on a nice sunny day.

Now I see a tractor with a solar panel facing straight up and I'm supposed to believe it's viable.
How many batteries, what amp hours and we can determine for how long and how much solar charging will be needed. That thing looks like it would need the sun shining straight overhead 25 hours a day.

The panel on the car is even funnier, maybe he charges his cell phone with it.

Now I see a tractor with a solar panel facing straight up and I'm supposed to believe it's viable.

How many hours a day/week is the tractor just sitting there, Turned Off?

Not saying that that is what he's doing, Just saying...

Most of the time tractors do just sit, or are needed for an hour or so cleaning. The charging dilemna occurs in field operations, when it's run all day for days or weeks.

But check bendzla's first link above. As Howe states, he took these on as an experiment. He states the power inadequacies. For the $ put in, I'd love to have one of his "data points".

"Work Capacity: The Ford 8N requires almost 5 Hp just to energize and move itself in soft ground. An additional 7 Hp is required for maximum continuous work like 16-inch plowing or double disk harrowing in new ground at 2 mph. The total of 12 Hp (about 9 Kw) requires 75 Amps. This can be supplied by the 1300 pound battery pack for two hours. (18Kwh or equivalent to 2 gallons of gasoline). This output will plow or harrow ½ acre in two hours.

Recharging: With 75 Amps out and about 5 Amps in (in direct sunlight) it does not make sense to carry the array on the 8N. It requires 30 Amps (six times direct sunlight) just to power the tractor. It would require 15 hours to recharge the batteries with two 4-panel arrays (10 Amps times 15 hours equals 150 Amp hours). A full-wave bridge rectifier will recharge at 10 Amps if grid power is available. "


In places with cheap land, like Maine, Montana or Alaska, which tend to attract the back-to-the-landers, often the biggest businesses around are resource extraction businesses like pulp and paper, forestry, fishing, oil and gas, mining, agribusiness, etc. The local media is usually owned (literally or figuratively) by these businesses, and there is VERY little enviro-stuff of any sort in the local media. One day, it's someone talking about planting flowers in Anchorage, and the next day there's a protest to keep drilling out of ANWR.

He'll be lucky, MG Migets didn't go very reliably even on petrol! British engineering at it's very best!

BTW, just so you aren't given the impression that you can run a car with solar PV that small - the solar panels on it in the picture only charge the 12 volt accessory battergy. ie: you could use the cigarette lighter or run your iPod but that's about it.

In direct sunlight, to recharge the entire 150 Ah of energy capacity would take about 30 hours with one four-panel array and an area of 50 square feet (5 meter2)

Crude oil is a miracle fuel - don't waste it! Currently there aren't any viable, adequate, sustainable substitues for mobile use.

I've driven the MG. It's not so bad. Way better than a golf cart.

One of the synergies John has - the solar array is much bigger than one panel - it runs several tractors and the golf cart too. It's a trap to think of that bigger array as dedicated to one machine when it's multiple vehicles, chain saws
and winches.

We took maybe a half hour drive. When we got back to the barn, we plugged in the MG. John said refueling via Central Maine Power cost about $.10.

cfm in Gray, ME

To be fair, that smallish array would provide (hard to tell from picture) some 45 to 100 watts of charging power, which means you could likely run a good bit more than an Ipod from it. Easily a Laptop, charge some battery tools, etc.

Solar-to-Electric is also a miracle fuel.. we just take for granted how flexible and precious it really is, overshadowed as it is by petroleum's easy power.


The tractor looks a little silly, until you think about what sort of animal could survive on the 5-8 meters or so of "land" that the solar panel takes up. A little bit of web surfing tells me that an "animal unit" (1 cow, 6 sheep, 4 big goats, 42 rabbits, 177 squirrels) requires 5-20 acres of land. So, say [4000x5/200] about 100m^2 for a squirrel, as an approximation.

By absorbing energy that wouldn't even keep a mouse alive, that thing is able to do useful work [I'm guessing for maybe 1 hour per day, but still ... ]. Wow.

Someone sent me this and I was wondering if any of you can comment on it:

The demand for natural gas is growing

It is the nation's fastest-growing energy source, with demand forecast to increase by about 22 percent between now and 2030 (EIA Annual Energy outlook 2006), including a more than 62 percent increase for electric power generation (EIA Annual Energy outlook 2006).
Americans used 21.9 trillion cubic feet in 2005.
Natural gas supplies about 62 million residential customers and 5 million commercial and industrial customers.
Natural gas powers nearly 130,000 buses, taxis, delivery trucks and other natural gas-powered vehicles.
Most natural gas used in the United States comes from North America.

The United States produced 18.2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in 2005.
U.S. production has been essentially flat for 20 years; increased imports fill the gap.
Future resources

Recent estimates by Minerals Management Service and U.S. Geologic Survey for future undiscovered natural gas resources range as high as 1042 Tcf, enough to last more than 47 years at current production rates.
Federal lands contain about 60 percent of the nation's estimated undiscovered natural gas.
There are 209 Tcf of technically recoverable natural gas in the Rockies alone - enough to power more than 50 million homes for 60 years.
The Rockies' share of the lower-48 production will grow from 23 percent in 2003 to 28 percent in 2030.
Government policy restricting access and development have placed substantial, new natural gas supplies "off limits" - approximately 200 Tcf, or enough natural gas to heat more than 100 million homes for 30 years. Lawsuits block development of even more.

The United States produced 18.2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in 2005.
U.S. production has been essentially flat for 20 years; increased imports fill the gap.

Dry gas production in 2005 was 18.05 trillion cubic feet but was up over .4 trillion cubic feet in 2006. And it will be up a bit this year as well but still will not come close to the 19.6 tcf extracted in 2001, not to mention the all time peak of 21.73 tcf set in 1974. And production has been flat for about 40 years, not 20.

I have no idea what the "undiscovered reserves" are. How can anyone know about something that has not been discovered. But the question remains if there is so much natural gas to be discovered then why the hell are we importing so much? I do know that about half our gas comes from wells that have come on line in the last three years. Someone posted that chart awhile back but I do not have the URL right now.

We are using less gas right now because a lot of the companies, like fertilizer companies, that used natural gas as a feedstock have mostly moved to countries that can supply much cheaper gas.

Ron Patterson

Canadian marketable natural gas production is going to end up in 2007 slightly below the 6.026 tcf produced in 2006 and about one quarter tcf below the 2002 peak. Total North American marketable natural gas production in 2007 will fall below the 2001 peak for continental production by about 1.5 tcf.

In the meantime, natural gas, oil, water and other scarce economic and financial resources are being converted into ethanol. To make the economy funtion on an even more sub-prime level, natural gas and water are wasted converting tar sands into oil.

Opportunity cost is neglected as the potential benefit of the net energy available from this natural gas evaporates over seas of monocropped corn and massive areas of dammed water.

The times accord James H. Kunstler the right to use whatever words of derision he might choose. It is hard to exaggerate the colossal stupidity of the moment.

Hop over to ASPO France and check out Jean Laherrere's document on North American Natural gas written in August 2007. It has a forecast of production. US and Canada both have passed peak. Drilling costs are way up. We have 30% of our natural gas left. Fairly rapid decline predicted. He also did a document on world LNG supply, but it is in French. Graphs are in English.

He has North American NG production down 10 tcf/a by 2020. Thats more than a 30% reduction in 12 years or ~3% decline per year. The next decade will be interesting.

Yes. Especially for those of us who live up here on the Canadian border. They say LNG will pick up the slack, but that 10 tcf/a is as large as the world LNG market. And I expect there are others who will want some. The problem is that North America was one of the worlds largest NG producers. Making up for our decline is just not possible.

I have almost scraped together the data I need for an EROI analysis of natural gas production. My first rough guess was that we had fallen to 3:1. Stay tuned for an update this weekend.

RE: Toplink: Britain Runs Out of Pasta as Costs Soar

The unsourced statement, attributing the scarcity of pasta to using it for biofuels, is misleading at best. I can't imagine using durum wheat for etoh production, or any biofuel. The pasta shortage is a result of worldwide scarcity of wheat, set in motion primarily by adverse weather conditions in 2007.

There was a short thread in drumbeat last week on wheat, noting the unprecedented prices the last week or so. Hard red was trading at over $20 bu in Minneapolis. Speaking with a longtime miller from General Mills, he told me he thought the conditions were the worst in 60 years. He was paying $22 for Minneapolis hard, over $17 for local soft. Even the big boys are in the market daily, not relying on company storage or long term contracts completely to cover their milling needs.

Hard wheat yields about 45 lbs flour per bushel of wheat. Checking prices in the grocery yesterday, wheat flour was $4.30 to over $5.00 per 10 lb bag, depending on brand. Watch these skyrocket-at $5 flour and $22+ bushel wheat, you've only paid for the wheat.

Unbleached white flour is up to 65 cents a pound at my local natural food store in bulk. It was 35 cents a pound just a few months ago.

At $22.50/bu, that's $0.50/lb wheat flour. No transportation, milling, retail, or marketing costs included.

Short while ago, with wheat topping at $4, 10 lb bag around $2-$3, it was not even 9 cents/lb of flour.

Most folks aren't going to be buying Hard Red Spring flour (13-16% protien) its a very high protien flour used in top quality breads and some cheaper pasta. Kansas/Ok/Tx/Co. Hard Red Winter is the flour most generally used as all purpose flour. Hard Red Winter (10.5-13.5% protien) is selling in the $11 bushel range. I was at Sams Club over the weekend and they were selling a 25 lb bag for $5.84.($.235/lb) The biggest suprise was a 6 lb bag of penne that I bought in August for $3.54 was now $5.68 a 60% increase. Durum wheat (semolina flour) is the culprit and its priced higher than hard red spring. Another big hit was 13 gallon trash bags up nearly 20% since November.
Prices for both HRS and Durum are going to get worse. HRS Milling quality wheats (15% protien) are trading at $22.00 bu with a cash basis of up to $6.50. That $28.50 for mill delivered wheat in May. Durum is not even being offered.

I agree most needs are not going to specify hard reds. I was corrected that winter hards can range down to 9.5%. The more expensive reds may be blended by millers/bakers, depending on the desired gluten level.

I have said before, I don't see these highs lasting. Where are your prices from, Kansas City last Friday? If you have a link, I'd appreciate it. Looking at your $11 winter hard red, that still works out to $.244/lb for the wheat cost in flour. It's anyone's guess whether these prices will stay long enough to be completely reflected retail, but you may want to grab that bag now.

The US doesn't usually grow much durum, only 3.5% of 2007 wheat crop. A yellow pasta wheat, normally little demand. Montana durum Friday at $22.75-$24.00

Assuming you are watching Kansas wheat fairly closely, do you hear any local talk of white hard taking off there?

Oil buoyed by supply risks

"Oil prices are remaining at firm levels, buttressed by perceived supply side risks," David Moore, a resource analyst at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, said in a research note.

There is also evidence of investors moving back into oil, which could point to further price strength.

Speculators on the New York Mercantile Exchange, for example, increased net long positions last week, according to data from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission released on Friday.

A nice reply to mercury concerns from fluorescents can be found at http://www.worldwise.com/recfluorlig.html . Not compact ones, simply those that we have used for decades in such places as schools, malls, libraries, factories, warehouses, hospitals, etc. And yet, for those same decades, the mercury found in a fluorescent bulb was not an issue. Now, suddenly, CFLs are a problem because of mercury. Somehow, I think this related to my electric company sending me coupons to replace my CFL bulbs (80% savings over normal filament bulbs) with halogen bulbs which save 30% over a normal bulb. Even though in Germany, CFL recycling is part of the system for over a decade - they don't end up routinely anywhere but in the correct processing facility (or in a shipping container for some Chinese company to 'recycle' over open coal fires - I'm not unaware of how recycling is often actually practiced).

Interesting article in Der Spiegel, talking about street car production - apparently, German only. Siemens is the largest producer of street cars in America, and is doubling its capacity in two years to a stately 142 trains per year ('Züge' - the best assumption is a self contained street car, comprising a number of connected cars/wagons - each streetcar could be hooked up to another streetcar, of course).

And when Siemens first opened the factory in Sacramento two years ago, they couldn't find welders to handle the job - they flew in 50 German welders for a half year to teach their American counterparts how to do it. You know, Sacramento, near that high tech manufacturing mecca of modern America industrial prowess.

Siemens is experiencing a mini-boom, according to the article, with 200 trains on binding order. And the options available for American customers is considered miserable in the author's eyes. What is left unsaid is how Siemens is able to extract a nice profit margin from customers without little potential to bargain - German media tends to assume a certain level of understanding of how the world works. Apart from Siemens, customer can turn to either Canadian Bombardier or Japanese Kinki Sharyo - which doesn't even have its own shop space in the U.S. - Kinki Sharyo rents assembly space in the city where the trains are going. There is a certain incredulity in how that is written - as if including Kinki Sharyo isn't a bit of a stretch in being considered a player in the American market - after all, any East European street car manufacturer in the Czech Republic or Hungary could do the same thing.

Amusingly (or not, depending on your perspective and understanding of what this actually means), Siemens sells a decades old model made out of steel, which due to how Americans drive their larger vehicles, means that this model shrugs off the smaller and weaker cars when hit. Yes, that point about the larger and heavier vehicle being safer is not total fiction - it is just generally, Americans use it as excuse for what they drive, rarely concerning themselves about those in smaller vehicles. Siemens, however, understands that fact equally well. Which is why this model is built, along with a modern European design - low floor, frame supporting light weight panels and lots of glass. In Europe, cars do not play games with streetcars, and everybody has now grown up sharing the road with them. Accidents happen, but generally, it is clearly the fault of the car driver - and damage to the train is generally minor.

These low energy light bulbs are ghastly. Recently the Film director Bryan Forbes wrote an article saying hands off our lightbulbs, I sympathise. These new bulbs won't save much energy but give bad light. Gesture politics.

If you buy any cheap, poorly made product, you're less likely to get satisfactory results; it's really no different with CFLs. Generally speaking, if you want to be assured of good performance, stick to a name brand product made by GE, Philips or Osram Sylvania. That said, any CFL that is Energy Star certified should be fine. Colour temperature (CCT) and colour rendering (CRI) are important, so pay attention to this information if it is provided on the packaging -- in some cases, CRI is not listed but, again, any Energy Star product should be fine.

I'm pretty fussy about my lighting and there will always be applications where halogen or a HEI will be the better choice. Nonetheless, most of us seem fairly satisfied with the quality of light provided and in the context of much longer life, cooler operation and significantly higher lamp efficacy, the trade-off, if any, seems reasonable.


On the contrary, I have been using CFLs since 1999-2000. They certainly have improved remarkably over that period of time (less green cast, fits standard light fixtures without having to change the lampshade harps, etc) as has their light output per watt.

The drop in household electrical costs was dramatic as was the impact on summertime cooling requirements. A well-insulated house may keep the outside heat "out" but it also contains the inside heat quite well.

Now they aren't going to win any awards for film since film is color balanced to a specific color temperature rating (daylight at 5500 °K, a standard tungsten bulb at 3200 °K, and a standard halogen at 3400 °K) with a spectrum spread (which is why a daylight film shot under tungsten lighting comes out "red/orange", the light is too "cold" for the film. Fluorescents, even daylight rated ones, can only approximate daylight by adding some peak frequency emissions together to give the appearance of "white light."

But recent guests to my house were surprided to learn that all the room lighting was provided by CFLs. They could not tell from either the lighting color, nor the intensity. It looked like a soft-white light to them.

Note that you can similarly fake "white light" by having some variable intensity bulbs and sharp cut red, green, and blue filter (gels) over the bulb output.

Hi ST,

Years ago, Sylvania offered a T12 lamp which they called, somewhat immodestly, the "Incandescent Fluorescent" and I was talking to an Osram representative about it recently. The light quality it provided was stunningly good. Apparently, so good I'm told some photographers would opt for tungsten-rated film and pull out the standard fluorescents in whatever environment they were shooting, pop in these lamps and then put the old ones back when done -- with "picture perfect" results. Regrettably, a wide if not fully continuous spectrum comes at the expense of lamp efficacy, so light output was about half that of a conventional fluorescent -- I'm going back some twenty-five years in my mind, but I believe a 40-watt IF produced 1,600 or maybe 1,700 lumens versus a T12 CW at 3,150 lumens. They say beauty comes at a price and this is one more example.

I generally prefer CFLs with a CCT of 3,500K, but the CFL that produces the very best light I've seen from any CFL, bar none, is GE's 2,700K 2D. It's an unusual design, a little hard to find and may not fit every table lamp and fixture, but the quality of light is unmatched. And I recently found out there's good reason for this. Apparently, even the better CFLs do not employ tri-phosphors as I had assumed; because they're so naturally rich in the blue spectrum, lamp manufacturers use only two of these three phosphors. The 2D because of its odd ball design and performance characteristics does use all three and I (and others I've spoken to) can see the positive difference this makes.


Hi expat,

It will take time to makes its way through the installed base, but low dose and, more recently, ultra low dose lamps are gradually displacing older T5, T8 and T12 fluorescents. Philips is arguably the leader in this area. Their new line of 32-watt T8 Alto II lamps contain just 1.7 mg of Hg, half that of their previous generation of low mercury lamps. By comparison, an older T12 might contain upwards of 12.0 mg of mercury, so the difference is significant.

There are a couple other things that are helping to improve the situation with respect to Hg. One is the move to smaller diameter lamps (i.e., T5 and T8 versus T10 and T12) so less Hg is required. Secondly, considerably longer life due to better lamp construction and, in part, the move towards program start ballasts. Some of the new Philips lamps are rated for 46,000 hours life, double that of a standard T12 or T8; double lamp life and combine this with occupancy sensors that turn off the lights when you leave a room or your cubicle and you've cut the number of replacement tubes required by more than half. Third, advancements that have led to higher lamp efficiency -- measured in lumens per watt -- and better lumen maintenance -- in some cases, now up to 97 per cent at end of life -- means fewer lamps and fixtures are needed to meet any given level of light. In addition, the general trend toward higher CRI and CCT means that we get a lot more "visual kick" from each lumen. Lastly, ambient light levels in commercial spaces is trending downward as we move towards more task oriented lighting; instead of throwing a huge amount of light everywhere and wasting a lot of energy in the process, we're getting smarter and directing it to where it is needed; new code requirements such as California's Title 24 and ASHRAE/IESNA 90.1 and to some extent LEED certification are pushing this hard. There's more (e.g., many jurisdictions have implemented mandatory lamp recycling and firms that offer lamp and ballast maintenance programs such as Osram Sylvania have recycled mercury for years) and all of things will have a positive impact.


Indeed, Florida mandates recycling of all mercury-containing lamps due to excessive mercury levels in our fresh water fish. Of course, enforcement is sporadic...

Errol in Miami

Hi Errol,

Let's hope for further improvement in years to come. Along these same lines, I seldom give GE and Osram Sylvania proper recognition for their many environmental achievements and that's unfortunate because they both do good work in this area. I guess I single-out Philips for special praise because I'm genuinely impressed by this company's drive to always do better, and year after year they do just that. To learn more about this company's environmental goals and numerous past achievements, see:



I heard a line from Men in Black that said something like "a person is fine, but people can panic". This seems to be the case here. With cellulose ethanol you have food from the corn and fuel from the corn stalks. You use the same land, the same fertilizer, the same water, so there is NO conflict.

I guess the story about all of this has to get out to stem some of the hysteria. It is too bad that people do not take the time to educate themselves on this and then hear a bit on TV and all of a sudden it is a crisis situation, when it really is not. The farmers and distillers took the easy route that Cater and ADM started in the 70s and never got much farther. It is time now to go farther...rapidly.

Sorry CalGuy but there is no free lunch. Same water and land maybe but you would definitely need more fertilizer. Removing the corn stalks rather than leaving them in the field removes mucho nutrients you will have to replace. By the way, just where is the commercial cellulose to ethanol plant anyway?

DOE studies have shown that you can remove 1/2 of the corn stalks and leave the rest for the soil. You get char after the process, which is carbon that can be returned to the soil as well.

I heard a line from Men in Black that said something like "a person is fine, but people can panic". This seems to be the case here. With cellulose ethanol you have food from the corn and fuel from the corn stalks. You use the same land, the same fertilizer, the same water, so there is NO conflict.

Corn stalks! The world will be saved by corn stalks. Damn! Why didn't I think of that?

Ron Patterson

I doubt that the world will be saved as long as there is an ample supply of cynical skeptics. It is always easier to be negative, always easier to destroy than create.

Saw this a couple of days ago over on www.EnergyBulletin.net in reference to a Monbiot article that referenced this Citigroup study.

The essence of the artilce was maybe now they'll believe their own if they won't believe us.

Here's a copy of the referenced report for your viewing enjoyment


Re: "Biofuels spark fears of land grabbing, peak food." up top:

The guy pictured with corn in his hat outside Mexico City is getting $25.00 per bushel and wants $35.00 according to a previous post Leanan put up. The local price here in No. Iowa is about $4.80. There is so much misinformation about biofuels it boggles the mind. I find it particularly irritating that the author quotes someone who says biofuels should have sustainability certificates to be produced. IMO oil should have sustainability certificates not biofuels. The problem is Peak Oil not peak biofuel yet, although it may come later. The whole biofuel controversy is mistaking effect for the cause. The cause of rising food prices is inflationary monetary policy and Peak Oil together with bad weather in the case of wheat. I repeat corn is mostly animal food. It is animal production which will suffer mostly with less corn. People can survive quite nicely with out much meat. My doctor is constantly telling me to eat more vegetables not more meat. We should switch to grazing animals like cattle or sheep which don't need as much corn. Animals are energy losers and exporting corn for animal feed is an energy loser that has to stop in a post peak world. It is orders of magnitude worse than the infamous 1500 mile salad. Transporting low value coarse grains around the world for animal feed is nonsense. It is much more energy efficient to turn corn into ethanol near where it is produced and use the DDG's for animal feed. Other countries will have to figure out their own solutions using the resources available to them. We can not solve Peak Oil for the whole world. Others will have to solve in for themselves in their own way just as we have to.

Well yeah, but America exports the meat-eating lifestyle because all we have left to offer the world is franchised fast food and the licensing fees attached to them. Our corporations created a model of depoliticized, dumbed-down consumer who could be cheated six ways from Sunday. It is the precious summation of reams of focus-group research on how to push human comfort buttons and short-circuit human judgment buttons: meat, fat, sugar, Big Gulp, pine-scented, easy-listening, Corinthian leather, primary-colored, memory-foamed, Romney-haired, self-adjusting. Now it must be imposed on the world or the Dow will crash.


Hey now, don't yee go knock'n that 'em there rich Corinthian leather.... some cow gave up its life to make my fat ass comfortable. Why don't you show that poor animal some respect?

Now if *****you***** don't mind, I'm going to head out to that corner 7-11 right now and get me one of those Big Gups and maybe some Frito-Lays too! Oh now jeez, where's the frigg'n keys to my 'doba?


Mister cry your eyes out bow-tie and blue oval 'cause Dodge won

After accounting for distillers grains, we used about 1.7% of the world's cereal crop for ethanol this year.

We Exported over twice as much corn (mostly, to be used for livestock feeds) as we put into ethanol. Oh yeah, we exported more corn last year than we did the year before.

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Okay, here's world grain production:


2 billion, 530 million tons. About 91,080,000,000 bushels. We used approx. 12% of our 13 bil bu corn harvest for ethanol. 1.56 billion bushels. 1.56/91.08 = 1.7%

Your original statement: ”After accounting for distillers grains, we used about 1.7% of the world's cereal crop for ethanol this year. “

From your own link:

“FAO’s estimate of global cereal output in 2007 now stands at some 2102 million tonnes”

“It is estimated that at least 100 million tonnes of cereals are currently used for production of biofuels, of which maize accounts for at least 95 million tonnes, representing 12 percent of its total world utilization. Maize is the main cereal used for the production of ethanol and the United Sates is the world leader of maize-based ethanol sector. In 2007/08, the United States is expected to put at least 81 million tonnes of maize into the production of ethanol. This would be up 32 million tonnes, or 37 percent, from the previous season. “

100 million tonnes/ 2102 million tonnes = 0.0475 = 4.75%

You used 2530 tonnes which is total supply, not production. So you are including left over grain from previous years crops.

Also from your link:
“In spite of the increase in world cereal production in 2007, a tight global cereal supply and demand situation prevails in the current 2007/08 marketing season. Cereal supplies are low mainly because of dwindling stock levels carried over
from the previous season. “

PS: The USDA has a nice page summarizing world grain production.

Of major interest are "Historical Data Series" tables 14, 15 and 16. (Wheat and Coarse Grains, Corn and Barley, and Rice.)

Wheat and Coarse Grains
Corn and Barley

Stocks in general seem to be in decline.

You used 2530 tonnes which is total supply, not production. So you are including left over grain from previous years crops.

By Gosh, You're Right. I sure did! Dang, I was so busy trying to do tonnes to bushels (back of the envelope, style) that I flat forgot how to read. Thanks for the heads up.

So that would be 1.5/2102x36= 2.0%, right?

As for the rest of it, I'll stick by my guns. I'm taking into account that we (the Americans) get right at 40% of our cattle feeding ability back in the form of distillers grains when we process our corn for ethanol. We get about 30% back in the form of distillers grains, and they will deliver a 10% higher weight gain than corn when fed in a thirty percent ration.

I didn't figure World production. I knew Europe had messed around some with wheat-based ethanol, but I was under the impression that they had pretty much shut that idea down. I still question the rest of the world doing 20 million tons of grain-based ethanol. If that was true, I guess that would have the potential of kicking it up a percent, or so, depending on how they handle their distillers grains. Ah, I doubt it. I still think 2% is going to be very close.

Anyway, that's my "Story," and I'm Stickin wit it." :)

If you've been following the discussion at TOD, you know how they grew all this corn too; they put under the plow every available square meter in Nebraska, bid up the price of land, built way too many ethanol plants, in other words did everything that signals an agricultural bubble. Agricultural bubbles always put the most marginal land into production. These practices proved disastrously unsustainable after the World War I agricultural export boom. Meanwhile, the ethanol thus produced didn't replace any Arab oil at all. It's just used as a replacement for MBTE in most places, to slap another bandaid on the destructive paradigm of the American automobile culture.

At least during the Dust Bowl, they weren't out of fertilizer too...

I posted on the "Politics of Biofuels" link, yesterday, the link from USDA showing that we have gone from almost 300 million acres in the 8 major rowcrops to 246 million acres since 1982. Most of this acreage is being held in conservation reserve (the gov is paying them not to plant it.) The amount of this acreage in reserve (36 million acres) didn't budge last year.

Somewhat offtopic as it regards freedom of information, came upon this item, http://www.counterpunch.org/soldz02182008.html about a website called Wikileaks, which is touting itself as a place whislteblowers and those with documents needing to be leaked can go. And yes, there's some very interesting items there, http://www.wikileaks.be/wiki/Wikileaks this item about the process of deliniating the soon to be independent East Timor's economic zones as regards its hydrocarbons, http://wikileaks.cx/leak/timor-oil.pdf

Hello TODers,

I can't say the following will never happen, but it makes for an interesting speculation scenario.

First, imagine a contest where cites/towns compete nationwide to reach the highest saturation levels of Peak Outreach to the huddled masses, then:

Imagine all US golf courses converted to permaculture by Govt decree, and all the millions of golfcarts sent to the winning Peak Outreached city that instantly abolished personal FFed-cars and is rapidly ramping Alan Drake's ideas. For example, imagine a no-snow, high smog, mostly flat city such as Phoenix being the contest winner. Just how quickly would this city be seen as a highly desireable place to live? I would imagine Az would also have to pass laws to severely constrain any further immigration due to our Overshoot and water problems.

How clean would the air be? How quiet would be the traffic? How friendly would the people be as conversation would be easy from golfcart-to-golfcart? How much safer would the streets be for pedestrians, bicyclists, and electric scooterists as these golfcarts don't go very fast? Would the city grid be sufficient for charging these vehicles and electrified RR & Transit, or would blackouts and brownouts be the norm? Could the winning city also build factories to build electric delivery trucks besides more golf carts for local use?

Would the Peak Outreach conversion success of the first winning city to relocalized permaculture and TOD save enough energy to rapidly speed the conversion of the city/town that came in second, and so on down the line? Could this targeted contest method be the best civic process for the initialization and enlargement of biosolar habitats as the detritovore habitats and infrastructure inevitably crumble from Entropy? Would this focused process overall minimize the scale and duration of Overshoot machete' moshpits, or does diffuse, ignorant, delusional, and wasteful BAU promise to be less violent and anarchic going forward?

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

Hello TODers,

Will postPeak 'Murkcans want their children sorting garbage, or will they prefer their kids play violent videogames while eating Cheetos?

Endang said she involved her students in recycling through the school's extracurricular Youth Scientific Project (KIR), held every Saturday.

"I don't have to tell the students what to do with the garbage anymore. The senior students teach the younger ones. Some of the senior students are invited to events to explain our recycling activities. The knowledge has been recycled as well," Endang said.
I think as I-NPK skyrockets, huge numbers of postPeak people will be involved in the recycling of O-NPK from garbage, composts, and manures. I can easily forsee discounts given for transit & RR riders that deliver sorted metals, plastics, glass, compostable garbage, and humanure to the RR & TOD stations. Picture every outbound train delivering railcars full of these goods to the areas best suited to reprocess and recycle. At the endpoints, SpiderWeb railbikers then move the vital organic soil nutrients the last miles to the millions of discrete acres to help keep the depleting I-NPK and trace mineral costs as low as possible.

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

Found a headline indicating discussion of potential oil production shortfalls at a CERA conference.


The dollar seems to be falling in advance of potential interest rate cuts.

People were dumping t-bills as foreign governments offered better interest rates.

The results of high deficit living have caused a nation to lose credibility in the currency markets after losing credibility about the situation in Iraq before the war.

Check a chart to find the demise of the dollar coinciding with the preemptive war in Iraq. The US is being billed for this fiasco at a time when money should be diverted to domestic programs. Iraq has less religious freedom now than during the time before the war began. Promises of freedom from the mouths of liars were often unfullfilled.

CERA is now in the minority and needs to be more realistic about oil production shortfalls - their scorecard needs improving!

found on http://energystandard.blogspot.com/

The above website also had a sarcastic answer to this question:

Demand Destruction

When there is not enough oil to go around, what do you do?

You try to destroy demand, especially that of others, after which you have more oil to go around - relatively speaking.

A treasury bubble exists and is looking for a catalyst/pin to burst it.

This article is good.
The Mother of all Bubbles, Peter Schiff

last paragraph:

For now there are a host of factors temporarily propping up the Treasury bond market, such as unrealistically sanguine inflation expectations, foreign central bank and hedge fund buying, short covering, credit spreads, problems in the mortgage market, recession fears, and flight to what is falsely perceived to represent the ultimately in safety and quality. When these props give way, look out below! As we have learned from previous bubbles they can inflate for a long time before they burst. As this one has been inflating longer then most it has amassed quite a bit of air. When it ultimately finds its pin the popping sound will be deafening.


Tens of thousands of people living in disadvantaged areas around the world now have reliable household lighting thanks to Scots-Canadian photonics engineer Dave Irvine-Halliday. For ten years he has been supplying low-cost lighting in developing countries through his foundation, Light Up The World, an achievement that has earned him a Rolex Awards for Enterprise.

It is a project with potential to make a huge difference to the world as a whole: each year the kerosene lamps that flare in the homes of the poor liberate 244 million tonnes of CO2. Dave’s solar lighting sets offer huge scope to reduce those emissions and save poor people money at the same time.

I thought this might cheer folk up!