DrumBeat: February 28, 2008

Oil Climbs Above $102 to a Record as Dollar Falls Against Euro

"All the crude oil available is being vacuumed up by investors, in part because interest rates are low and there's no alternative to commodities that looks very good," said Tim Evans, an energy analyst at Citigroup Global Markets Inc. in New York. "The fall in the dollar also attracted funds."

Crude oil for April delivery rose $3, or 3 percent, to $102.64 a barrel at the 2:30 p.m. close of floor trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Futures rose to $102.97 a barrel, the highest since trading began in 1983. Prices are up 66 percent from a year ago.

Oil hits inflation-adjusted record high
(Reuters) - U.S. oil surged to a new inflation-adjusted record high on Thursday, surpassing the previous record of $102.53 set in 1980, according to the International Energy Agency.

Major fire at large gas terminal

LONDON (Reuters) - Firefighters said on Thursday they were tackling a major fire at the Bacton gas terminal, but that the blaze appeared to be confined to the terminal itself.

"We have a very large scale incident ongoing at the moment at the Bacton Gas Shell UK Ltd site ... on the Norfolk coast," a spokeswoman for Norfolk fire brigade said.

Putin mocks US-backed gas pipeline project

MOSCOW (Thomson Financial) - President Vladimir Putin today mocked a US-backed plan to build a gas pipeline to Europe that would bypass Russia as he concluded a deal with Hungary on a rival project.

'There's always an alternative but it's worse than cooperation with Russia. You can build two pipelines, you can build three. The question is what you pump through them,' Putin told reporters after the agreement was signed.

'It's very clear that the project we are proposing can be realised and has supplies guaranteed. If someone wants to dig up the ground and build a pipeline -- go ahead, we don't mind,' he said.

Wind turbines may threaten whooping cranes

But because wind energy has gained such traction, whooping cranes could again be at risk — either from crashing into the towering wind turbines and transmission lines or because of habitat lost to the wind farms.

"Basically you can overlay the strongest, best areas for wind turbine development with the whooping crane migration corridor," said Tom Stehn, whooping crane coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

BP begins construction on phase one of Sherbino Wind Farm in West Texas

LONDON (Thomson Financial) - BP's renewables arm, BP Alternative Energy, has begun full construction on phase one of its Sherbino Wind Farm in West Texas, it said in a statement.

Option plays suggest oil may fall to $80 by June

LONDON (Reuters) - A big chunk of new speculative money that has poured into energy futures has gone into options, which can now play a bigger role in driving the ups and downs in the price of crude oil.

In November last year a mass of option bets on $100 oil came close to pushing prices to that level. Now a large number of options are betting oil could fall to $80 by June.

Gloves are off in battle for oil sands clients

"We just had some people come back from a tour of Chinese state oil companies, and on the wall of each, there was a map of the Canadian oil sands," says Brock Gibson, a partner with the Calgary office of Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP. This despite the pull-back by China's CNPC International from its Canadian projects and uncertain future of Synenco Energy Inc.'s Northern Oil Sands Project, in which China's Sinopec has a 40-per-cent stake.

But China is just one example of foreign interest in the oil sands. The Dutch, Norwegians, French, Israelis, South Koreans and Japanese all have stakes in the sands now. India - via the Indian Oil and Natural Gas Company's (ONGC) - keeps on promising to arrive.

Analysis: Cuban oil production down

Oil production in Cuba has fallen steadily over the last half decade from a production high of nearly 65,000 barrels per day in 2003, according to energy experts on the subject.

Over the past five years, production in Cuba has dropped to about 51,300 bpd, said Jorge Pinon, a researcher at the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American studies at the University of Miami.

While some are quick to assert that inefficiencies in the extraction process are to blame, Pinon notes Cuba's main oil field, Varadero, is in its fourth decade of production and showing signs of being near the end of its lifespan.

Norway state oil group Petoro's Q4 output falls

OSLO (Reuters) - Norwegian state-owned petroleum company Petoro reported a 6.7 percent drop in oil production for the fourth quarter on Thursday though higher gas output kept total production steady.

...Norway is struggling to maintain oil production against a declining trend as production from ageing North Sea oilfields tapers off, though Norwegian gas production is growing steeply.

An Energized Giant

Brazil looks set to play a larger role in South America and the world, thanks in part to a major oil discovery.

Gazprom sends warning to Ukraine as deadline looms

MOSCOW, (Reuters) - Russia's gas export monopoly Gazprom sent a new warning to Ukraine on Thursday, four days ahead of the expiry of its ultimatum to Kiev to pay debt and sign a new supply deal or face reduced deliveries.

"The deadline is in force. No one has cancelled it and we plan to reduce supplies on March 3 if the problems are not solved," Gazprom's spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov told Reuters.

Russian giant looms over Europe

The figures are staggering: Gazprom has a market value of $245 billion. It employs nearly half a million people and is buying up state energy companies across Europe.

It provides 100% of the gas needs of neighbouring countries like Latvia, and it provides almost half of Europe's gas needs, which will rise from 200 billion cubic metres today, to around 600 billion cubic metres by 2020.

Europe is currently desperately dependent on Russian gas.

Analysis: Russia's northern oil exports

WASHINGTON (UPI) -- The good news for Russia is that energy prices are at a world record, and that Russia is now tied neck and neck with Saudi Arabia as the world's leading oil producer, producing around 9 million barrels per day to a world consuming about 84 million bpd. Russia is the largest non-OPEC oil producer and now generates 12 percent of global production.

The bad news is that Russia's major export routes are running at full capacity. Russian energy exports to the four cardinal points of the compass all represent varying degrees of difficulties. Eastward, exports to China are still largely miniscule and move by rail until a new pipeline is complete. To the south, two routes exist -- southward across the Caspian, where oil swaps with Iran remain minor, while shipments from Russia's Black Sea Novorossiisk port, approximately 1.2 million bpd, must transit the Turkish Straits, and Ankara has vociferously protested increase in tanker traffic.

PDVSA asks UK court to lift Exxon's asset freeze

LONDON, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA has asked a UK court to lift a $12 billion freeze on its assets, granted to U.S. oil major Exxon Mobil, pending arbitration over the seizure of Exxon's Venezuelan oil fields.

Lawyers for PDVSA argued on Thursday that the British court had no right to impose the freeze because the dispute, involved parties and arbtitraion were not connected with the UK.

Exxon vs. Chavez: More Smoke Than Fire

So then, why is it that every time Hugo Chavez opens his mouth, crude oil futures leap to attention and U.S. politicians wet themselves? It’s an understandable question, and one that few investors have taken the time to understand.

The short answer would be: What if that blustery demagogue isn’t bluffing this time?

Key Mexico party seen opposing oil alliances

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - A key Mexican opposition party is unlikely to back any oil sector reform proposal that would let private companies form profit-sharing alliances with the state oil company Pemex, a senior lawmaker said.

"For us, risk contracts are unacceptable for now," Sen. Manlio Beltrones told the Mexican daily Reforma.

Analyst sees Halliburton, Schlumberger win Manifa

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Oilfield service companies Halliburton Co and Schlumberger Ltd are the expected winners of big contracts for work in Saudi Aramco's offshore Manifa oil field, Bill Herbert, analyst with Simmons & Co., said on Thursday.

"This is one of the most widely anticipated project awards," Herbert said. "The results of that tender have not been officially revealed, but we believe that the winners are Schlumberger and Halliburton."

Union members picket Petro-Canada to support locked out Montreal workers

OTTAWA, Feb. 28 /CNW Telbec/ - Members of Canada's largest energy workers' union are picketing select Petro-Canada gas stations across the country tomorrow to support of locked-out workers at the company's Montreal refinery.

The World's Growing Food-Price Crisis

One factor driving up the cost of food is the rocketing price of oil, which raises agricultural costs of everything from fertilizer to transport and shipping. Like the oil price, the cost of food is responding, in part, to the burgeoning demand in China and India, where rising incomes allow people to eat bigger meals, and to buy meat far more frequently. That, in turn, has helped to squeeze the world's supply of grain, since it takes about six pounds of animal feed to produce a pound of meat.

Then there is climate change: Harvests have been seriously disrupted by freak weather, including prolonged droughts in Australia and southern Africa, floods in West Africa, and deep frost in China and Europe. And the push to produce biofuels to replace hydrocarbons is also adding to the pressure on food supplies — generous U.S. subsidies for ethanol has gobbled up needed food acreage, as farmers switch from producing food. "The area used for biofuels is increasing each year," says Nik Bienkowski, head of research at ETF Securities, a commodities trading firm in London.

The ethanol bust

NEW YORK (Fortune) -- Cargill announces it's scrapping plans for a $200 million ethanol plant near Topeka, Kan. A judge approves the bankruptcy sale of an unfinished ethanol plant in Canton, Ill.. And that was just Tuesday.

Indeed, plans for as many as 50 new ethanol plants have been shelved in recent months, as Wall Street pulls back from the sector, says Paul Ho, a Credit Suisse investment banker specializing in alternative energy. Financing for new ethanol plants, Ho says, "has been shut down."

How can the ethanol industry be slumping only two months after Congress passed an energy bill most experts consider a biofuels boon? The answer is runaway corn prices.

Food Price Hikes Roil Pakistan

Pakistanis have been grumbling about rising inflation for more than a year now, but in the past few months the sticker shock has grown much worse. Wheat prices have jumped by more than 20% since November, driven up by rising global prices as well as local hoarding ahead of the election and wheat smuggling into neighboring Afghanistan. The price of the gas that many Pakistanis use to cook with has also skyrocketed. January's inflation rate was nearly 12%, the highest in almost three years.

Food Security: Moving towards the precipice?

A jittery Chinese government imposed temporary price-controls on a slew of basic food products in January after news that the consumer price index jumped to an 11-year high that month. Food prices were cited as a main contributor to the increase.

The pressure of rising food prices has afflicted not only China, but reflects a greater global trend driven by complex factors such as population growth, changes in dietary trends as groups are lifted out of poverty, increased demand for biofuels, and climate change.

Fertilizer glut likely by 2012

NEW DELHI: Farmers across the world will not face any shortage of fertilizers in four years’ time.

If a UN Food and Agriculture Organisation report is anything to go by, global fertilizer supply is expected to outstrip demand by 2011-12 and will support higher levels of food and bio-fuel production.

Bangaldesh: Bridging the widening food gaps

As the price of rice climbs across South Asia farmers and millers in Thailand are setting on stocks and waiting for it to rise even further. Top rice exporter in Bangkok says in an interview with the Straits Times, "In my 25 years of trading, I have never seen such a bad position." So, Bangladesh being an Asian country and prone to natural calamities cannot expect to see a better situation in respect of rice and wheat price.

Breadbasket inflation

The scope of the problem is daunting. On Tuesday, Julian Borger reported in The Guardian that rising food commodity prices will prevent the United Nation's World Food Program from maintaining its current food deliveries to 73 million desperately hungry people. In China, the fourth consecutive year in which grain harvests lagged consumer demand impelled the government to slap a raft of export tariffs on grain exports. Russia, Argentina, and Kazakhstan have also imposed export restrictions. (Thanks to Energy Bulletin for the links.)

The worst-case scenario is obvious: mass starvation. Short of that, crippling inflation.

Enter the biotech industry.

Protests paralyse Cameroon capital and port city

YAOUNDE (Reuters) - Anti-government riots paralysed Cameroon's capital and main port city on Wednesday as popular anger exploded over high fuel and food prices and a bid by President Paul Biya to extend his 25-year rule.

The unrest -- the worst in more than 15 years in the central African oil producer -- has killed at least six people since it broke out at the weekend in the port of Douala, a major shipping hub on Africa's west coast.

'Panic' wheat buying across the US

While US has made improvements to increase crop production efficiency in recent years, the world hasn’t really put sufficient investment into production agriculture for several decades.

The net result has been declining stocks at the same time that expanding global wealth has demanded more raw commodities.

The Problem With Biofuels

AS THE United States searches for alternative ways to feed its addiction to petroleum, ethanol and other biofuels derived from organic material have been considered a miracle motor vehicle elixir. The energy bill signed by President Bush in December mandates that at least 36 billion gallons of biofuels a year be used by 2020. Yet separate studies released this month by Princeton University and the Nature Conservancy reveal that biofuels are not a silver bullet in the battle against global warming. In fact, they could make things worse.

Fuel Prices Back On The Rise

He explained that in the two years that lapsed between when the city did cost estimates, established a project budget and issued debt for the South Milam Street and Friendship Lane work, the price of the project rose by $2 million -- from roughly $3.7 million to $5.7 million.

The city made up that difference with its cash reserves, but Neffendorf pointed out that such a solution is not always available.

“Experience tells us that we’ll adjust and cope, but you have to wonder when ‘too high’ is too high?” he said.

UK: Brown's Huge Petrol Ripoff

GORDON Brown is set to rake in £4.5billion in stealth taxes on the back of soaring oil costs that are causing misery for millions of motorists.

Drought in China leaves millions thirsty

While parts of China have been rocked by record snowfalls, a drought in northern China has left more than two million people without sufficient drinking water, a state news agency says.

The drought has led to loss of arable land, livestock and drinking water, according to the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

Things aren't as bad in the Gulf as claimed

Overzealousness recently backfired on the peak oil crowd after Platts investigated the actual data behind their claims that the first generation of deepwater Gulf of Mexico fields has failed to fulfill expectations.

Challenged on that assertion to provide backup data, peak oil guru Matt Simmons was unable to comply.

Florida's Blackout: A Warning Sign?

Both America's electrical hardware and software components, Makovich concedes, are still dealing with "a legacy of underinvestment." In the decade before the 2003 blackout, for example, annual electrical transmission investment in the U.S. grew only about 20%. Between 2005 and 2010 it's expected to jump by some 65%, to about $15 billion — a level many U.S. infrastructure critics feel the country should have been at by the beginning of the this century, not a decade into it.

DOE Not Backing Down On Strategic Reserve Fill

The Bush administration yesterday defended its policy to withdraw oil from a tight market to fill the Strategic Petroleum Reserve while at the same time asking other countries to boost oil production.

Katharine Fredriksen, principal deputy assistant secretary in the Energy Department's Office of Policy and International Affairs, said taking less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the 85 million barrels of crude consumed per day around the world for the SPR does not affect consumer prices.

PDVSA Aims For $5.7B Investment In Former Exxon Venture

Venezuela plans an ambitious development program for Petromonagas, a heavy crude upgrader at the heart of the country's legal dispute with Exxon Mobil Corp.

Oil changes every 3,000 miles: not for everyone

Car manufacturers don't recommend such frequent changes for many vehicles -- and all that used oil is bad for the environment.

Waste not, want not

(Fortune Magazine) -- Sintex Industries, a plastics and textiles manufacturer in Gujarat, India, is betting it can find profit in human waste. Its new biogas digester turns human excrement, cow dung, or kitchen garbage into fuel that can be used for cooking or generating electricity, simultaneously addressing two of India's major needs: energy and sanitation.

ANALYSIS - Nuclear Industry Eyes Oversupplied US South

HOUSTON - Would-be developers of the next round of nuclear power plants who want to build reactors in eight Southern US states are ignoring a surplus of idle generation and the region's history of nuclear cost overruns.

Poonpirom wants to make Thailand world-class 'green energy' hub

Thailand is developing a master plan to build the country into the world's second largest green energy producer after Brazil. Energy Minister Poonpirom Liptapanlop said she wanted to see the country become a net exporter of green energy to tap strong global demand.

To achieve the goal, authorities plan to develop a 15-year Renewable Energy Development Plan to cover the full range of alternative energy businesses including gasohol, biodiesel, biomass, wind and solar power, she said yesterday.

Canada: Emerson hints oil would be back on table if U.S. reopens NAFTA

OTTAWA - Trade Minister David Emerson suggested the United States has a sweet deal over access to Canada's oil under the North American Free Trade Agreement, saying the two Democratic presidential candidates calling for renegotiations may not know just how good the U.S. has it under the deal.

..."Knowledgeable observers would have to take note of the fact that we are the largest supplier of energy to the U.S. and NAFTA has been the foundation for integrating the North American energy market. When people get below the rhetoric and pick away at the details, they are going to find it's not such a slam dunk proposition."

Indonesia blackouts may be sign of dark years ahead

JAKARTA, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Sudden blackouts on two key Indonesian islands last week may be just the start of a spiralling two-year power crisis that could stymie economic growth, curtail resource exports and trigger social unrest.

..."The situation in Indonesia is worse than anywhere else in Asia," says Joseph Jacobelli, head of Asia-Pacific utilities research at Merrill Lynch.

With Bolivian gas supplies uncertain, Argentina looking for energy

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina: Argentine officials, already facing an energy crisis, are scrambling to find new sources of natural gas and other energy following Bolivia's warning that it may not be able to provide all the supplies it had promised.

Mexico's Pemex posts $1.48 bln 2007 net loss

MEXICO CITY, Feb 27 (Reuters) - Mexican state-run oil monopoly Pemex reported a $1.48 billion net loss for 2007, as higher energy imports knocked it back into the red after it managed a rare annual profit in 2006.

Pemex, which is taxed heavily to provide more than a third of the government's fiscal income, said overall revenues inched up by 2.9 percent in 2007 to an all-time high of $104 billion, boosted by high global oil prices.

Fuel costs, lower demand to hit profits

AIRLINE profits are expected to come under increasing pressure in 2008, due to a slowdown in premium traffic demand and high fuel prices.

The sweet spot of industry profit growth is gone, following some superb earnings performances in the latter half of 2007.

France to send engineers to help in South Africa power crisis

Johannesburg - France will send a team of engineers to South Africa over the coming week to help it resolve a crippling energy crisis, South African President Thabo Mbeki and visiting French President Nicolas Sarkozy said in Cape Town Thursday. The announcement followed the signing of a 1.4-billion-euro deal between state electricity supplier Eskom and French company Alstom, which has been chosen to supply turbines for a new coal-fired power station in Mpumalanga province.

South Africa: Urgent meeting over mine jobs called

Government, the mining industry and trade unions are meeting over the potential shedding of thousands of jobs due to the country’s power restrictions.

According to Sapa, those attending the meeting are the Minister of Minerals and Energy, the Minister of Trade and Industry, the Chamber of Mines, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and state-owned power utility Eskom.

Upgrades helped contain Fla. blackout

MIAMI — The power outage that left 1.2 million Florida homes and businesses in the dark Tuesday could have been worse without emergency measures adopted after the disastrous Northeast blackout of 2003, a power industry official said.

Numerous systems failed during the blackout, which left two nuclear power plants closed and knocked out traffic lights in dozens of communities.

"It wasn't just one thing that went wrong," said Stanley Johnson, manager of Situation Awareness and Infrastructure Security for the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, which oversees the U.S. power grid system. "In a sense, it's like the Challenger (space shuttle that exploded in 1986)."

Declining Oil Supply Means War Is ‘Fairly Probable,’ Rep. Bartlett Says (with video)

Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.) said “that war is a fairly probable consequence” of peaking and declining world oil supplies. Bartlett spoke to Energy Policy TV about oil supplies as a guest on the EPTV News Roundtable series. Video of the full interview is available at no cost: Bartlett EPTV News Roundtable.

China is buying significant amounts of oil to fuel its economy and meet the needs of its people. But while China is bolstering its oil supply, its leaders are planning for a future without oil, Bartlett said.

China wants to foster international cooperation to deal with constrained oil supplies, Bartlett said. “They recognize that any one country, going it alone, is not going to be able to solve this problem. But while they plead for international cooperation, they wisely plan as if there won’t be any because they are out there buying oil everywhere they can. At the same time they are buying this oil, they are aggressively building a blue-water navy,” he said.

That navy is beyond anything the Chinese would need in a confrontation with Taiwan, Bartlett said. Rather, he said, they are anticipating a day when oil supplies are so constrained that they have to tell the rest of the world, “Gee, I’m sorry, guys, it’s our oil. We have a billion, three-hundred million people and we can no longer share it.”

Oil could reach $300, says expert

Matthew Simmons, chairman and founder of specialised energy investment banking firm, Simmons & Company International, said the current highs of $100 per barrel are "cheap".

"I think the supply is showing some very troubling signs that we might well have already peaked and started [to slow] down. If we haven't, we are very close to it," he told Arabian Business. "Demand on the other hand shows absolutely no sign of slowing down because we are now at $100 a barrel, which I still think is a preposterously cheap price. It works out at just $0.15 a cup.

"A cup of gas will get a car with six passengers in, with the air conditioning on and go two miles. It's a bargain," he added.

OPEC ministers say oil output will not increase, citing a weak global economy

VIENNA, Austria - OPEC decided Friday against pumping more oil in a rebuff to the United States and a possible prelude to cuts as early as next month should the wounded U.S. economy sap demand for crude.

The decision arrived despite U.S. urgings - backed by other major consumers - for more oil on the market to cool prices and relieve inflationary pressures that have contributed to fears of a global economic downturn.

Loss of wind causes Texas power grid emergency

HOUSTON (Reuters) - A drop in wind generation late on Tuesday, coupled with colder weather, triggered an electric emergency that caused the Texas grid operator to cut service to some large customers, the grid agency said on Wednesday.

Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) said a decline in wind energy production in west Texas occurred at the same time evening electric demand was building as colder temperatures moved into the state.

House OKs new taxes on big oil companies

WASHINGTON - The House approved $18 billion in new taxes on the largest oil companies Wednesday as Democrats cited record oil prices and rising gasoline costs in a time of economic troubles.

The money collected over 10 years would provide tax breaks for wind, solar and other alternative energy sources and for energy conservation. The legislation, approved 236-182, would cost the five largest oil companies an average of $1.8 billion a year over that period, according an analysis by the House Ways and Means Committee. Those companies earned $123 billion last year.

Nigeria's Brass River oil output cut by attack

(Reuters) - Oil output at Nigeria's Brass River crude oil stream has been reduced because of a militant attack on Feb. 24, oil traders said on Thursday.

No Nigeria Brass oil attack, operator Eni says

MILAN/LAGOS, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Italian energy firm Eni denied on Thursday that its Nigerian Brass River crude oil stream had been attacked by militants.

"We are not aware of any attack and there has only been a minor stop in production due to technical problems at one minor flow station at Brass. Production is nearly normal," an Eni spokeswoman told Reuters.

Connecticut to hear testimony on establishment of a energy scarcity taskforce


Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. (Effective from passage) (a) There is established a task force to study energy scarcity and sustainability. The task force shall conduct scenario planning for long-term petroleum and natural gas scarcity, steep price increases and supply disruptions. Such study shall include, but not be limited to, examining price and scarcity impacts of natural gas and petroleum on the economy, food supply, transportation, education, health and emergency response.

The public is invited to testify.

UAE rejects advice to de-peg from dollar

DUBAI - The United Arab Emirates will not de-peg its currency from the flagging US dollar, the central bank governor was quoted as saying in remarks published on Thursday. His comments came after former US Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan advised oil-rich Gulf Arab states whose currencies are pegged to the dollar to float their currencies as a means to curb inflation.

“The dollar is on its way to strengthening, and it is not logical to speak now of de-pegging the dirham from the dollar,” Sultan bin Nasser Al Suwaidi told the Abu Dhabi-based daily Al-Ittihad.

China welcomes president of oil-rich Nigeria

BEIJING: President Hu Jintao of China, which is increasingly looking to Africa for natural resources to feed its booming economy, gave a warm welcome Thursday to the president of oil-rich Nigeria.

South Korea to Increase Imports of Saudi Crude

South Korea's top refiner has decided to crank up its imports of Saudi crude by 50 percent starting in April. SK Energy plans to import a total of 135,000 barrels per day, or 49.27 million barrels per year, from state-run Saudi Aramco, up 47,000 barrels per day from the current 88,000.

SK Energy has had difficulty in securing a sufficient oil supply since Iraq suspended all crude exports to South Korea in protest of an exploration deal between Korean companies, including SK, and the Kurdish regional government.

Israel renews talks with Gazprom

Sources inform "Globes" that senior officials at the Ministry of National Infrastructures, including director general Hezi Kugler, left for Russia this week, apparently in order to meet representatives of Russian energy giant Gazprom. It is believed the aim of the meeting is to make progress on an agreement for the supply of natural gas from Russia to Israel, following the talks the governments of the two countries held on the deal last year.

Aramco’s $90 billion five-year plan

"We also need the whole world to arrive at greater clarity as to what it wants and realistically can achieve in terms of a future energy mix; to achieve a greater consensus among producers and consumers about the roles and responsibilities of each in terms of realizing that mix; and finally, to enhance the security of both supply and of demand over the long term," said Jum‘ah.

"With time, we will need to draw upon a variety of energy sources, including alternatives, to help meet demand," he said, pointing out that expert forecasts indicate fossil fuels will continue to dominate global energy supplies for the foreseeable future. In fact, the share of fossil fuels is predicted to remain above 80% through the year 2030.

The shape of lights to come? Not everyone's buying it

But now that more people are using CFLs, the bulbs' shortcomings are giving some consumers pause. Consumers are raising concerns about the quality of light from such bulbs and say they often don't work well with dimmer switches, in certain light fixtures or in hot or cold conditions.

And although fluorescent bulbs are less expensive to use in the long run, some consumers are turned off by the cost: $3 to $10, compared with about 50 cents for regular bulbs. Meanwhile, retailers such as IKEA are setting up recycling programs in response to concerns about how to dispose of CFLs, which contain mercury and could pose a health hazard if they break and are not cleaned up properly.

Such drawbacks help explain why, even though one in five bulbs sold in the USA is now a compact fluorescent, a lower percentage of American homes — estimates run as low as 11% — have at least one of the bulbs.

The $2.5 Billion Question

In appearance at least, it's a case for the ages. The grounding of the Valdez, allegedly caused by an intoxicated captain, was one of the major environmental disasters of the last few decades. It pits America's largest company and most influential industry groups against the state of Alaska, several of the state's most prominent politicians (including Republican Sens. Ted Stevens and Lisa Murkowski) and environmental groups.

Ghana: Crude Oil - Blessing Or Curse?

We have every right to celebrate the news of the oil discovery in the country particularly when the nation had just wallowed in the darkness of energy crisis for nearly a year. Moreover, with crude oil prices reaching record high, we ought to rejoice as the great book says 'again, I say rejoice'.

However, whilst rejoicing on the discovery of the oil we should not allow our heart to override our head in this matter. Crude oil is not the solution to our problem. It is like the bitter bile on the liver. One ought to be careful when attempting to take the liver as it might result in bursting the bitter bile.

Transit-Oriented Development - By the Numbers

The compact, walkable neighborhood built around public transit rather than the private car has long been one of the ideals of new urbanism. Now significant new research confirms with hard numbers the advantage of transit-oriented development over conventional suburbia. With the United States in the midst of a light-rail building boom, it’s a great time to be finding this out.

Summit reveals Abu Dhabi as world leader in race for future energy solutions

The first World Future Energy Summit, which took place in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) last month, has firmly established this small Gulf emirate as a world leader in the increasingly urgent race to find innovative solutions to the coming energy crisis.

Renewable Energy: Approaching Grid Parity?

So to summarize: We need more energy. Oil is more expensive and harder to get. Yet renewables are not competitive, even with the rising prices of fossil fuels.

What is this guy smoking?

Radiant Future: Our suburban lifestyle is doomed by the energy crisis

In the docudrama Radiant City, written and directed by Gary Burns and Jim Brown and just out on DVD, one scene captures the mess made by our "way of life." Author and critic James Howard Kunstler is standing on an asphalt path for bikes and jogging; the path is affixed to a brand new subdivision that resembles a moonscape with houses. Traffic whizzes by Kunstler on either side of a fence, barely five feet away. As the wind from the SUVs blows his necktie to and fro, Kunstler tries to explain why this pathetic little amenity — slapped onto the landscape by some designer in an office cubicle hundreds of miles away — is an "assault on your neurology" with the "ambiance of a prison."

G8, EU make progress in climate commitments: study

OTTAWA (AFP) - The Group of Eight industrialized nations and the European Union have made greater strides this past year than previously in meeting their commitments to stem global warming, said a report Wednesday.

"This year, compliance has increased noticeably across climate-related commitments," said the G8 Research Group's annual compliance report.

U.S. Remains Cool to Warming Pact

Read quickly, the latest White House statement on climate change may have sounded like news - good news. On Monday, Daniel Price, the Deputy National Security Adviser for International Economic Affairs, told reporters in Paris that the U.S. would be willing to accept mandatory international limits on greenhouse gas emissions. Coming from an Administration that has steadfastly resisted mandatory caps, withdrawn from the Kyoto Protocol and effectively derailed any serious global effort to slow climate change, this could have been a big deal. But as is so often the case with the Bush Administration's environmental policies, the devil is in the details.

The Reuters article "Loss of wind causes Texas power grid emergency" has a very misleading headline, since the article itself indicates that loss of wind was only a minor cause of the emergency.

From the article:

wind production fell from more than 1,700 megawatts, before the event, to 300 MW when the emergency was declared...

At the time of the emergency, ERCOT demand increased from 31,200 MW to a peak of 35,612 MW, about half the total generating capacity in the region,

1. Supply decreased by 1400 MW. Demand increased 4412 MW. So (Supply - Demand) incrased by 4812. 24% of this was due to loss of wind, and 76% was due to increase in demand. So it would have been much more accurate to title the article "increase in demand led to power emergency."

2. The total demand was half the generating capacity in the region. I understand that the wind can't just be switched back on. But why couldn't the coal plants and natural gas plants be turned back on at a moment's notice? Isn't this supposed to be their strength? I suspect there are extra causes of the emergency lurking here.

The point of the piece is that the wind power dropped just when it was most needed.

EON who run a lot of the gird in Germany has been saying for years that keeping the grid running with a high wind input is tricky, and if you plan on the right back up, expensive too.

Your understanding of how the grid works is faulty - nuclear plants are used for baseload, ie they run all the time, as the marginal price of power from them is low.

This can cause additional problems when combined with wind power, as when the wind blows, which it doesn't all the time you obviously need to use it.

Coal and gas plants too can't be switched on at the drop of a hat, unless they are already turning over, in which case they are burning some fuel and form part of what they call the spinning capacity, which can be switched on very quickly but runs at reduced efficiency for the first half hour or so.

IOW you need fairly substantial back-up if you are using wind power, and keeping that ready to fire up costs a lot of fuel.

My point was that one cause-- loss of wind-- was being singled out for blame for an emergency that clearly had multiple causes.

The biggest cause was the sudden unexpected spike in demand due to colder temperatures moving into the state. From the numbers in the article, it seems that *if wind hadn't dropped*, this alone would have caused a stage 1 emergency. Why was this the temperature drop and power spike unexpected? Large changes in temp can typically be predicted hours, even days in advance.

The article also says "multiple power suppliers fell below the amount of power they were scheduled to produce on Tuesday." Details, please, Reuters! How did the magnitude of these shortfalls compare to the magnitude of the wind shortfall? How many suppliers fell short? Why? What was their power source?

Given that a large spike in power was (or should have been) expected, and that multiple (non-wind) power suppliers were falling short, why wasn't standby backup increased, even at the cost of wasting fuel? When you have some problems, and more are on the way, that's the time to increase your safety margin.

And why wasn't the wind shortfall predicted? I'm no meteorologist, but it would seem to me that a large decrease in wind over a large area (i.e., movement of fronts) should be predictable on the timescale of hours.

So I think that the bottom line is that yes, a wind shortfall did cause problems. But the emergency happened because a lot of things went wrong; the drop in the wind was only a (relatively minor) cause.

I don't seek to write wind off on the basis of one outage, but the problems are rather tougher than for some other sources.

Fossil fuel or nuclear can usually be just scheduled for maintenance, and taken off line at a time known way in advance, although of course you can have the occasional breakdown, but wind is by it's nature variable, so is tougher to balance all the time, and the back up needed for any given level of security of supply would tend to be higher, although by no means one for one.

German and Danish infrastructure is 'probably' usually run at higher safety margins than is common in America, just like the highways, so a higher penetration of wind may be easier than in most places in the states.

With the typical low-levels of infrastructure investment in the States it seems likely that there could be more frequent problems where wind increases it's share of generation much.

My original comment had been concerned with bias in the Reuters article, not the broader issue of suitability of wind. But the latter is interesting to talk about.

Your post perpetuates a common myth: "Fossil fuel or nuclear can usually be just scheduled for maintenance, and taken off line at a time known way in advance, although of course you can have the occasional breakdown"

Unscheduled maintenance is just a serious problem for fossil (at least coal). According to this study

because coal plants were shut down for scheduled maintenance 6.5% of the year and unscheduled maintenance or forced outage for another 6% of the year on average in the United States from 2000 to 2004, coal energy from a given plant is guaranteed only 87.5% of the year, with a typical range of 79%–92% (North American Electric Reliability Council 2005; Giebel 2000)

I don't know the comparable figures for nuclear, but remember that when nuclear unexpectedly goes down, a lot goes down all at once. Witness the power outages in florida earlier this week, and similar unscheduled shutdowns in Spain and Japan last year.

As the study cited above notes, simply by linking geographically diverse wind turbines, one can achieve a "baseload supply" (i.e., availability comparable to coal) of one third of nameplate wind capacity. Again, that's without any form of storage.

You are right that infrastructure investments are necessary. But investments are necessary to build the wind turbines in the first place. Think of the extra infrastructure as part of the cost.

As I always say ... 'watch and learn' - as we inevitably move to more and more alternatives to FF expect instability and intermittent power, grids are complex machines - this is how many parts of the world have to work already, individuals in those countries plan so as to mitigate it's effects ... you can too!

I don't want to come across as some sort of anti-wind loon - I try to judge every suggestion on it's own merits.
In fact, for the UK at least, variability may be less of a problem than is currently realised:

However, that does not mean that the variability, both over the short-term and the rather longer term will not cause any problems, and particularly in the US with it's history of minimal investment in infrastructure that may cause problems.

It is up to you to make your own judgement, but it seems to me that a high level of penetration of wind power in the States might cause more problems than a similar level in Europe.

With wind having a rather high EROI already, has anyone done an HONEST feasibility study on what the costs and options for storage might be? Pressurized air wind energy storage? Heat?

Given wind's strong advantages in other areas I don't think it would be all too difficult to mitigate the intermittency issue with a little planning and forethought.

With these renewables it just looks like we're going have to build some storage capacity. I don't necessarily see that as a bad thing. Just part of the solution.

I favor pumped hydro as cost effective. People will say that you have to have the land for it and not everyone has the vertical rise. Even in the flat lands of Texas, there could be enough of a plateau for this. It is pretty efficient and can provide water storage for crops and homes.

There was a recent study in Scientific American which sought to show that it would be possible to generate all the power for the US using solar energy, and transmitting it as needed from the South-West to other areas.

Amongst other issues discovered was the proposed storage mechanism to make up for overnight capacity.

They wanted to use compressed air.

The problem is with that is when you come to use it you have to re-heat it, and they were going to use natural gas for the purpose.

The burn would have been huge, if my memory is correct much larger than current gas use.

Other storage proposals run into similar problems.

It boils down to that unless you are very lucky and have access to hydroelectric capacity, as Denmark does from Scandanavia, then effectively you have to have large amounts of FF capacity to back-up, and that a proportion of it will be spinning capacity, ie fired up but idling, and burning fuel in the process.
When it is brought into action it is then much less efficient for the first half hour or so.

You might also perhaps build vast polders in the ocean or great lakes, and pump water in them, but the costs would be added to the already large costs of windpower, and so are pretty impractical for the foreseeable future.

Recent costs for the UK's proposed 33GW nameplate off-shore wind build were given as £66bn - and you only get around 10-11GW of power per hour from that on average, so it works out at around £6.6bn GW - hugely expensive without building fancy storage, and at least twice the price of a nuclear build.

You can reduce that of course if you have somewhere to put the turbines on land with good wind resources, as is the case in many areas of the States, but it is still pricey before you start building huge amounts of storage.

T Boone Pickens is currently building the biggest wind farm in the world in Texas, 4GW nameplate for $10bn.

The problem is of course that the actual energy flow on average per hour on a generous figure of 35% average capacity is only around 1.4GW.

Let's round that up for convenience and to be very fair and call it 1.5GW.

That is $6.6bn GW - about half the cost of off-shore but still dear and around the price of a nuclear build which would not suffer from the same need for storage at high rates of penetration.

So the wind option can be useful, particularly where it tracks well with peak use, but is a very long way indeed from being able to power most of the grid at any reasonable cost.

There are two concepts intermingled here. First is capacity factor. That is just the total electrical production over a year divided by the nameplate rating x the hours in the year. The US nuclear fleet is hitting over 90% regularly. The initial design economic assumptions for these large nukes was 70% or 80% so they are doing really well.

The second is forced outage rate. That's when unplanned shutdowns occur. It used to be that a nuke would scram once or twice a year. Scrams seldom happen anymore. Most US nukes startup and run 18 months without hiccup or trip at 100% capacity.

They do have to be shutdown once in a while to remove old fuel and add fresh. Most plants do this over an 18 month fuel cycle. Refueling takes from 12 to 30 days depending on other work underway and the specific plant design features. New nukes are supposed to do 17 days with all required maintenance.

Coal plants have the capacity factor mentioned above but since they are fueled continuously, they don't need to be suhtdown for refueling. Hence, almost all of their downtime (but not all) is due to forced outages. Typically a boiler tube will blow or a burner with clog up, stuff like that.

We nukes call coal plants "dirt burners."

Your cited claim that wind power can claim 33% capacity is incorrect and is academic wishful thinking. In Texas, for example, ERCOT only allows 8% credit and that's generous.

Chapterwon and Dave;
I agree that the emphasis was unnecessarily harsh on windpower, which we know will be a variable supply. My contention is that a great portion of the fault lies with our system being built on the 'Assumption of Steady, Continuous Energy' Petroleum has fed us this myth for decades, and we are looking to all the other sources to back up that promise.

Petroleum and Gas will prove their intermittency soon enough, and in the rearview mirror of history it will look like One On, and then One Off.. Solar and Wind go away, but they keep coming back. Nuclear looks sort of steady from this 5 decade window at the height of Petroleum's abundance, but I am very skeptical that it can survive in a world without such a meaty petroleum backup supply. I've said it before.. I think Nuclear DEMANDS as much of a 'Baseload' of energy around it as it seems to offer.

The core problem is that we need to feed our towns, homes and businesses like anything else in the natural world eats.. you have to store energy and be able to ride out periods of scarcity. Life doesn't operate on this 'baseload' fantasy, we've just been able to mimic that euclidean ideal concept for a little while since we found that motherlode. It has been a fun little mask that we wore to pretend that we aren't children of 'Mother Nature'.. she has never even been that far away, we just acted like we were Astronauts for a spell.

Bob Fiske

Well said sir. And at 90 billion per major plant nuclear does seem to be a very intense form of energy. I'm not completely adverse to nuclear the way some are, though. I could be wrong. But as for wind and solar, I'm in complete agreement. We need to build the storage.

DaveMart -

It is becoming increasingly apparent that the more that wind power increases as a percentage of the total power fed to a particular grid, the more we are going have serious problems with maintaining a stable power supply, such as the recent event in Texas.

Gas turbine back-up held in a constant state of standby is a solution, albeit an expensive one, both in capital investment and operating cost.

A more elegant solution would be some sort of a system of 'super capacitors' that could store something like an hour's worth of maximum wind farm output and then almost instantaneously begin releasing that power in the event of a sudden drop in wind power. This concept could be further refined to also include a bank of empty capacitors designed to take an hour's worth of excess wind power during short periods when too much wind power is being generated. The stored electricity could then be released back into the grid slowly as needed. Of course, large capacitors are very expensive, and more development work would be needed to achieve large inexpensive capacitors. While large batteries would also work, they wouldn't quite have the quick response of a capacitor, particularly during the charging part of the cycle.

So, essentially what is needed to make wind power more user friendly is an energy 'flywheel' to help smooth out the peaks and valleys. (In fact, actual mechanical flywheels have at various times been investigated for energy storage, and like everything else, they have their own set of pros and cons.) But as things stand right now, it appears that once wind power becomes even a rather small fraction of a grid's total power input, serious stability problems develop.

Can anyone comment on the status of Flywheel Storage at this point?

I keep wondering if the limitation is that we try to load them up to max capacity, introducing bearing, centrifugal stress and stability issues, if it isn't reasonable to 'Undercrank' them, and run more of them instead.. ?

Seems like a very simple and mass-producible storage system.. but I don't know what their Achilles' Heel is currently.


jokuhl -

There was a great deal of work done on flywheel energy storage in the 1970s and early 1980s, however I haven't heard of all that much work being done on this subject since that general time frame. There are a number of companies that make flywheels for energy storage, but these appear to be for much smaller applications than large power generating systems.

The modern energy storage flywheel typically runs at very high speeds, has a carbon fiber rotor, is enclosed in a vacuum chamber to elminate air drag, and has special high-tech bearings. The high speed is essential, as the amount of energy stored is proportional to the square of the rotational speed. These can be scaled up in size, but only to a certain point, and then some serious design constraints come into play. Thus, if you were to attempt flywheel storage for a large wind farm, you would probably need several times the number of flywheels as you have turbines, and that could get pretty expensive. But honestly, I no longer have a feel for what the current economics are.

Maybe for really large applications, a larger but lower-tech flywheel (as you suggested) might have some merit. Still, it's going to take a huge spinning mass to store even a few minutes worth of the energy produced by a single large wind turbine.

Beacon Power specifically designs large flywheel systems for grid load management. http://www.beaconpower.com/products/EnergyStorageSystems/flywheels.htm

It appears they are just in the stages of testing these technologies in real life.

I don't know what their Achilles' Heel is currently

As with any dense way of storing energy the problem is the failure mode!

Gas typically explodes, a serious failure mode - you don't want to be sitting in a house which has a gas leak when somebody switches on a light switch that makes a spark!

Gasoline typically burns fiercely - so is somewhat safer than gas.

Flywheels tend to leave the building in a marked manner! - massive armour plating is required, also they're not really suitable for a mobile application eg: aircraft with powerful rotating engine components can do strange/frightening things when close to the ground.

However flywheels are good for storing large amounts of power required at very short notice - they are often used in particle accelerators such as at CERN.

snip; The PS's rotating machine comprises a motor coupled to a generator. The generator's rotor acts like a flywheel, supplying high-power pulses of 40 to 50 megawatts to the PS magnets. The 6 megawatt motor drives the installation at 1000 revolutions per minute and compensates only for variations in speed. /snip http://bulletin.cern.ch/eng/articles.php?bullno=23/2006&base=art

I don't see short duration fluctuations as being a major problem for wind power.

We already have batteries available which serve for this sort of purpose, although one utility got caught out recently when their supplier ceased trading, so it was left with several million dollars worth of batteries which had proved unreliable.

Ultracapacitors perhaps in conjunction with a battery would also help.

All this adds to the already high costs of wind though.

One should remember that energy storage will always lever cost and reliability differences in inputs. That means that it is imperative to use the lowest cost, most reliable electrical inputs to energy storage. Use of expensive power inputs will result in disporportionaltely higher output costs.

Remember, that any storage is less than perfect. More goes in than comes out. The overhead capital and O&M cost of the storage facility means that the input source must be reliable too. There are only certain times when charging is feasible and if the source is not available, then the cost per unit output goes up as the overhead is spread over a smaller number of output units.

That means that nuclear or coal are the better sources for storage since they are 1) cheaper, and 2) more reliable. Solar and wind would just make more expensive stored energy.

Storage works AGAINST renewables, not for them.

Obviously, some sort of buffering is needed. Wind has worked great for pumping water up into a tank. Make the tank big enough, and no wind for a little while doesn't matter. Various suggestions have been made for pumped storage schemes or to use wind power for hydrogen electrolysis; one or the other of these will have to be incorporated for wind to work on a long-term basis.

Actually, simple cycle CTs can be "turned on" at a drop of a hat, but they are about the only thing that can, particularly the aero-derivative units.

They cannot, however, be turned on and put into "pre-mix" operation. It takes time to heat the cans, stabilize, and to switch over to from diffusion to pre-mix mode. The newest units I've worked with have the ability to have generator turning as a motor (already synchronized) and the turbine "clutched" and not "spinning" until the start-cycle is initiated. But they still can only be started in diffusion flame mode with lots of NOx and lots of excess air to keep from melting components in the expansion section.

You are correct that standard fossil fuel-fired units cannot be started immediately and really even the ones that are operating at less than full power have maybe an immediate 5-10 MW "all call" added capacity with the remaining available capacity reserve capacity governed by the refractory heating rates and how fast you can increase the heat transfer through the various sections of the boiler. Other than their inherent efficiency advantage (and the fun of starting them up), I'm not aware of any particular advantage that a supercritical unit would have a subcritical one or visa versa.

As for nuclear units...slow to respond and there are also grid balance issues associated with their operation (in addition to NRC requirements associated around the loading of these units relative to the grid). The sort of situation desribed above makes balancing just a real joy (I note that my tongue is firmly planted in cheek).

I agree with you. It isn't as easy as it seems (or as simple as turning on a switch).

Let me give you some hard numbers on gas turbine startup times. For a distillate fueled aeroderiviative, a 9 MWe unit needs 2 minutes. A 25 MW unit needs about 10 minutes. Now this is for emergency duty so proper operations would take it slower.

Nukes can load follow. The last one I helped build could swing from 25% to 100% back to 25% over about an hour, on autopilot and that's with all control rods out. The economics of large capital cost, low fuel cost generation encourages one to run them flat out all the time but one can only put as much power into a grid as the customers want to take out (barring storage.)

To bring a large coal or nuclear unit online from cold shutdown takes 12 to 24 hours or more (more if you can to avoid metal fatigue issues.)

The ongoing preparations for war with economic competitors should give pause to any who think they will go quietly into the night of energy starvation.As we are the greatest per capita used of petro-products...they get more "bang for their buck"by going nose to nose w/the usa.With the falling dollar,the systemic poisoning of the worlds financial system by US based sharpshooters,and the current crop of .gov type leaders whose only concern is how much they can loot out of the system as the collapse occurs,does not bode well for the average citizen

And the obvious question is, "what does the average citizen do when faced with a collapsing economy and a criminal government?" Especially when the government has all the power? Retreat into the hills? Die? Scream? Write to TOD?

I vote for Write to TOD.

Get to know your neighbors real well. You may need to rely on them more than you used to.

Vote for the candidates who have renewable energy platforms. Call your Congressman/woman, city and state reps and give 'em hell. Organize small groups of concerned citizens to raise awareness of the issues surrounding Peak Oil/fossil fuels. Link with other small groups and organize further.

It's what the big lobbying firms are paid a lot of money to do. The benefit is that, since we're citizens we don't have to pay a dime. Just pick up the goddamn phone, take some time to educate your friends and family, and build little communities with a will to be heard.

We have the government we deserve. We are not anywhere near as powerless as people these days like to think. In all, you are responsible for your government -- not the other way around.

Hiding in a hole is not going to solve this problem...

Hey, I just had a little brainstorm. I know, rare, right? Why doesn't The Oil Drum start a little online get out the vote campaign? If there is energy legislation up for vote, you can post an article on the legislation, educate on how well or poorly it addresses Peak Oil related issues and then provide a list of reps/phone numbers so we can call them and voice our concerns.


I think that is a great idea. Speaking personally, I am a long-time lurker, I have checked TOD twice a day for 1.5 years (+?) but this is only my second comment. And I'm sure I'm not the only one that reads, agrees, and wants to act, but feels frustrated by the immensity of the problem and lack of knowledge of how to start addressing it other than making my own preparations. I would be very much interested in knowing what legislation was out there. I would also be interested in being on a TOD mailing list, if someone were to create one...(hint) Especially a mailing list with geographical considerations - I would love to connect with likeminded folks in my area and learn about peak oil events in the Los Angeles area. And I'm great at carrying signs...

I think if you were able to corral all the lurkers, you might be impressed at the strength and size of the TOD community. And perhaps the progress we could make?


1. head overseas
2. organize, form a new community in a carefully selected place with likely minded people.

Just like the Jews of Europe did in the early decades of the 20th Century.

1. head overseas [Palestine]
2. organize, form a new community in a carefully selected place with like minded people [Kibbutz]

Modern Israel owes its existence to collapsing economies and hostile governments. The Zionists lit the way.

I can see the headlines now. TODers to launch safe haven.

The question is where? Bhutan?

At least its King operates on the principle of Gross National Happiness.

May not be as flakey as first imagined. As intelligent and realistic as anything our leaders have come up with lately.

Sounds good.

Must have coastline with good surf.

Sorry, got2surf. Not much of a coastline in Bhutan.

Just trade in your surf board for a snow board. Coast atop a different kind of water thrill.

The question is where?

how about Patagonia?

How about Pittsburgh?

why Pittsburgh?

1. The city is desperately trying to get rid of inner city land parcels for ridiculously low prices. Check out their "buy a sideyard" program for $400... get a few of those and you have a farm in the middle of the city. And there are plenty of lots available for all the TODers to have city farms if we jumped on the same wagon. Plus plenty of brick houses built back when a house could stand for a hundred years, all at low foreclosure prices.
2. Pittsburgh is still connected to active railroad lines, has water transportation access, and hasn't experienced the boom in suburbs that the rest of the country has, making the decline less painful because they've already suffered through a lot of it and have shrunk their infrastructure accordingly.
3. There's still coal in them thar hills, and lots of manufacturing in the area.
4. Due to the shrinkage of Pittsburgh since the seventies, and the lack of suburban growth, there's tons of cropland available only a short distance from the city, unmarred by McMansions. And did I mention the railroad? Railroads are great for getting those crops to the city.

The reasons Pittsburgh was a great place to be 100 years ago are the same reasons it might be good today. And the worst part of the 20th century passed it by relatively unscathed.

I am seriously considering making Pittsburgh my post-peak home, and after a year or more of research, I have yet to see anything to truly put me off of it. Yes, Pittsburgh has crime, but less than other comparably sized cities. Crime is going to explode in ALL cities post-peak, but Pittsburgh seems to have a strong history of neighbors protecting neighbors which could work in its favor.

All cities are going to suffer, but Pittsburgh appears to me to be poised to suffer less than most. I'd love to hear anyone's thoughts on this.

Sounds like if you want to move, you'd better be quick with suburban prices falling and urban prices rising.

One thing you might want to factor in is how good wind resources are in that area - that could help to keep you in power.

Areas around the Great Lakes might be worth a look for that reason.

Good luck whatever you decide!

if a general collapse is expected, should one try to stay close to or away from a population center that's largely unprepared?

many farm surrounded small towns in the rust belt still have rail service. pasture and tillable land are not very expensive. wouldn't these be better choices?

Hi junebuglet,

Pittsburgh is an awesome city and in 2007 was once again rated as America's "most livable" city. Shadyside, in particular, is a real gem.

See: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07116/781162-53.stm



I think that is a really good idea.

I have a place in an older part of a small city. It is a largish lot of a quarter acre but I add on to that with an alley on one side and some city property on the other. The city side includes a small river (or large creek) giving me about a half acre with enough arable area to supply nearly all the fruit and vegetables, year round, for wife and self. I have had a ten acre farm but because of this properties in-town advantages and my disinclination to be a full time farmer, I value this property more.

Your idea of joining properties especially in older sections of a city , places that at one time would have had gardens and fruit trees seems a lot more feasible, for many, than running out to the country to try a hand at farming. ( Could you explain what you mean by sideyard, ...maybe a backyard? At 400 dollars, whatever it is, it sounds rather great!)

Incidently I am a painter, which is often almost as good as being unemployed, so for a lot of the time gardening in the city was a near necessity, something that could be done in spare moments. From my experiences over the years your idea, I feel, is very feasible.

BTW A few months ago I took a look at a city via Goggle Earth and had similar thoughts to those you have about Pittsburgh and that city was Detroit! Heh!

The reasons Pittsburgh was a great place to be 100 years ago are the same reasons it might be good today.

I think you're quite right. People settled in the best places first. Water, good soil, resources, transportation that doesn't depend on oil.

New settlements are built around the car. They are often in less desirable areas. And the topsoil was scraped off before building. That wasn't done in the older cities.

That's the theory behind the Ecohood.

was Pittsburgh ever a prime farming area? have the pollutants left in the soil and water from the heydays of coal and steel industry all disappeared?

Hey anyone you know nuts enough want to farm downwind of Hanford? Oh yooou say it's prime farming land!? I guess that's why I can read at night by the light of my my Walla walla onions! Golly what will we think of next and ain't science wunnerful Krazy cat? Pass me anuther brick willya Officer pup.

1. head overseas
2. organize, form a new community in a carefully selected place with likely minded people.

Not an entirely crazy notion. Consider it... and email me!

Yes, about a decade ago I emigrated from the States----very glad I did too. I hate cars and driving and love the trains everywhere here. We don't need a car. and the infrastructure for bicycles is everywhere, so bikes are safe. I would NEVER even consider moving back to the States. The fewer cars per capita here also makes it feel less "car-ish" and more civilized....

Where is "here"? Just curious...

Japan. OK it uses A LOT of oil. and there are still a HUGE # of cars, particularly icky in the such a small space. (And the economy is shriveling up here too as high oil prices make it harder for people to buy things.) But compared to my experiences in the USA, it's better. (marginally.) but better. The govt here seems to support the notion (by providing necessary alternative infrastructure) that people SHOULD basically not have to buy a car of they don't want to or can't drive. All students from age 7 walk or bike to school (in groups, often with chaperoning from teachers/ parents for the younger ones). So the gov. tries to help them do that safely. And everyone benefits.

Funny that. I'm in the process of relocated out of Japan back to the US.

overseas? you mean, like, here in europe?

.. and then what? you'll still need to bring
a huge stash of dried foods, a bunch of steel farm implements, many packs of plant seeds suitable for the climate/soil, suitable clothing, and some form of fungible wealth to exchange for arable land with someone dumb or desperate enough to sell it.

If you're a global-warming sceptic you could go for low-lying dutch farmland or farms in south france, spain or italy, where the summers just keep getting hotter.

Oh and medcines, surgical equipment, horse tack, woodworking tools, windmill, water-butt, compost heap, etc etc etc.

You'll need a shipping-container or two...

First time I've heard of a $12B project for a maglev from Vegas to Disneyland... I'm sure Kunstler would have a fair comment or two on this project.

"Maglev, diesel-electric trains vie for support in US desert"

I don't what causes this obsession with maglevs. I'd be satisfied with a workable system of conventional electric or diesel trains in the USA. I'd even be glad to see the return of 19th century steam locomotives. Anything would be better than the pathetic excuse for a "railway system" that the USA has now.

It's amazing that in the 19th century, the USA had the world's best train system. In the 20th and 21st, we look to Bolivia and Bangladesh with envy.

I am guessing that the fascination with maglev is just a bit of residual technophilia that people need to get out of their systems.

I would really hate to see steam locomotives return in any meaningful way. From a thermodynamic point of view they were very inefficient, and they tended to require lots of maintenance to keep running properly.

It seems to me that it might be good to levitate the train on a cushion of air and propel it with magnetic force. Maybe I am missing something, but to levitate something that heavy takes a lot of energy.

The answer is, Time. Americans don't want to take any longer to get somewhere than an airliner can, but with the delays in air travel and traffic to and from the terminal, it sounds reasonable that a train going only 300 mph can do the job of a plane doing 400 mph.

The next question is, why are we so pressed for time? Which gets into many of the other questions of the pathologies of the consumer society discussed in the Drumbeat.


I think you hit on something there. TIME.

I saw a science program one time that did an experiment where they walked up to people on the street with an old fashioned dial phone.
They asked people to tell them when they started to get aggravated with how long it was taking to dial the number.

They found after someone experienced a push button phone, they could only stand just a couple numbers being dialed on a rotary dialer before getting aggravated.

Once we experience a shorter time for a given activity, it is hard to go back.

Amtrak used to run a conventional train from Las Vegas to Los Angeles. It was great. About the same amount of time as to drive and I'd arrive in Anaheim much more relaxed than on the bumper to bumper I-15 drive.

The inability of wind turbines is starting to show more with that Texas example.

From http://www.ieso.ca/ on Ontario's mix, note wind's pathetic contribution.

Source MW %
nuke 8819 41%
hydro 5600 25.92%
coal 4082 18.90%
other 3059 14.16%
wind 42 0.19%
Total 21602

If Ontario's goal of 15% output is to be from wind to replace coal at 3240.3Mw then we would require an additional 77.18 TIMES more turbines than we have now. That means we would need at least 15,000 wind turbines.

For another view of what is going on with wind generation visit http://www.wind-watch.org

I think you meant "For another source of misinformation on wind generation visit http://www.wind-watch.org"

How about comparing the magnitude of the recent incident in Texas with the recent incident in Florida? Gee, I guess that would not support the anti-wind theory.

How is it that every time I post a contrary view of things that it is "misinformation"? The great "Misinformation" is the propents of wind giving the name plate as the output that they WILL get all the time.

"Ontario farmers and farmer-owned co-operatives could install 8,000 MW of wind turbines by 2012, providing 10 per cent of Ontario's electrical supply ­ if given the opportunity. Ambitious? Yes, but not unreasonable. "

"North America may soon witness 140 massive wind turbines down the Lake Ontario. Trillium Power Energy Corp., a Toronto company plans this $1 billion alternative energy firm and is awaiting government approvals to make the move.

Once approved, the 710-megawatt project will be able to provide enough electricity to power more than 200,000 homes! The project is named Trillium Power Wind 1. "

Now that's gross misinformation!!

I'm generally pro-wind myself, but yes, the intermittent nature of wind is a major issue. Without some kind of storage infrastructure or other backup system, anyone relying on wind exclusively may have to get used to periodic blackouts or brownouts.

I envision a future where I'm going to install solar on my roof, with battery backup. Ideally, I'd like to live next to a stream that I could tap for low-head hydro. And lots of candles, just in case.

Given virtually every home I've ever lived in has had both gas and electric, as well as trees or shades or curtains, insulation, etc.... how is that any different than building in redundancy with wind + solar + passive solar design, etc?

I don't see the point of any discussions that go towards this or that. I will proclaim here and now that the solutions will be varied, multiple, localized and integrated.... etc.

We'd do a lot better at this stuff if we shifted the conversation to which solutions fit in which areas and within the means of the local structure and individual situations. Heck, why wouldn't small windmills stuck to the sides of people's apartment buildings be part of a solution in Chicago, the Windy City, for example?


ccpo, your comment reflects my thinking. Even here on TOD, where the discussion tends to be on a somewhat higher plane that in many other forums, there are frequent pissing contests around which is the best energy source. But there is no single energy source that will do the job or be right for every location and application.

I've been working since 2000 to cut my fossil fuel energy consumption at home, but I haven't cut out a single source and have, in fact, added a few. I use solar PV and wind for electricity feeding into batteries, but I have grid electricity available for back up when needed. I use solar for domestic hot water in summer and our wood stove heats in in winter. Plus we have a back up oil fired hot water heater. We use a propane cooking range, a wood cook stove and an outdoor brick oven for cooking. See:

The point is that no one energy source will cover all needs. It is likely that ethanol and biodiesel probably will have limited applications, and maybe even nuclear electricity. I personally think that cogeneration using wood fuel should occupy an important niche.

The only part of your comments I think is a problem is the suggestion of wind turbines on buildings. The specialists say this is a crock because cities effectively kill off wind velocity at any reasonable height. See:

For resilience and survival in the face of a chaotic future, the best energy source is a diverse and randomized selection of interchangeable energy sources.

For efficiency, exploitation, profit, and growth, go with solar. Problems of overpopulation and complexity will take over long before we could run out of sunlight, silicon, or reflective surfaces.

I believe the "wind" in windy city is a reference to politicians who talk too much.

Why is the idea of a smart grid with EV's and PHEV's acting as storage such a difficult concept for people to wrap their heads around?

What makes you think people don't understand the concept? I understand it quite well, in addition to the major problems with it.

  • it's never been done (*)
  • it decentralizes power in an existing centralized oligopoverse and therefore threatens the most powerful elements of society
  • the build-out of components (vehicles) has a time constant of 15 years right now, at the peak of this civilization, with existing technology, anything else being slower and harder
  • we've wasted all our energy on wars and internal disagreements

That would make three non-technical and one rate-of-change quasi-technical reason.

(*) Not to say it's impossible or even undesirable.

Actually, if you look at what we have used our FF energy for from a historical perspective, most of it went to power personal automobiles. Sure it was fun, but it was stupid.

The future will be energy constrained, and we simply cannot continue this failed concept, even by switching to a different energy source and increasing the efficiency somewhat. We will also be struggling to make the infrastructure changes we need to survive, and if we waste those efforts on trying to keep the present car culture dream alive, we will do ourselves much harm.

No, twilight, it was not stupid. It was unforeseeing, but actually quite innovative. The stupidity comes with the continuing adherence to this social paradigm. For millenia, man relied on the horse. If an epidemic of horse disease had eliminated horses, would you consider our forefathers to have been stupid?

The end of the car culture will not come because our automobiles are destroyed by the equivalent of some disease, rather because we no longer have access to enough energy to run them. The equivalent in the horse and buggy world would be if we bred so many that we could not grow enough food to feed them. Which would be stupid.

On other words, a disease is not really foreseeable, while peak oil is.

twilight, so how would you allocate horse ownership to avoid the problem of lack of food growing ability? We, in the West will limit horse ownership in the third world to commercial uses? In other words, we would remain colonialists? We could always have done this earlier this century; we're doing it now, but it's a bit late. The three behemoths are using increasing amounts of our petrol, and out gouvernments are trying to stop them.

Back in the early part of the last century, we thought we were floating in an uncountable number of barrels of oil, and so the auto paradigm took off. Now population growth and the ambition of non-Western people for the conveniences and luxuries that we enjoy have undermined our happy little paradise. It's a great example of the import of the law of unintended consequences. It has nothing whatsoever to do with stupidity.

I, for one, see the idea of using EVs and PHEVs as storage as an excellent build idea and good possibility for modular, localized, storage. I'm also hopeful that residential solar will be much more available in the years to come. In Virginia, we've had ridiculous opposition by neighborhood committees, but the General Assembly has just outlawed committees barring solar power in neighborhood based on the silly argument of 'aesthetics.'

TtheD: an EV cannot be used as a battery and as a car. Using it as backup to the grid will mean that when used for that purpose, it will have no juice left for travelling.

Sure it can, it's not an all-or-nothing proposition, but if you have a few KWH's stored in that car, why wouldn't you keep the possibility open to tap into that power? It doesn't mean you've got an open bar and can just pour it out ad-infinitum.

This guy powered his house from this golf cart, as he mentions in the video, and also drives out to his woods and powers his chainsaw from the batteries.

Grid backup could probably be predicated on buying and selling on spot prices, or something to that effect. Your car is plugged in through a smart-grid processor, and is given a buy price and a sell price. It stops selling at a preset level of charge, or if the price is good enough, you wake up with a dry battery, a few bucks more, and you call in sick or ride with your neighbor.


jokuhl, so you're going to take the chance? For a few pennies? With such a complex system, will the grid be stable? I expect that any serious attempt at this will quickly be abandonned because of unforeseen problems and unintended consequences.

What does some "... guy powered his house from this golf cart, as he mentions in the video, and also drives out to his woods and powers his chainsaw from the batteries" have to do with grid backup?

The other way for Ontario to get 15% of its power from wind is to just add a 'few' more turbines, while those other sources start to drop out.. but that will never happen, right?

In all likelihood, there will be wind in Ontario, and in Texas. You can call it a problem.. you can call it Maria, if you like, but it will be providing power that we will desperately need. Do you think we shouldn't be going after it?

You suggest that you are presenting a contrary point of view, but essentially you're saying 'there isn't enough power'.. They'll build turbines, and if they don't make the 15K you suggest, then clearly demand will have to come down to meet the supply somewhere in the middle.

Wind power is still just a BB, but it does work, it can be designed to be durable, although the stresses on it are very real and challenging. The Nameplate numbers will get hyped by some, but that doesn't mean the source is not valid.

What, in fact, is your contention?


Hi Bob.

Good questions I'm willing to answer. I've stated before that if the wind is viable and you do not have access to other forms of power generation then go for it, BUT and this is a BIG BUT, understand and make public the limitations. If not what happens is people have high expectations of wind energy but when it does not pan out as advertised people will complain big time and then that gives legitimate wind power a bad rap.

For Ontario specifically, this is what I see. If we have a huge downturn or collapse of the economy the big electrical consumers, such as the auto industry and the smelting industry, will be near non-existent. Hence the demand on the grid will drop. Worst case is the population in 20 years would be culled big time by a major society collapse. In which case Hydro power alone may be sufficient to supply the province, and much cheaper, continuous, and easier to maintain. Making wind turbines unnecessary and monuments to gross government waste. Monies which could have been better spent rebuilding our railway branchlines that will be desperately needed in the future.

Making wind turbines unnecessary and monuments to gross government waste. Monies which could have been better spent rebuilding our railway branchlines that will be desperately needed in the future.

Uhm, a little late to be worrying about such things now, isn't it? Ontario already has Pickering, Bruce and Darlington to take care of that. With an accumulated/stranded debt of $32 billion and probably another $20 to $25 billion ahead in upcoming refurbishments plus talk of adding even more nuclear power, wind turbines would seem to be the least of your worries.


The stranded debt was due to gross mismanagement from the former Ontario Hydro. At least nuclear power provides steady power. If anything wind turbines cost considerably more than a nuke plant. Example, nuke plant even at $20B will put out more power than the 17,000 turbines needed for 15% of the demand and would cost $1.5-2M each or $34B.

Tempting as it may be to blame Ontario Hydro management for this mess, the enormous complexity of nuclear power is at the root of the problem. After all, Hydro has no problem managing any of their other assets, just this particular one.

Consider Pickering. The combined output of Pickering A & B's eight reactors, when all were operational, was a little over 4,100 MW. In December 1997, the AECB pulled the plug on all four Pickering A reactors due to deficiencies in the plant's emergency shutdown system. Unit 4 wasn't returned to service until September 2003, almost six years later and Unit 1 didn't produce power again until November 2005, eight years after it went dark. In August 2005, OPG permanently shut down Units 2 and 3 due to their poor physical condition; these two reactors haven't produced any power in more than ten years and likely never will again. In 2007, the annual capacity factor of the two remaining Pickering A reactors was an embarrassing 41.3 per cent; the four Pickering B reactors came in at 75.0 per cent -- OK, but not exactly stellar.

The combined capacity factor of all twenty Ontario reactors in 2007 was 63.2%. According to the IESO, as of February 9, 2008, the overall capacity factor of Ontario's wind fleet is an estimated 28.9%. Based on their respective levels of performance, this suggests we require roughly 2.2 MW of name plate wind capacity for every one MW of nuclear.

In terms of capital cost, Darlington's cost per kW came to $4,085.00 in 1993 dollars. At today's dollars, assuming a 25 per cent increase in general inflation, that works out to be $5,106.00 per kW. While I don't have a good sense of how these numbers would compare, it's fair to say commercial construction costs over the past fifteen years have outpaced general inflation by a considerable margin. In any event, if we assume the cost of new nuclear is approximately $5,100.00 per kW, at this 2.2:1 ratio each kW of wind power would need to come in at $2,300.00 to break even and from what I understand that's pretty much in line with actual costs.


Except the Capacity Factor for wind is not important. What is important is the Capacity Value. How much extra power wind can add to the grid when demand is within 10% of peak. That value is 17% of the name plate. And when we need the top up the most, in the summer, is when the vapacity value is at it's lowest.

Except the Capacity Factor for wind is not important. What is important is the Capacity Value. How much extra power wind can add to the grid when demand is within 10% of peak. That value is 17% of the name plate. And when we need the top up the most, in the summer, is when the vapacity value is at it's lowest.

So I take it the capacity values of Pickering Units 1, 2, 3 and 4 and Bruce Units 1 and 2 in the summer of 2007 would be ZERO?

See: http://416-777-7777.com/comment/columnists/article/233368


I have no idea of that. I'm just passing along this from an offical document sent to OPA


Pg 28:
The classical definition of capacity factor is the average power output
during all the hours over a defined period of time divided by the nameplate rating of
the generation resource. Capacity value is a measure of the generation resource
output during critical periods throughout the year, such as when the load is within
10% of its peak. PJM and NYISO define capacity value as the capacity factor during
those hours of the day when the peak load is likely to occur in the peak months of
June, July, and August. In this study, the capacity value is defined as the average
hourly wind power output during the periods when load is within 10% of its peak. This
is per unit of the wind power output nameplate rating.


the average overall capacity value is generally insensitive to
the wind penetration level and ranges between 38% to 42% during the winter
months (November to February) and 16% to 19% (June to August) during the summer
months. Good wind geographic diversity and the scaling of wind data from the same
groups to derive overall wind power output tend to cause the insensitivity to
penetration level. The overall yearly capacity value is approximately 20% for all
scenarios. In other words, 10,000 MW of installed nameplate wind capacity is
equivalent to approximately 2,000 MW of firm generation capacity. The average
capacity value of 20% was arrived at both by looking at the contribution of wind
when the loads were within 10% of the peak load as well as looking at the
contribution during pre-selected hours in June, July and August.


The overall capacity value is heavily weighted towards
the summer value because nearly 87% of the hits (periods within 10% of the load
peak) occur during the summer months.

I have no idea of that.

Then I'd be happy to illustrate this point in greater detail. On September 25th, 2007 when temperatures in Toronto hit 33C, TEN of Ontario's nuclear reactors were offline due to plant shutdown or maintenance -- six at Pickering, three at Bruce and one at Darlington -- some 6,000 MW in total. As a result, the province cranked-up every single resource at its disposal including 1,600 MW of gas-fired generation at Lennox (the most expensive generation in its fleet) and imported a further 2,231 MW of power from neighbouring utilities at a significant cost premium. If that power hadn't been available for whatever reason (e.g., local demand or resource constraints, line outages, etc.), load shedding would have commenced and much of the province would have been plunged into darkness. It's one thing to lose 60 MW or even 600 MW at a time of critical need, but compared to 6,000 MW it's pretty small potatoes.


Now most of those are coming back on line are they not? And there is no way wind will ever make up that kind of difference. And is does not change the fact that wind produces only 17% of its name plate capacity when we need it the most, especially if reactors are down.

It's not likely Pickering Units 2 and 3 will ever come back online due to their poor condition and OPG hasn't made any commitment to refurbish Units 5, 6, 7 and 8 because of the expected cost. That being the case, wind appears to be better positioned to serve Ontario's future electricity needs than any of these reactors.

One key advantage of wind is that it is privately financed so the financial risks are borne by investors; that's in stark contrast to OPG's nuclear reactors where past and future costs are shouldered by electricity customers and federal and provincial taxpayers. The fact that wind can successfully compete for private capital without public guarantees assures me the economics are sound; that's simply not true of nuclear power.


You need to look at this:


for July and Aug 2006

Specifically for July 2006, the total output for the month from all sources compared to wind. Wind was a mere 0.19% of the output.

14,202,525     Total
27,304   0.19% Wind

Specifically from the 3 operating sources:

Station Name
Station MCR
Capability Factor %
Capability Factor %
Energy Production (MWh)
Production Factor %
Zone Fuel
PTBURWELL 99.0 100 100 12,234 17 West Wind Erie Shores Wind
Farm Limited Partnership
AMARANTH 68.0 100 97 10,332 20 Southwest Wind Canadian Hydro Developers, Inc.
KINGSBRIDGE 40.0 100 100 4,738 16 Southwest Wind EPCOR Power
Development Corporation

Notice the ACTUAL output is 17, 20, and 16% not what the capacity factor was expected to produce. What will happen is they will go bankrupt and the taxpayers will be on the hook for them in the end. The boig difference between wind and nuclear is we can construct the reactors to give us the power, with wind we have to hope for viable wind.

Could this be the real motive for more wind turbines?

Wind power monopoly feared

But the ministry changed the rules in January. It created a winner-take-all process that could allow the first in line – Toronto-based SkyPower Corp. – to virtually control all the remaining locations in Ontario where wind power might be effective and profitable.

The stakes are high. Control of these sites potentially means millions in profits as Ontario switches its power sources from traditional to renewable.

Boffin: Coconut jumbo is millstone in disguise

The Royal Society of Chemistry, Europe's biggest stinks association, has weighed into the biofuel debate. RSC chief Dr John Pike, in a statement issued today, criticised current and near-future alternative fuel technologies and characterised carbon offsetting schemes as "bogus".

"Where spin takes precedence over hard facts, the outcome is likely to be a spate of uncoordinated initiatives that have not been fully thought through," said the hard-hitting brainbox, a chartered engineer and chartered scientist.

Dr Pike's remarks appeared to have been stimulated by the fuss arising from biz kingpin Richard Branson's recent flight test of a 747 partly running on fuel made from coconuts.

"Flying on biofuel is a milestone," says the RCS statement, "but it must not become a millstone." Pike apparently sees the quest for biofuels as a wild goose chase through a minefield amid dangerous waters, up a creek without a paddle towards a plan you wouldn't touch with a bargepole.


Miles EV Raises $15 Million for XS500 Electric Car

After some confusion over how much it will cost, here are some good news about the XS500 electric car, the first highway-capable (80+ mph top speed, 120+ miles range) EV by Miles Electric Vehicles: The company has raised $15 million and the money is earmarked for further development of the XS500. Last we've heard from Miles, the 2009 XS500 model is still projected to sell for "$30,000 to $35,000" in the United States.

This car could be revolutionary.

First-Ever Global Map of Total Human Effect on Oceans

More than 40 percent of the world's oceans are heavily affected by human activities, and few if any areas remain untouched, according to the first global-scale study of human influence on marine ecosystems.

By overlaying maps of 17 different activities such as fishing, climate change and pollution, the researchers have produced a composite map of the toll that humans have exacted on the seas.

This is not as much a problem in winter or colder climates, but in the south, switching to CFLs from incandescent bulbs also has the benefit of reducing your cooling demands. With the lower power consumption also comes a lower heat output. Less heat being output means less heat that needs to be taken out of the home via air conditioning. I can't say that I've noticed a difference in how often my A/C runs, but you certainly can tell a difference in the heat output if you're in a small room.

I've thought about that myself, but mostly because of people complaining that the heat might not be unwanted in the north. Being in FL it makes great sense.

But reminds me, as I turned down the thermostat someone at work had turned up to 80 this cold morning, I was trying to figure out how much heat we and our computers and such generate just on our floor. Stupid question but I'm no EE, is a 100w (computer) processor technically producing 100w of heat at 100% use?

Pretty much. Any power that a computer consumes is going to be released as heat. Most laptops are 60w or so, and most desktops will be 200-500w, depending on the design. (Most computers in offices are smaller.) Of course, power consumption depends on things like whether your monitor is a CRT or an LCD. (CRTs consume more power.) I noticed a difference in my bedroom when I switched from two CRT monitors to one of them being an LCD. I plan on swapping out the other CRT when I've got some money to blow, but not for energy reasons. :)

newer quad core systems with all the accessory's actually are nearing the 800+ watt mark(there are already 1,000 watt power supply's on the market.. dtr laptops are over or around 100w. ultra-portable and mini laptops are sub 60w. mini/pico/nano itx use allot less then 60w, even 40w would be in the high end. 20-30 is typical if one uses a laptop optical drive and a laptop hard drive. sub 20w for said systems can be done if one forgo's the optical drive and uses a flash drive to boot from before loading it into a ram disk.

lcd screens are basicly already at in power consumption the average of the old crt's they replaced. wide screen 17in+ are about 80-100 watts. Olcd's are still years off before becoming as cheap as lcd's.

A resting person emits about the same heat energy as a resting Pentium (with power control on): ~ 100W continuous.


Well, I did say about. The computer emits closer to 150W continuous. (Use your Kill-a-Watt, and don't forget your galoshes!).

You can reduce by running power conservation programs and turning the beasts off when possible, tip to Khebab:



Working gas in storage was 1,619 Bcf as of Friday, February 22, 2008, according to EIA estimates. This represents a net decline of 151 Bcf from the previous week. Stocks were 133 Bcf less than last year at this time and 87 Bcf above the 5-year average of 1,532 Bcf. In the East Region, stocks were 42 Bcf above the 5-year average following net withdrawals of 100 Bcf. Stocks in the Producing Region were 77 Bcf above the 5-year average of 494 Bcf after a net withdrawal of 35 Bcf. Stocks in the West Region were 32 Bcf below the 5-year average after a net drawdown of 16 Bcf. At 1,619 Bcf, total working gas is within the 5-year historical range.

don't know if this has been covered;

'today, combinations of beet juice and rock salt are being sprayed on streets and highways by the transportation departments in DC, Missouri, and Ohio and in cities scattered throughout the Midwest and Northeast. The mixture is reported to have a lower freezing point than salt alone and stays on the road longer, reducing the number of applications. The Ohio DOT says it’s currently testing a beet-salt concoction called GeoMelt in 9 of its 88 counties.'

so now we'll drive on our food supply too.


It will also adhere to the car longer and cause more corrosion.

mmm... Sweet and sour road kill!

Oh, that's really bad (ROFLMAO)

Add some sour cream and you could be driving on a decent borscht!!

Add some sour cream and you could be driving on a decent borscht!!

Gives a whole new meaning to "borscht belt".

My, how we do mangel our language!

The color of the stuff must be pretty alarming.

"The color of the stuff must be pretty alarming."

That way latecomers to the street scene won't be able to discern the bloody results of earlier wintry machete' moshpits. Gives a new meaning to the old saying, "Come on now, let's paint the town red". :(

Interesting article! Points:

1) um, smell?

2) the 6th paragraph, another reason to eschew salting:

"chloride concentrations in many rural streams will exceed 250 mg/liter—the maximum limit for national drinking water secondary standards—in the next century ... trend is not easily reversible ...."

20 million tons of rock salt dumped on our watersheds in one year? How did we get here and how do we get back home?

I read a study once that was done in northern Europe. Norway, maybe? They tried not salting one section of highway in an environmentally sensitive area.

They found it was a wash, financially. The cost of the increased accidents and injuries were covered by the savings in road salt purchases.

Somehow, I can't see that going over in the US...

Why not just use sand instead of salt, in order to provide additional traction?

They actually do do that. But it's not as effective as using salt.

You could use solar thermal energy to warm the pavement and you would not have ice, but the cost would be high.

We do that here. It's too cold for salt to be effective most of the winter, so they sand intersections instead. It works fairly well, but makes spring a dusty, gritty mess.

You could use the waste heat from nearby power plants, but the pipe and installation costs would be high. At some stage, it might make sense. If the cost of sand or salt does not go up much, but the cost of equipment, labor and fuel go up a lot, it could make some sense.

In some areas of Japan they use the natural hot springs to clear the road/sidewalks. They have little jets in the pavements that release the hot water right from the hot springs.

Its effective, but your shoes tend to get wet a lot.

I posted this on the 'North American Natural Gas Production and EROI Decline' thread and got no response, wrong place I guess, they just were more interested in the wonk of gas exploration stats.

This post is more inline with my current thoughts on Canadian gas:
Canada: Emerson hints oil would be back on table if U.S. reopens NAFTA

As interesting as the exploration of the technical aspects of natural gas depletion are, they don't go on in a vacuum. Politics, and the politics of Crony Capitalism in particular, always distort any reasoned discussion of energy.

What reasonably should happen, based on the best data, rarely does because of the perversion of politics and Canadian natural gas is going to be a doozie.

There is even the politics of technology. VHS sucked, Beta Max was by far the superior technology. The history of modern technology is littered with cases of the worst 'solution' prevailing.

Canadian gas reserves will be hijacked and ultimately determined by the US, one way or another. The US is a real honest to god junkie about energy. It will lie, cheat and steal energy just like a heroin addict. Nothing is beneath the US obsession with energy. Ever try to reason with a junkie? Nothing works.

I see the two nearby prizes, Canadian gas reserves, and the dregs of Mexican crude, to be quick 'fixes' for the US 'habit'.

Any discussion of when they run out, is masking the far more important discussion of who gets effective control of them.

Do they get 'saved' for last, after exports to the US dry up, and Mexico and Canada get essentially co-opted with NAFTA 're-negotiations.' Are they considered, 'Piggy Banks' for the US stragtic FF reserves? Close by, use'm last?

Enormous behind the scenes forces, (underhanded and even illegal) will be applied to both countries and their political power structures, and frankly, I don't see either Mexico or Canada all that ready or capable to resist them.

( a partial repost)

I read this post on Pemex today.

ENERGY-MEXICO: PEMEX in Death Throes Amid Political Squabbling
By Diego Cevallos


What pray tell does anyone think will be the 'Synergy' of Canadian natural gas crapping out about the same time as Mexico giving up the ghost on oil.

Will it be 'dynamic', or 'breathtaking' or as the kids say, 'Awesome'.

Maybe the US will Annex Canada and Mexico, 'voluntarily' into the new North American Union. That way we can just 'redistribute' their resources to the most 'important parts of the new Union.

Congress, the White House and Wall St always know best, n'est-ce pas?

"The US is a real honest to god junkie about energy. It will lie, cheat and steal energy just like a heroin addict. "

The US is the people who have to keep their homes heated, children fed and a roof over their heads. If there is any issue of a country stealing energy read this:

Declining Oil Supply Means War Is ‘Fairly Probable’

Don't you remember, the US is Number ONE, they can out do anyone, even China, in the thievery department.

The US is the people who literally waste more energy than anyone needs to live comfortably.

Except that the United States, not China, has already invaded a country to install a regime amenable to Big Oil. When that didn't work, it began ostentatiously setting up another war with Iran. If you've been to the US lately, you've noticed our roofs are too big, our children too fat, and our minds too narrow to change.

Speak for yourself. I wouldn't lift a finger to help the imperialist-fascist regime. What they do they do without my help or approval.

Then You must have figured a way to withhold ALL forms of taxation from the Imperial government, including the Imperial portion of the gasoline tax.

Canada and Mexico's oil get used up first obviously. Junkies don't plan ahead. If they have enough heroin for two weeks they do twice as much for a week and then go out and steal to get some more for the second week.
Saving stuff for tomorrow is not a concept the majority of Americans seem to understand. Eat it all today before someone else gets it is their mantra!

Maybe the US will Annex Canada and Mexico, 'voluntarily' into the new North American Union. That way we can just 'redistribute' their resources to the most 'important parts of the new Union.

Not a chance. Too many lefties north of the border and too many Latinos in Mexico. Besides, why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?

The proportionality clause in NAFTA compels Canada to continue delivering FF even when shortages appear at home. Meanwhile, as the economic situation worsens in Mexico, they'll pump the wells dry and sell the last drop to keep the money flowing.

Softening up those against the idea comes first.


It is mind-boggling short sighted-ness for Obama (and to a lesser extent Clinton) to be ranting so anti-NAFTA. Understand that they are campaigning hard in rust belt Ohio and want to appeal to the laid off workers, but still, Obama in particular should be more sensitive to criticisms against him about his naiveté wrt foreign policy.

Energy trade with Canada is of course only a part of NAFTA, but as we are discovering it is an important part. Let us hope more thoughtful heads prevail.

Its not mind-boggling. Its perfectly reasonable if you understand the nature of politics. A politician that presents a reasonable long term policy will always loose to a politician playing on short term local issues.

And until you install me as world dictator, nothing is going to change.

Since it's actually Billary running, it would be wise to review a brief history of NAFTA's enactment, http://www.counterpunch.org/gardner02282008.html

What I don't understand is the railing against NAFTA when it is cheap Chinese junk that is filling our stores and sending all of our manufacturing overseas. Killing NAFTA does absolutely nothing about that.

The problem with NAFTA is that when that particular bill of goods was sold to us, we were given the impression that what was being created was a North American version of the European Common Market. Thus, we were given the impression that while the tariff walls were coming down between the USA, Canada and Mexico, North America as a whole would be surrounded by tariff walls as high as those surrounding the EU. We could have lived with that deal, and it did make a certain amount of sense. The problem was, the ink was hardly dry on the NAFTA treaty before the doors were flung wide open to the entire world, first and foremost for China. THAT is the reason why it is so hard to find anything "made in USA" these days -- and why it isn't really any easier to find stuff "made in Canada" or "made in Mexico" either.

Sorry to do this, but I need to get in touch with the poster named "Panama." You don't have an email address listed, so can you please email me at "taibei" at "yahoo" followed by "dot" "com". (Hope that format for my email address keeps the spambots away).



WOW....7 of 11 oil benchmarks above $100.


Not saying this is anything more than a currency reinforcement of a tight market....but WOW.

Brent, Tapis, Alaska North Slope, Bonny Light, Forties, Louisiana Sweet, and WTI above 100. Out of the other 4, the lowest is 92.23.

Think the implications of a $100 crude 'floor' for Americans in particular hasn't had time to settle in. This price is accompanied by some of the tightest refinery margins in a long time and not much unusual on the international horizon. With more Fed rate cuts and no OPEC increase I think this means $4 a gallon is a cinch this year supply shock or no.
So we'll get to watch all those nighly news segments again with the guy filling up his hulking SUV and getting pissed at whoever and then some neophite will expound on the need for more biofuels and in the end we'll gather up support to squeeze more out of our neighbors or go after some 'despot' in a faraway land. When instead we need critical infrastrucure and behavioral changes.
I'd relish the idea of watching Americans readjust to a lower energy lifestyle a whole lot more if I could be a little bit more sure we'd react sanely. As it is we are a scary bunch.

Where I live, people moved here because the new house prices were lower than other counties. Then they commute and hour each way to work in those other counties. This make no sense for society as a whole, but make some sense in the short term for the individual. They put 30k miles on a car and buy a new one more often and complain about fuel prices, air quality and traffic congestion. This same case plays itself out in many locations. I can only hope that we do better in the coming years.

Yes most the country was built that way on just the economic model you describe based on the expectation of endless cheap fuel.
It's as if someone was sold a ride on a plane and was then informed midflight that an immediate surcharge was needed to prevent the thing from crashing.
Most of us will complain but reach for our wallets at the same time.

Bernanke just stated that if oil were traded in any other currency that it would have some "symbolic" value but that would be all. He said, something to the effect as I don't remember his exact words, that currencies are extremely liquid as they are traded all the time. His answer was in reply to a question from Senator Dodd.

Ron Patterson

When oil is traded in something besides $'s, the $ will have no value.

We went into Iraq because Saddam switched to Euros.

The dollar's collapsing as we speak, triggered by the traitor Greenspan who stated that the Arabs would be better off
away from $'s.


That's an interesting question.

So... if ilargi and Stoneleigh are right (over at Automatic Earth) and the financial center is rotten... where might we spread the blame? The bankers or the oil producers?

The whole point of our hyper-capitalist system, indeed its evil genius, is that there is no one to blame. And so it will be, until corporate law is seriously revisited. Which I don't expect to see in my lifetime.

The world is now run by gangsters and/or idiots.

Marx called it the inevitable result of class interest. The bosses can only increase sales by raising salaries, but if one individual boss tries that, he loses more than he gains. Ford could do it because he had the cheapest car on the market and could calculate what his workers would do with the extra pay, but it was a one-time anomaly. The only other alternative is to let the worker/consumers go into debt buying more, and stick the banks with the consequences. We tried this in the 1920s, and we've been trying it for the last 25 years. This time the banks tried to come up with wacky gimmicks to hide the lump under the rug, and now it's all falling apart.

I think ol' Karl might have had a point.

I'm not one of those that thinks there is necessarily a "solution". The whole system seems to be a scam, from top to bottom. A pyramid scheme that can't stop, but must. I have no idea how it will play out, and try as I might, I can't think of any happy outcomes.

Sorry - I thought I deleted it before anyone responded. You guys are quick!

The Top .01%.

The Federal Reserve is not part of the US Government.

It is partly owned by foreign banks.

It does not pay taxes.

All of the above can be sourced if needed.


" Bernanke Says Economy Is "On Track" And I Say, To Hell

Exactly 2 years ago, I wrote this piece:


Danger: completely stupid economist with great powers running into competely corrupt politicians! How on earth will "output" cause inflation? Output was supposed to be "manufactured stuff" and he is using it to describe people buying things merrily because there is tons of money running around, purchased via cheap, below inflation rate loans! And this will cause inflation, all right, in HOUSING. Which is exactly what has been going on so far! And which is excatly what is wrong with everything! The Fed deliberately turned our homes into ATM machines so we can churn out money to our heart's content and of course, buy stuff which never showed any inflation because the Chinese pegged the yuan to the dollar and the Japanese do this even more outrageously..."

BTW, Citi is insolvent.

Wow, my comment was deleted? I simply asked for a source on where Citibank was insolvent?????

If you had simply asked for a source, your comment would not have been deleted.

Here is an article by Mish back in November that discusses Citi's problems.

No one (probalby not even Citi) really knows if they are insolvent or not. It all depends on what valuation is applied to Citi's Level 3 assets. My guess is that if the L3 assets are Marked-to-Market at today's real value, they would be insolvent. That's why Citi, along with all the other banks playing with these toxic derivatives, want to continue to Mark-to-Makebelieve.

Since Mish wrote that article, Citi has borrowed around 7.5 billion from Abu Dhabi at junk interest rates. That was not enough to get their books back in order, so they've quietly been selling off assets, as in Citigroup Inc. Sells Japan HQ To Morgan Stanley-Reuters.

I think it is fair to say that Citibank is probably insolvent and being held together by a combination of dodgy accounting and selling of corporate arms and legs to bring in much needed cash.

However, a turnaround in the ABS market would change that and likely put Citi back on sound footing -- HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Dream on.

On the other hand, it is safe to say Citibank will never go bankrupt. They are TBTF (Too Big To Fail). The government will bail them out if it comes to that.

Ben also said on numerous times that the "subprime problem was contained" and that "the US would avoid a recession", and that "inflation will be just a short spike".

C'mon. We have been through this a dozen times. You know that every time you bring this up it is refuted, with even the Iran Oil Bourse gang admitting in the end that Saddam's switch to Euros was not a cause for war. You just love to to post this same silly assertion over and over, then never come back to try to defend it.

Face facts, your post is wrong, as it has been every other time you have posted it. You must even know by now that this is a falsehood. We do you insist on trying the spread it?

Bernanake is right. There might be some small symbolic impact. Beyond that, no meaning.

I'm back. ;}

Iraq nets handsome profit by dumping dollar for euro | Business ...
Almost all of Iraq's oil exports under the United Nations oil-for-food programme have been paid in euros since 2001. Around 26 billion euros (£17.4bn) has ...

(#19) U.S. Dollar vs. the Euro:
Another Reason for the Invasion of Iraq

Update by Cóilín Nunan

At the time this article was written, the suggestion that Iraq’s move to selling oil for euros had something to do with the US threatening war against the country was just a theory. It still is a theory, but a theory which subsequent US actions have done little to dispel: the US has invaded Iraq, installed its own authority to rule the country and as soon as Iraqi oil became available to sell on the world market, it was announced that payment would be in dollars only (1). But the story doesn’t end there: the US trade deficit is still widening and the dollar falling. More and more oil exporters are talking openly about selling their commodity for euros instead of greenbacks. While Indonesia has only been considering it (2), Malaysia’s Prime Minister Dr Mahathir has been strongly encouraging his country’s oil industry to actually do it (3), which has led the European Union’s Energy Commissioner, Loyola de Palacio, to comment that she could see the euro replacing the dollar as the main currency for oil pricing (4). Iran meanwhile has been giving all the signs that it is about to switch to the euro: it has been issuing eurobonds, converting its foreign exchange reserves from dollars to euros and having warm trade negotiations with the EU. According to one recent report it has even started selling its oil to Europe for euros and encouraging Asian customers to pay in euros too (5). Should US talk of ‘regime change’ in Iran not be seen in the light of these facts? The media largely appear to think not since there has been little discussion of the dollar-euro connection with the ‘war on terror’. What discussion there has been may well be expanded upon in the future as neither the threat to the dollar and the US economy or the US threat to world peace are likely to go away any time soon.

1. Carola Hoyos and Kevin Morrison, ‘Iraq returns to international oil market’, Financial Times, June 5 2003, http://news.ft.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=FT.com/StoryFT/FullSto...
2. Kazi Mahmood, ‘Economic Shift Could Hurt U.S.-British Interests In Asia’, March 30 2003, IslamOnline.net
3. Shahanaaz Habib, ‘Use euro for oil prices, says Dr M’, The Star, June 16 2003, http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2003/6/17/nation/sboil&sec=na...
4. Reuters, ‘EU says oil could one day be priced in euros’, June 16 2003, http://biz.yahoo.com/rf/030616/energy_euro_2.html
5. C. Shivkumar, ‘Iran offers oil to Asian union on easier terms’, June 16 2003, http://thehindubusinessline.com/stories/2003061702380500.htm

In 2000, Iraq converted all its oil transactions under the Oil for Food program to euros.[1] When U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, it returned oil sales from the euro to the USD.[2]

Do you think it's magic that the US is 6% of the world, we use 25%
of the oil, and we "borrow" 75% of the cost?

In 2000, Iraq converted all its oil transactions under the Oil for Food program to euros.[1] When U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, it returned oil sales from the euro to the USD.[2]


Bernanke just stated that if oil were traded in any other currency that it would have some "symbolic" value but that would be all

So, absolutely no problem if KSA moves to another currency then!

I'll bet the Saudis are glad they don't have to worry about moving away from the dollar now Bernanke has said it's ok!

And you allow twonks like this to run your financial system? ... truly amazing!

Both Greenspan and Bernacke say it would be No Big Deal within 24 hours of each other. They meant the message to go out. We just don't know why.

That's the point. Could it be, that they wish to dump the US$ even more? Too much debt? Hyperinflation is indeed the best way for a debter.

Yes, likely another prong in this fork.

Hyper-inflate away debt, launch new currency when every one is a millionaire. I don't think the Amero is a tin hat thing...just that we are not party to the schedule.

It won't be 50 years from now-Puplava estimates 2010-he's a pretty smart guy.

I agree...I think it will be around 2010, 2011 as well.

It's what comes after we should be concerned about, given that this isn't a LTCM blip...it is tied with just about Peak Everything.

Should be fun...NOT!

Uh oh...is Bush scheduled to read a children's book at an elementary school soon? If so, I'm going to my bomb shelter!!

Here's a prediction

False Flag Prospects, 2008 -- Top Three US Target Cities

Captain May is a former Army military intelligence and public affairs officer, as well as a former NBC editorial writer. His political and military analyses have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, the Houston Chronicle and Military Intelligence Magazine.

Imho, rational planners should write NO in the false flag attack? line (in the US, with a time limit of 10 years at least. I made the same prediction one month after 9/11, so this is an extension.) Besides reasons dealing with 9/11 itself (e.g. whether it was or was not a false flag attack or even something different should influence one’s predictions), not a topic for this board, a false flag op. will not easily be believed, risks being unmasked, and will turn people against the authorities/Gvmt, including by the naive who believed in ‘better security measures’, etc. Opposition and social strife are not desired - or even if they were a false flag op is not necessary to spark it.

For ex. whatever was attempted in Spain backfired. The US supporter right-wing Aznar who was expected to win the election lost to Zapatero. I have it on good authority that Zapatero was completely floored by his win (was reported in Spanish press, I’m only saying I believe it) - it was an outcome of the bombings. OK, Spain is not the US, and we aren’t talking about results from the booth, but public attitudes, sentiment, etc.

Second, one should ask, what exactly would a successful false flag op achieve? Whether Iran is attacked by the US/Isr. or not would not seem to depend on the level of hate the US people have for ‘Arabs’ or ‘Muslims’. How many would now rush to enlist, say?

It all smells stale, a little old, past its sell date, and - dangerous. One should also recall that 9/11 diminished the US’ status and image world-wide (except in Israel); no matter who the culprits were, alternatively: the US failed to defend itself, showed itself to be incredibly weak, disorganized, inefficient, totally incapable ; or was complicit, duplicitous, went over the line (no. of citizens killed); reacted inappropriately; forced others into a charade that was contested; and more.

Re: They meant to get the message out. We just don't know why.

Bernanke et al have made it very plain that their plan is to inflate. The price of oil will go up to compensate for the falling dollar as oil is traded in other currencies. The plus side is that is will be easier to earn foreign currencies to buy oil since our exports of grain and such will look cheaper and imports will look more expensive to Americans. They are warning Wall Street and the public to position themselves so as to minimize the damage. This is the way the Empire taxes the world for "services provided" and it is the genius of the system. Countries that peg their currency to the dollar like Japan and China are as guilty as we are. They do it by buying up our debt enabling low interest rates that result in fiscal deficits and housing bubbles. All the players must be punished for these shenanigans. The price they pay is that the real value of the dollars and bonds they hold decreases and globalization takes a step backwards as American products become more competitive. Unfortunately American savers take a hit too. It's odd that financial advisers recommend paying off debt. If the interest rate is reasonable paying off debt is stupid in the current situation as the inflation to come will wipe out a some or all of it.

Don't kid yourself- the USA WAS an economic empire 40 years ago- the inside guys are busy dismantling it as fast as they can. Greenspan, Bernanke, Bush, etc. etc. are NOT working for the USA-it is the other way around. Parasitic Capitalism (South American style).

But where is the new Empire located, and does it even have a name? A mountain of gold was stolen by Spain 500 years ago, and wherever it has moved, so has imperial power. In the World Wars, the mountain of gold moved from London to New York.

And wherever that mountain has stayed, it has bent the local leaders to its same corrupt practices.

The gold was cast about on the sands of Iraq and the jungles of Vietnam. It lined the pockets of corporate executives and oil sheiks and built savings and loans. Some of it is stored in concrete and steel and some in sprawl. Much of it can still be seen today.
And when there was no more it continued on. The mountain of gold was turned into a chasm of debt. The flow of capital IT hung on the leaders like a millstone and found it's way into the home of every citizen.
A way was found to fill the hole by impoverishing all those who assumed that debt both within and with out. Part of it borne by every worker who was promised to be paid and part by every promise to every lender who now will not be. Part by every person who owned their home and every pension never won.
Much of it can still be seen today.

Paying off debt is only stupid if you are reasonably sure that your income is going to inflate as fast as everything else. That does not describe the situation of the bottom 90% or so of the American public.

Yes. it would be no problem if KSA moves to another currency.

Saudi Arabia has always been free to trade oil in whatever currency they want. I haven't seen convincing evidence that KSA trades oil exclusively in dollars now. I would guess that the Saudis sell oil to the EU in Euros?

Anyone have any evidence?

Anyone have any evidence?

Who do you think defends the KSA fields?

The King of KSA?

Here's some history for you, Jack.

1932: Bahrain Petroleum strikes oil in Bahrain

Saudi Arabia@Everything2.com
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was formed in 1932 by the union of Hejaz and Nejd, .... In 1988 it became Saudi Aramco, and included pipelines, oil depots, ...

1933: Socal wins Saudi Arabia concession; Socal establishes California-Arabia Standard Oil Company, Casoc, to hold concession for Saudi Arabia

1933: Socal discoveries oil in Saudi Arabia

1936: Texaco joins with Standard Oil of California (later Chevron), to found the Arab-American Oil Company [Aramco]

1936: Texaco purchases half interest in Bahrain Petroleum and California-Arabian Standard Oil Company (Calarabian) from Socal

1936: California-Texas company, Caltex, founded as a joint venture between Socal and Texaco as outlet for future oil production in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia

Electronic Briefing Book: The Secret CIA History of the Iran Coup
CIA Clandestine Service History, "Overthrow of Premier Mossadeq of Iran, November 1952-August 1953," March 1954, by Dr. Donald Wilber. ...

1954: Consortium of oil companies, including British Petroleum, Exxon, Socony, Texas Oil, Socal, Gulf, Royal Dutch/Shell Group, and CFP form the Iranian Oil Participants Ltd. (IOP) and negotiate agreement with Iranian government and for oil production in Iran

The Saudi government nationalized United States based oil company production sharing agreements in 1980; evicting the oil companies in violation of their lease agreements.

All currencies are liquid -- in the sense that they can be turned into oil. However, not all liquids are miscible Currencies could be expected to behave similarly.

Bernie also said that the USA economy is structurally far stronger than it was in the 1970s. There is no way he believes even 10% of the stupid crap he spews.

Bernanke just stated that if oil were traded in any other currency that it would have some "symbolic" value but that would be all.

I agree with Bernanke on this. Let me stipulate that the Fed is pursuing a policy that is likely to devalue the dollar. Nevertheless, the currency used to trade oil is unimportant. What is important is the currency used for foreign currency reserves.

Let me give an example. Assume OPEC decides tomorrow that all petroleum trading must be done using Indian Rupees as the currency. France needs to buy 1 million barrels of oil. They therefore change 100 million dollars from their currency reserves to Rupees and purchase the oil from Kuwait. Kuwait can't think of anything useful to do with the Rupees, so they convert the Rupees back to Dollars and invest the dollars in U.S. Treasury Bonds.

In this exchange, the oil moved from Kuwait to France and the dollar currency reserves moved from France to Kuwait. The Rupees went back where they came from. This is neither bullish nor bearish for the dollar or the Rupee.

What changes the equation is if Kuwait decided it didn't want dollar currency reserves, and actually started building its reserves in Rupees rather than dollars. That would be bearish for the dollar and bullish for the Rupee.

NASAguy, obviously you understand the situation as well as how currency trading works. Too bad that so many others haven't a frigging clue. What currency oil is traded in simply doesn't matter any more than it matters what currency fish is traded in. The ignorance of Joe Sixpack, as well as his cousins on this list, never ceases to amaze me.

Ron Patterson

Brad Setser comments cogently here:


In a phrase: it doesn't matter much.

A more important challenge is how long can the US throw half a trillion dollars per year (increasing at some percentage) at a couple of small countries?

We're at about 5% of GDP. How long will it be before 10% and then 20% of our GDP is going outside the US as cash, to be turned around by sovereign wealth funds which acquire the donor countries' assets?

All for our motoring pleasure.

In a phrase: it doesn't matter much.

Ummm...that's not really what he said. Let me quote from the article:

So why do I think the fact that oil is still primarily settled in dollars may still matter?

All of you who so confidently assert that it doesn't matter what currency oil is sold in are oversimplifying a very complex topic. The fact that the USD is the world's reserve currency and that oil is priced in dollars are not unrelated, and it is nearly impossible to separate the two. When oil ceases to be priced (largely) in dollars, it will be because the dollar is no longer the world's reserve currency. And when that happens, it will have an effect.


I'm no currency expert. I'm not saying you or others who think it matters are right or wrong. I really don't know enough to know. I've thought about this issue a bit, and I want to present to you with a devil's advocate position and get your feedback.

Everybody says that pricing oil in dollars doesn't matter since you can convert whatever currency you have into dollars at whatever the exchange rate is and then go buy some oil. Pricing oil in dollars therefore doesn't create additional demand in dollars since the countries don't have to hold extra dollars since they could always just convert their currency to dollars. Accordingly, the whole petrodollar issue is bunk.

Now, I think all of us that come to this blog agree that oil is a precious commodity, in fact, that without oil no country can have a wealthy industrilized economy. Oil is life blood of the economy and harming any country's ability to purchase oil, especially the importers who have little of thier own, would seriously damage their economy.

One thing that I am fairly certain (but I may be wrong) is that currency is traded in pairs one against the other. The Euro versus the dollar. The pound versus the dollar. The Euro versus the pound.

Now since oil is priced in dollars if a currency was to weaken versus the dollar shouldn't that mean that oil becomes more expensive for holders of that currency? Does anybody know about this?

For example, if the Euro was trading at parity with the dollar, then dropped to only being worth 50% of the dollar, the price of oil would stay constant in dollars and a buyer would need two times the amount of Euros to purchase a barrel of oil. Thus, having your currency weaken versus the dollar is something you really wouldn't want to have happen because then oil becomes more expensive since oil is priced in dollars. Having your currency weaken versus the Swiss Franc isn't as important because one of your most needed commodities is not priced in Swiss Francs.

In my mind then, the dollar therefore becomes the currency that all other currencies worry about being devalued against.

Now I think this is very important with the float. If there are 1,000,000 dollar bills in circulation and 500,000 Euros in circulation and they were on a 1:1 price parity with each other one would predict that if the float of the U.S. currency was doubled to 2,000,000 (selling treasuries in exchange for federal reserve notes) and the float of the European currency stayed constant they would then be on a 2:1 price parity with each other. And everybody other currency too since the supply of dollar have went up without any demand to go up so the value should go down.

If you could create more demand for dollars, however, and have those extra 1,000,000 dollars that were printed not end up in circulation but still be traded for goods and services then you could effectively print money (or loan at low interest rates) without losing value in your currency. Where would this demand come from?

Well as we talked about above, any industrialized country, especially importers, would not want the value of thier currency to drop too much versus the dollar on the FOREX. To insure against this, the easiest thing to do is to hold dollars in reserve.

Lets assume a 1:1 price parity between Euros & dollars with 500,000 float of Euros and 1,000,000 float of dollars and oil is selling at $1 a barrel. Alternatively, for illustration, say Intel has 500,000 shares of stock priced at $10/share and Microsoft having 1,000,000 shares of stock priced at $10/share and oil is selling at 1 share of Microsoft. The price per share is equal so you could exchange one share for another, but Microsoft has much larger capitalization, and you would have to switch your Intel share with Microsoft before you can get your barrel of oil.

Then, for example, the Euro dropped 50% relative the dollar on the FOREX because of bad economic news or too much of a interest rate cut and investors didn't want to buy their lousy returning bonds. Similarly, news comes in that Intels processors are crap and the stock dropped to $5/share. Now you would have to trade 2 Euros for one dollar to get your barrel of oil and trade two Intel shares to get on Microsoft share to get your barrel of oil. Intel's market cap was cut in half, and now the European Union's market cap (i.e. ability to buy oil) has been cut in half since they have 500,000 Euros float but now need twice as much to get a barrel.

Imagine Intel had 200,000 shares of Microsoft's treasury shares (untraded) (I know this can't happen but its not a perfect analogy). They sell 125,000 shares of Microsoft on the market at $10 increasing the number of shares on the market to 1,125,000 shares thereby diluting the shares which now are worth $8.75 (well this is not perfect because they probably couldn't get $10 since it would dilute the shares with each incremental sale of stock but you get the idea). They use the $1,250,000 gained to buy back Intel shares (has a market cap of $5 * 500,000 shares = $2,500,000) and can purchase 250,000 and therefore afterwards there are 250,000 shares left in circulation worth $10 a share. Now they can get better than one Microsoft share and get more than 1 barrel of oil for one Intel share.

Now imagine the European Central bank has 100,000 in dollars in reserve. They buy back 200,000 Euros which increases the circulation of dollars to 1,100,000 and decreases Euros to 300,000. Dollars increased by 10% and Euros decreased by 40% so a 50% overall increase in the amount of dollars in circulation relative to Euros. This should put Euros and dollars back to a 1:1 price parity and therefore allow one Euro to buy one barrel of oil again.

The ability to control the value of one's currency relative to the dollar is very important on a short-term basis since one needs oil each and every day. The value of a country's currency relative to the dollar tells a county how expensive oil is for that country since oil is priced in dollars. Since oil is absolutely needed, this creates a demand for all countries to hold dollar reserves to be able to help manipulate their currencies against the dollar price to ensure access to the oil.

Since extra demand is therefore created in dollars and squirreled away, it increases the U.S.'s ability to print thier currency, issue cheaper bonds, etc. without suffering losses in the value of their currency. Therefore, the U.S. can trade paper for the goods and services of other countries while the other countries squirrel it away in their reserves as a tool and security for manipulating the value of thier currency relative to the dollar so they can make sure they get the oil they need for their economies each and every day.

Anyways, again I'm no expert and sorry for the long post. I'm probably missing something and if you could point it out to me I would greatly appreciate. That's why I come here--to learn.

Patently oil, sorry to be so late in replying to your post but I was in bed when you posted last night. But there are a couple of things you do not seem to understand. You talk about "dollar bills in circulation". Only a tiny fraction of money in circulation is in the form of actual printed currency. Money is created from debt instruments and disappears when those instruments are redeemed. Money is basically a line on a ledger, or more correctly today, an entry in a computer data base. It does not exist as paper currency.

It does matter, and matter very much, in what currency a country holds as reserves. That is if it holds bonds, bills or notes in US currency, then decides to dump those bonds in favor of debt instruments of some other country, then that could dramatically affect the dollar in an adverse way. And if everyone who holds US debt decided that, the dollar could crash to a fraction of its current value and play hell with interest rates. That is, the US would have to offer much higher interest rates in order go get anyone to buy our debt instruments.

Of course it also matters what currency a country holds liquid reserves in. That is money in circulation, just not in greenbacks. But they can pay for their oil, or accept payment for their oil, in any currency because any currency can be exchanged in an instant to any other currency. There would be no need for either the buyer or seller to hold dollars in reserve.

Ron Patterson


Thank you for your reply. No problem on the timing I went to bed after I posted.

I appreciate your explanation about the dollars in circulation. I'm pretty sure you are right, but I just want to keeping working on this and put this baby to bed forever if indeed the baby is tired. This is how I try to visualize it and it might be wrong. I will use China as an example.

I guess I visualize this as a vault full of different notes in a bank in China but I know its just computer blips now. Suppose China has 1,000 U.S. Treasuries with a face value of $1,000 a piece. Suppose they also have 500 Swiss treasuries with a face value of 1,000 Francs a piece. Oil is selling $100 barrel. Yuan is trading at 7 yuan to the dollar. Yuan is also trading at 2 yuan to the franc. The franc and dollar are equal.

Now suppose China decided they didn't want to keep the value of Yuan suppressed towards the dollar anymore. They exchange their 1,000 U.S. treasuries for 7,000 yuan treasuries having a face value of 1,000 yuan. The effect of this is that there is 7,000,000 in yuan value no longer being actively traded in the world markets they are now on the shelf in the vault. In addition, there is now an additional $1,000,000 in value being actively traded in world market--they are out in the FOREX. It seems to me that the net effect of this would be bearish on the dollar and bullish on the yuan relative to all currencies. For easy numbers lets say now the dollar buys 6 yuan. In addition, since there is now more dollar assets on the market lets say the dollar only now buys 0.75 francs. In addition, since there are more dollar assets, and oil is priced in dollars, the price for a barrel of oil goes up to $110. For the Swiss the price is 82.50 Swiss francs for a barrel of oil.

Now let say that China decides to sell francs to buy even more yuan treasuries to strengthen their currency even more by taking more off the market and putting them into a vault. They take their 500 Swiss treasuries and purchase 1,000 more yuan treasuries. There is an additional 1,000,000 in yuan locked up in a vault and an additional 500,000 Swiss assets on the market. Now lets say yuan and francs are 1 for 1. But now, since the amount of dollar assets have not increased but the amount of Swiss assets have, lets say the dollar now buys 1.25 francs. In addition, since there has been no more dollars on the market the price of oil is still $110 a barrel. For the Swiss now, the price of a barrel of oil is 137.50 Swiss francs.

Joe Chocolate in Switzerland has 1,000 Swiss francs in his account. Before the Chinese sold Swiss treasuries he could have purchased about 12 barrels of oil. Now he can only purchase about 7. Joe Chocolate can no longer afford to make his house payment now since gas is more expensive and the Swiss economy suffers.

Switzerland want to protect Joe Chocolate so they hold reserves of dollar assets. They buy back those Swiss assets and put them in a vault in exchange for U.S treasuries they have been keeping in a vault for a rainy day. More dollars go out into the system so oil is now $120 a barrel, but there are now less Francs. Say the Swiss have now improved the exchange rate to 1 Swiss franc to one dollar so a barrel of oil is now 120 swiss francs versus the 137.50 before. Joe Chocolate can now afford another barrel of oil, gets current on his house payment again and the Swiss gov saves the day. The Swiss government is glad that they kept those dollar assets for a rainy day and so is Joe.

There are two markets working at the same time. The oil market and the currency market. It's confusing--and therefore I'm probably still missing something. Again sorry for the late and long post. Please point out my errors and lets put this baby to bed.

Absolutely. However, Bernanke did use the word ‘symbolic’, so without making too much of that level, it does count. Dissing the dollar, refusing to use them, etc. might be considered a barometer of anti-US opinion, which is at an all-time high. What influence exactly dollar dislike or wariness has is impossible to say and probably not worth discussing, so I stop.

Correct. Howwever, neither OPEC nor anyone one else decides what price oil is sold in. The market prices oil according to what people are willing to pay for it. It then measures that price in dollars. Transactions can be conducted between buyer and seller in whatever currency they want. Even fish, as Ron notes.

Saying that changing the currency in which the energy price is measured in matters is like saying you would need more cloth if you started measuring your shirts in centimeters rather than inches.

It doesn't matter what currency oil is priced in - it does, however, matter whether or not the currency used can float against the US dollar.

In the case of many of the oil exporters (KSA for one) their local currency is tied to the dollar - once we are past 'peak oil' this is not a good idea.

Post 'peak oil' the 'net importer' economies will almost certainly have an 'economic decline' paradigm while 'net exporter' economies can still strive for a growth paradigm - different monetary policies will be required to enable each type of economy to function.

Policies to inflate away US$ debt, for example, may be a good idea for the USA but a very bad idea for KSA, so expect the 'net exporters' of oil, at least, (maybe exporters of other products as well) to untie their currencies from the US$ soon.

'Helicopter Ben' clearly doesn't seem to care if they do, and has no control over them anyway!

Holding the US$ no longer seems a good way to store wealth long term if the products you finally buy with it are priced in some other currency.

It may be true that linking currencies to the dollar "matters" in a way that oil pricing does not. If a given country did decide to to delink, it could result in the sale of a large enough quantity of dollar assets that it could impact the value of the dollar (depending on who delinks and how big their economy is). However, it is not a policy that the US has pushed them into, or over an extended period of time really wants.

China has basically linked part of its currency to the dollar and the US has been begging them to delink it. At this point, an immediate delinking would have massive disruptive impacts. However, over time, I don't think the US really wants or needs anyone to link their currency to the dollar.

In the story that kicked off this whole discussion, Greenspan is advising UAE to delink and they are refusing. It hardly seems like some kind of underhanded plot to me.

DUBAI - The United Arab Emirates will not de-peg its currency from the flagging US dollar, the central bank governor was quoted as saying in remarks published on Thursday. His comments came after former US Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan advised oil-rich Gulf Arab states whose currencies are pegged to the dollar to float their currencies as a means to curb inflation.

Something is definitely up today. The financial news (courtesy of AOL Financial) is an interesting combination of features showing up on millions of people's opening webpages:

Bush, Fed Chief See No Recession Ahead

Stocks End Lower on Jobs, Bank Worries

Paulson Rejects Government Bailouts

Oil Surges Above $102 As Dollar Weakens

New Day, New Lows for Dollar

Economy Skids to Near Halt

Freddie Mac Posts $2.5B Loss in 4Q

Bush, Bernanke, & Paulson are all saying everything is okay. Credibility gap, anyone?

Headlines like this in one day make Chicken Little look like a flaming optimist!!

Absolutely breathtaking when a government supported entity set up to enable home ownership can piss away 2.3 BILLION dollars on stupid bets in one quarter-maybe they need to hire some more quant geniuses.

Ron Paul: Bernanke Deliberately Destroying Dollar


Watch Ron hammer benny.

Now if any OTHER Presidential Candidate like Mccain/Obama/Clinton grilled Bernanke, don't you think it would be on all the MSM.

Of course none of the others actually know how are money works.
THAT'S why you don't hear about Ron Paul.

They know how it works, and they know who butters their bread. I like Obama, but you just cannot speak the truth like Ron Paul does and come within 100 miles of the Presidency of the USA.

I watched the video and Paul basically says nobody knows exactly when the universe was created-he is absolutely correct (and I am not religious in any way).

Interesting and Troubling article.
It further explains the "will you join us" campaign.

Chevron Replaced about 11% of 2007 production

If the trend continues for Chevron, of finding 103 Million barrells for every 946 produced, thereby losing 843 million barrells per year, they have less than 13 years to get to ZERO!

Yes, and if current trends continue, the Chinese Yuan (currently at 7.115) will be worth more than the US dollar in 13 YEARS. Oil depletion isn't the only radical change occurring.

Economist Needs Help

A free-markets economist over at this site is running a fair and balanced poll on the question of whether Peak Oil is real or whether The Market will save us as it surely has done every time before.

Now lil' ole me is not suggesting that TODders go over there and put their fingers on the right side of the scales. But if it comes into your heart to do the right thing, well who am I to say that you shouldn't?

It is entirely your choice.

So it's presently tie between those who believe that PO is here, and those that believe "No, we will never reach peak oil because we will constantly innovate". So serious people on an economics site do indeed believe that we can use a finite resource at an ever increasing rate and not run out of it.

No surprise, but still irrefutable evidence that education and idiocy are far from mutually exclusive.

Meaningless questions on that poll. But IMO it's always wise to remember that the point of a poll is to find out if your message is getting across properly. Polls are a tool of propaganda, not of legitimate social science.

Polls are a tool of propaganda, not of legitimate social science.

I agree somewhat.

We are all social creatures.
We desire to be part of the mainstream.
That is the way evolution fashioned our brains.

Until I posted my "lil ole me" comment above there were only a handful of votes at the unknown PC Capitalist's site.

Now --surprise, surprise-- there is an overwhelming landslide in favor of choice "A", namely that we will "run out of oil" and the Market won't save us.

The PC Capitalist claims to be a science major. Yet he appears to believe in the power of the Market to cure all ills. The Market is actually a public poll where you put your money where your mouth is.

Time is money.
Therefore all who take time out to vote are voicing their opinion at a true cost to themselves. Thus the poll is a form of Market (a rigged one at the moment hee hee). But then what market isn't rigged? What market is truly "free" and fair? What market isn't subject to disinformation and manipulation?

Thanks for the info, 'step back.' That was fun. I usually only get to vote with dollars.

Now that the fair and balanced vote is running entirely in the wrong direction, the PCC economist (who is NOT Not-Albert) has decided to declare the debate as being "over" and has given his "last word" on the PO debate.

In other words, the competitive market in ideas is hereby officially closed due to the game not playing out the way the market creator envisioned it.

Thank you to all TODders for casting your votes in accordance with your free wills on the free and open market of ideas.

Last I looked, the poll was running 85% plus in favor of PO being real and unsolvable via "innovation".

Congratulations. Treat yourself to a big cigar.

The replies were an enjoyable read - thanks for the morning chuckle!

I'd vote if they had the obvious truth as an option:
We are either at or very near peak and oil will become harder and more expensive to produce until it is no longer economically and/or logistically possible to continue extraction.

How do people constantly misinterpret peak oil as oil running out?

In November last year a mass of option bets on $100 oil came close to pushing prices to that level. Now a large number of options are betting oil could fall to $80 by June.

Is it too much to ask that people who write articles understand a little bit about the subject they are writing about? Options are derivatives that derive their value from the price of the underlying investment, not the other way around. The second sentence is correct. They are a bet. But betting that oil is going to drop in price doesn't drive down the price of oil any more than betting on black on a roulette wheel makes black come up more often.

Moreover, the people taking out those $80 contracts are probably people who are long on oil as their major investment. Options are a common hedging strategy. You buy cheap, out-of-the-money options opposite to your investments. That way, if disaster strikes and prices move against you, the options can be cashed in to recoup some of your losses. If they don't, you just let the cheap options expire.


News Items Regarding Three Top 10 Net Oil Exporters

I estimate that both Saudi Arabia and Mexico will show 2007 net export decline rates in the vicinity of -10%/year. I do find it interesting that Saudi Aramco itself is projecting declining net exports of LPG (propane, butane), and note that Russian domestic refinery runs fell and exports fell.

Saudi Arabia LPG Exports May Start Falling in 2010, Aramco Says
2008-02-28 04:51 (New York)
By Shigeru Sato

Feb. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Saudi Aramco, the largest supplier of
liquefied petroleum gas to Asia, said its exports may start
declining from 2010 because local demand for the fuel is set to
double in four years. . . . Saudi Arabia's domestic demand for
LPG may rise to more than 20 million tons in 2012 from about
10 million this year, according to Aramco.

Russia refinery runs fall 1.5 pct in January
Thu Feb 28, 2008 11:22am EST

Transneft's total exports, which also include shipments via the Druzhba pipeline, edged down by 0.4 percent (month on month) to 4.28 million bpd.

UPDATE 2-Mexico's Pemex posts $1.48 bln 2007 net loss
Thu Feb 28, 2008 1:44am GMT

Pemex said refined fuel imports rose 14.6 percent, as its strained refineries failed to keep up with demand. Imports of gasoline alone jumped 50.3 percent.

High oil prices helped cushion Pemex's woes as the company struggled with declining yields at its huge but aging Cantarell offshore oil field. Mexico's crude oil mix sold at a heady average of $61.66 per barrel in 2007, up from $53.04 in 2006. . . .Pemex said crude production dropped 5.3 percent in 2007 to an average of 3.082 million barrels per day. Average crude (gross) exports dropped 5.9 percent to 1.686 million bpd.

ELM in action!

Drip ... Drip ... Drip! Just gentle declines and statements ... for now!

Eventually, people in general will accept that the adverse effects of peak oil are happening now ... what will be the reaction of Joe Sixpack do you think?

"Hell hath no fury like a FWO who just had his SUV repossessed and his McMansion foreclosed."

FWO = Formerly Well Off

My continuing advice to fellow oil patch types: Not a good time to drive a big black H2 Hummer with a bumper sticker saying "I love $100 oil." I have suggested an older lime green Volvo with a Greenpeace bumper sticker.

Westexas i like your view if you don't mind I really love to know your opinion about: how do you se the year 2008 unfolding ?
When do you think we will be off the undulating plateau and starting decline?
How much do you think the socio-political factor can add to the decline?

and I humbly beg an answer to this I really value your opinion and I'd like to know your opinion on these.

Sorry for my english, i'm not a native speaker.

I think that crude oil production (C+C) peaked in 2005, and like the initial Lower 48 decline, we are seeing a couple of years of slow declines in production. I suspect that the decline may accelerate in 2008.

As Matt Simmons pointed out, a lot of the recent increase in Total Liquids may be coming from some oil fields--in the last stages of depletion (e.g., Brent Field, as Euan pointed out)--blowing down their gas caps (thus boosting natural gas liquids).

I think that the bidding war for declining oil exports began to really heat up in the fourth quarter of 2007.

Leanan may think this too long, if so she can edit or delete it, but here is a portion of a memo that I sent to some of my joint venture partners:

February 26, 2008

To: Interested Parties

From: Jeffrey J. Brown

Subject: Halfway to $200 Oil--Rethinking the Value of
Overlooked Oil Fields and Low Volume Oil Wells

WTI once again crossed $100 this morning, following Tapis, Bonny Light and Louisiana Sweet crudes. In my opinion, the physical market is dragging the paper market higher--as importers bid for declining volumes of crude oil exports. Enclosed is my simple mathematical model for a hypothetical net oil exporter, the Export Land Model (ELM), which I think tells you what you need to know about what is happening in world oil markets.

Meanwhile, in my opinion partly because of expensive energy and the demand for biofuels, food prices are going crazy. Some time this year, I expect to see the US government moving to curtail food exports--especially wheat exports. For more information, rent the following 2004 DVD (available on Netflix): “End of Suburbia: Oil Depletion & the Collapse of the American Dream).”

I have relentlessly warned anyone would listen about what is coming. Do a Google Search for Net Oil Exports, and one of my articles, “Net Oil Exports Revisited,” is generally the #1 listing worldwide, and it has some advice for a post-peak world. For more articles, search for Net Oil Exports + Jeffrey Brown.

In any case, as energy producers, we are just along for the ride regarding prices, and all we can try to do is to be net energy producers, put people to work, and try to have a positive impact in our communities.

In Peak Oil circles, there has been a raging debate regarding deflation versus inflation. My assessment for some time was that we would see deflationary effects in the auto, housing and finance sectors with inflationary effects in food & energy.

We are clearly facing the technical definition of deflation, with credit contracting because of the ongoing mortgage meltdown--we are basically paying the price for decades of debt driven “investment” in highly energy dependent low density suburban housing. However, many deflationists think that it is just a question of when, not if, that we see something approaching hyperinflation--probably after the US can no longer sell government debt instruments to foreign investors. The enduring hyperinflation example is the German gentleman in the Twenties who cashed in his life savings--and had enough money to buy a loaf of bread.

In my opinion, it is imperative that people position their assets so that they are on the non-discretionary side of the economy--ideally on the net food and/or net energy producing side of the economy.

Thanks a lot,

do you think that the decline will be an undulating zigzagged decline? I can't imagine a smooth decline like all peak oil graphs picture.

I think that the world production decline will be relatively smooth, at least for C+C.

But I think that the net export decline will probably be very steep.

And WTI just hit $102.68 - so much for prices being driven down.

Freudian slip on Marketwatch?

Free Image Hosting

New high and new record close today. While Reuters says it's a new inflation-adjusted high, AP is hedging:

Crude prices are within the range of inflation-adjusted highs set in early 1980. A $38 barrel of oil then would be worth $97 to $104 or more today, depending on the how the adjustment is calculated. A direct comparison with daily Nymex prices is difficult because historical data, gathered before the crude futures contract was created in 1983, are based on average monthly prices posted by oil producers.

Different analysts have varying benchmarks for an inflation adjusted high. For example, John Kingston, director of oil at Platts, the energy research arm of McGraw-Hill Cos., arrived at an all-time high of more than $104 a barrel, which he said adjusts for delivery costs to and from Cushing, Okla., the Nymex crude oil delivery terminal. Using his own inflation adjustment, A. G. Edwards & Sons, Inc. oil analyst Eric Wittenauer arrived at a widely-quoted estimate of $103.76.

However, an inflation calculator maintained by the Bueau of Labor Statistics estimates that $38 in 1980 is worth $97.34 today. A Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis calculator puts $38 in 1980 dollars at $99.43 today.

I'm always mystified by those inflation calculations, maybe somebody here can enlighten me. It seems to me that since a lot of our infrastructure basically depends on oil, oil price would be a driver for inflation. For example, if you look at gold and oil prices, they track pretty well, though not precisely correlated.* I know that economists try to remove the "volatile energy and food sectors" but I bet they don't account correctly for consumption of oil that goes into manufacturing goods or transportation costs for long commutes, etc.

I don't know, maybe I'm just ignorant and wrong. If I'm right, how can you adjust the price of oil for inflation if it's contributing to the inflation? It seems those "inflation adjusted" peaks for oil in 1980 keep getting higher and higher. It's like those calculations for reserves where it will become economical if the price of oil or whatever reaches X amount higher than current prices, but it seems that X is always X + "current price".

* If this is true, instead of calling for a return to the gold standard, Ron Paul should call for a turn to the "oil" standard. :)

It is the level of contribution in each case that is the factor. In housing, energy might contribute 10%. In shipping, energy might contribute 40% and so on. Lots of factors cause the rise in price of housing, energy is just one of them. You have to adjust all goods and services for inflation to have a base line. It is how they compute that inflation that comes into question. Your question is a good one and rather recursive in nature.

The same thing occurred to me. When something goes up like oil has, it is not much consolation to tell people it is not really that high if you adjust for inflation. I think it would be more meaningful to adjust oil for the change in wages.

Hello TODers,

My quick scan of the DB toplinks was enlightening on the huge emotional wording disparities in the MSM: "the misery of paying high fuel prices and high fuel taxes for motorists" as compared to the "the misery of no potable water or adequate food".

It will never happen, but it would nice if the global MSM would agree to uniformly describe the emotional difference between the easy task of filling a vehicle's gastank [or flipping a light switch] as compared to those picking through garbage and drinking bad water.

Otherwise, we will read stories of the 'miserable torment, gut-wrenching shock, and great emotional anguish' induced in the owners of yachts and private jets as they sip champagne while barely glancing at the fuel bill before handing it off to their personal assistant to do the difficult and dirty job of writing a check.

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

One growth industry for the USA as it slides is prisons-1 in 99 Americans living in a cage http://wcbstv.com/national/prison.americans.prison.2.665053.html

As an example, here is the website of

Iowa Prison Industries (that is the official name.)

Lovely handcrafted furniture at rock bottom prices, for certain customers. They publish their finances if you dig in (last I saw...)


It isn’t growth but changes in the regulation of the labor market. The latter may lead to the former.

Hello TODers,

High gold prices and inflation prompt Thais to sell heirlooms
I hope they are using these funds to stockpile vital biosolar goods: I-NPK, seeds, food grains, candles, bicycle and wheelbarrow parts, water filters, gardening tools, etc.

To me you are Mr. Fertilizer. I have made such a good amount of money because of YOU! You are the best! Take care.


SuperPower tests next generation cable on N.Y. grid

The high-temperature superconducting cables eliminate 7 to 10 percent of the energy losses of conventional copper-based cables.
Schenectady, N.Y.-based SuperPower added second-generation high-temperature superconducting cables to a project in Albany, which it said marked the world's first in-grid demonstration of the cable.

Perhaps these cables could be used to implement Alan Drakes vision of creating a super grid to power a nationwide rail system.

There is already a "super grid." Practically every developed country that uses trains uses electric trains. The exception is in North America, where trains are usually used to transport bulk materials from where they are extracted (the middle of nowhere) to more populated areas. (Even they are electric, but carry their own diesel generator.)

This "electrification of rail" stuff always sounds like "de-horsification of carriages" to me.

Your comment created an idea in my mind.. Electrification of rails by using standard diesel locamotives modified to draw power from the electrified rail if it's ON electrified rail, and then its diesel genset kicks on whenever it's on a piece of rail that's NOT electrified! ^_^

That sounds like a pretty good idea to me. You can start with rail lines where is it easier and more economic to do it. This makes the transition easier and every little bit helps.

As I understand it, the worst fuel economy during a train ride happens when it is accelerating from a standstill. Is there a better way to get the train rolling than having all the passengers push it?

Make sure all start-ups are on a hill? ;)

That would be the same hill that you put the pumped hydro on :)

Right, just lay out the railways so that the trains are always running downhill.

Calling M.C. Escher!

Sounds like the EMD FL-9
Uses 660V DC from third rail when available, diesel on other lines.

The Weekly Natural Gas Inventory Report:

Highlights: "Working gas in storage was 1,619 Bcf as of Friday, February 22, 2008, according to EIA estimates. This represents a net decline of 151 Bcf from the previous week. Stocks were 133 Bcf less than last year at this time and 87 Bcf above the 5-year average of 1,532 Bcf."

They are off and racing! It's that time again, late February and the US Gasoline Average price has taken off on what has now become its annual skyrocket flight! Already up 19 cents in 2 weeks!! Will she plateau in May like the last 2 years, or will "This Time it's different" steal the show? Place your bets now people. May is only 2 months away! I cannot see recession/rising unemployment killing demand for gasoline significantly by then. The "super high" inventory levels mean nothing when fear is in the air. I recall high and climbing inventory levels during the Israel/Hizbollah war of 2006 doing nothing to drop the price of gas and oil at the time. I can however see the possibility of a supply side interruption or some other significant event boosting the price over $4 in the space of a week, the circumstances are right.

Wow. We're starting out a lot higher than we did the past 2 years... $4 this year is a near certainty, I do think.... (US average.. Places like Cali don't count.)

And that is assuming no major natural or man-made disaster - which would push us past $5 territory.

I just went to look at the 'Exploding Wind Turbine' again, wondering why the camera was already trained on the subject, as if it was waiting for this event. It was, the failure of the braking mechanism was already known, and the police had prepared a 400meter perimeter.

This link is actually another camera, (No tree in foreground) so clearly there were a bunch of people watching and waiting for this blowup. The speed that thing is spinning is truly fantastic, but also was, I'm sure a pretty good sign to the locals that something was wrong enough not to get underneath the thing.




Sadly: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7270218.stm

The UK's first Energy Saving Day has ended with no noticeable reduction in the country's electricity usage..
The E-Day concept started life as Planet Relief, an awareness-raising BBC TV programme with a significant comedy element.

I don't get that significant comedy element. Is someone laughing about what's about to happen to us? I think someone's headed for a smack-bottom.

Dante at PeakOil.com has posted an article about the latest Oil Movements report. No free link (yet).

LONDON, Feb 28, 2008 (Dow Jones Commodities News via Comtex) -- Crude oil shipments from members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries are projected to fall by 430,000 barrels a day in the four-week period to March 15 as the peak winter season for oil demand comes to an end, U.K.-based tanker tracker Oil Movements said Thursday.

OPEC shipments are expected to drop to a total of 24.39 million barrels a day in the four-week period, down from 24.82 million barrels a day in the previous four-week period to Feb. 16, Oil Movements said.

Roy Mason, head of the consultancy, said that "the four-week change is quite dramatic" because the latest data is being compared against the seasonal high for OPEC shipments.

Oil Movements measures actual shipments, not production.

Oil prices surged in 2007 from a low of $50/barrel in mid January to close at year's end at $100.

OPEC dropping shipments by half million barrels/day in March could make last year's fluctuations appear stable in comparison.

Is this information public knowledge? If so, tomorrow may be an interesting day for oil. If not, what does this mean for the energy consumer in the spring?

Yes, it's public. While the Oil Movements report is available to subscribers only, the traders probably all subscribe. And the information ends up reported in the media within a day or two.

However, as the report notes, it's normal for oil exports to drop at this time of year.

Faber calls US Dollar a Doomed Currency

"Of course, the dollar is a doomed currency. If you pursue monetary policies like Mr Bernanke does. "

"And the philosophy behind his monetary policy is basically to target core inflation. Core inflation excludes food and energy and I don't know anyone in the world who lives without food and energy but that's what Mr Bernanke follows when he targets his monetary policy, when he looks at inflation."

"He disregards so called asset bubbles as Mr Greenspan did."

"When asset bubbles burst and they come down, then they throw money at the system to revitalise the economy."


I'm surprised no one has mentioned the obvious link between Starbucks shutting down for 3 1/2 hours and the end of the world. Didn't Tainter say that coffee shops would being to close prior to collapse?

That was in Wednesday's DrumBeat. Please try to keep up!


Solution to energy/transportation

1) solar thermal ( NOT, REPEAT, NOT, PV) in deserts
2) long distance high voltage DC transmission to populations
3) pumped hydro storage both ends of trasmission line
4) electric vehicles wih BATTERY SWITCH IN SWITCHOUT IN SECONDS not recharge
5)vacuum tunnel trains running at very high speeds everywhere

Thats, it folks. I have posted this many times, and got nothing but dumb negatives. So go to it. again. I'm goin' off and do some real work on 1 above.