DrumBeat: April 9, 2008

Raymond J. Learsy: As Oil Touches All Time Highs, Our Deparment of Energy Takes Us For Fools

Our oil whiz, Secretary Bodman of the Department of Energy, perhaps a distant cousin of "Great Job Brownie" of Katrina fame, wrote a letter to the New York Times 3.30.08 rebutting points in an editorial "Pain at the Pump and Beyond" 3.25.08, proceeding I would imagine on the assumption that everyone is as much out of the loop on oil issues as he is.

Venezuela seeks new operator for Chalmette refinery

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela is seeking to remove Exxon Mobil as the operator of its joint-venture refinery in Chalmette, Louisiana, Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said on Wednesday .

The move escalates the OPEC nation's battle with the biggest publicly traded oil company sparked by Venezuela's takeover of a multibillion-dollar oil project last year.

Enterprise Shuts Gas Line for Up to 4 Weeks on Leak

(Bloomberg) -- Enterprise Product Partners LP, the second-largest U.S. pipeline partnership by market value, shut its Independence Hub natural gas platform and a related pipeline in the Gulf of Mexico for repairs that may take four weeks.

Predicting the End of the Commodity Bubble

Is history about to repeat itself? And could Russia be an unintended victim of a commodity price bubble that will soon burst?

Carbon Dioxide Emissions Accelerating Rapidly

Global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the burning of fossil fuels stood at a record 8.38 gigatons of carbon (GtC) in 2006, 20 percent above the level in 2000. Emissions grew 3.1 percent a year between 2000 and 2006, more than twice the rate of growth during the 1990s. Carbon dioxide emissions have been growing steadily for 200 years, since fossil fuel burning began on a large scale at the start of the Industrial Revolution. But the growth in emissions is now accelerating despite unambiguous evidence that carbon dioxide is warming the planet and disrupting ecosystems around the globe.

North Dakota - the next Saudi Arabia

No question: Rising oil prices and technological progress will make it cost-effective to extract some of Bakken's shale oil and get it to market. But will that flow fundamentally challenge the peak oil thesis? From this corner, the hope seems like a stretch. The world is running low on cheap, easy-to-recover oil, of that there is no doubt. The possibility that the supply of expensive, hard-to-recover oil will keep pace with growing global demand appears dim.

Forecaster raises Atlantic hurricane number

MIAMI (Reuters) - The noted Colorado State University hurricane research team on Wednesday raised the number of tropical storms and hurricanes it expects to form in the upcoming Atlantic storm season.

The team founded by forecasting pioneer Bill Gray increased its outlook by two tropical storms to 15, and by one hurricane to eight, compared with a long-term average of around 10 and six, respectively, for a storm season.

"Current oceanic and atmospheric trends indicate that we will likely have an active Atlantic basin hurricane season," said Gray in a statement.

British Energy monopoly ‘unacceptable’

The Government fired a warning shot to potential bidders for British Energy yesterday by saying it will not tolerate the emergence of a single monopoly player in Britain’s drive to build a new generation of nuclear reactors.

Pride CEO says Mexico energy debate paralyzes Pemex

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - The chief executive of U.S. offshore drilling contractor Pride International Inc said on Wednesday uncertainty over investment rules for Mexico's energy industry has paralyzed state oil company Pemex and is making it challenging to do business there.

Calderon's bid for oil liberalization gets ho-hum reaction

MEXICO CITY — Analysts said today that President Felipe Calderon's energy reform bill is a good a start, but falls short of making the sweeping changes necessary to set Mexico's ailing state oil company back on track.

Cap-and-trade push grows in U.S.

WASHINGTON — Momentum is building in the United States for adoption of a national cap-and-trade system to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but it won't come without a titanic fight.

'Splash and dash' hits UK biofuels firm

The enormous damage being done by "splash and dash" imports of American biodiesel were highlighted today when one of the UK's leading operators, D1 Oils, said it was closing down all its refining operations in Britain after running up a £46m loss annual loss.

...Elliott Mannis, the D1 chief executive, said it was "extremely frustrating" that the company had been forced to bow out of refining because nothing had been done to stop the deluge of B99 biodiesel from the US. "It's an unbelievable situation and there is no end in sight," he added.

Car rentals go "green"

ATLANTA, Georgia (AP) -- The car rental business is slowly undergoing a green evolution, packing its fleets with more hybrids and fuel efficient vehicles.

But so far, it's been a cautious transition, since there's no telling whether consumer demand will meet the supply.

Saudi Aramco Expects Khursaniyah On-Stream This Month

(Bloomberg) -- Saudi Arabia will start adding 500,000 barrels a day of oil to its total capacity when the Khursaniyah field comes on stream this month, an official at state-run oil company Saudi Aramco said.

The "Khursaniyah field is coming on this month and within a month will be at 300,000 barrels a day," Abdulaziz al-Judaimi, vice president of new business development at Saudi Aramco, said today at the World National Oil Companies conference in London. Development work at the Khursaniyah field, on the east coast, will eventually add 500,000 barrels a day to the country's production capacity.

Aramco will add a further 250,000 barrels a day by the end of the year when its 500,000 barrel-a-day Shaybah oil field expansion, in the desert known as Rub al Khali, or Empty Quarter, is complete. "Shaybah will come on in December," al-Judaimi said.

KunstlerCast #8: The Glossary of Nowhere

When James Howard Kunstler wrote The Geography of Nowhere, it was to give people "the vocabulary to understand what's wrong with the places they ought to know best." In this installment we run down a few choice Kunstlerisms, like "parking lagoons", "nature Band-Aids" and "patriotic totems." Kunstler also tells us why the depressing topic of suburban sprawl is also really funny.

Brace yourself for electric shocks

In the Californian energy crisis of 2000-01, traders at Enron used strategies nicknamed Death Star and Fat Boy to manipulate the state’s crumbling electricity infrastructure for profit.

To this roll call of scams, is it now time to add another – the Highland Fling? The allegation is that power stations in Scotland were shut down to create artificial constraints on supply, only to be reopened, providing an opportunity for a windfall profit.

Good to the last drop

Sorry Out of Gas

In this two-part series, Nancy Tousley looks at how architecture met the demand of fuel shortages in the '70s.

Generator sales soar as South Africa fights off energy crisis

SOUTH Africans are rushing to buy generators as the country‘s power cuts become more frequent – and some suppliers are even running out of stock.

Gaza's agriculture on the verge of collapse

Deputy-minister of agriculture, Ibrahim Al-Qedra, said in a statement faxed to the press that the fishing industry alone needs 20,000 liters of gasoline and 6,000 liters of Benzene, noting that the fishing season is focused on April and May

Al-Qedra stated that the lack of fuel has led to a complete stoppage of all agricultural equipment and that machines at local canning factories have already stopped working due to lack of fuel.

'Energy poverty and income poverty are linked'

Econometric modelling is required to examine the food-fuel relationship to find out how much land use patterns are changing. How much of the price rise is due to dearer oil? There is a close link between energy poverty and income poverty.

Nigeria: The Return of Fuel Queues

Fuel queues are sad and embarrassing reminders of Nigeria's senseless dependence on imported refined petroleum products. As usual, the federal government has responded by passing the buck. The NNPC blames the development on panic-buying by consumers following threats by oil workers to go on strike. The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), the regulator of the downstream sector of the oil industry, said it had intercepted shiploads of fuel with high ethanol content, and that news of the interception led to speculation of shortage that triggered panic-buying and consequently the long queues.

Pakistan: Loadshedding swells to 7 hrs

LAHORE - The seven out of eight electric power distribution companies of PEPCO has resorted to seven-hour loadshedding on Tuesday following the implementation of decision of giving 300mw additional electricity to the Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC) coupled with the overall electricity shortfall touching the 2800 MW mark.

Pakistan: Power crisis puts authorities in an unenviable position

The new government has to adopt all possible measures to improve the supply and curtail the demand for electricity. Forcing commercial markets to conserve electricity should be has an important element in the overall power management strategy.

Bangladesh: Price hike reaches intolerable level

Chief of Army Staff General Moeen U Ahmed yesterday said, the prices of essentials have shot up to such a high level that it has been very difficult for the people to tolerate.

The tendencies of some consumers who purchase huge amount of commodities create panic in the market and rise prices of essentials, he said adding that trends of stockholding commodities by importers, wholesalers and retailers are also pushing up prices.

Calderon Says Mexico Must Act Now to Stop Decline in Oil Output

(Bloomberg) -- President Felipe Calderon said Mexico must move urgently to reverse declines in oil output and reserves and proposed allowing foreign and private companies to refine, produce and transport crude.

``We have to act now because we're running out of time and out of oil,'' Calderon said yesterday during a 13-minute, nationally televised speech from Mexico City. He spoke after his party presented an energy reform proposal to the Senate.

Mexico Pemex to issue 5 bln pesos of citizens' debt

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's oil state giant Pemex would initially issue around 5 billion pesos of citizens' bonds under a government reform plan, Energy Minister Georgina Kessel said Wednesday.

Gulf Finance House Plans $10 Billion Energy Hub in Kazakhstan

(Bloomberg) -- Gulf Finance House E.C., Bahrain's largest investment bank by market value, plans to build a $10 billion business park for energy companies in Kazakhstan, holder of 3.3 percent of the world's oil.

Thick ice halts production at White Rose oil field again

For the second time within a week, heavy ice has prompted Husky Energy to suspend production at an oilfield off the coast of Newfoundland.

Petrobras: $535 Million In Ecuador Investments On Hold

Brazil's Petroleo Brasileiro, or Petrobras, has put on hold some $535 million in planned investments in operating fields in Ecuador, waiting for a definitive solution to a contract dispute with the government, high-level Petrobras officials said Tuesday.

Petrobras is accused of breaking legal regulations by transferring exploration rights to Japan's Teikoku Oil Co., a unit of Impex Holdings Inc., in 2005.

Kazmunaigas EP: Oil Duty Could Cost $800M A Year

London-listed Kazakh oil and gas producer KazMunaiGas Exploration Production Tuesday said the financial impact of a new export duty on crude oil could be about $800 million.

..."Should the new export duty of $109.91 per ton be applied to the entire export volumes of Uzenmunaigas and Embamunaigas, the estimated annualized financial impact, before income taxes, would be approximately $800 million," the company said in a statement. "In light of an increase in the tax burden, KMG EP will be undertaking a review of its production, financial and investment plans."

Official urges China's power plants to invest in coal sector

BEIJING, April 9 (Xinhua) -- China's electricity regulator has advised major power companies to merge with or acquire coal producers and transporters to help stabilize costs and supplies.

Utilities could slow the expansion of their thermal-power capacity and instead invest in coal transport firms and mines, Zou Yiqiao, director of the price and financial supervision department of the State Electricity Regulatory Commission (SERC), was quoted as saying by Shanghai Securities News on Wednesday.

Oil, Iraq and U.S. Foreign Policy: A Way Forward

So, the results of our disastrous "oil policy" is that Exxon and Conoco Philips have been kicked out of Venezuela and are in arbitration. That can't be good for American oil interests. Russia has found ways to reduce British Petroleum's reserves in the region, and that can't be good for American interests (remember, BP is a major player in the U.S. after their takeovers of U.S. companies Amoco and Atlantic Richfield). Also, has anyone noticed recently how foreign oil majors like StatOil, Total and Eni SPA have been getting more and more business from Russia, Venezuela, and other oil rich regions at the expense of the American oil majors? This is proof that Bush's policies have been a total failure in the one area where he and his buddy Dick Cheney were supposed to be experts: OIL.

Masdar City: Not a showcase, but an ‘Entrepreneurial Eco-system’

But here’s a problem that all smart policy-makers in the oil producing countries are faced with: not only are their oil reserves expected to eventually run out (EIA estimates peak oil to be reached in year 2037), but they face also a mounting awareness around the world of the negative impact of continued dependence on fossil fuel.

Will the future look like the Jetsons or Ingalls?

Erickson, a retired IBM engineer, uses various calculations and models to predict that we are on the downward side of the peak oil boom. If he's right, Saudi Arabians will go back to riding camels and our society may look more like the Amish community than the jet-setting, cosmopolitan culture that seems to be a given as we look ahead.

"Our future is not going to be a bigger and better replication of our past," Erickson explains.

The Big Picture: Resource Collapse

We (the human we) have pushed the limits of many of the resources our civilization has come to depend upon. Oil is the most talked-about example, but from topsoil to fisheries, water to wheat, many of the resources underpinning life and society as we know it face significant threat. In many cases, this threat comes from simple over-consumption; in others, it comes from ecosystem damage (often, but not always, made worse by over-consumption).

World Made By Hand

High gas prices, the war in Iraq, the tremulous stock market: Complain all you want, but these troubling times are doing their part to fuel post-apocalyptic literature. Unlike the bleakness of style and subject in Cormac McCarthy's The Road, James Howard Kunstler's World Made by Hand is an end-of-days novel that is more a pleasure than a burden to read; it frightens without becoming ridiculously nightmarish, it cautions without being too judgmental, and it offers glimmers of hope we don't have to read between the lines to comprehend.

10 more years of research to make solar energy competitive - peak oil

Efficiency issues still make solar power a tough investment sell against fossil fuels. Research is driving to use solar energy to directly produce hydrogen from water for use as a transportation fuel.

Despite oil prices that hover around $100 a barrel, it may take at least 10 or more years of intensive research and development to reduce the cost of solar energy to levels competitive with petroleum, in the eyes of one expert.

Turning up the Heat on Coal Investing

Opponents of coal use are turning up the heat. This week, protests turned violent against a coal-fired plant being built in North Carolina by a unit of DUKE ENERGY.

Eight demonstrators from a group called “Rising Tide” were arrested after chaining themselves to construction equipment at the Cliffside facility. Others were stunned with Tasers and charged with trespassing, as police cleared the facility so work could resume.

The real reason why oil is so expensive

OPEC pumped an average 32.35m barrels a day in March, down 85,000 barrels from February. Production by the 12 members with quotas (all except Iraq) fell 30,000 barrels to 29.97m barrels a day. This is the first time output has fallen in seven months.

Oasis budget airline stops flying

Hundreds of passengers have been left stranded after the Hong Kong airline Oasis stopped flying and applied to go into liquidation.

...Soaring fuel bills have forced other airlines out of business recently, including the Hawaiian airline Aloha and the business class airline Maxjet.

Oil Services Exec Cites Weak Investment

NEW ORLEANS - Efforts to boost the supply of oil in the face of expanding world demand are being hampered by insufficient investment, despite surging crude prices, the head of a major petroleum services company said Monday.

Mexico submits oil reform proposal

MEXICO CITY - Mexico's president on Tuesday sent an energy reform bill to the Senate aimed at allowing private contractors a greater role in helping the ailing state oil company boost declining production and build new refineries.

Felipe Calderon stressed that the bill would not privatize Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, a volatile issue that has led the leftist opposition to threaten massive protests if the conservative government tries to sell off a company seen as a symbol of national sovereignty.

Venezuela to Boost Oil, Gas, Refining, Build Own Rigs

(Bloomberg) -- Venezuela plans to boost its oil and gas production, refining and reserves and ship more oil to China, an executive at state-run Petroleos de Venezuela SA said.

Venezuela will pump 3.5 million barrels a day of oil this year and 6.8 million barrels a day in 2021, Luis Vierma, PDVSA's vice president of exploration and production, said at the World National Oil Companies conference in London today. PDVSA wants to build its own drilling rigs and build a fleet of tankers to ship its oil to China, where it already sends about 300,000 barrels a day.

``There are no rigs available around the world,'' Vierma said. ``For that reason we are going to build our own rigs.'' A tanker fleet will help the nation ``capture markets in Asia,'' he said.

Venezuela, India sign joint venture in oil-gas-rich Orinoco

CARACAS (AFP) - Venezuela and India on Tuesday signed a five-year, 400-million-dollar joint venture to drill for oil and gas in Venezuela's oil-rich southeastern Orinoco region, Oil and Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez said.

BP Ceyhan Pipeline's Daily Oil Exports to Increase 16.6% in May

(Bloomberg) -- Daily Azeri crude oil shipments through a BP Plc-operated Caspian Sea pipeline to the Turkish port of Ceyhan will rise about 16.6 percent next month, loading schedules show.

BP Could Lose $20 Billion to Gazprom

The Russian government in general, and Gazprom in particular, has a history of forcing foreign oil and gas companies out of local fields through corporate and legal harassment and tax hikes. The government hasn't gone so far as to say, "leave Russia to the Russians," publicly, but you can imagine the sentiment being passed between cabinet ministers and police chiefs as they rifle through TNK-BP's Moscow offices (which they did a couple of weeks ago).

Alaska now has 2 gas pipeline proposals

JUNEAU, Alaska - For decades, Alaska has unsuccessfully pursued a pipeline project that would ship natural gas to U.S. markets to power homes and business. After years of failure and frustration, suddenly there are a pair of viable proposals on the drawing board.

Chile Power Shortage May Disrupt Mines, Spur Copper to Record

(Bloomberg) -- An energy shortage in Chile may do for copper what cuts in electricity supplies did for platinum in South Africa -- spark a record-setting rally in prices.

OPEC Countries Pumping Less Crude On Maintenance: Survey

LONDON -- OPEC member countries pumped 110,000 barrels of crude oil a day less in March than they did in February, according to a survey released by Platts. Platts said much of the decline is related more to maintenance work in Nigeria and Venezuela than any shift in philosophy.

Dems push for forcing Iraq to spend its oil surplus

WASHINGTON — Democrats plan to push legislation this spring that would force the Iraqi government to spend its own surplus in oil revenues to rebuild the country, sparing U.S. dollars.

Our fool's paradise to crumble as calamities set to collide

Our life in fool's paradise is ending. Just as all humans eventually must face demise, so too the world's good times are going. Add a pinch of pollution, a few drops of peak oil, the quickening of climate change, an aging population, and we experience the bursting of the capitalistic bubble, fueled by debt, which has allowed everybody to live beyond their means: corporations, states, families, depleting non-renewable resources in the process.

China Nuclear Seeks Canadian Acquisition for Uranium Reserves

(Bloomberg) -- China National Nuclear Corp., the nation's largest nuclear power plant builder, said it is looking for Canadian acquisitions or partners to help boost uranium reserves and its plans to sell reactors in North America.

The state-owned company is considering options including takeovers and supply agreements that range in value from ``several hundred million dollars to more than a billion,'' Cui Jianchun, general manager of subsidiary CNNC Finance Co., said in an interview in Toronto.

Low-carbon living takes off in the US

Cohousing offers a low-carbon lifestyle, and developers are poised for a market that could soon burgeon in the US, according to a new study. Until now, cohousing has occupied a niche market in the US, but the paper by Dr Jo Williams at UCL (University College London) suggests the situation is changing. Cohousing not only helps to halve energy use, it offers health and social benefits for families and older people seeking secure and affordable homes.

Food price rises threaten global security - UN

Rising food prices could spark worldwide unrest and threaten political stability, the UN's top humanitarian official warned yesterday after two days of rioting in Egypt over the doubling of prices of basic foods in a year and protests in other parts of the world.

Sir John Holmes, undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs and the UN's emergency relief coordinator, told a conference in Dubai that escalating prices would trigger protests and riots in vulnerable nations. He said food scarcity and soaring fuel prices would compound the damaging effects of global warming. Prices have risen 40% on average globally since last summer.

Spain's worst drought for a generation leaves water and comradeship in short supply

Spain is suffering its worst drought in more than four decades, pitting the country's regions against each other in a fierce battle over water resources.

Airbus boss says aviation unfairly targeted over climate change

AUCKLAND (AFP) - The aviation industry is being unfairly targeted over climate change and future reductions in aircraft emissions should be based on technological innovation rather than regulation, Airbus chief Tom Enders said Wednesday.

"We think it's a little bit unfair that the aviation sector is singled out for attack by many environmental groups, maybe because we are more visible than other groups," Enders told a media briefing in Auckland.

White House hopefuls woo Gore, focus on climate

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic White House hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama speak often about green jobs, emissions cuts and renewable energy. But they have more than global warming on their minds when they talk of environmental policy.

The long-term goal may be saving the planet, but the short-term one is winning the backing of former Vice President Al Gore.

Take the Cold Train


Diesel run refrigerated unit train. Electrified trains would be significantly better, and I hope more common.

The only other refrigerated train that I am aware of in the USA are two unit trains run by Tropicana from Florida to the Northeast. Does anyone know of any other ?

Food requiring refrigeration is otherwise run by trucks (with separate diesel refrigeration units).

Live cattle (farms to feedlots) are another "truck only" food transport.

Best Hopes for Food by Train,


What happened to the "Pacific Fruit Express?" the joint venture between the former SP and their current owner UP. You still see the cars, some with the chutes for the ice. My impression was it collected fresh produce up and down the Central Valley and delivered it posthaste to points east. Made obsolete by subsidized interstate trucking?

UP is still in the refrigerated freight business. In fact, they've been expanding their fleet fairly rapidly. They currently have 3500 50' refrigerated boxcars and 1500 64' cars (all 1500 64' cars have been purchased in the last 5 years). They also carry more than a small amount of refrigerated cargo in containers on their intermodal trains.

"Pacific Fruit Express?"

sounds like the plot of "east of eden"



"The first train loaded with seasonal produce left the new Railex facility in Wallula last month, carrying the equivalent of 200
truckloads of onions, potatoes and apples bound for the East Coast.

Though some might balk at the cost of the nearly $58 million invested in the Railex project, which was subsidized in part by
state, local and federal dollars, it is a boon for the state of Washington.

A 55-car train will leave here each week, taking the freshest crops of each season to Rotterdam, N.Y., where Railex has
constructed its second facility including a repackaging line....."

I recollect they may have added a second unit train every week.

While I'm generally sympathetic with your EOT efforts, Alan, might I just question whether we really need to be transporting this perishable produce cross country at all, or at least to the extent that we do? Many of us believe that the most energy efficient produce is that grown in one's own local community, preferably in one's own back yard.

A very good point.

Local production of fruits and vegetables in California and Florida exceeds the capacity of local markets to absorb. OTOH, the Northeast cannot feed itself and has many months of no or greenhouse only production.

Current dietary guidelines suggest five servings of different fruits and vegetables/day. Hard to do in NYC in February from local production.

Substituting non-oil transportation (hopefully largely run by renewable power in the medium term future)for oil based transportation seems to be the easier path than changing American dietary habits, perhaps for the worse.


Alan, no disrespect but gauging by your posting in nearly every thread it appears to me that your obsession with electrified rail is also a compulsion.

I'm bemused and simply fail to comprehend what you envisage.
Firstly I think we should evaluate volumes and what rail transport is used for now, then extrapolate that data to what we expect in the future.
A reasonable assumption as to where we are heading, is to look at how rail transport was utilised at about the turn of last century.

Thinking that we will have BAU to utilize and pay for the modified and expanded infrastructure is just magical thinking.
If we have BAU then we will have more commuters, commuting to their jobs which will transport their goods by rail.

Now of course if the economy contracts or a recession/depression ........................much less commuting, no money to pay for commuting.
Less jobs, less money to pay for goods transported by rail, as in fuel, new cars and trucks, grain, ores, various refined food, beer, wine, milk, livestock, steel, aluminum, fruit and consumer goods.

Who do you expect to pay for the conversions and expansion? I doubt the private sector will, not unless they forecast a mid to long term profitable return.

Just because France has a vision of electrified everything does not make them right. I find it hard to believe they see and understand the big picture. If they see themselves as an island of self sustainability they are in for quite a rude shock. I simply ask, what will they need a high speed commuter train service for?

Summing up my opinion.
I suspect that the transport problem will sort itself out. It's low priority. There will be time to adjust and business will adjust or it won't. Being proactive on a large and costly scale would take quite a fair bit of faith and conviction. Maintaining the ability to react, IMO is the better option.

Now of course if you see society breaking down due to a lack of transport, business shutting down because people can't get to work.
People starving because ICE trains can't transport bulk grain or livestock or packaged food. Riots because new cars are not being delivered, or beer and wines being in short supply, then I understand your obsession.

Thinking that we will have BAU to utilize and pay for the modified and expanded infrastructure is just magical thinking.

And the alternatives are?

No. Really. What are the alternatives?

Either the government will do it directly (nationalization) or indirectly via tax breaks, or changes in regulation to attract capital.

Who do you expect to pay for the conversions and expansion? I doubt the private sector will, not unless they forecast a mid to long term profitable return.

The private sector. Via shipping costs. And increased taxes. And a spot o land grab via emirate domain.

Besides - if we are generating most of the power via renewables like wind and solar, electrified transport makes for a great dump load. In the case of moving say ore - if the ore takes a bit longer to arrive - its not like the ore is going to spoil.


People Starving. Riots.

These hyperbolic assumptions don't show your own thinking as seeing the big picture here, or really listening to the proposals that Alan has put forth. Did you ever get a chance to read this?
>> http://www.lightrailnow.org/features/f_lrt_2006-05a.htm
"A 10% Reduction in America's Oil Use in Ten to Twelve Years
An Overlooked, Practical, and Affordable Approach Using Mature Existing Technology"

While Alan's hardly proposing we simply maintain today's BAU model, his 10% article at Light Rail Now is focused on proactive steps to fortify our transport sector, not replace it. France, nestled snugly into Western Europe could hardly be accused of seeing itself as an island of self-sufficiency, while she's clearly taking steps to improve sustainable transportation and energy options.

"I suspect that the transport problem will sort itself out. It's low priority."
- Well that's the question, I guess.


One way of looking at the post-Peak Oil situation (and there are several valid POVs, recall a half dozen blind men examining an elephant) is:

Each nation will be able to afford only so much oil, domestic production plus what their exports can buy.

The default solution to making oil burned = oil available is reduced economic activity (see today ?).

Creating a Non-Oil Transportation system with the ability to expand capacity quickly, rapidly and economically (average costs lower as volume expands) creates an alternative solution to "reduced economic activity". As oil gets tighter, a higher and higher % of transportation shifts from oil based to non-oil transportation.

Non-oil transportation creates a viable alternative to simply doing without, and the economic contraction/destruction that goes with that.

As for inter-city railroads, all that is needed is additional public subsidies (could be largely paid for by reduced subsidies for road repairs caused by heavy trucks). The industry wants a 25% tax credit for capital improvements. Increasing that to 33% would certainly spur major improvements.

BTW, the cost to do what I propose for inter-city RRs would cost somewhere between $250 and $400 billion. Expensive if the bulk of that was spent in the first decade (as I hope it would be), but hardly societies largest expenditure.

Best Hopes for NOT sitting back and waiting some more,


I do support electrification of existing railroads. Rail mass transit over newly built lines is something I have a problem with because the capital cost is so high. Not to mention the maintenance cost we've seen with light rail here in California.

1) Much cheaper than new highways, or maintaining them.

2) France can afford 1,500 km of new tram lines, for an estimated 22 billion euros (Purchasing Power parity 1 euro = $1.12).

US costs are are multiplied by our "Ration by Queue" system, We just need to learn to be as fast as efficient as French bureaucrats.

Best Hopes for Fast, Cost-Effective Urban Rail,


"Thinking that we will have BAU to utilize and pay for the modified and expanded infrastructure is just magical thinking."

How is it magical thinking to allocate current resources to increase efficiency and attack a supply and infrastructure problem practically? We have the power in hand to change now. Why shouldn't we? It's not Alan who suffers from magical delusions. It's your voodoo doomsday black magic that is out of touch with reality.

The current trucking system is wasteful, inefficient and places unnecessary strains on current FF supply. If we can shore up, leverage, and expand existing rail infrastructure and reduce consumption by 10% it provides a practical mitigation to the peak oil problem.

We are not necessarily short on resources now. We have severely misallocated billions in Iraq that could be building comprehensive renewable and more efficient energy infrastructure at home.

As the old oil infrastructure attempts to drag us over the cliff of peak oil, we will need new infrastructure to keep civilization in place. Certainly, there is a danger of system-wide infrastructure crash -- but only if we ignore the problem, fail to build mitigating infrastructure, and otherwise fail to respond appropriately.

As for France -- they will likely be in a better position to weather the crisis than we will if we continue to fail to act.

What is most shocking to me is not Alan's focus on trains as part of the solution to peak oil, but the assumption by some on this board that a return to cart and buggy days is inevitable or even desirable. We should fight tooth and nail to preserve and improve the systems we have while shedding ugly fat (Wal-Mart, suburbia, SUVs etc) and transforming as much as we can.

We can go local and still have cars -- just smaller ones that we use less because we don't need them so much. We can use trains more for long distance transport and travel. We can have less aircraft aloft but still have a higher priced option for jet travel (and potentially more efficient turboprops on biofuel) with hydrogen powered aircraft as a future, post crisis, potential. We can replace natural gas and coal with solar and wind with energy storage and a new generation of nuclear plants. We can increase battery and electric power for industrial tools that build things like X2G autos, farm, mining, and metal producing equipment. In essence, we can leverage our fossil fuel endowment to transition to a non-fossil fuel economy. It will not be BAU. It will be an economic revolution in response to crisis.

Or we can hunker down, watch the system crash, and pray to the gods we can grow enough food ala Kunstler. Perhaps that is our ultimate fate. But people like you would have us go down into a very dark hole without even a peep of protest.

Marston you are the biggest jackass posting here.
There you go again making things up you wish ot thought I said.

You are full of fanciful garbage you say should be done. No explanation on how it will eventuate but you continue with the rhetoric anyway.
Try and imagine yourself in a boardroom..............
Tell them they should renew and expand infrastructure now, because it will be needed in the future.
Answer all the questions, you are only a halfwit but you should be able to think of a few they might ask.

Re: The real reason why oil is so expensive

IMO, a key test of where we really are with peak oil was how oil producers would react to $100/bbl oil. As OPEC slightly increased production late last year and into this year, I wondered whether this was a sustainable increase, or whether they had just pulled out all the stops to squeeze out every drop. If the latter, then we could expect production to back off, even if oil stays high.

Things are both the same, as in the Seventies, but yet different.

Same in the sense that Saudi Arabia and the world are now where Texas and the Lower 48 were at in the early Seventies. From 1972 to 1980, we saw a 1,000% increase in oil prices and the biggest drilling boom in US history. So, what we saw was the following equation: Higher Oil Prices + Increased Drilling = Lower Crude Oil Production.

Different in the sense that we are now pretty much out of "world," in the sense that we are out of large conventional oil fields that will allow us to continue to show material increases in production, so I expect to see: Higher Oil Prices + Increased Drilling = Lower Crude Oil Production.

I expect nonconventional production to slow the rate of decline.

And of course, IMO the ELM factors are going to produce a sharp asymmetrical post-peak decline in net oil exports.

Well, OPEC has been saying recently that "the world doesn't need more oil," or something to that effect (I can't seem to find hte article I read yesterday), and as such they won't increase production. So the real question is how much of that decision is because they don't want to increase production and how much of it is because they can't.

Of course, I see a middle ground where they feel if they give up their last bit of spare capacity now then it will quickly become evident that their oil fields, overall, are in slipping into decline. If they hold off on tappng whatever spare capacity they have to keep those production rates as level as possible they can keep the illusion (of spare capacity) going longer.

Who knows, maybe they will even "decide" to lower production soon.


I think that OPEC is correct. The worldwide supply of oil does meet demand. Of course, as prices escalate, demand is destroyed therefore supply can go down... and tada... worldwide supply of oil still meets demand. OPEC can keep saying "supply meets demand" as oil production declines year after year because prices will just keep rising to destroy the demand.


U.S. Will Approve New Nuclear Reactors


One of the U.K.'s top nuclear officials said today that she was told the U.S. will okay plans to build the first nuclear power plants since the accident at Three Mile Island nearly three decades ago. Lady Barbara Thomas Judge, chair of the U.K. Atomic Energy Authority, said that the chair of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission informed her that the NRC will approve three applications for new nuclear reactors that it's currently considering.

This happened yesterday - a fission plant was shut down and 400 people were evacuated.

To paraphrase one of the contributors on the right side of your screen 'if the energy peak is not addressed it will be a failure of politics, not of technology'.

So I'm going to ask - given the past demonstrated failures (AGW, sleeping fission guards, conflicts over oil, ... whatever particular failure one sees) what's the plan to change the non-technical aspects so that the 'failure of politics' does not occur?

(and because I only wanna make one post - the links I promised someone http://www.vivelecanada.ca/article/235929840-sick-people-or-sick-societies gets you to http://podcast.cbc.ca/mp3/ideas_20080303_4892.mp3 and http://podcast.cbc.ca/mp3/ideas_20080310_4869.mp3)

Parts of the Point Beach nuclear power plant in Manitowoc County were briefly evacuated after a nearby convenience-store clerk misunderstood a comment of a new employee.

The clerk told Two Rivers police that a man entered her store Tuesday about 7:15 a.m. and asked for directions to the power plant. As the man was leaving, the clerk heard him say he "came to blow up the place."

Run for the hills!

And what he actually said was "It's my first day at work so I hope I don't blow up the place." Oh dear...

But according to the Administration, this is the sort of paranoia we must have in the age of terrorism. So guard the reactors like it's always 9/11 or give up the paranoia.

Don't hear about too many terrorist attacks against wind turbines.

Don't hear about too many terrorist attacks against wind turbines.

You haven't heard of the hundreds of thousands of Neotropical migratory kamakazi songbirds who have been waging jihad against wind turbines?

not to mention don quiote

Windmills are so useless, why bother?

And rather, we guard nukes like it is the day BEFORE 9/11.

I went to a seminar yesterday given by David Mohon, a technology development supervisor for Southern Company, the largest electric utility in the Southeastern US. He talked about the pros and cons for the different sources of electrical generation in our area and what he saw the company doing in the next 20-30 years. For starters he read their official policy statement on climate change and CO2 which essentially says they acknowledge its a problem and are committed to addressing it but not in a way that is economically harmful. But it did lead him to conclude that new coal was off the table, at least until there is sound technology for carbon capture.

Turning to renewables, he showed maps of the relative resource for both wind and solar. This showed the relatively poor resources compared to the West and Southwest respectively and he concluded from this that they were off the table. I asked him about the likelihood of capturing it out West and shipping it east but this quickly led to a discussion of line losses. I was left with the impression that we will be sitting in the dark before anyone voluntarily gives up market share or even the perceived risk of losing market share. Given the talk at TOD for production out west with HVDC connecting east what we need is a cost comparison for this against just producing with the poorer resource in the east. Does anyone know if this exists?

His final conclusion was that in the next 20 years its nuclear and gas (with at least a recognition of the issue of reliability of supply for gas) going forward supplemented with as much biomass as we can figure out how to use. Returning to coal, at one point he did mention that even if we don't burn it we will export it and someone else will. And as HO might say, when reliability becomes an issue, people will demand that we burn it here. Hah, perhaps that has been the strategy all along.

HV DC line losses are close to 5% per 1,000 miles. This makes imports from Texas and Oklahoma economic (if we can get around ERCOTs refusal to be under FERC regulation for inter-state commerce).

The Southern Company has many possibilities for small hydro (not so good for large utility, too much overhead IMVHO). Rule of thumb is that paperwork for small hydro makes >10 MW uneconomic. Many small units (mainly in NE) are removed when 50 year recertification comes up.

If you can show him plans for Grand Inga (44 GW hydro).


Best Hopes for Expanded Thinking,


Longer term, superinsulation may help transmission of electric via superconducting cables:

Led by Argonne senior scientist Valerii Vinokur and Russian scientist Tatyana Baturina, an international team of scientists from Argonne, Germany, Russia and Belgium fashioned a thin film of titanium nitride which they then chilled to near absolute zero. When they tried to pass a current through the material, the researchers noticed that its resistance suddenly increased by a factor of 100,000 once the temperature dropped below a certain threshold. The same sudden change also occurred when the researchers decreased the external magnetic field.


Why would this help? Line loss is a factor of the conducting material(conductors have free valence electrons in an outer orbit), it's cross-sectional area and the line current (Line loss (W) = I^2 X R).

Existing system line losses are relatively low due to high voltage transmission (up to 750,000 volts). High voltage, lower current = lower line losses.

I remember working on contract with Ontario Hydro in the early nineties and they were playing around with super conductors then. The problems are still the same; they require complex high energy input processes to produce. To switch over the grid to this would be an enormous undertaking. We could triple the efficiency of our electrical distribution system by:

- Locating generation near where it is to be used most.
- Utilizing the remaining steam thermal energy in the turbine exhaust
for district heating/cooling loops.

This would minimize thermal pollution in lakes, reduce GG emissions
and conserve natural gas.

We have the technology now to do it..... We just don't have the political leadership.

The steam exhaust from a electrical generator's turbine is typically about 120 deg F - one can put one's hand on the metal. The steam is at a high vacuum (a couple of inches of mercury or <10 kPa - kiloPascals.) No way to use that low grade energy for district heating although some plants in Asia use it for heating swimming pools for the locals. One could exhaust higher temperature steam but at significant efficiency costs.

Electrical line losses are only partially due to resistance to current - that's why one operates long transmission lines at 500,000 or one million volts. The other losses are inductance and corona - the former requires "imaginary power" (VARs) from the generator that requires real shaft horsepower from the turbine and hence uses more fuel.

What happens when locates a generator near a load? Consider Indian Point nuclear station near New York City - constant complaints about imaginary fears. On this I agree - we have the technology for close sitin but lack the political will.

That was an april fool article. A joke.
There are materials (the lanthanum rhodium borides) that become superconductors when they get cold enough and then stop being superconductors when they get even colder.

Canada has several nuclear plants within urban areas, notably Pickering in Ontario.

Latent heat is latent heat. The fact is about 60% of the thermal energy in a steam generation system is lost in cooling the turbine exhaust steam. 120 degrees is a perfect temperature for water loop heat pumps and absorption cooling.

My point is that instead of going after 5 to 10% of the problem with expensive energy intensive techno-fairy ideas, maybe we should go after the 60% that could be captured with existing.

At some point in time energy will be expensive and scarce enough that people will accept it in their back yard. They have no choice.

May I suggest a quick review of thermodynamics? A serious study of the principles of that field will clarify my assertions for you.

There has been some discussion of superconducting cables among precious metal 'bugs' especially re silver and its limited supply (peak silver?). I can see superconducting possibly working for certain niche applications, but I would question the feasibility of large-scale application because of possible shortfalls in necessary ingredients, high cost and high criticality of the technology involved, etc. I may be wrong on this, but I don't see superconduction as playing a big part in our energy future.

if we can get around ERCOTs refusal to be under FERC regulation for inter-state commerce

I was recently pointing at ERCOT's refusal as a wonderful example of local-local-local and the need for communities to become mostly sufficient within their "visible horizon".

Many small units (mainly in NE) are removed when 50 year recertification comes up.

The recent dam relicensing with which I'm familiar is 75 year terms without fish ladders. Negotiated in secret until someone blew the whistle. Other issues about water level, etc... as well. That means the elimination of Atlantic eel and salmon and whatever chain reactions that causes.

To my mind, giving those dams to the communities along the rivers and requiring the protection of the environment - fish ladders - is a necessary part of ELP. We can't take power for very long if we destroy the web of life.

One can do great destruction to the environment within the "visible horizon", but one can have no influence over what happens out of sight. Political responsibility, economic responsibility, environmental responsibility and community all have to be coterminous. Otherwise we end up with a virtual trade in energy, water and commodities that drags us all down in the not-quite-short run.

cfm in Gray, ME

This makes imports from Texas and Oklahoma economic

Is this west texas to NO? Do you then think it's unlikely that Arizona CSP will ever power Atlanta?

Do you then think it's unlikely that Arizona CSP will ever power Atlanta?

Very rarely.

Consider HV DC lines from Texas et al going both East & West to export wind power (time of day delta, climatic differences so they can wheel between them).

Fine clear spring day, minimal demand in CA & PHX, enough wind in Texas to meet local demand and export a bit. Enough Solar plus wind plus hydro plus geothermal to meet West Coast demand with some left over.

Reverse HV DC line to Texas, jumper to Texas > East Coast HV DC line and export a bit of power across 3 or 4 time zones.

Not a Big Deal IMVHO,


When I lived in Atlanta, the Southern Company was rather vocal against solar. I recall Georgia Power building a showcase solar house, using PV on the roof. Their message was that solar worked but was way too expensive. After the house had been shown for a while, the PV panels were removed and the house sold as a normal McMansion. The house didn't have solar heating or hot water, as I recall, and I don't know about the level of insulation.

One of the big problems with renewables is storage, since the renewable sources tend to have considerable variability. Did he speak about the need for the utility to add storage, such as pumped hydro or some of the large battery arrays now available? Pumped storage with nuclear would allow the baseload of nuclear to supply the peak load now provided by natural gas or coal plants as well as matching the power provided by solar and wind with the demand. Several years ago, the TVA proposed building a batch of windmills near where I now live. As part of the proposal, they included building a storage system based on a reversible chemical fuel cell, designed by a British company. After the TVA proposal was shot down by the local NIMBY's, the British company folded and was purchased by the German electric utility.

If one looks at where the energy use happens in a house, much of it goes toward HVAC and hot water production. In the talk and discussion afterwards, did Mohon mention conservation measures, such as time of day pricing, demand modification and building efficiency retrofits? Or, was he just presenting a Business As Usual scenario, without any attempt to change what would happen at the end of the line?

E. Swanson

"One of the big problems with renewables is storage, ...
If one looks at where the energy use happens in a house, much of it goes toward HVAC and hot water production. ..."

- those two items need to be linked. The best "storage" is at the end user. That's for two reasons:

* usage can often be put off until power is available (or cheaper), if one is willing to be flexible. E.g., wash clothes late at night rather than early evening.

* some actual "storage" is built into houses, e.g., if you cool the house overnight (and it is decently insulated) it won't heat up fast during the day. If you have a large well-insulated hot water tank, you can have plenty of hot water for many hours after your smart switch turns the heating element off to avoid using peak-priced power.

The talk assumed business as usual. There was even a graph of projected demand going out to 2040 or 50 and it was a straight line from the 80's on up. There was no discussion of conservation as a strategy, nor, to my surprise, did the question session ever go there.

I should have mentioned, he was primarily discussing base load so there was no discussion of storage. But I'm a bit confused with your assessment. I can see that storage would allow nuclear to not only offset base but also peak capacity. Wouldn't one need either storage or extra peak capacity to use any solar or wind unless it was offsetting existing peak capacity?

There is a huge misconception about solar panels on existing or new housing not being economical. Although there are certain cases where remote locations would need stand-alone systems most urban cases are grid tied systems.

Here is how the grid-tied program works in California:

Under Net Metering Laws CA Utilities are required to purchase excess energy back from energy producers (residential or commercial) during times of less usage. This is given as credit back to the utility user up to zero consumption*. During the day when you are producing more than you need you are a seller. At night when the system stops producing you are a buyer. This eliminates the need for batteries or generators which brings the cost for a system down signifigantly. You do however need an inverter that converts DC power to AC power.

Another advantage CA has is a 5 tiered utility billing system that penalizes high energy users.

The first tier covers the first 290 KWh and at a rate of say $.15 per KWh. The next tier goes up to say $.18 and so on. Once you get above say 750 KWh your costs could be as high as $.45 a KWh. This in effect subsidizes low income people and retirees which drives Republicans crazy!

So if you are consuming less than 500 KWh per month it would be financially less rewarding to purchase solar panels. You might feel good about it but the payback (even with rebates and tax credits) could be 12 to 15 years. But if you have a large McMansion (2500 s.f. or greater) with kids and all of the computers, TV's and appliances then you are probably looking at 1200 to 1500 KWh per month. If you purchase a system that generates enough energy to handle 60-80% of that average use you will be selling or using top tier power and buying tier one & two power. This makes the payoff in as little as 5-7 years.

With rebates covering approximately 25-30% of up-front costs and Federal rebates adding another $2,000 solar looks like a real good buy in CA (if you use a lot of energy). Although this doesn't solve the energy crises for CA it is a large part of the solution, particularly during peak hours (May through September 1 to 5 p.m.)


*This precludes individuals or businesses with land or roof space from being a producer of energy and recieving income from the utility. This is the next legislative hurdle CA is going to address. Once that opens up it will be the engine that will drive the solar revolution in America.

So much misinformation, so little time. Where does one even begin?

Wind. No, it is not true that wind resources in the SE are relatively poor. Take a look at any US map of wind resources and you'll see the southern Appalachians show up brightly colored. Our problem with that is not lack of resource, but a conflict of values: renewable energy vs. viewshed protection. Right now, viewshed protection is valued more highly. If it gets to the point that we will be sitting in the dark, as you say, then attitudes might change.

There is also offshore wind. Again, you've got the same type of value conflicts wrt viewshed protection, just like the Cape Wind project up in Nantucket. This conflict keeps cropping up over and over again with wind, it is not something unique to the SE US.

Solar. True, the SW US is probably a better locale for CSP megaprojects. But the SE is the "sunbelt", it will be quite feasible for many people to put PV panels on their roofs. This won't cover 100% of demand, but with net metering it will definitely help. Even more feasible and affordable are solar water heating and solar space heating. Widespread installation of these could substantially reduce residential electrical demand.

Not mentioned: Oceanic. I am using the term "oceanic" to combine a number of different technologies: tidal, wave, deep ocean current, and thermal gradient differential. These are in differning stages of development, but the potential is huge. The SE US has a long ocean coastline and is well positioned to exploit these.

Not mentioned: Biogas. The anaerobic digestion of agricultural and municipal wastes to produce methane would only be a minor source of energy, but every little bit helps. It is renewable, and it is local. This won't directly help with electricity (unless the biogas is used as a feedstock for electricity generation, which is not its best use), but to the extent that it might allow users of natural gas or propane to avoid having to switch to electricity, it can at least help to limit future increases in electricity demand.

Biomass (other than biogas). Wood is the big one, it has traditionally been the main source of residential heat in much of the SE until recently. We don't have enough to heat every home, but we could heat a lot of them, and these would be homes not demanding electricity to power heat pumps.

Also not mentioned: Hydro. The really big resources were already tapped by the TVA, but there are still lots of potential mini-hydro opportunities out there. This will only be a small drop in the bucket, but every little bit helps.

Nukes. The SE already has a large fleet of nuclear reactors, which provide a higher percentage of our power than is typical in many other parts of the country. More are on the way. I don't like them, but like them or not we're going to have them.

Also not mentioned: Conservation. This is the really big one, the grand prize. There is definitely lots of potential out there.

Venezuela (link above) produced 3.28 mb/d of C+C in 1970 and their production has been falling ever since. In December their output was 2.44 mb/d, down 840 kb/d from their peak. Now by the end of the year they will be producing 3.5 mb/d on their way up to 6.8 mb/d in 2021.

But wait, you ain't heard nothing yet:

PDVSA wants to build its own drilling rigs and build a fleet of tankers to ship its oil to China, where it already sends about 300,000 barrels a day.

That's right, they are going to build their very own drilling rigs. Then they will build their very own tanker fleet. Of course they must first build their own shipyard with the enormous dry docks that will require. These guys really have grandiose plans.

Has Chavez gone mad? Does he really believe this crap? Does he expect anyone else to believe it? Or, is this just propaganda for local consumption? Do his people even believe it? Well, perhaps they do.

Ron Patterson

That's right, they are going to build their very own drilling rigs. Then they will build their very own tanker fleet. Of course they must first build their own shipyard with the enormous dry docks that will require. These guys really have grandiose plans.

Has Chavez gone mad? Does he really believe this crap? Does he expect anyone else to believe it? Or, is this just propaganda for local consumption? Do his people even believe it? Well, perhaps they do.

They are trying to guarantee that the country survives the peak oil. Any country should have a number of industries (including heavy like shipbuilding) to satisfy minimum needs which arise after the peak oil. I don't think you could rely on international trade after the PO.

Can they do it? With China's help I think they can.

P.S. Some countries like Spain or Turkey rely on tourism, but in my opinion soon the number of tourists will increase sharply and they will be heavily armed too :)

Can they do it? With China's help I think they can.

Right! And with China's help they can increase their oil production by 280% by 2021. Fat chance. Venezuela is in obvious decline. Their current production is 2.44 mb/d and falling. Of course they do have the Orinoco Bitumen.

Current Orinoco Bitumen production is about 600,000 barrels per day. Venezuela is slowly increasing production from the bitumen belt. However increases from that area are not keeping pace with declines from Lake Maricopa and other areas.

But surely you are aware of Chavez’s tendency to exaggerate. The IEA, EIA, BP and everyone else says Venezuela’s oil production is around 2.4 to 2.5 mb/d. However Chavez insist that Venezuela is producing 3.3 mb/d. See Venezuelan Oil Stats War.

Chavez wants everyone to think Venezuela is producing a lot more oil than it actually is producing. And he wishes everyone to believe that they can produce almost three times as much in the future. And he wishes everyone to believe he can build his own oil rigs and tanker fleet. Either the man is mad or he is just a plain liar, or both.

Ron Patterson

"Lake Maricopa"

i think you mean lake maricaibo. maricopa is a county in arizona, wickenburg area, i think.

Lake Maracaibo. Maricopa county is best known for including the Phoenix metropolitan area, tho Wickenburg is on the northern border of Maricopa.

Robert a Tucson

"Venezuela (link above) produced 3.28 mb/d of C+C in 1970 and their production has been falling ever since. In December their output was 2.44 mb/d, down 840 kb/d from their peak."

Ron, that's a very modest decline in 38 years. Care to elaborate? Thanks

Yes, I will elaborate. The total production includes 600,000 bp/d in new production from the Orinoco Bitumen. If you only look at their regular oil, they are producing 1.84 mb/d down from 3.28 mb/d. That is a decline of over 56%. That is not very modest.

The Orinoco Bitumen is rather like the Canadian Oil Sands. It is very heavy tar that must be mined rather than pumped. They can increase production but only in the same way that Canada is increasing their tar sands output. It is very expensive to produce and requires a lot of labor and equipment. It requires a lot of natural gas and is also very difficult to refine. After all, it is TAR.

Ron Patterson

It would be a good idea for Matt Simmons to hold a block of bitumen up to the camera the next time he's on CNBC so that he can demonstrate exactly why oil sands are so difficult to use. If people see a black chunk of tar as compared to a bottle of light sweet crude it could serve as an effective visual in understanding those deficiencies.

My Error

I was looking at the wrong spreadsheet. I was looking at the monthly rather than yearly. The 3.28 mb/d for Venezuela was actually their average for 1997, not 1970. Their production in 1970 was 3.708 mb/d. 1970 was their peak however. So they declined very little from 1970 until 1997 but their decline since then has been rather sharp if you look only at regular oil.

Ron Patterson

Thanks. exactly what I thought. Using lower EROEI, heavy sources to try to make up for diminishing easier stuff.

Clearly he is mad - a sane leader would allow Western oil companies to remove that oil for him at bargain prices, while personally enriching him and his buddies.

You are awfully damn quick to condemn Chavez for having overly ambitious plans, but what would you suggest he do? I guess he could follow the US model of of political stewardship and leadership (which is working out so well for us). OK, so I agree that many hardships are coming regardless of what we do, but we sure as hell could do better than we are.

I am sure Chavez knows his production is declining, but they still have a lot of oil left, and it is increasing in value. His responsibility is to use it for the maximum benefit of his people, all the while balancing a lot of other problems. So ridicule him all you like, but he's doing a damn site better job of that that any of our leaders.

From this post and others I get the feeling that you really dislike Chavez, and I wonder why that is.

He is building Urban Rail at a fast clip, and some expansion of inter-city rail. He also finished a 2 GW hydroelectric dam started before he took office.


And you are dead wrong. I have no personal emotional feelings about Chavez whatsoever. I simply think he is nuts. When Chavez inflates his oil production by almost a million barrels per day when all the world knows he are lying tells us something very profound about the man. And when a man does such a thing then everything else he says must be taken with a liberal serving of salt. Would you not agree?

Ron Patterson

The same applies for the "leader of the free world" wouldn't you say?

Perhaps I have been conditioned not to expect national leaders to be truthful. Beyond that, OPEC states lying about oil related data appears to be some sort of contest to see who can tell the biggest whoppers. Considering that I am not a Venezuelan, what does he really owe me?

Ron--It seems clear you never took the time to read this item that I've posted now for the third time, http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/2808


Thanks for the link.

Care to refute it?

Tri-Rail Ridership Increases Almost 20% y-o-y

And this after a 10% increase in 2007 over 2006, and 2006 was a record year for this commuter rail line.


Tri_Rail has been involved in a multi-year program to double track (and improve signals, stations, etc.) their 76 mile route at the southern end of the CSX East Coast Line. On time reliability is dramatically improved over single track operations (mixed with freight) and more trains are being run.

Now if they would only electrify (run times reduced by about 15% which will reduce costs and increase ridership, no refueling issues or start-up idling (admittedly minimal in warm South Florida)).

And add service along the significantly better route of the Florida East Coast Railroad, which better serves Urban populations than the CSX route. The only Urban Rail connection is with Miami's Metrorail (elevated "subway" type service).

Ridership is expected to grow to break-even rates (they plan to reduce fares to not go above break-even).

Better is Cheaper ! :-)


Stiglitz and Bilmes note that their estimate of the cost of the Iraq war was too low - real cost will be 4-5 trillion (although their oil costs are probably debatable.)


Hungry Haitians storm the presidential palace in Port-Au-Prince:


Philippine Government ends import tariff on rice:


Food price stabilization shops opening in Bangladesh:


Indian wheat harvest estimates must be lowered:


Food Storage Suppliers running low on wheat:


Where is the hunger worst?


I have not seen or heard the Stiglitz and Bilmes reports covered in the MSM.

What's going on? Am I just not reading/listening/watching the right media -- that could be, I rarely have time for the MSM.

Does anyone else know if this is being covered explicitly -- not just a vague allusion to the cost of the wear here or there...?

I did catch some of the Congressional testimony of General You-Know-Who the other day -- what total drivel and disinformation! Those asking questions were as interested in churning out disinformation as was the person answering questions. A collaborative effort to dupe people about Iraq.

The food issues are a big deal to -- are they well-covered, or just glossed over?

You mean General Betray-us? Hat tip to---(fill in your name)

Stiglitz can be listined to here.
(This is on Against The Grain, one of the few truly great resources of media in the US)
Check Against The Grain at:

Here is another good Stiglitz site: Project Syndicate. Stiglitz posts a monthly commentary at the site...


Here is a great Stiglitz piece from yesterday;

" A deficit of leadership
Economies in crisis The greatest onus is on the Bush administration and the Fed. But can we trust those who got it so wrong to put things right?"


"The greatest onus is on the Bush administration and the Fed."

Oh... I read this as "The greatest anus is in the Bush administration....."
My eyesight is playing tricks again.

beggar - Stiglitz was on Kudlow & Co (CNBC) last night for about 10 minutes.

Their book (a href="http://www.amazon.com/Three-Trillion-Dollar-War-Conflict/dp/0393067017/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1207764354&sr=8-1"> The Three Trillion Dollar War came out a little more than a month ago. At the time there was some coverage. I've seen several interviews with them, NPR, DemocracyNow, C-SPAN, etc. The pair wrote an Op-Ed piece that ran in the Washington Post and was probably syndicated nationwide. This piece (which might be the same as the Alternet piece you posted) was also commented on by many other media outlets including CNN and Bloomberg.

Judging from the interviews I saw, I think that they have done some good research. I have yet to read the book though, because I think their conclusions aren't really a revelation to anyone that's been paying attention.

A bigger scandal that continuously flies under the radar is how shabbily we treat our veterans. I saw where a reporter compared the amount of disability awarded to veterans over the years. In 2005, the Army gave out the same amount of money for disability as they had in 2001 even though there were thousands of injured soldiers returning from Iraq.

In 2005, the Army gave out the same amount of money for disability as they had in 2001 even though there were thousands of injured soldiers returning from Iraq

WW II vets are at peak mortality (and Korean War vets are also beginning to die off).

Best Hopes for a Generation (or two) without any disabled vets,


Just back from work and family responsibilities -- it looks like some fellow TODers have noted that "Three Trillion Dollar War" and its authors have had some MSM coverage, including some on websites I've not been aware of -- that's great!

What seems odd to me is that this kind of information has not brought our nation up short, pronto!

I've not heard any Congress Persons of either party shouting and hollering about how Rumsfeld's "Who knows? Maybe six weeks? Maybe six months?" Cakewalk turned into a 5-to-100-year occupation costing at least three trillion dollars.

This kind of thing is criminal, in addition to the fact that the administration has committed the fundamental war crime of aggression against a country that had not attacked us.

So now the occupation is treated as a dirty little fact of life, we are raising the possibility of a wider war, and we are draining away precious resources -- trillions of dollars just in dollar costs -- much-needed to address peak oil and climate change preparations and mitigation strategies.

Talk about making us all less secure.

And yet so much of the political dialogue really avoids strong critique or laying out a strategy to assign responsibility and move forward.

Assigning responsibility would at least involve impeachment and turning certain US leaders over to the Hague as war criminals.

By facing up to this mess, we might yet turn more attention to the other messes in need of work.

I know -- it is simply too much to expect honesty, responsibility, or reality-based political or policy discussion.

Political reality seems to be whatever lies are convenient to manufacture for the moment. much like the way our business leaders operate -- finance, auto industry, energy industry.

The American leadership model is the Criminal Sociopath: charming, manipulative, remorseless, rapacious, and only to glad to victimize and kill for profit.

Stiglitz was featured by the PBS Nightly Business Report a couple of days ago. I also heard it mentioned by a congresscritter during one of the Petraeus hearings today.

NASA's Top Climate Scientist Says Big Oil is Hiding a "Planet in Crisis"

Global warming has plunged the planet into a crisis and the fossil fuel industries are trying to hide the extent of the problem from the public, NASA's top climate scientist says.

Eskom Wants Power Prices Doubled

South Africa's state power company Eskom has said electricity prices need to double in the next two years if is to deal with the current power crisis...

It said that the price rises would fund necessary infrastructure upgrades...

The company has blamed the problems on the government's failure to invest in electricity generation, maintenance problems at existing plants and wet weather affecting coal supplies.

Power cuts have hit consumers and industry, with mining companies having to shut down for five days in January for fear of leaving workers trapped underground. Traffic lights have been among the casualties of the power cuts.


I've been following this site for a couple of years now; thank you for all the very informative commentary.

Recently there's been a lot of media frenzy surrounding the Bakken Formation, which allegedly contains somewhere between '30 billion and 400 billion barrels' of 'recoverable' oil.

Any comments? The upper limit sounds to me more like total oil in place rather than recoverable, and frankly the whole frenzy sounds a lot more like desperation--'we'll be oil-independent!'--than anything reasonable.

Anyone have any dispassionate analysis of Bakken's actual potential?

UK Jane, I expect a lively debate on this board tomorrow concerning this issue. The USGS is expected to release a report detailing the amount of technically recoverable oil using a new horizontal drilling procedure. I would check back tomorrow, it should be interesting.

Hello theantidoomer.

I responded to one of your posts yesterday and expected a reply
I did not get any. Get this:"Recoverable reserves are not the issue. Canadian tarsands have huge recoverable reserves. What matters is how fast can you get it out, and for what energy costs (and water, in the case of tar sands).

Let it just be clear to you that any viable production rate from Bakken will have hardly any influence on the overall energy picture, if at all"

Now I'll just wait patiently again.....

Hey PaulS, I don't think anybody knows what the potential flow rates are yet from the bakken as a large using new horizontal drilling technologies. I do know that some plays are showing great numbers thus far, see:


I think its way too early to say that Bakken will have "hardly any influence on the overall energy picture." In the end you may be right, but it is WAY too early to tell. I will be patiently waiting to see what happens with the Bakken.



You said, "Hey PaulS, I don't think anybody knows..."

My bad, there is a PaulS and A Paulusp.

"detailing the amount of technically recoverable oil"

i dont think your car will go very far on gasoline made from "technically recoverable oil", on the other hand, you will save a bundle.

I first heard about it this week... 500 billion... along with 'invest quickly before the government makes the announcement public.'

IMO something that big (1/4 of all known pre-Drake reserves) would have been found back in the 1920s.

If you search yesterday's Drumbeat for "Bakken" there was some discussion.

This has been coming up a lot on political forums that I frequent. I'm hoping for some solid information from theoildrum about it. I've read what people have posted here so far but I don't feel like I know enough about it to present a compelling argument as to whether production rates from the formation will ever amount to anything. A lot of people are citing this story as "see, we have plenty if only we would drill" mindless of flow rates.

Yesterday--Elwoodelmore provided this:

"through 2007, the bakken had produced 43 million barrels in north dakota. 2007 production was 7.4 million barrels from 457 wells (producing at year end). do the math."

I did the math:

"Lets see--7,400,000/457=16,192.56/365=44.363178bbl/d x @100/bbl=$4,436.3178 per day gross revenue. If someone knew the developmental and operational costs, we could see the general net profit per well and make some comparisons."

Just so its clear, that is 44.363178 barrels of oil per day average from the 457 producing wells. Not 400, 4,000 or 40,000 but 44.

The Bakken is another indicator that petroleum hydrocarbons will be available for quite some time, except they won't be available in any appreciable volume/flow rate to make any impact on the effects of peak oil.

If you follow the links and read through the clutter, you'll see that North Dakota produces about 50,000 bpd (as of 2007) and the many of wells into Bakken are less than a third of that. Add in the fact that the pay zones are about 20 feet of sand each and estimated as 10% recoverable and I don't see Bakken making much of an impact on the national energy policy level. It is no Ghawar even if initial production from a few wells exceeded 1,000 barrels a day.

A sweet deal for a successful driller, certainly, and welcome to all, but not freedom from the Arabs.

Note that "Bakken shale" refers to the cap rocks and not to the paying formations which are sand (best) and maybe carbonate. They are deep (~ 2 miles) and require horizontal drilling so are expensive (>$5 million per well.) If this is the best prospect in the lower 48, then we're in trouble.

Here, again for third time, is a site with much current info on the Bakken formation:

This site has much information on the geology, techniques used in producing the oil, and even a link to a conference on current efforts by the E & P companies in North Dakota.

Facts according to this site:
1. Only 1% of oil in place is recoverable with best current technology.
2. Cost for a well with three horizontal legs and fracturing (all required to get reasonable production) is $6 million in 2006 dollars, closer to $10 million now.
3. Most wells are 10,000 feet deep with legs of 9000 feet.
4. With the formation covering such a huge area lack of infrastructure is a problem. (lack of roads, rail lines, electricity)

north dakota produced 127,073 bopd in december, 2007, up from about 80,000 bopd in 2003. nd will quite possibly exceed their 8'84 peak of 147,668 bopd in the next year or so. some, but not nearly all of the increase is from the bakken. the bakken averaged about 20,000 bpd for all of 2007.

the williston basin is one area where price has resulted in producers being able to increase production via the drill bit.

the north dakota industrial commission oil and gas division publishes a lot of free data. i wasnt able to copy and paste (it is a secure site ?), but you can find their website on the google. you can go to general statistics for historical oil production.

Hello All,

There might be one more factor to declining oil production that has gotten very little attention so far. I had discussed the NPR segment, www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=89424934 with a few friends of mine (some in the field of education), and the feedback I got was that very many new young people entering the professional field have been culturally trained to make "getting more money" their number one priority. It seems to be the prevalent theme among almost all higher educational institutions Worldwide.

Nothing new to that point of view....

However, I've been hearing that this attitude has become pervasive enough that many companies (including petroleum and other energies), both in the U.S. and internationally, have been taking money that was supposed to go into long-term investment and re-channeling it into "bonuses." In short, some people I know with backgrounds in energy feel that energy production is in a very real risk of "stalling" on the downward side of the production curve because there isn't enough preparatory work to get things going years from now. There IS enough financial investment... but there's not ENOUGH preparatory work. The body language I'm reading is that this is VERY serious stuff.

What am I to make of this? Is this a valid point?

I work in domestic (US) E&P and find it highly unlikely that companies in this industry are decreasing capital expenditures to fund bonuses... there is plenty of money for both in today's environment. Regardless, I won't be shedding any tears for the companies you refer to... if their "young" employees weren't worth the extra pay, they would let them walk.

My observation of domestic production is that the critical constraint, at least for now is employees. It takes a lot of geologists, engineers, landmen, and accountants to keep a single drilling rig operating 24/7 on good projects. We don't have a shortage of profitable projects or money to fund them, we have a shortage of competent personnel needed to efficiently execute projects. In my opinion this is one of the reasons companies are buying back shares...not because there are not enough profitable oportunities, but because they simply don't have the manpower to responsibly spend all of the cash they have flowing in. That's not to say depletion won't win in the end, clearly it will (or already has), but in my isolated little patch, geology is not at present the critical constraint.


Is this lack of manpower a fault of the oil industry????? Why aren't they working with universities to attract people into the business?.. manpower is a long-term investment. (There are only - what? - two schools now in the U.S. that offer courses in petroleum engineering.)

I've heard Ken Deffeyes speak on the shortage of young students going into the petroleum business, and I THINK (don't remember) that he also mentioned that the oil companies weren't really promoting the profession... so I'm wondering if what I heard from my friends had serious merit (of course, the exeptions tend to get the attention). This lack of long-term investment doesn't seem logical; but then, a lot of recent news stories about the way CEOs run businesses have strained the parameters of my imagination... which is nice for daydreaming, but-

Given the salary a 22 year old petroleum engineer can command over other engineers, (I'd guess a total compensation package of 90-100k) I doubt oil companies need to do much promoting, the word is already out. The unemployment rate for engineers in this industry has got to pretty close to 0 and it is probably as recession proof as nursing. Still, it will take decades to correct the imbalance, and by then the situation will likely be vastly different.

Yes, but was there enough hiring opportunites a decade ago?.. or did the industry wait until most of the experienced people got close to retirement? How many fresh engineers are hired each year?

And considering that future fields will become both more numerous and smaller, is there currently a large enough lead in number of new engineering candidates? Are class sizes expanding?

A decade and a half ago, the industry was shedding staff in huge numbers. These were at all levels, but the junior - middle ranking engineers, drillers, geologists and geophysicists would now be at peak expertise / management / project / asset management etc.

Many were 'downsized'in the 90's - never to return.

About a million Eng / Drilling and G+G people left / kicked out.

Undergraduates saw what happened and they stayed away in droves.

We are now feeling the staffing crunch and have been for the last 3 years.

Example: UK Geology Graduates in the early 80's circa 2000 per annum.

Of which I was one and, like many headed straight for the Mudlogging schools.

Now? circa 500 pa. Most of which want jobs in 'Environmental' Geology (whatever that is) But then since Global Warming is now one of the biggest growth industries, and you can be nicely sanctimonious to boot, then you can hardly blame them.

But we do do lots of other things really well: 12000 History graduates per year, 11000 Psychology Graduates and probably about the same number of Lawyers.

Incidentally, The USA Graduated 43000 Lawyers in 2004 and about 400 Petroleum Geologists (If my recollections are correct).

Up until 2004, the Oil an Oil Service industry was in recession for 17 out of the 20 years.

We get the societies we vote for and deserve.

Nuclear engineering is in about the same boat. However, the last five years has seen a huge swelling in undergraduate enrollments in the US engineering schools. Of course, most employment in new nukes will be in allied fields like electrical and mechanical and in skilled trades.

Did anyone see Instapundit's photos of his office at the U. of Tennessee law school. Quite nice! I'd guess that he and I have about the same incomes but my cubical is too small to serve as my coffin with no interior dimension equal to my 6'1" frame. I think I've a bad case of office envy!

Of course, I'd be happy with a hard hat and a clip board at a new nuke construction site, working out of a double-wide, but that's a few years off yet.

Good luck with your plan - seems reasonable.

My Chemistry MSc Daughter is heading towards coal to liquids research (or 'Nazi Science' as I call it...:-) )

My Son is heading towards Physics + Eng with aspirations towards the Nuke industry.

Time will tell and We shall see....

As for Lawyers, the new song will be:

'Buddy can you spare a plaintiff'.

Mudlogger, your comment reflects what happened to me.

Many were 'downsized'in the 90's - never to return.

I was an engineer, started off in the refinery, later transferred to the corporate geological research lab, then the whole research lab complex was sold off to become a shopping center - and I went on to aerospace.

My oil days were the most fun days of my life.

I have no idea how to re-enter it though. Its been fifteen years since I have been in it, albeit I was in research operations for about ten years - refinery about five.

I now have residence in California, and moving would be quite expensive for me. I guess what I am saying is although it would be fun, I have to make enough to pay for loss of all my tax breaks and paid-for housing to make the move economically justifiable.

Also, I am older and just do not have the energy anymore to constantly learn the new software-of-the-day. I have my own copies of any CAD stuff I use, as well as my trusty old Borland C++ compiler and macro assembler, and have all the microcontroller programmers I use.

If I am allowed to do things the way I know how to, I feel I can be quite productive. If I have to use software I don't know anything about, then I am not going to be able to "feel it" when the models are inaccurate and am liable to create lots of stuff that looks good on paper but does not work.

Most of the "help wanted" ads specify they are looking for users of specialized proprietary softwares. This conflicts terribly with my paradigm that if I know the physics governing the situation, I can look at it anyway I want by coding it in C++.

I am terribly insecure using stuff if I do not know exactly how it arrived at the answer.

I get the idea there are a lot of people like me.

I feel we will be like the old glass jars in Kuntsler's "World Made by Hand". When the need for us, and the expertise we have, is needed - for a few years more, we will still be around, even though we may not do powerpoint presentations under Vista.


Thanks guys, I think you pretty much confirmed what my friends were concluding.

It's so bizarre that things are run this way.

Battery-powered Aptera claims 120-mile driving range


A company named Aptera, a Greek word for "wingless flight," has designed a battery-powered vehicle with a claimed 120-mile driving range, more than double that of most electric cars today. More orders have been placed for the hybrid version, which uses a one-cylinder engine as a generator and will get more than 300 miles per gallon and have a range of 600 miles, the Carlsbad, Calif., company said. Deliveries of the first cars - technically a motorcycle - will begin in November with a sale price of $30,000.

I think three-wheeled vehicles are pretty cool, but I expect them to have an especially tough time on rough roads. Pot holes are pretty prevalent around here. On two wheels, one can swerve to one side or the other. On four wheels, one can even straddle the hole. With three parallel lines of travel, chances are good that it'll be a bumpy ride.

You make, I think, a good point.

I'm spending time on the alternatives we have for roadways in the near future. Clearly as it becomes difficult and expensive to maintain the roads they will gain more pot holes. Eventually the average speed will become so low that it will be better to break up the remaining asphalt and convert the roads back to dirt. I don't expect many (if any) new roads to be built.

However, goods and people will still have to get around and a paved surface is still better than a dirt road. I'd like to figure out a way to put the many unemployed people to work rebuilding the roads, demolishing bridges that can no longer be maintained, etc.

But what paved surface is appropriate post-peak? Here is where I am in that exploration. Comments encouraged.


Links to Wikipedia for each paving type:

Hello Aangel,

Thxs for your work on this topic. May I suggest narrow gauge minitrains and/or SpiderWebRiding spreading outward from Alan's ideas?

Absolutely beautiful Minitrain photo links:



No reason we couldn't have human-scale containerization to fit on minitrain freight cars too. It wouldn't take very many recycled ICE-vehicles to make a long minitrain & track. One Toyota four-cylinder engine in a minitrain might pull a couple of hundred people at modest speeds.

I have detailed much of this before in earlier postings, but I would like engineers/scientists to really examine these ideas further. IMO, anything is better than the default option of Nuahtl Tlamemes.

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

Hi, Bob.

I've seen some of your posts and my initial thoughts are "narrow gauge track...what a fascinating idea to explore." So I am very amenable to it and will study it some more. I can see it being used on one of two routes in my county to connect the west part to the east part.

Fairfax Route

Nicasio Route

However, there are still cases where paving will be wanted and needed, like our Highway 101. The state may choose to allocate petroleum to keep that maintained but that may not be the case for Highway 1. Does it carry enough traffic to warrant paving or should it go back to dirt? The latter is probably the case.

What are the best links you have for the technical aspects of narrow-gauge track? Particularly I need to know what sort of load-bearing stratum is required, what are the inclines that are possible (we have some hills along those routes), what is the total load that it can carry, etc.


But thank you for adding that to the conversation. In my view, it's a worthwhile option to keep in the mix.

Hello Aangel,

Thxs for responding. Wish I could help, but I know nothing about the technical details of railtrack, railbeds, and minitrains. But from looking at the railbed in the photos: it looks like not much ground-prep is required. Big difference from a 135-ton loco:


If you are not concerned about aero-streamlining and cool looks [like the minitrain in the photo], my total WAG is the loco, in order to have sufficent weight and strength to generate adequate tractive friction/power to pull ten passenger cars [again roughly like those in the picture]: the loco might have to weigh two tons. But I am sure Alan Drake has a much better SWAG.

A ICE 4-cylinder hooked to a generator that supplies juice to axle electric motors will have some minimal weight. If juice comes from overhead or a third rail--the loco can be lighter, thus the railbed needs less prep. In earlier posts: I said in an emergency--just bolt the rails to the wide concrete sidewalks.

The good thing about minitrains is if the grade gets too steep: just have the young men/women get out and push. Try that with a standard RR or mass-trans loco.

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

Hi, Bob. Thanks, I have to get up to speed on rail and am not there yet.


This is DOA - dead on arrival!

Remember when the Sierra Club and other environmentalists fought to kill a proposal for mass transit built on the NW RR tracks from the Larkspur ferry terminal north along 101 around 1990? They didn't WANT mass transit because that would "spur development." Senator Barbara Boxer, at the time a county supervisor, was vocally against it.

Likewise, remember the stories of the Bolinas residents repeatedly taking down the road signs leading to Bolinas since they did NOT want visitors? Most people in West Marin share, to some degree, that attitude so will oppose improved transport.

Well, there are always feet. Pleasant place to walk, I suppose.

Before those there were charcoal roads. Eric Sloane describes the process in "Our Vanishing Landscape" p. 66.

Requires a massive amount of timber, though.

Thanks, WNC. I've added it to the table.

A fragile, expensive, impractical toy. Beyond the problem of 3 wheel tracks, the outboard, unprotected wheels area particularly bad idea. Combined with the use of expensive materials, it ensures that these will never be more than a rich man's curiosity.

A couple of years ago a development was started at the far end of our small country road. Our Township approved it, mostly because the developer agreed to repave the road after the trucks were done destroying it. Now they have built 2 models and will soon be out of business. The amount of money they put in escrow was inadequate even then, now it is a joke. Bottom line: It is unlikely our road will ever be repaved, and there are a lot of other roads in the same condition. A vehicle like this one would never have a chance.

The wheels on our old horse cart are 52" in diameter - ever wonder why that is?

"The wheels on our old horse cart are 52" in diameter - ever wonder why that is?"

I always thought it was so you can use the cart in ruts without the bottom dragging.

I think smaller spoked wheels are stronger than taller ones. For sure they are on cycles (think BMX).

There are several reasons really, but the main one is that a larger diameter wheel will not drop into every bump in the way. Since it will not catch as easily on obstructions it is easier to pull and gives a smoother ride. Just like a bicycle. Anyway, my point was that people who had to deal with lousy roads eventually figured out how best to deal with them. Cars had big wheels too until roads improved, which I expect to be necessary again.

Lots of rural vehicles in china are three wheeled with single cylinder diesels and the roads there arent what you'd call smooth, some would be hard pressed to be called roads at all.

Can you say ridiculously expensive? For $30000 you can buy a normal small car ($15000) and fuel for the whole lifetime of it.

At $6.00 per gallon? What gas price are you choosing?

Did we have a problem with people spending 50 grand on Escalades out of raw ego and paranoia? (As the Ford SUV consultant told his boss: "If you put a machine gun on top it'll sell better.") Obviously cars have been sold for largely absurd reasons, especially in America: convertibles, muscle cars, pony cars, monster trucks, four by fours that never leave the pavement, fake Mercedes, fake Ferraris, real Ferraris, anything with a vinyl roof, and any stretch limo bigger than a Fleetwood Series 75. I am amazed that spending extra for an environmental statement is treated as a special form of blasphemy.

As for the small cars, they're getting marked up like crazy. Since America doesn't make any of them, the collapse of the $ must drive their cost up until the Chinese arrive. Check out small car prices on European websites to peek into our near future.

15,000 miles/year:

30mpg combined cycle = 500 gallons X $4 (soon) = $2000

Cost of pure electric Aptera = $26,500

Electricity cost approx 1.5 cents/mile = $225

So it won't take too many years of driving to break even.

As for the small cars, they're getting marked up like crazy. Since America doesn't make any of them...

I guess it depends on what you consider "small". For example, Toyota Corollas are made in California and they are small by our standards, though not that small by the standards of many other nations. They are certainly rather fuel efficient for conventional gasoline engined cars by any standard.

You wouldn't believe the not-for-US production cars they feature on www.autobloggreen.com. Crazy fuel economy. But crazy expensive too.

No matter where they're made, Toyotas have been getting more expensive throughout my life. They've practically taken over the market niche of Volvo and Oldsmobile, if you can imagine such a combination. We will see a $25,000 Corolla on a dealer's lot somewhere in a few years.

As the debt binge ends, there will be very few people spending $30K+ on new vehicles - they'll be stuck with whatever vehicle they already have. And they will no longer drive $15K miles per year either.

Thanks - more at http://www.aptera.com

They are also participating in the automotive X prize: http://www.progressiveautoxprize.org/auto/news-events/events


Now, I like the Aptera and would actually consider buying one.

However, the "electric car" fetish on TOD and elsewhere smells to me like just another technological wank-off. It is really not all that hard to make a 100mpg 4-seater car, at a price that is comparable to today's simple peoplemovers, that runs on plain old gasoline or diesel. At 100mpg, you are using 75% less fuel than if you are driving a 25mpg car. Even if you had a 100,000 mpg vehicle you would only be saving the last 25%. Besides, trains work better anyway. You can buy a 100mpg scooter off the rack today for $850.

The easy solution is a) trains, and b) cheap, light gasoline and diesel powered cars, or other vehicles like scooters and small motorcycles, essentially motorized bicycles. I've ridden the Honda Dream II, a 100cc motorcycle ubiquitous across Asia, and it does just about everything you could want as long as you don't try to drive on the freeway. They cost about $2500 I think. There's probably an even cheaper Chinese version. (A small motorcycle has larger wheels than a scooter, which is good for rough roads.)

Problem solved. Next problem?

The Biggest Green Mistake
Biofuels and the global food crisis

In the last year, the price of wheat has tripled, corn doubled, and rice almost doubled. As prices soared, food riots have broken out in about 20 poor countries including Yemen, Haiti, Egypt, Pakistan, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, and Mexico. In response some countries, such as India, Pakistan Egypt and Vietnam, are banning the export of grains and imposing food price controls.

Are rising food prices the result of the economic dynamism of China and India, in which newly prosperous consumers are demanding more food—especially more meat? Perennial doomsters such as the Earth Policy Institute's Lester Brown predicted more than a decade ago that China's growing food demand would destabilize global markets and signal a permanent increase in grain prices. But that thesis has so far not been borne out by the facts. China is a net grain exporter. India is also largely self-sufficient in grains. At some time in the future, these countries may become net grain importers, but they are not now and so cannot be blamed to for today's higher food prices.

If surging demand is not the problem, what is? In three words: stupid energy policies.

The title states "Green Mistake", whereas the article attributes the biofuel boom and its impacts on food supply to energy security policies without mentioning anything green or environment related.

Huge jump in WTI on much worse than expected inventory numbers. WTI at about $111 up $2 in 5 mins.

Sure Leanan probably has the summary posted by now but if not, click here

[Edit: summary added]

Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending April 4, 2008

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged 14.3 million barrels per day during the week ending April 4, up 142,000 barrels per day from the previous week's average. Refineries operated at 83.0 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production moved higher compared to the previous week, averaging nearly 8.9 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production rose last week, averaging nearly 4.0 million barrels per day.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged 8.9 million barrels per day last week, down nearly 1.4 million barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged nearly 9.4 million barrels per day, 925,000 barrels per day below the same four-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged 907,000 barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 161,000 barrels per day last week.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) decreased by 3.2 million barrels from the previous week. At 316.0 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are in the middle of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories decreased by 3.4 million barrels last week, and are above the upper limit of the average range. Both finished gasoline inventories and gasoline blending components inventories decreased last week. Distillate fuel inventories decreased by 3.7 million barrels, and are in the lower half of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories increased by 0.4 million barrels last week. Total commercial petroleum inventories decreased by 8.6 million barrels last week, and are in the middle of the average range for this time of year.

Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged nearly 9.4 million barrels per day, 925,000 barrels per day below the same four-week period last year.

Ouch, ouch, ouch!

While oil prices are up close to 90% from March, 2007. Kind of sounds like importers bidding for declining net oil exports.

That will be the national song on Memorial Day.

Oil Rises, Gasoline Climbs to a Record, on U.S. Supply Decline

(Bloomberg) -- Crude oil rose above $111 a barrel in New York and gasoline surged to a record after a government report showed that U.S. supplies unexpectedly dropped.

..."The crude stock draw was obviously the big surprise and leaves supplies too tight for comfort, said Antoine Halff, head of energy research at New York-based Newedge USA LLC. "Refineries are operating at a very low rate and we still didn't get an inventory gain."

Regarding low refinery utilization numbers, my take on the issue:

Declining Net Oil Exports Versus “Near Record High” Crude Oil Inventories: What is going on? (September, 2007)

I expect to see crude oil exports trending down, crude oil prices trending up, refinery utilization trending down, product prices trending up, and product inventories trending down.

And, as if on cue (Uptop link)

Saudi Aramco Expects Khursaniyah On-Stream This Month

But of course OPEC isn't increasing production but it's nice to know they now have even more extra capacity not to pump!

The Saudi's total liquids production in 2005 was 11.1 mbpd (EIA). I estimate that if they wanted, and were able, to match their 2005 net export level, they would have to average about 11.7 mbpd total liquids production for 2008.


Well they have drawn a line in the sand now 12mbpd by the end of 2009, Which would just about match 2005 net exports by then, So party on (unless Ghawar waters out)


Products Supplied
4 week average 2008 vs. 2007

Finished Motor Gasoline . . . 9,201 . 9,176 . +0.3
Kerosene-Type Jet Fuel . . . . 1,558 . 1,564 .. -0.4
Distillate Fuel Oil . . . . . . . . . .4,317 . 4,316 . . 0.0
Residual Fuel Oil . . . . . . . . . . . 633 . . 757 . .-16.4
Propane/Propylene . . . . . . . . .1,294 . 1,267 . +2.1
Other Oil . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3,454 . 3,455. . 0.0

Total Products Supplied. . . . . 20,455. 20,534 . -0.4

Excepting Residual Fuel Oil, US Oil Consumption is *UP* !

Not Much Hopes for US Gasoline Price Elasticity of Demand,


Oil, Gasoline have crossed new all time highs again. $112.19 on NYMEX and all 11 indicies over 100.


NG, Gold up. Dollar, stocks, have that familiar post-rally pattern. The only thing holding us back is cheap fuel! So annoying maneuvering around this elephant.


In much of Europe gas is already $9 so at your ridiculously cheap prices why will anyone cut back? it's no surprise that with less than 5% of the world's population the US manages to use 25%.

In Europe i don't see too many horse drawn carts but roads clogged and with plenty of Mercedes, BMWs & Porsches (gas guzzlers) so the price needs to go way higher yet to have any effect:-(

The big EU & US difference is VMT (vehicle miles traveled) and that the USA does not have a non-oil option (trams, bicycles, walkable neighborhoods).


two stories on copper:

April 9 (Bloomberg) --

An energy shortage in Chile may do for copper what cuts in electricity supplies did for platinum in South Africa -- spark a record-setting rally in prices.

April 9 (Bloomberg) --

China, the world's biggest copper consumer, may increase imports of ore used to make the metal by 20 percent to a record this year, said Trafigura Beheer BV, the country's top supplier.

One of these was linked above but together shortages and higher demand is critical. Copper is most critical metal for electrical systems. Lots of people will be stealing more copper from wires and transformers.

Copper is most critical metal for electrical systems. Lots of people will be stealing more copper from wires and transformers

Windmill windings, electric rail traction motors, EV motors, hydro, nukes, solar.....all this PO transition build out means copper in a big way. Bet there won't be too many homes built with copper plumbing going forward.

RE: Our Fool's Paradise To Crumble As Calamities Set To Collide...

Many months ago, at the beginning of the mortgage crisis, there was a great deal of debate on TOD about the power of the Fed to save the US economy. That debate is about to be settled. The Fed has made their moves, cut interest rates, created an abc of lending windows, leaped tall buildings, and broken laws all in an attempt to save the Wall St institutions that are partially to blame for the ongoing economic train wreck that we are witnessing. Recent word on the street has it that the Fed will cut intrest rates about another 1/2% before calling quits to that course. The Fed is running into strong headwinds from offshore.

Banks will fail, there will be lots of financial sector jobs lost, there will be lots of consumer culture jobs lost, there will be reallocation of labor and resources, and hopefully, America will once again produce something that someone, somewhere, will want to purchase. The era of the financial industry comprising 40% of GDP and the service sector and government employment providing most of the remainder is about to screech to a halt.

If you don't understand why Burnanke and the Fed made serious miscalculations I suggest that you read this entire article. Once again revisionist history has prevented sound current decision making.

'Government backing of our debt does not substitute for a sound economic structure. And it is the current structure that is incapable of the necessary economic output to satisfy domestic needs and to generate sufficient exports to exchange for our huge appetite for imported goods and energy resources. Today’s services-based economy will no longer suffice. Examining last week’s job data, one sees that 93,000 "goods producing" jobs were lost in March after dropping 92,000 in February and 69,000 in January. At the same time, Education, health, leisure and hospitality jobs increased 178,000 during the first quarter. Yet it is more obvious than ever that we need to consume less and produce much more.

Back to the "liquidationists". It is my view that our economy will require a massive reallocation of resources. We will be forced to create much less non-productive (especially mortgage and asset-based) credit in the financial sphere, while producing huge additional quantities of tradable goods in the economic sphere. In our expansive services sector, there will no choice but to "liquidate" labor and redirect its efforts. Throughout finance, there will be no alternative than to liquidate bad debt, labor and insolvent institutions - again in the name of a necessary redirecting of resources.

After an unnecessarily protracted boom, there will be scores of enterprises that will prove uneconomic in the new financial and economic backdrop. Liquidation will be unavoidable, policymaker hopes and dreams notwithstanding.'



'That debate is about to be settled. The Fed has made their moves, cut interest rates, created an abc of lending windows, leaped tall buildings, and broken laws all in an attempt to save the Wall St institutions that are partially to blame for the ongoing economic train wreck'

puplava says the inflating goes some to stocks this summer, giving a brief [false?] reprieve; then back to bad news by 09 & major inflating of oil/commodities & depression by '10. [he also believes oil problems/shortages likely in this same time frame. ]

what do u think re the inflating working for a while & what signs would say it is; might hold up, etc.?

creg...I would not put a lot of 'stock' in what is happening in the stock market for several reasons.

1) Stock manipulation is as old as stock markets and is practiced by a variety of institutions and individuals.

2) The vast majority of economic coverage on tv is aimed at the stock markets and small to medium size players in same. History proves that without a doubt these 'investors' are for the most part totally unaware of what is happening. They listen to the bubble heads on tv and are sucked in. Very few stock market investors today have a basic understanding of bubble formation, what happened to cause recent recessions, or an understanding of what happened during the great depression. So, anyting that happens in the stock market this summer will not surprise me but what will happen by 2010 is going to happen regardless of what the Fed or institutional or individual investors do in the meantime.

3) I am not sure that I understand your question 're reinflating this summer'...The game the Fed is currently playing is a 'one more day in the sun' affair. The hope is that the day of reckoning can be put off long enough for real estate, commercial and residential, to 'normalize' and sales to pick up, saving the banks from huge write downs of bad loans. There are only two ways for this to happen...incomes have to rise 30-40% to make housing affordable to the people that want a house. Home prices have to come down the same amount to make them affordable at current incomes. Incomes are not going up so only option 2 is left.

4) Since a large portion of GDP has been derived from financial institutions the Fed is putting a great deal of effort into 'normalizing or recapitalizing' those institutions. Under the old rules for banking these institutions are already insolvent. New rules are being made up daily in an attempt to rescue the financials. Every new rule change is cheered by the bubble heads on tv and the details of the changes allowing banks to survive for a little longer are not revealed for some time...meanwhile the 'investors' rush out and buy financial stocks, boosting share value for a few days. Will this continue to work? Read 'The Great Crash, 1929' by John Kenneth Galbraith and I think the answer to how this will end will be revealed to you. The mass hysteria ends at some point. Reality begins to seep into the consciousness of even the most out of touch bulls. It is very difficult, even in hindsight, to put a finger on the exact moment or event that caused the crash of any market...There are many theories. One thing that we do know...Bubbles always burst and no amount of Fed intervention or manipulation is going to stop this one from bursting.

4) As I have said many times...oil prices are determined on world markets and they will continue up as long as the BRIC economies are roaring and bidding up oil prices. There could be some demand destruction caused by a world wide economic recession/depression. How much is hotly debated and depends on ones belief, or not, in decoupling of economies. After any such recession, if it happens, oil will continue its upward price movement. Because of many factors, especially ELM, the price of oil will be UP. If the Fed continues to devalue the dollar all commodity prices will trend up.

5) I am not a financial guru but economics has always been fascinating to me...an avocation. Right now I am short dollars, long physical precious metals, and have a couple of rental properties that I should have sold in 04. What the hey, we all make mistakes. Good luck. :)

thanks river

learning a lot & irons in the fire[ira i took control of once i learned of peak oil] so i study u & a no. of others' opinions/thoughts.

i assume u know of puplava.


fairly pure austrian economics & he thinks the money printing will briefly inflate the stock market this year while also going to commodities. i believe he thinks dollar down is only choice fed[ & global central bankers] have at this time & one more bubble [stocks & commodities] then combo of debt/credit woes /peak bring us to hyperinflationary depression by 2010.sounds like u agree there.

i'll digest u'r original/response & link more later.

i'm in junior pms & checking out the exits as i can get out w/o penalty in 2010. i took 1/4 out for preps & no regrets given the inflating of the purchases we made.

the markets are complex & i would enjoy them more w/o irons in the fire.

thanks again.

Thanks for the link.

It is now 8:15 am on the West Coast.

At 8:50 a.m. , in about 35 minutes, CNBC will have the CEO of Pacific Ethanol on for an interview.


Did anybody watch it? What did they have to say?

Fresh capital infusion for new plants means no liquidity problems going forward. Pacific Ethanol is ready to compete head to head with big oil if all subsidies and tax breaks are removed from both industries. (be careful what you wish for) Oh, and food price consequenses be damned basically. Also said Ethanol at $2.85 was a better value than $3.34 gasoline. (Hmm that's close to 51 cents)
Given the BTU choice I'd go with the petrol.

"10 more years of research to make solar energy competitive - peak oil"

Possibly, not quite. It makes most sense to aquire solar now. With the rising price of commodities, including those required to build solar panels, it makes sense to get solar asap, while it is relatively cheap. It's twice as expensive as FF generated electricity, but that will change, within 10 short years.

I cannot back this up by evidence. All I say is, don't wait if you don't have to.

There are two ways to become more competitive.
Either the price of your product falls or the price of the competition rises.
Most of us here think that shortages will lead to rising oil and gas prices, so that on it's own should greatly reduce the gap.
Silicon shortages are also now well in hand, and prices of solar panels should fall substantially over the next five years.

As some here know I am no fan of solar PV in temperate climates (residential solar thermal is a different matter) but from presently being competitive in hot climates for locations off-grid I would be astonished if it doesn't also become competitive in hot areas for peak load power at the minimum within five years - and that is a very big market which should stimulate further cost reductions leading possibly to it's becoming competitive for baseload in those areas.

I'm not sure of your calculation behind Oil's price rise Closing the gap, when PV production, like everything else is dependent upon energy inputs for its own pricing, plus the economic condition of the economy, employees who are facing rising food and commute and home energy costs.. I don't see how that tide isn't going to 'Raise all prices', such that the gap may not narrow much or any, in addition to the fact that the consumer's buying power seems clearly to be eroding.

I highly doubt that PV prices will get lower. I'm certainly not willing to wait and see. Since I now do have a 'survival quantity' of some 300watts, my present efforts and my recommendations to other friends/families are that solar heating and cooking are the most critical energy sources to secure and get off the monthly bills.

Aside from it's energy value, it might be worth considering that if electricity prices continue to grow, and grid stability becomes less secure, (how big an IF are these two?).. that the potential for a surge in Demand will make PV prices grow as well, and that if you have invested in some of them, you may find that their resale has a profit to it, if the basic usefullness of them doesn't outweigh their resale value.

I say buy some. They work, and they do so for a long, long time. Dead Simple. (After MFG)


Everyone makes the mistake of thinking that the cost of the solar electric system must be paid for up front. Very few people have $35k sitting in their back pocket. There are very, very attractive financing opportunities to let you go solar for $150-$200 per month. You can afford that, right?

Many people realize how big of an electricity hog their house is after having a solar electric system installed. This stimulates people to use their electricity much wiser which in turn makes their new system that much more financially lucrative.

"how big of an electricity hog their house is after having a solar electric system installed"

A point I've observed with new PV owners repeatedly. Many say (wisely) to curb your consumption first, get cleaner and fewer appliances, lights, etc.. but either way, I say it's a candle that has to be kept lit at both ends. Cut (energy) expenses, and boost (energy) income with privately owned sources.

I keep going back to the elemental question of ;
- "What do I actually NEED my electricity for, and what appliances can be done without, or done with other sources, like direct solar, or wind-direct-to-mechanical work?

Besides refrigeration, which CAN be done with Solar/Ammonia and similar systems, but is too massively set up for electricity, the key uses that basically HAVE to be electrical are Lighting and Communications. It brings to mind a great many small solar worklight circuits I see designed for Third-world folks who are trying to study at night, and use these small Solar/Battery/LED combo to get this essential life-improving process happening.

Best hopes that all the old upright pianos and acoustic instruments can get brought back to daily use!

Bob (Son of 2 Music Teachers)

It's funny, their calculator chokes on my zip code, "Custom energy usage inputs not applicable for this zip code; click Continue". Then it shows me a chart showing that solar would cost two and a half times as much as my electric service. Better increase the range you cite to $300/month. They list ours as $272. That's half our house payment, and it would only reduce our electric bill by $38/month.

Price changes whether up or down are never perfectly even across a number of different resources - if you raise energy costs by increased oil and gas prices then that will be reflected 100% in the prices of those products, but other products have a variety of other inputs which would moderate that - of course, the oil and gas input would raise prices quite a lot indirectly as well as directly, but for instance this might mean that real relative (to oil and gas) labour costs would drop, so any manufactured item which has a large labour input would rise less.

I don't know the percentage of the cost of silicon production which is due to energy, but it is only one amongst several inputs.
Energy input for traditional solar silicon cells is certainly substantial though:
American Scientist Online - Solar Energy's Red Queen

Close calculation however not worthwhile, as there a number of different technologies on offer, including thin-film silicon and some which do not use silicon.

Silicon for traditional cells has also been in short supply, and that always puts up prices - massive new supplies are coming on-line:

Solar PV technology is advancing on many fronts simultaneously, so the degree of confidence that costs can be decreased is much higher than if there were only one way forward.

Here is just one approach amongst many to hold down costs:

Ok, one more aspect that I don't see being covered, however..

Demand is strong and not likely to let up. Even if lots of people are NOT buying PV, so many are that there is little threat of being oversupplied. WHY would the industry drop prices? Even with competition abounding, the inventory is not gathering dust, and one good 'energy disruption event' could send all the product out to new customers.

Who would drop prices in this environment, even if the product started costing less to make, which I still have to guess is a bit of a long shot..? I'd think the profit margins would fatten before the producers had to worry about 'drawing in new customers'.


To look at costs first, here is Sharp's view of it:

As you can see, they think from around 50cents/kwh now it will drop to around 25cents/kwh in 2010, 12.5cents/kwh in 2020 and 6 cents or so in 2030.

Demand has been growing at a furious pace, but it is overwhelmingly from two markets, Germany and Japan, and the cost is starting to hurt those countries. It is pretty much entirely dependent on subsidies for the present demand.

Stupidly I do not appear to have kept the link, but the article I am thinking of was basically saying that there are no more Germany's and Japan's likely to take up demand - relatively poorer countries like China do not install much PV power in comparison.

Maybe the US will go for a similar very heavy subsidy for PV, but even so it appears that demand growth is likely to slacken, as increased production would make subsidy very expensive - show-case projects can be afforded, but once quantities rise it would cost a fortune.

The fundamental economics of solar would however improve, but for a time around and after 2010 growth seems to me to be likely to slacken, with solar PV too big to massively subsidise but too expensive to be truly competitive, or to attain levels of real mass-production.

Things change round though as you get nearer to 2020, or rather the cost figures Sharp associates with this.

For peak power which is difficult to do by nuclear than the costs of solar in hot areas is starting to look reasonable, especially considering that it can be generated pretty much where it is needed and does not have the cooling needs or needs for water of other generating resources, including solar thermal.

It also tracks peak need in hot areas fairly well, although storage is more difficult than for other resources..

So briefly it appears likely to me that demand will indeed slacken from it's present huge rate of increase, although that does not mean it will not grow significantly, and it will do this at a time when large new supplies are hitting the market, so cost pressures will be intense, and the drive to further reduce them as the market moves on from subsidies to a state nearer to true economic feasibility.

Dave, I suspect those are potential production costs. If demand is too great, then both the price of crucial inputs like silicon and end customer prices get bid up. That has been especially true the last few years, where PV has been getting marginally more expensive. I think a lot of people have their eyes on it, and it may not take much price reduction for the demand to rise high enough to saturate any likely production for several years. If that happens it is good for the industry, as high profits should stimulate better future products, but bad in the near and medium term for prospective customers. I wish the demand could be shifted towards more favorable sites, its absurd that seriously cloudy climates are taking such a large chunk of current production. But OTOH they are helping the industry to rapidly advance, and at this early stage rapid advancement of the industry/technology are very much more important than current usage of the product.

Hi, eos!

I think I have expressed what I was trying to say poorly.
The argument I am seeking to make is that present demand is artificial, and dependent on very large subsidies.
Since those subsidies cannot continue to grow exponentially as they would cost too much, you are likely to have the paradoxical effect that whilst prices drop, demand will not rise commensurately, as the real cost to the consumer will not drop in the same way.

There are also very large capacity increases coming on line.
So my hypothesis is that demand growth slackens somewhat from it's present very high rate of around 38% per year creating excess capacity for a time, until further cost reductions enable the solar industry to reach a sounder footing less dependent on subsidy.

Incidentally, Japan is not nearly as bad a place for solar power as Germany, as it is further south and the summers are very hot and humid creating high demand at that time of year.

Germany is in fact about as bad a place as you can imagine for solar power, as greater cloud cover means that it gets a lot less power even than places at equivalent latitude in the Americas.

It's very nice of them to subsidise cost reductions in solar PV for everyone else, but it is very difficult indeed to see how it is going to produce worthwhile amounts of power for them, short of sticking the panels in the Sahara and building transmission lines and so on.

deepwater offshore tethered floating turbines

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is in talks with Blue H, a Dutch company, to build a floating turbine platform that would be anchored to the seabed between Skye and the Uists.

If the pilot scheme is successful, dozens more could be sited off the Scottish coast, thanks to new technology that allows turbines to be moored in waters up to 1,000ft deep. The new generation of turbines — which resemble small oil rigs — can be towed so far out to sea that they cannot be seen from the shore.

Once in position, 80ft-wide weights are dropped to “anchor” the turbines to the ocean floor and prevent them keeling over in stormy weather. The weights are then filled with gravel via a chute.


The costs for this could perhaps be lower than for traditional off-shore turbines which are around twice the price of on-shore, for two reasons:
Most of the construction takes place on land, and further off-shore winds are stronger and more constant than closer in-shore.

Perhaps the beginnings of a viable low-carbon plan for Britain can be drawn up:
Nuclear baseload, with heat pumps to minimise the needed power, and wind for peak load, as for Britain wind peaks nicely to co-incide with maximum use:

To the objection that wind is too intermittent to work as a peaking source, the stronger and more constant winds far off-shore help, and the co-incidence of the peaks hopefully means that minimal extra input would be required very occasionally, so maybe supplies of biogas would suffice.

The critical thing is of course costs. In economic terms at least if deep off-shore wind is more than, say, around 2.5 times dearer than nuclear, you would be better off using the nuclear resource for peak load and figuring out some way of utilising the excess energy when demand is slack.

It will take a bit of ramping up to be able to build large numbers of deep off-shore turbines, but when that is done you also have the advantage that construction times would be a lot shorter than for nuclear reducing interest charges, so you could certainly afford quite a premium in raw build costs - I'd be a bit doubtful though if they are much over twice the price of nuclear, but since it is for peaking power perhaps a case can be made for up to three times in build costs.

Visit http://www.speakerfactory.net/wind_old.htm

And see an old 'dump in the water' design:

accessible from surface level. Multiple small rotors sweep the same area with less blade mass. These floating offshore units may be towed into position, no crane required, simply tilt over to

Eric, I did not know what to make of that, and then I saw it was by the bloke who invented the 'Laddermill' high altitude wind power concept - that adds buckets of cred, as far as I am concerned.

In fact, my preference for nuclear power is conditional on nothing better coming along, and I always thought that high-altitude wind should be able to do the job a lot cheaper - it is just that I am cautious about assuming that we can do something until the engineering is fairly fully developed.

I suppose a criticism would be that fast turbines might kill birds and bats, but I have never really understood why this is so difficult - surely LED lights could be mounted, which would not have to shine unless the rotors were going round, and would certainly scare away birds for a trivial power drain.

Is there some reason why this is impractical?

I suppose a criticism would be that fast turbines might kill birds and bats, but I have never really understood why this is so difficult - surely LED lights could be mounted, which would not have to shine unless the rotors were going round, and would certainly scare away birds for a trivial power drain.

Lights at night draw bugs. Bugs are food for bats/birds.

My guess is if you were to take an objective mortality census of birds/bats - more are killed by housecats. The lack of heavy metals via coal burning might prove to be worth the trade off of mortality from turbines. And if one feeds birds, you end up with more than the local population normally supports. Bat houses/man made bat caves should have a similar effect for bats.

DaveMart...What about the giant squid? What if the squid attack the submerged turbines and eat them? What if the squid get sucked into the turbines and clog up the works? What if kelp or huge swarms of jellyfish or saragasso clog the turbines? What if barnacles cling to the turbine blades, greatly reducing their effeciency?

Recently I saw a movie in which a giant squid ate the Golden Gate Bridge...On second thought, it might have been an octapus.

What if Godzilla gets ticked because the spinning turbines keep him awake? What if he wades ashore and eats London? ...not to mention that he likes to trample on power lines and mass transit systems.

Alan, is it possible to make mass transit Godzilla proof? :)

Maybe the underwater turbines will not have a chance in hades of being funded in depressed economies...along with lots of other pie in the sky projects mentioned on TOD by dreamers that don't have a clue about the process of project funding.

Alan, is it possible to make mass transit Godzilla proof? :)

Deep subways, such as Pyongyang, Peoples Republic of Korea, have demonstrated Godzilla resistance, other than the surface entrances.

However, passengers can usually crawl around the rubble and find their way to and from the subway.

Surface rail, just like the San Francisco streetcars that were working the day after the Great Earthquake, can usually be operational just a day or two after a Godzilla "visit".

Best Hopes for rail resilience,


"Hot links"

Is that Wendell Cox# in a rubber suit ?


# Noted anti-transit paid liar for the Road Lobby.

What if Godzilla gets ticked because the spinning turbines keep him awake? What if he wades ashore and eats London?


Cedar, if you have something to add, add it. 'Dude' is waste of bandwidth, plus I don't know what it means...unless it refers to a drugstore cowboy type...and that is not me.

I would appreciate some humor, or wisdom or... breaking info...occasionally. Thanks

I think it was pretty eloquent.

Dude...on-topic and occasional humor is welcome. Your post is just silly, and not all that funny. I am seriously considering deleting this whole thread.

I thought River's post was an eloquent satire of the criticisms made against wind power.

River, tell me how, word for word, your post was any less a waste of bandwidth than mine.

Leanan, I couldn't agree more with your sentiment about deleting this entire thread.

Did you eat a lot of Sugary cereal this morning?
You sound like my daughter.

Depressed Economies. Isn't that also the times when a society like ours actually wakes up and gets motivated? How did Hoover dam get built? WPA TVA .. etc.

No more cereal, young man.


'Isn't that also the times when a society like our actually wakes up and gets motivated?'

With FDR it was possible, even though the republicans were hatching assination plots against the man even as he attempted to stop a socialist from becoming the next president.

With the current crop of bozos, go figure.

Cereal? No, it is called humor, obviously you have none...But fortunately some on the board do, judging from reactions...Perhaps your daughter inherited her sense of humor from her mother?

I'll go try to get some.

Keep trying.. it just wasn't really that funny.


Bad news also for wind turbines if the quid learn to fly........

I understood that the quid were already flying.

Actually, we were talking about wind turbines.

Those are rather different to underwater turbines, I believe.

It helps to read a post before critiquing it!

Laser creates brightest light on Earth


Such a powerful laser will also allow them to study advanced ideas for creating energy by controlled fusion, the same process that powers the Sun. A nozzle will spray clusters of deuterium (heavy hydrogen) atoms into the target chamber of the laser, where the beam will fuse them together, creating fusion power. This is an alternative to another fusion power method, by confinement in magnetic fields, that will be studied by the vast international Iter fusion project. And the use of lasers this way is a traditional method used to study what happens inside H bomb warheads, as is done by Britain's Helen laser, which is why the facility is funded by the US Energy Department's National Nuclear Security Administration.

With construction down, contractors aren't buying many new trucks. And for the recreational pickup buyer, gas prices have become a problem. Even some dealers in Texas, where pickups are king, were complaining. "We were down quite a bit," says James Hardick, part owner of Moritz Chevrolet in Fort Worth.

Americans dont love trucks anymore

I remember when I was down in Texas in 2003 working for a moving company. There were trucks everywhere. I swear everyone had a Dodge Ram with the new restyled huge front grill and the Hemi engine. Not exaggerating.

Even the women in Texas are car pooling to run down their drunk husbands and boy friends.
What is the world coming to?

Toyota and Ford - a Modern Parable

Posted by LYLUVLY at www.priuschat.com


A Japanese company ( Toyota ) and an American company (Ford) decided to have a canoe race on the Missouri River. Both teams practiced long and hard to reach their peak performance before the race.

On the big day, the Japanese won by a mile.

The Americans, very discouraged and depressed, decided to investigate the reason for the crushing defeat. A management team made up of senior management was formed to investigate and recommend appropriate action.

Their conclusion was the Japanese had 8 people rowing and 1 person steering, while the American team had 8 people steering and 1 person rowing.

Feeling a deeper study was in order, American management hired a consulting company and paid them a large amount of money for a second opinion.

They advised, of course, that too many people were steering the boat, while not enough people were rowing.

Not sure of how to utilize that information, but wanting to prevent another loss to the Japanese, the rowing team's management structure was totally reorganized to 4 steering supervisors, 3 area steering superintendents, and 1 assistant superintendent steering manager.

They also implemented a new performance system that would give the 1 person rowing the boat greater incentive to work harder. It was called the 'Rowing Team Quality First Program,' with meetings, dinners, and free pens for the rower. There was discussion of getting new paddles, canoes, and other equipment, extra vacation days for practices and bonuses.

The next year the Japanese won by two miles.

Humiliated, the American management laid off the rower for poor performance, halted development of a new canoe, sold the paddles, and canceled all capital investments for new equipment. The money saved was distributed to the Senior Executives as bonuses and the next year's racing team was out-sourced to India.

Sadly, The End.

Here's something else to think about:
Ford has spent the last thirty years moving all its factories out of the US, claiming they can't make money paying American wages.

TOYOTA has spent the last thirty years building more than a dozen plants inside the US. The last quarter's results:

TOYOTA makes 4 billion in profits while Ford racked up 9 billion in losses.

Ford folks are still scratching their heads.



In regards to Venezuala (and for that matter Iran), while both countries have massive reserves (although in Venezuala, much of it is far less than ideal heavy sour crude), both are likely to become net oil importers if current trends continue, one study showed Iran being a net importer ~2015.

What's happening in both these countries is that the governments aren't making the investments needed to keep drilling because the money is being used to do often short-term social services. Meanwhile, both governments subsidize gasoline to the point where it's pennies per gallon, and demand is soaring. Both countries are net importers of gasoline because the lack the necessary refining capacity. This could be devistating to both countries because their government's budgets are almost completely reliant on oil exports.

On the trucking protest: http://ehrenreich.blogs.com/barbaras_blog/2008/04/truckers-protes.html

The actions of the first week in April were just the beginning. There’s talk of a protest in Indiana on the 18th, another in New York City, and a giant convergence of trucks on DC on the 28th. Who knows what it will all add up to? Already, according to JB, some of the big trucking companies are threatening to fire any of their employees who join the owner-operators’ protests.

http://www.whatreallyhappened.com/IMAGES/DSC09013.JPG - photo showing a truck auction yard in Alabama - a major increase in long haul rigs up for sale.

Have you followed ready.gov's position - storing a spot of food?

"Despite oil prices that hover around $100 a barrel, it may take at least 10 or more years of intensive research and development to reduce the cost of solar energy to levels competitive with petroleum, in the eyes of one expert."

Once again I am puzzled at why clean, renewable solar power should compete economically with polluting, subsided fossil fuel energy?


That's how capitalism works. The profits belong to individuals. The pollution goes into the commons.

I think that the proper question is why should solar have to compete, and I fully agree. We have to make the right choices - this is kind of like having a Corvette and being able to go as fast as we want, knowing that there may (or may not) be a highway patrol down the road. There is no cop to enforce the solar, though, but it is the right thing to do.

I know that capitalism is the mechanism which is keeping most folk out of solar by the price mechanism, but we, as a species, have to start doing the right thing.

...as a species, have to start doing the right thing.

Who speaks for the species? Who tells people what is the right thing to do? Oh, nobody of course. So you are speaking of the conscience of the human race I suppose. Well, there is no collective conscience, there are only individual consciences. And the vast majority of individuals don't really give a damn about the commons. Most of them think: "the commons is doing fine, thank you, they don't need my assistance or my resources."

Woodychuck, people do not do things because it is the right thing to do. People do things because it will be to their personal benefit, or for the benefit of their immediate family. Also people, in general, will never believe peak oil or global warming is a problem until the temperature warms up about 10 degrees and oil cost $10 a gallon. Even then they will likely blame the oil shortage on the oil companies and global warming on nature.

I don't really mean to be facetious but talking about what we must do is just a wast of effort. Try to figure out what we will do then make your plans accordingly. That may help you survive. Then again, it may not.

Ron Patterson

Odd. Religion has made quite a lucrative racket out of telling people what they must do. Then again, I would always tend to join the religion that told me my existing way of life needed fewer changes than that of someone else whom I could persecute. So choose up sides and sharpen your swords.


I would submit to you that there are a number of things which the human race does on moralistic grounds. We as a society frequently have to legislate some things. Subsequent to so legislating, we must then find a way to enforce what is truly beneficial for our race. hence speed limits.

Recycling is but one good example. Many communities, from towns to cities to states understand that wasting of resources should be prohibited, and have enacted laws to require recycling. In many other communities, using Bartlesville, OK as an example, had such regulations and decided that curbside recycling was too costly. Still, many of us in that community do recycle, since it would be a waste of precious resources to not do so, although we presently have plenty of room in the landfill. Would it make a huge difference if those of who are responsible were to quit recycling? Not right away, but over time, yes it would.

It is easy enough to find other examples, but my initial response was in reply to a very specific question: Why should clean, reliable solar power have to be cheaper to compete with FF's? In my case, they do not have to be. I am slowly building a set of panels to install (I have 9 right now, looking for 9 more) as a buffer against any lack of grid power. I am served by an electric cooperative which does not have any generating capacity of its own, and I fear will be among the first to find itself/ourselves with only spotty power. I'll make my own decisions, and you make your own.

I am not seeking to impose my judgement on others, except to say that I do not think that out of pocket cost is the only thing to be considered. I am breathing the air, which I suppose you are as well. I am doing, or more precisely planning to do what I think is right.

(Slight correction without rewriting: I do use four 90 watt panels to operate a submersible pump for stock water, which was cheaper than running wire to the well.)

That's good Leanan, that's really good. I am going to use that line in the future. Thanks.

That is a good summary.

Have you seen how many old landfills are grassed over and turned into public parks? Very direct example of that phenomenon..


Or, as friends of mine point out - those profits are owned by individuals who then spend the money to stimulate the economy which benefits everyone. Sometimes "wall", "hitting", and "head", feel like they were made for each other...

"Once again I am puzzled at why clean, renewable solar power should compete economically with polluting, subsided fossil fuel energy?"

Don't worry. It won't be long now.

Pretty soon they are going to be forced to use renewable power to get out the remaining oil which would otherwise be impossible to get out (negative EROEI for oil based extraction will force use of renewables).

When that point is reached, independently of the PRICE, the conclusion will be that it is smarter to just use the renewable energy directly and leave the oil and coal sitting in the ground.

Hello TODers,

Welcome to a world of Liebig Minimums?

Warning--slow loading link from India:

Shortage of fertiliser hits farmers

JEYPORE: Acute shortage of potash fertiliser in the district has hit the farmers hard with the rabi paddy crop turning yellow in most of the tribal pockets.

Taking advantage of the situation, black marketeers in Jeypore are selling the fertiliser at an exhibirant price to desperate farmers under the very nose of Agriculture Department officials.

The farmers have been running from pillar to post to get potash to save their crop but in vain.
Have you hugged your bag of NPK today?

EDIT: Farmers/gardeners will not be interested in trading grains/produce for big screen TVs or plastic salad shooters--you better have something biosolar mission-critical.

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

I'll have to hug a bag of greensand when I get home. Did you see the plug for you at theautomaticearth? Apparently POT is doing quite well.

It's looking more and more like food and credit crises will cover up oil peaking.

Hello Kjmclark,

Thxs for responding. Yep, saw my mention, but I agree with what WT & Simmons say: I would rather be wrong.

High prices are bad enough, but it is outright shortages that worry me because growing plants can't wait; the topsoil needs the NPK applied in a timely fashion to avoid a Liebig and leverage harvest yields.

Another link, this time from Down Under:

Reports of a fertiliser shortage for the state's grain farmers are widening, with fears it could damage chances of farmers bouncing back from the drought.

He says this includes reports of some suppliers trying to dishonour contracts.

Let me say it doesn't just stop at fertiliser, we've heard similar things from some sources in relation to chemicals, so it couldn't have happened at a worse time."
His mention of chemicals I assume to mean pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and other products used on the soil or crops.

EDIT: another link on potential monopolistic practices:

Fertiliser suppliers and farmers made the claims of market distortion in submissions to the senate inquiry headed by Junee Senator Bill Heffernan, which is investigating possible cartel behaviour in the fertiliser and chemical industries.

The price of fertiliser products has spiralled in the last year, with the majority going up by 100 to 200 per cent and some products rising as much as 400 per cent.

“The association often receives comments from members questioning how there can be fertiliser stock piled in sheds or on ships waiting to be unloaded yet the retailers do not have any available for sale or they cannot inform the customer of when it will be available or at what price,” the association’s submission stated.

The association also raised speculation over possible monopolistic behaviour from the dominant company Incitec Pivot, which controls more than 50 per cent of Australia’s agricultural plant nutrient needs....
Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Made tiny 'cause it was long - 850 American Airlines flights grounded for wiring checks. So the little ones go under and the big ones have been cutting corners on maintenance trying to keep moving. This trend will continue until anything with wings might as well be part of the Air Republica de Banana fleet.


RE: North Dakota -- the next Saudi Arabia

Ay ya ya, this dummy is mixing up Oil Shale with Shale Oil.

But it is not easy, and it is not cheap (and let's not even think of how environmentally catastrophic it is to pulverize mountains of rocks to get barrels of oil).

Via: http://www.salon.com/tech/htww/?last_story=/tech/htww/2008/04/07/solar_p...

How much does solar power pollute?

When a reader told me to take a look at the March cover story for Environmental Science & Technology, "Life-Cycle Emissions from Photovoltaics," I expected the kind of head-scratcher seemingly designed to send environmentalists straight to the nearest bottle of (organic, locally-distilled) bourbon -- something along the lines of how the energy consumed and toxic emissions produced by purifying silicon would negate the renewable benefits of using the sun directly as fuel.

I couldn't have been more wrong. The result of the data crunching by three researchers who studied four different photovoltaic technologies employed by 11 different European manufacturers between 2004-6 could hardly be more definitive: "At least 89 percent of air emissions associated with electricity generation could be prevented if electricity from photovoltaics displaces electricity from the grid."

The four technologies under review were ribbon-silicon, multicrystalline silicon, monocrystalline silicon, and thin-film cadmium telluride. Of the four, thin-film cadmium telluride was the clear winner, for the simple reason that it requires the least amount of energy to produce. And the numbers get even better if solar power is used to provide some portion of the electricity necessary for the various stages of solar panel construction (from mining and smelting the ore all the way to factory assembly.)

So next time you hear someone wondering how a complete life-cycle assessment of solar power and greenhouse gas emissions stacks up against oil or coal, (don't laugh -- commenters on this very blog have asked that very question) send 'em to the March issue of Environmental Science & Technology. And I should relax -- not every assessment of the environmental friendliness of new technologies need get bogged down in irresolvable paradox. Sometimes, there is real reason for optimism:

To wit:

It is noted that the environmental profiles of photovoltaics are further improving as efficiencies and material utilization rates increase and this kind of analysis needs to be updated periodically.

Eric, apparently there have been some pretty bad spills and leaks into groundwater from various forms of nastiness associated with solar PV production in China, but to my mind that just shows that you have to take reasonable precautions whatever you do.

In any case, the vast majority of all mining is for the coal industry, and the pollution problems of that are horrendous.

Short of the third world burning of wood and dung indoors on open fires it is difficult to think of a more polluting way than coal of producing energy, and the annual death toll from it is massive.

You can't design a more dangerous and polluting system than the use of coal, although I suppose oil from tar sands might give it a run for it's money.

Eric, apparently there have been some pretty bad spills and leaks into groundwater from various forms of nastiness associated with solar PV production in China,

1) Apparently - See, I asked Charles Barton over in the fission thread to provide proof of his claim. Glad you qualified the claim 'it appears' - as no one has proof at this time.
2) Now I have not idea if the issue is because of PV or if the issue is 'standard' manufacturing waste - what in the US would be called a 'brownfield'.

but to my mind that just shows that you have to take reasonable precautions whatever you do.

Yes. One can look at the history of the industrial revolution and how 'the captians of industry' could not stop crapping up their own nests - thus government regulations came into effect.

You can't design a more dangerous and polluting system than the use of coal

*coff* fission *coff*

Other fission news:
Yesterday was a double+good fission plant news day.

Eric, I don't think there is much point in rehashing debates about nuclear yet again, but I was specifically comparing to coal, and with deaths in the thousands every single year it does not remotely compare to the safety record of nuclear, or indeed of almost anything else.
The link you provide is also talking about weapons production, not civil use.
Whether we in the West have a civil nuclear program won't affect such programs in other countries in any way.

I've no idea as to whether the claims of pollution from PV manufacture are valid, but here is a link to an article claiming it:

It sounds reasonable - any chemical process industry is dangerous if you do not properly regulate it.

All these things are several orders of magnitude lower in risk than the coal industry.

Thank you for the link.

Now I understand why Charles Barton feared backing up his claim. From the link:

The tests show high concentrations of chlorine and hydrochloric acid,

Thus the issue becomes one of unregulated capitalists shifting costs - as the maker could have been doing some other industrial process. They just happened to be making PV panels so therefore Charles Barton could then wave about a hunk of paper while claiming he has a list of PV dangers.

Shi estimates that Chinese companies are saving millions of dollars by not installing pollution recovery.

And such would happen in the US of A if there were not regulations saying "no".

Everything is dangerous if you make a mess of it.
Not that I would advocate banning solar PV or something because of it, but the most dangerous areas tend to be those where you have the general public carrying out operations - so driving to the airport is a lot more dangerous than flying on the plane, the most likely place for you to be injured is in the kitchen, and so on.
In that context rooftop solar PV is likely to have a fairly high accident rate, as I can just imagine people thinking that they will 'just pop out onto the roof to clean the PV array' and falling off the ladder.

Here is a true story from Bristol (it could only be Bristol) to show what the general public is capable of:
A chap decided to save some money by installing a damp-proof membrane himself.
The usual procedure(most houses here are brick) is to knock out two or three bricks, roll the membrane into the hole, rebrick and carry on along the wall, allowing obviously time for the mortar to set at intervals.
He could not be bothered to fool around wasting time like that.
He removed the entire course of bricks at once.
The wall decided it would rather be on the ground, and killed him!

People tend to over-estimate risks from large systems, and under-estimate risks in their everyday lives.

It seems to me important to resist the temptation to be an 'advocate'. Here is a link from today for a new possible risk from nuclear power:

Technicians at a nuclear power plant change uranium fuel in the reactors. New high-efficiency nuclear fuel meant to burn longer and stronger may prove unstable in an emergency and hard to dispose of, according experts cited in a report published Wednesday.

Now some would seek to use that to condemn nuclear power in general, and possibly others who like me think that nuclear is a worthwhile low-carbon alternative might be tempted not to draw attention to this difficulty.

To me it seems that all issues should be squarely addressed, but this one simply means that we need to be careful in enriching fuel, just as you can't be careless in producing solar panels.

To the extent that I am able, which is obviously limited as I am not an engineer, I would seek to look at all aspects of technologies, and fairly list the pros and cons of alternatives.

Whatever sources we go for we can't afford to make a pig's ear of implementation.

but this one simply means that we need to be careful in enriching fuel, just as you can't be careless in producing solar panels.


I was reading elsewhere tonight that USA airlines are in trouble because the equipment (the airplanes themselves) are aging and the industry has been cutting corners on inspection and upgrades in order to save "money".

Somehow from all this, I could feel the warm glow of Ronald Raygun beaming merrily down on my shoulders from up there in bean-counter heaven.

The forces of the "free market" have once again been let loose and have brought us to a far far better place than we ever could have been if those evil "regulators" had been allowed to exercise some restraining control over the greed factor.

The greed factor is of course a player in the tragi-comedy story you tell of the do-it-yourselfer who replaced his membrane.

The greed factor will be an ever present player in the running of commercial nuclear power plants. Try to remember that contracts are awarded to the lowest bidders. That's how "we" do things.

BTW: Nuclear fuel does not "burn". It decays. E=mc^2. A small amount of mass is lost in the decay process and becomes energy. Be wary of any English major out there who tries to wax poetic about lean mean and "efficient" burning of nuclear fuel. No it's radioactive decay. Radioactive.

Since no one else has mentioned it yet, I want to promote the Automatic Earth's story today on the Spanish Civil War and the support for fascism by American corporations. The role of oil is not ignored.

Curious to see the reactions to this sordid tale. Sometimes I see a British story on the canonization of pro-fascist martyrs in Spain, or on "Pan's Labyrinth", and there are replies defending Franco, for God's sake.

Middle class grow fearful about their prospects: Poll says predictions for short-term progress grimmest in nearly 50 years

WASHINGTON - Growing numbers of middle-class Americans say they are not better off than they were five years ago, reflecting economic pressures amid growing debt, a study released Wednesday shows. Their short-term assessments of personal progress, according to the study, is the worst it has been in almost half a century.

...Among the middle class, no consensus existed on who was to blame for their economic problems. Twenty-six percent blamed the government, while 15 percent faulted the price of oil and 11 percent said the people themselves were responsible. Others faulted foreign competition and private corporations for economic woes.

I think the cause is obvious. The American middle class watches entirely too much television!

Hello TODers,

If you haven't checked Matt Savinar's LATOC lately:

Editor's Note: Food is running out.
Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

UN food body calls for summit on global food 'emergency'

NEW DELHI (AFP) — The head of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation on Wednesday urged world leaders to attend a summit in early June to discuss what he described as an "emergency" global food shortage.

"In the face of food riots around the world like in Africa and Haiti, we really have an emergency," FAO chief Jacques Diouf told a news conference in New Delhi.

...Lennart Bage, the president of the UN's International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), said government were waking up to the problem.

"There is a real realisation that we cannot take food and food security for granted anymore," said the official, who was speaking at the end of an UN conference on agrobusiness.

Hello TODers,

Experts predict 'very active' Atlantic hurricane season
Let's hope not.

Hello TODers,

More bad news showing that I-NPK is still rising faster than crude:

Spot potash is heading for $500-$600

Prices of fertilizer-related minerals (potash and sulphur) have risen to new heights, says chief industry and commodity economist Patricia Mohr at Scotiabank Group in Toronto. She points out that potash prices at the Port of Vancouver in British Columbia “have jumped from record to record, climbing from US$316 per metric ton in January to $394 in February to $412.50 in March — up 129.2% year-over-year.”

Mohr tells clients that “prices will advance further in the next six months..."

China has only modest inventories of potash (just over 2 million metric tons) and is expected to settle its contract in April-May at a much higher price — more in line with the higher prices paid elsewhere.
How many more poor subsistence farmers will be forced into devastating Liebig Minimums as 'Murkans continue to scatter I-NPK onto their purely decorative lawns and golf courses?

Does playing one round of golf = 10 dead kids in the Third World?

EDIT: Should people on riding lawn-mowers be required to wear a Grim Reaper costume?

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

In the US people should be on riding lawn mowers only to till their suburban lawns into gardens that grow food.

I have grown an extra crop of tomato plants from seed in the hope of getting friends this year to grow some of their own veggies. Been using natural, self produced NPK on the grass and bushes for the last six months. These fertilized plants are really growing fast and dark green. Thanks for advice, Bob!

Been using natural, self produced NPK on the grass and bushes for the last six months. These fertilized plants are really growing fast and dark green.

Urine? (Not joking - urine contains lots of NPK ) (bolding mine)

The only issue I am aware of with urine is the NaCl. Alas, Na is hard to get out.

There was an interview on the PBS NewsHour tonight with Vijay Vaitheeswaran.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And, finally, one question everybody has in the United States and in so many other parts of the world when you talk about the high price of oil, and that is, can I keep my car? What's the future of the automobile?

VIJAY VAITHEESWARAN: Well, it's very popular to revile the SUV as the work of the devil, particularly over in Europe. I argue that, in fact, oil is the problem. The clean car of the future can actually be at the heart of the solution...

...And the good news is the technology is being developed in Detroit by some of the car companies, but especially in Silicon Valley and even in China and India for the clean car of the future that will use a variety of fuels. It could be electricity. It could be hydrogen. It could be an advanced biofuel.

It appears he was interviewed because he has a book, Power to the People, out:

"Written for the intelligent layperson, Vaitheeswaran's book is by far the most helpful, entertaining, up-to-date and accessible treatment of the energy-economy-environment problematique available." --Daniel Yergin, Pulizter Prize winning Author of The Prize.

(The site's spelling, not mine.) "Problematique" - that sounds like a hyper-pretentious invented International English word handed down from the alternate fantasy universe of Europolitics. I'll leave the interpretation of the word "entertaining" to the reader.

I saw the interview. Vijay Vaitheeswaran is a complete idiot.

There are going to be a series of interviews and hopefully some of their other invited guests will know what they are talking about.

Sounds like just another of an endless string of hardworking, hustling, intelligent BS artists-knowing what you are talking about is extremely overrated.

According to my dictionary 'Problematic' derives from the French word "Problematique" (sorry, I can't add the accent to the 'e'!), which in turn dervies from the Latin and Greek. I would not be surprised if Yergin were fluent in French.

re: Yergin's fluency.. remember, it's all about flow.

A few Drumpeats ago - I noted how $3.50 gas got ppl talking. Now, the 'ride the bus' ads are back on the one eyed cyclops .

The Bakken in North Dakota, Montana, and Saskatchewan Canada wells averaged much lower than the 500 barrel per well Saudi Average. Initial rates may have been as high 200 barrels per day then the production rapidly declined within two months, fracture stimulation was required, then by the end of the first year the wells may have produced less than 60 barrels a day. There were lifting costs involved. The oil sands of Canada and Venezuela contained more potentially recoverable bitumen amenable to upgrading-synthetic fuel production than the fine grained Bakken layer and production there is expected to increase to a greater degree.