DrumBeat: April 13, 2008

Peak and ye shall find - it doesn’t have to be so bad

Let’s begin with a silly bet sent out by ASPO (Association for the Study of Peak Oil) to CERA (Cambridge Energy Research Associates, part of IHS). It wasn’t bad marketing: I suspect that some magazine(s) will publish the supposed $100,000 bet. But eventually I came to see it as the publicity stunt that it was. CERA won’t take the bet, and even if they did, money would never change hands from the non-profit ASPO to the profitable CERA in nine years. The bet was whether CERA’s recent forecast of 112 million barrels a day of global “oil” production capacity by 2017 would materialize, up from about 87 million today.

Are We Doomed? Why Civilizations Like Ours Fall

MacKenzie says it all comes down to how complex and interconnected your civilization is. Hierarchies tend to create increasing levels of bureaucracy, each serving in part to deal with problems created by the other levels. When the situation becomes too complex to manage, she says, "you turn into a network where the decision-making is sort of decentralized."

Carolyn Baker: Recession, Depression, Collapse: What's Fear Got to Do with It?

No one walking away from a foreclosed home, no one declaring bankruptcy, no uninsured person staring in the face tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills needs a maestro or any other member of the ruling elite to tell them that not only are we in a recession, but we are on a fast-track to a depression that is going to make 1929 look like living in the lap of luxury. It's called the collapse of Western civilization, and it is well underway.

Oh, you don't like my use of the word "collapse"? Then please listen up.

The Coming War with Iran: It's About the Oil, Stupid

World civilization is based on oil. The world is running out of oil. The oil companies and governments are not telling the truth about how close we are to the end. Dick Cheney knew about peak oil back in 1999 when he spoke to the London Petroleum Institute as Halliburton CEO. He predicted it would come in 2010. After that it's just a matter of years before it runs out. Whoever controls the remaining oil determines who lives and who dies.

Iraqi government orders crackdown on unauthorized control of gas stations by militias

BAGHDAD: The Iraqi government on Sunday announced plans to crack down on militiamen controlling gas stations and oil distribution in a new move to dry the resources of armed groups.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has given instructions to ban the interference or the presence of any unofficial people or groups at state-run and private gas stations, refineries and oil distribution centers, according to a government statement.

'Sky-high' oil prices to last until 2020

The world is now in a period of sky-high oil prices that will last a long time — probably until 2020, according to the world's largest investment bank.

Senior analyst Gioavanni Serio in Goldman Sachs, visiting Norway, told participants in an energy seminar that the oil industry moves in 20-year cycles, reports finance industry newswire E24.

France says food should take priority over biofuel

PARIS (Reuters) - Production of food must take precedence globally over biofuels as prices surge and the threat of famine grows, France's farm minister said on Friday, calling for a European Union initiative on world supplies.

German development minister calls for reguluation of biofuels market

WASHINGTON: Germany's development minister is calling for greater regulation of the global biofuels market to prevent its expansion from driving up food prices.

Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul says "it is unacceptable for the export of agrofuels to pose a threat to the supply situation of the very people already living in poverty."

Darling calls for urgent review of biofuel policies

Alistair Darling has demanded an urgent review of international biofuel programmes as part of a plan to tackle the world's mounting food crisis. The Chancellor said he had asked the World Bank to produce an analysis - for June's G7 meeting of global leaders - on the impact of green policies, including America and Europe's biofuel programmes, on global food shortages.

'This is an urgent problem,' said Darling, who was speaking in Washington at a meeting of G7 leaders. 'People across the world will say, "Why didn't you see this coming?" when it is staring us in the face. We have got to take action.'

Energy politics in South Asia

An all too visible energy crunch lies at the heart of Pakistan's unfolding economic crisis. In fact, its deleterious effects in various sectors have become obvious probably a trifle earlier than expected because of a rapid increase in demand.

It is a problem that all the states of South Asia face in a setting where for reasons that vary from case to case actual achievement in developing power has lagged behind national planning.

Britain ignored risk of whale extinction in rush for oil and gas

Britain agreed to bankroll controversial drilling for oil and gas, despite a warning from its own officials of the "potentially devastating effects" on a critically endangered species of whale. The decision to flout their own experts' advice is revealed in deeply embarrassing documents the Government fought for three years to keep secret.

A warm welcome: Oil and gas in Peru

WITHIN a decade, says Peru's prime minister, Jorge del Castillo, his country will be a net exporter of energy. While other Latin American governments are tightening the screws on foreign investment in oil and gas, Peru is courting it. It has opened up swathes of the country to exploration, and is encouraging the $1 billion modernisation of a state-run oil refinery and the construction of an export terminal for a huge liquefied natural gas project, which would be the biggest investment in Peruvian history.

Oil, environment, lifestyle fuel Asia's two-wheeler boom

SINGAPORE (AFP) — Record high oil prices, environmental concerns, affluent lifestyles as well as the need to dodge city traffic are driving a boom in Asia's motorcycle and bicycle market, industry figures say.

The rediscovery of cycling as a way to keep fit is also helping to boost demand for two-wheelers, those at a bicycle and motorcycle exhibition which runs in Singapore until Sunday said.

Energy and food problems need global solutions, says Sachs

Any one of the problems that economist Jeffrey Sachs takes on would be daunting by itself: finding sustainable energy sources to avoid environmental destruction; stabilizing world population; ending extreme poverty and creating a new system for global cooperation.

Yet Sachs, who directs the Earth Institute at Columbia University, tackles all four in his new book, called "Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet."

He argues that finding solutions to these interconnected problems is not only possible, it's inexpensive, and would take just 2 to 3 percent of the world's annual income.

Shell Finds Leak, Shuts Oil Pipe From Gulf to Midwest

(Bloomberg) -- Royal Dutch Shell Plc said a leak forced the shutdown of a crude oil pipeline that moves more than 1 million barrels a day from the Gulf of Mexico to Midwestern refiners, cutting supplies at a time of near-record prices.

High gas prices portend 'The Long Emergency'

While many drivers may be concerned about the short-term drain that gas prices are having on their wallets, author and activist James Howard Kunstler says the bigger problems associated with oil and gas are profound, long-range, and irreversible.

Kunstler believes that what drivers are witnessing now is only a glimpse into what the future holds for society as a whole -- a future that will force communities around the world to restructure the way they're organized.

Canada: The spectre of hunger

It's bad enough some cash-strapped families are forced to remortgage just to keep up with skyrocketing energy prices.

If you think $1.14 a litre at the pumps is gouging -- just wait for summer.

But Lord help the lowly consumer if our new crisis, a global food shortage, hits home.

Delhi govt. cracks down hard against hoarders

Cracking down on hoarders and black-marketeers, the Delhi Government has conducted raids in the capital and recovered huge stock of edible oils, pulses and cereals along with confiscating a whopping 2.5 lakh quintals of rice from a godown in Narela.

India: No food grain use for bio-fuel production

On Board Air India Special Aircraft, April 13 (IANS) India may be talking to Brazil over bio-fuel production for fuel sustainability, but Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is clear that his country, facing a food shortage, will not copy the South American nation to make ethanol from edible plants. According to Vilasrao Muttemwar, the minister for non-conventional energy accompanying President Pratibha Patil on her visit to Brazil, Mexico and Chile, Manmohan Singh has said that food grains should not be used to make bio-fuel in India.

As food costs climb, so do the number of starving people around the world

Blame Australian drought. Blame the shrinking dollar. Blame ethanol. Blame $100-a-barrel oil and $3-plus gasoline. Blame China for finding prosperity. Blame India, too. Blame humankind for liking the taste of meat.

Whatever’s to blame, it’s the world’s poor who go hungry.

The number of hungry poor on the planet had stabilized in recent years. But soaring costs for food, and for shipping it to the starving, form the basis of a burgeoning global food shortage.

How Far is the US From Food Shortages and Food Riots?

As one retired grain salesman noted, most of the nation’s grain is moved around the country by just TWO railroads. Little is stored in the event of disaster and the whole system is extremely vulnerable. While we in the United States look at the food riots in other countries with a sense of disbelief, we are not immune. Under the right circumstances, we could be in the same boat.

After Protests, Haitian Leader Announces Rice Subsidies

Responding to violent street protests against rising food prices that ground Haiti to a halt over the last week, President René Préval announced subsidies on Saturday that he said would cut the cost of rice by more than 15 percent.

But the emergency move was not enough to stop Haitian senators from voting to remove Mr. Préval’s prime minister, Jacques-Édouard Alexis, who has been blamed for handling the struggling economy ineptly.

Saudi cuts output

LONDON: Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter, has trimmed its output to about nine million barrels per day (bpd), a Saudi oil source said yesterday.

The level is slightly lower than the 9.2m bpd that Saudi Arabia had been producing until now and reflects lower customer demand, the source said.

Oman inflation jumps, showing cost of dollar peg

MUSCAT/DUBAI - Annual inflation in Oman, one of six Gulf oil producers, surged above 10 percent this year for the first time in at least 18 years, highlighting the cost of being pegged to the ailing dollar as food prices soared.

Calderón's high-stakes gamble over Pemex

For 70 uninterrupted years, the constitution has guaranteed Pemex unchallenged control over Mexico's oil resources, from exploration to the gas pump. And for many Mexicans, any change in that formula is tantamount to sedition.

The change needs to happen nonetheless. Pemex is financially mismanaged, partly because of corruption that has helped enrich several of Mexico's elite families. It is inefficient, has a bloated bureaucracy and is badly in need of modernization. Though treading lightly, Mr. Calderón is taking the first steps to put Pemex on a better path.

Bangladesh okays $3bn Saudi oil investment

DHAKA: Bangladesh has approved to go ahead with a $3bn investment by Saudi Arabia to set up an oil refinery with a capacity to produce 300,000 barrels of oil products a day, a senior official said yesterday.

Shell wants to set up a global CO2 market

Royal Dutch Shell, Europe's largest oil company, wants a global carbon market to be introduced as "quickly as possible" to ensure that nations like India and China participate.

Alberta Govt Gives Royalty Break To Deep Oil, Gas Dvlpmnt

The Alberta government announced two new royalty programs Thursday to encourage the development of deep oil and gas wells, responding to criticism about the "unintended consequences" of its new royalty regime.

The programs will provide royalty breaks to the high-cost, high productivity wells that were hit hard by the royalty rate increases announced in October.

Conoco, BP plans for gas line carry hope to economy

BP and Conoco Phillips' announcement Tuesday that they will move forward to prepare for an open season for a gas pipeline should send a jolt of new confidence through the state's business community, which we badly need, what with worries of a national recession.

I was amused, however, by all the politicians in Juneau crediting themselves for making this happen. The two companies said that a deciding factor in moving ahead now is their belief that we are in a new environment of high energy prices for good.

Venezuela oil wealth no cure for problems in health care

Problems in Venezuela's health care system did not materialize when Chavez took office. The system has been beset by corruption, mismanagement and disorganization for decades. Tropical conditions have made the country ripe for a host of epidemics difficult for any government to control. An encephalitis outbreak in 1996 sickened 20,000 people.

But the system's current crisis comes as the country is awash in oil wealth, a windfall that critics say could be used to ease the problem.

Officials robbing ExxonMobil

What Alabama citizens might not realize is that trial lawyer type "Robin Hood" schemes against deep-pockets companies will ultimately rob jobs, diminish health care availability and restrict economic development in areas that need it most.

Pakistan: APTMA slams 8-hour load-shedding

LAHORE: All Pakistan Textile Mills Association Chairman Punjab Akber Sheikh has slammed the unprecedented six to eight-hour unscheduled and unannounced load-shedding being endured by the textile industry. Contrary to assurances of managed load shedding, the distribution companies (DISCOs) and the National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC) were shutting off electricity to textile units directly from the grids.

A solution for Lebanon's power shortage

The installation of a solar water heater in Lebanon is an effective way to combine ecology, economy and energy independence.

South Africa: Is Eskom shocking us into using less power?

Eskom's drive to drastically hike electricity tariffs is a "shock and awe" tactic aimed at getting consumers to permanently slash their consumption.

Re-lighting the world

As chief executive of one of San Luis Obispo’s newest high-tech companies, King Lee says he believes his General LED business holds the torch that will re-light the world.

On the Irish Coast, Reconsidering Energy From the Town Up

DUNDALK, Ireland - WHEN the fearsome Cuchulainn was transformed by the rage of battle into a Celtic Incredible Hulk, according to Irish mythology, the warrior’s intensity melted snow for 30 feet around him. That was an impressive generation of alternative energy from this Achilles-like hero so closely associated with Dundalk, but this town on Ireland’s east coast is turning to less ephemeral kinds of power as it tests technologies to reduce the country’s thirst for fossil fuels.

When Cheap Housing Isn’t: How Transportation Changes the Equation

Ballooning gasoline prices aren’t just changing how people drive—they may soon change where people live. With gas stuck above $3.00 a gallon, those cheaper houses in the suburbs can be a money-losing proposition in the end.

A Cleaner, Leaner Jet Age Has Arrived

JET engines are now so reliable that a pilot can go an entire career without seeing one fail. Autopilots are so good that some airlines have set up their cockpits to emit a loud beep every few minutes, to make sure the crew is still awake. And navigation is so accurate that landings can be timed to the second.

So what’s left to worry about in aviation?

In a word, fuel.

Defects found in nuclear reactor the French want to build in Britain

Safety investigators uncover cracks in the concrete base and substandard welds. Lack of recent experience in building nuclear plants said to have caused problem.

Death Looms for a Flood-Control Project

STEELE BAYOU, Miss. — Seven decades of hydro-engineering have transformed the lower Mississippi Delta from wetlands to dry fields of cotton and soybeans. Levees and canals funnel runoff from hundreds of thousands of acres here to a huge set of metal gates that sit across Steele Bayou.

The debate over whether the Delta’s transformation was an engineering feat or environmental folly winds up here, too.

Saudi King says keeping some oil finds for future

Saudi Arabia - RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah said he had ordered some new oil discoveries left untapped to preserve oil wealth in the world's top exporter for future generations, the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

"I keep no secret from you that when there were some new finds, I told them, 'no, leave it in the ground, with grace from god, our children need it'," King Abdullah said in remarks made late on Saturday, SPA said.

Bakken oil shows market’s true power

We’re running out of oil.

Whale oil, that is.

And if an American prophet had said that in about 1850, he or she would have been right.

But so what? In the early 1800s, the future wasn’t about whale oil, it turned out. Even though whaling was one of America’s biggest industries and most Americans lit their lamps with whale oil at night.

Is sun setting on Hawaii’s future?

For 25 percent of adults, the first sign of heart disease is sudden death from a heart attack.

For isolated economies, the first sign that you have flamed out might be that the planes stop flying to your airport on a regular basis.

UK: Crushed on the road to oil armageddon

ANOTHER WEEK, another set of dire omens and fears for the UK haulage industry. Last week it was the turn of Unite, Britain's largest trade union to warn that unless the government implements an essential users' rebate on diesel tax, small companies will go bust and employees will lose out on wages.

With the industry reeling over the price of diesel and the massive amount of tax commercial users have to pay, Ron Webb, Unite's national secretary for road transport, said: "The government needs to listen to the trade associations. Unless they introduce a method of returning some of the tax to road haulage companies they will simply not be able to continue to operate. Not only will small companies go bust but larger companies are informing us across the bargaining table that unless they see a change soon it will mean lower wages for employees."

Chevron, Total seek oil deal in Iraq

BAGHDAD - Oil giants Chevron Corp. and Total have confirmed that they are in discussions with the Iraqi Oil Ministry to increase production in an important oil field in southern Iraq.

The discussions are aimed at finalizing a two-year deal, or technical support agreement, to boost production at the West Qurna Stage 1 oil field near Iraq's second-largest city of Basra.

Australia: 'Dammed if we do'

Steve’s aim is to shake city-dwellers out of their complacency about plans to build the Traveston Crossing dam and show them what is at stake.

He said the world has passed peak oil, we need food sources close to urban centres, the Lockyer Valley is drying up and the government is planning to flood arable land on Brisbane’s doorstep. Moreover, climate change will bring reduced rainfall and the dam will contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, he added.

Shell's future in Nigeria in doubt

Royal Dutch Shell is facing pressure from the Nigerian government and increasingly violent opposition in the Niger Delta oil-producing region, raising questions over its long-term future in the country.

Australia: Diesel's turn under the pump

THE new petrol price watchdog has promised to scrutinise soaring diesel prices, amid concern that oil companies are using the fuel to gouge profits previously earned on unleaded.

Financing crucial to next climate change pact: U.N.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The global fight against climate change after the Kyoto pact expires will fail unless rich countries can come up with creative ways to finance clean development by poorer nations, a U.N. official said on Saturday.

I don't know if this has been posted, but refinery closures in importing countries are a logical consequence of the export/import dynamics. BTW, interesting comments by the Saudi King, as their production is reportedly again declining.

Oil refining surplus may bring wave of UK, US plant closures

Production from new refineries in Asia and the Middle East will cut global refining profit margins and hurt the refiners most susceptible to both market forces and gasoline markets, said Johannes Benigni, managing director of JBC Energy. “UK plants are the most exposed,” Benigni said. “They are not in good shape. They rely on gasoline exports to the United States. Eventually, they will either have to reduce runs and if they can’t adapt, will have to look at closure.US plants are also exposed.” Many of the new refineries are coming online in countries such as China and the Middle East where governments are looking to fulfill the strategic objective of meeting domestic demand. That makes the plants less susceptible to market forces than those in Europe, the United States and Japan, Fesharaki said.

Regarding the Saudi comments:

Net Oil Exports and the "Iron Triangle"
July 13, 2007 - 8:00am

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

But now they are saying they are setting aside some fields for future generations, which seems like a very rational way of looking at things. I don't see our oil companies offering to set aside, say, ANWR, Bakken, or the OCS for future generations.

They clearly have signaled that there is a problem, that oil is not infinite, that they, and therefore we, need to take alternative action to prosper, or even survive, in the future. Even if their lack of additional production is a function of choice, and not necessity, so what? What would change the dynamic to induce them to produce more oil? If these prices won't do it, what would? $500 oil?

Of course, we are getting decidedly mixed messages from the Saudis. The oil minister is talked about proven + probable + possible of hundreds and hundreds of billions of barrels, approaching a trillion.

In any case, the data are not yet conclusive, but we can say that the successor swing producer, Saudi Arabia, is showing the same post-peak characteristics as the prior swing producer, Texas, at about the same stage of depletion (based on HL), to-wit:

Higher Oil Prices + Increased Drilling = Lower Oil Production

leave it in the ground, with grace from god, our children need it

At least the Saudi King is being honest at last - it's not like it isn't obvious stuff - without oil the Saudis literally die, so it's not like we on TOD didn't expect this.

Drip, drip, drip! When, if ever, will MSM get the message?

The King appears to be saying that he doesn't buy into significant reserve growth for his country, that future high prices won't have the effect of creating additional reserves. In other words, he appears to be skeptical of the theory (unproven, of course) that the world economy and the future well-being of billions now rely upon. From a mainstream economist's perspective, the King is truly radical.

Related to this is that he seems to be suggesting Saudis won't be raising production. Ever.

Very good observation, Pedestrian. I wonder if, as well, his most excellent majesty hasn't recognized that the longstanding line that market forces are keeping several million bpd of production offline is beginning to look like the shallow lie that it is in the face of relentlessly increasing oil prices.

Shifting the narrative from exaggeration about reserves and distortions about adequately supplied markets and large inventories (essentially all new demand is coming from countries like China with no known inventories), to concerns about the well-being of future generations of Saudis, improves the credibility of the 'managed' production scenario. The king probably considers this to be a superior 'information' strategy in the face of arguments from regime opponents that the kingdom's primary resource is being frittered away.

It's all propaganda and not very good propaganda at that. Either the Saudis are willfully holding oil off the market to make a killing -- short term gain for long term disaster -- or they are just attempting to obfuscate the fact that they can't substantially increase production.

I hate reading these statements. They aren't even comforting lies. What the Saudis have failed to understand is that a good lie holds in it at least a part of the truth. This stuff here is just mumbo-jumbo -- with added mumbling for effect.

I thought that the King's statement about leaving the oil in the ground for the children was very smart. If Saudi oil production later this year is below 9 mbd then the King can simply say "we are saving some oil for our children".

Here is a chart from Zagar's ASPO 2005 presentation which shows some static fields in green which could be saved for the children.

Saudi Arabia Discoveries OIIP - click to enlarge
Saudi Arabia Can It Deliver?
Jack Zagar, MHA Petroleum Consultants
ASPO Conference - Lisbon, Portugal, May 19-20, 2005

The static green fields may be small in size and harder to develop than large fields but could be significant. The 65 static fields contain about 17% of OIIP of about 100 Gb. Assuming a conservative recovery factor of 30% this gives 30 Gb URR in total. The average URR per field would be just over 0.45 Gb.

Assuming that the King's statement is a warning that Saudi's oil production is now in slow decline, or at best on a 9 mbd C&C plateau, then I have no doubt that the world's crude oil and lease condensate production is now in irreversible decline as shown below.

click to enlarge
Please note that the chart above includes Alberta tar sands production but excludes biofuels, natural gas liquids and refinery processing gains.
For more info please see http://www.theoildrum.com/node/3623
and http://www.theoildrum.com/node/3665

One thing that's interesting when looking at the Saudi Discoveries plot is that of all the fields discovered since 1970 or so, they chose to develop the Hawtah fields -- and they have proved to be problematic. And they didn't stumble across them, either. They looked real hard, and then were very excited (and boastful) when they found them. Why develop those, and not the others (especially those which are larger)? The super light API oil? I don't think that they were inspired by JFK* and did it just "because it was hard". Rather, the others were less attractive for some reason. Go after the easy oil first, and wait for later technology improvements to make getting the harder oil out less costly.

*from his Moon Speech

I suppose the Hawtah fields, at the bottom left of the chart below, were the easiest to develop compared to the other discoveries made since about 1970. Many of the other discovered fields in the 1970s appear to be located in the upper left corner of the chart below. These fields might also contain heavier oil and lack infrastructure.

click to enlarge

excellent chart! thanks ace!

Given the attitude exhibited in the top article, even when inklings do occur to the MSM, their stake in BAU will, shall we say, color their interpretation. What begins as a bashing of ASPO shifts into some recognition of the problem: the liquids that can pass for “oil” cannot grow fast enough in a business-as-usual case. But I find this paragraph to be disgustingly arrogant (emphasis added):

Even if oil does peak and demand remains positive, the effects might not be all that bad. Alternatives would begin to come on strong, as market forces, while lagging, would nevertheless kick in with surprising speed. Sure, we might have to get used to “stagflation” again for awhile. And if energy prices go through the roof, and gasoline costs $12 a gallon, that will still be OK to those of us who can afford it. Plus, it will have the highly desirable side effect of keeping the Third World in their...well, let’s just say in third place. (After all, if everybody gets rich enough to buy a car, who will make my $80 tennis shoes for $1 in labor?)

Agreed WT, I follow this logic

…. but refinery closures in importing countries are a logical consequence of the export/import dynamics.

But there is another logic which I cannot grasp and that is:
(less demand renders more revenue , in which chapter of a economy-book is this explained?)

When one or more refineries are having difficulties or other issues that make refining capacity GO DOWN (like a fire or heavy maintenance) … well then (according to MSM) the cost of the crude-barrel GOES UP!?!?

IF this perception is correct (and I think it is) then the world should reduce the numbers of refineries, if we find crude expensive and nothing happens at the pump …… no? 

I've never understood the rationale either for oil prices going up following a refinery fire. If we carried the reasoning out to its logical conclusion, and if 100% of all refineries shut down worldwide, would oil prices then be several hundred dollars per barrel?

In any case, as I said previously, I think that refiners are in a situation similar to the airlines. They have to respectively weigh the rising cost of crude and jet fuel against the volume of refined product and tickets that their customers can and will buy--given rising prices for refined products and tickets.

As I said in September, IMO, this suggests declining refinery utilization in importing countries, ultimately leading to less efficient refineries shutting down. Yet another example of the conventional wisdom, i.e., we have too few refineries, being dead wrong.

My private conclusion to this effect is straight forward:

The bidders for the next barrel is sensing trouble (when they read about a refinery fire) ... b/c normally trouble spawns higher prices … and there you go : Higher price there is ! (could it be this simple ? )

Your utilisation argument is the essence of global peaking - economics (need to make profits) determines the timing of the global peak, not geology.

I think the reason the crude price goes up if there is a refinery fire is because the crude stored at that refinery for production is now not going to be used until the repairs are made.

The refinery's shortfall in production has to be made up by increased production somewhere else, so the somewhere else has to purchase extra crude on an urgent basis.

As expected by normal economic theory, when the demand suddenly increases the spot price goes up.

When the refinery is fixed there will be temporary overcapacity so the crude price will fall back - hence the daily ups and downs in price.

xeroid ,your arguments don’t convince me at all.
What demand increase are you talking about ?

As expected by normal economic theory, when the demand suddenly increases the spot price goes up.

If one refinery is out of operation there is LESS DEMAND UPSTREAM (that refinery simply cannot take oil for practical reasons) and probably their DOWNSTREAM op. is hampered as well (not necessary short term, emptying stocks may take a week or so ..)

World- wide there is one place less to deliver oil, so oil underway to this terminal has to find another place/ taker (nearby) ….. if you were the CEO at the next-door refinery , would you suddenly pay more for this unexpected and unplanned for oil ? Can you squeeze it in between all the regular stuff in scheduled oil-tankers coming your way?

OTOH I would expect an increase at the local pump (downstream), b/c there will be less gasoline available short term.

The Saudis say the market is well supplied.
But they still have Asian refiners on allocation! That is the Asian refiners have contracts for specific amounts of oil to be delivered, but the Saudis are delivering less than the specified amount - WHY?????
When the Saudis start increasing production enough to meet their contractual obligations, Then I will believe they might have more available?

If this is true, it's one hell of a story. Would you be willing to post your sources here?

Leanan linked the story a few days ago on DrumBeat.


Not SO Much Hope for Saudi Oil Production,


Fantastic! I think I'll write my own story about this one. Thanks for the link, Alan.

Best hope for more electrified rail instead ;)


We are getting near the end of the period of denial. At what price of gasoline will the mainstream consensus become that we are near or past the world oil production peak?

I do not think the denial can withstand $5 per gallon gasoline.

I also wonder how fast rising demand in Asia will push up prices. So far rising demand has managed to push up prices quite rapidly. Will the rate of price rise accelerate or will demand destruction start to slow the ascent?

This is and excerpt from “Six Degrees” a recent publication on global warming by Mark Lynas

Page 286
States Of Denial
Energy realities are not the only reason why our response to global warming has hitherto been so halfhearted. Our evolutionary psychology preconditions us not to respond to threats that can be postponed until later.
We are good at mobilizing for immediate battles, less good at heading of challenges that still lie far in the future.
Hence the most appropriate term to describe individual and societal responses so far is probably denial..........................

Denial is complex, involving a variety of defensive responses from the familiar “climate change is a myth” to the more understandable (but ultimately no more useful) “but I need my car for my job”.

It is of course, no coincidence that the same people who are deeply wedded to high fossil-fuel use – oilmen for example, are the one most likely to deny the reality of climate change...........................
there is nothing more difficult as trying to get a person to understand something when their salery depends on not understanding...............

According to psychologists, denial is a way for people to resolve the dissonance caused by new information that may challenge deeply held views or cherished patterns of behaviour.
Motorists therefore, may not be willing to absorb information, that challenges their perceived need to use their cars............................

Given that resolving dissonance is difficult and that denying it is dishonest, many people choose another way out of the dilemma: displacement.
In short, they blame someone else...............................it may mean singling someone else whose behaviour is worse – the hybrid driver pointing to the Hummer driver for example.

For policy makers, displacement might mean blaming entire countries: The Byrd-Hagel resolution in the U.S. Senate refused to countenance any change to American lifestyles unless developing countries also cut back on their emissions....................

Climate change (and in Bandits opinion peak oil) is a “tragedy of the commons” problem, where behaviour that makes sense at an individual level ultimately proves disastrous to society when repeated by everyone.
The concept's originator Garrett Hardin, gives the example of cattle herders using shared pastures to illustrate the problem.
Each herder stands to gain individually by adding another cow to the common; he gets more beef and milk but if all herders act the same way, the result is overgrazing and the destruction of the shared resource.

Psychological denial is integral to the process, Hardin writes: “The individual benefits as an individual to deny the truth, even though society as a whole, of which he is a part, suffers”.........................

Perhaps the most pervasive and enduring form of denial is what the Swiss researchers call “the faith in some form of managerial fix” in particular in the belief that the white knights of technology will come riding to the rescue.
Like other forms of denial, the faith in a “techno-fix” evades the need for any serious behavioural change..................................

In a wider sense, one could argue that the whole economic system of modern Western society is founded on denial........................
End book excerpt.

In my opinion the large amount of thread hogging on TOD is by many people still in denial or forever in denial.
They explain their dreams as going down “kicking and screaming” or “doing something” or “not, not doing anything”.
Until it is accepted that we will have to suffer and I mean really suffer, on a collective and especially an individual level, we will continue to read on TOD how we can continue our lifestyle if only we electrify everything and change to new forms of energy and power generation.

Richard Heinberg got it right, we have to power down. We have to power down now, nothing else will suffice.
That would mean suffering though.

What practical use is there in concentrating on accepting suffering in advance ?

I do not deny it (see my TOD article on 2034) but I do not fear it or concentrate on it.


Been there, Done that in New Orleans,


I'll tell ya what big guy, of all the folks who post here, you are by far the most delusional. Yeah, we're all gonna rally and build in all the railworks required to keep bau up, running, and sweet. Right. Get off your pillow. We are no more going to rescue Amurika with railway than we are putting out a forest fire by spittin' on it.

Do you realize that your dreaming is NOT going to happen, or do you just like to read your own posts. Oh sure, let's all just vote for rail, that'll make all our troubles go away.

I get the impression you are a very energetic and sharp person. You've a brain. Short supply 'round here. Use it for something other than masturbation.


I am not at liberty to discuss all that I am doing, but it is more than "masturbation".

Contacts developed through TOD have been a crucial element.

When I started I gave myself a 1% or 2% chance of having a significant impact that resulted in on the ground change. Today, it is in the 10% to 12% range.

Best Hopes for Long Shots,


Alan's reply is more than sufficient & he doesn't need me to chime in. However...

Alan seemingly has a wonderful combination of both being bright and in good control of his delusions. I don't mean that disparagingly - I don't think any human is delusion-free. (I try to keep a reasonable index of my own for the purpose of applying fudge factors.)

He has chosen to hope. That's not delusional, it's a rational choice. His chances of making a positive difference are not zero; there are large degrees of freedom left in the system to say the least.

And in his response he mentions "long shots"... which increases my respect for him even more. In my experience, which has been interesting and varied, those who are willing to "bet it all" on a longshot chance of making a difference are, in fact, those who have a real chance of doing so.

To the extent people note my posts at all, they wouldn't think of them as hopeful; since my hope is reserved for different things (mostly the non-human aspects of the earth's future). But it picks me up to read Alan's postings, even if I suspect his chances are a longshot... which would have been my word. That he cheerfully labels them longshots himself is inspiring.

Alan may well be subjectively delusional about some stuff or may not be (I think the jury's still out on rebuilding below sea level in NOLA), but his lucid presence here helps keep the flavor of TOD balanced, with a high standard of smarts and civility.

Best hopes for more smart activists and long shots, 'cause we're sure gonna need 'em.

There are two kinds of denialists -- both equally dangerous.

Type one -- ignores the presence of crisis.
Type two -- assumes crisis is inevitable and there is nothing that can be done to mitigate the crisis.

Bandits has a raging case of type two.

I don't think very many people here are saying that we won't have to incorporate efficiency gains in any attempt to deal with the Peak Oil crisis. Using less energy will certainly be a part of the mitigation. Electrification will also help. Alternatives will also help.

Since Peak Oil is likely happening now, I don't think anyone here who is aware of that fact thinks there will be no pain or transition. But there are those here who think that certain actions on the part of governments, communities, businesses, and individuals can help control the damage. Hopefully, we can control the damage enough to keep this ship we call civilization afloat or, at the very least, get as many people as possible to the lifeboats.

So, for my part, I think you're wasting that fantastic foresight of yours. For the love of your fellow man, get off your butt and start thinking how you can help mitigate the problem in your own way!

I volunteer Bandits to walk to work, eat vegetarian, grow his own food, and power down his house. Do I hear any ayes?




I'm okay fine with people who want to grow their own food, eat vegetarian, etc. But I work with and direct people doing engineering work. My own response is to want to develop solutions. Not ultimate solutions that make the post-peak adjustment painless. I do not expect such solutions to come in time.

But I certainly think we can develop tech that will make the adjustments less painful than they'd otherwise be and also to start laying the ground work for an eventual turning of the corner when thing start to get better.

Ahh Rob, you forgot type three. Type three are those who deny their impotence to save the world as we know it. They believe that if they just keep making suggestions as to "what we must do" then eventually everyone will get the message, put their efforts into this project, then we could simply mitigate the decline of fossil fuels with only a slight amount of suffering, or at least avoid any massive dieoff in the fifty years.

But there are those here who think that certain actions on the part of governments, communities, businesses, and individuals can help control the damage.

Actions that governments, communities, businesses, and individuals could do and what they will do are two entirely different things. What we will do to mitigate the disaster is exactly what we are doing right now, absolutely nothing. People will not be convinced that anything needs to be done until it is way too late. In fact it is too late right now. We should have started years ago.

That being said, there is nothing we can possibly do that will feed almost seven billion people without the massive energy input from fossil fuel.

Denying the impending disaster is the greatest denial of all. I am often guilty of it myself. But I cope. I have good bourbon.

Ron Patterson

Impending disaster?

For some, it is already here:

Global Warmists kill children. Discuss...:-(

(On the other hand: USA needs oil, world needs US Grains Opportunities for trade here
Give us Oil , we let you live...)


Our global warming rage lets global hunger grow

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, International Business Editor
Last Updated: 1:08am BST 14/04/2008

We drive, they starve. The mass diversion of the North American grain harvest into ethanol plants for fuel is reaching its political and moral limits.

A demonstrator eats grass in front of a U.N. peacekeeping soldier during a protest against the high cost of living in Port-au-Prince
"The reality is that people are dying already," said Jacques Diouf, of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). "Naturally people won't be sitting dying of starvation, they will react," he said.
The UN says it takes 232kg of corn to fill a 50-litre car tank with ethanol. That is enough to feed a child for a year. Last week, the UN predicted "massacres" unless the biofuel policy is halted.
We are all part of this drama whether we fill up with petrol or ethanol. The substitution effect across global markets makes the two morally identical.
Mr Diouf says world grain stocks have fallen to a quarter-century low of 5m tonnes, rations for eight to 12 weeks. America - the world's food superpower - will divert 18pc of its grain output for ethanol this year, chiefly to break dependency on oil imports. It has a 45pc biofuel target for corn by 2015.
Argentina, Canada, and Eastern Europe are joining the race.
The EU has targeted a 5.75pc biofuel share by 2010, though that may change. Europe's farm ministers are to debate a measure this week ensuring "absolute priority" for food output.
"The world food situation is very serious: we have seen riots in Egypt, Cameroon, Haiti and Burkina Faso," said Mr Diouf. "There is a risk that this unrest will spread in countries where 50pc to 60pc of income goes to food," he said.
Haiti's government fell over the weekend following rice and bean riots. Five died.
The global food bill has risen 57pc in the last year. Soaring freight rates make it worse. The cost of food "on the table" has jumped by 74pc in poor countries that rely on imports, according to the FAO.

Soaring food costs risk 'starvation and unrest'

By Alex Spillius in Washington
Last Updated: 2:41am BST 14/04/2008

The world's poorest countries face starvation and civil unrest if global food prices keep rising, the head of the International Monetary Fund has said.
• Growing middle class and bio-fuels blamed

There have been serious disturbances in more than a
dozen developing countries, including Haiti [pictured]
Dominique Strauss-Kahn said in Washington that "hundreds of thousands of people will be starving". "Children will be suffering from malnutrition, with consequences for all their lives," he said.
He predicted that increasing food prices would push up the cost of imports for poor countries, leading to trade imbalances that might also affect developed nations. "It is not only a humanitarian question," added Mr Strauss-Kahn.
Global food prices have risen sharply in recent months, driven by increased demand, poor weather and an increase in the area of land used to grow crops for bio-fuels.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation, 37 countries currently face food crises. Robert Zoellick, the president of the World Bank, urged members yesterday to provide £250 million to help alleviate the problem.

Thanks for all that Moe.

Now tell me, how do I rake in huge profits on this info?

Sarc Cozy

"There are two kinds of denialists -- both equally dangerous.

Type one -- ignores the presence of crisis.
Type two -- assumes crisis is inevitable and there is nothing that can be done to mitigate the crisis. "

Clear evidence of you being a jackass.

I expected no less from you marston, especially since you are forever on your knees in front of A from BE.
It's strange but I don't ever remember saying that there is nothing that can be done to mitigate the crisis.
As a matter of fact didn't I just say we have to power down.

As I have said previously, maintaining the ability to react in the best way possible to the inevitable crises, which will occur in the coming decades is IMO the best possible position to take.
That means conservation now, not using resources which could be sorely needed by future generations.

We know our grandchildren will suffer. Will they be assured of sufficient energy and food. Will they have nice cars homes and vacations?
What do you suggest we should do now, to allow future generations to simply survive, not prosper just survive? We need to ensure future generations can provide a life for their offspring, just like you had the opportunity to do.
Being proactive right now is inefficient and a gamble, resources could be urgently required in areas completely unknown to us right now.
I also understand conservation and powering down is as much a dream as those with solutions such as yours.
At least I'm not in denial.

At least I'm not in denial

Actually, you are in profound denial.

But our internal mental states are of consequence only to ourselves. Our external actions are what matters to the rest of us.

Best Hopes,


Richard Heinberg got it right, we have to power down. We have to power down now, nothing else will suffice.
That would mean suffering though.

Alas, the suffering I see is from others who will act as if they have a right to not power down.

Idealistic consumerism is still charging along at full speed for some...

From above (gotta love the BS {Bear Sterns) bit)

Do oil refineries have alternative uses? Can the pipes and cracking units do any industrial chemical processing?

I suspect that bits and pieces could be refurbished, and sold at a deep discount to new, but the systems are optimized for very specific processes.And, absent petrochemicals, what chemical processing will we be doing ? And in what volume ?

Bio sources of ethylene, for example, exist and I could see one polyethylene plant operating on that source long term but world production of polyethylene will decline post-Peak Oil,


More than 200 dead as battle rages in Baghdad

THE toll from fierce fighting in Baghdad’s Sadr City has risen to at least 200 dead and more than 1,000 injured, according to doctors in the besieged suburb.

The reports from Sadr City hospitals suggest far higher casualty figures than previously reported, although they cannot be independently verified. Dr Qassem Mudalal, the director of the Imam Ali hospital, said: “There are 230 killed, I can confirm, in the hospitals of Sadr City. I’ve been living in the hospital for two weeks.

An American convoy was struck by at least 10 roadside bombs while moving in to support Iraqi soldiers setting up a checkpoint in the west of the city, the US military reported.

There was no sign of a cessation of hostilities between al-Sadr and Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister. “Children, women and old men have been injured and killed and there are no ambulances,” said Um Ali, a housewife, by telephone from her home in Sadr City. “The hospitals have no first-aid supplies and there are so few doctors.”

How will we know when Baghdad has spiraled out of control?

And a mosque in Iran has been bombed.

Iranian state television is claiming that the blast was accidental and probably cause by explosives that we left over from a historical exhibition on the Iran/Iraq war.


Thank you for that.

hmmmmm....is right. Is it commonplace to take children on an exciting exhibition tour of a high explosives factory or weaponry warehouse?

Isn’t it scarring how little reaction such headlines spur today?

Imagine 200 people being slaughtered in your very neighborhood today? For how long would we have reflected on that? The human mind is quite pragmatic, I will claim.

And so the statement that is/will be seen more

"No one could have predicted this outcome."

Comfortably Numb/Pink Floyd:

Come on now
I hear you're feeling down.
Well I can ease your pain,
Get you on your feet again.

I need some information first.
Just the basic facts,
Can you show me where it hurts?

There is no pain, you are receding.
A distant ship's smoke on the horizon.
You are only coming through in waves.
Your lips move but I can't hear what you say

.... And every day the paper boy brings more

Our MSM-Masters would rather have us focus our very brief attention spans on the Masters Tournament and other diversions. Recall the Shrub's advice to go shopping instead of requiring us to go into full-on Peak Outreach contemplation and discussion of the geo-strategic resource reasons behind the 9/11 attack. Pres. Carter's Sweater Speech makes more sense to me.

"Pres. Carter's Sweater Speech makes more sense to me."

But notice where that got him. Carter is still reviled for his speech.

Not by everybody.

The loudest voices have been lulled into a sense of superiority with this access to cheap power, and Carter was shouted down by the 'Winning isn't everything, it's the Only thing' attitudes.

'First they ignore you, then they laugh at you..'

That second one will be such a huge hurdle for American culture, because we're so terrified of being laughed at, or being the '98 pound weakling' of the classic comic book Advertisements.. I think to win any battles in this war, one has to be willing to suffer the embarrassment of being called 'pragmatic, smart, humble, frugal, efficient, sober, careful, or long-sighted' ... all terms that roughly translate to 'wuss' in the American lexicon..


I have read it stated in several fora for years that the Islamic world needs to undergo its reformation, like Europe, to move beyond the primitive fundamentalism to a less genocidal future working alongside the rest of the world. Personally I'm a skeptic of this argument as the parallels fail at least as much as they are there.

However, where I think there is an historical parallel is in the broader picture. If you look at Europe - the religious internecine warfare that overlapped with the tribal bickering and familial feuds of the rulers of those tribes went on for hundreds of years. As they did so leading to the rise of the nation state approach to things you see those nation states reaching farther afield to secure more and more resources to support the fight back home. I subscribe to the view - at least in part - that a major driver for colonialism was to secure resources to fight these intra-mural battles within Europe. I think the same has happened in the Islamic world, where there IS this fight between the factions - far more serious ideological schism in many ways than that within Christendom's main schools - and they have successfully dragged more and more of the rest of the world and its resources into the battle.

We live in a different world than the middle-ages and reformation Europe so their methods and results are different. But clearly the sunni shi'a battle is one that has dragged in much of the world - largely because of the central front of this battle sitting astride the world's major oil fields.

But this is what is happening now in Iraq - it has become a proxy battle ground for these two sides each armed by supporters in Iran and Saudi Arabia respectively. But this isn't just a scrabble for influence and oil revenues.

When we leave Iraq there WILL BE, as the proponents of staying argue, a massive bloodbath as the two sides get down to the dirty business of fighting this unwinnable war over Islam. And given the barbarism and brutality both sides have shown a willingness to descend to it's going to be horrendous.

The point of this ramble is that I look at this stuff in Iraq on the news and am just so disappointed by the election campaign where neither side is honestly addressing both sides of the reality, the part of the argument their opponent has right: 1) we are a broken nation that cannot maintain our troop levels in Iraq and cannot achieve our stated goals because enough people there are waiting for the big conflagration once we leave that they can outlast us 2) if we leave it will be horrendous, but worse for us domestically we WILL lose reliable access to major oil fields at a time when our major suppliers are running dry (Mexico I am thinking here)

Neither is looking at this and saying - this is an unwinnable situation that will get much much worse and that we cannot afford to stay in much longer, but when we leave we will have to make fundamental changes at home to make up for the coming energy shocks.

Instead we get "the surge is working" and "troops out in 16 months". And what if the Chinese or Russians DO send in "advisors" when we pull out to help stabilize things? Are we sending in an army to kick them out when they divert supplies?

Instead we get "the surge is working" and "troops out in 16 months". And what if the Chinese or Russians DO send in "advisors" when we pull out to help stabilize things? Are we sending in an army to kick them out when they divert supplies?

That puts it in a nutshell as to why, although the present massive presence in Irag is not sustainable financially, it will not be possible to pull all troops out of Iraq, no matter who is President.

BTW, great analysis.

I have a colleague who tells me interesting stories about the ME (he's been there, he's Paki), told me about this little province in, I think it was in Pakistan or maybe Afghanistan. The people in this province speak Greek, and wear old fashioned clothing, and generally live anachronistic existences from 2000 years ago.

It seems Alexander never quite got all his soldiers back to Macedonia. They settled in this valley, married local women, and their descendants are now just another tribe in the Kush. ...

He was probably talking about the Kalash people in the Chitral valley.
It is in Pakistan.

So my friend is right.

Alexander has a two-millenia lead on "Bomb-bomb McCannonball". And always will.

It is an OK analysis but it is incomplete i.e. it relies upon unspoken assumptions that are unproven and increasingly unlikely (IMO). The main assumption is that access to Iraqi oil by large multinationals (USA based) will provide trickle down benefits to the USA public in excess of occupation costs. Possibly, but China is likely going to be able to pay a lot more for oil than anyone else and the history of the USA over the last 30 years has been the use of taxpayer costs to provide private profits. I haven't heard the CEO of XOM or Chevron promise publicly (not that anyone would believe it) that Iraqi oil will be sold at a lower price to the American market because Joe Shmuck paid to get it. Joe Shmuck will have a right to buy it at the going market rate (bidding against China) and if he can't pay, he is going to be using shoe leather for transport. So please explain again clearly how exactly "We" are doing this so "We" will get that? It is the same old trickle down BS that has been spewed for 30 years straight.

If you were to start from a Toynbee-esque civilizational perspective you might go in yet another direction. The Islamic civilization is farther along the civilizational trajectory, having already passed through it's universal state and entered into decay. From this view, you could not expect any internal transformation of Islam akin to the reformation or any other of the development oriented changes that Western Europe went through. Rather, what we would expect is continued internecine bickering and the progressive weakening of core Islamic values and institutions This would be punctuated by occasional efforts to restore the glory of the civilization by segments that grab hold of one portion of the whole and promote it as the key to revitalization. Such efforts are doomed to failure, however, as they are symptomatic of the very trait which defines civilizations that are no longer growing - "the idolization of an ephemeral self."

We (meaning the U.S. and Western civilization more generally) are still in the Universal State phase of civilization. That Universal State is an attempt to exert control over and prevent decay. It too is doomed to failure (although some Universal States go on for centuries) and our adventure in Iraq is just one example of the sorts of things that will weaken and eventually destroy that Universal State.

That takes me back a bit!
It must be 30 years since I read Toynbee.

If my memory serves though, he seemed to feel that the breakdown of Western civilisation occurred with the medieval collapse, but that we have not yet entered the Universal state phase, as patently no one state controls the whole of the civilisation, although the US is obviously predominant.

The First and Second World wars will possibly seem in retrospect as our equivalent of the Punic Wars, but surely our universal state is yet to come, if it comes at all.

It is perhaps also worth noting that Toynbee was referring to civilisations which had not gone through the stage of handing on their legacy through the means of a church, and so possibly the arguments do not apply to these latter civilisations, such as ours and Islam.

Apologies if my memory is rusty - it is a long time ago that I looked at Toynbee.

Abdullah said no when Bush asked him to increase production. That's when I knew for certain that KSA had reached its peak.

Wrong date in the title, Leanan?

[edit: no longer relevant]

Energy Efficient,High Brightness LED's

Delta's LED Lamp offers excellent light efficiency, superior to CFLs and 5 times higher than incandescent lamps. The 5W LED lamp, for example, provides light efficiency equal to a 25W incandescent lamp, achieving a substantial reduction in power consumption by up to 80%. Delta's novel heat sink design also delivers 25% higher thermal dissipation than other LED lamps on the market. The lamp offers a CRI of up to 80% (sunlight is 100%)—much better than CFLs. Delta's LED lamp is particularly well-suited for low temperature environments. At 0°C, the efficiency of the LED lamp is six times higher than a CFL of the same wattage. Lamp life is greater than 35000hrs, which is six times longer than CFLs and 20 times longer than incandescent lamps. Produced under lead-free conditions, the LED Lamp is mercury-free, 100% RoHS compliant, and Delta predicts the luminous efficacy of the lamp will reach 70 lm/W by July 2008. Delta LED Lamps are ready to take the place of CFLs.


Would someone translate what these figures mean? Perhaps Alan or Paul?
There is no indication of cost there either - but it sounds promising, if it lives up to it's press release.

I use a mixture of LEDs and CFLs at home. It is interesting if a 5 watt LED can put out slightly more light than a 5 watt CFL, but hardly a revolution yet.

Such a 5 watt LED will cost more than $20 (perhaps $50 or $100) vs. a few $ for a good 5 watt CFL. A lot of money for slightly more lumens.

CFLs can get CRIs of 85 or so (premium 4 foot tubes have CRIs of 82 to 85 and even 90 with a loss of lumens, so just apply same phosphors to CFLs), they would just cost more than the common model CFLs.

And for enough lumens to light a room enough to read by, a LED has heat dissipation, as well as cost problems. As noted, LEDs are more efficient at cooler temps (good for refrigerator lights and outdoor bulbs in the winter and ,,, ?) AFAIK, no one has put out an Edison base LED that can put out 700 or more lumens. The reason is heat dissipation (which kills LEDs).

I have a USB powered LED task light for by keyboard and a 7 watt CFL for the area. I have a 0.7 watt red LED bulb besides my bed so I can see enough to turn on a "slow on" CFL (13 watts ?). A "Y" adapter for the bathroom light. A 1.4 watt LED for quick visit, I quarter twist a CFL for bathing, shaving, etc. (CFLs do not like quick on/off cycles, they die quickly).

A 1.4 watt (I think) yellow LED over the door outside.

LEDs have a few useful niches such as where low light levels are all that is required, colored lights, where vibration is an issue (cars) and frequent on/off cycles. BUT CFLs have a larger niche.

For US/Canada I recommend looking at




Best Hopes for Energy Efficient Lighting,


AFAIK, no one has put out an Edison base LED that can put out 700 or more lumens. The reason is heat dissipation (which kills LEDs).

That sounds as though a larger, flat LED would be more practical - it would give more opportunities for creative lighting anyway.
Thanks for the links, Alan.

This one is Seoul's new 4die LED at 900 Lumens (@ 90 lm/w). expect to see it in devices soon:

http://www.ledsmagazine.com/news/5/2/27 shipping now//


I have a new torch with the new Cree x-re R2 bin at 100 lumens/W (kicks out 245 lumens max) incredible single AA powered torch. it's the first LD to get to 100 Lm/w


I shone it on a 10M tree 100M away and it lit the whole thing!

Hi Marco,

Seoul's data sheet for the P7 shows that the typical flux is 700 lm, while 900 lm is the maximum value. This puts the typical efficacy at around 70 lm/W. The color temperature is 6300K and the color rendering index (Ra) is 70.

Thanks for the links. A couple of things to note, beyond the issue of cost. This press release tells us the "typical" flux is 700 lumens; thus, some lamps will produce more light whereas others will produce less. The manufacturer claims "typical efficacy at around 70 lm/W" which, again, puts it in the same league as a 25-watt Philips Universal CFL.

Secondly, a colour temperature of 6,300K is way too high for most residential applications. Personally, I find 2,700K a little too warm for my liking and prefer 3,000K or 3,500K (e.g., Sylvania's Daylight Plus CFLs at 3,500K are an excellent choice). I do use 5,000K and 6,500K lamps in outdoor applications but they would be far too "harsh" (cold) for indoor use. Moreover, a CRI of 70 in a residential setting is unacceptable. You know how some folks complain how CFLs make everything look "funny", and that's at a CRI of 82 (or better). Well, at 70 CRI, they'd be busting a gut, rolling on the floor and laughing their ass off.

In addition, unless I missed it, there's no mention of life expectancy and, most importantly, lumen maintenance. Without this information, it's pretty hard to judge their utility.

Lastly, there's the issue of fixture optics. LEDs can be a great choice where a moderate amount of light is concentrated in a narrow beam (e.g., a torch light), but they're not well suited for general illumination, as in the case of a table or floor lamp. Given the nature of their light distribution, I don't see how LEDs will ever replace general service lamps.


Paul, your last comment is incorrect. LEDs WILL replace general service lamps. We are doing this already in RVs. What is required is to use the latest generation of HyBright LEDs used in LightBlasters' nexLED products that spread their 20 lumens of light over a cone of 150 degrees out from the surface of the chip. Earlier generations of LEDs are limited to as few as 15 degrees at only 3 lumens.

Sam Penny
the Prudent RVer

Side note: Seems you need to prefix your URL with 'http://' here.

Hi Sam,

A 150 degree spread is a significant improvement over 15 degrees, for sure, and LED manufacturers/vendors will no doubt come up with some creative solutions to help address this problem. A standard A19 or A21 incandescent bulb is single point light source that radiates an equal amount light in all directions [more or less], which makes it well suited for general room illumination when used in a floor or table lamp. Current generation CFLs will fit just about any fixture; in fact, some CFLs are now physically smaller than the incandescent lamps they replace, so size is no longer a problem as in the past. And like the A19, a CFL radiates light in a pattern indistinguishable from that of a regular household incandescent; there are no shadows or hot spots or limitations in terms of light distribution.

The inherent problem with LEDs, as I see it, is effective heat management -- this can be an issue for CFLs as well when used in small, fully enclosed fixtures or deeply recessed pot lights, although some tolerate heat better than others (e.g., some Philips CFLs are rated up to 140F). To be commercially viable in the residential marketplace, any replacement lamp must physically fit existing fixtures and, at the same time, provide the same amount of light as a standard 40, 60 or 100-watt incandescent. Likewise, the light they provide, in terms of general appearance and light distribution, must be as good as the lamps they replace, or at least close to it. Some earlier CFLs didn't make the cut because the light they produced was judged "too cold" or "too harsh" or because they distorted colours in unacceptable ways.

Lastly, there's the issue of cost. Its taken more than twenty years and a concerted effort on the part of the lighting industry, government, utilities, retailers, non-profit agencies and the media for CFLs to make a significant dent in the marketplace; even so, I believe CFLs represent less than 10 per cent of overall sales. The cruel irony is that many of us won't spend two dollars on a CFL when we can purchase on a regular household incandescent for less than 50 cents, even knowing full well that the CFL could potentially save us a hundred dollars or more over the course of its life. If you can't convince someone to pay $2.00 for a light bulb that lasts ten or fifteen thousand hours and that uses up to 80 per cent less electricity, I just don't see how you can convince them to part with $20.00 or $50.00 for a LED that produces roughly the same amount of light as a 25-watt incandescent.


The bike forums that I read have talked about this one for a while now. This particular model isn't really a huge advance - they just put 4 dies in one package. The lumens/watt rating is OK, but still isn't much better than anything else you can buy out there.

The companies that make these things claim that in the lab they can get > 100 lumens/watt. Maybe as much as 130 - nearly double the ones that they currently ship. For things like bike headlights these will help as you can run them at a lower current and get the same amount of light (thereby increasing the amount of runtime you get on a single charge).

For home lighting, the newer ones would help as well - reduced electrical power means that there would be less heat for the same number of lumens.

I offer my experience.

I live entirely in an LED environment, having replaced all my incandescents bulbs and fluorescent fixtures with LED equivalents. The amount of light I have is the same as what I had before. The power consumption is about 15% of what I used before, low enough that I easily run on batteries charged by solar power during the day for my lighting at night.

The keys to doing this are 1) having a 12-volt DC electrical system available, 2) having a different attitude toward lighting, and 3) not trying to illuminate a 4,000 sqft McMansion with light I will never use.

My first secret is that I live in an RV (fifth-wheel trailer in my case). It has a basic 12-volt wiring system throughout, and all my LED lights run on that 12-volts DC system. So the conversion to LEDs was rather simple. In a "stick-home" with 120VAC system, it is necessary to convert the AC into the DC that the LEDs require (though some LED products can operate attached to an AC line by clipping out only that part of the current when the polarity is right. The problem is they flicker at 60 cycles per second.)

There are a number of low-voltage converters (120VAC to 12VDC) available on the market. Many of the lawn lighting systems use such converters. It is possible place such a converter into a strategic cupboard and to extend the wiring from that unit throughout a house to make the power available where you need it. The good thing about LEDs is that they typically require only milliamps of current, not amps, so smaller wire can be used. For isolated local applications, I also use a very small converter plugged into a wall socket.

The second secret is attitude. I want my light where I need it. Low-level ambient light around the room is okay, but I use light to see to read, or to build small electronic toys. My wife uses light to sew and to cook and do the dishes. We use a light over the dining table to eat. There is no need to have a bright 300watt bulb lighting the far corner of the living room. The intensity of the light from a bulb falls off as the inverse of the distance squared, so the closer the source is to where you need it, the better. Put your lighting fixtures close to where you need them. I also like to use linear light rather than point light. We have lightstrips around the mirror of our vanity rather than six large, bright incandescent bulbs with their six points of light. They spread the light out and make the area much more useful.

The third secret is space. It helps that I live in 320 square feet of living space. Of course, it also helps that I have the Cleveland National Forest (or wherever we happened to be camped) just out my front door as my yard. Don't live in more space than you need. Don't try to light space that you do not need.

Now one of the questions was the brightness of the LEDs compared to CFLs or incandescents. Products are available that produce as many lumens of good "white" light as a CFL where you need them using only one-third the power. You also don't have to be concerned with the bit of UV from a fluorescent or the bit of mercury in the CFL when it dies. And the LED will last 20 times longer than a CFL. When you compare the LED to incandescents, you use 15% of the power for 100 times the lifetime.

Another question was cost. Yes, good LEDs are expensive (unfortunately, most of the really cheap ones are dim and failure prone). but the payback comes from long life and much less power consumption. At this point, good 12-volt DC LED lights retail for about $10 for 50 lumens (using about 0.7 watts of power), and you can add more LEDs to build lamps with 300 or more lumens (4.2 watts for $60).

And by the way, incandescent lights create 7 times the heat as LEDs for the same amount of light. Unless you are heating your home by turning on the lights, you may need to run the air conditioner to remove that extra heat. Use the rule of thumb that it takes twice the energy to remove the heat as to generate it.

I believe the future of lighting is in the LEDs (unless it turns out to be a wood fire). It should be what you go for now.

Sam Penny
the Prudent RVer

Funny you should mention this. Cree has recently started shipping modules that give off 650 lumens. They are designed for cases where you have recessing lighting in the ceiling that normally would take a BR30 bulb.


This is only 650 lumens of course, not *quite* 700. The CRI is 92. Nominal input power is 12 watts, dimmable to 20%.

The thing that makes this work is that there is room in the ceiling can for the required heat sink.

Hi Eric,

I've been following this development closely and it looks promising, especially where long life is highly desirable, but it still has a way to go yet. As best I can tell, they're priced at $130.00 each, so the upfront costs per socket are not insignificant.

Taking a quick look at the numbers, a Philips 40-watt Halogen-IRC generates 720 lumens, a slightly better performer in terms of light output, and has a rated service life of 4,200 hours. Like all halogens, it has a CRI of 100 and is fully dimmable/socket compatible. To match the rated life expectancy of this LED lamp, we would require 12 of these lamps -- $120.00 at an estimated $10.00 each.

A 13-watt Standard Pro CFL BR30 produces 700 initial lumens -- again, a pretty close match in light output -- and has a rated service life of 8,000 hours. It's CRI is 82, a notch below this LED option, but an acceptable number in many commercial and residential applications nonetheless; this particular lamp is not dimmer compatible, although a limited number of CFLs are. In this case, we would require 6.25 lamps to match the 50,000 hour service life of this LED retrofit -- $75.00 at an estimated $12.00 each. Alternatively, where longer life is advantageous, a GE Genura would provide us with 15,000 hours service life, dropping the total number of lamps to 3.3 and at a similar lifetime cost.

In terms of energy costs, halogen, as we would expect, is our most costly option. Over the course of 50,000 hours, a 40-watt HIR would consume 2,000 kWhs; at an average cost of $0.12 per kWh, that's $240.00 per socket. Combined lamp and energy costs total $360.00.

A 13-watt CFL is our most economical alternative. It would consume a total of 650 kWhs -- $78.00 at $0.12 per kWh, placing its combined lamp and energy cost at $153.00.

At 12-watts, the LED retrofit would consume 600 kWhs over the course of its nominal life -- here our combined energy and lamp cost stand at $202.00.

Unless you have money to burn, I can't see this product working in a residential setting. At an average of 4 hours per day, our reference halogen lamp would last approximately 2.9 years, the CFL 5.5 years (10.3 in the case of the GE Genura) and the LED a theoretical 34.2 years -- whether the electronic control circuitry and phosphorous binders would actually last that long is debatable.

In a commercial setting and in particular one that operates 24x7, the results would be notably better, but in applications where dimming is not required, a CFL is likely to be more cost effective and it wouldn't tie up a huge amount of working capital. The high upfront cost of the LED retrofit would be an insurmountable barrier for most businesses, large or small.

Also, bear in mind that when a $10.00 halogen or a $12.00 CFL packs it in before its time, the financial hit is manageable. When a $130.00 lamp meets its untimely death due to a particularly nasty power surge or the electronics fail prematurely because of excessive heat build-up, the hurt is that much greater. I've lost some very expensive CMH lamps early on in their life due to one mishap or another, to the point where I sometimes wonder if I wouldn't be better off sticking with a less expensive lamp even though the operating costs are higher.

Lastly, if your paramount concern is outstanding light quality and displaying a product [or space] "in the best possible light", it's hard to beat halogen; for sparkle and punch and pure visual drama, a tight halogen spot kicks ass. By comparison, CFLs are a miserable choice because their light is so diffuse -- there's little or no contrast, so everything appears flat and dull. Ceramic metal halide is a much better alternative, but it too can't fully match halogen's desirable traits. I haven't seen this particular LED fixture in action, but I would be very surprised if its "theatrical performance" can equal that of a halogen source.


I can't really argue with most of this, except that if you were in the market for a dozen of the things, you could get a significant discount of some sort.

I stumbled across this bulb this morning:

They are claiming ~800 lumens output, ~< 8 watts electrical power. They don't claim a CRI value, but they have bulbs in 3 "colors" (Cool White ~5000, Soft White ~3800, and Warm White ~2800). The bulb contains 8 LED emitters - I imagine that they "tune" the color by selecting the mix of LED emitters that they use in the bulb. If the specs are to be believed, they have crossed the 100 lumen/watt line.

Pricey however - $119, but according to the website they are out of stock and won't have any more until mid-May.

I remember 6 months ago I was at a green festival, and this company had a booth. They were demonstrating this bulb, but they didn't yet have it in their catalog. This was the first LED bulb that I had seen which was designed as a direct replacement for a 60-watt incandescent bulb. Thus I don't view the price as much of a limitation right now - this is clearly a 1st generation bulb. As time goes on, they will get the manufacturing costs down and ought to be able to increase the efficiency some more.

Hi Eric,

Thanks for this. Without any technical specs and without third-party verification/certification, I would have to withhold judgement. I can tell you that a good quality 15-watt CFL offers the same amount of light -- more, actually -- for as little as $2.00 and at an average of 4 hours per day, would provide some 10+ years of service (e.g., a Philips Universal has a rated life of 15,000 hours at 3 hours per start). However, if this CFL should die prematurely, I'm out $2.00, not $120.00. The death of the former will cause me to mutter something unpleasant under my breath whereas I can guarantee you the latter will have me punching my fist through walls and kicking over tables.

At $0.12 per kWh, a $2.00 15-watt CFL versus a $0.50 60-watt incandescent would have a simple payback of 278 hours, or a little over two months at an average of 4 hours per day.

((($2.00 - $0.50) / $0.12) / 0.045 kW savings) / 4 hrs per day = 69.4 days

Assuming this LED lasts 30,000 hours and lumen maintenance is not an issue, and assuming the incandescent lamp that it is intended to replace is rated at 1,000 hours and that we purchase all thirty incandescent lamps upfront, the payback for this LED lamp would be:

((($120.00 - (30 x $0.50)) / $0.12) / 0.052 kW savings) / 4 hrs per day = 4,206.7 days

In effect, at current cost, I would have to wait eleven and a half years to recover my initial investment, at which point this LED lamp would begin to lower my out-of-pocket expenses assuming, of course, it continues to operate and that its lumen output hasn't deteriorated to the point where it have to be replaced.

Again, I don't see how LEDs can compete with CFLs at this stage. Moreover, as the above example shows, LEDs can't compete with incandescent lamps that uses seven or eight times more electricity, at least not in a typical residential application.


Yeah, but I don't really expect many people to buy these things at this price. The guy manning the booth at the Green Festival admitted as much. Right now I could see some people buying one just to try it out - to see how they like the color and so forth.

My main point is that things have reached a point where it is now possible to make replacements in some form or another - 6 months ago, such a thing didn't exist at any price. In another year, I expect that the price will be less and my hope is that the performance will be a bit better.

There are places where CFLs don't work well though. Places where you might want a dimmer (special CFLs exist, but are still much more expensive), places where the operating temperature is too cold for the CFL to function properly, and places where the light is frequently turned on and off (which can significantly shorten the life of a CFL). It remains to be seen how an LED lamp would function in such environments, but these are the areas people are likely to try first.

Note: I found another one:


a ceiling fan that someone found at Lowes that uses LED emitters instead of regular bulbs. No idea about the quality of the thing - the guy who found it couldn't help himself and he bought one. Once he gets it installed, I am sure there will be more info.

Hi Eric,

As Alan mentioned earlier, there are certain niche applications where LEDs really do shine, but general room illumination is not one of them.

All of us could no doubt adapt to living and working in low light levels if push really did come to shove, but I happen to like light and lots of it. My living room table lamps are equipped with 42-watt CFLs that crank out about 2,800 lumens each; their combined output is roughly equal to that of two 150-watt incandescents. This allows me to read comfortably without straining my now rapidly aging eyes. Frankly, I would have a hard time adjusting to the light provided by either a 5-watt CFL or a 25-watt incandescent.

Moreover, at $0.1067 per kWh, the operating cost of these two lamps is less than a penny per hour and now that fuel oil is more expensive than electric resistance, my lighting consumption results in a net positive gain during the times when I'm heating with fuel oil at the margin (my heat pump is still my least costly option by a wide margin).


Hi Dave,

As is typical of most everything you read about LEDs, their claims are either incorrect or highly misleading. Let's tackle these falsehoods points one by one.

1) Delta's LED Lamp offers excellent light efficiency, superior to CFLs and 5 times higher than incandescent lamps. The 5W LED lamp, for example, provides light efficiency equal to a 25W incandescent lamp, achieving a substantial reduction in power consumption by up to 80%.

First of all, is the claimed efficacy that of the LED itself or the LED and its driver? The latter is the combined wattage of the lamp and its related control gear, or what is commonly referred to as "plug" efficiency. It's not clear to me which they are quoting, but if it's the former then the number is not a true measure of its performance. In any event, my Osram catalogue tells me a standard 25-watt A19 GS incandescent produces 210 lumens. Assuming the 5-watts includes driver losses, this LED lamp produces something in the order of 42 lumens per watt (initial). A Philips 25-watt Universal SLS CFL produces 1,750 initial lumens which translates to 70 lumens per watt or 1.7 times more than this LED. Comparing lamps of similar wattage, a Philips 5-watt Dec Twister provides 250 initial lumens -- 50 lumens per watt or almost 1.2 times that of this particular LED. Although we don't know the exact number of lumens generated since it is not mentioned in this press release, it's safe to say these LEDs are not in any way superior to CFLs in terms of their operating efficacy. In fact, they appear to be significantly less efficient.

With respect to incandescents, it's true that this particular LED would be five times more efficient than a regular 25-watt incandescent (i.e., 42 lumens per watt versus 8.4), but this relative advantage applies only at this lower wattage. A standard 100-watt GS lamp produces 15 to 17 lumens per watt -- twice that of a 25-watt incandescent -- and a Philips 70-watt energy saver incandescent produces 22.8 lumens per watt (i.e., 2.7X).

2) The lamp offers a CRI of up to 80% (sunlight is 100%)—much better than CFLs.

Not so. The vast majority of CFLs have a CRI of 82 and some of the better ones run in the range of 85 or 86. Speciality CFLs such as those used in television studios are 90+.

3) Delta's LED lamp is particularly well-suited for low temperature environments. At 0°C, the efficiency of the LED lamp is six times higher than a CFL of the same wattage.

Highly doubtful. The aforementioned Philips Dec Twister has a minimum starting temperature of -20C (-4F) and due to its use of amalgam technology provides near consistent light output over a wide range of temperatures (below 0C it may take several minutes to reach full output upon startup, but it will get there in due course).

4) Lamp life is greater than 35000hrs, which is six times longer than CFLs and 20 times longer than incandescent lamps.

Again, highly doubtful. Even if the lamp continued to operate at 35,000 hours, how much light would it produce at end of life? I bought a number of LED night lights two or three years ago. About half still work and the remaining ones have grown so dim as to be nearly useless.

Depending upon the particular model, a Philips CFL has a rated service life of 8,000 to 15,000 hours. I have five Philips 25-watt CFLs that have now logged close to 20,000 hours (a sixth one met an untimely death when I dropped it); they've grown noticeably dimmer and the phosphorous coating has blackened considerably, but they just won't die and after many years of faithful service I don't have the heart to throw them away. In any event, if we assume 8,000 hours service, one LED lamp would theoretically equal 4.4 CFLs, not six; at 10,000 hours, 3.5 and at 15,000 hours, 2.3.

5) Produced under lead-free conditions, the LED Lamp is mercury-free...

The latest generation of Philips CFLs contain about 2.3 mg of Hg. Most of the Hg that is released into the environment comes from the electricity used to operate the lamp, not the lamp itself; this is even more true if the lamp is recycled or properly disposed at its end of life. Since it appears this LED lamp uses 25 to 60 per cent more electricity, lumen for lumen, than a standard CFL, it's likely its Hg performance would be no better and a good chance it would be far worse. And since CFL and LED lamps both contain electronic control gear, it's hard for me to say which would be less harmful in terms of its manufacture and disposal.

6) Delta predicts the luminous efficacy of the lamp will reach 70 lm/W by July 2008.

I'll believe it when I see it. And if this should happen, its efficacy would then only match that of the Philips 25-watt CFL.

7) Delta LED Lamps are ready to take the place of CFLs.

A good quality CFL runs about $5.00 or about half that if purchased in a multi-pack. Anyone want to guess as to how much this LED will cost?


The vast majority of CFLs have a CRI of 82

I wonder about that. My rough eyeball estimate of the off brand Made in China 4 packs at Home Depot would be in the CRI low to mid-70s.

No spec sheets, just eyeball. And these are the "majority" of CFLs sold IMHO.

No data, just "feel".

Best Hopes for higher CRI :-)


Hi Alan,

All Energy Star certified CFLs must have a CRI of 80 or more, and any lamp sold by Philips, Osram Sylvania, GE and most second-tier suppliers (e.g., MaxLite, TCP, etc.) will have a CRI of 82 or better (e.g., my Standard Pro brand CFL PAR38s are rated at 85 and a couple of their PL offerings have a CRI of 92). I believe Home Depot's in-store brand in its U.S. stores is N:Vision. I don't know much about this line, but I believe its CRI is also 80+.

If you stick to one of the "big three" brands or any other Energy Star rated product, you're pretty much guaranteed good results. If you buy the cheap, dollar store stuff, then all bets are off.


A pretty solid deconstruction, Paul! :-)

Darling calls for urgent review of biofuel policies

Alistair Darling has demanded an urgent review of international biofuel programmes as part of a plan to tackle the world's mounting food crisis. The Chancellor said he had asked the World Bank to produce an analysis - for June's G7 meeting of global leaders - on the impact of green policies, including America and Europe's biofuel programmes, on global food shortages.

'This is an urgent problem,' said Darling, who was speaking in Washington at a meeting of G7 leaders. 'People across the world will say, "Why didn't you see this coming?" when it is staring us in the face. We have got to take action.'

He added: 'It would be a profound mistake if we get into a situation where we are growing corn that is essential for feeding people and converting it into fuel. That is not sustainable.'

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is clear that his country, facing a food shortage, will not copy the South American nation to make ethanol from edible plants.

Of course as I pointed out in my recent summary, they are already doing it. India is producing ethanol from sugarcane. The production comes from the molasses, which is certainly edible.

The problem is, there aren't a whole lot of proven biofuel technologies that aren't 1). Coming from edible plants; or 2). Competing with land that is used for edible plants.

Food vs. Fuel is going to be a major debate for the forseeable future. Politicians seem to be avoiding the issue like the plague, because there are no easy answers.

Food is more important than fuel, any solution has to keep that in mind.

Food is more important than fuel, any solution has to keep that in mind.

I agree that food is more important than fuel. The thing is, tho, that the world simply cannot feed the current massively inflated human population without stupendous (fossil) fuel inputs. Not by a long shot. Some will argue that organic agriculture or other "sustainable" practices can feed 6.7 billion people. Some will argue, too, that petroleum has an abiogenic origin and that humans aren't to blame for climatic warming. The arguments are based on some very unlikely premises and simply aren't convincing. Nitrogenous fertilizers & diesel fuel are crucial for modern agriculture and food distribution. What energy source(s) do we replace the petroleum necessary for their production with? Do we have the time & capital to make the transition to alternative energy sources? Will all alt energy sources combined come anywhere near to replacing petroleum? Is a massive human dieoff - a dieoff so big that it conjures the spectre of extinction - inevitable? These are truly exciting times we live in!

Not if our MSM doesn't grow a spine. I watched NBC news last night, they had an extensive segment on the world food situation (at present no forecasts). They even read off a bunch of causes. No mention of food to fuel however, keeping ADM happy is more important than the truth! Well with some high profile Indians and some others screaming about it, they shouldn't be able to keep if off the public radar screen for much longer? Or am I being hopelessly naive.

Re: Food is more important than fuel.

Then it should be priced higher than fuel, right? I fail to see the logic that fuel prices can or should go higher but food prices should stay low even though fuel is a cost of food production. This makes no sense and will result in even greater food shortages.

The obvious solution is that food prices must rise faster than oil prices so that food, being more important, takes over grain demand from fuel. Many will shriek in horror, but how else can the situation be solved?

American farmers are not going to sell their corn for animal feed when in it is more profitable and energy efficient to turn it into ethanol. Poor third world farmers can not hire help or increase fertilizer usage if food prices are held so low that there is not enough profit to do so.

Matt Simmons points out that crude is a bargain at 15 cents a cup. Is not corn at 5 cents a cup an even bigger bargain? It's a similar situation in wheat, rice, soybeans or whatever. It is cheap oil that has artificially held down food prices for decades since the beginning of the oil age.

And it is coming to an end. The solution is to redeploy non food producers back into agriculture. This takes money as the new food workers must be paid. Where is the money to come from?

Of course in must come from much higher food prices. The price of food must reach a level that makes bio-fuels uneconomic.

This will be a very high price because bio-fuels can be used to increase food production. It is already happening when farmers use biodiesel to run tractors, combines and put ethanol in their pickup trucks and such. I do it myself on my farm. It is not as simple as it first appears because bio-fuel can increase food production when used in farm machinery.

I'm going to say the "T" word.


Not everyone is going to come through this. Are biofuels a vehicle for triage?

triage would make a good key-post subject, except that it would quickly get too real for comfort.

thanks for mentioning it, though...

A few months ago the Georgia DOT was asking the public for suggestions on how to keep costs down... guess that didn't work out:

Georgia's department of transportation owes the federal government $1.2 billion more than expected because it has overspent on projects to reduce congestion around Atlanta, authorities said on Thursday.
To start working down this additional $1.2 billion, the department plans to reduce construction plans for fiscal year 2009 to $1.2 billion from a figure normally in excess of $2 billion, said department spokesman David Spear.
"Our costs have escalated astoundingly including inflation, competitive costs and the price of fuel," he said, adding that one road resurfacing project south of Atlanta cost $212 million and was 60 percent over budget.


Some posters might be interested in reading parts or even all of the 1953 book The Next Million Years by the physicist Charles Galton Darwin. He discussed peak energy among other things in this 200+ page book. He believed that groups of humans might survive for a million years more or less, long after dissipation of energy supplies and geologically concentration mineral resources. The book is available online.


or http://tinyurl/59xgfj

Robert, thanks for enlightening TOD readers -- two years ago I bought the book second-hand via Amazon, apparently the only extant copy for sale in the universe at the time (my edition was published in 1952, not 1953). It's a brilliant work that should be compulsory reading for all. I think CGD chose the title to be on the safe side -- certainly nobody can give him the 'Club of Rome' treatment, at least not for the next 999945 years!

Political correctness was certainly not one of his vices.

At present the most efficient way for a man to survive in Britain is to be almost half-witted, completely irresponsible and spending a lot of time in prison, where his health is far better looked after than outside; on coming out with restored health he is ready to beget many further children quite promiscuously, and these "problem children" are then beautifully cared for by the various charitable societies and agencies, until such time as they have grown old enough to carry on the good work for themselves. It is this parasitic type that is at present most favoured in our country; if nothing is done, a point will come where the parasite will kill its host by exhaustion and then of course itself perish miserably and contemptibly through having no one to support it.

-- (page 69)

Great to learn it's available on line.

I am uncertain why the publication date is given as 1952 and 1953. Perhaps there was a US edition?? I recall reading other material from CG Darwin many years ago, possibly a monograph. He was one of the more prolific and popular writers on population.

Another quote:
The evolution of the human race will not be accomplished in the ten thousand years of tame animals, but in the million years of wild animals, because man is and will always be a wild animal.

-- Charles Galton Darwin


Your on-line edition states 1953 as year of publication -- so no mistake of yours.

CG Darwin has of course long received the silent treatment for stating the obvious.

CG Darwin has of course long received the silent treatment for stating the obvious.

Perhaps the tinge of eugenics had something to do with that?

Eugenics? We don't need no steenkin' eugenics!


Scary stuff!

Is LNG flame burning out?

The National Energy Board, at the same time it announced an anticipated 15 per cent decline in domestic natural gas production between 2007 and 2009, confidently asserted last October that over the long term, "Canadians should rest assured" that their natural gas needs will be met as unconventional sources, including LNG, enter the market.

The LNG ship isn't arriving on continental shores as first hoped, and initial enthusiasm over the prospect of LNG is, in some corners, beginning to fade. Critics say the fuel is difficult to secure, expensive to get, and in some circumstances not much cleaner than generating power from coal.

Looks like I need to put NG back on my front burner...so to speak.

I consider the prospect of a NG-shortage induced electricity scarcity to be highly likely over the next few years, if not this summer.

Time to re-find all those NG production links and start following them again.

Leanan, Isn't this supposed to be Drumbeat the 13th?

that would be unlucky

There is no need to increase Drumbeats to April 13:th, since the market is already well-supplied with April 12:th Drumbeats. We'll be stuck for a while with the April 12:th date, and maybe revert to even earlier dates. But no need to worry, Leanan has the capacity to supply us with April 28:th Drumbeats anytime, you are just not wanting it that much.

very funny!!!!

African nations nationalize oil (or should), Saudi cuts exports, keeps oil finds for the future, Total seeks deals in Iraq, nations announce subsidies for rice/grain, etc.

The old model of colonialist domination, or more generally of conquest, thru superior arms, technology, tried-n-true intimidation and manipulation, vicious repression (prisons, torture, mass murder, etc.), co-opting locals - be they workers who need to eat, or corrupt potentates who ally with the occupiers - is breaking down. Impossible to control a territory and its resources without controlling the people who sit on top of it, that is now clear. (E.g. Iraq Client state not established...)

...An intolerance for war, destruction, death (compare w. ww2, see US hysteria about soldier death), gradual internationalization/globalization, global economy, a loosening of national sentiment and obeisance, a willingness to sacrifice for it; resting on more atomistic, individualistic povs, with humanistic values - rights of man, UN, right to self-determination, hype about democracy, see Kosovo, Tibet, etc. The rise of ‘mercenaries’ - domination with the kitty and not the ppl.

Limits of arms: Controlling the skies, space, with sophisticated technology, apparently doesn’t prevent 19 clueless terrorists from smashing into the Pentagon or destroying a huge chunk of lower Manhattan. Superior fire and man power and bombing capacity doesn’t stop car bombs in Iraq...Nuking Iran will accomplish nothing.

Concurrently, understandably, inevitably, a tightening of local/community/ ties take place: small groups band together smoothly to oppose or destruct (Sadr city, NIgeria..) Their power is due to the availability of arms, or the means to construct them easily, cheaply, and general advances in guerilla cum urban warfare and *politics* (see French suburbs on that point, or Hezbollah), all of which did not exist in say 1920.

Nations, meaning deciders at the top, pursue a similar path. Closing off, buckling down, refusniks! ... refusing, with all precautions, to trade with supra-ordinal powers; or do so only when they perceive a clear interest or are under the gun; just as smaller, non official, groups do.

Energy crunch. Right on. Just the beginning.

Hello TODers,

Regarding Leanan's toplink on India busting food hoarders:

Remember Aesop's fable of the lazy grasshopper and the industrious ants storing food for the coming winter. Thus, these 'ants' storing cooking oils, grains, etc, are sending a price signal to the 'grasshoppers' that the times are a'changing.

What the Indian govt. should do to further move this trend along is go to full-on Peak Outreach education to convert more grasshoppers into ants: incentives for birth-control, O-NPK recycling, India's version of Federal Reserve Banks of I-NPK, building community solar hot water and solar oven cooking facilities, SpiderWebRiding, bicycles & wheelbarrows, reforestation and Earthmarines to protect these habitats, and so on.

If they wait until resource depletion forces them back into the failed model of using porters [Nuahtl Tlamemes] as the dominant movement force, then their subsequent collapse will be quite ugly and quick from cascading blowbacks, with mind-boggling levels of strife, disease, rioting, infrastructure decimation, and violence.

In short: Peak Outreach can help mitigate what inevitably lies ahead.

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

If you've been searching for a short rational video/flash demonstration to share with your still-undecided (uninterested?) family and friends, these two do an excellent job of outlining the exponential nature of our problems.

Very helpful.

Exponential Growth


The second draws from Albert Bartlett, but makes the case in a more personally engaging way by tying the viewer's life to the outcome....

Albert Bartlett he ain't.

Well, he got my mother to finally come to the table for a serious discussion about her retirement holdings which Albert never did.


Fix the population 'problem' and all else is solved. There's enough resources for everyone to live like a king on this planet, if 'everyone' isn't more than one billion. Life is simple. Too much life is complicated. Reduce both. Less is more when you're on the floor.

When in doubt, throw it out. Excess is the disease of modern man. Blessed be, the silence of the three. Time to discover that it will not recover.

The treasure held tightly is lost; that which is released comes back a hundredfold.

The ideal population can be found by measuring the utility value of one more person added to it, minus their resource consumption and other liabilities. When this value becomes negative, expansion is no longer the game, and what was once and came is now a living shame.

Isochroma -

Indeed, if we 'fix' the population problem to the point where there are ony a billion people left, yes, everybody (well, not quite everybody) will be able to live like a king.

I hate to be a nit-picker, but I'm just a little bit troubled by exactly what you have in mind regarding fixing the population problem: biological warfare, mass sterilization, gas chambers, nuclear war, etc.?

Then, how exactly is it determined, and by whom, what the marginal 'utility value' of one more added person is?

Please tell me: will you, members of your family, or your friends be among those deemed of less than positive utility value? And if you are so deemed, will you all go quietly into the night for the greater good?

Unrelated question: Why do you talk in rhymes? Is that how all prophets speak?

This has always bothered me too. Perhaps at some point declining fertility rates will allow our population to fall to -- or below -- replacement levels worldwide, but given that the median age of the population as a whole is something in the range of 27-years, that would seem unlikely for many years to come, barring any unusual (i.e., catastrophic) events. In the absence of such extraordinary forces, I can't imagine how world population levels could decline at a rate equal to or greater than our available resources.

Please tell me I'm wrong, but it would seem those who advocate a reduction in world population have few tools by which to accomplish this goal beyond war, disease and famine.


This cannot happen by human regulation. It will happen the way it happens to all animal populations that overshoot their habitat..through war (predation), famine, and disease. These are the three forces that control all animal populations. We are seeing the beginnings of them working to control ours. I'm glad I'm 65....but I'm afraid I'm not going to escape much of it. For example, the flu this year was horrid...worse than the Hong Kong flu in the 60's (personal observation). Diseases spread fastest in crowded populations. Wars occur over disputed territories and resources. Famine occurs when there is a lack of RICE, CORN,...I think you get my meaning.

I think you've got it, Paul. The population "fix" is the four horseman. There won't be any need for isochroma to decide who goes and who stays.

The Barn door is open and the horses are saddled...

My solution fixes the over population of the Earth's carrying capacity and oil resource depletion. Of course you have to accept this this solution with the same tone of humor employed in picking up your crucifix in The Life of Brian.

We will ask about 4 billion people to politely gather in a few geologically ideal locations for the formation of oil deposits, and ask if they would be so kind as to expire. A bit of tidying up to get the human biomass concentrated in the formations and wait about 150 million years. Voila! We've got more oil!

I didn't say it was going to be immediate.

Stop having babies (or reduce the number considerably). It won't happen any time soon, sadly...

Then, how exactly is it determined, and by whom, what the marginal 'utility value' of one more added person is?

The Bush family and others in the government?

The business of the government is business. And if you are bad for the business An official with the Internal Revenue Service has admitted that legal opponents of former President Bill Clinton were singled out for tax audits, according to court documents made public this week. "What do you expect when you sue the president?" - senior IRS official Paul Breslan

Billionaire George Soros sees trouble where others turn a blind eye

Soros has always been a controversial figure. But he is becoming more so with a new, dire forecast for the world economy. Last week he rushed out a book, his 10th, warning that the financial pain has only just begun.

"I consider this the biggest financial crisis of my lifetime,'' Soros said during an interview last week in his office overlooking Central Park. A "superbubble" that has been swelling for a quarter of a century is finally bursting, he said.

Soros, whose daring, controversial trades came to symbolize global capitalism in the 1990s, is busy promoting his book, The New Paradigm for Financial Markets, which goes on sale next month.

Rick Smalley, the great Peak Oil agitator who died a few years ago, got mentioned on 60 Minutes today. They claimed his response to nanoparticles first use in cancer experiments was a "Holy Sh*t". Fitting. I hope the stuff eventually works.

Sometimes readers of TOD might forget what's happening in the "real world". Here's today's most read story on CNN.COM

Police: Spears has minor accident in Mercedes

Britney Spears' motoring misfortunes continue. Britney Spears struck a vehicle on a California highway in her 2008 Mercedes, police say.

The pop star was involved in a minor traffic accident late Saturday.
No one was injured and no vehicles were damaged, authorities said.

Intriguing! Was London in the car? Let's hope he didn't pee on the upholstery. What color is the Mercedes?

So...I have a friend that works for an airline that recently had to scramble to fix some wires on their planes. I asked him what was up with all that...why did you have to do this now...all of a sudden. He said that TPTB had been very vague about some guidelines and allowed airlines to make specs within a certain range (such and such..about 3 inches). Then one day, TPTB said..."Oh no...it has to be this new spec now or else we pull your planes!"

Sound familiar...changing the rules as you go management. No wonder our frickin financial system is in such a mess. Nobody know the rules from day to day. And once you adjust to one set of rules, they change on you.

Who is driving this boat? Does anyone really know?

...and in stark contrast to Britney Spears' foibles, how about some more cascading blowback news:

We may not meet targets, say North Rift farmers

Farmers in the North Rift are expressing fears that the region, which has been the country’s grain basket, may not realise its expected annual harvest targets due to post election violence and the rising cost of farm inputs.

With the planting season approaching, they said that the cost of fertiliser and seed remains unaffordable while rainfall was irregular.

They said that production costs had skyrocketed to such a level that most farmers had shifted from commercial agriculture to subsistence farming.

At the moment, a 50 kilogramme bag of fertiliser goes for Sh3,900 up from Sh 1,600 last year and a litre of diesel goes for Sh90 up from Sh75 last year.

Most farmers in the North Rift region use tractors to plough their farms because they are too large to be cultivated manually.
Notice again that their I-NPK costs are rising faster than FF costs. I have been warning about this for some time.

As posted before: what happens when American industrial agriculture starts shifting to subsistence planting? IMO, postPeak planning to move 60-75% of the labor force to permaculture and full O-NPK recycling should be moving ahead if we wish to minimize the scale and duration of machete' moshpits.

Have you hugged your bag of NPK today?

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

sulfur news:

The high demand in Asia and North Africa has caused the cost of sulfur on the world market to spiral. Whereas in December 2007 a metric ton of sulfur in the Benelux region cost around US$ 95, the price is now in excess of US$ 250.

But the most worrying factor is the soaring cost of phosphate. The price of sulphur, an essential raw material in phosphate fertilisers, has increased by 300 per cent in two months and may go still higher. China, formerly a substantial exporter of phosphate, has imposed a ban on that trade to meet the burgeoning demand for its domestic market.

However, more worrying is the forecast that Brazil will this year tear up an additional 1.5 million acres of grassland to grow maize for the biofuels industry, with a predicted 100,000 tonnes of phosphate being diverted from the European market as a result.

In practical terms, for the UK arable farmer this means the cost of growing a single tonne of wheat is perilously close to £100 a tonne and that could go still higher if fuel prices move upwards again.
Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Hello TODers,

good article from the Wall Street Journal on food prices and protectionism:

...In the Philippines, the world's biggest importer of rice, a shortage of the grain has become acute. The government is considering a moratorium on converting agricultural land to construction of housing developments and golf courses...
Duhhh! What a triumphant mental breakthrough! Yet, they still are only 'considering' a moratorium....

I would suggest they consider putting these clowns on starvation level rations to speed the decision-making process.

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

Of course they are still considering it. Give them time.
They need to work out which developers have the most
bribe money available for the developments to go ahead.

Did anyone read the Leanan's posting at the top? Here is the end of the article "Peak and you shall find..":

Even if oil does peak and demand remains positive, the effects might not be all that bad. Alternatives would begin to come on strong, as market forces, while lagging, would nevertheless kick in with surprising speed. Sure, we might have to get used to “stagflation” again for awhile. And if energy prices go through the roof, and gasoline costs $12 a gallon, that will still be OK to those of us who can afford it. Plus, it will have the highly desirable side effect of keeping the Third World in their...well, let’s just say in third place. (After all, if everybody gets rich enough to buy a car, who will make my $80 tennis shoes for $1 in labor?)

It’s no secret that China, India, Malaysia and Africa, all want all the “stuff” that we oily-field folks have. I don’t blame them. It’s just that, lately, they don’t seem as willing to wait a few more centuries to get it. Really high energy prices can change that. There are many ways to mitigate, even benefit from, a peak in production. So cheer up! And let’s do nothing.

Or better still, take the politician’s cue, and do next to nothing. That way, we can at least feel like we’re minimizing any risk.

Sounds like something from the Colbert Report.


Biofuels renewable energy legislation requiring taking grain and converting it to fuel is leading to double digit food inflation, famine, and starvation.


In the 18th century Marie Antoinette, the queen of France, was told that the people did not have any bread. She told her advisors that the people should eat cake.

There have been bread riots in Egypt where millions of people lived on income of a dollar per day.


With targets for converting a larger portion of the United States grain harvest to ethanol to meet unrealistic government demands for biofuels the situation may worsen unless policy will be reversed. The cellulosic ethanol is not a viable technology. It might be done in a labratory, but there is not large scale production likely within a decade. If enforced the switch to cellulosic ethanol from renewable sources is likely to cause astronomical inflation in transportation fuels.