DrumBeat: April 18, 2008

Oil hits new record $117 a barrel

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil prices hit a record high $117 a barrel Friday as jitters over Nigerian oil supplies outweighed a rally in the dollar and fears of an economic slowdown in giant energy consumer China.

U.S. light crude settled up $1.83 at $116.96 a barrel, before hitting a record $117. London Brent crude gained $1.49 to $113.92.

... A Nigerian rebel group said Friday it had sabotaged a major oil pipeline operated by Royal Dutch Shell and vowed to step up attacks on oil installations.

Shell officials, which is currently pumping 400,000 barrels per day below capacity in the OPEC nation due to sabotage and security concerns, confirmed a small amount of production had been shut in.

Strikers at the major southern French oil port of Fos-Lavera vowed to remain on picket lines through Saturday. The strike trapped 23 vessels, including four crude oil tankers and six refined products tankers in the port.

A similar strike March lasted 17 days and forced four oil refineries with 603,000 barrels per day of combined capacity to curtail operations, helping spur a late spring rally in European diesel prices.

A British union will launch a two-day strike from April 27 at Ineos Grangemouth refinery, forcing it to shut down with an impact on the North Sea Forties pipeline system, which terminates there, both sides said on Friday.

Transformation time for the LNG industry

When BG Group began to build a billion-dollar liquefied natural gas plant in Trinidad and Tobago in 1996, one of the big draws was the Caribbean islands’ proximity to the US, the world’s biggest natural gas consumer.

But a little more than a decade later, many of BG’s ships are heading half way around the world to Japan, rather than the company’s regasification terminal in Lake Charles, Texas.

Canada: Motorists aghast at price of gas

The price hike comes just as Canadians are thinking about summer holidays. If the analysts are right, they might want to think again.

"People should get used to the idea of $1.50 a litre gas," said economist Jeff Rubin of CIBC World Markets.

Mexico minister says oil reform could boost GDP

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - A government proposal to overhaul Mexico's state-controlled energy sector could boost gross domestic product growth by close to 1 percent if approved, Energy Minister Georgina Kessel said on Friday.

Mexico Launches Drilling Tenders For Challenging Oil Basin

MEXICO CITY -(Dow Jones)- Mexico's state oil firm hopes to turn a long-ignored oil basin into a major producer as the country's traditional fields run dry.

This month Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, is collecting bids for two drilling tenders for the Chicontepec basin, according to Compranet, the government's procurement Web site.

Experts say it will be a difficult task for Pemex to reach its production target of 100,000 barrels a day by the end of this year at the geologically challenging area.

Obituary: Nikolai Baibakov

Nikolai Baibakov, Stalin's oil commissar who went on to direct the Soviet Union's planned economy for two decades until the advent of Mikhail Gorbachev, has died in Moscow, aged 97. His life encompassed what a Russian would see as the greatest moments of the Soviet Union. But he also presided over its disintegration, which Baibakov viewed as a national tragedy.

The end is nigh

Kevin Moore is famous for saying the end of the world is nigh.

He reckons he has never said that. What he says is the end of life as we know it is nigh.

New Zealand's current way of living will disappear sometime in the next three to five years, he says.

Peak oil and the world food shortage are the main problems, but there are other factors contributing to a future crisis - it's phosphorous, it's the money system, the water supply, the entire economic system.

Lester Brown: World Facing Huge Challenge on Food Front, BAU not an Option

A fast-unfolding food shortage is engulfing the entire world, driving food prices to record highs. Over the past half-century grain prices have spiked from time to time because of weather-related events, such as the 1972 Soviet crop failure that led to a doubling of world wheat, rice, and corn prices. The situation today is entirely different, however. The current doubling of grain prices is trend-driven, the cumulative effect of some trends that are accelerating growth in demand and other trends that are slowing the growth in supply.

Ag Secretary: 'We have never been less secure' about wheat

Schafer told the International Food Aid Conference meeting that crop failures have left global wheat stocks at their lowest point in 30 years and U.S. wheat stocks are at 60-year lows. Climate changes that have spawned unrelenting drought, floods and late freezes have all had an impact.

US carbon emissions to rise 23 percent over UN benchmark: IEA

PARIS - US emissions of greenhouse gases are poised to rise by nearly a quarter over a key UN benchmark by 2025, the date set by President George W. Bush for stabilizing this pollution, an International Energy Agency (IEA) expert said on Friday.

The benchmark of 1990 is a closely watched -- and politically sensitive -- measure of commitment for tackling global warming.

"With current policies, the greenhouse-gas emissions of the US will increase by 18 percent between 2005 and 2025," IEA chief economist Fathi Birol told AFP.

Lakes of Meltwater Can Crack Greenland’s Ice and Contribute to Faster Ice Sheet Flow

According to research by glaciologists Sarah Das of WHOI and Ian Joughin of UW, the lubricating effect of the meltwater can accelerate ice flow 50- to 100 percent in some of the broad, slow-moving areas of the ice sheet.

“We found clear evidence that supraglacial lakes—the pools of meltwater that form on the surface in summer—can actually drive a crack through the ice sheet in a process called hydrofracture,” said Das, an assistant scientist in the WHOI Department of Geology and Geophysics. “If there is a crack or defect in the surface that is large enough, and a sufficient reservoir of water to keep that crack filled, it can create a conduit all the way down to the bed of the ice sheet.”

Food miles don't feed climate change - meat does

That locally-produced, free-range, organic hamburger might not be as green as you think.

An analysis of the environmental toll of food production concludes that transportation is a mere drop in the carbon bucket. Foods such as beef and dairy make a far deeper impression on a consumer's carbon footprint.

11 great green ideas

Entrepreneurs are risking their money to develop everything from hybrid vehicles to home solar-panel systems. Here are some of the best concepts.

Gas prices push closer to $3.50 a gallon, oil hits $116

NEW YORK - Retail gas prices set new records Friday on their seemingly relentless march toward $3.50 a gallon, and diesel prices pushed further above $4 a gallon.

Oil futures, meanwhile, surged to a new record over $116 a barrel after a militant group in Nigeria said it had sabotaged a major oil pipeline operated by a Royal Dutch Shell PLC joint venture and promised further attacks on the country's petroleum industry.

..."I would say that energy prices are having the most profound effect on the economy in recent memory," said Phil Flynn, an analyst at Alaron Trading Corp., in Chicago, in a research note.

The rising impact of high oil prices

Now, rising energy prices – oil hit records above $115 a barrel this week – are causing concern about the potential damage to the economy. Americans are spending a larger share of their income on energy than at any time since 1986. That has crimped pocketbooks and helped dampen consumer sentiment. Purchases of everything from cars to clothing are falling.

"We are all worth less and earning less than a year ago," says economist Mark Zandi of Moody's Economy.com. "That is why consumers are pulling back, and judging from the confidence numbers they are in a panic mode."

Billionaire Texas oil man makes big bets on wind

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Legendary Texas oil man T. Boone Pickens has gone green with a plan to spend $10 billion to build the world's biggest wind farm. But he's not doing it out of generosity - he expects to turn a buck.

China delivers as non-OPEC output disappoints

In Russia, the world's number-two producer, output failed to grow for an alarming third month in March.

But in China, where you might expect a decline from aging elephant fields like Daqing, which has been pumping for nearly half a century, growth has been small but steady. Output climbed 2.2 percent in the first quarter, data showed Thursday.

Defying gloomy predictions that their fields would follow the offshore North Sea or Mexico's huge Cantarell into decline, China's oil firms have channeled vast amounts of cash into high and low-tech methods of extracting extra barrels.

While China's surging oil demand grabs the headlines, its upstream sector has quietly become the world's fifth biggest at 3.76 million barrels per day, displacing Mexico and closing in on OPEC member Iran, which pumps just under 4 million bpd.

High crude oil prices bite into refiners' profit margins

CALGARY - Many drivers are frustrated about how much the cost of gasoline has gone up, but experts say the price that refiners pay for crude oil - now trading around a record US$115 a barrel - has risen even faster.

While Canadians were on average paying $1.21 per litre on Thursday, compared to about $1.08 at this time last year, Edward Jones analyst Lanny Pendill said pump prices have not even come close to catching up with refiners' soaring costs.

"So the net impact has been the profitability at the refineries has declined significantly from last year's levels," he said.

"The refiner, in essence, is absorbing some of that cost increase of oil."

Bet on oil as the newest bubble

The Fed is printing money to clean up the housing bubble, which was fueled by the money it printed to clean up the Internet bubble. The only question is what kind of bubble the new money will inflate.

Bet on oil and other energy.

The REAL cost of inflation: The Mail's Cost of Living Index reveals food prices rising at SIX times official figure

The true, devastating scale of rising prices is revealed today - by the new Daily Mail Cost of Living Index.

It shows that families are having to find more than £100 a month extra this year to cope with increases in the cost of food, heat, light and transport.

According to the Consumer Price Index, inflation is running at only 2.5 per cent.

Yet the Mail's index finds that food costs alone are rising at 15.5 per cent a year - more than six times the official rate.

Peter Mandelson warning over food protectionism

Europe's trade chief gave warning of “a spiral of protectionism” in the grain trade as the price of rice soared to a new record and grain-producing countries stopped exports to prevent further outbreaks of food rioting.

Leading grain exporters in the developing world are shutting off supplies in an attempt to curb domestic food price inflation, but Peter Mandelson, the European Trade Commissioner, said that the export curbs were aggravating food shortages.

He said: “By chasing an illusion of food security these policies throttle domestic production, choke off supplies and risk leading to a spiral of protectionism and dwindling production.”

How the rich starved the world

World cereal stocks are at an all-time low, food-aid programmes have run out of money and millions face starvation. Yet wealthy countries persist with plans to use grain for petrol.

Savvy farmers open the gate to agritourism

"People are looking for more than cookie-cutter vacations, and (agritourism) is a way to help sustain small family farmers," says Erin Rosas, co-owner of Rosas Farms, just south of Gainesville, Fla. The 100-acre ranch hosts "eco-tourism culinary retreats" that cost $1,500 a night for groups of up to eight guests, including handcrafted beds topped with bamboo sheets, a five-course organic dinner and breakfast and lessons on how to prepare meals using farm-raised, hormone-free livestock, eggs and produce.

Gazprom Seeks Assets in Swap With Eni, Putin Says

(Bloomberg) -- OAO Gazprom expects to receive assets from Italy's Eni SpA in countries like Libya as the two companies cooperate in exploring for oil or natural gas and transporting fuel, Russian President Vladimir Putin said.

Moscow-based Gazprom, the world's biggest natural gas producer, and Eni, Italy's largest oil company, agreed a year ago to swap assets giving each other reciprocal access to their home markets. Eni bought gas fields in Siberia in return for Gazprom gaining the right to sell fuel in Italy.

Waves of destruction

Rising seas are changing Britain's coast dramatically. Norfolk is the first low-lying area to face a stark and cruel new choice - plough millions into doomed defences, or abandon whole villages to the invading waters.

Feds seek more time for polar bear decision

ANCHORAGE (AP) — The Department of the Interior wants 10 more weeks to decide whether polar bears should be listed as threatened or endangered, a delay conservation groups condemned as tied to the transfer of offshore petroleum leases in one of the animals' two U.S. habitats.

How to Win the War on Global Warming

Money will get us part of the way there, but what's needed most is will. "I'm not saying the challenge isn't almost overwhelming," says Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund and co-author of the new book Earth: The Sequel. "But this is America, and America has risen to these challenges before."

No one yet has a comprehensive plan for how we could do so again, but everyone agrees on what the biggest parts of the plan would be. Here's our blueprint for how America can fight—and win—the war on global warming.

Abundant clean energy in your back yard

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Americans are used to hearing that their energy supplies are dwindling.

But new discoveries of huge new natural gas fields in the United States and Canada could change that, cutting foreign imports and boosting production of a relatively clean energy source as global warming concerns take center stage.

No Cart Before This Horse: Petrobras Estimate Of Carioca By July

By midsummer, the premature statements made by Brazil National Petroleum Agency's Harold Lima April 14 should be a faux pas Petrobras can look back on with a smile.

Petrobras Chief Executive Sergio Gabrielli said that by July the company should have accurate information about the size of the oil and gas available at Carioca.

BP Says OPEC Quota Doesn't `Impact' Oil Production in Angola

(Bloomberg) -- BP Plc, Europe's second-largest oil company, said the company's plan to raise production in Angola won't be hindered by the quota OPEC set for sub-Saharan Africa's second-largest crude producer.

Pickens Reverses Position to Bet on Higher Oil Prices

(Bloomberg) -- Boone Pickens, a billionaire energy investor, said he reversed course and is betting the price of crude oil will rise.

Pickens, 79, the founder and chairman of Dallas-based BP Capital LLC, said today in a speech at Georgetown University that the price of crude will only continue to climb and demand will eventually be dampened.

``The position is long, not short,'' Pickens told reporters after his speech. ``I covered the short position, it was a mistake on my part. We missed.''

Gas hits $3.42 a gallon, bus ridership rises (Rochester, MN)

Hundreds of people who commute to Rochester from outlying communities are opting to leave their cars in their garages and ride the bus to and from work instead.

Don't dismiss nuclear risks

Fear of a growing energy shortage is leading to calls for more nuclear power plants. What many people are forgetting is that nuclear power is an expensive and risky investment, and there would be little interest in such projects without federal subsidies and incentives, including liability insurance, risk insurance for delays, production tax credits and loan guarantees totaling billions of dollars. In Florida, two proposed new reactors may cost $24 billion, with ratepayers expected to pay during construction. With wind power already more economical than nuclear power, and solar power soon to be, one critic predicts nuclear power plants will be "economically obsolete before they are built."

UK's first Hydrogen fuel station

Despite a shortage of potential customers, Britain’s first hydrogen filling station has opened at Birmingham University.

The station is the first of 12 outlets planned to open nationwide by 2010 and will serve a fleet of five fuel-cell cars. It’s the first part of the infrastructure needed to support the far-off prospect of hydrogen-powered cars in the UK.

The Ethanol Apologists

The outrages of the ethanol mandates are growing by the day.

Last week, a study funded by American beef, pork and chicken producers estimated that the total cost to taxpayers of the corn ethanol mandates now exceeds $33 billion per year. That's equal to about $106 per American citizen. While the soaring cost of the ethanol are maddening, even more galling are the continuing claims by a group of ethanol apologists who insist that the ethanol industry is having no effect on food prices. Those spurious claims are being made at the same time that the World Bank is warning of a global food crisis and unrest is increasing in several countries due to soaring food prices.

Palm oil boycott will not protect rainforests

Speaking at the first international palm oil sustainability conference in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, biologist Dr David S Wilcove said that simply calling for boycotts of palm oil from South East Asia is unrealistic and ineffective in conserving the regions rainforests.

"In the context of its tremendous economic importance, it must be recognised that the notion of boycotting palm oil is impractical and unrealistic. It is simply not an approach that will work," said Dr Wilcove.

Potash the new crude

Saskatchewan potash is the new crude oil, according to one market analyst monitoring the historic rise in value of the plant nutrient.

Breaking the Efficiency Gridlock

Under federal rules, utilities must have enough reserve power plants to meet the most extreme spikes in demand and prevent massive blackouts. As our appetite for electricity grows, so has the number of peaking plants, which now constitute at least 14 percent of our 2,600 power plants. And because peak demand is growing even faster than overall energy use, that number will continue to grow. Scott Simms, spokesman for the Bonneville Power Administration, another Pacific Northwest utility, likens the peaker boom to "building an extra freeway lane to accommodate one day of Super Bowl traffic."

Conservation Can Mean Profits for Utilities

A utility urging customers to use less energy? Seems impossible, since more BTUs and more kilowatts always meant higher profits in the energy business. But states are changing the way that utilities get paid—decoupling profits from energy consumption—to promote efficiency and curb the need for new power plants.

PG&E to tack on an extra bill

Starting in June, PG&E will collect the money to help recover costs related to the state's power crisis early in this decade, and to restore the sites of closed nuclear plants.

The California Public Utilities Commission in February affirmed PG&E's right to levy the charges. The action came over protests from the irrigation districts.

"PG&E needs to explain why it is charging fees for electrical service when it doesn't provide electrical service to these people and never has provided electrical service to these people," said Kate Hora, a spokeswoman for the Modesto district.

Walkout at huge oil refinery may cause petrol shortage

A strike at one of the biggest oil refineries could cause severe petrol shortages and spiralling prices.

Up to 1,200 workers at the Ineos plant at Grangemouth, near Glasgow, are to stage a 48-hour walkout this month in a row over pensions.

UAE, IEA discuss cooperation on stabilising global oil markets

ABU DHABI — Energy Minister of the United Arab Emirates Mohammed bin Dha’en Al Hamili and Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA) Nobuo Tanaka yesterday discussed ways to further bolster the standing relations and cooperation on stabilising the oil markets, reducing volatility and achieving an oil supply-demand balance.

Oil buyers and sellers to talk, not act on $115 oil

ROME (Reuters) - Sky-high oil prices and a bruised world economy ought to focus minds, but there is little prospect some 60 energy ministers meeting from Sunday will agree any meaningful action to control fuel costs.

Representatives of producer and consumer countries meet every two years at the International Energy Forum. They include members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, which pumps about a third of the world's oil.

Previous events have been dismissed as a talking shop and few expect the 2008 talks to be any different.

South Africa: Thousands march over food, power

"Electricity and food is not a luxury. It's a necessity. In the end of the day people will not have the money to buy food."

These are the words of Karin Jafta (29), who -- together with her husband -- was one of an estimated 3 000 members of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and the South African Communist Party (SACP) who took to the streets of Johannesburg on Thursday to protest against the rising prices of food, fuel and electricity.

Second week for Mexican Congress coup

MEXICO CITY (AP) — A week-long blockade of Congress by leftist lawmakers not only is stalling urgent energy reforms — it's also getting downright embarrassing, Mexico's foreign minister said Thursday.

The administration of President Felipe Calderon showed signs of dwindling patience after congressional leaders were forced to withdraw an invitation for Indian President Pratibha Patil to address a session of Congress.

Shipping Rates for Coal, Ore to Advance on Brazil, Sempra Says

(Bloomberg) -- The cost of shipping commodities by sea may climb as an increasing number of vessels are sailing to Brazil's two largest iron ore ports, cutting supply elsewhere, Sempra Metals said.

Fuel prices fatten up airfares again

FORT WORTH — Airfares are going up again, but not fast enough for most big airlines to cover their rising fuel expenses.

Even top discounter Southwest, which reported a profit Thursday on the strength of its successful fuel-hedging program, raised its fares for the second time this year.

It's time to scrap the ethanol boondoggle

Government-funded conversion to "biofuels" such as ethanol is scarcely helping with energy efficiency and is exacerbating a global food crisis. It's time for Canada to reverse course on this failed approach.

More demand for oil in Mideast hikes prices

WASHINGTON -- Middle Eastern oil-producing nations are behind today's record high oil prices, but not for the reason you might think. Taken together, oil-rich nations represent a bloc of fast-growing economies that are now sucking up new energy supplies almost as fast as they're coming to market. Together, the six nations that make up the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are now consuming about as much oil as China, whose thirst for oil frequently gets the blame for tight global supplies.

These GCC countries -- Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates -- have grown at a 7 percent annual clip since 2002. They boast a per-citizen income -- $19,000 -- that is three times China's. Demand for oil in the Middle East has risen by almost 6 percent annually since 2004.

..."Every time you jump 1 million barrels per day of energy demand in the Middle East, your supply [for export] falls by 1 million barrels per day," said Matthew Simmons, an investment banker specializing in oil.

The Peak Oil Crisis: The Silly Season Is Upon Us

During the past week, the surge in oil prices continued with crude, gasoline and diesel prices all hitting new highs.

U.S. gasoline consumption may be down by a few tenths of a percent (which seems logical) or then again, it may be up a bit in recent weeks depending on which numbers you are reading. Our Presidential candidates, or at least their handlers, are beginning to grasp that we have a problem here and are beginning to make proposals.

We have clearly entered the silly season, for all three major candidates now have endorsed the notion that the U.S. should stop buying oil for its strategic reserve in order to force prices back down. This might sound sensible until you learn that the U.S. is only squirreling away eight ten-thousandths of the world’s production each day.

Nigerian rebels say attack major Shell pipeline

LAGOS (Reuters) - Rebels in Nigeria's oil-producing Niger Delta said on Friday they sabotaged a major pipeline operated by Royal Dutch Shell, and a company spokeswoman said it was investigating reports of an explosion.

A statement from the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) said it attacked the Shell pipeline, which crosses from the Cawthorne Channel to the Bonny terminal, at Adamakiri in Rivers state late on Thursday.

Balkin' at Bakken

The latest USGS report only points to as much as 4.3 billion barrels accessible with today's technology. That's a far cry from 500 billion barrels, but is still a 25-fold increase over the agency's 1995 estimate of 151 million barrels, and is therefore an increase of some 6 percent in the total U.S. national recoverable oil estimates. Further oil technology innovation could potentially unlock more of the reserve, experts say, but at significant cost.

Gazprom Neft raises 2020 oil output forecast

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Gazprom Neft, an oil arm of Russian gas giant Gazprom, said on Friday it planned to more than double oil output by 2020 to 2 million barrels per day, up by a quarter from its previous forecast.

Roman Yefimychev, head of Gazprom Neft's petrochemical department, told a conference his firm would be producing 100 million tonnes of oil per year by 2020, a 25 percent increase from its previous forecast of 80 million tonnes.

Weak dollar not sole reason for high oil prices

Experts, therefore, point out that only when expectations about the U.S. dollar's depreciation completely break down can international oil prices truly step on a downward track.

However, some experts say other aspects besides the weak dollar are also responsible for pushing oil prices up dramatically and they would continue to wield an influence on international oil price trends.

Rice traders hit by panic as prices surge

Rice prices hit the $1,000-a-tonne level for the first time as panicking importers Thursday scrambled to secure supplies, exacerbating the tightness already provoked by export restrictions in Vietnam, India, Egypt, China and Cambodia.

The jump came as the Philippines, the largest rice importer, failed for the fourth time to secure as much rice as it wanted.

The unsuccessful tender followed Bangladesh's inability to buy any rice at all this week.

UK: Scientists agree placing wind farms on peatland is 'disastrous'

BUILDING wind turbines on Scotland's precious peatland could be catastrophic for the environment, according to a Scottish MEP.

Following a seminar given by key scientists at the European Parliament in Brussels, Struan Stevenson, MEP, is calling for action to stop any further building on peatland.

Wild Fires Likely To Spread Due To Global Warming

VIENNA - Wild fires are likely to be bigger, more frequent and burn for longer as the world gets hotter, in turn speeding up global warming to create a dangerous vicious circle, scientists say.

March the warmest on record over world land surfaces

WASHINGTON - Planet Earth continues to run a fever. Last month was the warmest March on record over land surfaces of the world and the second warmest overall worldwide. For the United States, however, it was just an average March, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported Thursday.

NOAA's National Climatic Data Center said high temperatures over much of Asia pulled the worldwide land temperature up to an average of 40.8 degrees Fahrenheit (4.9 degrees Celsius), 3.2 degrees (1.8 C) warmer than the average in the 20th century.

Jet stream, America's storm maker, moving slowly northward

WASHINGTON - The jet stream — America's stormy weather maker — is creeping northward and weakening, new research shows. That potentially means less rain in the already dry South and Southwest and more storms in the North.

And it could also translate into more and stronger hurricanes since the jet stream suppresses their formation. The study's authors said they have to do more research to pinpoint specific consequences.

France warns climate change driving war, hunger

PARIS (AFP) - French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Friday told the world's biggest carbon polluters that global warming was becoming a driver of hunger, unrest and conflict, with the war in Darfur a concrete example.

"Climate change is already having a considerable impact on security," Sarkozy said in a speech to ministers from 16 economies that together account for 80 percent of the planet's greenhouse-gas emissions.

Raising Nuclear Power Plant Fuel Efficiency by 900 Percent


Not quite a two-seater hybrid electric, but ORNL's new nuclear fuel promises to boost efficiency by as much as 900%. U.S. Nuclear reactors are not known for their fuel efficiency. At a mere three to four percent burn-up, much of the uranium fuel is wasted and current reactors produce large amounts of unsightly nuclear waste. Advanced gas reactors may offer a better choice for the aging U.S. nuclear power posse.

Is that this stuff?

Next-generation nuclear fuel may be too hot to handle: report

PARIS (AFP) - New high-efficiency nuclear fuel meant to burn longer and stronger may prove unstable in an emergency and hard to dispose of, according experts cited in a report published Wednesday.

Nope. The link you quote refers to fuel to use in present boiling water reactors and pressurised reactors.

The fuel in the link antidoomer quotes is for advanced gas cooled reactors, and the source appears inaccurate as in the body of the text it talks about multiplying the burn from 3% to 9%, an increase of 300%, not the 900% quoted in the headline.

Actually, going from 3 to 9 would be an increase of 200%.

Thank god, someone can do basic arithmetic. *whew*

Yeah, I should have written 'an increase to 300% from the original base figure' but figured that anyone of normal intelligence would be able to follow, so did not bother re-writing.

I've always wondered why it is that going from 3% to 9% wouldn't be an increase of 6% (9-3=6). It seems that when you quote the 300% figure, you're talking about the percent that a percent is changing, but that ought to be a per-decimil rather than per-cent, but people never agree with me on that.

That's where percentage points come in.

hell yes, it 6%, but 200% of 3%(thats %%, or %^2)

surely 3*3 = 9 = 300%

I think I understand your lack of understanding of AGW a bit better now....

Of course, AGW stopped around the turn of the millenium. http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/opinion?articleid=3975938

When your appeal to authority is an article by a British ex-government minister from the Thatcher era, you must be getting desperate.

No, but it annoys the green nazi's, which is the important thing. Will global warming resume again or not? If not there will be some red faces around.

You're approaching the league of jbunt, that of nincompoop. This last March was the warmest on record over world land surfaces and "second warmest overall worldwide."


Check this out, genius:

Sea Ice Index

For something more you denialists' cherry picker style:

Last month was the warmest March on record over land surfaces of the world and the second warmest overall worldwide.

And here's the clincher. Pay special attention top Fig. 5. Everything and anything else you know about sea ice pales in comparison. It is *the* thing you need to understand.

Multi-year ice almost gone.

Parting shots: What do you *not* understand about trends?

What do you *not* understand about La Nina?

Who pays you to spout this crap when even G. Dumbya Bush admits AGW is real and lives in one of the Greenest homes you could hope to find, eh?

Now, crawl back to Exxon and tell them to kiss my arse.


The loss of sea ice last summer was funny, since 2007 was only the 8th warmest year on record. There were 7 warmer years but without the the massive loss of Summer ice cover. Some odd factor was at work. despite increasing emissions the annual temperature trend seems to have stabalised. Whether it will stay so remains to be seen.

What's funny is using inaccurate data to draw inaccurate conclusions. 2007 was the 8th warmest year on record - in the US. Worldwide it was the equal second warmest year on record. And more importantly, when analyzed by region, warming was particularly strong in the Artic:


Climatologists at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York City have found that 2007 tied with 1998 for Earth's second warmest year in a century.
The greatest warming in 2007 occurred in the Arctic, and neighboring high latitude regions. Global warming has a larger affect in polar areas, as the loss of snow and ice leads to more open water, which absorbs more sunlight and warmth. Snow and ice reflect sunlight; when they disappear, so too does their ability to deflect warming rays. The large Arctic warm anomaly of 2007 is consistent with observations of record low geographic extent of Arctic sea ice in September 2007

right, which is why March was the warmest worldwide on record...

between not being able to do the math, trusting sources who are not experts in the field and believing in mythical creatures called Green Nazis - I'm very not surprised that you don't understand AGW

2nd, actually. #1 over land.


Yes, I expressed it in terms of 300% to try to retain the original articles format, where they obviously got confused about the rise up to 9% burn-up and said 900%.
I wrote rather sloppily though and should have said that the new burn up figure of 9% was 300% of the original figure, not an increase of 300% as I said.
It seems to have upset the pedants. although since I gave the 3% and 9% figures the meaning should have been perfectly clear.

9 fold would be 300% of the original, but an increase of 300% would be 100% + 300%, 400%, so 4*3=12

Its just games with the word 'increase'

...and current reactors produce large amounts of unsightly nuclear waste.

It's good to know that unsightliness is the biggest problem with the waste. We can just send it to the landfill with old newspapers and banana peels, then.

Yeah, I was wondering whose job it was to get close enough to see that it is "unsightly." I'll be the turnover rate is high.

That sound exactly CASEnergy Coalition efficiency fantasies.
Please read Dittmar Proposal The Nuclear Option: Facts & Fantasies
For me personally energy should coup following criterien:
1.. Clean => OK
2.. Safe & Secure =>???
3.. Affordable & Reliable =>??? resources depletion
4.. Economic Benefits =>??? for whom?

Funny that that artice wastes so much time attacking Fusion, which everybody knows is unlikely to ever be of any use anyway.
1 They assume efficiency of reactors will never increase
2 In mentioning other sources of uranium fuel they never mention recovering it from coal, which is far more promising.

Their page "'Known' Uranium in the ground?" illustrates sloppy research and poor work in that their quote of uranium resources is from the IAEA redbook with uranium at $130/kg, when LWR electricity cost is less than 1% the price of the uranium. Uranium exploration has been tepid for decades, and then the price crashed with the downblending of weapons uranium as part of the disarmament treaties. The resource depletion argument for uranium has been beaten into the ground over and over. Its simply not credible in the least.

The article is light on technical details and heavy on fluff. Nuclear Gas reactors are not very efficient to begin with. Nuclear gas reactors were designed to operate without the risk of a meltdown, but greatly sacrifies the neutron economy. The were also designed to "burn-up" fuel so that the spent fuel can't be processed to produced nuclear weapons.

The High Temperature Pebble Bed, Helium gas reactors have a neutron economy of about 0.3. where as a Pressurized light water reactor is about 0.6. A Heavy water reactors has an efficiency of about 0.9. In a reactor with 0.3 neutron efficency, approximately 30% of the fertial U-238 is converted into Fissible U-239 which contributes to the power output. Reactors with a neutron efficiency above 1.0 are considered breeder reactors, because the produce more fuel than is consumed.

The bottom line, is this is a whole lot of nothing, since the efficiency is probably not significantly better than light water reactors, and gas reactors need an abundant source of helium. Helium production is dependant on natural gas production. As Natural gas becomes depleted, so will the supply of Helium. The Pellets are also difficult to recycle spent fuel because the are designed to operate at very high tempertures. A costly process is required to remove the protective shell before the fuel can be reprocessed. Any serious nuclear power program has to include fuel reprocessing to be energy economical.

Here is some more info on the AGW fuel cycle they are talking about:
They are intending to use the technology more to burn up waste rather than as a primary means of production.

Any process which is heavy on helium sounds doubtful to me.

I think we need to distinguish different meanings of efficiency. One would be the percentage of fissionable/fertile material actually fissioned, this was where the 3% and 9% figures were used. From a mining, and waste disposal standpoint this would be a figure of merit. Tech guy was interested in the fact that you needed U235 and/or plutonium to actually produce enough neutrons to sustain the reaction. He was interested in how much of this is left over -presumably for reprocessing & incorporation into future fuel. Thirdly there is the thermodynamic efficiency of the power plant. Depending upon what is the primary concern of an author, he could mean any of those.

This appears to refer to concentration of enriched uranium fuel. There has been a tendency over years to go from about 3% enrichment to about 5%. Maybe they're trying to go to 10% or so.

This might be some improvement, but it wouldn't use any less uranium. The uranium would simply be more highly concentrated.

Antidoomer may like this one, or maybe it's more Stuarts speed.

Jeffrey D. Sachs at Google Talks April 9th 2008 discussing his book.

Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet.

youtube/google_video link 72 minutes

Video also on Charlie Rose http://www.charlierose.com/home

Nice find.

Here is a link of charlierose.com with a search for Sachs. Looks like there are a number of videos.

Videos tagged with Sachs at charlierose.com

Have a good weekend everybody.

More demand for oil in Mideast hikes prices
Mideast oil producers increasingly consume their own oil to fuel their fast-growing economies, driving up oil prices.

This is precisely the point made at the EIA Conference on April 7-8, 2008. Seems like we've thought of that before (here) but somehow that just does not register with some people. It's almost like "the nerve of them to use 'our' oil."

Wait 'til it's the mid-WEST producers that consume their own oil and don't let it go out of state!

And maybe producers of food as well as oil?

The Middle East (amongst other areas of the world) might also say "the nerve of the USA to feed our food to their SUVs"?

Right now, the US Constitution's Supremacy Clause, Commerce Clause, and the implied Dormant Commerce Clause should prevent this within the US. However, I have a hunch that states and regions will look for and find a series of temporary end-runs around these protections, with a new tactic opening a hole as soon as the courts close the last one, and effectively prove you right...

A single new natural gas pipeline (Rockies Express) is just now connecting Colorado natural gas supplies to the East Coast grid. How high will natural gas prices have to go before this starts to create serious tension?

A single new natural gas pipeline (Rockies Express) is just now connecting Colorado natural gas supplies to the East Coast grid. How high will natural gas prices have to go before this starts to create serious tension?

Over the past twenty years, the price paid for natural gas by Colorado consumers has a clear inverse relationship with the capacity of the NG pipelines leaving the state. At least one of the regular Denver Post opinion columnists has taken to pointing this out, and suggests that if the state's leaders were really concerned about the high price of NG in Colorado -- a concern that receives lip service from both the Democrats and the Republicans here -- they would find ways to restrict the use of those pipelines.

My own guess is that we're 20-25 years away from the West rebelling over having to share their relatively rich energy resources with the eastern half of the country.

WSJ: Surge in Natural-Gas Price 
Stoked by New Global Trade
Further Gains Likely
Despite 93% Spike;
Bidding With Japan
April 18, 2008

Today, a tanker of liquefied natural gas, or LNG, pulling into port in Japan can command close to $20 per million BTUs, roughly double the price of the U.S. benchmark. As a result, the U.S. is having trouble attracting the imports it needs to supplement homegrown production. . .

. . . Overall, U.S. imports of LNG have slid over the past nine months to a five-year low, and natural-gas inventories are running relatively low. Deutsche Bank commodities chief David Silbert says that if the U.S. is unable to attract LNG supply this summer, prices could spike up sharply within a few months if a hot summer were to reduce the ability to build a cushion of gas going into next winter.

The traditional ratio between gas and oil, on a BTU basis is about six to one, six MMBTU per one barrel of oil, so LNG cargoes in Japan are selling at about par to oil. It appears that the US is presently being outbid for LNG cargoes on the spot market.

US natural gas production has increased year over year, but we are increasingly dependent on small gas reservoirs, which peak and quickly decline, and on very large numbers of relatively low rate of production unconventional gas wells--requiring an ever larger number of wells, while we are facing personnel and equipment problems across the board.

It's not uncommom for product tankers to divert course because another party overbid the one of the initial destination. I know this as it is related to my job.

I recall Michael Lynch saying, not that long ago, that global traffic in LNG would put a floor on Natural Gas prices - I think he mentioned $3.50 per thousand cu.ft. It couldn't get much higher than that from conventional N.American landlocked sources, according to Mike, because LNG would keep the overall market price low.

Oops ! What's wrong with Michael's calculations?

Dick Lawrence

Thought this was interesting, in a Tainterian kind of way:

Air trips slowest in past 20 years

WASHINGTON — Air travel is slower than at any time in the past two decades, a USA TODAY analysis shows.

Congestion on the ground and in the sky is adding more than an hour to some routes as planes take longer to taxi and fly to their destinations, according to USA TODAY's computer review of millions of Department of Transportation (DOT) records.

Some examples are stark: The typical flight from Las Vegas to New York's Kennedy Airport last year took six hours and 10 minutes, compared with four hours and 37 minutes in 1988. Flying from Honolulu to San Diego took on average seven hours and 23 minutes last year, while the same trip took five hours two decades ago.

Surface transport in my neck of the woods underwent a similar collapse (during and perhaps caused by) the rise of the automobile. Steam powered trains made the 75 run from my downtown to Chicago downtown in one hour 40 minutes 100 years ago, with approximately 10 stops. Rail infrastructure during the heyday of 19 cent a gallon gas was allowed to deteriorate until the trains in the early 1970s (with much better, modern rolling stock capable of 100 mph) made the run in slightly over 2 hr 15 minutes just before abandonment of the line. At the end, bikes and horses raced the train and beat it.

By the way, it is impossible to make the run in this time today by car, following traffic laws, or even breaking a lot of them. The closest train station is 14 miles away (25 min by car), and the best time you can make is on one of the expresses in rush hour, making the run in 1 h 35 minutes. This gives a total of 2 hrs, which is still a little faster than driving the entire distance, and more reliable/predictable (the OTP of the train runs 95-97 percent.)

Eventually, inevitably, anyplace that is more than about a four-hour walk away (say 10-12 miles at the most) will be at least an overnight trip away. That is the way it has been in most places, for most of humankind's history.

No, it won't be that bad. I can average 13 miles per hour on the bike, pulling a loaded single wheel cargo trailer. It's not much effort either. I'm not particularly young (kids in college). So I suspect we'll be more mobile than 10-12 miles. Also we'll see electric bikes within a couple of years. Faster if the price of oil continues to rocket. The bikes will segue nicely as the bigger cars and pickup trucks drop out of the traffic mix.

Brush-less hub dynamo bikes already have a 25 mile range at 22-25 mph. using lead-acid batteries. You can convert your current bike for less than $500. That range covers most commuting and errand tasks. And $500 is with reach of most. With a modest battery tech. the range should double.

I'm not a cornucopian by any means, but losing the automobile won't be the END. It will be the BEGINNING.

I'm not a cornucopian by any means, but losing the automobile won't be the END. It will be the BEGINNING.


Also from WSJ (via Google news)

Nuclear-Plant Analyses Ordered Metal-Fatigue Tests
Signal New Scrutiny From Washington

Signaling that aging nuclear-power plants may face greater scrutiny, U.S. regulators have told utilities to more rigorously analyze metal fatigue at several sites, including two opposed by environmentalists.

The heightened scrutiny comes as a slew of older plants, dating to the late 1960s and early 1970s, seek operating-license renewals from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Your "Walkout at huge oil refinery may cause petrol shortage " link is priceless! It's only the Mirror without any background info, but: credit crises meets energy crisis.

Press Release: Strike action threatens safety at Grangemouth site

INEOS, the owner of the Grangemouth oil refinery, has today been told by the Unite trade union that its members will not provide safety cover during a planned strike from April 27th to 29th. Unite also told the company that it had just ten days to remove all oil and gas from the plant and make the site safe – a physical impossibility.

Further press reports say the refinery will begin shutting down this weekend and it could take a month to fully restart production.

There's more info at http://www.energyinst.org.uk/education/refineries/grangemouth.htm

The Forties Pipeline System terminates at the refinery, where the crude oil stabilisation plant is situated. Some crude oil is refined in Grangemouth and the remainder flows via another pipeline to a storage tank area, and onwards to tanker loading terminals in the River Forth downstream of the Forth Bridges.

Other crude oil for the refinery is landed at Finnart Ocean terminal on Loch Long, which can receive tankers up to the 324,000 dwt class. The oil is then pumped to the refinery through a 58-mile pipeline system across Scotland.

The refinery provides feedstock to an important group of chemical factories on an adjoining site, owned and operated by BP Chemicals Limited and its associates.

This looks ugly.

There's surprisingly little news about it, though.

Refinery strike 'risks supplies'

The union said that petrol supplies could be severely disrupted by the strike and it could also hit North Sea production for weeks

So it is being reported by the BBC but they are not headlining it yet...


Unite just put out another press release

First strike at an oil refinery for 73 years to go ahead

Friday, 18th April 2008

Unite the union today announced that industrial action at the Grangemouth oil refinery in Scotland will begin on 27th April.

Unite National Secretary, Phil McNulty, said:

..."An agreement has been reached between the union and the company on the safe and orderly shut down of the plant. Previous claims by Ineos that Unite had not given adequate consideration to safety are untrue and deeply upsetting for our members and the local community."

Euan said he thinks they'll probably settle it. If they don't, though, it could be bad.

Hmmm...even if they do settle it, wouldn't there be a significant disruption? Once they start the (lengthy) shutdown procedure, wouldn't they have to be off-line for quite a while?

Yes, but I don't think they're actually starting the shutdown yet. I suspect the deadline is when the shutdown will start, so there's probably plenty of time to settle.

I suspect they need to solve this in hours rather than days to prevent serious disruption. This just on Reuters. Also WTI just went over $117

Strike to shut British refinery, affect Forties

LONDON, April 18 (Reuters) - Workers will launch a two-day strike on April 27 at Ineos' Grangemouth refinery in Scotland, forcing it to shut down with a significant impact on the North Sea Forties pipeline system that terminates there, both the union and company said on Friday.

"The bottom line is that because Unite the Union has basically told us that we have to close down the site and remove all hydrocarbons from the facility, we effectively have to begin turning off the refinery which is at the end of the Forties pipeline," Ineos Communications Manager Richard Longdon said.

"It will have a significant impact on the Forties pipeline," Longdon added. He declined to give further details.

Unite spokesman Richard O'Brien said the shutdown at the refinery could last as long as a month and affect North Sea crude production for a week.

I wonder if they're really doing it, though. Sounds to me like there's a lot of spin coming from both sides.

Might not be allowed to happen.

Gordy Broon has enough on his plate, what with back bencher and minister revolts re the abolishing of the 10% tax threshold (kicks the lowest paid 5 million in the teeth.)

So, the may just do what they were thinking about after the 2000 fuel strikes:

Memorandum of Understanding

(Full Text)

1. The UK Government, the Scottish Executive, the Cabinet of the National Assembly for Wales, the companies below, the Trades Union Congress and the police continue to be committed to the normal supply of oil fuels[1] as a national priority and economic imperative, in a manner which ensures the safety of their employees, their contractors and the public.

2. The UK Government, the Scottish Executive, the Cabinet of the National Assembly for Wales, the companies below and the police are engaged in joint planning and processes with the aim of preserving supply and, in the event of unavoidable supply disruption, of protecting supplies to defined essential users. For obvious security reasons not all details can be published, but the main elements of the planning, information and management system will include the following:

(a) Implementation of early warning systems and related contingency plans.

(b) Reviewing the level, location and role of oil fuel stocks in the event of disruption.

(c) Facilitating the movement of oil fuels to users, and, in particular, to defined essential users.

(d) Controlling the delivery of oil fuels to customers in the event of disruption to supplies.

(e) Agreeing crisis management systems.

3. In an emergency, the UK Government will be responsible for overall policy and strategy.

4. An essential element of the arrangements is the establishment by the UK Government, the Scottish Executive, the Cabinet of the National Assembly for Wales, the companies below and the police of an effective crisis management system, with clear guidelines and
appropriate flexibility for local implementation in accordance with local circumstances. It is recognised that appropriate communication and consultation with the workforces and the relevant trade unions at national and local level will need to be a key part of these arrangements.

5. In the event of a significant disruption, or threat of significant disruption, to normal supply, the UK Government will request that a jointly managed approach to the distribution of oil fuels be implemented, with priority for defined essential users,
on the basis of arrangements currently the subject of further joint working.

6. The companies below and the police commit to work together to implement consistent arrangements aimed at securing the unimpeded and safe movement of oil fuels. To this end the UK Government, the Scottish Executive and the Cabinet of the National Assembly for Wales are willing to consider exercising their powers to permit certain flexibilities and temporary changes in the application of regulations, after consultation with relevant parties, and without prejudice to safety. The companies below and the police commit to work together to deal with the potential for and allegations of

7. The UK Government, the Scottish Executive, the Cabinet of the National Assembly for Wales, the companies below, the Trades Union Congress, and the police reaffirm their determination to maintain the continuity of supply and distribution of oil fuels without
prejudice to safety.

8. Implementation of this Memorandum of Understanding will be carried out in compliance with all applicable competition law.

9. The parties below will review progress on the implementation of this Memorandum of Understanding on a regular basis, which will include a programme of inspections, testing and exercises.

10. The parties below agree that, subject to further discussions with the UK Government, other companies and organisations may become parties to this Memorandum of Understanding, or appropriate sections of it.

Date: 29 September 2000

Source: The full text of the MoU and the full list of signatories from the Internet

Interesting bit at the end of the article about the French strike. There's an article here.

PARIS (Reuters) - The French port union, part of the CGT federation, warned on Thursday that ports could be crippled in a stand-off with the authorities over reforms.

A 24-hour strike at France's biggest oil port of Fos-Lavera disrupted on Thursday the traffic of four oil tankers while strikers at the Nantes Saint-Nazaire port blocked nine ships.

And now the strike has been extended through the weekend...

From observing the situation over the last couple of years or so I get the feeling that here in the UK, at least, there is a generally a block on adverse energy information - much like government 'D notices'.

It looks like the French strikes over the past few weeks (that we are only really hearing about now) explains the recent diesel price differentials we have seen in the UK.

What percent of our gasoline imports come from the UK? Could this result in much higher gasoline prices and/or shortages on the East Coast this Summer?

This table gives you the breakdown of gasoline imports by point of origin, but has a data lag of several months. The most recent is Jan 08 when 12,781,000 bbls of finished gasoline were imported, 1,628,000 bbls being from the UK, for 12.737657% for that month, with the daily amount being 52,516.129 bbls or 2,205,677.4 gallons.

As for the second part of your query, the whole supply/demand equation is on a razor's edge where any disruption will lead to higher prices, but possible shortages are dependent, IMO, on the type of disruption and its likely longevity.

Hot Air in Bangkok

After five days of contentious discussions in Bangkok, governments from nearly 200 countries last week agreed to an agenda for further talks to forge a new United Nations global warming agreement. One sticking point has been developing nations' insistence that industrialized countries should take the first steps in reducing emissions and should help finance reductions in developing countries. But this represents a serious misreading of the underlying economic situation.


Had there been no greenhouse gas-producing activities in the U.S., what would have been Bangladesh's GDP and level of human well-being? How would that affect life expectancy, which is currently 62 years but was only 35 years in 1945? Would Bangladesh's hunger and malnutrition rates rise? How many Bangladeshis were saved in the 1960s and 1970s because of food aid from industrialized countries? How much of its increase in agricultural productivity is due to higher CO2 levels, or indirectly due to efforts enabled because the U.S. was wealthy enough to support them? If future agricultural productivity declines due to climate change, how do you subtract past and present benefits from future harms?

The result of all this is that Bangladesh has an unsustainble population, especially because it has now become dependent upon unsustainable fossil fuels to run its agriculture, among other sectors. They might be better off than they otherwise might have been, but they will end up worse off than they otherwise would have been. We are running out of all the things like oil and fertilizers which made the green revolution possible. Whatever progress they have made because of the green revolution may be cold comfort for those part of the future dieoff.

Unless a miracle occurs. Enter cornucopian fantasy here.

Ontario set to veto ban on clotheslines

In a bid to curb the use of energy-sucking dryers, the new regulation will overrule neighbourhood covenants – part of the mortgage agreement between many developers and homebuyers – that outlaw clotheslines because they're considered unsightly.

The same thing is being done in Colorado. From personal experience, I can attest that switching to clotheslines or racks makes a huge difference.

Ah, an answer to the riddle, "How are clotheslines like nuclear waste?"

It's seriously retarded that the humble clothesline could be banned under a covenant. In Australia, the Hills Hoist (i.e. the most prominent type of clothesline) is virtually an institution and is found almost everywhere that there is a yard of some description. I occupied a unit subject to stratum title (basically the equivalent of this 'owners' corporation' crap), but there was still a clothesline. Australians are still enormous energy wasters, but we've never seen a problem with _clotheslines_.

Gazprom Neft, an oil arm of Russian gas giant Gazprom, said on Friday it planned to more than double oil output by 2020 to 2 million barrels per day

They must be planning to acquiring other company's production, with the assistance of the Russian government no doubt.

I have been following Russian production very closely since last December at their web site:

Gazprom Neft has, since December, been declining gradually. The first data I have is from December 23rd. That day Gazprom Neft produced 88.2 thousand tons. The last data, from April 16th, they produced 83.7 thousand tons, a decline of 4.5 thousand tons per day or 5.1 percent in four months. That is the stiffest decline of any of the Russian producers.

Ron Patterson

Ron, how do you interpret the data there? Those numbers are daily production - are the changes quoted relative to the previous day or some different baseline? Do they have cumulative numbers per week/month, or are you writing down the numbers each day?

The numbers represent thousand tons per day all liquids. They are reported about three times a week, on no schedule whatsoever that I can figure out. The changes are from the previous report. That report may have been yesterday or three days ago. There are no cumulative numbers that I can find.

I just keep a running report of the numbers as they come in. I average them at the end of the month. I get tons per day, all liquids from this site and barrels per day C+C from the EIA. I try to figure out how to convert the Russian numbers to barrels per day. The multiplier that gave the correct, or near correct, numbers for December and January was 7.025. In other words, I took the average barrels per day, all liquids, multiplied that number by 7.025 and that gave me the number of C+C barrels that the EIA reported for Russia for that month. Of course using that number in the future just gives a rough estimate but it will get you within two tenths of one percent of the correct number. And of course that multiplier will be adjusted after each EIA report to give a slightly more accurate number. The number can never be exactly correct because the barrels of "NGLs and other liquids" as a percentage of C+C changes from month to month.

Ron Patterson

In Simmons book 'Twilight in the Desert', there is a section of the book detailing the balance of well pressure that must be maintained to effectively get as much oil out as possible. As a worst case scenario he explained how Russia during the 80's had opened up the valves much wider than they should have to get as much oil out as fast as possible. It was effective until the wells lost pressure and they ended up extracting a much lower percentage of recoverable oil.

From those depletions percentages I'm wondering if the Russians have done it again.

Ron, thanks for the description, and thanks also for taking the effort to accumulate this data and to post the updates here. Much appreciated.

Canada's housing boom is 'officially over'

The Canadian Real Estate Association reported 75,476 homes changed hands in the first quarter of 2008, down 13% from the first quarter of 2007. In March, sales dropped 18.7% from the same month the year before, including a 39.7% slide in Calgary, a 34% drop in Edmonton and a 22.2% drop in Toronto.

Average prices rose just 5.5% to $327,620 in the first quarter over the first quarter of 2007, the smallest price increase since the fourth quarter of 2001. Prices rose 11% last year and 10% on average in each of the prior five years.

And yet across the street from us in Ottawa, a renovated 104 year old, 1000 sq ft (over two-stories) semi-detached, with a tiny back yard, and with an asking price of $309,000 sold as quickly as it was listed 2 weeks ago for $326K after a brief bidding war. Two other houses on nearby streets also sold for more than the asking price within the past two weeks.

Yup, the advantage of being downtown, close to public transit and within walking distance of most amenities. The sellers are looking a little farther out, but were very receptive to advice that they find a place (they want more yard for their toddler) somewhere within reach of reliable public transit if they hope to have a house which retains its value overtime.

It won't be long before people are fighting for electrified rail transport in their neck of the burbs.

"Yup, the advantage of being downtown"

yes, it's different there(unlike san diego, los angeles, phoenix, florida) in glorious downtown...ottawa?

And that, Toil, is why we think our house in central downtown Jacksonville will continue to do well in the market while the exurbs fail and are forgotten like bad high school science experiments. Note, I am living in BC now and working on many energy related projects but we still have our house in Jax. It also helps the place is an historic 120 year-old American victorian/vernacular within 1 mile of downtown and the river. I was going to live in Ottawa at one point but the lure of 'merikan money during the Internet boom was too hard to resist.

Glad you chose to advise these people. I find more are receptive to this outlook since the price at the pump is a constant reminder. Want to see crazy house pricing rivaling SF, look at Vancouver. I've been on a "learn to work remotely" tear within our engineering company for the past while. You'd think at least engineers would have figured it out by now?

Does a steadily rising oil price become so routine that it's no longer news? A couple of days ago, when NYMEX crude first hit $115, I searched in vain for a story about it on the NYT online business page, which led me to wonder: If the price of oil sets a new record every day, is it still news? Or does it just fade into the background of routine events, just as it becomes absolutely the most important thing that's going on? Do we ever get to a "holy shit!" moment, or is the end of our way of life going to be just another yawn?

Mark Folsom

When I start talking to people about Peak Oil, I get yawns or annoyed looks. I am called a negative person. 200$ oil will probably get less coverage than 100$ oil.

Negativity is a cardinal sin in Prozac Nation...

There really is a weird "cult of positivity" in the US, it's been written about a few times but not enough. Americans are known for taking the "can do" attitude to loony lengths, wearing these weird nailed-on smiles along their their fanny packs and cameras when outside the Empire, and most really, honestly, believe that US homeless and Bangladeshis alike can pull themselves up by their bootstraps, and thus their misery is caused by NOT THINKING POSITIVELY DAMMIT.

Positive thinking has its place but it cannot change things like laws of physics, gravity, or geology. And the presidential politicians fly around the country saying that America can do anything. Perhaps that true. But when will we begin?

"But when will we begin?"

it's been going on for at least decades, although it's picked up a lot lately.

if the pace of events are not to your liking maybe that means peak oil isn't as much of a problem as you thought it was going to be?

What, you're not a "believer"?


...military intelligence, civil servant, airline food, clean coal....


Even unrealistic positive thinking does have its place. If you're freaking doomed, it's still better to choose a path with a 1% survival rate than one with a 0.01% survival rate. Baby turtles generally face those odds. Concentrating on your almost certain demise is not helpful. Cheerfully grasping at straws is better than laying down to die. The "Hey, I can DO this" attitude, however unrealistic, is a survival trait. Reality is over-rated--denying reality can substantially improve your chances at success when the stakes are high and the odds are bad.

Wow, this sounds like a rant--I hope that people understand the gist of what I'm saying. As an example, I think AlanFromBigEasy is pinning his hopes on a 10% chance of a transition to electrified rail (sorry if I mis-remember).

Hey, I've used the baby-sea-turtle analogy a number of times when speaking with recent grads and proto-activists.

I am currently not in demand as a motivational speaker.

Still, it's a useful perspective.

Even unrealistic positive thinking does have its place.

Sure it does. It's just that most people go overboard.

Much of the unrealistic positive thinking that I've seen breeds nothing but inaction and denial. It takes the form of, "The markets will take care of it, never underestimate human innovation". Or, "why would I stock food?? Things will not get that bad".

If you're freaking doomed, it's still better to choose a path with a 1% survival rate than one with a 0.01% survival rate.

I agree. Only I would argue that most unrealistic positive thinking takes your second path, which is the 'one-way monorail to Hell' path. For example, absurd posturing about Four Billion Cars in 2050. This is a waste of time, energy, and intellect... on a positive and unrealistic problem.

Cheerfully grasping at straws is better than laying down to die. The "Hey, I can DO this" attitude, however unrealistic, is a survival trait.

Again, it depends on the nature of the straws.

If your talking about realistic straws, then I agree. For example, how many hardcore LATOC'ers have taken the initiative to store some food, plant a garden, protect their assets, and so on? From what I can tell, most are not 'laying down to die, nor are they concentrated on their own demise. Instead, they are focused getting themselves and their loved ones through the coming bottleneck. This is a survival trait.

On the other hand, if the straws one is grasping at are unrealistic pipedreams, then no, that is absolutely not a survival trait. Four billion cars in 2050, or using an imaginary 150 million acres of farmland 'lying fallow' for biofuels - these are not good straws to be grasping at.

Reality is over-rated--denying reality can substantially improve your chances at success when the stakes are high and the odds are bad.

Okay, this statement takes the cake. This kind of faith (not thinking) is largely the problem! The 'denying of reality', irrationality, has brought America to its knees. I recommend reading, The Coming Dark Ages: The Final Phase of Empire, by Morris Berman, which explains why we are on the brink of disaster (even without peak oil, ecological catastrophe, etc.).

Only I would argue that most unrealistic positive thinking takes your second path, which is the 'one-way monorail to Hell' path. For example, absurd posturing about Four Billion Cars in 2050. This is a waste of time, energy, and intellect... on a positive and unrealistic problem.

This appears to me to be a complete non sequitur from your argument.

We were talking about whether oil was peaking, and discussing that many refused to consider the overwhelming data that this is the case, and that blind faith in technology to ride to the rescue in the short time spans involved was unrealistic.

This is a very different argument to looking 40 years ahead and finding that progress in a variety of technologies such as solar energy, batteries and nuclear power should enable us to run a similar life style to the present, as the trends in technologies in those areas are strong and well established.

Of course it is also possible to make a powerful case that disruption caused by peak oil and the consequent financial turmoil will prevent such an outcome.

Personally I am agnostic about long range consequences and see merely a variety of possibilities- without very firm data such as that oil is going to run low shortly I have not got a crystal ball, and I doubt that you would be any more successful in predicting the future.

It therefore seems to me to be legitimate for you to characterise a failure to recognise p3eak oil and subsequent problems as a failure to face reality, but entirely illegitimate to seek to characterise arguments like Stuart's in the same fashion, as they deal with a long term response to the issues and in no way constitute a denial that such an issue will occur.

entirely illegitimate to seek to characterise arguments like Stuart's [as a failure to face reality], as they deal with a long term response to the issues and in no way constitute a denial that such an issue will occur.

I specifically cited two arguments: one for 50 billion cars by 2050 and the other for using farmland for biofuels. I believe that these are cornucopian and unrealistic and therefore represent a failure to face reality.

This is a very different argument to looking 40 years ahead and finding that progress in a variety of technologies such as solar energy, batteries and nuclear power should enable us to run a similar life style to the present

huh? I said nothing about progress in a variety of technologies such as solar energy, batteries and nuclear power. In fact, I sure hope there is some progress because if not, a trip back to Stone Age it will be. Please don't put words in my mouth.

I believe the figure in question is 4 billion cars in 2050, not 50! ;-)

You are assuming that it is not possible over the period until 2050 to build an infrastructure to support personal transport on this level without oil.

You may be correct, but you may not be, and the uncertainty is on a different level to those who would say that we are not going to have peak oil for ages.

This is a different assessment, not a failure to face reality.

There really is a weird "cult of positivity" in the US, it's been written about a few times but not enough.

Because, If you fall out of Positivity, You may fall INTO Bitterness. And ask yourself why am I bitter, Just because I lost my house, and Wall Street Bankers made Million Dollar bonuses off me and my ilk.....

Joe Bageant has a new one that touches on that. The article is on his observations about the media's response to Obama's "Bitter" comment. But it's another angle really on the "Positivity" meme.

He gets to the root of the media/PTB's fear. Awakening of the Class struggle thingy. I love his prose though.

Love this phrase;

...Let's get to the nub of this thing here: Obama, Hillary and McCain are farting through silk while playing out their roles in our theatrical state's false drama called presidential elections,

Media Shit Storms and Heartland Reality

In any case, Obama has proven you cannot even use the innocuous word bitterness in conjunction with the national lie of white American culture. In the officially sanctioned media lexicon, Blacks can be angry, disillusioned and even bitter enough to burn down Watts. But the white race, being blessed by a Christian god and divine providence, never harbor bitterness in their hearts.

The reason the word bitterness has caused such horror is because what is really going on out there is the sprouting seeds of class animosity. And no candidate or pontificating media mugwump dares touch that one because they are in the class that benefits from our classist society.


But it's the same here (I live in Japan). Noone wants to discuss peak oil. I am called "gloomy" if I bring it up. I have a sense that people don't know what to say, to think, to do, so there is a kind of shutting down of the mental processes.

I have family members in the US and it's the same thing. People I know closesly have PhDs, actually, they are even more in denial than anyone else.....

But examining this from a historical basis (the upside of the curve): who wants to give oil credit for all the "modern" advances and economic growth. Simple vast energy reserves should get all the credit??No way! "It was all our hard work" "Due to the sacrifices we made!" "Our great system and our great country!" etc.etc.

And as things get more difficult it's far more likely that most people will blame the wrath of an angry god for their economic problems, rather than peak oil. In the analogy of the passengers on the Titanic, the ones drowning in the cold water will not fully understand what happened to them or why or how, or that they even WERE PASSENGERS ON THE TITANIC in the first place.. Most people will never know or understand the term "peak oil". Even after they give up driving their cars many people will continue to believe in the existence of vast oil reserves that some nefarious government is keeping hidden from them. Rumors will spread (are already spreading) about such things. Vague blame will be on foreign governments, and/or else people will focus all their energies (when they have no choice in the matter) on local problems which they can do something about (zoning, animal husbandry, etc.)

But I want to thank all the people I've read here because I think the posts have by and large been quite enlightening and helpful. Please continue to keep non-petroleum types like me informed about the developments in energy situation. I am very grateful!

Nice post. I would add resource depletion (and over population) in general to your PO sentiments. Most people just don't seem to want to talk or think about it...

Pi, Great to get posts from other parts of the World. Interesting to note that reactions to the subject are similar there in Japan. What I find so amazing is how few people are versed on the subject. My wife belongs to a women's group that meets once every two weeks - she's heard all the talking points from me, so she brought the subject up and all the others rejected the idea of Peak oil as pure fantasy - that there are several hundred years of oil available - forget it, let's talk about something else. So I think you're right that people will find something else to blame when problems really hit hard, rather than a simple lack of enough oil.

I'm in Korea. I've had idle thoughts of suggesting a Korean Oil Drum... maybe Korea/Japan? Both are in the same boat in terms of lack of resources and dependency. They are both in line to be decimated by PO.


In this 10/07 article, Saif Lalani warned rapid increases in oil prices, possibly $1,000 oil within 10 years:


What I find interesting is that the rate of increase in oil prices is accelerating. It was about 50%/year, since 10/1/07, but based on current oil prices it is closer to 60%/year.

As I have previously noted, in addition to dollar considerations, one would expect to see accelerating price increases as forced energy conservation moves up the income ladder, in response to an accelerating decline in net oil exports, because energy costs as a percentage of income tend to fall, as we look at higher income groups. Thus, in order to balance supply and demand, we need an accelerating rate of increase in oil prices.

Given that the oil price increase so far has happened in the context of production just leveling off, it's likely that the first year that shows a 5% drop could cause prices to really go berserk. We're about 10x the nominal price in 1998, and 1972 to 1982 showed a similar rise. Also, the first really convincing year of falling production in the face of rising prices will solidify producers' conviction that they are sitting on the best appreciating asset in the world--so why would they be in a hurry to sell it? Everything seems to point in the same direction: some day soon we will see a jaw-dropping price spike.

Agreed. I've been calling it "the moon shot".

I don't have a source for this, but I recall reading that during the Enron fiasco a natural gas shortfall of something like 2% caused prices to triple. We're seeing something of the same thing happen with rice (see headline articles). However, there are substitutes for rice.

This scares the $#!+ out of me. But the more research I bring in the more likely your 'moonshot' looks. If you think about Tar Sands and biofuels representing about 2 to 2.5 million barrels per day of liquids and you imagine the noose of natural gas depletion and food prices tightening around those fuel sources, then it doesn't seem too difficult to imagine these energy sources being snuffed out in relatively short order. Add that to the decline in world exports and what seems to be a very real peak in old, high energy content, oil and the peak starts to look like a cliff in more ways than one.

I have four close friends whom I've been trying to convince that this is the case. One is a financial analyst, the second an investment funds manager, the third a civil engineer (profiting from Walmart construction no less), and a graphic artist. Out of all these, the graphic artist has been the most receptive. The rest just think I'm nuts.

The quote about difficulty accepting reality being proportionate with its impact on your salary seems very cogent to me when I think about my friends.

...learning to grow potatoes in old tires...


My in-laws (Korean) think we can get through whatever comes (but they still don't buy PO or economic collapse/depression is coming) with "hard work."

Frick's sake...


The world will end not with a bang but a whimper.

Reminds me of the situation on US torture policy. With each advancing admission, memo, and policy statement, the situation becomes more outrageous, but we seem to care less and less about it.

Perhaps in a few years homeowners will be putting neighbor kids on pikes on their front lawns to discourage other tykes from cutting across their lawns.

And when there is coverage of oil prices etc. it often seems to be designed to soothe readers, to put a simple and positive spin on a complex and often troubling situation. The Reuters article about China linked in today's Drum Beat (China delivers as non-OPEC output disappoints) is a good example of this. That Russia has quite possibly peaked (!) now calls for a story about China's recent small increase in production. And the truly meaningful trend in China, that of surging net imports, is barely mentioned, and certainly not in any way to affect the tone of the piece. The real story in China is best shown in charts like this:


That doesn't exactly help soothe readers though, who may be having trouble enjoying their breakfast cereal, what with that "Russia story" in the news and all.

The U.S. News and World Report item on utility conservation initiatives and their regulatory implications is timely. I just fired-off our company's proposal to a utility tender that is intended to help small businesses (i.e., those with power demands of 100 kW or less) upgrade their lighting systems. The utility will pay 80 per cent of the cost of these upgrades and the balance can be financed at 0% interest for five years, with repayment by way of their monthly bill; alternatively, if they prefer, they can pay the repayable portion upon completion of the work and obtain a 5% discount on the full cost of the retro-fit. The customer gets a brand new, state-of-the-art, high-efficiency lighting system with a full warranty, at no out-of-pocket expense, and since the electricity savings will exceed that of the repayable portion amortized over 60-months, their cash flow is net positive from day one. For the customer, it's a bit of a no-brainer.

The utility wins because it can potentially delay the building of new coal-fired generation at a time when the regulatory environment and financing of these plants is in a state of flux; although the provincial PUC hasn't make its final determination, it's expected the utility will be permitted to recover the fuel-related portion of its lost revenue. Rate payers as a whole should likewise benefit because the incremental cost of DSM investments should be less than the construction and financing costs of conventional coal-fired generation. And, of course, we all benefit from the reduced use of fossil fuels.

There are some 4,000 qualified customers within the two initially targeted areas of this two-year pilot project; if the programme is deemed successful at the end of these two years, it will be rolled-out across the entire province. Needless to say, if we are the winning bidder, we will be rather busy lads indeed (awfully hard to type when your fingers are crossed).

Best hopes for smart utility investments (and perhaps a small piece of the pie).


Edit: If anyone wants to examine the RFP, see: http://www.nspower.ca/documents/SmallBusinessLightingProgramRFP.pdf Further details on NSP's DSM initiatives are available at: http://www.nspower.ca/about_nspi/rates_regs/regulatory_initiatives/DSM/D...

Schemes like this are encouraging, it shows somehow bits of the market are starting to find new ways of doing things. I hope as PHEV/BEV technology is progressed, the batteries will be owned by the utility and leased in exchange for having more control over demand. I assume a similar thing will happen with PV and solar thermal.

How long before companies start hiring busses to bring employees in?
If as an employer you can offer transport and one or two good meals a day, that would make you very attractive.

If you have 50 employess spending £5k each a year on transport and you can run a bus for £50k. That's a big saving. Could a group of local companies own and operate transport in the local area? I am hopeful will see a combination of the markets and opensource/voluntry contributions such as this site.

If the Daily Mail can get plastic bags banned, I am confident we can acheive anything.

I hope the US motor industry can move towards making 10-20 seater vehicles, they would only have to be slightly bigger than the vehicles they currently make. 4 in wheel motors, a small engine and battery / supercapacitor bank. Some clever folding seats and its a truck.

Producing bio-gas through digestion is a much better idea than ethanol. Multitude of feedstocks, multiple uses including transport, CHP, heat etc. Much lower emissions at point of use. Useful fertilizer from digestion. You can also mix the bio gas with natural gas.

Also you could use electrolysis as a dump load on the grid, and feed the hydrogen produced in with the biogas to increase its heating value.

I think the wankel engine has a role to play in distributed generation / hybrid cars. It can be made really small, has a good power to weight ratio and is really simple.

We get to live in exciting times

I'm very much encouraged by their recent embrace of DSM and renewable energy. I don't say this to be unkind, but NSP has never been what you would call a forward looking utility, but in the last couple of years there has been a remarkable transformation. They have some really bright minds on staff and new leadership at top seems to have energized the organization and taken it in new directions.

Having now put this proposal to bed, forgive me if I indulge in a little of this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jAmHmNwYPro


Too cool man, ...ya groovy.

Eric Clapton did a pretty good cover back in the early 80's as I recall, but the original is still my favourite. In case you missed it, this is a live version from Johnny Otis's television show: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TEeeGMpM_Nk


Chan Akya at Asia Times really goes off about trade policy and dollar depreciation as the driving forces behind the rice "shortage" and food inflation in general. His primary complaint about Western agricultural trade policies echo what Fair Trade campaigners have been saying for years.

An historical aside: Tarriff/trade policies were big contributors to causing and prolonging the Great Depression. Although today's specifics are somewhat different, their structural nature and unwillingness of OECD countries to compromise mirror events of the 1920s.

And yet, if things are really changing...if we're moving from globalization to the "economics of scarcity"...you can't really blame countries for wanting to hoard food for their people, or for protecting their own farms.

What we "should" have done in the 1920s may have little relevance to now. We can't just trust that a new Green Revolution will come along.

I'm a Fair Trade advocate, and protectionism is not a viable position in a world that must increse cooperation to solve the miriad problems now surfacing. I'm quite certain there will be no Green Revolution v.2.0. That isn't the point. The failed "development" policies of the IMF and World Bank and "free trade" policies promoted through the WTO are exactly the point and the greatest part of the problem where food is concerned. Very simply, protectionist policies lead to war; coopperative policies to solve problems lead to peace and an increase in the general welfare--both lessons are thousands of years old, yet greed and the drive for superiority has forced them to remain unlearned.

I'm not sure I go along with that. I think the protectionist policies of, say, Europe, may end up being their salvation. France protects their farmers. It makes food more expensive there, but if global trade is interrupted by the effects of peak oil, it will be a small price to pay.

I think Mexico will end up wishing they'd protected their farmers from free trade.

Protectionism leads to autarky, and no nation has sufficient resources to try that. You see, protection of one part of the economy leads to retaliation by other nations at a section of the economy dependent on imports from the nations being shut out by the protectionist policies. Trade is even more important in our age of overshoot than ever before. Peak Oil will not impact trade as many assume because the heavy oils, like Venezuela's Orinoco, can be used with minimal refining to fill freighters's fuel bunkers, and we all know there's quite a lot of that type of oil in the world. And as the climate changes and scarcity of I-NPK increases, Europe's ability to feed itself will quickly erode, and it will need to trade to survive.

I hope you're wrong, because I don't think trade on the level we do it now will survive peak oil.

I think there's going to be a lot more localization, simply because the global supply chain will become so unreliable.

Complexity has an energy cost, and I fear we won't be able to pay it in the post-carbon age.

Now I didn't claim we were going to maintain BAU. All I said was that trade will continue, and I promote relocalization. The history of trade, something I'm quite familiar with, was based on the principle later developed by Ricardo, Comparative Advantage, and involved bulk foodstuffs and exotic luxuries. And I expect the current trade regime to devolve again to foodstuffs and exotic luxuries, along with other bulk commodities. Ricardo's idea of Comparative Advantage assumed cooperation, not competition/protectionsim, and is the basis for the idea of Free Trade, which is greatly distorted today. George Lucas's Star Wars Trade Federation is modeled on current OECD/WTO behavior and past Imperialist policies. You read Greer's piece, which said the breakdown in trade relations had much to do with the downfall of England's standard of living.

Once upon a time, our present was the future, and the policies made then are 100% responsible for the debacle we find ourselves in now. We must craft a new set of policies that allow us to extricate ourselves from the abyss we're headed into without suffering too much damage. Protectionism is not one of those policies; it's a large part of the problem.

For non perishable goods, it is possible to greatly reduce energy transport costs by going slower. Also as you go slower, the savings from auxillary helpers, like traction kites goes up significantly. So I expect that reductions in trade will be a lot lower than most of TOD currently expect. Also note that the production downslope post peak should be fairly slow. As the price rises higher I don't think the Export Land Model will hold up, as producing economies will see big gains from cutting domestic consumption and selling the oil.

Non air transport, both for goods and people could be heavily affected. It is hard to reduce energy costs for airplanes. Slowing down, means you need larger wings to maintain lift, which means greater drag. So really dramatic energy savings per passenger mile don't seem possible. At least ground, and water travel doesn't suffer from that physics limitation.

Europe's ability to feed itself will quickly erode, and it will need to trade to survive.

It doesn't matter how much you "need" to trade. You must have something to trade, and people who have what you want must be willing to part with it, or you can "need" all you want and it won't get you anywhere.

Increasingly, both food and oil producing nations will cut back on their exports. Prices will skyrocket. The masses, even in Europe and the US, won't be able to afford to trade. What trade there is will be among the very wealthy, and it will be on a scale far smaller than today. I imagine it will be more like the age of sail, when small, light luxury cargoes dominated trade.

" I imagine it will be more like the age of sail, when small, light luxury cargoes dominated trade."

huh? what years were those?

Small, light, luxury cargoes like the earlier massive multi-million imported tons of guano and human bones by sailboat? Have you done the math of 3.5 million 'immigrants' per year into Britain?

Point taken. The point I was trying to make (badly) was this: when shipping is expensive, you generally only ship what you can't produce locally (slaves, sugar, spices, etc), and the cost of the shipped items is high, which puts it out of the reach of the masses.

This is very different than the free-trade paradigm we have today, where shipping in bulk is so cheap that relatively small differences in labor costs between countries can make it economical to trade more common items, like lead-painted Chinese toys. In an earlier age, such things would have been expensive novelties for the children of the wealthy. Today they are all you can find in the stores in the US.

But shipping is cheap. Much cheaper than land transport. The major trading empires were always based on water shipping [unsubstantiated statement]. See the comment above about shipping guano and bones by sailing ship. Anything imperishable and accessible to a port will be traded.

The major trading empires were always based on water shipping [unsubstantiated statement].

Partially correct; there were also land based trade empires--think China. Trade has existed as long as humanity; it's quite natural--see comparative advantage. More to the point is Shargash's point about having items to trade. Well, even Mad Max had Barter Town energized by pigpoop. Currently, most people trade their labor (although, it's more fashionable to use the term sell) for the medium of exchange needed to purchase wants. Peoples deemed poor, Australian Aborigines for example, had very extensive trade networks. Some cultures literally grew their currencies and traded with other cultures thousands of miles distant without having any knowledge of metals. One of the main problems I have with doomers is their penchant for discounting the ingenuity of humans to solve problems and adapt to circumstances, and the very long pre-industrial history of especially non-European cultures. I would assume most posting here have never been to a Swap Meet because they are seen as beneath them. These are big trading events very popular with the poor and lower-middle classes, many of which have morphed into or combined with Farmers Markets.

One lesson of this thread is we have a long way to go to replace me, me, me, with us, us, us.

The Chinese put enormous effort, and spent countless lives, building their canals to link the great river systems.
During the reign of Kublai Khan they were able to put together a fleet for the invasion of Japan in two years, largely by commandeering vessels from their inland waterways, which promptly sank in a typhoon.

Although high value items were indeed carried by camel train, for instance on the silk road, until the advent of the railways it was always vastly cheaper to transport goods by water, and this is making a come-back in Europe.

Gee, thanks for letting us all know what a swap meet is - let me move my wine and cheese so I can write that down.

The reason many of us are doomers is not that we don't think humans are ingenuitive, rather that there are several times more humans than the planet can support. Desperate people will indeed use all of the ingenuity they can muster to survive as best they can, and it will no doubt result many interesting ideas. But in the Western industrial empire, far too many possess only specialized, abstract skills that will leave them nothing of value to trade.

Read Greer's recent column: ( http://www.energybulletin.net/42822.html ). People did not need fossil fuels to build complex trading systems in the past, nor to have them collapse, but the use of that energy has allowed us to exceed anything that has been done before. The decline of those supplies will require a much bigger correction too.

The problem is indeed us, us, us - way too many of us, and not enough resources to keep all of us alive, let alone happily trading.

If you read the whole thread, you'd have seen where I already referenced Greer's paper to Leanan. Didn't I also reference overshoot somewhere today (oh damn, right, different thread), which includes the intractible problem of overpopulation? I disagree, the problem is with the selfish me, me, me, whereas the problem can be solved to a degree by us working together. I have never said the future will be easy, or that any sembelance of BAU will survive. Indeed, if you've paid attention, I've often said we need a new paradigm and that the movement to it will be very painful.

Then we agree to a fair extent, except for this:

whereas the problem can be solved to a degree by us working together.

I do not think there is anything like a "solution", at least not one that most would consider a catastrophe. And I do not really see any signs of people working together. I think this can happen on a local/regional level, but only after allegiance to larger political groups are done - and this is something that is probably generations away and will be resisted by those whose power derives from the existing social organization. In the meantime there will be conflict, not cooperation. So sure, people need to focus on community, but the larger problems still remain.

As I said on another thread, we can plummet or parachute to the bottom of the abyss. I will add that the difference between the two outcomes is how people react to the problem: The conflict route leads to plummeting; the cooperative route leads to parachuting. Both are narrowed restatements of Heinberg's scenarios. As a historian, I see climate change as the greatest threat to humanity; the Peak Oil crisis has the potential to do great damage, but won't kill off humanity unless nuclear war erupts as a result. Both require paradigm change that will be resisted mightily by the rich elites who profit from the current paradigm and think themselves insulated from the Peak Oil and Climate Change crises. Put another way, the coming paradigm change might involve a class war for the reason given above. If so, it will likely make the Russian and Chinese Civil Wars combined seem small by comparison, and will likely be fought in North America because the Unites States is the most vulnerable country in terms of its socio-economic fabric unravelling as a result of Peak Oil.

Yoda would say the future is dark and very far from certain as there are too many variables. But the trends are fairly clear: Cooperate, and we can have life; compete, and we can have death.

Note to self: must re-watch Mad Max series; it suddenly seems to be scarily relevant.

I referred to Beyond Thunderdome.

Sounds like you're thinking of Kunstler's Stephen Bullock.

The Real cost of inflation, from the Daily Mail (GB) link

“food costs rise 15% a year” .. etc.

Most on the ground, or more alarmingly, behind the screen in Gvmt. jobs, know the official statistics are cooked, both through scuzzy definitions, and calculations that are odd to say the least: the CPI (US) link is a joke; the birth/death stats constructed by the US Dpt. of Labor Stats, link combines obfuscation with cheats in a woo-woo la-la model; the unemployment stats. are massaged and spun, it must be about 10% or more in the US, within the usual, current, defs., and they are not terribly relevant. All depends on how one defines, but also what is desired, how to organize society, etc. which can’t be numbered.

Yet ppl accept, don’t contest, the official nos. (Except on some blogs, or in a disguised way in academic papers that nobody reads..) As they accepted that in Iraq the green-clawed dictator Saddam had WMD, that Iran is a threat, that the economy will pick up, that low interest rates are good, that bio-fuels are salvation, and so on and on and on.

Ppl don’t have the information and tools to judge, and even if they did, they might not (?) act. So articles like that the Daily Mail serve the MSM, they show clean hands, with some hype about the numbers, flashing a balanced pov, or supposed alternative pov, and then, nothing - ppl either ignore it, or shrug their shoulders, it is garbled confusion without any context, no real info. is offered, and they are *powerless* in any case. Note that this type of hype is usually about a derivative - houses, jobs, salaries, divorce, bad veggies, trans fats, inefficient rail, carbon credits, math education, etc. - and not about the core.

Simmons on CNBC about blue collar jobs, no gloom and doom, just new jobs


Matt is the man. Except this time he is losing it IMHO. Looking past the 27 barrel a year US curse. (60% of that as imports) Like Alan was saying you need to produce and export something to support those wages. Americans trading Pepsi for potato chips with each other isn't gonna get it as the capital outflows to the producers.

Their appears to be something unusual going on with interest rates. It looks like the fed has lost control of the process.

For 6 days they have been unable (or unwilling) to control interest rate levels.

Possibly something to do with the recent talks with europe.

"Mr Juncker, who doubles as Luxembourg premier and chair of eurozone financiers, told the Luxembourg press that he had been invited to the White House last week just before the G7 at the urgent request of President George Bush. The two leaders discussed the dangers of rising "protectionism" in Europe. Mr Juncker warned that matters could get out of hand unless America took steps to halt the slide in the dollar."

This combined with things happening in the bond market

Seems to have kicked many commodities in the teeth this morning. (including oil)

We may be looking at unchanged interest rates for the next fed meeting, or possible even having the rate RISE.

Jim Hamilton has a surprisingly sarcastic (for him) commentary on his Econbrowser blog.

Nice! I agree with his assessment 100%.

I guess its time to place your bets and see what kind of rabbit Ben can pull out of his hat.

TOD is a great blog because it is dedicated to the science of Peak Oil. Yet so many people, even here, try to explain away the rise of commodities using conventional economic theories and claim that it is the weak dollar and low interest rates in the US which is causing the commodity price explosion. Economists seem to believe the available supply of fossil fuels is constant relative to demand and the only factor that changes the price of any commodity is the fluctuating value of the dollar. The act of raising interest rates by the Federal Reserve will NOT create more oil in the ground.

The act of raising interest rates by the Federal Reserve will NOT create more oil in the ground.

Oh ye of little faith. Who are you to belittle the gods of economics? May they smite you down!

"The act of raising interest rates by the Federal Reserve will NOT create more oil in the ground."

Very true--Recall that the act of raising freshly plucked, still beating hearts towards the Sun did not help the high priests of olden days either.

raising interest rates could quell the demand for oil like it did in the early 1980's.

Yup-China is just a rice bowl economy totally controlled by Ben Bernanke. We are still in the wonderful 80s (your THRILLER album is playing in the background).

"The act of raising interest rates by the Federal Reserve will NOT create more oil in the ground."

Never said it would.

However, other factors can influence price and availability.

et so many people, even here, try to explain away the rise of commodities using conventional economic theories and claim that it is the weak dollar and low interest rates in the US which is causing the commodity price explosion.

we're in a commodities bull market because of the growth of asia, the dollar and the fact that we were in a bear market for so long.. economics does explain it, maybe not the mainstream clueless economists. the market is showing that supplies of oil are scarce and hence the price is at an all-time inflation adjusted high.

I find his arguments unconvincing. The timeframe of his commodities charts are too short. Most of the run-up in oil was before, and again after, the timeframe covered by his chart. He makes much of the recent new peak, but that exceeded the previous peak by a statistically insignificant amount. On the other hand, demand has increased since the previous peak by a very significant amount. Based purely on supply and demand, one would expect prices to be higher at the new peak than the old. And so they are.

Concerning demand, he makes the common mistake of assuming that the US is synonymous the world. There is conflicting evidence about whether demand in the US is down in the past few months or not. However, the evidence for the rest of the world is not conflicting. Global demand is unambiguously up.

As for his contention that you must have a common explaination as why all commodities are rising, there are at least two, other than what he offers. First is rising energy prices. Everything requires energy to produce. This is where the extremely short timeframe of his charts is a problem. In the 10 years prior to his charts, oil prices increased something like tenfold. It would be surprising if everything else didn't rise dramatically. The second possible explanation is population overshoot. It would be surprising if population overshoot wouldn't cause the price of nearly everything to go up.

Before he can attribute rises it to "storable" commodities, he would have to establish that the commodities were being stored rather than consumed. If you consume a commodity, that is commonly called "demand." Yes, it was spurred by too-low interest rates in the world's two largest economies. Yes, raising interest rates will reduce demand. However, that does not mean it is not supply & demand that are responsible for rising prices. Contrariwise, it means precisely that supply & demand are responsible for high oil (and other commodity) prices.

And I find his conclusions at the end to be nearly nonsensical. If commodity prices are being spurred by interest rates that are below the real rate of inflation, why would holding rates steady cause them to collapse in price? Interest rates are still below the rate of inflation. Even assuming his hypothesis is correct, one would think that to make prices go down, you would have to raise rates above the rate of inflation.

It seems his explanation just boils down to "speculation." People are speculating commodity prices upwards, because they're speculating the Fed will cut rates. If the Fed doesn't, the speculators will bail on commodities, and we'll have a crash. If that's what he means, it's just silly.

Doesn't he read the news? Bangladesh failed to be able to buy rice at all this week. China just agreed to pay 3x as much as a year ago for potash from Canada. While it is easy for me to understand how that could cause the price of food to increase, it is hard for me to understand what that has to do with a 1/4 point move, or lack thereof, by the US Federal Reserve.

The Wall Street Journal had an article this week questioniing whether banks were honestly reporting the LIBOR rates they are charging and being charged. The implication being that there is not currently good objective measures of interbank lending rates and that banks may have an incentive to underreport actual LIBOR rates.

If we, the great unwashed, knew how little faith banks had in each others ability to repay even short term loans made amongst themselves we would panic/ stampede / become generally unruly.

I apologize for not having the link.

wow, have you been following those bastards closely? their M.O. is more likely a cut, with a few dissenting votes and a thick pure B.S. statement designed to appease stock and bond maniacs. look at how well the last cut went! they panicked and facilitated the bailout of bear sterns, cut rates by .75% but had 2 members dissent, calling for only .5% and commodities tanked! these guys must be sweating bullets that their bailing of an effectively insolvent financial ship not be swamped by their self-created inflationary tide.

Happiest Americans are the oldest

Newsflash for rock stars and teenagers: It turns out everything doesn't go downhill as we age — the golden years really are golden.

That's according to eye-opening research that found the happiest Americans are the oldest, and older adults are more socially active than the stereotype of the lonely senior suggests.

This meshes with another study that came out a few months ago, that found that world-wide, middle age is the least happy time of life. I forget what the exact ages were; something like 41-44. That's when people are most unhappy. Perhaps because that's when they forced to reconcile youthful aspirations with their real life achievements.

But there's a possible fly in the ointment.

It's all good news for the aging population. However, Yang's study also found that baby boomers were the least happy. They could end up living the unfortunate old-age stereotype if they can't let go of their achievement-driven mind-set, said George, the Duke aging expert.

So far, baby boomers aren't lowering their aspirations at the same rate earlier generations did. "They still seem to believe that they should have it all," George said. "They're still thinking about having a retirement that's going to let them do everything they haven't done yet."

"They're still thinking about having a retirement that's going to let them do everything they haven't done yet."

Chopping wood - check

Planting and tending a garden - check

Feeding the chickens and shoveling out their poop on to the compost pile - check

Cooking their own food - check

Putting up surplus produce for the winter - check

Walking downtown to the store - check

Yep, there are a lot of things they haven't done yet that they (we) will be able to do in their "retirement years".

China: Nominal GDP was up 22.3%, nominal domestic demand 25.4%

Chinese Q1 real GDP gain was 16%-17%, not 10.60%.


Hello TODers,

My thxs to Leanan for including toplinks on I-NPK--I believe things will be getting worse.

Recall my earlier posts on sulphur, and how it is a lifeblood for I-NPK and many industrial processes:

From waste byproduct to billion-dollar commodity
Oil and gas companies hoping to cash in on astronomic price increases

In March 2007, a tonne of pure sulphur shipped from North Vancouver or Port Moody would have cost you less than $50 US.

This month, it's about $650 for the same volume -- a 13-fold increase in just 13 months -- and one chemical market analyst who spoke this week with The Sun is suggesting that another major spike is on the way.

That means sulphur, one of biggest Canadian exports by volume each year through the Vancouver port, is moving neck and neck with potash as the star performer among Canadian commodities.

Both potash and sulphur are chasing the same market -- they're principally used in the making of fertilizer, which is emerging as a cash cow for manufacturers in a global scramble to produce enough food for a bigger, hungrier world.
IMO, the Elements of Sulphur, Potassium, and Phosphorus will be increasingly strategic as we go postPeak. Nitrogen will increasingly become sourced from crop rotation as Haber-Bosch natgas-N depletes, but this will have dire effects on harvest yields unless O-NPK recycling is dramatically ramped. My feeble two cents.

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

If one considers the FF/NPK delay latencies I have written about in prior postings:

If the earlier prices of $50/ton of sulphur and $350/ton of FFs [7 barrels @$50] = $1,000/ton of I-NPK currently...

....does that mean eventually that at the present price of $650/ton of sulphur and $805/ton of FFs [7 barrels @$115] = $13,000/ton of I-NPK?

That could bring us back pretty close to the inflation-adjusted price of $14,500/ton that occurred in 1914.

As usual, I am not an expert, therefore I welcome any elaboration or refutation.

EDIT: Have you hugged your bag of NPK today?

Here's how to make a bag of NPK last a home gardener for years.

1. make a compost heap
2. add dog turds from the lawn
3. pee on it when neighbours aren't looking
4. trowel compost into old pillowcase
5. add 1 tsp NPK
6. immerse pillowcase in garbage can of water
7. repeat fill watering can with 'tea'.

I just watched WTI hit $116.78. I do not know much about oil price futures other than the rudimentary. Say most of this is speculation in the futures market and in the last week of the month all of the froth gets sold off and the price goes back down to 100.20 and closes for the month. Did that high of $116-$120 in the middle of the month really matter? Any insight on this would be great.

Second question. Does anyone have a guess what gas prices need to crest at to spark mass buying from the public? Is there a magic number that causes a drain and then shortages or is it the speed of the price rise and not the final price that spooks the public into filling up all at once. I know that once it starts it will feed off of its self and become a self fulfilling prophecy.

Just wondering because diesel here in Santa Fe went up to 4.30 and regular is 3.50 a gal. The price here went up 15 cents overnight and it seems like nothing has changed with driving habits.

How was the quote again? Buy financials, sell oil.

Today, financials are rising dito oil. And the US$ is surging.

Where is the respond from those super analysts on Wallstreet? Above ground factors, I guess.

Good night. I am invested in commodities and I hate financials like most people do.

I just went to bloomberg and they have a piece called http://bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=apqOEO5nOM_Q&refer=home "Oil Rises to Record on Signs Stronger Economy May Boost Demand". This really is the silly season!

I just saw RBOB hit 2.988! 1.2 cents from 3 bucks wholesale! Hmm last thing I read about price difference between wholesale and retail was like 70-75 cents or something... much appreciation if someone can correct me on this =)

2.99 now.

The price here went up 15 cents overnight and it seems like nothing has changed with driving habits.

Why would it? They didn't confiscate our credit cards.

$4.55 US a gallon in Toronto currently and the roads are jammed.

Hi Brian,

According to Dave Wilson of Wilson Fuels, we can expect pay $1.30 or more per litre ($5.00+/gallon) in the coming weeks. Given that we're currently standing at $1.217 that doesn't seem to be too much of a stretch. Retail prices are regulated in Nova Scotia and are due to be reset this coming Thursday... I expect the digits will be rolling higher then.

Edit: Doh! I just checked a local web site and it appears regular unleaded is already selling at $1.31/litre ($4.93/gallon); it went up last night, so I was working with the previous week's price.


This is a question that interests me as well. One interesting thing that happened during the fuel blockades in the UK in the late 90s was that I know a couple of employers employing acquaintances sent out memos saying that being unable to buy petrol for a commute to work was not a valid reason for not turning up at work, and that if the employee had no viable public transport from where they lived they might want to consider staying with relatives/friends close to work if petrol looked to be becoming completely unobtainable. This was at a time when the economy in the UK was felt to be very strong (regardless of whether it actually was or not). My understanding was that these policies were more to discourage people trying to skive off work than genuinely aiming to sack non-attending workers.

Given that many firms may be looking at downsizing due to the economic climate and probably looking at ways to avoid severance pay, if petrol/gasoline gets bought out locally in some areas, whether people will end up being sacked. That'll galvanise more panic buying and everything will feedback.

>>The price here went up 15 cents overnight and it seems like nothing has changed with driving habits.<<

That my friend is the problem. Driving habits are going to have to change. To quote (approximately) a certain JJ Brown

Ask not for whom conservation comes, it comes for thee

At least I hope so. 0.3 billion residents of the United States are burning 44% of the world's gasoline (world pop >6 billion)

"U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said today that the government will continue to buy oil for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, even with prices over $100 a barrel. Bodman, who spoke to reporters after a speech in Virginia, said the U.S. needs a 90-day supply of oil in reserve and currently has 55 to 56."


What has changed to make 55-56 days supply so minimal at $100+/barrel, when it was no big deal last spring and summer when prices so much cheaper?

They plan to have the SPR filled by October. One might wonder why they wanted the SPR filled just prior to the general election.

Maybe the Commander in Thief has one more hand to play (hint: Bomb, Bomb, Bomb, Bomb-Bomb Iran...)

I had thought to reply to WT-"or maybe wonder about the price of times to come, or more sinister reasons." You seem to be thinking of the latter.

It occured to me the other day too. GWB and Darth can basically hedge and bide their time to see how well JohnnyMac is polling and adjust their 'strategy' accordingly. Fill the SPR and then sooner or later....

edit (or going full tinfoil) Commit the country to help the Nov. outcome out a bit.

Interesting since last week Pat Buchannon was predicting an October bombing. I guess great minds think alike.

we can guess but we will not know the day that the attack will come.
we will just wake up one day and on the news we will be seeing the chaos in iraq as our new bases there are surrounded. the media though will say this is a covert first strike by iran but in reality it's the retaliation by them due to us doing some sort of black op's first strike.

No, I would say they want it filled before the Oct. Crash.

I know the Yahoo Finance peak oil mention was touched on in Wednesday's drumbeat ... but I'm surprised it didn't get more people commenting. The words peak oil on the homepage of Yahoo Finance just would not have happened 2 years ago.

That's something, isn't it?

"Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to reform."
-- Mark Twain

We are not in the majority yet

Check out the new cover for the economist:

"Food:The silent tsunami"


From the article:

"the food crisis of 2008 will test the assertion of Amartya Sen, an Indian economist, that famines do not happen in democracies."

What??? I guess it takes an economist. But it reminds me of the old Soviet excuse for poor harvests after the revolution. "The soil is reactionary."

Hello BitteroldCoot,

I couldn't get the link to complete the download--guess their server is currently swamped. Anyhow, my favorite artwork:


If I had my way, every city and town would be required to have a huge billboard of this artwork, and the tsunami would have 'Peak Everything' written across it, and the lighthouse beam would read Dieoff.com. Notice how the next incoming waves are even higher than the first--expresses the multiplicative powers of cascading blowbacks very well, IMO.

For those wanting more info on this Unimak Island & Hilo,Hawaii tsunami [with before and after photos]:


They setup the Pacific Tsunami Warning System after this tragic event.

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

Couple of stories from Deutschland....

A Storehouse of Greenhouse Gases Is Opening in Siberia

Researchers have found alarming evidence that the frozen Arctic floor has started to thaw and release long-stored methane gas. The results could be a catastrophic warming of the earth, since methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. But can the methane also be used as fuel?

Concentration Camp Hit by Scrap Metal Thieves

Scrap metal thieves are becoming increasingly audacious, with some even stealing from cemeteries and memorials. Now some 1,000 bronze plaques have gone missing from the former concentration camp at Theresienstadt.

"Concentration Camp Hit by Scrap Metal Thieves"

Stealing from a concentration camp? Is nothing sacred?

[tongue in cheek, with irony and a little bit of cognitive dissonance and other feelings I don't have words for].

Chaos. As in Theory. I.e., non-linear events.

That is, we are on the verge of being seriously %$^&*#. This stuff goes up in the atmosphere in anything like a human scale and Kunstler's vision will be a wished-for respite from reality.


Hello TODers,

Are events starting to force a turn towards pedal-powered O-NPK recycling? How soon before people wake up to the need for SpiderWebRiding everywhere to facilitate the bidirectional movement of goods to/from the rural areas to the urban RRs & TODevelopments?


[My cut & paste of the text below to increase readability]
Rickshaw-maker’s fortunes take positive turn

Five years ago, he had been earning Rs 2,000 a month and was suddenly shattered as the demand for cycle-rickshaws began coming down, with more and more people preferring autorickshaws.

Today, he supplies cycle-rickshaws to municipalities for collection of garbage.

Today, Ahmed is not only leading a comfortable life but is also very enthusiastic about assembling cycle-rickshaws for the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation.
My interpretation of this link is that a cycle-rickshaw is human pedaled, and the auto-rickshaw is the ICE three-wheeled ride that is a common sight in many Third World places.

Link to a photo of an ICE auto-rickshaw in India:


Recall that five years ago fuel was very cheap. My bet is that Ahmed will soon be swamped with orders for lots of pedal-rickshaws. Hopefully, his Govt. leadership will help him make the transition to making pedal-railbikes, wheelbarrows, and bicycles, too.

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

I saw these guys today and snapped this shot - I instantly thought of you.

Hello SCT,

I think these photos show a more fun, safe, and efficient way to move resources and/or people postPeak:


Don't forget: a 100,000 postPeak miles on a bicycle means a lot of very expensive rubber. With proper care of the bearings--you could still be riding on your original set of railwheels.

Don't forget my earlier post on moving fragile, fresh eggs to market. Wouldn't it be easier on a railbike vs trying to pedal a bicycle through mud, snow, thorns, potholes, overflowing sewage?

If an elderly or handicapped person needs to be mobile, I think they would be safer on a railbike vs a horse, too. Paraplegic athletes can already cover impressive distances with their arms alone--they might be even better on a custom, arm-pedaling railbike.

I really hope the sharp engineers and scientists here on TOD are further researching this SpiderWebRiding topic. I picture a semi-enclosed, aero-streamlined, carbon & titanium, hi-tech railbike for 10 pedalers, or more, almost effortlessly cruising along at 25 mph for several hours. I wish I was an expert at human biometrics!

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

Stick on a couple of square meters of PV and a small electric motor and you would really be going. Maybe electrify the uphill sections with the use of nearby wind power.

Good points, and when our bridges start falling apart--railbikes can still be safely used--try this on a normal bicycle,LOL!


Re: All the anti ethanol rhetoric up top:

Being a ethanol apologist, I must be the devil incarnate if it is all to be believed. Fortunately, being an atheist, I do not believe in gods and devils. I am also use to being in the very small minority. Even the only one. That is what is fun about posting pro ethanol at TOD.

I could go to some religious site, but what's the point? They will believe what they want. And I don't really care that much about religion. But Peak Oil and ethanol are real and concrete.

The fundamental problem with food prices is that they were subsidized by very cheap oil for decades. Food, especially things like meat, milk and eggs, was also subsidized through government grain subsidies that enabled some farmers to stay on the land.

But it decimated the farm country here in north Iowa for example. When I went to high school in the late fifties there were 4 farms on the section of land where I lived. And that section "supported" 26 people. Today the land is still there but our home building site is the only one left. My mother and sister live there. The same is generally true all through Iowa. The population of Iowa is one of the slowest growing in the country and in rural Iowa many counties including my own have actually lost population over the last 50 years.

Now comes Peak Oil and the need for more liquid fuel for transportation. And farmers are being told that although thier grain is more important than fuel, it should sell for less than it's energy value. If not, the poor of the world will starve and it will be the farmers fault because he tried to get what grain is worth when compared to oil.

No one, anti ethanol critics, the poor who breed like rabbits with no regard for food supply, foreign governments who subsidize food so the poor can live in cities, our own government which in the past has given grain away thereby destroying markets and incentives in poor countries is at fault. It is ethanol that causes starvation. And it must be stopped or at least not subsidized even though oil receives huge subsidies especially in the form of wars for oil security.

It will be interesting to watch as the supposedly huge subsidies given to ethanol are withdrawn. I predict farmers will continue to make sure the ethanol plants run because many of them own shares. The much ballyhooed companies listed on Wall Street like Pacific Ethanol will probably fall by the wayside. They have no commitment to the land.

Where ethanol is popular like Iowa and some other states, E85 will become the norm. Those who object so much will have to pay for fossil fuel at what ever price it eventually goes too. I will not feel sorry for them. They made the choice to reject ethanol. Ethanol producing states will prosper even more than now because there is not the continual drain on their economies to pay for imported oil.

It may come as a shock to the anti ethanol crowd, but there is no incentive for those who have grain to give it to those who can not pay for it. If people who resent taxes going for ethanol subsidies want thier tax dollars used to buy grain to give to the starving of Africa, Asia and Haiti, go for it. Iowa farmers will not object. The money will end up in the same pocket, thier own.

But farmers will not give up on ethanol because it is the pressure point that insures a fairer deal.

They know others are only looking out for themselves and Iowa farmers have to look out for themselves too.

You seem to forget that ethanol has no net energy return. You are going to use as much oil producing it as you get from it. Without the subsidies it isn't worth the effort. But everybody need a hobby so why not?

It's a pity this isn't a multimedia site: if you could stick some violins in the background and maybe a video of a weeping farmer's child for greater effect.

So, rather than carry on trading emotional rhetoric, let's try for more concrete statements. I can't speak for other people against ethanol, but I'm against it because it is utilising (and may or may not -- depending who you listen to -- be depleting) soil resources to prop up ridiculous amounts of driving rather than building up a surplus of food in case of unfortunate events in the future, eg, climate change, etc. I'm also worried about global promotion of ethanol is encouraging land that isn't currently used for agriculture (eg, forest in indonesia, etc) to be pressed into use on a scale which may influence climate and may be farmed in a way that depletes nutrients in the poor quality land within a few years.

You clearly have a big grudge against decades of agricultural pricing, and I'd entirely agree that it food ought to be priced sustainably for farmers and farming land preservation. You seem to suggest that absolutely the only way farmers can assert reasonable prices is if ethanol is used extensively. If that's true and farmers can't be bothered to lobby governments, retail chains and consumers for farm price and subsidy increases on their own merits, then I'm really, really, really, REALLY hoping that the farmers you belong to have correctly analysed the sustainability of the process and we're not looking at vast dustbowls within a few years for the sake a couple of years of yet more driving around as usual.

Wasn't there an article on the oil drum that estimated the price were buying oil just was no longer possible?
Somewhere between 265 and 600 dollars?

I've been searching the archives and just can't seem to find it.

Are you thinking of this article?:

The Freezing Point of Industrial Society


I've got a great idea for TOD: Since the message boards can have hundreds of posts, which makes it very difficult to relocate your position once you've replied to a post in the middle of such a stretch, what about numbering each post. Could the open box that you type the post in have a number already assigned to it and then slot it in where it belongs once the post has been finished? In fact assign a letter to each article, then a poster could jot down the letter and number of their post, making it so much easier to locate later in the day. What is it they say in that beer ad?; Brilliant!

If you click "Reply in new window," you maintain your place in the thread.

Did anyone catch the latest MotorTrend's Friday online editorial?

Is The Earth Producing MORE Oil?


Yeah, you guessed it... trumpets both the bogus Brazilian "find" and abiotic oil...

I can only conclude that as the "addicts", as President Bush might analyze them, are starting to go into withdraw, or the fear of such.

Hello TODers,

Sizzling commodities market puts the heat on farmers

A hot market in crop futures fires up speculators, but farmers are steamed

"The average person out there thinks farmers are making a killing when the price of soybeans goes to $14 and corn goes to $6, but there's an inherent risk that nobody knows about," LaCour said. Some farmers, he said, have more capital tied up in margin calls than their crop is worth. "And that's kind of scary."

Jerry Slocum, a farmer and small buyer in Coldwater, Miss., said he's been forced to triple his line of credit to cover margins on the same volume of grain. "The volatility is simply to the point of being ridiculous," he said.
IMO, this is not a good sign: farmers should really not have to worry so much about capital, cash-flows, and crop marketing; we want them to concentrate on being the best farmers possible. Just some more postPeak reasons for my speculative farmer/NPK-investor matchup and/or Federal Reserve Banks of I-NPK?

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

Plight Of The Pollinators

Congress is mulling a bill that will boost industrialize crop production by cutting existing farm conservation programs. The legislation, experts fear, may speed to the demise of Calif. honeybees that have been mysteriously dying.