DrumBeat: May 2, 2008

Hunting for oil beneath the ice

There's a new rush for petroleum from Alaska to the North Pole. Can ConocoPhillips and other energy giants find another Saudi Arabia under the ice?

...The folks at Conoco surveyed this slice of barren land about a decade ago. But times are a bit desperate up here in North America's largest oil region, and they've come back. "We're looking to see if we left anything behind," says Jim Darnall, an acquisition geophysicist for ConocoPhillips, as he brushes ice off his bushy gray beard. "We're trying to milk this field anyway we can."

Is this what America's late-20th-century oil paradise has been reduced to - the petroleum equivalent of rooting for loose change in the cushions of a sofa? U.S. crude production is at its lowest since 1949, and nowhere has that decline been steeper than in Alaska, where oil output is less than half what it was a decade ago.

Fatih Birol interview: 'Leave oil before it leaves us'

Hunger for energy vs. energy shortage: While the demand for oil is on the rise, the production is decreasing - shortages, escalating prices and inflation are looming. When talking to energy politician Astrid Schneider, Fatih Birol, chief economist of the IEA demands a change in policy from the member countries. His motto: leave oil before it leaves us.

Asking the right questions about high gas prices

The notion of "peak oil" -- which holds that the world's production of oil is at it's all-time high this year, or within a few years -- has recently become credible in the business community. While most everybody will agree that petroleum is a depleting resource with a limited supply, the question many now wrestle with is: "How much more oil is there left in the ground?" Considerable debate wages about the real level of petroleum reserves, and how many more years it will last.

Unfortunately this discussion is a distraction from the practical questions that business managers should be asking. A much better question to ask would be: "How much longer will it be before our organization starts to suffer serious adverse impacts because the world supply of oil is dwindling?" When I make reference to serious adverse impacts, I am talking about, among other things, rapidly escalating costs associated with petroleum fuels, and fuel shortages occasioned by geo-political events such as resource wars and embargos.

Lawmaker to guv: What happens at the end of oil?

On Wednesday, the House passed a "peak oil" resolution 81 to 7 that calls for the Legislature and the guv to get ready for the day when we run out of gas. (The term refers to the idea that we've maxed out our global oil production, and we're on a slow decline from here on out.)

House File 995, sponsored by Rep. Bill Hilty, a DFLer from Finlayson, resolves that "the Legislature supports the undertaking of a statewide assessment study in order to inventory state activities and their corollary resource requirements, evaluating the impact in each area to a decline in petroleum availability and to higher prices, with the aim of developing a comprehensive state plan of action and response to Peak Oil."

The Day the Gas Dried Up

“You know what’s worse than a slow computer?” a professor in Texas once asked his class. “No computer.” He was telling the class about his son who was complaining that his processor wouldn’t go fast enough. Now many Americans are complaining that gasoline prices are too high as they crest the astronomical price of four dollars a gallon. They might spare a thought for the Scottish who would be grateful to pay $8.30 a gallon, if only they could get it. For rationing and actual dry gas stations have arrived in what was once an early engine of the Industrial Revolution and later a major oil exporter, while the government warns against the spectre of panic buying and hoarding.

Eyeing Hot Weather, Hurricanes, Gas Prices Could Test Records

U.S. natural gas prices could move closer toward record highs this summer if gas inventories don't grow substantially over the next several weeks.

As in past years, gas prices will take their cue this summer from the weather, particularly the length and intensity of heat in key consuming areas of the U.S. Midwest and East and whether one or more tropical storms or hurricanes do any damage in the energy producing U.S. Gulf of Mexico.

"A lot of people are looking at natural gas to take out the all-time high this summer or early fall," said Mario Chavez, a broker at UBS Securities in New York. The looming hurricane season, a recent loss of supply from the U.S. Gulf and a drop in LNG imports have been keeping gas prices near $11/MMBtu, he said, still well off a record high north of $15.

GOP's Bill Breaks with Bush on Oil Stockpiles

With voters clamoring about high gasoline prices, Senate Republicans unveiled energy legislation Thursday that echoes President Bush's call for more oil drilling but would interrupt the administration's efforts to fill the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

Senate Democrats, meanwhile, are expected to unveil their own energy legislation next week that would likewise halt deliveries to the nation's emergency oil stockpile, while also slapping the oil companies with a windfall profits tax.

U.S. Oil Addicts Deny Need To Change Energy Policy

The addicts have spoken. Not only do they want more oil and gas drilling, anywhere and all the time. They also want to continue huge tax breaks for oil companies that are rolling in dough. For decades they have supported giant oil industry tax breaks like the oil depletion allowance. Now they oppose even short-term tax credits for renewable energy and energy efficiency -- unless future generations pay for them by adding them to the federal deficit created by wasteful spending and tax breaks.

Like most addicts, they are fooling themselves, and trying to fool their friends and family.

Money woes could stop road work

SPRINGFIELD — Sen. Dave Syverson said today that local transportation projects, including bridge repairs at Interstate 39 near U.S. 20, could be in jeopardy because the Illinois Department of Transportation threatened “drastic actions” because of a money shortage.

Christine Reed, an IDOT official, wrote in an April 25 letter to the Illinois Asphalt Pavement Association that IDOT’s costs for “road salt, fuel, extra help, overtime, equipment wear and tear, and repairs” have far exceeded budgeted levels, thanks to a rough winter.

Surplus U.S. food supplies dry up

While the previous surpluses were costly and sharply criticized, much of the food found its way to the poor, here and abroad. Today, says USDA Undersecretary Mark Keenum, "Our cupboard is bare."

U.S. government food surpluses have evaporated because, with record high prices, farmers are selling their crops on the open market, not handing them over to the government through traditional price-support programs that make up for deficiencies in market price.


In the Roaring Twenties my grandfather, Diamond Ben, was a flashy guy. He had a taste for Cadillacs. He owned a tux and a diamond stickpin. He had a big house by the beach, and two garages on Broadway. He hung out with celebrities.

But my grandfather lost the house and the two garages and the flashy life in the early Thirties, and my mother's family was forced to move into a tenement apartment in the Bronx.

... He ended up in the basement of a bakery. Above, in the retail shop, when crumbs of bread and cake fell onto the floor, they were swept down into a hole. The hole had a funnel attached to it. My grandfather stood under it, catching and bagging the crumbs for resale. He was the crumbcatcher.

My mother, who couldn't go to college because she had to help to support the family, often talked about going to cafeterias during lunch to make catsup soup out of hot water and free condiments.

U.S. eyes shift away from corn ethanol

Worried about high food prices, Congress tries to push the biofuel industry to use nonfood crops.

China looks abroad amid global grain shortage: report

China is looking at farms in places like Russia and South America as it seeks new ways to feed the world's largest population amid a global grain supply shortage, state media said Tuesday.

Chavez shops to shorten Venezuela food lines

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez is on a shopping spree to combat sporadic food shortages that have dented his popularity, using record income from oil exports to offset the impact of global food prices.

Ticker tape still ain't spaghetti

There was a global food crisis in 1946. Then, as now, the U.N. convened a working group to deal with it. At its meeting, the head of the U.N. Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, former New York City Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, said, "Ticker tape ain't spaghetti." In other words, the stock market doesn't feed the hungry. His words are true today.

No easy access to fresh groceries in many parts of Seattle

It's easier to find fried chicken gizzards than a piece of fruit in the quickie marts lining the 3-mile Delridge Way corridor.

That's one of many Seattle neighborhoods that University of Washington researchers found have no access to a grocery store within a 30-minute bus ride. In wealthier single-family areas, such as west Ballard or along Lake Washington, walking to buy food often isn't easy.

That makes it hard to combat climate change and create a more livable city. For lower-income residents without a car, poor transit access to grocery stores can be an immediate barrier to healthful eating.

Economic and Other Implications of Switching from Coal to Natural Gas at the Capitol Power Plant and at Electricity-Generating Units Nationwide

Nearly all of the greenhouse gas emissions from House operations consist of carbon dioxide and are associated with electricity purchased from utilities and the combustion of fossil fuels in the Capitol Power Plant (CPP), which provides steam and chilled water for heating and cooling the Capitol building and 23 surrounding facilities. The Architect of the Capitol (AOC) operates CPP. In June 2007, the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) of the House of Representatives released the Green the Capitol initiative (the initiative) at the direction of the Speaker and the Majority Leader. Among other goals, the initiative calls for the House of Representatives to operate in a carbon-neutral manner by the end of the 110th Congress (December 2008).

Streams of blood, or streams of peace

Talk of thirsty armies marching to battle is surely overdone, but violence and drought can easily go together.

Critics: Myanmar biofuel drive uses forced labor

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) — An activist group on Thursday called a plan by Myanmar's military rulers to grow a biofuel crop "draconian," alleging that it was using forced labor and contributing to food shortages.

The fiercely critical report, released by activists linked to the exile-based opposition, says the biofuel policy hurts an already ailing agriculture industry.

Lawmakers being forced to give up gas-guzzling cars

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Elton Gallegly of Simi Valley likes his taxpayer-funded Ford Expedition. He isn't worried that it's not the most fuel-efficient car. It's reliable, suits his mountainous district and is cheaper to lease than many other vehicles.

"It's not a Cadillac. It's not a Lincoln. It's a Ford," the Republican congressman said with exasperation.

But like it or not, Gallegly and other lawmakers will have to give up gas-hungry SUVs and luxury sedans for leased vehicles that are more eco-correct, such as Toyota's Prius.

And some are in a high-octane fit about it.

Limitations of charcoal as an effective carbon sink

Fire-derived charcoal is thought to be an important carbon sink. However, a SLU paper in Science shows that charcoal promotes soil microbes and causes a large loss of soil carbon.

There has been greatly increasing attention given to the potential of ‘biochar’, or charcoal made from biological tissues (e.g., wood) to serve as a long term sink of carbon in the soil. This is because charcoal is carbon-rich and breaks down extremely slowly, persisting in soil for thousands of years. This has led to the suggestion being seriously considered by policy makers worldwide that biochar could be produced in large quantities and stored in soils. This would in turn increase ecosystem carbon sequestration, and thereby counteract human induced increases in carbon-based greenhouse gases and help combat global warming.

However, a new study by Professors David Wardle, Marie-Charlotte Nilsson and Olle Zackrisson at SLU, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, in Umeå, scheduled to appear in this Friday’s issue of the prestigious journal Science, suggests that these supposed benefits of biochar may be somewhat overstated.

A city on the edge

Looming peak oil and plunging housing affordability are especially troubling for a sprawling, car-reliant city such as Melbourne. The city's rail network stopped expanding with its suburbs long ago, leaving two-thirds of residents beyond its reach and creating a massive imbalance between inner and outer Melbourne.

Peak oil expert also makes presentation at BCC

FALL RIVER — In celebration of Earth Day, Richard Heinberg, a world renowned expert on peak oil and its impact on industrial society, delivered a public lecture last Tuesday afternoon to a near capacity crowd in the Jackson Arts Center at Bristol Community College. His talk, titled "Cheap Oil — Going, Going, GONE!," captivated the crowd of students, faculty and members of the public who were interested in learning more about the world's oil crisis and what it means for America and the world.

The future of energy

If you believe Richard Heinberg, then you think we're facing some very serious problems.

But if you believe Van Jones, then we have hope in the future.

If we act soon.

Pakistan - Alarming rise in loadshedding

LAHORE: The period of power load-shedding has been further increased to eight hours in the urban areas and more than 10 hours in the rural areas from 10 hours in the rural areas and six to seven hours in the urban areas.

This has not only aggravated the miseries of the masses in summer but also added to the problems facing industrial and agriculture sectors.

Namibia: Dangers of the 3rd Oil Crisis

The looming serious world-wide dangers of the creeping 3rd oil crisis - imminent global economic recession.

Viet Nam: Dealers struggle with high petrol prices

HA NOI — The price cap on petroleum may be a threat to the nation’s oil supplies. Fuel dealers are already suffering losses because high world oil prices. This makes it even harder to get extra capital to import more oil - or to even think about getting it.

Gas 'n' dashes growing as fuel prices skyrocket

Desperate times fuel desperate measures.

The grainy, unofficial mug shots covering the wall at a Pioneer gas station on Upper Gage are proof. Pictures of people who fill up and drive away without paying.

They're called "drive-offs," and staff at area stations say they are increasing along with gas prices.

The future of travel

So what does the next 30 years hold for our holiday? Futurologists agree on one thing: more travel. The World Tourism Organisation, International Air Passenger Association and anyone else worth their salt forecast that global, tourism will continue to thrive as the world’s largest industry. And like much of the world’s business, we must look east for the biggest growth. Hundreds of millions of Chinese, Indian and other nationals will be able to afford to travel like never before.

Rising prices spread fear at the pumps

You drive past the gas station in Orleans and the sign says your fill is going for $1.22 a litre. Blame it on Russia.

The world's largest oil producer reported that its output decreased for the first time in 10 years. It delivered one per cent less oil than a year ago.

What's disconcerting about this little-known fact, trumpeted recently on the front page of The Wall Street Journal but getting little play elsewhere, is that the scenario unfolding in Russia is being repeated the world over. Essentially, its Siberian oil fields are aging, becoming tired, the easy-to-reach oil declining.

It is not alone. The world's great oil deposits -- the North Sea, Mexico's Cantarell deposit and Alaska's Prudhoe Bay -- are seeing their production diminish despite astronomical demand.

So what of production from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries? Its output is flat, in part due to declining fields.

Exxon profit soars, but misses forecasts

Despite Exxon's investments in finding new oil, the company production declined. In addition to oil production falling, overall production including natural gas fell by 3 percent.

That drop will likely be noticed by proponents of the "peak oil" theory, who contend world oil production has peaked and will run out in fairly short order.

'Green' procurement goes into the black

It can be difficult to quantify in dollar terms what the impact has been, but Herman Miller is still forging ahead with its design for environment protocol, which emphasizes a Green design throughout the lifecycle of a product. The company's goal is to have 100% of its products comply with the company's policy of zero landfill and zero hazardous waste generation by 2020. Right now Charon estimates about 29% of the company's products hit that mark, with a goal of 50% compliance on the horizon by 2010.

A long-term perspective is key in keeping a Green program on track, says Charon, because Green procurement can keep a company ahead of the competition. “We're actively looking for advanced materials that are nonpetroleum based, because in the future if we're at peak oil and those resources go away, you need to know what other materials are out there to keep you in business so you can make products for customers,” he says.

Rob Hopkins: Eco Worrier

The era of cheap oil is over and our economic system is doomed, believes environmentalist Rob Hopkins. So is he gloomy? Not a bit of it. It’s such a tremendous opportunity.

New Zealand: Paving Way for Smart Ideas

As if the price of petrol hadn't soared enough lately, Clark & Co intend to amplify the agony by applying two extra levies -- to fund regional development and bio-fuel research. As the justification for these doesn't appear to be overburdened with intellectual rigour, it isn't surprising John Key doesn't agree.

Given that the high fuel prices are here to stay, traffic growth will slow -- building more roads is pointless.

Food troubles are here to stay

The government sends calming signals and says no dramatic shortages are expected. The Economist says do nothing, market forces will sort it all out. But as the global food-price crisis hit Israel this week, something told us we are not being told the whole story.

Around the world food prices are soaring. Since January 2006, the price of rice has risen by 217 percent. Wheat, corn and soybean prices have more than doubled, and in several countries, milk and meat prices have also doubled.

A Global Clarion Call to Bold Action;

Throughout the first phase of the history our species, we have operated with the assumption that there has never been enough to go around for everyone. Throughout all of recorded human history we have existed within a system based on scarcity. The perceived problem was: who gets what? Who survives and who dies? Every society has had a different system for deciding that unfair question. Survival has been decided through violence by tribal battles or global war during the entire Human Story! I demand a New Story.

We need to redefine the human problem; Rather than deciding how to cut up the scarcity pie, we need to bake a much bigger prosperity pie. To quote my brother, O.T., such a pie will be "LUSCIOUS!"

Russian April Oil Output Falls to Lowest in 18 Months

(Bloomberg) -- Russia, the world's second-largest oil supplier, produced the least amount of crude in 18 months in April as aging fields and rising costs threaten the country with the first annual decline in oil output in a decade.

Production dropped to 9.72 million barrels a day (39.8 million metric tons a month), 0.8 percent less than in April last year and only slightly higher than in October 2006, according to data released today by CDU TEK, the dispatch center for the Energy Ministry. Compared with March, output fell 0.4 percent.

Russia's output may have peaked as producers struggle with aging fields, rising costs and increasingly remote new deposits, Moscow-based OAO Lukoil and OAO TNK-BP, the country's two- biggest independent oil companies, said in April. The finance and energy ministries are working on tax-cut proposals by July to stimulate investment.

Up $10.9 Billion, Exxon Worries About New Tax

"Crude prices are at historic highs, and we recognize that they are having a significant impact on many in our society through higher gasoline prices and higher energy costs in other sectors," said Exxon's vice president for public affairs, Kenneth P. Cohen. He warned, however, that "high prices also have the potential to result in bad public policy, such as windfall profits tax, that will hurt consumers in the long run."

But Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), who has proposed such a tax on oil companies, issued a statement saying: "Once again, consumers' pain is Exxon's gain. Oil companies are racking up obscene profits left and right while American families are stretched to the limit by skyrocketing gas prices. It's high time for Big Oil to pay its fair share."

Brief fuel price protest at Shell UK refinery

LONDON, May 2 (Reuters) - About 50 people briefly blocked access to Royal Dutch Shell's 245,000 barrel per day Stanlow refinery in Wales on Thursday night in protest against high fuel prices, the company said.

Exxon Says Production Resumes in Nigeria After Strike

(Bloomberg) -- Exxon Mobil Corp. said its Nigerian oil unit started producing after the company and an oil workers union ended an eight day strike yesterday.

``We have started production,'' Gloria Essien-Danner, a spokeswoman for Exxon's Nigeria unit, said in a telephone interview today. Essien-Danner said the company would be issuing a statement with further details.

Nigeria orders closed-door trial for oil rebel

JOS, Nigeria (Reuters) - A court in Nigeria has ordered the politically-sensitive trial of Niger Delta rebel leader Henry Okah to take place behind closed doors, in a move expected to anger factions of the armed militant group.

British MPs urge suspending biofuel obigations for suppliers

LONDON, May 2 (Xinhua) -- British parliamentary members urged the government to suspend its biofuel obligations for oil suppliers, as Britain's overproducing biodiesel industry is facing, among others, challenges from the cheap and heavily-subsided U.S. biofuel, Financial Times reported on Friday.

Britain's biodiesel industry has already undergone a precipitous collapse, hit by cheap foreign imports including subsidized biodiesel from the U.S., and suffers from severe overcapacity.

Green tax revolt: Britons 'will not foot bill to save planet'

More than seven in 10 voters insist that they would not be willing to pay higher taxes in order to fund projects to combat climate change, according to a new poll.

The survey also reveals that most Britons believe "green" taxes on 4x4s, plastic bags and other consumer goods have been imposed to raise cash rather than change our behaviour, while two-thirds of Britons think the entire green agenda has been hijacked as a ploy to increase taxes.

Emir of Qatar Tours New Orleans to See Fruit of His $100 Million Donation

NEW ORLEANS — One of the world’s richest men toured one of America’s poorest cities on Tuesday, a whistle-stop visitor from a distant land come to see his good works in a place still needing a stranger’s kindness.

Bikes-for-employees test at Children's Hospital

The list of companies offering employees bicycles as a cleaner, cheaper way to get to work is about to grow.

Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center said Wednesday it plans to test such a program in mid-July. In exchange for a commitment to bike to work at least two days a week, employees will get one of four different types of bicycles, including electrically assisted models "for people who need help with the hills," said Paolo Nunes-Ueno, the hospital's transportation manager.

The Peak Oil Crisis: The Half-Life For Air Travel

In recent weeks, airlines around the world have been reporting substantial losses, declaring bankruptcy or completely shutting down. So far the losses have been mostly of small airlines, but many of the large ones have started to thrash around for merger partners. At $3.71 a gallon, jet fuel is now the single largest expense an airline faces.

In 2000, the airlines fuel bill was $14 billion. It is now pushing $60 billion and climbing. Southwest, the most profitable carrier, recently announced that this year’s fuel bill will be $500 million more than last year and equal to 2007 profits. During the first quarter of 2008 American airlines lost $328 million; Delta lost $274 million; United lost $537 million; Continental $80 million; Northwest $191 million; and US Airways $236 million. Only Southwest Airlines, which did a better job of hedging its fuel than the others, made a profit.

It is clear we are going to see major changes in air travel shortly.

Oil prices rally as Turkey bombs Kurds in Iraq

LONDON (AFP) - The price of oil climbed back above 113 dollars on Friday in reaction to news that Turkish planes bombed Kurdish rebel hideouts in oil-rich Iraq overnight, analysts said.

Lower oil production is the real story

Eleven billion dollars is not enough.

That, at first blush, seemed to explain how Exxon Mobil Corp. could earn that much money in three months and still see its stock fall 4 percent.

Wall Street expected more, and so did Exxon Mobil investors. At a time of record oil prices, America's biggest oil company reported an earnings increase that was the smallest among its peers.

The profit is what captures everyone's attention, but there's a bigger concern hidden amid the numbers of Exxon Mobil's earnings.

The company's worldwide oil production fell 10 percent, to just under 2.5 million barrels a day.

Iran Doubles Oil Stored in Tankers, Bolstering Rates

Bloomberg) -- Iran, OPEC's second-largest oil producer, more than doubled the amount stored in tankers idling in the Persian Gulf, sending ship prices higher as demand for some of its crude fell, people familiar with the situation said.

The 10 tankers hold at least 20 million barrels of oil, equal to about 5 days of the country's output, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information isn't public. Rates for tankers have more than tripled since April 8, based on data from the Baltic Exchange and ship-fuel prices.

Oil Price May Go Up to $250, Warn Experts

Crude prices continue to baffle analysts and pundits. With the $100-era a well established fact in our daily life, there is now a growing chatter within the energy fraternity that $200 a barrel may not be a far fetched idea altogether. Is another global oil shock now gathering pace?

With limited additional supplies, alternative fuel still some decades away and demand far from collapsing, Deutsche Bank is pointing to a “huge risk” that oil prices would continue to rise in the near to mid-term.

Iran’s yen for the euro

Iran, the world’s fourth largest oil producer, has reportedly shifted from the US dollar to euro and yen as currencies in which it will trade its crude produce. This is seen as a major blow to the US dollar as a reserve currency.

Iran’s move may be determined partly because of its ongoing political stand-off with the US. However, that need not be the only consideration to have prompted Iran to shift to the euro and yen. Many oil exporting nations, as indeed other emerging economies accumulating dollar reserves, have been worrying about the structural weaknesses in the US economy and the prospect of the dollar’s long-term decline.

Gulf States May End Dollar Pegs, Kuwait Minister Says

(Bloomberg) -- Gulf states are considering dropping their pegs to the dollar after the U.S. currency's decline stoked inflation across the region, Kuwaiti Finance Minister Mustafa al- Shimali said.

``Yes, there are some'' Gulf Cooperation Council states considering dropping their pegs to the dollar, which has fallen 13 percent against the euro in the last 12 months, al-Shimali said in an interview in Kuwait late yesterday without naming the countries. ``Some countries will do what we are doing.''

Bolivia takes over four energy companies

LA PAZ (Reuters) - Bolivia will pay $43 million to take controlling stakes in four energy companies, one through an agreement with Spanish oil company Repsol and others through state decrees, the government said on Thursday. Bolivia's state energy company YPFB signed a deal with Repsol, agreeing to pay $6.3 million to acquire enough shares to give it a majority stake in Repsol's Andina, one of Bolivia's biggest energy companies.

The announcement came exactly two years after leftist President Evo Morales launched his nationalization of Bolivia's energy industry in a bid to increase government income from the country's rich natural gas fields.

Senators ready dueling energy plans

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democrats and Republican lawmakers in the U.S. Senate on Thursday set the stage for a divisive energy policy debate with two dueling party-line bills to combat high gasoline prices.

With Senate Democrats promising to unveil a new proposal to tame record-high U.S. pump prices averaging $3.60 a gallon on Friday, Republicans rolled out their proposal that would open a small portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, among other things.

Do you need to stock up the bunker?

Then of course there are natural disasters, something that the US is more used to than the UK, which is largely immune from the more serious earthquakes and hurricanes.

And yet last year's floods in Gloucestershire left 140,000 homes without running water for nearly two weeks.

A major global economic crisis or a dramatic oil shortage are also on Biggs's mind.

If you want to make it through the breakdown, he says, you should build a "safe haven" which is "self-sufficient and capable of growing some kind of food".

Natural born survivors

Rising oil prices, global food shortages and the economic crisis are proof for many survivalists that society is on the brink of meltdown. But are their predictions all gloom and doom - or a chance to create new communities?

Coal Use Set to Increase in the Global Energy Mix

A combination of strong demand, record oil and gas prices, concerns over energy security and a reluctance to recommit to nuclear energy, has seen a renaissance of coal in the European energy mix. This is a trend closely mirrored in the US and Asia. However, while coal might help to fill growing energy security gaps, it raises some profound environmental questions.

No less than 50 coal-fired plants have been slated for construction over the next five years in the EU alone, while India and China are currently constructing a new coal-fired plant every week. Coal is also continuing to gather momentum in the US; 150 proposals for coal-fired plants were put forward in 2007, most of which are likely to gain permits.

Jeremy Leggett: Dawn of an energy famine

This week the shape of the global energy crisis came into its sharpest focus yet. The world needs renewable energy fast, but as BP and Shell announced record profits, they also demonstrated that they are in essence retreating from renewables, perhaps with the exception of biofuels. They intend to focus their record billions on expanding production of what remains of traditional oil and gas, plus tar sands and liquid fuels from coal - ruinous in their effect on the climate.

Oxygen depletion threatens ocean habitats: study

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Oxygen-depleted regions of tropical oceans are expanding, restricting habitats for fish and other marine life, an international team of scientists said in a study published Thursday.

The researchers found that oxygen levels at 300 to 700 meters (985 to 2,300 feet) have declined significantly over the past five decades.

"The ecological impacts of this increase could have substantial biological and economical consequences," a summary of the study said.

On the radio this morning, I heard a comment by Ms. Clinton saying that she would jump start the economy by providing jobs to build "clean and renewable" energy sources. Maybe she's gotten the Peak Oil message. I certainly hope that this election will finally get the politicians off their respective butts to address the energy problem.

E. Swanson

I'm sure she's gotten the peak oil message. Of all the candidates, I'm sure she's gotten it. But whether she'll actually do anything about it except talk...well, that's always a question when you're dealing with politicians.

If she's gotten the message then its even more disappointing to see her desperately pander in such a cynical way (and saying "that's what politicians do" is not really helpful). Policy change will HAVE to involve politicians. Even if its pushed by the grass roots, eventually its people in government who have to develop and implement policy changes. Isn't it time we started holding people accountable for their policies?

In addition to PO, what does this say about Clinton's commitment to reduce GHG emissions? Most likely it is in indication that, like her hubby, she will talk a good game but not risk a drop in polls by attempting to actually do anything.

Well Bush came as close to admitting that we're close to peak oil as he/any other mainstream politician could, in his recent speech. Of course with a new found statesman like look/sound about him :). As if he had nothing to do with the disaster that is the American economy today.

I doubt if any of them is going to say "Ladies and Gentlemen-we're at peak oil". Your country is pretty much fascist - which means big corporates' interests rein supreme. You seriously think any politician is going to piss them off? PO is politically as incorrect as it gets and no politician is going to utter those words till it is an open secret (and even then might not - why state the obvious and get punished).

While many people on this forum might think your politicians are dumb (Bush plays marvellously to the gallery with his folksy talk) and unaware of PO - I doubt it. They are playing along in a game that suits them. They are cunning (how else would they have gotten elected) and have enormous resources at their disposal - intelligent, devious resources. Don't underestimate them.

(India is not much better - but we have left wing "nuts" with just enough seats in the Parliament to keep things in check - the left wingies turn fascist pretty quickly when they rule a state btw).


As PG has pointed out, that's the advantage of a parliament. You end up giving even fringe groups a voice, and as a result, you can change course faster.

Our founding fathers were afraid of change. They set things up to ensure stability. Hence, we have only two political parties at any one time, without much difference between them.

Actually all decisions take much slower to make with fringe groups. Even the stupid ones. That helps in such times.


Leanan-- your opinion if you care to give it:

"They" were almost hopelessly divided, but as Gary Wills describes, (Henry Adams and the Making of America)even Jefferson came around to accepting the need for a strong central government. I suppose "they" hoped they could create stability without degenerating into a new monarchy.

Now "we" are stuck with their fateful choices-- how could "they" have forseen that "corporations" would be counted as "persons" with rights to "free speech" and yet no statutory responsibilities to support the nation that supports them?

At this point, do you really think it matters which of the candidates we have been presented is elected?

Is Emma Goldman correct? ("If elections really changed anything, they would make them illegal.")

At this point, do you really think it matters which of the candidates we have been presented is elected?

No. None of them would have gotten as far as they have if they were not supported by our corporate overlords.

I don't know that I'd go quite as far as Emma Goldman, but change comes slowly in the US.

I think the Founding Fathers didn't really know what corporations would be, and the closest thing they could imagine to these monsters were what were known as "joint-stock companies" and those were already known to be evil. The Founders wanted a wealthy, landowning aristocracy to run the US, voted for by those (white males) who were at least to some extent wealthy - they had to own land to vote. And there was even a reward for being *more* wealthy, in that 3/8 vote or whatever it was per slave. Slaves then were like machines now, a measure of wealth. What they could not forecast was that artificial beings, corporations, would end up being the aristocracy in the US and that they'd have the ability to brainwash people to go along with this for the most part and think it's wonderful.

And Emma Goldman was right.

the US governmental system is much more democratic than our parliamentary system. You have devided government, mid term elections and state governments. In a parliamentary system the majority party appoints the executive and you are stuck with them for 4-5 years. In that time they do what they like and can disregard the electorate entirely. MP's rarely vote against the party line and there are no checks. Local government can be overruled at the governments whim and can be reorganised and even have it's financing withdrawn if the government chooses. US is better.

For quite some time, 80% of the American public wants us out of Iraq yesterday. And yet?

Some democracy.

Time and time again, you seem not to have any idea what you are talking about. Maybe you are being sarcastic, and I'm just missing it.

Our founding fathers were afraid of change. They set things up to ensure stability. Hence, we have only two political parties at any one time, without much difference between them.

Actually, our founding fathers abhorred political parties and didn't want them. The political parties that they observed in Britain were considered (quite rightly, especially at that time) as sources of corruption. Regardless of what the Framers wanted, the formation of political parties was almost inevitable. Once parties arose, the electoral/governmental system established under the Constitution had and continues to have the effect of discouraging more than two major parties,

It seems to me that the real factor in change is the degree to which the corporate elites can be set against one another - to think they are a unified, monolithic whole misses the fact that there is a lot of inter and intra-industry disagreement on many of these 'big issues'. Once the corporate elite are divided, that leaves a pretty big opening for progressives to making lasting reforms.

In Britain the left are good at conning business in to supporting their projects, and when they realise they have been had it's to late. Businessmen are suprisingly stupid with regard to matters ouside the bottom line. they are easily duped. Thats why ideas about them manipulating government are far fetched. they are too dim.

I'm sure she's gotten the peak oil message. Of all the candidates, I'm sure she's gotten it. But whether she'll actually do anything about it except talk...well, that's always a question when you're dealing with politicians.

I disagree, I believe Obama really gets that consumption needs to be cut, and has known about peak oil for a while...


So far, I really don't think Clinton gets the supply and demand stuff (aka peak oil). I'm actually quite impressed that Obama gets it...

I think she understands peak oil because her husband has given speeches about it. Bubba's really into it. He's been spotted reading Heinberg and Simmons, and has even discussed Ghawar reserves. I can't imagine not telling your spouse about something so important, that you're that interested in.

Give her a bit more credit than that. I don't think she has to depend on Slick Willie for something that even I, in distant India, have heard of. She is smart and has surely heard of Google and peak oil and can put 2 and 2 together. If nothing else but as something to get back at Bush.

And she has a lawyer's brain. it could very well be possible that Bubba's on her job.

"Rodham joined the venerable Rose Law Firm, a bastion of Arkansan political and economic influence,[71] in February 1977,[72] specializing in patent infringement and intellectual property law,[36] while also working pro bono in child advocacy;[73] she rarely performed litigation work in court.[74]" - from Wikipedia.


I don't underestimate her. I don't know if she's the smartest woman in the world, as some claim, but I'm sure she's plenty intelligent.

And she's old enough to remember the '70s energy crisis, when everyone was talking about how the oil was going to run out in 30 or 40 years.

However...I'm not sure she (or any other politician) sees it as being as serious a problem as we do. "Market forces" fixed the '70s oil crisis. I think most politicians think the same will happen again. We will move away from oil, but it won't change anything fundamentally. We'll just be running our SUVs on biofuel or electricity or hydrogen or whatever.

I don't understand how anyone can logically conclude that oil depletion is a problem for someone with a family net worth of 100 million dollars. IMHO oil depletion is a "problem" like Americans without proper health care is a problem-it is all theoretical for the persons running the country and will likely stay that way for a very long time IMO.

It doesn't matter if it's theoretical or not.

Nelson Rockefeller is remembered with great fondness by working stiffs in NY. Unlike most Republicans, he was pro-labor. But there's a story that after the union people left, he turned to his aid and asked, "What does 'take-home pay' mean?"

Obviously, he didn't know what it meant to work for a living. But he did a lot more for workers than many who did.

And if it gets as bad as the real doomers believe...it will affect even the very wealthy. Even Bill Gates can't afford to build a highway system on his own.

I see Hillary as a female counterpart to Dick Cheney: Calculating, tough, ruthless, and utterly lacking in any principle but his/her own bottom line. Obviously she can't go out duck hunting, or drinking with the boys (or can she?) so she can't go around with the macho swagger Cheney does, but paint Darth Vader's mask pink and it's still Darth Vader.

In other words like most politicians. The veneer changes, but the core is the same.

In India, too all the politicians will get things done provided you answer his/her simple question "What is in it for me?". Money/votes/ideally both.

A lot of people in India think the presidential system is much better as decisions get made much faster and also that coalition governments are detrimental to development (rather economic growth). Some harbour hopes that a benevolent dictator will come and pull us out of the mess we're in. The grass is always greener on the other side.


I don't understand how anyone can logically conclude that oil depletion is a problem for someone with a family net worth of 100 million dollars.

Brian, familiarize yourself with the French Revolution. The richest people were the first ones to get their heads lobbed off. Seriously, when TEOTWAWKI hits, no one on earth will be secure. The civilized world will likely revert to nature red in tooth and claw.

Ron Patterson

Sadly, according to the Wikipedia write-ups on this, more poor than rich lost their heads in that one, but it may well have been worth it. We just need to make sure plenty of baddies get their end in this one that's coming.

More 'poor' will always loose their heads than 'rich' in some kind of civil strife.

There is very little 'cost' for the killing of the poor. The rich might be able to get another mob to come after your mob. And 'the poor' mob will always have members who want to settle scores with other members of 'the poor'.

I think it is real dangerous to put hopes into a politician. It's like being relieved that a new captain has been appointed after the Titanic hit the iceberg......... Excuse me while I go see the lifeboats.

And she has a lawyer's brain.

Trust me on this one: Having a lawyer's brain doesn't guarantee that you can think rationally.

(Most of the members in US House and Senate have lawyers' brains.)

((Roscoe Bartlett, a US Congressman, has an engineer's brain. The lawyer brains in the Congress look down on his engineer's brain. Mother Nature looks down on all human brains: Tisk, tisk, another bunch of noise making monkeys that are about to go extinct. But frankly, I don't give a darn.))

Jimmy Carter had an engineer'n brain - and knew 1st had about energy via his nuke plant work on submarines. (Thus giving him a 'he is one of us' badge via the clearance level he had to hold to get that gig)

Leanan "...can't imagine not telling your spouse (Hillary Clinton) about something so important, that you're that interested in."

Would that include Monica?

Just kidding!

Obama Proposes Windfall Profits tax on Oil Industry

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's proposal for a windfall profits tax on oil companies could cost $15 billion a year at last year's profit levels, a campaign adviser said.

The plan would target profit from the biggest oil companies by taxing each barrel of oil costing more than $80, according to a fact sheet on the proposal. The tax would help pay for a $1,000 tax cut for working families, an expansion of the earned- income tax credit and assistance for people who can't afford their energy bills.

``The profits right now are so remarkable that one could trim them 10 percent or so, which would turn out to be somewhere in the $15 billion range,'' said Jason Grumet, an adviser to the Obama campaign.

Obama's plan may be three times larger than the $50 billion, 10-year plan contemplated by his Democratic rival, New York Senator Hillary Clinton. Republican candidate John McCain, an Arizona senator, has no plan to raise oil and gas industry taxes, said his economic adviser, Douglas Holtz-Eakin.

So, nothing there, nobody home. Empty. She may have gotten the peak oil message, and that's a very empty hope. If she does, you gotta know she or her puppet organisation won't do a lick to alleviate it. Political bau. Who run's the show? The president? You really think so? Mitigation from a future Clinton administration? You believe that?


For sure she knows.
If she still talks to Bill that is.

Bill Clinton was at a press conference in 2006 where he talked about reading Heinberg's book so I think it's pretty fair to say that Hillary knows about peak oil.

The important question is whether she believes the doomers or whether she believes there's something we can do other than invading Iran to stave off collapse.

Well, not really. Eliminating the federal gas tax does not demonstrate a grasp of peak oil. Riding in a Ford F 250 in front of a cavalcade of SUVs on a 50 mile commute does not demonstrate a good grasp of peak oil either.

Anyway, she's toast, so it doesn't make a great deal of difference.

Postere later (Eastern Time) in yesterday's DB: http://www.theoildrum.com/node/3928#comment-337767

Massachusetts Governor says: We're "at the end of the age of fossil fuels"

NPR just reported that Massachusetts Governor Duval Patrick declared, in a speech today before the Boston Chamber of Commerce, "We're at the end of the age of fossil fuels" [approximate quote]. The Boston Globe carries a preview of the speech here:

Patrick and Obama are friends.

Maybe we ought to play the Obama cabinet game so as to ID the politicos "most likely" to have gotten "it", to listen' and try something different.

I know - likely folly.


I suspect this is about the best we can hope for from a politician. He rolled out the old stone age didn't end because we ran out of stone thing. Innovation's going to save us.

I love this "the stone age didn't end because we ran out of stone" b/c it's true. And since that one is true "all other ages will also end well....."
The Law of the ending ages is hereby established , sort of

It's possible, too, that the Stone Age didn't really end, we just piled a bunch of other ages on TOP of it.

Nowadays, we simply sport an arsenal of Intercontinental Ballistic Stones to lob at each other.. Smart Stones, Shiny Stones, Profitable Stones.. Business As Ever.

yes Jokul Ur right, piling up next is Age Of Conan , due May 17 or so

or just plain: stone age didnt end.

e.g. cavemen are not,imo, extinct. neocons are a good example.

Looking at the bright side, airport queues may be a lot shorter in a few years...

...but I think predictions for the death of air travel are a bit unrealistic. A lot of the current operators will go bankrupt, but I think state-supported national carriers will make a comeback. Millionaires and executives and politicians will still want to fly. People will still want to take a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Europe.

I do wonder about all those resorts in the Caribbean that depend on a steady stream of visiting Americans - there'll be a lot of empty rooms, you'd think.

There may be state-supported airlines. Probably priced out of the reach of ordinary folks.

But here in the US, I think we're more likely to go with chartered jets. It's already a big and growing market.

Your private air travel options are growing - If you've got the money, very light jets can ease your commuting headaches

Jet-card companies sell blocks of flight time on private, turbine airplanes — in 25-hour increments in most cases — which are “loaded” on a plastic card. As the customer uses the service, time is deducted from the balance. Prices for 25 hours start at approximately $120,000. The aircraft used by jet card companies carry between six and 14 passengers and fly as far as 7,700 miles (New York to Tokyo).

We just got a notice that there is an additional $400 per child fuel charge being added on to the Chior Euro tour charter that my daughter is taking this summer. Ouch!

This may have been noted before, apologies if so.

Older Bloomberg article on current troubles of chartered jets, governor's commute, and Santa Monica's fight against corporate jet in a small airport.

"Schwarzenegger's Jet Commute May End as Santa Monica Seeks Ban "


Leanan "I think we're more likely to go with chartered jets"

I don't believe Modern Commercial Aviation will be dead but it will be a shadow of what it is now in 20 years. There is no replacement for oil/kerosene. But remember there will still be oil, it just won't be cheap.

What will be in greater use will be turbo-prop aircraft which are far more fuel efficient and also cheaper to operate.

What will be interesting to ponder is what will the U.S. do to support the massive infrastructure of airports that has been supported by landing fees that are paid by every traveler. With so few people traveling the fees will dry up.

What happens then?

Eventually, air travel may end. But I don't think maintaining the airports is nearly as big a problem as maintaining the highways.

The airports were mostly built with taxpayer money. (Despite what some anti-rail folks like to claim.) Originally it was for military use, and mail delivery. I imagine that will continue for quite awhile.

And a lot of the expense of airports will go away if fewer people are traveling. No more air traffic control headaches, etc.

The runways should stay operable for quite some time with little or no maintenance (they are only a couple of miles long at most). Reduce takeoffs and landings (with perhaps lighter a/c) and they can stay in operation for quite some time.

I am old enough to remember movable stairs for boarding aircraft. Most terminals are built to a stout commercial standard, but they are not required for operation.

I think multiple airports per metropolis may be abandoned. Build Urban Rail to one airport and abandon/redevelop the rest. Many close-in airports would make good TOD sites (Midway in Chicago, National in DC, LaGuardia in NYC, Burbank and Long Beach in Los Angeles, Hobby in Houston, Love in Dallas come to mind plus innumerable "corporate jet/general aviation" airports that consume valuable urban in-fill land).

Best Hopes for Reduced but still viable Air Travel,



USA 2034: A Look Back


Boeing 797s (successor to 737 using 787 technology) rule the skies, with different models providing 130 to 210 seats on direct flights between major rail centers at fuel saving cruise speeds of 400 to 450 mph. The new paradigm for cross-country travel is to take rail to the regional hub airport, catch one of the 1 to 3 direct daily flights to another hub airport and rail to the final destination. Regional passenger rail dominates inter-city trips up to 250 miles and becomes a minor mode for trips much over 600 miles. Overall travel volumes have declined dramatically due to increasing costs and reduced economic activity.

Re: Airlines and catabolic collapse.

People should bear in mind that reduction in number of airlines/flights leads to a reduction in the demand for Jet Fuel. There isn't any other use for the stuff. I am not reading anything about actual shortages in the product, so I assume that there is enough currently to provide for all the flights occurring each day around the world.
This means that the bankruptcy of a few significant "users" of the product could lead to a surplus in Jet fuel, leading to a prolonged reduction in demand for it, hence giving surviving airlines a number of years of breathing space which would allow ticket prices to remain steady. Catabolic collapse in action do you think?

Jet A is a diesel fuel, easy to convert to truck fuel and ships' fuel and it is chemically very close to the standard fuel of a certain super powers' military.
There will not be a surplus of Jet Fuel unless the aircraft industry, maritime industry, road transport and the US military collapse at the same time.

Jet fuel is closer to kerosene than diesel fuel. It's a lighter fraction of the distillation and stays liquid at the very cold temperatures at high altitude.


The JP-5 for the U.S. NAVY is a bit different, as flamability on board ship is a serious concern in wartime.

E. Swanson

This does not make it less useful for other purposes, so the 'glut' of Jet Fuel after a possible collapse of air travel will not happen I think.

People should bear in mind that reduction in number of airlines/flights leads to a reduction in the demand for Jet Fuel. There isn't any other use for the stuff.

You must not have been around in the late 70s. LOTS of people were buying and using portable kerosene space heaters. In those days we had several winters of big blizards with temps getting down into the minus double digits. Everyone was worried that the nat gas and heating oil supplies might not hold out. A kerosene heater was seen as a safety net, and many people would close off much of the house and just heat a few central rooms with it. This could all repeat.

We had a kerosene refrigerator for awhile when I was a kid. We were living in a third world country, in an area that didn't have electricity or running water, so the fridge ran off kerosene.

And last year in Nigeria, there was a jet fuel shortage because it was being sold on the black market as kerosene, for kerosene stoves.

Lotta 'want tos' there. As Westexas says, he may 'want to' date Julia Roberts (sorry, Jeff, if I'm remembering your example incorrectly), but that doesn't mean it's going to happen...

Millionaires and executives and politicians will still want to fly.

Yes, but not with we commoners. They will continue to have private planes, or there will be charter services for those without. The above can do just fine with no regularly scheduled air service at all.

People will still want to take a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Europe.

They may want to, but it won't happen. "The Grand Tour" will return to being the upper class rite of passage that it used to be, while the lower 98+% of us will stay put.

I do wonder about all those resorts in the Caribbean that depend on a steady stream of visiting Americans - there'll be a lot of empty rooms, you'd think.

Not much to wonder about, they are all toast. Domestic tourism centers that are accessible via Amtrak or are within a day's drive of major population centers might hang on a while longer, but we've probably just passed Peak Tourism within the past year.

Yes, but without flying for the masses, there will be little support for publicly paid-for air traffic control and airport facilities. Most likely, as we degenerate toward a medieval aristocracy public support won't really matter. The aristocrats will just take what they want. But in the short run there may be some noisy opposition.

ATC will just be brought under the wing of the USAF if necessary. As will airports.

I think people will still travel, but in a different way. I foresee the return of ship travel to Europe, the Caribbean, etc.for vacations, but it will be more about the journey and less about the destination. This could be set up quite easily since the seaports already are there.

Any ideas on the petroleum use per passenger mile on a trans-atlantic liner vs. jumbo-jet? How about "carbon footprint?" Is it really less?

Any ideas on the petroleum use per passenger mile on a trans-atlantic liner vs. jumbo-jet?

The correct answer, obviously, is: "It depends."

According to

  • http://www.roblightbody.com/liners/qe-2/QE2_fuel_economy.htm
  • the QE2 (retired 2004) produced 45 passenger miles/gallon.

    According to

  • http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/philg/2007/03/19/airbus-a380-more-fuel-effi...
  • an Airbus 380, at 95 passenger miles per gallon is, well, more fuel efficient than a Toyota Prius. However, if you read the fine print in the replies, you will note that this was an invalid apples-and-oranges comparison -- a fully loaded A380 vs. a Toyota Prius with only a driver and no passengers. Moreover, it assumed an atypical configuration of the A380 designed to maximize the number of passengers that could be carried. A more typical configuration might put the A380's fuel economy down around half the original claim: call it 47 passenger miles/gallon or so.

    Different ships, different planes, different load factors would presumably all result in different comparisons, but clearly one should not assume that passenger liners as they are currently designed and operated are necessarily more fuel efficient than jumbo jets as they are currently designed and operated. I would venture to guess that fuel economy is not emphasized in the design process for ocean liners to anything like the degree it is emphasized in the design process for airliners.

    Thanks-- that gives decent boundaries to the discussion.

    No doubt a transatlantic ship that was built more like a long-distance ferry would be far more efficient than the QEII, and it seems like it could fairly easily do NY-London in 5 days or less. It could likely be built far more efficient than any giant jetliner.

    So people could still do real business deals and take real vacations. You'd have to plan further ahead, and get more done in a single trip. But it hardly seems like the end of the world.

    We don't really build passenger liners anymore. QE2 was one of the last. Cruise ships are essentially overgrown tropical ships, the designed is optimised for giving all passengers an outside cabin and as much shopping malls and entertainment complexes as possible into the rest of the hull. They are not optimised for running the North Atlantic every week and may age quite fast in the conditions found there. They are inherently safe (unlike aircraft which are inherently unsafe) but only for their current numbers of passengers. Technical efficiency of the hull and propulsion is is quite high.
    A possible starting point for real atlantic liner would be Normandie or the original Cunard Queens (though they were already old fashioned in hull design by 1934) but with modern propulsion and safety technology and less entertainment space. During WW2 the 'Queens carried about 10000 unvoluntary passengers at Easy Jet like comfort and safety levels and a good turn of speed across the atlantic. Energy use per passenger comes down quickly with numbers like that - I will try to look up my figures later on.

    During WW2 the 'Queens carried about 10000 unvoluntary passengers at Easy Jet like comfort and safety levels

    Are the Germans shooting at Easy Jets ? That was the biggest safety risk during WW II.

    You are correct, Normandie can be said to have had an advanced hull, while Cunard stayed with old designs.

    Best Hopes,


    "Are the Germans shooting at Easy Jets ? That was the biggest safety risk during WW II."
    They were shooting at them but they were hardly successful and a 30+ knot vessel doing zig-zags in an unpredictable pattern simply could not be caught by german submarines. Most of the time the 'Queens ran unescorted unless slowing down when getting near a harbor. Their escorts near harbors were probably their biggest associated safety risk and unfortunately this lead to QM sinking her close escort, HMS Curacoa.
    The point I tried to make about safety was a different one however. When trooping the Queens did not carry enough lifeboats for all their passengers, but they did carry enough inflatable raft space if every raft was able to inflate undamaged after a catastrophic event. This is comparable to current jet aircraft safety arrangements.
    In maritime circles this reasoning is recognized as flawed and current safety regulations for passenger carrying ships are much tougher.
    Current international law can be found under

    OTOH jet aircraft tend to kill all their passengers after a catastrophic engine failure or structural failure over water anyway while ships and their passengers can survive much more damage

    NeverLNG -

    To even begin to answer your question, one needs to first establish two things: i) the size of the liner, and ii) it's intended cruising speed. Both play a very large role in energy consumption.

    For a given hull form (as characterized by length-to-beam ratio, beam-to-draft ratio, 'block coefficient', and a number of other shape-related factors) the larger the ship, the less fuel it consumes per ton of displacement. So, the bigger the liner, the better.

    Speed is highly critical to the fuel consumption of a ship. Fuel consumption is roughly proportional to the square of the speed (not to be confused with the power requirement, which is roughly proportional to the cube of the speed).Therefore, the same ship going 30 knots will consume roughly 2.25 times the amount fuel consumed at 20 knots. So, if you want a fast liner that can go from New York to London in 5 days or less, you are going to pay a big price in increased fuel consumption over a ship that is leisurely cruising.

    In general, a large ship should be far more fuel efficient than a large plane in terms of fuel consumed per passenger-mile or per ton-mile. But again, size matters. As example, the WW II Iowa class battleships had a design displacement of about 50,000 tons and a rated power of about 200,000 HP, and could do 32 knots. On the other hand, a 10,000-ton cruiser would typically require about 80,000 HP to make the same speed. The smaller cruiser at only 20% of the weight of the battleship required 40% of the battleship's power to make the same speed.

    thanks for the data and discussion.

    Since I will never build a trans-Atlantic ship, it is academic to me-- but still very interesting.

    I guess my question is something like "if you had a few spare $billions, and you wanted to make money in international transportation, given what we know about oil depletion and population growth and air pollution, would you design and build giant airliners or giant trans-Atlantic ferries?"

    I would build a standard gauge electrified rail line from China to Europe capable of 160 kph (100 mph) for passengers and freight.


    The thing is though, the ocean liner was pretty much of an upper class plaything. True there were poorer people down in the lower decks, but in those days that was mostly people making one-way trips - immigrants. Most poorer people can't afford to take months off work at a time for overseas travels. Retirees might have the time, but unless they are very well off they won't have the money.

    Much as I love the grand old ocean liners, I doubt that they will be coming back - not as they were, anyway.

    Exactly. Travel as entertainment was for the wealthy only.

    about 45 years ago my mother took me to Australia as a passenger on a cargo boat. 37 days from the UK. My father flew - the company paid for him, but not us! It was fairly common for cargo boats to take on a few dozen fare paying passengers to supplement the business, and no doubt add a little more social element to long journeys at sea. A cruise liner it was not - but it got us to Sydney ok. The return journey was by plane. Maybe we will see more of this?

    This reminds me of the ad running on tv for one of the railroads that says they get 400+miles per gallon per ton of freight. I read somewhere
    that water transport is the most fuel efficient of all. What will happen is people will be transported along with the most efficient method of freight transport as a side cargo just like you did 45 years ago to Sidney. You can still book passage on cargo freighters, many have accomodations for a dozen or so passengers and you get to eat at the captains table. There is a website or two that help you book these accomodations I think.

    Certainly we will. But there are limits on how many people a cargo ship can carry. This will probably become the mode of transport of choice for people who really do have to travel overseas, but are not well to do and are not having the trip paid for, and who have the free time to spare. That doesn't describe many people, but it may be the way that grandpa and grandma get to visit the grandkids overseas one last time.

    It's a lot cheaper to run boats than it is to fly planes.
    There will still be tourism via cruise ships, even for the masses.

    I doubt the resorts in the caribbean will stop catering to the middle class any time soon.

    Airlines have been going bankrupt regularly for the last thirty years. The last wave of bankruptcy in the industry was in the early 1990s. They go bankrupt for selling a plane flight for less than cost. It doesn't matter if the NY-LA run costs $175 to operate, if you sell tickets for $167 you will go bankrupt. Likewise, if the NY-LA run costs $1500 to operate, and you sell tickets for $1800, you're rolling in dough.

    Netjets, the private-jet timeshare company, sells its seats for $10,000+ per flight. It makes money.

    Higher prices will cause fewer flights, in turn causing capacity reductions in the industry. However, barring severe economic dislocations, I doubt air travel will decline all that much. Jet travel dates from the 1960s, when there was considerably less petroleum being produced than is the case today.

    What is Peak Oil if it is not a severe economic dislocation, though? Higher energy costs mean higher food costs, lower company profits and so on. It all means fewer jobs and less discretionary income, leading to lower demand for flights at the same time as fuel prices push airlines into the red.

    Citing petroleum production in the 60s is misleading. Outside the US, where fuel - and therefore jet travel - was cheap, jet travel was a luxury. Mass air travel in Europe only took off in the 1980s when oil prices plunged.

    I think Peak Oil will send aviation back to the sixties - very nice for those that can afford it (which won't be me).

    Bankruptcy for an airline occurs when they lose their federal subsidy.

    All airlines will eventually be national airlines, because the business model does not and never has made sense. Air travel is inherently a losing proposition. If people were supposed to fly, they would have been born with wings.

    "Jet travel dates from the 1960s, when there was considerably less petroleum being produced than is the case today."

    Interesting point. Air travel accounts for a few per cent of our oil use. You would think that it would be possible to keep it going in times of tight supplies. The issue will be that pricing will be determined in a kind of auction. Everyone bids for oil till the price is so high that some are priced out of the market. It remains to be seen if air travel will be valued over other uses in times of declining supplies.

    On CNBC this morning Joe Kernen says: "They called this the worst food shortage in thirty years, which means that thirty years ago we had a food shortage that was not related to Peak Oil.”

    The discussion was about commodities, not about oil at all, so I thought it significant that Joe saw the current food shortage a result of Peak Oil. But here is the URL for the video, you can judge for yourself.

    Commodities Bubble

    Discussing the dollar and commodities, with Jim Bower, Bower Trading, Inc. president; Bill McConnell, The Deal and CNBC's Joe Kernen

    Ron Patterson


    I think high commodity prices now and 30 years ago have everything to do with peak oil. Thirty years ago there was a U.S. peak made worse by OPEC controlling supply. Now we are on the bring of a world peak and supply issues (driving price again) are feeding into the ability to produce commodities at low price.

    We can parse this anyway we want. Energy prices underpin commodities. The big money invests in commodities instead of energy. Energy prices go up so that manufactures want to charge more to make profits. These or any other link is the same, scarcity of energy at low price drives the price up of all other things.

    It's not a "commodities bubble". It's a population bubble.

    It looks like a bubble if you graph wheat in dollars. But it looks like a crash if you graph dollars in wheat. Which one is closer to reality?

    Next to no one mentions scale. Population*affluence is scale. Thanks for bringing it up. Anyone who will not address scale - fundamentally - is wasting oxygen.

    John Robb nails it - why every so-called solution coming from the piranha/consensus/developer class makes matters worse:

    This means that any entropy we produce as a byproduct of maintaining or advancing our structural complexity, can't be exported to an "external" environment. Instead, it's poured back into the same system we inhabit.

    At the social/economic level, entropic effects include starvation, global guerrillas, global warming, gyrating prices, etc. If this is true, grand fixes like the attempt to ramp up biofuel production (above), merely amplify (due to entropy production) the chaos of the shocks they attempt to dampen.

    As far as airlines go, I've been having interesting discussions with my customers as they are scrambling to do whatever they can to get their goods off FedEx and UPS planes. And as everyone else does that, the FedEx planes are downsizing and flights will be vanishing. Hub and spoke will change back to routes - my favorite being the Portland ME/Boston/Cleveland/Denver route on which I always seemed to end up. Still, I can drive to CO Rockies in a fat two days so why fly? Hell, why drive? I'm staying home to watch the show.

    We're in need of a complete paradigm shift and the politicians are doing everthing they can for their constituents - the piranha/consensus/developer class - and opposing that shift at all points. At least in US this is a structural "feature" of the Constitution; it is designed to prevent change.

    Things so brittle will break - if they have not already. After all, the US is no longer "rule of law". The whole dustup over torture has ended that fantasy.

    cfm in Gray, ME, Milliways

    I think he was trying to make the point that food prices are not related to peak oil by saying, "see, we had high prices before without peak oil, so what makes you think the high prices now are related to peak oil" Just my guess based on where he is normally coming from which includes climate change denial.

    The joint economic committee tried to sort this out yesterday but the reasons for high food prices vary much depend on who your constituents are. The Senator from Kansas didn't mention ethanol as a reason. What a surprise. The congresspersons from New York were more amenable to ethanol as a big factor.

    I am hearing a man who is aquainted to, and realise that PO is a reality that "is".

    WOW! Thats kind of a big deal I guess. The guests didnt even fight him on his Peak Oil comment. Is the MSM coming around?

    That's a pretty quick turnaround from the deriding skepticism voiced just a week back. I heard Peak oil is real and it really is affecting food supply throughout the discussion. Just the same tone of voice when Joe made the PO comment and then later when he noted that oil was 'up-ticking' along with the (sic) stronger dollar. Those both sounded like capitulation to me.

    Anybody see James Howard Kunstler on the Colbert Report? What a tough show to be on but I thought he really held his own with Colbert and got the point across.


    I just watched it. Kunstler is Kunstler. Colbert is an stupid asshole. I suppose that's the premise of the show.

    Will, that's Cobert's assumed character - a spoof of the Bill O'Reilly show.

    Yeah - I caught it. That's a little late for me but I wanted to see Kunstler. I thought he kept on messeage and Colbert allowed him to make his points. If Colbert doesn't like a guest he'll cut him off, but he let JHK make all of his points about the end of oil, the world isn't a creamy nougat center of oil, and Americans Suburban lifestyle is at an end. Colbert did bring up Y2K, which is still a black-eye for JHK, and I thought for a minute he was going to crucify Jim with it, but he let it pass. Colbert seems to get it.

    With the cost of oil at the top of the current American mindset, I think the message is starting to gain traction.

    Fossil Fuels have Jump(ed) The Shark


    I watched this..the best part is Colbert debating Colbert about which candidate is more electable.

    I thought it was interesting that Colbert called out peak oil by name but Kunstler did not.

    Do you need to stock up the bunker?

    In the 1950s and 1960s, bunkers were a feature of many American suburban homes, populated by families fearful of the prospect of nuclear war. That threat has subsided, but now many reasonable people are stockin up on essential supplies in preparation for a new cataclysm.

    When you hear the word "survivalist", what image comes to mind?

    Perhaps you think of a gun-toting loner in Mid-West America, who lives in a shack surrounded by tinned food and emergency water supplies.

    Or maybe you think of end-of-the-world religionists retreating to a fortified camp with enough food and drink to last them until Judgement Day.

    But today there is a new breed of survivalist – and they're well-heeled, well-educated and more likely to wear an immaculately pressed suit than a camouflage flak jacket.


    The BBC has bee pretty poor reporting on peak oil, with only some mentions of Transition Towns. The article has all the usual caveats - we're going to keep on discovering oil, bird flue has only killed a few hundred people so far etc.

    The BBC has been pretty poor reporting on peak oil

    But they did produce If The Oil Runs Out a couple of years ago before going strangely silent.

    It is 2016 and the world is in crisis.

    Global supplies of oil cannot keep up with soaring demand and the price of petrol is going through the roof.

    The oil companies are in a desperate race to find any remaining oil reserves but what happens if there is no more out there?

    ...At the start of the film it is around $85 (£45) a barrel - in spring 2006 it is about $65 (£34) - but by the end of the drama the price has climbed to $160 (£85).

    As the story unfolds, expert interviewees - including Paul Domjan, Former Energy Security Adviser at the US Dept of Defence, oil analyst Matt Simmons and the legendary former Saudi Arabian Minister of Oil, Sheikh Yamani - explain how the crisis will have an effect on every part of our lives.

    Note how the prices today are close to those the programme projected for a crisis in 2016.

    Thanks for the great link grass. Although a lot of people do not want to look ahead to the scenario depicted in that BBC special on Peak oil, it's a scenario that is all too obvious as we look ahead. If civilization was built on cheap oil, then it will be expensive oil that brings it back down. 94% of transportation uses some form of oil, so as the price rises the economy slows, and at some threshold a chain reaction of events leaves people fending for themselves. One can only speculate as what that tipping point price will be.

    Sure I'd love to be more positive and spin a yard about how we'll pass peak oil like its standing still, however what's that postive, cornicopian vision? Please bring it to the boards here, but please make it plausible.

    it's a scenario that is all too obvious as we look ahead. If civilization was built on cheap oil, then it will be expensive oil that brings it back down.

    Yup. So what does one keep? Refrigeration? Lighting? Communications? What levels of these?

    If Exxon were to subsidize Gas and Diesel with $5 billion of profits, the US could reduce the price of Gas and Diesel by 9 cents per gallon for 1 quarter.

    How much would that reduce Exxons first quarter profits and production next year and the following years?

    Big oil could reduce prices by 36 cents and cause future year production losses to increase prices more than 36 cents.

    Political expediency is like Aspirin for cronic pains.

    Sometimes aspirin is all you've got. That's the origin of "political expediency."

    Big oil might consider a few sops to non-oil power, or maybe conservation -- and then possibly the outrage over their monster profits would die down. They have the resources to get out in front of futile populist "solutions."

    Sakhalin-1 declined 8.1% compared to last year, auch. If that is the decline rate for their mature fields than they need some hefty new production coming online each month.

    "Coal use set to increase"... talk about surprise. Couple that with the news that we are entering a cooler decade in the Northern Hemisphere (possibly due to slowing down of Thermohaline), and it's easy to see how support to climate change efforts will wane right at the time they seem to be needed the most. Maybe we humans are simply unable to follow decade long goals and that's it - we have to live with it. I'm sorry for the doomerish tune, but sometimes I feel we are freaking doomed... maybe not us, but the generations after us for sure.

    The Russian bear is once again rearing its head.

    Great article in Vanity Fair about the Artic expedition of late:



    The Oil Drum is now on Twitter: http://twitter.com/TheOilDrum

    We'll be posting article feeds and all sorts of stuff. If you're on there, give it a follow!

    Aptera Factory Tour

    An update on the three-wheeled Jetson looking BEV/PHEV

    I believe Aptera, among others, is participating in the Automotive X Prize.


    A clinical drumbeat IMO. Someone is really on their game - with heavyweight sources to boot.

    Thank you.

    Folks, please remember: "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas." If you want to continue old arguments, particularly if they are not really on-topic (such as whether primates are herbivores), please do it in the thread in which the debate originally arose. That way, we don't get day after day of the same old off-topic argument taking over the DrumBeats - but those who are interested can continue to follow it.

    That's a great one for a Peak Oil discussion! Primates are not herbivores or our guts and teeth would be different. We also are not birds, we have no wings, and without oil, will have to rely on our legs for transportation.

    For anti-spam reasons older topics get closed out for comment. Too bad there was not a way for a good summary of an interesting debate to be noted and expanded beyond one's profiles here. (Or more like - who's gonna take the time to be editor and select then edit out interesting or novel discussions?)

    Eric - I agree with you, but perhaps if 2 (or more) people want to have a continuing discussion, they ought to exchange emails, or somehow pick it up again in a more current thread. For example, I posted another 4/30 comment today (after yours), but I would rather go forward on more recent topics if an appropriate situation presents itself again from time to time.

    People post - I respond (sometimes). If there is a topic - feel free to post.

    It's very rare that a discussion continues past the point where comments are closed.

    And an easy way to keep track of older discussions is to click on the "DrumBeat" tag. That will show you the past couple of weeks' worth of DrumBeats, and you can easily see if there are new posts to any of them.

    Maybe what we need to do is to create a sister site - "The Feed Trough" (TFT). There, herbivores, omnivores and carnivores could have at it non-stop.


    $20 on the carnivores! (At least until peak herbivore)

    WTI's price swing is wild the past 24 hours - panic selling yesterday and panic buying today.

    A week ago, the dollar was at 71, and oil at $120, giving a product of $120 x .71 = 85.2

    Today the dollar is at 73.5, oil at $116, giving a product of $116 * .735 = 85.26.

    So we are still sitting at $120.00 oil in my book.


    ...dollar was at 71, ....the dollar is at 73.5 ??

    I think he/she was referring to the dollar index

    Folks check out the link up top: Russian April Oil Output Falls to Lowest in 18 Months

    The figures they give are for All Liquids.

    Production dropped to 9.72 million barrels a day (39.8 million metric tons a month), 0.8 percent less than in April last year and only slightly higher than in October 2006,

    Converting this to C+C by using the EIA figures for April 2007, this puts them just under 9.3 mb/d for April 2008. This means they have dropped about 220,000 bp/d since they peaked in September of 2007 at 9.52 mb/d

    Another point that may be telling. Russia has in the past given their production figures three or four times a week. The figures were in Tons per day All Liquids. They were reported free at their Central Dispatching Unit web site. Then suddenly after April 20 they stopped reporting. They stopped reporting just as their production was starting to drop precipitously. I am sure you could probably get it if you subscribed to their summary, which they advertise on that page, but their daily production figures are no longer free.

    Ron Patterson

    Warming Antarctic waters begin to cool

    Antarctica's deep ocean waters are getting colder after years of warming, say researchers who have just returned from a Southern Ocean voyage aboard the German research vessel Polarstern.

    Samples from previous expeditions showed that water at a depth of 4,500 metres in the Weddell Sea warmed by a tenth of a degree Celsius between 1989 and 2005, although the warming trend may have begun earlier. The latest work, by researchers from the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Bremerhaven, found that temperatures have cooled slightly since 2005, suggesting that more cold surface water is reaching the deep ocean, perhaps as a result of changes in sea-ice coverage and atmospheric conditions. The team plans to revisit the region during the summer of 2010–11.

    Oh gee that's nice a story that both sides will see as good news for their belief. Global Warming Doomers will see it as proof the ice pack is at a point of critical melt and as a result pushing colder melted water deeper. Global Warming Deniers will see it as proof that temperatures are going down. When all we really know is that a set of temperature data deep in the Weddell Sea has dropped by one tenth of a degree over at least 16 if not more years.

    I've decided that I'm content to concede that GAIA is going to do what GAIA is going to do and there isn't a damned thing that the species who likes to think of himself as The Master of His Domain can do about the situation.

    Hope we like the ride!

    Just so I understand, did JrWakefield's comment on global warming fall under the stay in Vegas rule? While I certainly don't want another extensive round of debate on this subject, are comments related to global warming issues now off limits?

    No. It was deleted because 1) it's been posted before and 2) he's been told to quit posting rightwing nut global warming stuff. (The alternative was banning him.) Anyone who wants to read his "arguments" can go back to December and read all they want. It's always the same old, same old.

    Below is an article confirming what we all found out today, that the price for a barrel of oil is based on solid fundamentals, those being supply and demand. Not market speculators or just the dollar losing value. The fact that the price oil went back up today also eliminates the idea that the rising price was a huge bubble about to burst. Once it started down it quickly stopped and started heading back up.


    Actually, just about all commodities went up today.
    Oil,grain,base metal, and gold.

    I've never understood these comments about oil or gas prices being driven up by speculators. In the short term that could be possible. However, eventually someone has to take delivery of that product. If demand drops and prices drop they have to pay storage fees if they hope to wait for prices to rise again. Once prices start to decline or fail to rise then the speculators are forced to dump their product to cut their losses and prices the go down a lot. I don't know the ins and outs of this business but I'd guess that speculators wouldn't want to take delivery at all and if they somehow did then they wouldn't keep it for more than a month or two.

    Hello TODers,

    Recall my long ongoing posting string on Africom, Founding Fathers linkage to Morocco as the US's longest ally, the link about Australia's future concern for phosphate, the double-whammy link between FF-energy and sulphur to produce and deliver I-NPK, naval sealane control and future P-irates, the UN FAO link on future fertilizer feedstock flows, Morocco's OCP as price maker, and how DAP's price/ton is much higher than crude oil's price/ton.

    For your reading enjoyment as we go postPeak:

    Present Day Plunder on the Barbary Coast
    Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

    I know oil and politics have been discussed to death, so this comment may be misplaced. However, there is a new story today on Yahoo news.....

    The Senate Republican energy plan would REQUIRE coal derived transport fuels by 2022, which hits me as more foolish than ethanol subsidies. They may be inevitable, but requiring them speaks to greased palms.


    "What we are hearing from the White House and from the Republicans is the same song, same dance: drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge," said Sen. Patty Murray, Washington Democrat. "We know we can't drill our way out of this problem."

    We can't drill our way out of this problem. Coming from a politician, that surprises me. What else does she say?


    A report for the European Commission, featured in Fleet News, predicts that fuel consumption by all kinds of road transport in the EU will increase by 19% by 2030, as car passenger traffic increases by 36%.

    Hopefully someone from the EC will visit TOD before pushing the button on the 'necessary' road infrastructure investment.

    Interestingly, UK transport policy planners have never been required to factor price or availability of fuel into their calculations, hence the ongoing determination to expand London Heathrow and other airports, almost three years into what looks like the PO plateau.

    I'm amazed when I see reports on airport expansions. What are they thinking? As peak oil progresses the first to go will be passenger air travel.

    Half Empty,

    Thanks for the info.

    I would take the European Commission's reports with a super-size grain of salt.

    Here is what the Commission wrote in 2003 (European Energy and Transport Trends to 2030):

    World energy prices
    Assuming the continuation of current world energy market structures and taking a conventional view on fossil fuel reserves, world energy prices develop moderately as no supply constraints are likely to be experienced over the next 30 years under Baseline conditions.
    • Oil prices decline from their high 2000 levels over the next few years, but they then gradually increase to reach a level in 2030 no higher than that in 2000 (and 1990).



    Assuming, assuming ....

    Garbage in, garbage out

    After a short stay in America as part of a traveling special exhibition of Renaissance Italian art treasures, Michelangelo's David this week returned to Florence...

    LOL! Not the way I remember him. He must have spent some time in Houston - the only place in the world that I ever actually put on a few pounds.

    Corn fed

    A fine example of Prof. Cattons "Homocolossus"?

    It's American term would actually be 'HomerCollossus'

    As many of you know, I'm a strong advocate of air source heat pumps and consider them to be in many ways superior to their ground source brethren, especially in terms of their low capital cost and easy of installation. I installed a small, 14,000 BTU ductless unit three years ago for $2,100.00 CDN and with fuel oil now selling locally at $1.109 a litre, my net savings over oil run in the range of $850.00 a year (BTU for BTU, oil heat is some three times more costly). Bear in mind that my home's space heating demands are fairly modest, so much of the time the heat pump sits unused; in a more conventional home with higher heat demand and corresponding greater utilization, my net savings would be that much greater.

    The March 2008 issue of the IEA Heat Pump Centre newsletter is devoted to air source heat pumps and their retrofit within existing buildings. The newsletter is available for download at: http://www.heatpumpcentre.org/


    Hi Paul. Too cold here for air-source. We are going ahead with our ground source this year, just waiting for the permit approvals to get started on the addition. My son just bought a farm not far from here. It has a 3 year old ground source WaterFurnace unit, very nice.

    Hi jr,

    You may be pleasantly surprised. The high efficiency Fujitsus and other models like it that employ inverter drives and R410A refrigerants continue to operate down to -15C. I pulled ten years worth of temperature data for London, Ontario and in 2007, there were a total of 97 hours when the temperature dropped to 15C or below (14 hours in January, 72 hours in February and 11 hours in March); assuming the heating season effectively spans October 1st through April 30th, that's a 98 per cent availability factor. In 2006, there were just seven hours when temperatures fell to -15C or below (two in February and five in March).

    A Fujitsu with a HSPF of 10.55 produces, on average, 3.1 kWh of heat for every kWh consumed. I believe Hydro One's residential rates are something in the order of $0.10 per kWh, so the cost per kWh of heat is just $0.032. For a homeowner that spends $2,000.00/year on electric heat, the operating cost of an air source heat pump with an HSPF of 10.55 would be $645.00 whereas a GSHP might with a COP of 4 would be $500.00 -- the difference in this case being less than $150.00 per year.

    In any event, air source heat pumps don't have to displace the home's entire heat demand to be cost-effective and whether an air source or ground source heat pump will prove to be the more economical option will be determined by a number of factors and the one that will likely carry the most weight is their respective upfront cost.


    Hmm, it's those 97 hours that's the issue though isn't it. I'd have to look into it more. I would also suspect the efficiency would drop the closer you get to -15. And it's not just the temp but the windchill that drops it even more for longer.

    Hmm, it's those 97 hours that's the issue though isn't it.

    I don't think so. For one, most of those hours fall overnight, so if homeowners turn down their heat while they sleep there may be little or no impact on overall performance. Secondly, a heat pump's HSPF rating reflects the total cost of operation including auxiliary heat, so backup heat is not some other cost that is tacked on after the fact.

    I would also suspect the efficiency would drop the closer you get to -15.

    Here again, the HSPF rating takes this into consideration. What's more important is that the heat pump be properly sized with respect to the expected load.

    And it's not just the temp but the windchill that drops it even more for longer.

    Wind chill will impact a home's heat loss, but the impact on the heat pump itself is negligible. Once more, if the heat pump is properly sized there should be no problem -- and remember, when comparing cost efficiency, a heat pump doesn't have to satisfy all demand; rather, only what is optimal in terms of total net benefit. $50.00/year in electric resistance heat may prove more cost effective than an additional $5,000.00 in added capacity.

    If you want to do this right, you need good data and you need to carefully evaluate a number of different scenarios.


    Maybe I missed something in my rush but are you aware 'fossil fuel kits' are also available ?

    R410A refrigerants

    Since this R requires special gauges etc. has that had any noticeable impact ?

    BTW. got my EPA Universal certification this week:-)

    Hi RBM,

    Congratulations on your certification! Definitely cause for celebration.

    I suspect most refrigeration technicians are up to speed with this new standard; the shift to R410A seems to be in full swing, or at least that's my impression. Is that your impression too?

    In terms of backup fuels, my oil-fired boiler has always carried the load, however, that will change this coming winter now that electric heat is less costly than fuel oil.


    I am sure the tech's are apprised.

    I have found this field to be similar to the information technology field - consistently
    changing !

    Hi RBM,

    Very true. I expect R410A to be largely replaced by R744 in the not too distant future, so there are more big changes yet to come. The great thing, of course, is that today's heat pumps are vastly superior to those available just five or ten years ago.

    Again, congratulation on your certification and best wishes for every success in your new career!


    As a side note, someone was complaining in another forum that a service tech had recommended he replace his twenty-five year old heat pump (seems the refrigeration lines are deteriorating badly) and this individual immediately assumed he was being scammed. I don't have any technical expertise in this area but that's never stopped me from voicing an opinion; here's part of the OP's original message and my two replies (please let me know if my thinking is off-base):

    Original Post
    >My townhouse has the original York Champion heat pump from 1983....

    >The service guy had been busy trying to sell me a new heat pump. That's
    >all they want to do. My two closest neighbors in this section still
    >have their original York heat pumps. They were just good units....

    My Initial Reply
    Separate from its physical condition, your system is twenty-five years old and likely well past its economic life. The SEER ratings of today's new units are double that of your current system, so your cooling costs could very well be a lot higher than they need be -- ditto your heating costs. Depending upon local climate, your home's heating and cooling loads and utility rates, it might make sense to replace your system now, especially if those rates are steadily moving upward.

    Heat pumps have advanced considerably over the past twenty-five years and in the last two to three years in particular. Again, you might want to take advantage of those gains now, especially if your current system is starting to show its age. Whatever you decide, good luck!

    Follow-up Reply
    Just to expand on my previous point. I don't know what you pay in heating and cooling costs now, but for argument's sake I'm going to assume it's something in the range of $1,200.00 a year. If a new heat pump can cut those costs in half (and a 50 per cent reduction is the bare minimum I would expect compared to a twenty-five year old system), your savings are $600.00 a year.

    If the cost of the replacement heat pump is $5,000.00, say, and your first year savings are $600.00, you will have earned a 12 per cent return on your investment. Furthermore, if electricity rates increase at a higher rate than either your cost of borrowing or the return you earn on your other investments, your financial gain continues to improve over time. Also bear in mind that you pay for electricity with after tax dollars, so the $600.00 you spend on additional utilities represents perhaps $800.00 or $900.00 in pre-tax income. And unlike other cash generating investments, your savings in utility costs are not taxable -- this money is all yours to keep or spend as you wish.

    Going forward, I expect electricity costs to move sharply higher and an investment like this greatly lessens your exposure to this upside risk. In addition, as someone else pointed out earlier, delaying your purchase by one or more years could hurt you badly -- copper prices have shot through the roof and so too freight and all the other expenses of running a business. These cost increases far exceed the rate of inflation and are ultimately borne by the consumer.

    If the numbers I've used above are fairly representative and you delay your purchase by just TWO years, your additional out-of-pocket expenses could exceed two thousand dollars. For example:

    1) forfeited electricity savings: $636.00 + $674.00 = $1,310.00 (assumes a 6% increase in years one and two)

    2) equipment and labour increases: $400.00 + $432.00 = $832.00 (assumes an 8 per cent increase in years one and two)

    The combined two-year loss in this example is $2,142.00 and that number doesn't include the cost of any future repairs.

    You say the service guy just wants to sell you a new system, presumably in your mind because he wants to make a quick or easy buck. Well, I can't speak to this individual's motivations, but I can tell you that keeping your current system could very well cost you a lot more than you realize and that rather than dismissing his advice outright, you should explore all options. As a final note, there are members of this group who are far more knowledgeable about these systems than me and would be happy to offer their own two cents; but please don't assume they're steering you in one direction or the other simply because of some hidden or ulterior motive. Again, good luck!

    This really needs to be taken on a case by case basis, where you live, new construction or retrofit, etc. For my new house ~2500 sqft. in Oklahoma, I looked at ground source and air source over a conventional system. Added cost for air source was about 1500$US added cost for ground was 4300$US, I went with the ground source for a few reasons. Mainly that even though the winters here aren't particularly harsh the ground source will not have to be augmented nearly as much as the air source would and the cooling works very well and I will be getting about 40% of my hot water needs for free. If I was doing a retrofit these number would change substantialy and I might have gone with air. My point is there is not and should not be one cookie cutter solution, take into account as many factors as you can and make your plans based on that information.

    Hi BadgerB,

    I agree; you really need to look at a whole range of factors. I often hear of folks who spend $30,000.00 or more on a GSHP and there's nothing wrong with that if that's what they truly want to do (I'd much rather they spend 30K on a GSHP than on a stupid, gas-guzzling SUV). But strictly in terms of their economic benefits, if you were to compare their ten-year net present values an air source heat pump is likely to be the winner nine times out of ten.


    Interesting to see that all the top 50 stocks recommended on this MSM stock picker are in the energy sector


    Hello TODers,

    First death of a massive watershed? Recall my earlier links on this topic--I wonder what the Govt plan is?-- I suggested mitigative migration to the north as my proposal:

    Low autumn flows sink Murray hopes

    ...One of the most critical environmental problems facing the basin is the exposure of acid sulphate soils as water levels fall.

    They can turn to sulphuric acid when exposed to the air, which in turn makes the water much more acidic, threatening the health of plants and animals.

    South Australian Minister for the River Murray and Water Security Karlene Maywald said Lake Albert, at the bottom of the Murray, was in a critical state due to acid sulphate soils.

    "We are going to see complete and utter ecological collapse unless we can raise the water level," she said.
    Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

    I've canoed and sailed on those lakes. One time to cross to the coastline you had to operate a hand operated winch to lower the fresh water level in a lock. I named a filly foal Tauwitchere after one such location. Now it's the reverse ie the sea level is above the lake. They also want to take out a lot of water 500km upstream for the mining industry..see Big Gav's article on desal.

    Despite a $A3bn buy-back of irrigation permits I think the lakes are doomed. A Biblical flood might restore them for a while but would do a lot of other damage. According to to some the answer is to burn more coal and gas to desalinate seawater.

    Water to Fuel BREAKTHROUGH!

    There is a slight hitch...


    Our "leaders" are a bunch of morons. The only thing that's difficult to figure out is who is more clueless, the Democrats or the Republicans. Why would we want to require 6 billion gallons of coal sourced fuel? Didn't we learn our lesson from mandating Ethanol? I thought Republicans were supposed to let the market figure things out.

    Problem is that Mr. Market has the foresight of an elephant's derriere. He knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.

    I thought Republicans were supposed to let the market figure things out.

    They do. They buy the government, policy, regulation and "law".

    The fallacy is that our current leaders have any interest in actually managing the country for the benefit of the general population. Even if they think in their hearts they are doing so in actuality they listen to the wishes of the largest campaign donors and to the blandishments (and checks) of lobbyists. The notion that government has to somehow take care of things also seems a little new. I suspect that "taking care of things" has always meant finding new ways to exploit resources, not figuring out how to get by with less. The exceptions perhaps being time of war such as when we had rationing in WWII.

    For those interested in converting a vehicle to electric:

    Plugged in: Bonny Doon business adapts cars to electric

    When Mike Brown and his wife Shari Prange were just starting their electric-automobile conversion business in 1979, they went weeks without a customer. In 1989, when they published "Convert It," a how-to guide for transforming a gasoline car to electric, the book sold 10 at a time.

    These days, they hardly have time to answer e-mail, National Public Radio has called for interviews and "Convert It" ships 150 per order.

    Take a cheap/old used car that needs a new engine, spend around $8000 to convert it.

    Hello TODers,

    Recall my earlier link where African commercial farmers, fed up with high input costs, shortages, and other hassles, basically parked their tractors to just grow enough acreage for their families:

    Food and fuel crunch: Farmers hit from all sides
    Recall that I think the Paradigm Shift will force 60-75% of the NA labor force to agricultural professions so that some job specialization is possible. The greater the postPeak degree of any attainable food surpluses, the less the scale and duration of machete' moshpits.

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

    are the edges of suburbia starting to crumble ?

    Housing Bubble Popped by Spike in Fuel Costs, New Analysis Shows Outlying Suburbs Hardest Hit With Devalued Real Estate


    the "study" appears to be anecdotal.

    this link might be less anecdotal:

    Canadian Pacific Seeks Growth From Alberta Oil-Sand Refineries

    ...Canadian Pacific is relying on cargo such as sulfur, coal, grain and fertilizers to increase revenue as a slowing U.S. economy damps demand for shipments of autos, lumber and construction materials.
    I wonder when the tipping point will be reached where the cascading blowbacks of foreclosed house resource looting plus termite-munching is greater that our attempts to to keep the suburbs viable? Will it be obvious when thieves find it profitable to dig up, then resell the buried natgas pipes, power lines, water and sewage piping?

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

    for example: what is the black market value of this pump vs buying new?


    Recall that water flows uphill to money, but it is difficult when the pump is gone. Hopefully, a municipal govt will declare a new, but foreclosed exurb as hopeless, then subterrainean harvest this very expensive equipment and expensive valve-castings before the thieves do.

    Things are totally normal as to housing here in East Texas. The local paper had a front page article this morning that said housing prices were up 5% last year in the county. SUV's still selling well.

    Outlying suburbs, or Exurbs, are indeed being hit. Business is slowly drying up and blowing away out here. Next to nothing is actually grown here (and I've been told to not get any ideas about growing things or any of that hippie nonsense here!) and everything is brought in by truck. The number of homeless out here is actually rather high, as a percentage of the population probably higher than San Francisco has. And we've got people leaving California etc and coming here, thinking this place has jobs, like it did 10 years ago. Many businesses downtown are for sale, all the major furniture stores have closed (thrift stores are still open and you can get nice furniture as the garage sales) and while on a day-to-day basis you don't see much change, it's really getting grim, looking at things over time.

    One indication is, people tell me the street musicians just aren't around like they usually are. Street musicians of course thrive on tips, and if there's less tourism, and locals are pinched for money, there are less tips.

    Long commutes, a way of life out here, are becoming expensive and as people lose jobs and have to try to find (generally lower paying) other jobs, it gets to the point where they're not making money at all. This is a large factor in why Food Stamps are also a way of life out here.

    I forget-- where is "here?" Sounds like the NW Coast of Oregon.

    I mentioned the other day that I am very excited about the slow 'news creep' of peak oil, as a legitimate concern, into the MSM. While it's not much, I think we should all take (some) comfort in the fact that it's at least being mentioned.

    Anyways, I just wanted to highlight the glimmer of hope embodied in this sentence:

    It sounds very much like what experts in the field call peak oil.

    Note that he said "experts in the field" [of oil] instead of 'peak oil theorists.' That's from the city editorial editor of my hometown Ottawa Citizen, who even bashed the city's dithering on light rail (which the paper has been largely opposed to). He brings up a couple concepts more than familiar to TODers, but I think the takeaway is that, as a PO aware editor he can influence his staff as well as coerce some of his staff to get 'on the beat.'

    Again, it's not much, but it's something.


    Methinks it's 'letter to the editor' time.

    P.S. I know we say it often, but I'd just like to thank Leanan again for this service since I completely missed that article in spite of being a subscriber to that newspaper... didn't miss the crossword and sudoku though :)

    Because I can't help but whore out the City of Ottawa, I thought I'd point out that TOD's good buddy James Howard Kunstler is speaking at the (re-tooled) Tulip Festival on Thursday May 8th at 8:00pm in the 'Mirror Tent' -- admission $20.

    The Tulip Festival this year (and, god-willing, in future) is going with a 'big ideas' theme and includes other speakers like Jared Diamond, Salman Rushdie, Richard Florida, Amy Chua, among others.

    Anyways if any of the readership are in the area it's something to check out. BTW, I used to work for the City AND the NCC but no longer, so I'm whoring for free.

    To those who know the Tulip Fest's history I'd like to offer the following memorial to it's past:


    They weren't joking.

    Wow. Just, wow. Firstly, I think about half of those speakers are on the Homeland Security sh*t list, so you'd never get that kind of conference in the US. Secondly, $20 is enough to keep most Americans out, most people just don't have that to spend these days. Good luck - I hope it goes well! It *does* sound like a great event, regardless of whether it's politically and financially impossible here in the Empire.

    Wow. Just, wow. Firstly, I think about half of those speakers are on the Homeland Security sh*t list, so you'd never get that kind of conference in the US. Secondly, $20 is enough to keep most Americans out, most people just don't have that to spend these days. Good luck - I hope it goes well! It *does* sound like a great event, regardless of whether it's politically and financially impossible here in the Empire.

    What if it's only being mentioned now in the MSM because it's HAPPENING NOW?
    And if it's happening now, it's too late for mitigation....

    Preparation is what one does BEFORE, mitigation is what we do after.

    Everything we do to adapt from this time forward is "mitigation". Including some doomer scenarios.

    Best Hopes for Fast & Effective Mitigation,


    Re: U.S. eyes shift away from corn based ethanol. Up top.

    I find it odd that some think farmers will plant a crop that is not a "food" crop (if animal feed is counted as food). I can't think of one. Maybe nursery stock or flowers.

    From a practical point of view, and farmers are practical above all else, no farmer is going to grow a crop that has only one use and no viable market. Those who think there are vast ranges of grass land and trees just for the taking if only cellulosic ethanol were perfected are dreaming. Grass and other possible ethanol feedstocks will be more expensive, not cheaper, than corn due to lack of infrastructure and their bulk.

    Labor, storage and transport charges will quickly make cellulosic ethanol non competitive. Already, total subsidies contemplated for cellulosic ethanol total over $1/gallon. Guess who will collect the subsidies: corn farmers who sell corn cobs instead of letting them decay in soil.

    That's why Sen. Grassley is going along with a reduction in the blenders credit. It will be made up in the cellulosic subsidy for corn cobs. Not only that, oil companies will have to buy more ethanol, not less, to receive the same tax benefit if the per gallon blenders credit is reduced.

    Does this make sense when corn ethanol subsidies are less? Of course not. Then who is pushing for it? It must be those who haven't got a clue about infrastructure and how important it is to have an efficient system in place to handle large volumes in a case like ethanol or gasoline for that matter.

    Currently Poet Ethanol is trying to get farmers to save corn cobs for use as ethanol feed stock. Good luck with that! Why should farmers who are receiving record high corn prices bother with a few dollars worth of corn cobs which are difficult and expensive to handle, let alone store? There is barely enough room to store $5 corn at harvest let alone nickle and dime corn cobs.

    Many elevators around here have huge outdoor storage piles of corn each fall. There are large weather loses from such, but it is cheaper than investing in storage bins. Ethanol feed stock can not be left outside or it will deteriorate and interfere with ethanol production. It will turn into manure if not protected and become worthless.

    Sen. Huchison is a spokesperson for the oil industry as much as Sen. Grassley is a spokesperson for ethanol. That she is repeating the anti ethanol propaganda so often heard at TOD, shows that the pain of low margins for oil refiners is getting unbearable.

    Not that ethanol refiners are doing any better. Oil companies can not increase oil production so to remain in business they need higher margins on oil refining.

    The plan is to put a stop to ethanol growth so that oil refining margins can be increased because of less competition. Higher gas prices are a foregone conclusion. But maybe that's a good thing. Ethanol prices should follow.

    I find it odd that some think farmers will plant a crop that is not a "food" crop (if animal feed is counted as food). I can't think of one. Maybe nursery stock or flowers.

    Flax. Tobacco. Ramie. Timber. Cotton. Hemp. Lavender.

    Before the fossil fuel fiesta, everything we used was either grown or mined.

    How about any of the 'drug' crops? Not food.

    California water officials: March, April driest on record

    The Sierra Nevada snowpack, a key source of California's water supply, has fallen well below normal levels after California experienced its driest two-month period on record, state water officials said today.
    Frank Gehrke, the snow survey chief at California's Department of Water Resources, said dry, sunny conditions in March and April melted what was an average snowpack earlier this year. In addition, soils parched from last year's drought are soaking much of the early snowmelt.
    The amount of water running into streams and reservoirs is only 55 to 65 percent of normal, according to the figures collected by the Department of Water Resources.

    That's one of the reasons federal and state water managers have reduced water exports so far this year.

    Water deliveries also have been cut to comply with a federal judge's order that limits pumping from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta by as much as 30 percent to protect the delta smelt, a threatened fish species.



    "My friends, I will have an energy policy that we will be talking about, which will eliminate our dependence on oil from the Middle East," McCain told a crowd of 300 at a Jewish Community Center in Denver.

    "That will prevent us from having ever to send our young men and women into conflict again in the Middle East."

    Does his plan starts with: "bomb, bomb, bomb"?

    Or is it another wonderful idea like ending gas tax? By the way, what a wonderful idea it is. It can't lower price of gas at pumps. Price is a method by which demand is matched with supply. Lower price will increase demand, but there is no extra supply, thus price will have to get back where it was before the end of gas tax. But now, these 8 cents per gallon (or whatever it is) will go to oil companies bottom line, rather then fund our tax base (for whatever purpose). Yet another great republican idea.

    Why do I see in my minds eye:
    Senator McCarthy told the Ohio county women's Republican Club that Secretary of State Dean Acheson knew the names of 205 people who were in his words still "working in and shaping the policy of the State Department".

    Or the plan that Ronald Reagan had to 'solve the budget' problem that Bush the Greater called 'voodoo economics'

    Thank you for the link Leanan - I do not know if I should laugh or cry. I suppose I can wait 'till this policy is seen.

    Speaking of Reagan, this is view of GW----
    'A moment I've been dreading. George brought his n'er-do-well son around
    this morning and asked me to find the kid a job. Not the political one who
    lives in Florida; the one who hangs around here all the time looking
    shiftless. This so-called kid is already almost 40 and has never had a real
    job. Maybe I'll call Kinsley over at The New Republic and see if they'll
    hire him as a contributing editor or something. That looks like easy work.'
    < BR>From The REAGAN DIARIES------entry dated May 17, 1986.

    Well, he did clarify. He meant the 1st gulf war. This one has nothing to do with oil, obviously. To think that oil could be any of the reason for going into Iraq is just nuts. Just pure luck our army is on top of those reserves and we happen to be peaking worldwide. What a coincidence, we had no idea!

    He meant the 1st gulf war. This one has nothing to do with oil, obviously.

    Kuwait was accused of slant drilling into oil fields Iraq felt they owned.

    Sounds like an oil reason to me.

    He was clearly generalizing to include all incursions into the middle east.

    From the republican party leadership, this kind of honesty is obviously a slip up and I'm sure you won't see McCain campaigning at any beaches this summer for fear the public might see the scars from the flogging Cheney gave him last night, thus resulting in another flogging.

    The price of gasoline around the world varied between twelve cents and over ten dollars per gallon.


    Some of the growth in oil consumption was from oil exporting nations where the level of national income was rising and the price of petrol was low. The United States and other OECD countries were in competition for limited supplies.