DrumBeat: May 7, 2008

Oil surges to new highs, dealers focus on diesel

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil prices rose 1.4 percent on Wednesday, extending further into record territory amid intensifying worries over tight world supplies of diesel fuel.

U.S. crude leapt $1.69 to settle at $123.53 a barrel, before hitting an all-time peak of $123.89. London Brent rose $2.01 to $122.32.

Crude prices have doubled in a year and risen sixfold since 2002 on rising demand from China and other developing countries, adding pressure to economies already hard hit by a housing and credit crunch.

U.S. President George W. Bush will ask the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to increase production when he visits Saudi Arabia next week, a senior White House official said, adding to a slew of recent calls from consumer nations for more oil from the cartel.

Big Oil Strike in Brazil has Tongues Wagging, but We Continue Towards Peak Oil

Since the 1980's, the world has discovered every year less oil than it has consumed, with the difference having been enlarged and reaching such an outrageous level in recent years that almost no-one wants to think about it. In recent years, despite a considerable increase in exploratory activity and the application of the most up-to-date quadra-dimensional seismic technology, annual discoveries amounted to between 4 and 6 times less than what was being consumed at the same time from known and proven reserves. That is, in the words of the geologist Mariano Marzo, we are pawning our grandmother's jewels in order to throw the proceeds away.

Drive out of poverty with a car

A good, reliable automobile can make the difference in getting up from the bottom, and some groups want to give a leg up.

...Despite car-ownership costs, including insurance, repairs and fuel, the majority of even the poorest Americans own cars, according to U.S. Census data - and for good reason. In this country, life without one can be difficult at best and unmanageable at worst.

Even cities with solid public transportation networks are set up to do one thing well: move people in and out of central business districts. "It takes a long time if you aren't doing exactly that," said Margy Waller, executive director of the policy research group Mobility Agenda.

And these days, she pointed out, the best jobs usually aren't in the center of the city.

Exxon lifts force majeure on Nigeria oil exports

LONDON/LAGOS (Reuters) - Exxon Mobil has lifted a force majeure on its crude oil exports from Nigeria, traders said on Wednesday.

All of Exxon's oil production in Nigeria, which averaged 800,000 barrels per day last year, were disrupted by a union workers' strike late in April. Output has since resumed.

Congress takes on gasoline prices

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Gas prices are expected to keep up their record rise this spring, soaring well past $4 a gallon in some areas. Now Congress wants to know what to do about it.

OPEC to earn over US$1-trillion on oil - Net earnings to leap 57% on record prices

WASHINGTON -- Thanks to record crude oil prices, OPEC members will likely earn over US$1-trillion this year from oil exports, according to the U.S. government's top energy forecasting agency.

Net oil export earnings from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries are forecast to skyrocket 57% from last year's US$674-billion to US$1.06-trillion this year and then decline to US$990-billion in 2009 after an expected contraction in oil prices, the Energy Information Administration said in its new forecast.

Russia and Vietnam oil firms win Siberian fields

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A consortium of Russian and Vietnamese state oil firms, ZarubezhNeft and PetroVietnam, has won a tender to develop four oil blocks in West Siberia, sources in the Russian firm and regional government said on Wednesday.

Economy of Clay

Moscow is flush with oil money. But the new President Dmitry Medvedev needs to do more than just redistribute it to bring his nation back to fiscal health.

Russia clears plan to boost Kazakh oil transit

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia said on Wednesday it had lifted its opposition to a plan to double the capacity of a Kazakh transit oil pipeline in a move to allow Chevron and other energy majors to boost exports via its territory.

France launches international wing of nuclear agency

PARIS (Reuters) - The French cabinet passed a decree on Wednesday allowing the country's Atomic Energy Commission to promote French nuclear expertise and safety standards globally.

The Commission's new international division will help other countries build nuclear power stations safely and without harming the environment, while ensuring the technology is not used for weapons, the government said in a statement.

Sask. energy minister warms to nuke plant idea

Saskatchewan Energy Minister Bill Boyd says he welcomes the possibility of his uranium-rich province, and not Alberta, being home to Western Canada's first nuclear power plant.

Canada faces Kyoto probe

OTTAWA – Canada could be barred from international carbon trading if a United Nations probe finds it broke Kyoto Protocol rules for greenhouse-gas reporting.

Gas Prices Expected to Peak in June

Analysts’ forecasts for the price of gasoline over the next few years run as high as $7 a gallon.

Rising cost of food is wreaking havoc on Central America

Much of Latin America has benefited from soaring global prices for agricultural commodities and petroleum. Venezuela and Mexico are flush with oil profits. Good times are rolling for soybean farmers in Argentina and Brazil.

But in Central America, a major importer of grain and oil, the price increases are wreaking havoc on already fragile economies. The region's presidents are slated to gather here today for an emergency summit on food security. Aid agencies are warning of rising social tensions in countries where a typical day's wages won't buy a gallon of gas and food inflation is breaking family budgets.

A minor inconvenience for Americans

Despite the fact that many countries still have most of their population in agriculture, they have such low farm productivity that they import much of their food supply. With basic foods making up more than half the expenditures of families in poorer countries, the doubling of prices puts a substantial strain on the incomes of the world's poorest. Thus the food riots in Haiti, Somalia and Yemen.

But the problem in these societies is not expensive food per se; it is their failure to experience the economic growth that would raise incomes and make food prices unimportant. Shipping subsidized food to these countries will not solve that long-term problem.

Liberalizing Food Trade to Death

Billions of people are struggling to afford food because of the huge disparities and inequalities that have been exacerbated by the current economic system -- neo-liberal globalization. Over the last 30 years, almost all states across the world have adopted neo-liberal economic policies. Neo-liberal policies have favored giant corporations' interests over those of people and have enabled a handful of companies to gain a virtual monopoly over the human food chain and make massive profits. The poor, however, have suffered consequences of neo-liberal policies: if people can't afford the prices these monopolistic companies charge, they don't get food.

Romania: Farmland prices set to triple due to rising food prices

The soaring prices of agricultural products in recent months have raised investors' interest in cultivating grain on ever-larger areas, which is driving up the price of agricultural land.

At present, the average price per one hectare of agricultural land stands at 1,500 euros and players in the field say this is going to triple in the next three years.

It's a small-car world

Automakers are working on a new generation of ultra-tiny cars. And some of them could make it to the U.S.

APTA asking N.B. to cut tax on diesel by 10 cents

DIEPPE, N.B. -- The executive director of the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association is calling on the provincial government to provide relief from rising fuel costs by trimming tax on diesel by at least a dime a litre.

Public water, privately bottled profits

On April 7, more than 1,500 villagers defied a police cordon and marched to Coca-Cola's bottling plant in Mehdiganj village, Varanasi, in Uttar Pradesh state, demanding that the company immediately shut down its bottling plant. In January, the New Delhi-based Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) advised Coca-Cola to shut a bottling plant in the drought-stricken state of Rajasthan.

Congress considers the steel penny

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Further evidence that times are tough: It now costs more than a penny to make a penny. And the cost of a nickel is more than 7 1/2 cents.

Surging prices for copper, zinc and nickel have some in Congress trying to bring back the steel-made pennies of World War II, and maybe using steel for nickels, as well.

Kasane imposes fuel ban on Zimbabweans

VICTORIA FALLS: Zimbabwean fuel dealers in Victoria Falls are in a quandary after Botswana immigration officials at Kasane Border Post banned the cross-border traders from importing fuel from Botswana last week.

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn: Energy - Near-term Relief, Long-term Security

The U.S. is now transitioning from reliance on fossil fuels to a broader-based energy supply that will include increased solar, wind, biofuel, nuclear, coal conversion and other sources. We need all of this supply. Both government and private industry are spending billions of dollars annually to promote this change, and speed it along.

But for the next decades, oil, gas and coal will remain the dominant source of energy generation. The free market could likely provide those supplies through new exploration-but the federal government has prevented that from happening.

Should We Drive 55 MPH?

"We get this question all the time," said Bernie Arseneau, Minnesota's top traffic engineer with the Department of Transportation. "Current law says speed limits should be safe and reasonable. Lower speeds don't necessarily equate to safer speeds."

According to Arseneau, research indicates that when the government sets a speed lower than the reasonable speed the road was designed to handle, a "small percentage obeys the limit no matter what. The rest drive what they feel is comfortable."

In other words, a large percentage of people ignore the artificially low speed limits. The end result of that is a minor improvement in fuel conservation and a higher risk of crashes.

Myanmar lifts fuel import ban after storm

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Myanmar's military government has lifted a ban on private companies importing fuel to try to ease a chronic energy shortage in the wake of Cyclone Nargis, a Yangon-based diplomat said on Wednesday.

Uganda: Long Queues As Fuel Shortage Persists

THE fuel shortage in Kampala and other parts of the country has persisted for a second week, leaving several filling stations dry. There were long queues of motorists at many of the city filling stations yesterday.

East Africa is facing an acute shortage because a big ship, carrying diesel, broke down at the high sea and had to be sent back to the Gulf for repair.

Petrobras Hiring 14,000 Geologists, Oil Rig Workers

(Bloomberg) -- Petroleo Brasileiro SA, Brazil's state- controlled oil company, plans to add 14,000 engineers, geologists and drillers within three years as it develops the biggest crude discovery in the Western Hemisphere since 1976.

Petrobras, as the company is known, plans to expand its workforce 23 percent to about 74,000, surpassing Chevron Corp., the second-largest U.S. oil producer. The hiring binge is part of a $112.7 billion expansion that may allow Brazil to overtake the output of all OPEC members except Saudi Arabia.

Pemex Says Fire Shuts Refinery Unit, Injures Workers

(Bloomberg) -- Petroleos Mexicanos, the state-owned oil company, said a leak and fire at its refinery in Guanajuato state forced the shut down of a lubricant-making unit and injured two workers.

OTC: Technology key to Mexico's future oil production

With subsalt plays and poor recovery efficiency for existing fields, Mexico needs improved oil recovery and innovative technology to help extend the productive life of its reservoirs, Ley stressed. Operators are finding Mexico's fractured reservoirs challenging because they are difficult to characterize, model, and simulate. "We need a new generation of reservoir simulators," he said.

Selectboard cuts Peak Oil Task Force

BRATTLEBORO -- After thanking the Peak Oil Task Force for a job well done, the Selectboard disbanded the group with the caveat it might call on the members to pursue mitigation strategies to reduce the town's dependence on fossil fuels and cut down on its production of greenhouse gases.

Michael J. Economides - Oil at $120: Here's Why

I have no aversion to wind or solar. I love the sun, I am Greek. But they are eminently unreliable and, even in their best case, without government subsidies, they make $200 to $2000 oil still attractive. It is that simple.

...There are no alternatives to fossil fuels for decades to come and the transition will be long and painful. We will continue to be a fossil-fuel dependent economy for the foreseeable future. To boot, the US imports now almost 70 percent of 21 million barrels per day of oil demand. Hugo Chavez, Vladimir Putin and Mahmoud Ahmedinejad have noticed.

Newt Gingrich - My Plea to Republicans: It's Time for Real Change to Avoid Real Disaster

...Here are nine acts of real change that would begin to rebuild the American people's confidence that Republicans share their values, understand their worries, and are prepared to act instead of just talk. The Republicans in Congress could get a start on all nine this week if they had the will to do so.
1. Repeal the gas tax for the summer, and pay for the repeal by cutting domestic discretionary spending so that the transportation infrastructure trust fund would not be hurt. At a time when, according to The Hill newspaper, Senator Clinton is asking for $2.3billion in earmarks, it should be possible for Republicans to establish a "government spending versus your pocketbook" fight over cutting the gas tax that would resonate with most Americans. Lower taxes and less government spending should be a battle cry most taxpayers and all conservatives could rally behind.

2. Redirect the oil being put into the national petroleum reserve onto the open market. That oil would lower the price of gasoline an extra 5 to 6 cents per gallon, and its sale would lower the deficit.

3. Introduce a "more energy at lower cost with less environmental damage and greater national security bill" as a replacement for the Warner-Lieberman "tax and trade" bill which is coming to the floor of the Senate in the next few weeks (see my newsletter next week for an outline of a solid pro-economy, pro-national security, pro-environment energy bill). When the American people realize how much the current energy prices are actually a "politicians' energy crisis" they will demand real change in our policies.

How to Get Cheap Gas

The good news is that prices for oil and gasoline are made on the margins — if America cuts its oil use by 10% or even 5%, that should send the price lower ... maybe a lot lower.

After all, 5% of the 20.6 million barrels we use every day is about 1 million barrels per day. That's more than the current spare capacity on the global market.

So let me tell you what we need to do to get there — and I'll start by saying you aren't going to like it.

Disruptions In Oil Supply May Extend Price Rise

"May is the lowest-demand month of the year, so it's really important that we see some buildup of stocks ahead of the summer," said Adam Robinson, an oil analyst at Lehman Brothers. "And here you have a couple of factors chipping away at that seasonal cushion."

Kyrgyzstan Imposes Another Limit on Power Supply to Population

Bishkek: Another limit has been imposed on the supply of electricity to the population in Kyrgyzstan, says a press release circulated today by the Severelektro [North Electricity] company, which is engaged in power supply to the northern districts of Kyrgyzstan.

From now on, the supply of electricity to the houses and flats of residents living in population centres in Chuy and Talas regions as well as in the Kyrgyz capital will be suspended not only from midnight to 0600 hours in the morning but also from 1300 to 1800 hours local time.

School district's conservation efforts paying off after rate hike

The Juneau School District is estimating that efforts it took to conserve energy before last month's avalanches caused electric rates to rise sharply could save between $60,000 to $100,000 during the city's energy crisis.

...Means said the changes the district enacted last year were simple, such as using less light for school spaces that aren't in use.

NASA scientist to receive Scripps' Nierenberg Prize

LA JOLLA: James E. Hansen, a NASA scientist who says the Bush administration attempted to censor his warnings about the perils of global warming, will be honored tomorrow night at 7 at the Forum Theater of the La Jolla Playhouse at the University of California San Diego.

The Scripps Institution of Oceanography will give Hansen its 2008 Nierenberg Prize for Science in the Public Interest. Hansen will receive a bronze medal and a $25,000 award.

Analyst sees oil surging to $200

Jim Burkhard, global oil group managing director for Boston-based Cambridge Energy Research Associates, said his firm released a "break point scenario" (one of three predictions based on events) in late April that envisioned oil at $150 US.

"There are many similarities with what we're seeing today," he said.

"In an environment with little spare capacity, with sluggish oil supply growth, momentum builds toward ever higher oil prices."

Survey shows rise in U.S. honey bee deaths

SAN FRANCISCO - A survey of bee health released Tuesday revealed a grim picture, with 36.1 percent of the nation's commercially managed hives lost since last year.

Last year's survey commissioned by the Apiary Inspectors of America found losses of about 32 percent.

Gasoline powered robot

Peak oil is a concept crated by Luddites and fear-mongers who invariably want to change everyone’s behavior to what they consider a more moral and virtuous pattern. Me, I think there is nothing more beautiful than a soccer mom loading her kids into a big safe SUV and driving around town in order to maximize her choices in food, clothing, education and work. I’ll take freedom and choice over living in a cave any day. So the BS about peak oil is that it is a straw man—some absurd concept that does not really prove any valid point.

The Rising Price Of Gas: Will Old Tech Habits Last?

So if folks will be using their cars less often, and commuting less time per use on average, why would they want to load them up with lots of electronics gadgets? Couple that with a decreased per capita automobile statistic going forward, and I think you'll understand the underpinnings of my opinion. To be clear, I remain highly optimistic about the under-hood and within-chassis stuff...monitoring and control of the engine, brake system, clutch and transmission...along with the incremental technology needed to service the inevitable transition to hybrid and alternative fuel-based vehicles. But all the cockpit toys? Label me highly skeptical.

Back to the future with fuel prices?

I don’t know of anyone who still cans peaches, and very few who tend a vegetable garden.

And do they still build fruit cellars in new houses?

Yet according to Lance Meredith, the co-ordinator of the Chatham-Kent Oil Age Planning Group, most Canadians will be forced to turn to their own vegetable gardens and to more “local food” in the not-too-distant future, as high fuel prices make it more costly to import food from great distances.

Fiction review: Prescient 'World Made by Hand'

"World Made by Hand" is far from a typical postapocalyptic novel. It caters neither to a pseudo-morbid nor faddishly slick vision of the future. Though grim with portent, it is ultimately, as Camus' novel "The Plague," an impassioned and invigorating tale whose ultimate message is one of hope, not despair.

Monsanto Company and Mendel Biotechnology Announce Cellulosic Biofuels Collaboration

Mendel and Monsanto have worked together on the development of biotechnology traits for more than a decade in many crops, including corn, soy, cotton and canola. In this new collaboration, the two companies will apply Monsanto's expertise in crop testing, breeding and seed production to perennial grass seed varieties Mendel is developing for use in biofuels and other commercial applications.

No Drop in Oil Demand Seen

Oil prices pushing well past $100 a barrel will do little to stop worldwide demand, said the economics chief of the International Energy Agency, which advises 27 member countries.

Subsidies in China, India and oil-producing countries will combine with strong economic growth in those areas to support demand even with prices rising, Fatih Birol of the IEA told a panel at the energy industry's Offshore Technology Conference in Houston. That prospect runs counter to history, he said.

Georgia says "very close" to war with Russia

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Russia's deployment of extra troops in the breakaway Georgian region of Abkhazia has brought the prospect of war "very close", a minister of ex-Soviet Georgia said on Tuesday.

...Georgia, a vital energy transit route in the Caucasus region, has angered Russia, its former Soviet master with which it shares a land border, by seeking NATO membership.

Iraq March Oil Revenue Up 12% On Month At $5.644 Billion - Ministry

AMMAN -(Dow Jones)- Revenues from Iraq's oil sales rose 12% in March despite Iraq exporting more crude oil in February, oil ministry figures seen by Dow Jones Newswires Wednesday show.

World may be heating quickly: scientist

Climate change is happening faster than predicted and the world could be as much as seven degrees hotter by the end of the century, a CSIRO scientist says.

New Australian research showed current policies did not go far enough to manage the risks posed by climate change, according to Dr Roger Jones, a climate risk analyst with CSIRO's energy transformed flagship.

Flood risk fear over key UK sites

Hundreds of UK power substations and water treatment plants are potentially at risk from flooding, a confidential government study suggests.

Israeli President Sees Eco-Fuel Fighting "Terror"

JERUSALEM - Israeli President Shimon Peres on Monday hailed his country's new weapon against the threat of "terrorism" from its Middle East neighbours -- the electric car.

Palm oil wiping out key orangutan habitat: activists

JAKARTA (AFP) — One of the biggest populations of wild orangutans on Borneo will be extinct in three years without drastic measures to stop the expansion of palm oil plantations, conservationists said Wednesday.

"For Central Kalimantan, the species will be gone as soon as three years from now," Centre for Orangutan Protection director Hardi Bhaktiantoro told a press conference.

Indonesia adopts stringent "green" palm oil standard

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia, the world's biggest palm oil producer, plans to take firm measures aimed at ensuring palm oil firms meet stringent standards before labeling their products as eco-friendly, an industry watchdog said on Wednesday.

The rapidly expanding palm oil industry in Southeast Asia has come under attack by green groups for destroying rainforests and wildlife, as well the emission of greenhouse gases.

Germany Defends Biofuels, Hedges Bets on Energy Goals

Germany cannot reach its climate change goals unless it dedicates land to growing biofuels, Germany's agriculture minister Horst Seehofer said after talks in Berlin on Tuesday, May 6. Seehofer defended biofuels against growing criticism that they are responsible for food prices increasing globally, which has caused rioting and hunger in developing countries.

Some See Oil At $150 a Barrel This Year

"It's not that the genie is out of the bottle -- it's that 100 genies are out of the bottle," said Daniel Yergin, chairman of Cambridge Energy Research Associates. Normally known for optimistic forecasts of lowering oil prices, Mr. Yergin's firm now says the price could rise to $150 a barrel this year.

The world's diminished spare production capacity remains the strongest single catalyst for high prices, Mr. Yergin says. The world's safety cushion -- the amount of readily available oil that could be pumped in a moment of crisis -- is now around two million barrels a day, according to most estimates. That's just 2.3% of daily demand, and nearly all of the safety cushion is in one country, Saudi Arabia. Everyone else is pretty much pumping all they can, which makes the world vulnerable to political or other shocks.

Oil prices bubble under 122 dollars per barrel

LONDON (AFP) - World oil prices neared record levels close to 122 dollars per barrel on Wednesday as traders awaited a crucial weekly update on American energy reserves amid concern about tight global supplies.

New York's main oil futures contract, light sweet crude for June delivery, eased ten cents to 121.74 dollars, after hitting a lifetime peak of 122.73 dollars on Tuesday.

The price of London's Brent North Sea crude for June delivery gained seven cents to 120.38 dollars. The contract had struck a historic pinnacle of 120.99 on Tuesday.

Obama Ready To Lead On Day -261: Nigerian Cease Fire And Oil Impacts

What is MEND? Why is there so much violence in the Niger delta? And why should we care?

There's an excellent primer on the situation over at The Oil Drum, a site devoted to discussing resource depletion in general and peak oil in particular. In March of 2007, Jeff Vail wrote a piece titled "Nigeria: Energy Infrastructure Firestorm."

Japan, China tout progress on gas feud at summit

TOKYO (Reuters) - The leaders of Japan and China touted progress towards settling a feud over energy rights in the East China Sea on Wednesday, and agreed at a summit in Tokyo that peaceful cooperation between the two Asian powers was their "only option."

UK: Who is to blame for the soaring oil price?

With the oil price above $100 a barrel, who makes the most money out of a gallon of petrol at the pump? Is it:

A. Greedy oil companies.
B. Greedy Opec members.
C. Our glorious Government.

Soaring oil price could drive 'weaker airlines' out of business

The soaring oil price will drive "weaker" rivals out of business, easyJet claimed this morning, despite seeing its own losses treble over the last six months.

With oil hitting a new record of $122 a barrel yesterday, and Goldman Sachs forecasting it could hit $200 a barrel this year, easyJet predicted carnage in the airline industry.

Militants in Nigeria oil area seek mediation by Jimmy Carter

LAGOS, Nigeria - The main militant group in Nigeria's oil-rich southern region said Tuesday that it is willing to cease hostilities if the federal government agrees to mediation by Jimmy Carter.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta said the former U.S. president had accepted their invitation to help negotiate an end to the long-running conflict that has disrupted petroleum exports and contributed to the sharp rise in oil prices.

Russians face double-digit gas, power, railway price hikes

Russia's Cabinet yesterday cleared double-digit price rises for gas, power and railway services for this year and the next three years, ignoring inflation fears and public discontent. State-capped prices in some sectors will rise as high as 40% per year.

Oil 'Choke Point' Nears

As oil blasted to a new record above US$122 a barrel yesterday, a new report suggests a "choke point" of US$150 a barrel could slam growth in the United States and cause a rout in stocks similar to the early 1980s energy crunch.

High inflation in Kuwait a national challenge

KUWAIT CITY - Central Bank governor Sheikh Salem Abdulaziz al-Sabah warned on Wednesday that oil-rich Kuwait was faced with a "national challenge" after inflation hit 9.5 percent in January.

Sheikh Salem called for "coordination in various national economic policies to curb rising inflation," in a statement carried by the official KUNA news agency.

"Inflation constitutes a national challenge and was the result of local and foreign factors," he said.

'Lazy, short-sighted and irresponsible'

A leaked government memo to British MEPs about how the UK plans to reach the EU's ambitious target of increasing its use of renewables in energy consumption tenfold to 15% by 2020 from the current 1.5% has provoked anger and disbelief among green campaigners.

"Lazy, short-sighted and irresponsible," is how Caroline Lucas, Green MEP, describes it.

Family Science Project Yields Surprising Data About a Siberian Lake

Although it is known that warming is more intense at high latitudes, as in the Baikal area, and that water is warming in other major lakes, including Lake Tahoe in Nevada and Lake Tanganyika in central Africa, many scientists had thought that Lake Baikal’s enormous volume and unusual water circulation patterns would buffer the effects of global warming.

Instead, the researchers report, surface waters in Lake Baikal are warming quickly, on average by about 0.4 degrees Fahrenheit every decade. At a depth of about 75 feet, the increase is about 0.2 degrees per decade, they say, enough to jeopardize species “unable to adapt evolutionarily or behaviorally.”

Australia's koalas threatened by global warming: study

SYDNEY (AFP) - Australia's koalas are threatened by global warming because higher temperatures and increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could cripple their food supply, new research showed Wednesday.

Green movement forgets its politics

Organisations campaigning on climate change need to learn the lessons of the anti-slavery and anti-apartheid movements. By focusing on individuals rather than governments, initiatives such as the recent Energy Saving Day are bound to fail in their bid to reduce emissions.

Climate link with killer cyclones spurs fierce scientific debate

PARIS (AFP) - Climate scientists have begun to debate whether global warming is producing more powerful storms, after Nargis smashed into Myanmar -- brutally changing gear from a Category One to a Category Four cyclone just before it made landfall.

Nagris wasn't an isolated incident: Hurricane Katrina laid waste to parts of the US Gulf Coast in 2005.

And in 2007, super-cyclone Gonu the Arabian peninsula was hit by a super-cyclone, Gonu.

Are these events -- massively costly in lives and treasure -- all linked?

Could they be part of an alarming trend of weird, more powerful storms stoked by global warming?

Daniel Yergin/CERA call for $150 oil??


Does this mean we have to change the definition of a "Yergin"?

And clear a spot in the Cornucopian Cemetery for him?

How can Yergin have any credibility anymore? Why don't they quote someone like Colin Campbell or Ken Deffeyes or David Goodstein - folks who have been right all along? Also, how come on the NBC Nightly News or CBS Evening News they rarely, if ever, have a graph of world oil discoveries or world oil production or world population? Why does the mainstream media continue to do such a poor job even as the situation grows more and more dire? Just rhetorical questions . . .

Hi skip,

Yergin has NO cred. Stop viewing msm. Matter-o-fact, stop watching msm anything. Your head's in the right place. Msm is a tool. Bad tool. Scripted. Your heart will send you messages..."sumpin just don't seem right here"...because something ain't right here. Msm newz is nothing more than infotaintment. And lousy at that. No info, lotsa taint. Turn your TV OFF.


Hi Jeff,

You're right. I should turn the TV off (except for the News Hour with Jim Lehrer).


You're right. I should turn the TV off (except for the News Hour with Jim Lehrer).

Sing it brutha! One thing I can recommend is on air HD-TV. Because of it's mandate by congress, most PBS stations have been broadcasting over the air in digital for some time and the News Hour is filmed in HD. I have an HD TV card for my PC and since the News never looked so good! The one problem is that if you have weak signal, it's much worse than watching regular analog TV because you don't just get a bad picture, you get a picture only occasionally.

PBS & NPR have also been quietly corrupted. I admit I still listen to NPR sometimes, but often as not I find myself shouting at the obvious bias, distortions, omissions, and outright lies. To some extent it is more insidious, because people who would not otherwise pay attention to the MSM still believe it to be trustworthy.

NPR could be saved, I think. But it would have to get rid the propaganda chorus called "Marketplace"... which is about the worst excuse for business journalism imaginable. My wife firmly believes that Kai Ryssdal is an actor. "It's not his fault" she always tells me when I reach for the mute button, "he's just reading his script."


NPR started going down-hill as soon as they brought in Kevin Klose to be president. His former job really was spreading propaganda: he used to be the in charge of radio free europe broadcasting the wonders of capitalism to the former communists: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=2101415

I noticed right about this time NPR stopped running so much news and started running things like sports and fashion.

Moyers was on Democracy Now! today, and talked about his NPR experiences a bit.


AMY GOODMAN: It’s great to have you with us. Bill, let’s start with the latest news. Today in Washington, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is expected to vote on the president of their corporation. The person who is considered the favorite pick of the Chair, Kenneth Tomlinson, is Patricia de Stacy Harrison, State Department official, before that co-chair of the Republican National Committee. Your response.

BILL MOYERS: I don’t know her, but I think it’s a serious mistake to put in charge of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting a partisan, whether Democratic partisan or Republican partisan. It undermines the credibility of Public Broadcasting. It accentuates the effort of the appearance that the right wing is succeeding finally after 30 years of trying to eliminate Public Broadcasting. If they can’t eliminate it, they’re going to control it with their partisan operatives. It’s a very serious inside job.

All the attacks on Public Broadcasting in the past have come from outside. They’ve come from the Nixon White House, from Newt Gingrich when he was Speaker of the House, and they’ve been rebuffed because the Corporation for Public Broadcasting was led by principled Democrats and Republicans who took seriously their job of resisting pressure from Congress and the White House to influence Public Broadcasting. They can’t do that anymore. Now this is an inside job. Kenneth Tomlinson is there as an ally of Karl Rove to help make sure that Public Broadcasting doesn’t report the news that they don’t want reported. Miss Harris is a Republican partisan. She will work from the inside also to make sure our system is politicized.

EDIT: I guess that should read CPB and PBS

I used to listen to NPR nearly on a daily basis. I have gradually stopped listening over the past 5 or 6 years. I now listen perhaps once a month, if that - and only for a few minutes (after that I get nauseous). It's the machine's dumbing down of America. Its monotone self-righteousness and fluffy distortions cause the masses to sleepwalk into stupidity - floating on the clouds of self-delusion into the plastic happiness of never-neverland. I mean who really listens to that crap.


Yeah, I agree with your sentiment. Even NPR, PBS. and CPB, (is cpb in charge of those two?) are just a skoshe above the netwerx. Might as well be the 5th network. Well, f*ck 'em, we have the web and places like this. I'm going up to the top of my building and throwing my TV onto the pavement, and I'm gonna film it too. jokuhl, I'll send you copy to play with.


Or maybe he has recently understood how it all is linked together – plain and simple. In MSM they use the phrase Peak Oil straight forward nowadays – even without thong in cheek. Just a few months back MSM referred to Peak Oil as “a theory” …. “Claimed by those so-called peaksters” .. The times are changing f_a_s_t

(but is there room for forgivness for Yergin? Sure NO! He has been lying all the way to benefit himself , ONLY)

"Thong in Cheek" Now thats an image that really stands out.

Wikipedia thong entry

c'omon triphop, I had such thongs in my mind ! :-)

Paal, I have to say that my thongs are better than your thongs.

Yes they are ! And sometimes I find English complicated ( just heaps of random letters - one placed after another)

But not so many letters as with degraded/simplified Icelandic.


I think we can call this a "Yergin Inversion"

Yergin inflation. The currency is debased.

Yergin re-valuation.

Just be sure to state "new Yergins" or "old Yergins" when discussing exchange rates.

I'm thinking we should treat them the same way. Based on Yergin's previous predictions, we should expect to see $300/bbl within the next two years. I'll guess December 30th 2009.

How about the great Yergin CYA? This guy has been so wrong, his cred as an oil oracle devastated, now he hedges with his '100 genies.' What I want to know is who is going to hold him accountable for his irresponsible research?

One other point -- that situation Russia vs Georgia is bad. Potential flash-point written all over it.

Daniel Yergin, March 14th, 2008, WSJ ECO:nomics conference:

The “peak-oil” debate returned on the final day of The Wall Street Journal’s “ECO:nomics” conference, politely pitting a reluctant oil-industry worrier, Christophe de Margerie, head of France’s Total SA, against Daniel Yergin, head of bullish Cambridge Energy Research Associates. The question they hashed out: What does a $110-a-barrel price say about the supply of oil?

Mr. Yergin’s view: Not much that’s fundamental. Today’s high price is “not about the supply and demand of oil, it’s about the supply and demand of dollars,” Mr. Yergin said, citing a “flight to commodities” by investors skittish about the credit-market crunch. That shift is artificially inflating the price of oil as a hedge against inflation and a weak dollar, he said.

“This is the fifth time we’ve run out of oil,” he deadpanned, recounting past ostensible crises in the industry and talking up his company’s big database of global oil information. “With the data, you don’t see a peak.” CERA currently thinks the new ceiling of global oil production is 105 million barrels a day, and that’s only because personnel and equipment shortages are delaying new projects.

Daniel Yergin, May 7th, 2008, WSJ, Some See Oil At $150 a Barrel This Year

The world's diminished spare production capacity remains the strongest single catalyst for high prices, Mr. Yergin says.

It does appear that Yergin is in the process of pivoting.

They can't use the dollar sound-bite anymore. Oil has gone from $107 to $122 in the timeframe when the dollar has rallied from 1.6 per Euro to 1.535 per Euro. So a 12% rise in oil vs a 3% RISE in dollar.

Next sound-bit is likely to be 'those damn kids on theoildrum'...

G-d, this pisses me off. Yergin has no one holding him accountable...not even his own freaking conscience. Dastard (look it up...).

And if it ever becomes a Scooby Doo moment like that Nate, that is when we will know that it's over.

Cut the guy some slack.....

Maybe Yergin is finding that his CFO customers, p****d-off with making strategy decisions based on wildly-inaccurate CERA forecasts, are no longer willing to stump up large wads of wonga for them.

He's just like the rest of us - needs to make a living, if he wants to hang on to his McMansion and his V8 commute-mobile. He's beginning to understand, because his livelihood no longer depends on not understanding....

Regards Chris


Enjoy the moment.

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you...
then you win.

It's a tough moment to enjoy though.

I don't revel in the people who are going to suffer over this, I don't revel in the idea that the people who have voices and resources just think this adaptation will occur without pain to the common populace, and lastly, I don't revel in the sheer lack of critical thinking that surrounds this problem in government and in our polity.

Other than that, I am jumping up and down gleefully.

Not asking for revelation. Asking that we appreciate an important moment. CERA is done. The lying is over. We can move forward.

Gandhi's genius was his attitude about winning. Despising Yergin is easy. But Yergin was just symptomatic of social inertia. If it were not him playing the joker, another would have been used.

The people with "voices and resources" KNOW what's ahead. Yergin can embarrass them to action... but only if he continues to recant. There's nothing more powerful than a liar admitting the truth. Yergin is Saul. He is on the road to Damascus.

Who, us? We're just peak-oil pranksters.

Or, as Phil Flynn likes to call us, "peak freaks." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQ_5S0bbjwU

Here's a new one. It's one of the best ones yet.

Oil Rises to Record as U.S. Productivity Gain May Boost Demand.

However, from an earlier article:

U.S productivity unexpectedly accelerated in the first quarter, helping combat inflation, as job cuts meant the remaining employees did more work.

Basically, they're arguing that people losing their jobs is going to increase demand for oil.

Idiots. TPTB need to get themselves some better stooges.

I saw this one earlier. Everyday at Bloomberg is a new laugh.


I saw your point of concomitant oil and dollar rally noted in a MSM story tonight looking for a reason for today's price. Some may wake up.

The way they inserted Yergin nearly floored me, reads almost as if he's an old hand predicting high prices.

"I understand there are macro factors at play as well. Global supply disruptions and geopolitics, limited spare capacity and increasing extractions costs are the factors Cambridge Energy Research Associates chairman and CNBC contributor Dan Yergin thinks could take oil prices to $150 a barrel."


All oil blends at http://www.upstreamonline.com/market_data/?id=markets_crude are now trading above 3 Yergins.

CERA has a conference coming up. Oh, to be a fly on the wall..

westexas to predict oil prices at $300 a barrel in 5, 4, 3, ....

Or is it $75 oil ?

Confused in New Orleans,



Yes, I agree. I'm so used to being a contrarian that I'm having a hard time accepting this. I wouldn't be suprised if they drop back down for some reason like recession.

Alan don't be confused. The present volatility of oil prices is only the beginning. It may as well drop to $75, to rebound to $750 shortly thereafter.

What is true is that the ongoing run up will not be without zig zags. But short of total collapse, worldwide, it's hard to imagine $75 ever being seen again. One reason is that $100 would be a point to buy and hoard til the run up resumes. Only total collapse could prevent that from working, IMO.

I was hoping it'd drop to 95 or so for a week so I could take a new step and buy a future or two. You can't get cheap far-off call options on crude anymore.

Wonder why?

Actually, my prediction for a while has been a geometric progression--$50, $100, $200, $400. . .

The only real question is the time period between the doublings.

The Yergin Indicator suggests that oil prices will trade at about twice Yergin's predicted price within a year or two of his prediction (in the summer of 2007 he predicted that oil prices in 2008 would be back down to $60, without a geopolitical event).

The only real question is the time period between the doublings.

Not to be picky, but once you say that, you no longer (except in the case of equal intervals) have exponentiality (geometric)! (You are guaranteed monotonic increasing -- meaning no dips.)

But your point is, IMO, valid, unfortunately.

There is something wrong with that 'gas gauge'.

The rise in US petrol prices from a March a year ago is something around 15% (92p to 105p), not 26%. That's part of the point of high taxes, the price rises are damped.

I think you mean UK petrol prices

Oops, yes.

Rather than a gauge it would be nice to see them plot price against %age rise. Then people might work out how high taxes can be a good thing.

But it is a COOL graphic!

It's very hard to say whether this means $450 oil coming this year, as per past predictions, or $10 oil.

These people really are laughable in how they follow trends, who is still paying for their 'predictions'????

Kevin Drum expresses his surprise:

Saying Daniel Yergin is an optimist is like saying Chris Matthews is annoying. Yergin basically thinks peak oil is Luddite crankery and that new technology will allow us to continue increasing production for at least the next several decades. He's the Pollyanna of the oil patch.

Kevin Drum has been one of the rare liberal political bloggers who has been following peak oil for awhile. I usually check his blog, http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/, daily.

Is this a spin-off? The Kevin Drum

C'mon you guys, I can't believe you didn't go for that one and I had to catch it on PDT zone.

Or is it that cheesy?

The article states:

"At the pump, $150 oil translates into gasoline prices of more than $4.50 a gallon"

I thought the old rule of thumb translated $1 retail gas for each $25 WTI barrel increment. Is this out the window, or didn't it apply at these higher crude prices. I keep thinking that our current retail gas must catch up to $120 crude once refining margins come back.

You'd think Yergin's days are over. He's gone from a peaker to cornucopian and now back. Which way is the wind blowing? He's been so comically incorrect you wondered how he ever kept getting quoted.

Any comments on the 1 to 25 rule of thumb?

Told the Yergin story at dinner. My son asked me if Yergin discovered the earth was round today too.

He must have been the energy adviser on Kerry's presidential campaign.

FTR, I didn't really like the flip-flop BS and I don't have a party affiliation. Wait! I'm not even American so I can't vote... I'll be darned.

You have to multiply his predictions by 2. $300 oil is on the way.

With Yergin predicting $150 per barrel, I move to declare today, May 7, 2008, the day peak oil became main-stream.

Agreed !

These are the same guys that released a grand opus just a few months ago which explained in detail (LOL) why a giant surge of oil was coming online. It truly is basically a BS economy.

oh, cmmon, it takes a couple years for new production to come on line. Yergin just got tired of waiting for it to happen. It WILL happen though, wonit? !!

I don't know, even the megaprojects list put together by TOD editors suggested a surge of, well, of at least capacity in '08 and '09. There could be more supply coming online and even with that prices are going up.

As I understand it, the Megaprojects list is what the oil companies tell us they're hoping for. It's not adjusted for reality.

I think they're planning to do a "projected vs. reality" comparison soon.

My thinking was that even though these were just projections, some constant % of that would come online each year. So if there was a surge in projections for '08 over '07 then there should still be a surge of actual oil production. There are all sorts of reasons why that % might not be a constant though.

In Yergin-land $150/barrel oil is probably due to political problems in Nigeria and so on, and has nothing to do with any idea of peak oil, which will not happen until 2040 or so, as there is plenty of oil left and oil sands etc will come on stream - this high price will lead to massive over-supply, all the more surely as the price is so high.
$38/barrel oil is delayed, not cancelled.

Never underestimate the power of human stupidity.

The market does a pretty good job in pricing above ground resources, but a terrible job in pricing below ground, finite resources. The past 30 years these two issues have largely been camoflaged, but now the below ground limits are being discovered.

It will take a while for the markets to realize this mistake in finance/economics that does not incorporate ecology/geology.

Normal economic theory will start applying when renewables, conservation and more nuclear start coming on line in quantity, as supply will once more respond to demand, not in the narrow sense of increasing the supply of oil, but in the sense of providing the goods that energy gives you.
This kind of discontinuity is not surprising when you have a radical change in technology.
It should also knock away some of the underpinnings of inflation, as many of the costs will only get cheaper over time, although initially they may be more expensive than we are used to.
2020-25 I would guess for some normality to return.
Of course, we may screw up and things may go totally pear-shaped!

IMO the Suburban middle class USA way of life is not returning, ever (and I don't consider myself to be a Doomer).

I'd be interested if you would lay out your position and the reasoning behind it in detail.
I am not particularly a fan of suburbia, preferring walkable districts, but to my surprise when I ran the numbers I could see no real reason why, after a period when personal transport was restricted and central city living or alternatively out and out rural living were much more competitive, it seems to me that at least for the top 50% or so of the population personal EV transport is very do-able, and hence presumably an essentially suburban way of life.
Briefly, power seems to be available at perhaps German rates (around 30cents kwh) and EV's use a fairly trivial amount.
(Nuclear base-load, solar peak load, with contributions from wind and biogas, EV cars would need 5-10% of present grid power)
EV cars though with somewhat restricted capabilities as against present ICC cars might cost around $30-35k, and would last just about forever.
(Th!nk car, £14,000, two seater, 100km range, but batteries are rapidly improving)

Dave: If you conclude that in 12 years (2020) 50% of the USA population (160 million people) will be riding in totally electric cars to their far flung suburban destinations you have a totally different view of the next 12 years from myself. Who exactly do you feel is going to do all these massive changes to the electrical grid overnight? First they start talking about it and then MAYBE it is done 10 years later-these changes aren't even proposed. You are living in fantasyland on this one.

Brian, please check my figures in more detail before reaching conclusions about how fantastic they are.
I actually gave the period as 2020-25, so that allows more time for laggards.
On what do you base your assertions that massive changes to the electric grid would be needed?
EP's calculations show that we would need around 50-100GW for a fleet of the present size to be run on electric.
I have hypothecated only around half the population having access, and not necessarily to the levels of today, so you are talking about 25-50GW out of a total capacity on the grid of around 1,000GW, which would be available anyway in the deep recession implied by $400 oil, or wind power could easily provide it.
Electric cars which would meet the specifications are on sale already, and EV cars are much better suited to production by smaller concerns that ICC, as they do not rely on all the metal bashing

Suburbia would not make a full comeback anyway within this timeframe, but it would become clear that it was becoming viable again.

If you wish to argue to the contrary, then data rather than assertion is preferable.

Dave: What you are theorizing is a viable USA suburban sprawl mode co-existing with dramtically higher fossil fuel prices and oil depletion. Since you like data, tell me what % of the USA electrical grid is currently powered by fossil fuels vs 17 yrs ago (2008 to 2025 is 17 yrs). It is basically the same %. Even if things are done like you believe, massive, sudden change like you envision is done when TPTB feel it is absolutely imperative-currently they do not feel any urgency whatsoever, probably because oil depletion's negative effects are hitting the poorest first.

Brian, I don't see the sprawl carrying on regardless - during the time period I gave I would expect it to have a very hard time.
Unfortunately though I can't see anything to prevent it starting to make a come-back towards the end of the time scale I gave.
Dracula ain't in it.

I'd much prefer a more European pattern, with most area walkable, and Alan's trains everywhere, but access to cars when needed.
It would be wonderful if some of our out-of town malls even here in Europe were to die in the process, although of course that means that people will have tough times.

Dude, today's reality is folks cannot find buyers for their gas hogs to enable them to buy a more efficient car. How in the hell are they going to afford an electric? What power source is for all that electricity? Who's going to finance it? Back to the now lower former middle class folks who no longer have jobs and are on the edge of rebellion; do you seriously think they will have any sort of monetary resources to buy the new fangled tech car so BAU can continue? What financial institution is still going to exist that will provide the loans for such purchases to people having no jobs?

They're called Pipe Dreams for a reason. And the fuel in the pipe ain't tobacco.

If your questions are anything other than rhetorical you might try reading the posts where all the points you raise are answered.

But don't let actual data interrupt you - you obviously have a message direct from God informing you in detail about exactly how things are going to pan out, and therefore no need of rationality.

Talk about reading one's posts Dave. You've been here for 18 weeks and 4 days. I've browsed your stuff and not bothered to comment till now. I've been investigating Peak Oil since 1999, and have been an oildrummer for almost 3 years now. I've read all sorts of pie-in-the-sky ideas that will allow for BAU to continue. It cannot. The resources do NOT exist. The best course of action on a global basis is a planned power down to minimize the amount of pain inflicted by the current--and still growing--level of overshoot. Or do the deaths of millions of mostly non-white people not bother you?

Wow! You've been here a long time!
You must be right!
If you want to make a point try arguing it, not declaring it ex cathedra.

No one is saying that there will not be disruption, nor am I arguing that BAU will continue.

You are creating a straw man.

Cool it, guys. Attack ideas all you want. Lay off the personal attacks.


But I do have one question about the EV plan not addressed in your estimates: Who is going to pay the fuel taxes (road and infrastructure maintenance and construction taxes) if the energy source is electricity?

Would we have to implement a more extensive wireless toll road system to collect fees; or, if a smart metering system could be implemented in conjunction the vehicle could report the distances traveled - or even energy usage - and the tax would be collected by the electric utility company.

These are secondary and tertiary issues that require the second round of planning prior to implementation. Although, I'm not a fan of extending Big Brother's reach any further into our private data.

I don't know about the US, but here in Europe government is too dependent on tax on fuel to let things slide.
If the electronics is up to it they might specify smart metering of one sort or another, but you can bet some smart operators would find ways around that.
Here in the UK an in-vehicle system might simply report the numbers of miles travelled, and we have extensive monitoring of the highways to check.
The simplest and least equitable way would be to raise road taxes to very high levels, as it would hit low mileage drivers just as hard as high.
At a guess they will try some combination of all options - data protection and personal privacy is a thing of the past here in the UK anyway.

"new fangled tech car so BAU can continue?"

I sense you spinning up a straw man.

it wasn't so long ago my car-loving buddy told me hybrids would never take off because they didn't save you any money to off set the extra cost...

Suburbia has inherently high energy requirements, even if they are running around in EVs, compared to TOD (Transit Orientated Development). Services, infrastructure (asphalt (US) or macadam (UK) is just heavy oil that can be upgraded), utilities, heating and cooling, etc. just take more, much more in Suburbia.

Just as bicycles and Urban Rail are less energy intense than EVs, so Suburbia is more energy intense than TOD.

Best Hopes for a Much Diminished Suburbia,


I'd go along with the sentiment, Alan, having always loathed suburbia, but could not find the data to support my wishes - in most of the States solar power, perhaps in configurations of 2-10MW, would seem able to provide much of the needed power by the 2015 time-frame to commence substantial build.

"Suburbia has inherently high energy requirements"

and in many suburban areas incomes are higher.

IMO the Suburban middle class USA way of life is not returning, ever (and I don't consider myself to be a Doomer).

why? because there was a bubble in suburbia? we had an internet bubble and the internet is still working. we still have technology companies. we had a bubble in housing but we still have houses and we still are building houses and we always will. the suburbs aren't going away, sorry.

Man made of straw

I applaud your efforts, john15. And I would call upon the posters here to please stop attacking his ideas and people like him.

The more he posts his views, the more they seem plausible, the less the truth of the matter gets out, the more time the rest of us have to prepare.

It's not like it will be a bottleneck, with less than everyone making it through. It's not like we cannot save everyone.

So, no, civilization will not crash. There will not even be a significant decline. We have plenty of time, energy, and resources to retool, once we tap the greatest energy source in the universe, human ingenuity. And the suburbs will be the wave of the future.

Thanks, seriously, john15, you are providing a valuable service to those in need.

I don't see how renewables or nuclear can "start coming on line in quantity" to help mitigate PO. Most renewables and nuclear produce electricity, not liquid transportation fuels. And electrification of transport will not make a dent in the 10-15 year timeframe you talk about. This leaves us with bio-fuels or CTL, those options have their own downside, as discussed here over and over.

IMO the next big shock will be how fast the world depletes coal reserves.

electrification of transport will not make a dent in the 10-15 year timeframe

Quite wrong !

France is planning to build 1,500 km of tram lines in a a decade, Adjust for population and work week and that puts the USA @ 5,000 miles or so. Double for panic ....

And enough rail lines to carry 90+% of freight (80/20 rule) can be electrified in ten years (80% in seven or so).

What can bicycles do in ten years ?

Best Hopes for Non-Oil Transportation,


Alan: The USA is not France.

I persist in the naive hope that Americans, when their backs are to the wall, can operate with 75% of the speed and efficiency of French bureaucrats in :every day: mode.

Best Hopes for Recruiting Retired French Bureaucrats,


19th cent trade or domination as some might call it (and before) was run with ships, rail, and the telegraph. (Guns, too.)

France had the telegraph - but not much of the rest - as compared to Spain-Portugal, Britain, Holland, and the US, or even the Japanese - see 1913-1950... and thus decided to invest in ‘new’ energy. Took time to ramp up.

And French bureaucrats are good, Alan is right, even the new generation aged 20-35, has their numbers right, know the scene, they are products of what the US would call 'top schools'; they are hampered, marginalized, by media hungry, state corporatist, posturing officials, keen to join taking over the ME (see Sarkozy.)

Potted history with a personal slant.

Tabernacle! Mais oui, but they will never change the name from "freedom fries".

As much as the U.S. likes to slam the French, there has been a continuous exchange of ideas and technologies before the U.S. was a country. The U.S. created the first modern Republic with money and support from the French, and the French followed suit a few years later. Like it or not, you are buddies and will most likely continue to be.

[Sermon] If you want to get a deeper understanding for what it means to be an American, visit a U.S. cemetery in Normandy and visit with the locals. To this day they are grateful for what the Allied forces did to liberate their country. And that goes ditto for the Canucks too. Every year Holland sends 100,000 tulips to Ottawa in appreciation for liberating their country. [/Sermon]

I think the U.S. will be taking a few notes out of the French play book very soon. Remember your history lest you be doomed to repeat it.

electrification of transport will not make a dent in the 10-15 year timeframe

Quite wrong !

France is planning to build 1,500 km of tram lines in a a decade, Adjust for population and work week and that puts the USA @ 5,000 miles or so. Double for panic ....

It is true that, on first sight, France seems well prepared (and preparing) for PO, with the nice TGV network, all that nuclear electricity, urban tramlines and now, ever more, nice bicycle renting stations all over the major cities.

But still, France depends on oil for transportation all along. Outside the cities, personal transportation is all by cars, even inside the cities, there is heavy car traffic everywhere. Most goods are transported on highways and the whole French industry depends on "just-in-time" deliveries like most other heavily industrialized countries.

Building long interurban railway connection faces the same NIMBY effect as in other European countries. The kind of massive investments in electrifying transport which would be needed to survive the PO shock is not happening. And once the shock really hits, there won't be enough capacity worldwide to build railways, trains, trams, and whatever else is needed to save the day.

Sorry, but France is doing many things better than the US, but 1,500 km of tram lines in a a decade is simply not enough.

And once the shock really hits, there won't be enough capacity worldwide to build railways, trains, trams, and whatever else is needed to save the day.

I think that is something many overlook. China spiffing up Beijing for the Olympics caused worldwide price spikes, even shortages and hoarding, of steel, concrete, and other building materials. What's going to happen when suddenly, countries all over the world rush to build wind turbines, nuclear power plants, electric cars, rail lines, coal plants, solar panels, etc.? Especially when the cost of energy to produce metals, concrete, resin, glass, etc., is spiking?

The current stance of every USA politician is that China should dramatically strengthen the Yuan. They will, and China has the potential to crush the USA in a bidding war.

Yes, but this will create much more demand.
Which will help the economies of many stalling countries.
Export prices from China will rise, meaning the West will be able to compete again, and also creating more jobs.


I Think. As long as there are no real shocks, etc..
I'm starting to get depressed.

You are assuming that the bidding will be currency for oil.
I suspect that after peak oil the bidding will be food for oil and China is a net importer of food and the USA is still a major exporter of food.
If the folks in the middle east want to keep eating after peak oil they may very well stay very cozy with the USA.

You are assuming that the American elite are going to shift allegiance from China's interests to those of Joe Sixpack (that shift is a long time coming)-expect a lot of Yergin-like hot air and zero action as American suburbia goes down for the count.

Maybe we'll have to start recycling the SUVs?

Oh yeah. The more innovative deconstruction the better.

So many useful parts. Large aluminum tubes (drivelines) for instance.
Alternators, starters, glass, sheet panels, oil, shoe leather, on and on.

In addition an idling diesel truck is a wonderland of usefulness. Just a little bio or diesel fuel and it's a sort of mini industrial hub. Heat, electricity, mechanical power, forced air...

Breaking things apart 'usefully' with out having to go mine new resources will become the new art form in industrial society as it is in much of the third word already.

Actually I think a large number of SUVs will become dwellings, for the lucky few. Tents and various lean-tos and things for the rest of us.

If a given society today is at 'peak comfort' then what will the climbing down process look like? Realise it's different for different areas and people.

On either side of this peak forward or back it gets to be more work to survive. The 'stored goods' from the peak will deplete pretty fast IMHO.
What we will have is the knowledge from this time and a whole lot of it's trappings.

In the better 'less comfortable' future we don't throw this down the drain and revert to desperation immediately but find some way to bridge down by lowering expectations and raising the usefulness of what meager systems still survive. My least doom scenario for the day.

And would we ask, "Won't you come visit my 3,000 cu. in., 2 bedroom, zero bath Hummer?" If you remove the engine, you can convert that to a guest bedroom or a den!

95% of cars are recycled in the US.

Agree that they will make ideal tents for GWVilles.

I wonder about that. My wife watches the local used car dealer for Mercedes autos. She told me this morning that she sees much fewer SUV's on their lot.

There was an article in the newspaper a few days ago that reported that some dealers are not accepting SUV's any longer. If they cannot sell them they cannot accept them.


My wife is in the car sales business and a coworker can't give away a one-year old Dodge Durango. Present market value = <50% original sticker - if it could sell.

Last year I suggested they start a new line called Green Gene & His Amazing Energy Efficient Machines. They would only sell any kind of vehicle that got a minimum mpg and above.

The idea doesn't sound so wacky now, does it?

I also fear that when the rest of the world realizes that they MUST switch over to renewables in order to survive, the prices will shoot up. As is, solar prices have remained high even though production capacity has increased, due to demand in Germany and Japan via subsidies. Speaking of subsidies, I hope that the tax credits are extended for this year. I'm installing panels, and I want to take advantage of that, if I can. :)

Solar prices for a small homegrown installation are about $0.25/DC watt higher than they were last year at this time, when I installed mine. I have to think the US will extend the credits; otherwise, every new installation in 2009 will be overseas.

Unlike the price of fossil fuels, the price of many of the materials you mention is likely to respond to large price increases with more supply, albeit with time lags, and with the important proviso that insofar as the cost in determined by fossil fuel inputs then the price will be much more sticky.
Not building SUV's will free up substantial resources on it's own, and not building McMansions still more.
Looking on the bright side, if the recession is as bad and demand destruction for most consumer goods as bad as some folk here think, then there should be substantial amounts of spare capacity!

Unlike the price of fossil fuels, the price of many of the materials you mention is likely to respond to large price increases with more supply

I disagree. I think energy changes everything. If energy is scarce, everything is scarce. It's the basis of our economy, in a way copper, steel, or plastic is not. It's cheap energy that allows us to find and make alternatives for everything. Without that, our usual strategies for dealing with shortages won't work.

We could of course cut back on other things. (SUVs, soda cans, highways.) And I'm sure we will. I just fear it will be too little, too late.

Well, the one thing that will become cheap (relatively speaking) is human and animal labor.

I can speak about copper because we are doing energy audits and efficiency programs for a typical N. American copper mine. Leanan is right, energy increases like these hit them right between the eyes. They can't get off diesel and natural gas fast enough, but can find themselves limited in available electrical power.

You see TOD can be a Cassandra-like curse. When you bring up the projected fuel price increases half a year previous they just look at you kind of funny and move onto the next agenda item. Now, they don't know whether to appreciate or hate me because I didn't force them to make changes earlier. That's when a simple turn on the heel and silent exit is the best course of action - BEFORE I PUNCH SOMEONE IN THE NOSE!

Anger issues, what anger issues? Just a little passive-aggressive is all. No worries, nothing to see here, move along.

If your copper mine is at the end of a remote and limited electrical distribution line, may I suggest looking into local small hydro generation and wind turbines ?

In Idaho, a series of small wind farms are sized to the capacity of local distribution lines (12 MW and 18 MW from memory), so that the lines feed back as much power as they were designed to deliver when wind is # max.

For your mine, a 12 MW wind farm could add (SWAG) 2 MW of power 70% of the time, 1.5 MW 80% of the time if you are in a windy area.

I was going to send you a personal eMail, but you have no address in your profile.

Best Hopes for Renewable Energy,


I have proposed about 50 MW of wind generation as they are at a 4,000 ft elevation. They should get a "met" tower up to at least get their wind profile established.

They are at the end of a 69 kV line and a good part of the problem is the utility is reluctant to increase service, and they are reluctant to pay for the increase. What I see them running on that one circuit defies good EE practice.

I didn't know if I should post my email, but I guess I will. All my bills are paid and I'm out of the witness protection program;-)

What's going to happen when suddenly, countries all over the world rush to build wind turbines, nuclear power plants, electric cars, rail lines, coal plants, solar panels, etc.?

the money and resources that used to be used to produce consumer goods will be diverted to wind and etc.

This has been on my mind lately. What other resources are going to gt depleted trying to avoid a hard crash from PO, the worst of AGW, the food shortages, etc?

I suspect the list might be longish. Said list would go a goodly ways toward shaping the choices we have before us.


A substantial proportion of European freight is actually water-borne.

There will be wrenching adjustments everywhere, but perhaps less so in France than almost anywhere else.
Much of their electricity supply is secure as it is nuclear, and they are well advanced with programs to install residential solar thermal water heating and air heat pumps to stretch it further.
Just about everyone will be keen to buy ~French nuclear expertise.
They also have a very large wind energy program.

For personal transport they are deeply involved both with the construction of EV's and power grids to supply them everywhere,a nd with the compressed air car.

Deliveries in much of Europe are already in the process of switching to Electric.

Nimby objections are likely to fade when times get tough, and their initiative to build 1.500km of tram lines is far from their only one.

For the same reason with oil at $400/barrel change is likely to pick up even in the States.

but 1,500 km of tram lines in a a decade is simply not enough

I agree (unless the plateau extends much further than I anticipate).

But if one is going in the right direction, but too slow, it is relatively easy to accelerate development. 1,500 km of new trams in 6 or 7 years, rather than 10 years ? And 400 km/year after that ?

I do NOT deny that post-Peak Oil will not be tough, with major adjustments, in France. But most French will have a Non-Oil Transportation alternative to flee to, and the % of French with a non-oil alternative will rise every year.

For 30 years, France would build one TGV line, finish it, and start on another. Today they have 3 TGV lines under construction at once.

And if tthey did not take August off ?

Best Hopes,


And if tthey did not take August off ?

Maybe the French accomplish so much because they DO take August off.

Want to hear an upside-down fact? The French are more productive per hour worked than Americans. So maybe the first play the U.S. might take out of the French playbook is to take August off.

just another application of walmartism, quantity over quality.

I generally agree that big projects can be accomplished in a short amount of time. They can even be done quite well. The one problem with what France is doing and what you're proposing is that all of the equipment used to build those tram lines is run on diesel, it's made of steel and concrete, and all three of those seem to be in short supply. Planning to do something and having the materials to actually implement the plan are two very different things.

all of the equipment used to build those tram lines is run on diesel, it's made of steel and concrete

Not so for diesel !

France has a goal of "electrifying every meter" of French railroads and "burning not one drop of oil". Same for Urban rail.

I would leave, "to be determined later" about 60% of the track miles un-electrified, but only 10% or so of the ton-miles.

Earlier discussions indicate that only a few percentage of US steel production would be needed. As for concrete, I am partial to composite ties (made mostly out of recycled plastic) for both freight RRs and grass running Urban Rail, but there is enough concrete as well (reduced road and McMansion construction) by SWAG.

I am not really concerned by resource constraints,


Electrification of transport will start making a dent well within that time-frame if oil goes up as much as is projected.
Another couple of years for oil to reach maybe $300/barrel, six years for the car companies to move on from that, lots of makeshift primitive car conversions, turnover time for the fleet around 14 years, but my remarks were only based on the top 50% getting EV's in the relatively near term, so 7 years would replace a lot of the present fleet.
In the interim there will be heavy sales of motor bikes.
The hit the economy will take from dear oil will mean that there is plenty of excess capacity to supply Ev's, and the time span of up to 2025 for a really serious nuclear program refers to laggards like the US - places like China, Japan and France will do far better.
With the fall in silicon prices, together with thin-film technologies, by 2015 it should be possible to generate large quantities of peak power with solar energy, and the build for new wind turbines is also rapid.

I am sure of one thing. We will continue to have these lengthy discussions about how a badly overshot human population is going to transition to electric vehicles and keep right on trucking here on TOD right up until the grid goes down. Its human nature.

Nate Hagans wrote:

It will take a while for the markets to realize this mistake in finance/economics that does not incorporate ecology/geology.

Actually the mistake was in the geology and reserve estimates generally (believing speculative/political ones), not the economics.

To quote none other than Jean Laherrere:

Figure 2 helps explain why many economists, who have no access to the technical data, are wrong; it is not bad analysis on their part, but bad data.


You're right, see my comment below. Yergin goes Peak Oil.

Yergin is still Pollyanna compare to this...

Oil price 'may hit $200 a barrel'

The price of crude oil could soar to $200 a barrel in as little as six months, as supply continues to struggle to meet demand, a report has warned.

With benchmark US light crude passing the $122 mark for the first time on Tuesday, the warning comes from Goldman Sachs energy strategist Argun Murti.

Surging demand was increasingly likely to create a "super-spike" past $200 in six months to two years' time, he said.

All bow, all hale, rest of the world caught up with TOD!!!

But then you are saying that what you believe can only be verified by those that oppose you. In doing so you empower their position and subordinate yours.

Besides, I'm sure Yergin was talking Monopoly currency. Next, he'll be appearing in top hat, tux and monocle.

I am sure you've been following the news on the aftermath of cyclone Nargis in Burma. One thing that I've been asking myself is the impact that the storm surge waters (likely salty) will have on rice production in the immediate and mid-term future.

Some of you guys must live in areas where storm surges have recently occurred. How does agriculture cope?

This was in the queue for up top, but what the heck, this seems like a better place to park it...

Cyclone fuels rice price increase

Rice prices have risen for the fourth consecutive day, as tight supplies are aggravated by the disaster in Burma's key rice-growing region.

The cost of rice, the staple food for almost half the world's population, increased by 2.4% to $21.6 per 100lb on the Chicago Board of Trade.

Cyclone Nargis, which has killed tens of thousands of people, struck areas where 65% of Burma's rice is grown.

The disaster comes as rice and other food prices are already soaring.

I don't understand what all those thousands of people are dying of. The wind knocking them down or into things? Too soon for starvation or disease. Did they drown in high water?

The cyclone had a 12 foot storm surge. Large numbers of people lived in bamboo huts on the waterfront. Drowned.

Lots of dead people lying in paddy fields in tropical heat, polluting the water and food supply (if it survived inundation in 12 feet of
salt water. People are now dying of thirst, starvation and disease.

This will be a big one. The people had little or no warning.

Personally I don't think that any warning would have done much of a difference. That area is like a big pancake just above sea level, nowhere to go actually. And as for an immediate shelter, people had the increasing warning from the increasing winds. The storm surge would do its thing under any circumstance.

What strikes me though, is the character of that a storm (force4) in that very area; I feel this was a stray storm ,not expected to take place there. If Myanmar was used to such weather they would probably have been better prepared, IMO.

Another new climate pattern?

First storm surge. Small % from wind/collapsed buildings.

Second stage, lack of food and water (some from exposure).

Third stage, disease.



Well, at least they don't have FEMA

The Burmese military regime makes even FEMA look good. They are actively hampering international relief efforts. They view their docile Bhuddist population as a resource to be exploited.

How did Bush put it - you can hear it on today's DemocracyNow! - something like "we urge the military leadership to accept help from the US". Last I heard it was a pitifully small, token amount of disaster aid from US he proposed. Perhaps I missed the extra guns, planes and other weapons.

cfm in Gray, ME

But of course if Burma accepted Cuban doctors, we'd send in the bombers.

And isn't it just so wretched that the first emergency aid to the Katrina event came from France? Burma = Little America. What a world.


If you don't live in a hurricane-prone area it is tough to understand how dangerous the storm surge is. The vast majority of deaths from hurricanes/cyclones/typhoons comes from the storm surge. Basically, it is like a small (or not so small) tsunami that comes ashore as a wall of water. It can turn wooden buildings into flinders and knock trains off their tracks (as happened in a hurrican in the Florida Keys back around WWII).

This is the thing people don't realize when they think that a rise of sea level of only a few inches/cm or feet/metres will not matter much - storm surges will leverage and multiply that rise, hitting people who thought they were high and dry.

This article is about a hurricane that hit near NYC in 1938. People were drowned in their offices by the storm surge.

Similar thing with the Galveston 1900 - it wasn't so much the wind that got them, it was the storm surge.

Leanan interesting article, it says :

The eye of the hurricane passed some 55 miles east of Manhattan, a near miss in meteorological terms. Had it been a few miles west of Manhattan, forensic hurricanologists agree it would have devastated the island.

if, if, if .... this had happened, would Manhattan have been what it is today and what does it take to rethink (abandon) real complex systems ? This had me going ...
If Hurricane Katrina "2" came by and flooded New Orleans equally bad in a few years time, would that be it ? "Enough is enough"-reasoning ! Let's move.

A lot of geologists are calling for a "managed retreat from the coasts." It's just not sustainable to live there. And that's not even taking into account climate change.

We don't do it, of course. It's prime real estate.

We'll end up with an unmanaged retreat from the coasts. Eventually, we won't be able to afford to rebuild after a hurricane, and people will just leave.

The northeast gets fewer hurricanes than the Gulf Coast, but the ones they do get move faster and are much less predictable. There's a reason Allstate will no longer insure homes in New York.

I agree with your views here. After all I believe the energy squeeze will force us into the fields before any ocean-rise force us from the coast ..

The surge is the terrifying thing. The Baylor simulation on what would happen to Houston if we got hit by the "perfect Cat 5 storm" was frightening. Basically Houston would cease to exist as Galveston Bay swept into downtown then back out to sea.

The winds are what show on the news. The surge is what destroys and kills the most people.

Though I agree with the sentiment, don't underestimate the potential for devastation simply caused by wind. The winds in a given hurricane or extratropical cyclone afflict a broader region than the storm surge, putting more property in harm's way. Electricity distribution infrastructure is a key energy-related item that's particularly vulnerable to wind loading, especially from the kind of catastrophic events such as you mention. And, in a post-peak situation with increasingly limited resources, rebuilding power distribution infrastructure will probably be slow, if ever.



Well, yeah.


Quite right. Here satelite images of pre- and postcyclone

Thank you Paulus (horrifying though it is).

U.S. diplomat: Cyclone toll could be 100,000

The storm surge was over 20 feet, higher than the tree tops.

Thanks, Leanan. Though my original question still went unanswered: what are the mid-term effects of all that salt water for agriculture? Does an area affected by a storm surge become unusable for agriculture for a while, or is rice somehow salt tolerant?

Where is "westexas"????????

He is on vacation.


Vacation! What part of ELP doesn't that guy get? ;>)

Maybe he went over to yergin's house to play boggle. I dont know what to believe anymore! up is down, black is white, next thing we find out is that the earth changed polarity while we slept.

It all makes sense now. Westexas has had facial reconstruction surgery and has assumed the identity of Daniel Yergin, who is locked in a basement somewhere.

next thing we find out is that the earth changed polarity while we slept.

That could actually happen, you know. THAT would be ALL we need right now!

Iran has 20 million barrels of heavy oil in floating storage


Since these are expensive leased tankers, one can assume on-shore storage is full.

Iran cannot sell to every market (USA et al) and many refineries are down for annual maintenance. And not every refinery can take their heavy crude.


I saw that article earlier, and I was thinking they would make really nice bombs if we attacked. Head out the Gulf as as fast as possible "to get out of the war zone", and then suddenly blow themselves up in close proximity to our fleet.


The blast range of an oil tanker filled with heavy oil would be quite small. Would make a great smoke screen, would burn for days until it sank. Far better just to scuttle it in the straits. Four tankers strategically placed would be enough to shut down that route for years.

I noticed that story when it was posted a few days ago on DrumBeat. It's dated 2 May. I wonder whether Iran is "hedging" against a summer surprise from Gee Dubyah. Should our Fearless Leader do something nasty to Iran, the Iranians could use the tankers to produce an interesting reply. At the very least, having the tankers sitting idle in Iranian waters would mean that they wouldn't be transporting crude after a U.S. KaBoom. Twould be rather like shutting down a portion of the pipeline capacity world wide. Other possibilities come to mind...

E. Swanson

The chairman of CERA, Daniel Yergin, indicated yesterday that oil could rise to $150 per barrel in 2008, and that "everyone [except Saudi Arabia] is pretty much pumping all that they can," and that Saudi Arabia has only about 2 million barrels of spare capacity. This is a tacit admission of the concept of Peak Oil, even though Mr. Yergin and CERA criticize the reality of Peak Oil, established as a scientific fact in 1977 by the National Academy of Sciences.

CERA talks about an "undulating plateau" instead of peak. Which is much the same if you'll ask me.

Opening line: "I really do like poking the “OMG WE’RE RUNNING OUT OF OIL” retards with a stick every chance I get."

OK, admittedly I jumped into a snake pit over at "American Conservative Daily" and need some guidance: http://tinyurl.com/5a4yuu (slow to load).

I was thinking of continuing the engagement, but could use some help. Anyone wish to offer me a more cogent and/or documented argument? If I were rational in this pursuit I guess the best thing would be to just let it go.

What do you think?

You are playing in a game where the so-called 'moderator' is clearly staking out a position and will brook no dissent.
His evidence is purely anecdotal, is circular and relies on his assumed authority - there is plenty of oil, figures don't show it but I am an industry insider, and any shortages are due to drilling restrictions, end of debate.
However, if it were I I would simply comment on their wilfully offensive introduction, which pretty much sets the tone for the alleged 'debate'
You can't educate pork.

I was trying to disarm them by intentionally being extra polite, but as you suggest, it got me nowhere.

I was quite taken by the assumption that my discourse was an assault on the oil industry. I realized I was in trouble when the aerobic oil defense was presented.

Sparring practise can be fun for Claw-sharpening.. but save your energy for more productive battles. There are endless 'energy-sinks' out there that don't mind if you burn your fuel on them...


I read about half of it. In that world, "freedom" trumps thermodynamics and geology.

You can't teach a pig to sing.

It wastes your time, and it annoys the pig.

Don't bother-- they'll find out soon enough, and Daniel Yergin will tell them.

I think you are wasting your time. There are quite frankly a good number of people on both extremes of the political spectrum whose minds are firmly nailed shut. Your attempts to crowbar their minds open will not be viewed with any kind of gratitude.

Yes, I have compiled a lot of government reports on Peak Oil that are hard to deny, like U.S. General Accountability Office and Congressional Research Service. You can Google clifford wirth peak oil, and you will find it in a 40 page report. Also, the DOD and Army Corps of Engineers are Peak Oilers, just trying Googling that too. Keep up the good work. Cliff Wirth

I admire your courage, debating with this kind of crowd is like talking to a wall! Ultimately, they know they can quote the Bible as a last resort.

The following argument from the "moderator" deserves some kind of award:

Everything one does has an effect on the planet but the concept that human beings can “harm the planet” is very much in line with atheist ideology that man is akin to God and capable of harming the planet.

Got any SUVs or exurban McMansions you could offer them for sale?

Less is more; I would recommend limiting your posts to 10 lines on boards like that. Any more, and they'll just pick out the points they object to most and rant. Also, the trolls on those boards will ignore the bulk of your post and focus on the response, which they will of course agree with, making you wrong by default.

A statement or question that's limited in scope can have much more impact than an argument to convince. As an example, I tried to post, "Indonesia is looking to pull out of OPEC because they've become a net importer. How do you explain their decreased production?" Unfortunately, the board ate my post the first ten times I tried to post it and I lost interest.

You know...I am thinking that this blog is less prepared to cope with everyone starting to get peak oil than peak oil its self! If there is a paradigm shift im pretty sure it is going to be swift and peak oil will be daily water cooler discussion and no one will want out big brains around anymore...we will get eaten first me thinks.

with a dash of sarcanol

That actually is true, I think. Pretty soon, TOD will be obsolete in its present incarnation -- but regular readers have seen the future as well. There are a lot of sub-blogs off of TOD which aim to guide the discussion about what to do about peak oil, even after the concept itself is no longer beyond the pale.

We've got TOD:Local (which needs to become more active, BTW); maybe what we need next is TOD:Individual/Household for "OK, I get it, now what do I do?/here's what I'm doing" articles.

YES, TOD:L needs to become more active, but we haven't had anyone come along and take the lead on it. It's sorely needed...someone to go out and cull local problems and solutions...how some areas are doing well, how others are doing poorly...etc., etc.

If anyone is interested, let me know.

Or maybe just re-invent TOD:L (again!) to expand its focus more on the individual/household as well as community level. Lots of us could contribute quite a bit to that, and it might actually reduce the load on the DB some.

Oh believe me, we've thought about that. We'll adapt/adjust...we'll have to.

The day that PO becomes water cooler talk is the day that my wife and I drop everything and get the hell out of Dodge because it won't be long before the ravening hordes realize that our system is doomed and want to do the same thing.

The House Transportation Subcommittee on Highways and Transit held a Hearing on Rising Diesel Fuel Costs (May 6, 2008). I saw some positive things. The need for a gas tax to reduce demand was mentioned (by Don Young, a Republican from Alaska no less!). Rep. Michael A. Arcuri of New York actually said the words "peak oil" even if his line of questioning was less than effective.

I also saw some negative things. There seemed to be great interest in giving preference in terms of lower taxes for fuel for transportation of goods. Most argued that driving a personal vehicle can be cut back while transportation of goods was essential. IMHO propping up the trucking industry with preferential tax treatment will only delay the impending shift of goods to rail and re localization.

Pretty well everything in the USA, government and business, is based around procrastination. Push the problem into the future so it is someone else's problem and grab your goodies now. IMO people will be shocked at how little is actually done by the USA guv to mitigate oil depletion, and what is done will be counter-productive IMO.

Yep, anyone counting on big gov or big biz to be doing anything to HELP them is going to be bitterly disappointed.

Scariest words in the English language:
"Hi, I am from the Government and I'm here to help."
source - President Ronald Regan

It's not the words that are scary, it's the person saying those words. If it's a Bush Administration official, be afraid. However, government in the right hands can be a good thing and can be of great help to those in need.

Can be, yes. But not the US FedGov.

Ungh, you said ron regan...ungh...I gotta go wash my eyes, don't do that any more please.

You can only hope that most of them at least caught Colbert's 'The Word' on monday, FREE GAS!.

He got in some good digs.

Yep, I think Leanan had it up but
it is for anyone who missed it.

Theoildrum.com and the two WSJ journalists get the credit for making Yergin admit to Peak Oil. I've sent the WSJ journalists scientific stuff on Peak Oil, and they responded that they read it. Much of the stuff is from Theoildrum.com. Then, Neil King Jr. and Spencer Swartz got it out of Yergin, probably by tough questioning. Then they and wrote it up in the WSJ. These journalists can't say Peak Oil, they can't say that TheOildrum says Peak Oil, but Yergin can say it, and they got it out of him as best they can. Three cheers for Theoildrum.com and Neil King Jr. and Spencer Swartz. What a team.

Cj, I agree, Neil King Jr. does an excellent job. I do think he uses "peak oil" in some of his reporting, but I don't have any references at the moment. BTW, Neil King was the reporter who wrote the story about Aaron Wissner, In a World Short Of Oil, Provisions Must Be Made.

I think you should work on Jad Mouawad of the New York Times. He is showing signs of coming around, but he almost always says the the peak oil view is the minority view when writing oil stories.

Thanks for the feedback. Yes, I believe that Neil King Jr. has referenced Peak Oil as: some theorists say XYZ... But he has not sided with Peak Oil, and can't as a WSJ journalist, but he got Yergin to do it. Good stuff. The reason I could communicate with the WSJ is that they included email addresses in articles, and I suggested that they send my report to their editors. Maybe they did so, it would make their work easier if the editors have read my report, based on credible government reports such as National Science Foundation, General Accountability Office, and Congressional Research service, as well as science stuff from Theoildrum.com. Also the WSJ blog "Environmental Capital" run by Keith Johnson has let me post the link to my report, so many at the WSJ may have seen/talked about it (quite frightening stuff). Anyone got an email address for Jad Mouawad?? If so, I'll send him my stuff. Cheers, Clifford J. Wirth, Email: clifford dot wirth at yahoo dot com

Follow links on this page to correspond with Jad Mouawad:


Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending May 2, 2008

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged nearly 14.7 million barrels per day during the week ending May 2, down 99,000 barrels per day from the previous week's average. Refineries operated at 85.0 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production moved lower compared to the previous week, averaging about 8.7 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production remained unchanged last week, averaging 4.2 million barrels per day.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged 10.6 million barrels per day last week, up 413 thousand barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged 9.9 million barrels per day, 244 thousand barrels per day below the same four-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged nearly 1.5 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 187 thousand barrels per day last week.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) increased by 5.7 million barrels from the previous week. At 325.6 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are in the middle of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories increased by 0.8 million barrels last week, and are in the upper half of the average range. Finished gasoline inventories fell last week while gasoline blending components inventories increased during this same time. Distillate fuel inventories decreased by 0.1 million barrels, and are in the lower half of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories increased by 1.3 million barrels last week. Total commercial petroleum inventories increased by 5.5 million barrels last week, and are in the middlr of the average range for this time of year.

And here's what was expected:

Weekly U.S. government figures -- due out at 1430 GMT -- would show a 1.6 million barrel increase in crude inventories and an 800,000 barrel rise in distillate stocks, including diesel and heating oil, according to a Reuters poll. Gasoline stocks were expected to drop by 100,000 barrels.

Demand destruction.


It's important to realize that for some weekly stats (maybe many), there is nobody at the EIA adding up everything on a weekly basis.

Instead, every week they take a sample and apply some fancy formulas.

Monthly data is different. They do have people adding up everything and publishing the result. It's a long process and it takes a couple of months to do it.

The weekly and monthly data often don't agree. Take a look at gas consumption for Jan & Feb. We have both weekly and monthly data. The weekly says demand is down six tenths of a percent. The monthly says demand is down 1.6%.

One thing we know for sure: a sampling system will behave differently under different market conditions. That's why there is no substitute for the long hard grind.

Interesting !

Systemic sampling errors can affect even a time series of data.

Was the January & February data compared to y-o-t.

I chose the 4 week average y-o-y to detect the short term price elasticity of demand and, assuming population growth and oil per GDP, there has been some effect, but minimal.

Your comments on by every week report (see below) ?

Best Hopes for Good Data,


Yes, I compared the Jan & Feb data year over year.

In addition to the weekly data being just a sample in many cases, it's also very noisy (even the 4-week moving average) -- though that's partly due to Katrina et al. To see this, do a plot of several years worth of data in parallel.

This one is a couple of weeks out of date:

Finished Gasoline

[Incidentally, the reason I bring up per capita data on occasion is to emphasize the changing picture from the perspective of the individual consumer. You get a better picture of how flexible the consumer is from per capita data. Monthly population numbers are available from the St. Louis Fed.]

I do not look at winter data, too affected by weather.

Given that April (first non-winter month IMO) monthly data is a couple of months in the future, and oil/gasoline prices today are in a different part of the price curve than they were last fall, I see the 4 week series, y-o-y (viewed over time since mid-March) as the best shot a catching a change in demand down.

Per capita, GDP is shrinking, but absolute GDP is growing.

I make two mental adjustments, population and GDP to see the microscopic reductions in demand per capita due to price. But the more important issue is gross national consumption, and there the results look dismal.

IMHO, we need a -4% to -5% annual reduction in gross demand, It will not happen without a severe recession/depression I am afraid. Price alone is not doing it.


IMHO, we need a -4% to -5% annual reduction in gross demand, It will not happen without a severe recession/depression I am afraid. Price alone is not doing it.

Annual reductions of that nature may be necessary post peak at some point. But there are plenty of indications we are not yet post peak.

In the short term outlook released yesterday, the EIA projected a petroleum demand decline for the US of 330,000 bpd for 2008.

They tend to underestimate demand declines. IMO if US demand falls by 500,000 bpd with gas at about $4, we are doing OK.


ADDENDUM: Feb 2008, petroleum demand in the US fell below 20 million bpd for the first time since 2003. (There was some funky weather, of course)

IMO if US demand falls by 500,000 bpd with gas at about $4, we are doing OK

IMHO, not so.

The USA is the "weak sister" in competition for declining world oil exports. We do not have the exports to pay for what we want, and there is a limit (now approaching) where assets sales and new debt reaches market saturation.

IMVHO, the USA can "keep going" if our % of world oil exports declines. That is US oil & product imports decline faster than the global average, even if by -1% or -2%.

We are not far from seeing -2% or -3% annual declines in world oil exports, and may be there today (Russia -1% oil production, domestic consumption +6%, consumption about half of production but growing, etc.)

The default means to make demand = supply for national economies is reduced economic activity.


George, to get rock-solid graphs calculate and plot trailing 12-month and/or trailing 52-week averages. This will completely remove annual cyclical variation, revealing just the secular trend, e.g. +1%/year growth until recently. The only drawback is these heavily filtered data sets will not be very responsive to the most recent data points.


I did that a couple of weeks back:

And got taken to task for it by Alan (from BE).

Perhaps you can help me persuade him.

Note: Finished Gasoline includes ethanol

Winter weather has a significant impact on gasoline use.

Given the year to year (and week to week) variability of winter data, I just do not use it in analysis of the price elasticity of demand. So one 52 week period could include more severe snow storms than another, skewing the results.

Also, given the great variations in price over time (52 weeks for example), data over that long a period has very limited value

12 months ago, oil was about $65/barrel (guess). If one is looking for price elasticity of demand, averaging $65 to $115/barrel data would seem to have "limited value".

Thus my selection of the imperfect 4 week average y-o-y (not even looking during winter months) is less imperfect than the alternatives.

Best Hopes for Clear, Strong Signals of Conservation,


If one is looking for price elasticity of demand, averaging $65 to $115/barrel data would seem to have "limited value".

Why the focus on short term elasticity?

For elasticity, I'm comfortable using annual data. The key is the general expectations that form in people's heads about the future price of petroleum. Not any knee-jerk reaction to price hikes.

Why the focus on short term elasticity ?

Short and snappy answer, because it may be all we have.

Medium term elasticity of demand for $65 oil may have time to work it's was through the economy before a severe recession starts, but I question if we will have time for the medium term impacts of $124 oil (price ATM) to wind it's way through adjustments.

Once even a moderate recession starts, extracting the price response from the economic response will take a better data miner than me.

Perhaps in 2018, one can look back and determine the short term, medium term and long term responses to oil prices, but the value of such a study today is nil.

Take the current data and work with that.


One should recognize that when using a moving average, the actual date to use to plot the data points is midway thru the time period used for the average. Thus, your graph which shows a point at 5/3/08 should have been shifted back in time. That last point actually corresponds the average at 11/3/07...

Not that this is an unusual mistake, as one often sees stock data with moving averages applied.

E. Swanson

One should recognize that when using a moving average, the actual date to use to plot the data points is midway thru the time period used for the average.

That's true for a non-causal, centered moving average. With a "trailing" average, the date used to the plot the average always coincides with the last, most recent raw data point. Asebius' graphs look like trailing averages even though they are labeled moving averages.

Yes, a "trailing average" is defined in such a way that the date for the data point is set at the end of the averaging period. But, that does not change the fact that the data point mathematically represents the value at the middle of the averaging period. In both the moving average or trailing average, the computation is that of a crude digital filter. It's easy to compute this sort of filter from a time series, but the result is not a very good data set, as the process introduces aliasing into the result. There are better digital filters widely available in the engineering and science worlds, but the economists and wall street types apparently don't appreciate the math.

E. Swanson

How did you compute that ?

I looked into the monthly stats and here is what i've found (supply of finished motor gasoline) :

Jan+feb 2007 : 275,621 + 252,688 = 528,309 mb
Jan+feb 2008 : 273,235 + 256,422 = 529,657 mb

ie an increase in gas consumption of +0.25%

reformulated is up 5.9%, conventional is down 2.6% over the same period.

edit : ah, if I read your reply to Allan correctly, you performed a per capita analysis. It would be nice to see, if I may ask, what statistics you are using, I mean do you divide by total drivers or by total population ? What sources do you use ?

Use the barrels per day figures. [selector at top of product supplied page]

Don't forget this year was a leap year! ;-)

It actually makes a difference.

Consumption data comes from here:


I wasn't doing per capita calculations in this thread but when I do I use the total population series from the Fed here:


Price Elasticity of Demand

4 Week Averages 08 vs. 07

Finished Motor Gasoline. . . 9,263 . . 9,239.+0.3 %
Kerosene-Type Jet Fuel . . . . 1,554 . . 1,650 . . -5.8%
Distillate Fuel Oil . . . . . . . . . 4,188 . . 4,207 . -0.5%
Residual Fuel Oil . . . . . . . . . . . 812 . . . . 718. +13.1%
Propane/Propylene . . . . . . . . . . 994 . . 1,073. . -7.4%
Other Oils. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3,801. . 3,695 . +2.9%
Total Products Supplied . . . 20,611 . 20,581.+0.1%

Not Much Hope,


Hello everyone

Next week on the 14th my university in Leuven, Belgium is awarding Claude Mandil, former executive director of the IEA an honorary doctorate. More info and registration.

He will be giving a talk on The main energy and climate challenges for the next 40 years.

I suppose I should be taking notes, but are there any questions I should try to ask him?

Maybe this event also interests other people in the neighborhood? Leuven is easily reachable by train :)


Ask him, given the failure of most signatories of Kyoto to meet their targets, and the fact that China, India, etc. are building coal-fired power plants at a rapid clip - if he sees anything on the horizon that he believes can mitigate CO2 emissions and stop the concentration from increasing in the atmosphere.

I was just reading in a McKibben article (offline) last night that CO2 scrubbing for sequestration - not including the sequestration process itself - would cut the rated output of a coal power plant by as much as half. Can anyone comment on whether it really is that energy intensive? If so, faint hope of such scrubbing ever being put into action.

cfm in Gray, ME

Around a 25% energy penalty, and a 40% cost penalty on the figures I heard.
But it doesn't seem worth worrying about, as almost no-one is actually sequestering CO2.
The are building 'sequestration ready plants' - it's the only way to get planning approval.
I doubt they have any serious intention to attempt sequestration.
Pumping the CO2 around would be a challenge to start with, to say the least.

The Energy Blog: FutureGen Scrapped, CCS to be Demonstrated on Multiple Clean Coal Power Plants
See the comment by Greyfln for a start.

Stopping Coal in Its Tracks | Ted Nace | Orion magazine

Ask him whether he subscribes to the Hirsch-report (2005) ... and if so, when does he feel it is due time to start acting ? Ask for a time:stamp

You might try this:

Step 1. Show Mr Mandil et al this youtube version of Prince's song Planet Earth.
Step 2. Ask him if he has any questions.

You may want to ask him about the statements below and why he feels entitled to accept his Doctorate:


Claude Mandil, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA) was first on stage. He saw no peak in the demand before 2030. Different scenarios yielded demands from 111 to 123 million barrels per day (mbpd) in year 2030. He showed a figure with demand increases for the years 2004 to 2010. The conclusion was that the demand growth was 1.5 mbpd per year over the next 5 years. The oil industry has for several years claimed that the production from existing fields is declining at around 5 % per year or a decrease in production of about 4 mbpd each year. Adding the increase in demand and the decline we get that an extra 27 mbpd is needed in new capacity in the next 5 years. Projects adding the 7.5 mbpd were discussed but the decline in existing fields was not mentioned. A question to Claude Mandil about this decline got the answer that fields have always been declining and so far this has not been any problem.

Or this…


``There is no shortage of oil and gas in the ground, but quenching the world's thirst for them will call for major investment in modern technologies,'' IEA Executive Director Claude Mandil said in a statement. ``The hydrocarbon resources in place around the world are sufficiently abundant to sustain likely growth in the global energy system for the foreseeable future''. ``The doomsayers are again conveying grim messages through the front pages of major newspapers. '' (Bloomberg Sept 2005)

"Big oil companies like Exxon, Shell, BP or Total have a serious problem: their targets are getting scarce. The main problem for security of supply is that the world will be increasingly dependent on a shrinking number of countries. If, in addition, they cannot invest for various reasons, the war in Iraq, political or administrative brakes in Iran, we go towards big problems." (Claude Mandil, interview Le Monde, July 11th 2007)"

Or this:


Or this:


“The U.K. continental shelf may have reached peak oil,” IEA Executive Director Claude Mandil told reporters in Paris today. “The zone is past its glory days.”
Apart from the U.K., crude oil production has also peaked in countries including Norway and Mexico, and in one member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, Indonesia.
“We don’t know what the ultimate limits of production are even for oil fields under production,” Mandil said. “This would be underestimating technology to discover ways to go after deeper reserves or those thought impossible in the past.”’
In an earlier July 3 interview in Dublin, Mandil said the timeframe “depends on the investment in the Middle East, Russia, Venezuela, those countries which have a lot of known and unknown reserves. The production will depend on their investment.”
Oil production growth among non-OPEC nations will increasingly come in the form of so-called non-conventional oils, such as heavy oil, oil sands and biofuels, rather than the typical crude oil, the IEA said in its Medium-Term Oil Market Report, published yesterday.

I could go on….

Please do go on, Mudlogger! You beat me to it with this reply. It's important to realize that our oft-quoted authoritative energy agencies have been wrong more than right for several years now. (Both the IEA and EIA have earned my ire for consistently predicting unrealistic growth in non-OPEC supply, right up through their latest projections, and rarely recanting on their errors.)

Thank goodness we now have Fatih Birol in charge of IEA. He seems much more on the ball. His recent essay, we should leave oil before it leaves us compares to Mandil's statements like night and day.

Another article warning that the world is heating more quickly then predicted.

I said it before and will say it again: expect more of this. Worst case scenarios to be in fact best case?

In order to understand Yergin, ExxonMobil, Neocon administration or any other who is playing high stakes game and must contain, compartmentalize, hide and control access to information, one must learn to do a bit of intelligence analysis.

Now, I'm sure many here would be much better qualified than me to give this introduction (Jeff Vail, where are you?), but here goes:

1) Control of the 'mass mind' can be achieved by instilling undefined and un-winnable fear in the minds of people (see Edward Bernays in The Century of the Self, by Adam Curtis).

2) This process of fear through deceit can be done by what military calls psychological operations. That means propaganda, just a bit more subtle. Or, if you prefer the modern day equivalent, Public Relations (see Psychological Operations Principles and Case Studies, for more).

3) In order to cut through false information, planted data, deceit and hiding of motives, one must try and apply intelligence analysis techniques, the stress being on the word 'analysis' (not 'gathering') (see Psychology of Intelligence Analysis, for more).

4) However, before that, one must be able to gather intelligence from trustworthy sources, and when not available from several independent 1st hand sources and cross-check. When such 'trustworthy' information is not available, one must try and piece it together. For most of us this means open source intelligence, i.e. publicly available resources, which are of varied quality and often lacking the low level data and pushing a hasty interpretation instead.

5) Now, in order to arrive at a conclusion of what might be truly happening, instead one of the most popular interpretations (aka 'myth'), one must be able to select information and analyze it properly. Now this is more difficult than it sounds, because we all succumb to thinking biases, regardless of our level of education. These biases must be overcome temporally. This is the part where one must do meta-analysis: thinking about one's own thinking. Working with multiple simultaneous hypotheses is a must. Having critical review doesn't hurt, but it must be subject to the same strict criteria as the overall process itself.

Now, after all that is said, it still must be done. That's the hard part. Analyzing all the conflicting data and interpretations of it.

I for one cannot claim that I can analyze the motives and the minds of people at CERA/IHS.

Can anybody else here?

Sure it's fun to make fun of them, but it wouldn't hurt to try and understand them through analysis.

Why are they saying what they are? Stupidity? Paid dupes? They happen to be correct? Something else?

I vote for "paid dupes." Nothing so blatant as "Say this and I'll give you $$$," but just the knowledge that his clients want to hear certain things, and telling them things they don't want to hear is likely to lose them business.

Sort of like the way "expert witnesses" work in the courtroom. If a lawyer offers to pay you to testify as an expert witness, you know the answer he wants. And if you won't give it to him, he'll find another expert.

Also, his clients aren't buying his reports with their own money. I would be surprised if one person has ever paid a nickel of their own money for a CERA report. Without the modern power of management over impotent ownership, a lot of consulting firms would be finished IMO.

Maybe 5/7/08 will also be marked as the day of Peak Consultants.

From what I've seen, $1K per report is peanuts in the investment field. No investor is going to blink at spending that kind of money if the information in it steers him towards good investment decision.

But after being burned by a bad investment guided by CERA's extremely shallow research (give me money for 5 MIT undergraduates and a Lexis subscription and I can do a better job), one might be inclined not to buy more reports out of sheer rage.

Yes, $1000 per report is peanuts. OTOH like I said I would be surprised if anyone has ever paid a nickel of their own money for a CERA report.

Remotely possible but a more likely explanation is they are very smart folks playing a game by the old rules (that and the Planck Problem, self-deception and a good dose of other cognitive biases). CERA is well known but their prognostications are hardly considered the bible, and haven't been for a long time.

Two of my favourite Wikipedia articles:


I send these to people constantly, although I get the impression nobody ever reads them. I think Informal Logic was the most depressing university course I ever took.

IHS/CERA is staffed by people who only have 16 waking hours in the day, just like the rest of us, and who are heavily invested in their prior research and thus disinclined to turn about face with their prognostications.

Don't attribute to malice or conspiracies to what is more easily explained by ignorance.

     my very best to you, Dan

My latest ASPO-USA column should be of interest if you care about the relationship (or lack thereof) between the presidential candidates and peak oil. (Look for the entertaining bits).

Ignoring the Elephant in the Room

-- Dave

It doesn't matter anyway...

They're Global Citizens. They're Hugely Rich. And They Pull the Strings.

We didn't elect them. We can't throw them out. And they're getting more powerful every day.

Call them the superclass.

At the moment, Americans are fixated on the political campaign. In the meantime, many are missing a reality of the global era that may matter much more than their presidential choice: On an ever-growing list of issues, the big decisions are being made or profoundly influenced by a little-understood international network of business, financial, government, cultural and military leaders who are beyond the reach of American voters.

It's this group I've referred to when writing about the dominant class/power structure. This is the group Christopher Lasch's book Revolt of the Elite targeted. Pat Buchannan's been railing at them for years now. There is one word I wouldn't use to describe them--Citizens--for they are not civic or civil in any sense. They fancy themselves as Plato's Philosopher Kings, while they are more like the denezins of Stratos from Star Trek's The Cloud Minders. The world would be a far better place if they were all to drop dead.

The USA has been on a steady economic decline for over 30 years now. This has coincided with the greatest wealth and power gains for the top 1% in the history of the country. IMHO oil depletion mitigation efforts will begin in earnest when the top 1% of USA citizens start hurting, and not a moment before (based on the last 30 years)-by that point it probably will be too late in any event.

It is also this disconnect, and the immoral and unethical behavior the disconnect allows, that is most responsible for my pessimism. Truly, if the people don't get bread yeast-like and rise to challenge these people, what hope is there? How do we achieve the massive changes needed when that miniscule elite class is so invested in how things are? Do they need to avoid collapse? Not really.

They can live out their lives in enclaves paid for with their billions, can they not? Their money will still have value as long as other elites are willing to trade goods/power for it. Mercenaries don't want to live among the wretched, do they? They can be bought. Has Blackwater now proven this?

The sheer number of complexities we are facing - and not one of them positive - fairly screams collapse.

We have one defense: Stop consuming. Start creating communities of whatever stripe, so long as they are striving for sustainability. And tell the governments to kiss our asses until they start doing for us rather than against us.



Nah, there is no such thing-only a conspiracy nut thinks the superrich have any influence. If they do have any influence, they are using it to make sure the USA sheeple are not bothered by oil depletion (this is all they think about).

I would say Rupert Murdoch is superrich, and he used his influence to help keep Bush in power four more years, which was four wasted years in dealing with any of our problems. The deluded morons his brainwashing network created will impede all efforts at rational analysis and action on every problem.

I've met some young wannabes of this stripe working for the our current corporate parent. Most of them are indeed pretty bright people (just ask them), but their ambition, hubris, and arrogance is exceeded only by their complete inexperience, incompetence - and all wrapped up with a total disdain for those "below" them. They move from assignment to assignment, each one a step up the corporate ladder, and they do not care a whit about the people or places "lucky" enough to serve them.

I don't know if this has been addressed before, but some time in the not to distant future when the world sees US crude and product stocks increase it will cause world prices to increase. The limited supply is going to the highest bidder leaving less for the rest.

From "Oil Choke Point Nears:"

"He says supply is more than adequate with huge new finds in the Gulf of Mexico increasing U. S. proven reserves by 60%..."

Does anybody know what in the earth this guy is talking about?

Increasing U.S. reserves by 60% sounds like pie in the sky talk to me.

It wouldn't really be all that much.

Oil reserves

United States proven oil reserves declined to a little less than 21 gigabarrels as of 2006 according to the Energy Information Administration, a 46% decline from the 39 gigabarrels it had in 1970 when the huge Alaska North Slope ('ANS') reserves were booked.

So an increase of 60% would only be 12.6 billion barrels. However I don't know of any finds of that magnitude. Perhaps he is thinking of Jack 2 which has been estimated to hold between 3 and 15 billion barrels. But there is no confirmation that it is actually that big.

Ron Patterson

Thank you Darwinian.

I suppose the answer to my question is that this guy is not seeking truth, but peddling some pet nostrum.

I fear these people who make science and technology into a religion--based on the unshakable faith that some new discovery or breakthrough will painlessly perpetuate our consumer culture forever--are going to be sadly disappointed.

It's kind of like prosperity theology.

But in both cases I think there is a misunderstanding about what sciene, or what God, are all about. Emphasis is placed upon the imposition and acceptance of some revealed truth, as opposed to a life journey in search and discovery of truth. We've turned the clock back to the 16th century.

RE: Toplink: Survey shows rise in U.S. honey bee deaths

It is hard for me to figure just where this going.

I got 6 hives a couple days ago, due to the cold spring. Fruit trees responding to photoperiod and blossoming, but not enough heat to activate the flies and other wild pollinators used for pollination in the past.

The beekeeper who brought them runs his operation to southern CA, then north thru OR and WA , and finally into the intermountain region with summer. He's of no strong opinion on CCD, might be a different problem, might not. Others I've spoken with of same mind, that overwinter loss, winterkill they term it, is normal, maybe 25%. This winter the same.

Other beekeepers much more insistent, donating 10K for research in a paywalled story. There the problem is turning out to be a new strain of Nosema, European foulbrood, resistant to most Nosema treatments. USDA-ARS is taking CCD seriously, with extensive surveys. (http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr/2008/080505.htm) Total loss is 36% for this last winter, according to USDA. One problem at the USDA level is the new ban on bee eggs or dna material, preventing researchers from attempting to build additional genetic diversity with other European bees, the US honey bee origin._

Nosema & EFB are two different pathogens.

You are right, thanks for the correction. The story was referring to a new strain of Nosema ceranae.

John Bolton: US should bomb Iranian camps

John Bolton, America’s ex-ambassador to the United Nations, has called for US air strikes on Iranian camps where insurgents are trained for war in Iraq.

Mr Bolton said that striking Iran would represent a major step towards victory in Iraq. While he acknowledged that the risk of a hostile Iranian response harming American’s overseas interests existed, he said the damage inflicted by Tehran would be “far higher” if Washington took no action.

“This is a case where the use of military force against a training camp to show the Iranians we’re not going to tolerate this is really the most prudent thing to do,” he said. “Then the ball would be in Iran’s court to draw the appropriate lesson to stop harming our troops.”

Mr Bolton, an influential former member of President George W Bush’s inner circle, dismissed as “dead wrong” reported British intelligence conclusions that the US military had overstated the support that Iran was providing to Iraqi fighters.

Bolton is just seeking to a way to solve the problem of high oil prices. Disrupt shipping in the Straits of Hormuz and oil could be $200 by summer. That should cause enough economic disruption in the already weakened US economy to bring on "The Great Depression: Part Deux". US demand for oil will plummet, and the problem of high oil prices will be solved.

Anyone remember how we ruined Cambodia? It started with that pesky Ho Chi Minh Trail.

And so it begins... (again)

I wonder if the current administration can pull of their Iran War before GW heads for the exit.

And whether any change at the helm will make any difference regarding Iran...

I wonder if the current administration can pull of their Iran War before GW heads for the exit.

Yes, and couple of months ago I predicted it for April-May and said I would come back and say I was wrong if it didn't happen.

I was wrong.

(It was pushed back to Aug-Sept. Oil to $250 and Market Crash by Oct 7th )

I'll do the same if everything is rosey on Nov. 1st.

I think they will take a whack as they are packing up to leave.

Oil to $250 and Market Crash by Oct 7th )

This is my same time frame. The way I look at it. For the little global growth game to continue, with out everything going hay wire, the world needs two things to happen. The american consumer has to die and the have to take out Iran because they are a thorn in the world domination game.

Yes, I agree with George Ure over at www.UrbanSurvival.com on the timing.

If you were flying a plane that you knew was running out of fuel fast, What would you do? You would try Pick WHERE you were going to crash/land. If they know it's all going down, Then they may try to make it their choice.

We may be seeing "Gunner" Cheney's pick as to how it crashes.
Probably wrong again( hoping against hope).

And then today.

Asia Times: Monetary Crisis Likely to Occur Before November Election

Relief engendered by the latest US GDP figures is misplaced, given recent monetary and fiscal inputs. Gradually increasing output and the optimistic stock market will sooner or later be confronted by consumer price figures. At that point, the US will suffer a monetary and political crisis. Awkwardly, that is more likely to occur before November's US presidential election.


"Asia Times: Monetary Crisis Likely to Occur Before November Election"

Of course, that makes sense. They need a ton of demand destruction to take power away from the "bad" guys. Kind of a controlled demolishion of the world economy. This high stakes poker game amongst the world powers scares the shit out of me. Either way we lose.

Bolton just advocated a terrorist act, a crime against humanity and supposedly against US law. If I threaten to punch your lights out, that's assault--a crime. Battery is the actual physical act. Boulton and his ilk are Barbarians.

Are conservatives happier than liberals?

Individuals with conservative ideologies are happier than liberal-leaners, and new research pinpoints the reason: Conservatives rationalize social and economic inequalities.

Regardless of marital status, income or church attendance, right-wing individuals reported greater life satisfaction and well-being than left-wingers, the new study found. Conservatives also scored highest on measures of rationalization, which gauge a person's tendency to justify, or explain away, inequalities.

Is that right? One is happier because they 'Report' being happier?

Of course, we're all in the same boat.. heading towards the same waterfall.. It's just that some (not necessarily left or right wing) are 'abaft'.. looking merrily upstream, while others are at the bow, looking down..

Then there are those who are simply not looking.. including possibly the captain and much of the crew.

It's not ignorance.. it's Bliss!

Is that right? One is happier because they 'Report' being happier?

Yes, actually. I think it comes from the simplicity of their world: You're bad, I'm not. I have a McMansion, you don't. Because you're lazy. And don't wear a US flag lapel pin.


Obviously the report is by some Goddam pinko commie-loving liberal terrorists.
All right-thinking people know that Conservatives are happier because they are more in tune with God's will.

I think that's been well known, at least anecdotally, for some time. It relates to one of my favourite psych studies, "Judgment of Contingency in Depressed and Nondepressed Students: Sadder but Wiser?" Journal of Experimental Psychology: General by Alloy and Abramson (1979)

The money quote: "Nondepressed people succumb to cognitive illusions that enable them to see both themselves and their environment with a rosy glow."

Who says the increased incidence of depression is a bad thing?

To expand upon that point, Randolph Nesse at the University of Michigan (website: http://www-personal.umich.edu/~nesse/ ) has various theories as to why depression is an evolutionary adaptation to poorly thought out and unsustainable societies (forgive me if it was TOD that directed me there in the first place).

I often tell people that "if you're not crazy in today's world, you're crazy."

Also, judging by the photo of Ol' Delusional Danny Boy Yergin upthread, he seems like a pretty happy guy... need I say more?

I remember reading about a similar study, that found clinically depressed people were the only ones who were realistic. "Normal" people believe their situations are much better than they actually are, and that they have far more control over their situations than they actually have.

Which led to one journalist speculating that the reason they were depressed was that they were surrounded by Pollyannas, constantly blundering around in impermeable rose-colored glasses...

I wonder if those who were carrying out the study were clinically depressed?
That could create their perception - it is kinda tough to determine what is someone's 'true' situation - it is more of a value judgement.

In that study participants were asked to predict how people would answer a questionnaire about them. When the predictions were compared to actual questionnaires it was found that depressed people were much more accurate in their predictions of how other people would see them than were normal people.

yeah, if you weren't depressed, why would you be that bothered about what they thought?
Just assume the best until proved wrong - that is why you don't waste mental energy on worrying about other's opinions.

The way they did it was they interviewed the subjects and asked about various life situations. Job, family, romance, etc.

They got an independent judging firm to rate the subjects' situations, and compared it the self-ratings.

So the feelings of the researchers really didn't enter into it.

I wasn't being entirely serious......

Although I do remember a story about a sociologist in the thirties, who went to Polynesia, or somewhere in that locality, I believe, and after extensive interviews with the teenage girls wrote a massive tomb about their free and easy sex lives. and it was supposed to be a standard reference work for years, showing the repressive nature of modern society as against the wonderful, natural, 'primitive' societies.

The story goes that no-one bothered to check it for years, and it was thirty years later that someone went back to talk to the girls who were part of the study about it.

It turned out they were winding her up, and making up stories for a laugh!

It is probably apocryphal, but I love the idea of a po-faced researcher being taken for a ride.

You are thinking of Margaret Mead, and your recollection is pretty much correct.

If you are realistic, what is there not to be depressed about? I mean that seriously - if you have a fairly deep understanding of history, ecology, current events, etc., why in the world would you be cheerful?

Perhaps because recognising the vanity of all things you are at peace.

Or maybe because Manchester United is in with a chance of both the European cup and the Premiere League title!

It's probably been 20 yrs ago I read a report about happiness and it was a world wide study.The subjects were asked what made them happy what was shocking is only about a dozen countries, if I remember right citizens even thought about what made them happy.The citizens of the other countries surveyed didn't have time to think about what made them happy they were busy trying to earn or work enough to stay alive.

My favorite quote on this is from Ashleigh Brilliant. Something to the effect of, "I feel much better now that I've given up all hope."

Even better is : "Blessed are those with low expectations, for they shall not be disappointed."

"Normal" people believe their situations are much better than they actually are, and that they have far more control over their situations than they actually have.

Ordinary people have the ability not to think about things they do not want to think about.

- Blaise Pascal

I remember seeing something similar, to the effect that people with depression are easy to treat, because they actually have a pretty good grasp of reality. People with personality disorders, on the other hand, are very difficult to treat, because they have a fundamentally flawed view of reality.

Leanen, another excerpt from your link:

Research suggests that highly egalitarian women are less happy in their marriages compared with their more traditional counterparts, apparently because they are more troubled by disparities in domestic labor.

Yes, and they complain about having to do 80% of the childminding. Then they end up divorced – and doing 100% of the childminding.

Does one really need 'research' to suggest this?

Research suggests that:

- highly egalitarian women turn most men off;
- highly egalitarian women tend to get replaced by mail-order brides;
- highly egalitarian women, being unattractive to men, tend to rationalise their personal problems by complaining about how unattractive men are to them;
- highly egalitarian women are less likely to reproduce;
- highly egalitarian women are evolutionary non-starters;
- but since peak oil is already there, or peak potassium, or peak drinking water, I don't suppose all that matters very much any more.

A little bitter, are we?

highly egalitarian women are evolutionary non-starters;

If so, they wouldn't exist. But apparently, they do, which means some men like them.

FWIW, I suspect the natural human family structure is based around egalitarian women. That is, a social structure built around females and their children, with males sort of wandering in and out.

What keeps people together lifelong is generally economics. In our foraging past, everyone could generally provide for themselves, so it wasn't necessary to pair off permanently. The farming lifestyle, OTOH, pretty much required people to pair off long-term. The fossil fuel fiesta has once again made it possible for females to support themselves, and so we are reverting to our natural pattern.

A little bitter, are we?

highly egalitarian women are evolutionary non-starters;

If so, they wouldn't exist. But apparently, they do, which means some men like them.

Wouldn't have it any other way.

Interestingly enough, one of the most egalitarian, mytical, independent women I've ever known still wanted a man who was in control in the bedroom. (It was not me.) Perhaps some things stay at the genetic level regardless of socialization... Might explain why they still exist.


I prefer strong women, so I am told.....

What a crock. Not every guy is afraid of strong women. There are many things I wish I had prepared for the world that is coming, but hands down the one biggest advantage I have is my relationship with my strong, "egalitarian" wife.

Maybe the women studied are not happy in their marriages because they are capable of making a correct judgment that their partners aren't worth a shit.

(1) Reality doesn't care about your happiness. It just is.

(2) So, if you're intellectually honest and intellectually curious and bright enough to apply critical thought to wherever your mind takes you and your willing to entertain the logical deductions of that application you just might accrue something resembling an accurate simulacrum of reality in your mind. Now return to (1).

Looking into the abyss and all that...

(Note that it is certainly a generalization to suggest (2) excludes conservatives, but in my experience this is typically the case.)

Reality is what happens whether you believe in it or not.

Edit: the fragment "to apply critical thought to wherever your mind takes you" should be "to apply critical thought to wherever your mind takes you or whenever new information is presented."

There must be a subroutine in your thought cycle for comparing empirical information with the existing "simulacrum" for refinement. Science 101.

Credible scientists would never give weight to a study based on self-reporting. Popular Conservative Roger Clemens reports that he only shoots B12, never roids (only his wife does GroHo) and he only bangs his wife, never jail bait.

I had been following Russian production regularly at http://www.riatec.ru/en/ where they updated their oil production figures almost daily. You could see a slow but steady decline from the last quarter of last year. Ron (Darwinian) noticed last week that they seem to have stopped updating their figures. I was hoping it was a temporary glitch, but they've been stuck on April 24 for two weeks now. If anyone knows of another web site where this data is kept up to date, a number of us would appreciate it. It may be a case of the Russians no longer wanting to put the news out now that it's turned bad.

The NYT is reporting that the Senate wants to stop purchases for the SPI until oil averages at or below $75 a barrel for at least 3 months. http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/washington/politics-usa-senate-energy.html


so that would be never in other words?

People still think this is a "temporary spike"...

A lot of people seem fearful of Peak Oil and I don't think they need to worry nearly as much. The number one concern is that civilization is so far out past 'sustainability' that we'll all perish in some economic cataclysm. This apocolyptic thinking is exciting, but unfounded.

I grew up American with 4 brothers and sisters and received food stamps, welfare when my parents divorced, WIC food during bad times, and free school-lunch throughout my public schooling. We lived in the poor sections of the city and the country, eeking out a really full life. Most of our problems weren't caused by poverty, but by alcoholism and mental illness. I remember the times when both my parents had it together and we were poor. I remember the candlelit dinners of potatos and onions. I remember taking walks as a form of entertainment and telling stories to each other. When the alcohism and mental illness subsided, we could be poor and independent. When my parents were ill, it took all the resources of the state, help from people in our church, good friends, and extended family to keep us from slipping into destitution.

This upbringing taught me that we can live with so much less than we're used to. I'm continually surprised that people can't imagine a life without a massive car, house, thermostat at 75 in the winter and 65 in the summer. We don't need to get and give 100 useless gifts for Christmas. Its just not a big deal to slim down.

I don't want to sound too mystical, but its so simple. Let go of the desires that are hurting you and embrace new things that help you. I used to drive a 1982 Chevy El Camino and I loved it. It got horrible gas mileage and broke all the time. But the chicks digged it and cops would never give me a ticket in it (I had Barry White on an 8 track). At a certain point it was costing me too much in $, and my health. It was time to let it go. I got a bike and made sure that my job and home were close enough. Its called lifestyle design (or in my case redesign). I no longer spend thousands of dollars per year on gas, repairs, parking, tickets, and all the other insanity of owning a car. I now spend $400 per year and have a perfectly maintained bicycle that I use as excersize too.

Next is what to do about heating oil, right? When I lived in Brooklyn I didn't want to freeze in the winter, but I didn't want to pay a zillion dollars to the oil/gas/electric companies. So I got a heating stove that could burn both coal and wood. The stove put out tons of heat, but it required tending. This provided me with hours of entertainment stoking the fire, and it kept me from freezing. It was very cheap. Pennsylvania has more anthracite coal than you can imagine and the east coast of the US never has to worry about freezing. You could also move to the west coast and pretty much avoid heating bills entirely.

So I've covered transportation, and heating. For each problem that declining fossil fuels present, I can counter that we just need to use less.

People worry about food too. Think potatos and onions. A little bit of bacon for flavor goes a long way. But you don't need to feast on it. What I'm trying to get at is pragmatic decision making based neither on hubris nor ideology. Be adaptable, and be prepared to loose some things that are not necessary. A burning rod only hurts you as long as you hold onto it.

You and I and many here might understand the concept of doing with less. The problem is the millions who have no concept of doing with less and want everything now. Try taking their 'excess' from them, thats where our civilisation starts to break down. Three or four generations have now grown up in the west who have not know hardship. There was a quote I read a few years back attributed in the UK to MI5 who reackoned our society was 3 meals from anarchy. I believe it is probably not far from the truth.

I think even more importantly by making do with less, you put people out of work - and then how do they make do at all? GM goes belly-up and puts it's workers on the street - now they can't pay their mortgages, they can't buy new iPods or flat-screen tv's - making do with less sounds great on a personal level (I've been doing it for years - moved to walking distance from work etc.) - but on a societal level, it has some pretty profound implications for BAU

Jonnie, you may be preaching to the choir on this site as most of the people here try hard to deal with the prospective reality. We may not be successful, but we have no illusions. You on the otherhand are well positioned because you know you can survive on less and have much less to lose.

So that takes care of about 0.0001% of the population. It's the other 99.999% we worry about. The desperate mob is unpredictable and a psychopath.

I agree, we can do without a lot less - a lot. Although the irony is not lost on me as I type this using my 42" plasma TV as a monitor.

When times are fat, enjoy and celebrate. When times are lean, grumbling bellies suck. But a small amount of preparedness, and a lot of adaptibility are what's required to do OK in the leanest of times.

It appears from above that people are afraid of their neighbors getting violent if times get lean. Then I would say the best way to avoid that would be to get to know your neighbors.

My main point is that the response to peak oil is a personal and social issue.

BC_EE, enjoy your monitor! In the next few months I'll be moving up to something a little bigger than my 7" eeePC screen. It was allright for a 3 month bike trip from Seattle to Tucson, but its a bit small for blogging.

One thing I also have been researching is electricity. I have to admit its really nice to have. Certain places of the world have a lot of hydroelectric power already online. It takes very little work to keep these big dams going. They could theoretically go until it stops raining. The pacific northwest of the US has tons of cheap electricity which will become more expensive as other sources dry up, but will always be there. Canada makes tons of aluminum because of its huge surplus of electricity. And here in Austria, I checked and they get 75% of their electricity from hydro also.

Does anyone know of a source that compiles regional electricity production methods?

It would be helpful to live or move to place that has a lot of local non-fossil fuel production. Some will be quick to point out that contracts may force the export of electricity in Wasington to California. In my experience posession is 9/10ths of the law and when push comes to shove, the resources that are hard to ship stay local.

U.S. Consumer Debt Rises More Than Forecast in March

May 7 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. consumer borrowing jumped more than double the amount economists forecast in March, indicating a slowing economy is forcing Americans to accumulate credit-card and other forms of debt.

Consumer credit increased by $15.3 billion for the month to $2.56 trillion, the biggest monthly rise since November, the Federal Reserve said today in Washington. In February, credit rose by $6.5 billion, previously reported as an increase of $5.2 billion. The Fed's report doesn't cover borrowing secured by real estate, such as home-equity loans.

Consumers are turning to credit cards after banks tightened standards for home-equity loans and other borrowing. The March figures brought U.S. consumer borrowing in the first quarter to $34 billion, the most since the first three months of 2001, when the economy entered its last official recession.

``Consumers are strapped as incomes are not keeping up with inflation and this is leading them to rely increasingly on credit to see them through the worst housing downturn since the Great Depression,'' said Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi in New York. ``The days of extracting cash from one's home to spend on goods and services are long gone.''

I'm bored, anyone want to debate peak oil vs. climate change:

1. Which will be a bigger problem over the next ten years

2. 20 years? 50 years?

3. Which will the sheeple be talking about more in 5 years? 10 years?

4. Does any country stand to benefit from both? I'm thinking of Russia and Greenland/Denmark.

I would say the answer to the first 3 of your points is both, which makes debate moot. For #4, no country will benefit. You might rephrase #4 by asking, Which country stands to lose the least? I would answer the Congo, as they essentailly have nothing material to lose now, most of it having been stolen by European Colonialists already, and are landlocked in a climatic zone unlikely to change much.

1,2 & 3 => Peak Oil! and the aftermath.

4 => I think the pain will be felt by all.

I expect mass migrations of people chasing rumors of a better life elsewhere. This should make Mexican immigration to US or Haitian boat people exodus look small in comparison.

Russia has some advantages of domestic energy sources, but I wouldn't want to live there with Emperor-for-life-Putin and rising nationalism. I smell a war coming on... Georgia/Russia is at flash point already. Georgia is not a NATO member yet, but do you think the US would idly sit back and watch Russia start to swallow satellite states again?

Georgia is a sad situation. Long ago it begged the Tsar to include it in his Empire since they needed protection from the Turks. The Abkazians are separatists similar in historic background to the Chechens. There's nothing the US can or should do about the situation.

Oh, please. What a bunch of gibberish. Russia is protecting Abkhaz people from military oppression by Georgian forces. Russia is protecting freedom and rights of Abkhaz people. You might be happy that NATO is ready to attack anybody who wants to be free, but stop making ridiculous statements "swallow satellite".

The precedent was established with Kosovo that it is OK for ethnically distinct regions to be broken away and spun off as independent statelets. Abkhazia is next, following the same precedent. Kurdistan can't be far off, and there must be several dozen other such cases around the world.


Bedtime here in Europe but one brief answer to question 3:

The sheeple will be talking about who is to blame for both peak oil and climate change. What politicians will be seeking is a good ole scapegoat, or several scapegoats. Might work again -- often did in the past in times of crisis.

Plenty of potential candidates: Big Government, Small Government, the Arabs, the immigrants, the Left, the Israelites, the Right --- etc

... or better still that little old woman who mutters to herself and lives in that tumbledown house where she sticks pins in effigies of her neighbours and causes cattle to die of murrain.

Time to kindle the faggots.

Time to kindle the faggots.

Faggot. Which one?

A bundle of sticks?

A Fag, A cigarette?

A homosexual?

Peak Oil (energy et al) will steal the show long before you can properly pronounce the name of this hillside Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateapokaiwhenuakitanatahu and by then CC is a whisper from the past....

I saw some news footage yesterday of an interview with some guy from Wall Street who claimed the price of oil was 60% speculation. Of course our modern day media interviewer did not ask the obvious question as to how he arrived at 60%. The media only seems to ask their prepared questions instead of thinking on their feet, but anyway his analysis differs from today's TOD article on record oil prices.

"Crude prices have doubled in a year and risen sixfold since 2002 on rising demand from China and other developing countries, adding pressure to economies already hard hit by a housing and credit crunch."

Rising demand coupled with limited supply are driving prices skyward. What will we do? If prices do go up to 200 dollars a barrel, what will be the impact on the economy?

Rising demand coupled with limited supply are driving prices skyward. What will we do? If prices do go up to 200 dollars a barrel, what will be the impact on the economy?

Not sure about our economy, but there will be a lot more hungry 3rd worlders.... Though, I would assume that we would be down to one national airline and the bottom half of the country would be scrapping by with the high transportation and food costs. To make matters worse they are all paying on houses they can't afford with SUVs they can not get rid of and no mass transportation.

Crude prices do not seem to be supported by increased consumption from the United States.

Inventories rose and products supplied nearly the same as last year this time.

There is a possibility that other nations less able to afford petrol might be driving less. As nations under price controls occasionally had to pass on more of the cost of petrol to their citizens or find some place in the budget to get more money, there may emerge hope of a drop off in demand.

There may emerge hope of a drop off in demand.

I think that is baked in the cake. Our leaders mitigated their own way.

CNN's Jack Cafferty had a pretty good analysis of oil prices this evening. (He actually mentioned declining production.) He is asking viewers which candidate has the best plan. The responses run the gamut, but there are some people who pointed out that none of them have a good plan, and even some mention of peak oil.

Can anyone point me to a link where historical NYMEX open interest positions for crude oil can be found? Also, is it accurate to assume that the number of contracts is somehow related to the "speculative" component of current oil prices?

I believe this was discussed a few weeks ago but I can't find the link or thread. I just want to check my assertion to someone today that the speculative component was not as big a deal as people think.

Thanks for any help.

Moe Gamble had an interesting right up on the speculative aspect of oil prices:


Net speculative longs (the number of speculator long contracts minus the number of speculator short contracts) is actually rather low right now. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission puts out a report every Friday afternoon called the Commitments of Traders Report. It tells you exactly how many speculators are long vs. short, and exactly how many commercial traders are long vs. short. Here is where you can find the report: http://www.cftc.gov/dea/futures/deanymesf.htm

Last Tuesday (April 22), when the price was first hitting a new record close to $120 (the June contract hit somewhere around $118.50), large speculators were net long a little over 70,000 contracts. But they had actually reduced their long holdings by 7,482 contracts since the week before.

What drove the price to new highs was both speculators and commercial traders closing out short positions in greater numbers than long positions. In other words, both speculators and commercial traders who were short got caught by fundamentals and had to abandon their positions, forcing the price up. Another way of saying this would be to say that both speculators and commercial traders had been holding the price "incorrectly" low the week before.

70,000 net spec longs isn't even close to anything like a record net long position for speculators. Last August, as the price was hitting $78, speculators were net long something like 115,000 contracts. They were over 100,000 net long back in December, as the price got into the upper $90s. I would classify 70,000 net spec longs as low/moderate, based on net spec long numbers over the past five years.

There have been numerous studies over the past 4-5 years about the drivers of oil prices, and none of them have shown any correlation whatsoever between the bets or behavior of speculators and oil prices. Here is a 2007 study by the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies: http://www.oxfordenergy.org/pdfs/WPM32.pdf. If you don't have time to read the whole thing, take a close look at the chart on p. 33. It shows clearly that there is no correlation between speculator long positions and oil prices.

And here is the April 3, 2008 testimony of the Chief Economist of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to the U.S. Senate regarding speculators and commodity prices: http://www.cftc.gov/stellent/groups/public/@newsroom/documents/speechand...

He shows clearly that there is no correlation between numbers of speculator contracts or speculator "herding" or net spec longs and commodity prices.

Also, speculators have always been, and remain, a small percentage of the market. The commercial traders are roughly 80% of the oil market, and believe me, speculators can do nothing to influence price if commercials jump on a high price and start selling. Commercial selling steamrolls speculators flat.

Saudi Arabia and the oil companies are blaming speculators for high oil prices to ward off attention to the real issue--commodity supply and demand imbalances. They are lying, and they know they are lying; it's a propaganda campaign to keep the masses from the truth. The media reports their lies without question, either because they're in on the propaganda campaign, or because reporters are too lazy to do their homework.


Thanks very much Peak_a_Boo. That was exactly what I was looking for.

Edit: I didn't know terminology to use for a search, but after reading Moe's post I found what i was looking for:

Historical Reports

Thanks again.

where will we get the money? mmmm...

PL seeks rate hike to cover nuclear expansion

Florida Power & Light Co. has proposed increasing customers' bills by about 2 percent a month next year to help cover the costs of expanding its nuclear plants in Florida - a move the company claims will stabilize electricity prices in years to come

The money would be used to recoup $259 million FPL has spent or will spend through 2009 on upgrading its four existing nuclear reactors and building two new ones.


HECO considering rate increase

Six months after it received a $70 million rate hike, Hawaiian Electric Co. has told the state Public Utilities Commission that it may seek a new increase.

HECO filed a notice with the state regulatory agency last week that it may file a new rate request 60 days from now to help pay for its planned $164 million power plant in Kapolei.


yeah - perfect time to raise rates in Florida as the housing market crashes, cities and the state scramble for tax revenue - foreclosures soar, home and condo auctions get no buyers at huge discounts

yep, people should be happy to pay higher rates...no problems

macduff- substitute rates with oil...

Was just listening to Pelosi and crew on CSPAN discussing oil prices. They are saying 1/3 of the price of a barrel of oil is speculative. They say over 9000 permits to drill oil have not been utilized. That we could be boosting procudction if we just tried. Bush is a whacko for wanting to drill ANWR since we can drill elsewhere. Filling the SPR is rediculous. blah blah blah.

My TOD education sure comes in useful for recognizing BS.

I wonder if "elsewhere" includes off the coast of California? That would be an interesting thing for Pelosi to advocate. . .

GWB helped out brother Jeb by stopping drilling off the coast of Florida. But the Cubans can still do it :-)

Odd that fact rarely gets mentioned.


So Bush will be making another petroleum hadj next week, eh?
The once all-powerful president now sliding into irrelevancy, impotence...like a fallen rock star knocking at the door of his pusher at 3a.m.
Up until yesterday he could scare Abdullah with HRC & the anti-OPEC demagogues.
But by next week...
His Excellency will receive Bush under somewhat different circumstances and his decision will be...
Either attempt to accommodate the supplicant Americans and thereby attempt to maintain the status quo in US-Saudi relations, or...
give the subtlest of hints that a meaningful boost in production is not possible at this time.
I suspect the House of Saud is acutely aware of American political dynamics and is presently weighing Obama vs. Mccain.
would they put their thumb on the scale?

Hello TODers,

More evidence of the double whammy of FF & sulfur costs putting the kibosh on I-NPK fertilizer for the poor farmer?

Inflation reverses price boon for Filipino farmers

Trinidad Domingo has just harvested rice from her modest farm in the northern Philippines, but with the price of fertilizer and oil skyrocketing she says she might sit out the next planting season.

Just like many small scale rice farmers in Asia, Domingo -- who farms two hectares (5 acres) -- has not seen any benefit from the record prices being paid for the staple.

Instead they have found themselves saddled with rising fuel and fertilizer costs, and the diminishing returns that result from higher costs.

...But for Domingo, who supports an extended family of more than 20 siblings, in-laws, nephews and nieces, comfort can be found in the land she tills.
Yikes! That is all I can say.

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

For Leanan or anyone:

A few days back a chart was posted showing front month futures prices with trailing month prices. The chart had the front month plotted with trailing months every couple of months back for about 18 months. About 6 or 7 curves.

I thought I had it saved but now I can not find it. Address please thanks.