DrumBeat: June 2, 2008

Pipe Dreams

Alaskans are pinning their hopes on a 30-year-old dream to tap the state's massive natural-gas fields, the largest in the nation, and ship the gas down a multi-billion-dollar pipeline to produce heat and electricity in the lower 48 states. Supporters say it would be the largest private-energy project in U.S. history, one that would draw thousands of welders, pipe fitters and other workers northward, much like when the trans-Alaska oil pipeline was constructed in the 1970s.

The pipedream has been around since the late 1970s. Grand announcements have come and gone, sometimes at the expense of political careers. But just as with crude, natural-gas prices have soared in recent years, evident in higher utility bills in many parts of the country, making the project more feasible. Climate change has also given the project a boost. Natural gas is cleaner to burn than coal.

Bolivia grabs control of gas firm

The Bolivian government has continued its nationalisation of key industries - taking full control of a key gas pipeline company.

President Evo Morales said Transredes had been seized after the foreign firms which owned half of it failed to agree a share buy-back.

Gas prices a risk for casual restaurants, Starbucks

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Record high U.S. gas prices threaten a new level of pain for casual dining restaurants stuck between value-oriented fast food and high-end eateries whose customers can afford to shrug off the economy's woes.

Shops and restaurants around the United States are reporting fewer visitors in the face of a credit crunch, mortgage crisis and price and fuel inflation.

Now-common $4-per-gallon gas is a psychological jolt for many, said Bob Goldin, executive vice president at restaurant consulting firm Technomic.

"It's been a tipping point," he said, forecasting fewer visitors and less spending at mid-tier restaurants and coffee chain Starbucks Corp.

Bad weather closes 2 main oil export ports in Mexico, Costa Ricans still cut off after Alma

VILLAHERMOSA, Mexico: Two of Mexico's main oil export ports were closed by bad weather on Monday and officials across the southeast were evacuating low-lying communities threatened by heavy rains from the remnants of Tropical Storm Arthur.

It's the End of Days for Cheap Diesel

According to the AA's investigation, the record oil prices globally should be driving up the cost of petrol and diesel at the pump.

But while diesel prices have soared, the cost of petrol has not risen in tandem with it.

This is because American producers switched much of their production in the Gulf of Mexico to petrol, on the assumption that prices would rise.

"They took a gamble, betting on high gasoline demand," Conor explained. "In fact consumer demand for petrol was sharply down and the industry was left with a large stock of petrol."

A reduction in human numbers is inevitable

The populations of animal species expand with available food and habitat. When the supply of these things contracts, their populations fall. Technology has enabled humans to expand their global footprint massively, and their population has surged accordingly. However, this process couldn't go on for ever.

India: Steel min seeks gas on a par with fertiliser sector

NEW DELHI: The steel industry has joined the list of sectors that are unhappy with the government’s gas utilisation policy. Aggrieved at being ignored from the list of priority sectors for gas allocation, the steel secretary has shot off a letter to the petroleum secretary seeking not only more supplies but also bringing steel on a par with the fertiliser sector.

The demand has been made in wake of acute shortage of natural gas for three plants — Essar Steel, Ispat Industries and Vikram Ispat — which use gas as fuel for making steel. While the requirement of these plants is 12.90 million metric standard cubic meter per day (mmscmd), the allocation is 5.76 mmscmd and availability 1.85 mmscmd or 32.12% of total allocation.

Pakistan: Shopkeepers asked to follow business timings

HYDERABAD: The business community of Hyderabad have been advised to close their shops by 2100 hours and avoid the usage of unnecessary voltages in order to overcome the existing power crisis.

Shell CEO, like OPEC, sees no oil shortages now

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell Chief Executive Jeroen van der Veer said on Monday he did not see any shortage of physical oil supplies, echoing the view of many OPEC ministers who say the world market is well-supplied.

Oil prices have risen more than fourfold since 2004 and gained about a third this year, partly on increased fears among investors that producers will struggle to produce enough oil to meet demand in a decade's time.

Energy crisis: The price of nearly everything will be going up

Dow Chemical Co. Sunday raised the price of all its products 20 percent, reflecting the steep climb in the cost of crude oil, gasoline, natural gas and electricity. Blaming irresponsible politicians, Dow Chairman and CEO Andrew Liveris stated, "The country now faces a true energy crisis, one that is causing serious harm to America's manufacturing sector and all consumers of energy."

Consumers, already hit by $4 gasoline and rising food prices, now will see rises in the price of almost every product and many services, including essential government services such as education and police protection.

Scrambling for Answers to Oil Shock Decisions Today Will Play Out in 10 Years In Depth: Global Energy

The surge in the price of crude oil has now reached the point where it is threatening global growth, adding urgency to the search to find new technology to either keep conventional oil flowing or supply less costly and less polluting energy alternatives.

How companies and governments navigate the treacherous energy landscape - which some analysts liken to the oil shocks of the 1970s and early 1980s - will shape the future of the global economy and could potentially tilt the delicate geopolitical balance, experts said.

Nine out of ten Americans making lifestyle changes to cope with rising energy costs, RBC survey says

"NIMBYism" on the Decline as Americans Grapple with Solutions Four in Ten Have Considered Moving Closer to Their Place of Work to Save on Transportation Costs

NEW YORK /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ - Ninety per cent of Americans have made changes in their daily lives to counter higher energy prices, according to an annual energy survey released today by RBC Capital Markets, one of North America's leading energy investment banks. And while six out of 10 say they would rather pay more for cleaner fuels, an almost equal number of Americans (58 per cent) say it is more important to keep the green in their wallets than to participate in green initiatives.

PetroChina to increase diesel output by 7% in June to ease fuel shortage

BEIJING (Xinhua) -- PetroChina said on Monday that it would increase its monthly diesel production by 7 percent in June month-on-month, to ease the current fuel shortages partly caused by the May 12 quake relief work.

Operation of a PetroChina refinery in Nanchong city, Sichuan Province, was halted after the deadly earthquake and the busy summer harvest season also contributed to the rising domestic fuel demand, said the company.

EU-wide fuel tax cut a recipe for trouble

Justin Urquhart Stewart, director of Seven Investment Management in London, told New Europe that although the protest may prompt ministers to rethink planned fuel tax increases, a decrease in fuel taxation is not going to happen. “The government doesn’t have the money and it goes against everything they are trying to achieve,” he said, adding that a fuel tax cut would hurt the Labour government, which has borrowed a huge amount of money and is now trying to repay its debt. The government is also trying to recover from the credit-crunch crisis and the disastrous Northern Rock event.

Youths try to offset high gas prices: Area youths carpooling, working longer shifts to offset gasoline prices

Young hires are asked whether they have siblings or friends working at the park and, if so, McDonald said, they are often placed within the same department so a manager can coordinate schedules to allow for carpooling.

"We try to accommodate them," she said, adding that it's mainly parents voicing concern about how much it costs to get their children to work.

Fuel costs need not dampen fun on the water

"We've seen no decrease in the number of people getting ready to go," said owner Rick Richardson. "Everybody's been talking about how much fuel has gone up, but people will still enjoy their boats. They might not drive around as much, and instead anchor out more or stay at the dock. Fuel is a very small part of owning a boat."

Oil industry attempting to change drilling restrictions

“What we’ve done is exclude about 80 percent of government land from being available for drilling,” said Bruce Bell, chairman emeritus of Mid-Continent Oil & Gas Association of Oklahoma. “Included in that is the outer continental shelf on the east and west coasts and some of the Gulf of Mexico, including areas just west of Florida. Cuba and their partners are now moving in to drill.”

Oil and Gas Industry Battens Down the Hatches for 2008 Hurricane Season

June 1 marked the beginning of the Atlantic hurricane season, a dangerous, high-risk five-month stretch for any company operating in the Gulf of Mexico. Hurricane preparedness is essential to the oil and gas industry in the Gulf of Mexico, a fact underscored by hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which in 2005 caused widespread destruction throughout the region and seriously threatened oil production. Across the industry, preparedness is the watchword.

UK's credit card has expired

Five years from now, or perhaps sooner, no one will own up to having ever had a novelty ringtone on their mobile phone, a nose stud, a taste for overpriced takeaway coffee or a ridiculously unaffordable mortgage.

Crisis lesson: Communities should unite

When the crisis began, our community leaders sought assistance from the state and federal governments. When aid wasn't forthcoming, again, rather than panic, our leaders quickly realized that we alone had to pull ourselves out of this crisis.

The city partnered with the United Way of Southeast and Catholic Community Services to form Juneau Unplugged, a program that provides grants for lower income households. The program was recently expanded to households earning as much as 300 percent of the federal poverty guideline.

Biofuels out of the forest and into your gas tank

There’s a popular myth about technology – that it keeps moving forward, getting better, faster, stronger without ever looking back. That might be true for the latest iPod, laptop, or dishwasher, but over the last five years technological innovation hasn’t met the demand for alternative, affordable fuels, leading more and more enterprising folks to look backward. The technological “advance” we call biodiesel is actually as old as the diesel engine itself. Now, with gas prices setting almost daily records, and predictions of $15 a gallon garnering air time on cable news networks, backyard tinkerers are looking back again, this time to war-era Europe.

Poking around online, Robert “Chip” Beam found that severe rationing of oil during World War II led European farmers to strap wood-burning chambers onto the back of their equipment. “They had run 90 percent of their farm equipment on charcoal at the time,” he says.

Looking to tap into the power of hot springs

For the first time since the energy crisis of the 1970s, geothermal electricity production is getting a serious look in Colorado, and Mt. Princeton Geothermal LLC hopes to build the first plant, near the hot springs.

Airlines Face ‘Desperate’ Situation, Official Says

At its annual meeting here, the association urged governments to roll back regulations that they argue are damaging the industry at a time when many carriers are in a “desperate” situation.

If price of oil, which is now just below $130 a barrel, averages $107 over 2008, the aviation industry would lose $2.3 billion for the year, the chief executive of the group, Giovanni Bisignani, said. Should it hold at $135 a barrel for the rest of the year, the industry will lose $6.1 billion.

“After enormous efficiency gains since 2001, there is no fat left and skyrocketing oil prices are changing everything,” Mr. Bisignani said. “The situation is desperate and potentially more destructive than our recent battles with all the Horsemen of the Apocalypse combined.”

Yuba homebuyers face mounting commuting costs

The housing downturn has hit communities all around the region hard. But as commuters like the Robertses and the Prados suffer individually at the gas pumps in Yuba County, real estate experts are looking beyond mortgage and credit issues and are now starting to ask larger questions about the impact of expensive oil on such far-flung neighborhoods whose futures were tied to a metropolis many miles away:

Could they become a suburban equivalent of ghost towns? Will they languish for years while awaiting local job growth, more fuel-efficient cars and a vibrant mass transit system? Is this the end of that kind of residential growth?

Limits of Economic Growth in Latin America

Today, similar warnings have become common, but what is shocking about this case is the fact that they come more than 30 years after the book The Limits to Growth. This study, published in 1972 by Donella Meadows and colleagues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, questioned whether environmental limits render continuous economic growth possible. Immediately, controversy arose on all sides. Conservative groups and businesses rejected the existence of the effect of ecological limits on exponential economic growth, and they also minimized the reduction of natural resources and the importance of environmental impact. But many left-wing groups during that period also questioned the study, seeing it as a bourgeois imposition or a neo-Malthusian demand that would impede the development of third world countries.

Today the food crisis and the question of peak oil once again expose those warnings on environmental limits and confront conventional defensive strategies for continuous economic growth.

Essential Video: PEAK OIL

Lindsey Williams talks about his first hand knowledge of Alaskan oil reserves larger than any on earth. And he talks about how the oil companies and U.S. government won't send it through the pipeline for U.S. citizens to use.

New Zealand: Greens' fears of old enemy colour views

Pricey food might also be crowding out climate change and peak oil messages for households worried about more immediate – if not more important – issues than saving the planet. In a recession – if that's what this is – eating cheaply may be more of a concern than acting locally and thinking globally.

And you do have to wonder how the traditional Green message would go down with the stretched middle classes; that high fuel bills ought to go higher, in the interests of setting a price for carbon, incentivising households and encouraging innovation.

Future of oil prices is anyone's guess

Memorial Day, which marks the beginning of the summer driving season in the U.S., saw gas prices at nearly $4 a gallon all over the country and even higher in states such as Florida.

Globally, the picture looks more worrisome: Oil prices crossed a record $135 a barrel during the weekend of May 24-25, although by Tuesday prices had come down to $131. What's behind these regular flare-ups in oil prices? What are the major economic and geopolitical factors at work? How does expensive oil affect the U.S. and world markets, and what can we expect over the coming months? Knowledge@Wharton discussed these questions with finance professor Jeremy Siegel, author of The Future for Investors, and management professor Witold Henisz.

Russia cuts May oil output 0.7% on year to 9.699 mil b/d

Russia's crude output was 41.189 million mt (9.699 million barrels/day) in May, down 0.7% from the same period a year ago, preliminary figures from the country's industry and energy ministry showed Monday.

The May figure was in line with the downward trend in the country's upstream sector as its resource base depletes. It supports concerns that Russia may this year see the first fall in annual oil production since 1998.

Oil companies may resist calls for renewables

NEW YORK/LONDON (Reuters) - Oil companies are facing more and more calls from shareholders to invest in alternative energy but the companies themselves may lack the profit motive, the entrepreneurial skills or indeed the will to satisfy their demands.

Steinbrueck Rejects Political Intervention to Curb Oil Prices

(Bloomberg) -- German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck said he opposes political interference to tame rising oil prices because such steps backfired in the past.

In comments to reporters today in Frankfurt, Steinbrueck, a Social Democrat, urged European Union leaders and their counterparts in the Group of Eight industrial states to stick to a 2005 accord that leaves energy markets free of price caps.

High oil prices to blame for decline in automobile markets

PARIS (Xinhua) -- Carlos Ghosn, executive president of the French automotive group Renault-Nissan, has said that a "large portion of the recession" that is being experienced in the world automobile market is as a direct result of rising oil prices and volatility of raw materials.

Food prices are rocketing all over Europe

It's not just us. All over Europe, the rocketing cost of food and fuel is straining family budgets, stirring unrest and shaking governments. David Blair examines the roots and the impact of a widening crisis.

How to manufacture a global food crisis: The destruction of agriculture in developing countries

The global rise in food prices is not only a consequence of using food crops to produce biofuels, but of the "free trade" policies promoted by international financial institutions. Now peasant organisations are leading the opposition to a capitalist industrial agriculture.

Ryanair to ground 10pc of fleet

Ryanair, the low-cost Irish carrier, will this week announce plans to ground at least 10 per cent of its fleet over the winter, according to analysts.

The company, which is reporting full-year results, is also set to slash profit forecasts for the current year because of the soaring oil price.

Soaring oil price sets airlines on course to recession, expert says

The global airline industry is facing a recession far more severe than the slowdown endured after the terrorist attacks of 2001, a leading aviation expert claims.

Stone Age lesson on taming the oil price

Just as the credit crunch seems to be ending, the world faces a much more serious economic threat: the explosion of oil prices and the possibility of a return to 1970s-style inflation. Inflation is a more dangerous economic ill than deflation because it is so much harder to cure. Falling prices can be cured easily enough. All governments and central banks have to do is cut interest rates, cut taxes and boost public spending. These are popular steps that readily win political and business support.

The policies required to deal with inflation are, by contrast, always painful and unpopular - raising interest and taxes; cutting government spending and curbing public employees' pay. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that only one country in the world - Japan - has faced a serious deflation problem since the 1930s, while inflation crises have afflicted every market economy in the postwar era and have triggered almost every big recession since 1945. The question, now that the focus of attention is moving beyond the credit crunch, is whether this sad history is likely to repeat itself in the year or two ahead.

Iran Expands Fleet of Oil Tankers Idling in Persian Gulf to 14

(Bloomberg) -- Iran, OPEC's second-largest oil producer, increased the number of tankers idling in the Persian Gulf to at least 14, indicating it may be storing more crude, ship-tracking data show.

Iran has at least 14 very large crude carriers, or VLCCs, floating near Kharg Island, a loading facility. In April, there were 10, holding at least 20 million barrels of oil, people familiar with the situation said at the time. Shipbrokers also reported that Iran hired three more tankers, which have been near Kharg Island for at least two weeks.

Opec piles on the pain

"If China were to use the same amount of oil per person as Europeans, it would require an additional 36 million barrels per day, about the same as the oil production of four Saudi Arabia's," John Westwood, chairman of energy analyst Douglas-Westwood told delegates recently at the All Energy Conference in Aberdeen, Scotland.

The "peak oil scenario" is approaching far more quickly than anybody expected, he said. And a number of key experts now believe that the world will never exceed its current level of production as new fields fail to compensate for declining ones.

Ridership on mass transit breaks records

More people are riding the nation's buses and trains, breaking records for the first quarter of the year. Transit operators expect the increase to be greater in the second quarter as gasoline prices soar.

A report set for release today by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) shows trips on public transit January-March rose 3% over the same period last year to 2.6 billion rides. Light rails saw the biggest jump: 10% to 110 million trips.

Heating oil sticker shock to hit New England

PORTLAND, Maine - While people in most of the country may be worried about their summer air conditioning bills, many residents in the Northeast are way beyond that: They're already thinking ahead to next winter's heating bills.

And what those who heat their houses with oil are seeing is giving them sticker shock.

Soaring fuel prices drive some to try four-day workweeks

Escalating gas prices are prodding businesses and local governments to take a drastic step to curb costs: Many are cutting back to four-day workweeks, with employees generally working four 10-hour days instead of five eight-hour days.

In most cases, they're acting because of pressure from employees who want shorter workweeks, which generally mean lower driving costs. Companies and local government offices are shortening individual workweeks with staggered schedules, but in most cases, staying open five days.

It's a sign of how deeply gas prices are cutting into employees' pay and businesses' bottom lines. The last time four-day workweeks came into vogue was during the gas run-up in the 1970s.

Frugal drivers don’t top off tank, run out of gas

Though national statistics on out-of-gas motorists don't exist, there's plenty of anecdotal evidence that drivers unwilling or unable to fill 'er up are gambling by keeping their tanks extremely low on fuel.

In the Philadelphia area, where the average price for a gallon of regular broke $4 on Friday, calls from out-of-gas AAA members doubled between May 2007 and May 2008, from 81 to 161, the auto club reported.

"The number one reason is they can't stretch their money out from week to week," said Gary Siley, the AAA mobile technician who helped Saba.

States use ads to give residents vacation ideas close to home

NEW YORK — As Americans put the brakes on their summer travel plans, state tourism offices are trying to lure vacationers from nearby with regional ads that promote destinations that can be reached on one tank of gas.

A recent USA TODAY/Gallup Poll shows that one-third of Americans are rethinking vacation plans because of gas prices. Record high gas prices that average nearly $4 a gallon nationwide as well as air travel hassles and higher prices are prompting some people to pack in their vacation plans.

Half of Papua New Guinea's forests gone by 2021: study

PORT MORESBY (AFP) - Half of Papua New Guinea's forests will be lost or damaged in just over a decade, speeding up local climate change, unless logging is dramatically reduced, a study released Monday found.

The University of Papua New Guinea report, which used satellite images to show the loss in forest cover between 1972 and 2002, found that at current rates, 53 percent of forest was at risk of being destroyed by 2021.

Senate to take up climate bill

WASHINGTON - Most senators acknowledge that climate change poses a major environmental threat, but getting agreement on how to deal with it is another matter.

The Senate on Monday will take up legislation that calls for cutting carbon dioxide and other so-called greenhouse gases by about 70 percent from power plants, refineries, factories and transportation by mid-century.

But the bill's chances of passing the Senate are viewed as slim as its supporters are not expected to muster the 60 votes needed to overcome a certain filibuster threat. Prospects in the House are even less certain.

Further to the post from 'The Times' and Anatole Kaletski quoted above:
'Stone Age Lessons' it is perhaps worth noting the conclusions from this mainstream economist:

If such measures are adopted, there can be no doubt that the price mechanism will cut long-term oil demand drastically. So much so that the peak oil thesis about the inevitable dwindling of global oil production will almost certainly stay untested and unproven; for, in the end, a large part of the world's oil supplies will be abandoned for ever, virtually worthless, in the ground.

It seems that we are worrying ourselves unnecessarily!

Inflation is a more dangerous economic ill than deflation because it is so much harder to cure.

That is a bizarre statement. Nobody really knows how to end a depression, other than start a war. The Long Depression in Britain lasted for decades. The Great Depression didn't end until WWII. Japan's depression still hasn't ended, and is showing signs of getting worse. Central bankers will do anything, anything at all, to prevent deflation. Inflation just requires political will to cure.

On the other hand, current economic theory (Chicago school) holds that modest inflation is a good thing. Friedman thought 3% was the ideal amount, and central bankers the world round target something close to that. In addition, governments like to spend money like drunken sailors, which will almost always lead to inflation. Also (and maybe most importantly) banks like inflation. Since banks control the money supply, it means there will always be incentive for them to expand the money supply too fast.

That is a bizarre statement. Also a lie.

The Fed has lived on inflation since it's birth in 1913.

Everything is being done since 071707 to prevent deflation.

But the destruction of derivatives' debt insures it.

Which will go first-the Fed or our Social Security.

Shargash, Mcgowanmc...I could not believe my eyes when reading the bit of rubbish posted regarding fighting deflation vs inflation.

One can only marvel at statements such as: 'Inflation is a more dangerous economic ill than deflation because it is so much harder to cure. Falling prices can be cured easily enough. All governments and central banks have to do is cut interest rates, cut taxes and boost public spending. These are popular steps that readily win political and business support.'

Lets look at the example of Japan. Japan cut their prime rate to ZERO PER CENT and what happened? The Yen became a currency for the carry trade use and Japanese banks became zombiezed. ZIRP...and, Japan is still stuck. Japanese banks provide services for the carry trade which does absolutely nothing for the Japanese economy. The truth is: No one knows how to fight zero bound deflation or Japan would not still be in ZIRP land. If deflation is so easy to remedy then why was the US stuck in a deflationary depression for 12 years leading up to WW2? As far as boosting public spending?...Well, the collapse of housing prices has left many US consumers tapped out, unable to access home loan lines of credit because their homes are not worth what is owed on them. The US consumer is not going to lead the US out of this train wreck recession unless home prices drop to or below historical norms or wages are raised enough for consumers to once again have discreationary income...and what does the Fed fear more than anything? The consumers perception that inflation will not 'stay anchored', but continue on an upward climb. As Von Mises said 'once the consumer becomes firmly convinced that a fiat currency will continue to lose value (purchasing power) then that fiat currency is finished.' paraphrased. Inflation can spiral out of control very quickly...check out the examples of Weimar Germany, Zimbabwe, and countless others.

Lets look at the other rediculous statement:'Inflation is a more dangerous economic ill than deflation because it is so much harder to cure.' That is total, inmitigated, BS!

Inflation is the one thing that central bankers know, without a doubt, how to cure. 'Mr. Volcker inherited about as big a mess as we have today. He worked out what he had to do and did it with unusual lack of concern about what Congress thought of the necessary pain involved and the number of enemies he might make. He paid the price for forthright behavior by being replaced, despite a record for correct and tough behavior that makes for the most invidious comparison today.'

What did Volker do? He increased interest rates till the weak sisters collapsed and cleansed the economy of marginal businesses that were using capital inefficently. Was it painfull? Yes. Did it work? Yes. Did he create a lot of enemies and eventually get fired? Yes. Would Volker do the same thing today? Yes. Come back Paul Volker...we need you desperately!


They never could cure the deflation of the depression. You are right, war did.

Where did that statement come from?????

Where did that statement come from?????"

What do you mean?

Yes. Come back Paul Volker...we need you desperately!"

Volker will be Obama's Treasury Sec.

Dream on. Everyone hanging their hopes on Obama will have them dashed. Oh, the blame will go all around Mr. Teflon but he will fail nonetheless. And it will be because those whom you actually blame are the real architects of his policies and that's the way it was supposed to be anyway.

The corporations own this country and both sides of the political coin. Anyone who doubts that will be badly disillusioned if Obama wins.


It's just like listening to the chief economist from BP talking in the House of Commons.

Supply and demand are the same ... he is just explaining the economic mechanism of peak oil, demand will be destroyed to equal supply by increasing the price ... and he is almost certainly correct ... much of the oil will turn out to be resource not reserves, certainly too expensive to burn.

Maybe. My guess though is that he is talking about a Yergin-like land, where oil would drop back to $10/barrel, but we don't bother because we get so darn good at renewables.
Demand always calls forth supply, and geology is a fantasy, don't you know?

Looks like he reckons we can force prices back to around $40-50/barrel:

However, are there really no policy changes that could restore the more benign conditions in which oil prices of $40 or $50 were seen as normal?

The Times -- what claptrap! So full of shoulds and oughts -- who is going to accomplish all this? Who will watch the watchers?

"Developing" nations should buy small cars to reduce the demand, America should stop importing so much oil...

Interestingly, the Peak Oil/ Export Land models seem to be "standard" now for the editors of the Times! It's just that we ought not to accept the models, because they will result in untold misery. No tip of the hat to geology -- here the data is "ambiguous".

It really is true -- even though much ridiculed -- that the Stone Age didn't end for lack of stone, and the Oil Age won't end for lack of oil. We just finally have a new understanding of what that old saw means.

The problem is that Stone Age ended because the Bronze Age began. The Oil Age is going to end, but it's not because we have anything better rising up to take its place.

Before anybody goes on about solar, wind, or nuclear, consider that the "Stone Age" and "Bronze Age" refer to the making of tools and particularly weapons. If the "Oil Age" is looked at from the point of warmaking, there is nothing that is available that can replace it. Nobody is going to run a tank or an airplane on solar or wind. If we can get to that point, than our energy crisis might have been averted. Until then...

Er, synfuels...

a little short, but you do make a point. it should be the fossil fuel age.

Before anybody goes on about solar, wind, or nuclear, consider that the "Stone Age" and "Bronze Age" refer to the making of tools and particularly weapons.

I agree. Plus, people didn't stop using stone when they found substitues for tool making. Stone in various forms has a multitude of uses (particularly if you include concrete and sand) and is still quarried extensively today.

If I remember my archaeology right, at least here in the UK, the supply of good quality flint (which is to stone what oil is to fossil fuels) was getting to be in expensive short supply. The Bronze Age was preceded by the copper age. Copper axes weren't as sharp or durable as a good flint axe.

So the stone age probably DID end due to a shortage of stones.

The Middle Ages didn't end because we ran out of middle.

The urban farmer: One man's crusade to plough up the inner city

Last April, in a discussion about the global food crisis, Gordon Brown announced: "We need to make great changes in the way we organise food production in the next few years." High on the list of viable changes is the idea of inner-city agriculture. Which is the theory behind Haeg's concept, detailed in his new book Edible Estates: it proposes the replacement of the domestic front lawn in cities with "an edible landscape".


In many instances the ability to plant gardens in the front lawn of the typical suburban tract home would be thwarted by Home Owners Association bylaws, these HOA's would baulk at anything but a lawn that mimics a golf course.

I suspect there will be a call to change these rules in the near future!

A friend and I were having a similar discussion last night. He wants to install wind turbines on a vacation property he owns on an island near Seattle and generate enough power to sell some back to the grid. (Apparently it is usually very windy around there.) I told him that his neighbors wouldn't let him, he pointed out that before long they will be wanting to buy a little power from him instead of causing trouble!

As prices continue to climb though, maybe he should buy the turbines now and keep them in storage for a little while...

I think that is what will happen, akin to the communications act that allows for dishes in associations regardless of HOA rules or the Law in Florida that allows us Flags to be displayed in front of houses.

The problem is that there are areas of the country that periodically impose a ban on watering a homeowners lawn. Where there is a ban on lawn watering a garden may not survive dry weather.

However if an exception were to be made to modify bans on yard watering allowing for irrigation of a home's front vegetable garden this could be problematic as we then would see suburban lawns switched from grass to i.e. Alfalfa or Parsley. This would wreck havoc on watering restrictions as a homeowner could argue that the Alfalfa or Parsley are not there for aesthetic reasons but for human consumption.

Hopefully some might move to a rainwater collection system, and the regulations would allow them to use it sensibly,

Here in Oz, dealing with a drought that never seems to end, Councils and state governments (and even the Federal Govt this budget), are altering track and encouraging the installation of rainwater tanks (up until about the 60's, every house had a rainwater tank, but they were prograssivly 'discouraged' afterwards, in favour of centralised water ie dams). The financial incentives these days are such that a few thousand litre water tank will cost the homeowner almost nothing.

We have 19,000L here (although about 5,000L is non-potable).

I intend on maximizing the food out of our smallish yard. We planted ever-bearing strawberries in the front and will be planting blueberries and raspberries along our fence in the back to go along with the regular garden plot.

I see a lot of people here doing the same. I'm hopeful that many more will take advantage of our reasonably long growing season.

Where are you located?

I'm also trying to maximise the amount of food I grow, but it's a little tricky in our tiny, gardenless apartment. I'm growing tomatoes, chilli peppers, parsley and basil in our living/kitchen area. Space is tight though, and it's beginning to look very Wyndhamesque, even though friends and colleaugues were only too happy to relieve me of my excess plants!

The pots etc. weren't cheap, but I've bought better quality ones so I can re-use them year after year. I'm under no illusions about becoming self-sufficient but I figured that any opportunity to improve my gardening skills is a good thing.

The local council does offer allotments but all the sites within a reasonable distance of where I live have really long waiting lists. Don't suppose it will become any easier to get an allotment in the future either!

One trick I use is to grow lettuce in hanging planters, the kind ferns come in, I picked up a few put in lettuce and then I hang them off of a hanger a la a fern, you can use a balcony or outside wall hook. This keeps the critters away from them. I do not even buy the lettuce, I took some hearts from lettuce that we used put them in a small bowel of water the lettuce will start to regrow after they start to root replant in soil in the planter, then you will have a nice supply of fresh lettuce, you can even keep them over winter if you have a sun room.

Dave - funny that you posted this. I was going through my usual sites for tidbits this morning and thought the folks here would appreciate the following from one of the participants in Haeg's "Edible Estates."

It Will Take a Lot More Than Gardening to Fix Our Food System

I didn't mean to lead anyone down the garden path. Adding my small voice to those urging Americans replace their lawns with food plants wasn't, in itself, a bad idea. But now that food shortages and high costs are in the headlines, too many people are getting the idea that the solution to America's and the world's food problems is for all of us in cities and suburbia to grow our own. It's not.

Funny that I was pretty much arguing against the localisation folk here, as it seems to me that he is maybe too downbeat about the potential of local growing.
Here in England quite a lot, particularly of older people, have allotments, and the folk I know who do reckon they grow around half of their food needs on them.
The reason for the difference compared to the chap in the link you give is that they switch to eating more root vegetables, which can provide a lot of your diet on little land.
I know little about agriculture, but my understanding is that hydroponics can greatly increase yield too, if you need to, as could greenroof technology, although that might mean strengthening walls and roofs and would only make sense financially when the roof needed repairing.
Gardens at the moment in the west are fairly boutique, even when they are vegetable gardens, and in more difficult circumstances could produce a higher proportion of needs.

Anyone who has ever seriously gardened (and I would include myself in that group) will understand just how difficult it is to raise significant amounts of food in a backyard lot. I now use my garden to grow some of the higher end vegetables (tomatoes, brussel sprouts), provide fresh organic greens, and to teach my children about where food comes from. While I have never sat down and actually done the accounting, I doubt that I have saved us any money over the years I've had a garden. And I am absolutely certain that I have not reduced our grocery store purchases by any more than a piddling amount.

That said, the value in "re-localization" will not come from backyard plots, but from the reopening of smaller farms, the conversion of cash crop and other "mis-allocated" farms (e.g., the biggest local farm is a "U-Pick-Em Strawberry farm") and the re-purposing of other land.

Personally, I'm not interested in hydroponics as it is heavy on the input end. But I am very interested in seeing an end to "agri-business." I am fully aware that this means a significant "cull" in human population. And while that is lamentable for those who will be impacted (all of us), it is necessary for the continued meaningful survival of the species and planet.

Not only do I know nothing about agriculture, but I also so not know how the size of a backyard in the States compares to an allotment here.
Here is some info:

Thanks for the link. Very interesting. The community garden in the states (the closest equivalent) is nowhere this defined. While some cities do support the CGs, more have no such animal.

Typically, the plots in CGs are smaller than an allotment, but that might vary widely. Yard size also varies widely, though in a not atypical suburb you might see yards of 5-10 thousand square feet. Of course, not all of that is usable. I work from raised beds to start (by the time the wood rots, I've built up the bed enough for it to go with out borders. In the house I lived in until last year I had about 300 square feet in beds. In my current house I will eventually get to that and more. Plus, I live on a utility right away and am working out use of some of the right of way ($500 one time fee for rescindable usage rights)for an additional 500 square feet.

Allotments have become very popular in the UK, at least in my area - I tried to get one at my local site and had 61 applicants ahead of me in the queue!

In my small town, each community garden plot is about 300 sq. ft. (100 sq. yards), not allowing for a 2 foot path between plots. Annual rental is $35. The land is municipally owned and operated out of our parks and recreation department. About half of the plots are dedicated for local food bank production, with the volunteer labor provided by local college students.

9 sq feet in a sq yard!

Right, sorry, had to post in a hurry. If 300 sq yards is a typical allotment in the UK, that is 2700 sf, which is a BIG garden.

It takes a lot of land to feed a person, but every little helps.

I grow in a greenhouse without pesticides or fungicides, that way I can grow three crops a year in the UK and have early, chemical free, crops when they are expensive in the shops.

Hi Xeroid -more info please! Size of Greenhouse? Crops? Heating / Lighting? +any Fish??!

I am considering the size I would need in an indoor (Aquaponics) setup to provide 2 people vegetable food for the year + protein from fish...


The greenhouse can be as big as you like it - will need to be very big to provide all your needs. I am in the UK so it isn't particularly cold or hot.

I don't use heat so can only produce food to eat for about 6 months, 9 months growing season. But I do use fleece to keep frost off delicates like potatoes, tomatoes and cucumbers.

I grow in pots so I can move the plants around as they get bigger - that way you can have full utilisation.

potatoes (one per pot) early March, snow outside greenhouse.

the same potatoes ready to harvest (meal for two per pot) early May.

I am just eating the last of my new potatoes and strawberries - first crop of spinach, mizuna and rocket are finished (the last fed to the chickens as they got past their best.) The first year the strawberries have been in cold store so fruit within 40 days or so then they go outside into raised beds with things that can't take the heat like courgettes.

The tomatoes now have around 4 trusses of flowers - eventually around 14 trusses of fruit.

Two cucumber plants produce all we can eat - but I plant three plants as I usually lose one to stem rot!

I grow lots of peppers and plant onion sets at intervals to eat when they are spring onion size.

I've tried indoor high density aquaculture using genetically engineered tilapia stock fish that only produce fast growing males. The trouble is the fish require heat for max growth rate, don't like the very high density I require to make it worthwhile and taste crap as well as being boney - I think people in hot countries eat them because that's all they've got!

Carp don't mind very high density and grow fast in warm water - full size in 6 months or so - but again, taste crap compared to sea fish -only people a long way from the sea would eat them, but it's something to bear in mind for the future, I know how to do it if I have to. In my experience rotating bio-filters are the best and cyclones to remove as much solid waste as possible.

I don't know about you but I'd have to cut down 13 trees before I could garden my 1/4 acre. Not THAT hungry yet.

It takes about 30 seconds for a group of kids to trash a domestic plot.

If you want to go there, get your chainlink round the perimeter first.

That should really upset your HOA.

Yes, mustn't forget to be afraid, first and foremost.

Come on, LR, is there any way to keep from jumping into Mad Max-lite scenarios at every turn? In contrast, I've got a neighbor in our small city who teaches urban youth to garden in a program called 'Cultivating Community'.. It's where we had our CSA last year. Imagine, local kids harvesting our food. http://cultivatingcommunity.org/index.shtml

Yes, humans have some innate violence and mischief in them, and we also have a complementary innate need to be connected with other people. We don't do it alone. That connection can be a gang, or it can be a community. We can do a lot of good or harm just in the kind of 'self-fullfilling prophesies' we create with our language and our choosing of which possibilities in human nature to focus upon.

Which One Wins?
An old Grandfather, whose grandson came to him with anger at a schoolmate who had done him an injustice, said, "Let me tell you a story. I too, at times, have felt a great hate for those that have taken so much, with no sorrow for what they do. But hate wears you down, and does not hurt your enemy. It is like taking poison and wishing your enemy would die. I have struggled with these feelings many times." He continued, "It is as if there are two wolves inside me; one is good and does no harm. He lives in harmony with all around him and does not take offence when no offence was intended. He will only fight when it is right to do so, and in the right way." "But the other wolf, ah! He is full of anger. The littlest thing will set him into a fit of temper. He fights every one, all the time, for no reason. He cannot think because his anger and hate are so great. It is hard to live with these two wolves inside me, for both of them try to dominate my spirit." The boy looked intently into his Grandfather's eyes and asked, "Which one wins Grandfather?" The Grandfather solemnly said, "The one I feed."--- http://www.story-lovers.com/listswolfifeedstory.html

Get real. It doesn't take Mad Max to have kids, usually young men, trash a front garden. I've had kids steal solar lights from my front yard, knock over garden bed boundaries, and throw stones at a car. This is all in a town that is far from being in anarchy.

LR is absolutely correct that it doesn't take much for a group of kids to wreck a garden. This is especially true if it's in your front yard which might be the only place it will grow due to shade from trees or even your house. If I were to convert my front lawn into an extra garden area, I'd be sure to upt up at least a waist high fence to discourage that kind of behavior and probably be glad that I did so.

It does, however, take a getaway vehicle for kids to be bold enough to do it to a major degree.

And that is going away.

Duly noted.

I was in one of the 5% most deprived neighbourhoods in the UK at the time. The local K-6 school had over 20 nationalities in it. Great for world cuisine, lousy for social cohesion.

If I were growing food in *that* garden again, I would put a fence up first, notwithstanding the pleasure I got from making connections with people through having something that reminded a number of passers-by of their countries of origin.

get a Rotwieler.

Question: What has four legs and an arm?

Answer: A Rotwieler in a school playground.

I know, its sick , I just couldnt help myself.

I hear you.

I did overreact a bit, too. Your point was that you need a fence around the garden, and I don't disagree with that. In our case, the vandals are hedgehogs and groundhogs, more than kids.

In that case, I suppose the Rotweiler would still be a good addition.


Right, "we" organize. Does he mean in true politburo fashion with equal rates of success?

Electric cars: The next big thing

I do believe we will all drive EVs in future, but the battery will be little more than a buffer to store reclaimed braking energy. The electricity will be generated by a hydrogen fuel cell, a beautifully simple and elegant concept both in operation and the electrolysis, reverse-electrolysis way in which its fuel is derived. From water to water: what more perfect process could be imagined?


Oh dear.....hydrogen from pixie dust, I believe.

I work within the GM towers, and I want to scream every time I talk to a GM employee and they harp on about how hydrogen fuel cells will save GM and the planet. They truly have no idea that the hydrogen has to be MADE using energy. On their little GM Network TVs throughout the towers, they have stats showing how many millions of tons of H2 that are generated every year in the US. Of course, that H2 is usually generated from natural gas, but they fail to mention that, nor do they mention that this H2 is consumed in industrial applications, and isn't available for converting a significant portion of the fleet of vehicles in the US to fuel cell vehicles, or as they're sometimes called, fool cell vehicles. Hydrogen is a disposable battery.

I left a comment, to the effect that the EV cars he was blathering on that we would not be able to provide the power for would use around 1/6th of the energy of petrol cars, whereas the hydrogen would use vastly more than the gasolene version.
For some reason it has not yet appeared.
I wonder why? :-)

It's appeared now - nearly all the other comments appear pretty dismissive too!

The editors at 'The Telegraph' aka the fascist capitalist running dogs, are usually a bit more relaxed to criticism than the working class vanguard at 'The Independent' or 'The Guardian'

Imagined is right.

Hydrogen = Energy carrier, not Energy source.

I think a different approach to Peak Oil (and solving it) involves the first law of thermodynamics, which is stated as the following...

"In any process, the total energy of the universe remains the same." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laws_of_thermodynamics)

In other words, energy can't be created or destroyed, just changed from one form to another.

So, where does energy ultimately come from? There are just three primary sources for us to tap:

1) Fusion
2) Fission
3) Geothermal/Radioactive decay

All other sources are secondary sources and are derived from these primary sources:

Wind comes from Sun, which is powered by Fusion...
Waves -> Sun -> Fusion
Hydroelectric -> Sun -> Fusion
Biomass -> Sun -> Fusion
Oil/Coal/Nat Gas/Peat -> Sun -> Fusion
Nuclear -> Fission
Geothermal...(Speaks for itself)

Anyway, for Hydrogen to work it really needs to be derived from one of these three primary sources... In fact, for ANY solution to Peak Oil to work it needs to be derived from one of these three primary sources...

You missed a source.

Gravity, usually in the form of tides.

Not to be a nitpicker, but the energy source being tapped with tidal is the angular momentum of the earth's rotation. The friction from the tides slows the earth's rotation slightly. Gravity (of the sun & moon mainly) is involved, of course. But the gravitation energy isn't being converted from one form to another. The energy of the earth's rotation is. Using the tides as an energy source will accelerate the lengthening of earth's day already being caused by tides. Whether that is a bother or not depends, I suppose, on how much you plan on tap the tides and how far into the future you look.

I was thinking the same thing. It is not in my brain power to know how much of an effect this will have but it must have some.

It's a good nitpick, actually. Further, geothermal-radioactive decay is largely another form of fission, thus only two basic sources.

Well, if you really wish to pick that nit, then running the equations back it's almost all from gravity. Remember, the infant universe had only Hydrogen and some Helium. Gravity had to form stars and burn those through fusion to give us all the other heavier elements (including fissionable material).

Anthropogenic fusion is the only energy source at our potential disposal that doesn't trace back all lines to gravitational potential energy as a first cause.

The Earth's rotation results from small amounts of angular momentum concentrated and amplified by gravity, even. And likely the initial energy was from gravitational disturbances by passing stars.

Wind, waves, tides, solar, geothermal, and falling-water hydro power are the best sources at our disposal long term. They all have limits, but are fortunately diffuse enough to make it difficult for us to reach those limits short of re-engineering our solar system completely.

As far as fusion goes, if we can make it work properly then all bets are off.

The funny thing about gravity is it distorts the simplistic entropy model of the universe such that thermodynamic equalibrium isn't as easy to achieve. Which is good, because otherwise we wouldn't be here to contemplate such things.

In fact, for ANY solution to Peak Oil to work it needs to be derived from one of these three primary sources...

ah, that's just flat-out wrong. geothermal, hydro, wind and solar are not going away at all. even biomass is useful.

I don't think they are so stupid that they don't realize hydrogen is an energy carrier not an energy source.

Technically H2 has some advantages over batteries in that it much cheaper, and much more energy dense. Especially if we can learn to store it in chemical compounds (I have heard about methanol). The bigger problem is the fuel cell which at this point of time is still too expensive and has even shorter shelf life than batteries.

The beauty of it is that fuel cell and pure electric cars don't need to be competitors. The two technologies can evolve using the same infrastructure and even the same vehicles can be fitted to use either one.

Oh, I am sure they are that stupid! The knowledge of science is poor even within the well educated, particularly those with arts/humanities backgrounds.

Especially if we can learn to store it in chemical compounds

Seems to me that chemically binding hydrogen with some carbon atoms works quite well. And the infrastructure already exists to use the resulting liquids...

(This idea is easier to grasp if you remove the page from your dictionary upon which the word 'efficiency' appears.)

I don't see the need to be sarcastic, since what you just said is actually true and can be counted as a plus.

Re: efficiency

Fuel cells are 50-60% efficient. If we produce methanol from coal, the efficiency is yet another 60-70%. Add 90% efficient electric motor we get 27-37% overall efficiency. This is 2-3 times as efficient as oil to ICE and we've got cheap coal as a feedstock.

Or as you imply, we can use hydrocarbons directly as a source of hydrogen - then the efficiency would be 40-50%, compare with ICE efficiency of 15-20% top.

Another chain: coal -> electricity (40%) -> distribution + batteries (70%) -> electric motor (90%) calculates to 24%

It seems fuel cells currently beat batteries in most scenarios.

Overall I think if they can produce fuel cells cheaply and reliably, and if they can store the H2 in non-gaseous form H2 can have a future. I don't think we will ever have H2 refueling stations everywhere... too much trouble to transport and store it that way.

Personally I think batteries are fundamentally the better path, because electricity is the universal energy carrier, but in case they can not deliver it would be good to hedge our bets.

The story on Russian output has under the proverbial fold this little fact

Exports of Russian crude to countries outside the Commonwealth of
Independent States (AKA the FSU) totaled 18.058 million mt (4.252 million b/d) in May, a 5% drop from the previous year,

ELM marches on.

Problems with Proximal Petroleum Producers

Europe's problem is Norway and Russia, where our (Khebab/Brown) middle case shows both of them approaching zero net oil exports in about 16 years.

The US's problem is Venezuela and Mexico. Venezuela's net oil exports are currently declining at a rate that would cause them to fall by 50% about every 10 years, while Mexico is on the fast track to zero net oil exports, probably within six years.

WT - So perhaps the proper vote in November is McCain. After all Iraq has all of that tasty oil. But then again I'm not interested in perpetuating U.S hegeomony so I'm voting for the "Collapse Candidate".

The US's problem is Venezuela and Mexico

For yucks - the Internet has the writing of Lenin and his views on why adding tractors to the farms was a good idea for the Revolution.

Track it down and read it. (Tracking tip - look for sunflower growing, as that is how I found it.) Then think about the ELM model.

You can not have the complete picture if you don't include exports of refined products. If they rose they may have compensated the decline of raw crude.

AFAIK tax regimes in CIS encourage exports of refined products vs raw crude oil.

From the EIA:

Most of Russia's product exports consist of fuel oil and diesel fuel, which are used for heating in European countries and, on a small scale, in the United States. Russian oil exports to the U.S. have almost doubled since 2004, rising to over 400,000 bbl/d of crude oil and products in 2007. ... A draft plan for the refining sector’s development for 2005-2008 foresees continued increases in the production of high quality light oil products, catalysts and raw material for the petrochemical industry. As production of fuel oil is reduced, local refineries are only meeting about half of the country’s demand for high octane gasoline. Consequently, Russia must import the remainder.

It doesn't sound to me like Russia is in a position to ramp up their product exports to 5% of their crude oil volume.

Lidl stores ration sales of rice

Supermarket chain Lidl has rationed rice sales in all its UK stores amid worldwide shortages of the food.

The company said it had restricted purchases to "family volumes" - a maximum of 20kg - to stop traders buying up the product in bulk.

Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury's confirmed they were not rationing rice.

EDIT: Just noticed this is from Saturday. Sorry if it's been posted before.

As long as they're not rationing blue pop and those microwaveable kebabs we'll push through somehow.

Stiff upper lip and all that, what what.

(I'm actually weeping inside at how accurate your comment is.)

microwaveable kebabs sounds yummy, are they available at Krogers or Winn Dixie?

(Oddly enough, this image was found at jumboqatar.com)

bill clinton was stump speeching at a little berg near where i live yesterday....this guy gets it!..i think he must read TOD!...he starts off talking about energy and ties it to global warming, the need for alternatives, like wind and solar...and TRAINS..are you listening Alan Drake?...from the missoulian :

.."Clinton explained Hillary's plan to bolster the economy by investing in clean energy, improving America's infrastructure, particularly its railroad system"...

he actually said something like ..."you may not believe this, but we need to build a rail system ,including high speed rail, nationwide, and here in montana"

...and people actually cheered!...whodathunk?

It's a known fact Bill Clinton has read "Twilight in the desert"

He was also spotted carrying Heinberg's The Party's Over.

He's also read Kunstler's Long Emergency and Jeremy Leggett's 'The Empty Tank' way back in 2006.

Details here: The books Bill Clinton reads.

OK, is anyone actually surprised that the last two presidents, representing 16 years, are aware? Hasn't it been pretty damn obvious? The faulty assumption is that knowing would translate into doing something to the benefit of the commons.

Clinton may be 'aware' that doesn't mean he believes, or believes enough. A politician needs an awful lot of belief to start raising fuel taxes because the political damage would almost certainly be fatal.

The real problem is 99% of the population is blissfully ignorant or in deep denial.

Shame he thinks with his balls:-(

Maybe he should talk to his wife once and a while - and her team of handlers.

She seems to have nothing intelligent to say in public. She and Alzheimer McCain should run together on the "gas tax holidayz," ticket against Obama.

Bill Clinton and Al Gore would make a great ticket!

Oh, wait a minute...

Remember, they can say anything they want, but the government is incapable of adding any significant new costs until it gets out of Iraq. Our credit card is being shut down.

Big airlines could levy budget charges

Traditional airlines such as British Airways and Australia's Qantas could join their low-cost rivals in charging passengers for baggage check-in and food amid soaring oil prices, a leading industry executive warned today.

The head of one of the world's biggest airline alliances, oneworld, whose members include BA and Qantas, said the group will consider changing membership rules in order to allow budget airline-style charges.

"If the industry moves to a standard of charging for an apple juice in economy, the alliance will move in that direction," said John McCulloch, oneworld's managing partner. Asked if bag check-in charges are also on the horizon, he added: "Airlines would argue that it's the right way to do it. It's £20 a bag, £10 for a meal. We are going to see much more of that."

Oil’s Not Well in the US
by Jeremy Siegel, Ph.D.

At first, I thought, 'hey this guy gets it.' But alas, it's clear he considers the problem to be short-term.

If oil prices continue to rise, I recommend that the government release some oil from its strategic reserve...

I said yesterday that I expected to see calls to release oil from the SPR, but my prediction was more narrow--IMO, it will be directly as a result of crude oil supply problems on the Gulf Coast.

Wouldn't the Gulf refiners be able to mitigate this risk? I don't know the storage capabilities that the Gulf refiners have...but seems that would be a way to mitigate the shortfall from V&M. Even given the longer transit times from other sources. It seems like a simple supply chain problem...while there is still crude to be had elsewhere.

The last available monthly data, ending 3/08, show that net oil exports from V&M to the US recently fell at an annual rate that is more than 10 times higher than overall world net oil export decline rate in 2007.

A SPR release combined with the new law that prevents new acquisitions of oil until the prices are at $75.00 a barrel would mean that when the TS really HTF, the US will have less of a stockpile to deal with the problem. However I look to a release to occur to reduce the price of gas for the fall starting in late September till around the first week of November.

Regarding the link above on 4 day working week I just heard it on the German news this morning:


green politician demands 4 day work week for commuters to save gas/petrol costs.

Wave of the future, 10 hour days, then rationing and biking, etc. Lots of ways to deal with a coming crisis. The ELM will make this come a lot faster than you know. This week's EIA data on inventories should provide more clarity as well.

Why not recommend moving closer to one's work?

Or finding a job closer to home. Both take months if not years to implement. Juggling schedules for a four day week takes weeks at most.

Here in California, we have a two word answer: "Prop. 13"

My wife and I bought our home way back in 1987, and for tax purposes it is assessed now at about 1/3 what comps are selling for.
So just trading across - buying a house that costs what we sell ours for - might triple our property taxes. Spread over the next 20 years, that's like buying a whole extra house.

So - we're staying here for a while. San Jose may have poor coverage of mass transit, but it's very close to one of the largest agricultural areas in the country, and we go many months of the year without heat or A/C. Not exactly the best place to ride out the long emergency, but not to bad either.

Similar situation here in Florida although we do now have some form or "portability", but still the housing market has nto bottomed so it's still a risk.

On the other hand, thank goodness my wif'es commute is abotu two miles (public school) and mine is about 20 feet - telecommute.


Isn't there a provision that mitigates that. I read about that recently as I was researching moving to California. Google California Property taxes and you may find something that would help you.

I thought Germany already long since had a 35-hour work week. Are they going to 32 now?

Workweek for federal public employees in Germany is 40 hours.
In the individual states public employees have 41 or 42 hour workweeks though sometimes you still find 38.5

Official workweek in most service industries is 40 hours although unpaid overtime is the rule

Retail employees have a 37.5 hour workweek.

Highly profitable specialist manufacturing companies often have less than 40 hours and will remain so. In general there are only very few business areas that actually have a 35 hour workweek.

In general wherever less than 40 hours were introduced in the 1990s there has been a trend to increase the working hours.

There is little room for any reduction in working time since purchasing power of most employees has been sinking, especially if they are in the service economy. For many of these nominal income has remained constant or gone down, in the face of both general inflation and ever-increasing demands of the social system (health, pension) while diect taxes have been reduced marginally. Through this has come the rapid culling of the middle class. It is only employees in the manufacturing part of the economy that are better off. So in general people cannot afford to work less; those who theoretically could because they are part of the flourishing section of the economy (ie not in service) don't want to work less because their workweek is already below average, they do little or no overtime and any of that is paid, and they enjoy the money.

So who is the genius who thought that system up?

It's negotiated between the industry and unions in each sector. Branches of industry are autonomous from federal law in this regard (Tarifautonomie) -i.e. an aspect of market freedom: since the balance of power and interests is different in each sector, there is no single workweek regulation.

Also there is no general minimum wage. Only a very few sectors have any minimum wage at all. Otherwise there is in principle no lower end for wages - however, sometimes courts will rule certain contracts as being "immoral" on general terms, on a case by case basis (i.e. principally unsuitable to earn a living by honest work). So 5 euros/hour is a kind of fuzzy minimum wage. Only very few sectors have government enforced minimum wages for protectionist reasons (preventing low-wage [illegal] immigrants from taking over), these start at ca. 6.60 euros

It is not a system that was thought up by anyone but developed from the late 1800s onward, from the struggle between unions and industrialists.

There was an article in the McPaper today, about how American workers can't afford to work less...but are being forced to. These people aren't counted among the unemployed, but their income has dropped drastically. Either because they're not getting the commissions or tips they used to, or because their hours have been cut.

I think there was a somewhat similar reaction when the French (not German) 35-hour law came in. Many people in the middle class liked it, but many at the low end complained.

Happened in the private planning company my daughter works for. Everyone down to 32 hours with commensurate pay cut. Direct result of the housing/construction situation in Florida - and not enough if any sustainable re-development either.

And this is white collar salaried.


Maybe you were remembering France, which is well known for its 35-hour law (loi trente-cinq), adopted in 2000 and since watered down. There were articles about teams of labor inspectors descending on large businesses to make sure workers weren't on duty when they weren't supposed to be.

Really. Years ago, I witnessed that sort of thing at a small-ish engineering business in Belgium. A number of inspectors wearing stereotypical billed cylindrical gendarme hats showed up en masse and by surprise at about 6 pm to check the wage-hour records and shoo away any regular workers with no financial interest in the business. After a few minutes of fishing in filing cabinets and checking offices, they left, apparently satisfied that what people in the USA might call a blue law, i.e. restricting hours, was not being broken.

I already do a 10-hour day. I prefer it. :) Having to get up to go to work one less day each week leaves me more time to procrastinate here at home. :D ;)

Even though I do manual labour, I'd even prefer to do three 13-hour days (some days I do 12 anyway), and get another extra day off.

I'd like to ask a question about a home built solar panel and connecting a small inverter to charge my notebook. Can someone recommend a good forum that would have people who can answer a few simple technical questions along those lines?

You cannot hook up the inverter directly to the panels. You must use a battery to buffer the power from the solar panels and bring their open current voltage (17-20v) down to the voltage of the inverter (11.5-13v) However, instead of going for an inverter, if you ONLY want to use it for your laptop, get a 12v car charger for your laptop, and you'll be going DC to DC instead of DC to AC back to DC for your laptop.

For making your own power, check out:

~Durandal (http://www.wtdwtshtf.com)

Excellent. That's basically what I wanted to know. I thought I'd have to ask elsewhere but thank you.

I'm thinking of the small 100W inverter because it's less costly than the DC-DC adapter and also more flexible as I can also use it for my camera battery charger and to run an external usb hard drive. And a fan as well. In fact the only thing I can't really use it for here is the aircon. I try to minimize my use of that anyway. I realized the open circuit output of the panel was higher than the inverter input but I thought when under load it would drop to be about right. I could make the panel with a few less cells to give lower output but that sounds like an odd way to go. If the standard knowledge says a battery is needed then I should do that - even though it is a rather heavy item to carry around, I won't likely need to do that often. Is there a minimum AH battery rating suggested for a 27W panel? I may later add a second one.

I'm trying out the ideas suggested a few days ago on this blog by a post about buying cells on ebay and making up a panel. It's really just for fun since I calculated it would take more than 10 years just to pay for the parts in savings and much longer if I were thinking about the production cost, no doubt.

An advantage of 12-volt systems is that there is an industry of appliances for motor-home owners compatible with those systems. You can keep your options open for future expansion.

What do you have for a laptop, my main laptop wouldn't function (without switching to it's battery) at 27W (with high CPU usage).

http://duffolonious.blogspot.com/2008/05/i-recently-got-new-lenovo-thinp... - I'll have to check but I think my goes over 30W on high CPU usage (my old one went to 35W).

And I'm not sure how adept it is to use partial AC power - if that's even possible. And replacing a laptop battery is always more expensive than generic 12V batteries.

Acer 4920 - Core 2 Duo - uses about 20W when on battery low power mode but when on AC it does go higher, probably around 35W. If charging as well then it will run higher as it indicates it charges at about 20W rate. The adapter is rated max. 65W. I kind of knew that to use and charge at the same time I'd have to add a second panel. But at this point this is all just seeing what can work and how. I pay 6 baht/kwh (0.20 $US) here (double the actual rate since my apt building profits). As per another reply here, it may be that saving the use of built-in battery would be the best return since they tend to be the higher cost in a system like this. Acer input is 19V but I expect it has to be more regulated than the panel would output.

To be honest I'd rather avoid the battery if possible. Both cost and weight are downsides. And then if you have to add in additional controller parts it starts to become not so simple a setup. I wonder about using a zener diode to clamp the panel output voltage to around 14V for direct input but I'm unsure about the power dissipation there. This little inverter will accept 11V - 14V input and only costs about $15. Very compact little metal case unit with a usb power port too.

I'm curious if variation in sunlight intensity changes output voltage or just the current available?

Hi Banana;
Couple additional thoughts..

PV Panels > Charge Controller with Low-voltage Disconnect (LVD) > Battery(s) > Fuse > Inverter

There are some pretty affordable Charge Controllers out there, like Morningstar's 'Sunguard 4.5' for as much as 50watts of panel (No LVD) at around $30.00 http://www.solarpanelstore.com/solar-power.small-charge-controllers.sung... , and their 'Sunsaver-6' <70w panel.. (With LVD) $50.00 http://www.solarpanelstore.com/solar-power.small-charge-controllers.suns...

This essential for keeping the battery healthy.

As far as Value is concerned, having the ability to charge batteries with a portable device can quickly offset many other expenses, such buying batteries off the shelf. ( a cost rarely compared to Utility electric prices, while an 'economy' 8-pack of Alkaline AA's can easily cost you around $166/kwh, [ based on 3000mah & .75 cell ] )


One more thought: skip the inverter, use the laptop off of a 12V battery (without its "brick" AC power adaptor). If your laptop (itself, not the AC adaptor) uses less than 12V, can get a "car adaptor" device that simply lowers the voltage. If (as is usually the case) it uses more than 12V (15, 16, 18) there are car adaptors now available that convert from 12V to what you need. (They are really mini-inverters?) In any case stick to a standard 12V battery (cheapest is lead-acid) and you can run other things on it (e.g., LED lamps!) when grid power is not available. Can charge the battery from the grid or from PV.

Can someone recommend a good forum that would have people who can answer a few simple technical questions along those lines?

go to

http://www.fieldlines.com/ This is the one you want.



Thank you, will do and save them for later too. I did google first and only found a few commercial boards that were not too busy.

Union chief calls for oil windfall tax

Gordon Brown has been urged by one of Britain’s most powerful union leaders to impose a large windfall tax on the billion-pound profits of oil companies – a policy which, it is claimed, could redefine his premiership and win back votes for Labour.

The government levied a windfall tax on energy companies soon after it came to power in 1997, raising £5.2bn to pay for policies to get the unemployed back to work.

“How popular do you think it would be, given that oil companies are raking in billions, if he imposed a windfall tax on them and distributed it through something like a council tax cut?” said Derek Simpson, co-head of the Unite union, Labour’s largest contributor with 1.9m members.

What is odd to me is that water which is a finite resource is governed as a public utility in the U.S but oil which is also necessary for modern survival is allowed to be owned and managed for the benefit of the few.

I realize that this strikes at the heart of "capitalism" but when systems begin to break down private enterprise begins to look parasitic.

True, but can you imagine a government run petroleum industry? Check out the nations that do and you'll see that they got shortages of everything.

Yes, Saudi Aramco is a paradigm of waste and inefficiency and shortages. So are PetroNas (Malaysia), PetroBras and StatOil Hydro.


Yeah, government run corporations are a disaster - we much prefer a corporate run government.

I think Alan was being facetious. The poster research24 is clearly ignorant of the very topics of which he writes. Saudi Aramco has shortages? Ha! Saudi Aramco is rather well run. So are several other (but not all) Middle Eastern national oil companies. Especially when you compare their performance versus IOCs like Exxon and BP.

Oh, I know Alan was being facetious - I was just pouring on a little more sarcanol!

I would be all for these things if we simply called them an "oil interests defense tax", to officially recognize that much of the military budget of the US and UK has been spent to protect the oil industry and not the interests of ordinary taxpayers.

It's long past the point when we can seriously say these globe-spanning militaries provide for a "common defense". They have long-term commitments to defend private property located overseas, and the property is concentrated in the hands of a very few citizens. That is not equal protection under the law. Special interest groups should pay a surcharge for the mercenary use of our military for selfish projects.

And talk about distorting the marketplace - a corporation can only compete if its country has a Marine Corps to back it up. (The Dutch created the first Marine Corps in the 1660s, quickly followed by Britain, and then by the not-yet-United States in 1775. As Kevin Phillips will tell you, the world's last 3 dominant commercial powers, in order, were the Netherlands, Britain and the United States.) Everyone else has to rely on bribes and kickbacks to do business overseas.

Charlie Maxwell giving a concise explanation of what's going on with oil.


Mr Maxwell gave pretty good commentary. But
he left out the word "depletion" and without
that concept, the picture is essentially

EIA reported last Thursday about "delays" in Gulf Coast imports (which the media interpreted as fog delays). I looked for the actual text and could not find it.

Does anyone have a link ?



Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending May 23, 2008

The drop was due to temporary delays in crude oil tanker off-loadings on the Gulf Coast.

I wonder if delays due to "the pipeline being filled", 5 vs. 30 days in transit, by sourcing more oil from the Persian Gulf to replace V+M, would (in a bureaucratic mindset) be called temporary ?

No issues on Gulf Coast AFAIK (high water on Mississippi is past peak and falling quickly). High water slowed transit up-river (think hours, not days delay) but did not stop it.


Or, possibly, the 10-day Force majeure of 800kbpd of XoM's Nigerian production of late April and early May is showing up in the import stats at precisely the time that one would expect them to.

Which triggers the thought - anyone know how much tanker capacity will have to be absorbed on an ever increasing basis, to ship the oil 25 more tanker days out, and 25 more empty tanker days back? is there this much spare tanker capacity available in the short term?- or is there some fit with otherwise empty tankers going to Venezuela from somehwere?

I suppose that a year or so after PO, tanker capacity will be in oversupply.



Did you see this:

2035 without rail system improvements

Source Assoc of American Railroads/Cambridge Systematics.

Future_Rutter.pdf (SECURED)

Two key maps:

One,2005-the other 2035 projected.

In 2035 there are only two major N/S lines basically:

Houston to KC and Jacksonville to Chicago.

With my Cotton Belt/UP parallel lines getting intermittent

Two more things:

NO is basically stranded and the Memphis bridge is causing THE
major bottleneck in the US today(along with Chicago/KC).

The bridge was built during Grover Cleveland's term BTW.
They stopped the train on the bridge to collect tolls
in my Grand Dad's day.

That's one old bridge.

I would like to see the report.

The New Orleans RR bridge was built during the Great Depression and is in superb shape. Unlimited weight, dual tracks, MASSIVE amounts of steel (a good % of USA steel production went into that bridge).

I assume you are talking about lines with excess capacity without further improvements (better signals, double track, grade separation).

Best Hopes,


I assume you are talking about lines with excess capacity without further improvements (better signals, double track, grade separation)."

That's right.

Look at pp 13-17.

Ex. Control Jacksonville and you control E. America.

I'm going to spend alot of time studying these.


I found a copy in the TRB library.


Useful for anyone doing transportation research.

I checked on publications by Ed Tennyson (whom I work with) and found twenty. "Transportation and Energy Conservation" 1975, "ECONOMIC SYNERGISM IN RAILROAD ELECTRIFICATION" 1984, "VALUE OF LIGHT RAIL TRANSIT AS A MAJOR CAPITAL INVESTMENT" 1985, "WHEN AND WHERE DOES LRT WORK?" 1982, "CAN WE GET PEOPLE TO RIDE TRANSIT" 1968 et al.

Best Hopes for Building on the Works of Others,


Perhaps because the MSM is in a fog vis a vis P.O. they figure that is where the tankers are as well.

I'm looking for a good link that describes the process of oil formation, particularly why it was formed preferentially in certain geological periods. I'm finding it surprisingly hard to find. I was hoping some of the oil company websites would have this kind of thing, but so far no luck, and wikipedia and general google searches are not throwing up much either. Anyone have any good links, ideally not too dumbed down but also not requiring too much specialised expertise? Text preferred, but video ok as a backup.

Thanks in advance.

These are videos, but they told me more than I ever wanted to know about the formation of oil:

I think the word "petroleum" is the key. I did a quick search on google with the words [petroleum source geology]. Here are two hits out of 254,000:



Add the word "sediment" and the number of hits increases.

E. Swanson

Try this - Part 1 - may be a bit too "light" for what you need.



IMO the Australian documentary “CRUDE the incredible journey of oil” does a fantastic job of explaining all of what you seek with tons of facts and with great visuals too. A few of the PO rockstars also.


I believe google video has it too.


Yes, we have no bananas....


Panama disease - or Fusarium wilt of banana - is back, and the Cavendish does not appear to be safe from this new strain, which appeared two decades ago in Malaysia, spread slowly at first, but is now moving at a geometrically quicker pace. There is no cure, and nearly every banana scientist says that though Panama disease has yet to hit the banana crops of Latin America, which feed our hemisphere, the question is not if this will happen, but when. Even worse, the malady has the potential to spread to dozens of other banana varieties, including African bananas, the primary source of nutrition for millions of people.

The hits just keep coming.

Bananas have an interesting history. We've been through this once before. The world's "standard" (i.e. monocultured commercial) banana was wiped out in the 50s. It was replaced by the current (generally believed to be inferior) banana. We've been in the process of losing the current one for the past decade or so. It looks like things are heating up.

Of course, we won't learn anything from this. We'll pick a new kind of banana that's resistent to this disease and grow genetically identical specimens of it in vast plantations. Rinse and repeat until we're out of suitable bananas. But, what the heck? So long as you're making money selling bananas, who cares?

So long as you're making money selling bananas, who cares?

Hit that nail straight on the head! And this is something that we must constantly remind ourselves is the single biggest impediment to our working toward any solution of any of the problems we face over the next few years and decades. The values of the dominant (some would say, only) social institutions are NOT directly threatened by peak oil, global warming, destruction of our top soil, etc.. The threat is at least once removed and this not seen as important. And, of course, the ability to see the collapse of the whole structure is dependent on the ability to question those dominant values.

These new bananas must be different than the ones from the '50s, because when I was a child I used to watch old cartoons and darned if every one of them didn't have people slipping on banana peels. Every time I eat a banana I notice that the skin is rather dry and leathery. And when I typed deposition summaries for Kroger's law firm I noticed the main cause of supermarket falls was grapes, not bananas. I've never seen anyone slip on a banana peel in real life.

The new bananas are definitely less funny!

A friend of mine has. I wasn't around to see it, but the peel was on the other side of one of those bump things in parking lots and he stepped over the bump onto the peel on the other side and promptly made friends with the ground. Totally bizzare. It's the inside of the peel that imparts the slickness.

yeah, they must've had different guns as well.
I learned as a kid that a gun shot to the face will only char your head. And the bullet can be stopped by putting your finger in the barrel.

And here in Eastern Pennsylvania we now have Giant Asian Hornets, as if the honeybees weren't having a hard enough time. As the climate changes, many of those things that have been migrated around the planet after decades of global transportation can now become established in environments were they could not previously prosper.

OMG! We've hit Peak Banana....!!!!!

On a side note, didn't we hit Peak Honeybee a few years ago?

We're hitting Peak Bat now too...

World's going to hell in a handbasket.

World's going to hell in a handbasket.

Why is it getting hotter, and who's the decorating wiz who thought wicker was a good design theme?

(Peak bat, peak bee - might as well enjoy the ride.)

Wicker furniture was not devised as a 'furniture fashion statement', but a practical solution for hot, humid climates prior to air conditioning. Wicker, since it is a porus weave of some types of vines, allows the sitters back, buttocks, backs of thighs, and various and sundry other interesting parts of the human anatomy to remain cooler than solid fabrics or leather otherwise would.

I find it pleasing to sit on the veranda smoking a banana and sipping a planters punch after a hard day at the fish stand. Of course, if bananas are to fall into short supply due to some pesky blight I might have to find a substitute.

Not to mention the assorted flora and fauna that tend to grow inside overstuffed furniture in a hot, humid climate. While she was living on Oahu, my sister collected a variety of interesting stories about things found inside the neighbors' overstuffed furniture...

Ok - if you are seeing the world with a wicker motif, and it is getting warmer - you might be going to hell in a handbasket.

"OMG! We've hit Peak Banana....!!!!!"

That's it - it's all over.

You've all gone bananas!

Now, if I were to introduce flying purple people eaters, would you all go off in that direction too?

Sure looks stange to me. ;-)

Reminds me of one of my favorite quotes, from Australian scientist Robert May:

"We share half our genes with the banana. This is a fact more evident in some of my acquaintances than others."

I'd rather have a shining, flying, purple wolfhound!

For what it's worth Snopes tackled this recently:


If you consider over a year ago recently.

Honestly, do you even read the links you post?

Absolutely. The entry was updated a little over one year ago, which is recent enough in the context of banana diseases. And it is completely revelant, the article specifically mentions the disease present and the implications of that disease.

Nice try. You remind me of a little kid who hasn't done his homework, trying to bluff the teacher.

The Snopes thing has little relevance to the article posted.

Huh? Believe what you want:

From eric's article:

Panama disease - or Fusarium wilt of banana - is back, and the Cavendish does not appear to be safe from this new strain, which appeared two decades ago in Malaysia, spread slowly at first, but is now moving at a geometrically quicker pace.

From the Snopes Article:

In January 2003, a report in New Scientist suggested bananas could well dissapear within ten years thanks to two blights: black sigatoka, a leaf fungus, and Panama Disease, a soild fungus which attacks the roots of the plant

Furthermore the snopes story talked of ways to combat the fungus along with the most important statement "even if the cavendish were lost to us, we would still not be singing "Yes we have no bananas".

It is sad that many people have at TOD have been resorting to personal insults as of late. I try to be restrained, but I admit a few times I have lashed back, but let's just present both sides of the issues and leave out the personal attacks, just my humble opinion.

The Snopes article is about the claim that the banana will go extinct. It rightly declares that an urban legend.

The article Eric posted makes no such claim. It's about the effect of disease on economically important varieties of bananas.

Actually, I found the most interesting bit was the part about how a hurricane ruined the disease-prevention plans. Climate change is going to add to the fun in ways we haven't even considered.

let's just present both sides of the issues and leave out the personal attacks, just my humble opinion.

Here's my humble opinion: you need to read more and post less. Posting every single technocopian story you can find, even when it's a duplicate that's already been posted, often by you yourself, amounts to spam. Stop. And do not re-post items that have been deleted. They are on the verge of banning someone very like you at PO.com, and I'm starting to think they have the right idea.

Of course, if you have something doomerish to post (like westexas, totoneila and all the others), you can repeat it ad nauseum without fear of censure.

The take home point is that TOD is here to preach doom, not antidoom, so don't expect an easy ride.

I've deleted posts by WestTexas and Totoneila, and they've been told to cut back.

Leanan, please don't block theantidoomer - we desperately need an adequate solution to our post peak oil transport problem - so far he has come up with literally hundreds of proposals but, sadly, as far as I can tell not one will save us - this is VERY IMPORTANT information.

The more proposals I see which are definitely unworkable the more I plan for a simpler, less oil consuming, life.

But, one day he just might alert us to the solution - I live in hope, but increasingly not in expectation.

I have just the thread for you:

Future Energy Technology News

People at PO.com were complaining about Graeme's constant technocopian posts. Just the sheer volume was driving other posts off the page, and making it very difficult for people to find other kinds of energy news. So they gave him his own thread.

but, sadly, as far as I can tell

stop the press! as far as you can tell is good enough for me.

The editorial hand has been visible.
It is still a light hand.
The site is much more readable.

Why bother to preach antidoom when we could have just spent the last five years brain-dead in front of Fox News, Bloomberg and all the other con men of warlust and greed? All this past brainwashing is what is making it impossible for the public to understand why big changes are necessary. Driving blindfolded is working out just great now.

It's because we can see everything getting worse, and we are the folks who predicted most of it and were scoffed at by folks like you. Even the mainstream greed-worshippers are starting to talk about the worst global financial crisis since the Great Depression. People in the streets all know from their own pocketbook that the inflation statistics are lies. We're all getting fed up with libertarian hacks telling us that we are living in the best of all possible worlds.

Next year, at least a billion humans will be talking about revolution.

As always, one can still go to freerepublic or littlegreenfootballs to claim that we are living in Paradise for an audience of appreciative Bushists. At least until November.

Therefore, as part of today's Anti-Antidote, here is part of a story from ultra-capitalist Bloomberg via The Automatic Earth showing that folks are becoming aware that the stats chanted like a mantra to stave off a real crash are fantastically rigged.


Wall Street Says -2 + -2 = 4 as Liabilities Get New Bond Math

Leave it to Wall Street to profit from its own distress. Merrill Lynch & Co., Citigroup Inc. and four other U.S. financial companies have used an accounting rule adopted last year to book almost $12 billion of revenue after a decline in prices of their own bonds.

The rule, intended to expand the "mark-to-market" accounting that banks use to record profits or losses on trading assets, allows them to report gains when market prices for their liabilities fall. The new math, while legal, defies common sense.

Merrill, the third-biggest U.S. securities firm, added $4 billion of revenue during the past three quarters as the market value of its debt fell. That was the result of higher yields demanded by investors spooked by the New York-based company's $37 billion of writedowns from assets hurt by the collapse of the subprime mortgage market.

"They can post substantial gains as a result of a decline in their own creditworthiness," said James Cataldo, a former director of treasury risk management for the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston and now an assistant professor of accounting at Suffolk University in Boston. "It's completely legitimate, but it doesn't make sense by any way we currently have of thinking of net income."

The paper profits have helped offset more than $160 billion of writedowns taken by U.S. financial-services companies during the past year.


"I've seen the gas guage and the damage done"

Neil Young to make his Lincoln electric


Young has teamed up with Johnathan Goodwin, a Wichita mechanic who has developed a national reputation for re-engineering the power units of big cars to get more horsepower but use less fuel.

The two are looking to convert Young's 1959 Lincoln Continental convertible to operate on an electric battery. Ultimately, they said, they want the Continental to provide a model for the world's first affordable mass-produced electric-powered automobile.

"Johnathan and this car are going to make history," Young told The Wichita Eagle. "We're going to change the world; we're going to create a car that will allow us to stop giving our wealth to other countries for petroleum."

Young has poured about $US120,000 ($A126,000) so far into the project, Goodwin said.

Neil Young has his heart in the right place... Yes, we need to convert our vehicles to running on something other than oil if we want to continue to have vehicles post-Peak Oil...

...But, the average American does not have $120K+ to do this.

If he can mass produce a cheap, battery powered car OR (better yet) create an industry around electrifying the current vehicle fleet, he's going in the right direction.

...But, as I said before, the average American does not have $120K+ to do this for each of their vehicles, so he needs to find a way to do this at about 1/20th the cost (Yeah, about $6K for an electric conversion will probably be the point that is affordable for the masses).

And, the problem with electric cars is that pesky first law of thermodynamics (see my post about 1/2 the page up). The energy has got to come from *somewhere*. For all he's doing, he may be unplugging from oil and plugging into coal (in the form of electricity produced from coal). So this solves half the problem of implementing EV; the other half is the generation of the power in the first place.

But, per his original idea, I'm hanging on to my Prius until extended battery packs eventually become cheap enough for me to make a full EV conversion.

Take a look at some of the cars that have been converted with a kit from Electro Automotive (approx. $8K):


They also sell a how-to book:


There are quite a few electric vehicles in this area (Monterey Bay) including my neighbor's pickup. If I didn't already have a Prius, I'd buy a broken down used car and convert it. Like this one:

It's a little snarky to focus on the $120K that a successful Rock Star can put into R&D for this experiment. Clearly, he wouldn't expect this to be a price-point for EV's for the mass-market. With any luck, the amount of labor and probably redundant parts they will have tried out on this will reveal some combinations that will bring EV tech a little more forward. I would hope that he is going to think seriously about designing these systems into MUCH lighter vehicles than a big ol' Lincoln Boat.. but maybe this mechanic will be contributing more at some other point in the system.

EV conversions are already often shown to cost from 9 to 12 thousand dollars these days, if you look at the EV world site or similar.


Peak_a_Boo -

This is one of the silliest ideas I've seen in quite a while!

Neil Young's choice of a '59 Lincoln Continental for a test-bed car is hilarious. The '59 Lincoln was one of the heaviest, longest, and most grotesque regular-production passenger automobiles ever to be made in the US. If you've ever been in or up close to one, you would have to agree that it is truly monstrous.

Converting a car weighing over 5,000 lbs to electric (which would proably add another 1,000 lbs in batteries) is a highly creative exercise in futility. If Mr. Young really wanted to save on fossil fuel, he'd buy a Prius and leave his Lincoln in the garage, to be taken out a few times a year for car shows and cruises.

I think Neil Young should stick to music, where at least he can't do too much damage.

Well , he is one of the heaviest, longest and most grotesque rock stars , so he needs the lincoln.

I will forgive him anyway.

Cinnamon Girl pays all debts.

"Cinnamon Girl pays all debts."

Amen and amen! :-)

I hear you! Even my 3 year old knows that "Old Man" is a truly great song.

Shakey gets kudos for a "Heart of Gold" in intent, and double for putting his money where his mouth is. How many of the celebratii are simply putting money down on a Tesla instead of trying to find solutions that work for the every man. Granted, $120K isn't going to do it either.

However, I would like to spend a little time with Neil, (since we've also lived in the same areas: i.e. Blind River, Northern Ontario), and get him up to speed on a few physical principles.

For the apparent multitude of Neil fans out there, here is a bit of trivia:

Nick name is Shakey because he used to suffer from epileptic fits while performing.

Neil and his band with lead singer Rick James were the first mainly white act signed by Motown. Rick got busted for AWOL (draft dodging) and they could not close the deal.

Finally, want to get an appreciation for Neils contribution, watch the extended version of The Last Dance where they jam afterwards. Eric Clapton came out to jam and could not keep up with Neil. Music history.

Sorry for the lack of compound words, but my keyboard has an aversion to apostrophes tonight.


reminds me of another song...from Lynyrd Sknyrd

"I hope Neil Young will remember, oil man don't want him around anyhow"

I agree...I thought it was even sillier when I saw this mechanic was working on Arnold Schwazneggers Hummer!

I think the the way to read this is:

Neil is funding a local guy to get some experience at car conversion and supplying a testbed. Quite a worthwile interest I would say. Presumably the mechanic will do other cars for other people too.

I thought we needed local non-ideal solutions too? It's no good just waiting for the perfect answer to everything - it ain't gonna come..

This is a search primer by user aangel (thanks again!); it's been about a month since we posted it. Hope you find it helpful.

Best Of The Oil Drum Index

Tips for serious research on The Oil Drum
All techniques are for Google unless otherwise stated; click to try them.

1. Just a reminder, thanks for clicking the "share this" buttons and vote for our work on various sites like reddit and digg. It helps us get more eyes, which means more ad revenue to support the site.

2. TOD is on twitter now with our RSS feed: http://twitter.com/theoildrum. If you are a tweeter, erm twitterer, erm, give us a follow...and tweet your friends about our posts now and again. Already 130 followers!

3. If you have a blog, or are a member of a messageboard, or play at a link farm like metafilter or anything else, the more you plant links to our stuff that you like, the more eyes it gets...it's that simple. Every little bit helps. Submit our stuff to those link farms or use the ShareThis buttons found around each post, they're simple (as long as you are logged in to the respective sites).

4. Tell your friends! :) We really do need and appreciate your support. That and educating folks about the problems we face is what keeps us all going.

Thanks a lot!

Apparently it was all a surprise...


Government caught out over oil price surge despite warnings

Published: 02/06/2008

Energy banker Matt Simmons
More Pictures

On May 22, in the UK’s House of Commons, UK Energy Minster Malcolm Wicks claimed that the huge increase in oil prices during recent months had caught everyone by surprise.
The prior week, in a parliamentary written answer, it emerged that BERR, the ministry responsible for oil&gas, thought that the price of a barrel of crude would be about $70 in 2020.


But then, Matt Simmons was the only one who got the North Sea decline right. Other "experts" thought production would still be increasing now.

This is the same Malcolm Wicks who, in his previous spell as Energy Minister, was asked by David Strahan "When do you expect worldwide oil production to peak and go into terminal decline, and does it matter?" (12 July 2005, see Strahan's book The Last Oil Shock). He replied with a facetious and patronizing response dismissing the question.

But then the Department of Transport was still recently using a long term oil price of 50-60 dollars a barrel to justify a refusal to invest in further electrification of the railways.

Even more bizarrely, the DoT is apparently worried that any new electric lines may be made redundant by the arrival of hydrogen technology within 15 – 20 years! (see http://www.christianwolmar.co.uk/articles/rail/581.shtml )

This appears hardly credible to me, but then the DoT have always been pathologically anti-rail and pro-road investment.

The hydrogen economy is the standard excuse trotted out to avoid doing anything now - it has been and is being used extensively by car makers, and they are just borrowing it to avoid the needed investment in rail electrification.

Lack of UK Government knowledge about peak oil is complete BS - there was a House of Commons committe on peak oil as long ago as ten years or so.

However, the UK Government still thinks the peak will be 2030 or so despite persistent efforts to educate them! ... who knows? ... they may be correct, but the price says otherwise I think!

TOD is a major supplier of info to try and educate the MPs ... http://www.appgopo.org.uk/index.php ... it's a struggle though, and what can they do even if they do understand the situation ... it's a free country and we do as WE want.

On the one hand Gordon Brown wants the oil companies to pump more and on the other he wants us to use less to meet Kyoto targets ... a confused message because he doesn't know the answer any more than us!

It's depressing that the petition has only 139 signatures compared to 189,986 signatures to Reduce Fuel duty.

More encouraging that 50 MPs have signed the Commons motion urging the government to review its estimates as to when global oil production will peak and begin to decline. This is known as Early Day Motion 1453 ENERGY AND FOOD PRICES AND PEAK OIL and if you are in the UK you should presss your MP to sign it, see


Dont forget, this is the same DOT that is pushing for a new runway at Heathrow.

Ryan Air will mothball 10% of its fleet this winter, Silverjet have just gone to that 'great hanger in the sky'. Others will soon follow.

An old mate of mine gave up Geology to do flight training. I reckon I will see him back as a Wellsite in two years and I will double his money.

What's that old joke?

How do you make a million in Airlines?

Start with 10 million.

That new runway will be a cool skateboarding park when it is finished.


We thought it hilarious in the office this morning.

Wicks is our 11th Energy minister since the Labour landslide.

I must dig out his bio.

It has prat written all over it.

Just what we need - a Government that gets surprised.

The man himself: MALCOLM WICKS

Malcolm Wicks has been a Member of Parliament in north Croydon since 1992, first representing Croydon North-West and since 1997 representing Croydon North.
Malcolm has lived in Croydon for over 30 years with his wife, Margaret, who works in the National Health Service. His three children all attended local state schools and sixth form college. He has served as a school governor and was a member of Croydon's Community Health Council.
Before becoming an MP, Malcolm worked in the Urban Deprivation Unit of the Home Office, was a lecturer and was Director of the Family Policy Studies Centre. He has been the author and co-author of many publications, including a pioneering work on hypothermia, Old and Cold: hypothermia and social policy.


I love that last bit: ‘pioneering work on hypothermia’. Ha Ha!

After these turkeys have wrecked UK Energy policy, Hypothermia will seem just like Social policy.

Educated at NorthWest London Polytechnic (probably over a barbers shop) and the LSE.

Doesn’t actually state his Degree though. I bet Geology and Physics did not play a big part in his credits though.

The jokes on us,Mudlogger, and will be until 2010 at least.
Just discovered a petition on this site - it might even be in this thread - it can be difficult to spot again
FWIW here it is:
Petition to: Undertake a reassessment of UK Energy Supplies, in particular evaluate the risk of an imminent peak or plateau in global oil production.

You've done it now Dave..I'm on a gov list. I bet my ID card will have a star on it or something..see you in camp Delta

As more projects become delayed and downgraded, a current peak plateau is becoming more and more likely.

Here is a quick update of Wiki Oil Megaprojects showing that annual additions are only just keeping up with annual production declines.

Wiki Megaprojects Annual Supply Additions - click to enlarge

Consequently, the red supply curve in the chart below is becoming more and more likely.

Supply, Demand and Price to 2012 - click to enlarge

You can read more of the 'debate' about oil prices in the House of Commons here:


In his last reply he says 'Globally, we do need increased production...' and 'In the long term, we need increased production, and yes, the price of a barrel of oil being sky-high will encourage that'

Clearly, poor old Wicks is going to get a few more surprises 'in the long term'.

The latest sales-figures of new vehicles sold in Sweden.
The share of "environmentally-friendly" cars is 31,9%, may 2008, up from 16,3% last year.

E85 in Sweden comes from Brazilian sugar-cane ethanol and wheat-based ethanol (with steam and energy from biomass).

Modell Typ 2008 2007(may) 2008 2007 (jan-may)
1 SAAB 9-3 BIOPOWER E85 878 758 4149 926
2 VOLVO V70II FLEXIFUEL E85 511 3741
3 VOLVO V 50 FLEXIFUEL E85 673 550 2940 2026
4 SAAB 9-5 BIOPOWER E85 630 816 2864 4164
5 FORD FOCUS FLEXIFUEL E85 559 966 2419 3398
6 TOYOTA AYGO Max 120 g CO2 532 203 2092 1235
7 VW GOLF MULTIFUEL E85 609 1936
8 TOYOTA PRIUS Hybrid 346 231 1449 1006

From Paul Krugman's blog:

Europe, off the rails

America's on track

Yesterday I took the high-speed train from Barcelona to Madrid (yeth, I’m now in Cathtile). It was terrific, and fed my usual American train envy.

But over dinner a Spanish official told me how worried he is about the impact of higher oil prices on his country’s economy. You see, in Spain just about all freight moves by truck.

Indeed: while US passenger train service is basically nonexistent outside the NE corridor, America has had a revival in rail freight since the 1970s, while trains have just about disappeared from the freight scene in Europe.

The paper from which I swiped the figure above concludes that a large part of the difference is due to “natural” factors: Europe has more coastline, so more stuff moves by water; American shipment distances are longer, which favors rail; and the US rail share is bulked up — literally — by a lot of long-range shipment of coal. (John McPhee had a great article about coal trains a few years ago.)

Still, there’s an important residual difference, probably due to the U.S. absence of border issues, more market incentives (yes, markets are sometimes great — but they should be seen as a tool, not an object of religious devotion), and maybe other factors.

All of this should serve as a reminder that adjusting to higher energy costs will involve more than getting Americans out of their SUVs. It will involve a lot of changes around the world — including, probably, getting European freight back on track.

A good article on EU freight rail


BTW, Spain is converting their rail lines from broad gauge to standard gauge. The new TGV tunnel between Spain and France (from memory) is being designed to carry both High Speed Pax and regular freight, a first AFAIK.


On a loosely related note, ridership is shooting up on California's intercity rail lines, and we get to vote on HSR in November. One good thing about how the rail system in the U.S. is structured is that the government can't just tell the state-owned rail company to focus on passenger rail instead of freight, so the expansions in passenger rail have left freight service around here in as good of a shape as it would be without it. Also, California is starting to spend noticeable sums of money to improve freight rail within the state. Specifically they are improving the track through Donner Summit to allow doublestack container trains to take a 75 mile shorter route than they currently do, adding more passing sidings and better signaling over Tehachapi pass to increase rail freight capacity out of L.A. and starting a short line railroad from the Port of Oakland to the Central Valley to reduce truck use in the SF Bay area.

Anyhow, here's an article on California's 3 state supported passenger rail corridors:

Trains gaining as sensible alternative to cars

Michael Cabanatuan, Chronicle Staff Writer

Monday, June 2, 2008

The car may still be king in California, but with drivers tiring of traffic congestion and feeling the pinch of high gas prices, the train is quickly gaining popularity.

Ridership is booming on three intrastate Amtrak lines that are primarily managed and paid for by the state: the Capitol Corridor from the Bay Area to Sacramento and Auburn, the San Joaquin from Oakland to Bakersfield, and the Pacific Surfliner from San Diego to San Luis Obispo.

"In the last three months, we've seen a phenomenal increase in all three corridors," said Bill Bronte, chief of Caltrans' division of rail. "Particularly on the San Joaquin and Capitol Corridor."

For the first seven months of this budget year, which ends in September, ridership is up 13.6 percent on the Capitol Corridor, 11.1 percent on the San Joaquin and 4.7 percent on the Pacific Surfliner compared with last year. The Surfliner, the state's busiest train, carried 2.7 million passengers in the 2007 budget year, while the Capitol Corridor hauled 1.45 million and the San Joaquin carried 805,000.

While some of the trains still offer passengers plenty of room to stretch out, all of the routes carry standing-room-only crowds at times. The Surfliner often carries crowds of as many as 100 standees on weekends. Eastbound weekday evening trains on the Capitol Corridor line are getting increasingly crowded, and the San Joaquin trains are often full on Fridays and Sundays.

"You used to find some empty cars on weekends," said Vernae Graham, an Amtrak spokeswoman. "But those days are long gone."

Trains have seen year-over-year increases exceeding 9 percent for each of the past 18 months. Eugene Skoropowski, who manages the Capitol Corridor service, says the boom in ridership can be credited to an increased frequency of service as much as to rising gas prices and a desire to escape the tyranny of traffic.

Read the rest of the story here

Just to finish up my tour of gasoline demand destruction in the SF Bay Area:

'Large shifts in behavior' during commutes create new problems
By Gary Richards
Mercury News

As gas prices climb menacingly toward $5 a gallon, Silicon Valley residents are changing the ways they commute - but some of the new solutions are creating problems of their own.

Transit ridership is up across the Bay Area, but riders say parking at Caltrain and BART lots is so jammed that you have to arrive before 6:30 a.m. to find a free spot.

More drivers appear to be leaving their cars at home and bicycling to transit, but bike racks are filling up on local buses and Caltrain, and some riders are being left behind.

Those who use express buses out of Gilroy and Santa Cruz say it's hard to find a seat. On the BART line in Fremont, it's standing room only.

Some drivers are thinking of moving closer to their jobs. One fellow has even removed seats in his van to lighten his load and boost mileage.

"We are seeing large shifts in behavior," said Chris Knittel, an associate professor of economics at the University of California-Davis, who says this spike in gas prices is different from years past. "Compared to previous times, consumers now appear convinced that these prices are here to stay."

That attitude can lead to long-term changes, from the type of vehicles we buy to where we live.

Story continues here.

In the Washington D.C. area the highest rate of foreclosures is in the exurb of Prince William County. Not only is the price of gasoline high, the commuting times became unbearable as some people spent hours in traffic jams. The population grew faster than the roads could be widened. Many people living in the exurbs had jobs in more urban areas towards D.C.

Looks like things are changing in California and someone was wrong, again.

Which is that what you see in California is a society with a tragic destiny. I was all over the Bay Area earlier in the week, from San Francisco to Silicon Valley to Berkeley and even down to Santa Cruz, and that was bad enough, But then I got down to Los Angeles on Friday and have been in a state of pathological reflex nausea ever since. Despite their lame attempts to rebuild a few pieces of the 2000-mile-long streetcar system that they gleefully destroyed in the 1950s, life here is all about cars and it will never not be about cars -- until the reality of our oil predicament falls on the hapless public like a hammer of God and the people of California die for their fucking cars in their fucking cars and over their fucking cars.


I guess behavior can change and things aren't as bad as we think.


Yes, behavior CAN change, and is changing, a bit, Finally ...

but it seems we all have a different estimate of how bad it is.

I think the point is that we're extremely vulnerable; the margins-of-error are apparently very thin.. so do we take serious measures to tackle this, or just trust a mindless, profit-motivated system to do all the salvation work for us?


so do we take serious measures to tackle this, or just trust a mindless, profit-motivated system to do all the salvation work for us?

the mindless profit-driven system is almost always better than the gov't planning you're talking about.

You have to be very careful when comparing America and the EU - an awful lot of American rail freight is containers carrying imported goods, with a not trivial percentage being containers moving between Asia and Europe. A lot of truck freight, especially from Spain, is fresh produce (the A5 autobahn is a major route) - at this point, the trains are slower than trucks, especially since the produce trucks are allowed to drive on Sundays. (Yes, in Germany, trucks are not allowed to use the autobahn from Saturday night to Sunday night.)

But there is no question that a lot of freight goes by truck currently. And that the percent is growing. The German Greens were not successful in attempting to divert that growing freight stream to rail and barge, the sort of failure that is too often the case here.

However, there is no question that American long haul rail freight is much more efficient and timely than the splintered European systems. However, I think it will be possible for Europe to tie its various rail systems together over time, as most of the problems are more administrative than technical.

As a last note - Spain and Portugal were pretty much isolated from the rest of Europe until the 1980s. It was much easier to have trucks transport freight than it was to create a rail network.

While I'm sure someone, somewhere has shipped a container from China, across the U.S. and to Europe, I'm also pretty sure that most China-EU freight travels via the Suez canal. It's shorter, cheaper, faster and the Suez canal can accommodate nearly any container ship ever built. While I don't have data on how much Europe-bound freight is shipped across the U.S. by rail, I'd be surprised if it were a significant amount.

I couldn't find any relevant information, but my memory from the early to mid 2000s time frame was that since much freight was containers, it was simple, and most cost efficient, to fully load a container ship, then break out the cargo, with part remaining in the U.S., and another part going on to Europe. Of course, the process worked equally well in the other direction.

Figures, which without a link could be wrong, was something like 15% of American rail container traffic involved this sort of transshipment. And the American rail freight system was able to handle it, developing it into a profitable business - European freight rail companies remain incapable of such reliable and precise scheduling.

Basically, container traffic is pretty indifferent to how it is moved, which means that optimizing the freight loads is generally the highest goal. An idle ship costs a lot of money - an idle container waiting for transshipment costs basically nothing.

Surprisingly, though this is not relevant to rail, the same is true of auto carrying ships - they will carry a load intended for several continents, and will load and discharge at several ports with the goal of remaining as full as possible while minimizing port times. Creating the routes and loading and unloading schedules is apparently quite a specialized skill.

Whether rail or road the same still applies (for the time being):

Diesel = Food

We better get this part right or TSHTF will be significantly lacking due to low food calorie inputs and poor fibre contributions.

This may well be the near and immediate physical law that governs our motivation in the empirical sense. That is, it may be the representation of the laws of thermodynamics that most can readily understand.

I watched a few minutes of the Lindsey Williams video (upthread) where he talks about the unlimited oil riches in Alaska. Apparently, he worked as a preacher in a construction camp during the 1970's and he *knows* from *first hand experience* that there are *vast* oil reserves that are being withheld from the market (by the government, IIRC).

His belief in secret oil riches reminded me of the Prester John legends of the Middle Ages or the film National Treasure (or even Linus's Great Pumpkin fantasy).

As the reality of Peak Oil starts to hit home, I'm wondering how much of this lunacy is going to enter the political sphere. The last thing we need are people like Lindsey Williams claiming that they know more than the geologists.

I think ol' Lindsey is that perfect all-American combination of revivalist preacher, self-promoting huckster, and gibbering idiot.

The most charitable interpretation I can come up with might be early-onset Alzheimer's.

But you can bet there will be lots and lots of folks who will believe this guy's ravings.

He reminds me of the preacher in There Will Be Blood.
"I drink your milkshake!"

I hate this video but it has really worked its way up the hit list at google video.

I fear that alot of people are buying it hook, line, and sinker.

Best hopes for a retraction vid.

I watched it and had some questions. And then I put it in the global perspective. Assuming he is right - lets give him a bit of Grace - and they can bring on, say 4 Mbbl per day, then the graph would not look much different from the U.S. graph when Prudehoe Bay came on line. Merely a camels hump on the downward slope.

But he does sell books.

Concerning IRAN and loaded and anchored VLCCs.

Iran can't or isn't selling this heavy crude. They could block the Strait of Hormuz by lining these tankers up in critical points and threatening to blow them up in response to American actions.

That would create a mess that could impede traffic for years. It would probably take more than ten though. Perhaps 20 or 30??


"This is US Navy ship to Iranian tanker heading directly towards us. Stop or we err... open fire... or something."

I thought of that too but then what do I know... I have no idea if such an action is workable. If it is then perhaps these are some kind of insurance. Is there any known reason for pumping the stuff into rented tankers that are just sitting around? One guesses they are expecting to move them sooner or later. Is it just a way to tie them up? Perhaps unused tankers are better kept full?

It's heavy oil that no one wants to buy. Iran has refineries that can process it, but they have been doing maintenance, and have a backlog. Iran lacks onshore storage, so they rent tankers. It's really that simple.

Ok. Sounds reasonable. That's all I was fishing for.

You guys can come up with some of the dumbest scenarios. These tankers are rented! Seizing them would be an act of war against the countries whose flag these ships fly. At the very least, if this should happen, no tanker would ever again agree to load Iranian oil.

You guys should stop playing silly mind "what if" games. At least if you do, you should posit something that really has a chance of happening.

Ron Patterson

if this should happen, no tanker would ever again agree to load Iranian oil.

Well that amount of permanent oil loss would probably start WW3 pretty quickly. Oh wait we just did that a few moments ago.

Don't these "what-if" games really depend on what the US/Israel does next. If Iran is attacked surely all bets are off?

The military of KSA, Iran, the US and Israel would have to be pretty stupid not to be taking all sorts of measures and countermeasures.
If you don't believe me, you can check up in the history books the moves, some sensible, some fantastic, which were undertaken prior to both the first and second world war, and every other conflict.
If I were Saudi I would certainly have mined the wells, and also if I were Iranian.
20 tankers of oil could also have some geopolitical significance.
I am not by nature a conspiracy theorist, but conspiracies and obscure plans are par for the course in areas such as this in times of high tension.

Of course, the Iranians wouldn't think of messing up some tankers flagged by another nation. But, what would they do if they were attacked by some other nation in a preemptive strike? Those "assets" could be seized and used in some sort of "self defense" operation, I would suppose. What if the attacking country was the cause of the destruction of one (or more) of these tankers? Would the flag country consider that an act of war and retaliate, say, against the U.S. or Israel? Or, the Iranians could just wire some money to the owners of the tankers, paying a reasonable purchase price about 5 minutes before they were to become casualties of an offensive operation.

It's been said that the value of the cargo is greater than the value of the ship. Lets see, a million barrels at $130 per bbl is... $130 million! What's the value of an older, single hull tanker these days, one whose fatigue life has expired and might not survive another hurricane season plowing thru the North Atlantic? I don't see a problem.

E. Swanson

During the first Gulf War, Iran attacked tankers in the Persian Gulf. No one stopped doing business with Iran, Ron.

The US response was a series of operations known as EARNEST WILL, PRIME CHANCE, NIMBLE ARCHER, and PRAYING MANTIS, in case you disbelief my statement.

Attacks on tankers have occurred before. Business simply returns after a short period of time to the same governments that fired upon those businesses earlier. Businesses cannot help themselves. They are addicted to profit, at any price, over any rational reason, over human safety, and despite clear evidence that they are dealing with nations who will later harm those same businesses.

In other words, corporations are insane. This is why nations like Iran can and will attack tankers again someday. They know the corporations will simply come crawling back.

Yes, thanks for the correction.

Yes sir, those were fun times, to be sure. Trouble is, we were never officially at war with Iran. Of course, we aren't officially at war with Iraq either, are we? Given 20 years of thinking, would the Iranians be repeating their old tactics? Being addicted to profit sounds great, but in war, things tend toward kill-or-be-killed real quick. Besides, if the Iranians are attacked, then they can claim to be the innocent victims of the Great Satan and we go downhill from there. Heck, we can't pacify 25 million Iraqis, who were probably glad to see us step on Saddam, but there are 74 million Iranians, many of whom already have a seriously negative opinion of the U.S. of A.

E. Swanson

"...we can't pacify 25 million Iraqis, who were probably glad to see us step on Saddam..."
The issue is at the moment you're trying to pacify them which is difficult, Saddam on the other hand was more successful at "pacifying" as he was prepared to use whatever methods it took.
Pacifying may be seen as a luxury in the future.

You guys can come up with some of the dumbest scenarios. These tankers are rented! Seizing them would be an act of war against the countries whose flag these ships fly.

Huh. That is what the paper works says, sure.

Last time I checked the paperowrk of the US of A says that the US of A can be in a declared War is if Congress declares War. Yet I keep hearing how the US of A is in a war, but I'm rather sure the paperwork needs there to be a Congressional declaration.

So either there is no War, or what "paperwork says" may not matter as much as you think it does.

Course, you've claimed there are no conspiracies, yet BP is paying a fine over a price fixing conspiracy in propane.

You guys should stop playing silly mind "what if" games. At least if you do, you should posit something that really has a chance of happening.

Hrmmm, you keep claiming that things don't exist, like conspiracies, yet convictions and fines get paid over exactly what you don't envision as happening. Ever think that your worldview needs a re-calibration to reflect the actual reality?

- Look, Turner- Do we have plans?

No. Absolutely not. We have games. That's all.
We play games-- What if? How many men? What would it take?
Is there a cheaper way to destabilize a regime?

That's what we're paid to do.

Three Days of the Condor (RIP, Sydney Pollack)

I'm replying to my own topic on IRAN and VLCCs?

I think Bob Cousins is right. However, in reference to the tankers being rented I have two comments leaning toward the idea they could still be used as weapons.

First is that the tankers need not be blown up. A sternly stated threat might close the strait for some period of time. And two is that we should think about 4th generation warfare. IRAN need not use a tanker as a weapon but someone else might.

After all who thought anyone in their right mind would willingly fly a fully loaded and fueled commercial aircraft into a tall building. At the time it seemed outside the realm of possibility. Not so today.

It was not unimaginable to me. Twenty years ago, you might recall, our navy shot down an Iranian civilian airliner with the loss of all aboard. I was shocked by that, apparently more so than most Americans. A few days later I went downtown to the Washington Mall for the big July 4 fireworks show. There were tens of thousands of us sweating out there waiting for the fireworks, while the airliners flew in and out of National Airport overhead. I couldn't help but think that one Iranian seeking vengeance might well storm the cockpit of an airliner and crash-dive it into the Mall.

If I could have had the idea just sitting there, only a few miles from where it later happened for real, then it must have occurred to many others.

I've been eyeballing these electric bike hubs for a long time and it was interesting to see this on the http://www.electricrider.com/ front page:

Special note to customers waiting for Phoenix, RoadRunner, and Sparrow systems: Our shipment took longer for US Customs to clear than usual. We expect the shipment to arrive on Tuesday 6/3. We will work extra hours and over the weekend to get your system built, tested, and shipped, but ElectricRider values quality over quantity, so it will probably take a couple of weeks to get caught up. When your system ships, you will get the tracking numbers on your invoice by email. At the same time, your credit card will be charged. We appreciate your patience and understanding. Since gasoline prices have skyrocketed, clean electric alternatives have become even more popular. -Dave

From what I have read, the Crystalyte hubs are the only way to go. You may be able to find a better deal out there, but I do not know. There are some other web sites out there with different configurations of batteries and controllers, that take up less space.

You have a lot of homework to do. If I was closer to work, I would most likely have something like this already.

I'll sound ungrateful and say 'bout time.

(and Kenny in China wants a min. 50 piece order BTW)

According to that website minimum weight for the electric drive system is 45 pounds. That's before you connect it to a bicycle. Please, no production bicycle is made that will handle that much weight permanently installed. If you want an electric motorcycle, get an electric motorcycle.
Enthusiasm for green electric hoo-hah is not a good reason to pay money to risk your life. This stuff is dangerous.

I'm not sure who this was directed at, but I'll respond to it anyway. I'm mainly interested in flattening some hills. I cycle for entertainment and exercise and not basic transportation...I simply live too far away from anywhere, and I don't trust other people to not run me over in the less than ideal conditions you'd have to travel in as a commuter. Before I owned it, my mountain bike was owned by a 300+ pound body builder, and my 160 pound ass thrashed that bike - mercilessly - for at least 7 years afterward, and it's still trail worthy. Of course it's an early 90's-ish Gary Fisher Chro-moly Marlin frame. Built, apparently, to withstand Armageddon. But you can still get decent chro-mo frames, usually touring bikes and chro-mo mountain bikes, that will certainly withstand the punishment of the beasts the electricrider guys sell. Other power-assist systems (bion-x, etc) are less brutal and could be fine on basically any bicycle. As far as bicycle on the road in general, I would agree to a raised level of danger there...but these power assist systems, as long as you're not a complete boob, shouldn't present a problem.

For boobism, check out the insane-a-cycle: http://www.electricrider.com/custom/index.htm

Nuts, but pretty cool if you're careful.

Wasn't directed AT or against anyone.
Your bike easily carries your 160 lbs. because that is exactly the load it was intended for.
Try loading your rack or panniers with 45 lbs. Better yet, have someone who knows nothing of load balancing or the steering dynamics of your ride load up the bike. Now try riding that bike down the nearest hill at the same speed you normally would. Duh. Had to use the brakes, didn't you? Used them a lot I'd bet.
Now imagine that 45 lbs is throwing power around. As the frame whips around the baggage throws more power at it. You do not and cannot have the subtle feedback loops present when the power is traveling thru your feet only.
I do kinda like bion-x. Even that one is pushing hard at the limits of weight and power for a bike.
Elsewhere on that Crystalyte wheel page they had a rig that added 70 lbs and would do 36mph. FWIW I have done 36 on an overweight electric bike. I was 15 years old at the time. Adults who want to try such a stunt should stick to safer stuff like martinis.
If all you want is a little assist on a hill spend five minutes thinking about gravity and pedaling dynamics. Watch who gets over the hill easily and figure how they do it. Watch a fatso who shouldn't make it over at all beat the whippets and watch what he does with the pedals.

Breaking news. One of US largest (300k bpd?) refineries in emergency shutdown

Flaring at Motiva, 3 Contract Workers Going to Hospital as a Precaution

Motiva Port Arthur has undergone a power failure and is experiencing flaring, according to spokeswoman Verna Rutherford.

She says the refinery is stabilizing all units and all appropriate agencies and key officials have been notified.

"We have employees monitoring the situation at the fence line and we don't anticipate an impact on the public," said Rutherford. Three Motiva contract workers are going to the hospital as a precaution after experiencing breathing problems.

A contract worker told KFDM News contractors have released their employees from Motiva.

Rutherford says Motiva workers remain on the job and are sheltering in place as a precaution.

Rutherford said it's not known when the power will be restored and the flaring will end.

There's a very brief Reuters story:

Motiva loses power at Port Arthur, Tx refinery

Motiva Enterprises had a power failure at its 285,000 barrel per day refinery in Port Arthur, Texas Monday morning, traders said.

"We hear the whole thing is down," said one Gulf Coast trader.

There's now a kfdm video report

Reporter says they think they can be back up in a few days.

Ah, reminds me of the good old days while working as a field rep for Westinghouse Industry Services. We worked on most of the critical electrical systems in Sarnia, ON - Chemical Valley.

One summer evening my wife and I were out on a river cruise and as we passed near the Esso (XoM) refinery I could see the flare stacks belching 100 ft. flames. Oh shit, I recall saying as I knew the pager would soon be a-buzzing. And it was.

Oddly enough, it could be something as innocent as a squirrel on the main transformer to knock down a whole facility. The subtle revenge of Nature I guess. She too, enlists suicide bombers. (sic).

The problem is getting the entire facility going again - as I am sure many of you know.

"They took a gamble, betting on high gasoline demand," Conor explained. "In fact consumer demand for petrol was sharply down and the industry was left with a large stock of petrol."

This is from one of the Drumbeat stories, It's the End of Days for Cheap Diesel.

However, ask yourself this - if the refineries did what is claimed then why are gasoline inventories in the lower half of the five year average and falling.

This is more BS trying to blame speculators for price issues. Since the basic inventory facts refute the basis for the story, the story should be rejected as well. (Though it's good that Leanan posts it to allow us all to see the kind of contorted logic that the rest of America is going through to try to rationalize what is really occurring.)


If you unpeel the data another layer, it appears that finished conventional gasoline inventory levels in May are at sustained near-record lows per the EIA's 14-year weekly data series.

Information Request

The China-Cuba drilling 50 miles off of Florida story is back in the news again. Anyone know if this has any basis in reality? Last time we went through this (what, 3 months ago?) it was due to some memorandum of cooperation and not any real project. Is this just another one of the "drill everywhere" tactical engagements, or has there actually been some activity in the Gulf?

(And, yes, I have looked, but all I get in the news sources today (including Reuters) are un-sourced statements by "experts" who are using it as justification for drilling on St. Pete Beach.)

Thanks in advance.

I don't know, but it would be hilarious if Cuba rebuilt around offshore oil with Chinese aid and ended up the wealthiest country in Central America. The EU and Russians would pour in, the Japanese would have to do business there, and pretty soon the US would be all alone in punishing an island 90 miles away that would have become pretty much capitalist without a dollar of Wall Street money.

The conclusion of history would be: Latin America's suffering was not caused by capitalism per se, but America's overwhelming power turning capitalist transactions into exploitation. But then again, isn't that always the goal of a capitalist?

We'll see.

Dont forget Canada! They have been doing business with Cuba all along and have indirectly told the U.S. to take their dogmatic idiotic isolationist policy and shove it. Yet, the real irony is the final victory of the Socialist and Communist countries.

It makes you scratch your head awhile...

Just how far can a horizontal drill go? best hopes for 50 miles:-)

Finally, a win-win situation for the environment and farmers that everyone can benefit from.


Economist articles from may 31st issue - showed up in mailbox today.

cover has an oil drum on it with large REC-OIL $135

Recoil( 1 page editorial - page 13 in mag)

American consumers are worried (p 34)

effect on Britain's economy (p 58)

Production in North Sea falling faster than predicted (p 59)

Is it peak oil or speculative bubble?(73 -75)


Have you posted anything recently which explains why Iran is stockpiling oil? I don't recall anything. Why are they doing this? Anybody?


I think they just can't sell it. It's probably the heavy sour stuff.


"The U.S. dollar has been the world's reserve currency since World War Two and there is a good reason for that. The United States has the largest, most open economy in the world, and our capital markets are the deepest and most liquid," Paulson told a business group in the United Arab Emirates.

Paulson's comments mark a slight strengthening of his recent language on the dollar and could resonate with Gulf oil producing states that are struggling with soaring inflation and may be re-evaluating their dollar currency pegs.

Snark away folks!

Sent to me from an industry source:

Subject: Summer Safety Alert

Methamphetamine cooks are buying propane tanks from the exchanges at
Wal-Mart, Kroger, and emptying them of the propane gas. Then they fill
the propane tanks with anhydrous ammonia, which they now have a recipe to cook Methamphetamine.

After they are finished with the propane tanks, they
return them to the store. The stores refill the tanks with propane gas,
not knowing that the improper substance that was inserted in the tanks
and sell them to their consumers.

Anhydrous ammonia is very corrosive and weakens the
structure of the tank. It can be very dangerous when mixed with propane
gas and hooked up to a grill, recreation vehicle, etc.

You should inspect the propane tank for any blue or greenish residue
around the valve areas. If there are evidences of these substances, do
not purchase the propane tank and advise the vendor of your findings.

The information was researched, and you should check out the following
website for more details. They also have pictures for you to view.


This is at least possibly a hoax even though the industry may be falling for it. Just like police departments worldwide send out the kids lsd tatoos and other warnings without checking. At the very least it is an intentional viral email.


One clue is "The information was researched"

Would make a good "King of the Hill" episode!

If you live near a u haul or a travel trailer type park you can take you tank in and have it refilled on the spot.

Watch out for blue rhino they have their own type of valve so if you switch out your store bought tank you can not refill it your self.

Article from MIAMI HERALD 5/10/08

"Tri-Rail riders may be facing no weekend service and a 60 percent cut in weekday trains in the fall, after the state Legislature failed Friday to pass a major commuter rail bill that jeopardizes funding for the South Florida train.

Tri-Rail has been battling for years to get the Legislature to approve a dedicated funding source so that it doesn't have to seek money annually from Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties."


Tri-Rail has been battling for years to get the Legislature to approve a dedicated funding source so that it doesn't have to seek money annually from Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.

From their statistics, ridership has been growing. Nevertheless, from their 2006 report (last available I could find) the fare box revenue only covered a bit over 18% of the operating costs.

Put simply, if Tri-Rail is looking for money why don't they identify their customers as a "funding source"? Other metropolitan rail services do much better in generating revenue as a percentage of their operating costs.

If indeed rail is to be a viable mitigation for post PO urban areas then we have to stop looking at rail as a charity project.

Per memory, Tri-rail breaks even with 24,000 pax/day. They recently carried 16,000 on a regular weekday.

2006 is irrelevant ancient history for Tri-Rail. They have since finished double tracking, with massive gains in efficiency. Double tracking the last two miles (of 76), for example, allowed them to operate 50, rather than 40, trains/week-day with no new equipment or more crews.

There is substantial value in getting that many cars off the highways.

Proposed funding was an existing $2/day tax on rental cars. Tri-Rail reduces cars to make room for those rental cars, so there is some logic to the tax.

Best Hopes for Tri-Rail,


Since you're presumably in Japan, you usually pay at least most of the cost of the transportation you use. Indeed on some lines, horror of horrors, you pay enough to allow the transportation company to turn a profit. So that seems normal to you.

But since you're in Japan, you've probably forgotten about the breathtaking entitlement-mindedness here in the USA. The world owes Americans a free ride. To expect anyone here to get off their plush behind and pay for what they use would simply be immoral. </snark>

Well, when I registered on TOD I was living in Japan, but have since returned to the US (I'd update my username but it doesn't seem possible.)

Yes, it is because I lived in Japan for a few years that I came to appreciate rail, and the reasonableness of the Japanese approach. Which is, to summarize in a one sentence, to have the customer pay upfront, by ticket, the costs (at least the operating costs) and in return receive quality service. Also, by integrating commerce with rail (e.g rail company owns department stores located on the line) companies become large enough to capitalize new developments/improvements while at the same time drawing in customers (who ride the train to get to the store.)

Yes, there was/is government involvement here and there in Japanese rail, and yes, there is always the risk that the large rail companies reach a point where they can bend the government to their will - but that is the risk you take if you want the result.

One of the best things that can come out of increasing gasoline prices would be if Americans start demanding efficient, well run, customer oriented rail in the urban areas.

But riders don't pay their fares up front, not directly. Almost all commuters have their fares paid by their companies.

The big money is where you said it is, in developing along the lines. Even JR is getting in on that act recently.

I was wondering, has Japan Steel Works been discussed on the oil drum? They are currently the only place in the world that can build nuclear reactor pressure vessels in one piece at a rate of 4 per year (with hopes of doubling production soon). An article was written in one of the utility trade magazines I receive, I can't seem to locate a link online though.


It was discussed. I can't remember exactly when; Google might turn it up. Here's the link the started the discussion:

Samurai-Sword Maker's Reactor Monopoly May Cool Nuclear Revival

The Kuwaiti Gulf Oil Company has been buying oil & gas assets in Asia and Africa:


Some saw the high EROIE of oil & natural gas and sought to invest in oil companies and oil leases.

That was supposed to be EROEI rather than energy returned on invested energy.

Steel is one problem, as prices increase.

Today, however one headline in Japanese internet Yahoo Japan greeted me: NO MORE MILK BY THE END OF JULY

We already can't buy butter here (in Japan), except in the most expensive department stores. 200 grams costs about $8.

Apparently milk will (might) be next to go. The inputs are simply becoming too expensive and people won't (can't) pay for it so it's going to be phased out.

Another interesting phenomenom here: more and more shut down gasoline stations!! As a person who has no car, OK I'm happy about the gas stations disappearing. They are unsightly and smell bad. But what will come after this? Tokyo and its suburbs (and also by the way all of Japan) run on oil. So we are left with the impression that things aren't going to be running quite so smoothly from now.

And milk will be followed by cheese, then yogurt, ice cream...then into the next most vulnerable food group which would be probably meat items. Well, I also dislike meat, so I guess as far as peak oil is taking away the horrid gas stations then the greasy steaks and pork chops I can finally rest easy!!!!!!

The society will be set up for vegetarians and bicyclists, maybe we can start a new holiday to commemorate the end of oil. :)

Interesting. Historically, Japanese did not eat dairy products (after they were weaned, anyway). In Hawaii, you can still meet Japanese and Chinese senior citizens who are grossed out at the idea of eating milk or cheese.

Japanese did not eat much meat, either. Just fish. One reason for their historically light ecological footprint, I guess.

U.S. Corn stocks are expected to plunge this year, while wheat and soybean stocks are expected to soar.


Wheat prices rose again as Australia was threatened by drought:


The Indian wheat farmers produced a bumper crop:


European biodiesel refinerie may close due to dumping of United States subsidized biodiesel in Europe:


The EU directive for 5.75% biofuels use by 2010 may take gains in soybeans and convert it to transport fuel:


This might drive up the price of milk in Japan as corn and soybeans were the primary worldwide livestock feeds.

It was estimated that without subsidies a United States corn ethanol distillery would go out of business as they were faced with higher corn and natural gas costs.

The Candu reactor doesn't need these but instead has hundreds of small pipes, which is also a disadvantage since there are more points of failure.

South Korean's Doosan Heavy Industries will have the capability by 2010 and Sheffield Forgemasters are hoping to have this by 2011. I would expect the Chinese to also be looking at this.

Pebble bed reactors like the one in China also do not use reactor vessels.
Some designs of reactors also use two-piece vessels.
A number of other companies are also setting up reactor vessel systems, or are looking into so doing.
They include Areva in France, a company in Sheffield, Russian and I believe a company in the US.

Pickens Says CFTC Probe of Oil a `Waste of Time' (Update1)

``We're using 400,000 barrels of oil less today than we did a year ago, but the Chinese are now using 500,000 barrels greater than they did last year,'' Pickens said. ``So whatever we kill in the way of demand, they pick up in their demand. You're gong to bid for the oil, and the highest bidder's going to get the oil until you finally kill demand with price.''