DrumBeat: June 3, 2008

Chile truckers launch strike to protest fuel prices

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Thousands of Chilean drivers parked their trucks along national highways on Tuesday to protest soaring fuel prices in a tacit rejection of government fuel subsidies announced amid fanfare this week.

Soaring global oil prices have provoked protests around the world and consumers in Europe and Britain called for "global solutions" to the energy crisis last week.

A doomer's garden

Each of us likely has a friend who has a fairly large garden. Ask him or her what percentage of their family’s yearly food intake comes from the garden – I would be astounded if any say more than two percent. Annual gardening, like agriculture, takes an enormous input of energy for the return you get, and that is assuming you are good at it.

Energy Department Seeks License for Yucca Mountain

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Energy Department submitted an application seeking to build and operate the nation's first permanent repository for used nuclear fuel at Yucca Mountain, Nevada.

Iran slams 'capitalists' for rising oil and food prices

ROME (RIA Novosti) - Iran's president told a UN-sponsored summit in Rome on Tuesday that "powerful capitalists," who are trying to stop the development of nuclear energy, are to blame for high oil and food prices.

Motiva Texas Refinery to Restore Output in `Couple of Days'

(Bloomberg) -- Motiva Enterprises LLC, a joint venture of Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Saudi Arabia's state oil company, said it expects its Port Arthur, Texas, refinery to return to full production capacity in the ``next couple of days.''

China stops refunding export tax on some vegetable oil products

BEIJING, June 3 (Xinhua) -- China will stop refunding export taxes levied on some types of vegetable oil from June 13, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) said in a statement on Tuesday.

This move is part of the government's effort to control vegetable oil exports, ensure domestic supplies and stabilize prices.

Russia is eating up its oil fund assets

"At the end of the planning horizon in 2040, with passive continuation on this path, Russia could eat up its oil fund assets and other foreign exchange assets it started out with, and could reach a zero net debt position. After that, Russia could get into debt again as gross debt continues to increase while the oil fund begins to shrink since the budget transfers by that time exceed oil revenues."

Gas OPEC future unclear as meeting postponed

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The world's top gas exporting nations will postpone holding a high-level forum to October from June as the sides cannot agree on whether to form a body similar to the OPEC oil group, Russian officials said on Tuesday.

Pinched at pump, consumers warm to energy plants

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- Consumers are dropping some of their opposition to new energy construction projects as gasoline prices push past $4 a gallon and electricity prices accelerate, says a new survey released Monday.

The change of heart could spell less opposition to coal and nuclear plants. But the building of new oil refineries, stalled for years, is likely to continue to face stiff opposition, said the survey by RBC Capital Markets.

Kurt Cobb: The end of money?

What frightens policymakers more than institutional investment managers moving money into commodities is the possibility that average citizens may attempt to flee their own currency. The avenues open to them, however, are considerably more narrow. Certainly, those who have brokerage accounts can call their brokers and ask that their money be shifted into commodity investments. But that is a small subset of the world. The rest of the population is left with turning their ready cash or small savings accounts into real things: jewelry, coins, precious metals, even sides of beef for storage in the deep freezer. But this part of the population usually doesn't realize what is happening to them until the cost-of-living has been rising for some time, and so they are the most vulnerable segment of society. When they do realize what is happening, their collective rush to the exits is so large that it can create a very high rate of inflation and even hyperinflation as real things are bid up and money is spent as quickly as it is earned.

Solving the pain at the pump

Empty out the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. This now holds 700 million barrels of oil; draining it could add add up to 4.3 million barrels of crude a day to the market for about five months. That's nothing to sneeze at. It's about half of what the Saudis now pump and almost twice what Kuwait puts on the market.

At the very least, this would bring gasoline prices down. And if the theories of a speculator-created "oil bubble" are true (I doubt they are), it would pop the bubble and send prices tumbling.

What of the national-security risk? Another myth. As long as we're willing to pay market prices for crude oil, we can have all the oil we want, embargo or no embargo.

A real U.S. physical shortage is impossible unless a.) all international oil actors refused to do business with us, which won't happen, or b.) a foreign navy stopped oil shipments to U.S. ports, which the U.S. Navy is more than competent to prevent.

U.S. funds for roads, bridges in short supply, experts warn

Mr. Ruane, whose organization represents 5,000 public- and private-sector members with a stake in the highway and bridge program, said that in addition to the short-term funding shortage, prospects are even dimmer for the long term if the United States doesn't increase revenue. The association has recommended an increase of 10 cents per gallon to the federal fuel tax -- currently 18.4 cents -- with future increases tied to inflation.

US rail network facing congestion 'calamity'

CHICAGO: Railway executive Matthew Rose stood before fellow industry leaders, pointing to a map meant to tell the future of the U.S. rail freight network. It was drenched in red — east to west, north to south.

The blotches illustrated areas where, by 2035, traffic jams could be so severe trains would grind to a halt for days with nowhere to go.

Economics of Nuclear Energy

I would like to begin this brief exposition with a bizarre fairy tale that was confected by two well known energy experts, Amory Lovins and Joseph Romm, and published in Foreign Affairs (1992-93), which is the prestigious journal of the (United States) Council on Foreign Relations. It goes like this...

Harvests of hunger

The world has enough food but high prices are causing hunger. It's time to stop treating food as just another commodity.

UK: Firms being driven round the bend by soaring fuel prices

WHILE many drivers can either absorb the cost or leave their cars at home, many fuel-dependent businesses are fighting for survival. Last week, a convoy of hauliers took to the streets of London to protest at a further proposed 2p hike in fuel duty.

The protests might not yet be on the scale of those witnessed at Grangemouth and elsewhere at the turn of the century, but the mood is getting uglier as businesses find themselves being squeezed ever tighter.

Soaring diesel hurts truckers

Because trucks haul about three-fourths of all freight, rising diesel prices "have the potential to increase the cost of everything Americans consume," said Tiffany Wlazlowski, spokeswoman for the American Trucking Associations in Washington. The industry spent $112 billion on fuel in 2007 and is on a pace to spend $154 billion this year, she said.

"It's brutal out there," said Kerry Byrne, executive vice president of Total Quality Logistics, the fast-growing freight brokerage firm in Union Township.

Atlantans' cars idle in mid-1970s time warp

Lately the mere whiff of gas fumes, like Marcel Proust's petite madeleine, awakens dusky, archived memories. All at once I am behind the wheel of my little green Pinto, which idles monotonously in one of those mid-'70s Friday afternoon gas queues as I wait my turn to fill the tank. Sometimes the wait exceeds an hour.

SUVs on road to nowhere

They sit on the front lawns of rural North America in increasing numbers, "For Sale" signs slapped on their windows like badges of shame.

It has come to this for the once-mighty sport-utility vehicle. Some auto dealers are refusing to take them as trade-ins. Those that do value them at a fraction of their previous worth. Gasoline at US$4 a gallon has turned the family hauler of choice only a decade ago into the unwanted animal of the motoring market.

Land-barge SUVs taking back seat to gas sippers

Seven days behind the wheel of a compact, fuel-efficient car clinched it for Catherine Carter.

With regular gas prices at or near record highs, now was the time to buy a gas miser and relegate the massively roomy, yet enormously fuel-gulping Chevrolet Suburban to family trips.

Ford CEO says shift to small cars here to stay

Americans' switch to buying smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles is permanent, not a temporary shunning of big SUVs while they wait for record fuel prices to drop, Ford Motor CEO Alan Mulally says.

Mulally says the stampede is a "structural change" and if, as Ford (F) predicts, fuel prices stay up, "That shift to small and medium-size cars and utilities … is going to be permanent."

16 sweet used fuel sippers

Money-tight car buyers looking to save money on gas are turning to fuel-efficient used models. Consumer Reports says these are good bets.

Gas guzzler graveyard

High pump prices are hitting big SUVs hard and shrinking their numbers. Here's a look at a few former kings of the road.

Wanted: Gas mileage AND all the goodies

With gas prices going through the roof, vehicles that combine high mileage with low price and loads of utility are selling like crazy.

Fuel-sipper smackdown

Four ultra-fuel efficient cars hit the road to see which one was the best gas value. They all finished strong, but there was one clear winner.

End to ethanol could stave off grain crisis

BEIJING (Reuters) - Halting production of ethanol from grains would help ease global grains shortages in the short-term, the founder of the Earth Policy Institute think tank said on Tuesday.

Ethanol, a fuel made from corn, accounts for a 20 million ton increase in the amount of grains consumed each year, far outpacing growth of about 2 million tonnes a year on average in demand from China, Lester Brown told reporters in Beijing.

Bush administration: Domestic sources of energy are off limits

BILLINGS, Montana (AP) -- A new report from the Bush administration says most of the oil and more than 40 percent of the natural gas beneath public lands in the United States are off limits to drilling.

Opening those reserves would give energy companies access to an estimated 19 billion barrels of oil and 95 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, administration officials said.

Controversial 'Blue Energy' was just diesel

State Minister of Research and Technology Kusmayanto Kadiman, who also heads the BPPT, said the agency's research discovered that the chemical contents of Joko's fuel were no different from those of Pertamina's diesel sold on the market.

... Many scientists and lawmakers have criticized Yudhoyono for looking an for easy way to cope with the energy crisis by trusting the untested fuel and neglecting to develop renewable energy sources, such as geothermal and micro-hydro, to fire power plants in place of depleting fossil fuels.

Mexico congress to substantially change oil bill

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - A key Mexican opposition party will make substantial changes to the government's oil reform plan, but a compromise bill will be ready for a vote in Congress by September, a senior lawmaker said on Monday.

"We are going to make changes and the changes will be substantial," Sen. Francisco Labastida of the centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, said in a local radio interview.

Soros warns of oil bubble

According to prepared remarks, Soros will tell a congressional committee that while rising oil prices are the product of changes in the market, the commodity's steep price rise is partly a result of large investment institutions putting money in the oil futures market -- which is creating an oil market bubble.

Oil executives say soaring costs hurt them, too

WASHINGTON — Executives from the five biggest international oil companies on Wednesday said they are victims of high oil prices along with U.S. consumers, but Senate lawmakers showed little sympathy.

New Jersey township plans 4-day workweek to cut energy costs

The township plans to condense its work week from five to four days to save on rapidly rising energy costs and consolidate services in times of economic uncertainty.

TankDepot.co.uk Tackles Oil Tank Security

A Derwent Group business, TankDepot benefits from over three decades experience in the supply and installation of oil and liquid storage tanks. In fact, the company has been around long enough to remember the last energy crisis in the 1970s and is ideally placed to offer consumers sensible advice on the issue of oil tank security.

"Firstly, would you leave £1,500 in public view?", asks Philip. "Of course, you wouldn’t. Yet a typical 2,500 litre domestic oil tank can contain up to £1,500 worth of oil. Recognising the value of fuel inside a tank is the first step to securing it.

Coal put forward as alternative source of diesel

With no relief in sight for oil prices, turning Australia's vast coal stocks into diesel could be a potential solution to the energy crisis.

How to meet the oil challenge

Nationalize all potential future fossil energy resources. Present investments in currently developed and producing energy resources should be left in the hands of the free market to realize their profits. But the free market and oil companies must not be trusted to act in our collective national best interests with regard to future energy issues.

Bush would veto U.S. climate change bill

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Even before debate began on Monday on the first comprehensive climate change bill to reach the U.S. Senate floor, the White House said President George W. Bush would veto it in its current form.

Bush himself slammed the bill, saying it would cost the U.S. economy $6 trillion. His estimate drew quick denials from those who support the legislation, including Sen. Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat and longtime environmentalist.

Few heed warnings of financial disaster

We have a good early-warning system for financial disasters. Unfortunately, very few investors or consumers pay attention.

GM to close 4 factories, may drop Hummer: Automaker to curtail truck, SUV production amid soaring fuel prices

WILMINGTON, Del. - General Motors is closing four truck and SUV plants in the U.S., Canada and Mexico as surging fuel prices hasten a dramatic shift to smaller vehicles.

CEO Rick Wagoner said Tuesday before the automaker's annual meeting in Delaware the plants to be closed are in Oshawa, Ontario; Moraine, Ohio; Janesville, Wis.; and Toluca, Mexico. He also said the iconic Hummer brand may be discontinued.

Really, Really Bad News About Oil

Some years ago I wrote a paper called ‘A ‘New’ World Oil Market’ (2004), which I presented at a conference somewhere. The intention of that paper was to argue that the world oil market was in the process of a rapid transition, and the combination of resource scarcity and accelerating demand (relative to supply) would cause a fundamental shift in the market. I said in that paper essentially what I am going to say here, only at that time I couldn’t prove a few of the things that needed proving. All that has changed: it changed when the price of oil reached $100/b and continued to rise, because with that price and the present movements of global oil supply and demand, proofs are no longer necessary. This time the wolf is here!

China fuel shortage led by supply, not demand - exec

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's fuel shortage is caused more by declining supply than by increasing demand, an executive with Sinopec SenMei (Fujian) Petroleum Co said on Tuesday.

Ireland: Teagasc 2030 Foresight conference

In 2030, we are in the post-peak oil era with conventional oil production declining steadily. The Chinese and Indian economic superpowers have accelerated the increase in global energy demand. Oil prices fluctuate at around $300 per barrel.

Agriculture is now centre stage in terms of global food and energy security.

Economic depression in America: Evidence of a withering economy is everywhere

In Santa Barbara parking lots are being converted into hostels so that families that lost their homes in the subprime fiasco can sleep in their cars and not be hassled by the cops. The same is true in LA where tent cities have sprung up around the railroad yards to accommodate the growing number of people who've lost their jobs or can't afford to rent a room on service-industry wages. It's tragic. Everywhere people are feeling the pinch; that's why 9 out of 10 Americans now believe the country is now headed in the wrong direction and that's why consumer confidence is at its lowest ebb since the Great Depression. This is the great triumph of Reagan's free trade "trickle down" Voodoo economics; whole families living out of their cars waiting for the pawn shop to open.

What they said on hot energy topics


Nobuo Tanaka, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency: "I am always asking my staff is there peak oil coming. Before 2030, we don't think we need to worry. We have abundant resources under ground, so the issue is over ground."

"I'm not siding with peak oil."

Lars Josefsson, President and Chief Executive of Vattenfall VATN.UL, Sweden's state-owned utility: "I would not get into the religious debate about peak oil, but I think the world will have big difficulties in significantly increasing its oil production."

"Global investment levels are too low .... Oil will come from places more difficult, more distant, more costly and on top of that oil is in areas that don't have stability."

Ayman Asfari, chief executive of Petrofac, UK-based oil services company: "With oil you have this finite resource. It's like hiding 100 Easter eggs and you find the first 50 with 5 or 10 percent of the effort and for the last 10 it requires 90 percent of the effort."

"The effort is translated into a lot more cost."

US Housing Industry - A Monument to Futility

The economic headwinds that have been buffeting the United States for the past several months are only increasing in velocity despite the Herculean efforts of the powers-that-be to bolster the system against collapse. At this point, the domestic economic picture can only be described as ominous. Energy prices have risen from dangerously high to prohibitively high. Housing prices are continuing to drop at alarming rates in many sections of the country. Banks remain reluctant to lend either to individuals or corporations for virtually any type of transaction. And our political and business elites remain a prosper of Hollow Men who continue to whistle past the graveyard as their limousines chauffeur them home each night to their gated mansions.

Doomsday: What happens when gas is $10 a gallon

For decades we’ve lived (and driven) in denial, somehow assuming we have the “right” to cheap gas, and therefore, low-cost transportation. Now it’s time to face reality and consider what will happen when (not if) gas hits $10 a gallon.

Congress, Regulators Target `Bad' Speculation

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Congress is taking time out from whatever it does in an election year to look into soaring food and energy prices. Just the thought is scary.

Australia: Fuel pain could be a blessing for public transport

While freight cost and food prices soar due to higher fuel prices, the bus industry is boosted by greater patronage and more exposure as a crucial service.

The greater need for public transport unfortunately highlights the stereotypical over-crowding, unreliable service and inconvenience of users on some networks which can’t adapt quickly enough to the sudden patronage surge.

This is negative media which needs to be combated and reversed into positive spin.

Reassess I-5 bridge project, group asks

Saying that people already are driving less because of rising gas prices and a growing awareness of climate change, an advisory group recommended Monday that planners take another look at the scope of a new Interstate 5 bridge over the Columbia River.

The Sustainable Development Commission, whose members are appointed by the city of Portland and Multnomah County, called for an updated traffic analysis using current gas prices and considering other factors.

New Zealand: Gearing now for peak oil shock

A movement that "stops the 'overwhelm'; the feeling 'but what can I do'? It's an opportunity for people to come from an individual standpoint and make a difference."

That's how Normandale resident Juanita McKenzie describes Transition Towns. It's a model in which community-based initiatives facilitate transition from a globalised, oil-dependent society to a resilient, re-localised society that can thrive in a world where there is less abundant cheap oil.

Analysis: Oil showing classic ingredients of an asset bubble

Over the past two weeks, the crude oil forward curve has flattened dramatically. Fundamental changes cannot explain sudden, severe price or curve movements. As in the dot-com period, when 'new economy' stocks became popular, a growing number of Wall Street analysts have been repeatedly raising their forecasts as oil prices have risen. These revised forecasts have been partially responsible for new investor flows, driving prompt and forward prices to perhaps unsustainable levels, says a Lehmann Brothers Energy Special Report.

Shell, Statoil Say Strike May Cut Norway Oil Output

(Bloomberg) -- Royal Dutch Shell Plc and StatoilHydro ASA may be forced to cut as much as 220,000 barrels a day of North Sea oil production, about 9 percent of Norway's total output, if rig managers strike this weekend.

Kurdistan PM Barzani says Iraq should triple crude oil export capacity

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates: Kurdistan's Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani said Tuesday Iraq should boost crude oil export capacity to 6 million barrels a day, three times the amount the country is exporting now.

"We think Iraq needs to export more oil," Barzani said to reporters after a press conference in Dubai. "Iraq has (the) capacity to export six million barrels a day, but they're happy with two million."

Dakota Oil Fields of Saudi-Sized Reserves Make Farmers Drillers

(Bloomberg) -- John Bartelson, who smokes Marlboro Lights through fingers blackened with tractor grease, may look like an average wheat farmer. He isn't. He's one of North Dakota's new oil barons.

Every month, he gets a check for tens of thousands of dollars from a company in Houston called EOG Resources Inc., which drilled two oil wells on his land last year.

IEA may trim world oil demand further

LONDON (Reuters) - World oil demand is shrinking more quickly than first thought due to weak consumption in some major consuming countries, the International Energy Agency's head said on Monday.

The IEA may cut its forecast for world oil demand growth further, said Nobuo Tanaka, executive director of the agency which advises 27 industrialised countries, during the Reuters Energy Summit.

He also conceded that a forecast of around 100 million barrels per day (bpd) for oil supply in 2030 was "more reasonable" than a higher IEA estimate which some industry officials doubt can be achieved.

"We are saying that we may see a further demand slowdown for the June report," Tanaka said. "How much, I don't know."

$4 Gas: Fueling Our Fears

Some analysts say the prices are driven by speculators, and that they can't stay this high. But Walter Youngquist, a petroleum geologist in Eugene, says it will only get worse. We've only just begun to feel the effects of the declining supply of a finite resource.

"I don't think people recognize what peak world oil production really means," Youngquist said. "The peak and then decline of world oil production, which is upon us now, will affect more people in more ways than any other event in human history."

Phil Flynn: What is it all about?

Peak oil from Russia with love. Is Russia’s new President, Dmitry Medvedev, going to be friendly to foreign oil interests. Well in case you missed it, last week's Wall Street Journal reported on growing tension between BP’s partners in Russian oil ventures TNK-BP. The Journal reported that Russia sought the ouster of the unit’s CEO Robert Dudley. BP refused saying that the escalating dispute could shape BP’s future and the role of foreign companies under Russia’s new president. The Wall Street Journal says that in February, 2003 BP announced the new Russian joint venture. Then under pressure in 2007, BP agreed to sell a big stake in a big Siberian gas field to Gazprom and form a global joint venture with the Russian gas giant. Then in 2008 the Russian security services raided BP offices and questioned employees. They arrested low level employees on espionage charges. If that wasn’t enough, the Russian government also said they were investigating BP for Tax evasion. The same trumped up charge that sank YUKO’s.

What's Driving Skyrocketing Oil Prices?

Global supply is stretched thin. Some argue this is because the world is at or near "peak oil production," a tipping point when half the world's oil has been extracted, and yields begin to decline, with very major price effects.

A different view is uncomfortable with the apocalyptic element of peak oil theory. From this vantage point, more oil -- or close substitutes, like tar sands or shale -- is available, but it is harder and more expensive to get. This is the preferred view of the oil industry analysts (many of whom note that much oil that is easily attained from a technological standpoint -- for example, in Iraq -- is hard to reach for political reasons).

Indonesia: President challenges experts to seek new energy

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono again challenged experts in energy to find new energy resources to replace fossil energy, a minister said.

"On behalf of the people, the president asked the best experts in energy to seek and find new energy and technology to replace `peak oil`," Research and Technology Minister Kusmayanto Kadiman said after the meeting between the head of state and around 60 energy experts at the state secretariate building here on Monday.

Has Oil Production Reached a 'De Facto' Peak?

On one side of the net are analysts looking at graphs of oil production and saying something along the lines of Boone Pickins’ recent summary of world oil: we need 87 but can only produce 85. I’m not sure where Boone gets his numbers, since last I looked (see below) the all liquids graphs were showing 87 mb/d being produced in recent months. But that’s not the point. The point is that a lot of people are running around saying “peak oil is here” because, the fact is, there has been more or less of a plateau in both light sweet and all liquids production since about mid-2006, give or take a little.

On the other side, looking at the same graphs, is a group yelling “it’s not peak oil, it’s speculators! speculators!!” Their point is that even though there has been a production plateau, that has nothing to do with the earth’s ability to yield higher flows of oil. In fact, they say, plenty more oil could be produced if it weren’t for hoarding, violence, and incompetence on the parts of various national oil companies…and speculators.

Out of Gas

Don't worry about us, dear readers…we have not lost a wink of sleep to the peaks…neither Peak Oil nor Peak Food bothers us. No, it is not the peaks that disturb our sleep…it's the valleys.

Peak Everything: 8 Things We Are Running Out Of And Why

Why is everything running out at the same time? We did a series on Planet Green where we looked at why those basic things that we take for granted, like water, food and fuel are getting expensive and scarce, all at once.

Stable dollar could reverse oil run

It looks increasingly likely the Fed is through cutting rates - and that argues for a strengthening greenback and an end to surging oil prices.

Let’s Just Call It ‘Cap and Tax’

The current plan for dealing with global warming would trigger a lobbying frenzy to win new subsidies and preferential treatment.

OECD boss hails high oil prices

The soaring cost of oil is welcome as it sends a clear signal to consumers and firms to curb their use of fuel, the head of the OECD has said.

Speaking at the annual meeting of the world's richest nations, Angel Gurria said it would be "disastrous" if they cut fuel taxes or subsidised prices.

"The best solution to high oil prices is high prices" to cut demand, he said.

U.N.: Food production must rise 50% by '30

ROME (AP) — World food production must rise by 50% by 2030 to meet increasing demand, U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon told world leaders Tuesday at a summit grappling with hunger and civil unrest caused by food price hikes.

The secretary-general told the Rome summit that nations must minimize export restrictions and import tariffs during the food price crisis and quickly resolve world trade talks.

"The world needs to produce more food," Ban said. "Food production needs to rise by 50% by the year 2030 to meet rising demand."

Soaring inflation threatens peg to $US

Inflation for states in the Persian Gulf is still rising at breakneck speed, new data signalled yesterday, spurring calls for the gas-exporting emirate of Qatar to stop pegging its currency to the flagging American dollar – casting a shadow over U.S. efforts to restore support for the greenback.

Kuwait preparing inflation-fighting plan - minister

KUWAIT (Reuters) - Kuwait will unveil a new inflation-fighting plan next week, a government minister told Reuters on Tuesday, as price rises remain near record levels in the oil-exporting nation.

Commerce & Industry Minister Ahmad Baqer, who was appointed last week, told state news agency KUNA on Monday the ministry would clamp down on price rigging and increase subsidies for basic commodities affected by a global surge in food costs.

Canada: Consumers less confident as gas prices soar

TORONTO (Reuters) - Consumer confidence dropped to its lowest level in nearly seven years in May, as concerns about future finances intensified amid record high gas prices, the Conference Board of Canada said on Monday.

Apache Explosion Affects West Australia Gas Supplies

(Bloomberg) -- Apache Corp., operator of oil and gas projects on five continents, said an explosion at its plant off the coast of Western Australia will affect natural-gas pipeline deliveries to the domestic market for ``a number of days.''

Chevron-Led Caspian Pipeline Group Posts First Profit in 2007

(Bloomberg) -- The Chevron Corp.-led Caspian Pipeline Consortium reported its first profit in 2007 after increasing the tariff to pump oil from Kazakhstan to the Black Sea.

ConocoPhillips ‘facing oil trading probe’

US supermajor ConocoPhillips said today it was subpoenaed last December by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) as part of the agency's six-month investigation into manipulation of the oil market.

Pickens Says CFTC Probe of Oil a `Waste of Time'

(Bloomberg) -- A U.S. probe into whether speculators manipulated oil prices up to more than $135 a barrel is a ``waste of time,'' billionaire hedge-fund manager Boone Pickens said yesterday.

...``There's nothing to it to start with,'' Pickens said in interviews at an American Wind Energy Association conference in Houston. ``That's not what's happened. You have 85 million barrels a day of oil available in the global energy market and 86.4 million barrels a day of demand. So the price of oil is going to go up until you can kill demand.''

Philippines: DOE to investigate oil, LPG price hikes

The Department of Energy on Tuesday said it will investigate local oil companies and distributors of liquefied petroleum gas for allegedly imposing price increases that do not reflect actual fluctuations in the world market.

In Spain, Water Is a New Battleground

FORTUNA, Spain — Lush fields of lettuce and hothouses of tomatoes line the roads. Verdant new developments of plush pastel vacation homes beckon buyers from Britain and Germany. Golf courses — dozens of them, all recently built — give way to the beach. At last, this hardscrabble corner of southeast Spain is thriving.

There is only one problem with the picture of bounty: this province, Murcia, is running out of water. Swaths of southeast Spain are steadily turning into desert, a process spurred on by global warming and poorly planned development.

Tony Blair: America on the right track

The climate change bill that senators are to begin debating this week is a hugely important signal of intent on behalf of U.S. legislators. Yes, negotiations could still alter the legislation. But the bill's core proposition is correct: Unless the United States radically reduces its greenhouse gas emissions, along with other major emitters, the damage to the climate will be irreversible.

Barton a steadfast skeptic on climate change

"I don't think the U.S. is going to be able to convert its economy to get to these lower emissions levels," Mr. Barton said. Summing up the argument he'll make in the coming months, he added: "It doesn't make sense. It's not necessary. It costs a fortune."

Trouble with Congress' Green Gambit

It's a truism in politics: support for environmental causes tends to be broad, but shallow. Broad, because most voters support political action to protect the Earth, and not even the most conservative of politicians want to be seen as standing against it. Shallow, because few Americans really allow environmental issues to dictate their votes - and politicians know it.

NASA's own watchdog: Agency misled on global warming

WASHINGTON - NASA's press office "marginalized or mischaracterized" studies on global warming between 2004 and 2006, the agency's own internal watchdog concluded.

In a report released Monday, NASA's inspector general office called it "inappropriate political interference" by political appointees in the press office. It said that the agency's top management wasn't part of the censorship, nor were career officials.

The US Senate Commerce Committee is holding a hearing today on “Energy Market Manipulation and Federal Enforcement Regimes,” starting at 10 am EDT. I’m researching a column on the effect of speculation on oil prices, so I plan to watch the hearing at least until noon.

There will be two panels presenting to the committee. The first will have George Soros, Chairman, Soros Fund Management; Terrence A. Duffy, Executive Chairman, Chicago Mercantile Exchange Group, Inc.; and Michael Greenberger, Professor, University of Maryland School of Law.

The second panel will have Gerry Ramm, Inland Oil Company on behalf of PMAA; Lee Ann Watson, Deputy Director, Division of Investigation, Office of Enforcement, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; and Dr. Mark N. Cooper, Director of Research, Consumer Federation of America.

From the Commerce Committee web site: “The hearing will examine energy market manipulation and federal enforcement regimes. The hearing will also consider the current state of the oil and gas markets and their impact on consumers, as well as solicit testimony and discussion as to the key factors the Federal Trade Commission should incorporate into its upcoming rulemaking on its new responsibility to prevent manipulation in the wholesale oil and petroleum distillate markets.”

The hearing will begin at 10:00 a.m. in Room 253 Russell Senate Office Building. The hearing will be available via webcast. To view the hearing, go to http://commerce.senate.gov.

I plan to post some notes periodically, below.

Please be careful to clearly separate issues of manipulation, and speculation. these two are getting continually muddled of late, i think just 'cos the same agencies are often looking at both (separately)

I love how speculation has replaced the risk premium as the conventional wisdom on prices. Was all the talk about the risk premium idle "speculation," or are we now talking speculation on top of the weak U.S. dollar, on top of the risk premium? Seems like its ability to reasonably explain reality started to weaken, and so has been quietly dropped.

James Hamilton, a professor of economics at University of California, San Diego, has a recent paper on the question of speculation driving oil prices. In his own words:

Understanding Crude Oil Prices. This paper examines the factors responsible for changes in crude oil prices. The paper reviews the statistical behavior of oil prices, relates these to the predictions of theory, and looks in detail at key features of petroleum demand and supply. Topics discussed include the role of commodity speculation, OPEC, and resource depletion. The paper concludes that although scarcity rent made a negligible contribution to the price of oil in 1997, it may be an important feature of the most recent data.

Here's the link (pdf warning):


My apologies if this has been posted here already. Hard to keep up with everything going on at TOD!

As background, Hamilton had a very short piece in the October '07 Atlantic Monthly on Ghawar, discussing how it has likely peaked. He talks about Stuart Staniford's work and also refers to The Oil Drum. For a magazine that has, IMO, a pronounced cornucopian inclination, this was somewhat surprising.

I love how speculation has replaced the risk premium...

A nice observation.

We play spin the bottle:

risk premium
exchange rate

At some point listening to the excuses will get tiresome... perhaps when we begin walking.

What I love is hearing Chavez called an incompetent socialist. I suppose that label fits the folks in Alaska too. They've been slackers lately.

Although harmful in preventing/delaying an honest discussion of our predicament, and the possible implementation of real solutions, at least the current reasons offered for high prices are essentially phantoms that we can only really talk about. Senate hearings notwithstanding, I am skeptical that any speculators will be prosecuted. And how do you target the risk premium without making it worse?

One of the things I worry about is what will happen if current prices don't go away, or especially if we move towards $200 in a sustained way. The phantoms will possibly be replaced with more tangible bogeymen... maybe called "The Supply Vampires." They will be called oil export hoarders, radical green ANWAR withholders, banana republic producers (who can't be trusted to manage their own production - we could relieve them of this onerous responsibility, to benefit of all, especially their poor downtrodden citizens). That is one of the dangers of denial and dishonesty... something that good people here at TOD are actively working to reduce. What is going on here at this site is very important (as if we didn't know that already!) The stakes are high indeed.

Yeah and it's a short step from there to the Jews / Liberals etc
I have never seen any issue which confronts people's selfishness so head on as the whole energy thing. It's an absolute classic, high % of people think we must stop driving and flying so much and an equally high % refuse to do anything themselves until they have spent their last dollar.

Once again, the director of NYMEX is absent. IMO, hearings are a waste of time without him.

Opening statements from Senators.

Maria Cantwell: "Hey we outlawed energy price manipulation after ENRON. WhY isn't the CFTC sending people to jail?"

Byron Dorgan: "Enron bad. OPEC bad. Tulip bulb bubble not so bad cause tulips don't propel the economy. Oil should be cheap."

John Sunnunu: "FTC, CFTC, SEC should prosecute someone. Speculation causes inflation! "

Amy Klobuchar: "Quel horreur! My constituents can't afford to go fishing! We should have cars running on switch grass. Oil should cost $50/barrel."

David Vitter: "Speculation is part of the problem. Maybe there is something to this whole supply/demand thing?"

As noted further down the thread, ALL spot prices are higher. This would mean that speculation MUST be occurring on ALL markets globally, not just in the Center-of-the-Universe United States. The myopia shown by these Senators is mindboggling.


I would say that they are being shown shiny Travel Posters by most of their Expert Witnesses, and this is supposed to inform them as to the state of the world. Cantwell has asked point-blank if it's Supply/Demand or is it Speculation. Of course, she was hoping for brief Yes/No answers, which is a good pointer to the perception problem.. they want an Either/Or, while I think it's a Chicken and Egg. It seems that the speculation and market 'froth' that Soros has called it is simply a Function of the Supply/Demand problem.. but noone at the hearing is willing to give Supply all that much weight. (Probably because the mentality of such hearings only seeks a 'solution' that will land someone in jail, to satisfy us in our Vengeful Anger that 'justice has been done')

Now Soros just (11:45am) threw in a caveat that there are truly aging fields and developing economies that add a major Supply/Demand factor into this formula, and that the speculation issue is being overplayed..

My question to others who are watching this is 'WHO should also be at this Hearing who could provide the best Supply/Demand picture in balance with the Market factors?'


Oh, OK, Greenberger just finally tossed in his 'Supply' disclaimer as well. Nothing like waiting til the last few seconds, eh?

Am I off in suggesting that the 'spec' issue and manipulation and all other price swings are very likely 'Eggs' to the Supply/Demand 'Chicken'? I can hardly believe that such wild price movements aren't simply a reaction to the much more central Supply/Demand 'forcings' in this situation. Blaming the buyers and sellers is akin to blaming the messenger. No?


Blaming the buyers and sellers is akin to blaming the messenger. No?

You are correct. One question not asked is: How much oil must be supplied to allow for a price of $80/bbl, a price low enough IMO to allow poor countries to buy? Furthermore, what "type" of oil is being priced/supplied: All "Liquids" or Crude + Condensate, and what grade of crude?

IMO, light-sweet crude extraction would need to rise to 82Mbpd to allow the price to sink to $80. That would probably cause the All Liquids measure to reach the magical 100Mbpd level touted as necessary by IEA.

Another question not asked is: To reach the above level of supply, how much would need to be extracted to overcome the 4.5% global decline rate for light-sweet crude?

T. Boone Pickens and Matthew Simmons for starters.

Soros just debunked peak oil. He stated that it's misnomer because it implies that maximum production can peak. Sometimes, you can spend more money, and increase production. Yeah we're saved!

The witnesses they called were the ones who would confirm the conclusion that they've already reached.

That's not my interpretation at all of what he said. He did suggest the term itself might be misleading as to it actually happening now but did confirm that he thought effectively something like peak oil was happening. Unfortunately I forget to hit record.

He ended by saying we must transition to a low carbon economy.

Edit: Thanks to Carl Etnier, here's how he ended.

"So these are the facts. There is something like peak oil that is occurring.

...It does mean that the cost of energy is going to be higher. We have to bite the bullet and adjust our way of life."

- George Soros

Oil prices: George Soros warns that speculators could trigger stock market crash


Note that's stock market crash and not oil price crash. He also said during today's hearing that some quotes recently attributed to him in the press did not accurately reflect what he had said. But that's almost always true of the mainstream media.

I think it has been covered elsewhere (ref: NYT, econbrowser) , that price distortion via financial speculation using oil futures contract is not very easy and is unlikely mount to a much of the current price. Opposing views do exist and some question the price rice without taking a stand on either side). FT's blog just say it's pure speculation, nothing to do with supply/demand. It's easy to consider US senator's as demagogues, but FT journos are on the average quite astute observers of the market (unlike the CNBC bozos).

I'm not well-versed enough in derivatives market to understand if it's possible or not and if yes, to what extent. If it was possible, I'm sure the out-of-cash hedge funds and US banks are probably behind it: using more leveraged money to turn in quick profits in order to cover those margin calls coming in :)

On the other hand price manipulation due to supply changes is what OAPEC is about. However, a couple of economists offered a model suggesting that it is within the interest of oil exporting nations to keep the markets supplied as long as possible AND keep denying geological peaking of their production. That would suggest no (drastic) manipulation on part of OAPEC. Their interest is NOT get OECD countries transitioning over to alternatives (in any quantity, bad EROEI or not), until AOPEC countries have exhausted their own reserves. After this the natural decline of exports should be offset by rising prices to guarantee exporters the last long revenue stream.

No mystery here. Based on EIA data, total world net oil exports in 2007 were down by 3.3% versus the 2005 peak. As we expected, both the top five net oil exporters and total world net oil exports showed an accelerating year over year net export decline rate.

As in the movie "The Sixth Sense" (some ghosts don't know they are dead and they only see what they want to see), for most of us our old way of life is dead, but most of us see only what we want to see. The infinite growth crowd wants to see market manipulation, instead of fundamental resource constraints.

Jeffery your statement above

...for most of us our old way of life is dead, but most of us see only what we want to see.

is something I wish people could finally get their heads around. Even many TODers don't understand what this means.

Several of us have hammered away at the reality that people need to take significant action right now! Whether its your ELP or Todd's MTTB (move to the boondocks), it's important to recognize that these kinds of actions take time. It initially takes time to psychologically accept that major change is coming and personal action is necessary, then time to decide what course of action should be pursued and, finally, additional time to implement the plan.

I've noted here and on other forums that the minimum time to establish a functioning "homestead" is about seven years - assuming everything goes right. But, I think most people who have actually pursued a more self-reliant lifestyle (I prefer self-reliant to self-sufficient) will agree that things seldom go as planned.

The same kinds of problems will occur for those who take a more modest approach. As I have recommended before, find a copy of The Integral Urban House - Self-Reliant Living in the City, ISBN 0-87156-213-8.

Accepting that oil has peaked means that time is of the essence.


The thing is, like you said, that it takes time to adapt. The problem is analog to the 7 stages of griefe, we have to mourne our old lifestyle, and too many of us are stuck in denial.

I know that I'm still there. I'm taking out a loan to finish some work on the house soon (including a heat pump, but even that's useless if TS really HTF).

I've started taking the bus to work instead of driving, and I've started a (very) small vegitable garden, but it's all I can do atm, not for physical impossibility, but because I still can't really accept the full implication of peak oil taken to it's logical conclusion (in e few years time :( ).


way ahead of you, WD. But what are the other two stages that I'm missing?


I agree on both counts. And thanks to you, I've been applying EL of the ELP mantra myself for over a year now. Still missing the P part, but working on it.

However, the hard to die scientific mind within me refuses to work with single hypothesis, until all the the major outlier data have been eliminated. So academically, I'm interested in the issue of price speculation/manipulation, although for my own actions it has not that much of a significance (well perhaps a bit on the investing side).

"...for most of us our old way of life is dead, but most of us see only what we want to see..." Absolutely agree, my very intelligent wife understands PO fairly well now that I have drilled it into her but is reluctant to see what is really going to happen and start making changes. The limit of the changes is perhaps we should visit Australia and NZ again before the flights stop.

Same here. My girlfriend (and her father) understand, intellectually, what's happenning. They underdtand that our lives are very soon to take a major, ireeversable, change, and there's nothing we can do to avoid it.
But despite knowing what's coming, they cling (as I suppose I do too) to our current lives. He still loves his cars (but is keen to start experimenting with EVs), she buys useless trinkets and is planning to start investing in real estate (even though I've told here there's no point in doing so in a deflating economy). I'm taking a somewhat pragmatic approach. My debts are paid off, I'm investigating low-energy lifestyle and 'green' power production (so we can make a little bit of money from the feed-in tarrifs), and I've put my hobbies on hold, effectivly (I'm still buying materials and such, but I'm not building/painting/etc. Gotta have something to occupy the hours in the future).

I haven't done this live blogging before, and I'm afraid I underestimated how carefully I'd be taking notes and how little time that would leave for checking in here.

Let me just summarize a key exchange that took place starting at about 11:00 am:

Sen. Maria Cantwell (chairing the hearing): Do you believe current price of oil is based only on supply and demand or other things? Yes or no?

Michael Greenberger: Price is completely unmoored from supply demand. There is a supply demand factor. Exxon Mobil says $50-55, other oil executives said same range. Some believe as much as 50% premium to speculators who are operating in markets that unpoliced.

George Soros: Definitely a speculative bubble that is superimposed on fundamental trends in supply and demand. This is in the nature of markets. Markets don’t just naturally reflect fundamentals. Speculation and misconceptions also affect the fundamentals and occasionally go into self-reinforcing bubble mode. I think we’re seeing it today in the oil market.

Gerry Ramm: No.

Mark N. Cooper: $40 is physical cost, $40 is tax from cartel and oil countries, and $40 from speculation. Two thirds of price is baloney.

"I see dead lifestyles"

Westexas: As you specialize in secondary and tertiary oil recovery, I would expect you know what it costs to get that oil out of the ground. Does $40/bbl enable you to make a profit? I know it doesn't for deep sea ventures.

Why don't these idiot Senators call members of the Peak Oil Caucus as witnesses? Surely they could explain the concept/reality of falling net exports as the main driver of price?

In regard to the first question, I'm certainly not an expert on enhanced recovery projects, but they have been--and are being--widely implemented in Texas, where we have seen a long term decline rate of -4%/year.

In regard to the second question, I'll answer with a story. Years ago, one of my brother's acquaintances had his wife start divorce proceedings after only two weeks of marriage (it was something like the guy's eighth marriage). I asked my brother what in the world this guy did to the poor woman to cause her to leave after two weeks (and to cause the previous divorces). My brother responded that, "If I don't want to know the answer, I don't ask the question."

Please do not call our wonderful Senators, "idiot's. You are giving them way too much credit and insulting the real idiots. Congress needs to just go home......


Right at the end Soros was asked directly his views on Peak Oil. He replied that "something like" peak oil is occurring right now (he still hopes that increased spending can ease things, at least in the short term, so the term "Peak Oil" itself he says might be slightly misleading). Add to that global warming which he says is a serious threat we have to get used to getting by on less fossil fuels and that overshadows everything being talked about.

Speculation is really just more of a froth than a bubble on top of the current oil price he added.

Quoted from memory.

The hearing just finished, and it’s time for me to get to my next gig. George Soros is the person in the room who exhibited the greatest awareness of fundamentals of supply and demand. Here’s a rough summary of his opening testimony and comments he made later:

You are looking at sharp rise in oil and gas prices and whether it’s a bubble.

I’m not an expert in oil markets, but I have made a lifelong study of bubbles. I’ll outline my theory of bubbles, which is at odds with conventional wisdom.

According to my theory, every bubble has two components: A trend based on reality, and a misinterpretation of that reality. Financial markets are usually very good at correcting misconceptions, but occasionally they lead to bubbles, because they reinforce misconceptions. But then it’s no longer sustainable, leads to disillusion, and bubble collapses with an overshoot in the opposite direction, with a shorter bust than boom.

This theory disagrees with theory that market is always right and self-correcting.

Instruments like CDOs have been built on the prevailing theory.

Prevailing theory is wrong. Misconceptions can be self-reinforcing. Oil prices rises have some aspects of a bubble.

Over the last quarter century, we’ve seen a super bubble.

With respect to oil market, 4 major reinforcing factors:
1. Increasing cost of discovering and developing new reserves, and increasing difficulty of developing new ones. Erroneously called “peak oil.”
2. Backward sloping supply curve. As price rises, incentive is to hold on to oil that increases in value instead of converting it to depreciating currency.
3. Countries with fastest growing demand e.g. China and some others, keep domestic prices low with subsidies, so rising prices don’t affect demand.
4. Both commodity index buying and ??? have become a significant force. Recently, spot prices have risen far above marginal costs, and far-out futures have risen far above spot prices. This is characteristic of a bubble.

The first three factors are real and would exist without commodity index buying and speculation.

Index buying is based on a misconception. Commodity indexes are not a productive use of capital. When first promoted, there was a justification. Institutions could pick up returns from backwardation, and they provided capital to producers.

But the field got crowded, and that disappeared. Nonetheless, the asset class continued, because it is profitable.

I find commodity asset trading eerily reminiscent of portfolio insurance, which led to 1987 stock market crash. If institutions headed for exits, there would be a crash.

To be sure, a danger of crash in oil market is not imminent. Trend is in other direction. And could lead to recession. That makes it desirable to deflate commodity index buying while it is still inflating the bubble.

When it comes to regulation, the piece is less clear-cut. Regulations may have unintended consequences, like pushing investors in less transparent, unregulated markets.

But it may be possible to persuade institutional investors that they are acting as a herd, as in 1987.

If not, commodity index funds should be banned as an asset class, provided that the ban could be made to apply to unregulated and regulated markets.

Raising financial margins would have no effect on commodity funds, because they use cash. But it would discourage speculation, which can distort markets.

Finally, dealing with the bubble should not divert our attention from the interrelated problems of global warming, energy security, and so-called peak oil.

After hearing Mark Cooper say “40-40-40” ($40 for cost of producing oil, $40 for cartel, and $40 for speculators) too many times, Soros breaks in at 11:40 am and says

I think 40-40-40 is an exaggeration. There are serious underlying factors in the rise in price of oil. Don’t lose sight of the underlying problems.

At 11:44 am, Soros again grows tired of the emphasis on speculation and says:

It’s misleading, what we’re talking about. A speculative froth has developed in the last few months. But underlying it, it’s becoming increasingly costly to replace existing oil supply, and existing fields are aging. And there’s upward pressure (on demand) from increasing standard of living in developing world. If we go into recession, the price will go down. But when we come out of recession, the price will go up again. There’s a need to develop alternative sources of energy, and global warming, and we need to work on the underlying problems.

At 12:06 pm, in response to a question about his assertion that the term “peak oil” is misleading:

If taken literally, it means at some point that total volume of production declines. May not be the case. If you spend more money, you can increase production. But the underlying fact is that most of the existing oil fields are now aging, and rate of depletion increases as they get older. Because of the rise in demand and price, we now use various techniques to capture more oil. That has a tendency to get to a certain sharp point when suddenly the oil field runs out.

For example, Mexico has a very large oil field where the production has dropped 25% in one year.

And you have to go deeper and deeper. There’s a very large discovery in Brazil, but it’s very difficult to reach and will be difficult to exploit.

So these are the facts. There is something like peak oil that is occurring. When you add to that the very real problem of global warming, which could be fatal to our civilization, we must develop alternative sources of energy. The cheapest and most abundant alternative source of energy is coal, but that’s polluting. There are ways to take carbon out of it, but that costs money, and you don’t have a price on carbon now that would justify the cost of removing the carbon. That’s an issue that overshadows everything else…

It does mean that the cost of energy is going to be higher. We have to bite the bullet and adjust our way of life.

Thanks very much for providing this synopsis.

Thanks for that and I agree. George Soros has a clue. As for the others...

"So these are the facts. There is something like peak oil that is occurring."
- George Soros


i didn't tape/record but listened carefully & soros about here;

"If taken literally, it means at some point that total volume of production declines. May not be the case. If you spend more money, you can increase production."

caught himself -as i remember- almost say the typical economist statement of 'more $ there is always[paused & questioned himself here], more... whatever'.

your quote summarises well the overall guist.

& then he argued something like ...it'll be a lot more expensive but we are kinda of out of more supply for now, until we do more...

so i think he is still working out his investment side[economist] with the realities he sees... deep drilling etc.

he seemed really worried global warming will be the death of our civilization- that came across.

good catch, thanks.

Yes, I heard that and didn't catch it in my notes. It was interesting to hear Soros move from the phrase that economists are accustomed to using to one that he thought more accurately reflected conditions.

From the recording: "Peak oil, if taken literally, means at some point the total volume of production declines. That not be the case, because if you spend more money, you can always – ah, ah — not always but you can still increase production."

UPDATE: I may be guilty of projection here, but I understood him to mean "That may not be the case [at the moment]...", leaving unstated the assumption that the peak oil will eventually be reached. The interpretation makes sense, given the way he finished the sentence.

if soros is "a doomer" investment wise -i have read such[ i presume re US economy & global warming- what i heard that today] i think if he believed fully in peak oil , global warming would not be his primary worry/fear; particularly in this testimony. and as u say i too may be projecting onto his non-verbals[maybe he'll read u'r piece or this & tell us[own up!].

CNN just parroted the 40-40-40 baloney sound bite. Nothing more.

Yeah, Thanks Carl for the Details.

I still can't get what Soros is trying to say in his quibble with the term 'Peak Oil'.

He admits that it gets 'more expensive' to produce, which should make it fairly clear that at some point (not to far off, it would seem), the cost would predicate the limit on the oil that companies will be lifting. Why is that not a Peak? Or is he just allergic to the concept of 'Less', like everyone else in the room, as much as he seems to keep his senses right up to the edge of that particular conclusion?


"Or is he just allergic to the concept of 'Less', like everyone else in the room, as much as he seems to keep his senses right up to the edge of that particular conclusion?"

as i remember he stopped his sentence after he said the word 'always' & paused [i hope this was him caught by his use of 'ALWAYS'- this was soon after the word investment or similar.

so , yes it appears he can't quite let that 'less'; 'declining [from now on no matter the $$$ or consequences]' into his consciousness.

My take is that he is OK with the term "peak oil;" he just believes that it is being applied prematurely now. He thinks the world is not yet at peak, because production could be boosted with further investment. He seems to agree that, at some point, further investment will not raise production further. See Creg's comment just upthread and my reply.

I think he is trying to avoid being labeled as a PO believer. I think we are still considered by most as "fringe". And he is hedging, it is still possible that the actual peak could be several years away.
I'm not even convinced that we won't see a substantial price retrenchment, perhaps for a year or two, as I suspect demand destruction may be greater than currently thought. I'm hoping for somewhat of that myself (but not so much that the price signal is forgotten or ignored.

All of these economists and the speculator Soros operate on the assumption that oil is infinite and that the binge that we've been on will increase into the future, you cannot expect men like that to advise Congress in any meaningful way, other than fooling them into making stupid decisions that will divert time and energy away from the real issue of hydrocarbon depletion.

you cannot expect men like that to advise Congress in any meaningful way,...

Neither can you expect Congress to think for itself.

"The best solution to high oil prices is high prices" to cut demand, he said.

If this were slashdot, there would be a tag on this article of: "Suddenbreakoutofcommonsense"

We need more people like this! I certainly don't believe the invisible hand to be the solution to all things, but it certainly has its place. Financial reasons can be a great way to cut oil use and switch to renewables. If I install a solar and wind power generation system on my new home (which I am) and then ammortize the costs over the life of the system, I know my expenses will be less than what I currently pay for electricity, knowing full well that the price for electricity will rise!

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

High, or (hopefully not) even higher oil prices will bring the minor side effect that the whole third world will collapse economically. Same goes to those in between the third and the first world, and these are the majority. The ideology of the free market is absolutely right in that the people will adjust. What it conveniently misses is that people will adjust differently - Americans will adjust by buying Priuses and Chevy Volts while Kenyans will adjust by expiring all together.

The same ideology will inevitably lead us to a war between us and them. We can't simply plan to outbid them to get "our oil" until alternatives emerge. This path is going to get us collectively into much deeper trouble than the PO problem will directly cause.

Spot on LevinK.

This needs to considered with every call for mitigation, conservation, demand destruction.

It is little more than a way to buy more time for those who have the proper amount of wealth.

IMO alot more of us fall into the catagory of not having the proper amount of wealth than we think, or are soon to fall into that catagory and only THEN be calling foul.

Actually, I hold little optimism that a majority of Americans will be able to adjust by buying a Prius or Volt as they don't have the means to do so, just like the second, third and fourth worlders. The positive feedback on the economy driven by ever higher energy costs will drive higher unemployment and inflation causing ever more business failures, etc. Before the economy can be reconstructed to acomodate the new energy paradigm, it must be deconstructed; we are just at the beginning of this process, which has a long way to go.

Thanks you Karlof1...I am so glad that some on TOD understand the relationship between the US economy and what mitigating steps are possible, regarding energy, with various levels of economic constraints.

There is no pie in the sky. The only money the US Government has is taxes raised on citizens and businesses and what it borrows from abroad. Borrowing from abroad will become problematic as foreigners watch the stupidity level rising in the US Government and the US Fed, Treasury, et al. Foreigners will not support us unless they have confidence in us. Foreigners have access to consumer sentiment and all other non government issued (government massaged) stats. Businesses will struggle in coming years to simply keep their doors open. Some biz, related to proven, practical, improvements in cutting imports of foreign FFs will fair better than others. A capitalist economy is supposed to direct capital to where it can do the most good. Is a bail out of a banking system that caused the train wreck the best use of capital? If the Fed will get the hell out of the way and let the system cleanse itself...the system will do what it does naturally. The Fed has done far more harm than good from the time Greenspan took over until today.

The Fed has done far more harm than good from the time Greenspan took over until today.

Why not just say
The Fed has done far more harm than good since 1913. and make it complete?

Because it would be difficult to defend. Recessions under the Fed have been fewer and briefer than before the Fed.

Recessions under the Fed have been fewer and briefer than before the Fed.

I guess you're excluding the Great Depression. You must also be excluding the "jobless recovery" since the 2001 recession. During that putative recovery, economic growth has been positive in only one quarter (3Q04), when inflation is calculated by the same algorithm used to calculate inflation prior to 1990. Without getting into whether current or past inflation calculations are better or worse, I think it is still worthwhile to compare apples to apples. And to do that you need to use the same algorithms to figure inflation.

I would also note that preventing recessions is not the only thing in the Fed charter. They are also supposed to be looking at price & dollar stability, and under the Fed, the dollar has declined 95% or so after remaining pretty stable for the century+ before the Fed. The Fed has demonstrably been a miserable failure at doing the things it was (putatively) created to do.

Before 1913 recessions were called Panics. Look 'em up. They were killers for the working class, and happened often. One really bad one happened 3 years before the Civil War. It was a good time to be a robber baron or a Communist organizer. Anyone who thinks that's what we should return to will get what they deserve.

The Fed was established by the very same robber baron families that deliberately caused the 1907 panic. Tell me again how the Fed accomplishes anything positive other than robbing us all, year after year, by debasing the currency they promised to defend and stabilize?

Funny thing, before the Fed came about, those same robber barons were accused of malfeasance for RESISTING all attempts to debase the dollar (google for the "Cross of Gold" speech.)

How about Paul Volker?

Samsara...I appreciate the suggestion but I was attempting to avoid opening the can of worms that someone else subsequently opened. :)

No harm done.

Hi River, Thanks for the reply. I also see ability to borrow overseas savings being rapidly constrained. Like the UK after the two wars and Russia after the USSR's collapse, the USA will become a huge Pawn Shop, with its remaining viable capital assets being bought at fire sale prices.

When the Overseas Empire becomes an Anchor causing the Ship of State to sink, you cut the Anchor loose. Every previous Empire learned this lesson the Hard Way; I expect the US Empuire will be no different, as we see abundant evidence of this being true.

Give the Swedes credit; they quit while they were still slightly ahead. They were the terror of Europe before they invaded Peter the Great's Russia in the Great Northern War and got hammered. They had ruled what are now Scandinavia, Finland, the Baltic States and Poland. Afterwards the dismantling began, but I think they didn't lose Norway until Napoleon's time, so it was not a sudden collapse.

June 7, 1905 is Norwegian Independence Day.

*SO* much oil lost for Sweden.


Technically, but syttende mai - 5/17, Constitution Day - is the big celebration day both there and over here.

Actually, IMO, the winners at the Empire Game were the Mongols.

Heh. I'm so tired of random people coming to tell me what a great man Chingis Khaan was. It really happens a lot here in Ulaanbaatar. There was even a magazine article that seriously claimed that academic research had shown that Chingis had an IQ of at least 217, and that he was probably the most intelligent man ever to have lived. Well, I suppose since the country is not exactly happy now, that's something to cling to.

Just an example: the airport in Ulaanbaatar was recently renamed Chingis Khaan International Airport!

I never said he was a "great man." Hell, they renamed the main airpoort if DC after Reagan, a very inferior mind/intellect. If I had continued my analysis, I would have said the Mongol lineage lives on in China, not Mongolia.

Norway went to Sweeden after the Napoleon wars ..

Norway was in a union alliance with Denmark for some 400 years until the later part of the Napoleon wars. Denmark-Norway was neutral during the wars, but was forced to pick side by the British, but Denmark-Norway didn’t comply, which in turn made Nelson fed up and resulted in a big loss under the Brits in the Copenhagen battle ( lasting only 3 days or so)
Nelson confiscated almost the entire DAN-NOR trading- and war fleet as a trophy – 100 big ships made up from some 100 000 logs of oak ……
In the Treaty of Kiel, after the Napoleon wars, Norway was seeded to Sweden (under conditions agreed upon from the Norwegian side) ……
The Danish state went bankrupt due to the losses of both Norway and the ships. At the time of this transition “we” the Norwegians forgot to bring with us Greenland and Iceland into the Swedish Union, which had been with us since the time of the Vikings …

Nelson also burned the forests of Denmark to keep them from building new ships. So the King of Denmark founded the Royal Danish Forestry Service. 15 or so years ago, the head of the Forestry Service sent a letter to the Queen and the Royal Navy, saying that the trees were now ready.

BTW, The Icelanders were VERY pleased to stay with Denmark and get away from Norway. Now, if only the Danes would return all the sagas they took ...

Best Hopes for Norwegian, and Icelandic, Independence,


Interesting .... saying that the trees were now ready ? For building new ships :-)

Actally I reckon most of them 100 000 oaks were of Norwegian origin b/c Denmark have beed "almost three free" for centuries now .. (just my guess though)

How come the Iclanders were more pleased with the Danes ? B/c the da facto Norwegian rulings over Iceland ended at the doorsteps of the Kalmarunionen (1397–1523) ..... thus Iceland was governed from Copenhagen ever since - until 1944 (independency). Most of the Icelenders are actually descendants from western parts of Norway

Maybe their collective genetic memory is strong ......... going all the way back to the times of the barbarians ) :_)

I told this story about the Danish Forest Service (it was a bit of a bureaucratic joke) by the Asst Head of the Icelandic Forest Service, Þröstur Eysteinsson as we were enjoying drinks in Snorri Sturluson's 900 year old laugar (hot tub) in Reykholt (Snorri wrote the history of Norwegian kings).

The Icelanders have a LONG memory, and are still not fond of Norwegians, they like Danes much better.

And only the men came from Norway, according to deCode, 80% of the women came from Celtic countries. Thus, the Icelanders claim, they are more musical.

Best Hopes for Icelandic history,


If the Fed will get the hell out of the way and let the system cleanse itself...the system will do what it does naturally.

Oh, right. Look upthread to LevinK's observation about what the 'system does naturally'. Hint.... it includes the 4 horsemen.

How clever of you to observe that 'congress cannot be depended on to think for itself' at the same time that you think that the Federal Reserve is doing such a wonderful job of managing our economy.

At least we had an opportunity to vote for the worthless congress now sitting, did anyone ask your opinion of the appointed Fed Governors?

If the Fed would adhere to their mandate we would not be involved in the current train wreck...obviously, they don't give a hoot about their mandate.

What proceedure would you recommend for dealing with CEOs that are not doing their jobs? Fire them? With the Fed Impeachment is what comes to my mind.

You are about to witness a deflationary resession the likes of which no one has ever seen for their has never been a credit leverage wind like the one that exists now. The Fed allowed the current situation to develop and did nothing until the bubble in housing began to deflate. Tell me again in two years how great the Fed is...if you can still afford electricity and an esp.

By collusion between the Fed, Wall St, and Congress, the banking laws that were instituted after the great depression were repealed. It took less than 10 years to undo the Glass-Steagell Act and the results are now obvious to anyone with a pulse. Here is what a conservative Minn banker had to say back in 2001...

'CONNECT: The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999?

GAULT: It undid much of the Glass-Steagell Act of 1933, and allows bank involvement in insurance and securities. Bankers are supposed to be conservative, but with this I feel very much like a liberal. I have been very much opposed to banks entering other industries because there is the potential for banks to acquire too much control. We’re seeing that with the news media. For instance, Dow Jones, which owns The Wall Street Journal, also owns a nearby local newspaper. And we’ve seen evidence of too much power in Washington recently, where political power has been abused.

Banks have a large degree of power now — and it’s almost unleashed. As I view it, the real danger with banking lies in the industry having consolidated down to about 15 banks nationwide. That scares me. Out-of-state bankers have too much power over farmers in Minnesota. An abuse of power may not have happened yet, but the potential certainly exists.'


Yes, the potential certainly did exist and now the train wreck exists!
The bottom line is that the Fed is worse than the robber barons that proceeded them IF the Fed fails to stick to its mandate. When the Fed begins asset targeting, repealing laws that have stood the test of time and propping up failed banks with toxic waste on their books then the Fed is not adhereing to its mandate.

Well, you apparently don't get it either. We're going to lose a large number of people in my opinion, simply due to overshoot coupled with habitat destruction (including our own). Some people are NOT getting through the bottleneck and the problem now is to start triage to decide who gets through.

That's an ugly thing, isn't it? Even the voices here on TOD don't want to face that so nothing useful will occur and the holocaust may be larger than needed just because of that reluctance to act.

Even *IF* you are right, which is of greater value, preserving morality or the greatest possible # of people ?


I'm guessing that the quantity of either value preserved will be a serious disappointment to you. Sorry.

Trying to preserve the greatest number may well result in the smallest number actually surviving. Where's the morality in that? Oh yeah, short term "feel good" morality.

Like I said, even posters here at TOD refuse to consider this problem meaning it will be far worse than otherwise.

Triage. Where is Garret Hardin when we need him.


What are the actions of the "reluctance to act" that might - (or you say definitely, would?) - result in something "useful" and a "smaller" not "larger" holocaust.

Who decides, who chooses? Of what do the choices specifically consist?

Implied in your post is that high oil prices will lead to lower oil prices due to expanded supply of either oil or real alternatives. But therein lies the dilemma. If we let the market bring the prices back down, the world will continue consumption as usual. We need a tax regime that keeps those prices up so that people like you will be confident that they have made the right choice by doing things like installing solar.

Nothing,however, will be done to keep those prices up. If, however, we are at or close to peak oil, then prices will be kept up without a drastic cut in demand. This may be fine as far as it goes but we will continue to hand a substantial chunk of our national income to exporters in the ME and elsewhere.

The great fear of those who are trying to pass the latest anti global warming bill is that people will balk if it is perceived to raise energy prices. Yesterday,they made great pains to say that it would have a minimal impact on gas prices (2 cents per year) but then prices would come back down if we fully implemented alternatives. Message: We can deal with global warming but me must guarantee cheap energy forever simultaneously.

It's all about the money. People support green initiatives as long as it doesn't affect the green in their wallet.

My intent was that people would move to either conservation or alternatives. The price shouldn't fall back much, and I don't want it to, either. Prices can only fall so far when high prices are a result of supply/demand dynamics and not a result of manipulation of price due to other reasons. (Lack of alternatives, political reasons, etc.)

British Airways ready to ground flights as oil crisis bites

British Airways is ready to ground flights in an attempt to deal with the soaring cost of oil.

Willie Walsh, the airline's chief executive, said that British Airways will examine flights on a "route by route basis".

Speaking at the summit of the International Air Transport Association, Mr Walsh made clear that BA is prepared to follow the example of Qantas and mothball aircraft if necessary.


Argentine alert as inflation spectre stalks half the world

Argentina is defaulting on its sovereign debt yet again, this time by stealth. Wealthier Portensos with a nose for trouble are pulling their savings out of Buenos Aires banks. Most are buying dollars, or slipping across the Rio de la Plata to deposit their stash in Uruguay.
European and US pension funds that snapped up Argentina's peso bonds at the height of the credit bubble are discovering that it pays to probe the politics of Latin America - and indeed, Eastern Europe, and emerging Asia - before taking the plunge.


The Bank of England must be brave and raise interest rates

Central banks can, given time and a bit of luck, stabilise the cost of living. They cannot do anything to help maintain living standards - real incomes - in the face of adverse real shocks.


US staring at double-dip recession as calls for higher interest rates grow

By slashing interest rates in the face of rising price pressures, has the world's most important central bank sowed the seeds of a new inflationary era? It's an alarming idea, but one gaining currency all the time.


After a pause, gas prices set new mark

With the 26th record high in 27 days, AAA says the national average pump price is 2.2 cents shy of $4 a gallon.


GM to close 4 truck plants

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- General Motors announced plans Tuesday to shut four pickup and SUV plants, saying high fuel prices have produced a rapid and permanent change in consumer preferences away from the truck models on which it has depended.

At a news conference in Wilmington, Del., GM Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner also unveiled plans to produce more fuel efficient vehicles


Fat pensions spell doom for many cities

The jig is up. For years, politicians have been playing what amounts to a multi-trillion-dollar shell game with state and local pensions. They've doled out lush retiree benefits to their heavily unionized workforces, knowing that they could shove the cost for those benefits onto future generations of taxpayers.

But a recent financial bombshell dropped by a San Francisco suburb shows why that shell game is now starting to unravel in a nasty way. And it's a cautionary tale that you can't afford to ignore.

Here's the skinny: In late May, Vallejo, Calif., became the largest city in California history to declare bankruptcy.


Crude Oil Falls After Storm Misses Mexico Field, Investors Sell

Crude oil fell after a tropical storm missed Mexico's biggest oilfield and investors reduced holdings of the commodity.


Geothermal Electricity Booming in Germany

lectricity from geothermal sources is set to soar in Germany -- and all thanks to a law that has made drilling wells deep enough to hit the hot temperature water, which is needed to produce electricity, financially viable.
Less than 0.4 percent of Germany's total primary energy supply came from geothermal sources in 2004. But after a renewable energy law that introduced a tariff scheme of EU €0.15 [US $0.23] per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for electricity produced from geothermal sources came into effect that year, a construction boom was sparked and the new power plants are now starting to come online.


Microgeneration could rival nuclear power, report shows

British buildings equipped with solar, wind and other micro power equipment could generate as much electricity in a year as five nuclear power stations, a government-backed industry report showed today.


Government backflip on solar panel policy

Householders will be able to make money by fitting solar panels or mini wind turbines to their roofs, under proposals to be announced in the Budget next week.


The Self-Limiting Future of Nuclear Power

Nuclear power generates approximately 20 percent of all U.S. electricity. And because it is a low-carbon source of around-the-clock power, it has received renewed interest as concern grows over the effect of greenhouse gas emissions on our climate.
Yet nuclear power’s own myriad limitations will constrain its growth, especially in the near term.


Great posts, thanks.

On the airline industry.

It's sad and funny at the same time.

There is overcapacity in the industry. Tickets are already too cheap, airlines going bankrupt all over the world and fuel prices still rising.

How do the airlines respond?

Wouldn't the obvious move be to raise prices?


They death spiral together until the lowest flying ones crash and remove the over-capacity. Until then, they all bleed and blame each other.

So much for rising fuel prices cutting into the mad flying we've now grown accustomed to.

I should mention that in the same news conference the GM exec said that oil prices will stay high - they have finally realised!

What happens with airlines is exactly what economic theory predicts. In a competitive market they can't just raise prices by the amount of their raised costs, because there are all those competitors who are positioned to undercut them. Basically the market is putting upper floor on how much they can pass it on consumers.

First they will try to economize, then they will cut service. In the end the weakest players will go out of business or be bought on the cheap. This will reduce competition and make them more capable to raise prices and pass it on us. So don't worry we'll get our fare hikes. It will just take time...

In a competitive market they can't just raise prices by the amount of their raised costs, because there are all those competitors who are positioned to undercut them.

I imagine the same can be said about refineries.

True, and that's why refining margins have been suffering lately.

Having said that the airline business is much more fragmented. Fuel represents 20-30% of the airlines costs, which leaves 70-80% on which they can try to save on. While crude + taxes take ~95% of the refined product costs, so this gives little option to refiners when crude rises but to raise prices collectively. There is simply no room to economize in a refinery. But even there some refiners are positioned with long term oil contracts or get discounted oil as a part of integrated oil companies, so refiners also get their share of competition induced pain.

GM to close 4 factories, may drop Hummer: Automaker to curtail truck, SUV production amid soaring fuel prices

In other news, GM has announced that it will be closing the barn door now that the horse has left.

Will all of the big three survive peak oil? Maybe, maybe not. I'm still waiting for the news article showing off the 40 mpg sexy roadster from one of them. Somehow I don't think that this is the right way to go about it.

At the weekend Prof. Goose posted several videos, one by Dr. Hirsh gave some succinct information on peak oil, see here.

However, people coming to TOD and learning about peak oil for the first time may think the situation is less bad than actual since Dr Hirsch shows typical oil fields peaking at around 50% of Ultimately Recoverable Resources, (URR) more information here..

In his optimistic predictions Dr Hirsch mostly only considers peaking of crude oil, but these production curves generally also apply to any resource that is consumed faster than it is created – current examples would be … sea fish, oil, natural gas, coal, indium, lead, credit, fossil fresh water, PHOSPHATES etc.

In reality, since the 1980s oil companies have used Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) techniques to boost flow rates from many wells – EOR can result in a ‘shark fin’ shaped curve with a peak at substantially more than 50% of URR (instead of the 50% obtained using earlier techniques.) more information here.

Since I am British I will use the UK as an example (there are others!)

according to UK Government expectations the North Sea field peaked at around 75% of URR!

More information here.

If you look at published data for individual wells or countries you can see this effect, so we should expect world peaking to be similar – the steep decline rate that Matt Simmons and others expect because of this has severe implications for ‘net importers’ of oil. It isn’t speed that kills you in a car crash, it’s the sudden stop! – and the same is true for oil.

If you live in an oil importing country Peak ‘Net Exports’ of Oil is the problem, not Peak Oil itself. For more graphical information see here

"EOR can result in a ‘shark fin’ shaped curve with a peak at substantially more than 50% of URR (instead of the 50% obtained using earlier techniques.)"

your example may apply to some fields, but this is not in any way general.
EOR (meaning Enhanced Oil Recovery), applied in a conventional sense is designed to increase urr, so when you say 50% of urr, which urr are you refering to (before or after eor)?

i suppose that you could argue that enhanced recovery means recovery at an "enhanced" rate, but this is not what the term is intended to mean, imo.
what you seem to be refering to would be aor (accelerated oil recovery).

i was around when it was primary(depletion), secondary(waterflood) and tertiary(more exotic) oil recovery. the term enhanced oil recovery became popular in the '80's.

I know that EOR is designed to increase URR but I'm not sure how you could prove that the URR is actually increased and that the oil wouldn't have come out of the ground eventually if EOR isn't used, it certainly accelerates production to some extent which is especially vital in expensive offshore production.

My point is that peaking at >50% URR (whether due to EOR or not) certainly applies to the UK North Sea over a large number of wells and also has a steep decline rate post peak - you might care to check out Canterelle as well for another example.

It is not wise to assume that at 'world peak' we are just half way through the oil that can be profitably produced.

"It is not wise to assume that at 'world peak' we are just half way through the oil that can be profitably produced."

i dont disagree.

as far as proving eor works, i dont know that it can be proven. within the context of the older nomenclature - primary, seconday and tertiary, it was not dificult because each process was applied at or near the economic limit. and for that matter, it cannot be proven that waterflood works*.

the only reason we think eor (in whatever form) works is by analogy with similar fields. reservoir numerical simulation can help.

i believe the 50% example is based on texas or the lower 48. these provinces are fine examples of the primary, seconday and tertiary model.
offshore production is more like discovery, developement and eor. and i dont see why this couldn't produce a peak at > 50% recovery.

* i know of too many examples where it didnt.

From the article by Tony Blair:"Round the planet, people are developing exciting technologies, changing their behavior and agitating for action so that responsibility on the environment will come in a way that is consistent with necessary economic growth."

That's where I stopped reading..:-(

What does it mean 'necessary economic growth'? Who is it necessary for? What happens if we discover that economic growth exactly correlates with expansion of the energy supply and that goes into reverse?

How do we repay massive amounts of debt in a decreasing NET energy world if exapnsion and energy supply ARE linked? What happens to the supply of money (debt)?

Ho hum, stick around a couple of decades and find out for yourself...


"What happens if we discover that economic growth exactly correlates with expansion of the energy supply and that goes into reverse?"

We already know that economic growth doesn't exactly correlate with economic growth. There's lots of energy wasted because it's been cheap and people expect it to become cheap again. Economic growth will necessarily be more difficult with flat and declining (fossil) energy supply, but not necessarily impossible.

Mark Folsom

Yes, it is more difficult to win the Indy 500 by getting out and pushing your dead car, but not necessarily impossible.

The guy is just about fit to be a country-town lawyer. Why do they give him this prominence in domains that are well beyond his limited area of competence?

The Times has an article about how even the wealthy are being forced to cut back. Only they can't let it show, so they are doing it odd and secretive ways. Selling things they think their friends won't notice. Scheduling appointments with personal trainers at times they know are already taken. Looking at luxurious homes, then claiming it's not to their taste. Taking out loans to buy expensive art...then using the money for other expenses.

It’s Not So Easy Being Less Rich

“Even if they’re not in danger of not paying their mortgage, there’s still a psychological change,” said Chris Del Gatto, chief executive of Circa, which has watched its business jump by 50 percent in the last year as wealthy clients sell their spare diamonds and Rolexes. “The economy is an issue even for people who don’t need the money.”

THEIR spouses could leave them when they discover that their net worth has collapsed to eight figures from nine. Friends and business associates could avoid them as they pass their lunchtime tables at Barney’s or the Four Seasons. And these snubs could trickle down to their children.

“They fear their kids won’t get invited to the right birthday parties,” said Michele Kleier, an Upper East Side-based real estate broker. “If they have to give up things that are invisible, they’re O.K. as long as they don’t have give up things visible to the outside world.”

I've previously described the story in "D" Magazine ("D" as in Dallas), from a few months ago.

Husband, the author of the article, said that they "needed" a bigger SUV, because of arrival of second child. The truth was that they had the smallest SUV in their peer group. Husband suggested new Buick SUV, plenty large and half the price of full size Lexus SUV's. Wife replied that she could not drive a Buick. Husband responded that Ross Perot drives Ford Crown Victoria. Wife responds, "Ross Perot can drive whatever he wants to, he's a billionaire!" So, there it was, they were not rich enough to drive a Buick, because people would whisper that they were having to cut back--so they bought the $80,000 full size Lexus.

I detect a common element in many many of these stories.

Wives are a problem! Peak wives, anyone?

Well, in order to be gender neutral, I have referred to SNS--Spousal Nesting Syndrome--which refers to the desire to hold on to a large debt financed McNest. Of course, in our particular case, I am not the the spouse that wants the big nest.

And regarding SUV's/Pickups, note that the argument over the SUV in the referenced story was not size, but cost.

Translation: SNS is apparently caused by the spouse's fear that people will have the perception that the partner is not up to snuff in the size department. Whether we are talking about cost or size, we are still talking about size. Or did I miss your point?

It's not the size of the wand; it's the skill of the magician.


I think Paul Daniels proves your point. Unfortunately.

It's not the size of the wand; it's the skill of the magician.

This quote coming from someone using a small animal as a handle is not suprising.

Aw, like I'm kidding myself...

WT...Here is one at your back door...

'Meanwhile the US’ deregulated crony capitalist crack up boom economy continues to suffer from “unexplained” prices surges on numerous fronts. This one might be hard for most to understand, but regular Winter Watch readers should be able to put two and two together. Someone big is putting electricity into their trading account in lieu of 2% T-bills and CDs. Various utilities around the US are seeking and getting double digit rate increases.

WSJ: Wholesale power prices in Texas have surged to new heights, confounding market officials and worrying regulators who see early signs that the situation could destabilize the state’s deregulated electricity markets. The spikes in wholesale power prices — ominous and so far unexplained – could take a big toll on both power providers and electricity customers if they persist. The state’s utility commission held an emergency meeting Thursday, “which shows the level of concern,” said commission spokesman Terry Hadley.

Of course Texas is one of those locales where if the mainstream media is to be believed, the economy is strong. One of my litmus tests of o que aconteceu economic conditions are local and state budgets, and once again we see the familiar pattern, even in Texas.

FORT WORTH — The city will eliminate hundreds of positions as it copes with a budget shortfall and a slowdown in tax revenue, City Manager Dale Fisseler said in a letter to employees.'


This is just an offhand comment, certainly with no relation to your better half, but I was just idly thinking about the scene in The Day After, that 1983 TV movie about nuclear war, when the missiles are already sailing through the sky. The farmer's wife is in the bedroom making the bed and straightening the sheets, refusing to leave.

The husband has to pull her into the cellar kicking and screaming.

If we could just harness that energy which fuels denial, we'd be saved.

I'm noticing this happening more & more and I have to say that this IS a gender neutral phenomena.

An awful lot of my acquantainces are more and more telling me how they are worth close to - or even over - $1million (at least on paper anyway). My friends just tell me that times are tough.

I think that Alexis de Toucqeville (?spelling?) probably had the answer nearly 200 years ago: that the big indicator of social status in the young U.S.A. was the appearance of wealth. (Heck there was no aristocracy, so what else could one use?)

Alexis de Toqueville also said that 'the US system will work until the politicians discover that they can buy the votes of the citizens'. (paraphrase) That sounds like a simple observation but is more profound than it seems at first glance.

"so they bought the $80,000 full size Lexus."

what we have here is a case where the wife wears the pants.

I will laugh when their Lexus is reposessed.

These kind of people will need to hire security details to protect them from the formal middle class that will be inspired to smash their Lexus with whatever they can find when it passes by. People love to destroy what they can't have. (Not that I blame them.)

How can it be "reposessed" if they have "bought" it?


Do you really think they paid cash for it. More likely they bought it on credit. Just like their house and probably everything else they "own".

What happens when you don't pay your exorcist? You get repossessed. :)

This is why I absolutely will not leave the North. Here in Yankee Boston I was able to ride a bike to a job interview and have it mark me as frugal and not loser. In Texas, frugality appears to be a real liability for ambitious job seekers.

Also not an issue in New Orleans (if you bike in the months October-March/April).

The number of suits bicycling in my neighborhood is dropping now as heat and humidity increases. Streetcar is the acceptable option.

Best Hopes for Biking to Work,


A couple of weeks ago in a post I said that I had not yet seen ANY ordinary 45+ people riding bikes in my town - just kids and the spandex-clad twenty- & thirty-somethings. That has now changed. I am now starting to see older people (and I mean even 70+ year olds) riding bikes in my town. I also continue seeing more scooters too, ridden by all ages, even 70+ folks.

As far as I know, I may still be just about the only person in town walking to work so far. I am starting to get noticed and commented upon - all positive so far.

Some thing happening in the KC Metro and outlying suburbs areas. More walking, biking, scooters and such. And many more people biking, not for excercise, but for a trip to the store or what not. Also saw my first Prius Yellow Cab in the KC Metro. Probably commonplace in the big, big cities, but here in KC, it was unusual. Looked pretty nice decked out in yellow and black.

There are certainly regional factors as to what is considerd *cool*. For example, today there was a guy selling electric bicycles in the lobby of our building (oil company downtown Calgary).

Maybe a sign of peak oil awareness or just environmental PR. Anyway, it is considered *ok* to ride a bike in this town.

Bluster and Buster..

Texan: Tell you Boy, I can drive my truck all day long, and never hit the end of my property!

Mainer: Oh yah, I had a truck like that once, too.

This is the upper middle class in action. Image obsessed and highly leveraged. These are not the true rich.
Ross Perot drives his Ford because he doesn't give a damn about expressing himself through trifling objects like cars or the like. A family member drives a 8 year old Merc base E class but earns $8m+ annually, another a Citroen MPV and is worth $100m+ - truly rich people do not care.
The upper middle class will be cutting back drastically as the costs escalate but they won't go down unless they have borrowed insanely.

In my family as well, there is an inverse relationship between wealth and value of car driven. I have the nicest car and the least wealth (because I'm a car guy, not a show-off). My rich relatives all drive POS's.

Which is the cause and which is the effect? For some people, who just gotta have a fancy car to show off, wasting that kind of money on cars prevents them from accumulating wealth. I'm not saying this is the case in your family, but I bet there are a lot of people who could have been pretty well off, if only they had been thrifty instead of spendthrift.

It's not just Perot. The billionaire by the name of Bass (if my memory recall is working) - the guy who funded the Biosphere II experiment - used to (and may still) drive an economy car and looked like the average guy off the street (from what I read).

I also read that Howard Hughes had to borrow dimes from his assistant, Noah Dietrich, in order to use pay-toilets (before he developed that aversion to shared facilities).

It's not a bad idea from a security standpoint to travel in a crappy car. Maybe why Muammar Quadafy used to own a customized VW Beetle. I've seen Howard Hughes' frumpy Dodge sedan in Las Vegas. Its entire trunk is filled by a sophisticated air filtration system.

There was a recent series of interviews with Warren Buffett and his three children. Really down to earth people. Apparently, Warren's idea of a good time is to treat everyone in the family to Saturday night at the movies - they go to the local cinema, IIRC.

And money doesn't seem to have destroyed Bill Gates either - he's still the same geek as he was thirty years ago.

Both these guys control their money rather than it controlling them. We need more people like that.

Bill Gates has built an obscenely large house, though. And it would have been even bigger, except his wife put her foot down.

Warren Buffet, OTOH, still lives in the same 5-bedroom house in Omaha that he bought in 1958 for $31,500. It's worth a lot more now, of course, but is nothing like the Gates' 50,000 square foot mansion.

Buffett also has a pad in California that at last estimate was worth $3.5 mill.

That's a relatively modest house in many parts of California. (Which is one reason "drive till you qualify" was so common.)

Definitely chump change compared to the $147.5 million Gates' mansion has been assessed at.

IIRC, Bill wanted a house filled with the latest Microsoft toys to demonstrate the wonderful world of technology.

But his wife wanted a home instead of a company showroom. He's lucky to have married someone like her.

He also wanted a house with a kidnapper-proof perimeter, and for him and his kids, that is eminently justifiable.

But it's true that he is not a glutton, nor a show-off.

That's so sad. It turns out the middle class is more prone to the "status symbol" desease than the ultra-rich.

To the credit of the USA, this is one of the things I like most about this country - nobody cares much what kind of car you drive or house you live in. In my home country it is common that you must have the latest cell phone model (costing usually a wage or two out there... imagine paying say 5K for a cell phone!), even if you can hardly pay your rent. It's sad to see this mentality has certain roots here too.

Hello Ptoemmes,

At least his megayacht is sail-powered. I expect this sailboat to be quite profitable postPeak hauling goods like the old Clipperships.

Families are forced to take on a lot of debt to buy stuff they can't afford to prove to the neighbors they can afford a lot of stuff.

Sort of a reverse potlach.

Except the fire comes when you hire an arsonist for the insurance money.

"Affluenza", I think it is called.

You mean these people aren't loved for their personalities and character?

Thanks, tstreet, for what I consider the sanest comment on this thread.

Some TOD readers will likely be familiar with Paul Fussell's sharp wit and clever examination of US middle class pretensions and dispositions in his *Class*. He makes the wonderful comparison of the ultra-rich and ultra-poor - you never see them and neither cares what you think of them.

Yesterday I noticed that Upstream Crude had Indonesian Minas up $10.60. I assumed this was an error similar to the one we saw in Oman Crude a couple of weeks ago. However today they have it up another 57 cents to $130.63 a barrel. This is still confusing because they have not updated the previous days close to the correct figure so I guess we will have to wait until tomorrow to see if this is the correct figure or a reporting error of some kind.

All that being said, I did some figuring with oil prices three years ago comparing them with those of today. I found that every other crude had gained, percentage wise, on WTI.

For instance, three years ago, Brent Blend sold at a 7.45 percent discount to WTI. Today it is selling at a .73 percent discount. Three years ago Malaysian Tapis sold at a .83 percent discount to WTI. Today it is selling at a 5.1 percent premium to WTI. Dubai Crude sold at a 10.77 percent discount to WTI while today it sells at a 5.05 percent discount. Oman Crude has gone from an 8.24 percent discount to a 3.8 percent discount to WTI. Likewise with all the rest, even Alaska North Slope and Louisiana Sweet, they all have gained on WTI.

So basically WTI is not pulling the world oil price higher. It is, if anything, a drag on world oil prices. Supply and demand are pulling all oil prices higher while the NYMEX auction market is holding WTI back slightly when compared to all other spot prices.

Ron Patterson

Inventory at Cushing has been building, while inventory on the Gulf Coast and elsewhere has been falling sharply. (My feeling is that the closing of refineries that use Cushing supply has been deliberate. Saudi prices for the U.S. are set by WTI.)

More important, speculators (who look at charts, not fundamentals) are locked into this mindset that the whole thing's a bubble. The near months all moved into full-out contango today. Commercials simply won't sell at this price. Essentially they're paying a premium to speculators to get them to short.

Open interest dropped by 23,490 contracts yesterday. If you've been following the weekly Commitment of Traders reports (http://www.cftc.gov/dea/futures/deanymesf.htm), commercials have been steadily closing out shorts while speculators have been steadily closing out longs.

All this is a long way of saying that you're right, and that speculators are currently suppressing prices.

Interesting One Year Snapshot:

Here is what we have seen for the week ending 5/23, versus one year ago (weekly, except for Refinery Utilization, which is four week running average):

Net Oil Exports: As Datamunger noted, an accelerating net export decline rate in 2007, with a total decline of 3.3% from 2005

Crude Oil Prices: $130 (WTI), versus $65 one year ago

Refinery Utilization: 87%, versus 90% one year ago

Product Prices (Gasoline, Gulf Coast Wholesale): $3.22 per gallon, versus $2.31 one year ago

Total Product Inventories: 657 mb, versus 661 mb one year ago

This is consistent with what I expected (in 9/07) to see in response to declining net oil exports:


Hmmm, some more interesting numbers. Total world net oil exports in 2005 about 46.3 mbpd. The shortfall between what exporters would have exported at the 2005 rate and what the EIA shows was 184 mb in 2006. It tripled in 2007 to 551 mb, for a two year shortfall of 735 mb. IMO, one does not have to search further for an explanation for rising oil prices.

speculators are currently suppressing prices

Too bad you aren't testifying at the Senate Hearing noted upthread.

That privelege is reserved for Papa Soros.

Moe_Gamble -

Now I am really confused!

The ovewhelming concensus here at TOD is that the actions of speculators did not and cannot cause a sharp run-up in oil prices. Some very persuasive arguments were put forth, I think some by you yourself. Now here comes George Soros, a man known to be right far more often than he is wrong, saying just the opposite, i.e., that speculators ARE a cause. One of you must be wrong.

Not having a firm grasp of the way the commodity markets work, I don't feel I'm in a position to decide the question on my own. I am very interested in seeing what the upshot of these hearings will be, assuming one can wade through all the political posturing and general BS. My totally subjective gut feel is starting to tell me that while speculators cannot actually control the market, they might in some way be able to put their thumb on the scale just a little bit here and there and thus nibble away at the margins.

Soros is claiming that speculation is only a small part of the price increase. He used the term "frothy". It seemed to me that he placed more emphasis on the fundamentals: aging oil fields, increased production costs, increased demand etc. The first thing Soros said was that he was not an expert in energy.

For my money, Rick Santelli has had the best read on the influence of speculators on oil prices. This CNBC video is a hoot:

Look at the other pundits struggling to wrap their heads around what he's saying...

I think there may be something to the speculation argument, but it goes along this analogy:

I'm a drug dealer. I sell you heroin for $3/kg. You buy it every week. One week, I decide to try to charge $4/kg. Lo and behold, you still buy it. I have just taken a speculative risk and it paid off. Now, I'd like to keep trying this, but I'm not keen on taking the risk all myself. So, I set up a futures market and let anyone bid on my heroin. Even non-heroin users can buy and sell futures. They do so in droves and the front month contract is driven up in price to $8/kg. Come the expiration date, these speculators don't want to take delivery (and risk jail), so they have to vacate their contract positions. The spot price is at $8 and they have to sell. Lo and behold, the heroin addict STILL pays the price, and the speculators made money. They could have lost a lot of money if the addicts had said "no way, I'm not paying $8, I'm gonna try some coke instead". Now, the heroin gets consumed, there is no hoarding, but now the going price of heroin has doubled virtually overnight with seemingly no dramatic change in supply/demand.

Now, the explanation - the futures market, and as we now have, a far more liquid futures market - has essentially done a better job of finding the real price of oil. Suppliers and users did not do a good job of finding the real equilibrium price point of oil, and thus, it was a distorted price (too low). Suppliers weren't willing to risk losing money by raising prices. Speculators have come in and taken on the risk. In the last 3-4 years, you can see this dynamic if you look at the price of oil along with the volume of futures trading - it has exploded. It is not a "bubble", because there is no mechanism to flood the market with excess oil, but it is the speculation, the investment money, that has helped the oil market find it's correct price.

Now, imagine if they opened ETF's for gasoline, the finished product (if there is one, I'm not aware of it). The price of gas would rise dramatically as well, IMO, because I think we have right now a similarly distorted gas price (too low), and suppliers that aren't willing to risk unilaterally raising their prices. Instead, they reduce their utilization rate and we risk shortages of gas.

speek, I think that's a fair analogy. It makes us examine our terms. By your implied definition, "speculation" is merely the normal mechanism of the market as it tries to properly value a barrel of oil(and I agree with that), but most commentators seem to be using it in a different sense: that it's an abnormal activity causing the market to overvalue oil, implying a speculative premium, or a bubble (and I disagree with that).

There is a simpler explanation: when the market produces prices that we like, we call it fair and normal; when it produces prices we don't like, even by exactly the same mechanisms, then we call it unfair and abnormal. If speculative shorts were able to drive the price of oil down $40 from here, how many Congressmen would suggest an investigation into the "interference" of speculators?

So if someone makes a bet that a horse will win a race, that's gambling.

If someone buys an oil ETF because they want to hedge against rising oil prices, that is speculation.

If someone buys shares of XYZ stock because they think it will go up in price, that's investing.

Right, perfectly clear!

They do have an ETF for gasoline now.

How long do you think the current situation will last?

Inventory at Cushing has been building, while inventory on the Gulf Coast and elsewhere has been falling sharply. (My feeling is that the closing of refineries that use Cushing supply has been deliberate. Saudi prices for the U.S. are set by WTI.)

This WSJ article (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119162309507450611.html)from last fall mentions that:

"In Cushing, most storage tanks are owned by four entities: oil giant BP PLC, and energy-transport and logistics firms Enbridge Energy Partners (an affiliate of Canada's Enbridge Inc.), Plains All American Pipeline LP, and SemGroup Energy Partners LP.

"Bruce MacPhail, who manages Enbridge's U.S. oil-terminal leasing, estimates financial firms now lease 25% to 35% of the company's storage. Enbridge, which bought several Shell tank farms in 2004, has gone from having no presence in Cushing to owning just over one-third of the town's tanks. One of Enbridge's clients is Morgan Stanley, people familiar with the matter say. The investment bank recently helped Enbridge bankroll the construction of new tanks."

Given the heavy ownership (and construction of new storage tanks) by financial firms, it seems that Cushing's oil owners are interested more in storing lately. It would be interesting to see what percentage of Gulf Coast storage is owned by financial firms and middlemen.

the_rage -

Well, that is VERY interesting information indeed!

One of the arguments frequently heard at TOD is that speculators cannot heavily influence the price of oil because in order to do so they would have to have the capability of storing significant amounts of oil ..... because if they did not, then they would be subject to periodic 'corrections' when it's time to pay the piper as the contracts expire.

Now, if it is indeed true that financial firms now lease 25 to 35% of the storage capacity at Cushion, then that would appear to at least partially satisfy the necessary condition of having storage cability. Whether that constitutes both a necessary and sufficient condition for significant price influence, I do not know. But in my mind at least, my confidence in the argument regarding speculators' lack of storage capability has been shaken a bit more.

Maybe we shouldn't refer to what is going on as 'speculation' in the normal trader sense of the word, but rather something else (e.g., 'resource control?).


But, the storage capacity of cushing hasn't changed (correct me if I'm wrong), but the ownership has. The new owners may very well hoard the oil, but that just has the effect of reducing commercial inventories by the amount the banks control. The bank is in no hurry to sell the oil, they want to see if they can get the price bid up to $200 before they sell it.

One article mentioned that new tanks had been financed by a Wall Street firm (Morgan Stanley ?).

Not dramatic, but some.


Interestinger and interestinger. I do think one of the results of peak oil will be the arrival of the hoarders, and thus real speculation. I did not expect it to get started so soon.

This is an old article (2004) but may be pertinent to this discussion;


Meanwhile, banks such as Morgan Stanley are also beginning to move into the physical market to buy oil — or even entire oilfields.

Morgan Stanley recently won the contract to supply fuel to United Airlines, and Goldman Sachs recently bought 10m barrels of oil

But, the storage capacity of cushing hasn't changed (correct me if I'm wrong), but the ownership has.

The article does mention new tanks - the photo captions are:

"David Bryson of Enbridge Energy Partners is overseeing work in Cushing, Okla., on a new cluster of tanks that each can hold 575,000 barrels."

"Storage operators are busy building more tanks. Today, industrial construction firm Matrix Service Co. has overtaken the Cushing schools and hospital systems as the town's largest employer."

Thank you.

This whole storage argument doesn't make sense. The more you have in storage, the less it's worth. If people ever found out Morgan Stanley had 10 billion barrels in storage, the price would fall to 10 dollars.

Ask any business owner, high inventories is a prelude to a sale and not higher prices.

Hello Jteehan,

Your Quote: "The more you have in storage, the less it's worth."

Just the opposite effect applies in topsoil: the richer and thicker the mulch, micro-organisms, worms, and embedded NPK and other trace minerals--the more valuable the farm.

IMO, we need to energy-transform billions of barrels of FFs to infuse/hoard below ground the I-NPK and O-NPK that makes for rich topsoil. Burning FFs for merely heat or car movement is like burning precious art--makes no sense when our global topsoils are in terrible shape.

Now that is VERY interesting.

Leanan posted this story in the Oct 6, 2007 Drumbeat.

Rust never sleeps.

Sure wish I had time to read them all!

Matt Simmons posted a paper on his company web site; "Oil and Gas Rust - An Evil Worse than Depletion." He used the phrase, "Rust never sleeps."

http://www.simmonsco-intl.com/research.aspx?Type=msspeeches (May 5, 2008)

speek -

Geez, my paranoia meter is just about to get pegged!

The obvious (and therefore probably wrong) conspriracy theory would be: the financial sector has just about gone bust selling worthless paper to the public and each other and now wants to get into something that people really can't do without, i.e., oil. Could this be a massive takeover of our resources by the powers of darkness, aka Wall Street?

"There's something happening here, and you don't know what it is ....
Do you ...... Mr. Jones?"

Apologies if this has been posted before, but here's a link


to a recent interview with T Boone Pickens in which he predicts US gasoline at $14 per gallon by this summer and $18-$20 by winter.

The consequences of such a rapid run up in prices are mind boggling.

I believe Pickens was referring to the price of natural gas, not gasoline.


Wolf in YVR BC

Sorry, my mistake!

RE: Soaring Inflation Threatens Peg To $US

Fuel prices at the pumps are peanuts now compared to what they will be if all Mid East oil producers remove their currency pegs to the US Dollar.

Anyone that fails to understand the relationship between the effect of dollar pegs in oil producing countries should brush up on the subject. A good place to start is:

'From a political perspective, there is a serious question as to whether Saudi Arabia, the largest economy in the region, will wish to deliver a quick victory to the Kingdom’s nemesis, Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who, together with his “brother” Hugo Chavez, called in the recent oil summit in Riyadh to ditch the dollar “as a worthless piece of paper.” SAUDI ARABIA MAY ALSO BE THINKING ABOUT THE HARMFUL EFFECT A DECISION TO PUT AN END TO THE DOLLAR PEG WOULD HAVE ON THE AMERICAN CURRENCY AND ITS STRATEGIC RELATIONS WITH THE US (caps mine). [See our previous editorial on “The Oil Summit Rebuffs Iran and Venezuela”'


and here...

' A former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York described fixed currencies as follows:

"Fixing the value of the domestic currency relative to that of a low-inflation country is one approach central banks have used to pursue price stability. The advantage of an exchange rate target is its clarity, which makes it easily understood by the public. In practice, it obliges the central bank to limit money creation to levels comparable to those of the country to whose currency it is pegged. WHEN CREDIBLY MAINTAINED (caps mine), an exchange rate target can lower inflation expectations to the level prevailing in the anchor country. Experiences with fixed exchange rates, however, point to a number of drawbacks. A country that fixes its exchange rate surrenders control of its domestic monetary policy."[1]'

SA is between a rock and a hard place...Iran on the one hand, a US sinking dollar plus the Carter Doctrine on the other. In his recent trip to the Mid East Tresury Sec Paulson was offering advice about what the ME countries should do with their soverign wealth funds. Of course Paulson is probably the biggest liar that has ever held the office but you gotta give him credit for grit...advising soverign countries on how to manage their soverign wealth funds.


and finally...

'Gulf dollar peg is sovereign issue: US treasury chief'

When the US Government starts using the word 'soverign' trouble is on the horizon...and, not a receeding horizon...imo.


Saudi Arabia may be in for *interesting* times. My understanding of their current situation is as follows:

  • Since the fall of the Ottaman Empire, the Saudi leadership has secured western financial and military support by promising an uninterrupted supply of cheap oil. It now seems that they can no longer uphold their end of the bargain.
  • Saudi rulers have bought the loyalty of the clerics by funding fundamentalist religious schools both in the kingdom and abroad (eg Pakistan). These schools have been the spawning ground of fanatical groups which now pose a risk to the rulers themselves.
  • Agriculture in SA is set to decline because of depleting aquifers. This makes SA dependent upon imported food with the attendant risk of blackmail.
  • The fall of the Sunni government in Iraq has brought Shiite influence right up to their borders. And the oil-rich eastern provinces of their country have a majority Shiite population.

In short, BAU in the Persian Gulf is now on the endangered species list.

General Motors Announces it is closing Truck-SUV plants in Ohio, Wisconsin, Canada and Mexico after 2010 model year.


So where are the four EV plants to replace them?


Its easy to cut, harder to build. Wake me up when GM takes the shift in requirements seriously enough to really invest.

When will GM finally wise up. They said the EV1 wouldn't sell. Well of course - the physical size limits potential buyers. How may people want a two seat car with limited range and carrying capacity? The same is true of the Volt except for the range.
Any new concept should be targeted at fleet sales:
1. they buy in large quanties thus lower production costs
2. They will be serviced and fueled in central locations - thus no need for vast infastructure changes
3. they will be driven and maintained by professionals
4. if there is a problem - like a battery fire - they will not rush to the phone and call "1-800-lawyers".

Good ideas. I'm sure some Japanese company will be quick to implement them.

Are you in Dayton RT as you are linking to the worst newspaper in the WORLD.

after [2009 or] 2010 model year

Why wait one or two years ?

"After 2008 model year" i.e. in 3 or 4 months would be a bater decision.


They could do that if they really wanted to. The real kicker here for me is that Ford in particular makes wonderfully fuel efficient vehicles in Germany. Why can't they use those designs here in the U.S.?

Because the US government won't let them import them!
Take the Smart car. In Europe it gets 50+ miles per gallon with the small diesel engine. The USA version gets about 30 MPG with a big gasoline engine. They can't import the model with the small diesel engine because "it pollutes too much".
I can't imagine why anyone would want to buy the Smart car with only 30 MPG when the new VW with the TDI diesel gets almost twice the fuel milage?
It's mostly stupid politics.

For the same price as the smart car, you can get a nice new Corolla that gets 40mpg. Must be the engineer in me, but I just do not get the smart car.

The smart car was not designed to be an efficient vehicle. It was designed to be a small nimble vehicle that can navigate crowded European city centers.

Why its being marketed in the US as a green car is beyond me.

I think you really need quote marks around the name.... that is "Smart" car.

We have a friend who paid 40k for one to get one of the first ones in the country. She drove over in it and showed it off, noting that it might get as much as 40mpg. Parked next to it was the 2002 Hyundai Accent which I bought for $1100 since it had been sideswiped and vandalized, and then spent $30 to fix. I point out that I was getting 43mpg in it, and it had a hatchback and twice the hauling capacity. She was not entirely amused I think. Nice lady though.

Meanwhile Porsche is eyeing up a larger stake in VW.

Niche firm Porsche sets big goals

"...the market as a whole is good - the emerging markets are still very strong. We are selling many cars in China, Russia and especially in the Middle East."

"We are selling cars like bread, it's unbelievable - for example, our dealer in Dubai is selling more than 2,000 cars a year," he adds.

But in the long term, the continuing weak dollar will remain a major cause for concern.

There's no mention of oil prices in the article, only a reference to the possible effects of the 'credit crunch'. It doesn't look like PO is currently on the company's radar. However, selling luxury cars to oil exporting nations is probably one of the better post-peak business strategies for car manufacturers. According to the CEO Mr Wiedeking they may even "have to build some products in the US".

"He'd probably be fearful I might whisper in his ear and change his whole view of the Middle East," Cheney said.

I know Cheney is peak oil aware, I'm guessing this is maybe a peak oil reference, very subtle though..


This is the main reason I still have a car. I don't feel safe on the roads - or even off the roads - without my metal shell.

Car crashes into bike race; one dead

MONTERREY, Mexico (AP) -- A car plowed into a weekend bike race along a highway near the U.S.-Mexico border, killing one and injuring 10 others, police said.

Cycling fatalities only represent about 2% of all traffic deaths.

Thanks, I feel much better about my dead father now that I know the %.

Sorry to hear about your father. Obviously there is no way I could anticipate someone taking offense by me quoting a statistic. One of my best friends (who never owned a car) was killed by a bad driver 13 years ago. If you were offended I apologize.

That would only be meaningful if you knew what percentage cyclists are of all travelers.

From this:

According to the National Sporting Goods Association, the number of Americans who bike "frequently" -- 110 days a year or more -- fell almost 10 percent in 2007 to 3.7 million people...The proportion of personal trips made by bike is less than 1 percent, according to the League of American Bicyclists, a Washington-based advocacy group. That compares with 27 percent in the Netherlands and 18 percent in Denmark, both of which have networks of bike-only paths, bike lanes and calm streets where people of all ages can feel safe riding.

That seems to suggest if bikers are 2% of the fatalities, then bikes are proportionally more dangerous since they're being used by less than 1% of the trips.

From here, there's a completely different statistic:

How many cyclists die

Deaths per year. 725, 629, 665, 732, and 693 cyclists died per year in 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, and 2000 respectively, and were about 89% male. (National Highway Traffic Saftey Administration, and Insurance Institute for Highway Saftey)

An average of 16.5 cyclists per million die every year in the U.S. (For motorists, it's 19.9 motorists per million.) (National Safety Council 1988)

Cyclists are 2% of road deaths & injuries. The 761 cyclists killed in 1996 accounted for 2% of traffic fatalities, and the 59,000 cyclists injured made up 2% of all traffic injuries. (5)

The bold part seems to imply bikes are safer.

Lies, damn lies, statistics.

It may look less but that is per person traveling on each conveyance. If you factor in how man miles each person was traveling biking would be a lot worse because each person travels a far less mean distance than driving a car.

What's the point of this argument? People die all the time from a variety of causes.

The picture is what I would expect and actually did hear from the MSM during bike week last month. The guy in SF just couldn't help but end each segment with some bad news about an accident.

I'd rather die a nice violent bicycle death then be a fat, diabetic, heart disease ridden, arthritic, wheezing, loser who sit in their SUV loaded with a SuperSized sack of McSnacks on the way home to the McMansion complaining of high gas prices the whole way.

Wear a helmet, take a bike safety course, don't react to rednecks no matter how much they piss you off, stop at stop signs, yield to everyone, hit the damn squirrels head on, don't freak when the dog runs out, and enjoy the ride. Or don't.

And what % of vehicle traffic?

Ah, but what fraction of passenger miles do bicycles represent? 2001 figures from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics indicate that they were only 0.2% of the passenger miles of motor vehicles. Combined with your figure, that suggests that riding is much more dangerous than driving. Except for special circumstances, I admit that I'm a traffic hazard on my bike. In particular, I can't keep up with cars, especially on the uphill bits. If traffic is heavy and there is no separate bicycle lane, drivers are forced to either slow way down or perform potentially dangerous maneuvers to get around me. From my house to my work, there is no route that does not force me to put in a mile or more in heavy traffic with no bike lane.

OTOH, Denver and its surrounding suburbs have an extensive network of bicycle trails for entertainment/exercise riding. Unlike Leanan, I am more than happy to shed my metal shell and put in 20 or 30 miles on the trails on a Saturday morning. I only wish they connected to the major job or shopping centers in an intelligent and safe fashion.

The roads in US are simply not made for cyclists. Even dedicated bike lanes don't provide enough safety, and I always slowdown and even go into the next lane (even if it's the opposite direction) when I see a cyclist - I've been a cyclist and I know what kind of stress is to have 3000lbs of steel passing you by at 50mph at one foot distance.

The solution I think is dual or multi mode mode transportation, like it is in Europe. In dense environments priority must be given to pedestrians, bikes and mass transit, otherwise they will always lose out safety and convenience wise. In suburban environments I think bikes don't have a place at all. PO will force us to go dense in the US, but it would probably take decades until we rebuild it all.

We don't have to rebuild it all. We only have to rebuild 5%, and then you can move there and leave the other 95% to the slow learners.

The roads in US are simply not made for cyclists. Even dedicated bike lanes don't provide enough safety, and I always slowdown and even go into the next lane (even if it's the opposite direction) when I see a cyclist - I've been a cyclist and I know what kind of stress is to have 3000lbs of steel passing you by at 50mph at one foot distance.

I commute by bike five miles each way most days for most of the year and have done so regularly for the last three years. Come later this month of next, I'll cut back because it gets so hot! Some of my route is on secondary streets with bike lanes, but about half is on primary streets (three lanes each direction) with a 45 MPH speed limit. Drivers in my city seem particularly aggressive towards cyclists.

Is it dangerous? Maybe, but so is driving at 75 or 85 MPH surrounded by other vehicles doing the same. Nobody suggests that they quit driving because of its hazards.

I just have an agreement in principal with a bicycle consulting firm to model & policies required to maximize bicycle use post-Peak Oil. Pro Bono publico to their credit till we get some funding.

Best Hopes for Rational Planning Before TSHTF,


Actually, the roads are just fine for biking. The problem is that they aren't made for motorists to always be able to easily pass cyclists, and motorists assume that they always have a right to pass. That assumption is a social assumption; it isn't what the law says. To change that assumption, we need to have the police enforcing the law, not motorist privilege. If (when) gas prices get high enough, we'll get there.

What I meant by that is that the roads here allow much higher speeds. If the speed limit is 20 to 30mph as is common in urban environment in Europe, and a bicycle travels with 10mph, the maximum speed difference is 10 or 20mph... much safer to pass and a possible collision at 15mph is much less dangerous. In US the speed limits in roads with bikes on them are most often 35 to 45mph, but drivers are regularly driving 50-55. A collision with 30mph relative speed will definitely kill you, while at 10mph you may get out with just a few scratches.

There are other issues, that cyclists can further expand on; for example I've always wondered what is it to make a left turn on a multi-lane crossroad. Cyclists regularly use cars to support themselves on traffic lights, and I can't help but think how dangerous this is, especially if the driver does not notice.

"Bike Boxes" and "Bikes first" greens (1.3 seconds before cars) help make biking safer.

A Bike Box is for multi-lane avenues at signaled intersections. Cars stop about 20' back from where they used to stop and only bicycles can stop in either traffic lane inside the Bike Box. Thus a left hand turn bike goes from the bike lane into the left hand lane of the bike box. Even if the bicyclist arrives at a green light, it is best to wait for a red light.

And a short head start gets the bicyclist on his way with all to see (all cars red for 1.3 seconds).

Also, the speed limit for most New Orleans streets is 25 mph and 35 mph for streets with neutral grounds (medians).

Best Hopes for Real World Solutions,


That sounds cool. But I usually wait to the rear of the line of cars and use the last one as a blocker, while checking to make sure I don't become the meat in an SUV sandwich. Part of my defensive riding techniques that I've learned dodging beer bottles in Texas and drunk drivers in California. Or was it the other way around?

The more we get out there on bikes, the more the cars will learn to deal with us. And unfortunately, the more of us will become road kill. It's just the way things are.

One of the greatest irritations are weight activated turn signals. I have to make an illegal turn nearly every day, because I don't weigh enough to trip the signal (and it would never turn green otherwise). I have also heard the same complaint from motorcyclists.

I don't think its weight that sets them off, but the steel in the car. There is a loop in the asphalt and the steel of the car interrupts the magnetic field.

Your bike doesn't have enough (or any) steel to set it off.

For motorcycles one trick is to turn your bike on and off. Somehow the starter motor will trip the sensor that way.

Sometimes magnets work as well.


There are several different methods used, but inductive loops are probably the most common. They are around here, anyway.

Actually, the roads are just fine for biking.

True - The problem is they have all those damn cars on them.

Indeed, but for how much longer? ;)

Because you're afraid you might decide to be part of a bike race that's hit by a drunk driver?

Because you're afraid of drunk drivers falling asleep behind the wheel of large sedans? I hope you have a large metal shell. I could have sworn that motorists are killed by drunk drivers as well. Silly me. I guess it's only bicyclists.

If we find a picture of a car plastered by a drunk driver collision, will you give up your car out of fear and only get around by bus/train/tank?

In most modern cars, with air bags and your belt on you can take a hell of an impact-on a bicycle, you get hit by a car doing any speed at all and it is over.

Of course, most people regularly do very high speeds in cars and need to be able to take a hell of an impact. And we still have over 40,000 motorists dying in car crashes every year.

On my bike, I'm never going over 30mph. You don't need much crash protection at 10mph. OTOH, I've been hit a couple of times in my 22 years of biking to work and never got more than a scratch. Maybe I'm actually one of those ghosts Jeffrey keeps mentioning but I don't know it? Or maybe you shouldn't make such blanket statements?

You can be going 10 mph on a bicycle (or 2 mph) -if an SUV hits you going 50 mph you might get scratched real good.

If an SUV hits you going 50mph, you'd better be in a bus. Duh. Have you ever seen what happens to just about anything when plowed into by an SUV traveling 50mph? Something tells me that you won't feel good no matter what you're in.

Typical. We all must drive tanks because of the vanishingly remote possibility that we may be hit by another tank traveling at 50mph. That was a so-so plan when gas was $1 per gallon. It apparently falls completely apart at $4 and up, since SUV sales are dropping like a rock.

I never said you should drive a tank-I support your right to play hopscotch in the middle of the freeway if you need that.

"Have you ever seen what happens to just about anything when plowed into by an SUV traveling 50mph?"

or better yet a ready-mix concrete truck.

This reminds me of the argument made by people who are afraid of air travel. It may be statistically safer to fly, but if you crash, there's little chance for survival.

Fear has nothing to do with it-if someone believes that they are physically safer riding a bicycle on a road rather than driving a car nothing will convince them otherwise (obviously).


I remember reading about the first crash between two cars with airbags, when I was doing research for a legal case, several years ago. It was a head-on collision at high speed. Both drivers walked away with barely a scratch. The cops were just astounded. They couldn't believe it.

Weren't they both Chrysler Lebaron's as well? I seem to recall Iococa showing the picture to all who would look.

Wrong conclusion. I been hit, I'm here. Even look at that picture: lots of bikes in air, only one dead.
Even after you get hit, you still have choices. Most often (yes, I've survived more than once) you will be thrown clear and you need to think how you land it. Deciding in advance that it's just going to be a fatal collision substantially reduces your odds. If you think that way, don't ride.
And don't talk about it.

Best of luck, Evil Kneivel.

Statistically of course you are right.
But then those I've known who've died in car crashes are dead while those who've died in bike accidents have this odd habit of fooling the docs who make them DOA and getting back on the bike.
I'm just happier with the bike than with fear.

Also I would say it's much safer now than in years past, at least where I live. I certainly remember a time when I'd hear the tick of a derailleur, or even the tick of a 3-speed, and it was 50/50 I knew that rider. Now I might see a couple hundred riders a day and only know 3 or 4. Bikes are just normal traffic in Chicago. Drivers expect to see us, and they do see us. Even the riders behave better when what they do becomes normal. Bikes are on the radio traffic reports here. We aren't all Evel Knievel.
There was a time it felt a little like that and only certain personality types would play. Thankfully now you meet all types out on the bike. All types but the fearful.

Actually, most of the time, everything misses you, and you're so relieved that you forget to pop your feet out of the clips, fall, and end up with a sprained wrist.

At least that's my MO.

only get around by bus/train/tank?

Or Streetcar. 1923/24 St. Charles streetcars have 1/2" steel plate below the windows, 2004 Canal streetcars have 3/4" Corten steel plate.

Garbage truck hit St. Charles streetcar at 90 degrees (rear of garbage truck backing up). Garbage truck driver shaken up, no injuries on streetcar. Garbage truck totaled, streetcar back in service in a few weeks.


A horrific photo. I bike race about every other weekend through the summer. This is my worst nightmare. When I ride to work I'm always looking out for traffic. When I race I'm much less aware of traffic as I assume they will know better then do get in the way of a pack of 100 cyclists.

Statistics for bike fatalities is lowest in those countries where bicycle usage is highest. The more bikes on the road, the more aware and considerate motorist become. Don't have a source for that right now but I'll find it if anyone is interested.

I've been knocked off my bike twice by motorist and once by a bus and consider myself lucky to still be walking. I've not lost anyone close to me but I've known a couple of guys that have been killed by motorist. One just a couple of weeks ago. He swerved to avoid someone opening their car door only to get smucked by a dump truck. Very sad, father of 2 young kids.


Here's a link to a study that has all sorts of interesting tidbits. It's way safer in to ride a bike in Germany than in the US.

When I race I'm much less aware of traffic as I assume they will know better then do get in the way of a pack of 100 cyclists.

That's an interesting point. There's some research that suggests cyclists are actually more likely to be injured on bikeways and such than on the road. Possibly because we tend to let our guard down.

"He swerved to avoid someone opening their car door only to get smucked by a dump truck."

This drives me nuts. No cyclist with basic Road I training would ever be in this situation. Motorists have to take driver's ed, but cyclists don't have to take anything. A few poor, clueless cyclists get themselves hurt or killed doing something dumb and the rest of us that would never make such a basic error get to hear about how incredibly dangerous biking is.

A cyclist should never, *ever* have to swerve to avoid someone opening their car door. If you do, you are biking way too far into the door zone. Basic, basic mistake. Every manual for safe cycling I've ever seen strongly advises against biking in the door zone for this very reason, but you still hear about it.

In downtown Toronto, the gap between the "door zone" and the dump truck zone is about two feet.

Then you should bike in the middle of the lane, and make the dump trucks wait behind you.

Not very pleasant, I admit.

I haven't actually seen anyone try that-if I was forced to bike on a lot of these streets I would be up on the sidewalk-better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6.

Riding on the sidewalk is actually more dangerous than riding on the street. (Unfortunately, around here, the sidewalks are the legal bike lanes.)

Drivers just don't see you on the sidewalk. They pull out of driveways or sideroads, or turn in front of you, and nail you. At least if you ride in the middle of the travel lane, they'll see you. They'll be cursing you, but they'll see you.

But holy crap, it's an unpleasant way to live - spending 30-90 minutes a day riding your bike in mortal fear like that.

Try it for a week and you'll be over the "mortal fear" thing for the rest of your life. The vast majority are fair and reasonable about it. The few that are a**holes are a**holes to everyone, motorist or cyclist, and they aren't willing to do anything more than sometimes blow their horns. The rare cyclist that's hit from behind is usually biking at night in a rural area without lights.

I biked in Toronto a few years ago, and it was one of the most pleasant places I've ever biked. Of course, that was downtown and the inner suburbs. The outer suburbs looked just like biking around here.

speek writes:

"But holy crap, it's an unpleasant way to live - spending 30-90 minutes a day riding your bike in mortal fear like that."

John Forester in EFFECTIVE CYCLING writes of the condition as "cyclist inferiority complex." It stems from the feeling that cyclists are sneaks on the road and take whatever space the motoring public graciously offers.

John's prescription is that cyclists should act as if they were in vehicles. When cyclists comply with state law and ride similarly as vehicles are driven then all parties know what to expect and how to negotiate lane changes and other transitions.

Cycling advocates say the road is for ALL travelers. We also say that time is on our side.

Leanan writes:

"Riding on the sidewalk is actually more dangerous than riding on the street. (Unfortunately, around here, the sidewalks are the legal bike lanes.)"

In some states like Georgia it's illegal to ride on a sidewalk. But push come to shove we all do it when necessary. Georgia law states that cyclists should ride on the road and to the right as far as is practicable. And when encountering debris or poorly positioned drainage grates to take the lane when safe.

For anyone who cares the bible of cycling is John Forester's EFFECTIVE CYCLING. It's about 600 pages covering all aspects of cycling and cycling advocacy. This book should be on the shelf of all serious cyclists.

Yes, I learned growing up in Hawai`i that bikes were not allowed on the sidewalk. And as a pedestrian, I prefer it that way. Being run over by a bicycle is usually not fatal, but it's freakin' painful.

But in parts of the northeast, they build bike lanes as part of the sidewalk. The sidewalk will be 8' wide instead of the usual 5', and will be posted with occasional "bike lane" signs. Otherwise, it looks just like a normal sidewalk.

Most cyclists don't use them, which greatly aggravates the DOT engineers who designed them. They think it's because cyclists are lazy and don't want to ride up and down driveway cuts. Personally, I suspect the cyclists know something the DOT engineers do not: that it's more dangerous on the sidewalk than in the street.

While you're legally correct, I must point out that this does place you in the middle of the objects thrown by pissed off passing motorist zone.

Where is the follow-up pictures of the motorist being beaten to death by the other cyclists?

Today's Peak Oil News carries an item from NY Times regarding IATA appraisal of profit outlook given high fuel prices:

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 situation it called desperate. If the price of oil, now just below $130 a barrel, averages $107 over 2008, the industry will lose $2.3 billion for the year, the chief executive of the group, Giovanni Bisignani, said. Should it trade at $135 a barrel for the rest of the year, the industry will lose $6.1 billion, he added.

IMO, businesses unwilling to raise prices to clients so they can remain solvent don't deserve to remain in business. The airline industry already gets a global break on its fuel price as most tax--especially in Europe--isn't levied.

Airlines Forecast to Lose $6.1 Billion in '08

Airlines may report combined losses of $6.1 billion this year, the worst since 2003, as spiraling fuel costs and slowing economies wipe out earnings. ... More than a dozen carriers have collapsed in the past six months. ...

IATA based its $6.1 billion loss estimate on an oil price of about $135 a barrel, equal to the record level reached May 22. The 230-member group's official forecast is for a loss of $2.3 billion, based on a consensus oil price of $107. The group forecast a $4.5 billion profit as recently as April 1.

"This really reflects the whole state of the industry," said John Strickland, director of aviation specialist JLS Consulting in London. "It shows the way in which the industry can rapidly turn from profit to loss. If you look at some of the other forecasts of oil at $200 a barrel, then I think it's more likely to be worse than IATA's projections."

Stories like this and the ones posted by DaveMart above seem to indicate the velocity of turmoil in the business world is increasing. I wonder if anyone really has a handle on the broad picture across all industries. When someone sits down to write the business history of these years, there will be tens or hundreds of thousands of stories and reports to wade through.

I Googled TOD and was unable to find these 2 interesting articles about solar in the FT of yesterday. Apologies if they have already been posted:

Silver lining in solar power storm clouds

The solar power business is bracing itself for a collapse in prices that could lead to a shake-out in one of the most promising areas of the renewable energy sector.
According to Dean Cooper, analyst at Ambrian, the global capacity for production of photovoltaic equipment - the biggest section of solar power technology which converts sunlight directly into electricity - is set to increase "dramatically", from 3 gigawatts last year to 15 to 20 gigawatts of production in 2010. Much of the growth is coming from China.

Prices for solar components would drop from about $3.80 per watt to about $1.40 a watt by 2010, he said. That could prompt consolidation in the sector within the next six months, with smaller players falling prey to longer established companies.

Squeeze is on as interest grows in solar sector

The problems facing the solar sector exemplify the growing pains of a small industry.

The revenues from solar panels - or photovoltaics - stood at only $21.2bn last year, according to Lux Research, despite three decades of technological development.

Lux forecasts they will reach $71bn in 2012 even though the industry faces falling margins, a squeeze on subsidies and an oversupply of the components.

It would seem that it is good news. Naturally, I would like to know whether it is too early to take a deep breath.

Tis actually a needed thing. It is not healthy if anyone can produce mediocre product and make a profit. Besides the increase in demand at $1.40 will be very large. I bet many of us are just waiting to PV to get cheaper before investing in a system.

I follow most of these solar company stocks, and if anything, prices and margins have been going up. Hence the rise in stock prices and the dropping of stock PEs.

I think these stories are just part of the wishful thinking peddled as news because of what is supposed to be rather than what is. Just go online and search the entire internet for solar panels and tell me if you find anything resembling a deal. Prices are still going up, not down.

Believe me, I'm not happy about this. I'd rather prices go down. Read the quarterly reports for inventory numbers. If they ever start to rise, then maybe the price will start falling.

TOTAL, the French oil company, admits Peak Oil

Here are some quotes from the article, from a slightly corrected computer translation:

According to the company the global oil production will soon reach its limits. Production will grow significantly less than the International Energy Agency forecast. For the energy industry this warning is a sensation. Total Oil Group is the first to express itself so clearly on the question. Competitors such as BP, Shell and ExxonMobil always stress that sufficient oil could be promoted - if the price is high enough. ...

According to Total production might actually increase until 2020, however only to 95 million barrels. In addition among other things Canadian oilsands are to contribute, in addition would come five million barrels of fuels from gas and coal synthesis. Afterwards however further increases are only possible with difficulty. "The IEA will soon state that it was too optimistic," Total chief strategist Jean Jacques Mosconi said according to the newspaper. ...

"Where oil is concerned, the future is already behind us," said Josef Auer, energy expert at Deutsche Bank Research.

The RV industry getting pinched


Production at the company's Charles City, Iowa-based plant will idle Aug. 1, and operations will be moved to Winnebago's Forest City facilities throughout the fourth quarter. The company said the move will not affect customers or product offerings.

The company said market conditions have dramatically worsened with increasing fuel prices, decreasing consumer confidence and a difficult lending environment hampering sales of motor homes.

The smartest of these outfits will transition into high-efficiency mini-home production, right quick.

You're on to something. With the housing market in the toilet, folks might go super-small if located super-close.

Here we go again--Bakken:

Best of all, the Bakken could be huge. The U.S. Geological Survey's Leigh Price, a Denver geochemist who died of a heart attack in 2000, estimated that the Bakken might hold a whopping 413 billion barrels. If so, it would dwarf Saudi Arabia's Ghawar, the world's biggest field, which has produced about 55 billion barrels.


Could so many have got it so wrong in the past? Or is technology really a lot better in the 21st century?

"Could so many have got it so wrong in the past?"

no, not really, bakken production has been ongoing for about 50 yrs. and i can say without any doubt whatever that the bakken will never even approach ghawar's production.

"Or is technology really a lot better in the 21st century?"

technology has improved, not just in the last 8yrs. horizontal drilling was begun in the '80's in the bakken. there was also a horizontal drilling boom in the 90's (bicentenial-elk horn ranch). i dont know of any companies that made a lot of money off this boom, some went broke.
the economics of drilling and completing a $5 million well are good in some areas and not so good in others.
my prediction is that when the dust settles, there will have been some sweet spots where operators made a lot of money and other areas where operators lost a lot of money. this is the nature of the business. someone comes up with a successful technique and everyone else copies it.

price's theories are just theories. some have bought it all-in, but the jury is still out, way out, imo.

ExxonMobil R3M Technology

What is it?

I saw a couple f what appears to me new ExxonMobil "tech" commercials last night one of which touted R3M technology for finding "oil"

I dd not find any references on wikipedia - or TOD archives for that matter.

I did find this on a Yahoo scan: http://www.isa.org/PrinterTemplate.cfm?Section=InTech&template=/ContentM...

Thanks - just curious.


It appears to be based on magnetotellurics (or MT), except that they are using an active source, instead of taking passive measurements. If it works, two advantages, to get some confirmation that structural traps may contain hydrocarbons and to help detect subtle stratigraphic traps. One problem is that hydrocarbons are not the only thing that causes higher resistivity measurements.


How would this differ from CSAMT? It's been around for awhile and has some depth/resolution constraints.

I don't know, but resolution is why I never have tried to use the various techniques in my little corner of the oil patch. Our pay zones are just too thin, and I have been skeptical of guys who claim to be able to detect 20' of oil pay at a depth of several thousand feet.

Reminds me of the joke about the geologist, mining engineer and geophysicist being fed to the lions in the coliseum. The geologist just gives up, seeing no way to escape, the engineer begins complicated slide rule calculations about the amount of dirt which must be moved to excavate an escape tunnel while the geophysicist looks completely serene. The geologist and the engineer turn on the geophysicist and ask if he knows a way to escape before the lions eat them. “Of course I know how to escape…first, assume a ladder”

RE: Stable Dollar Could Reverse Oil Run

What the Fed implies, by jawboning, and what the Fed does by the actions that it takes are not the same. Here is what one professional trader believes the Fed will do. Toxic waste is beginning to show up on the books of the largest insurers, companies that cannot so easily hide the poison because their charters require them to sell downgraded garbage. When the insurers are forced to sell garbage what will happen to the same garbage held in 'level 3 assets' of investment and commercial banks? Can they continue to hide the weenie since it will suddenly have a mark to market value by virtue of insurance company sales? Ah, what the hey...the Fed will probably invent another window where this level 3 garbage can be traded for (dollar good?) treasuries...Maybe the Fed already has opened that window and not bothered to tell anyone.

'Credit Hurricane To Make Land Fall'

'While Bernanke has been very imaginative in his policies (I disagree with this statement), there is a sense of desperation in the air. I believe that the Fed will keep at it (continue to cut interest rates) and simply try to slow down the unwinding process. Note the Federal Funds Futures graph below, which for the first time in a long while the market is pricing in a Fed tightening or rate hike by year-end. I'm betting the opposite way and will be adding duration and convexity to portfolios over the next month as I think inflation fears will switch to deflation fears; this is because we are in a period of debt destruction and periods of debt destruction are usually accompanied by bouts of deflation.'

'According to Bloomberg, there are now over 668 publicly traded companies with Level 3 Assets on their books, which is 133 more than just last month. What I find highly interesting is that the companies aren’t limited to just banks and brokers. We are increasingly seeing them on the balance sheets of insurance companies like AIG, Metropolitan, Hartford, etc.

This leads to a very interesting possible scenario that could get Stage 2 of the credit crisis rolling. Insurance companies are usually forbidden to buy junk bonds and most of them have ‘downgrade language’ in their charters. Downgrade language is language that can force an insurance company to sell bonds if they are downgraded from say, AAA to BBB. Level 3 Assets have three magical words in their definition: "no observable inputs.'


Anyone that says the credit unwind is over is either naieve or a liar.

The news that Lehman may be having financial trouble is huge and should not be ignored. Because the Federal Reserve has lowered rates already to the point that if their is another catastrophic investment bank failure then they will risk runaway inflation in this country by lowering rates further, which is really the only method that they have at their disposal. Personally I hope that Lehman and other banks don't fail, because if inflation increases it becomes difficult to see the true impact of oil depletion due to inflation.

Reality is starting to sink in:

Medvedev calls for improving energy efficiency

RBC, 03.06.2008, Moscow 18:14:45. Russia's thermal energy system loses the largest amount of energy in the world, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said during today's meeting on raising the level of Russia's environmental and energy efficiency. He noted that the energy efficiency of most Russian industries lagged behind that of modern standards 10- or even 20-fold. Medvedev reiterated that the Russian government was committed to halving Russia's energy consumption by 2020. With this purpose in mind, Russia needs to adapt to the requirements of energy efficient technologies, buildings, and production on the whole, Medvedev said.

This is good:

In 1921, GM lost $65 million, leading [GM President Alfred P.] Sloan to conclude that the auto market was saturated, that those who desired cars already owned them, and that the only way to increase GM's sales and restore its profitability was by eliminating its principal rival: electric railways. At the time, 90 percent of all trips were by rail, chiefly electric rail; only one in 10 Americans owned an automobile. There were 1,200 separate electric street and interurban railways, a thriving and profitable industry with 44,000 miles of track, 300,000 employees, 15 billion annual passengers, and $1 billion in income. Virtually every city and town in America of more than 2,500 people had its own electric rail system. Source

Subsequently, according to Wikipedia:

General Motors, Firestone Tire, Standard Oil of California and Phillips Petroleum formed the National City Lines (NCL) holding company, which acquired most streetcar systems throughout the United States, dismantled them, and replaced them with buses in the mid 20th century. After all was said and done, and all the streetcar systems gone, GM was convicted of violating the Sherman Antitrust Act, fined a whopping $5,000. Each executive was ordered to pay a fine of $1 for a conspiracy to force the streetcar systems to buy GM buses instead of other buses (but not for dismantling the streetcar systems, which were also being dismantled by non-NCL owned systems).


Ed Tennyson served as technical staff support for the prosecution at that trial. Still alive and active and helping me :-)

Got a letter from him yesterday :-)

Only living human being I know with a unit of measurement named for him (# of passengers X Average trip Length / total distance of route(s) = tennysons) A measure of transit density.


Someone probably already beat me to it, but what about the "Yergin"? A fixed amount of currency measuring a "well respected" energy consulting firm's short and long term inability to predict oil prices. [Mostly kidding ... best wishes to Ed.]


From today's Guardian...

Spending cuts hit corporate travel sector

Hogg Robinson, which specialises in corporate travel, warned today that market conditions remain tough as banks and other financial services firms cut back on travel spending.

Annual profits at the world's fourth-largest corporate travel group were in line with City forecasts. Earnings before interest, tax and amortisation for the year to March 31 amounted to £40.3m, down from £44.1m the previous year which saw a one-off boost of £3.4m from the 2006 World Cup. The firm expects to deliver growth this year.

Solar energy shares soar as Bosch buys Ersol for €1.1bn

The German engineering group Bosch is to buy a solar energy company for €1.1bn (£864m) in a move likely to lead to further consolidation in the world's biggest solar power market.

Bosch said yesterday that it paid €101 a share, a premium of more than 60%, for a controlling stake in Ersol and would offer the same price to all other shareholders. It has already secured acceptances from investors holding another 3.3%.

Shares in leading German solar companies rose substantially on expectations that other big players, including oil groups, are on the prowl in a market that grew to €6.6bn last year and is forecast to top €18bn by 2020.

North Sea spoils

"It's Scotland's oil" according to the SNP, and of course it is. There is no reasonable authority denying that, if Scotland were an independent nation, North Sea oil would be under Scottish jurisdiction, under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Of course, Scotland isn't independent and in theory Scotland benefits from the collective economic endeavour of UK plc through the Barnett Formula. But it remains the case that Scotland, even within the UK, is a nation with its own legal system and jurisdiction. It is perfectly legitimate for Alex Salmond to claim that Scotland is the only oil-producing nation in the world not to have benefited directly from oil wealth.

Not sure if these have been posted already: I get lost in the Drumbeats these days. Has anyone out there developed a statistical model for the growth of the Drumbeats yet? ;)

Can anyone explain the time-line of the baby-boomer retirement vs time-line of ELM?

IMO, we are going to continue to see an accelerating net oil export decline rate, and IMO, there will not be nearly enough exported energy available to generate the economic activity necessary to pay off the accumulated debts and to generate projected corporate earnings. Therefore, IMO, the markets are fundamentally mispricing most debt and equity issues.

In regard to "retirement," which as many people expect, will probably be a fading concept, I frequently ask people what their primary requirement for retirement is. I put food at the top of the list, which brings us to the family organic farm/garden. I frequently quote Sharon Astyk on the biggest threat that we face--the brother in-law on the couch syndrome. One big advantage of having a small family farm/garden is that you can take incoming unemployed adult children and in-laws and convert them from liabilities, eating you out of house and home, into assets--agricultural workers.

The oldest boomers turn 62 this year. That is the age at which you can start drawing (draastically reduced) social security benefits. The longer you hold off the more you get from SSA up to age 70. 1962 was the year the number of babies first declined. Calling that the end of the boom, 1962 + 70 = 2032.

The social security payout formula is designed to back load the retirement incentive. I've no clue if it will work.

Some thoughts on retirement...

I retired just before I was 60 and am 69 1/2 now.

A question from a retirement conference:

Q. When is the best time to retire?
A. Today because you might die tonight.

This was a real and serious answer. What many boomers are going to start to realize is that they aren't immortal. Is it worth a few hundred bucks a month to keep working? Further, if a person comes to the conclusion that SS might not be there, it might make sense to at least get some money.

From personal experience:

I do more physical work than many people in their 40's but I notice I've slowed down. I get tired after 6-8 hours unlike the, often, 10-12 hours I'd work around our place in the past. By "work", I mean stuff like felling trees and cutting and splitting them for firewood, planting/pruning fruit trees, doing engine mechanics, etc.

This might be important to people who have plans for that "little place in the country." Any extra money by working longer to get more SS could easily be eaten up by having to hire people to do work they could once do themselves.

I would also add that they will probably not have the time to develop the skill-sets necessary if their plan is to become self-reliant.


Bill Bonner is funny imo...I could not resist posting what he has to say on the tenth anniversary of the Euro. Hopefully our Federal Reserve will take notice that the ECB never does anything and their currency is doing better than ours.

'*** This week marks the euro's 10th anniversary.

We remember when it came out. The "Esperanto Money," we called it, referring to the ersatz language that never quite caught on.

The dollar is bad enough; at least it is supported by the full faith and credit of the United States of America, for whatever that is worth. Whose full faith and credit stood behind the euro? What nation would be willing to stick with the new money when the going really got tough?

The euro opened at $1.12 to the greenback. Then, it sank below 90 cents. It looked doomed; the American paper was stronger, surer, more lasting.

But then our initial skepticism towards Europe's new money quickly turned to admiration. The euro's weaknesses were actually its great strength. Since no nation stood behind it, none would knock it down to get where it wanted to go. Just as the Europeans could never agree on sausages or military campaigns, they would never agree on the destruction of their money. If French wanted a weak euro to help enliven their economy, the Germans and the English would tell them to stop whining and show some backbone. If it were the English whose economy went soft and who wanted an easier money policy, likewise, the French would like nothing better than to deny it to them.

That is the charm of the Europeans; they detest each other mutually. The French would rather endure a depression themselves than spare the English one. And as for the Italians, the Irish, the Austrians…and all the other peoples at the periphery - well, they can just look out for themselves!

But rather than leave the European Central Bank weak and subservient, it actually makes it stronger and more independent. Its officials may have no more integrity than officials of the Federal Reserve. Their economic theories may be no better. But at least they are unresponsive. In central banking, the consequence of inertia and inactivity is almost always salutary.

While the Fed has cut rates…raised them…and then cut them again, the ECB has done nothing. And the euro has almost doubled from its low and now trades for $1.55.'

Until tomorrow,

Bill Bonner
The Daily Reckoning


Makes sense except England like the rest of the UK is not in the Euro Zone.

Just saw on CNBC: Tomorrow's inventory report will be delayed by 5 minutes. It will be released at 10:35 AM Eastern time until further notice. Something to do with the data being released early last Thursday. They are trying to fix the security of the system so such never happens again. At any rate, the predictions for the inventory go like this:

Crude Oil, UP 2.7 million barrels.
Gasoline, UP .9 million barrels.
Distillates, UP 1.6 million barrels.

Ron Patterson

My summer prediction: by Labor Day we will hear calls to release oil from the SPR, specifically because of supply issues, and thus skyrocketing prices, on the Gulf Coast (even without weather related shutdowns).

Oil is actually only $2 per barrel? - Paul van Eeden

What is this guy trying to say? Is this guy known?



website / paper titles "Sue OPEC"


Regarding Doomers Garden


No one alive in the US has grown their own food. There might have been a few in the last generation

What are they teaching in the schools ??

That's nutty. I know all sorts of people here in rural New Mexico who have been growing gardens for at least 20 years...some all of their 90 plus years. We can and freeze. This year there are more people than ever who are putting in gardens...some cooperatively. My son lives here as well (he is 36) and he has tripled the size of his garden this year. I am retired, 65 years old, and spend most of my time at garden tasks or playing music. I love retirement. A good number of my friends are peak oil aware, simply because they trust my judgment and explanations. Many of them are women, like me. Strangely, I get the most opposition to the idea from some of the men... (technology will save us). A comment for what it's worth.

perhaps the author meant growing "all" thier food (ie completely self-sufficient). In that case, it may be true. Even farmers that farm thousands of acres, still rely on supermarkets.

All farms are monocrops or grow a very limited set of crops. A wheat farmer can't live on wheat alone. Humans, need a source protein (meat), vegetables, grains, and fruits to remain healthy.

Self-sufficient farming likely died more than hundred years ago as its extremely difficult and labor intensive.

There are some people living around here that come pretty close.

If someone with a surplus of some crop swaps with someone who has a surplus of something else, does that still count?

Make sure that bottle's labeled Sarcanol and not Methanol, ok?

Where do you live to make such a bizarre claim? Even working as an electric on TV commercials in Manhattan, the Italian Grips from Brooklyn were all comparing their tomato yields and sharing notes on Basil, recipes, etc..

Did you mean to say ALL their own food? I don't think that's really the intention of gardening in the first place. You have some self-reliance, some exports and some imports..


Yep , I meant ALL the Calories needed

What about 80%, 50% ?? Basil and tomatoes don't cut if for yearly calories.

Self reliance or sustainability mean no imports

Sorry I was not more clear ... Maybe should have asked ...

"What % of your calories are you growing ?"

I have one friend who grows a significant amount of his own food. But it's not necessarily a lifestyle that will survive peak oil.

He's got a huuuuuuge garden. I've never seen a home garden so big.

He also eats a lot of meat, most of which he hunts. Deer, squirrel, birds, etc.

He actually has a pretty high-ranking job and makes a lot of money, but he prides himself on spending almost nothing on food.

But his lifestyle is still pretty dependent on fossil fuels. He preserves food mostly by freezing, and electricity comes mostly from coal and natural gas around here. He has a tractor for his garden; before he got it, his garden was much smaller. The ammo for his game hunting is getting more and more expensive. And the game would be pretty scarce if everyone lived as he did.

Two comments on your friend. FYI only.
"The ammo for his game hunting is getting more and more expensive."
Everyone I know who shoots more than 20shots a year has taken up reloading simply because for a high power rifle is knocks the cost to about a 1/3 since the brass is the most expensive piece due to copper. Not as cheap as it was by far, but still cheaper than golf or skiing.

"And the game would be pretty scarce if everyone lived as he did." Even in places where the game is plentiful, hunting is never as easy as some make it out to be. Due to "survial of the fitest", most of the animals alive today are remarkably sensitive to your intentions. If you're hungry, they'll know it and you'll never see them. The only exception that I can think of is the geese which we see landing on the neighborhood lawns here in OKC. The whole point being is that hunting is a skill that takes time to acquire, like gardening or fishing. The local gang-bangers who head "for the hills" with their AKs will probably starve to death surrounded by wild game and wind up as coyote food.

The local gang-bangers who head "for the hills" with their AKs will probably starve to death surrounded by wild game and wind up as coyote food.

That wasn't what I was talking about. My friend gets a lot of his meat from friends who like hunting, but either don't like eating game, or can't eat it all. (He could get all he needs on his own, but he obeys game laws and bag limits.) As times get tougher, I imagine people will be more willing to eat game, and his friends might become less generous.

And in this area, we don't have many people who have AKs, or would consider hunting with them. We're what you might call "recently civilized." Older people remember not having hot running water; on Saturday night, mom heated up water for the weekly bath on the stove, and everyone bathed in a tub on the floor of the kitchen. The same water was used for the whole family, so it was pretty icky if you the last of six kids. Kids would hunt before school in the morning, then bring their guns to school and leave them propped in the coat room.

Of course you can't do that any more, but the knowledge is still there. People still know how to make squirrel stew and like eating it, even though these days, they are more likely to feed squirrels than hunt them. I don't think they'd have much trouble reverting to the ways of their youth.

I guess I hadn't thought of anyone giving game meat away to anyone other than family or christmas ("summer sausage"). Its considered sacred here and if you don't like eating it, don't go hunting or donate it to "Hunters against Hunger" ie the local orphanages. We're recently civilized here too, but there are alot of poor counties toward Arkansas where people depend on being able to add game of all kinds to the freezer. I don't think alot of people on the coasts realize how much since only the trophy hunters wind up on TV.

I don't think anyone in their right mind would consider an AK a hunting weapon but the various threats to ban them has alot of people I know buying them and stashing them in the attic as an investment.

I'm on the coast (northeast). Don't confuse the big cities with the rest of the northeastern states. Politically and culturally, the rural areas (yes, they do exist) are very different from the urban areas. Small towns in upstate and western NY have a lot more in common with poor counties in Arkansas than with NYC.

However, I live in a recently rural area that has become pretty suburbanized. It's a place in transition. Most men (and many women) have at least some experience hunting. Many have given it up, or hunt much less, because their spouse or kids don't care for game, or because they've decided they just don't like to kill animals. It's also a lot of work to butcher and prepare an animal. Not to mention messy. People don't have time to cook from scratch any more, let alone do their own butchering. My friend will often do the butchering for friends, in exchange for some (even most) of the meat. Families are small these days; they can't eat a 200 lb. deer, especially when the kids prefer McNuggets. And they don't have the freezer space to store it. (My friend does.) Some families live off venison shot during hunting season, but for most these days, it's something you eat during hunting season, as a kind of special thing.

Actually, one can get a high % of calories from the garden in season. My guess is my parents get 75% in season (fats from other sources & milk the primary other calories).

Sweet corn is one garden staple that expands the calories.

Tomatoes, squash, okra, sweet corn, melons (various), peanuts (not in recent years), peas (English, black eye), beans (snap, Great Northern, navy, red, black ...), peppers (green & hot), potatoes (not in recent years), sweet potatoes/yams, turnips (greens & roots), lettuce & spinach, apples (from trees), a few blackberries (semi-wild).

Best Hopes for home gardens,


Most of the american calories comes from animal fat and sugar.

If one is serious about growing their own calories one needs to decide where they will come from .. animal muscle and fats or grains and vegetable oil

Obviously, people who grow their own food do not eat the typical American diet. That doesn't mean they don't exist.

Staples, IME, are usually potatoes in the northeast and corn in the south. It's hard to grow enough wheat to live off as a staple, but potatoes keep well in the cool north, and corn is a traditional staple in the south. Tortillas, cornbread, etc.

Most of the american calories comes from animal fat and sugar

Not my parents and not I (an influence of my upbringing).

Large quantities of vegetables and some non-local vegetable oil (olive oil and avocados for me) will get one to 2,000 calories. No cane sugar in my home and little used in my parents home. Orange juice is my main source of sugars with sweet corn a close second.

My at home diet is mostly veggies with some fruit, dining out in New Orleans is QUITE different. When caring for my father after knee surgery (and harvesting the garden) I noted that they averaged 7 to 8 different fruits and vegetables/day.

My parents do have a ritual of 2 oz of meat at dinner (sometimes lunch as well). A sausage link, a slice of ham, a chicken leg, etc. Since he raises 400 head of cattle, they could butcher their own but could not eat it before freezer burn (a neighbor used to give them some meat when he butchered a yearling till he died).

Today, Raisin Bran with skim milk and orange juice for breakfast (coffee with skim milk & Equal sweetener after breakfast), mid-morning snack of a banana, lunch was local Creole tomato with homemade cottage cheese (made that morning at corner grocery store, best when fresh), two carrots for afternoon snack, sauteed squash in olive oil with red wine (Merlot) and microwaved ear of corn in shuck for early dinner and avocado with lemon juice for late dinner. Another glass of orange juice to sip on mid-day.

Best Hopes for Fine Dining :-)


No one alive in the US has grown their own food. There might have been a few in the last generation.

I have read a lot of dumb things on Drumbeats in the last three years, but this is by far the very dumbest. I was born in a sharecroppers shack in rural North Alabama and we grew virtually all our food! And we continued to grow most of our own food until I graduated from high school and left home in 1957. And a lot of people in that part of the country still grow their own food.

Where do you come from Jmygann, that you could make such a very dumb statement?

Ron Patterson

I am in Northern California

Who are the folks who grow "vitually" ALL their food ? what do you mean by "virtually" ?

How do I contact them to find out what they eat on a daily basis? 2000+ calories /day

Or you may know ? What is their staple ? Any links or pictures or address or phone number ?

My point is that there is no one left in the USA who has the experience of growing their own food ...

Virtually means almost all their own food. We had hogs, we had cows, we had chickens and we grew all our potatoes and other vegetables. We bought our coffee and a few other items. It had always been that way up until less than 50 years ago. We don't grow coffee or tea or bananas and a couple of other items in Alabama. But anything we did not grow we could have very easily done without. We bought sugar but we could have gotten by without it if necessary. Our neighbors had bees and we could have gotten honey for sweetener.

We killed hogs in early winter and cured enough pork to last us all year. Occasionally we would kill a beef but chickens and hogs were our staple meat. We milked the cows and churned our own butter. We got eggs from our own chickens.

That's the way it was in the rural south fifty years ago. And I am not going to send you any pictures because it is obvious you haven't a frigging clue as to what you are talking about. I will not waste any more time on such a person.

Ron Patterson

Ron no reason to get angry.

I was actually raised by a sharecropper's wife as a young child this would be in the 1970's and they grew all of their own food. I noticed you missed squirrels and rabbits I remember squirrel was served pretty often.
Also you missed fish and crawfish which formed a good part of the diet.

Wheat flour was bought along with sugar and tea coffee etc. Corn flour was sometimes bought or ground from a local crop. I don't remember anyone grinding their own flour everyone used the mill that was in the local COP.

Holly Springs Mississippi.


I used to play in the attic of the old railroad depot in the picture.
It was the best time of my life.

My comment was that no one is currently doing it , that I am aware of.

I have heard of people in the past doing all their food growing , but not presently , as you state ....(fifty years ago)

As far as "such a person" , where do you suggest I look to find someone who is growing their diet ?

I have been researching this and gardening for 40 years .
BS degree and teaching credential in Agriculture ... Got to approx 99% of my diet

I originally responded to the posted article A doomer's garden http://www.energybulletin.net/45239.html

"“If there’s a problem with the food supply, I’ll just garden,” you say! If the Peak comes and causes disruptions in the food supply, your Hubbert Victory garden will see you through the winter months. .......

"This is a nice fantasy, but I would ask the more serious to do a simple survey. Each of us likely has a friend who has a fairly large garden. Ask him or her what percentage of their family’s yearly food intake comes from the garden – I would be astounded if any say more than two percent. "

Re: water in Spain (link up top, also published here).

Note some issues analogous to oil's present and future:

A black market:

... farmers are fighting developers over water rights. They are fighting each other over who gets to water their crops. And in a sign of their mounting desperation, they are buying and selling water like gold on a burgeoning black market.

Export Land Model:

The thousands of wells - most of them illegal - that have in the past temporarily quenched thirst have depleted underground water so much, so fast, that soon pumps will not reach it. Water from northern Spain that was once transferred here has slowed to a trickle, because wetter northern provinces are drying up, too.

Corruption, and blaming the messenger:

The scramble for water has set off scandals. Local officials are in prison for taking payoffs to grant building permits in places where water is inadequate. Chema Gil, a journalist who exposed one such scheme, has been subject to death threats, carries pepper spray and is guarded day and night by the Guardia Civil, Spain's military police force.

For those who missed it, my buddy Aaron Task and his cohort Henry Blodget discussed Hank Paulson's "begging tour" of the Middle East in their Yahoo Finance podcast today, and ridiculed the U.S. policies that put us in the position we now find ourselves in...

Sure-things would have turned out a lot better with Henry Blodget in charge of US policies-good thing the public has the memory of a large mouth bass.

GM sales down 27.5% in May, led by a sharp drop in SUV and pickup sales.

Some May auto and truck sales data is out.

GM: down 27.5% from 371,056 to 268,892
Toyota: down 4.3% to 257,40
Ford: down 16.0% from 259,470 to 217,998
Honda: up 15.6% to 167,997
Chrysler: down 25% from 199,393 to 148,747
Nissan: up 8.4% to 100,874
Mazda: up 4.2% to 27,921
Daimler: up 12.4% to 24,480

E. Swanson

EU biofuel objectives require that in 2020 10 percent of Europe's transport fuels should be biofuels. In 2005 the EU consumed 14.7 million barrels of oil a day, about 3/4 of the United States oil consumption (EIA).

Much of the current EU biofuels program was reliant on rapeseed/canola oil and soybean oil for biofuels. Since the United States paid a subsidy of 1 dollar per gallon of biodiesel produced, biodiesel was produced in the United States at tax payers' expense then shipped to Europe in order for them to comply with EU objectives. Europe was discussing dropping requirements for biofuels all together. Thus if market economics allow, the fuels might be produced, if not they may not be produced.


Environmental groups were complaining about biofuels as they increased green house emissions and sped the deforestation of rain forests.

Canada required 10 percent ethanol blending by 2010 and was making ethanol with local and imported corn.

The United States was yet requiring massive efforts to produce ethanol subsidized by tax payers and yielding a much lower gas mileage product than gasoline iwth high energy inputs that may be contributing to higher natural gas prices. Since the blending is mandatory even though the industry has other compounds available to reduce pollution, the program to produce ethanol is potentially abusive to United States citizens.

Biofuels were produced in a number of countries (2005):


There's a recent presentation from Michael R. Smith from Energyfiles LTD.

Oil Resources & Peak

Recommended for newcomers. Here's an animation taster:

"Dakota Oil Fields of Saudi-Sized Reserves Make Farmers Drillers"

yes and i know this is true because rush limbaugh said so.

A N.D. wheat farmer was so overjoyed to get his monthly royalty check worth tens of thousands of dollars that he drove to town and bought a beer:


Owning oil is better than playing the lotto. Oil that is not the same as buying little commodity trading slips that are supposed to give you the right to buy oil at a certain price, but the actual oil in the ground.

In view of your anti ethanol rant up thread, do you suppose that corn farmers could view their crop as the same as owning oil?

I do.

It is better in some ways because there is less risk and it is renewable. Those who oppose ethanol are in effect trying to take the property rights of corn farmers away just as surely as taking the drilling rights for oil away from oil producers.

Corn is stored energy just like oil. It can be burnt. In can be fed to animals. It can be exported. And it can be made into ethanol to power cars. When ideologues try to limit the use of corn they are stealing property rights.

And please do not repeat subsidy arguments since oil is grossly more subsidized than ethanol.

I will repeat.

Without MASSIVE gov't subsidies, corn based ethanol would be uneconomic.

And sugar cane ethanol is much cheaper than corn ethanol.

we should 1) eliminate federal subsidies for ethanol and 2) dramatically reduce tariff on sugar cane ethanol so it can compete for oxygenates required in polluted areas.

Best Hopes for no more corn ethanol,


Sixty percent of your oil was imported. Oil produced on U.S. soil was taxed accordingly as income. Oil companies paid for leases on Federal Lands, paid production royalites, then paid Federal, State, and Local taxes. Any oil sold by an oil company in a company gas station was subject to oil taxes. Any property owned by an oil company was subject to property taxes. Gas was taxed but did not receive fifty cents per gallon subsidies. The corn ethanol producers get a fifty cent subsidy, the biodiesel refiners get a dollar subsidy on every gallon produced. The oil company does not get one red cent of subsidies per gallon.

There is no law requiring people to use gasoline. They buy it rather than 100% ethanol because it gets better gas mileage for the price. If ethanol were good they could make it without any subsidies. There is no law against making ethanol. If it were better than other oxidizing agents available they would not need a law requiring only ethanol as a fuel oxidizing agent.

To require 44% of the U.S. corn crop to be used as a fuel that is shown in some studies to have a negative EROEI is poor planning.

Biodiesel may be a worse alternative than ethanol. My most recent research indicates 20% of the soybean oil was being used for biodiesel, and probably primarily for export as England and Germany have required biofuel use.

http://www.zmag.org/zmag/viewArticle/17820 (Under the heading "The Dot-Corn Bubble." -- ZMag June 2)

Forcing people to use corn ethanol when there are better fuels on the market is a violation of property rights.

UK fishers stage fuel prices demonstration

Fishers today protested in London over the soaring fuel costs they claim will have a "horrendous" effect on the hard-pressed industry.

The National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations (NFFO) and the Scottish Fishermen's Federation (SFF) are calling on the government to put together a short-term survival package for the fishing industry.

For frugalists, bargain hunting is a lifestyle

Americans produce about 4.6 pounds of waste per person per day — or nearly a ton a year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

For many who get their essentials secondhand or for free, one motivation is that they are disgusted by such waste. But their lifestyle is dependent on the consumer culture that they reject.

If Americans didn’t demand pristine produce and bread baked fresh daily, there would be little for Dumpster divers to find. And if we didn’t lust for new couches long before the old springs had gone soft, and new jeans months before their current ones had developed holes, there would be little for thrift store aficionados and garage sale lovers to buy.

My next door neighbor makes his living by buying storage sheds at auction when the renters fail to make their payments. He also shops at garage sales and dumpster dives. He resells the stuff at flea markets, ebay, etc. He has been doing this exclusively for the last seven years. As the economy worsens, his business gets better.

The Times has an article about Kurzweil today:

The Future Is Now? Pretty Soon, at Least

Worried about greenhouse gas emissions? Have faith. Solar power may look terribly uneconomical at the moment, but with the exponential progress being made in nanoengineering, Dr. Kurzweil calculates that it’ll be cost-competitive with fossil fuels in just five years, and that within 20 years all our energy will come from clean sources.

Are you depressed by the prospect of dying? Well, if you can hang on another 15 years, your life expectancy will keep rising every year faster than you’re aging. And then, before the century is even half over, you can be around for the Singularity, that revolutionary transition when humans and/or machines start evolving into immortal beings with ever-improving software.

I keep hearing about this nanotechnology for solar. I think I read on a previous DB about the Germans and the Japanese collaborating on something ... again 5-10 years away. Anyone have the lowdown on what is being developed here, what the current issue/obstacles are about with bringing it to fruition? Kurzweil may well be a genius and big time dreamer...good luck to him and us all...hope he isn't just whistling Jiminy Crickett.

Hmmm ... then when I read the Archdruid Report, it doesn't sound like that at all. "Artificial Intelligence" has been just-around-the-corner for my entire adult life. It was this or that new language or clever algorithm that would be the breakthrough and then we'd have our appliances talking back to us like they do on the Jetsons. (come to think of it, the reason they don't is because people won't buy a sassy appliance -- the technology is actually somewhat available)

Sorry Ray, I think the Archdruid is correct. Might not be what you want to hear, but for me it has the ring of truth. :)

Oil's down big time again today, maybe the happy motoring utopia can survive. Oh I forgot, I'm not an economist so I actually have to pay attention to reality, nevermind.

On a more serious note the last gas price survey had an option for a trading range of $114 - $140.

Who knows.

On a less serious note below re: Pancake Bunny.




Hello BillP,

Great cartoon! How about reposting the artwork of the postPeak kids hunting a wild herd of empty grocery carts? :)

You got it.

This was copied from the late Dr J Orlin Grabbe's website.

Hello TODers,

Sorry, problems with my ISP have greatly reduced my surfing time, so please forgive me if this has already been posted [please see photos:

The wheelbarrow-bike that could be the solution to school-run traffic jams
Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

China Sulfur Market Report, 2008

Downstream companies in China have all taken the response measures to deal with increasingly unbearable pressure of soaring sulfur prices. Some sulfur manufacturers have started to produce acid by using sulfurous iron ore to replace sulfur. Furthermore, the successive rises in sulfur price have made potassium sulfate companies have no other choices except price hikes and made the price of potassium sulfate compound fertilizer also raised, hitting the new record high.
As posted before: if we are now postPeak, and ELM and FF-depletion kick in with a vengeance, then sulfur and I-NPK flowrates will not grow unless we globally prioritize, then redirect energy flows to maintain this [mine, beneficiate, distribute, plant, harvest, beneficiate, distribute process]. IMO, this depletion negates most of the rest of this article's commentary. Time will tell.

Have you hugged your bag of NPK today?

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

COMMENTARY-Talking Transportation
Doomsday: What happens when gas is $10 a gallon

For decades we’ve lived (and driven) in denial, somehow assuming we have the “right” to cheap gas, and therefore, low-cost transportation. Now it’s time to face reality and consider what will happen when (not if) gas hits $10 a gallon....

...For more, see LifeAfterTheOilcrash.net and OilCrashMovie.com or just Google “peak oil.”
Glad see this honest discussion to help spur Peak Outreach.

I am sure most of you are aware of this, but YouTube is loaded with Peak Oil stuff-you can literally burn hours watching some pretty compelling filmmaking.

This is probably discussion for tomorrow, or its own new thread

McCain launches general election bid with eye on oil


"The next president must be willing to break completely with the energy policies not just of the Bush Administration, but the administrations that preceded his, and lead a great national campaign to put us on a course to energy independence," McCain said in a copy of prepared remarks he was to deliver later on Tuesday.

"No problem is more urgent today than America's dependence on foreign oil," he said, adding that the problem threatened the U.S. economy, its security, and the environment.

"We must unleash the creativity and genius of Americans, and encourage industries to pursue alternative, non-polluting and renewable energy sources, where demand will never exceed supply," McCain said.

Hmmm...now that it will be McCain and Obama...is it safe for them to talk about the taboo topic of our "energy crisis"? We shall see who gets to frame and who gets framed first. It is dangerous waters for any would-be prez candidate to tread (the topic, not the framing), but the country is ready for it I think. God knows, we at TOD have been ready for about 3 years now.

Haven't you heard, there is no energy crisis? We just need to drill more oil and build more windmills, gee that was easy.

Nonono. Build more nuclear power plants. Windmills are for green treehugging hippies. Real men use nukes :)