DrumBeat: June 4, 2008

Bernanke: Country won't spill into 1970s-like oil shocks

WASHINGTON — Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Wednesday he does not believe the United States will experience the out-of-control prices seen with 1970s oil shocks.

...Back then, the economy suffered from a dangerous combination of stubborn inflation and stagnant growth. There are fears today that the U.S. may be heading in that direction again.

"We see little indication today of the beginnings of a 1970s-style wage-price spiral, in which wages and prices chased each other ever upward," Bernanke said at Harvard.

Magellan Shuts Kansas City Pipeline System After Fire

(Bloomberg) -- Magellan Midstream Partners L.P., a U.S. oil products distributor, shut its main pipeline system in Kansas City after a fire erupted in a gasoline storage tank, cutting supplies to consumers in Iowa and Nebraska.

Saudi Arabia Raises Price for Lightest Oil to Record for U.S.

(Bloomberg) -- Saudi Aramco, the world's largest state oil company, will increase prices for its lightest crude oil exports for the U.S. to a record in July.

Aramco increased the price formula for Arab Extra Light exports to the U.S. in July to a premium of $2.40 a barrel above the West Texas Intermediate benchmark, compared with a discount of $1.45 in June, the Dhahran, Saudi Arabia-based company said in a faxed statement. That is the biggest ever premium.

Oil falls after government says gas demand is down

NEW YORK - Oil prices extended their drop from record highs Wednesday, falling to the $122 level after the Energy Department said gasoline demand fell sharply last week.

Retail gas prices, meanwhile, rose to a new record above $3.98 a gallon and are likely to hit $4 in coming days, although oil prices have retreated nearly $13 from last month's record levels.

OPEC's Crude Oil Production Rose 0.9% in May, Survey Shows

(Bloomberg) -- The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries increased oil production 0.9 percent in May as Iraqi output climbed to a pre-war high, a Bloomberg News survey showed.

Total Says Tougher Oil-Sands Laws May Hinder Global Supply

(Bloomberg) -- Tougher environmental rules governing production from Canada's oil-sands region will contribute to a global crude supply crunch, Total SA Chief Executive Officer Christophe de Margerie said.

``Alberta was considered the most cowboyish'' among oil producers in the past, de Margerie told French deputies at a finance hearing in the National Assembly in Paris today. That was before legislation to tighten environmental regulations concerning the tar-like sands was proposed, he said.

Seven Questions: The New World Energy Order

Fatih Birol: We publish a book every year, World Energy Outlook (WEO), that lays out strategies related to energy and climate change. For this year’s WEO, we wanted to look at oil-supply prospects, as there are a lot of question marks. So, we are looking at 400 top oil fields, on a field-by-field basis, asking how much oil we can realistically expect to come to market. We not only look at the geological part of the issue, but also the economics. We are going to publish our study on the 12th of November, so I don’t know the results yet. What I can tell you is that what we are experiencing in the last few years—high prices, lack of investment in many areas, and the significant decline rates, especially in the North Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and elsewhere—will be considered.

We are entering a new world energy order. Today, demand for oil is dominated by China, India, and even by the Middle East countries themselves. The main actors of the recent past — namely the OECD countries, rich countries, the United States, Europe, Japan — their time is passé. It’s over.

Texas wind farms choked off from grid due to insufficient power lines

Thousands of wind turbines in the US are sitting idle or failing to meet their full generating capacity because of a shortage of power lines able to transmit their electricity to the rest of the grid.

Guzzling up their way of life

Fuel costs may be frustrating city-dwellers, but in rural Canada it's a much grimmer picture. Gas prices are virtually doubling community budgets and driving farmers to question their profession.

Australia: Power-hungry gadgets add hundreds to electricity bills

While energy-rating labels have been mandatory for whitegoods since the late 1980s, computing goods remain immune. Some, such as a Sony PlayStation 3, cost five times as much to run as an average-sized refrigerator. That translates to about $250 a year, said Christopher Zinn, spokesman for the consumer group Choice, which has conducted tests on 16 popular computer gadgets.

While a PlayStation was unlikely to be left on and idle permanently, Mr Zinn conceded, even a standard personal computer, an item invariably left on while not in use (on active standby) could be almost three times more expensive to run than the average refrigerator.

Fuel costs a major concern for schools

While Arkansas lawmakers are deadlocked over whether to provide relief to school districts suffering from increased fuel costs, the state’s public schools, including the Forrest City School District, are facing the reality.

Norwegian Oil Workers Agree on Wage Deal

Norwegian oil worker unions have reached agreement with employer representatives on a new wage deal for offshore work, averting a strike, the Norwegian Oil Industry Association (OLF) said on Wednesday.

Peruvian Natural Gas Output Rose to a Record in May

(Bloomberg) -- Peru's natural-gas production rose to a record in May as power plants operated by Endesa SA and Suez SA increased gas purchases.

Gas output jumped to 338.8 million cubic feet a day, an increase of 21 percent from the previous month, on production gains at the Camisea and Aguaytia fields, state oil-licensing agency Perupetro said today in an e-mailed statement.

Mexico Pemex urges law to help deep-sea drilling

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's state oil company urged lawmakers on Tuesday to approve an energy reform to spur on deepwater production after a key opposition party threatened to water down the government proposal.

Carlos Morales, head of exploration and production at oil monopoly Pemex, said that going after crude oil in the deepest parts of the Gulf of Mexico was crucial to maintaining output levels as Mexico's largest oil fields decline.

Brazil Oil Regulator Seeks Revision in Production Tax Rules

Brazil's government should revise surcharges on oil production by private sector companies to increase state revenues, the director of the country's National Petroleum Agency regulatory body, Haroldo Lima, said Tuesday.

Speaking before the Brazilian Senate Economic Affairs committee, Lima said the increase of oil prices together with the recent discovery of large offshore oil reserves has made revision of taxes on oil production, known as "special participation," an urgent matter.

Pakistan: Shopkeepers defy government order

Almost all shopkeepers have been keeping their outlets open till late hours in defiance of the energy conservation plan announced by the federal government.

According to the plan, it is mandatory for all shopkeepers to close down their outlets at 9 p.m. from June 1 to August 31 to help overcome the problem of electricity loadshedding.

Most outlets in shopping plazas of the city remain open after 9 p.m. contrary to directives issued by the government with a large number of shoppers turning up till late night.

Pakistan: JI women rally against price hike

LAHORE: Jamat-e-Islami (JI) Pakistan Lahore Chapter Women Wing Tuesday took out a rally in protest against the rising prices, unemployment, lawlessness and power outages and demanded the government ensure relief to the poor.

Pakistan: Citizens protest against loadshedding

KARACHI - The residents of Khadda Marke, Khyaban-e-Shamsher and DHA staged protest demonstration against the suspension of electricity. They blocked the local roads by burning tyres and old furniture for hours. The protesters were chanting slogans against the KESC management and demanded immediate restoration of electricity.

The End of Cheap Oil

According to Duennebier, the United States is the most fossil-fuel-dependent (oil) nation on Earth, and Hawai‘i is the most oil-dependent state in the nation. He called Hawai‘i the “canary in the coal mine” when it comes to energy dependence. The phrase refers to the practice of miners who often brought a live canary in a cage into a mine. If the bird died due to gases or bad air, it was time to get out.

Eighty-five percent of Hawai‘i’s food and staples travel to the state on ships that burn oil. Burning oil produces 78 percent of Hawai‘i’s electricity.

Oil crisis, meet water crisis

Almost three decades ago, President Jimmy Carter said the following words in a nationally televised address: "The energy crisis is real. It is worldwide. It is a clear and present danger to our nation. These are facts, and we simply must face them."

America saw the facts and looked away. Now, 30 years on, we're entering another energy crisis, this one not caused by OPEC but by the rigid law of supply and demand. And the nation is in a worse position to meet the challenge.

Lester Brown: Falling Water Tables, Falling Harvests

Scores of countries are overpumping aquifers as they struggle to satisfy their growing water needs. The drilling of millions of irrigation wells has pushed water withdrawals beyond recharge rates, in effect leading to groundwater mining. The failure of governments to limit pumping to the sustainable yield of aquifers means that water tables are now falling in countries that contain more than half the world’s people, including the big three grain producers—China, India, and the United States.

Start-up takes over abandoned ethanol project

LA BELLE — An alternative-energy start-up setting up shop in Vero Beach will take over an ethanol project that agricultural giant Alico Inc. dropped this week.

Late Monday, Alico, headquartered in La Belle, announced that it no longer will explore the development of an ethanol plant, saying that the risk associated with the project outweighs any "reasonably anticipated benefits for Alico."

Futurist Jeremy Rifkin and the Future of Work

Futurist Jerry Rifkin, president of the Foundation or Economic Trends in Washington, D.C., painted a bleak picture of the future of the world unless almost immediate steps are taken to reduce global warming and the carbon footprint the human species has left on the earth. While other ages have been known as the Stone Age and the Bronze Age, Rifkin said our age will be the Fossil Fuel Age. We will be known as the Fossil Fuel People, he says.

According to Rifkin, climate change, increasing inflation and debt, increasing political instability in oil-producing countries and the growing divide between the very rich and the very poor is contributing to a species – ours – that is on the brink of extinction unless the mindset of every citizen of the world begins to change.

Total Says Jubail Refinery Will Cost Close to $12 Bl

``There is no official figure for the simple reason that it doesn't yet exist,'' Chief Executive Officer Christophe de Margerie told journalists after a speaking to a commission at the French National Assembly today in Paris.

Earlier he had told the French deputies the investment would be ``close to $12 billion,'' higher than an estimate of ``more than $10 billion'' given last month.

``Costs are spiralling upward,'' he said, reiterating that he doesn't want to ``send a message to contractors'' by giving an estimate that may send prices even higher.

Australia: When the fuel runs out

The Opposition’s demand that Mr Rudd somehow guarantee cheap petrol is as foolish as the government’s lack of initiatives in the face of the crisis at our doorstep.

With world oil production stagnating and skyrocketing demand from China and India, the problem every government has been warned about and has been aware of for the past two decades is upon us.

The Science of Denial

The Bush administration has worked overtime to manipulate or conceal scientific evidence — and muzzled at least one prominent scientist — to justify its failure to address climate change.

Its motives were transparent: the less people understood about the causes and consequences of global warming, the less they were likely to demand action from their leaders. And its strategy has been far too successful. Seven years later, Congress is only beginning to confront the challenge of global warming.

Global Net Oil Exports in Decline

Much has been written recently about the “Export Land Model” [ELM] of Jeffrey Brown, most of it by Mr. Brown himself. The model hypothesizes a country that has declining oil production and increasing oil consumption.

...At first blush the information is alarming, showing a decline of about 1 mb/d in net oil exports in both 2006 and 2007. On closer analysis, however, the chart is less chilling. Here’s why...

New Zealand: Future still seen for private cars

The onset of peak oil - the point at which half the earth's oil supply has been extracted - may not mean the need for roading infrastructure is any less important, Dunedin City Council transportation planning manager Don Hill says. Asked why the council was embarking on major roading upgrades when oil production was set to decline, and countries such as India and China were using more oil as they grew exponentially, he said government policy accepted people were unlikely to give up the freedom of their vehicles.

But he said there was "frightening" future of declining oil reserves, and he expected New Zealand's vehicle fleet would make the transition to electric vehicles before long.

Crude Oil Crisis Coming to an End?

It's no coincidence that a meaningful top in the crude oil price occurred very close to the last presidential election in 2004. This time should be no different as the oil price must come down in order for the massive bail-out and economic relief efforts to take full effect. It is doubtful in the highest that the market controllers would allow a persistent rise in the crude oil price to wreck the economy. Don't be deceived – the oil price is governed by artificial manipulation of supply and demand, not “Peak Oil” as some would have us believe.

Concerning the Peak Oil myth, here's what noted economist Ed Yardeni recently had to say on the topic: “The peak oil hysteria may have triggered a short-covering rally by commercial accounts, i.e., hedgers, who couldn't take any more margin calls or couldn't stand the pain of being locked into prices of $100 or less. While all this has been happening, the oil market ignored rapidly mounting evidence that prices between $100-$150 rather than $150-$200 may be starting to dampen demand and boost supply.”

Energy delusions coming home to roost

"We can ignore reality," author Ayn Rand once said, "but we cannot ignore the consequences of ignoring reality."

That's as good a description of the problem of high fuel prices as you will find. For years, we have ignored the reality of shrinking supplies and burgeoning demand, and now we are stuck with the consequences.

The Oil Pimps

As America feels the growing pain at the pump they need to realize that it is not going to get better—ever...unless we follow the world's lead, nationalize the oil industry, freeze oil prices, and send the oil pimps packing.

Oil price bubble will burst with a bang like dot-com did

The steep run-up in crude prices this year has been compared with the dot-com period of the previous decade with an equally severe fall in the per-barrel cost of oil forecast.

"It is difficult to project when market perceptions will turn from the current bullish sentiment. It will almost certainly take a persistent stock build. It might also take a rise in the dollar against the euro and the psychological impact that could have over time," investment bank Lehman Brothers said in an oil market report released yesterday.

What $4 gas means: Aside from pain, it makes drilling more likely

It is a dubious benchmark to be sure, but central Pennsylvania's introduction to $4 gasoline at the pump last weekend should serve as a necessary wake-up call that the era of cheap oil is history and that we all need to adjust to the new energy reality.

Peak Oil, Peak Food and Peak Everything Else

The world keeps turning and the resources get used up. It’s really quite simple.

Despite that fact, the debates rage over Peak Oil, Peak Food and peak everything else. It’s about as sensible as rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. So the “experts” continue to debate whether or not resources are running low. But the evidence is pretty clear, at least to this trader.

Is an Energy Armageddon Coming by 2015?

Recently, the world's top energy market watchdog, the International Energy Agency (IEA) forecast a major crude oil supply crunch. In other words, they're predicting a potential energy Armageddon within the next 7 years! According to the Wall Street Journal, the revised forecast from the IEA "reflects deepening pessimism over whether oil companies can keep abreast of booming demand." Can anybody say, "Peak Oil?"

Can We Dig It? Should We Dig It?

The fight is on. No, not the primary election. I mean, yeah, that's on too, finally. But I'm referring to a different battle, the battle for the world's energy future. And it's going to get dirty.

Randy Udall: Love takes to the less-traveled road

Cheap oil is not endangered; it is extinct. From now on, we’re bidding against the Chinese, and by 2010, the strike price may be $180 a barrel, which means gasoline will be $5 the gallon. Diesel might well be $6. That’s a different world for long-distance commuters, airlines, tractor-reliant ranchers and farmers, semi-truck drivers, grocery shoppers, house-boat operators on Lake Powell, owners of gargantuan RVs. Traffic jams in Glacier National Park might ease, and Las Vegas’ growth may slow. U.S. 50, the “loneliest road in America,” may get lonelier.

Oil, the 21st Century dot.com boom

The current market conditions are a product of complex interactions and while most analysts believe oil prices will remain high over the short-term, there are hints this may not be its permanent price floor. "The long-term case for higher oil prices is still intact," says Bob Doll, global chief investment officer for equities of BlackRock. "Rising demand in China and other developing markets, coupled with shrinking global supply, means that the era of cheap oil is, unfortunately, over. We do, however, continue to believe that oil is due for a near-term correction or consolidation."

Reports: United to Ground 737s, 747s to Save Fuel

United Airlines plans to ground dozens of its least fuel-efficient aircraft in an effort to conserve cash and cope with spiraling fuel prices, according to published reports.

...The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed people familiar with the situation, reported that the plan will lead to a large but undetermined number of furloughs of union workers and a major reduction of routes.

Stay home, read, have sex

It should be a truly fascinating — albeit possibly enormously grim — thing to watch, one of the more dramatic and revolutionary market-driven shifts in modern history, upheaving everything we've become so accustomed to and changing behaviors and attitudes and alliances and political agendas and ass-girths and no I'm not talking about the "Lost" finale or the new 3G iPhone or how Brangelina's twins are a sure sign of the Second Coming.

It's the massive, painful spike in gas and oil prices, that most wonderful/frightening harbinger of doom/change/turmoil known to modern society that is fast turning into a calamitous global hurricane, ready to wreak havoc on just about every aspect of modern life, and that includes food and transport and sex and drugs and rock 'n' roll and just about everything else that makes America, America.

Going Primitive Isn't ‘Progress'

It's disturbing that some have embraced the hysterical conclusions of climate change proponents and those opposed to using fossil fuels by radically altering their lifestyles. Leaving the amenities of our culture for the deprivation our ancestors struggled to move beyond is not progress. Would our lives be better without the advances of the Industrial Revolution and the ensuing technological developments? I don't think so, but many of these people seem to disagree.

A New Day Dawning

The good news is that we could conceivably avoid disaster. The far worse news is that we almost certainly will not. There are just too many wealthy and powerful corporate interests invested in denial and in business as usual, and these interests control our government and our media.

The biofuel solution

Global food shortages have made biofuels unpopular, but it remains an open question whether they do more harm than good.

Fliers in for pain as airlines pack it in

The USA's air-travel map is shrinking fast, dropping scores of routes and flights that airlines simply can't afford anymore in a world of $130-a-barrel oil.

A USA TODAY analysis of fall airline schedules shows the nation's most popular vacation destinations will be among the biggest air-service losers. Many flights to Honolulu, Orlando, Las Vegas and other favorite vacation venues have vanished or will soon because cheap tickets bought by tourists don't cover the cost of getting there.

Already Stunned by Gas Prices, Shockingly High Electricity Prices May Await Americans This Summer

Americans may pay a lot more for electricity this summer, federal energy officials and the spot power market indicate. Worst hit could be the Northeast, especially the area from Boston to New York City, where forward prices from the InterContinental Exchange for July-August 2008 have been running up to 75% and higher over year-ago levels.

Farmers switch from diesel-powered irrigation

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Under pressure from diesel prices that have doubled in the last year, farmers in the arid regions of the United States are increasingly abandoning the fuel in favor of electricity to run their irrigation systems.

"Farmers are just switching off (their diesel engines) as fast as they can," said Wade Hill, owner of the diesel distributor Happy Jack's Petroleum in Brule, Nebraska.

Farmers in the dry areas of Kansas and Nebraska, as well as the Texas panhandle, depend on pumps powered by either diesel, natural gas, or electricity, to draw water out of wells to water their crops.

Drivers choose cars over trucks as auto sales plunge

Cars outsold the top-selling Ford F-series truck in May for the first time since 1992, a sign of the rapid shift in customers' preferences from trucks and SUVs to small cars that is forcing painful production cuts and plant closures at General Motors and Ford Motor.

For a generation, pickups and SUVs have symbolized a rugged, oversized, no-holds-barred American lifestyle.

Tuesday, automakers made it clear that consumers are hitting the brakes on their love affair with the hardiest, roomiest — and thirstiest — vehicles.

Auto sales plunge in face of $4 gas

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- U.S. auto sales tumbled in May as buyers fled from pickups and sport utility vehicles in the face of average gas prices that are now just shy of $4 a gallon.

GM sets sales, fuel-efficiency sights on smaller wheels

General Motors is responding to swiftly changing consumer demands for more fuel-efficient vehicles by increasing production at some plants, closing others, and exploring whether to sell its once-beloved Hummer brand.

Marketers say 'tanks' for buying with gifts of gas

With the economy in the slow lane, a growing range of businesses are using free fuel to try to drive sales.

Institutional investors cited in rising oil prices

NEW YORK — The list of culprits to blame for $4 gas and $125 oil keeps getting longer.

Oil-thirsty China and India get most of the blame. The declining U.S. dollar, tight supplies, geopolitics and hurricanes also are on the villains list.

Last week, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) alleged that market "manipulators" may be partly responsible for the spike in crude oil and that an investigation is underway.

The latest scapegoat: institutional investors that are pouring billions into index funds pegged to a broad basket of commodities, including crude oil, exacerbating the price gains.

Two tribes differ on approach to energy riches

CROW AGENCY, Montana (Reuters) - For many decades the rival neighboring American Indian Crow and Northern Cheyenne tribes have suffered high unemployment and poverty in a remote area of one of the most remote U.S. states.

Now the Crow are starting to develop the energy riches on their reservation -- including billions of dollars worth of coal, oil and gas -- in an effort to end poverty, while the Northern Cheyenne say widespread extraction of coal or other natural resources could threaten their reservation.

Oil Tax Exposes Democrats' Economic Illiteracy

(Bloomberg) -- With President George W. Bush's popularity fluctuating between that of a mosquito and a root canal, some Democrats inside the Beltway are beginning to express extreme optimism. Democratic victories in November, so the story goes, may be so large that sweeping policy changes will be possible in 2009.

A look at the latest Senate energy bill suggests how fundamentally perilous such an outcome would be for the U.S.

World leaders get down to nitty-gritty on food price crisis

ROME (AFP) - World leaders meeting in Rome were to focus Wednesday on the roles of biofuels, trade practices and global warming in the food price crisis that is threatening more hunger, poverty and conflict worldwide.

The Oil Story: Dallas vs. Indonesia

The bottom line is that Indonesia is running out of oil - "drying up" as Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono put it. You'd think with $100+ oil that there would be massive investment going on, but the world's oil companies may have learned a lesson. In country after country (Nigeria, Indonesia, Venezuela), issues of corruption, civil unrest or overreaching nationalism have burned the hands of big oil. How many times does Hugo Chavez have to beat up ExxonMobil before they just give up investing in the third world? So the idea that an economically crumbling, rapidly destabilizing Indonesia will be a fat target for investment seems farfetched. Exxon already couldn't break a deadlock on managing the Natuna natural gas field.

It's Not Peak Oil Production; It's Supply and Demand and Government Intervention

"In the developing world, the governments have subsidized oil consumption. This is in India, in China, in Indonesia. I think a third or a half of the world's oil is heavily subsidized by governments, and as the price went up, Daniel, those subsidies became very expensive, and now some are removing those subsidies. I think you're going to see a fairly sharp change in the demand for oil in those countries."

Peak Oil and Some Alternative Energy Investments

I believe there are less people who can understand Peak Oil Theory than those who can understand Einstein's Relativity Theory. Einstein published his theory in 1905. By 1912, it was already well accepted and his name became a household name. In 1956, King Hubert published his Peak Oil Theory, a pure and simple mathematical derivative of any presumed limited natural resource. Today, half a century has passed, and the point of Peak Oil has even just passed, but Hubert Peak is still treated as a crackpot theory by some of the best educated people on this planet.

High gasoline prices a boon for N.M. oil patch

HOBBS, N.M. - Tony Pearson can always tell when times are good in the New Mexico oil patch. It's all in the quality of goods passing through his pawn shop.

"When people bring in their good stuff, you know they'll be back quickly to get it," said Pearson, who has run TP Pawn for 20 years. "When the oilfield slows, forget it. It's junk. You might not see those folks again."

These days, Pearson's trade is looking great.

China builds plant to turn coal into barrels of oil

ERDOS, China (Reuters) - With oil prices at historic highs, China is moving full steam ahead with a controversial process to turn its vast coal reserves into barrels of oil.

US experts, activists slam Bush opposition to climate change bill

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US experts and environmental activists on Tuesday slammed President George W. Bush for threatening to veto a far-reaching climate change bill which is before the Senate for debate.

Caspian CPC May oil exports fall 9.5 pct vs April

MOSCOW, June 2 (Reuters) - Kazakh and Russian oil exports via the Caspian Pipeline Consortium to the Black Sea fell to 677,795 barrels per day in May, down by 9.5 percent from 748,947 bpd in April, the consortium said on its website.

It gave no reason for the decrease.

Ed McMahon May Lose Beverly Hills Home

Ed McMahon, the longtime sidekick to television star Johnny Carson, faces the possible loss of his Beverly Hills home to a foreclosure action initiated by a unit of Countrywide Financial Corp.

Howard Bragman, a spokesman for Mr. McMahon, said late Tuesday that his client is having "very fruitful discussions" with the lender and hopes to find a resolution. It isn't clear whether that would allow the 85-year-old Mr. McMahon and his wife, Pamela, to remain in the six-bedroom home.

I saw McMahon on a show called the Dog Whisperer a few months ago-he has a hot young wife-those aren't cheap when you are 85 years old-so I guess he's going out with a bang.

To me a young wife doesn't fully explain his predicament. According to Wikipedia he was worth 200 million in the 1990s which sounds about right for a guy who has been in show business since the 1950's He was on a show with Carson for 5 years, on the Tonight Show for 30 years, did a show with Dick Clark for 16 years, hosted Star Search for 12 years, was on a TV show with Tom Arnold for a year, was a spokesperson for Publishers Clearing House, did lots of Budweiser commercials and probably had other endorsements. Wikipedia also says he had several expensive divorce settlements, but California law only gives the spouse half of what was earned during the marriage, not even half of all assets. He hurt himself and hasn't been able to work for a a year and a half, but to go from 200 million net worth to being 644,000 dollars behind in your mortgage payments is astonishing to me. If you have a real vice, like gambling or expensive art of other collectibles, isn't their some way to put some money into a trust that pays you income but doesn't allow you to get at it?

If you have a real vice, like gambling or expensive art of other collectibles, isn't their some way to put some money into a trust that pays you income but doesn't allow you to get at it?

You don't even need a vice, real or otherwise. You just set up a trust, as I have, and once your mortgage is paid, deed your property to the trust and have it pay all related taxes/expenses. If one is wise and affluent enough, have the trust pay all your bills, insurance premiums, etc., and provide you with a stipend that allows for comfortable living without depleting the trust.

No offence to you as I am sure you are a great guy but F#@%ing A!

That people think that they can simply exist and live the American lifestyle, riding on stored wealth is a crock of O-NPK (no offence totonelia).

The one and only reason there is excess wealth to be stored and for you and many others to suck the teat of is because the US has raped and pillaged the rest of the World securing way more than our fair share of what the world has to offer , even in the face of mass death and suffering .

There is not extra.

Just as ethanol and bio-fuel in general is not sustainable because there is no waste in biomass.

Something must do without and die.

But hey, Nighty night, sleep tight

The one and only reason there is excess wealth to be stored and for you and many others to suck the teat of is because the US has raped and pillaged the rest of the World securing way more than our fair share of what the world has to offer , even in the face of mass death and suffering .

You don't think I know that as a historian of the US Empire? Have you not read my goals for the wholesale rollback of the US Empire to try and attempt to mitigate the disaster we've wrought?

What I described above is a vehicle put in place by my familial anscestors that is based upon several generations of hard won work and savings that I have the privilige of managing, along with caring for my remaining elders who built the vehicle.

I've never seen you accuse the many here who are obviously using this forum for advancing their own self interest.

For your information, I'm trying in an admittedly slow and halting fashion to establish a Lifeboat/Post-Carbon relocalized community not far to the west of Corvallis, and trying to make my community of Yachats and that of greater Lincoln county Peak Oil aware, and using funds from my Family Trust to do so. My elders are very much aware of the situation--both Peak Oil and Climate Change--and are quite alarmed, and want to do what they can through the utilization of their resources to build for the future in the best spirit of our communistic community and county. I donate the fruits of my labor on a weekly basis to retirees and Food Share. I try to teach others on other internet forums about Peak Oil, which as we all know is a thankless task in most cases.

Yes, I'm lucky. I have a modicum of security. I worked hard for it as did my ancestors. I did it through long hours managing resaturants and institutional food services, and then teaching at the community college level. My ancestors were also teachers and farmers, paternally immigrants from Spain in 1911; maternally, from Ohio and the reservations of Arizona Territory.

Yes, I'm a contradiction: a radical with affluent means. If that pisses you off, then that's your problem.

Before now, I'd hoped to meet you and talk shop; it seemed natural as we're geograpically close and actually share many ideals/goals. But now you're coming across as someone wanting to attack my farm out of envy as opposed to helping it grow and feed others not as fortunate as myself and my ancestors.

You are showing through your behavior how it's possible for good people to go bad in a Mad Max scenario. You show why Envy is one of the Seven Deadly Sins.

Not envy in the least and if you have not noticed I am very consistent on this issue. I have ranted about others using TOD as a source of inside info to cash in on.

People on this site talk about how impossible it is to get any one to move on the big issues facing the world and I watch those same people talk about how they need to protect their "store of wealth".


We will do nothing that adversely effects our wealth. The US will do nothing about GW, because it might adversely effect our wealth. The only "solutions" we will entertain re GW, PO, etc. will be ones that enhance our wealth.

Well this IS the problem is it not?

The accumulation of, and the storing of wealth is what caused the problems facing us and I do believe you understand this yet even you can only think in terms of protecting/enhancing your wealth.

My anger is not aimed at you specifically nor at wealthy in general (what is wealthy?) but at this incredibly destructive and self-destructive system we are caught up in.

I apologies for singling you out but please keep your wealth in your pocket and stop waving it around in a forum that discusses the death of millions which is decided primarily by the size of their pocketbook.

yet even you can only think in terms of protecting/enhancing your wealth.

Excuse me, but I said I'm working to utilize my family's store of accumulated wealth to enhance the lives of others, while maintaining economic security for my family. I didn't create the economic system we must operate within. I'm trying to use it to enable myself and others to break away from it as we must when it finally collapses. Altruism is the term.

And sociologically, in all primate societies, the welfare of the immediate group comes first. This forms our primary cultural behavior pattern. Some have tried to expand this fundamental caring beyond the immediate familial group to include ever larger groupings--the ultimate goal of socialism. Basicly, there are people willing to share and those who aren't. Religion tries to accomodate and mitigate this fundamental antagonism, which in most cases ends in failure.

Until the system changes into one where accumulating wealth isn't required to accomplish public goods, then it will remain the source of both good and bad deeds.

Natural selection in action. Those who have resources will try to use them to assure their survival and the survival of their families. Resources can be "wealth" or actual physical resources. The response is the same.

Don't like it? Bitch at Gaia and Darwin, not here.

GZ - you miss the point.

You bitch about the fact that nothing is being done or the wrong things are being done and I'm simply pointing out why.

I would also argue that your "triage" is occuring right now and the selections on who lives and who dies is decided by $.

Such is the way it is and always has been so if you are ok with that then sit back and watch.

I'm not ok with it not because I'm poor, I will fare better than most, I just think it stinks and if people understood this better, and they just might at some point, they are going to think it stinks too.

The one and only reason there is excess wealth to be stored and for you and many others to suck the teat of is because the US has raped and pillaged the rest of the World securing way more than our fair share of what the world has to offer , even in the face of mass death and suffering .

Can you give some examples of what you are talking about regarding "raped and pillaged". I can see where the destruction of this continent has been severe, including the mass murders of a people who were living a sustainable lifestyle and the destruction of massive amounts of forests. But what are you talking about regarding the rest of the World? Would you make the same comment of a wealthy person in Switzerland?

If you need examples of the U.S. imposing hegemony and usurping the resources of poor countries, then you just haven't been paying attention! ;) I think his point is that there are sundry externalities that support the decadent lifestyle of Americans. And Energy Descent is going to tear down and then turn a harsh light onto the intricate dying connections that support the throw-away cheap oil lifestyle.

What have we usurped outside the US? (Usurp 1 a: to seize and hold (as office, place, or powers) in possession by force or without right b: to take or make use of without right )

If you say Iraq, that hasn't been a source of wealth at this point. What have we usurped - siezed without right - from other countries that made us wealthy?

The "raping and pillaging" was/is institutionalized through IMF, World Bank and WTO policies, as this item about Africa makes clear. And prior to that we had "traditional" Imperialism/Colonialism.

A thesis was put forward by Eric Williams in Capitalism & Slavery that African Chattel Slavery provided the capital required for the West to industrialize; thus, the Swiss being the Bankers of Europe, certainly benefited. Indeed, it's been put forth that all whites, even the poorest and those imprisoned and transported, benefited from slavery. That such theses are controversial in the White world is unsurprising.

I can't believe I didn't think of US slavery. That was pretty pathetic on my part.

But as far as you article goes, I am totally fed up with some guy in a suit talking like they know the story and not saying a thing about population. Africa doesn't have enough food for its people and loans from the IMF are talked about and not a word about their rapid population growth for decades, if not a century? Alarming, astonishing, startling, and in the end I have only one thing to say to the guy in the article - sit down and put a sock in it. How many back flips will these old pundits do before they ever find the balls to talk about population growth?

THis response is real late in the day, so to speak, and unlikely to be read. Anyway, I've read Walden Bello's items for the last 2 decades and on many occasions he's talked about the issue of population. In fact, he was one of the few "pundits" to incorporate the Limits to Growth implications into his analysis. There is also a very substantial record of the cited Western institutions neocolonial/neoimperialist policy goals and depradations.

I suggest you read When Corporations Rule The World and a few other holistic information sources to increase your knowledge of how the System and its managers work.

He needs to talk about it all the time. Particularly when he is talking about Africa not having enough food now when it used to. They also have a lot more people than they used to.

If you want to place the poverty of Africa on Western corporations and countries, you are leaving one group out. African leaders. There are no invasions taking place in Africa from the west. Anything that takes place in Africa takes place with the approval of their leaders.

Anything that takes place in Africa takes place with the approval of their leaders.

How democratic have those, mostly educated at Western institutions, Compradore Leaders been? How many enslaved "their" populaces to loans they skimmed 20-30% or more from and moved to Swiss accounts before being thrown out via a coup or revolution? I totally disagree with your assertion that "There are no invasions taking place in Africa from the west," as invasions don't need to be made by armies to be devastating.

I think this is why the ancient world viewed usury (charging interest) as such a terrible sin. It's "money for nothing" - wealth gained without actually working or producing anything. Useful as credit/investment is, the steady-state economies of the time simply could not afford to carry very many people who did not work.

Particularly when they were already carrying knights and so on, who cost a fortune - the cost of a suit of armour was about equivalent to the price of a tank in relative purchasing terms.
It was also a convenient excuse for defaulting on debt, as they could simply massacre their creditors - did someone say: Congressional Committee' and 'speculators'?
The more common people were also rather upset by being thrown off their land when they had had to take on debt due to a poor harvest, and the elite did little to shield them - 'repossession' anyone?

Joan Rivers nailed it.

'Now tell me,. What attracted you to a small , bald, 80 year old BILLIONAIRE?'.

Speaking of declining oil exports. . .

Shura member calls for oil production curbs in Saudi

Saudi Arabia's Shura council (parliament) will hold a series of meetings over the next two weeks to discuss a controversial proposal by a key member to curb oil production to save reserves for better prices, Saudi media reported. The council will listen to a report by deputy chairman of the Shura water and public utilities committee, Salim bin Rashid Al Marri, who will argue for cutting crude supplies to maintain the Kingdom's underground reserves.

"Marri will seek to persuade council members that the oil production must be linked to the country's actual development needs not the needs of foreign consumers," Alriyadh newspaper said in a report from the capital Riyadh. "He will tell the Council that keeping sufficient oil quantities underground is a good investment for the future as oil prices will then be higher…he will argue that this will be better than producing more oil and generating financial surpluses on the grounds these surpluses are causing inflation."

Saudi Arabia is the world's top oil exporter and its crude policy is normally determined by the King as the oil minister's job is mainly to implement that policy.

In related news, the Texas Railroad Commission again lowered Texas production allowables, in accordance with its 36 year policy of voluntarily lowering oil production, because of a persistent inability to find buyers for all of its production, even its "light/sweet production."

Net Oil Exports and the “Iron Triangle” (July, 2007)

If one resides in the oil industry leg of the Iron Triangle, and if one has concluded that Peak Oil is upon us, or extremely close, does one say, "We cannot increase our production," and thereby encourage massive conservation and alternative energy efforts, or does one say "We choose not to increase production and/or we are temporarily unable to increase production for the following reasons (fill in the blank)?"

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Relying on the vagaries of the market or the vagaries of the Saudis has proven to be a recipe for doom. We cannot even get an extension of the renewable energy credits through congress. But congress is riding to the rescue with plans to strangle speculation, the obvious true cause of all our woes. Once that has been cleaned up by closing the "Enron loophole", we can all go back to $1.50 gasoline. Which reminds me. I need to check on that bid I placed for USO.

I've been wondering lately if Peak Oil will ever be recognized as a cause for high price of oil, no matter how how the price goes or how short the supply is. As you are suggesting, it will always get spun as "countries are hording", or "security premium" or "speculators" or "lack of refineries", etc. I'm really starting to think the media will always spin it in some other way than "there is less oil available".

Human nature tends to react in similar ways to disaster whatever the age.
When the Black Death came to Europe in the 14th century although many physicians correctly looked to physical causes, and even had a try at identifying them, unfortunately looking in the wrong places, overwhelmingly people blamed sin as the triggering cause.
Remedies included the flagellant movement which sought to win back God's favour through the suffering that they inflicted on themselves.
Finding a scapegoat was another option, and the Jews provided that, and they were accused of causing the plague, although many remarked that they were also suffering.
Rather better hygiene and care in the ghettos meant that they did rather better than some of the other urban populations, so that gave the rumours additional credibility.
These diversions suited the elites quite well, as in the Jewish case that conveniently cancelled debts they had built up, and the flagellants were crushed when they became too much of a nuisance and challenged the church's authority.

Perhaps something of a cautionary tale for the elites happened in come central America societies, as one of their functions was to ensure good weather, and human sacrifice was used to procure the favour of the Gods in this.
When eventually this dis not work, the elites seem to have been massacred by a disgruntled population.

So I would expect much effort to be expended on finding a scapegoat, perhaps Saudi or speculators, and popular movements to be humoured, such as fuel tax reductions.

Let's hope that we follow the example of the Mayans in dealing with our masters!

Uh, would you happen to know where I can get some really, really sharp chunks of obsidian?

Yeah, in east-central Oregon west of Burns is a place called Glass Butte, which has all sorts of multicolored obsidian right at the surface, and is open to "mining" by the public. Obsidian, as you likely know, is made sharper by flaking, as in the process of making arrowheads.


"I like the obsidian knife because it traumatizes the tissue less,"

DaveMart, according to the link you provide, the Mayan royal household in question was massacred by another royal household, not by disgruntled hoi polloi.

Even so, perhaps we can learn some lessons from the Maya collapse. First, it was slow, taking over a century before the highland cities were abandoned, and much longer in the Yucatan. Second, Mayan culture didn't disappear - in fact, now that the hieroglyphs have largely been translated, we've discovered that several modern Mayan rituals are depicted in Classic-period monuments. There was still a literate class when the Spanish arrived.

Village life was much the same before and after the collapse. What disappeared was the institution of kingship, the building of cities, massive agricultural projects, and wide-scale trade.

Oh, and the population density dropped to a fraction of what it had been during the Classic period - perhaps to as little as a tenth of peak population - despite the fact that even Classic Maya civilization was primarily stone-age. After the collapse, there were no institutions with the power or authority to concentrate social capital on large-scale agriculture.

Serves me right for not reading the link properly!
I based what I said on memory of a TV program, which referred to a South American or Central American society where it was felt that the hoi polloi murdered the elite - they knew they were elite due to the way the teeth were filed, and I seem to recall had jewels implanted.
The houses of the common people were untouched, but the temples were also sacked.
When I googled to try to source my recollection that was one of the links that came up.
I suspect it was the same incident, but with a different gloss on it from different academics.

Jeff, this is big. Thanks for posting it. I found this paragraph most enlightening.

According to the newspaper, Marri scoffed at what he called fears that the price of oil will decline after the development of more energy sources. "These fears are unjustified because they come from the consumers who are only benefiting from higher production and from the country's enemies who do not like to see prosperity and progress in Saudi Arabia," he said."Even if other major sources of energy are developed, they will remain costly and oil will remain a strong rival in the energy field. "

This means that Saudi may be finally "getting it!" They have been afraid, for years, that so-called "renewables" will undercut the price of oil and leave them with a lot of useless goo on their hands. Now they are obviously re-thinking that position.

This is what we have been predicting would happen. This is the beginning of the hoarding phase.

Ron Patterson

"They have been afraid, for years, that so-called "renewables" will undercut the price of oil and leave them with a lot of useless goo on their hands"

That's actually a very strange proposition to hold as there is nothing even closely resembling all applications for oil, i.e. there is no real alternative to oil. Last time I checked.

Of course there are no real alternatives to oil. But the EIA has been preaching for years that if oil ever went above a certain price that alternatives would drive the price back down. And how many times have you heard: "The stone age did not end because we ran out of stones and the oil age will not end because we ran out of oil"? That line is usually followed by something like: "The oil age will end when we develop cheaper alternatives to oil."

But I disagree with you on that being a strange position to hold. People who have no clue as to energy content and EROI of oil verses that of other products such as ethanol or biodiesel can easily believe there are alternatives to oil. It is a strange position for an informed person to hold. However if you haven't a clue as to what going on in the energy field then holding such a position is quite reasonable.

Ron Patterson

If what you mean is that alternatives cannot come on line fast enough to maintain past exponential growth or even to replace dwindling crude oil supplies and keep fuel prices from escalating, then I certainly agree with you.

However if what you mean is that once oil production slides the world will slip back to plowing with animals like some sort of prehistoric lifestyle, then I adamantly disagree with you. The higher energy prices will cause investment in new renewable technologies, and while these technologies will not be as efficient as crude oil in terms of energy realized per energy inputted, they certainly are sufficiently efficient to run our economies, which will be much more efficient than what we have now. I study renewable fuel technologies and I am very encouraged by what I am seeing. It will, however, take decades for these renewable technologies to come on line.

Oil came from biological material originally and while it will take more processing to make it into usable fuels (we will no longer solely rely on the bonanza of what Mother Earth has provided to us), the great knowledge and innovation that we posess will allow us to continue functioning with a highly technological society.


Hi retsel,

Just a few points of difference:

re: "alternatives cannot come on line fast enough to maintain past exponential growth"

You agree with this.

Question: "exponential growth" - or any kind of growth whatsoever? Are you going to restrict the discussion to only "exponential growth"?

re: "once oil production slides the world will slip back to plowing with animals like some sort of prehistoric lifestyle"

This part of your statement comes in a couple of parts.

There's the issue of "oil production slides" - and *how long* until there are deleterious effects (AKA "slip back to...some sort of prehistoric lifestyle")

Will it occur "once oil production slides"? Or will it take a bit longer? How long?

And then there's whether this "slip back" will occur. Not when, but if it will.

Many clarifications necessary in order to talk about the statements you present.

So, let me just ask:

re: "these technologies will not be as efficient as crude oil in terms of energy realized per energy inputted, they certainly are sufficiently efficient to run our economies, which will be much more efficient than what we have now."

Do you have references for these statements?

Well, just because these newer technologies cannot deliver energy returns at a 10 to 1 rate does not mean that they are not viable. A return on energy invested of 2 to 1 is sufficient, but it will just be more expensive.

If you are looking for "referencable reports" in this area, I would suggest the work done by Robert Hirsch of SAIC. Because we have started so late to mitigate the affects of peak oil, he has outlined in his report that the US economy in particular will be hit hard by peak oil. However, he also lays a scenario for how new technologies could come on stream to replace the energy supplied by petroleum, and how fuel efficiency can cause a huge amount of energy savings. I would not refer to his earliest report as he later admits that the first report was overly optimistic. His later report is more reasonable.

Keep in mind that petroleum is not going away, natural gas will be around for at least a decade after oil peaks - although more expensive for the US market because of the need to import LNG. Also there is lots of coal, although we will have to reconcile the use of coal with its greenhouse gas affects.

I think that Hirsch stated in one of his reports that 2/3s of motor vehicle trips in the US are discretionary. Imagine that if energy prices go high enough, that people will radically change their driving habits resulting in large energy savings. We area already seeing the start of a major shift in driving habits as SUV and pickup truck sales are way down in the U.S., despite efforts by the motor vehicle manufacturers to practically give them away.


'We' know that. Saudi probably believed our TV/internet/etc. like many others in the world do. So they read about wind, solar, wave power, etc. and all the other 'Tech fixes' and panic as the price of oil goes up. Then its, "oil is well supplied" "everything is fine" "costs are in line with, blah blah blah".

For a while they wait for the 'shift to other technologies' as the price goes up, surprise, they don't see the shift. So they do a little research, hmm read TOD, and realize the shift isn't coming.

Now they understand where the driver seat really is. I bet ELM kicks into high gear now as more countries come to the same conclusion.

I'm not so sure that Russia and Venezuela haven't come to that same conclusion also.

ceiii2000...Saudi Arabia is not a country that depends on 'our TV/internet/etc' for their information and research into alternative energy sources. To the contrary, the Saudi's have conducted many large and small scale experiments to determine the potential of alternative energy sources, including solar powered salt to fresh water conversion. Some of the experiments in SA have been done independently, some in concert with other countries. Contrary to what many Americans believe the 'rest of the world' is not a huge teeming mass of ignorance...although some parts of it are...just as are some parts of the US.

Here is a site that explains alternative energy experiments and actual applications in SA. It appears to me that SA has a great desire to find out what works in the real world, not what some idiot politicians and lobbyists demand be implemented regardless of practicality. It appears that the 21 projects in SA in the link below only list projects completed or underway by 1997. I have read of other projects underway in the KSA since '97 and they could be found by a Google search. As you can see at the link solar testing has been going on in SA since at least 1981. I have an interest in salt to fresh water solar conversion so listed one from SA link below...

'Solar Powered Water Desalination Projects. A solar thermal seawater desalination pilot plant was completed by SOLERAS in 1984 in Yanbu. It uses an indirect contact heat transfer freeze process to produce 200 m3 of potable water per day. The operation, maintenance, and performance results enabled collector component manufacturers to use the project as test bed for new concepts. A glass manufacturer investigated solution to mirror edge protection against environment. Other organizations learned more about the freeze desalination process and developed new commercial equipment. This plant, however, was closed down for economic reasons (Huraib 1989).

A PV powered brackish water desalination plant was installed in 1994 at Sadous Village in collaboration with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), USA. The plant has two separate PV fields. One (980 Wp) is to energize a submersible pump for pumping water from a well, and the other (10.08 kWp) is to provide power to a reverse osmosis unit (R.O.U) and to other accessories and equipment. The preliminary investigation has shown an excellent overall performance of PV plant for water pumping and desalination, however, the potable water recovery rate is only about 30%. Further work is underway in order to increase this recovery rate. Simultaneously, a separate study also seeks to incorporate a solar thermal desalination system (probably a pilot plant of solar stills) with the existing PV powered R.O.U in order to use the high rejection rate of brine (70% of input water to R.O.U) for water distillation.'


Contrary to what many Americans believe the 'rest of the world' is not a huge teeming mass of ignorance...although some parts of it are...just as are some parts of the US.

You didn't accuse me personally of this but I will say that I do not believe the entire world is a 'teeming mass of ignorance.' Just as most Americans never travel and see the world for themselves, many from the 'rest of the world' don't come here. I put the word we in quotes meaning TOD readers. I know that they aren't all American.

What many in the world see as ‘America’ is what Washington and Hollywood show them. I have spent many a night in Italy, Turkey, Morocco, and other places with a beer and food trying to convince people that these are the absolute wrong places to get an idea about Americans and America.

I do think our government believes that outside of DC everybody is a teeming mass of ignorance.

Finally the #1, by far, use of oil in the US is transportation. Finding ways to get potable water and power etc. is good. I hope they research further and find themselves able to keep the lights on and the thirst away. None of these address transportation though.

They still could believe some of our press about the technocopian fixes in the future. (I used to, then I started reading TOD.)

The council will listen to a report by deputy chairman of the Shura water and public utilities committee, Salim bin Rashid Al Marri, who will argue for cutting crude supplies to maintain the Kingdom's underground reserves.


I assume that you concur that this would probably not be happening if the King had not already approved.

Well, we have already heard that the King wishes to keep all new discoveries in the ground for future generations. So the King is quite receptive to such ideas and it is quite possible that he has already approved a cutback.

The question now is: Will this cutback, if and when it happens, be due to depletion or to save the oil for the future when prices are much higher. I would guess....it is a little of both. That is they are already in a desperate struggle to keep production high so now they will say: "Let's not try so hard to keep production high. Why struggle to keep production up and world prices down when we can just cut back a little and make even more money.

Ron Patterson

I think this is a GREAT sign - because the more fossil fuels we burn now, the longer BAU continues, the more population grows and thus the more humans will suffer. Ironically the sooner civilization is forced to cope with the finiteness of our sphere via high prices, etc., the less the amount of suffering will be in the future. Because we add 70 MILLION people to the planet each year, and who here can honestly forecast a wonderful life for them with the way the biosphere is crumbling under the constraints of human overpopulation already?

I can. The growth of population has been continually revised down as has the maximum population. You know why that is?

Because they are getting wealthier, their lives are getting longer, their women are starting to get some rights and they are starting to get some education. Less affordable fuel means lower living standards which means more kids, not less. The only way in which poverty combats birth rates is by an even larger increase in death rates.

The only way in which poverty combats birth rates is by an even larger increase in death rates

We may get that as well.

Time for a little game of football .

I posted this yesterday, but it was on Oil Drum Europe, and it seems appropriate here:

But maybe the exporters have finally realized that they have nothing to fear from “alternative energies.” If they are at or near Peak, the Saudis surely know that it will be absolutely impossible for wind and solar to be expanded on the enormous scale needed even to provide any substantial supply of electricity that still would be less than to-day’s output. I’m sure the Saudis are also aware of the general worthlessness of Ethanol and biofuels in general, and that most other technologies are either in the lab or extant only as a “demo”; thus, even under the most realistically optimistic scenarios several decades away from large scale commercial production. And other than biofuels, virtually all the alternative energies produce only electricity, which, while we will need all we can get, is not a liquid fuel especially convenient for transportation. So I think they realize that their oil will ALWAYS be in demand, and at ever higher prices; naturally they’d want to make the bonanza last as long as possible. And when supply gets REALLY tight, they can blame the producers of the alternative energies for failing to live up to whatever hype they have put out in their marketing campaigns.

Antoinetta III

The Saudi's seem determined to lead the world to believe that they have plenty of oil.
This would be a good move to provide cover for an actual inability to maintain production, and string people along for a while more as they could say that any drop was a planned one to conserve supplies.
It does not seem likely to me that substantial reserves have been kept back from the market, so unless we see falls in Saudi deliveries of a lot more than west texas has projected then this seems to be an attempt at keeping the illusion of huge untapped reserves going.

It does not seem likely to me that substantial reserves have been kept back from the market, so unless we see falls in Saudi deliveries of a lot more than west texas has projected then this seems to be an attempt at keeping the illusion of huge untapped reserves going.

Kinda like Saddam's illusion of weapons of mass destruction...?

Hope we don't decide to invade the KSA and later find that what we were looking for doesn't exist...

I would guess that they are heavily mined with just that eventuality in mind.

I would guess that they are heavily mined with just that eventuality in mind.

Probably with those pesky Iraqi WMD's...

On a serious note, I've heard that there are plans to have the wells remotely detonated in case TSHTF in the KSA.

'I would guess'? Please, enough with the guessing. The list of reasons that SA might retard oil production is as long as one with a normal imagination would care to construct.

Are the fields mined? I don't know...you don't know. Why guess?

The idiots Cheney/Blair/Bush guessed that wmd existed in Iraq based on cooked intelligence. That has certainly worked out well, has it not?

Alternative Guesses regarding the motivations of the KSA:

SA is unhappy with the one sided stance of the US in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and has decided to apply slow pressure to the US, via oil constraint, possibly in covert cooperation with Nigeria and Venesuela, untill the US shows that it is willing to take a more balanced approach to the issue.

SA is unhappy with the hard line stance of US foreign policy toward Iran and wishes for a negotiated settlement between the US/Iran...especially since the SA has announced that it too wishes to build nuke power plants.

SA is unhappy about the devaluation of the US dollar by the Fed and resulting inflation that is being imported into SA and other ME countries. In fact, the SA has already stated that for every 1% drop in the value of the dollar against the euro that crude on the spot market would increase about one dollar a bbl. The SA does not control the oil/dollar price directly but they can certainly effect it through oil production constraints...absent demand destruction.

I could continue all day with more guesses...to what purpose?

Please do not take this post as a personal insult for it was meant to show how fruitless guesses are...and, I am as guilty of anyone of an occasional guess. A great deal is riding on western intelligence services getting the real, unvarnished facts before we in the west enter into another debacle like Iraq...and, my guess :) is that intelligence in the west is just as bad as prior to Iraq. Best hopes for good intel.

It is my guess that the Saudi fields are mined for the simple reason that that is what any responsible military organisation would do - they would want to ensure that Saudi is not a profitable target for military adventurism.
However, the Iraquis did not do a very thorough job of it, so maybe the Saudi military are sunny optimists - not a disposition to be encouraged in Generals.
The Iranians would also be rather foolish if they have not taken similar steps.

It is my guess that the Saudi fields are mined for the simple reason that that is what any responsible military organisation would do - they would want to ensure that Saudi is not a profitable target for military adventurism.
However, the Iraquis did not do a very thorough job of it, so maybe the Saudi military are sunny optimists

I believe technically the term is "Sunni" optimists. But yes, in the calculus of denying spoils to any enemy, I suspect the Saudi's have a way to destruct. Since they have the bucks, it may be nuclear, which would be less easy for someone else to detonate. I offer this as a wild-ass guess, nothing more. Alternately, they may simply have the capability and have not deployed it.

The odds of the Saudi refineries being in one piece in 20 years seems remote.

No, the Saudis are not sunny optimists. They are Sunni optimists... :P

(Sorry, could not resist.)

As I was typing I saw what I was writing, but decided not to put a (sic) there to see if others picked up - I am so pleased that others here are as childish as me! Life is much more fun that way! :-0

The idiots Cheney/Blair/Bush guessed that wmd existed in Iraq based on cooked intelligence. That has certainly worked out well, has it not?

I know you know this River, but do recall the "Facts were being fixed around the policy," and the policy goal was clearly stated by the Project for the New American Century prior to Bush's selection by the USSC. BTW, Clinton's policy goal was the same.

I hate these people, they lie about their numbers then try to manipulate the market further by holding back their production.

Hate is such a useful emotion, especially for a "seeker."

You talking about the slackers in Alaska again?

Thanks for that link, Westexas!

There's a behaviourial trend developing based upon recent Saudi statements about "preservation of their oil".

Recently, Saudi Arabia's King said "we should preserve some oil for our children". Now, Marri is saying that oil should be preserved to get a higher price later and to reduce inflation.

What's next? Saudi will probably say that they need to preserve oil to reduce greenhouse gases which would reduce global warming.

In addition, the the six month delayed Khursaniyah project was supposed to have started producing in Dec 2007. It might start this month and only produce 0.3 mbd initially.

The statements above make my Saudi forecast below more likely now. The chart assumes total economic ultimate recoverable reserves (URR) for Saudi Arabia of 185 Gb. For more info about Saudi Arabia, please see section 5 of http://www.theoildrum.com/node/3623

An important point in the chart below is that, from Jan 2005 to Dec 2007, the average depletion rate of remaining reserves was 4.4%/yr as shown by the dashed green line. In Jun 2008, it is likely that the depletion rate will be about 5%/yr which is a big 14% increase from 4.4%/yr. The increased depletion rate of 5%/yr could indicate that Saudi Arabia is producing at economic capacity and should not overproduce oil from their fields which causes irreversible reservoir damage.

(click to enlarge)

Saudi Arabia's production rate is likely to continue declining. Russia's production is now in slow decline. Consequently, world total liquids production is now more likely to follow the red line in the chart below.

(click to enlarge)

Very Well Done, Ace!

Between you, WT/Khebab, Darwinian, Memmel, WHTelescope, JoulesBurn, and significant other TOD statistical data-freaks--IMO, you guys are doing a hell of a bangup job on the Hubbert Curve!

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

My opinion for a while has been that Peak Oil/Peak Exports was the trigger that started, and accelerated, the mortgage meltdown. What is sobering about the McMahon story is how the housing/auto/finance, etc., contraction is already adversing affecting the "elites."

As I have previously put it (with continuing apologies to authors), "Ask not for whom forced energy conservation comes, it comes for thee."

And as Warren Buffet put it, when the tide goes out, you find out who has been skinny dipping.

I for one, actually have been actively skinny dipping, (but not with Warren...eeeww).

Hmmm. . . this does raise the possibility of an interesting threat: Implement policies that the Peak Oilers want, or we will host the next ASPO conference at a clothes optional resort.

Great line in the FT today: "When the tide went out, not only were some of the swimmers wearing no trunks, [...] they were also revealed as poorly endowed."

I don't think high oil prices triggered the mortgage meltdown. Japan faced a similar depression in the 1990s - house prices collapsed, the economy stagnated - at a time of falling oil prices. Economic bubbles follow their own path, largely dictated by greed and herd instinct. It's all a bit frustrating to a young person like me: I'd like to buy a house with a decent-sized vegetable garden and super-insulate it to make it all eco-friendly, but I'd be a fool to buy when house prices are falling every day. *sigh*

McMahon's participation in the Publisher's Clearinghouse Sweepstakes was a major contribution to the widespread belief in getting something for nothing among the American public. I wonder if Jim Kunstler will notice this story.

Speaking of kunstler what do you think of his recent pronouncements as per this gem:

The Iraqis were not grateful for the American occupation. They proved uneducable in the ways of American-style democratic governance. They reverted to a persistent diet of religious-ethnic-and territorial warfare within their own artificially-drawn borders. They regarded their American teacher-protectors as detestable interlopers and blew them up whenever possible.

I'm having a hard time with it as I do not know if he is talking toungue in cheek, but if so it must as well be so far jammed down his throat that he is in danger of someone kicking himself in that toungue.

I personally thought it was his weakest column in quite a while-the whole premise of USA vs Arabs in some sort of perennial culture war is actually beneath his usual level of insight (actually it is just plain stupid). I don't know why he even discusses 9/11 if he is just going to revert to slogans and truisms (which at this point most of the American public doesn't even swallow anymore).

I found his 9/11 piece to be very repugnant.....worse than his warning.
Just last Sunday on TOD he had been accused of bigotry, and I wanted to be in his corner thinking No No No. Where I fetched-up was in this para:

"I believe that the decision to punish an Arab nation for 9/11 was probably made very soon after the event. Whether Iraq specifically had anything to do with 9/11 was not part of the equation. It didn't matter one way or the other anymore than it would have mattered if the 9/11 hijackers had decided to strike the Empire State Building and the US Capitol instead of the WTC and the Pentagon."

Any old Arab nation will do. They're fungible, NO?

IMO That's way up there on the AMerrogance Scale.


He was describing how (he believes) the administration thought when it decided to invade Iraq. Its satire - he's not endorsing that point of view; if anything he's exposing it as being a morally deficient, bullying mentality.

hi commuter,
yeah, you COULD file it under satire.... but the reference to the fungiblity ( sp?) of 1) the Empire State Bldg. with the WTC & 2) the Capitol with the Pentagon ...... well the stupidity of that sentence alerts me to a blind spot in its authors mind. Surely he (or the hypothetical adminocrats you claim he's speaking for) didn't miss the symbolism of the attacks???? Symbolism was widely referenced in MSM at the time, as i recall.

On the contrary, I thought his article was trying to point out the symbolism for what it was, not supporting it at all.

with JHK though who knows - he's usually not that subtle :)

Crystal - Kunstler is a realist and although he often reverts to satire I don't find a falsehood in it. His post was a rebuke to American sanctimony and a nasty tendency to believe that "if we only had better leaders we would be seen" as moral and just. America is over-all a pretty greedy and corrupt society. Kustler's real point is "there are no innocents" over the age of 12. We're all complicit.

If that is offensive to you let me suggest a chilled gin martini...

Gol darn it joemichaels, is everyone trying to confuse me today, not sure what you expect me to be offended by, that there are no "innocents over the age of 12" or that Kunstler's post, you say, is "... a rebuke to American sanctimony"?

Anyway I think Kunster was off base saying that the American people
shouldn't take comfort in the idea that they were lied to and believed the lies. What they shouldn't take comfort in is in remaining ignorant about how they were led to believe the lie. That is what it would have been better for Kunstler to attempt to understand and expose, the 'why' in 'Why are we so gullible?'. I think, if we were to talk about that, we might understand why we have the greed and corruption in our societies. (Incidentally, Canada acting as an aggressor in Afghanistan doesn't make me proud, particularly as not many here stood up against it.)

Here are the lyrics from the Grateful Dead's Throwing Stones which IMO is a very good start at that 'why'.

This video of that song is not the greatest for sound reproduction but best I could find and it does improve in spots.

I assumed Wharf Rat was a head by the handle, is CrystalRadio as well? Maybe we need to start a TOD sub-chapter for peak-aware deadheads.

I am quite a fan of JHK's writing, but whenever he talks about anything in the Middle East, I cringe. For someone who seems quite clear sighted about a lot of things, he has a very cloudy and bizzaro interpretation of events in that part of the world. He is a total Islam-o-phobe. See his revisionist history of the founding of Israel in the Long E, for example.

Oh well, we all have our blind spots.

I first discovered JHK through my interest in New Urbanism. His writings on the topic were eloquent and persuasive, with a hard edge that hinted at his raw passion for his expert subject. I liked New Urbanism because it offered practical solutions rather than unending negativity. Unfortunately somewhere along the way he lost that positive vibe, and lately seems to prefer generalised ranting rather than progressive practical solutions.

What I want to know is why he didn't have the mortgage paid off in the first place? He has been on tv for years and has a recognized brand name, yet he didn't make enough or over the years to pay off the house? He still had a mortgage?

Probably for the tax break. My dad, a conservative, intelligent man with a lot of common sense, who taught me about Malthus when I was knee-high to a grasshopper...told me to buy a much bigger house than I need - as big as I could afford - because otherwise, the tax break would go away too soon.

Leanan - Gosh I got the exact same advice. It's amazing how intelligent, common-sense people could be so wrong. Perhaps that is the curse of short-sighted optimism.

No, I think they are just speaking from their experience. Which, most of the time, is good practice. The best way of avoiding bias is to rely on your own or someone else's previous experience.

The problem is that sometimes, things change. And as Jared Diamond likes to point out, if it's something that's been going on for decades or centuries...it's really hard for humans to wrap their minds around the idea that it might change.

In the case of my father...real estate has been a great investment all his life. In his lifetime, the post-war boom and the baby boom inflated home prices more or less continuously. He bought a home that seemed ridiculously expensive, but found in only a couple of years, both his salary and his equity had risen so much that his tax deduction was nearly gone. So he was telling me to do something that would have made great sense for him to have done.

"Past performance is no guarantee of future results"

I've seen that opinion a lot when I was investigating whether to pay extra on my mortgage or invest money. As far as I can tell the best answer is to compare the effective interest rates on your mortgage after the tax break vs. how much your investments make. A calculator for getting the effective interest rate after taxes is here. Currently, my investments are not making more money than what I'm paying in interest on the mortgage after taxes, so it makes sense to pay down the mortgage. That's because the stock market has been flat or down the last year or so. Even if the stock market returns to it's "normal" behavior, if I pay off the mortgage early the interest on the mortgage that I won't have to pay is known, whereas the amount of interest I will earn in the stock market is not. So it might be a secure investment.

Financial analysts will never tell you to pay off your house first. They make their living charging you a "management fee" on your stock investments. That's why they always push the stock market... They don't make money unless you invest your money.

What they don't tell you is that it's not a fair comparison. Paying extra on your mortgage has ZERO risk. It's a guaranteed return on your money. The stock market (obviously) is not.

I prefer to compare the effective interest rate of the mortgage to an FDIC insured savings account, or T-bills.

But even for an extra 1 or 2%, wouldn't you sleep better at night knowing you owned your home free and clear?


I have great respect for my parents, and they has given me much excellent advice over the years. It is difficult now because while they are very aware of the many changes going on in the environment, energy, politics, etc., they do not believe these problems will result in the magnitude of change that I do. I think there is a point where people are unwilling or unable to look past the things that have been "true" for their whole lives. I try not to push them to see those things that they do not want to see - it is not a future they will have to experience.

Yes, I know what you mean. My father is a scientist, and probably the smartest man I know. But he's also a bit set in his ways, as older folk are wont to be. And he's definitely more a "trees" person (as is everyone else in my immediate family). I'm a "forest" person, and connections that seem obvious to me are invisible to them. In particular, my dad does not see the economic or political ramifications of peak oil. He used to tell me that I better get to like tofu, because by the time I grew up, everyone would have to be eating lower on the food chain.

Of course, it didn't turn out that way. The wealthy, including most Americans, don't have to eat tofu unless they want to. Dad never expected that the pain would not be equally shared. (To be fair, few others did, either.) Similarly, he accepts peak oil, but thinks it will just mean driving the Subaru more and the Explorer less. He's sure the economy will be BAU, no matter how pricey oil gets.

And as you say...it may not be a problem he'll ever have to face. He doesn't even have grandkids to worry about, since his kids took his "zero population" warnings to heart, and are child-free.

My folks love their grandkids, and likely do not want to think about what our kids will have to face. Hard to accept that the world you knew for a whole lifetime is now changing very fast.

[Sigh} In your post, Leanan, lies the crux of why we are doomed. The most intelligent person you know left as much of an impact on the human gene pool as a sterile hermaphrodite with a lethal mutation. Meanwhile the dirtbags I treated in the ER tonight, the ones that are running some perverse anti-darwinian experiment where the toothless, alchoholic, borderline retarded convict crosses with the morbidly obese, moderately retarded cross-eyed crackhead with a seizure disorder are, at this very moment, breeding like flies on shit--and all on our collective tax dime. My view of zero-population growth is like the quote from full metal jacket on war: "Your job is not to die for your country, your job is to make the other sorry SOB die for HIS country".

Sorry, but I simply don't believe any one person's genes are so important that they justify having kids. Especially when it comes to intelligence, which appears to be only about 50% heredity. There are a lot of great reasons to have children, but concern for the quality of the human gene pool ain't one of them. (Where's Veganmaster with his "IQ test"?)

In any case, my dad comes from a very large family. His genes continue, in his many uncles, aunts, siblings, cousins, nieces, nephews, etc. He's got a hell of a lot more than the proverbial "eight cousins."

Besides, it could be argued that his type of intelligence (science and math) is what got us into this predicament.

Leanan I agree. But the new paradigm has shifted dramatically. When I give a Peak Oil presentation I am always asked to give advice at the end and I refuse. If I give advice based on that information and I'm wrong I am responsible for that failure. I give the information and I ask people to form their own programs based on what their priorities are. I also give them information and links to sites such as theoildrum.com.

BTW Jared Diamond was on PBS NewsHour last night talking about peak oil, climate change and societal collapse. PBS is way ahead on the issue of Peak Oil


I saw that. Been meaning to YouTube it. It was pretty good.

Two points: McMahon is not currently a member of any elite- he has zero equity in his home and it appears (possibly not) that he does not have other material assets (i.e. offshore)-he might. He has a very young attractive wife for an 85 year old and obviously has been spending a hell of a lot of money the last few years. He appears to be broke.

Which is why I put it in quotation marks, and paired it with the Warren Buffet comment. As you implied, appearances can be deceiving.

In fact, his situation may not be a bad metaphor for the overall US situation.

You're right-he is like the poster boy for the whole keep up appearances crowd-I guess if you are going to do this, mid 80s is a good time for it to catch up with you. By the way, I didn't think Kingsdale did a very good rebuttal of ELM at all-it appeared that he wasn't being objective for some reason.

I posted a note on his blog, citing the Texas/North Sea case histories. In general, I think his rebuttal was another example of why killing the "Infinite Rate of Increase Against a Finite Resource Base" belief if going to be harder to kill than Michael Myers.

He's not doing a very good job of getting comments posted; your's isn't, and I'm still awaiting the email that will allow mine to be published!

Mine's up.

Yes, I read it. Well done. I imagine his system got overloaded by TODer's commentary flooding in all at once.

Maybe he's waiting for his ship to come in:

Congratualtions Mr. McMahon you are the next multi-million dollar winner with Publishers Clearinghouse

OK, that was funny! Can't believe I completely missed it!

Magellan Midstream Partners petroleum distribution terminal fire in Kansas City, KS


NEW YORK, June 4 (Reuters) - Magellan Pipeline, which operates a major oil products pipeline from the Gulf Coast into the Midwest, reported a fuel tank fire in its Kansas City, Kansas petroleum storage facility late Tuesday after a lightning strike, according to local media.

A fire started in the fuel storage tank holding more than a million gallons of unleaded gasoline, the Kansas City Star reported.


It's still burning.

According to this article:

Magellan’s Kansas City, Kan., terminal handles commercial jet fuel, ethanol, diesel and various other types of fuel oil, according to the Magellan Midstream Partners LP Web site.

Ya...it's a pretty huge plume. The fire started around 7:30pm last night during heavy lightening storms and was still going this morning. They are estimating that it might burn out by noon today. I've seen varying figures on how much unleaded gasoline was in that tank, but now I'm seeing a million or so.

Is the pipeline still running?

I wouldn't think so. I'm sure the storage systems would be fitted with fail safe measures.

It's official. The pipeline has been closed.

(Reuters) - Magellan Midstream Partners closed its petroleum products pipeline in and out of Kansas City, Kansas after a gasoline tank caught fire late Tuesday, a company spokesman said Wednesday.

"We have no estimate for restart," said Bruce Heine, the spokesman.

GM Board approves Volt Production


I noted that production of 100,000 cars/year was after 2010.


I am very excited about the Volt. I feel the future is coming :)

However I'm puzzled that such a car is not first introduced in Europe. It makes much more sense over there - close to 100% of drivers drive less than 40 miles/day, and gas prices are twice those in the US. EU cars could become 99% oil-free! And with nuclear and renewables coming online they could be 99% pollution free! There would be a problem with recharging in denser environments, but this will be only short term.

I can only admire GM for being the first to start this revolution. I'm not an early adopter type, but they can sign me in for 2011-12.

However I'm puzzled that such a car is not first introduced in Europe.

You're puzzled by bad decisions coming from a company that lost nearly $39 billion last year?

I am more puzzled by it's competitors not crowding in this niche. GM primary market is US, so I'm not surprised they are starting it here. They will introduce it later in Europe, pending on performance, Europe is traditionally more conservative market.

GM is a huge, bloated company... it's no surprise they lost so much money in this rapidly changing environment. Just think about it - they are developing the Volt, but they also own Hummer, and they are spending huge amounts on research on Hydrogen. With so diverse product and investment mix and not a single one really strong product it's no surprise they are dropping like a rock.

But I expect they will hit the jack pot with the Volt. The timing can not be better, and they will benefit from being far ahead of the curve in the plug-in race. I don't think the Volt will save the entire ship from sinking though... too much previous crap on the boat.

It's debatable whether most of the rest of the world outside of the States, Australia and Canada actually need plug-ins.
You simplify things a lot by just building an EV, and their range is adequate for most in other areas.
With crowed roads in Europe and the far East, then very small EV's make a lot of sense, and maintenance costs are very low.
There is good progress in EV's, with Th!nk and Mitsubishi at the front of the charge.
The time-scale for these is 2008 for the Th!nk and 2009 for the Mitsubishi.
Hybrids are only really needed here for buses etc, and even then batteries run them close.

A plug-in is an electric car plus on-board electrical generator. I can buy a suitable gasoline electric generator from WalMart for $300-$500, and there are good diesel ones for 1-2K. If you have a good electric car (read good batteries) adding the generator should be relatively trivial. Highly efficient turbine generators promise even further leap in efficiency. The extended range you achieve is more than worthed the premium. People buy cars not only to commute around town but for the freedom to take longer trips if they want to. Still in environments like Europe I expect 90%+ of the kilometers to be traveled on electric.

I am attributing the high initial cost of the Volt, to the high R&D expenses and the high cost of batteries. Everything else is off the shelf. Pure EVs will have even bigger and more expensive batteries, so it is debatable they will have any advantage.

Overall I expect the next few decades to be dominated by plug-ins, until we improve batteries and build infrastructure enough to have pure EVs. It's too early for them IMO.

I understood that you could simplify the system considerably by not having an on-board generator?
This appears to be the direction Mitsubishi is taking, at least:
Could Mitsubishi's iMiev EV Make It Stateside This Decade? New York Auto Show Test Drive - Popular Mechanics
They are planning on bundling it with leased ICE cars for long trips.
They are looking further ahead to a plug-in version, I would guess with primarily the American market in mind.
Tougher side-impact standards mean that it is difficult to keep the size and weight of a pure EV down anyway for the American market.
It will be interesting to see how much it will cost, although somehow I don't think it will be anywhere near $15k!

"They are planning on bundling it with leased ICE cars for long trips."

Not many people will take this convenience hit. Also most people are conservative... Any shift away from current cars must start with something that looks similar to what we have now and changes gradually. That's why I don't think pure EVs have future in the near term except in some niche markets.

Personally I don't think we will have problems with cars longer term. The real problems will be trucks, heavy machinery, airplanes, and electricity - especially after peak NG follows PO.

They'll take the hit if the alternative is not being able to afford to get to work.
As for the looks, this is really almost exclusively an American thing - both us Europeans and the Japanese have driven much, much weirder things than these EV's!
I'm betting that within 5 years French car production is largely EV - if it is not compressed air cars.
French motorists don't worry about weird! - and it would just mean that they could run their nuclear reactors more of the time.

A small trailer with aerodynamic fairings and a diesel generator on-board should be a popular option for EVs.

Being in a trailer, noise and exhaust are distant from the driver, and it can be left @ home for short every day trips. Excess weight and drag not needed in EV only mode. And the aerodynamics and chassis of the EV do not have to carry the extra burden of an ICE & fuel tank.

The right size is needed and a console button to turn the generator of and on (with a fuel reading for the driver) would be very nice.

IMHO, a better solution than PHEVs for many.


I think this is a good idea, though it still requires certain fore planning on the side of the driver and will affect vehicle maneuverability. I'm sure many different setups will be experimented, but in the medium term ICE is still going to be essential in all cases.

Parallel parking an EV with trailer will take a bit of practice. A video explaining how to (assuming a short enough combo to fit) should be included with purchase and downloadable.

Americans with enough foresight to judge how far they are about to drive. Yes, a limited market segment, but they do exist.

Best Hopes,



I think a better solution is to develop an international standard for inductive power pickup. Firstly we could do it for stationary cars, ie get rid of the cables to charge a parked EV, it would also involve a software protocol for financial charges.

From that we could develop an inductive pickup that could supply energy at speed, this would have the effect of giving EVs an infinite range.

The main problem with all this is that people keep on wanting an EV to be the same as an ICE but better. All the wasted effort on biofuels and hydrogren muddies the water.

Neven MacEwan B.E. E&E

There are vast numbers of people, especially in Europe and Japan, for whom a relatively limited range would have almost no effect, or at most a very marginal loss of convenience.
The Mitsubishi for instance, with a range of 160km or so, would cover almost all the needs of the retired, and commuters.
For the occasional holiday trip or whatever it would be far cheaper to just hire an ICE car for the day or weekend than to increase the cost and sophistication of the EV.
In fact, if need be to keep the cost down, an 80km range or even 40km, would suit many.
A bigger worry here in the UK is that it appears unlikely that we will have electricity to power an EV, or much else.

Inductive pick=up may not work well with pace makers, metal joints, etc.

And, if I remember correctly, using auto/road clearances, the efficiency is not great.

I prefer direct contact power transfers (trolley wire > pantograph or trolley pole).

Best Hopes for Urban Rail,



There is electric bus system already using stationary inductive pickup in Genoa.

As far as 'efficiency' goes they are inherently efficient, (there is much misuse of this word)
it may take some work to increase the 'capacity' of the transfer, If this were done and combined with ultracaps (as they can handle large charging currents) then it would be a solution.

People I suggest this to dismiss the idea based on the amount of infrastructure you would have to build but they seem to be happy to have several gas stations per square mile. To me it is absurd that we persist with this 19th century restriction that a vehicle has to carry its own energy.


People I suggest this to dismiss the idea based on the amount of infrastructure you would have to build but they seem to be happy to have several gas stations per square mile. To me it is absurd that we persist with this 19th century restriction that a vehicle has to carry its own energy.

http://www.ruf.dk A design where the transport gets grid power.

Now - lets address "amount of infrastructure you would have to build" shall we?

Where EXACTLY will the metal come from to build the induction coils for your induction idea? How about the metal to transport electromotive force to the induction coils?

In addition, if roads should be re-built every 60 years - your idea would either require every road to be tore up and re-done *OR* wait 60 years to transition. So please explain where the money and energy to tear up roads and put them back down again will come from.


Where EXACTLY will the metal come from to build the induction coils for your induction idea?

Like many doomers you seem to have this impression that all industry will come to a screaming halt!, I mean where exactly do the get all the aluminum etc to build what we are building now (electricity and bauxite).

our idea would either require every road to be tore up and re-done *OR* wait 60 years to transition

If you had a pad every 200 metres and it was 5m long you would have to inlay a fraction of the roadway (probably not more than they currently repair), Beside every road is a power line. What
is critical is investment in clean electricity and the grid.

Currently we have plenty of money for salad shooters and SUV's :-)


Like many doomers you seem to have this impression that all industry will come to a screaming halt!,

Wrong. But hey, thanks for playing.

This is *YOUR* idea - if you can't defend it with actual data, expect it to be shot down, like it should be.

I mean where exactly do the get all the aluminum etc to build what we are building now (electricity and bauxite).

Wow. Are you an Economist? Because this 'argument' of yours ignores the idea that minerals are limited. Same with electrical generation capacity. But don't let reality stop you from putting forth an actual argument.

If you had a pad every 200 metres and it was 5m long you would have to inlay a fraction of the roadway

Ok, Mr. Electrical Engineer - show your math. Show how much current needs to be in the road coils to transfer:

15Kwh (going 60 mph for an hour) as the power needed. (Hey Engineer-Poet - wouldn't you need to transfer 600000 watts as you pass over each pad?)

Using your obvious mastery of physics, show how the car will not be slowed down, sped up, or even pulled closer to the ground when crossing these mystical coils of yours (otherwise the car would bounce up and down while traveling) while transfering power.

Please also explain how you intend to prevent induction current in all other systems while traveling.

Beside every road is a power line.

Based on the hand-wave of you? If you can't express the amount of metals needed, your claim is as good as 'probably not more than they currently repair'. (Consider that the typical repair is a truck with hot asphalt mix that is put into the hole - so this bauxite+electricity stuff must be really cheap!)

What is critical is investment in clean electricity and the grid.

Then do what is critical VS handwaving some bull fecal material.

Currently we have plenty of money for salad shooters and SUV's :-)

This is the extent of your argument? A $39.95 plastic gadget? And things that have a blue-book of $8995 and the dealer offers you $3000 on trade in? And you conclude your argument with a 'smile-y'?

Feel free to come back when you have an actual real plan.

In spite of your reservations, which come close to saying that it would be outside of the bounds of physics, here is one actually working:

Eric, without wishing to be in any way personally offensive, you do rather try to shift the burden of proof without accepting any yourself.
You demand a complete impact statement, which is obviously outside of the bounds of the time and resources most of us here have available, but critically you also ask for it in response to very loose 'concerns' you have.

Perhaps it might equally be asked that you should be specific and numeric in your concerns.
If you don't feel we have the metal for this, what are your numeric assumptions, and how are they arrived at in detail?
If you feel that repair bills on the road will be too high,show how.
And so on...
If you want specific, fully worked answers, please provide specific, fully worked questions.

In practise of course, no-one knows how practical a lot of these ideas are, and in order to find out what happens in the real world is someone, in this case the Swiss, builds a demonstrator so that we can find out and the issues become clearer.
No-one sits in an ivory tower and tries to come up with a solution to everything, when we don't even know what issues are going to arise.

I am glad I was able to set your mind at rest in that the thing obviously works, so at least from the point of view of physics no laws are broken.

I await any detailed critique you have with interest, but in view of the work involved do not expect any response for some time.

Perhaps it might equally be asked that you should be specific and numeric in your concerns.

My concerns are simply the amount of metal needed to create the coils in the road.

Now, add in the effects on other transport that is not designed to pass over a large magnetic field and the stated plan is by far the poorest gadjet-baun mentioned to date as a pathetic attempt to keep the happy motoring going.

In practise of course, no-one knows how practical a lot of these ideas are,

Lets see - consumption of metal to create the induction loops. Currents generated in metals via the passing over an induction loop. A change in the momentum via passing over an energized loop.

And I've not mentioned the possible biological effects of a large changing magnetic field.

I am glad I was able to set your mind at rest in that the thing obviously works, so at least from the point of view of physics no laws are broken.

Works - sure in a broad sense. A bad plan? Yea, you betja. It smacks of making H2 gas from splitting water, then sending the H2 into a fuel cell, taking the resulting H2O from the fuel cell and boiling it with power from the fuel cell to make distilled water. Which you then add electoites and drink it.

I've got reservations myself, Eric - the efficiency of induction is relatively low - they considered it for EV's, but it seems easier to plug them in.
Just the same, to me it usually seems a good idea to give most things a go, if you don't try to roll them out on too large a scale - experiment trumps theory every time!
Reality can spring some surprises, and for specific situations other metrics may be more important than metals used or energy efficiency.
Let a thousand flowers bloom! ;-)

I was going to edit the comment to toss in the question:

And how will bicycles use these inductified roads? But I'll just do this and respond:

they considered it for EV's

If I remember the EV-1 had a configuration with 'inductive charging paddles'. But they were not 1/3 of a meter away. Or 1/10th.

the efficiency of induction is relatively low

Right off the bat, the amount of power needed to transfer is so high that the resources consumed to accomplish it makes the idea dead on arrival.

Thus far the numbers being shown is E10-6 watts.

To give one an idea of the kind of magnet 4 kW gets ya:
http://www.genscoequip.com/magnets.htm (1/2 ton of force)


You are an obnoxious troll, but I'll play your game. 15kwH @ 60 mph translates to to about 4kWh at 30 mph (didn't i mention urban areas), which is 50,000 metres per hour or on my calc passing 250 pickups so that would be 16 Joules per pickup, (oh did I mention this may be an adjunct to batteries), not quite got your 600kW figure but I'll cut you some slack maybe your finger trembled on the 0 key as you fermented this vitriol, as for having to slow down etc I'd suggest you read up on some of the near field inductive coupling research (google witricity) if they can get 60J/hour @ 40% over 2 metres, I'd assume its better over a distance of 10cm.

The salad shooter/SUV comment I think went over your head


Neven, if you have any links to the Geneva experiment they would be appreciated - I mainly came up with CERN on googling!
Perhaps I should point out that I do not read German, but can struggle through in French.

You are an obnoxious troll

Rather than show the math - or show how my quick spitball of needing to xfer 600kW was wrong - that is your response?

Good thing the defender of the idea is you - it'll never get implemented with such poor skills.

but I'll play your game.

You see defending your idea as a game?

(oh did I mention this may be an adjunct to batteries)

Hrmmm. the original statement was:

To me it is absurd that we persist with this 19th century restriction that a vehicle has to carry its own energy

So you've backpeddled.

would be 16 Joules per pickup

One Joule is about 2.7778 ×10−7 kilowatt hour.

Its gonna take a whole lotta '16 Joule' power transfers to get to 4kWH.

Do you even have a clue on what gauge wire or voltage will be needed for this "plan"?
(After that a discussion of the oscillation frequency of the coils can be discussed. I might have to break out the old motors book to look at the reactive power factors)

not quite got your 600kW figure

And yet YOUR answer is a power transfer rate of .00000044 of a watt.

if they can get 60J/hour

Ohhhh! 60 Joules! That is on the wrong side of useful when one is looking for 4Kwh. Or 15Kwh.

I just checked the specs on the Mitsubishi a bit more carefully, and they have a proprietary fast charge mode which gives you 80% of charge in 30 minutes.
Of course, it would need rolling out, but by the time that happens range is likely to go up anyway.
I don't normally drive over 160km before stopping anyway, so a 30 minute break whilst the car re-charged would be no hardship.
This car sounds as though it will be the first which raises the bar to a point where it is 'good enough'
Whatever the issues we might have with electricity supply or the economy it doesn't seem likely that EV cars will be a showstopper.

One of the problems with fast-charge electric cars is the sheer throughput of energy. The Mitsubishi iMiev EV has a capacity of 16 kWh. To charge it to 80% in 30 minutes would require an electric socket producing 25.6 kW of power. That's the equivalent of having ten kettles boiling all at once! Most homes would need some electrical work done to be able to support that level of output. Dedicated filling stations could be built to handle that level of power, but retrofitting existing gas stations might be tricky - imagine ten cars all juicing up at once, drawing 250 kW from the local network.

I'd imagine that there is no suggestion of doing it at home, and they are looking at supplying power at filling stations.
They'd maybe buffer with capacitors and batteries at the charging point, so the whole thing would be too expensive to have at home.
This is the kind of issue they are working out with their vehicles at the utilities who are testing them.
This is also a proprietary system, and Renault/Nissan using NEC batteries intend to build charging networks in Denmark and Israel using, presumably, a different system.
This is really the sort of thing that the EU and US should bang heads together about, but looking beyond all the hassles which incompatibility will bring, this Mitsubishi battery shows that modern batteries can fast charge, so problems are inherently soluble, which is one up on being inherently insoluble.
Some of the other battery makers, Altairnano for one, claim fast recharge - 10 minutes for Altairnano, if memory serves.
BTW, they are talking about a price of perhaps $17k, presumably plus battery hire, which would be great if they hit it:
Mitsubishi Keeps Testing, Improving i MiEV Electric Car : TreeHugger
They think the battery will be good for around 7,000 recharges.

No word on when it might get to the States, but they can probably sell all they can make at first in Japan and Europe at higher profits.

The one scenario for recharging stations away from home that makes sense is to put up PV-powered metered recharging stations at employer's parking lots. If any employees have any type of EV and can drive it to work, then the daytime hours when they are at work are the perfect time to recharge their cars, using PV panels.

That makes sense in the US, but not, unfortunately, in Japan or northern Europe, the first two markets for the car.
Electricity here is cheaper at night, and solar power much more problematic.
If you have a garage though there is no reason you can't charge it overnight - just spend a couple of pounds on a timer switch so that it charges during cheap rate.

Ten years from now, I suspect that most of the 4-wheeled passenger vehicles on the streets will either be: a) electric golf carts (the LPG and CNG ones having been converted to electrics), bought from courses that have closed because too few people have the discretionary money to play golf anymore; or b) old compact and subcompact cars that have been converted to EVs, with enough old lead acid batteries in the trunk to provide enough power for trips around town of a few miles or so. Charging will take all night, if one is fortunate enough to still be able to afford grid electricity, or maybe one will have to just drive every other day (or maybe even just every two or three days or less) so that they can trickle charge their batteries during the day with their single PV panel. There will be a few purpose built NEVs, PHEVs, maybe even a few Volts, but most people simply won't be able to afford the batteries, or the recharging of them, for trips of more than a few miles. It will just be too costly for people to be moving around masses of heavy excess metal at high speeds. Everyone will want the smallest, lightest vehicle that they can get, because such vehicles will require fewer batteries and less recharging electricity to maintain a minimal capability for local mobility.

Alas, the condition of roads may also be a limiting factor.

Assuming a 5% decline rate, we'll still have 60% of our current oil, worldwide, in 10 years. A lot of that oil must be made into gasoline (we can't turn it into diesel without wickedly expensive additions to refineries). Say that export land reduces America's allotment to 30% (it'll still have domestic production). If everyone either drives half as much or drives a more efficient car (easy enough), I might expect there to be 60% as many gas-sipping cars on the road taking half as much gas each in 10 years.

Not BAU, but I don't think we'll have made the transition to EV by then. In today's dollars, I expect gas to be about $5-10/liter by then--enough to take seriously, but not a serious deterrent for anyone who lives close to their job. Why? At that point, gas will be 25%-50% of world gdp, and I doubt it can get higher than that.

Sure, people will want the "smallest lightest vehicle that they can get", but my guess is that most of those light vehicles will still be gas powered--say a 2008 Accent, Echo, or Fit (or whatever the name is nowadays). And there'll be lots of Vespa scooters, too. Electric may still be a rich-people's game.

And of course everyone will complain bitterly.

[of course if gas is cheap enough for too long, long haul trucks will also suck up gasoline, in which case who knows?]

Yes, there will still be oil and gasoline in 10-15 years, but the US Govt & military will have first call on it, and state & local governments, freight and mass transit, agriculture, industry, etc. will have 2nd call on it. There might still be a little bit available for the general public, but the general public will generally not be able to afford it. Most ordinary people are going to have no choice but to figure out other, non-gasoline-powered ways of getting around. Most of them are going to figure out that they need to get around a lot less than they used to.

I think you're on the right track, WNC. Ten years from now people probably will be coupling the most efficient source of solar energy and the lightest possible mode of transit, with a range of maybe up to twenty miles a day. Of course, that will be eating an apple and then getting up off their butt and walking. Hey, they might even splurge on a pair of shoes-- if they can afford all that extra souped up after-market equipment for their ride.

Since I commute to work on foot every day, I'm already ahead of the curve!

You can charge plain old lead-acid to 80% in an hour without harming them, so 30 minutes is no great achievement.

160km on a charge though. That's well above most people daily useage (although watch the complaints flood in that it can't do 500km/charge, doesn't recharge in five minutes, and doesn't have enough cupholders...).

A small trailer with aerodynamic fairings and a diesel generator on-board should be a popular option for EVs.

I read about a fellow who converted his VW Rabbit to an EV, and then built himself an "EV Pusher" trailer out of the front end of another VW Rabbit diesel. He had the option of running a generator, but the efficiencies of mechanical enerty -> electricity -> mechanical energy was low. His usual operating mode was to have the diesel (with an automatic transmission) drive the wheels of the trailer, and pushing the EV (hence the "EV Pusher" term). He could then set the EV to regen the batteries if needed.


The control system is obviously more complicated, as you actually have to throttle the trailer's engine to control speed. Probably beyond the reach of the average driver.

Yes, I remember someone posting a photo of something like that about a year ago.

Even better yet is to set up a producer gas generator on the trailer to produce the fuel to power the electric generator. Then all you would need to do is stop and gather up some downed wood and cut it up every now and then to refuel. One could make one's way almost anywhere that there is a road with such a setup.

There's a few people who have made a pusher-trailer out of a front cut from a FWD car. :) I doubt that'd be legal in Australia, but the authorities seem fine with them in the US.

The last I saw, GM had updated the expected price of the Volt to $40,000. IMO, the car is also too large. I'm not convinced the Volt is going to be a success at all. And I'm not sure GM is ahead of the curve. They are ahead of Ford & Chrysler, but there are a number of small companies working on pluggables. I suspect other big car companies could acquire one of those at a fraction of the cost that GM has sunk into the Volt, and wind up with a more desirable car at a better price point.

The design brief of this car is obvious.
It was to build a car which American people (circa 2005) would not mind as a full substitute for their present cars.
You can see it even in the traditional American muscle car detailing.
The world that it will actually have to deal with is likely to be very different to it's BAU made steel design.
The price point of $40k sounds fine to me, as this if it gets built is likely to be a car for the rich.
For most people they will be very lucky if they can buy an EV weighing half as much, with batteries to match so it still only has a range of perhaps 60 miles.
Fortunately for those in hot climates there seems no reason why they should not still be air-conditioned, as solar panels on the car would work well for this purpose.
In Europe both Peugeot and Renault have electric versions of their cars, which they could ramp up if they needed to.

If it is assumed that Americans must keep driving their cars 20,000 miles a year no matter what, then the Volt might (at $5/gal) save owners up to $5000 a year, which gives a lot of leeway for GM on an acceptable price. However, you're right that no one seems to have considered the possibility that Americans will learn how to drive less.

Furthermore, it seems the Volt was viewed as a primary vehicle, while the situation for many suburbanites probably is that they're saddled with an enormous SUV that they can't unload, and they might prefer an economical 2nd car for individual commuting at <$15,000.

There is not much chance of that at the moment.
The Th!nk car is to sell for £14,000 in the UK, and then you hire the batteries rather than buy them - they are being conservative about lifetimes in my estimation, and don't want to risk letting customers down
UKP14,000 TH!NK city electric car ready for showrooms
They may reduce that a bit for the US market, but the batteries are still expensive and even buying something much more modest than the Volt will not be cheap.
The best hope of a much cheaper EV or plug in would be one using a lead-acid battery with capacitors, or perhaps a Firefly battery.
China is likely to lead with those, is my guess.
Lithium batteries are still expensive.

UKP14,000 is USD 28K. If GM decide to lease the battery pack like they do (which would be an excellent idea IMO), and the battery pack costs 10K, they can drop the price to 30K and be competitive.

Actually I think the pondering with the price of Volt is nothing but of marketing trick. They know very well they won't be able to sell 100,000 vehicles a year at $40K, they are making psychological games so that when it goes out at $30K ($29,900 to be more precise :) the people to take it as cheap. They probably also want to gain political support for tax breaks to make it affordable.

Unfortunately the battery charge goes on top of the buying price.
Another £100pm;
motoring.co.za - TH!NK electric city car ready for sale

And this is based on a two seater car.
At UK petrol prices this is viable, and you don't need to find the £100pm upfront.
In London it would also be exempt the £25per day congestion charge, so it should fly off the forecourts with petrol at $8/gallon.

In the States it is hardly worth it at the moment, but would provide considerable peace of mind about rising gas prices.
For many the Ox looks a good bet when it arrives, and you will be able to buy it in configurations using cheaper sodium batteries:

If you have the money you can even buy a solar car-port:
Expensive at the moment, but this is enough power for at least two EV's

Alan, great idea about the trailers - looks like you have yourself a business!

I was thinking the same thing, so I found the specs for it here. Just yesterday I was mentioning how I was waiting for the sexy new 40 mpg car -- this one claims that it will get ~50 mpg estimated during "charge sustaining operation". I took that to mean at a constant velocity. I'm not sure what that means for a real world fuel economy, but it'll be lower than that. The 3 cylinder engine is the way to go though.

This is all looking at it from a hybrid perspective. What'll happen to the electricity costs if a sizable fraction of the public starts charging their vehicles to avoid high fuel prices? If they're doing it during off-peak hours, maybe the cost increases will be minimal.

Bah, my 2000 Honda Civic HX is rated at 43mpg highway, and I can get 48-50 mpg highway with it.. The 40mpg car is here, and it comes with a peppy 1.6L engine!

I had a look at it and couldn't fully work out what they were talking about as the numbers don't seem to work however I run it, so was hoping that someone else would reply to your questions.
However, it seems that they are saying that the Volt gets around 50mpg when it is not being run on electric only, and possibly that this includes putting some extra energy in to re-charge the battery.
With the first 40 miles 'free' they claim 150mpg average for 60 miles, so divide 150 by the 3 times that 20 goes into 60 which are the petrol driven miles and you come out with 50mpg on gas.
I got lost trying to relate that to their figures for an 80mile run, but anyway that seems to be the thrust of it.
They are currently re-designing the body as they have just noticed that the prototype was not aerodynamic.

As for the load on the grid, and EV uses around 250watts/km, so are much more efficient than petrol cars.
Time of Use metering is proven to alter behaviour, and in addition V2G systems would allow them to feed power back into the grid, so helping it out.
It will take many years before there are very large numbers of EV's to demand power, and renewables like wind and solar, and nuclear power, are all well-suited to providing it.
The grid is really under strain during peak load, so the idea would be to try to get EV owners to avoid this.

$40K!?!?!?! FGI!!!

There are all sorts of figures floated for it.
The $30k figure seemed to be based on both tax credits and GM producing them at a loss initially.
I doubt that GM will be able to afford a loss, although better volumes than they projected may make up some of that, but they would still have to ramp.
If you are waiting for a plug in, Toyota would seem to me a better bet.

GM has a bad history of introducing radical technology in one or two models of its vast lineup without proper development and quality control, then dropping it like a bad apple.

First production air suspension - Cadillac
First production turbocharged car - Corvair / Olds F85
First mass-produced front engine/rear transaxle car - Pontiac Tempest
First production sleeveless aluminum engine - Vega
First belt-driven overhead camshaft - mid-'60s Pontiac straight-6

Note that Porsche picked up several of these technologies later, a firm reknowned for sweating the details. The Japanese adopted the belt-driven camshaft for its high-output economy cars.

So these are the warning signs. But this is the first time GM has bet the farm on a new technology, and the first time it's had to, since the front-drive Chevy Citation. Which also turned into a dog, but GM had no choice but to keep throwing money at its successors until it got it right. Is there enough capital in the Western Hemisphere for GM to pull it off this time?

Super390 -

Back in my environmental consulting days I had the opportunity to come in close contact with people both at GM and Chrysler. From that admittedly limited experience I can hardly say that I've been impressed with the US auto industry.

My impression was that they are just about as bureaucratic as the federal government, tend to have a very inbred corporate culture, do everything by committee, and practice management by fear. Regarding the latter, it struck me that the chief motivation was not to do something well, but rather to not rock the boat and piss off your superiors. Having said that, the US auto industry has no shorage of talented technical people, but they are structured in a way that gives them an uncanny ability to consistently shoot themselves in the foot.

By the way, you can add to your list the first GM V8 passenger-car diesels of the early 1980s, which was nothing more than a poorly modified gas engine and which gave its unlucky owners no end of troubles. Then there was the Cadillac Cimmeron, which was nothing more than a tarted-up Chevy Cavalier and which so besmirched the venerable Cadillac name that it took several decades to regain its status among supposedly fine cars. It is also interesting to note that the ill-fated Corvair's notorious handling problems could have largely been avoided if the engineers were allowed to include a simple 'camber compensator' spring-like device in the rear, but they were overruled by the accountant types in order to save something like $15 per car.

Joule--You have masterfully described why GM=Dilbert.

I owned 5 Corvairs, including 3 of the early models, the first one of which I wrecked...

I think the Nader inspired complaints killed the Corvair with a silly notion about the swing axles. The real problem was the small 13 inch tires. With the engine mounted in the back, the weight distribution on the rear was about 65% (mol), thus the stock rear tires were seriously overloaded. With better tires, even the swing axle car handled well. The weight distribution was a problem at high speeds, as it was unstable aerodynamically. With all due respect to GM, the Corvair suspension was changed for the 1965 model year and the rear swing axles went away, replaced with independent links.

E. Swanson

Of course, this assumes that there will still be a GM around to produce those Volts after 2010. I don't take that as a given.

I could see a bidding war for the Volt engineering plans (with attached engineers willing to come along) among the surviving semi-healthy auto companies.

GE bought the Enron wind turbine manufacturing business from bankruptcy court as an example.

Best Hopes for the Volt, with or without GM,


GM is relying on the Volt to convince investors and creditors that the company has a future at all. It's going to get hairy.

IMO, as posted before: the depleting energy crunch will hit with sufficient ELM speed that the Volt is pointless--GM would be better served going straight to batt-electric, heavy-duty, short-haul, delivery trucks to keep vital goods moving from the RR & TOD stations, and the city seaports & riverports. My feeble two cents.

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

I agree !


I do too - but of course the volume of such vehicles would never keep anything like the present company afloat.

Won't work.

The leading car companies can't get the battery issues sorted out - even those who want to. Don't know about GM but I do know from two of the (if not the) most capable ones that this is THE issue.

And start-ups will not be able to ramp up production to relevant levels - how much Thinks are produced per year? 100k Volt that's not much. What annual growth rate does GM want to achieve? Toyota needed close to 10 years to build one million hybrids...

Is there any risk of hitting "Peak Lithium"?

Yes, of course. Limited planet and all.

Now, get a space elevator or 3, and people/machines in space mining space-rocks and sending refined material back to the surface and the sky's the limit!

Actually, I doubt if theres's much lithium in near-Earth space. No liquid water to dissolve and concentrate it (as in lithium brines), and no granitic rocks to concentrate it at the magmatic stage (as in lithium pegmatites). You probably could obtain a variety of valuable metals from asteroids or the Moon (e.g., nickel, platinum-group metals), but don't count on lithium.

The concern over lithium supplies was raised here:
EVWORLD FEATURE: Peak Lithium?: Lithium Ion | Electric Car | Meridian International Research

And to my mind persuasively answered both in the comments to this article and here:
EVWORLD FEATURE: Lithium in Abundance: Battery | Lithium | Evans | Tahil

Should land-based supplies be depleted, there are good possibilities of obtaining it from the sea:

It should also be noted that the original concerns were raised not in the context of an idea that battery power could not work for our civilisation, but as part of an argument for using more abundant zinc.

If we did, as some stage in the future, after building many tens or hundreds of millions of EV cars, find a restriction in lithium supplies, there are several other alternatives.
Since the lithium is not used up, but re-cycled the possibility seems fairly fanciful though.

Yep, see my post above. Batteries, and the recharging of them, are just going to be too expensive. Most people are only going to be able to afford enough battery power to move themselves around a short distance - maybe to the grocery store or the nearest mass transit node, if those are only a few miles away. Once you begin with that (what I consider to be realistic) assumption, then it follows that trying to build a highway-capable (55-65 mph, range > 100mi) battery powered car is foolish and doomed to commercial failure. The paradigm is changing. People that need to travel long distances (i.e., anything over just a few miles) will need to go via mass transit, private passenger vehicles will be for short local trips only. The priority will need to be for these to be as small and light weight as possible, so that one can get more mobility out of fewer batteries.

GM recalled the NiMH batteries in the"mild" hybrids they offer this week.

I mean if Cobasys can't build the older tech batteries reliably, how can we count on the Li-ion working?

Reading the numbers on the China CTL project, it is evident that the enormous global coal reserves are going to deplete a lot quicker than forecast, and CO2 emissions are going to increase a lot quicker than forecast.

If China continues increasing its coal production at the current rate then they will run out of coal in early 2025. That's 17 years away. Even if they hold production steady their coal reserves will run out before most of their power plants are due for replacement. For what it's worth, here's my half-assed projection of Chinese coal consumption and reserves (all I did was assume a constant growth rate in consumption). All numbers in thousands of tonnes.

...Year... Consumption Reserves
2005 2380 114500
2006 2569 111931
2007 2774 109157
2008 2994 106163
2009 3232 102931
2010 3489 99442
2011 3767 95675
2012 4066 91609
2013 4389 87220
2014 4738 82482
2015 5115 77367
2016 5522 71845
2017 5961 65884
2018 6435 59449
2019 6946 52503
2020 7499 45004
2021 8095 36909
2022 8739 28171
2023 9433 18737
2024 10184 8554
2025 10993 -2440(Oops, sold out)

I would guess in 5 to 10 years we'll just ship all our coal to China and have them turn it into petroleum and ship it back to us. No CTL plants of any significant scale are likely to be built in the U.S anytime soon. There's way too much opposition from the anti-global warming lobby and nimby crowd. It will be very ironic that opposition to home grown CTL plants will increase the amount of CO2 released per barrel of oil created.

Maybe you meant millions of tonnes? Per Wikipedia China's reserves are 114.5 billion tonnes, and production in 2006 was 2.38bln.


P.S. These are vast amounts... just to think about it, these would fill 100 mln. rail cars with coal... a train of those would circle the world 25 times.

You are of course correct, the data is in millions of tonnes. I was talking to someone while I wrote that about something measured in thousands and slipped up. And yes, by the way, these are F'ing large amounts of Coal. In fact if you look at the Wikipedia article you'll see that China produces more than twice the Coal that the U.S. does despite having much smaller reserves.

The 114.5 bt reserve number you started with in 2005 is based on the 1990 China national resource survey, as reported to the WEC in 1992. China afterwards did not update its WEC numbers and it is still reported in such publications such as BP. In 2003, they completed a third survey that found 189 bt of reserves. Even with this resource base, production would peak somewhere around 4-4.5 billion t/yr, but this would open a gap in demand that would, by 2020, exceed the total amount of traded coal in the Asia-Pacific region. They are going to hit the wall on coal somewhere around 2015.

Power generation, coke production, cement production, and district heating are the 4 top uses of coal in China and the main drivers. None is expected to keep up current rates of growth after 2 to 7 years.

CTL is irrational. Their process would result in 28% conversion efficiency with high (11 t/t) water use. It won't fly.

Power generation and district heating are replaceable by nuclear power, as China ramps that up.
There are other ways which are a lot less energy intensive of producing cement substitutes which would make use of the waste from coal and iron plants:

Coal is most needed for coke production.

The setting up of limited CTL capability makes sense to support the military - the US military is looking into it for the same reason.
Plus some things are just resistant to being run with electricity, liquid fuels are handy to have.
The idea of trying to substitute all oil use with CTL would be plain silly though, and China is showing no signs of trying that.

Finally, government of India has started raising the price of fuel.
Inflation touches a 13 year high, stock market down big time, PM to address the nation to explain the hike:



According to the opposition party, BJP, "government has unleashed economic terror"

The $10.60 jump in Indonesian Minas Monday was real. Though it is down $3.86 today it is still trading at over a $7 premium to Oman Crude. Last week it was trading at a $1.33 discount to Oman crude.

Things are happening in Malaysia. They have been talking about it on CNBC this morning. Something about fuel prices jumping 40 percent overnight. That was because they cut subsidies. They expect demand to drop because of that.

Ron Patterson

Or, as you have implied, it appears that the physical spot market is driving the paper market generally higher (with some peaks and valleys along the way).

As the Easter Islanders might say, "When in trouble, carve a bigger stone head!"


India Plans a ‘New Colossus’ of Its Own

When a proposal emerged to build an immense statue on an island off the coast of one of India’s largest cities, there was no point in denying a nod to New York: “It is true that the Statue of Liberty was perhaps an inspiration a little bit,” one official told Reuters.

While the technical specifications differ just a little — the new statue is to be clad in bronze, not copper, and to rise about 4 feet higher — there are big differences in theme and posture.

Lady Liberty welcoms the tired, poor and huddled masses, but the new statue off Mumbai will feature Chhatrapati Shivaji, a 17th-century warrior king who has lately been embraced by nativist parties who oppose immigration. And where Liberty stands on her own feet, Shivaji will be depicted riding a horse, the International Business Times reports.

Of course, there is symbolism and there is policy. New York has its own nativist political history, as a historian wrote in The New York Times in 2006. More recently, Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft, has been fighting uphill to increase the number of visas the United States grants for skilled workers from India, China and elsewhere.


The government’s plans has not gone down well with the people of Mumbai who feel that the move is merely aimed at winning votes with the local assembly polls round the corner. Some people have also criticized the government for being wasteful, as the money could have been used for developing the infrastructure of the city, which becomes submerged under water every monsoon.


On Tuesday, an Indian official predicted that the Mumbai statue would be finished in two years, but he was smart enough to add a caveat: “… if things go smoothly.”

It's great to be in the agribusiness industry and see a Reuters article like the one posted above about diesel irrigation. This is true and it's an issue that's been brought to our attention. Our processing plant is losing a limited amount of production acreage due to diesel prices alone. The article implies that all farmers are capitalized well enough to just switch over to electricity with a hop and a skip. In reality, our larger producers can make the switch easier, but the many small ops (farms of 300 acres or so) have trouble with costs such as current copper prices. Of course this is assuming that power lines are less than 10 miles from the circles in the first place.

Solar-Powered Biomass Gasification

One of the drawbacks of biomass gasification systems is that the energy to power these reactors is typically drawn from coal-fired power plants. To produce a truly carbon-neutral, or even better, a carbon-negative fuel, the electricity to turn waste biomass feedstocks into a syngas, which can be further processed into fuels, must come from a renewable energy source.

I was wondering what Robert might think of such a system. What does everyone think the about the energy return on such a system?

I think that this approach might be a useful as a way to store energy generated by windpower, with the synthetic fuel being used to generate electricity during periods of low wind conditions.

Even before you use solar to produce it, biogas has far better EROI than ethanol from corn:
Fuels compared

Exactly. People need to be paying a lot more attention to biogas. The technology is mature right now and has been installed around the world. It is not "the solution to all our problems", but it definitely helps, and is definitely worth doing on a wide scale.

I suppose a little bit of solar heat (and maybe a small PV to power some stiring paddles in the digester) might help boost production a bit.

theantidoomer -

Ah, at long last, you've posted an optimistic article that I can actually agree with!

As a general concept, I think solar-powered biomass gasification makes a lot of sense, for a number of reasons:

- The inherent drawback of solar power, the diurnal on/off nature of the power supply, is of far less of a dissadvantage here because the gasification reactors could be run in a batch mode, i.e., running during the daytime and idle at night. (Or the heat could be stored in chambers filled with rocks so that it can extracted at night so as to enable a continuous process.)

- If desired the gas produced could be used to run turbo-generators to produce electricity during off hours and cloudy days.

- Biomass gasification in general has an inherent advantage over ethanol and biofuel from algae because it does not entail the separation of the desired product from an aqueous media.

The latter is extremely significant, because the distillation of an aqueous solution, as in the case of ethanol, and the liquid/solids separation steps required for biofuel from algae are both expensive, energy-intensive, and problematic from a materials handling standpoint. The fact that biomass gasification is essentially a dry process gives it a big edge over the other two in that regard. Of course, you can't put the gasifier product directly into a car, but there are ways around that, as well as other valuable uses for the gas.

As with almost everything else, the viability of this process scheme will depend upon relative economics and the sorting out of the inevitable design problems that are encountered with anything new.

Ah, at long last, you've posted an optimistic article that I can actually agree with!

A stopped clock is right at least once a day.

The inherent drawback of solar power, the diurnal on/off nature of the power supply,

Another option - learn to live within the power cycle. Work with energy while the sun shines, and slow down/stop work when the sun doesn't shine.

It's not so nice when your capital equipment also has an enforced 'holiday'.
Essentially for every unit of output you need around 3 times the capital equipment.
That is one of the advantages of biogas, incidentally - it is often used as back up for renewables so that a lot of expensive equipment does not stand idle when the sum isn't shining or the wind blowing.

It's not so nice when your capital equipment also has an enforced 'holiday'.

If one has JIT shipping, one avoids a bigger warehouse for parts and product.

On the downslope side of things - plenty of "enforced holidays" in the future.

I'm self-employed. I could stand to be a little better at enforcing my own holidays..

I have sometimes wondered if this 'constant baseload power' issue was a cause or an effect of our western work habits and 'work ethic'. Have we envied and emulated the 'Always On, Always at Full Torque' Machines that we have developed, trying to make our bodies just as good as these various powerhouses? (With the attendant rise in maintenance demands and advanced decrepitude..) .. as well as the feeling of inadequacy when we discover that we can only provide 'Intermittent and Unreliable Power' like those other wimpy, natural systems?


"Neither you, Simon, nor the fifty-thousand, nor the Romans, nor the Jews ... understand what Power is.." Jesus Christ Superstar

Oil reserves 'will last decades'

The North Sea has almost as much oil left as has already been extracted, a BBC Scotland investigation has been told.

Experts believe between 25 and 30 billion barrels could still be recovered over the next 40 years.

...The first minister and former oil economist Alex Salmond told me that there was another motivation for oil companies' reticence.

He said: "If oil companies said 'look we've got lots of reserves in the future', the immediate response of government would be to stick taxation up. So there was a kind of incentive for the big companies to underplay the significance of the province."

This appears more or less the same as an article in the Sunday Times last weekend. It also featured high up on the BBC radio news this morning. No mention of production declines of course. Is it really so difficult for these business correspondents to look up production data? Here are the government projections for future production, showing continued declines in oil and gas production:

It will be interesting to see what else they say in the special on BBC Scotland tonight.

Hayley Miller will present a special hour-long documentary - Truth, Lies, Scotland and Oil - at 2240 BST on Wednesday on BBC One Scotland

Of course it's in Salmonds interest to play up the reserves as he will use it to push harder for Scottish independence. BBC Scotland is full of people who want to break up the UK as well. For the record I am Scottish and, like the majority of Scots, do not support independence.

Do report back on it - I am south of the border so will not see it.

I think it will be available on BBC iPlayer everywhere in the UK. Also if you have Sky satellite you can get BBC1 Scotland wherever you are. Might not be able to watch it live myself but will report if I do.

One quote from the trailer: "The crunch will come in 2010 plus or minus 2 years.". Peak Oil reference?

Thanks. In fact I've just noticed that the first sentence on the web report comes close to being one definition of an oil province past peak: "The North Sea has almost as much oil left as has already been extracted.."

Exactly, having almost a half left means less than half is left which means they are past peak.

This is typical government speak, spinning really bad news and trying to make it sound like good news.

Re Independence.
I have thought long and hard about this over the last couple of years

Declared Interest: I am an English Brit. (are we allowed to say English any more? on the last Census it was White British - other...), an economic migrant with more years in Scotland than England now. Two Kids both brought up here and better for it.

If Scotland had been in control of the Oil from the seventies, then Scotland may have been as well off as Norway.

Equally, they could have blown it though.

Westminster down played the likely potential of the UKCS Oil endowment in the run up to the Scottish referendum. The 30 year rule let this slip out a couple of years ago.

Yes, this documentary comes at an interesting point of inflexion for Scotland. Were Scotland to have the oil remaining in place, then Scotland's future may well be way better than the UK average. Assuming it doesnt get wasted.

Salmond is probably the smartest rascal in Scottish politics. He runs rings around the other numpties. Like him or loathe him, you cannot help but admire him.

The remaining endowment would ensure Scotland is cash positive for a decade and a half. Scotland has a modest population and a lot of land. Wind, Tide and Hydro potential. It could still rethink nukes - not popular at present, but time could change this. Access to the oil endowment would fund a little country's survival plans.

But above all, if GW is likely (my jury is out on AGW, but not GW). then Scotland may have something much more important than oil.

Fresh Water.

The line dividing Scotland and England takes an inflection before the border into a North-West direction.
This political oddity is unimportant at the moment, but would become a lot more important in the event that Scotland went independent, as much of the oil province in fact lies in English waters, as according to international law that line would be continued out into the north sea to show the boundaries between two nations.
Aberdeen is the shipment point, as the UK was intact, but a lot less oil would have been Scottish than currently imagined.
Most of the new prospective fields are however in Scottish waters proper.
In energy short times it is also difficult to run a grid for as small a population as Scotland, especially if you have a neighbour with ten times the population that is irked.
I suspect that real Scottish influence would greatly decrease in the event that they elect to go for independence.
I also suspect that most Scots are aware of this.

True enough, That little kink means England would have picked up the original Central Fields, but the Giant Northern fields would have been Scottish (or Hebridean or Orcadian).

If the union does fragment, then it will be sad in many ways, but I think it is at greater risk now for a variety of reasons - not least devolution and an eventual riposte from England - mostly IMO because of the kack-handed approach to both England and Scotland by Labour.

Salmond - probably the cleverest Scottish politician in a hundred years has played a poor hand very well. He has outmanouvered Labour on all fronts. He is currently looking for 10% of the price windfall from the oil dividend - not all of it mind - clever that.

Looks reasonable - that. And he knows full well that Gordy cannot afford it. Whatever happens, Alec comes out shiny and Gordy looks like a curmdugeon.

Whatever happens post peak, I wouldnt like to live in Leeds though.

The great conurbations will be a disaster.

Should be an interesting night of telly.

As long as you've got a telly that will run on wood shavings.....

Time to set up Mr. Baird's televisual device and get the dog strapped into its dynamic flux generating wheel.

This now has it's own topic. Truth, Lies, Oil and Scotland

And there was also a studio debate on Peak Oil. Featuring...

No! Don't jump! Watch out, that camera man is close and might push you over the edge!

OMG, now this is out. Salmond shouldn't have told this. The government, who isn't blind and knows how to read, will undoubtedly immediatly call the oil CEOs and punish them very hard with skyrocketing taxes !

Look at it the other way. There is no way scotland is getting independence before the oil has run out - so its actually in Alex Salmond's interest to play reserves down.

Eh? Are you suggesting English tanks on the streets of Edinburgh if Salmond calls an independence vote on the oil issue and wins?

They did it to Ireland.

Yes, and English troops have put down Scottish rebellions before. But not in modern history!

Northern Ireland does not have a majority for independence to this day if you are referring to "The Troubles" and Ireland (Eire) was given independence - eventually...

If we get to a Scottish/English civil war then peak oil is the least of our problems. It won't happen. A "Yes" vote in an independence referendum is very unlikely, or is a very long way off, in my view in any case. Without Salmond's charisma the SNP would fade back into the background.

If voting changed anything, they'd outlaw it.

Just because there might happen to be a vote held by Salmond doesn't actually mean much. All Westminster has to do is say "very interesting, we will now setup the scottish independence review subcommittee to examine the terms of any proposed separation, once they have examined all issues we can hold a vote of all interested parties in light of the full details, and following acceptance by a qualified majority we can commence actions to prepare for a separation..."

In short they can easily push it 10-15 years down the road. Any action taken to try and ignore that and "declare independence" would simply result in Westminster taking all assets, by force if needed, "until terms have been agreed". I'll guess they will insist than anyone born in scotland and currently living in the rest of the UK will have a vote - which will change things a bit.

Scotland goes nowhere until is more liability than asset.

Legally, I believe, a simple majority of Scots MPs at Westminster (not the Scottish parliament) vote for independence and it happens. A simple majority of Scots MPs created the political union (by choosing to sit at Westminster) and a simple majority can break it. The political Union was not created by force. After the next general election Salmond will likely be a lot closer to that majority. Note that would legally split the parliaments but not the kingdom. Queen Elizabeth II would still be reigning monarch in Scotland.

It is true that a referendum would require enacted legislation before taking effect but it would be very hard for the UK government to ignore.

Statements such as "Scotland goes nowhere until is more liability than asset" are exactly what Salmond wants to hear as it will convince more Scots to be in favour of independence right now. In fact he'd use it in the general election campaign.

Like the man said, divvy it up by international law and please leave. All of you. I'll no sooner have a Frenchman governing me than a Scot.
No Scottish subsidy from the Exchequer. All the Scots Welfare hordes can look to their own for support and good riddance.
I've grown up and listened to the spew from over the border, the constant whinging about this, that and the other when in truth the Scots have done nothing but extremely well from the Union. Give any failing social group a scapegoat and they grab it.
Scots nationalists are short-sighted, hypocritical, bitter and downright stupid. Sorry but I feel very strongly on this issue after several nasty incidents of racism from our 'cousins'.
Eat and whinge yourselves into an early grave and cry freedom, cretins.

And your comment smacks of hate-filled English nationalism which I dislike as much as Scottish Nationalism.

And we seriously wonder why war is more normal for the world than peace? Asking for peace between Sunni and Shia (to name just one conflict) when this is what some Scots and English think of one another? There really is no hope :-(

I don't think you quite understand - I don't dislike Scots or indeed any nation; I dislike the particular naievety of Scottish nationalism. In fact my family are 1/2 Scot and 1/2 German so no pinning English nationalism on me.
The public have been whipped into a fervour by Salmond's posturing. When no-one challenges the ludicrous propoganda of Braveheart et al but instead erects a statue of Wallace in the likeness of Gibson the Racist ... then you know you have a problem.
I'm happy that you haven't experienced racism but please don't deny it is a problem. Maybe not in Aberdeen but try hanging around further south.
And it's a simple proposition - no goverment by foreign nationals. Works for Scotland, works for England.
Except we have this post-colonial guilt trip crap that Scotland seems to have conveniently forgotten.
England subsidises Scotland and always has done since the 17th century. They joined us, if not drove, our foreign colonialist enterprise and then play the oppressed colony themselves.
Squeaking about oil in the last 20 years smacks of a spoilt teenager declaring himself his own man and then demanding to borrow the car.

Like I said, I was born in England.

Quite a few colleagues, oil service types, all peak aware, all from England, quietly agree. Scotland, we agreed is the place to be. Not many wanting to rush back south.

Oh, and not one 'racist' incident in 25 years for any member of my family. The ones I have heard of were toward types that seem to think a 'colonialist attitude' is ok. If you fit in, go with the flow, help at rugby clubs, Scouts and dont act like a 'Nigel' you do ok.

If you arrive and start changing everything and behaving like a prat, then sure, you get resented (same in Britanny, same in Tuscany, same on the Costa Blanca). I have seen that in the 80's and 90's. Not so much now though.

Scotland is a lot like Yorkshire in my childhood. Safe, Simple, down to earth, not given over to displays of overconsumption. There is no way my kids could have lived as well if back in Leeds.

We agreed that England could seriously kick off in the next decade.

It will get downright nasty and tribal. In some places it already is.

Not because the English are intrinsically nasty - far from it. But TPTB have cooked up a massive social experiment without any regard for the consequences of post peak life.

Interesting. Mary will finally get her revenge, perhaps.

It would appear that Globalization has destabilized the UK and US as much as it has most every other country. There's been a few allusions to potential sectional problems here in the States, and a number of colonial-like dependencies exist. Peace and Harmony are nice concepts/realities when obtained, but human history is dominated by competition over scarce resources supporting carrying capacity. The latter is the reality making the future potentially dark.

Even centuries from now, there will probably be teams of people or draft animals providing the power to pump up oil from stripper wells by the pint per day. Somehow this does not give me a great deal of comfort.

South Dakota Approves Zoning for Oil Refinery

The final tally was 3,932 votes in favor of the ordinance and 2,832 against. Hyperion touted the so-called "green" technology in its proposed energy center, which it claims would be the world's cleanest. The refinery would process 400,000 barrels of tar sands crude from Alberta into low-sulfur gasoline, diesel and jet fuel. Supporters argued that tapping into reserves from our neighbor to the north would reduce the nation's dependence on Mideast oil and add badly needed refining capacity in the U.S., where the last all-new refinery was built in 1976.

World's cleanest refinery - isn't that like being the prettiest Denny's waitress? ;) Just cuz you're the best doesn't necessarily mean you're all that good.

I'm only surprised that it wasn't somewhat more lopsided. The Dakotas have been suffering from the effects of being the last stop on most of the pipelines, experiencing actual fuel shortages over the past year. Having a local refinery that makes you a net exporting region for finished products ought to fix the shortage problem.

RE the article up top "Stay home, read, have sex ".

It looks like the stress relief, freetime, and financial insecurity issues might just trigger another BABY BOOM!

Yeah, social security will be saved!

[Sarc off]

Yeah, I guess Ed McMahon won't be the only one who will be going out with a bang.

Yeah, more and more it seems like humanity's only chance is the accidental development and release of a crazy Biotech air-born Infertility drug. Like the terminator seed for humans, so you've gotta spray your crotch with Monsanto's Round-Up to start making sperm ;)

Mr. Les Knight founder of the Voluntary Human Extininction Movement ( www.vhemt.org ) has a simple message:

"Live Long and Die Out"


Q: I'm extra smart. Shouldn't I pass on my genes?

Well, could you pass a minimal intelligence test if one were required for a "license to breed"?

To find out, simply answer this question:

In light of the 40,000 children dying of malnutrition each day, and considering the number of species going extinct as a result of our excessive reproduction, do you think it would be a good idea to create another of yourself?


Thank you for playing.

Funny thing is 99% of humans, via their actions, will still answer YES no matter how thickly the feces of consequence oozes from the Pandora's box of exponential population growth. :) We are no match for our DNA. I got banned from one of the most popular vegan forums just for arguing in straight-talking, non-PC terms that having babies at this point of overpopulation/Energy Descent/Coming Crapstorm is MORALLY WRONG, because it guarantees increased suffering, because ALL humans use resources, and we are obviously in gross overshoot. But most limp-wristed, PC-spouting liberal vegans are as ignorant about exponential population growth as meat-luvin' SUV drivers - all they hear is "let's deny poor women their "reproductive rights." We are so screwed when even the supposed Vanguard of culture just doesn't get it, hahahaahhaha ;) When the "reproductive rights" of women trumps the maintenance of the biosphere, you know your species is in for a hell of a ride.

It sounds like you are saying parents have zero responsibility for their children's welfare.

Not sure why you say that, all I'm saying is that there is going to be a dieoff unless humans face up to the truth: the more babies humans make, the worse the strain on the web of life. So we need to stop celebrating when a supposedly informed person has a crapload of kids - we're all stocked up, there's no need to order more inventory. But I guess if you can't say these simple facts in public, there is indeed no hope for humans to actually behave with wisdom instead of just like robots or yeast in a bottle. If you don't educate people on the ROOT cause of this finite planet's myriad anthropogenic problems - what hope do you have of lessening human suffering in the future? I've been studying these issues from years and it's quite obvious that the longer BAU lasts, the MORE suffering will boomerang back to us human beings. Keep mopping up all that spilled water, invent better and better mops, but no matter what, if you keep the faucet of overpopulation running - humans will suffer the greatest amount. If we reduce population intentionally, it may seem hard but it is nothing like the ass kicking Dieoff Reality has waiting in the wings! ;) Are we nothing more than sex robots? I suppose it is hubris to think we can go through overshoot like this and control the astounding downward trajectory of the suffering coming at us, but I've got a tiny, tiny part of me that wants to believe. The rest of me thinks even talking about this stuff is a total waste of time.

My point is that if you have children, take care of them. Currently, there are a lot of children being born to parents/women who have no ability to feed or care for them-they can't even take care of themselves. Re the sex robots, the Japanese are working overtime on that one.

I think veganmaster's point is that given mass extinctions, population overshoot, resource depletion, and the imminent population crash and die-off, it isn't possible to really "take care of your children" in this environment, emphasis on the word "care".

I'd also argue that for the most part, two people do an insufficient job of raising children. For the majority of human evolution, children were raised in community, with many people taking part in raising a child. Schools, churches, daycare centers, Disney, and television are pale shadows of substitutes for a human environment.

You have starving people continuing to reproduce-that is a little different than letting your kids watch too much TV.

To paraphrase Will Rogers - we will be the first generation to starve to death in front of a TV set.

That reminds me of a scene from The Terminator where children in the tunnels were huddled together watching a TV turned into fireplace, and never explained in that film was how the humans fed themselves and thus survived the machine's onslaught.

Uhm hum.

It comes down to one issue when you are discussing it like this, and that is "Who decides".

As soon as the answer is anybody but "me" (for individual cases of "me") expect pitchforks, tar and feathers.

If you are serious about population control eliminate cheap food policies and all instances of humanitarian aid to poor countries. People starving in the streets and dieing in wars and riots will knock the population down in a hurry to locally sustainable levels.

If you believe the doomers this will happen everywhere anyway.

I'm a bit more optimistic on the whole, but I expect that this will be a local solution in many areas (mostly because it always has been).

"I'm a bit more optimistic on the whole, but I expect that this will be a local solution in many areas (mostly because it always has been)."

Well, obviously. The point is, do we do it intentionally, or do we let those 4 dudes on horseback get the job done for us.

AKA, "are humans smarter than yeast".

Jury still out on that one...

r4ndom - "It all comes down to who decides?"

That is so beside the point now as to be irrelevant. The Malthusian concept of the earth not being able to sustain mankind or his waste is here and now. We either take strong measures to curb populations as well as resource use or we will have it thrust upon us by reality.

Humans in poorer countries are a much smaller problem than Americans "livin' large". Our lifestyles require 300 times the resouces to sustain as a poor Kenyan or a bushman.

I do believe that the extension of aid to resource strapped nations is necessary to at least keep the illusion of humanity in place. The dominant culture without cheap energy and resources is about to abandon the concept of charity. Charity will once again begin at home which means the needs of the rich will be taking care of.

I think that vasectomies should be free of charge and encouraged as a government policy. Eliminate the tax-deduction for dependents and child-care.

Can I ask for a non-child restaurant section?

Your reading of history is rather singular.
If things get tight those who have the resources usually wipe out those who have least to stretch things a bit further.
If history is any guide then the massive population decreases are likely to occur in the poorest areas, whilst the best strategy for richer areas from a survival point of view since losses are likely to be incurred in wiping out the poorer is to have many children so that your gang is bigger.
Somehow I doubt that human nature has changed.
Not much use facing the harsh facts about population if you don't face the harsh facts about what people always do about it when push comes to shove - and they are quite right from a survival point of view.

Dave - I'm Irish and a large clan didn't necessarily work out for us. The Protestant model of the nuclear family has been much more effective in the long run.

You're right about the wealthy countries allowing the poorer nations to starve. I'm sure while they're on the way down there will be evangelical missionaries there to offer a bowl of rice with a helping of the Lord!

I think that vasectomies should be free of charge and encouraged as a government policy.

Vasectomies are irrelevant, especially if optional.

One man can father hundreds of children per year given the opportunity.

Tubal Ligation is the only really effective option, a woman rendered infertile cannot be replaced.

This is why women's reproductive rights are brought up as the major issue, because when talking about encouraged or forced sterilization it is the women who count. That brings up the further spectre of which women get sterilized, as it is morally offensive enough that it must be pushed off onto "them".

There is no palatable solution to population control. All the effective options fail one test or another on the moral scale.[edit] except for educating women. that discourages population growth effectively and is morally secure.

The right to have a family has been declared a Universal Human Right [by UN charter, participating countries only, definition of "family" and permitted conditions may vary]. So only voluntary birth control is on the table. The best way to achieve that seems to be increasing wealth, and better education, particular for women, as you have noted.

By contrast, the ability to obtain/use contraception or the ability to die (assisted, voluntary euthanasia) have not been declared universal human rights.

Population growth is pretty much enshrined into the system.

Bob - "Population growth is pretty much enshrined into the system."

By the system you mean the one that we contrived based on our belief systems, right?

...Gaia doesn't care about the system.

"Population growth is pretty much enshrined into the system.Population growth is pretty much enshrined into the system."

I agree, and this is why we are totally screwed. If we can't talk about population control, everything else is pissing up a rope. Oh great! 40 mpg cars! Deck chairs, Titanic, rearranging of.

Your question asserting the wisdom of making a copy of one's self misses a basic fact: having one or two children per couple does not increase the population.

I am an engineer/programmer working for a very large drilling equipment manufacturer. I have spent my whole adult life (20 yrs) working in this field. In Houston, this is the money job.

During the last year, I have read the posts on this site (like a junky). I have learned that having some understanding of the details make a huge difference in truly grasping the magnitude of the problem. A good example would be the recent discussion of new tanker usage after V&M (Venezuela and Mexico) fall of the ELM cliff.

IMO, there has been a lack of focus on the huge engineering effort put into actually constructing drilling rigs for all the new places people just assume we can go. I think too many people still have those pictures in their mind of old wooden rigs covering the landscape. The kind you can imagine being constructed by a carpenter and a shade-tree mechanic. The reality is much different. The new classes of offshore and arctic rigs are billion dollar systems that take years of planning, designing, and constructing. In the future, I will try to post some example stories to help our collective vision on this area of the overall problem.

I will just say that with deeper holes and harsher environments, the problems we face become exponential. Examples include much heavier lifting, high grade steel (for low temperature at -4 deg F).

Matt Simmons touches on this a little bit in his standard spill, when he says that experienced oilfield workers are retiring and there are not enough rigs to scale up.

Yep, we entering the mother of all energy crises with old fields, old equipment and (alas) old people.

Interestingly enough, a few months ago I went to a recruitment talk by a guy at Chevron just for kicks. One of the big motivators for why the guy was there was that exact reason, the oil industry is old and retiring soon and they need to get younger people in to learn the ropes before it's too late.

I think too many people still have those pictures in their mind of old wooden rigs covering the landscape. The kind you can imagine being constructed by a carpenter and a shade-tree mechanic.

No, I think most people have no grasp of what it takes to build infrastructure, period. It's not just drilling rigs. Nuclear power plants, rail lines, electric cars, wind turbines, solar plants, etc. - people just seem to assume we can build as many as we want, when we want.

But your "tales from the front" will be most welcome.

I face a similar issue in my job. I manage a database marketing environment for a small association. The problems are trivial compared to billon dollar oil rigs, but I think the concept is the same. I'm charged with making us "data driven" as an organization. The powers that be expect me to be analyzing data, but in reality most of my time is spent building data infrastructure just to enable the reporting and analyzing. I'm also being pushed to give marketers the ability to generate their own marketing lists, but yet they have no skill sets with SQL or the tools to access the data. They think they can just "push a button". It is the same issue, they have no idea of the complexity involved and how things can break very easy.

I think it has been talked about before here at TOD, how society anymore is becoming more complex and interdependent and thus more at risk of collapse or breaks in the system. Another example of this, is how a couple of weeks ago while at the grocery store, I had to wait a couple of minutes to pay because the computers were down. I asked what their back up plan was if the computers ever went down for a couple of weeks. The manager said, they would be out of business, there was no back up plan. There is a level of complexity, we can't even buy food if the computers don't work.

-- rant off --

I think this is the logical result of specialization. We have so much down the road of specialization, that now management is considered totally separate field from actual production. They think an MBA is enough that you can manage the development of a software product, the construction of a drilling rig or of a nuclear power plant.

The result is that managers have become totally clueless on what is happening internally and the problems and limitations actual production faces. In this situation engineers are forced to take whatever crap comes from the top and do all kinds of miracles to make it work.

As a general ecological principle, specialization pays off very well -- until a catastrophe wipes out your niche. Then you go extinct, and it is the grubby generalists that inherit the earth.

That applies very well in human organizations too. That's why all empires have collapsed, because it is impossible to have a robust and effective structure that fits all times and circumstances. Panta rei

We had a really good discussion of this phenomena right here at TOD.

The Failure of Networked Systems


All of the same as above can be said for the "healthcare" "industry". It's all about "management" and "market share" and even "profit" (although that word rarely appears in the official literature.)

The real business of medicine has been submerged in a morass of complexity -- the purpose of which is simply to extract money from the commonwealth. I think only a few doctors can actually perform a physical examination without an MRI and a helical CT scanner.

Medicine is mostly a huge scam. The only truly "modern" part of it is emergency/critical care. The rest is just drug-dealing and dream-selling of ineffective surgery and technomagic procedures that do squat to address the cause of 99% of all chronic disease: overnutrition, overconsumption of animal products being the obvious part. It's proven that removing animal foods like meat and dairy from the diet will reverse and cure chronic disease. It is only controversial in those ignorant of big picture nutritional science, in those propagandized by the machine. The fact is prescription drugs are a joke when compared to the proven efficacy of SERIOUS lifestyle change, which just means eat lots more plant foods, lots less animal foods, and get intense exercise regularly. See John Robbins, Dr. John McDougall, Dr. Dean Ornish, The China Study, etc. :)

It's proven that removing animal foods like meat and dairy from the diet will reverse and cure chronic disease.

Actually, it has been proven that removing the refined carbhohydrates and sugars from the diet will reverse and cure chronic disease. Humans (and our predecessors) have several million years of history eating a natural, high-fat, high-protein, low-carb hunter-gatherer diet. The appearance and spread of the chronic diseases of civilization exactly corresponds to the introduction of refined carbohydrates into native diets. And lest anyone bring up the old saw that hunter-gatherers ate less fat than "civilized" people, please check out the diet of the Inuit or Masai, just to pick a pair of examples. Massive consumption of carbohydrates wasn't possible until the agricultural revolution, which was only about 10,000 years ago, far too short a time for humans to adapt to a high-carb diet.

Sorry that Weston Price stuff is so thoroughly discredited and weakly supported by the scientific evidence that the only real reason it is a successful meme is because people love hearing good news about their bad habits. Now, to be fair, the truth is the human body is biologically herbivorous, and this is fact, for example men have seminal vescicles, and ONLY herbivores have them. But the body is always healing, so it is true that the less food you eat, the more room the body has for healing. Thus is you eat a mixed diet, then cut out some refined carbs, thus LOWERING your kcal intake, then yes you've given your body a bit more healing room. But the enormous mountain of robust scientific evidence is clear: animal foods lead to artery disease, cancer, diabetes, etc. And THOUSANDS of pioneering Drs. like McDougall, Ornish, etc., REGULARLY help their patients reverse these EXACT diseases simply by eating as much low-fat, complex carb vegan foods as they want. The carb-bashing is unscientific superstition - there are studies overfeeding refined starches or sugars to humans and they do not cause disease by themselves, other than tooth problems obviously. Animal protein and it's high sulfur content, uric acid, cholesterol, saturated fat, lack of fiber and antioxidant, lack of vitamins - these are the characteristics that cause chronic diseases. And that is not controversial among those willing to weight the scientific evidence fairly, without bowing down to food/medical industry propaganda. Go talk to a cardiologist and they will talk about these same "risk factors" of "syndrome X" - while at the same time they promote chicken and fish to their patients, the very same foods that cause disease. This is why, when the scientific studies compare the American Heart Association's diet to a low-fat vegan diet - the AHA patients GOT WORSE, while the vegan group GOT BETTER. It's that simple, but go ahead and drink the kool-aid that puts the blame on frickin' white rice and wheat - but please go tell the rural chinese who eat a near-vegan white rice based diet, that they should be full of chronic disease - they'll laugh in your face because they are trim and healthy. Just like rural Mexicans who live on rice and beans, just like Islanders of Papua, New Guinea who eat 95% sweet potatoes, see John Robbins "Healthy At 100" for detailed info on these populations. What he found is robustly supported by the
evidence: wherever people have or are living to be 100 years old and in good shape, they eat a diet very high in plant foods and very low in animal foods, which should not be surprising because whether you "believe" it or not, YOUR body is biologically designed via milions of years of evolution to process plant foods. Just like your primate cousins. We can handle a little meat fuel, but eat it everyday and you invite disease in the long run - precisly because we have long intestines not short like carnivores and omnivores, because we can only handle a teeny bit of extra cholesterol, unlike true carnivores and omnivores who can handle lots, because our arteries get clogged with animal foods - unlike carnis and omnis that are designed for high saturated fat processing! :)

the only real reason it is a successful meme is because people love hearing good news about their bad habits.

Sorry, but this makes no sense. It's not good news about bad habits. Indeed, I suspect most people have a much harder time with a low-carb diet than with a vegetarian diet. All the "fun" foods - potato chips, ice cream, cookies, candy, soda, pizza, beer, etc. - become off-limits. Not to mention the inconvenience of cooking meat and vegetables - more difficult than microwaving the usual pasta entree.

No, the reason this "meme" is catching on is because there's truth in it. Cutting back on fat and meat did not make Americans healthier. Quite the opposite. Pointing to this study or that one is silly, because the data are all over the map. For every study supporting one side, there's another supporting the opposite. The problem is that when dealing with human health, you simply cannot do the kind of strict experiments that are necessary to find a definitive answer.

And yes, the meme is catching on. A friend of mine in Ohio had a heart attack recently, and his cardiologists told him to avoid refined carbs. They told him that was the most important diet advice they could give him.

You might to give a nod to vaccination and sanitation. Admittedly Polio in the 50s was the last big hit in the west, but both are still ongoing issues in less prosperous areas.

Regardless of its original intent, the primary goal of vaccination, just like with all pharmaceuticals, is now to make money. Without meaningful oversite, that goal dominates all decisions.

Tell that to the unvaccinnated kids who were "voluntarily" quarantined during the measles outbreak in San Diego. This idea that vaccinations are not good or necessary is the result of complacency on the part of some people because the vaccinations work well enough so we don't get huge child mortality rates. Vaccinations are one of the best things a society can do to reduce the risk of infectious disease -- there is no question about it.

Unless your child has suffered from the massive numbers of thimerisol laced vaccinations given to infants at an absurd and unnecessarily young age.

Give a passing nod to the greatest invention ever.


I'm also being pushed to give marketers the ability to generate their own marketing lists, but yet they have no skill sets with SQL or the tools to access the data. They think they can just "push a button".

Local firm - had a 'priesthood' of 7-10 people who wrote queries for an IBM 'frame. (390 If my memory is correct) Got sold on 'buy a new Oracle on HP-UX and anyone can query the database'. Over 1/2 a million spent. Now they have 15 people acting as the 'query priesthood' Project declared a success BTW.

As an engineer who has worked on cars for years, I can say that the same is true with modern vehicles. When the ECU (engine control unit) goes, the engine won't run. When the TCU (transmission control unit) goes, the automatic transmission won't shift. I had a problem with an intermittent failure in a transmission switch that sent a signal to the TCU telling in which gear had been selected with the manual lever. The car would suddenly shift into first from drive, then back to drive, which was seriously scary.

As a result of the complexity from the use of computers, cars can run very well, as long as everything is working. New vehicles are great at minimizing pollution. But, one little problem and the check engine light goes on. The average backyard mechanic probably can't find the problem, even if he knows what the trouble codes say. Thus, the poor guy can't keep his old klunker running without going in for service, which can cost enough to bankrupt him if he is already on the edge. Now, add the impact of $4/gallon gas and lots of poor folks simply aren't going to be driving much longer.

E. Swanson

But, one little problem and the check engine light goes on. The average backyard mechanic probably can't find the problem, even if he knows what the trouble codes say.

Yup. I had a late 1980's Chrysler car. Prev. owner ran it w/o oil at one point. The ECU if it got 8 volts in would activate a relay that then ran the fuel pump. Replaced the ECU, forced 8 volts via a 3 pin TOC LM chip - no fuel pump.

Solution: 2 wires from the engine to inside - closed switch to run fuel pump. Start up - throw switch, start engine. Shutdown - turn key, throw switch.

lots of poor folks simply aren't going to be driving much longer.

I've been watching for that. Mentally, I think there are less cars on the road ATM.

I think it has been talked about before here at TOD, how society anymore is becoming more complex and interdependent and thus more at risk of collapse or breaks in the system.

My own experience in the 'Information Technology' field is similar.

The inability to handle the complexity is an example of Tainter's thesis in 'Collapse of Complex Societies'

I've often pointed out that we have the technology to completely automate certain complex information-transaction systems, but lack the ability to handle the level of complexity involved. The boondoggle with the attempted IRS computer upgrade was one case in point. As I recall, over $9bn was spent before the project was abandoned. I believe the air traffic control system upgrade went a similar route. And I personally have witnessed several private company attempts to automate their IT systems fail miserably (not my fault of course :-)) so it isn't just govt. agencies that fall prey to the problem.

I just have to grimace and shake my head when some of my tin-foil-hat friends talk about the massive 'big brother' surveillance system the govt. is using to watch everyone with (some versions of the story have it based on a 1970's era COBOL code base!!). This is a govt. that can't find its own ass with both hands.

Peak complexity is here.

ET: Re big brother, I think you miss the point-a properly run system would steal your privacy but the way the USA guv runs things you could be 100% innocent (and they could know it) and still get chewed up by the system. Examples are the way Gitmo is run and the 750,000 on the no-fly list.

the 750,000 on the no-fly list.

Last I knew the list was up to almost a million. With a population of 300 million.

Thus either you are the terrorist or one of the other 299 people you pass/meet is the terrorist.

You have to deduct the 1.6 million behind bars. Maybe they are the no-fly list...

Looking forward to your examples, Eastex. What can we learn about embodied energy of the latest generation of rigs and how that affects EROEI?


Ken Deffeyes has been saying this for years! But I think it falls mainly on deaf ears.

Deffeyes has pointed out (repeatedly) that there isn't enough investment in terms of physical infrastructure and human resources that will be needed in the up-coming years to keep the industry going.

As you point out, metals change their physical characteristics with temperature changes. These changes can be abrupt if a physical crystal phase change occurs. But many aren't aware of this.

What to do? Very few listen.

That's the thing that those cornucopian optimists that keep talking about global oil production above 100 mbpd (or even much above 90 mbpd for that matter) fail to consider: for that to happen, given the long lead times required the investments should have already been committed. Where are they? They don't exist, at least not in the magnitude required. "Any day, now!" they say. Well, "any day" has pretty much come and gone by now. It is just getting to be too late. Once the global economy starts to decline, how can it possibly generate the surplus to make the mega-investments that would be necessary even to just blunt the decline in oil production?

Ah, one reason I bought my manual transmission 1982 W123 M-B diesel (mechanical fuel injection).

Manual window winders even :-)

Pneumatic central locking can be an issue, but manual override exists. No computers.

EVERY component seems designed for maximum life and relative simplicity.

And with <2,000 miles/year (if no evacs) and 88,500 on the odometer, I hope it will be my last car.

Best Hopes,


If we don't get enough people working out there soon-enough then production will drop and all mega-investments will end up disappearring. After that even the small investments will stop... because we used up all the 60-foot deep big oil fields. Any enterprising wildcat will now have to go for the one-mile down fields (that are a lot smaller).

My fantasy for my years of retirement used to be to be able to go and see a few movie matinees every week. Now - with the way the economy will most likely go - I think I'll be cutting out figures from magazines, mounting them on popcicle sticks, and making up my own stories.

I've always been in utter awe of how the oil production industry can actually manage to drill, lay piping and pumping systems etc kilometres beneath the sea, in new and harsh environments, let alone all the stuff going on BENEATH the ocean floor, and get it all going from design to production in a few short years.

I contrast that with the ability of IT consultancies to meet the standardised fully documented approaches for delivering systems to the government department I used to work for, given a similar time frame and an eventual budget not as different as you might think either.

Clearly, given that simple things are so difficult for everyone else, there is no problem the oil industry cannot tackle, presumably by magic.

Thanks for posting.
Looking forward to hearing more from you and the insight you can bring.

I think most folks are somewhat aware of the challenges, but like you mentioned with the V&M ELM cliff sometimes its not obvious. The Devil really is in the details.

eastex - thanks for the post. I would be interested in reading your articles. Readers at TOD need a reminder now and then that it's not simply the "ghost in the machine" that is the problem. I know that we watch the oil price commodity here close enough to see the whiskers grow but does anyone have information on the supply and demand prices for other resources such as "high grade steel" copper etc.? Are we really at peak everything?

This is an exciting time to be alive if you enjoy studying ant-farms (human societies) but for the vast majority who figured they signed up for a pleasant, uneventful cruise this "unfolding" will be less than welcome.

"...with deeper holes and harsher environments, the problems we face become exponential."

eastex -

would very much appreciate a post on this aspect of the oil problem from you . I have only the Matt Simmons "standard pill" version to go on so far...so would be good to hear from someone in the game on what exactly it all means. Thanks

Troll A Platform images

I have to do some real work now, but I couldn't resist a view of my world. This is the Troll Platform. I will explain the major equipment as well as their design problems as I get time. Thank you all for your welcome comments.

eastex - What a world! How are those rigs prepared for Hurricanes? Is there a special preparation when say...a Cat V is approaching?

Your quote: "Is there a special preparation when say...a Cat V is approaching?"

Yep!--shut 'er down, next abandon ship, then head for solid land at least 10 meters above sea-level. Cat V is the Grim Reaper's Hi-Power Buzzsaw, much worse than just the Swinging Blade.

To get a feel of the complexity check this out;

"Shell unveils worlds deepest oil rig"


The era of easy oil is over and the race is on to produce tomorrow's oil from new and more hostile frontier environments. The construction of the hull of one of the world's deepest oil production facilities is now complete and today it started to make its 8,200 mile journey from the shipyard in Pori, Finland, to Texas, USA.

The massive steel spar structure, which is as tall as the Eiffel Tower, and weighs as much as 10,000 family cars, forms part of Shell's most ambitious deepwater offshore oil and gas development ever undertaken and will be the world's deepest spar production facility.

That's not even the half of it. I can imagine the last oil fields we ever try to exploit being so far offshore and so deep that the platforms will have to be underwater and serviced by submarines. I can't even begin to imagine how costly that might be. I sincerely doubt that we'll even be able to come up with the money, but that might be what is required to get that last little bit of oil.

If it takes more than a barrel of oil to get a barrel of oil , what is the point ?

As oil becomes more scarce the problem just expands

If it takes more than a barrel of oil to get a barrel of oil , what is the point ?

Simple. If that barrel of Carbon and Hydrogen links is still cheaper than taking Carbon and Hydrogen and chaining 'em together yourself.

Oil as a feedstock for the materials processing industry or as a friction reduction material.

Thus PV or wind or whatever to run a stripper well.


As many (non commercialy sensitive) insights as you can give on the complexities of deepwater drilling, dual derrick drill ships, hpht bops, Pipe movers, Top drives, consols and drilling data acquisition systems

Would always be welcome.

These things sound like very lucrative targets for the new generation of anti-ship missiles. Should make for an interesting resource war.

E.ON warns over backup for renewables

One of Britain's leading energy providers warned yesterday that Britain will need substantial fossil fuel generation to back up the renewable energy it needs to meet European Union targets. The UK has to meet a target of 15% of energy from renewables by 2020.

E.ON said that it could take 50 gigawatts of renewable electricity generation to meet the EU target. But it would require up to 90% of this amount as backup from coal and gas plants to ensure supply when intermittent renewable supplies were not available. That would push Britain's installed power base from the existing 76 gigawatts to 120 gigawatts.

Paul Golby, E.ON UK's chief executive, declined to be drawn on how much the expansion would cost, beyond saying it would be "significant". Industry sources estimate the bill for additional generation could be well in excess of £50bn.

This isn't my area of expertise (as you can probably tell from my moniker!). Do the figures quoted in this article sound reasonable? I know renewables have 'issues' with intermittency but 90% sounds high to me. I seem to recall reading a few months back that E.ON were very keen to open new coal-fired plants here in the UK in spite of their 'Green' corporate image.

I suppose the £50bn is a moving target, too.



In the E.ON Netz Wind Report 2005 (PDF) E.ON is giving wind power just 8% substitution factor, falling down to 4% as wind penetration goes higher. This means that for a 1MW of wind at most 0.08MW of conventional capacity may be retired.

Using the 50GW of wind power figure, and taking the 4% at such high levels, only 2GW of conventional capacity maybe retired, so 48GW must stay as a backup. Part of the problem seems to be that nuclear power plants are not effective as a backup - it's too expensive to run them just as a spinning reserve. So E.ON is estimating they will have to build extra coal and gas plants just to supplement wind. The 90% (44GW) figure seems kind of high to me though, there is a significant existing base of hydro, coal and gas plants that can do the job. Maybe some of the extra plants will be needed because of infrastructure bottlenecks - sometimes it's better to build a new power plants near the place power is needed, than build a long transmission line to existing capacity. But it still seems high, I can't help but think they are increasing their estimate to use it as justification to build extra conventional capacity, which is the cheapest and quickest option for them.

It would be ironic if EU commission mandates end up increasing real world emissions though.

I would not take e.on's comments at face value. They are not green and they know very well where their profit comes from. They are the company who sent most of Europe into darkness for a couple of hours due to lack of grid control, communication and fall-back solutions (result of EU enquiry) whilst claiming that a sudden change in wind power generation was the cause.

Thanks, LevinK. It's always good to get an idea of where these kind of figures come from. I too wonder whether E.ON is simply trying to push for FF plants as a more profitable near-term venture. 'The Costs to build back up plants is huge' is one of the common myths (PDF) about wind power which they claim to debunk on the FAQ page of their website. The site also mentions proposals for the Kingsnorth 'cleaner coal plant' which caused controversy earlier this year. (They're claiming up to a 20% reduction in CO2 emissions, although it would still be adding new CO2 into the atmosphere, of course. 'Jam tomorrow' CCS technology also gets the obligatory mention on there as well.)

If the situation with renewables is anywhere near as bad as E.ON claims in the newspaper article (and probably even if it isn't) I can't see new FF plants being blocked over carbon emissions concerns.

Hybrid solar lighting: a solar retrofit for hot climates

A fascinating commercial application for solar energy in clear (or semi-clear) hot climates seems to not be getting the attention it deserves: hybrid solar lighting.

You take a parabolic concentrator and focus some sunlight, optically split with plastic fiber into visible light and heat. Pipe the visible light through diffusers throughout the building. It saves lighting electricity, of course, but unlike skylights or conventional T8s, it adds almost no heat to the building. In a cooling climate it saves about a third as much in air-conditioning energy as it does in light.


very cool. Could not find anything on cost.

Well we are 20 min from the 1030 Report.
With a crude build prices will collapse.
with a large draw we are in trouble this summer.

IMO this is the week that will prove the reality of imports.

Whatever the weekly US data show, IMO the annual data showing a so far 3.3% decline in total world net oil exports combined with recent news (at the top of the thread for example) make a more compelling case.

I think the market is expecting a build, after last weeks 'fog' - I doubt we'll see much more drop in $, but who knows.

On the other hand, another drop in stocks should trigger the reaction that would have been expected last week, if not for the 'fog'.

10 minutes...

Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending May 30, 2008

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged nearly 15.5 million barrels per day during the week ending May 30, up 183 thousand barrels per day from the previous week's average. Refineries operated at 89.7 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production moved higher compared to the previous week, averaging 9.1 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production increased last week, averaging 4.5 million barrels per day.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged about 9.8 million barrels per day last week, up 827 thousand barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged nearly 9.5 million barrels per day, 813 thousand barrels per day below the same four-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged 1.3 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 211 thousand barrels per day last week.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) decreased by 4.8 million barrels from the previous week. At 306.8 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are in the lower half of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories increased by 2.9 million barrels last week, and are in the lower half of the average range. Both finished gasoline inventories and gasoline blending components inventories increased last week. Distillate fuel inventories increased by 2.3 million barrels, and are in the lower half of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories increased by 2.3 million barrels last week but remain near the bottom of the average range. Total commercial petroleum inventories increased by 0.2 million barrels last week, and are in the lower half of the average range for this time of year.

What was expected was kind of all over the map this week.

There is considerable and unusual divergence among consensus estimates for crude oil. Bloomberg expects +400k, Reuters +1,100k and Platts +2,700k.

"Given three consecutive weeks of anemic import levels, an expected rebound would lend to a build in crude inventories. But the build is likely to be modest as there appears to be reluctance on the part of refiners to bring in barrels at historically high prices," wrote Platts analyst Linda Rafield.

Gasoline and distillate consensus estimates are broadly inline. Bloomberg suggests gasoline inventories are expected to increase 825k while distillate inventories are expected to increase by 1,675k barrels. Refinery utilization is expected to increase 0.50% to 88.4% of operable capacity.

And here's Thomson's:

Analysts polled by Thomson Financial News predict U.S. crude stocks will be up by 1.3 million barrels, while gasoline and distillate stocks are expected to be up by 1.2 million barrels and 1.5 million barrels respectively. Gasoline inventories typically fall at this time of year as U.S. consumers embark on their summer driving season.

So, given that they seem to have been expecting inventories of crude to rise (by between 0.4 and 2.7 million barrels), and they fell 4.8 million, anyone got any idea why crude lost nearly $2 on the back of this report?

Don't know.Happier now?

For what it's worth

"The bears are trying to break a support level right now. If they can't get it below the range of $120 - $123 there's only one way for it to go and that's higher" - analyst on Bloomberg.

The gasoline build was larger than expected. This was seen as evidence that refineries are finally kicking into gear. Plus there's all that demand destruction news today. People buying smaller cars, planes being grounded, etc.

My continuing prediction. Even without hurricane related shutdowns, I predict that by Labor Day we will hear calls to release oil from the SPR, specifically because of supply problems on the Gulf Coast. Note that while we did see a crude import rebound into the Gulf Coast, it was not enough. We saw another big drop in Gulf Coast crude oil inventories.

You might want to specify where you expect these calls to come from. I have already seen some such suggestions;


And there's another one out there that I can't put my finger on at the moment that talks about the ability to replace all Saudi output for 5 months (yeah, that will solve our problems).

Well, I guess I should have offered to bet money on my "prediction," but here is the key qualifer:

". . . specifically because of supply problems on the Gulf Coast. "

Volatility defined?

Price Elasticity of Demand
4 Week Averages 08 vs. 07

Products Supplied
Finished Motor Gasoline. .9,301 . . 9,429 . -1.4% Kerosene-Type Jet Fuel. . . 1,619 . . 1,614. . +0.3%
Distillate Fuel Oil. . . . . . . . 4,125 . . 4,060 . +1.6%
Residual Fuel Oil . . . . . . . . . 683. . . . 750 . . -8.9%
Propane/Propylene . . . . . . . .930. . . . 979 . . -5.0%
Other Oils . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3,738 . . 3,799 . . -1.6%

Total Products Supplied . . 20,395 . 20,631 .-1.1%

Not Much Hope,


Product EXPORTS continue to increase.EIA uses a trailing estimate.Exports are around 1.8mm bl/da(EIA upped it est to 1.5 from 1.4).Res, coke and dis account for 1.1

At current util rate,crude imports will have to remain at +10mm bl/da in order to NOT have furthur inv declines.

Not much hope? Do we really want to have more and more fossil fuels to burn to prolong BAU? I say that it is actually hopeful - higher prices are necessary to wake up the sleep walking homo sapiens sapiens into realizing that exponential population growth and decadent biosphere rape must stop - we have a choice of accepting a low-energy diet & reducing population growth, accepting a more humble part in the web of life - or we can wish for more and more energy and just await the inevitable Dieoff. Hoping for continued increases in energy supply is like hoping to reverse cancer by eating at McDonald's - you just end up throwing more gasoline on the fire. ;)

Mmmm... McChemo...

oops, think you missed the point.

Hi veganmaster!
What do you think about the relationship between individuals/small groups creating sustainable lives and global problems like Dieoff? I threw in the towel on collective action and came to Hawaii, Puna District, to work towards sustainability for myself and a few others. Then can't find others who will help grow food on the land I have. Part of the problem is of my own making: no reliance on animal products. Food-out/food-in < 1. Reply off-thread appreciated: rudio-at-skyhighway-dot-com

Hey D&G Dad - got any spare Puna Butter? ;-)

Total Products Supplied: -1.1%

I can't view this as nothing but a great speed of adaptation. With historical natural growth rate of about 1.2%, we are looking at 2.3% foregone consumption.

Though some of it is due to the economic slowdown I think these figures are strongly positive - it's not realistic to expect double digit rates. It's obvious that people are starting to conserve. The real problems will appear when there is not that much room to conserve.


I'm not convinced these numbers are all that great. We've witnessed the implosion of the US housing industry (New Home construction went from 1.7 million units in 2005 to 1 million units in 2007) and we only have 1.2% demand destruction?

It's going to be a long, painful ride down the backside of the peak oil curve.


I think the numbers are really good. Considering that we've seen the economy continue to grow (albeit slowly), a 1.2% year on year reduction in fuel use is a Very Good Thing. Remember, there's a significant time lag when it comes to adapting to higher fuel prices because so much of our society's consumption is determined by long lasting investment decisions such as where people live, what they drive and so on. A year from now we should be seeing a much greater year on year drop as more energy saving investment decisions are made.

Winston: Would you label the YOY change in expenditure on fuel in the USA a Very Good Thing?

Memmel has modelled the decline - apparently it matches the decline in housing starts perfectly.
Demand destruction proper seems likely to kick in with rising unemployment.

When I was modeling the future a few years ago, and looking at short term price elasticity of demand, I expected to be at about -4% reduction in USA oil demand at this point (quickly increasing to -5% and -6%). Not -1%.

And I did allow for the "natural growth" in demand.


It takes a lot of time for the people to adjust. The initial savings are low, but once structural changes kick in (e.g. adequate mass transit, transition to smaller cars end PHEV/EVs) we should be able to see rates like 3-4%. 1-2% change is a good thing, a normal pace for a BAU environment.

once structural changes kick in (e.g. adequate mass transit, transition to smaller cars end PHEV/EVs) we should be able to see rates like 3-4%

That is the point where we NEED to see -20% to -25% (-30% would be VERY nice). Reduced economic activity is the alternative.

Think of ELM and just where we are on the curve.

Best Hopes for RAPID reductions in demand w/o severe recession.


Over the last four weeks, motor gasoline demand has averaged 9.3 million barrels per day, down by 1.4 percent from the same period last year. Distillate fuel demand has averaged 4.1 million barrels per day over the last four weeks, up 1.6 percent from the same period last year.

IMO, this dynamic has been in effect for a while now. Diesel demand continues to increase, even in the US. It is growing in the rest of the world as well, and the rest of the world is more heavily dependent on diesel than the US. Increasing diesel demand coupled with decreasing gasoline demand means the spread between the two will remain large. It also means that declining gasoline consumption will have a limited effect on overall oil demand.

Don't forget, of that 9.3 million barrels, about .6 million barrels is from ethanol (if you add in the Brazilian Cane Booze.)

It looks to me like we're actually using about 8% less unleaded. BUT, we're using MORE Diesel (no alt. to diesel, yet.)

Add in that the Euro Tax Policy mitigates in favor of Diesel cars, and we might have a heck of an imbalance coming up. Good news for gas-burners; bad news for those owning Ford F-350's.

Let's see: We have about 310 Million Barrels in Storage, right?

We're currently producing about 567,000 Barrels of ethanol/day.


Let's say we've average 450,000 b/d over the last 18 months. That would be about 246 Million Barrels? Take it away and we'd have 64 million barrels in inventory? And, MOL is about 270 Million?

This ain't "Chump Change," anymore, folks.

You forget to multiply ethanol volumes by 0.6 (lower energy content) and subtract the oil and natural gas required to grow the corn, transport it, distill it, etc.

We would be better off without corn ethanol. Just import some cheaper sugar cane ethanol if we need to burn a bit for polluted areas.

No Use for Corn Ethanol,


Alan, it's your, absolute, inalienable right as an American to hate ethanol if you wish. However, you really should acknowledge reality as regards btus, and octane.

It's a fact that 99% of all ethanol is used in a 10% blend with unleaded, and that there is minimal (less than 1%) difference in mileage. In fact, as I posted before HERE, many vehicles get Better Fuel Mileage with a 20%, or, even 30% blend of ethanol.

Again, you do a disservice to those who would like to know the truth if you oversimplify (to the point of inaccuracy) to the point where all you consider is btus. You, absolutely, MUST take Octane into consideration.

Also, I have no problem with using some Brazilian ethanol. We will allow about 500 Million Gallons in w/o tariffs This Year. About 600 Million next year. However, it's probably a good idea to help get our Domestic "Cellulosic" industry up and running before we just transfer our energy security from Riyadh to Rio - Don't you think.

Anyway, it's probably a good thing to, at least, be aware of the amount to which gasoline is being displaced in our market with ethanol. Especially, if you're prone to bet on such things as "Futures."

Chou :)

It's a fact that 99% of all ethanol is used in a 10% blend with unleaded, and that there is minimal (less than 1%) difference in mileage. In fact, as I posted before HERE, many vehicles get Better Fuel Mileage with a 20%, or, even 30% blend of ethanol

B S !!

Domestic "Cellulosic" industry up and running before we just transfer our energy security from Riyadh to Rio - Don't you think

I don't think so.

Subsidize corn ethanol because, just maybe, at some indeterminate time in the future, a future viable technology may arise ?

OK, lets keep the existing blender's credit, but ONLY for Cellulosic ethanol and with a lifetime $3 billion cap on the credit. Cut in half when half that credit is used up.

No Hope for Corn Ethanol,


Alan...I can verify from ancedotal but first hand experience that fuel efficiency while riding a Harley Davidson through 'ethanol country' and fueling up with ethanol fuel results in a minimum mpg drop from 45mpg to 33mpg, or, about 25%. With some ethanol blends from certain stations fuel consumption increased by about 33%. In no case have I ever gotten better fuel mileage with ethanol fuel. I have made the rides on both fuel injected and carburated Harleys and the results have been almost identical. First time riders to the Sturgis Rally and approaching from the South or East have all experienced the reduction in mpg when they reach 'ethanol country'. This is widely known in the biker community and I am surprised that the subject continues to be debated here.

And, I was not always alone on these rides. When riding with a group of other riders, there fuel mileage suffered as did mine.

I do not know who came up with the results that show an INCREASE in fuel mileage when using ethanol fuel but my results and those of other riders speak loudly that this is nonsense...but, as with other statistics produced by government and their lackeys, we with real world experience know that their numbers are baloney.

With a 25-33% drop in fuel efficiency for me I fail to see any advantage in ethanol except for the farmers and their lobbyist shills that are making money on the boondoggle. It is possible that some special engine could be engineered that would allow ethanol to compete with gasaloline on a mpg basis but I have no knowledge of such an engine. The first hurdle for such an engine would be testing under varying conditions to 250,000 miles for reliability. Show me.

River, please Don't get me wrong; I love Harleys (they're made in America, just like etanol,) But they have "motorcycle" engines, Not automobile engines.

The Mn State, Univ of N. Dakota test is Here.

Do This: Carefully check the fuel mileage in your car. Then, run three tankfuls of E10 through the engine, and driving the same route, under the same conditions as your gasoline mileage test check you mileage using the third tank of e10.

Report back.

My father did (he has a PhD in statistics and knows how to sample properly. He taught sampling for many years at the University of Alabama). Results E10 gives 9-10% lower gas mileage with a fairly tight variance.

Early 1990s Cadillac.


Not many of those left around.

Do an honest test on a car made in the 21st century.

So this lack of ethanol fuel penalty *ONLY* exists for "special" engines, (defined ex post facto).

Well, I have news for you. E10 goes into ALL sorts of engines (even lawnmowers) if that is all that is available at the local pump (if one has a choice, I advise using pure gasoline).

Your claims for overall gasoline inventory were for the ENTIRE fleet and all uses of gasoline.

Shouldn't we, as a public service and to save fuel, post on EVERY E10 pump a list of engines whose mileage will suffer if you buy this stuff ?

"WARNING - Your mileage will suffer excessively if E10 from this pump is used in a pre-2000 car, motorcycle, lawnmover, Subaru, etc. etc."


E10 goes into ALL sorts of engines

How about a test across entire states?

Wisconsin Tops Minnesota

In 2005 (the latest year for which data is available) Minnesota drivers drove 56.570 billion miles using 2.744 billion gallons of fuel. Their average fuel mileage was 20.62 mpg.

In that same year, Wisconsin drivers drove 60.399 billion miles using 2.592 billion gallons of fuel for an average of 23.30 mpg.

Minnesota drivers actually drove less than their cheesehead neighbors, but used more fuel to do it.

Something caused Minnesota drivers to get almost 12% worse fuel mileage than their neighbors to the east. What could have that been?

The only obvious difference that jumps out is that Minnesota has mandated its drivers burn a blend of ethanol and gasoline -- a fuel with a known lower energy density than gasoline.

Robert, your post is Idiotic.

You put up an unverified anecdote from a known ethanol-hater claiming he got Zero Percent mileage with ethanol.

How DID those Indy cars ever get around the track, I wonder?

As for the Wisconsin/Minnesota deal: Let's see a link. You used the word "fuel," not gasoline. Also, what kind of "Mix" of vehicles? How much Diesel? How many farm Pickups? How many city miles? Let's see the link.

My father is honorable, an expert statistician and was curious about ethanol.

Sorry if the truth hurts (actually I am not after your insult).


Alan, I worded that Horribly. I have no doubt that your father performed an Excellent test. What I meant to say was:

1) Try testing a more modern vehicle; and,

2) Give it a fair shot with a controlled test with at least 3 tankfulls of e10.

My apologies for the clumsy wording.

I last filled up my 1982 M-B 240D (manual transmission) with diesel in January 2008 (thinking about it now that hurricane season is starting, next time I go by local truck stop).

On all counts my car and lifestyle do not qualify. I use far less "imported fuel" than most E85 users.


Robert, your post is Idiotic.

LOL! You crack me up. It is idiotic simply because you don't like it. But it is based on the actual statistics from the two states. The author showed exactly where he got the data. Look at the comments.

You put up an unverified anecdote from a known ethanol-hater claiming he got Zero Percent mileage with ethanol.

But it's OK for you to put up studies paid for by the ethanol lobby, known ethanol-lovers? You aren't suggesting bias on Gary's part, are you? If so, I would presume you might suspect bias from the ethanol lovers as well. That is, if you weren't an ethanol lobbyist.

And now you don't accept government statistics? You want people to read your links, but you refuse to read those that go against you? As for zero percent mileage, that doesn't make any sense. The state of Minnesota got 20.62 mpg with ethanol. Perhaps you meant to say that ethanol subtracted from the sum of the blends. The sum of the individual BTUs can give less than the expected mileage. That is a fact. After all, you have been claiming forever that they can add to give more than the expected mileage. Why wouldn't that cut both ways, depending on the situation?

Let's see the link.

It was there. Look in the comments, where he provided links to the data. I can't make you click on something you would rather ignore. But we do know that two states, side by side and very similar, had quite different gas mileage results. The one with the worse results mandates ethanol. Had that cut the other way, I am sure we would have seen immediate acceptance as gospel.

Down in the Comments?! LOL

This is Lame, even for you. Okay, I went down into the comments and found that he finally gave the link after being called out by a commenter.

THEN, Glory Hallelujah, the same Commenter noticed that the stats were about the same for 1996, BEFORE MINNESOTA WENT TO E10!!!


I guess you skipped right over that part of it, didn't you?

I can't type any more. I'm crying too hard to see the screen. Bwahahahahah . . . . . . Yikes

I concur with the study as my Prius's mileage has suffered since Oregon mandated 10% ethanol. It used to be that I got better mileage than from gas I bought in California. No longer, as CA's ethanol amount as a replacement for MTBE is quite small, and I now get better mileage with CA gasoline.

The study used 2007 vehicles, a Toyota, a Ford, and two Chevies. One of the Chevies was equipped with a flex fuel engine. The non-flex fuel Chevy exhibited the mileage behavior expected: falling with increasing ethanol content. The flex-fuel Chevy showed increasing mileage from straight gasoline to E20, then a fall-off. The Toyota and Ford, however, showed a fall-off from straight gasoline to E10, but at some point as ethanol content increased, mileage began increasing again. Both the Toyota and the Ford achieved essentially the same mileage with straight gasoline and with E30.

Granted, it was a study funded in part by the American Coalition for Ethanol, and it's not a peer-reviewed paper. The testing was done on a lab dynamometer, not under actual road conditions. And even if we used all the corn we grow to make ethanol, it's not enough to provide E30 everywhere. Still, it's a potentially interesting result in that it shows an unexpected nonlinear response. If the results are reproducible, someone needs to explain what's happening in the Toyota and the Ford, and in particular, why it's not happening in the Chevy.

McCain, we're only scheduled to replace 10% of our gasoline with "Corn" ethanol. We're about 60% of the way there, now. We'll use, in essence, about 20 - 22% of our field corn crop in the process. We Exported 26% this year, mostly to be used for Cattle Feed.

This Test administered by the State of Minnesota pretty much reinforces the Univ of N. Dakota /Mn State Test. It uses 40 matched pairs over a time frame of 12 months. After throwing out two outliers that favored e20, but leaving in an outlier that favored straight unleaded it showed a difference of 1.6% between e20, and straight gasoline over a wide range of engines.

The Energy Information Administration is keeping track of how ethanol is affecting average fuel economy in the United States. The federal agency projects that additional ethanol usage this year will cause average fuel economy to decline by an extra 0.5 percent



With my car and with both of my motorcycles (one carb'ed 250cc, one FI 1000cc), E10 fuel yields a reproducible decrease in mileage (on the order of 6-8% lower), and has done each time I've checked. I'm not sure why my experience is different from the study, but it is...


Are you giving your long term trim a chance to adjust? It takes 3 tankfulls. Also, an older (pre-2000) automobile will not do as well as a newer one.

Motorcycles? I don't know.

Excuse me? Have you been talking to the audiophile salesmen again?

They're machines, any adjustment happens almost instantaneously. If you fill up at 1/4 tank going from E0 to E10 your first tank is at E7, any changes from running an ethanol mix should be apparent immediately.

After 3 tanks you have adjusted and don't notice any decreased mileage unless you are keeping track on paper.

A Harley will go through 3 tanks of gas while crossing "Ethanol country" to and from Sturgis pretty easily. I would expect that the bikers would note any such adjustments as most people on long cross country trips watch performance related issues like miles/tank like a hawk.

Not quite sure what you're referring to by 'long-term trim.' The car is a 2002 model European sedan, with a fully closed loop controller. The carb-ed motorcycle is, of course, a carburetor. The FI motorcycle is controlled on the input (no sensors on the exhaust). The fact that all three engines demonstrate reduced mileage indicates to me that what I'm seeing is that the ethanol in the E10 mix reduces the total volumetric energy available compared with 100% gasoline. And yes, this is over multiple days with multiple tanks.


Saturn, basically, your car engine's computer has to adjust to a new fuel. It can take as many as three tankfulls before it's completely adjusted. Your American 2002 automobile should get no worse than 1% less mileage on e10. European, I'm not so sure; but, I'd guess the same. However, when you're getting down to numbers this small the slightest noise will have an affect.

Anyway, if you try it again try to use the same gasoline, from the same pump, topped off the same way, driven on the same route, at the same speed, with the same weather conditions. If it rains wipe out that test and try again. I bet it'll be better than you think.

I'm not sure there's any real long-term adjustment used in the ECU. The parameters of adjustment occur on a fairly short time scale (as in, it'll correct the fuel/air mixture for altitude changes going over a mountain range). The only component I'm aware of in the car that has any sort of serious time constant is the algorithm used to adjust the transmission shift points. Effectively, the engine controller will adapt in real-time (time-scale of minutes) to changes in the fueling. The reason people suggest using multiple tanks of a new fuel type is because after 3-4 tanks, the new fuel has essentially displaced any old fuel, meaning that effective comparisons can be made. As for engine differences, the engine in most European cars uses higher compression than is in the traditional American engines (particularly those of larger displacement), which might account for some differences in how they react to changes in the fuel.
As I hinted at in a prior post, neither of the motorcycles has any sort of time-constant in the adjustment (especially, of course, the carburated model). I'm fairly good about recording mileage, and I stand by my observations that E10 yields a lower mileage/gallon than gasoline, and lower even than the 3-4% loss that a pure energy/volume calculation would suggest.


Your instinct is correct, Saturn. The sort of controllers used in an ECU can store alarm instances over an extended period, but operational parameters such as fuel density/performance curves are calculated using a much shorter cycle.

The simple reason for this is that it is easier and more effective to write the controller code with no "memory" to speak of. As long as it is only looking at the present it can't be fooled by the fact that the humidity was 80% yesterday and 20% today, or that the last tank of gas you filled up with was 94 Octane high-test and the current tank is 89 Octane E10. It just deals with the present.

In my experience "Give it 3 tanks" is pure marketing, as if you can get someone to do something 3 times in a row they are likely to continue doing it and human nature is such that they will justify their continuing to do so by whatever logical stretches they need to make.

Ethanol will clean varnish off the gas tanks, although this is a one tank affair. Often fuel filters will need to be cleaned after the first exposure to ethanol (but most cars get some periodically now, even without knowing they are getting diluted gasoline).


Leanan, Do the Test. BTW, the test should be conducted with both fuels used under Similar Weather Conditions. Also, if possible with the same Brand of Gasoline. Yes, There Really Is a Difference in Brands. It has to do with how they arrive at their Octane rating (% of RON vs MON.) Obviously, the percentage of City/Highway is important.

Listen, you can't just Pooh-Pooh well-organized tests, and then list a couple of anecdotal references. Some vehicles Will get worse mileage with an ethanol blend. BUT, some will get better. Modern engines are very complex. Also, very different in how they manage fuel.

E85 is a whole nother matter; but, those engines are on the way.

Anyway, all this has little to do with the intent of my original post which was to highlight that ethanol Is Here, and that it is having an effect on our gasoline usage. That could have real consequences for future pricing of diesel, and gasoline.

Robert Rapier debunked that so-called study long ago. Enough, already. If you have new evidence, post away. But don't keep re-posting stuff that's been refuted.

He didn't "Debunk" anything. I stated that a flex-fuel Impala achieved 15% better mileage on an EPA cycle using E20.

It's obvious that this particular engine is ideally suited to burning this particular blend. To say it didn't do as well on e10, or e50 means nothing at all. It would have also done poorly on Diesel. Does that make Diesel a poor fuel? Of course not.

ICE engines are complex. The computers that govern them are complex. Every engine is different. The trick is to find the blend that works best with your particular engine.

For instance, wouldn't you feel silly, after burning straight gasoline for 100,000 miles, to find out that you could have been burning a cheaper blend, and getting 15% better mileage?

Well, this is what can happen if you don't open up your mind, and consider that the smartest thing is to check it out on your own, and not put all of your trust in, possibly, biased sources.

For instance, wouldn't you feel silly, after burning straight gasoline for 100,000 miles, to find out that you could have been burning a cheaper blend, and getting 15% better mileage?

No. I don't have a choice of what fuel goes into my car. There's only one kind around here.

I would, however, feel pretty silly if I ever drove 100,000 miles, burning anything.

Leanan, some people aren't so lucky. They are salemen, service people, distributors, farmers, etc. They Have to drive a lot of miles.

BTW, another interesting test is to blend enough e85 into your fuel to achieve e20, or e30, and perform the same test. For example, when I get over into Arkansas I put enough ethanol into mine to bring it up to e30. I have no idea exactly what the effect on my mileage is as I do it for an entirely different reason (I like using a non-imported fuel.) I can state that it didn't "seem like" there was much of a difference; and, I did save a little money. I think that now that we've gone through all this I'll try to arrange a test just to see.
Anyway, maybe some of the other readers would be well served by finding out how They would come out. Jes thinkin :)

He didn't "Debunk" anything. I stated that a flex-fuel Impala achieved 15% better mileage on an EPA cycle using E20.

What you have done is to repeat a claim again and again while putting the best possible face on it. You have shown that you are willing to distort to further your agenda. That if 9 out of 10 studies showed worse gas mileage on an ethanol blend, your claim is that the study showed that ethanol blends improve gas mileage. After all, that's what the 1 out of 10 said. But you don't ever qualify that; you only say that the study showed better gas mileage and you start to extrapolate that.

For crying out loud, man, you have claimed on the basis of that study that ethanol substitutes gallon for gallon for gasoline! You present the results in a manner that should make you proud to call yourself an ethanol lobbyist. That's why lobbyists give me an icky feeling. They ooze dishonesty.

This mileage comparison of E-10, E-85 and regular is a silly argument.

The lower price of ethanol compensates for the lower mileage, at least when the market prices it appropriately. This is the type of fallacious argument that drives me up the wall.

Ethanol is cheaper than regular gas because the mileage is less.

To criticize ethanol for lower mileage is as stupid as the EROEI argument that ignores price.

If ethanol is overpriced where you live, don't buy it until it is priced appropriately. Price matters. It compensates for differences.

Some vehicles Will get worse mileage with an ethanol blend. BUT, some will get better.

Of course in that study, most got worse mileage. As I posted previously:

Look at Figures 10-13. Here is the reality of the tests:

Figure 10. 2007 Toyota Camry, 2.4-L engine - 6 of 7 tests show worse fuel efficiency on an ethanol blend. There is one apparent outlier, which was the basis for the claims. (And it looks like a classic outlier, with almost all of the other points falling as predicted).

Figure 11. 2007 Chevrolet Impala (non-flex fuel), 3.5-L engine - 5 of 5 tests show worse fuel efficiency on an ethanol blend.

Figure 12. 2007 Chevrolet Impala (flex fuel), 3.5-L engine - 8 tests, 2 show better fuel efficiency, 2 show the same, and 3 show worse fuel efficiency on an ethanol blend.

Figure 13. 2007 Ford Fusion, 2.3-L engine - 4 of 5 tests show worse fuel efficiency on an ethanol blend. There is one apparent outlier.

So, what can we conclude? Of 25 data points, 18 confirm that the fuel economy is worse on an ethanol blend. That is 72% of the tests, and these tests were paid for by the ethanol lobby (which is why I suspect the results were spun as they were). The outliers are interesting enough for further investigation, but you have vastly overstated the test results. In reality, if you pulled the results out of a bag, you have only a 28% chance of improving your fuel efficiency on the basis of any particular test. Further, the outlier didn't always occur at the same percentage, which would be quite problematic even if the result is confirmed.

Apparently for you, this is like pass/fail. If we have 4 data sets, and in each set 1 of 10 points showed a positive result, you claim 100% positive results. I won't say that's dishonest, but it is definitely putting the best possible spin on the situation. And while it seems that the matter is settled for you, what I would do as a next step is hone in on those outliers and see if they can be consistently replicated. Unless they are, you may be banking your claims on nothing more than experimental error, as the tests showing the desired result were in the minority.


That's just the most backward logic I've ever heard. The simple fact is 3 out of 4 cars tested got better results on a dyno with an ethanol blend. Your logic leads to the abolition of "Premium" blends because "Some" cars will get slightly worse mileage with a premium blend. It would ignore that some cars will get equal mileage, and Better Performance from a "Premium" blend (which is usually 10% ethanol, by the way.)

This test informs a Chevy Impala FFV owner that there's a good chance that he can pull up to a "Blender" pump and achieve better mileage, with a less expensive fuel by pumping E20.

BTW, are you saying the "Evull" ethanol lobby paid those college students to "dump" the test in ethanol's favor? It sure sounds like it.

Wow, You are something else kdolliso. I am impressed. I don't know how anyone could continue to make such outrageous claims in the face of such overwhelming evidence.

If you are a true believer then I am truly scared.
If you are a paid lackey, well, I have the utmost respect for your professionalism.

Either way, do us all a favor and give it a rest. As much as I enjoy watching your arguments get demolished time and time again, I feel bad for guys like RR that have to wade through your crap again and again.

Seriously man, no one is buying it.

Talk about wading through "Crap," see how he came out in the above exchange.

You would have to do a lot more than is done in a "flex fuel" vehicle (remap ignition timing and mixture) in order to take advantage of any benefits of running ethanol. Turbos or increased compression would be a minimum. In the end, it's hard to overcome the fact that it simply contains less energy per volume (although per unit weight is actually more important in a machine that must move its fuel around).

Why even bother refuting a claim that's so preposterous on its face?
Anybody who looks up the Standard Heats of Formation for EtOH vs. n-octane already knows the answer.

Alan's 60% estimate isn't based solely on the thermo of combustion for gas and EtOH; It obviously attempts to include some of the fossil fuel that's hidden in our corn.

As such, it actually underestimates the penalty for EtOH fuel, because it neglects the impacts on the water and soil.

An engine designed to run exclusively on E85 or E100 could run better than a flex-fuel vehicle. Ethanol has a higher octane rating than regular gasoline, and as a result a smaller displacement engine with higher compression ratios could obtain better fuel efficiency with the same power. (Smaller displacement means less inertia and friction.)

I do not know how much experience you have had with high compression engines that are lightly constructed (diesel heavy/gas light construction normally). My experience is that in the 12:1 to 14:1 compression ratio range engine life expectancy of a lightly constructed engine drops off rapidly. I have experienced this in my youth drag racing autos and also with flat track dirt motorcycle racing. Add nitro methane to the high compression and life expectancy is measured in minutes, trips through a quarter mile or, with motorcycles, 'how many heat races will it last'.

I have avoided running high compression vehicles on the streets because I want a street vehicle to be, above all, reliable. When I had a Jetta diesel for long commutes back in the 1970s the engine was lightly constructed by big rig standards but also did not have extremely high compression. IIRC it had a compression ratio of about 11:1. In winter I would add one gallon of reg gas per 9 gallons of diesel. It was a miraculous machine and was still running strong when I sold it with almost 200,000 miles on the odometer. Accelaration was not that great but it would cruise all day at 65-75mph and get a minimum of 42 mpg...usually better.

Take a look under the hood of a Peterbuilt, Kenworth, etc, and you will see why their diesel engines can stand up to the high compression and heavy loads for high mileage...they are built like tanks.

My 2.4 liter 4 cylinder diesel weighs more than V-8 gas engines. Steel/cast iron head and block, overbuilt journals and bearings, fuel injector that is WAY overbuilt (and lubricated by engine oil, not fuel).

Multi-link chain drive for over head cam.

Owner forums talk about what happens when run for extended periods (hour+) after coolant leak. The engine runs better ! (Carbon is burned off). No warped head, and overheated engine oil congeals to tar when shut down, but stays liquid while boiling off.

Best Hopes for Durable, Efficient Cars,


Horsesh*t. My last 5 liter Mustang got 21.5 mpg highway on regular gasoline. On 10% ethanol blend the best it would do was 16 mpg. My current car, a 2006 Honda Civic sedan has done as good as 43.5 mpg highway on regular gas. On 10% ethanol blend it drops to 35mpg tops.


That simply isn't possible. Are you sure you're not putting E85 in, and thinking it's e10? Like maybe you see the E85 and think that means "85 Octane," and assuming it's the 10% blend. Again, what you're saying just isn't possible.

If anybody is putting the E85 it's you, and you must be drinkin' it buddy. A meditation for your day:
"Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt." --Abraham Lincoln

Re: "Going 'Primitive' Isn't Progress" linked above:

"Would our lives be better without the advances of the Industrial Revolution and the ensuing technological developments? I don't think so, but many of these people seem to disagree."

This is a very poor job of framing the question--it expressly looks only to the "advances" of the Industrial Revolution without considering the concomitant negatives. Then it wades into one of the classic ethnographic fallacies, assuming that because people live radically different, that is somehow "worse":

"The red-painted tribal members are seen next to their thatched huts brandishing bows and arrows at what must appear to them as the largest bird they've ever seen. They're as far away from the Industrial Revolution as you could get. I'm not sure this is what the survivalists have in mind in their desire to return to a more self-sufficient existence."

Here's a suggested framework for looking at these kinds of questions, one that I think will be very useful in our attempts to plan for a post-peak world (and adapt as it comes about): identify your root goals, and then try to weigh the totality of the consequences of any proposed action in light of achieving those goals. Sounds pretty obvious, right? Well, let's say you identify some radical and unconventional goal for yourself--not the maximization of GDP or the presence of a flat-panel TV in every room, but the silly notion of maximizing median long-term happiness.

Are those "red-painted" people more or less happy than Americans? I'm not saying that they ARE happier, but if it is one's end goal to maximize happiness (crazy, I know), then how can one evaluate the value of their way of life until you've assessed the comparative happiness between the two cultures?

Bhutan may have the right idea.

I like the idea of Gross National Happiness, but I think that Median (not Mean) Happiness is actually a better measure. Just like with GDP--you can have one Bill Gates or Tiger Woods and a million very poor, starving people and the GDP still looks pretty high. Median National Product, however, along with Median National Happiness, looks to the person right in the middle.

There's a valid ideological argument about whether we should maximize the total size of the pie, or the size of the median slice, but here's one thing to consider: there is an economic and social cost to disparity (whether we're looking at Product or Happiness)--high disparity requires "social control" mechanisms (e.g. police power) that cost money. I think it's also telling that past great advances in egalitarian civilization such as the US colonies, the Roman Republic, etc. (there are huge problems with each of these examples, but compare them to their predecessors and they're advances...) were all, to a large degree, grounded in the advent of an abnormally equal population set. Rome grew to greatness on the backs of a large set of middle class landowners (produces largely by the army's retirement system of giving away smallholdings), and then slid into decadence as wealth re-consolidated in the hands of a few patricians. It's not a perfect correlation certainly, but I think there is a significant boost--to either median happiness or product--when the standard deviation is also keep relatively low. This doesn't require active redistribution of wealth (or happiness--not sure how you do that?), but rather only the creation of institutions that don't actively consolidate it...

Ahh, were the mind goes when waiting for the 10:35 report...

I like the idea of Gross National Happiness,


What's the Popsicle Index? The Popsicle Index is the % of people in a community who believe that a child can leave their home, go to the nearest place to buy a Popsicle and come home alone safely.

(not Mean) Happiness

Like the joy of swatting a mosquito with a hand-held electric bug zapper?

Focusing on ANY statistical measure of the common good can be a bad idea. The "target culture" in the UK civil service is a good example of why.

It's a very poor article.

They point to the rising cost of fuel and food as early warning signs. Of course those increasing costs are reflective of failed legislative policies, not "peak oil."

So just drill more and 'progress' can continue.

I've dusted off my recurve bow. Although bow hunting in the UK is ALWAYS illegal, and would be out of season anyway, it's interesting that wildlife doesn't react to a shaft landing about 2 yards away. If I was staying in my current location I'd certainly put down regular food nearby.

Which leads me tangentially to this wonderful snippet..
Josh Klein's vending machine for crows which I'm sure someone like Totoneila can think of a dozen uses for.

Josh Klein gave a TED talk on the crow vending machine. He had a few ideas on other uses which I cant remember off hand. Good talk and worth a look.


From article...

The Goal: The goal of this project is to create a device that will autonomously train crows. So far we've trained captive crows to deposit dropped coins they find on the ground in exchange for peanuts.

Coin operated bird feeder...?

I wonder if there's a positive ROI on this...

"Are those "red-painted" people more or less happy than Americans?"

Not since seeing this big noisy bird that flies without moving its' wings, I guess.

One of the controversial claims about the Amazon forest nowadays is that ALL of the tribes there have been contacted, and the ones you see in this picture are of the set that took a look at modern life and decided it was not for them.

(Hence their bows and arrows, presumably..)

It's too bad that they had to use such dumb cliche's.. but it really points out who was the 'Primitive', right?

With this 'Painted People' putdown, I can't stop thinking about our culture's excessive (my opinion) use of paints and hair replacement and boob jobs and 'muscle-bulkers' to try to repaint the reality of what we are. A tribesperson with customary decorations on isn't likely working from anywhere near as deluded a place as we are with our petty embellishments.


Some people in Asia (read: Korea) sport so much cosmetic surgery that you don't even know what your partner looks like until your kids pop out - and then you find out that you're BOTH ugly.

Seriously, what culture doesn't mock the adornments of others? What generation doesn't mock those from a different age within their own?

Now where did I leave that penis gourd? Don't leave home without it!

I had a brief affair with a woman who after admitted that she was curiously drawn to my receeding hairline, which I've never had the energy or gumption to 'correct'.. and my reaction (unspoken) was twofold.

A) WooHoo! Bald ISN'T ugly !!

B) She chose me for my HAIR!? How Insulting!

And in all honesty, I don't have any idea of the degree of vanity or shallowness involved in the decorations of Tribal cultures.. Ultimately, we're all pretty similar in our range of strengths/weaknesses, I have to believe.

All you really have to do to critique this article is point out the unexamined faith in "progress."

Citing fuel costs, FPL seeks 16% rate increase

Spiking fuel prices might hit South Floridians' monthly electric bills.

Florida Power & Light Co. on Tuesday asked state regulators for permission to increase residential customers' power bills by 16 percent on average to offset the utility's soaring oil and natural gas costs.

Here we go...several nukes are in various phases of approval but if memory serves could not be online before 2012. If not already soon rates will go up AGAIAN to help fund them.

And the NIBMYs shoot down wind farm after wind farm - latest near Jupiter. But I think FPL Energy has at least one wind farm in Texas - or has announced one.

Home solar PV is more cost effective every day...


Unfortunately you are wrong about the timeline. 2012 is too optimistic for new nukes... Only the construction takes 4-5 years, then you have a lengthy licensing and approval process before that (3+ years if all goes well).

Actually FPL was one of the first to start the process of building new nukes in the US, but they don't expect them to be online before 2017. Until then... fasten your seat belts.

FPL has many windfarms around the country - like Wisconsin. How about lowering the speedlimit on 95 and A SOLARPANEL ON EVERY ROOF.

...At first blush the information is alarming, showing a decline of about 1 mb/d in net oil exports in both 2006 and 2007. On closer analysis, however, the chart is less chilling. Here’s why...

I find this 'article' by Kingsdale to be extremely annoying.

It's the typical glass-half-full optimism following a rather mean personal pot-shot at westexas.

Notice that only 14 out of 44 countries have increased production. Is this unimportant?

The author blames falling production on the swing producer Saudi Arabia as if this was merely politics.

The English language has tens of thousands of words in it, but
I can't think of one that really describes an opinion so shallow, unsubstantial and dismissive.

Kingsdale recently entered the energy field.

Is he unhappy about its apparently diminished prospects?

I have actually been looking for analysis to refute the ELM...and I am sure WT would welcome anything to put holes in the theory as well. Wouldn't we all? But, seeing the posts here in DB today (especially from WT, I suspect this is his response to the article), looks like what is currently happening is not what is described in this article. I was taken by these points and the facts that support it, anyone agree with what is stated?:

2. Iraq, Libya, and Angola are all poised to increase their net exports substantially in the near term.

3. Brazil is not on this list but is also expected to become a substantial net oil exporter in short order.

4. Nigerian exports have been declining due to violence, not an inability to produce and export a great deal more oil. It is impossible to predict if that situation will get better or worse but, regardless, the Nigerian export declines do not fit the ELM model of a country with naturally (geologically necessary) declining oil production.

2. Iraq, Libya, and Angola are all poised to increase their net exports substantially in the near term.

3. Brazil is not on this list but is also expected to become a substantial net oil exporter in short order.

In reverse order, Brazil has considerably lowered its net oil imports, but it is still a net oil importer, and I think that it is a long way from being a major (one mbpd or more) net oil exporter.

But in any case, let's sum the combined 2007 net increase in net oil exports from Iraq, Libya, Angola and Brazil and compare it to the combined 2007 decline in net oil exports from just Venezuela and Mexico:

Iraq, et al up 378,000 bpd in 2007

V&M, down 413,000 bpd in 2008.

Net difference: -35,000 bpd

But in any case, the reason we chose to model the top five--accounting for half of world net oil exports--was that it was a lot easier than modeling 10, 15 or 30 and the fate of the top five will determine what happens to world net oil exports and to the world economy. As we warned in our paper, the top five showed an accelerating net export decline rate in 2007--on track to collectively approach zero net oil exports in 23 years or so.


You've made an excellent case for your net export crisis recently, it is really a simple but important concept, the ELM. I personally see this crisis worsening and being the push that completely reverses the downward correction in oil prices. Is there any reason for the recent drop to 122$ a barrel from 135$, from the supply/Demand standpoint? I haven't heard about any increases in inventories and Iran is even hoarding sour crude in 14 tankers off of Kharg Island. Also what are your thoughts on Iraq, has it peaked, or are there huge reserves and undiscovered fields to be tapped into?


IMO, the paper market is trying to be bearish, but the more bullish spot market, a result of importers bidding for declining net oil exports, keeps causing problems for the paper traders. Note that this is basically the complete opposite of conventional wisdom.

IMO, this is spot on. Oil futures are derivatives, which means they derive their price from the price of oil, not the other way around. Futures traders can move futures prices on the time scale of hours to days, but eventually the price of the real asset, oil, pulls futures back to reality.

To affect the underlying asset, and not just the derivative, speculators have to buy or sell the real thing, not just the paper derivative, either by buying and hoarding oil directly, or by arbitraging the difference between oil & oil futures. In any case, unless we start seeing evidence of speculators actually taking delivery of oil, they are just guessing (i.e. speculating) where oil is going and trying to make money by being the first to realize it. If they guess wrong, they don't move oil prices, they lose money.

I have posted this several times...but here again. Not sure that it is true evidence of speculators hoarding...taking physical inventory of oil. Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley were pointed out numerous times in yesterdays congressional witchhunt on speculators.

This article is from 2004:


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.

I wouldn't be surprised if such a thing is happening, at least on a modest scale (and with oil supplies as tight as they are, even a modest scale might be enough to influence prices). I also agree with some posters from today that we are about to enter a time in which oil producers "speculate" by leaving their oil in the ground in the expectation of future rises.

What I'm pretty sure of, however, is that people buying & selling oil futures on Nymex aren't driving the global price of oil higher.

Damn that Michael Meyers!

(Like Michael, the belief that we can have an infinite rate of increase in our consumption of a finite resource base is hard to kill)



Rather than analyse Kingsdale's wishful spin;

(Some of this may be a little old but...)
Nigeria 2.5 mbpd #11 total producer in a virtual civil war
Iraq 2.2 mbpd #13 total producer in a virtual civil war
Libya 1.7 mbpd #15 total producer
Angola 1.6 mbpd #16 total producer
Brazil 1.6 mbpd #17 total producer
Total 9.6 mbpd less than either Saudi#2 or Russia#1 alone. The US#3 is currently at ~5 mbpd in total production.
The whole oil export market is about 50% of total oil production.

These are second tier producers, all together less than a quarter of the world export market. The rest are declining.

In response to point 4: ELM is a subset of all "above ground factors" that are the direct result of geological factors. These several phenomena (of which ELM is one, I've written about the whole set here) are mutually supporting, and can't be separated cleanly. In Nigeria, the declines are due primarily to non-ELM forces (well, if you define ELM very narrowly, just looking at the increase in internal demand caused by rising revenues), and certainly aren't impossible to predict--they're still the result of identifiable positive feedback loops. Elsewhere the declines seem best attributable to the pure ELM forces. I think that, while the ELM model is at the forefront, we're best served by keeping the whole complex of geologically driven but above-ground positive feedback loops in mind...

My take on the article was that he, like a lot of people, was basically doing a version of the "Cornucopian Primal Scream," i.e., there must be some way, somehow that we can maintain an infinite rate of increase in our consumption of a finite resource base.

I did like the part about me mostly talking to myself about exports; there is a lot of truth to it. Do a Google Search for Net Oil Exports. Usually our stuff accounts for about half of the top 10 listings.

What's the weather like today?

I agree with your analysis that we could be facing imminent shortages and any shortage would call for screams to release oil from the SPR. I'm not sure they would actually release said oil. That said, I wonder about the wisdom of making such specific predictions. If your correct, you look like a genius. If you're incorrect, you've given your detractors ammunition even though your basic premise may be spot on.

Jeffrey is an independent geologist. This is NOT a profession that attracts the risk adverse.

And given the risks our society faces, that is a good thing !

Best Hopes for Jeffrey,


British Special Air Service motto - Qui audet adipiscitur Who dares wins

Well, since you asked, the forecast is for declining net exports.

In any case, a "Holy Cow" number. It looks like last week's Gulf Coast crude oil inventory number (at 153 mb) is 35 mb below the year ago level of 188 mb (I assume that this monthly average, although "ending stocks" suggests end of month). The Gulf Coast has got to be bumping along their MOL number.


It looks like the lowest for May, for the past 10 years, was 146..

Not at "Holy Cow" until Gulf Coast inventories decline to below the January lows of 140-141 million barrels - so a further 13-15 million barrel decline to go. I would guess that Padd 3 MoL is probably somewhere around 125-130 million barrels.

AFAICT, current Padd 3 stocks are higher than in any week in the whole of 2003. Then again, I doubt that anyone today would be comfortable with those levels as the hurricane season progresses towards its most active period.

True, but as you implied there is a seasonal component going into the summer.

Regarding MOL, I assume that there are two ways to guess at it: (1) Lowest number that we have seen in recent years (which appears to be 136 mb) and (2) Use the annual 2007 US data relative to a nationwide MOL of 270 mb versus Gulf Coast 2007 data (using this approach I came up with about a MOL of about 137 mb for the Gulf Coast).

But again, there is presumably a seasonal factor, so wouldn't the lowest May number in recent years (146) be a key metric? It looks like 170 mb was the end of May average for the past five years, so we are 17 mb below the five year average, or only 7 mb above the lowest that we have seen in May for the past five years.

. . . and the most recent data that we have show that our two biggest sources of imported oil to the Gulf Coast showed that their combined net exports to the US were falling at an annual rate of -32%/year.

The lowest number that we've seen isn't an absolute though - I very much doubt that they got within a whisker of the absolute minimum at 136 million barrels, so you have to allow for some leeway below that ( well, I did.... ). I guess that a good stress indicator would be a sudden drop in refinery inputs/refinery utilisation - and we aren't seeing that yet.

It strikes me that the US oil complex is shedding whatever excess crude inventory it can in the hope/anticipation of lower costs. It's a huge game of chicken!

I remember last summer talk of running up against the MOL was quite rampant here. Now we seem to be in much worse shape. Gotta go now to stock up on a couple more cans of gas ;-)

An edit of a post I did the other day:
From http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/oog/info/twip/twip_crude.html

Current stock level now 307mb, having fallen 13.6mb in the last two weeks!
Data at http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/dnav/pet/hist/wcestus1w.htm
Note that from last July (353mb) which was the peak stockpile for the year thru to January 2008 (282mb), US Crude Oil stocks fell 68 million barrels. If that falling trend is repeated this year (which I assume it will unless US imports increase drastically this year during that period, or oil consumption falls significantly), then I predict that the MOL for Crude (assuming it is 270mb) will be breeched this September.

That is in THREE MONTHS.

Start stockpiling popcorn!

Refiners are going to have to bid the price of crude up and/or curtail refinery runs.

How fungible is oil really? Isn't most oil delivered via long term contracts? How much is free for the US to snap up?

Why? Draw down the SPR at 5-10 million barrels per week for a coupl of years and then worry about it later.

Thanks for a great post, which indicates in detail when breakdown is likely to happen.
Please keep us updated, as this is of the first importance.

I posted the following to Todd Benjamin's blog on CNN - he is the chief business correspondent, and well aware that high oil prices are no fluke:

The Minimum Operating Level is likely to be breached by September.
This is is the minimum amount of oil and distillates needed to keep the supply chain full - if you go below it, then the gas station has no gas, essential pumping equipment stops working, and so on.
Here are the figures:
The Oil Drum | DrumBeat: June 4, 2008

This means that the refiners have been running down their stocks, probably hoping oil prices will fall, and they are going to have to top up soon, if they can find the oil.
Since two of the major suppliers to the Gulf, Mexico and Venezuela, have rapidly falling exports, then the price rise needed to attract more supplies, or the recession needed to reduce demand, are massive.
It takes a lot longer to bring oil from the Gulf than from neighbouring countries, so that you have a lot more tankers out in the high seas loaded with oil not immediately available for use.
It seems overwhelmingly likely that the wheels are going to come off of the US economy and oil prices soar.
We need CNN to explain what is happening, and concepts like MOL.

If you want to contact CNN it is at cnn.com.bizblog

I hope it was OK to reference your post.

I've breezed through the thread, but a point I haven't seen raised that you raised yourself recently: ELM is not a global model. The author/bloggist/whatever above responds as if it is. This skews the perception of what the ELM does and allows a misleading rebuttal to look as if it might have some legitimacy:

My God! How can they think they can model exports for such a wide variety of countries with all their various factors affecting their exports? Pish-posh! Tsk, tsk!

If I were unaware of the correct application of th ELM, I would agree with the article.

Further, the author fails to address how increasing exports are eaten up by depletion, i.e. how the timelines mean the combination of depletion and increasing demand is almost certain to eat up any gains in production --> exports, and the uncertainties in whether those targets will be met at all. Brazil is already pulling resources out of Carioca due to shortages in materiel, etc.

IOW, the article was a joke - a hit piece, nothing more.


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Thanks a lot!

May have been posted before...but this was humorous for me.

How To Explain Peak Oil to Paris Hilton (and others):


My simple try at explaining PO goes like this:

Take a small bowl, place a NEW sponge inside (size of bowl).
Add exactly one cup of milk (total milk in place = reserves).
Put chocolate chip cookie on top of sponge (I like chocolate chip).
Give the person a toothpick and a straw.
Get after it!
Tell me how much milk you get and how much milk the sponge keeps forever!

friggin' brilliant

Excellent model, eastex!

Very funny. I especially liked the part about the aging hippy (though she really should use their proper designation: DFH).

I turned on Fox News this morning (I know, I should be ashamed, but I wanted to hear how they would spin Obama's victory). Anyway, the bimbo anchor had a "special report" on an exciting "new" discovery that will solve all our energy problems. (the discovery, by the way, was made in 1953, though that fact wasn't mentioned)

The governor of Montana made a brief appearance in which he explained how the Bakken Formation holds an estimated 450 billion barrels of oil, and at our current rate of consumption of 8 billion barrels per year, we've got enough for at least half a century.

The bimbo (now glowing with enthusiasm) breathlessly wanted to know what the government was doing to get this oil out of the ground, so that we can achieve true energy independence ASAP.

The governor of Montana assured her that we don't need the government. Private enterprise will do the job, just as long as the government stays out of the way.

No one mentioned the fact that only about 1% of these reserves (which are locked up in impermeable shale) are recoverable with current technology.

But that's just a minor detail. The good news is that we're saved! Peak Oil is a myth! Time to buy a new Hummer.

[sarcanol]Thank hell for Faux news to feed the masses disinformation so they don't panic. [/sarcanol]

Although, the longer they manage to not panic, the longer I have to learn how to grow my own food, and clear off some of my acreage!

The governor of Montana is Schweitzer, a Democrat. Now who here believes there is more than a nickel's worth of difference between the Republicans and the Democrats?

I like tech ticker...

Debate Rages on Oil: Is It a Bubble About to Burst?


OK, so the EIA report came out ot 10:35.
Last week US crude invetory fell almost 9M Barrels. This week we see another Decline of almost 5M. In both cases this came mostly from PADDIII (gulf coast)

This supports the ELM informaion about M&V's declining exports.

So why isnt this reflected in the prices? Should I be looking at something other than WTI?
Or is the market just going short after such a rapid run up - is this the speculative bubble bursting and relaxing us back to a lower price?

There's some discussion upthread.

The gasoline build was larger than expected.

News is always filtered through market sentiment. Oil prices are going through what looks like a standard correction to me, so the short-term sentiment is bearish. News contrary to sentiment is always discounted (except at inflection points), which is why markets seem to behave so irrationally.

From a purely technical perspective, when oil backed off from $135 and headed down, I expected it to go to the low 120s and for something of a battle to ensue around that price. Why low 120s? If you look at a 6-month chart for oil, you can draw a pretty good trend line from the early February lows to todays lows that just touches the dips in early April and early May. It is also getting close to its lower price channel. Nothing ever just goes up in a straight line. There are always zigs and zags. I think we're just having a zag. I'm not ready to call a bottom yet, but I'd be surprised if oil went below 119 (intraday) or closed much below 121.

That's the (my) technical perspective, which is sometimes spectacularly wrong. However, in this case I think fundamentals support the technicals. Still, I think we're in a trading range at the moment, and you'll see a "consolidation" before oil starts moving back up again.

A couple of things.

Firstly, the Gulf Coast accounts for at least 50% of US imports - and is the repository of 50% of US commercial crude oil inventories. If there is any "fat" in US inventories, this is where it will be trimmed from. It's worth recalling that at the turn of the year Gulf Coast inventories stood at 141 million barrels - so there's still some leeway before we get to a screaming red-hot "buy" signal, unless a hurricane pops up in an awkward location.

Secondly, the decline in inventories that we've all noticed has come in the past few weeks - at a time of record oil prices - leads me to contemplate that it is entirely possible that US refiners are shedding inventory in the hope that prices will moderate and that they will be able to sustain/rebuild inventory at a lower price point.

Have you ever studied Carl Marx in U.S.A?
You are exchancing the end of capitalism with the end of the world.
They are two very different things.
p.s. Don't identify Marx with URSS or Cuba. Those sistems have nothing to do with the future humanistic society.


Errr - does anyone else understand what the parent post is about?

Think of it as one of them buttons in the cockpit you only press when you - by chance - are told to press it by emergency-manual-prosedures ....


Look at the volatility in oil today. I don't think the market knows which way is up, Bernanke talks the dollar up, oil production declines, worldwide demand rises, which way to go? Long term of course oil is going up, but I'm at a loss to even hazard a guess as to the short term rise or fall in oil.

Apologies if this is a repeat:

Some mind boggling infrastructure technology heading for the GOM


What the heck is going on in Texas?

More electric customers transferred as another provider defaults

The 12,000 customers of E-tricity, an electric retailer, have been moved to other providers after the company defaulted on its financial agreements with the state grid operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas.

It was the third provider to lose its customers since late May, as wholesale prices soared because of grid congestion and the rising cost of natural gas, the state's main electric generation fuel.

It's fallout from the regulatory distortion ("deregulation") foisted on us by Enron. The company may be bankrupt, its honchos in jail or dead, but ERCOT (and siblings) are the legacy that just keeps on giving.

On the bright side, it will encourage solar.

[edit] I don't mean to let E-tricity off the hook with that remark. It would never have existed without Enron.

Totally circumstantial but...

We had a power outage here for about an hour and when the power came back on my POS system was locked up. (first time in over a dozen black outs thats happened).

Called tech support and the guy said that they have been flooded with black out problem calls from all around the country over the last few days.

I asked if it was a software issue as I can usually make adjustments, but he said no, we get these calls every year about this time, its just shift managers who are not trained on the system, but this year its definitely up.

With that many blackouts you should invest in a small UPS system. The battery will give you plenty of time to shut down with no data loss. But more importantly it'll filter the line, and its that line noise that hurts electronics.

I'd imagine those POS systems are pretty expensive.

Ah, I just amused myself. A 'POS' machine is probably "point of sale" isn't it. Initially, I'd thought the poster was just running a windows machine. My wife has a POS windows machine, but the acronym is not a fond one though it is descriptive. And yes, the POS has a UPS on it.

UN presses for solutions to food shortages

The United Nations called on countries at a global agriculture summit to rethink the production of biofuels and drop restrictions on food exports, saying these policies drive up food prices and cause hunger in poor countries.

The U.N. took sides in the two heated debates Tuesday as it sought to mobilize aid for and investment in developing countries' farm sectors and secure access to food for the world's poor, as soaring food prices have triggered hunger and civil unrest in several developing countries.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a speech here that world food output needs to rise 50% by 2030 to meet the needs of a growing world population. "We have a historic opportunity to revitalize agriculture," Mr. Ban told delegates.

(originally in the WSJ)

Conservation of mass. If there isn't an increase in the food supply, an increase in the available nutrients and calories, there won't be an increase in the population, or in the useful work it is capable of performing.

"Conservation of mass. If there isn't an increase in the food supply, an increase in the available nutrients and calories, there won't be an increase in the population, or in the useful work it is capable of performing."


in other words,

"If you don't eat yer' meat, you Can't have any pudding!!" ?

All in all,
it's just another brick in the wall---

'We don't need no education, we don't need no thought control'.

In fact they are not getting an education but they are getting thought control.

Too bad 'Black Swan' was not published in the 1950s. It is the most informative book I have read in a long time and I don't bother with drivel...and, no I do not have any connection with the author or publisher.

Not to worry, says one of the FSN pundits, the free market will provide:


Any observer of the history of commodity bull markets will notice that every time a major commodity establishes a long-term rising trend, the stories in the popular press are always “bent to fit the head” of the prevailing trend. The so-called Peak Oil Theory is no exception. What history also teaches is that sooner or later, supply has a way of coming out of the most mysterious cracks and crevices. When it does, it invariably spoils the party for the perma-bulls, who foolishly envision a never-ending rise in the price of their favorite commodity.

Cliff Droke is literally retarded-I have no idea why they let him post on that site. They have some pretty sharp posters on FSN.

Yeah, I try to stand back and take the average of all the FSN crew, filtering somewhat for goldbuggery. A few months ago I put a little "play money" in one of their goldmines, and it's currently my very worst investment. I look at it every day and say "Bah! Humbug!".

Through the floor
May 29th 2008
From Economist.com

America's house prices are falling even faster than during the Great Depression

AS HOUSE prices in America continue their rapid descent, market-watchers are having to cast back ever further for gloomy comparisons. The latest S&P/Case-Shiller national house-price index, published this week, showed a slump of 14.1% in the year to the first quarter, the worst since the index began 20 years ago. Now Robert Shiller, an economist at Yale University and co-inventor of the index, has compiled a version that stretches back over a century. This shows that the latest fall in nominal prices is already much bigger than the 10.5% drop in 1932, the worst point of the Depression. And things are even worse than they look. In the deflationary 1930s house prices declined less in real terms. Today inflation is running at a brisk pace, so property prices have fallen by a staggering 18% in real terms over the past year.

Yes, very interesting isn't it? Bernanke is skating on ever thinner ice. On the one hand Ben faces huge deflation caused by wealth destruction from falling home prices, SUV prices, and maxed out ex-consumers... on the other hand is inflationary pressure caused by Bernanke attempting to reflate the consumer economy by lowering interest rates. Meanwhile MZ or the old M3 money supply is rising at about 18% per year while the value of the dollar is sinking fast. As the dollar sinks prices rise...not immediately for it takes a while for devalued dollars to work through the economy. Dow Chemical announced an across the board 20% price hike a few days ago and many more companies, those that have pricing power, will follow suit.

In his latest speach Bernanke said that he did not believe that America would face the problem of inflation that was experienced in the 70s, caused by spiraling prices while wages increased in an attempt to catch up with prices.

Well, no we won't...because instead of inflation being 'firmly anchored', wages are firmly anchored. Workers now do not have the leverage that they had in the 70s to demand higher pay as prices spiraled upward.

This problem will work it's way up the food chain but the poor folks at the bottom are going to be crushed.


Well, it turns out that the reason that Bear Stearns was about to go belly-up before JP Morgan bought it is that it had held trillions of dollars in derivatives, which were about to go south. (The reason that JP Morgan was so eager to buy Bear Stearns is that it was on the other side of these derivative contracts -- if Bear Stearns had gone under, JP Morgan would have taken a huge hit. But the way the derivative agreements were drafted, a purchase by JP Morgan canceled the derivative contracts, so that JP Morgan didn't experience huge losses. That is probably why the Fed was so eager to broker - and fund - the shotgun marriage. JP Morgan is a much larger player, and if Bear's failure had caused the derivatives hit to JP Morgan, it probably would have rippled out to the whole financial system and potentially caused an instant depression).

(I note how the system no longs breaks long drumbeats on 2 pages. THanks!)

Eric...Thanks for the run-down on Bear/JP Morgan but that is very old news. Here are a couple of financial sites that will keep you abreast of what is going on. Make that 'what is REALLY going on' as opposed to what msm and some other 'establishment economic sites' are blathering about. I have some more interesting sites if you are interested...Lots going on and the explosion is CDS (credit derivative swaps) has not begun. Certainly interesting times we live in. :)



http://www.minyanville.com/ (don't miss '5 Things' by Depew)







http://www.bloomberg.com/index.html?Intro=intro3 (establishment)

Shell is being kicked out from Nigeria

Speaking in Cape Town, Yar'Adua said it was clear "there is a total loss of confidence between Shell and the Ogoni people" and for that reason "another operator acceptable to the Ogonis" will take over from Shell.

Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua on Wednesday said Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell would be replaced by another operator by the end of the year in the volatile Niger Delta's oil-rich Ogoniland region.

I reckon that reaps some sizable proven reserves from Shells account

Are we going to have the western media jumping up and down bleating about "political" interference in the "rightful" business interests of Shell? Shell should have been kicked out years ago given its bloody history in Nigeria.

What Peak Oil?
Detroit is drinking from the Cup!

Hello TODers,

Continuing the dire I-NPK hit parade:

Fertiliser price hike blamed on overseas costs

New Zealand farmers are about to be hit by the nation's biggest fertiliser price rises on record, with superphosphate jumping by $210/tonne.

The increase is about the same as the whole price for superphosphate less than a year ago...

...Mr Bilodeau said the cooperative's rising costs include a faster-than-expected increase in shipping costs, "but the biggest majority of the increase is the input costs for phosphate rock and sulphur".

"Products such as sulphur have increased by as much as 400 per cent in a year," he said.
Have you hugged your bag of NPK today?

Of course, all the NPK in the world won't help much if you are in a drought:

Governor Declares Drought in California and Warns of Rationing

Its reservoir levels receding and its grounds parched, California has fallen officially into drought, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Wednesday, warning that the state might be forced to ration water to cities and regions if conservation efforts did not improve.
Famous Quote: Whiskey is for drinkin', water is for fightin'

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

Bob you keep on digging out all bad new all the time ....... ;-(

"Products such as sulphur have increased by as much as 400 per cent in a year"
These fertilizer things are getting serious !

Cristal Global Announces Raw Material Surcharge and Price Increases in Central & South America

...Due to unprecedented raw material and freight cost increases, including sulfur, natural gas, and energy, combined with the strength of the Real, Cristal Global will apply a $200 per ton raw material surcharge on all Tiona® sulfate products produced at its plant in Bahia, Brazil.

John Hall, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, said, "The spot price of sulfur has increased by approximately 1000% over the last twelve months and we are unable to absorb such a dramatic increase any longer.”
Recall my previous postings warning of the sulphur price rippling through our infrastructure supply chains.

Bob, thanks for the info. I recently purchased some extra bags of 'citrus mix' fertilizer for our citrus trees and some fertilizer for the figs...we love figs...so do the squrrils, birds, raccoons, et al...every year its a race to get enough figs to eat fresh and for fig preserves. We get about half, critters get the rest. Seems fair.

I have stopped fertilizing the St Augustine grass and seldom water it anymore. We are going to replace the lawn with a garden. We have named ourselves (wife and I) the Darwinian Gardeners. Both wife and I were partially raised on farms so we have lots of experience with a hoe.

Can't wait to see the expression on the neighbors faces when I spread several tons of sheep manure on what was formerly the front lawn. :)

Saudi oil revenues touch $1bn per day

Saudi Arabia is making $1 billion (Dh3.67bn) a day in oil revenues on the back of record global fuel prices, according to a top executive at Riyadh-based Jadwa investment company.
"Currently Saudi Arabia is making over a $1bn a day in oil revenues. So $30bn a month, of which about half is being used to support core government spending, and the other half is going to Sama which says it's growing its foreign assets by about $15bn a month," said Bourland. "This is going to continue on and on, and the sovereign wealth story will continue to roll," he added.
Bourland said despite the recent flurry of investment in the West of sovereign wealth money, ownership of foreign assets by Middle East funds was only in its early stages. "The West feels its spent 100 plus years building the private sector companies, so for governments to start buying these assets it's a little bit troubling, and we'd prefer our own government to buy our company not somebody else's government.

Hello Ace,

Thxs for responding. Yep, I have posted long before about Sovereign Investment Funds [SIFs].

KSA's billion$/day is $41,666,666.00 per hour. Pocket change for them to buy huge blocks of stock in companies like the Potash North Corp. in my posting below. Then, KSA could provide the funding to bring this mine [ha!, just a mining permit] onstream in record time [a mere 3-4 days of FF-sales].

IMO, this is just insanely nuts [or else people are just getting flat-out scared-to-death about our future postPeak food supply]:

Potash North shares rocket 670% on market debut

Potash North (PON.V)

Close: $1.54, up $1.34

Another fertilizer bombshell: $1600/t
Approx. 7 barrels of crude in a ton, therefore, a rough comparision gives:

$1600 for a future ton of DAP fertilizer/7 bbl/ton = $228/barrel of crude. Pretty close to the Morgan Stanly predicted price spike of $200/barrel. Time will tell.

and as usual: Morocco makes headlines again...

Morocco's Office Cherifien de Phosphate (OCP), the world's largest phosphate exporter, has signed an agreement with the Switzerland-based Libya-Africa Investment Portfolio to jointly develop ammonia, phosphoric acid and diammonium phosphate (DAP) fertiliser plants in Morocco and Libya.

...The government hopes to increase fertiliser output from Jorf Lasfar from 2.5 million t/y currently to 10 million t/y by 2015.
This could create a stunning amount of Moroccan cash-flow if they can find the equipment, sulphur, and sufficient natgas & oil energy to power these giant operations.

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