DrumBeat: June 13, 2008

Europe: Oil's Brave New World

If you want to see the future of oil, look at Europe.

Since 1999, Europe has increased oil imports more than 20%--just slightly less than the amount consumed by Germany in 2007--to compensate for declining domestic production. In other words, Europe is running out of oil and scrambling to secure new supplies to fill the losses.

And those losses are coming more quickly than predicted, primarily in the once-prodigious oil fields of the North Sea. After peaking in 2001, production in the North Sea, Europe's largest reserve of oil and gas, plunged. In 2006, after six years of consecutive declines, the North Sea produced nearly 2 million barrels of oil per day less than it had six years earlier, roughly equivalent to the amount France consumes annually.

The Balloon Goes Up: Are We At A Peak Oil Tipping Point?

The peak oil balloon, it may appear, is finally going up. Not only have we seen obvious signs like the highest oil price rise in history on June 6 (coincidentally the anniversary of D-Day which began the liberation of Europe in the Second World War), but Gordon Brown, accidental Prime Minister of a former oil exporting (1980-2005) country, may also be one of the unlikely envoys of truth.

Russia nixes oil exploration in Black Sea

Russia demanded today that Ukraine stop oil exploration in parts of the Black Sea, saying the work was illegal because a territorial dispute over the area had not been resolved.

The activities of Ukrainian energy companies in certain areas of the sea "are of an illegal nature and must be halted," Russia's foreign ministry said in a statement sent to reporters.

Energy: Turn lights off, New Zealanders told, as drought hits power plants

New Zealanders are to be urged to wash dishes by hand and turn off some of their household lights as the country teeters on the brink of a power crisis caused by drought.

Argentine Trucker Blockades Spark Food, Fuel Shortage

(Bloomberg) -- Argentine food stores and gas stations may run short of supplies today as truckers, blocking highways to protest business lost to a farm strike, shut down the nation's road transport system, industry officials said.

Spanish truck strike weakens, deliveries resume

MADRID (Reuters) - Deliveries to Spanish wholesale food markets began returning to normal and factories started to get back to work on Friday as a truck strike over fuel costs began to weaken, industry officials said.

Following police action to clear pickets from highways, trucks made big deliveries of fresh produce to Madrid's Mercamadrid wholesale food market, averting the danger of the capital's supermarkets running out of stocks, vegetable and meat wholesale associations said.

Pakistan: People take to streets against loadshedding

KARACHI - Violent riots continued on Thursday at various localities in the metropolis against power outage as Karachiites have been suffering more than 8-hour long loadshedding in a day.

People spent sleepless night due to the mid night loadshedding while a KESC sub-station in Lyari near Khadda Market caught fire after several blasts due to overloading.

Canada urged to amass oil wealth

OTTAWA — The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development is pushing Canada to adopt Norway's model for managing oil wealth, an approach Alberta has rejected.

High oil: NAFTA's trump card

The global economy is now tripolar and growth is driven by three roughly equal major economic engines: North America, Europe and Asia. However, high commodity prices threaten to slow Asia and Europe’s economies.

North America is a different matter and a NAFTA energy policy could benefit all.

Australia Energy Minister Travels to Perth to Assess Gas Crisis

(Bloomberg) -- Australia's energy minister will travel to the nation's western-most state in a push to resolve a disruption in gas supplies caused by an explosion threatening expansion in one of the world's biggest mining regions.

European Car Market -7.8% In May Amid High Fuel Prices

FRANKFURT -(Dow Jones)- Demand for new cars in Europe shrank 7.8% on the year in May to 1.33 million registrations due to one working day less and a massive increase in fuel prices, the European Automobile Manufacturers Association, or ACEA, said Friday.

Turkey, Syria eye nuclear energy cooperation: agency

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkey and Syria are considering setting up a joint energy company and could build joint nuclear power plants for electricity, Syria's oil minister was quoted as saying on Friday.

Turkey's state-run Antolian agency quoted Oil Minister Sufian Alao as saying that the two countries will announce the establishment of a joint energy company in the coming days, which could explore for oil in Turkey, Syria and in third countries.

Energy Issues Consume Capitol Hill: Both Sides Battle Over Solutions

Lawmakers continued to throw gasoline on the legislative fire Thursday, with Democrats taking aim at oil companies failing to drill on existing leases and Republicans calling for opening new areas to explore.

With gasoline prices hitting records yet again Thursday, energy has become the all-consuming conversation on Capitol Hill.

But the two main political parties are entrenched in their long-held postures, and any real breakthrough in energy policy this presidential election year is unlikely.

Diesel urgently needed for Myanmar farmers to plant rice: UN

BANGKOK: Myanmar's farmers urgently need one million gallons (4.5 million litres) of diesel fuel to plough their rice paddies and help feed cyclone victims in coming months, the United Nations said on Friday.

Noeleen Heyzer, executive secretary of the UN Asian economic body ESCAP, called on neighbouring countries, donors and oil suppliers to help as the rising price of oil affects fuel supplies to the impoverished nation.

Rising costs throw veg industry into depression

The last three months have been particularly difficult, and rising costs of fuel and labour have been putting pressure on both businesses and prices. “From a growing point of view, the cost of transport, energy and labour is continually going up, and this will invariably force the price of vegetables to increase,” says one insider. “Generally, vegetable prices have been higher this quarter. From an importer’s point of view, prices are likely to be the same, as we are mostly in fixed contracts. The cost has not passed along the chain to the customer or consumer, because of fixed selling prices, which are squeezing margins.”

Inflation: 3 big questions

Uncle Sam says the cost of living isn't out of hand. Then why do you feel like you're living hand to mouth?

Banking on Gardening

CASSANDRA FEELEY prefers organic ingredients, especially for her baby, but she finds it hard to manage on her husband’s salary as an Army sergeant. So this year she did something she has wanted to do for a long time: she planted vegetables in her yard to save money.

New kits can turn your car into a hybrid

Soon drivers will be able to get at least double the gas mileage of a Toyota Prius hybrid, thanks to a spate of new aftermarket kits that convert any car into a plug-in electric vehicle. But they’ll have to pay upwards of $10,000 to do so.

PG&E signs deal for world’s first hybrid biofuel solar power plant

The hybrid technology will allow two 53.4 megawatt plants to tap the sun and agricultural waste produced in surrounding Fresno County to generate green energy around the clock, according to San Joaquin Solar, a subsidiary of Portugal’s Martifer Renewables. For PG&E (PCG), 107 megawatts is just enough to keep the air conditioners running for some 75,000 homes. But if the biofuel solar hybrid performs as billed and can be scaled up, it’s a win-win - recycling ag waste - a huge and expensive problem in California - into electricity.

The Energy Crisis and Mobility

Bottom line, at least from my perspective: this is a long-term problem. Standards of living will fall, at least modestly. Economic growth will slow, and globally. These effects, however, will be relatively short-lived, perhaps 10-15 years. Research into new energy sources will accelerate, and more efficient techniques across the board for using energy will emerge as well. Both air pollution and global warming will be modestly addressed. Sure, some industries will really take a hit, but that's what happens in properly-functioning economies. We deal with the problem. We progress and move on. This won't be easy, but it's not the end of the world.

Even the Antarctic winter cannot protect Wilkins Ice Shelf (with animation)

Wilkins Ice Shelf has experienced further break-up with an area of about 160 km² breaking off from 30 May to 31 May 2008. ESA’s Envisat satellite captured the event – the first ever-documented episode to occur in winter.

Saudi crude sale to Asia limited by ‘low grades’

SINGAPORE: Saudi Arabia may find itself unable to fully serve its crude oil customers in Asia, the most important market for Middle East producers, as refiners are reluctant to accept the grades being offered.

Asian refiners want increased supplies of the lighter grades of crude to produce more expensive cleaner-burning fuels while Saudi Arabia is offering more of the heavy, high-sulphur grades.

What will happen to the oil price?

Iran has at least 14 oil tankers idling in the Persian Gulf, according to Bloomberg, prompting guesses that they are preparing for something military. But they could simply be having problems selling oil. And it’s not just Iran, says George Friedman of Stratfor. Tanker lease prices have soared in recent weeks as “lots of speculators bet that oil is heading for around $150 and are willing to pay very highly for keeping oil at sea, waiting for higher prices. It’s a speculative boom.”

Back in the early 1980s, he adds, there were 30 or so tankers just sitting outside New York harbour, waiting for prices to continue to increase. “When they didn’t, all the tankers tried to berth at the same time, which, of course, they couldn’t. That was the top of the market.”

Airlines add to fees they charge fliers

Record oil prices' toll on air travel climbed Thursday as several airlines unleashed new fees, higher fuel surcharges and schedule cutbacks.

Apache Energy gains confidence in gas repairs

APACHE Energy says it is increasingly confident that it can return its Varanus Island gas processing plant to partial production sooner than feared.

With Federal Energy Minister Martin Ferguson due in Perth tonight for talks with the WA Government on the gas crisis, Apache said today it was gaining more confidence in its original forecast that it could restore supply within a couple of months.

Israel - Global Agenda: The food chain

Iowa has suffered exceptionally heavy rainfall these last few weeks. Shas will do well in the upcoming Israeli general election.

Not only are the two preceding statements NOT random, they are directly connected by a chain of cause and effect. So try and remember - when the fatuous talking heads on the TV post-election all-night coverage express their amazement at Shas's strong showing, and the Shas spokesmen wax lyrical about the help of the Almighty and the unique status of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef - to think of the yeomen farmers of Iowa and reflect that the ways of the Lord are passin' strange.

Alberta's big oil boys could be in for a crude awakening once the energy crisis reaches full boil

It had nothing to do with them, the executives said in unison, and everything to do with supply and demand.

Remember the cigarette executives who did the same routine a few years ago, and who blew smoke up the butts of their inquisitors by claiming that smoking was not that dangerous and nicotine was not that addictive?

It will be much the same thing with the big oil boys.

Investing in the post-guzzler era

You know there’s an energy crisis when Ferrari pledges to redesign its supercars to get 40% more distance out of a tank of gas. Celebrated for bombastic 12-cylinder engines that assure its place in the annual fuel-hog rankings, the Italian icon is making lighter models that also are molded to reduce aerodynamic drag. It has even built a concept car that swigs 85% ethanol.

The Philippines: Mass poverty seen with oil at $200

Steep gasoline prices, however, seem like small pain compared to the harm record high crude prices will do to many Filipinos. Millions will be impoverished. Those who are barely middle class will fall to the edge of poverty.

In the interim, there will be long lines of people wanting to buy cheap rice. Malnutrition will worsen, as will mass hunger. Dropping out of school will be fashionable. The result is social unrest never seen in the last 30 years. Food riots could erupt in some urban places in the country where so-called informal settlers are dominant. Boycotts over high-priced bus and jeepney fares can be expected.

Akaka presents Hawai‘i gas crisis to Senate

“By harnessing the sun, wind, ocean, and geothermal power to generate electricity, Hawai‘i is trying to reduce our heavy reliance on imported fuel and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.

“We must do all that we can to encourage the development and production of renewable and sustainable energy technologies from these natural resources. Achieving our goals will only be possible if we approach the problem as responsible stewards of our environment. Together, we will make an impact.”

Maine's petroleum crisis

The rising cost of petroleum products has placed Maine in a true energy crisis. This crisis must be addressed at both the federal and state levels. The federal government has primary responsibility for dealing with public policy related to petroleum. Congress’ policy decisions over the last few years have influenced current petroleum pricing and Congress must take at least some part of the blame for the high fuel costs we are experiencing today. The federal government’s current energy policy does little to recognize the immediacy of this current crisis, let alone do anything to solve the problem. It is time to demand from our federal representatives that any national energy policy include two things.

Wind, waves touted as energy alternative for Maine

NORTHPORT, Maine—Experts say offshore wind and tidal power can help ease Maine's looming energy crisis, but plenty of obstacles must be overcome before those renewable alternatives become a reality.

Winds of change

Oil rich Gulf states have long been the laggards in driving environmentally-friendly policy.

But now that is changing as a raft of new green building codes and sustainability initiatives emerge from both the private and public sectors that include multi-billion dollar zero-carbon cities, environmental clusters and hybrid cars.

We need to establish a floor on oil prices now

Then a funny thing happened. The price of oil stopped rising.

Instead, it fell. And fell some more. High prices had encouraged oil companies to explore like never before and producers to open their spigots. Supply gushed onto the market.

In 1985, the price of oil collapsed.

Experts then started worrying about what the chairman of Chevron called the "Velvet Trap" scenario: Cheap oil would increase consumption, wipe out conservation gains, marginalize alternative energy, and halt exploration and development. Then the glut would end and the mother of all oil shocks would hit in the 1990s.

Klare - American Occupation at the Pump: Is $250 a Barrel Oil on Its Way?

It's time to ask whether the U.S. military should have anything to do with American energy security.

...In reality, the use of military force to protect foreign oil supplies is likely to create anything but "security". It can, in fact, trigger violent "blowback" against the United States. For example, the decision by the senior president Bush to maintain an enormous, permanent US military presence in Saudi Arabia following Operation Desert Storm in Kuwait is now widely viewed as a major source of virulent anti-Americanism in the kingdom and became a prime recruiting tool for Osama bin Laden in the months leading up to the September 11, 2001, terror attacks.

Our ‘Cheap Oil Fiesta’ Is Over

It’s the end of the world as we know it, and for a little while, at least, it sounds lovely.

Imagine a world where the air is cleaner because fewer people are driving cars. Where you can hop on a train to visit your friends in the West River Valley or spend a day in Boston, arriving refreshed instead of wiped out from highway driving. Where chemical-drenched agribusiness is dead, and food is grown locally. Where big box stores are gone, and the shops on Main Street sell the things you need. Where small schoolhouses again dot the hills of tight little communities.

This vision harks back to a simpler time, perhaps one directed by Robert Capra and starring Jimmy Stewart. But it may not turn out to have a happy ending.

Norway oil and gas investment to hit record in 2008

Investment in Norway's oil and natural gas industry will rise to a record 132.3 billion kroner ($25 billion) in 2008 as soaring energy prices spur companies to step up exploration and services, the statistics office said.

The 2008 estimate, including spending on pipelines, represents a 20 percent increase from 2007 and is 2.1 billion kroner higher than a forecast published in March, Statistics Norway said on its Web site today. Total investments in oil and gas will drop to 116.9 billion kroner next year, the office said.

British Fuel Tanker Drivers Go on Strike

Fuel tanker drivers for one of Britain's biggest energy firms began a four-day strike June 13 over a pay dispute as the government tried to reassure worried motorists. The walkout, which began at 6:00 am (0500 GMT), will affect Royal Dutch Shell's filling stations: the Anglo-Dutch energy giant owns one in 10 garages across the country.

UK: Nuclear dithering has jeopardised our security

Petrol shortages are threatened by a strike of tanker drivers, oil prices are going through the roof, BP is locked in a fierce investment row with Russia, climate campaigners have halted a train taking coal to a power station and ministers are agonising over what to do with nuclear waste.

These are stories just from today’s newspapers. After three decades when we have not really had to think too seriously about our energy supplies, it is now the most important issue that we face.

Cheney's false comment on oil drilling attacked

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Vice President Dick Cheney's office acknowledged on Thursday that he was mistaken when he asserted that China, at Cuba's behest, is drilling for oil in waters 60 miles from the Florida coast.

In a speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Cheney said on Wednesday that waters in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, long off limits to oil companies, should be opened to drilling because China is already there pumping oil.

Jeremy Leggett: Spoiling the barrel

Opec decided to set its annual production quotas according to size of national reserves in 1983. A few years later Gulf countries started finding that they had underestimated their reserves. They added more than 300 billion barrels to their collective tally: fully a quarter of current supposedly proven global reserves of 1,200 billion barrels. From then on - year after year, country by country - they have tended to report exactly the same figure for proven reserves as they did the year before. They ask us to believe by strange coincidence that they find exactly the same amount of oil each year that they sell to the world market. And BP relays it all in its annual review.

Many in and around the oil industry believe that the 300 billion barrels of Opec reserves additions from the 1980s are - let us put it politely - political oil. Among those who have spoken out about this overstatement is the former head of production at Saudi Aramco, Sadad al-Husseini. Hayward's reliable source for energy data would not pass the first hour in a court of inquiry were people like al-Husseini summoned as witnesses.

FACTBOX: Comments Ahead of Saudi Producer/Consumer Oil Talks

(Reuters) - The world's top oil exporter Saudi Arabia finds the price of fuel unjustifiable and has called a meeting of producers and consumers on June 22 to help find a solution.

The two sides have long blamed each other, but the Saudi cabinet, chaired by King Abdullah, issued instructions to bring them together in Jeddah after oil rose last week by $16 a barrel in just over 24 hours to above $139.

Byron King: The Anti-Dollar

Admittedly, oil might continue to soar while oil stocks languish. But as the chart above illustrates, the divergence between crude oil and oil stocks has already reached a rare extreme. Could this divergence become even more extreme? You betcha. But on the other hand, some sort of regression toward the mean seems like the high-probability bet…at least for those who enjoy betting.

Why is the price of oil so high?

Q: What would it take to convince you that you are wrong about peak oil?

Fisher: You'd have to go into a persistent decline of oil production for a couple of years, like the "peakers" say: 6 to 8 percent a year. If I saw that, I'd stand up and salute.

Oil prices mark the need for alternative energy sources

In a very influential 2005 book, investment banker Matthew R Simmons argues that, far from being capable of increasing its output, Saudi Arabia is about to face the exhaustion of its giant fields and, in the relatively near future, will probably experience a sharp decline in output.

The moment Saudi production goes into permanent decline; the curtain will start closing on the Petroleum Age. Oil will still be plentiful and available, but not in the same abundance and at the same prices.

Retool to overcome resource lack

Let’s think about the world as if it had tipped into a new era.

Imagine that the peak-oil worriers are right and that oil would go to $130 a barrel; imagine that the Malthusian types were right and corn would go to $6.60 a bushel; and, finally, imagine that those skyrocketing resource prices were here to stay. What would that world be like?

"The End of Food": Setting fewer plates at the world's table

With his prescient 2004 book, "The End of Oil," Paul Roberts proved his ability to sift through the complexities of an overwhelming issue and present prognostications that are both comprehensive and comprehensible.

Call him a professional Cassandra if you will, but this time out the Leavenworth author, who also is a regular contributor to Harper's, tackles the troubling future of human food consumption. He starts by touring us through the history of mankind's quest for food, from hunting and gathering, to the advent of agriculture, to the mechanized production lines of today. Roberts pinpoints the flaws of the current situation as "so focused on cost reduction and rising volume that it makes a billion of us fat, [and] lets another billion go hungry."

Earth 2100: Is this century our last?

Are we living in the last century of our civilization? Is it possible that all of our technology, knowledge and wealth cannot save us from ourselves? Could our society actually be heading towards collapse? A dramatic preview of an unprecedented ABC News event called "Earth 2100."

According to many of the world's top scientists, the answer is yes, unless we take action now.

Refinery oil premiums cast doubt on speculators

Refiners are paying record premiums for the high-quality crude oil they use to produce diesel and petrol, a sign of strong demand in the physical oil market that calls into question claims that soaring oil prices are being driven by speculators.

Action against oil speculators could backfire

While consumers and governments struggle with steep oil prices, one of the biggest questions looming over the global economy is this: Will costs ever come down? Unlike the energy crisis of the 1970s, when the world assumed the spike was temporary, high energy prices could be here to stay, according to oil experts.

"The power of the market is far more powerful than the government," said Platts Global Director of Oil John Kingston. "Most people are convinced that this is not going to go away."

A Bull Market Sees the Worst in Speculators

According to Barclays research, about $200 billion in managed assets was invested in commodities at the end of 2007 — up from barely measurable levels just seven years ago. Latest estimates suggest that figure rose to $230 billion in the first four months of this year, but at least half of that growth came from rising commodity prices, not new money flowing in, Mr. Horsnell said.

He said that this entire investment stake is dwarfed by the amount of money invested in, say, ExxonMobil. But the commodity markets are much smaller than the equities markets, and this flood of new capital is a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence.

“Speculators have seized control of these markets,” Senator Levin said.

Lawmakers know that markets need speculators, the senator said, but are using “speculation” simply as shorthand for their real target of concern, which is “excessive speculation.”

OPEC cuts oil demand forecast, sees ample supply

LONDON (Reuters) - OPEC on Friday cut its forecast for global oil demand growth in 2008 for the third time this year, the latest sign that record-high oil prices are slowing consumption.

The exporter group also said that it is pumping more than forecast demand for its oil, and that the current production rate combined with extra supply from Saudi Arabia should lead to rising inventories in the third quarter.

Asian steel stokes coal boom

Supply problems have plagued not only coking coal - a metallurgical coal used to make steel - but also thermal coal, or "steam coal," used to produce electricity.

"That is what is triggering the very high prices," said Patricia Mohr, vice-president and commodity market specialist at Bank of Nova Scotia.

Which way out of rising gasoline costs?

The sticker shock has Washington buzzing about possible government solutions. Some officials want to drill for more domestic oil and build refineries. Others want to regulate the oil industry and financial markets. Everyone wants to develop alternate fuels — but which ones?

USA TODAY asked more than two dozen energy specialists what could cut the price of gas. The consensus: A mix of measures could boost supply and cut demand over several decades. But with oil closing near $137 a barrel Thursday, don't look for lower prices anytime soon.

Exxon to exit U.S. retail gas business

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Exxon Mobil Corp said on Thursday it is getting out of the retail gas business in the United States as sky-high crude oil prices squeeze margins.

UK: Marks & Spencer boss says oil price is hitting out-of-town retail

Sir Stuart Rose, the executive chairman of Marks & Spencer, has said that high petrol prices are deterring customers from driving to out-of-town retail parks, in the latest example of how the consumer economy is being affected by rising commodity prices.

UK: Oil prices force Treasury inflation re-think

The Treasury is privately putting a knife to its widely-derided economic growth forecasts and conservative inflation projections, as it warns that oil prices are set to remain high and volatile for many more years to come.

Senior officials have indicated that the Treasury is informally mulling sharp changes to its inflation forecast for this year, which was based on an oil price of just below $100 a barrel.

Oil pushes world towards recession

It has long seemed to me that the only thing likely to bring the oil price back to earth is a global recession, and that is exactly what very high oil prices seem destined to bring about.

Rising oil prices are on a slippery slope to disaster

The pow-wow in Jedda on Sunday between oil-producing and consuming nations will not produce cheap diesel but Mr Brown knows he must be seen to do something - the oil price has almost tripled in two years and expensive fuel is hurting every business, from airlines to chemical manufacturing. The soaring cost of moving goods about the world threatens to unravel a complex web of trade and manufacturing. It is not just about importing refrigerators from China or football boots from Vietnam. It is also about the price of food. Farming is energy intensive - diesel is needed for tractors, fertilisers are made of by-products of oil and gas, and grain is shipped thousands of miles across the ocean.

Brown says world needs 1,000 extra nuclear power stations

Gordon Brown has signalled he wants Britain to play a major role in the race to build an extra 1,000 nuclear power stations across the world as part of his vision for ending the global "addiction to oil". The Prime Minister, who will be flying to Saudia Arabia for an emergency oil summit next week, said in spite of the risks of terrorism, Africa could build nuclear power plants to meet growing demands for energy.

Curb cars and sprawl under next US leader, experts urge

The next US president must improve America's car-dominated cities by levying London-style congestion charges and cracking down on sprawl, British researchers said yesterday.

Barack Obama or John McCain must end eight years of "laissez faire" urban policy under the Bush administration and take on America's car-loving public, employing vehicle charging in places such as New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, says a joint report by the UK's Centre for Cities think-tank and the US Brookings Institution.

Climate change protesters hijack coal train

Climate change campaigners hijacked a train carrying coal to Britain's biggest power station at 8am this morning, swarming on to the roof of its 20 huge trucks.

The 40 protesters stopped the regular delivery service to Drax in Yorkshire disguised as railway workers in yellow warning jackets and waving red flags, having read up on standard railway safety rules.

G8 finance chiefs wrestle with oil, food crises

OSAKA (AFP) - Finance ministers from the world's leading industrialised powers discussed Friday the economic threat from soaring food and oil prices while backing new technology to battle global warming.

Ministers from the Group of Eight (G8) club began talks expected to focus mainly on how to limit the damage sparked by a doubling of food costs in three years and a series of record oil price highs.

Freshwater runoff from the Greenland Ice Sheet will more than double by the end of the century

The Greenland Ice Sheet is melting faster than previously calculated according to a scientific paper by University of Alaska Fairbanks researcher Sebastian H. Mernild published recently in the journal “Hydrological Processes.”

... Mernild and his team found that the total amount of Greenland Ice Sheet freshwater input into the North Atlantic Ocean expected from 2071 to 2100 will be more than double what is currently observed. The current East Greenland Ice Sheet freshwater flux is 257 km3 per year from both runoff and iceberg calving. This freshwater flux is estimated to reach 456 km3 by 2100.

US urges support for global warming fund

OSAKA, Japan - U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson urged other Group of Eight industrialized nations Friday to back a special fund of up to $10 billion to help developing countries fight global warming.

Alaska village threatened by warming gets funding

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - One of Alaska's most eroded villages is getting more than $3 million in state aid to help it relocate to higher ground as Alaska tries to cope with the effects of global warming.

More disease outbreaks in Europe with climate change: experts

STOCKHOLM (AFP) - Europe could face an increase in outbreaks of diseases carried by insects and rodents as the climate on the continent becomes hotter and wetter, EU health experts said.

"These diseases are closely linked to climate change ... We need to address this risk," Renaud Lancelot of the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD) told reporters in Stockholm Thursday.

Head for the Hills! Creatures Run from Global Warming

Global warming is forcing 30 species of reptiles and amphibians to move uphill as habitats shift upward, but they may soon run out of room to run.

One more summer of driving fun?

Since the week ending 5/9, Gulf Coast crude inventories have dropped at the rate of about 750,000 bpd, down a total of about 22.5 mb. We are not quite to the all time low we have seen in the Gulf Coast in the early summer, but we are very close, and the trend is not our friend in this case.

I believe that we are primarily seeing a manifestation of what the most recent EIA data show--an annualized decline rate of -32%/year in the combined net oil exports from Venezuela and Mexico to the US.

Bush will face an acute dilemma. With the general election coming, he will be under tremendous pressure to release oil from the SPR. If we were not facing a long term structural problem with net oil exports, releasing oil from the SPR might actually make sense. However, I think that we are looking at a long term, and accelerating, decline in net oil exports. So, the probable upcoming release of oil from the SPR will be used to provide us with one more "Summer of Driving Fun," using oil from emergency reserves.

The total import picture seems murky to me. What's the total net import loss going to be for the year? What about gas and diesel imports - how are they changing in relation to crude oil imports?

"...And she'll have fun, fun, fun til her daddy takes the T-bird away."

I'm not sure how long it will take to get enough new heavy-oil capable refineries online, but when that happens, there should be some narrowing of the price spread between light & heavy oil. That might cause pump prices to moderate a bit. If that coincides with the release from the SPR, it might look like Bush actually accomplished something.

We call that "Indian Summer" in the Northeast (i.e. a last warm spell before winter sets in).

The mass exodus has begun.

20,000 from my little town alone.

This is finals week and every day the roads get more and more packed with travelers, students going home, families starting vacations.

I ask folks where they are headed as they pass through my shop and have heard many cross-country trips planned.

I counted 16 uhauls in my 1/2 mile bikeride to work this morn.

Over the last week many locals talked about how they are "touring" the good ol USA by car this year instead of flying anywhere.

IMHO the super-straw suck down of gas has only just begun.

Pop quiz. You have a family of four, and a windfall $1800 check from the federal government suddenly appears in your mailbox.

What will you do? What will you do?

A. Get in the car and drive to Wal-Mart to buy a new rider mower.
B. Get in the car and drive somewhere for a family vacation
C. Pay off some credit card debt.
D. Pay your April mortgage bill.

ya ever heard of saving?
or investing in alternatives?-)

what do I do?

Likely at that point you would be like Germany and need to burn them for heat ;-)

Your quiz seems to assume I have no money in the bank. If I have a modest $5000 to $10,000 in savings, it doesn't seem likely that the economic stimulus check would change much of anything. If you have some savings and needed a new mower, or wanted to take a vacation, or had to pay the mortgage, you would do it without waiting for a check in the mail.

Basically, savings implies that you don't have any major unfulfilled needs that would lead you to immediately spend your new windfall. Unless you are the type of person that feels they have to spend every new dollar they get, but if you were that type you wouldn't have $5000 in the bank.

I know what some will say: "The average American consumer is in hock up to their eyeballs, living paycheck to paycheck, taking out loans on the equity they have in their houses". There are certainly plenty of those people. But I think there is a huge chunk of the populace that is not yet in dire financial shape at all. Really, how many of the people you actually know are having trouble paying their monthly bills? I daresay well less than half of them when you think about it. Oil prices are causing pain, but for most people it is not yet critical.

Up to 70% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck.

Really, how many of the people you actually know are having trouble paying their monthly bills?

I don't know. It's not the kind of thing you tell people, even family, unless you are in dire straits indeed.

I know some people who admit they waiting for their stimulus rebate because they desperately need it, but most don't talk about it. It's just not the kind of thing you talk about.

Let's remember that it only took 30% unemployment in the Great Depression to shake the foundations of the US, to bring fascists to ppower in Germany and Japan, to make millions worship Stalin as the only hope. Every time one man goes under, he takes his family with him, and he tugs on many others who sell him things.

Just a minor point, the great depression didn't have much impact on the Soviet Union, and Japan was able to recover quite quickly in the early 30s because of its invasions and subsequent "access" to raw materials.

Hmm, scratch the Japan comment, I just realized my comment pretty much supported what you were saying. :)

Wasn't there massive starvation in the Volga region in the 30's?

Perhaps, but it didn't have anything to do with the Great Depression.


In the twenties there was mass starvation due to the Russian Civil War and collectivisation of the peasantry. This occured in the twenties.

Dr. Zhivago is a good starting point (the film - not the book. The book is dreary, and Lean's film has probably the most beautiful woman that ever existed on planet earth as Lara)

Killing and eating children was a reasonable method of getting by in the years 1921 - 1924.

By the 30's, things had settled down to production targets, harvests, tractor outputs, Eisentsein, Prokohviev, Shostakovitch, Officer culls etc.

Sorry about that. What I meant is that Stalin became more popular among millions in the capitalist states because the USSR was not a part of the Depression and its propaganda convinced many that things were going well there.

The World Series of Poker has a record turn-out this year. No sign whatsoever of high gas prices or a recession in the poker world.

Go Moe...hope to see you at the final table!

Thanks Peak. Came close at the $5k event. Bluff ran into trip jacks.

If you go check out the final tables (ESPN) after July 7th, I'll be one of the Camera Operators there. Ask for Bob at one of the breaks (They also call me 'Genius'.. the way they call bald guys 'curly') and say hello! So far, I've only ever met one TODer face to face.

Poker might be paying for my Solar Hot water Install this summer. Is that Ironic, Convenient, Hypocritical or Smart?

Bob Fiske

I think refineries can't afford as much oil in storage with oil prices this high. They just can't afford to tie up that much cash flow. So, I think inventories are going to stay near that bottom boundary of the five year average, and prices have been stabilized over the past couple of weeks by using up inventory.

But 95% of the decline in US crude oil inventories in the past 30 days has occurred on the Gulf Coast.

The Gulf Coast thing made sense in terms of the strike against Exxon in Nigeria, but we should be past that now. I know about the VenMex declines, but you'd think refinery purchasing agents would too and would have ordered up the Mideast stuff months ago.

I suppose this could be the result of Chavez cutting off sales to Exxon, but in that case, the much vaunted "Oil is a fungible commodity" claim is looking pretty darn lame.

How do you see oil supply, demand and price over the next 12 months?
I was guessing that demand could take a hit with recession and oil prices go soft over this short term.

So you think it's not a deliberate shrinking of inventory? You think they just can't get inventory?

You could be right. The next few weeks should clarify things. China has been buying more diesel and gasoline. That ought to mean fewer imports to the U.S., which ought to take down our product inventories. That's when we find out for sure (through the price) what everyone's thinking.

The Persian Gulf has at least partially offset the decline in exports from VenMex, but VenMex decline is probably accelerating, especially from Mexico, and I think that it has been tough for Gulf Coast refiners to find replacement cargoes, especially because of the greater distances involved in getting oil from alternative sources. Also, we have to bid the price up enough to take oil away from its traditional destinations.

i havent seen anything on here, but rueters said that the mms said that bp said that thunderhorse was ready to start production(saturday).


Read that story carefully. They are saying "early production" will start.

BP itself merely repeated that they expect production to begin before the end of 2008. Peak production, whenever it gets reached, will be 250,000 barrels per day.

There's been a tremendous blitz of stories in the msm about new production coming online, new promises of production, new projections of falling demand, new meetings, etc. It's been going on all week, and it's a deliberate propaganda response to the sharp rise in prices last Friday.

Essentially, they're trying to keep speculators and investors out of the oil market to keep prices as stable as possible in the face of huge inventory draws.

But big talk virtually always is a bluff.

If what they were saying was true, they wouldn't need to do so much frantic propaganda. We would see increases in inventory, and the price would fall. They are doing everything they possibly can to keep the market in doubt.

That is a tell, elwoodelmore.

"it's a deliberate propaganda response"

i took it that bp simply informed the mms that they were planning to start "early" production on saturday as required by terms of the lease. i dont see that as a propaganda play, maybe it is. presumably, thunderhorse will start sometime.

I tend to think that the decline on the Gulf Coast is related to running down inventories in the hope that prices will moderate going forward. Considering that some 50% of US commercial crude stocks are held there, it's the obvious starting point for an inventory-shedding scenario.

My guess would be that if Gulf Coast inventories decline to 138-140 million barrels then there would be a warning sign beginning to flash, and that we would see the following knock-ons: reduction of refinery runs leading to refined product inventory declines. and a reduction in flows from the Gulf Coast into the Mid-West, leading to crude inventory declines there.

Personally, I think there's a monster game of chicken being played out here, which is going to unravel very spectacularly if a hurricane pops up in the Gulf of Mexico.

Yes, but the Gulf Coast, with 50% of crude oil stocks has seen 95% of the crude inventory decline.

I am connecting four dots:

(1) Venezuela has shown a long term net export decline, while Mexico is on the express train to zero--as in nada, none, zero net oil exports from our third biggest source of imported oil;

(2) In 10/07, VenMex accounted for 20% of US total petroleum imports;

(3) The most recent VenMex data show an annualized decline rate of -32%/year in net exports to the US (falling by half every 2.2 years at that rate);

(4) US Gulf Coast crude oil inventories, in the past 30 days, are falling at the rate of 750,000 bpd.

Louisiana sweet's just under $140. But they're still losing to Tapis.

This makes me think that we are about to finally tap the Ghawar-sized field sitting under Detroit. I don't know why we had to be dragged kicking and screaming, but we seem to like it that way. Downthread, I put up some numbers for per capita demand. If we lowered to level of Sweden or Japan, it would approximately equal the flow of Ghawar.

I apologize for being dense and not being able to read between the lines and figure out what you mean, but what are you referring to when you say "Ghawar-sized field sitting under Detroit?"

I mean doubling the mpg of the cars we make.

I'm not sure if it's your coinage or something that's travelled around PO blogs (if so, however, I'm surprised I missed it): but another Ghawar sitting under Detroit is a powerful phrase. It should be part of our public discourse, indeed of the presidential campaign.

Perhaps from a US perspective, "another Texas sitting under Detroit" might be even better yet? [with the snarky comment "Yes, and let it stay there"]

Back in the '80's they closed a salt mine under Detroit and were converting it to hazardeous waste storage. Before they did that, I got to take a tour of the salt mine. It was facinating. Huge tunnels, salt walls covered with soot from the vehicles they took down piece by piece and assembled down there.

Wouldn't that just be bizarre if the salt mine was in a salt dome and there really was oil underneath?

There is a bit of oil in Michigan. IIRC mostly in a South West to Northeast trend with the "Northeast" part North of Detroit.

Another Ghawar sitting under Detroit
Now how many Americans do you think have a clue what that means? I'd venture it is under 1%! And then you'd have to go into a long explanation, that greater efficiency/conservation is similar to finding oil. I don't think you can do that in a thirty second sound bite. And the "wish upon a star" generation probably won't get the concept about depletion of nonrenewable resources. If we do get a big improvement in milage, it will because people will be desperate because they can't afford fuel. And those that don't get it, will be victims of Darwinian evolution.

It's been said that Conservation is the biggest oil field we will ever find in the future. But, if a country is nearly 70% dependent on imported oil and 20% of that has gone to a 32% decline rate - well, just do the math for the other 80% of imports declining at the global average of say around 3%, and you get a decline rate of available oil at about 6%. That means we have to change our way of life at the rate of 6% per year just to keep up with the declining net exports, which is accelerating. With our elected voices still dealing with the problem by holding speculation hearings and taxing the problem away, we're a long way from getting ahead of the curve.

This seems weird as just last week I "thought" that I had read that year-to-date export declines from Mexico were running around -17% which is about half what you currently site. And of course, part of the stuff... 300,000 bpd... from Venezuela is headed to China where they need the oil to continue to make crap for us to buy.


The 2007 EIA net export data showed large annual net export declines for Venezuela, 7%/year range, and for Mexico, 16%/year range.

The EIA tracks oil imports by country origin to the US on a monthly basis, but of course we don't know total net oil exports to all consumers on a monthly basis. In any case, from 10/07 to 3/08 (last month available), combined petroleum exports from Venezuela and Mexico to the US dropped by 414,000 bpd, an annualized rate of -32%/year.

My premise is that this is causing Gulf Coast refiners to scramble like crazy to find replacement cargoes from exporters much farther away than VenMex, at a time when overall net oil exports are declining, with Europe facing their own Problems with Proximal Petroleum Producers--Norway & Russia.

a few hundred barrels per day would make a difference, assuming that it won't get sucked up by depletion. You can explain most of the oil picture by looking at the 20 top countries sorted by change in 2007.

Source: BP for 2006-7, IEA for 2008, Orange=no data, used 2007 production, Green = increasing, Pink = decreasing
Azerbaijan should increase to from 868k to 1.3m per day by 2009 once the ACG ramps up and the BTC pipeline is running at full capacity.

I tend to think that the decline on the Gulf Coast is related to running down inventories in the hope that prices will moderate going forward.

But continually decreasing inventories tend to drive the price up further. I really can't see the logic in such a deliberate "game of chicken".

Even in this bizarre media world it's hard to imagine the headline "Oil price plummets on news US crude stocks collapsing."

The flip side of coasting on inventories is that it reduces demand pressures in the market and, hopefully, moderates the price down the line. I'm not saying that it's going to be successful, but the alternative is to "panic" buy crude in the markets, thereby driving the price up further - and I suspect that US refiners are a tad cannier than that; and, crucially, they have much greater visibility regarding their forward crude supplies than we do, and they're more than capable of juggling inventory in such a way as to minimise their input costs as much as possible in the hope that time will work in their favour, as current price levels work to kill off demand elsewhere.

It's worth noting that whilst the crude inventory has declined, refined product stocks are either holding steady ( ie gasoline, jet fuel ) or building ( distillates, propane ), so the situation remains ambiguous.

Is that really ambiguous? Surely it's exactly what would be expected unless either stocks get so low that MOL is breached or refiners intentionally decide to under supply end product.

Well, considering that the US is nowhere near its MOL for crude, and that end product stocks are currently adequate, there's quite a lot of room for the ambiguity of the situation - ie net export hurricane hitting the Gulf Coast vs canny inventory management in an uncomfortable price environment - to play out. The "X" factor is the seasonal hurricane supply disruption risk.

Given the price environment that we're currently in, I would expect refiners to be buying as little crude as they can possibly get away with.

Assuming 270 mb for the US, we have about two days of crude oil supply in excess of MOL nationwide.

Regarding the Gulf Coast, as we previously discussed, it depends on how we want to guess at the MOL. We can say that are only about five million barrels above the lowest summertime inventory we have seen in recent years--or less than one day's supply above recent summertime inventory lows.

do refiners delay shipments to delay settlement into q3 ? independent refiner's bottom line is hurting somewhat, this might make the q2 numbers look a little better.

. . . so the situation remains ambiguous.

Of course, refiners have been keeping their refinery utilization up by drawing down their crude oil inventories, which they can continue to do until they hit their summertime MOL, in much the same way that you can drive your car at 80 mph--until you run out of gas.

My best guess is that, in extremis, they can probably sustain this crude draw for a good 7-8 weeks ( taking crude inventories down to 265-270 ) and could then coast on product inventories with reduced runs for a further 4+ weeks if they had to. It would mean an extremely low inventory level heading into winter, but if the price of crude is down to 95-105 by September, then that's an acceptable outcome.

Not a comfy prospect to be sure, and it only takes one hurricane to wreck everything.

These guys tend to vote Republican. And if they can moderate prices just before the election, they figure they are doing their part. We've seen it before. This time I think the headwind is so severe that the gesture will be futile.

But continually decreasing inventories tend to drive the price up further. I really can't see the logic in such a deliberate "game of chicken".
But from the standpoint of an individual refiner, who thinks he is too small to effect the overall market, it might make sense. This presuposes he thinks there is at least a fifty percent chance of price moderation.

USA has been exporting diesel of late particularly to South America.

Q1 2006 133 k b/d

Q2 2007 203k b/d

Q3 2008 365k b/d

So as priuces in the USA rise so do the exports of distillate no doubt due to higher demand abroad and the cheaper dollar.

At the oil prices hearing the other day, one the the panelist, Mrs Jaffe I think, was suggesting a release from the SPR. For a different reason however, which was to effect the price of oil. I suppose Bush could use this reason if it becomes necessary because of the Gulf situation to hide the fact of low inventories.

I know that I am taking a vacation that is far away this summer (6 1/2 hour drive) because I know that travel expenses will only increase into the foreseeable future.

The Cavalry is Riding to the Rescue ...

at a slow walk

Brazil's Tupi Production at 500,000 barrels/day in 2020

Brazil's state-run oil company Petrobras plans to have its giant Tupi oil field fully operational by 2015, with output of at least 500,000 barrels per day by 2020, a top company official said.

Long-term production tests have begun at two Tupi wells and a third one will start in the coming months, Petrobras' exploration and production director, Guilherme Estrella, said late on Wednesday.

Petrobras intends to drill eight more wells from 2010 on. Five of them will be producing wells.

"Our estimate is that these 11 wells will cost around $1 billion ... The third well has an estimated cost of $100 million and the other ones of $60-$80 million," Estrella said on the sidelines of a seminar.


Tupi is the Brazilian field that created such a stir about a year ago. Two other fields have been found since then, of as yet unknown size. But after 2020 (Tupi will be first, Petrobras has a $240 billion capital budget).

Not much hope of a production spike,


With the World relying on smaller and smaller fields, will there be enough drilling rigs per field available to to develop Tupi?

Will the credit crunch reach Brazil?

Are there people being paid to consider these things?

I'm sure there'll be considerable furor in the US soon to lease every rig in the world - with predictable dismal results.

Brazil lost the largest rig in the world in 2001. That article even has a Petrobras Hall of Shame:

1984: 34 people killed in oil platform explosion and fire
35 oil workers killed since 1998 at Petrobras facilities, say unions
Jan 2000: One million litres of oil from tanker polluted Rio de Janeiro's picture-postcard Guanabara Bay. Fined $28m
July 2000: 4 million litres of crude oil spilled from a broken pipeline into the Iguacu river in southern Brazil. Fined $110m

500,000 bpd by 2020? This is a pittance compared to the shortfall we'll have by then.

I am also stunned by these cost numbers... I'm sure they are all justified, but can anyone explain how poking 11 holes in the sea floor could cost as much as a small nuke?

I understood that they first have to develop equipment that can withstand the depth and temperatures of drilling there. I might be wrong, though.

I recently read in TOD that a deepwater drilling platform leases for $500K per day.

rig rates are shown here:

LevinK - The holes are not poked in the "sea." They start on the ocean floor with 32 degree temps 10,000 feet below the surface. They then proceed to drill another 4 miles down, where the earth's temp is 500 degrees, high enough to melt ordinary steel. On their way down, they go through one or two miles of salt (the salt dome that keeps the oil from migrating. Drilling through salt is difficult. Essentially it takes a rig that costs about $1 billion to do such difficult drilling. It is as challenging as NASA putting a man into space.

Thanks, interesting information illustrating the problems associated with deep-water drilling. I wonder if they are building more drilling rigs to alleviate the rigs bottleneck, and if they do, how much this will help in the longer term.

(just for the record I didn't say poke holes in the "sea" but in the "sea floor")

Plus that "straw" is just 3 inches in diameter (possibly 4" max). Going forward it going to take a lot of those narrow little straws to keep up, regardless of the size of the fields.

It's really quite a mind blower, to ponder one of those humongous rigs and realize that the piping represents one of the smallest components in the whole game.

"just 3 inches in diameter (possibly 4" max). "

i think you are talking about drill pipe here. typically 7" o.d. production casing is used offshore. still kind of slim but this is more like rocket surgery than anything gwb can imagine.

elwoodelmore, just to add to your comment. 7 inch onshore is strongly preferred even for relatively shallow wells if the plan is either immediately or somewhere down the road to use REDAs [submersibles] to produce "oil stained brine" from reservoirs with massive water drives.

"just 3 inches in diameter (possibly 4" max). " Small diameter casing ... depending on just how cheap the intital operator was, sometimes production tubing passing as casing ... can become a real mess in the altogether too common occurence of a casing collapse. To the tune of Martha and the Vandellas "Nowhere to run to, nowhere to hide."

i once worked a '60's developed field where they used 2 7/8" 'tubinless'* completions, sometimes up to 5 such completions in a single well. and yes, this was a nighmare, no realistic way to use artificial lift. gas lift was somewhat successful. perforating a new zone required an orientation of the gun, away from any other of the 2 7/8" (casings).

i believe the (dutch) gronegan gas field was developed using this "technology". this is a classic example of what was considered at the time to be "better, cheaper, faster". there was a glut of oil in the '60's.

* tubingless in name only. tubingful or casingless would be more accurate.

i dont disagree that 7" casing is preferable for an submersible completion. my experience is that more commonly 5 1/2" or 4 1/2" casing is used. better,cheaper,faster ?

Not exactly the type of thing you can scale up in a "crash program"

It is as challenging as NASA putting a man into space.

I keep running into those comparisons - apt, since NASA's budget is something ca. 17 billion. Thus the calls for us to do a hydrocarbon Apollo Project.

"Before this decade is out, I...will...drink...your...milkshake!"

Back in the mid 1990's the head of the Canada Oil and Gas Lands Authority (COGLA is the Canadian offshore regulatory body) gave a speech at which he stated that offshore oil exploration and development is more complex that a NASA moon shot as there are more types of engineering involved in offshore activity than there are in space. Always nice to meet a Govt dude who knows his stuff!

No icebergs in space, no 70 footers, no 100 knot fog, no lost container ships coming inside your buoy pattern, you don't have to worry if the explosive links in your anchor chain will sever when they are supposed to and not before, you don't have to support a small village on a steel island that may be completely cut off from the rest of the world in heavy weather, the atmosphere is unlikely to blow up, or gas release poison you, not to mention the problems associated with keeping everything the right side up.

A space shot is easy. Real men go offshore.

Wake up at the back!

500 degrees of C or F Doesnt melt steel of any kind.

Oil doesnt exist as oil at 500 degrees

Drilling through salt is easy.

And as for the rest of the stuff about Tupi /geology / drilling salt etc. Above and below this link, Not worth commenting on.

point 1.

The technology to drill more or less exists.

point 2.

Tupi will not make any difference to millions of barrels per day required.

point 3.

Good rigs and people cost money

Surely you suspected as much, Alan.

This is a large part of the peak oil problem in a nutshell. The timing of new production is too late, and the volumes are too little.

At least Petrobras is being aggressive. That separates them from OPEC, who have adopted a go-slow investment policy. Ironically, Brazil wants to join OPEC.

-- Dave

Well, Brazil has to become an exporter before it can join the club. Thus the drilling ;)

Thank goodness, because something has to halt the rape of the biosphere via human overpopulation. The more fossil fuels humans manage to produce, the BIGGER the problem of suffering for future humans. Every food riot and crashing corporate sales figure means at least the possibility of less suffering in the future. Take bitter medicine now and have a small chance of adapting to low-energy diet of the future, or instead choose to view increases in productions as "good" - despite the fact that it only advances us one more step towards the cliff of brutal dieoff.

I want to tell you and everybody else that reads The Oil Drum some news.

Building the happy, carbon-free energy world of tomorrow will require lots of oil.

Now, go off and eat some vegetables and take your medications.

-- Dave

OH ?

In twenty years (1897-1916) a MUCH smaller and poorer United States of America, with primitive technology and access to limited oil (other than for lighting and lubrication) only at the end of this period, managed to build subways in all of the larger cities and streetcars in 500 cities and towns and a good inter-urban system.

Find the oil

Best Hopes for Mature Technology,


[Edited by Leanan to remove humongous photo. Please quit posting images that large in the DrumBeat. It's downright rude.]

"Best Hopes for Mature Technology,"

I just bought a push mower does that count?

The trick is to convince others that it's so fun that they should try it. wink wink.

Hand me that pry bar, that track laying looks fun!


Is the photo source, in case it gets deleted. Without the photo, the post loses a *LOT* of punch.

Best Hopes for Hydraulic Jacks and Presses #,


# "New" technology that has largely replaced pry bars. Most rail is pre-bent in the shop with hydraulic presses, but I remember seeing where an engineer planned the track going into the barn. Use of cutouts showed it would clip almost an inch off a pillar. Experienced track crew thought it over, discussed the options and brought out almost a dozen 500 ton hydraulic jacks. Rebent the track in an afternoon and showed over an inch clearance.

PPS: I do not know of any method of shrinking photos with Firefox and Mac (none discussed months ago seem to work). I checked and the photo is 142k and loads in about two seconds when I previewed it on my dial-up.

do not know of any method of shrinking photos with Firefox

You can't. Resizing images via browser is lame, anyway. You're still forcing people to download a huge photo, but it displays at a tiny size. The worst of both worlds, if you will. Diet food that tastes terrible but has just as many calories as regular.

I checked and the photo is 142k and loads in about two seconds when I previewed it on my dial-up.

It takes longer than two seconds. More like 30 secs to a minute, depending how good your dialup connection is. You already had the photo cached in your browser, probably. You were looking at it on your own hard drive.

You can use http://imageshack.us and either use it to resize (it's an upload option) or use one of its thumbnail links. Here's your image resized using imageshack and reduced to 17k which hopefully is acceptable here.

Click image above to see fullsize

Thanks !

I will bookmark it :-)


OT..Alan. Is anyone in your neck of the woods preparing to mitigate the possible effects of the Mississippi jumping over into the Atchafalaya? Lots of water coming your way.

Not a worry, we will just generate 280 MW by diverting 30% of the Mississippi into the Atchafalaya. Extracting the energy reduces the scouring action.

The old 1920s/1930s Corps of engineers solved that problem quite well.

This spring, for the first time in ten years, we partially opened the Bonne Carre spillway (40% of over 2 miles) to let excess spring melt water "short circuit" into Lake Pontchartrain.

I doubt that they will reopen it. The volumes of water from other watersheds are way below spring floods (Ohio, Red River, Tennessee, Upper Missouri, Yazoo) so all it will do here is raise water levels a foot or two.

We have been diverting so much sediment in that 30% of the Mississippi River for so long, 2/3rds of a century, so that the Atchafalaya Basin has been raised and the natural path is again by New Orleans.

Best Hopes for Iowa !


DM&E is laying the new heavy (120# I think) 1/4 mile long rail sections in front of my farm house. They hauled in the rail last fall and dumped it along side of the existing rail and just dug trenches at the crossings and dropped the new rail in the trenches so people could still drive across the crossings.
This rail looks like someone dropped some very wet limp spagetti. They are going to start installing the rail the week of the 23rd of June from what I have heard. They are going to have to pick up those 1/4 mile long sections of track and set them in place and straighten out all the bends at the time they set the rail in place. Also, rail has to be heated to 105 degrees at the time they install it to compensate for temperature changes after installation. Should be interesting to watch.

Are they replacing double track with single track ? Concrete ties ?



I do not know of any method of shrinking photos with Firefox and Mac

Your best bet is to take the original image, save it to your desktop, then resample it in either iPhoto or Preview to be, say 640 x 480, then upload it to a web page (or Flickr or similar).

As Leanan says, browser resizing doesn't change the file size (at one time, part of my work's internet site had some nice thumbnails to make the site look nicer. Except that one of them, 1.5" by 1", was based on a full-screen image re-sized in the browser, so it was a massive, for dial-up, 500kb, rather than a more sensible 10-15kb.


The thing is, though, we are going to have to make big investments - not just in EOT, but also in renewables. This is going to mean that a piece of the GDP pie that was going to other things is now going to have to go to these instead. That is difficult enough - add to that a possible shrinkage of that pie year-on-year, and it becomes a hugely difficult challenge. I'm not sure that our political and economic system is really capable of making those types of reallocation decisions. Somehow, we're going to have to get a whole lot better at it than we have been up to now.


What is different about the situation in 1912 compared to 2008?

Perhaps those tracks in 1912 were being put together at a time when American civilization hadn't developed a little dependence on oil for a substantial part of day-to-day functioning? Just maybe this difference is significant?

Let's hope that the rail will be there when needed...


Wolf in YVR BC

allot of the rail in those photo's has been torn up for scrap steel as the rail roads were replaced with semi's.
due to the fact that there are several companies who's entire bussnius model is pulling up abandoned rail lines and recycling them into other things like fence posts, the total amount of us rail shrinks every day.

Shell drivers plan second fuel strike

A second wave of fuel strikes by Shell petrol tanker drivers has been planned for next week, guardian.co.uk can reveal.

Ron Webb, a chief negotiator for the Unite union, said there would be "more industrial action" next week unless the pay dispute is settled.

Four days – from Friday to Monday - have been ring-fenced for a second round of strikes, he said. "That's going ahead. There'll be no resolution of this dispute until we reach a pay settlement."

Petrol: Army on stand-by to drive tankers amid fears other protesters could join fuel strike

The Army is being put on stand-by to intervene in the petrol tankers' driver strike amid fears it could snowball beyond a trucker dispute into a widespread protest.

Troops are being poised to take to the wheel of tankers if ambulances, fire engines and police cars begin to run out of fuel.

Emergency powers could also allow police, already on guard at the picket lines, to surround depots in order to protect essential supplies.

...Tanker drivers from other companies have already been showing their solidarity with the Shell workers after they walked out in a pay dispute at 6am this morning.

Many were seen turning away from refineries today because they did not want to cross the picket line.

BBC also just reported that at many huge refineries (including Grangemouth) practically no drivers from competing companies have crossed picket lines

Happy Friday the 13th!

Actually that NY Times piece (A Bull Market Sees the Worst in Speculators) is well balanced on the S+D Vs. Speculation debate:

Mr. Verleger said he strongly disagrees with the view that these new speculators are pushing up the price of oil and other commodities. “In fact, they have at a minimum reduced price volatility and quite possibly contributed to a lower price level than would have been obtained had they been barred from the commodity markets,” he said.

Paul Horsnell, a managing director and head of commodity research at Barclays Capital in London, said he believes that Washington’s hostility reflects, in part, a misunderstanding of the strategy used by many of the new investors.

I thought it was pretty good, too. I almost didn't post it (not another story about speculators!) but it was so good I decided I had to post it.

Obviously, I don't believe the spike in oil prices is caused only by speculators. But I think there may be something to the idea of institutional investors greatly magnifying the spike.

So, you're saying my investments are eating into my savings? ^..^

That is worthy of a Yogi (Berra) award.

If you look at the market structure, it has clearly adjusted to the institutional investors. While the number of these permanent longs has grown, other market participants have gotten increasingly short. That's why, at recent short-term lows, the market has been going into contango.

It's strange how rarely the unprecedented uptick in prices (oil was sold at $49 in January 2007) is discussed within the financial community. There appears to be very little extrapolation going on among investors. In the next couple years, if current trends continue, "we will be looking out over the smoldering ruins of the world's economy".

I suppose that if the financial media accurately and blatantly acknowledged the implications of peak oil, the market would be history. Much better to ignore the problem as long as possible, keeping the market propped up so as to make as much money as possible before the whole thing goes kaput. Of course, this behavior is going to make the dieoff that much more horrific.

Jared Diamond discusses why a society fails to even try to solve a problem it has perceived. One reason is that the maintenance of the problem is good for some people.

Such failures frequently arise because of what economists term "rational behavior" arising from clashes of interest between people. Some people may reason correctly that they can advance their own interests by behavior that is harmful for other people. Economists term such behavior "rational," even while acknowledging that morally it may be naughty...

A typical example of rational bad behavior is "good for me, bad for you and for the rest of society" — to put it bluntly, "selfishness." A few individuals may correctly perceive their self-interests to be opposed to the majority's self-interest.

You mean what's good for General Motors ISN'T good for America? Gosh.

The US airline industry is in crisis:

BTC says airline industry is in crisis, heading for catastrophe
BTC issued a report this morning predicting that the top 10 U.S. airlines will post pre-tax losses of $17.6 billion in 2008 and 2009, $18.3 billion if you exclude anticipated profits of $708 million for Southwest Airlines.

The result will be financial ruination for some airlines, BTC says, citing work down by consultants AirlneForecasts:

Based on analysis by AirlineForecasts, most airlines will be in violation of minimum fixed charge coverage ratios or/and minimum cash balances with lenders by the end of this year, given $130 plus oil. This situation would drive multiple carriers into bankruptcy.


Yet today airline stocks rise on the oil pull back to around $134.00. One can only believe that some invisible hand continues to keep the party going as long as possible. Airlines under the current model are dead, period, unless oil drops below $100.00 before 3rd/4th quarter. Do suckers really buy shares on a $2.00 fall? Beats me - but then perhaps thats why I'm not rich.

Good catch. Depressingly, they are going for umpteen billions of subsidy in an industry which is in for a major downsize whatever happens, when the money is desperately needed to pay for railway lines which will be viable.
It's going to be difficult to get any money at all for what is needed when huge doomed industries are fighting for subsidy.

I asked my co-worker from Seattle if the Boeing people were scared. He claims they are doing great, the newer planes are (somewhat) more fuel efficient, and the airlines are buying the new stuff, and retiring the old planes. I hope they aren't selling these panes on credit!

Bombardier in Montreal is also doing great business.

Magnifying? No way, I think this is hardcore post-peak oil in action. I guess it's confirmation bias in action on your part. The only thing that can stop oil now is seriously bad financial news. And you know it. Deep down, where you don't go.

The Dude writes:

Mr. Verleger said he strongly disagrees with the view that these new speculators are pushing up the price of oil and other commodities. “In fact, they have at a minimum reduced price volatility and quite possibly contributed to a lower price level than would have been obtained had they been barred from the commodity markets,” he said.

I'm not clear on just exactly who is a large commercial purchaser.

It seems to me that large hedge funds could make large purchases of contracts. But aren't these folks considered speculators??

Like I said, I'm not clear on who's a speculator and who isn't.

You are confusing oil with paper. Commercial purchasers buy paper with the intention of converting the paper into oil (or they buy oil on the spot market). Speculators buy paper with idea of making a profit by unloading the paper without converting it into oil; speculators (in general) do not buy oil on the spot market.

People talk as if the paper & the oil are the same thing. They are very different, and the markets are very different.

The terminology is often used inexactly.
But if you are in charge of fuelling a fleet of aeroplanes it makes sense to buy ahead, or can do, so the airlines which have done this have been most successful in containing costs.
This is known as hedging, and is distinct from speculation because you actually have an end use for the oil.
The other half of that bet would normally be a speculator, who thinks that the prediction of price rises is incorrect and so sells oil contracts which he has no physical use for.
You will find politician use the term speculator to cover anyone they don't like!

I am an investor

You are a consumer

They are speculators

I am a citizen.

I am a shaman.

I am a walrus!

You are correct--large hedge funds are considered speculators. The traders that Verleger is talking about are not hedge funds. Verleger is talking about traders who are laying off the bets of index funds, which are a different thing. These hedges fall under the commercial trader category.

But the CFTC has found that the increase in index fund commercial longs has been offset by an increase in commercial and speculator shorts: http://www.cftc.gov/stellent/groups/public/@newsroom/documents/speechand...

There just is no evidence of prices shifting because of the bets of any particular market participants. When one set of participants goes long, another set of participants goes short. It has always worked this way, and it always will work this way. Prices always return pretty promptly to supply and demand reality no matter who is in there bidding.

Prices always return pretty promptly to supply and demand reality no matter who is in there bidding.

It really is curious that so many supposed adherents of "free-market capitalism" refuse to believe that prices are set by supply & demand. IMO, this is variant of the most primitive kind of thinking: "I don't understand something, therefore someone is manipulating events." In other words, this is conspiracy theory done by people who are quick to poo-poo other people who do it.


Interesting market today, huh? The propaganda machine has been in overdrive now for a full week, they've managed to boost the dollar, and the market can't do much better than $135.

You ain't seen nothin' yet. Wait for the fews days after the producer-consumer summit.

A number of really large refineries capable of handling sour crude are under construction in Asia like this one in Jamnagar, India. This should surely help alleviate the workdwide shortage of diesel and make use of the sour crude sitting in tankers now.

It would be nice to see a piece on refinery builds/expansions in coming years, to get a handle on the supply picture.

On a micro scale, the Tesoro refinery here in BayArea, Cali, has a new coker online. However, they are not able to get their finished product out fast enough as their distributing wharf suffered an accident at the hands of a wayward boat (crashed into the wharf damaging the pipeline). The pipeline should be online in July, so the diesel they are storing up should have a minor ripple into the markets.

This is probably not that significant, but I am so proud of myself for knowing this, since before, without what I have learned on TOD, this kind of information would have gone right over my head!

That's very interesting and helpful. Thanks!

I am at the farthest East end of what is called the bay area. We almost always have the lowest gas prices in the bay area. The past two to three weeks it has been rapidly rising
$4.45 today. Before that it was only slightly higher than the reported national average. Presumably Tesoro is doing worse than average?

News on Reuters says that Saudi considering increasing production by 500 kbpd from current 9,450 kbpd to put a stop to current high prices.

Speculation is coming from with Middle East Economic Survey (MEES)

"A sizeable increase, at the levels MEES understands are being considered, would put production up at near record levels of around 10 million bpd"

Investment bank contacts say the increase would come from bringing Khursaniyah on-line even though the gas plant is not yet fully contructed.

Sorry, no link (yet).

The Saudis have been talking that up for a couple of days now. Nobody seems terribly impressed.

I'd love to know what's going with Khursaniyah. They actually reported that it was up and running...then took it back.

Here's a brief Khursaniyah timeline:

March 2, 2008: Oilfield faces delay

RIYADH: Production at Saudi Arabia's 500,000 bpd Khursaniyah oilfield may be delayed beyond the first half of this year.

"The oilfield may start pumping limited quantities in May but it will not be able to meet the announced production capacity ... since the gas plant has not been completed yet," an industry source said.

April 20, 2008: Saudi Aramco Says New Oil Field, Khursaniyah, Starts Production

Saudi Arabia has started production at the Khursaniyah field that will eventually pump 500,000 barrels a day, the head of state-run oil company Saudi Aramco said.

May 25, 2008: Saudi Khursaniyah oilfield not pumping yet - Aramco

Delays in construction of a plant to process gas produced at the oilfield have prevented the start up, Khalid al-Falih, Aramco's executive vice president of operations, told Reuters.

"The gas plant is a major delay. It's really a disappointment," Falih said. "All of it will be ready in a few months."

Aramco could bring on most of Khursaniyah's capacity if needed, Falih said. But gas would have to be burnt off, which Aramco wanted to avoid, he added.


Khursaniyah will start ``very, very soon, definitely within the next month,'' Khalid A. Al-Falih, who is also an executive vice president at Saudi Aramco, said in a telephone interview today. He couldn't say when full production would be reached.

Sounds to me like this "startup" is the limited production they can do without the gas plant. Given the regional demand for natural gas, I don't see them flaring it, which they would have to do to produce the oil without the gas plant.

(If it's true that the gas plant isn't built. "Within the next month" fits the schedule for completing the gas plant announced in March.)

I spoke with the head of the Khursaniyah project last week. He said they the delay was all "above-ground factors" (I had to smile at his choice of words), and that they were being "clobbered" by problems with material supplies, particularly steel.

Yes, it's been reported that materials have been problem throughout the Gulf (throughout the world, even). Also labor with the needed expertise.

A problem we're likely to hit in any infrastructure build-out, whether it's rigs, refineries, rail, nuclear power plants, etc.

I have an electronic version of a 1907 book designed to inform engineers (civil, electrical, mechanical) of what they need to know to help build streetcar lines during the then boom in construction.

Descriptions of decreasing radius curves in the book have been ignored by some modern engineers, etc.

I would like to see a modern edition (102 years later ?) published. More than half of the original could be retained.

Portland State University has a couple of useful 3 day mini-courses (I have taken one).

Parsons Brinkerhoff specializes in gold plating and political influence and we could use less of them. But lack of good, or at least adequate, engineering need not be a show stopper.

The electrification of RR schedule assumes a year design, mobilization and materials time lag, and 5 sets of rail laying/electrification teams (one each for UP, BNSF, N-S, CSX and all of the rest). In the specific case of RR electrification, most miles will be to standard design(s) and only specific problem areas such as yards, bridges, tunnels and cuts will require skilled engineering.

Best Hopes !


I have an electronic version of a 1907 book ..
I would like to see a modern edition (102 years later ?) published. More than half of the original could be retained

I believe 1921 is the cut-off on what is and is not under copyright protection.
So you can produce what you want to see.

I'm wondering, has anyone ever done a study to see if diesel might be more efficient than electric (with its transmission losses)? Seriously, my understanding is that electric was brought in to reduce exhaust-related dangers in tunnels, and not because of of any efficency. I could be wrong, so... has anyone done a study?

Transmission and transforming loses should be in the 3.5% to 8% range (much better than residential).

Todays locos use small (few MW) diesel ICE generators (without regenerative braking) to drive electric motors. Only small islands and emergency generators use diesel ICE for electricity.

Roughly high 30% thermodynamic efficiency for small diesel ICE generation. Combined cycle natural gas generation is about 60% efficient.

There is no other large scale economic use for falling water, blowing wind, nuke heat except making electricity, so efficiency for them is kind of meaningless to quote (hydro is over 90%, nuke low 30%). New coal plants can get into the low 40% (all from memory).

Russia has electrified the Trans-Siberian RR and is electrifying other major lines. France is electrifying 100% of their railroads, so there must be something to it.

Best Hopes for Electrified RRs,


Alan not sure if you see this but I'll repeat it. Can we consider setting up a sustainability wiki like wikipedia but amassing all the knowledge for living alternative lifestyles not dependent on oil.

sustianawiki :)

50% of the people have not learned how to flush a toilet. I think that living alternative lifestyles will come natural to them.

A problem we're likely to hit in any infrastructure build-out, whether it's rigs, refineries, rail, nuclear power plants, etc.

I think you are correct. Just because we know how to do something doesn't mean we can do it profitably or in the timescale required.

9000 3.6 MW windmills by 2020 in the North Sea comes to mind - despite Jerome's optimism. Near me they are trying to install just 30 windmills and it is taking ~4 years overall.

The America that could build a Liberty ship in two weeks is gone with the wind.

I wonder if JoulesBourn could update us from his spy sattelite operations!

Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that the Saudis have decided that it is in their self-interest to keep a large permanent US military force in Iraq, so they prefer McCain to Obama. Presumably, the Saudis would seek to drive the price of oil down, at least until early November. Recall the recent news report of a significant increase in the Saudi product imports?

Four points: (1) To the extent that the Saudis have shut-in capacity, it is almost certainly heavy/sour, and the Cantarell crash has to be having a detrimental effect on heavy/sour crude exports; (2) The Saudis can draw down their crude inventories and (3) The Saudis can curtail their domestic refinery runs, boosting crude oil exports, but increasing product imports (which aren't widely reported on a monthly basis); (4) They can surge their production, at the risk of causing long term damage to their high water cut reservoirs.

In any case, their domestic liquids consumption in 2008 will probably be up by close to 500,000 bpd over their consumption in 2005.

WT, I am not at all convinced that SA favors McCain over Obama. The question that I have been thinking about is 'does OPEC favor the US over SE Asia as long term trading partners.'

I have mulled over the 'can't decouple economically' debates but recent data shows that SE Asia's only losing economies are those that are still exporting technology gadgetry to the US. The others are holding up fine exporting everything else to countries everywhere including the US. Will SE Asian economies hold up if a severe recession hits the US? I don't know. I suspect OPEC is watching the economic numbers from around the world very closely. I also suspect that SA would like the Carter Doctrine replaced by a 'basket of governments' willing to cooperatively protect the oil resources of the Mid East.

Here are some interesting numbers regarding recent SE Asian exports:

...snip...'"…[With] all the talk of a global economic slowdown, China is still booming. Its economy grew by a white-hot 10.6% in the first quarter of this year. And that's despite all the efforts of the Beijing government to slow things down…

"So, the commodity-rich Asian countries that supply China's industrial machine, like Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, are surviving the global economic downturn well enough. In fact, they're seeing exports boom…

"But not every Asian country is benefiting. The Asian countries that rely on electronics shipments for the bulk of their exports, like Singapore and the Philippines, are being hit by the US slowdown.

"Just look at the figures. This week, Malaysia announced a 21% jump in exports in April from a year earlier. What are they selling to the rest of the world? Let's see…palm oil exports are up by 71%, crude oil exports by 53% and exports of natural gas by 26%. Electronic-component exports were up by just 12.5%. The electronics industry used to be the crown jewel of Malaysia's export industry. And most of those components used to go to the U.S. We're seeing a massive shift in the centre of economic gravity here.

"Same thing in Thailand. The country's exports jumped 28% from a year earlier. And a good part of that comes down to the soaring prices of rice and other agricultural products.

"Indonesia's monthly exports have just hit a new record of $11.9 billion in March, as well. No prizes for guessing what they've been selling…crude palm oil (Indonesia is the world's biggest producer), natural gas, timber, coal…

"Coal is the new gold. And Indonesia has some of the most exciting coal companies on the planet."...snip...


I tend to agree. According to an article in my daily, Saudi's are completely fed up with neocons. That would include McCain. My newspaper ran an interview with the former Economics Minister of SA (sorry I donot recall his name now), who called Bush "the lamest of lame ducks", and scoffed at US foreign policy.

Well, there is talk and there is action, and their actions are supportive of McCain.

What they say for (their own) public consumption, and what they do in secret are two different things. The rulers of KSA, do have worries about staying in power. Their needs, and those of their citizens can diverge substantially. I think their population heavily favors Obama, but the hidden calculus of the rulers may support a different policy.

The Financial Post Will Save US!!

1) Mexico must welcome foreign investors or partners into its oil sector or face an economic catastrophe that will result in more illegal immigration to the U.S.
1A) How will foreign investment compensate for a decline in a non-renewable resource?
1B) Why does an increase in illegal Mexican immigration to the US represent an economic catastrophe for Mexico? Illegal immigrants typically send remittances back to the home country to support other family members. Out immigration reduces domestic demand for goods and government provided services.

2) Americans should fast-track pipeline and regulatory approvals for Canada and Mexico.
2A) What is the point of building more piplines if the resource is not available to fill them?

3)The U.S. must build, and finance, the Alaska natural gas pipeline and also projects to tap Canada’s huge natural gas Arctic reserves.
3A) Telling Americans what to do has not worked well for most people who have tried it, including most Americans.
3B) What huge natural gas reserves?

4)Americans must reverse their ban on drilling offshore or on federal lands. (New polls show 57% of Americans agree with this.) Drilling in these areas won’t yield huge deposits but will help.
4A) Telling the Americans what to do again. Americans believe it is their right to tell everyone else in the world what to do.
4B) Lets go punch expensive holes in the ocean. Won't yield anything but sure will help. Help who?

5)Labor mobility. Oil workers must be able to work anywhere.
5A) They already can work anywhere. I have had no problems moving people around the world.

6)The three countries should finance a Manhattan Project to come up with environmentally benign alternatives, conservation methods and technologies to better utilize oil and gas.
6A) First spend money building piplines that will never be filled, spend more money punching holes in the ocean in search of rumour oil, get all the workers moving around globally and then spend additional time and labour in the development of substitutes. Putting the government in competition with itself is always a sound policy and guarantees a much larger government.

7)Fast tracking and rationalizing power generation facilities is also long overdue, as are government mandates requiring clean coal technologies and the use of more nuclear energy
7A) Diane Francis would have been at home in Kosygin's Russia. She would be issuing autocratic diktat's from a perch in some ministry. Cannot wait for the Financial Post to begin demanding the US follow the Financial Post's latest 5 year plan.

Is your newspaper the FP?

This Story has been rated 'M', - for Mature Oilfields Only, By the MPAA (More Petroleum Always Available)

Here's a linky:

Saudi could raise output at Jeddah oil summit: MEES

DUBAI (AFP) - Saudi Arabia could decide to raise its crude output to 10 million barrels per day (bpd) when it hosts a June 22 meeting of oil producers and consumers, a specialist newsletter said on Friday.

and in related news...

"David Copperfield pulls elephant out of his A$$"

Sorry about that but we are having too much fun today here @ Soup Shop.


P.S. the chilled ratatouille is MMMMMMMMmmmmmmmmm!

It's interesting that the NYTimes is leaving out the "could" on planning the increase anyway:

Saudi Arabia Plans Increase in Oil Output

Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, is planning to increase its output next month by about a half-million barrels a day, according to analysts and oil traders who have been briefed by Saudi officials.

The increase could bring Saudi output to a production level of 10 million barrels a day, which, if sustained, would be the kingdom’s highest ever. The move was seen as a sign that the Saudis are becoming increasingly nervous about both the political and economic effect of high oil prices. In recent weeks, soaring fuel costs have incited demonstrations and protests from Italy to Indonesia.

Well Khursaniyah's re-work was intended to bring on an additional ~400,000 barrels a day, and the associated gas condensates bring in ~ 80,000 barrels a day...

So if the field starts up in a couple months, they won't be able to _avoid_ bringing in an additional ~500,000 barrels a day.

Might as well make a virtue out of an inevitability?


Remember folks! There is no such thing as a conspiracy or price fixing.


Criminal charges have been laid against 13 people and 11 companies accused of fixing the price of gas in Quebec, the federal Competition Bureau said Thursday.

RE: 'Refinery Oil Premiums Cast Doubt On Speculators'

I have another link to this story that is longer and contains more information about why OPEC contends that the market is sufficently supplied with crude oil. OPEC is producing lots of heavy crude that is not selling, even at steep discounts, while all sweet light is being bid up over spot. I believe this one is worth the read.

'Refiners Paying Record Premiums For Top Grade Crude'


It's because of a lack of refinery capacity to handle heavy crude. Reliance is opening in India in September (580,000 barrels per day capacity). That will be a state-of-the-art refinery that is particularly efficient at getting diesel and gasoline out of heavy crude. Other refineries are supposed to be ready at the end of the year or beginning of 2009, but will probably be late.

But offsetting all of this new production and refining capability is a steepening decline rate. I believe de Margerie of Total is correct--that we're looking at something close to a 6% decline rate to offset.

Also, demand in China is still growing: http://www.china.org.cn/business/news/2008-06/13/content_15791962.htm

Hi Moe,

Any more information or links to information regarding the production profile of the new Reliance refinery?


Cognitive dissonance on the Bloomberg home page:

Consumer Prices in U.S. Rose 0.6% in May, Topping Forecast, on Fuel Costs
Stocks in U.S. Advance on Oil's Drop, Consumer Price Data; UAL, AMR Gain

I mainly go there for its entertainment value.

I've been chuckling about natural gas. It's been trading at $12.75 +/- 1% for weeks now, and every day they have a lead story about why it moved eleven cents.

What makes it extra funny is that, according to the last LNG price I saw here on TOD, it's trading just under what a cargo of LNG would cost delivered. (I googled for current data but didn't find anything newer than 2007.) Heaven forfend that Bloomberg admit that the Nymex price is now set in Trinidad & Tobago.

Arab News says: World Begins to Back OPEC’s Contention. It's all nothing but speculation, of course:

  • "Oil prices are surging not because of a supply shortage, but because of massive liquidity,” referring to the influx of financial funds into markets, helped by low interest rates."
  • "The current market isn’t based on the sound principles of supply and demand but it is being rigged by companies and speculators who are jacking up prices for their own greed."
  • "With producers and consumers almost powerless to rein in the speculators, six billion consumers all around the globe are paying a price and a hefty one while a few are filling up their coffers. Long live capitalism!"

I think we should be more careful when rejecting such readings. Easy money has an apparent connection to the rising price of commodities, as is very well seen in the prices of almost every one of them - from gold to corn to oil.

On the other hand it is also true that oil supply is unable to catch up with rising demand, and this is the other side of the equation. On the question whether oil prices are caused by loose money or by scarcity I'd say the correct answer is "both".

Any loose money flowing into longs in commodities like oil or corn, where the commodity is actually used, is immediately offset by other participants.

The way loose money is a factor is that it has been part of stimulating genuine growth in places like China and India, thereby creating real increases in demand.

I'm not sure what you mean by "immediately offset by other participants". In a speculation (or investment, to use the more benign term) it is the time period between the purchase of contract and the time the contract is closed, which is the target of the transaction, not the commodity itself. The nature of the commodity doesn't matter - you can do that with gold or with anything tradeable, regardless if it is used up or stays. The only difference is that using up the resource physically diminishes the amount available on the market, so investing in usable commodities is a more certain bet - you know with a greater certainty there will be liquidity for those when you decide to short.

LevinK, I think you are confusing cause & effect. What is easily seen is that money is moving into commodities. What is not easily seen is whether the rising prices are drawing money or the other way around. What astonishes me about the people who think cash inflows are pushing prices up is that we have numerous top-notch reasons why commodity prices are rising. Supply is flat while demand increases exponentially. The weather is bad. The political climatge is bad. We have water shortages, wheat rust, topsoil erosion, etc. The list could encompass an entire article.

Why can't people accept that exponential demand increses coupled with flat-to-declining supply is leading to high prices? If I hit my thumb with a hammer, and the thumb turns purple, I really don't need to cook up a lot of reasons why the thumb is purple, including the people who come up and say, "let me see!"

Why can't people accept that exponential demand increses coupled with flat-to-declining supply is leading to high prices?

Because we've "learned" that higher prices always produces (a) more supply or (b) substitutes.

The techno-cornucopian types (incl. some who haunt this site) like to talk about growing your way out of problems. My question is this: If you can't substantially increase the amount of a commodity that you can produce -- and I don't care whether yours is a nuclear powered or solar powered economy -- how are you going to "grow" the economy? Just printing more dollars doesn't count.

My question is this: If you can't substantially increase the amount of a commodity that you can produce -- and I don't care whether yours is a nuclear powered or solar powered economy -- how are you going to "grow" the economy?

You can substantially increase the amount of energy (the commodity) via solar, wind, geothermal etc. I think if we had competent leadership we could grow the economy (after a short term downturn). Unfortunately we won't ever have decent leadership (because we lack the will to elect them) so we are doomed.

If you can't substantially increase the amount of a commodity that you can produce -- and I don't care whether yours is a nuclear powered or solar powered economy -- how are you going to "grow" the economy?

how did the real GDP increase 60% during the big glitch?


what you have to do is use whatever commodity is in short supply more wisely.

Manhattan has grown little(there has been some land created by filling) in 300 years so how have they added so many people during that time? how could they do that when land is finite?

Your Manhattan example is a poor one. We "added land" to Manhattan by building upwards -- something that would have been impossible without cheap energy and commodities.

I've seen this argument of JD's presented before and while I find it interesting, I also have the feeling that I'm being conned. Okay, so "Real GDP rose" while oil production dipped during "the big glitch" but other energy sources were also available -- natural gas and coal presumably being the biggies.

One final comment: I will stop calling the techno-cornucopians techno-corncopians when (a) I take delivery of my first flying car, (b) when Ray Kurzweil succeeds in mating with his laptop and (c) my friggin paycheck starts growing again.

Your Manhattan example is a poor one. We "added land" to Manhattan by building upwards -- something that would have been impossible without cheap energy and commodities.

they used their scarce land more efficiently. why would it be impossible to do w/o cheap energy and commodities? are we building buildings now even though commodity prices and oil prices aren't cheap? are the home builders not building new homes?

can we all retire the cheap oil/cheap commodities meme?

but other energy sources were also available -- natural gas and coal presumably being the biggies

don't the Linearists and doomers tell us that less oil also means less resources to obtain more energy like natural gas, coal, wind, solar and etc?

They're building new houses that DON'T SELL. The houses just sit there. And a friend of mine who has worked as a house painter says the houses are all built like crap anyway because by the time they start to fall apart the home builder will be long gone.

And your Manhattan analogy forgets that at one time Manhattan was full of factories making actual goods. When America's financial sector developed, it became possible for more and more of America's banks and corporate headquarters to concentrate in Manhattan, exploiting workers all over the continent. That in turn made Manhattan real estate more expensive. When American imperialized with its occupation of Latin America (which Gen. Smedley Butler said he carried out for the corporations), it could exploit distant people for profits which poured into the banks in Manhattan. That also made Manhattan real estate more expensive. Now America, according to great conservative Paul Volcker, "can no longer make a living off the savings of the world's poor." Obviously he meant that its banks were borrowing money from the world's poor, and the profits were again pouring into Manhattan. Which is why nobody we know can afford to live there without rent control. If Manhattan had to again make its fortunes on factories contained within the island itself, the economy would be completely different.

And as for the GNP rise, recall that Reagan started America's Kamikaze debt binge and arms buildup, which creates the appearance of a growing GNP, while oil production was still recovering. We also had a growing trade deficit then, so we were taking borrowed money and using it to buy goods produced overseas with foreign energy. In other words, we outsourced our energy problem, like we're doing now.

new homes are selling. there is a lot of inventory though.

they used their scarce land more efficiently. why would it be impossible to do w/o cheap energy and commodities?

Impossible? Mighty high bar to set. Impossible.

Care to give a table of you think is realistic odds instead VS the handwave 'impossible'?

The techno-cornucopian types

with the growth of hybrids, PHEVs and EVs and their impending viability hasn't the name-calling become irrelevant? these technofixes are closer than ever to being a reality. isn't it time to drop that?

John 1.5

I am moving into your happy camp as I just realized that for every barrel of oil that we loose in the decline we create a full years worth of employment for 12 people.

Problem solved, (but not in a nice way).

I am moving into your happy camp

I am in the normal market camp, which may seem like the happy camp to doomers and Linearists who don't know anything about economics.

"I am in the normal market camp"

bs, you are definitly in the happy camp.

elwood(not a doomer or even a closet doomer or a pseudo doomer)......
and i'm real damn certain that the earth's resources are finite.

"bs, you are definitly in the happy camp."

how am i in the happy camp when I think we'll experience anything from a repeat of the 70s, to Argentina in the early 2000s or even possibly hyperinflation? just because I'm not a doomer or Linearist doesn't mean I"m in the happy camp, it may seem like that though.

and what is the definition of linearist ? i think i know what it means, but dictionary.com doesnt know what it means either.
and are there not linearists in the cornucopian and doomer camps as well ?

i think i am probabaly an exponentialist, but i dont know what that means either as i just extrapolated it from linearist.

maybe i am an extrapolationist.

Hello Souperman2,

Very perceptive! That is why I think we need to go to 60-75% of the US labor force into permaculture, plus all the other great TOD mitigation ideas.

There will be no shortage of tasks to do if someone wants to join in postPeak. Hopefully, they will want to work with a bicycle or wheelbarrow or railbike--not a machete' or rifle.

Putin was correct to tell his Russian citizens to grow their own food.

But world hybrid production is stuck at under 1million peryear, because of limited battery manufacturing capability. New factories are supposedly a couple of years away. And PHEVs need several times the battery capacity of hybrids. I'm not sure what worldwide car production is guessing 50-100 million. So only 1-2% of current production is hybrids. We should be closer to 50%, to mitigate PO, and we are probably 10-15 years away from that.

That cause and effect are in a positive feedback loop so it's actually irrelevant which is a cause and which effect (chicken and egg question).

I would describe the present situation as follows: rising money supply and physical scarcity are causing large capital inflows in commodities and corresponding high prices. Note the and in there. If there was no scarcity the bull market wouldn't be possible; if there was no rising money supply it would not be possible either.

Now, getting to the root of the problem: why do we have a rising money supply? And here is my answer:
The global economy is straining resources to the max. In this situation the central banks of developed nations are deliberately allowing for loose monetary policy so they can outbid everyone else for them by simply borrowing more money. The resulting inflation is mostly exported to third and second world countries. The question is for how long could this go on? I think there is a great chance we will witness a backslash in the form of sky-high interest rates and deflation at some point, because the hyperinflation scenario would be unacceptable to just about anyone.

So, IMO it is indeed PO which is at the root of all of this. It is simply not that visible.

I would describe the present situation as follows: rising money supply and physical scarcity are causing large capital inflows in commodities and corresponding high prices. Note the and in there. If there was no scarcity the bull market wouldn't be possible; if there was no rising money supply it would not be possible either.

that's not entirely true as you could have goods-induced inflation.

6. Cash-Induced and Goods-Induced Changes in
Purchasing Power
Changes in the purchasing power of money, i.e., in the exchange ratio between money and the vendible goods and commodities, can originate either from the side of money or from the side of the vendible goods and commodities. The change in the data which provokes them can either occur in the demand for and supply of money or in the demand for and supply of the other goods and services. We may accordingly distinguish between cash-induced and goods-induced changes in purchasing power.

Goods-induced changes in purchasing power can be brought about by changes in the supply of commodities and services or in the demand for individual commodities and services. A general rise or fall [p. 420] in the demand for all goods and services or the greater part of them can be effected only from the side of money.


Odd thought:
With crack spreads and service station profits way down from normal, could part of the price disconnect between finished gasoline and crude oil be vertically integrated companies putting market pressure on independent refineries and distributors to thin the market, taking advantage of the high market price of crude to offset refinery and distribution losses?

Nothing odd about it. I think you are spot on (no pun intended).

Per the story up top, Exxon is getting out of the retail business. It sucks to be a refiner these days, at least in the US where much of the demand is gasoline based. It makes sense for the IOCs to get out of the retail end of things. It is also likely that some of the independent refiners will go out of business. In any case, I don't think the IOCs are using the crack spreads to drive the independence out of the business.

I read an article this morning from a site call "Golden Jackass" in which it was stated that the Wall Street firms, especially Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Deutsche Bank have been buying and leasing enormous storage tanks for holding crude oil. It was also stated that they have been purchasing oil pipelines, electrical plants and gasoline refineries as well as future North Sea oil production.
This sure sounds like someone trying to manipulate the market.If it is true, and I certainly have no way of knowing, how much would that effect price in combination with the decline in imports? Or could some of the decline in imports be attributed to these apparent enormous storage tanks, holding the oil off the market to drive prices higher?
I am new to this site so please forgive me if this has been previously posted!

In the past, when oil prices have gone into sharp contango, investment banks have bought or leased storage and literally stored up lots of oil.

That's because contango is a market structure that essentially pays a premium to traders to store oil. Contango reflects the market's opinion that inventories need to get beefed up.

Generally what happens when a market moves into long-term contango is that inventories do indeed get beefed up, until the market judges there's enough inventory, and the market moves out of contango and back into backwardation.

So, the storing of oil by investment banks, when it happened in the past, was not a conspiracy. It was a sensible response to the market.

There is absolutely no evidence that investment banks are storing oil right now, although if the market continues in contango, we may start to see this happen. Right now, inventories really do need to get built up again.

Moe...most Investment banks are not allowed to trade physical barrels. They dont want the pollution risks for a starter. Your statement is correct but its independent oil traders and the trading arms of the IOC's whe are perhaps the main proponents.

Morgan Stanley owns Transmontaigne, so they are allowed to trade physical oil.

Indeed, Morgan Stanley also happen to be the largest clean products trader in the New York harbour. Like I said most Investment Banks do not trade physical oil.

So Exxon is selling off its gas stations, and it's always possible Hugo Chavez will sell off his gas stations, and the Russian companies are said to be buying gas stations all over the world.

Oh, this could get fun.

Russian companies aren't just rumored to be buying gas stations; Lukoil actually bought up the Getty stations a few years ago. (The actual transaction is a bit complicated: they bought the the name and leased the actual real estate, with the remains of Getty turning into a real estate investment trust)

Coal export boom.

In the criminal justice system drug pushers are as liable as their customers. Some coal exporting countries that talk about domestic carbon cuts don't have any qualms about others using their carbon. Coal produces the same CO2 whether it is burned in its country of origin or somewhere else and it goes into the same atmosphere. Therefore we should deny coal to countries that use too much.

Critics will say those coal customers may just be catching up on a per capita basis and anyway they are making goods on our behalf. I suggest if we all cut back at the same rate, say 5% a year, that's not so unfair. Yet as far as I know carbon caps talked about for the US, Australia and Canada will pay no heed to coal exports. That undermines the whole purpose of cutting global emissions.

Yet as far as I know carbon caps talked about for the US, Australia and Canada will pay no heed to coal exports. That undermines the whole purpose of cutting global emissions.

It more than undermines all efforts to reduce emissions. Australian "Environment" Minister Peter Garrett
former singer from Midnight Oil
approved a new coal terminal in Gladstone.

That will allow additional coal exports generating 60 million tons of CO2 each year. All Australian cars emit 50 million tons of CO2 pa. This means we all have to walk just to offset the emissions caused by the decision of one Minister.

It made me so angry I destroyed all his CDs. And during a pre-election rally Garrett even quoted from NASA climatologist James Hansen saying global warming will bring about a different planet Earth.

This whole thing is another episode of George Orwell's Animal Farm.

Garrett certainly is pathetic.Like most politicians he follows the party line to keep his job.Yes,politicians do think of their elected office as a job(in management).

Neither the QLD or NSW state governments will be doing anything soon to wind back coal exports.Plenty of money coming in from royalties and rail freight charges.And in the words of that prize sleazebag,ex Premier Peter Beattie,it's Jobs,Jobs,Jobs.

I wonder what George Orwell would make of all this if he was still around?

Dont worry about Anthropogenic Global Warming.

Its a pile of crap.

Even at 7 billion , burning stuff: AGW is still a pile of crap.

At best, We are coming out of an interglacial period. - Which is pretty handy for our Civilisation.

You want to worry?

Try Chandler Wobbles, Milankovich Cycles, lunar damping, Solar output, vulcanicity and near planet gravitational effects.

Spread over 3.8 billion years...

You get Carbon release (now) and Carbon absorbtion (Cretaceous, Carboniferous etc) -all happened in the past.

You can only guess at how much carbon was absorbed in the Cretaceous....

Right now, we are emerging from a glacial period and, at the same time, burning wood, coal and now oil and gas.

So, this little, very little pulse of carbon will stop the great effects such as the Chandler Wobble, the Milankovitch cycle, solar output, lunar damping and near planet gravitational affects?

Lets's just forget vulcanicity, and the impact of continental drift.

I beg to differ.

Man - made Global warming?

Try Hippos and Lions in the Thames valley. Or crocodiles in Spitzbergen or Sauropods in the Antarctic.

Non existant AGW is the least of humanity's problems.

Stay frosty. Stay focussed on PO and Peak Energy

PO /PE could kill us all in the next 100 years.

"Dont worry about Anthropogenic Global Warming.

Its a pile of crap."

Thank godz for that! I was beginning to worry!

We are all so lucky here at the Oil Drum to have people who really know what's going on.

Yes, the global consensus of all the world's climate scientists is now invalidated, thanks to Mudlogger's concise rebuttal. It's all a big conspiracy, you see. No doubt they're just in it to get government research grants, the bastards. Just like all those other dirty hippy environmentalists.

Luckily, Mudlogger is here to tell us it is all a pile of crap.

Yes, it's another Friday night at TOD...

Stay frosty. Stay focussed on PO and Peak Energy
PO /PE could kill us all in the next 100 years.

The peak isn't what is gonna kill us. Its the poor reaction of the peak by other people that will be the killer.

Stay frosty. Stay focussed on PO and Peak Energy

PO /PE could kill us all in the next 100 years.

Regarding the above: So could AGW.

There are so many empty-headed comments in your post, I chose to focus on the above to not waste my time and energy.

Look here for some interesting data: Regarding the above: http://nsidc.org/data/seaice_index/daily.html


1. Non-sequiturs are not evidence.

2. Unsourced, unexplained, non-contextualized "info" is meaningless.

"What a fool believes he sees no wise man has the power to reason away."
- Doobies


PO /PE could kill us all in the next 100 years...

"Regarding the above: So could AGW. "

I am convinced that AGW is happening, but it seems to be a long term problem. I would genuinely like to know, how would it kill us all in 100 years?

I can see two pathways to severely reduced populations (hard to kill off those last groups of hunter-gatherers in Patagonia and Tasmania).

1) Rising sea levels force migrations combined with changing climates creating famine (plus other forms of disruptions).

In the desperate scramble for food, oil and other resources, modern weapons such as Soviet bio-engineering of the small pox virus, but with modern techniques and multiple research teams. Add those well known atomic weapons plus sheer butchery a la Genghis Khan.

2) Rapid forcing of the earth's chemistry apparently caused several of the mass extinction events.

We are now in the midst of an extremely rapid forcing of the world's chemistry by a species apparently devoid of self control. I could speculate about the various pathways (rising acidity of ocean water, or creating hypoxic, H2S buildup in the ocean depths and a sudden massive release of vast amounts of H2S gas or ...)

Best Hopes for Homo Sapians Planning and Self Control,


I would genuinely like to know, how would it kill us all in 100 years?

I think climate change (whether it's human caused or not) could have a bigger and more immediate impact than peak oil, because of its effect on food production. Yes, peak oil will certainly affect food production, but we could adjust, by giving food production priority for oil use, and gradually switching to a more sustainable form of agriculture. It might mean a lot more of us working as farmers and eating locally, but we could do it.

Climate change could have a severe affect on farming, that would be difficult to adjust to (especially if peak oil is occurring at the same time). It would affect everyone from ADM to the poorest subsistence farmer.

IMO, people who aren't concerned about this don't really understand farming. They seem to think we'll just move our crops northward. We'll be growing bananas in Alaska, yay.

It doesn't work like that. Our crops are designed to grow under very specific conditions. You can't just move them north. The soil is different, the daylight length is different, the rainfall patterns are different. (In Guns, Germs, and Steel, Jared Diamond argues that this is one reason Europe conquered the New World, and not the other way around. The east-west orientation of Europe made the spread of crops easier than in the north-west oriented Americas. He points out that some corn varieties won't grow if moved only 50 miles north.)

Also, scientists are expecting weather to grow more extreme and less predictable as we settle into a new climate pattern. That's disaster for farmers.

First, the original post made that statement, which was hyperbole. I merely responded in the same vein.

Second, Rapid Climate Change is real. Changes of 7 degrees (I'm forgetting whether F or C, but I think C) have happened within decadal times scales. Think that wouldn't affect agriculture, severe weather, etc., if a global phenomenon? Google: Spencer Weart "rapid climate change"

Third, the other two comments here are accurate.

Unfortunately, we are likely to be dealing with both at the same time. While most seem to think a meter or less of sea rise is likely by 2100, I think up to 5 meters has a more than 50% chance. Arctic melt is causing tundra to thaw, which is raising methane and CO2 release - not expected till the end of this century, but happening NOW.

That one change is enough to set us off on a massive temp change.

Remember, none of this is linear. Once we got into the first non-linear bifurcation, the subsequent ones come all the faster. We have almost certainly hit irreversible (in human time scales) tipping points. I'd guess (and it is just a guess, but I've been right all along thus far) we are not at the first, but at the second level of tipping points. The methane release expanding on a large to massive scale, would equal a third level of tipping points, I'd guess.

Too many people have no clue how close we are to complete disaster. And it doesn't really matter if temps go up 7 or down 7 - and both are possible.


Ok, I appreciate your reply. There seems to a be lot of guesses there. I was hoping for something a little more concrete, in order to counter the usual deniers argument "more CO2 will be good for crops". Granted there are tipping points and we have little info on that, but we don't know for sure. My guess is that climate change will continue its current trend to 2100, by which time CO2 emissions will be dropping.

Leanan raises interesting points about systemic crop failures, this seems to be a realistic threat.

Not a particularly persuasive comment.

Then again, it wouldn't actually matter what you said.

I tried arguing once that all the coal we are burning was originally sucked out of the atmosphere by plants during the cretaceous period, so logically speaking, if we burn it all, we will return to the C02 levels and climate of that period (1500-2000ppm, 6 degrees warmer). Since no runaway green house effect occurred back then, it never will.
Furthermore, since we will never manage to find, extract and burn more than a third of that coal, the actual rise in temperature will be less than 2 degrees.

The general reaction was that this argument was totally unworthy of consideration.

Logic doesn't cut it - people prefer to defer to the opinion of those with credentials rather than think for themselves. If the majority of experts in a field believe something, it must be right.

Even though recent history shows that the majority of experts in a field can be disasterously wrong.

When those coal deposits were laid down, global temperatures were normal. That is, there were forests of palm trees on the Alaskan North Slope. We are, indeed, going to have normal temperatures instead of this insanely cold ice age we have had for all of history, as soon as we burn more of that coal, oil, and gas.

If carbon in plants was the only issue, you might be right. But there are many other sources of CO2 and/or potential CO2. There are ways and times that CO2 is sequestered, etc.

Your idea is just way to simple to be taken seriously. It is a very, very flawed argument.

Then, again, there is no good logical argument against AGW, so it is not surprising.


Aren't those "other sources" of potential CO2 also originally derived from atmospheric carbon? There are vast quantities of CO2 sequestered in chalk deposits for example, which won't get released.

It may be simple, but I don't think you have identified the flaw. We can't release more carbon than was in the atmosphere originally.

Do you have a link to a more detailed rebuttal?

"A" rebuttal? Sorry, but science does work that way. I couldn't tell you the hundreds of scientific papers you'd have to wade through to get at all the evidence, except to point you to the IPCC's work. That's about as close as you're going to get to one source.

The flaws are obvious, which is why I won't waste much time on it. I already said there are many sources of carbon. There are sinks. Etc. You'd have to show these were all in the atmosphere at that time rather than being sequestered in other ways. Hell, you'd have to show the coal was all made in a very, very short time frame, too, which, of course, it wasn't. What was the ebb and flow? Where were the tectonic plates? What was the arrangement of the mountains, ocean currents, etc? These and much more affect temps.

His post is ridiculous to anyone with even a rudimentary knowledge of the science behind AGW.


So basically, you don't have anything. Pity.

Original carbon? What when the earth surface was molten lava...?

When life on Earth first started. Carbon is 0.03% of the Earth, most of that is locked up in rocks.

According to James Hansen, if we continue to burn FF we will at least return to conditions prior to the start of the current Ice Age, a few million years ago.

I don't understand why you should think it relevant whether the CO2 was in the atmosphere originally or not.
What counts is how big the store is, and how quickly it is released.
The stored up carbon dioxide might be the result of many thousands or millions of years of the excess being tucked away under the mattress, so the cumulative amount if released might greatly outweigh the amount in the atmosphere at any point in the past or future.
Its the size of the reservoir and how quickly it is released that counts, not how quickly the reservoir was filled.
If the earth was stable with much higher levels of carbon dioxide than at present, as seems to be the case, that also may not be relevant, as the rise now of a couple of degrees would cause havoc with arable plants, however stable and lovely it might be in 10,000 years time after the ecology has adapted.

Logic? How about assumptions first. You assume that all that carbon was in the atmosphere at any one instant rather than spread over how many years, or thousands or millions of years, as it was laid down into deposits. That assumption for a start seems way off base to me. Once you make off-hand absurd assumptions I don't see where logic has any place.

1. Look at all the pretty new features SuperG installed. Nice work SG. :)

2. Just a reminder, thanks in advance for clicking the "SHARE THIS" buttons (which are available on all our posts) and vote for our work on various sites like reddit and digg. Those link farms help us get a lot more eyes, which means more ad revenue to support the site--it's worth ten seconds to do it, I hope.

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

Thanks for hanging out, and thanks for making this all worth doing. I learn something here every day--and I apologize for these incessant reminders of things.

Yeah, cool pictograms.

I do share my concerns with friends and refer them to TOD. However I'm note sure if they do anythying with it. The high price of oil and consequent disruptions we now see here in Europe may help. At least I'm certain that some of my relations are now taking my warnings from 3 years ago more serious:-)

Took a few minutes of poking about to figure out what everything was, but I'm starting to like them...

Looks like a nice upgrade!


The NY Times today as a pretty cool photo essay on their site -- evocative imagery of abandoned gas stations/pumps:

Out Of Gas

I like #8 -- a tree growing right out of the shell of an old gas pump.

Nice link. And he photographs abandoned gas stations because he sees them as emblematic of the end of the fossil fuel age.

Kind of reminds me of the abandoned gas station I used to play in as a kid. Gas station out front, auto repair shop inside, and upstairs were offices (a dentist's office, etc.). They boarded it up, but neighborhood kids pried the boards off and went in anyway.

Also reminds me of an old gas station I once had to deal with in rural upstate NY. It had been built with its overhang out over the state highway. Apparently, in the old days, people would stop right on the highway to get gas. No need to pull off the road.

I posted this in the open topic discussion about the gas buyers strike, only to realise the person I had directed it to had made his comment 4 days ago, so I guess I'll just post it here to see if I can get an answer...

I constantly hear engineers like yourself saying they don't think the electrification of transportation is possible, even in a decade.

Then I see all these media releases about new batteries, new technologies, new fuel sources and I can't help but think one of them has got to take hold.

The lithium ion batteries are a great option, no? Two days ago a fellow TODer pointed me to a company that makes ethanol out of algea secretions, another promising endeavour, they are planning on building a 100,000 gallon a year plant if I remember correctly as a pilot project which can be explanded to a great degree.

With all of our ingenuity behind this, what is your reasoning for the failure of all of these options? (not just the two I mentioned)

Thanks, I look forward to finding this out as it is a question I ask myself daily

The following Urban rail Projects (plus more not listed) could start throwing dirt (physical construction) within 12 to 36 months after funding


The first would be completed within 18 months of construction and almost all within 4 years. As these were being built, plans for more could be finalized.

As for electrifying railroads, John Schumann and I developed the following schedule.

Year 1 - 0 miles
Year 2 - 2,500 miles
Year 3 - 5,000 miles
Year 4 - 7.500 miles
Year 5 - 10,000 miles
Year 6 - 11,000 miles

This would be the 33,000 miles of US main line RRs.

Best Hopes for Electrification of Transportation with Mature Technology,


Thanks for the response Alan, I always enjoy reading your opinions.

I think electrified rail has definite possibilities and should defnitely be explored, but my question had more to do with passenger car alternative technologies.

I always hear people who know more about engineering than me say they don't see any of these alternative fuel ideas coming to replace the ICE... my question is why not when we have so many options to choose from, why will all of them fail?

my question had more to do with passenger car alternative technologies

Urban Rail, bicycles (including eBikes and eTrikes) and moving to TOD/walkable neioghborhoods are all alternatives to passenger car transportation :-)

Best Hopes for fewer Vehicle Miles Traveled,


ah, you are thinking outside of the box, I like it.

no thoughts on the replacement of the ICE though?

rockman had a comment that seems to have been removed because it was all in caps, but he mentioned basically that implementation times are the cause of lack of faith in the replacement of the ICE,

this was the quote that sparked my comment:

However, the goal of prolonging BAU by such a method only makes sense if you think that electrification of transportation or some other technological innovation is going to ride to the rescue in a decade or so and allow the stock market to go on rising for many decades into the future. My best engineering judgment tells me that such an arrival of the technological cavalry is unlikely, and that the OECD nations are going to have to accept economic contraction.

There are two different issues there. Can the ICE be replaced, maybe after a decade or so, and will there be a gap before it is if it is replaceable?
At the moment there is only one way to duplicate the performance of the ICE, and that would not retire it but supplement it with a battery to produce a hybrid, or rather we should be able to in around 2 years time.
An electric vehicle in the same time scale would not have anything like the same performance at any sane cost, but would be able to provide for commuting.
However, if you take Toyota and GM for example then they do not aim to have their first hybrids on the road before 2010, and in Toyota's case 'hope to build up' to 1 million hybrids a year as soon as possible, and they will be quite a lot more expensive than ICE cars.
Compare this with America's present purchase of around 15 million cars and pick-ups a year, then allow for all the rest of the world and it rapidly becomes apparent that it will be a number of years before an effective substitution could be made.
Some sort of bodged conversions of ICE cars could be done to give mobility for a few miles, but you are talking at the most optimistic schedule of 2015 before you could really make the switch, 2018-20 more realistically.
Many on this forum would argue that society will break down under the strain before this, so what the longer term prospects are would depend on your assessment of this issue.
Social an financial considerations apart, it is clear that we are likely to have the technical capacity to have effective substitutes by 2020 or so, but those are big exclusions.
There would not appear to be any possibility though of a relatively seamless transition due to time lags.

IMHO, we'll still be seeing cars on the streets 20-25 years from now, though far fewer than now. The thing is, though, almost all of them will be battery powered and have very limted speeds and ranges. I am talking about purpose-built NEVs, golf carts (maybe or maybe not souped up), and older compact and subcompact cars that have been converted into EVs. What you won't be seeing much of at all is cars driving on the open highway for hundreds of miles at 60+mph. First of all, I expect that most of those highways will be permanently closed off by then for lack of maintenance funds; even those highways that are still in operation will likely be single lane and restricted to 35-45mph at best. Secondly, even if building such a car is technically feasible, the cost of the betteries will not be affordable. People needing to travel any substantial distance will do so by train.

Hello Alan,

Big thanks from Seattle for your Electrification of transportation as a response to peaking of world oil production article. :-) It is an excellent resource and I've forwarded it to our upcoming speaker from the Seattle Department of Transportation. I'm on the board for our internal environmental sustainability community group here at work, and next week, we are hosting the program manager from the Seattle Streetcar for a lunchtime Brown Bag, including (alleluia!)expansion plans.

A Seattle Streetcar network would provide new urban mobility options that would enhance the city and regional transportation system while shaping and supporting continued economic growth. The network would serve and encourage a broad variety of work and non-work trip and greatly expand the ability to live and work without using an automobile in the areas it serves and connects. To learn more about the Seattle Streetcar network, download the Seattle Streetcar Network Development Report or presentations.

Then I see all these media releases about new batteries, new technologies, new fuel sources and I can't help but think one of them has got to take hold.

Media releases != actual viable products. Go ahead. Read media releases from 10 years ago. How many "made it"? How about from the 1950's - electric power so cheap that it won't be metered?

The lithium ion batteries are a great option, no?

Err, no. Not when one has an infrastructure build on cheap oil. A far more expensive infrastructure will be supported exactly how under the present system?

With all of our ingenuity behind this,

And that somehow will be as cheap as oil? As flexable?

thanks for the response eric,

I guess media releases was the wrong term; there are news articles about emerging technologies, many of them I find here in the drum beat. Some of them seam like great ideas with enormous potential.

I think most people can see a change in the current infrastructure coming (at least those that are looking at the problem), so would we not need solutions to replace the current infrastructure, perhaps this massive undertaking is the root of the pessimism?

The solution does not need to be as cheap as oil, I believe the economy will adapt over time to allow for expensive energy, it will not look like the world today, but it will still function. Gas stations will have plug in outlets instead of gas hoses, people will be able to fill their PHEV car up with plug in power from home. I don't see why these technologies won't succeed over time. The era of cheap oil is over, and even at conservative estimates from BP oil will run out in 40 years, so something else has to come up, it might be more expensive, it might not be, but something will be there.

I just don't understand it when engineers say they don't think that's the case. I assume they know soething I don't, which is what I'm trying to find out...

just a note from reading my own post, I did not mean to insinuate that you are not looking at the problem if that's how it came across, apologies for any offence.

The view on this is not monolithic. A lot of engineers do think the happy motoring will go on with electric cars or whatever. Though they tend not to hang out here; if you don't think it's going to be a problem, why worry about peak oil? Others think we can transition to solar-powered cars, but it will be difficult, with the danger of things going "nonlinear" (wars and riots and economic collapse that kind of thing). Still others think it's impossible, and that we will have to make a fundamental change.

I confess, I am an engineer, and I fall into the last category. I think we're probably at or near peak technology right now. Energy is neither created nor destroyed, so the amount of energy doesn't matter. What does matter is how useful and available it is. In short - what matters isn't energy, it's cheap energy.

In fact, that's sort of how I got here. I knew about peak oil from the time I was a small child. My dad told me the oil would run out by the time I was middle-aged. It was conventional wisdom back then, in the aftermath of the 70's oil crisis. However, I wasn't worried. I thought technology would save us. It's one reason I became an engineer.

But as adult, I started wondering why the Star Trek future so many expected in the '50s, '60s, and '70s never came to pass. Where's my flying car? Why aren't we flying to Mars or colonizing other planets?

That led me to Tainter. Basically, he points out that complexity - social and technological - has an energy cost. And that the low-hanging fruit is picked first, meaning that the rapid pace of technological advancement in the first half of the 20th century could not be maintained. In short...that there is an "end of science."

To look at the problem another way....why is it that no society before ours has supported this level of technology? Now, some would say it's the natural superiority of democracy, or capitalism, or Christianity, or Aryan DNA. But I suspect the truth is that our level of complexity cannot be supported on a solar budget.

What level of complexity can be supported on a solar budget, do you think?

Who says it has to be just solar??? There is wind, geothermal, hydro, wave power, tidal power, and hopefully fusion in the near future (hat tip to the bussard fusion project). To think that the only form of power available sans fossil fuels is solar is a bit short sighted. Even so, if we are talking about solar who is to say engineers and scientist will not find ways to use a larger and larger portion of the 'solar budget' for human use. Time will tell.

don't want to put words into Moe's (quite eloquent) mouth - but when I read "solar budget" in this sort of context it almost always means "without fossil fuels" TAD.

Fusion saving us is a fantasy - I don't know how many times I have to mention it - the top people in fusion in the US don't believe the Bussard approach will work - and one of the top fusion experts I spoke to stated he thinks the world will "go to Mad Max before we solve the fusion problem" - one of the most enthusiastic supporters of fusion feels it will be another 20 years before we get commercial fusion and cheerfully states that mining the moon for helium 3 for helium-helium reactors will save us

good luck with that

I used the term "solar budget," and for the most part, that's what it is. Even wind, wood, hydro, biomass, etc., are solar-powered. No one really believes the wind is created some cloud-guy in the sky blowing at us, do they? ;-)

I used the term "solar budget," and for the most part, that's what it is. Even wind, wood, hydro, biomass, etc., are solar-powered. No one really believes the wind is created some cloud-guy in the sky blowing at us, do they? ;-)

I refer to these as "indirect solar" all of the time. It tends to leave people confused.

The only exceptions to light from the sun ultimately generating the power that I know of (currently feasible renewable energy sources only):

1) Hydrothermal. The heat source here is decaying radioactive material in the Earth.*

2) Tidal: Here it's gravitation from Sun and Moon rather than photons from the Sun.

* Incidentally, there's a great story about how the physicist Lord Kelvin was wrong about the age of the Earth due to this phenomenon, the geologists were closer but couldn't explain it. The Geologists are going to win one of these scientific arguments yet again, this time against economists if peak oil is right.

To twist Karl Marx just a little:

"Fusion is the opiate of the cornucopians."

and Karl Marx could have easily said "Fission is the Opiate of the cornocopians"

Who says it has to be just solar???

Lets see - oil, gas and coal are expressions of solar energy. Unless *YOU* know something else - that the coal/oil/gas lacked photons along teh creation path.

There is wind, hydro,

And these are not driven by solar input? Once again, Do show your data that supports your position.

To think that the only form of power available sans fossil fuels is solar is a bit short sighted.

Well 1st you'd have to show that photons from the Sun have nothing to do with fossil fuels.

eric blair - give me break.

What would you of yours be broken? I'm sure it can be arranged.

Unless you were expressing that you do not believe that Oil, Gas, Coal, wind and hydro are not the result of the interactions of photons with Earth.

Hi Eric. Thanks for Responding. Leanan cleared up what she meant by Solar budget, so under her definition I agree that wind is included in the Solar Budget, where we disgaree is how far we think Mankind can go with this budget, and no I have a job and a wife so I don't have time to run the numbers as you say (man that would be a herculian effort to prove one way or another how far that could take us and factoring in future tech, what a mess). I never said the sun had nothing to do with fossil fuels did I?

"Who says it has to be just solar??? "

exactly. Norway is going to build the largest solar factory of it's kind and I believe Norway is 100% hydro.


that's somewhere that could easily accmodate electric vehicles and they are actually developing a hydrogen highway because they produce excess hydrogen(as does sweden I guess)

Of course when the Scandanavian peoples were engaged in massive socialism and wealth redistribution, we Americans were assured by free-marketeers that these countries were little parasites living off capitalism's bounty whose tiny populations were unrepresentative of America's economic challenges.

Why is it different when it's energy?

In the long run, maybe Edo.

In the short run - the time you or I have to worry about it - the happy motoring may go on. Cars may be increasingly out of reach for ordinary people - both the cost to buy them and the cost to run them. More of our economy will be devoted to collecting/extracting energy, which means less will be available for other things. But we'll have the benefit of knowledge and materials accumulated during the fossil fuel fiesta. It won't all vanish overnight.

But I think it will vanish, in the way Greer describes. Knowledge, even very useful knowledge, does vanish in a collapse.

Knowledge, even very useful knowledge, does vanish in a collapse.

I think the classic illustration of that is in Miller's A Canticle for Liebowitz, which includes a passage describing a future monk creating an illuminated manuscript copy of an old electronic schematic diagram, having no idea at all what it means.

Can an engineer be a Luddite? I do not see that technology has improved our quality of life, although it may have increased our quantity. If some future monk does indeed make such a document, I hope it is because he finds it to be a thing of beauty and that the work is rewarding. That will be more valuable than any meaning a schematic might have.

Anthropologist Marvin Harris used to say the only technology that really benefited mankind in the long run was birth control.

'Can an engineer be a Luddite? I do not see that technology has improved our quality of life, although it may have increased our quantity.'

u should wear an amish beard- at work?

getting older & trying to grow food, heat w/ wood has given me tremendous respect for that chainsaw, tractor etc. & a gallon of petro; luddite[that i am] or not.

i left engineering a long time ago for human services;after hearing a prof/ engineer speak on humanitarian engineering.he'd be considered a socialist then & today.

tod & peak oil has helped [created the bind & motivation?] me understand what i sensed but could not articulate.

politics/corporations/engineering are usually one in the usa.

the human quality was/is missing.

a very elderly patriarch in a nursing home told me the machine that set railroad ties/laid track was the worse invention ever made. his story was the displacement of the jobs for most of his extended family & them moving to the big cities. as i remember he said the 'machine took approx. 50 jobs - most of the good ones in their county; sledgehammers & all[not too bad if u use u'r wrist & gravity mostly].

Knowledge also vanishes with the growth of "civilization."

One way to look at this is to consider what level of ecological "footprint" is sustainable. The best current thinking is that a sustainable economy must use no more than 4.4 ac/1.8 ha per capita. I would take that to be more or less equivalent to your question about "what can be supported on a solar budget".

Next, look at societies that are below or very close to there, preferably societies that have managed to have as high a level of development and GDP as possible. It turns out that countries like Cuba, Costa Rica, Uruguay, Thailand, Dominican Republic, and Ecuador are all pretty close. I like the Costa Rica example especially, it looks to be the most hopeful to me.

On a purchasing power parity basis, the per capita GDP of Costa Rica is about 25% of the US. It isn't all that much different than that for the other countries mentioned.

IMHO, I think we'll be extremely lucky if we can manage to end up being even that well off. But we can hope, and we can try.

Note: most of the above analysis comes from a post by Dr. Francois Cellier and my dialogue with him here.

As a researcher/engineer, my views on this reach related conclusions by slightly different reasoning. I tend to think that a lot of the technology of the 60s and 70s which wasn't obviously-improbable technologies (like teleportation or flying cars) have materialised, but they've mainly been miniaturisation/extension of existing technologies. (A mobile phone is a miniaturised radio, a PDA is an extremely miniaturised computer.) However, what worries me is that I can think of very few "not-a-refinement" inventions that we've created. (The me of 20 years ago would be amazed at the extensiveness and mechanical accuracy of google, but wouldn't be surprised by the overall concept.) In particular, we don't seem to have technologies other than computer simulation that extend human insight. This seems to me, particularly in observation of other researchers, to mean we've got the same level of ability per researcher as fifty years ago. Now if, as seems supported by the evidence, cheap energy per person is about to plummet exponentially, I think we'd need exponentially increasing productivity per person to deal with it; having just the same level of inventiveness doesn't seem to me to be enough to cope.

What really strikes me is the number of people who seem happy to say "See those scientists over there? They'll solve all our problems whilst I stand here watching and carry on my life." If there were huge increases more people who wanted to become engineers and work hard to solve the problems I'd be less worried, but it seems like everyone expects someone else to be more dedicated and harder working on solving the problem than they are.

While I think the next quarter century will be very challenging, I am not a doomer in the traditional meaning of the word. I do think that the ability to locate and obtain knowledge of al sorts has greatly increased. A year back I needed to learn some chemistry, voila, I was able to find and download several graduate courses. With out current technology, a lot of advanced learning is available to nearly anyone with the ambition and capability to learn it. This seems to me to be unprecedated in human history. I don't see the intrenet as collapsing. Although I think we won't be nearly as wealthy as we were say 5 years ago. In any case, with the spread of computers, and growth of the middle class in the BRIC (Brasil, India, Russia, China), we now have a worldwide pool of intellectual labor perhaps ten times larger than it was just a few years ago. Not that brainpower, without energy can create wealth. But eventually we will get renewables figured out. Its just that we will likely be moving backwards until then.

just read the page you supplied on Tainter... wow is that bleak, makes me want to move out to the countryside and build a sustainable farm and never talk to anyone ever again....

Hear, hear. 100:1 fossil fuel is essentially free energy, from a thermodynamic standpoint. The first half of the fossil fuel age has allowed us to "suspend" thermodynamics in a sense.

EROEI, that is.

ERoEI's a commin' an' ya' betta' watch out

But I suspect the truth is that our level of complexity cannot be supported on a solar budget.

how do you know that? your crystal ball?

isn't peak tech what kunstler wrote about once?

the fact is tech companies are often well aware of global warming and some even peak oil and are doing something about it. they are also very tech savvy and often leaders in developing alternatives. take the example of google.

solar on the roof(apparently the biggest corporate installation at that time)

google solar trees.

but how will they get to work in a resources constrained world? good thing they have a bus service.

they also invested in solar power, though I don't know if they still are.
Google founders invest in solar energy

google.org is investing in solar thermal

Google.Org Doubles Down on Solar Thermal Power

What is difference btw LowHangingFruit and Rape... from the "purpose as maximize-gain" view?

Seems mighty vulnerable to anti-social pathology, such as Accumulation Disease.

Imagine if there were a similar debate a few billion years ago, where amoeba, bacteria, and algae had a similar argument about whether more complex life forms could be possible. Maybe multicellular life was failing all around them. Maybe the thought single-celled was the only way to go, the only way that would work.

Maybe our level of complexity is unsustainable, but a different kind of social organization could still be possible that could produce technology in complex equilibrium with its environment. Even within the solar budget.

Once upon a time, the solar budget only supported single-celled life. Later, multicellular life was supported, but nothing with a central nervous system.

After a die-off, people may organize differently. Homo sapiens is not inherently unsustainable, just the 6.7 billion of us living in a "civilized" way.

there are news articles about emerging technologies, many of them I find here in the drum beat.

Go back, look 'em over. You'll see that many are posted by 'the antidoomer' and people have given up with asking said poster to analyze what he posts as he doesn't seem to grok what he's posting.

people will be able to fill their PHEV car up with plug in power from home.

Look into the electric grid and its status. Now add in the copper supply.

I don't see why these technologies won't succeed over time.

Because the 'success' will need raw materials. And 'we' have shortages or what 'we' expect - based on the past - is due to the WAY underpriced 'value' of oil.

I just don't understand it when engineers say they don't think that's the case.

Raw materials. Volumes of finished materials.
Now toss in how much energy is 'injected' into the 'economy' at the low price that built what 'we' have, now figure out a way to keep expanding the energy injection to keep the economic model growing.

Consider looking at Jay Hanson - read all of dieoff/war socialism.

Look into the electric grid and its status. Now add in the copper supply.

I love these vague notions. tell me what year we won't have a reliable electrical grid and then I'll worry about it's status. of course long before the grid goes down(which it won't) we'll have switched to solar panels on our roof.

Now add in the copper supply.

Was told today by a commercial HVAC contractor that one foot of 1 1/2 inch copper tubing cost $5.60.

How does that fit with 5 years ago, 10 years ago etc ?

It's two or three times what it was a couple years ago. 1/2-inch copper tubing (the most common kind in homes) is about $2.00/foot or $20 for a 10-ft section.

A $100 section of the standard electrical wire I buy was $8.90 on sale 12 years ago. The sale price 8 years ago was just under $20.

http://www.xomba.com/how_to_make_money_recycling_scrap_metal (5 years old)
Copper - This is the familiar red metal used in household tubing...
Price: 35 cents to $1.50 a pound.
$ 3.6611 a lbs for copper.

10 years ago I remember a ton of tin was $35. The old man was offered just shy of $400 this last winter.

A far more expensive infrastructure will be supported exactly how under the present system?

just like under cheap oil except it'll be a bit more expensive.

We'll just print some extra money and the resources will show up.

We'll just print some extra money and the resources will show up.

I know you're making a snide remark but you're actually right. printing more money will help raise the prices of metals which will spark more mining, exploration and recycling for copper.

Well, I apologize, I thought you were a conservative but I was being unfair to the conservatives.

See, if you print more money then it isn't just the price of metal that goes up. It's the price of everything. You've also just reduced the value of the savings in my bank. So either I demand higher wages, which then leads to more money being printed, which leads to higher prices on everything, which leads to more wage demands, etc, etc, etc...

Or the prices go up and I don't get a wage hike, so I'm poorer. But my savings are still becoming worthless, so I liquidate them and then go into debt because I have no choice. Eventually the debt becomes unsustainable and there's a depression, which is going to wipe out the capital markets that finance the firms that will perform your precious mining, exploration and recycling.

In other words, we either have the 1970s, or we have right now.

We should not be letting citizens out of high school without these operating instructions.

super390- I'm not arguing that printing money is a good thing just noting that printing more money will lead to a boom in commodities. greenspan started this one by bailing out wall street in 2000.

OK, so we've got a few opinions.

There seems to be a concensus among most repliers that there will be some kind of technology to save us, but not all of us, just a few because it will be so expensive, also there will be a gap in between current infrastructure and the solution infrastructure that may or may not result in global catastrophe.

Now, what are the chances that a combo ethanol+hybrid battery car would be able to effectively replace the ICE. Does no one believe that if our society is given the opportunity, we will be able to make this technology work in a way that somewhat represents our current system (perhaps with just 2-3 times the cost)?

What about a hydrogen car? is that completely out of the question, if so, why?

Leanan, what are the most promising technologies/fuel sources in your opinion that have even the slightest chance of bringing us out of this mess?

Eric Blair, I realise the electric grid is not a whole lot better off than the oil supply, but are improvements not possible? How will solar arrays and tidal energy plants affect the grid?

Also, going from the energy cannot be created/destroyed only converted law, would harnessing solar and tidal power not have an over arching effect on the global ecosystem? Is it possible that we use up enough of the tidal energy to change the flow of the oceans and effect the planet?

Again, thanks for all the replies, I am having a wonderful Friday afternoon reading all of these.

Now, what are the chances that a combo ethanol+hybrid battery car would be able to effectively replace the ICE.

Volume. Look at the volume of oil used, then compare to the lands ability to produce alcohol. Toss in the material needed for the conductors and batteries.

What about a hydrogen car? is that completely out of the question, if so, why?

You know, you *COULD* spend some time reading all of TOD. Its under 3 years of postings. Read all the arguments, then ask. Because at some point - people will stop answering your posts. Esp. when the answers are just repeating what has been said to you.

But here's a bone - go read Don Lancaster's "H2 is a gas" page.

And do go read Jay HAnson.

Eric Blair, I realise the electric grid is not a whole lot better off than the oil supply, but are improvements not possible? How will solar arrays and tidal energy plants affect the grid?

The answer to your question is found in human behavior and resource limitations. For your questions to be answered, you'd have to look into what raw materials will be needed, how one will get the raw materials deployed, and keep them rising to keep the expanding growth model working. Then convince people to take that path.

Just on solar arrays - look into who can deploy them and what things prevent the deployment.

Also, going from the energy cannot be created/destroyed only converted law, would harnessing solar and tidal power not have an over arching effect on the global ecosystem? Is it possible that we use up enough of the tidal energy to change the flow of the oceans and effect the planet?

Yes. And Yes. Man won't know 'till man tries. Do keep in mind that if one sends electricity into the sea, you can build coral - and that may be more of a positive than whatever the negatives may turn out to be.

Eric, thank you for your response and enlightening thought.

I would remind you though that from my standpoint, what is easier, looking back through 3 years of hundreds of posts every day, or just ask a question on a discussion forum, obviously there are people who are willing to answer it using 5 minutes of their own time (yourself included), so I don't find your "you could look through blah blah blah" comment very helpful for anyone's understanding of the situation. I appreciate the time you guys take to answer my questions, I am of the younger generation and believe that the next step is to educate my generation on these issues, I think you believe that too, or else you wouldn't be answering my questions.

I will look into Jay Hanson, you're viewpoints could use some clarification for myself and he seems to be your go to guy.

I am interested by your coral comment, why would this be a positive? - please excuse my lack of scientific knowledge for this, and I politely remind you that you don't actually have to reply, but I would appreciate it if you do.

Thanks Eric, I have enjoyed this discussion today.

who are willing to answer it using 5 minutes of their own time (yourself included)

Saying 'yes' or 'Hey go look into Jay Hanson' is a 5 minute answer. Tracking down the links showing where people who research fuel cells will no longer have Hydrogen cell talks until the storage and creation issues are addressed (the watt podcasts) takes more than 5 minutes.

I am of the younger generation and believe that the next step is to educate my generation on these issues

And pretty much every one of your questions has been answered with cited experts VS some poster on a forum. To educate, you'll need to be able to cite and understand data.

Rarely will a 5 min. response give you comprehensive data.

I am interested by your coral comment, why would this be a positive?

And here is an example of a quick response VS comprehensive. I'd have to find the links that show with a low level electric hcarge, coral will grow where it otherwise does not due to heat/acid. Then I'd have to track down links showing bio-diversity and how coral helps protect VS storm surge and other things I've forgotten.

The quick version is building coral is positive.

Jay Hanson, you're viewpoints could use some clarification for myself and he seems to be your go to guy.

Naw, Jay is a good collection on the way man interacts with man and applies it to "the peak". Others here can do a better job of quoting from Jay's work. I took 3 days at one time and plowed thru the site.

And if you are wanting to 'be able to educate others' (and provide rebuttal) you'll need to go thru the presented data.

You'll need to understand when someone says 'other nations have 300 years of coal and the US have 666 years of coal' why they are wrong and where to go look to show its wrong. Same with 3 trillion barrels of oil in oil shale - why that is 'not useful' (things like having to mine it, how the rock expands, the moving of heavy metals into the biosphere, how a baked potato w/butter has more energy per pound than oil shale et la)

A few years of data to go through isn't all that bad. Toss in some books if you don't want to read web pages.

thanks a lot for the info. I will take your point about reading more works completed in peer reviewed journals and other "cited experts" work seriously, I am taking a trip soon and I think I'll pick up Hanson's book for some insightful reading.

I have been reading TOD for about 8 months now, trying to put the whole problem in perspective. My goal is to be able to educate myself enough to convince my generational peers that we are facing a huge problem. I have a twin brother who works in banking and does not give a flying rats a__ about the oil situation. I can say with certainty that of all the people of my generation that I know, not one of them is peak oil aware. No one wants to listen becuase none of them realise it will impact them.

I believe I have a firm grasp on the numbers, barrels per day, reserves, possible alternatives, the personal car topic is one I hadn't seen a lot of, perhaps because most people, like you, have already discussed it to death, so I appreciate you going over it one more time with me.

As a concluding note, does anyone have any suggestions on the best way to present these facts to people? I can put the spin on it for my generation, but most people don't want to listen, is that my generation or is it everyone?

It is not generational,it is right across the board.

As for educating people,including yourself,I advise the KISS principle - Keep It Simple,Stupid.

Also,there is one word to always remember - Sustainable.If whatever is under discussion doesn't pass that test then it is probably not worth discussing.

if one sends electricity into the sea,

Or sends it into the ionosphere as

While always enjoy a snark......I'm not in a snark mood on coral. (its like you don't believe that dumping power into the sea can have a benefit.)


Biorock: Stimulating Coral Growth With Electricity : TreeHugger
Can electricity give declining coral reefs a new lease on life? It may seem counter-intuitive, but it apparently has been effective for the last decade, ...
Electricity Revives Coral Reef
This covering provides the necessary substrate for coral growth. ... "We find that electricity reinforces the coral that's already there, and has a profound ...
BBC NEWS | Technology | Shock treatment for coral restoration
Oct 8, 2004 ... Coral (photo courtesy of the Global Coral Reef Alliance) ... It's the electricity itself that gives them that growth and that extra ...
Filipino MIT winners use electricity to spur coral growth ...

What about a hydrogen car? is that completely out of the question, if so, why?

Yes, it's completely out of the question. Hydrogen is an energy carrier, not an energy source.

Leanan, what are the most promising technologies/fuel sources in your opinion that have even the slightest chance of bringing us out of this mess?

If by "out of this mess," you mean continuing the car-based lifestyle...I don't think there is a chance. I guess I'd vote for batteries. Electric cars. But they won't have the performance of the ICE, and I suspect most of us will find they are too expensive for the benefits you get from them.

The infrastructure problem is huge. Whether it's CTL or hydrogen or electric cars or whatever. We have a mind-boggling amount of money invested in the current oil infrastructure, and replacing it won't be easy. It was built when we were on the upside of Hubbert's Peak, when the world was a lot emptier, and when we had a lot more resources.

Now, anything we want to build, we'll be competing with China, the Middle East, Venezuela, Russia, etc. for ever-scarcer resources. We've always been able to outbid everyone else before (when we didn't just use our own). Don't count on that continuing.

Thanks Leanan, I really appreciate your thoughts on this.

Perhaps one day I'll be as smart as all you guys, and then hopefully someone asks me for some answers, but in the meantime I'll continue to ask questions and build my knowledge.

but not all of us, just a few because it will be so expensive,

I don't think anyone has said that.

I see, I must have incorrectly surmised that piece, thanks for the correction.

I see, I must have incorrectly surmised that piece, thanks for the correction.

well every time a doomer/Linearist has said the Tesla and etc. cost too much the non-doomers always point out that the costs will come down and EVs will be made for regular people.

Here are a couple of cars that they can build now:
YouTube - XH-150 Extreme Hybrid - Track Tests & Interviews

UKP14,000 TH!NK city electric car ready for showrooms

Getting to mass production is a different thing though

...that have even the slightest chance of bringing us out of this mess?

Before considering answers to this question, perhaps you should define for us precisely what "this mess" is that you are referring to. Most of us have gravitated here because we understand that peak oil is imminent, but that doesn't define the mess. Some believe;

1) The loss of cheap energy will disrupt our lives;
2) The loss of cheap energy will destroy our economic system;
3) Oil is the first of a significant number of scarce resources to begin impacting our lives/economy
4) Our economic system fosters dependence on cheap energy and is unsustainable;
5) Our economic system fosters a dependence on a growth ethic that is unsustainable
6) Our economic system, supported by cheap energy, stunts human potential and the end of growth is the only way to correct this

There are many more possibilities. As usual, what you define as the problem will help to define what the solution is.

OK, "this mess" would be the infrastructure built around an "infinite" resource that is in fact finite. The cars we drive, the products produced by oil, in short, I would define "this mess" in my question is our economy without oil


The big problem with being an engineer is always being blamed for taking a very critical view of every possibility. Most of the hypothetical solutions publicized by the press or politicians can be rejected by engineers after a 10-minute back of the envelope calculation. Sometimes there is a breakthrough, and we get lucky.
Technology can help soften the landing, but it's hard to overcome the laws of physics. FF's have provided an incredibly cheap and useful source of energy and it is more likely we will do without than succeed at replacing them, in the short term.

Now, what are the chances that a combo ethanol+hybrid battery car would be able to effectively replace the ICE.

Replace? Maybe 10-20 percent of the existing vehicles. High cost, limited availability of trace minerals (and major ones like lithium) may limit production. Ethanol from corn? Forget it. Maybe cellulosic or switchgrass or jatropha will help, but not at the cost of starving the world population. So replace, yes, but most of the world population will have to transition to some other sort of transportation.

What about a hydrogen car? is that completely out of the question, if so, why?

Unfortunately it is out of the question, unless we can find a source of hydrogen other than natural gas. If we make H2 by electrolysis we need electricity to run it. If that's done using Coal, CO2 emissions are a major problem. No panacea.

... How will solar arrays and tidal energy plants affect the grid?

If we could master energy storage it might be that solar, wind, and tidal might amount to 10-15 percent of current electricity within say 10 years. Hirsch was right in saying the alternatives play a minor role if we haven't enough lead time before the transition. But we don't have much energy storage so we have to get building some soon! Hydroelectric (raised lake) storage might help. Batteries might help (though it would take a lot of them.) Electrolysis of water into H2? It will probably be a combination of many technologies. Getting the investment is the hardest part.

I think energy efficiency is the major low-hanging fruit. Jim Hansen said after a presentation last week that our best short term source of energy (and CO2 reduction) is to improve efficiency. I'm inclined to agree.

This is a great Friday topic. The problems are not insurmountable, though many solutions will only be for the very few who can afford them. We need to start looking forward; it's so very hard to do seeing the paucity of easy solutions. We need a champion....


Chris, thank you for a great piece of information, I believe you have answered my question.

I agree that efficiency is our greatest tool, but it is a tool limited in it's ability to impact a final solution.

Just wanted to express my appreciation for this well thought out response, if this was the first response I got to my question, I doubt I would have asked anything else, so thanks very much, and please try to get here earlier in the day next time, haha just kidding.

Thanks again chris.

UK: Oil prices force Treasury inflation re-think

If they do this then the next financial statement would require an increase in taxation to keep their precious criteria fulfilled. That's against a backdrop that says there are no easy places to drop another tax bomb.

Anyone want to bet we'll have more aggressive carbon cap and trade, even personal carbon allocations in the next budget? On particular on transport hydrocarbon use? Maybe carbon rations for households?

AFAIK they are just intending to look for another fudge and borrow more.
Of course, bad inflationary figures and an interest rate rise to support Sterling may make this non-sustainable - the last recession they started with a budget surplus of 2% and at the bottom were well in the red, they are currently at around 3.5% deficit on their generous growth assumptions before a downturn starts.
Something has got to give, with the balance of payments £50 billion in the red and sinking with every increase in oil prices.

As I suggested, borrowing is out because of the economic situation and their criteria. Somehow I don't see them cutting spending yet, so it has to be taxes, but hidden.

Enter Envirotaxman.

It's been said before, but it makes it to the top stories at Yahoo! finance today:

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Record corn prices pushed up by flooding in the Midwest have forced five small to mid-sized U.S. ethanol plants to shut and output of the biofuel could be slowed for months, a Citi research note said on Friday.


Of course it must be due solely to the nasty weather - can't be the Law of Receding Horizons!

The article was titled:

"Ethanol plants shut on record corn price"

That says it all. My daughter lives in western Iowa where they have built ethanol plants that have never opened. Nor does it seem likely that they ever will open. Maybe they can distill some new variety of Iowa whiskey?

So the ethanol industry is looking
to use milo AKA grain sorghum.

So when you try to grow your fuel above ground, doesn't that make everything an "above-ground" factor?

I just took the 2007 oil consumption figures from the BP database, and put in a column for population. Here is what I found (I used the unit of Barrels per 1000 population per year):

The US uses about 25. Other "Rich" countries use a lot less (France & Germany about 11; Scandanavia and Japan about 15). If we could lower our usage to German levels, this would save about 7 mbpd.

Also interesting is that China is growing their economy on 2.17, India on 0.89. Most of Africa is living on about 0.71.

interesting work..thanks. I would have thought Japan would be a much lower consumer.

Depends on how much coal they're also using.

I think those numbers are per person per year, not per 1000 persons?

You are correct. Otherwise we wouldn't need this blog.

I think this may be misleading too. China, as I understand it, as a whole, is approaching US levels of consumption. It's just that they have a helluva lot more people. Same for India. So their potential for growth is scary.

I think it misleading to group people by geographical regions, which are completely arbitrary. Otherwise why not group people by language, or favorite color, or whether they eat Tofu?

Per capita is the only sensible metric.

"Consumption by non-Tofu eaters as a whole is approaching the same level of consumption as Tofu eaters, but there is more of them so potential for growth is scary".

Superb article this morning published on Alternet:

Zapped! How Irradiation Is Threatening Our Food System

I think there is some relevance to peak oil in this issue. As energy becomes scarcer and electricity supplies become unreliable, people will want to buy food that doesn't spoil easily. Irradiation offers that possibility. It also offers the possibility of cancers, birth defects, and pre-mature death.

I call bull. Dangerous, deep and ignorant.

If irradiation is such a problem I demand that everyone opposed to it stop eating food irradiated with microwave or infrared radiation immediately!

Throwing a few electrons at food to kill germs a few centimeters in isn't going to alter the chemistry of food more than cooking it is, in fact the alteration is less than cooking as immediately apparent by the lack of a change in appearance of the food products in question.

Furthermore, electron radiation (the sort used in electron pasturisation, the sort of irradiation the ignorant or psychotic are currently up in arms over) is totally incapable of causing nuclear changes to the target which could yield radioactive byproducts. You need neutron radiation or very high energy gamma radiation for that outcome.

Best hopes for Steak Tartar
(Sorry Alan, couldn't resist)

And why would irradiation offer possibilities of cancers, etc. None of the proposed food irradiation schemes make the food radioactive. The sole purpose is to completely sterilize the food, so that microraganisms cannot grow in it. Sure some of the complex organic chemical bonds are broken by the ionizing radiation. But these chemical degradations are very much less than what happens during cooking, or digestion. Or the old traditional chemical preservatives, such as salt and spices. This is the same sort of new-age urban myth that we had when microwaves started to become common.

Whether or not you think we needed to start mitigaiton 20 years ago or not(and there is no evidence we need to do that) you have to admit we have well over 100 years of infrastructure with which to work with.

Transport By Barge on the Erie Canal Uses a Tenth of The Fuel of a Truck

Rising fuel prices are pushing shippers to take a new look at an old way to deliver their goods - the Erie Canal. "Our inquiries are definitely up," said Capt. Rob Goldman, of New York State Marine Highway Transportation Co., the largest shipper on the state's 524-mile canal system.


Do you disagree with the Hirsch Report's detailed examination of why mitigation could take 20 years? Where do you think he went wrong?

He must be wrong - obviously he did not come up with the correct answer

HIrsch doesn't even talk about conservation.


plus we have the massive opportunity costs of early mitigation. suppose we decided in 1980 to generate all of our power from wind. wind turbines were a lot smaller. imagine the billions and billions wasted by putting up wind turbines when todays are more efficient. we'd have to tear down the old ones and replace them with the new turbines that are much larger. same with solar. we have so much better solar technology today than we did years ago.

there is a cost to early mitigation.

And what's the opportunity cost to doing nothing and/or being very late? FAR, FAR greater, which makes your point above foolish. At best, moot.

Why they put up with your prattling all over these boards I will never know...You repeat the same inane, poorly argued crap over and over.

Is there any reason the rapid increase in the size of the turbines that we've see in this decade could not have happened in the eighties? Are you suggesting the technology would have stagnated?

I don't think you really thought through what you're saying.

They tried , and had reliability issues.

I'm used to seeing two figures quoted for oil production, ~74mbpd for crude alone and ~85mbpd which includes NGL, refinery gain etc. However the BP report quotes a figure of 81.5mbpd, so it is clearly using a different metric.


What are they measuring compared with the other two, and are there charts of that metric plotted over time available?


It all comes together here: a self-perpetuating downward spiral.

The article up top about Iran storing oil in about 14 tankers...I found this May 23rd article that claims it is more like 20 (20 mb).


I have read the reason is that they are unable to sell it because of the crude quality. Then there is the military speculation. Then there is the speculator speculation. Or maybe they are just f'ing with us.

Last I heard (beginning of this week) there had been 14 VLCCs used as floating storage in the Gulf but the Iranians had sold 7 of them mostly into the Mediterranean market. I have no link to that, sorry, but my source is usually reliable.

Two comments:
(1) Some of the claims that the world is well supplied with oil, since some is being stored rather than immediately sold. We really have at least two oil markets, light sweet, and heavy. The utility of the heavy is pretty low, until some new refineries come online. Then the world oil supply will gradually transition from being primarily satisfied by light oil, to being mainly supplied by heavy oil. The question is how quickly this transition can ocurr, and how much heavy oil production will be available.

(2) This stored heavy oil will presumably be sold/processed, when the new refineries come online. Hopefully the relative scarcity of diesel will be relieved by this transition. With any luch perhaps the processing of higher sulfur oil will relieve the runaway cost of sulfur.

When the world is run on heavy oil, we will have entered a paradigm shift. All processing will be more expensive, more polluting and it will require more source product to satisfy demand than was needed for light crude. Refiners will require more frequent maintanence shutdowns. There will be more waste product.

I believe we have taken baby steps into this new world already. We are trying like crazy to keep up with the demand of refined product using increasing inferior source product. We have lagged in building the necessary tools (refineries) to process this product to market probably because it is not as profitable as the old method. So, the demand is still there, but companies are not going to upgrade just to make people happy, they have to do it only if it's going to be profitable.

Rock on, free market mechanics!!

Indeed. A lot of people assume that things will fall apart when it's no longer possible to do them but the way the world is run today things generally stop not when it's impossible but when it's not profitable.

The Bloomberg article also cited refineries that processed their high sulfur oil were down for maintenance. Hmmm, some might smell a conspiracy as the there is more U.S. led efforts to economically isolate/pressure Iran.

Is it possible to purchase gas produced in the USA ..."American Gasoline" .. ?

I received an e-mail stating ......

The following gas companies import Middle Eastern oil
Shell.................................... 205,742,000
Chevron/Texaco.................... 144,332,000 barrels
Exxon /Mobil........................ 130,082,000 barrels
Marathon/Speedway............. 117,740,000 barrels
Amoco.................................. 62,231,000 barrels

And CITGO oil is imported from Venezuela by Dictator Hugo Chavez who hates America and openly avows our economic destruction! (We pay Chavez's regime nearly $10 Billion per year in oil revenues!)The U.S. currently imports 5,517,000 barrels of crude oil per day from OPEC. If you do the math at $100 per barrel, that's over $550 million PER DAY ($200 BILLION per year!) handed over to OPEC, many of whose members are our confirmed enemies!!!!! It won't stop here - oil prices could go to $200 a barrel or higher if we keep buying their product.Here are some large companies that do not import Middle Eastern oil:
Sunoco......................... 0 barrels
Conoco........................ 0 barrels
Sinclair....................... 0 barrels
BP / Phillips................ 0 barrels
Hess. ............................. 0 barrels
ARC0........................... 0 barrels
Maverick......................... 0 barrels
Flying J. .......................... 0 barrels
Valero............................ 0 barrels
Murphy Oil USA* ............... 0 Sold at Wal-Mart , gas is from South Arkansas and fully USA owned and produced.

What would be a good response ?

Buy the gasoline along the way, preferably from the refinery closest to you. NEVER drive out of your way to get a particular brand.

Minimize total miles driven and total energy used in transportation is our best choice.


Definition of "dictator" in US dictionary:

Doesn't do what we tell them to

Not included in the US definition:

Stole election.

Spied on political opponents.

Started war of aggression.

Practiced torture as policy.

Filled up Dept. of Justice with extremists who believed the Presidency has "near-limitless" power.

So that pretty much leaves what you mentioned.

a few minor points. i think you mean conoco/phillips. arco is a bp brand. murphy oil is an ioc.

That just-posted Forbes story on Europe as the grim example of what's to come was chilling. I see that's Europe's received a lot of praise here, and rightly so, as an example of where North America needs to go, conservation-wise. But the article makes it sound like, well, it's too damn late.

Tim Russert, dead at 58 of a heart attack, according to his family.

The best, in my opinion.

Rest in peace, Tim.

Breaking: http://nytimes.com/

That is truly horrible. He was the best man on TV. I watch Meet The Press every Sunday, and think it's the best news show on. That's going to be very hard on his family.

Just saw that also. Sad and Shocking.

Friday the 13th has not been good luck for young Russ. He was taken from us too soon. Really enjoyed his Meet the Press show.

Rest in peace Tim.
You won't have to worry anymore about the Market or Technology or Presidential Candidates saving us from whatever.

We are worry and argue here about what is going to happen and what we are going to do years or decades from now. This should serve as a reminder to all of us here that each day is a gift, and that we should appreciate each day and live it to the fullest. We shouldn't take it for granted that there will be more of those days; if we are fortunate, maybe so, but then again, maybe not. We are mortals, and "man knows not his time".

I would like the show's replacement to be a rotating tagteam of WT, T. Boone Pickens, AlanfromBigEasy, Matt Simmons, Dave Cohen, Stuart Staniford, Stoneleigh, Ilargi, and Ace, backed up by the statistical wizardry of Khebab, Rembrandt, Darwinian, etc.

First guests to EXXON & BP's topdogs. :)

But I bet Yergin & Lynch are more likely to get seated first as the show's hosts. :(

Do Simmons & Picken's have the buck$$$ to just buy the show outright?

Also--RIP, Tim.

EDIT: OOPs--Nate Hagens too. While I still dreaming--IMAGINE Jay Hanson, James Hansen, JHK, and Jeff Vail tearing apart the invited guests in a new televised 'Inquisition'. :)

EDIT2: basically all the TopTODers/ASPO chiefs rolling into the host seats with Matt & T. Boone--Gail & Leanan, too, if they so desire.

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

Tim Russert was a one of a kind act. I doubt that a TOD tag team could replace him.

That said, did anyone see this morning's Today Show where Mat Lauer did a piece entitled, "Are we Running Out of Oil"?

NBC's conclusion: We have 40 years of "reserves" in the ground. Don't worry your pretty little heads about "running out". Now let's shift focus out to the Plaza where the next celebrity is waiting to perform under the circus awning.

Tim, now that you're up there in the place of truths, you can see through the facades. But it's too late to turn NBC toward the truth. The masters of merchandising must be served. R.I.P. good chap.

Very sad news indeed. The world has lost a decent and honourable man as well as a damn good reporter.

My condolences to his family.


Hello TODers,

Upper Midwest flooding forces evacuations, floods roads

..railroad bridge collapsed.

...Amtrak's California Zephyr line was suspended across Iowa because of flooding along the BNSF Railway.
Obviously, saving lives is the first concern, but I wonder if those more familiar with the geography of this area would comment about infrastructure damage, and the possible regional or national ramifications as time goes on.

Does the loss of this railway bridge logjam for a longtime coal, fertilizer, grain, etc, train deliveries? Is there a workable detour, and how many miles is it? 50 miles, 100, 300 miles?

Does the collapsed railbridge in the river, plus other debris, totally halt any river barge deliveries? How long till the bridge is cleared to restore barge transit? 2,3 years to get a new bridge up and running?

Any other bridges for vehicles or trains expected to go down? Flooded grains in grain-elevators?

Power plants flood-damaged so regional grid goes down soon? Or they run out of coal because of bad transport logistics?

Thxs for any replies.

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

Upthread I asked Alan if there were any preparations underway in his part of the country to mitigate the effects of the Mississippi possibly jumping over into the Atchafalaya. This is another disaster just waiting to happen. There's a lot of water headed towards New Orleans.

How long will it take for the addl water to make it's way down to Nawlins?

I live in Omaha, and remember the Great Flood of '93. This is significantly worse for many areas. I drove south along I-29 40 miles and back yesterday, and saw huge fields of young corn standing in water. Same across large areas of Iowa and other corn-growing states. The prospects of a good corn crop this year are greatly diminished. There may be time to salvage a decent soybean crop if this dries up quickly.

Regarding transport-- a good stretch of Interstate 80 is closed in eastern Iowa, and that's a major east-west transportation corridor. I dont think the Cedar River is much used by barges though.

Cedar Rapids is under water. Des Moines is getting there. There are a lot of other cities downstream...we'll see. What doesn't make the headlines as much is that there are hundreds of other small towns throughout Iowa and other states, farming communities adjacent to smaller streams, that are under threat themselves of damaging floods.

Between the killer tornado season and this flooding, people are getting pretty frazzled out here in the midlands.

Thxs for the heads-up report!

The biggest impact will probably be the massive rise in corn price. It was already a serious issue in Mexico (at maybe half of todays price). I imagine a lot of corn to ethanol plants are looking at losing a lot of money this year as well. These knockon effects will have significant impacts on many millions of people around the world.

Hello TODers,

Great reading!

Our Ruined Harvest
As corn and soy fields drown in rainwater, the food crisis deepens..

From the "Lets see then" dept.

T. Boone Pickens continues his bad energy news tour, wants to be a player in the fall election

Pickens said he is not impressed by either candidate on energy issues and plans to elevate the issue into this year's presidential election campaign through a series of television ads talking about energy.

"I'm going to force this into this campaign. We'll see if I have the credibility to force it into the debate."

This is going to be interesting. Pickens is definitely in the "peak now" camp.


And Boone--lifelong Republican and Texas oilman--endorsed a much higher gasoline tax, offset by cutting the payroll tax, before Al Gore did.

Interesting. From the press release

Press Release:

Boone Pickens: U.S. in Energy Crisis

HOUSTON, June 12 /PRNewswire/ -- Billionaire oilman T. Boone Pickens says energy is in a crisis in the U.S. and should be the No. 1 campaign issue for the presidential candidates. Pickens spoke at Oil and Gas Investor's Energy Capital Forum in Houston Tuesday.

"Energy is not a debate; it's a crisis for this country," Pickens said. "We cannot continue down the path we're on. It's that desperate."

The trouble is, politicians don't want to talk about bad news, since it tends to keep them from being elected. They would rather talk about killing Iraqis and Iranians, since those folks aren't going to be voting in the next election, in spite of the possibility that starting a larger war might well make things worse.

Remember Mondale telling folks that he was going to raise taxes? Well, try telling the voters that you want to raise gasoline taxes. If you get out the door without being lynched, you would be lucky. The problem is that there's no easy, cheap solution. It's going to take a lot of pain to get thru this, that is, assuming there actually is a way to solve the problem without a massive reduction in population...

E. Swanson

Telling people to wear a sweater or thinking about making recreational boating illegal is also not popular.

assuming there actually is a way to solve the problem without a massive reduction in population...

Total Energy used = Number of people X Rate of energy use.

If the total is dropping and the rate is to remain the same or increase - hard to balance the equation.

The media doesn't want to cover it either. It interfers with the selling of cars, and beer. So T. Boone could be forcing the issue into the publics attention. Perhaps the candidates won't get to fall back onto BAU (ignoring tough unpleasant issues).

The boss of Shell takes energy shortages seriously too - here he is answering some e-mail questions, this one on peak oil:

I have been warning for sometime about the end of the “easy oil” era, and I think the message is slowly beginning to sink in. And so is the logical consequence: we need all the energy we can get.
What is less obvious to many people is that even if we develop and deploy all the energy we can together - including unconventional oil and natural gas, including alternative energy, including nuclear and including more coal - we will still struggle to match demand

His other comments are well worth a read too.

This is the best news I have heard regarding the elections.

Hello TODers,

French grain stocks swell as world supply shrinks
Does France increasingly seem to be on the proper postPeak trend?

* lots of electrified RR + TOD, more coming

* nuke generation

* safety stocks of grain

* bicycle programs

As AlanfromBigEasy says, "..hope our bureaucrats soon imitate the French".

I certainly hope so, that's why I moved myself and family here to improve our postPeak chances back in 2005.

Also France spends a considerable amount of money to keep people on the land and protect its farmer's. The original network of villages and towns are still in place and localisation is already deeply ingrained in French society.

As I'm myself starting an Organic micro-farm, I've been visiting various Organic farms over the last few month's. These are commercial farms, surviving in the harsh environment of today's FF madness. In two weeks, I'm visiting a 6 acre organic vegetable farm which is worked by one man by himself. I'm especially interested in seeing how on earth he manages to do it.

Unfortunately, FFs still play a major role in Organic farming, but I believe further efficiencies can be made (I'm using a micro-tractor for instance). I also attended a farm giving a demonstration of horse powered field work and was pleasantly surprised how efficient it was. But, as with oil, the future production of food is going to be both expensive and with declining output (temperature in my polytunnel this morning is 6°c).

Keep up the research into NPK.

In two weeks, I'm visiting a 6 acre organic vegetable farm which is worked by one man by himself. I'm especially interested in seeing how on earth he manages to do it.

Please do post on the findings!


Does anyone have a rough estimate of light sweet crude's percentage of world oil productions and/or reserves?

I asked this question yesterday I think..but the reverse...how much of it is for heavy sour...someone responded that the Oil and Gas journal had something..where heavy sour was trending upwards..but not significantly. Alan I think said this is not really tracked.

Is your suburb beginning to die? Here in Virginia I live in a suburb where fast food restaurants are closing left and right, in addition to the local rite-aid and other local businesses which have closed up shop. I was wondering if anyone else is experiencing this in their area?

the suburb you mentioned probably isn't dying it's just going through a housing bust. the housing bust if far worse right now than peak oil.

Not really considering most homes in my area have been around for 40 years or so, and there has been no boom to speak of. I think that it has a lot to do with the credit/bank crisis and $4 gas.

john15= doofus

I live in a suburb where fast food restaurants are closing left and right,

Never mind fast food contraction, in my neighborhood it is the gas stations that are closing up & going out of business for good --that is the worry.

And now Exxon has announced they are closing all their retail gasoline stations. What's the economic rationale for that?

I read they were just selling them and they would still be using the same name. I guess most Exxon stations are not owned by them but licensed to use their name or some similar arrangement. I wonder who is going to buy them though?

Apparently they aren't able to pass on their costs to consumers. Also, most Exxon stations are not owned by ExxonMobil, or so says the press release.

I don't know if anyone has pointed this out yet, but the arctic sea ice is now in record low territory:

Time to wake up and smell the methane.

There's some noise in that data, so I wouldn't be jumping up and down just yet. Perhaps by 4 July, if the steep drop seen in June 2007 is repeated, we may start to squirm a bit. For my money, the minimum reached at the end of the melt season is the most important data to monitor.

E. Swanson

There's some noise in that data, so I wouldn't be jumping up and down just yet.

Then go to the same site and look at the multi-year ice... I will guarantee you now, less some relatively freakish weather, this year will at least rival last year, give or take, if not blow it away. In the short term, the health of the multi-year ice is more important because it has a strong impact on the long term trend which will determine the long term albedo. If all the multi-year ice disappears, there is a much higher chance of a full melt every year. That would play hell with climate... all that melt ALSO is causing a greater release of methane and CO2 from the permafrost.

As noted at the site that graphic came from, because so much ice melted last year, there's more new ice in the higher latitudes. Logically, it may be possible for some of that to survive and result in rebound during the next cycle. I'm sure you realize that wouldn't be very meaningful unless it persisted for a number of years. The trend down is a very long trend at this point.


I read on TOD:

"The first well drilled in the Tupi field cost 240 million dollars, a number that fell to 60 million in later field assessments."


Had read this elsewhere on the internet also.

It is true that deep water developments cost more than on land developments in terms of time and materials. Whether or not deep water developments will be in time to prevent peak oil from occurring in the next ten years is open to speculation.

Prudhoe Bay peaked at about 1.5 million barrels per day. Current production was under 300,000 barrels per day. Total North Slope production was under 800,000 barrels per day in 2006:


Some satellite developments may add to current production including heavy oil deposits, Pt. Thompson condensates, successful wildcats in the Alaska-NPR, prospects in the Arctic Ocean, and inferred oil deposits in ANWR.

Hello TODers,

As you well know, I have been pushing for the hopeful ramp-up of massive O-NPK recycling as we go postPeak; as I-NPK heads toward Unobtainium. Here is some more useful info:

[Press Release] Soaring prices and climate change expose fertilisers as economically and environmentally unsustainable

As oil and gas prices rise so does the price of artificial chemical fertilisers - the lynch-pin of industrial agriculture’s claims to be ‘efficient’ [1]. In the UK, the price of nitrogen fertiliser has doubled over the past year to around £330 per tonne. With oil currently at over $130 a barrel and with OPEC warning it could reach $200 by the end of the year, it has been suggested that fertilisers could hit £500 a tonne. At these prices, the claimed efficiency of fossil-fuel and fertiliser dependent industrial farming begins to collapse...
Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Bob, are you most concerned with shortages of potassium or phosphorous? Presumably energy costs aside Nitrogen is a lot more freely available.

Hello Davemart,

Thxs for responding. My newbie-study is still continuing, but my intial impression matches yours that P & K will be the postPeak toughie to hurdle. Very few mineable locations, high-energy inputs plus bigbucks$ sulfur to beneficiate, then the additional energy expenditure requirement for global dispersement.

Crop rotation for organic-N, and hopefully TODer SCT's efforts for windturbine--> electricity--> ammonia to help provide industrial-N.

Some types of O-NPK, if heavily water-leached by some method, can be relatively low in N. That is one reason why dry batcave guano is more N-potent than a batcave that had water leaching through the residue. Same with seabird islands that got little rain. The Atacama Desert, one of the driest spots in the world, also was prized for its nitrates:


[ABSTRACT]....Taken together, nitrate and OC chemistry in these soils reveals that the pervasive nitrate accumulations of the hyperarid core of the Atacama desert are the result of an incomplete soil N cycle, in which slow but continuous inputs of atmospherically-derived nitrate outpace insignificant hydrological losses and biological additions.
The important topsoil theme to remember is the total NPK and trace nutrient BALANCE so a Liebig Minimum is not reached. Pouring excess of one Element while you are ignoring depletion of another will still result in a low to no crop yield. Someone could get rich off of inventing new hand-held equipment for cheap, fast, reliable, real-time soil testing.

Simple way to think of it is an SUV without sparkplugs; you can custom mount lots of tires, even four/axle, but it still won't go anywhere. Vice Versa too: 2 sparkplugs/cylinder, but no tires & wheels, you are still stuck. It is the proper balance that makes the vehicle [topsoil & plants] go at topspeed.

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

Bob - I have been reading your posts since I've started reading TOD. And I just read some of your work on wired science. I think I get it now. I can almost say I understand what you are saying now. And I have the same feeling I had with becoming peak oil aware as i have just recently had with becoming peak fertilizer aware. How are we gonna feed all these people! Keep on posting!

Every day I wake up, and when the fog clears I thank God I'm alive. And then it occurs to mw: we're all going to die.

Er Um.......do you mean sooner, or later? Of course we are all gonna die, that's part of being an ANIMAL!

Perhaps immersion in eastern philosophy would help some peak oilers. They say: "you have to die before you die so that when you die you don't die". Ain't the human mind a wonderfully complex thing. Suggest Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj - a few times through his 101 questions ought to clear your mind for good.

Depends what you mean by collapse. I can see very easily just a few Internet companies going bankrupt at first. Other companies will just route their traffic around them.

I can also see the industry not letting certain key companies go under that run the main interchanges (the name for them escapes me at the moment) or at least they will operate the servers somehow.

But the companies that operate at the edges of the Internet can very easily go bankrupt. What if people decided that cable TV was too expensive and Comast went under? No "the Internet" would not technically be down but for the millions of Comcast customers it will feel like it.

Repeat with other last mile companies going down and we'll have access just at the public libraries, which will be packed and even they might have trouble hopping from company to company as each goes bankrupt.

I think we are much more vulnerable than people appreciate.


I apparently hit the wrong little graphic; this was in reply to someone saying that they couldn't see the Internet collapsing.