DrumBeat: June 19, 2008

The future of energy

A fundamental change is coming sooner than you might think

SINCE the industrial revolution 200 years ago, mankind has depended on fossil fuel. The notion that this might change is hard to contemplate. Greens may hector. Consciences may nag. The central heating's thermostat may turn down a notch or two. A less thirsty car may sit in the drive. But actually stop using the stuff? Impossible to imagine: surely there isn't a serious alternative?

Such a failure of imagination has been at the heart of the debate about climate change. The green message — use less energy — is not going to solve the problem unless economic growth stops at the same time. If it does not (and it won't), any efficiency saving will soon be eaten up by higher consumption per head. Even the hair-shirt option, then, will bring only short-term relief. And when a dire prophecy from environmentalism's jeremiad looks as if it is coming true, as the price of petroleum rises through the roof and the idea that oil might run out is no longer whispered in corners but openly discussed, there is a temptation to believe that the end of the world is, indeed, nigh.

Ban on hedge fund oil investments considered

The latest plan circulating in Congress would ban large institutional investors from trading commodities altogether. It's a radical idea that might sound appealing to motorists and small business owners, but experts say it would actually do little to lower prices and could have the opposite effect.

Why is Nigerian oil militant attack significant?


Militant attacks on oil installations in Nigeria have mostly targeted facilities in the shallow creeks of the Niger Delta, where pipeline bombings and kidnappings of expatriate oil workers have been frequent.

Thursday's attack targeted Shell's Bonga oilfield, which lies some 120 km (75 miles) off the Nigerian coast.

Such offshore facilities have been considered safer and easier to protect and attacks of this kind have been relatively rare. International oil companies have been focusing investment offshore partly because of the perceived lower risk.

The puzzle of oil production: Why the Saudis are worried about the high price of crude

The Saudis fear that the intensified search by the West for alternative energy will result in the same thing happening again. But the more immediate worry is that high oil prices may slow not just America's but the whole world's economy. That would trigger a sharp fall in demand for Saudi oil. Just as bad, a sharp global slowdown would slash the value of the kingdom's hundreds of billions of dollars in overseas holdings. No wonder Ali al-Nuaimi, like his predecessors as Saudi oil minister, often cites “customer satisfaction” and “market stability”.

Saudi Arabia announces 200,000 bpd output hike

LONDON (AFP) - Saudi Arabia said Thursday it planned to increase daily oil output by 200,000 barrels per day, according to a statement posted on the country's London embassy website.

"Saudi Arabia recently announced a plan to increase oil output by 200,000 barrels per day," the statement said, ahead of a weekend meeting of consumers and producers in Jeddah to discuss sky-high crude prices.

West Australia gas crisis goes national

The West Australian gas crisis continues to grow in importance with the Federal Government finally recognising its national potential.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd told federal parliament yesterday that the gas explosion will slow exports and growth and also "flow through" to the national economy.

He said the blast will have a "significant'' impact on gas supplies.

Calls to examine Varanus explosion

A ROYAL commission should be held into a gas plant explosion that led to West Australia's energy crisis, the state Opposition says.

Opposition energy spokesman John Day yesterday said the crisis was having a big impact on the major economy and the public had a right to know how it happened and how it could be prevented from happening again.

We Are Paying the Price for Emerging Market Subsidies

Yesterday morning during my morning commute, I heard an story on the radio that’s a sobering sign of the times. As I was blowing cash out my tail-pipe on my nearly 40-mile drive to the office, a guy on the radio described his own plight. He’s in worse shape than me.

At least my 6-cyclinder Chrysler Sebring convertible gets decent gas mileage for my long commute. The guy on the radio talked about how he was “stuck” in his Ford Excursion – unable to afford to fuel it up, but unable to trade it in for a reasonable price either.

Is Gazprom right to forecast $250 oil for the next year?

The emerging markets are going to have to become more efficient in their use of energy, just as the industrialised countries did in the 1970s. As the BP Annual Statistical Review of World Energy states high oil prices in 2007 actually led to a one per cent fall in US and EU combined oil consumption of 35.6 million barrels per day, while the thirsty emerging markets demanded four per cent more oil and consumed 36.2 million barrels per day.

If the emerging markets became more thrifty energy consumers that would go along way to solving the demand side of the oil price equation. In fact, high oil prices will force emerging markets to become more efficient in energy use but this will take time; and in the meantime higher oil prices look inevitable, sustained by cheap money from the Federal Reserve.

Gulf eyes oil-for-food pacts

DUBAI - Recent attempts by Persian Gulf countries to invest in farmlands abroad to counter soaring inflation and guarantee long-term food security could prove to be a win-win situation in the short term for both the oil-rich region and its investment-hungry neighbors, but continued high oil prices may neutralize the gains in the long-run, say experts.

That '70s feeling

No, the 1970s were not a good decade for Britain. In 1974, Conservative prime minister Edward Heath imposed a three-day workweek to reduce energy use. That didn't stop inflation hitting 25 per cent by 1975. A year later, James Callaghan, the Labour prime minister, asked the International Monetary Fund for £2.3 billion -- about $6 billion -- in emergency funds to keep the country afloat.

During the "winter of discontent" in 1978, most everybody -- miners, tanker drivers, gravediggers -- went on strike. Gas stations ran out of fuel. Supermarket shelves were sometimes empty. Bodies went unburied.

Indonesia: Living with $150-$200 oil

As oil prices have continued to surge to a new record of more than US$140 a barrel, the 28 percent increase in domestic fuel prices introduced by the government on May 24 has become less effective in reducing subsidies, consumption and smuggling overseas.

China's cheap fuel underpins global oil price spike

BEIJING: To find out why global crude prices are at historic highs, look no further than Christina Lu and her silver Honda Odyssey.

A beneficiary of China's artificially cheap gasoline, she drives as though the world's energy resources are limitless.

Nepal fuel price protesters stone cars

KATHMANDU (Reuters) - Hundreds of Nepali student activists, demanding a roll back of fuel prices and transport fares, stoned or set fire to several vehicles in the capital Kathmandu on Thursday, police said.

State-run Nepal Oil Corporation increased petrol and diesel prices by about 25 percent last week saying the move was needed to cut losses due to a global oil price rise and to meet a domestic fuel shortage.

Nepal: Industries siphoning off public-use fuel

Staffers of the eastern regional office of the Nepal Oil Corporation, in connivance with the dealers, are supplying petroleum products meant for domestic use to industrial units. As a result, private and public vehicle operators here are facing fuel shortage, despite the price hike.

Small shortage in Canada as cars shipped to U.S.

TORONTO -- Americans are buying so many smaller vehicles in the wake of higher gasoline prices that they're causing product shortages in Canada.

Dealers "are complaining that they can't get entry level product," Dennis DesRosiers, president of DesRosiers Automotive Consultants, said yesterday in a research note to clients. "Ever since the Americans got religion and started buying smaller vehicles, markets like Canada around the world are having a hard time finding available product in the system."

Shrinking fuel supplies causing mad scramble: Public bus service may be halted today

TIJUANA – Truck and bus drivers experienced a day of chaos in Tijuana yesterday, as they chased a dwindling supply of diesel fuel. Today was shaping up to be even worse.

For weeks, drivers from the United States have snapped up Mexican diesel, which is selling for about 50 percent less than in California.

That has resulted in a shortage of the fuel, and gas stations nearest the border crossings started halting or limiting sales last weekend.

U.S. Auto Sales in June May Decline to 15-Year Low

(Bloomberg) -- U.S. vehicle sales may plunge to their lowest in more than 15 years this month as soaring gasoline prices leave dealers with too many big trucks and a shortage of fuel-efficient small cars, analysts said.

Diesel spike means rough times for seafood sales

Even a decent haul of fish can mean a loss, once fuel is paid for and the crew gets its share. Raising the price of the fish barely softens the blow. Even a 29 percent boost falls short of the spike in fuel prices.

Kansans adjust to gas prices, make it to games

Other organizers worry that the summer of 2008 isn't the true test of how the sports world — recreational and competitive, youth and adult, Big Seven and Big 12 — will respond to rising costs brought on by gas prices.

How might sportsmen and fans deal with prices at $4.50, even $5? The question is never far from anybody's mind.

Heat and power plants could triple their energy output, report says

The energy produced by power plants that provide both heat and electricity could be almost tripled in the UK, according to an analysis of nine industrial sites. So-called combined heat and power (CHP) plants are far more efficient than conventional power stations because they harness heat that is normally wasted, by piping it to industrial or domestic users.

A new 'Manhattan Project'

In the early days of World War II, it became entirely apparent that Hitler was working on developing nuclear fission, the end result likely being the catastrophic instrument known as the atomic bomb. Leaders of the United States, Britain and Canada put into motion the Manhattan Project, which was summarily created to understand the scientific ramifications and develop a bomb of our own. The rest is history.

One could easily argue that the threat of Hitler's bomb is not far off from the threat of sky-high fuel. The end result is similar, a complete disintegration of our social structure as we know it.

Nuclear Dreams: Will the Next Atomic Age Ever Come?

While there are 34 reactors under construction around the world, a dozen of them—including one in the U.S.—have been in the works for 20 years. Projects from Finland to China are routinely delayed and over-budget.

The report, written by a Greenpeace nuclear policy analyst and thus no fan of nuclear power, highlights the usual suspects that have hamstrung the nuclear revival so far: a shortage of construction materials and higher-than-expected costs for construction. That’s without mentioning one big bugbear facing nuclear power in the U.S.—what do with all the toxic waste. There’s also the question of where to get the fuel from to run the reactors.

ARB takes to the waves

First the cars and trucks, then the factories, trains and earth movers. Now, the ships at sea: Air Resources Board is entering new waters.

The ARB is going after ocean-going vessels, especially those container ships that ply the coast of California and belch soot from huge engines that burn pollutant-rich form of diesel oil called bunker fuel.

Sue OPEC: Acting brazenly as a cartel, the organization is breaking U.S. antitrust laws.

OPEC may call itself an "organization," but everyone knows that it is, pure and simple, a cartel that manipulates markets, restricts output and fixes prices. The United States and the European Union have vigorously prosecuted other multinational cartels for doing the same thing in the vitamin, lysine, computer chip and elevator/escalator markets. Swiss healthcare company F. Hoffmann-La Roche, for instance, paid a $500-million fine to the U.S. in 1999 for its part in a years-long scheme to raise prices on vitamin products. Just last year, British Airways and Korean Air each paid a $300-million fine to the U.S. for fixing international cargo rates.

But when it comes to oil, the U.S. gets squeamish. For nearly 50 years, the members of OPEC have openly operated as a cartel. OPEC's statutory provisions even state that its mission is "the coordination and unification of the petroleum policies of member countries and the determination of the best means for safeguarding their interests, individually and collectively."

Coalminers' slaughter: in US, they blow up mountains for coal

KAYFORD, West Virginia (AFP) - The traditional lifestyle of the Appalachian peaks of West Virginia is under threat from mining companies who blow the summits off mountains to reach the coal deposits that lie beneath the surface.

The Great Oil Deception: Part Three

"Oil Production in the United States is in a permanent decline."

This is one of the loudest of all claims by oil bulls, and the one stated with the most smug self satisfaction, a seemingly impregnable statement that no one with even half a brain could possibly refute. This claim is usually made in conjunction with some comment about M. King Hubbert, and his prescient statement about the aforementioned peak, complete with the required head bowing and reverence for the so called "messiah" of the peak oil movement.

Cap-and-Trade Plans Will Require Draconian Lifestyle Restrictions

Imagine every American being given a plastic debit card entitling them to release carbon dioxide (CO2). Filling the gas tank would debit the card for the CO2 caused by the amount of gasoline purchased. Lamb chops would debit the card for the greenhouse gases caused by sheep. Buying an airplane ticket would debit the card for the CO2 released by the jet engines.

Is this a preposterous notion? Hardly. Something quite similar would be necessary to achieve the kinds of emission reductions proposed by Sens. Barak Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John McCain.

A Review: Energy Keepers, Energy Killers by Roy Innis, Chairman, Congress of Racial Equality (CORE)

Innis reveals how devious wealthy elites who control environmental organizations use organization funds (much of which come from government grants and contributions from trust funds controlled by liberals) to find fossil fuel deposits, then use their organization to lobby Congress to put such lands into preservation so that those energy resources cannot be tapped. By abusing federal programs designed to protect environmentally sensitive areas and/or special sites that are unique (e.g., Devil's Tower), these organizations have been instrumental in convincing politicians (usually Democrat) to put massive deposits of fossil fuel energy sources off limits to energy providers.

What price cotton?

Biofuels are currently being accused of starving the world of food, by taking over badly needed land and water. But the fact is, cotton deprives food growers of much more water and good farming land than biofuels.

If we weren't already doing it, and somebody today came up with the idea of taking over the world's fields to grow clothes, there'd be a huge stink. So is it time for a reassessment of cotton and other non-food crops?

Suburban fight or flight

Kunstler said people will have a hard time abandoning their suburban real estate because of the money they have tied up in their homes, but remaining in the suburbs "will be a losing proposition, even in the short to medium term."

"The situation in suburbia will become more and more desperate as it hemorrhages value," Kunstler said. "The global oil predicament will reach a critical threshold much quicker than most people realize."

Oil output outside OPEC at risk of no growth in 2008

LONDON, June 19 (Reuters) - Oil supply from countries outside OPEC, source of three in every five barrels, is stalling this year and may even decline, keeping the heat under record-high oil prices. The International Energy Agency (IEA) and the U.S. government have cut forecasts for supply growth in 2008, in part due to delays at new fields and declining output at existing ones.

"There is a risk of zero non-OPEC growth," said Mike Wittner, oil analyst at Societe Generale, who forecasts non-OPEC supply will expand by 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) this year.

"As far as our forecast is concerned, there is definitely downside to our numbers."

More consumers, workers shoplift as economy slows

Call it a sign of the times. Steadily and alarmingly, shoplifting seems to be rising at many retail chains, and experts are pointing at a prime cause: the sputtering economy.

"Wages aren't keeping up with inflation, especially the price of food and energy," says Diane Swonk, chief economist at Mesirow Financial. "It just leaves less money for everything else, and that breeds a lot of temptation."

Pickens: Oil production has peaked

Most analysts agree the slide down the other side of the peak will not be smooth. In 2005, the Department of Energy commissioned a report to examine the impact of peak oil. The Hirsch Report (PDF) named for its lead author, energy adviser Robert Hirsch, puts the problem in stark terms:
The world has never faced a problem like this. Without massive mitigation more than a decade before the fact, the problem will be pervasive and will not be temporary. Previous energy transitions (wood to coal and coal to oil) were gradual and evolutionary; oil peaking will be abrupt and revolutionary.
The report recommended 10 to 20 years of “accelerated effort” to implement alternative fuels would be needed before the oil peak to avoid “major economic upheaval”.

Will More Drilling Mean Cheaper Gas?

Even if tomorrow we opened up every square mile of the outer Continental Shelf to offshore rigs, even if we drilled the entire state of Alaska and pulled new refineries out of thin air, the impact on gas prices would be minimal and delayed at best. A 2004 study by the government's Energy Information Administration (EIA) found that drilling in ANWR would trim the price of gas by 3.5 cents a gallon by 2027.

The challenge of exploiting Iraq's oil

It's difficult to imagine today, but 50 years ago the Iraqi oil industry was directed from offices thousands of miles from Baghdad.

In the 1950s, number 214 Oxford Street, London, was the headquarters of the Iraq Petroleum Company.

For three decades, the IPC held a stranglehold over Iraqi oil - a monopoly only broken with nationalisation in the 1960s.

But once again, foreign oil companies are waiting for another opportunity to return to Iraq. With governments eager to see the rocketing price of crude oil kept under control, focus on Iraq is increasing.

Big Oil Tiptoes Back into Iraq

By all rights, Iraq should be a world-class oil power in the same league as Saudi Arabia in OPEC. That Iraq isn't owes much to political division and security risks that have kept foreign experts and investment out of the nation's critical oil sector. Now, there may be reason for some optimism. A top Iraqi Oil Ministry official, Natiq al-Bayati, head of contracts and licensing, has been meeting executives from foreign oil majors in the Jordanian capital of Amman in recent weeks. He hopes to hammer out so-called technical support agreements that could improve Iraqi oil output over time.

Libya hires Goldman Sachs for advice on oil production

ATHENS: Libya, the holder of the largest oil reserves in Africa, hired Goldman Sachs Group to provide information on its behalf to credit rating companies, the first contract with a U.S. bank after the removal of sanctions.

Drivers cut back by 30B miles

The decline in total miles traveled, though only 1%, means that many drivers are cutting back far more because the number of drivers and vehicles grows by 1% to 2% a year. Americans are driving about the same number of miles as in 2005, when the USA had 8 million fewer people, according to a USA TODAY analysis of Federal Highway Administration data. The declines are sharpest on rural roads, indicating that people are cutting back on long-distance and vacation trips.

"It's not a blip," said Marilyn Brown, professor of energy policy at Georgia Tech, citing data showing surging transit ridership, dropping sales of sport-utility vehicles and sharply increased demand for gas-efficient vehicles. "I think the difference between now and 1979, when prices were comparable when you adjust for inflation, is there's a sense of sustained pain. There's a sense that the era of cheap energy is a thing of the past."

Shell Shuts Nigeria's Bonga Oil Field After Attack

(Bloomberg) -- Royal Dutch Shell Plc said it shut down the Bonga oil field in Nigeria because of a militant attack, the first time the deepwater facility 120 kilometers (75 miles) offshore has come under assault.

``There has been an armed attack on the Bonga field production unit,'' Shell spokesman Rainer Winzenried said in an interview from The Hague. Bonga crude shipments were scheduled to average 190,000 barrels a day in June, based on loading schedules. Attacks by militants previously focused on onshore and shallow fields in the creeks of the Niger river delta.

Drilling for Answers - Will we find the oil we need offshore?

Drilling is only the first leg of a three-legged stool. Hofmeister believes that in the next decade, the U.S. can boost production of alternative fuels (mostly cellulosic ethanol) from 500,000 barrels per day today to 2.5 million barrels a day. And a drive for greater efficiency — principally by replacing the gas-guzzling U.S. car fleet with more parsimonious autos — can reduce daily demand by 2.5 million barrels per day. Over time, the combination of significant increases in production and significant demand destruction, "would hit the energy futures on its head," bring down prices, create jobs in the U.S., and decrease reliance on energy imported from tyrants.

Oil's `Bull Run' May Be Over on Supply, JPMorgan Says

(Bloomberg) -- Crude oil's ``bull run'' may be over as prices become increasingly volatile and Saudi Arabia pledged to boost supplies, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co., the third- largest U.S. bank.

Prices are expected to ``correct'' over the next few months, JPMorgan analysts led by Brynjar Eirik Bustnes said in a report today. Spare production capacity may reach 5 million barrels a day by 2010, similar to levels in 2002 to 2003, when oil was $30 a barrel, the analysts said.

Japan, China strike landmark gas-sharing deal

TOKYO (AFP) — Japan and China said Wednesday they had struck a deal to jointly develop gas fields in the East China Sea, partly resolving a spat that has been a thorn in ties between the major energy importers.

After four years of on-off talks, Asia's two largest economies agreed to share the potentially lucrative gas resources from an area that lies near islands which remain a focus of bitter dispute.

But the two sides continue to dispute other gas fields in the East China Sea and, in a sign that even the limited deal is controversial, Chinese nationalists protested Wednesday outside the Japanese embassy in Beijing.

UK: Energy bills could go up by 40%

Household energy bills could increase by as much as 40% this winter, the BBC has learned, as oil and wholesale gas prices hit record highs.

The increases could mean households paying £400 more a year on average for their gas and electricity, senior industry sources have said.

The increase is far more than analysts have predicted in recent months.

Going for your gold: petrol price records now weekly

SYDNEY petrol prices reached record highs for the sixth week in a row last night, with motorists paying 171.9 cents a litre for unleaded fuel, as Australia ran up its largest monthly bill for imported petroleum.

Credit card fees: Some gas stations say 'no more'

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - When gas station manager Roger Randolph realized it was costing him money each time someone filled up with $4-a-gallon gas, he hung a sign on his pumps: "No more credit cards."

He may be the first in West Virginia to ban plastic, but gas station operators nationwide are reporting similar woes as higher prices translate into higher credit card fees the managers must pay, squeezing profits at the pump.

"The more they buy, the more we lose," said Randolph, who manages Mr. Ed's Chevron in St. Albans. "Gas prices go up, and our profits go down."

Greater access could mean more oil-industry strain

HOUSTON - Lifting the federal ban on offshore and other types of oil and natural gas drilling would likely place greater strains on an industry already struggling with shortages of equipment and workers.

Because of record oil prices, exploration and production companies are trying to find new sources of hydrocarbons at a frenetic pace, pushing the supply of rigs, engineers and other personnel and equipment to the limit.

Venezuela says will not attend Saudi oil meet

MARACAIBO, Venezuela (Reuters) - Venezuela will not attend a meeting of oil consumers and producers this coming weekend and sees no need to up output, the country's oil minister said on Wednesday.

States weigh options in offshore drilling fight

PENSACOLA, Fla. - Governors in some coastal states promised to fight attempts to tap offshore petroleum reserves, citing concerns about the environment and tourism. Others agreed with President Bush's call to lift a 27-year-old federal ban on offshore drilling but said states should decide whether to allow it.

Premium gas sales tank as fuel prices rise

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. - Ernesto Evangelista prefers to pump premium gas into his seven-month-old Nissan Titan, thinking it makes the truck run better. But at a BP station just a few blocks from the sand of Miami Beach, the 33-year-old painter grabbed the handle for the regular, 87-octane gas to fill his tank on a recent Friday.

"Premium is just too expensive," he said. "Nobody can afford to fill up with premium anymore."

Iraq to contract with four Western oil companies: report

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Four Western oil companies are close to signing oil contracts with the Iraqi government that will return them to the country for the first time in 36 years, the New York Times reported in its online edition.

Oil Price Realities May Soften Fed Rate Moves

(Bloomberg) -- The Federal Reserve, when considering how much to raise interest rates to keep inflation in check, might call upon the law of gravity: nothing, even the price of oil, goes up forever.

The Oil Future

Government can't repeal the law of supply and demand, but it could curb speculative excess.

Fuel Crisis Changes Airlines' Flight Plans

With fuel costs hovering stubbornly at record highs, airlines are abruptly changing course by suspending flights, slapping new luggage fees on travelers, raising fuel surcharges on tickets, switching to smaller planes, grounding older, inefficient aircraft and raising fares.

Industry-watchers say the current, fuel-driven crisis may be worse than the sharp drop in consumer demand that sent four major U.S. carriers into bankruptcy following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. That was one catastrophic event; this is a rolling crisis with no end in sight.

Can Saudi Pumps Help Ease Prices?

Having spent the better part of a year snubbing pleas from President Bush to pump more oil onto the world market, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah is suddenly scrambling to ease rocketing oil prices. On Sunday, Abdullah told U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon that his country would increase its output starting in July, probably by about 500,000 barrels a day. And in a rare move to coordinate with other oil producers, Saudi officials have invited OPEC oil ministers as well as U.S. and European officials to an emergency meeting on oil prices in Jeddah next Sunday.

But while all of that may sound like urgent action to ease the pain of record oil prices, energy analysts are skeptical over how much relief it will offer. The Saudi promise of extra oil, they say, may do more to soothe the jangled nerves of Western politicians than to lower the price of oil.

High energy prices upset balance in West

BIRNEY, Montana (Reuters) - The log cabins and dirt roads on Jeanie Alderson's isolated ranch suggest little has changed since her great-great aunt and uncle first came to the rolling hills of southeastern Montana 120 years ago.

Yet with energy prices at record highs, she fears that interest in long-dormant rights to develop oil and gas resources underneath her land could badly upset the natural beauty and balance of the rugged American West.

"No one in 1916 or 1909 had any concept of strip mining or coalbed methane pumping out, and the devastation," Alderson said. "When you start pumping out groundwater, we think, 'Uh oh, there goes my livelihood."'

Oil group: Offshore drilling no quick fix

WASHINGTON — Opening America's coastal waters to oil drilling, as Sen. John McCain urged in an address Tuesday, is unlikely to provide Americans with more oil for at least seven to 10 years.

That's the estimate from the American Petroleum Institute, the oil-industry trade group. Major environmental groups think the increased supply would be at least that distant before arrival, and say it mostly would benefit Big Oil.

Goldman raises 2008 oil price forecast to $117.40

LONDON (Reuters) - Goldman Sachs (on Thursday raised its 2008 average Brent crude oil price forecast to $117.40 a barrel from a $108 due to tight supplies.

"We have increased our price forecasts to reflect a continued tightening of global crude oil supply/demand fundamentals and the resulting higher oil prices," the U.S. investment bank said.

McCain Plans to Add 100 U.S. Nuclear Reactors, Invest in Coal

(Bloomberg) -- Republican presidential candidate John McCain will push to almost double the number of nuclear reactors in the U.S. as part of a plan to lessen the nation's dependence on foreign oil.

Shooting the moon on renewables

While McCain wants to drill more oil to fight $4 gas, Obama calls for an 'Apollo project' aimed at alternative energy. Should the government get involved?

Congressional stalemate over renewable energy

Even as lawmakers of both parties talk about the need to shift the country toward clean, renewable energy, Congress is in danger of letting key tax credits that have fueled the growth of wind and solar power expire at the end of the year.

The Senate failed for the second time in a week Tuesday to pass a bill to help businesses and homeowners switch to renewable energy. The tax incentives have strong bipartisan support, but they have been caught up in a fight between Democrats and Republicans over how to pay for them.

Power lines stand in way of huge solar farm

SAN DIEGO - It seems like an idea any environmentalist would embrace: Build one of the world's largest solar power operations in the Southern California desert and surround it with plants that run on wind and underground heat.

Yet San Diego Gas & Electric Co. and its potential partners face fierce opposition because the plan also calls for a 150-mile, high-voltage transmission line that would cut through pristine parkland to reach the nation's eighth-largest city.

Farming for cellulosic ethanol gets started

GUYMON, Okla. - Work has started on the planting of a 1,000-acre switchgrass field in the Oklahoma Panhandle that researchers plan to use in the production of cellulosic ethanol.

The field is being touted as the world's largest for switchgrass, a drought-resistant perennial plant that grows even on marginal lands. Scientists at the Noble Foundation in Ardmore are overseeing the project and hope that switchgrass proves to be a viable substitute for corn in ethanol production.

'Tipping Point' for Renewable Energy

WASHINGTON, Jun 18 (OneWorld) - Renewable energy is approaching a "tipping point" and should expand dramatically in the next decade, further narrowing the gap between alternative forms of energy and fossil fuel use, said environmental and economic experts at a forum here Monday.

"Increasing market demand, policies, and investment trends are creating a perfect storm for the growth of renewable energy across the world," said Christopher Flavin, moderator of the forum and president of the Worldwatch Institute. "We are at a point where all of these factors will allow renewable energy to move into the mainstream."

Satellite for tracking sea levels set for launch

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The French-US satellite Jason 2, slated for lift-off Friday from California, will provide precise monitoring of rising sea levels and currents and track the effects of climate change.

Scientists fighting disease with climate forecasts

WASHINGTON - A cyclone wrecks coastal Myanmar, spawning outbreaks of malaria, cholera and dengue fever. Flooding inundates Iowa, raising an array of public health concerns. With climate change come new threats to life, and scientists hope to be able to better predict them as they forecast the weather.

"Everything is connected in our earth system," Conrad C. Lautenbacher, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said at a panel on "Changing Climate: Changing Health Patterns."

New study to force ministers to review climate change plan

Britain and Europe will be forced to fundamentally rethink a central part of their environment strategy after a government report found that the rush to develop biofuels has played a "significant" role in the dramatic rise in global food prices, which has left 100 million more people without enough to eat.

Arctic sea ice melt 'even faster'

Arctic sea ice is melting even faster than last year, despite a cold winter.

Data from the US National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) shows that the year began with ice covering a larger area than at the beginning of 2007.

But now it is down to levels seen last June, at the beginning of a summer that broke records for sea ice loss.

Oceans warm more quickly than suspected: study

PARIS (AFP) - The world's oceans have warmed 50 percent faster over the last 40 years than previously thought due to climate change, Australian and US climate researchers reported Wednesday.

Higher ocean temperatures expand the volume of water, contributing to a rise in sea levels that is submerging small island nations and threatening to wreak havoc in low-lying, densely-populated delta regions around the globe.

The study, published in the British journal Nature, adds to a growing scientific chorus of warnings about the pace and consequences rising oceans.

Is USA Fleet Fuel Economy still Dropping ?

Do scrapped cars & SUVs have better fuel economy than new cars & SUVs ?

It is my understanding that the average life of vehicles in the USA is 15 years and the peak scrap rate is at age 16 (accidents take a toll roughly proportionate to miles driven x age , and newer cars are driven more).

A glance at the proportions of low fuel economy SUVs and pick-ups sold in the last 18 years shows that we are just past Peak Gas Guzzler and it is an open question if average fleet fuel economy is still decreasing. There is little doubt that average fleet fuel economy for the USA was still dropping as recently as 12/31/2007.

The Age of the Giant SUV (Hummers, Expeditions, Escalades, Armada, Sequoia et al) came after 1993, so relatively few of them are being scrapped and new ones continue to be sold, if at reduced rates.


Thinking about future systems..

Guys, what's the EROEI of a horse? It takes a lot of grass and oats and provides...

ONE horsepower:-)

Greetings from Munich,

And while I'm at it (if it can be quantified),
What's the energy return of a person?

And how green house gas CO2 does each person respirate into the atmosphere each year? (Times 7,000,000,000 people)

Average about 900 g per day per human, so about 330 kg per year, so about 2.3 billion tonnes for 7 billion. But then that comes from food, at base vegetation which fixed the carbon by photosynthesis.

It does not matter, people are carbon neutral.

But wait a minute, if so much fossil fuel goes into producing our food, then maybe we are not carbon neutral. mmmm.....

"It does not matter, people are carbon neutral."

uh, nonsense. Humans don't fix carbon. Through respiration we consume oxygen (from plant life) and exhale CO2 (at least a higher percentage).

In fact as I think of it, no organism that isn't photosynthetic, (with the possible exception of exotic deep sea thermal vent bacteria and the like) fixes carbon. Anaerobic bacteria may bypass CO2 production but I'm pretty darn sure they don't fix carbon either (would need to review anaerobic energy production pathway).

The problem a-la PO, and possibly AGW, is that dead photosynthetic organisms with their fixed carbon are being dug up and artificially respired in machines such as cars. You might consider the analogy a weak one, however, you can run a diesel engine and run a human (briefly at least) on the oxidation of say olive oil - the human part being far more complex, incompletely understood and with a teleology directed at times towards things like posting on the oil drum rather than racing down a highway.

Just to really rile people such as Alan up, I tend very slightly towards AGW, but I seriously question it. I can't get around the incessant media hype over the issue (what might that contrast with) and the political involvement. The science seems far more complex and open to interpretation than simply running out of a finite supply of oil. To me it's like Bob Barker wants to lecture me on why the sky is falling. That said my layman's view is it certainly has scientific plausibility, though the system is so complex and incompletely understood, eh the solutions are similar for both anyways

To take a really, really big picture view, the problem with and commonality between both PO and AGW is an imbalance between carbon fixation and oxidation to CO2. For PO this shows up as reduced carbon (no pun intended) supplies while for AGW it shows up as increased atmospheric CO2. To fix this (dammit ;) one needs to 1) increase photosynthetic carbon fixation, i.e attempts at biofuels - whoops both cars and humans like to eat. I do wonder whether seeding iron depleted ocean areas is a bad idea or not, while algae may eventually prove themselves great nextgen mitochondria (yes mitochondria are not photosynthetic but the analogy of a developing symbiotic relationship is perhaps apt. 2) increased use of useful energy from sources outside this carbon cycle, i.e solar, wind, nuclear, tidal, geothermal, hydro, -sounds good to me, though hydrocarbons have long evolved as an efficient energy storage media, so this only indirectly addresses transport fuels. 3) reducing oxidation of carbon, i.e conservation, the best long term solution, live within your carbon cycle means and be sure any "useful energy" growth doesn't overly imbalance the carbon cycle.

Sorry to have to correct you Speedy, here's what wikipedia says on carbon fixation

"Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person." Mother Theresa

Paul "Duffy" Maher

Usually the sustained output of a human is 1/3 HP. Hop on an exercise bike that tells you how many watts you output. I can top out at around 630watts for a short period. One HP is 745.699872 watts

And most of that "output" is heat. Connect your exercise bike to an electric generator and see what you get -- it won't be much over 100watts, and only for a short period.

PeakPlus writes:

What's the energy return of a person?

It should be pretty good. Thomas Jefferson owned slaves. At Monticello slave quarters still exist. While visiting the site I realized the slaves were forced to feed and clothe themselves. I can't imagine that all slave owners worked that way but some did. So if that's the case the return on investment was quite good.

I don't think it was nearly as good as fossil fuels.

In the northern US, many slave owners freed their slaves long before they were required to by law. It was cheaper to hire a freed slave (or new immigrant) than to own one. With a slave, you have to support him whether he works or not. If he's too sick to work, or too old...you still have to support him. With a laborer, you don't pay him if he doesn't work.

The economics were different in the south. There was less immigration, and less industrialization. The ability of slaves to reproduce offset their higher cost.

I suspect the reason slavery was abolished throughout the new world was economic, not ethical. The industrial revolution meant there was less need of human labor.

My thoughts exactly! As a descendant of runaway, rebel slaves, Maroons as they are called here, peak oil has got me thinking about slavery. It occurred to be that the abolition of slavery was driven more by cheaper alternatives (FF) for getting work done, than any enlightened thinking or ethics. With the decline of FF, might we see a return to slavery? The working poor are not far removed from slavery. Maybe that is the form future slavery will take.

The form of slavery you mention already exists and has for some time. It is called Debt Peonage.

That's why it cracks me up about liberals going on a guilt trip about the slave trade. The only reason it doesn't exist now is that machines do the work once done by slaves. It is no coincidence that slavery started to disapear in the late eighteenth century just when the industrial revolution started getting in to full swing.

Then if that's true, that means there's no moral injunction in capitalism or the private property system against slavery, which means we are all happy living with a system in which slavery is still an option. Maybe we should have a guilt trip about that. Will you be cracked up if your grandchildren are chosen to be the slaves next time?

I don't have a guilt trip about it. If we bring back slavery, then I will work to bring back revolution. Every society based on slavery has been destroyed, and every society that will be based on slavery must be destroyed.

I think there are too many people at this site who think powerdown means they will get to be the whipper and not the whippee. They will deserve their fate.

Hello Super390,

Good points!

Never forget Tadeusz Borowski, #119198

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

You know it.

Slavery Indentured servitude of offspring to re-pay one's parents' unpaid [credit card and mortgage/home equity] debts may make a 'moral' comeback: and the religious right shall justify it. After all, "THOU shalt not steal" - from the corporate bankers who run the government whose military police run debtor's prison labor camps.

So far, the corporate elite has enticed everyone to over-indebt themselves, gotten rid of those pesky personal bankruptcy laws, built the massive prisons, eviscerated the US Constitution's bill of rights, depleted [stolen] the federal treasury that had supported the despicable tax-supported social safety net.... "Honor thy father and thy mother" will be re-interpreted to mean: don't shirk your family financial reponsibility off on the government/taxpayer.

What remains is the predicted arrival of economic crash to create the financial necessity of forced labor to benefit the upper classes again; and the popularization of moral/biblical justifications to shame everyone into accepting it.

What remains is the predicted arrival of economic crash to create the financial necessity of forced labor

The looming food shortage could also serve the same end. Work for whatever food Monsanto can scrounge up for you. A one-way ticket into a lifetime of indentured servitude.

According the the controversial book 'Time on the Cross' by Fogle and Engerman, American slavery was both economic and profitable. These guys pioneered the statistical study of history. Whether or not you agree with their thesis, it is a very interesting read. Published in early 70s.

which is why i keep saying that without the pr push to end slavery during the civil war slavery would of ended anyway, just maybe a few years later.

Hmm, I'm sure someone more knowledgeable will correct me if I'm wrong, but naively, I would expect the eroei of any living organism to be negative. If it were positive, we probably wouldn't need things like oil to sustain our way of life.

Not always. It depends what they eat. If you have grass growing naturally without input from you, and your horse eats this all summer, your EROEI is very high. In the winter, it will have to eat hay that you cut in the summer, which does require some energy.

The concept of "EROEI" is only relevant to energy-gathering systems. And it's a ratio, thus cannot be negative.

One Horse Power is a lot more than 1HP from a motor. And the horse contains its own infrastructure -- you don't have to plug it into an increasingly fragile grid, and its energy source is at far lower thermodynamic level than that of a gasoline or electric motor -- you can't feed them hay!

One Horse Power is a lot more than 1HP from a motor.

Say what? See my comment below.

Strictly speaking, all species will have an EROEI less than one because all life processes generate heat which is lost to the environment. What is usually of interest is the energy return on what YOU have invested. In this context, the answer depends on where the horse's food comes from (grazing vs. fed hay/oats) and what was necessary to grow crops or maintain pasture.

From a strictly energetic perspective, there is this reference to what daily calorie requirements for a horse are:


A hard working horse needs 32.8 megacalories/day. If you work your horse 8 hours per day at a steady 1 hp, this would deliver about 5 megacalories of energy. Thus, the ratio of in/out is a little over 15%.

Wikipedia has this bit on what horses can actually deliver:

R. D. Stevenson and R. J. Wasserzug published an article in Nature 364, 195-195 (15 July 1993) calculating the upper limit to an animal's power output. The peak power over a few seconds has been measured to be as high as 14.9 hp. However, for longer periods an average horse produces less than one horsepower.


..of interest is the energy return on what YOU have invested.

Exactly. Otherwise it would be the same question as asking what return Nature has on itself, which is barely over 1 (1.00001, if I have enough zeros in there:-) not speaking thermodynamically, of course.

I ask the question because of historical considerations (and the question to what is sustainable or what we can expect from future systems).

Agriculture is (for humans, of course) a positive-sum game in the short term at least. The domestication of the horse was a huge development on the political stage, but not on the agricultural. Horses were used a long time only for transportation and later for warfare (probably the reason that the Indo-European languages made their first great expansion five thousand years ago.) Meaning: their ENERGY return was certainly very negative unless used as a part of a pastoral way of life - herding (war being generally a drain on resources).

This analysis remains true well through the Roman times.

One of the European advantages in the Middle Ages was the integration of the harnessed horse (instead of using a yoke) into the economy (10th century ad). This allowed using a horse for heavy work, in this case to pull a plough in the "wet" clay soils of the lower regions. (There are many other advantages that were integrated at the time, but I'm worried about the horse right now..-)

The horse is twice as efficient as the ox in the field - once the harness was developed (invented in China from 4th BC to 5th ad.). But in order to "fuel" the horse, oats (domesticated in Bronze Age Europe) were cultivated on a large scale. The symbiosis horse/oats worked best in Europe's "wet"-climate agricultural system.

Now, the question to EROI is obviously not answerable because
1. Region/Intensity/Task is different for most horses.
2. The horse is a "tool" like the car or tractor and not the energy source (obviously having about the same efficiency as a ICE according to your equation, Joules). The question would have to be reframed in "Work Return on Work Invested". And I would suspect that the return is higher than the middle of Euan's curve (meaning 1:7) whereas (for all you who looked at the slavery question) human return is probably about (less than) 1:2 and for this reason only works in societies where MOST of the people are slaves.


Cheers, Dom

We need to be breeding horses urgently.
So few Shire horses left they are practically endangered and we will need as many as we can get for ploughing the fields before too long.

Our grandathers ploughed fields with horses.
We use tractors
Our children will use spades if we don't breed more horses.

There are systems of agriculture that not only don't plow, but consider plowing a negative.

No horses for me, thanks.


It used to be said,about 30 years ago, that the half life of a vehicle in the U.S. was around 10 years. Recently, I've seen references to the half life being only 8 years because people were driving more. It's an exponential decay...

E. Swanson

That actually corresponds well with the "average scrap age = 16" claim. Half-life is not average, it's median.

If it was a straight exponential decay, the average scrap age would be log(e)/log(2) times the half life. That works out to 1.44 times the half life. Of course it is not exponential, as was said newer cars are driven more, but older cars are usually scrapped when a needed repair costs more than the market value. Just like in people the chance of dying per year goes up with advanced age.

A lot of used guzzlers have ended up on dealer lots (they were late cracking down on accepting them). These are not retired vehicles, but it is likely that dealer inventory of guzzlers will remain high (i.e. a significant number are not current members of the active vehicle set).

As the selling price on these gas hogs drops very low it may be a real boon to people who drive very few miles per year.
I am thinking in particular of the retired people. I am retired and live on a farm and go to town maybe once a week or every other week. Maybe a total of 2-3k miles per year. I really don't care if gas is $1 or $10 per gallon. My total expenditure is going to be small and affordable at 10 mpg or 50 mpg.
And as people who drive only a limited number of miles per year own the gas hogs, the gas hogs will last a very long time due to the small number of miles per year.
The gas hogs may be around a lot longer than you think. As these people will be burning a lot fewer gallons of fuel than those driving to work even with gas sippers, they should not be reviled for driving an (affordable) big gas hog.
You need to add the total cost of vehicle plus cost of fuel per year over the number of years the vehicle will be driven to determine what is the best financial deal for different groups of people.

Others have already speculated that SUVs and vans will have a 2nd life as carpoolmobiles and jitneys.

A full size SUV has the same interior room as a minivan. Maybe if you used the used the extra power to tow a cargo or (illegal) passenger trailer.

They sure are. Prices on used gas guzzlers are dropping too fast for the price guides to keep up (they're only printed once a year).

Check out this guy's story. Bought a 2004 Excursion, the largest Ford monster SUV. Blue book says it's worth $23K. He took it to a few dealers and they offered $8K for trade-in.
I found it linked through AutoBlogGreen

Remember all the debate about whether or not it is worth buying a Prius. The depreciation on these monsters far outweighs any extra money people might have spent on a Prius. Now how cost effective was this investment in the Excursion?

Hello Tstreet,

Got to agree with your assessment. TSHTF residual value for these big pickups is for the mounting of .50 cal machine guns and RPG launchers for future rioting decimation. :(

On the more hopeful side: if we cannot get Alan Drake's RR & TOD ideas sufficiently ramped to a high installation rate in time-- then recall my earlier posting of some of these vehicles pulling many trailers for paying passengers and my bicycle peloton idea [much faster and cheaper than a bus]. This could greatly help bridge the commuting gap until RR & TOD is going gung-ho.

IMO, we can find lots of ready-made sources for lightweight, narrow gauge railtrack; no energy conversion required. Simple, but thick, 90 degree angle-iron structurally removed from abandoned skyscrapers and other big buildings can be quickly bolted to existing concrete sidewalks--this will provide nearly instant miles & miles of smooth, urban/suburban railbed when the streets get too potholed and full of sewage overflows.

By this conversion method: removing the steel from the top 35 floors of a single 40-story skyscraper may provide 100 miles of narrow gauge track. Notice how little steel there is in this photo:


Then compare that size to heavy-duty standard gauge railtrack:


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

Looking at that Excursion I am amazed it does as much as 10 mpg. It must have a very efficient engine.

The black Excursion in the photo is modified with a lift kit and offroad tires and probably gets less than 10 mpg unless it's a diesel. It's also a stock photo and not the one owned by the guy in the NPR interview.

I am so glad the State of Texas' car crusher program gave me $3000 for my grandma's 1991 Cadillac towards the purchase of a new Ford Focus last month. It required some expensive repairs.

If a person pays cash for a car like a Ford Excursion, then it is possible they may choose to sell it for 15k less than blue book value. But I would doubt anybody making monthly finance payments would make the same choice.

Does anybody know what the typical small print says on a lease? Is there an option to return the car to the dealer and say no thanks?

Staff Bios in Header

I just noted this new addition to the header.

I am SO disappointed that Professor Goose is not Karl Rove !


But I was very please to see that he is at Colorado State! My alma mater. :)

Nanosolar announces 100ft per minute, 100GW per year, milestone

Our 1GW CIGS coater cost $1.65 million. At the 100 feet-per-minute speed shown in the video, that’s an astonishing two orders of magnitude more capital efficient than a high-vacuum process: a twenty times slower high-vacuum tool would have cost about ten times as much per tool.

Plus if we cared to run it even faster, we could. (The same coating technique works in principle for speeds up to 2000 feet-per-minute too. In fact, it turns out the faster we run, the better the coating!)

So how does that translate into cost per watt? About 5 cents? Sure wish they would go public.

The cost for a solar system has not come down.

Panels are just a part of the system and they are still arround $4.75/watt ...up from years ago


Thin film,however, is cheaper. Nanosolar claims about $1 per watt but is currently restricted to utility scale applications. On the other hand, I don't think this has been independently verified. Solarbuzz, obviously, doesn't feel they can use Nanosolar's claimed costs in their data regarding thin film costs.

I agree that for roof top applications, solar has not come down. For other applications, things may be different.

You are correct that costs to the consumer have not decreased.
Production costs however have decreased substantially, but high demand is supporting prices.
At some stage this decreased cost will however feed through into price, and hopefully will mean that in hot countries the unsubsidised price will be competitive, at least for peak power.

"At some stage this decreased cost will however feed through into price,"

Not necessarily. The only way this will happen is if supply exceeds demand by a significant margin, for a significant amount of time. I do hope this happens, but I would not assume it will if I were you.

"Production costs however have decreased substantially,"

Could you provide a link to some supporting data for this statement?
Lots of people assume that production costs always go down (efficiencies of scale, improvements in process/materials usage, etc.), but with energy and commodity costs going up dramatically, I would like to see some actual data on this assumption. IMHO, I don't think costs are dropping as much as the companies are claiming.

At the 100 feet-per-minute speed shown in the video, that’s an astonishing two orders of magnitude more capital efficient than a high-vacuum process: a twenty times slower high-vacuum tool would have cost about ten times as much per tool.

Plus if we cared to run it even faster, we could. (The same coating technique works in principle for speeds up to 2000 feet-per-minute too. In fact, it turns out the faster we run, the better the coating!)

OK, and folks here said there's a supply/demand issue here why solar is so expensive... But, hey, if this were the case, they'd crank up the machine to max (which, by the way, is 23 MILES per hour) and sell as much of it as they can. However, if they were constrained by the cost of the inputs (which they have to pass on through to their customers), then it might make sense to keep it down to 100 feet per minute since the market at the higher cost is much more limited.

So... I deduce (and feel free to prove me wrong) that the high price these folks are selling their nanofilms is input constrained, not capacity constrained (i.e. they could sell way more, if they could).

Even though costs have dropped the PV market is still dependant on subsidies, chiefly in Germany and Japan and is still not truly competitive at grid prices in most markets at any rate.
Nanosolar is going for plants of 2-10MW to power small towns, and has a balancing act to perform until costs come down still more.
As for not running the machine at top speed, that is a good conservative approach to take at first, to see how it handles lower speeds then ramp up as experience is gained.

As for not running the machine at top speed, that is a good conservative approach to take at first, to see how it handles lower speeds then ramp up as experience is gained.

Dave, do you have any experience with CIGS coaters or are you just pulling this out of your butt (again).

I never pretend to experience I do not have. What I said seems common sense. If you disagree perhaps you would specify how, rather than going for an ill-mannered and wilfully offensive reply.
So do you have anything to say on the issue to hand?
Note that in this present discussion I have provided referenced costings on production costs of solar.
Perhaps you would contribute in a similar positive way to the discussion.


How could I disagree, I have no idea if running such a machine at a lower speed is a "good conservative approach".

And my point is neither do you!

Yet again you feel compelled to comment on a subject you know nothing about.

Why you feel compelled to offer you (often mis informed) opinion on everything is beyond me.

Please take note of PG's advice

Somebody I think a lot of, Jerry Michalski, shared a concept with me a while back, which he learned from Quaker meeting: "Speak only if it will improve upon the silence."

We thank you for continuing to improve upon the silence here at The Oil Drum.

If something "seems common sense" then there probably is very little need for you to point it out.

Often what seems "common sense" to you is wrong. Just yesterday you made the completely false claim that a hub wheeled vehicle is well adapted for poor road conditions.

There are plenty of experts with good grasps of the issues. Let them comment on the issues. If you feel compelled to share you un-informed opinion with the rest of us, then make it clear that's what it is. Don't inform us that running the machine slowly is a "good conservative approach". Don't inform us hub wheeled vehicles are good for off road. You are not an expert or have any insite in these issues!

I'm sure I'm wasting my words here. You no doubt feel you are making a large positive contribution to this site despite wide and varied complaints to the contrary. You come across as an intelligent and well learned man. I just wish you would show a little restraint. There are a lot of people on this site. If you want a platform to share your opinion on all matters under the sun then start a blog and spare the rest of us your uninformed opinion on yet another subject.

I always acknowledge and thank those who point me to new information, such as about wheel hubs, and would do so similarly if anyone had better information on why they might be running this slowly - that is what discussion is for, to share information and to learn.
The fact is that on the subject under discussion I have contributed links, you have contributed an ill mannered whinge.
The lack of value seems to me to lie in your comment.
Had you chosen to make your criticism in a more civil manner and in the context of providing some positive information on what was being discussed it would be taken more seriously.

Somehow you are working under the assumption that you can post any thought that pops into your head and that its the responsibility of everyone else to correct you (under the guise of discussion).

Imagine the chaos is everyone operated similarly. Think of the terrible consequences to the signal to noise ratio on this board.

I'm not saying you don't make positive contributions to the discussions. It just you show no restraint in posting every idea that pops into your mind, no matter how well researched or informed the idea is.

I hate to have to further pollute the signal to noise ratio by complaining to you like this. But you have shown yourself open to positive criticism before. Remember this isn't the DaveMart blog. Try to improve on the silence.

It appears that you have edited your comment.
I believe you were asking why I should mention Italy in the context of it being a prime location for solar energy.

And do you know why I edited my comment?

Because I caught myself doing exactly what I was complaining about you doing. I was posting about something I have far too little knowledge about to make an informed opinion. Much to the determent of the signal to noise ratio.

As an independent observer of the above lot, I can confidently say that it is Rethin that has hugely wasted space with worthless slagging (in violation of principles), while DaveMart had as usual contributed a useful thought about what is indeed conventional wisdom but still a worthwhile observation nevertheless. I'd fault Dave only on his taking up Rethin's bait into a timewasting diversion rather than ignoring it.

I partially agree with you, I have taken up a lot of space.

It's not something I did lightly, but I justified it in two ways.

1. By taking up too much space this one time, I hopefully helped to make this site better in the future.

2. Its the end of the drumbeat. Most of the conversations are finished so the damage is minimal.

I also have to disagree with you.

To claim that Dave's extremely uniformed comment about a CIGS coater as a worthwhile contribution is a stretch at the very minimum. If it was an isolated incident I would never have noticed. Its the long history of such uniformed "common sense" posts that prodded me to act.

To further disagree, what I wrote was certainly not "bait" but intended as constructive criticism.

If that was constructive criticism your wording was odd, to say the least, and your post hoc justifications are unconvincing.
You have objected to an on-topic post, part of a series with others discussing solar and it's practicality.
It also appears that you wish to find some points 'not worthwhile' without bothering to check at all whether they were soundly founded - for instance your withdrawn comment that my statement that Italy was moving to the fore in the take-up of solar.
Had you had any substantial on-topic point to make at all then polite criticism would have been welcome as part of it.
The post which you objected to was a reply to a direct point made regarding the speed the machine was running at.
If anyone has better information or engineering experience then obviously that information would be very helpful as most of us on this site are not engineers.
Your entirely irrelevant and off-topic posts would not seem to serve any purpose.

The post which you objected to was a reply to a direct point made regarding the speed the machine was running at.
If anyone has better information or engineering experience then obviously that information would be very helpful as most of us on this site are not engineers.

Yes Dave, that is exactly my point. You are not an engineer and neither one of us are competent or informed enough to comment of the correct speed a CIGS coater should be run at.

This is not the DaveMart blog.

Yet you continuously post every thought that enters your head and expect others to correct you under the guise of "discussion".

This has horrible consequences for the signal to noise ratio on this site.

Do you not see this?!?

unfortunetly a factory runs at the speed of its slowest machine not its fastest. The reason they are not running this piece of equipment at full production rate is probably because they have other bottlenecks in thier factory that prevent this.

First Solar is a good place to check costs on, as they are a publicly listed company with audited accounts:

Improvements allowed the firm to cut production costs to $1.29 per watt in the first quarter. That is the lowest cost of any producer.
Yet, to become competitive with traditional electricity, production costs must be reduced to 75 to 90 cents.
However, First Solar's cost advantages over conventional solar panels shrink when installation costs are added in because the firm's panels are more difficult to install.
The company is working on simplifying the process, executives state in regulatory filings.


Nanosolar are more opaque.

BTW Solar PV companies have the strongest possible incentive to pass cost savings on as soon as they can as the subsidised markets where most sales are at the moment are not being replicated elsewhere.
They are desperate to reach true grid parity so that they have a 'real' market, and that is the only way they can maintain their growth.
Additionally by around 2010 capacity is likely to be at around 12-17GW p a, and the subsidised markets are nothing like that big, so they will be dependant on selling at market rates.

In the USA, Hawaii and Puerto Rico will reach grid parity long before most of the rest of the nation. And there is only so much solar PV those two islands can absorb.

Best Hopes for Lower Solar PV prices,


Italy and SoCal are two other markets worth keeping an eye on, with fairly high electric rates and lots of sunshine.
In this connection it should be noted that the costs of solar falling are not the only route to grid parity, rising electric rates do the job just as well.
I don't know the figures for the next target markets, but in the UK electricity costs are going up at about 20% a year - unfortunately it is not very sunny here, most particularly in the winter.

Italy and SoCal are two other markets worth keeping an eye on, with fairly high electric rates and lots of sunshine.

Italy?? Italy is roughly the same latitude as NY State or Michigan. Hardly ideal solar territory. I would think they would have good wind potential, being largely a maritime country with lots of coastline.

Southern Italy is about as good as it gets in Europe for solar, and electric rates are over $0.30kwh. Solar is already popular for off-grid locations and the high price of power is why solar gets a look in.
Wind power is indeed very effective on Italy's mountains, and will also make up part of the energy mix.
No movement on nuclear, which in Europe is really the most effective solution as it is, as you point out, at high latitudes.

When we hear people bitching about "the PV bubble," that will be a GOOD thing.

The question will be how many consumers will be priced out of energy markets, including electricity, altogether. That is, grid parity may come - but a large number of present-day electric consumers will probably be cast off the grid entirely by that point.

The problem isn't gridcrash, it is the utility companies, however they generate their power, coming to shut you off because you can't pay.


There are going to be tough times whatever happens, and countries like the US and Britain have also screwed up their financial systems.
Cheaper solar power though will not hurt anything, and many financial systems have crashed in the past, causing great suffering but eventually coming out of it.
The price of energy is a critical input, and cheap solar may be a necessary but not sufficient enabler for any recovery.
Areas such as the south of China are financially solvent, and adequate energy as coal runs low will help a lot.
In the US although it won't on its own make up for all errors, it would help that mysterious financial attribute of confidence.

That makes more sense.

After the FF era, only the extremely well-off will still have easy/plentiful household electrical power, due to upfront solar infrastructure investments. For everyone else, it's back to old-fashioned shady porches, hand-held fans, indoor lighting from sunny windows and night candles....

"Could you provide a link to some supporting data for this statement?"

read the press release.

Printing is a simple, fast, and robust coating process that in particular eliminates the need for expensive high-vacuum chambers and the kinds of high-vacuum based deposition techniques from industries where there’s a lot more $/sqm available for competitive manufacturing cost.

I've noticed costs going UP on the CIGS solar panels, at least the folding travel/outdoors ones.

I mentioned 3-4 days ago I had planned on buying a 26 watt Brunton CIGS panel on Amazon for camping.

I had seen the price at $287, overnight they had raised it to $396. Scrambled to find one online for $300 and bought that, but all the other retailers followed. A check of Amazon today shows they have raised the prices AGAIN to $425 for the SAME item. The 52 watt jumped from $699 to $799 overnight, today they're not on Amazon at all. Brunton's page has them now at $1298, but I'm sure they're availible cheaper elsewhere.

Expect Solar PV prices to increase in the USA over the next 6 months. We have been alerted our wholesale cost will be going up due to fuel costs, the dollar exchange rate, and the sheer increase of demand as folks trying and beat the 2008 expiring Federal Tax credits. We were advised to factor in .35 cents more per watt on panels with bids and quotes for projects that are 2 to 3 months out. Also to go ahead and lockdown any purchases before the 4th quarter

Nano Solar is having zero price influence on the silicon PV market...dang-it!

This is what I have been talking about ... new technology being to expensive to make any real difference.

How do we all have Prius's/Volt's, PV solar, etc ? ..... Technology may not save us

In order to be Sustainable it needs to be Economically Viable.

Fossil fuel costs, the dollar exchange rate, costs of minning ,shipping ,supporting the workers, etc.etc. etc.

The technology is not good enough to do a straight conversion for all the functions of, for instance, a conventional car with the same utility.
That is far from saying it will not make a real difference.
Emergency vehicles and many others can certainly be run as hybrids, which is a lot better than not having them.
Lightweight EV's or bicycles whilst not providing the full utility of an ICE car will still get people about at reasonable cost, and you would simply hire a car for the occasional long journey.

Which is exactly why localized, community-based solutions are the only way to make this work. You get your town together, see how much money you have, get all your construction workers/mechanics/engineers/hpbbyists together and start using the scrap and waste, what have you, to build low-cost - but essentially free - micro systems/community systems.

We could reduce the total cost to 1 trillion for the entire nation for a high percentage of home energy. I don't know how much taht is off the top of my head, but it should be signficant. This would significantly reduce backbone requirements.

If we then add in significant conservation on the order of what occurred in the 70's (more, actually.... we are facing a paradigm change here. We must address long term sustainability or we are only delaying the inevitable), then we can take significant pressure off of the system and buy time to develop longer-term solutions.

I'm beginning to think energy might need to be state-owned... I don't see the cooperation happening to make this plan work... or any plan, for taht matter. Unlike some others, I am not content to just say those that can't adapt should go all Darwin Awards. http://www.darwinawards.com/


the problem with community based aporaches is that anything you do can and will be taken by the government(local, state, federal, it doesn't matter) to help satisfy those that did not do as your group did to prevent a revolt by the people ala French revolution.

Perhaps I should be more specific. Think more in terms of small towns and neighborhoods.


They would need to have enough production to start taking demand away from the silicon PV market to impact the price. They only claimed their machine could do one part of the production at 1GW/year. There could be other production bottlenecks. You can only produce as fast as the worst bottleneck.

Heres hoping that they can start cranking out 100s of GW/year.

Maybe, maybe not. The technology used by both Nanosolar and Firstsolar is disruptive. Unless it has serious disadvantages over older thin film and traditional solar pv technologies, it will swamp them in the long term. IMHO demand is too high and thier volumes are too low to affect the price in the retail market. Once they satisfy the initial demand and their products start to appear on the retail market in 2-10 years, (anybody want to hazard a guess how long that's going to take) then we might see prices coming down.

Where did I place my bet? I took delivery of 2kw of traditional PV last Friday. At about $3.50 per watt (non UL listed, seconds) and when you add in the cost of installation, inverters etc., I am looking at a payback period of about 6 years at current electricity rates in Jamaica. Anybody wanna bet that electricity rates will be going up?

Alan from the islands

Say, any tips on where/how to get PV "seconds" cheaply?

I'm on Oahu, and it seems that what we may gain by having stronger sunlight, we lose by paying an extra 20% or more per watt due to expensive shipping.


This is astounding but we are still going to have a decade or two of transitional pain. Even so, its good to see a glimmer of light at the end of what is going to be a dark tunnel.

IMO, Governments around the world should be investing in this with a hundred of these plants running a hundred machines each we could pop out so much PV everyone on the planet could have a panel.


I'd rather governments steered clear, personally.
It is not clear as yet what is the best technology to mass-produce, but as grid parity is approached mass production of some of them should rapidly follow anyway.
There is a lot of innovation going on, and the cost reductions are just starting to feed through.
Nanosolar's plans for 2-10MW plants producing electricity for small towns locally at 20volts not needing long-distance transmission or stepping down, and built on the ground to make construction and servicing cheap and easy sounds the best way to go rather than roof-top installation on people's houses.

For the US in particular this in conjunction with biogas and wind have the potential to significantly blunt peak oil.
Gail's concerns about the grid appear as though they are being addressed, with much of the rise in electricity prices attributed to the need to upgrade the grid.

I guess I'm talking about the government action I would like to see rather what we are likley to see -Nation states cast to the wind of the price signal without AFC.

The problem with relying on the market is that ala: Hirsch Report we need 10-20 years to get our sh*t together and the price signal gives us.... 0...


The market, with the assistance of the massive amounts of cash Germany and Japan have put in, seems likely to do a good job in the build out of solar and wind, or at any rate will now do as well as can now be done in the time available.
The problem is in other areas, from getting the grid together to authorising and expediting nuclear power and getting proper standards for insulation and conservation.
Without an appropriate legislative framework then private enterprise can't do what it is best at.
For instance, since many move house regularly in the States it is very difficult to justify installing solar energy or installing good insulation unless it is mandated.
France was able to change its generating capacity for electricity to overwhelmingly nuclear within 17years.
A strategic framework is urgently needed, but it must be doubted whether either the American or British systems have the administrative competence to implement it.

Concerning the article on top that drivers are cutting back, is there any data on how the demand destruction in the early 1980s compares with what we're seeing now?

Catch-22: Feds cut climate research to save fuel

The federal government is canceling or cutting back on ocean research trips aimed, in part, at studying climate change to save money on fuel for their boats. There is the potential that NOAA may lose a couple hundred days at sea this year.

All parts of the economy get hit!

Nah, I think that they've just realized GW was a much bigger issue than they first thought... So, they're retooling their research vessels to be propelled by sail.

Don't worry, sales of FF will shortly become illegal.

Rolling blackouts, complete traffic congestion, and internet outages soon to come.

(Yeah, right.)

There has been quite a lot of press about the meeting in Saudi Arabia this Sunday between the oil producers and the oil consumers. The consumer press has mostly focused on what the King will deliver, a couple hundred K more barrels per day. But I don't think the King summoned the consumers to simply tell them what he would give, I think he is calling them to tell them what he expects in return.

King Abdullah is more independant than his predecessor, and he has incredible leverage. What does he want? There has been some speculation that he will ask consumer nations to drop their gasoline taxes. Is there something more dramatic in the works? Will he play the "old consumers" (US, Europe) off the emerging consumers "China, India" by promising increased (or less reduced) quotas for the more cooperative?

Personally, I think he may focus on the plight of the poor nations. Saudi Arabia hosts 2 million pilgrims every year for the Hajj. Many are from the countries most severely effected by high energy costs. I think he may shift some of the windfall from current prices to subsidizing energy for poorer nations.

Mission Accomplished....

Four Western oil companies are close to signing oil contracts with the Iraqi government that will return them to the country for the first time in 36 years, the New York Times reported in its online edition.

Exxon Mobil, BP Plc, Royal Dutch Shell and Total (getting contracts)

...A total of 46 companies, including those from China, India and Russia have memorandums of understanding to provide that assistance to Iraq but were not awarded contracts.

Mission Accomplished...??? Not so fast...Read this link and you will find there are a few little problems remaining before any deal will be struck...

'Why Iraq won't be South Korea
By Pepe Escobar

'The United States invasion of Iraq then takes on an even broader meaning. Not only does it constitute an attempt to control the global oil spigot and hence the global economy though domination over the Middle East. It also constitutes a powerful US military bridgehead on the Eurasian land mass which ... yields it a powerful geostrategic position in Eurasia with at least the potentiality to disrupt any consolidation of an Eurasian power that could indeed be the next step in that endless accumulation of political power that must always accompany the equally endless accumulation of capital.'
- David Harvey, The New Imperialism, 2003

...snip...'Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told Maliki that Iraqis have to "think of a solution to free" themselves from US power. Not surprisingly, Khamenei advised Maliki not to sign the deal. Maliki, for his part, reassured the Iranians in no uncertain terms Iraq is not an arena for a deadly US-Iran Armageddon.'...snip...


Maybe he is going to state that Saudia Aribia has peaked and can not increase oil production - Ever? (Big Grin)
That would be one way to get the world off his back about increasing production - Even if he can but chooses not to?

King Abdullah would do a good service if he forced China to remove it's oil subsidies or face curtailment of it's supplies.That would relieve a lot of pressure in the markets.

Then the Chinese would tell Abdullah that if he did that, they would be forced to sell off their titanic US dollar holdings to head off mass violence. The selloff would wreck the value of the dollar, and Saudi Arabia's own massive holdings. We're all holding weapons of mass financial destruction to each other's heads these days.

Now if Saudi Arabia and China got together and told Bush to stop his many insane policies or face a joint selloff of US dollars, it might do something useful for the world. How about closing most of our military bases in 120 foreign countries, for example?

Note that Saudi just gave China 50 billion bucks in earthquake aid - against one million from President Junior.

Okay, I'll bite. Why does the KSA care what the US military is doing in 120 other foreign countries?

Invention brings wind energy home

They call it "wind turbine in a box," a simple off-the-shelf but high-performance wind turbine. The innovative wind turbine is the first major launch of a commercial product from the Grand Valley State University energy center in Muskegon. Plans are to sell the turbine at home improvement stores for less than $2,000 to homeowners who can use it to provide up to 20 percent of their electricity.

It's gearless, so it must be a direct drive machine, probably permanent magnets, I wonder if the power conditioning is included?

Still looks to be a long way from production, but if they can pull this off I would certainly be interested. If the price point and electric production hold the break even for my house would be somewhere around 5-6 years - that's competitive with a solar water heater!

Either innumerate journalists or salesman hype. That article claims that a 200W wind turbine will supply 20% of a typical household electricity of 1000W. But turbines are rated by peak power, and the average would be 1/3 of the peak rating at best (if mounted on a very high pole in a windy area) and more likely 1/10 (mounted lower), i.e., about 2% of the typical household usage.

Also, the promised price probably does not include mounting hardware, let alone batteries, inverter, etc which would cost more than the turbine.

BTW, my household usage is about 200W average, achieved simply by CFLs, turning lights and appliances off when not needed, efficient appliances, power strips turned off, no air conditioning, heating (of house, water and food) on other fuels, etc.

The article was also self-inconsistent in the numbers it stated. It claimed average household usage of 1.2kW. Even if we assume 100% capacity factor, 200W is 16.7% of 1.2kW, not 20%. But 100% is impossible, even large production units are considered well if they are above 30%.

Given that such wind turbine will be installed near ground and not necessarily where winds are good I would expect very low capacity factor, somewhere in the single digits. At 10% CF the turbine will produce 20W on average or 175.2kwh per year. For a 10 years operational life time, assuming the thing never breaks the electricity will cost more than a dollar per kwh. All of this without the cost of installation, inverter, batteries etc.

PV panels at 35c/kwh would be much better investment.

In my quest to be self sufficient with electricity (I actually hope to produce more than I use until I get my EV ;-), I have been looking for wind turbines suitable for urban environments. My best prospect so far is a 500W VAWT (Vertical Axis Wind Turbine) system for under $6,000 or a 200W system for under $4000. These are available now and there are a slew of others in the prototype/evaluation stages. Just like EVs, there seems to be a considerable amount of activity "just under the surface."

As for their claim of coming in under their closest competitor, that's a joke. They are comparing a 1500W unit with their 200W unit. The 1500W unit cost $15000 while their 200W costs <$2000. Whats remarkable about that? I'm sure I have seen HAWTs (Horizontl AWT)for better prices per watt than that and all HAWTs are very sensitive to turbulence, requiring relatively tall mounting poles and thus are unsuitable for urban environments.

At an average windspeed of just under 10mph today (hot and windy), which is above average, I need costs of wind technology to come down significantly, for it to compete with PV or the grid, at current prices. I'm sorry...Try again.

I like it 100%. Does it come with "wind in a can" for the slow wind times?


Local politican says "Drill here, Drill now" with article full of misleading statements and half truths.... I love that '60 million cars' phrase. I think he's confusing us with Canada!

I am curious if anyone here has any idea what is going on with domestic natural gas supplies.

From what I've read / heard from Matt Simmons, we are on the edge of a cliff.

T. Boone Pickens and Gail Tverberg seem to have a different take on the situation.

Are they really contradicting each other or is there something I'm not understanding?

Also, Pickens wants to replace natural gas power generation with wind and run transportation on natural gas. Is this realistic? It seem pretty radical to me.

We can conserve NG faster than depletion, enough (IMHO) to at least power priority transportation (garbage trucks, city buses).

Conserve NG for electricity production by 1) more wind 2) more nukes 3) more efficiency in lighting, heating & cooling, hot water, appliances, etc.

Conserve NG used for hot water with 1) solar hot water heaters 2) tankless hot water heaters 3) Water saving shower heads, washing machines, dishwashers

Conserve NG used for home heating with 1) More insulation 2) better windows 3) Cooler indoor temperatures 4) weatherstripping 5) smaller heated spaces

Conserve NG with less plastic use (complex chemistry & process issues)

Conserve NG with more efficient industrial processes (perhaps go back to higher sulfur diesel for some applications).

I think the USA can conserve faster than depletion, allowing for LIMITED NG use for transportation.

Best Hopes for Conservation,


"Conserve NG with less plastic use..."

you must have never visited east des moines. plastic is used here very creatively. window and door covering, car windows and windshields(i jest), roofing, siding , on and on. it is considered an eastside upgrade.

Increasing price will ensure increased conservation. People really can survive if their houses are heated to 60deg. in the winter and cooled to 80deg. in the summer. Industry might shed some jobs, but we can survive without plastic bottles and grocery bags.

That said, can the "market" be relied upon to decrease demand below depletion?

Hi Alan,

Yesterday, I met with a client that uses seventeen 2-tube 8 ft. T12 fixtures to light a storage room 24 hours a day (there are no light switches for this room and it's inconvenient to turn off the lights at the breaker panel so, consequently, they're left to run continuously). In addition, many of the fixtures are located directly above racking units, so much of the light is effectively lost at the ceiling level.

Total connected load is 2.35 kW. We'll be replacing these fixtures with fifteen T8 units for a combined load of 1.58 kW and adjusting their placement to improve light distribution. The demand savings are relatively modest (0.77 kW), but since this area is seldom occupied, we'll be installing an occupancy sensor to automatically turn off the lights after 15 minutes of inactivity. In this one area, energy consumption will fall from 20,586 kWh/yr to something closer to 2,000 kWh, assuming this space is occupied an average of 25 hours a week. Dollar savings: $2,100.00/yr.

The opportunities to use electricity more wisely are almost limitless; from what I see on a daily basis, I'm convinced we could easily cut our electrical demands by one-third or more and be no worse for it, and by half if we were to put our minds to it.


Excellent work !

One needs some "home runs" like this to get overall #s down by 2/3rds.

One of mine was replacing incandescent light bulbs in fire escapes with 2 foot, single bulb low ballast factor enclosed fixtures with reflectors (15 watts from dim memory). Major labor savings as well ! And less heat to a/c away.

Just a suggestion:

This case seems like a perfect case for reflectors. No need to light the ceiling, just the work areas. "Cave effect" be dammed (not that big a deal in my experience anyway)..

Enclosed fixtures with best quality diffusers still lose 2% to 3% (from memory, other diffusers absorb more) but reflectors collect dust at a slower rate (harder to clean though).

If it is a low dust environment (and add a few electrostatic air cleaners) I might go with open reflectors.

With a motion sensor, use an illuminated switch and a small (o.7 watt) LED bulb screwed into a socket that plugs into an electrical outlet so people can find the manual override.


Just a thought,


Hi Alan,

Reflectors would definitely help direct light where it would do the most good (even more so given the ceiling in this space is painted black), but in an effort to keep costs down we'll be reusing the existing hardware and performing a simple ballast and tube replacement. Even with a one-third reduction in watts, after we reposition the fixtures light levels will improve dramatically and, furthermore, we'll save enough electricity in this one store room to serve the needs of two average-size homes.

I'm working on another audit for a national auto parts store that uses these same fixtures to light their small parts shelving - seven continuous rows of 2-tube F96T12s spaced six feet apart on the stockroom floor and the same on the mezzanine level above. Occupancy sensors would be cost prohibitive and wouldn't likely make a huge difference in power usage given the level of activity throughout the work day, but we could still cut their electricity use by one-third or more and maintain or even slightly improve light levels simply by converting to T8s.


Great to hear about that, Paul.

I've started working with my friends at the local Cable Access TV station, where their studio has a dozen 1000w spotlights lighting the shows and heating up the room. We are designing some T8 'Softbox' fixtures and some CFL 'Spotlights' that I've used in my workshop, to give them a cheaper and cooler-running source of light for their shows. (Video can look a lot sexier at f2.8 than at f8.0 anyway.. shooters often call that f-stop WFO, for iris 'Wide- -Open') And then there's the AC savings!


Hi Bob,

I can't imagine working under several thousand watts of halogen lighting! It must be uncomfortably warm for everyone, but especially for those who perform in front of the lens.

As you no doubt already know, there are fluorescent lamps specifically made for this type of application; see:


See also: http://www.sylvania.com/content/display.scfx?id=003673361

Being a point source, ceramic metal halide is another good option; see:


If budget considerations are important, a more conventional alternative might be: http://www.sylvania.com/content/display.scfx?id=003673299. Philips also offers TL930 and TL950 lamps with a CRI of 95 and 98 respectively; they're an excellent choice, albeit you do pay a sizable energy penalty to reach that level of performance.

See: http://www.nam.lighting.philips.com/us/ecatalog/fluor/pdf/P-5037-D.pdf


I'm trying to light my house with 0.3 watt LED nightlights from the dollar store. I've gotten five so far, but with a dollar store it's hard to find the same model on the next visit. The main problem is that they are supposed to fit in power outlets, which are down low and blocked by furniture. I bought a thing that screws into light sockets with plugs on each side, but with the nightlights plugged in, it's too wide to fit in most lamps. Also, it doesn't take many dollars before you've wiped out the cost savings on electricity.

They should be regarded as candle replacements.

Hi super390,

I've bought a number of LED nightlights over the years and just about everyone either died in short order or grew so dim as to be near useless; the experience has soured me on this technology (that and spending nearly $600.00 to replace the rear brake light assembly on one of my vehicles because so many of the individual LEDs failed it wouldn't pass safety inspection). Unless you're living off-grid and have an extremely tight energy budget, I'd stick with a 2-watt cold cathode CFL such as the ones sold here: http://www.1000bulbs.com/2-to-3-Compact-Fluorescents/.

Supposedly a 25,000 hour service life -- unaffected by frequent switching -- and 40 lumens per watt, which is not too shabby at this wattage level; a colour temperature of 2,700K and a CRI of 82 puts it on par with that of a typical residential CFL.

If you can go with a higher wattage, Osram Sylvania's Daylight Plus CFLs are excellent, but the very best CFLs, bar none, are GE's 2D. They're a somewhat bulky, unusual design (sort of like a pretzel), but the light quality is outstanding -- far better than anything else available in the marketplace. This lamp has a modular design, so when the bulb fails you simply replace the bulb itself and not the electronic adaptor (the electronic ballast is typically good for five or more replacements).

See: http://www.lightingsupply.com/compact_fluorescent_bulbs/2d_compact_fluor...

Two other things of note: The 55-watt version produces 3,900 lumens (initial) or about the same amount of light as a 200-watt incandescent and, secondly, it utilizes all three tri-phosphors as opposed to just two of the three as in the case of a regular CFL.


Hi Paul,

Same thing happened to me. I have one of those dead LEDs and aim to find out what causes them to fail. LEDs themselves should last for decades; there must be some other cheap part in there that doesn't. Considering you can find garden-variety LEDs that put out an incredible amount of light (especially the white and blue ones) it should be possible to fully illuminate a hallway or room with 10-20mW of power or less.

Good going with your small business efficiency work. Sounds like it is paying off...


Thanks, Chris. It's a terrific programme and I'm pleased and honoured to be a part of it. One of the promotional brochures can be found here:


Please note the name of the company shown on the return mail card is that of the firm selected to serve the New Glasgow area, one of two communities within the province targeted under the initial pilot; our firm serves the City of Dartmouth, which is part of the Halifax regional municipality.


This brings me back to the late '70s and early '80s. Firms were doing the same thing back then with increasing energy efficiencies, de-lamping, etc. Oddly enough, the greatest return on investment is changing habits, or installing adequate control devices.

Then, I feel degrees of separation from your energy saving initiatives. Working with these primary resource industries, they are looking to decrease energy intensity, yet increase electrical power consumption. We have clients that run at 100+ MW, and I can tell you they have some pretty big distribution centres as well as some large motor loads.

However, I am reminded of Jevon's Paradox. As light industry and commercial seek energy efficiency, heavy industry can gobble up those savings a New York minute.

This is an insight to the world of an electrical power engineer. This is a typical scribbling at the bottom of a single line or project description:


The decimal places are $100K, and this is a typical substation. If it was a small scale generating facility you would see another 3.5 in there. Then we have the 200+ MW projects were we banter figures in the $100 million range.

NSS! (No S*&t Sherlock). I was discussing a rough capital budget with the other senior engineer in the office and the summer co-op student asked, "Do you guys mean millions of dollars!?"

"Yes", I casually replied, "What else would it be?"

I think this is one of the most difficult mind sets new engineering graduates battle with. The magnitude of the power and money is unsettling.

I also advise them to be be cautious, transparent and prudent because with the amount of money involved, it is common to get "wined, dined, and 69'd" as we say in the biz. Let's just say the salesman expense account is generous ;-)


There are a couple of interesting nuances with respect to the example I provided above. As noted, these particular lights operate 24x7, but much of the incremental demand falls within the second (lower) tier of the rate schedule, which is $0.062 per kWh -- in this case, the cost of electricity at the margin is considerably less than average cost, so the potential dollar savings are not as great as one might first think; demand charges are static whether these lights operate one hour or seven hundred and thirty-two hours per month and energy consumed within the first tier (i.e., the first 200 kWh per kW demand) is 1.42 times more expensive than that of the second or trailing block. Moreover, our climate is heating dominate and the waste heat from the operation of these lights is currently one-half to one-third the cost of fuel oil, so the corresponding increase in space heating costs could effectively wipe-out the savings in reduced electricity demand.

For businesses that are electrically heated -- roughly one-third of our client base -- if heat isn't coming from the office lighting it will be supplied by the baseboard heaters under the windows and this negates a good portion of the expected savings during the winter months; it's not a one-to-one ratio by any means, but the relationship is there and can't be ignored.


I'm curious about doing home energy audits, either as a part-time or full-time thing, potentially. I'm not looking to make a fortune, just work at something that ties in with what I really think is pressing. Teaching is rewarding (sometimes!) but I do have time to try something new. Maybe more personal info than you need.

I don't have an engineering background, so doing audits for major buildings would be out of my league. Do you have any advice for someone interested in doing this - how to best get involved? I'm based in Ontario.

Hi pedestrian,

I don't have any formal training in this field, but lighting design and energy efficiency are two life-long passions.

As a starting point, I might suggest: http://www.oee.nrcan.gc.ca/publications/infosource/pub/cipec/efficiency/...

If you do decide to pursue this career path, I can honestly tell you this is some of the most rewarding work I've ever done; at the end of the day, you feel like you've made a tangible contribution to the betterment of this world, no matter how small it may be.


Thanks Paul - appreciate the link and the encouragement!

Infrared energy auditing is getting very popular. The IR equipment lets you show pictures to your client of where they are losing energy out of their build or out of their appliances/equipment inside the house. This lets you recommend where to work on putting the clients dollars to get the maximum return for the investment on repairs/upgrades.
The equipment is getting much more reasonable. Do a Google search for Infrared Audit and you should find lots of information.
Someone just started doing this in my area and I am going to have them come out this fall when it starts to get cold to see where I might be able to reduce my heat losses.
In Ontario this should go over pretty good!

Pedestrian, you should check out any of the existing EcoEnergy service organizations in your area. It shouldn't be hard to become an NRCan licensed home energy evaluator, especially if you have an aptitude for science.

I have a radical idea for saving businesses energy. It's so bloody obvious, yet they keep looking at the pennies while the dollars float out the window. Here is the directive:

Stop making people commute to your place of business to work or engage in commercial transactions.

Now, this is a highly speculative goal in today's structure, so we need to examine what this really means.

Localize your business support and customer base, or use low energy methods to reach the distant market.

Sounds ridiculous, but look at all the other energy inputs in the form of infrastructure, employees (yes, their energy consumption should be included in the overall audit), inputs, and market access a more holistic picture will come into focus.

This has always been my rant, and it is simply this. The majority of businesses and industries think of their sphere of influence to end at the office door or plant gates. If I may be so bold, this is the most retarded paradigm I have ever seen. And not to be without blame, our engineering firms think the same way. We're engineers God damn it, and we should know better!!

But you see, social behaviours trump education and common sense. So, we're screwed. Then to be completely contradictory, some social inertia is a good thing to prevent radical changes which can be more disruptive than beneficial.

How about conserve NG with CHP (Combined heat and power)? Instead of just burning the gas for heat or burning it in a engine for power, burn it in an engine for power and use the waste heat from the engine for heating. This is the kind of thinking that cheap FF never encouraged. Oh, how many BTUs have we wasted?

Alan from the islands

I works Alan if you can convince everyone to live within 500 m of each other, give up their conveyance of freedom (car, but its an illusion) and agree that 50% of the population should take a long walk off a short pier.

Don't get me wrong yardie, I've been working on these concepts with the bio-energy projects and only 20% of the people in the room get it. They still think waste heat is something that should be vented through a closed loop cooling tower.

BTW, I am an honorary "yardie" as my wife is from Lionel Town, but I do the jerk cooking. And if you want to spread the word in Jamaica, I might be able to help. My wife's aunt owns Reggae Times and is well connected to the media. The Trinnies are on to PO, PNG at the government level and you can't let that stand. You might beat them in cricket, but you can't let them beat you to PO now can you?

Jamaica has significant microhydro (mainly run-of-the river) potential. I would suggest signing a volume deal with a non-profit Swiss engineering firm MHyLab


The French site is slightly more complete than the German & English ones (they are Francophone),

I think the Reunion Island Tram-Train concept (runs both freight, mainly at night and, I think, mid-morning to mid-afternoon) and trams on old railroad ROWs (although Reunion is all new ROW).


A good discussion of tram-trains (focusing on issues in getting them going)


I was surprised, but 3 weeks ago China lent Jamaica 85% of the money to restart their train system !


Few details though :-(

A description of the current rail system in Jamaica.


Hope this helps,


The description of the current rail system is outdated. The 1o mile line from Spanish Town (0ld capital and 2nd or 3rd largest city) and Kingston (present capital) is in total disrepair. No trains of any kind have run on it for years. The shop in Kingston is no longer operation(al and I suspect has been ravaged by scrap metal thieves, which have become a huge problem here. I have no idea how much track has been stolen but I'm pretty sure it has not escaped the thieves.

As for the announcement, we're sort of tired of them. Is that boy crying wolf AGAIN? Is it different this time? I heard the announcement and was not overly impressed by the implementation plan. Jamaica has one of the busiest transshipment terminals in the hemisphere so, I was hoping to hear that they would start with a freight line from the capital and the container shipping terminal. Also there is good revenue potential for commuter rail into the capital from communities within 15 miles along the line.

The 10 mile stretch out of Kingston, is really all that needs to be resuscitated, to bring back useful commuter rail and freight services. The rest has been maintained by the bauxite mining companies who really cant afford to use any other form of freight. A larger challenge would be to resuscitate the line between the mid island mining areas and the north west resort city of Montego Bay but, why not go for the low hanging fruit?

Alan from the islands

I was thinking more of the low hanging fruit i.e, large commercial buildings, schools, hospitals and shopping centres, followed by centrally heated or large residential complexes, council housing etc. Has anyone in the UK done an auddit on how much energy is being wasted/could be saved in these scenarios. It seems like a no brainer to me and may well follow the law of diminishing returns (80% savings from 20% of installations).

After the larger installations have been done, smaller residential blocks could be tackled, Even main street shopping areas could have vacant or abandoned buildings converted to small CHP plants that supply heat to all the businesses within 500m and power to the grid. The street where my sister lives, in the vicinity of Kennington Oval, is way less than 500m long with rows of 4 story flats on either side and commercial buildings in close proximity. I also recall several apartment buildings, probably council housing, that must be home to hundreds of families. I see all these areas as opportunities for energy saving wih CHP,

The least rewarding area would probably be large individual detached houses, usually occupied by high income earners would could replace their boilers wiyh CHP Plants.The Uk has a large and looming problem and is going to have to do a lot more with a lot less. Of course if nobody gets it, then you really have a problem.

Alan from teh islands

I don't have the link off hand, but from memory around 3 million of the c.24 million homes in Britain are the lowest insulation standard, band F, and around 9 million more in band E.
Plenty of low-hanging fruit there!
The DOE has the full figures - it was on their site that I got the info originally, it can be tough to locate info on it though.
I don;t know the figures for commercial or industrial efficiency, this article from the Guardian indicates that a lot could be done with CHP, but I don't know if they have allowed for all the pipework etc - CHP in Holland has had 30 years to get installed, and they live at higher densities than the UK which makes things easier:

I hope this helps.

My sister and her husband read the Guardian. I'll send them the link in case they didn't catch that. They are also doing some work on their house this summer, hopefully including insulation or double glazing. I noticed last year that their windows were not double glazed.


Gas supplies from "unconventional" sources could be very large. Here is a Shlumberger link for shale gas:

"...The Barnett Shale in the Fort Worth basin of North
Central Texas is by far the most active shale gas
play in the United States. The reservoir ranges
from 100 ft to more than 1,000 ft in gross thickness
and holds from 50 × 109 ft3 (50 bcf) to 200 bcf of
gas per square mile. The Gas Technology Institute
estimates that organic shale reservoirs in the
United States contain up to 780 trillion (780 × 1012)
ft3 of gas."

Shale Gas

There was an interview last week on a local station with the head of Encana. He compared the Horn River development in BC to the Barnett Shale in Texas. IIRC, his *guess* was that about 100 TCF could possibly come from Horn River and another 100 TCF from another property (don't recall the name) in BC.

Also, there *may* be the potential of developing methane hydrate deposits, which could be even larger. Research has been going on for several years at the Mallik site in the Arctic.

Mallik Hydrates

In summary, there is probably a lot more NG than is commonly assumed. However, we still need to become a *lot* more energy efficient and stop wasting non-renewable resources.

Here are a few of my thoughts. I perhaps should write a post on the subject.

Conventional natural gas production is clearly decreasing rapidly.

Unconventional is growing, and has the potential to grow some more, but it is likely to start hitting limitations regarding number of appropriate drilling rigs and number of trained people in the next few years, if it hasn't already started to do so. Once unconventional start hitting limitations, its growth rate is likely to drop off a lot. Unconventional may reach a plateau, or grow only slowly.

With the slower growth of unconventional, total natural gas production is likely to start to decline.

Peak oil is also likely to have an adverse impact on natural gas production. For example, workers in Western states drive long distances to work. Natural gas companies use a lot of diesel in their trucks when producing natural gas. If there is a problem with getting the gasoline/diesel, there could be interruption in the production of natural gas. This could make the natural gas supply problem worse.

On the demand side, growth for natural gas continues to increase, because of all of the new natural gas fired power stations built since 1990. These are being used more and more for intermediate supply, not just for peaking, sending up demand for natural gas.

In total, I am probably not all that far from Matt Simmons. Demand is likely to outstrip supply in the years ahead, and the difference is likely to grow, once unconventional gas production hits growth obstacles.

Gail - didn't you do a post on this? I think it was more a report on trip you made to some NG field..but was very good info on this issues with NG production and the things they were doing to make it more effecient and less energy intensive.

You are right--I did talk about at least some of these things, as part of my article about my trip to Wamsutter. I suspect a lot of folks didn't read that article, because it looks kind of technical.

I should probably separate out the gas supply issues, and talk a little more about them.

Hi Gail,

I'd vote for an article.

There are several factors here, each requiring some numbers.

The effects of oil supply disruption (and price) on NG production - also good to look at, as you say.

Perhaps you could also ask Alan could expand on his post above WRT "ways to use less" as part of it.

I think your view is basically correct. The big question as you say is what is the limitation on available rigs? The eia has data showing oil and gas rigs in the '80s was nearly 4000 and now NG rigs is around 1400. I think someone responded to a comment I made awhile ago saying some of those rigs we had in the '80s just aren't around anymore or were the wrong type. I'm not too clear on the details of that.

Anyway, if you plot # operating rotary rigs and # of producing wells over the past 8 years they look almost proportional meaning that a stagnating/constant # of rigs will eventually translate into a stagnating/constant # of producing wells. But average well productivity is declining -> NG production declines.

Gail, in a somewhat related vein Peak Diamonds.

We are getting a request from the diamond mines in the Northwest Territories to construct transmission lines to their facilities. (Watch Ice Road Truckers and you will see what we are up against - I'm doing this one from the computer and Internet as much as possible!)

The mines use diesel for local generation and are approaching 30 MW per facility. Yup, that's a lot of diesel Jetta's! Then there is the phenomena I think most of the TODers are facing:

Peak I Told You So's

Back in November the same diamond mine was engineering the addition of the nth 4.4 MW diesel unit and I was shaking my head thinking it was total folly.

Of course, I don't know if diamond production has peaked. The point is - same as NG extraction - the petroleum fuel price affects nearly everything and creates market shortages as a consequence.

Genies exist in Persian lore and Disney cartoons, and not in energy industries. (For the economists, to quote the captain from Jaws, "Ya fallaw?")

The article above that goes by the title "Iraq to contract with four Western oil companies: report" should be retitled as;

Iraq War Achieves First Objective


The Dallas Morning News had a lot more thorough coverage:


One has to love the part about the "no bid" contracts where the offers of the American and British companies "prevailed over others by more than 40 companies, including those in Russia, China and India" and the conclusion that it is "not clear what role the U.S. played in awarding the contracts."

You also have to wonder at the former Exxon CEO's comment: "We were part of the consortium, the four companies that were there when Saddam Hussein threw us out, and we basically had the whole country."

Although the American and British people paid the price in blood and treasure, this whole Iraq venture holds no upside potential for them, as this editorial from the NYT amply illustrates:


Of course, the interests of the Iraqi people aren't even part of the debate.

It all sounds a lot like this to me....


DownSouth - thanks for the additional info/links.

I especially loved the Exxon CEO quote. Essentially, all is right in the world, now, things have been returned to their "natural" order.

The agreement in Iraq is portrayed as a done deal in the US Media, it is anything but.

'Democratic Senator Barack Obama's presidential campaign has demanded that the deal be submitted to the US Congress - and that Iraqis should be told in no uncertain terms that the US does not want permanent bases in Iraq. Republican John McCain's campaign ... has had nothing to say.

In fact, it had. McCain - with a huge help from Bush - attacked Obama because Obama said he would meet with the "evil" Iranian leadership. That's exactly what Bush's man in Baghdad, Maliki, did only a few days ago.

The only man who can stop the deal dead in its tracks is Iraq's Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. True, he fears that without critical US support the Shi'ite parties in government will be much more fragile. But Sistani also fears the street power of Muqtada al-Sadr - who called the Sadrists to demonstrate every Friday against the deal, until it is scrapped. It's fair to say the majority of Iraqis - the Kurds, Vice President Dick Cheney's "base", are the exception - want to know who they'll be dealing with, Obama or McCain, before they embark on the highly sensitive negotiation of the long-term role of the US in Iraq.'

'For days this has been a top political story all over the Middle East - as well as in Western Europe. It has been broken by the London-based, Saudi-owned al-Hayat newspaper and by Patrick Cockburn of the London Independent. What about US public opinion? It's been kept literally in the dark. Corporate media coverage has been virtually invisible. Maybe this is what corporate newsrooms call "mission accomplished" - not to explain to the American public how Iraq cannot possibly become South Korea.'


"Difficulties always arise from attempts to improve to the point of achieving what is not possible, thereby failing to gain what is well within reach."--J.M. Cameron

I wonder if the winner-takes-all approach of the Bush administration in regards to the Iraq spoils of war undemines our ability to achieve some sort of political compromise in this region. Two things become evident from these negotiations:

1. The Bush administration wants to cut China, India and Russia completely out of the deal, and

2. The Bush administration wants to cut the people of Iraq completely out of the deal.

I remember reading a year or so back that polls show the Iraqi people were overwhelmingly, on the order of something like 90%, opposed to the Bush-backed oil law. The point of the article was that oil is a very salient issue with the Iraquis, and the heavy handed approach of the Bush administration in trying to cram the oil law down the Iraqui people's throats greatly enhanced popular support of the insurgency.

China and Russia probably express their approval by offering Iran economic, military and diplomatic support. If they ever hope to share in Iraq's oil wealth, they've no choice but to channel support of the insurgency through Iran.

The result is that the conflict drags on forever and the United States continues to hemorage blood and treasure.

And this of course pushes the devolpment of Iraq's vast oil reserves farther and farther into the future. As far as the American consumer is concerned, I believe the quicker a compromise can be reached the better. In that way the country can be stabilized and oil and gas exploitation begin in ernest. Does it really matter to world oil markets if Irak's oil is produced by Exxon, Lukoil or PetroChina?

The American people need to realize that they are getting the screws put to them too.

The above should have read: "Does it really matter to world oil markets if Iraq's oil is produced by Exxon, Lukoil, PetroChina or an Iraqi national oil company?"

Afterall, I suppose we shouldn't rule out the possibility of Iraq being a player in the exploitation of its oil fields.

...The result is that the conflict drags on forever and the United States continues to hemorage blood and treasure....

...The American people need to realize that they are getting the screws put to them too.

No, not the American people. Just the folks under 40 who:

1) Are the ones who fight and die in Iraq (their blood);
2) Are the ones who will be paying TRILLIONS long term for this war, which was financed through debt, debt they will repay (their treasure);
3) Are facing a long future with decreasing fossil fuels, increasing environmental damage, and increasing population (their future).

For the record, I'm under 40 by a wide margin.

I understand and appreciate the fact that the effects of the Iraq war (and drunken-sailor spending in general, and global warming, etc) will be felt for a very long time. But it is simply silly to say only the people under 40 are affected, just as sill as to say it is only the people who aren't born yet who will be affected.

We are dealing with a confluence of global tragedies, many of them caused by unconstrained population growth (including your birth). The effects are being felt now. They will be felt for centuries. And they will get worse.

OK, agreed. Everyone feels it. But, there would be a different impact to someone who, like my grandmother, is 75 today (who will be feeling the very beginning of it) vs. someone who, like my son, is 5 today and will watch things unravel as he grows up and becomes an adult.

It's kind of like yeast in a petri dish... The first few get everything they need, throw off some alchohol, keep multiplying, and eventually pollute the dish for all the following yeast. Eventually they all die, leaving just the dish and their effluent.

As for unconstrained population growth... He. I've been snipped. No more population growth for me (2 children is enough).

Geckolizard...Many old people are suffering already and have been for years. I also hope you have the time to take care of her during her remaining years...the 'train wreck' years of the world economy. If she is like my deceased grandmother she has a lot of memories that will be useful to you.

'USA Today reports, for example, that the rate of bankruptcy is skyrocketing among old people. From 1991 to 2007, the rate went up 150%. But for those 75 to 84, the rate has exploded 433%.

The poor codgers. It's bad enough being old. Imagine being broke too.'


I also hope you have the time to take care of her during her remaining years...

Advanced cancer, combined with a heart condition from her chemo, unfortunately will make that short...

But, I apologize. To all the old wise people out there. Sometimes, I see things from my end of the perspective, imagining they were greener elsewhere. I can't imagine a life where my house value drops, where promised pension money is gone (happened to my grandfather- he was promised a pension, company went belly up.), where medical costs are skyrocketing, energy costs to get around or heat/light my house are going up and my income is fixed. I'm sure these reasons, including the bankrupcty stat posted above, are why I'm seeing the 70 year old ladies at Wal-Mart as greeters. I'm sure no one plans to be working minimum wage in their twilight years, and in all reality, now that I see what you are talking about, the grass really isn't greener, it's just brown all around for a lot of people.

The problems will fall disproportionately on the old (and the very young), which of course will include you and me both some day. I'm somewhat on the wrong side of 40 myself, and I'm not nearly as worried about the next 15-20 years as I am about 20+ years on.

Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler said it best:

It may seem off for me, a military man, to adopt such a comparison. Truthfulness compels me to. I spent thirty-three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country's most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high-class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street, and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.

and further, from his book "War is a Racket"

"War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small 'inside' group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes."

This was written in 1935. We really must try to learn from history...

The entire text of this short book is available here

america has made it clear to the world it's not going to peacefully share the remaining oil resources.

after killing several million southeast asians for reasons no one can explain decades later, does anyone really think facilitating directly and indirectly the killing of several million southwest asians since 1980 is not going to end very badly for us?

Will the end be "your American money is no good here" - as in you can't buy anything outta America with the dollar?

To Eric Blair (and other like minded Americans). Of course the yank dollar WON'T be accepted in the US in a few years. Many countries have the situation of a weak currency that local shops refuse to accept. Even if they do accept the poor quality toilet paper as payment you will need fistfuls to buy anything. In many countries the shops selling imported product only accept hard currencies- do you really think after TSHTF that the US dollar will be a hard currency?

Opening the outer continental shelf for drilling is really heating you guys up.

Remember, TIME is the enemy!

The shelf probably does have some oil, but new drilling rigs (of that class) are not possible until after 2012 because the manufacturing companies are booked with existing orders.
This will most likely happen, but the VenMex import issue will already be on top of us by then.

God Help Us.

What torques me most is that this episode diverts people from the message they should be getting; regardless of what we do, the era of cheap, abundant, accessible oil is over regardless of when the actual date of peak oil has been or will be. It is mostly a desperate attempt on the part of the Bush administration and McCain to create a wedge issue for which the Democrats will be blamed. Message: allow drilling everywhere now or take the blame for $4.00 gas. Which, of course, is absurd. But it will resonate amongst a lot of people who are desperate to hold onto some reed of hope that will allow them to continue life and business as usual.

Message: The era of cheap oil is over. Get used to it and make changes accordingly. The government can not save you from petro reality.

Right, as I said yesterday, headlines should scream;


I am still trying to wrap my head around the inflation vs. deflation problem.

I've been reading alot of opinions and I am wondering if it is possible that both camps are right.

Is it possible that we would see deflationary trends in the M3 and inflationary in M0, M1?

In other words, when we have the big financial downturn, under-performing assets or assets of questionable value (like homes, stocks, bonds) would tend to lose value. The over-all money supply would contract due to defaults.

Meanwhile, the Fed would attempt to mitigate a deflationary spiral by dropping rates, injecting liquidity etc which would eventually lead to higher wages for those who are still employed.

So while the value of ones assets might go to zero, the amount of money in ones pocket could potentially go up.

Is this plausible?



Explain how the Fed, through the act of injecting liquidity, will directly or indirectly raise median wages in the USA-they won't, and that is not even one of their goals. Wages can increase because of increased union power or because of increased demand for labour/labour shortage. I have no idea why the public feels the Fed has the responsibility or desire to raise median wages.

The actions of FED are actually meant to decrease real wages. Loose monetary policy results in inflation of goods and services which hits the bottom line of the average wage-person; while at the same time causing massive bubbles in the capital markets which for the most part benefits the top 5% of the population. In a global economy and global financial system this becomes a global process with the average Chinese or Russian hurting even more than the average US citizen. Like the old American saying goes: "F*ck the poor".

This is in contrast to the much tighter monetary policy in Europe, with the UK lying somewhere in between.
I don't know that southern Europe will be able to survive in the Euro, but the central economies seem likely to continue with tight policies.
I doubt that the UK is strong enough to go for hyperinflation, paradoxically, so will be forced to raise interest rates sky-high by a collapsing currency.
I can't see anything to stop the US hyperinflating.

This "much tighter" policy resulted in massive real estate bubbles throughout the whole Europe, which turned entire economies to hostages of real estate. Of course this pales in comparison to what Greenspanomics did around here, but it was no fundamentally different.

The virtue of ECB is that it is much more independent and it can follow slightly tougher policies. I hope it can hold, this is the only way southern economies learn the meaning of the words "sustainable growth".

Dunno enough about the continental economies to argue too much, and in Spain what you are saying is true.
In places like Germany though my understanding is that the rental sector is much larger, for a start, and so the house price boom did not take off to the same extent.
There have been out of town malls built, but retail space is a fraction of that in the US - around a tenth in Italy, for instance!
They haven't got extensive suburbia to write off, and insulation of property is much better, so much of the capital stock should retain value better.
I'm not saying that there are no problems, and exposure by the banks and financial institutions and bubbles elsewhere will hurt, but they do seem relatively less than in the US.

Spain, Portugal, all of the newly adjoined countries - all of them turned into a place to park capital. Practically everyone that had some catching up to do did, and did it with interest. It's always fun while it lasts, but it's not that much when the tide turns back.

UK IMO is a special case, because it's bubble was fed by multiple factors - lower interest rates, scarcity of land, deepening trade deficit. There is a perverse relationship between trade deficits and bubbles - at some point the country becomes dependent on overblowing its asset prices to attract external financing; that's why export oriented economies like Germany, France and Japan avoided going into this trap.

The more favourable conditions apply only in the heart of the old EU, Germany, France, Benelux and also Scandanavia.
Southern and eastern countries are likely to not be able to stand the pace.

The UK, as you say, is different, as it is not subject to the discipline of the Euro and all its fundamentals are worse than the US, from personal debt to balance of payments.
We are to loose at least 25GW out of 75GW of electricity generating capacity, and there are no proper plans to replace it save with LNG and natural gas imports.
Renewables resources are far inferior to the States, with off-shore wind vastly expensive and the latitude is higher than anywhere in the States bar Alaska, which together with heavy cloud cover means that solar incidence in the winter months is tiny.
There are few coal mines and not the vast coal resources of the States, or the Natural gas and oil.
60 million people in 260,000 sq km mean that food is a vital import, whilst our chief export is financial services.

The US position is far more favourable than the UK, although much weaker than the central regions of Europe.

Your chief export may need to become people.

I'm having a hard time envisioning the economy of the future in the UK, at least with the current population. It won't do to be an importer of food and energy. What is the possibility of Nuke buildout? Also, you might be able to figure out how to mine seabed methane hydrates. I'm not sure what the UK supply of those is.

Somehow I can't see many countries wanting lots of immigrants in the future.
As for nuclear build-out the Government displays no sense of urgency about it, and positively discards strategic planning.
It thinks it is in the position of setting onerous conditions on build, and pays no heed to the bottlenecks in castings etc which mean that if you are not on the order list now it will be difficult to get on.
The firm which can actually do a major build and has a proven record of safety is EDF, but they thought that their bid was too low and turned them down, and now intend to invite tenders on a one-off basis, with all the delay and inefficiencies that implies.
About our only hope is that the French may build some reactors to export energy on the channel, as chaos here would impact them.
There is no coherent conservation policy, and suggestions that renewables can do the job are not within the realm of practical engineering.
Methane hydrates, should they be available, would take ten years to figure out how to do it, and ten years to build the production facilities.
One other possibility is that the Japanese or French will start building mass-production nuclear reactors, similar to the Toshiba design or the Hyperion, but that would take ten years at least to get into mass production. Our own nuclear expertise is so run down that they are having to train more people just to be able to regulate and authorise new reactors. Design would be well beyond our capability.
There is no possibility now that we can avoid major disruption to the energy supply with all that implies for the economy, which goes into this situation vastly overdrawn and with massively inflated speculative bubbles in all areas.

When things start to get really bad, you might see forced reverse immigration? ie immigrants being forced to return to their country of origin?

Ethnic and religious divides may lead to the balkanisation of Britain in the event of breakdown, I would have thought.
An extreme level of violence would likely be needed before repatriation occurred, as major areas which have provided recent immigrants such as Pakistan, Jamaica and perhaps India will likely have even more severe problems as fertiliser and fuel shortages bite, and in the case of Jamaica the tourist industry will be gravely hit, although cruise ships may provide some relief at least relative to air travel.
These ethnic and religious divides are probably the biggest problem France faces in its otherwise much more favourable situation.

It starts when Scotland secedes and takes what remains of the oil. Then it's everybody for himself.

That.s going to be a tough call for some people and less so for others. I had a conversation with my cousin's husband who lives in London and works maintenance of public housing. He is in his fifties and complained about stress and the pressure of work. He expressed a very strong desire to come back to Jamaica. After a discussion about PO, he thought he would be better off here than in the UK, How Jamaica would cope with a sudden, large influx of returning residents is another matter.

I was in South London last year and it was my impression that many Jamaicans have not integrated very well into British society. They live in tightly knit ethnic communities and continue many of the lifestyles and traditions of their homeland. Winter is not kind to these people either, It is just not something you get used to after a certain age. Will these people prefer to suffer in a country that they do not consider home? It may come down to, pick your poison, freeze to death or starve to death.

Jon,I agree that it will happen, plenty of cases of formerly prosperous countries either expelling long established migrant communities (think of greeks and others leaving Egypt in the 60s, Indians leaving Uganda in the 70s, white Rhodesians in the 80s till now).
Also plenty of voluntary returnees such as Argentinians migrating back to ancestral homelands such as Italy.
Plenty of examples, plenty more to come

Kohesion...It is definitely possible to have a situation that has been labled in the past 'stagflation' where portions of the economy remain stagnant while there is inflation in other areas. From Wiki...

...snip...'Economists have identified two principal contributing causes of stagflation. First, stagflation can result when an economy is slowed by an unfavorable supply shock, such as an increase in the price of oil in an oil importing country, which tends to raise prices at the same time that it slows the economy by making production less profitable.[5] Second, both stagnation and inflation can result from inappropriate macroeconomic policies. For example, central banks can cause inflation by permitting excessive growth of the money supply, and the government can cause stagnation by excessive regulation of goods markets and labor markets.'...snip...

The US has had a long period of low or no wage growth (after adjusting for inflation) that went largely unnoticed because of cheap imported foreign goods. The off shoring of US labor and demise of labor unions has removed most of the bargaining power of US workers. Now we are experiencing rising costs in some consumer products like food, transportation, etc, accompanied by drops in pricing for homes, autos, discreationary, etc. Consumer credit is contracting, home prices are falling but interest rates for home loans are rising (very bad combination). A wage price spiral, where as prices rise workers demand more pay, is not an option now as it was in some previous recessions.

The big question (imo) is how does an economy that depends on ~70% of GDP to be generated by consumer spending pull itself out of a recession without rising wages while prices of consumer staples (food, gas, etc) are continuing to rise?


For what will happen IMO the best reference is history. During the 70s oil shocks we had rampant inflation, followed by deflationary recession.

That's what I expect to follow now, but the deflationary period will not happen before we see really out of control inflation - read double digits, even in the official figures. In order to prevent a run on the dollar and a hyperinflation the FEDs will have no other choice but raise interest rates sky high, but not until every fiat dollar has lost most of its value in the meantime.

In order to prevent a run on the dollar and a hyperinflation the FEDs will have no other choice but raise interest rates sky high,

I doubt very much that the Fed will raise rates significantly. If they do, more than half of the US banking would default on 1 to 3 Trillion in bad loans. The Fed will continue on the same path. There is no way the Fed and Congress would permit deflation.

Sooner or later Congress will lend an hand in inflation with bailout money for banks and other businesses underwater, and more stimulous money for consumers. The US will most likely slowly move from Stagflation into hyperinflation, probably over a period of five to seven years. I just don't see that the gov't will permit deflation to happen.

Even if deflation did happen, the USD is no longer on the gold standard (or any standard). Congress would authorize massive spending bills and print money as fast as they can. During the 1930's Congress couldn't authorize money handouts, because of the USD gold standard. Congress and FDR made it illegal for americans to own gold, so that they could collect gold from citizens and expand the money supply.

FWIW: I think we'll see Congress pass another stimulus package before November, perhaps 15% to 40% bigger than the first. It is an election year, and no politician wants to be a party pooper.

Oil prices may have peaked because of global demand destruction. If Oil prices do level off it will take some of the inflationary heat off the table.

Only in Japan

i think more like hyperinflationary first.
[i think u'r scenario- i. e. house down some. suv way down, food up, some more wages required to keep us coming to work]

then eventually the whole financial mess collapses :for US particularly ,as the dollar is dumped as world reserve. This would be global monetary crisis. i am concerned a war to be tossed in the mix so that becomes the scapegoat/rallying of 'the people'; maybe new currency, etc.

i think it will be several 'legs/drops' down but ultimately has to be monetary collapse; essentially a global financial one with some countries much better off.

i don't think we go the great depression style deflation; but collapse is similar- no money!

Another article about what seems to be coming:

Gold May Rise to $5,000 on Inflation

The title is a bit misleading. What they actually wanted to say is that "The dollar may drop to 1/5000 of oz. of gold, from 1/900 currently". The dollar will depreciate re all other commodities in a similar way. Get ready for $20 a gallon.

The Energy Bulletin is still down. They should have learned from TOD's experience that Drupal is a disaster!

This is what a test server and backups are for.

Deepwater drill ship building boom graphic
Dearth of Ships Delays Drilling of Offshore Oil

Deepwater drilling operations now cost $600,000 a day, up from $150k a few years ago. Building a deepwater drill ship now costs $500 billion, up from $100 billion.

500 billion? - Half a trillion?

Try 500 million or half a billion

yes, thanks for the correction.

No problem,

a billion here , a billion there and pretty soon you are talking serious money :-)

And yes, they are rather expensive.

And no, they are not being built fast enough.

wondering how the nyt arrived at $600k/day, the most expensive (>4000' semisub) costs $333k/day. only 8 of 61 are not being utilized.
day rates here:


the $600k/day may include capital items, but the article says "drilling costs".

As this link reports Seadrill's rig West Polaris had its contract extended for one year for $219M or 600Kpd.

Further, this report shows cost for two new build jack-up as $420M for delivery in 2010.

"Seadrill's rig West Polaris had its contract extended for one year for $219M or 600Kpd."

yes, but that rate is for 2011 and 2012.

Yes, it shows just how much one must pay today to secure a rig tomorrow. And none are available today. I didn't go to Transocean's (RIG) website, but I found:

Transocean Inc. has been awarded a five-year contract extension worth more than $1 billion by BP PLC.

Houston-based Transocean (NYSE: RIG), the world's largest offshore drilling contractor, said the contract extension for its ultra-deepwater semisubmersible GSF Development Driller II will begin in November and is expected to produce revenue of about $1.06 billion.

The GSF Development Driller II is one of 18 ultra-deepwater floaters in the company's fleet capable of drilling in water depths of 7,500 feet or greater.

So that's $212,000,000/yr or $580,821.91/day.

How to Live With Just 100 Things

Excess consumption is practically an American religion. But as anyone with a filled-to-the-gills closet knows, the things we accumulate can become oppressive. With all this stuff piling up and never quite getting put away, we're no longer huddled masses yearning to breathe free; we're huddled masses yearning to free up space on a countertop. Which is why people are so intrigued by the 100 Thing Challenge, a grass-roots movement in which otherwise seemingly normal folks are pledging to whittle down their possessions to a mere 100 items.

I like the idea, but I would find it tough, I confess. Peak oil awareness doesn't necessarily help when it comes to clutter. On the one hand, I am buying less crap. OTOH, I am saving more things that I once would have thrown out, because they might be useful. Not to mention keeping more food stores about.

Living with just 100 things just might be possible: IF someone grows all your food, and fixes all your meals, and makes and mends and launders all your clothes, and makes and repairs all of your other things, etc.

That isn't the direction that most of us are suggesting that we need to be taking.

It's certainly possible. In some foraging societies, people own only a small handful of things. Like, three or four.

I remember reading about a society where meals were cooked using only two utensils: a pot and a knife. Made cleanup a breeze.

It's probably not possible to reach that level of simplicity in our more complex society, but we can certainly cut back. I could do all my cooking with only one knife. The only reason I have more is that I'm lazy, and my favorite knife is often dirty when I need it. So I just use a different one.

The problem as I see it isn't deciding between the eyeglasses, underwear, socks (I assume two socks are one item?), t shirt, sweater and jeans. Its deciding which 94 books to keep, and how to launder the clothes in a public laundromat without getting arrested for indecency ;-).



With 94 books
1 House
1 Stove
1 Spade
1 Axe
1 Pot
1 Knife

Who needs a laundromat?????


100 things? Does a key ring loaded with keys count as one thing? Last year I discarded about a dozen keys that my memory failed to identify. My wife and I have made an effort to rid ourselves of lots of things and have been somewhat successful. Still, a long way to go to reach 100 things.

100 things...I like it.

Years ago I got divorced and I had to start over with virtually nothing. I left with what I could pack in a suitcase. It was one of the most liberating experiences I ever went through. Now 15 years later I look at the accumulation of "stuff" and it overwhelms me.

I know one thing for certain. If I said to my current wife that we are going to eliminate most of our things she would throw me out with my "100 things".

I am in the process of reading the history of the Klondike gold fields. Many of the prospectors there, especially in the twenty years before the big rush of 1898 lived with 100 things or less. But what is striking is that these things represented the value added effort of many hundreds of other people, many thousands of kilometers away, to make and transport them to the Yukon. Instead of looking simply at the things we have we should be thinking about how many hundereds of people have had a value added hand in supplying those things to us. Can any of us reduce our survival to depending upon 100 people or less?

When I go on vacation, with everything I need in a carry on, I miss nothing. That, in itself, is liberating. I have been getting rid of things for years but still need to do more. I always turn around and sell any books that I buy but must sell/get rid of more. Backpacks, too, are liberating.

I hear ya

One of the anecdotal reasons I have (on top of more thought through reasons) for believing we won't, as a society, make changes is my wife's view. She grew up not having much while being shown so much around her on TV and in the media. She thinks it's her turn. She won't accept any attempt to move her away from the Louis Vuitton/Chanel/Tiffanys/Pottery Barn lifestyle. That mall wanderer living. Mall wonderer would be equally valid I guess :-)

Any Peak Oil mitigation beyond the basic I've started doing, is likely to be a divorce issue. She won't accept that she has to change her life in any way, in fact wants more and more and more (despite how unsatisfied it makes her). And her friends are all like this. And so many people I know are like this.

I'd love to move to 100 things... I might start a spreadsheet to whittle down what I'd keep... but I think I'll be doing it alone.

It can be very difficult to convince family members and even a spouse of the gravity of peak oil. No one in my extended family wanted to believe me when I explained to them what what likely to happen in the future 4 years ago after I ordered Richard Heinberg's book and read it. I felt sad but I didn't give up. I daily told my husband "peak oil breaking news" I had gleaned on the net. I never gave up a chance to mention it. I think, 4 years on, that I am getting through. (But there were big arguments along the way!) I know I'm getting through because I can see it in his eyes. He reads the newspapers too. He really hated thinking about the whole thing at first but now he suddenly is getting more clued in---yet he has a different idea about how to mitigate the problem. (ELP is not on his to-do list yet, although I've explained that it will eventually have to be). There is still a long way to go as far as his truly grasping the magnitude of this---but that might be true for me too.

We are not old yet, nor young. It is funny that this should come along now, really, when all our education and our expectations had prepared us for something totally different.

Yet folkish and local ways (ELP at heart) are not, in and of themselves, unpleasant. From them we get small farming, folk tales and hand made furniture, folk festivals and ballads to mention a few. Actually they have comprised human experience for a long time and enriched it. And will be around long after the Pottery Barn and General Motors are just a memory.

Ditto our household.

The battle for the Child's consumption programming is in full swing.
Just when I think I'm winning [child prefers the deals at the consignment shop over mall retail clothing store rip-offs; child grows tomato from seed; child sews her own doll accessories], UberConsumer Parent convinces child she needs to buy ipod, cell phone, to go see newest movie every weekend, and go out to daily restaurant meals instead of eating home-made & leftovers. Not to mention multiple shopping trips to American Girl in NYC.

I hear trouble a-brewing. Sorry pal, but you are screwed. Times like these are going to impose tough choices and the toughest of all will be "life boat companions".

I don't think we are going from BAU to Mad Max in a month, but I do find it constructive to identify those that share your point of view - spouse or not. In the end it comes down to survival and we, as a species, are very good at it. You will find yourself making decisions you didn't want to. (Just in case you asked, got the T-shirt).

You can't eat LV, and the mall is a vacuous existence. Put on some Handel, pour a good old vine Zin and say F*#k It!

BTW, must have on the 100 things - cork screw!

Just my 2 cents.

BTW, must have on the 100 things - cork screw!

No, SWISS ARMY KNIFE with corkscrew. Need to be thinking in terms of combining multiple things into one thing.

The saving old things part is probably a good idea. I am finding that it is getting more difficult to replace things with new ones of the same quality, and I fear much may not be available in the future. So I too am tending to put things aside and say "well, I might need this some day..."

"well, I might need this some day..."
If you could see the crap behind my shop for that reason. OMG!

My shop has more than 100 things in it, and I actually use most of them on a regular basis. If anybody wants to be self-reliant they're going to need a lot more than 100 things. I think the key to the concept here isn't so much the number as the utility of what a person owns. If they are using the things they own, then they don't own too much.

I'd have to count the 3000+ books as one item before I start. From there I think I'd be ok.

Hello IanSF,

WTSHTF, and there is no TV anymore, you might be able to scratch out a meager income as a private librarian renting these books.

But make sure you keep the books onsite, otherwise ignorant people will take them home to use the paper-sheets as toilet paper or to burn for cooking their meals.

A valuable book will be a terrible thing to waste postPeak!

Thanks Totoneila-

That's exactly the plan. I intend to find a nice stable agricultural community asap and be the post-SHTF librarian as a specialty. I've also packed away a few cases of copy paper and lots of pens/pencils as the Xerox machines probably won't be working. No books leave, but people are welcome to take notes. I'm hoping that will make me a valued part of the community. (Now I just need to find said community as I'm still stuck working here in the Bay Area.)

Of course, I'm still stocking heirloom seeds, tools and I just found another "misery whip" 6' two-person logging saw at a yard sale for $25. That makes four. Lots of farm/garden/prep type books can be found on the cheap now at yard sales and flea markets.

Yes, but "Library" counts as one item. That is, until you are forced to move it by manual labour - best of luck.

Just in case you think I am a total twit, we have the same problem. The amount of money and energy I have spent moving books around drives me nuts.

Weekly NG storage Report:

Working gas in storage was 1,943 Bcf as of Friday, June 13, 2008, according to EIA estimates. This represents a net increase of 57 Bcf from the previous week. Stocks were 376 Bcf less than last year at this time and 52 Bcf below the 5-year average of 1,995 Bcf. In the East Region, stocks were 27 Bcf below the 5-year average following net injections of 38 Bcf. Stocks in the Producing Region were 1 Bcf below the 5-year average of 668 Bcf a net injection of 7 Bcf. Stocks in the West Region were 24 Bcf below the 5-year average after a net addition of 12 Bcf. At 1,943 Bcf, total working gas is within the 5-year historical range.

NG at Henry Hub traded above US$13/MMBtu which compared to crude oil and on an energy basis is below 60 % of the price on energy, 1 MMBtu, from oil (presently at US$135/bbl (+/-US$3/bbl intraday).

NG is despite the historical high prices still relatively cheap, and customers with dual fuel capability will switch to NG for price reasons. Though it looks like NG prices need to go further north to leave the storage facilities at comfortable levels before the heating season.

I agree. Natural gas is still cheap compared to oil. It has a ways to run up, if storage is to be filled and if the historical BTU spread with oil is to be maintained.

I am not sure five year average storage ranges are the best for comparison purposes. Our need for gas seems to be going up with more natural gas electricity generation. If this is the case, we should be adding more storage capacity.

Yet, we can't confuse fuel substitution with technology substitution. The inertia of the technology (depreciation, capital, industry life span), may not make it through the cycle. That is, industries/users with a short time horizon may elect to bite the spot market prices rather than invest in new equipment to facilitate fuel substitution.

Price is important, but the natural frequencies are equally important. (In engineering parlance, we call these natural frequencies transfer functions and the demand/supply forcing functions - to be overly simplistic). There is a physical dynamic that tends to get lost in the "infinite market" perception.


Regierung beschließt Klimapaket
Berlin (dpa) - Die Bundesregierung erhöht den Druck auf die Bürger zum Energiesparen für den Klimaschutz. Das Kabinett verabschiedete das zweite Energie- und Klimapaket, mit dem die Regierung den Klimawandel abschwächen und ihre Vorreiterrolle beim Klimaschutz untermauern will. Die Bürger müssen künftig bei alten und neuen Gebäuden deutlich mehr Energie sparen. Zudem wird die Maut für Lkw angehoben und das Stromnetz von Nord nach Süd ausgebaut. Opposition und Umweltverbände kritisierten das Paket als zu wenig ambitioniert.

Summary paraphrase:
New German government regs. Stricter renovation standards for enrgy savings. Higher road tolls for trucks and north -south electrical net will be expanded. environmental groups and opposition criticize it as too little.

Also EU phases out conventional light bulbs by 2015 in favor of energy savings bulbs.

Additionally I think that the average costs (disposabl income) for people to pay for energy is going up to late 70s level (see Puplava wrap up) but my additional thought is that the average is a lot different now than then. FOr example income distribution is heavily skewed to the wealthy nowadays and energy use is like eating, everybody uses about the same to run a car, a house, etc. So I think if the average energy costs related to income is a certain percent then excluding those upper 5-10% of the population with very high incomes we could come up with a suffer index. At $4/gallon in USA 20% of population fall out of the market (eat or heat) and for each $1-$2 another 20% of the US population is reduced to misery. So at 20$/gallon only Bill Gates could care less.

Quintile USD/gallon
bottom 20% 4$
2nd 20% 6$
3rd 20% 8$
4th 20% 10$
5th 20% 12$

1st Q below 18,500
2nd Q $18,500-34,738
3rd Q $34,738-55,331
4th Q $55,331-88,030
5th Q $88,030-157,176
top 5% over $157,176

This is just off the cuff but what does it cost to run a car and average house in terms of energy.


$2000/annum for house from above but depending on climate and house size, etc. variable.

Transport costs also depends on where you live ( http://htaindex.cnt.org/) but we can take this very good article on Disposable household income and energy costs from 2005:


I have no car and will "guess" $3000/annum for one car for fuel alone.

3000 + 2000 = $5000 energy costs at $4/gallon for typical person.

5000/18,500 = 27% of income
5000/35000 = 14,3% of income
5000/55000 = 9.1% of income
5000/88000 = 5.7% of income
5000/157000 = 3.2% of income
upper 5% don't bother much about prices

supose however that the price goes up to $6/gallon and that electric for household and heating by gas/oil go up exactly in proportion, i.e. 50% then $7500 is the cost
so at USD 6/gallon thge quintiles suffer so:

at 8 USD/gallon we will say USD 10,000/household energy costs


at 10USD/gallon $12500/household/annum


at 12USD/gallon $15000/household/annum average energy costs


This is way too long ( I don't know how to put a graph in or how to get one done even)and probably inaccurate off the cuff guesstimate but the idea is there. What is killing the bottom 40% now will kill the bottom 60%-80% of the population at double the price and everyone at triple the price.

Thanks for posting and sharing.

This could illustrate how demand also may be affected with the price increases, thus presently there will now be a limit how much oil will go up before sufficient demand is reduced to bring it in line with or just below supplies, which could trigger a temporary retreatment in oil prices.

This idea needs expanding. Westexes has also talked about quintiles but its good to see some more numbers.

One idea: An almost impossible amount of info to crunch but all countries are going to be split like this so the top quintile in China is now in direct competition with the bottom quintile in the US, etc. But there's like 300 million of them instead of just 50 million.... As the wealth curve shifts in these developing countries the quintiles overlap more and more... Maybe Khebab can help picture this evolving 'Country Quintile Competition' -"CQC"... :o)


and more generally:


The typical American household budget percentage breakdown looks like the list below. For most of the categories a range is shown. A range makes more sense to help you see where your personal budget fits (or doesn't fit.) If your budget doesn't fit the typical American household budget, rejoice! The average American household budget is jacked up - we carry too much debt and we just don't save enough. We're so worried about our neighbor's new pool, our co-worker's new car and our friend's new designer shoes that we spend more than we earn to try and keep up. But take heart! Review the percentages below, compare your household budget and then read on to find out how you can move yourself into the elite minority of Americans who have mastered where their money goes.

Typical Household Budget Percentages

33-38% Housing (59%-66% of this is on shelter - mortgage interest, property taxes, repairs, and rent, and other items)

15-19% Transportation (38-48 of this is vehicle purchase - 2 cars per household average)

13-14% Food Budget (55% at home, 45% away)

0-2% Alcohol

0-3% Tobacco and related products

0-2% Caffeine related products

4-5% On clothing and related services (drycleaning)

4.5 - 6% on out of pocket Health Care

9% Personal Insurance and Pensions (breakdown: 1% life and other personal insurance, 7.5% SS, .5% investment

5% Entertainment

2.5% Charitable Contributions

2% Reading and Education

1% Personal Care products and services

2% Miscellaneous

4% Credit Card, Consumer Loan Interest

I tzhink of all the above food and transport/heating will climb proportionately with oil price. So if half of car cost (10% of income) is gas/petrol and 13% of income is food then 1/4 of income is tied to oil price. The other 75 % is fixed cost (rent, mortgage, insurance) and will not inflate rapidly or can be reduced (entertainment, etc.).

So 25% of income(food and transport/heating costs) doubles to 50% of income as oil price doubles or triples(depending on which quintile you are in of course). So people very soon have to choose to heat/drive or eat in the lower quintiles sooner. This of ocurse is regionally varied, depending on A/C or heating requirement or whether you live in big house in suburbs far away in Texas/Minnesota (AC requirements/high heating bills) or a small apartment in downtown moderate climate seattle/Portland with bike/public transport access. Kunstler is very right. Add in the international part of the equation, with Chindia/Arab/Russian growing demand, etc. and ELM and we have a witches brew particularly with the linear nationalist neocon thinking without any compromises in American Way of Life as is apparent in their "negotiations" with Maliki govt. and Iran.

Best hopes for an end to Bush regime/Detroitguzzlerdom/suburbia and a smooth transition to Powerdown/ELP and electrorailtransportoville.

Interesting, this really brings it down to the 'user'level.

Its hard to see where the fat lies -I guess a comparison with -say- 1940s/50s levels for these items would show up where oil has influenced our lifestyles the most.

Transport is obviously something that has got 'out of control', also half of the food budget on take-aways. I remember my first restaurant experience as a boy in the 70s. It was a big deal (UK). All the other stuff looks like bits and bobs.

Housing is probably historically average, its never been cheap keeping a roof over your head, your own roof has always been a luxury.

Yes, very interesting.


Hello everyone,

I've just joined this site, but I've been reading it for the last couple months. I was interested in the site initially because it reminded me of when I was back in highschool and used to read Scientific American. There was one artical explaining 'Peak Oil' - I believe it was titled 'The End of Cheap Oil'. I remember telling everyone that we would have to find something else to run our cars on soon - and here we are in 2008. It's finally happening.

However, I'm not as much of a doomer as some of you are. I think the internet is going to solve a lot of our problems with transportation. So much more can be done over the internet now - I think telecommuting is going to become more of the rule rather than exception. America will have enough oil to supply basic needs (such as food production) even as exporting stops or becomes highly competitive. Also we shouldn't forget Americas large ability to produce food. We are lucky to have so much arable land - the excess food we produce will become (or is becoming) a valuable commodity we can trade with the rest of the world.

Since I am an engineer, I can't help but get excited about the technology that will be developed as the oil age ends. I've seen technology do unbelivable things with consumer electronics and look forward to be part of the coming energy revolution. I know it will be painful since we have waited for the economic pain to provide the motivation, but the world will be a much better place once the transition has been made.

Anyhow - I look forward to having many thought provoking conversations with you all.


I have great hopes too, but what most people fear is the timing. If you are a pilot, Peak-Oil already sucks pond water.

The key issues are the time required to migrate off something that is so intertwined with modern life, coupled with the propensity of humans to wait until the last minute to do anything. I can imagine a world in which people took sensible actions to conserve energy and develop alternatives. But I don't live in that world, which tends to make me rather doomerish.

I would think that as an engineer you would understand a little about the concept of interconnectivity. For example, the internet is a highly complex system dependent, among other things, on a reliable electric supply. If that electric supply is threatened, what happens to the internet?

However, I'm not as much of a doomer as some of you are.

I urge patience. You'll get there.

Come on guys give him a break, he has to find his own conclusions...!

Now, does anyone know how much chickens consume in grams/day? ;o)


P.S. middle-west, some resources for you that sum up 2 years as a TODer:

Peak Oil speculative timeline (PO:2012): http://www.flickr.com/photos/8745365@N04/2504887199/sizes/o/
"Peak Oil Joining The Dots": http://www.megatrends2020.com/Peak_Oil__Joining_The_Dots.doc

It takes two pounds of corn to get one pound of chicken.

Not Free Range Chicken, Factory Farm Chicken

From the Speculative Timeline:
"The Good Life" tops British Comedy Charts


...join the dots...


("The Good Life" to all those that don't know is an old UK comedy program about a couple living in 70s suburbia who decide to live 'outside of normal society' with chickens, pigs, etc... Its currently #9 in the comedy charts but as more and more people come to live like that it will be fondly remembered and associated with and move up to #1 -just IMO :o)

Isn' this just a rehash of Green Acres?

The Good Life/Good Neighbors is one of my all time favorite BBC comedies. We've got the DVD set and watch all of the episodes several times each year.

It is interesting, although the Goods (or the writers, rather) only got things about halfway right. I'm afraid I must caution against relying upon it as a DIY guide!

One thing that struck me was how much more feasible it must have been to try what the Goods did in the UK as opposed to the US. Consider:

1. They had NHS, so no need for health insurance. No such luck here in the US. Yes, you can try just living without it and depending upon emergency rooms and public health - millions do just that. It is considered a major problem over here, and one hardly gets more than absolutely minimal treatment. Not recommended. Yet, how on earth can you come up for enough money for health insurance without some form of money-earning employment?

2. Their home was paid in full. Tom had accomplished that with only his income as a low-level draftsman/draughtsman over the course of seven years, without his wife working, and it was actually a pretty nice house in a pretty nice suburb. Maybe that was realistic in the UK then, I don't know. I do know that it would have been totally unrealistic in the US then, and certainly so now, unless one were exceptionally lucky and had inherited from a rich uncle or someone. For the vast majority of us, we have mortgages, and if you have a mortgage, then "Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it's off to work we go".

3. Their water was not metered. If I understand it correctly, their water was covered under flat annual "rates", which meant that they could provide all the water they needed to their livestock and water their garden all that they needed to without paying for it. For those of us here in the states on metered water, the cost of the extra water usage adds up fast. (And if you are in a US suburb anything like Surbiton, then you will be on municipal water, not on a well).

4. They had cooperative neighbors and civic authorities. They were not busted by code compliance officers for keeping livestock in a residential neighborhood; even when a neighbor complained, they were only subjected to some friendly mediation. They were allowed to graze their goat on the village green (thanks to the persistence of medieval laws and customs). Most US communities would be much less accomodating.

5. They were able to get a large allotment in their 2nd year (two, really, including Jerry's). While some US towns and cities have community gardens, many do not, and the plots are considerably smaller on average than the typical UK allotment. The combination of two allotments plus both their front and very large back yards really gave them quite a lot of land to cultivate. It wouldn't be as easy for anyone in similar circumstances in the US to get as much land to work with.

6. They had a relatively mild climate with a long growing season. Almost all of England is great for growing vegetables, especially Surry where the Goods supposedly lived. They may get a little snow and frost in the winter, but not much. Much of the US has far more temeperature and precipitation extremes compared to England's green and pleasant land.

Thus, the bottom line is that anyone trying to do in the US what the Goods were trying to do in the UK would have had a much harder time of it. That probably still holds true today.

British sitcom - called "Good Neighbors" in the USA because of the clash of names with the US show starring J.R. Ewing :-)

I used to watch that show every week. Our local PBS affiliate had a lot of British comedy programming. But I must admit I watched it more for Felicity Kendal than the self-sufficiency message.

Felicity Kendall was rated for years to have the No 1 rear in the UK. So you were not alone in enjoying "The Good Life" for this reason.

"...I think telecommuting is going to become more of the rule rather than exception."

I agree. In NA, millions of people commute to offices (often alone in an SUV) where they sit in front of a computer screen. They could be just as effective working from home or a mini-office at the local shopping mall.

There have also been experiments in operating heavy equipment remotely for the oil sands. Probably still a few years from practical deployment.

Moving/housing people is energy intensive and expensive. Moving electrons is cheap - and getting cheaper.

But of course, if you can do the job via telecommuting, someone in India or the Philippines can do it for a fraction of your salary.

Only if the grid is up.

Yeah, but the grid may not be up here, either.

Any job that can be done by telecommuting deep after peak is probably not a job at all and won't exist.

I hear JHK and others making this point a lot, and I just don't think it's true. What may be true is that the PERCENTAGE of people in white-collar jobs will decrease, but the jobs won't disappear forever. There have been lawyers, accountants and such for hundreds of years, long before fossil fuels were discovered. People in the American colonies were going to law school in the 1700's.

The clergy has been employing people in non-physical jobs for thousands of years, and I don't see that stopping. Engineers have also been able to find good employment for at least the last 5000 years.

Consumer, you must have missed the news. Cheney is trying to get rid of lawyers. One at a time.

'There have been lawyers, accountants and such for hundreds of years, long before fossil fuels were discovered. People in the American colonies were going to law school in the 1700's.'

Yes, you are correct. Ever since the real working men and women created enough excess through their toil a 'white collar class' emerged to feed at the trough of excess. If you would like to find out exactly how this occured in America you can read Howard Zinn's most excellent 'American People's History of the United States'. BTW, Zinn's history book is the largest selling history book ever published in the US and is in it's umpteenth printing.

Many engineers believe that we (all 6.6 billion of us) can be saved from PO by technofixes. The jury is still out on that one.

'The clergy has been employing people in non-physical jobs for thousands of year, and I don't see that stopping.'

Many of the clergy that you cite were monks working their butts off in fields every day, raising their own food, sleeping little, without heat, praying a lot, eating an almost starvation diet, and occasionally copying manuscripts of a bible or whatever. Not exactly 'white collar' by modern definition and a job that I doubt many of us would last long in.

Some followers of various religions have been known to get really nasty and cut off the heads of 'religious leaders' when the rains failed or an earthquake destroyed an aquaduct that carried water to fields that turned to desert without the water.

And then there is the story of the French Revolution...let them eat cake...but maybe we should save that one for another day?

Self-sufficient clergymen. What a concept!

I've always been suspicious of people who claimed that most of the jobs in the future were going to be in services and that fewer and fewer people were going to be employed in agriculture, manufacturing and construction. I could never wrap my head around it but I just knew there was something wrong with that picture. Now I realise that future is one cooked up by growth worshiping economists who know nothing about limits to growth.

It is cheap abundant FF that gave allowed this party to continue for as long as it has and as the title of the book says "the party's over". For anywhere near the amount of people alive on the planet to stay alive, we are going to have to do the work that FF used to do for us. Either that or we'll have to get very creative and tap other available sources of energy to do the work for us. Problem is, middle west, as Matt Simmons so frequently says, we've run out the clock. There are currently over 6.6 billion of us alive on this planet, who depend on a resource for our survival, which resource is likely to dwindle to a level of irrelevance well within our lifetimes. The problem, as Robert Hirsch has said, is that if PO is happening now, we are all absolutely unprepared.

I too believe technology could have eased the pain a great deal but, I fear we have left it too late. For example I want a EV now and I want a cost effective VAWT (Vertical axis wind turbine) now. The technology exists but, it is still in the development stages. By the time they are ready to mass produce much of the technology we need, it is likely that we will be on the down side of Hubert's curve and facing all sorts of resource constraints' I think Robert Hirsch's point was that mitigation should have began while there were little or no constraints on energy resources but, hope springs eternal. Those of us who have the good sense and foresight, should seek to help those we come in contact with as much as is possible.

Alan from the islands

The Service Economy is the mythical Swiss Village. Boy, I bought into that one in the '80s also. Do I feel screwed over? You betcha! I see the future and it doesn't include Marketing Executives, Organizational Consultants, or Tort Lawyers for that matter (Yeh! Shakespeare got that one right).

Yet Jamaica has a good chance of survival only because the present society is not that far removed from the agricultural society. This may not be apparent in Kingston or Montego Bay, but it is obvious to me with my in-laws Achie tree, Mango trees, Pepper plants, and bananas in Miami. (Caution, don't eat Achie unless you really like scrambled eggs).

Then you hit the Mango fruiting year and you wish to never see another Mango again! Can't give them away by the box load.

Anyhow, Jah-may-cahh will survive, it just won't be the tourist haven and it will certainly go through some pain - deep pain. Quite the sage forecast from Canada, eh? I've spent enough time around the family, the emigrants and I think I understand the mindset clear enough.

Yet Jamaica has a good chance of survival only because the present society is not that far removed from the agricultural society.

The place is also rather poor - the oil use per person is rather low already.
population: 2663735; GNI per capita (US$): 3480.00

The lower one is, the less far it is to fall.

Yet Jamaica has a good chance of survival only because the present society is not that far removed from the agricultural society. This may not be apparent in Kingston or Montego Bay,....

Unfortunately a disproportionate amount of the population live in these two cities and their dormitory communites, with another large block living in the larger towns. Relatively few people live in small deep rural communities but, yes these are the people who will probably adapt to the post peak world most easily. For the rest of us, I can see the deep pain.


When rumors were swirling that the Y2K bug was going to bring down the grid, I visited the control rooms at a couple of Hydro plants (in western Quebec) to check for myself. I can't think of *anything* that could stop a hydro station (assuming that there is water in the river) other than a major earthquake or nuclear blast.

Also, I went through a nuclear plant during construction and got some sense of its operation. Nuke plants don't rely on daily fueling like coal plants and I can't see any obvious reason that they would start failing in an energy crunch.

Coal fired plants would be vulnerable to insufficient coal supplies or lack of diesel for transportation; NG plants are vulnerable to shortages of NG. And, of course, major accidents (like in Western Australia) can mess up a lot of things.

Security of electricity supplies will vary by region. For some regions (Pacific Northwest, Quebec), I can't see any problems; the Great Lakes region is probably ok; the American east coast could be more vulnerable.

In any case, we will discover the limits to the grid once everyone starts recahrging their EV's and PHEV's.

It's not the plants I see as the most vulnerable. It's the rest of the infrastructure.

You see this after a big storm, when the lines go down and thousands of people are left without electricity. Utility crews come from all over the country to make repairs. I don't see that as sustainable.

I think the grid will fail in roughly the reverse order it was built. Eventually, they'll simply stop making repairs in rural and poor areas. If they aren't paying their power bills anyway, what's the incentive to keep the lines maintained?

In that respect, I can agree.

Political and social stability are prerequisite to maintaining the electrical grid as well as all the other infrastructure and knowledge accumulated during the past couple centuries.

The social risks that I can envisage are:

  • a dramatic rise in poverty (perhaps caused by the ongoing financial crisis augmented by higher energy costs)
  • "messianic messages" like the nutcase who preaches about the limitless reserves in Alaska
  • stupid political agendas such as ethanol, suing OPEC, nationalization, etc - the list is very long
  • increasing regionalism and nationalism
  • war - US/Iran, Japan/China, Iran/Saudi - lots of permutations and combinations
  • general scapegoating of speculators/Arabs/China/India or whoever - high prices are *their* fault
  • people's unwillingness to lose previous investment in BAU - one of JHK's theses
  • widespread lack of scientific literacy
  • ongoing laziness, dishonesty and incompetence in the media

The physical challenges of maintaining energy supplies don't unduly concern me.

I am much more concerned with the potential for some sort of mass hysteria when people begin to realize that *their* future will be different from what they had planned.

IMHO, it is good idea to stay in an area with low population density and strong community traditions.

IMHO, it is good idea to stay in an area with low population density and strong community traditions.

I think that only applies if you and your family are already enmeshed in such a community.

If you are not, then you can't just move there and expect to be accepted. You'll be the outsider. Possibly for generations. And if TSHTF, it could suck a lot more than being in a big, anonymous city.

You're right.

I grew up in Quebec where my family has been established since 1775. My wife is French-Canadian and I very comfortable in the French "milieu" (I speak to my wife and kids in French). It's extremely hard for outsiders to ever assimilate completely.

Calgary is pretty much the opposite. The majority of people here come from somewhere else. To be accepted, you just need business/engineering skills (or money) and the ability to socialize.

For a lot of people, it will be a choice of which city to be in when TSHTF. Try to choose a city near energy, food and water. Perhaps Pittsburg is better than Phoenix, Seattle is better than Atlanta, etc.

With rising poverty you should also worry about the power lines getting looted for the copper. If electricity is that valuable maybe we'll adapt to the problem, say, swift vigilante justice for copper thieves?

99.x% of power lines are a mixture of aluminum and steel (for added mechanical strength). Today, almost all leaders to home meters are also aluminum.


Guess you're right. From searching news stories, a lot of the copper thefts are grounding wires which are being replaced with copper clad steel wires.

With Time of Use metering EV cars are more likely to contribute to the stability of the grid:

They would form an ideal way of utilising sources like wind power.
If a V2G system which would enable them to feed power back in is adopted they would form a massive back-up facility for the grid at no extra cost, so large in fact that the drain on individual cars would be negligible.

The power use of EV's is only around 250-300watts/mile and the US grid is only stretched at peak, to many millions of EV's could be built before it became anything of an issue.

I keep seeing this talk of EVs allowing the grid to become more stable by providing an off peak energy supply. What happens when that energy supply gets used up on a hot summer night and nobody has any juice to drive to work the next day? If we continue to consider personal vehicles as mission critical, they cannot be used a load balancer for the main electric grid which is also mission critical. That's just plain bad engineering.

The energy store in EV's would be so large that only a very small amount of their power would be needed to meet a peak surge.
If you had just 10,000,000 EV vehicles with 20kwh batteries that gives you a reserve of 200GW, with the electric grid generating around 460GW on average and around 1,000GW peak.
This would constitute a fantastic resource for the grid, already paid for.

I don't think I've made it clear that the function of the EV's is balancing against brief surges, not running the grid for a few hours on hot nights.
It is this which is valuable and protects grid infrastructure and it uses comparatively little electricity.

Actually you should have said 200GWhr, i.e. 200GW for an hour, or 20GW for ten hours.

But, on the assumption that PV will become cheap/common, I suspect nighttime charging will be out, as baseline cannot affordably be provided by solar. If fuel is still not exorbitantly expensive, the PHEVs could be used as ordinary hybrids during periods of low sun&wind power.

Remember the study was in California where the peak A/C is during the day. Even in warm parts of CA nights are generally cool. Hot summer nights must be a southern thing!

Yes, and the V2G people have got to ask 'What's in it for ME...? Why should I hook up my EV to the grid so the power company can take power from me whenever suits their whims...?'

I think the economical solution will be that V2G folks will get a discount from the electric company for electricity with the following caveat: when the grid gets overloaded, they are the first ones cut off. Then, the V2G tech from their car will power their individual houses while they are disconnected. It's called load shedding... For instance, my A/C in my house is set up in a fashion that the electric company can turn it off remotely to eliminate the load when the grid gets critical. I get lower rates, and the electric comany manages peak load.

If this is really where we are headed, we might as well just build out specific batteries for load balancing (either for home use or neighborhood use) that we can draw from during peak and recharge off-peak.

However, what I think is really ironic is that the peak times happen when A/C (or heat) is turned to the max on really hot (or cold) days... And most folks are at work at this time. Programmable thermostats, especially if they could be managed remotely with load shedding, are probably a better way to manage peak load.

See my links on TOU metering I gave in other posts for the proven effectiveness of giving people financial rewards for linking up.
The power use from the cars would be minor as indicated upthread, and saves a fortune on specific build of batteries.
It's a nearly free perk.

They just see a lot of electrical energy storage capability, that they won't have to pay for, and are salivating about how to get ahold of it. Since all battery technology has a limited number of charge/discharge cycles before it degrades any knowledgeable EV owner will need a pretty decent incentive to sign uo for the V2G stuff.

Calgary, I'm too lazy to reference the comment by HereinHalifax, and comments by myself to thank and support, but BC Hydro has caught onto the notion of "fuel-switching".

I get a kudo for making this a consideration in a monolithic organization since I used term erroneously. The usual terminology is "fuel substitution". So, the PO (aka TOD) community has contributed to the larger discussion. Mission accomplished. (Take notes GWB, this is what it really means).

Provinces with hydro generation (Labrador, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, and BC) will do very well - just look at our electrical rates. But the fairy tale ends there.

I have become aware that our energy infrastructure is interconnected and if it goes bad in Arizona, it goes bad for us as well. That is the nature of the grid. We cannot think of our provincial electrical systems as silos, we are part of "The Grid".

Although I'm not motivated to find solutions for the sorely misguided residents of the Southwest, I realize to save ourselves, they are part of the bargain. Its a weight, a burden I never signed up for, but we will prevail.

Just stop building golf courses and expansive suburbs in the desert you morons!!

Wait, I take that back, we are screwed.

Not necessarily.
There is still an advantage to having a telecommuter nearby.

They can come into the office easily if they need to.

Many people telecommute several days a week and work from the office the rest of the time.

Telecommuting is a fine solution for many "information" or tech sector jobs but it won't do for the type of work that many of us do -- teachers, firemen, policemen, doctors/nurses, store clerks, etc.

I also wonder what sort of "babysitting" measures companies are going to require of their workers before they let them work in their pajamas? Will we be willing to install surveillance equipment/software so that we can be spied upon in our own homes? Gad!

At any rate, telecommuting might help but it won't be a panacea.

I think some of the professions you mention can certainly be done digitally, thru the internet, however you want to term it. In fact, some are underway. Especially in Healthcare...where one can now email your doctor for care advice. This results in less office visits, less driving into the clinic by the patient. Many visits result in very few minutes with the clinicians and a lot of time spent in the waiting room anyway. Many times folks are looking for quick answers to perhaps a simple problem that ails them. An email to the doc can get the information they are looking to get and the care they need. Our information infrastructure can and does have a huge role to play in driving demand down for transportion resouces. We could significantly, IMHO, take more advantage of this capability.

I also wonder what sort of "babysitting" measures companies are going to require of their workers before they let them work in their pajamas?

Although slackers will certainly be an issue, I'd be more concerned about the opposite problem: that of having conscientious workers who work their contracted hours on management dispatched tasks at home but without being in casual contact you get from people working together there's much less chance of people discussing stuff and realising the work they're diligently doing is misguided or useless. At least in the information technology companies I'm familiar with the biggest problem even with physical present workers is not with people slacking off but that the effort people are putting is often not producing anything that really helps the company.

We could certainly eliminate a lot of retail this way. I hate salesmen so much that I hardly buy DVDs or electronic equipment in person anymore.

The problem is, if we all bought non-food items on-line, without the salesmen on commission to cajole us, we might wake from our hypnosis and realize we don't need most of this stuff.

Or is that really a bad thing?


Au contraire! Internet-based classrooms would be the best thing for education. It would end the biggest two problems we have: unequal distribution of funding and social problems affecting the classroom. Don't have a computer? Gather at a friend's house or go tot he library... of course, this requires a grid and an internet that are in working order. Is that any bigger a problem than getting kids to the classrooms? I think perhaps not.

I think we can prioritize here. In fact, I think it's necessary. If we leave it to the monks to preserve knowledge again, I suspect we will all heartily regret it.


Au contraire! Internet-based classrooms would be the best thing for education.

I'm betting one could get away with single player games - and it would do better than many of the teaching methods.

We can do better than 'computer as flashcard'



This issue is framed and dissected on this site as the geological issue which it is.

It takes time to come to appreciate the greater truth, that this particular impasse is but a symptom of the real problem, that of mankind exceeding the limits of this planet. Every technological solution, proposed or implemented, only ensures that the symptoms accelerate and get worse, both in the physiological and physical sense.

Engineering, the process of simplifying a naturally complex system, is the problem, and not the solution. Not knocking you or your vocation, just saying that you have to stop and really examine the dynamics and implications of the incessant growth process we are all caught up in.

Middle-West, I've got two (2) two (2) word phrases for you (note the parenthesis since you are an engineer):

Energy Density


Consider Thermodynamics, consider the scale, and you will soon see Genies (techno-genies) only exist in Persian folklore and Disney movies.

If it makes you sleep at night, this is how technology can save us. I call it "The Lottery". This is how it works;

- Everyone draws a slip of paper numbered 1 or 2
- The Universal Coin is tossed (Superbowl perhaps?). UCT (Universal Coin Theory) is not to be confused with GUT. 50/50 is far better!
- The losing side could be so polite as to expire in a centrally convenient location to facilitate future petroleum extraction in about 150 or 200 million years.

Then, (hurrah!) we could look upon the marvels of technology to save the day.

FYI, I am an engineer. I design, promote, construct alternative energy projects - some of the best in the world. And, I designed and built some of the leading broadband/Internet networks on the continent. In short, I know technology well - very well. Like a sibling, I know it's shortcomings.

Excuse my sarcasm, but I hope you enjoy the humor.

I need help.

Could anyone please post me a short primer on how to post charts on TOD. I have a couple of very interesting charts that I would like to post. The most interesting one is "Non-OPEC production." The link up top Oil output outside OPEC at risk of no growth in 2008 prompted this request. Non-OPEC production has been on a flat plateau for four and one half years except for a sharp spike downwards in August and September of 2005, due to hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Thanks in advance. Please post to either email address below

Ron Patterson

Posting a chart is fairly easy. Save it as an image file then upload it to a site like imageshack.us. You then need to reference it using the following html:
<img src="http://whereyourimageishosted.com/image.jpg">

Hop over to www.flickr.com and get a free account. They even provide the HTML as a copy and paste to link it on other web sites. Free & Convenient.

One minor detail is that if you have a graph or exhibit in a spreadsheet, you need to first get it into a file in "PNG" format. (GIF will also work. Don't use JPG's except for pictures). The way I do it is as follows. There are a lot of other ways as well:

I use a MacIntosh computer, so the directions I give here are not right on a Windows machine. With a graph, on a MacIntosh computer, I right click on the graph. A list pops up, and from it I choose "Save as Picture". It then provides additional menus that allow you to choose what kind of file (PNG). The menu also lets you choose where to save the new .PNG file.

On a MacIntosh, for other kinds of things (charts lifted from other peoples PDFs, for example, or lists of numbers on an Excel spreadsheet), I pretend I am going to print the file, and choose "Preview", to get into the "print preview" mode. I then select "File", and from that menu select "Grab". The Grab menu allows you to select a particular portion to print. When you "Grab" the file, it gives you a "TIFF" file. Once I have the TIFF file, I go back to the "File" menu, and from it select "Save As". When the menu comes up, I select "PNG", and choose the right place to store the new PNG file. I delete the intermediate TIFF file.

To make things larger and clearer, when I am in "Print Preview", I often use the "zoom in" mode, before I select the portion of the sheet to "Grab".

If you are posting a graph, it is often helpful to use the "Preview" function when you write up your post. It will show you whether the graph is really there.

There are other tricks as well. To make a graph a particular width, like 80% of the width of the column, make your reference to the graph say something like

{img src="http://whereyourimageishosted.com/image.png" width= "80%" }

Prof. G

What was/Is the problem with connecting to the oil drum?

What must I do to my home PC to be able to get to the Oil Drum? I have to still go thru anonymouse. My work PC works fine. When going thru the portal(at home) I can't log in and post comments either.

Is this a problem I can fix with my ISP provider or what is the probem.



I have the same problem from home but only intermittently. I use Comcast. It's hard to troubleshoot because I can ping and complete a full tracert to www.theoildrum.com. So whenever I need home access I VPN to work, and then I'm fine----don't know what else to say.

Please, anyone who is having a problem like this...e-mail SuperG at the tech support addy in the sidebar. I can't fix this, and neither can Prof. G. SuperG can only fix it if he knows it's a problem. As far as he knows, it's been fixed. If that's not so, you need to tell him.

his email address is?

BTW, I also have comcast at home. Maybe it's comcast

It's in the right sidebar. The tech support address.

China to lift fuel prices by 18%

Looks like we'll see how correct Jeff's post on subsides and demand was. Demand for fuel in China should now accelerate according to his theory.

That's a highly inaccurate representation of what I said. What I did say is: "reducing, or even eliminating fuel subsidies will not cause a significant, long-term reduction in demand and may even cause demand to increase more quickly than with subsidies in place." Lack of a "significant, long-term reduction in demand" is not the same thing as "[d]emand for fuel in China should now accelerate."

If you want to test my theory without relying on a fallacious straw-man argument, you should check to see if China's demand decreases over the next few months, and if it does so by 18%.

...and may even cause demand to increase more quickly than with subsidies in place...

What other way of interpreting this statement is there than that demand will accelerate?

acceleration = increase in the rate of increase

A more quick increase in demand would be an acceleration.

I don't want to seem rude and I do promise I will eat my words if you prove to be correct, but this is no straw man, it's what you said and have now repeated.

Edit: for numerous typos

Hi Crobar,

I don't think it's fair to equate "may even" with "will".

And then, as always, what is measured is consumption versus production/importation, not demand vs supply. This is also why jeffs assertions should be viewed over a time-span of several months, keeping in mind all the other constraints over oil-consumption in china ...

Additionally, my post discusses the two specific conditions that could trigger this "may" event: IF the money once spent on subsidies is now spent in a more efficient way that results in increased overall economic growth, OR the money spent on subsidies is now distributed to those most sharply impacted by eliminating the subsidy, then the result may be greater overall demand, over the long-term. Absent either of those, what I argued for was that the resulting reduction in demand would not be significant.

OK, I accept that this was issued with provisos, but you were implying this was some sort of complete fabrication I had invented to make my argument look better.

I also don't expect demand to fall through the floor due to an increase of 18%, and certainly not in any time frame shorter than 6 months. I view long-term as at least two years. What I do expect, is that demand will continue to increase, but at a slower rate than it would have otherwise, or has done previously.

In any case, effects of subsides will probably be masked by global supply constraints in this time frame.

IF the money once spent on subsidies is now spent in a more efficient way that results in increased overall economic growth, OR the money spent on subsidies is now distributed to those most sharply impacted by eliminating the subsidy, then the result may be greater overall demand, over the long-term

But where is the net gain to the economy? Instead of paying for the oil through aggregate taxes, the consumer will have to pay the same amount directly to the oil company. I don't see the net gain to GDP in this scenario?

More than implication--I am stating expressly that your changing my statement from "may" to "will" is a complete fabrication. I don't know what your intent was, but res ipsa loquitur...

The reason the elimination of subsidy has the potential to boost GDP is that it forces the consumer to make economic decisions based on actual price, rather than a distorted price, and general economic theory is that this will usually result in more efficient allocation of resources by the consumer. More efficient allocation of economic resources will, all things being equal, increase the rate of economic growth, which is correlated with increased energy consumption in most (though certainly not all) cases.

I must of missed your original post, but IMO you have summed up the matter very well.

All things being equal, I would have expected a very short term decline in oil product purchases in China because of the price increase and then increasingly stronger demand.

But with the ongoing rise in the relative value of their currency and with the absolute increase in wealth among a growing number of Chinese, I don't think the price increase will make any discernible difference to the trend in oil product consumption in that country. China, like the other half of Chindia, is in a period of oil demand construction and will be so well beyond today's modest prices.

Increased consumption of oil in Chindia generates more wealth than would that same consumption in the 'developed' world (or for that matter in the very 'undeveloped' world). That is why oil will flow increasingly to Asia, even as the price continues its climb to $300 per barrel and beyond.

It is not the price of oil that is the underlying determinant of its allocation, but the relative profitability of its consumption.

Indeed, like Nostradamus you understand the importance of being vague. "will" makes a testable prediction and can be used to validate a theory. "May" allows you to make any old vague and woolly statements without ever being proved wrong.

Well, at least this is a more valuable comment than your previous ode to faulty logic. IF the point of my article was to make a prediction, then you would have a point. That wasn't the point of the article, of course--it was to argue against the false hope of thinking that reducing subsidies can solve our demand-side problems. And, within that context, I did make an explicit prediction (yes, using the word "will" as an expression of my opinion) that eliminating subsidies will not have a significant effect on demand. You can prevaricate about the meaning of "significant," but to do so would merely be to continue to miss the point of the article. Which is certainly your prerogative.

Get off your high horse. I'm sure that Jeff would correct his misconceptions if things play out differently than he envisioned. That doesn't mean he was wrong for putting forth the idea in the first place. Besides, using the term "may" is more correct than "will." There is always uncertainty, and it should be accoutned for in language.

More efficient allocation of economic resources will, all things being equal, increase the rate of economic growth, which is correlated with increased energy consumption in most (though certainly not all) cases.

I think any weakness in Jeff's argument lies in the quoted sentence. While this is possible, I think this concept is a bit difficult for most of us to wrap our minds around. I suspect that there maybe some sort of complex feedback loop that, would make an increase in efficiency unlikely to result in increased energy consumption. At any rate the very definition of efficiency suggests being able to do the same, or more, with less resources.

Alan from the islands

Please correct me if I'm wrong but aren't you making an apple to oranges comparison? If China decreases subsidies by 18% even if there is some sort of direct correlation to demand, would we still expect an 18% decrease in demand?

Tod Benjamin on CNN remarked this morning that since refiners is China were operating at a loss at previous low prices the rise in revenue is not likely to lead to reduce consumption as they will be more inclined to turn out more! :-)

From a story on Chinastakes.com, posted in April.

In early March 2008, oil shortages in Southern China were spreading across the country to Shanghai and Beijing; China is now facing a new round of “oil dearth”. This has paved the way for renewed calls to increase the price of refined oil.

Theoretically, the price of refined oil should be determined by the market; yet in China, where crude oil prices are determined by the international market, while refined oil prices are controlled by the state apparatus, Sinopec’s declining revenues and the oil shortages affecting the country shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.

So subsidised prices in China could have been holding down consumption by restricting availability. Unfortunately for the refiner Sinopec, retail prices need to rise 77%, by my calculation, for it to be able to sell refined imported product at break-even.

Higher prices may lead to only a small rise in consumption.

what surprises me is the timing with the olympics there in august.

i know they had shortages a ways back.

I think that's why they did it now. They don't want fuel shortages during the Olympics.

I also think they need to free up the traffic congestion as well as improve air quality for the Olympics. We could see a continued decline in oil prices for a few weeks as the Chinese refineries slow down.

It makes sense. Most of the tourists are coming from countries where gasoline is much more expensive than it has been in China. This way the locals can soak the car-renting tourists for all they can, while the tourists will marvel at only having to pay three bucks a gallon.

I'm a long time lurker, first time poster. First off thanks to everyone for all the info and discussions. This site is incredibly informative.

Secondly, my local paper ran this story yesterday. An ethanol company pulled the plug on a new plant nearby because they didn't feel like it would be cost effective. Choice quotes:

Craig said the meltdown of financial markets made the efforts to get commercial loans for the Royal plant difficult, while the rising cost of corn made input costs too high.

"When corn got over $4.25 a bushel, I suspected the company wouldn't be able to do very much to make this happen," Vilven said. "Unfortunately, given the economy, it doesn't make much sense to them."

In addition, high oil prices and questions over whether the next president would support ethanol made building an ethanol plant in Royal too risky, Craig said.

Craig noted that gasoline was selling for under $2 a gallon when the company first proposed building the Royal ethanol plant.

The proposed 100-million-gallon ethanol plant would have used about 40 million bushels of corn annually. At one time, the company said the plant would have provided between 40 and 45 jobs.

The Royal facility was one of seven ethanol plants abandoned Tuesday by Heartland Ethanol.

It seems the financial meltdown, high commodity prices, and peak oil are connected somehow. I'm not smart enough to figure out the cause and effect, but the end result is that it seems that replacing gasoline with alternatives (and not just ethanol) will become more and more expensive.

Welcome to TOD, and to the concept of "receding horizons". Every time you hear of a proposed energy source that "will become economically viable when oil price reaches $XX" you need to ask yourself: and how will the input costs to that process be affected by oil at $XX? We've seen, e.g., the cost of new refineries, and new tar-sands operations, double and quadruple. The key to untangling this circular logic is EROEI.

Always worth mentioning 'receding horizons', it's central to understanding how pervasive the problems will be. In addition to EROEI, a good concept to bear in mind is the "best first" principle of resource use by humans, which leads ultimately to receding horizons as quantified by EROEI and other such metrics.

As I wake up this morning and coffee doesn't seem to be working magic, I reflect that those 60 and older might have a better intuitive feel for receding horizons. When you're young, you look forward to stuff you'll get to do "when you grow up"... more physical strength, more size, more skills, more knowledge. However, as aging starts to become obvious, the trend starts going the other way until an increasing number of things which were previously possible for an individual, simply aren't. It's interesting to live at the time human industrial society is making that transition.

Ethanol plants make money converting lower cost nat gas or coal into a liquid fuel that can be sold at the much higher price of gasoline, with corn as a necessary feedstock. Once the price of corn rises to close the cost gap between nat gas and gasoline, ethanol isn't profitable.

Stuart Staniford goes into great detail on how food prices and ethanol are related in this post (warning: huge numbers of comments). A fantastic piece.

Robert Rapier has a much shorter piece on the economics of corn ethanol here (published just after Stuart's).

Ken, everything I've read leads me to believe that it's very, very, very unlikely that more than, maybe, one, or two more corn ethanol plants will be started. Most of the plants under construction will be completed (that would bring capacity up to about 13.6 Billion gal/yr;) but ethanol will have to get most of it's future growth from cellulosic, and sweet sorghum/sugar cane type processes. You won't get any serious ramping on these processes for at least three or four years.

Remember, there's Some support in the RFS for corn ethanol up to 15 Billion Gallons. There's absolutely NO support for Corn over that.

That's why I've a little bemused by the moaning, and groaning over "Corn" ethanol. They're, basically, beating a "Dead" Horse.

50 cents/gallon and $7.5 billion dollars is more than SOME support.

A complete and utter waste of government funds and a distortion of the marketplace.

Best Hopes for a Repeal of Corn Ethanol Subsidies, all of them,


Alan, I've sold a lot of stuff to American Farmers.

I've never sold the first damned thing to a Saudi Prince.

How much more money would we be shipping to Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela if we weren't producing that 600,000 Barrels/Day of Ethanol?

You guys preach: "Keep it Local;" then you squall like banshees when we try to do that. BTW, that tax credit created a market that's bringing on solutions like this:


There is a non-subsidized market for ethanol (best met by sugar cane ethanol, but perhaps corn can compete) to replace MTBE in gasoline in polluted areas. But this ethanol gets the same subsidy !

Beef (and pork, chicken, lamb and other meat) producers have NEVER sucked on the welfare teat like corn farmers always have. They are REAL farmers and not Welfare Queens in overalls and pick-ups.

My father has 360 head (down from 400) of cattle grazing in the Kentucky Bluegrass and he lost significant money last year because of corn ethanol. This year he is looking at selling off the herd (established in 1936 by my grandfather) and selling a grass lease on the acreage. "Should get enough to pay taxes and keep it up".

I suggested grass leasing half the farm and keeping half the herd because the ethanol subsidy bubble will burst soon enough.

Corn ethanol just trades oil and natural gas for an oil replacement. No real reduction in NGL + crude imports.

The wealth transfer is NOT from "Saudi princes" but from the rest of the USA economy, including meat producers.


Alan, I empathize with what your father is going through. We lost half of our herd one winter (we fed cattle over the winter, and sold them in the spring) to shipping fever. It was a devastating blow.

But, I'm sure your father would be the first to tell you that he has in many years bought corn for below the cost of production. The subsidy was shared by everyone from the fertilizer/seed manufacturers, to the farmers, to the cattle/chicken/hog ranchers/farmers to the meat packers to the consumers. It was, also, a great deal for the foreign buyers/consumers of American Grain, and meat products.

Those days are, for a variety of reasons (not just ethanol,) gone forever. Prices for cattle will go up in a year, or so, however, as soon as the excess livestock are sold off. I think You have the best idea. It's a tough business, and an honorable profession; and, I sincerely wish your father the best.

In the "Meantime," I thoroughly support your vision of electrified rail. However, the buildout will be Many Decades. HEV's, and PHEV's will, likewise, require many years/decades to make a Significant difference. Ethanol, and Biodiesel will Have to fill the Gap. If you would look at some of the information coming out about how the existing ethanol plants are incorporating biomass gassification, fractionation, commercialization of other coproducts I think you would see a different picture emerging than what has been presented by people like Patzek, and Pimental in the past.

Best of Luck with your Electrified Rail. :)

I just came across this example. This plant is in the process of replacing 90% of it's nat gas with wood waste.


Keep in mind that most of this waste would, most likely, have been burned in piles on the forest floor. The gassification process will produce the same ash that would have gone into the forest soil. All they have done is use the "heat" generated. (provided, of course, that they applied the ash back to the forested are - an action that should be required.)

Other than small quantities of corn for special cases, my father and grandfather never bought, or grew, much corn (except as silage). Hay, often alfalfa, will get the herd through the winter unless the hay quality was poor (then supplemental feeding). However, the cattle feedlots that they sell to buy corn in large quantities and they are reducing live cattle prices to cover the increased cost of corn and keep beef at a price where consumers will not reject it.

With $7+ corn, the likely result is live cattle at liquidation prices, much less corn finishing and beef prices so high that demand dries up (beef always loses market share to pork & chicken in a recession, even if beef prices fall. With increasing beef prices and reduced quality in a recession, beef will not be "What's for Dinner".

GWB pulled a $900 million federal subsidy for the DC Metro extension that would save 20,000 to 25,000 b/day (20,000 b/day = 306 million gallons/yr). A one time subsidy for not one year, but over a century of energy savings

$7.5 billion in federal subsidies could build, with local matching funds, enough Urban Rail to save well over 1 billion gallons of oil each and every year. One time subsidy, permanent energy savings. And another $7.5 billion the next year could save another 1+ billion gallons/year, and the third year, another $1+ billion gallons, etc.

A list of Urban Rail Projects that could break ground in 12 to 36 months of funding


You overestimate the time to build. On a crash basis, we could electrify the 33,000 miles of mainline railroads (1 of 2 where two RRs run side by side) within 6 years. In the 7th year will could do spurs and both RR main lines where they run side-by-side.

The French are going to build 1,500 km of new tram (Light Rail) lines in the next decade, in every town of 100,000 or more. Adjust for population and work week, and that would be more than 5,000 miles for the USA, also in almost every town of 100,000 or more.

I appreciate your tone, and will try to reciprocate. I still think corn ethanol is very poor public policy.

Best Hopes for Comity,


Ethanol is being used to replace the gasoline additive MTBE. Several states have laws requiring ethanol blending after MTBE was shown to cause cancer in mice. It is not known at what levels MTBE may be tolerated in humans. One of the most common carcinogens is ultraviolet radiation, yet outdoor activities have not been banned.

Burning ethanol/gasoline created formaldehyde. Formaldehyde has been classified as a human carcinogen by the National Institute of Health.

Burning ethanol/gasoline created acetaldehyde. Acetalaldehyde caused cancer in mice and was described as a probable or possible carcinogen in humans. Acetaldehyde has been linked to birth defects in humans.

This city choked on ethanol exhaust fumes.

Based on the popularity of grain as food, some problems exist in trying to replace transport fuel with ethanol. You cannot replace 20% of your transport fuel before you expend all your grain. Ethanol gets about 2/3 the miles per gallon of gasoline. Some in Congress called for cellulosic ethanol now after the use of grain for ethanol was sharply criticized. When Bush called for the nation to switch to cellulosic ethanol that may be made with switch grass in his State of the Union address; there was no cellulosic ethanol industry in the world. The technology was yet experimental and not proven to be economically feasible. Motorists wopld may not approve of it if it significantly raises the costs of their fuel.

Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute has published numerous papers linking grain ethanol use to higher food prices.

Food Prices Likely to Rise in 2008

Lester Brown is a one man band with a trumped up title. He is like a blow fish trying to look like something bigger than it is. Earth Policy Institute is just Lester Brown and about a half dozen half educated hangers on the last time I checked.

He has zero credibility as far as I am concerned.

I could call myself Universe Policy Institute, find a few friends and relatives with college degrees in various unrelated fields and do the same thing. It is a sham and a scam.

Who is he to say what the policy of the earth should be? How is it to be implemented? The earth is a big place with lots of people with different views. The arrogance is mind boggling.

I don't imagine it takes much weight to boggle your mind. Given the exceptionally high quality of Lester Brown's analyses, your pea must be bruised indeed.

Rainsong, the killer on MTBE was groundwater contamination. They have, I think, something like $400 Million in lawsuits going right now. On the other hand, if you spill ethanol all you end up with is some worms with a hangover. Well, maybe a little more than that; but, you know what I mean.

According to CARB, air quality in S Cal went up, appreciably, when ethanol was introduced into the gasoline. The same in New York City, and SE Wisconsin.

We'll use about 23, or 24% of our field corn (the starch out of 40%) to replace 10% of our gasoline. That's as far as we'll go with corn. Keep in mind Grain is Global. Global production is expected to increase 2.3% this year. We'll use about 3% of that grain in our global ethanol production. T'ain't no big thang, really. Also, keep in mind that corn yields are expected to increase by 40% in the next decade.

As for mileage: well, you've heard me preach on that one; but, it depends greatly on the engine, and the blend. While it's true that an engine that's optimized for gasoline can get as little as 70 to 75% the mileage with E85, some engines will get comparable mileage to gasoline with a 20, or 30% blend. Of course, all of this is expected to get better in the future as more, and more VVT, Direct injection, variable turbo engines, with advanced CPU programs come onto the market.

And, lastly; there's just too many smart people, and large companies pouring money into Cellulosic to bet against it. And, it's a lot easier to compete against $4.00 gasoline than the $2.00 gasoline we had last year. Keep the faith, Rainsong; it'll work out a lot better than you suspect, I believe.

There was less corn acreage planted in the U.S. this year than last due to a deficit in soybeans harvested last year. With the current flooding in Iowa it is not safe to assume you can increase the harvest over 2%, but rather expect less than 10% of last year's harvest. At about twelve billion bushels You might be able to produce 32.4 billion gallons of ethanol (2.7 gallons of ethanol per bushel). Since ethanol has about 2/3 of the BTU's of gasoline you might get slightly over 20 billion gallons of gasoline equivalent by converting the entire corn harvest to ethanol. In 2005 the United States consumed about 140 billion gallons. Thus you would not get far on converting all your corn to ethanol. You would yet have a huge transport fuel deficit and expended all the corn if you try to switch everything to ethanol. The United States was the largest corn producer in the world and produced 2/3 of the world's corn exports. Ethanol is not a viable replacement for gasoline. Not only is the U.S. ethanol production affecting foodstocks; there are other nations involved too. Canada, the E.U., India, China, Brazil, and Japan all have ethanol programs in place. Smaller nations such as Myanmar and the Phillipines have biofuels programs in place. While ethanol production has been taking corn, wheat, sugar, and other materials that might be used as food including yams and casava, biodiesel facilities have destroyed soybean oil and palm oil inventory.

The price of nitrogen-potassium-phosphate fertilizer has doubled since U.S. energy policy changed in 2005 to promote ethanol.

I would contend that MTBE has not been shown to cause cancer at the background levels found in some areas. If MTBE is a problem, that would not make the toxic smog produced by burning ethanol any less hazardous. There are other compounds that might be used as gasoline additives.

People know ethanol in the tank makes for worse gas mileage at a time one needs better gas mileage.

I would not invest in cellulosic ethanol because I do not believe it is cost competitive when compared to other fuels and renewable resources. Cellulosic ethanol production is linked to legislation that caused a tripling in grain prices. Already China has stopped building grain ethanol facilities, nor can they see a way to produce cellulosic ethanol for profit.

Lester Brown used verifiable mathematical models. Others used fuzzy logic that harvests will increase and it will all "work out." U.S. corn stocks were very low at the beginning of the year and the threat of increasing food prices remains.

You could always try raising direct taxation of Gas -that reduces direct demand and gives country XYZ money to spend internally.

However I suspect there is more chance of discovering the Loch Ness Monster than an increase in US Gas taxes...


Howdy KEn--the link you posted doesn't work. This one should. And yes, the whole shebang is connected in a holistic manner.

1. 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.

It's easy. Give it a shot. If even 50 of you of you do this for our posts, I guarantee you we get 5000 readers out of it. Yesterday's cement post really hit, just because it got upmodded a bunch of times on reddit and digg. This stuff works--and as many people come through here daily, we should be rocking those link farms like other sites do!

2. TOD is on twitter now with our RSS feed: http://twitter.com/theoildrum. If you are a tweeter, erm twitterer, erm, give us a follow...and tweet your friends about our posts now and again. Already 170 followers!

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

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

Thanks 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.

Going back to the JPMorgan Oil price / production spare capacity article.

JPMorgan is expecting a 3-5 million bpd production capacity reserve by 2010.


Where do they get this?

"Growing non-Opec production."
"Lots of new capacity from ME ending up as spare"
"Oil price dropping" [but still apparently consumption diminishing]

Are they just pulling all of this out of their hat?

Can they call up Fatih Birol and tell him that he is seriously misguided. Same thing for Chris Skrebowski. Maybe they just don't know their stuff and the crystal ball at JP Morgan headquarter's dungeon works much better :P LOL!

The other alternative is of course that the demand drops 5 Mbpd by 2010.

Considering a plateau in production, that would mean not a drop in growth, but a drop in absolute terms.

That's c. 6% drop from where we are now. Almost 3% a year (world average).

Conventional macroeconomic wisdom would suggest up to a 3% pa forced reduction in GDP (world aggregate) for two consecutive years.

That would be a depression, and a fairly severe one - not just a "mild 6-8 month recession."

Am I reading this right at all? The Bloomberg article does not have enough meat to analyze further.

Help me out.

Man, I gotta train myself to be a financial analyst over some weekend course. The more you're wrong the more chaotic the markets look to people, and the more they listen to you! What a nice job - only meteorologists are cut more slack :)

"bush calls for major increase in us energy production"


earlier in his career, bush called for a major increase in harken energy's production.

Today's selloff started after this news:

"BEIJING - China will raise prices of gasoline, diesel and aviation fuel by 8 percent beginning Friday, state media reported, in a move that could dampen the nation's surging energy consumption. "

Just read todays Al Ahram Weekly (Egyptian semi official newspaper). had discussions about the govt budget and copied the following paragraph.
"Subsidies have always attracted a lot of attention in all previous budgets, but this year it is more important than ever due to the spiral increase in fuel and food prices. This also comes amid an avalanche of government promises of socialist-like policies of protecting the poor using this means. At LE133.6 billion, subsidies have the lion's share of 35 per cent of the government's overall expenditures. Some LE62.7 billion of this is used to subsidise the oil and energy sectors. This figure will increase through the year since it was calculated when oil prices were at $75 per barrel; revised estimates put it at LE96 billion"
The crazy thing is the country is a net oil exporter and the higher the price goes the more the country faces financial ruin.

There certainly is a lot of conversation these days around energy. How can we boost production, open up ANWR, offshore, oil shale, tarsands, bio-fuels, etc.? What most people do not realize is that THERE IS NO ANSWER! We are way beyond the point of no return.
Human beings have a very hard time coming to grips with absolutes. Hope springs eternal in the human breast. We put ourselves in an untenable situation and hope that someone pulls the rabbit out of the hat. That is a hope that will never materialize. Oh, I am sure that there are those who feel that technology will save the day, but they are those who hope for a miracle. The harsh reality is that we have as a race functioned outside the realm of common sense. We have ignored obvious facts, thinking that our brilliant minds would be able to override the laws of nature. It sure has worked well so far hasn't it? What a wonderful world human beings have created! Full of harmony and bliss. Health abounds! We are in such an obvious state of massive over-shoot. Can we truly face the facts? Mass death is just around the corner for those of us who live in North America. It is already on the doorstep in other countries with less access to the wealth over which we have had control. But that is about to change.
For those who still hope for the miracle, let them consider the fact that our world wide financial system is broken, it is about to implode. Our banking system is insolvent, vast amounts of credit have vanished worldwide, banks are hording cash, we have no savings as a nation as well as for individual citizens. THERE IS NO MONEY! Those who think that we will be able to pursue oil shale, drill off the coast and in ANWR are kidding themselves. THERE IS NO MONEY. We are about to embark off a steep cliff called deflation. A depression is what is coming, and at a time when what would be needed are vast amounts of capital to develop all of these alternatives. IT WON'T HAPPEN!!!
Make peace with yourself and your neighbor, find some level of agreement so that when push comes to shove you chose to work together rather than kill them for what they have that your want, or they you for what you have that they want. It ain't going to be pretty.

And looking on the bright side, Oh wait...


I share your gloom...unfortunately.

Your observation:"...I am sure that there are those who feel that technology will save the day, but they are those who hope for a miracle."

I think it's fair to say that the true test of any rescue-technology would be its just-in-time emergence and execution. By way of an immediate example, the airline industry is imploding before are very eyes. Now if there were a capable solution, should it not be able to step up to the plate right now? What chance will there be to re-build a complex, multi-billion dollar infrastructure after its collapse?

There is a very strong, "we'll just hold our breath" mentality which truly believes that collapse can be held of while we go back and fiddle at the drawing board.

So wait, are you a Cornucopian or a Doomer? Stop being so vague.

Is there such a thing as a techno-cornucopian and political doomer? If so, that's what I am. There are plenty of good technologies out there already to save us from post-peak disaster, but we are too stupid to use them correctly and elect decent people to implement sensible policies.

If post-peak is a horrible world full of pain and suffering, it won't be because of geology. It will be because we didn't handle the transition correctly. We have a "market" system that has privatized profits while socializing costs, and a tax system that punishes work and rewards resource use.

In short, we needn't be f(*&^%#d, but we are.

The following data source may be useful for somebody to figure out the changes in light vs. heavy oil over time. I assume that the ratio of barrels to tons is basically the density of the oil.

"Barrels of Crude Oil per Metric Ton, 1980-2005" (by country)

Allan the trolleyman might want to comment on a local decision made here in Edmonton yesterday:

The city council voted to eliminate trolley buses based on the following
1. trolley buses are much more expensive than the equivalent hybrid buses
2. trolley buses cost more to operate considering the maintainance of the trolley wire, substations etc.
3. trolley buses being dependent on electricity generated by coal is more polluting than hybrid buses.
4. future projections are that even allowing for increases in the price of diesel fuel, hybrid buses will still cost less than operating trolley buses.
5. The anticipated $100 million saved by scrapping the trolley buses can be better spent on expanding the LRT (light rail system)and acquiring new hybrid buses to provide higher frequency bus service.

When I walk the dog I often talk to a bus driver who says majority of drivers hate driving the trolleybuses.

ETBs (Electric Trolley Buses) are not my favorite, but they do have a place.

They last longer than hybrid buses, and have lower life cycle costs (even with $25/barrel oil). With oil going up, up and away, I hope Calgary "retires in place" rather than scraps the ETB infrastructure.

The "maintenance costs" quoted must be very long term (say once every 40 or 50 years) renewals. Hybrid buses "cost less' than ETBs plus renewed infrastructure, but will be replaced in 12 to 15 years.

Hybrid buses are heavier and hence put more stress on the pavement, a cost that was likely not considered. damage is the 4th power of the axle weight.

Seattle put new bodies on their ETBs, but just rebuilt the running gear (motors & transmissions).

If the routes will be converted to Light Rail by the time that the hybrids wear out (12 to 15 years), it may, just might, be the correct decision (see oil prices). If not, it was certainly a poor decision.

Please note that, with proper design, the same wires can serve both ETBs and Light Rail. Rebuild the ETB infrastructure with an eye to conversion to Light Rail would probably be best even if conversion is a dozen years away.

And Calgary Light Rail runs off of wind power, why not ETBs as well ?

Best Hopes for Better Decisions,


When I was growing up in Montreal, there were both trolley buses and streetcars. I can remember times when the overhead trollies would come off the wires and the bus would stop dead halfway through a corner. Drivers had to get out and try to put them back on the wires, usually in the middle of an intersection with lots of angry motorists honking at them.

Nothing beats streetcars for in-city travel and LRT is great for suburban commutes. I assume that streetcars and light rail can share a common track gauge for mixed use through the downtown core, but I don't know of any place where this has actually been done.

Edmonton city council probably just likes hybrids because it's the *cool* thing to do right now.

Charlotte NC does both streetcars and Light Rail on a a section of downtown track. That was the plan, but they screwed so many things up in implementing it, that I am not 100% sure what is operating today.


Check it out: The Economist magazine is calling a near term peak!

In the space of a couple of years, all that has changed. Oil is no longer cheap; indeed, it has never been more expensive. Moreover, there is growing concern that the supply of oil may soon peak as consumption continues to grow, known supplies run out and new reserves become harder to find.
“Peak oil”, if oil means the traditional sort that comes cheaply out of holes in the ground, probably will arrive soon. There is oil aplenty of other sorts (tar sands, liquefied coal and so on), so the stuff is unlikely to run out for a long time yet. But it will get more expensive to produce, putting a floor on the price that is way above today’s.

Of course, we'll just use alternatives:

For oil replacements, cheap suddenly looks less of a problem. The biofuels or batteries that will power cars in the alternative future should beat petrol at today's prices. Of course, today's prices are not tomorrow's. The price of oil may fall; but so will the price of biofuels, as innovation improves crops, manufacturing processes and fuels.

This week's issue is basically about oil prices and peaking and the glorious future of alternative energy this will bring.

Good-bye Enlightenment, so-long Age of Reason; hello Age of Faith.

Parishioners, we are gathered today to worship at the alter of Innovation, the Angel of the God of Greed, the one true and ultimately -via-trickledown- caring God, omnipotent and omnipresent. Today's sermon will deal with devilish notions of innovation, sinful ideas about changing the way you live...


Well the Economist is no longer predicting $5/bbl oil, but it seems the ragamuffins have learned nothing.

"Well the Economist is no longer predicting $5/bbl oil but it seems the ragamuffins have learned nothing."

They certainly haven't learnt a lot about the downside of biofuels.

The article's piece de resistance:

The idea of growing what you put in the tank of your car, rather than sucking it out of a hole in the ground, no longer looks like economic madness.

No, all it looks like is a primrose path to mass starvation.

On its surface, this Sibel Edmonds Interview might seem somewhat off topic for The Oil Drum. But when you start to read it and discover the overall issues in play, then it becomes clear it is very much on topic for The Oil Drum. The folks that really need to read this are our right-of-center readers like jbunt, although I do implore everyone to take the time to read this.

I've been following this for quite a while, there is no hope.
Rome burns

This was exactly my reaction. There is no hope. We have been totally co-opted by the Military/Industrial/Political/Financial complex. Revolving doors for rich folks, poverty/slavery for the rest of us.

Gas, oil prices raised in China by 8% because of reduced subsidies.
Market price of oil falls $5 per barrel.

An immediate reaction to a perception that demand will fall in China.
So if we raised gas prices 8% in the US, would oil continue to go down?
These markets are so complicated.

I vote for giving up on oil ASAP, and get on with other forms of energy.

Let's do it. Less money goes to Saudi Arabia; more money stays here. Why didn't we think of this before. Oh, we did.

Vote with your feet. It's good for your back as your tummy muscles are strengthened. You'll also have more time for contemplation.

toilforoil...I agree with you but 'more time for contemplation' is what many people do not want. Ever work around people or ride in vehicles with people that cannot tolerate the notion of turning off the radio? Or, just turning down the volumn a bit?...Just one example.

Another concept, or word, that will bring immediate ire is 'responsible', or 'responsibility'. Many people become really ticked off if you tell them that they are 'responsible' for a certain incident, even if they clearly are responsible, and found so in a court of law. Nope, 'it' must be someone else's fault/responsibility because they don't make mistakes.

Best hopes for creating a techno fixit with the non contemplating non responsible group to work with. They do not want to think.

Just contemplatin' a bit about responsibility...

From the economist:

Is that for the UK?

Good, now maybe we can see a run up in the price of sugar as more and more of it's feedstock is used for ethanol production. Frankly, after spending most of my life as one with a bit of a sweet tooth, I have come to realize that there is far too much sugar in the typical western diet. Supermarkets and convenience stores in the UK are just loaded with all kinds of sweet foods. Apart from raw energy, sugar has less nutritional value than any other food so, the world will probably be better off using more sugar for ethanol production and less for food.

Alan from the islands

very disturbing development


In Nevada, the world's oldest profession has been very lucrative. In a typical year, legal brothels generate about $50 million in total revenue and have an economic impact of about $400 million on the state. But in the last 18 months the industry's cash flow has taken a dive. Why? Like other businesses around the country, bordellos throughout the state are feeling the pinch of rising gas prices and a weak economy.

Another part of the economy going tits up.....

Support Local Workers !

As noted by New Orleans working girls after publicity about Sen. Vitter's escapades with DC area escorts.


I like the "stimulus check special" mentioned in the article.

Hello TODers,

Some more cascading blowback for your consideration:

ANALYSIS: Pakistan's food crisis to worsen on rising fertilizer cost

Karachi - Rising fertilizer prices are contributing to the global food crisis that is hitting world's poor, and the sixth most-populous country Pakistan is no exception.

Global price increases of nearly 400 per cent for phosphoric acid in the last 3 months.....

The phosphoric acid market, which is controlled by a handful of producers, was trading at around 576 dollars a ton during the first quarter of the year, but is now hovering at around 2,100 dollars a ton.

'This is a massive and phenomenal increase in cost in just three months,' said Zohair Abbasi, an analyst at Capital One Equities.
Recall my numerous postings and postPeak analysis that echos the UN FAO PDF. We are sadly in for a hell of a downslope ride from the Overshoot heights. Have you hugged your bag of NPK today?

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

Some more cascading blowback for your consideration:

Coming immediately after a thread on brothels facing a hard time, I read that, at first, slightly differently :-)

But to be serious for a moment, holy batshit batman, your posts are always appreciated.

Holidaymakers face 40% hike in airfares due to soaring price of fuel:


Bristol to be Britain's First Bike City

On Thursday the two-wheeled faithful were pulling metaphorical wheelies at the news that £11m of government cash is coming their way.
There's no shortage of cycle lanes in the city centre
With the city throwing in an equal sum, it amounts to £10 for every person in Bristol - nearly the level of spending in that spiritual home of cycling, Amsterdam.
And setting off on my hire bike (£4 for half-a-day) from the ferry station in the centre of the city, it feels like the Dutch capital.


I thought of you when I heard this on R4 today…

The absurdity of such an announcement was only paralleled by the news last year that Seattle was to be designated as one of the US “solar cities”…

What are they going to do… install a free escalator/tow rope on Park St, St Michaels Hill and Blackboy Hill?

There’s a reason that they cycle in Amsterdam/Holland…


No problem. The fiendishly simple plan is to bankrupt car owners by high petrol costs and rising fuel costs to heat our houses and expensive food, whilst continuing to have a smelly, expensive and unreliable bus service and no light rail.
Cycle ridership should soar.

What are they going to do… install a free escalator/tow rope on Park St, St Michaels Hill and Blackboy Hill?

Why not ? Bike-lift over here...Trondheim, Norway

more images

approx. 5:30 not on web yet.

charley maxwell of weeden co. - very good overall picture of supply/demand - no cushion. oil down in near term- 100+ range. never this volatility before.

7yrs. to get continental shelf oil , shortage of rigs , etc.

in 2-3 yrs. though peak of supply - have to learn to live on less as chindia more demand... $200-300 oil will happen too.

Hello TODers,

Recall my earlier Ft. Knox posting series while you read this:

Maybe this did not qualify as news:

...Welcome to the real India.

...Can you believe it that in India, fertilizer is being distributed from police stations these days. In Hingoli in Maharashtra, cops are into fertiliser distribution. Also, they control the queues outside dealers’ outlets. Otherwise, there will be no fertiliser as dealers will not open their shops. Or they will be looted or killed...

..But you cannot live without food and water. The latter “commodity” is the focus of the biggest thrust of some huge multinational companies. And we are well into the process of privatising water in India (for them). A process that promises chaos, misery and conflict on a scale we cannot begin to grasp at this point...
Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Bob - Thanks for your reports. I do recall a lot of your posts. I must say, I find what you report much scarier than the oil situation...although it is all inter related I suppose.

Like an alcoholic who promises to give up the booze after one last night of drinking .... The '74 Dodge Challenger was my first set of wheels and although it wasn't a great vehicle by today's standards, I have an incredibly strong emotional attachment to that old bucket of bolts (may she rust in peace).

Granted, I should know better, but I really want to get my hands on this bad boy (and here I'm referring to the car, not Leno)



Hello TODers,

Recall my earlier newslink that stated: "The World Bank says that the cost of transportation to landlocked countries such as Mali often doubles the price of fertilizer."

I wonder how that will play out in PostPeak North America. Should farmers near seaports [FL, CA, LA, NY, etc] pay the cheap logistic rate for Moroccan phosphates imports, or should they be willing to pay nearly double their transit cost so that a farmer in far-inland Wyoming, Colorado, Montana, the Dakotas can get his phosphate cheaper? The physics of distance and elevation change are fixed, and there are No Substitutes, No Alternatives to I/O NPK.

Will we see legislation, that will force farmers with access to cheap I-NPK, to pay much more as a subsidy to far-inland farmers? IMO, that doesn't make any sense--we should encourage inland-farmers, and the citizens in their local areas, to instead ramp huge O-NPK recycling plans, and if that doesn't work--the acreage should go back to its natural state.

Consider that sulphates, nitrates, and potash may be cheap for these inland states because they are logistically close to the K mining sources and Haber-Bosch N in Canada and the Rocky Mountain area, but if they are logistically priced out of phosphate--it makes no sense for them to farm at all if they have a Liebig Minimum.

At the postPeak extreme: it almost argues for farmland to predominate the areas closest to seaports, riverports, and along railways, with the cities built at the higher elevations so the O-NPK can be naturally slurried downhill back to the farms in SpiderWebRiding pipelines, while the railbikes move the finished agricultural products back uphill.

Feel free to elaborate or dispute as I am not an expert.

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

Unfortunately, the geography along coastlines often doesn't lend itself to farmland, and sealevel rise will eventually render current port facilities inoperable.

Ok i see upon replying to a post that this place now has a rating system.
Congratulations, now majority rule will make this site a pedaling place for every energy snake oil salesman while realists are rated down and sent to the bottom..

Hello TODers,

June 20 (Bloomberg) -- A military exercise carried out by Israel seems to have been a rehearsal for a bombing attack on Iran's nuclear facilities and long-range conventional missiles, the New York Times reported, citing several unidentified U.S. officials...

...A senior U.S. Defense Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said one purpose of the exercise was to send a message to the U.S., Europe and Iran that Israel is ready to use force if diplomatic efforts to stop Iran from producing bomb-grade uranium aren't pursued vigorously, according to the Times.

Several U.S. officials said they don't think Israel is bent on attacking Iran or that a strike is imminent, the newspaper added.
Yikes! All I can say is that this near constant ratcheting up of military exercises and political posturing, by all concerned parties, to induce a hopeful diplomatic solution, is fully fraught with the potential for terrible error or accidental miscalculation.

Obviously, this is much, much, more dangerous than just a couple of kids playing 'staredown' to see who blinks first.

This news might have just counteracted/neutralized any current downward trend in crude pricing. How will the Iranians respond to this news? Can they now run a potential military exercise where they take their twenty VLCCs [full of heavy, sour crude] very, very slowly through the Hormuz Straights in a real tight & close logjam convoy? Could the plausible pretext be that these giant tankerships are now being moved to closer anchor by the new heavy, sour refineries in Asia?

What happens next if all these ships just anchor in Hormuz blocking passage to other shipping?

EDIT: Consider that just a two-month 'stalemated-staredown' would send crude through the roof around the globe. You sure as hell can't sink the ships in the Hormuz Narrows--that would only make the situation much worse!

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

Hello TODers,

High commodity prices are unsustainable – mining analyst

..He remarked that all the commodities had had their turn to spike in the last few years. “For example, sulphuric acid, which was public enemy number one, has gone up 600% in less than ten months. “Agriculture prices are going up, but, in retrospect, they have gone up [less than] all other commodities,” he said.

..Concluding, Major said, “The best cure for high prices are high prices. People complain about the high oil price, but the best way to cure it is to shove it up even more. The faster it goes up, the faster people will turn to alternatives. We will see that in all these commodities. We do not need to do anything, these prices will drive themselves down.”
I would suggest Mr. Peter Major needs to read, with a postPeak mindset, the USGS Sulphur PDFs to gain greater clarity of our global direction as severe FF-energy depletion sets in around the globe.

Otherwise, I would certainly like to know what he sees as the 'cheaper alternatives' to the ELEMENTS of Sulfur, Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium [K] in industrial and organic fertilizers to leverage photosynthesis growth above a Liebig Minimum. Does he think that sprinkling our topsoil with the ELEMENTS of lead, uranium, and gold will not only be the 'cheaper alternative', but these will also greatly boost harvest yields more than the present usage of I/O-NPKs?

What is his proposed 'cheaper alternative' to the lack of that very common commodity H2O when our aquifers and rivers run dry? He can prove the viability of his mythical 'alternative water' by making a giant lake in the Atacama Desert, where it hasn't rained in a very long, geologic timeframe. Good luck with that conceptual effort!

No, I think that very unfortunate Overshoot demand destruction by postPeak 'starvation & worse' is what will eventually bring agricultural commodity pricing down to more reasonable levels for the survivors.

I think a desperately poor Pakistani, Indian, or Bangladeshi farmer, trying to figure out how to buy DAP @ $2,000/ton, plus get pumped irrigation uphill to his land, already knows more about the concept of non-substitution in agriculture than Peter Major.

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


The Iranians don't have to get to fancy to muck things up for the world. all they need do is fire one of their Chinese made Silkworm missles ($200,000 each last time someone threw a number out) at anyone's crude transport going through the Straights. Even if they didn't hit it I doubt any insurance company would write another contract for the gulf. And no ship owner would make the run uninsured.

But I'm not too worried. Iran is in desparite need of their cash flow. The civilian population has been edgy about the ecconomy for quit a while. But you can never be sure a small group of fanatics might do the unthinkable. It's easy to look back on many wars and see the handy work of a few create a nightmare for millions.