DrumBeat: June 27, 2008

Govts urged to get ready for 'peak oil' (transcript and audio)

Theories abound about why the price of oil has been skyrocketing. The head of OPEC says the weak US dollar and continuing tensions about Iran's nuclear program are to blame. Economists say speculators are playing a role, as is soaring demand from India and China.

But those who subscribe to the theory of peak oil say the price is high because the resource is running out. The convenor of the Australian Society for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas, Bruce Robinson, has told Ashley Hall that it's time for governments to stop denying the inevitable.

The age of oil is over

“If you are listening to me now, then you were born in the “age of oil”. A wondrous time when abundant energy has enabled humanity to work technological miracles. With enough energy we can solve any problem. Need to get to the other side of the world by tomorrow? Just fly! Need to sow and harvest millions of hectares of grain, or move a mountain, or build an island? Our mighty machines will do it for us. Need to drive five kilometres to the shop, or 50km to work? Now where did I put those car keys?”

Russian gas price for Ukraine may double from 2009

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's gas export monopoly Gazprom will most likely more than double gas prices for Ukraine from 2009 as it pays more for gas imports from Central Asia, chief executive Alexei Miller said on Friday.

Miller told a news conference prices would most likely rise above $400 per 1,000 cubic metres (tcm) from $179.5 this year.

Nigeria wants talks with Venezuela on oil price

ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua wants to meet with his Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavez to discuss world oil prices, his office said on Friday.

"Fingers are being pointed at our two countries as a result of the energy situation in the world," Yar'Adua was quoted as saying in a statement from the presidency.

Fewer flights, higher fares

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- As oil prices continue to break records, the nation's six leading airlines have announced capacity cuts for 2008, trimming flights in major hubs and cutting off service to dozens of discount destinations.

6 Myths About Oil Speculators

So now we know who's really responsible for $4 gas. Finger-pointers from Washington, the International Monetary Fund, and even Saudi Arabia no longer seem to buy the idea that the demand for oil around the world is simply growing faster than the supply, driving prices to record highs close to $140 per barrel. There must be a more nefarious reason, it seems. So now entering this drama is a villain everybody can hate: The Evil Speculator.

Man torches BMW to protest gas prices, police say

BERLIN, Germany (AP) -- A German man doused his BMW with gasoline and torched it Friday in protest at skyrocketing fuel costs, police said.

Fuel prices squeeze local road, landfill budgets

Liby said the fuel prices have caused freight to "skyrocket" along with the price of steel. "It has affected everything," he said.

...During the last huge oil price surge 35 years ago, the county put off work on the roads.

"The asphalt roads fell apart in the 70's," Liby said. "It's not cheap to play catch-up."

Australia: High petrol prices hitting outer suburbs

The price of an affordable house in the outer suburbs for some is having to spend more than they can afford on the soaring cost of fuel, experts say.

As petrol prices close in on $2 a litre, the mounting fuel bill has made the decision to live further from the central business district (CBD) a financially painful one for those that commute by car.

For those who made the switch from the inner city, revisiting that choice is now very difficult, given high interest rates, in some cases stagnant house prices and fierce competition for property close to the CBD.

Living on the Ice Shelf: Humanity's Melt Down

The current ruthless competition between energy and food markets, amplified by international speculation in commodities and agricultural land, is only a modest portent of the chaos that could soon grow exponentially from the convergence of resource depletion, intractable inequality, and climate change.

As Oil Hits Another Record High, A Look at the New Geopolitics of Energy (audio and video)

Oil prices have jumped to yet another record high, nearing $142 a barrel in Asian trading today. The latest price surge comes a day after OPEC’s president said crude prices could reach $170 this summer. Meanwhile, Libya has threatened to cut oil production in response to US threats against oil producers. We speak with Michael Klare, author of “Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet” and Arun Gupta of The Indypendent.

Out of gas

As the "peak" of global petroleum production rapidly approaches, EcoDensity may not be enough to save our oil-dependent society.

Khurais joins Saudi giants

If you want proof that the planet’s oil reserves are nowhere near exhaustion, there are few better places to look than Khurais, a stretch of Arabian wilderness somewhere between Riyadh and Dammam.

Oil and the Writing on the Wall

The global energy crisis is complicated. There is no single magic bullet or cure-all to solve it. Investing scores of billions of dollars in wind, solar, hydro and biomass energy isn't going to do it either.

Some patented solutions, like corn ethanol, are little more than a scam. Every oil engineer or chemist worth their salt has been warning for years that the energy yield to be extracted from corn ethanol was vastly less than the energy and financial subsidies that went into making it. But no politician in either major American political party wanted to hear.

Blame Rising Oil Prices on Bush, Not Consumers

Wow, a lot of people must have bought Hummers last week. How else to explain the spike in oil prices? No, I'm not being silly: They are, and by they I mean the gaggle of media pundits and other administration apologists -- abetted by some green zealots -- who want to explain our energy crisis by reference to profligate consumers.

Should trading in crude be tempered?

The hoax of peak oil, that the era of cheap oil has peaked and is on a downward slide, has also helped perpetuate these uncontrolled price manipulations. However, the US government’s latest Energy Information Administration (EIA) report shows a drop in US demand along with a very modest increase in that of China.

This would hardly dent the current oil production of the world of some 86 mbpd. Prices have thus become detached from market fundamentals. By no account is there a shortage of oil and every demand is being met. In other words, there are low buyers for the physical barrel at today’s prices, but there are plenty of buyers for pieces of papers (futures) linked to the price of oil next month or next year.

Speculating about speculators: Cornucopian thinking about oil

There seems to be a disturbing tendency in the progressive community to blame speculators for most, if not all, of the increase in oil prices. In its most extreme form, the implication seems to be that the supply of oil is virtually limitless, and that only financial manipulation is to blame. Ironically, this mirrors the views of many mainstream economists, who have what is sometimes called a cornucopian view of the world. Julian Simon was the ultimate spokesperson for the idea that technological innovation and unlimited resources would allow for virtually any level of population and consumption.

Iranian Oil Production Verging on Disaster

It is clear that Iran, Venezuela, Mexico, Nigeria, and Iraq together represent an enormous percentage of the world’s oil deposits and production that is being mismanaged. The political and management dysfunctions in all of these countries simultaneously is a major reason for the world’s current energy crisis. If these countries all operated in a standard capitalist mode, I suspect oil would be below $50 a barrel and the ultimate supply crisis might be five or ten or even fifteen years beyond when we will see it fairly soon.

China's top oil producer to increase supply after fuel price rise

BEIJING (Xinhua) -- China's top oil producer said Friday it planned to further increase supply of refined oil after an earlier fuel price rise by the government.

The China National Petroleum Corporation said it would process 880,000 tonnes, or about 3 percent, more crude oil in the third quarter than the same period last year.

Food price spike: Is ethanol to blame?

A devastated corn crop is likely to exacerbate costs at the grocer. Some people are pointing a finger at the ethanol production laws.

High court deflects reopening of power contracts

Efforts by utility regulators to reopen costly long-term electricity supply contracts struck at the height of the California energy crisis were deflected by the U.S. Supreme Court in a ruling yesterday.

South Africa: Fishing Companies Reeling Under Fuel Price Hikes

News agency AFP reported last month that one-third of ocean-going longline tuna fishing boats across the world could be forced to stop fishing due to rising fuel costs.

Peak oil profits ARM

LONDON — It's a straightforward argument. The higher the oil price goes the better things are for processor IP licensor ARM Holdings plc (Cambridge, England) and the worse they get for the world's largest chip company Intel Corp. (Santa Clara, Calif.).

That is until the price of oil hits $200 a barrel at which point the global economy is likely to implode like a black hole, according to some experts.

Back to buildings made by hand

HOW WILL WE LIVE without cars, television, oil and electricity? I’m not so sure it will come to that, but James Howard Kunstler is. He has written a fascinating novel imagining a world without cars, television, oil and electricity.

Michael Klare: End of the Petroleum Age?

At the hastily convened global oil summit in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on June 28, top officials of producing and consuming nations from around the world attempted to find a combination of solutions that would somehow extricate us from the current crisis over sky-high energy prices. These proposals ranged from increased output by major producers like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to restrictions on the activities of international oil speculators.

But all were based on the premise that the crisis can be resolved through the right mix of actions, thus restoring an environment of cheap and abundant oil – a premise that is fundamentally flawed. More and more, the evidence suggests that this is not just a temporary crisis. It is the beginning of the end of the Petroleum Age.

How do we know that the Petroleum Age is drawing to a close? Two key indicators tell us that this is so. First, many of the giant fields that have satisfied our massive thirst over so many years are experiencing diminished output. Second, although the major oil producers are spending more money each year to discover new reserves, they are finding less and less oil. Either of these factors by itself is cause for significant worry; the combination is deadly.

U.S. Says 400-Billion Barrel Bakken Oil Field a 'Myth'

(CNSNews.com) - Reports circulating on the Internet tell of an oil field spanning parts of western North Dakota and eastern Montana where 400 billion barrels of oil supposedly are just waiting to be tapped. However, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) tells Cybercast News Service that those huge estimates are "a myth."

Fewer expected to drive, fly for 4th of July

The number of people driving 50 or more miles from home will drop 1.2% to about 34.2 million, reflecting the continued impact of high gasoline prices, auto club AAA says.

The drop follows a similar decline over the Memorial Day holiday and is the first time this decade that AAA has forecast smaller numbers of people taking driving vacations on consecutive holidays.

Natural Gas 75% Gain Speeds Horizontal Drilling at Devon, Range

(Bloomberg) -- U.S. natural-gas producers are drilling wells previously deemed too costly and resurrecting abandoned fields from Appalachia to the Rockies, spurred by the biggest rally in fuel prices in eight years.

Where next for the oil price?

Saudi Arabia, the only oil producer capable of expanding output rapidly, confirmed that it would boost production by 200,000 barrels per day (bpd) – a well-trailed figure that fell short of the 500,000 some observers had been hoping for. That takes overall production to 9.7 million bpd, the highest in almost 30 years, and leaves its spare capacity at 1.5 million bpd, the lowest in a generation.

Saudi's Oil Promises

What sort of commitment did Saudi Arabia really make to ultimately expand oil output to 15 million barrels a day – and is that even possible?

Oil speculators leave giveaway print

Unfortunately, proving that speculation is responsible for rising prices is difficult because speculation tends to occur during booms, so that price increases easily masquerade as a reflection of economic fundamentals. But, contrary to economists' claims, oil inventories do reveal a footprint of speculation.

N.Y. to use efficiency to cut power use by 15%

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York kicked off an energy efficiency program that seeks to reverse electricity use increases by reducing power usage by 15 percent of projected levels in 2015.

If left unchecked, the state expects demand for power to rise by about 11 percent from current levels by 2015.

SC passes ethanol law challenged by oil companies

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina fuel distributors must have access to pure gasoline needed to make their own ethanol blends under a law that supporters say is first in the nation and will save customers at the pump.

...But oil companies moved quickly to stop it here and vow to do so elsewhere: They filed a lawsuit in the state's Supreme Court on Thursday — one day after the measure became law — claiming it violates the state constitution.

Supporters say oil companies want to sell the gas pre-blended so they can keep federal ethanol credits, which can top 8 cents a gallon, and prevent competition from distributors who would pass some of those savings onto customers.

Feeling oil's trickle-down effect

Have skyrocketing gas prices got you down? The same crude oil that is refined into fuel is also used to make plastics, fertilizers, roofing material and asphalt for roads. You might be surprised to see some of the many ways rising oil prices are affecting you.

Rising seas threaten west Antarctic

There's a 'big gorilla hiding the closet' whose collapse could have a dramatic effect on sea levels, according to Australian researchers.

Dr Bradley Opdyke, a paleoceanographer from the Australia National University (ANU) believes the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) could partially collapse within 20 years, resulting in a dramatic jump in sea levels.

No ice at the North Pole

It seems unthinkable, but for the first time in human history, ice is on course to disappear entirely from the North Pole this year.

The disappearance of the Arctic sea ice, making it possible to reach the Pole sailing in a boat through open water, would be one of the most dramatic – and worrying – examples of the impact of global warming on the planet. Scientists say the ice at 90 degrees north may well have melted away by the summer.

Report – adapting farming to climate change

“Adapting to climate change will involve everything from changes in crop varieties, through to improved seasonal forecasting, up to revised national policies and programs,” he said.

“For many agricultural businesses incremental changes may be enough, but some regions and industries will need to be open to more transformative changes.”

Dentist's staff saddle up to beat gas costs

ARLINGTON, Wash. - When gas prices hit $4 a gallon, the staff at Dr. Keith Leonard's dental office figured it was time to pony up.

Since more than half of the dental assistants and office staff own horses, on Wednesday the crew saddled up and rode in to work.

Oil jumps to new high above $142 as equities wilt

LONDON (Reuters) - Oil leapt to a new record high above $142 a barrel on Friday, extending gains after surging nearly 4 percent in the previous session, as tumbling global stock markets helped to trigger a wider commodities rally.

U.S. light crude for August delivery was $1.70 up at $141.34 a barrel by 8:12 a.m. EDT, off a record high of $142.26.

London Brent crude was $1.39 up at $141.22, off a record high of $142.13.

Road Warning: $7 Gas May Be Ahead: Economist Predicts Increase By 2010, Which Would Take 10 Million Cars Off The Road

(CBS) A new energy report predicts $200-a-barrel oil in as short a time as two years. If that happens, gas would likely go up to $7 a gallon - and that would have an enormous impact on the way Americans live.

Oil's momentum play - or panic?

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- After languishing for weeks around $135 a barrel, crude-oil prices lurched past $140 a barrel Thursday.

Some analysts call this a momentum move. To others it looked like a spasm -- a mindless flinching of the market's nervous system in reaction to pain felt elsewhere.

To lower oil price, boost the buck?

For six years, the world has witnessed an intriguing phenomenon: Oil prices have soared as the US dollar has declined in value.

Now some economists say the simplest way to ease oil prices in the short term is to boost the value of the greenback.

Soaring gas prices forcing lifestyle changes across US

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Trains are bustling, scooter sales are booming and manual lawn-mowers are back in vogue. But charities are grimly facing up to a drop in volunteer workers while some cash-strapped families are cutting expenditure on fresh meat and vegetables.

In a myriad of ways, the effects of soaring gasoline prices are being felt directly and indirectly across America, forcing many into lifestyle changes as they rethink monthly budgets.

Oilfield thefts soar in Texas as prices boom

MIDLAND, Texas (AFP) - The wide open oilfields of West Texas are ripe pickings for thieves these days.

Some drive up to one of the thousands of pump jacks that dot the countryside and siphon crude out of the storage tanks.

Some pull up to a drill site after the crews have gone for the night and haul away tools, pipes and equipment.

Others take kickbacks, file false invoices or just plain steal knowing their bosses are too busy riding the oil boom to keep a close eye on accounting.

Haiti halts gasoline subsidy; prices soar

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - Cuts in Haitian gasoline subsidies pushed the price of fuel to $6.14 a gallon on Thursday, further burdening an impoverished people as the government redirected money to other programs.

The 80-cents-per-gallon increase was felt immediately in the struggling country where 80 percent of people live on less than $2 a day.

Global Oil-Supply Worries Fuel Debate in Saudi Arabia

Sadad al-Husseini and Nansen Saleri raced up the ranks at Saudi Aramco, the world's most powerful oil company, working together for years to squeeze more crude from Saudi Arabia's massive fields. Today, the two men have staked out opposite sides of a momentous industry debate.

Mr. Husseini, Aramco's second-in-command until 2004, says the world faces a brute reality of depleting resources and ever rising prices. Mr. Saleri, until recently the company's oil-reservoir manager, insists that with enough ingenuity and investment, plenty more oil can be found.

(If it's still behind a paywall, try here.)

Chinese Airlines Seek Fuel Surcharge Rise

Chinese airlines have asked the industry regulator to allow them to increase fuel surcharges as they confront surging oil prices, Shanghai Airlines Chairman Zhou Chi said on Friday.

The airlines are seeking up to a doubling of the surcharge and the regulator is expected to give a response around July 1, Zhou said.

Big Oil's Alternative Energy Ads Scrutinized (audio)

As oil and gas prices surge, oil companies are highlighting their investments in alternative energy sources with new ad campaigns. Exxon-Mobil, Chevron and BP are among the companies promoting their million-dollar investments. But one journalist says that's not much compared with the billions of dollars that the oil companies make.

Norway cuts seismic study in Arctic seas

OSLO (Reuters) - Norway scaled down on Friday a seismic survey of undeveloped offshore seas near the Lofoten islands in the Arctic, a study needed before a decision on whether to allow oil and gas activities in the pristine region.

Problems with seismic equipment have delayed the start of the project, deemed as fundamental by Norway's oil industry but which also faces serious political and environmental obstacles.

SEC proposes new oil and gas reporting rules

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Changes in the rules on how energy companies report their reserves, proposed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday and favored by the industry, would give investors a clearer picture of a company's oil and natural gas reserves, the SEC said.

The proposal reflects improved technologies and alternative extraction methods, the SEC said. If adopted, it would allow previously excluded resources such as oil sands to be classified as reserves -- one of the changes the industry has sought.

The Oil Follies? Our Fault

King Abdullah just summoned everybody to Saudi Arabia to sort out the whole oil business, and the first humiliation for the U.S. is that we came running. Then again, this is old news. For 35 years, since the first oil crisis, we've been treating OPEC, and especially the Saudis, like friendly members of the Society of Important Countries rather than the criminal conspiracy they are. The second humiliation is that the meeting didn't work.

Union of Concerned Scientists: More Drilling Extends National Addiction to Oil; Will Not Save Americans Money at the Pump

"Americans deserve real solutions that will save them money at the pump, not more political posturing from the oil industry and its allies in Congress. The 'Gas Price Reduction Act' sounds like something out of a George Orwell novel. Despite the name, it will have no effect on today's gas prices and will have virtually no effect on future markets. Making our cars, light trucks and SUVs go farther on a gallon of gas would deliver real savings, not false promises.

Hundreds held in Saudi terror swoop

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia (CNN) -- Saudi authorities announced a massive anti-terrorism sweep Wednesday that netted more than 500 members of a purported al Qaeda-linked terrorist cell said to be planning attacks on Saudi targets, including major oil installations.

World Recession 2009 as a Result of Peak Oil

Whilst most people are vaguely aware that oil is important to the world economy, few understand the true impact of the recent rise in the oil price.

In 1998 the heads of state of the USA and Australia failed to ratify the Kyoto protocols. They were trying to protect their country's economies. Ironically, they engineered a situation where not only is the US economy under greater threat than it would have been had our leaders ratified the protocols, the entire world economy is now seriously threatened.

Australian PM rejects nuclear power as climate change response

SYDNEY (AFP) - Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said Friday that the country did not need to adopt nuclear energy to address climate change.

The centre-left leader's stance reverses the policy of his conservative predecessor John Howard, who announced plans to embrace the next generation of power plans before he was voted out of office last November.

Rudd said his government would pursue other options to combat climate change.

Court says no deadline for EPA on global warming

WASHINGTON - A federal appeals court refused Thursday to make a resistant Bush administration speed up a decision on whether greenhouse gases and global warming threaten public health and welfare.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia denied a petition by 17 states and several environmental groups asking it to order the Environmental Protection Agency to make that determination within 60 days.

Tony Blair urges action on climate change

TOKYO - The world already knows that global warming is a serious problem and the time has come for politicians and experts to come together to map out a practical solution, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Friday.

Climate change forces plants higher: study

LONDON (Reuters) - Rising temperatures have forced many plants to creep to higher elevations to survive, researchers reported on Thursday.

More than two-thirds of the plants studied along six West European mountain ranges climbed an average of 29 meters in altitude in each decade since 1905 to better conditions on higher ground, the researchers reported in the journal Science.

Cost of tackling global climate change has doubled, warns Stern

Lord Stern of Brentford made headlines in 2006 with a report that said countries needed to spend 1% of their GDP to stop greenhouse gases rising to dangerous levels. Failure to do this would lead to damage costing much more, the report warned - at least 5% and perhaps more than 20% of global GDP.

But speaking yesterday in London, Stern said evidence that climate change was happening faster than had been previously thought meant that emissions needed to be reduced even more sharply.


Allotments thefts rise as credit crisis causes vegetable crimewave
Allotments have enjoyed a boom few years, with many people seeing their gardening as a way of saving on fruit and vegetable bills.

However, it would now seem that thieves are taking advantage of this green revolution.

Rhubarb, potatoes and onions were part of a haul stolen from an allotment in Cheslyn Hay, near Cannock, while other sites in the region have also reported thefts of produce.

Anybody got any plans for exploding potatoes?

I am surprised that this piece did not get more comments.

It is exactly the problem that has been put forward by many doomers, that you can try and be self sufficient all you want, but make sure you are prepared to defend the food that you grow.

I had a strange feeling when I read the story, people that have barely enough money to eat themselves, being robbed by people that cannot feed themselves. This is happening in the U.K !

Who steals a bunch of potatoes and onions? It was certainly not for the money.

How long until hybrids become a hot car to steal?

(My guess is quite a while; anyone who will steal cars won't have any qualms about stealing gasoline, too)

The Prius's security and key systems make it almost impossible to steal, although I can't comment on other hybrids. (Nothing is impossible, thus the qualifier.)


I just remarked to my son that it's a good thing one fob stays in his pocket and the other in my purse - no chance of leaving one in our Prius for a thief to use.

---Love that car!

They don't need your fob, just the signals that it emits...this is a story from last summer.

Prius Security System Cracked

A talk given at the computer security conference, CRYPTO 2007, explained how the key-fob system installed on the Toyota Prius has been cracked. The KeeLoq auto anti-theft cipher is used in common devices made by Microchip Technology Inc, which are also used by Chrysler, Daewoo, Fiat, General Motors, Honda, Volvo, Volkswagen, and Jaguar.

The attack requires that the thief gets within range of your RFID keyfob, in order to break the encryption. This could mean stealing your keys, or just sitting next to you in a cafe with a laptop.

The attack requires that the thief gets within range of your RFID keyfob, in order to break the encryption. This could mean stealing your keys, or just sitting next to you in a cafe with a laptop.

Wow! Thanks for this info! I think the range is 14'. I'll tell my son not to get within 14' of anyone with a laptop that could know he drives a Prius.

I guess we'd better not be so complacent as gas prices get higher. Or just let the anti-hybrid idiots foam on so the dummies don't want them.

I have an "unusual" anti-theft device. My 1982 240D has a manual transmission. Diesels are not "cool" and there is this vague issue about being hard to start (and far fewer places to refuel). And most thieves do not know how to drive a manual transmission.

All well & good, this drops me down the list. The kicker is that reverse is "unusual" (up and to the left in an "L" pattern) and I took off the OEM shift knob and put in a wooden shift knob (no pattern on top). And I parallel park.

If some theft tries, and hotwires the ignition (no glow delay), gets the car going , he is going to have a time finding reverse (and will likely put the car into 2nd or 3rd instead of first).

Best Hopes for Low Tech solutions,


And if some thief does get it going, you could just walk after him.

Alan, you should consider switching to the earlier starting system, known as the infamous gorilla knob. Lol, there's not a single person except pre-1976 Mercedes owners that know how to get these cars started. Add to that a worn engine with low compression and our cold climate here in Scandinavia, there's no way anyone is ever going to drive off with my old Benz :D

Car hijacking is one simple solution. Or they can Use a tow truck to move hybrids to undisclosed location. Strip it for parts. The expensive Lithium-Ion batteries should sell for a premium. If there is a way to profit from stealing these cars, Theives will figure out a way to steal them.

There is a scene in the movie "Lord of war" (nicklas cage) where a huge miltary cargo plane is force to land in the middle of nowhere in Africa. With in hours a mob of people dismantle and haul all it away. All the parts ended up being sold for scrap metal or parts. I know its a movie, but its very likely close to the real world.

FWIW: The biggest threat in my opinion is home invasions. As unemployment soars, Home invasion will become the norm, because homes are easy targets. Theivess can tie up homeowners and torture them for information about where valuables are or pin numbers for ATMs. In the past thieves targeted businesses, but these days, Most have advanced surveillance systems and remote monitored alarm systems, and other countermeasures. Most homeowers can't afford these systems and services, so theives will prey on the easest targets. Home invasion is the rage among thieves in Argentina.

The expensive Lithium-Ion batteries should sell for a premium. If there is a way to profit from stealing these cars, Theives will figure out a way to steal them.

Maybe in the future, but none of today's hybrids use Lithium-Ion batteries. They are all NiMH to my knowledge. And even though the theft rate of the Prius has been exceedingly low to date, I'd guess that may change somewhat with time.

I've told my girlfriend that living in a non-descript apartment among a row of other apartments which occupy a rather lousy looking one story brick building is a great security system.

I've made sure to keep a bunch of random stuff out front as well - a couple really rusty old bicycles, a square foot garden patch that from a distance just looks like it has been overwhelmed by weeds, a few pieces of drift wood picked up on a kayaking trip etc etc. I want to give any would be thieves the impression that I probably have less than they do. This is absolutely not the time to be flaunting how well you are doing - that's just foolish.

"....because homes are easy targets..."

maybe some homes, but how is a thief to know who has a .50 cal ? and furthermore, how is a thief to know who has cash and who is living on credit cards ?

i don't know how capable the average thief is of risk analysis.
i have observed that thieves don't like to steal anything associated with work, like a shovel for example. shovels cant be fenced for much $$. maybe we should be storing our wealth in shovels. not wheel barrows though, as they have at least one wheel.

but how is a thief to know who has a .50 cal ? and furthermore, how is a thief to know who has cash and who is living on credit cards ?

they don't... unless they're organized... theives want the most return for the least effort... hence choosing theft as a means to aquire in the first place... but in the context presented here... more and more folks won't have much other choice...

so back to... how do they know... they don't... unless they cased the joint... got some inside info... it's a cost of doing business... sometimes the take is good... sometimes you get your brains blown out...

i actually got to watch this in real time recently... three kids hop the fence to the parking lot shortly after dark... they're trying door after door on the parked vehicles... byt the time the police arrived... they had split... but next day... cars in another section reported losses...

they were unlocked...

you can mitigate... but not prevent... guns will mitigate quite dramatically... but mot stop the theft attempt in the first place...

sort of like the whole pickle about end of cheap oil... regardless of cause... oil is going up... and doesn't look like it's going down... unlike the 80's where prudhoe and north shore were brought online... if there was a new reliable plentiful supply... it would be brought online... as it is... in all the possible scenarios... existing new alternate... if they were simple... it'd be done...

so the thief runs through the night... hoping yours truly is flush with cash and marketable valuables and they dont get their brains blown away...

This does not bode well for any of you city-dwellers who plan to have a garden. The crime rates in Tucson and Phoenix are going up (anecdotal from relative) as it is. New black market in food as well as drugs?

Hello Prairiedog,

Recall my earlier posting series on a bunch of biosolar mission-critical investors teaming up with a farmer to stockpile I-NPK while it is still cheap. The farmer just gets to farm; does not have to worry about his inputs.

The investors are highly incentivized to protect the farmer, their stockpile, and the land. The investors can take turns patroling the property, and when they drive [pedal?] from the city to the farm: they can haul their O-NPK to help speed the eventual conversion to organic farming, thus greatly time-extending the utility and value of their I-NPK stockpile. Going back home: haul fresh produce, milk, eggs, etc, with no middle broker fees.

Remember: the farmer wants real value; he wants I/O-NPK, he won't trade meat & cheese for a big-screen tv. Have you hugged your bag of NPK today?

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

I love your fantasy future scenarios.

A friend of mine, who is, like me in the Awl Patch and very PO aware and is green fingered and an excellent gardener once said to me that he reckoned that in a good year he could feed his family off his own land.(his produce is excellent)

I asked him if he could defend it.

This gets to the kernal of the whole issue of survivalism. Yes, you may be skilled enough to grow it, but are you of sufficient numbers to keep it?

You could end up growing it for somebody else....

Unless blessed by a passing band of Ronin.

Or Yul Brynner.

You need a small town of like minded types with a citizens militia, a mayor, a sherriff, a blacksmith, a vet and a doc (who is good at sepsis, gangrene, gunshot wounds and farm implement trauma - ie can lop off a foot or arm without killing the patient.). Midwives would be good too. And a lot of other things and skilled people.

Small towns with natural defences may make it. Cities will go zombie killer mutant and isolated settlements should be re-named 'targets'.

Such predators will make interesting Scarecrows, Head-on-a-Spike type of Garden Ornament.

I remember, and recommended that students read, More's description in Utopia of the punishments for those caught stealing a single beard of wheat. I'm somewhat surprised that some farmer hasn't plugged a diesel bandit yet, although such may not have been publicized.

For the moment, said farmer would go to jail for life in most jurisdictions if the bandit died. If the bandit survived, the bandit would probably get off scot-free and, if injured, would be entitled to sue for millions.

What were those things the Viet Cong used? Sharp spikes, smeared with dung, hidden in the ground - I wonder what stepping on one of those would do to a theif?

Punji pits.


Shoot, Shovel, Shut-up

The only people who can steal from you are the ones who can reach you. Peak Oil will reduce their numbers steadily.

We've got two massage therapists, a chiropractor, a retired MD. who never practiced, a few nurses, an electrician, plumber, many carpenters, a gun-oriented culture, many gardeners, good water fairly close to the surface, an herbalist, a family or two that raises goats and turkeys, and many ranchers who have cows out on the public land (they also keep them next door at times). We are 150-200 miles from any major city on one highway. Still haven't found anyone to install the solar, but my husband is teaching himself. I'm getting a bit more worried as time goes on. I hope we make it.

Saint Augustine as a boy stole from an orchard out of sheer boyish malice. And Britain has a huge feral child problem and general criminal problem.

At a guess refugees in the UK who have been refused leave to remain. They are unable to work or claim state aid, but have not been deported.

Spread the love!

Encourage MORE community gardens so no-one will need to steal from anyone: they'll already be linked into working a garden with their own neighbors.

Defending your garden from others is futile. They'll either eventually outnumber you or have more bullets than you.

"Defending your garden from others is futile. They'll either eventually outnumber you or have more bullets than you"

You obviously don't shoot very well. Not very likly otherwise.

There's a story in today's NYT about development of solar power plants in the Western U.S.

Apparently, nobody in the U.S. BLM bothered to do an environmental impact statement for building lots of solar power plants on Federal BLM lands. Well, it's been more than 25 years since the large central receiver solar thermal plant, Solar One, was built. Are these guys slow or what? Or, has the Republican denial of renewable energy systems, instituted under Reagan, finally come home to roost?

E. Swanson

The Off Road Business Association is upset that alt energy is muscling into their stomping grounds (emphasis added):

ORBA's President, Roy Denner, has held a seat on the BLM's Desert District Advisory Council (DAC) for the last eight years as a recreation representative. He reports that, at a recent DAC meeting in Barstow, California, the major topic of discussion involved the huge number of applications by private enterprise firms to develop energy production plants in the California desert -- where wind, solar and geothermal resources are prevalent.

It should come as no surprise that most of the proposed energy development sites are located on land currently used for motorized offroad recreation. There has been no consideration for locating sites in wilderness areas or critical habitat areas for listed species -- even though the notorious desert tortoise has been found to be propagating very well within the wind energy farm in the Palm Springs area. ...

Are we opposed to the development of renewable energy sources? Absolutely not! Along with nuclear energy sources, renewable sources can provide inexpensive energy to feed the ever-increasing demands of our technological society. But why should the tiny fraction of area left in the desert for motorized offroad recreation be the sole source of sites for these projects?

The off-roaders have aesthetic concerns too:

"Off-roaders are sensitive to the fact that we do need renewable energy projects, but ... our off-road parks could have test wells and ugly pipes running (through them) and that ruins the users' recreation experience," said Meg Grossglass, spokeswoman for the Bakersfield-based Off-Road Business Association.

Sounds like a self-correcting problem to me.

Yes, but for now, lots of folks still bring their ATVs to thrash about the dune complexs here on the Oregon Coast.

Having seen the devastation these people have visited on my local forest areas, this has to be the most ironic news story of the year.

One thing I have noted about ATVs and motocross bikes (motorized) is that I see increasing numbers of them up for sale on Craigslist, or parked along the side of the road in front of the house with a "For Sale" sign on them. Most of them are not street legal (no lights) and were bought as toys when times were good. Not that times are not so good, and gas is getting real expensive these things have become albatross's about their owners necks. I've noticed something similiar with Jet Skis and boats. Indeed, the story about Brunswick shutting down a production facility for new boats comes to mind. If people can't afford gas to get to work, they sure as hell can't afford gas to go tear up some forest trail, or zoom about on the local lake.

SubKommand Dred

Funny that environmental impacts are important now. What about the environmental impacts of the ATV'S and other ORV's on the land. They are worried about asthetics? You have to be kidding. Here in Colorado where i sit, the land is trashed by ORV use (or abuse, as it is more commonly known). All we can hope for is that in the rise in fuel prices, there will be a silver lining, and that is it will get to expensive to run these toys, and they will go extinct.

This is why I think US will fare particularly badly post PO. It's not because of the current copious consumption enjoyed by Americans, nor even because of the energy intensive infrastructure; what I find critical is the enormous inertia and inconsistency of public policies. One year they support renewable energy, the next one they are discontinuing subsidies and setting up even higher buerocratic barriers. One year they are announcing global initiative to address nuclear fuel cycle problems (GNEP), the next year they are stopping it's funding. The list goes on and on. The idea of this country for an energy strategy is to announce "that the market will take care of it". There is simply nobody at the steering wheel.

Dysfunctional governments never last. Eventually the problems and consequences pile up to the point where the government has to be and is replaced, one way or the other.

Everyone just assumes that the current system of government in the US is going to go on forever. I think that it's replacement, maybe sooner rather than later, with something else could be one of the biggest Black Swans lurking out there.

You got that right. Economic collapse, revolution, civil war, world war, not necessarily in that order. Don't we have a charming decade or three in front of us. At the end of it I think it will look a lot like Leanan's catabolic collapse. And unless there IS some kind of nearly magical techno breakthrough it will never get better (for us, meaning the current round of civilization). Dark ages here we come!

No rational person can believe that this empire will be the first ever NOT to come down. The only question is: HOW will it come down?

I kind of liked the way the Soviet empire came down -- with a whimper, not a bang. But I'm not optimistic that's the model that will be followed here.

There is one difference with this collapse, however. People talk about some other empire taking the place of the US. I don't think that will happen. I think that the collapse this time is global, and it is not just a matter of one empire overtaking another. Who would it be? Who does not face a crisis? It's global.

That's what's new about this period of history -- it really is a turning point. When the imperial structure collapses, humanity will be left with task of picking up the pieces and making peace with the planet.

Not before humanity engages in lots of wars first. I don't believe there has ever been in history or pre-history a society that didn't have a war front. Tribes have always jostled eachother for territory. Please correct me if you know of numerous examples which refute this statement. I'd really like to believe there were a bunch of them.


You are correct.


Pre Roman - Celtic tribes rustled cattle off each other , small kingdoms were in a permanent state of war. The Romans invaded and guess what? The Celtic tribes had a battle to decide who would lead the Celts. Even then, some (of the even more) awkward Celts decided to stay out of it.


Post Roman - Anglo Saxon Mini Kingdoms formed and fought each other, rustled cattle etc. (rinse and repeat...)


Post Norman - The Houses of York and Lancaster formed and fought each other, laid siege, rustled cattle etc (rinse and repeat)....

Post Tudor

The Border Rievers formed and fought each other, laid siege, rustled cattle etc (rinse and repeat)....

Dont knock it. We are good at this stuff.

Dysfunctional government, armed with nuclear weapons.

I'm not sure it is a great idea just to wait for it to collapse. The Soviets did not resort to their nukes, but they didn't have any resource issues to solve, other than the lack of sanity in their leadership. Who knows what will happen with ours? Not a great idea I tell you.

Like GNEP offered anything worthwhile. There was no investigation of reviving the molten salt reactor program, and tepid investigation in a bunch of stopgap reactors that were no better than LWRs.

GNEP offered de facto resulution of the current "waste" problem. Secure supply of enriched uranium and guarantees against non-proliferation in developing countries. Leap frogging of civilian nuclear programs in developing countries with western assistance. From climate change mitigation perspective it doesn't matter if we burn the carbon in US, China or Botswana - it's the same carbon ending in the atmosphere. GNEP offered the first step towards deploying large fleets of nuclear reactors worldwide by radically resolving the fuel cycle problem - the most politically opposed part of the industry. Now, again everyone will be pretty much on their own on resolving that one.

The only problem with GNEP was that it required international cooperation. In US we obviously don't like cooperation, it has to be all us.

As for molten salt reactors - let's be realistic. At the speed things evolve in this industry a radically new reactor design will take 2 or 3 decades to come to fruition. You have all my support for its research, and I agree it is another great stupidity it has been overlooked again. But in the meantime we have to do with what we have.

Fuels on the Hill

Published: June 27, 2008

Why are politicians so eager to pin the blame for oil prices on speculators? Because it lets them believe that we don’t have to adapt to a world of expensive gas.

I'm pretty slow sometimes. I just caught on to the pun in the title. Duh.

Krugman nails it.

That's a pretty good article by Krugman, though I think he overplays the demand side. He seems to have become aware of peak oil a few months ago. Whether he is entirely a believer or not, I'm not sure. Also, he stole my line about the "Rumsfeld defense" in regards to those who blame speculators: absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. ;-)

I believe that's a Carl Sagan quote. Probably before him, but certainly not Rumsfeld.


To my mind, it's a Beatles song with relevant words:-)

Day after day,
Alone on a hill,
The man with the foolish grin is keeping perfectly still
But nobody wants to know him,
They can see that he's just a fool,
And he never gives an answer,

But the fool on the hill,
Sees the sun going down,
And the eyes in his head,
See the world spinning 'round.

Well on the way,
Head in a cloud,
The man of a 1000 voices talking perfectly loud
But nobody ever hears him,
Or the sound he appears to make,
And he never seems to notice,

But the fool on the hill...

And nobody seems to like him,
They can tell what he wants to do,
And he never shows his feelings,

But the fool on the hill...

Ooh, ooh,
Round and round and round.

And he never listens to them,
He knows that they're the fools
They don't like him,

The fool on the hill...

Boy, don't sully Carl Sagan's reputation by confusing him with Donald Rumsfeld on that quote. But I think that the extended contango in oil futures markets, combined with the increase in the size of those markets, has made peak oil believers out of many.

Rumsfeld used the quote to defend the indefensible. The expression has some legitimate applications. It can also be used as "the Rumsfeld defense." I don't intend it to sully anyone but Rumsfeld and fools who use it the way Rumsfeld did.

WT --

"Fuel me once, shame on, uh you .... fuel me twice, shame on, shame on ... uh you can't fuel me twice ... "

Above is a paraphrase of GWB's garbling of an old truism. But maybe he was thinking that the KSA can no longer fuel us .... er' uh, supply us with fuel.

Then we would feel fuelish.

Are the fuels on a hill free?

Oh, never mind .... just fueling ....

very punny

A fuel and his money are soon parted.

A trip to the Kingdom of Saud is a fuels errand.

There is no fuel like an old fuel.

Better to stay silent and be thought a fuel, rather than , by speaking, confirm it.

Strawberries at ten Francs a kilo ... these fuelish things remind me of you.

From I believe, "Master & Commander"

"He who would pun would pick a pocket" ; )

'Won't Get Fueled Again'- parodied from 'The Who':

"...The change, it had to come
We knew it all along
We were liberated from the foe, that' all
And the world looks just the same
And history ain't changed
'Cause the banners, they all flown in the next war

I'll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around me
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I'll get on my knees and pray
We don't get fueled again..."

Although it will no longer be an electric guitar.

Denninger had this to say today about speculation:

Now The House has come up with a bill that will "restrict" commodity speculation, never mind that a commodity speculator provides liquidity and price discovery, not price setting or forcing. This is obvious to anyone with more than two firing neurons, but it doesn't matter - the people are demanding that someone be "to blame" for high oil prices, and its not acceptable for Congress to say "well, we did that and so is The Fed, and we won't stop them", so they blame "commodity speculators."

The truth on commodity futures (e.g. oil) is simple - if I buy a futures contract that tends to force the price upward, but as expiration approaches if I do not want to take delivery of that oil I must sell that contract and buy the next month's out. In doing so I drive the price of the front month down at the same rate I drive the forward contract up - the net effect is zero. Further, you can determine the total impact of these contracts as they are unwound every month when the futures expire, and the last expiration (which just passed) we saw that the true impact is just a few dollars - under $5/bbl.

Frightful Friday

At this point, if the government bans speculators and pension funds from the commodity markets, the price of oil will go up sharply.

That's because speculators are now net short.

Specs short: http://www.cftc.gov/dea/futures/deanymesf.htm (Add speculators to nonreportables for total spec open interest.)

Net investment outflows from energy in second quarter: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20602099&sid=ace77xJYOjNU&refer=e...

"Investors" and speculators departed longs and then got increasingly short through the second quarter as the price rose from $100 to $140.

This was entirely predictable. As I've posted any number of time in any number of forums, speculators don't care whether prices go up or down. They just want to be on the right side of the move. Otherwise, any move is good. It was inevitable that speculators (at least the ones that don't understand PO) were going to increasingly short oil as it went up.

At this point, I'm just hoping most of this is political grandstanding before the election. I have no problems with greater disclosure in commodities trading. I don't think raising margin requirements will have a very big effect either. Maybe some big investors and hedge funds can buy bribe make some large campaign contributions to settle down some of these congresscritters.

That's probably what some congresscritters are hoping for... a piece of the pie.

Could you possibly explain the information from that report a little further? You say that it shows speculators are net short, but when I add up all the long and short positions in each category for, say, WTI or Brent, they balance out exactly. What does each category (non-commercial, commercial, non-reportable) represent, and how does the chart show that speculators are net short? I'd like to understand the information for my own sake, and so I can give convincing evidence when discussing this with people.

What onions teach us about oil prices

Onions have no futures market, yet their recent price volatility makes the swings in oil and corn look tame.

(Fortune Magazine) -- Before the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission starts scrutinizing the role that speculators may have played in driving up fuel and food prices, investigators may want to take a look at price swings in a commodity not in today's news: onions...Back in 1958, onion growers convinced... an up-and-coming Michigan Congressman named Gerald Ford to push through a law banning all futures trading in onions. The law still stands.

And yet even with no traders to blame, the volatility in onion prices makes the swings in oil and corn look tame, reinforcing academics' belief that futures trading diminishes extreme price swings. Since 2006, oil prices have risen 100%, and corn is up 300%. But onion prices soared 400% between October 2006 and April 2007, when weather reduced crops, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, only to crash 96% by March 2008 on overproduction and then rebound 300% by this past April.

Taking the auto analogy: Speculators are the shock absorbers, not the incline in the highway.

Gecko, I like the auto analogy. That would make congressmen the deer in the headlights as you come around a blind corner at night.

Onions are a major crop in what was Jerry Ford's old district around Grand Rapids. The other big crop is apples. My wife's family was involved in growing both crops. Hilly land for apple trees and mucky bottom land for onions.
All these references to percentage changes only masks what is really happening price wise. Most folks can skip buying onions for months at a time. A few pounds can last my family for several weeks but we could go through 100 pounds of gasoline (that's less that 17 gallons) in the same amount of time.

Denninger also said

Congress, as usual, has done its level best to make things worse. "Stimulus" checks that can't, because such a give-out doesn't add to GDP; it just moves money from your taxes (which you pay) back to your hand, forcing higher taxes (to recover the funds) or more borrowing. They are a net lose because they force more interest to be paid, ultimately.

The stimulus checks aren't just a "net lose", they also amount to a government subsidy for oil consumption, as many people are just going to put spend that money on gasoline.

Speaking of "Frightful Friday", things have taken an ugly turn on the markets this afternoon, at least if you're long stocks and the USD and short oil & gold. Oil is knocking on $143, the dollar is tanking, and stocks look poised to take a dive. (Edit: things have pulled back to where they were before; no dive today).

If we don't spend it on oil, we spend it on products made in China, also adding to our trade deficit, and stimulating the Chinese economy.

Australian PM rejects nuclear power as climate change response

Why on earth wouldn't Australia be building multiple nuclear power stations right now?

They've got:

  • Heaps of Uranium being mined
  • Loads of empty nothingness to put the reactors in
  • Loads of empty nothingness to put the waste in
  • A very urbanised and suburbanised populous in distinct areas where EV would work well

A sometimes wonder if an unwritten qualification for being a politician is an inability to see further than the end of your nose.

Cooling water might be a problem, except when you locate it near the sea. And powerplants in general are not to be located in empty nothingness, but closer to population centers, as not to loose too much power in long lines.

True, but they have extreme amounts of nothingness near the sea as well. There is more coast around Australia than there is around the US, and the majority has nothing significant nearby. The red centre is still, of course, great for waste storage - particularly given how geologically old it is.

Long transmission lines are less of an issue than putting the station sufficiently far from anyone that they might complain.

Then it may be a cost issue. When you plan on a project like a new nuclear power plant you calculate with todays' prices. A basic understanding of PO is enough to realise these calculations will be way short of what is actually needed.

Or the policymakers are completely clueless.

This applies to just about everything. What do you suggest - quit building everything?

I suggest a 25-40% premium in cost estimates to prevent overrunning bugdets, which otherwise may lead to incompleted projects here and there.

From memory, and granted that's a little wobbly, the cost over-runs for nuclear plants were more like 100 pct back in the late 70s. Similar problems to now, rising steel, cement, energy, delays due to regulatory issues, etc.

Most of the cost overruns in the 80s were due to regulatory delays and changing safety requirements on the run. Coupled with high interest rates this turned into a killer with some projects completed several times over budget, some never completed or allowed to run at all.

Understandably the nuclear industry is well aware of this risk and would not start even a single plant without the proper guarantees this will not happen again.

On the other hand there is a substantial risk of rising material costs and bottlenecks in the construction process; even more worrisome - in finding qualified personnel. This would take years to clear up, and I agree that the 25-40% overrun premium looks like a reasonable one, at least for the first wave of projects.

or allowed to run at all

Because of the poor quality of construction. Zimmer & Bellefonte were disasters made by the nuke building industry.

The fault of the collapse of the US nuke building industry lies squarely on the nuke building industry, they should not try to find scapegoats elsewhere.


That same nuclear industry commissioned nearly 100 reactors during the 60s and 70s on time and on budget. What changed since then? The environment changed - from an industry that had the backing of the state, it turned into an inconvenient political exchange coin.

In USA, with its abundant fossil fuels, the state supported the initiation of civilian nuclear program partly because it provided it with the nuclear know-how and manpower to support its own nuclear weapons program; in the 80s all nuclear defense programs were completed; oil was cheap and an oilman was in the White House. Nuclear power was out of favor on all accounts... until FF prices started to bite recently. It will take a while to restore what was lost in the previous 30 years of course, but eventually it will.

They expanding too fast and lost control of quality and good management. And some earlier bad design came back to bite them in the butt.

Arkansas Nuclear One spent more on retro-fit after TMI to correct design flaws than it cost to build originally. They were not the only one. Those flaws should NEVER have been built ! There should have been no need for rework after completion (BTW, Combustion Engineering nukes had a minimum of rework post-TMI from what I understand. Design to a higher standard and all is well).

The Chairman of the TVA, when they pulled the plug on 11 nukes and took a $xx billion (2o billion ? memory is vague) later blamed it ALL on the nuke building industry and not on TMI or regulations. Same for WHOOPS (4 partially completed reactors, 1 completed billion of $$ wasted).

Too many nukes, too fast, and disaster was the result.

The nuke building industry needs to get over this myth that something happened to them, THEY DID IT TO THEMSELVES !

And unless they learn this humbling lesson, they may just do it again.

The USA, best case, can safely and economically build eight new nukes in the next decade. We should try to build that many and no more. Else, we could repeat the 1980s again.


Is it responsible to build more complex energy plants, large parts of which will become radioactive through normal use, that also produce lots of waste that we don't yet know how to deal with at the cusp of energy descent?

Will be be able to decommission them safely?

Significantly better than the alternative of leaving more carbon in the atmosphere and mercury in the biosphere. Worst case, pour concrete inside the pressure vessel and abandon in place.

LOTS of steel for scavengers after collapse, but if they do decide to melt that down for axes and knives & plowshares (or swords), the incidence of additional cancer in their shorter lives will be minimal (1 or 2 extra deaths ?)


You are right they were expanding too fast, but US was lacking a standardized and proven reactor design and that was the only real flow of it. Unlike now, when we have only two or three, and all are very good.

The new reactors will be fleets of reactors. 8 finished reactors in the first decade sounds reasonable, but once it becomes clear FF prices are set only to grow and carbon gets priced correctly I expect exponential growth in the next years. France build ~50GW in 2 decades, US built ~90GW. In the 70s US was commissioning up to 10 reactors per year. I expect that by 2030 we can easily double our current nuclear fleet. It will be hard only the first decade until the conveyor gets going.

I agree.

With 8 new nukes under our belts (or just 8 well along and doing well) the pace can be speeded up considerably.

A fleet of eight is also easier to sell (look we have so many operating nukes, 100+, and this is just another 8 to fill a gap, etc.).

I would like to see 3 different designs in those 8, so there will be some competition and less risk of common design flaws affecting large areas. That seems likely to come to pass.

My SWAG is that we could complete 15 to 20 more new nukes in years 11 to 15 (many started before Year 10) and then the rate could skyrocket, if the economics supported it. Time to completion would plummet and getting transmission lines to new nukes would be the biggest bottleneck/constraint (this is a NON-trivial problem for new nukes once we get past the first few, mainly on old sites).

Siting will also be a constraint after a while. The technical requirements for a site are rigorous and finding an empty square mile in a good spot, in say Florida, will be VERY difficult, even without NIMBYs.

Best Hopes for More Safe & Economic Nukes,


I think that in 5-10 years our energy situation will be in such a precarious state that NIMBY will largely die off. I hope I'm not overly optimistic about the possible construction rates though, I think it is possible and feasible, but whether it will be done is another question.

Given not one privately funded nuclear plant exists in the world, I second this because the public will be paying for these plants, then be paying for the electricity, then the decommissioning.

Given these simple facts, what is the true cost of nuclear electricity?


That's what a depression is.

The policymakers are completely clueless.

At $143, still doing nothing.

I'm so old I remember how $100/bbl oil was going to mean something...

They would have to buy in the expertise and all the infrastructure which might be a minus, but I agree it is difficult to think of a better place for nuclear generation. Pretty much all the consumption is near the coast, which surely has many potential sites for power stations.

Do they got water? Apparently nuclear power demands it.

I'm no fan of nuclear power and would prefer that no reactor is ever built in Australia. However, if the alternative has to be 'clean coal' because the government and population at large are too myopic to see that the real alternatives staring them in the face, then maybe nuclear is the way to go. Shame really, the country is currently too rich to use resources wisely. A huge proportion of PV installations, for example, are going on in Bavaria and Japan while Australia misses the boat on renewables and opts for the energy source of the previous millennium for primary electricity generation. Australia's energy policy is embarassingly regressive.

Wind, wave, geothermal and solar energy are apparently only worthy of meagre federal investment, while coal is subsidised. Maybe that might change if a few more coal mines are flooded and a few more gas supply problems occur.

Solar PV only produces noticeable power for a third of the day (less in the winter) and is a useful supplemental power source and not more.

Wind is good along Australia's southern coast, but not elsewhere AFAIK.

Limited hydro and geothermal.

Limited places for pumped storage even.

A few nukes north of Brisbane and on the northwestern coast (for the mining camps) would be good places to start. HVDC has 3% loss/1000 km but that is not needed ATM.

Other nukes west of Adelaide, north of Perth and in the Snowy Mountains (close to Canberra >:-), there are places to put quite a few nukes to meet a decent percentage of Australia's load.

Perhaps aim for 12% solar PV, 25% wind and 40% nuke as a good first step (and some pumped storage)

Later on, Electrify the Trans-Australian RR and run HV DC to shift generation (Perth solar PV is a couple of hours displaced from Brisbane, and wind varies by site as well).

Nukes & renewables are NOT incompatible, both reduce FF use.

Best Hopes for Moving Forward on ALL fronts,


Australia is certainly very limited in hydro resources.Probably exploited to the maximum now.
The opposite is true with geothermal.Very likely major reserves and nil present exploitation.
Exploration and proving is taking place but very expensive of course.

Australia would be e great place for large scale solar thermal with storage. This may very well replace coal generation, and I think will be competitive with "clean coal". Solar PV is a non-starter - both more expensive to produce and much more harder to store the output energy to meet demand.

Of course solar thermal will be more expensive then coal or nuclear, but given the lack of experience in nuclear and that clean coal looks as far as fusion, I think this is the way to go. You can also add some wind as far as the grid allows it.

Since the US seems to have once more got tied up with unending hassle on solar thermal for the lobbyists, that would be one of the many areas where Australia has a chance to lead the world.
I don't think it can ever make sense to abandon proven technology for something which is not fully proven, so I would argue that the way to go would be to prepare for nuclear production, but be prepared to change horses if something else works out.
Not that that seems to be an option on the table, but it is still worth pointing out that no-one with sense would put their shirt on untested options, and just hope they worked out.
Geothermal,tidal and biomass would seem to have good potential, and I would hope that they would vigorously pursue them.

I have recently been in communication with someone from New Zealand who posts on this site, and actually has the job of making concrete, costed proposals for energy builds, and he informs me that the economics of solar thermal are far better than I had thought, and that water needs can be economically met even in dry areas.
Here is an excerpt from the Western Governor's report:

"Solar thermal electric systems can be designed for very low water requirements. Dish Stirling engines and PV systems are air-cooled by design, and the steam power plants driven by trough and tower systems can utilize dry cooling for the condenser, and washing mirrors. Historically, parabolic trough plants have used wet cooling towers for cooling. With wet cooling, the cooling tower make-up represents approximately 90% of the raw water consumption. Steam cycle make-up represents approximately 8% of raw water consumption, and mirror washing represents the remaining 2%. Soiling-resistant glass is being explored to further reduce the mirror washing requirement."

One of the greatest advantages of suing renewables options is that they can be relatively small, whereas most current nuclear builds are very large, which causes difficulties in a small market.
For this reason the absolute favourite site may be Perth, as making that part of a wider grid would be very expensive.

Solar PV is also not to be dismissed in this environment, as it can be built in 2-10MW units, cheaply on the ground, and provide power at 20volts not requiring long distance transmission or steppers.
Check out these proposals from Nanosolar:

It would be great to see Australia taking the lead on adapting houses to match the environment, with Greenroof and water tanks using grey water, and electricity and water needs being greatly reduced.

I'm trying to be a realist. Countries that have not experienced resource constraints and have not been exposed to nuclear energy are reluctant to accept it because of the negative public perceptions. It would take many years (decades?) before the tide turns on this one for Australia particularly - given all that cheap coal sitting in the ground. Look at the leaders of nuclear energy:
1) France - no fossil fuels
2) Japan, South Korea - ditto
3) Russia - energy exporter, exclusively dependent on how much oil&NG it can export
4) USA - the largest energy importer
5) UK - fastly depleting FFs, worried about energy security
Where does Australia fit in here with its practically limitless coal?

I think Aus has the unique chance to show an alternative path - it's solar resources are vast, it has all that desert just sitting and baking in the sun. Even if it is times as expensive, I don't think they have issues with money, and they better invest the income of their fossil fuel bounty to prepare for the time CO2 will cost 100$/ton and all that coal will be just an expensive dirt sitting in the ground.

Canada is a leader in nukes (see CANDU) and has unexploited hydro in Manitoba, Quebec, BC and Labrador. Exports NG and coal.

Sweden also, had their own till dismantling the industry. Half hydro, half nuke grid.


Canada's undeveloped hydro resources are in the far North and will be very expensive to develop and bring the power on. Fossil fuel resources (NG) are best used as heating, so their setup of mostly nuclear + hydro seems optimal to me.

Another common thing about nuclear power - northern/colder countries are more willing to take on it. See Canada, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Ukraine, Lithuania etc. Some of them do it because they don't have a lot of choice in terms of FFs, but mostly I attribute it to the understandable practicality of people faced with the possibility of literally freezing in the dark during winter.

There is quite a bit of solar thermal research going on in Australia and there are several pilot plants up and running.
Solar PV,while expensive,is definitely economical at present in areas where mains power is either not available or extremely expensive.The cost of diesel to run generators is seeing to that.
Rural Australians have a tradition of self reliance imposed by necessity.For instance,my entire water supply is contained in one 23000 litre tank fed by rainwater collected from a roof.I have a wood burning hot water system and a composting toilet.When my wood supply runs out and if I don't feel like replacing it by firing up the chain saw I can install a solar heater which attracts a state government subsidy.
It's a bit like the Paul Kelly song - "From Little Things Big Things Grow".


"Solar PV is a non-starter..."

But if households and small businesses slapped up a few panels they would no longer have any peak load electricity requirements - they could easily break even from noon to 6 or so. This would immediately lessen the amount of peak electricity needed. That's a big deal.

A few more panels and they'd be feeding into the system at peak times. No storage needed. Still drawing power nights and Winter, but Solar PV can flatten the peak, and the peak as we all know is the killer...

And it can be done today, without waiting for your government to act in an enlightened way on your behalf.

> they could easily break even from noon to 6

Have you even checked the angles of incidence ?

Sure it depends on the direction & angle mounted, but even the best overall choice (angled to the south) (and adjusting for for daylight savings) has peak at 1 PM and MUCH less by 6 PM.

In roughly your case, figure enough to run the refrigerator and standby losses in an empty house (no a/c or heating) perhaps from 11 AM to 3 PM). 6 PM is a stretch ! The sun is lower to the horizon by then. And most homes are not empty by 6 PM.

One myth is that solar PV natches peak. It does NOT !
Almost never is peak @ solar noon (or even close). Summer Peak is about 4 PM most places with a secondary peak @ 6-7 PM. Spring/fall peak @ 6-7 PM and winter peak @ 7 AM (or 6=7 PM) Weekends show different patterns.


Thin film technologies are much more tolerant of high angles of incident, I believe.
If in a hot country like Australia it is used to power air-conditioning then it would run all day, cooling the house down, at no extra cost, which might reduce the later peak, depending on whether the residents usually left their air-conditioning on.
It is also much more economical to build in small 2-10MW units on the ground, as you don't need to go clambering over roofs for installation or maintenance.

The source, i.e., sunlight, declines with the cosine of the angle between the normal to the surface and the incident ray from the sun for the direct component. The diffuse component is rather small on a clear day. Then, the cover plate, usually glass, tends to reflect some of the light, an effect which increases also with the angle of incidence. Thus, a fixed mounting will produce a rather sharp peak in available light at one time of the day. Neither effect changes going from silicone PV vs. thin film. I have no idea regarding which is better after the light passes thru the cover plate, perhaps the difference being that thin film is bonded to the cover plate, whereas the silicon PV involves another transition between materials...

E. Swanson

Thanks for your input.
I had a heck of a job trying to check my reference for the better performance of thin-film at high angles of incidence, but it seems to be related to the diffuse light performance. The one I tracked down is from Ovionics, but AFAIK other companies make similar claims:
Difuse light efficiency.pdf
There were other references that came up in google, but they were so technical that I had not idea if they were even dealing with the issue!

At the same time I tracked down this on solar PV in Australia:
Microsoft PowerPoint - IEAust 2006 Aust PV Industry
This does a good job of showing when the load occurs, and how it matches output.

Most of the new plants are avoiding the issue of rooftops and small installations on roofs anyway, and so can optimise their angle - Nanosolar and First Solar are both going on this route.
Here are a couple of large projects:
In Japan 10MW and 28MW

And Germany 40MW

And this link gives an idea of how such plants might be integrated into the grid, on the lines of the way they did it in an experiment in Germany:
Germany Gets Creative with Renewables : TreeHugger

The extra sunshine in Australia, together with good biomass potential, surely make it easier to pull off there.

I hope some find these links interesting.

OK- maybe dumb question, but I'll give it a shot... Why not put sun tracking abilities on these when they're installed?...

Funny you should mention that. Just a few years ago I heard a German company talk of solar panels with a tracking function as a 'new development'. Yet my grandfather installed PV panels with solar tracking in his Perth garden back around 1985 using a simple setup with a windscreen wiper motor. Not sure how many privately owned and installed PV panels there were with tracking back then, but it's safe to say it wasn't many.

More than two decades down the road and apparently there still aren't many, even in sunny Australia (anyone have figures?). Such a system needn't take up too much room in your backyard either, at least by Australian standards.

Here is a simple tracking system for mounting small panels for under €200; they claim you can increase energy efficiency by up to 62% over fixed installations:

Panel mounting system

I get depressed when I realise that we are living in a society where people are dumb enough to work for weeks to pay the taxes to go into resource wars, but are too damn lazy to go and turn the panels by hand. It's not anywhere near as hard as splitting wood!

Because you increase the vulnerability of your installation to wind.

It's a tradeoff.

Yes, definitely a concern in coastal areas. If you install a number of fairly small panels then you could simply remove them in windy weather I assume, but vigilance would be required. The system my granddad had was never blown from its mounting, but he spent many hours tinkering and adjusting. As soon as you have moving parts you have maintenance to consider (greasing, aligning, etc.). I guess it's easy to understand why people connect themselves up to the mains and just go about their lives.

The panels must sometimes withstand heavy wind loads, so any tracking system has to be quite robust. And it's moving parts (motors, gear boxes, etc.) that collect dust, wear out, seize up in icy weather, require extra maintenance, and cost plenty of money. And all you get is a theoretical 57% increase in daily output - and then only if you space the panels apart so they don't shadow each other too much, so you don't even save as much land (or roof) area as you might think.

So while tracking is an old idea, it may cost less just to add a few extra panels instead. Simple, rigid mounting, no swivels, bearings, gears, or motors. To judge from typical installations, apparently hardly anyone finds tracking worthwhile with PV (or water-heating) panels. (Now, with concentrating thermal systems, you're stuck with the cost and maintenance of mechanical parts because those systems simply don't work effectively without at least some tracking. Tradeoffs, always tradeoffs.)

Trackers have always seemed to be to be a bit ungainly, and not likely cost effective for nonconcentrating systems. Especially as the cost per unit area of panels go down I would think trackers more trouble than it they are worth. OTOH, for concentrating PV, trackers are a must. These are only likely to be sensible for utility scale systems however. I think CPV has a lot more potential for cheap cost per peak watt than ordinary PV. Primarily because expensive superefficient (40% or greater) multijunction cells can be used.

Here's a page of Tracker circuits you could build at home.. there are moving parts, but it's not really a big deal, technically speaking. The cruise-control on your steering wheel is likely more complicated than these.


* LED3X Solar Tracker
A simple, accurate, low cost, single axis electronic solar tracker based on using green LEDs as photovoltaic light sensors.

With a little bit of smart control, one can always run the AC to store coolness when the PV is most available. Houses, and buildings are not that leaky, that a unit of coolness supplied before noon is mostly still retained within the building by evening. So instead of using a dumb thermostat to keep the building at a constant temperature, you let the temperature run down several degrees before local noon, and then recover during the afternoon. Done properly, one could make the A/C load match the PV availability. We've allowed ourselves to be spoiled by dumb energy wasteful technology, adding just a little bit of smarts to our systems can significantly improve overall system efficiency and allow other energy versus time goals to be met.

Optimum is angled to the north in Oz, to the south up here. I was going to edit, but someone already commented.


OK - 6pm is a stretch- I admit it. I was just being a little defensive about PV.

Peak load - and maybe someone could throw up a chart - corresponds fairly well/somewhat to peak sunlight. I have to go to work.

And you can also orient you panels a bit West of South, thus maximizing your peak load - afternoon - production. South is not always the best overall choice.

A decent sized array is going to feed energy into the system, not just run a 'fridge.

I didn't understand the 'most homes are not empty by 6 PM' comment. I figure many homes are not occupied until 6 PM. Let them sit there and produce some electricity while everyone's coming home from work and shopping.

California's demand today (early summer, 6 days past peak solar day),


note that solar PV would carve into the leading edge of the peak, making a sharper rise, but have little impact on actual peak demand. And this is a near "best case" for solar PV.

BTW, rooftop solar will be orientated about "every which way".

The 6 PM remark reflects that most people are home by then on weekdays.

Best Hopes for understanding technical realities,


You don't need to put them on a roof. Where you do it seems likely that the first ones will differentially be where it is most suited - ie north facing roofs.
The air conditioning could run all day, reducing the load when you got home as the house would be cooled.
The office would have been powered meantime all day, when it needed it.
According to First Solar, thin film technology is much more tolerant of high angles of incidence than silicon.

Some residual load could be transferred by flow batteries, and some of the cost of those could be offset because you would not need long distance transmission.

See my previous comment about shifting the AC load, by precooling the building. The amount of this precooling lost by conduction in a few hours isn't so much. As a side (actually primary) benefit, a smart cooling system in a hot dry climate like California would use the cool night air to precool the building using the free cool air at night. I manually do this, and my summer electric bill is roughly three or four times smaller than my neighbors. But this degree of energy foresight, seems to be impossible for 90% of the population, so making it automatic is the only way to get major societal benefits.

This week in California is an example, of why solar should be backed up with continuous baseline power. Due to the smoke covering most of the state, had we had the solar thermal plants being planned, they wouldn't be able to produce much power this week -yet we are still having daytime highs around 90F.

Both amorphous silicon and thin film do a lot better than crystalline silicon, and far, far better than concentrated solar thermal in overcast or diffuse light conditions, which is one of the reasons I like them.

The size of the arrays planned by First Solar and Nanosolar of 2-10MW are also handy, big enough for efficiency but small enough to be close to use and not need stepping down, and I think that could help to make them cost competitive.
They are also economical with water.

At the moment Australia would seem to have a unique opportunity, since America has decided to shoot itself in the foot by stopping building large solar as they can't get the environmental statements done.

I agree that nuclear power for baseload would be best, but since that is not going to happen Australia should go for being the solar capital of the world.

Pre-cooling buildings is of course the way to go, and much more use should be made of passive technologies - just painting a roof white greatly reduces heat load.

Pumping heat around when energy is cheap seems optimal. Larger centers do this (they make ice at night, then use this ice to cool things in the day). It works better on a large scale--corporations may have an easier time doing this.


I [tentatively] agree with you.

There are couple of issues you have not considered though:
1) In all countries there is a second, a bit lower peak around 6 pm. - this is when people go back from work and switch on TVs etc, while most offices, shops and so on are still open. The contribution of solar PV to this peak will be minimal to none. You may address that a bit by moving the clock one-two hours ahead but this is unlikely to pass IMO.
2) Peaking power plants are run on relatively clean natural gas. You may succeed in reducing some NG usage, but the coal baseload will stay intact, running 24/7. Overall PV is a quite expensive method to reduce NG fuel usage. Costs need to drop much further for this to make sense.

I'm not entirely dismissing PV, I just think solar thermal makes much more sense if Australia is serious about getting rid of coal. You have the opportunity to lead the world in doing it.


Australia can take the moral high ground on nuclear energy simply because they export all their uranium. They can thus keep their hands clean and let other countries do the 'dirty work' of building and operating nuclear power stations.

Of course, if they were morally consistent they would have to close down all those uranium mines, the availability of uranium itself being an occasion of sin.

Behold the whitened sepulchre of Ozzieland.

Oh,come on,Carolus Obscurus,there is a whole range of opinion in Australia re nuclear energy ranging from dead set against to mindless boosterism.
Export of uranium is just a small part of our resource based economy which is,I'm afraid,extremely fragile.
We export huge quantities of coal both coking and steaming quality.Electrical generation here is largely coal fired.These are the real problems.
And I haven't seen too many whitened sepulchres in my travels.Maybe some coal blackened ones though.

Antinuclear sentiment in Australia is driven by elites and celebrities. However polls conducted by the Murdoch press suggests the man in the street may be swinging towards nuclear. Interestingly GE Hitachi in the US is now implementing the laser enrichment process devised in Australia about 20 years ago.

I believe there are places on the remote coastline which could accommodate 1000MW plants with only minor transmission line upgrades. For example a desalination plant is being built to pump fresh water to the Olympic Dam mine 300km inland. That and the mine expansion will need more than half the State's electrical output. Some suggest disused uranium mines with ongoing security could be used as waste repositories.

Unfortunately the combination of nuclear alarmism and a willingness to believe in implausible alternatives will see Australia's coal dependence increase.

Cos we are to stupid... and not cold or hungry enough yet..

As a group humans are not quite smart enough to "make it"...

Arrh well what a time to be alive..

There is a long tradition of opposition to nuclear power in Australia.I'm not sure about all the reasons but it is a fact of political life here.Personally I think it is an option worth trying,at least on a limited scale.
What is against nuclear in Australia is - Expensive and long lead time;the ready availability of viable alternatives,solar thermal,wind,solar PV,geothermal and tidal in a few remote areas.Remoteness is not necessarily a big problem if HVDC transmission is used.
Waste disposal for nuclear is more an emotive than a practical issue.Burying carbon dioxide doesn't seem to get people so upset apparently.Strange,when one considers that clean coal/carbon capture is really just a scam.
Realistically,I don't see nuclear going anywhere in Australia.

The UK Renewables Report and White Paper is now out and is available here:

There is a lot of good information here on subjects such as microgeneration.

Matt Simmons predicts oil prices could double or more within a few years.

Matt Simmons said that in his view oil was “dirt cheap at $140 a barrel”, and with supplies having peaked and demand growing prices were bound to go higher.

He said: “It is not beyond the pale of imagination to see oil at $300, $400, $500 or even $600 a barrel within a relatively short time, much less than 20 years. It is not speculators who are driving oil prices. It’s simply about supply and demand.”

Matt is at it again: "He said he measured oil prices of $140 as being 25 cents a cup, and consumers could not buy anything for less than $1 a cup."

Hopefully this is a misquote.

I don't know where Matt shops, but there are all kinds of stuff that can be had for $1 a cup, but maybe not in the circles that he moves in.

He usually phrases it that nothing of value can be had for 25 cents a cup. That is wrong too since $7 corn is about 6 cents a cup. And $15 soybeans are about 12 cents a cup.

Got to give him credit though for being right about the crude oil market. If only he would just stick to what he knows.

Perhaps you should take a moment as well - it is no misquote.

He is presenting his quotes to Mass Media and he knows it. 90%(or more) of the general public do not know the value of a raw commodity. He knows that...most of the public (and especially so in the USA) are focused on the instant gratification society elements (service oriented) - there isn't much that is less than 25c a cup or $1 a cup for that matter. There is a place for exact numerical accuracy...this is not one of them.

In context. Matt is taking a more aggressive strategy hoping to scare the wits out of people...I agree (we have had this discussion on TOD before). At this point, the only way people will wake up is a good SCARE!

Oil is the most precious substance in history and we are burning it for a ride to the drive thru for food that is of poor quality. It is pretty astonishing. It is truly sad when you realize collectively we are no smarter than a single celled organism(Bob you are so right).

Single celled organisms ain't smart but they will be around long after we have collectively been extinguished from the planet. We will just be the detritus for the single cells to feed on.

Until someone can come up with a better comparison, I guess this will have to do even though it may be losing some of its punch. In any event, when you burn oil, it is essentially gone forever. At 25 cents a cup, it has tremendous value and will still have tremendous value at $1.00 per cup. If we could also truly understand how precious and how limited oil is, we would be a lot more careful in how we burnt it. It is still civilizations' feedstock. Wastefully burning our feedstock is criminal.

For example, see above. Is driving an ATV around and around through the desert or the mountains a good use of our remaining feedstock? Living in the present is great as long as one doesn't have to suffer the long term consequences.

When someone tells me that $5/gallon is expensive for gasoline, I ask them how much money I would have to pay them to push my car for 20 miles.

Does anyone know where I can get a chart of global production vs exports?

I think this would be good for my educational bulletin board at work...


You could post this for the net export picture (especially from Mexico): http://cinepad.com/images/thelma.jpg

Rembrandt posts net export graphs and world production graphs. You might see if he could combine them for you.

That's great thanks...

The world graph didn't appear as I expected.

The US graph is very telling.

Here is a Television Show recently filmed with Matt Simmons, I think it adresses this topic very well.



Either of these links will get you there.

CNBC reports that General Motors' market value is now roughly equivalent to that of toy maker Mattel: http://www.cnbc.com/id/25392542

The valuation is very generous. Check out their balnce sheet-net assets is negative 42 billion.

I just got this in the mail yesterday from my local Saturn dealership:

Note that they'll pay 110% of market value for my current car....my 2006 Toyota Prius.

No deal.

My father in law works at Lear who make seating for GM here in Janesville WI and for the hummer plant in IN. He got his schedule the other day that goes through Christmas, there gonna be working 35 day from here to the end of the year. He told me "the plants gonna stay open until 2010? Shit looking at it we're hardly gonna make it through this year." Yeah it looks worse for GM than what you see in the headlines.

If your father in law worked for GM and only worked 35 days he would still get paid his full salary through 2010. Not sure if that's how it works for Lear or not. How many competitive companies pay their employees NOT to work?

Lear is different. I know for sure that they don't make nearly as much when laid off as when they are working plus from what I understand about the unemployment pay for GM employees is paid for by the union (part of union dues) also in a recent contract negotiation the union decided to take to paying for the retirees. Don't remember the specifics I'll have to ask him since he knows how it all works.

Audio & Video

"Bridges to the Future, Part I: The Smart Grid"


"How can we make our nation's electrical grid more resilient and nimble? How can we save energy and prevent blackouts? Second-by-second information sharing among households, utilities and even individual appliance may revolutionize the grids that distribute electricity throughout the country. First in a series of four discussion forums held by Popular Mechanics and the National Science Foundation to explore the best ideas for improving American infrastructure and building a better, safer future."


I definitely think that if electric cars make it to mainstream with the current grid that their chargers are going to somehow have to have the ability to query the status of the grid and determine if there's power available for charging.

1. Social media links: http://twitter.com/theoildrum and http://friendfeed.com/theoildrum.

2. Thanks for helping spread our work and efforts around. 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).

3. 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.

As a part of their Running on Empty series CBC's The National (June 25, 2008) had a segment that featured JH Kunstler.

Running on Empty Life Without Cheap Oil

"It's not a question of if, but when. Futurist and author James Howard Kunstler talks about life in a world without cheap oil."

Also from the 25th is a segment Why Oil is Up

"What is driving this recent rise in oil prices? And is there anything we can do to stop it? Kelly Crowe talks to three experts (including Jeffrey Rubin), each with a different explanation."

Just saw on Bloomberg some news about a problem at BP Rotterdam expected to shut 400k/day of capacity (crude or refined?) for several weeks. Can't find any links. Anybody know any more?

Edit: Seems this is the BP Nerefco refinery. 400k/day and the second largest in Europe. No links yet but the headline is now scrolling on Bloomberg News ticker: "BP forced to shut crude unit at Rotterdam refinery sources say."

That's a refinery. Here's a link: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=alhKazM0RsYE&refer=home

The refinery, which processes 400,000 barrels a day, is down for repairs until around July 19. This means reduced diesel and gasoline supply.

An interesting explanation in the article

The unit needs to be idled because of pollution resulting from the mix of crude oils being used, one of the people said.

Think they tried to fudge through a shipment of heavier, more sour crude?

This means reduced diesel and gasoline supply.

Interesting. A few weeks ago diesel prices at the pump started to overtake gas (petrol) prices per litre here in Germany. That is despite less tax being levied on diesel. In the last week the balance was redressed with diesel dropping below gas prices. Maybe with this shutdown we will see diesel climb above gas again.

I filled up my KIA carnival today.
Price of diesel €1.55 per litre = about $10 a gallon
69.90 litres = €107 Hey, thats cheap! I can drive for nearly 1000 kilometers for that money.
Fuel consumption was 33 mpg.

Sorry, but fuel prices will have to double before things get really bad here.

VW Rolls Out a Backward Hybrid

Start-stop technology will save power and regenerative braking will help generate it. VW says the car will use lithium-ion batteries and have an all-electric range of 31 miles. The company recently signed a deal with Sanyo to develop li-ion batteries; the electronics company plans to begin production next year and says it will spend $769 million on the effort during the next seven years.

Is this a conventional drivetrain? The picture shows an automatic gearshift with 3 speeds, so I guess so. A real backward hybrid would have the engine driving a generator and all the power to the wheels coming from the electric motor(s).

Still, at 31 miles range, this would cut my fuel use by 90%. (and double my electricity use). Better buy those PV panels...

From SlashDot (and the NYT):

The US Bureau of Land Management, overwhelmed by applications for large-scale solar energy plants, has declared a two-year freeze on applications for new projects until it completes an extensive environmental impact study.

It looks like this is causing First Solar to tank today, among other news.

Great!! Now they're protecting all the wildlife that the deserts teem with. It seems to me that building solar powered electricity plants in hot arid locations would have the least environmental impact of any electricity generating technology. I guess when we are looking at PO in the rear view mirror, all these delaying tactics will be seen as the mistakes they are.

Further up the page, a post pointed out that one of the complaints was that, these power plants will impinge on areas reserved for recreational motoring. Good luck with the RM post peak!

Alan from the islands

Since all government depts. have had severe budget cutbacks, they probably don't have the personnel to process all the paperwork. Another example of the "starve the beast" political philosophy that has taken over the administration.

Hey folks, the link up top Global Oil-Supply Worries Fuel Debate in Saudi Arabia is really great. Here is a version that is not behind a pay wall: Fueling the peak oil debate in Saudi Arabia

It is about the dispute between Mr. Sadad al-Husseini, Aramco's second-in-command until 2004 and Mr. Nansen Saleri, until recently the company's oil-reservoir manager. Mr. al-Husseini has some great lines in the story including:

"The fact is, we have to work harder and harder to get the oil we need," he says. Those who contend otherwise, he insists, "claim to have some magic potion, like voodoo, that doesn't exist."


"The problem with Nansen," he says, "is that he loves his theories, even when they run up against reality."

Theories running up against reality, isn't that the bane of all cornucopians and most economists? I like Matt Simmons take on that: "Data trumps all theories".

Ron Patterson

Did you see that Tapis is now over $147?

I thought that it was a novel (and very good) idea to set the debate up between two Saudis.

My impression has been that Saleri is not himself of Saudi nationality. But my quick search just now did not come up with an answer to the question of his nationality.

Mr. Saleri, who left Aramco in September, doesn't share those worries. He has hired a half dozen former Aramco and Chevron officials and opened a business in Houston. His company, Quantum Reservoir Impact, says it has the reservoir-modeling and management know-how to revive declining oil fields.

If you're in the business of selling nostrums, it wouldn't be good business to admit that the patient is terminal.

Having listened this evening to the interview with Arun Gupta and Michael Klare on Democracy Now
(See story above: "As Oil Hits Another Record High, A Look at the New Geopolitics of Energy"), and considering Gupta's glib confidence in official reserve data in particular, another quote from Matt Simmons came to mind: "People for too long have gone on assuming that data's facts." (From memory, I believe from his interview with Julian Darley about global gas supplies, May 2004) It also brought to mind the excellent posts by "carleton95" over at InvestorVillage, revealing the contents of much of IHS Energy's global field-by-field database. In his posts on the world's major gas fields, he repeatedly noted the large volumes of gas being booked as reserves on the basis of very few drill bit penetrations, by historical standards. I believe the two key gas posts were titled "Very Big Gas Fields" and "Very Big Gas Field" (sic) with "Part 1" and "Part 2" also in the subject lines (I forget which was which).

Michael Klare had a lot of useful things to say, but as usual he was not too strong on details. So the show epitomized what the Left of the spectrum usually gets to hear about energy depletion: on the one side we get regurgitated Michael Lynch with a touch of Marxist rhetoric, and on the other, a watered down version of the truth.

To be a bit more specific myself, I recall Gupta's article in the June 2006 issue of Z Magazine. That article began as follows:

With gas prices breaking the $3 barrier the notion of "peak oil"—that geological constraints will force a permanent decline in crude oil production—is the apocalyptic flavor of the moment. Any number of websites, books, organizations, and discussion groups warn that the post-carbon age is nearly upon us, with everything from industrial agriculture to plastics to pharmaceuticals to the car industry in danger of vanishing.

While peak oil is a sexy theory, it's simply not valid in the near term. An extensive analysis last year by Cambridge Energy Research Associates of existing oil reserves and future projects concluded oil production will increase for the next 15 years if not longer. The energy-forecasting group predicted that an increasing amount of oil would be derived from unconventional sources, such as heavy oil, tar sands, and natural gas condensates and that by 2010 daily output could increase by as much as 16 million barrels over 2004 levels. Most peak oil proponents ignore this evidence and in doing so they create a dangerous distraction, shifting the discussion away from the political and economic actors that bear the most responsibility for rising oil and gas prices—big oil, Wall Street, and the White House.

Source: A.K. Gupta, “Wall Street and Big Oil Profit from Global Turmoil,” Z Magazine June 2006

So on the one side we have "any number of websites, books, organizations, and discussion groups," all of whom unnamed, trumped by a single press release. He evidently had not even read the actual "extensive analysis" he refers to, it being only available for $2000 a copy, surely out of reach of the publications he writes for. "Most peak oil proponents," again all unnamed, are said to "ignore this evidence," though it is hardly necessary to remind TOD readers that CERA's claims were extensively discussed, including by people who had actually read the report. Then we get what is apparently Gupta's bottom line: anything that doesn't stress the correct villains is a "dangerous distraction" politically. Though it's not clear how Gupta's assumption - that anything claimed by BP, CERA or Saudi Arabia regarding oil and gas reserves is the truth (if you think this is an exaggeration listen to today's interview) - serves to identify the correct villains, apparently depletion-based analyses are found wanting in this regard.

The rest of the article is pretty much a rehash, with a Left PC twist, of MSM themes about speculation, lack of new refining capacity, etc.

As an example of Klare's casual regard for fact, he said at one point of the state owned oil companies in the Middle East and Africa that

They want to keep producing for as long as possible, that’s their only source of wealth. They want to keep it in the ground as long as they possibly can and that is another reason why supplies are not as adequate as they might be.

This is rather remarkable as a description of, say, post 1991 Saudi behavior.

On a related point in another recent interview, he said:

We’ll recall that President Bush made two trips this year to Saudi Arabia begging King Abdullah to boost production in order to bring down prices and twice he was rebuffed by King Abdullah, who clearly doesn’t want to squander his country’s oil capacity. Now he has apparently has relented out of fear that if oil prices continue to rise, oil consumers around the world are going begin to turn away from oil to other sources of energy like biofuels and wind power and solar and whatever. So he has relented finally and has agreed to increase Saudi production by at least another half a million barrels per day, maybe more.

Source: http://www.financialsense.com/Experts/2008/Klare.html

This is the story which the MSM has constructed about Bush's visits - rewriting his actual words. What Bush actually said was: "If they [the Saudis] don't have a lot of additional oil to put on the market, it is hard to ask somebody to do something they may not be able to do." (ABC Nightline, January 15, 2008.) And, at a press conference the same day, he said "I hope that OPEC, if possible, understands that if they could put more supply on the market it would be helpful. But a lot of these economies are going - a lot of these oil-producing countries are full out." The Bush Administration evidently believes the Middle East is at or near peak. Former Commerce Secretary Don Evans told Hardball in February 2006 that "The world is producing oil, the Middle East, every country is at its full capacity and it's very unlikely that we're going to see supply in the world grow from the levels where we are right now. [italics added]." And Insight Magazine (May 16, 2006), citing sources close to Cheney, reported that according to US intelligence assessments, "Middle East oil supplies will become increasingly precarious after 2008."

Of course, Klare's 500,000 barrels a day also turns out to be exaggerated.

Hmmm.....If OPEC is a "criminal conspiracy," then what was/is the 7 Sisters, or the Iron Triangle between the 7 Sisters, Big 3 Auto, and construction/finance?

You forgot the Fed, the military industrial complex, Big Pharma and the AMA, the list goes on and on.

Ironically, if such a conspiracy operates within a nation-state, it is criminal. If it is an alliance of sovereign governments, then it is an expression of sovereign rights.

Sadad al-Husseini versus Nansen Saleri on the Wall Street Journal today - behind a pay barrier but I found the full article at Scout.com:



Darwinian got there first. Apologies for redundancy.

Oops again.

Scout.com reproduces the text of the WSJ article in full, while Darwinian's site contains only a 'digested' version.

"14 or 15 trillion barrels"

Is that a new cornucopian record?

It's nice enough that I'm going out and buying a hummer and keeping my A/C set on 70.

Technical question re mixed diesel/gasoline screwup:

There was a local incident in which diesel was pumped into the gasoline tanks of several local gas stations, which (not surprisingly) fouled a lot of cars that got the mixed gas.

My question: What happens next? If you have 100,000 (or whatever) gallons of diesel mixed with gasoline, what do you do with it? Can it be re-refined back into its parts? Is this easy or difficult (i.e., maybe because refineries are not set up to accept this kind of input)? Or is there some customer out there that can use this stuff as-is?

Curious minds must know...

I would guess that it could be sufficiently diluted back at the tank farm or refinery to not make much difference. Maybe RR could chime in on this, he's the goto guy for this kind of question.

Pipeline operators deal with that stuff every day. They call it transmix, and there are companies that buy it from the pipeline terminal operator and sell it to a refinery to be re-run. It separates back out in the distillation towers.

To get the full mark, I'll ramble a little on pipeline ops. In most product pipelines the various grades of liquid fuel (diesel, kerosene, gasoline, etc.) are not separated with a physical device (called a 'pig'). Instead, fluid turbulence keeps the batches 'mostly' separated. This is why pipeline shutdowns are a bad deal. Without turbulence, density effects take over and the transmix zone gets inexorably wider as the 2 fluids start to wedge under / over each other.

When receiving the tail end of a a diesel batch followed by a gasoline batch, the operator tests a slip stream of the fluid in a mini-lab while it is flowing into the diesel tank. When the flash point gets to a certain level, the valves are switched so that the (now) transmix flows into a dedicated tank. When further testing shows that the amount of diesel in the pipe is low enough, the valves are switched again so that the flow is sent to the gasoline tank.

Local circumstances will dictate how the transmix is handled. If a terminal is close enough to a refinery, then its economical to put in piping / pumps to push it back that way. In other case, trucking is more economical.

Transmix is one of those necessary evils; it's a loss no matter how you slice it.

Thanks for the interesting reply. I never knew they mixed (serialized) pipeline contents--I just figured there were separate pipelines for each product. Seems like this'd introduce a lot more opportunity for "operator error".

P.S. If they pump milk through the same pipeline, don't tell me--I don't want to know... ;-)

agreed , very interesting reply from bjj ! thx

Hello Bjj,

Thxs for the info. Sounds like a business opportunity, but difficult to exploit profitably. Perhaps the best way to take advantage of this would be, instead of numerous diesel tanker-rigs running the transmix back to the refinery, build a small, narrow gauge railway with steam-loco [external combustion] that could burn this transmix as it hauled the rest of the transmix back for reprocessing.

I am guessing that designing an ICE that could burn highly variable transmix would be too expensive and too small a market to be worthwhile.

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

Hi bjj. Nice summation! Just to elaborate a bit for the curious- Product pipelines can be halted, just keep them under pressure and mixing is minimized.

If your scheduler is worth his salt you'll be getting decent size batches, giving you some tolerance for a little #2 into the gas without hurting specs. I worked one terminal in Michigan for a few years, we were lucky, had a refinery further down the line that liked TM. But we didn't really ship much out at that location, it was a very smooth operation. Others I worked it was mostly trucked.

Propane is even shipped in the same lines in some areas. Just put 300 Bbls. of Butane as a buffer in between the gas and Propane and split it out by gravity at the receiving point into separate storage. I ran a couple of LPG terminals for 12 years and in that time we developed customers for the Butane/Gas mix and Butane/Propane mix. Made out on it fairly well really.

Nice to see someone here with pipeline experience, a real rarity.

Khurais joins Saudi giants

What else can the official stance of Saudi Arabia be?

I can think of at least two motives why Saudi Arabia might want to project the image that it has tremendous oil production capacity in reserve, even when it doesn't:

1) By maintaining the mystique that it can suddenly increase production, flooding the world with oil and knocking the floor out of oil prices, it discourages investment in alternatives that might require high oil prices in order to be economically justifiable, and

2) It gives Saudi Arabia something to hold over the heads of the oil hawks like Iran, Libya and Venezuela.

Khurais is STILL a big question mark. In 1980 Khurais produced 68,000 barrels a day. In 1981, after a massive gas injection program, Khurais produced 144,000 barrels per day. (Simmons, Twilight, page 213) The following year production dropped of dramatically and shortly thereafter ARAMCO mothballed the field due to low production.

Now, through the magic of massive water injection, Khurais is touted to be able to produce 1.2 million barrels per day, though phase one, scheduled to come on line in 2009, is listed at 800,000 barrels per day. No doubt, if you pumped two million barrels per day of water into the reservoir, you would get at least 800,000 barrels of something out. But how much and for how long, I have no idea. However I would bet big money that it will never produce 1.2 mb/d and will not produce 800 kb/d for very long. From an earlier Oil Drum thread on Khurais:

Khurais Me A River

...the Khurais development plans include drilling 310 horizontal wells and installing facilities for injecting 2 million b/ d of seawater. Included in the 310 wells are 125 water injection wells and 17 observation wells. Al-Saif said the producing wells will have single 1-2-km long laterals and be instrumented with modern real-time, intelligent, downhole completions with "smart" electric submersible pumps. The injection wells will have 1.5-km long laterals, he said.

Ron Patterson


Your expectations are probably close to the eventual reality but I'm compelled to through in some mind numbing techical points.

I've worked with water flood projects before. It will take X bbls of water injected before the first bbl of oil is produced. It's called the water bank. Takes a while to accomplish...no guess on what that volume might be in the subject field but it's not insignificant. Guessing the peak oil rate will always be a plus or minus 30% or so. But what's even more difficult to speculate upon is how the injected water will flow in the oil reservoir. It's not anything like pumping water into the bottom of a storage tank and watching the oil float up to the top. I saw one water flood in S TX that pumped over 3 million bw and recovered less than 30,000 bo before they gave up. The explanation is way too long for this forum but suffice it to say the water flowed around the residual oil and went staright to the producing wells. There are still hundreds of millions bbl of oil in these S. TX reservoirs that no one has figured out how to recover yet.

But I'm sure the KSA hired the best reservoir engineering modelers available to do the design. But in the end it's still just a model based on a lot of assumptions and I've seen many blowup in an operators face despite honest expectations. As in all secondary recovery projects it's "wait and see".

Nobody knows if their 1.2 Mbpd projections will really come to pass, but I am not as pessimistic as Ron (though few are :-)). The challenges in Khurais are two-fold: 1) variable quality rock, and 2) fractures. They have gained recent valuable experience with both of these issues in Haradh III and Shaybah, so they are not starting from scratch. They realized they had to start with 3-D seismic and then do geo-steering while drilling to avoid fractures.

Of course, no two reservoirs behave the same -- although N. Ghawar and Abqaiq are close. Texas is quite different (usually sandstone, although you know more than I). With Haradh III, they started pumping a couple of months before production started (total volume not known, though), and it was six months or so before they were at capacity. Our only clues will be if delays are announced with ridiculous explanations (such as "commissioning activities need to be completed"), if they "can not find buyers" so they produce less, or a lot more wells show up than originally projected.

In the end, after all the hype, Khurais is simply a far cry from Ghawar II.

3) So the Royal family can remain in power and prevent a revolt when the masses discovered that their leaders have squandered their endowment. When the oil stops shipping, thats will the food, and the toys stop coming. So the Royals have to play the game until the end. At which point the royal family packups and flee in their jets. Unless they get caught like france'S royal family did during the french revolution.

Back in the old West, Huge towns sprung up from nothing when gold or silver was discovered. There was a program on the History channel where arceologists dug up an old mining town than when bust. At the peak their more than 30,000 residents. Everything from bottled water to the lastest Fashion dresses imported from Rurope where delivered to this town in the middle of nowhere. When the mine was depleted it all disappeared. The Same will happen with Oil in the Middle East.

When the oil is gone, these people will be in doomed since its a big difference between moving tens of thousand of people to moving tens of millions, and during that period, there was still lots of undeveloped land for the people to relocate to. Today, all of the regions outside of the middle east are nearly fully development and have population issues. Plus since getting visas to relocate somewhere else isn't going to very easy, especially when they all try to relocate at the same time.

The first good news of many a year. As many as one-third long-line tuna fishing boats may be out of business due to the oil price. There is hope !!

Fishing industry reeling from leaping fuel prices

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Leaping fuel prices are sinking the fortunes of America's commercial fishermen, some of whom may soon call it quits for good.

In Alaska, boats that typically haul in rockfish and perch sit docked for prolonged periods. In Texas, shrimpers are traveling to Mexico just to buy cheaper diesel. And along the East Coast, lobstermen are making fewer trips to their traps.

Unlike shippers, commercial airlines and other industries that pass higher fuel costs along to customers, fishermen don't have the same flexibility. Not only does fresh fish have a short shelf life, but U.S. families can easily substitute their diets with less expensive chicken, pork and beef — even at time when the cost of meat is on the rise.

"Fishermen can't come in and say, 'My costs just went up, so you're going to have to pay me more,'" said Bill Adler, executive director for the Massachusetts Lobstermen's Association. Instead, the dealer offers a price and it's "take it or leave it. He knows you got a product that has to be alive. He knows you've got to get rid of them."

U.S. fishermen have in recent years faced increasing pressure to keep prices down because of low-cost imports and farmed fish. The 64 percent rise in the cost of diesel over the past year — with spikes of as much as 75 percent in some parts of Alaska — means already-tight profit margins are being stretched even further, leaving less take-home pay for captains and crews.

Fisherman reeling?

Recovery of ocean fish stocks may be the only good thing that comes from this.

Yes, we're already seeing the recovery of fish stocks here in Oregon due to greatly reduced pressure from both sport and commercial fishing. Now if we could just get the land-based salmon habitat issue to react as quickly.

I expect fishing to resume this look not too long from now.

Less production of something means greater consumption of something else when it comes to food. If the worlds starts consuming less fish, they'll need to consume more of something else to fill the gap. Now that that agraculture production is below normal because of bad weather, what will that something else be?
The west (especially the US) can probably get by since Americans waste (throw out a lot of unconsumed food). But that does apply to poor asian countries. Looks like the food riots will get much worse.

The food riots to date are over the basics like rice, bread, etc., not meat. In Asia, historicly meat consumption is very low compared to the West, something like 2oz/day/capita.

All along the coast of Asia Seafood consumption is high. Probably much higher than in america.

Bureau of Land Management won't accept new applications for solar power plants for two years:


They can't manage the current volume of applications. I recall that California has a huge number of interconnect applications for renewable energy as well and that this is also a bottleneck. Apparently, there is no future energy crisis if we can just manage to staff up the agencies that need to signoff on these things. It is very sad that reassigning staff internally is not adequate to get the job done. Surely, with oil prices rising, we could halt consideration of new oil exploration in anticipation of better future royalties and get staff from that activity to cover.


From Living on the Ice Shelf, above:

"Meanwhile, the total consumption of fossil fuels is predicted to increase at least 55% over the next generation, with international oil exports doubling in volume"

Take that, ELM!!!

Would someone please exlain how a short position works on a future oil contract. Thanks

Like all futures contracts it is essentially a bet. It is a contract to deliver 1000B of oil at some date in the future. A range of dates are available from next month to Dec 2016. At any given moment traders are offering to enter into this contract at various prices. If you want to short oil for some certain date you can see what is the lowest price someone is willing to enter into the buy side of the contract. This is called the ask price as of today the ask for Dec 2015 oil is $137.80. If you are convinced that at the expiration of the contract oil will be cheaper than the ask price you don't actually need to own any oil. You can sell the contract promising delivery and only have to put down about $11,000 earnest money.

Let us assume that you believe the pundits who think oil will go back down to $40. If you are right by 2105 the spot price will be near $40 and the price of the contract will decline to the spot price as the contract nears expiration. You will not need to deliver the oil you can just wait till the price of the contract goes down to $40 and buy the opposite contract (to buy oil for Dec 2015 delivery) for $40. You will net 1000 times the difference or about $100,000 on a $11,000 investment.

The risk of course is that if oil is $500 in 2015 you will be obligated to deliver it for $137. If you don't have any you can still close out your position by buying a contract for delivery but it will cost $500/B. You will need to spend 1000*($500-$137) or $363,000 to get out of the contract.

The broker will not let you get this deep under water. One of the rules is that the cash you have on deposit must be $7000 more than it would take to get out of the contract so if in the example above Dec 2015 oil went up $4 you would be under your margin requirement (you put down $11,000 but you have already lost $4000) and the broker will want more money. If you don't keep up your margin they will sell your contract at the current price.

The converse of this is that if the market is moving in your direction you can take money out before the expiration of the contract. Lets say I bought a contract to receive oil for $90 in 2015 (I must have done this last year when there were sellers willing to short oil at that price). Now that contract is $137. I have made $47000 and could withdraw this money since I will still have $7,000 margin. (This is somewhat complicated by the fact that the exchange can change the margin requirement. It was $4000 last year so if I made $47,000 I would only be able to take out $44,000 I must leave the balance in the increased margin).

Note that this means that if oil is moving up increasing the margin requirements could actually drive up the futures price since it is the shorts who are needing to put in more money, if the margin were greatly increased they would have a harder time coming up with it than the longs who have already made a profit. If the shorts cannot come up with the money the brokers will close out their positions by buying which will drive up the price of the contract. This is known as a short squeeze.

A short is a contract to sell oil at some price on some date. A long is a contract to buy oil at some price on some date. They are opposite ends of a transaction. If there are a lot more shorts then people are betting prices will drop as that would mean they can buy oil cheaper to offset their contract, and hence make money.

Reuters is trying to sell an idea through headline, as it is currently shown on the Yahoo! Finance main page: "Oil Bubbles Past $142 to Record." But the actual item, which was updtated after I saw the initial headline, has deleted "bubbles" and substituted "rising investor flows." In its depths, the item at least provides some reality:

Some experts insist supply and demand are behind oil's record rise, while others, including OPEC, say rising flows of speculative cash are behind this year's gains.

"We believe the factors driving oil prices higher are fundamental and not speculative," Deutsche Bank said in a research note. "Oil needs to rise to $150 a barrel for oil as a share of global GDP to reach the levels that occurred in the early 1980s."

"At that point, we will start to see more signs of demand destruction and an eventual tipping point in oil markets."

Here is an article that I have been waiting for:

Oil costs force P&G to rethink its supply network

Soaring energy prices are forcing Procter & Gamble to rethink how it distributes its products, with the world's biggest consumer goods company shifting manufacturing sites closer to consumers to cut its transport bill.

Keith Harrison, head of global supply at P&G, the maker of Tide detergent, Crest toothpaste and Pampers, said the era of high oil prices was forcing P&G to change.

"A lot of our supply chain design work was really developed and implemented in the 1980s and 1990s, when our capital spending was fairly high as a cost of capacity and oil was 10 bucks a barrel," said Mr Harrison in an interview with the Financial Times.

"I could say that the supply chain design is now upside down. The environment has changed. Transportation cost is going to create an even more distributed sourcing network than we would have had otherwise."

This really means that localization is the flavour of the times and that the "flat earth" people will have to find a new songsheet.

The supply chain industry has been keen to PO-related issues for awhile now and had some good articles. These guys are on the front-line of PO effects on industry.

Here's one right here:

The Supply Chain Perfect Storm

Throughout most of 2005 and early 2006, most of us in the business could not escape the constant barrage from media, consultants, vendors and various other sources about the so-called “Perfect Storm” that had developed in transportation. At the time, companies were suffering from an extremely tight capacity situation, rising freight rates that came with the demand-supply mismatch, terrible port congestion, fuel prices that were just starting their long rise, and a handful of other maladies.

I am back with a new Perfect Storm, and it goes way beyond just transportation. You really have to ask: Has the supply chain environment ever been tougher than it is right now?

Hello Dragonfly41,

Thxs for the info. Yep, the logistics-cost is a back-breaker, and can only get worse [repost below]:

Fertiliser price rise makes crude oil blush

...The delivery cost of fertilisers has risen in the past one year, from anywhere between 48% to 517%. This is unsustainable for governments and farmers,” Mr Sarma pointed out.
Now add the fast rising price of just the I-NPK to this supply chain delivery cost. Receding Horizon?

I am both surprised and disappointed that these countries are not racing for full-on Peak Outreach to promote biosolar mission-critical investing at every scale, plus to stockpile I-NPK, bicycles, wheelbarrows, and install SpiderWebRiding to move I/O-NPK, and other vital goods. Building a fleet of hi-tech, sailing cargo-clippers would be to their advantage, too. Sadly, I guess their leaders & citizens prefer demand destruction by machete' moshpit and Nuahtl Tlameme backpacking. Such is life.

EDIT: Machete' moshpits is still better than India & Pakistan doing the full-on nuclear gift exchange!

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

Dow Chemical raised prices 20-25% in early May. It is now raising them again by a similar amount and adding freight surcharges.

We have yet to see the sorts of major rises in consumer product prices happen until now. There will be many more to come. Consumer Confidence is already at a 26-year low. When the newly adjusted prices start to be noticed at the retail level, I expect the CC figure to drop like a stone and associated politico scrambling/stammering before Labor Day. I wouldn't consider stocking up on such products to be hoarding; I consider it smart shopping/investing.

Ya...when Dow Chem said they would start raising prices I wonder how long it would take to run through the inventory of stuff already created before the price increase...depends on the product, but I would say by the end of summer, most everything Dow makes for consumers will start showing the increase at retail facilities.

New Congressional Resolution Declares War with Iran

Historically, naval blockades have always been recognized as an act of war.

A House resolution effectively requiring a naval blockade on Iran seems fast tracked for passage, gaining co-sponsors at a remarkable speed, but experts say the measures called for in the resolutions amount to an act of war.

H.CON.RES 362 calls on the president to stop all shipments of refined petroleum products from reaching Iran. It also "demands" that the President impose "stringent inspection requirements on all persons, vehicles, ships, planes, trains and cargo entering or departing Iran."

Analysts say that this would require a US naval blockade in the Strait of Hormuz.

Since its introduction on May 22 the resolution has attracted 205 cosponsors.

In the Senate, a sister resolution S. RES 580 has gained cosponsors rapidly. The Senate measure was introduced by Indiana Democrat Evan Bayh on June 2. It has now accrued 26 cosponsors.

These resolutions could severely escalate US-Iran tensions, experts say. Recalling the perception of the naval blockade of Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the international norms classifying a naval blockade an act of war, critics argue endorsement of these bills would signal US intentions of war with Iran.


The US military has constructed four advanced bases 20 miles from Iraq's border with Iran, a senior Iraqi police officer has announced.

The bases, equipped with missile launch pads, have been set up over the past four months on the Iraq-Iran border; Iraqi al-Noor newspaper quoted the official as saying.

He added that one of the bases has been located 30 km (20 miles) from the first border town with Iran and houses remote-controlled launching pads as well as radar systems similar to ones used in Kuwait during the first Persian Gulf war.


How do you get info on co-sponsors?

EDIT: Never mind, found it.

These resolutions could severely escalate US-Iran tensions, experts say. Recalling the perception of the naval blockade of Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the international norms classifying a naval blockade an act of war, critics argue

Spot the vital difference between the two:

H. CON. RES. 362

(3) demands that the President initiate an international effort to immediately and dramatically increase the economic, political, and diplomatic pressure on Iran to verifiably suspend its nuclear enrichment activities by, inter alia, prohibiting the export to Iran of all refined petroleum products; imposing stringent inspection requirements on all persons, vehicles, ships, planes, trains, and cargo entering or departing Iran; and prohibiting the international movement of all Iranian officials not involved in negotiating the suspension of Iran’s nuclear program; and

(4) urges the President to lead a sustained, serious, and forceful effort at regional diplomacy to support the legitimate governments in the region against Iranian efforts to destabilize them, to reassure our friends and allies that the United States supports them in their resistance to Iranian efforts at hegemony, and to make clear to the Government of Iran that the United States will protect America’s vital national security interests in the Middle East.

But the Senate S. RES . 580 says

(3) demands that the President lead an international effort to immediately and dramatically increase the pressure on the Government of Iran to verifiably suspend its nuclear enrichment activities by, among other measures, banning the importation of refined petroleum products to Iran; and

(4) asserts that nothing in this resolution shall be construed to authorize the use of force against Iran.

Jumping up and down banging shoe on table...our elected officials are bozos!! My Senator Bingaman is head of the energy committee...he knows nothing about Peak Oil, as evidenced by a recent email communication from his office. It's all speculation and the falling dollar. Best hope for survival from here on out.

"...among other measures, banning the importation of refined petroleum products to Iran; and

(4) asserts that nothing in this resolution shall be construed to authorize the use of force against Iran."

How can you ban something without using force? Further, as I've already made clear, the sanctions regime already constitutes an act of Economic War against Iran. Lastly, Iran is doing NOTHING WRONG!!!! It is operating completely within its rights as a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to develop the nuclear fuel cycle for domestic energy production. This means that the UNSC sanctions are without any legal basis whatsoever, as Iran continually points-out and which the Western Propaganda System makes certain to never reveal. To me, it's quite clear that we are again seeing "facts fixed around the policy," with the difference being the wholesale complicity of the Democrat Party and its presidential candidate. Guess I'll need to revisit my thinking about how all those "idle" tankers filled with crude can be used as weapons.

Undertow -

Item (3) of the Senate version speaks of "....banning the importation of refined petroleum products to Iran....", while Item (4) "asserts that nothing in this resolution shall be construed to authorize the use of force against Iran."

Question: How do you ban the importation of refined petroleum products from some party not wishing to take part in the ban without resorting to the use of force? What if say a country like Russia wanted to do a swap with Iran involving crude to Russia in return for gasoline and diesel from Russia: are we seriously going to attempt to physically prevent Russia from doing that?

An enforced embargo of a vital material is an act of war.

Both of these so-called resolutions are pure election-year political theatre and the height of hypocrisy, just as it was in the run-up to the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

The Bush Regime has time and time again demonstrated that it does not need the permission or even the approval of Congress to do anything. So what would be the purpose of these resolutions?

It is nothing more than the Democrats and Republicans tripping over each other to prove to the enormously rich and powerful pro-Israel lobby in this country which one is most hawkish in satisfying Israel's national interests. This is one of the most disgusting and shameless examples of pandering to the interests of a foreign power to the detriment of one's own country. In my book this ranks pretty close to being treasonous.

At TOD we spend an enormous amount of time and effort trying to devine the direction of future global oil production and price. We also talk about some of those pesky 'aboveground factors'. Well, provoking a military conflict with Iran, either directly or through the backdoor via Israel, will be the mother of all aboveground factors, one which will push an already unstable situation into outright chaos.

Our leaders are swine.

I think John Lennon said it best:

"I think we're being run by maniacs for maniacal ends"

I heard an interesting take on the US hostility to Iran's nuclear program on recent a US TV talk show (?NPR) syndicated to ABC2 here in Oz.

Israel has a huge nuclear arsenal (200+ warheads) and 2nd strike capacity from submarines, so attacking Israel would be mass suicide for the Iranians.

However the nuclear threat would likely deter some of the Jewish diaspora from returning to Israel and may frighten some Israelis into leaving their country.

Although the program did not mention it, it seems to me that his would be anathema to the Christian fundamentalists who think that the second coming, as per the book of revelation, must necessarily be preceded by the return of all Jews to the holy land. So Iran's nuclear program stands in the way of the Jesus and it must be stopped at all costs.

Are there enough religious loonies in the Republican party for an idea like this this to take hold?

Are there enough religious loonies in the Republican party for an idea like this this to take hold?

How many does it take? If a few can wangle themselves into key positions, and disquise their plans as simple toughguy standing up to the bad guys, then they can get their agenda sold. Add in some neocons with their own similar, if differently motivated agenda, and the gullibility of the majority can be exploited.

By one measure, based on religious affiliation, it was 15% of the American electoriat going into the 2004 election. Analytically, defense of Israel was a domestic political issue for these folks, not a matter of foreign relations.

Is there any indication of either US political candidate tapping Hirsch or a similar individual who understands peak oil and has enough vision to do something about it? Everything else aside, that would seal my vote pretty much instantly.

Publicly, no.

Behind the scenes, who knows.

However, you can bet that one of the first visits/calls the new president makes is that to KSA.

As for Hirsch, I think it sums up his opinion when he says "Good luck".

Time to do huge amounts of work is gone in his opinion. It's now down to good luck and damage control.

Hello TODers,

Final warning

...This has left the oil market so fragile that a few well-placed explosives, an energy-sapping cold winter or an unusually intense hurricane season could send shock waves across the globe. The potential consequences are so serious that governments are drawing up emergency plans to cope should the worst happen. According to one analyst who took part in a simulation of just such a crisis, the situation most experts fear is what they call a "psychological avalanche"....

Absolutely awesome!

We're undoubtedly operating on the edge. Given the dire economic caos that taking just a couple of million BOPD off the market would cause, do you believe today's spot price of oil has enough risk premium built in? I think not.

Congress, instead of talking about how it can get oil prices down, should be talking about how it can get oil prices up. This would encourage conservation and alternatives so that the world can build up a production cushion again.

Full interactive Oil Choke point map from the aforementioned article at:

Oil: The final warning - Interactive Map (New Scientists)

Hello TODers,

An excellent read,IMO:

Iowa Farmer Sees `Years' of Damage to Corn Crops From Flooding
Good opportunity for postPeak biosolar mission-critical investors, if you ask me.

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

Hello TODers,

Recall that Putin told his citizens to grow their own food:

Record grain prices create Russia farmland boom

...Troika Dialog's Bond said potash cost about $150 a tonne in Russia compared with around $1,000 a tonne on the international market.
"You've got a huge potential cost advantage," he said.
With the problems North America is having with grains: will we be begging the Russians for food? Will we have sufficient wealth to pay the transport cost if it rises like India's transport cost? Stay tuned.

Just watched the uber idiot program Kudlow and Company (I don't know why it fascinates me so) with Dan Yergin and other panelists...shaking their heads up and down to Kudlow chanting drill drill drill. Oh man!

Hello TODers,

Does this woman in Ghana read as a smart, biosolar mission-critical investor?


...That aside, she constructed a dining hall and kitchen, dormitory block, bath houses and several other facilities for the school.

Showing that her heart goes out to farmers, she acquired three tractors, paid for the plugging cost, and purchased fertilizer for the farmers in her district.

Knowing very well the plight of women, she provided over ¢1 billion micro-credit access for women and undertook major renovation and reconstruction of major feeder roads leading in and out of Nalerigu – Gambaga...
Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Apologies if posted already:


It seems unthinkable, but for the first time in human history, ice is on course to disappear entirely from the North Pole this year.

I saw that bit of news today too. Really depressing...

I got an interesting call from my commodity house today, MF Global. I currently hold 10 out dated natural gas contracts that I bought about 6 wks ago after I rotated out of oil contracts that I had held for about a year. I have not bought or sold since the initial purchase. My initial margin is about 70k, but I usually keep double in the account as T-bills to protect against getting called. As it happens, because NG is up, I have closer to 170k because I haven't bothered to sweep it out to a money market for a week or two. Today a rep calls, and says the risk dept. has been monitoring my acct for several weeks and noted that I have a large concentrated long position in energy, and they want me to either sell either half the positions or post even more money than is already in the account (currently ~2 1/2 times NYMEX's initial margin req). When I asked how much more he said "2 or 3 hundred thousand more". This, with the money already in, works out to be as much as 6 times the NYMEX requirement, and close to half the nominal value of the contracts. When I started pressing him, the guy said he would get back to me this afternoon with exact numbers, and then never called. Anyone else ever had an experience like this. I am not normally a conspiracy nut, but this really reeks of something foul. I know last year MF Global had a "rogue trader" go short wheat and lost like a hundred mil. Could they be short NG now and getting squeezed? Either that, or are they trying to get essentially a free capital infusion, since it's so much more than they would post to NYMEX? Is it government pressure? My own theory is that maybe they thought they could scare me into liquidating into a large bid/ask spread market, with the intention to buy the contracts at a cut rate price to cover their own shorts--I just don't know. It's not that I couldn't cover it, but who wants to tie that kind of money up in 6 month T-bills at roughly one and a half percent, pre-tax, unnecessarily. If they can do this unilaterally, what is the point of the published NYMEX reg's. Is this legal? My understanding is that commodities contracts are not like shorting stock, where you may actually be borrowing money from the broker to buy and then short a stock. It's supposed to be more like earnest money in a contract negotiation. How is it that they allowed me to buy the contracts, never said anything, the value is up and the equity in the contracts has increased, but suddenly it is deemed too risky for me. Who regulates these guys governmentally? Could I file a complaint? Thanks for any insights. Will probably repost the question tomorrow, since it may late for people to see tonight. Regards, John Oester

Dude, what in the H-E double hockey sticks are you doing gambling in energy markets anyway? Stay out of the market. You and your ilk are responsible for causing the artificial increase in the cost of oil and other commodities, and I hope you are required to increase your margins by 300% to stay in the game. There would be nothing better right now than to kick out the speculators and investors in the energy futures markets by making them pony up higher margins. I'm sick of people profiting off the backs of the middle class, and it's about time to call the game. S-K REW all of you morons who are killing the middle class across the globe. I hope you lose your friggen shirt when the market crashes. (Yes, I am pissed because speculators are slowly killing the global aviation industry which just so happens to be my livelihood)

Oh, Spindoc, it isn't just oil prices that are killing global aviation. The whole "let's do a cavity search" routine every time you fly, plus really nasty airport food, are also contributing factors. 2 hour waits don't help either. Airlines suck. We hate airlines and want them to go away.

But before I would blame speculators, I might look at the US burning 20 gallons of gasoline per soldier per day in Iraq.

[My condolences on your livelihood though. I don't expect things to get better any time soon. I hope you have transferable skills.]

You are not paying attention. First the speculators are net short so forcing them to increase margin would drive up the futures price. Look at the price of futures contracts; speculators are betting the price will be lower in the future.

Second the futures market has the same relationship to the spot price that the sports book has to the game. Blaming "speculators" for the spot price makes exactly as much sense as blaming your bookie whey your team loses.

There is one way the bookie can cheat and actually impact the outcome which is to pay a player to take a dive. The equivalent act in the futures market would be to buy oil and store it. Given the amount that would need to be stored I an sure it would be detected. The only parties who could do this are the producers who can store by simply not pumping. If they believe that supply will be lower in the future and prices higher then this is rational behavior on their part.

Spindoc, let me guess, you listen Rush Limbaugh. Is there anyone here who has a clue how futures markets work that would like to hazard a response. I'm sorry you chose to make your livlihood in a field that has been on the verge of bankruptcy since, what, the deregulation of the early 80's. Couldn't even turn a profit when oil was ten dollars a barrel. Well, here's to better decision making skills in your next lifetime. Don't blast those of us who put our money where our mouth is regarding our beliefs in the future, rather than just blathering about it on some random blog. Sadly, the powers that be have always used ignorant pawns like you to exert their will. I lump you in the same category as the out of work, dead end loser in the 30's that joined the brown-shirts and then went and torched synagouges because Hitler told him that Jews where responsible for the ills of middle class Germans. Hope the crash treats you well. Megadittoes, JO.

Sounds to me like you should be asking questions of the appropriate regulators. This could be a case where they are trying to drive selling in order to offset some inside shorts that are going majorly wrong. But who knows. I wouldn't trust any of these people.

I think this is very significant. Would you post a followup and let us know what happens in the end. Your post seems to say they never actually followed up with their demand.

Leanan,thanks for that link to that ABC Science (25 June)article on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.

I'm strictly an amateur but I try to follow the science in this field.This is the first concern I have heard about an imminent threat to the WAIS.Very bad news indeed if it turns out to be correct.

This might come in handy sometime.

Youtube - Mad Max - Motörhead - Ace of Spades

Should be interesting to see where oil prices go from here: Curious: Will the price of oil be above/below $142/barrel on July 11th?


What do you think.