DrumBeat: July 21, 2008

Peak oil to hinder world development - UK lawmakers

LONDON (Reuters) - The looming peak in world oil production will set back international development and threatens to hinder efforts to make poverty history, a report by a group of UK lawmakers said.

While oil's rally to a record high is causing economic pain in developed countries, its impact on international development is being overlooked, the report by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Peak Oil and development groups RESET and Practical Action said.

"The deepening energy crisis has the potential to make poverty a permanent state for a growing number of people, undoing the development efforts of a generation," the report released on Monday said.

"Communities across the globe are more vulnerable than ever, living in an unsustainable present and facing an uncertain future."

A rally in oil prices, which hit a record $147.27 a barrel earlier this month, is leading to more interest in peak oil -- the controversial view that supply has reached, or will soon reach, a high point and then fall.

AP IMPACT: Big Oil profits steered to investors

HOUSTON - As giant oil companies like Exxon Mobil and ConocoPhillips get set to report what will probably be another round of eye-popping quarterly profits, just where is all that money going?

The companies insist they're trying to find new oil that might help bring down gas prices, but the money they spend on exploration is nothing compared with what they spend on stock buybacks and dividends.

Russia May Sell Arctic Oil Leases Within 5 Years, McMahon Says

(Bloomberg) -- Russia may sell licenses to explore for oil in the Arctic Sea before the end of 2013 as the world's second biggest producer seeks to boost flagging output, according to Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.

``We will see a Russian Arctic offshore lease sale within five years, mainly as a way of raising money, but also in a nervous reaction to the plateau, or even decline of Russian oil production,'' Bernstein analyst Neil McMahon said in a note today.

OPEC Must Increase Output to Reduce Prices, CGES Says

(Bloomberg) -- OPEC needs to raise oil production to reduce crude prices and help global economic growth, the Centre for Global Energy Studies said.

OPEC's forecast for 2008 supply increases from outside the group is unrealistic, the London-based consultant said in a monthly report today. World oil inventories fell for six consecutive quarters before rising in the second quarter of 2008, indicating a supply shortfall, the report said.

``OPEC's continued assertion that the world is well supplied with oil does not stand up to scrutiny,'' the report said. ``Not enough oil is being produced to meet world demand and this has been the case since the middle of 2006.''.

Offshore oil: What's really out there?

The president is pushing to lift the ban on drilling off the coasts. That won't be a quick fix for oil prices.

Eni says Nigerian oil pipeline repaired

MILAN (Reuters) - Italian oil company Eni SpA has completed repairs to its Tebidaba-Brass River pipeline in Nigeria, damaged in sabotage last week, Eni said on Monday.

U.S. highway trust fund veers toward crisis

WASHINGTON -- Soaring gasoline prices are hurting Uncle Sam in the wallet too.

As motorists cut back on their driving and buy more fuel-efficient cars, the government is taking in less money from the federal gasoline tax.

The result: The principal source of funding for highway projects will soon hit a big financial pothole. The federal highway trust fund could be in the red by $3.2 billion or more next year.

The fund, set to finance about $40 billion in transportation projects next year, is increasingly strained. And the problem has taken on greater urgency as lawmakers face a backlog of projects to maintain the nation's aging interstate highway system and ease traffic congestion.

Oil industry eyes Iraq with caution

LONDON — The oil industry is cautious about Iraq's decision to offer foreign companies long-term contracts to develop its largest producing fields, with any windfalls seen as distant and likely to go to a select few firms.

More golf carts leaving greens

As gas prices climb, more cities across the USA, including communities in Virginia, Minnesota and Colorado, are allowing electric golf carts on public streets.

Fuel prices leave boaters docked

Growing up in Ohio, Bill Higgins had a life-long dream of owning a boat. Higgins, now 66 and retired, was enchanted by the challenge that awaited him on the water.

Now, rising gasoline prices are forcing him to cut back on his dream.

New McCain ad says nation has Obama to 'thank' for soaring gas prices; is it fair?

The hardest-hitting TV ad of the presidential campaign so far?

Republican John McCain campaign says it is Democratic contender Barack Obama and others with similar policies who Americans can "thank" for soaring gasoline prices...

Dmitry Orlov: A boondoggle to end all boondoggles?

I read through the speech, and it's not bad as such speeches go. It says all the right things about the problems we face - things quite a few of us already know - and it makes us feel good to hear them said well and to a large audience. Whether that audience is capable of absorbing the message is another matter. Al is careful to avoid proposing to slaughter any of the sacred cows of the "American way of life," such as private automobile ownership, or the right to squander as much energy as you can afford, be it by cranking up the air conditioning or cruising around in a motor yacht. In this, Al Gore and Dick Cheney seem to be soul-mates: to them the American way of life is non-negotiable.

BP May Shut Rotterdam Crude Refining Unit, Cutting Fuels Output

(Bloomberg) -- BP Plc is planning to shut a crude unit at Europe's second-largest refinery for maintenance later this year, three people with knowledge of the plans said.

One of two so-called crude distillation units at the 400,000 barrel-a-day Rotterdam facility is scheduled to shut in October for four to five weeks, the people said, declining to be named because the information is confidential. Robert Wine, a BP spokesman based in London, declined to comment on the shutdown.

Iraq asks oil majors to shorten service contracts

DUBAI/BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq has asked international oil companies to revise proposals for technical service contracts worth about $3 billion that aim to boost the country's oil output by about a quarter.

Record Iranian output belies oil sector travails

EVENT: Oil output is officially said to be running at 4.2 million barrels per day, a post-revolutionary record.

SIGNIFICANCE: This disguises the fact that there are major problems in the Iranian oil sector which if not addressed soon will have very serious implications for the broader economy.

ANALYSIS: Iran is struggling to maintain oil exports despite the claimed record production levels. The official target is to produce 4.3 million barrels per day (b/d) during the current fiscal year (which began in March). Further out, the target is a more ambitious 8.5 million b/d by 2015 at an estimated capital cost of $50-billion (U.S.). Given that pre-revolutionary production was 6 million b/d, this appears to be realistic.

Alaska: Energy fix meets political pandering

The country could offset some of its oil imports by drilling in Alaska, but some say the whole debate is just a big distraction.

Rising oil, food prices pose serious challenge: ASEAN

SINGAPORE (AFP) — Rising oil and food prices pose a serious challenge to the social and economic welfare of Southeast Asia, the region's foreign ministers said at annual talks Monday.

The ministers from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) encouraged all countries to do away with export subsidies and other protectionist policies which they described as price-distorting.

UK: Petrol theft 'doubles' in five months

Thieves have been avoiding rising petrol prices by siphoning fuel from other motorists' cars.

The RAC motoring organisation says between January and June it's seen a doubling in the number of cars it's attended which have had all their fuel drained.

Asphalt shortage raises the price of roadwork

The gas pump and meat aisle are handy gauges for inflation. But the black asphalt flowing out of Steve Hall's trucks onto U.S. 12 near Long Lake is a pungent reminder consumers are hardly alone in inflation's grip.

Soaring costs for fuel and other construction materials are walloping contractors nationally, and a brewing problem with some asphalt supplies is only the latest example.

Refinery asphalt prices nationally have risen more than 40 percent since March, government statistics show. Hall's paving company, Hardrives Inc., of Rogers, was already reeling from this budgetary pothole when its main asphalt supplier announced it couldn't supply the high-grade asphalt he contracted for.

High price of crabs puts the pinch on summer savories

“Crabs are more because of the cost of fuel and bait. The market on crabs has expanded more than we’ll ever be able to supply,” said Simns.

Last year, a gallon of diesel cost him $2 a gallon. This year, it’s up to about $4.70 a gallon.

He also said the cost of razor clams and menhaden – bait used to catch the crabs – has also increased. To catch bait, it also takes more fuel. Increasing energy costs to freeze bait also increases prices, said Simns.

Seafood shortages send Viet Nam firms fishing for products abroad

In the north and south, there is a shortage of seafood for processing, in these regions catch volumes are low because the high cost of fuel does not make fishing viable.

Pakistan: Mystery behind disappearance of trees in coastal towns

Nawaz Kumbhar, a local environmentalist, who is running an organisation, engaged in preserving the flora and fauna in Achhro, Thar Sanghar district, stated, “Unfortunately, acute poverty has forced people to cut down trees in their courtyards.”

Beijing traffic plan tests commuters

BEIJING, China (AP) -- Morning haze hung over Beijing on Monday, the first workday for restrictions on car use under a bold plan to clear the Olympic city of its notorious smog-choked skies. An electronic billboard display in Beijing shows information about the traffic control period on Sunday.

Under a two-month plan that started Sunday, half of the capital's 3.3 million cars will be removed from city streets on alternate days, depending on whether the license plate ends in an odd or even numbers.

Kleiner bets the farm

The legendary venture firm is going green - and leaving Internet deals to the competition.

IEA warns non-Opec oil could peak in two years

Oil production in non-Opec countries is set to peak within the next two years, leaving the world increasingly dependent on supplies from the cartel of exporting nations, according to one of the world's leading energy experts.

Fatih Birol, chief economist of the International Energy Agency (IEA), said that falling production from key regions such as the North Sea and the Gulf of Mexico would leave international oil companies such as Shell and BP increasingly sidelined at the expense of national oil companies, such as Saudi Aramco.

U.S. targets Somali pirates

The U.S. and international military forces are taking more aggressive action off the African coast as bolder and more violent pirates imperil oil shipments and other trade.

The area is a key shipping route for cargo transported to and from the U.S. and elsewhere. In response to pirate attacks, the U.S. has stepped up its patrols to deter them and sometimes intervened to rescue hostages and ships. It also has increased its intelligence-sharing in the area, says Navy Lt. Nate Christensen, a spokesman for the 5th Fleet in Bahrain, which patrols Middle Eastern and African waters.

The U.S. is "very concerned about the increasing number of acts of piracy and armed robbery" off the Somali coast, he says. Somalia's weak government has admitted it can't control its territorial waters, and Nigeria is fending off a rebel group.

There May Be Oil Offshore, But…

Oil and gas firms covet US offshore reserves, but with oil prices so volatile it's unclear how much would be tapped -- or where it would end up.

Saudi Power - Shaping another U.S. Foreign Policy Misadventure

Oil revenue in 2007 supplied the desert kingdom with 194 billion dollars. If oil prices remain at about $140/barrel, combined revenues for 2008 and 2009 will increase to 700 billion dollars. A nation of only 27 million that imports most of its goods is actually the fourth leading nation in trade balance, with a trade surplus of $88.9 billion.

Unlike the oil producing nations of the Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia does not have a sovereign capital fund. Instead of exporting, and thus re-circulating much of their capital, the Saudis have retained much of the surplus for internal investment or have established companies that mainly allow only Saudi investors. Nevertheless, Saudi oil revenue is flowing outwards.

Quash It Now

From 1974 to the day the feds returned speed-limit jurisdiction to the states in 1995, the law did not result in a single day during which a nation of drivers went 55 mph to save gasoline. The vast majority kept doing what they always have done and always will do: maintaining a speed reasonable for the road conditions.

So we created a nation of traffic scoff-laws, an atmosphere under which police were cast not as protectors of the public welfare but as enforcers of a law most citizens disobeyed. Parallels were drawn with the Prohibition era, and rightly so.

How Obama Can Regain the Initiative on Energy

While it may be hard to stomach, there is no denying that John McCain has been leading the debate on energy policy. A number of recent polls has established a clear trend in favor of oil drilling and exploration and investment in nuclear power over conservation and regulation -- among both liberals and conservatives. In addition, the latest report from James Carville and Stan Greenberg, two campaign consultants, has revealed that Obama has been losing ground to McCain and that he has not effectively addressed the shift in public sentiment.

Soaring costs spark 'green' legislation

A Republican state senator has proposed waiving New Jersey's 7 percent sales tax on energy-efficient products and appliances such as refrigerators, air conditioners and fluorescent light bulbs.

A Democratic senator has instituted a four-day workweek at her legislative office to help staff members save on gasoline.

Other bills provide tax incentives for towns, industry and farms to build renewable energy systems on their properties. Still others mandate more stringent energy standards for new or renovated buildings or require increased energy efficiency in household appliances.

Please, not a Prairie Springfield

I can't believe we're even considering chucking the windmill in favour of the nuclear reactor. Instead of bolstering my government's crucial support for the more benign solar, wind and co-generation projects, we prefer to toss our tax dollars to some of the same people who recently acquired Saddam Hussein's yellowcake -- the crack cocaine of uranium.

Mideast Facing Choice Between Crops and Water

CAIRO — Global food shortages have placed the Middle East and North Africa in a quandary, as they are forced to choose between growing more crops to feed an expanding population or preserving their already scant supply of water.

For decades nations in this region have drained aquifers, sucked the salt from seawater and diverted the mighty Nile to make the deserts bloom. But those projects were so costly and used so much water that it remained far more practical to import food than to produce it. Today, some countries import 90 percent or more of their staples.

Now, the worldwide food crisis is making many countries in this politically volatile region rethink that math.

Indonesia oil marker under scrutiny as Minas shrinks

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Dwindling supply of Indonesia's once abundant Minas flagship crude is undermining its role as a benchmark and the price stability of other crude oil in Asia Pacific.

The situation may be at breaking point, some traders say.

Why plague people with trash talk when they've got worries enough?

Forget about manicured front lawns, white picket fences and the sound of children at play. According to a growing legion of pundits and "peak oil" theorists, the tidy suburbs of today are the forsaken slums of tomorrow.

Getting lease for oil drilling is just the start

HOUSTON (AP) — The national debate over opening more offshore areas to oil and gas exploration has begged the question: Just what are the companies doing with the tens of millions of acres they're already leasing from the federal government?

Ecuador looks to Iran and China in new oil refinery

QUITO (AFP) — China and Iran are interested in investing in a six-billion-dollar oil refinery Ecuador is building with Venezuelan help on the Pacific coast, President Rafael Correa said Saturday.

"That refinery is being built with (Venezuela's state giant) PDVSA although Iran and China also are interested," the Ecuadoran leader said in his weekly television address.

Pfffffffffft! There Goes the Vacation

To most Americans, a summer getaway is a crucial component of the life-work compact: they trade 50 weeks of cubicle-bound servitude for two weeks of sun-dappled bliss, and it seems worth it (well, almost).

But halfway through the 2008 season, vacationers (and would-be vacationers) are being squeezed by a confluence of dismal economic realities: fuel prices that have nearly doubled since the start of last year; airlines that have jacked up fares 17 percent since the start of the year; a dollar that stands like a pygmy alongside foreign currencies.

Asia's inflationary winners and losers

BANGKOK - As cost-push inflationary pressures course through Asia's oil-importing economies, some countries are better placed than others to meet the rising macroeconomic challenge presented by spiraling global oil prices, which hit a record high of US$147 per barrel this month.

How individual governments respond in the coming months will separate the region's economic winners from losers and likely determine whether the global economy is headed for a hard or soft landing in light of the US's mounting financial and economic troubles.

New coal plants in Michigan draw fire

Michigan electric companies say the voracious appetite for energy-sucking gadgets like plasma televisions, which use four times the power of old-fashioned screens, are pushing them to build the first new coal plants in the state in 20 years to satisfy the demand.

Environmental groups say the sudden rush to build coal plants calls on a 19th-Century technology to solve 21st-Century problems.

Energy Matters: Neighbors to help neighbors through winter of high prices

"The best security you have is a prepared neighbor," said Paloma O'Riley a decade ago, when she was rallying people to prepare for an emergency of unknown proportions.

The comment still rings true, as we prepare for a hard winter in the short term and, in the medium term, what James Howard Kunstler calls the "long emergency" of declining fossil fuels and other challenges that lie ahead.

The Perfect Storm: Peak oil meets global warming

Robert Hirsch, the internationally acclaimed author of “The Hirsch Report,” painted a gloomy picture, referring to the clash between peaking oil and climate concerns as a coming “train wreck.” “Since the world is ill-prepared for declining oil production,” he explained, “dire economic circumstances will ensue from 2010 and 2030.” He predicted that by 2050 the crisis would be mediated through the development of renewable energy, but in the meantime mitigation would be needed to bridge the gap to sustainability. “Technology and price will not save us,” he warned. Lower highway speed limits, carpooling, four-day work weeks, telecommuting, and fuel rationing will all be needed.

New Zealand: Vision of a happy land far, far away

If I was that MP, my platform would be:

- Renewable electricity-powered rail transport there in the morning and back at night, free for all citizens of Tairawhiti. (visitors, large agricultural users and forestry would be required to pay).

- The region to adopt a silver standard for its own currency with silver coins for cash.

- The region to be able to control the immigration into the district (each prospective immigrant required to go before tribal council).

- All unemployed be allocated ground for the production and distribution of free food to all residents.

Oil price could reach $250 by next year, says AAA-rated manager

Citywire AAA-rated Nicolas Komilikis of Amiral Gestion believes it is incredibly unlikely that the oil price will go down and says $250 a barrel by next year is not beyond the realms of reason.

Contrary to the views of Dr Hendrik Leber of German boutique Acatis, who thinks there is a correction looming and that the oil price could fall to $50 in the next two years, and BlackRock CIO Bob Doll, Komilikis believes the oil price will remain high due to supply-side pressures and the strong depletion of oil reserves. 'We need to fill the decrease that is coming from depletion. This is why production hasn't increased since May 2005,' he says.

'Country by country it is difficult to see where the growth in production is going to come from,' he says.

Faber Says Crude Oil May Decline to $100 as Global Economic Growth Weakens

(Bloomberg) -- Marc Faber, who told investors to bail out of U.S. stocks before 1987's so-called Black Monday crash, said oil prices may fall to $100 a barrel as demand slows in a global economy at the ``tail end'' of its expansion.

Oil hedges turn toxic for weak balance sheets

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Companies with weak balance sheets are discovering that hedges against oil price moves can be almost as punishing as this summer's leap in crude costs.

Physical oil trader SemGroup LP told its lenders this week it may file for bankruptcy after margin calls on hedges designed to protect its 500,000 barrels per day business from a fall in oil prices gobbled up its cash reserves.

UAE to shut 150,000-200,000 bpd oil output Oct-Nov

DUBAI (Reuters) - OPEC-member the United Arab Emirates will reduce oil output by 150,000 to 200,000 barrels per day for 40 days in October and November for maintenance, an official at state oil company ADNOC said on Monday.

The scheduled shutdown will cut oil output from the world's fifth-largest oil exporter by up to 7.5 percent. The UAE pumped around 2.6 million bpd in June, a Reuters survey showed.

Tropical Storm Dolly heads for Gulf of Mexico - NHC

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Tropical Storm Dolly was over the northern Yucatan Peninsula early Monday and about to move into the Gulf of Mexico where it could become a hurricane on Tuesday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said in an early report.

Weather models projected the storm would march across the southwestern Gulf and strike the South Texas coast near the border with Mexico in about three days. Forecasters said interests in the western Gulf should monitor the progress of the storm.

Squandered oil wealth leaves Nigeria in dark age

LAGOS (Reuters) - With oil prices at record highs, government coffers in the world's eighth biggest oil exporter are swollen to unprecedented levels.

Yet the vast majority of Nigeria's 140 million people live in no better conditions than their neighbors in West Africa, the least developed region of the world's poorest continent.

TNK-BP oil chief barred from working in Russia

MOSCOW (AFP) - The head of oil giant BP's embattled Russian venture TNK-BP no longer has the right to work in Russia, a spokeswoman for the federal migration service told AFP on Monday.

Robert Dudley "only has a transit visa and therefore doesn't have the right to work" until he presents a valid contract that would allow him to be issued a proper work visa, said the spokeswoman.

Niger's Tuareg rebels demand share of uranium cash

RABAT (Reuters) - Niger's Tuareg-led rebel movement chief said his Niger Justice Movement (MNJ), whose desert fighters have waged a rebellion against Niamey government troops, wants up to 30 percent of uranium revenue to be allocated to the northern region populated mainly by Tuaregs.

"One of our demands is to set aside between 20 percent and 30 percent from the uranium earnings to benefit the population living in the north of Niger," Aghaly Ag Alambo told Al Jazeera television in an interview broadcast on Sunday.

Russia Putin orders full Czech oil supplies

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin asked the government on Monday to guarantee uninterrupted oil supplies to the Czech Republic, Russian news agencies reported.

Eni's Scaroni Says Nigeria Pipeline to Be Fixed `Within Days'

(Bloomberg) -- Eni SpA's pipeline in Nigeria's Bayelsa state, damaged by two explosions last week, will be fixed ``within days'', Chief Executive Officer Paolo Scaroni said today.

The pipeline was damaged in two points on July 16, Scaroni said speaking at a conference in Rome. The company suspended exports of 47,000 barrels a day from the site and Eni's portion of the affected output is 8,000 barrels daily, Eni said on its Web site on July 17. The pipeline feeds the Brass terminal, the country's main oil-export terminal.

The curse of oil on African nations

IN THE coming decades Africa's oilfields may begin to rival the strategic significance of the Middle East's reserves. As discoveries elsewhere steadily diminish, the global balance of oil wealth shifts towards Africa with every passing year.

Already, the US buys more oil from Angola and Nigeria than it does from Saudi Arabia.

Iran discovers oil field: minister

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran has discovered an oil field with in-place reserves of 525 million barrels, Oil Minister Gholamhossein Nozari was quoted as saying on Sunday.

The discovery was made near the southern port city of Assaluyeh, state broadcaster IRIB said, without giving further details.

"A few other oil fields have also been discovered about which the public will be informed in the coming weeks," Nozari said.

After fuel and power price rises, eyes on China gas

BEIJING (Reuters) - China may raise natural gas prices as soon as September in its latest effort to normalize cheap domestic energy rates, but it treads a fine line in trying to bolster long-term supply while damping short-term demand.

Ryanair chief pessimistic about future of airports and airlines

Ryanair’s chief believes that within a matter of years, all airlines except five of the largest ones, would either go out of business, due to insolvency, or would be swallowed up by a larger rival. O’Leary noted that Aer Lingus would also probably disappear, as it would either be merged into another company, or may simply go bankrupt. O’Learty is convinced that Ryanair will be among the ones to survive, as will British Airways, Air France-KLM, Lufthansa, as well as easyJet.

Ford to retool U.S. plants for European cars: report

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Car maker Ford Motor Co is drawing up plans to retool American plants to make small, fuel-efficient passenger cars that it mainly makes and sells in Europe, the Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday.

The paper said Ford has looked at bringing over European models, including the mid-size Mondeo, in response to high fuel costs that have hit sales of larger, fuel-hungry trucks and sport utility vehicles.

Fuel's surge a headache for home health providers

ALBANY, N.Y. - Stethoscope? Check. Bandages and medications? Check. Money for fuel? Uh-oh.

U.S. home health care workers, particularly those in rural areas, are suffering from financial headaches caused by the escalating cost of transportation, forcing some to borrow cash from co-workers in between paychecks and others to consider leaving the industry altogether.

You say crisis. I say opportunity

If retired Calgary geologist and Canadian Hunter Exploration co-founder Jim Gray is correct, and I believe he is, increasing oil production will be a lot harder than G8 leaders expect, making the much-trumpeted goal of lowering global emissions a little easier. Mr. Gray is a legend in the oil and gas exploration industry, a champion of charitable works to improve the human condition from Canada to Africa to Pakistan, and a thoughtful observer of world affairs. In a recent Washington speech, he explains why "global peak oil production" may not be far off...

Site makes strides to score walkable cities

"With the surge in gas prices, people are really considering the consequences of where they live," says Mike Mathieu, chairman and founder of Front Seat. "The idea with Walk Score is to take walkability, a thing that used to be subjective, and make it objective."

Investors eye coal-to-oil conversion biz in Ningxia

Against the backdrop of soaring international oil prices, the Ningdong Energy & Chemical Industrial Base in Northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region is attracting more and more interest from foreign investors with its ambition to develop the coal-to-oil conversion project.

Australia: BP economist backs Govt's emissions scheme

A leading global economist has endorsed the Federal Government's push for an emissions trading scheme saying it will work better than a carbon tax.

'100 months to save the planet'

According to the Green New Deal Group, humanity only has 100 months to prevent dangerous global warming.

Its proposals include major investment in renewable energy and the creation of thousands of new "green collar" jobs.

Wetlands could unleash "carbon bomb"

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The world's wetlands, threatened by development, dehydration and climate change, could release a planet-warming "carbon bomb" if they are destroyed, ecological scientists said on Sunday.

Wetlands contain 771 billion tons of greenhouse gases, one-fifth of all the carbon on Earth and about the same amount of carbon as is now in the atmosphere, the scientists said before an international conference linking wetlands and global warming.

Being that I occasionally talk about Peak Oil I (guess) that I sometimes also get taken seriously about the subject. Recently – for reasons I don’t quite understand – I was given the opportunity to see some “experimental” farm techniques that the creators thought would be an answer in a post-PO agricultural situation. I got to see controlled environments (hi-tech greenhouses) along with “just-in-time” watering, “precision” application of various agri-chemicals, computer-sensed pest alarms, etc.. Afterwards, I stopped by two small simple organic-type farms that I know the farmers of just to get a baseline feel for myself.

I didn't know what to say. I didn’t rain on anyone’s parade, even though I have my reservations about “just-in-time” philosophy; I would have never gotten beyond the euphoric enthusiasm. Besides, hi-tech may work for all I know.

I just say this to point out that people are realizing that there’s an energy issue that needs to be tackled. I also would like to point out that some see MOSTLY a high-tech answer while others think the old way is the way to go. Finally, I noticed that the organic soil was dark, while the hi-tech farm had something that resembled beach sand... it made me wonder if there are subtle nutritional differences in the plants.

My sum level of contribution last week to PO solutions: zero ... but I was entertained.

The difference, it seems to me, is between soil that is alive and soil that is essentially "dead." I want my food to come from living soil.

Have you hugged your pet Nematode today?

See the wikipedia entry on one subtle aspect of the relationship between living soil and plants:

Plants grown in sterile soils and growth media often perform poorly without the addition of spores or hyphae of mycorrhizal fungi to colonise the plant roots and aid in the uptake of soil mineral nutrients. The absence of mycorrhizal fungi can also slow plant growth in early succession or on degraded landscapes.


There is research that has indicated that organically produced crops do have a higher nutritional level compared to crops grown using production ag methods. What has not been done is to determine why.

It could be that the varieties selected are different. It is well know that certain good traits have been breed out of production ag-oriented crops to achieve other things such as ease of shipping/longer storage life.

It is known that many production ag soils lack trace minerals whereas organic growers are more likely to apply rock dusts to enhance trace minerals.

In other words, the answer is yes, they probably have a higher nutritional value...but the really answer is "maybe". In my case I went from certified organic grower to terra preta chemical grower after I stopped selling. I use 20-20-20 soluble fertilizer with trace minerals just like hydroponic growers. For example, our strawberries used to get what is called cat faces, i.e., deformed berries. The boron in the soluble corrected this problem.

There were a number of rationales: I'm getting old and getting materials and making compost is too much work for our sized growing area. I actually think fertigation produces better yields and is more energy efficient.


Todd, being a former hydroponics grower I’m a firm believer in soluble ferts. I presently use Peters commercial grade for most everything I grow. Wish I never gave away my stock of General Hydroponics ferts to a friend a few years back; being buffered, they sure would have come in handy now, especially for establishing newly planted trees.

IIRC there was a large scale test of organic vs conventional crops in the UK last year. The test was carried out on the same farm using the same plants, etc. The organically grown produce had significantly more vitamins and minerals than the conventionally grown ones I believe.

My own land was farmed conventionally prior to my purchase and the result was severely degraded soil. The areas I've laid to grass don't even have enough worms in it to take down the grass cuttings. The industrial fertilisers, herbicides, fungicides and pesticides are a disaster for the soil. Should conventional farming ever have to farm without, they will have enormous problems growing anything in their depleted soils and yields would go off a cliff.

That's the problem. To feed the world's population there is little choice but to continue with conventional farming, organic farming cannot do it. But, the day synthetic fertilisers become unavailable then neither conventional or organic farming will be possible due the badly degraded soils.

I suppose in a sensible world we would immediately move to a hybrid farming model using both methods and slowly over time remove conventional farming from the model. But I don't see that happening.

So, like the heroin junkie who must increase the dose size to get the same high until an overdose is administered, the same goes for IndustroAg, as ever increasing amounts of dose must be applied to get the same high/yield until the overdose kills the soil.

I believe there is a solution. End the petrochemical addiction and substitute the Agro-equivalent of methadone--high nutrient organic-based fertilizers that will allow the soil to recover its natural properties over time, end monocropping, and allow for fallow and/or practice fallow cropping. To use a Thacherism--There really is no alternative. We MUST take the time and expense to heal the soil because the alternative is certain destruction.

I suppose in a sensible world we would immediately move to a hybrid farming model

Synthetic for folar feeding and sugar applied to the soil to feed the soil fungi/bacteria.

Is there a useful definition that distinguishes 'Technology' from 'High Tech'?

Start at the Wheel, or Agriculture and run up the spectrum through NanoTech (or take your pick of what constitutes HiTech). What divides our tools and systems? Does it fall on a 'complexity' line which would help us understand which systems we might be able to continue using, teaching our children and redeveloping, and which are simply artifacts of a High-Energy Century?

I suppose there may be some threshhold where the processes and energy required to manufacture certain materials and tools depends upon a support system that goes beyond our basic requirements and can sustain a range of specialists and businesses necessary for them. But as with the Good Housekeeping promises of the Housewife's labor saving devices, much of Technology is aimed at making jobs easier or even possible.

What does it take to keep the Ball-bearing factory open, supplied with high-strength steel.. ( as one of the most useful tools for reducing the energy required to accomplish many a task?)

Like with 'Terrorism', we talk about Technology, but often have varying definitions and assumptions that go along with the word.

Instead of "high" tech and "low" tech, maybe we should consider "helpful" tech and "abusive" tech.

Of course, there would be disagreement about these categories, too

Many people equate "large scale" with undesireable "high tech", though there is no absolute relationship, for example what does an organic growers 50 acres of manure-fed vegetable plots look like to a villager in sub-saharan Africa, whose land holding might typically comprise a dozen separate plots of land totalling 1/2 acre. No doubt about the same as a corporate farming company's township-size fields to the organic grower

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder I guess. So far I believe it's all subjective, unless someone can come up with a credible scientific study to back up some of the claims of significant lack of nutrients in commonly-grown produce. My father fed our local town of 5,000 with all the fresh tomatoes they could eat from a 1/2 acre hydroponic greenhouse that was completely sterile. No-one ever died of it that I know of.

The evidence from the exponentially growing world population is that intensive farming works perfectly adequately ... unfortunately it is completely unsustainable, even at current levels.

You haven't any idea of the meaning of 'intensive farming' if you think the large commercial operations are more intensivly farmed than the 1/10th acre plots of the small landholders / leasers of many third-world countries, esp. those with population pressures.

Ignorant writes:

Finally, I noticed that the organic soil was dark, while the hi-tech farm had something that resembled beach sand... it made me wonder if there are subtle nutritional differences in the plants.

This sounds like hydroponics.

Finally, I noticed that the organic soil was dark, while the hi-tech farm had something that resembled beach sand..

That beach sand appearance is pretty much describing the soil that I started out with when I got my small acreage. My soil is classified as Ava Silt loam. High in minerals but deficient in organic matter and gets as hard as a rock during the dry months of summer. Great for grapes, fruit bushes and orchards, as there are vineyards and orchards all over my county and the adjacent ones, but growing vegetables is very difficult without bombing the soil with ferts. It’s amazing how much fertilizer the farmers around my county use to get a decent yield on their row crops. I figured that it would take about three years of adding and tilling in organic matter - hay cut from my pasturage, and manure from local sources - to improve the soil to any kind of acceptable condition. I’ll just keep on adding more every year. My soil in my garden Chicago had organic matter added for thirty years and gave stupendous yields; I always was giving away stuff to friends and neighbors. It will be awhile for me to reach that stage again even with the far bigger area.

sounds a lot like my soil here in north county San Diego. I grow grapes, plums, nectarines, apricots, and olives with great success. Veggies are a bit more work. I actually dug a trench and tried to make a special veggie patch, as an experiment. The irony was that the patch turned out to have tons of nitrogen and organic matter, but lacked the phosphorus/potassium that the native soil has. My radishes ended up big and leafy with pathetic little roots! Even more humorously frustrating was that the best growing veggie from that batch was an arugula whose seeds were accidentally dropped on the native soil and haven't been watered since the last rain! At this point I've decided that my best bet for making it through peak oil is bartering olive oil and booze made of my extra fruit.

That’s part of the learning process, figuring out what your soil is good for and taking advantage of it. It sometimes takes years and a few mistakes and lost money, effort, and time. This is why anyone expecting to suddenly get a plot and suddenly produce food is usually going to be sorely disappointed, unless they have a real good idea what their requirements are and find something that meets those requirements with th experience to capitalize on them. Booze will be a very good barter item, one of the reasons I planted a vineyard (60 vines) with a second one going in next year. In a couple of weeks I’ll be picking elderberries to make wine. Maybe I’ll get some moonshine from my neighbor and make some port style.

Do keep in mind that the process of concentrating alcohol is only legal with the proper taxing scheme.

See Whiskey Rebellion history for details.

this is very true. I don't currently produce alcohol, but i certainly plan to start in the event that gas prices force law enforcement to use more conventional forms of transportation =)

I plan to continue to drink it :)

yeah, it actually not my first try, i've a decently green thumb when it comes to this soil, even with veggies. Unfortunately, mentioning that makes the story a little less amusing to me =). This was more an experiment to see if i could get better yields. The biggest problem was that rabbits finally decided to move into my yard. I figure that raising rabbits will be a good source of protein/warm clothing for when i have to go all mad max.

Booze seems to be totally depression proof, so i think it is a good move. I currently only grow table grapes, but and currently maneuvering to get some wine grape cuttings. I also grow Potatoes, so vodka seems to be part of my boot legging future. I also have a nice advantage in that my great grand mother was a boot legger during the prohibition and depression eras. When she passed on recently, she left us her cook book with all her food/alcohol recipes.

As you may or may not know, the San Diego area was once the terminus delta of the Colorado River, thus the great volumes of sand. The quickest way to incorporate organic matter into such a soil type is to grow the legumus grasses, like clover, or other Green Manure plants like fava bean. I have similar issues here on the Oregon coast with our sand dune-based soils. Rabbit offal should be an excellent soil builder, too. Happy growing!

yeah, i grow a lot of sweet peas, which are nitrogen fixers (take nitrogen from the air instead of the ground). Unfortunately, these are not eatable due to a compound in them that causes lower body paralysis in large concentrations. I also dug a small garden pond, witch grows a lot of azolla. Azolla, some times called fairy moss, is a small floating aquatic plant that has a symbiotic relationship with a nitrogen fixing cyanobacteria, and thus is used heavily for green manure across the world. The pond also cuts down the amount of watering necessary to keep the garden up, and this month our water bill was about $20, which is pretty crazy for such a dry area. The pond also serves as a home for my pet turtle =). Our soil is actually largely clay, which isn't so bad as long as you turn/amend it around the wet season.

As to the colorado, i have heard this, i think from one of those "what if we all died" shows on an educational channel. I'm not sure if this really applies to me though, because I live about 20 miles north of the city of san diego (san diego county is about the size of isreal). I certainly hope this does apply to me, seeing as there is a fire currently burning very near my house (or as I like to call it "san diego snow and the mid-day twilight" were the snow is ash and the twilight is from the smoke), though the smoke is mainly white at this point (white smoke = steam). Watching the planes/helicopters made me realize that the thing that will really drive people out of the SD suburbs after peak oil will be our inability to put out fires east of the I-5 due to lack of access to water.

Fortunately, the pea problem you describe, lathyrism, can be mitigated by boiling, steaming, or fermenting the peas. Thanks for the tip about azolla. Although the fuel expense is now high, a trip to the Anza-Borrego Desert on a cool late-Fall day provides an opportunity to see some fascinating geology, especially a hike down one of the slot canyons carved in the thick sand strata of the former delta. If your soil is clay-based, it was also likely deposited from the same delta. Have you considered constructing rain barrels and attaching them to your roof gutters's downspouts to augment your water supply? As for fires, a house of stone, brick or adobe construction is best, and when combined with straw-bale insulation can provide an almost constant temperature in your climate. I also pressume you get a lot of fog; have you considered evaporation condensers to harvest its moisture content?

good to know about the peas. I agree about the desert, i have collected geodes out there from time to time. We use trash cans to collect water from the gutters during winter and use it in the garden. I have long considered collecting fog Dune style, but i decided that i'd hold off until it became more necessary. I'm in a small pocket that seems to dodge a lot of the summer "June Gloom", which is great for my sun tan, but makes this method not as viable in the season that it counts. I figure that if it really comes down to it, i'll ride my bike to the beach, fill some containers with water, and let evaporation take care of desalinating it. Should yield some salt for flavor and use as a preservative.

The unfortunate thing about San Diego is that we have fires and earthquakes. The building practices that work well for one disaster tend to be bad for the other. The straw is actually really good for fires, as it takes it a long time to burn. The fortunate thing is that the temperature isn't much of a concern to me. I don't have an AC and the winters here can be dealt with by putting on a coat or using a heavier blanket. I was thinking about using rabbit hide for warmth, but mainly because i'm pissed off at the rabbits that come in my yard.

"Physical oil trader SemGroup LP told its lenders this week it may file for bankruptcy after margin calls on hedges designed to protect its 500,000 barrels per day business from a fall in oil prices gobbled up its cash reserves."

Different side of the same coin here:

"The big question many agricultural analysts are asking is how much debt elevators can incur before a liquidity crisis occurs and banks start tightening. Swanson estimates that U.S. financial institutions already have provided at least $10 billion to grain elevators, just to fund margin calls for futures contracts. Some elevators have been forced to turn to three or more lenders just to meet their debt obligations."

Jul 20, 2008 (Star Tribune - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Scott Dubbelde has told himself, time and again, that there is no use fretting about things over which he has no control.

Even so, the general manager of a grain elevator cooperative in Hanley Falls, Minn., lies awake at night, worrying about the ballooning debt his elevator has incurred to finance its inventory.

"I'd be lying to you if I said I wasn't worried," Dubbelde said. "This is about our survival."


The markets aren't paying for storage. They're paying to get
the commodity to market ASAP.

Another Star Tribune (Minneapolis) story on the food/commodity situation quotes a Cargill executive:

"I think the thing that's sometimes not well carried in the media is that in the last two years it's taken about $17 billion more in the balance sheet to run the company. If you own a country elevator and you previously filled it up with $3 corn and $4 wheat and now you're filling it up with $10 wheat and $7 corn, a single elevator can cost $10 million or $12 million more capital just to fill. So while your earnings go up, our cash flows have gone down dramatically. We have hundreds of elevators and if it costs $10 million more to fill up every one of those, you can quickly do the math and see that the strain on the lending system to agriculture has been enormous, because all of these crops are harvested in a very short period and consumption takes place over 365 days and somebody has to finance all of that."


Speculation on commodities: not for the faint of heart.

Our local elevator in Freeport, Michigan is closing down...partly due to ill health, though I am sure this has something to do with it also.

Two rules that these elevators have broken:

1-Never meet a margin call.

2-Sell to your sleep level.

Freeport MI just did 2.

Thomas Friedman's commentary in yesterday's NYT was about energy and Shrub's response to the present high prices of fuel. I especially liked his mention of the quote from economist Paul Romer "a crisis is a terrible thing to waste". A link up top might be in order.

9/11 and 4/11

E. Swanson

It was posted up top in yesterday's DrumBeat.

what i would like to know is how congress intends to append a "put up or shut up" provision in existing oil and gas leases.
who do they think they are, hugo chavez ?

the 10 yr primary term(onshore) is close enough to put up or shut up, imo.

maybe congress should take a look at leasing policy. these policies have been worked out over a long period of time, good luck in making any improvements in this current political season.


When the leases come up for renewel, raise the rates.

In the Fayetteville Shale area, they went for $175 an acre
3.5 years ago.

duration five years.

Latest quote on leases in the area is now $800 per acre.*

*Prices may vary. ;}

"When the leases come up for renewel, raise the rates"

these leases are bid on competitively.

"When the leases come up for renewel, raise the rates"

these leases are bid on competitively."

And the entire geopolitical world lies in between these two statements.

Apparantly, the politics of "put up or shut up" escape you. The hew-and-cry from all and sundry is More Supply!! because such is to provide lower fuel prices. Formerly Big now Little Oil and its API ally cry: We Must Have More Places To Drill To Provide the Additional Supply and Thus Lower Prices. The retort is: You Already Have Plenty of Places to Drill--Get Busy!!! Not having completely lost its commonsense, the Public cries: Yes, Damn It, Get Busy!!!! Which brings us to my conclusion of yesterday: Little Oil must Get Busy!!! or provide a reason why it won't. Such has absolutely NOTHING to do with Hugo Chavez; it has EVERTHING to do with pragmatic US Politics--even in a presidential election year.

Little Oil could provide a range of answers starting with: There are very few if any rigs and the same goes for personel, which is quite close to the truth; but that negates its plea for more areas to drill--why get more areas to drill when you cannot even begin on those areas you already have?

The Public has been and can be fooled about a great many things. But the fundamental issue here deals with pragmatic commonsense, something very difficult to fool the Public about. Which is why it's Put up or Shut up time for Little Oil.

If I were little oil (or anysize oil for that matter), I'd want as much acreage opened up as possible. Then I would pick and choose carefully to find the few best prospects to drill. So if I got more acreage, I wouldn't drill any more wells, but if I was able to choose carefully, the wells that I drilled would be more likely to hit producable oil. So, yes, even if I can't drill all my current prospects for many years, having more areas available ought to help me produce more.

The real problem with drill, drill, drill, is that it allows the impression that enough will be available. BAU party on dude. If coupled with appropriate conservation measures, and public education it doesn't have to work out that way. My fear, is that if we (mostly liberals) stonewall too long, the drill, drill, drill crowd will get their way, and we won't have enough clout left to demand conservation as the price for our aquiesence.

I've anticipated the "efficiency" argument/rationale from Little Oil and actually accept it; however, Little Oil MUST articulate it. I would like to see/hear an argument that goes like this:

Given the fact that rigs and personel are in very short supply, and the grave need to increase overall oil flow rates to mitigate the rate of decline and thus ease the rate of oil price rise, we must choose locations most likely to provide the greatest flow rates and thus return on investment. Once oil flows from the best prospects, then we can concentrate on the many smaller, less endowed and more expensive to produce areas.

Drumheads like us already know it will take 8-10 years for such flows to reach the market, provided the planet hasn't already been blown-up. The reason I want to see open articulation by Little Oil should be obvious--It's an admission of Peak Oil and acknowledges the severity of the overall situation because the logistical above ground reasons that are the basic factors beside geology currently constraining supply, while giving the lie to US Imperalist's cries that it's Resource Nationalism that must be fought as a part of the War of Terror in order to secure "our" energy security so it won't fall into the hands of "extremists." Of course, as the War of Terror amply proves, the actual extremists are the GOP/DLC Imperialist planners running the US Empire. As a Radical Green Libertarian (the closest understandible description of my politics), I will gladly trade the rollback of the US Empire for open-ended drilling of the OCS and ANWR because the former is exponentially by several factors more destructive than the latter two combined. And as the economic pain increases, the US public will demand drilling there anyway; so my proposal is actually pragmatic.

"Apparantly, the politics of "put up or shut up" escape you"

you can make that claim.

but apparently, the mechanics of federal oil and gas leasing(onshore) escapes you. the "put up or shut up" is contained in the primary term (10yrs).

given that the leases are already in force, the "put up or shut up" politics amounts to the politics of hugo chavez. we dont have that yet in this country.


It is really easy. Before the companies who want to take leases on any new acreage can lease them, Congress should require that they amend the terms of the leases they already have to conform with reasonable terms. As to the lease bonuses, well, that is water under the bridge. As to royalties, that can be solved, and the same with respect to the drilling clauses. As to any new leases, they should have benchmarks for the lessees to meet, and if they are just building an inventory, the leases are terminated. If the lessees want to drill them, the "just do it."

Of course, Bush/Cheney will just veto, but if they were leased under the terms the big players want, it would be well past crisis time before the leases would get drilled. Otherwise, expect that they will be drilling at the end of the leases, both the ones they have now and any new ones. Five year leases are good enough, two years to evaluate, two years to drill and one year to get into production. It is not like we are totally outside observers. The minerals are owned by the Government, that one by the people and for the people, so it is not like we shouldn't speak up. It is just that we have to have someone who will listen.

Or, the U.S. could do something like that enlightened nation, Iraq, and contract out the exploration and development of the leases to private companies. Don't we the people already own the oil (if there's any to be found) below the leases? Why sell leases so private companies can harvest the oil and then sell it back to us? Don't we run our military procurement thru "contracts" for development and production, then own the resulting hardware, such as tanks and aircraft? If that's OK for the military, lets do the same for that other strategic material, oil.

E. Swanson

Tom Whipple in this Week's Peak Oil Review mentions something I wasn't aware of. I think we have all heard about the ongoing harassment of BP by Russia, in an attempt to get BP out of the BP-TNK partnership. Tom observes:

When the BP-TNK partnership was set up in 2003, it was seen as an important partnership of Russian capitalism and international oil. As oil prices soared, however, Moscow came to appreciate that foreign oil companies were making large profits in comparison to their investments by producing and selling Russian oil. . . .

The 50-50 joint venture, which produces 1.4 million b/d, is very important to BP as it constitutes a fifth of its reserves and a quarter of its production.

"Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky is a former Communist Youth Leader leader turned Russian billionaire purported to have ties to the Russian mafia. A 1986 graduate of Moscow's Mendeleev Institute of Chemical Technologies, Khodorkovsky also studied at the Plekhanov Institute of National Economy — Russia's top economic management school — and the Institute of Law. In 1995, his Menatep Bank took over Yukos Oil when the government auctioned it off. He was made Chairman of the Executive Board and CEO of YUKOS Oil Company in 1996, and succeeded in making YUKOS Russia's second-largest oil producer. On October 25, 2003, Khodorkovsky was arrested on charges of forgery, fraud and tax evasion, and he has reportedly trafficked in women, laundered money and defrauded minority investors. Born in 1963, Forbes magazine has listed Khodorskovsky the wealthiest man in Russia, and the 10th wealthiest man in the world."

IN the space of a few weeks in October, Vladimir Putin's Russia sent decisive signals to its population, to its neighbors, and to the world that the country is doing business in a new way. The contours of Putin's "October revolution" signal the ascendancy of the siloviki, the "power boys" from the security services and military who now dominate Russia's state elite.

At home, Putin's October revolution was signaled with the arrest of the country's richest man, oil magnate Mikhail Khodorkovsky, on charges of fraud and tax evasion.

The arrest rocked domestic stock indices, which fell by 15 percent. Earlier in October, Russian authorities had raided an office of political consultants hired by the Yabloko party, one of several liberal groupings supported by Khodorkovsky. Just weeks before parliamentary elections, the raid was an ominous shot across the bow of parties in opposition to Putin. The Russian authorities followed up on Khodorkovsky's arrest by freezing 44 percent of the assets he and his associates controlled in the giant Yukos energy firm--raising fears about further state interference in the private sector..."


TNK-BP was slightly more nimble (Aug 03)- than Yukos Exxon.

But still the hammer is coming down:

MOSCOW (Thomson Financial) - OAO Gazprom chief executive Alexei Miller said his company expects to close a deal to acquire the Kovytka gas field from TNK-BP in the near future, Interfax reported.


The WSJ talks about the trend toward much worse deals for oil companies.

In Oil Sees End of Sweet Deals, WSJ says:

Total, StatoilHydro Accept Tough Terms For Shtokman Field

Last year, Russia's natural-gas giant OAO Gazprom finally chose two Western energy firms -- Total SA of France and Norway's StatoilHydro ASA -- to help it develop Shtokman, after years of negotiations. But the terms are unusual for the oil industry, and unfavorable for Gazprom's partners. The consortium developing the field -- early estimates of costs top $20 billion -- won't own the gas in the ground and will have to sell all that is produced to Gazprom. . .

Some analysts wonder what exactly Total and StatoilHydro will get out of their involvement in Shtokman if they can't own and freely sell its gas.

We might as well be going to Mars when developing

"No Russian region is better endowed than the eastern Barents Sea, whose crown jewel is Gazprom’s Shtokmanovskoye field. In western Europe it is known simply as “Shtokman”."

What Total, StatoilHydro will get is the expertise to
do anything anywhere in any ocean.

Because that's what it's going to take.

Shtokman is thought to contain up to 3 trillion cubic metres of sweet gas and 33 million tonnes of condensate, making it more than double the size of Norway’s own largest gas deposit, called Troll. Unfortunately, the field will be harder to develop than Troll was. Obstacles include the cold, wintertime darkness, wave heights of up to 25 metres and occasional drift ice. But the biggest drawback – quite aside from the tens of billions of dollars in investment capital that will be required – is Shtokman’s location. It is 600 kilometres northeast of Murmansk. That puts it well out of normal helicopter range.

Possible production configurations range from subsea wellheads with multiphase pipelines and a land-based processing and liquefaction plant (similar in concept to Snøhvit, though requiring a leap in multiphase booster technology) to a massive, gravity-base platform made of concrete. Such a platform would resemble the type that Norwegian contractors perfected decades ago in the North Sea, and which they modified in recent years to withstand icebergs in Petro-Canada’s Hibernia field off Newfoundland."


They haven't even developed the tech that's going to be needed.

Good grief. I wouldn't take any amount of money to travel there in anything smaller than an aircraft carrier. How can you even dock a ship in 25 meter waves?

I guess we're lucky that there are people willing to do this. Hope they're getting paid a *lot*...

Since May, 2005

I've thought for a long time that the best way to measure the shortfall in crude oil production since May, 2005 is as the difference between what we would have produced at the 5/05 rate and what we actually produced, which is somewhere north of 700 mb last time I ran the numbers. Based on EIA data, we narrowed the shortfall slightly in February and March of this year. It remains to be seen if the 2008 annual data will continue the slow decline in annual crude oil production that started in 2006 (I anticipate that it will).

In any case, rounding off, February and March were about 200,000 bpd and 100,000 bpd over the 5/05 rate, which in truth is probably well within the margin of error and subject to ongoing revisions, but in any case for the sake of argument, it appears that the world was probably spending about 4.4 billion dollars more per day for oil in early 2008 over what we paid in 5/05 (assuming an average differential of about $60 per barrel). Or, the incremental increase in cost versus the incremental increase in production in February and March was probably about $30,000 per bpd.

That's very interesting WT. In the oil field acquisition biz where I’ve been active a quick look method of evaluating an acquisition is to calculate the price paid for bbl of production per day. Five years ago many deals sold for $15,000 - $18,000 per bbl/day. In the last year it's been shocking to see this back of the napkin evaluation yield acquisition prices of $60,000 to $80,000 per bbl/day. Though it was difficult to see these selling prices as reasonable your $30,000 per bbl/day makes those investments seem almost sane.

A friend of mine told me about a recent trade where one of his partners bought some production, that was about 95% developed, with about a 5% decline rate, for in excess of $100,000 per bpd of production. BTW, the last tar sands numbers I saw show that it is costing north of $100,000 per bpd of new production, in capital costs, not counting operating costs.

WT,I guess I'll just stay in operations. I think my career in A&D is washed up. At $100,000 pbpd the geologic risk are so outweighed by the pricing risk I doubt many would care to even hear my evaluation. I actually started loosing buyer clients 2 or 3 years ago because I wasn't being optimistic enough (read: unwilling to lie to the capital sources). Now I focus on pore pressure analysis and avoid the BS completely. LIFE IS GOOD.

Pore Geologists.

Always been Eaton Away.

One day perhaps someone will make the connection and have a gas.

Before fading,

To background.

WT or anyone else,

Does there exist good data on OPEX per bbl for the tar sands?

It is worth noting that Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, in 2005, took about 300,000 barrels per day out of production when averaged out over the entire year. (It was well over one 1,000,000 barrels per day in August and almost that much in September.) Dennis, also in 2005, also took a much smaller amount off line. Were it not for those weather events no other year would even be in the running for peak year.

Ron Patterson

Hey WT,

Maybe you can unravel this stuff.

I think that Matthew Simmons and Kenneth Deffeyes are correct with the peak crude oil at May 2005. The EIA includes Canadian tar sands in crude oil, and it is NOT crude oil, as it cannot be pumped out of the ground. And I guess that oil sands has increased in production since May 2005.



"A mixture of hydrocarbons that exists in liquid phase in natural underground reservoirs and remains liquid at atmospheric pressure after passing through surface separating facilities. Depending upon the characteristics of the crude stream, it MAY ALSO INCLUDE:

(skipping 1 and 2) 3. Drip gases, and liquid hydrocarbons produced from tar sands, oil sands, gilsonite, and oil shale."

I think this is why Simmons is sticking with May 2005.

Then look at Rembrandt:


who shows that crude oil was higher in 2008 than in May 2005 and note Rembrandt does not include tar sands in his definition (page 1) of crude oil.

Can he separate tar sands out of crude as he apparently has done, or is this a mistake on his part. I know you can't answer for him.

But can you clear this up. What is your analysis of May 2005 as the peak for crude.

The EIA does show two months in 2008 slightly higher than 5/05 (C+C, inclusive of tar sands), but as I said up the thread, I think that the best way to look at the monthly data is as a cumulative shortfall--between what we would have produced at the 5/05 rate and what we actually produced.

For the peak, average annual data are probably best, because that is the best indicator as to how well the world economy was supplied in a given year. For example, if a country produced 1.5 mbpd in January, and 1.0 mbpd for the rest of the year, what's the best indicator of the country's production? A monthly peak of 1.5 mbpd or the average annual production of 1.04 mbpd?

I see what you say about looking at annual production for the peak.

Question: if we take tar sands out of C+C, is May 2005 the highest month on record (me thinks this is why Simmons sticks with May 2005 in his talks/interviews). Clearly, tar sand are not crude oil.

BTW, the way I read the data are that we have been basically on a plateau of crude and liquids since early 2005, and that that really tells the story of a peak (because all producers are pirates [4th Law of Thermodynamics :)]and they are pumping like mad). This of course is the reason for the increase in oil prices..... and when production begins to decline (looks like right now, yikes!) oil prices will skyrocket like nothing before.

Simmons sounds very pessimistic these days:


and this must be because he sees "untoward" things happening out in field regarding: rigs, platforms, investments, bankruptcies, infrastructure, personnel, etc.

Maybe Theoildrum.com can ask Simmons for an interview on this topic. This is far too complicated for the media and general public. And maybe you have some comments too, and/or you could do the interview. Or maybe a joint effort with Theoildrum and ASPO, and if not now, in September.


Cliff Wirth

Wasn't the reason feb 2008 managed to top may 2005 that Mexico and North Sea managed to halt their declines? That's not sustainable of course. NS has a 7,5% decline rate and Mexico is in free-fall. We need at least 77 mbpd of crude at 90 mbpd liquids demand which could happen as early as next year. So we've been on the 74 mbpd plateau now for 3 years, where is the extra 3 mbpd going to come from in 2009?


My mom's birthday is coming up, and I was thinking of getting her a book or two on vegetable growing. She is an avid gardener, but just plants + flowers. I thought that growing veggies would feed into her hobby (also her career) while helping my folks become peak-prepared. My dad has insulated the attic, and updated the windows, and my mom wants to do something so I thought food garden.

Do people have particular book recommendations? Amazon shows Square Foot Gardening and Vegetable Gardner's Bible to be highly rated.


I really recommend Steve Solomon's Gardening when it counts: growing food in hard times
New Society Publishers ISBN 0-86571-553-x
He steps on a number of toes that I think he's right to. I've been a veggie gardener for a number of years: heirloom varieties and seed-saving and i find his book the best out there currently. He points out repeatedly that if you take a crop off, you have to replace those nutrients. Mr. Totoneila's quite right about the importance of fertilizer. Solomon stresses that if you want a decent yield, you have to fertilize somehow. Spreading cubic meters of manure by wheelbarrow is hard work, but you have to do something like it. The book is organic but not shall we say dogmatic and points out a number of areas where the "organic movement" is a little overboard.

The book is organic but not shall we say dogmatic and points out a number of areas where the "organic movement" is a little overboard.

This has been a long time coming. Organics shoots itself in its foot through its extraordinary claims. It's unfortunate. See Skeptics Dictionary for a particularly painful evisceration of the organics movement.

It's either oil, soil, or toil. That's the way I look at it. As "oil" goes bye-bye, we'll have to build more soil with more toil.

It is interesting that many people believe that soil building farming techniques do not exist, or even more incredibly that we can't raise enough food without fossil fuel or constant additions of manufactured nutrients.

Now, think about this. Where did the natural world come from if soil building is not possible without artificial amendments?

Organic farming, and in particular permaculture, do in fact, offer soil-building farming techniques. Of course, some commercial "organic" farmers take advantage of lax federal rules that govern what may or may not be called "organic" and thus seem to indicate non-sustainable systems, but that is only the case where corporate interests willfully shortcut the process in order to rack up short-term monetary gains at the expense of the long-term health of the farms.

Remember, China currently cultivates fields that have been in continuous production for the past 4000 years, while we are destroying land at unprecedented rates in an eye blink,using the oxymoronic "green revolution" techniques developed with fossil fuels. One should also consider that New York City, prior to significant oil usage and at a population of one million, fed itself on the produce created largely from fields within seven miles of the city's borders (the energy cost of feeding horses to transport food proved too costly much beyond that limit).

And, finally, in a country where we spend billions on gyms where we hop onto machines that cost thousands of dollars and millions of calories of energy to create, some have the bizarre notion that working in a field is somehow more distasteful than burning up calories towards no good end while watching Oprah on one of the dozens of television sets you see at "health clubs" hanging from the ceiling. Talk about pathetic irony.

We are a sick people, in mind and body. Why not work towards something that could cure that?

Nicely said! I'm all for soil building and have been doing it for years.

Unfortunately, "organics" brings to mind all the wrong things: like food blessed by inspectors that is somehow mystically 'better' than commercially produced foods.

Organic is not food "blessed by inspectors", it's food certified by a process so that sleazy agribiz doesn't co-opt the concept as they've been desperately trying to do for years.

Organic food is not "somehow mystically better", it is objectively more nutritious, better for the environment, and more sustainable than "commercially produced foods", though organics are certainly commercially produced.

You seem to have some issues around this subject.

Wrong, my friend. I work at an organic farm, and I have an organic garden.

But I refuse to go for "certification" because it is largely a scam.

Sleazy agribiz has already coopted the "organics" label, by the way.

Please, please read the link at the skeptics dictionary.

If the organics movement doesn't straighten up its act, it's friggin doomed.

The article mentioned GMO food is "rigorously tested." Do you know if this is true (it doesn't match with the information I've "heard" so I can't say I really know). My understanding was it was rushed into the marketplace.

The article mentioned GMO food is "rigorously tested." Do you know if this is true

There seems to be 'testing' that is then ignored.


Does the "cure" involve several billions of people starving to death because you refuse to allow them to use inorganic fertilizers and cross-bred (less scientifically genetically modified) crops for food?

Inquiring minds want full disclosure.

Sorry, but any resource that cites John Stossel should be considered highly dubious. (A generalization borne out through a cursory examination of the pesticides issue, the most prominent "debunking" on the site.)

Would love to hear more.

Bob of Skeptics Dictionary is no slouch. Muck around there awhile. You'll learn a lot.

He's not an easy target to refute. (See my comments under his "reader comments" section of the organics entry.)

I'll second Gardening when it counts, a very honest and science based book. There is not a lot of fluff, but that is what makes it a good book. Some people may be turned off by the book because it does not offer easy answers like the square foot book. Be warned, the author is very willing to say what he believes is right, even if it offends.

I have had complete success with square foot gardening. It's a great investment and the easiest gardening ever. It's not necessarily the most sustainable approach but boy does it make harvest and weeding easy. I highly recommend it and the current investment in peat moss and vermiculite is as good an investment as a big bag of NPK. Once the garden is setup you just add some compost each year to keep nutrients in soil. Here's some pictures of my square foot garden.

Square Foot Garden 2007

Note the monster banana squash. I experimented and they "kept" for 8-10 months! Amazing survival veggie!

Nice. Nothing like a man with a big banana squash. ;-)

But how do you cook one of those things? And wouldn't a survival veggie need more calories than squash generally has?

1) Dig hole in ground.

2) Make fire in hole and wait till fire turns to glowing coals.

3) Wrap giant squash in large green squash leaves about about 2 inches thick and throw squash onto coals, cover with dirt

4) Cook large rib eye steak on grill for 8 1/2 minutes

5) Eat steak with beverage of choice

dunno why you were modded down for that. This works, the one thing that i'd add to it is put a bunch of rocks in with the fire, they hold the heat really well after you cover everything with dirt.

And leave the squash where it belongs and eat some proper food - frozen potato Smileys. Hmmm....

I'm all for this home gardening thing but ( being very well off ) I can't help wondering that if it got to the point where I can't afford vegetables and a few potatoes then social cohesion might have gone all to hell anyway and hungry dudes will be swarming over my fence faster than I can drop 'em with my crossbow.

Then might I suggest ditching the cross bow & fielding a good semi automatic like the M1A Scout Squad rifle & perhaps a 9mm in one holster & a Glock 17 in the other.

Yes I'm a doomer.

They ran out of assault rifles at my local Waitrose. I live in Berkshire, not Baghdad.

4) Cook large rib eye steak on grill for 8 1/2 minutes

The devil is in the details. "Survival", my patootie

I used a very similar recipe last night with some locally grown cabbage I bought at the farmer's market. Maybe I should try a different recipe today.

I'm glad you liked my squash. I'm blushing... ;-)

Cooking these beasts took some experimentation. They are loaded with moisture. My best results were cutting in half and baking in oven. Then mashing up with butter, brown sugar, and some cardamom or cinnamon. Makes a good pie filling too. I've also made a smokey squash soup that was delicious (add some bacon, Sherry, and chicken broth - then run through blender). Be sure to roast and eat the seeds too, much like pumpkin seeds.

I don't think there is much calories in them, but it I really liked how they kept without any real work; not even root cellaring. Now I am in arid Colorado, so your mileage may vary. To me, low energy storage and some vegetable fiber, flavor and vitamins make them a good "keeper" food. If nutritionally it is like other hard winter squashes, it should be a good source of vitamin A & C. Always nice to supplement a late winter diet usually lacking in these vitamins. Plus the Pink Banana squash is a native American heirloom squash that has been ultra-hardy for me. Plant it & forget it as long as it can get water and you don't mind it taking over your whole yard. However the trellising really works to keep them compact, even with these brutes.

Odysseus...If you like stir fry you might like this recipe. A wok over a hot gas flame works best. Ingredients: Squash cut into 1/8 in strips X about an inch in diameter or square, Vidalia or other sweet onions, a few cloves of fresh garlic cloves minced, about a teaspoon of brown sugar, about 3-4 slices of bacon fried crunchy and broken up with fingers. After frying bacon in wok set aside and pour out most of grease. Put squash and onions into very hot wok and cook to preferred taste (I like it a little crunchy). Add bacon. Add garlic but do not let it burn. Serve with good cheap red wine from Peru or whatever.

Leftovers keep well in tightly sealed container in fridge and can be reheated in microwave.

When I am making this dish I check the fridge for other veggies to add. A zuchinni, some snow peas, bamboo shoots, whatever. I doubt I have ever used the same ingredients twice and have never had a complaint...yet. Sometimes I carmalize the sugar prior to frying the veggies for a slightly different taste...this way the veggies will be a little chrunchier on the outside but done through.

Hi River,

That stir fry sounds great. I use the classic bacon + onion + almost any veggie a lot. Your method above works great with greens & other veggies too: collard greens, spinach, kale, green beans, etc. I do it all.

My grandmother was old-school and almost all her cooking started with a black cast-iron skillet and bacon. Another trick I learned from my mom is save all the bacon grease. She used to use a coffee can and kept it unrefrigerated. I put mine in the fridge now. It's a fast way to get bacon flavor and some oil to start a dish cooking. My sinful favorite is my mom's fried chicken - all fried in bacon grease. Divine, but probably not heart healthy ;-) These old-school ideas seem over the top today but will be practical when we have more limited food selection. "Recycle, reuse, and reduce waste" applies to food too!

Odysseus, yeah my grandmother and mother were both raised on a farm and used bacon grease for flavor in lots of dishes. Both of them lived to ripe old ages and I believe it was because they worked hard and were not obese or even a little overweight. Imo if one works hard and uses up a lot of calories one is less likely to have weight problems, heart problems, etc. At least, that has been my experience.

Collards mixed with mustard greens are my favorite but I like all greens.

I have a recipe that I make often because we get fresh shrimp here and everyone seems to like it. I will not go into another long recipe but will tell you that it is shrimp sauteed in olive oil, fettucinne, wilted fresh spinach, garlic and alfredo sauce. You know how to cook so will know how to do it. Avoid overcooking the shrimp or they will get rubbery and tasteless. Start with lots of spinach cause it wilts down to a little. People seem impressed with it but it's easy. Home made Alfredo takes a little time but can be done ahead or if you are in a hurry serve it with a good quality alfredo in a jar. Unless your guests are used to eating high quality Italian food they will not know the difference. No one in this area is used to high quality Italian food cause there is not a single good Italian restaurant within 75 miles of here. Hey, there are only a couple of good restaurants of any sort...but lots of tourist food served around here.

OMG I wish I was close to the ocean and had local shrimp! I'm a landlocked sailor here in Colorado. If we were a bit closer I'd barter some fresh elk for some of those shrimp. ;-)

Your cooking sounds great. Like Alan down in NO knows, good cooking and good company are the bedrock of how to survive this mess is style and relative comfort.

Odysseus, I am originally from Louisiana and half my family are French decent. I love good cajun food and have relatives all over La and S Miss. If you get down to NO check out the Acme Oyster House for some great oysters on the half shell and ice cold brew. La oysters are smaller and tastier than the Appalachicola oysters we get here in Fl.

While in Newfoundland my dad shot a moose and that was the best big game I have eaten. Chili made with moose meat is primo...and mooseburgers...and moose steaks smothered in mushrooms and onions. Moose rump (or beef) sliced about 1/2 in thick, pounded till tender, rolled in flower, fry till flower just browns in deep pot with a little oil of choice, add some beef or moose stock, add sweet onions, shiitakes, garlic, and slowly add a bit of flower throughout cooking to make a thick roux or gravy, serve over rice with some of your squash on the side...easy and tastes great. I hunted a lot when younger and took a lot of white tail in La, Md and Va and some mule deer in Wyoming. I also shot a couple of prong horns up there but never had an Elk permit. I don't hunt anymore but still fish.

I like to take the ordinary dish and make it special by adding a little tlc. Shiitake mushrooms are one of my favorite flavorings...those little jewels move a lot of oridanary dishes up another level. Alan is right, people will always find a good cook.

I believe that my approach to cooking is cajun. The cajuns have a saying...If we can catch it we will eat it. They not only eat it but they make it taste fine. Make a roux...

Ah yes... my wife used to live in New Orleans and I have been there a few times where we simply revel in the food. I have not been back after Katrina yet. Cajun cooking is the best seafood around in my opinion. There ain't no finer sandwich than an oyster po-boy!

We have a Pappadeux restaurant here now, which is as close to the real thing as I can get locally. One of my home cooked favorites is plain dirty rice but the best meat for it in my experience is ground bear. It has that liver-like taste that reminds me of a good boudin. Mmmm... I haven't got one of those critters in a while, so we make do with venison and elk. Elk is mighty tasty - close to moose I have been told. My meat gathering routine of late is to hunt in late winter season when farmers on Colorado's western slope need help thinning herds on their private land. It's no cake walk but I have refined my skills over the years to be doing OK. For these special hunts I get a coupon permitting me to buy a second license. The past 2 years I have harvested a big fat cow elk (a LOT of meat) and a small calf (still a lot of meat) which I have to confess is almost like veal. It's the best. You can cut the steaks with a fork. I often blacken them quickly (with good cajun rub) then take them off to rest about 5 minutes. Put back on the fire for one minute or so per side for the perfect medium rare.

My family's favorite elk recipe though is to encrust a thick steak with cracked pepper and thyme. Sear it for a couple of minutes on both sides then finish in the oven for the perfect medium-rare. In the searing skillet deglaze with some bourbon (make sure it is a good bourbon by pouring yourself a glass), then add beef broth, dried cherries and some beurre manie (sort of a backwards roux). The sauce plus the steaks are to die for.

I do miss the shrimp though. I used to live in Texas where I met my wife and those big Gulf shrimp fresh off the boat... ahh. If I find good shrimp now I even save the shells and make a big pot of shrimp bisque. But real saltwater shrimp are hard to find anymore. All of the shrimp seems to be freshwater from Indonesia or China and I have heard horror stories of what those are fed!

Anyway, thanks for the replies River. If you're ever in the Denver area I'll cook you up a dinner!

Well it's 9 more days to mini Lobster season my scuba gear has been overhauled and my kayak is ready too. I live less than three miles from the nearest coral reef, that's including the drive and the paddling. Going out this coming Saturday with the GPS to get some coordinates... Stopping at the farmers market for fresh vegetables and then the obligatory stop at the wine section of my local supermarket. Well I guess I could barter a few lobster tails for a few pounds of Elk. ;-) Is there a railroad from Colorado to Hollywood Florida with refrigerated cars?


Best laugh of the day!

I really like the no-dig gardening books.

How to Have a Green Thumb Without An Aching Back, by Ruth Stout.

The One-Straw Revolution, by Masanobu Fukuoka

Lasagna Gardening: A New Layering System for Bountiful Gardens: No Digging, No Tilling, No Weeding, No Kidding! by Patricia Lanza

You essentially put seeds in a handful of soil or compost set into the top of a compost pile (layers of alfalfa hay and straw, or other green and brown material), either in raised beds or directly on the ground. Water requirements are very low, work required is very low, and you get really amazing plants. This is a great way to garden in areas where soil is poor and water is limited.

Late last week, I ordered How to Grow More Vegetables and Fruits (the John Jeavons method) and How to Make a Forest Garden. I am expecting them today.

I highly recommend the forest garden book if you have the room or available nearby acreage to play with. My property is partly forested and I have been adding native plants such as ramps, nettles, and ginseng and fruit bearing trees such as paw paw, elderberry, and serviceberry. Little maintenance, big payoff. One of the medium sized hickories on my property turned out to be a shellbark, and presently is laden with huge nuts. Last year was a bumper crop of black walnuts. Got to get me an ice cream maker.

I'm jealous you have so much room. I have tried to get paw-paws to take off and have never had luck. Now that I am in Colorado I have planted my "dead zones" with gooseberry, currant, and elderberry. I experimented with Jerusalem Artichoke and have been amazed that this plants' ability to grow in hard packed terrible soil. They are huge! Potential reclamation plant. Try it where Nothing grows. Black walnuts are delicious. Enjoy the ice cream!

The method Jeavons employs can produce amazing results per hard won square foot.
Though written with a certain holistic, flower power style there is plenty of no-nonsense scientific method used to back up those impressive results.
And he encourages the reader to do likewise.
Regular TOD readers will feel right at home.

One caveat, Jeavons leans his methods towards double dug growing beds 5'X20' in order to make the standard 100 sqft model.
Unless you and your family are tall and/or have extremely long arms choose to make your beds 4'X25'.
I'm 6' and have a difficult time reaching the center of my 5' beds.
My wife and child won't even try. :(
Double digging a growing bed for the first time is a major investment of time and energy and not something you want to have regrets about later.
Also John recommends a 1' path between beds but if you have the room double that at least as 1' is a pretty tight area to manuever wheelbarrows full of compost, soil ammendments, etc. especially after they are full of mature plants.
Good luck!

Consider Eliot Coleman's 'Four Season Harvest', which outlines foods that can be grown through the year (he does this in Maine) in unheated greenhouses and simple cold-boxes, etc.


Here's Coleman's Website http://www.fourseasonfarm.com/


Hey Bob,

Did you see my comments on your comments about trading coffee and maple syrup and surviving in the northeast?


I missed them, but I'll go back and look.. putting the girl to bed. Thx

Very thoughtful reply, CJ. Thanks.

As I respond often enough, I don't believe there will be a 'last blackout', or a homogenous/worldwide end to all roads, rails and manufacturing.

I DO think it will probably cave-in in a great many places, while others will have enough food, energy and access to intrinsic transportation (waterways) to hold a good number of the most basic technologies together, such as metalworks, casting, forging and machining, glassmaking, electronics.. there may be sweeping hordes here and there, but as you say, transportation is going to be wanting, so their reach won't be universal. Even the Four Horsemen will be held up for want of Oats and Water. The Dark Ages, should they come, will be spotty.. for some, isolation will be a death-sentence, while for others it will be their protection, their Galapagos.

But we have extracted just a fantastic (maybe 'Terrific'?) quantity of materials from the earth, and even if things must break, people will also fix them, or beat them into newer and older tools, too. With a shrinking population, we'll have simply an immense quantity of materials just in our landfills and parked 747's and Suburbans from which to build tools, motors, pumps etc.. Asphalt roofs may well be replaced with clay, grass and slate again, while I'm aiming at Glass for mine. (Reason #114 not to throw stones around here)

It won't be easy, I'm not saying that it will.. but the effects will vary broadly in the countless places people have settled, and some of them- and some of our prodigious writing and printings about anything and everything (including printmaking itself) will survive and regrow.

Still have to get that kid's teeth brushed.


My four core gardening references:

The Self-Sufficent Gardener, by John Seymour. The link is to the new, revised edition, just out, which I have not read yet. Whether you get the original or revised edition, Seymour gives you tons of useful, no-nonsense recommendations for producing most or all of your vegetables and fruits on your own land. This is an excellent introduction to gardening, but also has tons of good ideas for experienced gardeners as well.

Four Season Harvest, by Eliot Coleman. If you are serious about producing as much as you can from your garden, then you need to be serious about extending your harvest from a few months to year-round. Coleman is THE expert in this, and his is the standard reference.

High Yield Gardening, by Hunt & Bortz. This Rodale Press book unfortunately is out of print, but is usually available used. This book is an excellent guide for helping you to make the most of your limited space, and is filled with tricks for helping you to boost yields.

The Organic Gardener's Handbook of Natural Insect and Disease Control, ed. by Ellis & Bradley. You need a good, encyclopedic reference for pest and disease control, this one is the best for home/subsistence gardeners.

Another book that isn't my standby, but that I would strongly recommend for new gardeners especially, is: The Vegetable Gardener's Bible, by Edward Smith. Everything in here is pretty sound, and represents a good guide for beginners.

As for Square Foot Gardening, by Mel Bartholomew. I would recommend it with reservations. I use square foot gardening methods for SOME of my crops. It works pretty good for crops, where each plant takes up maybe 1/4 s.f. up to 1 s.f., and where you are planting an entire bed or a major portion of a bed in the same plant. However, I have found that interplanting different vegetables doesn't work as well in practice as it sounds in theory - it is a lot more difficult that the book makes it look. Poor germination is a particular challenge; you end up with gaps in your planting, or else you sew thickly and then need to do more thinning of the labor-intensive, hands-and-knees-on ground kind. If you want to plant some fast growing radishes in between some slower growing crops, that probably will work OK. I've not had good luck with anything much more ambitious. A big part of the reason is that I have a very limited amount of time to devote to growing a lot of vegetables. If you've only got one or two 4-foot X 4-foot beds, you can afford to lavish your time on them, constantly planting and weeding and watering and tending. When you've hundreds of square feet under cultivation and only a few minutes each evening plus a few hours every weekend, then square foot gardening just won't work for anything much more than a dedicated bed of lettuce. You are better off concentrating your efforts on large monoculture beds of long-season crops.

Which brings me to the other author with which I have some reservations: Jeavons. Both How to Grow More Vegetables and The Sustainable Vegetable Garden are well worth reading. I would caution, however, that Bartholomew is if anyting a simplification of Jeavons's methods; here is the real deal. Jeavons claims to achieve phenominal yields, and I believe him. However, when you start looking at the methodology, you start to realize that one needs to pour absolutely enormous amounts of time into the garden in order to achieve those yields. If we all become subsistence gardeners and have nothing else to do with our time all day than to work on our garden's, then I suppose that Jeavons is the way to go. For those of us still working in the cash economy, there just are not enough hours in the day or week to achieve anything even remotely close to Jeavons's yields. There is also the reality that many of us have to work with a climate that is not as favorable as what Jeavons has. Still lots of good advice, there, but be aware that you might need to adjust a lot of it to your own situation.

Great post. You're right on about Bartholomew's methods. I have had a lot of success with them, but they aren't the right method if you have tons of space. I use a mix of raised beds and a lot of edible perennials and berry bushes. Thanks for posting the links and the reviews. Very helpful. I can imagine this site getting Googled a lot in coming years for ideas on living ELP.

Thank you. Extremely helpful post. I will take a look at the links above. As I said, she is already an experienced gardener (been doing it professionally for 25 years) so I can probably just go with the more advanced veggie-specific books.

the vegetable gardener's bible by edward c. smith.

great reference book for spacings, nutrient requirements, good/bad companions; besides gardening format of beds, organic & focus on building soil, no-till methods.

The IEA article reminds me of Duncan's crossover point in his Olduvai Theory. This was the point in which non Opec production peaked and the balance of remaining supply swung to Opec.

Duncan forecast that this crossover point would occur in 2008. If the IEA are correct, then a two year variance on Duncan's model would still be within tolerance.

According to Duncan's theory this places us 4-6 years away (his original forecast was 2012) from permanent blackouts occuring worldwide.

Although I the theory is worth following I don't think things will be as clear cut as the lights rapidly going out in 2012. However I think a telling number will be an increase in those without access to electricity and those with only intermittent access. These, however, are numbers that are probably not available in anything like real time. I doubt if anyone is paying to get the info although it is probably in a raw database (CIA?) somewhere. The following site has an interesting review of the problem:
In part it says:

During the past twenty-five years, electricity supplies have been extended to 1.3 billion people living in developing countries. Yet despite these advances, roughly 1.6 billion people, which is one quarter of the global population, still have no access to electricity and some 2.4 billion people rely on traditional biomass, including wood, agricultural residues and dung, for cooking and heating. More than 99 percent of people without electricity live in developing regions, and four out of five live in rural areas of South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa

Does anyone know of a source where data might exist in more real time?

Leanan, what happened to Dave Cohen's post. He had stated that no one had mentioned his article Peak oil is a done deal. I just wanted to inform him that I had mentioned it on Drumbeats on July 17. But then the post suddenly disappeared. http://www.theoildrum.com/node/4314#comment-381631

It was a fantastic article largely about the peaking of Non-OPEC production.

Ron Patterson

Dave Cohen is welcome to post links to his work if he wishes...as long as he is civil about it. But he's on a very short leash after his rudeness last month.

I was out of town that week and completely missed several days of TOD. I must say I did find Dave's comments rather rude. I commented to an acquaintance the other day that several times in my life I have found myself being rather rude to others. And I have always regretted it! I try to be a lot more careful these days but even now I sometimes fail in that endeavor. It is sometimes hard to be civil when the adrenalin is flowing. And I have nothing but the highest admiration for those who are able to do so.

But looking back at that day I missed I was surprised to find Robert Raiper challenging me on a statement I had made: "I repeat, Saudi Arabia is in decline, a decline from which they will never revover! New oil is simply not keeping up with the decline. That is largely because there are no new fields in Saudi Arabia."

Well, I stand by that statement. It may be eventually proven wrong but not yet. Saudi Arabia is still well below their 2005 production and I predict they will finish 2008 and 2009 well below their 2005 production level. But we shall see. In the meantime Robert should hold off any boasting until the data is in.

Ron Patterson

"I certainly know more about than anyone else around here."

Now that's a bold statement.

I always keep the Tao translated by Lao Tzu in mind:

Those who speak do not know, and those who know do not speak.

Mac, I agree that is a bold statement. However it was made by Dave Cohen, on June 14th, in regards to Russian oil production. Many, not reading the June 14th thread, would probably think it was a statement I made somewhere since you posted it as a reply to my post. It was not, I just wanted to make that clear.

Ron Patterson

Saudi Arabia is still well below their 2005 production and I predict they will finish 2008 and 2009 well below their 2005 production level

But their decline suddenly stopped, and in fact reversed direction. This, without bringing on Khursaniyah. Thus, your bold words have already been falsified, as far as I am concerned. Look again at your statement: New oil is simply not keeping up with the decline. If that was true, the decline would not have stopped and sharply reversed direction.

Further, I didn't do any boasting in that piece. Asking how you are going to reconcile your dogmatic statements with the fact that production increased from that point is not boasting.

Robert, Pleeeease, give me a break! I have enough sense to know that every country that produces oil has their ups and downs. Mexico, for instance, is mostly down but they have periods of time where their production is up. Look at Norway and the UK. The UK is in a long term downward trend but when Buzzard came on line, they had several months of uptrend. Does that change the fact that they are in a long term decline? Of course not. If I has said the same thing about the UK would you have said after Buzzard? Thus, your bold words have already been falsified, as far as I am concerned. Well, you might have since as you put it: But their decline suddenly stopped, and in fact reversed direction.

The UK, Norway, Mexico and even the US is in long term decline and this decline will continue forever. This decline may reverse for several months and in the case of the US it may change for a year or two. But this does not change the fact that they are in long term decline.

But if you wish to jump up and down and say "I told you so, I told you so" every time we have reversal, then please feel free to do so. But I am saying that 2005 was the peak, (actually it was 1980 but let's just forget about that one), and new production will not change that fact.

Okay, if in 2009, 2010 or 2011 they manage to produce more than 9,550,000 barrels a day, I will admit I was wrong. But until that happens please stop jumping up and down and wait for the data.

Ron Patterson

Ron, by the same token, Saudi has shown declines in the past that didn't turn out to be permanent. Look at 1980, as you mention. It was technically the peak, but was it the beginning of a long, terminal decline? Of course not. It was managed production.

There were lots of predictions around here of a nosedive in the desert that hasn't taken place. People are quick to forget that. This has nothing to do with "I told you so." It has to do with learning a lesson from being so dogmatic. But I have learned that those who are incredibly dogmatic are also very adept at rationalizing away failed predictions. I have even seen these rationalizations from those who flatly predicted Saudi production below 8 million BPD by year end 2007. "I wasn't really wrong, just early." Or my favorite "It's those secret pipelines from Iraq."

Perhaps when you wrote those very strong words "a decline from which they will never recover!" you had in mind that they could stop the decline at will and reverse it. Sure didn't seem that way to me, though. Seems like you were like many others who were expecting that nosedive that didn't come. But I have a feeling that you are prepared to continue spinning.

"It's those secret pipelines from Iraq."
"I drink your milkshake! I drink it up!"

I see the old warriors have hauled out their rusting armor and retaken the field. Always fun to watch. Thing is, Robert is still arguing that Saudi Arabia can still get it up, though we haven't seen them perform since before Stuart spoke his piece on Ghawar.

It seems a small point. Demand has outstripped supply. The price will go up from here on out, regardless. Unless supply can once again exceed demand, who cares.

Yeah, yeah. I can already hear the economists screaming, "but supply always matches demand."

No it doesn't. There are always those the want and NEED oil, but can't afford it. Their demand is still there, whether you want to recognize it or not. Their demand wasn't destroyed, just priced out of the market.

No, it's not the same thing.

Yeah, yeah. I can already hear the economists screaming, "but supply always matches demand."

You could hear that? I guess that means everyone in my office heard it too. I must learn to think to myself.

Thing is, Robert is still arguing that Saudi Arabia can still get it up, though we haven't seen them perform since before Stuart spoke his piece on Ghawar.

And those pieces were all about a nosedive that hasn't happened. The opposite happened. Supply rose, after holding steady for more than six months. No sign yet of imminent decline.

Robert, I expect Saudi oil production to behave like all other producing nations in decline. I don't care how it sounded to you but only a fool would expect no ups and downs in production. We get wild swings from Mexico, Norway, the UK, USA, Oman, and every other nation. Do you honestly think I meant that Saudi Arabia would have no swings in production? If that is what you choose to think then please let's just drop this discussion now because that would mean you think I am some kind of damn fool.

The UK in in a decline from which they will never recover! I believe Saudi Arabia is in a similar position. But they produce so much more than the UK that their swings will be much greater.

And I am not making excuses Robert. I think everyone on this list knows that all declines involve swings therefore I don't have to make excuses because I am correct....so far. And I don't owe anyone an explanation who thinks otherwise.

If I am eventually proven wrong, I will simply admit I was wrong. I will not make any stupid excuses. So please don't put me in that basket of excuse makers because I have made none and have no intention of doing so. Right now I simply do not need any! I will either be right or wrong with no in between. End of story.

Ron Patterson

Do you honestly think I meant that Saudi Arabia would have no swings in production?

Ron, Saudi stopped declining almost a year and a half ago, and then gradually stepped up as they had gradually stepped down. Those aren't swings in production. Personally, I think you would have been quite surprised when you made those earlier statements that they would be running well over 9 million bpd at this point in 2008. Or is that not the case?

If I am eventually proven wrong, I will simply admit I was wrong. I will not make any stupid excuses.

But you have already been proven wrong, and you are making up excuses. You are throwing out a lot of red herrings. Look again at your statement: "I repeat, Saudi Arabia is in decline, a decline from which they will never revover! New oil is simply not keeping up with the decline. That is largely because there are no new fields in Saudi Arabia."

Given your claim that 1). Saudi is in decline; 2). They will never recover; 3). There are no new fields in Saudi - then how on earth could they simply stop the decline and reverse it? Other declines have been temporarily reversed in other countries as new fields have been found. You cite the UK, and specifically mention the Buzzard field. But you say there are no new fields in Saudi, and new oil is not keeping up. How on earth then do you propose that they reversed the decline? Could you spell it out for me, given your claims above? Where did the new production come from?

What you are doing is conflating two different arguments. 1. Saudi will never break their previous production record; 2. Saudi is in terminal decline. The first can be true without the second necessarily being true. See 1980. Your claim in this case was the 2nd, yet you are defending the first.

My premise is that they reversed the decline simply because it was a managed, and not a geologically-induced, terminal decline. They had spare capacity, and brought it online to reverse the decline. That really is the simple explanation.

Have the last word. I don't think I can add to what I have already said.

My premise is that they reversed the decline simply because it was a managed, and not a geologically-induced, terminal decline. They had spare capacity, and brought it online to reverse the decline. That really is the simple explanation.

Sorry Robert but you are the one making silly excuses, not I. I have not been wrong yet so I need no excuses but you keep making up very silly scenarios to try to prove me wrong. You are guessing about their managed output because there is no way you could possibly know. They could have very well been reworking their water injection system in order to get more oil from their old fields.....and failed. That is, some of their fields were off line for rework, then when they were brought back on line, they did not quite produce as much as before. That is just a guess of course but it is just as good as your guess, and you must admit that is all you are doing. But the data trumps all theories. Next year and the next will prove who's theory was more correct.

So far, Saudi is still producing well below their 2005 peak. That is all that need be said.

Ron Patterson

Sorry Robert but you are the one making silly excuses, not I.

Ron, I don't have any reason to make up excuses. I am not the one who wrote - just before production started to rise:

"I repeat, Saudi Arabia is in decline, a decline from which they will never revover! New oil is simply not keeping up with the decline. That is largely because there are no new fields in Saudi Arabia."

By conflating a statement about decline with a statement on the 2005 production peak, you are conflating different arguments. As you rightly point out, per your logic Saudi peaked in 1980. Yet they did not go into decline. Yet someone who made the same claim as you did in 1980 could argue the same point you are making: "The 1980 peak hasn't been exceeded." If we were debating a production record, you would be correct. But we are not. Only you are.

So far, Saudi is still producing well below their 2005 peak. That is all that need be said.

See 1980. That's all that needs to be said to show that you are conflating arguments.

I'm going to jump in here solely on the side of logic. Robert, you seem to me to be as dogmatic as you claim Ron is being. This really is simple: his statement about SA rests on one thing: has production yet exceeded 2005? The answer is no. You say he ignored upticks. His explanation is valid: only an idiot would assume no swings up or down in production. You should be able to accept this at face value, but are not.

Here's the kicker: you falsely stated that KSA production has been rising for a year and half. You said: "Saudi stopped declining almost a year and a half ago, and then gradually stepped up as they had gradually stepped down. Those aren't swings in production." The trend has been up, yes, but there have been swings up and down from below 9mbd to around 9.3 and back and forth. As an example, you can clearly see below that their production was dropping during the first half of 2007, which is well within your 1.5 years.


If you are looking for accuracy, should you not expect the same for yourself?

In fact, I agree with you that they can raise production.... eventually. Last October's comments by Sadat al Husseini had the ring of truth to them. I have assumed he was right from the moment I read his statements. The recent NewsWeek article backed that up. But, that in no way invalidates Ron's argument thus far. And he has stated clearly he will be happy to admit being wrong when the moment comes, which it will.

So, your dogma is just as grand. You are sure you are right and he is wrong, and you are misrepresenting the facts to support your dogmatic stance. I think you are doing is generalizing all doomsayers on SA to Ron. You're not really talking to him, your talking to "them."

No skin off my nose, just an observation.


This really is simple: his statement about SA rests on one thing: has production yet exceeded 2005?

That's inaccurate, and a misunderstanding of the situation. As I pointed out, there are really two arguments here. Will Saudi production ever break their previous record? That's one. The second is, "Is Saudi in a terminal, geological decline", as was the implication of Ron's statement? Note that the Saudi production "peaked" in 1980, but that had nothing to do with a terminal decline. Therein lies the rub, and your misunderstanding of the issue.

His explanation is valid: only an idiot would assume no swings up or down in production.

Yet they aren't swings. They step up, stay there for a few months, and step again. If you have ever worked at any kind of manufacturing facility, that shows every sign of managed production.

Here's the kicker: you falsely stated that KSA production has been rising for a year and half.

That is incorrect. What I said was accurate. They stopped declining almost a year and a half ago. That is a fact. They then flatlined for 7 months at 8.6 million bpd. Then they stepped up production a bit at a time for 7 months. Here are the data:


As an example, you can clearly see below that their production was dropping during the first half of 2007, which is well within your 1.5 years.

The last step down happened between Jan and Feb 2007. That is almost a year and a half ago.

If you are looking for accuracy, should you not expect the same for yourself?

My statements were accurate. Your interpretation was not.

You are sure you are right and he is wrong, and you are misrepresenting the facts to support your dogmatic stance.

I misrepresented nothing. You misinterpreted. That's your issue.

Like I said, no skin off my nose and I've no reason nor wish to get into it with you given I enjoy your work, but you're full of crap on this.

This really is simple: his statement about SA rests on one thing: has production yet exceeded 2005?

That's inaccurate, and a misunderstanding of the situation. As I pointed out, there are really two arguments here. Will Saudi production ever break their previous record? That's one. The second is, "Is Saudi in a terminal, geological decline", as was the implication of Ron's statement

Yeah, no. If they can produce more, they are not in decline, so both questions are answered with the same data, thus you're being nit-picky. That said, they could be in terminal decline and you might not know it. If they could have produced, say, 13mb/d in the past, then hit decline in Ghawar, but can get it back to 12.5, they would essentially be in decline now, no? Neither you nor he can make a definite claim here.

His explanation is valid: only an idiot would assume no swings up or down in production.

Yet they aren't swings. They step up, stay there for a few months, and step again. If you have ever worked at any kind of manufacturing facility, that shows every sign of managed production.

Here's the kicker: you falsely stated that KSA production has been rising for a year and half.

That is incorrect. What I said was accurate....Here are the data:


I take it back. It wasn't you, it was your data source. Don't those numbers look just a little too clean to you? Look at all the other countries' numbers. That's what real stats should look like. I also posted numbers. Mine look more natural, so I will tend to trust them. However, I won't fault you for your claim. But you are tossing around words like "fact" where no fact exists. The EIA's numbers are guesses, and you know that. Gain, seems argumentative to me to state guesses as facts.

Anyways, carry on with your feud.


The UK is in a long term downward trend but when Buzzard came on line, they had several months of uptrend.

Two other things I would point out are 1). The Saudi decline actually stopped almost a year and a half ago; 2). No major new fields were brought online to explain their production increase. Thus, they were sitting on spare production, which means their decline had been managed. Now, if you want an actual "I told you so", there it is, as this is something I have argued here for a long time.

For the record, I think Saudi has managed their production, but they underestimated demand growth and were slow to bring new production online when it was needed. I think they have some spare production, but not as much as they say. But I don't for a minute suggest that we plan our energy policy around them delivering on their promises.

The Saudi decline actually stopped almost a year and a half ago; 2). No major new fields were brought online to explain their production increase. Thus, they were sitting on spare production, which means their decline had been managed.

Robert, the Saudis are always working and reworking their fields. They are continually altering their water injection in an effort to get the best results. You have no idea what new production, or rejuvenated old production was brought on line and neither do I! I know people in Saudi Arabia and even they have no idea what the big picture really is. I do not know that Saudi peaked in 1980 and 2005, that is just what I glean from the data and the general knowledge I have about how they operate. I could be wrong but so far I am right.

Ron Patterson

By that logic, someone who claimed that Saudi peaked and went into terminal decline in 1980 could also claim to be correct, since that record hasn't been broken. As I said, the record doesn't have to be broken to prove they aren't in terminal decline.

Robert - "If that was true"

Subjunctive mood - "If that were true" LOL

Well, I stand by that statement. It may be eventually proven wrong but not yet. Saudi Arabia is still well below their 2005 production and I predict they will finish 2008 and 2009 well below their 2005 production level.

Saudi Arabia is reportedly pumping 9.65 or 9.70 mbpd in July (this month). The would put them above their 2005 level. In June they pumped, depending on the report, between 9.45 and 9.53. That would put them just below or at their 2005 level, not "well below."

With the capacity additions that seem pretty certain through 2009, it is as likely as not that they will be able to pump as much as 10.5 to 11.0.

Manifa, Khursaniyah, and Khurais ramping up will easily be able to outpace the speculative, projected declines in Ghawar in the next 2 years.

Aramco officials insist that despite the tight construction market, the Khurais project will be ready to produce 1.2 million barrels per day by next June.

But equipment and labor shortages have delayed production at another field, Khursaniyah, which was originally scheduled to begin pumping 500,000 barrels per day at the end of 2007. Aramco officials now say Khursaniyah will come online in August.

Also in the works is the development of the Manifa field, which sits offshore in the Gulf and is Saudi Arabia's only other giant oil field still untapped.
      -Associated Press, June 29th, 2008

Well-deserved, imo. However, it was a good article breaking down the Newsweek piece.

Noses and spited faces and all that...


Wow. That was a very depressing read.

I like Dave and Jeffrey both. They're in basic agreement. Dave even says peak oil is a "done deed." I don't get it.

Lest we forget Campbell's advice--which he has been issuing for years:

But ... this peak has ... no real great significance, it is the perception and the vision of the long decline that comes into sight on the other side of the peak. That's really what matters.

(I've altered the Wiki quote because it so obviously bungles the quotation.)

I don't get it.

Join the club. It was probably the single most bizarre exchange I have ever had.

Considering the evidence that we are either past or effectively at a crude oil production peak and especially considering the net oil export issue, it's really past time to focus more on ways to try to cope--things like Alan Drake's Electrification of Transportation proposals.

WT, I believe all of us have an occasional bad day. Who knows what is going on is another's life? I do not think a person should be judged by what happened one day.

I have noticed that people tend to say things on the internet and sometimes by telephone that they would not say to one's face. I believe that is a bad practice.

just sayin'

Dave's piece was very good, as usual and I hope most people here have noted it. It's good to post a link reminder though.

To me Dave's forecast for a 77/2011 ceiling was significant and his presentation on the reasoning very clear.

However, I feel sad that PO discussion here at TOD has become a clash of egos every now and then. I think we're all still learning here, granted some of us ever so more than others, but nevertheless nobody has a faultless view on the whole situation.

That's why I'm hoping we can tolerate differences in opinion in civil manner (an advice I should heed to myself as well).

Sometimes it is interesting to read a spirited discussion (such as the one above) however when it starts getting mean and personal it is a real turn-off.

If I wanted to listen to people pounding on kitchen tables speaking at the top of their lungs I would visit my family.



Hi Joe,

"If I wanted to listen to people pounding on kitchen tables speaking at the top of their lungs I would visit my family."

Thanks for the laugh.

I miss 'em, I do.

Looks like Dean Kamen has a Sterling Engine generator ready for production.

"Dean Kamen on Potable Water and Sustainable Electricity"


The Aspen Institute
Aspen, CO
Jul 3rd, 2008

Inventor Dean Kamen discusses a creation of his team that brings potable water and sustainable electricity to under served populations.

So does Infinia.

So would I if I were an engineer...


Nice. Seems it has been around since 2003 and nobody has picked up the wholesale manufacturing though.


nobody has picked up the wholesale manufacturing though.

It's probably not profitable ... the same reason we get 'peak oil' production and the same reason many proposed alternatives to FF will never be adequate to match our current needs/desires ... sadly, in the real world (where a third of the world's population doesn't have access to FF energy that they can afford), the really poor people can't actually afford to buy or fix this kind of stuff.

When viewing these poor people from afar, and wondering how they manage to survive, in my experience usually there are water containers made from oil or gas ... the amount of oil required to make a plastic jerry can is very small, and just one of them can mean the difference between life and death for several people for several years.

When the oil/gas production goes 'post peak', exponentially more plastic can't be made (at any cost) ... as you fill your vehicle with gasoline pray, or make plans, to ensure you are never so poor you join the billion people who can't afford enough clean water to drink.

And when it comes to the Kamen engine (Ok, anyone's stirling) I'll believe it when I can exchange FRN's for one.

There've been rumors about Kamen and stirling engines for years. Before he unveiled the Segway it was thought that his big project would be personal transport using stirling engines and liquid nitrogen.

Some things that are flying beneath the radar...And, one that isn't. The insurers are going to take it on the chin in 2008 because of very large losses due to the most tornados in the US since at least 1950...and a decline in premiums paid to insurers. I have seen little coverage of this one. This bit made me wonder about the cost of insuring wind turbines...

...snip...'July 17 - Bloomberg (Erik Holm): "Record tornado damages, the weakening economy and a drop in premiums may reduce insurers' earnings by 30%, the steepest second-quarter decline since 2002 ... Losses from catastrophes, including the most tornadoes in the US since at least 1950, were about $5.5 billion. At the same time, investment returns and opportunities to sell residential and corporate coverage declined as the economy slowed and home sales dropped. 'We're going to see amazingly bad numbers from the property insurers in the second quarter,' said Meyer Shields, an analyst at Stifel Nicolaus ... 'There are lots and lots of losses out there.'...snip...


and...how can a wage-price spiral take place when jobs are being destroyed and wages are stagnant or negative?

'Debt capitalism
With free-market capitalism turned into a gigantic Ponzi scheme, witness troubled mortgage guarantors Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the world is witnessing the collapse of the central banking regime that came into being in the US in 1913. At the same time, amid all talk of how to deal with the crisis, not one official voice is heard about the need to increase worker income. - Henry C K Liu'...snip...


and...the ability of banks to lend to businesses and individuals is severely crimped. Banks are hoarding money to stabilize their balance sheets while credit lines to business are being cut or scaled back in the US and UK.

...snip...'July 14 - Bloomberg (Mark Herlihy): "More than three quarters of UK chief financial officers said credit has become 'hard to obtain' as a result of turmoil in financial markets, according to a survey by Deloitte and Touche LLP. The survey found that 77% of CFOs said credit was hard to obtain, compared with 63% in March and 48% in September, Deloitte said ... Some 89% of respondents rated credit as 'costly,' compared with 72% in March and 59% last September. Conditions are likely to get 'worse,' Deloitte said."

July 18 - Bloomberg (Svenja O'Donnell): "UK mortgage lending fell 32% in June from a year earlier, the Council of Mortgage Lenders said. Gross lending against property declined to 23.8 billion pounds ($47.44bn) ... Lending fell 3% from May."...snip...



How about State Farm asking for an average 47.1% rate increas in Florida? By average some could almost double along with them dropping many more high risk (former) insureds. And I do no think they are writing any new policies.

Hope you do not have SF - we do in NW Broward County. :-(

So far Christ's property tax and insurance reforms are a sham. If he is McSame's VP choice and he loses maybe he won't be governor any more.

My wife and daughter like him - he's just another spit shined potitician.


Ptoemmes, We have a couple of rental houses and the house we live in. Our insurer of more than 20 years cancelled the policies on all three properties although we had never filed a claim of any type. We decided to self insure since we owe nothing on the properties and I do the work of maintaining them. The insurance company offered to 'place us' with one of their satellite companies and were shocked when we told them to go freak themselves. Interestingly, now we are receiving all sorts of offers from insurance companies. I suppose it wrankles them that someone has escaped their system.

During the last batch of hurricanes I replaced the roofs on two of our properties with the help of friends and I helped replace some their roofs and repair water damage. We have a sort of informal biker co-op and many trades are represented...everything from power plant steam fitters to commercial construction to custom home builders to electicians to plumbers to remodelers, etc...but, no insurance salesmen...real people iow. I also have a cabinet shop and used to build custom solid wood cabinets and furniture and I still do for myself and friends. I learned with my father's help how to stick frame a roof with a framing square before trusses came into vogue.

I watched closely what happend to the people on the Gulf Coast after Katrina and Rita. Lots of those home owners will never collect what is owed them by the insurers. I decided then that I didn't need insurance that I could pay for but could not collect on. The insurers can put their policies where the sun don't shine.

Crist is a pure politician. A cameleon that can change color or point of view with the prevailing political winds. He is a pretty boy and that seems to get guys elected. Imo, Florida has been headed down hill since Lawton Chiles (the 'ol he coon) passed on...RIP. Florida has some very tough times in store on the economic front. Our current politicians will not be up to the task of leading the state through the storm...imo

Alas, poor, Florida, I knew thee well.

I spent a good chunk of my childhood among the Seven Sisters Islands in the St. Johns North of Lake George, about 15 miles south of Palatka, I think, near a little town called Satsuma. Absolutely do not miss those hot summer nights, but the woods, swamps, waterways and beaches were good to a bored child.

Agree about Chiles.

Were you located in a locale not to be so hard hit by climate change, I'd look you up and settle in nearby. Sounds like you've got the right kind of people around you... till the waters rise, that is. Unfortunately, the reach of the brine inland may make things difficult long before the sea itself does.

7 generations. That's what's keeping me from joining my brother in NOLA and even considering Florida. Maybe up north where the lad rises a bit...


We have also chose to self insure our properties. The insurers are tanking with the banks. I'ld rather take the risk upon myself than 'trust' an insurer's 'promise to pay'.

I have fully invested in myself, well, ourselves, like the guy in the Progressive comercial who hasn't told his wife. We are off the grid. All utilities, some of the food(we can go 100% when TSHTF), and have networked with other very close friends with other skills.

Notice the term network.

We are not collectivists. We are libertarians, in the founding fathers use of the term.

I hate labels. They are automatically pejorative. "Collectivists?" What is that supposed to mean? Russkies? Commies? Hippies?

Collectivism is nothing more than sharing. When you and your friends pool your resources, you're sharing, aren't you? Some share more than others. Personally, I let the situation dictate: you share what needs sharing and leave it at that. Unless those collectivists aren't worthy of being shared with...

The world may end up profoundly different than it is today. Labels won't mean a hell of a lot, if so.


The whole idea of a wage-price spiral really gets my blood going. It is a fiction concocted by TPTB to justify crushing worker's wages. Inflation is caused by monetary policy -- too much money chasing too few goods. Inflation is reflected in rising prices and rising wages, but neither rising prices nor wages is the cause.

What TPTB love to do is to re-define inflation as price & wage increases. By crushing wages, they can keep prices down because workers can't afford to buy stuff. This allows them to run with a loose monetary policy, claim there is no inflation, and crush wages all at the same time. Then, whenever there is an uptick in prices, they can use that as a reason to clamp down on wages even more, to prevent an imaginary wage-price spiral (well, the wage-price spiral isn't exactly imaginary...what is imaginary is the idea that it causes inflation). It is a win-win for the bankers in particular, but the rich in general.

Interesting to read:

The Great American Nightmare


Shargash, Yeah, me too. The authors of the 'Left Behind' series of religious books could have as easily written the series about left behind wages in the US. There were no wage gains while the government was claiming gdp was increasing...Except to those on the top rungs of the ladder. I am dismayed that TPTB thought that they could keep the credit Ponzi scheme going while running an economy based on a series of bubbles and while wages were stagnant. At this point economic and fiscal planning in the US has devolved into one day at a time, fingers crossed, and hope all the wheels don't come off at once.

What I find hilarious is that Paulson is hinting that another 'incentive check' is in the cards for consumers. I suppose that the US Mail is cheaper than leasing helicopters. According to one article that I read the on-line porn sites got a large chunk of the last round of stimulus checks. Only in America...

I do not think bankers are going to fair well going forward...Unless they are among the 'chosen few' that infest Wall St. Regional and Main St bankers are in for a thrashing. After the shake out is complete it will be interesting to see the ratio of failed banks to failed pricey coffee shops...I doubt I will live to see the end of this train wreck but it's an interesting distraction.

Throw the Bums Out!

After a year of obfuscation and finger pointing, it is time to reflect on where the fault really lies.

If you're feeling like you've just been mugged, and your angus is a bit sore too, that's because it reflects reality, the reality that those in power are doing their best to deflect attention away from.

Here's some stories from a year ago showing the truth of the matter, that doesn't seem to be getting any air-time anymore, even though a year ago everyone was talking about it.

Securitized Mortgage Fraud - The Ponzi Unwinds

Even in good times the Ponzi business model employed by most of the mortgage banking industry required ever increasing loan volumes to keep default rates down. New loans typically don’t go bad as fast as bad loans, so the rapid growth rate of the sector helped hide the truth about the quality of their holdings. Now that the sector is having trouble growing, reported default rates are on the rise and profits are evaporating.The market for mortgage backed securities grew far too rapidly, and the supply of easy credit had to end.


Ponzi’ finance units must increase outstanding debt in order to meet its financial obligations.” - Hyman Minsky

Credit Suisse on a monthly basis puts out one of the most data filled reports in the biz on mortgage and consumer finance. A careful reading of the latest issue, enables one to piece together the nature of the American asset Bubble consumer financing Ponzi scheme.
The macro question is, how can this benign “risk free” environment continue if Ponzi equity extraction from declining housing values abates at all? And even worse, what happens if large layoffs spread into the real estate and construction areas of the economy.


Like a Ponzi scheme, it is good until it isn’t. Think of it as musical chairs. When chairs are plenty, everyone is having fun. Yet as the music winds down, we know that eventually only one person will be able to sit.


Noticed all those "ReFi" commercials have pretty much disappeared. Guess the House of Cards has collapsed. All that's left is the unwinding and the pain.(a clear understatement on my part)

Yep, this is the big one. They've squeezed the world dry and the Fat Lady is singing the final number. Let me coin the phrase now. "The Greater Depression."

What is Fraud?

Ok, it's time for a little truth telling. We all know what the scam was. Interest rates were at their lowest ever. There was no place else for interest rates to go but up. Thus, the creation of Adjustable Rate Mortgages. How much you pay goes up with interest rates. Sold to consumers as good deals as, if interest rates go down, so does the amount you pay. Nowhere down for interest rates to go, only up. Misrepresentation? You Bet'cha.

Now lets spend billions on television advertising to not only sell loans to people looking to buy a house(a very small percentage), but let's talk everyone into refinancing, taking out second mortgages, move that fixed mortgage into an adjustable rate one, money to spend on anything. Let's even make it sound Hip and call it ReFi.

Oh, let's not forget the credit cards, they can get in on the adjustable rate thing too. How many billions of 'preapproved' credit card applications were mailed out? Low starting rate, no interest for six months, ADJUSTABLE. Whenever, Wherever. Just read the fine print. Questionable business practice? You Bet'cha.

You've noticed I've not said the word FRAUD yet. Oh, but this is only the beginning.

Can't hold on to these loans, as soon as interest rates go up, they won't be able to pay. So, repackage them as financial instruments and sell them to pensions and hedge funds. Make a tidy profit and push these bad loans into someone else's lap. HIGH YIELD! Those Pension Funds were hurt bad last time around, barely standing on one leg. They need to recoup those losses. Suck(er) them in with promises of high return.

Now add in synergy. If now everyone can afford to buy a house, real estate values go through the roof. People are paying prices far far higher than before all this started. Inflated valuations means booked assets are inflated, meaning more money can be borrowed against those assets. And the Bubble grows.


Intentional misrepresentation or concealment of information in order to deceive or mislead. It is illegal.

fraud (frôd)
A deception deliberately practiced in order to secure unfair or unlawful gain.


Intentionally deceiving another person and causing her to suffer a loss. Fraud includes lies and half-truths, such as selling a lemon and claiming "she runs like a dream."


Bush to Bail Out Sub-Prime Lenders

While claiming to bail-out low-income borrowers, Bush's plan to extend Government Guaranteed Loans to borrowers who cannot pay their mortgage is, in actuality, a bail-out of the lenders, who will receive payment for their bad loans while enslaving ... er, indebting mortgage borrowers to the federal government. And where does the money for this bail-out of the Ponzi scamming bastards come from? Right out of the taxpayers pocket.


That's right, let's just heap more debt on the American people to save these worthless criminals, after all, they're worth more than the future of America, right?

If you really wanted to help the borrowers, why not force the lenders to convert those fraudulent ARMs to low interest fixed rate loans? Why? Because it doesn't bail-out the sub-prime lenders.

What is with this collusion to fleece every last penny out of the American working class? Does the United States even have the ability to issue enough debt to cover these loans? Last I saw, the rest of the world had enough of it(in more ways than one), and weren't showing up at the auctions.

Aren't we in enough of a debt crisis already? I guess the working class in America takes it in the angus again so the thieving rich can skate away scott free.

Where is Robin Hood when you need him?

Pol/Econ: Economy Heading For The Cliff

America borrows $2 Billion from foreigners every day, 365 days a year, just to maintain its lifestyle. Those foreigners, often using recycled trade surplus dollars, usually buy our bonds (aka our debt). Not just our treasury bonds, but also our mortgage bonds.

If you bought a home in the last few years, there is a good chance that someone in east Asia actually owns your mortgage. So if you default on your mortgage, those foreign investors take a loss. So the question is: at what point do those foreign investors get tired of losing money and stop buying our debt?

Some are suggesting that this day is almost upon us.

The value of the dollar has been falling for years as country after country has diversified away from the dollar in their currency reserves. Private foreign investors have long since stopped buying dollar assets except as very short-term speculative purchases.

Recently the Euro passed the dollar as the leading world reserve currency. This was years before it was supposed to happen.

Even more damaging, OPEC countries (that generally peg their currency to the dollar) are complaining about the lack of purchasing power of the dollar. When you include the fact that Kuwait, one of our strongest allies in OPEC, has dropped their dollar currency peg recently, those complaints are ominous.

Right now the dollar index is hanging on long-term support. If that support fails there is no longer any guidance you can glean from the charts. In other words, we enter unknown waters.

One day someone will want us to repay for all that borrowing.


'Debt' is the 'Chains that bind us'

The grasp and grab for resources, including and most obviously oil and gas, has been going on since the end of World War II in its current state. It was spoken about openly when the media was more constrained and less widely available. Churchill spoke eloquently about how debt was a far better weapon against rowdy natives than the Gestapo or the state-capitalists in the Soviet Union’s KGB.

Debt would allow “great men” to reach their destiny without insufferable wretches, the public, getting in their way. Institutionalize debt internationally and it would also allow great nations to rule quietly and with Adam Smith’s “silent hand.” “Or else we should be forever trapped within our mansions.” said Churchill.

Adam Smith however would today be classed as a left wing economist, the Joseph Stiglitz of his age. He wrote, also eloquently, about how markets needed justice in order to function, otherwise the merchant class would spew despair and misery around the world. He was correct.


December 2006, the SEC removed the 'uptick rule' that prevented people from unrestrained shorting of the market as it goes down.(Unrestrained shorting acts like putting the accelerator to the floor while going downhill.) The only reason for doing this is to allow profiting on a crash. The rule was put it place in 1934 to prevent a 1929 type crash from happening again.

Chairman Christopher Cox
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
Washington, D.C.
December 4, 2006

The final item on our agenda today is elimination of the short sale price test - colloquially known as the "tick test."

Historically, the Commission and self-regulatory organizations have sought to balance the competing views of short selling -- whether it is primarily good or bad -- by permitting short sales in advancing markets, and preventing short sales at successively lower prices.

The Commission first imposed restrictions on the execution prices of short sales almost seventy years ago, when we adopted the "tick test" of Rule 10a-1 in 1938. The tick test permits short sales only at a price above the last sale price, or alternatively, at the last sale price -- if that is higher than the previous price.

The core provisions of Rule 10a-1 have remained virtually unchanged since the 1930s. But a great deal else has changed in the marketplace over that very long time. Over the years, decimalization and changes in trading strategies have undermined the effectiveness of the price test. And at the same time, increased transparency and better means of surveillance appear to have lessened the need for the price test.

We will today consider proposals to remove the tick test of Rule 10a-1, and to prohibit the SROs from maintaining their existing price tests or adopting any new ones. Along with the proposed repeal of the tick test, we will also consider a proposal to make conforming changes to the order-marking requirements of Regulation SHO.


shargash - Just trying to have a discussion. I think that you are clearly right that high wages do not cause inflation. But, I do not think that the goal of business is to "crush" wages, but rather to be competitive. It has been my experience that "wage" earners do not in many cases take an interest in trying to differentiate themselves from average. If a person sets out to get a "niche" advantage through working harder, studying harder, learning more, developing leadership ability, they can do very well. And, that includes being able to assess themselves realistically, and if they are not being paid commensurate with their skills, to seek out another opportunity - i.e., change jobs, even if that means moving. I agree, that many very capable people are taken advantage of in the workplace, but no one is going to look out for "you" more than you. People have no qualms about deciding which product is best for them in the marketplace based upon price, quality, needs, etc. But, when it comes to themselves, many become just takers of what is offered.

To give a football analogy - Jerry Rice, Roger Staubach and numerous others worked harder in the offseason, with no extra pay, than they did during the season. I can assure you that they were "paid" more for that off-season work than they were during the season - because, they were able to differentiate their services from the average NFL player who lacked such a strong work ethic. I would agree that it is not simple, and that it can be very hard to do. But, if you can find something that you are good at, and that you like to do, and then make every effort to differentiate yourself from the average similarily situated workers, you can be rewarded beyond what anyone would believe. Business in general is starving for workers that will give them a competitive advantage, and willing in most cases to pay for it.

Come now blunt---
Success in the casino economy of the US is almost all luck (which I have had a a bit of)--
Have you read the Black Swan? The illusion that income is based on merit and hard work doesn't stand up to observation--
It helps to be able to control the table, and make the rules (just look at the neo's and BushCo), but ultimately it is luck. One does have to show up with the right apparel, but after that it is a crap shoot.
As far as athletes, it more being able to take the hit, rather than raw athletic ability--
Pro athletes are genetic freaks, who we pay well.
I got a good education, right age and location, so I made out well in the Casino economy--
It had very little to do with my innate abilities.

Any change in the definition of meritocracy is first exploited by the rich insiders, and last by the poor. The more often you change the definition, the more opportunities for the gap to widen. The supposed turnover in our ruling classes via new technology just means a different bunch of overspecialized white suburban geeks get to rise from the upper middle class to the upper class as the paladins of some new "industry". But when their startups must make the jump to mainstream respectability for capital formation, they overthrow each other to put yet another Harvard MBA at the head of the table, so he can get together with his golfing buddies at Goldman Sachs and hollow it all out. Nothing really changes.

Flat-footed Larry Bird, or many other similar examples of average athletes, is a "genetic freak"? I would also stipulate that proper conditioning allows one to "take the hit." The context one is born into can be an asset or liability, but innate abilities or lack thereof does have a place. OTOH, it's hard to find what you're good at without the ability/opportunity to experiment. Happenstance is often the great decider, as in the case of Louis Armstrong: "Armstrong seriously developed his cornet playing in the band of the New Orleans Home for Colored Waifs, where he had been sent multiple times for general delinquency, most notably for a long term after firing his stepfather's pistol into the air at a New Year's Eve celebration, as police records confirm."

jbunt says: "no one is going to look out for "you" more than you," which is why unions were formed--so the worker could learn HOW "to look out...," what his/her rights were, and what laws applied to employers. JK Galbraith wrote American Capitalism: The Concept of Countervailing Power, which today seems a forgotten but very important work. Nader was to use its thesis to greater extent than anyone. At base, we use it here at TOD. It might be said that our dilemma today is a result of the public at large being ignored because it never deveolped enough countervailing power to offset that of the "Establishment" and their various "Systems." And thus the rationale for the US government "to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity,..." continues to be ignored and at worst ground under the bootheel of those who think or actually admit "If this were a Dictatorship, it'd be a hellofalot easier."

Success in the US could best be described as a partial meritocracy. By that I mean that having talent improves the odds, but is no quarantee of success. And some with no discernable talents get lucky. Sometimes it as a matter of having a rare talent, and being lucky enough to fall upon on opportunity to use it. And these opportunities are often time dependent. I was lucky enough to have a certain sort of computing ability, and to bump into the right job to exploit it. Now, I still have that same ability, but the world has moved on, and it aint a valuable ability to have anymore. And then we have the fact that the best opportunities for talented engineers were startups that grant stock options. Now that adds a definite casino flavor to the whole thing. Those who get into the right jobs at the right time did great, while many equally or better talented people who worked at least as hard missed out.

Can I suggest you use the blockquote function? It makes it a lot easier to know what one is saying vs. quoting. Looks like this:

and...the ability of banks to lend to businesses and individuals is severely crimped. Banks are hoarding money to stabilize their balance sheets while credit lines to business are being cut or scaled back in the US and UK.

...'July 14 - Bloomberg (Mark Herlihy): "More than three quarters of UK chief financial officers said credit has become 'hard to obtain' as a result of turmoil in financial markets, according to a survey by Deloitte and Touche LLP. The survey found that 77% of CFOs said credit was hard to obtain, compared with 63% in March and 48% in September, Deloitte said ... Some 89% of respondents rated credit as 'costly,' compared with 72% in March and 59% last September. Conditions are likely to get 'worse,' Deloitte said.

And is done like this (I added spaces so it would display; there should be no spaces between the arrows):

< block quote >and...the ability of banks to lend to businesses and individuals is severely crimped. Banks are hoarding money to stabilize their balance sheets while credit lines to business are being cut or scaled back in the US and UK.

...'July 14 - Bloomberg (Mark Herlihy): "More than three quarters of UK chief financial officers said credit has become 'hard to obtain' as a result of turmoil in financial markets, according to a survey by Deloitte and Touche LLP. The survey found that 77% of CFOs said credit was hard to obtain, compared with 63% in March and 48% in September, Deloitte said ... Some 89% of respondents rated credit as 'costly,' compared with 72% in March and 59% last September. Conditions are likely to get 'worse,' Deloitte said.< / block quote >

You can copy and paste from the tags listed below message window when you write your post. You have to add the slash for the endquote.


I just have to gripe...I was listening to NPR's Diane Rehm Show, where the guests were discussing the feasibility of Gore's 100% renewable electricity generation proposal. The three guests were a policy wonk, an NY Times reporter, and a lawyer - no engineers either from traditional electric power generation or renewable electric power generation - no one who would actually know from a nuts-and-bolts perspective if Gore's proposal is feasible. Just more elite-class professional bloviators.

Advance brings low-cost, bright LED lighting closer to reality

The technology, called light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, is about four times more efficient than conventional incandescent lights and more environmentally friendly than compact fluorescent bulbs. The LEDs also are expected to be far longer lasting than conventional lighting, lasting perhaps as long as 15 years before burning out.

For those concerned that CFLs give of a "cold" light, LEDs can be manufactured to give of any color light. They can also be used with dimmer switches unlike CFLs.

But LED lights now on the market are prohibitively expensive, in part because they are created on a substrate, or first layer, of sapphire. The Purdue researchers have solved this problem by developing a technique to create LEDs on low-cost, metal-coated silicon wafers, said Mark H. Oliver, a graduate student in materials engineering who is working with Sands.

More efficient lighting will be a welcome alternative as we power down.

Edit: fixed link.

Alan from the islands

Hi Alan,

The lack of hard numbers is a constant source of frustration. There's no mention of lamp efficacy (i.e., lumens per watt), CRI, lumen depreciation and so on and in the absence of such data it's difficult to judge its merits.

Frankly, the selling of LEDs leaves a lot to be desired. For example, EarthLED claims their 13-watt LED lamp is "comparable" in performance to that of a 100-watt incandescent. That's an odd claim given their product is rated at 900 lumens whereas my Sylvania catalog tells me a standard 100-watt/120-volt incandescent produces 1,720 lumens, making our incandescent nearly twice as bright as this LED. The "typical" CRI is also said to be 70, which implies some lamps may be worse and others will be better. An incandescent has a CRI of 100 and most compact fluorescents fall in the range of 82 (higher numbers are better), so if you think CFLs make everything look "funny".... Lifetime is reported to be greater than 50,000 hours (MTBF) but there's no word as to how much light it will produce if and when it reaches that age -- if after 10,000 or 20,000 hours it's down to less than half its original output, you might as well toss it into the trash. Note too the beam angle is just 180 degrees, so if you need 360 degree illumination, as what you would expect your table lamp to provide, you're out of luck. Cost? A cool $100.00 plus S&H.

Source: http://www.earthled.com/evolux-led-light-bulb.html

I've also read reviews that suggest the fan is not silent and, moreover, that it produces an audible hum. LEDs are a promising technology but the marketing hype and blatantly falsehoods only serve to poison the well.


The lack of hard numbers is a constant source of frustration. There's no mention of lamp efficacy (i.e., lumens per watt), CRI, lumen depreciation and so on and in the absence of such data it's difficult to judge its merits.

The problem is it is a research paper, in the form "the major impediment is X, we know how to overcome X". Now you need enigeers, and business investment to try to manufacture a product. And hopefully its cost, reliability, and lifetime will work out. It sounds like better LEDs are likely coming, but they probably won't be ready to become wholesale replacements for a few more years.

I recall being really excited about Spheral Solar cells a few years back. This company had a way of making cells with dramatically less silicon, and lower cost. They managed to manufacture cheaply, and the efficiency wasn't bad, but it turned out the cells only lasted about three years, which makes them uncompetitive. In the end it can be all about the details, and they take a while to work out.

Alan, your link is not a link.

Just in case you missed it: an update 3:30 EDT, From Chuck Watson at KAC/UCF:

Check out the new GFDL (the second model-scroll down) track, shut in, and damage estimates - on the todindex page - . Models are showing some damage now, not just precautionary shut in. Not much, but in this market, any excuse to FUD things up and PANIC!!! Expect to see the NHC forecast north and stronger at 5pm. Seriously, though, while the track models are trending northward, I'm not seeing rapid organization/strengthing yet. It's moving awfully fast, which should keep it sheared and weak.

The new PEMEX (Mexico) Monthly Petroleum Statistics are just out. All liquids were up, May to June 43,000 barrels per day, but down 412,000 barrels per day as compared to June of 2007. C+C was up 41,000 bp/d May to June but down 367,000 bp/d as compared to June of 2007. Exports were up 39,000 bp/d bud down 322,000 bpd from June of 2007.

Ron Patterson

Ed Cone is a professional journo and a blogger.

He'd “like to see is an energy plan presented on a simple chart, showing how different elements (including domestic production, nuclear, alternative fuels, conservation) fit together in a decade, two decades, and so on. Anyone seen something like that? “

While I have left many links to TOD, I have no indication that he has even clicked over to here.

So I'm not really sure what he's up to here.

Anyone familiar with this MO ?

T. Boone Pickens is on Lou Dobbs' show on CNN tonight.

Saudi Aramco Facts & Figures 2007 just released

for comparison here is the link to Aramco's 2006 Facts and Figures (F&F)

Some observations:

1. Crude Oil Exports

From 2006 F&F, Crude Oil exports were as follows

2003, 2.36 Gb
2004, 2.48 Gb
2005, 2.62 Gb
2006, 2.54 Gb

From 2007 F&F

2007, 2.41 Gb or 6.60 mbd

Aramco's crude oil exports are less than 2004 levels now

2. Project scheduling

The 2006 F&F gave a good list of scheduled projects with most startup dates specified in month/year format. The 2007 F&F does not have a comparable list and instead startup dates are only specified in year format.

For example, on page 10 of the 2006 F&F, Khursaniyah was scheduled to start on December 2007. On page 7 of the 2007 F&F, Khursaniyah start up date is 2008 with no month specified. Consequently, Khursaniyah will probably start in late 2008. The EIA STEO July 8, 2008 stated that the "500,000 bbl/d Khursaniyah project has been pushed back to the end of 2008."

3. NGL Production

The 2007 F&F states that Aramco's NGL production for 2007 was 1.1 mbd in contrast to 1.44 mbd as stated by the EIA

The difference of just over 0.3 mbd is assumed to be ethane as described on page 9 of the 2007 F&F: "Sales gas and ethane are consumed by the Kingdom’s utilities and industry. Propane, butane and natural gasoline (also known as natural gas liquids, or NGL) not used by domestic industry are exported to world markets." Aramco excludes ethane in their NGL definition and the EIA includes ethane.

0.3 mbd might not appear to be much but it is not available for export. Similarly, any new ethane to be produced will probably not be available for export. The delayed Khursaniyah gas plant has capacity to produce 0.29 mbd ethane and NGL. However, according to Sadad Al-Husseini, at the 2007 Oil & Money Conference, Khursaniyah will have mostly ethane at about 0.21 mbd which will probably be unavailable for export.

Similarly, the Hawiyah NGL recovery plant will yield an additional 0.31 mbd natural gas liquids but will be also unavailable for export as it will be used as "feedstock for the Kingdom's petrochemical industry" p10 2007 F&F
These two NGL projects of Khursaniyah and Hawiyah have total capacity of about 0.6 mbd, but very little, if any, will be available for export.

The 2006 F&F show Aramco's NGL exports

2003, 0.265 Gb
2004, 0.274 Gb
2005, 0.289 Gb
2006, 0.285 Gb

2007 F&F

2007, 0.287 Gb or 0.79 mbd

According to the EIA's NGL definition, Aramco should be producing just over 2 mbd NGL (incl ethane) by end of 2008/early 2009. However, probably 60% of this amount will be used by Saudi Arabia and not available for export.

Note that the Saudi Aramco 2007 Facts and Figures is a different publication, released today, as compared to the Saudi Aramco Annual Review 2007 which was released in May 2008.
The two publications share some similar content.


Thnx for the link, very useful for obtaining data from Aramco.

Thanks for the post, Ace. I was about to suggest the Gb instead of Mbpd for exports, but you beat me to it.

Anyone know off-hand if the Motiva Port Arthur refinery upgrades are geared toward handling heavy/sour crudes? I did a quick check and couldn't tell what they're currently set up to handle.

From the Energy Tribune....
China’s S.P.R. Pumping Up Prices

Although the U.S. has quit filling its strategic petroleum reserve, China continues to fill its new one, yet another reason why world oil prices have risen dramatically over the past few months. Of course, quantifying that effect in terms of dollars per barrel is difficult, if not impossible.

That said, the cost of filling China’s S.P.R. and the lack of transparency with regard to its S.P.R. program management are cause for concern.

July 21.

"We" landed on a rock,

What a crock.

Now we're in hock

And the moon

Is still

A rock.

This is the first mainstream media article I have seen with the term "Peak Oil" in the headline and plastered on the front page (albeit the online edition). Posted on the LA Times - Online at 6:42 pm Pacific time.

When will the oil supply peak? Some say it already has

Flat output and rising demand have spurred prices to painful levels. Secondary sources are coming online, but political strife and an equipment crunch hinders global exploration.

With gasoline and oil costing once-unthinkable barrels of cash, the notion that things in our petroleum-addicted world soon will get worse -- maybe much, much worse -- is spreading fast.

Fear pushed oil to $131.04 a barrel in New York futures trading on Monday, closing $2.16 higher after tumbling more than $16 last week. Supply concerns drove the increase as the market fretted about the potential for Tropical Storm Dolly to harm Gulf of Mexico oil operations.

But behind today's oil mania lies a deeper dread: that the world has found all the easy-to-reach oil, and the daily supply of the essential black goo will fall further and further behind escalating global demand.

The emphasis is that many interviewed believe that the easy to get to oil is, or is close to, peak. Also emphasized is the fact that the peak oil debate is becoming more and more mainstream. The public is becoming aware and the issue cannot be ignored, whether the peak was 2005, is 2008 or will be 2010 or 2012, we have to deal with it at some point.


Whoa. And it links to TheOilDrum.com, too!

"Peak oil is percolating all over the place," a seismic shift from when peak oilists were considered the petro-world's "lunatic fringe," Hirsch said.

Websites devoted to the subject, such as the Oil Drum, have been proliferating. You can buy peak oil boxer shorts at one site and laugh at peak oil jokes on another.

Consultant Matthew Simmons, known in some circles as Mr. Peak Oil, said he is flooded with speaking requests and gets up to 30 Google alerts a day because his name popped up in a new item.

Though the links make me think that this might be an online-only article.

I'll check tomorrow's print edition and see if it's there.

They changed the title to something a little more circumspect:

"Where's the peak for easy-to-find oil? Some say it's here"

Interesting. Now the headline reads: "Easy-to-find-oil: Has peak been reached."

Now the headline reads:

Why the oil crunch may grow worse: The fear is that all the easy-to-reach crude has been found. These may be 'the good old days,' one expert says.


The word peak is referred to many times including the quotes below:

"practical peak" by several industry heavyweights

"geologic peak" by Hirsch and others

"a peak of easily accessible oil" by Birol

"peak oil" decades old doctrine

"Peak oil is percolating all over the place," Hirsch

"peak oil boxer shorts"

"peak oil jokes"

"Mr. Peak Oil" Matthew Simmons

That is really getting strange. Is that normal to keep changing the headline after uploading an article? Wonder if there is an editorial crisis in the newsroom over how to "present" it.

My neighbor, who I have been telling about Peak Oil called me on Sunday to tell me that CNN had something on "the oil price thing". It may have been an updated version of "We Were Warned" since, that's all I was able to find on their schedule.

I also just found on youtube, bonus footage of "A crude Awakening" in 7 parts. I then saw something called "Addicted to Oil" which it turns out, is a Discovery Channel Feature by Thomas L Friedman investigating possibilities for America to kick it's addiction to oil. Unfortunately he comes up with a couple of reasons for kicking the habit leaving out the one we are most concerned about.

I posted a rant in the July 9 DB addressing the mind numbing, brainwashing influence of US MSTV, in which I claimed that, The History channel, Nat Geo and The Discovery Channel must be the least watched channels on cable, in that order. That PO related programming has moved up the ladder to mid day programming on Sunday on CNN, is pretty remarkable.

I think it is increasingly important that, those of us who have been thinking about PO, start tabulate ideas as to what to do about PO in a palatable way. PO need not be the end of the world although, it most certainly will be TEOTWAWKI. We need to emphasize:

1) Population declines must happen either voluntarily or with the help of the 4 horsemen.
2) We must not waste what FF energy we have left. We must increase efficiency
3) We must develop more localized systems of production and trade, reverse globalization.
4) We must make massive investments in renewable energy instead of consumer technology.

In general we must adjust to a more sustainable way of living. Before anybody starts flaming me, I don't necessarily think "we can save the world", it's just that I think that, when Joe Sixpack finds out aboy PO, in the absence of some kind of plan, the alternative really, really sucks.

The MSM has circled the wagons but, us PO attackers are beginning to break through and when the news breaks the big question is going to be, "So what's the plan?".

Alan from the islands

Hello TODers,

Vietnam Introduces Tax on Exports of Rice, Fertilizer (Update3)

July 22 (Bloomberg) -- Vietnam, the world's second-biggest rice exporter, will introduce its first tax on shipments of the grain and on fertilizer to ensure sufficient domestic supplies.

...The country is currently only meeting about 60 percent of its fertilizer needs, she said.

Farmers to face another fertiliser price hike

Farmers are facing another sharp rise in fertiliser costs as demand on world markets has sent forward prices soaring.

Fertiliser importers have warned that the cost of replacement stock for this autumn and next spring has surged ahead of current high levels.

Industry sources maintain that 18-6-12 will be trading in the high €500s, while the price of 10-10-20 could top €600/t.

WARANGAL: Hundreds of farmers on Monday raided a couple of fertiliser shops that were illegally stocking fertiliser stocks. The farmers also staged a two-hour-long protest, paralysing traffic for over three hours.

SASKATOON, July 22 /CNW/ - Members of the United Steelworkers' Locals
7458, 189 and 7689 have voted over 96 per cent in favour of taking strike action against Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan (PCS) if no progress is made towards a new collective agreement.

The three locals, representing 500 workers at three mine sites, are
working in coordination to achieve a fair settlement during a period of skyrocketing demand for potash. Record potash prices and continuing provincial giveaways allowed PCS to collect an after-tax profit of $566-million in the first three months of 2008. Although PCS is receiving far more profit per worker than most mining companies, it pays wages lower than many other major Canadian mining operations.

McMoRan May Revive Offshore Sulfur Mines

McMoRan Exploration Co., a major driller in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico, may revive a sulfur-mining business abandoned eight years ago in those waters as rising demand boosts prices.

New Orleans-based McMoRan quit mining sulfur from its offshore mines in the Gulf of Mexico in 2000 after prices fell to $30 a ton. Demand from fertilizer makers, chemical producers and the copper-mining industry has now driven prices to about $450 a ton, Co-Chairman Richard Adkerson said Thursday.

"Some people say these prices can't be sustained because of all the sulfur available in the world but people have said the same thing about all commodities," he said.

Sulfur crunch could limit bitumen output

Production of bitumen and heavy oil in Alberta faces a constraint unrelated to problems receiving the most attention.

The usual worries are water and energy supplies, rising royalty rates, and air-emission regulations.

But specialists at the Oil Sands and Heavy Oil Conference in Calgary July 15-17 said a bigger problem might be sulfur.

A strong global market that now prices sulfur at a robust $800/tonne will cycle into "extreme oversupply," according to Bill Kennedy, retired from Shell Canada Ltd.

"It's only a matter of when," he said.

His reasoning: After a period of strong growth, demand for sulfur is leveling. But supply is zooming from bitumen upgraders in northern Alberta, refineries responding to gasoline and diesel desulfurization regulations in the US and Europe, and large sour-gas projects in China, Kazakhstan, and the Middle East.

Kennedy said he expects sulfur supply to double in the next 5-10 years, creating "a market meltdown and transportation gridlock."
Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Vietnam is turning into a net oil importer these days joining most other oil producers...

Just a quick observation regarding the phrase that "the easy oil has been found" that popped up in this thread and others. I've been a petroleum geologist for 33 years. Oil/gas accumulations have never been easier to find, drill or produce then they are today. Geophysical and other exploration technology advances let us target reserves with much greater clarity and accuracy. As great as the North Sea Basin proved to be, it took 92 wells before the first big field was discovered. Today, it might have only taken a handful. Modern drilling technology allows operations in areas where no one ever dreamed of in 1975. EOR has never been as reliable and sophisticated as it is now.

What has changed dramatically over my career has been the potential size of remaining targets. Much of the new technology had been underutilized until prices began to rise several years ago. So, just a friendly reminder: oil/gas is actually fairly easy to find. Finding big fields like Ghawar and Cantarell is really difficult if they don’t exist.

Or, it's hard to find what's not there, which reminds me of one my high school physics teacher's sayings--"It's hard to remember what you never knew."

Regarding conventional fields, the industry seems to be going where I have been for quite a while--looking for small, but commercial, overlooked oil and gas fields.

I always look forward to comments from WT, Rockman, Darwinian, RR, etc.

Having been in E&P for 25 years, I can confidently state that the big oil fields have been found. A simple explanation for this is as follows:

Big Fields require (relatively) simple structures.
Simple structures are easy to find
We have been looking for a long time.


No more big fields.

Another simple one:

grain sizes decrease as distance from continents increases
grain size controls porosity which controls permeability
Hence high rate deepwater wells are probably the exception rather than the norm.

Could explain why Jack is now named Jill and THunderHorse has become ThunderPony

I do believe that unconventional gas and oil is an attractive alternative to other energy sources. I do not see enough discussion of this on TOD.

I do believe that unconventional gas and oil is an attractive alternative to other energy sources. I do not see enough discussion of this on TOD.

And you probably won't.

The conventional wisdom at TOD is that the EROEI is too low...and..what about Global Warming!This later restriction has no effect on the Chinese Communists(or the Canadian capitalists either).

I don't buy the CW on EROEI because the value of oil today is much higher than it was back in 1930. The same goes for EOR arguments.

while the eroei is lower is it too low? what about co2 sequestration re global warming?