DrumBeat: July 29, 2008

Oil hits 7-week low on demand worries, dollar gain

NEW YORK - Oil prices tumbled more than $2 a barrel Tuesday, finishing at their lowest level in seven weeks as a stronger dollar and beliefs that record prices are eroding the world's thirst for energy sparked another dramatic sell-off.

The drop — which surpassed $4 a barrel at one point during the day — was a throwback to oil's nosedive over the past two weeks and outweighed supply concerns touched off by a militant attack Monday on two Nigerian crude pipelines. It was oil's seventh decline in the last 10 sessions.

Light, sweet crude for September delivery fell $2.54 to settle at $122.19 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It was the lowest settlement price for a front-month contract since June 10. Earlier, prices fell to $120.42, also the lowest level since June 10. Oil has now fallen more than $25 from its trading high of $147.27, reached July 11.

Exxon: Quake had no impact on LA refinery ops

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Exxon Mobil Corp said operations at its 150,000-barrel-per-day (bpd) Los Angeles-area refinery in Torrance, California, were not impacted by a late Tuesday morning earthquake east of Los Angeles.

Venezuela rejects raising OPEC output

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) -- Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez is rejecting an increase in OPEC production quotas.

Ramirez says it would be a "mistake to inundate the market with oil" in order to increase supply and lower prices.

Niger groups condemn $5 bln oil deal with China

NIAMEY (Reuters) - Rights groups in Niger on Tuesday criticised the lack of transparency surrounding a $5 billion deal between the government and China's state oil company last month, saying it should be investigated by parliament.

GUINEA-BISSAU: Fishermen turn to trafficking as fish profits drop

BUBAQUE (IRIN) - As the profits to be made from fishing diminish with rising fuel costs and poor management of the sector, fishermen are increasingly turning to drug and people trafficking to boost their meager incomes, fishermen in Bissau and the Bijagos islands told IRIN.

Russia's plan to avert second cold war

Moscow - The dark clouds gathering this summer between Moscow and the West have some experts concerned that the world is on the brink of a new cold war. They point to two flash points. One, the ex-Soviet state of Georgia, is largely driven by Moscow's fear of NATO expanding into its traditional sphere of influence. The other is a proposed US missile-defense shield in Eastern Europe. Russia has promised to retaliate – possibly by basing nuclear-capable bombers in Cuba, according to an unofficial news report quoting unnamed top security officials last week.

"It's no longer just rhetoric, it could start to get quite serious," says Dmitri Trenin, an analyst with the Carnegie Center in Moscow. "The message being put out by Moscow is that the West needs to realize that it's approaching a line, beyond which there could be a real showdown."

BP decides against spinning off green energy units

LONDON (Reuters) - Oil major BP has decided against spinning off its investments in green and alternative energy and will instead try and boost the impact of the investments on its shares by giving analysts more data.

Oil sands pose investment and climate risk, says WWF

LONDON -- Canada's oil sands pose a significant investment risk as their development may be hampered by a government attempt to curtail the industry's rising carbon dioxide emissions, a report published Tuesday said.

World Wildlife Fund, authors of the report, said investors in oil-sand operators like Shell, ExxonMobil and BP should consider the future competitiveness of such "unconventional" fossil fuel investments in a carbon-constrained economy, where governments affix a price on climate-warming CO2 emissions.

BP boss warns of more pain for consumers from oil prices

The chief executive of BP, Tony Hayward, has warned that the long term trend for oil and gas prices spells more pain for consumers.

Despite the crude price falling from recent record highs, the boss of Britain's biggest company said that there was "an increasing likelihood that oil and gas prices will be stronger for longer.

Earlier this year, Mr Hayward said that the era of cheap energy was over, at least for the medium term. Today he added: "Events are playing out even faster than any of us expected."

BP sees Thunder Horse full production by end 2009

LONDON (Reuters) - British oil major BP Plc said its giant Thunder Horse field in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico was currently producing over 40,000 barrels of oil per day and would reach full capacity of 250,000 bpd by the end of 2009.

Chief Executive Tony Hayward said that the first well on the southern part of the field was producing and would be followed by others this year with wells on the North part of the field to follow next year.

Ex-Bush advisor 'looks at Iraq oil'

A FORMER Pentagon adviser who was an early advocate of invading Iraq has been looking into entering the potentially lucrative oil business there, The Wall Street Journal reported today.

Citing documents outlining a possible deal and people close to the negotiations, the Journal said Richard Perle has been looking into drilling in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, near the city of Erbil.

Kuwait to offer $3 bln refinery contracts - paper

KUWAIT (Reuters) - State refiner Kuwait National Petroleum Co (KNPC) plans to invite bids by September for contracts worth a total of $3 billion for its new 615,000 barrel per day al-Zour oil refinery, a newspaper said on Tuesday.

Oil sands get nod from U.S. anti-poverty group: 'All Energy Is Good'

CALGARY -- Support for Canada's oil sands is coming from an unexpected American group--an anti-poverty coalition led by African-American civil rights and faith leaders.

The group is waging a national campaign targeting 50 "extreme" environmental organizations and 100 U. S. politicians it says are restricting energy supplies through climate-change legislation, causing oil prices to spike to levels that are "strangling" the poor.

China's Power Crisis Deepens as Coal Supply Dwindles

Bloomberg) -- China, the world's second-biggest energy consumer, is facing a deepening summer power crisis that may persist into the winter months, the nation's dominant electricity distributor said.

State Grid Corp. of China, which more than 1 billion people rely on for power, said electricity shortages have worsened because of inadequate coal supplies. Forty-six percent of the power stations connected to the distributor's grid have coal stockpiles below the ``caution line,'' or seven days of consumption, data from the company showed today.

OPEC expects Indonesia to remain as membership

JAKARTA (Xinhua) -- OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) hoped that Indonesia still remains as the membership of the organization, but also said that the country has a right whether to continue as its membership, President of the cartel Chakib Khelil said here on Tuesday.

Pemex Second-Quarter Net Falls 56% on Higher Taxes

(Bloomberg) -- Petroleos Mexicanos, the state-owned oil company, said second-quarter profit fell 56 percent as the company paid higher taxes on record oil prices.

The Philippines: Angry protests greet Arroyo speech

Thousands of people have staged angry protests outside the House of Representatives in Manila as Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the Philippines president, gave her annual state of the nation address.

In her speech on Monday, Arroyo defended her economic policies as a shield against surging food and energy costs and urged patience in the face of a global downturn.

But outside on the streets, where 6,000 security personnel tried to keep control, the protesters seemed anything but patient as they burned an effigy of the president and scuffled with police.

BP says tax cuts should boost Russia oil output

LONDON (Reuters) - Russia's decision to offer tax breaks on oil production should boost output, although it could take a couple of years, the chief executive of BP Plc said on Tuesday.

"One of the issues is the fiscal structure which has become too onerous to encourage future investment," Tony Hayward told a news conference in London.

Reducing demand for oil only option

This summer's rocketing oil price demonstrates once more the danger of our reliance on a finite commodity that is in growing demand around the world and is largely in the hands of people who do not have our best interests at heart.

We can't repeal the law of supply and demand. We don't have control over either supply or price, so the only way to sidestep the law's crushing inevitability is to reduce demand.

Mad at the carriers? How to get even — now

“I just don’t fly unless it’s necessary,” says David Kazarian, the president of a medical services company in St. Petersburg, Fla. “I used to travel several times a month. Now I use telephone conferences and only travel once every three months.”

Airlines worry about passengers like Kazarian, because they rely on frequent business travelers for a large part of their revenues. When he stays home, the airlines start their slow descent into bankruptcy. But other travelers want to inflict pain on the airlines, too. And with good reason. Since the beginning of the year, U.S. carriers have added fees and cut services like never before. Passengers are seething mad.

Heavy? Your neighborhood may be to blame

It could be your neighborhood that's making you fat — or keeping you slender.

A new study found that the year your neighborhood was built may be just as important as diet and exercise for shedding pounds. Those who live in neighborhoods built before 1950 are trimmer than their counterparts who reside in more modern communities, the study reported.

“The older neighborhoods had a reduced level of obesity because they were generally built with the pedestrian in mind and not cars,” said Ken Smith, a co-author of the study and professor in the department of family and consumer studies at the University of Utah. “This means they have trees, sidewalks and offer a pleasant environment in which to walk.”

Sharon Astyk: Everything you need to know, in order - part II

Ok, I’m going to try and work some more on the list of necessary skills. So five more entries on this subject - and more coming. Last time was the absolute minimum - but I’m still working on a list of everything you might ever need to know.

The Rise of Agri-Powers

AGRICULTURAL POWERS - those self sufficient in food, fabric, and hydrocarbon production - once were unambiguously regarded as strategic powers. This has been true throughout history: societies which were not agriculturally efficient and abundant could never long or fully sustain strategic power. Now, once again, a new set of nations is likely to emerge in the 21st Century with significant regional, if not global, influence demonstrably based on their agricultural capacity and their ability to match capital, productive land, and emerging technology on a scale which was not possible in the past. These emerging "agri-powers" are benefitting from trends making agricultural commodities more strategically important, and will gain from having a significant agricultural base.

Unlike the second half of the 20th Century, the global strategic environment is set to become more fluid, and the criteria which marked "middle-power" status, such as access to sophisticated military technology, is likely to become less overwhelming in importance. Even the term itself will lose its relevancy as dozens of nations fulfil the original definition of a traditional middle- power.

Saudi Arabia to keep fuel oil exports on ice after summer

SINGAPORE: Saudi Aramco won't sell any spot fuel oil after its peak summer demand season, on rising requirements from domestic utilities and new secondary refining units, traders said on Tuesday. Saudi Arabia's state oil firm, which typically offers at least two 80,000 tonne parcels of fuel oil onto the spot export market monthly outside the summer period, will absorb these parcels for its domestic market.

This could further tighten the fuel oil crack against Dubai crude, which has halved since the start of the month on prospects of smaller flows from the West. "We are hearing that they will not be offering the usual one or two cargoes in the spot market because of growing domestic demand from the power sector," a Singapore-based fuel oil trader said.

As Middle East oil-producing economies surge, their demand for utility fuel used by industries has ballooned. Demand for electricity across the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is growing at an annual rate of around 8 percent. Gas projects have failed to keep up with demand for electricity production.

ANALYSIS-Asian fuel oil feels heat of tightening supply

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - The perennially oversupplied Asian fuel oil market may change into one of the tightest in the next five years, as a massive programme of refinery upgrades cuts supplies and Middle East demand surges.

This will cut supplies available for the fuel oil-driven utility sector in South China, the manufacturing hub in a booming country already at risk of a power crunch this summer due to low coal stocks.

Gulf airlines don't feel the pinch

As carriers from American Airlines to Thai Airway International are responding to a new era of high oil prices by shedding jobs, culling routes and grounding aircraft, Middle Eastern carriers are expanding as fast as they can in hopes of redefining their region as the aviation crossroads of the globe.

"There is no sign of a crisis there," said Thomas Enders, the chief executive of Airbus, during an interview shortly before handing over the jet to the sheik. "These airlines are on a very impressive growth path and expansion course; they are steering a steady course while others are experiencing more difficulties."

Are women behind the wheel driving Saudi reform?

Could Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah finally live up to his reformer reputation and issue a clear decree allowing women to drive? Reformers speculate that it might happen by the end of the year or even, as one hopeful woman activist told me last week, by Saudi National Day on September 23.

Putin steps up attacks on Russian coal company

MOSCOW: Prime Minister Vladimir Putin of Russia on Monday made a new attack on the coal miner Mechel, saying it had evaded taxes, erasing a third of the company's market value for the second time in a week.

The Kremlin, however, was more conciliatory toward the company, which is the largest Russian coking coal miner, leaving investors and analysts guessing whether the first discord with Putin's new government was genuine or a political game.

Rising prices, shifting gears

We're using more energy to extract oil, which means the oil is going to be more expensive. The tar sands in Alberta, the ultimate reason so many New Brunswickers have moved to that province, have been developed so much over the past five years because the price of oil is high. Prior to that, because that oil is difficult to extract, the tar sands weren't as profitable.

Oil may finally fall in line with reality

NEW DELHI: Higher oil prices are their own enemy: demand destruction caused by spiking energy costs will bring down global crude prices, stepped up production lending a helping hand.

The New Noah

Finally, my new book “The New Noah” is published! 12 months in the writing and six months to get it published! (Maybe another blog there).

The New Noah tries to tell “IT” how I see “IT” ... and it is BAAD!

Worried about Climate Change? Peak Oil? Credit Crunch? You should be! The New Noah goes through the challenges that face us, and concludes that it will end our way of life in the next few years.

Depending on elders

There are still people around who know how to do the things Grandpa Stamper knew, people with manual skills and local knowledge. And he wasn’t perfect — Grandma Stamper would have told you that. I don’t mean to idealize his generation just because their lives were different. But I do think we need to look about us and take stock of what we may be missing in our daily rush toward the future. Especially because certain aspects of the future may turn out to look a lot more like the past than we can imagine. How much generational know-how is not being passed on? What happens when we’ve lost our link with the people who really have “been there, done that”?

Calif. Field Goes from Rush To Reflection of Global Limits

The United States is at the leading edge of what may lie ahead for worldwide oil production. Global petroleum output is still rising, but the rate of growth is slowing. Supply is not increasing fast enough to keep up with soaring global demand, putting ever more upward pressure on oil prices.

New technology is opening virgin areas for exploration -- especially off the shores of Brazil, the west coast of Africa and the Gulf Coast of the United States -- and extending the lives of older fields. But elsewhere, war and other political obstacles are impeding the development of prospects that would otherwise be the most accessible and cheapest to exploit.

Even if these fields become fully available, many oil experts warn that the world's production will hit a peak soon if it hasn't already. With the exception of Iraq's, most of the "easy oil" in large reservoirs close to the surface is gone. Mexico's biggest field, Cantarell, is in steep decline. Indonesia has become a net oil importer, withdrawing from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries as output from its largest fields has slipped and new discoveries have lagged. Production in the North Sea is plummeting, and Russian output is hitting a plateau.

Future discoveries may not turn the tide. New deepwater fields peak fast and then decline because of their unique geology. Deepwater prospects and fields of heavy oil, like those already being exploited in western Canada and Venezuela, are expensive and energy-intensive to develop.

Cost at pump dips as demand, oil prices fall

Don't expect to see prices below $3 any time soon. Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst for the Oil Price Information Service, expects average gas prices to fall to about $3.85 later this summer. The wholesale price of gasoline is now $3 to $3.20, Kloza says. Gas at the retail level typically sells for 60 to 70 cents a gallon more than the wholesale price, so he expects pump prices to fall further.

Rush for Natural Gas Enriches Corner of the South

A no-holds-barred, all-American gold rush for natural gas is under way in this forgotten corner of the South, and De Soto Parish, with its fat check from a large energy company this month, is only the latest and largest beneficiary. The county leaders and everyone around them, for mile after mile, over to Texas and up to Arkansas, in the down-at-the-heels city of Shreveport and in its struggling neighbors, suddenly find themselves sitting on what could prove to be the largest natural gas deposit in the continental United States.

OPEC chief says current oil prices 'abnormal'

JAKARTA (AFP) - Crude oil prices above 120 dollars a barrel are "abnormal" and could fall to around 78 dollars under the right circumstances, OPEC President Chakib Khelil said here Tuesday.

"If the dollar continues to strengthen and the political situation (regarding Iran) improves, then the long-term prices will be about 78 dollars," Khelil told reporters in Jakarta, adding the market was well-supplied with oil.

Shell announces export cuts after militants attack oil pipeline in Nigeria

LAGOS, Nigeria: Royal Dutch Shell PLC said Tuesday it may not be able to fulfill some oil-export contracts after Nigerian militants sabotaged a pipeline in the Niger Delta.

Fuel prices force schools to weigh class, staff cuts

Fuel and energy costs are rising so quickly for the USA's public school districts that nearly one in seven is considering cutting back to four-day weeks this fall. One in four is considering limits on athletics and other extracurricular activities, and nearly one in three is eliminating teaching jobs.

In the first detailed look at how fuel costs are affecting schools, a survey by the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) finds 99% of superintendents contacted say they're feeling the pinch — and 77% say they're not getting any help from their state.

"No question that schools are being impacted here," says Steven Crawford, executive director of the Cooperative Council of Oklahoma School Administration. "The price of fuel has impacted everybody's budget."

Gas prices drive push to reinvent America's suburbs

What Maricopa has been doing is unusual, especially for a distant suburb. This city about 35 miles south of Phoenix is asking builders not to develop just isolated subdivisions behind walls, but whole communities that encourage walking by including stores, schools and services nearby.

"The people of Maricopa don't want to be a bedroom community, a city of rooftops," Smith says. "They want a self-sustained community."

Especially today. As gas prices hover around $4 a gallon, the nation's far-flung suburbs — which have boomed because they could provide larger homes at cheaper prices to those willing to drive farther — are losing their appeal.

Soaring energy costs and the foreclosure epidemic have jolted many Americans into realizing that their lifestyles are at risk. For many, ever-lengthening commutes in the search for affordable homes no longer make financial sense.

In Maricopa and elsewhere, a movement is underway to transform suburbs from bedroom communities that sprang up during an era of cheap gasoline to lively, more cosmopolitan places that mix houses with jobs, shops, restaurants, colleges and entertainment.

Indonesia sees 20 pct of coal power plants by 2009

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia's state power firm, PT Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN), is set to bring on stream 2,000 megawatts of new power plants in 2009, or a fifth of a crash plan to build coal-fired plants, an official said on Tuesday.

Climate Experts Tussle Over Details. Public Gets Whiplash.

When science is testing new ideas, the result is often a two-papers-forward-one-paper-back intellectual tussle among competing research teams.

When the work touches on issues that worry the public, affect the economy or polarize politics, the news media and advocates of all stripes dive in. Under nonstop scrutiny, conflicting findings can make news coverage veer from one extreme to another, resulting in a kind of journalistic whiplash for the public.

This has been true for decades in health coverage. But lately the phenomenon has been glaringly apparent on the global warming beat.

Even if these fields become fully available, many oil experts warn that the world's production will hit a peak soon if it hasn't already. With the exception of Iraq's, most of the "easy oil" in large reservoirs close to the surface is gone. Mexico's biggest field, Cantarell, is in steep decline. Indonesia has become a net oil importer, withdrawing from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries as output from its largest fields has slipped and new discoveries have lagged. Production in the North Sea is plummeting, and Russian output is hitting a plateau.

This Washington Post article is prominently featured on the front page of the print edition. I think we can safely say the peak oil meme is mainstream.

Eh. Not bad, but as usual, they hedge their bets:

The prophet of limited supply is Matthew Simmons, a voluble Houston-based consultant who says the world hit its sustainable peak oil level in May 2005. He argues that even Saudi Arabia's super-giant Ghawar field -- with original reserves of 82 billion barrels and covering a 160-by-30-mile expanse -- is in decline. A self-labeled "Darth Vader of darkness," he travels the world and preaches his message in presentations to investors, military officers and Chinese officials.

According to his philosophy of "peak oil," supply is so tight that the price of oil, even at its current level, is still too low. He predicts it is headed to $500 a barrel.

At the other end of the debate is Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi, a voice of optimism. "I am bullish about the role of technology in meeting future and current needs," Naimi said at a meeting in Washington. "Tight conditions in oil markets have caused some observers to speculate that oil supplies are at or near their peak," he said. "I believe such views are short-sighted and ignore the extent to which technology has enabled us to find and produce oil." If technology enables the portion of oil recoverable from Saudi fields to rise 1 percent, he noted, that would amount to 3.5 billion barrels, or about a year's worth of Saudi production.

I know. The media does this all the time. There is an implication that the truth lies somewhere inbetween. Ultimately though each person's argument must be subjected to scrutiny and evaluated on the merits (the kind of thing that happens here). But the media doesn't seem quite ready take those steps.

If you read the comments associated with the article, it is even more depressing. Lots of partisan bickering (I guess that is to be expected). And there are lots of people who read a bunch of garbage on the internet, and then consider themselves to be informed.

Agree and that is why I read blogs. Positions on both sides are put to the test and reasonable minds can decide for themselves who is making sense and who is just talking.

A quick reply to Saudi's position would be:

So a 1% improvement in recovery gives another year of oil.

Does it increase the amount of oil production? Does it say anything about what happens if we pull that extra year of oil quicker on the front end, what happens to the decline rate on the back end? High decline rates are not fun--talk to Mexico about that.

This hedging of bets is know as, "balanced reporting", a staple instructive at every school of journalism.

If you are going to investigate, educate, offend, or offer authenticity, you must cancel-out and/or make amends for your truth seeking by counterpoint, real or contrived.

Exactly damfino. I'd like to know how presenting both sides of the argument are "hedging their bets" as well. Otherwise it would simply be propaganda.

I think you misunderstood damfino's post.

Hmmm, maybe, but anyway my position is that both sides of the issue should be presented in any objective article. Are you suggesting however in your original post that the Washington post should have simply left out the argument on the other side of the issue?

I think the time comes when you have to take a side. That point has arrived with global warming. Most papers don't bother presenting the "other side" of AGW any more.

Do you think WaPo should give equal time to the theory that the earth is flat?

In cases like this, they'll still not listen. Golden Mean isn't a logical fallacy for journalists who likely get their income from paid advertisements off companies who have vested interests in this news never breaking, or at least, being taken seriously for now.

TAD would rather postpone making a decision until he is forced to shove an old lady overboard and climb into the lifeboat.

It is also possible that he doesn't have sufficient experience or information to make an informed choice. All he sees are "experts" who disagree, so he plays it safe and doesn't make a call at all. It takes time to really dig into it in detail and see who is just blowing smoke and who has the hard data to back up what they are saying.

The problem is that the media aren't making the smell test (does side B's argument make sense, to someone with more than a passing acquaintance with the issue?). In fact the media don't even try to screen out reasonable criticism from pure BS. And when they present two sides in a political debate, and one side resorts to clear easily proven lies, they just let that slide by as well.

This comment from the former owner of the Washington Post shows their real purpose:

All the President's Men is a wonderful work of fiction.

"We live in a dirty and dangerous world. There are some things the general public does not need to know and shouldn't. I believe democracy flourishes when the government can take legitimate steps to keep its secrets, and when the press can decide whether to print what it knows."
-- Katharine Graham at a 1988 speech at CIA headquarters


confusion avoidance:

The quote from Graham is in quotes.

All the Presidents Men as fiction is not in quotes (and not her comment).

By the time the media acknowledges Peak Oil is real the elites will have already gotten their plans in place. I don't expect them to urge citizens to convert lawns to gardens or to recommend that the resources given to the military industrial complex should be used for mitigating the energy and environmental crises.

I think the politics of P.O. make the discussion and subsquent debate even more complicated. I will endeavor
to draw a correlation. When the world was of the two
predominant political ideologies of communism and democracy,there was the argument and debate about which gave workers and citizens a better life. When the USSR fell the debate was over, and the democratic
USA didnt feel the need to continue to give artificial concessions to its workers and citizens after the USSR fell,because it felt that its workers now had no other
choice and it wouldnt be necessary.
As P.O. now becomes main stream and an accepted fact,
It's movement will also suffer as democracy has turned
evermore totalitarian and less free....so too will P.O.
become corrupted and constrained.
When P.O. becomes main stream and accepted and the debate seems won, the real battle is just beginning.
The intelligentcia and founders of the movement will be
erased from public memory. The govermental
leaders will act like they brought the proletariat to the ball and the dance will begin again.
Already the MSM is accepting the fundamentals of PO and
the MSM is nothing more then the official spokesperson
for the goverments globally. The goverments will grasp
the standard as soon as they see the proles grasping
the understanding of P.O.
Heck!!!....for all I know,this site is run by Cheney
right now.

Hmmm, maybe, but anyway my position is that both sides of the issue should be presented in any objective article.

This is not "objectivity," it's being non-committal.

Objective scientific journals don't regularly feature the Creationist "side" of the evolution theory.

Journalistic "objectivity" is a sham. Not taking a point of view is a cop-out, a way of not offending advertisers.

both sides of the issue should be presented in any objective article.

Only if both sides are equally valid (or invalid).

If a 1% increase in recovery of OOIP is 3.5 billion barrels, then isnt Original Oil In Place 350 billion barrels??

I thought it was 700 billion barrels??

See the piece on Oil Drum Europe.

Every place these guys step now is a cowpie.


Something to bear in mind Fractional_Flow: applying a percentage to OOIP to guess what might be gained from secondary recovery efforts is futile IMHO. Every field that ever had a potential for secondary recover has had such efforts taken. There are many fields, especially the very large ones, that have been under secondary (and, in some cases, tertiary) recovery for over 40 years. If someone wants to speculate on additional recovery from these fields they are essentially speculating on new recovery techniques that have yet to be developed. There will always be some fields that can justify extra efforts especially when you hit a price spike. But there have been many price spike and technology advances over the last 60 years. Saying that we can recover an extra 1% or 5% of all OOIP is like the old saying "If frogs had wings.....” . I've been doing secondary recovery for over 30 years...I know a bit about it.

A question for the expert: If you've spent decades flooding your fields with water, doesn't that sort of eliminate any possibility of using other secondary or tertiary enhancement techniques?

Thanks for the "expert" nod. No one that works with me would call me that. A water flood is a secondary recovery method. And yes, I've seen some folks try additional tertiary efforts (usually pumping in some chemical with the water) and these seldom ever add much but they are relatively cheap to do and, thus, are economically viable.

And, yes, that’s was my point: if you try to estimate increased recovery by secondary methods from fields that have already undergone secondary recovery you doing worse than double dipping. You're using not only the original recovery volume but also that gained from the secondary efforts. I can't speak for the rest of the world but I know Texas fairly well. And there are very few fields of size that haven't undergone serious water flooding or other secondary recovery methods for most of their lives. The only opportunities would be with relatively new oil fields and there just aren't many of those around these days. Bottom line: speculating about significantly increasing global recovery via secondary recovery methods is wasted breath (IMHO). Been there...done that...got the t-shirt...and now looking for something else to do.

miscible co2 flooding has been used "successfully" in a number of areas in mature waterfloods to mobilize additional oil. notably fields in the permian basin, rangley field in colorado, wertz and lost soilder in wyoming and more recently anadarko is claiming 7000 bopd incremental from co2 at salt creek, wyoming( i doubt one will find a more mature field than that*).

financing is a major obstacle.

*see "the teapot dome scandal" by laton mccartney for details.

Good point elwood. I was drilling in WY when they began laying that big CO2 pipeline into the area. A lot of those old field suddenly became a lot more valuable. But, as you know, there are just so many opportunities like that out there.


what's up with clr ? they were down about $10 at one time this am.


I bought the Sep 50 calls at 9.

I think it was a real gift.

They beat earnings, the main beancounter who got them through the IPO resigned, but they are hitting on all 8 cylinders.

Made 31,000 BOPD for the quarter Harold Hamm says they will exit year at 43,000 BOPD.

Conference call was all about the great wells they are hitting. Increasing to 35 rigs running.


Ah, but let's put this in context to what was out in the MSM 3 yrs. ago, 2 yrs. ago, last year. At least the discussion is getting to where it needs to be and the talking heads cannot avoid discussing it. They may keep explaining it away until the "price point" makes even that impossible to explain away.

Note the characterization of the two opposites. "Prophet and Darth Vader" vs. "voice" as in voice of reason. Yes, folks, the Peak Oil community is a religious movement which attends daily services at the Church of The Oil Drum otherwise known as the Church of What is Peaking Now. Today's services feature West Texas, our pastor of The Cult of The Export Land Model.

otherwise known as the Church of What is Peaking Now.

Here is What is Peaking Now. Denialism, ignorance, lack of critical thinking skills... the list is quite extensive.

I think we've got quite a way to go before Denial, Ignorance, lack of critical thinking skills etc Peak.

Just this morning I saw a woman on Q & A ask why Australia was going ahead with an ETS, when 'no one' else in the world has done so and when it would' cripple' our economy...

The author of the series has a blog...


and he has a live chat today at noon Eastern:


The thing about the series is that they still seem to be afraid to draw too many conclusions. They talk about peaking but they don't say much about what happens on the other side. They don't mention the Hirsch report.

I guess we will see what kind of note the series ends on when we get to the end when they talk about "alternatives".

The chat is kind of interesting:

San Diego, Calif.: Sounds like a peak in daily supply is on the horizon, maybe in 2010-2012. What ramifications would this have?

Steven Mufson: I wouldn't want to put a date on peak production. (Matt Simmons thinks we're past it; others think it's still many years off.) There are many prospects still out there.

But even if the remaining oil is just harder to find and more expensive to produce, that has ramifications. I think the increase in inflation and huge flows of money to oil producing countries are some of the ramifications a peak in oil would have and we're getting a taste of that now.

I had a few questions of my own, but he never got to them. Figures..

Sounds like that guy needs to a bit more research before spouting off in in an internet chat session...I'll ask the traditional TOD question: do you have facts/figures/documentation to back your opinion? You don't? It's just a WAG? Too bad. Guess it's good enough for the MSM.

Look at it this way. Remember the day you first heard about peak oil?? Remember your reaction? Most people probably were in denial when they first heard about it. "Can't be true". "Someone made a mistake in their numbers", "There has to be a fix of some sort". Etc, etc. Note that it is one thing to admit that a peak exists in some abstract sense off in the future, and quite another to admit that it may be near.

And then, how long did it take before you finally accepted the reality of a peak in your lifetime?

Remember the day you first heard about peak oil?? Remember your reaction?

Yes: "well, of course - it's a finite resource, so it's got to peak sometime. People say it's now? Let's see what the numbers say..."

There is a world of positions between the extremes of denial and doomerism.

And then, how long did it take before you finally accepted the reality of a peak in your lifetime?

About 0.3 seconds - it seemed highly likely the moment I considered it.

The point of contention is generally not "will oil peak?" - everyone agrees with that. Almost everyone agrees it'll happen before 2050, too, which is "soon" to a certain degree.

The point of contention is "what will peak oil mean?"

I don't see people disagreeing when doomers say "peak will happen". They disagree when doomers give their prediction for what peak oil will mean for society.

Very few doomers have good predictive records (see Kunstler on Y2K, for example), so it should hardly be surprising that they don't always have great luck convincing people to believe their predictions. It's a mistake to confuse that with people refusing to believe in peak oil, though.

I love this song:

Tower of Power "Only so much oil in the ground"


Mainland holds working interest in four contiguous sections of the East Holly Field. It has a 100% stake in the first section, a 98% stake in the second section and approximately a 75% stake in the two remaining sections. The Company also owns a 16.67% working interest in two other sections. Chesapeake Energy Corporation holds the remaining 83.33% stake of the two sections. Based on well bore analysis, actual production tests, mud logging and other measures from wells located around its leases, Mainland anticipates its test wells in the East Holly Field will be productive. Historically, gas volumes from surrounding wells have ranged from 2 bcf to a high of 32 bcf per section.

"In June 2008, the Company staked the location of its initial Haynesville Shale test well to be drilled to a depth of 12,500 feet. Mainland has hired the OPS Group of Houston as its operator and has directed OPS to proceed with permitting. Schlumberger's new Haynesville Shale evaluation software will be used to help select the interval that will be penetrated and then developed by drilling a 4,000 foot horizontal leg off of the vertical well. The Company has approved budget expenditures of $8.5 million to cover the cost of drilling, completing and commencing production from its first well. Mainland has already raised $4 million through an equity private placement and is in the process of raising another $5 million through a debt financing. Drilling on the first well, known as the Griffith #1-H well and located in the East Holly Field, is scheduled to begin in July 2008.

Haynesville Shale may be the largest natural gas find in North American history"


So is this Shale more productive than Barnett or Fayetteville?



We're about to drill our first Haynesville Shale horizontal. The play does have legs but we're still a long way from a general characterzation. Each trend has its own unique character. There are general drilling and completion methods that are modified as the play progresses. And obvious a play that covers such a large area will have sweet spots and dog patches. Give it about 2 or 3 years to show its general potential. As you might guess companies put our big press releases on the great wells and barely mention the poor ones: IMHO, don't judge the play by the headlines

Thanks for the reply, Rock.

Is Haynesville considered part of the Bossier Sands?


I can't print the map, but it shows the Perryville Hub
of the Boardwalk/Texas Gas/Centerpoint Group pipeline expansion.

Would you rank the 4 plays in order of potential?

Fayetteville, Barnett, Haynesville, Bossier Sands.

Again, thanx much,


Can't answer the first one James...company policy. I would have to rank the HS as last just because it's so new. As far as which are most profitable, which will have the biggest supply impact, etc: I just can't guess. Too many details missing from my view.

I can honestly say: Bienville parish is paying off very well for me. That field seems to be very large. Are you with Hunter Energy?

Nope...I consult for one of the big independents. I am glad to see those Yankess north of I-10 making some money now (I grew up in New Orleans).


Too early to tell.


Thank you.

What I thought, but the leasing is in the $1000's per acre.

Are Barnett leases comparable?

Thank you.



I haven't heard about lease prices in the Barnett lately. These days most of the ownership expansion has been through acquisition of existing leases or entire companies. Usually the land speculators jump in early and tie up big blocks. This has already happened in part of the Bakken. XTO just paid around $5 billion for a big block of leases and some production in the Bakken. There's an old oil patch saying about the land speculators: "They roll into town with the first wagon of whores and roll out before the first wagon of drill pipe arrives." Sorry if I offended any of you ladies....we were a crusty bunch way back in the day.

Usually the land speculators jump in early and tie up big blocks.

Maverick did this in the Reelfoot Embayment/E AR.

Then drilled two wells and went out of bizness.

I think Chesapeake has the leases now.

That was 3 1/2 years ago.

but all of those leases are coming up for renewal
and no one is drilling East of White County AR/Fayetteville Shale

Which is why I'm curious about how easy Haynesville is
compared to White County, AR.

State leases in Desoto Parish went for $13,500 an acre in the last auction. I am hearing offers up to $20,000 an acre with 25% royalty in Red River parish.
Chesapeake announced recently they had enough acreage for 6,850 well locations.
I drilled a dozen or so shallow wells in this area during the late
1970's early 80's and I still watch what is going on in the area. This was one of the poorest areas in the country until this boom started. Old time settlers on 80 acre tracts are getting lease checks that make them instant millionaires. I going to go out on a limb with this statement, but if this continues it will equal the great boom that occurred in the 1930's with the discovery of the "Black Giant", the great East Texas oilfield.
As to reserves, Chesapeake is stating reserves in excess of double per well of the Barnett shale. The units at this point look like a checkerboard and are 640 acres. They will eventually be drilled on 80 acre spacing.
These are mind boggling "in your wildest dreams" numbers and the future will prove the truth. These are public companies and their goal is to increase the stock price.
The DNR in Louisiana now estimates the play to go east almost to the Mississippi river and if memory serves correct, to be around 4 million acres. Again buyer beware.

Thank you, boby.

25% royalty in Red River parish.

Chesapeake is stating reserves in excess of double per well of the Barnett shale.

They will eventually be drilled on 80 acre spacing.

So will drillers be diverting equipment from Barnett, Fayetteville,
or expanding into them?

James, as far as rigs go the drilling contractors have finally let go their bad memories of the last oil bust and are building rigs as fast as possible. But same old story: a lot easier to slap steel together than to find experienced hands to work the rigs. Should see the finger loss count running up pretty soon.

Around here there were stories about 8-10 years ago about all the new field workers being immigrants with no expertise. Likely that will be the case again, and the lost fingers will be "invisible"?

Are there no automated rigs yet that somehow mechanize the more dangerous aspects of drill pipe handling? I would think with personnel, insurance, and legal costs that would make a lot of sense.


Haven't seen immigrant workers on US rigs yet but there are a few Mex. crews around. About 20 years ago one of the best small rig crews I ever worked with were Mex. Over seas is another story. Last year I drilled off the coast of Africa. It's affordable to fly US expats over on a rotating basis but not floor hands. we were using locals for that. In 33 years I've never been as nervous on a rig. ExxonMobil finally had to shut down operations for a day to get their attention. There had been an increasing number of near misses which means they were getting close to killing someone. It wasn't so much ignorance but just a complete lack of concern for saftey. Perhaps a macho thing but it was difficult to keep gloves and saftey glasses on them. I wouldn't even go on the rig floor but I almost got wacked by a falling oxygen tank one day because it wasn't chained off when the moved it with the crane.

But you're quit right about the liability issue. No one outside the industry would beleive the money and effort spent by the companies (esp. ExxonMobil et al) trying to keep folks safe and protecting the environment. And those efforts don't even have to be judged as "doing the right thing"...it's just a cost effective way of dealing with a very serious and expensive issue.

And , yep, Paleocon, they have pipe handling equipment on offshore rigs and big land rigs but they can take a hand off too if your not careful. On the small rigs they still "throw a chain" to make connections: the big source of lost fingers. The biggest lethal threat is still getting crushed by something: just lots of big heavy stuff always moving around on a rig. Fortunately I usually work in a small metal box and never go on the rig floor unless it's absolutely necessary. I'm mostly likely to be hurt sticking myself with a fork in the galley.

But same old story: a lot easier to slap steel together than to find experienced hands to work the rigs. Should see the finger loss count running up pretty soon.

Boy you got that right ROCKMAN, the same thing is happening in the mining business. You would probably recognize some of the ham-handed morons at the rig controls I have been seeing lately. Getting a rig is hard, getting a driller who knows how to run it - priceless. Poaching other companies' drillers has become a major pass time.

"Should see the finger loss count running up pretty soon."

ouch ! that hurts. that really hurts.

I know for fact that drilling companies that were under multi-year contracts here in east texas are not renewing on expiration with the present operator and heading to Louisiana. There is only so much equipment out there and it is going to the highest bidder.

I've been skeptical of the reserves that some of the operators in the Barnett Shale have been touting. If I am not mistaken, a lot of the major players in the field peg their average per-well reserves at about 3 BCF.

The Texas RRC reported 8191 producing wells in the Barnett Shale in May 2008. Monthly production was 67,719,691 MCF or an average of 267 MCFGPD per well. Cumulative production since 1993 (there were 121 producing wells in the field in Jan 1993, 582 in Jan 2000) has been 3.826 TCF or an average of .456 BCFG per well. That leaves 2.544 BCF per well to be produced to achieve total recovery of 3.0 BCF per well. This means that at current production rates, you're looking at over 25 years to produce that other 2.544 BCF.

But this assumes the wells will continue to produce at their current rates over the next 25 years. Given that prodution for the field has fallen from 88.4 BCF in Nov 07 to 67.7 BCF in May 08 (which also includes production from new wells brought on stream between those dates), this does not seem to be a realistic expectation.

Actually DownSouth those numbers may be close to the truth. Two things to remember about the play. The early wells were really engineering experiments more than geologic tests. Folks have known there were hydrocarbons there for a long time. But getting them out economically was the challenge. The big learning curve was on the fracturing efforts. They also learned that fracturing a well several years after it was first produced often increase flow rates/ult recovery. This learning curve took a good 4 or 5 years. As far as ult recovering coming from a 25 year period that may well be true. While a well might produce 2 to 4 million cubic ft initially they decline quickly (a couple of years) and then may drop down to just 5% of its initial flow rate. There have been wells in a similar play in the eastern US that produced for over 50 years but at very low but commercial rates. The way company calculate economic value of a drilling proposal weights very heavily on the near term production…the first few years. This is what determines how quickly they recover their investment and determines their rate of return for the most part. Essential the value of production after 7 or 8 years is almost zero in this type of analysis. The reason companies are jumping all over these resource plays is that high initial production rate and not the size of ult recovery.

I've often thought that maybe these resourse plays are the oil industry's answer to banking industry's "subprime" loans, or in other words, they're a promoter's (Wall Street Investment Banker's) wet dream. While they may indeed make an oil company's financials look good for a year or two during flush production, what are the long-term prospects?

These wells, because of the horizontal leg and the massive fracture treatments they require, are extremely expensive. It's my understanding the average Barnett Shale horizontal well currently costs something like $3 to $3.5 million to drill. (The well cited in the comment that began this discussion, which is in another play, is projected to cost $8.5 million).

Current gas price is about $9 per MCF. Assuming royalty of 25% and production cost of 20%, that leaves about $5 per MCF net to the producer. Or in other words, .7 BCF under these paramaters would be required to pay out the $3.5 million expenditure. The average Barnett Shale well has produced far short of that, having produced only .5 BCF, and at current average production rates of .1 BCF per year per well is still at least a couple of years shy of payout.

I certainly don't know enough about these plays to make a sound economic analysis, and the doubling of gas prices can certainly compensate for many sins, but just looking at the law of averages I haven't seen anything so far that makes me anything but skeptical about these resourse plays.


At $7 per mcf the gas resource plays do work well but only because of the high initial flow rates. One can't take the averages as an indication of profitability since the flow rate drops off so quickly. Most of the promoters are long gone from the Barnett these days. The majority of activity is driven by public oils drilling for their own accounts. They wouldn’t be drilling if they weren’t reaching payout quickly enough on average. But you're analogy to sub prime loans is excellent. During the late 70's I watched a company (Union Texas) effectively commit corporate suicide by drilling over 600 SUCCESSFUL oil wells in the Austin Chalk trend in TX. Similar production profile: very high initial flow rates and a rapid decline. Often they would produce oil while they were still drilling the well. Some wells would reach payout in a month or two. But, with the rapid decline rates, the company had to drill more wells faster and faster. Being a public company their stock shot straight up as their reserve base grew so fast. But eventually the entire play was drilled up and they didn’t have anywhere to drill fast enough to make up for the declining reserve base. Before you could blink Wall Street turned away from them, the stock went into the cellar and they were eventually sold for scrap. Every public company in the resource plays knows this story very well. They are essentially following the motto of the French Foreign Legion (btw…one of my personal favorites): MARCH OR DIE.


Thanks for the Union Texas analogy. A repeat of that scenario is exactly what I see potentially happening to many of those operators who are currently heavy into resource plays.

I don't know if you caught the World Oil articles posted below by JonFreise, but according to one of those, "approximately 28% of Barnett Shale wells should realize revenues that meet or exceed drilling, completion and operating costs in the most likely case based on assumptions incorporated into a 10% net present value (NPV 10 ) economic model." And, as the author goes on to explain, he used very optimistic assumptions in his calculations. Will the 28% of the wells that prove economicically feasible compensate for the 72% that are not? The average production from the 8000+ Barnett Shale wells that have been drilled to date would seem to indicate the answer to that question is "no."

Of course the wild card here is the price of gas. He used $6.25 per MMBTU, and prices have since soared way above this level. As I said earlier, the rapid rise in the price of natural gas will compensate for many sins.

But what happens if gas prices stabilize? Or fall back to $6.25 per MCF? In this regard, it is pertinent to point out that natural gas is not nearly so fungible a commodity as petroleum and therefore is much more captive to the vagaries of the local North American market.

Personally, if natural gas prices remain stable, I see these resourse plays as llittle more than a sophisticated Ponzi scheme. Initial production rates are very high. And things look great as long as the number of new wells entering the production mix continues to grow. But the number of new wells required grows greater and greater as time progresses. And the day those new wells stop entering the production stream is the day the whole scheme collapses in upon itself.

So the problem is not that once a company embarks down this road it must MARCH or DIE, but that it must progressiveley march faster and faster or die.

Of course if the executives of these companies, just as was the case with the banks, can keep the Ponzi scheme going long enough they can reap hundreds of millions of dollars in salaries and bonuses. Are you aware of XTO's executive compensation package?

And at the end of the day, it is the investors who end up getting the shaft.

Such are the pitfalls (and results) of the current Wall Street practice of separating the economic rewards of management from those of the investors.

Here is a piece from World Oil on decline rates and well lifetimes:

There were a few readers who objected to using a four-year average well life in the economic model that I presented. One reader even suggested that I should have used 30-year well lives for the Fayetteville Shale. The longest production history in the Fayetteville play is 25 months and the average well has been producing for under seven months. I, therefore, investigated longer well histories from the Barnett Shale where 320 horizontal wells have been producing gas for at least two years (the longest production history is 68 months). The three longest-lived of these are currently producing at rates that are below lease operating costs. While it is impossible to predict how Fayetteville wells will perform in the long term, I doubt that a reserve certification group would go beyond what the current data and reasonable production analogies support.


And another article that discusses cutoff flow rate


Gail posted this graph which shows average per well reserve by non-conventional type:

from Her comment

Thank you JonFreise for the links. I had not seen these articles.

One quote from the World Oil story on the Barnett Shale caught my eye:

We further believe that these assumptions are supported by Chesapeake Energy’s recent curtailing of gas production in the Barnett Shale and other producing areas because of unfavorable economics at current natural gas prices.

It appears somebody at Chesapeake is trying to blow smoke up somebody's rear. This article was written in Nov 07, and here's Chesapeak's production from the Barnett Shale for 07 and 08 from the Texas Railroad Commission:

Jan 07-7.7 BCF
Feb 07-7.0
Mar 07-8.1
Apr 07-8.4
May 07-8.7
Jun 07-8.6
Jul 07-9.2
Aug 07-10.4
Sep 07-10.6
Oct 07-12.4
Nov 07-11.9
Dec 07-11.4
Jan 08-10.6
Feb 08-9.5
Mar 08-9.3
Apr 08-8.4
May 08-8.3

Avg Monthly Spot Gas Prices Henry Hub

Jan 2007-$6.55
Feb 2007-$7.98
Mar 2007-$7.10
Apr 2007-$7.59
May 2007-$7.63
Jun 2007-$7.36
Jul 2007-$6.21
Aug 2007-$6.23
Sep 2007-$6.08
Oct 2007-$6.80
Nov 2007-$7.14
Dec 2007-$7.14
Jan 2008-$7.98
Feb 2008-$8.55
Mar 2008-$9.44
Apr 2008-$10.13
May 2008-$11.26

My point is that if Chesapeak had its wells deliberately choked back in November 07 when the story was written because of "unfavorable economics at current natural gas prices," then why didn't it unchoke them when gas prices soared to $8.55 in February? To $11.26 in May? Surely it made sense to sell more gas at those prices, and yet we see Chesapeak's Barnett Shale production steadily decline as gas prices soared!

It's this kind of dissimulation that destroys any and all credibility that this company's executives might have. I'm sure the person that made this bogus claim never dreamed at the time he made it that the price of natural gas would soar 60% in the next six months. Personally, I believe these guys will say just about anything to boost their stock price and therefore collect their multi-million dollar bonuses, and screw the stockholders.

Glad to help. I am trying to piece together a view of what is happening with natural gas. I appreciate your taking the time to point out the RRC database.

The Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission publishes similar production figures...


and other states probably do so as well.

Sounds like more fun that speculating on oil futures.

If you drill a few thousand foot long horizontal well aren't you taking someone elses gas? Do mineral rights have to be obtained for the surrounding area?

"If you drill a few thousand foot long horizontal well aren't you taking someone elses gas? "

you might well be. in the us, nearly every state is a "rule of capture" state, which means someone else can capture your gas or you can capture someone elses gas. the state regulatory authority can help you capture your gas by approving drilling permits( i actually heard this quoted by oil and gas commissioners in both colorado and wyoming).

the wells are not allowed to be drilled onto someone elses land, but the gas will migrate to the wells because the pressure is lower around the producing the well.

Hey..elwood...if you have a couple of hours to spare why don't you explain how Louisiana handles right of capture. (smirk) You gotta love that Napolianic code.

yes la is an exception as far as i know.

rule of capture is based on old english common law where it was legal to capture game that was crossing your land. that was about the only analog lawmakers had at the time of early oil developement.

la law is based, as far as i know on the french model, nes pas ?

You got neon. You can only drill and produce under leases you own. And then you can only drill so close to the other guy's lease line. This is a highly regulated and visible part of the process.

Running title for oil and gas in Louisiana is much easier than for example, Texas. Land is surveyed in the Township and Range format making it very easy to locate a tract. In addition, minerals revert to the surface owner ten years either after cessation of production or the event of no production for ten years. In other words, any mineral rights sold will only be good for ten years if no minerals are produced in that period. Good chance therefore the guy who owns the surface also owns the minerals. Try that in Texas, a lot of the tracts had the minerals sold off a hundred years ago and the mineral owners now live all over the world.

I feel that I just earned some kind of degree
reading the above.

I can tell you that I learned less in many college classes
for the semester!


The current situation using monthly data from the EIA (some of which was just released yesterday).

We have to wait a week or so for May 08 all liquids production data.

This year's data for these graphs is June 07 to May 08.
Last year's data is June 06 to May 07.

A question: how can "this year" (2008) consumption levels appear on the 2007 time scale (i.e. reach back into 2007) and how can they differ from the black (last year) line?

Thanks for explaining.

(edit: sorry, overlooked the last paragraph.)

Sorry for the confusion. I would have posted data just for this calendar year versus last calendar year but that would obscure the fact that interesting stuff has been happening before $100 oil.

Perhaps I need better labels and titles.

Petroleum product consumption was back at 2002 levels in May.

Overall, May consumption was down 891,000 bpd, or 4.3%. But gasoline demand (almost half of consumption) was only down 218,000 bpd (2.3%). Rest of the products were down 6.0%.

Average gas price in May was $3.815/gallon, vs $3.187 in May 2007, so whereas spot crude prices doubled over the year, gas only went up by 20%. This is presumably why the demand response from gasoline has not been as great.

The qt is, whether a lack of supply led to fall in demand or vice versa.


Given that (as you show) there are big drops in crude imports to OECD countries due to demand destruction and reported OPEC production is way up over the year, we seem to be talking of millions of barrels a day finding a new home. Where do you think all this extra crude is going?

Net exports are declining due to increased consumption by many of the major exporters. That accounts for big chunk.

In addition, of course, consumption in the developing world continues to increase.

The trouble with the EIA's net import data is that it bounces around too much. Obviously domestic oil companies time their imports for various purposes. And their needs vary sharply from month to month. For our purposes maybe a better way of looking at net imports is just to plot US production minus consumption. That produces a smoother looking graph. I'll do that as soon as the US production data for May comes out.

I expect net imports to increase a bit (as measured in the graph) as inventories are beefed up.

Net exports are declining due to increased consumption by many of the major exporters. That accounts for big chunk.

In addition, of course, consumption in the developing world continues to increase.

The ELM increase in consumption plus that of developing nations should be nowhere near enough to absorb all those supposed extra barrels floating around in the space of just a year.

When MSNBC/Bloomberg "experts" talk about "fundamentals" supporting $80 or less they assume that production figures are valid. If OPEC production figures are correct and sustained then I too think the oil price can be driven back to around $80 before returning to a slower long term climb back up.

Trouble is I just don't believe the OPEC figures and that's why I think the attempt to drive down price and make it stick will fail.

Memmel has suggested his analysis points to real world (not reported) production possibly down a couple of million bpd from peak - I think that fits in with the oil price much better. If oil does fall to around $80 or lower and stays there then I'll be more inclined to believe OPEC production figures.

A lot of folks seem to be shorting oil right now based on what may be very dodgy data.

The ELM increase in consumption plus that of developing nations should be nowhere near enough to absorb all those supposed extra barrels floating around in the space of just a year.

Maybe that explains why the price is dropping.

But, on the other hand, here's some back-of-the-envelope math. A couple of months back I calculated total net exports for the world at 44.8 million bpd in 2007. I haven't gone back and rerun the calculation to utilize the latest revisions. So it may be a bit off. The decline from 2006 to 2007 was 2.24%. But what if Westexas is correct and that decline rate is increasing? Lets say it is now 3.25% ?

3.25% of 44.8 is approx 1.5 million bpd lost to the world market in 2008.

But world production is supposed to be increasing in 2008. To project that the net export decline has increased from 2.24% to 3.25% but accepting record production sounds like you pulling figures out of the air - but then that is what we're all doing to some extent. Much more worryingly I suspect it's what OPEC is doing.

As to explaining why the oil price is dropping - let's see where it goes over the next few weeks.

Don't get me wrong, I fully believe in ELM and growth from China/India but something still smells fishy to me.

If you were Saudi Arabia and your production was declining involuntarily would you come clean or attempt to cover it up as long as possible?

I wasn't forecasting net exports for 2008. Just working a little math with airy-fairy numbers to get a feel for the possibilities.

If you do some calculations to give us a feel for how much oil you think has 'disappeared', perhaps others and myself would be able to offer more insightful comment. But don't use one months worth of US net imports as the your starting point. Remember their are world-wide inventories to consider. And they were low.

If you were Saudi Arabia and your production was declining involuntarily would you come clean or attempt to cover it up as long as possible?

The reason why I'm skeptical of this is that people have being saying things like this about KSA for years in order explain various 'anomalies'. And then it turns out there was no anomaly after all.

I'm not using one months worth of data for US imports. Clearly May was a particularly bad month for imports as the US would run down stocks at a really alarming rate if that kept up.

Note that I also suspect that the repeated statements by the Bush administration that the price increase is due to a lack of supply is code for "OPEC is lying about production figures". But they can't say that outright...

But let's assume that OPEC always tell the truth. Then there's plenty of oil. CERA is right and we're all wrong. Let's go back to sleep.

Also if you believe the following estimates (based on reported production figures) then net exports from the top 20 exporters are far from decreasing and actually appear greater in the first 6 months of 2008 than in 2007!

Also production as reported by OPEC is up to new peaks in June and July and this is not yet recorded in the graphs above so they should tick back up again - if reported figures are correct...

- if reported figures are correct...

Clearly the discrepancy between EIA and IEA data and the fact that they are regularly revised at a later date indicates that the data is definitely not correct on a month by month basis.

So, I suggest you take the long view and let your computer put a trendline through the data to smooth out the errors.

You will likely see that 'net exports' are still falling or are at least flat for several years now - this is not good news, the 'net exports' are now something like 10 mbpd below where they should be for the importing world to continue BAU!

How much do you think is missing? i.e. Supposedly produced but you don't know where it went?

Keep in mind that the US just yesterday released its final May consumption figure and it had been revised down 700,000 bpd from their original estimate made a week after the end of May.

My point is that the US was able to 'lose' .7 million bpd internally for several weeks. Only a small fraction of the nations of the world even use more than .7 million bpd!! And the US misplaced it! This is not an exact science and it takes a while before the data settles down.

We are also missing one big piece of the puzzle. Inventories. Are there freely available monthly estimates of world crude inventories (including strategic reserves)?

My point is that the US was able to 'lose' .7 million bpd internally for several weeks. Only a small fraction of the nations of the world even use more than .7 million bpd!!

And the Pentagon 'lost' some 2 trillion dollars they can not account for.

Perhaps some books are being cooked?

I'm not sure where the discrepancy between your calculations and mine are, and I do not dispute the overall point, but I have 46.8 mb/d net exported oil for 2007, the decline rate being 2.1% y/y. (From EIA data.)

One interesting, to me at least, variable, is that (following on ROCKMAN'S point below) for many of the places where potential yet-to-be-found cheaply-produced oil fields might be, consumption tends to be very low. Several relatively new exporters of oil--and I stress relatively here--export most of their production.

A lot of this is in Africa. Does anyone have good numbers for East Timor?

I'm not sure where the discrepancy between your calculations and mine are,

2007 numbers are still being revised. So if you did you calculation rather recently, there will be a discrepancy and yours is better. When I did that calculation, many of the number were just the EIA's first cut.

More on the ongoing airlines saga...

BA pursues merger with Iberia

British Airways confirmed today that it is holding €5bn (£3.95bn) merger talks with Spanish rival Iberia, amid crippling fuel costs and weak consumer demand that are threatening the survival of even the biggest airlines.

The unexpected announcement comes one year after BA chief executive Willie Walsh ruled out a takeover of Iberia and said the carrier was more interested in retaining its minority stake in the Madrid-based airline.

However, oil prices of up to $147 (£74) a barrel have made consolidation an urgent priority and, with Walsh's preferred deal of a transaction with a US carrier out of the question, Iberia is the next best option. A combined BA and Iberia would carry 65 million passengers a year with 443 aircraft and 64,500 staff, with a combined market capitalisation of €5bn, although Iberia would be a junior partner in value terms due to its current market cap of €1.5bn.

No airline seems to be safe at the moment. First it was Silverjet, then Ryanair, Easyjet and now BA. It looks as though mergers could keep them afloat for a while longer, but cannibalisation is no strategy for long-term survival.

THE BIG LIE: All the easy oil has been found…the rest will be much more difficult to find”.

I've posted this elswhere and this seems like a good thread to repeat. In various threads I often see the phrase “all the easy oil has been found…the rest will be much more difficult to find”. Actually the truth is just the opposite. Many laymen would interpret that phrase to mean there’s a lot more oil out there but we just haven’t found it yet. I’ve been a petroleum geologist for over 30 years and oil/gas exploration has never been as easy and relatively successful as it is now. I’ll offer this comparison. Diagnosing a lung tumor 100 years would have obviously been difficult. Now with chemical and DNA markers as well as x-rays and CAT scans it pretty routine. In the last 30 years we’ve had technological advances on the same order of magnitude. We can now successfully explore for smaller targets with much higher probability of success in environments (such as 7000’ of water) that no one had dreamed of when my career began. Yes, some of these efforts are very expensive but not really that difficult. Despite their size many of the old mega fields were far from easy to find. Those were the days of real “seat of your pants” wildcatting. Some geologists would actually go around looking at rocks on the ground to find oil.

A good current oil patch example would be the big North Sea play that developed in the 80’s. Even though they’ve produced over 25 billion bo since then few people know that it took 92 wells before the first big field discovery. I can only offer a guess but today it might have taken only a handful. Additionally, currently completions designs would have depleted those fields much faster. The crisis is that the remaining conventional oil isn’t difficult to find but that there are not many big fields of significant size left to find. The exceptions would be those areas of the world that have not been accessible for either political or logistical reasons. But that world is shrinking a little every day. Applying new technology in these areas would have a significant impact but still limited to a small area compared to historic global exploration and production. The tar sands and other resource plays have been discussed by others so I’ll gloss over them. The tar sands have been known for hundreds of years. The issues there are ecological and economic.

If the general public interprets that phrase to mean we’ll just have to look harder and we’ll solve PO they will be in for a shock when it doesn’t happen. Even worse, they’ll want to put off the changes in our economy we need to begin today.

I think the saying should be interpreted as "...the rest will be more expensive to get".

I agree with you Bob. My concern is that Joe six-pack will interpret it incorrectly. Much of our future will depend upon political decisions. And, whether right or wrong, the politicians will tend to follow the lead of the masses…and we here at TOD aren’t them.

all the easy oil has been found…the rest will be much more difficult to find

I wondered about the impact of technology on the "ease" of finding oil. Thanks for fleshing that out.

However, I think it's fair to say that despite the poor phrasing, most people mean to say that big reservoirs of oil are statistically speaking easier to find than small ones — all other things being equal. There are many consequences to this assertion, such as the likelihood that the oil will be less expensive.

There is a big confusion factor here Rockman. I understand what you are saying but I keep getting a contridiction when I look at creaming curves. Over on the Oil Drum Europe today we have a thread on Saudi Arabia liquids production. (NFW stands for New Field Wildcats.)

The first 40 NFW (1935-1968) found 360 Gb in 22 fields while the last 40 NFW (1994-2007) found only 6 Gb with 33 fields!

Okay, please clear up the confusion for me. It looks, for all the world, like the easy oil (cream) was found first and now all we are getting are the dredges.

Ron Patterson


Probably just a syntax issue. Oil/gas is relatively easy to locate now compared to 30 - 50 years ago. I don't know the history of Ghawar Fld but it may have been rather difficult to find at that time. Exploration tools were very crude 40+ years ago. In fact, many of the old fields were discovered by random drilling...no science at all. Finding the old fields was very difficult compared to today. Now we have seismic data that works great and we can GENERATE drilling projects pretty easy in many areas of the globe. But the analogy would be like looking for a watermelon in a pumpkin patch. It doesn't matter how easy it would be because there are no watermelons there. There may well not be another Ghawar on this planet. It is relatively easy to find what's left but there isn't that much left compared to what's already been found. Those old fields like Ghawar are "cream" because of their size and not a function of how easy they were to locate. That's why the oil biz is booming now: with the prices in place it's easy to make a good profit by drilling...but that's not the same as being able to find a lot of mega fields. Historically, profitability in the oil patch has always been determined, in the long run, by your success rate and not by the price of oil/gas.

The Ghawar trend was found with a combination of surface mapping and shallow drilling (to map the structure).

Thanks WT...figured it was something like that. I bet a lot of folks don't realize how many of the old big fields were located by actual oil seeps on the surface. Ahhh...the good old days when you could find "gold" just laying on the ground.

You are misinterpreting the quote. It actually is that all the easy (to find AND produce) is nearly gone and only mostly difficult (to find and/or produce) oil remains. I came up with this analogy recently:

Peak Oil a Theory no more.

...Imagine a hay stack. In the haystack are 10 basketballs, 100 tennis balls and 1000 marbles. Which are you going to find first? Second? Last? Yes, you will certainly find some of the tennis balls and marbles before you find all the basketballs, but you just as certainly will find all the basketballs before you find all the tennis balls, and all the tennis balls before you find all the marbles. Oil is the same. We're down to a few tennis balls and a bunch of marbles...


I like that analogy. It is very easy for people to visualize. You could probably do this for real as a student project.

Very nice.

Almost a good analogy ccpo. But you 're blind when you start looking for that first basketball. Takes a lot of crawling around before you can find all of them. Now today, as a professional marble hunter, I have my handy little tricorder that beeps every time I get close to a marble. With a whole lot less effort then it took that poor blind SOB to find those basketballs I can find most of the marbles. Of course, it's likely there are no more basketballs and maybe just a few tennis balls left but I can easily find what's there and charge you the same price as for a basketball.

I've been prospecting for over oil/gas for 33 years and it's never been easier to find WHAT'S LEFT. When I started in 1975 if your success rate was 25% you would get big raises and bonus. You run a 25% success rate now and you get run off.

Here is a bit of data to support your position. The success rate is climbing.

This is one way technology helps boost EROI. It cuts down on the number of dry holes. I think these examples help explain why the argument over peak oil still rages. There is some support for both sides of the argument. In the long run though, depletion still wins.

Wouldn't we need to include the entire effort to develop that tricorder you're using as a part of the "difficult-ness" of finding those tennis balls. And while we're at it, shouldn't we include all the effort that went into creating those silicon chips (or whatever) that are inside the tricorder?

So while it may be true that the effort of the team that sets out to find a tennis ball with a tricorder is less than the blind searcher of basketballs, the total effort is likely quite dramatically more.

Wouldn't we need to include the entire effort to develop that tricorder you're using as a part of the "difficult-ness" of finding those tennis balls.

Not if the "difficultness"-metric is EROI; brains don't consume that much energy.

And while we're at it, shouldn't we include all the effort that went into creating those silicon chips (or whatever) that are inside the tricorder?


Intel and AMD don't care about oil exploration. They didn't have you in mind when they made those processors; they just looked at their core customers and the software they run(web servers, games, BLAS...) and tried to make a happy trade-off between them.

The people who designed the C and C++ programming languages and write the compilers don't care about the oil people either.

Euler, fourier and other giants in the mathematical field didn't consider the implications of their work for oil exploration.

The people who developed ground penetrating radar, seismic reflection surveys, magnetic surveys, gravity surveys etc. weren't thinking about oil. But it's even worse than that; their work was based on the work people who didn't think about them.

Nvidia and ATi created those graphics cards for people to play games on their PC and for imaging applications; they weren't thinking about visualisation of oil reservoirs. When they made C compilers to run general programs on their hardware they weren't thinking of oil people.

Most of the effort that went into developing better techniques for finding oil was entirely gratis; a socialized benefit of technology, math, science and computer algoritmhs developed for entirely different purposes.

A good point shaman but much of the advancement in exploration was driven by the advances in computer technology which the oil industry took advantage of but contributed very little to that effort. But that's probably true of many other industries. I really hate to make myself like a slacker but today one geologist can generate prospects as fast as 5 geologists could 30 years ago. And this isn't to say the process isn't complicated. But the original point being made was that it isn't too difficult to find viable exploration targets today. It's just that are not that many left. And that’s the critical point I was trying to make: if you’re waiting for use to us to work harder to find all those elusive big fields out there you’re in for a big disappointment. Most of the big potential left is areas which have been unavailable for exploration for one reason or another. Open those areas up and we’ll find whatever is left very quickly. One of the reason you're seeing a lot fewer drilling s rigs running now compared to the late 70's boom is that we can now kill a prospect without even drilling a well to see if there's any oil/gas there. This is especially true in the offshore plays. If we had today's technology 30 years ago we would have eliminated thousands of dry holes. As far as the resource plays like the Bakken oil and shale gas plays the industry refers to them as "cookie cutter" plays. Not a lot of geology but a lot of engineering effort. Every potential location in every resource play is the US has been identified. Now it's just a matter of time, capital, equipment availability and infrastructure development.

No, it is a good analogy, period. You are excluding half the process and the vast bulk of the work. And that is without considering ERO(E)I, ELM, etc. So, even if you have your scanners and can find them all at relatively the same time and ease - which you know is not really true; you are still going to find bigger depositis more readily than small ones. You are not changing the dynamic, just the efficiency - you sure as hell don't get them all out with the same energy input, costs and danger invovled. The analogy can be extended to the work required, too: gotta get down on your hands and knees to get all those little buggers and chase 'em as thy roll across the floor.

Besides, such an analogy is not intended for oil field professionals, but for lay people. The points you raise are slightly misleading, but more importantly, immaterial in understanding what Peak Oil is.


Sorry ccpo. I'm not trying to be difficult but I'm missing your point. Back to my rather simple statement: finding oil profitably right now is easier then it ever has been in my 33 years career. That's a fact...I do this work everyday. Perhaps you think I'm implying that we can thus find a lot more than in the past. Oh no no no! Just the opposite: there's a whole lot less to find then there was even 20 years ago. My point was only that if folks think we can find a lot more oil just by looking/working harder they are being mislead. With the exception of areas that have been off limits for whatever reason, we are pretty well focused on what’s left to pick over.

Apples and oranges, I think: you appear to be talking about exploration; I'm trying to give an analogy for Peak Oil and why there's not a lot of oil left to be found, not exploration.

I appreciate your posts, so don't take my comments as anything other than clarifying. (I tend to be a bit overly direct and, erm... pithy.)


I like your analogy.

This is the one I'm using:

The oil companies have been going after the biggest reservoirs first, which makes perfect sense.

Imagine you have a pocket full of change -- half-dollars, quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies -- and you scatter them on the floor. Your job is to gather up as much money as you can because you have shareholders to report to. Which coins will you pick up first? Naturally you'll go for the larger denomination coins first, which is exactly what the oil companies have done. The problem is that now all the half-dollars and quarters have been picked up and all that's left are the dimes, nickels and pennies.

To make things worse, the floor is sticky now and it's difficult to pick up the remaining coins without a lot of effort. That's the situation we're in with oil."


For clarity, and I do think your analogy works, wouldn't "drop" be better than scatter?

Also, a time dimension: Your job is to gather up as much money as you can because you have shareholders to report to in ten minutes.

And since we're talking about finding, maybe it could be a kid digging in grandpa's coin basket (I used to do this!) and only getting to take as much as you can hold in two hands.... well, maybe overly complex.


PS. Thanks to each for the kind comments.

ANWR Drilling Would Provide Quick Relief

Imagine that you are sitting on a huge oil deposit, which has (let us suppose) one billion barrels that can be brought to the surface for $20 each, so long as you don't pump more than one million barrels per day. (If you want to pump at a higher rate, you have to spend more money per barrel, and you might reduce the total number of barrels you can extract from the deposit.) So the question is, how fast should you pump?

You might at first think that you should pump at the maximum extraction rate, without raising your marginal costs — i.e., that you should pump at one million bbls/day. But this clearly is wrong, if you expect oil prices to keep rising. Why sell 365 million barrels in 2008 at an average of $150 each, when you could postpone production for a year and then sell those same million barrels for, say, $200 each?

In light of this consideration, maybe you think you should just hold your barrels off the market forever. By letting them sit in the ground, the market value of your asset rises over time, as the market price of oil rises.

But that isn't necessarily the right thing to do, either. What if oil prices rise an average of only 10 percent per year over the next two decades? Do you really want to put all your eggs (oil) in one basket, by leaving them sitting underground? Especially if your deposit is located in the Middle East, you might feel more comfortable selling off some of the oil now, and then using the revenue to buy stocks and bonds, not to mention a few surface-to-air missile silos. (And of course, you could be wrong in your forecasts; maybe oil prices will tank in two years.)

My point here isn't to come up with the "optimal" extraction plan for an oil producer; since I'm not in the business, there are undoubtedly considerations I would overlook. But what I will say is that the expected price of oil in the future plays a very important role in these decisions. As always, a liquid futures market allows oil producers (and consumers) to make much more confident plans, because they can lock in prices for future transactions. For example, the oil producer doesn't have to simply guess that he can postpone production today, in order to sell next year at $150 per barrel; he can sell futures contracts to make sure of it (assuming he can find a buyer at that price).

Now what happens if we are at an initial equilibrium, and then all of a sudden the US government relaxes the prohibitions on ANWR drilling? If oil traders really believe the policy shift is permanent, and that up to a million extra barrels will be hitting the market in a decade, then this will obviously reduce the expected world price of oil starting at that time. Consequently, any oil producers who had previously settled on a production rate with "excess capacity" — i.e., where they could have produced and sold more barrels today, but decided not to for reasons of profit — will re-evaluate their decision.

Without specifics we have no idea how much the new information will change their output plans, but surely they will pump more in the present than they had previously decided.

If we step back and survey the big picture, what would happen is that the market in a sense would be transferring some of those future ANWR barrels to the present. It's true, the market doesn't have recourse to time machines. But physical barrels of oil that would have otherwise sat underground in 2008, 2009, and so on, will now be brought to the surface and sold, because they have been displaced by the barrels currently buried in Alaska that will be brought to the surface and sold in 2018, 2019, and so on.

Some good insights GauharJK. I’ll fill you in on how the great majority of oil companies (especially public companies) view the concept of holding production back. But first, there is an engineering evaluation that does estimate the maximum flow rate for a well that usually focuses on well bore stability more than ultimate recovery. You can actually produce a well so fast that you can catastrophically destroy the completion. But back to typical production rate considerations. There’s an even better reason to look at the time factor. The decision to explore for or develop a particular project is controlled by this field life vs. reserve size factor. Essentially oil patch economic decisions are dominated by “net present value”. NPV adjusts the cash flow to take into account the time factor. A fld producing 2 millions bo over 20 years has a much lower NPV than a fld producing 1 mmbo over 4 years. The common discount rate is 15%. Think of the DR as the interest rate on a loan. A 15% loan paying back $1.15 in one year would have a NPV of $1 and thus no profit would be made. The NPV factor is used to determine the rate of return on any investment. The stock market demands y/y improvements in a public company’s position which is essentially measured in the NPV of their reserve base. As odd as it may seem virtually all public corps would chose a high NPV approach to development over a low NPV approach even if the slower production rate generated a greater ult recovery. I’ve seen many operators abandon a zone that was still producing commercial volumes of oil so the well could be completed in a shallower zone with a higher flow rate. It’s often not viable to eventually return to that prematurely abandoned zone. This is especially true in those big Deep Water plays. During those long development phases that 15% keeps compounding. If you look at the decline curves of the initial Deep Water Gulf of Mexico flds you’ll see high initial rates and relatively rapid declines. You’ve heard it before: Time is money. And when you’ve sunk $1.5 billion into a project before it flows the first bbl of oil that time is very expensive. Because of the logistic costs and similar time lags major projects on the North Slope will be evaluated over similar protocols.

Your single number, 15% IRR, explains not only oil drilling, but also no new refineries, no nuclear power plants, no grid buildout, no carbon capture, Enron, and most of the financial crap that's blowing up now.

True TJ...and some companies push it to 20%. Still, the single biggest risk is projecting future oil prices. There is utter panic in the financial market trying to evaluate projects: every project has a oil price forecast going out at least 10 years. Can you make a accurate guess on oil price in 2011 and back it up with "proof"? I can't even remember how may companies busted because of their erroneous price forecasts in 1981. And those memories are still there in the minds of all the CEO's who were just starting their careers at that time.

Bear in mind that not all oil is produced by public companies seeking to maximise profits in the short term - if your oil fields are in desert areas and you require the oil to buy all your food and produce your water (without which you will all die) you might want to take the long view and maximise profits, and leave some oil for your grandchildren rather than rapidly depreciating paper IOUs - oh wait, didn't the King of KSA say that's what he's going to do?.

I think the rules of the game will change once everybody realises we are post-peak.

IMO the oil business has recently enetered a new much more risky phase - deep water exploration is increasingly more expensive and risky and in the event of a serious economic downturn this most expensive production will become unprofitable and fail spectacularly.

All true xeroid. The one semi-shiining light right now for the US oil patch is natural gas. But the new resource gas plays won't be long lived from a cash flow point of view. A big reason for the Deep Water plays is the pressure on public Big Oil to increase their reserve base. They just can't do that with NG or small oil plays. I know it's difficult for most here to understand, but the Big Oils like ExxonMobil are in something of a panic. Their current cash flow is great but that doesn't secure their future. And they are having a difficult time seeing a good future. The Big Oils have reached their own PO just like the rest of the world.

You're probably right, but there's the possibility it could go the other way also. The reason companies were looking for 20% ROI on oil drilling is that up until recently, if you were a big investor, you could waltz up to a hedge fund and get 15% with absolutely no risk. And you wouldn't have to wait 5-10 years for any income to start.

What you seem to be saying is the the real oil business just won't invest in the US no matter what because the oil in the ground is too expensive for their tastes.

That means the only way America can provide for itself is for the government to develop EOR, oil shale, CTL, etc. basically nationalizing the oil business, right?

Basically that's how Canada did the oil sands.

Either that or for Congress to start wacking the hell out of them.

This will be impossible for freemarket conservatives to accept.

Of course, they don't 'believe' in geology either.

I get part of your point majorian but miss some others. First EOR is old news. Most of the big fields in the US have been undergoing EOR for many decades. The only new applications would be for the few recent discoveries. There is no big pile of EOR oil out there to be produced...it already has been. In fact, the majority of oil produced in the US today is from fields undergoing EOR.

As far as oil shales there is no such thing. There is no oil in those shales you're referring. They contain kerogen which is a solid. Previously they tried strip mining it but that was too costly and environmentally damaging. Shell has been trying to cook the kerogen in place to make oil and then flow it out of the shale with well bores. At last report I think they’ve produced around 2000 bbls of oil. Shell's latest guess put their first pilot project in 2015 although most of the industry thinks it won't happen.

CTL works if you're willing to pay the price. As far as the tar sands go it's all been developed by free enterprise companies. They've gotten some perks from the Canadian gov't but it's been 100% free market capital to date. The Canadian gov’t had planned to build 20 nuclear plants in the tar sands field to provide energy to expand the project but they backed out last month.

If you support the gov't getting into the oil biz go for it. I'm sure they'll do just as good as they've done in the train business with Amtrak. And how might the gov't wack the Big Oil companies? I don't think the American public, who own the majority interest in ExxonMobil et al, wouldn't appreciate the gov't degrading the value of the pension/retire funds by hurting stock values of the Big Oils. BTW, are you one of the owners of ExxonMobil? You might check with the manager of your retirement fund to see how much they own. I only ask because the great majority of auto, teacher and municipal union members don’t realize that they are the majority owners of Big Oil.

I get part of your point majorian but miss some others. First EOR is old news. Most of the big fields in the US have been undergoing EOR for many decades. The only new applications would be for the few recent discoveries. There is no big pile of EOR oil out there to be produced...it already has been. In fact, the majority of oil produced in the US today is from fields undergoing EOR.

The DOE thinks there's a lot more EOR out there than you do evidently--they give a URR of 200 billion barrels of all EOR oil in old US fields, which is alot of little piles.

So you don't seem to agree with the DOE on that.


Actually the amount of oil we're producing from all EOR is
around 750,000 bpd(US-lower 48 is 3.5 mbpd) and 2/3 of it is heavy oil(thermal) from California which is not profitable in this time of high energy costs, so really EOR-CO2 is only <10% of lower 48 oil production; .25/(3.3-.75)=.09

My point is that there IS significant amounts of oil onshore in the US that can be produced by EOR but it will be too complex and expensive for industry to undertake at a 15% IRR.
But we still need the oil--the government had afford to stick with it and will be a better oil field conservator that the oil companies.

As far as oil shales there is no such thing. There is no oil in those shales you're referring. They contain kerogen which is a solid. Previously they tried strip mining it but that was too costly and environmentally damaging. Shell has been trying to cook the kerogen in place to make oil and then flow it out of the shale with well bores. At last report I think they’ve produced around 2000 bbls of oil. Shell's latest guess put their first pilot project in 2015 although most of the industry thinks it won't happen.

Again, they had a program and Reagan just cancelled it. You think Reagan judged that oil shale was not economically non-viable?
He wanted to run energy from the Department of Commerce which turns to Big Oil for all its energy advice. He had an ideological agenda.


As to the practicality of turning shale into oil, they're doing it now in China and Brazil. Now how can relatively poor
countries afford shale oil programs, but the US can't?
Or are your assumptions wrong?

CTL works if you're willing to pay the price. As far as the tar sands go it's all been developed by free enterprise companies. They've gotten some perks from the Canadian gov't but it's been 100% free market capital to date. The Canadian gov’t had planned to build 20 nuclear plants in the tar sands field to provide energy to expand the project but they backed out last month.

In 1975, Syncrude was 15% owned by the Canadian gov't, 10% by Alberta as private companies bailed out. There have been subsidies ever since the beginning. It's been a part of Canada's national energy policy from the begining. The history has been marked by slow development and frequent provincial and federal government involvement.


If you support the gov't getting into the oil biz go for it. I'm sure they'll do just as good as they've done in the train business with Amtrak.

Actually given the totally dismal performance of private enterprise to raise US oil production it's hard to see how the government COULD do worse. It would hire the same geologists engineers away from XOM,COP,Shell, etc. give them adequate money to start projects and get them up and running
without worrying about quarterly returns--mainly because we all know that quarterly returns will be miserable.

And how might the gov't wack the Big Oil companies?

By investigating them and putting the golden-parachuting bosses like Lee Raymond in jail. You don't think there are plenty of hardworking PATRIOTIC american managers who wouldn't be happy to build a solid organization to supply american citizens with
a vital necessity. Almost every waterworks in this country is run by the government? Is that a mess? So are plenty of electric utilities.

I don't think the American public, who own the majority interest in ExxonMobil et al, wouldn't appreciate the gov't degrading the value of the pension/retire funds by hurting stock values of the Big Oils. BTW, are you one of the owners of ExxonMobil? You might check with the manager of your retirement fund to see how much they own. I only ask because the great majority of auto, teacher and municipal union members don’t realize that they are the majority owners of Big Oil.

XOM sucks!(I still own some, fortunately I don't own any investment banks). If you think capitalism is a thriving success you're totally delusional and things are going to get a lot worse!

I'd be happy if all my investments were as safe as Social Security or FDIC.


I have seen the light and you have turned me around on this matter. Let's turn oil and gas development over to the US gov't. I have no doubt that they'll find more oil and gas then the industry would. That's the great advantage of having the tax payers fund projects: anything is possible as long as someone else has to pay for the loss.

StatOilHydro (2/3rds owned by the Kingdom of Norway) and PetroBras (51% owned by Republic of Brazil) do all right.


CTL works if you're willing to pay the price.

CTL is very hard to scale up. Consider the tar sands project. Its becoming ever more expensive to increase production. The bigger the production the more high-maintaince infrastructure is needed to increase production. At some point the cost of maintaining and supporting the infrastructure exceeds the EROEI. I can't put a finger on how much CTL can be scaled up to, but I am sure its much much smaller than Oil & gas production.

Another issue, is that CTL fuels will be very expensive for consumers (at best is only 60% efficient). Much of the western economies cannot survive on very expensive energy as whole business sectors need cheap energy to turn a profit. Consider that CTL has been around for 90 years. Today there are two commerical scale CTL plants operating in the world. Both of these were developed because of a global sactions imposed on South Africa that limited its Oil imports.

We'll probably see some new CTL plants built, but the production will always be a very tiny amount compared to today's global oil and gas production. As Gas supplies decline will see an increase demand for coal to replace Natural gas fired equipment for instance in UAE, they switched a cement plant from natural gas to coal. Coal prices will likely be significantly higher as the global coal consumption for electricity, cement, bricks, (perhaps tar-sands), etc increases. This would drive up CTL prices even higher.

It's not as hard for coal methanol compared to FT liquids. The Chinese in 2005 were producing 2 billion gallons. Their goal is to produce 10 billion gallons of methanol in 2015. This is the same number of gallons forecast for US ethanol in 2015.


With methanol, one can make biodiesel. And, small scale production of biodiesel spread over a wide area makes sense, as the material processing can be kept very local where cheap labor is available. Locally produced, decentralized biodiesel could provide the needs of farmers and small towns directly with some of the production exported to cities to pay for the methanol. Ship the methanol to the local processors and fill he tankers with biodiesel back to the high population areas on the return trip. The Chinese are going to win another round, since they have the long term view. They may still be flying high while we are re-learning how to ride bicycles and how to hitch up a mule to a cart...

E. Swanson

from the linked article "anwar drilling could bring quick relief":

"Note that these are very conservative estimates, because nobody has gone out and extensively explored the areas where it is illegal to extract oil!"

i suppose you could apply this logic to states like oregon, idaho, iowa, minnesota and georgia (to name a few) where it is legal(although probably not very wise) to drill for oil.

then, all we have to do is wave a majic wand over these states and viola! they will hold billions of barrels of "conservatively estimated" oil because nobody has gone out and extensively explored these areas.

this guy should probably stick to economics.

This article is badly flawed: it assumes there is no decline in production from existing wells and that, essentially, oil is infinite.

Other than that, it's a pedestrian and extremely simplistic look at the issue. Where are the receeding horizons? Where is the oil for futue generations? (It's instructive that the nation with the most cude sitting in the ground is conserving their reserves for fuure generations.) Where are the climate considerations? Where are the rising costs connected to permafrost thawing? Where are the calculations on materials shortages (steel, rigs, etc) and manpower shortages? Etc.?

One CAN deal with the layperson too simply. This is a great example.


Some interesting words from one of the designers of the current strategy for U.S. forces in Iraq:

A Counterinsurgency Guide for Politicos

David Kilcullen, a former Australian Army officer who is now an adviser to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, explained that it tells policy-makers to "think very, very carefully before intervening." More bluntly, Kilcullen, who helped Petraeus design his 2007 counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq, called the decision to invade Iraq "stupid" -- in fact, he said "fucking stupid" -- and suggested that if policy-makers apply the manual's lessons, similar wars can be avoided in the future.

"The biggest stupid idea," Kilcullen said, "was to invade Iraq in the first place."

One wonders that this guy is allowed by the regime to say such things and keep his job, it is certainly out of character for this administration who values loyalty above all else.

The reason I posted this is because I'm beginning to wonder now about the future foreign policy for the U.S., are we going to be up for another 30 years of short engagements only as it was after the Vietnam war? With this present political climate, an isolationist U.S. may not intervene when it is actually needed and could do some good. If the oil prices keep going up, it's going to lead to more instability globally.

While I'm at it, Bush has just reached a 22% approval rating. He's tied with Truman for the worst approval rating ever by a major polling organization.

IMO they are spinning for the public. The official story is that every action taken was misguided, stupid, a mistake. The position of the major oil companies re "Iraqi" oil reserves simply wouldn't exist without the invasion. It seems like a lifetime ago the Dems swept into the Congress and Senate on a wave of the public's desire to leave Iraq-they really worked overtime on that promise.

... and if you are old enough to recall, every American presidential candidate -- both Republican and Democrat -- promised to end America's involvement in Vietnam (one way or the other). Richard Nixon's slogan was "Peace with Honor." What Americans never seem to understand until it is too late, is that it is a lot easier to invade a country than it is to withdraw.

The FSU gave up in Afghanistan when things started to crumble back home. America's military now has it's hands full on two (hot) fronts plus having to maintain a network of over 700 installations around the world. Will the Pentagon continue to demand ever larger budgets even as America's elderly start freezing in the dark? Stay tuned...

Bush has just reached a 22% approval rating.

It's worse.

" With this present political climate, an isolationist U.S. may not intervene when it is actually needed and could do some good."

The US "engagement" started with the acquisition of the Spanish Empire remnants.

We are only now seeing the endgame of this.

China will now get Taiwan. For starters.

That's how national account deficits get repaired.

See Gabriel Kolko and Britain being taken out of Iran Oil in 1950's
for details.

Newest one by Chalmers Johnson;

"The Military-Industrial Complex
It’s Much Later Than You Think"

by Chalmers Johnson


While I'm at it, Bush has just reached a 22% approval rating. He's tied with Truman for the worst approval rating ever by a major polling organization.

The President's rating might be bad, but Congress's rating is much worse. How can the Democrats and Republicans that control the Legislative and Executive branches of our Government continue to function the way they do with those kinds of low public approval ratings. I thought we had a representative form of government where those people elected by the people were supposed to reprresent the people?


Tuesday, July 08, 2008
The percentage of voters who give Congress good or excellent ratings has fallen to single digits for the first time in Rasmussen Reports tracking history. This month, just 9% say Congress is doing a good or excellent job. Most voters (52%) say Congress is doing a poor job, which ties the record high in that dubious category.
Last month, 11% of voters gave the legislature good or excellent ratings. Congress has not received higher than a 15% approval rating since the beginning of 2008.

The Argentinian public wasn't too happy with their elected reps either-IMO everyone is on their own in the USA on the slide-I think the average person is starting to realize the politicians have been purchased (with a few notable exceptions such as Ron Paul).

That's a good question. I sure don't have the answer. Something is desperately wrong with our government though.

What will happen this fall? Certainly more republicans have open seats "available" since a number of them decided to retire upon facing a democratically controlled congress. Usually the incumbent wins if they're a long standing member so this might help the democrats. On the other hand, with these low approval ratings, conventional wisdom would say that the democrats will bear the brunt since they are the party in charge. It's hard to say. I'm very interested to see what happens in the congressional elections this fall. Remember in 2006 even a long standing incumbent democrat, Joe Liberman, lost his primary. I haven't been reading up on the primary results for the 2006 elections yet myself so I can't say how things are shaping up..

Yet most Americans still like their own personal congressmen.

Does this not show that Americans view the job of their congressman as the grabber of pork, and thus every other congressman is hated as an enemy, which rubs off on the institution? It's nothing more than a Roman Coliseum with 535 gladiators. There no longer is a national interest in our hearts.

One should also consider how people rate their own particular representative. "My guy is fine, just all those other bastards that stop him from bringing home the bacon."

All as it should be when the current Congress was elected to clean house and instead set up house. Sleeping with the enemy.


I'm really starting to doubt that there are any military actions by the US that are actually needed and that can actually do some good. Our entire strategic system is so corrupted by special interests that we don't have any troops anywhere who are in a position to fight for anything but oil. We might be able to hypothesize some "good" war, but I can tell you that a militarist, imperialist America was never going to fight any of them.

Put it this way; in the last 110 years, where has America specifically taken the side of the poor over the rich in any conflict, in all our dozens of interventions? As far as I know, the near-invasion of Haiti in 1994 was it, and no one in the US really wanted to go through with it. Other times we've sided with poor rebels to overthrow anti-Western regimes so our corporations could move in. Our military power is the sword and shield of capitalism, and no other cause will be funded by our owners. We defend rich Kuwait's sovereignity, but not Somalia's. We keep our forces near every oil field, supertanker route, pipeline and potential pipeline that we can reach. We harass and intimidate and sanction any ruler who attacks their rich citizens, but those who attack the poor are exercising "sovereign" authority, or even praised by us for their commitment to "enterprise".

This is not going to change. Either your tax dollars will be used to fight to make the rich richer everywhere, or they will be kept at home. I would be entertained by a Ron Paul presidency pulling home all the troops, only to see hundreds of millions of poor people in dozens of countries overthrowing their now-defenseless governments from Egypt to Colombia to carry out the opposite of Paul's ideology.

Who will look for US capitalistic interests if we don't? Is communism somehow "better", as that's what would have proliferated without many of our actions.

How about Bosnia -- poor Muslims protected from relatively wealthy Serbians?

Bringing troops home is fine with me -- but that isn't a big part of dollar flows out of the country, as dollars to troops, suppliers, and mercenaries mostly comes back home, and the few hundred billion left around is small change compared to the graft and pandering we do here, and small compared to the trade imbalances externally. It is a big tax expense, but at least we get SOMETHING for it (employment, control, oil, whatever), versus most other welfare programs (sloth, corruption, crime, moral decay, etc.)

And how are we so "bad"? I don't see anybody else in the world helping in Darfur and Somalia. When the UN does show up it does nothing but scale up prostitution and better organize the crime from what I can see.

Most of Africa was dominated by Euro post-colonialists, and where that has gone away anarchy seems to have come in its place. Would other uprisings do better? I doubt Africa's case is because of lacking innate ability for self-rule (the racist perspective), but instead due to extreme local factions who cannot manage unity, much like Iraq, with external funding and feuding funneled in to boot. I'm not sure "peace" was ever a characteristic of feudal nation-states, and even in Europe it took 100 years of industrialization before everybody was rich enough to live and let live (for now -- I think that will change).

Autoflagellation is an old religious rite, but it's never been a particularly appealing one to me. I admit the US has done bad things and made mistakes, but I think the bulk of our attempts at least have positive long term goals. I certainly believe most American people are decent at heart, and the self-absorbed shallowness that is easily seen masks the ability to work very diligently when needed. Most Americans do WORK awfully hard for their Mcmansions and land yachts, and they are quite generous as well (conservatives with their own money, liberals with other people's) locally and around the world.

Do you really think it would be entertaining to see nations overthrown and oil infrastructure destroyed? That would indeed be a catastrophe for the very poor you purport to empower. Within orderly society you can have directed change and progress. With chaos, you get change, but never progress.

(conservatives with their own money, liberals with other people's)

You had me going for a little while... but this is just flat out wrong. Bush, "the compassionate conservative" and the Republican congress lowered taxes while increasing deficit spending. As a result, the administration now predicts that a 482 billion dollar deficit is being left to the next administration (for this year alone!). Remember, Clinton left a 200 billion dollar SURPLUS to Bush. Tax and spend Democrats they may be but Republicans are then borrow and spend. Now what was that about conservatives and spending other people's money? These conservatives have spent money of people who aren't even born yet. I'll also point out that Clinton reduced the size of the federal government by closing military bases. Now what was that about conservatism and reducing the size of the government? Clinton, a progressive, did a much better job of fiscal discipline and limited government than the so-called "conservatives". Even that paragon of conservatism, Reagan, left a huge deficit of about 3 trillion dollars to the next president.

I guess the truth is probably that the best arrangement for fiscal responsibility in government is a mixed control system where the legislative and executive branches can watch each other, not with any single party. I note however, that right now such an arrangement doesn't seem to be working either.

RE: Climate Experts Tussle Over Details. Public Gets Whiplash.

In the article, Revkin mentions that there are publications oa scientific papers which appear to be in conflict regarding climate science. What he does not mention is that some of those papers are either poorly done or intentionally misleading, IMHO. Lord Monckton posted one on the APS web site that was so bad that the AIP posted a disclaimer on their home web page. A similar attempt to mislead occurred several years ago when a paper was circulated with a format which appeared to be that from a NAS journal, which caused considerable controversy. There have been several other such "scientific" papers, some of which passed peer review. I personally have attacked 2 such papers in print.

E. Swanson

As of Viscount Monckton there is a nice piece "Cuckoo Science" over at realclimate.org.

The link is in French. Not bieng Canadian I can't read it.

Hmm, the French version is another one, but the link I posted shows up in English in my browser ..

Perhaps the web site keeps language settings in some cookie; try to delete cookies from realclimate.org in your browser, maybe that helps (though the different URLs do not point into that direction.)

In addition, there's a new RealClimate post debunking Monckton's latest nonsense: Once more unto the bray.

Decline of the Suburbs - Rat Infestations

Good Morning all. Haven't been able to be a participant much lately, lots going on trying to prevent this large company from failing (and thereby leaving me without an income). But I saw this story and thought some of you might find it of interest. It's from a local TV station, so its kind of light on details, but the implications should be obvious to all here.


Some people living in the Carriage Hills Estates in Casselberry say the increasing number of abandoned houses is causing a rat infestation. It’s a side affect of the foreclosure crisis no one could have predicted.

There we go again -- "no one could have predicted it." Over and over.

Since it was widely predicted, but never acknowledged by "MyFox" or any other mainstream medium, can we take that to mean that the media are stupid, venal, agenda-driven or just inattentive? Surely we can expect better from our leadership.

OK, that does it - I'm adding "no one could have predicted" to "at present rates of consumption" to my list of phrases that automatically mean the article is bullshit. I'll have to keep my eye out - it seems there are quite a few of these pat phrases being endlessly recycled out there. It would be interesting to keep a list, along with the translation of what they really mean.

"No one could have predicted" - "it's not my fault for being so naive; we all had our eyes closed. Lets find someone to blame."

"at present rates of consumption" - "I'm spewing bullshit so that I'll sound authoritative and you'll be lulled back to sleep (see above)."

"We will be greeted as liberators."

Our economy is fundamentally strong?

No Evidence of Precipitous Fall on Horizon for World Oil Production: Global 4.5% Decline Rate Means No Near-Term Peak: CERA/IHS Study
January 17, 2008

That still means ~50mb/d in 2020

Might that be a problem?

Global 4.5% Decline Rate Means No Near-Term Peak

That still means ~50mb/d in 2020

It doesn't, actually.

The current (gross) decline rate of 4.5% (CERA) or 5.2% (IEA) or so is the decline rate of existing wells. What that means is that decline rate in total production will only be seen if no new production ever comes online again. As the megaprojects database shows, that's nowhere near realistic; substantial amounts of production are being developed through the forseeable future.

The net decline rate is the gross decline rate minus the increase from new production. If gross decline removes 4Mb/d and 5Mb/d of new production is added, then total world production increases by 1Mb/d, or about 1%. This is, roughly speaking, what's happened for the last few years, and what the megaprojects database projects for the next few years.

The relationship between gross decline rate - this -5%/yr figure - and net decline rate - whether we have more or less oil available - is that the net decline will be at worst the gross decline (modulo above-ground factors), and will almost certainly be substantially better. Gross decline rate is inherently pessimistic; how pessimistic depends on how much new production can be added per year.

Might that be a problem?


Even if oil supply increases, demand pressure can push up the price of oil, economically forcing some people to use less and bringing all kinds of pain (from American commuters who can't afford to eat out to African hospitals which can't afford to generate electricity).

The key is to realize that this isn't an all-or-nothing question. We don't need to have super-high decline rates for peak oil to be a problem - it's already a problem even with increasing oil supply - but at the same time there are a million shades of gray between BAU and collapse.

Time to invest in thermal underwear? It looks like more bad news for the UK and Western Europe's faltering natural gas supplies if this article from the Telegraph is to be believed.

Ukrainian political battle could hit European gas prices

[A] battle for political supremacy in far-off Ukraine is likely to have just as big an influence on European gas prices in coming months as the fluctuations on global energy markets.

Britain now imports 21bn cubic metres of gas every year since its North Sea reserves started falling. Some imports come by ship as liquified natural gas and some has to be bought in the European markets which is then piped over to the UK mainland from the Continent.

But much of Europe's gas is imported from Russia through pipelines that cross Ukraine. It is the control of those pipelines that is now the subject of a tense political tussle between Ukraine's President Victor Yushchenko and his former ally turned rival, Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

It looks like "they" are responsible for lowering oil prices.


The Pray at the Pump Movement, founded by Rocky Twyman, has been holding prayer vigils at gas stations across the country.

'Forgive them, father, for they know not what they do.. and please wipe that 'all-knowing' smirk off your face. It's just mean!'

Looks like it is working, did they ask for a target price? I hope it is around $20/barrel, I'm getting sick of all this winning about high oil prices.

the Prayers seeking divine intervention are praying to Jesus, not Allah, which shows they haven't looked at a map of where most of the oil is

they have "Pique Oil"
(anger over oil prices)


As carriers from American Airlines to Thai Airway International are responding to a new era of high oil prices by shedding jobs, culling routes and grounding aircraft, Middle Eastern carriers are expanding as fast as they can in hopes of redefining their region as the aviation crossroads of the globe.

"There is no sign of a crisis there," said Thomas Enders, the chief executive of Airbus, during an interview shortly before handing over the jet to the sheik. "These airlines are on a very impressive growth path and expansion course; they are steering a steady course while others are experiencing more difficulties."

It appears to me that if you base operations in and closely around NET exporting regions then you will have a real and significant advantage over your competitors -and I don't just mean the local investment of Trillions of Petrodollars in Prestige Gulf State Airlines. The refueling 'at base' can be done at substantial reductions to an operation based in a NET importing country 'at the edges'.

Does it look likely that the big fuel-oil exporters of the future will also 'own' the air or am I missing something? (If the ME became the new 'air crossroads' / hub it would reflect its old position as crossroads of the spice trade between Asia and Europe -the airlines of the US being on the edges of this arrangement would struggle to survive)


I'm sure they will. It makes you wonder why British Airways (up the page) want to get into bed with the Spanish airline rather than a ME carrier - unless they are trying to make themselves into a bigger, juicier target later on.

That's always been implicit in the Export Land model - one day these governments will start luring treacherous corporations that previously abandoned the US for cheap Mexican and Chinese labor with this line: "Free labor won't do much good if you don't have juice." Russia will no doubt make the same play against Europe when it's got the methane all tied up.

We might as well move all the SUV assembly lines to Dubai now.

An idea gains traction:

EU eyes 'supergrid' to harness Saharan sun

Massive solar power installations in the Sahara desert could feed the EU's growing energy demand via a new supergrid. The idea is backed by France and the UK, which is simultaneously trying to limit priority access for renewables to domestic grids.

If successful, the supergrid project could supply all of Europe's electricity needs, according to Arnulf Jaeger-Walden, who heads the EU's Institute for Energy in the Netherlands.

TOD editor Stuart Staniford has written on this topic:
Powering Civilization to 2050

This strikes me as lunacy. The Sahara? As in the Muslim-dominated Sahara? Is the EU willing to battle Al-Queda, the Janjaweed militia and friends, to keep the lights on?

I'm sorry; I'm momentarily having troubling closing my gaping mouth. I'm sure it will pass.

I for one would never have believed the Muslims would sell us oil. But, by god, they do it! ;-)

Sure, but you have "the haves" -- the Saudi Royal Family, etc. -- and you have the "have nots." My intuition tells me that the "have nots" will simply move from blowing up pipelines to power grids and solar arrays. My intuition also tells me that the "have nots" will soon vastly outnumber "the haves" -- a losing proposition, if ever there was one.

The "have nots" already vastly outnumber the "haves" everywhere in that region except maybe Libya. Pipelines that suck out wealth for aliens versus solar arrays that supply nearby villiages as well as export markets? Insurgents cannot operate without local support.

Certainly no historical precedent for that, now is there?

That same solar supergrid could do a lot of desalination. A lot of hungry Algerians would gladly castrate any Muslim militant for the sake of defending such a grid.

You'd think the same would apply to the oil, but it doesn't, and for good reason. I think the issue is whether the energy is perceived as benefiting the locals vs. benefiting the foreign infidels. Heck, even within the US - states are starting to want to keep their resources within their own borders.

Solar thermal energy is not rocket science. The Algerians want to build it themselves. The foreign infidels can just write the checks.

See, that's the problem. The checks won't be going to everyone. They'll be going to the wealthy and powerful, as usual.

Yes, people have put up with it before. But it's not safe to assume that will continue. I think peak oil will mean the unwinding of globalization. The world isn't flat any more. The economics of scarcity is a whole new ball game.

I'm curious....

How are the economics of scarcity different from ordinary economics?

It's probably not fair to call it "ordinary economics." In the history of the world, it's not ordinary. But what we think of as ordinary - economics as we've known it, "the world is flat" kind of economics - is based on infinite growth.

The reason it's acceptable that foreigners come and take your resources to build their McMansions and run their SUVs is because one day, you hope you and your children will have their own McMansions and drive their own SUVs. The reason it's okay that we Americans have two cars, a boat, and an ATV while poor people in Africa don't even own a bike is that we tell ourselves that if they work hard, get rid of their corrupt governments, get educated, etc., they'll be rich, too.

But once it's clear that there's not enough resources to keep the pyramid scheme going - and we have, IMO, reached that point - suddenly the world is not flat any more.

A couple of points:

the same argument could be used within the US -you fool your own population with the 'work hard and you will conquer all crap', it beats me while people still fall for it when its clear that wealth is vastly skewed towards the top end. Having said that fair taxation has helped -look to Africa to see a real wealth gap.

On the Muslim issue some of these comments reflect the sort of polarization I would expect to see from the inhabitants of an insular Nation and would ask if any of the people that made them actually KNOW a muslim? I'm working with one right now and have several friends -one of who converted (although I think it was just an excuse to give up drinking...which his new Muslim wife is not too happy about because she is a party girl, even though her father is the village Imam...) Another likes his pork, I've seen several severally drunk Saudies, etc, etc, etc.

What I'm trying to say is don't judge Muslims on the .001% of them that go around making trouble. If it where the other way round Christians of all shades would be lambasted for the actions of a handful of extreme fundamentalist Christians... Nuff said.



If the money doesn't reach the guys who have to repair the mirror servos, they won't repair the mirror servos. If the Algerian elite lets that happen, I lose an investment. But they lose a neverending revenue stream. I suspect they won't let that happen. Solar thermal's economic effects are bound to be better than oil's.

Solar thermal's economic effects are bound to be better than oil's.

Solar's also harder to sabotage than oil.

For a start, solar's "pipelines" are self-re-routing. If one wire in a network is sabotaged, others will take up the slack automatically. The distributed nature of solar generation makes it highly likely that transmission will automatically be in a redundant and robust network.

Consider, for example, 1GW of solar being sent from Africa to Europe. Instead of a single 1GW plant and line, which would be easy to knock out, consider 10 100MW plants some tens of km apart. Connect each one to its neighbours with a 100MW line and give each one a 110MW line to Europe, and you have a network where it's impossible to disrupt transmission even a little without cutting multiple lines. Scale that up to tens of GW and you get a grid that's fairly simple to make robust to damage.

For another, solar's more diffuse than oil.

10GW of power represents many, many acres of trough-style solar thermal, and even for power tower types it represents 900 installations, each one of which is independent. The generation capacity is so diffuse that destroying it would require substantial time and effort.

Finally, solar can be intentionally located in relatively safe locations.

Unlike oil, which has to be pumped where it's found, solar can be generated pretty much anywhere the sun shines, which provides a lot of leeway in terms of locating generation facilities in locations which are unlikely to be damaged and/or easy to safeguard. Ultimately, it can be moved to another province or region entirely, depriving local people of the income associated with it (lease income, sales to support personnel, etc.). Solar is likely to be relatively welcome, simply because it can be placed near people who appreciate the benefits it brings and away from those who don't.

Solar seems like a much less attractive target for sabotage than oil, for a lot of reasons.

Very interesting.

Pitt, what's your take on the ability of large scale solar installations to endure bad weather... hail, high winds, snow storms and other forms of nature's nastiness?

They're designed to deal with sandstorms for the most part. Utility scale solar installations don't make nearly as much sense in snow country, but even there you turn the mirrors to minimise the weather threat and repair whatever bits break.

Mirror and tower facilities can function with a fair number of mirrors down, as long as the tower itself avoids damage you are set. More robust facilities can be made with distributed reflecting dishes and stirling engines, though these are less efficient and higher maintenance.

what's your take on the ability of large scale solar installations to endure bad weather... hail, high winds, snow storms and other forms of nature's nastiness?

I expect it to be roughly similar to the ability of skylights, satellite dishes, and cars to endure bad weather, which is to say "generally fine".

Since they can be placed more-or-less wherever you want, I'd imagine solar locations would be selected that would minimize the risk of various dangers (terrorists, hurricanes, looters, taxes, etc.). That's probably one of the reasons I haven't heard about any of the existing installations having serious problems that way.

Some damage is likely, certainly - that's just a cost of doing business. Like with periodic trees bringing down power lines, you fix it and move on - it's not a problem if the amortized cost is low enough.

Uh-huh. If they start offering to shower you with rose petals -- run the other way.

The best country would be Egypt. they are pro western and their need for the money the solar will generate is the greatest.

Pharoah Mubarak and his son Prince Mubarak are pro-US because we pay them to be. No one is allowed to vote for the Moslem Brotherhood to demonstrate their feelings on the matter.

The point is that Egypt has a large very poor population. Even if the Moslem Brotherhood came to power they would need the revenue from the solar power stations. the other North African countries have oil and gas, and could manage without it if they wanted to cut us off.

They have a good history of building large things without fossil fuels

You're being sarcastic, right? Moslems are not animals. France has long had business dealings with its old colonies in North Africa. The Janjaweed are 2000 miles away from Algeria.

What people there want are good jobs. Oil never seems to deliver. Pump it and abandon it. Solar power will be labor-intensive. If you pay hard-working people (and it's hard to work when it's 130 degrees) well for steady long-term construction and maintenance work instead of sweatshop work, you might see some interesting political effects.

Exactly. It would provide some economic stability. You wouldn't have tons of unemployed youth running around with nothing to do.

super390, I assume that you were responding to my post (sorry, I miss the old "parent thread" button and can't figure this new system out).

Firstly - No, I was not being sarcastic. I know that Muslims are not animals. I never insinuated that. But I think you are kidding yourself if you don't believe that some portion of the Muslim world hates your white (black, brown, red) ass and doesn't want to wipe the floor with you. This may be a small percentage of the 1+ billion Muslims in the world, but they represent a potent and significant force, nonetheless. If peak oil brings more pain and suffering to the world, expect more Muslim militancy. Religious zealotry feeds on misery -- you should know this.

Secondly, I know that the Sahara is a big place -- the article that I read did not mention Algeria specifically but it should be noted that Algeria has seen some horrific violence in the past decade. At any rate, having fought a war of independence against the French only decades ago, I would be surprised to find that the Algerians have now developed a great love for France and Sarkozy.

Thirdly, you and ericy seem to think that a world based on "alternative" or "sustainable" energy would somehow be more just and socially responsible than a world that burns fossil fuel. While I would like to think that you were right, I just don't see any justification for thinking such. The world was a cruel and brutal place long before Exxon/Mobil and I have to assume that it will be thus long after the last barrel of oil is burned. Solar-powered electric-chairs, anyone?

Finally, this is just another example of a society (Europe) attempting to live beyond its means. How Europeans think that they can continue to live the good life while selectively importing wage labor and solar electricity from North Africa, escapes me. I once believed that Europeans were more enlightened than we Americans but I've come to see a great complacency amongst Europeans about the unsustainability of their way of life. They may have better train service but they are as dependent upon exploitation of foreign resources as we Americans are -- perhaps more so.

It's the little icons on the upper right edge of each post. Clicking on the speech balloon with the single arrow will take you to the parent post.

Is there any chance of turning those little icons back into words like they were originally? They add no functionality and only obscure what the link does.

A portion of the Muslim World wants to kill me and drink my blood. Another portion of the Muslim World wants the first portion to FOAD so they can have easier access to me and my money, so they can eke out a better living. If you're ever in Egypt, ask the tourist vendors in Giza how much they appreciate that rich playboy Osama Bin Laden grinding their livelihood down. Quranic purity is all well and good, but they have kids to feed and now oil money to feed them with.

Now imagine what happens if those vendors get a change to make their living selling solar gigawatts to Italy, and ObL gets in their way.

Bin Ladens brother runs a Hard Rock cafe in Cairo. His turnover just jumped when the 5 star hotel next door was bought by a Saudi who made the hotel dry.
Egypt depends big time on tourism, 2 of my nephews run a tourist bus company in Gezeh, fuel is cheap, life is good. Egypt depends on investments from the Gulf and if TSHTF then Egypt is screwed as the tourist industry will collapse and 20% of the population will lose their jobs and how will Egypt feed itself (worlds biggest importer of wheat).

If the airplane-reliant tourist industry goes belly-up, countries like Tunisia will have nothing else going for them. Given they already sort out islamists without compunction or restraint, I don't see why they would have any objection to sorting out HVDC terrorists any differently.

And in answer to your rhetorical question, I'm sure EU will be prepared to keep the lights on. Probably by sharing the benefits with the locals, rather than treating them as an amorphous enemy.

Say you are an EU utility company. Would you rather install one solar panel in Algeria or two solar panels in Germany? Same power output either way.

Personally I would rather make the investment in Southern Italy and Spain. The resource is only marginally less than North Africa and a lot more secure.


Why not employ unemployed Italian / Spanish to do the installations?

If successful, the supergrid project could supply all of Europe's electricity needs

What a bizarre thing to say - I would add 'and if it isn't successful it won't!'

For the moment the idea, which has received the political backing of French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, remains on the drawing board

As a few other comments have noted, there is a significant security issue with a trans-Med grid. It's not impossible--in fact, if the security issues are taken seriously into account right up front in the design phase, it could be quite resilient. The problem is more the transmission than the solar thermal or PV generation locations. Relatively low ROI to attack a bunch of mirrors or photovoltaic panels. Potentially very high ROI to attack transmission cables or transformer stations after centralization (and too expensive to transmit long distances with sufficient redundancy). There are a lot of lessons learned about how to create hardened transmission towers and transformer yards from Iraq, but I have doubts that they'll be implemented. None of the security measures are free (in energy or dollars), and none are fool-proof. Still, I think this idea has lots of potential--my concern is that the financial backers won't fork out for the necessary security measures until they start feeling the costs, and at that point it's too late to implement the most cost-effective security measures that must be integrated from initial design...

Easiest security measure: put a desalination plant on the beach right next to the where the cable crosses the Med. Use it to consume all excess power coming in. Make sure there IS excess power most of the time. Run aqueducts from the plant right back towards the region of the mirror arrays.

China is now the second largest oil consumer in the world at about 8 million barrels per day. They imported about 3.66 million bod this year an 11% increase over last year. They took about 350,000 more barrels per day this year. With continued 10% GDP growth; they are likely to need more oil to turn the wheels of industry.

Russia revised its 2008 oil export forecasts downward (TASS):


It is interesting to note that the Russian Economic Development Ministry has also revised its 2009 oil production forecast downward. This is evidence that the production declines were unexpected and managers eager for approval often had tendencies to overestimate their abilities to produce. They were yet scheduled to increase natural gas production.

More Russian corporations have been accused of tax evasion. This time mining companies have been challenged. There seems to be parallels between Russian and Venezuelan business policies.

Passed a gas station with $3.87 gas.

Oil sands get nod from U.S. anti-poverty group: 'All Energy Is Good'

I smell a rat. The leaders of this group are prominent members of the anti-homosexual lobby and strongly connected with the right wing establishment in America. Whatever your political views or views on homosexuality, you have to wonder whether this is an attempt to galvanize African-American voters against the Democrats through energy.

Whatever the crisis: credit, energy, resources, or climate change, the poor in every society will suffer disproportionately. About a week ago, I was trying to engage working class and middle class African-Americans with Alan's plan as a way of providing some insulation to those in economically marginal situations from fuel price shocks. (I even plugged streetcars...) I had some success, and I was glad to see that there are some grassroots activists in the African-American community conscious of peak oil.

NGOs have payrolls to meet.

He who pays the piper..

Good catch. Looks like all those right-wing black clergymen who had to back away from Bribemaster Bush after Katrina have found another outlet. Obama is the greatest threat they have faced since Martin Luther King.

The Black Clergy is quite conservative on social issues, and many on political issues. This is very different than 1960's black political activists I fought with in the street, who read Fanon, Camus etc, and were economically literate.
It has always baffled me that after being enslaved by their European and Muslim slavers, they allowed their minds to also be enslaved by the oppressors religion.

As I understand it, Dr. King faced major opposition from the established black clergymen of the South - meaning the whites let them run things in exchange for not challenging the system. Being religious, these men doubtless convinced themselves it was God's will that they be head negroes and resented Dr. King. Beliefs like that can quickly resurface and reconquer once a movement falls apart.

Or maybe not all black people buy into the victim-mentality and eternal race-baiting of Al Sharpton and his ilk? Just like there are liberals and conservatives who are white, there can be the same for black, too.

You just don't hear about the hard-working blue-collar and middle-class (and rich) black people who just want to raise their families and have a good life, because it's not a compelling news story. Think Bill Cosby, for a great example.

There is more to life than political activism, and religion is only one part as well. I would not pretend to illogically ascribe arbitrarily base motives to any sort of leader, and certainly for most churches I know of the pastor and his flock tend to be cut from similar cloth, and most are supporters and encouragers rather than inflammatory leaders.

You can certainly find vocally anti-white and anti-American black churches, like the Obama brigade, and that is more prevalent than most white people realize, but that doesn't mean it is universal nor does it mean that churches that believe differently are somehow compromised by "the man". People go to the sort of church that fits with their life and beliefs, so churches market to such needs and the ones that match up well grow, while the ones that do not fade away. Nothing sinister, just our old friend supply and demand.

King faced opposition from the Black Clergy, but his fight against racial segregation and civil rights was not opposed by the corporate elite and the liberal capitalists, as it was not a threat.
Where King became a threat was when class and economic justice issues were brought into the picture, along with questioning and opposing US imperialism.
That is when the game changed, and his existence became precarious.

For an example of the friction between community activists and other transit activists, you can look at the history of the Bus Riders Union in Los Angeles.

a lawsuit was filed by the LCSC/BRU in reaction to the proposed elimination by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the monthly pass, and allegations that funds that should have been used to provide bus service for working class people was instead being diverted to construct the Los Angeles County Metro Rail and Metrolink. The basis of the claim in the lawsuit was such projects were racist because Metro Rail and Metrolink had a greater percentage of whites in the service area than the MTA's bus service, thus discriminating against blacks and Latinos.

Good catch on those astroturfers All Energy Is Good.

From the link up top: Saudi Arabia to keep fuel oil exports on ice after summer

Apart from Qatar, all Gulf states are short of gas. Traders said they were still uncertain how long the halt on fuel oil exports would last. But most said they were planning for it to run through the end of the year at least. "We don't have a sense if this is going to go beyond December but we will plan for it," a trader said.

This is not so. Iran has even more gas reserves than Qatar. Greatest Natural Gas Reserves by Country, 2006 In trillion cubic feet.

1. Russia 1,680
2. Iran 971
3. Qatar 911
4. Saudi 241
5. U.A.E. 214
6. U.S.A. 193

The same Qatar gas field that gives them so much natural gas extends across the Iranian line in the middle of the Persian Gulf. Almost as much of it is on the Iranian side as is on the Qatar side.

Another interesting point. My friend who works for ARAMCO says they will not begin production of a well until a gas line has been laid to capture the gas as well as the oil. The gas oil separation plants are actually on the platform when it is offshore. Iran however, he said, does not follow this practice, they simply flare the gas. He said you can tell, from the air, exactly where the Saudi-Iranian line is in the Gulf by the flares on the Iranian platforms.

Ron Patterson

What is surprising to me is that the last available EIA data for Iran (for 2005) showed them to be a net gas importer:


It makes no sense to me either Jeff. Why would the country with the second larges gas reserves in the world flare gas from their oil wells and then pay to import gas? Are these people nuts?

Why would the country with the second larges gas reserves in the world flare gas from their oil wells and then pay to import gas?

Simple. The cost of processing the flared gas exceeds the cost of imported gas.

Some of the gas in the middle east has sulfur.

having a lot of trouble finding good financing terms for gas projects and finalizing export contracts with potential consumers.

beyond that there is a major dispute in the majlis (iranian parliament) over how best to use gas (from south pars). a major lobby with influence at their energy committee wants nearly all gas used to boost recovery from oil fields and for power generation domestically.

bit of deadlock over there when it comes to these projects.

the reserves numbers for south pars are meaningless outside of to say it's huge. qatar and iran entered into a bidding war of sorts in terms of naming how big their share was.

Don't forget that the US keeps the Arab monarchs in power with an implicit military guarantee. They can't just buy Iranian gas because it's available.

The longer America tries to run the world in the name of the marketplace, the more distorted the market gets. Kind of like Wall Street.

the arabs don't feel constrained not to buy iranian gas. for example (although the example here is oil i believe it illustrates the point) the iranians and iraqis started up a crude / gasoline pipeline not too long after the invasion and the anti-iranian rhetoric was firey then.

the main people looking for iranian gas are india, pakistan, and europe. all of which appear to regard american objections as more or less irrelevant to their energy security situations, similar to the european response to reagan's objection to russian gas to europe.

"The cost of processing the flared gas exceeds the cost of imported gas."

i doubt that is the case. and it may not be a cost issue at all, but an infastructure problem and lack of technology to get the job done.

"Some of the gas in the middle east has sulfur"

please dont tell that to bob shaw.

sulfur is a valuable mineral that can be extracted from the gas profitably if the volume is great enough.


i think the difference can be explained by the definition of "reserves".

reserves implies that the gas is economical to produce and market. without that what iran has is gas deposits.

Bennigan's - another victim of the recession?


"Casual dining" restaurants are being hammered. Their customers are eating at home, or "trading down" to fast food restaurants.

I read that as "Chili's Finally Won."

Once a Chilihead, always one, I guess.

It is no fun for "casual dining" in the US.

Almost everything is forbidden:

- Smoking
- Alcohol drinking
- Eating "too much".
- and and and...

No, it's really no fun to spend the holidays in the US. Lets spend the holidays in Europe. In Spain, MonteCarlo and Greek.

Smoking bans are usually local laws, and have little to do with what kind of restaurant it is. The rules will be the same at a casual dining place as at a ritzy gourmet restaurant.

Eating too much is rarely discouraged at any American restaurant. We're generally known for the astonishing size of our portions.

And Bennigan's definitely served alcohol. They had sort of an Irish pub vibe going. They were known for their beer list.

A lot of these casual dining places have bars attached.

I can agree with smoking being forbidden in a lot of places, but you are way off base when it comes to alcohol and eating "too much". Overeating is like a national pastime. Portion sizes may have shrunk a bit in reaction to inflation, but most restaurants (unless they are upscale, foodie gourmet places) serve you enough to feed you, your bulging waistline and leave enough for leftovers the next day.

A vacation in Europe sounds good, except for that Dollar/Euro conversion.

"..England no longer existed. He'd got that — somehow he'd got it. He tried again. America, he thought, has gone. He couldn't grasp it. He decided to start smaller again. New York has gone. No reaction. He'd never seriously believed it existed anyway. The dollar, he thought, had sunk for ever. Slight tremor there. Every Bogart movie has been wiped, he said to himself, and that gave him a nasty knock. McDonalds, he thought. There is no longer any such thing as a McDonald's hamburger.

He passed out. When he came round a second later he found he was sobbing for his mother. "

~~ Douglas Adams - Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

May be of interest to Alan Drake as possible competition to light rail projects at some point.

Fisher Coachworks Launches With 40' Lightweight PHEV Bus

Fisher Coachworks LLC formally launched this month and highlighted its plans to manufacture energy optimized lightweight hybrid vehicles using advanced materials and propulsion systems as well as new manufacturing technologies. Fisher’s launch product will be a 40’ Transit Bus that is nominally half the weight and gets twice the fuel economy of current hybrid buses on the market.

Is 40' the standard size for buses? I think it is.

This venture is still working on their prototype. However, I view developments of this nature as inevitable.


Glad to see that they are doing this. Energy efficient buses with advanced dispatching systems are a good short-term solution for much of suburban NA, IMHO.

Then, once people have gotten used to riding in buses, maybe they will advance to more *civilized* modes of transport - such as light rail and streetcars.

There is always hope.

Public transit based on buses is also much easier to roll out and expand. Buy some buses and set up some bus stops. (Well, of course it's much harder that).

HOWEVER, I do know of one municipality that has been a little disappointed with the efficiency of hybrid buses. Batteries didn't last as long as specified.

Extensions for Calgary's light rail system were just recently approved after years of squabbling about the exact route, above/below ground, noise, station specifics, etc, etc.

That's just for an *extension*. Getting agreement on any *new* rail system is nearly impossible in most jurisdictions, IMHO.

Look at Dallas; decades to get light rail in place. Then the trains were so full they immediately talked expansion.

Easier to roll out when the roads are already built and in good shape.


Aluminium frame, hemp composites and polycarbonate instead of glass. Batteries / super capacitor combination to do with a small CNG or diesel engine.

Chuck PV on top to power the A/C
Allow the vehicles to train together with some smart control system.
Build an electrified rail system with carriages which can carry the smaller vehicles as freight.

I thought a good idea for recycling SUV's was to mount them bumper to bumper on a freight wagon, then you can sit in them and have a realistic driving experience travelling just behind someone else whilst travelling at 500 mpg, Everyone's happy.

Silver market analyst Ted Butler looks at SemGroup's effect on the oil market.

Seems to demonstrate two things: 1. 'Speculation' in a huge way can indeed affect the market. 2. Such speculation can't continue for long before the speculator takes a huge hit and prices revert to supply-demand driven.

Big news recently is the world record loss in crude oil trading, taken by SemGroup, of Tulsa, Oklahoma, a large but mostly unknown oil pipeline, storage and trading company founded in 2000. To my knowledge, the reported $3.2 billion loss is the second largest commodity debacle ever, only behind the $6 billion loss recorded by Amaranth Advisers two years ago in natural gas.


Hmmm ... didn't Bernanke tell Congress that there has been no speculation going on that would materially affect the price of oil?

I believe that this is the group that was forced to reclassify itself from 'commercial' to 'speculator' because of the nature of its trading. My own understanding is that as a commercial trader, actually buying and storing crude in normal hedging activity, this would have had a normal affect on the market in terms of supply-demand. The reclassification was, I think, what caused the whipsaw up and then down in the spot price. Others more knowledgeable correct me if I'm wrong.

In fact in the recently cited Rick Santelli YouTube video, Santelli says at the end that he doesn't see anything suggestive of [large continual rollover position] jumping out at him. Perhaps he would have seen this SemGroup position 'jump out' at him had they been properly classified as speculator rather than commercial. And then, SemGroup would have taken losses much sooner in the game and abandoned the position before it got so large.

The debate goes on...

I have been keeping a list of the outright lies people (including gov. reps and McCain) parrot to support drilling the OCS and ANWR such as:

“The Chinese are preparing to drill in Cuban waters less than 50 miles off the coast of Florida”

Well, I have discovered another one and I am so mad I can hardly see straight:

“Hurricane Katrina destroyed dozens of drilling rigs without causing a single spill.”

Another big fat lie according to these:



My apologies if we have discussed this already.


Not that I think it supports drilling in the areas you mentioned but China, as well as Petrobras, the Brazilian company, are currently negotiating mineral leases with Cuba. But, as I say, that doesn't increase or decrease the importance of drilling in other areas of the OCS. Canada has been drilling and producing oil off the east coast of north America for over 30 years. That doesn't prove or disprove the potential of the east coast of the US...it's just the facts.

"Canada has been drilling and producing oil off the east coast of north America for over 30 years."

Yes, both off Newfoundland and off Florida. Sherritt International of Toronto produces about 60,000 b/d in Cuba by "directional drilling" towards Florida.

"...derives most of its production from oil fields located at Yumuri, Varadero, Canasi, and Puerto Escondido along the north coast of Cuba between Havana and Cardenas. These near-shore oil reservoirs are accessed by directional drilling from land-based rigs."

Sherritt International in Cuba

But if the media wants to blame the Chinese, it's fine with me :)

How far can those directional wells go?

My measurement on Google Earth puts Florida almost 100 miles at it's nearest point to Cuba.

The graphic in your link shows pipelines about 19 miles into the straight of Florida (but then it's cut off).

So, someone(s) is/are drilling off the coast of Cuba, but not China, and it doesn't look like it is "less than 50 miles off the coast of Florida".


I scanned the Katrina report (admittedly quickly) and couldn't find numbers on oil spills. I'm sure a good bit of refined product had to be spilled but I couldn't find those numbers. The only concrete section was:

11.1 Conclusions
The conclusions reached during the performance of the study of the pipeline damage reports generated as a result of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita is that by and large, the pipelines are performing very well during Hurricane events, and that design code changes are not necessary.

Page 27:

The data is categorized by storm and source locations, and captures all spills one barrel or larger from federal OCS facilities that resulted from damages related to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. As a result of both storms, 124 spills were reported with a total volume of roughly 17,700 barrels of total petroleum products, of which about 13,200 barrels were crude oil and condensate from platforms, rigs and pipelines, and 4,500 barrels were refined products from platforms and rigs.

Pipelines were accountable for 72 spills totaling about 7,300 barrels of crude oil and condensate spilled into the GOM. Response and recovery efforts kept the impacts to a minimum with no onshore impacts from these spill events.

p.s. avoid pages 8 to at least 18 – big graphics that locked up my Firefox.

Glad you came up with the estimated figures. Put into perspective. This is from hundreds of wells & pipelines that stretch from Mobile to way down the Texas coast in an area that is often over 150 miles offshore. Millions of acres. Purge from your mind pictures of Santa Barbra and Alaska, it didn't happen around here.

Thanks CSS. Just too busy to digest the whole piece in detail. But do you consider the volumes reported significant? Not that any oil in the water is good but I suspect sport fishermen put at least that much into the Gulf every year. But there should be concern. I think we were very lucky with those two storms. It impossible to avoid accidents forever and a half million bbls of oil could have been dumped into the Gulf. But such is life.

Total BS. Sorry, but you are totally wrong. There were no significant spills from platforms or pipelines. There were minor oil spills from water displacing underground service station tanks, boats and barges that were sunk and flood water over topping containment levees and refinery tanks and bulk plants on water ways and low lying areas. We are talking diesel, gasoline, kerosene, and naphtha type fluids. The vast majority were light refined fluids that evaporate quickly. Think sheen on the water type things in the areas effected. There were no areas where crude oil spilled, there were no areas where hundreds of birds were coated in crude or sticky crude fouling marsh, etc. There was a concerted effort by a number of trial attorneys to convince people that if a gallon of any petroleum product got near them or if they lived in the same parish that had a refinery or storage tanks that they could join a class action law suit and become rich. I never saw one picture, TV cast or whatever of a crude oil spill for Katrina or Rita. I personally know a number of people that work offshore and none knew of any pipeline or platform that leaked crude. I also live in extreme South Louisiana and had friends who lost homes, business, and boats to Katrina. I got hammered by Rita and helped move people that had to abandon their flooded homes and visited many costal areas.

Storage tanks in Chalmette refinery shifted and spilled large amounts of oil. All homes affected received buyout offers higher than the pre-storm value and almost everyone sold. The residue in mid-October 2005 was significant. The refinery is using the new land for expansion.

There was a lingering smell of petroleum products (and 1,100+ dead bodies, etc.) a month after Katrina. The "bath tub" ring is still occasionally seen.


Alan I am aware of what happen around Chalmette and Laplace. Reread what I said. I was talking about offshore platforms and pipelines. I do believe I noted there was spillage and leaking from water over topping containment levees.

My job has kept me busy lately and I am behind on my TOD reading. Can someone update me on the consensus about current price trends?

I assume we temporarily shutdown consumption enough to scare the "speculators" off. Is the next upswing in price mapped to the first cold snap in the heating oil corridor?

Peak Oil Meets IPCC Scenario Builders?

New topic: The Oil Drum and other energy-focused forums have occasionally touched on the relationship between future fossil-fuel scarcity and the assumptions for energy supply built into most of the IPCC models. The general assessment, from the Peak-Oil camp, seems to be that most of the 20-some scenarios modeled for IPCC reports are wildly optimistic in regards to their assumptions about oil, gas and coal supplies - taking their data most likely from EIA with its foundation in USGS estimates.

Now some might accuse us of throwing our lot in with Climate Change Deniers, if such modification to the models causes them to generate less catastrophic consequences than they do presently. Yet I would argue that the IPCC modelers, in the interests of scientific integrity, should commit to using the best available data for their models. And I would humbly suggest that projections of oil, gas, and coal production after 2010, and recoverable reserve estimates, coming from various ASPO-xxx and TOD experts are more credible than those offered by EIA, CERA, or their optomistic colleagues.

In addition, I would buttress the argument for better FF data by saying that the models aren't good enough - we simply don't know where the "tipping points" are, beyond which positive feedback effects might overwhelm deliberate (and painful) cutbacks in CO2 and methane production, with further human efforts having no ability to reverse the course of warming. We don't know if the tipping point is after the next 10 billion tons of CO2, or 100 billion tons, or never. I would also remind participants that scarcity of natural gas and oil will increase pressure to accelerate coal extraction and burning, which - without a global-scale commitment to carbon capture and sequestration - would not be a good thing.

Here's the central point: We may have an opportunity to put a few Peak Oil experts in the same room with IPCC modelers to address this problem. If that opportunity presents itself sometime within the next 2 months, here's the question:

Who would you recommend from the Peak Oil scene, to present the case for better-informed fossil-fuel estimates, in a face-to-face meeting with IPCC modelers?

As examples, a couple of possibilities:
- Richard Heinberg?
- "Ace" from TOD?
- Stuart Staniford?
- Euan Mearns?

Thanks in advance for your feedback and ideas!

- Dick Lawrence
Email: dlawrence (at) aspo-usa (dot) com

Khebab, and have him present our (principally his) work on the top five net oil exporters.

I kinda think it will be a wash. Yes, there will be less oil and natural gas burned than they think. But it will probably be made up by burning everything else - coal, plastic pipes, asphalt, trees, etc. This already a problem in parts of Asia and Africa. People are burning waste plastic (to create heat for ceramics manufacture, etc.) even though it's illegal. They're cutting down every tree in sight, legally or no.

I think environmental rules will be the first thing thrown overboard when it gets to be crunch time. (Remember Bush suspending the EPA gasoline regulations after Katrina?) The drop in the amount of fuel burned will be offset by the dirtier fuels and burning processes.

I agree with you Leanan. Unless they implode economicly it's diffcult to not imagine China flooding the world with coal generated C02 way beyond any effort to offset global warming.

Leanan -

As someone who has spent most of his working life in the environmental field, I couldn't agree with you more.

Business interests in the US have never taken environmental protection seriously, their PR campaigns and cheap talk about 'environmental commitments' and 'stewardship' notwithstanding. All the billions 'invested' in air and water pollution control and waste management, were the result of regulatory coercion, not cooperation on the part of industy.

When Reagan got to the White House, it didn't take long for the blatant dismantling of environmental enforcement to begin. Industry knew this, and started to adopt a new tough stance against state and federal environmental enforcemen, because they knew they had a friend in Washington and could afford to play tough.

So, it doesn't take much of a leap of imagination to envision an almost total gutting of environmental regulations and initiatives if that's what it takes to squeeze the last remaining hydrocarbons out of the earth. We will probably have worse air and water pollution and poor waste management in the years to come. The stated rationale will be that we're in a state of emergency, but the real reason is that industry will see a rare political opportunity to roll back many of those pesky environmental regulations once and for all.

Look at how fast public opinion has done a complete 180 with regard to drilling in ANWR.

And let us not forget Hansen, et al., believe we actually need to go backwards and that the gases already in the air are enough to create a goodly bit of trouble and maybe tip us over important tipping points.

Then there's the new methane releasing in the Arctic...


I would argue that env laws have already been evaded simply by shipping the worst industries overseas where enforcement is non-existent rather than lax.

Certainly we'll see all these laws ratchet back, but as exchange rates favor US production some net improvement may occur by repatriation of manufacturing, as I think we'll have it better than many nations. When the crash comes to each region there will be a big, dirty spike followed by a long decline in CO2 as fuel, food, and then people disappear. I'm not sure net pollution for a region won't come down pretty quickly after a crash -- we've spent millions of years of stored energy in the past few decades, and I bet it'll only take a few more years to burn through the few years of accumulated energy we still have to show for it.

In the US, though, it'll get worse slowly as public sentiment shifts, then spike up as true hardships hit, and then I'm not sure. I still think the US (and other energy-producing, food-producing nations) may land more softly than many others (heavy food, heavy energy importers go down first, I believe, in reverse order of wealth).

Worldwide, I imagine it'll be Easter Island super-sized, or maybe more like Haiti without any sustenance from outside. That may happen here too, or else we just shoot everybody at the borders as they come? I imagine we'll have canary countries that will take the lead in illustrating post-peak scenarios, and though our predictions will improve there will be little we can actually do to change things.

In any case, I think the area under the pollution curve is post-peak along with FF, and pollution will tend toward becoming a self-solving issue.

paleocon -

I seriously doubt that net pollution will come down quickly with a seriously deteriorating economy. If we assume that the enforcement of environmental regulations will take a back seat to an energy emergency, then it becomes a race between lessening industrial output and increased air and water pollution due to lax or non-existent regulation. (Keep in mind: regulations are not quite like laws, as there is always a lot of wiggle room built in.)

You've got to realize that even as late as the early 1970s, the largely unregulated major US industries spewed out many times the amount of air and water pollution than they do now. Ditto for automotive transportation. So, even if you were to cut industrial output in half, if you take the environmental controls off, you could wind up with several times the amount of air and water pollution compared to what we have now.

And it's not just point-source emissions. Some of the more serious negative environmental impacts will be more of a structural nature, such as the increased strip-mining of coal, the massive working of the landscape to get at tar sands, oil shale, massive corn to ethanol, etc.

No, I seriously do not think the problem will be anything close to self-correcting. What I do think will happen is that environmental problems will be studiously ignored in the panic to keep the whole fossil-fuel-based economic machine going. This is easy to do because environmental problems, aside from the more acute ones, tend to be subtle long-term things that are easy to ignore over the short term.

And perhaps in the big picture that's the way it should be. Maybe it's all a matter of first things first. Maybe a healthy environment will allow too many people to live longer than is convenient.

I think you should talk to Dave Rutledge at CalTech about the coal question.

nice lecture
still can't find faith in modelers.

First Tesla in Real World "Crash Test"


Apparently it was "unnoticeable". I expect he may be waiting a while for parts.

Energy Export Databrowser -- en Español

Me gustaría un pocito de ayuda.

I would like a little help from any native Spanish speakers out there.

I have just updated the Energy Export Databrowser with a Spanish language version. I do this as an outreach effort to our friends south of the border with the hope that it can help spread the message that decreasing production cannot keep ahead of increasing consumption.

My own facility with Spanish es muy mal (to put it mildly) and I'd love it if somebody out there could poke around and see if I've got reasonable translations of key phrases and correct verb conjugations in the user interface and in the data graphics.

Muchas gracias por alguna ayuda!

-- Jon

!Excelente! Un recurso valioso para hispanohablantes en cualquier parte del mundo.

A few comments:
I would tweak the title: "Explore la histoia deL [add an "l"] uso de hidrocarburos en más de 100 naciones y regiones."

You title it "Energy Export Databrowser" but really it's showing production, consumption, export and import for coal, oil and gas, by country. So to be more descriptive, seems like your title should read something like: "Navegador de datos sobre fuentes y usos de energia por pais".

Thanks for the input. I corrected the typo and am using your title, though I had to shorten it to make it fit better: "Navegador de fuentes y usos de energía por país".

Hello TODers,

More evidence of my speculative "Federal Reserve Banks of I-NPK'?

Fertilizer company plants seeds of growth

Mike Stegmann smiles as he strolls past towering white peaks of fertilizer pellets in an immense new storage and shipping facility, dubbed "the cathedral" by one of his Lange-Stegmann Co. employees.

...To capitalize, the company built the center, which is the nation's largest inland river fertilizer import terminal.

..."It's a big business. We're talking about thousands and thousands of cars moving fertilizer, Kaufman said.
Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

This article mentions that the urea based N fertilizers, like that sold by the company in the story, have an advantage over the ammonia based N fertilizers due to the spike in domestic natural gas prices. The urea is also made with natural gas but is mostly produced in countries that have abundant and cheap gas. As US farmers depend more on this "foreign" fertilizer source I can see another problem for the US economy. More reliance on other nations to keep our economy ( and now food production sector) running will make the US subservient to outside interests.

First the oil energy production goes offshore, then manufacturing sector goes offshore, now food production and its support industries (fertilizer) goes offshore. US government, corporations and citizens now at the mercy of many foreign masters.

Breaking news--Yes, actually, physically breaking

Giant chunks break off Canadian ice shelf

Giant sheets of ice totaling almost eight square miles broke off an ice shelf in the Canadian Arctic last week and more could follow later this year, scientists said on Tuesday....

EARTHQUAKE hits LA too-5.8

It wasn't really an earthquake, just the real estate market "making an adjustment."

Hello TODers,

Scotiabank Commodity Price Index Posts Sixth Consecutive Monthly Record in June

...sulphur prices at the Port of Vancouver leapt to US$750 per tonne in June, up from US$660 in May and only US$55 a year earlier, producing the biggest spike (up 1,264 per cent year-over-year) in the history of the Scotiabank Commodity Price Index...

...Spot potash prices for overseas sales were unchanged in June at an
average of US$525 per tonne, but have jumped to US$762.50 in July.

...Following the lead of Belarussian Potash Company (BPC), Canpotex has now sold significant spot volumes for shipment to Asian markets in the fourth quarter at US$1,000 cfr (delivered, standard grade) and has advised customers that all new spot sales over the balance of 2008 to Southeast Asia, Brazil and Latin America will be at the US$1,000 cfr level (US$1,025 for granular). This will
lift prices to about US$900 at the Port of Vancouver in the fourth quarter, up 211 per cent year-over-year.
Have you hugged your bag of NPK today?

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

I thought these neurons had long since fizzled...

The Merry Minuet

Not bad for the 50s.


Here is a good new map showing new production from the Haynesville shale.


map showing the leasing activity:

Thanks boby. My company won't show thier map because it's proprietary.
There are few secrets in the oil patch (smirk).

From http://www.eia.doe.gov/oil_gas/petroleum/data_publications/wrgp/mogas_ho...

I hadn't checked out this chart in a while...it's had a bit of a growth spurt!

Gotta love that plunge around August 2006! Wasn't really justified was it?

Yes, Magus, isn't it unusually (cough-cough) coincidental that the price of gasoline always seems to dip down in the run up to every election. I always figured it was the oil companies willingness to take less profit to support their great benefactors, their Republican representatives in DC, to help them remain in power. And as we can see from that graph, prices are dipping in a similar timeline to the 06 elections. Should be less to fill up until the Nov. elections are over. And that's probably why the IEA has put off until Nov. their release of a report adjusting (probably downward) each oil producing country's estimated reserves. Should be a shocking high price for gasoline come winter, especially if the Dems gain the White House, as payback - Ouch! Do we vote Republican so we can get lower petrol prices at least during elections, with the trade off of providing our tax money for their coffers, or do we opt for health coverage? I'll take health coverage.

When it is dark in the African Desert, it is dark in Europe.

US Crude Inventory Levels
Data for May - September
Numbers in Millions of barrels (Mb)

Week2007 2008
05 02 341.2 325.6
05 09 342.2 325.7
05 16 344.2 320.4
05 23 342.2 311.6
05 30 342.3 306.8
06 06 342.4 302.2
06 13 349.3 301.0
06 20 350.9 301.8
06 27 354.0 299.8
07 04 352.6 293.9
07 11 352.1 296.9
07 18 351.0 295.3
07 25 344.5
08 01 340.4
08 08 335.2
08 15 337.1
08 22 333.6
08 29 329.7
09 05 322.6
09 12 318.8

Notice that during May 2007, levels stayed about even.
In May 2008, they dropped 18.8 million barrels.

During June 2007, the inventory increased 11.7 Mb
In June 2008, it fell 7.0 Mb, a swing of 18.7 Mb

11 weeks ago, the Crude Stocks were 15.6 Mb below last years. Today they are 55.7 Mb lower than this time last year.

July is shaping up to be about even with 2007.

If this trend of stock levels staying even with 2007, or falling significantly each month in comparison continues, then I anticipate a best case scenario of stock levels falling at the same rate as last year.
This will happen unless either imports increase compared to last year (currently they are lower!), or demand decreases very significantly.

It is entirely possible that US Crude Stocks will be 264 Mb in 8 weeks from now, and if the trend from July 2007 to January 2008 continues from now until January 2009, then stocks will fall to about 227 Mb. This is in 24 weeks.

The question is: How low will stocks go before traders get worried about them and start sending the price back up?

It's interested that even with the tremendous rally today, oil prices did not break through $120/bbl. I do not think that the drop in consumer spending has been enough to lower the price to these levels and consequently I do not foresee oil going below $110/bbl, as much as the Saudis and the banker boyz would like us to believe it.

Hubbert linearization and westtexas

I really thank you for your post. I think that you may want to create a time-dependent variable that allows for changes in the URR--I do not believe that the time dependent change would be complicatedc. This would allow you to better emulate the time-dependent nature of your estimation.


"Frankly, I hear there are tankers all over the world that are loaded up to the gills with oil," he told CNBC.

The Donald has spoken.

I'm sure he correct...an empty tanker doesn't make any money.

Hello TODers,

Pakistan is rapidly becoming a big mess:

India and Pakistan traded blame yesterday after their troops fought a 16-hour gun battle across a disputed border in Kashmir in what Delhi described as the most serious violation to date of a 2003 ceasefire agreement.

Islamic militants seized a security post in Pakistan's troubled northwest Tuesday, capturing at least 25 police and troops in a raid that underscored the government's weak grip on territory near the Afghan border.

Extremists also killed two security officers elsewhere in the Swat Valley, a day after three intelligence agents died in an ambush in the same area in further blows to the hopes of Pakistani leaders that they can tame Islamic hard-liners through peace negotiations.

Pakistan's central bank raised its key interest rate by 100 basis points to 13% on Tuesday to fight what it called "alarming" inflationary pressures.

The State Bank of Pakistan raised rates for the third time this year, citing "the risk related to the rising external current account and fiscal deficits and worsening inflation outlook."

A top Central Intelligence Agency official traveled secretly to Islamabad this month to confront Pakistan’s most senior officials with new information about ties between the country’s powerful spy service and militants operating in Pakistan’s tribal areas, according to American military and intelligence officials.

Unending misery

Twelve people in Punjab committed suicide in one day due to poverty the other day...

...Almost one-third of Pakistan’s population lives below the poverty line. The poor man works endlessly for two meals a day, and when the food prices increase so steeply, it is impossible for the poor to get even two square meals a day. Such has been the misery of the poor man in Pakistan. This story is not just peculiar to the urban dweller. Inflation has equally affected the rural dwellers too. Gone are the days when the food-growing peasantry was self-sufficient in providing food for itself.
Of course, much more bad news if you do a google search.

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

..and sure enough, it just got worse:

Curfew imposed in Pakistani valley after unrest
The Associated Press
Published: July 30, 2008

PESHAWAR, Pakistan: The Pakistani military says a round-the-clock curfew has been imposed in a restive mountain valley in the northwest amid a spike in militant violence.

The army spokesman's office says the curfew was declared indefinitely throughout the Swat Valley on Wednesday.

Troops are patrolling and security forces have exchanged fire with militants in some areas of the valley. A pro-Taliban cleric has warned of suicide attacks against the government...

Lets think about this a bit.

Which is worse, an government run by Islamic Fundamentalist who are building uranium enrichment facilities, or a government taken over by Islamic Fundamentalist where that nation already has nuclear weapons and delivery systems?

Looking at a bit differently, can the U.S. military fight 3 wars at once? What about doing 4 at the same time?

E. Swanson

Black_Dog: I did what you asked and thought about gov
run by Muslims VS Christians or Jews. I found history
littered with examples where Muslim run goverments
took in Jews persicuted by Christians and gave them
equal rights and protected them. Palestine when run by
a Muslim gov,welcomed Christians and Jews and all lived in peace together,all were allowed to worship
according to their beliefs.Today many tens of thousands of Jews live and prosper in IRAN and no one
is trying to kill any of them.They are free to leave or come back without restriction.
I dont feel the need to inform you on how Muslims are
treated in Israel...or Christians for that matter.
Turkey has a large Muslim pop as does Morroco as does
every Muslim country...save for Suadi and a minority
of others.
Please be advised this topic is rife with disinformation ...but everything I stated I
can verify using Israeli or American gov sources.
PS: The worst Muslim gov's are puppets of America or
former empires.

Took them in, yes. Equal rights, no. Just oppressed them less severely.

So when did Palestine welcome Jews and Christians?

Sorry Nephilim but you are dead wrong.
Christians were and are 2nd class citizens in every muslim country that has ever existed, no exeptions.
In most muslim countries a Christian may not proslesize any muslem, nor may they fully practice their religious belief. As a Christian in Egypt I have regularly seen Muslims handing out religious phamplets on the Metro, a Christian doing the same would be arrested.
If I critisize Mohamed I would go to jail for blasphemy (currently over 10,000 Christians in Egypt in detention for breaking religious laws and mostly without charge under the state of emergency laws).

can the U.S. military fight 3 wars at once? What about doing 4 at the same time?

The Paul Harvey 'solution' comes to mind.


that the U.S. should use its nuclear weapons against the two countries

I'd think the 1st step would be to have congress actually draft up an actual declaration of war - just to see how much 'support' there is for a 'fight'.

Truly scary stuff eric. The next president may become the poster child for "Be careful what you wish for". It seems to me the future is a more a question of "how bad will it be" then "will it work out OK"