Gloom and Doom - with a smile - the ASPO-USA 4 meeting in Sacramento

The ASPO conference in Sacramento began here Sunday, September 21, just after lunch – with a set of three concurrent sessions. Unfortunately I could only be in one place, and that was tied by structure, so my report on this afternoon is thus a little constrained.

The first track dealt with Reporting the Oil Story, and while the speaker list was strong, including Rob Collier, Bart Anderson of the Energy Bulletin, and Neil King of the WSJ, in the first session – having to sneak through the back of a mass to get to the room may have limited attendance a little. The second part of that track included presentations by Stuart Leavenworth of the Sacramento Bee; Lisa Margonelli of the New America foundation; Tom Whipple, who gives us the Peak Oil Daily News, and Review.

The largest room was set aside for the second track which dealt with Investing in the New Energy Economy. Jim Hansen; Atticus Lowe and Jim Puplava talked in the first session, while Brian Davidson; Dan Bednarz; Rep. Terry Backer; John Kaufmann and Dick Lawrence of ASPO, were in the second.

The “Oil Drum” track was the third, and upstairs in the hotel. While both sessions were full, by the second we were out of even standing room, but despite the crowding the sessions went well. Unfortunately there were some circumstances that led to a slight change in program, and thus instead of hiding in the back and quietly scribbling, I was out at the front to moderate the first “Analyses from the Oil Drum” session of track three.

Gail the Actuary led off the three presentations. Given the grim news out of Washington this past week, her talk on “Peak Oil and the Economy” was given in an attentive silence. Others have since commented on how cheerful she was presenting what had to be one of the more pessimistic of her presentations, beginning her presentation with her definition of an actuary as “an accountant without a sense of humor.” She noted that as oil supply drops, so will likely GDP, based on (among other things) an analysis of Robert Hirsch’s showing that there is approximately a one to one correlation between the change in oil supply and change in GDP. She went on to point out that our society is built around the concept of continuous growth and prosperity, so that we anticipate paying for our debts with money when we are older, and have a more prosperous condition. If oil supply is tight, the higher price of food and fuels robs families of their discretionary incomes and that prosperity. This in turn makes it more difficult to repay debt. Because of these forces, she considers that either a recession or depression is highly likely.

Once the economy levels off, or starts to decline, societal priorities change. One cannot pay off debts if one is laid off, and while oil prices may not be the total cause of current crises, certainly it is a contributor. Default rates of all kinds are likely to increase. This will lead to it becoming harder to borrow money (including for things such as new oil drilling rigs). Thus smaller oil and gas companies may be hurt, as the economy transitions. The drop in the value of the dollar will lead to a drop in the standard of living and a lower contribution from Social Security.

The gloom of Gail’s talk, was not relieved by Charles Watson who talked about how the contribution that he makes to the Oil Drum came about. His talk was on “The Vulnerability of the Oil and Gas Industry to Hurricanes and other Hazards.” He talked about the power of hurricanes, and that, through time, modeling of their behavior and damage potential has become more accurate. After having begun with the impact of Ivan, his work has concentrated on the impact on the oil infrastructure, with the loss of platforms that may not be replaced, because the return does not justify the investment.

Hurricanes may not come more frequently, but his models suggest that when they do come, they will be of greater intensity, and will not lose that strength as quickly as they have in the past. He noted that his results usually predict a little lower damage than those of the National Hurricane Center, but that this is due to a difference in mission. As a consequence his usually end up as being the more accurate.

Dave Summers then gave a talk on “The Other Resource Lack – Time and Technology,” in which he first explained why (due to well geometry changing), he is more pessimistic than many about current depletion rates, which he equated to around 5.2%. He then went on to talk about the problems of peaking and then falling supplies of oil and natural gas. He was a little skeptical of the Pickens Plan to allow a switch to natural gas for driving vehicles, due to a shortage of natural gas, and then slid into a discussion of in-situ combustion, where he showed a tool that could drill laterals out from vertical well bores, based on jet drilling. Pointing out that while there is a critical need for engineering as part of the solution to the growing oil shortage, he noted that there was a major drop in the interest in high school children in science and engineering, and that at the same time the number of faculty in fossil fuel industries were dropping with very few qualified people available to replace them. This will limit the ability to find new solutions and apply new technology if we don't have the background or personnel to either generate the new ideas that are needed, or to implement it. He also mentioned the potentials for coal:water slurries to replace diesel fuel, and of growing algae underground as having advantages over the only surface economic growth plan, which involves using “racetracks.”

After the break Prof. Goose moderated the second Oil Drum session, with Robert Rapier freshly arrived from Europe, discussing the reliability of information from the major sources available. He talked of the credible and dubious parts of the information that is available from the EIA, the IEA and CERA. The EIA is where he goes first to get data, especially concentrating on This week in Petroleum. But he felt that the EIA was terrible at forecasting either the price of fuel, or the supply quantities that would be available at future times.

He goes to the IEA site second to get information on statistics, and for the most current information on oil supply.

And finally he commented on CERA and the BP Statistical Review.

Jeff Vail then talked about the geopolitical situation and the impact of societal and political events on production. Just as the easiest oil to extract was the first out, so also, he pointed out that this was in areas where the political climate was most stable. Pipelines, he felt, have become a step in inducing fixture into the fungibility of oil, and that the vulnerability of this infrastructure is increasingly being taken advantage of by agents of insurrection. Because of the global internet, knowledge of the vulnerability of the infrastructure is rapidly spreading and we are starting to see the global impact. The problem has arisen through the growth of feedback loops which inflate the effect of certain terrorist actions. He felt that we were passed the point where the rate of change in supply had turned negative, and that this is a flag showing the approach of peak oil.

The final speaker of the afternoon was JoulesBurn, who wrote about the way in which he has been able, by tracking from satellite images, to work out the location and condition of oil and gas wells in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This led to his own blog, and to us. He talked, with evidence, of the approaching collapse of the Northern section of Ghawar in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. As a result of his study he has some questions on future productivity of Haradh III.

After a reception the meeting then re-convened with Peter Wells giving a talk on why his view of the coming oil production rates was much higher than the estimates that we have come up with. He had used extensive data files available from IHS, but pointed out that these were not his only source of information. His predictions did not see a peak until out beyond 2020, and at that point the world would be at around 105 mbd. In making the assessment he divided the world into OPEC and non-OPEC groups, with the non-OPEC community having already peaked. Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq have not yet, and he was looking, in this time frame, to see perhaps 5 mbd from Iraq. He foresaw Saudi Arabia maintaining and increasing production with Enhanced Oil Recovery techniques being introduced before long. It was certainly a brave presentation--given the audience he was presenting it to-–and he faced the resulting questions with equanimity.

Oh, and if you want a different view of the conference you might drop in on one of Charles Hall’s students who is also blogging the conference and may have attended other sessions. And since I missed some of the sessions, and was involved in part of those described, please provide your own information and views in the comments. Thanks!

Reporting the Oil Story here's your dose of Doomer porn for the day:
The Mexican energy ministry Pemex has reported that oil production fell 9.2% over the first eight months of 2008 compared with the same period in 2007, leaving exports down 16%.

Cantarell was down 2.3% from its July level, is this an accelerating decline or just a one-off?? Hold tight going down. Hang on in there for next month's exciting report, same time same channel.

As I write this WTI has jumped over $18, hold tight going up, next stop soiled underwear, who knows. Has Yergin said oil is going down???

More scary stuff, in today's independent newspaper "Exclusive: The methane time bomb"

How much are we supposed to tip(ping point)?

Sorry no smiles from me today, spent all last week talking with bankers so just pissed off right now with how the sheeple are only interested in trivia.

Their exclusive isn't quite so exclusive as they claim. This has already been reported, and posted and commented on here. Here's the first link I could find.

Thanks for the link. This piece does go into greater detail, particularly about the chimneys and the extent.

Some other stuff:


ADD: Got these links from your link.


ccpo, thanks for this I knew of the hydrates before but thought this was a new report! Oh well just another reminder not to trust the media too much.

On the subject of trust and getting my smiles back today, I received this Nigerian 419 email today, what do you think should I do?? It sounds soo good, money for nothing, chicks for free. After all J.P. Morgan paid lehman 138 billion dollars after Lehman had already filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, so why can't I have a share?

"Dear American:

I need to ask you to support an urgent secret business relationship with a transfer of funds of great magnitude.

I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic of America. My country has had crisis that has caused the need for large transfer of funds of 800 billion dollars US. If you would assist me in this transfer, it would be most profitable to you.

I am working with Mr. Phil Gram, lobbyist for UBS, who will be my replacement as Ministry of the Treasury in January. As a Senator, you may know him as the leader of the American banking deregulation movement in the 1990s. This transaction is 100% safe.

This is a matter of great urgency. We need a blank check. We need the funds as quickly as possible. We cannot directly transfer these funds in the names of our close friends because we are constantly under surveillance. My family lawyer advised me that I should look for a reliable and trustworthy person who will act as a next of kin so the funds can be transferred.

Please reply with all of your bank account, IRA and college fund account numbers and those of your children and grandchildren to so that we may transfer your commission for this transaction. After I receive that information, I will respond with detailed information about safeguards that will be used to protect the funds. "

Yours Faithfully
Minister of Treasury
I'm Comrade Hank Paulson and i endorse this request

The Administration and Secretary Paulson are giving the bum's rush to Congress just as Bush did with the Iraq war authorization. They failed in their duty to oversee the financial markets and relied on the free market ideology of the Republican Right which has now failed big time.

Ariana Huffington has a good post on her site. Her point is: Why should we let the bums who did this to the country define the fix?

It's a good point IMO. Rather than spending $700 Billion on Wall Street and banker bail outs, why not spend the same $700 billion on mortgage bailouts for homeowners who have screwed up. It kills two birds with one huge stone.

The defaulting mortgages are made whole again as well as the bankers and Wall Street. Every body wins. What's not to like?

If the bailout goes through as proposed, it should include a tax increase on corporations as well as upper income individuals to pay for it. Socialism for the rich should be paid for by the rich IMO.

Isn't that what the Right always tries to do when any social programs are aimed at lower incomes?

You forgot to add this:

P.S: Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.

Taken from Section 8 of the initial plan (

Oh, and I like the part about all financial institutions become "an agent of the U.S. Government."

Wow, imagine Goldman Sachs and your 401k as agents of Henry IX.

Khebab, old motto i just made up, what you don't ask for you don't get. First point in negotiating is to ask for something larger than what you expect to setle for, unlimited powers and no recourse sounds good to me.

If they get away with this they will just come back and ask for more. Next round, cut social security - do you have this in the USSA?

Right now the option of doing nothing is worse than this bailout since everything would completely freeze. Even though it would cost me big I am coming to the conclusion we cannot let these bar stewards get away with it and need to fire all the "investment" bankers just leaving those necessary for regular business.

and this:
Draft Notice For The Banks: The proposed financials "bailout" creates a Selective Service for banks and other money interests. Grab a hold of this...
Section 1...
Sec. 2. Purchases of Mortgage-Related Assets.
(a) ...
(b) Necessary Actions...
(1) ...
(2) ...
(3) designating financial institutions as financial agents of the Government, and they shall perform all such reasonable duties related to this Act as financial agents of the Government as may be required of them;

Dear XYZ Bank,
you are hereby legally drafted to serve at the government's pleasure.The Federal Sovereign Executive Branch rules, not Congress or the Supremes. Do not be so foolish as to misinterpret the word "reasonable". You are duly advised our drafting authority allows no recourse to protest or appeal. Only in that respect is it different from a Military Draft wherein you may request a Court Martial.
BTW, can someone explain the difference between a military draft and slavery?...or involuntary servitude?

the difference between a military draft and slavery?...or involuntary servitude?

It's easy really, we draft, they enslave or involuntary servitude (that's not a real word!!) The first is legal because we are doing it, the other two are not because we're not, unless of course we are doing it for a good reason then it's in the interests of the people isn't it especially if we have managed to whip them up against something like commies, bin laden, saddam.... Heck, there's not much of a difference really is there?

Sounds like a good set of presentations -are we going to get them posted here at some point?


She (Gail) noted that as oil supply drops, so will likely GDP, based on (among other things) an analysis of Robert Hirsch’s showing that there is approximately a one to one correlation between the change in oil supply and change in GDP.

Assuming we are about to go into a NET energy decline then unless our ability to increase efficiency is greater than the decline rate I have to agree. We may find that there is a fundamental shift towards 'efficiency' in the coming decades as a sort of major Industry in itself. The societal transformation will be complete when people boast not of their vehicles Horsepower but of how many miles per gallon (L/Km) it is able to get and have this comment received with the respect it deserves...

Regards, Nick.

I rarely see a get-together I regret not attending.This,however is one.

We were promised that the presentations would be posted to the ASPO web site about 24 hours (plus minus) after the meeting. The organisers have done a great job in putting this together, and it seems to be flowing a lot better than last year, so I would cut them at least 15 minutes slack over that estimate.

I am not sure that we will post the individual papers, there is so much else to comment on, but from past experience they will be referred to frequently in posts in the year ahead (with references).

ASPO-USA has said they will have the presentations up about 24 hours after the end of the conference. I'm imagine we will have posts about most of the presentations.

It has been a good opportunity to get better acquainted with some of the TOD staff and to meet some TOD readers. Quite a few of the readers have ideas for articles I should write. I'll have to see how much I can get done.

1) It was a great conference: I was sad only that there weren't 3 of me to cover all 3 tracks on Sunday.... Thanks goodness Mon/Tues were single-tracked.

2) As for energy & efficiency, I really recommend Robert Ayres' paper,, see especially the last page, which models the US economy as a function of technical efficiency, and it's not pretty. Then, that might excite people to go back and read the paper. From that, it's pretty clear we have to go all-out on both efficiency and building renewable energy supplies while we still have high-EROI fuel to use.

3) Some interesting people already think efficiency is a major industry.

See Art Rosenfeld on Efficiency, or any of his stuff.

Also, see PG&E CEO Peter Darbee on efficiency.

Hope to catch some of the show on video soon!

What's the status of Dave "Exceedingly Short Fuse" Cohen? Always enjoyed his pieces and was startled when he came down hard on you guys, for what I couldn't tell. Hope he chills and starts posting/contributing again soon.

Dear landlord,
Please heed these words that I speak.
I know you've suffered much,
But in this you are not so unique.
All of us, at times, we might work too hard
To have it too fast and too much,
And anyone can fill his life up
With things he can see but he just cannot touch.

-Bob Dylan

One thing I noticed at the conference was a different type of concern based on age. The younger folk were focused on solutions and doing something. The older peakers and those particularily with some experience with government were polite, but one got the sense that they know it is too late and little if anything can be done. I would call it a sad resignation. One young staffer came up to me and complained that none of the speakers were addressing solutions, perhaps that is for tomorrows sessions. I got the distinct impression that Dr. Peter Wells was calling for a peak around 2015, others called for a peak around 2015, it is not important, peak is our doom whenever it shows up. A great deal of information was to be had at the conference and I enjoyed it, except for the chicken taco salad at lunch on Monday, I looked at the uninspired mound of fodder and saw George Bush's face, the face of mediocrity, mendacity, and financial ruin.

One young staffer came up to me and complained that none of the speakers were addressing solutions

I will. I have a mix of debunking, but also I have slides on "Contenders" and "Solutions." One thing I am going to say is that I don't want to be the guy who debunked everything and solved nothing.

My biofuels talk is coming up shortly.

Well done Robert, IMHO the date is not hugely important, whether it was 2005 or now or real soon now doesn't really matter. What we need now is people working to make the best of our situation. i know that some say there is nothing we can do but being an optimist I would like to hope we can do something to preserve our knowledge for the future even if that future is pretty bleak.

I try to think, if the future of all human civilisation depended on me, what would I do, how would I be?

Good comments from all. I do hope transcripts will be available. Xavier was the most poignant although I think he could have been a bit more harsh on the shrub. My mother remembers FDR talking at great length on the radio when there were crises and she said having bush pop out and back in reminded her of a cuckoo clock. It is a fundamental tenet of faith of TOD that GDP is linked to cheap available fossil energy and that GDP decline is likely when Peak Oil decline sets in and it appears that Gail laid this out nicely. Most of us believe PO will pose a real shock to the economic system. But the the recent implosion in DC and Wall Street adds what seems to be a black swan event of potentially dangerous magnitude. John Michael Greer's latest book makes the distinction between a "Predicament" and a "Problem". Problems may have solutions but a predicament may not. He gives the example of how "death" is a type of predicament. You cannot solve death. It does not have a solution. You can only adapt to that predicament. It may be that we are in the throes of a financial predicament of momentous magnitude. Henry Kissinger in the midst of the Balkans Crisis said "Whatever you do will be wrong, including nothing." This so called "cash for trash" solution bailing out the villains by taxing the serfs has the potential of fomenting revolution. I for one hope it fails. As a determined peak oil worrier, I really didn't need this right now.

Of the solutions I've seen discussed here on TOD, the "best" IMO:

  1. solar energy -- panels on every rooftop, right now;
  2. rapid deployment of electified transportation of all kinds;
  3. refining solar-grade silicon from fluorosilicate byproduct of the phosphate industry;
  4. sodium-sulfur storage batteries for grid power when the sun is down.

If I ran the circus, that's what I'd be deploying RFN.

And if you could somehow come up with $700B, you could do that...

The older peakers and those particularily with some experience with government were polite, but one got the sense that they know it is too late and little if anything can be done. I would call it a sad resignation.

On finding out about PO a couple of years ago I made it my business to speak to some senior people in the oil & gas industries.

They confirmed the threat ... but, as you say, were surprisingly gloomy.

For example, one just-retired Chief Engineer of an oil major said to me: "My family tell me that 'something will turn up'". He then added very quietly "Of course nothing will."

I also spoke to the very wealthy major shareholder of a large oil company. He said effectively: "We will soon face very challenging times. God will provide."

I don't recollect anyone senior that I have spoken to expressing boundless joy & confidence about hydrogen, tar sands, shale etc.

Um! While I am willing to accept that I am old, I am less willing to accept that some of us older folks weren't in at least part of our presentations, suggesting some fruitful lines of investigation.

One young staffer came up to me and complained that none of the speakers were addressing solutions, perhaps that is for tomorrows sessions.

If, by solutions, you mean "business as usual" then there aren't any. We are going to have to change how we live, the only questions are how we change. Borrowing from Tainter, there are potential ways to increase complexity and energy consumption to a yet higher level, but even those changes will require that we reorganize our lives. And there are, of course, the possibilities of lower energy consumption and lowered social complexity (either voluntarily or via collapse).

Regardless though, life as we've known it is going to change and fairly radically. It's up to us how that change occurs, being able to choose from viable choices. Only if we fail to choose first and in a sustainable way, will nature choose instead. But if we dally until nature chooses, we may not get a chance to alter that choice in any meaningful manner.

What seems to be the consensus at this ASPO conference in regards to the date of peak oil for crude and or all liquids. Is this date moving out from dates given at past conferences?

I will continue to be the party-pooper here. Why are you worried about peak oil while globalism is in the midst of collapsing and the US is literally in the process of going bankrupt and defaulting on its debt?

Do you foresee the US continuing to burn 21.5 mb/d or, as I do, see US consumption dropping to no more than 15 mb/d?

Did not China just announce a dramatic cut back in imports? Will the emerging economies continue to increase consumption as the US goes in the toilet and can no longer afford to buy their products?

A depression is on the way, folks, and this $1 trillion + bailout will only add to it. We did not avoid total financial meltdown, merely delayed it. The massive unpaid debt still exits and will only get worse as our economy shrivels up.

The oil supply/demand/price equations are now in the dumpster owing to the increasingly worthless dollar. When the dollar looses its reserve status (and it most certainly will), the price to Americans will likely quadruple as the dollar will then have to be revalued.

My view: world consumption will DROP by 1.5% by 2Q09.

I was so conflicted about attending ASPO this year; Houston last year was a terrific mix of ideas and people, but time constraints and the idea of burning oil to get down to Sacto held me back. Thanks for the updates and blogging.

Anyway, re 24's point: the economic slowdown may well be a blessing in disguise, as some have indicated and many have intimated. Reduced consumption may well buy us back some of the transition time we squandered in the last couple of decades. But at what cost? The pain and dislocation of a depression will be more bearable than the pain and dislocation of a real crash?

Unless we get rid of fractional reserve banking and fiat money, which can only survive when the rate of annual growth is equal(or greater) to the prevailing interest rate, we are forced into the impossible regime of perpetual growth that ultimately gobbles up and consumes everything.

Sustainable society must be predicated on a sound monetary policy that does not require growth to avoid collapse, one such as the gold standard. It also requires that we return to manufacturing (much as leftists hate that idea)in that sound money must be based on the production of real goods. A gold standard alone won't do it.

A nation that doesn't make anything quickly finds its money worth nothing -- that's where we are now.

Hey hey research24,

The financial mess we are in right now is, of course, very serious. But it pales in comparison to the energy crunch that will hit us. And the energy crunch is nothing compared to run away global warming.

To put this all in perspective the financial troubles all revolve around exchanging little slips of paper. This is an agreement that we have with ourselves. If we are unable to abide by those arrangements then new arrangements will need to be made. The transition periods between arrangements are chaotic and generally unpleasant but finite in duration.

Peak oil means that we need to completely change our infrastructure and lifestyles or we will be unable to support the level of civilization that we have now. Global warming, or climate change, means that our environment will be less able to support our very existence due to crop failures and natural disasters.

Having said that, I am terrified of a financial collapse because it will 'hide' peak oil until the global economy recovers. And while it lasts environmental stewardship and renewable energy will take a back seat to immediate hardships.

The US is not the only consumer of oil products. I was watching a documentary this weekend on CNBC about saving General Motors. It may be a few months old buy it was showing a 36 y/o Chinese businessman buying a Chevy Aveo (his first car, he didn't even have a driver's license) with cash money (on his debit card). I wonder how many times this might be duplicated in China right now, even with this financial slow down.

Hi Researcher24,
Good point, the world can have a depression or can have a major oil supply problem but it can't have both at the same time.
Most of us at TOD imagined that the post-peak oil shortage and price spike could lead to an economic depression if oil replacements were not in place in time.
Its more likely that the US will have high inflation, possibly a recession but not necessarily a depression of the 1930's type due to asset deflation. Many economies have experienced high inflation(ie 10-100% py), and high unemployment, without necessarily having an economic collapse( or depression). In these economies house prices keep up with inflation, but it becomes very difficult to buy anything on credit, because all savings go into buying hard assets.
One of the effects of this economy would be a very severe reduction in new vehicle purchases, especially SUV's, and a big reduction in VMT, resulting in perhaps a 50%-75% reduction in gasoline consumption. This may not be enough to keep pace will post-peak oil declines but it would go a long way towards easing the potential oil price spike and delaying the rapid post-peak decline, perhaps providing enough time for the economy, and especially transport to adapt to an oil-free environment.
Then again, the government could just increase gasoline taxes by $4 a gallon(similar to European levels) and run a surplus, and prevent the dollar collapse; No! that sounds too radical for a US public that still believes that if they drill enough they can go back to $1 a gallon and keep driving those SUV's and keep consuming 25% of the world's oil.

My sense is that it is now recognized as being closer than previous estimates. There was more discussion about our already being in the plateau that precedes decline than I have heard before, and even the optimists were moving their predictions closer. (Well apart from those involved in Randy Udall's conversations and I'll get to that when I cover the third day).

The wording of the title could have been more carefully chosen to prevent the perception that this site caters to a group of stuffy snobby elitists who revel in the destruction of america!

It was my choice, based on a comment made about Gail's presentation. It was deliberate.

Iconoclast421, which title are you referring? "The Oil Drum":-) or "Doom and Gloom" :-(

I think anyone who follows this site for long enough will know that our resident "snobby elitists" are thoughtful and passionate and that "death to America" sloganeering is best left to the daily prayers of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

Yes, some rant about the bad old USA or the follies of western imperialism but most of the bloggers' criticism is borne out of genuine caring and concern not sedition.

Btw, if anyone is checking out the website for the first time because of promotions at the conference, welcome aboard. The Oil Drum, a.k.a. TOD, is, IMHO, one of the best sources of insight on current affairs, petroleum, political economy, and global issues found anywhere on the Internet.

Some opinions will infuriate. The dialog, however, tends to be thought provoking and respectful. Most of us have learned to take what we need and leave the rest. Guaranteed, though, to allow you to learn something new everyday. It is always well worth while checking out!

Sincerely, a TOD addict,


Thanks to the conference participants for today's updates.

The phrase I was referring to was "Doom and gloom - with a smile" which gives the impression that this site is dedicated to smiling in the face of doom and gloom, which is not an attitude that anyone should want to display.

(am i the only one who gets errors when they try to post?)

Hi Iconoclast,

check out the tips on the More information about formatting options page.


"growing algae underground"

- news from the real world: algae are plants, their energy source is SUNSHINE. I'm sick of hearing all kinds of schemes for algae to "convert CO2 to oil". Yes they do that, as do all plants, but only to the extent that they manage to absorb solar energy. Only a very thin layer of algae (in a sunny location) could do that - otherwise those lower down would be shaded by those on top. Such a thin layer would be impractical to keep from contamination, etc. Pipe dream.

I'll have more of a comment on that in my review article after the Conference.

not all algae derive their energy exclusively from sunshine

Actually algae are not plants. At least not since the 1960s. And many algae get energy from other sources than sunshine. There are many thousands of algae species with huge variation. Algae live as free floating single cells. They live in complex colonies. They live symbiotically with fungi, coral and sponges. Kelp are algae and they manage to thrive even when thickly layered.

Anyway, it's good to be a skeptic but keep an open mind as the world is often richer in possibilities than we imagine. I don't know what the underground algae bit is about but it wouldn't surprise me if it involved a non-photosynthetic process similar to using yeast to produce alcohol from carbohydrates.

Unless said algae are eating hydrogen sulfide from hydrothermal vents, they are of course (ultimately) getting their energy from sunshine.

In this particular case, the algae live underground in tubes but receive their sunlight from above by collecting it from a large area (presumably) and piping it down. Not enough details were provided to warrant spending much time speculating on it.

well then, I guess you could say that we all are of course (ultimately) getting our energy from sunshine.

Thanks for update from Sacramento. I've been quite curious about what's been going on down there. And I like the fact that Peter Wells was there suggesting a peak after 2020. It's wise to hear other points of view (it seems most peak oil folks feel we're already at peak, but as Peter points out, maybe not).

Yes, but it was clear to me that he hadn't reconciled his work with either of the megaprojects studies.

Well, in my humble opinion, the highlight of the conference was Jim Kunstler and Randy Udall, et al, singing Kumbaya.

I hope someone caught that for u-tube, I'd love to hear it!

Here's my personal review of Day 1 of ASPO. It's tough getting one's thoughts together on the conference when there is so much additional information to digest! Reviews of TOD's second presentation included.

Thanks for posting this, and letting us know, since, as you note, I could only cover one of the sessions, and you caught another.
(I would note that my original post directs folk to your site in the last paragraph).

Darn, that I did not know that Megan was there, Ah, well! A sign that we are indeed growing so that you just can't get around to chatting with everyone.

Peter Wells giving a talk on why his view of the coming oil production rates was much higher than the estimates that we have come up with. He had used extensive data files available from IHS, but pointed out that these were not his only source of information. His predictions did not see a peak until out beyond 2020

Strange that although Peter Wells sees no peak until after 2020, nobody here has attacked or debunked his views. Where are the expert countervailing arguments? I am no expert, so here's my argument: Mr Wells gets his data from IHS. IHS = CERA = Danny Yergin.

An interesting question would be to ask IHS & CERA how the 2005 to 2008 world production data differ from their 2004 projection.

I thought that the most interesting thing that Wells said was that North Ghawar would be effectively watered out within two years.

And how he reconciles the megaprojects work with his model.

Yergin's continuing assurances of "the market" assuring adequate supply thru increased drilling & technofix make him one of the most dangerous men in America. Second only, to Cox's "demographica" organization, which for decades has promoted a private vehicle for everyone on earth at puberty. Enjoy, gentlemen, hopefully you have made arrangements for secret witness protection...

To see if it is true that no one is beyond redemption, let's see how these two experts can re-orient to non-automotive distribution & mobility. Christopher C. Swans "ELECTRIC WATER" is a manual comprehensive enough for either a market maven, or a social commentator to work with.

Noted the Sacramento BEE's Stu Leavenworth... If ever there was a textbook case of Peaking Oil induced downfall, witness the saga of the Sac BEE & the McClatchy empire over the last few years. Blaming the electronic competition was easier than following Peaking Oil warnings! To follow and inform on Peaking Oil had too many bad vibes for the automobile & home advertising sections. The BEE allowed itself to get scooped by Jim Kunstler. Editorial board is now reading "The Long Emergency"...

Expect the BEE to become a railway advocate like never before, ladies and gentlemen.

Hi all,

apologies if somebody has already posted this:

Energy Challenge

(video of several of the presentations)


Father, Farmer, Doomer, Engineer, Drummer.