DrumBeat: November 14, 2008

Oil price must foster costly investment: IEA chief

TOKYO - Oil prices should be high enough to foster sustained investment in a range of new sources including costly projects like tar sands, the head of the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Friday.

"The cost of investment is different by region or country," Nobuo Tanaka, executive director of the agency that advises 28 industrialised countries, said two weeks before producer group OPEC holds an emergency meeting to discuss the oil market.

"In the oil sand or tar sand production, we'd say the marginal cost of a barrel is about $70-$80 (a barrel). On the other hand, in the Middle East producers, the cost is much less.

"We need to maintain the level of investment. I can't tell you what is the proper price level, but I strongly believe that the price signal must satisfy these different needs in the energy sector," Tanaka told Reuters in an interview.

OPEC May Cut 1 Million Barrels a Day in Cairo, Survey Shows

(Bloomberg) -- OPEC, supplier of more than 40 percent of the world's oil, will probably announce plans to lower supply for the third time in as many months to prevent oil plunging toward $50 a barrel, a Bloomberg survey showed.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will cut output at a meeting in Cairo on Nov. 29, according to 16 of 17 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Twelve of the analysts predict the reduction will be 1 million barrels a day or more.

ANALYSIS - OPEC poised for another deep cut to halt oil slide

LONDON (Reuters) - Swelling fuel stocks and a more than $90 drop in the oil price has driven OPEC to call another round of urgent talks that could agree a deep supply cut to try to shore up the market.

Since early September, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries has already agreed to reduce supply by a total of two million barrels per day (bpd).

It could announce a further cut of 1.5 million bpd at talks in Cairo at the end of the month, an OPEC delegate said on Friday.

EIA ANALYSIS: Little Improvement in US Oil Demand Seen

Total US petroleum demand has steadily decreased, down 6.6% year-over-year on a four-week moving average, but implied gasoline demand readings improved, a sign that the sharp decline in prices at the pump may be affecting consumption patterns, an analysis of weekly oil data from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) showed Thursday.

Gasoline demand inched down 93,000 barrels per day (b/d) to 9.002 million b/d week-over-week, for the reporting week ended November 7. But on a four-week moving average, implied gasoline demand, while still 1.9% below year-ago levels, has slightly improved over the past three reports. The previous week implied gasoline demand was down 2.3% year-over-year.

More proposals in works to ship mountain gas to Midwest

Pipelines carrying Rocky Mountain natural gas to markets across the United States are virtually full, and prices in the region are dropping as a result of supply overwhelming both local demand and export capacity.

But three companies are offering competing proposals to build a big, new, straight-shot pipeline from Wyoming to Chicago, and that city’s millions of people who use natural gas to heat their homes during the teeth-chattering winters along Lake Michigan.

Iraq opens new oil refinery to meet growing demand

BAGHDAD (AP) -- Iraq has opened a new oil refinery in the southern province of Qadisiyah to meet increasing demand.

Fragmented Japan power grids need to integrate - IEA

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan could cut more greenhouse gas emissions if local electricity grids were better integrated to absorb the volatility of higher supply from renewable energy, Nobuo Tanaka, head of the International Energy Agency said on Friday.

Consolidating fragmented grid networks into a single and more and more powerful one would help the Japan to catch up with its peers in the fight against global warming, he said.

Julian Darley: Obama's Secret Door To Peak Oil

President-elect Obama has a lot on his plate at the moment, and much of it is probably quite unpalatable. The last thing he needs then, is a goblet of seeming hemlock to wash it all down. But sometimes some bitter medicine is necessary to alert the system to a serious new threat.

If his team does not get a hefty dose of energy reality, they are likely to make very poor strategic decisions. For instance, in the light of peak oil, is bailing out the dinosaur US auto makers the right thing to do?

Oil guru points to substitutes keeping lid on energy prices

Don't say Henry Groppe didn't tell you so.

Almost a year ago, when oil prices were humming along at close to $100 (U.S.) a barrel, the 82-year-old dean of oil analysts warned his clients that the price was destined for $60 before the end of the year. When it soared above $145 this summer, he stuck to his guns.

This week, oil fell below $60 a barrel.

It's that kind of prescience that gets guys labelled “guru” – a tag Mr. Groppe long ago earned in his almost six decades predicting the oil market. The soft-spoken Texan cemented his forecasting in the early 1980s, when he foresaw the collapse of oil prices from then-record levels of $40 a barrel.

Seven tsunamis and the future of the Gulf

A series of financial shocks are testing the Gulf economy and educating the region that it cannot defy global forces. The GCC will end up looking very different when they pass.

Centrica says reviewing new wind farm economics

Centrica is reviewing the economic viability of planned wind farms due to soaring costs and the credit crunch, the owner of British Gas said.

Centrica, which is raising 2.2 billion pounds to help fund its proposed 25 percent stake in nuclear power generator British Energy, said it was "revisiting the economics of wind farms given rising raw material and credit costs."

Brazil Energy Ministry: Existing Oil Contracts to Be Upheld

Brazil's Mines and Energy minister said Thursday that a group working on new regulations for oil exploration and production will "religiously" respect current oil contracts.

The group, made of top Brazilian bureaucrats and ministers, is expected to hand its suggestions to Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva within the next few weeks, Minister Edison Lobao told an audience of investors and business people in New York.

However, "if we need to change Brazilian laws, we will do so," Lobao said.

Jordan: Gas stations reject ministry warning

AMMAN - The Gas Station Owners Association (GSOA) on Thursday said there are no legal grounds for government measures meant to oblige its members to order fuel derivatives from the Jordan Petroleum Refinery Company (JPRC).

Fearing more drops in the prices of fuel, and consequently more losses, gas stations have limited their orders from the refinery, especially kerosene, the least demanded derivative, causing a shortage that was further felt with the relatively cold weather the Kingdom witnessed since Wednesday, according to the association’s president, Fahed Fayez.

Hong Kong: Don't dabble in oil-price row, legislators told

Pressing oil companies to immediately reduce fuel prices goes against the government's non-interference policy and the principle of a free market economy, Secretary for Environment Edward Yau Tang-wah told lawmakers.

Cameco May Suspend Uranium Processing Amid Dispute

(Bloomberg) -- Cameco Corp., the world's largest uranium producer, may temporarily close a uranium-processing plant in Canada because of a dispute over supplies of hydrofluoric acid, used in the production of nuclear fuel.

Uranium price plunges to $46/lb as global economic crisis bites

The uranium spot price has dipped sharply in the face of the current global economic crisis, plummeting from the $90/lb reached in January to the current level of $46/lb.

This is some way off the all-time-high spot price of $136/lb reached in 2007, when fears of a supply shortage loomed large, and the nuclear industry moved back in vogue as the world continued to move to energy sources with a smaller carbon footprint.

Indonesia: People opt for firewood as kerosene runs short

The kerosene-to-gas conversion program has created a prolonged energy crisis in the province, causing residents in rural and remote areas to turn to firewood for their fuel.

Collapse in global oil demand may halt refinery construction - paper

LONDON (KUNA) -- More than four-out-of-five refinery construction projects face cancellation as the worldwide collapse in fuel demand wipes out all but those developments with strong government backing, it was revealed here Friday.

In a report, Wood Mackenzie, the industry consultant, concluded that only 30 of the 160 refining projects announced since 2005, which should be completed in the next two to seven years, would now go ahead, the Financial Times (FT) newspaper said.

The sharp drop in the number of new refineries is related to the collapse in the refiner's profit margins, known in the industry as "crack spreads."

The scale of the cutback is the starkest illustration yet of the severity of the collapse in fuel demand and the effect on the refining industry, the main business daily in Europe said.

Financial crisis hits global oil investment

(Reuters) - The growing financial crisis and plunging energy prices have forced oil companies to scale back spending and delay projects, with expensive ventures in the Canadian oil sands hardest hit.

Below is a list of projects that have been delayed or scaled back in recent months, as well as other related news.

Baker Hughes sees Saudi rig cut, region strong

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Saudi Aramco is expected to reduce the number of rigs drilling for oil and gas in the coming months, but spending by other national oil companies in the Middle East is expected to remain strong, an executive at Baker Hughes said on Thursday.

Mexico spends $1.5 bln to hedge falling oil prices

Mexico, the third-largest supplier of oil to the U.S., has spent $1.5 billion since July to hedge against falling oil income and protect public spending for 2009, Treasury Secretary Agustin Carstens said Thursday.

The government bought so-called put options to sell 330 million barrels of Mexican crude, about a third of its current estimated annual output, for $70 a barrel, indicating that the oil-exporting country doubts its oil will consistently top that price next year.

Brazil as a new kind of oil giant

Rio de Janeiro - More than 180 miles off Brazil's coast, trapped under a few miles of water, rock, and salt, lie billions of barrels of light, sweet crude – the largest discovery of oil in the Western Hemisphere in a generation.

Accessing it will require some of the most advanced technology on the planet. But Brazil, once a heavy importer that celebrated its "oil independence" only two years ago, is uniquely positioned to extract reserves trapped millions of years ago when South America and Africa began to separate. The state-controlled oil company, Petroleo Brasileiro (Petrobras), says it will begin production by 2010.

Energy Crisis Splits Ruling Party In Kyrgyzstan

Amid shortages of hydro-energy in Kyrgyzstan because of the critically low water level in the Toktogul reservoir, President Kurmanbek Bakiyev’s loyal supports are finger-pointing, accusing each other of false reports and corruption. Previously, it was mostly the opposition that criticized Minister of Energy Saparbek Balkibekov for mismanaging the hydro-energy sector. Today, however, members of the pro-regime Ak Zhol party are voicing their doubts about Balkibekov’s competence in leading the country through the crisis.

Nuclear Fusion Holds Silver-Bullet Promise

Clean energy advocates generally shun talk of a "silver-bullet" technology that can replace fossil fuels and provide carbon-free power. However, the promise of fusion-based energy defies the common sense belief that an array of renewable fuel sources is needed to shift away from dirty carbon-based fuels.

Ailing autos may be Obama's vehicle

The president-in-waiting doesn’t want to let the American auto sector fail, and not only because that would set off a shock wave in manufacturing and destroy millions of jobs. He and his advisors see the industry as a vehicle for solving America’s energy crisis and steering the economy down the path of green growth.

Gas prices pancake but OCTA sets new ridership record anyway

I’ve been gathering up transit ridership from agencies around the state, curious as to whether the number of passengers has dipped now that gas prices have cratered since their summer highs. Not all the numbers are in yet, but most agencies have seen a slight dip in ridership since it peaked in July.

Stop Blaming Capitalism for Government Failures

As the economic system that fully recognizes and protects individual rights, including the right to private property, capitalism means, in Ayn Rand’s words, “the abolition of any and all forms of government intervention in production and trade, the separation of State and Economics, in the same way and for the same reasons as the separation of Church and State.” Laissez-faire means laissez-faire: no welfare state entitlements, no Federal Reserve monetary manipulation, no regulatory bullying, no controls, no government interference in the economy. The government’s job under capitalism is single but crucial: to protect individual rights from violation by force or fraud.

America came closest to this system in the latter half of the nineteenth century. The result was an unprecedented explosion of wealth creation and consequent rise in the standard of living. Even now, when the fading remnants of capitalism are badly crippled by endless controls, we see that the freest countries–those which retain the most capitalist elements–have the highest standard of living.

Gas prices fall, but Americans keep their wallets pinched

Across the United States, high prices seem to have produced lasting changes in public habits. As prices rose, many people parked their cars and took the bus or train, and that change is evidently sticking even as gas falls. At 22 transit systems surveyed last week by the American Public Transportation Association, ridership either stayed the same or increased over the last two months, said Virginia Miller, spokeswoman for the group.

Likewise, MasterCard Advisors reports show that national gasoline demand remains down compared to previous years — though by only 3 to 4 percent a week, compared with the 8 or 9 percent drops of earlier this year.

How low can oil go? A lot lower, but it'll recover

LONDON (Reuters) - World oil prices could easily fall below $50 a barrel and might even slip toward $40 or perhaps $35, but they will recover and could do so fairly quickly, analysts and economists say.

Benchmark U.S. crude futures dropped to a 22-month low under $55 on Thursday as evidence mounted that the deepening recession would have a severe impact on demand, reducing the use of oil by industries and individuals alike.

Iran says it will support OPEC production cut: report

TEHRAN (AFP) – Iran, number two oil producer in OPEC, would support a decision to cut production by the cartel at an extraordinary meeting set for Cairo later this month, the Mehr news agency reported on Friday.

"OPEC members have decided to hold a meeting on November 29 in Cairo to discuss recent prices. The current market situation is worrying," it quoted Iran's cartel's representative Mohammad Ali Khatibi as saying.

"In light of dwindling oil prices and instability in the market, Iran will support an oil production cut," he added.

Diesel plays the strong arm among refinery woes

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- U.S. refineries aren't working quite as hard as they usually do, but demand for diesel remains strong -- and may lend the helping hand that both refiners and consumers need to ensure adequate energy supplies as the nation's heating season kicks into gear.

Don't be too quick to blame the refiners. Demand for petroleum products has significantly declined year to date, and now prices for gasoline have dropped to levels that don't create much incentive for a ramp up in production.

Meltdown 101: How'd we get this trade deficit?

The sharp rise in oil prices since 2004 widened the deficit, since that meant we were sending more dollars overseas for each barrel of oil. The related decline in the dollar for much of that stretch exacerbated the deficit further by making imports more expensive for Americans - and American exports cheaper for the rest of the world.

The recent decline in oil prices will help ease the trade deficit, but won't erase it. As of Thursday, the trade deficit in September was $56.5 billion, down from $59.1 billion in August.

David Strahan: Letter to the Energy Secretary

Since you are apparently building a bonfire of previously held policy prejudices, can I urge you to add your predecessors’ willful denial of the imminent threat of peak oil, recently highlighted by group of major British businesses - the UK Industry Taskforce on Peak Oil and Energy Security. As their report makes clear, the worst impacts of global oil depletion are likely to be felt far sooner than the worst impacts of climate change – without in any way detracting from the profound threat of global warming.

The recent spike to $147 per barrel and subsequent plunge to the mid $60s – just as damaging in its way – is only the start. Oil price volatility is likely to become increasingly violent as we approach the ultimate ceiling of global production, and this will inevitably damage our ability to fund the investment needed to create a zero-carbon energy supply. So we need to get off oil much more quickly than the government has yet acknowledged.

Eastern Europe leaders to push for new energy routes

BAKU (AFP) — Eastern European leaders gather in the Azerbaijani capital Baku on Friday for a summit aimed at promoting energy supply routes from the Caspian region to Europe that bypass Russia.

Leaders of the Baltic nations, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Poland, and Ukraine will be joined by Turkish President Abdullah Gul for the first time to discuss joint energy projects, including proposed oil and gas pipelines.

The Russians are coming

Experts argue that, as Moscow touts its efforts to strengthen military cooperation under the umbrella of the CIS and the CSTO, Russia is really pursuing its own goal of expanding its military presence and influence in Central Asia.

Germany Defends Pipeline Project After Putin Warning

BERLIN - Germany defended plans for a Baltic Sea gas pipeline on Thursday after Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin warned European partners that Moscow may scrap the project.

Russia and Belarus agreed to switch to rouble operations in oil and gas exports

MOSCOW (Itar-Tass) - Russia and Belarus agreed to switch to Russian roubles to pay for oil and gas supplies, Belarussian Vice-Premier Andrei Kobyakov said after the talks with Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin on Thursday.

He stressed that this step will be Belarus’ contribution to giving a Russian rouble the status of regional currency.

Venezuela Will Survive Oil Price Drop

Venezuela is likely to be able to continue its high public and social spending in 2009, policies which form the bedrock of the government's and Chávez's popularity. In the event that public spending should need to be cut, the government has stated that it will target medium- and long-term investment projects rather than politically sensitive social spending.

Energy market is 'a wild west town in need of a sheriff'

Britain's energy market is now a "wild west town in need of a sheriff" because the regulator, Ofgem, has failed to keep down gas and electricity bills, say MPs.

South Africa: Financial Crisis May 'Postpone' Energy Projects

THE ripple effect of the global financial crisis could force a review of several key projects in the country, including the electricity generation programme, according to a senior minerals and energy department official.

China to ensure grain self-sufficiency

BEIJING – China is aiming to produce virtually all the grain it needs for at least the next decade despite a growing population and declining farmland because of urbanization, climate change and other factors.

Planning the First 100 Days: Green IS the Recession Solution! - The Petroleum Ceiling and the Limits of Growth

Since the credit crisis began, we’ve been hearing a lot about how investing in a ‘Green New Deal’, ‘A Green Economy’, and ‘A Clean Energy Economy’ will rescue us. But how, specifically, will green solutions be our savior, and why – at the end of the age of oil and a time of increasingly dangerous human-caused climatic instability – is this type of policy package so crucial for President Obama to implement during his first 100 Days?

Power Company Gives Consumers the Nuclear Option

A new offer from German power company RWE allows consumers for the first time to select a zero-carbon energy scheme fueled mostly by nuclear sources. But as Germany erupts in anti-nuclear protests, the company may be courting a backlash.

Kenya taps into Brazil's ethanol expertise

"For us, the beverage industry is not very large," says Mr. Agina, whose plant uses molasses – a waste product from sugar mills – to produce alcohol that is pure enough to drink by the time is has passed through six distillation columns. "So the answer is ethanol as fuel, which is used extensively in Brazil.

"Brazil has done wonderful work with up to 3 million vehicles running on ethanol alone – a much cleaner fuel," says Agina. "So we feel their expertise will speed our development."

Xcel looks to harness wind energy for use even when there's no wind

Next spring Xcel Energy Inc., the state of Minnesota and a Virginia-based technology firm will test the first battery in the country capable of storing wind energy.

Deal paves way for dams' removal on Western river

GRANTS PASS, Ore. – An agreement signed Thursday lays the groundwork for removing four hydroelectric dams from the Klamath River to help one of the West Coast's most beleaguered salmon runs and end a longstanding environmental dispute.

Coal power plants may have to limit emissions

About 100 proposed coal-fired power plants in the USA may be required to limit their greenhouse gas emissions after the Environmental Protection Agency was blocked Thursday from issuing a permit for a proposed Utah plant without addressing the issue of global warming.

Are Human Beings Hard-Wired to Ignore the Threat of Catastrophic Climate Change?

"Many climate scientists find the response to global warming completely baffling," says Elke Weber, a Columbia University psychologist and the chair of the Global Roundtable on Climate Change's Public Attitudes/Ethical Issues Working Group. According to Weber, climate scientists just can't understand why government and the public have been so slow to act on the extraordinary information these scientists have provided.

But now a growing number of social scientists are offering their expertise in behavioral decision making, risk analysis, and evolutionary influences on human behavior to explain our limited responses to global warming. Among the most significant factors they point to: The way we're psychologically wired and socially conditioned to respond to crises makes us ill-suited to react to the abstract and seemingly remote threat posed by global warming. Their insights are also leading to some intriguing recommendations about how to get people to take action - including the potentially dangerous prospect of playing on people's fears.

Here's a story I would like to see cause an environmental explosion, but I expect it will be smothered by UK gov plc etc...


I'm deeply sad to say that most people don't seem to care. Many people I know use garden pesticides to extremes (they get this gooey runny nose - a definite sign of the nerve agent effects - and they just laugh it off). Many a Summer's morning I walk out into my garden and can smell the odors of some sort of garden chemical being used by some neighbor. Quite a few farmers I've spoken with claim to regularly use moth-balls, dismissing any information on the toxicity to the kidneys.

Oh Sigh....

Yes, organic permaculture is the only sane way forward. That and ending factory farms and mass "production" of livestock. But I would say if you are worried about pesticides and your health, you should stop eating meat and dairy, which, due to their being higher up on the food chain, contain about 50 times the pesticide levels of plant food. And animal foods are proven to cause artery disease, cancer, diabetes, and a huge laundry list of diseases. If one is truly concerned with pesticides (and health), it is totally irrational to ignore the intake of meat and diary and grease. So many think organic meat and dairy are less harmful, but they are dead wrong.



Thanks for the links vm, unfortunately al gore the messenger has not joined the ranks of us vegetarians. Reminds me of our overweight local whole? foods butcher (who smokes but drives a prius)

From WPTZ.com, today.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is calling on Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont to raise health insurance premiums for people who eat meat, and lower the premiums for vegetarians. In a letter sent Monday to Bill Milnes Jr., president of Blue Cross Blue Shield Of Vermont, PETA's Executive Director Tracy Reiman urged Blue Cross to raise rates on meat eaters because -- she claims -- heart disease, diabetes and other leading killer diseases have been conclusively linked to the consumption of meat and other animal products.

But not Cats.

Yes, I would avoid most meat and dairy products, but it isn't necessarily so...

What is harmful is injecting cattle and chickens with hormones and antibiotics, feeding them crap, penning them up, and then slaughtering them and expecting their meat to be nutricious.

What is harmful is leading a sedentary life and not breathing properly/breathing fume-filled air.

What is harmful is taking asprin every time you fill a bit under the weather, eating a lot of preprocessed food and refined sugars, and growing crops sprayed with pesticides and grown in dead soil.

Meat itself is not harmful in reasonable quantities, but in our usual agro-business, couch-potato, city-dewlling lives, it tends to be a very poor source of nourishment and can be a health risk... not everyone lives this sort of life though.

I agree with that, and would go further: in many areas, raising animals for meat or milk is necessary for subsistence. It's how people store food for the winter, or over the dry season.

Wow, yeah - I just moved from a house that was across the road from a small (maybe 20 acres) farm field. The spraying was very obnoxious. Glad to have moved away into a nice healthy city-ish environment!

Sometimes people post about 'look at this car sharing idea via cell phones' or other jitney cab thinking.


TechCrunch points us to the news that the Ontario transportation board has sided with the bus company and fined PickupPal. It's also established a bunch of draconian rules that any user in Ontario must follow if it uses the service -- including no crossing of municipal boundaries -- meaning the service is only good within any particular city's limits.

The lesson is, move your base of operations offshore to prevent vested interests from attacking you directly.

I hear from Halliburton that Dubai is quite good.

move your base of operations

Errr, the cars moving the people are the ones in violation.

Individuals agreeing between themselves would be virtually impossible to stop. Thus the bus company went after the company organising the service and putting people in touch, which is what you offshore.

Of course what really needs to happen is those in the bus company, together with their supporters in the red tape brigade, need to be nailed to the wall for taking such selfish action against the public good. Not holding my breath on that one.

What would Rosa Parks do?

The lesson is, move your base of operations offshore to prevent vested interests from attacking you directly.

I hear from Halliburton that Dubai is quite good.

I think things would be pretty bad if the job of bus driver is offshored. Not that it would be impossible... I think with a wifi connection, some webcams, and computer control of the vehicle someone could drive a vehicle from halfway around the world.


The government has been doing this kind of thing for quite a while.

Apply the technology from our Predator killer robots in Afghanistan to our city buses?

Does that mean that every now and then a Metro bus accidentally wipes out an entire wedding party?

CNBC was playing The Best of Times by Styx this morning. I think the celebration might be a bit premature...

Retail sales suffer record drop

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- U.S. retail sales in October suffered the worst monthly drop since record keeping began in 1992, as more Americans shunned discretionary purchases amid accelerating job losses in a worsening economy.

This Thanksgiving, the focus isn't on turkey, it's on prices

Could this Thanksgiving turn out to be a turkey for consumers and retailers?

In the midst of the worst holiday economy in decades, foodmakers and grocers find themselves offering special deals at a time of year when they're more accustomed to doing the turkey trot for profits.

Interest rates soar as credit tightens in Mexico

MEXICO CITY — The Wal-Mart slogan in Mexico is the same as in the USA: Always low prices. Yet that doesn't apply to the store's credit cards, which carry a 69.6% annual interest rate.

As factories close, Chinese workers suffer

The Pearl River Delta, known as the world's factory, powered an export industry that pushed China's annual growth rate into the double digits and provided work for migrants from interior provinces with poor farmland. But circumstances have changed quickly. The slowdown in exports contributed to the closing of at least 67,000 factories across China in the first half of the year, according to government statistics. Labor disputes and protests over lost back wages have surged, igniting fear in local officials.

China positioned to unleash global deflation

It wasn't that long ago that pundits were counting on China to rescue the world from economic calamity. Now, China may be poised to become a key source of the problem.

After a recent visit to China, Nobuyuki Saji, chief economist and equity strategist for Japanese investment bank Mitsubishi UFJ Securities, issued a report warning that China could be on the verge of pushing the world into a deflationary spiral. The problem? Swelling industrial overcapacity, which threatens to undermine prices both for China's exported goods and its imports of raw materials.


Gold rush

The mainland is seriously considering a plan to diversify more of its massive foreign-exchange reserves into gold, a person familiar with the situation told The Standard.

Beijing is considering changing its asset allocations during the financial tsunami in order to build up gold reserves "in a big way," the source said.

China's fears about the long-term viability of parking most of its reserves in US government bonds were triggered by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's US$700 billion (HK$5.46 trillion) bailout plan, which may make the US budget deficit balloon to well over US$1 trillion this fiscal year.

It seems people are voting with their feet re T-bills - this looks rather alarming to me..



The U.S. Fed. Govt. deficit before the bailout was projected to be over 400 billion dollars.

Although China reported growth in the previous quarter; their fiscal income growth was shrinking in October. Chinese fiscal income shrank .3% in October. In order to finance their economic stimulus package they may need to issue bonds:


China may not be in a position to absorb United States debt.

Bailing out bad businesses might prolong the agony of operating losses at the expense of taxing healthy companies. It used to be failed banks were closed, their assets auctioned off, and their employees disbanded. By keeping incompetent management and employees at Federal expense; losses may be compounded and bad business practice allowed to flourish. To bail out managers who practiced unsound loan portfolio analysis may not create profitable, competitive business practice. The banks surviving the crisis should have been allowed to grow into the gaps created by the failure of the inept.

I don't agree with David Strahan's letter to the energy secretary, calling for more EU investment in solar and wind energy.

Highway maintenance and power grid maintenance are not feasible without ample supplies of oil. Without the power grid, the solar panels and wind turbines will be virtually useless.

Ideological beliefs in solar and wind power are diverting resources, investment, time and attention away from preparing for Peak Oil impacts. And as commercial centers, plazas, factories, and offices close in the worsening Greater Depression, there will be spare electric power.

Electric energy does not supply the liquid fuels needed, and alternatives can't even supply the energy lost by declining oil. The Energy Watch Group (funded by the German Parliament) concludes in a current report:

"By 2020, and even more by 2030, global oil supply will be dramatically lower. This will create a supply gap which can hardly be closed by growing contributions from other fossil, nuclear or alternative energy sources in this time frame."


Passive solar is not sexy, but could significantly reduce the consumption of natural gas, especially if coupled with massive use of down comforters/blankets and wearing down vests during the day at work and home.

Without the power grid, the solar panels and wind turbines will be virtually useless.


A large set of panels 'way over there' by a utility bringing power to someone 'elsewhere' would be useless.

But panels or a turbine I have - by God - I'll find a use for the power.

Even if all it does is rotate a compost drum. Or 'waste' a whole lotta power in the nickle batteries.

Passive solar is not sexy, but could significantly reduce the consumption of natural gas, especially if coupled with massive use of down comforters/blankets and wearing down vests during the day at work and home.

Living at 45 deg in the winter is possible. Not comfortable, but possible. Keeping ones hands warm so you can type 'bullshit' on TOD is an issue however.

Hi - Do you actually have a set of NiFe batteries? I'd love to hear feed back re use, holding charge, etc. Am in process of getting a 'robust' lighting set up together which I think would be - PV,NiFe,LED. thanks

A set - no.

A old one from a telco CO - yes. Its no good. Doesn't work.

If I had to, I could build one. The hardest part for me would be casting the glass as I do not have a glass furnace.

But making a glass furnace is on my research list. (such a furnace would make a fine dump load for a wind turbine.)

Is there a place on the internet with instructions on how to build a nickel-iron battery?

Yes. The patent office.

A US vendor sells 'em


(And I could use plastic I suppose to make the container. Nickel is expensive per lbs. Well it was. Nickel prices have plunged almost 60% this year, as slowing global economic growth has cut demand for the alloying mineral from producers of stainless steels and other specialty metals. With no purchasing pickup in sight, analysts polled by Purchasing.com suggest that the world price for nickel cathode will cost an average $10.50/lb this year, compared with $17.38 last year. Next year, the new consensus average now sees the price averaging $6/lb. Thus the battery cost of $500 for 50 lbs is not outta line. Try buying silver batteries if you want expensive!)

In fall of 2007 Nickel hit $53,000 per metric ton. Current price on www.bloomberg.com is $10,869 per metric ton ($4.95 per lb. US$). Scrap prices for Nickel are less than $4.00 per pound.

Eric, if you are going to make your own batteries, how about thermionic valves? Everyone who understands production needs to watch this video [quite long]. I want to live next door to this guy, so I can swap parts with him:


I have no intention of making my own batteries at this point. If my cashflow continues now that I have found a US source I'll just buy 'em.

Knowing that they were able to be made in early 1900 - I'm rather sure I could if I had to. Better for me to add 'em to my existing battery backup system.

As for making tubes -

1) Why? They have a history of unrealiability
2) I'd need access to things like barium for the getters (Had to channel what getters were made from via the google - my memory had magnesium)

If 'we' are far enough down the tech curve that diodes or transistors are no longer made or able to be scavanged - wind turbines will still be an option as long as man can make/get copper wire and turn a lathe.

They are made in China though. What's the resulting cost per kwh?

They are made in China though.

And if I had an option to buying non-China I would.

What's the resulting cost per kwh?

Do not care. The 50+ year lifespan and the ability to actually store electical power is what matters to me.

@ Eric,

Last June I took a trip to Albany, NY-USA to talk to 3 audiences on Peak Oil impacts, alternatives, and survival. In the group that invited me, the Capital Regional Energy Forum CREF), is a physicist who teaches energy at a well-known university, and he served in the Peace Corps.

He has solar powered just about everything, including a solar powered canoe which we went for long ride in on a lake in the Adirondacks, and a PV solar powered house and pump for his well. He repairs about everything on his house himself and he heats much with passive solar. So the guy knows his stuff. He is no ivory tower academic.

We talked for hours about survival in colder areas after the last power blackout.

Survival looks difficult in the colder areas.

Eventually batteries and even the solar panels deteriorate. He thinks that he could store dry batteries with the liquid stored in glass to thus get "new batteries" after they conk out (my idea :)). But eventually the batteries and solar panels give out.

Cutting and moving wood without trucks, horses, and wagons will be hard and time consuming. There are not many horses around and it will take decades to breed enough horses to go around. Horses require food, care, vets, and medicine. No one is making wagons these days locally. Many horses will be eaten as mass starvation sets in.

Wood stoves break, just like everything else. You could keep 1 or 2 extras, but eventually you have none and can't get more, as there will be no transportation on the highways, and their manufacture will cease without materials coming in on the highways.

In many areas irrigation is needed and will fail. Irrigating by manual labor is very difficult and time-consuming.

Asphalt roof shingles need to be replaced, and houses need to be painted and maintained.

Food must be grown in a short growing season, and all of the farm stuff that was once in an 1890 Sears catalog will no longer be available. Last summer I took a tour of a farm and saw how dependent farming is on oil -- transportation and manufacture of plastic feeding bowls, containers to store grains/feeds, straw, roofs for animals and storage areas, wire, rope, wood boards, cement, fencing, antibiotics for animals, asphalt shingles, glass, insulation, paint, heating, refrigeration etc. Seed and hardware will no longer be available at the local hardware store. No more Mason jars, they were once made in Muncie, Indiana and transported by rail all over the U.S.. No more Mason jars, unless they are made locally.

Then there is clothing which is currently manufactured and transported from afar. Making cloth is a major operation from growing cotton to making cloth. I have studied the textile mills of Lowell National Historical Park in Lowell, Massachusetts, as I used it as an example of the confluence of capital, technology, and labor for a course I taught on Global Urban Politics at the University of New Hampshire. I know that the parts in those factories were manufactured in many places with a vast transportation network. Those factories will not be built again. And there are not many sheep around, nor animals for making leather clothes. Eventually down coats and down comforters wear out, as do blankets. Keeping warm will be a major problem for survival.

Potable water is another problem, and sanitation. The main problem is that sanitation will fail and raw sewage will be dumped into rivers. Those living down river will contract intestinal and infectious diseases. This and exposure will be the main sources of fatalities.

And there will be no modern pharmacies and hospitals

Cliff Wirth

Keeping warm will be a major problem for survival.

45 Degrees all winter long - done it for three years - will do it for a fourth just because I dislike the energy company that much.

The main problem is that sanitation will fail and raw sewage will be dumped into rivers. Those living down river will contract intestinal and infectious diseases.

Which will make New Orleans a non issue. And a big die off will solve the resource competition issue. So see, the system works and is self-correcting!

The solution to pollution is dilution.

Upstream fecal bacteria, cholera, etc. will never be an issue with the Mississippi River. It is difficult for those upriver to imagine the MASSIVE volumes of water in the Mississippi River.

The navigation channel (a fraction of the cross-section) is 100' deep and 900' wide, all moving at several mph.

Natural remediation will cleanse whatever Baton Rouge drops in. (Red Stick's argument against building sewage treatment was that samples upriver of sewage outfall were the same as samples downstream).


Alan -

Sewage treatment is one thing, potable water treatment is something else again.

The enormous flow rate of the Mississippi does not in and of itself mean that the water, untreated, has safe levels of pathogenic microorganisms, as the pollutant loading from industrial discharges, agricultural runoff, and urban runoff is also quite enormous.

It doesn't take a very large drinking-water pathogen count to make a lot of people seriously ill should we find ourselves in a position were we can no longer disinfect potable water through the widely used application of chlorination. Why do you think there are so many water-borne diseases in the rural areas of Third World countries?

Even when the US had a population that was but a tiny fraction of what it is now, prior to the application of effective water treatment technology, outbreaks of water-borne disease were fairly common.

Lack of electrical power = lack of chlorine production = lack of safe potable water = outbreaks of water-borne disease = general deterioration of public health = higher death rate, particularly among children. Just something else to worry about should our whole energy infrastructure turn to shite.

Residents along the Amazon drink that water with minimal treatment today without adverse effects. Water-borne diseases came from drinking well water, not river water.

The types of pollution you mention (industrial, ag, urban runoff) have almost nothing to do with pathogens (fecal bacteria#). And these sources will decline with industrial production.

Filtration or just sedimentation will be needed to get the mud out. Perhaps put Mississippi River water in clear gallon/5 gallon glass jugs in the sunlight (a disinfectant) and the water will not be a source of disease, if not up to modern drinking water standards.


# Feedlots, chicken production do introduce some fecal bacteria upstream, but they are diluted to nothing and dead by the time they get downstream.

Alan -

Well, there's only one way to find out for sure: start drinking some untreated Mississippi River water and then see how you feel in about a month. If you feel great, no problemo; but if your bowels have turned liquid, then your hypothesis may have been in error.

(Note: Treatment processes such as filtration and sedimentation performed on a large scale, such as for a city the size of New Orleans, DO require electrical power. Exposure to sunlight will kill some, but not all, pathogenic organisms. But not easy to do when you have to treat over 100 million gallons of water per day.)

CJWirth explains the problems with survival very cogently.

However there are some 'workarounds'.

According to Thoreau you require one thing and that thing is body heat.

No scientific explanation or semantics, just plain body heat which means you are functioning. I suppose Neanderthal man understood this quite well and there were no Neanderthal scientists on the scene for sure.

So body heat then and that of course requires food. Then to preserve this body heat one needs clothing and beyond that a type of shelter.

So three items. Food,clothing and shelter. All the rest if Foofoo nonsense and you start going beyond that eventually you become a Yuppie with a soccer wife yada yada.

So you dig a hole in the ground for shelter.Lots of pioneers did that.
You learn to trap food with simple devices supplied by nature. You use the skin to make clothing. Eat the animal and learn to forage for the rest. Helps if you have a copy of "Stalking the Wild Asparagus".

So how hard is this? Not easy but doable.

Remember though that there is a big dieoff and lots of good stuff lying all over the place, IF you yourself have what it takes to survive that dieoff. This will give you enough to finally work backwards to the purest form of survival.

I would note that the 'long hunters' who traveled on foot into the virgin KanTuckee country only had a muzzle loading rifle,some powder and shot. They survived for long periods. Okkkk .maybe an axe but more likely a few tomahawks.

This is how it once was. Mountain men did it so therefore we can too.

Think..birch bark canoes,deadfalls,so on.....

Course you won't be able to take your Ipods and the Net with you. This will banish many to tears and they will never get started.

Airdale-the way I see it..others may differ..so then good luck to them

However there are some 'workarounds'

What about a 'workaround' on railroads which started to be built in the US around 1840 and ran on iron rails and used wood as an energy source? The railroads did not use coal extensively until the 1870's and did not use oil to fire boilers (western RR's only) until almost 1900. Therefore, without oil we could still have a viable railroad system to serve maybe 100 million people as things were around late 1800's.

My grandfather born in 1896 never rode in a car or saw a paved road until he was around 12 years old. He was born in southern Minnesota and lived there and in Montana until 1925. One comment he made about the energy situation: he questioned the government spending so much money on the space program and "defense" during the energy crisis of the 1970's. He thought solving the fossil fuel energy shortage problem was one of the most important things we could do at that time.

Governments aren't even addressing oil depletion at all, and you want them to worry about a scenario whereby oil supplies are so low that the power grid cannot be serviced (trucks have no fuel). Most electricity is generated from fossil fuels-they don't even see this as an issue, much less what you are talking about.

Highway maintenance and power grid maintenance are not feasible without ample supplies of oil. Without the power grid, the solar panels and wind turbines will be virtually useless.

Highway maintenance maybe, but a power grid can be maintained without ample supplies of oil.

the parts, like huge transformers and huge pylons come via highways.

They also come by rail (and barge in some areas).

One of the few commercial users of the Erie Canal (undersized for current barges) is General Electric.

It is not that difficult (see Australian Outback) to have massive trucks (bigger than USA) operating on dirt roads.

Your thesis is flawed.


I think you are overly worried about the grid and solar energy.

We (in the U.S.) already have an extensive electric supply network for distribution to consumers. Most every house in the U.S. has a roof covered with asphalt shingles, which have a nominal lifetime of 20 to 30 years or so. Many of these will need to be replaced within the next 20 years. With those facts in mind, if every new or replacement roof was covered with low cost PV panels or shingles, the amount of electric generated would be massive. The problem would then be matching this power to the demand side of the grid. I think that adding storage at each PV installation in small increments along with smart inverters to feed the AC power back into the grid on demand would provide a sustainable system for meeting that demand.

Even before these PV systems could be installed, demand side management using the same smart grid could cut the peaks out of the demand curve. The largest loads for home owners are for hot water and HVAC, both of which could be managed thru scheduling in ways to match the available power production. Of course, our electric utilities don't operate that way, as their motivation is to maximize power sold, which in turn, maximizes their profits. It may be that our electric utilities must be returned to a highly regulated form of public utility for such ideas to be implemented. The free market model of economics just doesn't work during a contraction or other crisis, especially where a "natural monopoly" is involved.

Passive solar can provide a significant fraction of the energy needed for space heating. However, when heating is needed the most, i.e., when it's coldest, passive fails to produce enough energy. I've lived with passive for several decades and my present house has a large south wall collector system which operates that way. I still use propane on the coldest days or when there are clouds overhead. I think people will not willingly accept your idea of wearing down gear and longies indoors unless they have no other choice and I've done that too. It's not fun and may create health problems as well. Wood heat? If everyone did that, the trees would be gone rather quickly, IMHO. Unless, or course, the population crashes to a level which for which sustainable supplies are available to keep the caves warm.

E. Swanson

Most every house in the U.S. has a roof covered with asphalt shingles, which have a nominal lifetime of 20 to 30 years or so. Many of these will need to be replaced within the next 20 years. With those facts in mind, if every new or replacement roof was covered with low cost PV panels or shingles, the amount of electric generated would be massive.

Mr Swanson - I agree that passive solar rooftop is an extremely efficient use of energy. With Net Metering Laws in most states it is a real opportunity to reduce peak load and take advantage of local efficiencies. Local solar arrays are highly efficient, without having to travel great distances via power lines. If the power is used on site by the producer (homeowner) or a close neighbor it is highly efficient.

One of the biggest challenges for solar panels is they come in large rectangular assemblies that require an appropriate unbroken roof line that is also at the appropriate tilt-up. For example in San Diego for a highly efficient solar array you prefer a long 30 degree southern tilt-up. With trendy architecture often breaking up a roof run with gables and visually interesting line breaks it makes designing an efficient solar array sometimes impractical. Ask any solar designer how many jobs they have had to walk away from because of this. In addition to that most new homes in the SW US (where the most productive solar regions are)have tile roofing material which create an additional expense during installation.

What homebuilders are going to need to do in the future is design the roofs to take advantage of the homes orientation and install the panels during construction. If the builder is doing tract homes this is often prohibitively expensive to adapt a Plan IV to a North-East Orientation. The least challenging roofs are flat. Then the installer can use tilt-up racking to get an efficient array. That is why commercial space is so easy to adapt because they have long flat runs. The biggest challenge with commercial roofs is certifying the structural integrity to support solar equipment. Commercial roofs are often designed to bare minimums that often have to be reinforced.


See my comment above to Eric.

If one thinks the result of our situation is a total, permanent collapse of all economic activity, then, your scenario is likely to play out as you present it, up to a point. I think you are ignoring the fact that there are many people who have an interest in surviving and will find many ways to adapt to life without fossil fuels. We already know that other nations with much lower per capita consumption of oil and other can continue. The life of the average person isn't so great, but they are able to live. Going "back to nature", that is, a life without any modern technology would not be fun, but mankind has already spent thousands of years living that way. It's just that there weren't very many people who could be supported.

And, I doubt that all the technology would be lost, as some of it would continue to be useful and thus continue to be produced. A century ago, there were still sailing ships, which might again be built of wood and sales made of canvas. Cotton can still be grown and harvested just as it was in the 1870's, by hand labor. You don't need "slaves" to do that, just enough people who can't find anything else to do to stay alive except share crop or tenant farm. The usual life threatening diseases might return to their old frequency, such as small pox and cholera. People might only live 40-45 years and more women might die in child birth. But living that way would not be so bad. Here's a report of just one Cholera epidemic in 1873 which may have impacted my ancestors who lived in western Kentucky. Must we look back to know the Future??

The American Indians lived and died without iron and steel before Columbus and there were rather large numbers of them before the European diseases were introduced and killed off most of them. There are still people living such lives in isolated places, even "bush men" in parts of Africa. You may find yourself having to adapt sooner than those of us up North, as you now reside in Mexico. Mexico may be one of the first nations to suffer as their oil production winds down.

E. Swanson

We have poisoned quite a bit of the earth.
We are poisoning the earth in an ever increasing degree.
As fossil fuels become scarce and dear, woods will come under increasing pressure.
The prehistory of New Zealand is quite instructive: in the first three centuries, the invaders of the islands ate practically everything in sight; humans ate anything larger than a rabbit, rats ate anything smaller than a cat. The rats were pets of the humans. When most of the big birds were eaten, they burnt the jungle to chase the last ones. Then the humans had to eat each other for a while. And they invented 'taboo' as in 'do not touch anything in this area' which enabled the survivors survival, up until the arrival of pale skins.
I am not sure wether we will get to the stage of 'taboo' soon enough.
It is quite easy to imagine us killing of enough of the earth that nothing bigger than a mouse survives.
Maybe a few of us will get through the worst, but it will be a lot less than would have been possible only 50 years ago.
I have never been so afraid in my whole life. The system works to feed billions from the work of thousands. Where the disparity between net producers and net consumers is biggest, is where the crunch will hit the hardest. 6,7 billion consumers, and growing, and barely fed (except for us rich folks in the west) and already fighting over food - rwanda was about landgrabs.
By the way, the people who have the most fossil fuel between the earth and the food on their plates will have the furthest way to drop.

Got a chuckle from this, "I think people will not willingly accept your idea of wearing down gear and longies indoors unless they have no other choice and I've done that too. It's not fun and may create health problems as well."

We have neighbors who built this ark of a house, they attempt to heat it with wood. 8 chords minimum. It's always cold there, they sleep with hats and gloves. They over-fired a number of wood stoves and cracked them. Vermont castings with big cracks in them. Basically, they got the fire so hot, it pulled in tons of cold air and cracked the cast iron.

The real thing though is these people are sure they are "green". None of the neighbors want to be anywhere near them by the middle of January. The personality change is something, and they are at each others throat constantly from January to April. It would not surprise me, if at some point, one of them does the other in. They are just hateful by the end of January.

Not a pretty picture for the future.

Don in Maine

i think the name for that is shack wacky.

or as jimmy buffet sang:

"this morning i shot six holes in my freezer
i think i got cabin fever"

Passive solar is very sexy.

Anybody have the latest monthly oil production figures?

Now Russia is preparing to Join OPEC. This even more important reason to CONSERVE a lot more. Remember Russia is the one who supplied Nuclear Technology to Iranians and now they are supplying Nuclear Technology to Venezuela. Russia at all costs want to cause us problems. Russians are throwing monkey wrench in all world issues that are becoming headache to us. Evil Russian Empire Joining another EVIL OPEC

Russia at all costs want to cause us problems.

I guess that's why we had our puppet in Georgia attack Russian troops. I guess that's also why we insist on trying to hem Russia in with military bases and missile installations. And I guess that's why we spend 10 times as much on our military as the Russians do on theirs.

I think there's a little projection going on. So far, the Russians have largely just made sensible geopolitical counters to aggressive US moves.

Interesting report from the BBC regarding Ossetia and what the US backed Georgians got up to there.

What really happened in South Ossetia?

I doubt if the US urged the Georgians to attack and just left them to get steamrollered without support. Since the Russian troops were in territory internationally recognised as Georgian the US could have intervened to support them. It seems that far from getting Georgia to attack Washington were caught flat footed by it.

Maybe, maybe not. But if the US did, it wouldn't be the first time we instigated rebellion and then hung out the rebels out to dry. See the First Gulf War.

For that matter, we arguably gave Saddam a green light to invade Kuwait in the first place.

What a tangled web we weave...

not really. Saddam invaded because he thought the West would give nothing worse than a diplomatic protest. He was nearly right.

Mr Fake,

Remember a little harder and it was the US who started the Iranian nuclear program under our buddy The Shah.

Though I agree, conservation is good.

Too bad Mr. Fake is so new to TOd. But I'm sure as a valued member, he'll take the time to answer the questions:

1) If a nation state is in compliance with the various laws set forth back in the 1950's to usher in "the peaceful atom" - does it matter who gives what to whom?

2) If a nation state is in violation of US or international law WRT "the peaceful atom" - should said nation state suffer the penalties of said violation?

I look forward to your answers.

If you're going to throw around accusations of evil, I'd like to take a crack at it:

The United States of America is the single country most responsible for massive suffering and excess deaths of Russians under its agent Boris Yeltsin. There is blood on our hands.

Read Naomi Klein's "The Shock Doctrine" and see if you agree.

The first article at Savinar's site is an absolute must read-fascinating http://www.lifeaftertheoilcrash.net/BreakingNews.html

Agreed - assuming you are referring the "The End" then the re-direction to the full article is here.

This article is truly stunning. Someone had the foresight to short this mess. I guess the only thing better than being a Cassandra is being a rich Cassandra.

I highly encourage people to read his books, especially "Liar's Poker". It's really funny and a good look at what was happening on Wall Street in the 80's.

From the article:

He called Standard & Poor’s and asked what would happen to default rates if real estate prices fell. The man at S&P couldn’t say; its model for home prices had no ability to accept a negative number.

That one made me laugh out loud.

Regards the linked article on LATOC.

I agree with the article. More over IMO we are seeing something very
difficult for me to understand.

People are actually trying to change their habits. Driving,eating out,extensive useless shopping,etc....

Enough to crash the price of oil. Enough to reduce a heck of a lot of demand ,at least temporarily.

I think they are starting to run scared. I never thought this would happen in such a slow fashion. I always expected a fast crash since I didn't see and still don't see that much resilience in the thypical Murkan. Too late though.

Its just enough to start the downhill slide though. Enough so that TPTB might get a clue that the pubic really does have the power , although its far from cohesive, the power to absolutely destroy this nation built on cards.Too late though.

All the signs are starting to become visible. I imagine that the politicos are suddenly starting to get a clue and are likely scared shitless. Too late though.

About the stock market. I used to buy thru the employee stock plan some of my companies stock. It was priced around $5xx at that time. Considered 'blue chip' one tended to hold it and let the dividends roll in. Same with many others. The market was very steady. Stockholders really were owners of the corporations at that time and played the game as such.

Then there were speculators , who preferred to be called traders, who didn't care about the corporations. They just wanted to make fast money. This was the start of what we now see being written about in the linked article.

Its touted that the role of a corp is simply to take care of the shareholder. Thats utter bullshit. The company I worked for placed , at the time, the shareholder/stockholder at the very bottom of its corporate guidelines and beliefs. The very bottom. Its other goals were very applaudable and valuable but howsomeever the speculators and yuppies soon destroyed this and a new CEO came in who totally stripped the company to its bare bones and spewed the mantra of 'growth' etc.

He became very rich while the employees were downsized and benefits reduced to laughable level of pain and suffering. The rest is history so I won't go there.

But the rest of the US corps followed the same game plan.
"Piss on everybody,take all you can get,cheat if need be,give nothing back,then fire everyone who gets in your way,do away with pensions and healthcare plans,go home rich with your new trophy bimbo wife."

Piracy. Ego. Greed. Theft. the list is endless. We knew it was happening and we really didn't care a bit as long as you could sucessfully mimic the ones who were doing it up above.

Go buy that McMansion, drive a worthless iron penis vehicle,live on the cell phone or on the net, forget about the environment,screw everything in sight...act like the big dogs.

Debt is coming due. Sudden ..."Oh we better watch it"....and a tad of alarm a this late date is utterly useless.

We can sit back and watch as it all falls apart. Each day a new scenario of doom is occurring. Each day the dow gyrates and twists more in the wind.

Is it over , as per the article? Is it dead? Not yet but it should be. It was nothing but fantasy.

What is of real value now or in the near future?
A useable bike,a garden, some land with trees for fuel,some children who will adapt and carry on,the list is large. If your not already somewhere way down your list then you just get to sit and watch the show.

Airdale-my next years health plan will cost me $700 instead of being free as once promised. Some retirees must send in checks to provider after all their pension is absorbed just to pay for the healthplan. This too will cease shortly as corporations start to start the real dieoff. As for my health I really don't care. I am just paying for one other person. Now I must drop the vision part and the dental part just to have a bit left and not much at that.


You said, "I think they are starting to run scared. I never thought this would happen in such a slow fashion. I always expected a fast crash since I didn't see and still don't see that much resilience in the thypical Murkan."

I have to disagree about the slow crash. As I look at what is occurring, I see a fast crash just beginning; one that will probably increase somewhat geometrically. If you consider just the increasing unemployment and decrease in profits, I can see no way that this won't escalate like a tidal wave taking out everything in its path.


It seemed very slow to me until September. Now it seems very fast.

To me, it seemed like things were moving fast in September and October, but now it's slowed down again.

The financial system is still scarily out of joint, but it's been papered over enough that people have lost interest. Everyone thinks the problem is fixed, it's just going to take some time to recover.

The unemployment numbers and retail sales numbers are bad...but energy prices are falling, so consumer confidence is up. The Dow is way down from its peak, and very volatile, but seems to have stabilized in the last month. There are tons of foreclosures, but some people are jumping in to buy, because of the "bargains," and fear that interest rates will go up.

It seems like we've gone through this before. Last year, many wondered if the holiday season would be the last hurrah before everything crashed. But it wasn't. There was a scary moment in March, but they papered it over and BAU continued.

I do think we're in for a lot of hurt, but I'm still thinking it could be a lot slower and more drawn out than many here expect.

The financial system is still scarily out of joint, but it's been papered over enough that people have lost interest. Everyone thinks the problem is fixed, it's just going to take some time to recover. The unemployment numbers and retail sales numbers are bad...but energy prices are falling, so consumer confidence is up.

Not everyone thinks the problem is fixed. (emphasis mine)

Mayor Daley: Prepare For Mass Layoffs

"This is going to be all year, so it’s going to be a very frightening economy," Mayor Daley said. "Each one tells me what they’re laying off, and they’re going to double that next year. We’re talking huge numbers of permanent layoffs for people in the economy. It’s going to have a huge effect on all businesses..."

The mayor said the gravity of the situation cannot be underestimated. "We never experienced anything like this except for people who came through the Depression," he said. "When you have that many layoffs this early – and this is the beginning of the layoffs – that is very frightening..."

Lag time. The unprecedented failures we've seen in the financial system will have unprecedented consequences for the economy. After a lag time (which appears to about over).

As millions of Americans become unemployed, 'consumer confidence' becomes a bit of joke - unemployed people necessarily spend and consume less. Because so much of our economy is based on consumption, layoffs in one sector of the economy will trigger layoffs in other sectors. Also, when large businesses diminish (e.g., GM), they can take downstream business with them. In other words, chain-reaction.

I think a the economic collapse is going to be lot faster than many here expect.

Kunstler seems to think that the next big thing to get everyone's attention will be when gasoline supply lines fail. I used to be muddled about why this would occur, but now I think it's just a matter of months or maybe a few years before the low prices for a barrel of oil shut down the development of oil production. It won't be worth their while to sell the gas to you or get it out of the ground. All sorts of business will be a losing proposition. I am already seeing this in my neighborhood--the spreading infectious disease shuttering businesses I call "losing propositionitis". When this becomes true about food markets in general then that is the time to really worry.

I don't know about the phrase you use "long and drawn out"---because people can live without adequate food supplies for only so long. Yet on the other hand our species has been successful for so long, it is possible we could find ways to cope, maybe with the government's extensive help?

I think there's a lot of room to cut back on gasoline use. Especially as the economy slows. And of course, the government could do what they did during the war, and ration gasoline, prioritizing "guns and butter." It seems unthinkable now, but bailing out all those banks also would have been unthinkable only a few months ago. Now people hardly think twice about it.

And a failure of the gas lines is not that catastrophic. There have been shortages of gasoline and diesel in the Dakotas for the past couple of years. People got upset, but it wasn't the end of the world. Even when it happened during harvest. Similarly, there was a lot of inconvenience during the Ike shortages, but again...not the end of the world.

In short, I think Greer is right:

One of the lessons of history is that change, no matter how drastic it appears on the pages of history books, is rarely anything like so sudden for those who live through it. Read an account of the French Revolution, for example, and events seem to follow one another like explosions from a string of firecrackers, from the final crisis of the Ancien Régime straight through to the fall of Napoleon. For the man or woman in the French street, though, these happenings were scattered threads in a fabric of months and years woven from the plainer cordage of ordinary life.

There will be periods of rapid change - "stair steps down" - but also long periods where nothing much seems to be happening, and life goes on.

I think we will find ways to cope. We have so far. When this blog first started, many of us thought $100 oil would mean we'd all be living in caves in the woods, scrounging for mushrooms. Didn't happen. A year ago, many of us thought an impending economic collapse meant we'd be sleeping on cardboard laid over sidewalk grates shortly after Christmas. Again - didn't happen.

That doesn't mean I think the collapse will never come - just that it will be slower than many think. And that many who are expecting to see a huge dieoff may die of old age before it actually happens.

Well said, and I heartily agree. Seems you were a bit more pessimistic a month or so ago.

"It seems unthinkable now, but bailing out all those banks also would have been unthinkable only a few months ago. Now people hardly think twice about it."

No kidding. From people ready to storm the Bastille, to lamenting "not Detroit too." Wonder what's next.

"just that it will be slower than many think. And that many who are expecting to see a huge dieoff may die of old age before it actually happens."

Probably so, depends on your age. I still think AGW will impact many more, much harder, and probably sooner.

Seems you were a bit more pessimistic a month or so ago.

Probably. I think everyone was a bit more pessimistic a month ago.

Probably so, depends on your age.

I think even the young may not see a big dieoff. At least, not in this country. Which doesn't mean there won't be a lot of misery. But so much of our energy use is unnecessary. That waste is someone's job, which means we're heading into an economic nightmare. But there was no dieoff during the Great Depression. A lot of hunger and heartache, but people didn't starve or freeze to death en masse.

I still think AGW will impact many more, much harder, and probably sooner.

You may be right there. There may be huge changes already "baked in the cake," even if our emissions drop drastically due to demand destruction. And the volatility that goes along with a changing climate is a farmer's night mare. Poor subsistence farmer, peak oil homesteader, big agribusiness - no one is immune.

Glossed over in Greer's historical comparisons are at least three facts:

(1) The scale and nature of the current energy crisis is unlike anything people have ever faced. Fossil fuel energy is so dense, it will diminish so fast (net exports), and so many of us are dependent on it. There is simply no meaningful historical comparison.

(2) The magnitude of the current population overshoot is far, far, off historical charts.

(3) The global arsenal of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons is historically unprecedented. In addition to all the non-conventional weaponry, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, missile systems and so on.

One of the lessons of history is that change, no matter how drastic it appears on the pages of history books, is rarely anything like so sudden for those who live through it. Read an account of the French Revolution, for example

Greer less often discusses examples of 'change' from the 20th century. In such cases, there is often no need to look to the pages of history books. We can ask the survivors.

For example, the surviving Holocaust victims would probably take exception to Greer's claim, quoted above. The extermination of 11 million people (Jews, Roma, Sinti, POWs, ethnic Poles, etc.) in about 5 years time strikes me as rather sudden. This was facilitated by modern weaponry, railroads, and gas chambers.

The Chinese may also beg to differ. Within a 3 year period, an estimated 30 million died during China's famine of 1958–61. The cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki also changed quite suddenly.

Another important point: These 'changes' occurred within a larger context of a rapidly expanding energy supply. But just imagine the aftermath of WWII, had it coincided with peak oil and extreme and permanent energy shortages.

I think we will find ways to cope. We have so far.

lol Net exports haven't even begun to steeply decline yet. Coping has been relatively easy, a matter of simply 'papering it over.' But we are rapidly approaching a time of energy shortages and mass unemployment, both of which cannot be papered over so easily.

Moreover, mass starvation and extreme resource scarcity WILL result in war between heavily-armed, population-dense, nations-states. The extent of this conflict is up for debate.

I've made this same argument before, using some of the same examples. I think that Greer is one of the most insightful observers of our current and future situations, but I think the above example of the French revolution was a bad one (though he does say "rarely" not "never".

I think that what he means is that things can move both fast and slow. I believe that he means that on the largest scale, things will move slowly - full societal collapse will take time. For the individual, of course, it can be either fast or slow depending on circumstance. Even in the French Revolution example, for that lady's son, it happened pretty fast when he got shot on the battlefield.

In your example of the 1940's, there were some people working boring jobs in the U.S. who didn't see that much difference in their lives over 5 years, while in Europe, whole villages went from intact community to non-existence in a matter of weeks.

Yes. He talks about that in this essay from last spring:

Not the End of the World

It’s not the end of the world, or even the end of industrial civilization, but if history is anything to go by, we could be in for a couple of very rough decades. A crisis phase in the downward arc of catabolic collapse is not a pleasant thing to live through, and we can expect it to have social, economic, political, and (unless we’re extraordinarily lucky) military dimensions that will transform most people’s lives for the worse, temporarily or forever.

Greer does not deny that change can happen quite suddenly, or that there can be a lot of death and suffering.

But that's happening now and has happened before in the recent past, and is not seen as sudden collapse or the end of the world.

IMO, that's where many peak oilers go wrong. They think once it starts, it will be an avalanche and continue rapidly until there's nothing left but smoking ruins.

But in the real world, that's not how it happens. Societies have a lot of inertia, and tend to right themselves. We worry about the FWOs rioting in streets over their lost middle class lifestyles. But if it happens, my bet is that it won't result in the collapse of society. At least, not right away. We've had riots before. Other countries are currently dealing with riots over shortages of fuel, food, fertilizer. Roads are blocked, government buildings trashed, things are set on fire.

But the next day, life goes on. Rather than spiral down into chaos, the cops move in, people get arrested or go back to work, and life goes on. Until the next crisis.

The $100 oil contributed to the financial crisis by weakening airlines, car manufacturers etc. Peak oil popped the debt bubble. Instead of physical oil shortages we have money shortages. We have left the 1st phase of peak oil (2005-2008, growing economy bumping against limited crude oil supplies around 74 million barrels/day) behind us. We can still have low oil prices AND physical oil shortages.

But we see people sleeping in their cars. The signs of peak oil are everywhere. You just have to open your eyes.

I'm not denying that we're seeing signs of peak oil. We have been since 1970, IMO. I just don't think it will result in rapid collapse.


Yup. To you it might look fast. I am somewhat isolated and not hooked in
too much to this economy but I am watching a shopping mall about 40 miles away starting to slowly shutdown. Circuit City, then Linens and Things both bankrupt and sold out.Now shuttered. Went fast. Real fast.

But my view was the very scary part about the fall in gas prices and oil prices. It did happen fast but going up was also fast..yet now it appears that the gas price has stabilized at about $1.9x around here.

So IMO there may be enough who are suddendly scared shitless to start to conserve...and thats causing some very big ripples.

If the stock market suddendly took a huge huge dive. I would call that fast but its up and then a big down,then up and then a big down...maybe computer trading. Maybe some covering shorts.

However no doubt IT is actually starting. Very scary to see it starting to fall apart. I mean ..hey..its happening!!!

So good luck.I know you are way out there already.Me I am still brazing my stove pipe together as the winds and rain knocked it asunder.

I sorta prefer a not too fast crash as I would like to complete just a few more projects. Get my outdoor Pompeii over built. Get a lot more fiberglass attached to my barn/dwelling to keep my firewood dry and a place for my blacksmith setup.

But if it speeds up ...then I think I can handle that as well.

Best to you,

BTW anvils are really expensive since I last brought one at an auction. Hard to find good forges. Stuff is starting to go.

I heard as well that scrap iron selling at a couple hundred per ton was down to 50 bucks and so the scavenging appears to have stopped around here at least.

What makes a good forge ? How does one evaluate a forge ?

It's like an avalanche. How fast it appears to be approaching you depends on how far away you are from it.

If you're nowhere near the leading edge of the chaos, it appears slow. Then it appears to be picking up speed. Then you blink at the wrong time and it's on top of you.

It's an understatement to say that it's unfortunate that there are multiple avalanches to face from the economy, energy availability, food distribution, the climate, and overshoot-related societal collapse.

Bike Sharing Outside USA


Best Hopes for More Bicycling,


bike-sharing has provided a simple solution: for the price of a bus, they invest in a fleet of bicycles, avoiding years of construction and approvals required for a subway.

Good overview Alan. And it's not either or of course depending on location and climate. You have long advocated for the integration of sensible rail projects and cycling. I expect the new administation to move toward prioritizing pre existing projects which help reduce dependence and GHG as part of the next stimulus. Replacing lost jobs will be huge. Cash strapped state and local managers should also keep these types of integrated cycling solutions in mind as they bid for the project dollars. Perhaps an additional priority can be placed. Are you aware of any recent movement? IMHO you would be someone to be brought in on this process at some level soon, anything in the wind?

Have added my voice to the chorus. http://change.gov/page/s/yourvision on the subject.

As the meltdown continues to close off maneuvering room there may still be a few plays to soften the blow. I expect we may see some Chicago style public works employment to backfill the carnage. Lean, green and mean (to wasteful energy consumption) may be one avenue left to us.

Best hopes for targeted solutions with multiple positive effects.

IMHO you would be someone to be brought in on this process at some level soon, anything in the wind?

Yes and No. Some access, but not enough. Crawfish on a promise for a breakthrough access meeting. Maybe ....

Best Hopes,


OK "Transition Team" If you are not monitoring TOD now you SAH should be.

Google Alan Drake or go here and hookup w/him.


What the heck :-)

Also, a ready to go list of Public Works projects


Best Hopes less roads and more rail,


IMHO you would be someone to be brought in on this process at some level soon, anything in the wind?

Yes and No. Some access, but not enough. Crawfish on a promise for a breakthrough access meeting. Maybe ....

Best Hopes,


From Nuclear Fusion Holds Silver-Bullet Promise uptop:

As the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in California approaches completion, researchers are preparing to test what they say could be an unlimited nuclear power source without the environmental hazards produced by nuclear fission.

Is an unlimited power source without environmental hazards an oxymoron? Given the damage which human beings have managed to do the biosphere within the short time of abundant energy from fossil fuels I'm inclined to think that an unlimited supply of energy could be the worst thing that could happen, environmentally speaking.

Is it ever likely to happen though?

"An aggressive development of this technology could lead to a LIFE pilot power generation plant in the 2020 timeframe followed by commercial deployment in the following 10 years," said Ed Moses, who heads up the NIF and is a leader in the development of LIFE.

We're at a point where we're going to spend serious money on solutions, so naturally we're going to see boondoggles pushed to the forefront. Shouting down at the Congressional level would be a good thing but I don't know that energy folk are that organized ... I see lots of fuzzy headed liberal thinking in this area and people will go for what sounds good, even if it's obvious crap to an engineer.

"The growing financial crisis and plunging energy prices have forced oil companies to scale back spending and delay projects, with expensive ventures in the Canadian oil sands hardest hit."

It's also affecting conventional-oil junior petes that live on a line of credit instead of their cash flow. The drilling rigs will be next.

Gasoline in Calgary is now down to 89 cents a litre. This proves to many Calgarians that Peak Oilers were wrong. Not everyone here is in the oil biz, so it is difficult to explain to them that demand destruction is outrunning production declines. The technique I use is to tell them that the good news is that oil prices are in the toilet. The bad news is that so is the economy.

So far we have had a very mild winter; nothing yet to spike those natural gas prices.

Just a quick thanks to Don Sailorman.

Your participation here is greatly appreciated.

I admire your level headed reasoning even though you get beat up on a bit.

By the way IMO the US will try to create two separate currencies. A new global exchange currency to reset debt and the domestic US dollar which they can then inflate all to hell.

Just a thought.

Cheers and thanks!

Inflate away, baby. Make my mortgage go away.

I predicted to someone about 5 years ago there would be double-digit inflation by the end of the decade. I might just be on track for that- have 13 months to go, and a lot can happen in 13 months.

Gckolizard the problem is salaries are probably not going to follow the comming monetary inflation.
This will be a rich mans inflation problem.

We will have decoupling but not in the form most people expect the working class will experience effective
Depression style deflation while the wealthy experience the problem of tons of money that can only be
invested in losing bets as the dollars that are going to come flooding back from China wreck havoc
on any liquid US investment vehicle. And the important thing is liquidity the money will only go
in and out of things it can get into and out of fast.

I fully expect a string of good news soon and the stock market to go soaring and so will oil.
This will be coupled with bad news from China as the US consumer sees none of this money.

The reason is people invested in China don't give a rats ass about making money in China and
the moment that the stock market gets its legs the dollars are going to flood back into the states
and then I'm sure spill out into the EU and strengthen the Euro.

Everyone keep expecting inflation to come from the Fed it won't it will come from and immense flood of dollars
escaping the Asian markets and flooding back home.

But understand this is not money for the peasants it won't help us its not real its a mirage or figment
its money coming home to be lost and devalued and it will itself as I mentioned soon flood out into
all kinds of currencies esp the Euro.

Remember when the Japanese started buying up America ? And later lost their collective buts well this time
its the Chinese. Good chance they will start buying up commercial real estate but thats about it.

Expect long term interest rates to rise expect wages to remain stagnant and the price of everything to go through the roof
as the Stock market has the greatest bear rally in history as every single dollar ever printed heads back to the US.

Don't expect any of this to make it down to main street.

Then and only then will we really start the Greatest Depression and all of this money is lost.

It is difficult for most to imagine as the most recent experience with high inflation (70s-early 80s) accompanied very high wage inflation rates as union membership was very high and foreign goods competition was minor compared to the present. Any RE with foreign interest has a chance to boom, the rest (95%) has no chance at all.

That is why I think we have deflation in our future. Without wage increases, price increases will be limited. And unions or no unions, I don't see a lot of wage increases in our future.

I think the retirees especially will be screwed. Pensions are being cut left and right. And what happens to pensions and health insurance when the company goes belly-up? Even the people who had "safe" pensions (from the government, etc.) are finding they may not be that safe.

I think everyone uses deflation to mean wage deflation-in that case I agree with you. Re prices, you can go to Mexico or any other country with lower wages and a TV from China or any other imported product isn't discounted because the locals are broke. Overall I agree with you and I think it will be magnified because the grifters have the economy and country in a total visegrip-just yesterday Paulson is promoting a new scheme to take taxpayer money to buy securitized garbage (credit card loans,etc.)-the market is frozen because pretty well nobody wants it so Wall Street is losing fee revenue big time.

Re prices, you can go to Mexico or any other country with lower wages and a TV from China or any other imported product isn't discounted because the locals are broke.

That's true, and I expect a lot of "demand destruction." We're already seeing it.

But that will only increase the problem. If people buy less, companies will have to start firing people. (We're already seeing that, too.) That means more people forced to cut spending, and more people seeking work and driving wages down.

It sucks, but those companies making waste-to-be have to fire people and shut down. I'd put the Detroit auto-manufacturers in that class. Not even their spare parts business is up to snuff. There is plenty of work to be had repairing the environment at all scales - from insulating homes to building fish ladders to expanding community education centers and providing real health care. Let alone growing food.

It seems like years ago I posted about how critical it was to jump to the right paradigm, not to ratchet down through every possibility, wasting every resource on the way. I don't know what the right paradigm is - 1/8 the energy? and a society structured for that is my guess - but it's easy to tell some parts. The auto section of our economy has to go mostly away; we can't even afford the type of roads we have. Many messes we've made have to be cleaned up.

Increasing demand destruction is a problem. Increasing demand is a bigger problem.

cfm in Gray, ME

Like I said in my longer post I expect rich mans inflation with poor mans deflation to be our future.
The money is going to bubble primarily in liquid assets with some spill over into commercial real estate.
Its coming home because it has no where to go and its going to self inflate all kinds of bubbles.
I think private real estate will be the exception however we could also have a small land bubble depends
on how it gets dispersed. Certainly another stock bubble.

To get and understanding of how much money is left to be destroyed one only need to look at how much has
fled into Treasuries at the moment. We still have way way to much money and to few asset classes to invest

We have billions if not trillions of dollars floating around the world that still need to be lost before we are toast.

Re RE, Mexico or CR is a good model of the USA future-in areas where only locals own (with the exception of the small elite %), the real estate is dirt cheap. The USA still has lots of extremely attractive real estate that has inherent value to foreigners with money, but it is a very small % of the market.

We will undoubtedly see falling real wages in the future. The lower living standards from declining oil production will be felt in at least three main ways:

1. Prices going up faster than nominal wages, i.e. declining real wages.
2. Great increases in unemployment that will greatly cut average incomes.
3. Decreasing public services as tax revenue falls from declining incomes, declining home values, and declining profits.

My pension from a quaisi governmental agency, Teachers' Retirement Association of Minnesota, went up only two and a half percent last year--about half the rate of inflation. Yes indeed, we retirees are already being screwed, and it will be worse in the future.

I think the most painful part of declining net exports of oil will be the huge increase in unemployment; we may be looking at rates of 25% to 40% in the official statistics within five to ten years. How we deal with this mass unemployment will be an acid test for our society.

Falling real wages in the future? Where have you been the last 30 years? Real wages peaked in the mid 1970s. I started bus driving in 1979 and retired in 2003. I would have needed a raise of $3 hr in 2002 to match the purchasing power I had the first day on the job. In a way I was lucky enough to have one of the few union jobs still in America. The decline in real wages was much worse for the majority of workers. Over that time period more and more families had to become two earner which was unusual when I was a kid. Mothers stayed at home to care for their children until their teen years at least.

O.K., I should have said "more rapidly falling real wages in the future." In my opinion, we have hardly begun to see the great decline in real wages that will result from declining net oil exports.

My real wages declined a great deal from 1973 to 2001, when I retired.

Well, the rise in prices, characterised by the bull market was not matched by an equal rise in saleries. The bull market was fed and sustained by debt, and it is that debt which is being called in. The Federal reserve is trying to mediate the proces by socialising the debt, which should work (economic theroy says so) but has not made any real difference so far. Good Luck

Well I'm predicting and bubble if you will but it will be effectively flat. I've said a few times that the next bubble is not crashing.

One important factor I think a lot of people are missing is what I call the Japanese effect. This early crash should eventually entice overseas dollar holdings to return to America under the perception that a lot of asset classes may now be undervalued.

However I think this money will stay in very liquid assets. So we should see a double whammy of socialization of debt with
a influx of overseas dollars seeking a return. This seems to be showing up as a bubble in Treasuries right now and as soon
as stocks look cheap I think that they will be targeted. Housing no way.

So in any case we have two large remaining inflationary forces that have to be dissipated.

Most of the dollars that have been created over the last decades will need to be destroyed a lot of that is debt but
you have a tremendous amount of real cash thats floating around the world that also needs to be destroyed.
The only way to do that is to entice it back into ultimately ruinous investments in the US.

Thats why I think we are going to see rich mans inflation and poor mans deflation followed once all the debt is either
destroyed or moved to the feds real deflation or hyperinflation for all. Realistically either way the currency is toast.

We could well see some pretty big bull runs in the stock market but they will be fairly short lived destroying
wealth again probably in less than a year.

I appreciate your thanks, and I do enjoy your posts and admire your philosophy of life. After all, in the tough times to come, what will be more important than tasty soup made from inexpensive ingredients? Without homemade soup I'd never make it through a Minnesota winter.

Will the US try to create two separate currencies? I don't think so, because it would be a public admission by the Federal Reserve System of failure to protect the value of the dollar. Of course, in reality the Fed has destroyed about 95% of the value of the 1913 dollar, and even their official goal includes more than 1% inflation for the future.

Oil is currently about 1 cent per ounce! Gold is currently $746 per ounce or 74,600 times the price of oil. A foolish comparison? Of course it is. But my point is that it is economical to mine gold in South Africa from mines a mile deep because of the price is high enough to support it. Price matters.

EROEI is used to calculate whether or not it is profitable to recover oil from the sub-salt areas of offshore Brazil, or anywhere else. If oil stays at the current price, or below, it is quite likely that no oil will be recovered from the Tupi field, though Brazil currently denies that fact. (They say Tupi will be profitable at $35 to $45 per barrel.) But if it cost more to recover the oil than they can get for the oil, then Brazil would be absolutely stupid to do so. They are not that stupid.

But I digress. The point is, if oil had to be mined from deep under the earth, it would need a price per ounce of somewhere near the price of gold in order to be profitable. At the present that would be about $410,000 per barrel. Okay, okay, let’s say it would be profitable at one fourth the price of gold. That would still be over $100,000 per barrel. Nah, that is still way too high. Let’s say one tenth the price of gold. That is only $40,000 per barrel. ….

Well, you get my point. Oil will never be profitably mined from deep below the surface of the earth because the ROI (Return on investment) would always be negative. Even if the oil is not used for energy, assuming everything in your mining operation runs on solar energy, that would put plastics at well over $74 an ounce for feedstock alone if all the oil in the barrel could be used for plastics.

That would make your kid's "happy meal toy" very expensive.

The Brazil Link:
Brazil's Oil Economical at $35 a Barrel, Lobao Says

Edit: I keep getting my math all wrong and having to edit this post. Sorry.

Ron Patterson

I don't know if tar sands can normally be found that far down. I believe tar sands are the result of "normal" oil fields that have been exposured to air. After a long enough time the lighter petroleum molecules evaporate, leaving only the heavier "tar" oil molecules.

Actually iggy you can find deep tar sands. But not only are they not economical to recover they cause significant trouble in the effort to find producible oil. In the Deep Water play in the Gulf of Mexico tar can be found below 30,000 feet. It can cause very serious (and expensive) drilling problems. A number of processes can convert good oil to tar. The most common are high temperatures (as you described: the light oil is driven off) and by bacteria degrading it (happens when the oil gets very close to the surface where bacteria in the water can feed off of the oil.

The Canadian tar sands: not sure how they came about. I Google it later.

Thanks for the info.

Indonesia: People opt for firewood as kerosene runs short

I fear that the model of Jamaica and parts of India, show that there is a possible catastrophe forming here.

People opt for firewood as kerosene runs short

Well, they all need something to bake their dirt cookies with, don't they...?

Yeah, these people are up sh*t creek and there's nothing their government will be able to do to bail them out. And as for a bailout from the first world: good luck on that, we're too damned busy bailing ourselves out.

I fear that the model of Jamaica and parts of India, show that there is a possible catastrophe forming here.

Just curious about the model since I live in Jamaica. You sure you don't mean Haiti? Things seem to me to be pretty much BAU at the moment although money seems to be really tight. No shortages of fuel of any sort apparent as of now.

Alan from the islands

You are Jamaican? Could you tell me why Jamaicans use as much oil as Britains?

Jamaica generates its electricity from oil.

Pity since jamaica like has the ideal climate for solar power. There must be a booming market for solar thermal in countries like jamaica, but i suppose its a question of will and money. It probably wouldn't take much acreage of solar to supply all Jamaica's energy needs.

Cloud cover? Amorphous silicon, as opposed to crystalline, ain't too bad, but solar thermal really, really does not like cloud cover, or even overcast.

If one could not get them down from the rooftop before a bad storm: a hurricane propelling a heavy object into the PV or thermal panel would be a problem too. Imagine doing that remove/rebuild process 10 times a year.

Here's a pdf from the IEA that just about says it all. A google search for "jamaica electricity generation" lead to this and other info like this pdf summarizing Jamaica's energy consumption and resources. I am really worried that Jamaica could well end up like Haiti if world oil production declines too fast any time soon.

I have yet to see any policy statements coming from the government that indicate a recognition of the risk we face (surprise, surprise!), despite my attempts to bring the subject to the attention of a couple of people in the administration. They might have been interested as oil rose past $140 but since the price has retreated, the whole concept now seems bogus! One of my friends said to me recently, "Hey! Whats up with Peak Oil, Look how much the price of oil has retreated!", I reply "Look what it took to bring that about, the decimation of the world economy."

Alan from the islands

My friends say, "We'll gladly pay $4.00/gallon gas to have back our losses in our retirement funds" (they're retired).

In all probability your friends will have both $4.00 per gallon gasoline and much diminished retirement funds. Both stocks and bonds have a long way to go down. For stocks, earnings are going to go way down next year, and the price earnings ratio will come down too. Over the longer term of the next three or four years I expect to see the Dow Jones Industrial Average at 1,000 or below.

Long-term bonds are exceedingly risky now, even long-term marketable Treasuries can go down drastically if inflation rates rise and push interest rates up along with rising expectations for inflation. The Fed and the Treasury are doing everything they can to pump liquidity into the system. They will probably--as usual--overshoot, and I expect stagflation at best but more likely an inflationary depression, where prices rise but real wages fall.

My retirement fund used to be more than 100% funded. It is underfunded now, and this underfunding is likely to get much worse as various assets have to be written down to market value.

However, I'm glad to be retired and not have to worry about losing my job. For me, happiness is having four employed adult children, each of whom has offered to help me out financially, should the need arise.

WOW! Thnks for the links.

Jamaica looks extremely vulnerable. Jamaica doesnt produce any oil does it? The oil import bill relative to GDP must be among the absolute highest in the world.

I thought he must have meant Haiti too.

However, I think the danger of people turning to wood and over-logging will be a global problem, not just limited to poor nations.

Public Transportation at risk due to the financial fallout...

AIG's woes put public transit in trouble with banks

Story Highlights:

  • AIG insured deals in which transit agencies sold, then leased back, equipment
  • AIG's rating was downgraded after the federal bailout
  • Because of downgrade, banks can demand early payments from transit agencies
  • Transit agencies ask federal government to intervene, prevent early collection

Best hopes for the city buses not being repossessed by the institutions that caused the financial mess.

The transit system I worked for tried that lease back nonsense in the early 80s due to Reagan's cuts to public transit. Made a bundle of money for some folks Nevada while we cut service and laid off drivers. I suspect that the General Manager must have got some sort of kickback since he didn't seem that stupid. Mean spirited yes but not stupid.

A little distraction:


Analysis: Oiligarchy is one of the most important games released this year, and certainly the most important Web game. The ability to take complex, inter-connected events and put them together into a model where your decisions reflect decisions made by real-world, powerful people is a testament to the power of this medium. For instance, right now oil companies are scaling back investment because short-term oil prices have been cut almost by 2/3rds; in the game I found myself passing over small undersea wells because I didn't think the upfront investment justified the return. For those of us who want cheaper gas, that decision can be hard to understand, but the math and poetry of it weave together: selfish short-term greed runs this game. While conservatives may roll their eyes at this, and Paolo certainly lays on editorial in the bits of text that lace the gameplay, the underlying model that our collective wealth is tied to oil supply matches the hard reality of it.

Could be a useful way of educating the masses, or perhaps just a bit of fun for half an hour.

Play the game!

Yesterday we had our third power outage this fall. Wind, 5 or 6 hours long, not a big deal, but wondering if others are noting this. I had thought these early fall outages were good, ie early test of the lines before it's real cold, but seems we have more and more of late. Any others notice that?

I had almost posted this reply before the outage, somehow Firefox browser recovered it. So a little comment on coyotes...

We seem to get more than our share of drop-off pets. Last winter was a skittish dog, looked like "Petey" of Little Rascals fame. By February he was just bones, but wouldn't go near anyone, though he'd hang around homes.

Coyotes are smart, but not all the super predator they are cracked up to be. They take their share of mice, roadkill, hunter gutpiles, and I'm sure, dumber urban cats and dogs. But on the other hand, we have a number of barn cats that may disappear for weeks, we might see them mousing in ditches miles from the house, and then find them rubbing up against your leg some night in the barn, meowing with the tail vertical and begging for food and a rub.

Swathing (haying) the valley this summer, our dogs ran around the tractor, pouncing on the mice flushed out. Soon flushed a group of coyotes, also mousing. The dogs took out after them, and sitting high in the tractor seat, you could watch the spectacle unfold. Coyotes ran in and out of the uncut, and around in large circle. One would dart out from the group, dogs chase it, then head back. Became obvious they were trying to cut our young pup out of the group, and came real close before I wised up and got the pup back.

They are murder on sheep.

One of the best works sheep, coyotes, and ranching. long title, sparse text, vivid sketches.

"Today I baled hay some to feed the sheep the coyotes eat"

One summer my wife & daughter & I spent living under a big live oak tree along Gallinas Creek in southern New Mexico. We had a little cat who spent the nights up the oak safe from the coyotes. The coyotes came right up to the tent and ate the cat food but couldn't get the cat up in the tree. What finally got that cat wasn't coyotes, it was a great horned owl.

I like coyotes better than I like sheep. Predation by coyotes is vastly overreported but even if they do take a few lambs, I say let 'em. I lost a grey goose this past fall to a bobcat. I liked that goose and was pretty mad at the bobcat for getting it. Still, I wasn't mad enuf to seriously consider shooting the cat. It kept coming around after a remaining duck and I saw it many times. My son got some really good fotos of the Lynx. The excitement & wonder of having a lurking bobcat in the underbrush more than compensated for the loss of poultry. I say share the environment with predators. Learn to appreciate them as the magnificent wild animals they are. Killing coyotes or bobcats just ensures that you have a bad rock squirrel or prairie dog problem.

"I like coyotes better than I like sheep"

Coyote's much too dry, even in a stew.

With coyotes, ag and burbs have both provided the ideal habitat, key for any animal, government hunters and 1080 not withstanding. Since I don't eat coyote, I'm loath to shoot them. But their predation on sheep is not "overreported". Their losses are stemmed mostly by vigilance on part of the rancher-guard animals, shepherding, shelter, and the like. Coyotes will usually take 3 or animals per attack, to their credit, they do eat all they kill if left to themselves. Unlike avian raptors, who may kill or maim several lambs before dining. It's all part and parcel of livestock, there's a million ways to die.

They're terrible predators for pocket gophers.

Coyotes used to be limited to West of the Mississippi, but I think the public work projects of the 1930s just made it easier for them to spread Eastward. I think they managed to displace a few rare (i.e., Red Wolf)wolf sub-species in that time.

I guess East of the Mississippi coyotes are technically an invasive species.

Not exactly an invasive species. They walked here - they were not introduced from afar.

Don't know if they displaced Red Wolf populations, but it seems clear they interbred with them on the way East. Your average New Hampshire coyote is nothing like the coyotes I was familiar with out west.

along the Canadian border they find that coyotes have interbred with wolves - quite a bit of shared genetic material there - so the coyotes have gotten larger and even smarter - there is some talk of it being a speciation event actually - especially as the hybrids seem to breed to themselves more.

A speciation event indeed. The coyotes here in NH are large, smart, sassy. And healthy. Nothing like the emaciated things I was accustomed to out in AZ and CA.

It is thought that our New England coyotes came by way of Canada...

We never used to have coyotes in Ky. Never heard of them here until about 15 or so years ago when they arrived on the scene.

They are pretty smart and generally I wouldn't fear them too much but a very very good rule to follow is never , never go into the woods at night without a good firearm. Never.

I have been stalked by what I think was a wildcat. A bobcat. There are true stories here , stories that go way back of bobcats attacking humans.

I see them on occasion and I see coyotes quite often. I just don't trust them and so I never walk in the woods after dark anymore.

There have been reports off and on of panthers here. I am certain that the Fish and Game folks turned some loose a time back. They most certainly turned some wolves loose.


You know Airdale, I've hiked & climbed all over the Western Hemisphere, from the Patagonian Andes to the Alaska Range, mostly alone but sometimes with a companion or small group, in all seasons & weather, day & night, and I never carried a gun unless I was specifically out to kill something. From forests where jaguars, caimans & formidable pit vipers lurked to mountains where grizzly bears & mountain lions roamed, I've never felt the need to carry a gun. So I would modify your statement a bit: "...a very very good rule to follow is never , never go into the CITY STREETS at night without a good firearm. Never."

I'd rather have one and not need it than to not have one and need it. I've scared off a bobcat before with my pistol, and a friend of mine shot a rabid coyote which was attempting to attack him. Another friend's ex-wife shot 3 wild dogs that attempted to attack her during a raid on their chickens. My bro also shot a rattler while hiking, although honestly with that he could have likely left it alone.

Now, there might not be a lot of animals where you are, but where I am, bear & coyote tracks and droppings are seen on a regular basis. At my new land, about the only wildlife I've witnessed beyond finches and deer have been predators of some sort.

But even if you don't carry a pistol, carrying a knife and a big stick are advisable. The stick is good for stomping around to scare off snakes, and the knife will come in handy at the most unexpected moments, mostly in a non-weapon fashion.

Killing coyotes or bobcats

I have no problem with offing a 'yodie or 2. Bob the cat - well other than the new internet mime about cats are really just looking for a way to kill you - why hassle Bob? (That and Bob is protected and 'yodies are not)

Around here the coyotes lately have seemed to be on the wane. Yet I can hear then hunting on moonlight nights. Bad idea for dogs to be out and decide to go chase them in the woods.

People have no idea just how fast, extremely fast, a coyote can run full out or just loping along. Amazing. They can outrun a dog with ease.

I mean these are some tough predators.

Lots of folks around here have chewed up dogs. The lucky ones that is.

They would rip my two Jack Russels to shreds. Yet my dogs will not abide a cat around. They manage to tear the back end out of the cat and corner it on the ground. Thats when I have to shoot it for it wouldn't live long anyway but the dogs , even though small never seem to get any wounds to speak of.

My neighbor must have 30 cats as he lets his only daughter do as she wishes with them and so they breed copiously, then come to my barn and I have to deal with them.

Frankly I hate cats. I put out battery operated Rat Zappers and that takes care of them. If I could get snakes to stay in my barn I would be happier yet the dogs would not let them rest either.

The reason I have Jack Russels is that in the future I envision shooting a lot of squirrels for food and IMO Jacks make superb squirrel dogs.


Being a lot younger I never really paid attention at the time, so I don't know the reason(s), but long ago one biologist said to me that if cats ever disappear it won't be long before people will be gone too.

Maybe rodents?

Anyone ever hear anything similar?

I never heard the thing about people disappearing, but cats were highly valued in the pre-pesticide days for their rodent-killing abilities. Cats protected the seed corn from rodents. A ship without a cat couldn't get insurance. I've even heard cats credited with the victory over the French in the battle of Agincourt. The English had cats to guard their armories, the French did not. So the French gut bowstrings were gnawed through by rats.

Last year we had a plague of field voles, they where everywhere. So we got a cat, now we have no problem with field voles. We also have a feral cat which seems to have moved into our barn and I've had no problem with mice in there since. Niether bothers my free-range chickens.

Cats play an important part in balancing the ecosystem once its disturbed by farming and other human activities. Even foxes play their part in pest control.

The fact is that feral cats kill tens of millions of neotropical migratory songbirds annually in the US alone. Feral cats are an unmitigated environmental disaster. I like cats and am loath to shoot or trap them, yet I could much more easily persuade myself to do so than I could to kill endemic wild predators such as coyotes or bobcats. And as for rodent control, nothing beats a snake.

I like snakes fine, and would never harm one (even the venomous ones). But they're cold-blooded, and so don't need to eat very much compared to a cat. A cat will also kill rodents even if it's not hungry.

I just don't think snakes are that practical a solution. They won't protect the seed corn. They're hibernating over the winter, when the rodents are driven indoors where there's warmth and food.

The advantage of poikilothermy is that a much larger percentage of metabolic energy can be devoted to growth and reproduction. An endotherm has to eat more, relative to a poikilotherm of equivalent body mass, merely to maintain body temp. Hence, given an adequate prey population, snake biomass can increase quite quickly. Snakes do hibernate but I saw a bullsnake on Nov. 11, 2007 and again on March 7, 2008. Only four months with the snakes asleep. The bottom line is that a snake can follow its prey down a burrow to the nest, while a cat must sit & wait for the prey to emerge.

I'm glad that you like snakes Leanan. So do I. :)

Only four months...but those four months are key. Those are the months when it's tough to get food in the wild, and when it's needed by warm-blooded sorts like rodents. (Most mice die not of predation, but of hypothermia.) And those are the months when the seed corn needs to be protected if you want any crops next year.

Maybe global warming will take care of it... :-/

I don't understand the problem with saving the seed corn.

You simply put it in a gunny sack or feed sack. Tie it off and hang it from the barn rafters. No problem. I got several sacks hanging in my barn .

We also used to store ear corn in a crib. As well as in a type made of wire that any rodent could got thru. Yes some was eaten but not that much. A good border collie I had wore his teeth out gnawing at the wire of the corn crib due to rodents but not that much corn was eaten.

Snakes will eat hen eggs. Saw them do it many times. And I thought that not all cats were 'mousers'. We once had several in Lexington on the farm there and only one of them killed and ate the mice. Some breeds must be better than others I suppose.

If I had a crib full of corn the devils wouldn't be trying to get in the house. Besides they make wonderful targets for .22 rifle practice.


Cats, feral and domestic, don't seem to last long around here. I assume they have their own predators, foxes perhaps. From my own observations they don't seem to do too much harm to the bird population. The feral cat only seems to leave the barn at night and creeps back in again at dawn. My own cat has only killed two birds (it leaves their bodies by the door and doesn't eat them) in the last year or so.

I've read about domestic cats being responsible for reducing bird populations. Probably due to a lack of rodents IMO. Cats used to keep the balance in a disturbed ecosystem can be beneficial, but equally, as with any animal or plant, they can also become a problem in the wrong environment.

Everything in nature seems to have a double-edged blade, being both beneficial and a problem at the same time. Organic farming is very much a matter of managing nature so as to gain a marginal advantage. So, for example, birds are useful for pest control, but the damage they do to fruit must be limited to gain an advantage. I guess the same applies to cats and all other techniques used.

Thoughtful post Burgundy. Thanks.

You know, I don't think of cats as being "domesticated" at all. The appellation "Felis domesticus" is no longer valid. House cats are Felis sylvestris - the Afro-Asiatic wildcat. This little old world wildcat successfully colonized a new niche: cohabitation with humans, without becoming domesticated in the sense that dogs and livestock species have. Behaviorally, there's little if any difference between a house cat and its wild conspecifics. The house cat may be friendlier to people but even that's at the cat's own discretion. My little spayed house cat can be loving one moment and drawing blood the next, as the whim strikes her. The independence and wildness of a cat is what endears them to some while causing others to hate them.

I think cats are domesticated. Perhaps not as much as dogs, but they are domesticated. Temperament varies a lot. After having a couple of very moody cats, I stick to calmer, friendlier ones. It's easy if you adopt the cat as an adult, rather than going for those cute kittens. The sweetest, friendliest kitten can grow up to be crabby adult. Get an adult known to be sweet-tempered, and you can get one that will never bite or scratch you.

One way you can tell cats are domesticated: they display kittenish behaviors even after they are adult. DougFir's description of cats begging for food with their tails vertical - that is a kitten behavior. Wild felines lose it as they grow up, but the common housecat still begs for food like a kitten in adulthood.

This corresponds to the theory that wolves were domesticated by infantilization. St. Bernands were arrested (by selective breeding) at the earliest stages of development, German Shepherds at a later stage of development but before full adult behavior.


I couldn't live without a cat! We had a very old house full of holes and the mice came in to eat food in the kitchen at night. There were so many I was stepping on them in the dark (a very icky feeling). We got a new kitten (since the cat we had was a bit old and not interested in hunting) and they just disappeared after a few days.

I've had cats all my life and have three now, they "are the soul of our house"---without them life wouldn't be nearly as much fun! And yes dogs are great too! Now we have a tiny little Yorkshire Terrier who fits into my bike basket and eats very little (actually mostly leftovers), but he's a great friend.

The saddest days are when our pets die of old age. I know many people who won't have pets because of the trauma of pets dying. But I can't agree with that reasoning.

I live next to a wooded protected wetlands area and have always had a problem with voles. I saw my dog dig up a couple of them and a local cat got a few at night. I knew the cat was hunting because he/she would leave the voles head on my doorstep. The problem was so bad in frustration I got a pitchfork and poked it along all the trails. This actually seemed to work better than anything else i tried.

Don't need cats. My Jacks will kill mice,chipmunks,moles and squirrels.

They do not abide a house cat. They keep my place cleaned up. Squirrels just about ate all the siding off one side of my barn until I got my dogs. No more.

They also do not care for snakes and will always run them into a den.

Growing up on a farm we never had cats for they would eat young rabbits that some grew, eat chicks,eat birds,and dig a hole and hide feces in it so you always laid on it while working on equipment and not only that they walked all over your cars.

When I was into hay I had a haybine. This would keep the cat population down considerably. The 'bine' would be coming down the field and I could sometimes catch a glimpse of a cat hunkered down in the grass but before I could do much ..bump..he just went thru the conditioner rollers and was spit out the back end. Later buzzards would do the cleanup work. Sometimes young does that I tried to pack off the hay field would always come back and get run thru the haybine as well. Not often but deer loved to leave them in the midst of my hay fields.

I will take Jack Russells anyday over house cats or barn cats. For some they work ok. Around here not so well. They tend to go feral and then kill a lot of game.


BTW Squirrels are credited with winning the Revolutionary War. The pioneers and mountain folk hunted lots of squirrels and became dead shots. This was key to beating the Redcoats. Read the story on the Battle of Kings Mountain some time or listen to Granpa Jones who played the song about it.

Hey Airdale,

The night song has to be one of the best parts of coyotes. Silly, but in this nutty world, it's soothing in a way after the barrage of political and financial reporting to know something's normal.

They're fast, but more so they're quick. Turn on a dime.

Our dogs, all part this and that, with more part Australian shepherd or Border Collie than anything, have set up a territory with them that they all seem to respect. The line moves with the sun, but mostly it's the calving pasture, about a 20 acre area between the barn and main valley pastures. The dogs keep them out of this, and will chase them out of the closer valley pastures in the daylight. Times it seems they're talking to one another across the calving pasture fence. There's also a line in the woods, house at the edge, which is hard for me to distinguish. But they'll chase into the woods, day or night, I guess to their line.

Used to dislike domestic cats, guess you get soft with age. My wife has always stood behind the importance of a barn cat, now I find myself watching for 50 lb deals on catfood at the feed store. Under $20, I'll get it, if not, they get dog food.

Anyone noting an increase in electric power outages? I wonder, is it just us, or is the age of the lines starting to show?

I have a horror of rats. Rodents, mice and rats, will eat your food and seed grain if given the chance. Our 4 cats keep the house rodent free. Our big 15 lb grey guy, Sebastian, kills rats. He's big enough, he waits and one explosive pounce with a death bite to the back of neck deals with rats and squirrels. He's now learning to clear out prairie dogs which infest S. Saskatchewan. Our block is now prairie dawg free ;^). My grain-farming bro-in-law was disappointed to hear that Sebastian was fixed, he wanted a litter of his kittens for his grain bins. Great, hard-working animals. Fine symbiosis between the two species.

doug fir--
I also enjoy going to sleep listening to the coyote night song. I see coyotes frequently (yesterday, as a matter of fact).
Cats are valuable as predators, but they also kill (literally) millions of song birds a year. I think they were dropped off by aliens passing the planet, as they seem to be from another planet.

Note that I don't use Rat Zappers to kill cats. I use them to trap mice.

They are very effective and therefore I do not need cats to cat the mice.

To me cats do not have the 'loyalty' gene or are missing something that dogs have. A desire to please their owners and protect their piece of turf. In fact will learn to not stray from that area. Very trainable.

I never heard of training cats being very effective. They tend to do exactly what they want to do. That might include walking on your countertop and sampling the food.

When my son and wife moved into a new residence in Raleigh,NC they found that the previous owners were catlovers. They found out that the very tops of the kitchen cabinets was a favorite place for the cats to defecate. It was loaded with unplesant cat scat. I was the one who had to get on the ladder and clean it up. The outside deck had huge amounts of cat hair imbedded in the crevices. We had to power wash it.

I can housebreak dogs easily.


$56 a barrel by November 15th?
Where have I heard this before?

(long-time lurker, too long)

At least no one, "called it" this year. That would have been even more bothersome than last time.

I didn't see any discussion of the top article on yesterday's DB re: Ghawar. What do people (especially the Geologists among us) think about this. The Saudis claim that the old parts of the field are depleting at 2% a year? Shouldn't this be 8.6% per our recent discussion?

what you said:

"The Saudis claim that the old parts of the field are depleting at 2% a year?"

and what one saudi said:

"Amin Nasser, Aramco’s senior vice president for exploration and production, had then stressed: “Our strategy is based on a low depletion rate, which is 2 percent a year.”"

i didnt take it that this guy was talking about any specific field or part of a field.

depletion rate is the ratio of annual production to remaining reserves, expressed as a percent. annual decline rate is the ratio of the drop in annual production to the initial rate, expressed as a percent.

so if amin nasser was talking about the ksa as a whole, we can infer that their remaining reserves are about 180 Gb.

clears that up, thanks.


I have come across what appears to be a significant discrepancy. I must be missing something and would appreciate any help.

Canadian Oil production in thousands of barrels per day from The BP 2008 Energy report on the ASPO Website

Year 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007
Consumption 2132 2248 2247 2246 2303
Production 3004 3085 3041 3208 3309

From EIA

The US imports the following amounts of crude oil from canada (Thousand Barrels per Day)

Year 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007
imports 1,549 1,616 1,633 1,802 1,888

The math seems to substantially off if you do Canadian production - consumption and then compare that number to US imports. you end up with:

3309 - 2303 = 1006

The number make no sense, that the US is importing 1.8 million barrels of oil/day from canada when it appears that only 1 million barrels per day are available. can someone help explain this please?

Thank you

Is it a crude vs. total liquids issue? BP uses total liquids for their spreadsheet.

I could be wrong (it is a somewhat aged memory), but I believe the answer is that Canada imports, as well as exports oil. I think the USA even exprts small amounts of oil to Canada (less than we import, but nonzero amounts). This makes perfect sense when you consider the need for refineries to balance their needs for specific grades of oil, and with the uneven ability to trasport domestic oil to all parts of the country. Just as it makes sense for the US to export some Alaskan oil to Japan, and use the cash to buy imports for other parts of the US.

I believe the answer is that Canada imports, as well as exports oil.

That is correct, and the reason for the discrepancy. While Canada is a net exporter, they do import significant amounts of oil at their ports, which may be cheaper than trying to get oil from Alberta across the Rockies to the West Coast.

Hey you peaknik mofos.... Robert Hirsch wants you to STFU!!!

Peak Oil: Prominent Peaker Tells Allies to (Temporarily) Pipe Down

Should the deans of the peak-oil movement give the world a break and shelve their dire warnings of impending supply shortages?

So urges Robert Hirsch, one of the true eminences of the peakist crowd. Hirsch penned a seminal 2005 report for the Energy Department called “Peaking of World Oil Production” that warned of stark consequences as world oil supplies tighten, slamming the world economy. He has since lectured widely on the topic.

But with the world economy now under seige for quite different reasons, Hirsch is urging his cohorts to tone down their bleakness for a while so as not to worsen the damage.

Follow the link to see his full memo.

Some outtakes:

If the realization of peak oil along with its disastrous financial implications was added to the existing mix of troubles, the added trauma could be unthinkable.

Many may be tempted to directly challenge the recent IEA World Energy Outlook. I am among those who were very disappointed. Pressing those concerns at this time might further the peak oil “cause,” but it could well do much more damage than any of us really intend.

Please keep up your studies and thinking, because helping the world realize the dangers of peak oil is an absolute must. In the near term, keeping relatively quiet is likely the better part of valor.

Matt Simmons disagrees about keeping quiet.

I don't think there's anything that can prevent a collapse at this point, the question is about timing. And as we are facing a chaotic environment, the decision about whether or not to speak up about peak oil could lead to either a shorter or longer time horizon.

Matt Simmons disagrees about keeping quiet.

And I concur. We are trying to play off two competing interests here. Short term damage caused by economic panic, versus longer term economic damage due to being underprepared for peakoil. So we need to try not to foster panic, but at the same time the urgency of preparing for peakoil must be constantly emphasized. I personally don't use doomerish language, but stress that preparations will mitigate the effect of the world soon hitting the "Petroleum ceiling".

disagree about keeping quiet ... And I concur

I concur also.
Silencing the messenger who brings bad news doesn't make the problem go away.

Hirsch is asking us to assume the ostrich position (head in the sand). Is this the wisest thing to do as the lion of doom charges our way? That answer doesn't make any rational sense.

Peak oil, financial crisis, water shortage, global warming ... they're all part of a bigger picture, namely that of a planet over run by irrational monkeys who have three key attributes: they reproduce well, they think they are more clever than Mother Nature and they happened upon a honey pot full of black gold.

I for one hope that, when Roscoe Bartlett (US Congressman & PO aware) pays a visit to President BO, the BO man does not tell him to go away (as GWB did) because there are more "urgent" problems. All of the above are problems. We need to quickly shift towards an economy that shuns oil and builds an infra structure directed to more sustainable ways of living. It seems that BO understands that. Let's hope it's more than an election year apparition.


Many thanks for the link. I find it difficult to follow Hirsch's logic. I think what he's trying to say is that 'banging on' about peak oil at this stage is like informing somebody with (say) heart disease that he's also got lung cancer -- since there's nothing can be done about it anyhow, why destroy the terminal patient's remaining illusions?

For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.

(Ecclesiastes 1:18)

Hi Carolus,

Thanks for your attempt to interpret, as I too find it hard to follow.

And, I think it's important to really understand what he's saying.

This seems to be the crucial part,
"If the realization of peak oil along with its disastrous financial implications was added to the existing mix of troubles, the added trauma could be unthinkable."

Which "trauma" is he talking about?

The experience of realizing the implications of "peak"?

Or, the trauma that one might envision as part of the implications?

What are the assumptions in his statement?

Can we do anything at all?

He seems to say "No". And yet...we are talking about a multi-factorial situation, and so often people here at TOD (for eg.) say it's the organization and relationships (the human factor) that has to change. That the physical components exist for a better outcome, in other words. However one sees those factors.

Here is something to consider, which I wish I could say to Hirsch (after much listening).

If a person, or, say, a business is having problems, they might make better decisions with the facts of "peak" at their disposal. Navigating the downslope is going to be hard, or, impossible. Still, who can say that not knowing is better?

Also, there's the factor of the person who tells. Hirsch seems to be arguing that it may be better "not to tell."

This means that the "teller", the knower, counts.

What is the role of honesty in relationships? Of any kind? Emotional honesty, in particular.

"I'm reluctant to tell you because I personally found this so shocking. Still, to be able to be myself with you, I want you to know where I'm at - what I've been through, what I see."

And, also, (conversely), is it possible to have a genuine relationship with someone who is withholding something so important from you?

I'm wondering how he would see this part of it.

There's also something on the "cold logic" side of it.

There are some major questions that the scientific community hasn't addressed. The question of the wisdom and/or feasibility and/or viability of renewables in a near-term peak scenario, as Cliff has often put forward as an argument.

I haven't seen this addressed in an impartial way, on the part, say, of people who would do or have done similar studies to Hirsch's.

There are other major questions.

It seems to me that it's important to put these questions and the facts of "peak" in front of the people who are ostensibly working on energy issues. For example, there's a new group called "Novim". (AFAIK, they don't have a website yet.) My opinion about their process is that it's (perhaps inadvertently, but still importantly) insular, esp. WRT to information from sources such as TOD. A small example.

I see a lack of this sharing and questioning happening, and, to me, this is sad.

I don't know that many people possess the information Hirsch possesses in the first place. I wish he could perhaps write more on this for TOD , so we could talk about in some detail and with a great deal of care and respect.

Because that's what's demanded of weighty subjects.

very thoughtful post.
we need wisdom pronto
pray for evolution

Belated thanks for your reply, Aniya. I'm still mulling over it!


You've got me poring over Ecclesiastes.

I knew that chapter One was just the dismal setup, so I wanted to find a later counterpoint. For now, it is this..

"It is better to hear the rebuke of a wise man than for a man to hear the song of the fools." Eccl 7:5

Great book.. http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/16468/jewish/Chapter-7.htm

..and then there's this..

ECCL: Chapter 9

14. [There was] a small city, with few people in it, and a great king came upon it and surrounded it and built over it great bulwarks.

15. And there was found therein a poor wise man, and he extricated the city through his wisdom, but no man remembered that poor man.

16. And I said, "Wisdom is better than might, but the wisdom of the poor man is despised, and his words are not heard."

Jokuhl, thank you for your Ecclesiastes citations.

If present trends continue, a lot of people are going to have a lot of leisure time to ponder over them.

Well, you've read the book. Now watch the movie.

Coming soon on your plasma display screen:

Ecclesiastes and the City

Hello TODers,

Future chaos in the I-NPK supply chain? This is what one expert suggests:

Fertilizer prices drop further, but bottom may be close
Weekly Fertilizer Review for Nov. 14, 2008

Fertilizer prices remain on a downward spiral, with news of more plant shutdowns surfacing around the world this week, even as the industry met in Charleston, S.C., for its annual outlook conference.

But while demand expectations are being scaled back after farmers balked at high prices, there are signs the market may be closing in on a seasonal bottom.

Moreover, chaos could emerge in 2009 as farmers who rejected fall applications due to high prices and harvest delays scramble for product in a pipeline that could be dented by the on-going financial crisis.

Some suppliers are still sitting on high-priced inventory they may be forced to write down. Others may find it difficult to obtain credit, or to get barges up river before it closes for the season.
As a result, USDA quoted farm gate prices in Illinois at little changed from fall highs, averaging $1,125 a ton.
Too bad the proprietary market forecast analyses are so expensive as the details could tell us a lot more. IMO, extreme volatility is very dangerous when one considers the FF/I-NPK latency effect with our JIT system.

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

Hello TODers,

The Baltic Dry Index: The Only Economic Indicator Worth Tracking Right Now
Nov 14th, 2008 | By Louis Basenese | Category: Financial News
Forget unemployment. Inflation. Consumer confidence. Personal Incomes…

You can even ignore the ever-popular gross domestic product (GDP).

Most of the indicators that the market relies on to forecast the future are worthless in this type of environment. The truth is the data coming out of the traditional economic indicators isn’t current. By the time it’s being reported, the information is already weeks or even months old.

If you want to know when the global slowdown that’s erased $28 trillion in wealth (so far) will finally reverse course, pay attention to the obscure Baltic Dry Index. And nothing else. Here’s why…

Nov. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd., Japan's most profitable shipping line, may mothball some of its largest vessels for the first time in over two decades as charter rates have fallen 98 percent over the last five months.

..The Baltic Dry Index, a measure of commodity-shipping rates, is down 91 percent this year. It rose 1.7 percent to 838 yesterday, close to an almost decade-low of 815 touched last week.

Wouldn't this Index be highly influenced by the price of fuel? If diesel goes up, don't the shipping rates have to go up as well? Obviously, if the fuel gets expensive, there will be less demand for shipping, which will slow the index some, but the cost of what does get shipped would have to be higher, I think.

The other thing is that it seems that the price of the dry commodities relative to the price of fuel would have a big impact. If it takes X gallons of diesel to ship timber from Indonesia to Japan, if the value of the timber falls below the value of X gallons, the timber won't be shipped.

5 stages of collapse.

financial collapse is certain.


Hello TODers,

Of course, due to the inherent transport physics and localized logistics of each area: it is difficult to ascertain the precise degree of I-NPK, sulfur, and other essential trace Element price fluctuation. But this weblink seems to indicate, at least for this discussion area, that I-NPK prices are being rather well controlled by the principal companies and cartels in the very long global supply train:

Decision making tools and a look at fuel and fertilizer continued volatility

..Fertilizer prices, in general, have leveled off. As of Oct. 21, NH3 was $1,170 per ton, which is down 3.44 percent from two weeks ago ($1,212 per ton), but up 23 percent from three months ago ($1,053 per ton). UAN is down 2 percent from two weeks ago, from $492 to $482.75 per ton. Urea decreased the most among nitrogen fertilizer, falling from $827.75 to $572.5 per ton in a two week period. This is a decrease of nearly 31 percent. This new price of Urea is 22.19 percent lower than it was 3 months ago.

MAP and DAP as of Oct. 21 were both decreasing, but have not dropped below the $1,000 per ton mark. MAP went from $1,225 to $1,120 per ton in the last two weeks, while DAP decreased from $1,218 to $1,172 per ton. These are decreases of 8.75 percent and 3.80 percent respectively.

As of Oct. 21, Potash and 10-34-0 have not followed this trend. According to our survey, the average price of Potash is $934 per ton. This is up 6.59 percent from two weeks ago. Likewise, 10-34-0 has increased from $1037.5 to $1110 per ton, an increase of 6.99 percent.
IMO, this small % decreases compare favorably with the huge decrease in crude pricing [$147 to approx. $56 today]. As posted before: there are very few companies, and even fewer P & K mining deposits, when compared to the number of FF-companies and their tens of thousands of oilfields, gas-fields, and coal mines. Thus, I-NPK cartels should have a much easier time controlling inventories under the auspices of the Webb-Pomerene Act and the other legal, strategic empowerment acts.

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

Or probably more possible is that the day to day economy is churning along certainly having some difficulties because of letters of credit but no one has stopped eating.

The point is so far as I can ascertain this economic crash is still isolated to growth industries financials, housing, autos.
And in particular ones they require substantial long term debt.

Also you have some pull back with high end retailers but Wall Mart remains strong etc.

Certainly the death of housing in particular has resulted in a drop in oil usage but it takes the same amount of gas
to drive to WallMart as it does Saks.

The loss of the auto industry will also redusce some fuel usage and the combined effect of housing and autos
will hit bulk shipping esp Iron Ore but bulk carriers have also been growing rapidly and are in overshoot.
So we can add some classes of shipping to the list.

Other than that at the moment everything is contained and almost all the problems can be traced back to the collapse
of housing and the follow on collapse of the Auto industry as HELOC money and credit dried up.

The rest of the economy seems to be muddling along and probably will for the time being. Not buying overpriced
houses and new cars injects a lot of cash into the economy for cheaper items.

The rest of the economy seems to be muddling along and probably will for the time being.
Not buying overpriced houses and new cars injects a lot of cash into the economy for cheaper items.

I'm looking at a letter I received from my Bank this morning. Barclays to be precise.
The letter tells me that they have a 'new loan' of 13000 ( pounds sterling) which is reserved and
waiting for me.

Curiously the interest rate is 21.9% APR.
Also curiously this loan offer was unsolicited.
The APR rate is very telling.
My bank appears to have turned into a credit card company.