DrumBeat: December 23, 2008

Steve LeVine - Blunder: A New Age for Russia

In August, Putin’s Russia seemed unstoppable, specifically after its five-day war with Georgia punctured the appearance of a new era of U.S. power in the former Soviet Caucasus and Central Asia. Georgia seemed the crowning achievement of a several-year-campaign of projecting Russian power over its borders after a decade of retrenchment following the Soviet collapse. On O and G, we have covered the Gazprom-led rivalry with the West to build new natural gas pipelines into Europe. Russia’s Nord Stream and South Stream pipelines appeared to beat out the West’s proposed Nabucco pipeline without breaking a sweat.

Not any longer. Simply put, Russia is in trouble. Its much-ballyhooed $600 billion cash reserve base dropped by a quarter by Dec. 1, to about $450 billion, and even further since. Much of that has gone to bailing out banks, select oligarchs and propping up the ruble. But with no sign of an end to the global recession, Putin is allowing the ruble’s value to decline rather than pouring limitless reserves into the currency. This Wall Street Journal interview with down-on-his-luck oligarch Oleg Deripaska tells it extremely well. (Note to Barack Obama’s Russia team: South Stream is on hold for at least 18 months or two years; Russia doesn’t have the wherewithal to finance it; Nord Stream is more likely, but again financing will be a problem. That is an opening that was not present before the financial crisis.)

Venezuela's Chavez says falling oil prices will not detain his socialist revolution

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — President Hugo Chavez said Tuesday that he plans to strengthen his socialist revolution in spite of falling oil prices.

He assured participants in a program that provides stipends to poor mothers that social spending will not be restricted next year.

"Oil could fall to zero dollars, and I guarantee you this revolution will not be detained," he said. "Totally the opposite."

Iran to give 30,000 barrels oil/day on deferred payment

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Iran have entered an arrangement under which Iran would provide 30,000 barrel crude oil per day to Pakistan on 90-day deferred payment, a well-placed source in the Ministry of Petroleum confided to Daily Times here on Tuesday.

At present, Iran is providing Pakistan 10,000 barrel crude oil per day on 30-day deferred payment to help Pakistan meet its energy needs.

Japan Cosmo Oil sees Oct-Dec refining down 6 pct

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese refiner Cosmo Oil Co (5007.T) said on Wednesday it has further cut its crude refining volume plans for October-December to 6.7 million kilolitres (42.1 million barrels), down 6 percent from a year earlier.

More declines for oil on latest batch of bad news

Oil prices dipped below $38 a barrel Tuesday on fresh evidence of weakness in the U.S. housing market and a shrinking gross domestic product that suggests the recession may be worsening.

..."The energy markets are reacting first and foremost to bad economic news, and it seems like they're almost waiting for something bad to occur," said oil analyst Peter Beutel of Cameron Hanover.

A steady outpouring of gloomy economic news has pushed to the background events that over the summer may have led to price spikes, like OPEC's announcement this month of unprecedented production cuts, Beutel said.

Prices have fallen 73 percent since July, with massive job layoffs and weak consumer spending eating away at energy use.

"Boy, it really looks ugly for the start of 2009," said Tom Kloza, publisher and chief oil analyst at Oil Price Information Service.

"It's really difficult to find something between now and inauguration time that says people are going to feel better, they're going to drive more, they're going to ship more packages," Kloza said.

Light sweet crude for February delivery fell 93 cents to settle at $38.98 on the New York Mercantile Exchange after dipping to $37.79 earlier in the day.

'Global land grab' causing alarm among NGOs

MADRID (AFP) – The global food and financial crises have combined to create a new form of colonialism in which countries short of resources and corporations desperate for profits are buying up arable land in emerging nations, NGOs say.

The non-governmental organisations have expressed concern at this "global land grab," which they say is threatening the survival of rural livelihoods in some parts of the world.

The practice is being carried out in part by countries which have little arable land and have been hit this year by soaring food prices, and by investors who are getting burned in the financial crisis and are tempted by the profits from food products.

PickensPlan could benefit TransCanada, Enbridge

The quest for energy independence in the United States could bring a windfall of fortune for Canadian natural gas companies, according to analysts.

First Energy Capital has parsed the so-called Pickens Plan, named after legendary Oklahoma oil investor-turned-protectionist T. Boone Pickens, who has been actively lobbying Washington to switch off Gulf oil for years. Mr. Pickens also endorses the doctrine of peak oil, and that the U.S. needs to quickly move on alternative energy as fossil fuel reserves shrink.

His solution, crafted in July as oil topped US$147 a barrel: invest US$1-trillion in growing the U.S. wind-powered electricity generation by 1900%, taking the number of turbines currently installed on U.S. soil — 16,800 — way, way (way) up to 309,000. The Plan would substitute wind power for natural gas in heating homes, freeing up the fuel for use in transportation.

So, is Mr. Pickens blowing hot air? Analysts at Calgary-based First Energy seem to give the plan merit.

Ukrainian president says gas dispute with Russia resolved

KIEV, December 23 (RIA Novosti) - Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko said on Tuesday his country had resolved the dispute over the debt for the Russian-supplied gas by using its foreign currency reserves.

"A total of $800 million was paid from the reserve funds [of Ukraine's National Bank] and more than $200 million was transferred from Naftogaz profits, and a part of the debt was restructured for January-February," Yushchenko said. "So the issue has been resolved for today."

Yushchenko expressed the hope that a contract for gas supplies to Ukraine in 2009 would be signed in the near future.

Nigeria creates ministry for oil producing region

ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) -- Nigeria has created a new ministry charged with pacifying the southern region of Africa's largest oil producing country.

U.S. Weakens Plan to Curb Air Pollution at Refineries

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency weakened plans to reduce air pollution from new refineries after petroleum-industry lobbyists complained about potential costs for oil companies including Exxon Mobil Corp.

Exxon Unit to Pay $6.1 Million to Resolve Criminal Spill Charge

(Bloomberg) -- An Exxon Mobil Corp. subsidiary agreed to pay $6.1 million to resolve a federal criminal charge that the company spilled 15,000 gallons of diesel oil into a river that flows into Boston Harbor, the Justice Department said.

In Budget Crises, States Reluctantly Halt Road Projects

California, which has suspended nearly $4 billion in public works projects, is one of a half dozen states delaying or halting projects because of capsizing budgets, an inability to attract investors to the municipal bonds used to bankroll many projects and a reduction in gasoline tax revenues — which underlie a lot of transportation financing.

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials has identified 5,000 transportation projects nationwide that lack the dollars to proceed; many of them, like the $730 million project here to add 10 miles of high-occupancy-vehicle lanes to the 405 Freeway — Mr. Schwarzenegger’s backdrop on Monday — have been stopped midstream.

“They just haven’t been able to find the resources,” Tony Dorsey, the spokesman for the association, said of the halted projects.

Q&A-Ukraine-Russia gas clash: same story, new factors

MOSCOW/KIEV (Reuters) - Russia and Ukraine are trading accusations daily in their fourth high-profile gas dispute in four years, which threatens to disrupt gas supplies to Europe from Jan 1. as it did in 2006.

While the dispute may seem more of the same on the surface, a number of factors show it can follow a different scenario this year.

Both countries feel the dire effects of the global financial crisis on their markets and economies. Ukraine has nevertheless accumulated in the past months huge gas stockpiles to give it a strong hand to ride out any storm.

Gas Producers, Urged to Emulate OPEC, Will Base Forum in Doha

(Bloomberg) -- The world’s largest producers of natural gas should seek to adopt the “same principles” as OPEC, Venezuelan Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez told a meeting of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum, which chose Doha, Qatar, as the site of its new headquarters.

“We need mechanisms and tools that will let us better interact between gas exporters to avoid competition,” Ramirez told a meeting in Moscow today of the Forum, which includes OPEC members Iran, Algeria and Qatar.

Gas OPEC? Not Quite

Russia unites a dozen countries under the banner of energy cooperation, but it's not yet a sinister prospect.

Uncertain outlook for Britain's energy

The European Commission has cleared the proposed takeover of British Energy by French giant EDF, subject to the parties meeting certain competition conditions. EDF plans to use the acquisition to launch a new generation of nuclear plants in Britain.

The deal paves the way for state-of-the-art nuclear power in the medium term, but highlights the energy shortfall facing Britain in the intervening years as ageing coal and nuclear power stations are retired from service. Current estimates suggest a third of present UK generating capacity will have been decommissioned by 2020. Steve Holliday, chief executive of National Grid, estimates that all of this will need to be replaced - at a cost of around £100bn - to avoid a supply crunch hitting around 2015.

Connecticut’s Solar Incentives Dry Up

Connecticut’s touted solar rebate program, which experts have pointed to as exemplary, may not be so perfect after all. Six months into its two-year budget cycle, it is nearly out of cash, leaving homeowners, businesses and nonprofit and governmental organizations that want to buy solar electric systems out of luck.

All that remains is money for residential solar leases, but there’s an income cap, and so far, the leases haven’t caught on.

As I wrote in Sunday’s New York Times, representatives of the Clean Energy Fund, which administers the program, describe it as being a “victim” of its own success. But as Connecticut joins a growing list of states — including Maryland and Minnesota — that have run through their solar rebate allotments, there is growing concern that such situations could critically damage a solar industry trying despeartely to get off the ground.

Oil-Refining Margins Are Worst in Three Quarters, BP Data Show

(Bloomberg) -- Profits from turning a barrel of crude into oil products are the worst since the first quarter amid waning demand for gasoline and other fuels, according to BP Plc data.

BP’s Global Indicator Margin, a broad measure of refining profitability, has averaged $4.84 a barrel so far this quarter through to Dec. 18, compared with $5.69 in the year-ago quarter, and $4.57 in the first quarter, Europe’s second-biggest oil company said on its Web site. Global margins have dropped 40 percent since the third quarter, and almost 80 percent in the U.S. Midwest.

Energy Investment, Energy Return (audio and video)

Independent financial consultant Jim Hansen runs every investment through the "peak oil test". In this presentation from the ASPO-USA 2008 conference, he explores traditional energy investments; opportunities in renewables, rail, and electrifying the transportation system; areas to avoid like airlines and trucking; and what to watch, like electric cars and the unwinding of globalization.

In this interview, ecologist and professor Charlie Hall looks at energy return on energy invested. Whether it's a cheetah chasing antelope, or humans making ethanol -- the energy we get back has to exceed the energy we put in, or the story is over. He compares oil's energy return in the 1930's (1 calorie invested returned 100 calories of energy) with the current situation (1:12) and still declining.

Presenters respond to the final question in the Q&A session at the close of ASPO-USA's 2008 conference: how do we better harness the intellect, energy and commitment at this conference, and what one thing would you have people ask an elected official to do about peak oil?

Will Canada be Our Salvation?

There have been occasional claims from U.S. media sources that oil from Canada, specifically oil from the Athabasca oil sands region, can be the salvation for US oil woes in the future, assuming drilling everywhere in the US doesn’t do the trick. An example of such optimism was exemplified in a 60 Minutes segment about a year ago which gave the impression that the Athabascan region could supply much of the future U.S. oil needs.

There is a considerable volume of oil in the Athabasca region and production has been increasing over the years. But how realistic is it to assume that oil sands oil will provide a significant portion of future U.S. oil needs?

Australia: Fuel shortages feared across Queensland afer refinery fire

FUEL shortages are likely to hamper Christmas preparations, with service stations across Queensland unable to guarantee supplies.

Bundaberg in the Wide Bay-Burnett district and Goondiwindi in southern Queensland were among the worst hit centres yesterday as oil companies struggled to overcome a drop in supply caused by an explosion at Caltex's Lytton refinery.

The incident on December 12 has almost halved production at the site and caused many Caltex service stations to repeatedly run dry.

No gas shortage, but some stations are out

BELLEVUE -- Drivers in some hilly neighborhoods and others hit hard by snow are having a tough time finding gas nearby.

There's no problem at the refineries, but roads in many places have been too hazardous for large fuel trucks to make it to the gas stations.

Pennsylvania concerned about waste water from new gas wells

Gas well drillers tapping into the deep Marcellus Shales add up to 54 substances, some of them toxic, to the water they use to fracture that rock and release the gas.

And the state Department of Environmental Protection doesn't know what chemicals, metals and possibly radioactive elements are in the waste water that is pushed out of the wells. It is discharged into the state's waterways including the Monongahela River, from which 350,000 people get their drinking water.

For clean energy, look to the Internet

"The world should be happy that a bunch of Internet people like me have turned their attention to energy because that's how we are going to solve it," Metcalfe says. "It is easier to teach energy to people who are steeped in the entrepreneurial culture than it is to teach entrepreneurial culture to people who know energy."

"People who have worked for BP for 25 years have no entrepreneurial bones," he adds.

International oil demand declines due to OECD squeeze

World demand for oil will end the year at an average of 85.83 million barrels per day (bpd), a year-on-year decline of 700,000 bpd, according to figures from Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec).

This represents a downward revision of 360,000 bpd from last month's estimate, says Kuwait-based Global Investment House's oil bulletin for December.

The decline is largely due to an expected fall in Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) oil demand of 1.5 million bpd year on year. The fall in OECD demand in turn is mainly attributed to the United States, the world's largest economy and biggest oil consumer.

Year-End Round Up: Top Worldwide Finds in 2008

A year most notable for its record high and low crude prices driving year-round market tension, not to mention oil majors' annual build-up to third quarter, bank-busting profits, 2008 should also go on record for the petroleum industry's significant oil and gas finds dotting the globe. Some of these discoveries have pinpointed specific regions as potential investments for future exploration ventures, while others further the commercial viability of already existing fields' values and reserve estimates.

One particular region that has continued to dig deeper in 2008 and has hit the hydrocarbon jackpot for the year is located in the world's southern hemisphere and features unconventional conditions for recovering hydrocarbons. Specifically, Brazil is taking the reigns for unlocking vast amounts of oil and gas below layers of salt, rock and sand, and several of the most memorable finds are located in extreme water depths in the country's subsalt basins.

CERAWeek 2009 Risk and the Rebuilding of Confidence: Energy Strategies for a Turbulent Economy

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - (Business Wire) The world must grapple with a new and challenging energy future brought on by a time of financial and economic turbulence. Abrupt changes in markets, prices, and demand are creating urgent challenges across all the energy industries, while technology and new policies from a new U.S. administration are raising fresh uncertainties for 2009 and far beyond.

How industry participants respond to this sudden and challenging scenario will be the focus of Cambridge Energy Research Associates’ (CERA) 28th annual Executive Conference, Risk and the Rebuilding of Confidence: Energy Strategies for a Turbulent Economy, February 9-13, 2009 in Houston.

Nigerian oil reserves drying up?

Nigeria's oil reserves could dry up in the next 50 years, according to energy officials for Africa's largest oil producer, citing a downward trend in production over the last five years. Many attribute the decline to ongoing violence, not depleted resources.

Alaska sees 3.8 percent oil production decline next year

Alaska North Slope oil production is expected to average 689,000 barrels per day this year, a decline of 3.8 percent from last year, state revenue forecasters said in a revenue forecast released in Juneau Dec. 9.

For 2010, the department anticipates further production declines to 665,000 barrels per day, the report said. The production decline from existing fields will be partially offset by production coming from new fields.

Serbia reaches energy deal with Russia

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Serbia said Monday it has agreed on a multi-million-dollar energy deal with Russia, to be signed this week despite strong opposition within the balkan country's government.

The deal means Serbia will sell its oil monopoly, NIS, to Russia's state-controlled Gazprom in exchange for the construction of a strategic Russian pipeline through Serbia.

World Bank Urges Russia to End Its Ruble Policy

MOSCOW -- The World Bank called on Russia to abandon the ruble's managed exchange-rate policy in order to moderate capital outflow, which is set to reach at least $100 billion this year, and safeguard the country's massive monetary reserves.

EPA sued over mountaintop mining rule

WASHINGTON - Environmentalists sued the Bush administration on Monday, trying to stop the Environmental Protection Agency from changing a rule they say keeps mining waste from entering mountain streams.

"The notion that coal mining companies can dump their wastes in streams without degrading them is a fantasy that the Bush administration is now trying to write into law," said Judith Petersen of Kentucky Waterways Alliance, one of the groups that sued in U.S. District Court in Washington.

Energy nominee is no fan of fossil fuel-based energy

With the announcement of his new energy-environmental team last week, President-elect Barack Obama has signaled a clear intention of pursuing policies that differ sharply from those of his predecessor.

While some questions remain unresolved, one thing appears certain:

His choice for secretary of energy, the highly respected Nobel laureate Steven Chu, is no fan of fossil fuels. Chu's statements and policy positions suggest that he favors a shift away from one of the nation's — and Houston's — most important and strategic industries. If that is the case, it might be wise to consider how realistic such a shift would actually be.

Mapping Renewable Energy, Rooftop by Rooftop

The sun shines on everyone — but not in equal measure. That reality has long slowed the spread of solar power. Depending on where you live in the country — or even where you live in your city — the same array of photovoltaic solar panels can produce enough electricity to power your house with watts to spare, or barely cut a nickel from your utility bill. It all comes down to the precise amount of sunlight that hits your roof. But while we all know that San Antonio gets more sunny days than Seattle, what about one part of San Antonio compared to another? One block of downtown Seattle compared to the next block? "Without that knowledge, renewables can be a bit of a crap shoot,' says Kenneth Westrick, the CEO of the renewable mapping company 3Tier.

All of that could be changing. The engineering company CH2M Hill is now joining hands with the U.S. Department of Energy to provide Internet solar maps of 25 American cities, using Google Earth technology to chart the precise solar potential of neighborhoods, literally rooftop by rooftop.

Deep-water wind farm plans inspire hopes, outcries

Behind the scenes in the U.S. and in Europe, the race is on to build the world’s first deep-water wind farms, ones that would operate on floating platforms in waters hundreds of feet deep, like oil rigs found in the North Sea and the Gulf of Mexico.

There are gargantuan technical hurdles, but there is also the potential for a huge payoff, said Habib Dagher, who is working on a deep-water wind turbine at the University of Maine.

Financial meltdown slows wind-power boom

Doyle is paid just over $35,000 a month for the seven wind turbines in his soybean and corn fields. Those turbines and thousands others across the Midwest the past few years were part of an unprecedented build-out for the wind-power industry.

That expansion is now drastically slowing as financing dries up for many projects because of the global economic crisis. Companies that bankrolled much of the boom — the insurer AIG, now-bankrupt financial service company Lehman Brothers and Wachovia Corp. — are among the meltdown's biggest losers.

Will Obama Champion Space-Based Solar Power?

The National Space Society has submitted a policy paper (pdf) to the Obama-Biden transition team concluding that Space-Based Solar Power is more technically executable than ever before and urging federal investment that would be necessary to capture large amounts of electricity from space.

A greener alternative to plastics: liquid wood

Just in time for Christmas, German researchers are ramping up a manufacturing technique for making intricate Nativity figurines, toys, and even hi-fi speaker boxes from a renewable and surprisingly versatile source: liquid wood.

The bio-plastic dubbed Arboform, derived from wood pulp-based lignin, can be mixed with hemp, flax or wood fibers and other additives such as wax to create a strong, nontoxic alternative to petroleum-based plastics, according to its manufacturers.

The Coming Oil Train Wreck - First stop: Mexico?

According to Matt Simmons, by the end of 2009, Mexico will no longer be an oil exporter. If Simmons is correct, it will be very difficult to replace the oil revenue that has supported 40% of the Mexican budget. The Mexican government has recently taken the unprecedented step of voting to allow foreign oil companies to explore for oil in Mexico. In a country that celebrates the 1938 nationalization of its oil industry as a federal holiday, it was clearly an act of desperation. Promising offshore discoveries in Mexico will likely take decades to bring to production, according to Simmons, due to the extreme depths and massive technical challenges.

Unfortunately, it may be too little too late to replace the rapidly disappearing Cantarell production. In as little as 12-24 months, the effects may be felt both in Mexico and the US. Replacing the 1.3 million barrels per day the US now imports from Mexico won’t be easy (the US imports 1.4 million barrels per day from Saudi Arabia by means of comparison). For Mexico, the problems run much deeper, as they must quickly diversify their economy or face wrenching economic and social dislocations. The adjustment period will likely bring great change and tumult, perhaps across the border as well.

Saudi to slash 2009 spending as budget deficit forecast

RIYADH (AFP) – The Saudi government said on Monday that it will spend more than it earns next year, despite cutting back its plans, as plummetting oil prices are likely to carve a big chunk out of revenues.

The oil-rich kingdom vowed to maintain spending on major projects, as the first budget deficit since 2002 follows a record year in 2008, when a leap in oil prices produced a budget surplus double the projected level.

"In spite of the decline in oil price during the last part of 2008, this year's budget will continue to focus on optimizing the use of available resources," the ministry of finance said in its budget statement.

Gas exporters to create "gas OPEC" at Moscow meeting

MOSCOW — Energy ministers of 12 gas exporting countries flew to Moscow on Tuesday to create a formal group, which they say will not control output and prices as feared by energy consumers in the West.

A so-called “gas OPEC” will be created on the base of an informal club called the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF), which includes 16 states such as Algeria, Iran, Qatar, Venezuela, Indonesia, Nigeria and others.

Russia Says Ukraine Unpaid Gas Debt Threatens Growth

(Bloomberg) -- Russia accused Ukraine of threatening its economic growth by withholding about $2 billion in payment for natural-gas supplies.

“Not paying for gas effectively lowers the production cost of Ukrainian goods and makes them more competitive on foreign markets, including in Russia,” Sergei Kupriyanov, spokesman for state-run OAO Gazprom, said today in an e-mailed statement.

Putin: no more cheap gas

MOSCOW (AP) -- Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that the world financial crisis and rising costs mean the price of natural gas is going to rise.

"Costs of exploration, gas production and transportation are going up - it means the industry's development costs will skyrocket," he said. "The time of cheap energy resources, cheap gas is surely coming to an end.

'Tis The Season To Blame Ukraine

Russia's spat with Ukraine over unpaid gas bills is widening; Moscow is now portraying its own citizens as victims of the disagreement.

OPEC may call extra talks if oil falls - Khelil

MOSCOW (Reuters) - OPEC could decide in mid-January to hold an extraordinary meeting before March if it sees that global oil prices continue to slide because of weakening demand, OPEC's President Chakib Khelil said on Tuesday.

Khelil said he expected OPEC members to fall in line quickly with the group's latest round of production cuts and he rebuked Russia, calling on the world's No. 2 exporter to stop merely benefiting from OPEC's policies and contribute with output cuts of its own.

Iraq's oil revenues fall 25%

BAGHDAD: Iraq's oil revenues dropped sharply in November even as exports remained steady at 52.8 million barrels, the Iraqi Oil Ministry said Tuesday.

Revenue fell more than 25 percent - to $2.3 billion from $3.11 billion in October - because of the steep fall in world oil prices, the ministry announced.

Petrobras extends loans from 2 Brazilian banks

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazilian state-controlled energy giant Petrobras said late on Monday it had extended an existing loan programme with two Brazilian banks, raising 5.6 billion reais ($2.34 billion) which it would repay by 2011.

The increase provided it with funds that were "suitable for its needs," it said in a statement.

Gazprom May Rise After ‘Triple Whammy’ Shock of 2008, UBS Says

(Bloomberg) -- Russian stocks including OAO Gazprom, the country’s biggest publicly traded company, may rebound next year following a “triple whammy” of negative factors in 2008, UBS AG said.

A slowdown in global economic growth that hurt commodity prices, the global financial crisis that boosted borrowing costs and Russia-specific ailments including “deteriorating” corporate governance and forced selling to meet margin calls pushed the 50-stock RTS Index down 71 percent, UBS said.

Propane prices remain high

Gasoline prices have fallen from more than $4 a gallon earlier this year to $1.79 for regular unleaded at most area stations Monday. So, you might think that propane would fall as well.

Propane prices ranged Monday from $2.60 to $2.39 a gallon.

"We did not see the rise in propane prices that we saw in gasoline," said Kim Klement of Griffin's Propane. "So, I don't expect the same falls."

Modern Miracle of Oil: $147 a Barrel in summer, $39 on Chanukah

(IsraelNN.com) Chanukah marks the ancient miracle of a day's supply of pure olive oil burning for eight days in the Holy Temple. This year, another miracle is oil-rich Arab nations in panic over the plunge in crude oil prices from $147 in the summer to less than $40 on Chanukah.

Energy's take on Team Obama

Despite praising it publicly, the energy industry is wary of President-elect Barack Obama's incoming energy team - which will likely call for major changes in the country's energy plan.

Obama team plans biggest boost in history to save American economy

In a programme tinged with environmentally friendly initiatives, the US president-elect has set a new target of creating or safeguarding 3m jobs, up from a previous aim of 2.5m, by unleashing an avalanche of government spending and offering widespread tax rebates.

The Obama camp indicated that the package would be worth between $675bn and $775bn, easily eclipsing other packages unveiled in China, Japan and Britain. The cash will include programmes to transmit wind and solar energy across America and to put millions of medical records into digital format.

Cheap Gas = Death of Green?

Caterpillar International and Toyota both brought bad news today. Oil prices are off 70% from their $147 peak in July. Eight months ago, any yegg with the ability to execute a financial transaction was a genius, but the bubble that burst in Q4 was the result of 8 years of Bush economic policy that can be summed up thus: reckless deregulation. One would think we learned a lesson these past months, but of late that old Bush recklessness has some pundits saying cheap gas will be the death of alternative energy.

Ford scores marketing coup with thrifty Fusion hybrid

DETROIT — The Ford Fusion hybrid will be the most fuel-efficient midsize sedan on the market when it arrives this spring, clocking in at 41 miles per gallon, according to data given to Ford Motor by the Environmental Protection Agency.

That will make it the second-most fuel-efficient vehicle on the road, according to a ranking published on the EPA's website, behind the smaller Toyota Prius and ahead of the smaller Honda Civic hybrid.

It's a huge marketing gain for Ford as it attempts to green up its image and improve fuel efficiency across the board. The Fusion hybrid will cost about $27,000 vs. roughly $24,000 for the conventional Fusion model.

E85 experiment doesn't prove cost effective

"We decided to take a 60-day snapshot. Gas prices were fluctuating significantly at the time," Dombkowski said. "At the end of the 60 days, gas was at a cheaper price point. The shakeout was even."

Tim Bullis, director of Lafayette's fleet maintenance, said the city of Lafayette also is no longer using E85. This summer, he added a conversion kit to a 2003 Chevrolet pickup truck to try out the alternative fuel.

A Lafayette patrol car and a commander's car also tested E85 on a trial basis.

"We compared it by cost per mile," Bullis said. "When regular unleaded and E85 were $1 apart, it was a tossup. The closer the prices became, the less effective the savings from E85."

How the West’s Energy Boom Could Threaten Drinking Water for 1 in 12 Americans

The region could contain more oil than Alaska's National Arctic Wildlife Refuge. It has the richest natural gas fields in the country. And nuclear energy, viewed as a key solution to the nation's dependence on foreign energy, could use the uranium deposits held there.

But getting those resources would suck up vast quantities of the river's water and could pollute what is left. That's why those most concerned are water managers in places like Los Angeles and San Diego. They have the most to lose.

Oil-Shale Waste 'Non Hazardous,' EPA Says

The Environmental Protection Agency issued an 11th-hour clarification on spent oil shale, declaring the byproduct of the development process not to be a hazardous waste.

The ruling could limit production costs if U.S. developers move ahead with oil shale development, but the next administration under President-elect Barack Obama is expected to put the brakes on commercial development.

Specifically, the EPA published data showing the characteristics of spent shale from operations indicate the waste is unlikely to be a hazardous waste. Oil shale is a fine-grained sedimentary rock that can be heated, vaporized, and upgraded to create a synthetic crude oil.

The 11th-hour notice is one of a multitude of "midnight" rules made in the waning days of President George W. Bush's tenure, as department chiefs implement controversial regulations designed to imprint the current White House's policy mark well into Mr. Obama's administration.

EPA: 7 Western states fall below new air standards

BOISE, Idaho – Most states west of the Rocky Mountains contain areas that fail to meet new pollution standards for microscopic particles that can cause breathing problems for children and the elderly, federal officials said.

...In the western United States, Utah, Montana, Arizona, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, California and Alaska had "nonattainment areas" exceeding the standards, which were toughened in 2006. Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico and Nevada had no nonattainment areas.

Seawater science can help climate change forecasts

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – A team of scientists has come up with a new definition of seawater which is set to boost the accuracy of projections for oceans and climate.

Tough climate goals maybe easier than feared - study

OSLO (Reuters) - Tough targets for avoiding dangerous global warming may be easier to achieve than widely believed, according to a study that could ease fears of a prohibitive long-term surge in costs.

The report, by scientists in the Netherlands and Germany, indicated that initial investments needed to be high to have any impact in slowing temperature rises. Beyond a certain threshold, however, extra spending would have clear returns on warming.

An online, Chinese "Jewishfarmer" ????

Opting Out of China's Rat Race

...Gao Hong and Yang Xiaoling, two advertising executives in their mid-thirties, decided a year ago to give up their lucrative careers to move to a quiet house in the country, eight hours drive from Shanghai in Jiangsi province.

Yang Xiaoling did not like their life in the city. "You work in a company like you are in a machine," she said. "Your working life runs in a groove, you do what you're told."

"People in the city are indifferent to each other," her husband added.

(Now in the country, their) neighbours had to help them establish their vegetable garden because they did not really know what they were doing. They have grown enough to eat, but nowhere near enough to sell to others.

In the tiny unheated room with wooden floors where they log on, they power up their laptop to display the large number of responses they have had from other netizens.....

One woman who called herself "Shanghai girl" chastised the couple for opting out. "She told us: 'You are misleading people, you are hampering social development'."


Anyone doing the hard work of hampering social development is a brother or a sister to me ;-).


Why do you actually name yourself "jewishfarmer"?

Could it be, that you actually think, to be a "jewishfarmer" is better than to be a "cristianfarmer" or "muslimfarmer" or "Africanfarmer"?

Is it that important, to which religion you belong or to which people?

I am also a farmer, a cristian farmer if you interested in. But I would never mention that. Because believing in a religion or belonging to a certain race is totally PRIVAT. It is just not important to the public.

How come no one asks me why I'm "Ignorant"?

I can save you money on your car insurance...

I've been asked on other forums if my handle is a brand of bottled water.

Judaism is not just a personal choice of religious beliefs - it's also a kinship group. Self-identification as Jewish can be as innocuous as self-idenfication as "Okie" (native Oklahoman.) Nobody would chastise a member with the name "okiefarmer."

I don't actually think that my religious and cultural identity is private, and I don't really understand why your feeling that yours is should apply to me. I respect your feeling that your religion and racial identity (Jews are not a race, btw) are private - note, I never asked you to reveal yours, and I don't proselytize (Jews don't), but where is it written that religious and cultural identities are private, and thus it is somehow an affront (because your tone is one of affront) to use it as a monniker? For the record, I'd be fine with your calling yourself "Christianfarmer" if you so chose. After all, people here often identify themselves by their worldview, of which religious faith is one format - thus we have "doomer" "antidoomer"

Since you asked so nicely, I've actually answered the question in some detail on my blog here, so if you want, you can read the answer; http://sharonastyk.com/2008/12/01/why-jewishfarmer/ It is kind of OT for TOD, IMHO (enough acronyms?).

On the other hand, if it really troubles you I suppose I could consider changing it, and picking up on element of my identity. I wonder if "YankeeShakespeareanGeekFarmer" is taken? Or "ApocalypticDominatrixofFoodPreservation" or "BalabustaFarmGirl" (oh, wait, Jewish again..." But oh, the possibilities!


How about switching to "Kieyeinharah_farmer" ?:-)

I'm an old woodworker but still an apprentis to a Jewish Carpenter.

i think joey bishop once made a joke to the effect that he was not a jew, but jew-ish.

and on that basis, i am probably jew-ish. i have also been called zipper pockets.

That is a very interesting article.

I am not Jewish, but I, too, feel insecure in land ownership. Land is easy to take away. Heck, that was the real reason west coast Japanese-Americans were sent to internment camps. They turned land nobody wanted into fertile farmland, and suddenly, other farmers decided the land was too good for "outsiders." Even today we have "eminent domain," which is used not only to build schools and highways, but to build Wal-Marts. If food really does become scarce, I imagine farms will be prime targets for government takeover.

Land also ties you down, when I want freedom to leave if necessary.

I figure it doesn't hurt to have some property, as part of a diversified portfolio of assets. I know that most baskets will lose some eggs, but it still seems reasonable to me have eggs in many baskets. I just I wish I had more egg money.......

Land only ties you down if you're emotionally or heavily economically vested in it. Dustbowl Okies left farms that they owned in significant numbers, I'm sure. Tax foreclosure of your farm is probably a serious worry as well.

I'm sure that's what Richard Rainwater and Matt Simmons are thinking.

But for the average American, buying real estate means they'll have little money to put toward other eggs.

Maybe what we need are land-purchase co-ops. Here, you can buy suburban land for about $100K per acre in .25 to .5 acre sizes, or you can buy 20 acres for $500K. Or you can move a few miles further out and buy 160 acres for $300K.....or 640 for $2M.....or go further and get 1000 for $1M, and so forth.

If like-minded people could pool their pennies a lot more of us could get 10 or 20 acres, cutting out the middle-man and drastically cutting costs. In town, the developer gets that money, and puts in roads, sewers, fancy gatehouses, rock fences, drainage retention ponds, and so forth as needed for a city lifestyle. If you didn't want any of that and were willing to move a few miles out, gravel roads and septic systems would meet the need and drastically cut the cost.

If you bought a working farm, you could even have some shared "common area" of big barns, shared tools, and so forth. Having 10 or 20 small farms colocated would go a long way toward easing the info sharing, produce sharing, and market-cooperation aspects as well. Plus, if the county or state got uppity with eminent domain or such there are 10x the people to go sit in meetings and write letters.....not that such will always help enough.

Heck, most of could probably reproduce the house we're in now for 50c on the dollar in a low-cost rural locale, and add land and improve the energy efficiency while doing so.

Then we'd just need to convince Jewishfarmer, Wyoming, or Airdale to come teach us the ropes, and we'll start down the road to self-sufficiency.

I believe Westexas has suggested something like that.

I think it might work better with an extended family than with strangers, though. There will be liabilities, even if the property is paid for, cash on the barrelhead. As you mentioned, taxes will probably be the way governments take property, more so than eminent domain. What do you do if one of the partners doesn't pay his share - can't pay it, because he's lost his job or had unexpected medical expenses or been robbed (at gunpoint or on Wall St.)?

Once you plat and subdivide, it could be everyman for himself, but some working agreement on first-refusal buyout might make sense. Or a waiting list for new buyers?

Or at the outset it could be cash-up-front with a surplus kitty to pay taxes for so many years......

Some of us who can (for now) work from anywhere could help pile up some spare cash, too, but contribute less work into our land to begin with. Actually, I'd be willing to buy into a deal like this now, as a hobby far, as long as BAU holds out. I know it's not optimal, but it's an approach I can sell at home.

Hello Paleocon,

Not necessary to own the land: I refer you to my earlier posting series on I/O-NPK investors teaming up with a farmer to provide and store his inputs plus armed protection, if required. This can be further extended to buying farm equip, paying taxes, seeds, diesel, irrigation equip,...whatever helps provide the best harvest yield.

Remember, farmland is like an ICE-vehicle, but it is the gasoline [farming inputs] that makes its topsoil motor hum.

After WW 2 they decided to put in a massive irrigation district in the Tri Cities area of eastern Washington. Veterans were allowed first shot at homesteading 140 to 160 acres of irrigated but otherwise unimproved farm land. It was usually the third owner who made anything of it as the first two went broke in a year or two. Further as machinery improved the successful farmers were able to buy up the adjacent unsuccessful ones.

So don't just think you can go someplace and farm ... doesn't work that way. A garden, especially with a Walmart superstore nearby, is not too difficult.

Voice of experience, 3 couples buy large property, deed off seperate couple owned house lots. Own common property as tenants in common. Then the fun begins, one couple wants a barn on the common property and expects other couples to help pay for and build it. 6 people, and majority carries. What do you do when your wife votes against you? How to build roads through the woods, one couple builds an ark and burns 10 cords a year while another builds tiny house and burns 4 cords. So how do you divide labor? Or resources? You work your ass off cutting 14 cords of wood and get 4?

Great way to break up families, marriages and friendships. Pay lawyers. Be careful what you wish for. I got to be a single parent with two young boys. You see I got the job, the other folks played farmer and native. So everyone got to hang around the land and played and "got to be close". I was a little busy putting food on the table and paying bills. This is the 80's recession and "back to the land" hippie thing. Hard to work your your job knowing that one of the farmers who can't leave the land is probably doing your wife.

I met a sweet young lady with 2 girls, a few years later. Nothing untoward meant but I call her my New Young Sexy Wife. In fact that's how my oldest son introduced her to his friends when they came over. That's where it comes from. It may not come across as respectful but it is. Think Brady bunch. Best thing that ever happened for all of us, oldest son and oldest step-daughter in their 30's now have such a great friendship.

NYSW and I have been together for 15 years. It's just kind of the way we poke fun at things. The guys in my family seem to pop off around 85, so when I do it, and she's holding my hand, she will still be my new young sexy wife.

Don in Maine

Not good form to reply to your own post, but I wanted to add. The years we were just the 3 guys, shaped and formed us all. Things like laundry, food, etc. I can remember coming down from a mountain and finding youngest son cooking dinner, needed a stool to see the top of the stove. Loading wood was a joy, a team effort. Age did not seem to matter, what we did was look out for each other. Money was tight, times were tough, and probably at least once a day we all laughed. Reruns of star trek, all the moral code you ever need to know.

When the 3 young ladies arrived, it was more a share the load thing and they all did it very well. The blending was swift, and we had a whole new crew who already knew the drill. The thing you do, is support each other.

Wheew talk about nostalgia. They will all be here shortly, camped on the fouton and the floor. Lots of food, and wine. Bringing their kids for the indoctrination. I suspect someone will keep an eye out from when Grampas' beer is close to empty and show up with another one. They seem to do that lately.


Don in Maine

Funny, but I watched a similar setup-common property, tenants in common, go the same route in the 80's. Four couples, constant bickering, same general issues, don't know what finally happened to them all, but as outside observer, I marked it as something to avoid.

It's hard enough to manage a piece of land with your spouse and the government, forget throwing other couples into the mix.

Intentional communities (used in the narrower, more usual sense) apparently have a hard time staying together, too. In your case, I'm wondering if you took the egalitarian, unanimous vote route? Also, a land trust where nobody owns and everybody leases... and can be voted out?

I think one of the reasons the intentional communities fail is that they don't match reality very well. They seem to be rather cliquish and require a very high degree of harmony - which also seems to take an awful lot of work.

My thoughts are evolving on this, but right now I see a land trust with work and voting requirements, but everything else left to the individuals. Probably more akin to a transition town or relocalizing, but with some explicit behavioral expectations mixed in. The most important, and potentially one of the very few would be to live sustainably, not to screw with others, and must work... or you're gone.


It's because a lot of the people who set them up are rather idealistic and not very pragmatic. They imagine that "community" is all about everyone loving each-other. It's not. "Community" means being able to get along with people who really piss you off, and managing to get things done anyway.

What you suggest is already the norm for many (most? all?) intentional communities. Most take the Land Trust approach according to my limited research.

It is what I am trying to get people to do. Alone, my wife and I could buy enough acres for ourselves of poor ground we'd have to build up. It would likely be far from a city center and the resources/customers/jobs that might imply.

You can argue either way whether isolation would be safer than proximity, but I know I and my wife don't currently have the skills to exist without any other people/resources about over the long term. Well, unless we hope to go naked eventually and expect to never get sick, wear out our tools, need to repair our house....

Leanan, I disagree. We cannot expect all families to reform and give it a go, and there are too many families with no financial wherewithall to get started. Besides, going all the way back to the level of tribe would be a bad idea, I'd think, as it would be more likely to engender separation and conquest. A group of people with a more heterogeneous base hopefully would be more likely to have interconnections with other groups, thus, hopefully, encouraging area/regional cooperation. Also, any given family isn't likely to have the range of skills needed by a community.


ccpo, what your problem is going to be is that you are thinking to much, like you have time to plot it all out and make your choices. Think with your gut. You are smart enough. But that is not the whole thing. Ever been shot at? Ever had someone aim a gun at you?
Thanks to the US government I have, looked into those eyes, and the light behind them was mine, or theirs. I still have trouble with choices like that, but I disregard people who have never made that choice. I suspect there will come a day when I see the light and it is not mine continuing, not you for sure. I'm still here, they are not.
You expect to be safe and be able to think it through. Sometimes, in life, that does not happen. I have the way I think I'd like it to be. Going back to the tribe would be bad, show me why, the tribe had loyalty, and the thought that we support each of us, a problem with one is a problem with all.

I think there is a reality you sense but don't quite see. and you can't quite get a handle on it, that's why you are here.

"High on a feeling
Hooked on believing"
Thank you US government, but I have looked into the eyes of someone attempting to kill me. Words and thoughts at that point do not hold up to much. At that point action is pretty much all you have.

It's the border ground, you do or you don't. You exist or you don't.

Don in Main


What has all this to do with land trusts and building community? I have no idea what you are on about. Can you clarify your thinking a bit?

Am I right in thinking you believe you know what I think, how I think, what my life experiences have been, etc? Don't know... I've been in some tough situations. If you're implying I can't act for me and mine, well, that's already been proven wrong.

Strange message, Don. Again, clarification might be useful.


I am not expecting all families to give it a go.

In fact, I'll go so far as to say if all families do give it a go, all will fail. We are past the point where subsistence farming can sustain us all.

You were speaking in generalities in response to the idea of creating an intentional community, essentially. You seem to think generally we're headed for collapse, so... if not intentional communities and not families... then what?


I was talking about what I, personally, might do.

I think we're headed for collapse, but probably so slowly I won't live to see the end of it. Even if I live to be 106, like my great-grandmother.

I believe that examining the past is the best way of predicting the future. It's the best way to avoid optimism bias, exceptionalism, etc.

And looking at history...it's hard to find examples where a doomstead in the boondocks was the key to salvation. That seems to be a peculiarly American belief, perhaps a remnant of our frontier past. Even that Argentina guy did not recommend rural living.

More and more, it's looking to me like the correct model for the next decade or three is the Great Depression. Complete with environmental crisis (global warming instead of the Dust Bowl).

"I think we're headed for collapse, but probably so slowly I won't live to see the end of it. Even if I live to be 106, like my great-grandmother."

I agree, with the caveat of not knowing your age. Given 50? years and climate change, I think the conclusion is inescapable. Hard to see us turn that around. With the planet pressed to the max wrt population now, we might power down on the slow downslope, but won't mitigate climatic changes.

I think we're headed for collapse, but probably so slowly I won't live to see the end of it.

As someone in his mid-30's I think "collapse" for lack of a better term will determine my life expectancy. Given my father's medical history I have serious doubs that in another 30-35 years I'll have access to the same medical procedures that have extended his life.

I was talking about what I, personally, might do.

Ah. OK. There was nothing in the language to make that clear, so thanks for clarifying.

Collapse? You'll have to define that before we can compare notes on expectations. A simple definition might be that point at which what comes after resembles what was not much at all; a paradigm shift large enough that the primary structures change because the underlying beliefs/values no longer support what was. And all with a long or short period of chaos to come first. (I just made this up as I wrote it, so it may have lots of holes in it.)



I live on 1/4 acre in a small town. I have done some careful calculations, and IF I go all out, take out most of the trees and put most of the yard into crop production, and IF I get chickens and a dairy goat, then I figure that my wife and I could produce approximately 75% of our annual food requirements. We would mostly need to buy grains, dried legumes, feed and fodder for the livestock, and some fruit. Not everyone could do the same, but a great many could; anyone with a yard could produce at least some of their own food. Counting lawns, we easilly have enough land here in the US to produce all of our food, plus a big surplus for export - even if we have to ditch most of the high-yielding industrial agriculture.

Land also ties you down, when I want freedom to leave if necessary.

Far easier to confiscate or lose funds in a financial institution than land. There are lots of things that can tie you down such as friends, community, lifestyle, and a job. These can exert such a heavily influence as to delay a decision to leave an area when it really hit’s the fan. By that time it will be too late, and you will probably find yourself on the road, if you could get out at all, with hoards of refugees and miscreants waiting to prey on you. No thanks. I’ll make my stand on my land in which I have made preparations. If I’m wrong, I’m no worse off than the rest. This is what scares the Dickens out of me about working in Chicago, being trapped in an area where the natives go bonkers. Any indication of that happening, even a wiff of it or my sixth sense tingling (I grew up on the streets in South Chicago, you acquire this) and my job is history.

I don't trust financial institutions, either.

I guess I am lucky to trust most government institutions and the governments and institutions in our closest neighbours.

On the other hand, if it really troubles you I suppose I could consider changing it, and picking up on element of my identity. I wonder if "YankeeShakespeareanGeekFarmer" is taken? Or "ApocalypticDominatrixofFoodPreservation" or "BalabustaFarmGirl" (oh, wait, Jewish again..." But oh, the possibilities!

You go Gurl!

BTW....my vote is for "ApocalypticDominatrixofFoodPreservation" ;)


euro - Jewish doesn't necessarily signify a religion.But even if it did,so what?
People are entitled to identify themselves however they choose.
BTW - if you are going to post in English how about taking a little care with your spelling and grammar?

errr, thirra, how do you know he's NOT taking a 'little care' with his English ??

This from someone using the screen name "Euro"...

It's because being Jewish and a farmer is unusual outside Israel. People remark on things which are remarkable.

It's also because her Judaism informs her way of farming.

She has a blog which describes all these things, so that you can read and discuss instead of just whinging.

Sharon, I like your kind of "social development" over most other kinds offered at the present.

And I'm glad you did not take that post as an insult - it's clear the young couple in that article are very early on the learning curve compared to yourself.

It sounds like they are very much like many urbanites here in the Wilder-getting West.

I wonder if we have a chinese interpreter on TOD that could read her blog for us...

The new 7-1-08 US census has been released.


Using this data I did a new congressional apportionment.
Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, N Carolina, Utah each pick up one seat and Texas picks up 3.
Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, lose one seat and Ohio 2.
California will gain no new seats for the first time since it became a state.

However by 4-1-10 there may be a considerable change to state population distribution.
Due to Estimate errors and Population shift.


Census estimates point to end of Sun Belt's population boom

The housing collapse and economic crisis are dramatically transforming the population and political landscape of the nation by ending the Sun Belt boom that dominated growth for a generation, according to Census Bureau estimates released Monday.

For the first time since the early 1970s, more people left Florida for other states than moved in during the 12 months ending July 1. Nevada, among the four fastest-growing states for 23 years in a row, slipped from No. 1 to No. 8. Michigan lost people for the third straight year.

Eight states would lose a seat in the House of Representatives if reapportionment were conducted today instead of after the decennial Census in 2010, according to an analysis by Election Data Services. Five states would gain a seat and Texas would add three.If these changes had been in place in 2008, Barack Obama's margin over John McCain in the Electoral College would have been 10 votes smaller.

"Propane prices ranged Monday from $2.60 to $2.39 a gallon."

My sister just filled her 500 gallon tank Friday in Oceola Nebraska for $1.22 per gallon.

More than any other fuel, propane seems to have the most regional variation. And certainly dealer variation. I had a fill yesterday on 500 gal tank at 2.45, plus delivery surcharge for fuel, plus state sales tax. And I expect a fight, as the ticket price exceeded the phone quote by a dime. I can bring a bottle to the lumber yard and get it filled for 2.19.

The best prices for propane I've found over the years are usually at Cenex, those run on a true co-op basis. You're SOL if your local Cenex isn't co-op.

Last year I heated with strickly propane. I had two large upright bottles....say 50 pounders? I ran a ventless wall hearter off them and it cost me very dearly.

First finding someone to fill them. A farmer who did it on the side.
They didn't last very long so twice a month as I recall I had to drag them acoss the county and get them filled.

Using 20 and 30 lbs bottles are even worse. Great for fish cookers and such but for heating it just didn't work out too well.

So I use them and smaller bottles for my cooking ,if need be and the fish cooker of course which is a nice big two burner grill that I set a huge cast iron pot on..also use for canning as well.

So this year its wood only.

Right now $2.19 to fill 500 gallon tanks like I used to use in the logho

For me wood is find. I like all features of heating with wood.
The ashes, cooking and heating on the top,etc. I have access to a huge supply of downed timber else I couldn't pull it off. Both mine and neighbors timber. Mine would be entirely sufficient if I cut wisely. But to get a good hickory , seasoned and that you can split? That takes a bit of looking. And I hate to cut a live oak or any live tree for that matter.

Of late the large suppliers have gotten very legal and tricked out. You have to sign contracts and thats even if I owned my own tank , which I did. Then they want to pressure test you lodgings or won't deal with you. Then they demand 'set backs' on the property..etc,etc.

So I wrote them off.

While looking for houses in N. Virginia a few years back I was astonished how many had 500-1000 gal tanks for primary heating. I told my son that this was very bad for you were tied hand and foot to the propane prices and what if the supply got critical.

He decided wisely, to not settle in that area but moved south instead. Wise idea for those people could be in real real bad trouble heating with that. Well cooking as well I suppose in many cases.


Suppliers here getting legalese too. No matter if you own your tank, want a commitment. Days of checking cash prices between dealers in the past.

Don't see the ventless wall heaters much anymore. Dealers won't let you run a line from your tank to them anymore. Pity. Have one in the toolroom off the shop. Three ceramic plates burning 5000 btu/hr each. Vary the burn, works nice for intermittent room heat. But have to lug the bottles.

I see being tied to propane same as heating oil. Bunch of money wrapped up in a heating system, you are stuck. We're stuck anyway, esp someone like myself whose lungs seize up tighter than a drum with a whiff of woodsmoke. Can't even go to neighbors that heat with the latest pellet stoves. Ironic, in that we heated with wood for years; ripped out the wood stoves and chimneys many years back.

A pity Doug..I guessed I grew used to it and later in the Boy Scouts spent lots of long nights sitting near a campfire. Then cooking over them.

I love the smell of woodsmoke. I prefer smoked sausage,ham,bacon,,etc.

So to me its a thing I welcome and I find great comfort sitting next ,like right now, to my wood stove. I put my coffee cup on it to keep it warm. My pizza,biscuits,whatever.

And getting in the wood is good exercise. Almost every house I ever owned had a fireplace. Some I even used. Most were a waste.

But you gotta go with what you got.


doug fir, I don't know if you know the irony of your name - Douglas Fir. A predominant species here on the west coast and our rain forests. Burns well too. Sorry about your smoke affliction. Like Airdale, I love being next to a wood fire for warmth, cooking and entertainment.

As my wife and I were driving down into the bowl that is the city of Prince George and the chimneys were spewing out a forest like stream from natural gas furnaces, I asked her what do you think that would look like if those were wood fires? A toxic smog bank I'm sure.

Although we have plenty of wood here in northern BC, the population density could not use it as a fuel with the present living arrangements. To use wood, we would have to revert to the semi-rural residential density.

Just a thought...

All this brings back memories.

When i was a teenager my 'job' was to provide the wood to heat the house for the winter. It was an old farmhouse w/ woodstove. I had to cut and split 6- 7 cords of wood each fall and winter. I had a small tractor, a logging chain, a chainsaw, felling axe, sledgehammer and a selection of wedges. The family had a large woodlot and there were plenty of dead trees; usually an oak would be blown down in a storm over the summer. All this and what I could reach with the tractor up to six cords was cut. When I grew up and moved away, the woodcutting was taken over by a neighbor. He still heats with wood, cutting and splitting 6- 7 cords of wood every year.

I just finished replacing the oil burner in the house where I live with a new gas boiler. The old oil burner burned 1.25 gallons of fuel every hour. I figure the carble footprint was the size of the Queen Mary's. The new boiler is a lot more efficient; about 85% input to output, compared to the old burner's 55%. The owner wanted to try solar, but there is no real set- up available from a single source, like the boiler. Everything would have to be invented, engineered then assembled, Rube Goldberg style. Big prob with the house is no insulation. Like a lot of the houses in Northern Virginia, it was built when heating oil cost less than a quarter a gallon. It would cost over $30,000 to insulate the house, so it will probably never be done unless the government provides a large subsidy.

With insulation, solar would work. The components would have to be ordered from a lot of different sources. Panels themselves would require a steel frames built, along with the platforms and catwalks needed to perform maintainence. A large waterproof tank to provide heat storage would have to be ordered, shipped by truck then buried with a backhoe or excavator. It would have to be heavily insulated. Pumps, controls, heat exchangers, piping and distribution would have to be designed, ordered then installed. It would cost less to bulldoze the house and redesign a passive house rather than try to retrofit. A retrofit would be an interesting challenge, however ...

With insulation, the house would need around 100 gallons of 140 degree F water every hour to keep everyone warm. I used to heat a well- insulated space (R 44) with a 50 gallon gas water heater for several years (with a 55 gph recovery rate) so I have an idea of the amount of water needed ... and the amount of storage.

Anyway, enough rambling ...

Why make solar heating into such a large project?

You could replace your hot water "boiler" with a small heat storage tank and install enough light weight solar panels to make hot water and get supplemenatl heating. And add some insulation when renovating the facade and roof instead of aiming for super insulation.

The most common solar installations in Sweden are for hot water in the summer and heating in the spring and autumn or for summer pool heating. It is often combined with a wood pellet fired "boiler" wich saves a lot of wood pellets per litre of hot water since the low heat load in the summer gives large losses. Or it is used to save electricity in the summer and add heat to a too shallow ground source heat pump borehole.

The hot water tank can be combined with a small wood pellet burner or of course a oil or gas burner.

Name's not ironic, it's intentional. I'm inland, where the doug fir are being replaced by more drought tolerant species. A magnificent tree.

The added irony is that our place has several hundred acres of timber. The obvious choice for us is a wood fired boiler, but that has many drawbacks also. Not insignificantly price and durability. I guess they are getting better, but I've seen too many fireboxes burn out in 7-10 years.

The best thing about wood is independence. All the boiler systems tie you to electricity, a big problem should your pump fail or for any reason you risk freeze up of the lines. Given that you are tied to electricity anyway, I see the new air source heat pumps as the prime alternative for scarce dollars towards a heating system.

I have a brand new wood burning insert that probably produces less pollution than my 15 year old gas furnace. Well seasoned wood in an efficient stove does not pollute like the old fashioned masonry fireplaces.

Out of curiousity, I figured out why the price range is so large. The wholesale price is only 79 cents while the average retail price is 2.34 per gallon. I guess where you live and what taxes you pay is a big factor for propane.

Here is the pricing and storage information on Propane. Propane stocks have spent the year below the lower band of the five year average and these last few weeks aren't going to help.


Unlike gasoline, most propane prices I've seen do not include state or local taxes. The big factor is location. If you're in a high demand area, or close to the source, you can expect better prices, save in grain drying season, where it may be unavailable locally. That said, Northern Propane and Amerigas seem to have price multipliers no matter where you are. I understand Suburban Propane back east can have "boutique" pricing.

doug fir-
Gotta love your name.
Will propane come down now that Cushing spot is trading at $32? I am using a small electric space heater and layered clothing. No propane--too expensive, even yet.
Wish I was a doug fir, able to get through winter without a coat, at least nothing more than a coat of snow.
If oil goes to $10, does propane go down? Or are there infratsrtuctural reasons why propane is so expensive?

Shouldn't we be entering a brief period of global glut of NGL's soon as old oil fields are retired and their gas caps are blown down? I know it's not as fungible as oil, but we're on the verge of deploying a little natgas tankering capacity; So how does that translate to propane mobility?

Electric is much cheaper for me also, just this nearly month-long span of sub zero was not anticipated. With old wiring, I'm loath to plug in many space heaters. A better solution is from Paul below, biting the bullet and getting an air source heat pump. (Check his comments for the last month, alot of info.) The snow keeps piling up, the layers of clothing growing. I thank my lucky stars for insulated coveralls. Best thing since the pocket in the shirt.

I don't see propane coming down much till after heating season. But my price predictions, like for crude last summer, aren't much good. I don't see diesel at the pump falling much more either. Too much demand with both for the supply. Check the EIA graphs posted in this thread-we've been low end for awhile. Propane comes both from oil refining and from wells, back in the 70's and 80's you couldn't give it away. Then people began aggressively moving to the country, people there for years got tired of oil or farting with ashes, and farms that remained became much more capitalized, adding grain dryers. Bingo, a bunch of pretty solid demand.



Sunoco is buying at $36.50. Did not check Teppco but suspect they would be about the same. Hard to believe they be selling for $4 less than they are paying producers before bonuses and gathering costs. Wrong again?

You never did answer my question about how oil goes to $10 without a lot of current production [e.g. Canadian Tar Sands] being shut down. Also please identify a source for your 7+ million day glut.

If it's any consolation, propane is these parts is priced at $1.099/litre ($4.16 per U.S. gallon) and that's down from $1.25L earlier this summer. To that, you can add an additional $6.95 "Hazardous Mat Handling Fee" and a $14.00 "Transportation Fee". It's cheaper to burn $20.00 bills in an open fireplace than to heat with propane.

Edit #1: Someone recently told me the rack price for propane is in the range of $0.30 a litre, but I have no way of confirming this.

Edit #2: I understand a good portion of our propane originates in province, by way of the Sable Island fields. However, I have no idea how it is priced relative to Sarnia, Ontario, but a graphical representation of latter can be found on page two of the following report:




National Public Radio's www.cartalk.com has an interesting post on the need for a gasoline tax to encourage conservation, alternate energy development, and for maintaining a positive balance of trade.

See "Ray's Rant" www.cartalk.com


...urging federal investment that would be necessary to capture large amounts of electricity from space.

And we all know that space is just full of electrons moving around. All we have to do is figure out where the plug is. Or maybe "federal investment" is the plug. I think I'm beginning to understand.

I guess favoring microwaving the earth from space pretty much requires one to be a global warming denier. Otherwise, one might realize that capturing a lot of the sun's energy that was going to miss the earth and bringing it down to the earth's surface might just be a stupendously bad idea.

Well...even though this smacks of a Space Elevator scheme, I think it is erroneous to assume that we will be adding incremental heat to the biosphere. If the energy is used to displace existing fossil fuel power plants then perhaps the net sum is zero. Besides, we are unlocking millions of years of captured energy as we burn through our fossil fuel stocks.

I haven't seen the proposal, and I have always been "into" space stuff. So saying, though, I don't think such programs even come CLOSE to making sense. A LOT of fossil fuels must be burned in the atmosphere to get each pound into orbit. And look how much trouble it has been to even get a small solar panel to deploy and work on the space station, where there are full-time residents to repair things. And then there are "threshold" issues of upfront cost and a huge and ongoing commitment which would have to be made in bad economic times. And do we think other nations wouldn't take umbrage at the USA launching a fleet of microwave-shooting satellites early in an era of resource wars? Nah, won't work.

Those space power satellites would be sitting ducks for any minor space capable nation. So, the military guys would just love to "defend" them. Given all that electric power, it would be a natural location for a laser weapon. We all know how those "defensive" weapons tend to get used for offense. No city on Earth would be safe from instant incineration, once the lasers were online. Space lasers could start thousands of fires in a city within minutes, producing an instant firestorm. Not to mention the possible use against any shipping. Heck, they could be used to punish speeders on the freeway too...

E. Swanson

Holy Cow Batman,,,,,
Every time the shuttle goes up the solid fuel rocket boosters spew millions of pounds of aluminum dust into the high atmosphere and ionosphere. Some of this aluminum never comes down.
With 125 flights so far, that means there are millions of pounds of aluminum dust floating around up there blocking radio transmissions, sunlight etc.
This continuing atmospheric pollution is brought to you thanks to the primeval "explosion" technologists at JPL, NASA, and Morton Thiokol.

"Joe Six-Pack" goes along for each joyride, he throws
64,000,000 empty beer cans out the window on the way.
(32 aluminum cans per pound)
With 125 flights so far, that means there is the equivalent of
That's 8 BILLION.

A simple solution to the AGW? Blocking sunlight? Burn that coal Baby!!

NASA needs to be one of the first to Power Down.

"alumina," not "aluminum" -
Doesn't block radio tranmissions.
Wonder how fast it rains &/or precipitates out?
Surely its volume is insignificant compared to global vulcanism.

From your friend WIKI,,,

The propellant mixture in each SRB motor consists of ammonium perchlorate (oxidizer, 69.6% by weight), aluminum (fuel, 16%), iron oxide (a catalyst, 0.4%), a polymer (such as PBAN or HTPB, a binder that holds the mixture together, also acting as secondary fuel, 12.04%), and an epoxy curing agent (1.96%). This propellant is commonly referred to as Ammonium Perchlorate Composite Propellant, or simply APCP. This mixture develops a specific impulse of 242 seconds at sea level or 268 seconds in a vacuum.

The main fuel, aluminum is used because it has a reasonable specific energy density of about 31.0MJ/kg, but having a high volumetric energy density, as well as being difficult to accidentally ignite.

Power Down...

Every time the shuttle goes up the solid fuel rocket boosters spew millions of pounds of aluminum dust into the high atmosphere and ionosphere. Some of this aluminum never comes down.

If this material is in fine enough pieces it is subject to several draglike forces, which will tend to knock it out of orbit. The most obvious is atmospheric drag (there are still small amounts of air molecules left at the height of most satellites. This is actually a major issue in the lifetime of low orbit satellites -and it is not very predictable because the upper-upper-upper atmosphere density varies with solar activity. In case case small particles won't last very long at these altitudes before they reenter. On a similar note, radiation pressure from the sun produces a small drag on things in solar orbit. Dust in solar orbit will spiral in, and as a result must be of recent origin.

Of course space power satellites make no sense. IMHO such proposals only reveal massive naivette.

Don't the solid boosters fall off at a fairly low altitude anyway?

And we all know that space is just full of electrons moving around. All we have to do is figure out where the plug is.


Reminds me of one of the age-old cruise line jokes. There's almost always someone who asks the cruise director whether the ship has it's own generators.

"No... we've got this long-a$$ extension cord that we real out of the stern and wind it back in when we get to Bermuda. The big problem is on the return trip, because we always have trouble getting our adaptor into their european outlets"

An article somewhat related to the gas opec article mentioned above:

After long delays, Millennium Pipeline in service

This natural gas pipeline runs right through prime Marcellus gas territory in upstate New York State (USA).
More here:


This is good because the Marcellus gas is starting to flow. The pipeline reaches down to the ocean, so I wonder if the US will ever export this in the future?

Numbers of Oil & Gas Drilling Rigs in Operation Plummet


This is good because the Marcellus gas is starting to flow. The pipeline reaches down to the ocean, so I wonder if the US will ever export this in the future?

Export it?

Yes, export it. Why not? As the horizontal drilling technology becomes widely adopted, it will become cheaper. Renewables like wind and solar will be fighting this natural gas for market share. This may prompt natural gas producers to seek offshore buyers.

There are a lot factors at play but if an opec-style cartel were to ever restrict natural gas, the shale gas could be profitable when exported.

I can't hear it anymore... Chris Nelder and his guys with those shale plays.
They just don't get it. The shale plays are a PONZI SCHEME with output plummeting around 80% in the first 2 to 3 years. Just call B. Madoff and ask him about this "strategy".

How does rapid depletion of one well make it a "Ponzi scheme"?

Multiply by one thousand.

The rest of the problem is left as and exercise to the reader.

Not how it works, sorry.

Think of it as a beehive with thousands upon thousands of individual cells filled with honey and you're tapping them one at a time with tiny straws.

The fact that one straw efficiently drains a cell in 2-3 minutes tells you almost nothing about how long it will take to deplete the hive. Instead, you need to know how many cells there are and how many straws you can operate at a time. Double the number of straws and you double your production without any "ponzi" scheme.

Certainly it's a resource that can be depleted, but the rate that one well declines doesn't tell you anything about overall production until you know those two more important numbers. At this point, all they've done is tap a tiny percentage of cells in a handful of new hives that were formerly unreachable.

In short, natural gas from shale deposits is by no means a "ponzi scheme"... and labeling it as such is just a cop out to avoid admitting that those who thought "peak natural gas" in the US occured years ago were simply wrong. There could be a reasonable debate as to whether it is even "unconventional".

LOL your serious ?

You need to go explain to Bernard Madoff how UNG plays work I've heard he's looking for new investments.

What I can't figure out is why I'm always a bit surprised when I run into people that can't figure these things out. You would think by now I'd realize that a sucker is truly born every minute.

Sounds like your in need of a very painful lesson in how life works I'd suggest you put all your money in companies doing UNG if you really want to understand this. Given the current price of NG someone is going to make out like a bandit.

I don't normally short individual companies but if you let me know who your invested with I'll make and exception.

I used to be a CTO of a .com and I do know how to steal peoples money.
My only excuse is that it took me time to learn what I was really doing to people I drank my fair share of kool-aid at first. Ignorance is not and excuse and I will admit I did have to study the UNG game a bit to figure out the scam. Its not that they are not a scam but you gotta figure out the angle.

I'll give you one hint.


Your post was a semantic null so far as it bears on the point at hand.

Care to try again?


It was spot on. Follow the money. Ponzi schemes are financial UNG itself is just a front to lure in investors its destined to fail its only purpose is to support the ponzi scheme.

Its actually very similar to one of the most famous bubbles.


UNG plays a similar role to what slaves played in the south sea bubble.

i know what you mean by ung, but ung is also the symbol for an ng - etf.


I don't blame you.

It was spot on. Follow the money.

There wasn't anything in it to be "spot on". It broke down to "people have been conned in the past... and I have conned people in the past... therefore this is a con. Believe me."

Which is simply nonsense.

UNG itself is just a front to lure in investors

And now on the third attempt would be the time to back that up with something more than just insisting that it's true.

maybe ponzi scheme was a little to drastic, how 'bout ponzi lite. the decline of the shale gas wells is so steep that to keep the game going, the driller has to drill ever more wells, pouring ever more capital into the game. the game breaks down when the price of ng falls, as occured recently. see nate's recent post on chesapeake energy for details, very ponziesque.

How does rapid depletion of one well make it a "Ponzi scheme"?

Its only a Ponzi scheme if the calculated present value of the product (gas) is lower than the cost of investment. Of course high depletion could be exploited to fool the unwary "how would you like to buy XXmillion cubicfeet per year of production?.. and yes these wells will still be producing in ten years... (no mention at what rate). But assuming investors do their homework they should be able to value the production.

Completion technologies have been advancing. It was estimated by the USGS that Bakken oil reserves grew 25 times since 1995 due to completion technology advances, yet recent reserves were little more than 3 billion barrels. Some of this technology is creating larger returns in the shale gas plays as time passes. One Marcellus well in Pennsylvania was reported to yield 2 mcf's per day, first day, using a double frac procedure; whereas with previous procedures they got 1 mcf per day, first day.

Gee, your numbers don't seem to match the e-mail I got this week:

The U.S. Geological Service issued a report in April ('08) that only scientists and oilmen knew was coming, but man was it big. It was a revised report (hadn't been updated since '95) on how much oil was in this area of the western 2/3 of North Dakota; western South Dakota; and extreme eastern Montana .. check THIS out:

The Bakken is the largest domestic oil discovery since Alaska's Prudhoe Bay, and has the potential to eliminate all American dependence on foreign oil.
The Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates it at 503 billion barrels.
Even if just 10% of the oil is recoverable... at $107 a barrel, we're looking at a resource base worth more than $5.3 trillion.

'When I first briefed legislators on this, you could practically see their jaws hit the floor. They had no idea.' says Terry Johnson, the Montana Legislature's financial analyst.

'This sizable find is now the highest-producing onshore oil field found in the past 56 years,' reports The Pittsburgh Post Gazette. It's a formation known as the Williston Basin, but is more commonly referred to as the 'Bakken.' And it stretches from Northern Montana, through North Dakota and into Canada. For years, U.S.oil exploration has been considered a dead end. Even the 'Big Oil' companies gave up searching for major oil wells decades ago. However, a recent technological breakthrough ha s opened up the Bakken's massive reserves... and we now have access of up to 500 billion barrels. And because this is light, sweet oil, those billions of barrels will cost Americans just $16 PER BARREL!

That's enough crude to fully fuel the American economy for 41 years straight..

2. [And if THAT didn't throw you on the floor, then this next one should -
because it's from TWO YEARS AGO, people!]

U.S.Oil Discovery- Largest Reserve in the World! Stansberry Report Onli ne - 4/20/2006 Hidden 1,000 feet beneath the surface of the Rocky Mountains lies the largest untapped oil reserve in the world is more than 2 TRILLION barrels. On August 8, 2005 President Bush mandated its extraction.

They reported this stunning news: We have more oil inside our borders, than all the other proven reserves on earth. Here are the official estimates:

-8-times as much oil as Saudi Arabia
-18-times as much oil a s Iraq
-21-times as much oil as Kuwait
-22-times as much oil as Iran
-500-times as much oil as Yemen- and it's all right here in the Western
United States.

HOW can this BE? HOW can we NOT BE extracting this!? Because the
democrats,environmentalists and left wing republicans have blocked all efforts
to help America become independent of foreign oil.

James Bartis, lead researcher with the study says we've got more oil in this very compact area than the entire Middle East -more than 2 TRILLION barrels. Untapped. That's more than all the proven oil reserves of crude oil in the world today, reports The Denver Post.

Don't think 'OPEC' will drop its price - even with this find? Think again! It's all about the competitive marketplace, - it has to. [Got your attention/ire up yet? Hope so! Now, while you're thinking about it ... and hopefully P.O'd, do this:

3. Forward this to all your thinking friends. If you don't take a little time to do this, then you should stifle yourself the next time you want to complain about gas prices .. because by doing NOTHING, you've forfeited your right to complain.

Now I just wonder what would happen in this country if every one of you sent
this to every one in your address book.

(Note: Daily US consumption of crude oil is 20,000,000 barrels. IF the highest figure of 2 trillion is close how long would this last the US. Let's DOUBLE the daily use to 40,000,000 daily (due to increased demands over a period of time)
so we have 2,000,000,000,000 divided by 40,000,000 which equals 50,000 days or 137 years. So even if the reserve is only HALF of that and we double out usage, we would still have enough crude WITHIN OUR BORDERS to last us over 68 years. Surely by that time we would come up with viable alternative fuel. By the way this DOES NOT include the CNG available to us to use.) "

HOW can this BE? HOW can we NOT BE extracting this!? Because the
democrats,environmentalists and left wing republicans have blocked all efforts
to help America become independent of foreign oil.

Yeah, that's it. It's all the demo-enviro-leftie's fault. You know all the power they've had these past 8 years, they've applied to destroying America.

To the extent that anyone believes this moronic screed, they are a moron.

Me believe this? Heck no! Even if I didn't know a whit about oil, I know that any e-mail that says "send a copy to all of your friends" is a viral hoax!

But the guy who sent it along did. This shows absolutely the crap we're up against in having any kind of coherent policy. Nobody has a position of believable expert authority anymore, so people just choose to believe what they want to, rather than coming to grips with what they need to.

I didn't intend to suggest that you, Paleocon, believed this thing. BTW, your other clue to viral hoaxes is WHEN they start SAYING THINGS in ALL CAPS!. Know what I MEAN?

This is the dark side of the intartubes: anyone can just tune into an "information source" that confirms and feeds their preconceived notions.

Oh well. I guess it's the "yellow journalism" of our time. In fact, I guess t'was ever thus.


You should have put that email you received in block quotes or italics.

For I moment I thought you had gone gaga.

Re: Mexico

My next missive on net exports will be focused on remaining cumulative net export capacity. Mexico offers us a good opportunity to run some numbers. Here are the EIA net export numbers per day from 2004 to 2007, along with my estimate for 2008 and some "optimistic" numbers for subsequent years.

I have shown the remaining cumulative net export capacity, percentage wise, at the end of each year. Note that in 2004, Mexico (net) exported 0.7 Gb, and I estimate that their post-2004 cumulative net export capacity is 2.6 Gb. When I ran the ELM numbers, I noted that only 10% of post-peak production from Export Land would be exported, with 90% being consumed locally.

In any case, Mexico, actual and estimated net export numbers per day and estimated remaining post-2004 cumulative net export capacity at the end of each year:

2004: 1.9 mbpd & 100%
2005: 1.7 mbpd & 76%
2006: 1.6 mbpd & 54%
2007: 1.4 mbpd & 34%

Net Export Estimates Follow:

2008: 1.0 mbpd & 20%
2009: 0.75 mbpd & 10%
2010: 0.5 mbpd & 3%
2011: 0.25 mbpd & 0

In other words, this suggests that Mexico has already exported about two-thirds of its post-2004 cumulative net export capacity.

Looking at world data, my guesstimate is that we may have already burned through about one-fifth of remaining post-2005 conventional cumulative net export capacity worldwide.

That's a pretty steep decline, yet even you're not estimating Mexico to cease exporting next year. I don't know why Matt suggested as much, he just erodes his credibility with these far-fetched statements.

Before they cease exporting the revenue shortfall could have a dire impact on Pemex's operations, of course, possibly leading to cessation of operations ala Iran '79. Perhaps that's what's behind Matt's statement but its impossible to gauge how things will unfold with Mexico.


I wonder if Matt has inside data to support his projection. As I understand the field's production dynamics, the injected N2 gas cap is being pulled down into the producing perforations. For quit a few years some expats who have worked in the field have offered that the high withdrawal rates were prematurely coning the N2 down and depleting the pressure drive. Even if this weren't the case it would be difficult to project future decline rates without a reliable map showing the remaining producing perfs in relationship to the current N2/oil. It's easy to imagine that the sudden decrease in rate is due to the lowered N2/oil contact reaching the perfs in more wells. But subject to the relative position of the remaining wells the rate of decrease might slow (if most of the remaining perfs are much lower) or increase even quicker (if most of the remaining perfs are just below the current N2/oil level). I’m sure PEMEX has a good handle on that status: it’s a very basic reservoir engineering model. But just like the KSA they don’t appear to have much interest in sharing.

If it's the latter case the field rate could drop as fast or faster then Matt offers. I would guess that with his contacts he might have access to such details but who knows. As someone else here said, it would be nice if he offered a little more support for his projections. But if he does have an inside source perhaps he wants to avoid burning them.

Well Rockman we will call what your talking about the rock you forgot to mention the hard place.

They are having water cut problems now its documented that they have added water handling capacity and resorted to horizontal wells to reduce the water cut.

Most people don't realize that physically Cantrell is a very small field.


Now, Pemex's lack of money and technology is a handicap in managing the decline. The company didn't have any machinery on its Cantarell platforms to separate water from oil -- standard equipment for most of the rest of the industry. So when water from an underground aquifer began to creep into wells, a common occurrence in an older field, Pemex had to shut down the wells. The company closed any well where the water content rose to between 3% and 5% of the oil. By contrast, there are wells in Texas that are able to produce with 99% water.

"The water problem took us by surprise, but we are handling it," says Gustavo Hernandez, Pemex's head of planning at the field. Standing atop an oil platform in the Gulf, Mr. Hernandez says the company has overhauled platforms to handle water content of between 8% and 9% and is installing an additional water separation plant this year, allowing it to reopen more wells.

Last year, Pemex drilled its first horizontal wells at the field, something investor-owned oil companies have been using since the early 1980s. Horizontal wells bore down into a field like a traditional vertical well, but then spread out horizontally, extending for miles and allowing a single platform to suck up oil from a much larger area. Pemex plans to drill more such wells this year.

So the rock is they are sucking air and the hard place is they are sucking water.

I'd not be surprised at all to see a spectacular 70% or so decline rate for Cantarell in 2009. This is a field poised to crash. Regardless I'd suspect that Simmons assertions are based on this double jeopardy situation.

I don't agree with your comment wrt Matt's credibility, it's not far fetched, esp given the magnitude of their declines this year and potential economic/political instability. See also WT's comment below.

Does anyone have a text link to the link top posted DB several days ago, where Matt is speaking of his skepticism of demand decline estimates? I believe the link was Saturday to you tube, my speeds are too slow for you tube/video links.

I went to a Blackberry Storm and coupled it to the data plan with EVDO and I can now achieve almost 1,000kbps if used on a big down load.
I get almost subsecond response with browsing.

I pay an additional $49 or so per month and its well worth it.

If you have the tower coverage that is and you get EVDO on the towers.

I am for sure in the outback but the one tower I get two bars signal (105db) get me all the speed I need.I am capped at 5g of data and so far haven't even hit the 2g mark.

Plus the Storm is the ulitmate communications device. In fact I shoot the net just from the BB screen. Has full GPS(not triangulation) and a host of unreal com methods(sms,mms,voicemail,im,email,,,on and on) plus a nice 3.2mpixel camera. Voice dialing etc.

So I can carry my laptop anywhere and usually do a session whereever I please.

Airdale-still a GeezerGeek techie and always will be as long as some electrons are still harnessed .......sometimes I still fire up my OS/Warp2 system but mostly Linux...except this is via WinXPPro..on my ThinkPad

I don't have/won't get a cell phone. Don't have a laptop. Blackberries don't grow well here, prefer raspberries. I'm kidding, but does anyone use that old expression anymore-giving him the raspberries?

I had a satellite connection, but I can say very little for it, or rather the company. I have gone back to dialup. Part of the problem resides in our fog/storms/clouds come November, a bigger part IMHO with the provider.

I can do similar with my Palm Treo 700p, however there is no EVDO out where I am. A shame, considering how much money I dump into my cellphone plan. (I travel a lot, so it is handy when I'm out of town. However, that is about to cease, so with it may also go my data plan.)

In one of the articles linked above, Mr. Simmons states exports from Mexico will cease to exist by the end of next year. What do you make of that? It's 2 years earlier then what you say here. Is your estimate a middle case scenario?

Note that, based on the above numbers, we will have burned through four-fifths of Mexico's post-2004 cumulative export capacity by the end of this year.

There is no real difference between my guesstimate and Matt's guesstimate. I put them at 90% depleted, regarding remaining net exports at the end of 2009, Matt says 100%.

The remaining cumulative net export capacity number is very much analogous to the gas gauge in your car. The problem is filling the car back up again.

Thanks. I agree there is not much difference. It's interesting though to try to anticipate the timing of Mexico's deterioration into failed-state status.

I'm clueless btw what in your reply may cause people to down rate your comment. It's complete nonsense to do that.

Part of the reason for the difference is that I am assuming some decline in consumption, which as we have noted, would in all likelihood only slightly change the slope of the net export decline.

ah, then you are probably assuming what I am assuming. Ignore my other comment then.

Great minds think alike :)

The original ELM assumed a +2.5%/year increase in consumption, which caused net exports go to zero in 9 years. No increase in consumption caused net export to go to zero in 14 years, not a huge difference, it just somewhat changes the slope of the net export decline. It would be interesting to see what the difference is between the two scenarios regarding the percentage of post-peak production that is exported.

Westexas -
I may be mistaken, but I thought that Mexico imports some amount of refined products. If they do import, are your export numbers "net" of any refined import barrels? For that matter, do you know if Matt Simmons is using a "net" number.

Actually, when you look at a country like Iran, which I know for sure has to import a lot of refined product, are they, and others like it, analyzed on a net basis with your ELM?

You probably have discussed this in the past, so sorry for asking again.

Let's assume two countries, Production Land (PL) and Refinery Land (ReL) and let's ignore refinery gains. Each country consumes one mbpd of product.

PL produces two mbpd, but has no refining capacity. ReL has two mbpd of refining capacity, but has no production. PL exports two mbpd of crude oil to ReL. ReL exports one mbpd of product to PL.

So, on a net basis, PL has net oil exports of one mbpd (two mbpd of gross exports - one mbpd of gross imports = one mbpd of net exports). ReL has one mbpd of net imports (two mbpd of gross imports - one mbpd of gross exports = one mbpd of net imports).

I think some people have trouble understanding the ELM and think its biased towards westexas's conclusions. I may not agree with all the predictions of westexas, based on economic factors (demand decline), but I certainly see the overall point of the ELM and think it is very important to importing countries outlook for energy in the future.

The post-2004 cumulative net export numbers for Mexico are pretty stunning. Mexico exported close to half of their estimated post-2004 cumulative net export capacity in only two years, in 2005 and 2006, although the net export rate only dropped 16%, from 2004 to 2006.

I think the only thing that could skew your model is a decreasing local consumption caused by a local market decline. However, with the declines Canterall is seeing, this would probably only extend significant export (>250kpbd) out possibly another year as I don't expect consumption to halve. Any new production by the majors will probably occur at a time when local consumption will absorb most of it and leave little to none for export (as mexico probably develops its own SPR). In other words, I think we'll soon be looking farther out for our oil which will drive up oil once again (as refiners have to pay increasing transport costs)

Does the US get all of that 1.0 mbpd from Mexico?
Where will we go to make up that loss of oil?
Canada? or Saudi? or Both?
Looks like Russia is taking control of Venezuela's oil.

Venezuela's Net Oil Exports (EIA):

a combination of refiners buying spot oil and getting contracts with other producers and an increase in refined gas imports from the middle east and elsewhere will make up for this decline. Costs will increase, but I have no doubt refiners and end of line distributers will work hard to source new imports.

I listened to the interviews with Fatih Birol linked in yesterday's Drumbeat. While he does make mention of flow rates WRT tar sands, and the need to ramp up alternatives and improve efficiency, I still cannot help but wonder if anyone else has noticed that his name is an anagram of "Oil B R Faith"?

"R Faith B Oil"

Ho, ho, ho...

It's been a very interesting year this year... I've been watching everything from the North Pole. Up here, we don't need oil, or natural gas... (But we do need a lot of coal as gifts, especially this year). We use hard work to get things done, just like we have for the last 100 years. And a little magic too...

I have made a list of all the good boys and girls... Everyone here has been very good this year. I'd just like to share some of the gifts that I will be giving for the good people at TOD...

For AlanFromBigEasy, I was thinking of getting you an electric train... But, much bigger. I think it's a great idea to have electrified rail. I will electrify lines across the country...

For Westexas, I have the production data for every major oil producing country (including Saudi Arabia) for the last 40 years. I will be emailing it to you. I think it is something that will interest you very much...

For Totoneila, I have a warehouse full of fertilizer... Or as you might call it, O-NPK. I also have another warehouse full of shovels, wheelbarrows, and other farming implements... I think you will find them very handy.

For Lenan, I have the present of world peace. I know it's been a rough year for you and hope things are better next year.

For James Kunstler, I have a fleet of remote controlled bulldozers. As the sub prime mess unfolds, you can bulldoze homes in suburbia that are no longer occupied. I also hate suburbia, because there are so many houses to visit that are so far apart... It adds so much time to my trip...

For Gail the Actuary... I want to pull something out of my magic sack to make the financial problems of the world go away. I don't have any good ideas, and hope you might have some.

Professor Goose... I haven't heard from you in a while. I was going to get you that data I'm sending to Westexas... I think you might like that too.

For Citizen Anarchist, I have a giant light switch that is connected to every power plant on earth. If you want to 'power down', all you have to do is flip the switch.

For the_antidoomer, I will be spiking the world with Valium and Prozac so everyone can see the bright side of life.

For airdale... Compressed air.

For Geckolizard... I got that car you always wanted... The Geo Metro that has a donkey pulling it. I agree that it is the car of the future... I have reindeer pulling a sleigh, and it has worked for me for a very long time.

Now, not every boy and girl has been good this year... The following boys and girls will be getting a lump of coal:

Ben Bernanke
Hank Paulson
The congress people who legalized accounting changes many years ago which caused the sub prime mortgage mess
The entire management of Lehman Brothers
Anyone who owns a Hummer
Mortgage Brokers
The CEOs of Ford, GM, and Chrysler (even though they got their gift early from Washington)
Every congressperson who voted for the bailout in October

Also- If any of you boys and girls think I need to add to or update my list, please let me know... I only have 24 hours before I make my sleigh run!

And Merry Christmas to all of you!!!!

P.S. I know that you are all concerned about global warming, and the Arctic Ocean becoming ice free. I know all the good boys and girls of the world would be so sad if the ice below my workshop and elves were to melt, and we all fall into the Arctic Ocean. We do have a plan to move to Svalbard Islands, a short trip from my current home. We'll help watch over the seed bank there too... And even if there is sea level rise, our workshop should be safe and sound.

Forget coal... I have lumps of other stuff for some of those folks.

Add Bush and Palin to this list...

Denninger today points out a site that is threatening bankers.

And here I thought it was going to be the oil company CEOs who got the pitchforks and torches treatment...

Vigilantism is a phenomenon that grows when existing justice systems fail to do their jobs. I think it is obvious that the system of checks and balances that should prevent trans-legal excess in the banking world failed, and that Congress has little desire to rectify the situation or hunt down the guilty inside and outside of Gov't.

Maybe pitchforks and torches it will be. If gov't won't govern, then it can, should, and will eventually fail. Before that point, how can individuals make a difference? I think many (most?) would prefer a "we all fail together" versus "you win by cheating, I lose by playing fair" scenario. I'm just not sure how individuals can make that happen. Maybe by pulling out their assets in cash to the extent possible, ceasing to spend, and halting the flow of money? It's hard to envision an outcome that doesn't hurt the middle-class individual more than the bureaucrats, wealthy, and crooked.

Unrelated, but perhaps similar will happen if the Obama Administration does not investigate and prosecute those that are (allegedly) guilty of War Crimes.

Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, perhaps even W?

Making a list and checking it twice...who's been naughty

A Truth Commission does not do it for me.


above all investigate and prosecute W! It usta be called

& watch out for the presidential pardons that are,
(almost surely) coming!

Q: Can shrub pardon himself?

Looks like a pretty boring list. Only one is even actually in jail.

I get a kick out of the one that's just some Navy guy who missed his ship 60 years ago.

Bush pardons Satan

"Hey, Nobody's perfect"- US CEO quips

Random Acts of Roadway Violence in Dallas

Some guy in a pickup (what else would he be driving?) took shots at four cars and trucks last night, wounding one person and killing two people.

Make that "...are perceived to fail to do their jobs." US history provides several examples of periods and places where the justice system was performing in exactly the way that the majority of the people and their elected representative intended, but a violent minority disagreed.

The are perceived applies now as well. I'd suggest the "justice" system is serving its masters quite well right now.

Sorry to say, but the time for "humble discourse", is rapidly coming to an end. The big O needs to come out swinging, not just appoint figureheads in a BAU situation. Not much time to put out the fires of revolution, before they burn too bright.

In regards to washington and wall street, almost to a person, in daily contact with a wide range of opinions, I hear, "off with their heads". In more ways than one.

I hope he has the B@LLS.

Power Down.

The Big O is losing sleep over the transition of the USA to Mexico supersized. Robert Rubin, Summers and Geithner are heartbroken.

Here's the article detailing the IndyMac fraud to which denninger refers.

Irregularity is Uncovered at IndyMac Bank

WASHINGTON — Two months before IndyMac Bancorp collapsed in July, at a cost of $8.9 billion to taxpayers, a top federal banking regulator allowed the bank to backdate a capital infusion and gloss over its deepening problems, the Treasury Department’s independent investigator said Monday.

In what industry analysts said was an example of the excessively cozy relations between high-flying subprime lenders and federal bank regulators, the Office of Thrift Supervision’s West Coast director allowed IndyMac’s parent company to backdate an $18 million contribution to preserve its status as a “well-capitalized” institution.

Using Speed Cameras To Send Tickets To Your Enemies

High school students in Maryland are using speed cameras to get back at their perceived enemies, and even teachers. The students duplicate the victim's license plate on glossy paper using a laser printer, tape it over their own plate, then speed past a newly installed speed camera. The victim gets a $40 ticket in the mail days later, without any humans ever having been involved in the ticketing process. A blog dedicated to driving and politics adds that a similar, if darker, practice has taken hold in England, where bad guys cruise the streets looking for a car similar to their own. They then duplicate its plates in a more durable form, and thereafter drive around with little fear of trouble from the police.

Anyone got any license plates of Wall Street Execs, BIG 3 CEO's, Bush Administration Staff, etc..??


All the while disputing tickets produced in such a manner is quite difficult, and likely not "worth it," also while the politicians and police still maintain that the burden of proof is on the DRIVER instead of the police. You must prove it wasn't you, instead of them proving that it indeed WAS you. However, people don't fight it.

Iron Pyrite would be a more appropriate gift than coal for those on the naughty list. . .

You are giving valuable BTus to these people? How about Americium - it would do a better job.

Seasons Greetings to all the Good Folks at TOD!

Santa, do you really think that giving the bad guys lumps of coal is punishment?
Maybe you should give them little solar panels with a couple of LEDs instead...

A bit OT but a rather interesting group of Images.

Oil Barrels, 2008
Depicts 28,000 42-gallon barrels, the amount of of oil consumed in the United States every two minutes (equal to the flow of a medium-sized river).

Running the Numbers
An American Self-Portrait
Chris Jordan


Mele Kalikimaka to you Santy.

Swift journey and may the snow be always in your face.
I was hoping for a oxygen bottle for my gas welding rig.
Or a new blacksmith forge.


Dear Santa,

I would like 1.5kw in Evergreen Solar panels, a Xantrex MPPT solar charger capable of charging at 48v, and 8 Rolls Royce 6v batteries with at least 110 amp hour rating on each.

Oh yeah, and those gun parts I have on 3 month backorder, if I can get them before January 20th, that would be absolutely awesome.


For Westexas, I have the production data for every major oil producing country (including Saudi Arabia) for the last 40 years

I don't mean to seem ungrateful, but could I trade the data for a one percent overriding royalty interest in said production?

The World Bank sure seems to have a crack smoking problem when it comes to Russia. First it spreads some hysterics about the collapse of the ruble and then it wants the Central Bank not to moderate its fall. The Russian Central Bank is doing its job right. It has been keeping the value of the ruble low in the last 10 years to protect domestic industry and it is not allowing a shock devaluation to prevent defaults on foreign debts (private and public). In case the crackheads at the World Bank have not noticed, Russia allocated $320 billion US over the last two months to prop up its banking and industrial sectors. Do these clowns really think it has spent roughly $80 billion of its reserves only on propping up the currency.

Home prices plunge as sales slow sharply

Sales of existing homes fell 8.6 percent, far more than expected, to an annual rate of 4.49 million in November, from a downwardly revised pace of 4.91 million in October. The median sales price fell 13.2 percent — the largest amount on record — to $181,300, from $208,000 a year ago.

That was the lowest price since February 2004 and the biggest year-over-year drop on records going back to 1968. The drop in home prices was probably the largest since the Great Depression, NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun told reporters.

far more than expected by whom?
I'd like to know who these people are who are still "bargain hunting" in Detroit and Las Vegas.

I spoke with someone at a eatery recently who said he was buying property in Detroit as an investment. Said that we're just in another cycle and that prices will eventually go back up. I questioned his expectations. He said prices always recover.

Odd, because a few minutes earlier, he was complaining that he didn't have the money for the weekly family night out since the economy started to sink.


As noted in Chris Martenson's Crash Course, the flawed thought process for investments into bubbles revolves around the premise that, "It'll be different THIS TIME."

Interesting way of putting it (and true).

It also describes the most fervent peak oil advocates though.

Doesn't mean it won't be different this time... but so far it hasn't been.

from Petrocanada transcript
"Moving to upstream production, we expect production for this year to end up near the high end of our guidance of 400,000 to 420,000 barrels a day which is a great outcome in the $100 plus per barrel world that we enjoyed. For 2009, we expect volumes to be down 9% to 10%. This lower guidance is due to lower natural declines and shutdowns in our international and offshore business."

Haha. have you kissed low oil prices goodbye yet?

Huge water main break traps drivers near D.C.

The Washington Suburban Sanitation Commission has warned its system is aging, overtaxed and underfunded. It serves 1.8 million suburban Maryland customers and has had an increasing number of water main breaks, including 1,357 between January and November this year. Last year, it had a record 2,129 breaks or leaks.

White said the pipe that broke Tuesday was installed in 1964.

"We're plagued by old pipes," White said. "Throughout the nation, aging infrastructure is a problem."

That's where our public works projects will be. Digging up old pipes and replacing them, replacing bridges that are falling apart, and replacing aging electrical infrastructure.

1964 is not old for a water main. A good quality water main laid now could easily last 150 years and more. Up to the 1930s could be considered an old water main (and there are more than a few pre-1900 water mains around the world). Something laid in the 1960s shouldn't be failing like just because of old age. More likely something particular has gone wrong at that location.

While it's true that actual pipes can last longer than their rated life span, there is a lot of old pipe and ruptures are increasing in frequency. Also, statistically we're approaching the end of the lifespan of several group of pipe installations.

There is a large range in the type and age of the pipes that make up American water distribution systems, depending on the population and economic booms of the previous century. For many cities, the periods of greatest population growth and urban expansion were during the late 1800s, around World War I, during the 1920s, and post-World War II. The water pipes installed during these growth periods differ in their manufacture, materials, and life span. The oldest cast iron pipes from the late 19th century are typically described as having an average useful lifespan of about 120 years because of the pipe wall thickness (AWWA, 2001; AWWSC, 2002). In the 1920s the manufacture of iron pipes changed to improve pipe strength, but the changes also produced a thinner wall. These pipes have an average life of about 100 years. Pipe manufacturing continued to evolve in the 1950s and 1960s with the introduction of ductile iron pipe that is stronger than cast iron and more resistant to corrosion. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipes were introduced in the 1970s and high-density polyethylene in the 1990s. Both of these are very resistant to corrosion but they do not have the strength of ductile iron. Post-World War II pipes tend to have an average life of 75 years (AWWA, 2001; AWWSC, 2002).

Public Water Supply Distribution Systems: Assessing and Reducing Risks -- First Report (2006)

Madoff Fund Operator De La Villehuchet Found Dead in New York.

It seems that suicides are booming in the international finance mafia these days.

Excellent drum beat today...

Mexico out of export oil end 09...as predicted

Sun belt boom comes to screaching halt because of mortage meltdown...as predicted

Infrastructure projects canned...as predicted

Bankers about to get picthforked...as predicted.

A merry xmas to all if you believe in that happy horse shit.

I work for a european company so will be off during the "winter break".


As usual the bankers budgeted for big bonuses for themselves; as the board of directors looked for their own perks. Might be hard to refi those 5 yr. interest only notes (like the balloon notes of the Great Depression) as credit restrictions have tightened and property values deflated. The last time housing prices fell this much in a year was the Great Depression. I think the NASDAQ crash was indicative of the gambling mentality of a nation and was a portent of things to come; although PE levels were not as high going into this recession, they rise with lowered earnings reports.

People had not known hard times in so long they had negative savings rates. Household debt is almost 100% of GDP. In the 1950's it was about 20% of GDP. It is hard to start saving the day the employer lays off part of the work force.

Household Debt to GDP Chart

Doctor Allegedly Used Body Fat As Fuel

A Beverly Hills surgeon used body fat taken from his patients during liposuction to fuel two SUVs, according to a report on Forbes.com.

The site said Dr. Craig Alan Bittner turned the fat into biodiesel, which is more commonly made from vegetable oils, though analysts said about half of the U.S. supply comes from beef or pig byproducts.

"The vast majority of my patients request that I use their fat for fuel -- and I have more fat than I can use," Bittner wrote on his Web site, Forbes said. The site was not functional Tuesday morning. "Not only do they get to lose their love handles or chubby belly but they get to take part in saving the Earth."

At least now I know what to do with those holiday pounds...

That's too funny, even by Hollywood standards.

Paul "nah, that's just the reserve fuel tank for my Jeep Grand Cheroke"

When peak oil bites we'll start running our SUVs on soylent green.

The term "Soylent Sour" has already been coined here. Lotsa sulfur in the cysteine component.

I think it would be a good idea to have the editors at the oil drum interview Matt Simmonds. He is often quoted here in the drumbeat talking with various groups and journalists but he rarely goes into the level of detail that he could do here. The drumbeat often ends up speculating about what did he mean by a particular comment. I would like to hear from him what he knows about Saudi Arabia and how he knows it and also have him challenged on some of the more out-there claims he makes. How about a roundtable with some of our experts and Matt? I think it would be great.

James Williams, of WTRG, is also a terrific, "centrist" analysts. He is quoted on Marketwatch. Here:
"Today's market reaction is you (OPEC) said you're going to cut [production], but we really don't believe you," said James Williams, an economist at energy research firm WTRG Economics.
"OPEC has a compliance issue," Williams said. "Also, we are looking forward to the low spring demand season in a few months and even if they [OPEC] cut a full 2.2 million barrels, it is not going to be enough to balance the market by then."
Between $25 and $30 a barrel is probably as low as oil prices could go unless the economic situations gets "much, much worse," Williams said.
"Could it [oil] drop to $10? Yes, but it wouldn't stay there for long, because at $10 per barrel, OPEC will get discipline," he said.


Who would interview Matt Simmonds Westexas & Rockman?

I would love to see this. So many of Matt's interviews are with Jim Pulavpa? sp. radio show, not text save soundbite interviews with the major media. He commented on the "sleuthing" being done on the OilDrum after Stuart, Fractional Flow, Euan and others did the series on Ghawar.

Euan, fractionalflow, ace, joulesburn, others, maybe even get Stuart back for a day, on a followup for Saudi, with a leg on world demand. Great Christmas gift.

Hello TODers,

I consider this a welcome development:

Fertilizer Buddy

Prairie farmers can compare fertilizer prices on a new blog.

It was set up by well known market analyst Larry Weber with Weber Commodities in Saskatoon. He hopes the blog will be similar to those that monitor gas prices across the country. Growers can post prices from their own region.

..There is also a survey question asking farmers how much of their 2009-2010 fertilizer they have purchased to date. With over 450 responses as of late Monday afternoon, 56 percent have indicated it is 25 percent or less. In a normal year, most farmers would have the majority of their fertilizer needs in place.
Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Hello Leanan,

Happy Holidays to you & all TODers, and thxs for the DB toplink: 'Global land grab' causing alarm among NGOs. Similarly, this is a pretty good roundup on fertilizer & land:

Understanding global agriculture a must

..Speaking at the recent National Fertilizer Institute’s Fertilizer Industry Round Table (FIRT), Doug Stone, a marketing manager for Terra Industries, says he expects nitrogen use in the U.S. to be up slightly, maybe 0.5 percent over 2008 levels. Price, he says, will be significantly affected by how well suppliers are able to liquidate supplies bought at last summer’s high prices.

Jeff Holzman, with Potash Corporation, says potash use will likely be down in the fall and up slightly in the spring, again in response to suppliers liquidating high cost inventory.

Andy Jung, with CRU International, says phosphate use will likely be down 1 percent to 2 percent in 2009. Jung agrees that price will be directly affected by how well suppliers are able to liquidate high cost inventory...

..The entire continent of Africa uses only three percent of the world’s fertilizer supply annually. By comparison the U.S. and Canada use 14 percent and Asia uses 57 percent. In most African countries soil fertility is going down, despite worldwide efforts to reverse that trend.

While Africa may look like a non-player in global agriculture, it should be remembered that the entire continent is over 75 percent rural, and it’s huge — big enough for China, India, the United States and Western Europe to fit inside its borders...

The USA Today article about the Ford Fusion Hybrid misleadingly says:

"The Ford Fusion hybrid will be the most fuel-efficient midsize sedan on the market when it arrives this spring....That will make it the second-most fuel-efficient vehicle on the road, according to a ranking published on the EPA's website, behind the smaller Toyota Prius..."

That seems to imply the Prius isn't a mid-sized car, but the EPA classifies it as a midsize, the same as the Fusion Hybrid. However, the USA Today's statement is still technically correct, because the Fusion Hybrid will be the most fuel efficient midsized sedan, since the Prius, while it gets better gas mileage and is also midsized, is a hatchback, not a sedan.

What about the Camry and Accord hybrids? Isn't the Camry at about the same mileage?

Camry hybrid gets 34 city driving. Ford says the Fusion will get 41, and up to 47. Accord hybrid had a V6 ICE engine and didn't do too well in MPG's, but it was fast.

I'm looking forward to the Fusion hybrid if the numbers turn out to be real. If the driving dynamics are close to the same as the ICE only model Fusion it will be a much more fun driving experience than the Prius.

Implementing the Pickens Plan

The idea is not new that commodity X can be used for purpose A but not purpose B. Alcohol cannot be sold to minors. I understand the Brits have a system of red diesel and green diesel with whichever is used in farm tractors paying a lower fuel tax. Pickens says that we should use renewable electricity as much as possible in lieu of both direct NG (heating, cooking) and NG fired electricity. I'm not sure if prohibitions and taxes will achieve that but maybe some kind of capacity credit ie whenever there's wind blowing it should be used preferentially. Oil will go from $40 to $200 and in a recession even bailout-subsidised PHEVs won't sell. I think the new Energy Secretary should comment on the the Pickens Plan and if it's no good why not.

Court Reinstates Clean-Air Rule

A federal appeals court in Washington reversed itself Tuesday and temporarily reinstated a Bush administration plan to cut pollution from coal-fired power plants.

In July, the court had struck down the rule, saying the Environmental Protection Agency had exceeded its authority in designing a new emissions-trading system to reduce this pollution, and must rewrite the rule to fix its “fatal flaws.” But in Tuesday’s decision, the court said that having a flawed rule temporarily in place was better than having no rule at all. The agency must still revise the rule, but has no deadline for doing so.


I see you are here today. I heard this on the BBC World News last night and immediately thought of you because you often talk about how we are evolved to be in the dark at night. Seems like what they are doing here is a good compromise!

Dial4light - Street lights can be switched on by cell phone
The town of Lemgo in Northwestern Germany has found a new way for saving energy. In Lemgo they switch off the street lights at 11 pm. But people can switch them on again for 15 minutes by sending an SMS to the public utility company. They are charged 50 cents for 15 minutes of light. Technically this project is rather simple: In the control boxes there are modems installed . If anybody sends an SMS to the public utility company, the signal will be forwarded to the control boxes and the lights will turn on. In the street lights are used modern bulbs that start lighting very quickly and use little electricity. At the moment this project is tested on a route of 2 kilometres, but they are already planning to extend it into the whole city. Many other cities in Germany have already started negotiating with the town of Lemgo which has filed a patent on this idea.

Hello WaterWeasel,

Thxs for the info, but this seems too complex and expensive compared to just grabbing a flashlight to illuminate the walking path ahead, or just using a small, rechargeable area spotlamp for a person who needs to work in one spot outside for a limited time after 11 pm.

complex and expensive compared to just grabbing a flashlight

Yeah, but I thought it was a nice step in the right direction, nonetheless. Eventually we will probably have to do what you say, but in the meantime, just think of all the energy we would save if every city turned the lights off at 2300. Immense low hanging fruit.

I was curious why one needs a cell phone to turn them on, rather than a button on the light pole. I guess that's how they charge you the 50 cents. Maybe coin operated? (I don't have a cell phone - but I'm pretty comfortable in the dark too ;)

Hi WW,

One advantage is that you won't have to fumble for the correct change in the dark. :-)

The key benefits are likely to be greater revenue potential (there's a "coolness" factor that should appeal to younger individuals who are more likely to be out and about after 23h00 and the "I'll-take-it-now-and-pay-you-later" approach might further increase usage), lower capital cost (no additional hardware to install, service and maintain), reduced overhead (no coin collection required), no risk of vandalism and no opportunity for this money to be stolen through physical means.


Excellent points.

The more I think about it, the more I agree with Toto that we really need to get over this "turn the night into day" thing.

With my job I camp out maybe 100 nights a year, and I have the obligatory headlamp, but I find that I rarely use it. It never really gets totally dark. A full moon is almost as good as daylight and starlight isn't that bad, even under the canopy, once your eyes adjust.

I have no trouble making camp, making dinner, playing my guitar, toilet, bedding down, without artificial light. 'Bout the only reason for it is to read or play cards. It does give true meaning to the phrase "a dark and stormy night" though.

Unfortunately, the rub as I see it, is that in town, light is a good way to deter crime, which might be pretty important in the scheme of things.

Not quite sure how to fix that part...

Philip's CosmoPolis low-wattage ceramic metal halide lamps in combination with their Xtreme LumiStep control gear is another good option. In this case, street lights are not turned off at a pre-set time, but dimmed to 60 or 75 per cent of normal output and operated at this reduced setting for up to ten hours. This might be a more appropriate choice where public safety and/or liability concerns must be balanced with increased cost/energy savings.

See: http://www.lighting.philips.com/gr_el/applications/urban/pdf/cosmopolis%...

See also: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7C-E3IY2_c


in combination with their Xtreme LumiStep control gear is another good option. In this case, street lights are not turned off at a pre-set time, but dimmed to 60 or 75 per cent of normal output and operated at this reduced setting for up to ten hours.

This could be an interesting option. I've been thinking of proposing a "turn off half of street lights, after midnight" sort of thing. I suspect turn off 90% of them all the time, which I would prefer just wouldn't fly with our childlike "scared of the dark" species. But a dimmer switch, might not even be noticed by a public that seems to equate goodness, and light(ing).

Hi EoS,

Most NA municipalities require that their roadway lighting systems conform to ANSI standards/IESNA Recommended Practices (RP-8-00). These guidelines take into consideration a number of factors such as lamp lumen depreciation, luminaire dirt depreciation, surface reflectance, vehicular speed and volume, the presence of pedestrians as well as the points at which vehicles and pedestrians interact (i.e., intersections and cross walks), and so on; not surprisingly, these guidelines place particular emphasis on public safety and, all things said, that's not a bad thing. This is an area where new technologies and techniques are thoroughly vetted, so progress can be exasperatingly slow but, then again, this is not the place where you want to learn by your mistakes.

Update: This report might be of interest to you: http://www.amo.on.ca/AM/Template.cfm?Section=About_Us1&TEMPLATE=/CM/Cont...


Hello HereinHalifax,

"liability concerns": I am waiting for a postPeak lawyer to sue the Sun for dipping below the horizon, thus directly causing his client to trip and injure himself. The jury, equally insane, will probably award the 'victim' a huge pile of PV panels to punitively punish the Sun [with the lawyer skimming off 25%; sufficient to PV-electrify his McMansion].

Hence the first we kill the lawyers edict that begins all revolutions. ;-)


Hello TODers,

Is More-rock-oh, OCP & the Phosphate Group getting ready to flex their incredible muscle even more successfully than OPEC did in the '70s Energy Crunch?

Phosphate market set to remain tight
PURE SPECULATION: Robin Bromby | December 22, 2008

KING Mohammed VI of Morocco, it was reported recently, is the fifth wealthiest royal in the world with his personal $US1.5 billion fortune based largely on selling phosphate, of which his country is the world's largest producer.

He -- and Morocco -- plan to remain the Saudi Arabia of phosphate. The North African state is apparently refusing to budge from its asking price of $US400 a tonne of phosphate rock.

Rock has gone from $US200/t this time last year to $US400 in March; $US500 in June. There have been reports that Jordan has been selling at $US350/t but, if the Moroccans stick to their guns, the market will be tight.

In the short term this might not matter, as the world in recent months has been under-fertilising. The cost of fertilisers, along with the inability of farmers (in the US particularly) to get loans to buy this product, has resulted in big cuts to applications on farm land.

This will, inevitably, affect crop yields and already bodies such as the Food & Agricultural Organisation are warning of increased famine around the world...
This is not good news if you recall that the UN FAO is projecting that North America is heading into a giant phosphate deficit [see my earlier Peakoil Analysis postings on the FAO Fert. Forecast 2008-2012].

On the other hand: this is good news IF it economically forces the First World to quickly ramp towards full-on O-NPK recycling and minimal water usage strategies.

Remember, it is not the size of the reserves, but the flowrate. Even a giant 50 ton whale doesn't last long if a small harpoon pierces its heart.

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


I thought there was request for photos of houses with gaudy Christmas displays to be posted over Christmas. Then I thought you said, wait, over Christmas isn't good - bring 'em on now! But I haven't seen any yet.

Is it possible we didn't receive any??

Oppologies if I'm looking in the wrong place.

PS. I don't know how you do it, but I really appreciate it. Happy Holidays!

So far as I know, nobody posted any.

I thought about going out to photograph the house down the road that has a huge, fake palm tree decorated with lights in front of it, but with over a foot of snow on the ground, I decided it wouldn't be safe. At least, not at night, when the lights would be on.

OK. Cool. Thanks for getting back to me.

(Had to read your post thrice because of the palm tree. I thought you were in upstate New York, or some such. Then I caught the fake part. Of course, if you ARE in NY, I think your neighbors are wackadoo.)

I thought about going out to photograph the house down the road that has a huge, fake palm tree decorated with lights in front of it, but with over a foot of snow on the ground, I decided it wouldn't be safe.

Don't bother. You can watch them all on the internets. Just sample:



I think that this Steve LeVine drongo is speaking too soon in saying that Russia is in trouble. For one thing, he lacks perspective,

"Simply put, Russia is in trouble. Its much-ballyhooed $600 billion cash reserve base dropped by a quarter by Dec. 1, to about $450 billion, and even further since."

At least they have cash reserves, rather than having to borrow funds to do their spending. However, their deficit may return to a surplus soon.

Putin says "cheap gas" era ending

Mr Putin said the cost of extracting gas was rising sharply, therefore "the era of cheap energy resources, of cheap gas, is of course coming to an end".

The Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) meeting in Moscow has agreed a charter and plans for a permanent base. [...]

The countries attending are Algeria, Bolivia, Brunei, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Libya, Malaysia, Nigeria, Qatar, Russia, Trinidad and Tobago, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela. Equatorial Guinea and Norway are attending as observers. [...]

Officials at the meeting stressed they were not trying to set up a price-fixing cartel. [...]

Ukraine row
At the moment Russia remains locked in a dispute with Ukraine over non-payment of debts.

Russia's Gazprom says Ukraine owes it $2bn (£1.4bn) and has warned it may cut off gas supplies next month if the dispute remains unresolved.

On Monday, Gazprom said it had warned European customers about possible disruption linked to the Ukraine dispute.

"It is not ruled out that the current position of the Ukrainian side and some of its actions could lead to disruptions in the stability of gas supplies to Europe," Gazprom Chairman and First Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov said in a statement.

A similar dispute three years ago saw Russia briefly cutting gas deliveries to its neighbour, action that also affected supplies to several western European countries.


(1) Russia's income from oil drops
(2) Russia speaks of the possibility that gas will become more expensive
(3) Ukraine is behind on its gas bills, and so Russia may cut their gas off, which - oh no! would cut off a good chunk of Europe, too

They don't need an official price-fixing cartel with that happening. The EU will pay Ukraine's gas bill, and generously offer them higher prices in the next round of gas contracts.

Putin and Medvedev following their checkmate of the West in the Caucasus where the EU was trying to diversify its oil and gas supplies, now want the EU to pay up.

Steve LeVine posts here sometimes. He is the author of The Oil and the Glory: The Pursuit of Empire and Fortune on the Caspian Sea . He is peak oil aware, and is especially interested in oil, politics, and Russia.

I think he is well aware of the points you raise. I'm sure he's taken them into account.

But from everything he has posted and his writings he is clearly of the school of thought that Russia is evil.

Anyone that subscribes to the theory that Russia's economy is a pure banana republic variant with sole dependence on fossil fuel exports is an ignoramus. There is a lot of anti-Russian propaganda coming from all quarters in the west including the World Bank which was headed by russophobe and neocon slime Wolfowitz. This propaganda is transparent to anyone that actually knows something about Russia's economic development over the last 20 years.

For example the claim that oil at less than $30 dollars per barrel will bring ruin and devastation to Russia. I want to see these writers and "experts" explain the 1999 through 2004 economic growth in Russia when oil prices averaged less than $25 dollars per barrel and Russia was practically giving its natural gas away for free.

A very large proportion of imports into Russia in the last eight years has been machinery and not just consumer goods. Russia actually has an industrial sector which hasn't been outsourced to the third world. I have read in the Russian language media that there is already a decline in foreign consumer goods imports which are being substituted with domestic production. Just like in the wake of the 1998 meltdown.

Levine goes on about how Putin is allowing the value of the ruble to drop instead of propping it up with every last penny of reserves. Well, duh, that is the correct fiscal policy. Russia does not depend on a high ruble and in fact its industry gets boosted by a low ruble. The Central Bank has been slowing the ruble decline to prevent foreign loan defaults and has been doing a great job so far.

Deripaska highlights the cause of the current economic problem in Russia: dependence on cheap foreign loans. But the volume of these loans, private and public, is less than $500 billion US and the Russian government, which has nearly $700 billion *crrently* in reserves and two wealth funds, has already put up $320 billion of its own money in refinancing. Russian banks are stepping in to finance the real sector which means a boost to the domestic banking industry.

I find it interesting that you post every hack attack on Russia but never posted Putin's "threat" to scrap Nord Stream and build an LNG terminal instead (i.e. Europe is no longer guaranteed to get the gas). Levine thinks that Russia can't live without and can't afford Nord Stream and South Stream because he is wallowing in wishful thinking. Does he think Russian gas will flow through Nabucco?

Sounds like Levine supports Saakashvili's midnight attack on Ossetian civlians with artillery and MLRS bombardment, making him yet another establishment mouthpiece toeing the party line.