DrumBeat: January 1, 2009

Blackout fear for EU as gas row escalates

Jose Manuel Barroso, the European Commission president, called on Moscow and Kiev to solve the dispute as soon as possible. While Gazprom, the Russian energy giant, says it will continue pumping gas to European customers through Ukrainian territory, there are fears that Germany, Italy and other customers could eventually be hit if the dispute escalates. Two years ago, when Moscow cut supplies to Ukraine in a similar dispute, several EU countries experienced gas shortages after Ukraine tapped into the pipelines.

Washington responded to yesterday's shutdown by warning Russia that a "predictable" energy flow to Ukraine was essential. Urging Moscow to restore supplies, a White House spokesman said Russia should bear in mind "the humanitarian implications" of its action. "The parties should be resolving their differences through good-faith negotiations, without supply cutoffs," Gordon Johndroe said.

ANALYSIS: Pressures of obtaining energy

Another new year and another arm-wrestle between Moscow and Kiev over gas supplies. Utility bosses in Europe and Ukraine learnt lessons in January 2006 when Gazprom first turned off the tap, causing panic as pipeline pressure dropped in Europe. This time storage tanks are full, but we should not dismiss the confrontation as yet another example of Kremlin insecurity.

Russian gas row may cost UK customers

Hopes of deep cuts in heating bills for British homes before the winter is out were evaporating yesterday after Russia turned off the gas supply to neighbouring Ukraine over alleged payment arrears, raising concern about the security of supplies throughout Europe.

Cheaper oil is already fuelling the next spike

Citi analysts stress that they remain "bullish" in the long term, and point out that the lower prices will contribute to the next spike. The reason is simple - poorer returns mean that there will be less investment in bringing new supplies on stream, which will ultimately mean that demand will once again reach a point where it is outstripping supply.

Venezuela's oil income soars in early 2008

CARACAS, Venezuela – Record prices boosted Venezuela's oil income by 225 percent in the first nine months of 2008, allowing the state-run oil company to stash $10.8 billion in government reserves now that oil prices have dropped dramatically.

Panel wants fuel taxes hiked to fund highways

WASHINGTON -- A 50 percent increase in gasoline and diesel fuel taxes is being urged by a federal commission to finance highway construction and repair until the government devises another way for motorists to pay for using public roads.

The National Commission on Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing, a 15-member panel created by Congress, is the second group in a year to call for higher fuel taxes.

With motorists driving less and buying less fuel, the current 18.4 cents a gallon gas tax and 24.4 cents a gallon diesel tax fail to raise enough to keep pace with the cost of road, bridge and transit programs.

Green revolution stalls on cheap oil

Low oil prices and the credit crunch are threatening to stall the green revolution. The value of crude has dropped from a summer high of nearly $150 a barrel to below $40, taking the wind out of the sails of turbine manufacturers and others ­trying to build low-carbon alternatives.

Jeremy Leggett, founder and executive chairman of Solarcentury, says: "Talk of the death of renewables is premature but clearly big solar farms and wind projects are being cancelled. Everything is suf­fering in the current climate but its my contention that the low oil price is a temporary thing and the growth of renew­ables will resume."

Russia, Ukraine Poised to Resume Talks After Gas Halt

(Bloomberg) -- Russia prepared to resume talks with Ukraine in their dispute over the price of natural gas after cutting supplies to its western neighbor for the second time in three years, threatening fuel shipments to Europe.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko said in a statement the two sides are near a compromise, urging state utility NAK Naftogaz Ukrainy and OAO Gazprom, Russia’s gas exporter, to meet again in the next one or two days. Gazprom also proposed talks.

Houston's Future Is Now

For that reason, when he looks into the distant future, he sees Houston's fate as dependent upon diversification. "We don't want to be the Detroit of the 21st century," he says. "Not to say that we have to rush out right now and close all the refineries...but I think Houston will someday have to face up to how it's going to make a living in the 21st century."

Bishop points to oil industry experts like Matt Simmons, who thinks peak oil is already upon us. "The oil industry might go flat in the teens," Bishop notes.

Rising costs become more important factor in oil price

While prices remain well above the infamous $10 oil Alaska faced and survived in 1999, many in the industry say $40 today doesn't buy what it bought just a few years ago.

"The fundamental cost of our business has changed over the past couple of years," Jim Bowles, president of Conoco Phillips Alaska, told members of the Resource Development Council during their annual conference in Anchorage in mid-November.

At the same event, outgoing BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc. president Doug Suttles estimated oil industry costs have increased 15 to 20 percent per year for the past few years.

Costs associated with new facilities at oil and gas fields have risen 9.2 percent over the past six months, according to the Upstream Capital Costs Index, published twice each year by the affiliated consulting firms IHS and Cambridge Energy Research Associates.

The index shows oil-field costs doubling since 2005 after several years of only slight growth. A piece of equipment costing $100 at the start of the decade now costs $230.

Kuwait's Dow deal scrapping highlights crisis

KUWAIT CITY (AP) — Kuwait's decision to scrap a $17.4 billion joint venture with U.S. giant Dow Chemical has triggered warnings that the oil-rich Gulf nation's fractious politics could undercut efforts to kick-start stalled economic development plans.

Just days before the Jan. 1 launch of K-Dow, the Cabinet backtracked, saying on Sunday the deal was too risky in light of the current global financial crisis and the precipitous fall in oil prices. On the surface, the rationale appeared sound, as other projects throughout the region have either been canceled or shelved for the same reasons. But the real impetus may have been political, rooted in an ongoing feud between lawmakers and the Cabinet.

Oil out with a bang with 14% spike

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The price of oil jumped Wednesday, capping a volatile year with a swing of $7 from the session low to the close, as investors responded to news of a possible supply disruption in Europe.

Light, sweet crude for February delivery rose $5.57, or 14.2%, to settle at $44.60 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Gas prices: Waayy up, waayy down

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- This is a year drivers will never forget - gas prices surged and crashed at unprecedented levels.

"We've never had a year where we had these extremes - 2008 was really a tale of two markets," said Ben Brockwell, director of data pricing for the Oil Price Information Service.

UK: Tesco petrol hits new record low

TESCO triggered a New Year fuel price war yesterday after slashing the cost of petrol to its lowest level in FOUR YEARS.

Gulf Oil Blocks May Be at High Risk during 2009 Active Hurricane Season

The outlook for the 2009 Hurricane Season is not a good one for the Gulf coast from Louisiana to Alabama which has a 70% chance of experiencing a landfall of a tropical storm or hurricane. According to Houston based Weather Research Center’s meteorologist, Jill Hasling, the Center's outlook is forecasting that the 2009 Hurricane Season will have at least 7 named storms with 4 of these tropical storms intensifying into hurricanes.

Steve LeVine: For Big Oil, a Day of Reckoning

Most of us are elated with gasoline prices, especially those driving to see relatives. We are down on the Chesapeake shore, and filled up the mini-van for $1.49 a gallon. But if you are a petro-state or an oil company, these aren’t happy times.

Output at China's Huge Daqing Oilfield Slows in '08

Crude oil output in PetroChina's Daqing oilfield, China's largest, fell 3.6 percent from a year earlier to 40.2 million tonnes in 2008, or 804,000 barrels per day, Xinhua News Agency reported on Wednesday.

Sinopec Adds 104MM Tons Oil Reserves in Shengli Field

State-owned Sinopec Group said it has added 104.08 million tonnes, or 760 million barrels of proven geological oil reserves to its largest Shengli oilfield.

That is the 26th consecutive year that annual new discoveries in the field surpassed 100 million tonnes.

Report: Toyota developing solar powered green car

TOKYO -- Toyota Motor Corp. is secretly developing a vehicle that will be powered solely by solar energy in an effort to turn around its struggling business with a futuristic ecological car, a top business daily reported Thursday.

Linda McQuaig: Guns, butter and petroleum - Prices may have fallen but black gold retains its unique ability to fuel international conflicts

The reality remains that oil is a finite resource, a precious one-time inheritance we've used up recklessly over the past century. As a result, we've already consumed most of the Earth's easily accessible oil. Much of what's left can be produced only with great difficulty, at enormous environmental and financial cost – as Alberta's oil sands illustrate.

For years, critics, including leading geologists and economists as well as prominent Houston investment banker Matthew Simmons, have argued that we're rapidly depleting global reserves of conventional oil, creating a potentially dangerous situation for the world. Governments, however, have ignored or played down the problem.

Russia cuts all gas supplies to Ukraine

MOSCOW — Russia's Gazprom gas monopoly cut all supplies of natural gas to Ukraine on Thursday after talks broke down over payments for past shipments and a new energy price contract for 2009.

Gazprom officials said the cuts began as planned at 10 a.m. local time (2 a.m. ET) and the Ukrainian gas company Naftogaz confirmed a steady drop in supplies.

FACTBOX - Top Russian gas customers in Europe

(Reuters) - The following is a list of the top customers in Europe of Russia's gas export monopoly Gazprom , which cut supplies to its neighbour Ukraine on Thursday over a pricing dispute.

Russian gas volumes transiting Belarus spikes

Minsk - The volume of Russian natural gas transiting Belarus en route to European customers has increased by one-quarter, a Belarusian official told the Belapan news agency on Thursday. The Russian natural gas monopolist Gazprom added 25 million cubic metres of gas sent through Belarusian pipelines over December volumes, according to the report.

The Gazprom increase was reportedly an intentional but nonetheless insufficient compensation for shipping volume potentially lost by the Russian company due to an embargo on gas shipments it imposed on Ukraine as a result of a pricing and payment dispute.

Roller coaster petroleum

Lots of people have asked me -- and pretty nearly every other geologist in the nation -- what’s likely to be in store for fuel prices. In the shorter term, I’m expecting low prices, but in the longer run I fear we’re likely to see price spikes again and again.

...A former teacher of mine, Ken Deffeyes of Princeton University, taught me about this cause of “fluttering” prices several years ago. Oil prices will be high, he argues, and they will also be highly variable.

It’s not easy to plan for substantial cost variations, but that’s our challenge, both individually and as a nation.

Iran cuts oil output by 545,000 barrels a day

Iran said on Wednesday it would cut oil output by 545,000 barrels per day from Jan. 1 in line with OPEC's decision to reduce production.

Year-end leap in oil price could bode well for gold in 2009

Longer term the peak oil scenario, which sees production potential reaching a maximum followed by a serious decline, if correct, would suggest a continuing high oil price environment from late in the next decade, although timing of the 'peak' is open to argument. Cognisant of the reserve depletion likelihood, major oil producers may thus be more ready to make production cuts to maintain prices at what they see as reasonable levels with a contrarian effect on the strength of the U.S dollar as, for the time being at least, the world's largest consumer of oil and oil products. Some would say that security of continuing oil supply is what the Iraq Wars have, in reality, been all about.

Oil Price Vagaries will challenge Obama

There is no more easily accessible oil. Independent audit procedures are needed to measure output. Lower oil prices are likely to impede the massive investment needed to meet increased demand by 2030.

Obama's big oil decision: Bush opened the door to oil shale, a huge energy source. Will Obama close the door too soon?

Despite his hopes for renewable energy, Barack Obama faces tough choices early in his term on whether to extract more oil within the US. Americans are still years, maybe decades, from kicking the oil habit. One reserve – with at least a century of supply – lies below the Rockies. Will a "green" president ignore this black ooze?

Big names help bankroll Obama inaugural

An eclectic group of people have donated to the committee, from financier George Soros to energy expert and author Daniel Yergin, model Rachel Hunter and John Thompson, coach of the Georgetown University basketball team.

Locals offer wide range of resolutions

James Howard Kunstler, author, social critic and blogger: “My hope for 2009 is that President Obama will usher in a new period of reality-based politics and policy. A changing of the guard in the White House does not guarantee this. It will take courage and resolve, since the problems we face in energy, banking and geopolitics are very severe. Personally, I resolve to resume publishing my local newsletter, Civitas, here in Saratoga. It’s time for me to re-engage with local issues.”

A New Year’s Wish for Coloradans and the United States

Like a 400 pound fat man at an “all you can eat” buffet, the citizens of this country continue devouring their resources, land, water and energy like tomorrow won’t arrive! Not only that, they (we) added 3.1 million of humans to this country this year and every year via immigration — to accelerate those consumption levels.

Wasting Our Watts

This may sound too good to be true, but the U.S. has a renewable-energy resource that is perfectly clean, remarkably cheap, surprisingly abundant and immediately available. It has astounding potential to reduce the carbon emissions that threaten our planet, the dependence on foreign oil that threatens our security and the energy costs that threaten our wallets. Unlike coal and petroleum, it doesn't pollute; unlike solar and wind, it doesn't depend on the weather; unlike ethanol, it doesn't accelerate deforestation or inflate food prices; unlike nuclear plants, it doesn't raise uncomfortable questions about meltdowns or terrorist attacks or radioactive-waste storage, and it doesn't take a decade to build. It isn't what-if like hydrogen, clean coal and tidal power; it's already proven to be workable, scalable and cost-effective. And we don't need to import it.

This miracle juice goes by the distinctly boring name of energy efficiency, and it's often ignored in the hubbub over alternative fuels, the nuclear renaissance, T. Boone Pickens and the green-tech economy.

Alternative energy companies stung by tight credit

Alternative energy stocks were battered on Wall Street in 2008 as volatile commodity prices, a continuing global recession and tightening credit markets drove one ethanol company into bankruptcy protection and sent shares of others down more than 90 percent.

UK: Elderly fearful of soaring heating bills

Elderly people in Lancashire are turning off their heating and wearing coats indoors in fear of getting soaring energy bills.

Groups which represent older folk say pensioners are coming to them daily with worries about rocketing prices for gas and electricity.

Pakistan: Energy crisis reaches new heights

LAHORE - SHORTAGE of natural gas, CNG and LPG has followed petrol crisis and almost everyone has been affected.

The City is in the grip of severe cold weather and citizens are unable to warm their houses because of shortage of electricity and gas.

Electricity is expensive and available only for a few hours. Gas pressure in many residential areas is inadequate even for cooking or heating homes.

An acute shortage of petrol has affected the mobility of people. Petrol shortage has impacted mostly motorcyclists and luxury car owners who have not converted their vehicles to CNG.

Pakistan: Massive load shedding triggers violent protests in Faisalabad

FAISALABAD: Massive load shedding brought life in Faisalabad to a standstill on Thursday. Hundreds of power looms workers took to the streets, they protested over continued power outages and blocked city’s main arteries.

According to sources, protestors surrounded local Fesco office, burnt tyres and chanted slogans against Fesco officials. A large contingent of police was deployed on the occasion. Agitated workers set a bakery on fire but two labourers were also injured when the bakery guard opened fire.

California's OriginOil seeks better way to grow algae

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - One could say they are working on the green slime that could change the world.

In an unassuming converted warehouse in Los Angeles, the 10 employees of OriginOil are working to perfect the way microscopic algae is grown and refined.

Survey finds water shortage expected for Oregon

The words "Oregon" and "rain" often appear together, but results of round-table talks indicate Oregonians doubt there will be enough water for everyone as the state's population grows and summers become drier with climate change.

The five sessions were held in September and October. Two-thirds of those surveyed at the roundtables across the state doubt whether Oregon will have enough water to cover all its needs 20 years from now.

Revealed: The cement that eats carbon dioxide

Cement, a vast source of planet-warming carbon dioxide, could be transformed into a means of stripping the greenhouse gas from the atmosphere, thanks to an innovation from British engineers.

The new environmentally formulation means the cement industry could change from being a "significant emitter to a significant absorber of CO2," says Nikolaos Vlasopoulos, chief scientist at London-based Novacem, whose invention has garnered support and funding from industry and environmentalists.

Oak tree deaths herald new pest threat to traditional plants, Kew curator warns

Traditional British plants from the oak tree to the garden cabbage are under threat because of the effects of climate change, the curator of Kew Gardens has warned.

Bush may be giving Obama breathing room to fight global warming

Recent moves by lame-duck officials, though frustrating to environmentalists, offer the president-elect time and political cover to deliberately craft rules on emissions, energy lobbyists say.

I noticed something very odd this Christmas season.

I was driving up to St. Louis to visit my mother on Christmas Eve. I went thru parts of the outer areas that were mostly filled with massive shopping malls and strip malls galore.

I went to Dago Hill to buy some italian staples. I then drove back south to Cape Girardeau, a college city in Mo.

I ate Christmas dinner at a Ryans , did some shopping,drove around and then returned to my homeplace.

Not ONCE did I see a lot selling Christmas trees!!!!

Used to be there were plenty of them so families could put up a real tree. Now none. Well maybe somewhere there was but none that I could see.

I think its an idea or practice that has become moot. All plastic trees now and few of them.

This has been a very different Christmas from what I observe. Its seems we have lost a great deal of the spirit that once was a huge part of the season.

I also saw no creches. I saw no Santas. I saw some lights decorating houses but not like in the past.

It was to me a very somber Christmas at that. I am afraid it shows that we are suddenly starting as a nation to take the recent events very seriously. I was amazed.


I didn't get the impression that Leanan recieved any pix of Audacious lighting displays, either. Though I'm sure they are out there. The wind has gone out of a lot of sails, right now.

We have a real tree from the woods, not purchased, and it's kind of a Charlie Brown tree. I'm fairly sure that the ornaments weigh more than the wood.

Maybe I'm in a pollyana phase, but I think people are going to be in a state of rediscovering the essentials in events like Christmas, paring away all sorts of extras.

On our freecycle list this year, a lot of people were shedding off their oversized Artificial Xmas trees.

Best hopes for a real Rebirth,
and Happy New Year!


Pollyanna phase, no doubt. Don't overestimate people response. Imagine the worst, the reality will be probably even a bit worse than that.

That does not apply if you are as pessimistic as memmel, but for the rest of us it is a safe rule.

Deep in my soul, I have a Pollyana wolf and a Doomer wolf, and they are in a lifelong struggle. Both are powerful, and each dog has their good days and bad.

Actually, as I look closer, it seems that the pollyana is a toy poodle, but boy, can she run! (and she fights dirty, by undermining the Doomer-wolf's will to fight, distracting him with dumb jokes, sentimental songs- and showing up with heaping plates of food. What's a pessimist to do when there's food on the table?)


Someday we'll find it
The rainbow connection
The lovers, the dreamers and me

La la la le la la loo
La la la la le la la loo

Actually, as I look closer, it seems that the pollyana is a toy poodle, but boy, can she run! (and she fights dirty, by undermining the Doomer-wolf's will to fight, distracting him with dumb jokes, sentimental songs- and showing up with heaping plates of food. What's a pessimist to do when there's food on the table?)

That's Coyote - not a toy poodle. While not exactly evil, Coyote can't be trusted either. But Coyote might have a bit of soft-heart towards humans, being involved one or another with their creation.

BTW, I'm pretty sure that its Coyote's farts that cause Global Warming.

Poodle might be a trickster, Like Coyote or Crow.. but I don't think the fit is very good.

Nice Snark, though!



Coyote has been compared to both the Scandinavian Loki, and also Prometheus, who shared with Coyote the trick of having stolen fire from the gods as a gift for mankind. Similarities can also be drawn with another trickster, the Polynesian demigod Māui, who also stole fire for mankind and introduced death to the world.

Claude Lévi-Strauss, French anthropologist proposed a structuralist theory that suggests that Coyote and Crow obtained mythic status because they are mediator animals between life and death.[8]


Actually, I don't know how I missed it.

My Pollyana dog-god might actually be a Beagle.. considering the origin of my TOD Handle.

Not always the most literal or practical, but Snoopy is a survivor, despite all the prognostications of defeat. Happiness is still a warm puppy..

as the old saying goes.. 'Everything is character'

Airdale - Here in the land of the Xmas tree I have talked to several tree farmers I know and they all said that demand was way down. They then smile and say all that means is they will have more inventory of BIGGER trees for next year so the will really cash in then. Yee Haw!

I walk around the neighborhood and see very few houses done up with lights and all. The houses with lights usually have overflowing garbage cans with packaging and wrappers, houses without lights do not.

We noticed that trees seemed a lot more expensive this year, so we bought a smaller one. We put up the same number of lights, I guess - my wife seems to have collected light strings before we were married (usually bought them on deep discount in Jan), and we really only used half of what we could have put up.

My wife and I asked my mother to give a donation to a food pantry instead of buying us some stuff that we don't really need.

Happy New Year Airdale...

I noticed a couple of days ago that the comments rating system was gone so I decided to log in. The system was FUBAR from day one, as I pointed out numerous times, but it was like attempting to talk to government bureaucrats.

Congatulations to whoever had enough sense to rid this board of that idiocy.

The new year has indeed arrived and the prediction that I made long ago, that the presidential election would be about the economy, has indeed come to pass. Of course that prediction was thourghly downrated. :)

I also predicted that in the coming environment of frugality that the technogeeks would play hell finding funding for their crude oil replacements. Also downrated but right again. :)

I said that oil at $146 was a bubble and promptly shorted it and made a bundle. Downrated but right again. :)

I could continue but will leave you with this thought...Rarely have I made money taking my own financial advice. :)

I hope you have all made appropriate preparations for the new year because 2009 is going to make 2008 look like a walk in the park.

Congatulations to whoever had enough sense to rid this board of that idiocy.

That would be no one. :-)

The ratings system is temporarily down because SuperG did a massive upgrade on Christmas Eve and had to disable some site features while he irons out the bugs. It will be back.

'That would be no one. :-)

The ratings system is temporarily down because SuperG did a massive upgrade on Christmas Eve and had to disable some site features while he irons out the bugs. It will be back.'

Ah, I didn't think your staff had enough sense to get rid of the ratings system. If it will be back, I won't.

Your readers/contributors are going to have an interesting several years watching the commodities, oil not the least among them. Some countries economies will begin to recover prior to the US and at some point the world will decide that a single fiat currency will not work for a globalized economy, if the economy is to remain globalized. Nor will numerous individual currencies work because of downturns leading to currency devaluations and minipulations. The problem is as old as currencies, they are always devalued when governments need money for pork and wars. Expect to see more direct trade agreements excluding the dollar. Expect a dislocation in the US Treasuries Market. Expect a dollar crash. In order to regain the confidence of voters governments will eventually do the only thing left for them too do, go to currencies based on SOMETHING. After confidence is regained, that system will be eroded and the cycle will begin again. Aquire a taste for beans, rice, and Sunday Dinners featuring tamales as the main dish.

When Bernanke's Keynesian remedies fail the most doomerish readers will find that they have done the right things for the wrong reasons. These doomers, being human and having short memories, will congratulate themselves anyway.

Get the extra large popcorn, it will be a long and fireworks filled show.

Happy New Year and adios

How about a dollar backed by "Gold"---Golden Corn?
Too Corny for you? How about a dollar backed by beans---the Soy ones.

It would be better than today's dollar backed by Gas---as in Hot Air...

E. Swanson

I too was happy to see it vanished.

Surely each person can have a rating system in their own brain, and skip stuff they disapprove of or dislike or are uninterested in? Besides that most of the posts are worth reading (not that I manage to do so or even wish to.) So someone posts about abiotic oil? Call him or her biotic or idiotic and be done. If the rating system ends up by influencing what is or is not posted, one may end up with a very narrow ‘majority opinion’, very conventional stuff, or a group-think atmosphere.

The basic idea of democracy is that one votes for elected representatives (Republic) or for decisions that are spelled out -- for or against the death penalty, for ex. Opinion is free...of course it is judged and can be, is often, quashed, but rating individual posts - and thus the individuals who write them - seems a highway to conformity, very corporate like, reminiscent also of beauty contests and ‘star academy’ (I don’t know the name of US programs) ...

I ignored it in the past and will do so in the future.

What I don't understand is what the rating is supposed to accomplish, what purpose it serves. Anyway the owners do decide the forms and rules.

Surely each person can have a rating system in their own brain, and skip stuff they disapprove of or dislike or are uninterested in?

They can. The place is called "Usenet." ;-)

What I don't understand is what the rating is supposed to accomplish, what purpose it serves.

It's supposed to keep TOD looking civilized and professional for visitors who may wander in, not knowing what the site is like. Sure, some kind of killfile function would work for regulars, but it would not help for newcomers. We don't want people to come in, see a flamewar or a discussion about how the government is hiding energy technology from space aliens, and write us off.

I'm glad you think most of the posts are worth reading, but that reflects a lot of work by the staff. And it's not scalable. Once a site reaches a certain size, community moderation is the only thing that works. We are not there yet, nowhere near it, but we're planning for the future.

Right now, the ratings system is in beta and there are no consequences. Eventually, that will change. We have a vision for this site, and it's not Usenet-type anything goes.

Ah, I didn't think your staff had enough sense to get rid of the ratings system.

A perfect illustration of why you won't likely be missed.

Why so arrogant? I don't see any special insight in your words. All you have really said is the economic system has cycles and you people are stupid for thinking it's about oil... or something to that effect.


Re: Pakistan: Energy crisis reaches new heights

What's happening in Pakistan looks like the future for the U.S. If the U.S. converts more transport to CNG, the resulting shortages in winter could be life threatening for many who depend on natural gas for heating. Furthermore, their problems with LPG might also appear in the U.S., where LPG is used for winter heating in rural areas. The shortages of LPG reported during the harvest season are also likely to worsen.

E. Swanson

"More"? According to the EIA there are only 116k CNG vehicles on the road as of 2006 - after two years of slight decreases, too. Doubt that T Boone has created much of a craze in the meantime. This article says the total is north of 120k now: Home » Compressed Natural Gas ( CNG ) - Gas that's Cheaper. Not exactly the makings of a stampede, unless Obama comes out and says he's a methane man.

my wife got a book for our grandson[13]; highly recommended/popular for kids:


Life As We Knew It
by Susan Beth Pfeffer

it was good overall[he hasn't read it yet].my wife gives it 3 1/2 stars [& she hates any focus on peak oil & its consequences].
the story centers on
"But after the meteor hits, pushing the moon off its axis and causing worldwide earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanoes, all the things Miranda used to take for granted begin to disappear. Food and gas shortages, along with extreme weather changes, come to her small Pennsylvania town...

kinda fits w/ the comments recently about the yellowstone volcano news/history in terms of past major seasonal changes & consequences.

the book is for teens but is good in terms of making hunger/cold/flu quite real. looting/violence was minimized i thought but perhaps a small town would be that civil.death & suffering was such, especially the hunger/starvation that i wouldn't censor it as doomer porn.

she has a 2nd book; the dead & the gone.

Is that really a good book for a 13 year old. When I was that age, books of that ilk would have probably pushed me over the edge. But maybe that was just me.

have u considered what most 13 yr. old are exposed to these days. i check for violence usually because of the numbing. i agree with u'r point that each parent should keep u'r concern in mind though as a professor i knew had a teen son kill himself after club of rome kind of info & focus.

i think as long as it is a different 'setting '& not real [a form of denial/defense] it is less likely to overwhelm. my wife didn't immediately get the peak oil kind of connection. & again the book was recommended as popular[teen romance amidst this]. i like the realism it offered in parent teen conflict too[overall].

Alright.. I think I'll drop one in for perhaps younger kids. "The Gardener"
A lovely picture book about a depression-era girl who is sent to NYC to live with her uncle when her folks can't support the whole family. It's very sweet, but I'd say NOT sugar-coated.
It makes a great illustration of how much family ties and flexible responses are possible in dealing with hard times.. and it makes a healthy call for 'real growth'.

also, the Foxfire series should get another reprint soon, for a 'can-do' set of instructions and ideas on living on bare essentials.. probably some great projects for young people to develop new and important skills.



The Foxfire books are wonderful. I'm glad to see they are still appreciated,


Young Adult literature can tackle adult themes, such as Children of the Dust, which is about surviving nuclear war.

Yellowstone continues to rumble with 7 tremors above 2.0 in the last 12 hours:


Looking at the University of Utah web site press releases, it would appear that earthquakes above magnitude 3.0 have been considered noteworthy. This swarm has produced lots of those.

Last night, I played with the data a bit, plotting the quake depths. I noticed that most of the events were less than 2 km deep with some listed as at the surface. But, there were a few deeper ones and the latest batch included a very deep one, a 2.4 at 37 km. If I can figure out how to store graphics files on a server, such as photobucket, I might post the figures for all to see.

Keep those fingers crossed, since The Big One would likely produce an impact similar to "Nuclear Winter". If one were to survive the freezing conditions, food would be a big problem as there wouldn't be a corn crop for a couple of years and wheat would be hard to grow as well. Think of what happened during the "Year Without Summer" of 1816 times 10...

E. Swanson

Keep those fingers crossed, since The Big One would likely produce an impact similar to "Nuclear Winter"


Actually, I think it might very well be a lot worse than a nuclear winter.

Earthquakes. Supervolcanoes. Calderas. The End of Civilization.

And what if the supervolcano blew? Kind of like if a giant rock hit the Earth. A planet killer. An extinction-level event.

And the statistical likelihood of that killing you is almost infinitely lower than something mundane.

Was looking for links to back up my obvious assertion when it occurred to me (not for the first time) that I'm in all likelihood contributing to my own demise by wasting time providing evidence for something plain as the nose on my face, that could be better spent going for a nice walk.

And the statistical likelihood of that killing you is almost infinitely lower than something mundane.

Obviously, or I wouldn't be sitting here playing on the computer and watching bowl games on TV.

The Yellowstone supervolcano is the ultimate black swan. Low probability, scary high impact.

Even were an eruption to be "only" on the scale of a 500 year event, the impacts would be huge. Krakatoa, Tambora, Kuwae, etc, were perhaps once in 100 year events. The hot spot presently under Yellowstone was once located further to the west and produced a series of massive lava flows covering the Columbia River Valley in eastern Washington State, which buried everything under 10's of meters of basalt. I've seen the result where a stream has cut a deep valley thru the basalt, with an impressive water fall over the edge of the resulting cliff. Notice the thickness of each layer, which were laid down over a short period before the basalt cooled.

Another eruption might play out like the typical event in Hawaii, that is, lots of lava but little fireworks. The Hawaiian Islands were formed as the crust migrated over a similar hot spot, with successive volcanoes forming the islands as the lava piled up from the bottom of the ocean.

E. Swanson

For that matter the Columbia River Gorge itself cuts through these basalt flows. Lava flowed out from dike swarms in what is now Eastern OR/WA in massive volumes, flowing all the way to the Coast in only the space of a few weeks. From what I've read these were rather gentle eruptions for that large part, being pure basalt instead of rhyolitic lava which erupts explosively owing to its water content. For all of their size these Miocene era flows yielded only a tenth of the volume of the Deccan or Siberian Traps. There are alternative theories for their cause besides the Yellowstone Hot Spot too.

Dear Black Dog.
The Hawaii islands represent a thermo-baric forcing due to an antipodal bollide event. A bollide collision on the other side of the planet creats p and s waves that move through the deep magma around the core and reinforce at a point at the antipode to the original impact site. There is no continenal crust around Hawaii. It is basaltic and is well beyond the Andesite line that defines crustal geology. These islands are oceanic 'hot spots'. others, such as Yellowstone Complex are fairly typical mega-caldera types that are common inside the crustal regions. However, a Yellowstone caldera event would be problematic for the human race in the northern hemisphere, as would a similar event in and around the Campainian fields of the Vesuvias complex. A Vesuvias Event would be problematic, but a Yellowstone Event would be life-critical.

Here is hoping that a Yellowstone Event or even a Tambora Event is not on the cards this year. - We have enough problems to deal with at this time.

The Hawaii islands represent a thermo-baric forcing due to an antipodal bollide event.


The Yellowstone supervolcano is the ultimate black swan. Low probability, scary high impact.

I hope people realize that while a sueprvolcanic eruption would in all probability include such earthquake swarms as a precursor, it doesn't floow that this swarm is a likely precursor of such an event. Most of the time, when a volcano shows a bit of anamolous behavior, nothing drastic happens. So we shouldn't be panicing over these events. They do serve as a reminder, that we (as a species) are not entirely the masters of our fate. Extinction events have been caused by both extraterrestrial (mainly impacts), and internal (major episodes of volcanism) events. And we are still very far from controlling these threats.

Some look at events like super volcanoes and see them as a problem. Why not look on the bright side? Obama is looking for large public works projects. Fred Thompson (politician and actor from Tenn) suggested that Obama put half the population to work digging holes, the other half filling them up.

The way to be optomistic is to think of how many people and how much new equipment it would take to remove tens or hundreds of feet of ash from thousands of square miles of terra firma. This is a great opportunity!

Obama could be a hero since he would be using idle labor productively. American workers would have lots of jobs...shoveler, raker, Cat driver, grave digger, etc. The possiblities are endless...and, all that damned ash could be pushed into an ocean to create an entire new state, which could be taxed and would help with the enormous deficits.

The new state could be offered to the Jews or the Palestinians, gratis, so that the problem of fighting over Gaza, Jerusalem, etc, could be settled.

Americans are doers, not whiners as Graham said. We are a can do bunch. We won't be licked by some damned volcano.

As an alternative to the above solution of the volcano problem, we could give the state of Wyoming to China as partial payment for all those soon to be worthless treasury notes that they have accumulated. Maybe we should give it to em before the eruption?

We just have to brain storm this one. There are lots of solutions. Feel free to submit any ideas.

I'm not quite sure what the best way to post images is either, but i have had some (functional) success with image shack. I guess this is a very rough plot of the data you are looking at. http://img58.imageshack.us/img58/8834/quakedepthru0.jpg (Dec 27-Jan 1)

The 37km quake today really stands out. I was looking for historical quake/depth data but have so far been unsuccessful. Would be interesting to see more data. I have read that the magma pool is roughly 50km beneath the surface, but I am not sure if this is accurate.

If anyone is aware of a good tectonic forum, please post the link.

Yeah, I did a graph like that (mol) the first time I tried. The next variation was to plot the data vs. time of day using a spreadsheet.

Here's my latest attempt, with UTC Dates.

EDIT: Fixed the date for the New Year.

E. Swanson

Sorry, I thought you said Teutonic

I would not be too worried about it. nothing one can do about it if it actually blows. heck it would be preferred to anything that man can do to it's self, at least we won't have anyone too blame.

edit: anything should be anyone.

Russia just cut off natural gas to Ukraine.

Russia also sold missiles to Iran a few weeks ago, without the warheads.

Russia is a great country but wants what it's always wanted: respect and money.

Many international problems await the Obama administration; with a full plate of domestic issues.

Kevin Walsh
Chicago Peak Oil

Every country big enough wants respect and money. Why would Russia be any different?

On this first day of a new year, spend a few minutes watching Happy People Dancing on Planet Earth:


I watched that several months ago. Highly recommended. Also, on YouTube, of course.

Awesome, sunspot.

Very nice way to bring in the new year!

I have to say that, for my part, the amount of traveling that went into this video could be seen as a hypocrisy, but instead, I think that Matt and Melissa actually were able to bring ALL of us, AND all those dancers around the world with him. Not bad for a couple-dozen airline tickets..

Lemons+Sugar+Energy > Lemonade


(go Poodle, go!~)

(go Poodle, go!~)

The poodle bites
The poodle chooses

- Frank Zappa

It's the "the poodle chews it" - from the song "Dirty Love".

Huh. Happens to us all, I s'pose. I like my version :)

Incidentally, it's a running theme that appears in a number of Zappa songs.

Thanks, needed that today. It's possible to be happy in the midst of surrounding doom. Kriscan needs to check the video out if she has not already.

Good luck to all in 2009. Make this the year to find yourself again.

Looking at the Toyota article, I looked up more on their Solar installation..

I wonder how much it helps a factory to have a guaranteed power-supply when making plans for future product lines? Naturally, it is still grid-dependent, but 2.3 megawatts (peak) is a pretty good start.

How Much Power?
The array was built by SunPower using 10,417 solar modules. It should generate enough energy to meet 60% of the demand from the manufacturing plant. With a total capacity of 2.3 megawatts, the installation is capable of generating 3.7 million kilowatt hours of electricity annually. It is expected to avoid about 6.4 million pounds of CO2 emissions per year.


Wasting Our Watts

Glad to see this article. I was recently contemplating this diagram and wondering why we weren't hearing more about energy efficiency - other the fact that 'saving' anything these days seems so unAmerican.


Replaced the image with a link. It wasn't readable shrunk down the way you had it anyway, and it was slowing down the page load for some reason.

Unfortunately, the article ends with platitudes.

I'd like to see more discussion of efficiencies in energy production and transportation, not just consumption.

The diagram is rather misleading.

What exactly is 'useful energy'? For the transportation sector they seem to have got plenty of waste energy, presumably accounting for the inefficiency of car engines.

But what about all the heat leaking through the walls and windows of uninsulated homes. Surely that is 'waste energy', too?

And were all those transportation journeys really necessary or just a function of badly designed cities and transportation systems?

I'm sure that in an Amory Lovins version the useful/waste split would be quite different.


I'm trying to understand your comment, Ron.

The central point of that article was to say that we need to, or have the opportunity to reduce consumption in a number of different ways, that we have this 'Alternative' energy solution available to us that precludes the need to add other or better energy production, and which even can upstage efficiencies.. and yet while you said you were glad that they brought it up, the conclusion was that their summary was essentially 'platitudes'.

The last line was roughly 'Sorry to nag, but you might still put on that Sweater, too.' IE, use less power in the first place. I'm just concerned that we've gotten convinced that any instigation that we push ourselves to a more disciplined and conscientious set of behaviors gets either subtlely or unsubtlely tarred as some kind of Self-righteous Moralising ('platitudes'?), and so kicked back into the 'Unrealistic' box and forgotten.

Sorry if I'm misreading your language.. but there are so many ways in which we talk ourselves OUT of reasonable solutions with a number of accepted, euphemistic putdowns and codewords.. so I'm trying to find some of them and figure out how to make these calls for Self-improvement a little more bullet-proof.


You know what I haven't seen lately is an article about how Big Oil is manipulating the markets to rake in huge profits. Hmm, I wonder why that is?

Because Democrats closed the Enron loophole. Or so this post argues.

Wow, who knew that the US Senate had such power over the global commodities market!</sarcasm>

Figured I'd better get this in before it's too late although I see Bob (jokuhl) signed off with it.


Happy New Year - if only for a moment.


Darwinian commented yesterday on the drop in US oil production reported over the last three weeks. I think the following IEA graph may explain much of it if accurate. Approx 190kb/day GOM production is still offline but Alaska temporarily surged after maintenance. If the dotted line is accurate, perhaps around 80k/d has been lost from December Alaska production compared to November


Our working assumption here remains that prevailing (GOM) outages in early December – 190 kb/d (or some 15% of regional output) – continue through March 2009, the reported likely limit for when pipeline repairs should allow output recovery.

Alaskan  November  crude  production  rose  to  745  kb/d, its  highest  level  since  December 2007.


Prudhoe Bay is one of I believe 14 oil fields that have ever produced more than one mbpd or more of crude oil. Last I heard, the water cut was something like 75%.

The following four field complexes are the four fields that were recently producing one mbpd of more of crude oil.

The "optimistic" guy at ASPO-USA, Peter Wells, commented in October that North Ghawar would be effectively watered out in two years. (The southern portion of the Ghawar complex has much lower permeability than North Ghawar).

And of course we know about Cantarell.

The Burgan complex appears to be in decline.

The last I heard, the Daqing Field had about a 90% water cut.

The last I heard, the Daqing Field had about a 90% water cut.

In case anyone missed this in Leanan's drumbeat links

Output at China's huge Daqing oilfield slows in '08

BEIJING, Dec 31 (Reuters) - Crude oil output in PetroChina's (601857.SS) Daqing oilfield, China's largest, fell 3.6 percent from a year earlier to 40.2 million tonnes in 2008, or 804,000 barrels per day, Xinhua News Agency reported on Wednesday.

Thousands of stores to disappear in '09: Experts say disastrous holiday sales will force many more merchants into bankruptcy - and ultimately into liquidation.

"I think the whole consumer economy is being recalibrated," said Kampler. "It's something that's not been done in decades. I think it will be a three-year recalibration of consumer behavior and expectations."

While it's something that she believes is "unavoidable" and will hit the economy in terms of more job losses, she hopes it will also change the consumers' buy-at-all-cost shopping mentality.

"Consumers are used to thinking about buying 50 T-shirts, 10 pairs of jeans and 6 sneakers," she said. "Do we really need all this stuff? Ultimately we will all be buying less."

This will just make Wal Mart even more dominant in the consumer sphere. What do we end up with, one Big Wal Mart? I visited a mall before Christmas (only because I had to go to Sears to get a battery). The mall, with dozens of stores, was nearly empty. The Wal Mart had more cars in the parking lot than the entire mall. And this is the only mall in a town of about 100,000. And I haven't even mentioned the death of mom and pop stores.

Is this what we want? Wal Mart nation?

..laughing all the way to the morgue.

"For life is quite absurd
And death's the final word
You must always face the curtain with a bow.
Forget about your sin - give the audience a grin
Enjoy it - it's your last chance anyhow.

So always look on the bright side of death
Just before you draw your terminal breath

Life's a piece of sh!t
When you look at it
Life's a laugh and death's a joke, it's true.
You'll see it's all a show
Keep 'em laughing as you go
Just remember that the last laugh is on you."

-Eric Idle

"Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition."

Monty Python

Monty Python's Spamalot! is closing this month on Broadway. A lot of plays are struggling to sell tickets because of the economy.

A friend of mine works in Broadway theater. It's not a lot of plays closing at year end, it's more like "a phenomenal number" or "more than ever and all at once". She's thinking it will take a few years, however, for community theater in NYC to make a comeback. 20 Something, peak oil aware, glad her mom taught her how to work on a farm.

I would look at WalMart Nation as being a transient, and perhaps brief phase, to be replaced by the Flea Market Nation where salvaged (stolen and otherwise freely aquired) goods will be on offer. This has all the likely hood of being controlled by some form of organized criminals such as biker gangs who are already well organized and can easily add any lucrative product to their drug and sex lines. We will see a more bifurcated retail scene with very high end and very low end. This will apply as long as people can go to the stores. Once transportation becomes too expensive then the goods will have to come to us. A good old Watkins, Fuller Brush Sears catalogue retail scene might develop in some form. But then this assumes that centralized security will be adequate to protect transportation.

Why is this reminding me of buy n` large from wall-e?

This is the shoe that people are waiting to drop. Essentially which chains, which stores, etc, etc.

I suspect that some malls may be completely shuttered, but I don't have a sense yet as to what types of malls will fail. The premier malls on the surface might still have an advantage in that they have few vacancies and thus in theory good traffic, but they will also have the highest rents for mall space. There are gobs and gobs of misc strip malls out there that will have openings and empty spots, and the rents will be much cheaper here.

People might find new and innovative uses for these spaces - perhaps an old supermarket might get converted into a giant indoor farmers market, for example. Here is something I ran across that was an interesting use of space:


My dad reports that their local Domino's Pizza went out of business.

They didn't even bother to tell the employees. The early shift showed up, and found themselves locked out.

The usual New Year's fireworks show was canceled, too. The Chamber of Commerce usually pays for it, but couldn't raise the money this year.

Link courtesy of TAE.

List of Troubled Banks.

Full text below.

Ready to see where your bank stands?

A few days ago, a friend of mine called me to ask if I had any idea how to figure out which banks would be the next to fail. Some extensive googling revealed that while lists of troubled banks obviously exist, none of them seem to be readily available to the public. Why? Because the bankers do not want you to have this. Just watch the president of the American Bankers Association in this interview talk about how important it is to keep this private.

This is a list of all of the banks in the United States and the corresponding Texas Ratio for each one. Developed by Gerard Cassidy, the Texas ratio is a measure of a bank's credit troubles. Basically, the higher the ratio, the worse the situation is for that particular bank. Banks with a ratio of 100 and higher are in very serious danger of collapse, and banks with a ratio of 50 or higher are vulnerable.

This is the formula I used:
100 * ((Non-performing Assets - U.S guaranteed loans) + Other REO) / (Equity + Loss Reserves)

All of this information is available on the FDIC website, but it's extremely difficult to gather in a meaningful way. In fact, I don't think you'll find a list like this anywhere else on the internet.

If you found this list useful, please Digg it up.

List here.

I dunno - I thought SunTrust was in worse shape - but they did get some TARP.

Historical footnote: In 1980 in Midland, Texas at Midland National Bank (which later failed) it reportedly took two bankers to turn a loan request down. One banker was not authorized to turn down a loan request.

Hmmm. Citibank is good as gold. That's reassuring, I guess.

Looks like lotsa Georgia banks in trouble. Yikes for Georgians.

This is the FDIC Failed Bank List. It looks like Georgia is well represented there as well.

I thought IndyMac went belly up. They show up here with a Texas Ratio of 0. Wonder what's up with that?

That is not really IndyMac. That is the temporary bank set up by regulators to handle IndyMac's deposits and liabilities until they can be disposed of.

Salt Water Irrigation: Study Shows It Works

Take an arid field riddled with salty soil. Irrigate it with salty water. Plant a salt-tolerant grass along with a salt-sucking companion plant and what do you get? If you're a Brigham Young University research team, you raise a crop that successfully replaces corn as cattle feed.

Thats interesting. Where I come from we have this tidal plains, producing several eatible saltloving vegetables. Actually its hyped by local restaurants, and it is really tastefull.

Anybody read A Very Unpleasant Truth... Peak Oil Production and Its Global Consequences? One reviewer at Amazon gave it high marks for the authors' firm knowledge, derived from being energy industry employees, as opposed to all the amateurish musings you find in Internet forums...They were interviewed at Financial Sense, too: Link.

According to the Amazon web site, this is the "product description":

A basic assumption underlying our economic system and our way of life is that cheap and plentiful amounts of oil will be available for the foreseeable future. In this book two retired oil company scientists present the case that this assumption regarding future oil supplies is dangerously flawed. They believe that a peak in worldwide oil production is imminent and that the ensuing decline in oil production will have devastating social consequences unless steps are taken immediately to lessen the impact of this event. Easy solutions to the problem of peak oil production such as replacing conventional oil with ethanol or relying on the Canadian and Venezuelan oil sands to solve the problem will prove to be only unrealistic partial solutions. Conservation of energy must be an essential feature of how we respond to the impending energy crisis. Development of a national mass transit system along with a massive increase in electrical power generation using nuclear power, wind power, and solar power will be required to avert disaster.

It seems to be a 126 page self-published book. One reviewer calls it a "lightly once over" compared to Twilight in the Desert. It doesn't seem to have sold very well. If it covers the topics listed in 126 pages, I suspect it doesn't include much most of us don't already know.

It sounds like it wasn't really meant to tell us what we don't know. If it's an accessible book for newbies, I would be interested. Some people are just not going to plow through Twilight In the Desert. The authors being two scientists might give the book more legitimacy for some readers, too.

Mmmm, none other than Roscoe Bartlett referred to it on the floor of the House last May: View Appearance | C-SPAN Congressional Chronicle, Created by Cable ...

I have a book here that came across my desk: ``A Very Unpleasant Truth ..... Peak Oil Production and Its Global Consequences'' by two very credentialed authors, both Ph.Ds from one of our large oil companies. And they say in this book, The first and most important thing that needs to be done is to educate and convince the public that a problem even exists; and that's what I have been trying to do for more than 3 years now. The public must accept, they say, that the current system based on cheap
oil is not sustainable and cannot be kept intact regardless of what politicians promise.

Listened to the FSN interview, covered the basics very well - reserves vs. production and the like, topics that the public are easily confused by. One of them also mentioned coming across a very apt way of describing flow rate vs. reserve size - the Tap vs. Tank analogy. Isn't that a blogger's coinage? Perhaps they hang out here a bit.

Funny that a couple E&P guys would write an introductory book, industry commentators on Twilight in the Desert picked apart some of Matt's more obvious technical shortcomings or faulty conclusions, such as citing SPE papers technical issues as evidence Saudi Aramco faced insurmountable difficulties with production, without mentioning the part of the paper where they describe solving the problem in the first place.


The problem is that there is quite simply a glut of books on peak oil so the likelihood of this book consituting a genuine contribution to knowledge must be approaching zero. I'm not saying that when you've read one you've read them all but certainly when you've read ten you've read 99.9% of what there is to say on the subject.

Since every new book competes for attention with all existing books on the same subject there is in fact a risk that a new book may distract potential readers from better books that have already been written.

Thus, a new book can actually subtract from knowledge if it lures readers away from higher-quality sources that are already available.

Thus, a new book can actually subtract from knowledge if it lures readers away from higher-quality sources that are already available.

Nevertheless a good, and convincing book for the general public would indeed be a great contribution. I think the problem is not so much imperfect understanding of the issues by the few PO aware people, but the general complacency of the bulk of the population, among them the opinion making classes.

Madoff investors race to the courthouse

Investors filed a federal lawsuit in Manhattan on Tuesday against Ascot Partners, a New York City money-management firm that acted as a middleman between Madoff and investors; the firm's managing partner, J. Ezra Merkel, who is also chairman of automotive and real-estate financing firm GMAC; and its auditor, BDO Seidman.


Small world, ain't it? So, our public money is still being shovelled to a Madoff crony, even as he's frog-marched into court.

I would be very surprised if Ezra Merkel is the only Madoff crony receiving public funds.

Hello TODers,

Interesting that the Somali pirates released the crude supertanker, but just pirated a I-NPK freighter:

Somali pirates seized an Egyptian cargo ship carrying 6,000 tons of fertilizer...The 15 armed pirates were taking the vessel toward the Somali coast..
A few 'Wild & Crazy' thoughts:

1. What better way for these pirates to endear themselves among the poor, subsistence farmers and Somali gardeners than to either give this I-NPK away or sell it very cheap. Recall that Al Capone was much beloved in his local 'hood for his local philanthropy...

2. The pirates could also use this I-NPK to make explosives and/or rocket fuel to make their own local version of the ever popular Quassam rocket as used in Gaza to Israel attacks.

3. If this I-NPK is ammonium nitrate-- a hidden remote control explosion, or a planned attack by a Predator UAV and/or military jet could instantly rearrange a Somali seaport and/or city:

The Texas City Explosion-The Worst in American History
The Day a Whole Town Blew Up

The worst explosion in this country's history, the Texas City explosion of 1947 killed over six hundred people. A 441 foot long French ship loaded with ammonium nitrate blew up in the harbor of Texas City on April 16th, 1947 with such force that the Strategic Air Command of the United States and seismologists as far away as Denver actually thought that an atomic bomb had exploded...

..Ammonium nitrate is a powder that is used in fertilizer, but it is also combined with TNT to make bombs during wartime. The Grandcamp was full of about seventeen million pounds of it [8,500 tons]...

..Grandcamp exploded at around quarter after nine with such force that the Texas City explosion could be felt two hundred and fifty miles away in Louisiana. The explosion knocked people to their knees ten miles away in Galveston and broke windows forty miles from its center in Houston...

..More than fourteen million pounds of the ship's steel was sent flying through the air, acting as shrapnel, killing people around the Texas City explosion, decapitating some as they ran...
If something like this happens in a Somali seaport, then the pirates would lose all credibility...

Something to consider if you tightly hug a bag of ammonium nitrate today..OK & Vey?

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

Take that ship AND the oil tanker and you'd have history's largest fuel-fertilizer bomb!

Yep, instead of 'Black Hawk Down', the launch-bomb confirmation signal code would be 'Black Swan Down'.

I highly recommend this series on PBS Jan 13
The Ascent of Money
(now I have to read the book)

watch this video first

Niall Ferguson's The Ascent of Money Comes To PBS in January, Offering a Timely Perspective on the Economy

NEW YORK, Dec. 4 -- One week before a new President who campaigned on a promise to fix the economy takes office, public media provider WNET.ORG is putting the meaning of money into context - where it came from, where it goes, and why it has always been (and always will be) the fulcrum of civilization. The Ascent of Money, a two-hour documentary based on the newly-released book The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World (Penguin Group USA), will premiere on Tuesday, January 13 at 9 p.m. (ET) on PBS (check local listings). The film is written and presented by the bestselling author, economist, historian, and Harvard professor Niall Ferguson. An expanded, four-hour version of The Ascent of Money will air on PBS later in 2009.


I second your recommendation. I've actually read TAOM, and it's eminently accessible to non-experts. It's a bit short on theory though --- more trees than woods, so to speak.

No mention of Minsky of Fisher on debt-deflation, no mention of Austrian economics (Mises et al), no mention of Georgescu-Roegen / Daly et al. Basically, Ferguson thinks inside the box of 'perpetual growth'.

But a roller-coaster read all the same.

Hello TODers,

Looks like Quatar is doing what it can to make people realize that sitting in the dark, then recycling O-NPK in the daylight, is the better path forward for Optimal Overshoot Decline:

Qatar raises LNG prices

NEW DELHI: Following the hike in rates by Qatar, the main supplier of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), rates of LNG have gone up, a development that is likely to impact important sectors such as power and fertilizer. The hike in LNG prices is to the tune of around 26 per cent...
Combined with the Gazprom natgas cutoff: I would assume that this can only roil the LNG global trade market.

I have been an avid peak oil watcher (and activist for that matter) for almost 4 years. I am grateful to all of the people who have posted about Peak Oil and Resource depletion (particularly The Oil Drum, the most comprehensive real-news site on the planet) and worked tirelessly to awaken the world to this impending tragedy.

I would like particularly to thank Chris Martenson and The Crash Course that has taken everything that I've learned to this point and put it accurately and accessible to everyone with an interest to sit down and listen.

I am enclosing a donation (modest, I apologize)to Chris Martenson's site in an effort to encourage him to continue his worthy crusade.


Each time I try to access Chris' site (using IE 7) I get 'Cannot display the webpage". Anyone else having that problem?

works fine for me using IE 6
Don't have 7 and probably never will. I'm on dial up and I'm not spending the time to make that d/l.



well, here it comes. mandatory on every vehicle within 10 yrs.
this should go over over like a led zepplin.

Raising the gas tax to finance more roads and maintain existing ones is purely crazy if we are at Peak Oil. Each state has a different tax as well, ranging from 7.5 cents in Georgia to 32.1 cents in Wisconsin. The differences between states prompts folks to buy their gas in neighboring states which have the lowest taxes, which tends to waste fuel as people drive across borders.

Besides, both federal and state governments haven't been willing to increase gas taxes to keep up with inflation. Here's just one example from Washington State:

Year  Washington St Gas Tax Retail Price of Regular, U.S. Avg. State Gas Tax
of Tax   Cents per in 2005  Price per  in 2005   as % of Retail
Increase  Gallon   Cents     Gallon   Dollars     Price

1949       6.5      43.7      $0.27     $1.80     24.0%
1961       7.5      38.7      $0.31     $1.59     24.4%
1967       9.0      41.4      $0.33     $1.53     27.1%
1977      11.0      28.2      $0.62     $1.60     17.7%
1979      12.0      26.6      $0.90     $2.00     13.3%
1981      13.5      25.1      $1.38     $2.56      9.8%
1983      16.0      26.9      $1.24     $2.09     12.9%
1984      18.0      29.2      $1.21     $1.97     14.9%
1990      22.0      29.7      $1.16     $1.57     18.9% 
1991      23.0      29.9      $1.14     $1.48     20.2%
2003      28.0      29.1      $1.59     $1.66     17.6%
2005      31.0      31.0      $2.55*    $2.55*    12.2%

E. Swanson

led zepplin, big stone head, gps on everything. Fat chance. Just like the Roman empire at the end, trying to inventory everything down to the littlest item so it could be taxed. Of course, those little transponders will start and stop the car, listen in and lock the doors too. Have a safe trip.

I love the smell of fleecing in the morning... a regressive tax... Yeah! That's the ticket!

Anyone know miles driven and avg gas mileage in the US?

Now, if you made this payable via odometer readings (yeah, I know, cheating...) once a year at registration time for your car and made it a progressive schedule by mileage, type and use of vehicle...