DrumBeat: January 15, 2009

Top 7 alternative energies listed

The US could replace all its cars and trucks with electric cars powered by wind turbines taking up less than 3 square kilometres - in theory, at least. That's the conclusion of a detailed study ranking 11 types of non-fossil fuels according to their total ecological footprint and their benefit to human health.

The study, carried out by Mark Jacobson of the atmosphere and energy programme at Stanford University, found wind power to be by far the most desirable source of energy. Biofuels from corn and plant waste came right at the bottom of the list, along with nuclear power and "clean" coal.

The energy sources that Jacobson found most promising were, in descending order:

• Wind

• Concentrated solar power (mirrors heating a tower of water)

• Geothermal energy

• Tidal energy

• Solar panels

• Wave energy

• Hydroelectric dams

Bear market intensifies for crude; prices tumble

NEW YORK – Oil prices flirted with five-year lows Thursday as unemployment benefit claims rose and OPEC cut demand expectations for 2009.

Any belief that energy prices had bottomed out were wiped away early in the day as crude plumbed new depths for the year and more government data suggested the economy may be worsening.

"The bull oil era is officially over," said Phil Flynn, an analyst at Alaron Trading Corp.

Light, sweet crude for February delivery fell 5 percent, or $1.88, to settle at $35.40 a barrel Thursday on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices fell as low as $33.20 Thursday and only gave up steep losses when the Dow Jones industrial average rebounded.

Venezuela's PDVSA Falls Behind on Payments to Oil Service Firms

Venezuela's state-owned energy company is struggling to pay its bills as cash flow dries up due to rock-bottom oil prices.

Petroleos de Venezuela SA has fallen several months behind on payments to oil service companies and other suppliers that keep its oil business running, a source of concern for many in the industry.

State reaches biodiesel milestone

HARRISBURG -- A law enacted last year to reduce Pennsylvania's dependence on foreign oil is starting to pay dividends, Gov. Ed Rendell said today.

Seven Pennsylvania companies that manufacture biodiesel fuel have passed an important milestone -- they can now make at least 40 million gallons of such fuel each year, he said.

Scorpion Scraps Plan to Build $700 Million Rig for Petrobras

(Bloomberg) -- Scorpion Offshore Ltd., a drilling service company, canceled plans to build a $700 million rig that is to be leased for $485,000 a day by Brazil’s state oil company, Petroleo Brasileiro SA, after it was unable to secure financing.

The financing failure forced Scorpion to pull the contract to build the ship at Singapore’s Keppel FELS Ltd. Shipyard to transport the rig, Scorpion’s Chief Executive Officer Jon Cole said in a Jan. 13 interview. Petrobras, as the oil producer is known, agreed in July to lease the rig from Scorpion.

A worldwide credit crunch and a 62 percent plunge in oil prices since a record $147.27 a barrel in July is making it tough for oil service companies to secure loans, Cole said. Transocean Inc., the world’s largest offshore oil driller, disclosed on Jan. 12 the cancellation of a $550,000-a-day rig lease and said a second vessel was idled after the client ran out of cash.

Oil Falls Below $34 After OPEC Reduces 2009 Demand Forecast

(Bloomberg) -- Crude oil fell below $34 a barrel to a four-week low after OPEC said that demand for its crude will decline 4.2 percent this year as the recession curbs fuel use.

EU impotence seen in continuing gas crisis

BRUSSELS: More than a week after the European Union put its credibility on the line by intervening in an energy dispute between Russia and Ukraine, the diplomatic gamble has failed to get the gas flowing - damaging the prestige of the 27-nation bloc in the process.

But after eight days of hectic negotiating, exasperated Europeans now are resting their hopes for a breakthrough on a meeting Friday between Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, and the Russian prime minister, Vladimir Putin, in his first visit to Berlin since he stepped down as president last March.

Were this breakthrough to happen, though, it would only underline Russia's preference for dealing with big European nations individually rather than the EU, further undermining the tattered image of Brussels and the institutional machinery that relies on the rotating presidency, now held by the Czech Republic, to lead Europe's dealings with the rest of the world.

Bulgaria asks neighbors for help in gas shortage

SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) -- Bulgaria's economy minister says he's seeking emergency assistance from neighbors Greece and Turkey amid the European energy crisis caused by the cutoff of natural gas supplies from Russia.

Putin suggests Europe pays to pump needed gas west

MOSCOW (AP) -- European nations shivering amid a cutoff of Russian natural gas should form a consortium to purchase from Russia the fuel that is needed to pump the gas west though Ukraine's pipelines, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin suggested Thursday.

The proposal was a unique suggestion for solving the nine-day crisis that has cut off nearly all gas to some countries and sparked anger in European capitals and homes. But it addresses only one of the many complex and contentious issues dividing Russia, the gas supplier, and Ukraine, the pipeline owner.

Obama's green energy push spotlights Ohio biz

Obama's stimulus sales trip this week will feature Cardinal Fastner, a manufacturing company that has reinvented itself for the alternative-energy future.

A sticky ending for the tar sands

Alberta, which produces two-thirds of Canada’s oil and gas, has been here before. The wrenching oil slump of the 1980s still looms large in the public consciousness. Companies fled the province and thousands abandoned homes they could no longer afford. “The situation is much different this time,” insists the energy minister, Mel Knight, whose Progressive Conservative Party has ruled the province since 1971. Not all of the differences, however, are positive ones.

Mr Knight thinks continuing demand from places like China and India will mean that oil, and thus his province’s economy, will recover faster this time. However, two decades ago there was nothing like the current global credit crunch. Also, Alberta now extracts 60% of its crude from its tar sands (those in the business think “oil sands” sounds nicer), a much bigger proportion than in the 1980s, and concern about the environment and carbon-based fuels is far stronger now.

America's lost manufacturing jobs

Some say tax credits for makers of solar panels and wind turbines could revive the country's industrial sector. Others see it as dangerous market engineering.

Scottish and Southern Energy gets approval for 260MW wind farm off the Dutch coast

LONDON (AP) — The Netherlands government has approved Scottish and Southern Energy's plans to build a 260 megawatt wind farm in the North Sea, the company said Thursday.

The "West Rijn" wind farm, the largest approved in the Netherlands, would consist of 72 turbines moored about 40 kilometers (25 miles) off of the Dutch coast, Scottish and Southern Energy PLC said. The company said its focus was now on getting funding from the Dutch government for the plan.

Gasping for gas

TALK emptily of diversifying supplies while doing little and relying instead on cosy ties with the Russian gas business. That has been the common energy policy in much of eastern Europe in recent years. The row between Ukraine and Russia that has cut off gas to the region now makes it look a huge mistake.

Back on Tracks

Thanks to the collapsing economy, a powerful new consensus has developed in Washington behind a once-in-a-generation investment in infrastructure. The incoming administration is talking of spending as much as $1 trillion to jump-start growth and make up for past neglect, an outlay that Obama himself characterizes as "the single largest new investment in our national infrastructure since the creation of the federal highway system in the 1950s." We’ll soon be moving earth again like it’s 1959.

By all rights, America’s dilapidated rail lines ought to be a prime candidate for some of that spending. All over the country there are opportunities like the I-81/Crescent Corridor deal, in which relatively modest amounts of capital could unclog massive traffic bottlenecks, revving up the economy while saving energy and lives. Many of these projects have already begun, like Virginia’s, or are sitting on planners’ shelves and could be up and running quickly. And if we’re willing to think bigger and more long term—and we should be—the potential of a twenty-first-century rail system is truly astonishing. In a study recently presented to the National Academy of Engineering, the Millennium Institute, a nonprofit known for its expertise in energy and environmental modeling, calculated the likely benefits of an expenditure of $250 billion to $500 billion on improved rail infrastructure. It found that such an investment would get 83 percent of all long-haul trucks off the nation’s highways by 2030, while also delivering ample capacity for high-speed passenger rail. If high-traffic rail lines were also electrified and powered in part by renewable energy sources, that investment would reduce the nation’s carbon emission by 39 percent and oil consumption by 15 percent. By moderating the growing cost of logistics, it would also leave the nation’s economy 10 percent larger by 2030 than it would otherwise be.

U.S. crude oil demand, production down in 2008

The American Petroleum Institute reported Thursday that America’s demand for crude oil fell last year to its lowest level since 2003.

For 2008, U.S. petroleum deliveries decreased by 6 percent, to 19.4 million barrels a day.

Getting real: The high cost of electric cars

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Electric cars have a big role to play in reducing the world's greenhouse gas emissions, but it's going to cost a lot, according to a new report. It could even push automakers into further trouble.

For electric and hybrid vehicles to achieve their environmental potential, the world's governments will need to step in with high levels of financial support for consumers and industry, according to a report by the Boston Consulting Group, a management consulting firm. And the cost savings in fuel won't be nearly enough to provide the incentive without that government cash.

Efficiency vs. Economics

Will the recession prevent hybrid and electric cars from going mainstream?

Automakers all charged up over electric cars

Just a few years ago, the world’s automakers took a scattershot approach to the growing need for alternative-fuel technologies, pursuing strategies for everything from hydrogen fuel cells to ethanol, biodiesel and natural gas.

Now a more well-defined strategy is taking shape. Almost every automaker at this year’s Detroit auto show — from General Motors and Ford to China-based BYD — unveiled plans to create a mass-produced electric car within two or three years. The race to go electric is truly on. The biggest question is, who will be first to the finish line?

Biofuels: The New Alchemy

Paul Woods didn't blindfold me as we drove through the overgrown plantations outside West Palm Beach, Fla., but he looked as if he was considering it. Woods is the brash 46-year-old CEO of biofuels start-up Algenol — and he takes his company's secrecy seriously. Aside from officials from the U.S. Department of Energy, I was the first outsider ever to visit Algenol's modest testing facility. We turned off a country road opposite a llama ranch, and stopped at an unmarked circle of trailers in the middle of a clearing in the palm trees. There, sitting on a section of concrete half the size of a basketball court, was what Woods has been hiding from the world: several rows of long white tubs fitted with plastic windows that let in sunlight, each filled with a liquid the dark green of moss. The mixture was water and algae — microscopic plantlike organisms that feed off sunlight and carbon dioxide. With the proprietary algae happily multiplying, Woods explained that he and his partners intend to produce a biofuel greener and cheaper than oil or corn-fed ethanol: "We want to do 20 billion gallons eventually, and we will compete on price. We're a year away from sales."

Republicans Vow to ‘Battle’ Emission Limits Backed by GE, Duke

(Bloomberg) -- House Republicans vowed today to fight a pollution-reduction plan endorsed by the chief executive officers of General Electric Co., Duke Energy Corp., as well as environmental groups.

“Be prepared for a battle,” Illinois Republican John Shimkus told the Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Shimkus called the cap-and-trade plan backed by GE’s Jeffrey Immelt and Jim Rogers of Duke Energy “a shell game to hide the cost from the ultimate person who is going to pay.”

House Dems offer $825B stimulus bill

Obama is scheduled to promote the bill on Friday in Ohio, where he'll speak with workers at a wind turbine factory. The package calls for $54 billion to double production of alternative energy.

The House proposal -- the American Recovery and Reinvestment bill -- is likely the most expensive spending plan Congress has ever proposed. Obama, who takes office on Tuesday, has called it central to stemming what has become the worst economic crisis in decades.

Bush urges US to stake claim to Arctic territory in last-gasp energy grab

The United States has declared its intention to exploit the vast oil and mineral wealth hidden below the Arctic circle by extending its "sovereign rights" over the seabed.

Road Worriers

These are hopeful times for mass-transit boosters. Public concern over gas prices and exurban home values has prompted voters in Los Angeles and Seattle, for example, to approve half-percent sales-tax hikes for new bus and rail lines. Not only is the federal transportation spending bill up for reauthorization in 2009, but Barack Obama (whose hometown of Honolulu just voted for its own local rail project) has explicitly supported smart-growth agendas, and plans to create a White House Office on Urban Policy.

How might the future look if the New Urbanists have their way? Like an idealized past, according to the suggested reforms they laid out in Charlotte, which they planned to present to Representative James Oberstar of Minnesota, the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. John Norquist, the congress’s president, spoke of replacing elevated freeways through cities with boulevards for driving, biking, walking, and shopping. Geoff Anderson, the president of Smart Growth America, said it was time to build more rail—“the second half of our transportation system,” he called it.

Rouble at record low as Russia faces up to cheap oil

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's rouble hit historic lows versus the dollar and the euro on Thursday as the authorities speed ahead with a devaluation of the currency to adjust to lower oil prices and the worst economic outlook in a decade.

The once-buoyant Russian economy is teetering towards recession because of a slump in demand for its energy and commodity exports and flight from emerging markets.

Greece Buys Two LNG Cargoes to Replace Lost Russia, Caspian Gas

(Bloomberg) -- Greece bought two liquefied natural gas cargoes from the spot market as Russia’s price dispute with Ukraine halted pipeline deliveries for a tenth day, according to three people familiar with the matter.

Greece is now completely relying on ships carrying LNG for its gas needs, said three people on condition of anonymity, citing company policy. Greece’s supply from Azerbaijan through a pipeline across Turkey stopped about a week ago as Turkey is also short of Russian gas, they said.

Iran backs oil bar on Israel supporters

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said today that imposing an oil embargo on backers of Israel over its attack on Gaza was a "good proposal" but said such an idea was not on the agenda yet.

Iraq and Syria map out new pipe

Iraq is planning to build a new pipeline to pump natural gas to Syria, part of its efforts to develop new oil and gas export routes, the Iraqi Oil Ministry Hussain al-Shahristani said today.

Shahristani met Syrian ambassador Nawaf Aboud al-Sheikh Faris in Baghdad to discuss co-operation in oil and gas between countries that have restored diplomatic ties in recent years after a decades-long freeze.

Solar Manufacturing: Not So Sunny

“From the manufacturers’ standpoint, it’s pretty serious,” said Bill Stewart, president of SolarCraft, a California installer, in a conversation with Green Inc. Until last summer there were still shortages of solar modules (which in turn were due to shortages of the polysilicon material they are made from), so installers like SolarCraft sometimes had to badger manufacturers to make sure they would get enough panels.

Now, said Mr. Stewart, the situation is reversed, and manufacturers are calling installers to say, “‘Hey, do you need any product this month? Can I sell you a bit more?’”

Phosphorus matters: soil erosion & contamination

Each year some 13.5 million tons of bananas alone are exported around the world, containing 4,000,000 kg of elemental phosphorus up taken by the plants from tropical soils. And most of this phosphorus never comes back to the soil it was removed from. Yes, but can’t the farmers replace the nutrients lost using fertilizers? That’s what the fertilizers are used for, are they not? Sure they can. Farmers can buy a bag of ground phosphate rocks or guano (bird or bat droppings) or even a bag of artificial fertilizer such as superphosphate if they don’t farm organically. No problem. They can replace every kilogram of phosphorus taken from the soil by plants and sent overseas with their produce.

Where Is Oil Going Next?

HOUSTON — From the Indian Ocean to the South Atlantic to the Gulf of Mexico, giant supertankers brimming with oil are resting at anchor or slowly tracing racetrack patterns through the sea, heading nowhere.

The ships are marking time, serving as floating oil-storage tanks. The companies and countries leasing them for that purpose have made a simple calculation: the price of oil has fallen so far that it is due for a rise.

Some producing countries are trying to force that rise by using the tankers to withhold oil from the market, while traders are trying to profit by buying cheap oil now to store and sell at a higher price later. Oil storage has become so popular that onshore tank capacity is becoming scarce.

34 Offshore Platforms in GOM Still Shut-In after Hurricanes Gustav and Ike

From the operators' reports, it is estimated that approximately 11.0% of the oil production in the Gulf is shut-in. As of June 2008, estimated oil production from the Gulf of Mexico is 1.3 million barrels of oil per day. It is also estimated that approximately 15.0% of the natural gas production in the Gulf is shut-in. As of June 2008, estimated natural gas production from the Gulf of Mexico was 7.0 billion cubic feet of gas per day. Since that time, gas production from the Independence Hub facility has increased and current gas production from the Gulf is estimated at 7.4 billion cubic feet of gas per day.

Oil's Range

The oil market is caught in a crosscurrent between fears of declining demand and the potential for global supply to come down sharply in the first few months of 2009. For at least the next two to three months, I suspect these opposing forces will keep oil locked in a range between roughly $30 a barrel on the downside and around $50 to $55 on the upside.

A Worst-Case Commodity Scenario

Even though commodity prices are already down by large amounts, we now have the possibility of an ugly earnings shock for Aussie resource producers in the first and second quarters of this year. Whether this is already priced into resource shares is a question we'll deal with in a moment.

But it would be wise to not underestimate the possibility of a massive, earnings-crushing double whammy for resources. First, is rapidly contracting global industrial production. This could lead to an unpleasant (and not priced-in) decline in Australia's export earnings. Financial earnings have already been decimated by the credit crisis. Now that the crisis is storming into the real economy, are resource earnings next?

Europe energy crisis pushes LNG to the fore

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The disruption of gas supplies from Russia to Europe since Jan. 1 will bolster calls for more liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals to diversify supply of the key heating and industrial fuel to the region.

Electricity restrictions looming?

BELGRADE -- Serbia’s electricity sector is entering 2009 suffering from the same problems that have blighted it for the last 20 years.

The countries in the region, which have previously suffered from a chronic lack of electrical energy, suddenly find themselves with a surplus.

However this surplus is only of a temporary nature, brought about by the global recession and a fall in output. A drop in demand has led to falling electricity prices.

US Government Opens More Land for Oil Shale Research

The federal government opened Wednesday the second round of land leases for oil shale research in the western United States.

The Bureau of Land Management is soliciting nominations for parcels to be leased in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming, according to the agency's news release.

Mexico to Seek Talks with Obama Admin on Border Oil Fields

Mexico expects to hold talks with the incoming Obama administration concerning the "fair" development of oil fields that sit on both sides of the maritime border, Energy Minister Georgina Kessel said Wednesday.

"We expect that, as soon as officials from the new administration are in office, these conversations will advance," Kessel told lawmakers at a hearing.

Sirius en route to a ‘safe point’

DAMMAM – The Sirius Star, Saudi Aramco’s very large crude carrier, is now en route to a safe point after its release by Somali pirates, a company spokesman said.

He did not confirm whether the oil supertanker will berth in Dubai, where the base operation of Vela International Marine Ltd., owner of the ship and a subsidiary of Saudi Aramco, is headquartered.

Company silent over crew's salaries after pirate attack

The shipping company at the centre of the latest pirate hijacking in the Gulf of Aden has refused to comment on whether it will start paying its crews extra danger money.

Forget climate change: a fossil fuel future is a fantasy

The latest annual figures available from BP’s authoritative Statistical Review of World Energy 2008 (PDF 6.32MB) show that energy use grew 2.4 per cent from 2006 to 2007. If we use this number as escalation against 200 years at current usage, we actually only have 75 years of fossil fuels left. Allow a more aggressive growth rate of 5 per cent to factor in industrialisation of currently less developed countries, and fossil fuels will be gone in 50 years.

John Michael Greer: The future that wasn't

Despite the claims of importance noted above, serious literature rarely has a major impact on society. Its readership is too small and too well educated to slip into the uncritical enthusiasm that shapes the imagination of an age. Most often it turns out to be the popular literature, the reading material of housewives, factory workers, and schoolchildren, that reaches into the crawlspaces of culture where the future takes shape. By shedding literary credentials and wrapping itself in the gaudy finery of the pulp magazines, science fiction worked its way into the collective imagination of the modern world.

In this way, drawing on the passionate modern belief in the goodness and necessity of progress, science fiction in its pulp days transformed itself from a somewhat esoteric literary genre to a folk mythology that still shapes most of our thinking about the future today. Onto the blank screen of infinite space, as a result, the modern imagination projects all the dreams, fantasies and fears other cultures assign to more obviously metaphysical realms. Many of the essays I’ve posted on this blog have focused on disputing assumptions about the future that root straight back into the science fiction of the pulp era.

Pickens spreads oil dependency message

SAN ANTONIO — T. Boone Pickens included a stop in San Antonio Wednesday in his ongoing campaign to lessen the United States’ dependence on foreign oil.

The famed oil magnate has toured the country for the last year, preaching the seriousness of an impending energy crisis, as well as pushing his plan to use natural gas and other means to move the country toward energy independence.

2009 Chevrolet Tahoe 4WD Hybrid

Some people may be wondering why Chevrolet is building a 6.0-liter V8 Tahoe with hybrid technology that costs over $56,000 and gets only a small increase in fuel economy (EPA ratings of 20 miles per gallon city and 20 mpg highway), and the answer is that a lot of people want a full-size truck that can tow over 6,000 pounds.

Chevrolet (and General Motors as a whole, with the GMC Yukon Hybrid) have thrown just about every fuel-economy trick in the tech manual at the Tahoe and Yukon hybrids, including regenerative braking to recharge the battery pack, dual-mode technology that allows the Yukon to run on four cylinders in cruise mode, and even a full assortment of aerodynamic trucks at what are actually huge boxes on wheels.

Morgan Stanley Said to Seek Supertanker to Store Crude Oil

(Bloomberg) -- Morgan Stanley is seeking a supertanker to store crude oil, joining Citigroup Inc. and Royal Dutch Shell Plc in trying to profit from higher prices later in the year, four shipbrokers said.

The bank, the second-biggest U.S. securities firm until becoming a bank-holding company in September, has yet to find a suitable vessel, said one of the brokers. The shipbrokers asked not to be identified because the information is private. Carlos Melville, a spokesman for Morgan Stanley in London, declined to comment, in an e-mail today.

“There’s a lot of people looking for storage,” Denis Petropoulos, London-based head of tankers at Braemar Shipping Services Plc, the world’s second-largest publicly traded shipbroker, said by phone.

Chávez Allows West to Make Oil Bids as Prices Plunge

CARACAS, Venezuela — President Hugo Chávez, buffeted by falling oil prices that threaten to damage his efforts to establish a Socialist-inspired state, is quietly courting Western oil companies once again.

Until recently, Mr. Chávez had pushed foreign oil companies here into a corner by nationalizing their oil fields, raiding their offices with tax authorities and imposing a series of royalties increases.

But faced with the plunge in prices and a decline in domestic production, senior officials have begun soliciting bids from some of the largest Western oil companies in recent weeks — including Chevron, Royal Dutch/Shell and Total of France — promising them access to some of the world’s largest petroleum reserves, according to energy executives and industry consultants here.

Their willingness to even consider investing in Venezuela reflects the scarcity of projects open to foreign companies in other top oil nations, particularly in the Middle East.

But the shift also shows how the global financial crisis is hampering Mr. Chávez’s ideological agenda and demanding his pragmatic side. At stake are no less than Venezuela’s economic stability and the sustainability of his rule. With oil prices so low, the longstanding problems plaguing Petróleos de Venezuela, the national oil company that helps keep the country afloat, have become much harder to ignore.

Cheap oil not here to stay: Ex-Talisman CEO

HALIFAX — Consumers shouldn't get too comfortable with cheap gasoline, because the planet is running out of oil and prices will go "sky high" — as high as $20 per litre — as petroleum reserves dwindle in the coming years.

That's the view of Jim Buckee, the British oilman who was CEO of Calgary-based Talisman Energy Inc., one of Canada's largest energy producers, from 1993 to 2007.

Mexico sees daily oil at 3 million barrels by 2015

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico will develop new oil fields to boost sagging output to 3 million barrels a day by 2015, while asking the U.S. to cooperate in tapping deep water deposits along the maritime border, a top energy official said Wednesday.

New wells, gas injections and increased deep water exploration will help revive oil production, which fell 10 percent in 2008, Energy Secretary Georgina Kessel told Congress.

Output will hover at 2.7 to 2.8 million barrels a day through 2010, and start increasing in 2011 to reach 3 million barrels a day in 2015, Kessel said.

OPEC Jan Report: Revises Down Slightly 2009 World Oil Demand

LONDON -(Dow Jones)- The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries on Thursday made additional downward revisions to global oil demand in 2009 and hinted it may still have to cut even more production if economic activity and crude prices continue to stumble.

"The considerable uncertainty about the course of the (economic) recovery implies the potential for further deterioration in world oil demand growth this year," OPEC said in its monthly oil market report for January.

Ukraine rejects Russia's latest gas request

KIEV, Ukraine – Ukraine rejected Russia's latest request to pipe natural gas westward to increasingly frustrated EU consumers on Thursday, deepening the bitter economic and political dispute that has paralyzed energy shipments to Europe.

Desperate to restore supplies, the European Union said it was ready to join a weekend meeting between Russia and Ukraine to seek a solution to the crisis that has left eastern Europe frantically scrambling for heat, light and power.

Russia no longer reliable gas supplier-IEA

MADRID (Reuters) - Russia has lost its status as a reliable gas supplier to Europe after European Union states were cut off for days from Russian gas, the International Energy Agency (IEA), said on Thursday.

The agency advises top industrialised countries on energy policy.

"Russia has cut off its status as being a reliable gas supplier to Europe," IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol told a conference in Madrid.

Brazil Industrial Electricity Consumption Falls 18%, Folha Says

The plastic and rubber, iron-mining and steel industries consumed 45 percent less power, while usage by automakers fell 37 percent, the newspaper said. Electricity consumption fell 1 percent compared with the year-earlier month, Folha said.

Gulf Arab sovereign funds lost big on investment bets despite record oil gain, research shows

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Gulf Arab governments' funds are billions of dollars poorer despite record oil prices because of losses in stocks and other investments, a report due out Wednesday said.

Oil Price Lower on Inventory Numbers, But It Can't Go Much Lower

For sure we could see a further drop in oil prices, but to what point? Could we once again see $10 oil? Not likely, even with the fantasy idea that the so-called evil speculators are and will continue to be driving the price of oil down.

Even with a drastic drop in the price, it would be short lived unless some game changing technology displaces oil as the leading source of gas and diesel. Short of a game changer, it's hard to picture a world that will see sub $20 oil again.

European Inflation Slows to Two-Year Low on Energy

(Bloomberg) -- Europe’s inflation rate dropped to the lowest in more than two years in December as energy prices fell and consumers cut spending, giving the European Central Bank scope to lower interest rates to tackle the deepening recession.

Analysis: There'll be no more cheap energy

History will tell us that, however unbelievable this 'super-spike' had become, it was inevitable.

And just as inevitable was the crash that followed, taking the oil price all the way back down to below $40 in just six months.

The super-spike, it is now clear, was fuelled by an extraordinary combination of circumstances.

Sakhalin Energy launches gas production on Far East platform

MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) - Sakhalin Energy has launched gas production for the first time from the Lunskoye-A (LUN-A) platform 15 km (9 miles) northeast off Sakhalin, in Russia's Far East, the company said in a statement on Thursday.

Qatar liquid gas plant shut down; probe under way

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) -- A Qatar official says investigators are trying to determine what caused a breakdown that has halted about a third of the country's liquefied natural gas output.

The Qatargas official says the country's Qatargas I plant has been shut since January 8, because of a "mechanical failure."

He says the plant's customers in Japan and Spain are "aware of what's going on."

Peak oil, energy depletion and Lompoc’s future

The new year is starting off with a thud — 2009 has brought us an economy in the midst of a major downturn, job losses by the millions, and rising prices in food, fuels and electricity. Looking around Lompoc, it seems one business after another is closing its doors or reducing its size.

If you’re like me, you’re spending time rethinking your personal expenses and cutting back to only what is necessary. The extras are getting fewer and farther between for many of us.

Hidden beneath these issues is something you likely haven’t heard much about on most radio stations, in newspapers, or on your evening news. It is, however, very real and is a growing threat. I’m talking about peak oil production.

Placing a gigantic one-way bet against the planet

In thrall to the dominant myths spun by economic theorists, “capitalist societies are locked into their own self-reverential, self-validating beliefs – a situation that makes them less flexible and more vulnerable to breakdown”, wrote Homer-Dixon.

In adopting high-growth globalisation, humanity has in effect placed a gigantic one-way bet against the planet. The tab for this financial psychosis runs into billions, but a more enduring legacy has been the prodigal spending down of natural capital which, had economists bothered to value it, would be tallied in trillions.

Groups sue BLM over oil and gas leases

A coalition of environmental groups is suing the Bureau of Land Management, claiming the agency violated several federal laws and policies in granting oil and gas leases on more than 68,000 acres of public land in New Mexico.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in federal court by the Western Environmental Law Center, accuses the agency of not addressing global warming by failing to quantify or reduce greenhouse gas emissions that result from oil and gas operations. The suit also says the BLM has not adopted policies aimed at making drilling more efficient.

Leading the way to sustainability on the South Coast

Global warming concerns, a year-long debate over a wind farm on Buzzards Bay, grass-roots opposition to a local LNG facility in Fall River, this summer's stunning spike in gas prices, the president-elect's fervent promise to make renewable energy development a cornerstone of his economic stimulus package... the list of 2008 headlines related to sustainability issues could go on and on.

Looking back and looking ahead, you can see that slowly but surely, a green revolution is coming to America, to our small towns and struggling cities. The farmer's markets, the backyard windmills, the hybrid cars in local driveways, the community garden planners scouting city-owned lots for plots to farm— all are signs of a blossoming South Coast sustainability effort that should continue to flourish in 2009.

How will our town cope when the oil begins to run out?

Transitions Towns is an international movement gaining more and more support, as the realisation begins to dawn that the world has reached the top of what is called the 'peak oil' curve which will create the need for communities to become less reliant on oil and able to depend on its own resources to as great an extend as possible. For example, growing more food locally will lessen the reliance on imports. Other initiatives could include a garden share scheme, re-skilling courses e.g. painting, knitting, planting nut or fruit trees, how to repair things and herbal medicine.

Solar energy's darker side stirs concern

Everybody loves solar, the shiny superstar of renewable energy.

But scratch the surface of the manufacturing process and the green sheen disappears. Vast amounts of fossil fuels are used to produce and transport panels. Solar cells contain toxic materials. Some components can't be easily recycled.

As fed steps up, states step back on solar funding

NEW YORK (AP) — Homeowners who waited until this year to install rooftop solar panels and take advantage of a hefty new government subsidy might not get the payback they anticipated.

As federal subsidies are rolled out, states under severe economic strain and utilities have slashed their own solar incentives, and as a result, cut the expected discount by thousands of dollars in some cases.

Biofuels ad banned by ASA after George Monbiot complaint

A complaint to the advertising watchdog by Guardian columnist and environmental campaigner George Monbiot has caused a national press ad claiming biofuels offer a sustainable alternative to oil to be banned.

Growth in Energy Use Could Drop 22 Percent by 2030 Under Right Conditions: Report

PALO ALTO, Calif. -- With the help from efficiency programs, energy users in the U.S. could reduce the growth rate of consumption by 22 percent in the next 20 years -- a reduction equivalent to 14 times the electricity used annually in New York City, according to a new report.

Saving the Economy, One Furnace at a Time

Let's look at what my $5,000 purchased. It supported Trane's factory workers in New Jersey and in their main plant in Tyler, Texas, supported local Seattle installers, and supported beleaguered New Jersey, Texas, and Washington state and city governments through the sales tax I paid and the taxes paid by the companies involved. In my personal economy, it meant I'll save more than a third of my yearly gas bill and a commensurate amount of my CO2 emissions.

...So how do we make similar choices affordable for everyone, whether or not they have the savings to do this on their own? Imagine if the pending stimulus package helped people make such investments nationwide, combining direct incentives with low or no-interest loans, along the lines of those long advocated by Al Gore. Imagine if it prioritized energy efficiency and investment in renewables, particularly those that are American-made.

Australians 'in denial over rising population'

The United Nation's Population Fund is concerned that population growth in Asia averages 1.1 per cent a year. Australia, as a First World country, should have a much lower growth rate. It does not. By the end of the Howard era, our annual population growth had risen to a stunning 1.5 per cent: almost off the First World scale and high even for Third World countries. (Indonesia's, by contrast, was then 1.3 per cent, but has recently come down, with much effort, to 1.2 per cent.)

Under the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, our rate has increased. According to Bureau of Statistics figures, it is now 1.7 per cent. Both natural increase and net migration continue to rise. At this rate, one which many are determined to maintain or increase, our population will reach 42 million by 2051. By the end of the century, it will pass 100 million.

This is far above any credible estimate of the population Australia could hope to feed.

Peak Phosphorus - Commence Urine Recyling on Space Station Earth

First there was “Peak Oil’, then there was talk of ‘Peak Water’, but ‘Peak Phosphorus’, may trump them all as a sustainability issue without rival.

Fact: Phosphorus is a non-renewable resource for which there is no substitute.

Schwarzenegger plans upset environmental groups

As Schwarzenegger and lawmakers struggle to contain a ballooning deficit, he has insisted that any budget deal include a provision suspending state environmental review for certain public works projects.

The governor said that would fast-track infrastructure projects and put Californians back to work quickly. He said his proposal would accelerate construction on 10 road projects around the state, noting at a recent news conference: "It's about jobs, jobs, jobs."

Obama EPA pick aims to revisit California car rules

Automakers could quickly face tough new rules limiting global warming pollution from new models in more than a dozen states after President-elect Barack Obama’s nominee to run the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Wednesday she would tackle the debate soon.

Transport can help propel world to greener future: UN

TOKYO (Reuters) - Shipping, airlines and road transport need to clean up their emissions and help drive governments towards policies to fight global warming, a top U.N. official said on Thursday.

The transport sector accounts for more than 20 percent of mankind's carbon dioxide emissions, and further growth is likely given rising demand for cars, goods and travel in developing countries.

If only we had a columnist like George Monbiot in the USA. This is remarkable too in that the UK has different interpretations of libel and slander, and Monbiot takes a risk of generating defamation cases against himself anytime he opens his mouth.

If only we had a columnist like George Monbiot in the USA.

We do. The problem is in the Control Room.
The US populace is responding. The issue is being addressed now as the US
Media is being ignored.

Reading your comment Mc,I had the thought that we all just want to continue to "live the life of riley" and got curious as to the origins of the term. So I looked it up;

The expression, "Living the life of Riley" suggests an ideal life of prosperity and contentment, possibly living on someone else's money, time or work. Rather than a negative freeloading or golddigging aspect, it instead implies that someone is kept or advantaged. The expression was popular in the 1880s, a time when James Whitcomb Riley's poems depicted the comforts of a prosperous home life [1], but it could have an Irish origin: After the Reilly clan consolidated its hold on County Cavan, they minted their own money, accepted as legal tender even in England. These coins, called “O'Reillys” and “Reilly's,” became synonymous with a monied person, and a gentleman freely spending was “living on his Reillys.” Thus, the radio-TV title has an ironic edge.

Beneath this stone lies Murphy
We buried him today
He lived the life of Reilly
While Reilly was away.

Monbiot is sometimes called 'Moonbat' by his detractors.

It is true that he is something of an intellectual lightweight, a champagne socialist and successful self-publicist. He has built a successful career out of highlighting the social, economic, environmental and political insanities, inequalities and injustices of modern life. He is high enough profile for his sting to hurt, and occasionally has successes. He does know about peak oil, but does not seem to understand the wider implications of constrained energy or the limits to growth. He tends to downplay resource constraints, preferring to emphasise environmental degradation and climate change. He sees peak oil as a distraction from these more important issues.

The problem with Wing Nuts is they've been
wrong across the board for at least eight years
and still act like they control the winning agenda.

Monbiot is like Fisk. Nice intro for the elementary
but you need to quickly boot up to wealth disparity
and why trillions (unaccounted for see Citi/BoA/JPM) are still being thrown at a growth MEME
with zero future.

$8.5 Trillion of your dollars has been unaccountably thrown
away with zero effect.

"You were told repeatedly that the EESA/TARP would not work. Not only by me (I also offered an alternative that would have worked), but over one hundred degreed economists sent you a document saying so. The American People rejected the EESA/TARP by anywhere from 100:1 to 300:1 in phone calls, letters and faxes to your offices. YOU PASSED IT ANYWAY.
-Karl Denninger


Oil and grains will continue to fall while deleveraging
is completed.

cheney was interviewed on npr's news hour w/ jim lerher. he spewed the typical neo-con drivel about sadam and obl, wmd's and the virtues of torture and blamed the financial meltdown on the democrat controlled congress. and when pressed on the economy, claimed no one saw it coming. i only wonder how this guy can lie so skillfully.

Arrest Cheney now.

I mean really. This economy will not improve until
we see the quality and quantity of the perp walks.

This is massive fraud. To cover the bankruptcy of 1985.

Same time OPEC mysteriously jumped their reserves BTW.

i wanted to shoot the tv.

Dick Cheney was quoted saying a few years ago that "Reagan proved that deficits don't matter". The reality is that deficits don't matter, until they do. They didn't then because we were in the middle of blowing our ponzi scheme debt bubble with fiat money and credit. Now deficits do matter. They will matter even more when the punch bowl gets pulled away by our foreign creditors.

Exactly. I can smoke a cigarette and not drop dead, but that doesn't PROVE that smoking doesn't matter to my health.

Hi termite,

re: "The reality is that deficits don't matter, until they do."


Torture doesn't matter - unless it's you.

(Sorry, I really couldn't resist.) (Wait, that's not taking responsibility.) I could resist, but...

"i only wonder how this guy can lie so skillfully"

Probably because of his audience:

"about 1 in 7 can't read it. They're illiterate"

It is not just the illiterate. Even many literate have impaired reasoning ability or little at all.

As demonstrated again and again by posts on this site, errors of logic abound. Things that are different are compared, added, subtracted, divided and multiplied. Some even go so far as to call it science apparently because the numbers add up.

They do not understand that arguments can be mathematically true and still be completely false because bad logic was used in the calculations.

I love it when you are being ironical.

It looks like 'x' has become an unbound variable.

Hush, don't tell "x" nor "kdolliso" about the findings from Professor Mark Jacobson at Stanford University. Discussed at the bottom. Ask them at least not to look at #11 in this table .

He tends to downplay resource constraints, preferring to emphasise environmental degradation and climate change. He sees peak oil as a distraction from these more important issues.

Which is the more important side of a coin, the heads side or the tails side? Resource depletion issues and environmental degradation/climate change are the opposite sides of the same coin. Emphasizing the importance of one side to the neglect of the other is short sighted and counterproductive. If this "Moonbat" guy errors in placing excessive emphasis on one side of the coin, many posters on TOD and elsewhere error in the other direction. Homo is facing a double whammy and resource depletion & environmental degradation need to be addressed together as they both stem from the common cause of human overpopulation.

Speaking of brave campaigners like George Monbiot, this is the one I have always found most impressive:


Basically the guy was a renowned Geographer and had a career writing about travelling the planet and making TV [presumably for good money]. Every program he has made since this decision has only been in the UK - some have been excellent like 'Coast', but somewhat limiting his career choices.


Astounding principles. Nick, I salute you.

Well, it's easier to stop travelling AFTER you've been everywhere...

Right about him bieng an intellectual lightweight. A reviewer of a tv programme he was in said that without global warming he would have ended up as a geography teacher.

"Russia has cut off its status as being a reliable gas supplier to Europe," IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol told a conference in Madrid.


Europe has invaded Russia for the last time.

The body of NATO is being visited by that "Nursing Home
Cat". You know, the one that always knows when a patient
is at death's door.

Latvia Is Shaken by Riots Over Its Weak Economy.

In Bulgaria on Wednesday, separate riots broke out in the capital, Sofia, after more than 2,000 people — including students, farmers and environmental activists — demonstrated in front of Parliament over economic conditions, Reuters reported.


The countries that used to be under the control of the Soviet Union (USSR) are now falling apart.
Russia may step in and re-establish the USSR.
Free market economies have their risks that these people are not accustomed to dealing with.

Believe me, Russia does not want the welfare leech paradise called the USSR anymore. The resentment against Russia is too high in eastern Europe for any sort of revanche. The only important thing is that the current economic mess does not lead to WWIII.

Where's my rec button when I need it?

This comes under the category: No S***?!.

More lunacy from my Government:

Taxpayers will fund loans for car buyers

Yes, perfect. Impotent, panicked governments around the world join the circle jerk.

And then couple that with "As fed steps up, states step back on solar funding." But of course we will spend "more money for roads and bridges(aka BAU),"...

The world economy is collapsing. The american public seems to believe the Obama/Spiderman ticket is going to make things "normal" again... soon. Everyone and their mother is buying oil "while it's cheap" and trying to find some crevice to store it in

Most people are just not paying attention to this world-wide mass stupidity right now.

But I would not be surprised to see some revolutions in currently "developed" countries within the next 5 years.

I've put together some graphs showing how oil and gas demand have rebounded from lows experienced during last September and October:


It appears that low prices are causing demand to rebound a bit. Total products supplied is flirting with 20 million bpd again.

I've also provided a seasonally-adjusted comparison between gasoline consumption in 2007 and 2008, showing that demand is indeed rebounding.

I sometimes forget that not all the world burns WTI.


Apart from Alaskan, ALL grades are $7 - $13 / barrel more expensive. The market looks very broken.

Peak phosphorous cited above.
It is more tecno folly to seperate urine from feces. Our children or grand children will not be able to afford either the sewage infrastructure that is even now collapsing, or fancy high tech toilets. However there is a low tech method of recovering all nutrients from human excrement and we do NOT want to seperate feces from urine. Please see the link below and if nothing else read the chapter on The Tau of Composting.
This of course requires a total life styl change and our embracing some humility in terms of our relationship with our own ecosystem.
Best hopes for a gentle humbling.

In home urinals. That'll work for separating it at least half the time. As for the other half... Well, Japan has urinals for gals. (Seriously).

...not sure I'm going to be able to sell this to the wife -she thinks peeing in the shower is rude...


I've been collecting my humanure in plastic buckets and composting it (along with all kitchen & garden waste) for 5+ years now. After aging it all goes back on my garden -- yummy!

I've embraced what my rear end makes and I'm proud of it -- I'm a human earthworm on god's stray animal farm.

Who needs guns to stay safe from marauding hordes when all I need to do is start flinging my poo at any poachers come round my door! That'll be the day TSHTF where I live.

Have you hugged your butt today. ;-)

Major Kudos

Top Comment of 2009 (so far)

Love it.

My wife has so far drawn two lines: no chickens and no humanure!


Your wife must have some amazing attributes if you are prepared to keep her under these conditions.
Chickens and Humanure are way high on the self-sufficiency agenda.

Have you hugged your butt today. ;-)

LOL! Agreed, Top Posting of the Year![or should that be best bottom posting?] :)

Brilliant! LMAO!

Re link above "Mexico sees daily oil at 3 million barrels by 2015"

Aha. Nothing to worry about. Alarmists!

Right, it is easy to compensate for a supergiant field in terminal decline. Peakoil theory proven in more than 50 countries doesn't count for Mexico.

We gotta get there first.John

Invade Mexico!

Worked in Iraq... Come on, why not here?

Mexico does not have the high level of oil reserves that Iraq has.

You are absolutely right.

But, Venezuela has 7x the reserves of Mexico... Invade Venezuela!

Placing a gigantic one-way bet against the planet

In thrall to the dominant myths spun by economic theorists, “capitalist societies are locked into their own self-reverential, self-validating beliefs – a situation that makes them less flexible and more vulnerable to breakdown”, wrote Homer-Dixon.

It is difficult to imagine anyone being more isolated from reality than the economists and financial "experts" that Homer-Dixon takes aim at.

But last night I stumbled upon the perfect metaphor for today's elite finance industry crowd in Alice Goldfarb Marquis' Art Lessons.

With the nomination of Timothy F. Geithner to Treasury Secretary, Obama has apparently decided he is going to make the leap from avant-garde to "cutting edge" economics:


This is the same trajectory the National Endowment for the Arts followed. Not content to lavish federal grants on avant-garde artists so they could host wine parties for LA's toni arts set, treating them to the awesome spectacle of wrapping an abandoned industial building with barbed wire, it progressed to making grants to "cutting edge" artists so they could willfully offend the deeply held morals and values of many, if not most, Americans. Recipients included Andres Serrano's Piss Christ, Robert Maplethorpe's photographic images of explicit sex acts and David Wojnarowicz' diatribe in which he called New York's Cardinal John Joseph O'Connor "a fat fucking cannibal," to name only a few of the instances that Goldfarb elaborates.

And so apparently Obama is sending a not-too-subtle message to the American people to just "piss off".

I also loved Goldfarb's description of Congress:

This unruly behemoth, five hundred rampant bourgeios politicians with access to five hundred microphones...[s]urrounded by staff and sycophants, reminded daily of its wisdom and power, free from the average citizen's concerns, whether petty frustrations over traffic jams and parking or major cares over jobs, retirement income, and health care. Congress lives largely within a fictional world.

And then this morning there was a great line in a NY Times story:

Bank of America May Receive More Bailout Money

Private investors are no longer willing to pour in new money to the banks, he added. “The government is the only option if there isn’t time to earn the capital back,” he said.


This harkens back to what Goldfarb wrote about the reason the Federal government felt compelled to underwrite avant-garde and cutting edge art:

"You almost never hear members of the public saying, 'Hey! Let's all voluntarily chip in and pay a sculptor $100,000 to fill this park space with what appears to be the rusted remains of a helicopter crash!' ...The government supports the arts for the same reason it purchases $400,000 fax machines and keeps dead radioactive beagles in freezers: Nobody else is willing to do it." (Quote by Dave Barry)

It used to be they let bad banks fail and good banks grow. The bad ones were liquidated, their assets sold on the auction block. Now in days after gambling fever when people bought credit swaps insuring mortgages without any insurance funds to back them the pyramid sheme came tumbling down. Why should taxpaying citizens by asked to bail out bad management that may have collectively caused trillions of dollars of damage. Why reward bad behaviour? Why not make laws to ban this sort of thing? What is the risk in a public government accepting private debt? The public sector was supposed to be responsible for public projects, not taking stock in worthless companies.

We began indemnifying the finance industry for its bad decisions back in the early 1980s, and it's been like a snowball rolling down hill ever since, gaining speed and size as it goes. Kevin Phillips in Bad Money does a terrific job of detailing the trend.

Back to the metaphor of arts and the finance industry, here's more from Goldfarb (and I think you Austrians and other libertarians will love this):

As it sought to maintain failing arts institutions, the NEA and other public funders introduced into the arts ecology a system similar to a zoo. In a zoo, selected animals are sheltered from natural predators and fed regularly; decently housed and given superior medical care, the animals survive and multiply, giving pleasure and enlightenment to multitudes of visitors... But the animal they find in the zoo is only a shadow of the animal in the wild. It has lost some of its most precious characteristics: the ability to forage, to hunt, to travel, to choose its mates, and, ultimately, to adapt to new environments... This existence results in a semidomesticated beast that cannot possibly return to the wild. Caged, the leopard has the spots, but it has lost its bite. The comfort of zoo life has stolen the animal's stealth, speed, and cunning; the talent, if you will, for adapting itself to freedom...

With all due respect, the arts organizations and the artists who depend on subsidies for their survival are analagous to the creatures in the zoo. Some, like many struggling symphony orchestras, may well be endangered individuals, but the species Orchestra americanus is itself endangered when the best must compete with a mediocre multitude maintained on artificial life support. Nor will the best move in new directions when they can depend on government entitlements to support the same old activities...

The promise of money has lured them all into the safe, orderly, predictable environment of the culutral zoo. True, life outside is riskier; for some it presents a remorseless universe of tooth and claw. But the arts have survived far longer without government intervention than with subsidies. Artists work their magic because they must, and they work best in the wild. It is time to turn the animals loose.

The arts have survived far longer without government intervention? Have you seen any piece of 5000-year-old Egyptian art more than a foot tall that wasn't part of a government project? This author apparently doesn't think that mass extinction of animals is happening under capitalism, so it's no surprise he considers "wild" free-market art to be the crap on ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox - shows and commercials alike.

What he says about zoo animals is in fact what is happening to all artists and all human beings in the global economy; we are stupider, lazier and slower than our ancestors, bred to entertain and consume. Shakespeare's plays (part of a state-supported industry) were part of working-class entertainment in the English-speaking world for centuries; now we lack the attention span to sit through them.

Goldfarb sounds like the Rush L. of critics, from what I read above.

I read a number of articles and books from the perspective of right-wing American religious perspectives when I was still immersed in that subculture. They often sounded just the same as Goldfarb -- some 25 or 30 years ago.

Many so-called cultural and political conservatives and libertarians eat this sort of nonsense up. Pick out some things that shock and offend many people who do not think at all -- it is best to pick out things that combine sex and religion -- then tell people "your tax dollars paid for this...."


Some tiny, infinitesimal slice of the pie went to some artists doing things most folks do not care enough to know about or know enough to care about.

Meanwhile, the military-industrial-complex robs, rapes, and steals with a huge portion of our tax dollars corruptly spent, and raises a giant middle finger to God and All of God's Children by torturing and killing combatants and noncombatants of all ages, by supplying every warlord on the planet with a cornucopia of weapons, and not a peep is heard about that rather glaring blasphemy.

Let the Kill-Off continue -- but God help us if a homosexual artist or an artist who is offended at the blasphemy of the "I have a Little Plastic Jesus In My Pocket So God Promised me a Rose Garden and F*** everyone else!" crowd.

Sigh. And do we have hope for change. Change for hope? Buddy, can you spare a dime?

It boggles the mind to see how many on the left still fail to see what incompetent political operatives they have been. For while the left was occupied expending its political capital building zoos for artists, the right was expending its capital building zoos for bankers and financiers. This is how Robert Huges puts it:

[T]here is no block in Congress or the Senate that truly represents the needs or opinions of people in the enormous central band of American life where workers and the middle class overlap...

At least the GOP seemed to have an economic policy, though it failed. It was nicknamed the trickle-down theory: the rigidly ideological prescription that a free ride for the rich would generate money for the middling and poor. The Democrats had none that they could sell to an electorate. They didn't like talking about nuts and bolts and jobs. Instead, they mainly talked about rights. They were off in what struck many millions of American voters as a Cloud-Cuckoo land where every pornographer could drape himself in the Jeffersonian toga of the First Amendment...

This was a value-gap you could barrel a truck through, and the Republicans did so, thus splitting off a large and useful voting-bloc of "Reagan Democrats." But this reliance is proving unstable, now that the actual results of the Republicans push to unconstrained laissez-faire are in...

Robert Hughes, Culture of Complaint: A Passionate Look Into the Ailing Heart of America


This bear minces few words:

Depression ahead, prepare for stock rout: SocGen

Societe Generale said on Thursday that the United States' economy looks likely to enter a depression and China's could implode.

...He predicted that the S&P 500 index of U.S. stocks could be set for a fall of around 40 percent from recent levels.

..."While economic data in developed economies increasingly reflects depression rather than a deep recession...

"It is becoming clear that the Chinese economy is imploding and this raises the possibility of regime change. To prevent this, the authorities would likely devalue the yuan. A subsequent trade war could see a re-run of the Great Depression."

..."We believe that the market is (now) set to quickly slide sharply toward our 500 target for the S&P," he said.

I don't see much to disagree with except I don't see the destruction of China happening as so many do.

EDIT: Here's another.

Charts: Get Protected – Stocks to Retest Lows

(There's a vid there for those who want to watch.)

The S&P 500 could be set for another sharp decline as the bullish technical indicators have all but disappeared and the trend is heading lower, Edward Loef, technical analyst from Theodoor Gilissen Bankiers, told CNBC.

...the trend is reversing to the downside,” Loef said. “From a technical perspective we are heading again down to the lows of last year.”

...Loef also expects a return to extremely high levels of volatility, following Wednesday’s near 14-percent jump in CBOE volatility index. “Here we go again,” he said.


Warning: Falling price zone ahead

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Rarely has the potential for lower prices been so scary.

While many cash-strapped Americans would welcome paying less for what they need to buy, many economists now say the possibility of deflation, or lower prices, is the greatest threat to the U.S. economy.

And more deflation warning bells are ringing.

2008 foreclosure filings set record

Foreclosure filings surpassed 3 million in 2008, setting a record that has Washington, D.C., policymakers calling for more aggressive efforts this year to aid troubled homeowners.

Foreclosures last year were up 81% from 2007 and 225% from 2006, according to a report out today from RealtyTrac. One in 54 homes received at least one foreclosure filing during the year, RealtyTrac reported.

Then there's this. The job market is still pretty good for executives:

Where jobs still are in a bleak market

If you look only at Americans aged 25 or older, the rate is 6%. Narrow it to only people with four-year college degrees, and the unemployment rate is 3.3%. That's much higher than it was in 2006 and 2007, when unemployment among college grads hovered around 2%, but it's still far below the 7.2% national average.

(Conversely, unemployment rates among construction workers and factory employees are much higher than average, at 13% and 10% respectively.)

Uh, boy. If this continues (big if, admittedly), it's really going to put the screws to families. They'll do anything to get their kid into a good school district and a good college.

Yeah, but then the same people will also vote against school bonds..


As in so many other things, more $$ is not the answer. The system is not functioning any more. It needs total rehabilitation now.

I can't believe you would cite Stossel for much of anything. He is a right-wing partisan who has an axe to grind.

Madrassas for everybody!

Double-Down Economics?

Once the big boys start using the "D" word instead of the "R" word then the ruse is up. No point in pretending the pink elephant dancing in the living room isn't breaking the family's fine china. Particularly now that the Waterford Wedgewood Royal Daulton brands are facing extinction.

Even Niall Ferguson wasn't shy about using the "D" word on the PBS documentary, The Ascent of Money, http://www.pbs.org/wnet/ascentofmoney/

Meanwhile, the Dow looks like it will dip below 8000 soon again, perhaps in a few minutes / hours (a repeat of last November and flashback to 2003 values)as the economic implosion continues.

Petroleum has become scarcer and cheaper. Thoughts to warm the coddles of our hearts throughout this exceptionally cold winter.

ccpo, I'm with you on China. The Chinese will take care of themselves in the same way they have for 3000 years. Social order will be maintained with and without an iron fist.

Sorry,Zadok and ccpo,I can't agree that China in it's present form is going to survive much longer.The history of China is full of collapses,invasions,famines and regime change.It is inherently a fragile entity.Massive environmental damage combined with population overshoot means it is problematic whether China can feed itself even.The collapse of export industries and subsequent unemployment will cause social and political problems which the current regime may not be able to solve.
This regime allowed greed and hubris to prevail when the nation had a chance to build a sustainable future from it's existing infrastructure.A lot of time and effort over the last 10 to 20 years has been squandered in building a type of industrial system which was clearly in trouble in the developed countries even then.

The big risk for the region is that China will become aggressive in a grab for resources and as a diversion for a restive population.This is the sort of cauldron that wars are brewed in.

China is toast. My brother was just in Shanghai, and the sky was green. The Yellow River doesn't even flow to the ocean sometimes. A friend who does business in China said 10,000 factories in Gudong are closed. The glaciers on the Tibetan Plateau are disappearing, and all major rivers are at risk.
Machete Moshpit here we come!

"World oil demand in 2008 remains broadly unchanged from the previous assessment, showing a
decline of 0.1 mb/d, the first year of negative growth since 1983."

Official OPEC confirmation we are now past peak oil - annual data is much less 'noisy' than monthly.

The world had more or less continuous economic growth on the way up to peak - so, unless we get adequate alternatives or very rapid increases in efficiency of oil use IMO expect more or less continuous world economic contraction on the way down. The exporters will thrive, the importers will struggle.

Without enough finance for adequate new oil well investment expect oil decline rates of ~8%, maybe even higher in the USA since decline has been held artificially low at ~4% by EOR investment etc with bad outcomes for rapid depletion - IMO this implies sharp increases in USA decline rates in the future.

Official OPEC confirmation we are now past peak oil - annual data is much less 'noisy' than monthly.

Geologically past peak or because of demand destruction ?
IMO production would still have been on a bumpy plateau without the economic downturn.

How many years of going down will it take before they realize that it is not going back up again?

Geologically past peak or because of demand destruction

IMO we would still be on a bumpy plateau for a lot of non-existent reasons.

The peak was caused by lack of adequate profitable investment in new wells - and in a poor economic climate IMO that will still hold true.

At the moment the oil price is being held up by people all over the world hoarding oil above ground - once every available receptacle is full expect demand to drop some more.

If there is supply destruction caused by a lack of profitable finite resource there has to be demand destruction as well - demand destruction is an economic dowturn, and clearly this is the machanism by which this peak is occurring, as in the case of the 1970s peak also.

Peak oil is caused by above ground financial decisions made by billions of people, not geology. Running out of oil or any other mined resource is caused by geology.

What do you think peak oil is?
It is a point where we can't suck oil out of the ground any faster no matter how much we try. It is all about geology.

Imagine trying to drink soda with a sponge in the bottle.. At first it's easy, but as you take more and more out it gets harder and slower to get the next bit. Even if you take the sponge out and wring it you get less over time, and can never quite get all of it out, and with oil it is impractical to take the sponge out of the bottle.

The timing, production profile, and systemic response to peak oil are all about other things, but the basic fact of peak oil is nothing more or less than the inevitable result of trying to drink soda out of a sponge.

It is a point where we can't suck oil out of the ground any faster no matter how much we try. It is all about geology.

No ... IMO (and the opinion of people like the IEA) you have it wrong - you are correct for an individual well but not for a field or the whole world, peaking is caused by insufficient profitable investment in new wells to keep the flows growing - for example, even though they have the oil, people who live in desert areas like KSA may decide not to put in any more wells and hoard the oil to make it last longer, so their children don't die of thirst.

The total number of wells is determined by the need to make a profit, not geology - if the world's Governments were to subsidise oil wells then the flows would increase (until even they couldn't afford it) - if subsidised enough we could dig the stuff out like the tar sands or iron ore, massively increasing the URR.

It's a matter of scale.

One well or the whole world is the same, the larger scale of the world just means it takes longer than for a single well. If we had an infinite world your assertion that it isn't geology would be quite accurate, as it would take an infinite amount of time to deplete. For a finite world depletion and decline are inevitable.

Good luck on finding an infinite world.

if subsidised enough we could dig the stuff out like the tar sands or iron ore, massively increasing the URR

If all the earth were apple pie, we'd never want for eats.

Depletion and decline are different from peak.

Depletion and decline are about what's left in the 'barrel' and are indeed inevitable - but peak is about flow rates out of the 'barrel' and has nothing to do with the size of the reserves (except the need to make a profit from them) ... it's about how big a 'tap' somebody is prepeared to build. Geology only takes over when not enough wells are built to keep increasing the size of the 'tap' for whatever reason ... in Western countries the reason is usually profit but that is not always the reason for every country/part of the world.

Producing oil is a business and like all business' must make a profit, but it does not mean that it has to produce the oil at the rate the consumer would like - in fact a sensible compamy would make the one-time-use product last as long as possible and produce as much profit as possible.

As a different example ... the size of the US ethanol 'tap' would be very small indeed if it were not subsidised - it's the profits from the investment that dictate the flow rate and it's peak volume.

Xeroid, your concept of Peak sounds like the idiocy of an economist. It's lunacy to suggest flow rates are solely determined by the number of wells dug. Geology plays a huge part.

What you are basically saying is that if you add straws to the milkshake at a steady rate then flow will grow at a steady rate until the very last suck on the straws is not only the last , but the biggest, then suddenly no more oil.

This is something only an egghead could dream up.

Investment plus geology plus field management all play a part. If it were not so wouldn't we see most fields with the right triangle-shaped curve you essentially describe?


What you are basically saying is that if you add straws to the milkshake at a steady rate then flow will grow at a steady rate until the very last suck on the straws is not only the last , but the biggest, then suddenly no more oil.

Yes that is correct ... but I'm saying that doesn't happen because of the need to make a profit, and that is what causes the world to peak ... as apposed to an individual well which is caused by geology.

But I expect several countries to have very steep 'shark fin' declines post peak because of 'superstraws' etc ... just like the UK which appears to have peaked at around 70% of URR not the 50% often bandied about and declining at ~9% a year.

Check the data, it doesn't show the story many talk about here.

It is not I who needs to check the data. This is simple. An aggregate is far more likely to look like an average (Bell or Hubbert's) than any given field. That enhancement might have extended the lives of fields in no way undermines the basic math. And how do you utterly ignore geology?

You're howling at the moon.


IMO you are wrong - like I say check the data - start with Hubbert's original paper, read what he predicts and see if it all happened - you will be surprised.

I'll give you some hints:

as he predicted the US did peak in 1970 but at 4.1 bbpy not the 3.0 he predicted
the world did not peak in 2000 as he predicted and production is now 140% above what he predicted

Hubbert got lucky with the US - for the rest he was wrong because all the 'tap' infrastructure is controlled by above ground needs to make a profit, not the underlying geology.

Generally, in reality, the aggregates do NOT follow a bell curve and those countries that have peaked do not peak at 50% URR, they follow a random path determined by above ground factors. Check out individual countries.


Peaking is not just a phenomenon limited to oil - seafish, whales , coal, gas, phosphorus, iron ore, indeed anything mined by man shows the same effect - oil is not different.

First, you are characterizing Hubbert's work as prediction. That is absolutely wrong.

Second, you are calling error of actual numbers the important point when in such a situation it is the concept that rules. Your complaint is, frankly, a bit churlish - and statistical game playing. Mindboggling, really.

Then you call a the results of a model from more than 60 years out wrong for being off on the absolute date of peak by 8 years? Are you insane? With the added URR, the effects of the many things that affect consumption. Less the huge drop in consumption in the 70's and the huge drop production in Russia, etc., you think there's not room for error? Baloney.

And what in the world is your link supposed to prove? US consumption is supposed to tell us what about global production?

Lordy... we've got a peak oil denialist, it seems.


On the contrary, I am a big peak oil believer, I have changed my life completely because of it, I spend several hours a day studying it, and IMO world peak oil is caused by above ground things, not geology, that is why the megaprojects are so important, and why the IEA says investment must increase to avoid peak soon. Check the data in detail (I bet you haven't), you will find that the USA either peaked well before 50%, or if it did you can expect a massive fall in production very soon.

The reason Hubbert was wrong (and he was wrong, even though you try and dismiss it) is because he thought that peaking of the world or regions is caused by geology, it isn't, the investment in the 'tap' which controls the flow is all above ground. Hubbert DID make predictions that is what he is famous for!!!!!

Geology just tells you when the world 'barrel' will run out, not when it will peak. Your arguments show you don't understand world peaking - think about it some more. Just because one well peaks at 50% URR doesn't mean thousands of them started at random times with random flows will.

World Peak oil may well be now, but it isn't a done thing, and the data says it isn't at 50% depletion as the theorists try and tell you - which has very serious implications.

So what you are saying, is if we had never pulled any oil out of the ground, but surveyed every inch of the globe with high technology, and thus found every recoverable bit of oil, then built millions of drilling rigs, and positioned them one next to each other so that they covered all of the ground on top of those oil reserves, and then started them all at the same time, that we could extract all of the world's oil in one year? Or is it one month? One day?

In theory yes. Would you make a profit if you did that? - almost certainly not, so nobody would do it. Profit is the important bit, it overrides all other investment considerations and not just for oil - ask the people on this site who work in the field.

But you could decide to extract it so it didn't peak 'til the last day of extraction - but again would it be profitable? and would it meet the growth needs of the consumer? all business is risky.

The oil 'barrel' is underground, nobody (and that includes geologists like Hubbert, which is why he was so wrong) knows how big it is, how thick the oil is, how porous the rock is etc - all we know is the more we take from it, in general, the more exepensive it becomes.

The size of the world oil 'tap' is completely controlled by humans - people like KSA have deliberately controlled how big they are prepeared to make their bit of it. Humans are in control of the size of the tap and hence the timing and volume of the peak, not geology. The daily flows from the tap are minute in comparison to the size of the oil remmaining in the barrel - for the world they are not related in any meaningful way.

Don't assume the world (or your little bit of the world) all works the same way, it doesn't. Some people are prepared to subsidise oil production that might otherwise be unprofitable, others are prepared to massively tax it.

You are making absolutely no sense. Peak is only due to above ground? Nonsense! I'm not going to bother re-typing. No matter what technology you apply or what time line, you will have a start, a peak and an end. Period. Even if you install enough wells to pump 1 Billion barrels in one day, you will STILL have a peak. Regadless...

Screw it.

You are trying to remove the dancer from the dance.

Good luck with that.


Yes, absolutely, you will always have a peak I never said you won't ... but it's timing and the flow rate at peak (or indeed any time) are dependent on human investment in the size of the 'tap' and the need to make a profit.

You are confusing the properties of an individual oil well and thousands of wells ... the two are not the same ... and you clearly don't understand the need to make a profit.

You can push the curve around a lot by spending (or the lack thereof), but the presence of a top to the curve and the subsequent falloff IS "Peak Oil".

The precise shape is irrelevant to the fundamental concept.

Peak Oil isn't "depletion with a bell-curve" or whatever the current "best fit" is. It is simply /\ (or /^^^^\ as many would say).

Once you are on the backslash you are past peak, no matter how long it took to get there. If you can spend resources to go back up to previous peaks you are still in peak territory or even pre-peak. Once a well, a field, or the world is truly past peak meeting previous production levels is pure fantasy.

World peak might be yesterday, tomorrow, or years from now, but it is inevitable.

Because of the lack of investment it problably will be very difficult then in a few years for new projects to compensate for the natural decline of existing fields. Besides, peak of discovery was in 1965. So with much more investment in the '90's the result could have been a higher plateau, though lasting not much longer than in reality it could have been. IF the economy can recover it has to be seen how many years more the plateau from 2005-2008 can last and if the production record from july 2008 can be broken.

How about ROLLING 12-month data? That takes away the artificial calendar years.

I only now appreciate Matt Simmons statement that Peak will be a "rear-view mirror" event.

Some people may be wondering why Chevrolet is building a 6.0-liter V8 Tahoe with hybrid technology that costs over $56,000 and gets only a small increase in fuel economy (EPA ratings of 20 miles per gallon city and 20 mpg highway), and the answer is that a lot of people want a full-size truck that can tow over 6,000 pounds.

go chevrolet. and the russians just used a pen.
why oh why would you need a 6 liter gasoline hybrid when you could use a diesel. the time for discussing the benefits is long gone, right now i'm just "meh, they'll deserve what's coming"

later edit: i posted before reading the article. main pic is a chevy trucking a boat. that's some important "need" people have

The logic escapes me too. What, in particular, is efficient about driving a motorboat around in circles in a local lake? At least the truck companies could have shown the vehicle pulling a sailboat.

Chevrolet ... have thrown just about every fuel-economy trick in the tech manual at the Tahoe and Yukon hybrids.

I guess that's true because reducing size, weight and power are so obvious they don't qualify as "tricks."

What, in particular, is efficient about driving a motorboat around in circles in a local lake?

If there is one thing I find more ostentatious than gas guzzling SUV it's gas guzzling power boats.
Especially when they pass by my little Kayak at full throttle when I'm diving out on the reef.

If one day you guys hear in the news that someone pointed a spear gun and shot off a spear at one of these morons...

"Temporary Insanity" is a good a name as any for one of these boats.


From the MSNBC article about Electric Cars:

Lache expects to see “tremendous growth” in the electrification of cars over the next few years, rising to 20 percent of the U.S. market by 2012, he said at a conference held in conjunction with the Detroit show.

I don't know if this is true but someone with better math skills than I have should model this to see what affect this will have on oil use. Will our economic recovery be an oil-less one?

Will our economic recovery be an oil-less one?


It most certainly will be oil-less, no matter what happens.

A rough answer would be that this would result in about 1.5% displacement of gasoline use in 2012 if this were to come true. Other assumptions: 251 million passenger vehicles in 2006, 17 m/year sold in 2007 and 2008, 12 m/year sold in 2009 to 2012; retirement rate of 5% per year of existing stock; electric has 0% share of new car sales in 2009, 5% in 2010, 10% in 2011 and 20% in 2012; each vehicle on average consuming 500 gallons/year (based on 8.5 mmb/d gasoline consumption). Since gasoline is only 40% of our oil consumption, this forecast would reduce oil use by 0.6%. Not quite an oil-less future.

Sparaxis and "enemy of the state",
Thanks for the information.

Would not 20% of 40% be 8% reduction in total oil use?

On CNN it would be, you're right!

Didnt you read sparaxis comment above? He is detailing the calcs, doing the effort, you know? Do the same will ya?

Lache expects to see “tremendous growth” in the electrification of cars over the next few years, rising to 20 percent of the U.S. market by 2012

I really really doubt this. We would be very lucky if hybrids reached 20%. And even that only if demand for ICE cars plummets. At this point the only electric vehicles, are very special purpose.

But say we assume car sales and mileage are constant with time, and cars last 15years. Than with 20% of new cars being electric that would mean 1.33% less consumption per year. And that is just for gasoline consumption. Not a very rapid rate of change, considering how fast PO could bite.

All great comments regarding the absurd "20% of market" prediction. One aspect of such optimism irritates me more then it should: that 20% market share has to be built by plants that don't currently exist to produce cars that haven't been designed yet for such mass production. Add to that the lack of motivation of investors/financiers (during this period of low fuel prices) to fund the 10's of billions of $'s needed for the retooling.

If we're lucky someday...but not in 3 years of course.

I don't see a problem with 20% of market share in 3 years,

I can see a total of 100 cars sold 3 years from now and 20 of them being electric.

You just have to change what market share means


Heh :)

Haha, +1 !

The US makes ~4 million cars per year. The foreign imports to the US about 2.5 million cars per year. There are 210 million cars registered. 20% of US label cars = 800000(all Ford label cars produced annually is 900000). There are (almost?) zero production plug-in cars today.

A Chevy volt type plug-in car which will be available in 2010 can go 40 miles per day on the battery and the rest of the time on the 50 mpg gas engine with a total daily maximum range of 400 miles. It will take 3 hours to charge the Volt on 220v outlet. Let's assume that people will rely on the charger half the time--6000 miles per year, that leaves 6000 miles on the 50 mpg engine or 120 gallons per year--100 mpg versus 20 mpg for the fleet average.


In the US there are an estimated 1.4 million hybrid cars on US roads, sold since 1999.
Assuming optimistically they were twice as efficient as the cars they replaced about 600 million gallons of gasoline was saved out of a total of 1.2 trillion gallons of gasoline used over those 8 years or .05% saved overall.

If those cars had been replaced by 100 mpg Volt plug-ins instead you'd have saved 1.2 billion gallons of gasoline or .1% gasoline saved

To get to 20% of all new US cars
maybe 1.3 million per year in 2012 , a total of 3 million plugins(?!) on the road by 2013 you would save 2.88 billion gallons of gasoline out of 600 billion gallons total for 4 years or .5%.

If instead you simply sold 400,000 ordinary hybrids per year for 4 years totalling 3 million on the road in 2012, at the end of that time you would also saved a total of 2.88 billion gallons of gasoline sold in those years(2009-2012).

The best way to save gasoline is to literally phase out non-hybrid vehicles.
But out of 250 million vehicles there are only 1.4 million hybrids now so building hyperefficient cars would do little to curb gas consumption. I suggest massive carpooling(Smart Jitney) which could reduce gasoline consumption by 50% in a short amount of time.

Could the cold snap bring fuel prices back up?

I discuss the question relating to natural gas and oil at:

Natural gas is below $5 MMBtu & oil ~$35...

We'll see what happens in the next two weeks and beyond-


here's a related story from bloomberg:


traders were expecting a larger drawdown from ng storage. they make a vague reference to last week's temperatures, but this week wont show up until next week's drawdown.

It seems to me that when The Oil Drum started there were items in the Drum Beat each day about co-generation. Now it's rarely mentioned.

Rebuilding urban factories and powerplants for co-generation sounds ideal under the current circumstances; it's labor-intensive, it can't just be done by a few guys with big bulldozers, it primarily exploits waste heat and doesn't require any new technology. It means a lot of little projects that will finish fairly quickly.

On the other hand, we put everybody's houses as far away from the factories and powerplants as possible, and the one thing we don't want to be doing now is building more houses.

Co-generation was mentioned briefly in yesterday's DB wrt our discussion on district heating plants. The point was valid - with the larger heating plants used in district heating systems, installation of co-generation systems is quite feasible.

It seems to me that when The Oil Drum started there were items in the Drum Beat each day about co-generation. Now it's rarely mentioned.

As others have mentioned, the drumbeat seems to currently have a larger number of participants who can arguably be classified as having a doomsday, "We're so F_cked," attitude than those who are trying to figure out and pass on knowledge about the adaptations required to smooth the transition to a less energy intensive life-style.

In my opinion, the successful application of co-generation requires an appropriate economic environment. Last year, the price signals of energy were sufficiently high to economically justify some types of co-generation. Today, the case is more difficult to make when looking at a 3 to 5 year time-line. Utilization of process waste heat will most likely be applied to reducing overall costs of the process. Only when a company's internal costs can no longer be reduced via co-generation will the higher cost option of selling that energy to others be considered.

Moving co-generation to the point of use, say a home furnace or water heater, may be more viable in the short run than large metropolitan systems. Unfortunately, the price for home co-generation systems is not affordable for most people. Even technologies like condensing furnaces are out of reach. What is needed to put in place incentives that reduce the price or upfront costs.

The legal framework, zoning laws and permitting process, further impedes home based co-generation. Try putting in a system that sells your excess power and see how difficult the task of convincing the local building becomes. Moreover, the residential zoning laws tend to preclude operation of a business in residential areas.

Hello TODers,

Kudos to Leanan and Bart@EB for the Element P articles--great intro reviews of the topic for newbies. Now let's hope more authors take it to the next level; where in a world of decreasing FF-energy plus extreme Overshoot, it becomes extremely problematic to close the total water, NPK, and other Element recycling loops. Thus, Kudos are again due to Alan Drake in Leanan's Millenium Institute toplink today, and let's hope more people become interested in improving upon my prior speculations.

Besides having Tiger Woods plow the White House lawn: my test of the degree of change we 'might' expect from Obama is if he directs the education system to go to full Peak Everything Outreach and that he also requires Google, and other search engines, to install some variant of my speculative 'I'm feeling Unlucky' button on their respective home webpage. IMO, these don't require any bailout funding so they would have tremendous bang for the buck.

But, like most TODers, we understand the ramifications of the Thermo/Gene Collision and Greer's Catabolic Grind: We are already mentally prepared to be disappointed. Such is life..

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

there is no limit to human greed and folly(tm).
the man enslaved to wealth can never be honest.
back in early april of '08 i had three rather huge trees taken down.
paid a contractor to do it. the fellow was quick. the crew had 3 trees down and cut to 20" section in 2 hours. it took me the rest of th spring and summer to split it. now it is mid january and i have burned 40% of this wood. i dont heat exclusive with wood. i do have two stoves, both "cats". i use the one in the living room the most. 24 feet by 15 feet with 12 foot cathedral ceiling. some houses and apartments are smaller than that. the stove can take 1.5 to 3 hours to get going. depends on how much i sit there and watch it. that is the kicker, maintaining the fire. which includes the splitting, the cutting the hauling of wood. and diposing of ashes. kindling is very important. twigs, branches, small logs. all necessary. i use charcol briquettes. one a good ember bed developes all it takes is adding more fuel in a timely manner. i can get the room up to a comfy 66 degrees even with outside temps in low teens. warmer temps actually let me throttle back the stove for longer burn times. this stove is small. i bought small to install in a fireplace, that most wasteful invention. the point of this extra long post is that i have decided to see what post oil living is like. result? it's doable. all the labor associated with wood burning is therapeutic. takes my mind off
all those ills of society. luckily, i lost my job and can focus on
even more wood burning, 14 hours per day. see what the utility bill compares out to last year. lots of folks around me burn wood. if we
all did i guess there would be a major deforestation (NJ) to rival what is being done in the amazon. no doubt over population has a hand in both instances. while coasting the downslope of peak oil burning wood is great. i recommend it over a 3 KW solar PV system. i should know i have both. but when the oil stops TOD posters will be parsing peak wood no doubt with smoke signals.

Sorry about your job.

There's talk here occasionally about masonry, Russian and Finnish Stoves, which burn efficiently and hold a bunch of heat in their Massy designs, so very little is wasted up the flue.

Here's a popular 'Kit' version called the Tulikivi. I like a woodfire, and I like splitting.. up to a point. These units are pricey, but would let those downed trees keep you warm for a bunch more months, and maybe save some wear on your rotator cuffs.

http://www.tulikivi.com/index.html (multilingual site)
whoa! I just looked at the Maine Masonry site and realized it's run by Steve Busch, who made one of his first Hand-laid brick Masonry stoves for my family in 1980, and a second one for my mom around 1990. He's installing Tulikivis now, having told me last spring that the brick work was killing his body.. it's a lot of years to be hauling stone around.. Go Steve! (But get some interns..)

(Please consider using caps and paragraphs, would you? It's easier on the eyes when trying to read a lot of text.)

Bob Fiske

Hey Bob, that's one of my little post peak fantasies. One project I'd love to have the time to build is a wood fired brick oven. Got the spot in the yard all picked out. Plenty of fuel, but I've yet to come up with a good local source for flour. a small, local, wood fired bakery could be quite the community resource. Might even be somewhat lucrative, even in a barter economy.

I did all my brick work here, and the main chimney has held up for 30 years so I think I could do it.
Looking for that post peak niche.

Don in Maine

Don't forget the interns!

I echo Bob, sorry about the job loss.

Three "huge" trees would keep me warm for years!
Since they were just downed in April, may I suggest that they've not had sufficient time to dry? Maybe lots of the heat is going up the stack in the form of steam?
Here's a way to get even those small branches to keep you warm.

sorry about the job loss ? how 'bout congratulations ?

Hello TODers,

Interesting Commentary from an Econo-blog [please see included graphics]:

Peak Oil Interest and the Price of Gasoline: Evidence from 2008's Wild Ride

Permit me to display some data. In graph #1, I reproduce a graph of monthly gasoline prices in the year 2008. Note that it peaks in July 2008. In graph #2, I present the prominent blog "Oil Drum" and its monthly visitor count during the same months of 2008. Do you see a relationship?

...When oil prices are peaking, the OIL Drum is hot hot hot.

Interesting indeed,

I'm not sure what it tells me though. Are people looking for some sort of insight for trading purposes, or are they curious to see how long the spike will last, are they gorging on doom or does it just show that most people have the attention span of a lobster?

My take is that any consistent PO mitigation must originate by government legislation, else it will be haphazard, temporary and largely ineffective. Once the price of oil is consistently high (still volatile but high) enough for market forces to address alternatives, we will have already lost.

Please be aware that we of the CLF ( Crustacean Liberation Front ) consider all such comments to be war crimes.


Damn! I want the rating system back, reduces bandwidth.


Well I went to the Extension office in our county seat to listen to the Ag Profs spiel for this coming ag year.

Most there agreed that the price of Inorganic fertilizers had finally bottomed out and we now on the increase. Many famers should be striking at this point. The ag chem guy who feted us with some good country catered food agreed and had valid numbers on current prices etc.

A lot of very interesting talk by an ag prof who had been working at this for 30 or more years. His talk was basically the same as always as far as land management.

Some very interesting facts I learned. Like Nh3 sterilizes about a 4 to 6 inch zone of the soil when injected. Unlike dry N it does not suffer nitrification while until it turns to a nitrite and that can't happen until the soil bacteria rebreed and turn it. So there is a lag that farmers can use. For dry N on wet soils it begins to dissipate almost immediately.

It takes 150 lb/ac for corn. 250 Phos and mhh 60 lb or so ...all per acre for a good corn crop here in the excellent Loring soil we have.

The best in the state the next guy who showed us how to use online soil mapping and many other very high tech tools on the internet. Google 'Web Soil Survey' and then find an icon with WSS and click on that..its almost like Google Earth but all NRCS mapping GIS that is and coupled with yield data and many other types of valuable data.

A lot of talk about manure nutrients. Chicken litter being the tops.

If you go to the UK CA for college of Ag...like this
www.ca.uky.edu you can find an enormous amount of data in the form of publications etc.

As I expected it was all about increasing yields and I-NPK...not a word about conservation or the upcoming trainwreck. These AG Profs are simply not tuned it to this. Its not on their radar screens and I didn't want to try to discuss it with them either. It wouldn't have gone over very well.

The WSS site is a bit hard to use but if you persevere you can hack it out.

Amazing that all the data mining that this NRCS guy did in all of Ky he said the four counties ,including mine had the absolute best soil in the whole state and he had been spending a loooong time mapping it all.

We write the book in Ky for row cropping. The profs all look to this area for how the game is played. The rest of Ky he called 'pony land'.

Anyway some info for you and others. I suggest that those who move to lifeboats in the sticks go to the Ag Extension agents office and start learning about what is going down. They have a lot of very good handouts on canning,what to grow in each place and much much more.

Plus they will let you use their high bandwidth PCs and give you free advice.


Hello Airdale,

Thxs for the info. If they can't get the Russia/Ukraine/Europe natgas situation sorted out soon, it will be really interesting to see what that does for ammonia and urea pricing and availability. Force Majuere or allocation won't help a farmer/gardener stay above a Liebig Minimum either. There are also other H-B factories shutdown in India because of natgas shortages. I-NPK is a global market now: you've got to be the highest bidder to be assured of your supply. For example: a spot load of ammonia leaving Trinidad can easily not come to the US if someone else has a bigger cash wad.

RE: Top 7 Alternative Energies Listed

Original article here

Nine electric power sources and two liquid fuel options are considered. The electricity sources include solar-photovoltaics (PV), concentrated solar power (CSP), wind, geothermal, hydroelectric, wave, tidal, nuclear, and coal with carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology. The liquid fuel options include corn-ethanol (E85) and cellulosic-E85.

Interesting analysis, but there is at least one flaw: They didn't even look at solar thermal panels (for water or space heating) or biogas (methane from anaerobic digestion of ag and muni wastes). I suspect that all of these would end up looking even better than the seven alternatives that made the cut.

It is interesting that the alternatives I mentioned above are probably the smallest-scale of them all. Looking at their full list, there also appears to be some corelation with scale.

I guess it's a shame that some of those technologies are currently miniscule or don't exist. Perhaps there might be other considerations that Jacobsen left out. For example all those wind turbines on three square kilometres could get mangled. Other factors might include the need for atypical physical conditions, the need for energy storage and affordable cost. Nothing like a bit of techno-fantasy to help us through troubled times.

The Jacobson analysis is very flawed and very biased.


Nuclear power is burdened with CO2 from "burning cities in the event of a nuclear exchange". Nuclear weapons exist now and building more nuclear power will not increase those risks. Nuclear weapons material were made from special reactors not for generating power or from special enrichment facilities. There can be burning cities from conventional weapons -see world war II bombing of Tokyo, Dresden etc...

I would also propose that if this analysis is valid that we add deaths and CO2 (both from explosions and from the resulting fires) from bomber aircraft to an analysis of passenger jets and add deaths from bullets to the lead industry and deaths from chemical explosives to chemical fuel cells.

Jacobson claims that an all battery-powered U.S. vehicle fleet could be charged by 73,000 to 144,000 5-megawatt wind turbines.

This is 365 to 720 nameplate Gigawatts with 20-40% capacity factor. About 500-800 TWh/year if it was scaling the current 94 GW of world wind power.

So supplying power to an all battery-powered US vehicle fleet could be done by 20-30% of existing world nuclear power instead of 550-850% of current wind power.

The Jacobson analysis talks about assuming all electric cars plus there is an implicit assumption that there is an electrical grid sufficient to handle all of the renewable power. these things would take trillions of dollars and decades to accomplish but at the same time Jacobson penalizes nuclear power for longer build times. Nuclear power construction is scaling up now and there will be plenty when the grids are upgraded and when there are predominantly electrical cars.

Businessweek indicates that wind power projects are being delayed and what was expected for new build by 2010 will not happen until 2012.

Khazakstan is scaling up uranium production to 18000 tons/year by 2018.
Japan is close to restarting the Monju breeder reactor.
Europe is turning on old reactors and scaling up nuclear build plans.
There will be plenty of large iron forging makers. (China, Korea, Russia, UK, France and Japan Steel is tripling forging capacity.)

China's 200MW High Temperature nuclear reactor starts construction this year and the follow on reactors after 2013 will be factory mass produced with construction times targeted to fall to 2-3 years.

EWEA (European wind Association, obviously pro-wind) presented a plan to get to 30% wind power by building a Europe/Africa wide grid to connect wind farms. They think it will take decades to scale to that level.

Bruno Comby -ecologist for nuclear power has a write up on nuclear and environmental issues

Also wind and electric transport are both scalable from a few hundred W sized turbines charging electric bikes to 100's of 5MW turbines powering long distance electric rail.

More interesting was the very fast energy payback for a 5MW wind turbine at 8.5m/sec wind speed; 1.5 months, with a 30 year lifetime, would be a EROEI of 240:1.
Earlier studies of smaller wind turbines(<750kW) showed a EROEI of 18:1 to 30:1

Why Super Contango? Here's what I don't understand about the the current situation with oil futures. A super contango situation should only occur when there is a reason for buyers to believe that prices will be much higher in the future. Given the buildup in stored supply and continued reduced demand, what possible situation could cause the price to rise to the level that futures contracts are being bought at? Will producers reduce production that much? Will demand increase that much? Either of those events would require a massive change from the status quo. Any insights?


Iran? Maybe. But a disruption in oil from Iran would be a huge event that would demand a future price much higher than the $50 or so that it currently is. While the future price is higher than current prices, it is not so much higher as to indicate an expectation of a huge problem. Somehow, I suspect that future buyers expect prices to go up due to some change in market forces that I'm not seeing. I'm wondering what they might be.


Did we ever find out who made all those billions on put options, etc. for 9/11?

OOps! You don't want to go there brutha.

Re the article on the People and Planet website - Australians in Denial Over Rising Population.

The author,Mark O'Connor and William J Lines have recently published "Overloading Australia" which is the best account of the insane population and immigration policies of successive Australian goverments going back 50 years.It gives a succinct description of the many problems of over-population specific to Australia but are applicable globally.

Mark's website is - http://www.australianpoet.com/

The book is available directly from Mark as per information on the website.

Email contact is - mark@australianpoet.com

i havent seen this utube posted.


lignite gasification plant near beulah, nd sending co2 to weyburn field, sask.

I'd like to see an expert analysis of the Great Plains Synfuels Plant as well as the YouTube clip. It seems to be a show pony for the industry which makes me suspect both the economics and the physical flows. What percentages of the carbon in the lignite ends up in EOR as opposed to burnt in open air as syngas? What is the ratio of thermal output to electrical output? Are there hidden subsidies, tax credits and other ways of disguising costs? Without that kind of info I'm calling the clip a greenwash. If it's so good why aren't there more of these plants?

The Great Plains Gasification Plant at Beulah mainly turns 6 million tons of low BTU lignite each year into 54 billion cubic feet of synthetic natural gas that is piped to Chicago(they also have a small generating station in Beulah).
It sends about half of the CO2, 100 million scf/d of carbon dioxide or about 4.5 million tons CO2 per year to the Weyburn oil field in Saskatchwan where it yields about ~20000 barrels per day of crude oil(about 2-3 barrels per ton of CO2).
If 100% of the CO2 from gasification were sequestered, 2/3 of the initial carbon dioxide would be buried while 1/3 would be released from the natural gas product when burnt; so for 6 million tons of lignite burnt you'd bury about 8 million tons CO2 and release 3.3 million tons from the 54 billion cubic feet of synthesized natural gas.

The Weyburn oil field covers 70 square miles and is expected to produce EOR for 20-30 years.

Once the government mandates 'clean coal' a large number of these gasification plants will be built as they reduce carbon emissions by +50%. In this way lignite can be transformed into low carbon-emitting methane and burnt for heating or electricity in peaker generating units.

However about the gasification process is about 70% efficient with energy being required for compression and sequestration you'd lose about 20% of the energy in the lignite.

So the reason there aren't more plants is that 1.) the technology is new and expensive 2.) the technology would would produce less energy per ton of input 3.) the price of natural gas and oil is too low to justify the expense.
This technology has to be MANDATED.

The Beulah project was an experiment by Carter to see if the US could manufacture natural gas if natural gas became depleted and Weyburn was proof-of-concept for CCS under Clinton-Gore.
It's a terrific idea, definitely not greenwashing.

i doubt any will be built with the current ng price below $5/mmbtu.
and while they are mining lignite to produce ng near beulah, some companies have been flaring lots and lots of high btu ng in the bakken developement.

Local North Texas school district has two new schools, but no money to staff them:


In today's America, even with the Terminator serving as Governor of California, a conspiratorial wrestler as the former Governor of Minnesota, a variety show comedian likely to take a seat in the US Senate, and the President-elect actually offering the job of Surgeon General to a television doctor, this one seems just too far out-of-bounds.

Despite the context, Nugent's latest appeal appears hopefully rhetorical.

"Call me, President Obama," writes Nugent. "Hippies, dope heads, corrupt politicos and various other human debris hate me, which makes me the perfect man for the job."

And who said late stage capitalism would not be absurd and humorous?

No one that I know of.

It is a perfect parallel of the downfall of Rome.

If in doubt, send in the clowns and the comedians.

Oh, sorry, they're already here.

Cue: Julius Fučík's "Entrance of the gladiators." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YtQZD1zbTY

I love how a mechanical device (A home Wurlitzer) still fascinates.

Maybe there is still hope for us yet. At worst, we can exit amused.

"And who said late stage capitalism would not be absurd and humorous?"

Zimbabwe rolls out Z$100tr note

Zimbabwe is introducing a Z$100 trillion note, currently worth about US$30 (£20), state media reports...
Imagine giving someone a tip of a billion dollars, only to have them act insulted for such a paltry sum.

It is only a matter of time before Zimbabwe is the first country to use exponential notation on their currency.

Sadly, this is the second time in less than a year that they have issued 50 billion notes in a new currency, with the previous currency reset with a factor of ~10^9.

So, don't laugh, ask yourself; just what is money? What is your confidence?

It is only a matter of time before Zimbabwe is the first country to use exponential notation on their currency.

Heh, they might be the first country in the world where the entire population actually understands in real terms, the meaning of "The Exponential Function".

Who hacked the BBC site? That story does not pass the sniff test.

Toto, good one ; "Imagine giving someone a tip of a billion dollars, only to have them act insulted for such a paltry sum." (It is still allowed to smile at desperacy as long as we do it from a certain distance ... no ?)

I'm starting to think of the ink-costs here, I mean ... let alone the cost of paper concerning the lower denomination ... Man.

Hello TODers,

CF Industries Makes $2.1 Billion Bid for Terra

CF Industries on Thursday unveiled an unsolicited all-stock bid for Terra Industries that values its rival fertilizer maker at $2.1 billion.

If consummated, the deal would create a fertilizer maker with a combined market value of $4.3 billion and revenues of $6.5 billion for the 12 months ended Sept. 30. The combined company would be the largest publicly traded nitrogen producer in the world, CF Industries said...
Have you hugged your bag of NPK today?

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

A sustainable food plan for Britain

..With 30% of an individual's carbon foot-print made up of their food choices, food is the single most important, everyday means for tackling the challenges of climate change, fossil fuel depletion and future security of our food supplies.

The Soil Association's overall campaign goal is to make a rapid transition from a food production dependent on chemicals, global commodity markets and heavy use of oil, to a more resilient, localised, organic food and farming system powered by present day solar power, rather than one reliant on climate-damaging fossil-fuels made from ancient sunlight.

The case for change - some sobering statistics:

*Intensive agriculture needs ten calories of energy to produce one calorie of food.

*Globally, agriculture is responsible for between 17 – 32% of the world's total greenhouse gases.

*Our Government has set a target for 80% cuts in UK greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 – including the main gases from farming, nitrous oxide and methane. This means major changes for UK food and farming, which contribute at least 18% of the UK's total GG emissions.

*Globally the production and use of artificial fertilisers are the largest single source of nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas 310 times more damaging than carbon dioxide.

*To make one tonne of artificial fertiliser takes 108 tonnes of water, emits 7 tonnes of carbon dioxide, and uses one tonne of oil.

*Organic farming typically uses 26% less energy to produce the same amount of food as non-organic farming.

*In 1900, 40% of the population was involved in farming, now less than 1% of the UK population work in farming. Cuba needed to deploy 15-24% of its population after collapse of the Soviet Union and consequent cut in imports of agrochemicals and oil.

*Across Europe, soil erosion and degradation seriously affects near 157 million hectares (16% of Europe, nearly 3 times the total surface of France).

*44% of the UK's arable soils are suffering from erosion, 36% at moderate to serious risk.