DrumBeat: February 16, 2009

Exxon boosted reserves by 1.5B barrels in 2008

Exxon Mobil Corp. said Monday it boosted its proven reserves last year by 1.5 billion oil-equivalent barrels, more than replacing the amount of oil and natural gas the company produced.

The Irving oil giant said the additional reserves, underground oil and natural gas that can one day be produced, amount to 103 percent of the resources Exxon produced last year. Basically, Exxon is finding more oil and gas than it produces.

Canada's Imperial proved reserves jump 50% on oil sands booking

London (Platts) - Canada's Imperial Oil saw its proved oil and gas reserve base grow by almost 50% last year as it booked reserves from a new oil sands project, the company said Monday.

Calgary-based Imperial said its proved reserves stood at more than 2.3 billion barrels of oil equivalent at the end of 2008, up nearly 50% from a year earlier.

Cheap gas is history, again

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The days of cheap gas are retreating into the rearview mirror, as prices continue to flirt with the $2-per-gallon mark.

The national average price for a gallon of unleaded gasoline edged down 0.1 cent to $1.965 Monday, according to the motorist group AAA. This is bad news for the growing ranks of jobless Americans, who are pinching pennies and looking for ways to cut costs.

Ireland probes reports of Russian ships oil spil

The Irish coast guard is investigating reports of an oil spill from Russian ships off the south coast of Ireland, a naval spokesman said Monday. Skip related content

Public broadcaster RTE quoted the Coast Guard as saying two Russian warships spilled up to 12 tons of oil into the sea 250 miles off the coast of Kerry on Ireland's southwestern coast.

Russia studying large oil inventory - Sechin

TYUMEN, Russia (Reuters) - Russia is working towards creating a state reserve to buy crude from producers when prices are low, potentially removing up to 16 million tonnes of Russian oil from export markets, a top energy official said on Monday.

Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin, who oversees the oil and gas sector, said the move could help the Organisation of Petroleum Producing Countries (OPEC) stabilise oil prices.

Sechin travelled to Algeria in December and told OPEC delegates that Russia, the world's second-largest oil exporter and the biggest outside OPEC, could cut exports by 16 million tonnes, or 320,000 barrels per day, if oil prices fell further.

Goldman Says Low Point to Oil Price Getting Closer

(Bloomberg) -- OPEC production cuts and cold weather are helping rebalance the oil market, bringing the low point for prices closer than previously expected, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. analysts said.

“The faster-than-expected pace of OPEC cuts and continued low temperatures are likely accelerating rebalancing in the global oil market,” Goldman analysts including Giovanni Serio and Jeffrey Currie said in a report today. “As a result, the bottoming in prices and time spreads could be closer than we originally expected.”

Canadian arm insolvent, says Enegi

Enegi Oil Plc today admitted that its Canadian subsidiary is insolvent and is in talks to reschedule repayment of its debts.

The news follows last week’s admission that its most advanced oil well in western Newfoundland was not economic to exploit.

Devon Energy Reports Impact of Third-Party Pipeline Damage in East Texas

Oklahoma City - Devon Energy Corporation reported the impact to its oil and gas production due to an outage of third-party owned natural gas processing facilities in east Texas. A third-party natural gas pipeline near the Carthage Hub was damaged by an explosion and fire that occurred on February 11, 2009.

Propane deliveries backed up

NEW PALTZ — Kira Kinney was stunned when her propane supplier told her he might have to cut off delivery of the fuel that's the wintertime lifeblood of her organic farm's greenhouses.

The January cold snap was at its peak and Kinney's business hung in the balance. She called Mark Kimlin, owner of Kimlin Propane, who assured her he would make sure she got deliveries.

But the conditions that frightened Kinney are still at play, not only locally but throughout the Northeast. Dealers say that while there's no propane shortage, there's been a delivery bottleneck and a local shortage of stored propane that has forced them to pass along increased trucking prices for some customers. Increased prices of as much as 40 or 50 cents a gallon were the result of the bottleneck, not propane prices, which have been declining, according to Taylor.

The culprit, according to Kimlin and others in the industry, is a supply infrastructure that was built after World War II and hasn't been updated since.

Panel to advise Obama on carmakers

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Obama is creating a task force to oversee the restructuring of the auto industry, a senior administration official said Monday.

Chavez wins vote to scrap term limits

CARACAS, Venezuela - President Hugo Chavez won a referendum to eliminate term limits Sunday, enabling him to run again in 2012 and beyond in what critics fear is an attempt to become president-for-life.

Please state the nature of your emergency

I was speaking to a friend by phone recently who is very active in sustainability efforts where he lives. He's noticed that many of those who were showing interest in cooperating with his efforts last year have now withdrawn into concerns about their own immediate future. The growing economic crisis is concentrating their minds on such questions as: Will I keep my job? Will I be able to afford my house or apartment? What should I do with my savings, especially if they have declined significantly? For those running organizations the most basic question is one of survival. Can my business survive lower sales? Can my nonprofit survive declining donations and grants?

The emergency has been defined primarily as a financial emergency, and so all these people are reacting quite rationally under that definition, my friend conceded.

Mexico Industrial Output May Drop Most Since 2002: Week Ahead

(Bloomberg) -- Mexico’s industrial output probably fell the most in almost seven years in December as a U.S. recession curbed demand for exports, slowing sales at auto-parts maker Sanluis Corp. and plastic tube manufacturer Mexichem SAB.

...An accelerating decline in crude oil production, which is measured under the mining industry, continues to drag on industrial output. Petroleos Mexicanos, the Mexico City-based state-run oil monopoly, produced 2.72 million barrels a day in December, an 8 percent drop from a year ago, as it struggles to offset declines at its giant offshore field, Cantarell.

Insiders Expect Stable Prices and Supply in Northwest

The economic downturn and a drop in the price of asphalt binder should combine to make the upcoming construction season somewhat different from 2008 for Northwest paving contractors and asphalt producers.

Though the price and availability of asphalt shouldn't be the problems they were last year, 2009 won't be without its challenges, however. Federally backed state highway programs should continue to produce substantial numbers of paving projects, but with cities and counties facing severe budget shortfalls and the private market for paving all but dried up, competition for work figures to be intense.

Immigration and Energy: Some Inconvenient Truths

"If per capita gasoline consumption remains constant," Anthrop said, "this population growth will increase gasoline consumption by 695 million barrels per year. If corn ethanol were to supply the 62 million people added to the U.S., corn acreage would have to be increased by 117 million acres - which equals 25 percent of all U.S. cropland. Growing a crop that results in soil erosion nine-fold just to support immigration of more people into the U.S. hardly qualifies for a sustainable policy."

In the face of economic crisis, would aid save Africa?

The global food and energy crisis, and now the financial crisis are making the future of life in Africa more uncertain, especially for the poor, and Africa has been relying on aid for over 60 years now to solve its economic and development challenges. To what extent has aid worked?

The developed world has spent around 600 billion dollars on aid since 1958, and yet the number of sub-Saharan Africans living in poverty keep increasing.

How African Farmers are Dealing with Climate Change

As climate change intensifies through increased temperatures and precipitation, most smallholder farmers in Africa, with the majority living in rural areas, are not adapting to global warming.

Low levels of technology and the scarcity of information on climate change are some of the major obstacles for the vast majority of African farmers in adapting to global warming.

Oil supply crunch in 2010?

LONDON (Reuters) -- The International Energy Agency said on Monday there could be an oil supply crunch from 2010 once global demand recovers and the impact of delayed investment crimps future supplies.

The agency, which advises 28 industrialized countries, is concerned that some oil producers are deferring projects to expand supply. It expects oil demand growth to resume next year after its first drop in a generation.

"Currently the demand is very low due to the very bad economic situation," the IEA's executive director, Nobuo Tanaka, told reporters on the sidelines of a conference in London.

"But when the economy starts growing, recovery comes again in 2010 and then onward, we may have another serious supply crunch if capital investment is not coming," Tanaka said.

North Sea oil minnows at risk of being swallowed

LONDON (Reuters) - Tighter global credit has forced independent oil companies to sell their North Sea assets cheaply and the trend is set to last until oil prices rally.

Even oil companies with valuable assets have been hit hard by a plunge in oil prices from a record high of more than $147 (103 pounds) in July 2008 to around $40 a barrel.

The effects have been made worse by tight credit and falling energy demand.

MPs want cash for North Sea oil and gas projects

Two north-east MPs are seeking an urgent meeting with the energy and climate change secretary over the desperate shortage of capital affecting offshore developers.

Russian oil output down 0.8%, gas down 10.5% in Jan. year-on-year

MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) - Russia's crude production in January declined 0.8% year-on-year to 41 million metric tons (300.5 million barrels), while natural gas output fell 10.5% to 55.2 billon cubic meters, the Federal Statistics Service said on Monday.

Iranians Feel Pinch of Falling Oil Prices

Many fear living conditions will deteriorate further if parliament approves president's plan to cut energy subsidies. Last October, Iran's central bank head Mahmoud Bahmani warned of hardships ahead as falling oil prices resulted in a 54 billion US dollar reduction in the country's foreign exchange earnings.

Back then, oil cost just less than 70 dollars a barrel, and only the most pessimistic of economists could have predicted that the price would plunge by almost 50 per cent.

Qatar home rents most likely to fall 10 per cent

Residential rental rates in Qatar are likely to dip by around 10 per cent in 2009 due to sliding oil prices and companies freezing new staff recruitment, according to a recent report.

Atlantic walks away from Anglesey

The slump in oil prices and rising exploration costs have forced Faroese player Atlantic Petroleum to relinquish its stake in P1211, which hosts the Anglesey prospect in blocks 14/9a &14/14b, in the UK sector of the North Sea.

Oman eyes oil output boost

Gulf Arab producer Oman aims to boost total oil output for the second consecutive year in 2009 after halting a six-year production decline from ageing fields last year, a top official said.

While neighbouring members of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) cut output as the group races to match supply with falling global demand, Oman is moving ahead with plans to pump more. As an independent producer, Oman has said it has no plans to cut output in support of Opec.

Nigeria: Oil Majors in Distress

Indications emerged, at the weekend, that the big oil companies operating in the country are planning to slash the size of their workforce. They are also placing embargo on employment following financial and operational distress arising from falling oil prices.

Foreign firms win work thanks to fewer tea breaks

Italian construction workers at the Lindsey Oil Refinery were more productive than their UK counterparts because they took fewer tea breaks and put on their work gear before clocking-on.

Conciliation body Acas issued its report today into the wildcat strikes over foreign labour which spread from Lindsey last month to other engineering construction sites.

Gazprom close to practical projects in Bolivia - Medvedev

MOSCOW (Itar-Tass) -- Russia’s gas giant Gazprom is close to concrete projects in Bolivia, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said after Monday’s talks with visiting Bolivian President Evo Morales.

“Energy is the most important line of activity,” he said. “The point at issue is Russia’s cooperation in the development of hydrocarbons. A memorandum with Gazprom has been signed, and it paves the way for practical action.”

Petroleum Exec: World is Very Close to Peak Oil Production

Not all energy companies agree with Total’s pessimistic outlook for the oil industry’s ability to ratchet up demand.

BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward believes that suggestions that the world is already running out of hydrocarbon reserves are premature, considering that the world has produced about 1 trillion barrels of oil to date, but that another 1 trillion barrels of proven reserves are still in the ground, and another trillion barrels exist but are not yet commercially viable.

War of words over nuclear power north of the border

Scotland cannot rely on renewable energy alone, and must turn to nuclear power to safeguard future electricity production, Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy claimed yesterday.

Mr Murphy told the BBC’s Politics Show it was crucial to invest in renewable energy – such as tidal and wind power – but only as part of a wider mix.

Eco-town is where happiness blossoms

The push to make things "bigger, better, faster" is not only driving the planet to ruin - it's making us unhappy, according to a visiting expert on eco-towns.

Naresh Giangrande is on a world tour teaching people how to live slower, less wasteful lives, reducing their carbon footprint in the process.

EU Carbon Permits Fall Near Record as UN Expects Supply Jump

(Bloomberg) -- European Union emission permits dropped near a record after the United Nations said it expects a 50 percent jump in registrations for greenhouse gas reduction projects this year, boosting the supply of credits.

Carbon Burial Research Grows as Huge Experiment Begins

CHICAGO — A landmark Energy Department project to bury carbon dioxide produced by humans has begun as workers sunk a huge drill bit into Illinois ground this week, signaling continued support for a climate change mitigation strategy that has fallen out of favor in many circles.

Hamburgers are the Hummers of food in global warming: scientists

CHICAGO (AFP) – When it comes to global warming, hamburgers are the Hummers of food, scientists say.

Simply switching from steak to salad could cut as much carbon as leaving the car at home a couple days a week.

Global warming 'changing balance' of marine life in polar seas

Global warming is changing the distribution, abundance and diversity of marine life in the polar seas with "profound" implications for creatures further up the food chain, according to scientists involved in the most comprehensive study of life in the oceans ever conducted.

Firestorms and Deep Freeze: Climate Change May Bring Both

Global warming deniers keep pointing to snowstorms as proof that climatologists are wrong. But both extreme heat and cold are on tap.

A cold winter doesn't mean climate change isn't happening

January and early February may have seemed very cold in the UK, but global land and ocean temperatures were higher than any year in the 20th century.

Burp of Arctic laughing gas is no joke

It seems the Arctic is belching out nitrous oxide – commonly known as laughing gas. Unfortunately, the punchline is that it is a powerful greenhouse gas.

The CEATI International website has a neat little calculator (http://www.ceati.com/calculator/) that estimates the potential energy and cost savings of drain water heat recovery devices such as those offered by GFX (http://gfxtechnology.com/) and Renewability (http://www.renewability.com/powerpipe.htm). The calculator is geared for Canadians, as the model takes into consideration regional variations in water temperature and fuel prices, but you can easily adjust many of the variables to better reflect your own circumstances.

These units retail for about $600.00 CDN (perhaps less now that copper prices have fallen back) and for households with shower lov’n teenagers or where energy costs are high, the savings can be fairly significant; for more frugal/conservation minded or childless homes, they're unlikely to be cost-effective (e.g., for our two person household, it would reduce our power bill by less than $3.00 a month).


Hi Paul,
Thanks for the links.
Here on the Dundalk Highland of southern Ontario our savings would match yours. The same thing applies to solar hot water pre-heater systems (the two stage type). Unless there is a high volume savings are not going to give a good payback. You may have already done this once before but do you have a link that would let us calculate similar savings for instant demand hot water heating systems?
Our low tech solution at the moment is to put in the plug when showering and let the water cool as space heating before draining the tub (same for baths and the kitchen sink). No capital expendeture required once you buy a low flow shower head and if your heated air is dry like ours no moisture problem either. Well sealed houses would have to consider this using an air exchanger. Other life style changes such as washing hands in cold water also require no capital expenditure.

Hi Don,

Our household uses between 100 and 120 litres of water a day (~ 30 U.S. gallons) and I'm guessing perhaps one-third of that would be heated. If we assume 40 litres of hot water demand and a 50C temperature rise, we're looking at less than 2.5 kWh worth of electricity per day, not including standby losses. The standby losses of a conventional 180 litre electric water heater will vary by model, but most fall between 60 and 70-watts and a larger 270-litre model might take us closer to 80 or 90-watts.

So, that said, 0.065 kW x 8,760 hrs/year = 569.4 kWh/yr and 0.085 kW = 744.6 kWh/yr; at $0.12 per kWh, our annual standby losses are $68.33 and $89.35 respectively. Note that for those of us who heat our homes six or seven months of the year our actual out-of-pocket cost may be half this amount given that this waste heat simply offsets a portion of our normal space heating demand.

And for those who question how two people can use so little water, this is a copy of our most recent statement:


Congrats on the low water usage. I'm planning on using around 7-10 gallons of water or less a day once my home is completed, through ultra-frugality. It will be necessary for me, as my water supply will be water catchment. My current water usage cannot be considered, as laundry and showers do not occur at my current location. (No running water when the lines are frozen!) However, the ultra-low flow shower heads combined with taking navy showers (used to doing that in my Airstream when it isn't freezing outside) should make for low water usage on that front, and my washing machine is a front-loader.

Of course, not everyone is willing to make such sacrifices, and I would say that I do indulge when I'm not home by taking a regular shower. hehe. Normal things become such wonderful luxuries.

Greetings, fellow Air-head (34 ft. tri-axle myself). The good news is that there's really no sacrifice at all... low flow shower heads (and navy showers), low-flush toilets, a front load washer and although we have a high efficiency dishwasher, I prefer to wash dishes by hand so that I can recycle the rinse water rather than let it flush down the drain.

When I do dishes, I prewash with a small amount of cold water, then heat about a half litre of water in an electric kettle (better to heat 500 ml of cold water in the kettle than to purge five litres of previously heated but now cooled water down the sink drain). To further minimize water usage, I wash dishes in a large stainless steel mixing bowl rather than the kitchen sink (stainless steel is more sanitary than plastic). Likewise, the initial five litres or so of cooled water that is purged from the shower line is captured in a watering can so that it can be reused for plant watering and toilet flushing.

At $1.58 CDN per 1,000 litres, including sewer and waste treatment charges, our water is dirt cheap, but that's no reason to waste it.


Hi Paul,
We are not metered here, just pay a flat rate however we have several things that reduce our consumption. We use rain water for garden watering and do not water any grass. As well we compost humanure so we have reduced our "waste" water considerably. I would say by about 50L a day.
we also use a batch solar pre-heater on our gas fired water heater. This unit runs from about mid-April to mid-October. You can go to this link and check out the last link "Solar Water Pre-Heater"
We are considering other low cost changes but money is short and we need a new roof. All the best.

Great stuff, Don.

I use to heat my laundry water in a 50 metre garden hose I would roll out on the back patio -- a couple hours in direct sun and the water was scalding hot. I discontinued this practice due to concerns over water quality and given that I can wash a load of whites in hot water once a week for about 1.5 kWh of electricity, I was prepared to accept the loss.

For the über frugal amonst us, most front loaders have one wash and three or four rinse cycles and if you have a sep tub, you can capture and reuse the last two rinses for your next load of laundry.


Re: Russian oil output down 0.8%, gas down 10.5% in Jan. year-on-year (linked uptop)

I have previously noted that Russia is in the "danger zone" in regard to natural gas consumption as a percentage of production. Here are the most recent numbers from the EIA (for 2006):

Production: 23.2 TCF
Consumption: 16.6
Net Exports: 6.6


Net exports were up only sightly from 2005 (6.5 TCF).

The problem is that with high levels of consumption relative to production, production declines cause huge drops in net exports. For example, a 10% decline in production from 23.2 TCF (exponential decline rate of -11.4%/year), with flat consumption, would cause a year over year decline rate of -43%/year in net exports.


Have you done an analysis on the top 5 oil suppliers to the US?
Are they Canada, Mexico, Venezuela, Nigeria, Saudi?
When will Mexico's decline offset the rise from the others?


The EIA shows combined net oil exports of 5 mbpd from Canada, Venezuela and Mexico in 2004. Based on Pemex annual data for 2008, and on monthly EIA data (and assuming same rate of change in consumption for Canada and Venezuela for 2008 as 2007), I estimate that their combined net exports for 2008 were down to about 3.9 mbpd. These countries are three of our top four sources of imported oil.

Their combined estimated four year decline in net exports slightly offsets total current Canadian net oil exports.

Matthew Simmons has some interesting information about the Russian gas situation in his latest presentation

What Kangaroo Court Created Our Oil And Gas Markets?

posted on his web site here.

On slide 30, Simmons states Russia did not have enough gas for peak winter in Russia and Europe, let alone Ukraine. So they closed the taps and Europe almost froze. Simmons goes on to say that the problem was not political, it was mature Siberian giant gas fields in steep decline.

On slide 31, Simmons points out that Russia's top three gas fields produce 65% - 70% of its gas and he has a nice graphic of the (rather steep) decline of these fields.

On a personal note, I had a very helpful visit from the Energy Saving Trust (UK) last week and am now looking at an air source heat pump backed up with a compliant wood burner for home heating to diversify away from natural gas.

Renewable Ali

Does this mean that those talks about new pipelines in the north and south, which bypass the Ukraine, are just that, TALK?

Simmons made a similar claim in the Forbes magazine article linked a couple of drumbeats ago.

Here are the slides you refer to

If this is true it is very, very serious. Russian gas is generally not expected to peak before 2020-2030 time period.

Jerome a Paris doesn't believe it's true. I think he's going to write a key post about it soon.

Well what we know for certain from the article you linked uptop

Russian oil output down 0.8%, gas down 10.5% in Jan. year-on-year

...natural gas output fell 10.5% to 55.2 billon cubic meters, the Federal Statistics Service said on Monday... gas exports plunged 74.1% to 12.35 billion cu m.

Gas production and exports were hit by the gas dispute with Ukraine.

It certainly feels possible to me that the Russians needed a cover story and that Simmons could well be correct Will be interested to see Jerome's analysis.

Also I know from email that Rune has "noted" Simmons comments so hopefully he may be able to comment as well.

I Russia is so short on NG supplies, why are they so gung ho on selling LNG from Sakhalin? I thought that there was pipeline connection from Sakhalin back to Russian already. With those portrayed declines, Russia will be need its own gas pretty quickly.

Hello Undertow,

The diagram above is based upon data from Gazprom through the link below in Gazprom in Q and A;

Gazprom production

Scroll down approximately one third of the webpage until the headline of "What are Gazprom's production plans?.

On the top of the linked webpage, Gazprom has listed their annual production for the years 2001 - 2007 with a forecast for 2008.

There is nothing in Gazproms information that supports Simmons claims, and Gazprom is a professional gas Seller.

The reason for Russian gas production being down in January 2009 should be seen in context with the dispute between Russia and Ukraine on prices.

The actual data, through 2007, show a slight decline in production. We can erroneously project lots of things (trending down as well as up), as people have learned to their sorrow.

From 2006 to 2007 European nat gas imports from Russia was down 7 Gcm/a according to BP Statistical Review.

Gazproms gas production (approximately 85 % of total Russian nat gas production) was down from 556 Gcm/a in 2006 to 548,6 Gcm/a in 2007, or just above 7 Gcm/a according to Gazprom’s data.

Nat gas consumption is weather sensitive.

So, Gazprom's NG production fell at -1.3%/year in 2007. If this approximately true for the whole country, and if we assume flat consumption, net NG exports would have fallen at about -5%/year in 2007 (extrapolating from 2006 EIA data). And as you noted, the delivery shortfall would worsen during periods of cold weather in Russia.

Speaking of extrapolating, at a decline rate of -1.3%/year, and a consumption increase at +1.3%/year, Russia would approach zero net NG exports in about 13 years (our middle case has them approaching zero net oil exports in about 15 years).

EU's gas consumption was down approximately 8 Gcm/a from 2006 to 2007, and I think it is too early to conclude that Russian nat gas production has peaked.
Nat gas consumption is weather sensitive but also subject to the level of economical activity.

Although according to the BP Statistical Review (PDF) from 2006 to 2007 total Europe/Eurasia gas consumption increased by 4.2bcm while total Europe/Eurasia production fell by 0.5bcm.

I think we can conclude that the supply/demand balance is very tight and that Simmons shouldn't be dismissed out of hand given his likely additional sources. If 2006 does turn out to be the final Russian peak and Simmons is right - well.....

If Simmons is as wrong on this as some suggest then that's also very significant.

And Gazprom's expected production for 2008 was 561 bcm (which would have been a new peak) but they only achieved 549.7 bcm (pretty much flat with 2007 production) despite new production coming online, so the 2006 peak still stands. That has to call Gazprom's future projections into question does it not? January 2009 production was down 10% from Jan 2008 (partially blamed on the Ukraine dispute) so this year has got off to a very bad start.

A key problem, as noted up the thread, is that natural gas consumption is such a high percentage of production (72%, in 2006). Based on the 2006 numbers, about a 3% drop in production would cause a 10% decline in net exports.

But let's look at daily numbers and assume a weather related spike in demand. The 2006 daily numbers look like this:

Production: 64 BCF/day
Consumption: 46
Net Exports: 18

If, for example, production dropped 3%, and winter consumption spiked 15%, net exports would drop to 62-53 = 9 BCF/day, a 50% decline from the annual average net export number. I suspect that this explains a lot of the recent Russian gas problems. BTW, the ongoing decline in Russian oil production is probably contributing to the decline in total gas production (as casinghead gas declines).

FYI, if we took the Export Land numbers (-5%/year decline rate & +2.5%/year rate of increase in consumption), and started with consumption equal to 72% of production at final peak, net exports would go to zero in five years, instead of nine years (assuming consumption = 50% of production at final peak).

So a predictable corollary of ELM is that each year we'll see increasing numbers of "rare" supply/weather/damage/terror/whatever events around the globe causing geopolitical strife, as what were previously small and mitigated events become large and disastrous?


According to the EIA, it looks like there was a recent peak in Russia's net natural gas exports in 1999 at 6,812 BCF/yr or 18.7 BCF/day. Russia appears to be struggling to increase natural gas net exports at a fast enough rate to meet growing European demand.

Annual Russia Natural Gas Net Exports - click to enlarge

Also from the EIA is Russia's own increasing gas consumption. Even if Russia could produce more gas, is there sufficient pipeline capacity to meet the demand from Russia and its customers, especially during peak demand periods like winter?

Annual Russia Natural Gas Consumption - click to enlarge

BTW, talking about challenging conventional wisdom, here is an article linked on EB that talks about US coal reserves. Apparently, based on BTU's, the US is probably already post-peak production for coal.

This would explain the huge drop in US net coal exports, on a BTU basis (down at about -20%/year from 1996 to 2006). David Rutledge will be doing an article soon on the topic for Gristmill.

Are we approaching peak coal? (#2)
Joseph Romm, Gristmill

Coal may not be as abundant as widely believe; 'clean coal' effort may be fruitless

Part 1 noted that the U.S. Geological Survey's stunning December report found:

"The coal reserves estimate for the Gillette coalfield is 10.1 billion short tons of coal (6 percent of the original resource total)."

Although the report didn't get much media attention, it was a shocker because the Gillette field, within Wyoming's Powder River Basin "is the most prolific coalfield in the United States" and in 2006 provided "over 37 percent of the Nation's total yearly production."

Now Clean Energy Action has issued a new report, Coal: Cheap and Abundant ... Or is it? that goes beyond the analysis in the USGS study and concludes:

"It appears that rather than having a "200 year supply of coal," the United States has a much shorter planning horizon for moving beyond coalfired power plants. Depending on the resolution of geologic, economic, legal and transportation constraints facing future coal mine expansion, the planning horizon for moving beyond coal could be as short as 20-30 years."

What if Russian gas production has peaked, and what if US coal production (on a BTU basis) has peaked?

Based on the EIA net exports chart, the US is periously close to becoming a net coal importer, based on BTU's:


Rune and Euan also have questions about Simmons story. I think it is actually Euan writing the article.

The x axis on that chart is out to lunch. That is not the way to build a credible argument

Well if you insist then here it is with a linear x axis

Thinking about this and doing some googling it appears Simmons must be assuming a delay of Gazprom's Bovanenkovskoye project to around the 2015 time-scale. Bovanenkovskoye is currently projected to begin production in 2011 and quickly ramp up to a peak of 140bcm/year. The only other major Gazprom project is South Russkoye projected to come online this year at 25bcm/year and if Simmons is correct about all this will do is stave off about 1 year of natural decline from existing fields.

Current costs estimated by Gazprom to develop Bovanenkovskoye is $50 billion. Average production costs from existing Soviet-era fields are estimated at less than $10 per 1,000 cubic meters. but $30-$40 per 1,000 cubic meters in the new South Russkoye field. This info from http://en.rian.ru/analysis/20090210/120076254.html

Edit: Here's another story on Russian Gas just published

Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Gazprom did not fulfil its production plan

Moscow. Gazprom’s production plans have experienced collapse, Russian Nezavisimaya Gazeta informs. According to the report the company published, instead of the promised 561 billion cu m of gas, the energy giant has acquired 549, 7 billion cu m in 2008.
The fall in gas prices all over the world and the failure to fulfil the plans decrease Gazprom’s financial abilities, which might lead to postponing the terms for discovering new deposits. Such a situation does not exclude any further fall in the extraction of raw materials. The possible deficit will be covered at the expense of gas provided by independent producers and increasing imports form central Asia.
Gazprom’s report says that gas production has increased by 0,2% in 2008 in comparison with 2007. Nevertheless, this quantity is with 11,3 billion cu m less than planned and less than the 556 billion cu m of natural gas produced in 2006.

Oil supply crunch in 2010?

Yes, it will be a crunch, and a cave in.
OPEC has agreed to cut supplies by 4.2 million bpd since September to prop up prices. Earlier this month, the group said its members had delayed 35 new oil projects due to low prices and the slowdown in demand. When OPEC tries to restart the projects it will be too late.

Without new projects to offset declines, there will be a shortfall of up to 5 million barrels per day in 2010. That shortfall will be enough to disrupt any economic recovery that is under way in 2010. Sometimes OPEC is a real brain donor. They are their own worst enemy.......

It looks as though the economic downturn and falling oil supply will go together until a new baseline is reached - probably at 1/2 of current daily oil usage. The real question remains - IS 40 million barrels per day enough oil to convert the world off of oil and onto electric?????

Assuming a reduced net export rate of 20 mbpd, our middle case is that the top five net oil exporters are currently shipping about one percent of their remaining cumulative net oil exports every 50 days.

I'd suggest their assumption of a recovery is wishful thinking. With a new wave of mortgage resets, this year's fall in commercial real estate, the knock-on effects and unintended consequences of the current economic crash - not the least of which are job losses - there is exactly zero chance of pulling out of this downturn in 2010.

Can anyone name me one single positive sign in the economy beyond Bailout II? People shouldn't even begin to think about recovery unless and until the toxic assets are market priced and sold or allowed to blow away into the abyss.

Oh, and regarding oil production, I'd look for demand destruction to keep about parallel to production losses (something Ace might want to consider in his projections), so see the crunch further out than '10. Sorry, no skillful analysis, just eyeball calculations.


But as Jan Lundberg states, collapse is a positive sign.

Found the perps who destroyed Murray Darling:

Culgoa River and Cubbie Station Irrigation Property,
Queensland,Australia - December 12th, 2008


"The water is used to supply 130 square kilometres of irrigated cotton and other crops including wheat, which brings in about $50 million a year.

The station is often derided for its large water usage requirements in a time of extreme drought in Australia and damage to the Murray Darling river system.

The station’s irrigation license allows it to take 460,000 megalitres. This is enough water to fill Sydney Harbour."

460,000 megalitres to bring in $50 million of crops?
That's 9,200 litres per $. They would make much more money by just selling the water instead of bothering to grow crops.

mcgowanmac,Cubbie Station,while it is an abomination,is only a small part of the massive over-allocation of water in the Murray-Darling system.
There is currently a Federal Government buyout of water licenses but it is underfunded.Ultimately there will be more than a few communities which will go bust because of water shortages for irrigation.

Can anyone name me one single positive sign in the economy beyond Bailout II?

A good question. And I wouldn't necessarily even consider "Bailout II" to be a positive.

From the assumed perspective (that getting back to a growing economy is the goal), it is indeed hard to see a single positive sign.

From another perspective (that sees an end to growth economics as the goal) there is lots positive in the economic news. For example, hard as it is on those 20 million plus Chinese who have lost their jobs in the last few months (think about that for a minute, 20 million, and here in the U.S. we're moaning about 3-4 million), it does mean that the world is producing a substantially smaller amount of plasticrap, throwaway clothing, and other such useless "production."

Agreed about bailouts. I've made my stance on those pretty clear, so was sloppy about stating it clearly here.

Agreed on the rest, too. Timing is bad for me. Two more years would have helped a great deal, but, well, heeeeeere we go!


Dmitry Orlov is starting to read like Suzie Orman:

"What if you still have a job? How do you prepare then? The obvious answer is, be prepared to quit or to be laid off or fired at any moment. It really doesn’t matter which one of these it turns out to be; the point is to sustain zero psychological damage in the process. Get your burn rate to as close to zero as you can, by spending as little money as possible, so than when the job goes away, not much has to change. While at work, do as little as possible, because all this economic activity is just a terrible burden on the environment. Just gently ride it down to a stop and jump off."

Somehow, I can't imagine Suze telling people to do as little work as possible while on the job.

"Can anyone name me one single positive sign in the economy beyond Bailout II? People shouldn't even begin to think about recovery unless and until the toxic assets are market priced and sold or allowed to blow away into the abyss."

When recovery comes, (2012?) it will be ponderous and slow. The debt burdens hanging over all the world's economies will make sure of that!

"When recovery comes, (2012?) it will be ponderous and slow."


The only thing positive in "Bailout II" is that it will bring about the collapse sooner.

The sooner it comes down the better we will be.

Power Down.

r.e. Can anyone name me one single positive sign in the economy

From an environmental viewpoint, the recent changes are excellent. Global petroleum consumption is down 5%. Imagine what kind of international climate change agreement it would have taken to get this kind of reduction.
US new home construction is down from 2 to 0.5 million housing starts per year. Thats lots of farmland, forest, and wetlands that is not being converted to suburbia; think how many local environmental protests it would have taken to stop 1.5 million homes from being built.
Worldwide all automakers are closing factories, laying off shifts, and taking extra holidays. Thats millions of new cars not being built to cause more global warming.
Mining companies around the world are canceling or delaying new projects and expansions. Again great news for the surrounding environment.
Canadian oil sands projects are being cancelled and delayed. Thats less water pollution, less forests cut down, and more natural gas available for other uses.
US ethanol plants are going into bankruptcy, and new plants being delayed and cancelled. Thats less cropland needed for corn, more available for other food products. Less fossil fuels needed for cooking the ethanol; less byproduct subsidizing cheap pork.


Couldn't agree more with your analysis of the environmental positives.

Possibly another effect of the current downturn/recession/depression whatever-it-is is the imprint it leaves on the younger generation, say anyone 20 yrs old and younger. The Great Depression had a major impact on many members of my parents' generation, some good from an environmental perspective (don't waste anything, use your resources sparingly), some not so good (make sure the kids and grandkids have all the "toys" that I didn't have as a kid in the 1930s).

Who knows. Maybe a typical U.S. kid who is 12 years old today, will, at let's say age 35, have such vivid memories of the 2008-20?? downturn that (s)he will have been living a life that is quite different from a typical 35 year old of today, at least in terms of conspicuous consumption.

Won't be a "V", won't even be a "U". It will be an "L". . . leading a few years down the road to another "L", and then another, all the way down the staircase.

I guess that's the other kind of Hockey Stick graph, eh?

High-Sticking vs a Slapshot, maybe?

Can anyone name me one single positive sign in the economy beyond Bailout II?

the chimp that can drive went back to crawford.

That should be qualified as to "the chimp that can drive a pickup truck".

IS 40 million barrels per day enough oil to convert the world off of oil and onto electric?????

First, one cannot possibly go from oil to electric. They are not even apples and oranges, two kinds of fruit. They are more like apples and rocks, not related to each other at all. Oil is a source of energy, electricity is not.

There is no substitute for a source of energy that has such a high EROEI as oil. Historically it had an EROEI of about 100 to 1. Now it is closer to 40 to 1. But new oil is probably somewhere around 5 to 1 to 3 to 1. Nothing else even comes close to that. On top of that, nothing else can be produced in the quantities that oil is produced.

You might produce enough ethanol, or electricity via solar power, to replace a few million barrels per day, but not anywhere near the equivalent of 40 million barrels per day.

The economy is currently in collapse mode. And it will not recover until the oil supply begins growing again at near the rate it has averaged growing for the last 100 years, about 1.5 percent per year. That is simply not going to happen. Our economy requires growth and an ever growing economy requires an ever growing source of energy.

Ron Patterson

First, one cannot possibly go from oil to electric. They are not even apples and oranges, two kinds of fruit. They are more like apples and rocks, not related to each other at all. Oil is a source of energy, electricity is not.

Oil is storable for long timeframes and the resulting liberation of heat per unit of weight is hard to beat unless one starts assembling atoms, ripping them apart or perhaps via 'forcing Hydrogen to a lower energy state'

And humans can go to electric. Just not at the levels of energy consumption they now enjoy.

You might produce enough ethanol, or electricity via solar power, to replace a few million barrels per day, but not anywhere near the equivalent of 40 million barrels per day.

That oil *IS* the expression of solar energy. Just because man did nothing to arrange for that solar capture does not mean it did not happen.

Unless one thinks the Earth and everything on it is only 6000 years old and the work of God, then in that case oil is just there.

Put simply, in order to grow economically our energy has to become ever more affordable (and actually be available) ... for ever ... so any alternatives to our current mix of fuels must also be more affordable than now ... it doesn't look like this can possibly happen as ELM says that the cheap, available, exportable, low hanging fruit has already been picked ... if cheaper options were available we would be already be using them!!!

Not necessarily. The underlying assumption of your post seems to be 1:1 replacement of current conditions. That is not really what we face. Given that the rest of the world uses 50% or less - often much, much less - of the energy we do in the US, Canada and Australia per capita, there is a lot of powering down that can be done.

If we then take it further and get down to a fraction of even that - which I believe is more than possible with distributed micro-energy and major shifts in lifestyle (and which ACC demands of us in any case) - then we have not nearly so daunting a task.

Consider for a moment that the economic collapse, or Greater depression, gives us a perfect time to make this shift as some significant percentage of power down will happen no matter what. The amount of energy saved by people just staying home instead of jumping in their cars to burn carbon doing irrelevant activities must be huge when you consider all the clothes not made, burgers not cooked, malls not lit and air conditioned...


The amount of energy saved by people just staying home instead of jumping in their cars to burn carbon doing irrelevant activities must be huge when you consider all the clothes not made, burgers not cooked, malls not lit and air conditioned...

Then consider all the people thrown out of work because they are not making all those things that we will be doing without. That is the point you seem to completely miss CCPO, our economy must either grow or collapse. A perfect example is Japan, an example some cornucopians give as an example that we can power down with little pain.

Japan's consumption of oil peaked in about 1996, about the exact time that their economy peaked. They have been on a downhill slide ever since and it is getting worse, a lot worse. Japan Economy Shrinks 12.7%, Steepest Drop Since 1974 And Japan, because their population is no longer growing, is in far better shape to weather a decline in GDP than other nations. Yet they are still suffering enormously.

Because of population growth, the economies must grow to absorb those extra people. And because new technology is always advancing, economies must grow to absorb the people thrown out of work because of new technology. And because our economy is based borrowed money, the economy must grow to pay the interest.

But you are correct, the coming great depression will be a great time to shift to a different lifestyle, using much less energy. The very sad part is the shift will be made by far fewer people than exist today.


But you are correct, the coming great depression will be a great time to shift to a different lifestyle, using much less energy. The very sad part is the shift will be made by far fewer people than exist today.

I think it might be worth refining this statement just a bit. I think you are correct in sentiment. But to be precise, the fact that there will be fewer people is not necessarily sad, indeed, the smaller number is needed. What is sad is how we will get to that smaller number.

Had we started 3 or 4 decades ago with a reasonable plan for population limitation, few people would have had to die prematurely or in violent or horrific manners. As it is, we have waited too long, and you are absolutely right, the way that people will die over the next 3 or 4 decades will truly be sad.

My wife and I didn't have any kids. Since that was a big non-contribution to the problem, I'd like to hope that we at least get to draw a "get a pass on the violent/horrific manner of death" card. But we probably won't.


That is the point you seem to completely miss CCPO

Ron, I think you've likely read enough of my posts to know that is not close to likely. As an example, as a thought experiment years ago I came up with a system to eliminate welfare. Well, gov't sponsored welfare. It went like this: neighborhoods took care of each other. When a family was short of work, the neighborhood - say 100 homes to make the numbers simple - fed them and kept their utilities paid. In exchange, they did whatever work was needed around the neighborhood. To include the wealthy and to make up for areas of high unemployment, you could include an adopt-a-neighborhood program for wealthy families and/or business/corporations. They would be tapped only when a certain level of need was reached to avoid a dependency relationship developing, perhaps. Etc., etc. Anyway, the poor are never out of my thoughts. My fairly constant calls for solutions that work at these levels reflects that rather clearly, I'd think.

Then again, I couldn't tell you the specific stances of most of the people who post here, so perhaps you had no clue on this one.

At any rate, I just don't see the need to constantly state the obvious. Nor did I wish to get into modeling the shift. I was addressing only that energy needs we have are not really the problem in and of themselves.


CCPO - I think these ideas about neighborhoods coming together and communities banding together are great. The problem is in our culture..american culture, the will is not there. Our neighborhoods and communities are too diverse. I have lived in only a few neighborhoods in my adult life where neighbors even spoke to each other frequently. Sure, we are aware of each other..but we don't mingle and we certainly don't help each other out much. I am generalizing so maybe, statistically, I have just lived in cold hearted neighborhoods. I don't think so though. Something more fundamentally needs to change, something more towards the spiritual side. Americans are more inclined to leave each other alone. Obama is a leader who has brought this to us in a way, a sense that we can all work together. But I am afraid the masses will turn on him soon as the dream fades and reality sets in. I am hopefull that people can do this for one another, but I am not betting on it. It will take real crises hitting close to home for it to begin. Else, we will all continue in our ways till it does. And then it is probably too late.

"cold hearted neighborhoods"

IMO, encouraging the homeless to live and garden on defunct golf courses in exclusive, gated community neighborhoods would be an excellent start in creating 'warm-hearted neighborhoods'.

Those elites that voted for Bush can return the favor by encouraging Shruburbs outside their backdoors on their non-viable golf courses. Recall the Depression-era NYC Hoovervilles in Central Park with the housing for the rich nearby. We can repeat this trend on the downslope, but improve it with full-on O-NPK recycling, minimal water usage methods, and SpiderWebRiding, thus avoiding the Zimbabwe cholera calamity where the poor are wheelbarrowing dying loved ones past the golfing country clubs.

Are topdog Americans like Mugabe? Or are they warm-hearted for the downslope ahead? The time is coming when this trend will be revealed for all to see. Will the PGA & Augusta National be Master-full is jumpstarting this relocalized permaculture conversion?

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

I think mostly, people are just too busy. The two-income family out in the suburbs means less time for neighbors. We're spending all our time working and commuting.

Like many engineers, I am not very people-oriented. For the most part, I'd rather deal with things and ideas than people. But since reading Bowling Alone, I've made more of an effort to get to know my neighbors, and I have not found them cold-hearted. Many of them seem very happy to have someone speak to them or help out. (My tip: helping someone shovel out their car in winter is an easy, low-risk way to break the ice. Literally. ;-)

Hello Leanan,

Trying to ponder what would be the equivalent blazing summer opposite here in my Asphaltistan...

I suppose a SUV owner could park next to a bus-stop, where lots of awaiting people are sweating profusely in the scorching daytime heat. The SUV owner could then offer an extremely comforting, interior A/C cooling off period on the 6-9 plush leather seats, while spreading the Peak Outreach news to the captive participants. Offering free snow-cones while talking about arctic melting might be greatly appreciated too. Peak Outreach info cards for all as they exit.

Would my 'Zonie Iron Triangle be willing to subsidize this combo activity to spur both Peak Outreach and SUV sales? Crazier things have happened...

Some more thoughts as this might not be as 'wild & crazy' as it initially seems:

Once WT's ELM becomes regional and/or regional terrorists regularly start disabling AZ FF-energy flows from CA & TX, then I expect Phx & Vegas to be caught terribly short on buses and mass-transit. The area will have no choice but to stop, then make every moving vehicle fill up with passengers as has been done in other areas at other times [Cuba does this constantly,AFAIK]. Nine people in an SUV gets fairly decent gas mileage/passenger.

Thus, since 'Murkans love SUVs, having the owners up-to-speed on Peak Outreach by requiring them to become informed before their purchase is allowed will help prepare us for the downslope sure to come. Then requiring them to spend bus-stop time informing others will make it easy for cooperative car-pooling efforts when an emergency arises.

Conversely, if these buyers decide to forego a SUV purchase upon becoming Peak Everything informed: they are much more likely to buy a bicycle, scooter, or small motorcycle [or vote for Alan Drake's ideas plus SpiderWebRiding too]. This could greatly reduce our local fuel consumption besides speedily reduce our road congestion.

Since the wealthy are more likely to be the purchasers of new vehicles: Peak Outreach to them might make them more amenable to out-migration to Cascadia. This would tend to reduce machete' moshpit violence in my area as the Overshoot would diminish a little.


You make the point well. I'd like to add the observation that a very high percentage of the posts here at TOD refer to BAII, business as it is, rather than how it needs to/will/should be.

That our neighbors seem inaccessible or uncaring is a function of what you state, as well as it simply not having been necessary to be otherwise. That is changing, and quickly.

Necessity is the mother of invention, and of rediscovery.


our economy must either grow or collapse.

If no one likes collapse, then perhaps the model of the economy must change?

I agree ... but that ain't economic growth ... and if you think world human population can continue growing without growing the food supply you are very wrong ... in OECD countries our one-time-use-intensive-fertilzer coupled with flush toilets is totally unsustainable ... IMO we are still on the steep upslope of a gaussian shaped curve ... we live in a once in 4,500,000,000 year unsustainable exponential growth era ... enjoy it while you can.

IT is time for the human race to stop growing. Like a teenager, we all stop growing.
If the population stops growing then the economy will not need to grow.
Growth is not always good. Maybe we can genetically engineer smaller people that eat
1/4 of the food required today.

Then there will be negative growth (decline) until the new equilibrium is reached.

If the country's goal is to power down several percent then we have a chance. However the people who will make the critical decisions of the country's goal feel they need to get re-elected. They will continue to make bad decisions to form the illusion of trying to help the country while the real purpose is to get re-elected. Say anything to get elected and then do anything to stay elected.

That is precisely why I am and will continue to be a Doomer. Murphey is an optimist in this environment.


On being a doomer as expressed by Lynford.

IMO(not the opinion here) the best path to escaping some or all of the upcoming event IS to be a doomer!

This makes you tend to plan for the event instead of sitting posting on TOD how bad it is to be a doomer.

I am a doomer. I wish I was not. I don't want to see a meltdown. Its a nightmare to me. Yet I do what I think I must do for the future.

And so if I am wrong them I have lost nothing, in fact gained. But if I am right then I may see more of what life I have left.

Living in interesting times , welllll can be interesting.

I loved my youth. I dreamed and lived the Amurkhan dream and contributed my share of consumption to what makes it now untenable.

But I stopped most all of that long ago...some 20 yrs ago to be precise. So now I make my footprint upon the ecology and nature as small as possible. I tend my soil. I consume much of what I eat. I kicked the 'operator' off my land back in 1988 and let it go back to pasture. I refused the logging rats the right to come in and rain destruction on my woodlands.

There are those on TOD making and implementing changes.Many are busy sharing their work with others here. Good for them.This site needs more of that. The rest of the Key Posts are very enlightening as well and show evidence of what is really happening. In finance and energy. I appreciate that effort very much.

The rest are just bystanders and denialists. Thats ok. It gives me something to read. And I might just be wrong and Obama et. al. might pull a rabbit outen their arses. I am personally though definitely basing MY life on politicians lies and promises. Never.


"There is no substitute for a source of energy that has such a high EROEI as oil. "

Understand, that oil is a form of stored energy. We may find that there are other forms of stored energy that we have not considered in the past. Energy is not created, it is converted from one form to another. The energy in oil was produced by the heat in the earth and chemical reactions. We may need to consider using the heat inside the earth as an energy source. The inner earth is a large nuclear reactor, and so is the sun. Trees store energy from the Sun. Burning fossil fuel may be the least effective means of converting energy.

The energy in oil was produced by the heat in the earth and chemical reactions

Thanks for clarifying this. Wow. Now I know what scale of salt grain to sprinkle your posts with. How do you say it exactly? Take a "wiz on yourself"?

OK , then where did it come from ????

I have a word for you...just one word...Photosynthesis...

E. Swanson

Abiogenic petroleum origin is a pretty bizarre idea.

This is what you are essentially referring to Nowhere. And it's a pretty weak argument.

OPEC must be close to complying with 75% of their announced 4.2 mbd cuts.

The forecast chart below assumes OPEC compliance is 75% and that total liquids demand in 2009 is 84.7 mbd, down 1 mbd from 2008 which agrees with demand estimates from the recent IEA OMR.
Some notional demand recovery is forecast for 2010.

click to enlarge

Projects are being delayed but most delays are from originally scheduled projects in 2011 and 2012. Some delays are for originally scheduled projects in 2010. The result of these delays is that the ten year average capacity addition has fallen from 3.7 mbd to 3.6 mbd, as shown below.

click to enlarge

Careful reading of the Reuters press release on the IEA's statement is that "there could be an oil market supply crunch from next year".

In other words, the oil market supply crunch could start next year and might last until 2012 when high prices force another cycle of demand destruction.

Careful analysis of supply capacity additions from Wiki Oil Megaprojects shows that Saudi Arabia remains key to supply additions.

Saudi claimed capacity additions from 2008 to 2010 are supposed to be about 2.7 mbd (Khursaniyah crude, 500 kbd; Khursaniyah NGL, 290 kbd; Hawiyah NGL, 300 kbd; Khurais, 1,200 kbd; Nuayyim, 100 kbd; Shaybah ph 2, 250 kbd; and Khurais NGL, 70 kbd).

The Saudi crude capacity additions of about 2 mbd from 2008 to 2010 are not helping world supply as Saudi Arabia is cutting production. As of Jan 2009, Saudi Arabia's crude production was estimated by Platts to be 8.03 mbd, almost equal to its new OPEC quota of 8.01 mbd.

The chart below shows the quick response by Saudi Arabia to cut production. In July 2008, production was 9.7 mbd and in January 2009 it's 8.0 mbd, a big drop.

However, it's worth noting that the depletion rate of remaining reserves, sometimes called the extraction rate, is forecast to be 4.4% from January 2009 to July 2009. This depletion rate is the same as the average from January 2005 to December 2007. As the current depletion rate is less than 5%, this indicates that Saudi has the ability to increase production back up to 8.75 mbd early next year, if required.

As the other OPEC-11 countries are unlikely to comply 100% with their share of cuts, it is possible that Saudi Arabia may reduce production further to ensure OPEC-11's 100% compliance with the 4.2 mbd cuts. This source says that Saudi Arabia will cut to 7.7 mbd this month.

click to enlarge

If world total liquids demand does increase later this year and OPEC, including Saudi Arabia, decides not to increase production quickly, a supply crunch could happen later this year rather than 2010. Consequently, an upwards oil price spike could occur as soon as the second half of this year.

A critical assumption in the chart above is that the ultimate recoverable crude reserves for Saudi Arabia, including half of the Neutral Zone, are 185 billion barrels (Gb). Saudi may have more, say URR 200 Gb, which may increase Saudi's forecast production but will have only a very small impact on future world crude production. For a further discussion of Saudi crude URR please click here.

Another important point about the chart above is that, excluding Nuayyim, all of Saudi's new projects of Khurais, Manifa, Shaybah and Khursaniyah are either workovers or expansions of fields which have already been producing. The chart below shows the producing fields by red vertical bars. The OIIP of these producing fields was just less than 500 Gb in 2005. One method of assessing the reasonableness of the URR 185 Gb is to assume that if this URR related only to producing fields, then the recovery factor would be an average 37% for these producing fields (185 Gb/500 Gb). This is well above the world average of 33%.

click to enlarge
source www.cge.uevora.pt/aspo2005/abscom/ASPO2005_Zagar.ppt

I may have missed it, but I've wondered for some time now about the energy costs of recycling, and what pressures on recycling we might expect in a post-peak world. We know that recycling costs come down to the cost of purifying the waste stream, so commercial recycling, with its more known and controlled sources, is more energy efficient than domestic recycling. Capital costs are a problem in the current financial situation, but recycling generates jobs. Does anyone have more recent information or experience than this or this?

There have been several articles like these lately:

Economic crisis hits city recycling

China: Rubbish Collectors Struggle To Survive

Commercial recycling I don't have a handle on, but I've wondered in recent years about curbside.

Having great big trucks driving from house to house to pick up low quality stuff just doesn't seem worth it. I liked the model in Portland where people put the stuff out at the curb and the vagrants come and rummage through it for valuables. Also there are secondary factors like landfill space. If dumps (or 'rubbish tips' in Australia) are cheap and available I don't think anyone would bother. But we had a 'dump crisis' a few years back so the gov. mandated recycling to bring down landfill costs.

And then there's the whole 'guilt' thing. We make our little offerings to Mother Earth each week at the curbside and hope she won't send a hurricane or tornado or other calamity our way. In exchange for a couple tin cans and wine bottles... Forgive us our SUV and mcmansion...

Then there's the market for the stuff. Stories lately talk about demand for the material crashing. In Portland (Oregon) they had big empty ships sailing back to China to get more cars and trinkets, so it made sense to fill them up with newspaper and cans. If you didn't have a port near by, the cost of moving all that low quality crap was probably greater than it's value.

But what about when we run out of trees? If you value forests then paper recycling becomes worthwhile. But if the forests are all dying from from climate change, there's such a glut of pulp that again there's no demand for old paper.

I figure I'm saving energy by not recycling plastic. By the time it gets to the end user it's too late. An honest assessment of energy cost and some choices made higher up would seem helpful. Along with some value judgements.

As with energy its self, I see the end result as just much more expensive - and less - stuff.

Everything that will rot gets composted and most things that are flammable get burnt for fuel. Since we buy most food in bulk we have little packaging materials to go to the landfill. Once a month or so, we put the dumpster out at the curb altho we pay for weekly trash pickup. Also about once per month we take our recyclables - mostly glass - to the recycle center.

Our city has recently implemented curbside recycling. The fee increase on our utility bill is there, whether we use the service or not. Thing is, tho, that they don't accept glass. So I will still have to periodically take glass to the recycle center. As far as I'm concerned, curbside recycling was just a scam to increase our utility bill.

Domestic recycling is a pretty easy problem to solve, economically, if not politically. Just put deposits on recyclable items. If your milk jugs and yogurt containers had a deposit, they would find themselves a way to the recycler. Either you would take them, or someone would be happy to do it for you.

I guess all the doomers stocking canned goods would have to forfeit their deposits, however...

Here in New Zealand in the 1950's, 1960's, 1970's, we had deposits on all glass bottles. At any local show, such as the A&P, or rodeos, etc, kids would collect all the dropped or thrown away bottles. Beer bottles were only worth 1d (one penny in the old currency), but small fizzy-drink (ie soda) bottles were worth 3d and large ones 6d. With pocket money at 1S (ie 1 shilling = 12 pence per week) this was a major source of income for kids.

There were no such things as the thin-wall, "no deposit" glass bottles. The Boy Scouts movement was mostly funded on an annual or biannual bottle drive, where parents with cars and trailers and several kids each would cover the whole town collecting all empty glass products.

The local rubbish tip (dump) was known as the "exchange", where one man's junk was another's treasure. We didn't have "Safety and Healthy" regulations in those days, preventing sensible folk from reclaiming "junk".

Plastic was rare, paper was burnt for heating, metals went to the local junk merchant, and anything compostable went into the compost heap. Old household items went to the local auction rooms, where someone lower on the financial scale would buy them and use them for a few more years.

I suspect that one of the intermediate steps in the coming collapse, will be a return to these former, more rational, methods of living. As an avid collector, (or perhaps hoarder) I look forward to the elimination of rules banning the recycling of thrown away goods. Reduce,Reuse, Repair, Recycle, is great for the ordinary folk, but is a disaster for the parasitic BAU class.

The "Interesting Times" are upon us!!

The local rubbish tip (dump) was known as the "exchange", where one man's junk was another's treasure. We didn't have "Safety and Healthy" regulations in those days, preventing sensible folk from reclaiming "junk".

I don't go to the dump very often, but every time I do I see something that I want to go snatch - but it's feckin' illegal! I've thought about camping out at the entrance and perusing the trucks that come in, but I'd probably get the cops called on me. I could also probably make a fortune on the side just picking up things that are slightly broken, fixing them, and then re-selling.

Reduce, Reuse, Repair, Recycle, is great for the ordinary folk, but is a disaster for the parasitic BAU class.

Through a constant bombardment of advertising, these people have essentially reinforced constantly buying new stuff as the only socially acceptable norm and that's going to be a tough nut to crack.

Absolutely nothing, should be going into a landfill. Anytime. Anyplace.

The scam that Waste Management has, with the pay off of the local government officials, to force the residents to pay for the trash pickup and recycle, whether one uses it or not, is just another straw on the camel.

If a company sells a product, it takes back the waste to recycle. Or, don't sell the product.

This reminds me of a strange story. I used to tell this joke...

(Please to be reading in fake Russian accent!)

Q: How many Russian Cosmonauts does it take to change light bulb?
A: Just one, but why change? Is not broke bad... can fix!

Then one day I met someone whose parents lived in Eastern Europe, and sure enough, his father used to replace the filaments in light bulbs, pump them down and reseal them for reuse.

The joke's on me.

For recycling to get anywhere close to where it needs to be, local recyclables need to be recycled locally. Shipping them off across the ocean to China or Indida isn't going to cut it as far as long-term sustainability goes.

Nice paper by Didier Sornett:


This paper unites some of the discussion here at TOD. Was the oil run-up due to speculation or fundamentals. Sornette shows a clear statistical signature of speculation - speculation made possible by the increasing uncertainty in the supply/demand balance.

This paper pre-supposes quite a bit of familiarity with discrete scale-invariance models of financial markets. A modestly technical description may be found in Sornettes book "Why Markets Crash".

I have followed Sornette's work for some time and have a fair degree of respect for his theories.

Matthew Simmons has also made the claim that speculators drove up oil prices. Simmons argues that there are two oil markets: the dry market in which speculators trade "paper" bbls and the wet market, the real stuff that you can refine and burn.

Simmons claimed that price formation in the dry market resulted in the recent price run up. I don't have the url for this but if I find it I will post it.

Unsurprisingly, it's a bad paper.
I don't think any knowledge about financial models is required to see through it.

It states: "In finance and economics, the term bubble
refers to a situation in which excessive expectations
of future price increases cause prices to be temporarily elevated without justification from fundamental valuation."
But doesn't explain (even by dropping a cite) how that would happen in the oil market or how one would determine the "fundamental valuation" of oil. It's almost as if they don't understand that oil is not an asset but something that's refined and then burned!

They seem to make other unstated assumptions that are even worse:
"could the fasterthan-exponential price rises demonstrated here result from a faster-than-exponential rise in demand which is not met by supply?"
A rise in demand not met by supply, no matter how slow, would obviously have to make the price rise high enough to reverse the demand trend (once inventories have been worked through). Apparently they believe that there's a sort of a proportional relationship between price and demand for some reason even though this is not borne out by historical oil prices (or the price of much else for that matter).

There's nothing in there about the oil market actually... just fancy math and baseless speculation.

Oil is an asset - see Simmon's comments about paper contracts.

The price of any tradeable item can deviate wildly from the fundamentals you cite. The question addressed by Sornette is whether such a deviation is statistically detectable. It is. Fancy math allows one to postulate what a deviation would look like and then check this hypothesis against observation.

The log-periodic power-law postulated by Sornette would naturally arise from a few classes of market participants, that make trades in very different sizes, potentially for very different reasons. This market arrangement is prone to runaway prices with a specific statistical signature - the log-periodic power-law.

In other words, Sornette theorizes that bubbles, deviations from the fundamentals, have a specific look and feel. And he supports this theory with observation.

I suggest reading the paper more carefully, especially some of the citations.

No, oil's not an asset... not in most cases anyway. You buy it to refine and sell it to people who are going to burn it. The ease of storage is critical for turning commodities into pseudo-assets. The real asset here is oil fields (or the right to use them). Similarly, while bottled water isn't an asset, you can own the manufacturer's stock as an asset.
Contracts are something else but this paper was talking about actual oil. What does Simmons say exactly?

Asset prices are indeed prone to bubbles. This paper basically assumes (the actual argument is embarrassing) oil is as well... which is precisely what needed to be shown. And if the key assumptions are wrong, the stats will mislead even if they were legit in the first place. Stats aren't magic!

Again, I see nothing but fluff in the cites about oil. The meaty stuff is mostly (if not solely) about the stock market. They mostly cite themselves by the way. They might be actual experts in that field but, if that's the case, they're clearly overreaching here.

Unfortunately his theories don't work in real life. Throughout 2003 he was predicting a stock market crash that would last for several years. Instead we had big bull market between 2003-2007.
If there is one thing we have all learnt in 2008, it is that fancy mathematics cannot predict or explain financial markets.

Okay, this planet really is getting too crowded. First satellites colliding, now this:

British and French nuclear submarines collide in Atlantic

Will the nuclear waste from the collision warm the ocean???

How did they not know they were too close????

Just pure speculation but billions of $'s have been spent trying to make the sub fleet undetectable. And perhaps each sub didn't know the other was in the area or maybe one did and wanted to test the others ability.

But you can't rule out human error. Several years ago a US sub surfaced when under a Japanese research vessel off of Hawaii causing some fatalities I beleive.

Sub drivers hate to use active sonar, for a number of reasons, among them the fact that other vessels can hear, locate and identify the active source at a greater range than the active sonar user can detect targets, but if targets are close enough, they will be detected with active sonar (although US subs do have some special hull coatings that make it more difficult, especially at greater ranges). In any case, sub drivers tend to rely on passive sonar (just listening), and boomers (missile subs), the two subs that collided, tend to travel slow and quiet.

In the case of the US accident, if memory serves, the sonar operator picked up, on passive sonar, what appeared to be a close target, but someone shifted the target to an alternative solution (I think, but I'm not sure, without notifying the captain of a possible close target) because the captain did not see any targets on a cursory periscope sweep. Complicating matters was the presence of several VIP's in the control room, which was the reason for a high speed ascent from depth in the first place.

Will the nuclear waste from the collision warm the ocean???

There was no nuclear waste from the collision. The submarines were both damaged but no crew members or anything else was lost.

Submarines detect each other, and other things in the ocean, by the use of sonar. But sonar also allows themselves to be seen. They often run silent, no sonar nor loud noises, in order to not be detected. That was probably the case with this accident.


Actually, they use passive sonar, which performs analysis of emitted acoustic signatures from vessels. These both are boomers so they work extremely hard to minimize any acoustic signature from own ship. Used to be a joke for Tridents that you find them by looking for the large quiet spot in the ocean. If they were submerged and operating in a high traffic area (like close to the english channel) the ambient noise and high traffic volume could have been so overwhelming they could not search for other subs.

I bet it ruined someone's day.

Right??????????? If there was nuclear waste from the collision, do you think they would tell us????

This was a minor fender-bender. If there were nuclear release, the sub would be at the bottom of the sea, not self-powering to port.

Boomers aren't going away, so this is just one of those random occurrences that will happen from time to time. The satellite smash-up is much more concerning in terms of longer-term impacts. How many debris fields can be generated before we get a runaway chain reaction of fragmenting satellites in the low-earth orbital shell?

"How many debris fields can be generated before we get a runaway chain reaction of fragmenting satellites in the low-earth orbital shell?"

Good point--it would be a good test of global cooperation to send up a highly maneuverable, 'nudging satellite' to gradually clear these space debris fields. Manned spacecraft, plus weather, GPS, communication, climate, etc, satellites are too valuable to be wasted by a collision with space trash. Same goes for the high orbital satellites and Lagrange points [not an expert on space].

You might want to try and find a copy of a sci-fi story about Canada, a mountain, ball bearings, and a nuke.

See, Canada was going to be the missile fly-over between the US and Asia in the nuke-war. So Canada put up a missile shield by placing ball bearings into a hollow mountain and sent 'em into orbit via a nuke underneath 'em.

Made it so space was a no-go for a while.

Even if there were a release, this is akin to asking if the salt shakers on the Titanic increased the salinity of the ocean.

It's understandable that submarines and satellites occasionally collide - after all, they are both moving at high speed...

But running a radar-equipped ferry into a mountain is a little harder to understand.

MV Queen of the North

The Queen of the North sank after running aground on Gil Island in Wright Sound, 135 kilometres (70 nautical miles) south of Prince Rupert, British Columbia.
The investigation found no evidence of alterations of speed at any time during the transit of Wright Sound and concluded that human factors were the primary cause of the sinking.

(Gil Island) is 26 km (16 mi) long, with a width ranging from 6 to 13 km (4 to 8 mi), and an area of 231 km² (89 sq mi). The only named summit on the mountainous island is Mount Gil...

Investigating further...

(The report) also says the two people on the bridge that night, the fourth officer and the deckhand, lost situational awareness sometime after Sainty Point. And it says they also failed to appreciate the vessel's impending peril prior to the grounding on Gil Island.

So far, there have been only rumours about what happened on the bridge before the crash between Lilgert and Bricker, former lovers working their first night shift together after breaking up.

The Transportation Safety Board, in its report, said the two were distracted by a "personal conversation" before the ferry sank while on autopilot.

Ritchie pointed to Grouse Mountain across Burrard Inlet from his downtown Vancouver office — "Gil Island looks like that mountain and they ran roughly from here to there at high speed for 14 minutes and smashed into it."

  • man and woman alone on ship's bridge at night
  • "lost situational awareness" ....
  • "former lovers working the night shift together" ....
  • "distracted by a 'personal conversation' ....

I have a theory as to how they missed seeing a mountain in front of the ship for 14 minutes - just can't say it on a family website ;)

Well, if they had just split up, they were probably arguing about something or another. Then again, the language they were using might not be suitable for a family website, but that's another matter.

Weird. Millions of cubic miles of ocean and they both sail in the same space at the same time.

Now Obama is doing stuff that if GWB had done it, people would be screaming. Timothy Geithner and Larry Summers, are, in Barack's opinion the most qualified Americans to be overseeing the restructuring of the auto industry-maybe Timothy can take control of the health care system also-why not.

Barrack (Yes I can) Obama has continued the Bush policies of summery execution of Muslims in foreign lands, for another example.


Obama is the Hoover of this Great Depression. We still have 3 years until we hit bottom.
I am already starting to hear a giant sucking sound - dollars going out of my account into the Fed's. The next President will be the Roosevelt to bring us out - if we can get out of it.
If WWIII starts, then the US may be conquered this time.

If WWIII starts, then the US may be conquered this time.

I'm not so sure about "conquered" but I don't think the US could win a conventional war against China, say over Taiwan. In war games with the Indian Air Force, US fighter pilots prevailed in mock dogfights against Indian pilots flying Chinese designed planes only so long as the US pilots utilized satellite based targeting systems. When the US pilots switched off these targeting systems, Indian pilots began to turn the tables on them. China hit a defunct weather satellite with an inertial projectile fired from the ground. In the event of war, China would simply take out US military satellites, depriving US pilots of their targeting advantage. Perhaps the debris fields of colliding satellites will save them the trouble.

Submarine sonar systems have been mentioned in today's DrumBeat. During war games near Guam, a Chinese attack sub surfaced within a US carrier group, nearly provoking an international incident. The sub had been tracking the group for over a week, without being detected, despite active pinging by carrier support ships. During war, Chinese attack subs could take out US aircraft carriers, just as readily as China can take out satellites. The US military is overly reliant on high tech gadgetry. This reliance may convey an advantage against poorly armed insurgents in third world nations, but will prove disadvantageous against powers capable of depriving the US of its high tech war gimmicks.

Why would the US take the loss of a carrier force without simply using a few hundred ICMBs to reduce China to a handful of failing nation states? Just enough nuke debris in each major city to drive millions to the countryside would destroy the country.

China has to join the ranks of MAD before it can take on the US outside a controlled regional skirmish.

Notice that I said "...I don't think the US could win a conventional war against China..."

A nuclear exchange between the US & China would have no winner. We'd all loose under that scenario.

Conventional might go in our favor if we keep to the US territorial area. I don't see China projecting power at a distance very well for quite awhile, but a good conventional war would help their factories more than a war-footing would help us.

OPEC would be the winners in a conventional war!

Now Obama is doing stuff that if GWB had done it, people would be screaming

Bull. Plenty are screaming. Some happen to have screamed the same way under Bush the Lesser as they scream under Hopey McChange.

Just because your view of politics smacks of sport team support "If *MY* team does it its ok and the opposition (this week) sucks" doesn't mean that reality for some follows your POV.

When one gets smacked-down on the 1st bail-out of the banksters, why should I go visit 'em for THIS bail-out to tell 'em NO again? My question of 'so...how'd the last bail out work' won't get me anywhere either.

I didn't think we would see the day when giants such as Toyota, Sony, Pioneer, etc. from Japan would be laying off people. When the once-mighty Japan founders, it really makes one take notice. Of course Japan's economy has been on the skids since the 90's, but the last year or so is the first time I remember hearing about significant layoffs.


I wonder how their solar PV rooftop initiative is going? They currently get about 60% of their electricity from 'conventional thermal sources' (oil fired electric generating plants?), 29% from nuclear, 9% from hydro, and 2% from 'renewables'.

At least their population is slowly contracting and greying; If they have the stoic discipline to do with less (unlike many Americans), then they could be an example of how to properly 'Power Down'.

At least their population is slowly contracting and greying; If they have the stoic discipline to do with less (unlike many Americans), then they could be an example of how to properly 'Power Down'.

Since the 70's oil shocks Japan has been aware of energy eficiency. Last time I was there in 2001, drivers would routinely turn off their engines, and headlights when stopped at red lights.

That must have changed from 7 years ago. When I was there, the Japanese most certainly did not turn off their engines and lights at red lights. They did, however, encourage the use of motorbikes of all kinds and have one of the most robust transit systems I've ever seen. Still, the country is doomed if they ever run into issues importing food. There is nowhere near enough arable land on those islands to feed all of the people.

This comes up here periodically. IIRC, they turn off their cars at red lights in rural areas, but not in cities like Tokyo.

This comes up here periodically. IIRC, they turn off their cars at red lights in rural areas, but not in cities like Tokyo.

Unless I'm confusing memories with my 81 trip. In 2001 I never got out of the Tokyo area. I guess the commenter "pi" if he is reading could settle the issue.

CNBC had an "economic crisis" mini-marathon this morning. "House of Cards," followed by "How To Save GM," followed by a special on the Madoff ponzi scheme.

"House of Cards" ended with Alan Greenspan defending capitalism, sort of. He said it was a stunning achievement to have raised the standard of living so high, for so many. And that human nature inevitably led to the kind of crisis we're seeing now. I guess he was saying it was worth it.

No mention of the fossil fuel fiesta that made it all possible, of course.

The GM thing pointed to the Volt as the car that might not only save GM, but save the world. It also said that if the Volt fails, GM is dead...and GM seems to agree.

The Madoff show had a section on how the wealthy of Palm Beach are being devastated by the collapse of his fund. One psychologist who had lived through Katrina said it was just as bad. It's only just starting to sink in for many.

Saw the Greenspun part-what an unbelieveable farce. Sir Alan holding court as if himself and a relatively small circle of high level grifters are mostly responsible for the increase in standard of living over the decades. Technological advancement is what is responsible for increases in standard of living (when they occur) and these advances are increasingly having to fight the headwind of massive grifter fraud from the top. Question: what was the top technological advance that originated from Mexico? Corona? With the current crew of grifters running the USA that is the trend.

Paul Krugman's comment today seems to sum up the economic problem rather well, as far as he goes with it. I think the seriousness of the basic problem is filtering out from web commentators like The Automatic Earth into the main stream. A good thing if it leads to constructive changes. The economists still don't want to face the underlying problems of resource depletion, especially Peak Oil, and population growth. Time will tell.

I finally saw "Idiocracy" yesterday. Since I am now living in "Redneckistan", I see the essential truth of the demographics, with situations like that of the 15 year old who was impregnated by a 21 year old, who also did a 13 year old the same way. On the other side, there's me and my sister, both with college educations but no kids, or my cousin and his sister, also with no kids. It's all downhill from here and we won't need to wait until 2550 as in the movie...

E. Swanson

Fecundity and IQ are rather strongly negatively correlated. R. A. Fisher, the so-called "father of" modern statistics and one of the three co-founders of modern population genetics, devoted the entire second half of his "Genetical Theory of Natural Selection" (1930) - arguably the most influential work in evolutionary biology save for the "Origin" itself - to the implications of this correlation. By definition IQ has a mean of 100 & SD of 15. This does not change as mean IQ declines over time, as it must given the correlation stated above. Rather, the tests are periodically re-normed. This means that an IQ of 100 today corresponds to an IQ of 90 some number of generations in the past. As population grows, people inexorably become dumber, on average. Is an ever dumber population capable of dealing rationally with the plethora of synergistically interacting problems it faces?

Actually, data shows the opposite. Over time, the scores on standardized tests of intelligence migrate higher - forcing renormalization in a direction opposite what you suggest.

This migration to higher IQ is known as the Flynn Effect.

What DD says is horrible but it is unfortunately very true. There is no evidence that people are getting smarter. The Flynn Effect can be caused by other factors, such as the tests are different. Also better nutrition can have a "non genetic" effect on people. Also living in the information age can make a difference.

DD is right, people are getting not getting smarter, just the opposite is happening.


Actually, data shows the opposite. Over time, the scores on standardized tests of intelligence migrate higher - forcing renormalization in a direction opposite what you suggest.

That is indeed true. I strongly suspect that improved environment (nutrition and psychological environment) are overwhelming decreasing genetics. The modern industrial welfare societies are not sustainable from a eugenics standpoint. Some have claimed that the early industrial age created strong selection pressure in the direction of better cleverness. Think of the times Dickens writes about, and the fact that the poor generally could not afford large families. Of course such studies lead to an uncomfortable politcally incorrect slippery slope, -as not all human subgroups (race and ethnicity are not proper terms), have had the same history. Some I'm sure such studies will be dropped like a hot potatoe.

The debate between advocates of Nature vs. Nurture regarding IQ has been around for quite a while. Add in the fact that modern life has provided a much richer intellectual environment during youth thru wide spread viewing of movies and the ubiquitous availability of music by mechanical reproduction. The Flynn Effect is said to be most pronounced on the lower end of the IQ scale, perhaps reflecting the highly stimulative impacts of modern media. I just finished reading "Musicophilia" by Oliver Sacks, who points out that a rich musical environment during youth can change brain function. Who knows, maybe the Flynn Effect is a temporary boost from technology, which masks the longer term effects of differential birth rates? It would seem that the jury is still out in that regard.

EDIT: All of which brings up an interesting thought experiment. At some point, the offsetting effects of a stimulus rich environment might "saturate" such that the (presumed) decline in basic genetic component of intelligence would begin to dominate. After which, suppose the music stops as the energy runs out, then things would drift downhill to Idiocracy rather rapidly, I think.

E. Swanson

IMO you are confusing knowledge with intelligence.


Not really.

E. Swanson

Add in the fact that modern life has provided a much richer intellectual environment during youth thru wide spread viewing of movies and the ubiquitous availability of music by mechanical reproduction.

Uh, yeah, you are. Really. None of the above has anything to do with intelligence. Intelligence is not a measure of what you know, but of what you are able to do. Comparing what a 21st century kid knows because of his environment completely misses the point. It's said, for example, what one can read in the WSJ in one week would surpass all the knowledge an 18th C person would encounter in their entire lifetime. But that has absolutely nothing to do with intelligence.

I think it was Diamond who made the observation of the intellectual skills of the local tribes he has spent time with vs. the typical person raised in a "developed" nation/culture. I believe his observation to be accurate. My personal favorite juxtaposition is to look at the writings of virtually any Civil War soldier vs. the writings of most people today, particularly youth. It's like night and day.

You need better proxies.


I don't guarantee the veracity of the below exchange, as I can't find the link now, but here is how I remember it:

Someone asked Stephen Hawking if he was smarter than Einstein, as his work was much more advanced. He said, no, that if Einstein hadn't lived, he would be doing Einstein's work, and that if Newton hadn't lived, Einstein might have been doing Newton's work. He's not smarter, just starting from further down the track.

IQ and tests like it don’t measure intelligence except by their own definition. I won’t attempt to define intelligence myself, but we could mention, creativity, artistic performance, special skills, street smarts, social cleverness, leadership qualities, self-discipline and rigor, a loving nature, physical adroitness - and on an on and on - characteristics and qualities that are valued, are seen to benefit the holder, others around him/her, and even all of mankind...or if one likes, in the rather sterile social Darwinism line, attributes that lead to success, particularly reproductive success.

The scores correlate, first and most strongly to education, expressed however one likes (years of schooling, degrees, etc.) That makes sense as education is traditionally the no. 1 predictor of social (read financial) success. So IQ tests do have a certain so - called ‘validity’ and even predictive power.

Cultures, the socio-economic-educational landscape, mental habits, desired attributes change quickly...changes in IQ, both up and down, result. As the average is by definition 100, it is not a good tool for measuring change. Remember, way back when it was first invented, women scored much lower than men ... that gap has now disappeared in ‘western countries’ .. and so by definition mens’ IQ has sunk! Not useful or interesting. Junk science, really.

Child cognition or ‘intelligence’ has changed in the past 20 or 30 years, as has their attainment in various school topics/disciplines ..their performance on IQ like tests if seen in terms of absolute scores to fixed questions (e.g. If all cats are black, and Jimmy is white, then> ..?) in the domain of ‘logical’ and physical and mathematical reasoning is said to have gone up (more education; researchers’ cheats) and down (less rigor in education, less emphasis on these disciplines, and less physical experience..such as working with stuff and messing about) while their ‘verbal’ skills have gone up... Some studies have also thrown up higher variance - with the quick getting ‘smarter’ and the ‘dumb’ performing less well than they used to. What is one to make of these multiple and crossed over effects? Not much.

Of course, the various tests measure relative performance on that particular test. Some tests, such as the SATs, have been faulted for cultural biases. Some results are skewed by training for test taking skills. As people age, the "nurture" portion of "intelligence" would tend to skew the results toward the better educated or those who experienced a more stimulative environment. Not my field, but I think that the best tests must be the ones done early in life using non-verbal sorts of testing, such as evoked response tests. As you note, there's much more to it...

E. Swanson

Yes, cultural bias exists, certainly.

What is valued in one culture (sea navigations skills vs, inventing fancy credit default swops) varies.

Nevertheless, IQ type tests lay claims to universality. The claim is objectionable to many, e.g. - ppl live in different settings, use different thinking, varied skills in their culture, etc. so one should not accord IQ tests much value. True enough, Absolutely right!

The point is that to succeed in the ‘west’ one needs those logical thinking skills given by a ‘classical’ education. Ooops, not for bankers who make out like bandits without any mathematical skills or common sense or high IQ scores...so testing little kids for potential is a bit odd... :)

So, if I follow the logic of this argument, it means that the smartest people were actually the first people? And we've gotten ever dumber since? Or does the logic transcend a species and the smartest was actually the first living organism?

So, if I follow the logic of this argument, it means that the smartest people were actually the first people?

I've little doubt but what the gathering/scavanging people of the ancestral environment of east Africa were considerably more intelligent, on average, than people living today. People adapted to the ancestral environment were subjected to selection pressures those living today are relatively shielded from by technological innovations. People today who wouldn't have survived in the environment of ancestral adaptation have nothing keeping them from surviving & breeding.

Or does the logic transcend a species and the smartest was actually the first living organism?

This logic may well transcend Homo but intelligence has little meaning for an organism lacking a nervous system.

dd - you disappoint me. Given the opportunity to clarify your statement, you chose to simply reinforce a rather ill conceived statement that I suspect doesn't really reflect your thoughts on the issue.

Were our ancestors on the east African plain smarter than us? I suspect you are right, but I think we can both recognize that such is only speculation. There is no such thing as a culture-free, epoch-free intelligence measure.

You do, sort of, get to the point when you talk about the "ancestral environment" and adaptation, but you allow your preconceived desire to argue for the superior intelligence of the "ancient" to get in the way.

You said;

People adapted to the ancestral environment were subjected to selection pressures those living today are relatively shielded from by technological innovations.

When you could have removed your own personal value judgments by saying "People adapted to the ancestral environment were subjected to selection pressures those living today are not subjected to." The reality is that people adapted to the modern environment are subjected to selection pressures those living some many millennium in the past were not subject to.

My take on it is that you have mistaken your own fear of the natural world for an innate part of human existence. This fear is part of what leads you to separate your "self" from your environment strictly on a physical or material level. This further leads you down the path of thinking that the "environment" you live in does not include socially created aspects.

Now, if you'd like to argue that the modern environment that humans live in does not make intelligence a survival advantage and therefore is not selected for, I'd have to agree. But if your going to claim some sort of long term telos for evolution other than adaptability to the environment, even a negative telos like loss of intelligence, then that's a different matter.

So, if I follow the logic of this argument, it means that the smartest people were actually the first people?

Okay, we need a little explanation here. Homo sapiens are not very fast, not very strong and unlike other great apes, have no opposing big toe so they are not very good climbers. Homo sapiens primary, and almost only, advantage over other animals is our wits. In 99% of our evolutionary history, we had to survive by our wits and the smartest had a great advantage over dumber humans. This meant, because of natural selection, humans got smarter and smarter as one generation replaced another.

Then came the modern age where almost everyone survived to reproductive age. This means that wits have no little survival advantage. Indeed, because smarter people tend to have fewer children, wits is a disadvantage to raising the general IQ of the populace. Dumber people tend to have more children so the level has to be dropping.

I hope that explains it Shaman. I really don't think that is a very difficult concept to understand.

A question you can pose on your friends: "What is the only primate without an opposing big toe?" Answer: Homo sapiens


Ron, thanks for the explanation. Here's a suggestion I've made to you before - try reading for meaning rather than for information.

Is an ever dumber population capable of dealing rationally with the plethora of synergistically interacting problems it faces?

More often than not, the higher the IQ, the more elaborate the rationalizing:

"It will be a slow crash; the historical record
clearly shows we are merely facing catabolic collapse."

"Technology and human ingenuity will prevent a
horrific collapse; my computer models say so."

"It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change."

-- Charles Darwin

If survival was determined by "intelligence", then the people who frequent the OilDrum would surely be among the survivors. Not only do they have higher IQs, but also access to an unprecedented amount of information.

"It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change."

-- Charles Darwin

Got a source for that quote Matthew? It is definitely not in his opus, "On The Origin of Species". And there is every reason to believe that, among humans anyway, the most intelligent are likely to be the most adaptable to change.


The quote will not be found in any of Darwin's writings.

Some people argue that it nonetheless sums ups the great man's thoughts. Others suggest that his thought would be better expressed by the remark that 'it is the luckiest who are most likely to survive';i.e. those upon whom chance has bestowed traits suitable to adaptation to the changing environment.

Of course, it could be that 'god done it' (semi-intelligent design).

I was wrong, it was not a Darwin quote. Thanks for the heads-up Ron.

I first read it here, did a quick Google search because I didn't recall reading it in Origin. It popped up in the Google search, so I lazily assumed it must have been from one of his unpublished notebooks. Perhaps the same place as the "thought, however unintelligible it may be seems as much function of organ, as bile of liver" quote.

I agree that the historically, the most intelligent humans were likely to be the most adaptable to change. But in modern times, I'm not so sure. The intelligent people of today are physically different from the intelligent people of pre-agricultural times. A large percentage of the intelligent people in the America spend their days in a lab or sitting behind a computer.

When things start to really fall apart, I expect several categories of people to fare better than most (a) extroverted, socially-connected individuals, e.g., politicians; (b) the heavily armed, backwoods-type people; (c) the uber-rich.

I guess it depends on how we define intelligence. If we use IQ, then I would argue that the three categories are composed of people of average intelligence.

But this is all really just speculation on my part.

Krugman wants to spend ever more public money. The stimulus plan is not nearly enough in his view. That is the opposite of what I am saying, unless perhaps banks are forced to fail. If public funds are spent at all, they should be spent on the public, not on banks. All the plans so far, be they from Bush or from Obama, serve to make matters - a whole lot- worse for the public, certainly not better. The fact that the fake Nobel professor now starts romanticizing World War II is beyond all limits.

From my occasional readings of your site and Denninger's, it would appear that cleaning out the bad bets will be necessary, sooner or later. Whether it's better now (given the experience of Japan and Sweden) or later is the obvious question, isn't it? Your prescription may be correct, for all I know.

Krugman does make this comment:

There’s hope that the bank rescue will eventually turn into something stronger. It has been interesting to watch the idea of temporary bank nationalization move from the fringe to mainstream acceptance, with even Republicans like Senator Lindsey Graham conceding that it may be necessary. But even if we eventually do what’s needed on the bank front, that will solve only part of the problem.

Temporary Bank Nationalization might be achieved thru a controlled bankruptcy process of some sort, if I understand things correctly. Looks like there's no easy way to get from here to the other side of this mess.

E. Swanson

What Krugman wants is to use your money, as much as it takes, and without you having any say in it, to buy the banks' gambling slips.

What I want is for the banks to completely fail, without one penny of your money put in. I want back what has been put in so far as well. There is a big difference.

But then, I'm not looking for a government job. Krugman and Roubini wouldn't mind one, to put it mildly.

If the banks "completely fail without one penny" of our money, then many retired people will become destitute and forced into homelessness, likely dying penniless on the streets. Cascading financial failures would likely result in 20 to 50% unemployment. Hunger, riots, civil unrest and societal collapse are the usual result.

Perhaps you are willing to repeat the tragic history of spiraling market collapse with no government intervention, but I and most people are not so willing. Sweden nationalized banks after financial collapse and eventually the public recieved a profitable return on the funds invested. Would Sweden have been better off they had taken a "hands-off" attitude while their economy spiraled into collapse?

Eventually assets must be priced at their market value, but there is no reason not to try to minimize the suffering among the general public while the bubble bursts. Imposing legal and financial penalties on those responsible makes sense, but our first concern should be for the general welfare, not for vengeance and punishment.

I agree with you here. The great tragedy of the situation is that the high rollers placed massive bets, and have lost. The problem, is that economic and financial analysis leads to the conclusion that the collateral damage from just letting them fall would be horrific for the rest of us. So we left left to try to patch together a pathway of minimum damage.

There is a very good article brontecapital, about whether the banking system is solvent.
Bank Solvency and the Geithner Plan

It is a very long and wonkish article, and I'm afraid not for the analytically challenged. But if you are prepared to slog through it, I think you can improve your understanding. Basically, he shows that there are several different definitions of "solvency", and that it is important to properly and clearly define what you are using. And, that you should have to defend whether you are using the definition appropriate for the stated purpose.

But then, I'm not looking for a government job. Krugman and Roubini wouldn't mind one, to put it mildly.

At least if you take him at his word, Krugman does not think he is tempermentally suited for a government job. He wouldn't mind the occasional consultaion, but thats about as far as it goes. Contrary to popular opinion most of these academic economists are interesting in doing good by giving good advice, and creating successful programs, as opposed to becoming a new master of the universe. Their veiw of how to do that may differ from yours and mine, but that does not mean that they are evil conspirators.

The bottom line is that there has been basically no wealth creation at all since the turn of the millennium: the net worth of the average American household, adjusted for inflation, is lower now than it was in 2001.

The problem with statements like this is that they conveniently leave out the fact that the MAJORITY of households are not at the "average" (mean), but are well BELOW AVERAGE. Only a very small minority of households were gainers in net wealth, and the very top fraction of those hit the jackpot big time. For most of we ordinary people, we've been net losers for the past decade.

And this raises an unasked and unanswered question: If the past decade has been a net loss for the majority of US households, then why would we, the majority, want a "recovery" that just resumes what is, for us, a losing formula?

WNC, I'd add that if you include non-monetary wealth [clean air, water, fish] and social structures [inexpensive education, open source seeds, even patents and copyright] the MAJORITY of households have been loosing for a long time. It's the fencing in of the commonwealth that has made the filthy rich as filthy and rich as they are. While I usually focus on how humans are strip mining nature because of the ecological catastrophe, one could also focus on how humans strip mine the commonwealth - what belongs to all of us - to fatten the rich. Those pesky boundary conditions.

cfm in Gray, ME

Krugman is a joke. It is a sad commentary of the level of economic discourse when this fool can make statements that basically amount to "have the government hire everybody to dig holes and fill them up" and he still has a platform.

The government doesn't need to hire people to just dig holes and then fill them in. There has been a chronic understaffing of civil servants in many areas of government for many, many years if not decades. The nation needs to at least double the number of school teachers and even triple those who serve in chronically impoverished regions. We need many more judges, especially administrative judges with all the assorted court staffs. The poor need lawyers to defend them against criminal landlords and employers. Many places need many more police on the streets as well as firefighters. Many regulatory agencies like the SEC and FDA need many more employees to defend us against people like Madoff and businesses like American Peanut. Then there is the restoration of our physical infrastructure to a condition it was first built to serve us. This often means digging holes for underground utilities and then properly filling them back in. We have tens of millions of dwellings which need significant energy related improvements. There is just so much that needs to be done that we may actually not have enough workers to do the job.

"have the government hire everybody to dig holes and fill them up"

The "quote" above is completely fabricated and contrary to anything I could google that Krugman actually said.
Some actual quotes follow.
"The next plan should focus on sustaining and expanding government spending—sustaining it by providing aid to state and local governments, expanding it with spending on roads, bridges, and other forms of infrastructure..."
"As long as public spending is pushed along with reasonable speed, it should arrive in plenty of time to help—and it has two great advantages over tax breaks. On one side, the money would actually be spent; on the other, something of value (e.g., bridges that don't fall down) would be created."

So I guess this is the usual straw-man arguement tactic, if you cannot make a successful arguement against a person's actual beliefs, then make up something ridiculous, falsely attribute it and then argue against it.
Krugman's clear position is that all stimulus spending should be evaluated both for job-creation effectiveness and for creation of public long-term value.

It is very difficult for those who blindly hate government to realize that in many cases, government does invest money more productively than individuals. But when I walk across bridges in Italy that the Romans built many centuries ago and people still use every day and compare that investment to US citizens buying SUVs, Doritos, meth, and porn, it seems incredible to me that anyone could ever argue that individuals always chose better than governments where to spend money.

I assume English isn't your best language-basically amounts to doesn't mean literal quote. I actually heard him say a form of that in a TV interview-the interviewer asked for the details of government spending and he said it didn't matter.

I understand completely.

By "basically amounts to" you mean, "I claim he believes but I have no evidence to back it up", while evidence to the contrary is abundant. Krugman's many articles (which can be easily googled) show that he clearly believes that the details of government spending matter. He received his Nobel prize for studies of comparative advantage, so to pretend that he believes that "holes in the ground" are equivalent to useful national infrastructure is not credible.

Continue to argue with your straw man as you wish, but I am done.


I went to one of the big shopping malls in Massachusetts yesterday (first time in over a year). We just wanted to look, kind of like watching a train wreck on the news or something (kind of sick). We were surprised to see all the stores open and people shopping. Then we caught sight of why people were there. $2.97 for woman's dress clothes. I take it that this is still better that other parts of the country though.

I went to the mall in downtown Sacramento last week. It was pretty dead. I would guess 1/4 to 1/3 of the storefronts there were empty. The food court was a sad shadow of its former self. Downtown malls have been in decline for a long time, but according to the locals, it was never that bad. They found it kind of spooky.

I would guess that as soon as most people find it "spooky" to go to the mall, they won't go anymore, even if they can afford it. People don't like being reminded in real life.

There must be some sort of critical mass (shops and shoppers) required for mall existence.

Yes. Sometimes in dying malls, you'll them move the stores closer together, to give the illusion that it's still crowded and busy. Entire wings will be basically shut down.

That would cut overheads too: cleaning, security, heating etc.

There are four immediate follow-on problems with empty malls, and each has grave consequences.

Unemployment of the retailer's employees. The retail sector has a high employee density in good times.

Second, empty malls will affect mall rental income and property value. This in turn, will make re-financing loans more difficult (the borrower has eroding creditworthiness) and may have loan covenant problems crop up.

Third, commercial real estate (CRE) is over-weighted on most community and regional bank balance sheets. They made origination fees on residential loans but sold them off their books to Freddy and Fanny (As was the desire of congress- make liar loans, we will have Freddy/Fanny buy them from you!) The loans that remain on their books are the CRE loans. Ouch! With CRE values in free fall, they don't dare lend further into that sector, even if they can lend at all as they desperately try to repair their balance sheets. We will have "Bank Failure Friday" for as long as the eye can see and the FDIC has money. http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/2009/02/graphs-fdic-bank-failures.html

Fourth, property and sales taxes become a ghost of former receipts. Say good-by to your local library.

So ignore advisers who say now is a good time to invest in REITs. There will be unbelievable bargains available in about a year or so. Keep your powder dry! http://www.hurstwoodgroup.com/latest_news_detail.asp?news=42

Fourth, property and sales taxes become a ghost of former receipts. Say good-by to your local library.

Interesting that you should say that. Our main library has been closed since July, 2008 due to a fire. Reportedly, the fire was confined to one floor and only a few books were damaged, yet it's still closed 7 months later.

A mall. The only times I've been to a mall in the past 3 or 4 years have been when I've been accompanying someone. For me, clothing is a utilitarian item, purchased either for an office environment, or to clothe me when I'm working outside, or just out and about. I have little desire to impress anyone with exception to the office environment, which amounts to me making sure I don't have a slovenly appearance. With electronics, I've not shopped for that in a mall in over a decade. All my purchases have been online and occasionally big-box stores. Beyond that, anything else that a mall offers is junk and the "experience" of looking at and interacting with other people. For that, I'd rather go to the book store.
~Durandal (http://www.wtdwtshtf.com)

Well really Durandal this is an excellent time to pick up items.
Converting cash into hard assets. Assets that can come in very handy later.

The bargains are there and shamefully I exploit them. I must for Darwin says this is 'survival of the fittest'...no?

But I only buy bargains as much as possible.
I just brought a box of instant mashed potatoes for I don't want to eat my potatoes that are just now sprouting for my soon to be seed potatoes.


It has been over a year since I've been in a mall. It is amazing, so much stuff for sale, so little that is of any interest or use to me.

In the spirit of the carbon and ACC-related articles in the DB today:


What is happening now is that some permafrost is thawing already. It is really a threshold because you can’t go back easily and put all this ice that will melt out of permafrost that is water and put it back as massive ground ice. You’d need another glacial period, and in this case it’s not reversible. It’s hard to put ice back...

CA-CP: If you cross this climatic threshold in Alaska, what would the impacts be?

Dr. Romanovsky: What is happening now is that some permafrost is thawing already. It is really a threshold because you can’t go back easily and put all this ice that will melt out of permafrost that is water and put it back as massive ground ice. You’d need another glacial period, and in this case it’s not reversible. It’s hard to put ice back. If the threshold is crossed back to colder conditions, it could develop new permafrost but not the same as it is now – generally less ice and less carbon. No return to the previous state. For Siberia and the icy permafrost there, there are two degrees to go before we cross a threshold. So, it is not as much threat yet. However, in southern regions of western Siberia there is a lot of carbon sequestered and the permafrost is actively warming there and thawing in some places. In terms of time scale, I think we could cross a threshold there in several decades. The Northern slope of Alaska is more stable. We maybe have another 70–100 years before we cross a threshold there – same for that area in Siberia. So for colder areas, this threshold is more distant and for warmer permafrost, which has ice and carbon in it, the climatic threshold is pretty close already.

The original source of the above: http://www.arcticwarming.net/node/70

Other stuff from Romanovsky:

Via NOAA: http://www.arctic.noaa.gov/essay_romanovsky.html

A presentation: http://www.ametsoc.org/atmospolicy/documents/2008ESSS/ESSS92608

And the university website for the department/program he works in: http://www.gi.alaska.edu/snowice/Permafrost-lab/


Thruout the 1990s carbon emissions were growing at a rate of .9% yr^-1. Since 2000 the rate of increase has grown to 3.5% yr^-1. In spite of the Kyoto Treaty no part of the world has reduced carbon emissions. Emission levels now exceed the "worst case scenario" of the 2007 IPCC report. The increased rate of carbon emissions is largely due to increase in burning coal. Due to carbon emissions sea level is currently rising at a rate of 1 cm yr^-1. Acreage planted to corn increased in the US over the 2007 growing season, due to ethanol subsidies, at the expense of acreage planted to soy beans. No global decrease in demand for soy occurred and the slack was taken up by Brasil. Rain forest area declined as forest was cut for soy production and oil palm plantations. Humanity has shown its incapability to reduce carbon emissions even tho the exigency for doing so has been made clear. As carbon emissions continue to grow, at an ever increasing rate, forest area continues to decline. The situation is rapidly deteriorating.

It's so ridiculous Gaia is burping laughing gas at us, per a top link: Burp of Arctic laughing gas is no joke

Funny shit, eh?


Come, now, that is just liberal lies so "Fat Al" came clean up on book sales.
Those liberals are just formating a communist plan to deny my divine right to prosperity.
Jesus will punish them

It is really a threshold because you can’t go back easily and put all this ice that will melt out of permafrost that is water and put it back as massive ground ice.

For a limited amount of area one could intervene. The oil pipeline has radiators in some regions, essentially thse are heat pipes which conduct heat out of the ground during cold weather and shut down during warm. More easily(?) the ground is usually well insulated from the cold by heavy snowcover, simply packing the snow would greatly increase the amount of ground heat lost during the winter season. Of course such schemes could only be done on a local basis, say to keep the permafrost underneath human structures from melting.

But permafrost regions, have been especially good at capturing and storing carbon, i.e. the decayed detritus keeps getting buried in ice, which gradually builds up over thousands of years. That much organic matter per acre is probably not stable once the permafrost melts.

The radiators and the snow packing that might work in a local area - do they only shift the warming somewhere else AND increase it by the energy used to perform the task? Shifting a few MBTUs to some desert from which it could radiate to space or into some endothermic process might be a net gain to stability if it would in fact be possible. That's not clear to me.

Maybe a few thousand hedge fund operators, generals, politicians, talking heads and bankers shovelling away snow to bare the ground to the cold through the winter would be ok. Of course, we'd not be able to feed them or keep them in heated dormitories - that would be counterproductive.

cfm in Gray, ME

do they only shift the warming somewhere else AND increase it by the energy used to perform the task?

If it were doable on a large enough scale, and not just to protect certain localized infrastructure, it would amount to shifting heat across seasons, i.e. extracting more heat from the ground in winter, which would absorb more heat during the summer. The main effect is to save the permafrost (or rather to allow to exist in a much warmer climate).

EU Carbon Permits Fall

The European cap and trade system is a failure not only because permits are handed out (not auctioned) but it is ridiculously easy to claim 'clean development credits'. If you can convince a bureaucrat that somewhere in the world someone has used less than their CO2 entitlement you can buy it off them for peanuts. Then it doesn't matter if you pollute big because someone else has done the hard yards for you.

What a wonderful system. Suppose you are 'entitled' to buy a $1000 wristwatch. If you change your mind you now have a $1000 credit to sell to someone else. Idiocy or fraud?

From what I see the US EPA sulphur oxide (SOx) cap and trade system doesn't allow imaginary offsets to make a mockery of the exercise. Therefore Obama has the opportunity to show the rest of the world how it is done.

So Exxon found more oil and gas last year than it produced. That at least is what the current lead story on today's Drumbeat indicates.

The second story tells us that Imperial Oil of Canada has booked new reserves following some tar pit investments.

Imperial is an Exxon outfit.

The takeaway line is: "Basically, Exxon is finding more oil and gas than it produces."

More bullshit?

The article says "boosted". It's not clear if it was finding new or buying someone else's. Even the way Tillerson comments leaves that unclear. If only 3% of the "boost" is from mergers and acquisitions, then Exxon fails his own critical measurement.

cfm in Gray, ME

"It is not the size of the keg, but the flowrate of the tap that is important".

Consider that the Element Nitrogen is limitless, but one billion [source: UN FAO], or approx. 1/7th of world population, are daily hungry and/or outright starving to death because the I-NPK supply chain dispersive flowrate to the final topsoil square foot is already woefully insufficient.

Someday the world will realize this, then fallow land, crop rotation, and full-on O-NPK recycling will be the norm.

It is surprising that some people still use the term "doomer" as a pejorative:


Link to an article on WorldNetDaily? Please don't. Ever.

Corsi who wrote the article you linked also wrote a book with this in it:

"Black Gold Stranglehold," Jerome Corsi and Craig Smith expose the fraudulent science that has made America so vulnerable: the belief that oil is a fossil fuel and that it is a finite resource

Now that you mention it World Net Daily does look and sound like a suspect site, at least per the Wikipedia description (can't remember where I saw that link - maybe the drudgereport.com). But I think the article does have merit in regards to stating the US budget deficit with regards to normal accounting methods, where accrued Social Security obligations would be factored in. When the scale tips from Social Security surplus payments to deficit payments, it is going to be a disaster for people counting on SSN and for programs counting on money taken from SSN to pay for them. Combine that with peak oil and the financial meltdown and it's hard to see how we get through it without major upheaval.

WingNutDaily is a right wing nutter site. Jerome Corsi is the guy who claims that oil is abiotic, because no dinosaur ever walked on the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, yet they're finding oil there.

another overly dramatic headline, exxon claims to have found 1.5 gb of reserves, but having depleted 1.456 gb the net is a 0.044 gb boost. that just wouldn't have been as impressive.

And I think that it is predominantly gas.

"Lincoln finished first in a ranking by historians of the 42 former White House occupants. The survey was released over Presidents Day weekend."

Those historians are warped!
Lincoln, a man who perpetuated a war in our own country which resulted in over 600,000 deaths of American soldiers. Millions of Americans died from hunger, and diseases of the war as well. Some parts of the country are still suffering from the war battle scars of Lincoln. That war could have been avoided by a good president who could negotiate well.

FDR was ranked number 2 and he was also good at going to war. We could have stayed out of WWII. Some say FDR invited the Japanese to attack Pearl Harbor so we would have a reason to enter WWII. We freed Europe from Hitler and what did we get for it - nothing!

McDonald's everywhere in Europe, that's something no?

nowhere: I can wait no longer for a responce.

I wonder how long slavery would have continued without the war? In 1860 to 65 the population of the US was about 33 million with about 4 million slaves and one half million free blacks. How many more millions of people would have been hijacked from their homes in Africa and chained in slave ships for the trip to the Americas had Lincoln not intervened.

Of course some argue that Lincoln's primary cause was to maintain the Union and to free the slaves was secondary, however they were freed. You could ask your new President whom he believes should be ranked first.

Importation of new slaves was stopped well before Lincoln. If I recall history class, it was mostly due to some violent slave revolts in Haiti.

Importation of new slaves was stopped well before Lincoln.

This is true, by the time of the war the only source of new slaves was breeding. However I don't buy it that we could have avoided having a war -unless the north had acceded to the breakup of the country into a slave nation, and a nonslave nation. Even then, there had already been considerable blood shed fighting over whether new territories could be admitted as slave or nonslave states, and this competition would only have become more violent, once nationalism became involved. This was just not as issue which could have been kicked down the road indefinetely. Even so, Lincoln had claimed he would abide by the law, and not challenge slavery in the south. But they never gave him the chance to demonstrate whether he was good for his word.

Slavery was on its way out due to the invention of steam power and it would have certainly disappeared with the discovery of the uses of oil.

In an odd way, Eli Whitney was the cause of much slavery due to his cotton gin invention. Steam removed human labor from industrial power, and oil removed it from agricultural power.

So you are saying there was no chance importation of slaves would not have resumed had the confederate states become an independent nation?

I'm really beginning to question you Nowhere.

The Lincoln starting the Civil War is more complex than him starting a war that could have been negotiated out of.

For Christ sakes - Lincoln was the head of the abolishionist party - the Republican Party. And the southern economy was built around slave labor involving King Cotton. Have you ever actually read the debates with Lincoln and Douglas. Lincoln constantly used Douglas's own arguments against him (much like many lawyers do - because it's the most persuasive argument).

As for FDR - that whole "invited the Japanese myth" is rather amusing. The book about that is hilarious (one of many) - it cherry picks evidence of knowledge of an impending attack (since we had somewhat broken the Japanese diplomatic code). But our intelligence department dealing with decoding and organizing this information was something like _literally_ 12 guys. The Germans had 5000 people in there English language intelligence Bureau. Having the knowledge processed is a much different matter - it takes time.

Besides, do you want FDR to be Neville Chamberlain 2? Just appease the Japanese? I also think that drastically calls into question the professionalism of our military. If we _knew_ about it, we could have perhaps mounted a greater defence for sure.

We freed Europe from Hitler and what did we get for it - nothing!

Uh huh - so we could have stayed out of it and had a 100% Soviet Europe. Good call. Oh not too mention a wholly communist Korea (remember North Korea is spawned from the Soviet Union's 2 week involvement in the Eastern theatre), and possibly a communist Japan.

Uggh. Please oh please can we stop this revisionism that comes up in every WWII or Civil War chat room.

It's just easier to call you stupid.

New announcement from LEAP:

Back in February 2006, LEAP/E2020 estimated that the global systemic crisis would unfold in 4 main structural phases: trigger, acceleration, impact and decanting phases. This process enabled us to properly anticipate events until now. However our team has now come to the conclusion that, due to the global leaders’ incapacity to fully realise the scope of the ongoing crisis (made obvious by their determination to cure the consequences rather than the causes of this crisis), the global systemic crisis will enter a fifth phase in the fourth quarter of 2009, a phase of global geopolitical dislocation.

According to LEAP/E2020, this new stage of the crisis will be shaped by two major processes happening in two parallel sequences:

A. Two major processes:
1. Disappearance of the financial base (Dollar & Debt) all over the world
2. Fragmentation of the interests of the global system’s big players and blocks

B. Two parallel sequences:
1. Quick disintegration of the current international system altogether
2. Strategic dislocation of big global players.


Their earlier predictions haven't been terribly accurate. So far, the euro isn't looking like a safe haven vs. the dollar. No hyperinflation. And the US is not defaulting on its debts.

You're right, they predicted the euro would be a lot stronger vs. the dollar by now. As for the US defaulting, I believe earlier they predicted that would happen by the summer, and I think they stand by that (in fact, it appears they expect the UK to default first).

I think they're expecting things to move too fast. The US will undoubtedly default on their debt eventually, but by summer is probably too soon.

I think it extremely unlikely that the US, or the UK for that matter, will ever default on their debt. It is far more likely that a severe inflation will simply inflate the debt away. A default would simply mean that the US had resigned itself to the total collapse of the economy. That is unlikely to ever happen even though the eventual collapse is a near certainty.


How will we pay it back?
Default means that we will not pay it back?
I believe that it is very likely that we will never repay our debts.
When oil runs out, we will make nothing, sell nothing, and still owe the money.
Try not to live in denial.

He just told you. You will pay it back with inflation.

Leanan, usually you are pleasantly skeptical of anyone's ability to predict the future, so I am quite suprised at the "undoubtedly" above.

"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

I can imagine many scenarios which do not include the US defaulting on its' debt, of course the most likely would be monetizing the debt into insignificance by printing so much money that inflation runs rampant. Argentina had inflation so great that some (lucky) people were able to pay off their mortgage with a month's paycheck (plenty of downsides, I know).

But Argentina still defaulted on its debt.

But theirs wasn't denominated in their native currency. When we trade our dollar debt for something else we will be good and finally screwed.

When we owe money to another country, we cannot monetize it away.
If we do, then it equals default.
Then we will not be able to borrow from other countries again.
Which could be good because we would not be able to live on deficit spending.

When we owe money to another country, we cannot monetize it away.
If we do, then it equals default.

Default is defined as failure to pay a debt. No other country can control the actions of the US Federal Reserve or the US Mint printing money and issuing bonds. I don't advocate inflation, but simply realize (along with mainstream economists) that it is very distinct possibility and that US debt may well be repaid in inflated currency with much reduced value. History has many examples of countries that succeeded in monetizing debt via inflation, and there are always negative and positive consequences.

Even countries like Argentina that defaulted on debt are "able to borrow from other countries again", they simply pay a higher interest rate as a risk premium (kind of like a dead-beat bankrupt compulsive gambler who can still get a 100% interest loan from a loan shark, with his knees as collateral).

Stimulus expected to add jobs to build new energy system


weatherization sound good ...

maybe up the rebate on wind and solar and more folks would invest

I've just been reading part of the Stimulus Bill, having followed the earlier versions. The final version of the Stimulus Bill doesn't change the tax credits already on the books for residential solar. Those credits for solar only apply to solar hot water systems, not hot air systems. There is a slight change in the credit for residential wind energy in that the previous cap of $4,000 has been removed. There is a credit for plug-in hybrid and electric powered cars. There are credits for retrofitting existing residential buildings and for installing energy efficient appliances.

There are other grant opportunities which will be made available thru DOE for renewable energy, including increased funding for research. Some funding will be funneled thru the States.

E. Swanson

Stimulus expected to add jobs to build new energy system

Far too little of the stimulus is going into this sort of program. Political compromises mean that a good deal of it is fat. And I'm not confident that politics will allow for a round two. Maybe this is all the government help we are gonna get in energy.

You don't need a rebate, just give every household $5k and let them build their own systems/retrofit as they see fit.

It would save 270B of the stimulus package, to boot.

Let the freaking banks fail. That's what happens to bad businesses.

Unless you are rich, of course.


The states are really hurting. California and Kansas have announced that tax refunds will be delayed and state workers may not be paid because they don't have the money. Arizona is converting to a 4-day school week to save money.

Arizona is converting to a 4-day school week to save money.

Well, their futures are being pissed away anyway...might as well give them some time to enjoy the present..

The Independent has an interesting article on Russian politics. Apparently Medvedev and Putin are not quite as close as many of us thought:

On Sunday, Medvedev gave an address in the form of a lengthy television interview. In the latest of a long line of messages that can be interpreted as criticisms of his Prime Minister, Putin, he said it was necessary for people to talk "openly" and "truthfully" about the financial crisis, and appeared to belittle what Putin has trumpeted as the achievements of his years in office. "It's easy to work when there are high revenues, above all from oil and gas exports," said Medvedev. "It's like you're not doing anything yourself, yet the profit just keeps coming in. That's great. But now it's important, first, to show that we can learn to spend money – budget money – rationally, and second, to be competent managers."


There have been other signs of divergent approaches. Medvedev met with Dmitry Muratov, editor of the opposition paper Novaya Gazeta, at the end of January, to express his condolences over the murder of one of the newspaper's reporters. Muratov later revealed that the President had told him how much he values Novaya Gazeta and is genuinely thankful for the few remaining opposition media outlets in the country. The paper's editor said it was clear that the President's words were meant sincerely. Such a statement would be unthinkable coming from Putin, who has made his distaste for investigative journalists known.


It's a long article with a lot of interesting info, IMHO well worth a read.

Putin picked Medvedev because he wanted Russia to have a president like Medvedev.
Putin stayed in power because he knew Russia is not ready for that.

Denniger normally posts two or three posts per day and mainly before noon Pacific time. I was really surprised to see this posted at 9pm eastern. It certainly doesn't look good and may be the beginning of the end.

RED ALERT: FX Dislocation In Process

8:17 CT

I do not know what is going on here, and I don't think I want to.

Someone, apparently someone in Asia, wants dollars. A LOT of dollars. There is a forced-liquidation event underway that is massive, it is against all asset classes and it is spreading...

...There is no news coverage at the present time identifying the source of this but it is not small and contrary to some reports it is not "automatic selling"; this is forced liquidation.

Folks, if this translates into Eastern Europe where there are severe instabilities already brewing literally everything in the financial world could come apart "all at once."

The worse news is that if this happens Bernanke will have killed us (in the US) by extending those swap lines all over the planet during the last six months. These will become utterly uncollectable and they are massive, in the many hundreds of billions of dollars...

Time to make some popcorn and put the Vodka on ice.


Holy crap.

Denninger does post at night sometimes, but this sounds rather ominous, even for him.

Euro Falls to 10-Week Low on Concern Europe’s Turmoil to Worsen

(Bloomberg) -- The euro fell to a 10-week low against the dollar after Moody’s Investors Service said it may downgrade a number of banks with units in Eastern Europe, reigniting concern about financial turmoil in the region.

I am not an econ wonk but this appears to be insanity. The US is in debt to the tune of around $60T, (federal only, gawd knows what else) they have a seriously reduced productive capacity in anything real and appear to be on an increasing decline.

With the impending reduction in cheap energy, the US economy, along with many others must falter, at best. If the US had an "ace in the hole", I might buy the FX play, but I just don't see it.

Seriously, what am I missing???

If, as Denninger suggests, there is a flight to the dollar, then that implies one of two things: (IMVHO)

- The other economies, comparatively, are much worse off.

- There is so much foreign investment already committed to the US financial system that it is imperative to keep the boat afloat.

Option 1 is terrifying, option 2 is an irrational attempt to protect existing (fantasy?) holdings. From what I have learned, I expected at some point a flight from the dollar.

So, an attachment to the dollar appears to be an emotional extortion

Feel free to shred my post because I just don't understand. It speaks to me of people hiding in a cave during an earthquake, only to have the mountain collapse about them.

OTOH, it could be that Denninger just read the tea leaves wrong.

Maybe someone with a lot of dollars already is trying to pump up this currency so they can spend it all in a massive spree and get their money's worth........maybe the Chinese???

I agree it's pretty scary. Gold is going way up suddenly.
Usually the dollar goes up and gold goes down. This is not normal.....

Something is not right here.

The other economies, comparatively, are much worse off.

I think that's it. There's worry about major bank failures in Asia, and about Eastern Europe defaulting on their debt. With Asia and Europe going down the toilet, money is pouring into the US.

Like some have said...the dollar will be the last to fall. Ugly as it is, it's winning the "least ugly" contest against other currencies.

Ugly as it is, it's winning the "least ugly" contest against other currencies.

You could well be right. If this is the case, then the situation is far worse than anyone is willing to admit publicly.

Considering the Dow has been "sticky" around 8000 for some time, the drop today (~7600) could indicate a new round of capitulation.

Ethanol maker Cascade Grain files Chapter 11
A company that opened a $200 million ethanol plant in Clatskanie last year has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Production began in June but was halted Jan. 8 after tests showed the ethanol was contaminated. In the bankruptcy filing, company officials say the plant has "at least two significant design defects" and deficiencies in construction and materials.


Well i just learned from my mother who is a state employee of Kansas that they just ran out of money and might not get payed next payday. Kansas has just joined California.

A preview of future events in other states. . .

Coming Attractions ... PBS ..Banking at the Brink ..Inside the Meltdown



Coming attractions for this Tuesday morning:

Global Stocks Retreat, Led by Banks; Gold, Treasuries Advance

Feb. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Stocks in Europe and Asia dropped and U.S. futures slumped on concern banks may face rating downgrades and further losses as the recession deepens. Gold climbed to a seven-month high, while Treasuries gained.

..Profits have declined 64 percent for 633 companies in western Europe that have released earnings since Jan. 12, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

A NW ethanol production company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy:


Energy shortage hype contributed to overbuilding in the ethanol sector. The inefficiency of ethanol as an energy source contributed to insufficient rates of return on capital invested.

Hello TODers,

As I often say here on TOD as we go postPeak: Have you hugged your bag of NPK today? It is like hugging a jug of gasoline due to the embedded energy.

The following is a somewhat dated link, but IMO, has valuable info on phosphate beneficiation:

Extraction and beneficiation of rock phosphate

..Approximately five tonnes of ore must be mined and beneficiated to produce one tonne of commercial phosphate rock with an average P2O5 content of 32 % (Ullmann, vol. A 19). Open cast mining consists of removing the overburden covering the phosphate bed and recovering the ore by mechanical shovels or by hydraulic methods. Economic conditions can allow up to 1.5-2 m3 of material to be removed per tonne reclaimed ore. When the overburden is too large under ground mining has to be chosen. This has been done in for example, Tunisia, Jordan and Egypt and for the igneous Kola rock in Russia (Becker, 1989).

...The process of mining and beneficiation to produce one ton of commercial rock phosphate (32 % P2O5) requires approximately 0.9 GJ/tonne rock or 2.9 GJ/tonne P2O5. If the rock is calcined the total energy requirement is doubled (Ullmann, vol. A 19, 1991).
I encourage reading the link versus my teaser segments.

3GJ/ton P2O5 = 22.8 gals of gasoline equivalent/ton, but it can be double this amount [45.6 gas gallons/ton]. So this gives you an idea of just raw, unacidulated* commercial phosphate rock. The additional energy and resource inputs, like sulfur & nitrogen, required to move, process, and blend this P mineral into a finished, acidulated** bag of DAP can easily double or triple the embedded energy before it is finally applied to the topsoil square footage.

Unacidulated*-- raw granules of cleaned & concentrated phosphate; generally slower plant uptake due to lower water solubility. Feedstock for process below.

Acidulated**-- 'superphosphating' activation process whereby the unacidulated product above gets further treated by sulfur-->sulfuric acid-->phosphoric acid-->other chem-blending to a finished I-NPK product like DAP, MAP, TSP, etc. Highly soluble for fast plant uptake.

..Phosphorus being an essential plant nutrient, finds its major use as a constituent of fertilizers for agriculture and farm production in the form of concentrated phosphoric acids, which can consist of 70% to 75% P2O5. Global demand for fertilizers led to large increase in phosphate (PO43-) production in the second half of the 20th century. Due to the essential nature of phosphorus to living organisms, the low solubility of natural phosphorus-containing compounds, and the slow natural cycle of phosphorus, the agricultural industry is heavily reliant on fertilizers which contain phosphate, mostly in the form of superphosphate of lime. Superphosphate of lime is a mixture of two phosphate salts, calcium dihydrogen phosphate Ca(H2PO4)2 and calcium sulfate dihydrate CaSO4•2H2O produced by the reaction of sulfuric acid and water with calcium phosphate.
Much more info on phosphate can be found in the many chapters in this UN FAO document: