Drumbeat: April 10, 2009

How Italy's ENI Vastly Boosted Oil Output

Just outside Pointe Noire, a steamy industrial port in the Republic of the Congo, a road lined with brightly painted open-air bars and fish restaurants gives way to a vast bulldozed clearing. There, workers are laying the foundation for a gas-fired power plant in the sandy red African soil. The builder: Italian oil giant ENI.

While oil companies typically shy away from power plants, which offer lower returns than the extraction of oil and gas, ENI Chief Paolo Scaroni has used these much needed projects to forge ties with the countries where ENI operates. "The fact is, the oil is theirs," says Scaroni, 62. "If you are looked at as a partner, you are allowed to exploit their oil; if not, you are pushed aside."

Hurricane forecasts make oil sector hopeful

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Forecasts for a relatively quiet U.S. hurricane season have given the country's storm-weary oil sector hope for reprieve from winds and waves that sank platforms and flooded refineries in recent summers.

Colorado State University's widely watched weather team downgraded its outlook this week for the number of named storms during this June 1-November 30 hurricane season, pointing to cooler seas and the possibility of a weak El Nino.

Other forecasters are also calling for a quieter hurricane season than last year's, which produced 16 named storms including a handful that knocked out U.S. offshore oil and gas production and damaged refineries on shore.

Energy-spending cutbacks spark price-spike talk

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- ConocoPhillips Chief Executive Jim Mulva didn't mince words with Wall Street analysts when, in the face of a slowing economy and lower oil prices, he outlined the oil major's nearly $2 billion cut in capital spending for 2009 and other belt-tightening measures.

Nigeria oil unrest 'kills 1,000'

Violence in Nigeria's oil region left 1,000 people dead and cost $24bn (£16bn) last year, a report says, according to an official and activist.

Reports: Russia to buy Israeli spy drones

MOSCOW — Russia is buying pilotless spy aircraft from Israel in hopes of improving its own unmanned drones after a poor performance in the war against Georgia last August, Russian news agencies quoted a top military official as saying Friday.

Island DIY: Kauai residents don't wait for state to repair road

(CNN) -- Their livelihood was being threatened, and they were tired of waiting for government help, so business owners and residents on Hawaii's Kauai island pulled together and completed a $4 million repair job to a state park -- for free.

Wind-powered craft aims to smash ice speed record

Greenbird is a carbon fibre composite craft -- described by the makers on their Web site as "part airplane, part sailboat and part Formula One car" -- that uses solid sails to harness the power of the wind.

It weighs 600 kg and is able to travel up to four or five times greater than the speed of the wind -- at which point the downward force of the wings increases the craft's weight to nearly a ton. The only metal in the structure is in the wing bearings and the wheel.

Enjoy the cheap petrol, while it lasts: With demand on the rise, existing wells drying up and a dearth of big discoveries, the oil price is only headed in one direction.

Under the glare of TV cameras, OPEC promised to lift oil production and bring prices down. Yet the price continued its march upward and production rose only marginally.

The key point that appears to have been missed was that in the decade from 1998, demand grew about 16 million barrels a day while supply struggled to keep pace, particularly during the later years.

Now that the oil price has collapsed from $US147 to the $US40-$US50 region and it's off the front pages, it is yesterday's story. But is it really an old story. Have we been told the true state of play?

Energy prospects brightest when the news is bleakest

The short version of the energy investment thesis is "buy it." The long version is "buy lots of it."

The world burns about 85 million barrels of oil a day. We spill almost as much ink breathlessly debating the price of it and where it's going. But the story is pretty simple: Depletion is relentless, "high-grading" is at a fever pitch, investment is bare bones and demand is only going up over time. Prices will follow faithfully, until we run out, by which time we'll either be dragging our knuckles on the ground again or we'll have found another way to fuel modern life and SUVs.

The Return of $150 Oil?

Believe it or not, there may be one compelling reason why we'd rather not crawl out too quickly from the economic crevasse into which we've fallen. Remember less than a year ago when crude was flirting with $150 a barrel? A sudden solution to our mounting economic difficulties in the face of declining oil production just might slingshot prices higher than we'd like to have them.

Saudi to deepen May oil supply cuts to 2 Asia buyers

TOKYO (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia will unexpectedly cut oil supplies to some major Asian refiners next month, suggesting the world's top exporter may be more concerned than some of its OPEC peers about swelling crude inventories.

Mexico, U.S. Energy Ministers Meet on Cross-Border Oil Fields

Mexican Secretary of Energy Georgina Kessel Martinez and her U.S. counterpart Steven Chu met on cross-border oil fields and renewable energy, said a statement of the Mexican government.

Russia-Turkmen gas conflict looms: report

A blast on the main gas pipeline between Turkmenistan and Russia reflects rising tensions between the two countries and could signal a Ukraine-style "gas war," a Russian newspaper said.

Rosneft repays $577 mln state bank loan early

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's largest oil company, state-owned Rosneft (ROSN.MM), has repaid a $577 million loan from state bank VEB more than six months before it was due, the company said on Friday.

VEB has lent out $11 billion of government funds to Russian companies needing to refinance foreign loans but no longer able to secure funding abroad due to the global credit crunch.

Project Boost for Economy; $60MM Revamp for Maui Field

A $60 million upgrade of Taranaki's Maui gasfield is expected to extend the life of the offshore development beyond 2020.

Role seen for integrateds as NOCs grow more dominant

National oil companies will become increasingly dominant, but will need to work with investor-owned integrated firms, panelists said Apr. 7 during the US Energy Information Administration's 2009 annual conference.

"Even though [NOCs'] resource bases continue to grow, they have different priorities. We don't expect integrated oil companies to go away, but we do see them supplying the talent necessary to produce from increasingly difficult formations," said David Knapp, senior editor of global oil markets with Energy Intelligence Group.

Indian Consortium Keen on Orinoco Block in Venezuela

Four Indian energy firms are considering a joint bid to acquire a minority stake in one of the Orinoco blocks that Venezuela is offering to foreign investors, said an executive from Oil & Natural Gas Corp., which is leading the Indian consortium.

Why Cuba's Dreams of Major Oil Discoveries Might Come True

HAVANA—There is a place tantalizingly close to American shores that—but for reasons of politics and foreign policy—could emerge as a welcome new source of oil for U.S. consumers. That surprising potential entrant onto the world energy stage is Cuba. The island nation, says Jorge Piñon, a leading expert on Cuba's energy at the University of Miami, "can certainly become a major producer of oil."

Redoubt's Shenanigans Cut into Cook Inlet's Oil Production

The shutdown of production from 10 oil platforms in Cook Inlet due to volcanic eruptions possibly could last for months and the economic harm could reach millions of dollars, state officials said Wednesday. The length and cost of the disruption is hard to predict because no one knows when the Redoubt Volcano will settle down, the officials said at a press conference Wednesday.

Mexico permits company to explore oil with seismic technique

MEXICO CITY (Xinhua) -- Mexico Energy Ministry has permitted state-owned oil company Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) to pilot oil exploration with seismic technique.

Alaska Oil Regulators Deny Exxon Petition

The state of Alaska has denied a petition from Exxon Mobil seeking permission from regulators to form a new oil and gas unit at Point Thomson.

Exxon this week asked the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to unite the leases of different companies within the Point Thomson oil and gas field so it could be developed, the Anchorage (Alaska) Daily News reported Wednesday.

Denying the request, commissioners said granting a new unit to Exxon would "clearly and directly collide" with the Alaska Department of Natural Resources' decision to dismantle the unit.

Total Prepares to Start Drilling in Sudan Despite Regional Conflict

French oil major Total S.A. wants to start drilling in southern Sudan as it seeks to boost output from Africa's sixth-largest producer despite international pressure on the country's government.

"We are just preparing ourselves to resume," Yves-Louis Darricarrere, Total's President of Exploration and Production, told Zawya Dow Jones at the sidelines of an energy conference this week.

The SUV is dead — long live the SUV

That gas-guzzling, pollutant-spewing darling of suburban and rural America is a passé relic of a bygone era, according to the book editors, fashion photographers, literary critics, Broadway choreographers and other practitioners of the bedrock industries that built this country.

They’d better stay away from the New York auto show this week because there they will see car manufacturers showing off their latest off-road contenders, and the majority of the new models unveiled at the show’s press preview earlier this week were SUVs or crossovers. Why? Because while these vehicles may have been declared dead in Manhattan, the residents of the Fly-Over states have kept buying them (to the extent that anyone is buying anything more than food and water these days).

Small cars pose a big risk for automakers

"I heard it the other day — I don't know if it's true — that Americans' memory is about 60 days," said Tim Mahoney, senior vice president of Subaru of America. "You can see the fuel-economy situation from last summer. I heard (a dealer) the other day talking about how they couldn't sell Civics and Corolla and Priuses fast enough. All of a sudden, 60 days later, we're back on SUVs and trucks."

No Small Wonder: The Tatas Launch the Nano

On March 23, the day Tata Motors launched the Nano -- its long-awaited small car priced at US$2,000 -- the company's web site crashed. It had received more than 40 million hits in a short span of time and was unable to cope with the traffic. Visitors had come to the site to learn more about what is probably the world's most economical car and to join the queue to buy it.

The End of the Roads: We have as much road capacity today as we will ever need

Ultimately, sustainability means coming to terms with natural biophysical limits. So we have to get past this idea of planning around extrapolation of past trends. That the future may be different than the past is the first thing that we need to come to terms with. This is where the idea of peak roads comes in: If we can say to ourselves, “We have as much road capacity today as we will ever need,” then we can start to ask what that means in terms of how we should actually start designing our cities. This shouldn’t be thought of as a default “anti-roads” statement. But our numerical models show that we simply may not have enough fuel (and biofuel, and electric cars) to use more road capacity than what we have today.

Energy plan to focus on rural Cambodia

THE Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy, the World Bank and United Kingdom's Department for International Development (DFID) are working on a major initiative to boost rural renewable energy programs and electrify rural areas, officials said this week.

The government hopes the project will help address chronic power shortages that increase the cost of doing business in Cambodia and make the country reliant on imported fossil fuels. The program is funded by international grants to supply rural areas with solar panels, biodigesters, mini-hydroplants and biogas generators.

Chamber of Mines worried about rising incidence of acid mine drainage

The Chamber of Mines says that acid mine drainage is a growing problem in the mining industry that it requires "significant attention".

At the recent Water for Growth and Development Summit, Chamber of Mines spokesperson Nikisi Lesufi said that although the mining industry had made significant steps towards reducing the contamination of the country's water sources by mines, the needed guidance in resolving this problem.

Health risks of shipping pollution have been 'underestimated'

Britain and other European governments have been accused of underestimating the health risks from shipping pollution following research which shows that one giant container ship can emit almost the same amount of cancer and asthma-causing chemicals as 50m cars.

Exports Fall, and It’s Felt on the Farm

“The profit just isn’t there,” said Kim Anderson, a grain economist at Oklahoma State University, who noted that farmers were suffering from high fertilizer prices as well.

“The 2008 wheat crop was almost a once-in-a-lifetime crop, where you had above-average yields and above-average prices,” he added. “And then you come into the 2009 crop with almost the exact opposite.”

The Agriculture Department projects that American wheat and cotton plantings will be reduced by 7 percent this year compared with those in 2008, while corn plantings will be down 1 percent. Corn farmers have a cushion because of rising federal mandates for the use of corn ethanol in gasoline. Pork, cattle and poultry production are also expected to decline, in large part because of declining exports.

Will New Food Safety Bills Really Outlaw Backyard Gardening and End Farmers' Markets?

There's been a lot of hype about a few new food bills. And while most of it is conspiracy theory there are some reasons to be alarmed.

Is this the answer to energy crisis?

A WESTCOUNTRY mechanic-turned inventor has successfully tested a wave energy device that could power homes across the world.

Dartmouth-based engineer Alvin Smith says investors in the Middle East have expressed "enormous interest" in his Searaser device, a pump-based system which stores energy from the sea in nearby reservoirs.

Duckweed: A biofuel and waste treatment

RALEIGH, N.C. (UPI) -- U.S. scientists say duckweed -- a tiny aquatic plant -- can help clean up animal waste at industrial hog farms and may held solve the global energy crisis.

World is awash with oil as demand sinks: IEA

PARIS (AFP) – The world is awash with oil despite a price rally but the glut is hampering investment in fields which will be needed when demand pulls out of a "relentless" plunge the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Friday.

The IEA cut its estimate for world demand growth this year because it no longer believed economic activity might pick up in the second half.

"For the fourth time since last October, we have slashed the economic assumptions that underpin our oil demand forecasts," the IEA said, noting also an unexpectedly sharp fall of demand in China.

IEA Cuts Oil Demand Forecast to Lowest in Five Years

(Bloomberg) -- The International Energy Agency expects global oil demand to decline by 2.4 million barrels a day this year, about the same amount that Iraq produces, as the economic slump reduces consumption to the lowest since 2004.

The adviser to 28 nations cut its 2009 forecast for an eighth consecutive month, slashing last month’s estimate by 1 million barrels a day, or 1.2 percent, to 83.4 million barrels a day. The IEA also said oil supply from outside the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will drop this year.

“The pace of contraction is close to early 1980s levels, with a growing consensus that economic and oil demand recovery will be deferred to 2010,” the Paris-based adviser said in a monthly report today.

Highways Beckon U.S. Travelers as Gas Prices, Room Rates Fall

(Bloomberg) -- Americans coping with the recession may be more likely to hit the road in the family car for holiday weekend getaways to take advantage of lower gas prices and hotel room rates.

Russia blamed for pipeline blast

Turkmenistan has accused Russia of causing an explosion on a gas pipeline by giving less than a day's notice before abruptly cutting its imports.

It said the sharp change in pressure caused a pipeline to rupture, and was a gross violation of gas purchase rules.

US Congress Considers Bill to Cut Oil Imports

The United States government is forging ahead with concrete steps to wean the country of heavy dependence on foreign oil by releasing a draft of new clean energy legislation put together by Congress.If the legislation is passed into law, major suppliers of oil to the country such as Nigeria and Saudi Arabia will be affected. Nigeria exports almost half of its total crude oil production to the US, which is Nigeria’s biggest customer.

Biggest auction of oil and gas blocks in India

NEW DELHI (AFP) – India has announced the launch of its biggest-ever auction of oil and gas areas, brushing aside worries about a drop in spending by firms on energy exploration due to the global financial crisis.

The government expects to attract three billion dollars in commitments for exploration, a senior government official said late Thursday.

Don't Fear Inflation: The U.S. is printing dollars like mad, but deflation remains a bigger threat

Though we are in the grips of disinflation at best, many are worried about the inflationary ramifications of the Fed's monetizing the economic challenges. It reminds me of the recent oil trade, where the markets were in a frenzy based off of the scarcity of oil (peak oil theory) and ultimately running out in 20 years. What the market lost sight of was that demand was dropping at a rate not seen in over two decades. Long-term dynamics were dominating the market, while the immediate information was one of significant supply coming on. What occurred was a significant drop in the price of oil.

Now consider the inflation argument. The Fed's helicopter approach is indeed inflationary. However, it will not occur for some time, at least in the form of labor inflation, which is the most significant.

Asahan Aluminum Smelter Plans to Run at Full-Capacity This Year

(Bloomberg) -- PT Indonesia Asahan Aluminum, the only smelter in the country, plans to operate at full capacity this year as low electricity costs help the producer make a profit even after a drop in metal prices.

Tokyo Electric Reactor Restart Deferred by Governor

(Bloomberg) -- The restart of a Tokyo Electric Power Co. nuclear plant, the world’s biggest, has been put on hold after a prefectural governor deferred his decision on whether the station, shut by an earthquake in 2007, is now safe.

NYRI pulls plug

The shelving Friday of a controversy-charged attempt to build a high-voltage power line from Marcy to Orange County sparked hails of triumph from federal, state and county elected officials who opposed it.

The reactions were tempered by some officials with calls to guard against any further such proposals, and to create a statewide energy policy that they say would eliminate the need for such projects.

Down to the Wires: Local resistance to transmission lines is keeping customers from getting the green power they need.

INCREASED GENERATION of renewable sources of energy is a key component of the energy and climate change bills circulating on Capitol Hill. The United States can't possibly hope to reduce its addiction to greenhouse-gas-emitting fossil fuels without harnessing the power of the wind, the sun and water. But many of the areas of the country where those resources are most abundant aren't near the areas with the greatest demand for electricity. The power grid, which should be able to distribute surplus energy from one place to another, is already straining to keep up with rising demand. And efforts to increase its capacity invariably meet stiff resistance. Case in point: the fights over power transmission lines in Northern Virginia.

China: Wind power capacity likely to rise 64% this year

Installed capacity in China's wind power sector will grow 64 percent this year to 20 million kilowatts, organizers of the 3rd China (Shanghai) International Wind Energy Exhibition and Symposium 2009 forecast Friday.

Saudi Arabia holds the key to CPO price

BANGI: Crude palm oil (CPO) will likely trade at the RM2,400 per tonne level by the end of the year if the world’s top crude oil producer Saudi Arabia can support prices at US$55 per barrel, a top industry expert said.

However, CPO price could also fall to the critical level of RM1,500 per tonne if Saudi Arabia failed to stop crude oil prices from falling to US$35 per barrel, said James Fry, a London-based international oils and fats expert and the managing director of LMC International Ltd.

A Solar-Powered Solution to Florida Sprawl

To anyone familiar with southern Florida's planning-nightmare sprawl of golf courses, strip malls and cookie-cutter subdivisions named after the plants and animals they replaced, Kitson's vision for his solar-powered, smart-growth, live-where-you-work city of 45,000 people east of Fort Myers is breathtakingly different. That's why the press conference held today to reveal his development plans for the historic Babcock Ranch property will feature representatives from the Audubon Society, the World Wildlife Fund and the Sierra Club.

‘Farmer Bill’ has seen it all at multi-generational McCoy Lake farm

Farming has gone from being noble and healthy to being a necessity, Thomson says.

“The public doesn’t realize how things have changed drastically in the world: drought, famine and peak oil production,” he said.

“We’ve got to start producing our own food locally because pretty soon it won’t be coming from elsewhere.”

Sustainability a growing movement at colleges, universities across Canada

TORONTO — Sustainability is quickly seeping into every crevice of campus life at some colleges and universities in Canada and each year they're churning out reams of green graduates schooled in the ways of environmental building.

But true sustainability in construction, engineering and energy isn't going to come about by just dedicating one program to it, say staff, faculty and students - it's about a way of thinking.

Air Pollution Exposure May Slow Fetal Growth

Researchers looked at data on nearly 336,000 births in New Jersey between 1999 and 2003 and at daily air pollution readings from across the state. Readings from monitoring sites within six miles of the mothers' homes were used to calculate average levels of air pollution during their pregnancies.

The study found that the risk of a small birth-weight baby increased significantly with each increase in particulate matter of 4 micrograms per cubic meter during the first and third trimesters of pregnancy. Each 10 parts per billion increase in nitrogen oxide exposure was also associated with a large increase in the risk of a small birth-weight baby.

EPA objects to 3 more surface coal mining permits

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is objecting to three more Appalachian surface mining permits, saying the operations would cause unacceptable damage.

The agency recently asked the Army Corps of Engineers to revoke a permit for a Virginia mine that was issued under a streamlined process and require the operator to obtain an individual permit, which would include stricter environmental standards. The EPA also wants more environmental safeguards before the corps issues permits for two West Virginia surface mines, including one owned by Richmond, Va.-based Massey Energy Co., the nation's fourth-largest coal company.

Global Climate Talks Must Address Agriculture

WASHINGTON, Apr 9 (OneWorld.net) - "If fundamental climate change mitigation and adaptation goals are to be met, international climate negotiations must include agriculture," appeals an international food policy think tank.

"We are at the point where the negotiations are going to put in place new mechanisms for the next five to 15 years and it's critical that agriculture be included this time around," said Gerald Nelson, senior research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

Ohio corn affected by global warming

ZANESVILLE - Corn likes it cool.

That's the message a group of concerned officials and representatives with Environment Ohio were delivering at a press conference Thursday morning at Paul's Farm Market on Ohio 60.

"Global warming is raising temperatures in Ohio and across the nation," said Katy Kiefer, a field organizer with Environment Ohio. "Hotter fields will mean lower yields for corn, and eventually, the rest of agriculture."

Solar-powered cooker nabs climate prize

OSLO (Reuters) – A $6 cardboard box that uses solar power to cook food, sterilize water and could help 3 billion poor people cut greenhouse gases, has won a $75,000 prize for ideas to fight global warming.

The "Kyoto Box," named after the United Nations' Kyoto Protocol that seeks to cut emissions of greenhouse gases, is aimed at billions of people who use firewood to cook.

Costing 5 euros ($6.60) to make, it can also make it easier to boil polluted water.

"We're saving lives and saving trees," the Kyoto Box's developer Jon Boehmer, a Norwegian based in Kenya, said in a statement.

The IEA's latestOil Market Report is out this morning. Two links up top refer to this report but this link gives the IEA’s actual highlights. The full report is by subscription only and will be available, free, in two weeks.

Forecast 2009 global oil demand is revised down by 1.0 mb/d after a reassessment of GDP assumptions and much lower-than-expected 1Q09 demand data....

Global oil supply fell by 400 kb/d in March, to 83.4 mb/d. Non-OPEC supply fell by 170 kb/d, with a 220 kb/d dip in the OECD partly offset by higher non-OECD output. 2009 non-OPEC output is revised down by 320 kb/d, largely due to lower biofuels output, and weaker 1Q09 crude production in Asia. Non-OPEC output now falls from 50.6 mb/d in 2008 to 50.3 mb/d in 2009.

The NYMEX is closed today for Good Friday so I have no idea how this downward revision will affect oil markets.

Ron P.

I'm not really sure how these markets operate -seemingly complex- but it appears to me the main problem is that the spot price is just that: it takes no account of any profit margin required to actually deliver 'x' amount in the future.

In electronics where you have a very fast moving signal and you want to average/smooth it out you add a capacitor... So it strikes me that if we want a smoother more consistent price we need a lot more storage capacity -and we need to know the value of that storage capacity (oil-in-the ground might work if we had exact figures for this.)


It's pretty clear that we have recently seen supply in excess of demand, but it will be interesting to see how much coverage the MSM gives to the IEA's slightly longer term warnings about oil shortages as soon as 2013, with oil price spikes as soon as 2010:

The IEA warns of shortages - "The next oil crisis is coming"

As I noted yesterday, in this article the head of the IEA sounds a lot like Matt Simmons.

Gold hits $720 by Thanksgiving.


With the Shark Fin (nonlinear) of Demand now in place for oil, supply will almost always outpace it.


Note the BDI is collapsing again. When will the Ozzies shut
their Aluminum Smelters?

An interesting trip down memory lane. A link to the Oil Drum discussion of Richard Heinberg's early August, 2006 comments about Ghawar follows. It's interesting to look at the Saudi production trend, from about July 1, 2006 forward, versus the production trend in the previous 30 months. I think that the water encroachment at North Ghawar took the Saudis by surprise in early 2006 and it took them a while to regroup and to partially offset the decline from their older fields, where the bulk of their production still comes from.

Heinberg's 8/06 comments are especially interesting in light of Stuart, et al's subsequent study of North Ghawar and Peter Wells' comments at the 2007 ASPO-USA conference about North Ghawar ("effectively watered out by the end of 2010.") And then there is Cantarell, which will probably be effectively watered out by the end of 2010. North Ghawar & Cantarell were the two largest producing fields in the world in 2005.

Heinberg: Middle East at a Crossroads
Posted by Prof. Goose on August 4, 2006

Rich Heinberg has an interesting piece that should be brought to the attention of TOD. Here is the link to it at The Energy Bulletin. Worth reading.

At the ASPO conference a well-connected industry insider who wishes not to be directly quoted told me that his own sources inside Saudi Arabia insist that production from Ghawar is now down to less than three million barrels per day, and that the Saudis are maintaining total production at only slowly dwindling levels by producing other fields at maximum rates. This, if true, would be a bombshell: most estimates give production from Ghawar at 5.5 Mb/d.

Then there is this Forbes story from last fall which quoted an engineering chief:

It insists that rumors of Ghawar's demise are premature. The field has given up some 45 billion of at least 100 billion barrels of original oil in place (only Aramco knows for sure, and it's not telling), yet still easily produces 5 million barrels a day; its overall water cut has declined in recent years to only 28%. Says Nasser, "If I needed more production I could go to Ghawar and boost it to 10 million barrels a day."

Just a few clicks of a mouse, really.

I suspect reality is somewhere in between what this guy says and what Richard Heinberg's source said.

Texas State Geologist, in 2005:

"While Texas may not be able to match its peak production rate, we can, with the use of improved technology, significantly increase our oil production."

IMO, delusional thinking is not geographically limited.

In hindsight, though, if Ghawar has only been producing 3 million bpd since mid 2006, there is no way they could have produced the amount of oil that they (reportedly) have in that time.

As Richard noted, push every other field to the max, and accelerate developmental drilling, in the southern portion of Ghawar & elsewhere. And the Saudis have not matched their annual 2005 production rate of 9.6 mbpd for three straight years. The key aspect of this is the large cumulative shortfall between what they would have produced at the 2005 rate versus what they actually produced.

A recent example of delusional thinking colliding with the reality of water encroachment in horizontal wells follows. I think that Matt Simmons used this is an example of the problems that he expected to see at North Ghawar. Kind of interesting that the chairman of Shell made public statements that were contradicted by internal data.


The Royal Dutch/Shell Group's oil production in Oman has been declining for years, belying the company's optimistic reports and raising doubts about a vital question in the Middle East: whether new technology can extend the life of huge but mature oil fields. Internal company documents and technical papers show that the Yibal field, Oman's largest, began to decline rapidly in 1997.

Yet Sir Philip Watts, Shell's former chairman, said in an upbeat public report in 2000 that ''major advances in drilling'' were enabling the company ''to extract more from such mature fields.'' The internal Shell documents suggest that the figure for proven oil reserves in Oman was mistakenly increased in 2000, resulting in a 40 percent overstatement.

My point is that they didn't have that kind of "spare capacity" in other fields. They only now have access to more oil from Khurais (maybe), Khursaniyan, and Shaybah. And you can't make up for the deficit due to Ghawar (5 mbpd down to 3 mbpd) by increasing drilling in S. Ghawar -- that would increase Ghawar again, would it not?

I'm certainly not defending the comments of the "chief engineer", but merely stating that the reports from the other extreme have proved to be equally unlikely.

I think that there is a flaw in your reasoning. Richard's source reportedly gave him current Ghawar production, in the summer of 2006, to-wit (Richard, quoting his source):

. . . his own sources inside Saudi Arabia insist that production from Ghawar is now down to less than three million barrels per day

The actual 2005 production rate for Ghawar was not given, so we don't know how much "less than three million barrels per day" would be below the actual 2005 rate. Richard just reported a commonly assumed estimate of 5 mbpd plus.

Regarding the truth being somewhere between Richard's source (Ghawar down to less than 3 mbpd in summer of 2006) and the public Saudi statement (Ghawar can produce 10 mbpd at will), I suspect a more likely scenario is that one of them is lying, especially if the implication is that Ghawar could produce 10 mbpd on a sustained basis. So then the question, IMO, is which assertion is better supported by production data?

There is no production data whatsoever which supports the assertion of Ghawar under 3000 mbpd. Just a comment from somebody who knows somebody who knows somebody. My reasoning is that, looking at the other tired fields and what they can/have delivered, there is not enough possible flow -- when added to 3 mbpd or less -- to equal the amount of oil (particularly Arab Light) they have shipped. Why are you so apt to believe an extreme rumor? What if someone told you that the remaining oil in Ghawar had turned into bad coffee?

I assume that you agree that the vast majority of production from Ghawar has historically come from what is, by far, the best portion of the field, North Ghawar.

Peter Wells, keynote speaker at ASPO-USA, stated, in October, 2007, that in his opinion North Ghawar would be "Effectively watered out by the end of 2010."

My point is that the cumulative shortfall in Saudi production + Wells' comment supports Heinberg's August, 2006 article, especially since none of us know what the recent actual Ghawar production actually has been. So there is no way for us to say, with any confidence, that we know from what level that Ghawar production fell to, if we assume the three mpbd number for the summer of 2006 was right.

In any case, my position has been based on the HL model, which I think is giving us a plausible estimate for URR, and as noted above, Saudi Arabia has shown three years of annual production below their 2005 rate--at approximately the same stage of depletion at which the prior swing producer, Texas, started declining. We shall have to wait and see if Saudi Arabia ever exceeds their 2005 annual production rate.

I received this from an anonymous source last summer. It's supposedly an internal Saudi Aramco estimate for 2009 Ghawar CAPACITY, which breaks down by operating area as follows (mbpd):

Uthmaniyah 1575
Ain Dar/Shedgum 1925
Hawiyah 900
Haradh 900
Fazran 25
Total 5325

Do I believe this? I dunno...the number for Hawiyah is a bit of a eye-opener, and I distrust round numbers as much as you distrust "capacities". But there is is.

Hello JoulesBurn,

Based on just relative areal size: I would expect the numbers on Uthmaniyah and Ain Dar/Shedgum to be the flip-flop. Perhaps, this just shows that AD/Shedgum has been much more reworked with MRCs and other EOR techniques? Do your satellite overviews reveal anymore info? Thxs for any reply.

Breakdown Map of Ghawar oilfields for any TOD newbies

Here is a simpler view of Ghawar:

This post (in an Appendix) has data on the respective areas of Ghawar's regions:


North UTMN is depleted similarly to ANDR and SGCM, but the south still has a lot of oil -- though more problematic to extract.

In hindsight, though, if Ghawar has only been producing 3 million bpd since mid 2006, there is no way they could have produced the amount of oil that they (reportedly) have in that time.

Thats correct and thus oil hit 150 a barrel.

If it was from and overall distributed collective decline it would have shown in the production numbers.

Very few oil producers can bluff a decline of almost 2mbd.

In fact I can think of only one that can pull that off.

On the natural gas side I can think of a different large NG producer that can bluff a similar decline in NG production.

Occam's Razor applies to this situation. The simplest explanation is usually the correct one. For what you stated and presumed to occur, it would require the coordination of hundreds, if not thousands of Aramco and Gazprom employees, working under the government and company directives in an effort to defraud the entire world as to their business activities. The easiest 'test' to confirm whether or not these companies lied about their global shipping is to simply ask their buyers. Strangely, there were no reports what-so-ever of any incident in which these companies failed to show the goods.


Conspiracy Theories detract from the amazing work that is done on this site - making it that much more likely that people will be put off by your message. I suggest sticking to facts, and not the 'truthiness' kind either.

The easiest 'test' to confirm whether or not these companies lied about their global shipping is to simply ask their buyers. Strangely, there were no reports what-so-ever of any incident in which these companies failed to show the goods.

In the case of Gazprom that's total nonsense. In fact for most of January Gazprom turned off 80% of their supplies to Europe and exports have never recovered to pre-2009 levels since then.

The claims about oil output actually down by 2 or 3 million barrels per day are supported by Matt Simmons. No that doesn't make it correct but he's not exactly a fringe conspiracy theorist either. Well unless you consider all of PO to be fringe conspiracy theory.

And one thing OECD Saudi oil buyers can confirm is that there was no increase in their exports to them last year - despite the "surge". In fact Saudi exports to OECD countries alone dropped from 4.5 million barrels per day to 4 mb/day between 2006 and 2007 and have never recovered since.

In the case of Gazprom that's total nonsense. In fact for most of January Gazprom turned off 80% of their supplies to Europe and exports have never recovered to pre-2009 levels since then.

Why ?

Well it's either a buyers strike or Gazprom can't get it up. Take your pick. The next few months European storage refill rates will probably answer the question.

In the case of Gazprom that's total nonsense. In fact for most of January Gazprom turned off 80% of their supplies to Europe and exports have never recovered to pre-2009 levels since then.

Aren't many European countries refusing to import their contractual volume of natural gas due to the prices being much much higher than what the market has priced them at? Is it any coincidence that LNG imports are set to skyrocket in the EU this year?


Wasn't this JUST DISCUSSED a few days back on this very site?

The claims about oil output actually down by 2 or 3 million barrels per day are supported by Matt Simmons. No that doesn't make it correct but he's not exactly a fringe conspiracy theorist either. Well unless you consider all of PO to be fringe conspiracy theory.

And one thing OECD Saudi oil buyers can confirm is that there was no increase in their exports to them last year - despite the "surge". In fact Saudi exports to OECD countries alone dropped from 4.5 million barrels per day to 4 mb/day between 2006 and 2007 and have never recovered since.

Didn't a new 200,000 bpd refinery go online sometime last year? Crude exports obviously decline when refined products exports increase. Look at the United States for a perfect example of this - sans the crude exports of course! We are exporting and all time high in Diesel products to other countries right now.


And can you name these buyers? Can you provide any kind of corroborating evidence to support your claim on their production history? This site itself uses the 9+ million bpd production figures for 2008 average Aramco production. Are they in on the 'conspiracy' as well? Matt Simmons does not have actual production data from Aramco. Neither do you. Again, I ask that we start using our heads to discover the truth - and not 'truthiness' kind.

Wasn't this JUST DISCUSSED a few days back on this very site?

Well yes and no doubt it will be discussed again. And whether there's a buyers strike or not doesn't change the fact that Gazprom cut supplies first.

And can you name these buyers? Can you provide any kind of corroborating evidence to support your claim on their production history?

The data is straight from the IEA's exports to OECD crude stream tracking and I've posted one illustrative chart elsewhere in the thread.

And there's no need even for conspiracies. Saudi Arabia doesn't publish official figures - everything you see is someone's guess - unlike the OECD import data.

Joules, in a sidebar of this New York Times article from two years ago Dr. Nansen G. Saleri, head or reservoir management for Saudi Aramco, says that he thinks Saudi has 900 billion barrels of recoverable reserves. Oil Innovations Pump New Life Into Old Wells

The moral of this story is; When a Saudi official speaks of Aramco production or reserves we know they are grossly exaggerating. So when Amin Al-Nasser, Aramco's senior vice president of exploration and production, (not an engineering chief as you state), says:

If I needed more production I could go to Ghawar and boost it to 10 million barrels a day",

we know to take it with a huge handful of salt. (Not just a pinch.) ;-)

Ron P.

Thanks for correcting. In the Forbes article, they quoted Amin Al-Nasser, Aramco's senior vice president of exploration as well as Abdullah Al-Naim, vice president of petroleum engineering. The latter was referred to generically as "the engineering chief".

Regardless of who said the "Ghawar 10 mbpd" quip, it's still ridiculous.

Of course these same people always report real production numbers ?

The single most important aspect of peak oil is to realize that all our data sources will initially become increasingly corrupt and distorted at first.

We will see exactly the same thing happening in the oil industry as is happening in the financial world its the same people. Information sources that normally produced correct data will become distorted other that had no easy way to verify the data will produce any number they want.

Counting tankers although a reasonable overall control simply has to many variables to trust initially.
Eventually of course over time production will be down far enough that the absolute drop in tanker traffic will make the decline obvious.

But if you wish to hide a 2mbd shortfall in production from tanker traffic watchers and you own your own large fleet of tankers.


Saudi Aramco owns and operates the world's second largest tanker fleet to help transport its crude oil production, which amounted to 3.15 billion barrels in 2004.

Its trivial to send your own tankers out partially loaded esp if they normally go to multiple destinations.
Hell you can even increase tanker traffic above normal if they go partially loaded and make shorter trips so the tanker watchers actually see a increase in traffic.

One of the few areas thats difficult to manipulate is price and price says somewhere in the world a lot of oil was going missing.

To seriously manipulate the price of oil if production is declining rapidly you would have to do something drastic like crash the worlds economy.

But thats ridiculous right ?

Be very very careful about what you take as fact right now. In time of course the truth will be impossible to hide but at the moment whatever the real situation is its currently impossible to discern. As we go through 2009 however I expect that our real situation will become obvious. It could prove I'm completely and utterly wrong

or not.

"Oil prices will indeed soar and everyone will feel the economic pain from a crashing global economy—but few will look to geology as an explanation. Instead, they will point to the obvious proximate causes—attacks and counterattacks disrupting oil shipments, with speculators pushing prices even higher than they would otherwise go.

We have many reasons to hope that events are not spinning out of control."

Which is why I've said from the getgo that every oil production/discovery watershed is immediately reflected
in SocioEconomic Current Events.

Like a Mirror. It's no accident that Oil peaked in May 05
and Arkansas lumber mills closed en masse that summer.

Like this:

Mexico City shuts off main water pipeline
The Associated Press - ‎17 hours ago‎
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico City has turned off the tap to millions of residents because water reserves have reached historic lows. The two-day shutdown of a ...
Taps off for two million in water-starved Mexico City AFP
Mexico City shuts down water supply ABC Online
Mexico City without water for 36 hours Radio Netherlands
BBC News

While this:

Pemex Trims Estimate for Cantarell's 2009 Oil Output - Commodities
Mar 3, 2009 ... which is set to produce an average of 700000 barrels per day

And this from February 2006 via Tom Whipple:

An energy consultant in Mexico City published parts of the study and later the Wall Street Journal got to examine the document. It seems there is only 825 feet between the gas cap over the oil and the water that is pushing into Cantarell from the bottom. This distance is closing at between 250 and 360 feet per year.

The more pessimistic of the study's scenarios have Cantarell's production dropping from 2 million b/d to 875 thousand barrels a day by the end of next year and 520 thousand barrels a day by the end of 2008.

PEMEX, while refusing to release the study comments the pessimistic scenarios will only happen if they do nothing and they are taking aggressive steps to mitigate the situation."

That NYT article isn't long on surprises - the innovations detailed were brought into play over a decade ago. About the only thing the Saudis are employing which might be a real game changer is MRCs with intelligent completions, which could ostensibly shut off laterals as the water encroaches, staving off high water cuts until the pay is almost entirely exhausted. I've always been interested in details of how successful this technology has been in non-OPEC countries, perhaps you have some data from SPE papers Joules?

If you go to spe.org and search through their abstracts (with the organization as Saudi Aramco), you can get a flavor of what they are trying. MRCs aren't always the most cost-effective approach. Khurais, for example, is being developed with single horizontals and electric pumps. They are trying different methods of drilling which are less damaging to the nearby rock permeability, and also relying on 3D seismic maps and logging while drilling to optimally steer the drillbits. I don't know if SA is doing it anywhere yet, but casing-while-drilling is something that might help drill horizontals in their sandstone reservoirs.

Thanks for that info, Joules, I'll do some parsing at the spe site. I thought what Khurais needed in the Hanifa was increased permeability? But not too much.

An article here about the state-in-the-art of oilfield tech would be welcome, albeit it would undoubtedly be a magnet for dismissive commentary too, not without reason of course.

The vast majority of Khurais oil is in the Arab-D reservoir (same as Ghawar), and the permeability and fracturing problems are similar to the Haradh area (where MRC wells were used exclusively in the very south). That's why the well choice for Khurais is curious.

Ah, I see in your paper on Khurais:

Achieving 1.2 million barrels per day from 168 producers requires an average well productivity of 7142 bpd. By comparison, the single-lateral horizontals in the Haradh II increment reportedly only provide about 3000 bpd of production.

Aramco has recently stated they're finished with the drilling. Have they ever stated what proportion will be derived from the separate formations, including Fadhili? Magically increasing ninefold the output from the Arab-D alone seems a bit improbable - even Ekofisk didn't achieve numbers like that after God conveniently subsided the sea floor.

It's not magic. Khurais was never under water injection, and so the pressure declined to much. They tried some things in vain, but decided to wait for better ideas. They finally think they have some.

Similarly, the Haradh part of Ghawar was a waste of time before water injection and questionable after that with only vertical wells.

Looking at the relative sizes of the Arab-D and the Hanifa in Abqaiq (another field where the two reservoirs are connected by fractures), I would say the proportion in Khurais is probably similar:


I've never seen any data on Fadhili, but they've drilled it yet never tried to produce it before. There has been not mention of it WRT to the current project.

I see that Cantarell went from ca. 1.2 mb/d to 2.1 mb/d over the course of 6 years - before promptly beginning the crash we've seen. Graph from Laherrère: Oil and gas: what future? (pdf) 'Course that's a different beast in so many ways, but it stands out in that document as exceptional short-term results. East Texas didn't seem to get as much of a boost, but of course it was the victim of all that unrestrained drilling.

What's a typical gain from waterflooding, anyway? I'm reading Downey's book Oil 101 and perhaps will have the answer when I get to the EOR chapter.

It's all about maintaining the pressure. In my Khurais article, look at what the pressure did while it was being produced. That was not sustainable. Using gas assist, they could do a bit more, though. If they maintained the field at near the original aquifer pressure with water injection, and then drilled a lot of horizontal wells (1-2 km or more of well contact vs. 200 feet for vertical), its possible to get a lot more sustained production. We might find out, or we might just end up arguing about whether they are being truthful or not.

"It's all about maintaining the pressure"

i certainly don't dispute your statement, however i would modify that statement to "don't allow the pressure to deplete below the bubble point pressure in any reservoir that will develope a mobile gas saturation (volatile oil, even mildly volatile oil)"

i am familiar with dozens of fields which contain essentially dead oil(low gas oil ratio) that have been depleted prior to waterflooding with no adverse effects.

and here is a bombshell: ghawar probably contains volatile oil(vo), but because reservoir pressure has been more or less maintained, the effects of vo haven't been evident. khurais may be a fine example of depleting a vo reservoir.

and sadly, most us oil fields without an active water drive have been depleted prior to waterflooding. the uber-capitalists have shot themselves in the foot with rule of capture and pv economics.

the bakken in nd we have heard so much about contains a vo, being developed by uber-capitalists of the missouri river bad lands. hell, these uber-capitalists even think that flaring the gas is an effective reservoir management program.

opinionated ? moi ? nooooooooooooo not moi.

addendum:(from dictionary.com)

Über or ueber comes from the German language. It is a cognate of both Latin super and Greek ὑπέρ (hyper), as well as English over.
The term in English
The crossover of the term "über" from German into English goes back to the work of German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. In 1883, Nietzsche coined the term "übermensch" to describe the higher state to which he felt men might aspire. The term was brought into English by George Bernard Shaw in the title to his 1903 play Man and Superman. During his rise to power, Adolf Hitler bastardized Nietzsche's term, using it in his descriptions of an Arian master race. It was in this context that American Jewish comic book creator Jerry Siegel encountered the term and conceived the 1933 story "The Reign of Superman," in which "Superman" is "an evil mastermind with advanced mental powers. Throughout the following decade, Seigel recast Superman into the iconic American hero he subsequently became. It is through this association with Superman the hero that the term "über" carries much of its English sense implying irresistability or invincibility.

where the hell is my umlaut ?

Interesting I dug around a bit seeing if I could find support for Ghawar being above 2-3 mbd.

Here is what I found.




Now assuming that the Saudi's decided to primarly export Arab Light and ultra light and taking into account some known expansions nothing in this data seems to sugggest that Ghawar production is not in the 2-3mbd range. In fact assuming some stats on some fields 2mbd is actually quite reasonable.

Wish this data extended further back :)


You can get the data further back by downloading the archived tables at http://omrpublic.iea.org/tablearchivesearchres.asp?select5=%25&Submit222...

I really wish they would just make this data available in spreadsheet form (anyone know if you get access to downloadable data with the subscription service?) as typing in mounds of data from multiple PDFs isn't much fun. Intend experimenting with PDF to text/html conversion to make it easier to import the data.

[Edit - Just tried this and it works fairly well]

Here's Saudi exports to OECD countries by grade plus totals over the last decade

Light exports to OECD peaked in 2002 at 2.84 mb/d
Total exports to OECD peaked in 2003 at 4.65 mb/d

Well I'd suggest this is good enough.

And it fits the pricing issues Saudi Arabia peaked a while ago.

Given they have made aggressive use of MRC wells I think we can expect spectacular decline rates starting last year at the latest.

And as far as Saudi Arabia growing its internal consumption 50% since 2000 well thats simply BS.
Did Saudi Arabia change its internal definition of oil to boe since 2000 almost certainly.

Given what you posted KSA's peak is hidden in plain sight.

And I continue to assert that the new "peak" in 2008 was a almost complete fabrication.
I think there was a surge in Arab Light from pulling down storage but thats about it.
Probably only about 50 million barrels which is a lot of oil on one hand but compared to global production also not a tremendous amount.

I'm working on some more charts from the IEA data. Here's another interesting one.

OECD Total Oil Imports - Source IEA


Note the BDI is collapsing again. When will the Ozzies shut
their Aluminum Smelters?

Now that is some of the BEST news I've seen here lately.

Hopefully it will collapse completely later this month when the Criminals release the secret results of the "Top Thecret Bank ThStress Tethst."


Probably this has been posted on TOD before..but financial sense posted a Matt Simmons video...where he " details how pricing chaos, unwavering demand, and a rusty infrastructure heap trouble onto the likelihood of peak oil supply. ". Using the "best data available" he attempts to debunk the falling demand for oil argument.



Non-OPEC output now falls from 50.6 mb/d in 2008 to 50.3 mb/d in 2009.

From the IEA OMR March 2009 report, non-OPEC liquids production was 50.7 mbd in 2007 which appears to be the peak production year for non-OPEC. 2009 is now 0.4 mbd less than 2007, according to the IEA. The EIA STEO is currently showing a drop of 0.3 mbd from 2007 to 2009 for non-OPEC.

My forecast below, using EIA data which is less than IEA due to treatment of processing gains and different conversion factors, shows that there is a similar drop of 0.5 mbd from 2007 to 2009.

click to enlarge

Who will be first in stating that non-OPEC liquids production probably peaked in 2007, the EIA or the IEA?

For more info about declining world oil production please refer to my stories below.

Non OPEC-12 Oil Production Peaked in 2004, Feb 23, 2009

World Oil Production Peaked in 2008, Mar 17, 2009

Fires scorch Southwest, burning homes and one entire town

(CNN) -- Numerous wildfires were roaring Thursday through parts of Oklahoma and Texas, engulfing one entire town and searing neighborhoods including one in Oklahoma City. Hurricane-force winds continued to kick the flames higher.

The fires had engulfed so many miles of turf, and flying embers had sparked in so many different places, that hours after the first blazes were reported Thursday morning, safety officials still weren't sure how many fires they were facing.

Someone at PeakOil.com had to leave his home yesterday because of these fires. He said the cops evacuated them, and did not give them time to bring anything except their pets.

Good reason to have a "bug out bag," even if you don't buy into a "Mad Max" type peak oil future.

And not 100 miles away we got an inch+ of rain and
a death dealing Tornado in Mena AR.

Water Cut In Mexican Capital:

Eric Hobsbawm has a nice article on the Guardian website today:

New Labour since 1997 swallowed the ideology, or rather the theology, of global free-market fundamentalism whole. Britain deregulated its markets, sold its industries to the highest bidder, stopped making things to export (unlike Germany, France and Switzerland) and put its money on becoming the global centre of financial services and therefore a paradise for zillionaire money-launderers. That is why the impact of the world crisis on the pound and the British economy today is likely to be more catastrophic than on any other major western economy - and full recovery may well be harder.

You may say that's all over now. We're free to return to the mixed economy. The old toolbox of Labour is available again - everything up to nationalisation - so let's just go and use the tools once again, which Labour should never have put away. But that suggests we know what to do with them. We don't. For one thing, we don't know how to overcome the present crisis. None of the world's governments, central banks or international financial institutions know: they are all like a blind man trying to get out of a maze by tapping the walls with different kinds of sticks in the hope of finding the way out. For another, we underestimate how addicted governments and decision-makers still are to the free-market snorts that have made them feel so good for decades. Have we really got away from the assumption that private profit-making enterprise is always a better, because more efficient, way of doing things? That business organisation and accountancy should be the model even for public service, education and research? That the growing chasm between the super-rich and the rest doesn't matter that much, so long as everybody else (except the minority of the poor) is getting a bit better off? That what a country needs is under all circumstances maximum economic growth and commercial competitiveness? I don't think so.


The test of a progressive policy is not private but public, not just rising income and consumption for individuals, but widening the opportunities and what Amartya Sen calls the "capabilities" of all through collective action. But that means, it must mean, public non-profit initiative, even if only in redistributing private accumulation. Public decisions aimed at collective social improvement from which all human lives should gain. That is the basis of progressive policy - not maximising economic growth and personal incomes. Nowhere will this be more important than in tackling the greatest problem facing us this century, the environmental crisis. Whatever ideological logo we choose for it, it will mean a major shift away from the free market and towards public action, a bigger shift than the British government has yet envisaged. And, given the acuteness of the economic crisis, probably a fairly rapid shift. Time is not on our side.


While not a doomer, Hobsbawm does see, better than most establishment historians, the depth of the crisis. But I think that, as a lifelong Marxist, he is still overly optimistic about the capacity of mankind to do the right thing...

There's a story today on the NYT which points to one of the leading members of the denialist camp, who has started his own web site.

Dissenter on Warming Expands His Campaign

One wonders how many new falsehoods will be presented there, now that Morano isn't working for the Government anymore. Things were bad enough when Morano was working for Inhofe...

E. Swanson

Someone really needs to start a ACC denier investment scheme, buying up land in Tuvalu and Florida. We need to force the ignorati to put their money where their mouth is.

Sell me houses at 5x current rents and I'd happily purchase the illuminati's homes.

I'll bet the illumaniti wouldn't feel particularly enthusiastic about such a generous offer for their "worthless" property though. They would call me ignorant, but not for the reason you suggest.

US recession over by September, say economists

The US recession will end in September, economists have predicted in the latest Wall Street Journal forecasting survey.

However, the majority of the 54 economists who took part in the monthly survey noted that despite the US economy coming out of recession in 2009, it will not have recovered sufficiently to effect a fall in unemployment levels until the second half of 2010.

So the recession will be over in September but unemployment will not even stop dropping until a year later. Somehow that just don't make sense.

Note, this story is all over the news. Just go to http://news.google.com/ and type recession over into the search box to get more of them. But they all referr back to the Wall Street Journal article which is behind a pay wall.

Ron P.

WSJ says even with 4% growth it would take 6 years to get back to 5% unemployment. And that's after the 2010 projected peak.

Gross domestic product was predicted to contract in the first and second quarters of this year by 5.0% and 1.8%, respectively, on a seasonally adjusted annualized rate. A return to growth -- a modest 0.4% -- isn't expected until the third quarter. In the fourth quarter of 2008, the most recent period for which data are available, the economy contracted 6.3%.

The article goes on to say "problems in the credit markets" is the biggest risk to recovery.

Darwinian -

If indeed the recession may be over by September, the question that begs to be answered is: OVER FOR WHOM?

Unemployment is a lagging indicator. This is well studied.

"Unemployment is a lagging indicator. This is well studied."

The Unemployment Rate was the first one manipulated.
(Moreover, continued claims may be underestimated as workers who are unemployed for over 26 weeks (amid weak hiring prospects) and exhaust their benefits are not counted in the data)

Apart from the fact that the BLS data is subject to large revisions, there has been much criticism of the BLS methodology and its inaccuracy in predicting business cycles due to which employment numbers would indicate a recession only after it has begun. For firms not covered under the survey, BLS estimates how many firms (jobs) come into business and go out of business each month (called the birth/death model). But this model often overestimates the former and underestimates the latter during an economic slowdown, thus missing the turning point in business cycles. In fact, in the recent months, BLS has been overestimating job creation in the weakening sectors like construction, leisure and hospitality, finance and thus underestimating the extent of job losses.

Why even publish the rates? To get a head's up on when the riots start?

Private sector employment started slowing in 2007 and turned negative in Dec 2007 losing 665,000 jobs.

Dec 2007, when the Jobless Recession turned into Depression.

Usually during a recession, unemployment remains high even after economies start to recover. There is a lag. This is has been studied by many people and is well known. That is the only point I was making.

While this has certainly been true for most economic downturns, it doesn't have to be that way.

Given that lax consumer spending (due to uncertainty regarding employment or lost employment) is a major factor this time it may follow or lead. We really won't know until it's over.

From Mish

Close Look at the Accelerating Rate of Unemployment

The article does not suggest unemployment - U-3 or even U-6 - is other than a trailing indicator however it does introduce some ideas about rates of accelleration in unemployment and suggests "Consumer Sentiment vs. Unemployment" as a leading or coincident indicator. See the chart.

The above chart shows U-3 unemployment vs. the consumer conference board survey of how hard it is to find jobs. The year over year survey results suggests consumers believe jobs are increasingly hard to get.

Note that the survey is a leading or coincident indicator while unemployment itself is a lagging indicator. This portends more job weakness for quite some time even after the peak in "hard to find" sentiment is reached.

Unemployment (U-6) is well on its way to 20%. These are depression conditions.

Adding it all up

Wage and salary declines (due to freezes and job losses): ~$30 billion/month
Dividend hits: ~$75 billion/quarter or $25 billion/month
Credit declines: ~$7 billion/month (if February results repeated).
Together we are in the vicinity or $60 billion per month in reduced money or credit, which, if translated directly into reduced economic activity, would be a nearly 5% decline in US GDP this year.
Of course, any propensity towards additional saving would only compound the amount of decline in GDP, and the rate of personal savings is up quite a bit on a year over year basis.

I have not yet seen any change in this sort of fundamental data that would indicate that a bottom is in, or that the recovery has begun yet.

I cling to the antiquated notion that the economy consists of real people spending either real money or using credit.

The stock market seems to differ with this view and appears to me to be overly anxious to return to “how things used to be,” without taking into account the possibility that things are now different that they used to be.

At least, that's how I see it.

The Stock Market is 6 Standard Deviations away from
Volume Weighted Average Price.

Here's the $$$ Quote from Tyler :


"The VWAP of the SPY through yesterday indicated that the real price of the S&P 500 would be roughly 60 points lower, or about 782, if the low volume marginal transactions had been netted out. And yet the market keeps on rising. This is an additional data point demonstrating that the equity market has reached a point where the transactions on the margin are all that matter as the core volume/liquidity providers slowly disappear one by one through ongoing deleveraging.

Unfortunately for them, this is not a sustainable condition."



That Unemployment is not the sin quo non of "Recovery"
is what I think the problem is here.

See- Layoffs as a Leading Indicator:

Search Results

A New Leading Indicator: Workers Recently Laid Off
Layoff rates have long been used as leading indicators in business cycle analysis. The layoff rate in manufacturing was initially selected as a leading ...

www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&se=gglsc&d=5001684793 - Similar pages -

by GH Moore - 1986 - All 4 versions

"Recently, we observed that a better leading indicator could be obtained from data on recent "job losers on layoff,' rather than all workers on layoff. The recent jobless consist of those who wer..."

Factory Orders Rise, Layoffs Fall -- Seeking Alpha
The corporate layoff metric is reported far less albeit no doubt precedes initial claims as a leading indicator of what is happening with ...

www.seekingalpha.com/article/129336-factory-orders-rise-layoffs-fall - 83k - Cached - Similar pages -

There may be a bounce, but I think it'll be a sucker's rally.

Open house, anyone? 1 in 9 homes sit empty

From Maine to Hawaii, millions of new McMansions, post-World War II bungalows, modern downtown lofts, exurban town homes and inner-city row houses sit empty. This unprecedented glut of vacant homes — one in nine homes across the USA, according to the Census Bureau — will change the real estate landscape for years.

Even if peak oil is not a factor, it will take years to work through this bubble.

1 in 9 houses empty.
1 in 10 (more or less) people unemployed.

How long before we have 1 in 10 stores empty, factories shuttered, and farms unplanted?

The WSJ article said it would take 6 years of 4% growth to get unemployment back down to 5%. I imagine housing will take longer that that. Or maybe they'll track together, as we have yet to see full collapse of housing prices or wages yet.

With energy shortages, it could well take decades to reach a new status quo with solid employment and housing, even at a lower overall level.

Businessmen I talk to are in hunker-down mode, but believe things will get better in the second half. Their credit situation seems to be improving, for those with solid financials. For those with cash-flow problems it's pretty bad.

The WSJ article said it would take 6 years of 4% growth to get unemployment back down to 5%.

And therein lies the problem. (They are talking about growth in the GDP of course.) That compounds to almost 27% growth in six years. With petroleum production never growing above the 2005-2008 plateau, that is an impossible task. And I expect that when OPEC gets back to full production, if they ever do, then world production will be nowhere close to the old plateau levels. Non-OPEC production is falling fast and several OPEC nations are well past their peak.

Ron P.

It's not impossible with their fuzzy math. All they have to do is to inflate the heck out of everything while saying inflation is under "control"....

Speaking of farms unplanted one of the large farm operators(probably planted several thousand acres last year) near me has had a number of rent checks for farmland returned this week. The check writer is involved in a forced liquidation which relates to an Ethanol plant bankrupcy.

Some checks did clear. The question in my mind is whether there are funds available to actually plant the land for which the checks cleared.

Interesting times.

We're getting close, at least with stores.

Vacancies at U.S. Retail Centers Hit 10-Year High, Reis Says

The vacancy rate at neighborhood and community shopping centers rose to 9.5 percent from 8.9 percent the previous quarter and 7.7 percent a year ago, according to Reis. Shopping centers are typically anchored by a grocery or drug store.

The second largest shopping center in Sonoma county has a 25% vacancy rate and one of the three "anchors" (Gottshalks) just went into liquidation.

More squatters call foreclosures home

Anita Beaty, executive director of the Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless, said her group had been looking into asking banks to give it abandoned buildings to renovate and occupy legally. Ms. Honkala, who was a squatter in the 1980s, said the biggest difference now was that the neighbors were often more supportive. “People who used to say, ‘That’s breaking the law,’ now that they’re living on a block with three or four empty houses, they’re very interested in helping out, bringing over mattresses or food for the families,” she said.

I thought it was interesting how organized some of these squatters groups are, and how much competition there is for the empty homes. In some of the cases, the squatters groups have new keys made, and have the squatters sign up for utilities.

From the article:

“We had a move-in that we were going to do one day at noon,” he said. “At 10 o’clock in the morning, I went over to the house just to make sure everything was O.K., and squatters took over our squat. Then we went to another place nearby, and squatters were in that place also.”

Mr. Rameau said his group differed from ad hoc squatters by operating openly, screening potential residents for mental illness and drug addiction, and requiring that they earn “sweat equity” by cleaning or doing repairs around the house and that they keep up with the utility bills.

This is not too far removed from what JHK described, at least in regard to abandoned real estate, in "World made by hand."

I am in favor of this squatting plan for Optimal Overshoot Decline.

This is much better than poorly planned Shruburbs with no O-NPK recycling scheme resulting in high rates of sickness, disease, and violence. Recall that dispensing bottled water is magnitudes more expensive than letting these people have access to potable tapwater. Hopefully, 0bama will decide to ramp strategic reserves of bicycles and wheelbarrows so these squatters can get busy changing lawns and golf courses into gardens and compost pits.

Does anyone know if the 1930s rich people living besides NYC's Central Park allowed the squatters in the Hoovervilles free access to their tapwater and sewage system? I can't imagine them wanting the poor to be forced to eat the yellow snow..

Photos of bad shacks in NYC's Central Park

I seem to recall Friedman at the Times or someone like that was regularly giving out six-month predictions on when we would start to see Iraq get stabilized.

Just far enough away to be hopeful, believable and forgettable.


Those units of time are referred to as Friedman Units as in "The recession will end in one Friedman Unit." Whenever one gets close to the end of a Friedman you find the expected outcome has dropped away over the horizon and is another Friedman away.

A similar phenomenon ise known to exist in deserts, where it is known as a "mirage". Very similar, these phenomena.

Couple of links from EB this morning...

Just 53% Say Capitalism Better Than Socialism

Only 53% of American adults believe capitalism is better than socialism.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 20% disagree and say socialism is better. Twenty-seven percent (27%) are not sure which is better.

Adults under 30 are essentially evenly divided: 37% prefer capitalism, 33% socialism, and 30% are undecided. Thirty-somethings are a bit more supportive of the free-enterprise approach with 49% for capitalism and 26% for socialism. Adults over 40 strongly favor capitalism, and just 13% of those older Americans believe socialism is better.

Commentary on this poll from Washington Monthly:

You just can't have an effective red scare with numbers like these.

In terms of interpreting these results, the numbers certainly aren't what I expected, and it's hard to know why respondents answered as they did. Perhaps "capitalism" lost some of its appeal when our economy collapsed. Maybe a lot of people heard the media connect Obama and "socialism," and since they like the president, they figure socialism can't be that bad. In a similar vein, if right-wing blowhards like Limbaugh keep screaming that socialism is manifestly evil, there may be some who assume the economic model must have merit.

But I was especially intrigued by the 27% who weren't sure which was better. Talk about a sign of the times -- more than one in four aren't quite sure whether capitalism or socialism is the superior system.

Leanan: They didn't stress it in the headline, but I thought this was the relevant part of the article:" It is interesting to compare the new results to an earlier survey in which 70% of Americans prefer a free-market economy. The fact that a “free-market economy” attracts substantially more support than “capitalism” may suggest some skepticism about whether capitalism in the United States today relies on free markets." IMO Americans are slowly awakening to the reality of widespread high level government corruption.

Wasn't capitalism a word invented by Marx to describe the market economy? Naturally it has derogatory overtones, and puts people off.

For me, "free markets" and "capitalism" are two entirely different beasts. Regardless of corruption, government or otherwise.

Capitalism requires growth. That is why usury (charging interest on a loan) was such a terrible sin in the steady-state economies of the ancient world. Capitalism also implies the existence of capitalists - people who don't produce anything, but live off people who do, by investing and other "money changing" activities.

Free markets do not require growth. A group of natives living alone on a Pacific island and trading fish and coconuts could have free markets but no growth, no interest, and hence, no capitalism.

Now, I'm not saying that I'm typical. Far from it. But I do think the term "capitalism" carries a connotation of capitalists - rich people who don't have to work - while "free market" doesn't.

And I think peak oil may well mean the end of capitalism. The end of free markets? Not likely.

Capitalism requires growth. That is why usury (charging interest on a loan) was such a terrible sin in the steady-state economies of the ancient world....

Free markets do not require growth...

Our system of economics requires growth but usury is only one of three reasons. Yes growth is required in order to pay interest on borrowed money but there are two other reasons. Two other reasons that were largely missing from civilizations a few hundred years ago.

The first of these two reasons is population growth. If the population grows then the economy must grow in order to produce new jobs for the growing population. The second of these other two reasons is technology. Technology advances producing more products from less labor. Just like the Luddites charged, technology puts people out of work. Growth is required in order to give people jobs that technology took away from them.

Only if there is no population growth and no advance in technology can a society thrive with no growth. Otherwise it collapses.

Ron P.

Population growth is very much part of economic growth. The pyramid scheme requires more people buying more stuff, every year. You need more people coming in at the bottom to support those in the middle and on top. Automation has reduced that need somewhat, but not eliminated it.

If not for that, jobs and population growth wouldn't be problems. Family size tends to drop below replacement level in industrialized countries, as we see in Japan, Italy...and in the US, were it not for immigration. A shrinking population needs fewer jobs, so automation isn't a problem, either. Why not just let the population shrink, and let automation fill the gap? Why push so hard for the cheap labor provided by immigration, legal and otherwise, if the problem is not enough jobs?

Because the pyramid scheme collapses when the base stops growing.

How about an income tax on the machines? People work and pay taxes. Machines work and ???

I suspect that what you want is a value added tax, such as is used in Europe.

E. Swanson

Now that you mention it, I guess a VAT is what I'm suggesting.

Population growth is very much part of economic growth. The pyramid scheme requires more people buying more stuff, every year.

True but you could have economic growth without population growth. Everyone could just get richer. But you cannot have population growth without economic growth unless everyone gets poorer. Everyone has a smaller slice of the pie every year if the population grows without economic growth.

It is like the Red Queen, the economy has to grow by about 2 percent per year for everyone just to stay in the same place. The world population grows by about 1.5 percent per year, interest on debt must be repaid and technology keeps putting people out of work. So about 2 to 2.5 percent growth is required just to stay in the same place. Thhat is, this is the growth required for everyone to have the same size slice of the pie every year.

The end of growth is the beginning of collapse.

Ron P.

True but you could have economic growth without population growth. Everyone could just get richer.

True in theory, but difficult in practice. The analogous situation would be a pyramid scheme where there are no new investors - the profits come from existing investors contributing more money. You would hit the wall quickly in that scenario.

It's probably even worse when you're talking economic growth. In the end, someone has to be at the bottom of the pyramid. Someone has to work. Some things cannot be automated.

But you cannot have population growth without economic growth unless everyone gets poorer. Everyone has a smaller slice of the pie every year if the population grows without economic growth.

Yup. This was often the case in our past, and I suspect it will be again in our future. At least as long as it's possible to increase the population.

Interesting, but considering the generally poor level of education and knowledge, I wonder how many of the respondents really know what capitalism and socialism mean.

I suspect a significant portion of the answers were knee-jerk reactions due to upbringing (likely pro-capitalism) or gut responses due to recent Wall St. shenanigans, i.e. anti-capitalism. IMO, it's more of a mood indicator, rather that any serious assessment of peoples ideologies.

Pragma ,
I agree that it seems no one is really thinking about the definitions of these terms.
50% of our income is taken by local, state and federal taxes, Social security "contributions" and sales tax from which we see steadily declining benefit.
Despite the overwhelming objection of the people trillions of $'s are committed to international investment banks with no oversight .
I submit that we have a Fascist system in which the fruits of the peoples labor are taken and used for the benefit of the merged government /corporate structure.
We should wish to have a socialist system where the fruits of the peoples labor are used for the benefit of the people.

be careful what you wish for.

imo, fascism is an accurate description. fascism coupled with fascist sponsored treasury looting.

imo, the evils of socialism and (uber/crony)-capitalism boil down to corruption.

A thought experiment:

Imagine an economy which is dominated by cooperatives. There are few, if any corporations, and the government does nothing except the usual government stuff.

So what do you call such an economy? Socialist, or Capitalist? The government doesn't own or operate any enterprises, so how can it be socialist? Most enterprises are not owned and operated by entrepreneurs or stockholders, so how can it be capitalist? Don't know? Well, it has to be SOMETHING, doesn't it?

What my little thought experiment exposes is the fallacy of our either/or construct of political economy. We assume (or more accurately, are led to assume)that "capitalism" and "socialism" are mutually exclusive categories, and that between the two of them they totally exhaust all possible arrangements of political economies. My position is that this is pure BS. There is actually a spectrum of possible arrangements of political economies, including some that have never even been tried. Most, and probably all, political economies are actually mixed economies. I very much doubt that there is any such thing as a pure, 100% "capitalist" economy; I am also quite certain that even in the most extreme days, Soviet Communism was not able to entirely extinguish all vestiges of the free market.

The only answer I could honestly give to this poll would be "none of the above". That would be the only answer that could be repeated in polite company, anyway.

If there is a free market where it is possible to establish new businesses and people can own money and assets I would call it capitalist and I would be happy to live in such an economy since cooperatives alongside corporations add a new dimension to the competition. I have little money and power and thus I depend on the economy and competition staying healthy so I dont get ripped off and can find work or business opportunities. If one business model dominates everything I get a risk of living in a society that solidifies and cant change when the world changes and that is usually bad.

Socialist, in that the means of production are owned collectively by the people.

These political labels are foolish, divisive and, frankly, useless to anyone attempting to create a useful sociopolitical structure. Same with political parties. But let's play with some definitions.

Socialist: A system in which some resources are shared and some are competed for, and wealth moves primarily in a downward flow.

Capitalist: A system in which few resources are shared, most are competed for, and wealth moves primarily in an upward flow.

Communist (as practiced): A few rule many and resources are allocated by the ruling few.

Communist (ideal): Shared work, shared resources.

Personally, I think Jamestown, had it not been destroyed and possibly absorbed, had it right: you work, you eat; you don't, you don't.

What we really need is what our mama's taught us all: share. No money, no credit, no usury, no profit, no corporations, no political parties. Just people sitting down and figuring out what is needed where and getting it done.

EDIT: Definitions for political parties.

Republican: Selfish idiot and closet socialist (for the wealthy).
Democrat: Slightly less selfish, more idealistic idiot and closet socialist (for the wealthy).
Independent: Disillusioned, slightly less idiotic idiot (mostly).
Libertarian: Idealistic capitalist idiot.
Communist: Idealistic collectivist idiot who has not quite realized, as practiced, communism is but a form of totalitarianism.
Socialist: idealistic, socialist idiot.
**I think I see a trend here...** Waht could it be? Ah! That party affiliation has jack squat to do with good citizenship and everything to do with money, power and control.

If you are going to keep all of those crappy institutions, then legislate the hell out of them. Limit usury to a very small percentage with no rule of 78, etc. A flat percent over a given period of time. But even that gets us into trouble: can't pay, what do you do? Won't pay? Fine. Punish them. Cast them out. Make them clean the toilets. Whatever. But the reality is, most people can't rather than won't. What do we do? If the lender needs nothing from the borrower? And what of growth?

OK, then perhaps we have a system of credit based on time. There are barter systems that do this. All activities are equal. Legal services to shoveling poo. You do something and get a time credit. You build up and use these credits in a coupled system. That is, if I use credits or get credits, it's to the system, not a person, per se. So, if I owe credits, I can work for anyone in the system. But you can't run a deficit. At least, not for long. The only problem with this is a resource-poor region.

Whatever. The crap we're doing now sure as hell isn't working.

The keys to a possible better future are almost certainly:

- localized
- small communities
- keep global internet (communication) alive
- keep **necessary** global commerce alive
- National governments limited to external issues, similar to that outlined in US Constitution
- One citizen, one vote
- no political parties: people align along issue lines in fluid groups; no power politics
- Legislature is advisory (more like experts rather than politicians); votes are all by referendum.
**** Hmmm... maybe you have to pass a test on the issues to be allowed to vote...****
- all elections paid by public funds with all candidates getting equal money
- elections limited to 6 - 8 weeks. (If you can't state your platform in 30 minutes, you have no business running, let alone 2 freakin years!) Name recognition? If you're spending your evenings talking with your family, friends and neighbors to solve issues, it won't matter. Spin won't be effective. Besides, spin = lying. You lie, you go to jail. Done. See below.
- liars (politicians) are prosecuted for fraud and treason; absolute truth in advertising
- taxes are determined solely by public referendum.

and more...

Ah... utopia...

Socialist, in that the means of production are owned collectively by the people.

Perhaps, but what I described is definitely not state socialist. That is what most people think of when they hear the word "socialist". I doubt that what I have described has been actually tried anywhere. I realize that some forms of idealistic Marxism (and maybe even Marx himself) envisioned something along these lines; neither the social democrats, nor the Leninists, nor the Maoists, nor the Trotskyites, nor any other significant variant, have continued that line of thought, though - they are all about state socialism in one form or another. I think that perhaps a different term, like "cooperativist", would be better, simply to distinguish it from state socialism.

IMO many don't realize or forget that there was a period after WW2 and up until about 1979 that the USA was an extremely socialist country. The combination of high marginal tax rates on high income earners and high employment rates for even unskilled labour combined to build the huge middle class that the government has worked on dismantling over the last 30 years. Circa 2009, by far the largest employer of the middle class is various levels of government in the USA and pseudo government agencies (Fannie and Freddie, etc.). The problem is that the tax base to fund these middle class government jobs is eroding very quickly.

Socialist, in that the means of production are owned collectively by the people.

Given that the number one product of the USA is dollars and that the government has taken over most of our banking system I'd suggest that we are socialists :)

The fact they chose to allow the immensely smart banking management to remain in place to serve the people should not detract from the peoples victory. We are now the proud owners of immensely valuable assets so valuable we refuse to sell them on the open market at any price.

Stalin would be proud of our socialist victory on our march to communism soon to end in the same glorious future experienced by our brothers in the Soviet Union.

the us govt acqired mega minerals in the "great" depression via reposession of land in states like wyoming. i believe the govt guaranteed loans on ag land and repossesed when ranchers and farmers "lost the farm". the land was resold with the govt retaining the minerals. wyoming is one state that allows severed minerals.

the govt then leases the minerals to oil and gas companies at royalty rates that,in some cases, amounts to corporate welfare. they do this to encourage developement, never mind that recovery of oil in place can suffer because of rule of capture (pro-developement) policies.

wyoming has a long and colorful history of looting of the treasury. teapot dome and salt creek for example.

I wonder what the story is behind this...

Silicon Valley phone, Internet service returned

Cell phone, Internet and landline service is back in Silicon Valley after one or more vandals apparently severed eight fiber-optic cables.

San Jose police said there was evidence that someone removed a manhole cover and cut four cables early Thursday. The incident wiped out phone and Internet service for thousands in the area.

Hours later, authorities in San Carlos reported that four cables there had also been cut.

I won't speculate on the "behind the story part", but I can tell you as a resident of the area that it really messed up communications, especially for Verizon customers in south Santa Clara county (Gilroy, Morgan Hill). The cables that were sabotaged belonged to AT&T, but were leased to Verizon.

Behind the story, maybe like MEND in Nigeria. The entire political economy has come unhinged and lost legitimacy. For example, above in thread, a recovery but unemployment will continue to grow for several additional Freidman units. Orwell would be proud. One wonders what MLK would have accomplished without the more radical elements of the Black Power movement. I suspect very little. It's only a matter of time before such "vandalism" becomes more critical. Note that Homeland Security, NYPD and even the Director of Intelligence consider homegrown terrorism more critical than imported. By homegrown terrorists, however, they don't mean McVeigh and angry white vigilantes, but earthmarines. After all, McVeigh was no threat to profit.

cfm in Gray, ME

Word has it this might be an inside job. The contract is expired and negotiations are on-going. A strike is possible.

Energy Export Databrowser

Some of you are already familiar with the Energy Export Databrowser and the charts it creates.

I just wanted to let TOD readers know that I have just completed a round of improvements that include the following:

  • better maps that show current country boundaries (post USSR)
  • additional groups of nations (e.g. Total Africa)
  • all energy resources from the BP Statistical Review -- coal, oil, gas, nuclear, hydro
  • each resource is available in multiple units (try "mtoe" for direct comparison)
  • you can use a fixed y-axis scale (for direct comparison)
  • interface and charts available in Deutsch, English, Español, Français, Italiano, Nederlands

As always, I encourage readers to explore the the available data. The whole point of the databrowser is to make it easier for folks to work with real data and to generate high quality graphics that answer users' questions.

There are many interesting stories that these charts have to tell. Here is one that surprised me:

In 1986 Italy produced 8.8 Terawatt-hours of electricity from nuclear power. In 1988 they produced none. What happened? ... Chernobyl. This is a case where an engineering accident in a foreign country had political ramifications in Italy that completely shut down Italian nuclear power.

That was certainly a Black Swan event the Italian nuclear engineers couldn't have forseen. (See the NEA Italy page for full details.)

As always, comments and suggestions are welcome.

Happy exploring!

-- Jon

Your program is really "neat". Thanks!

Yes, I second Gail here. Very easy to get a fast idea on the status / history for a particular land and more . Thanks Jonathan.

this is probably old news.

"Iraq Mulls Restoring Pre-War Russian Contracts"


the nyse is closed today, good friday, what a bunch of whimps.

Favoritism to a New Testament, Christian-based society. A little discriminatory towards all the atheist, agnostic, paganish, Jewish, and muslim traders here in the US, don't ya think?

Public schools are off too.

Not me.

Being closed today also helped carry through all the "good" news that came out Thursday through Easter weekend. Any bets on all the "bad" earnings news that hits next week?

Maybe you should move to Seattle, where the public library is closed this Sunday due to "Historically Low Usage".

Colleges are suffering from a triple whammy. Their endowments are tanking, due to the financial crisis, their donors aren't donating as much, and their students need more financial aid.

Hard times on campus - Even elite colleges can't escape the impact of the economic slump.

One solution: becoming less "need-blind," and admitting students on the basis of their ability to pay:

Paying in Full as the Ticket Into Colleges

Facing fallen endowments and needier students, many colleges are looking more favorably on wealthier applicants as they make their admissions decisions this year.

I am attempting to send my first child to college next year...room/board + tuition = 15k. gulp! And I am told this is inexpensive comparatively.

I wonder how far we are from community colleges having waiting lists, while expensive schools have plenty of openings.

Students are still coming, at least to the low-priced schools. If jobs aren't available, school seems like a good bet. Once loan funds stop coming, this will come to a halt.

Hello TODers,

Kudos to Bart's EB for this O-NPK article:

Manure More Precious Than Gold
by Gene Logsdon

..So precious was manure that Chinese farmers stored it in burglar-proof containers.
Yep, when the coming hard times inevitably hit: who do you think will come back with more food after trading with a local farmer or gardener?

A. A person wheelbarrowing I-NPK and/or O-NPK to the veggie and fruit fields.

B. A person lugging a big screen HDTV.

Have you hugged your bag of NPK today? We are evolved to walk everywhere plus sit in the nightly darkness, but we can't do starvation.

The real hunger crisis

..Ironically, most of the world's hungry people are farmers who produce food for a living. More than 60 percent of all Africans, for example, work in the countryside, growing crops and herding animals, and earning less than $1 a day. These farmers' crop yields are only about 20 percent as high as in Europe and the United States because they lack access to all the basic necessities for productive farming: improved seeds, fertilizer, water, electrical power, education, and rural roads to connect them to markets..
Will the USA be adequately prepared with massive O-NPK recycling when we can no longer postPeak afford to import to the final topsoil square foot the I-NPK we need?

Recall from prior links that overland transport of I-NPK can jack the price up 6 times from the imported sea-level price.

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

BTW speaking of hauling [or storing] I-NPK; in looking to buy some i-npk i found out that bagged is 60% filler!!!

Hello Creg,

That % is about normal: you don't just buy a forty pound, combined bag of pure Nitrogen gas, pure Phosphorus metal, and pure Potassium metal. You would have a hell of a risk of a huge fire and explosion as pure P & K react vigorously with air or water. Remember: the bomb and ammo industries use lots of NPKS for their products.

Please read this link, then search for more NPK ratio info:

Definition of NPK ratio:

This term refers to the ratio of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) in fertilizers.

It is always expressed as N-P-K. For example, a fertilizer labeled as 24-6-6 has 24% nitrogen, 6% phosphorus, and 6% potassium.

In this example, the remaining 64% of the fertilizer is comprised of inert matter.
The filler is for your protection and to help the plant's uptake through its root system. Your toothpaste has [P]hosphorus in it. I doubt if you would want to 'brush' your teeth by applying pure P:

..In addition, exposure to the [phosphorus] vapours gave match workers a necrosis of the bones of the jaw, the infamous "phossy jaw."
EDIT: image of phossy jaw


well the local feed supply folks will sell me a 'ton' yet it will weigh about 600 lbs.- a point they went over with me ahead of time. i can hug that a lot better than the 2000 lbs.

folks usually rent a buggy to haul & spread. i've gotten it oked to funnel it into 1-2 55 gal drums. this is 10-10-10. my understanding is the higher % is the dangerous, sign here as u buy it stuff.

i scanned u'r links, but didn't see the info needed- but thanks anyway. i'll research more.

btw totoneila i don't think u fully understand the 'filler' , 100% , issue. obviously i know i'm not buying a bag with a gas in it; u seemed condescending.

obviously the feed store is saying i am purchasing a ton's bagged equivalent. i'm interested in folks knowing the practical issues re cost, storage, safety, hauling, etc.

so is the filler[?] there for 'safety' or to keep folks that are not spreading with a 'buggy' from burning their gardens; or both.

a good day to me is when i can get a load of o-npk. i've been teased for low expectations. let'em read gene logsdon or pay the $10 a scoop around here for o-npk.

Hello Creg,

My intent was not to be condescending. I am sorry you thought it might be. I was replying under the assumption that you were a newbie to the NPK ratio, and what goes into the chem-formulation of the many different types of I-NPK; I was trying to be educational.

Maybe it is just semantics, but I am not understanding why you are only getting 600 lbs total if you are paying for a full 2,000 lbs of 10-10-10. Have you checked with other supply stores?

Comparing fertilizer materials

..For example, 100 pounds of a 10-30-10 fertilizer contains 10 pounds of N, 30 pounds of P2O5, and 10 pounds of K2O, whereas 100 pounds of a 7-21-7 fertilizer contains 7 pounds of N, 21 pounds of P2O5, and 7 pounds of K2O. Both of these fertilizers have the same ratio (1-3-1) but different grades (10-30-10 versus 7-21-7).
If they are saying you are getting 200 lbs N, 200 lbs P, and 200 lbs K = 600 lbs included or embedded within your total 2,000 lbs purchase-->this makes sense if you are buying 10-10-10.

What sort of a crazy journalist gets M. Hubbert King, Alan Drake, and Robert Rapier all into the same column?


This kind:

Neal Rauhauser is the executive director of the Stranded Wind Initiative, a non-profit organization that finds uses for wind energy in rural areas that lack power transmission lines. More information can be found at http://strandedwind.org.

Hello SCT,

Well Done--I am pulling for your Stranded Wind Initiative to be a hopeful mitigation along with Alan's RR & TOD ideas.

Got a full plate, bud ?

Any time to follow up on the IA ammonia plants ?

Enjoy the cheap petrol, while it lasts

In the IEA World Energy Outlook, it is estimated that the oil well decline rate is running at about 6.7 per cent. It is estimated that natural decline rates (without any capital spending to maximise production) would run at 9 per cent.

If current world C+C production is around 74 million bpd, a 6.7% yearly decline rate works out to a decline of around 5 million bpd per year. Does anyone here know if this decline rate is compensated by new oil production comming on line? Are we currently gaining or losing production capacity???

We are gaining and losing production capacity.

Since we have a cumulative shortfall between what we would have produced at the 2005 rate and what we actually produced through 2008, I think that 2005 was the effective C+C peak, or probably more accurately the start of a four year plateau. I suspect that the decline in demand is presently obscuring an accelerating decline in production, off the plateau, but time will tell.

I suspect that the decline in demand is presently obscuring an accelerating decline in production, off the plateau, but time will tell.

So nobody (except maybe the Saudis) knows whether we're gaining or losing production capacity?! You would think that there would be some hard numbers available somewhere that the public could peruse.

According to the EIA December world C+C production was 72,787,000 barrels per day. OPEC is down about 2 mb/d since then so current C+C production is likely somewhere around 71 mb/d. You are off only about 3 million bp/d. Non-OPEC was production was down in March but I think up slightly in January and/or February. So as of now they are flat on the year but expected to drop at least 300 kb/d by the end of the year.

"Are we gaining or losing production capacity???" That is the 64 thousand dollar capacity. There is no doubt that non-OPEC is losing capacity. They will be down about 1 million barrels per day by the end of the year as compared to their peak year of 2004. The largest drop was in 2008. So the question is; what is OPEC doing? Even though Saudi may, or may not be, gaining capacity, I think there is no doubt that most of OPEC is losing production capacity.

Ron P.

Latest figures from Statistics Canada yesterday show Canada's national unemployment rate is 8% (mostly because of Ontario's auto plants) and Alberta's is 5.8%. The 7-Eleven index (help-wanted signs in Calgary convenience stores) has very few signs posted outside the stores, and are now offering $9.50/hr but no retention bonus, down from $11 plus bonus last summer.

My balanced mutual fund is down 30% because of its stocks. My oil royalties (from mineral rights) and private-equity junior pete preferred shares (8% from conventional wells) are about the same as summer 2008 before the Panic of 2008 began. Calgary realtors are hyping houses as "Now is the time to buy!", but six infill units within one block of my house (in a desireable inner-city neighbourhood) are still sitting unsold since they were completed in summer 2008. My 1950s bungalow, which I paid off in 1997, is only one of two occupied houses on the avenue.

Now this is sleazy...

Did Chase pull a credit card bait and switch?

Last November, Chase notified about 400,000 people with these low interest cards their minimum monthly payment would more than double and a $10 monthly service fee would be added.

“I have never seen a credit card practice this abusive,” says Joe Ridout with Consumer Action, the San Francisco-based advocacy group. “The people who accepted this offer were those who really read the fine print. They understood the fine print. Then Chase went and erased the fine print and wrote some new fine print that was very advantageous to the bank and lets them gouge their cardholders.”

i had Chase change the terms on a 0% interest 1 yr.; that included a transfer during that time. when i went to make the transfer the lady said it had to be approved.

i confronted her that was a change in the offer, & she said due to the economy they were having to approve these. i said no thanks then for the transfer, but i had/have used the 0% on charges. hope i don't get some change on that.

In some (most?) areas they can't surprise you with changes, you have to be given the ability to refuse the change in terms.

Recession Anxiety Seeps Into Everyday Lives

Many seeking help are fearful, not actually incurring economic difficulty, said Joseph Ojile, founder of Clayton Sleep Institute in St. Louis, where patients increased 25 percent since October.

Steven Craig, a psychologist in Birmingham, Mich., said “people of less means” were handling some of this better because “their identity is not as caught up in how much money they have.”

Uptick in Vasectomies Seen as Sign of Recession

Urologists and clinics have noticed an uptick in recent months in the number of men requesting vasectomies.

It is too early to proclaim a bona fide trend in elective sterilization, because no organization regularly tracks the number of vasectomies performed on an annual or even a monthly basis. The most recent comprehensive data come from a study published in The Journal of Urology in 2006, which estimated that about 527,000 vasectomies were performed in this country each year.

But the recent anecdotal data, if they hold, would have a historical parallel in the Great Depression, when the birth rate fell sharply.

Kudos to those getting vasectomies! Much better than having parents cry as their babies die..

Yup, its time for all good men (and women) to march down to the urologist and get themselves fixed pronto.

Tried it sixteen years ago. Didn't keep. Ask my 6 year old daughter.

I'm sure you adore her - but vasectomy is still a very effective form of birth control.

I have long advocated power down and population reduction by birth control, and this would be my number one pick - I'm off to get one soon, after finally convincing my wife that our two children are (more than) enough.

I do adore her. A statistical miracle.

BTW - I liked the first vasectomy so much I ended up getting a second one!


Interesting trifecta for those that put peak oil in 2005 we hit a general decline in tax reciepts, peak oil and the housing peak in 2005.

For those that claim oil was not tightly involved and it was a housing lead recession the sharp drop in tax receipts indicates a generalized systematic decline not a single industry bubble.

Same for that matter for the 2002 recession.

It makes the late 90's very interesting.

I've put what I call symmetric peak back at 1995 if we have managed to pump oil to the point that the curve will be and asymmetric shark fin.

I think its time to seriously look at trends that started in the 90's these trends are increasingly looking like they represent our real peak situation.

Late planting decisions spiking fertilizer prices

Vilsack announces $17 million for beginning farmers
If a golfing community owns a golf course that is defunct: I think they should be allowed to get some of these funds if they pledge the land for community gardening. My feeble two cents.

For example: Sun City,AZ has lots of golf courses, but most of the elderly residents cannot do much outside field hand labor. Yet, there are lots of surrounding neighborhoods that could have younger people pedal in to help convert these areas.

I'm not sure about recent years, but golf courses have historically applied horrific quantities and types of pesticides/herbicides, etc., including some really nasty mercury-laden fungicides on the greens. I wonder what it would take to bring these things into safe food production. Lots of time, I'm guessing...

And they're often built over old landfills. Careful what you wish for.

Some of the old ones will surprise you.

My mother-in-law who was 90+ and kept all of us in veggies and berries (with some obvious help during harvesting/canning time) wore out her hoe. So for her birthday, I got her a new hoe and attached a card ... "To the best hoer in Washington". She got a great kick out of the card and then got out her file and sharpened the new hoe. She passed away some 9 years later in her garden still hoeing. I just hope I do as well.

Ah, but those elderly residents are such a good source of O-NPK. If recycled correctly...

I ran across this story in the LA Times called Turkmenistan accuses Gazprom of causing pipeline explosion

The story about the pipeline explosion is the same as elsewhere but then the article says the following:

The explosion damage to the Turkmen pipeline was not expected to cause major disruptions. And the temporary halt of Turkmen gas could work to Gazprom's advantage.

Gazprom's gas output dropped 24 percent in March, and a company senior executive said on Thursday that production would be declining by 10 percent each year within the next five years.

While desperate for cash to boost domestic production, Gazprom has to pay for expensive imports from Turkmenistan which are getting far less attractive as demand in Europe is shrinking.

Pumping gas from Turkmenistan is "simply unprofitable," said Dmitry Lukashov from UBS in Moscow.

This is all very strange. Has anyone heard figure of an expected 10% per year decline in gas production by Gazprom for the next five years? How desperate is Russia, to reduce its cash flow drain?

Currently Gazprom production is declining at 10% every other month never mind year!

Seriously though I did see a statement from Gazprom that their output would be down at least 10% for the next 4 or 5 years but they attributed that to demand destruction. If he actually said output would decline by 10% a year for the next 4 or 5 years that would be err... problematic.

Curiously the explosion on the other pipeline in Moldova a week or so ago seems to have actually slightly increased supplies to Western Europe because the pipelines branch in Ukraine and you can't send gas down a broken pipe.

Gazprom sees gas demand picking up in Europe

Russian gas giant OJSC Gazprom has noticed slightly increasing export gas demand in Europe, the head of the company's foreign economic activities department, Stanislav Tsygankov, told journalists on Friday.

He said: "We are seeing things pick up in all operations. Even though the system is now working on a summer mode, a larger volume of gas collection is starting."

Tsygankov added: "It is possible this is not global trend. This could be varying cross-flow resulting form prices or movement on the part of several industrial and energy segments. We still do not have an analysis as we only see the operations. We will likely conduct an analysis by month's end and see a cross section of consumption and how the situation really is."

"I will not venture to speak about any kind of stable trend but what's happening is positive," he added.

Has anyone heard figure of an expected 10% per year decline in gas production by Gazprom for the next five years?

I posted this in an earlier DrumBeat:

Gazprom sees gas demand, output depressed for 5 yrs

MOSCOW, April 9 (Reuters) - Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom believes global demand and its own gas production will be depressed by around 10 percent for the next 4-5 years, its deputy chief executive said on Thursday.

'A reduction in demand of 10 percent will continue for the next 4-5 years,' Valery Golubev told an energy conference.

He said the world's largest gas producer, which supplies a quarter of Europe's gas demand, would produce 492 billion cubic metres this year, down 12 percent from the planned 561 bcm and 10 percent down from around 550 bcm last year.

Natural gas production is very much dependent on demand, and demand is falling off a cliff.

Although, in this case we know for a fact that Russian output is way below demand as we can see EU gas supply is only being maintained by heavily drawing down storage. What we don't know is whether this is for purely commercial reasons or if there's genuinely insufficient supply as Simmons claims.

In any case I expect/hope Gazprom output to pick up as the current reported daily production rate is now 33% below last year and that's not at all likely to be all physical decline - or else we really are in serious trouble! Quite simply it isn't enough to refill EU storage either.

Also if Gazprom is to meet the target of only 10% down on the year then production obviously has to seriously pick up sometime soon. Gazprom's current daily production is equivalent to 411 bcm/annum but the target reported above is 492 bcm for this year.

Forecast for the 2008 hurricane season was "low activity" as well. Look what happened.

Weather underground article about early forecasts.

If I am reading that correctly, any prediction before June is garbage, and June-August predictions are slightly predictive.

Hello TODers,

I apologize if this has been posted before, but it does seem like a very plausible economic indicator of where we are headed:

Men's Underwear Sales, Greenspan's Economic Metric, Reveal Crisis

.."If you look at sales of male underpants it's just pretty much a flat line, it hardly ever changes," Krulwich recounted after the publishing of Greenspan's book, "The Age Of Turbulence." "But on those few occasions where it dips that means that men are so pinched that they are deciding not to replace underpants. And [Greenspan] said 'that is almost always a prescient, forward impression that here comes trouble.'"

Well, here comes trouble...

.."[Greenspan] once told me that if you think about all the garments in the household, the garment that is most private is the male underpant, because nobody sees it except people in the locker room, but who cares," Krulwich told NPR. "Your children need clothes, your wife needs clothes that have to change, your children grow, you need clothes on the outside. But the last purchase that you don't have to make is underpants.... [men wear them until they are in] total tatters."

So, I should go short on shorts?

The weather has really pick up here lately, so I'm going short on pants and sleeves too.


I suggest that if you see a huge increase in the sales of depends and mens underpants in New York, Hong Kong, Shanghai and London and a steep decline in the rest of the world that you can deduce that TSHTF.