Drumbeat: April 13, 2009

Attenborough warns on population

The broadcaster Sir David Attenborough has become a patron of a group seeking to cut the growth in human population.

On joining the Optimum Population Trust, Sir David said growth in human numbers was "frightening".

Sir David has been increasingly vocal about the need to reduce the number of people on Earth to protect wildlife.

The Trust, which accuses governments and green groups of observing a taboo on the topic, say they are delighted to have Sir David as a patron.

Don’t bet on a big crude oil rally

Consensus opinion appears to have concluded that North American's major stock market indices and world crude oil prices all appear to have set bear market lows and the next bull market has begun. The next big problem is the timing and the magnitude of rallies as we look forward. Don't bet on a major crude oil rally.

Malthus and vice

Without growth, there would be no economy as we know it. But modern culture, by and large, doesn't see that it can exist only in the medium of ceaseless growth and expansion, because a fish doesn't see the water it swims in. Only today, in the recent, breathless moments of the greatest economic crash since the Great Depression, do we begin to perceive the waters around us.

Slowly, we are coming to realize that the last 200 years of economic growth have been based on a monumental Ponzi scheme that has pushed the final reckoning ever forward in time, until the future is now. Slowly, we are coming to realize that Malthus was right.

Kuwait: too early to say OPEC needs new cuts

KUWAIT (KUNA) -- Kuwait Minister of Oil Sheikh Ahmad Al-Abdullah Al-Sabah said Monday it was too early to determine that OPEC needed new output cuts when it meet next month.

"We are satisfied with current oil prices," Sheikh Ahmad told reporters after the inauguration of an exhibition in the Plastic Arts Society.

Saudi Arabia urged to utilise savings efficiently to offset crisis

Saudi Arabia adopted a wise policy by saving a large portion of its petrodollars windfall during seven years of oil boom but it should now use these assets efficiently, a major Saudi bank said yesterday.

The National Commercial Bank (NCB), the largest bank in the Kingdom by assets, said a surge in credits by Saudi official lending establishments would help offset a downturn in the economy because of the global financial turbulence and the ensuing decline in oil prices and output.

Ziff: US unconventional gas share to leap

HOUSTON -- Ziff Energy Group forecasts unconventional gas production will supply 53% of US gas needs by 2020, up from 30% in 2000.

Don't Hold Your Breath for High Oil Prices

The Russian government sees some sectors of the economy improving in the second half of 2009. Whether the recovery can be sustained — and, more important, whether the recent good times can return — will largely depend on the price of oil.

Impending Skills Shortage In Agricultural Science Puts World Food Supply At Risk

Low numbers of UK students and researchers working in the agricultural sciences mean that we may not have the resources needed to ensure sufficient food-crop production across the globe in the near future. The warning comes from the Royal Society which is conducting a major study exploring how science can enhance global food-crop production.

Weak pound heaps food price inflation on poorest households

The collapse of the pound on the foreign exchanges is keeping food price inflation at painful levels, with the heaviest impact falling on poorer households and pensioners.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC), which represents most major shop chains, reported yesterday a 9 per cent rise in the price of food in the shops in the year to March, against a fall in the prices of non-food items of 1.5 per cent. Prices were up 0.4 per cent month-on-month. Despite a general fall in inflation – the annual rise in the Retail Prices Index (RPI) hit zero last month – food prices remain stubbornly high, and rising.

US green policy will kill economy, says oil chief

Washington’s energy and environment policy risks plunging the US into an economic tailspin that could turn it into “the world’s cleanest third world country”, one of the US oil industry’s most successful chief executives has warned.

James Hackett, chairman and chief executive of Anadarko, one of the US’s largest independent oil and gas companies, said in an interview: “The histrionic and maniacal focus on carbon dioxide is intellectually repugnant to me.” It was “taking the economy into a tailspin”.

Is America's love affair with the "exburbs" over?

GAINESVILLE, Virginia (Reuters) - Jean Bell didn't plan to take care of her neighbor's lawn when she moved to this cluster of brick townhouses hard by the freeway.

But the house next door has sat vacant for the past year and a half, and the bank that owned it wasn't keeping it up. So the retiree and her family have mowed and watered the grass to deter the burglars who have hit nearby developments.

Ford's fuel efficient future

Ford is taking a measured approach to rolling out electrically driven cars. We got to drive a few of the vehicles that the company has up its sleeve.

Kurt Cobb: Until all the evidence is in

Nobody actually waits until all the evidence is in. The simple reason is that all the evidence will never be in. For that to occur one would have to know about everything going on in the universe right now and where those things would lead in the future. For Earth-bound residents, perhaps it would be sufficiently rigorous to know everything that is going on in the solar system and its future.

What do people mean when they say they want to wait until all the evidence is in? Most often they mean they want to wait for more information. But, sometimes they mean nothing of the sort. Sometimes they mean they want you to wait until all the evidence is in before you proceed to do something they don't like. In other words it's a stalling technique, one used quite effectively by the fossil fuel industry to prevent meaningful action to control greenhouse gasses.

Vietnam: Electricity production rises, but shortfalls still loom in dry season

Despite not entering the peak hot season yet, the peak capacity of electric generating sources has been rising, hitting 12,400 MW on March 24, an increase of 10.3 per cent from 12 months earlier.

This has given rise to fears of severe shortage before the dry season ends in May.

Americans stick to their guns as firearms sales surge

At the Guns and Ammo Warehouse they are reluctant to admit Barack Obama is right about very much. But customers enjoy the thought that his controversial campaign comment, that "bitter" small-town Americans are clinging to their guns, has proved more true than the president could have imagined.

Firearms sales have surged in the six months since Obama's election as millions of Americans have gone on a buying spree that has stripped gun shops in some parts of the country almost bare of assault weapons and led to a national ammunition shortage.

Kunstler: The Coming Siege of Austerity

The idea that we're about to resume the insane behavior that induced the current epochal malaise of economy is so absurd it will only be heard in the faculty dining halls of the Ivy League. And if America is not picking up where it left off eighteen months ago -- the orgy of spending future claims on wealth unlikely to accrue -- then what is our destiny? Based on what's out there in the organs of public thinking, it seems that we don't want to think about it.

So many forces are arrayed against a return to the previous "normal" that we will be lucky, in another eighteen months, to still find ourselves speaking English and celebrating Christmas.

Forget Peak Oil; Peak Gasoline is Already Here

The demand picture is indeed weak, especially in the U.S., where gasoline demand apparently peaked in 2007 and won’t return. That’s due to a cocktail of higher fuel-efficiency, shifting transportation habits, and the growing role of biofuels, in the WSJ. Speaking of which, the University of Texas boasts what could be the world’s largest collection of algae, suddenly in demand as a biofuel feedstock, also in the WSJ.

Asia to see bumper oil harvest

Tokyo: Asia will witness its biggest increase in new crude oil supplies in nine years, but a substantial rise in refining capacity will largely absorb the cheaper grades and prevent margins from coming down sharply.

Lukoil unveils oil, gas discovery in Saudi Arabia

(MENAFN) The President of Russia's Lukoil announced that the company has discovered to oil fields in Saudi Arabia, The Saudi Gazette reported.

He said in a press conference that the two fields have C1 + C2 reserves of 70 million tons of condensate and 300 billion cubic meters of gas.

UK: Budget will make or break renewable energy

INDUSTRY LEADERS have warned that this year’s budget will “make or break” Britain’s struggling renewable-energy sector.

The Treasury has been flooded with demands for several billion pounds in funds that industry says it needs to stave off the collapse of sectors like wind power and to jump-start fledgling industries such as electric cars and clean coal.

Author of 'Hubbert's Peak' to speak at Johns Hopkins

The author of Hubbert's Peak and Beyond Oil will deliver the Ernst Cloos Memorial Lecture on Monday, April 13, at Homewood. Ken Deffeyes, a longtime Shell Oil petroleum engineer and Princeton faculty member, will speak on "Peak Oil: War, Famine, Pestilence" at 5 p.m. in 110 Hodson Hall. The lecture is sponsored by the Morton K. Blaustein Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. Attendance is by reservation only; call 410-516-7135.

Driller thriller: Antarctica's tumultuous past revealed

It's not oil these men are drilling for, but another precious resource - historical perspective that could help us to predict the future of sea level rise. Welcome to the Antarctic Geological Drilling project, or Andrill.

This international team is extracting two columns of stone from the sea floor. A few kilometres away, scientists at McMurdo Station, a US research base, work 24 hours a day to analyse them. The cores of stone are providing them with a record peering 19 million years into Antarctica's history.

Doom Or Boom?

Let's grow our way out of a carbon-based economy.

Falling production to inevitably alter Big Oil's playing field

PARIS — Standard economics says the higher the price, the more you can invest.

The more you invest, the greater your ability to raise production to meet ongoing demand. The oil and gas industry has worked this way for decades.

Higher prices meant higher production, which meant everyone had enough fuel to drive stupidly big SUVs.

At least it did until recently. Then something troubling happened. Even as oil prices set records, and even as the investment spigot was cranked wide open to meet relentless demand, some of the world's biggest oil companies were incapable of pumping as much oil as they had before.

Oil Industry Braces for Drop in U.S. Thirst for Gasoline

DALLAS -- Since Henry Ford began mass production of the Model T nearly a century ago, car-loving Americans have gulped ever-increasing volumes of gasoline. A growing number of industry players believe that era is over.

Among those who say U.S. consumption of gasoline has peaked are executives at the world's biggest publicly traded oil company, Exxon Mobil Corp., as well as many private analysts and government energy forecasters.

The reasons include changes in the way Americans live and the transportation they choose, along with a growing emphasis on alternative fuels. The result could be profound transformations not only for the companies that refine gasoline from crude oil but also for state and federal budgets and for consumers. Much of contemporary America, from the design of its cities to its tax code and its foreign policy, is predicated on a growing thirst for gasoline.

Crisis hits North Sea oil search

The remaining lifespan of the UK’s North Sea oil and gas production risks being halved as the economic crisis has prompted a plunge in exploration in one of the western world’s most important deposits, the industry has warned.

The number of exploration wells being drilled in the North Sea has collapsed by 78 per cent in the first quarter of 2009 compared with the same period last year, according to the most recent industry data from Deloitte, the accounting and consulting firm.

'Zero Petroleum Growth'

CHICAGO -- "Peak oil is an illusion," Joe Petrowski, CEO of Gulf Oil/Cumberland Farms, told attendees Wednesday at the 2009 NACS State of the Industry Summit in partnership with CSP in Chicago. But the "political peak" for oil is very real, he cautioned. The end result: "Get ready for a future of zero petroleum growth," he said. Petrowski examined world demand for petroleum products, alternative solutions and domestic implications in his closing presentation, "Meeting the Challenges of an Industry in Transition."

Crude Oil Falls After IEA Cuts Demand Forecast to Five-Year Low

(Bloomberg) -- Crude oil fell in New York after the International Energy Agency said 2009 demand may slump to the lowest in five years as factories shut and car sales tumble amid a deepening global recession.

Average US gasoline price rises 10 cents a gallon

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The average U.S. retail gasoline price rose about 10 cents a gallon over the past three weeks due to environmental costs linked to warmer weather, though the price was 40 percent lower than a year earlier, according to the Lundberg survey released on Sunday.

Further Opec output cut possible: Iran

Iran's Opec governor said if oil demand continued to drop the group may decide to further cut its oil output, the Iranian newspaper Hamshahri on Monday quoted him as saying.

"If the demand continues to decrease until the next Opec meeting, further output cut is possible," Mohammad Ali Khatibi said. The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries next meets on May 28.

Nigeria: Insurers' Energy Pool On the Brink of Collapse

The Nigerian Energy Insurance Pool established about three years ago to deepen capacity of local insurers in oil and gas insurance is on the brink of collapse due to intrigues by players in the insurance market.

Gunmen attack Nigerian oil refinery

Gunmen riding in 18 boats attacked an oil facility on Monday in restive southern Nigeria, commandeering a naval vessel and killing one sailor, a private security official said.

Oil price tumble to hit energy profits

PROFIT warnings from US oil giants have set the scene for sharp falls in revenue for Woodside, Santos and Oil Search in forthcoming quarterly reports, as tumbling oil prices inflict a heavy toll on the energy sector.

Chevron is the latest oil major to highlight the tough conditions. Last week it said its first quarter earnings would be "sharply lower" than the December quarter after much lower oil prices in January and February.

Oil and Stocks Have Bottomed, But Their Paths Forward Vary

If extreme supply shortfalls in the period of 2013 - 2016 elevate oil prices there will be substantial efforts by automobile consumers and producers and by government to push next generation high-mpg cars into the fleet. But the number of such cars that could be manufactured for U.S. consumption will be limited due to battery shortages to perhaps 1 - 3 million per year - not enough to make a significant dent in America’s 250-million car fleet. That’s one reason Hirsch’s 2005 analysis forecasted a 20-year time requirement for the world to mitigate peak oil.

Israel's North Sea

During the 1960s, Britain emerged from a deep economic crisis when it discovered large oil and gas deposits in the North Sea. Norway also prospered from its oil and gas reserves there. Early this year, Israel discovered its own North Sea between Hadera and Rosh Hanikra.

Iran discussing oil imports with Iraq

Iran has announced plans to import up to 200,000 barrels of oil per day from Iraq to feed a refinery in the oil-rich province of Khuzestan.

Clashes Over Thai Protests Intensify

BANGKOK — Soldiers armed with assault rifles fought running street battles with anti-government protesters in Bangkok on Monday as unrest spread through a wider swath of the Thai capital and the chief of Thailand’s armed forces vowed to use “every means to end the chaos.”

Major shopping malls shut their doors, foreign governments advised their citizens in Bangkok to stay inside and the government banned the sale of gasoline in the center of the city in an effort to stop protesters from making Molotov cocktails.

Trinidad and Tobago's energy policy

The world is at present living through the credit crunch, the climate/environmental crunch and the energy crunch. We hope that the restructuring of the global financing system will rectify the first. The second and the third conflate and dramatically affect our ability to successfully operate our economy; particularly since our oil and gas are depleting resources. The policy decision for our energy sector, a priori, cannot then be business as usual, building more LNG or steel plants or aluminium smelters. Blind faith that there is more gas out there waiting to be found is at best avoiding the responsibility of creating an energy policy that looks at T&T's energy security, export capacity and the efficient and effective use of our energy resources in the reconstruction of our economy. The production of a green paper on alternative energy outside the context of this economic reconstruction is inadequate.

Obama's Economic Mirage

What Obama proposes is a "post-material economy." He would de-emphasize the production of ever-more private goods and services, harnessing the economy to achieve broad social goals. In the process, he sets aside the standard logic of economic progress.

Since the dawn of the Industrial Age, this has been simple: produce more with less. ("Productivity," in economic jargon.) Mass markets developed for clothes, cars, computers and much more because declining costs expanded production. Living standards rose. By contrast, the logic of the "post-material economy" is just the opposite: Spend more and get less.

Planning for fewer cars: Aging population needs pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods

A recent vote on a senior living complex in Oceanside points to a dilemma as America's population ages and other factors such as energy and climate change come into play: constructing residences in areas where it is not always necessary to use cars for daily living.

Where to From Here?

Firstly, despite gloom about discovery prospects and the concept of Peak Oil, we’re not all about to head to the local fuel station, only to find that there’s no fuel left. Although the price of oil may rise a huge amount in the next 5 or 10 or 20 or 30 or 40 years, oil (and so petrol and diesel) will still be available.

The current predictions regarding oil supply and usage need to be considered within a historical context.

When I was a kid in the mid Seventies, oil was going to run out before the year 2000. I can quite clearly remember wondering why an older brother was going into a job with aircraft when it was certain that well before he finished his career, no planes would be flying – how could they, without oil-based fuel?

That idea now looks like madness. Equally, those who suggest that we will be living in an oil-less world within our lifetimes are probably wrong.

Ethanol Industry Burning Through Equity

Another ethanol refiner hoisted a white flag this past week. Aventine Renewable Energy at Pekin filed for chapter 11 federal bankruptcy protection, and while it is not the first, nor the biggest, its financial challenges point to continued stress for an industry that had been on top of the world a year ago. Aventine joins VeraSun, the nation’s largest ethanol producer on the bankruptcy list, during a week that a half dozen of VeraSun’s old plants were sold to another ethanol refiner, Valero.

Of course, the larger ethanol companies are not the only ones having difficulty. Many smaller one and two plant operations have also sought bankruptcy protection in the past year following the plummet in crude oil futures in the latter part of 2008. No, they were not all caught speculating on the long side of the crude oil market, but caught in a cost-price squeeze. With ethanol prices linked at the hip to unleaded gasoline, what goes up must come down and ethanol prices fell below cost of production. At least the cost of production that had been booked by the plant’s corn buyers.

Nuclear industry taking shape in the Gulf

DUBAI: Oil and Gas rich Arab and Gulf nations have started thinking about life, once the petroleum boom is over. Leading world oil producers like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and even gas rich Qatar are firming up proposals to set up nuclear power plants to meet future energy needs.

Lawmaker wants new homes to make energy

SACRAMENTO (AP) — If state Assemblywoman Lori Saldana has her way, buyers of California homes built a little more than a decade from now would not have to worry about paying big electricity bills. The homes would produce power themselves.

The San Diego Democrat has introduced legislation that would require all homes built starting in about 2020 to be so-called zero net energy buildings. That means they would be extremely energy efficient and produce enough power to offset any electricity they draw from the grid.

Even In Hydro-Rich Northwest, Coal Still Major Power Source

One of the most common misconceptions about Oregon’s power is that it’s practically all nice clean hydroelectric from the Columbia River. But the reality is this.

To turn on their lights, Pacific Northwesterners use about forty percent coal -- and about the same amount of hydro, plus a mosaic of other power sources making up the last twenty percent.

Get going with Galloway cattle

The commercial beef industry, both in the UK and across much of the world, has focussed on continental cattle breeds that require significant consumption of cereals, normally demanding considerable inputs of artificial fertilisers. Systems and cattle breeds have adapted to utilise the abundant cheap cereals, and become reliant on heavily mechanised forage methods, in the latter decades of the twentieth century. As the century closed, significant tracts of uncultivated marginal land in the UK had started to fall into disuse, having become uneconomic for intensively produced beef.

But with peak oil production behind us, and a new economic climate, the maths driving livestock enterprises are changing rapidly. Although the 2008 harvest has temporarily pulled the price of corn back down, all the signs are that the price of arable products is going to inexorably rise.

Traditional breeds of cattle, developed over centuries to thrive on grass based systems, and on less productive land are making a comeback, not least the Galloway breeds. Utilising poor and unploughable soils, often in areas of extreme weather, has long been an accepted niche for the ancient Galloway breeds of cattle.

Local residents preparing transition for life after oil

NEWBURYPORT — Fresh ripe strawberries in the dead of a New England winter and purchasing cheap clothing and goods from China are trademarks of the late 20th century. But local energy expert Niall Robinson says the 21st century will be marked by our ability to adapt to life without such things, as the world moves toward an event known to industry experts as "peak oil."

How can you kill a planet? And Still live on it!

In the most important, brilliant and electrifying documentary film of the 21st century, “Blind Spot” by Adolfo Doring, Randal Wallace and David Gill--they conduct interviews with men and women studying human impact on this planet. Those educators introduce humanity’s stark future if we continue on our current path. I urge every U.S. Congress politician, governor, mayor and citizen to take an hour to watch, and then, take action. I especially urge someone to bring this video to Barack Obama for personal viewing.

Don't Expect Much From The Next Kyoto

The Copenhagen Climate Convention is still eight months off, but it already looks likely that the follow-up to the Kyoto Climate Protocol will end without agreement on dramatic new action to curb global greenhouse gas emissions. The reason? American politics.

Yesterday on the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., there was an 11.5 minute segment on Peak Oil and the end of civilization as we know it. The link was posted on TOD a little before midnight by Paul, (HereinHalifax), with a one line comment labeling it "More doomer porn".

Please permit me to post the link again: Preparing for the Worst

The segment features Eric McVay. I don't know if he is a member of this list or not but I would like to congratulate him. He is doing what most of us should be doing to prepare for hard times.

Ron P.

I thought it was a decent piece, and thought it was a good divide between 'Doomer' and Somber Precaution.. very glad they had a range of people there, especially the suit (which possibly validates the message for some folks, while organic farmers and single urban women sadly would not.

Still, What makes it 'Doomer Porn' is the twangy moody music they played over every silhouette of a pumpjack. Classic! That was when I kept expecting Petrol-Zombies (maybe dressed to look a little like Petrowsky from Cumberland Farms- good name, huh?) to claw their way out of those dying-'undying/undead?' fields.

I also had wished that their little closeup of the 'possibly doomed' bunny had an animated mouth to whisper 'The Horror!..'

For those stylistic cliche's, I don't blame the actual Doomers in the piece, but the editing conventions shared between the news and the cheezo-horror-film industries.


The good thing about the piece was that the doomers were not portrayed as crazy pinko commies or anything. In fact, that trend keeps surprising me, considering how doomer arguments were always dismissed as apocalyptic fantasies of a loonie fringe until very recently. I noticed the change last summer, when for the first time somebody who had never heard of PO before took me quite seriously when I put my arguments to them.

I actually sent this link to my Canadian colleagues who sometimes frown upon European media for being too pessimistic...

Lower grain prices put some Indian farmers in a suicide mood:


"Traditional breeds of cattle, developed over centuries to thrive on grass based systems, and on less productive land are making a comeback, not least the Galloway breeds. Utilising poor and unploughable soils, often in areas of extreme weather, has long been an accepted niche for the ancient Galloway breeds of cattle."

Hear, hear! My father, who was a livestock veterinarian in central Alberta, kept several hundred Charolais and Hereford on the side as a pure rangeland operation, with supplemental hay in the winter but no grain feeding. He always called feedlots, where 90% of your beef comes from, as factories.

I consider that ethanol as a fuel is a boondoggle but support it because it raised the price of grain. Currently, grain is so heavily subsidized that feedlot operators can produce beef cheaper than ranchers. Most people don't know that mass feedlot production is only about 50 years old, and relies heavily on cheap grain and cheap diesel. Peak Oil isn't all bad; it will help to shut down dysfunctional businesses like feedlots.

petrowski is clueless on peak oil, his quote:

" All the dinosaurs didn't go to Saudi Arabia to die,"

Exactly! Elwood is referring to the link up top: 'Zero Petroleum Growth'.

This should settle any arguments as to whether the CEOs of major oil companies know anything about the origin of oil, or even anything about oil or not. Petrowski is the CEO of Gulf Oil. To be a CEO you need to be a financial genus but you can still be an oil imbecile and still be the CEO of an oil company.

Ron P.

"Suggesting new taxes to the Obama administration is like ringing the dinner bell twice for me--it's simply not necessary," he joked.

I'm not even sure what that means; is he suggesting that he was all ready to eat up a heaping serving of gas taxes at inauguration, and now he's just sitting at the table waiting for his plate?

This guy comes off like a true idiot. Comparing the gasoline retailing environment to tobacco? Hmmm. Is it illegal to sell gasoline to people under 18? Does using gasoline as intended almost guarantee a cancerous death? Come to think of it, maybe he's right- maybe we (N. Amercian society) ought to be treating gasoline more like tobacco. Let's start with a lawsuit to try and recoup the public costs brought on by a reckless set of corporations who knowingly sacrifice the public good to line their own pockets.

I doubt that he is clueless, or that he really meant that oil was made from dinosaurs!

The current political climate could have a profound impact on retailers who sell fuel, he said, pointing out that "96% of our transportation is fueled by petroleum-based products." Yet, the political climate seems to encourage what he called "an all-out war" on petroleum.
"We face extreme challenges in petroleum retailing," he said, "worse that even those associated with tobacco." Because of these challenges, it is critical to get involved with trade associations representing the industry. "Shaping legislation affecting fuel retailing is extremely important," he added.
Domestic exploration needs to be expanded, for one. "All the dinosaurs didn't go to Saudi Arabia to die," he said.

He is talking to oil/gasoline retailers, and I think he is pretty sensible in trying to put "peak oil" in a context that won't immediately turn off his audience.

This 21st Century promises to be a period of declining expectations. It is going to take a lot of political finesse to accomplish that without creating panic or revolution or both.

Most of us readers of TOD already accept that, and have made plans accordingly. Much of the world at large is still ignorant, or in denial -- but from the Banksters of Wall Street on down, people are going to have to make do with less. The sort of sad thing is that while there is plenty of everything to go around, the political process seems to focus on scarcety rather than abundance and in that way makes shortages seem worse than they really are.

"I doubt that he is clueless..."

i stand corrected, he is a clueless expert.

It's not my place to correct. It was just my opinion.

He is some kind of expert, I suppose. He may be dissimulating, but it was my opinion that he is not clueless. He has an agenda, that's for sure.

My larger point is that if we are to make any sense of "dueling experts", we need to know what their agenda is. Assuming stupidity or ignorance may prove to be dangerous.

i dont think i am assuming ignorance, imo, this expert has demonstrated ignorance(cluelessness).

i didn't get the sense that the line was delivered in jest.

My larger point is that if we are to make any sense of "dueling experts", we need to know what their agenda is. Assuming stupidity or ignorance may prove to be dangerous.

Clearly an aware person who puts his agenda before truth is a dangerous person. In terms of sorting out whose arguments should be given the time of day, however the proper action is similar; whether it be because of stupidity or a pro-propaganda attitude, his opinions should be given a weighting of identically zero! Of course the moral implications, and the methods for defending against the danger of him acumulating followers are likely to be different.

Wilbur Ross, chairmain of International Coal Group Inc., was on CNBC this morning. He said they are reducing their production, because there's a glut of coal. He gloated about having locked up most of this year's production in long-term contracts at last year's prices. He doesn't see the economy turning around any time soon.

He thinks coal is the future, even if Obama achieves his green goals. He says sequestering CO2 is bound to be a lot cheaper than sequestering nuclear waste.

Joe Kernen, the CNBC talking head, went on a tear about how Ken Salazar is banning drilling in Colorado. He means the oil shale. You know, the stuff we're still not sure how to extract. He mocked Salazar for proposing wind as a substitute, saying it would take a trillion wind turbines to replace the Colorado oil shale.

Kernen also suggested sequestering CO2 for only a year or two - to see if the climate gets cooler. Uh, boy.

The video link to this story:Ross' Earnings Outlook

I have finally decided to comment on Oil Shale production. It is most emphatically not true that "We do not know how to extract Oil from Oil Shale".

I worked on Oil Shale in the 1970s and we knew how to do it in a technical sense then.

Why don't we do it then:
a) Economics-Huge investments and questionable returns.
b) Water-Colorado is water short and will severly limit production rates.
c) Environmental-What do you do with huge amounts of shale with the kerogen removed?
d) Political-You need a stable long term commitment from government to keep the rules stable and at least not actively hostile.

Oil Shale is not the solution to US transportation energy problems but like ethanol it could provide some liquid fuels for transportation in a post peak oil environment.

Actually, it would take one wind turbine to replace the oil shale in Colorado. Too bad it's the 70s all over again. The fact that Kernen is still on the air tells you most of what you need to know about CNBC.

Planning for fewer cars: Aging population needs pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods

Thanks Leanan for posting the above article.

Oceanside is an enigma. Almost 20 years ago the population densities were increased in the downtown area under redevelopment to accommodate medium to high density housing but even with tax incentives change was snail-like to non-existent. But 5 years ago change began to occur in major leaps and bounds. The old downtown Ma Bell office building was converted into high-end condos and work-lofts. High rise hotels and commercial development along with hundreds of new medium high rise residential areas were pushed through and people were bidding on these products before they broke ground. Now with the economic downturn development has dried up faster than water on asphalt in Phoenix in July.

But they did get the Sprinter completed which begins in Oceanside and joins Escondido to the east with the main line running north and south from Downtown Oceanside with LA to the north and downtown San Diego to the south as well as connecting all of those coastal towns such as Solona Beach, Encinitas, Del Mar and La Jolla.

Here's hoping that in time we can give up the illusion of saving the suburbs.


Please Joe, Tell me they don't have to drive to the suburbs to buy food at the Super Walmart.

Hello TODers,

Will the next round of Ponzi banking schemes start here?

Crisis Altering Wall St. As Stars Begin to Scatter

..There is an air of exodus on Wall Street -- and not just among those being fired. As Washington cracks down on compensation and tightens regulation of banks, a brain drain is occurring at some of the biggest ones. They are some of the same banks blamed for setting off the worst downturn since the Depression.

Top bankers have been leaving Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup and others in rising numbers to join banks that do not face tighter regulation, including foreign banks, or start-up companies eager to build themselves into tomorrow's financial powerhouses.

..Today's upstarts aim to do the same by hiring away the industry's talent and, in some cases, trying to replicate the entire investment banking model that was largely dismantled after Lehman Brothers fell last fall...
I guess parasites can evolve much faster than their taxpayer-hosts.

..Today's upstarts aim to do the same by hiring away the industry's talent and, in some cases, trying to replicate the entire investment banking model that was largely dismantled after Lehman Brothers fell last fall...

Well, maybe. But the level of skepticism among those who still have anything to "invest" must be quite a lot higher.

They're after the new new thing. Whatever that is. It will be interesting to see, but there is probably a historical precedent. Most likely the extraordinarily powerful, yet oversized allosaurus gave way to the smaller, faster, more agile velociraptor -- but in the end, they all gave way to a new order. One with bigger brains and smaller teeth.

Turn on the lights and watch the roaches scatter.

But the criminals are not finished raping the system yet (good thing for them we no longer have a functioning Congress and that we have three of the main criminal masterminds advising the President ).

The Incredibly Shrinking Market Liquidity, Or The Upcoming Black Swan Of Black Swans

"Anyone who is doing anything sensible right now is either losing money or is out of the market entirely."

These are the words of a quant trader, who is seeing something scary in the capital markets. Scary enough to merit a warning that we could be on the verge of another October 87, August 2007, or January 2008....

...In this light, the program trading spike over the past week could be perceived as much more sinister.

For conspiracy lovers, long searching for any circumstantial evidence to catch the mysterious "plunge protection team" in action, you should look no further than this.


This one's getting legs, SOP:

Google Leptokurtic Black Swans to see what's coming.

"The Federal Reserve Bank of the United States of America has lost the ability to leverage the US Dollar as a Tool to artificially inflate the US equity markets.

The next two weeks will ascertain whether this Metamorphosis is indeed Permanent and Fundamental. It is my current belief that the Correlation is Dead. IF that is indeed the case, and IF we further agree that US equities have not yet bottomed, then the demise of the Correlation inevitably leads to one inescapable conclusion.

Phase II of this epic downturn –for which I believe the foundations will be laid between April 16 and April 20, 2009 – will contain a Rogue Wave. "


I wonder why Apr 16-20 ???

I've been thinking the release of the (already delayed) Bank Stress Test later this month might be the Black Swan that poops on the current market rally.

Tax Time, corps tax payments to the Treasury could be down
from 50 to 90%.


“Price declines will probably gather momentum toward the middle of the year,” said Junko Nishioka, an economist at RBS Securities Japan Ltd. in Tokyo. “People are going to become more concerned about the risk of deflation in coming months.”

No one should be concerned about falling prices except unfortunately those deep in debt betting on or needing rising asset prices. Moreover, falling prices on goods and services are exactly what's needed. If prices drop far enough people will buy stuff. It amazes me that 99% of economists cannot figure this out.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock


the Middle Class is going thru Big Time Foreclosures/Defaults.


Trailing P/E is now at 100x. With Credit Markets still frozen.

fade away, fast

“The labor laws switched the burden for supporting Japan’s workforce from the companies to the government,” said Wataru Kishi, in charge of welfare assistance at Osaka’s city government. “The issue is whether the government can provide the support or the entire system will collapse.”

Like here, the government won’t protect the workers. When things get bad, the government reduces support. The only thing that prevents our government from totally dumping us into the gutter is simple fear. In Japan, the populace has fallen into a suicidal stupor. They have basically given up all hope for any future at all."


There will be no recovery in the real economy until the financial system is reformed and banks are restrained into productive functions within our society.


"If things continue on as they are, despite all the stimulus and fine rhetoric, the madness will once again be unleashed on the earth, and the people will wonder from whence it came, as they do each time it rises from the same sources and ravages civilization: unbridled greed, malinvestment, and corruption. "


And the BDI is crashing again.

And Another Horseman rides...

Argentina Dengue Outbreak Now 'Epidemic'

We simply do not know how bad things are regarding Dengue.

Today a representative of Doctors of the World said that the government is covering up the real numbers and pretty much not doing a thing about it.

A few days ago I was 7000 cases, today at least 40.000 people are infected and there’s heat wave hitting Bs As now that only makes the mosquito spread more.

How many died is one of those mysteries.

According to the guy from Doctors of the world. Official numbers should be multiplied by 5 and he doesn’t understand why the national emergency hasn’t been declared yet.

I already have lots of repellant, we use it and use tablets inside the house.

Remember what I said about censorship and lies making it impossible to fix the economy because you don’t have real data to work with?


If you listen very carefully, you can hear the balloon being reinflated...

Obama urges mortgage refinancing
President cites low rates while announcing a loan modification program.

President Barack Obama encouraged Americans Thursday to take advantage of historically low mortgage rates and said his administration was rolling out further phases of its plan to address the housing crisis...

"The main message that we want to send today is, there are 7 to 9 million people across the country who right now could be taking advantage of lower mortgage rates," he told reporters during a meeting with advisers and a group of people who had taken advantage of the lower rates.

"We estimate that the average family can get anywhere from $1,600 to $2,000 a year in savings by taking advantage of these various mortgage programs that have been put in place."...

Meanwhile, the top U.S. housing official said interest rates on typical home loans will continue to fall from their current, record lows.

"I think you will see them continue to come down, based on everything that we're doing, but recognize that they've already started to make a big difference," Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shawn Donovan said on CNBC.

OK, granted you would have to be a true idiot (or have a crap credit score) not to refinance in this environment, but this is exactly what caused the mess before... It's like curing an addict of his withdrawal symptoms by giving him another hit.

Energy Export Databrowser

(Apologies for reposting this but I realized that the original posting on Good Friday in the evening may have missed many of our European readers.)

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

Thank you for maintaining your excellent site Jon. I used your charts on oil exports during a public input period by our State Department of Transportation to show them just how fast Mexico and Venezuela were reducing exports. The charts are very clear. I like that the percentage change is prominently displayed.

Keep up the good work. It is getting used!

Thanks for the kind words. Comments like yours keep me motivated to continue supporting and occasionally improving the databrowser.

Now if we can only convince someone at BP or some NGO to become a sponsor I could make my hobby a dedicated activity. </wishful_thinking>

I second that, your site is great...peak oil in all its awful glory spelled out with pure data in a clear fashion. Please keep it up!

I think your site is really great, too. I sent a link to your site to a friend of mine, who keeps hearing claims about this or that saving us. The graphs make it easy to show her how much we are importing, and how small the proposed solutions are in comparison.

Hello TODers,

Interesting read,IMO:

Southeast growers ponder future with little history for guidance

..We simply haven’t been in times like these — ever. The Great Depression had similar financial basis, but those were different times — more than half the people in the United States lived and/or worked on the farm back then.

..To say the supply of fertilizer worldwide is fragile is about as euphemistically as I can put it.

..That [pricing] instability is relatively unimportant compared to the impact the ongoing global financial crisis is having on fertilizer. A cargo ship loaded with fertilizer and/or raw product from which fertilizer is made from North Africa or one of a number of countries in the former Soviet Republic bound for America requires roughly $20 million to get from point A to point B. Bankers who used to stand in line to finance such a profitable cargo don’t call anymore — the risk is too high.

Even if the supply of fertilizer on a global basis was stable, the challenge of getting a ship-load of raw material to North America for processing is another case of sailing through unchartered waters.

..Will the current financial crisis prevent buyers from getting the credit they need to buy crops that are not yet planted?

..I prefer to be the optimist, but my optimism was shaken by a recent conversation with a farmer in South Carolina..
If the I-NPK global infrastructure quits pulling finished products to the topsoil square foot-->I doubt if we could ramp O-NPK fast enough.

As evidenced in the TODer posting upthread: I don't think we want Punjabi style agro-loan sharking to move into our farming markets either. A farmer is a terrible thing to waste.

As usual: Have you hugged your bag of NPK today?

If there's anything I've learned from you, Totoneila, it's that we are at the end of a very long and complicated supply chain that feeds us and keeps our modern society functioning.

I think it's an interesting exercise to look back on everything we consume and ask 'Where does this come from?' For instance, where does the salad you eat come from...? From the store? OK, and how does it get there... Some semi truck? And going back further... how were the lettuce, tomatoes and carrots harvested? Fertilized? Planted?

Once one does this, you realize how utterly and completely dependant on Fossil Fuels we are. We need FF's to create fertilizer, plant and harvest food. We need FF's to move food from the farmer's field to us. We need FF's to support or infrastructure- everything from roads to the supermarket itself. We need FF's to hop in our car to buy food to bring home. We need FF's to provide electricity for our appliances to keep our food cold (refirgerator) or hot (microwave). After we eat our salad, we need FF's to transport the leftover garbage to the dump, or deal with O-NPK after it's been flushed. Every step along the way is a point of dependance on FF inputs. We're peaking, folks. What does it mean when we can't plant our food, harvest our food, move the food from the farmer into the city, preserve our food so it doesn't rot, or deal with the waste created after consuming our food? How does society function then...?

This is why many people are actively working to bolster local food systems. Once the dots are connected, the gaps are more evident and we must work with deliberate speed to fill them, lest we all become paste eaters.

This is why many people are actively working to bolster local food systems.

Let me pimp this effort:

Out of Our Own Back Yards is an excellent social networking site for people who are growing their own food, interested in growing their own food, looking to buy/sell/trade locally produced food… in New Zealand. This Ning started in December 2008 and already has over 700 members.

Hello Geckolizard,

Thxs for your reply. Yep, IMO, once a person groks postPeak FFs cascading blowback effects upon continued good water & food for the Overshoot Population--it looks pretty grim going forward. I'm just trying to prod, whatever #'s of people I can reach, to move towards what I label as Optimal Overshoot Decline. In my mind's eye: this is somewhere between Jay Hanson's Thermo/Gene fast crash & Archdruid Greer's Catabolic Grind.

I am wondering how to understand what we do with all that energy that is peaking. From a discussion occurring mostly yesterday on the Kenya post comments, it appears that agricultural production uses maybe 1% of the total energy, and food transport and processing (as wasteful and infuriating as they are) use maybe another 2%.

My particular interest is food - local food, minimally processed food - but I think that from the point of view of Peak Oil, transportation (which accounts for a majority of oil use) is what will take the hit, and food transportation could conceivably be protected - as opposed to useless junky knick knack transportation.

IMO, we will have a food crisis, but not the one we think - as it will have many causes. I'm all for growing some of your own food, but driving less is a priority.

Grandmother cooks snails from garden to beat credit crunch

When snails besieged Oriole Parker-Rhodes garden and began eating all her potatoes, she came up with the perfect credit crunch solution.

If you can't beat them - eat them.

Is Friedman channeling the Gund Institute/Nate Hagen's postings?

Discovering the best of both worlds
Almost reads like something we have already read/discussed much before on TOD,EB,LATOC....

That wasn't even the half of it; Sunday's NY Times also included a long editorial explicitly addressing energy, ecological economics and the massive hole we have put ourselves in. Discussed in yesterday's DB

You don't suppose that Thomas Friedman actually reads the NY Times while he's jetting around the world making speeches, do you? BTW, all that Ecological Economics stuff has been around since the 1980's. I ran across Georgescu-Roegen's book as a grad student about 1975 and met Herman Daly in 1979. Here's a direct link to Sunday's editorial in The NY Times...

E. Swanson

Try the 70s. I took Environmental Economics in 1973.

Off topic, but I was watching The Masters yesterday and thought of you.

OK - it's the ONLY golf tourney I watch and only on Sunday and yes I do have a few PP issues to resolve.

I was amused as the announcers said Tiger was tearing up the course in a late run at the lead. Trouble was he was not in the last two-some and near as I could tell the course did not look torn up, ready for planting, to me.

However, in the last two holes, Tiger did seem to venture into the forest once or twice and I thought there might still be hope. In fact on one of those holes he could be seen trying to nock down a tree - with merely a golf ball - no doubt preparing for the time when fuel for chain saws will become but a memory.


Obama assures us based on "history".

This is worrisome. And I voted for the man. In his economic pep talk this morning, President Obama assured us that rebuilding roads and rebuilding the transportation infrastructure as is, will be the path to bringing America back to her glory because "history" (circa Eisenhower years) shows us this will work.

Perhaps some Obama admin people read TOD and can warn him that we've never had Peak Oil before in "history"? This is not your old man Ike's emergency.

Obama right now is operating under the assumption that this recession will end this year and that their is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Next year as it becomes clear that the economy is locked in an L shaped recession and if I'm right ground down more by high oil prices he will determine that they did not throw enough money at the problem.

By the end of next year the banks will at least be walking dead so the the next round of funding might actually make it out of the banking sector. This will proved some temporary juice and we will see more wiggle in the bottom of our L. However if oil is depleting rapidly high oil prices will smother recovery.

Now in 2011 we have a choice and I think we will avoid it but now slowly the chance that oil might of peaked is making it main stream and yet another wave of stimulus this time finally aimed at renewable energy will go on the books with plenty of pork. By now home prices will in a sense be bottoming out as they have declined into or below traditional affordability levels an people will be repeatedly calling a bottom to housing as the decline rate in prices slows.

2012 This will be the year of the race the fact that we have not obviously crashed will bolster reelection of Obama while worrying symptoms such as increasing riots will mar politics. The burden of high oil prices for several years is spreading rapidly as new replacement infrastructure much be build with expensive oil.
By this point if not earlier most towns, cities, states and pension funds are bankrupt and on the federal dole we basically have lost most of our state and local governments in many regions.

2012 forward. From here on out its really just a matter of what happens and its event by event.

The point of this is that you can see that Obama can almost make it four years without really addressing any problems. In fact even a slight amount of good news could easily allow him to get re-elected. However I don't think it does any good. Given the above anyone expecting change out of Obama is probably mistaken since he does not have to change at least this term. If he is elected to a second term however I think by that point he will be forced to address the issues he skirted during his first administration and the largesse of right now will finally tie his hands as our creditors finally repudiate the dollar.

Call me naive, but I just can't see how it would not be plain to Obama et al that any restarting of the economy will reignite oil prices. Therefore their actions might be best aimed at making sure there is no recovery, just slower falling. The only hitch is that our economy depends on growth to repay loans, and we don't want any of that because that will crash it. I'm sure they can see it, if I can.

If 70% of oil goes to transportation, theoretically you could have economic recovery (in the short term) with decreasing oil use, no? I know that every industry uses oil, but so much of it is used by transportation that it seems you could trim 10% there and keep everything else going. Now next year you would need to trim another whatever %, but they might try this, no? Not sure how this ties in to repairing road and bridge infrastructure, mind you - maybe the projects we really need aren't shovel-ready.

In our ‘democratic’ systems pols are always working with a brief time horizon. On Obama there are other constraints as well. (I am not a fan.) Given such conditions, the thinking paranoid describes seems rational, reasonable, good common sense typical of house-wives, teens who have a little math, the aspiring accountant, etc., who are set a problem verbally or on paper, and set themselves to balancing things out.

It would fly.. I’m sure focus groups would say, hey! Yes! We can! We waste on transport! (or similar along those lines.) There would be no reason to keep such an agenda secret. (Ok there are the oil cos. but let’s no go there now.) In fact, it would energize Americans to take personal action in an area where it is possible to do so, would serve cohesion, would be seen as a genuine simple step towards attacking fundamental problems, and not only by those who are PO aware, doomsters, frugal types, etc.

I have not read everything Obama has said on energy, but I have read a lot; never have I seen serious hints in this direction. Obama is pure BAU, his suggestions / hopes include mostly additions. Michelle adds a veggie garden on the White House lawn, to mention one cheesy example. That takes spades, deliveries of materials, body guards, photographers ... for produce they will never eat. He wants to create ‘green jobs’ - that is about jobs, not the ’green’ - reduce green house gas emissions, etc. (see his site.)

Excessive energy use is built into the American psyche, and its geo-politics. It is crash and burn, all the way, and policies will not be changed.

memmel: Your scenario is plausible, but I note that it contains no "black swans". There are a lot of unexpected things that could turn a bad situation into a real nightmare. We are incredibly vulnerable now.

Or even a lot of expected things.

Heavy weather in the Gulf of Mexico? Not certain, but not unexpected either.
Refinery or pipeline outages? Happens all the time, not unexpected.
More expositions of large scale deliberate fraud in the financial system? Not unexpected.

Strangely enough, we seem to be seeing a version of collapse very reminiscent of one of the better passages from that Randian novel that shall remain nameless.

Despite Talebs popularity Black Swans both real and predicted don't really effect policy Administrators can always act surprised and shocked at the turn of events and point to them as the culprit not policy.

Certainly Talebs cures are correct make the system flexible but to suggest that politicians actually think about stuff is a bit reaching.

The housing bubble itself has been played off as unexpected however I think few people buy into that. But events themselves regardless of how bad will generally serve to deflect from the obvious fact that the policy itself is flawed. In general this will just cause the politicians to double down if you will doing more of the same.

By 2012 the obvious situation that we are running out of cheap oil will be treated itself as a surprising and shocking event and cause even more money to be spent by the government.

Most will be wasted.

You may find this shocking but I really think the world will allow us to print about 100 trillion dollars before they finally realize that printing won't work.

No one wants the party to end and with 100 trillion you can paper over a lot of problems for a while.

The reason the insane amount of printing will be allowed is because the real situation will become increasingly obvious that our civilization itself is untenable.

Collapsing a civilization in the span of less than 20 years is impressive beats previous civilization collapses by orders of magnitude but given that I think we are really talking about a true collapse it will be slower then most doomers expect but more certain and faster than the people that think alternatives will save the day will expect.

The underlying truth is that the EROEI cliff itself is whats in operation and it left unrecognized will work to prevent us from success.

Falling EROEI is almost like traveling back in time to kill yourself it creates a paradox.
The paradox is trying to expend more to keep the status quo even if your trying to evolve it serves only to hasten its collapse. To handle falling EROEI you have to do the counter intuitive action of actually collapsing the current society to really free basic resources for transition. Any other action simply pits current investment against attempts at future investment and both lose.

Whats interesting is that Chinese civilization sort of did this because it fragmented easily and thus was able to execute partial collapse. To some extent the younger European civilization also was able to do this more or less fragmenting into smaller political domains then reforming. The retention of strong regional barriers are a partial solution however for our society these have been torn down. But this is more because intrinsic ELM'sh situation are more adaptable. Obviously following on the partial success of our ancestors the first thing we need to do is dismantle or governments and armies and move to gold based regional currencies and probably given our situation a return all the way back to the city state or regional powers with control ranging out to say 1000 km from the center. By making our monetary system hugely inefficient and unable to grow and dramatically reducing the current standard of living we actually preserve the resources for smart growth. In my opinion its the fact that our global monetary/political system is now optimized for concentration of wealth that will make it impossible to conserve our remaining resources for transition. The only way out is to destroy it.

Despite Talebs popularity Black Swans both real and predicted don't really effect policy

you da man, memmel, but I was thinking the same thing as WNC (and I'm not a huge Taleb fan either)
Do you really think that without 9-11 we would currently be in Iraq and Afghanistan?
Personally, I don't. I was active in the antiwar movement at the time and even with media whipping up war fever, it was almost forestalled.
Without Colin Powell's disgraceful performance at the UN on 2/5/03 I think we could have prevented it.
And I would consider 9-11 a black swan event, nothing at all like, say, the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand.

Whats important is they don't change policy Bush's policy was to invade events created opportunity at no point during Bush's tenure did he change his policy one bit.

The thrust of my argument is that exceptional events are unable to influence policy.

Government policies are far more like the titanic and once in place they will run their course until you change the policy makers.

California for example will go bankrupt before it reigns in government spending for real.
Its not going to change without a major revolt against basically all California politicians regardless of party.

Obama has decided to adopt a overall policy of massive deficit spending nothing will change this least of all unexpected events. They may redirect some of the flows and change the balance of spending but thats about it.

I would agree that events give policy makers a chance to change reformulate or rebalance if you will how they run their policy but one can imagine that a fairly arbitrary set of events would all be used to adapt the core policy. Oboma is going to throw about 2-5 trillion dollars at least at problems each year of his Presidency if we happen to not get a "Black Swan" then it will go to some predefined areas if a new event occurs then some of the flows will be adjusted but what I'm trying to say is it literally does not matter what happens Obama will basically throw a trillion dollars at every problem that comes along.

Also understand on the financial side I also think the decision has been made and the course will not waver peak oil or no peak oil. The middle class will be destroyed over the next few years and all societies will become closer to third world in form. Peak oil acts to accelerate the change but the policy is in the past. Future concentration of wealth from now and for as long as our current financial system is in place will be based off impoverishing the masses and the movement of control of resources and the means of production into the hands of the rich. Obviously the rich fully intend to take the lion share of Obama's multi-trillion spending spree and convert it to extensive and absolute control of the world economy.

I really don't think that events matter all they do is change the timing of the plan if you will. Given that on average most future events will probably be bad all unkown events will do is maybe accelerate some parts of the plan and slow others.

However understand that I'm talking about the movement and flow of several hundred trillion dollars at least 200-300 trillion. Global GDP is about 50 trillion but a lot of what I'm talking about is massive flows of asset ownership of all types. The key is that hard assets move into the hands of the wealthy and debt moves into the governments and credit is rapidly drained from the system.

The goal of course is for the wealthy to own everything for the worlds governments to bankrupt themselves then they effectively plan to have indentured servitude lending at outrageous interest rates into a economy thats declining thus their loans can never be repaid and real wealth accumulates via default and asset seizure. Whats funny is its really a mark to model economy where the wealthy via control can set the value of any asset at any price they wish.

But these fantastically wealthy...entities (are they individuals or corporations in your scenario or are they families or banks?) will need energy to administer their assets. They will eventualy be in the same bind as the governments they effectually have replaced (controlling us paupers) with falling energy available for their devious schemes....while challengers to their power will be numerous.

Administering power over spread-out solar energy capturing, photosynthesizing areas (aka fields) reaches a system-based size limit I think. It may be day or two of a ride by horseback for all I know.

There will still be shifting fortunes in the future. And someone who is smart but poor may be able to succeed by working hard even without controlling assets and being funded by the currently wealthy.

Assets...assets...what are these but toys in the end? Huge airports, train stations, department stores...the assets we regard as valuable...are they really so if the energy from FF dwindles away? If you say a valuable asset is a mountain that has a spring of clear water, well, yes but there are many of those and the people who own them still need all sorts of other things to live.

I don't think the future looks as monolithic as you suggest. I think it will be interesting to face the new challenges. Beneficial for the mind in all sorts of ways. People without assets won't necessarily face hopeless hardship if they have a useful skill others will pay for.

No, 9/11 doesn't qualify as a black swan as plenty of people had either considered the possibility of just such an event or had prior warning/knowledge of that particular attack. That the White house chose to ignore the warnings is due to either stupidity or conniving malice.

The EIA's new International Petroleum Monthly is just out with the data for January 2009. World oil production was down 1,022,000 barrels per day in January. OPEC was down 1,083,000 bp/d, non-OPEC was up 62,000 bp/d.

Of course the big losers were all OPEC nations with Saudi down the most, 391,000 bp/d. However OPEC nations Nigeria and Iran were up 92,000 and 7,000 bp/d respectively. Among non-OPEC nations the big gainers were the US, up 132,000 bp/d, China, up 57,000 bp/d and Brazil up 47,000 bp/d. Non-OPEC big losers were Norway, down 92,000 bp/d, Canada, down 62,000 bp/d and India, down 52,000 bp/d.

The big gains by the US was due to Thunderhorse, Atlantis and Blind Faith all coming on line, beginning late last year. These platforms will continue to increase production thru March when production will be up about 400 thousand barrels per day verses last year.

Indonesia has been removed from all the OPEC data, all the way back, and placed with the non-OPEC data so the totals for OPEC as well as non-OPEC data will be adjusted accordingly.

Ron P.

They need a category for OOFPEC, Organization Of Formerly Petroleum Exporting Countries.

We might as well also start up "OOFPIC": Organization Of Former Petroleum Importing Countries.

We might as well also start up "OOFPIC": Organization Of Former Petroleum Importing Countries.

The Organization Of Former Petroleum Importing Countries, or TOOFPIC.

Maybe one of these years Brazil will be a net exporter, but they appear to have once again fallen short in 2008; however, if we extrapolate their 2005 to 2008 production and consumption data out for 10 years, they would be (net) exporting about 0.28 mbpd.

Of course, at their 2005 to 2008 volumetric rate of decline, net exports from Venezuela, Canada and Mexico will have fallen by about 2.3 mbpd 10 years hence.

Ok, I just checked and although the what's new section says updated 13 april (today) all the tables I am seeing are still last months. Can you give me the URL for where you're able to see the new data? . Or did you catch data released earlier than intended again?

Here's what I see on the main IPM page (the link you gave above)

February 2009 International Petroleum Monthly
Posted: March 10, 2009
Next Update: Early April 2009

But if I click What's New I see

What's New

March 2009 Release (April 13, 2009)

Important Changes This Month

In this release of the International Petroleum Monthly, there is one major change. Because Indonesia suspeneded its membership in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) , effective January 1, 2009, data reported for OPEC in the tables in the Petroleum (Oil) Production section, the Oil Balance section, and the Petroleum (Oil) Imports section have been revised to include only data for the twelve countries that currently belong to OPEC: Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela. Revised data are shown in bold italic font.

World petroleum production data for the month of January 2009; and OECD country petroleum demand, imports, and stocks data for the month of December 2008, the Fourth Quarter of 2008, and the Year 2008 have been added.

Also if I browse for stats by country, I still only see up to December.

[Edit: This appears to be a cache issue. Anyone else having this issue with Firefox please clear your cache - I think Internet Explorer is ok]

Undertow, I have no idea what the problem is. When I click on the link I posted I get:

March 2009 International Petroleum Monthly
Posted: April 13, 2009
Next Update: Early May 2009

However I had the same problem a couple of years ago. Try doing a "Ctrl F5". That is what I did and got the correct data. I suspect that what you are getting is data that is stored on your computer. Somehow your browser senses that you already have the data and no need to download it again. If that is not the problem, and a Control F5 does not fix it, then I have no idea. Anyway the link is: http://www.eia.doe.gov/ipm/

Yes, it is a cache issue. I don't normally have this problem with the EIA site which is why I didn't check for it until after I posted - just after I posted. Should have checked first. They may have changed some html metadata at last release which caused the page to hang around. [Edit found the problem - EIA had incorrect page modification date - new page was still dated March. They seem to have fixed it now as it now shows as dated 06 April 2009 16:04:03. Wonder if they read TOD]

I see World production for 2008 has been revised down from 73,791 to 73,781. 2005 was 73,737 - the gap is closing (and is closer than any realistic error margin in any case).

With this increase in US production, it'll be time before someone says "Yes, we can!!! Drill drill drill!!".

The IPM showed a decline of 2,178,000 b/d from Jan. 08. At 71.864 m/b/d production in Jan. 09, the EIA data indicates that no month since early 2004 showed crude oil production below 72m/b/d. Much comment has been made on demand being down, but not much on world production being down to 2004 levels.

These are some graphs William Tamblyn e-mailed me, using EIA data through January. This graphs shows total liquids production by month:

This graph shows EIA Crude and Condensate by month:

This graph shows the ratio of Crude and Condensate to total liquids:

Here's OECD imports (IEA table 8).

Note that total imports to OECD countries peaked in 2005. However imports from all regions (other than core OPEC) known to be increasing production over the period actually increased through 2007 only levelling off in 2008. Russia/Former Soviet Union OECD import data in particular seems to be a good calibration source as their production data seems to be far more reliable than OPEC. Even though core OPEC claimed production increased absolutely none of that showed up in OECD members countries. Increased FSU, African and Iraqi production did show up.

I suspect the blue bars are reasonably proportional to true world C+C production and match up with Simmons's "shady" data.

My Opinion is that most of the current declines are more removal of paper barrels from production and reporting becoming close to real production levels.

I think we are in the range of 70-72 and getting closer to 70. This implies we probably still have about 1 mbd of paper barrels being called production.

I suspect that the Nigeria and Iranian numbers are not correct and in particular Iranian production probably actually declined. Nigeria if I had to guess was actually flat to declining unless they brought a known large field online which would boost the numbers for real.

Fore Iran I believe the real production is also lower then they record by 200-500kbd.
I'm treating Iran as facing effectively the same problems as the Soviet Union faced when it collapsed but right now not as strong financial/investment factors along with a high probability of field damage is driving decline.

If we are in fast decline and we really where closer to 70mbd than 72. Using various scenarios with peak world production of about 74 mbd and 4-6% decline in demand from the economic collapse supply and demand have now crossed with supply lagging demand. Given the error its anywhere from 200kbd to as large as 2mbd. Regardless we should begin to see a steady draw down in global inventories and increased prices.

Now if we really are on the fast crash course then I'm guessing we lose another 4mbd of production this year. This would put us distinctly negative vs demand by pretty much for sure 1.5-2mbd by June-July this year.

Thus I'd continue to predict that on average prices will increase about 10 dollars a month for oil if we are really on a fast crash path which should put us in the 70-80 dollar range by June-July with a acceleration in the increase in price by the second half of the year.

I think oil right now is probably underpriced because of the large inventory builds by 10-20 dollars a barrel if so the price increase will really be driven by inventory draw downs but this is of course dependent of the rate of decline of production. If we really get closer to production being 2mbd less than demand then the draw down of inventories should be rapid.

This all is assuming that the current economic collapse has hit a brief stable region with various economic indicators turning positive and some negative. So mixed signals for now.
Assuming a rapid decline in housing prices this year sales rates should begin to pick up and this is good short term economic news. I'm betting that banks will dump foreclosures this summer primarily because they recognize that high unemployment rates mean that a normal recession based decline in housing prices is starting and they will be forced to clear inventory. I focus on this because I think that rising sales volumes in some areas will be triumphed as a sign of the end of the recession.

I do expect unemployment rates to continue increasing heading towards 10% but this will now be offset to some extent by companies that have downsized doing their best to increase cash flow and thus burning more energy. So the mixed economic signals will tend to cancel and we should see effectively flat demand.

And last but not least I think if prices go much over 80 then we will see a return to more paper barrels being reported and reported production should see a fairly sharp bottom and start to increase again or at least remain flat.

And of course I think that the next several months are important regardless of the real absolute values of the various numbers we are certainly at least close to the top of the five year range for storage and we have every reason to be certain that the demand side will remain
effectively flat. Thus the rate of change of storage should work as a excellent indicator of our real situation. If it remains high and oil remains around 50 hen the fast collapse scenario I've proposed can probably finally be eliminated.

If I'm wrong then its technically good news and it means we may have a lot longer to wallow forward. I think we will fritter away the opportunity but on the same hand without a fast collapse of oil supplies I'd suspect we may trundle along for 10-20 years. If oil prices only increase strongly when we grow then obviously we can maintain a flat society at the basic energy level. Finances will become increasingly troublesome but its still a relatively slow change over 10-20 years.

In any case the rate of draw down of inventories over this year looks like a fantastic chance to test our real situation regardless of the outcome since its hard to fudge.

Fore Iran I believe the real production is also lower then they record by 200-500kbd.

That could be but if they are they seem to be consistent. IEA data shows that the ratio (claimed production less consumption)/(IEA tracked OECD Iranian imports) has been pretty consistently about 1.6 on average over the last decade. Saudi's ratio has steadily increased from about 1.5 to 1.9. Kuwait's has jumped from 1.8 to 2.5.

The ratio of (Total Oil Consumption)/(OECD Consumption) has only increased from about 1.7 to 1.8 over the decade.

Whats Venezuela's since Chavez ?

I think Venezuela and Iran use similar methods in the sense that Venezuela seems to be copying Iran's model. And yes I expect Iranian numbers to be steady and consistent.

The one fly in the ointment for Iran that indicates all is not well is that they have backed down subsidies internally as oil prices rose this indicates that real cash flow where strained.

And of course despite the uranium enrichment issues the fact that Iran feels it must move to nuclear power is another fairly large fly.

Also on top of this we see them sparring with oil companies effectively trying to get their fields developed for free this is yet another indicator.

Plenty of facts if you will indicate that Iranian production has probably declined over the last several years.

One of the flaws if you will of the export land model is if a country is fudging the numbers then initial production declines can be hidden in claims of rapid increases in internal consumption that are difficult to independently verify.



In my opinion whats important is that for Iran you really don't see huge changes regardless of the price of oil its too consistent :)

You can't have the Saudi Economy on one side booming with the rapidly increasing oil prices and on the other side Iran effectively go forward steady as she goes.

I certainly question the Saudi claims of increased internal demand just as much as I question Iran's neither set of numbers are correct.

My theory is after they tried to push production up in about 2002 that it faltered and by 2007 obvious shortages resulted in drastic action. Problems where probably already significant by as early as 2004-2005. Given that the press is controlled I suspect that for a while they where able to play a round robin game causing fuel to be tight in one region and replenishing another and simply rotating the effected region to hide the overall situation until they could not. KSA obviously plays this game with exports sending exports first east then west and effectively using draw down of western storage while eastern storage is filling to effectively hide production problems and price spices from simultaneous storage draw downs until they could not.

Don't underestimated the power of what are the oil equivalent of rolling blackouts my opinion is that they are quite powerful at hiding a much worse underlying situation until the fail.

And this is not to belittle export land its real and its happening but its mixed in with real oil production declines and at least to date the overall situation has been such that error both real and induced by artificial reporting has been sufficient to hide the real factors.

However I really believe that we have reached the point now that the truth will become clear.
We are either on a flat to slowly increasing or declining production side with demand similar
or we are on a fast decline with demand about the same. If we are going to see a divergence of the fast collapse path from other possibilities I think it pretty much has to happen this year.

The underlying reason is simple far to much money pulsed into the oil sector and even todays prices are actually quite good for all but the poorest fields for production not to remain robust if its possible to do so. No way for example did real production go to a new high then fall this fast from underlying physical depletion so plenty of spare capacity should exist in the world regardless of what model you use except for one.

Only the fast collapse model stands out in predicting that the 2008 rise was fake and overall production actually declined rapidly and that it continues in a steep decline. The rapid economic collapse over the span of a few months really about four only resulted in a temporary surplus of 50-80 million barrels of oil in total to accumulate and this was in conjunction with both a hurricane limiting supply and Saudi emptying storage. Three extraordinary events resulted in a really small excess of oil and the underlying rapid decline will soon exhaust this surplus. Not the inability of the US to except imports because of the Hurricanes could alone account for a good bit of the build. The Saudi surge requirement is actually quite small as low as 20 million barrels well within their storage capacity.

A later onset of rapid decline is theoretically possible but inconsistent with the 2008 price signal and with my own efforts trying to limit when it would occur if its going to happen. I think a later steep decline is highly unlikely.

Regardless my model seems to me at least to be entirely self consistent and in excellent agreement with the price action for oil something that difficult to alter for long. And most important if its correct then it effectively must diverge from other models this year. At most as far as I can tell given the decline rates I'm proposing is I could be off by 2-3 months at most 4mbd of production loss a year is 1mbd very three months. At worst I could have my timing off by 2-3 months and really pushing it four months. But all we have to do is see a real production deficit of 1-2mbd to result in a rapid draw down of storage so again well within the decline if I'm wrong and its really just 2mbd right now then I'd suggest its not really the fast decline route for example. This could push me out by six months but at that point I'm now inconsistent with the rapid rise in prices and the fast collapse model so again it starts to diverge.

So overall its fairly tightly constrained and I think it will be proven or disproved in short order.

Found this report.


Whats interesting is it gives exactly the same number as I deduced with my meta model :)

Here's Iranian exports to OECD countries as reported by the IEA

2000 1510 kb/d
2001 1490
2002 1270
2003 1687
2004 1609
2005 1563
2006 1534
2007 1549
2008 1403

Btw, I believe the article you quote was a hatchet job aimed at Bakhtiari.

Whats Venezuela's since Chavez ?

Believe it or not their ratio has massively decreased from 1.7 to 1.1 (possibly (gasp) supporting Chavez claim that their production figures are under reported). No I'm not suggesting they are not in decline but no other country tracked by the IEA has a ratio anywhere near as low.

All I'm saying about Iran is that Iranian exports seem to be predictable from production figures - not that they are correct, but they don't seem to be the worst offender by any means. Kuwait apparently sends most of its recent production increases to the moon or anywhere else the IEA can't record it.

Hugo is waiting and smiling. Soon, when Texans fill up with petrol, they will be required to face Caracas, and kiss a picture of Lord Hugo's Azz.
Just a lucky roll of the dice, and a smart and insightful leader.

Interesting and even less plausible given whats been going on in Venezuela :)
One problem with GIGO from multiple sources is its hard to determine where its coming from.
Makes you really wonder how much oil was leaving Venezuela in the past. One other part of the steep decline model is that the Major's systematically under reported production for years to skip on royalty payments. I felt this was effectively over by the end of the 1990's.

I agree with however that Iran's reports are 100% predictable. However I think that they either would have seen a steady increase in production to at least something reasonably close to what they did before the revolution or that their fields have suffered serious damage. If the fields are indeed damaged then they would be in decline by now. Over the decades since the Revolution its become pretty much a black and white question at this point. They had plenty of time to increase production if they could and never seemed able.

But question every number the more you look the more you tend to see that you get either numbers that are improbable or to consistent. And yes I don't buy into the IEA's import number any more than I by into any other number thrown around over the last 10 years.

My opinion is the data started diverging from reality back in 1998-1999 about two years after where I put a symetric peak in 1995. Because of all the above ground factors I sort of put 1998 as the year that global oil supply probably reached maximum capacity and also the US meddling in global oil supply after its own peak was at its low point.
Understand that at the same time that technology was moving the world forward in general leading to no symetric peak in 1995 we also had the three largest potential producers Iran, Iraq, and Russia involved in serious above ground problems.

Think about it after KSA the worlds top three producers suffered serious problems over the last several decades since the 1980's yet we managed to have surplus capacity and low oil prices. Given how much of the worlds reserves where either offline being damanged or otherwise incapacitated over that entire time period we must have been able to make serious gains in production rates from advanced technologies.

Everything sort of hit a sweet spot in 1998 the Asian economic crisis cooled the economy and Iran, Iraq and Russia production was on its way back up and internal demand was low.

My opinion is that between about 1990 and 2000 over that ten year period the combination of technical advances and reserves could have easily allowed the world to produce over 100mbd and we would have had a fairly symetric peak however real spare capacity and cheap expansion eroded over this entire time period eventually getting us where we are today. Advanced technology has been used in enough of the worlds oil fields to cause rapid decline. Large amounts of our remaining oil is stranded in badly damaged or depleted fields in Iraq, Iran and Russia preventing any production increase from these reserves.

So if you really consider where most of our remaining oil is vs whats been produced and consider how low oil price where in general it should be obvious that we have probably produced 70% of our remaining URR. Especially if you consider flagrant cheating on the part of the Major to bypass royalty payments.


Sabon Birni, who was represented by Mr. Wole Akinyosoye said, though globally acceptable, self_assessment system appears to be inefficient in Nigeria, the department has developed a robust and dynamic Royalty Management System designed to assess and compute the royalties payable to the Federal Government by the operators.

This system, which was designed to eliminate and replace the existing self_assessment used by companies, he said has manifested in prompt and more accurate payments that would help as Nigeria expands to new frontiers.

DPR made revenue contribution to the federation account through royalties, gas flared penalty, concession rentals and other miscellaneous oil revenues.

The director, who spoke on the 'Roles of the Regulator in the Oil & Gas Industry' said regulation is imperative in the industry to curtail the abuse of the strategic and depletion characters of hydrocarbon assets.

So just in closing everything is a bit skewed no number is right you have to collectively reduce all the information to the largest self consistent set. That in my opinion is the closest to the the truth we are going to get. One thing about your ratios is I think they are a nice way to indicate that number people believe may not be true. And IEA import data is in my opinion just as suspect as all the rest. I think your trusting this number too much.

It would be cool if you could publish this back through the 1990's and maybe include price or do the same with price I think your approach with price included should detect the switch from under reporting of production to over reporting.

And IEA import data is in my opinion just as suspect as all the rest. I think your trusting this number too much.

And that's where we differ slightly :-)

I actually think you are correct in general but if I take roughly what Simmons claims are the true figures (roughly matching what you claim as well) and plug them into the maze of spreadsheets I somehow seem to have created then IEA reported import figures seem roughly correct. However I cannot find anyway to match the "official" production figures with the IEA import data. If you are going to disbelieve the IEA import figures then you might as well discount every single oil figure you ever see in my opinion. I also noticed when I posted the IEA Saudi stream tracking by grade (showing a peak around 2003) you agreed with it then :-)

Bakhtiari claimed incidentally that it was true Iran was struggling to keep production up but at 4 mb/day - not 3.5 mb/day.

Just to recap here's one of Simmons mysterious slides putting world "conventional" for 2008 at about 71 mb/day down from about 73 mb/day in 2005.

It would be cool if you could publish this back through the 1990's and maybe include price or do the same with price I think your approach with price included should detect the switch from under reporting of production to over reporting.

I haven't imported the IEA data that far back as it's a very time consuming process extracting the data from PDFs - especially as the layout of the tables has changed over the years. Also the earliest IEA data PDFs are squint printout image scans so I would have no choice but to type them in by hand (I could try OCR and use the totals as a checksum I suppose). I'll try and get round to it.

The big gains by the US was due to Thunderhorse, Atlantis and Blind Faith all coming on line,

Catchy name! :D

On the Forbes article on "The Next Kyoto": the writer is truly missing the forest for the trees.

Of course the Congress will scuttle any serious attempts to reduce CO2 emissions, both Democrats and Republicans.

What is also true and ignored in that article is that there are many other players on the World stage that are even more likely to scuttle any serious world-wide attempts. In the past we have seen China down-vote IPCC conclusions, and Russia and Saudi Arabia help torpedo international talks on climate.

The issue is far bigger than how evil Republicans and coal-state and oil-state Democrats can be.

Sounds like a good show. As for any outrage, I sure hope so.. in the hopes that 'There's no such thing as bad publicity'..

People have gotten pretty hard to shock. You have to be pretty extreme, like suggest they share things, to get them out of the emotional bombshelters now.

Yep, it really points up how visceral people's reaction to anything that smells "nuclear" is.

Frankly, they wouldn't even need to have real Depleted U in the art to get the desired effect, just notes hidden in each piece saying (U235).

Edit: And bones. Real, human bones. And a near total lack of outrage or shock from visitors.
Interesting, I wonder if it is acceptance or detachment.

i love my doomer porn. it scares me like no novel or work of fiction can. because, it just may be happening. why the "may be"? because i live in new jersey and i see everyone BAU. the only thing i noticed is less traffic during rush hour. certain intersections used to have long queues to negotiate a stop sign, not now. i know friends and relative who are indeed buying big screen tv's. i see brand new giant monster pickups in many driveways. community gardens are for pretty flowers not fruits and vegetables. i was to start a garden but my new job nixed that. and there is the rub, corporate life. a worker must swear fealty to the corporation, over country, over wife, children, parents and private hobbies. i hear often from coworkers who grumble if there is no overtime. spend all your life at the factory or in the cubicle. this BAU in new jersey. i expect the worse case scenario. that is one day no gasoline at the pumps, riots in the streets, supermarkets ransacked. an end to our long waking dream. there can be no other solution. as long as people perceive money is worth stealing by the criminal elite, they will "buy into" the paradigm. the collapse wont begin until there are no more slices of pie to grab. JHK better watch out because gold man sacks may try to shut down his website for saying bad things about them, and perhaps even inciting others to riot and other nasty things government may not like.

wonderful post Humbaba, not even sure exactly why, but I like your post.
Perhaps cuz I get it; life as usual here as well, no changes to speak of.
And yet the impending sense of doom somehow humming in the background. surreal.

Sorry for more financials, but we touched on this story in last week's DB.

Here's the continuation of the story that lifted stocks 32% last week:

Wells Fargo May Need $50 Billion in Capital, KBW Says

This about sums it up:

“Details were scarce and we believe that much of the positive news in the preliminary results had to do with merger accounting, revised accounting standards and mortgage default moratoriums, rather than underlying trends,” wrote Cannon, who downgraded the shares to “underperform” from “market perform.” “We expect earnings and capital to be under pressure due to continued economic weakness.”

So should we expect a 32% drop in stocks tomorrow? Nah. There's always this "feel good" news:

Goldman $1.66B 1Q earns beat Wall Street estimates

I finally got around to reading the Oil Shale article you posted for me last week. I only have 2 questions.

From the article:

By 1990, Shell's scientists had concluded that blasting, digging, hauling, roasting, disposing and revegetating millions of tons of shale ore would never be economically viable or environmentally acceptable.

Is this still the stance that Shell is taking? Or has there been advancements in marlstone/kerogen production technology that have changed the landscape so to speak?

As a rule, nations don't tap oil shale unless they are destitute. The world's primary producer has been Estonia, a Baltic nation lacking in coal, natural gas, oil, or hydropower resources.

If a nation (Estonia) is destitute and lacking in fossil fuel energies and we know that oil shale uses large amounts of water and energy to process, where is a nation such as Estonia finding the energy to mine the kerogen? How does this nation justify expending a more dense energy (e.g. "One fourth of recycled phone books"*) to obtain the shale?

* from the posted article

Is this still the stance that Shell is taking? Or has there been advancements in marlstone/kerogen production technology that have changed the landscape so to speak?

No, this is still Shell's position. That is why they have opted for the "in situ" method of heating the marlstone for three years at 700 degrees F while freezing the perimeter to keep the oil out from escaping into the surrounding groundwater.

If a nation (Estonia) is destitute and lacking in fossil fuel energies and we know that oil shale uses large amounts of water and energy to process, where is a nation such as Estonia finding the energy to mine the kerogen? How does this nation justify expending a more dense energy (e.g. "One fourth of recycled phone books"*) to obtain the shale?

I am not really qualified to answer that question but I can speculate. The Estonian shale oil industry is water intensive, but Estonia appears to have plenty of water. Also Estonia does not give a tinkers dam about the environmental impact.
Environmental problems in the Estonian oil shale industry Also Estonian oil shale production, in 2000, had dropped to less than half its production in 1980 so I believe they are finding it less and less economical. File:Production of oil shale.svg And as you can see from the chart, most of those who once produced shale oil have now discontinued the practice. I could not find any chart of shale oil production after 2000.

Ron P.

Found this article I think its really good. It was posted on CR's blog.


Overall I agree with him on the money side for the most part however I think that peak oil will force up commodity prices regardless of the money games being played.

Next of course you have a real bottom in interest rates well above 0. The problem is banks make money on the difference between what they borrow at and what the lend at. They are borrowing at zero right now so further declines in interest rates from here on out reduce bank profitiability.

Deflation from what the author is talking about is balanced by tightening credit as banks simply refuse to lend with falling real rates. Basically they both tighten borrower requirements and offer much higher interest rates to marginal borrowers. Debt deflation through default and withdrawal of credit continue. Next volatility in the bond increases as interest rates become marginal but with major moves. Some big players get burned from time to time.

He is 100% right about productive capitol its gone however if commodity prices start increasing because of real true depletion esp oil which will bleed across all commodities then
you can see the perfect storm shaping up. Real producers will become desperate for credit and default will increase forcing ever larger groups of borrowers into high risk loans and thus relatively high interest rates. Credit worthy buyers sitting on cash will hoard it even more.

Goods that can only be purchased with long term credit will suffer serious deflation this is housing, cars and commercial real estate. Since all of these are also in oversupply vs demand the downward pressure on prices is enormous. And of course higher cash flow requirements to cover rising commodity prices eat into business profits and free cash flow of consumers reducing the amount they can spend on debt credit worthy or not.

Real interest rates will increasingly diverge with fewer and fewer borrowers getting the low rates and even if they do they will repeatedly be force to lower the amount they borrow.

Overall what you see is a society transforming into one based on cash flow thats recycled back into commodity purchases with what credit available effectively offered at loan shark rates.

This is effectively a third world economy with wealth accumulation possible really only via banking or selling of commodities in bulk or other essential goods and services.

Middle class goods and services will for all intents and purposes disappear as most of the middle class either disappears or by default effectively becomes a member of the elite class as the wage pyramid sharpens dramatically. A small number with essential jobs will for all intents and purposes move up the social ladder while most won't.

Now of course if commodities remain cheap then at some point prices drop until consumption resumes and then if peak oil is real you will see commodity prices serve to create a anemic recovery slowing as prices increase to much and consumption drops. This would be pretty close to a repeat of Japans experience. In fact its possible if you have this sort of stagnant economy as flux in energy prices with a general trend higher that it might be able to actually introduced alternatives at a fast enough rate to overcome depletion.

Personally I don't see it happening but its theoretically possible that deflation for all intents and purposes overrides depletion.

Given that US VMT declined most of the time prices where increasing I tend to doubt that this scenario will play out. And of course general deflation itself will significantly lower investment in commodities thus increasing the production decline rate.

Instead its easy enough to consider the case that commodity prices are rising but the overall deflation and continued job losses coupled with a recent incident of price collapse will serve instead to keep investment in oil low even as prices increase as people wait for another price collapse. Thus it still seems like we will see relentless increases in commodity prices despite the overall deflationary environment since almost all the deflation is concentrated in either expensive goods requiring long term loans, expansion with similar loans or luxury items. Nothing prevents basic living costs from rising until people simply can afford their daily living costs however the average standard of living can drop dramatically before core commodity cost reach the point that most people are priced out. They may conserve along the way but any price drop would bring back demand.

So I still don't see why this situation won't continue until it reduces the economy to third world demographics with the bulk of the population living day to day packed into poor housing to offset daily costs.

Added this link another fantastic article again consider it and peak oil.


Reading these two articles back to back and considering peak oil is sobering.

Fekete's articles are always insightful. One major element he ignored (in relation to commodity prices) is the Chinese influence. China's money supply expansion is on fire (up 25.5% YOY) and unlike the USA the Chinese government appears to be firmly committed to economic growth at all costs (as opposed to simply propping up financial players). Doug Noland feels China has the ability to get things rolling again (at least in the short term)-we shall see.

I just happened upon a beautiful and sad photo essay on NPR.org called Common Ground. Journalist Scott Strazzante juxtaposes an old couple who sold their farm in Illinois with a suburban family who occupies a house built on the same land.

One thing I found striking was how healthy the old couple looked, even in their 80's, compared to the obese suburban housewife. The couple talks about how they used the land to raise cattle and grow corn, while the housewife talks about how she "uses" the Walmart that was built on the cornfield.

It's short and well worth a view.


the old house actually had some architectural details. the liet motif seems to be three car garage.

great essay.