Drumbeat: April 16, 2009

The Peak Oil Crisis: Sustainability

Food production is frequently discussed as the key area of human endeavor that will need to become sustainable if we are to continue eating. For the last hundred years agricultural production has boomed as we have dumped vast amounts of petroleum-derived chemicals and pesticides on the world's crops. Then we have piled the resulting crops into fossil fuel powered trains, planes, ships, and trucks and after much energy intensive processing and packaging have delivered them to consumers 1,000s of miles away. This too will have to be phased out as the energy involved in all this becomes so expensive that we can no longer afford to eat. Many see the return to sustainable agricultural practices in the midst of global warming as by far the biggest challenge our descendents will face.

There is, however, more to the sustainability problem than just renewable energy, transportation and food - and that is our infrastructure. Large agglomerations of people living under reasonable conditions in the 21st simply cannot continue in a healthy, sustainable state without clean water, sewage, electricity, communications, a source of warmth and a transportation network to move life-sustaining supplies about. Most of the infrastructure in use today has been built in the last 150 or so years.

Moreover, much has never been rebuilt. There are 100's of thousands of miles of water, sewer, oil, and natural gas pipelines - most in very hard to reach places that are getting very old. In the next 50 to 100 years most if not all of these vital arteries are going to have to be replaced. Then there is the electric grid, parts of which have been around for 100 years, and the roads, bridges, and rail lines that need to be maintained on a sustainable basis.

Petrobras Talking to Canada, U.S., Denmark for Loans

(Bloomberg) -- Petroleo Brasileiro SA is in talks with countries including Canada, the U.S., Denmark Singapore and South Korea about potential loans to finance suppliers in Brazil’s offshore oil industry.

The loans would help Brazil’s state oil company, known as Petrobras, to finance suppliers of ships, rigs and oil platforms, Chief Executive Officer Jose Sergio Gabrielli said today at the World Economic Forum in Rio de Janeiro.

BP shareholders vent fury at AGM

BP shareholders have registered their anger at senior directors' pay and their connections to Royal Bank of Scotland by only narrowly passing the firm's remuneration report.

Shipston urged to brace itself against climate change

PEOPLE are being urged to help make Shipston and its surrounding villages resilient against the effects of climate change and a predicted worldwide decline in oil production.

Residents, organisations and groups from the Shipston area are invited to attend a public meeting at Shipston High School, Darlingscote Road, at 7.30pm on Wednesday, April 29 to discuss joining Transition Town, a worldwide grassroots movement working to build local resilience against the effects of climate change and peak oil.

BP ‘Trimmed’ Oil Refinery Runs as Profit Margins Fell

(Bloomberg) -- BP Plc, Europe’s second-largest oil company, is slowing production at some of its refineries, joining other oil companies such as Repsol YPF SA in curbing output as the recession lowers fuel consumption.

“We’ve trimmed runs in some refineries and brought forward some maintenance in one or two places to take advantage of the timing” of weaker second-quarter demand, Iain Conn, BP’s head of refining and marketing, said in an interview in London today.

Refining margins will remain “challenging” this year because of lower demand, he said. Profits for refiners turning a barrel of crude into fuels averaged $4.60 between April 1 and April 8, about half that of the second quarter 2008, according to data on BP’s Web site.

OPEC set to miss output-reduction target

OPEC will cut crude-oil shipments by 2.5 percent in the four weeks ending May 2, putting the group short of its reduction target, according to Oil Movements.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, producer of about 40 percent of the world’s oil, will load about 22.2 million barrels a day in the four weeks ending May 2, down from 22.8 million a day in the month ended April 4, tanker-tracker Oil Movements said today in a report.

Contractors tighten belts for Saudi refinery bids

DUBAI (Reuters) - Contractors will have made aggressive cuts to cost estimates in bids due later this month to build a new refinery for Saudi Aramco and Total (TOTF.PA), sources at contracting companies said on Thursday.

Oil's slump to around $50 a barrel from a peak over $147 last year has forced cost cutting across the industry, and contractors that were turning down work a year ago now find themselves in a fierce competition for what is left, sources said.

Russia's Sakhalin-1 2009 budget totals $2 bln

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A group led by U.S. energy giant ExxonMobil will invest about $2 billion into Russia's Sakhalin-1 oil and gas project this year, the Sakhalin regional government said on Thursday.

Russia approved the Sakhalin-1 budget last week after a prolonged delay which analysts linked to disagreements between Exxon and Russian state gas monopoly Gazprom (GAZP.MM) over the sale of Sakhalin gas.

War, Oil and Gas Pipelines: Turkey is Washington’s Geopolitical Pivot

The recent visit of US President Obama to Turkey was far more significant than the President’s speech would suggest. For Washington Turkey today has become a geopolitical “pivot state” which is in the position to tilt the Eurasian power equation towards Washington or significantly away from it depending on how Turkey develops its ties with Moscow and its role regarding key energy pipelines.

Nigeria tries to settle oil protests

ABUJA, Nigeria — The Nigerian government plans to offer an amnesty to Niger Delta militants in a bid to end the violence that has cut the country's vital oil production by 25 percent.

The new minister for Niger Delta affairs, in an interview with GlobalPost, said the government will open dialogue with the armed gangs and is putting in place a program to disarm them and reintegrate the fighters into society.

The Salt Mine Solution

In the Salado salt formation a half-mile below the New Mexico desert, WIPP has room to store all the radioactive waste an expanded nuclear power program could produce. Emphasis on the word could.

Frontline Sees ‘Massive’ Oil-Tanker Cancellations

(Bloomberg) -- A plunge in supertanker rates to their lowest in at least 11 years will likely spur owners to scrap ships and cancel orders for new ones, according to Frontline Ltd., the world’s largest operator of the carriers.

Supertankers are making $4,335 a day after fuel costs for delivering Middle East crude to Asia and the U.S., according to data from the London-based Baltic Exchange. Hamilton, Bermuda- based Frontline said Feb. 26 it needs $12,000 to cover costs such as repairs, crew, insurance and lubricants for engines. Interest on loans takes the figure to $32,100.

“We will see scrapping happening soon, then we will see massive cancellations in the order book,” Singapore-based Jens Martin Jensen, temporary chief executive officer of Frontline’s management unit, said by phone today. “I don’t think this market is going to last until 2011.”

Eyes on dwindling Big Oil reserves after tough quarter

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Investors are looking beyond what was clearly a tough first quarter for major oil companies, and toward how they can ramp up production levels to meet demand whenever the economy bounces back.

Questions about how to replace reserves, whether through projects in the pipeline or acquisitions, loom large for an industry caught between tougher regulations and tax codes at home and the governments that control most of the world's oil and gas supplies abroad.

"They have normal decline rates with existing assets. It's an ongoing struggle for them," said Brian Youngberg, an analyst at Edward Jones. "You're always looking to see can any of these companies break away from the pack, and maybe show that they can do a little bit better over time than their peers."

Natural Gas Price Swing Unexplained by Fundamentals, FERC Says

(Bloomberg) -- U.S. natural-gas price swings in the first half of 2008 can’t be explained by fundamentals alone, the staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said.

Norway March oil output falls to 2.15 mln bpd

OSLO (Reuters) - Norway's oil production fell to a preliminary 2.15 million barrels per day on average in March from nearly 2.17 million in February, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate said on Thursday.

Production of natural gas liquids (NGL) and condensate fell to a preliminary 348,000 barrels per day in March from 399,000 in February, the directorate said in a statement.

Russia Rearms

Russia's leaders are getting used to cutting budgets this year. As the country sinks deeper into recession — unemployment, according to some estimates, is as high as 12% and the economy is predicted to shrink by about 4.5% in 2009 — the government is slashing spending at most of its ministries. The Energy Ministry's budget is down by 33%, and that of the Transport Ministry by 30%. But there is one hugely expensive project on which President Dmitri Medvedev has vowed to actually increase spending: transforming Russia's creaking Soviet-era defense industry into a modern technological power, and turning the 1.1-million-man Russian army into a leaner but more effective fighting force.

U.K. village may use potholes for speed control

LONDON - Here's a new road repair plan: Don't bother.

Officials in the small English village of Navestock, some 25 miles northeast of London, are considering leaving many of the town's potholes unfilled as a way to bedevil the speeders who zip through town at a breakneck pace.

Economic slump provides tinder for global conflicts: With more people pushed into poverty, the probability of armed rebellions increases around the world.

The new director of the National Intelligence Agency caused something of a stir last month when he warned Congress: "The primary near-term security concern of the United States is the global economic crisis and its geopolitical implications."

On that theme, Hampshire College professor Michael Klare sees the world economic meltdown as already prompting "economic brush fires" around the world and worries whether these could prove "too virulent to contain."

It seems as if the lyrics "trouble, trouble, trouble" from Meredith Willson's "The Music Man" have become too real in today's world.

Last November Robert Zoellick, president of the World Bank Group, noted that the global financial crisis would hit hardest the "poorest and most vulnerable" in the developing world. At that time, Mr. Zoellick calculated another 100 million people around the world had been driven into poverty as a result of soaring food and oil prices. These prices have eased. Nonetheless, hundreds of millions in poor nations must try to balance household budgets on incomes of $2 a day or less.

Oil Unlikely to Surpass First-Quarter Levels, Says BP

(Bloomberg) -- BP Plc, Europe’s second-largest oil company, doesn’t expect crude prices to trade much higher than levels seen in the first quarter.

Prices are unlikely to be “much firmer” because of the global slowdown, Chief Executive Officer Tony Hayward told an annual meeting of shareholders today.

US Interior Sec Weighs in on Offshore Drilling in Alaska

Gov. Sarah Palin told the new secretary of Interior on Tuesday that Alaska needs new offshore oil and gas development or risks an early shutdown of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline.

"Once that line shuts down, it will mean the end of oil production on the North Slope," Palin said, adding that plans for a new pipeline to carry natural gas to Lower 48 markets are at stake, too.

China, Kazakhstan Sign $10 Billion Loan-for-Oil Agreements

(Bloomberg) -- China, the world’s second-biggest energy consumer, will lend $10 billion to Kazakhstan in return for a stake in an oil producer in the Central Asian country.

Holly to Buy Sunoco’s Tulsa Refinery for $65 Million

(Bloomberg) -- Holly Corp., the owner of oil refineries in Utah and New Mexico, will buy Sunoco Inc.’s plant in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for $65 million to increase output more than 60 percent.

Petro-Canada to Cut 200 Employees on Stalled Oil-Sands Project

(Bloomberg) -- Petro-Canada, the Canadian oil company being being acquired by Suncor Energy Inc. for C$18.8 billion ($15.6 billion), plans to fire about 200 employees working on its stalled Fort Hills oil-sands project.

Between 50 and 100 contractors working on the project will also be cut, Ken Hall, a spokesman for Petro-Canada, said today in a telephone interview. The Calgary-based company shelved the C$25.3 billion oil-sands mining and refining project in November because of rising costs and plunging oil prices.

Cheap Gas? Try $1 a Tank

Last month I paid a brief visit to Venezuela. Aside from the glorious, 80 degree weather, the most astonishing thing about the country is the rock-bottom price of gas.

It cost $1 — including tip — to fill up the Subaru Forester that my hosts were driving. Just to repeat: that’s $1 for a tank!

Energy Stocks Experience Difficult First Quarter

The S&P 500 Index experienced an 11.7% loss for the first quarter of 2009 while the index's Energy sector generated a slightly worse quarterly performance with a 12.1% loss. Of the S&P 500's ten industry sectors, only Technology produced a positive investor return for the first three months of 2009. In looking at the first quarter performance of the industry sectors, it is noteworthy how many of the sectors generated fairly similar returns. While Technology generated positive return, the Materials sector was close with only a 2.8% loss for the quarter. At the other end of the spectrum, Financials and Industrials each reported greater than 20% losses. Of the remaining six sectors, three produced almost exactly the same results of 8.5% losses while the balance of the sectors, including Energy, had losses ranging from 11.3% to 12.1%. The quarterly results were helped considerably by a strong and positive market environment in the closing weeks of the quarter.

Kepco feels the crunch of Koreans using less power

As Koreans are using less electricity due to the global economic slump, Korea Electric Power Corp., the supplier of almost all of the country’s electricity, has posted on-year losses for the first quarter this year, on top of its record loss in 2008.

Israel faces nationwide blackout over Electric Corp. sanctions

The Israel Electric Corporation is planning to cut power across the country for an hour on Thursday, and has implored consumers to reduce general use of energy-guzzling electrical appliances such as washing machines, ovens, driers and dishwashers.

The IEC said that due to employee sanctions, its generating capacity has been reduced to only 6,300 megawatts - exactly the demand level forecasted for the evening hours.

Facing down supply-chain threats

A series of ongoing and increasingly more volatile threats across many fronts will face global supply chains and the trucking networks that support them in the years ahead-- ranging from high fuel prices and a capacity shortage to cargo theft, terrorism, and the impact freight transportation has on the environment.

The key to containing Iran's nuclear ambitions is at the gas pump

Despite its prominence as a major oil exporter, Iran has significant energy vulnerabilities. Due to limited refining capabilities, it depends on gasoline imports for 40% of its domestic consumption. Iran is, in fact, the second-largest importer of gasoline in the world, behind only the United States.

Iran’s gasoline imports are vulnerable: Tehran relies primarily on five companies for its gasoline supplies: Vitol (Switzerland/Netherlands), Trafigura (Switzerland/Netherlands), Reliance Industries (India), Glencore (Switzerland) and Total (France). Washington and Ottawa should give these companies a choice between providing gasoline to Iran’s relatively small domestic market and gaining access to North America.

Unsure of Saturn’s Fate, Dealerships Are Closing

DETROIT — Saturn, one of three brands that General Motors plans to drop, has been running ads that tell skittish car shoppers, “We’re still here.”

But Saturn is getting harder to find. One of the company’s largest dealers shut down four of his six Saturn stores in Wisconsin on Wednesday. After Thursday, Saturn will no longer be in Corpus Christi, Tex. And forget about buying a new Saturn anywhere near Kansas City, Mo., or in any of the 45 cities across the United States where Saturn dealers have closed this year.

For Young Japanese, It’s Back to the Farm

“This is harder than it looks,” said Tatsunori Kobayashi, a spiky-haired janitor from Tokyo Disney Resort, as he tromped through a mustard spinach patch with a seed planter, irregular furrows stretching out behind him.

He is part of Japan’s 2,400-strong Rural Labor Squad, urban trainees dispatched to the countryside under a pilot program to put Japan’s underemployed youth to work tilling its farms.

John Michael Greer: Some Advice for Distributists

One of the pitfalls that lies in the path of those who try to gauge the outlines of the future in advance, and swallows no small number of them, is the assumption that today’s popular beliefs and assumptions are a good guide to tomorrow’s. Sometimes, to be sure, this turns out to be the case, and some widespread opinion or other remains glued in place for decades or centuries – though this usually happens to opinions that most sensible people think will soon be abandoned. More often, though, there’s no belief less popular at any given time than the most firmly held convictions of the recent past.

The end of consumerism

Right now there is a terrifying vacuum of values, vision and leadership in our political discourse and from our politicians. And it’s hard for business to do the right thing when it’s designed to make money and little else, and when the market is set up so perversely. Our politicians are (to borrow a phrase from the wonderful Thomas Homer-Dixon) like drunk drivers in the fog. Harvard Professor John Quelch’s 2008 study Too Much Stuff says: ‘The mass consumption of the 1990s is fast fading in the rearview mirror. Now a growing number of people want to declutter their lives and invest in experiences rather than things’.

And Jeremy Paxman has told us that we are witnessing the ‘end of capitalism’. Our current form of corporate-consumer-capitalism has been shown to be what many of us knew it was: a fundamentally flawed system.

BLIND SPOT: Save A Planet and Live On It!

Hundreds of responses poured into my computer concerning the movie documentary, BLIND SPOT. It’s amazing how millions can look at a steam locomotive bearing down on them and continue walking on the tracks away from the train so they won’t see it when it runs over them.

And so we find ourselves in our own Blind Spot as a civilization. Since it’s not happening to us right now, such as Hurricane Katrina hasn’t reached shore yet, so we continue building sand castles on the beach.

How civilisation will collapse - and when

In Future Scenarios, Holmgren leaves little doubt that the twin threats of climate change and peak oil (in fact, peak energy, because other fossil fuels will run out too) will have a revolutionary effect on the way we live.

Gas shortage And the changes are coming sooner than expected - Holmgren points to a comprehensive study showing that the amounts of energy needed to extract and refine energy are increasing so fast that by as soon as 2014 the net energy yield from gas in Canada (to name just one major producer) will fall to almost nothing.

"The implications are so shocking that the naive and simplistic idea that we are running out of oil and gas (rather than just peaking in production) may be closer to the truth than even the most pessimistic assesments of peak-oil proponents a decade ago."

Also: Excerpt from the book

We are six years away from an energy crisis

For the past two decades we have had ample reserves to absorb the shocks: now the margins are beginning to wear thin. Many of the existing power stations were built in the 1970s or earlier. All the coal-fired stations are more than 30 years old, as are most of the nuclear ones. They are all coming to the end of their lives and their reliability is inevitably beginning to suffer. Although significant numbers of gas power stations have been added, North Sea gas and oil supplies have been depleted at breakneck speed. After decades as an energy exporter, Britain now relies increasingly on imports of gas and coal.

Fast-forward to 2015 and the energy position could be precarious. By then the remaining coal power stations will be facing closure because of the pollution control requirements of the EU directive on large combustion plants. By then all except one of the existing nuclear stations will also be closed or facing closure. Having to replace so much coal and nuclear capacity in such a short period is unprecedented - except perhaps in wartime.

OPEC sees 'devastating contraction' in oil demand

OPEC again revised down its estimate for world crude demand on Wednesday, saying a "devastating contraction" in consumption would keep prices under pressure in the months ahead.

"In the coming months, the market is expected to remain under pressure from uncertainties in the economic outlook, demand deterioration and the substantial overhang in supply," the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries wrote in its latest monthly report.

Sandstorm puts stop to Kuwait exports

Opec member Kuwait halted crude and oil product exports this morning due a sandstorm and bad weather, a spokesman for state refiner Kuwait National Petroleum Company (KNPC) said.

Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia had no interruptions in its crude flow from its main terminal in Ras Tanura, a shipping agent told Reuters.

BP says produced just over 4 mln barrels a day in Q1

LONDON (Reuters) - BP produced just over 4 million barrels of oil per day in the first quarter of 2009, the company's chief executive said on Thursday.

Gazprom Sets Up LNG Marketing, Shipping Unit, Lloyds List Says

(Bloomberg) -- OAO Gazprom set up a unit to market liquefied natural gas and manage shipments of the fuel, Lloyds List reported, citing the company.

Gazprom has set up Gazprom Global LNG and the company may need as many as 20 vessels for its LNG venture in Shtokman in the Barents Sea, the trade daily said. The marketing unit has contracted two vessels for spot cargo deliveries, according to the report.

Woodside, Aboriginals, State Reach LNG Access Accord

(Bloomberg) -- Woodside Petroleum Ltd., Western Australia and Aboriginal landowners in the state’s far northwest reached a land-access accord that allows development of a natural-gas export hub, said Premier Colin Barnett.

About 90 percent of landowners representing Aboriginal communities in the region voted today in favor of an offer from the state, the federal government and Woodside, giving the company access to James Price Point to build the hub, the Western Australia premier said today in an e-mailed statement.

Gazprom May Sell Russia’s 1st Dollar Bond for 9 Months Tomorrow

(Bloomberg) -- OAO Gazprom, Russia’s gas export monopoly, may complete its planned sale of as much as $2 billion as soon as tomorrow, according to a banker involved in the deal.

The 10-year issue with the option for investors to redeem the notes after three years would be the first by a Russian company in dollars since July and may pave the way for other borrowers to sell foreign debt. Gazprom, Russia’s largest corporate, was already the first company to issue foreign- currency bonds this year with its 500 million Swiss-franc ($436 million) sale of 9 percent two-year notes earlier in April.

Disused oil rig in Gulf of Mexico to be converted into luxury hotel

Architects want to build more than 300 individual rooms on the deck of the rig and mount wind turbines onboard to provide power.

Guests to the spectacular rig resort will be able to relax at the hotel's on-deck beach or soak up the rays in the sunbathing areas.

Obama should shift focus
 to interdependence on oil

When President Obama attends the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago this week, he will have an opportunity to address one of the most pressing issues on his policy agenda — energy.

Yet, as the economic crisis absorbs most of his administration’s attention, lower oil prices make alternative energy sources look costlier and U.S. oil demand remains fairly solid despite the recession, an unfortunate reality is setting in. Oil imports, like it or not, will remain a substantial part of the U.S.’s energy base for decades to come.

But there is also good news. The Summit of the Americas provides a forum for Obama to shift focus from energy independence to a more practical and even a more desirable goal — energy interdependence.

Renewable energy’s environmental paradox

WASHINGTON - The SunZia transmission line that would link sun and wind power from central New Mexico with cities in Arizona is just the sort of energy project an environmentalist could love — or hate. And it is just the sort of line the Interior Department has been tasked with promoting — or guarding against.

If built, the 460-mile line would carry about 3,000 megawatts of power, enough to avoid the need for a handful of coal-fired plants and to help utilities meet mandated targets for use of renewable fuel. "We have to connect the sun of the deserts and the winds of the plains to places where people live," Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said recently.

But the line would also cross grasslands, skirt two national wildlife refuges and traverse the Rio Grande, all habitat areas rich in wildlife. The graceful sandhill crane, for example, makes its winter home in the wetlands of New Mexico's Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, right next to the path of the proposed power line. And much of the area falls under the protection of the Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

Government challenges firms to build better batteries

WASHINGTON — The nation's spies and soldiers need new batteries — smaller, longer-lived batteries — and the government is investing tens of millions of dollars in companies that are trying to create them.

Today's intelligence and military missions rely more and more on high-tech gadgetry, such as remote communications and surveillance systems. As a result, the government's investments in companies that develop batteries and other portable, long-duration power sources have skyrocketed.

Much of the bankrolling is being done through companies set up by the government to invest in businesses that are developing technology with national security applications.

PROMISES, PROMISES: Plug-in cars goal hard to hit

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama's campaign pledge to put 1 million plug-in hybrid cars on the road by 2015 is fraught with difficulties, from technical and engineering hurdles to the realities of the economy and the price of gasoline.

It took eight long years to get 1 million hybrids on the road in the United States, and even a White House task force says one of the leading new plug-in cars being developed is too expensive to gain popularity any time soon.

First Solar to build Nevada photovoltaic plant

NEW YORK – Solar manufacturer First Solar Inc. said Wednesday it will build the largest photovoltaic power plant in the U.S. near an existing facility in Nevada.

Tempe, Ariz.-based First Solar said the 48-megawatt plant will produce power for roughly 30,000 homes. It will be added to the existing 10-megawatt El Dorado plant run by Sempra Generation in Boulder City, Nev., about 40 miles southeast of Las Vegas.

Fort Collins Clean Energy Conference hosts RFK Jr.

Anita Burke of the Catalyst Institute was the first speaker of the evening. Burke, a physicist and eighteen year veteran of Shell International, opened by offering that she had worked in the “bowels of the oil and gas industry” and was appearing to provide some context to globe’s environmental crisis. According to Burke, the Earth is guaranteed a four degree rise in temperature, “even if we ‘full stop’ producing carbon today.” She offered a definition of peak oil –the point at which maximum petroleum extraction is reached, after which production begins terminal decline – and maintains the oil and gas industry is near or at this mark. Burke then presented a quick succession of slides that demonstrated an explosion of global consumption since 1950, from oil to international tourism to paper to the number of McDonalds restaurants. For Burke, this pattern of consumption is leading to “peak everything” and requires bold action, including the elimination of automobiles, stabilization and reduction of the population, an immediate 80% reduction in carbon emissions, and the construction of dykes on our shores reaching two meters above sea level. While predicting a certain level of ecological catastrophe in the coming years, Burke maintains that as a country we are “on the precipice of making elegant choices.”

Raising technical questions

Some argue that these kinds of knowledge systems, arising out of direct experience with the land and the intergenerational communication of lifeways, are in fact devalued and threatened by the machine-based model of the mind associated with the rise of digital technology. C.A. Bowers’ thought-provoking article, “Using Computers in Native American Classrooms: Trojan Horse or Cultural Affirming Technology?” looks at these issues in more depth.

Others might claim that our relationship with devices like “Sixth Sense” is the modern equivalent of Inuit mapping, helping us navigate the reality we have created now that we don’t live in the kinds of landscapes traditional people inhabited. I would point out that huge portions of the globe still live in something more like the “ancient world,” and only cheap and abundant fossil fuel has enabled us to pretend that we don’t. And who knows how long we can keep it up. We’ve simultaneously created the conditions for global warming and peak oil while losing many of our basic, self-reliance skills. Try as we might to build our bubble of convenience, we still, body and soul, need the planet from which we have sprung, and it needs our care. Dependence on an Internet connection won’t get us everywhere we need to go.

Nigeria fines Shell for oil spill

LAGOS (AFP) – Nigeria fined Anglo-Dutch petroleum giant Shell one million naira (6,800 dollars, 5,100 euros) for failing to clean up an oil spill within reasonable time, a company official said Wednesday.

Across the United States, Waters in Crisis

WASHINGTON (OneWorld.net) - Over the last years, up to 60 percent of lakes, rivers, streams, and drinking water sources across the United States have lost crucial environmental protections at the hands of polluters, developers, and the U.S. Supreme Court.

"Without immediate action in Congress, a generation of progress in cleaning up our nation's waters may be lost," says a new report by seven U.S.-based environmental advocacy groups.

Rosneft cuts flare deal with World Bank

The World Bank has signed a deal with Russian oil producer Rosneft to cut flaring by making use of gas from the Komsomolskoye oilfield rather than flaring it off, Rosneft said.

Rosneft will cut the equivalent of 5.3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions in 2008-2012, which can then be sold as carbon offsets, under the Kyoto Protocol, to European countries trying to meet climate targets.

London’s Smoky Outskirts Probed for Moving CO2 to Sea

(Bloomberg) -- National Grid Plc is investigating piping greenhouse gases released by power plants and refineries near London to undersea storage sites so they won’t add to global warming.

The manager of Britain’s natural gas-delivery network found the Thames Estuary may be suitable for laying pipelines to move carbon-dioxide gas toward depleted offshore wells, Director of Network Operations Chris Train said in an interview. In the north, the Teesside industrial hub also is being considered.

Australia launches 'clean coal' institute

CANBERRA (AFP) – Australia has launched what it described as a major initiative to develop clean coal technology, saying it could play a major role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said the Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute's launch showed Australia was facing up to its responsibilities as the world's largest coal exporter.

Third-World Stove Soot Is Target in Climate Fight

While carbon dioxide may be the No. 1 contributor to rising global temperatures, scientists say, black carbon has emerged as an important No. 2, with recent studies estimating that it is responsible for 18 percent of the planet’s warming, compared with 40 percent for carbon dioxide. Decreasing black carbon emissions would be a relatively cheap way to significantly rein in global warming — especially in the short term, climate experts say. Replacing primitive cooking stoves with modern versions that emit far less soot could provide a much-needed stopgap, while nations struggle with the more difficult task of enacting programs and developing technologies to curb carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels.

Organizers call regional emissions plan a success

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – Organizers and participants in the nation's only working cap-and-trade program for carbon emissions called the fledgling attempt to reduce greenhouse gas emissions a success Wednesday.

Russia keeps to Kyoto levels

Russia's greenhouse gas emissions rose by 0.3% in 2007, but even with the increase the nation is still keeping to its Kyoto commitment, data submitted to the United Nations shows.

Emissions edged up to 2.192 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2007 from 2.185 billion in 2006, according to official figures filed to the UN Climate Change Secretariat in Bonn.

‘Catastrophic’ Sea-Level Rise Possible, Reef Reveals

(Bloomberg) -- Fossilized coral reefs formed the last time the Earth was warmer than today show sea levels could rise rapidly by the end of the century if global warming triggers a collapse of ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica.

A “catastrophic” rise in the ocean of 4 meters to 6 meters (13 feet to 19.6 feet) is possible, said Paul Blanchon, a scientist at the National University of Marine Sciences in Cancun, Mexico, whose team studied the fossilized reefs. The death and re-emergence on higher elevation of reefs 121,000 years ago could only result from a rapid increase in ocean levels caused by the breakdown of ice sheets, he said.

Here's this week's EU natural gas storage figures presented in the form of wording used by the EIA.

Week 15 (13-April)
Working gas in storage was 436 Bcf (12460 mcm) as of Monday, April 13, 2009, according to GSE estimates. This represents a net increase of 39 Bcf (1118 mcm) from the previous week. Stocks were 290 Bcf (8277 mcm) lower than last year at this time.

Total EU storage now 25%, (last year 42%)

Lowest Regions: France/Italy 18%/16% (32%/34% last year)


Storage appears to have bottomed out for the year and storage increased in all regions. Refill rates over the next month need to be watched closely. Gazprom production has shown a slight increase in recent days. Latest daily production figures show total Russian production up by about 70 mcm/day since the start of the month (but still well down on last year) and this is likely reflected in the storage figures. The UK's South Hook LNG terminal appears to have completed startup operations and is now supplying gas to the network according to flow data from National Grid. Exports have also increased from the UK to Europe in recent weeks and this is likely made possible by the increased level of LNG imports.

UK LNG Terminals - last 24 hours

Undertow, do you have a source for UK BNP historical prices and futures data? I have google'd all over but cannot seem to find one. It must be my US blindspot acting up....


There's this chart from Bloomberg for current and historical. Not sure of source for futures data although I'm sure I've seen it somewhere.

Click "Charts" at the link for the full interactive chart app.

Thanks! If you come across the futures data, could you send me a note (email in profile). Cheers!

Found the futures data at ICE UK Natural Gas Futures (Monthly) https://www.theice.com/productguide/productDetails.action?specId=910

Following on from discussions yesterday, experiments in locally sourced produce, scottish style:

The Fife Diet - Part 1
The Fife Diet - Part 2

(BTW, its scottish, expect some swearing)

Just saw part 1 and I'll say it's a lot like that trying to eat local in Boulder. No processed foods are made from local ingredients (even bread, though we are in North America), and you have to think way ahead if you want to have staples at home (eggs, milk, cheese, flour). Finally, in the summer you are stocking up for half the year in addition to your weekly needs, so you feel like a forager, several hours per week sourcing your needs for canning, dehydrating, and freezing, and then finding time to do it all. Finding food, just becomes a central activity, rather than something you do at the McD's drivethrough.

It will be an enormous transformation, but in addition to being "inconvenient", it is great fun and you meet awesome farmers and other eccentric locavores.

At an Age for Music and Dreams, Real Life Intrudes

Ms. Clay is a child of her age and place, worried about being laid off, uninterested in and maybe even afraid of imagining a life beyond central Ohio. Newark is what she knows: a pleasant, bifurcated city of 45,000, where concerns about unemployment temper the pride in local public art, and where affluence and poverty sit side-by-side in the classroom.

She once explored the idea of going away to college to become a music teacher. But it just didn’t seem practical: spending four years studying the theory of music, which doesn’t interest her, while here in Newark, the school system is constantly adapting to real and threatened cuts.

Music programs always seem among the first to go, she says. No job security in Tchaikovsky.

So she is maintaining high grades, playing in the orchestra, working 35 hours a week as a Sonic Drive-In carhop, paying $345 a month for the small apartment she shares with an unemployed boyfriend — and planning to study nursing for two years at a technical college in Newark.

“Everybody gets sick,” she says, plotting her future.

General Growth files for bankruptcy protection

General Growth Properties Inc, the second largest U.S. mall owner, filed for bankruptcy protection on Thursday in one of the biggest real estate failures in U.S. history.

The amount at risk is reported to be 39 billion. There will be more such failures and the impact of these will be greater than subprime. Get ready for TARP II and TARP III.


It seems like commercial property loans are likely to be in for a lot of problems.

It is my understanding that many commercial property loans have to be refinanced every few years. If the value of the property has dropped, this will cause a problem, because the amount of the loan to be refinanced may be too high relative to the property value.

Another issue is the availability of other buyers. Who do you sell a mall to, that cannot make enough revenue to cover its mortgage payments? Who do you sell a church building to, if its contributions are not enough to cover the mortgage plus its other expenses?

I am not familiar with regular refinancing on an annual or semi-annual basis. What is typical is a contract clause that specifies a minimum Loan To Value (LTV).

If the value of the property drops below that threshold then the property owner must pony up funds and pay down the loan so that it again meets the contracted minimum LTV. Since commercial property is valued against its cash flow, the owner will already be hurting due to tenant vacancies and reduced rents. In the current environment the lack of generally available credit may make it much more difficult to arrange any alternate financing. And you are correct that there are unlikely to be buyers for distressed property at least until there are strong signs of a recovery being in place.

Investors will sometimes take on CRE that doesn't cash flow - IF the property has excellent prospects for price appreciation within a reasonable time period. I very much doubt that most shopping malls fit that criterion.

I didn't mean on a refinancing on an annual or semi-annual basis. I meant that the loan terms are not good for the entire thirty years, or whatever. After five years, or some such time, there is a renegotiation on some loans.

According to this story, BPs Thunder Horse in the Gulf of Mexico has ramped up to 300,000 barrels a day in March, from 200,000 barrels a day in February.

US production is shown as about 5,480,000 barrels per day. Without significant additions, I was expecting something in the 4,900,000 to 5,000,000 range. Does anyone know what else is increasing? When I visited the Shell's Brutus platform, Shell was talking about using some secondary recovery methods to try to get GOM production up. Could that be what is happening?

To put the increase in perspective, and taking the weekly estimates at face value, the US is back to the production rate that we had in April, 2005. In any case, the more meaningful metric is probably the year over year change in annual production, and the problem of course with extrapolating the recent uptick is that the primary contributer, as you noted, is production from quick to peak and decline deepwater discoveries. There is also some contribution from the Bakken.

I haven't studied the weekly oil production estimates, but I thought they would be fairly reliable. Don't they come from the same sources as the monthly?

In addition to Thunder Horse, Blind Faith and Atlantis have recently come on line. The total production of these three is almost 500 kb/d. Another 100 kb/d platform is starting to ramp up now but I have misplaced that link.

Several companies are active in the GOM but they are slowing down now. Most active projects were started several years ago. Here is a list of active rigs from 2007. I don't know how many of them are still active. Rigs active in deepwater Most of them are obviously gas rigs.

The link is from this 2008 report: Offshore Gulf of Mexico It is a report of expected non-OPEC growth. Of their list of expected growers, Brazil leads the list but their production is not expected to grow at nearley the rate projected last year. Only the US is expected to grow as projected because of GOM projects started three or four years ago.

Azerbaijan has already stated that they expect little or no growth this year. Sudan is still growing slightly. All the others seem to be shrinking rather than growing.

Ron P.

It sounds like the sites you list may explain quite a bit of the increase. Thanks!

don't know gail, nd is not doing it's part ?

november '08 (all time high) - 215,642 bopd
february '09...................191,542
february '05....................92,511


Well, so much for the "New Physics," i.e., the previously unknown branch of science that stated that it was possible to to obtain 100% recovery factors from a near zero permeability producing formation, but hope springs eternal. Perhaps the efforts to repeal the Laws of Thermodynamics will be successful.

A good example for 'the man in the street' of the fact that all oil is not equal - adequate flows from tight rock will be very slow and expensive.

maybe leanan will give me a new username:

noofizx d. bunker

Repo man is BACK...

Foreclosure filings jump 24%
March and first-quarter total filings were the highest monthly and quarterly totals on record.

Foreclosure activity skyrocketed in March and the first quarter of 2009 to their highest levels on record as banks lifted moratoria on filings.

Total foreclosure filings - which include default papers, auction sale notices and repossessions - reached 803,489 in the first quarter, according to a report released Thursday by RealtyTrac, on online marketer of foreclosed properties. That is a 24% jump over a year earlier and a 9% increase compared to the previous quarter.

Of those filings, 341,180 happened in March - a 17% increase from February and a 46% jump from March 2008.

"In the month of March we saw a record level of foreclosure activity - the number of households that received a foreclosure filing was more than 12% higher than the next highest month on record," said James J. Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac, in a statement.

But hey, we're recovering... Right?

Today, on NPR's Morning Edition radio show they reported that the US government's $300 Billion dollar program to refinance homes (that are at risk of foreclosure) had only one sucessful refinance in all of March 2009.

But hey, we're recovering.

"Of course, there are some who argue that the government should stand back and simply let these banks fail -- especially since in many cases it was their bad decisions that helped create the crisis in the first place," he said. "The truth is that a dollar of capital in a bank can actually result in $8 or $10 of loans to families and businesses, a multiplier effect that can ultimately lead to a faster pace of economic growth."

Obama DOES NOT get it. Many banks loaned out much more then 8-10 on the dollar.

On a side note: "We could have saved tens of millions of Americans from poverty. The government could have, as consumer activist Ralph Nader has pointed out, started 10 new banks with $35 billion each and a 10-to-1 leverage to open credit markets"


Obama DOES NOT get it. Many banks loaned out much more then 8-10 on the dollar.

Obama does get it. The major banks are likely insolvent and should be closed and their customers and assets redistributed or sold to well managed banks. This is the process that is being followed with smaller banks that fail.

But the major banks are well connected with government. See an Atlantic Monthly article I posted to yesterdays Drumbeat. Written by a former IMF staffer, he details the links between Wall St and Washington and explains why the process is following a track that rewards irresponsible banksters.

Terry Gross of NPR Fresh Air interviewed the author, Simon Johnson, yesterday.

Here is the link to the page with Podcast (click on Listen Now)

Obama does get it. The major banks are likely insolvent and should be closed and their customers and assets redistributed or sold to well managed banks. This is the process that is being followed with smaller banks that fail.

No, they should nationalise the whole freaking mess, jail the bastards who ran it all into the ground, and disband the Federal Reserve.

But hey, we're recovering... Right?

Listen to the man,

President Obama said Tuesday that recent stimulus measures "are starting to generate signs of economic progress," but more tough times are ahead.

That's like hearing a weather forecast: sunny with cloudy periods, possibility of thunder showers.

The big O's not saying it won't rain on anyone's parade:-)

If the economy is like a weather event,
The small waves have hit this year, and the 100 foot tall tsunami will hit next year.
The problem is that everyone is still on the coast waiting for the row boat to arrive.
They do not see the big wave yet......And they are not running from the coast either......

Foreclosure activity skyrocketed in March and the first quarter of 2009 to their highest levels on record as banks lifted moratoria on filings.

Not like the banks care anyway...

Folks losing homes dial 1-800; no one answers

Megan Cavallari looks up from her stack of hundreds of faxes and documents, proof of her efforts to try to save her home from foreclosure. She's been on hold for over an hour, trying to get details for a loan modification.

Finally, she's transferred to another line. But she doesn't get a human. Exasperated, she sighs. Once again, it's the "automated lady."

"Every report says the banks are helping, and everything on the radio says they're helping," Cavallari said. "You call and call and call; you're not getting a voice. You're getting a recording."...

The entire ordeal has been draining, especially trying to reach somebody at the bank. "You call them. After being on the phone with them, they send you to an automated lady. [Then] they send you to a Web site after you've been on the phone for an hour."

Don't call us, we'll call you...

In the past the bank originating the loan held that loan on its books until repayment.

One aspect of the current financial problem is that banks ceased to hold loans. Instead the regional banks sold the loans to Wall St banks. The Wall St banks then packaged a large number (from several hundred to several thousand) of mortgage loans into Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS) and sold these MBS to investors around the world.

The problem the homeowner now has is that the owner of her mortgage is not known. If it was her local bank she could walk in and request a loan modification and they would likely work something out. It is less expensive for the bank to modify the loan terms and keep the customer paying than it is to take possession of the property through foreclosure and be faced with all the costs of maintenance and resale.

But since the ownership structure is so clouded with layers of paperwork (some of which may belong to closed or merged entities) no one is able to assist the owner and provide a loan modification even is such modification is in the best interests of both the lender and the borrower.

This also provides an explanation for the growth in credit. If I can lend you money and then immediately sell the loan to a third party for a fat fee why should I concern myself with your ability to repay the loan? If you default that will be some else's headache - I already have my money.

The Wall St banks were hungry for loans to package into MBS. They made more money as they sold the MBS on. They were not terribly worried about the risk of default as their quants had devised cleaver schemes to eliminate the risk. So they leveraged themselves at 40 to 1 and now that leverage is working in reverse.

So, ironically the fact that they're packaged is contributing to their default... For instance, Megan Cavallari in the original story wants to refinance and keep her home (and pay the mortgage) which would be the best outcome for the owner of the MBS and for Ms. Cavallari. But because it is in an MBS, she can't refinance, she will lose her home, and the owner of the MBS is out the money...

The whole point of an MBS was to distribute risk, but apparently it is actually creating it.

You are correct.

The other interesting aspect is that when the owner defaults and departs the property the actual owner ie the mortgage holder, is not known. So the municipality is stuck with an eyesore and no knowledge of the legal owner.

On top of this, some owners have been sent default notices despite the fact they had been making payments. The party servicing the loan was not forwarding the money to the correct party or was keeping the payments for themselves. Capital Risk has also detailed times when the Wall St owner of a foreclosed property has dumped it on the market and sold it for a price tens of thousands below the current depressed market price. The Wall St banks were not expecting to have to take ownership of foreclosed properties, they were not anticipating any foreclosures and do not have the internal processes to manage and dispose of REO.

"...and the owner of the MBS is out the money..."

well not completely. i would submit that in the below case, the looser is the us treasury and local property tax payer.

sales date: 8-19-08
seller: nationwide advantage mortgage co.
buyer: federal national mortgage assoc.(fnma)
price: $ 104,900

same property.

sales date: 12-16-08
seller: fnma
buyer: private individual(forclosure auction)
price: $ 45,000

and to add insult to injury the assessor chose the $104,900 as the representative sales price and ignored the $45,000. the assessed value for property tax purposes in this county is based on "representative" comparable sales in the local neighborhood during the past 2 yrs. if these assessed values seem low, realize this is a very modest house in a small midwest city.

our brilliant tax assessor assigned a value of $91,700 for this hovel.

And the scamming is still going on.

I do not like them, Sam I Am.
I do not like green eggs and SPAM...

Spam 'produces 17m tons of CO2'
A study into spam has blamed it for the production of more than 33bn kilowatt-hours of energy every year, enough to power more than 2.4m homes.

The "Carbon Footprint of e-mail Spam Report" estimated that 62 trillion spam emails are sent globally every year.

This amounted to emissions of more than 17 million tons of CO2, the research by climate consultants ICF International and anti-virus firm McAfee found.

ICF say that spam filtering would reduce unwanted spam by 75%, the equivalent to taking 2.3 million cars off the road.

I do not like it in my box.
I do not want to read of Cox.*
I do not like them in a Mac.
Please, oh please, send it back!

(*Study: Viagra spam is profitable, but margins are tight.)

whew...I thought you were referring to that pink quivering meat in a blue can sitting alone on a shelf. I love that stuff.

Motorists will be offered subsidies of up to £5,000 to encourage them to buy electric or plug-in hybrid cars under plans announced by the government

LONDON (BBC NEWS) - It is part of the government's £250m plan to promote low carbon transport over the next five years. But ministers do not expect eligible cars to hit the showrooms until 2011. The car industry welcomed the plan, but critics said the government needed to invest more in places to recharge the vehicles and in public transport. The strategy includes plans to provide £20m for charging points and other necessary infrastructure.

I am still in love with Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren Makes Jon Stewart Feel Better On Daily Show

We start[ed] pulling the threads out of the regulatory fabric and what's the first thing we get: we get S+L crisis," Warren said. "Seven hundred financial institutions fail. Ten years later what do we get? Long Term Capital Management, where we learn that when something collapses in one place in the world it collapses everywhere else. Early 2000s we get Enron, which tells us the books are dirty. And what is our repeated response? We just keep pulling the threads out of the regulatory fabric. So we have two choices, we are going to make a big decision, probably over about the next six months. And the big decision we are going to make is going to go one way or another. We are going decide, basically, hey we don't need regulation. 'You know, it is fine. Boom and bust, boom and bust, boom and bust, and good luck with your 401k.' Or alternatively we are going to say, you know, we are going to [come] out with some smart regulation that is going to adapt to the fact that we have new products and what we are going to have going forward is we are going to have some stability and real prosperity for ordinary folks."

I'm not so sure about the "Or" though...


She's right, however regulation with zero enforcement and negligible penalties for non compliance (the current setup) won't change a thing. All it does is get headlines for grifter politicians. It seems like a lifetime ago when CEOs were going to held responsible for fraudulent misrepresentation and global financial institutions would have increased capital standards. Now the circus will just be expanded, while the SEC will remain a joke (they will nab a few Martha Stewarts)and the Chosen One will be able to work the sheeple.

Obama: Better trains foster energy independence

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama called Thursday for the country to move swiftly to a system of high-speed rail travel, saying it will relieve congestion, help clean the air and save on energy.

Appearing with Vice President Joe Biden and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Obama said the country cannot afford not to invest in a major upgrade to rail travel. He said he understands it necessarily will be "a long-term project" but said the time to start is now.

Why doesn't the Chosen One propose that for every dollar of taxpayer capital allocated to connected financial institutions, one penny should be allocated to high speed rail? That is 130 billion dollars right there-should be enough to lay a few tracks.

Funny moniker you've decided to give him.. since he was actually elected with a majority of votes, he is, in fact.. 'The Chosen One'

But keep sneering, you're making the world a better place.

Hmmm... If he were to lay tracks and people would actually USE rail for transport, he'd raise GDP by reducing FF imports; he'd reduce greenhouse gases; he'd create jobs all over the country and he might even reduce auto accidents (because people will be in trains). Airplanes for the masses are going to be a thing of the past, and trains will be necessary for mass movement of people and goods...

Electrified rail is even better... If you don't have to carry around your energy source in the form of fuel or a combustion engine, more 'power' to you (pun intended).

Didja get that name for Obama right from Rush? Sure sounds like you are a listener. Say hi to him next time you talk, from all us black folks out here in the world comin ta getcha....

I've been a listener for years, Einstein http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U7DFsBcVMDA

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama called Thursday for the country to move swiftly to a system of high-speed rail travel, ...

I never thought I'd here these words from a US president! Even though what he proposes is hopelessly inadequate, it sure sounds better than what Jeb Bush had to say about high-speed rail in Florida.

I kinda wish they weren't so fixated on HighSpeed.. but maybe that's the lipstick that they figure will get the pig paid for. Makes Rail sound futuristic and not like some 'defeatist yesteryear' solution. Whatever it takes to put the conversation into the livingrooms and some new track on the ground is probably a good thing.









-The Right Stuff Phillip Kaufman, 1983 (Oh, yeah, and Tom Wolfe) http://www.angelfire.com/movies/closedcaptioned/rightstuff-s.txt

Don't get suckered by what he says. Watch what he does. Big O is a master of saying one thing and doing the opposite. And way too many people are masters of getting suckered by that. Follow the money.

I was suckered by the Chosen One aka Big O. I thought he was going to save us all but instead he is turning the White House lawn into edible landscape and will be using the army to protect him from the mutant cannibal zombie hordes -- he is obviously in it for himself. Come to think of it, by winning the Presidency, he has prepped much better than anybody else in the U.S. I vote the Chosen One has PO Prepper of the Year.

"O"? He may be disappointing, but I hope you aren't under the mistaken impression that a member of the Keating 5 would have done a blasted thing differently.

The thing that bothers me most is that as near as I can tell, all the third parties out there right now are "pre-compromised".

The MSM is spinning overtime to paint these "tea parties" as nonsense, but the reality is that a rather large % of the American public appears to have finally woken up and realized that basically Goldman, JP Morgan and a few other interests have achieved a high degree of control and whatever puppet is put in the White House is just there for show. IMO Barack Obama is ironically responsible for a lot of this outrage because he is an exceptional salesperson and managed to convince many that he was a man of integrity and a force for positive change. Many say give him more time, but the trend is that his controllers will have totally looted the country before long, so the clock is definitely ticking.

Talk about spin. Aren't you forgetting who set things up, Phil Gramm? Remember, he was the guy that pushed for the repeal of the Glass-Steagall law, which made all this financial mess possible. Gramm was the Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee at the time during a period of Republican control. Later, under Shrub the Second, Gramm worked to pass more free market legislation, which further eroded the regulation of the invetment banking industry and put us on the road to the present crisis. Gramm went on to be John McCain's campaign manager, spreading his message of "free markets", ie, let the finance crowd have their way. Paulson appears to have set the course which Geithner is following, MOL.

President Obama hasn't had much time to do anything. He's been in office less than 3 months...

E. Swanson

The list of grifters is very long and the Democrat/Republican BS has grown thin at this point. Gramm didn't do everything by himself-how about Robert Rubin, Godfather to both Bill Clinton and Obama? Re his time in office, he has not shown any inclination to do anything to stop the looting so the sheer passage of time won't magically fix this one.

An so embrace Nihilism as the politics of choice?

That what I get from the posters who only have mocking scorn for the entire political system.

My 2 cents - ease off on your rantings - its tiresome

It is tempting.

Offer a viable alternative, because it's as easy to say "it's tiresome" as it is to rant in the first place. Standard paths of political action take years, and "the enemy" isn't even a group but rather a mindset that it's easier to avoid seeing the obvious conflicts of interest and corruption around you than to fight it.

Without the rants how is anybody to know what the problem is?

The rants are necessary but not sufficient. We need to find people who can take the rants and do something with them, perhaps something said will resonate with someone already in a position to act. Perhaps somebody with the capability but not the motivation so far will be moved to act.

But if we all stand around shutting up about it none of that will happen, because it's easier to be blind.

" Follow the money. "

following the money will likely lead to the pockets of well connected bush sponsored treasury looting uber-capitalists.

so much of the stuck pig squeeling of late is eminating from those who's ox is being gored, and goose cooked. the "tax protesters" comes to mind.

When you’re flush, but acting flat broke: Even those whose jobs are safe are spending less, which holds down growth

Economists say many still-flush consumers are handcuffed by psychological traps that cause them to tighten their purse strings even though economic hardship is not their reality. Underscoring the crucial role that consumer psychology will play in turning around the economy, President Obama and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke have both been on the hustings this week sounding notes of optimism.

"Traditional economics assumes that we are all rational, that we approach these things very rationally, take in all the information, and then weight it and make a decision," said Thomas Gilovich, a Cornell psychologist and co-director of the university's Center for Behavioral Economics and Decision Research. "To a behavioral economist that seems clearly untrue."

Sounds like people naturally follow the 'E' from ELP in troubled times.

It makes sense, I know that neither my job nor my wife's is particularly secure, so we are planning accordingly even though we might look "flush" to somebody just looking at our income/expense ratios.

Living the Great Recession

Interesting cross-section of America. Some are suffering, some are doing okay, and some - like the gun dealer and the organic gardener - are doing really well.

Europe Industrial Output Drops 18.4%, Most on Record

(Bloomberg) -- Industrial production in Europe contracted by the most on record in February as the deepening global recession curtailed demand for manufactured goods around the world.

Output in the euro region fell 18.4 percent from the year- earlier month, the biggest drop since the data series began in 1986, after a revised 16 percent decline in January, the European Union’s statistics office in Luxembourg said today. Economists expected production to fall 18 percent in February, according to the median of 16 estimates in a Bloomberg survey. Inflation slowed in March to 0.6 percent, a record low, the office said in a separate report.

One of the things that bothers me most about the current state of the financial system is that frugality and not buying junk you don't need is considered bad. Most people seem to accept it as a given that it's good to spend money to "stimulate" the economy. I may have written this before, but any economic system that depends on buying ever increasing amounts of junk needs to end.

And I've long felt that the "rational man" assumption of economic theory is more often wrong than right.

Everybody's doing it; savings rate may soon reach 5%!

tax protests ?


no less of an authority than usa today, the ganett rag of rags. these self righteously indignant ones remind me of the infantile flatulents saying:

"it wasn't me that cut it, it was them "

Riding the It Factor: The Great Downturn may have its first real status symbol

It has plenty in common with recent extravagances. Like the Range Rover or the Sub-Zero fridge, it has a solid frame designed for function. Like a Louis Vuitton trunk, it has a chic design and a patina of history stretching back to the 19th century. And like a bottle of San Pellegrino, it evokes that genteel way of life that Europeans are always going on about.

This new It object is the glossy black Dutch bicycle, its design unchanged since World War II. Increasingly imported to the United States and starting to be seen on the streets of New York (and in the windows of at least one clothing store), it appears to have everything a good craze needs. That includes a hefty price tag — usually between $1,000 and $2,000 — and a charming back story about how the bikes have been an indispensable part of the picturesque Dutch cityscape for decades.

This is a sad commentary:

That includes a hefty price tag — usually between $1,000 and $2,000 —

For the purposes of commuting, you can buy any number of excellent new bikes for a mere $600 to $800, and there are very good new bikes available in the $300-400 range.

There are also some stunning deals to be had for very little money if you are patient and watch Craigslist and eBay.

I would also argue that many of the road bikes in these price ranges provide better pedaling efficiency than the Dutch bike.

I find it absolutely ridiculous to lay out a kilobuck or more for a bike that will spend 95% of its life commuting.

I got a great 7 speed "comfort bike" at Wal-Mart for $65 plus tax. Lightweight, all aluminum frame. Rides great and pedals easy now, wait til I put that 1000watt hub motor on it though.

I hear horror stories about Wal-Mart bikes all the time however. They use cheaper materials that don't hold up as well, or rust out. The people who assemble them don't know what they are doing, and thus things don't work quite right. The bikes are a lot heavier than other bikes. For some people these issues don't matter, I guess.

If I had to buy another bicycle right now, I would consider one of those folding bikes - handy for urban riding where you need to take the thing on the subway..

There is definitely a price/performance optimum for bikes somewhere above Walmart. I maintain a family's worth of bikes (10 + right now), and the Walmart bikes are so cheaply made as to be almost unmaintainable. Walmart style bikes have such cheap components that the bolts and nuts strip at the slightest excuse, wheels cannot be trued because spokes stripk, cheap plastic cracks quickly,etc. When my kids were young I purchased enough bottom-end bikes to decide that any initial savings was quickly lost in the frustration and annoyance resulting from un-repairable crap, soon to be in the landfill.

A used bike from craig's list will usually be much higher quality, less shiny to attract theft, and use parts that can be sourced for years to come. Several of my family's current bikes cost less than $50 from yardsales or craig's list.

"....bolts and nuts strip at the slightest excuse, "

those wouldn't be made in china bolts now, would they ? is it because the chineese don't know how to make steel ? or do know how and make lousy steel anyhow ? or just because 'burban 'merkans are compelled to consume disposable goods, or what ?

rhetorical ?'s all.

New Orleans has quite a few "Katrina bicycles". Immersed in salt water for a week (with the rest of the city). Salvaged by finder (not generally considered theft).

A workman that commutes by bike has a Trek post-Katrina salvage bicycle. As a bonus for his good work, I paid $221 to completely overhaul and put on Schwalbe Marathon tires. A 45 minute commute now takes 30 minutes :-)


Let me asure you that it's worth the price; these bikes are undistructable.

A friend of mine rides one that his father owned since the fifties. That bike is almost 60 years old and the only part that ever was replaced were its' tires.

I'm even going a step further. I snagged a 'classic' Malvern Star of some description (why buy new when old is still good?), and am updating it a bit. It came with a single gear and both foot and hand brakes, so I've pirated some equipment off an old bike with a bent frame that we've had in the shed (how it got bent, I have no idea); I've added a gear casette (4 gears), better hand-operated brakes, and considering a 200W (legal max) electric motor to assist the ride home after work. The mudguards that came with it are great, as they'll keep the road grime and mud off my work clothes.
After I bought the bike, my other halfs father mentioned they had a few bikes in the shed I could have used. I had a look the other day, and talk about a treasure trove!

I found this bit the most interesting:

“I use to think that car culture was the problem, but now I think it’s bike culture,” he said. By that he meant that the discourse about city biking is dominated by cycling zealots who don’t have the desire, or the skill, to attract people who don’t see themselves as cyclists, just as people who ride a bike to work.

A large, heavy bike just doesn't fit into my lifestyle or living space, which is why I'm looking for a folder. But if I had the space, I would be willing to pay extra for a bike that was well-made, durable, and easy to maintain. And I like bikes where you can sit upright. I'm not comfortable leaning over the handlebars. It's a pain in the neck - literally.

The story on Korea caught my eye this morning.

A couple of interesting quotes from that article:

Sales of electricity have been falling steadily this year due to the continuous lack of demand and stunted factory operations following the global economic slowdown.


Meanwhile Kepco is joining the race to secure uranium as concerns emerge about a future shortage of the raw material.

These quotes generated a couple of immediate questions:

  1. What portion of Korea's energy use comes from nuclear power?
  2. Has Korea ever experienced a decrease in energy consumption before.

I'm in the middle of creating a new type of chart for the Energy Export Databrowser that should answer these kind of questions.

Here is an almost finished version of what the chart will look like for Korea.

My question to TOD readers are:

  • Does it answer my original questions?
  • Does it answer other questions you might have about Korea and energy use?
  • Is this graphic self-explanatory?
  • What improvements could you suggest?

I look forward to any feedback.

-- Jon

I love it. In this graph, it's clearly obvious that Korea is highly dependant on oil for energy as their number one source. The discontinuity circa 1997 is interesting, as it coincides with the Asian crisis about then. They apparently made no investment in renewables at all... Post-peak, they will rely on coal and nukes if their pattern of buildout continues.

Very nice graph.


The axis label on the lower right should say "million tons oil equiv. per year".

or if u r being Bushist it should read 'axis of Evil consumption'... :o)

sorry, nice bottle of wine had.


Hi Jon --

Scale seems off on the bottom chart. 100 Mbbls per day exceeds global consumption. I'm guessing the downtick in the 90s was the Asian economic crisis. Interesting that oil took the biggest hit, and hasn't altogether recovered. S. Korea could stand to electrify transport, big-time.

EDIT: Saw your post correcting the units.

At some point, it would be good to examine the uranium production / import issue as well. There seems to be the assumption that since fuel doesn't cost much relative to the cost of nuclear power, it is not important--but it is. Part of current use is from recycled Soviet bombs. This may need to be separately identified.

Gail, Looks like the Koreans are thinking the same thing, Korean Electric Power COrp (KEPCO) is shelling out $95 million Canadian (private stock placement) for market price access to 20% Dennison's U production.



I would say China is hovering like a vulture with Australian uranium. For example Chinalco wants to buy a chunk of Rio Tinto and Minmetals just bought OZ Minerals. They had to omit a copper-gold deposit in the uranium province on the supposed grounds it was a military bomb range. Chinalco, Minmetals and others are not really separate companies but agencies of the Chinese government.

Seems like I'll be joining the rest of ag - and preventive-dose my livestock.


infection with Nosema ceranae. The researchers then treated the infected surviving under-populated colonies with the antibiotic drug, flumagillin and demonstrated complete recovery of all infected colonies.

Still don't trust GMOed pollen. But considering a 90% infection rate - the GMOed stuff might just be pushing the bees over the edge where N. Ceranae kills em.

And now the Purple Martins have not returned here.
They are already a full month overdue.
I visited a neighbor who has many martin houses. He has seen not a single one.

Looking out my window right now I haven't seen but one or two birds of anykind. I rarely see birds anymore.

No industrial sprawl here. No windmills. No big city pollution.

Just no birds. Lots of owls though.

Haven't see a barn swallow either. Last year a few raised inside my barn. Very few.

Something very bad is happening. Call it the canary in the mine.

Its disturbing. Very much so.

Back to your regular broadcasting.

And the CCD did finally hit here in this area of the outback.
Thanks for the link Eric. I am intending to start building my hives. A nuc first ..this summer.I do know of one wild hive I might could capture. Italians.


That storm probably took out a lot of their nesting sites.

Don't know about you Airdale but we are just a week away for hitting 19F here in South Central Kansas and only a few of the bug eaters are back. Haven't seen any martins or swallows my guess is they are still south waiting on the warmer temps. Have seen the flycatchers and some cuckoo's.

Doesn't seem likely, the eastern subspecies nest exclusively in man-made birdhouses.

You don't think manmade birdhouses are as vulnerable as trees to storm damage?

Purple martin houses would come through an ice storm okay, trees would not. Most birdhouses used by serious birders are separate structures on a pole that stand in a cleared area so falling tree limbs and such would not effect them.

Doesn't appear that they are, at least with ice. I grew up where arguably the worst part of the storm was, been there several times since the storm, there's still plenty of martin condos around. There's some down I'm sure, but martin condos seem to have fared much better than the trees and electric poles. Been a few weeks since I was around there, I don't know if the martins are back yet.

The danger of climate change, or Climate Chaos as I call it, is that it changes the various particular conditions for many species, their symbiotic relationships, their food supplies, their water supplies, their competitors.

This WILL eventually affect ALL our food and water supplies as well. Forget melting ice sheets and flooding cities, this is the real danger, and with observations like Airdale's is where it starts.

Lots of people are taking a closer look at phenology, tracking changes in natural cycles. You can participate if you'd like but you can also some really interesting media accounts at this site:

Phenology is the study of recurring plant and animal life cycle events, or phenophases, such as leafing and flowering of plants, maturation of agricultural crops, emergence of insects, and migration of birds. Many of these events are sensitive to climatic variation and change, and are simple to observe and record.

Like this...

...Academy of Science, have found in Thoreau's backyard an evolutionary story of winners and losers.

and this...

Using records collected by an amateur naturalist and habitual hiker named Dave Bertelsen, scientists found that in the Santa Catalina Mountains on the edge of Tucson, the flowering ranges of 93 plant species moved uphill between 1994 to 2003. Average summer temperatures in the region rose 1.8 degrees F over the same period -- so, while no one can say for sure, these findings certainly look like a fingerprint of human-caused climate change.

I am definitely NOT an anthropogenic climate change skeptic. And "things" ARE all connected.

Yes I agree. It was very hot here last week, much hotter than usual, more like mid-May than early April.

All I could think was that the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics had had its way with us, was having, is having its way with us.

Entropy and disorder increasing. Against our will? Are we in on the process or are we merely the victims of the 2nd law, the players strutting on the stage (what is it Shakespeare says?)

Airdale -

Jeez, you sure had me worried there for a moment!

I neglected to put my glasses on and then read, "And now the Purple Martins have not returned here." as 'And now the Purple Martians have not returned here'.

I knew you were a bit stressed out, but upon first reading I thought that you had finally lost it completely. (Though if I indeed happen to see a purple Martian, I will surely apologize.)

I now feel relieved that you are still OK. Whew!

I haven't seen any either.

good to see you around Airdale, come on down to Logan county, we have plenty of birds, lots of hawks, the occasional bald eagle, red breasted robbins, blue jays, cardinals. not sure about the purple martins. haven't really paid attn. the honey bees are all over the blossoms in the yard. They even have a hive in a tree in the front yard. Rabbits galore, wild turkey cross the yard once in a while, and of course coyotes can be heard.

Re: Houston Chronicle article on interdependence on oil. Up top.

It is not surprising that a state like Texas would like the country to continue with oil imports to keep its refineries going, but I have a hard time following the logic of oil interdependence.

The article cites the mismanagement of Mexican oil, the nationalization in Venezuela and the high taxes in Ecuador as reasons for seeking more dependence on these sources of oil! This is to be accomplished is by Obama negotiating for more "interdependence". I am not making this up.

What is it that we have that Mexico et al would want? More debt backed paper? I don't think so.

Interdependence means mutual dependence according to the dictionary.
How is that different from the current situation? We depend on Mexico, Venezuela and Ecuador for some of our oil. Mexico, Venezuela and Ecuador depend on themselves for their oil.

What is this "interdependence" then? Evidently it is pressuring these countries to increase oil output to the benefit of the United States and of course big oil companies, many of which are located in Houston. There is little benefit to the producers since they have all the oil they need already or they would not be exporting. And they can already buy anything they want from the U.S. since they are flush with dollars from oil exports. Clearly we are not going to send these countries any of our oil. That would be silly.

IMO the whole oil interdependence argument is gobbledygook. It is New Speak similar to calling the estate tax a death tax. It is obfuscation for a non policy to counter the ideal of oil independence. It is a delaying tactic to preserve the status quo for those who are benefiting from it and who do not want to acknowledge the Peak Oil dilemma.

Oil independence is an ideal. It is a goal. Goals should be set high and may never be achieved, but that does not mean we should not strive toward them.

I have a question about this quote from the article on Alaskan offshore drilling:

Gov. Sarah Palin told the new secretary of Interior on Tuesday that Alaska needs new offshore oil and gas development or risks an early shutdown of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline.

"Once that line shuts down, it will mean the end of oil production on the North Slope," Palin said, adding that plans for a new pipeline to carry natural gas to Lower 48 markets are at stake, too.

I know Alaskan oil production has been in decline for a while. It sounds like she is saying that there is a risk that production could drop so far that they have to shut the pipeline down, and if that happens, all north shore production would cease. Does anyone know if we are getting close to that scenario actually happening?

Oil and Alaska; The ANWR Controversy

Economics determines a minimum flow rate for TAPS. It depends partly on the price of oil. The minimum flow rate is between 200,000 and 400,000 barrels per day.

The production of NPRA oil is not enough to keep TAPS running and even ANWR oil may not be sufficient. But together, there is probably enough oil production to keep TAPS running until about 2035.

This might be the strongest reason to exploit ANWR now.

I really don't understand how the price of oil figures into the minimum flow rate, perhaps someone else can explain that. Anyway right now the pipeline is carrying about 700,000 barrels per day.

Ron P.

Thanks Ron, that was a clear answer.

I really don't understand how the price of oil figures into the minimum flow rate

One minimum flowrate would be economic, obtaining sufficient revenues to pay for maintenence. There might be another minimum, due to the oil cooling off too much if the flow velocity gets too small (although you could supply external heating, but that becomes a new cost that increases as flow rate decreases). Perhaps someone associated with this (or another similar) project can comment.
This is the first time anything Palin has said actually makes sense.

All North Shore production should cease asap. Close the pipeline, flush it and take it apart for scrap to recycle. Put nits like Palin to work with a torch. It will keep employment up for longer than the oil will run.

Leave ANWR alone, stop drilling and pumping. Stop the madness of more, more, more. Get off the FF drug now. Just shut it down. When are you people going to get it? You are killing everything on the planet with your techno mumbo jumbo.

Juglans, why do most of your posts sound like the rants of a mad man?

The FF drug, as you call it, simply gave us enermous amounts of food. That enabled our population to explode. That is what is killing the planet. If we threw away all technology tomorrow, and simply tried to live off the land, hand farming and bush meat, we would soon strip it of everything except human beings, killing off all large animals and most of the small ones. Then after all megafauna had been destroyed we would start to strip it of human beings.

The problem is in our nature. The blame lies purely with our evolutionary success.

Ron P.

No, the problem is people like you, who support BAU, big government, big taxes, big corporate, BIG, BIG, BIGGER. You, and those like you, that support the oil industry are killing the planet and are guilty of Genocide. Of the whole planet.

Conservation, local production of energy (solar, wind. small hydro,) local distribution, local consumption. Sustainable agri. We could survive in this country with far less than most will admit. And we will soon enough. The oil industry needs to be nationalized yesterday, rationing needs to be implemented asap, severe conservation instituted, and those that oppose it, removed from any position of power or control.

Why is it that someone will not goose step along with those addicted to the drug, are labeled "MAD"? It is MAD to kill a planet full of living creatures as you and so many others support. Wake up.

Seeing as you're using a computer and hanging out on the Internet, I would guess you're just as addicted to fossil fuels as the rest of us.

And can you back off the Nazi references, please? They're needlessly inflammatory.

No, not addicted at all. Far, far from it. Why defend a person guilty of Genocide? You must think the net can only run on FF?

Whether it can or not is immaterial. Right now, the net not only runs on fossil fuels, it's made of fossil fuels. If you're using the net, you're on the drug.

Let me guess, you're not an addict, you can quit any time...

Juglans, I have many fundamental(ist) disagreements with Darwinian but I respect his intelligence and motives; to accuse him of being a defender of BAU and Genocide is frankly stupid and makes me think of you as an agent provocuer. Please desist and try to be more polite to other posters even when you strongly disagree.

This opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times needs a good fisking:

Greenhouse gas rules could fuel oil dependence

It regurgitates the widely debunked claim that

"Recent studies have shown that the amount of fossil fuel needed to make gasoline is nearly twice the amount needed for corn ethanol production, and more than 10 times that for cellulosic ethanol (made from switchgrass and other non-food plants). Further, there is a net reduction in greenhouse gas emissions as a result of using ethanol as fuel."

Re. the top article posted: Food production is frequently discussed as the key area of human endeavor that will need to become sustainable if we are to continue eating.... etc. link

The points about infrastructure are pertinent, and it is not a bad article.

However. Once again our attention is on technology, away from human behavior or its widest manifestation, geo-politics.

Globalization -quote unquote- in OECD countries (US in first place) when popularly decried is so principally in terms of wages or ‘legislation’ such as anti-pollution measures, see, Chinese slaves, outsourcing, loss of manufacturing, etc. a well-know litany; poisonous chicken, sofas, etc.

Much could, has, been said about all this from an energy pov -ex. the energy, principally coal in China, used to produce consumer products, not totted up as US energy use..

A neglected aspect of globalization has been opening up, beyond the usual corporate moves, the buying up of land, land used for agriculture, to anyone, with national protection barriers eliminated or lowered.

Bush and his Patagonian retreat, Jane Fonda and her ranch, are anecdotal examples.

That a private person could buy a chalet, a ranch, a flat, a garden, anywhere is not questioned - if it is impossible, outcry about pesky rules, misguided nationalism, backwardness, ensues.

China, Japan, and most vigorously Saudi Arabia (Korea as well I think but not sure) have been buying up huge tracts of agricultural land in Africa, Indonesia, and elsewhere. No overall nos. or discussion available on the net, that I am aware of.

(> Technology is what is used by the humans on the surface. Whom the land belongs to is a whole other issue.)

So, a patchwork of ownership comes about. Imagine fields in Africa, one part belongs to China, another to Saudi (they fly in workers), and the original inhabitants have no food, not even what they can grow in ‘normal conditions’, and all turns around who owns or pays for necessary infrastructure - water, energy conduits, roads...

A nightmare.

I mention only because it is a neglected topic. Something to watch. The future.

Its more than fields being brought up but whole developments. Big irrigation schemes are being created in Egypt that involve several hundred thousand acres with Saudi money. The new land is in some of the hottest and driest desert imaginable (like Toshka)and involve either drilling ancient aquifers or diverting over allocated Nile flows. At some stage the Ethiopians will start using their water and if the Chinese are involved in the Ethiopian dams (the project will be as big as the Three Gorges and the Chinese have the experience/capital/manpower) then the politics will get interesting.
There is some discussion on the net about various projects. Have seen many countries mentioned including Uganda, Sudan, Laos and Australia as places where land is being purchased or leased. In some cases countries are both invested in and invest in other countries such as Indonesia investing in Australian cattle properties for their live cattle shipments.

gas flaring = carbon offsets?

Using stranded gas in some practical way instead of flaring it doesn't save CO2 unless it displaces other fuel use. However it doesn't create a CO2 reduction so someone else can burn stuff instead. Thus the World Bank is trying hard to make sure emission levels stay as high as always. Recall they paid/bribed Chinese CFC makers $550m to alter their refrigerant gas formula when a couple of million dollars would have paid for the changes. I suggest that department of the World Bank is incompetent.

Another good'un is this Clean Coal Institute. Their line is no need to slow coal burning since CCS must now be inevitable. To me it sounds like somewhere you can mail order gift packs of carbolic scented soap that leaves the skin feeling tingling and fresh.

Whaddayaknow it turns out James Wolfensohn the former World Bank head is now chairman of the Clean Coal Institute.

Obama pushes for high-speed rail

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States will seek to develop high-speed rail nationally, President Barack Obama said on Thursday in emphasizing a broader commitment to U.S. infrastructure investment and a transportation alternative ignored or dismissed by previous administrations but long embraced by Asia and Europe.

"My high-speed rail proposal will lead to innovations that change the way we travel in America," Obama said in announcing the first steps of an ambitious initiative that will tap $8 billion in newly available economic stimulus money through 2012.

Those funds will go to states for upgrading existing passenger rail lines and laying the groundwork for high-speed projects, 10 of which are in various stages of planning in California, the Gulf Coast and other regions.

Awesome. Someone got in his ear! Let's hope it's Electric, for even better performance.

Hope is alive!!! Best news all day. I hope some of those funds find their way here to Denver/Boulder.

Forget the "High Speed" why do we have to keep going "Fast"

Just go "Electric Rail"

There's a previous discussion of this upthread.