Drumbeat: April 24, 2009

US natural gas rig count again hits new 6-year low

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The number of rigs drilling for natural gas in the United States fell 18 to 742 last week, its lowest level in more than six years, according to a report issued Friday by oil services firm Baker Hughes Inc in Houston.

U.S. natural gas drilling rigs have been in a steady decline since peaking above 1,600 in September and now stand about 731 below the same week last year, the lowest level since Feb. 7, 2003, when there were 734 gas rigs operating.

Near record-high gas production last year and a deepening recession that sharply cut demand led to a severe oversupply that collapsed gas prices to about the $3.50 per mmBtu level currently from their peak above $13 last July.

PDVSA struggling to pay debt

Venezuela state-owned PDVSA, plagued by financial problems related to the collapse of oil prices, has paid only about 5% of its outstanding debt to oil service companies and suppliers so far this year.

US company Helmerich & Payne has not received any payment from PDVSA, despite the fact that it halted operations in four platforms.

The company halted four rigs in Venezuela after the expiration of the contracts for 14 drills that the US service company has in the South America country due to a payment dispute. Helmerich intends to continue shutting down rigs as contracts expire.

North Sea companies welcome tax breaks

North Sea oil and gas companies have welcomed new tax breaks in the Budget designed to stimulate investment, which has been battered by falling oil prices and a shortage of finance.

However, some companies in the sector warned that the measures were likely to have only a marginal effect, given the severity of the squeeze on the industry, and have urged the government to go further in future.

Petrobras sets monthly oil record in March

Brazil’s Petrobras has set a new monthly oil production record of 1.99 million barrels per day for the month of March surpassing the previous month of 1.94 million bpd.

The company said the 52,000 bpd difference was mainly from the entrance of new wells in the platforms FPSO Cidade de Niteroi, P-53 (Marlim Leste) and P-54 (Roncador).

Iraq, Syria agree on plan to repair Kirkuk-Banias oil line

Iraq and Syria, following broad-ranging talks between Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki and his Syrian counterpart Mohammed Naji Otri, have agreed on a new plan to repair the bomb-damaged Kirkuk-Banias oil pipeline.

"Discussions led to a strategic agreement in the areas of oil, gas, power, and trade," said Al-Maliki, adding, "The two sides also reached agreement on repairing the pipeline across Syria."

GM to pull the plug on Pontiac

The brand credited with originating the muscle car will not be part of GM's future.

Ford posts $1.4 billion first-quarter loss

DEARBORN, Mich. - Ford Motor Co. reported a first-quarter loss of $1.4 billion Friday and said it used less of its cash, emphasizing that it doesn’t expect to seek any of the government assistance that is keeping the rest of the Detroit Three alive.

The nation’s second-largest automaker said it spent $3.7 billion more than it took in during the first three months of the year, far less than the $7.2 billion it spent in the fourth quarter of 2008.

Jamaican army deployed ahead of tax increase

KINGSTON (Reuters) - Jamaica's government put police and the army on alert to prevent violent demonstrations as it prepared to announce tax increases on gasoline, cigarettes and other consumer items on Thursday.

Police and soldiers were deployed at what the government called "strategic" locations across the Caribbean island to quell any violent protests. Finance and Planning Minister Audley Shaw was expected to announce the tax increases during a budget debate later on Thursday.

Earth Day and the Elephant In the Room

Well, another Earth Day has come and gone. And amid all the articles and blogs, symposia and TV specials about all the things we can do to save the planet, once again it was hard to find any substantive discussion of the single biggest threat to the environment.

Namely, the staggering rise in global population.

San Jose street lights get smarter

With expectations of cutting energy costs up to 40 percent, the city unveils plan for a "smart light" system.

Ivory Coast activists scupper palm oil project

ABIDJAN (AFP) – Ivory Coast's main palm oil company, Palmci, on Friday announced it was abandoning a major plantation scheme in the south of the country after opposition by environmentalists to destruction of a forest.

"Palmci has decided to abandon this project in the face of the refusal of certain NGOs to accept the coexistence of environmental preservation and the development of economic activity," the firm said in a statement.

A Defense of the Incandescent Light Bulb

Howard Brandston, an award-winning lighting designer, has worked on a number of high-profile projects in his career — from a makeover of the Statue of Liberty in the 1980s to helping to develop the nation’s first standards for energy-efficient building design.

Now, amid a growing raft of legislation around the globe aimed at phasing out the standard incandescent light bulb (and in some corners, popular resistance to that idea), Mr. Brandston is stepping out of retirement and into the debate over energy-efficient lighting.

Specifically, Mr. Brandston accuses “energy zealots” of using faulty science to determine the efficiency of light bulbs, and he says that simplistic lumens-per-watt comparisons obscure questions of how well different bulbs do what they’re supposed to do: light up a room.

Blame oil, not banks, for recession

“What was the mechanism by which U.S. problems were supposedly spread to other countries?” Mr. Reynolds asks. “It wasn't by international trade. The dollar value of U.S. imports didn't start to fall until August, 2008, and imports of consumer goods didn't fall until September – many months after Japan and Europe fell into recession.” Further, U.S. bank failures didn't occur until September, 2008, almost a year after Europe slipped into recession.

Mr. Reynolds does not deny the U.S. housing boom, and eventual bust, of 2002 to 2008. He simply argues that it wasn't the housing boom that set off the global meltdown. “What really triggered this recession should be obvious,” he says, “since the same thing happened before every postwar U.S. recession save one (1960).” The real cause, he says, was the spike in the price of crude oil.

The original article by Alan Reynolds can be read here.

T. Boone Pickens offers energy answer

He calls himself an environmentalist, which may raise the eyebrows of those familiar with his long ties to conservative causes.

In 2004, he gave $2.5 million to Swift Boat Veterans and POWs for Truth, which bought ads criticizing the military record of Sen. John Kerry, then the Democratic presidential nominee.

Nowadays, he says cheap oil has allowed presidents of both parties to drift away from ubiquitous campaign promises to wean the country off foreign oil. There's been no energy plan.

The New Gospel of Less

I started noticing new talking points oozing out this past week. Rather than cite specifics, I’d like to encourage you to be on alert for them. They all have to do with the new gospel of less.

Not Every Oil Company Is Hurting

Deep-water drillers take advantage of tight supply and long contracts.

US Ex-Im Bank okays $900 million loan to Pemex

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Export-Import Bank on Thursday said it had approved $900 million in direct long-term loans for Mexico's state-owned oil company Pemex to import more than $1 billion worth of U.S. goods and services to help develop oil and natural gas projects.

Volcano Idles Oil Platforms, Facility 'Indefinitely'

Oil platforms in Alaska's Cook Inlet have been idled indefinitely because the nearby Redoubt volcano is still active and potentially explosive, officials said.

The Anchorage (Alaska) Daily News reported Wednesday that the oil platforms had to be closed because the Drift River oil terminal has not been restarted.

American Electric Profit Falls Less Than Estimated

(Bloomberg) -- American Electric Power Co., the biggest U.S. producer of coal-fueled electricity, said first- quarter profit fell 37 percent as the recession eroded industrial electricity demand.

Monbiot: Miliband's coal decision is cynical and meaningless

If coal plants go ahead on the condition that their emissions will one day be abated through carbon capture and storage technology, then emissions are a certainty.

James Schlesinger and Robert L. Hirsch: Getting Real on Wind and Solar

Why are we ignoring things we know? We know that the sun doesn't always shine and that the wind doesn't always blow. That means that solar cells and wind energy systems don't always provide electric power. Nevertheless, solar and wind energy seem to have captured the public's support as potentially being the primary or total answer to our electric power needs.

Solar cells and wind turbines are appealing because they are "renewables" with promising implications and because they emit no carbon dioxide during operation, which is certainly a plus. But because both are intermittent electric power generators, they cannot produce electricity "on demand," something that the public requires. We expect the lights to go on when we flip a switch, and we do not expect our computers to shut down as nature dictates.

Russia sees no need for oil cuts as shortage looming

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia believes global oil output cuts will have a short-lived effect and made no sense given a looming global supply shortage in the medium term, Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko said on Wednesday.

"According to various estimates, there will be a serious shortage of oil supply, maybe in one, maybe in two-three years," Shmatko told reporters.

The Peak Oil Crisis: Capping Carbon

Seventeen years after the Kyoto Protocol was drafted, it appears that the U.S. is moving toward taking action to limit the nation's emissions of greenhouse gases.

Last week, with White House blessing, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a preliminary decision that carbon-dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels constitutes a danger to the public. The ruling was in response to an April 2007 Supreme Court decision that said the government could restrict the emission of heat-trapping gases under the Clean Air Act if it found them a danger to health and welfare.

US urges Central Asia to boost gas export routes

ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan – A recent crippling gas pipeline blast in Turkmenistan, which the government blamed on Russia's gas monopoly Gazprom, is proof that energy-rich Central Asian nations need to diversify their export routes, a senior U.S. diplomat said Friday.

Russia currently controls most natural gas export routes out of the region, but that grip is coming under growing pressure from China and the West.

Summit seeks secure gas deliveries for Europe

SOFIA, Bulgaria — Energy projects that aim to guarantee secure gas deliveries for Europe will be discussed at a two-day summit of energy producing and consuming countries, starting in Sofia today.

But the absence of a key player — Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who unexpectedly canceled his participation amid disagreement over a pipeline project with Bulgaria — fueled doubts about what might be accomplished.

China, Russia oil pipeline to start operation at end-2010: CNPC

An oil pipeline linking Russia's far east to China's northeast is set to start operation by the end of 2010, Zhou Jiping, deputy general manager of the China National Petroleum Corp. confirmed here at a conference Thursday.

The pipeline would run from Skovorodino, Russia to China's northeastern city of Daqing.

China’s Government to Fund Overseas Oil Acquisitions

(Bloomberg) -- China, which agreed last week to acquire a share in a Kazakh oil producer, will provide financing for overseas asset bids by domestic oil companies taking advantage of slumping energy prices, an industry official said.

The government will take up stakes in overseas oil projects that it will help to acquire, the official, who declined to be named, said in Shanghai today. The government will announce the financing plan as part of its oil and petrochemical stimulus package, due within a week, he said. The size of the energy stimulus, approved in February, is yet known.

Interview with Matt Badiali: Time to Buy Oil Service Companies

Massive, massive depletion. Don't get me started on peak oil. The peak oil theory is based on engineering data. What the engineers never figured on is that we'd find oil and gas in places we never thought we'd find them, like off of South America right now. Nobody anticipated finding the oil that we're going to find in the sub-salt areas there.

Schlumberger profit tumbles 30% as drilling drops

Schlumberger Ltd. said today its first-quarter earnings tumbled about 30 percent as oil and natural gas companies cut back on exploration and drilling due to lower prices and demand.

The world’s largest oilfield services company said net income in the January-to-March period fell to $938.5 million, or 78 cents per share. That compared with $1.34 billion, or $1.09 per share, a year earlier.

The result topped the average estimate of Wall Street analysts polled by Thomson Reuters, who expected earnings of 73 cents a share.

Automakers teeter on verge of industry shutdown

While General Motors was prepping its workers and suppliers for extended plant shutdowns, Chrysler bondholders were readying a second counteroffer to help slash Chrysler's debt.

Both automakers are teetering on the verge of bankruptcy. Chrysler has just six days to complete a deal with Italian automaker Fiat or be cut adrift without government support. President Obama has said that if the two can't hammer out the details — which include a deal with creditors to cut Chrysler's debt load — he won't approve further loans for Chrysler, and it will end up in bankruptcy court.

Vermont must rebuild public transit

Americans spend almost one-fifth of their income on transportation. Instead, public investments in trains and buses could be saving us money to spend at local stores and events. Aside from the contribution it makes to the community and economy, public transit is already at work reducing our impact on climate change, traffic congestion, and air pollution, and it may be a necessary "insurance policy" to survive peak oil.

Lighting a fire under self-reliance

Vermont ranks last among all 50 states in its demand for petroleum products, and emerges second only to Hawaii in least consumption of natural gas. Still, nearly 3/5 of Vermonters use fuel oil as their primary source of home heating. Furthermore, in January 2009, the state paid on average $0.315 more per gallon of Number 2 heating oil than the rest of the nation. Vermonters are not blind to this state of affairs. In Addison County, residents have acted to allay their concerns, establishing the ACORN Energy Co-Op.

"Essentially," said Greg Pahl, president of the organization's interim board of directors, "the Co-Op is a peak oil and global warming response initiative."

Mexican icon becoming a vanishing breed

Mexico's donkeys are quickly being replaced by pickups and tractors even in the poorest areas, prompting efforts to save the animals.

Losing Its Cool at the Mall

This spring, spending by teenagers, a closely studied but rarely understood segment of the population, is off by 14 percent, a direct reflection of the economy, according to a report this month by the investment bank Piper Jaffray. And that is having a profound effect on an already unraveling mall culture, where deep discounters and stores known for heavy promotions are suddenly the popular destinations and aspirational brands are struggling to fit in.

Slump Creates Lack of Mobility for Americans

Joseph S. Tracy, research director of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, said the lack of mobility meant less income for movers and the people they employ and less spending on renovation and on durable goods like appliances. But, Dr. Tracy said, the most troubling prospect is that people were no longer able to relocate for work.

“The thing that would be of deeper concern is if job-related moves are getting suppressed and workers are not getting re-sorted to the jobs that best use their skills,” he said. “As the labor market started to improve, if mobility stays low, you can worry about the allocation of workers.”

Survey: Americans reclassifying luxury, necessity in recession

A few years back, the list of "gotta-haves" for many Americans included a car, TV, microwave, home air conditioning and dishwasher.

Now, not so much.

A Pew Research Center survey released Thursday finds that the recession has changed Americans' minds about many items that used to seen as necessities.

Recession, health concerns get Americans gardening

DALLAS (Reuters) - Alison Baum of San Antonio, Texas hopes to save money and eat better by getting her hands dirty.

She is joining the swelling ranks of Americans who have started backyard fruit and vegetable gardening, a trend rooted in a desire to cut costs as the recession bites, fears about the safety of commercial food supplies and popular views that organic food is better for you.

There is also a growing sense in these tough economic times that food security starts at home.

"This recession got me thinking that if things turned out like the Great Depression then it would be better to grow your own stuff and be in control. I've even ordered baby chicks," the medical intern told Reuters in a telephone interview.

Website connects needy to the charitable

The site was founded in 2007 by Dave Girgenti, a Cherry Hill, N.J., creative director inspired by what he calls the heroic acts of ordinary people after the 9/11 attacks and Hurricane Katrina.

Its largely anonymous members have granted more than 30,000 of about 46,000 wishes since its inception, according to a running meter on the website. Since the economic meltdown began, wishes have increasingly been pleas for groceries and gas money, Girgenti says.

"During major national disasters, it was people who came to the rescue first," says Girgenti, 37. "People want to help people."

U.S. May Raise Cap on Grants for High-Tech Power Grid

The Energy Department might revise its guidelines for $4.5 billion in smart grid grants after major electric utilities complained that the proposed $20 million-per-grant limit was too low to encourage commercial-scale deployment of advanced technologies.

The smart grid spending is supposed to both create jobs and improve the efficiency and reliability of the electricity grid by lowering peak demand, reducing energy consumption, integrating more renewable energy sources and easing the pressure to build new coal-fired power plants. A variety of devices may qualify, including meters, grid management software and other equipment.

Lab finds new method to turn biomass into gasoline

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. scientists have combined a discovery from a French garbage dump with breakthroughs in synthetic biology to come up with a novel method for turning plant waste into gasoline, without the need of any food sources.

A synthetic biology lab at the University of California San Francisco identified a compound able to use biomass to produce a gas that can be converted into a gasoline chemically indistinguishable from fossil-fuel based petroleum.

Peru Mulls New Reserves To Protect Amazon Tribes

LIMA - Peru's government, which is encouraging energy companies to develop the resource-rich Amazon, is considering creating five new reserves to protect jungle tribes that are living in voluntary isolation.

Advocacy groups have been pressuring Peru to balance indigenous and environmental rights demands with those of foreign investors as the country tries to boost energy output.

Chevron is denied compensation of $500,000 for trial over Nigerian shooting

In rejecting the request, a federal judge cites the income disparity between the oil giant and the villagers who lost a suit for alleged human rights violations in a 1998 incident.

Greenland's 'good news' methane finding

Ice core research has revealed that a vast, potential source of the potent greenhouse gas, methane, is more stable in a warming world than previously thought.

BBC sends `Ethical Man' on global warming quest

Some of the family's new habits stuck; they still don't own a car or use the dryer, for instance. But Rowlatt and his wife were disappointed, after a year, that they only reduced their carbon footprint by about 20 percent.

"It was obvious that individuals alone can't do it," he said. "We were nowhere near a solution. And that's why we wanted to come to America, to explore these larger questions about what we can do as a society. America was kind of the obvious place to go because America has the kind of lifestyle to which everyone in the world aspires."

Top polluters in final round of climate talks

SYRACUSE, Italy (AFP) – Environment ministers of the world's top polluters entered a final round of climate change talks Friday with agreement expected on stemming the loss of biodiversity.

The three days of talks in Sicily, buoyed by a sea change in US environmental policy, have also found new momentum towards a landmark deal to fight global warming at the end of the year.

California to limit greenhouse gas emissions of vehicle fuels

California took aim Thursday at the oil industry and its impact on global warming, adopting the world's first regulation to limit greenhouse gas emissions from the fuel that runs cars and trucks.

The Air Resources Board voted 9 to 1 in favor of the complex new rule, which is expected to slash the state's gasoline consumption by a quarter in the next decade. It seeks to expand the market for electric and hydrogen-fueled vehicles and jump-start a host of futuristic biofuels to replace corn-based ethanol, as well as oil.

Climate heavy-hitters to address House panel

WASHINGTON – Hearings on a massive bill to curb the gases blamed for global warming are drawing to a close with some star power.

After three days of panels and testimony and more than 50 witnesses espousing on the nitty-gritty details of the 648-page draft, the grand finale on Friday will feature former Vice President Al Gore, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Virginia Sen. John Warner.

Democratic Group Wants Utilities to Get Pollution Credits Free

(Bloomberg) -- A group of Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee want to give utilities free permits for all their existing carbon emissions, according to people familiar with a plan sent to the committee’s chairman.

Forest Fires Mostly Overlooked by Climate Modelers

(Bloomberg) -- Forest fires worsen global warming and make it harder for societies to adapt to drought and higher temperatures, scientists said.

Trees and brush set ablaze, by accident or through slash- and-burn farming in the tropics, fuel hotter weather, said Jennifer Balch, a researcher at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis in Santa Barbara, California. That’s because smoke adds more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

“We don’t think about fire correctly,” Balch said. “It’s very intrinsic to the planet.”

Rich nation greenhouse gas emissions rise in 2007

LONDON/OSLO (Reuters) - Greenhouse gas emissions from industrialized nations rose by nearly one percent in 2007, led by strong gains in the United States, official data showed.

Carbon emissions from countries signed up to the Kyoto Protocol climate pact edged up by 0.1 percent in 2007, mainly due to rises in Japan and Canada.

Views on Global Warming Relate to Energy Efficiency

Gallup data collected in 127 countries in 2007 and 2008 reveal a relationship between the percentage of citizens who believe global warming is a result of human activities and the amount of GDP produced for every unit of energy consumed.

Industry Ignored Its Scientists on Climate

For more than a decade the Global Climate Coalition, a group representing industries with profits tied to fossil fuels, led an aggressive lobbying and public relations campaign against the idea that emissions of heat-trapping gases could lead to global warming.

“The role of greenhouse gases in climate change is not well understood,” the coalition said in a scientific “backgrounder” provided to lawmakers and journalists through the early 1990s, adding that “scientists differ” on the issue.

But a document filed in a federal lawsuit demonstrates that even as the coalition worked to sway opinion, its own scientific and technical experts were advising that the science backing the role of greenhouse gases in global warming could not be refuted.

My comment on the Washington Post website regarding Schlesinger and Hirsch article.

However, large-scale electric energy storage is possible only in the few locations where there are hydroelectric dams.


Pumped storage (see Ludington, Bath County, VA and Raccoon Mountain, all larger than any nuclear power plant) can use an existing reservoir for the lower reservoir, or they can use the Great Lakes or two new reservoirs.



Any area (even deserts) with significant hills or mountains can have pumped storage installed (an initial fill of water and then evaporation losses. Floating balls can reduce evaporation in desert areas). In theory. mines could be used for pumped storage in flat land.

Overall cycle efficiency at Bath County Virgina pumped storage is 81% (I talked with them when they presented a poster at a hydroelectric conference).

I have also talked privately with Dr. Hirsch and he simply does understand the details of integrating renewables into the grid and does not see Climate Change as a major threat.


What I find particularly irritating about these kinds of stories is that they imply that the need for spinning reserves is something unique to renewables (we all know 1,100 MW reactors never trip). Grrr.


What I find particularly irritating about these kinds of stories is that they imply that the need for spinning reserves is something unique to renewables (we all know 1,100 MW reactors never trip). Grrr.

But it is unique to renewables. A grid where the largest generator is a 1.1 GW reactor only has to have a little more than a paltry 1.1 GW of spinning reserve. If you add more 1.1 GW reactors to the grid it doesn't notably increase the spinning reserve requirement.

Wind and solar power is a highly centralized power source. They're all responding to the same weather system, so each additional wind turbine or solar panel simply adds to what is essentially a single, huge power plant and this demands a corresponding increase in spinning reserve. It's less than a 1 to 1 ratio since a bulk of the swing in power output can be handled with natural gas turbines and most of the time the renewables aren't generating anywhere near their nameplace capacity and so don't need as much spinning reserve backing them up.

More importantly, since the capacity factor is a paltry 15-40% you need to back these wind turbines and solar farms in full with natural gas or hydro power because these generators respond fast enough to swings that happen over a few hours. Since there's not nearly enough hydropower to go around to everyone who needs it the answer is natural gas more often than not. That's not a good answer if you care about long term sustainability or if you happen to live in Europe and dislike the idea of additional dependence on Gazprom.

The storage required for a mostly renewable grid is unimaginably huge and can't be built for love nor money. It's on the order of 80 days worth of storage for the entire electrical grid using some very rosy transmissions and capacity factor assumptions(e.g. see http://www.iesvic.uvic.ca/publications/library/Dissertation-Love.pdf). We're talking hundreds of trillions of dollars here for just the US with pumped storage. If you tried to do it with lead-acid batteries it corresponds to 5-10 tonnes of batteries for every man, woman and child.

All storage will do for a wind and solar powered grid is reduce spinning reserve demand; it will do very little to reduce the dependence on natural gas.

Since this won't happen your alternative is to have a "smart grid" come in and decide which industry is out of work this week, whose air conditioning or heating is turned off, who gets to turn off their freezer and have their food spoil. At around this point the natural gas and coal people come in, which are not dependent on the vagaries of weather, and offer their services. Why do you think Enron was pushing wind power?

“It's less than a 1 to 1 ratio since a bulk of the swing in power output can be handled with natural gas turbines” Posted by Soylent

This may be fine for a temporary solution, but what happens 50 or so years down the tracks when the natural gas is gone. One assumption that appears likely is that in 50-100 years, we will have mined or pumped virtually every last molecule of extractable hydrocarbons. All the renewable and alternate energies infrastructures seem to rely on a substantial foundation, direct and indirect, of fossil fuels. It seems this is the real question that commonly gets overlooked, namely, to what extent can we wean the renewables off this fossil fuel base, at what scale can we maintain the renewables when, whenever it is, that that last available molecule of fossil fuel energy has been burned.

Antoinetta III

This may be fine for a temporary solution, but what happens 50 or so years down the tracks when the natural gas is gone.

I agree, which is why I don't think wind and solar have any place in a post-carbon grid unless we invent some utterly spectacular way to store electrical energy.

We have, pumped storage.

LOTS of reactive power, cheapest source of spinning reserve (spin turbines in air at low energy and wear & tear cost), response on the order of 1 minute, 81% cycle efficiency, power can be stored indefinitely until needed, low cost/MW and MWh.

Add HV DC and HV DC Lite.

Best Hopes,


Hi Antoinetta III,

You write:

1) "...to what extent can we wean the renewables off this fossil fuel base,"

2) "...at what scale can we maintain the renewables when, whenever it is, that that last available molecule of fossil fuel energy has been burned."

These are excellent questions.

These are, perhaps, the most relevant questions.

Here is what the Energy Watch Group has to say:

"By 2020 and even more by 2030, global oil supply will be dramatically lower. This will create a supply gap which can hardly be closed by growing contributions from other fossil, nuclear or alternative energy sources in this time frame."

My question is:

When will someone in the current administration, and/or a large enough group of Congresspersons and/or a "large enough" group of citizens in the US call for:
1) Congressional hearings, and for
2) studies by the National Academy of Sciences?

In order to clearly state your two questions and come up with answers. (And, then, recommend policy guidelines for the implications revealed by the answers.)

My suggestion is to keep asking these questions and ask them of your elected officials and encourage everyone you know to do the same.

Since this won't happen your alternative is to have a "smart grid" come in and decide which industry is out of work this week, whose air conditioning or heating is turned off, who gets to turn off their freezer and have their food spoil. At around this point the natural gas and coal people come in, which are not dependent on the vagaries of weather, and offer their services. Why do you think Enron was pushing wind power?

I think you are overstating your case. I do agree that large scale storage of energy is unlikely, although storage for 80 days of usage? Only if you want to cover seasonal variation with 100% backup. In the next few decades, its not going to be an either/or situation, we will gradually be adding to the percentage of generation sources with are not dispatchable, but for which the economics makes sense. Some of these, due to subsidies, and mandates may begin to be built out before the short term economics dictate it. Gradually, over a period of decades, society, and the economy will learn to deal with increasingly time dependent power supply. Because economic growth will likely stop, the discount rate, (which determines the ratio of capital cost to operational cost for industrial projects), will drop. For those power hungry processes which have high power cost to capital cost ratios, it will make economic sense to use lower cost interruptible power. The big change from current thinking will be the fact that we have different classes of power, ranging from high cost 100 percent availability, to low cost, but only available maybe 25% of the time power. The market will determine how industry partitions their usage among the different classes, and this interplay of costs and opportunities will determine the generation mix.

I disagree with most of your points, but limited time ATM to refute in detail.


If you assume that large scale solar and wind must be or will be highly centralized, which I dispute, and you assume that the same region will not be served by a mix of renewables that have different energy profiles with respect to weather, which I also think is an unwarranted assumption, then the rest of your argument holds.

Wind power in the places where it is being done isn't centralized. If you drive through Iowa you see power daisies all over the place. Since the Iowa power grid is tied to that of surrounding states, that means that the Iowa wind turbines are tied to the ones from the Red River Valley. Even more decentralization.

What we need is to add more solar to the mix further north and east, after all, right now we need to bring in most of our solar from the desert southwest. Horribly centralized, and not enough time-zone spread. Maybe some nice solar power plants in Georgia to balance out the day. Though solar does have the advantage of being most available when air-conditioning is most needed in those areas, making for a nice source-sink matchup.

A third assumption you make is that storage is unreasonably expensive. The demands you assume for that depend on the first two assumptions, which you failed to present in anywhere near a convincing manner. The reality is that solar, wind, and hydro are rarely going to be all down at the same time, and as such each provides backup for the other, a full day's power production of storage would provide enough to level production variations quite nicely. As much as a week's worth might be financially desirable maybe more in some areas where there are natural aids to techniques like pumped storage.

The fourth assumption is that dispatchable power must be natural gas based. This one isn't as unreasonable as the first three, but ignores that high-responsiveness power plants can be made to run on pretty much any gaseous or liquid fuel. The gas turbine engine is a wonderfully flexible device.

The fifth is that if all four of your other assumptions are true and we decide to abandon conventional power plants we are going to have rolling blackouts every time the weather shifts and that people won't invest in simple measures like UPS's and local small scale power generation of varying and varied sorts. I don't know about you, but if I was experiencing regular blackouts I'd be likely to move my UPS from the computer to the freezer, or maybe even pick up a larger dedicated one for the freezer.

Just saying.

Much of what is in the editorial is true. The fact is that solar and wind are not baseload power. We've known that since the days before Schlesinger was Energy Secretary. So what? They conclude:

Realistically, however, solar and wind will probably only provide a modest percentage of future U.S. power. Some serious realism in energy planning is needed, preferably from analysts who are not backing one horse or another.

We've also known that it's possible to store electricity locally as well as in large systems. Using distributed solar and wind with local storage would work quite well and would be very resilient in emergency situations where the grid is down. We also know that electricity isn't the only problem and solar thermal can meet much of the demand for electricity, such as hot water heating. We know that better insulation would reduce the demand for A/C in summer and also that solar PV tends to match the A/C demand on sunny days. That tells us there's ways to reduce demand for electricity, but this option is not mentioned.

These guys are spokesmen for the large utilities when they poo-poo the main renewables. They aren't analysts or engineers, who know about how to solve the problems we face. Of course, they get space in the WaPo since they have the creds and they will be believed by TPTB. Their comments just provide one more reason for TPTB to delay actually doing the things needed for a transition away from fossil fuel as Peak Oil creeps up on us all. Just one more nail in our coffin...

E. Swanson

Yeah. I was getting the impression that they are saying that ANY attention given to wind and solar is going to be TOO much. It reminds me of Affirmative Action. There has been such a systemic imbalance, that the corrective actions are that much more threatening to the old ways of thinking.

Al Gore just told the Senate Energy CTTE hearing on Climate Change "We are now at or near Peak Oil.."

(I think he just wants attention, though..)

Sorry, that's 'Energy and Commerce' -

There are many misconceptions in this article;

...solar and wind electricity systems must be backed up 100 percent by other forms of generation to ensure against blackouts. In today's world, that backup power can only come from fossil fuels.

Solar and wind in other areas can act as backup load balancing. Geothermal, tidal, and wave energy can be backup.

They made no mention whatsoever about Demand Side Management as a way to reduce intermittency peaks and valleys, nor did they mention the ability to forecast wind and solar conditions.

... They made no mention whatsoever about Demand Side Management as a way to reduce intermittency peaks and valleys ...


We don't talk about the demand side enough ... that is, reducing demand. And I think it's because we want to deny that our way of life is going to have to change.

Alan -

Regardless of the errors in the article you cite, the economic feasibility of pumped storage is still highly location-specific.

For pumped storage to be economically justified one needs very large upper and lower reservoirs whose working water surfaces are separated by an elevation of hundreds (and in some cases thousands) of feet. In the case of the Bath County pumped storage facility, there is a 265-acre upper reservoir that is 1,260 ft higher than the 555-acre lower reservoir. And if I recall correctly, there is one pumped storage facility in either Switzerland or Norway that has an elevation difference of over 4,000 feet. The smaller the elevation difference, the less power you get; or conversely, if you want to get the same amount of power, the reservoirs and the turbines have to be proportionally larger, and it gets uneconomic real fast.

Obviously, for facilities in these size ranges one has to largely rely on the natural topography of the land rather than build huge elevated reservoirs from scratch (just calculate the cubic yards of fill needed to build a 265-acre lake that is 1,260 feet above the original grade and you will see what I mean).

So, while pumped storage is a natural fit for certain mountainous locations, it's largely a no-go for flat regions. I also think the idea of using an abandoned mine for the lower reservoir is highly dubious, largely because even most large underground mines just don't have the tens of billions of gallons of empty volume needed for even a modest pumped storage facility.

This isn't a hard and fast rule of thumb, but it would be my WAG that unless you have a natural topography that will allow you to easily build upper and lower reservoirs separated by at least 200 ft and be located reasonably close to each other, then pumped storage becomes highly questionable. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think there are too many places in Kansas or Texas or most of the Great Lakes states with that kind of favorable topography.

But it still needs to be remembered then, that if you can pump Desert Solar power across the country (presumably in HVDC corridors).. that you can also use pumped storage where it's able to be located.. it doesn't have to be a local solution, if we decide to (and are able to) have a reliable grid to move it around.

Precisely !

Large scale HV DC triangles (apexes at major wind resource, pumped storage and major load) give redundancy and parallel conductors.

My concept for Florida was nuclear > 3 AM load (surplus > pumped storage), PV Solar + nuke > Solar noon load (surplus > pumped storage) and wind from Western Oklahoma plus a small amount of Florida wind (FL is not a good wind resource).

Pumped Storage @ Chattanooga TN. When FL needed power imports it would pull from W OK if "fresh wind" was available, from pumped storage if not and standby FF if neither was available.

HV DC triangle - Western OK, Chattanooga, ~Orlando (spur to Miami) with a bisecting HV DC from Chattanooga to Birmingham AL.

Florida would likely need a second HV DC triangle and West Texas - Ozarks - Orlando might be a back-up.

Best Hopes,


The Dutch (as flat as Louisiana) are proposing a a large pumped storage plant made by diking an area of sea floor. Low head, massive size to make it economic.


One obviously builds the most economic sites first, and I find pumped storage to be "dirt cheap" and they will last for centuries (traditional economics discounts any life past 30 or so years).

The price of TBM tunnels continues to decline (-3% (inflation adjusted) annually has been the trend). This makes longer distances between upper and lower reservoirs more economic. This in turn dramatically expands the available sites. Karahnjukar has a 40 km long main tunnel and was economic as a hydroelectric plant (base load 540 MW).

So my SWAG is that a 10 mile (16 km) tunnel between upper and lower reservoirs for pumped storage may be economic in the future in many ? areas of the US.

BTW, Ludington has a head of 363 feet.

I don't think there are too many places in Kansas or Texas or most of the Great Lakes states with that kind of favorable topography.

Ludington is in Michigan


Duluth MN has some steep mountains/hills leading down to it.

There is a smallish (300 MW) pumped storage around Niagara Falls.

Texas has a number of Mountains along the Upper Rio Grande that could be made into good pumped storage sites; and the Texas Hill Country has some at least marginal sites.

Kansas has some good potential sites in the Ozark Mountains (of AR & MO).

Even if a geographic area is largely flat, there are some mountains/hills usually nearby.


Alan -

My main, and I guess only, point was that you can't just plop these huge pumped storage systems down anywhere you like. There has to be some topographically advantageous features that make it economically worthwhile.

While it is true that one can build a very shallow pumped storage facility almost anywhere, that doesn't mean that one should. If the Dutch are indeed building a pumped storage facility using a diked impoundment, then that must be a very low-head, inefficient, and not very cost-effective system. But if, as I suspect, the government is paying for it, then perhaps money no object.

Come to think of it, one side of my backyard is about 2 -3 ft higher than the other. Does that mean I should realistically consider building a pumped storage impoundment for a possible solar panel installation?

I would recommend one between your attic and basement 1nstead. :-)


On the larger point, Miami is, AFAIK, the city furthest from a suitable pumped storage site (Raccoon Mt.). When I toured Raccoon Mt. I was told that there were 5 sites evaluated and this was the cheapest/best one. And that a larger plant could have been built there (enlarge upper reservoir, larger diameter tunnel, larger turbines).

This implies that the area can have much more pumped storage.

It is 700 miles from Chattanooga to Miami, well within HV DC transmission range.

Of course Key West is further, but it is a small load.

Best Hopes,


I live about 2 hours north of the 1875 MW Ludington plant and have been through it. It is the equivalent of about 3-600 MW coal plants for 8 hours. They often use it in the afternoon and early evening to provide peak power as that is when demand peaks.

If you look at great lakes offshore wind potential, which is huge, I believe it will also somewhat follow the demand peak because it is often windy on the lakes, especially in the afternoons and early evenings. Ask any Great Lakes boater about afternoon winds.

In terms of back up power, with advanced wind forecasting tools they can predict wind speeds a day in advance which is time enough to bring on necessary backup combustion turbines, etc, if needed at all. The March/April 2009 issue of IEEE Power and Energy magazine has a nice article on all of this. According to the article, the cost to integrate wind into the grid, including the cost of additional operating reserves and wind forecasting errors, amounts to about $4 per MWH based on a 25% wind penetration factor. The authors go on to say that "these units maintain system balance and reliability so NO new conventional generation is required as a "backup" for wind plants."

Alan, you possibly refer to the Swiss Grande Dixence complex (http://www.grande-dixence.ch/energie/hydraulic.html) which is an intriguing and massive installation far more complicated than a single turbine-pump arrangement. The newest addition is the power plant at Bieudron representing a number of world records such as the highest head (1883m almost 6'200feet) and the highest power output for Pelton turbines (3x423MW). Part of the water is pumped several thousand feet up to the Grande Dixence dam (another world record) which represents 20% of the Swiss storage capacity. It is thought that these Swiss installations will be part of the pan-European 'buffer battery' to accommodate wind an solar energy. rolf

They had some serious problems with the steel on that record setting installation.

I personally would have installed higher efficiency Francis turbines every 600 m or so instead of those massive Peltons.

Best Hopes for innovative engineering,


the penstock ruptured on a length of 9m (10cm steel !) , the water pressure exploded the tunnel and removed parts of the mountain slope:
some details in french (link at the bottom) http://www.cleuson-dixence.ch/en/amenagement/rupture_du_puits_blinde.htm

repairs should be finished and the commissioning resumed next year; I hope it works, rolf


Any thoughts on molten salt storage? A lot of people seem to be pushing this as a way to store energy from concentrated solar power. This supports your point about large-scale electric storage using a different method.



Heat pumps and well insulated buildings, every building becomes a 'battery'

I'm sure that there are also plenty of people who "expect" their streets and roads to always be free of ice and snow and clear so they can drive on demand. Unfortunately, mother nature cannot oblige. So what do we do? We learn to live with it as best as we can. Life goes on, somehow.

There are people living in some places in the world, right now, who don't have electricity 24/7. If they are lucky, they get power for a few hours each day on a more-or-less regular schedule. They plan their lives around it. Maybe not an ideal situation, but life somehow goes on for these people.

What is unthinkable here in the USA today just might become everyday reality some day. It would be difficult, but it would not be the end of the world, or even the end of civilization.

Hello WNC Observer,

Your Quote: "I'm sure that there are also plenty of people who "expect" their streets and roads to always be free of ice and snow and clear so they can drive on demand. Unfortunately, mother nature cannot oblige. So what do we do?"

These people need to consider the vast differences in snowplow energy required between different transport modes. Ten foot wide asphalt lane versus approx. 4 foot wide standard gauge rail. Even less energy [just mere snow shovels?] to clear 2 foot wide, narrow gauge, SpiderWebRiding networks.

Safely removing ice from thin steel rails is much more energy-efficient than trying to remove the ice from broad swaths of asphalt or concrete. Best hopes for more people yearning for a rapid build-out of Alan Drake's RR & TOD ideas.

EDIT: the sixty miles of subterranean narrow gauge tracks beneath downtown Chicago would never get snow nor ice.

Gentle people, may I respectfully suggest that you and the authors of the article are making a similar mistake in presuming that the current business model is the only viable one for power systems? While base load power is important and can not be ignored, there is a strong case to be made for using economic incentives to modify the consumers' behavior. Set the base load costs to be higher than the intermittent renewable costs, inform the consumer of the price band at the time the power is consumed, and the consumer will modify their behavior to optimize cash flow.

I was quite impressed when, many years ago, I learned of the Scottish Fair Isle electrical system. The islanders had been using rather expensive diesel generators to supply their needs. Electricity was costly, in short supply, and the cost of installing an undersea cable for hooking up to the grid was prohibitive. The islanders solution was to install a wind turbine and introduce a differential pricing scheme. Now power is cheaper and at times so plentiful that it is used for electric heating. When the cheap energy is available, the consumers use it for the optional, non time critical applications.

I offer another real-life scenario; I exist with an intermittent power source on a daily basis (see my bio). There exists a budget, the amount of electricity produced each day, that varies by day and by season. When the budget is exceeded, the price for electricity jumps dramatically due to the fossil fuel generator kicking in to make up for any deficit. Moreover, battery storage for solar power, while effective, represents about a 50% loss. Thus, intermittent loads, such as laundry, power washing the car, or vacuuming, are done at times when there is a surplus of power (noon time on sunny days). Once again, the renewable (solar) energy is cheap and the base load (fossil fuel) is expensive.

Change the business model, change the economics, and people will very rapidly adapt! Many areas in the world do not have as reliable a grid as exists in the USA. Consumers in those areas already have learned to vary their power consumption to match availability. Within the USA, some consumers are already enrolled in programs that result in automatic shutdown of optional demand loads during times of resource scarcity.

While I am not advocating the introduction of intermittent power, it seems clear to me that a brute force technical solution is not the only one available. Economics can be a very powerful tool when an appropriate fulcrum is employed.

Hi Alan,

Question for clarification purposes:

You wrote:

"...he simply does understand the details..."

Did you mean to say "...he simply does *not* understand the details..." - ?

Yes, a typo that escaped me :-(

I asked him at an ASPO conference if he would be willing to serve as co-author (little work except review and critique) " a "Green Hirsch Report", a counter plan to deal with both Climate Change and Post-Peak Oil. I outlined a number of my ideas and he reverted to an appeal to authority, his authority, and said it was impossible and refused to discuss any details.

ATM, someone I worked with has a part-time job at Los Alamos and I have asked him to pitch the "Green Hirsch Report" idea there.

I have most of the bits and pieces and a grand overview but assembling them into a coherent document is a daunting challenge !

Best Hopes,


In support of AlanfromBigEasy, the March/April 2009 issue of IEEE Power and Energy magazine has an excellent article on this subject. According to their study, the cost to integrate wind into the grid, including the cost of additional operating reserves and wind forecasting errors, amounts to about $4 per MWH based on a 25% wind penetration factor. The authors point out that "these units maintain system balance and reliability so NO new conventional generation is required as a "backup" for wind plants." In other words, any back up generation would be a very small part of normal spinning reserves.

Interesting article about the government-run pawn shop in France:

Business booming at famed French pawnbroker

The future of banking, maybe. No loans without collateral.

According to the article, some poor Parisians would pawn their mattresses daily.

They pawned their mattresses in the morning, used the cash to trade vegetables and redeemed the loan before bedtime.

Oil isn't the only thing China is stockpiling:

China Increases Gold Reserves 76% to Fifth-Largest

And Obama's immigration reform may have to be put on the backburner because of the economy.

From the FDIC: FDIC Approves the Payout of the Insured Deposits of First Bank of Beverly Hills, Calabasas, California

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) approved the payout of the insured deposits of First Bank of Beverly Hills, Calabasas, California. The bank was closed today by the California Department of Financial Institutions, which appointed the FDIC as receiver.

The future of banking, maybe. No loans without collateral.

Re: Interview with Matt Badiali: Time to Buy Oil Service Companies, posted uptop

. . . Don't get me started on peak oil. The peak oil theory is based on engineering data. What the engineers never figured on is that we'd find oil and gas in places we never thought we'd find them, like off of South America right now.

This guy's thinking seems a little muddled. He talks about depletion, but then implies that new discoveries will save us, indirectly suggesting that an infinite rate of increase in our consumption of a finite fossil fuel resource base will be "No Problemo."

In any case, once more with gusto: (1) Peak Oil does not mean that we stop finding new oil fields; (2) In any event, as Hubbert showed in 1956, a one-third increase in projected US Lower 48 URR only postponed the projected peak by five years and (3) Then we have the recurring theme of Brazil, a net oil importer as of 2008, taking market share away from OPEC.

If we extrapolate Brazil's recent (post-2005) production and consumption numbers out for five years, to 2013, they would be just barely a net oil exporter, with production of about 3.3 mbpd and consumption of 3.2 mbpd. If we extrapolate the post-2005 combined net export decline from Canada, Mexico & Venezuela (CMV), their combined net exports would have fallen from 4.0 mbpd in 2008 (EIA) to 3.1 mbpd in 2013.

Besides, getting to the recent Brazil finds is challenging, to say the least.

Look, I'm no engineer, or anything else technical, but it's amazing how people think they know all about oil, when in fact they do not even know the basics. "There is plenty of oil!!!" Yeah, just not where we need it. I'm an expert compared to all these idiots (thanks TOD).

There is plenty of oil!!!" Yeah, just not where we need it.

To be more specific: not extractable with the speed we need it. Most people (who not accept PO) don't understand that what counts are flow rates. Other problem is that a lot of 'new oil' is heavy oil.

So true about the tech challenges Paulus but the industry has developed the capability for the most part right now. But it comes at a great expense. I just finished working with a DW Brazil well...a dry hole unfortunately. The drilling rig had to be moved a long way to get it to the location: the day the rig showed up on location it had already cost us $30 million. After another $150 million in drilling costs we plugged and abandoned the hole. If successful the total development cost could have been $1.5+ billion. There is a lot of oil in the DW Brazil trends. Maybe cumulatively as much as Ghawar...but maybe not. Regardless, the costs to develop those reserves will a great many times what it cost to develop Ghawar. That's one of the biggest issues the optimists overlook: however much oil there is left to discover it won't have anywhere near the positive economic impact of those long ago giants. The true value of oil is converting it to economic growth or, at least, short term sustainability. But as the cost to develop those reserves escalates the value added to society will diminish greatly. Even if there were 100's of billions of bbls left to produce (not very likely of course), getting $1.00 worth of oil out of the ground at a cost of $0.80+ isn't going to benefit us very much.

One acronym: EROEI.

I know Lizard but you'll have to pry "rate of return" out of the oil patch's cold dead hand before it embraces EROEI.

Note that extrapolating the volumetric decline from CMV would suggest a five year net export decline of 1.2 mbpd, down to 2.8 mbpd in 2013, from 4.0 mbpd in 2008 (and down from 5.3 mbpd in 1998).

In the interview, the guy did address the technical challenges that Brazil faces, but he suggested that they are looking at "Ghawar" size reserves. Even if true, we get right back to Points #2 and #3 above.

And back to one of my recurring points, the finite earth types are generally considered to be the nutcases. The mainstream point of view is that there is no problem with an infinite rate of increase in our consumption of a finite fossil fuel resource base, but even if there is a problem, we will replace near-infinite fossil fuels with infinite alternative energy sources.

And back to one of my recurring points, the finite earth types are generally considered to be the nutcases. The mainstream point of view is that there is no problem with an infinite rate of increase in our consumption of a finite fossil fuel resource base, but even if there is a problem, we will replace near-infinite fossil fuels with infinite alternative energy sources.

This is the most frustrating part of the whole thing, the mainstream view is giving such a false sense of optimism in the availability of ff and alternatives that nothing will be done until it is obvious that something has to be done, at which time it will be too late to catch up.

At what point did the Easter Islanders figure this out, AFTER all the trees were cut down?

My question is how much FF does our complex economic society need to function, what is the tipping point, it is not PO as that seems to have passed, but when the structure of society is based on a finite material and that material is going away, at a certain point things start to break down, the more complex things are the quicker they can break down.

I get frustrated when I see billions is given to bankers who do not have a clue or cities tear down thirty year old arenas and stadiums and building new bigger ones, when the money and building materials would be better invested in public transit or alternative energy projects. These new stadiums remind me of the stone heads of Easter Island.

I think a better argument that you could make would be: "The mainstream point of view is that there is no problem with resource scarcity as we can substitute one resource out for another." Deep down I doubt very seriously that most mainstream economist - or the average Joe for that matter - actually believes that we have an unlimited amount of resources to work with. Like the forest of old Europe, Easter Isle or Haiti, they just seemed so plentiful that cutting down their share of trees couldn't possibly deplete the resource...it was renewable after all...


The problem is that there are only a finite total of resources available, even with substitution. Unless we somehow develop space based mining!! :P

Hello Ampersand,

Your Quote: "The mainstream point of view is that there is no problem with resource scarcity as we can substitute one resource out for another."

Unfortunately, there are NO Substitutes to the Elements NPKS to leverage photosynthesis above a Liebig Minimum. Genetic scientists are not trying to develop synergistic soil micro-organisms and plants that will thrive on high Elemental inputs of Cadmium, Selenium, Uranium, Lead, etc.

IMO, our best chance is to rediscover our innate territoriality to induce wholesale ramping of O-NPK as I-NPK heads towards eventual postPeak Unobtainium. Sadly, One billion malnourished people [UN FAO] is only the start.

"...not trying to develop...plants that will...thrive on high Elemental inputs of Cadmium, Selenium, Uranium, Lead, etc."

Yes and no. Try this...but don't eat the plants if they ever grow them...

Newly Designed Gene Can Remove Heavy Metal Pollutants From Soil
Arabidopsis plants hold promise for cleaning up outdoor areas contaminated with heavy metals.

I also recall that somewhere along the lower Hudson they found some sort of marsh grass doing fine with some cadmium in the soil, but I can't find a link.

From the top link: "We expect the lights to go on when we flip a switch, and we do not expect our computers to shut down as nature dictates"

I can't resist: Everything, in the end, Is Dictated By Nature. I guess that's where PO is all about.


I've lived overseas in developing countries where water, electricity, phone and TV service were nonexistent or unreliable. And you get used to it. It's just not that big a deal.

What takes a hit is "productivity." If the workers are all there in the factory or office, but there's no power for the machines or computers, someone's losing a lot of money.

And with the economy going the way it is, that may not be the problem it used to be.

I can't resist: Everything, in the end, Is Dictated By Nature. I guess that's where PO is all about.

Ohh! But, Western philosophy is based upon the presumption that humans transcend nature. That concept won't give up without a fight.

I can't resist: Everything, in the end, Is Dictated By Nature. I guess that's where PO is all about.

Haven't you heard? PO is old story -- Peak-Everything is word of the day. This definitely makes the story a lot sadder than just PO.

The (alleged) roles of Paulson, Bernanke, and Lewis of BoA from the Andrew Cuomo inestigation is in full comment this moring.


Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and then-Treasury Department chief Henry Paulson pressured Bank of America Corp. to not discuss its increasingly troubled plan to buy Merrill Lynch & Co. -- a deal that later triggered a government bailout of BofA -- according to testimony by Kenneth Lewis, the bank's chief executive.


New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's letter to the SEC and Senate Banking Committee on the Bank of America, Merrill Lynch Merger provides strong evidence of coercion to commit securities fraud by former Treasury Secretary Paulson and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, and actual securities fraud by Bank of America CEO Kenneth D. Lewis.

Meanwhile in Saudi Arabia, by Schlumberger:

In Saudi Arabia, new Schlumberger Drilling & Measurements technologies demonstrated excellent performance on several wells for Saudi Aramco. In the Manifa field, StethoScope 475* slimhole formation pressure-while-drilling equipment, part of the Scope* family of services, acquired an extensive number of successful tests in single runs on two different wells. In another success, PowerDrive vorteX* technology was used to drill a 6-1/8-in diameter hole from a window exit to total depth in a single run while doubling rate of penetration and building angle at 8 degrees per 100 ft.

Elsewhere in Saudi Arabia, Schlumberger Well Services completed a number of underbalanced coiled-tubing drilling (CTD) re-entries for Saudi Aramco. The Saudi Aramco deep gas underbalanced drilling project utilizes coiled tubing to drill three multilateral legs from an existing production well in the Khuff-C formation. Production from the first wells demonstrated very promising results and based upon these successful applications, further underbalanced CTD wells are planned.

Also in Saudi Arabia, Schlumberger Well Services ACTive coiled-tubing services were used for the first time to add real-time decision-making to a carbonate formation acid stimulation job for Saudi Aramco in the Khurais field. On this job, three lateral legs were entered in turn using the Discovery MLT re-entry tool with progress of the subsequent acid treatment path being tracked by the ACTive system distributed temperature sensors. During treatment, job parameters were controlled to ensure that diverter acid was correctly placed to position the acid stimulation fluid as effectively as possible.

Offshore Saudi Arabia, Schlumberger Wireline successfully completed the world's largest 3D vertical seismic profile in the Zuluf field for Saudi Aramco. With an objective to delineate thin sand stringers for future drilling, the operation was completed on time despite harsh weather conditions.

Additionally in Saudi Arabia, Schlumberger Artificial Lift was awarded a three-year contract for the supply of gas lift equipment to Khafji Joint Operations.

The Khurais bit is interesting, as it seems they might be dabbling with multilateral wells after all. As I related here, they originally planned to have only single laterals.

...the Khurais development plans include drilling 310 horizontal wells and installing facilities for injecting 2 million b/ d of seawater. Included in the 310 wells are 125 water injection wells and 17 observation wells. Al-Saif said the producing wells will have single 1-2-km long laterals and be instrumented with modern real-time, intelligent, downhole completions with "smart" electric submersible pumps. The injection wells will have 1.5-km long laterals, he said.

Plus, they are dropping acid. Also, rumblings in Zuluf, stethoscopes in Manifa, and heavy lifting in Khafji.

Offshore Saudi Arabia, Schlumberger Wireline successfully completed the world's largest 3D vertical seismic profile in the Zuluf field for Saudi Aramco. With an objective to delineate thin sand stringers for future drilling. . .

Kind of sounds like 3D efforts in mature post-peak regions like the US.

Kind of sounds like 3D efforts in mature post-peak regions like the US.

Yes, and why use all those tricks if there is still plenty of easy oil out there ? To be able to reach their promised 12,5 mbd problably.

Don't you know, they'll always think of something! :)

"downhole completions with "smart" electric submersible pumps.."

caution ! increased water cut ahead.

Auto town risks extinction (Flash video warning)

Towns like Kokomo, Ind., face massive unemployment if the automakers fail.

This is what happens if you live in a city that is not diversified...

This is an excerpt from a series of "Big Ideas" essays in Texas Monthly, by one of the few Peak Oil aware MSM types who is willing to write about it:

Raise Chickens
by Rod Dreher

THE ECONOMIC CATASTROPHE is a great excuse for Texans to dive into backyard gardening. Producing and preparing more of your own food is a hedge against shortages, but there’s also philosophical and spiritual liberation to be found in the new agrarianism. We’re all going to have to live poorer, but in some ways, that can mean living better. In Brooklyn, hipsters high on Michael Pollan are pouring their creative energy into building a homemade food culture. If they can pull that off in Babylon, why can’t we do it here in the Promised Land?

Dreher is a columnist for the Dallas Morning News and the author of Crunchy Cons.

An underground, eco-friendly hair trend finds followers and fights frizzies

Modern shampoo has been around since the 1930s, and in the decades that followed, it became one of America's most heavily advertised products. The harsher formulas of those initial iterations of shampoo meant that most women were washing their hair only once a week (and telling unwanted suitors, "I can't go out; I'm washing my hair."). But as formulas got gentler in the 70s and 80s, daily shampooing became the norm.

But some wonder if we were sold a bill of goods. That trend toward everyday cleansing might have triggered a vicious cycle, some experts say — shampoo cleanses by stripping the hair of its natural, necessary oils, causing the scalp to produce more oil in response, making it impossible for some to skip shampoo for even one day without sprouting a gigantic greaseball.

"Peak Oil?" Har, Har

Yes, peak oil has been foreseen for many decades now...

Just read an article in Treehugger that NY state is looking into building offshore wind on the Great Lakes. Sounds like a perfect fit, seeing as it's IN largest pumped storage facility in the world (AKA the Great Lakes).

Re Top Link: Industry Ignored Its Scientists on Climate

Published: April 23, 2009

For more than a decade the Global Climate Coalition, a group representing industries with profits tied to fossil fuels, led an aggressive lobbying and public relations campaign against... global warming.

“The role of greenhouse gases in climate change is not well understood,” the coalition said in a scientific “backgrounder” provided to lawmakers and journalists through the early 1990s, adding that “scientists differ” on the issue.

But... its own scientific and technical experts were advising...

“The scientific basis for the Greenhouse Effect and the potential impact of human emissions of greenhouse gases such as CO2 on climate is well established and cannot be denied,” the experts wrote in an internal report compiled for the coalition in 1995.

The coalition was financed by fees from large corporations and trade groups representing the oil, coal and auto industries, among others.

Some environmentalists have compared the tactic to that once used by tobacco companies, which for decades insisted that the science linking cigarette smoking to lung cancer was uncertain...

Apparently this reporter is not aware of the Union of Concerned Scientists' open letter to the FF industry nor Naomi Oreskes work. There is no line of distinction between the one propaganda effort and the other. (See Oreskes.)

...groups like the Global Climate Coalition were able to sow enough doubt to blunt public concern about a consequential issue and delay government action.

And they still are.


Re: A Defense of the Incandescent Light Bulb

In case there's any confusion, GS (general service) incandescent lamps will not be banned as such, at least not here in North America; rather, they will be required to meet new, minimum energy standards that will be phased-in beginning in 2010. Philips already sells incandescent lamps that meet these new standards (see: http://www.lighting.philips.com/us_en/products/halogena_energy_saver/hou...). These lamps use 30 per cent less energy than conventional incandescents and are available at retail outlets such as Home Depot. Likewise, halogen lamps, another direct replacement, will continue to be sold.

Philips continues to raise the bar with their EcoClassic line; they use 50 per cent less energy (see: http://www.lighting.philips.com/gl_en/news/press/innovations/2008/home_e...).


Can't help but chime in here with another few months of experience with my unscientific bulb replacement trials:

Best -> LR-6 LED floods. Very expensive but superb light quality and superb output and (so far) still working. Only positive feedback from the family.
Good -> High-output CFL flood. Good light quality and good output once warmed up. Moderately expensive but only real issue is slow turn on (dim output for a minute or two). Family complained but then got used to it.
Poor -> Outdoor frosted globe CFLs. Adequate light quality, good light output. Warm up lag is bad for some applications, but they work and seem to be lasting well. Family complained but then got used to it.
Bad -> Walmart LED 60W "replacement" white bulbs (a ton of little LEDs). Poor light quality, barely adequate output, but still working. My family wishes they would die.
Worst -> Walmart LED 40W "replacement" warm bulbs (a dozen or so little LEDs). Poor light quality, very poor output, and 3 of 4 have failed inside 3 months.

HiH, any real-world feedback on the longevity of the Philips low-power incandescent bulbs?

Lowe's is now selling the Ott-Lite CFLs for $5 and $6. GREAT light quality (IMHO) and I assume good quality. Lower lumens/watt than most CFLs, but GOOD lumens :-)


Thanks for the feedback; it's good to hear how these alternatives perform in the real world, especially LEDs which are often touted as far superior to all else.

The 40 and 70-watt Halogená® Energy Advantage lamps have a rated service life of 3,000 hours. I installed thirty of the 70-watt lamps at a golf and country club this past August where they operate an average of fourteen to sixteen hours a day. I just checked with this client and none of them have failed thus far (bear in mind they're used in a banquet hall and are often dimmed for various functions, so this would have a positive impact on their life). Light quality is superb as their light is basically indistinguishable from that of a standard incandescent except that the colour temperature might be slightly higher. My only beef is that they're available in soft white only and I prefer clear.

I don't have any first-hand experience with the EcoClassic line, but I would be very surprised if service life were problematic.


Hi Paul,

I just wanted to report that I've had excellent CFL experiences with Phillips CFLs and the "Bright Effects" brand CFLs sold at my local Lowe's. In fact, I am typing this under the glow of 2 Bright Effects 60W-equivalent Soft White (2800K) CFLs. I find them virtually indistinguishable from their incandescent equivalents.

I also have the 60W-equivalent CFLs in my kitchen light fixture. They have provided ample light and, more importantly, their lower power consumption and dissipation has nullified the fire hazard from this fixture when it is fitted with incandescent bulbs.

Good to hear your experience with these two brands has been favourable. It's not uncommon to find household fixtures fitted with incandescent lamps that exceed the maximum wattage rating which, in many cases, is just 60-watts. Over time, the wiring inside these fixtures can become brittle and I've even seen the plastic coating melt off leaving the wire fully exposed. A 25-watt CFL provides roughly the same amount of light as a 100-watt incandescent, so switching to a CFL allows you to increase light levels without the risk of damaging the fixture.


That was a disappointing article. I was interested to read an analysis, but there was no real information in it. Ive got a lot of CFLs, and they're OK, but I'm also sure they're not what they're cracked up to be. It's probably mostly a marketing thing to sell more stuff. Things I'm concerned about:

In the winter any energy you save will just be replaced by your heating system, as you lose the heat output of the bulbs.

The failure rate is high - cheap disposable electronics is still just that.

The mercury problem is significant, and I wonder how other byproducts of the the manufacturing process compare to incandescent.

I have not looked to see what the front end circuitry looks like yet - if they produce much in the way of non-sinusoidal currents, then these will waste more power than the sinusoidal draw of an incandescent.

So yeah, you have to look at it from a system approach, but it would be nice to read an actual attempt to do that.

Almost any heating source would offer better value than resistance heat from a lightbulb....except electric resistance heat, which would be about the same.

Agree on the cheap disposable -- I'd rather pay more and have them last a lot longer.

Perhaps there will at some point be a market for an active, ultra-capacitor load-shaper for a house, to improve the quality of its electrical load?

Most heat pumps are resistive heating most of the time. true resistive heating has some advantages, including the ability to zone and control very easily, and not having to replace your own infrastructure whenever one fuel source becomes unavailable - a common energy interface.

I'm a believer in a lower complexity future, forced by the realities we're all beginning to experience. I will not be looking for any ultra caps in my basement.

Most heat pumps are resistive heating most of the time.

Do you have any data to support this? Our home is heated by two 3.5 kW heat pumps that provide virtually all of the heat we require and neither is equipped with resistance strips. Our oil-fired boiler doesn't kick on unless temperatures remain below -15C/5F for an extended period of time, and that's because they're undersized for the load.


I'll call "uncle" on that, my comment was based on anecdotal evidence only. I live in the Pennsylvania, and the people I know with heat pumps complain that they are always running on the "aux" heaters. I've never seen one around here that did not have them.

Most conventional air source heat pumps have auxiliary heat strips, although so-called "hybrid" or "dual-fuel" systems that utilize natural gas or propane for back-up are increasingly more popular (my heat pumps are ductless units and these systems are not normally equipped with heat strips as they're not intended to serve as primary heating systems).

A properly sized and properly maintained heat pump should be capable of supplying at least 90 per cent of your home's space heating requirements; if auxiliary heat is frequently used (beyond what is required for defrosting and as supplemental heat during the coldest days of the year), I would suspect a system malfunction or the unit is undersized for the home.

Setback thermostats or constantly adjusting the thermostat are other possible causes. On most systems, if you bump up the thermostat by more than two degrees, the auxiliary heat strips will kick on to help speed up the process. There are intelligent setback thermostats that are designed to eliminate this problem; they work well and can save homeowners a lot of money.


Heat pumps loose efficiency as the outdoor temperature decreases and may not be a good choice for cold climates. Here on the Gulf Coast I rarely use auxilary heat.

In cold climates geothermal is a better choice than air source heat pumps. Gorund temperature is usually in the 60 F range.

I guess it depends on how you define cold. Our newer ductless heat pump operates at nearly two-thirds of its nominal heating capacity at -18C/0F, and with a HSPF of 9.3, it's seasonal COP is 2.73 (7,800 HDDs).


That's nice enough out on the coasts, but move to the middle of the continent and those are reasonably warm winter temperatures.

Go West and NW of the Great Lakes and you really need ground source or some other deep-cold tolerant solution.

I would be reluctant to recommend an air source heat pump if winter temperatures routinely fall below -15C, with a few possible exceptions. For example, if the home is heated with electric baseboards or an in-floor radiant heating system and the owner desires air conditioning, a $1,500.00 ductless heat pump may not be a bad option -- if the primary heating fuel is oil, electricity or propane, I certainly wouldn't rule it out. I have a friend in Heron, MT who installed two high efficiency Fujitsu heat pumps in his home to help reduce his fuel oil consumption (he use to burn through an average of 1,600 gallons/year); from what I'm told, he's extremely pleased with their performance (and Heron sure ain't no Miami).


Wow, thanks for the evaluations. I'll keep them in mind.

BTW, did anybody else see this:

RE: Winter Heat..
Don't forget that their Waste Heat in warmer seasons often gets removed with even MORE A/C running.. I think you do a good bit better than a 'wash' with the savings..

I've had a few fixtures that were no good for CFL's, but it seems that Heat Buildup was killing a lot of these. Changing Covers and Diffusers so that lamps could keep cooler has made most of my CFL's last a good long time. (I still have to remind myself to put dates on them when I put them in, so I actually know.. but I barely ever replace bulbs, so that habit is hard to establish..

It's true that CFLs emit less heat. This is a disadvantage in winter, but an advantage in summer. Really, do we want our lamps to serve as space heaters? I used to hate getting fried by a 60- to 100-watt incandescent bulb. Reading under CFLs is more comfortable.

Regarding the mercury content, you have to weigh that against the amount of mercury emitted into the air by coal-burning power plants. That is much more difficult to control -- with CFLs, on the other hand, we have at least the potential to come up with an appropriate disposal method.

In the winter any energy you save will just be replaced by your heating system, as you lose the heat output of the bulbs.

The waste heat from incandescent lamps is likely to be three to five times more costly than natural gas and two to three times more costly, on average, than a conventional air source heat pump. This waste heat doesn't reduce your net heating costs as, in this case, you end up substituting a more expensive heat source for one that normally provides this service.

The failure rate is high - cheap disposable electronics is still just that.

If the CFL is Energy Star certified, you should be assured of good results. My recommendation is to stick with a major brand such as Osram Sylvania, GE or Philips (I tend to favour Philips as I've had particularly good luck with this brand, but YMMV).

The mercury problem is significant, and I wonder how other byproducts of the the manufacturing process compare to incandescent.

On the question of Hg, I think you'll find CFLs win hands down. Roughly one-half of the electricity generated in the United States is coal fired (source: http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/epa/epat1p1.html) and U.S. power plants reportedly emit some 48 tonnes of Hg each year, most all of which through the burning of coal. The blended national average, as I understand it, falls somewhere between 0.012 and 0.016 mg of Hg per kWh.

A Philips 25-watt SLS Universal CFL provides 1,750 initial lumens, the equivalent of a 100-watt incandescent, and has a rated life of 15,000 hours (at three hours per start). I have several in my home that do dusk to dawn duty, and each has clocked well over 20,000 hours at this point. This particular lamp contains 2.64 mg of Hg and over the course of its nominal life will consume a total of 375 kWh of electricity; the incandescent alternative (and there will be roughly twenty of 'em) -- 1,500 kWh.

Based on the U.S. national average, our incandescent option will result in the release of approximately 21 mg of Hg (i.e., 0.014 mg/kWh x 1,500 kWh); the CFL, 5.25 mg. If you were to smash the CFL at the end of its life and throw the remnants into the wind, you could bump that final number to 7.65 mg. Of course, the extra electricity consumed by these incandescent lamps would result in the release of some 1,533 lbs of CO2, 6.11 lbs of SO2, 2.37 lbs of NOx, and As, Cr, Cd, Ni and Pb in various measures. One might also consider the additional environmental impacts related to the mining, transportation and handling of the primary fuel, as well as the added costs pertaining to the generation, transmission and distribution of this power.

Most importantly, the Hg contained inside a CFL can be recycled or properly stored within a secure landfill, whereas the Hg released from the burning of coal indiscriminately pollutes our air, land and water. The good news is that a growing number of retailers such as Home Depot and Ikea allow you to drop off your used CFLs for recycling.


(I tend to favour Philips as I've had particularly good luck with this brand, but YMMV).

I second that. I had an enclosed kitchen fixture that burned through 60w incandescents faster than any other lamp in the house. (There were 3 inside an enclosed case, and it was like a circus knife act to open the fixture to change them)

I replaced the bulbs with Phillips CFLs and got many years of trouble free service.

That fixture was replaced at the insistence of my realtor last November to sell the old place, I kept the bulbs and I'm now using them in the ceiling cans in my new office.

The worst luck I've had with Feit brand CFLs is in swing arm desk lamps. The shade seems to really hold in the heat and I've killed a couple that way. (Very bad smell™) They've otherwise been pretty good.

In my book you should always buy premium CFLs for hot or damp locations, they seem to survive better.

As a general rule, CFLs don't perform well in fully enclosed or unvented fixtures, but the Philips SLS seems to be the most rugged and heat tolerant of all (in the automotive world, this CFL would be your 225 Slant-6 -- virtually indestructible). In less demanding applications, I've also found Osram Sylvania's Daylight Plus mini-twists to be good performers, however, my experience with Feit CFLs, much like your own, has been far less satisfactory.

Osram Sylvania has recently introduced its Living Spaces line of CFLs. From what we're told, they provide a generally more pleasing light than standard CFLs (I have yet to try one, so I can't personally vouch for this). They also contain less than 1.5 mg of Hg.

see: http://www.sylvania.com/content/display.scfx?id=003698705


I have to say...I hate CFLs, and have had very bad luck with them. I use them, but I hate them.

I've been using them a long time, before most people even heard of them. I used to be really into planted fishtanks, and it's hard to get enough light over them unless you use specialized lighting. And from the beginning, I found the reality did not even approach the hype.

Perhaps the problem is that I live in a rickety old building, with old wiring. But CFLs don't last very long. I've tried several different brands - Sylvania, Phillips, etc. - and none of them last as long as they're supposed to. Some don't even last as long as incandescents. It takes them awhile to warm up, and I find the dimness very annoying. They are very bright for the first week or so, then the light falls off dramatically. It keeps falling off, though not as drastically. And even when they're bright, I don't like the quality of the light.

I've never tried LEDs, but I'd like to.

They literally cause me discomfort. Alan suggested a brand that is supposed to improve that. Perhaps he'll post it again if he reads this.


Ott-Lite (Lowe's sells them, 15 & 25 watt = 60 & 100 watt incandescents). A high CRI (color rendering index) and high K (looks white towards blue) light. I find that colors do look considerably more vibrant with them.

For dimmable lights, I use cold cathode (a minute to reach full brightness) bulbs from Micro-Brite (I think Sylvania just added cold cathode CFLs).



10% sale ATM I think

Cold Cathode CFLs differ from other CFLs in several ways.

1) I have not seen, in recent years, one larger than 8 watts#
2) No life lost to frequent off/on cycles. Longer life overall
3) Dimmable
4) Lower lumens/watt (SWAG -20% less).
5) They tend to cost more
6) The only 2, 3 and 4 watt CFLs are cold cathode

Best Hopes for the right bulb for the right application,


# I suspect that any dimmable CFL is either cold cathode or "cool" cathode and some dimmables are more than 8 watts. Technology keep changing :-)

The lumen maintenance curve of the Living Space CFLs is shown on page two of the above PDF. At end-of-life, it's down to roughly 85 per cent of initial lumens, which is pretty much in line with most CFLs. That's not all that far off from standard incandescent lamps, which lose about ten per cent of their initial output due to normal bulb wall blackening.

I can't honestly recall any notable performance issues with name brand CFLs, and that's over the span of some twenty-five years (and self-ballasted GE Circlelines prior to that). I've probably installed a thousand or more in various commercial environments where power quality can be a bit hit and miss -- there were definitely a few "duds" right out of the box and others that didn't reach full maturity, but the vast majority have performed as promised.

If CFLs aren't your cup of tea, the high performance incandescents from Philips may be a better alternative.


The mercury problem is significant, and I wonder how other byproducts of the the manufacturing process compare to incandescent.

If coal generation is used, CFL bulbs significantly reduce the amount of mercury released into the environment. The newer designs use a lot less of it than the older. Detractors always pick the old numbers that are no longer relevant. CFL toxics are a minor problem which can be easily handled via recycling. I take my old dead CFLs to Orchard supply, and get discounts for new ones for my troubles.

Fmr. Spkr. Newt Gingrich just finished his testimony before the House Energy Subcmte.


I was unfortunate to be able to listen in. It would make the informed readers here pull their hair out.

Did he mention peak oil?

I stopped listening after Gore, I have to confess. (Who did mention it directly and clearly, as I said earlier) But he was taking some reediculous drilling from the R's. Thought he did pretty well.. though I can see why he was coy about the cost to us. The Sticker-shock on what's coming is no easy news to tell.

I don't even want to hear how much it is. Just let me get to work.


No, but he did mention finding "100 years of natural gas" in the last three years. And he made a big deal out of the deep waters of Brazil, and was all agog over Nuclear.

But the highlight of the testimony was his repeated references to spas and hot tubs, which, as it turns out, was in the appliance efficiency section of the bill under discussion, and was apparently not controversial to the makers and sellers of this non-necessity.

If I get a bee in my bonnet I may track down the transcript later and enumerate his talking points, but it seems like there's not enough tubes in the internets to wash away his nonsense. (Willful ignorance is a renewable resource.)

Newt Gingrich testimony before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce

The fact is we have more energy resources than any other country in the world. Our estimated shale oil resources in the Rocky Mountains alone are three times the size of the Saudi Arabian oil reserves. We have 27 percent of the world‘s coal.

Party on dudes!

As I said before, the Republicans propose--planning to utilize near infinite fossil fuel resources--to drive off the cliff in a Hummer, while the Democrats--planning to transition from near infinite fossil fuel resources to infinite alternative energy sources--propose to drive off the cliff in a plug-in hybrid.

I suggest that we all head to the nearest bar for happy hour.

You buying? I am a black Russian guy myself, might as well go off the cliff with the right attitude.

Leanan, I spoke too soon: From the video...

17:35 Third, I think that enhanced oil recovery, as a component of carbon sequestration, could lead to up to 100 billion barrels of additional oil coming out of existing fields which is a key answer to the peak oil question, which creates jobs in the US, keeps money in the US, helps our foreign exchange rate, solves an environmental challenge while also solving an economic challenge.

I'm too dizzy from just typing it in to unpack that word salad.

I think he's talking about recovering an additional 100BBL in the USA - over the predicted tail, perhaps by using enhanced interrogation techniques on the peak oil crowd.

Still the very words "Peak Oil" must have burned his tongue as he spoke them. My scar was burning.

Thanks! Someone at PeakOil.com said Newt Gingrich mentioned peak oil, and I could hardly believe it.

Joseph Palmer -

Lately, Newt Gingrich seems to be showing up all over the place, talking about anything to anybody who will listen. I find that not only annoying, but worrisome, particularly when he spouts off on energy.

It looks to me like he's trying to set himself up as the point-man for general Republican opposition to Obama's policies. Plus, I suspect that he pictures himself as having a long-shot for the 2012 nomination. Lord help us all! But perhaps by 2012 the presidential race will be the least of our concerns.

Actually Newt is the perfect repug candidate. While he doesn't have the thrice divorced, ex drug addict, abusive thug persona of Rush, he has abandoned his ex wife during cancer therapy, and is scientifically illiterate.
This counts, as a badge of honor among republicans is: "I dumb as possible, and proud of it".

abandoned his ex wife during cancer therapy

Is this the new Repuglican motto:
Survival of the Most Ruthless?

Was his ex's name, Ruth perchance?
(Shucks no, it was Jackie)

"abandoned his ex wife during cancer therapy"

Of course, as John Edwards has shown, the R's don't have a monopoly on this. "Honey, can you take a cab home from your chemo treatment, I'm busy banging my camera lady".

There is a significant difference between an affair and serving divorce papers during chemo.


yikes ! 24/7 perpetual campaigning.

edit: on second thought, that may be benifitial, the country seemed to proper during the clinton yrs with congressional gridlock.

Baker Hughes Rig Report is out:

The US count dropped 18 rigs last week including 14 fewer horizontal rigs. Those horizontals shutting down means low prices are even cutting into the best plays remaining.


Is there any compilation of rig-count numbers over a period of time -- say 10 years or more?


-- Jon

Yes, right here:


They have US back to 1948 in the Excel file on North America.

They have world on/offshore back to 1982 a little further down. And it includes world gas/oil split back to 1995

I always have to remember how new the internet and comprehensive databases really are. Very, very new.

What a goldmine of data!!!

Hello TODers,

More golf course closures in my Asphaltistan? This Depression+ appears to be gaining greater force than the '30s Depression:

An 80-year-old West Valley resort and two Biltmore golf courses face foreclosure with an auction scheduled in July, according to a filing with the Maricopa County Recorders Office.

In jeopardy are the Wigwam Golf Resort & Spa in Litchfield Park, as well as Arizona Biltmore Golf Club, which includes The Links and The Adobe, next to the separately owned historic Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa.
These are among the top-tier Resorts in the Southwest. Hopefully, Tiger Woods [now with two offspring] and Justin Timberlake will eventually come around to more careful contemplation of their names, then alter their postPeak goals.

The Start of a Dry Spell for POT?

..in North America, where farmers' financial position is strong, they are still weighing the risk of lower yields from reduced fertilizer application - especially of phosphate and potash - on profitability at a time of strong crop commodity prices. This situation has the potential to reduce nutrient applications for the 2008/09 fertilizer year by significantly more than the record 15 percent reduction in 1982/83, when plantings declined by 40 million acres. To put this reduction into context, it is now expected that US farmers will apply approximately the same amount of nutrients this fertilizer year as they did in 1983. However, the current plantings include 37 million more acres of corn and soybeans. This scenario is unprecedented in magnitude and unpredictable in consequences...

Global Population: 4.690 billion
As most here know: we are rapidly closing in on the 7 billion total, with One billion already malnourished or even worse [UN FAO]. Will Just-In-Time [JIT] become Just-Isn't-There?

[10 page warning ahead]

Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc. Q1 2009 Earnings Call Transcript

A year ago, concerns over world food shortages were headline news and little has changed to alleviate the pressure on food supply. The world's population continues to grow. Economies in countries like China and India, although not as robust, keep expanding giving their people more money to spend on food. At the same time, global grain inventories remain historically tight.

This was brought to the forefront again earlier this week as G8 officials called for increasing public and private investment in agriculture citing growing concerns over the global food supply. A dangerous game is now unfolding around the world. Fertilizer applications are being reduced at unprecedented levels, with our estimates for North American potash applications falling as much as 30% to 35%, phosphate by 20% to 25% and nitrogen by 5% to 10%.

To put this in context, U.S. applications this fertilizer year are expected to be similar in total volume to the 1983 pick year while farmers now need to generate 90% more production than in 1983 and will plant 25 million additional acres of corn, the most fertilizer intensive crop in the U.S. Clearly, nutrient replenishment will suffer.

This level of reduction has never been seen before. No one can state precisely what the impact will be on the world's food supply immediately or over the longer term, but we know with scientific certainty that nutrient under application damages both crop yields and quality.

Farmers in the southern hemisphere reduced their potash applications for the current crop just now being harvested and the timing could not have been worse. Potash is a quality nutrient. It improves the taste and nutritional value of food. It enhances water retention, raises yields and helps plants fight disease and drought.

With less than ideal growing conditions this season, those farmers in Argentina and Brazil are now experiencing a substantial decline in yields. We would not be surprised to see farmers in other major producing regions having similar declines this year. After two record world crops in 2007 and 2008, the year 2009 could be a completely different story.

The most valuable part of a farm is the quality of its soil and large amounts of nutrients are mined from the soil with every harvest. Every time farmers grow a crop without replacing the nutrients, it's like borrowing money with no repayment plan, and there is no magical bail out for lost fertility in the soil bank...
Also recall my earlier weblink on plummeting yields in the Ukraine due to insufficient I/O-NPK. IMO, we need to somehow reform global agriculture so that the general trend is towards a 20:1 ERoEI of a Liebscher's Optimum versus JIT bouncing along just barely above a potential Liebig Minimum.

We should spread Peak Outreach so that Bill Doyle's haunted 1,000 yard stare will be on as few hungry childrens' faces as possible:


It can't be much fun for him to reduce I-NPK production while his mind fills with countless Google Images of famine:


Toto, as you stated, U.S. farmers are using less fertilizer every year, and getting bigger, and bigger yields (in fact, I'll betcha 2009 will be the biggest yields, Ever.)

It's advanced farming techniques, and G.M. Seeds. The rest of the world will catch up, eventually.

Hello Kdolliso,

Thxs for your reply, and I certainly hope your prediction is right because a lot of other ag-regions don't look so good right now. For a possible contrary view [from page 8 of the POT transcript]:
[Bill Doyle]: I think for some [USA] farmers they do maintain the soil bank at pretty decent levels. If you're a smart farmer, if you think for example right now, phosphate and nitrogen are really cheap again, so if I was a farmer, I'd think about building my N&P levels up because it's cheap.

But if you look at it from a scientific point of view, if you think about the analysis that we've done through the International Planned Nutrition Institute, what they're saying is that in phosphate and potash, U.S. soils and soil test results about 40% of the total U.S. soils are under applied in P&K right now.
A Liebscher's Optimum of an ideal, well-balanced, and mulchy topsoil offers a crop, whether GM-seeds or not, the best chance to productively weather adverse conditions of drought, frost, high winds, pounding rain, disease, weeds, and bugs to finally achieve a high harvest yield.

In short: optimized soil = strong plants like Lance Armstrong, non-optimized soil = weaker plants like TV's Barney Fife of Mayberry.

I agree that new farm-tech and seeds can help, but it can't overcome soil NPK deficiencies or an outright Liebig Minimum. According to Bill Doyle above: it appears lots of US farmers need more training in soil-science.

The International Plant Nutrition Institute information shows that crop response will not be greatly affected by P and K above the critical range. Many soils have sufficient reserves to reduce inputs of P and K for a few years. So cutting back for a season or two may reduce yields slightly on non-critical soils. This is not a recipe for disaster, but it is not a good thing with grain stocks near all time lows.

This is a really outstanding piece, I'm going to dig into some of Lifton's other papers: Resource Investor - Commentary: "Nothing but sophistry and illusion” with regard to lithium and the electric-car promise

The deposits above -- all inhospitable alkaline, it goes without saying -- are in Chile (Atacama), Argentina (Hombre Muerto) and Bolivia (Uyuni). All are lithium containing brines, which present as immense salt flats, under the surface of which are highly concentrated liquids: brines. The manner in which such brines are processed is to create vast ponds that are allowed to evaporate naturally using solar irradiation (sunlight) as the drying agent. SQM told me that for their Atacama works this step takes 18 months! It is simply not, and never will be, practical to move mountains of slush through drying kilns that would need to be powered by immense fossil fuel burning or nuclear plants. The cost of building such facilities in the remote desert or even of solar thermal facilities to concentrate the sun’s heat would be so expensive as to destroy the economics of any battery project.

It cannot be overlooked that the electric motors in many electrified vehicles intended to utilize permanent magnet-type electric drive motors depend for their maximum efficiency on neodymium-iron-boron magnets, so that even electrified vehicles using lithium-ion batteries will have their total production limited by the availability of rare earths.

The numbers show that for the next generation, at least 25 years away, the total annual possible production of electrified personal vehicles will be limited by the rate of natural resource production, particularly of the rare earths and lithium. The peak possible production will probably be well under 10 million Chevrolet Volt equivalent powered vehicles per year well into the 2030s. After that it may well turn out that we finally exhaust our accessible minable resources of critical metals for the electrification of cars so that recycling or limited availability both become mandatory.

Hello The Dude,

Thxs for the info. As posted before: I have long encouraged bicycles and small gasoline scooters/motorcycles/trikes/quads to be the default transport choice. Save your big four-wheeled vehicle for when you need to haul a large load, or a bunch of family/friends. Hopefully, this will help prevent most postPeak pickup trucks from having easy-swiveling, combo .50 cal and RPG bed-mounted gunracks. :(

No arguments here, Bob. I've speculated for a while that the big automakers might have to go on a considerable car body size diet, post deregulation of such superficialities as crash test rating. One wonders what that would do for their production figures; magnify that by a handful if they went whole hog into motorcycles/scooters/EBikes. Used to butt heads with JD about this stuff a lot, one can only wonder. WWII gives the example of the big 3 doing a 180 from rider boards to deuce-and-a-halfs, but that was then, this is now, yada yada yada.

Up your alley: note also that lithium is extracted from brines whose primary ingredient is good 'ol potash:

Everyone needs also to understand that all of the South American brine deposits being worked, or looked at, for lithium are primarily potash deposits with lithium as a by-product of low overall value. SQM’s potash deposits (Atacama), which have the highest lithium content, show that 11% of revenues are from lithium. This is today a blessing, and even if lithium value should decline, SQM will and can produce potash. The question for Bolivia is: Could Uyuni deposits be stand alone producers of lithium, or does Bolivia first have to develop a major potash industry? Stock tipsters and analysts aren’t interested in these details, but as we all know, therein lays the devil.

The production of lithium from brines has been the majority source of lithium production only since 1994, and in South America, it is the chemistry of the brines that is critical to their economics being practical.

I've speculated for a while that the big automakers might have to go on a considerable car body size diet, post deregulation of such superficialities as crash test rating

As both a producer, and a consumer, I hope we continue to design with safety in mind. My employer sells software utilized in crash analysis, and we hope that the new demands for both energy efficiency, and user safety will drive need for more -rather than less engineering. It certainly should be possible to design radically smaller vehicles, which are nearly as safe as current large ones (although that will only be doable, if the other vehicles on the road also shrink). Safety requirements, of course are the enemy of DIY modifiers, and of tiny upstart vehicle makers.

IRAQ production to decline by 10%

This is the headline from MEED:

Baghdad faces fall in oil production

Poor management of southern oil fields expected to lead to 10 per cent decline in total output.


I don't have membership to read the full article, but the above is in line with what I expect over the next few months, if Iraq does not sign any new oil deals quickly; however the security situation seems to be getting worst in Baghdad (check the news on the latest attacks), and the Kirkuk issue is far from being resolved, if things blow up in Iraq as the US pull out, expect production to decline by atleast half very quickly..


Saving the planet by numbers (David MacKay on the BBC)

Even if we imagine strong efficiency measures and smart technology switches, halving our energy consumption from 125 kWh per day per person to 60 kWh per day, we should not kid ourselves about the scale of the energy challenge which would remain.

Britain could, for example, get 60 kWh per day per person by building wind farms with an area equal to Wales (which would deliver on average 20 kWh per day per person) and a hundred more nuclear power stations (which would deliver 40 kWh per day per person).

I am not pro-wind or pro-nuclear: I am just pro-arithmetic.

Re: Greenland's 'good news' methane finding

I have two problems with the conclusions reached by the paper. One, the comparison of current conditions with those of the Younger Dryas and, two, methane content in the atmosphere has risen each of the last two years.

The first is problematic because the temperatures at the time of the Younger Dryas were a couple of degrees cooler than today. (Scroll down about halfway for 4 charts, one of which is temps from current back to 16k yrs.)

This is problematic because reports starting from last summer on emissions from clathrates and permafrost indicated that they were within 1 - 3C of becoming generally unstable. (Given we have what appear to be increasing emissions already, this appears to be conservative.)

Back in the Younger Dryas, they didn't contribute for at lest one very simple reason: they were still several degrees from general instability.

I don't doubt their findings, but the conclusion isn't tenable based on what we know of the current state of the Arctic. Additional points are a very large increase in thermokarst lakes, that melting in the Arctic is far ahead of the global average and the summer warming and melt extends up to a thousand miles inland from the Arctic Ocean.



The results, they believe, are evidence of the predicted amplification effect.

"You see this large warming over the Arctic ocean of around 3C in these last four years compared to the long-term mean," explained Dr Stroeve.

"You see some smaller areas where you have temperature warming of maybe 5C; and this warming is directly located over those areas where we've lost all the ice."


The Arctic region as a whole has seen a 4C rise in average temperatures over recent decades and a dramatic decline in the area of the Arctic Ocean covered by summer sea ice.

“With warming in climate, permafrost is warming as well, of course,” he said. “Eventually it will cross threshold and start to thaw.”


According to Romanovsky, most of the permafrost in Interior Alaska is already near that threshold. It’s 30 or 31 degrees.

In general, permafrost exists in places where the annual average temperature is below freezing. But other factors also play a role. Mosses and plant matter help maintain permafrost by insulating the ground from warm air in the summer, and snowcover can actually degrade it by insulating the ground from cold air in the winter.

The mean annual air temperature in Fairbanks is 27 or 28 degrees — at least 4 degrees below the temperature theoretically needed for permafrost. But the insulating snowcover has brought the frozen ground much closer to its tipping point.


Hello TODers,

Mexico City on alert over swine flu outbreak
* Mexican schools close amid swine flu fears
* Swine flu strain has killed dozens in Mexico, affected eight in U.S.
* Officials say new strain has resisted some antiviral drugs
Let's hope the US & Mexico can get this under control.

EDIT: http://www.voanews.com/english/2009-04-25-voa9.cfm
..Authorities closed schools, museums, libraries and theaters in the capital, Mexico City, to try to contain any possible outbreak. Many people in the capital were wearing face masks while in public. Authorities say 1,000 people have become ill.

Mexico's Health Minister, Jose Angel Cordoba, says the new influenza mutated from pigs to humans and is now considered a "respiratory outbreak."
I would think canceling airflights to Mexico and shutting the border would also be priority #1 to help contain this to just a local pandemic.