Drumbeat: April 29, 2009

Tunnel's cost may fool us all

A professor at Oxford University in England has done a compelling series of studies trying to get at why big public-works projects such as bridges, tunnels and light-rail systems almost always turn out to be far more costly than estimated.

"It cannot be explained by error," sums up one of his papers, matter-of-factly. "It is best explained by strategic misrepresentation — that is, lying."

The professor, Bent Flyvbjerg (pronounced flew-byair), has become a flash point in civic-planning circles. Some think he's a rock star; others say his analysis is too cynical.

It started seven years ago, when he published the first large study of cost overruns in 258 mega-transportation projects. He found that nine out of 10 came in over budget, and that the average cost overrun was nearly 30 percent. Rail systems had an average cost escalation of 45 percent.

Shell First-Quarter Oil, Gas Production Falls 3.6%

(Bloomberg) -- Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Europe’s biggest oil company, said first-quarter crude and natural-gas production fell 3.6 percent because of reduced Nigerian output and OPEC restrictions.

Total output, including bitumen from oil sands, declined to 3.396 million barrels of oil equivalent a day from 3.522 million barrels a day a year earlier, The Hague-based Shell said today in a statement. Extraction in Nigeria fell about 90,000 barrels a day in the period because of security issues, Chief Financial Officer Peter Voser said today.

“The main item was the downtime of the Soku gas processing plant” in Nigeria, Voser said on a conference call with reporters. He declined to comment on when the unit will resume operations. “Pipelines have been damaged by significant illegal bunkering of condensate.”

Ont. government backs down on plan to require energy audit on home sales

Ontario Energy Minister George Smitherman has backed down from a plan to require energy audits each time a house is sold.

A new amendment to the province's Green Energy Act will allow home buyers to waive their right to the $300 audit, as long as they do so in writing.

New England grid says power supplies OK for summer

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Power grid operator ISO New England said Wednesday the six-state region should have adequate electric resources to meet consumer demand this summer.

The ISO also said current economic conditions will likely keep peak power demand relatively unchanged from 2008 levels.

China low-carbon path hard but doable - study

Beijing - China must swiftly decouple its rapid economic growth from rising carbon dioxide emissions for global greenhouse gas levels to stay manageable, the authors of a new study said, urging sweeping support to help that transition.

The study from Britain's Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research by Tao Wang and Jim Watson finds China can transform into a "low-carbon economy" with the right mix of clean energy, carbon storage technology and development policies.

But at the release of the report to officials and experts in Beijing on Wednesday, Wang said the task of turning the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitter into a green economy will be difficult, even in the easier scenarios.

‘Failing State’ Yemen May Send Terror to Gulf as Economy Fades

Yemen, the poorest Arab nation, is seeing annual tourist numbers dwindle to the thousands from 100,000 two decades ago because of worsening security. This is ending government hopes that its historical landmarks, including the 3,000-year-old Queen of Sheba temple and four United Nations World Heritage sites, can generate revenue and jobs to diversify the oil- dominated economy.

The country’s 2.8 billion barrels of oil reserves, which fund 70 percent of the national budget, are forecast by the government to run out over the next decade. With little foreign aid, economic prospects are shrinking for a population that is expected to double by 2030 to 40 million.

The threat is rising of social unrest that could strengthen al-Qaeda as it seeks to use Yemen as a base to destabilize neighboring Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest exporter of crude. Somalia, across the Gulf of Aden, hasn’t had a functioning central government since 1991 and has become a breeding ground for pirates who attack shipping lanes.

Argentina’s energy sector under “persistent productive decadence”

Since 2005 Argentina has consumed 25% of its natural gas reserves, 15% of oil reserves and the Mar Argentino (South Atlantic) which has “great possibilities remains virtually untouched”, reads a critical report on the outlook for the Argentine energy sector compiled by eight former Energy Secretaries from different governments.

Nigeria's dependence on oil, cause of energy crisis—Minister

ENUGU—MINISTER of Power, Dr Rilwan Babalola has blamed the lingering energy crisis that has seriously stunted economic growth in the country on what he described as the over centralisation of the nation’s energy supply network and total dependence on crude oil.

He also announced Federal Government’s desire to diversify electricity supply in the country, saying this necessitated the development of coal-fired power plants and the revitalization of the country’s coal mining industry to provide enough fuel for power generation.

Oil Sands Cos Still Hesitate on Projects Despite Falling Costs

Costs in Canada's pricey oil sands are starting to fall but nervous developers are still leery of giving the green light to stalled projects.

N.Y. Natural Gas Aims for Bottom Near $2.75: Technical Analysis

(Bloomberg) -- Natural gas futures will probably tumble to a bottom near $2.75 per million British thermal units before rebounding, according to a technical analysis by Tom Orr, research director at Weeden & Co.

Shell, BP win from trading despite oil's collapse

LONDON (Reuters) - Crude oil prices might have collapsed, but winning bets in energy trading helped Royal Dutch Shell Plc and BP Plc beat analysts' earnings forecasts this week.

Shell followed an oil industry trend of posting a sharp drop in first-quarter profit on Wednesday due to lower crude prices, but exceeded forecasts. [ID:nLS836370] A day earlier, its rival BP did the same.

"There is no doubt that the first quarter saw some very strong overall contributions from our supply and trading operations," BP's chief financial officer, Byron Grote, told analysts on Tuesday.

"It was about $500 million higher than what we would consider the normal range of quarterly volatility."

Shell says retendering some Port Arthur contracts

LONDON (Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSa.L) is retendering some contracts for the expansion of its Port Arthur refinery in the U.S., but this will not lead to any delays in startup of the new capacity.

Zero return for Norway oil fund

Norway's sovereign wealth fund, the oil fund, has had roughly a zero percent return on its investments in global stocks and bonds so far this year, its executive director said today.

"Markets were very weak in January, so the portfolio dropped further, but markets picked up and total returns are at around zero percent so far this year," Reuters quoted Yngve Slyngstad telling a hearing at the Norwegian parliament.

Nigeria: Fuel scarcity resurfaces as marketers ration product

BARELY a week after the petroleum tanker drivers-induced fuel scarcity ended, long queues yesterday emerged at filling stations in some states of the federation. The development was, however, attributed to oil marketers rationing the products to retail outlets at the depots.

This rationing has led to drop in product allocations at both the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and independent fuel depots in Lagos and Ogun states.

Long queues were noticed at several filling stations in Lagos metropolis yesterday.

Malaysia: Appeal to use less electricity

KOTA KINABALU: Worsening electricity shortage in Sabah has led to the following advice: reduce the use of air conditioners and switch off lights that are not needed for up to seven hours daily.

Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB) is requesting consumers' cooperation in reducing consumption from 10am to 3pm and from 7pm to 9pm, as these are critical power load hours.

Re-Envisioning Electricity In The U.S.

The electricity grid is a marvel of reliability, but, in many ways, a throwback to century-old technology. And for a future with more computers and gizmos of every kind — and more power from renewable sources — the grid is going to need some major work.

Congress Working to Toughen Sanctions on Iran

WASHINGTON -- Congress is taking up a bipartisan proposal which would give the Obama administration more leverage over Iran by toughening economic sanctions on foreign oil and shipping firms that aid Tehran.

A group of Democrats and Republicans introduced legislation Tuesday that would give the president expanded authority to crack down on companies that export gasoline and other refined petroleum products to Iran.

Nuclear solution comes with a huge price tag

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A ghost from the nuclear industry's early years has reappeared.

It is not public apprehension about safety or disposal issues this time, but the staggering cost of building nuclear reactors.

A wave of new reactors now in the works is intended to solve at least part of the nation's energy problems as it attempts to shift away from fossil fuels. But cost is likely to plague every upcoming nuclear project.

This month in Missouri the first of the next generation reactors was put on hold because of the $6 billion price tag.

Whether or not AmerenUE's Missouri reactor was a casualty of the current economic climate, the legal fight in several states shows how big the cost hurdle will be.

Companies that want to build new nuclear reactors

A list of companies that have announced their intent to submit applications to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for new plant licenses.

Pemex not affected by earthquake

Mexican state-owned Pemex is operating normally despite an earthquake that hit Mexico yesterday and an outbreak of swine flu, said a company spokesman.

"We haven't seen any damage yet," said the spokesman, adding that the company is still checking for earthquake damage and it is premature to rule out any incidents.

Aramco to start H2 naphtha talks

Saudi Aramco, Asia's top naphtha term supplier, will hold its July-December term negotiations with Asian buyers in London on May 11, coming at a time of weakening demand, traders said.

The last time the heavyweight supplier held talks in mid-December, the market was also struggling to emerge from its worst-ever slump due to poor Chinese demand.

Chicago area transit use jumps 9% over last 5 years, RTA says

More area residents used public transit, and there was more public transit to use between 2003 and 2007, according to a Regional Transportation Authority report to be released today.

Both the number of miles of service available and the number of miles traveled by riders rose about 9 percent in those five years, the report found. The average number of annual rides taken per Chicago area resident also rose, from 69.6 in 2003 to 72.9 in 2007.

But the cost of keeping the buses and trains running rose faster than the rate of inflation, due to higher fuel, labor and health care costs. Capital funding sunk from $1.04 billion in 2007 to $345 million in 2007.

Residents unite for slice of the good life

When climate change hits and oil reserves run dry, it will be business as usual in a quiet corner of North Yorkshire.

In Israel, solar power that won’t need subsidies

Kvutzat Yavne, Israel - In a country that ranks among the world’s highest for average number of sunny days per year, solar energy has long been seen as a key natural resource here.

All the more fitting that on the eve of its Independence Day Israel launched what it said was the first solar farm of its kind, billed as a breakthrough that will make it affordable to reduce reliance on fossil fuels.

NASA scientist warns of climate change

The effects can be seen today, Hansen said, at shrinking glacier fields and in bodies of water such as Lake Mead and Lake Powell that are at half capacity.

But Hansen isn't concerned about the hardships that global climate change may have on his life. They're almost nominal when compared with what his grandchildren will see, he said. That is why he wants mitigate the effects now and help preserve an adequate habitat for future generations.

"The Earth belongs to future generations," said Hansen, who heads NASA's Goddard Institute of Space Studies, "and we have the obligation of returning it to them in equal or better condition."

POLL - World oil demand to fall far more than thought

LONDON/NEW YORK (Reuters) - World oil demand is forecast to fall this year by much more than previously expected, as growth stalls in emerging powerhouses China and India and fuel consumption declines in the developed world.

Estimates see oil growth re-emerging in 2010, but analysts remain divided about how severe this year's demand contraction will be, as the short-term global economic outlook remains clouded.

The latest Reuters poll of 11 analysts, banks and industry groups shows oil consumption will decline by an average of 1.56 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2009 to 84.10 million bpd.

Danger of having BP contractors over a barrel

With oil prices stuck at less less than $50 a barrel, Tony Hayward, BP’s chief executive, is confronting perhaps the most difficult choice of his career. Should he cut the dividend and face the wrath of investors – and run the risk of losing his job – or curb the group’s spending plans at the expense of future production and growth?

Drilling slump weighs on Baker Hughes

US oilfield services company Baker Hughes saw a 51% fall in first-quarter earnings as a slump in energy prices weighed heavily on drilling activity.

Vice Premier: China hopes for more oil cooperation with Kuwait

China hoped to increase cooperation with Kuwait in the petroleum sector, Vice Premier Li Keqiang said Tuesday in a meeting with Kuwait's oil minister.

"We hope that our countries can expand cooperation in oil exploration, refining, processing and trade," Li told Minister Sheikh Ahmad Al-Abdullah Al-Sabah of Kuwait, one of the world's oil-producing giants.

Ukraine PM says gas tension with Russia easing

(MOSCOW) - Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko on Wednesday said Kiev and Moscow had put behind them disputes over their vital energy trade, after cut-offs in January affected a swathe of EU states.

Meeting Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Tymoshenko said: "It is good that our cooperation is being fine-tuned.... It's good that the times when a certain confrontation was felt are becoming a thing of the past."

"The system of gas supplies in Ukraine has fully stabilized," she said.

Gazprom Fourth-Quarter Net Falls 84% to 37.5 Billion Rubles

(Bloomberg) -- OAO Gazprom, Russia’s gas exporter, had net income of 37.5 billion rubles ($1.13 billion) in the fourth quarter, versus 232 billion rubles a year earlier, according to Bloomberg calculations based on full-year earnings released today.

Oil demand may take hit

China's demand for oil may be dampened by the spread of swine flu, as the tourism and transportation sectors take the brunt of any possible pandemic, analysts said.

There would be further cuts in domestic fuel prices if global crude prices keep falling on fears that the spread of the epidemic could weaken global oil demand, they said.

"Cutbacks in international travel will compound drop in domestic jet fuel consumption," said Han Xiaoping, chief information officer of China5e.com, a website that tracks China's energy sector. "If the situation gets worse, non-freight public transportation such as buses and taxies will be affected, resulting in decreased oil consumption."

Sinopec Expects Higher Profit on Eased Price Controls

(Bloomberg) -- China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., Asia’s biggest refiner, said profit may grow more than 50 percent in the first half after the government eased fuel-price controls and crude oil costs dropped from a record.

Oil and Gas Investor Presents 'Matt Simmons - The Webinar' on Thursday, April 30 at 10:00 a.m. CDT

HOUSTON, April 28 /PRNewswire/ -- Renowned energy expert Matt Simmons will discuss the sobering state of the oil and gas industry -- from the natural gas glut to the Obama Administration's energy policy and the growing talent vacuum -- in a special Oil and Gas Investor presentation on Thursday, April 30, 10 a.m. CDT, from his remarks at the "Strategies for High Performance in Volatile Times" conference.
(Note: Registration costs $100.)

The Green FDR: Obama's first 100 days make -- and may remake -- history

The media just keeps missing -- or messing up -- the story of the century.

Future historians will inevitably judge all 21st-century presidents on just two issues: global warming and the clean energy transition. If the world doesn't stop catastrophic climate change -- Hell and High Water -- then all Presidents, indeed, all of us, will be seen as failures and rightfully so.

A Capitalist Solution to Climate Change and Peak Oil

Amazingly half of the solution is already in place to tackle these two challenges. Half of that solution is our current market system. Over the past few years we have seen a dramatic increase in wind capacity as traditional fossil fuel source power generation has become more expensive. In the U.S. alone wind capacity rose 49.7% due to environmental awareness but mainly due to the economic factors that make renewable energy the most viable long-term energy solution. This stems from the fact that returns on oil exploration and production are falling dramatically not to mention the costs associated with importing oil and the transport energy required.

Interview: David Gard, Michigan Environmental Council Energy Program Director

We're kind of in the same boat as everyone else these days, with other organizations, businesses and universities. Everybody is recognizing that we're in this period, with a lot of things up in the air. A lot of challenges we face: economically, I'm increasingly reading about peak oil, where we can no longer take for granted that we're going to have plentiful resources that we've never questioned. Especially as other questions around the world, their quality of living explodes and people are replicating the American Way of doing things around the world. These are really serious issues. The future of a group like us is leading people to understand the scope and severity of the challenges we face. The environmental movement started back in the late 1960s or 70s. Back then it was focused on things you could see: power plants and dirty cars, but that's where it needed to start. That was the front and center. But over time, I think the challenge has been once you get some of those solutions under control, the problems become more dispersed and harder to put your finger on. They all add up. The best example of that is climate change, because you can't see it, and it's got these big delays built into it. What our future holds to be really successful is to be good communicators and help people understand why this is relevant to our lives. Everyone is worried about the economy right now, and people aren't getting why the economy is wholly surrounded by the biosphere. It's all based on the resource space, the health of the air, the water resources, and all these things. All the trends are in the wrong direction. Take agriculture for instance. We've created an agriculture system that is very energy intensive. We throw all these fossil fuels into creating our food. We're depleting huge aquifers across the water table ... It's easy to ignore things like this when they're not eminent, but a lot of the trend lines are not favorable. To close that loop, people are thinking about the economy but we can't solve where we are right now and build a viable long term prosperous economy until we think about the other things and take into account and take care of the things that the others depend ... They don't factor in the whole cost all over the place. Energy prices might rise a bit, but over there, health care costs might dramatically reduce.

We don’t have an extra planet – so we must buy local

Robert Wilkins, of the One Planet Worcester steering group, said: “If we went back 300 years, much of the food we ate would have been produced locally, within 20 or 30 miles. It would have been organic. It would have been seasonal.

“With cheap oil we’ve got used to having food from all over the world. The impact of such consumerism has been phenomenal and, for many people, is only just coming into focus.”

Airline jet fuel from oilseeds emits less greenhouse gas

BILLINGS, Mont. — A new study says jet fuel made with the oilseed crop camelina could cut greenhouse gas emissions by up to 84% compared with jet fuel from petroleum.

The finding is expected to be used by the aviation industry as it weighs a number of alternative fuels with the potential to reduce costs and curb emissions.

Call for tougher building codes to beat climate change

Björn Stigson, president of the WBCSD, said that without immediate action thousands of new buildings would be constructed without concern for energy efficiency, and millions of existing, inefficient buildings would still be standing in 2050.

“The market alone will not be able to make the necessary changes. Most building owners and occupants don't know enough and don't care enough about energy consumption, and inertia is reinforced by assumptions that costs are too high and savings too low. We are calling for a major, co-ordinated and global effort,” he said.

Oil Floods Rotterdam, Europe's Largest Port, as Demand Drops

(Bloomberg) -- Rotterdam, Europe’s largest port, may be running out of space to store crude as global oil demand posts its first back-to-back annual drop in a quarter-century.

The harbor is Europe’s largest refinery center and a trading hub for refined products such as gasoline and diesel. Some ships have been diverted or are waiting outside the port until space is available, said Jeroen Kortsmit, manager for commercial affairs at Royal Dirkzwager.

“A lot of tanks are fully loaded,” Kortsmit said by phone from Rotterdam April 27. He joined the company, which provides shipping information to terminal operators around the port, 24 years ago and said he has never seen storage this full before.

Deepwater Oil Production Growth May Stagnate on Low Prices

(Bloomberg) -- Crude oil output growth from deepwater areas may stagnate because current oil prices make it unprofitable to tap new deposits and large discoveries dwindle, a consultant said.

“The pace of growth will slow and then become flat for the next few years,” Michael Rodgers, a partner at PFC Energy, said in an interview at the Offshore Vessels conference in Singapore yesterday. “There were not a whole lot of large commercial discoveries in the last couple of years.”

Production from deepwater blocks grew 67 percent a year between 2005 and 2008 following discoveries off Angola and Nigeria. That beat a growth of 1.3 percent in total crude oil output during the same period.

Global deepwater oil production may peak at 7.5 million barrels a day in 2013, Rodgers said.

Shell profits plunge 62% with oil prices

LONDON (AFP) – British energy group Royal Dutch Shell said Wednesday that first-quarter net profit plunged 62 percent to 3.488 billion dollars (2.645 billion euros) as oil prices slumped in an economic downturn.

"First quarter 2009 performance was affected by the weaker global economy, with a challenging upstream and downstream business environment," Chief Executive Jeroen van der Veer said in a results statement.

Cnooc’s Revenue Falls on Lower Oil Prices, Demand

(Bloomberg) -- Cnooc Ltd., China’s biggest offshore oil explorer, said revenue dropped 42 percent in the first quarter because of lower oil prices and falling demand.

Sales declined to 13.95 billion yuan ($2.04 billion) from 24 billion yuan a year earlier, the company said in a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange today. The realized oil price slumped 53 percent to $42 a barrel during the period, according to the statement.

Crude-oil processing dropped 3.3 percent in the first quarter because of declining fuel consumption, China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., the nation’s biggest refiner also known as Sinopec, said yesterday. Cnooc gets about 93 percent of its revenue from sales in China, whose economy grew at the slowest pace in almost a decade in the first three months.

Storing up a supertanker problem

Oil industry participants and commentators of all creeds are forecasting prices will ultimately rise, perhaps even causing a supply squeeze, as lower prices stifle investment in future production.

Could we see a similar price spike in oil shipping prices as a result of cancelled and delayed orders? Bloomberg reports some shipowners and brokers are predicting prices could rise as soon as the second half of this year, and one of the key causes, they argue, would not be higher oil prices - which many do not expect until 2010 - but a decline in investment similar to what the oil market itself is expected to suffer.

Saudi king visits oil-producing area after unrest

RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah visited the oil-producing Eastern Province on Sunday to launch development projects, following sectarian tension there among the kingdom's restive Shi'ite Muslim minority.

The visit "reflected the king's desire to have a first-hand knowledge of citizens' requirements and follow up on the progress of development projects," newspapers quoted local governor Prince Mohammed bin Fahd as saying.

More Suburbanites, Hobbyists Raise Chickens

Backyard Chickens, a Web site that began to help city residents raise chickens, says its community of about 27,000 people is growing rapidly, with about 100 new members daily.

The Web site's owner, Rob Ludlow of Pleasant Hill, Calif., attributes the increased interest in raising suburban chickens to three factors: their relative ease of care as pets; increased interest in getting food from humane, local sources; and a desire by some to produce their own food in tough economic times.

Top lawmaker wants mileage-based tax on vehicles

WASHINGTON (AP) — A House committee chairman said Tuesday that he wants Congress to enact a mileage-based tax on cars and trucks to pay for highway programs now rather than wait years to test the idea.

Rep. James Oberstar, D-Minn., said he believes the technology exists to implement a mileage tax. He said he sees no point in waiting years for the results of pilot programs since such a tax system is inevitable as federal gasoline tax revenues decline.

Obama's First 100 Days of Coal: A Few Honest Words, Please

This much is clear: The Obama administration has ushered in a new era of democratic participation in the great energy debate, opening the door to discussions on coal and its dirty legacy for the first time in nearly a decade, and allowing the winds of change to air out Washington's coal dank corridors. No question about it: The Obama administration has clearly made great strides in the right direction to tackle the reality of climate destabilization and unchecked coal mining operations.

At the same time, it is also clear that the Obama administration does not have a road map for withdrawal from our disastrous dependence on coal, no grand plan for a regulated phase out of mountaintop removal or coal-fired plants. Instead, borrowing a page from the compromising policies of the Carter and Clinton wags, the Obama administration appears to be putting its faith in questionable regulations, albeit stricter, but still beholden to the coal industry and its inevitable crimes of extraction and indisputable impact on our children's future.

Clean coal infrastructure in U.S. estimated to cost 1 trillion:experts

The cost of carbon capture and sequestration infrastructure in the United States that would include each of the coal-fired electricity plants in the country could cost over a trillion of dollars, industry experts told CBS news program "60 Minutes" in a segment that aired on Sunday.

"So, we're talking about hundreds of billions, to a trillion dollars or so, and every power plant needs to capture its greenhouse gases," Dan Kammen, a Berkeley physicist and energy said in an interview at the Basin Electric Power Co-Operative, a coal plant in North Dakota known as the only in America to capture CO2.

Study: Kan. could be exporter of renewable energy

Kansas has the potential to become a major exporter of renewable energy, producing many new jobs and new tax revenue, a national study found.

Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson and members of the American Council on Renewable Energy presented the report on Monday during a webcast. The study was by the Joint Coordinated System, a group of regional transmission operators including the Southern Power Pool, which Kansas is a part of.

Siemens Profit Beats Estimates on Cost Cuts, Energy

(Bloomberg) -- Siemens AG, Europe’s largest engineering company, reported a bigger-than-expected jump in earnings after accelerating a cost-cutting program and tapping demand for transformers, turbines and medical scanners.

Economic woes may speed Asian deforestation

KUALA LUMPUR/JAKARTA (Reuters) -- Growing economic pain may increasingly force consumers to turn to palm oil, one of the cheapest cooking oils, a move that could scupper nascent plans to slow deforestation in Southeast Asia.

With rising output in Indonesia, the world's biggest palm oil producer and home to the eighth largest expanse of forests, and tight land supplies in Malaysia, the world's second largest supplier, conservation's economics look even less appealing.

Report: Most Americans in areas with unhealthy air

LOS ANGELES – Sixty percent of Americans live in areas with unhealthy air pollution levels, despite a growing green movement and more stringent laws aimed at improving air quality, the American Lung Association said in a report released Wednesday.

In Climate Change Debate, It's All About Jobs

As House leaders launched an aggressive push on global warming legislation last week with four days of intensive hearings, the focus was squarely on jobs and the economic impact of trying to limit greenhouse gas emissions. Indeed, the deepening recession has emerged as arguably the most formidable hurdle to congressional action.

China, India Seek $200 Billion in Climate-Change Aid

(Bloomberg) -- China, India and South Africa, three of the developing world’s biggest greenhouse-gas producers, said industrialized nations should contribute at least $200 billion a year to help them fight global warming.

The demand, equal to at least 0.5 percent of rich nations’ economic output, was proposed by the three countries to the United Nations, which is leading negotiations for a new climate- protection treaty. No U.S. proposal has been posted on the UN climate agency’s Web site. The deadline was April 24.

Germany Sees Hottest Weather Ever as ‘Climate Train’ Speeds Up

(Bloomberg) -- Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, is experiencing the warmest weather since record-keeping began in 1890, the country’s weather agency said.

Six of the 10 warmest years on record occurred during the past decade, said Wolfgang Kusch, president of the agency. April this year, with an average temperature of 11.5 degrees Celsius (52.7 Fahrenheit), has been the warmest ever, Bild newspaper reported today, citing the agency’s statistician, Reik Schaab.

“The climate train is not only rolling along, it’s going even faster,” Kusch told reporters in Berlin yesterday, blaming higher atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas produced by burning oil and coal. “It’s questionable whether we can limit the average global temperature increase to 2 degrees” Celsius, he said.

Some progress at U.S. climate talks

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S.-hosted climate talks with the world's biggest greenhouse gas polluters concluded on Tuesday with signs of progress but sizable differences as nations work toward a deal this year to fight global warming.

Al Gore calls for prompt action on melting ice

OSLO – Al Gore said Tuesday the world must act quickly to slow the melting of the world's polar ice packs and glaciers before it reaches a critical rate for global warming.

"We have to act and we have to act quickly because we don't want to cross this tipping point," the Nobel peace laureate and former U.S. vice president told a meeting of foreign ministers, experts and scientists from the most affected countries.

Huge ice sheets melting faster, expert warns

OSLO - The ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica have awakened and are melting faster than expected, a leading expert told peers ahead of a conference of ministers from nations with Arctic territory.

Dorthe Dahl-Jensen, an expert with the Center for Ice and Climate at the University of Copenhagen, told the conference in the Arctic town of Tromsoe that the need for a wake-up call was genuine for the polar and glacial regions.

"Antarctica and Greenland have been sleeping until now," she said. "Now they are awakening giants."

The flow of melting ice into the oceans has picked up, and at the current pace sea levels will have risen by three feet by the end of the century, she added. The U.N. backed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had earlier estimated sea levels would rise by a foot over the century.

Anyone else noticed, a complete lack of reporting on the number now infected with the flu? I don't think it just stopped overnight. But I know I'm paranoid, it can be healthy.

Don in Maine

Naw, it has been all over the news this morning. Less than one hundred infected in the US with one death.

I did notice the little massaging of the figures they did. Saying 200 deaths on the same basis as before would probably lead to even more worry. Whatever the true number, we can bet its going to continue to rise significantly over the coming days.

So many can't get their heads around the idea of exponential rise, like they can't accept that oil might be finite. They are going to be shocked at just what it entails.

On the bright side, it does look like the lethality may turn out to be low (<1%); on the negative, it also looks like a pandemic is more likely than not now. That could mean up to 1m deaths in the US alone.

And oil prices are going up? I never will understand the marketeers.

The officials expect it to rise and said so in many interviews. I don't think they are that naive to think this will blow over in 1-2 days. In one of the interview, someone from CDC expected this will drag out for at least 4-6 more weeks before we will know the extend of the effect. Obama had asked for 1.5 billions for this. Now, everything our government does is billion and billion -- no more that million talk.

In Mexico, they have about 2000 hospitalized, with 200 death... Of course, a lot more were infected and okie. The town where the virus first struck, everyone survived (800 out of 1600 was sick!!!). It probably mutated since. Overall, with the level of infections in Mexico, it will hard to contain that why WHO is on a level 5 alert and said the virus is now "global". Not too many is taking this lightly -- but that doesn't mean we all should run for cover.

*sigh* And thus the media grossly exaggerates the threat once again! In third would countries the death rate is approximately %1. In developed countries, it will most likely be much closer to the average .01%, or so I hope and pray *knock on wood*, This event is only 'fascinating' because its a new strand and there are no tea parties to talk about anymore...


Influenza - Wikipedia

As influenza is caused by a variety of species and strains of viruses, in any given year some strains can die out while others create epidemics, while yet another strain can cause a pandemic. Typically, in a year's normal two flu seasons (one per hemisphere), there are between three and five million cases of severe illness and up to 500,000 deaths worldwide, which by some definitions is a yearly influenza epidemic.

~200 deaths so far...why isn't there this kind of media attention for the 500,000 a year for the 'normal' flu virus?

... or for the million-a-year road deaths?

Ampersand ...

~200 deaths so far...why isn't there this kind of media attention for the 500,000 a year for the 'normal' flu virus?

I have been thinking about this myself over the last few days ...,
This flu is "nothing" as far as I can understand , it seems to me to constitute the biggest hype so far this year. Strange that the media/WHO/doc's don't seem to be able to grasp this.
Imagine if there was no screening combo new definition of that "new" strain .... what would there then be left to report about ?

- probably there are houndreds of unknown viral strains not yet isolated (named), doing no harm ... ?!?!?

Naah, this will blow over IMHO, but still very layman opinion
( Can we develope a conspiracy from all this commotion ? ::__)))

EDIT : This fuss will kill all pigs in Egypt, just for starters. And Russia / China are going into frightend mode. Beware of the pigs

It's the eternal question, isn't it? If there's a pandemic coming in which 1 - 2% of the world population may die, but you stop it at the epidemic level, isn't that good?

On the other hand, if there's a tough flu coming around, but you treat it like a pandemic, there's an economic hit, a lot of fear and inconvenience for no real reason.

Better safe than sorry or not? Darwinism or humanism?


What are the symptoms of swine flu in humans?

The symptoms of swine flu in people are expected to be similar to the symptoms of regular human seasonal influenza and include fever, lethargy, lack of appetite and coughing. Some people with swine flu also have reported runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

I wonder how many undiagnosed cases there are. The husband of one of my daughter's friends has most of the above symptoms, and he has not been to the doctor yet. The kicker is that he was out and about yesterday, at work, at a restaurant and running errands. He came home early, complaining of fatigue. My daughter urged her friend to get said husband to a doctor's office ASAP to get tested.

On the other hand, some good news from WHO, linked on Drudge. They put the total number of confirmed worldwide swine flu deaths at seven:


"out running around".

Thats good. Might as well give it to others.

We are so screwed up.


Thanks WT.
Now : everybody look hard at this headline coming from WHO :

Only 7 swine flu deaths, not 152, says WHO

Now, how many died from the "regular flue" last week world wide ?

*** end of story ***

( Personally I think this socalled swine flu has had it's 5 minutes in the limelight)

Ryanair boss says swine flu only a risk for 'slumdwellers'

The outspoken head of the Irish budget airline Ryanair has dismissed apocalyptic warnings of a global swine flu pandemic, saying that the virus was only a risk to Asians and Mexicans “living in slums”.

O’Leary doesn't get any Brownie Points for subtlety or tact, but he is largely right.

About a billion people live in slums world wide. This is a scout for one of the four horsemen.

No, I don't think he is right at all. The guy that WT mentioned, if he has the flu, just spread it to a lot of people who do not live in slums. The Catholic high school kids who brought it to New York were not slum dwellers. And it was just announced that a US Marine has the disease. The Marine living quarters are not slums.

No doubt those who live in slums will be at a much higher risk of getting the disease because of the unsanitary and very crowded conditions they live in. However as the Catholic high school kids proved, anyone can catch the disease by simple human contact.

And don't forget, millions of slum dwellers have jobs that put them in contact with many more millions of middle class people, jobs like waiting on tables, busboys and dishwashers. Everyone needs to worry about this disease, not just slum dwellers.

Ron P.

It's not a question of who will catch this flu. Most of us will. But the death rate will be higher in slums because of poorer nutrition, less access to medicine, generally weaker immune systems and more cross-infection with opportunistic diseases in the unsanitary and crowded conditions.

This will be a pandemic, but a mild one. Only the old, sick or very young need fear it, like normal flu. (My mum is 83, sick and nearly died of flu two years ago). When a more deadly pandemic starts, we may see major economic dislocation in the first world, but we will see mass death (if the media bother to mention it) in the third world slums.

"Only the old, sick or very young need fear it, like normal flu."


Haven't you read the news? The fatalities are mostly in the 25-to-45 year old range.

Leanan wrote up something in (?) yesterdays(?) post that went into detail on the immune system response.

Yes I have read the news. Only seven deaths in Mexico (and a Mexican toddler in Texas) have been confirmed as having this flu strain at time of death. Down from 20. It is perfectly possible that these people died of a secondary infection not yet identified, or even that the flu was the secondary infection. We do not know yet. No adult deaths identified yet outside of Mexico. Yet the flu has been confirmed in a dozen countries already and appears to be highly infectious. The longer it takes before we see adult deaths outside of Mexico, the less likely that this strain will have a high death rate.

The longer it takes before we see adult deaths outside of Mexico, the less likely that this strain will have a high death rate.

This is a dangerous assumption. These virii are highly adaptive and their lethality derives in part from the fact that they morph into a form that is more detrimental to the host.

It may the case that this is a weak strain and the current alarm is for nought. The history of the 1918 pandemic suggests otherwise. The 1918 pandemic came in three waves: the first wave caused illness but was not highly lethal; the second wave came 4 to 6 months later and was much more lethal. Those infected in the first wave built an immunity and were not touched by the second wave. In the interval between the waves the virii morphed into a more dangerous form. See the graph that WT posted yesterday which shows the 3 waves and the timeline.

In that case, maybe you should invite your neighbours around to show you their holiday snaps of Popocatepetl...


Have been looking for the non sequitur flag but I cannot find it.

You say that the flue may not be that serious.

I challenge that assumption as it may be incorrect and there may be regrettable loss of life were that assumption to be followed.

You respond by suggesting I visit with recent visitors to Mexico.

Is this a fair representation of our communication?

I was following the logic of your comment. The death rate of from recent visitors to mexico is currently very low. (I Mexican toddler). If you are worried that this virus might mutate into a second, more deadly strain in the coming months, but people who are infected in the first wave have natural immunity, then the logical method of self preservation is to catch the flu as soon as possible.

I think it very likely you will catch it very soon anyway - and live.

My understanding is that a virus or whatever that attacks hosts will be short lived if it kills the host in a short period of time. Being self-limiting therefore.

Don't know where I read it. Maybe about the Hanta and others at some time in the past.

The vector has to be allowed to do its job.Slow strains that slowly destroy the host appear to survive better.

No sources,,,just opinion.

Airdale-I am sure there is a rebuttal for this,seems to be a rebuttal for everything under the sun in one form or another BUT rebuttals are meaningless once your sick and don't G.A.S.

My understanding is that a virus or whatever that attacks hosts will be short lived if it kills the host in a short period of time. Being self-limiting therefore.

That really depends upon when in the patient history the transmissibility occurs. If most of the infectiousness happens before the patient even knows he is sick, his fate may have little effect on how many new cases he can sow. And
we are talking about changes in fatality rates of .1% for normal flu, to maybe 1% for something really nasty. That isn't much difference from the standpoint of the virus trying to find new hosts.

At this point what we know is:
It is a new strain, for which little to no resistance is expected in the current population, that means a lot of people will get it.
We don't have decent statistics of how many got this strain, versus how many got seriously ill or died from it. I think there are huge problems with the Mexican data, we don't know how many got mild cases, how many purpurted cases are actually this strain, versus just a doctors guess, etc., etc. I think we need to wait until we have enough data from well covered (medically) parts of the world, say we only consider data from OECD countries to have reasonable controls on sampling bias. That will take a while, as we have to accumulate enough cases for the stats t mean anything. Best guess at this time is this thing is about as deadly as a typical seasonal flu (.1%), but that more people will get it because essentially noone has immunity.

A couple of people have thrown out suggestions about having flu parties, i.e. spread it rapidly in the hopes that lots of people will get immunity from the early (supposedly more mild) strains. This is considered to be irresponsible by the epidemiologists -and they've had a lot more time to think about the public health implications, so don't go around trying to catch/spread this thing thinking the acquired immunity will be worth it. For all we know later strains won't get more severe, but the rate of spread will depend greatly upon how careful or not people are with precautions. Whereas in ordinary times I wouldn't skip work if I had coldlike symptoms (unless it was pretty severe), the new strain means we should stay home if we think we may have the flu, and don't go back until a couple of days after you feel better.

Interesting line of thought. Another potential advantage of very early infection would be to get good hospital service: if you were early enough you would be "first in line" for lavish medical care, whereas if you arrived at the peak of the local infection you would have to compete with hordes of fellow sufferers for the available resources. On the other hand, there would seemingly be some personal advantage to riding it out as long as possible, with the expectation that a vaccine would become available several months later.

From a public health standpoint, it seems pretty clear that deliberate self-infection is indeed irresponsible, as it accelerates the spread of the disease and increases the loading rate on medical facilities. The more that the burden can be distributed over time, the better.

I think you missed my point.

Let me phrase it this way.

You get sick. Not sure what it is. If you continue to run around because its not gotten too bad yet or your not sure if it is the FLU.

So if at this point its transmittable and I assume it is you are a dangerous vector. Your spreading it.

But if it takes you down really fast then your in bed and out of circulation. Hence your not spreading it and its by that factor somewhat self-limiting as I stated.

So the more virulent and fast acting it is the less number of people to catch it.But if you can still transmit it and you then feel better and once more go out in public..then just as bad as case 1 above.

So it seems to me this is not so virulent as to keep people at home.
The stats we are told are low. They say 'Oh many recover.'

I think they are bullshiting and trying to gain camera photo ops or get quoted.

Until we know everyone who gets sick needs to stay the hell away from everyone else. But you know they won't.

Airdale-I might have said the same thing you did but did not couch it in medical terminology,I try to speak plain if possible

Well, I think I the jist of your post and offer Syphilis as a case in point. If you had it 1495 there was a good chance of flesh falling off you as you painfully died. By 1546 it was much like the Syphilis we know today (see Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel). Several prominent anthropologists have commented that pathogens can be at their most destructive when they first find their way into our species. Agressive replication works out for the destructive variants in the short term (pathogens that kill quickly), but in the long term the pathogen is more successful (from the viewpoint of the pathogen) if it doesn't kill its hosts and can go unnoticed for a while. I think thats that same as what you say maybe worded differently.

Count me as in agreement with your point, but concerned about swine flu. If its a killer new to our species, the best course of action is to deny it access to new hosts.

I hope you all realize that in the case of many viruses, and specifically influenza, one is MOST contagious in the 24 hours before the symptoms appear. Clever, huh? The virus can go on to kill the host in the following 24 hours, but the spreading around is satisfactorily accomplished by then.

Do you have a reference for that 24 hour thing?

Wicki says:


"The swine flu in humans is most contagious during the first five days of the illness although some people, most commonly children, can remain contagious for up to ten days."

Yes, i was reading the so-called "Red Book", or 2003 Report of the Committee on Infectious Diseases, put out by the American Academy of Pediatrics. They are talking about Influenza A in general, of course not about this particular H1N1 strain. It is echoed by some, though not all websites in reference to our particular situation. Here is an example http://www.wmich.edu/shc/news/news.htm

The 24 hour before symptoms thing is generally the case for many viruses, though not always MOST infectious in that period. It is true of several viruses that cause the common cold, and that is the reason why kids with mild symptoms should not be excluded from school or daycare (because chances are they were spreading viruses the day before their symptoms started and research shows excluding kids with mild symptoms makes no difference at all in illness rates).

It also came up in a statement yesterday about why the US is not supporting the use of heat sensing cameras in airports (because they would not catch those who are in the 24 hour window before symptoms begin). The Red Book also says people with influenza are contagious for 7 days after the onset of symptoms, longer for kids and immunosuppressed folks.

I could not find the sentence above on the wiki page, and I note that they are in the process of updating the human-human transmission section.

That is also why washing hands frequently is the best recommendation. They should also say something about having spent time yesterday with people who are sick today, but I guess the mortality rate does not warrant panicking people at this time.

I would think that sitting in a closed capsule breathing air that has been circulated through other peoples microbes, bacteria, and virii would present a risk equal to, or greater than, life in a slum.

This is a perspective that O'Leary may have difficulty in accomodating. Slum dwellers do not spend hours inhaling other folks precious bodily fluids.

IMO Ryanair departure lounges (and aircraft) are some of the most densly populated places on Earth!

He's only so glib because of the natural immunity pr0ovided by Guiness Stout.

Sorry to answer a good joke with a serious response, but as to immunity:

Certain pickled foods, such as kimchi (kimchee, gimchee,gimchi) and saurkraut really do have antibacterial properties. (Sharon Astyk has even written about it.)

This is no joke. Scientifically verified home remedy reality. Get thee to your nearest Korea Town.




Anecdotally, four poultry farmers in Korea had SARS and never even knew it.


Any recipes for Stout & Sauerkraut?

I'm planning to live forever :-)

Sorry, no. I've never been interested in living forever. I was surprised to make it to my mid-40's. I'd always had a sense of foreboding about turning 40 - and it wasn't the age.

Little did I know it was going to be The End Of The World As We Know It via economically scandalous, environmentally degenerate, virally infectious Black Swan Pig People!!


"According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics, in 2007, an estimated 12,998 people died in alcohol-impaired traffic crashes involving a driver with an illegal BAC (.08 or greater). These deaths constitute 31.7% of the 41,059 total traffic fatalities in 2007."

Not to worry your little head, but you have a much greater chance of being killed by an idiot drunk driver, than the Swine thingy....

Not the end of the world quite yet... www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bmxyj6iInMc

Not the end of the world quite yet

12,998 people per year sounds a lot, but it's actually just 35 per day ... so if 1% of this new flu strain's victims die, just 3,500 Americans have to get it each day ... that's just ~0.001% of the US population ... judging by the recent Mexico experience that doesn't sound an outlandish number! ... especially as the number of flu victims is very likely to increase exponentially!

Put down the glass of Iamoverlyserious and step away from the bottle... nice and slow like.


Kraut. I make my own with a 5 gallon glass jug, and a water trap. Sea salt and homegrown cabbages.

Its best to drink the raw kraut juice for the benefits to your intestinal microbes. Really good for you.

Then I cook the kraut after gettting all the good stuff raw.

Not much benefit then for the cooked cabbage yet they are very tasty.
Pork ribs cooked with them or polish sausage.

Airdale-got some from last year out in the icebox right now

I agree that certain foods have antibacterial properties. Influenza, however, is a virus.

Aaaand... the secondary infections of which most seem to die are ... bacterial. (At least some - I'm not a doctor.)


Raw garlic has both antiviral and antibacterial activity. You should buy fresh organic garlic crush it wait 15 minutes and then eat it raw. Do not heat the garlic as this will destroy the antibiotic properties. This actually seems to work for my sore throats. I've heard this may also help with any vampires issues.

The first modern proof that chicken soup, often called Jewish penicillin, relieves cold symptoms came from a study published in the medical journal Chest in 1978.

Dr. Ziment's Garlic Chicken Soup

2 cans low-sodium chicken broth (or 3 1/2 cups homemade broth)

1 head garlic (about 15 cloves), peeled

1 medium onion, quartered

11/2 T each, minced parsley and cilantro

1 tsp each, minced mint and basil leaves

1 tsp curry powder

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

Salt to taste

1 T fresh lemon juice

Put all ingredients except the lemon juice in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered or uncovered*, for 30 minutes. In a blender or food processor, pure the cooked garlic, onions and herbs with a little liquid and stir back into the soup. Add lemon juice. If you want a clear broth, filter out the solid constituents. Makes about 3 1/2 cups.

*Omit the cover if you wish to inhale therapeutic cooking fumes.

An effective dose: as little as 1/2 cup, but for a better response, take 1-2 cups, Ziment says. He advises sipping slowly to get the most benefits.

Nutrition per cup: 72 calories, 3.7g protein, 10g carbohydrates, 1g fiber, 1.7g fat (0.4g saturated), 58mg sodium, 11mg vitamin C.

I would not worry too much. This doesn't seem to be the "Big one" that the CDC has talked about over the last several years.

One of my wife's co-workers got it two days ago. He was put in quarantine at the hospital immediately. Not sure what his situation is now. Most of the women office workers are scared and worried because he was talking to them face to face just hours before his trip to the hospital. We'll see what happens.

I think one of the things we often disregard is the effect of numbers on the health care system's ability to respond.

Some off the cuff numbers:

I would suggest that most of the hospitals in our city have fewer than 10% of their beds in designed respiratory isolation mode.(much fewer) So how many folks presenting with severe symptoms can be accommodated? Well 10% of our city's hospital bed space. We have fewer than 4k beds considering all community and teaching hospitals. 10% is maybe 400. This type of isolation can be cobbled together with declining efficiency so perhaps a further percentage can be cared for. However, understand that other health care issues will not go away. Our occupancy is 95%+ So we might have 200 beds free at any one time and not all of them will be able to accommodate respiratory isolation.

In our city of 740,000 population, if 1% were to become ill enough to require hospitalization, we would need, over the course of the outbreak, 7400 beds - EEK. (And we are a provincial centre with responsibility for rural and isolated community support so our population is larger than our metropolitan numbers.)

That of course is unlikely - not everyone in the city would become infected. If, however, 5% of the population became ill (37,000) the projections are that 1% might become ill enough for the hospital - 370 - and we do not have those beds available. And when our staff become infected and ill - we won't be able to look after our usual caseload, never mind the flu additions.

Also, folks who are very sick with it but who might not require hospitalization will show up in doctor's offices and emergency rooms and clog up the system horribly just when it most needs to be efficient. Not a good thought.

In my city alone then, we could not physically manage a 5% infection rate with 1% of those being hospitalized. Please consider also that we are told not to worry because the MORTALITY rate might ONLY be 1% - so likely more than 1% of those infected will require hospitalization. For good sleeps I have to hope that if/when the infection hits my city we have a much smaller than 5% infection rate.


I am trying to get a handle on this using the medical knowledge and understanding, and my ability to sort through internet sources as reliable or not, based on medical experience. A few things strike me about this swine flu:

- What Alakazaam said above; no doubt anything affecting even 1 or 2% of the population is a medical disaster if it strikes them in the same month or two. This is especially true if people want prescriptions, such as Tamiflu and whatever antibacterial turns out to work against whatever pneumonias people catch on top of the virus. If a sizeable proportion need oxygen and IV hydration, the hospitals become overwhelmed very quickly.

- The hallmark of influenza virus, and especially some sort of swine-bird-human strain is that it readily mutates, and so no one will know until it's all over what the case-fatality rate will be, or even the infection rate, and certainly the severity of symptoms. Somehow it turns out that micro-organisms that are very dangerous (MRSA, pseudomonas, for example, and HIV too) tend to have difficulty infecting normal hosts in a casual way. On the other hand, many organisms that cause mild symptoms (think common cold, chicken pox) are extremely easily transmitted. The concern is that a virus that tends to mutate a lot may chance upon a way to combine virulence and easy transmissibility.

- I am not convinced that closing borders is useless. I can't seem to shake the thought that we are prioritizing "the economy". As long as the virus seems to cause mostly mild disease, it makes sense; however, if millions die as a result of some mutation of the virus, then the economy will crash (further) regardless. That must be a hard call to make.

- Nitpicking here just so that all of you intelligent folks discussing this don't make so many mistakes: it's viruses, not virii; antibiotics include antivirals, antifungals and antibacterials. So when the doctor won't give you an antibiotic for your cold, they mean there isn't an effective antiviral worth the side effect potential in your case. Obviously, Tamiflu is an antibiotic effective against some viruses, including this one so far.

Infection rate for a pandemic flu is generally assumed at 30%, 20-40% type range.

That's why most people won't be in hospital, they will be at home. That's what the plans call for. Medicines will probably come by post.

There is just no way any western medical system can cope with a compressed hit of pandemic flu infection - don't expect it to. You might get a bed and oxygen if you're luck, but don't bet on it.

That's why I laugh when people look down their noses at Mexico and suggest the reason they have been dying is because of the health care system. A wry, dark laugh.

NY Mayor Bloomberg said two days ago that for people with "mild" cases they were not even bothering to test for the strain. If that pattern is widespread, then there is no hard data on numbers of infections.


I notice a whole lot of nonsense being nosed about.

One MSM newsie posted a Doc saying that Tamiflu would work.
And downplaying the whole incident.

On TOD a Dr from Mexico said quite clearly that the MSM are out and out lying about it. He had stated that two other Drs with him had died of it. And the numbers were way way higher of deaths in Mexico.

I despise the MSM and all that they spew as newsworthy is mostly utter trash. We only find out when its too late.

I missed the Asian in 1950 but caught the Hong Kong in 68-69 and it was extremely bad. Very bad. My wife and two children. We were too sick to care for each other. We just stayed in bed and ate what we could keep down and sweating and vomited for days. Two week run.

Now some asshate on MSM says only 2 to 4 days of illness.

I have told everyone. "You will not see me for some time and cellular will be the only way to talk to me." I am seriously hunkering down big time.

I have good lungs but they are very sensitive. When I cough I almost go to my knees. A flu right now might do me in.

Keep safe,

There was an outbreak of swine flu in the United States in 1976. President Ford had the government go into emergency mode and 40 million Americans were vacinated. He was accused of exagerating the swine flu risks in order to get re-elected. When it was over, the carnage was limited to one death, the first recognized case - a soldier who got sick at Ft. Dix, NJ. On the other hand, thousands were injured by the vacine, which gave some Guion-Barre Syndrome (or however you spell it).

Probably many Americans were exposed in 1976 and may now have some immunity.

This appears to be a brand new strain. If so, no one will have immunity based on previous exposure.

I'm not sure where the idea came from that only one person died from the 1976 influenza. The flu kills a couple hundred thousand people in a normal year. From Wikipedia:

Typically, in a year's normal two flu seasons (one per hemisphere), there are between three and five million cases of severe illness and up to 500,000 deaths worldwide.

One big question for me with the current strain is whether it triggers a Cytokine storm, as is suspected of the 1918 pandemic. If it does, it isn't just going to pick off people from vulnerable groups (elderly, children, people with compromised immune systems). The healthy are paradoxically at greater risk, because a stronger immune system produces a worse Cytokine storm. I have seen reports from Mexico that it might.

Am I the only one paranoid enough to notice that the swine flu publicity blitz has erased the torture debate right off the media?

As I understand it, thousands of Americans have died since January first of plain old vanilla flu and nobody mentions it.

This hysterical coverage is way premature, but I'll bet the administration is glad for the distraction and happy to promote it.

I'm not sure that "paranoid" is the word you're looking for. I can't think of it right now, but isn't there a word for someone who finds conspiracy behind everything?

Note to worry, this is just the ordinary functioning of our media. It is not meant to be news, it is meant to sell advertising. Fear sells far better than self-loathing.

Next week will be something new.

As Leanan noted (Level 5 out of 6), the WHO seems to think that there is something to worry about.

WHO has Sars and the avian-flu too fresh in mind, so this "swein" flu had nowhere else to go than UP. Give it the week and it will be blowing in the wind....
I hear they even have coughed up new names for this phenomenom. Swein is out. In US it's now called «2009 H1N1 flu» and in EU it's «novel flu» . I wonder what the next flu will be called in EU ... «novel flu 2» ??
Long live the pigs.

On TOD a Dr from Mexico said quite clearly that the MSM are out and out lying about it.

This is the vast systemic disease of our time - the destruction of trust and credibility. The only thing we can believe - from learned experience over and over and over and over - is that there is simply no way to believe anything the "authorities" put out. Those in "authority" systematically lie and mislead.

I have no idea what to think about this particular flu. I cannot parse the genetic code. I can't understand a patient chart let alone a series of them. What I do know is that whatever the "authorities" are putting out is a lie tailored to their advantage.

A pandemic is a real and likely event. The problem is the messengers are too corrupted to believe.

cfm in Gray, ME

This is not the 'Andromeda Strain' or the virus that escaped from the secret government lab in 'The Stand.' Some 36,000 people a year die from the garden=-variety seasonal flues in the U.S. each year.

There doesn't seem to be much of a happy medium in the news and in the political blogosphere...in situations such as these 'the man' is chastened for 'hiding the truth' and equally chastened for 'inventing an imaginary crisis for his own facist ends'. Many times by the same people at different times.

This round of this strain doesn't seem that deadly...but recall that the first round of the 'Spanish Flu' was mild, and then the second round ~9-12 months later had mutated and was deadly, so continual public health vigilance is warranted...vigilance, not hysteria and/or baseless government-bashing.

I happen to recall many politicians (and their blogosphere supporters) crying and nashing their teeth about the 'egregious pork' in the budget for flu research h and preparedness...and for volcano monitoring....and for honeybee research...and for NASA programs to detect and catalog near-earth-crossing asteroids...all these government programs were rather inexpensive, and great targets for non-scientifically-minded grenade-throwers.

A local radio station in Dallas is reporting that all high school athletic events in Texas have been postponed, until May 11th.


World swine flu cases jump

"It's a virus that we've never seen before," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

"There's no background immunity in the population, and it is spreading from human to human, all of which has the potential for a pandemic."

The World Health Organization will convene an emergency session Thursday in which it will consider raising its threat level from 4 to 5, which would indicate widespread human infection.

I don't think it's ever been higher than 3 before.

They've raised it to 5.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The World Health Organization raised the influenza epidemic level from 4 to 5 on Wednesday, signalling that a pandemic is imminent, and urged countries to implement their pandemic plans.

So much for waiting until tomorrow to decide.

I do not understand the tools that are used by biologist, but this is an interesting blog post by someone who presumably does. The post discusses the similarity of this swine flu to that of an outbreak in 2007 at an Ohio fair.


I'm trying to have a TOD break. Apparently not entirely successfully :-) Reuters (via newswire flash update) reported that WHO would go to 5 at 4pm EDT (coincidentally just after US stock markets closed) several hours in advance.

Btw, did you know the state of Texas has been declared a disaster area?


AUSTIN – Gov. Rick Perry today bolstered the state’s precautionary measures to address the swine flu threat as a result of confirmed cases in certain parts of the state by issuing a disaster declaration for the entire state of Texas. The disaster declaration allows the state to implement emergency protective measures and seek reimbursement under the federal Stafford Act for protective measures associated with the state’s response to this public health threat.

A report of the above also went out as a Reuters Flash: "FLASH: Texas governor issues disaster proclamation for state in wake of swine flu", but the media has chosen not to report it any further as of now.

Comal County looks worth a watch
SWINE FLU: All schools closed until May 11

All public and private schools are closed, residents are being asked to avoid public gatherings and local officials are urging caution after three highly probable cases of swine flu have been reported in Comal County.

Although confirmation is pending from the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, three students at area schools have likely caught the potentially fatal virus, Comal County Health Authority Dr. Dorothy Overman said Tuesday. In addition, more than 30 other influenza samples collected locally are currently undergoing testing to determine if they, too, are evidence of the virus’ spread into the county.

And Public has right to be informed

However, these same officials need to understand the importance of keeping the community consistently informed of this constantly changing situation.

On Monday, Judge Scheel told Comal County health officials to refer citizen calls and concerns to a regional health office and to avoid comment. As a politician and leader who had always emphasized local control, Scheel’s decision to silence local officials was unnecessary and counterproductive to keeping the community informed.

And that gag order Monday is probably why many in our community felt that Tuesday’s decision to close both school districts and curtail public gatherings seemed abrupt and over-reaching.

Judge Scheel and the others empowered by the citizens or by position to set and/or conduct public policy during health emergencies must understand that they have not only an obligation to lead, but they also have an equally important obligation to inform.

Information and facts explained in the proper context are the best antidotes in avoiding an epidemic of rumor, fear and panic.

People have a right and a need to know, especially as this crisis unfolds.

Reuters flashes can be followed on their official twitter feed http://twitter.com/Reuters_FluNews

For info, I live approximately 50 miles from the nearest OFFICIALLY CONFIRMED case (in the UK) so am following this closely but don't see any reason to panic - yet anyway ;)

The number of officially confirmed cases is way lower than the actual cases.
This flu has the potential to infect millions of people across the globe.
Because of no immunity and no vaccine, it will continue to spread over several months.
The economy will be effected, oil demand down, and travel industry too.
Mexico has shut down all non-essential business.
Time will tell.....

The disaster declaration allows the state to implement emergency protective measures and seek reimbursement under the federal Stafford Act for protective measures associated with the state’s response to this public health threat.

Oh, this is rich, coming from someone who demagogued about seceding just recently.


The WHO 1-5 system communicates the communicability of the disease, not the mortality. The WHO and the media have not done a good job so far of clarifying this point.

Hi gang, been out of pocket for about ten days, helping deliver a sailboat up the Tenn-Tom from Pensacola to Huntsville Al.

Just heard on MSNBC that the economy declined at a 6.1% rate during the first quarter. That is quite dramatic. Looks like the economy is really going down the toilet a lot faster than many had anticipated.

Also on the same show, Senator Evan Bayh was commenting on the Chinese threatening to stop buying US Bonds. If that happens all hell could break loose. If the Chinese stops buying that will be very bad but if it triggers others to stop buying also that could be quite disastrous.

It is my feeling that things are a lot worse and going downhill a lot faster than most people realize. Having said that, I don't believe the price of oil will go very much higher. Even if we are on the downhill side of peak oil, demand will likely fall a lot faster than production

Ron P.

While we moan, the Chinese get on with it

This is the moment that China has been waiting for - global financial mayhem, commodity price weakness, governments in disarray and a war chest of $2trillion in foreign currency reserves. Recession has not distracted the officials who manage China's sovereign wealth funds. Half of China's oil is imported and the need will rise to two thirds by 2020. This is the time to buy cheap reserves of oil, gas, copper and iron ore and they are busy scooping up every spare tonne, ounce, barrel within reach.

a war chest of $2trillion in foreign currency reserves

Let me guess - mostly US Dollars.


It would seem to fall in to the "No brainer" category. Looking at US spending and borrowing plans, would you rather hold $2 trillion in US dollars or convert said $2 trillion to BTU's? If I've got the math right, oil is trading for about $8 per MMBTU (million BTU's). I'm guessing proven reserves would sell for $2 to $4 per MMBTU, especially for less developed fields. For the sake of argument, let's assume $2 per MMBTU, since the math is easier. So, at $2 per MMBTU, they could trade $2 trillion of dollars for one trillion MMBTU's of energy. I think that this would be 1,000 quadrillion BTU's (someone might want to check my math). It looks like China's total primary energy consumption is on the order of 70 quads per year:

Of course, the other problem is that the value of the dollar would not remain stable as the Chinese moved out of dollars.

this site states that an MBTU is a million BTUs, and is occasionally expressed as MMBTU, i.e. they are the same thing:


and Wikipedia says a quadrillion is a thousand trillion, or ten to the fifteenth. Your trillion MBTU is a trillion million BTU, or ten to the 18th BTU. So its a thousand quadrillion.

Assuming a $2 per million BTU exchange rate, $2 Trillion buys one trillion million BTU's, or 10 to the 18th power BTU's. A quad is 10 to the 15th. So, $2 trillion would be 1,000 quads of BTU's, again assuming $2 per million BTU's. US consumption is about 100 quads per year, so 1,000 quads would be about 10 years of current US total primary energy consumption. (posted after your edit)

In February China propped up the finances of Russia's debt-burdened oil exporters with $25billion in loans secured against 20 years of oil exports. China is promised 300,000 barrels per day and included in the deal is a new pipeline that will deliver crude to China's northern refineries.

China is paying about $11/bbl of oil reserve. So if they just buy oil -- it would be about 200 billion barrels --- WOW, that will last them a long long time - 50 years at least.

$11 per barrel is slightly less than $2 per MMBTU.

So how would China go about actually converting the dollar reserves to BTU reserves?

The only way I can see is going out and buying oil and gas fields around the world. It is not like the US has 10 years of US energy consumption that we would be willing to exchange for that $2 trillion.

...they may already have the manufacturing capacity but if not they could invest in this and enough raw materials (steel, cadmium, neodynium, whatever) to make a "shed load" of solar and wind power...

Has anyone considered what might happen if the US/China Goods-for-debt tango slowed or stopped? Does the US have the manufacturing capacity, raw materials, mines, etc. etc. to get itself back on its feet? I think not. One report I read says that China controls almost all the Rare-Earth metal output and will "need it all for its own growth requirements post 2014"...


Somebody had to buy all those toaster ovens.

pt -- Not completely sure but I believe I read that 50% is in US $'s.

In one sense, good for them. It certainly looks like they were more prudent with their spending and financial planning than we have been.

Economy falls more than expected
The nation's gross domestic product fell 6.1% in the first quarter -- nearly the same pace as the end of 2008, and a much sharper drop than expected.

The U.S. economy shrank at a pace of 6.1% in the first quarter -- almost as much as it did in the fourth quarter of 2008, according to a government report Wednesday.

The drop was much worse than expected. According to economists surveyed by Briefing.com, expectations were for a drop of 4.7% in gross domestic product, the broadest measure of the nation's economic activity, from a year ago.

The first quarter decline was the second biggest drop recorded in 26 years, behind only the fourth quarter reading. GDP fell 6.3% in the last three months of last year.

Still, investors didn't appear to be too upset by the news. Major U.S. stock indexes were all up more than 1% in the first half hour of trading Wednesday.

Anyone get the idea that investors are totally oblivious to reality? I guess the bigger they rise, the faster they fall...

Stock Market? Most think they are at the dog track.

Denninger thinks something is fishy with those numbers. Either the numbers have been massaged, or people are blowing off their mortgage payments en masse.

From Leanan's toplink "POLL - World oil demand to fall far more than thought":

"I think demand is bottoming out at the moment," said Blanch at BoA Securities-Merrill Lynch.

Amazing how demand has been bottoming out every month since at least November, isn't it? ;-)

OTOH, I don't understand how storage and transport facilities can be full to overflowing, and the price can be rising at the same time. This is not the free market we know and love.

To join together two threads, has anyone yet seen estimates of how much the "swine flu" will affect gross world product ("the economy") this year? No doubt the flu's going to cop a lot of blame when it turns out that demand has NOT bottomed out.

From the story above More Suburbanites, Hobbyists Raise Chickens.

I thought I would follow westexas's ELP suggestions and keep chickens. Backyardchickens.com was a valuable source of information and helped me build this.

Dang. You were not messing around. Looks really good; I suspect that will help ward off some of the neighborly complaints- have any such complaints arisen? Also, estimates on material costs and time? Thanks!

Actually instead of the neighbors complaining it encouraged another neighbor to build his own coop.

From ELP I really only followed produce, economize was not in there as it cost about 1000 euros to build. But maybe, those fresh eggs and the occaisional chicken soup will be worth a lot more than €1000 on the downslope after peak oil.

Time to build is difficult to judge, as it was built in spare evening time and some weekends.

Beautiful ...

Planning on a Organic Free Range Egg Business

got roof sheathing finished yesterday ....


Very nice!


Very nice, but your EROEI (Eggs Returned on Energy Invested) will be abysmal.

Think of it as a transitional capital investment. Fossil fuel used in the construction of fibre board, kiln dried timber, chicken wire, etc. etc is used to build a renewable protein source not requiring fossil fuel based fertilizer. (in fact, organic fertilizer is a by-product).

The investment is hard to justify in BAU economic terms, but who here is thinking BAU?

I've wondered about that looking at videos of various old farms in UK and Europe. Stone stables. Stone coops. From my own experience I'm seeing the value in that - never having to do it again. That's "pay it forward".

cfm in Gray, ME

That's so nice that in a pinch a relative might be able to live there ;-)

Aldo Leopold's country get away was a chicken coop. His entire family and guests would stay there for days even weeks.

so , design and build a chicken coup that one could live in. that's what I can do

How to stay cool/comfortable without the grid ? ....

Great functionality and aesthetic but a penthouse suite for chooks.

A good friend decided to built something like this and was trashing his "old" chookhouse. So I said "I'll dispose of that for you - in my backyard". Cost of 3 chooks - $15 AUD from another mate that has a hobby farm with LOTS of chooks. Had some old chicken wire laying round on a junk heap and a few used wooden garden stakes, some staples and some pea straw.

All up we had our personal egg farm up and going for under $50.

They can eat a wide variety of foods esp kitchen scraps and "seconds" from our veggie garden, semi spoiled food, bugs a plenty from pulling apart compost heaps and they do this with their own labour, scrounge lettuce waste from the local food markets, supplement with a bit of commercial feed.

They are great entertainers also.

Chooks have been happy, healthy and productive in their modest country bungalow, and we never buy eggs.

For those seeking a good primer on Antarctica:


Has great photos, maps and clickable hi-res versions [easy links below]:

composite sat view of ice

Elevation colorized relief of ice

Subglacial topography and bathymetry of bedrock underlying Antarctica ice sheet

Antarctica without its ice sheet. This map does not consider that sea level would rise because of the melted ice, nor that the landmass would rise by several hundred meters over a few tens of thousands of years after the weight of the ice was no longer depressing the landmass.
Have fun by opening all four maps, then comparing the drastic changes to get an idea of how far above & how far down below sealevel the ice goes. Can you find the Bentley Subglacial Trench [hint: it is the size of Mexico], the giant rift valleys, and tectonic shelf areas pressed down by the gigatons of ice? Subglacial lake locations like Lake Vostok? How about a former giant caldera in the WAIS the size of New Jersey?

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

Hello TODers,

Evidently, Egyptian health professionals & scientists don't believe the USDA and US Pork Industry:

CAIRO (AP) - The Egyptian government says it has begun slaughtering all pigs in the country as a precautionary measure against the possible spread of swine flu.

The Health Ministry says the slaughter of the country's 300,000 pigs will begin immediately...

This has far more to do with the Egyptian government being Muslim and the Egyptian pig industry being exclusively Christian.

Not the first time that bad or non-existent science has been used to justify racial or religious bigotry.

Maybe some of those pigs just came back from Mexico? :-)

Ironic. At one time in Ancient Egypt this would have been considered madness; an invitation for supernatural retribution.

But then, at one time the gray baboon (Papio Anubis) was granted the same (maybe possibly more) rights, honors, and burial ceremonies as any human member of the ancient preisthood. Today the gray baboon is extinct in Egypt.

I thought (correct me if I'm wrong) that there is a serious risk of humans transmitting this strain to pigs (as opposed to the straight human influenza virus, which pigs don't catch), where it is more likely to mutate further and cause problems by skipping back to humans in a worse form.

So maybe actually we should be sacrificing pigs too, but only in countries where the pork industry is already on controversial ground does this option appear at all possible.

Yesterday on the DB we were discussing the pig factory near the village in Mexico where this seems to have started (and where the article said 2 babies died). You won't find a discussion of that on an agricultural website - in fact they outright deny any possible connection: http://www.extension.org/pages/Swine_Flu_or_North_American_Flu%3F

So anything is possible.
Just because you are paranoid doesn't mean the world is safe...

On the Nuclear reactor cost story -

Would the cost be reduced if some regulation was removed? In other words, wouldn't it be cheaper to build if perhaps, the government removed some of the regulations that cause the cost to be so high? We could do it without compromising safety. Couldn't we?

In other words, wouldn't it be cheaper to build if perhaps, the government removed some of the regulations that cause the cost to be so high? We could do it without compromising safety. Couldn't we?

The US financial industry has already proved the truth of this. Remove all regulation and cheap mortgages become available to every hobo. No money down and get an immediate 2nd mtge to provide the cash to cover closing costs on that McMansion.

Looks like some US pork producer is about to prove that moving his facility to a country with no regulation results in really, really cheap pork. The customers may soon be falling over each other dying to buy it.

Extending the same principle to nuclear reactors sounds like a no brainer.

Extending the same principle to nuclear reactors sounds like a no brainer.

Guess Who's Building Nuclear Power Plants...

'Deregulate, and help businesses make pricing more competitive.' Wasn't that Enron's argument?

I have a colleague who used to work in a fabrication plant supplying the Nuclear Industry, juniormost member of a QC inspection team.. his Supervisors were screwups, often stoned, and passed pipes and welds that should have failed, and my friend had to be sneaky and circumvent his boss to make sure that bad pipe wasn't going out to the reactors.. Since then, he has been anti-nuclear.

'What could possibly go wrong?'


Malcolm: "At the same time, the great intellectual justification of science has vanished. Ever since Newton and Descartes, science has explicitly offered us the vision of total control. Science has claimed the power to eventually control everything, through its understanding of natural laws. But in the Twentieth Century, that claim has been shattered beyond repair. First, Heisenberg's uncertainty principle set limits on what we could know about the subatomic world. Oh well, we say. None of us lives in the subatomic world. It doesn't make any practical difference as we go through our lives. Then, Goedel's theorem set similar limits to mathematics, the formal language of science. Mathematicians used to think that their language had some special inherent trueness that derived from the laws of logic. Now we know that what we call 'reason' is just an arbitrary game. It's not special, in the way we thought it was. "

"... We are witnessing the end of the scientific era. Science, like other outmoded systems, is destroying itself. As it gains in power, it proves itself incapable of handling the power..."

"So what will happen?" Ellie said.
Malcolm shrugged. "A change."
"What kind of change?"
"All major changes are like death," he said. "You can't see to the other side until you are there." And he closed his eyes.
"The poor man," Hammond said, shaking his head.
Malcolm sighed. "Do you have any idea," he said, "how unlikely it is that you, or any of us, will get off this island alive?"

Jurassic Park, page 313

And does anybody expect that the suppliers for any other industry are one whit better?

Nuclear is scary because people decided to make it scary.

The problem isn't science, the problem is stupid people.

Here's an example of what I mean.

Nuclear is scary, not because of stupid people, but because people are stupid.

Hubris is our nemesis

Stupid people work in food processing plants and drive private superpowered exoskeletons, also.

Much higher risks there.

The actual risks from nuclear power are, like the actual risks from terrorism, nowhere near the level of risks we cheerfully accept (or even insist on being allowed to take) on a day-to-day basis.

Chernobyl shows that intelligence, education and stupidity are not correlated.

In a power hungry world, complex systems will not be sustained. Nuclear is far to complex for my taste.

My grandchildren will not die in a fossil fuel powered road accident. They might die of hunger, but I would rather they didn't die of cancer. It is a lingering and painful death.

Cancer has many causes other than radiation, so good luck on that one.

Chernobyl is the prime example of doing everything wrong in nuclear power and there are health and environmental effects from the incident but they are not nearly as severe as the equivalent chemical plant incident.

You might be interested in what the USGS terms 'Cancer Alley' for the region of the area from Baton Rouge to NOLA.

This is due to the extreme amount of pollutants and cancer causing agents in the Mississippi River.

I was checking the pollution of the rivers since I used to fish them and know many who still do. The pollution load is rather deadly but seems to express itself most in the region I cited above.

And I will really miss seafood and Sanitary in Morehead City, NC. As well as Calabash.


What you seem to be saying is, nuclear can work and be safe, as long as we don't allow any "stupidity" to enter the equation. But guess what? Humanity is full of fallible, "stupid" people. We all fall into that category at least once in our lives. So perhaps it would be best to simply accept this, and stay away from complex technologies which require "perfect" humans to design and run them in order to be safe.

What I'm trying to say is that it is already safer than a lot of stuff we already accept, even with the stupidity.

I think I figured out the logic behind the "Nuclear Threat".

Chemical bombs and gas and other munitions are about as dangerous as chemical accidents.

Nuclear Bombs are a million times more powerful than chemical bombs.

Therefore nuclear material, in all forms, must be a million times more powerful and dangerous than chemical material.

The truth is that most nuclear material is several times more dangerous than lead, and the actual risk factors are similar in most respects. Heavy metal poisoning (since most radioactive isotopes in use are heavy metals), and radiation poisoning which is remarkably similar in most respects to heavy metal poisoning.

In short, it needs to be treated with respect, but so does anhydrous ammonia, and anhydrous ammonia is probably responsible for more injuries and deaths every year than all legal uses of nuclear material.

I suspect that the fine folks who broke into the Pelindaba plant in South Africa last year weren't "stupid". But they sure were scary. I am 100% positive that something like this will never ever happen again.

Some links:

Nuclear Bombs != Nuclear Power

Uranium that is being used to generate power is not trivially available to make A-bombs, it is tied up in an important task already.

Here's some real risks for you:


Wow wisco, I think the 4 horsemen are going to be led by Homer Simpson- here from the 60 Minutes story: "The attack came on the night of a plant holiday party. The employee who was supposed to be on duty is a paraplegic in a wheelchair, but he got drunk. Meiring filled in at the last moment. Anton Gerber is her fiancé and he decided to keep her company." So we've got Homer and Marge probably making out in the control room of Sth Africa's most secret nuclear facility while the rest of the staff are drunk at a staff party! Who's looking after the safety button in case of a melt down- Bart??

Because you easily dredge up an article that claims to debunk one nuclear waste spill article as exaggerated and biased.. is this your way of saying we don't have regular reports on Leaks from Spentfuel storage, from faulty seals and pipes at reactors, and exposure of the public to concentrations of radioactive and heavy metals in mining towns and from the mine tailing?

I expect that some industries are better, and some are worse. That doesn't mean I shrug and say that the growing piles of Reactor Waste, and the even more toxic Reprocessing Wastes are just part of the cost of doing business.

Radioactive-waste leak at Hanford worst in years
Aug, '07

The waste from the bottom of the tank is so lethal "that a cup full of waste would kill everyone in a room in a short period of time," Pollet said.

Early Friday, the pump became clogged and workers reversed it in an effort to clear the blockage. That sent some waste from the bottom of the tank up into the hose that was feeding water into the tank, leading to the leak onto the ground, Noyes said.

Workers in surrounding areas were evacuated and the pumping operation was shut down. Also shut down was the pumping of another nuclear waste storage tank. Both will remain closed until it is determined that work can safely proceed.

That one sounds like it's somewhat worse than dropping your 'Indiglow' into the Thames.

If you need more recent articles, a google news search of "Nuclear Waste Leak" will offer you plenty.

The Hanford waste storage facility is a nasty piece of work. I'll give you that one, but the chemical poisonousness of many of the compounds stored there is at least as great as the nuclear risk.

Still, even Chernobyl hasn't matched up to Bhopal and I don't hear people screaming that we need to shut down all chemical plants and petroleum refineries because they are "too complex" or "run by stupid people".

Total mismatch between actual risks and perception of risk.

And just what do you suppose the result of Chernobyl would have been if it had been located in an areas as densely populated as Bhopal?

(And if you listen close enough, you _will_ hear people "screaming that we need to shut down all chemical plants....")

Worse than it was, but still not as bad as the actual Bhopal catastrophe. Nothing released in quantity by Chernobyl is as bad for people as Cyanide.

And to your second point: and how seriously are they taken, really?

The problem at Chernobyl was methyl isocyanate, not cyanide. And yes the levels of radiation released at Chernobyl are far worse for people.
But, then, dose is everything isn't it. In both cases, if you were within a few hundred yards of the epicenter of the explosions, you were dead.

But here's the real difference. You can go to Bhopal today with no chance that you will be exposed to methyl isocyanate. But if you go to Chernobyl you still risk exposure, albeit at non lethal levels.

So if you are really looking for a reason that people are "scared" about nuclear power, perhaps it is because it is the gift that keeps on giving?

As to the second point - they are taken about as seriously as you would have opponents of nuclear power be taken.

Edit: I should note that in a generic sense methyl isocyanate is a type of cyanide - when I wrote that I was thinking of the more common reference of cyanide as hydrogen cyanide.

I was using it in the more generic "Cyanide compounds" sense, but I think you are really seriously overestimating the lethal effect of radiation if you think that it is more dangerous than cyanide compounds.

I think you are also underestimating the residual contamination at Bhopal. I wouldn't avoid going there, but I also wouldn't begin to believe that there had been a complete cleanup of the chemicals even after 25 years, just that there wasn't a dangerous concentration left.

Show me the deaths from nuclear power. If the total direct deaths from nuclear power accidents are greater than the singular Bhopal event which is just the worst example of something that happens too often in chemical processing and transport (ammonia leaks anyone?) I'll concede your point.

I think you are willfully missing the point.

In a singular accident, irregardless of your "poison," the chances of death are a function of the level of toxicity of the release and how close you are to that release.

At Chernobyl it was estimated that close in to the reactor the radiation level was 5.6 röntgen per second - or enough to receive fatal doses within minutes (according to the Wikipedia article). Still think that's "overestimating the lethal effect."

But, again, you are only comparing the direct deaths from the incident and not the long term impacts. It is the sustained level of toxicity - measured in multiple generations - that scares people.

Comparing numbers of deaths in not going to get you anywhere. More people die in a month in traffic accidents (400K a year according to WHO) then died in Bhopal.

The real issue isn't even deaths. The real issue is what it does to our drinking water supply, or genome and the environment in general.

The real issue is health, and if there is a significant health impact some number of attributable deaths will result.

To try to claim otherwise is to invoke the boogeyman of the unknown.

So, if I might restate - and since you started this my invoking the notion of "scared" people - you would have us believe that;

"There is no long term health impact from radiation exposure that justifies people being scared."

Is that really something you want to say?

I'm saying "show me".

The research has been and is being done. The risks are well defined.

Show me the health issues and mortality related to nuclear power.

I showed you the health risks and mortality associated with pipelines and chemical plants.

Nuclear power is clean and safe. Heck, we'll probably lose more people to falling accidents related to wind power when it's widely deployed than we'll lose to nuclear power.

If there is no significant quantity of health and mortality issues associated with an activity, then it is by definition safe.

Yes, there are risks. Yes, accidents happen and people get sick and die. That is true of anything and everything that humans do, even sustainable organic agriculture.

Show me anything that has a better health record.

Perfect Health Record: Any ticking time-bomb.. as long as it's still ticking.

We have enough energy today, while the reactors and storage sites are relatively young, to keep the clock wound up and away from Zero. Tick, Tick, Tick. We see leak reports all the time.. Japan, Scotland, US, France..

Clean and safe. Right.

The nuclear power timebomb already went off at Chernobyl.

It was about as bad as the professionals thought it could be, which is one of the reasons that reactor type was never certified in the US or Western Europe. PWR's aren't perfect but even the worst case accident at a PWR can't be as bad as Chernobyl, and they have wonderful opportunities in PWR design for "fail safe" systems that I expect would be incorporated into any design certified today.

Even with the recent reports on Three Mile Island saying that it was worse than most people thought, it still wasn't as bad as chemical or petroleum processing and transport incidents that aren't newsworthy enough to make the national news.

You keep comparing it with other Chemical Spills.. It is NOT Either/Or.. we get the fast-poison from one, and the slow-poison from the other.. and when we're really lucky we're getting some unknown combined effects from BOTH.

Russia didn't have the budgets or the marketing expertise to do coverups like we can do them. Watch the big boys.. they'll show you how it's done.



You are right, it isn't either/or, it is and.

AND when the source of the radioactive waste is a nuclear power plant we treat it much more seriously, with the respect it deserves, as opposed to when it originates from any other source.

And the TVA is as big as they come. Where's the coverup?


I watched the documentary "chernobyl heart" which was recommended in TOD a few days ago. The statistic from that film which had the biggest impact upon me was when an obstetrician from a city downwind of Chernobyl was asked how many children were born healthy (normal) and he responded -25%-. I can't remember the name of the city - other people interviewed said that they were no longer considered to be contaminated so the compensation was discontinued.

Of the 75% which this obstetrician declared were unhealthy births, I don't know how sever the disabilities were. The film dealt with a heart defect which, if left untreated, was lethal. Other issues addressed were physical deformity and thyroid cancer.

Certainly Bhopal had a larger number of initial deaths, I don't know how the residual health of folks in the exposure areas compares with those in the Chernobyl zone.

Neither event should have happened. I also don't think there is any reason why more and worse disasters won't happen. Desire for safety and environmental health always take a back seat to economics and the wealth making machines of our civilization.


Thanks for the recommendation. I've seen several "post" studies and documentaries on Chernobyl and a good number seem to have come to the conclusion that it wasn't as bad as we feared.

The thing that always strikes me about these assessments is that they tend to ignore that 1) more than 300,000 people were forced to move - permanently and 2) no where else on the planet is there a 17 mile exclusion zone where no one can legally live due to an industrial accident.

Total mismatch between spills and reportage of spills.

Still too many rugs to sweep it under. Using the sins of the chemical industry to upstage the longer term hazards of nuclear waste is a very useful one. BOTH are incredibly hazardous.

Living is the #1 cause of death.

It's all hazardous. Nuclear is at least an order of magnitude less hazardous than people make it out to be (probably 2 or 3 by the way many people fear it), people will get out of bed early to drive to an anti-nuclear protest when their morning shower and the drive to the protest are both more hazardous than a lifetime living next to a nuclear power plant.

I use the chemical and petroleum industries as examples because they are analogous in purpose and of higher complexity than nuclear power.

Problem is, it's not just that protester's lifespan that these wastes have the potential to cause harm. They have plenty of time to make up for this 'order of magnitude' that you are guessing at.

These are often highly concentrated collections of various compounds, and they have been shown to fry their containment systems.. how many generations do you expect to re-can them again and again, so we could enjoy air-conditioning? Those old rusty benign looking lumps of concrete behind the new school have been here since the American Empire, but snow never stays on them.. they're naturally warm. Probably a good place to put a house, or heat the water for the town.

Keep shrugging. You have time.. it's our progeny that will see the real results of this choice.

You tell a pretty story.

How is your scenario worse than planting a farm or building a school on the grounds of an old ammunition plant?

We need to take reasonable precautions with the waste. Reasonable does not mean "nothing bad could ever ever ever come of this" because that is an impossible standard to meet for anything.

If we treat radiation with the same level of respect we aspire to for lead and mercury our distant descendants will do just fine.

You can't hide Nuclear Waste behind Chemical Waste. It IS chemical waste.

It's not a matter of 'nothing is perfect, so you can't fault this for being Extremely Imperfect.' It's like the conservatives who are trying to divert the storm against the Republican actions of the last 8 years by shrugging and saying "All politicians are crooks. Get over it."

Dredging up tonne after tonne of radioactive material from deep underground, purifying and concentrating it, and leaving it to simmer in little puddles near our Rivers and Oceans, or sprinkling it over the cities and towns of Iraq and Afghanistan is not "Nobody's Perfect. What do you expect of us, miracles?" These are disasters waiting to happen, and the body counts will not be available in time to prove to complacent advocates like yourself that there's a reason to take some responsibility and not leave a legacy of known toxins growing on our land.

This is the SAME disaster as Bhopal, just hiding behind a different bag of money and a different corporate logo. They thank you for your heroic support of their worthy cause.


Perfect rejoinder.


Which is more dangerous, the chemical part or the nuclear part?

Plutonium is several orders of magnitude more lethal as a chemical poison than it is as a radiation source.

Hanford is a mess. It is a nasty soup of chemically poisonous radioactive waste that should never have been created in the first place but was because the folks doing it didn't know any better.

We learned. People do that.

We learned that burying toxic organic chemicals and heavy metals in the soil is bad, too. There are dozens of places around the world where people aren't allowed to live that have nothing to do with nuclear power: old ammunition plants, ammo dumps, minefields, and myriad other toxic industrial waste fields.

Chernobyl is horrid, we don't build reactors like that anymore, and only a few countries ever did.

The simple fact is that nobody, nobody can point to any instance of radiation effects having more serious effects on a population than chemical effects.

Love Canal.

"Honey, I don't see what you're so worried about! That kid gets bloody noses and scraped shins from the swing-set all the time! That's the real danger! My Axe and Chainsaw mobile has NEVER, EVER hurt our child. I defy you to show me one instance where it has. NOOO, when I was setting it up doesn't count. I didn't know as much then, and ok, a couple mistakes were made. But since then, there is absolutely NO proof that dental floss is not a perfectly safe and reasonable fiber for supporting an industrial-scale art project. Show me the proof.

I gotta go and get some more gas.. some of the saws are running low again."

Banging on the table, Jokuhl?

Try a rational argument. What, exactly, is the health risk from nuclear power that is not dealt with better than greater risks from other sources?

If it is so dangerous why aren't there more problems?

How many MegaCuries of radiation was released into rivers when the TVA coal-ash repository "leaked"?

r4ndom -

I'm with you on this one!

Yes, nuclear power plants pose certain serious hazards, but so does almost everything else. The only sensible question in this discussion is: hazardous compared to WHAT? Over the last fifty years, globally how many people have been killed as the direct result of the operation of a nuclear power plant?

And Chernobyl is a perfect example of how you can screw anything up. It was poorly designed, poorly constructed, and poorly operated. A perfect example of Soviet-era incompetence. If it were a car, it'd be a badly abused 1985 Yugo that was used as a taxi in a place like Honduras. The existence of potential hazards is not the issue. The issue is can such hazards be managed in an acceptable manner. And with nuclear power, the answer is a resounding YES.

As I've said here on TOD at least once before, if one insists upon worrying about dying a horrible death from radiation poisoning, then one would be far more justified in worrying about dying from the radioactive fallout of a nuclear exchange inadvertently or purposely ignited by opposing forces vying over dwindling oil reserves than from a nuclear power plant melting down. It is far more likely that someone is eventually going to light up the entire Middle East than my local nuclear power plant melting down.

I would not be crazy about living next door to any power plant; but if I had to, I'd much prefer living next door to a nuclear power plant than a coal-fired one.

Q: would you be happier living next door to

  • a nuclear power station (type of your choice) where all the staff suddenly dropped dead of e.g. flu, or
  • an explosives factory where all the staff suddenly dropped dead of e.g. flu


Nuclear power plant. Hands down.
Google "factory explosion"
Google "nuclear power explosion"

Based just on that it looks like living next to a marshmallow manufacturing plant is more dangerous...

The problem isn't science, the problem is stupid people.

Solve this problem by exporting production to India. Lots of very intelligent folks there and very cheap too.
If they build the power plants they may as well build the production plants that will use that cheap power. Then they can export all those cheap goods back to the USA.

I understand that this is a model that has worked really well in the past. Your Presidents and heads of industry all endorse it.

Thank you for reinforcing my point.

Total mismatch between actual risks and perception of risk.

There is a sub-field of sociology which deals with this. I used to have to fight (correction - have heated discussions with) folks who viewed an offshore drilling rig as "dangerous."

It is true there were many hazards. But we spent much time and effort on educating the workforce with regard to those hazards. And the workforce understood that their survival depended on their knowledge and thier actions. As a result I was statistically much safer out on a rig than I was driving a car to work.

The car and roadway system are deathtraps and no one is held responsible for the annual carnage that occurs there. Yet it is perceived by the users to be "safe" with aircraft, bicycles, helicopters and drilling rigs all seen as much more "dangerous."

Like what? where to dump the toxic radioactive fuel rods? Make sure the plant don't fall apart during fire/flood/earthquake? Hot water not damaging river and stream?

Not sure what regulations you want to remove.

With the current state of nuclear plant building in this country (i.e. no new plants in over twenty years, IIRC), I think removing regulation is a sure-fire way to have a disaster on your hands.

A story on the DrumBeat recently told of subcontracting work on a nuclear plant being so shoddy there was tremendous rework required and thus cost overruns and delays. I fear that in this rush to build we are going to get a very poor product.

...and on the cusp of energy descent, should we even be building new reactors? Will we even be able to responsibly decommission the current ones?

Removing government regulations won't make much difference to costs, since they're mostly needed and not terribly expensive. The real cost kicker is irrational anti-nuclear groups hiring ambulance-chasing lawyer types to tie up and delay half-built projects in endless court proceedings.

Humans are by far their own worst enemy.

Economists -- the species not being noted for irrationality or for sympathy to environmental and health concerns -- still say that nuclear is A Bad Idea. Why? Because nuclear technologies have higher costs and lower benefits than the alternatives. Some studies come out with a net negative return on investment in nuclear power. At a minimum the cost has been 0.5% PA GDP growth reduction from the end of WWII to the mid 1970s (compared to making the same level of investment in best alternative technologies).

(The above based on David Edgerton's book "The Shock of the Old", a sceptical look at the importance of "modern" technologies.)

So, nuclear seems to be a stupid idea from both the long term (environmental) and the short term (economic) points of view. However, it's associated with Power, and with Big Buildings - both have been irresistable to politicians from Sumerian times onwards.

One of these articles is dated 2005, the other 2 days ago. I leave it as an excercise to the reader to figure out which is which...

What If GM Did Go Bankrupt...
How investors, customers, and suppliers might fare under Chapter 11

...investors are clearly starting to ponder the unthinkable. The price of GM's credit-default swaps, which are insurance in case the carmaker can't pay back its loans, have soared in the past month. They now cost a premium of 12 percentage points of the value of the debt that they insure, four times what they cost in January... Investors, suppliers, and employees, meanwhile, are starting to imagine how a GM bankruptcy would unfold and taking steps to defend themselves if it should happen. Some suppliers, for example, are trying to get shorter payment terms from GM in exchange for lower prices.

What would a GM bankruptcy look like? It probably would be the most massive Chapter 11 filing of all time -- a watershed moment in the history of American business, with far-reaching consequences for all of GM's stakeholders. While the direct impact on the national economy would be relatively modest, the Midwest would be hit hard by the combination of job losses at GM and its suppliers and benefits cuts for the company's retirees.

Plenty of observers believe that this suffering would be worthwhile, of course, if a stronger company emerged from bankruptcy. As airlines and steelmakers have done, GM could use Chapter 11 to rewrite union contracts, potentially enabling it to slash retiree benefits and close plants without having to pay furloughed workers. The auto maker could even dump tarnished brands and get bankruptcy court protection from dealer lawsuits. "Bankruptcy could do great things for GM," says William J. Rochelle III, a bankruptcy attorney with Fulbright & Jaworski LLP. But, of course, Chapter 11 is no sure bet. History is full of examples of companies that have emerged from bankruptcy simply to return in a few years.

GM Reaches The End Of The Road
Once the world's most powerful automaker, General Motors' future now rests on a long-shot debt deal.

Unless bondholders agree to a long-shot debt exchange prescribed by the federal government, General Motors, once the largest automaker in the world, will soon go bankrupt.

The debt exchange is a critical component of the automaker's revised restructuring plan, announced Monday, which also calls for the company, by next year, to kill its 83-year-old Pontiac brand, cut its network of dealers nearly in half, close 13 plants and eliminate 21,000 factory jobs.

The new plan also says General Motors would need an additional $11.6 billion in federal aid this year, bringing GM's total taxpayer assistance to $27 billion. Regardless, GM's bankruptcy is looking "more likely," says the company's chief executive, Fritz Henderson.

Is there ever a time when GM is *NOT* sitting in the dunk tank?

From the article in FORBES:

In divvying up what's left of GM, the government intends to take the largest slice for itself--just above 50%--and hand another fat piece--39%--to the United Auto Workers union. That would leave a little over 10% for GM's bondholders, if they choose to accept GM's offer to swap $27 billion in unsecured debt for new equity in a restructured GM.

If GM does go bankrupt, the result will be a de facto nationalization of the company. If so, maybe we (the new owners, U.S.) can change the company name from "General Motors" to "American Motors" and dump the Cads to sink or swim on their own with the Hummers...

E. Swanson

American Motors? Been there, done this: http://tr.im/k1SC

Dude, AMC was sold to Chrysler... I think the easiest way out is for two (or all three) of the big three to merge...

Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending April 24, 2009

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged about 14.3 million barrels per day during the week ending April 24, down 182 thousand barrels per day from the previous week's average. Refineries operated at 82.7 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production decreased last week, averaging 8.8 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production increased last week, averaging nearly 4.2 million barrels per day.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged about 9.8 million barrels per day last week, down 31 thousand barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged 9.6 million barrels per day, 246 thousand barrels per day below the same four-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged 841 thousand barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 123 thousand barrels per day last week.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) increased by 4.1 million barrels from the previous week. At 374.7 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are above the upper boundary of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories decreased by 4.7 million barrels last week, and are in the upper half of the average range. Finished gasoline inventories fell last week and gasoline blending components inventories decreased during this same time. Distillate fuel inventories increased by 1.8 million barrels, and are above the upper boundary of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories increased by 1.7 million barrels last week and are above the upper limit of the average range. Total commercial petroleum inventories increased by 5.5 million barrels last week, and are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year.

It's worth noting that the gasoline consumption is estimated to be very near that of last year at this time. Note the data at the end of the posting, which shows that the weekly gasoline consumption is trending upwards slightly as the seasonal driving pattern develops, although one can't compare these data against last year's. The big fall off is in distillate, which could be expected, given the cut back in the construction world. The use of jet fuel use follows the reported decline in air transport.

E. Swanson

I found this quite interesting. Big drop in US production.

                         04/03/09 04/10/09 04/17/09 04/24/09
Domestic Production        5,469    5,482    5,421    5,269

Because of the new GOM projects that came and will come on stream to expect is an undulating plateau of crude oil production for a few years.

I guess just the opposite -- that US production will be at or under 5 mbd by the end of the summer. With a major hurricane in the GOM, a US monthly total could be less than any time since 1939 this fall.

These are some images from the EIA that tell the supply picture pretty well:

Distillate supply (diesel, home heating oil) especially high.

I also noticed that gasoline usage is down 2.1% for the four weeks ended April 24, 2009, compared to a year ago. This is even with the lower price this year.

WTI crude prices have traded in a narrow band around $50/barrel for almost two month now. It's like a violin string has been stretched at the $50 level. Everytime the price veers up or down from that level, it's forced back toward $50.

It's hard to imagine that this price can be sustained for the foreseeable future as there are some pretty powerful forces that can drive the price out of this zone.

Anyone care to stick their neck out and predict the direction of the next breakout?

Hurricanes. They really helped prices go bonker last year, and the right storm(s) at the right place(s) can do it again in 09.


All that inventory in tank farms and at sea.
Curtailed demand due to a reluctance to travel and general economic problems. I think we could see a dive toward $30 a bbl.

That in turn would promote further instability in ME and cause the outright cancellation of projects everywhere.

We may have peaked in 2008 but the actual effects of that peak may be postponed for 1 or 2 years due to the global recession.

Yes down. As I posted above, I believe we are definitely on the downhill side of peak oil but because of the recession/depression demand will drop faster than production.

However we are still producing over 71 million barrels per day and depleting reserves at somewhere between two and three percent per year. Lower prices will not change the fact that we are post peak however it will very likely disguise to the world the awareness of the fact that we are post peak. It all depends on which one drops faster, supply or demand. And right now, and for the near future, demand is likely to drop faster.

Ron P.

And given that the OPEC nations are facing a drop in national income they have three choices:
1) Spend savings and reserves to prop up their economy
2) Borrow to prop up their economy
3) Cheat on their quotas to prop up their economy.

History shows they have typically selected option 3.

If correct, we should see declining demand coupled with an unexplainable increase in supply. $30 a bbl may be an optimistic estimate.

Ron - did you work in Saudi? Are you familiar with the geology of Ghawar?

Yes I worked in Saudi for five years, two years at a power plant near Ras Tanura and three years in Safaniya, returning to my family in Ras Tanura on weekends. That was from 1980 until 1985.

Sorry but I only know what I have read about the geology of Ghawar. However if you have a specific question about it, I am sure I, or someone else on the list, could likely answer it.

Ron P.

Just that there was an article on the use of super-critical CO2 being researched in Alberta for tar sands extraction. Leanan had it posted yesterday, I believe.

My thought was that given the porosity of Ghawar it may make sense to adopt the technology for use there. I think Joule responded that you needed pressures of 2,000 psi to force the CO2 into its super-critical state but those pressures are not uncommon at well depth in the formations I am familiar with.

Basic thought was replace water flood with super-critical CO2 flood geology permitting. This may enhance recovery and may also provide a means to sequester CO2.

If I were a Saudi I would be all over this research as it may deliver a viable EOR technique plus I could possibly get western subsidy for a new carbon sink - I can sell crude as "Clean Green Oil."

Sounds like a facetious idea I know. But the only real drawback I can see is the geology not being suitable. There would be a cost associated with compression and injection but KSA already is facing that cost with water flood.

Any idea how CO2 enhances the URR or flow rates aside from increasing the pressure? Is there a chemical reaction between the CO2 and the oil whereby the viscocity of the oil is reduced? If so, it would seem that CO2 injection would only be beneficial for recovering heavier oil.

BOP, There is no natural source of C02 anywhere near Ghawar. However they could sequester C02 from the refinery, chemical plants and other sources. They would have to pipe it a great distance across the desert. It would make a lot more sense for them to do it at Berri, Abque or other reservoirs that are much closer to the source than Ghawar. They would not have near enough sequestered C02 for all their reservoirs. Probably not nearly enough just for Berri.

I understand that C02 is used in conjunction with water injection, not instead of it.

Enhanced Oil Recovery/CO2 Injection

I found plenty of articles on the net about C02 injection but no statistics whatsoever. That is, what percentage of the oil can be used bu using C02 injection verses not using it? How much C02 is required per a million barrels of recovery? How much oil is being recovered right now using this method?

This article talks of enhanced recovery but no stats whasoever.

CO2 Injection Boosts Oil Recovery, Captures Emissions If it helps, then how much does it help?

Basically I know from little to nothing about C02 injection and recovery and wonder if it is that great why is it not being more widely used right now. If there is more oil to be recovered, meaning more money to be made, why is it not more widely used right now?

Ron P.

This is the link to the original story:


When they are subjected to a certain high temperature and pressure, substances like carbon dioxide enter a state where they are neither liquid nor gas — the super-critical state. When mixed with several other compounds, super-critical carbon dioxide is able to extract hydrocarbons from almost anything, in a process somewhat like the way some dry cleaners work.

I am not familiar with CO2 re-injection but assume that it is similar to NG re-injection. This process appears to be somewhat different as it changes the properties of the CO2. Have not found much on the process but have been trying to think of drawbacks to use.

Of course any big drop in price will likely result in this research being shelved.

Supercritical CO2 just assume this means liquid is a fantastic solvent everything dissolves in it.

And when your done you just pop the top a viola solvent gone.


Darwinian -

If they are operating any sort of gas-fired power plants in the vicinity to supply electricity to the various oil extraction and post-extraction processing operations, then I would think there should be a source of CO2 not too far away. It would have to be scrubbed from the stack gas, and that could be a major headache.

At least in theory, the function of the CO2 is not merely to serve as a physical vehicle for pressurizing the formation, but rather to act as a solvent when in the super-critical state. At the typical depths and temperatures in Ghawar, the state of the CO2 should be well into the super-critical regime. I think the idea is to have the super-critical CO2 form a solvent/solute system with the oil and thus cause it to become far more mobile. Once the oil comes up to the surface, the CO2 drops below the critical point, and the 'dissolved' oil then separates from the sub-critical CO2. That, in my simple layman's understanding, is what I think is supposed to happen. Of course, making it happen could be a whole other story.

If the super-critical CO2 works as intended, it might make it possible to squeeze the sponge a little harder and get a little more oil out, but I doubt it's going to radically alter the overall picture.

joule -- you understand the process fairly well. CO2 injection can have one or two goals depending on the situation. CO2 dissolved in oil does decrease viscosity and aids mobility. Particular usefull in the heavier oils. It can also be used solely to support pressure in a reservoir. But this would involve generating a CO2 gas cap in the reservoir. Nitrogen or NG can be used for a similar basis.

Going out on a bit of a limb since this isn't my specialty but the water injection at Ghawar isn't so much a matter of pressure maintenance as fluid movement. Once the oil saturation reaches a lower level in a water drive reservoir, such as Ghawar, the relative permeability of the rock to oil essentially drops to zero. This is why oil reservoirs, which commonly contain 30% or so water in the pore space, will produce water-free initially. At such high oil saturations the permeability to water is essentially zero. Produce the oil and the oil and water saturations move in opposite directions. Once oil reaches the 30% saturation level or so it cannot move through the reservoir. If one could dissolve CO2 into that oil it might aid recovery some but I doubt it would be economical. Much (if not the majority) of the oil being produced at Ghawar now is being entailed in the water production.
Water is injected to provide more mobile water into the reservoir. While that does improve the pressure in the reservoir it doesn't improve the mobility of the oil. It's done to improve the mobility of the water: move more water through the reservoir and recover more oil.

Though "pressure maintenance" is tossed around, Ghawar is much different then Cantarell Field. The nitrogen gas cap there has been injected to aid in oil recover by keeping a pressure draw down moving the oil towards the producing wells. There is no water drive in this field. No water moving through the pores = no oil production. A much different pressure maintenance then Ghawar: Cantarell p/m = oil p/m. Ghawar p/m = water p/m.

Some of the west Texas folks around here know a lot more then me so they might add to the discussion.


Looking at a water drive at a molecular level I would anticipate that the water shears off only a few molecules of oil and serves to transport those to the well bore. You end up moving a lot of water to obtain a declining fraction of oil. Given the porosity of Ghawar I would think there would be a significant residual oil film which is never touched by the water.

I know little of the properties of super-critical CO2 but from what I have read it provides a solvent that may: 1) penetrate pore spaces bypassed by the water; 2) scavenge residual oil more effectively than detergents or surfactants thereby providing enhanced recovery; 3) offer as a collateral benefit a means to sequester CO2. When you abandon you leave the CO2 in situ. Thus there is the prospect of a technology that would address both PO and AGW. Not sure if this holds up in the "real world" but have been trying to identify reasons it would not work. Not found any so far.

You've got it exactly right BOP: literally the oil is stripped molecule by molecule and entrained in the water. That's why in most water-drive oil reservoirs you see a transition from production techniques to initially minimize water production to efforts to increase water rates to the maximum level possible. This will be one of the beneficial side effects to horizontal redevelopment of such a reservoirs. The horizontal nature of such a well will delay water production. But when the water does finally hit these wells will also be able to produce many times the water rate of a vertical well. A 5% oil cut of a well making 10,000 bwpd gets you 500 bopd. A vertical well making 200 bwpd gets you 10 bopd. As you suggest, any surfactant or compound that increase this propensity would help. But I just not familiar with the ability super-critical C02 to provide a significant upgrade to the process over current methodology.

I'm not sure about the CO2 being left in place. In conventional CO2 EOR project the gas in dissolved in the oil. Post production the oil is degassed and the CO2 is released to the atmosphere. So far I haven't heard of any movement to require such sources sequestered.

"I found plenty of articles on the net about C02 injection but no statistics whatsoever."

here is a resource for information on co2.


u wyo references anadarko petroleum monel unit which has a discussion of one such project. there is also an overview on co2 in the permian basin.

whiting petroleum has a presentation on thier website with some additional discussion(starts on about p38).


weyburn field in saskatchewan here:


I think we could see a dive toward $30 a bbl.

A $30/barrel price would devastate the oil service industry -- more wells and drilling rigs mothballed, no more tar sand projects, refinery shutdows, cancelled deep water projects, etc.

This looks like a disaster in the making with sky-rocketing oil prices if/when the world economy recovers followed by another recession.


All that inventory in tank farms and at sea.
Curtailed demand due to a reluctance to travel and general economic problems. I think we could see a dive toward $30 a bbl.

But its not. The economy is weaker now than it has ever been especially as financial problems are now causing widespread unemployment and the "real" oil using economy is weaker than ever before. Right now is a traditionally weak season in oil demand where historically we reach one of our high points in storage and when demand is at one of its lowest points as winter demand fades and summer driving season and agriculture has not started in earnest. Its refinery maintenance season.

Overall for the year it represents the most probable low point in oil demand. Oil storage is supposedly at multi decade highs.

Yet the price for oil is not 30 or less a barrel and the market is still in strong contango.

I of course have my own thoughts on the matter but obviously something is wrong with the assertion that demand has fallen off a cliff and the world is flooded with oil. I'm sorry persistent 50 dollar oil indicates this is simply not the truth.

If the "facts" are indeed truths then we have already passed the point where oil would fall to 30 we can of course assume that something is interfering with this fine but the price of oil better collapse soon or we will pass the point where all the factors are at their lowest level. Your talking 3-6 weeks at most left for this supposed flood of oil to finally work its magic and collapse prices.

I haven't seen this info posted yet:

US has record 1st quarter wind capacity growth

At this rate 10+ GW per year looks very doable going forward!

Onwards to sustainability,

Dennis of SETenergy.org

That data point only demonstrates what has happened in the past.

To see into the future, you must look at different data.

Renewable-energy investments drop globally

Clean-Tech Venture Financing Plunges

That's because we have, in my view, entered the Period of Receding Horizons. The point at which we get off fossil fuels ("the horizon") is now getting further away rather than closer. Actually, it wasn't even getting closer before this economic decline since fossil fuel production had been growing faster in energy terms than renewable energy production, but the point still stands.

For an explanation of why I think this is so, please see:
You've Bought Your Last Car

You're right that last quarter's quick growth doesn't ensure future growth and that wind farm financing is currently hard to get.

But I think we will have 5.5+ GW growth for wind in '09 (2nd fastest ever after '08) and more in '10 - increasing the % of US electricity from wind beyond 2% and slowly toward Germany and Spain's % above 5%...

While I have seen that solar module prices are falling, I haven't yet found much data on wind turbine prices dropping. Anyone have data on that?

Onwards in the Sustainable Energy Transition-


thanks for posting the article containing the interview with David Gard who is the energy policy director with the Michigan Environmental Council (MEC). http://www.michiganpolicy.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&...

He and the MEC are doing a great job in helping to get the word out about energy and environmental issues here in Michigan.

"(Bloomberg) -- Natural gas futures will probably tumble to a bottom near $2.75 per million British thermal units before rebounding, according to a technical analysis by Tom Orr, research director at Weeden & Co.

-are these the same bright sparks that predicted $25 oil a while back?


I have been attempting to think about the trillion dollar question:
Where is stability? What will it look like
when will we get there and what will the road be like on the way

That is, if we are at peak, and supplies trend down, prices spike up, but at some point people can't pay
They make adjustments, we have dramatic inflation, economic stagnation, and we continue to use oil
But supplies continue to decline.
We change lifestyles
We use substitutes
Food and shelter become more expensive
The population declines

All the graphs seem to indicate there will be relative stability of supply twenty years out (?) or at least a much diminished decline rate so the curve is much flatter at a much lower level

So will we have another dramatic spike up in prices, then another crash as demand staggers down to a new low level. So there will be much increased volatility. How many times will that spike/crash continue?
Will the spikes be larger, or smaller, as the lifestyle adjustments and other transitions continue?

I am not of the doomer camp, not based on anything, just my personality.
I think your personality, age, and your current life conditions really affect your projections into the future, (is this Psychographics? or psychobabble?) because no one really knows so we are attracted to the facts that best match our mood (i think this is true of the stock market too, on a daily basis)

But coming back to projections how do we model this - in an impartial way? Has it already been modeled?
I think this is a true sea change, historically speaking, based on rereading The Great Wave, so I'm saying it is a 20 year transition. maybe 30. A very long and painful road and the destination is very unclear

But, based on history, once we get there it should be a stable period that could last quite a while. This has happened before.

At Grand Central, a Fluorescent Twist to a Light-Bulb Joke


Assuming the 4,000 incandescent lamps originally used are 60-watts each and their replacements 13-watts, the annual energy savings are 1.65 GWh/year. Not too shabby.


The country’s 2.8 billion barrels of oil reserves, which fund 70 percent of the national budget, are forecast by the government to run out over the next decade. With little foreign aid, economic prospects are shrinking for a population that is expected to double by 2030 to 40 million.

The threat is rising of social unrest that could strengthen al-Qaeda as it seeks to use Yemen as a base to destabilize neighboring Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest exporter of crude. Somalia, across the Gulf of Aden, hasn’t had a functioning central government since 1991 and has become a breeding ground for pirates who attack shipping lanes.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I find this story very ominous. If Yemen, ancestral home of the bin Ladens, runs out of oil in ten years, it's not hard to imagine a young population with few prospects causing huge trouble in the Gulf. I would expect al Qaeda's overtly militant activities to shift to places like Yemen and Somalia, which is much more worrying than places like Afghanistan given the region's strategic importance. A post-peak Arabian peninsula is a real nightmare scenario, especially with the apocalyptic ideology at work there -- the Islamic doomers in the Gulf probably put most peak oilers to shame. Anyway, it looks like Yemen will be the first test case. Should be interesting.

To all you green self subsistence growers out there:

You can buy circular mats of hair, measuring 6 to 14 inches, that you place around plant stems. Or you can buy the mats as a roll. The hair crowds out weeds, conserves water, and supplies nitrogen and micronutrients. Plant pathologists at the University of Florida have found the mats eliminate weeds better than leading herbicides.

Farmer Harry Grafe was skeptical when a Smart Grow salesman first made the pitch. But Grafe gave it a try on an acre of sorrel plants. He spent a few hundred dollars on mats. And he went from sending a crew to weed four times a year to not weeding at all.


BTW, I'm already past "Peak Hair"

Unfortunately, and as predicted violence is escalating at an alarming rate in Iraq:

Bombings kill at least 41 in Baghdad, making April deadliest month since March '08

Full link:

Again it seems the Shia areas where heavily targeted, the Shia militias are not going to stay quite, soon they will retaliate thus creating more chaos, the situation in Iraq is extremely precarious.


The cure for swine flu: alphabology.

Alphabology is something I invented a few hours ago while I may or may not have been under the influence. Alphabology is the study of the hidden meaning in anagrams. It's like astrology, 1-900-PSYCHIC, or feeling the goat's testicles in that any utility or accuracy in the process is entirely coincidental.

What the anagrams of alphabology tell us about "swine flu" is that:

"Sinful we". This is part of our punishment for our crimes against nature.

"Flew in US". People will be avoiding flying to and from the US due to fear and perhaps quarantines.

"Fuels win." This is not the doom we're looking for, and peak oil is still the defining issue.

More of Flyvbjerg. This guy is really on to something.


Thanks for posting that link. I have met Dr.Flyvbjerg once; he is a very engaging professor and very driven. His theoretical work on the ways that powerful interests shape data and facts in their own interests deserves a wider audience. You can access many examples of his work here: http://flyvbjerg.plan.aau.dk/bfpubratpow.php

Personally I prefer the ideas of "Receding Horizons" over all this "lying" taking place, according to Mr Flyvbjerg.No one likes the idea of being named a liar, who do you name first and how do you argue about it ? (concerning public constructions or projects)

Give the financial crissis some more time, and I think (already showing!) that contracts are turning cheaper than before. Will that result in "Approaching Horizons" and if so, for how long ?

Now, for me at least, the term "Receding Horizons" is a very powerfull principple when understood, b/C this is it... this is why MegaProjects are screewed time and time again. No budget-coordinator will ever get it right without swollowing the pill named "Receding Horizons". I see the concept of "Receding Horizons" as a 100% proXy of the oil-price..... It makes it all for me. Thanks whoever taught me this. I know Bhaktiari was debating this phenomenonm in his "four stages of transition"

I've seen reference to the over-run issue in a couple of other places too - Samsam Bahktiari discussed it w/r/t megaprojects and so did Nassim in "Black Swan". I don't think either of them got into the lying part. Budgets and lying - where have we seen that before?

Hello TODers,

Chiroptologists Mourn the Silent Scream of Bats Killed by Fungus

..If you've lived any place with a large bat population (such as Austin, Texas), you know the crucial role that bats play in the ecosystem. Namely, they eat mosquitoes. Nature might consider some of their other roles as even more important, but people who live near bats love bats because bats eat bajillions of mosquitoes each year. By one scientist's conservative estimation, "the million bats that have died would have consumed about 694 tons of insects in one year: the equivalent weight of about 11 Abrams M1 tanks."

Tank operators might take comfort in the news, but natural scientists are sounding a serious alarm: White nose syndrome could drive entire bat populations to extinction. According to the Post, the disease is nearly completely fatal.

Bats' homes off-limits because of disease

..Nearly 500,000 bats have died.

Researchers are unsure whether the fungus is the disease or a symptom of it. They do know that it can kill 90 percent to 100 percent of bats hibernating in a cave.

The United States has 45 species of bats, and all are fragile. Bats that reach adulthood typically produce only two offspring during their average 10-year life spans, said Mitch Masters, an Ohio State University biologist.

If 90 percent of a colony was wiped out in a single winter, "it would take a long time to replace them," Masters said.
Because of the very high mortality + the very slow birth rate: IMO, this disease is much worse than the recent H1N1 flu virus. Yet, very little resources are dedicated to finding a quick & lasting cure for these helpless creatures. As posted before: bat biologists would have Extremely High Pay if more people understood how important bats are for bug control and making bat guano.

Wow notice that Oberstar is shilling for a New World Order Orwellian style track and trace taxation scheme. Obviously it isnt about raising revenue because it would cost over $100-300 per vehicle plus billions in infrastructure to implement a tax-you-by-the-mile sham system. And people are so dumb they dont even realize the logic behind it is fatally flawed. It wont raise revenue. It cant, because it costs more money than it will make. On its face it is NOT about raising revenue. That means it only serves one purpose: to allow the elite to track and trace individual slaves. This stuff is all out in the open now, and no one even cares to notice. We are literally paying for our own enslavement.

Interesting. The problem is that if it serves the purpose of allowing the elite to track and trace individual slaves, then that means the individual was already a slave. It does not server the purpose of enslaving anyone. That was already done with the purchase of the car and the participation within American corporate culture.

So if we're already slaves, and I'm not going to argue with that, then why shouldn't our masters have us pay for a nice high tech tracking system? Will I get one for my bicycle too? How about my skateboard?

The point is that you are already generating gushers of data streams that allow tracking in various forms. I don't see why this one more is a trigger for any kind of action.

I've not researched this, and I'm not trying to defend it, but why would they have to track your movements with an expensive system? Couldn't they just make you come in once a year so they can read your odomoeter?

It would be a Federal program so they could only charge for miles driven on Federally funded highways.