Drumbeat: May 1, 2009

Number of active oil rigs falls by 10

HOUSTON (AP) -- The number of rigs actively exploring for oil and natural gas in the United States fell by 10 this week to 945, down nearly half from a year ago.

Of the rigs running nationwide, 741 were exploring for natural gas and 196 for oil, Houston-based Baker Hughes Inc. reported Friday. A total of eight were listed as miscellaneous.

A year ago, the rig count stood at 1,839. The U.S. count is down 53 percent since the end of August as weak energy demand has hampered oilfield activity.

Oil climbs above $53; manufacturing declines slow

NEW YORK – Oil prices rose sharply Friday as a trade group reported that deterioration in the American manufacturing sector appeared to be slowing.

Heavy industry is a major energy consumer and layoffs and factory shutdowns on a global scale has resulted in huge stockpiles of unused natural gas and crude. As a result, prices have fallen hard since last summer, but have edged up throughout this week.

Scientists say device charges cars smarter

SEATTLE - Researchers at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash., say they've come up with a way to recharge electric cars that won't strain the power grid.

The smart charger controller is a device that automatically figures out the best and cheapest times for drivers to recharge cars.

The technology communicates with the power grid and can temporarily stop charging when there is stress on the system, scientist Michael Kintner-Meyer said.

Drivers could get a charge out of Chevrolet Volt

WARREN, Mich. — Based on the thin evidence available, folks who buy or lease the Chevrolet Volt electric car — scheduled to go on sale in November 2010 — should be surprised and pleased.

If the so-called Volt mules that General Motors provided for a few miles of driving around the GM Tech Center campus here Tuesday were representative, Volt owners will be treated to remarkably punchy performance from the electric drivetrain and a level of quiet refinement that appears to lead the industry.

Ford’s U.S. vehicle sales fell 32 percent in April

DETROIT - Record sales of its fuel-efficient Fusion helped Ford grab a bigger slice of the U.S. car market in April, even as its overall sales dropped 32 percent.

The gains could come at the expense of its Detroit rivals, which are struggling to attract buyers soured by shrinking incomes and auto bankruptcy worries. General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC report April sales later Friday.

U.S. lawmakers discuss more government power over grid

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States must develop policy allowing the federal government to lead the expansion of the electricity grid to meet any new renewable energy mandates, a key lawmaker said on Thursday.

"We can not and will not maximize the production of renewable energy in this country unless we fix the transmission problem," Democrat Senator Byron Dorgan of North Dakota said at a Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee meeting.

Giving the Power Grid Some Backbone

The U.S. needs a high-voltage transmission system to deliver plentiful energy from wind and sunshine to power-hungry cities. At least one plan has emerged.

Power to the people

It costs £45 in hardback. It has a crashingly dull cover and title. And it has been launched without marketing pizazz. But a new academic book written by David MacKay, a physics professor at the University of Cambridge, is being hailed by some as a "game changer": a text that could revolutionise popular thinking about our future energy needs and how we could supply them.

Goldman Sachs raises Suncor Energy, Petro-Canada

(Reuters) - Goldman Sachs raised Suncor Energy Inc, Canada's second-largest oil sands producer, to "buy" from "sell," citing lower operating and capital costs and a positive outlook for crude oil in the second half of 2009 through 2010.

Analyst Arjun Murti also upgraded Petro-Canada to "buy" from "sell," owing to its pending acquisition by Suncor, which was also added to the conviction buy list.

Capitalism in Wonderland

Apologists for capitalism continue to occupy Wonderland, because it is only in Wonderland that environmental problems either do not really exist or can be solved by capitalism, which can also improve the quality of life for the mass of humanity. Bjørn Lomborg, a Danish statistician and political scientist (now an adjunct professor at the Copenhagen Business School), picked up Simon’s torch, publishing his salvo aimed at environmentalism, The Skeptical Environmentalist, in 2001. Lomborg argued, for example, that attempting to prevent climate change would cost more and cause more harm than letting it happen. Lomborg’s book was immediately praised to the skies by the mass media, which was looking for a new anti-environmental crusader. Soon after the publication of The Skeptical Environmentalist, environmental scientists documented the countless flaws (not all of them inadvertent) in Lomborg’s reasoning and evidence. Scientific American devoted part of an issue to four articles by leading scientists sharply criticizing Lomborg. As a result of its serious flaws, the book was rejected by the scientific community. Yet, despite the adamant rejection of The Skeptical Environmentalist by natural scientists, all of this seemed only to add to Lomborg’s celebrity within the corporate media system. The Economist touted the book and its conclusions, proclaiming it to be “one of the most valuable books on public policy,” having dispelled the notion of “looming environmental disaster” and “the conviction that capitalism is self-destructive.” Time magazine in 2004 designated Lomborg as one of the 100 most influential people in the world; while in 2008, Britain’s Guardian newspaper labeled him as one of the “50 people who could save the planet.”

From fame to shame: The coming crisis of unecological economics

Economics, as it has been taught for well over a century, is unecological. It overlooks or explains away long run natural constraints to economic growth. Nonetheless, the penetration of physics into economic thought has made the most fundamental condition of human existence unavoidable in debates about the future:

The terrestrial sphere is thermodynamically closed.

Is Sustainable Development of Deserts Feasible?

Every year, each square kilometer of hot desert receives a solar energy equivalent to 1.5 million barrels of oil, and about 57 million TWh of solar energy falls down on all hot deserts of our planet. In contrast, the worldwide energy consumption in 2005 was as low as 135,000 TWh. The Sahara alone, with an area of 9.1 million km2, receives about 20 million TWh of heat per year, which, even with the today's 10-15 % solar energy/electricity conversion efficiency, is ten times more than the overall energy consumption in the world. This gave a rise to a lot of projects aiming at utilizing solar energy, ranging from photovoltaic batteries to power plants with sunlight concentrators. However, the direct implementation of these sun-powered technologies as separate processes is strongly hindered by the high expenses caused by the transportation of produced power, negative environmental impact on desert wildlife, and the absence of highly efficient power storage technologies, which are needed to supply power when the Sun is not shining. It should be noted that the implementation of these technologies alone is nearsighted because this solution cannot slow down desertification, bring deserts back to the stock of arable lands, and contribute to solving the problems of the growing deficit of water and food.

Solar energy system topic of upcoming public hearing

Lebanon, NY — Town of Lebanon residents will have their opportunity to weigh in on a proposed solar energy system being considered by town officials. If approved the system would be the first municipal solar system in Madison County.

Evergreen Solar posts big loss, shares dive

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Evergreen Solar Inc posted a first-quarter net loss after taking a big write-down and said second-quarter production would be below targets as the economic downturn and weak credit markets depress solar demand, sending shares down 15.6 percent.

$50 billion needed to fix rail transit, study says: Many trains, equipment, facilities of largest agencies near end of useful life

WASHINGTON - More than one-third of the trains, equipment and facilities of the nation’s seven largest rail transit agencies are near the end of their useful life or past that point, the government said Thursday. Many have components that are defective or may be critically damaged.

A report by the Federal Transit Administration estimates it will cost $50 billion to bring the rail systems in Chicago, Boston, New York, New Jersey, San Francisco, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., into good repair and $5.9 billion a year to maintain them.

Those seven systems carry 80 percent of the nation’s rail transit passengers, making more than 3 billion passenger trips a year. They also include some of the oldest subways and commuter railroads. Some of their facilities date back more than a century.

With Marathon expanding plant, more fuel is on the way

GARYVILLE, LA .— From a distance, it looks like a small city is rising out of the sugar cane fields here in this small town between New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

On closer look, it becomes clear that the dozens of cranes and towering structures that fill the sky and the armies of workers below are part of Marathon Oil Corp.’s $3.4 billion effort to make its oil refinery here among the biggest in the nation.

Expected to be completed later this year, the project will expand the 256,000-barrel-per-day refinery, now the country’s 18th largest, to a facility with a crude oil processing capacity of 436,000 barrels per day, the fourth biggest.

Is Summertime the Right Time for Refiners?

It was in October that we last visited the independent refiners, who at the time had seen their stock prices plummet on average 75% from their 2007 highs. So we were compelled to ask the question, are refiners too cheap to ignore? Although we found that many appeared cheap, none stood out as especially compelling investment propositions.

Mexico's Pemex posts $1.9 bln loss as output falls

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's state oil company Pemex posted a net loss of 27 billion pesos ($1.9 billion) in the first quarter, hurt by lower production and oil prices and a rise in its debt costs as the peso declined.

FACTBOX - Mexico shuts down to stem flu outbreak

The government has yet to specify what parts of major oil exporter Pemex will close. Some operations at the state-run company, such as gas stations, will continue as usual.

Flu heightens Mexico’s economic sickness

“They put all their eggs in one basket by relying so much on the US,” said Luis Carlos Nino, Latin America strategist at Capital Economics. A belt of plants in north Mexico that supply the US auto, aerospace, plastics, and electronics industries has been ravaged.

“Demand has fallen off a cliff, and on top of that the commodity bubble has burst. They have regarded their oil industry as the goose that lays the golden egg, spending the money instead of putting it aside in a sovereign wealth fund for a rainy day, as Chile has done with copper. It’s raining now,” he said.

Chevron’s profit tumbles as oil prices fall

HOUSTON - Chevron Corp. says its first-quarter profit fell 64 percent as it, along with competitors, was stung by lower oil and natural gas prices.

Chevron, the second-largest U.S. oil company, said Friday its profit for the first three months of 2009 amounted to $1.84 billion, or 92 cents per share. That compared with $5.17 billion, or $2.48 per share, in the quarter a year ago.

TransCanada profit falls

TORONTO (Reuters) - TransCanada Corp., Canada's biggest pipeline company, on Friday reported first quarter profit down 26 percent from the year ago, when it posted extraordinary gains.

TransCanada, which has expanded its gas pipeline network across much of North America and built up its power generation business, earned $334 million, or 54 Canadian cents a share, matching analysts' expectations.

Coal Industry

Our near-term outlook for the coal industry is neutral. Decreased demand for steel and electricity caused by a global recession has pushed global coal prices down off their highs of 2008. In the U.S., this has been perpetuated by mild weather, low natural gas prices and high coal stockpile levels at power generators.

While production cuts will help prices from falling off a cliff, these will likely impact earnings in 2009 as higher unit costs and lower met realizations shrink margins. Until the economy and investors start to see the tangible effects from the late '08 and early '09 monetary and fiscal stimulus packages put in place on a global scale, there will not be any catalysts to move stock prices in the coal space -- thus trading flat through 3Q’09.

India: 30 coal-based power plants running at critical stock level

Shortage of coal continues to play havoc with thermal power companies as 30 coal-based plants have stocks that will meet their requirements for less than seven days, according to CEA data.

Texas coastal windstorm policies may increase 5% per year

AUSTIN — Coastal residents insured by the state windstorm fund could see increases of 5 percent per year for the next three years under a bill passed Thursday by the Senate.

Water scarcity to be major issue in Asia

A Central Asia summit on how to share dwindling water resources broke down in bitter disagreement this week.

The region's five leaders meeting in Kazakhstan couldn't find any common ground on the contentious issue in one of the world's driest regions. The Asia Society's Leadership Group on Water Security is warning that Asia could see many more of these disputes in the decades to come. By 2050, as many as three out of four people around the globe could be affected by water scarcity, according to the UN.

Saudi Arabia - Experts call for greener development

(MENAFN - Arab News) Expressing concern over global warming, experts called for immediate preventive measures to minimize its effects by adopting greener technologies in a seminar held at Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry's auditorium here on Wednesday.

'Cash for clunkers' kicks in gear

WASHINGTON (CNNMoney.com) -- A congressional effort to subsidize new cars sales for consumers who scrap old ones is gaining momentum, as leaders seek to help the struggling auto industry.

So-called cash-for-clunkers legislation introduced in January aimed to encourage the purchase of more fuel efficient cars. Consumers with old, gas guzzlers could get $1,500 to $5,000 vouchers funded by the government to use toward the purchase of new cars.

The goal: reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fuel car sales. How far the legislation should go to accomplish those often competing goals has become a bone of contention on Capitol Hill.

Floating oil lake likely to curb future oil prices

LONDON/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil companies are storing a record volume of oil at sea in giant tankers as world crude supply outstrips demand, and this floating oil lake is now so big that it is likely to keep a lid on prices for some time.

Shipping analysts say around 100 million barrels of crude and about 25 million barrels of refined products, such as gas oil, are held in fleets of Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCCs) in Europe, West Africa, the U.S. Gulf and off Asian ports.

The volume of oil stored at sea has risen to record levels because the price of oil for use now is well below the value of oil for future delivery -- a market structure known as contango, typical of a bear market.

China tightens grip on rare earths

THE late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping once said: "The Middle East has oil, China has rare earths".

Now his successors could add: "And we also have Australia's rare earths".

And that means China keeps its control of the global rare earths market - and allows it to call the tune on the future of a number of industries, including electronic and green technologies.

Suniva CEO: Solar industry closer to grid parity

When it comes to the solar industry, the holy grail is achieving "grid parity” -- or being able to generate electricity with solar energy at the same cost as by burning fossil fuels.

While the industry isn’t quite there, it’s getting close, John Baumstark, CEO of Suniva Inc. told a gathering of tech entrepreneurs and investors at the ATDC Entrepreneurial Showcase on Wednesday.

Report Ignites Biofuels Debate

A new report charges that government subsidies for biofuels aren’t working and that policy makers should rethink where they spend public funds intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

White House finishes review of ethanol draft rule

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The White House has finished a review of a rule that aims to cut emissions from alternative motor fuels like ethanol, federal environmental regulators said on Thursday.

The Office of Management and Budget has completed the review of the Environmental Protection Agency's rule and "we will determine what further action to take," the EPA said in a prepared statement.

Václav Klaus: Green hysteria shackles our economic growth

I am surprised so many people in Europe, the US and elsewhere have come to support policies underpinned by hysteria over global warming, particularly cap-and-trade legislation to cut greenhouse gas emissions and subsidies for "green" energy sources.

I am convinced this is a misguided strategy - not only because of the uncertainty about the dangers that global warming might pose, but also because of the certainty of the damage that policies aimed at mitigation will cause.

Drilling of oil and gas wells is expected to plunge 41% in Canada in 2009

The number of new oil and gas wells to be drilled in Canada will drop by 41% to 10,000 this year as low prices and capital worries hammer the country's oilfield service sector, an industry association forecast yesterday. Drilling activity has plunged to the lowest level since 1999 as weak commodity prices convince oil and gas companies to husband their cash and restrain exploration budgets until higher prices return, the Petroleum Services Association of Canada said.

Is this really the start of the oil rebound?

With oil languishing around $50 a barrel, it no longer makes sense to drag mega-tonne machinery through the Canadian tar sands or sink new drills in the farthest reaches of the ocean. The colossal deepwater drills that were being rented out at $500,000 a day last year are now standing idle.

And just as cranes have disappeared from city skylines, the Mid Western plains are no longer filled with land rigs. In the US, rig counts have declined roughly 50% from their September 2008 peak levels. They’re down 8%-10% elsewhere. Faced with falling revenues, big oil is trying hard to push some of that pain on to its suppliers in the oil services industry, driving down the cost of renting rigs and refining their oil.

Yet a degree of optimism has crept into the industry in recent weeks. When oil services group Schlumberger reported a 30% drop in profits this week – a little better than Wall Street was expecting – investors sent the shares 7% higher. “This is a big bullish sign for oil services,” said the Daily Crux.

Repsol Says Planned Refinery Strike Called Off

Bloomberg) -- Repsol SA YPF, Spain’s largest oil company, said a planned refinery strike has been averted after it reached a preliminary agreement with trade unions.

Operations at Puertollano, La Coruna and Tarragona will not be disrupted, company spokesman Kristian Rix said in a telephone interview today.

Norway-U.K. Langeled Gas Pipe Said to Shut Next Week

(Bloomberg) -- The Langeled natural-gas pipeline from Norway, the U.K.’s largest source of imports, will close next week for three days of onshore maintenance, four people familiar with the work said.

Shell repairs Nigeria flowstations

ABUJA (Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell has resumed operations at flowstations feeding into its Trans-Niger oil pipeline in southern Nigeria, a spokeswoman said on Friday, two weeks after it was shut down due to a fire.

Woodside Freezes Wages, Cuts Budget After Oil Drops

(Bloomberg) -- Woodside Petroleum Ltd., Australia’s second-biggest oil and gas producer, said it will freeze salaries and has made “substantial” cuts in its 2009 budget as the global recession causes a slump in energy prices.

Uncertain economic conditions are making cost controls “critical,” Michael Chaney, chairman of the Perth-based company, said today in an address to shareholders sent to the Australian stock exchange.

Gazprom's Medvedev included in Time most influential list

NEW YORK (RIA Novosti) - Gazprom's deputy CEO Alexander Medvedev has been named in Time magazine's top 100 most influential people on the planet for 2009.

Medvedev, described as Russian energy giant Gazprom's "link to the outside world," is listed among the Builders and Titans category, which also includes U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and designer Stella McCartney.

Huaneng, Shaanxi Coal to Build Power Plant in Western China

(Bloomberg) -- China Huaneng Group, the nation’s biggest electricity producer, and Shaanxi Coal & Chemical Industry Group Co. started building two power generating units with a capacity of 1,000 megawatts each in the western province.

Climate Change and Peak Oil as an Actionable Investment Theory

Since Caps is an investment based game it would only make sense to make peak oil applicable as an investment theory. Now I’m not going to claim that I’m the first on this site to base a portfolio on these issues but I do consider it an important investment area to be cognizant of. The best way of describing the opportunity of peak oil is that demand is constantly growing as emerging markets want a taste of the good life. At the same time production is falling dramatically and that represents a phenomenal spread for investors. If oil production falls 2.5% percent a year and demand rises 3% a year extrapolated over the decades that it will take the major global economies to get off of oil the spreads only get wider. This falling oil availability along with rising demand for energy is a virtual investment sweet-spot.

Conserving forest key to fighting global warming

COLUMBUS: What happens in forests around the world will have a big effect on Ohio, its coal-burning utilities and their electric customers.

Avoiding the destruction of the global forest should be a critical strategy to fight global warming and is one of the most cost-effective and needed ways for American businesses to assist, according to participants in a recent daylong conference sponsored by the Nature Conservancy and American Electric Power.

Global warming strongly divides Christian clergy

When the Rev. James Merritt wants to talk about the environment, he does what any good Baptist preacher would do. He picks up the Bible.

"The first assignment that God gave to Adam was to take care of the Garden," said Merritt, who was president of the Nashville-based Southern Baptist Convention from 2000-02. "As far as I know, that job has never been revoked."

While most Christian ministers agree that human beings are to care for creation, they disagree on the details. That's especially true about the topic of global warming.

Southern Glaciers Grow Out Of Step With North

ScienceDaily — The vast majority of the world’s glaciers are retreating as the planet gets warmer. But a few, including ones south of the equator, in South America and New Zealand, are inching forward.

A new study in the journal Science puts this enigma in perspective; for the last 7,000 years New Zealand’s largest glaciers have often moved out of step with glaciers in the northern hemisphere, pointing to strong regional variations in climate.

Freeman Dyson and the irresistible urge to be contrary about climate change

Dyson's purpose seems to be to throw out "heretical" ideas that can then spur further debate...

"I like to express heretical opinions," Dyson said, with an impish gleam in his eye. "They might even happen to be true."

Krugman: An Affordable Salvation

Yes, limiting emissions would have its costs. As a card-carrying economist, I cringe when “green economy” enthusiasts insist that protecting the environment would be all gain, no pain.

But the best available estimates suggest that the costs of an emissions-limitation program would be modest, as long as it’s implemented gradually. And committing ourselves now might actually help the economy recover from its current slump.

Well, not a great day for many of my fellow Haligonians, as a fire reported to be fifteen square miles in size advances on the western edge of the city.

See: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/nova-scotia/story/2009/05/01/ns-halifax-fire-ev...

Click on the two video links for news coverage (as you can see in these clips, the fire was moving so quickly, a CBC camera crew had barely enough time to escape).

Best wishes to all those affected and let’s hope for rain.



Is the Albion Road, Dingle Road area impacted? The details of the reporting are a bit sketchy. Lived there for a few years. A beautiful area.


That area doesn't appear to be affected at this time. At about the 4:00 minute mark of the second video, there is a map of the evaculation/fire zone as of last evening.


Thanks Paul.

Couldn't view them at work so had to wait. I don't think Jim Nunn has changed a bit in 20 odd years :-)
Glad to hear you had rain but it sounds like it may be a hot summer.

Good reason to have a "bug-out bag," even if you're not expecting Mad Max zombie hordes...

Speaking of Mad Max, this week's Archdruid Report is a good one:

This Side of Thunderdome

Kind of ties in with Gail's post today.

I've always suspected that Greer's view of the future was the most likely, and recent events have reinforced it.

Collapse takes time. Even Easter Island, where the limits to growth were stark indeed, took decades - generations - to collapse. I think we will probably take much longer.

Some have argued that our increased complexity puts us at much greater risk for a sudden crash, but I think events have shown that that is not the case. Call it resilience, or maybe just inertia, but we tend to keep going. Complexity allows multiple modes of adaption. People feared total economic collapse last year. Tanks in the streets, grocery store shelves empty. Didn't happen. The economy is still in terrible shape, but society keeps on keeping on.

I think Greer is right about geographical variation. Some parts of the world will collapse much faster than others.

I also think areas might rebound from collapse, at least for awhile...to the point that people don't really notice the overall trend. New Orleans right after Katrina was doomer porn come to life. But it wasn't a straight shot from there to the Stone Age. Order was restored, and the city rebuilt. IMO, people who expect a hurricane to wipe New Orleans off the face of the earth overnight are wrong. That is not what collapse looks like, as Tainter has argued with numerous examples.

New Orleans' population has been falling for decades - long before Katrina. The population fell drastically after Katrina, but has rebounded some. The next hurricane won't wipe out the city. But fewer and fewer people will return after successive storms. The government will have fewer resources to help. Eventually, New Orleans will fade away...but there may be no one who remembers it being a big city and tourist destination by then.

Some parts of the world will collapse much faster than others.

This is important. We must maintain perspective when talking about collapse from our perch high up on the pyramid.

Many parts of the world have already collapsed. We just either don't hear about it in our media or write it off as a local "issue." (Anyone thinking about moving to the eastern Congo?)

Collapse takes time. Even Easter Island, where the limits to growth were stark indeed, took decades - generations - to collapse. I think we will probably take much longer.

Well, I hope you are correct but, for sure, not all collapses take decades. The Mayan collapse took about a hundred years but Enron, Bear Sterns, AIG and others took only days to collapse. I believe that a nation that is totally dependent on industry, industry that could collapse in days, could collapse in a year or less.

Chrysler is now in bankruptcy. They plan on restarting in a month or two but that may not happen. GM and Ford may be next. If that happens all the parts suppliers in the US and elsewhere would collapse at the same time. Millions are out of work and millions more will very soon be out of work.

We are a very complex society. The more complex the more likely we are to collapse if only a few of the links of complexity break.

I have stated it here before but I will say it again. I am predicting total economic collapse by 2017. That is only eight years away. I made that prediction about a year ago and I see no reason to change it now.

Ron P.

The Mayan collapse took about a hundred years but Enron, Bear Sterns, AIG and others took only days to collapse.

That is hardly a reasonable comparison. The end of a corporation is not comparable to the end of a civilization. Bankruptcy for a corporation is a name change. Sometimes not even that.

I am predicting total economic collapse by 2017.

What is your definition of "total economic collapse"?

That is hardly a reasonable comparison. The end of a corporation is not comparable to the end of a civilization. Bankruptcy for a corporation is a name change. Sometimes not even that.

I never stated that it was. My point was to show how fast industry could collapse. And if enough of industry collapses, then the total economy collapses. Bankruptcy for a corporation means writing off all its debts and hopefully starting over. Debt write-off means billions of dollars lost by stock and bond holders. This is a catastrophe for banks, financial institutions, stock and bond holders. The stockholders have already lost most of their money but the bondholders and suppliers are awaiting payment, payment that will never arrive if they declare bankruptcy.

If all three big three US automakers go bankrupt, the catastrophe will have ripple effects throughout the nation and probably the world. It will definitely not be as simple as a name change. Also, it will be unlikely that they will ever become anything remotely resembling their former selves.

There is a tipping point, a point where the unemployment rate is so high it creates catastrophic collapse of manufacturing because no one is buying anything. This in turn creates more unemployment causing total economic collapse.

By total economic collapse I mean the point where the government receives little or no revenue from taxes and can no longer can support its obligations like repayment of debts to bondholders, not to mention social security and other obligations. At this point people, like myself, begin to get very hungry. Economic collapse means government collapse and vice-versa.

I realize this is something totally unimaginable to most people. But it is a very real possibility. Nay, it is a very real probability. The only question is when.

Ron P.

I don't think it's totally imaginable to most people. I think a lot of people are in fact living it, though not Americans.

Economic collapse and government collapse may not mean societal collapse, though. At least, not as fast as Enron collapsed.

My experience of complex system failure is that there are two modes 1) degraded and 2) total failure.

Total failure is rare but happens, IMO the more complex the system, the less people understand how it works, the more likely a true 'black swan' catastrophic event will be.

Easter Island was not very complex and went into degraded mode. Zimbabwe is a better example of a high speed total failure mode, despite massive injections of aid.

And yet...life in Zimbabwe is surprisingly normal. The nightclubs and restaurants are full. They have everything, just not very much of it.

Hmmm ... sadly life is not normal in Zimbabwe despite massive aid from outside the country, more than half the population of ~13 million rely on food aid from the UN. Who will come to the aid of the rich nations in their time of need?



Not only is there 'hyper-hyper' inflation, the stock market is closed as well - those of you with shares you trade yourself take note!

Also they have a major problem with disease like Aids:


This is what I mean by a fast crash, it isn't finished yet, multiple interconnected failures - and it didn't take a hundred months, let alone years, despite all the aid!

I don't think your links disprove anything I said.

My point is that the economy can collapse while society continues more or less as always.

Yes, AIDS is a problem, but it's a problem in many African nations, that have not suffered Zimbabwe's political and economic problems.

Your point about international aid is an interesting one, and one that deserves more consideration. Cuba, often pointed to as an example of how to survive peak oil, had the benefit of international aid. North Korea, often pointed to as a failure, refused aid for a long time, even after it was clear that they needed it.

The claims that permaculture can save the world don't take into account the "insurance" that grain surpluses and the means to ship them have given the world's population. Even with the best practices, you can have a bad year. Fire, flood, disease, plagues of locusts. Without easily stored and shipped surpluses, the result will be dieoff.

OTOH, it's possible that aid may go on longer than we expect. During "the year without a summer," northeasterners did not starve, because grain was shipped via train from Ohio.

I also think a total collapse is probable. The scenario described in the site from Matt Savinar makes sense to me, although the foodindustry might not suffer that bad. 2017 ? Very difficult to predict. Could be f.i. 2014 also. How would you substantiate the year 2017 ?

Put me in the probable category, too, because of what Colin Campbell points out in this clip:

chrysler deserves bankruptcy for inventing the minivan.

Absolutely. And GM deserves bankruptcy for inventing the Escalade...

The #1 Symbol of Pre-Peak Decadence

I disagree, while the Escalade symbolizes decadence, Any Hummer particularly the H1 screams decadence squared. Go GM!

The REAL #1 Symbol of Pre-Peak Decadence

Alan from the islands


Raser Technologies develops 100MPG Hummer H3 just to spite Al Gore

That's right: last week at SAE World Congress, Raser Technologies unveiled a prototype Hummer H3 that gets 100 miles to the gallon. Insane, right? We agree. Raser partnered up with FEV to turn the famously non-environmentally sound gas guzzler around. The prototype boasts an E-REV power train engine, and three lithium ion battery packs under the rear of the vehicle. The batteries provide enough juice for about 40 miles, when the range extender starts up, providing an additional 400 miles -- averaging about 100 MPG -- before it needs to be plugged in again. The company is looking to start up low volume production by 2011, though there is no word on possible pricing at this time. Hey -- who says electric cars have to be small, tasteful affairs? Fierce! One more shot after the break.

GM and Chrysler will not completely go away. They will morph into something else, be absorbed into another entity, pieces sold, operations shrunk and people moved. Even ENRON did not fall off the earth. The pieces went somewhere, the people did not get sucked up into space by aliens. They transformed, as will we humans must do. Hard assets do not just vanish into thin air.

Ford, will be the strong player in the market until it morphs into nothingness and becomes something else. Hopefully after a few more ups and downs with their stock. I bought at $1.80, sold just yesterday at $6.00, made enough to retire on.......in just a few weeks. HA!

Ride the sled to the bottom, it's better than jumping off the cliff.

I have stated it here before but I will say it again. I am predicting total economic collapse by 2017.


For those of us not familiar with your prior prediction, could perhaps re-state the prediction and give us the reasons? In particular, why 8 years from now as distinct from 1 or 2 years, or 10 or 20 years? Why exactly 8?

Furthermore, could you say just what "total" and "collapse" mean?

Also, could you state your expertise in making predictions, and perhaps give an example or two of predictions you have made in the past that have been borne out?

Lastly, I wonder about the extrapolation from the collapse of an industry to the collapse of a country. It is logically invalid to argue from one or two instances of something to a general claim about all instances: I have seen two white swans, therefore all swans are white, is invalid and false.

Exactly my sentiment as I commented on Gail's post.

This is, for me, the single most pointless part of the debate: collapse in specific. This is because there are no definitions of what collapse is, what it looks like and what time frames help define it.

If a 1,000 years from now we all live like hobbits, is that collapse, or transition?

If a 100 years from now most nations exist within their current boundaries, the world is still largely in a growth/profit paradigm, but temps are 3C+ from pre-industrial, food production is in chaos and pop. is down a billion people, is that collapse?

If in 20 years 95% of the entire planet is living like the poor in the US's Great Depression and there is little hope of recovery in anything like the immediate future - but all systems are essentially still functioning, but at reduced levels and extents, is that collapse?

A serious effort at defining our terms and standardizing them is in order.


food production is in chaos and pop. is down a billion people, is that collapse?


Don't expect Ron to give a reason for 2017, because he can't. Nobody can.

Wildfire risk high in South, West

Wildfire experts are predicting a fierce summer fire season, particularly in drought-stricken areas of the South and West.

At highest risk are parts of Florida, Texas, California and Washington, says the National Interagency Fire Center, which released its annual forecast Thursday.

Southern Miami-Dade has been smoldering on-off for the last month or so and over the last week I-75 (Alligator Alley) across the Everglades between Ft. Lauderdale and Naples FLorida has been closed more than it was opened due to fires.

Very little rain since November 2008, but "they" are "predicting" (hoping) a wet rainy season due to a fading La Nina.

South Florida likely to see wetter than normal rainy season

Even without a tropical strike, the weather service is confident the five-month season should be slightly wetter than normal.

The main reason: La Niña, a large-scale atmospheric condition that fosters tropical storm formation, is fading.

Meanwhile, El Niño, La Niña's polar opposite, may emerge by late summer or fall.

If that's true I'd think it has to affect more than South Florida

Don't forget hurricane season is right around the corner. And it only takes one even in a reduced intensity forecasted season to ruin your days.


As a Florida resident, living less than 2 miles from the Atlantic ocean, I can attest to the fact the I'm not really looking forward to El Niño in late summer. It has been known to be associated with increased hurricane activity. I've had more than my share than my fair share of ruined days due to past hurricanes as it is. Granted we do need the rain...

Hi Paul,

Never thought I'd ever be saying this while living here, but thank God for rain!

After a bitterly cold and snowy winter, Nova Scotians are experiencing an exceptionally warm and dry spring. Temperatures in this part of the world reached (and in many localities exceeded) 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit) Monday. Broke all previous records.

Didn't think that the consequences would be so immediate: a serious drawback from unseasonable warm weather is that our usually soggy wetlands became susceptible to fire quickly. Debris from Hurricane Juan (five years ago), never cleared, has contributed to the hazard.

This is only the first day of May. Should be an interesting year ahead.

Take care,


Hi Tom,

The unusually dry weather and wind damage from Hurricane Juan were no doubt major factors in its spread and intensity; you're right, our springs are normally fairly cool and damp, but not this time around. The good news is that today's rain has helped bring the situation under control.

This tragedy highlights one of the risks of living in a heavily wooded area -- there's plenty of fuel to feed a fire should one break out and with generally limited means of egress, you may find your only path to escape cut-off (this particular fire was said to have advanced at 24 metres per minute).


Hey Paul, Heavy rain showers have helped the fire situation around Halifax since yesterday morning.

About 50 kms away, we in the St. Croix - Windsor - Avon Valley area received very precipitation last night and today. There have already been several grass fires in my neighbourhood; fortunately, none have got out of control. The fields and the woods continue to be tinder dry.

Here's praying for an absence of stray lightning strikes or pyromaniac's idle hands.

Cheers! Tom

PS: BOP, Jim Nunn has been mummified -- I swear someone used him as a case study for embalming the living. Strange, eh?

Sorry, couldn't resist.

Motor Mouth: The problem with lithium

On the pessimistic side, there is William Tahil, author of the research paper The Trouble with Lithium, who estimates the world’s lithium reserves at about four million tons. He claims the production of hybrid and electric cars will soon tax the world’s production of lithium carbonate. At the other end of the spectrum is Keith Evans, who has released An Abundance of Lithium, a report estimating there are 28 million tons of the base metal to be had, plenty enough to go around. Somewhere in the middle of these two opposing viewpoints is the United States Geological Survey’s somewhat dated estimate of 11 million tons.

There seems to be little doubt that if we converted all the world's cars to battery power, peak lithium would be a problem in just a few years. And...the price would soon be so high only the very wealthy could afford a lithium battery powered car.

Ron P.

Curiously, that story originally appeared on a UAE site a month ago. Usually, it's the other way around.

Alan Drake's plan: "A desire named streetcars."

the price would soon be so high only the very wealthy could afford a lithium battery powered car.

I think that is already the case.

Lithium is no different to oil or any other extracted commodity, telling us the URR only tells us when the lithium will run out (if we know the desired flow rate) it tells us ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about the price required to make the essential profit for the battery makers - it is the gradual lack of affordability for the consumers as the easy, low cost sources get depleted that causes the peaking of production/consumption of anything.

If lithium battery powered cars are less affordable than gasoline powered cars there will be less of them than now, maybe considerably less! That isn't BAU!

If lithium battery powered cars are less affordable than gasoline powered cars there will be less of them than now, maybe considerably less! That isn't BAU!

The funny thing is that the Prius, a.k.a. the worlds most popular hybrid (one of which I own), does NOT use Lithium batteries, but rather NiMH due to cost. So, subsitiutes exist...

Battery technology is still evolving. There are many competing technologies. LiIon is the current market leader, but that is likely to change. Ultimately, no technology will be able to compete with the low tech high energy density of the simple gasoline engine of the SUV. However, it is the SUV that will become a rarity, not battery powered transportation.

And the funny part of it is no one knows which technology will come out on top... For all we know, we could grow batteries organically in the future.

Puts a new meaning to the word 'Lemon'

But this book provides the means to figure it out:

Where numbers are used, their meaning is often obfuscated by enormousness. Numbers are chosen to impress, to score points in arguments, rather than to inform. “Los Angeles residents drive 142 million miles – the distance from Earth to Mars – every single day.” “Each year, 27 million acres of tropical rainforest are destroyed.” “14 billion pounds of trash are
dumped into the sea every year.” “British people throw away 2.6 billion slices of bread per year.” “The waste paper buried each year in the UK could fill 103 448 double-decker buses.”
If all the ineffective ideas for solving the energy crisis were laid end to end, they would reach to the moon and back. . . . I digress.

The result of this lack of meaningful numbers and facts? We are inundated with a flood of crazy innumerate codswallop. The BBC doles out advice on how we can do our bit to save the planet – for example “switch off your mobile phone charger when it’s not in use;” if anyone objects that mobile phone chargers are not actually our number one form of energy
consumption, the mantra “every little helps” is wheeled out.

helps? A more realistic mantra is:
if everyone does a little, we’ll achieve only a little.

The entire book is available in PDF from from the following URL:

I wonder what the energy density is of the lemon, and how many times you can re-charge it?

I hope you realise that the lemon is just acting as a conductor (like the sulphuric acid in a lead acid battery) separating the two battery electrodes stuck in it. :-) The electrodes just have to be two dissimilar metals, usually something like zinc and copper.

This type of battery is probably the most sensible way forward, not complex rechargeables like lithium - you would pull into a refilling station and very quickly get some new electrodes that will last several thousand miles - the refilling station reconstitutes the electrodes in their own time somewhere where large amounts of power are readily available.

Typically, the current electrical grid and houses can't quickly supply the amount of power a typical car consumes, so , massive investment in all our houses and the grid would be required for rechargable vehicles.

interesting, .9vdc per lemon, so, 10 lemons = 9vdc, what about Grapefruit?

The Prius hybrid uses lead acid batteries. These batteries are great for hybrids but are a poor substitute for lithium batteries for electric only cars. They are extremely large and take a long time to charge. The major problem with lead acid batteries is their weight. A long distance lead acid battery powered car would likely take batteries equal to half the weight of the car.

In the Prius the battery can be recharged with the alternator while running on gasoline.

The bottom line, I don't think there is any way we could have a total battery powered fleet using only lead acid batteries. But that is just my opinion and it could be incorrect.

Ron P.

Actually, the Prius uses NiMH batteries, which are less energy dense than lithium ion batteries, and hence the Prius cannot function in electric only mode for long. However the Prius batteries are extremely durable, which is useful for their role.

Actually, the Prius uses NiMH batteries..

Right, but the new improved version of the Prius uses lead acid batteries. This makes the new Prius a plug in hybrid. However they are still trying to improve things by converting to lithium ion batteries. Seems like lithium ion is the best of all possible worlds right now, until the world's supply of lithium runs dry.

100 MPG Prius with Lead Acid Batteries

Plug-in Supply is currently working on a PSI Lithium Ion Phosphate Prius+ conversion. They will use the latest batteries from Phoenix Silicon International (PSI). The chassis will provide access to the spare tire and is expected to provide 16 miles of EV mode operation and last the life of the car.

Ron P.

You still got it wrong. No factory made Prius has lead/acid (drive) batteries (yet). There are after market suppliers using them in plug-in kits. There may be hope for lead/acid in the form of the Ultrabattery combining battery and ultracapacitor.

BTW, the problem with NiMH batteries is that the patent (Chevron) for large format batteries hasn't expired and won't until 2014 and nobody want's to license it.

Don't forget the combination with supercapacitors, it will reduce the cycling on the battery and allow more braking energy to be captured and delivered.

Adding some supercapacitors, a slightly larger starter motor and battery would turn a lot of cars into low speed hybrids.

Combined supercapacitor and battery storage packs to add onto light rail vehicles would allow electric power outside of electrified areas. You could start off electrifying around existing stations, then expand the electrification at a later time.

sorry but a hybrid is as close to electric car i would want. i won't touch a li battery for a car because of this.


TrueKaiser, with due respect that is no more or sensational than bringing on open flame close to an open container with about the same volume full of gasoline. We have all got very used to driving around with a bomb (gas tank) in our cars. It should be at least as easy to prevent battery accidents and fires as it is to prevent gas tank explosions.

I suspect you have some sort of (subliminal) bias against electric cars?

Alan from the islands

Yeah, back in the day the local fire department did a demonstration at some event or other (It was either a snowmobile race or a demolition derby) what I do accurately remember was 1 gallon of gasoline in a shallow pan, burning quite nicely became a huge fireball when the firefighters hit it with the stream from a fire hose.

And the RAV4-ev continues to have its NIMH advocates as well.

(But Alan I'm with you.. Trolleys first. Bikes and Ebikes next.

Not (only) due to cost. I read that it was Toyota's decision not to switch the Prius to lithium batteries because they know about Peak lithium.

I guess I don't know enough about how the Lithium-based batteries work, but I am thinking that they don't consume the lithium, but rather make use of it as a component.

The "Peak Lithium" phrase implies that it will be gone, like burned oil is converted to other components of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Lithium just breaks down to... lithium.

Or does the process of using a lithium battery actually bond something else to the lithium (i.e. oxidation) to make it economically unfeasible to clean up?

a lithium battery in all 600,000,000 cars would demand a large % of the planet's total lithium resource. this doesn't destroy the lithium, but makes it very expensive as more cars are built.

well before the 600,000,000th car is converted, lithium would become scarce enough to make battery theft extremely profitable.

In this post in the comment section of Ugo Bardi's "Electric cars are coming to Europe" article I bring up the EEStor technology. If this company does not come out with a disruptive technology that turns the energy storage markets upside down, I view it as one of the biggest hoaxes ever. Their claims are almost too good to be true. They are so outlandish that even if they miss the mark by a wide margin they could still shake up the market. Of course their Barium Titanate chemistry is not immune to resource limits so there's that to consider as well.

In the same post, I mention Firefly Energy's Oasis batteries which are a new take on the lead acid battery that promise significant improvements in several areas of the performance of lead acid batteries.

As I've said before, if the amount of time money and effort that has been spent on improving the ICE over the past century had been spent on improving batteries instead the world would probably be a very different place. That said, I expect the improvements in battery technology, seen over the past couple of decades to continue and if someone comes up with something revolutionary (EEStor?) the pace of change could be quite rapid. The expiration of Chevron's patent on large format NiMH batteries could also lead to interesting things.

Things brings up the topic of the patent system and whether it encourages or stifles innovation. We need to look at modifications to the patent system that discourage patent trolling and the practice of large industry players buying patents that threaten their business and sitting on them until they expire. Suppose the EEStor technology is real and somebody with enough money/power felt really threatened by it. If they bought the patent and just sat on it for 25 years the result would be that significant advancements in energy storage technology get set back 25 years! There's something wrong with that picture.

Alan from the islands

Eestor has been discussed here repeatedly. For example, here.

Wikipedia also discusses some of the issues.

Color me skeptical. I don't think it's a hoax, necessarily. More like vaporware. They've been talking about it for years, but it's been all talk.

Drilling forecasts predict fewer oil and gas wells this year

The Canadian Press
May 1, 2009 at 6:50 AM EDT

CALGARY — A new drilling forecast released by the Petroleum Services Association of Canada (PSAC) on Thursday predicts even fewer oil and gas wells will be drilled this year.

PSAC says drilling in Alberta will drop by 43 per cent in 2009.

In Saskatchewan, the drilling is predicted to drop by 38 per cent while in British Columbia the drilling is expected to drop by 18 per cent.

If the declines occur, they will mark the biggest hit the industry has taken since the late 1980s.


Note: Leanan has a similar story as her lede. This source gives a breakdown of activity by Province.

Looks like Feb ethanol production is down about 80,000 barrels/day since Dec 08.


December Ethanol Production 20,342,000
February Ethanol Production. 18,120,000

Looks to me like ethanol production is down 2,222,000 barrels per day since December.


Right, I saw my error and attempted to correct it but you had already replied.

The Powers That Be are already contemplating negative interest rates. I see no reason the same concept could not be extended to ethanol production. You are just ahead of the curve, Ron :-)

Speaking of ethanol...

Corn-Based Ethanol Flunks Key Test

It's behind a paywall, but here's the summary:

Last week, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) adopted a low-carbon fuel standard that requires greater use of fuels that cause lower greenhouse gas emissions, compared with gasoline. Corn-based ethanol doesn't meet that test and won't benefit from the new standard, CARB says, because diverting corn into ethanol production increases deforestation and the clearing of grasslands. The biofuels industry has attacked the board's methodology, as well as similar conclusions in a regulation drafted last year by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that is under review by the Obama Administration.

Now - that - that info is really bad news for kdolliso.
I wonder how he is gonna counterattack that one ... I am just sitting still waiting.

The fireworks have been over at Robert Rapiers blog :-)

Gotta sober up, first. :)


In seriousness, they used a deeply flawed Indirect Land Use Model, and they know it. They're, also, catching a lot of flak over it. They've already announced their intention to revisit their findings on corn ethanol by Dec.

Even if it stood, it would just force the corn ethanol guys to do some stuff they need to do, anyway (use biomass in their power generation, fractionation, certify their corn is grown with Conseration Till techniques, etc.)

Bottom line: It's just California Politics.

Edit: CARB eyes Update of Indirect Land Use in LCFS

Both oil refiners and ethanol producers are under stress due to the low prices for liquid fuel. While oil refiners usually have the resources and experience to ride out these periods of low prices, many ethanol producers especially public companies new at the game do not. The farmer owned coop's have been though this before in a lot of cases. Sometimes the farmer owned ethanol plants ask farmers to bail them out in periods like this and they do.

It was inexperience and plain stupidity in hedging that led a local ethanol producer, Vera Sun, into bankruptcy. It had to close several ethanol plants and that is partly the reason for the drop in ethanol production since December '08.

However Valero has purchased the Vera Sun assets at about 30 cents on the dollar. The plants are now to be reopened. The new ethanol company is called Valero Energy. Some of my corn goes to it's plant at Fort Dodge, Iowa. Valero is the biggest oil refiner in the country if I am not mistaken. I believe this is the first case of an oil company investing in ethanol big time.

Here is the story:


Expect ethanol production to regain some of it's lost output with these plant re-openings.

Fertilisers 'reducing diversity'

Extra nutrients allow fast growing plants to dominate a habitat, blocking smaller species' access to vital sunlight, researchers have found.

As a result, many species are disappearing from affected areas.

Mexicans rush markets prior to 5-day quarantine

MEXICO CITY — What do you do when the government says stay home for five days? José Luis Ramírez has a plan.

"We're going to get a little drunk," Ramírez says, grinning behind his blue surgical mask, as he and two cousins fill a shopping cart Thursday with beer, rum, wine, hot dogs and Cheetos at a Wal-Mart in Mexico City.

Across Mexico, residents are snapping up DVDs, renting video games and stocking up on food for what is shaping up to be a massive five-day quarantine as the government tries to contain the deadly swine flu virus.

I guess that's good reason to keep tunafish and peanut butter under your bed. If they're declaring a quarantine, I don't think I'd want to rush to the store with everyone else.

I guess that's good reason to keep tunafish and peanut butter under your bed. If they're declaring a quarantine, I don't think I'd want to rush to the store with everyone else.

Just what I was thinking as I read the summary. Whoopie - one last chance to run out and get exposed before we sit at home for five days waiting to see if we're sick.

I just got done with a very heated argument with someone who won't trust the w.h.o. or the mexican reports and doesn't want to do a damn thing about reducing the spread of the swine flu. claims the data from mexico is sketchy because *drum roll* it's from mexico. he thinks this is not as bad as a normal flu.. if the majority of the public thinks like that in the united states we are in trouble.

Send them this:

I keep reading about a deadly pandemic, but it's not defined. Can you tell us bluntly how bad swine flu could get in Canada?
According to mathematical modelling done as part of the Canadian Pandemic Influenza Plan, a new strain such as swine influenza A/H1N1 could kill 11,000 to 58,000 Canadians in a period of about six to eight weeks. The pandemic could also result in the hospitalization of 35,000 to 138,000 people and leave 4.5 million to 10.6 million others too sick to work, which would have a devastating economic impact.

The range of impact is broad and reflects the fact that it is impossible to predict how virulent a pandemic strain might be. In a typical influenza season, 10 to 25 per cent of people get infected, because many are protected by vaccination and natural immunity. In a pandemic - where essentially no one has immunity - 30 to 50 per cent of the population would likely become ill in a short time period. But it is impossible to know the "attack rate." While these numbers can be frightening, they need to be kept in context. In a typical year, 4,000 to 8,000 Canadians die of the flu and 20,000 to 40,000 are hospitalized.


All with a little help from the American Pravda: Swine Flu Spreads to 12 Countries, Kills Fewer People Than Past Outbreaks.

Past outbreaks of what? Not the "2009 A H1N1". There's never been a previous outbreak.

Be calm. Go shopping. Buy stocks.

Bottled water, toilet paper, cat food, chicken broth, honey and bottled lemon juice will get you through quarantine when ill. I just got paid, i think we'll stock up tomorrow. Just getting over the flu I caught at a conference in California... Been stuck at home. Maybe it was the swine flu. If so, happy to work on immune resistance building....Was very bored, read OIL DRUM alot ;^)

Bottled water, toilet paper, cat food, chicken broth, honey and bottled lemon juice

I really hope you have a cat ;-)

Ahh but the big question is ...
Is the cat alive or dead when he runs out of cat food :)

Things like that are reasons why it is good to have at the very MINIMUM a few weeks of supplies on hand at ALL TIMES. Otherwise, you're forced to run out and shop with all the disease carriers when everyone rushes at once. If a quarantine were imposed this instant in my area, I would shrug, assuming the quarantine lasted less than 6 months.

~Durandal (http://www.wtdwtshtf.com)

I wonder what the point is of a 5 day quarantine for a disease that has a 2-7 day incubation period and a 7 day contagious period after onset of symptoms. Maybe this will slow down transmission a tad and allow the country to stock up on antibiotics, or get a little breather, and be able to truthfully report that the epidemic is being controlled as opposed to lying about it...

Meanwhile we got a fairly drastic document from our school district:


Note the decision to send children with temperature above 100 home to stay for at least 7 days... and 100.4 is the official definition of an elevated temperature... and all this despite recognizing that influenza is best transmitted in the day or two BEFORE symptoms begin.

This, to me, is an example of disruption of people's lives without clear justification. Research has already shown that keeping kids with respiratory symptoms home from school doesn't work to decrease infection rates. Meanwhile, we also know that washing your hands 8 times during the school day can reduce transmission by 50%. But guess which strategy is being enforced...

I think we could be so much smarter about this (thankfully not a terribly lethal illness given our context) and Peak Oil, and Climate Change, and public transportation, and pesticide use, and factory farming, but that instead, we do what is easy and "acceptable"; and what inconveniences people without a voice instead of what works to make a difference, while lying about it the whole time.

Well, they're saying it's a 1-4 day incubation period.

I guess they're trusting people who are actually sick to stay home.

I guess they're trusting people who are actually sick to stay home.

That and whether you have carriers (people who have the virus, but no obvious symptoms). Even if it
cuts the infection rate tenfold, a few days or perhaps couple of weeks of exponential growth will bring it back to where it was pre-stay-home period. I think this is more a matter of showing the people that the government has tried to do something.

Actually the source you quoted also said:

If it has been more than a week since you returned from Mexico and you aren't sick, you can relax.

It's a matter of probability, I guess.

Motivation to stay home if you get sick depends on how sick you got, I guess, as no one is willing to test you for relatively mild symptoms. Also, you are more likely to get tested if you were recently in Mexico, so we get a skewed impression of secondary and tertiary transmission. Also if you are a parent with a job, God forbid your kid has to stay out of school for a week. Better not test and hope symptoms only last a couple of days.

I am fairly reassured for now, as I am getting the sense that this is not too virulent. The "swine flu" hotline in Colorado, and my doctor's office were fairly lackadaisical when I told them my son and I have a sore throat. They definitely don't think we should stay home for a week. It's not a high alert situation.

I'm noticing, though, that given this setup - a hard-to-get test with a slow response (4-5 days in most cases, and very limited capacity), fairly common symptoms, and transmission before symptoms, we would quickly get overwhelmed by a more dangerous influenza virus.

I'm noticing, though, that given this setup - a hard-to-get test with a slow response (4-5 days in most cases, and very limited capacity), fairly common symptoms, and transmission before symptoms, we would quickly get overwhelmed by a more dangerous influenza virus.

From what I read there are two different tests. One is to determine if you have an influenza A virus (the swine err H1N1-A is of this type, but so are others), and is fast, but only catches about 50% of cases. This is said to not be accurate enough to be useful for indivdual diagnosis, but is certainly valuable for statistical tracking of the epidemic. A specific test for this virus takes several days, -and it is not unlikely that the CDC lab that does them will get backed up.

You are of course right about the capability of the health system to cope with a pandemic. Even if this new kid on the block proves to be whimp virulence wise, if the number of cases builds rapidly it could easily overwhelm the healthcare systems limited surge capacity.

I was talking about this part:

Q: What is the incubation period for the flu?

A: In most cases, infected people develop symptoms within one to four days, Blaser says.

I have a strange feeling that the spread of swine influenza might actually be under-reported. First of course is the fact that only a proportion of those sick with it actually get tested in time. Secondly is that most recover albeit slower than ordinary influenza. I think the cats out though. Stock up for it now while you can just as Leanan said. Noodle soup and pedialite, latex gloves for prevention, masks if you want. Food for a month at least (you guys should all already have that).

Strangely, I noticed something odd while driving about two weeks before swine flu was ever on the news...I saw a guy drive past me wearing a medical type mask. In anchorage. At the time I thought, that's wierd, why would he wear a mask unless he is immuno-compromised or he is afraid of catching something? Strange enough to stick in my mind. Maybe I'm just paranoid but pretty sure I've never seen that before.

On a personal note: Its possible that my sister who lives in Seattle may have contracted swine flu. She has mostly recovered but still has a mild cough. Her 2.5 yr. old son was the first to become infected and had trouble breathing. The doctor ruled out pneumonia so its possible it was a result of tissue damage. She had unbearable body aches unlike anything she ever had before. Vomiting. A fever of 101.5 after OTC medication that lasted for four days. She infected another female relative who was 3 days behind. She went to the doctor who ruled out common influenza strains. This was right before cases of swine flu was being reported. That lady still has a persistent cough and has since infected her brother. So 4 out of a possible 10 family members infected with influenza like symptoms. No deaths or hospitalization. For confirmation test must be run within the first 2-3 days of becoming infected, so that rules out most people at least until it spreads within a small social group.

This Cuomo troublemaker better be quiet before he gets the Spitzer treatment (or worse). By the way, that Holder guy Obama appointed is a real fireball-he has everyone shaking in their boots http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSTRE53T8X120090501

WTI has got wings today. Just gone through $53.50 for the first time in months. The markets must be in happy land.

It is beginning to look like pig flu does not fly.

Somethings gotta give. . . one would think that either crude inventories or oil prices will start falling.

New data out of Mexico shows a doubling in the number of known infected:
April 30th 156 reported cases 9 deaths
May 01st 343 reported cases 15 deaths

It is suggested that the flu is moving between two phases one of which is more benign than the other.

I expect the markets to reverse all of their recent gains once the scope of the flu problem sinks in. It is exactly the worse possible problem at the worst possible time.

Great example of exponential growth... Let's say that today (May 1, a.k.a. May Day) 300 people have swine flu, and that number doubles every day. What date until 1 Million have it?

Ans: May 13th.

What date until 1 Billion have it?

Ans: May 20th.

In other words, if you are the CDC and need to protect society from an outbreak that doubles every day, you have an infintesimal amount of time to protect most of your population... For another example, if 1% of your population has swine flu, you have 6 days to act before over half (64%) have it...

Another good read on exponential book is here:RIDDLE OF THE LILY PAD...

If those numbers were accurate - highly doubtful - that's a 4.3% mortality rate. It ain't Ebola, but it will spread a hell of lot further.



I pulled those numbers off a web site which is interpreting spanish language data from Mexican newspapers. The WHO has provided similar numbers in its Update #9:

Mexico has reported 397 confirmed human cases of infection, including 16 deaths. The 241 rise in cases from Mexico compared to 23:30GMT of 1 May reflects ongoing testing of previously collected specimens. The United States Government has reported 141 laboratory confirmed human cases, including one death.


The WHO numbers are reasonably accurate as they are based on confirmed test results of the infected and the dead.

What we don't know:
1) the number of cases where the sick person never reports to a medical center and therefore becomes an becomes an uncounted disease vector. In Mexico this may be high. New York is also reported to not be testing because there are too many to test and the disease appears mild.
2) the backlog of test specimens yet to be confirmed by any lab.

The World Journalism Cabal strikes again:

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - New laboratory data showed fewer people have died in Mexico than first thought from a new influenza strain, a glint of good news for a world rattled by the threat of a flu pandemic.

Mexico cut its suspected death toll from the H1N1 flu to up to 101 from as many as 176, as dozens of test samples came back negative.


Strikes me that 101 is a bigger number than 16. But I have been wrong before. And leaving out the denominator seems to be shorthand for saying "everything is hunky dory." If this is a "glint of good news" I wonder about the approaching thunderhead of really not so good news.

I was only implying it is still early in the game. However, newer posts up higher indicate accuracy might be intentionally reduced.


Continental Cuts Mexico Flights 40 Percent

Prior to the cut backs, Continental operated an average of 450 weekly flights into the country.

The airline stock index is actually moving up today ( XAL ). I am amazed that investors discount the effect of the flu on air travel. Last night NZ had 401 people quarantined to prevent further spread. Really smart, IMO, but is the government going to stop travel to America?

Why are USA taxpayers giving a 8 billion dollar "loan" to Fiat via Chrysler? Why not have the Italian Government come up with the 8 billion for Fiat to buy Chrysler?
All Chrysler plants are closed until they come out of Bankruptcy. How many people think they will be able to ram the bankruptcy proceedings through in 30 days? How long do you thing the bankruptcy proceedings will take? Will the closed Chrysler plants ever open again to produce Chrysler products?
Why is the USA Government backing the auto guarantees for Chrysler and GM but not those of the rest of the made in the USA cars: Ford, VW, Mercedes, Honda, etc..... Don't those auto companies and auto workers deserve support too?
Why hasn't the USA Government come out with a program to help all those poor dealers that are about to get cut off from Chrysler and GM and lose businesses that they have invested millions of dollars in? What about all those dealer employees that are about to lose their jobs? Aren't they as equal in the eyes of the Government as the employees of Chrysler and GM?
The inequities of this Government intervention in private business are endless (and I believe unconstitutional!)!

You didn't really think this was about "America" or about "American people" or even "American companies" or "American workers," did you?

Relax, sit back and enjoy the show. There will much more than a few "unconstitutional" pay outs in the acts to come.

Interesting comments on the grounds the "displeased secured bond holders" might use in court.

Link from someone's post on Denningers' forum.

How to Steamroll Chrysler's Bondholders

A very good summary by Douglas Baird, professor at the University of Chicago law school, who analyzes the implications of the 363 sale and the (ab)use of 1129(a)(7) of the bankruptcy code on the Chrysler bankruptcy and why the first 5 days will likely be critical. In essence, this fair and equitable treatment of the case for creditors, who will likely lob objections to the 363 asset sale immediately, will be contingent on whether Judge Gonzalez will steamroll through objections in very much the same way Judge Peck gave roughly 3 nanoseconds of consideration to every creditor objection in the Lehman case before the fastest 363 sale ever, before immediately denying it.


Power to the people

The book reviewed in this Guardian article (from the links at the top) looks pretty good. The title of the book is "Sustainable Energy - Without the hot air". It seems focussed on intelligent debate and simple mathematics rather than political positioning.

Interestingly, the whole book is available in html here

One quote the Guardian picked out -

"The amount of energy saved by switching off the phone charger is exactly the same as the energy used by driving an average car for one second."

Second your endorsement. I just finished the first couple of chapters. He presents both sound science and humour and it works.

The entire book is also available as PDF.

I third the endorsement.

A couple of quick searches showed that this book has been mentioned several times before on TOD going back at least to May of 2007. I think the online version deserves a link in the Blogroll.

First reference I saw.

My link in December.

Search 1

Search 2

where's the (tecnology)love ?

"petrobras increases gas flaring"


this method of reservoir management was invented about 1857

High noon for natural gas? Not in North America, if the recent WSJ article by Ben Casselman is to be credited.

A massive natural-gas discovery here in northern Louisiana heralds a big shift in the nation's energy landscape. After an era of declining production, the U.S. is now swimming in natural gas.

Even conservative estimates suggest the Louisiana discovery -- known as the Haynesville Shale, for the dense rock formation that contains the gas -- could hold some 200 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. That's the equivalent of 33 billion barrels of oil, or 18 years' worth of current U.S. oil production. Some industry executives think the field could be several times that size.

I don't find much recent activity on the Haynesville Shale in TOD archives.

The article then mentions technological developments that may lead us to expect other huge discoveries in these areas:

T. Boone Pickens is quoted as saying that the country is "absolutely overwhelmed with natural gas." (Not sure why he seems to be focusing so much on windmills if this is the case.)

The article refers to recent advances in NG-powered transportation as slow but happening:

Earlier this year, AT&T announced it would convert up to 20% of its truck fleet to run on natural gas, largely because it has been cheaper than gasoline in recent years. Cities including New York, Los Angeles and Atlanta have converted part of their bus fleets to run on natural gas, for air-quality reasons.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu and reported to have expressed doubts about "the practicality of retrofitting hundreds of thousands of service stations to offer natural gas."

But does anyone think that in the near to medium term Americans will choose to surrender their car keys rather than forcing their leaders to spend a few hundred billion on retrofitting?

This report scares me. It violates an article of faith that North America has been closing in on Peak NG in recent years. But if it's valid to extrapolate from this report, Mr. Kunstler's whole End of Suburbia scenario that we doomers have been feasting on may have to be postponed for a generation or more. As an inveterate doomster, I'm aghast even to imagine that my children and grandchildren could be motoring to malls in NG-powered vehicles twenty years from now.

Someone please tell me that this could not be true!

I don't find much recent activity on the Haynesville Shale in TOD archives.

You might check out yesterday's discussion:


Thanks, WT. Yesterday's conclusion, if any, seems to be that we don't know, i.e., whether or when it will be economic to get at exactly what. But it seems like the landscape has altered if there's now reason to believe that a potentially transformative amount of energy is even in some sense newly confirmed to be "there."

I look forward to reading Gail's post that will set my mind at rest that this could not be the case.

Two comments by elwoodelmore, who is a petroleum engineer, are shown below. Elwoodelmore also expressed considerable skepticism about the Bakken Formation, when the Cornucopians were debating how far above 100 Gb the URR would be. Granted, big difference between gas flow rates versus oil in near zero perm formations, but in any case, time will tell.

this haynesville boom could, i said could, become an haynesville bust. take widely spaced wells and make the assumption that well(s) on 40, 80, 160, 320 or 640 acres will perform the same as a well in an infinite acting reservoir and the boom could, i said could, turn into a bust.

public traded companys are positing such claims with nearly every analyst presentation. an analysis based on a hyperbolic decline curve could be the basis for these claims.

properly designed pressure tests would be able to identify an infinite acting and a bounded reservoir. i have doubts that a type curve analysis as presented in spe 119897 would do the trick.

contrast the 742 tcf claimed in the graphic presented below with the largest domestic natural gas field, hugoton, expected to recover 81 tcf.

9 hugotons in fractured rock with nanodarcy permeability ?

the grapic posted below claiming 742 tcf "reserves" should probably be called resource potential.

maybe this is a case where "it's all about flow rate" is the source of delusion.

There have been very few wells drilled in Haynesville or Marcellus. Haynesville wells are about 3x more expensive ($9-10 million) than Barnett and so need about 3x as much gas (6 bcf) to deliver gas at the same cost.

The cost of gas in North America has been steadily rising. Here is a chart from Credit Suisse:

From Nate's article: http://www.theoildrum.com/node/4562

It is taking our drilling industry more and more feet of drilling to produce the same amount of gas. I had a graph in yesterday's drumbeat.

What I expect will happen is that as we open up these new shale plays, the E&P industry will skim the best of the wells. That will slow the rate at which cost of gas is rising. Once the best wells are drilled, costs will take a sudden turn up. I have an article in progress which shows that non-core Barnett wells are costing $10.00 per MMbtu. So once core Barnett is drilled up, then prices are set to rise.

Now there are other factors at work on the cost of drilling. As coal and steel get more expensive, natural gas drilling costs will follow. As our society sequesters more steel and labor in ng wells, we will have fewer goods to trade for oil and other imports etc.

The horizontal technology does work. Peak gas has been delayed by a few years. How many years? That we are trying to figure out. And how long till net energy goes negative? Also not certain, but the more costs rise, the sooner it will be here.

Thanks, Jon. I now begin to see why T. Boone Pickens is focusing on wind in 2009 and look forward to seeing more of your work on the EROI issues with NG.

Hope no one minds that I reopened this discussion from yesterday.

Once the best wells are drilled, costs will take a sudden turn up. I have an article in progress which shows that non-core Barnett wells are costing $10.00 per MMbtu. So once core Barnett is drilled up, then prices are set to rise.

This is the crux of the issue, and it's creating convergent economics.

Take power: a gas-fired combined cycle plant at $1200/kW installed, burning $8.40/mmBtu natural gas (delivered) is giving us power north of 9 cents/kWh. Tack on 1 cent for a $15/ton carbon tax, and renewables start to look good.

And a 10% return? My impression was oil/gas guys were shooting for much higher than that.

Wind is growing and solar has a chance, not because they're clean, but because fossil economics aren't what they used to be.


This isn't a game changer. Perhaps you noticed the 18 years of US oil production. That's only 5mb/d. US oil consumption, until the recession, was over 20mb/d. That is, that gas, if every bit of gas could be gotten, is only about 4.5 years of US oil consumption. And, it will take how many decades to get it out of the ground?

It changes the energy curves only a little, if at all.


I noticed that too. Though Rockman appears to be knowledgeable of the haynesville shale. checkout: gohaynesvilleshale.com

but you must register, wait a day or 2 to be accepted, then your in. I am a member. but then, drilling hasn't slowed down around there either, however, oil and gas companies are still there, securing lease rights for future drilling. it was mentioned in the Wall Street Journal a day or 2 ago.

U.S. Gas Fields Go From Boom to Bust

good article! Haynesville Shale has big expectations.

Someone please tell me that this could not be true!

It could not be true.

Gail did a post in the past week which examined the supply of NG and the reduction in drilling due to low prices and what this foretells for the future. Search on her name or NG and it should come up.

Could you provide a link to Gail's post? Thanks.

I'm not sure Helot, but this might be the NG post BOP is referencing. It's actually by John Freise and posted by Gail.


Thanks. I saw this article earlier, but it did not seem to directly address the crucial EROI question (though Jon did mention in a comment to his own piece that he's working on it).

So I remain in fear of a quasi-neo-cornucopian future until someone can present a convincing analysis of how EROI on the Haynesville discovery (or comparable discoveries in these huge shale areas) could never prove significantly positive.

Actually it was Nate's Red Queen Post. Apologies to Nate and Gail.

David Hughes also had an excellent post on the Canadian NG situation which bears on many of the same issues:


Thanks, BOP. Nate says at the top of that article that Hughes was being too pessimistic on EROI in the Canadian case. It looks as if that may have been largely due to exploiting progressively increasing numbers of ever smaller pools.

Jon notes today that very few wells have been drilled at Haynesville. So, in terms of EROI, that may beg the question of how big the Haynesville pools are likely to be. Do we have any data with which to forecast that or is something we just have to wait and see?

Actually these are the links to Nate's work:


The 4562 node has links to other posts on NG.


I'm sure this is "Commodity 101" but my conclusion is that the 'cyclic' time of nGas sits somewhere between Agro-commodities at one end of the spectrum (months, years) and Oil at the other (years, decades).

There's probably plenty of nGas available -just not at the current prices (hence massive shut-down of rigs we see).

Prices will soon pick up IMO. I'm 'aboard' the nGas investing train, nice little pop today...


Natural gas transportation is alive and well for fleet vehicles. Check out the Natural Gas Vehicle America web site. http://www.ngvc.org/

I always wondered why the Pickens plan did also include a push for biogas? There much me a lot of cow poop in the US, and the potential for growing switchgrass seems pretty huge. Also biogas and wind could share a grid connection and improve the reliability of electricity production.

Also if someone can cheaply mass produce a 20kW efficient natural gas engine, it can be both a domestic CHP unit, a plug in hybrid range extender and a motorbike engine.

According to this high pressure injection of natural gas into a diesel engine will give efficiency levels over 40% with NOx levels half that of a normal diesel.

Most farms are not adjacent to natural gas pipelines to make biogas feasible.

Windpower conference Monday in the Windy City:


A Little Humor
(Greg Jeffers)

I received this from Steve in Sarasota:

Humor worth passing along...

Here is the Washington Post's Mensa Invitational which once again asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition.

Here are the winners:
(Three are shown)

5. Bozone ( n..): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.

11. Karmageddon : It's like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's like, a serious bummer.

14. Dopeler Effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.

Scornucopians = those who look down on realists while ascribing magical properties to technology.

Cornucoupians = Obama will save us all!

Deniersh = Those so drunk on the power of climate denial to prevent any mitigation efforts, they have forgotten their position is pure B.S.

Renewkables = Those who believe nuclear power can save us all by, like, next week.

Renewbables = Those who believe "renewable" power can save us all by, like, next week.

Dodomers = Doomers who think humanity is going the way of the Dodo, like, next week.

Doomerts = Doomers who read too much Dilbert and think everyone else is stupid and incompetent.

Peakishts = Deniersh + Dodomers.

TODears = The Staff. (Well, some of them. He-he...)

ELPS = Little imaginary people that are prepared (economizing, localizing, producing) for TEOTWAWKI.

EELP! = The sound people make when they first realize their life is forever going to change to an ELP existence.

ELMA = Export Land Model Association, a.k.a. The West Texas (and Khebab) Fan Club.

Peak Boilers = Those doing a slow burn waiting to be proven right about Peak Oil.

Passive Hauts = Those who live in passive solar, massively insulated homes that only the wealthy can afford.


FEMAN = A.K.A. Heckuvajob Brownie.

Dumbya = A.K.A 43.

It looks like the Chinese are converting their Dollar Holdings into something that will actually be of use in the decades ahead:

From article above:

"THE late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping once said: "The Middle East has oil, China has rare earths".

Now his successors could add: "And we also have Australia's rare earths".

And that means China keeps its control of the global rare earths market - and allows it to call the tune on the future of a number of industries, including electronic and green technologies....But these elements have many military applications as well, which gives a political and strategic dimension to the announcement today that China Non-Ferrous Metal Mining will become the majority shareholder in Lynus Corp (LYC), a company which has the Mt Weld project in Western Australia, said to be the world’s richest undeveloped deposit of rare earths. The Chinese will commit a total of $500 million to Lynas, the first tranche being $US286 million to get Mt Weld into production at the rate of 10,500 tonnes a year of rare earth oxides.

-Copper and other real 'stuff' is also being stockpiled, meanwhile the US and the rest of us spend our Trillions on bailing out the banks...


"meanwhile the US and the rest of us spend OUR Trillions on bailing out the banks..."


But they don't seem to have an appetite for T-bills any longer.

China has 'canceled US credit card': lawmaker


Maybe, just maybe, the Chinese weren't making the kind of money in Jan/Feb that they were earlier? It's not like China is exactly immune to the global depression.

-Copper and other real 'stuff' is also being stockpiled, meanwhile the US and the rest of us spend our Trillions on bailing out the banks...

IMHO, this is a brilliant move on China's part. What they are doing on a grand scale is shorting the dollar and going long on commodities. This reduces their huge exposure to the dollar without dumping their T-Bills on the market and rocking the boat.

IIRC, they have also done a oil deal with Venezuela that does not involve the USD. Sorry, but I can't find details, or what currency(ies) were used.

Note to doomers: On a personal level, this is the same as converting your paper into tools, gold, seed and PV panels. OTOH, if you are not flush, it will soon be a great time to borrow to get what you need, and let inflation pay for it. If China sees the writing on the wall, who am I to argue?

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.

Looks like we'll come out on the other side with a brand new superpower. Sorry America :-(

Alan from the islands

PS. I've been telling people this for years, China is going to be THE next big superpower.

Since China slipped into net importer status, their net imports increased at a pretty impressive rate--up at +28%/year since 1993 (as of 2008, EIA). Looking at the past 10 years, their rate of increase actually "slowed" to about +16%/year. Of course, the most recent data do show a decline relative to last year.

From the Energy Export Databrowser:

But they are almost entirely "energy independent" when it comes to coal and coal is a much bigger part of the energy consumption.

But they are showing the same kind of rapid net export decline in coal exports, on a BTU basis, that they showed in oil exports. The EIA shows their net coal exports declining from 2.19 quads (quadrillion BTU's) in 2001 to 0.51 quads in 2007, a six year decline rate of -24%/year.

The BP Statistical Review data show them switching from coal exports to coal imports through 2007. But the rate of change of exports/imports is pretty meaningless without knowing how much they produce and consume overall.

According to the BP data, their 2007 imports were only a tiny fraction of all the coal they use. For all practical purposes, they are energy independent with respect to coal:

The net export number coal is domestic production less consumption, all in BTU's. My point is that their net export trajectory for coal is very similar to the accelerating net export decline rate that they showed for oil, and China was energy independent with respect to oil, until they weren't.

China's Net Oil Exports/Imports:

Net Coat Exports (Trillion BTU's; 2007 down to 512):


So basically, China is following the advice of my mother and every other mother of her generation. "Put some money away for a rainy day" and "Don't bite off more than you can chew".

Funny thing that, common sense seems to work much better than CDOs, CDSs and stratospheric leverage. It's unfortunate that women have to grow a pair and get testosterone injections before they are taken seriously in politics.

I understand that most of the Chinese Politburo are Engineers. Most of the Presidents and Prime Ministers in America and Europe are Lawyers.
Lawyers, Doctors, Engineers

Rare earths and thorium are being put to one side in tailings in Australian uranium mines. The Chinese resource grab is a worry but perhaps it is no worse than US, Brit and Japanese buyouts since WW2. A nickel mine and a rich silver-lead-zinc mine up the road from me have been bought by Minmetals of China. Another Chinese firm Chinalco wants to buy a large stake in miner Rio Tinto. However Minmetals and Chinalco are really agencies of the Chinese government.

The danger is setting low prices for concentrates exported to China then perhaps replacing middle management staff.

Baker Hughes:

Natural Gas Rig Count Drops by 1 rig from 742 to 741. No drop in the number of horizontals (more productive shale gas rigs).

Smith Stats:

Shows that 56 rigs are rigging down and 35 are rigging up. So next week we are likely to see another drop.

I don't think we are at the bottom yet.

The fall in rig count is finally translating into lower US crude oil production and soon it will lower natural gas production. Our high inventories mean this won't be an issue in the short-term, but we'll see what happens by late summer...



First Solar profit jumps as costs fall

This contrasts sharply with the story on Evergreen in this DB. Could we be seeing the beginnings of a shift in the market, away from crystaline PV technology to the cheaper thin film technology? Looks that way to me. How else would you explain the difference in outlook for these two companies, competing in th same market?

Nanosolar seems to be doing OK too!

Alan from the islands

If you sold a solar array and air source heat pump together, you could wire the solar panels straight into the compressor on DC/DC and not have to have the cost of the grid tie equipment and inverter. Since it would offset peak cooling demands it would have a high value to a utility, and they might meet some or all of the investment costs.

1kW of solar through a heat pump would deliver ~10-20 kWh of heat into the building (~4-7kWh / day and COP of 3) over a year that would cover the buildings heating requirements, should pay back within a couple of years, less if the utility meets some of the costs.

The compressor will have to have a wide rage of acceptable voltages. I have the 12VDC 130 watt panels and each puts out 17.6 VDC @ 7.39 amps in bright sun. So a 1300 watt 10 panel system would have a max voltage of about 176 VDC at 7.39 amps. I have to use a voltage controller on my three panel system to charge 36V batteries.

That's hard to say, Alan.

First Solar currently has manufacturing costs that are low enough to make up for its lower efficiency (~10% vs. almost 20% among polysilicon producers). If the price of polysilicon on the spot market drops below $70 per kg (from today's $80-$100), polysilicon-based solar module producers may maintain their prominence in the solar market above 75%.

So, yes - thin film producers are taking advantage of the still high price of polysilicon (~$80 per kg from ~$50 in 2004 to $200+ in 2008). But the ample supply of polysilicon in 2009 (and resulting lower prices) should help Sunpower, Evergreen, and others keep First Solar from completely taking over.

What do others think?

-Dennis of SETenergy.org

Regulators Shut Down Silverton Bank

Federal regulators shut down Silverton Bank in Atlanta on Friday, a move that could shake the already fragile condition of hundreds of other banks in the Southeast.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. estimated the failure would cost its deposit insurance fund $1.3 billion. Silverton's condition was so poor that the FDIC could not find a buyer.

With $4.1 billion in assets, Silverton is the fifth largest bank to fail since the financial crisis intensified in 2008. Its impact could be profound. It provides services to one out of every five banks in the country, and its customers, depositors, and investors are all banks. It did not take deposits from the general public or make loans to consumers.

Some Georgia bankers argued to FDIC officials that Silverton was actually "too big to fail" because they said that its collapse could take at least 8 to 12 banks down with it. Roughly 400 banks are investors in Silverton Bank, and it clears payments and participates in loans with more than 1,000 lenders. It is the largest bankers' bank in the country, with $3.2 billion in assets.

Here's an article from CNN, for those who don't have WSJ subscriptions:

Major wholesale bank shuttered

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Regulators Friday seized control of a wholesale banking operator that served 1,400 other lenders across the country.

Regarding the upthreads of collapse and of China, there is an interesting interview on Charlie Rose with Joshua Cooper Ramo, who just penned "The Age of the Unthinkable"


IMO, he doesn't go far enough with the ramifications and he admits that he is short on solutions but he does stress that old solutions to new problems aren't going to cut it.

I did like two of his proposals; A Department of National Resiliency and a National Skepticism Council. Perhaps Richard Heinberg could head up the former and Colin Powell could head up the latter.

He's no Taleb, but worth a watch.

These are the people running the US right now.

Of course, living in Texas, I'll happily accept Hillary's admission that we are not part of the United States of America. Just stop taxing me and we'll call it even.

Morons. The entire "beautiful people" crowd now occupying the places of power in this country are simply idiots and corrupt idiots at that. You know, I didn't think that there could be an administration more stupid, more venal, and more corrupt than the Bush administration. Yet here in the first 100 days, the Democrats have proven that they can be even worse in every category. Amazing. Simply amazing.

And these are the same people that some of you here expect to craft a serious energy policy? What a laugh. Ten years ago behavior this pathetic would not even have made it onto SNL yet now it's real. Demopublicans and Republicrats - two sides of the same corrupt and ignorant coin. Sorry, I'm going to stay on track with the Native Americans I know. Their planning seems far more realistic than anything coming from the looney bin on the Potomac.

And here is one of the people being governed.


Sorry, I just couldn't resist :-)

Sorry, but that's a pretty shallow dig my friend. I personally find it somewhat amusing that today is the 6th anniversary of GWB's photo-op aircraft landing. Mission accomplished, indeed. If you have a hard time seeing differences between the last 100 days and the last 8 years, you may want to have your vision checked.

Sorry, I'm going to stay on track with the Native Americans I know. Their planning seems far more realistic than anything coming from the looney bin on the Potomac.

I'm curious about what sort of planning you are talking about. I live on a reservation in Washington state, though I'm not Indian, and I'm not seeing much of that around here. It would be interesting to hear the Native American perspective on all this, since to many of them a collapse of the white man's civilization is no doubt considered long overdue. In my darker moments of speculation, I really imagine this to be the beginning of a total collapse of the era of European dominion over the planet that began 500 years ago, and which probably won't end pleasantly for us or our children. This post-peak world is going to shake civilizations to their foundations, and it's not clear that non-native America has a very stable one on which to weather the cataclysms compared to more ancient nations of the world like China, Iran or various native tribes. We may see a huge "white flight" to places like Australia and New Zealand as things deteriorate, and the Natives may be there at the airports to help us load our luggage. To me tribal issues are a key part of the peak oil challenge, though it is usually left unsaid and is perhaps too unpleasant for most here to contemplate.

I doubt you will hear a Native American speaking on these issues.

They did speak very much during the Indian wars as they observed us taking their land and killing them as we did. Those speeches can still be read if one wishes a glimpse into how they felt about losing something.Something that sustained them and we took in order to pillage and rape and now we bemoan that and wonder 'What Would They Say'. This is just to ironic for words.

20,000 yrs they lived on this soil and in a short breath we took them and it to what we now see before us. And we called them 'savages'!

Jack Page.The 20,000 Year History of American Indians

Airdale-of the mixed breed Natives that I speak to here , most will not speak much at all. Deep down they are still angry I think. The Trail of Tears passed right thru here.

I think you are mostly right airdale - that one won't here much from the Native Americans. I think most of the Natives have 'acclimated'.

The only exception might be if you meet one of the Militants.

In '91 I visited Pine Ridge with a friend. She had been an abuse counselor there a few years previously. The Militants were visible but only cautiously trusted by the Native friends of my friend.

'91 was a long time ago, in some ways.

Hello TODers,

Tiger Woods makes TIME Magazine's 100 Most Influential People list
Let's hope Tiger uses his influence to lead the plowing of golf courses into veggie plots or just simply returning the land back into a nature preserve...

The Future

As the world's economy turns, those in the golf industry will be faced with difficult decisions about how to survive, let alone thrive.

National studies point to a glut of golf courses in some parts of the country and to a stagnant amount of play since 1990. The National Golf Foundation reports that 10 to 15 percent of private clubs are "at risk" because their membership has dropped nearly one-third.

No plans for doomed luxury golf course

A WORLD-class 18-hole golf course in Dublin 15 will not be redeveloped following the shock announcement that it is to close at the end of this year.

A spokesperson for Luttrellstown Castle Golf Resort, which reopened three years ago after a e20 million facelift, is financially crippled and is “no longer sustainable”.

“There has long been concern in relation to the future and sustainability of golf courses throughout the country as a result of the economic downturn.

White Hawk CC owner appeals to homeowners for financial bailout

In move that shows the growing desperation in some quarters of the golf course industry, the owner of luxurious White Hawk Country Club in Crown Point, IN, made an appeal last night to homeowners from the club’s upscale residential community in an attempt to save his course and its operations.

Involved parties and an employee who requested anonymity said Switzer asked homeowners to pay 48 cents for each square foot of their houses. A 5,000-sf home would pay $2,400...Switzer told homeowners the golf course losses were $500,000 in 2006, and is currently losing $600 a day.

The Chosen One


..Regard the 64-year-old African-American father, arm upon the superstar's shoulder, right where the chip is so often found, declaring that this boy will do more good for the world than any man who ever walked it. Gaze at the 20-year-old son, with the blood of four races in his veins, not flinching an inch from the yoke of his father's prophecy but already beginning to scent the complications.

..Not the promise of talent, but the bigger promise, the father's promise, the one that stakes everything on the boy's not becoming separated from his own humanity and from all the humanity crowding around him.

"Tiger will do more than any other man in history to change the course of humanity," Earl says.
Now that Tiger has two offspring: Will Tiger fulfill his Father's prophecy?

EDIT: for one more weblink from my Asphaltistan

..There are plenty of sellers of golf courses, few buyers and no one is lending money for golf real estate, said Jeff Woolson, managing director of golf properties for CB Richard Ellis in Carlsbad, Calif.

..Arizona's market is also distressed. Demand for golf has not been keeping up with an abundant supply of more 200 courses in the Valley.

Schott addressed golf industry executives Wednesday at a National Golf Foundation business symposium in Chicago.

"When the housing market tanks, then suddenly the golf course becomes an expensive amenity," he said of residential golf course communities. "You're going to see a lot of golf courses closing this year."

Hello TODers,

Recall my prior postings on Indonesia and their desire to build strategic reserves of I-NPK plus ramp O-NPK:

Indonesia's fertilizer scarcity will be overcome in the next five years, along with the government projection of a Go Organic Year in 2010.

..To overcome the problem, he said, efforts are being made under the Go Organic program to reinvigorate organic fertilizers like the traditional farmers had done in the 1960s.

"It is worth recalling that chemical fertilizers are harmful to soil. Right now, the organic substances in the land in East Java is in a minus-2 condition, while ideally it should be plus-2. To correct the land structure, organic fertilizers would be needed," he said.
I wish these people the best of luck as this will be a monumental task. Have you hugged your bag of NPK today?

EDIT: If only the US leadership could be as far-sighted as the leaders of Indonesia. Tiger Woods is a Buddhist as his Mom is from Southeast Asia [Thailand]:


Anybody know anything about 3D seismic surveys? i have a question. how much square feet can be analyzed on a 5 lb charge/explosion?

the hole is 4 inch diameter, 60 feet down.